Njabulo Ncube Chief Political Reporter
. . . As envoy prepares to brief Security Council on visit
UNITED Nations official Jan Egeland is next week expected to brief the
Security Council on the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe as tensions soar
between the world body and Harare, which has launched a bellicose tirade
aimed at the relief coordinator who visited the country last week.
This would be the second time, this year alone, that Zimbabwe has come up
for discussion in the Security Council. In July the country barely survived
attempts to put it on the agenda after UN envoy on human settlement issues,
Anna Tibaijuka, produced a report condemning the government's demolition
campaign, which she described as a "disastrous venture" that had left about
700 000 people homeless while up to 2.4 million were indirectly affected.
Zimbabwe disputes these figures as grossly exaggerated.
At the time when some members were pushing for the Zimbabwean crisis to be
thrust on the Security Council agenda, Russia, China, Algeria and Tanzania
blocked the move. In the end, the Security Council received a briefing from
Egeland, who was labelled a "hypocrite and liar" by President Robert Mugabe
last week following his unflattering assessment of the government's
reconstruction programme in the aftermath of widely condemned slum
demolitions, has already briefed UN secretary-general Kofi Annan on what he
termed a 'heart-breaking' humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.
UN sources said Egeland, who spent four days in Harare and Bulawayo
assessing the impact of the humanitarian situation in the wake of the
government's Operation Murambatsvina, has been given December 19 as the
tentative date to address the Security Council, the most powerful decision
arm of the world body.
The ruling ZANU PF conference last week resolved to direct government not to
entertain any more UN envoys, charging that the two envoys sent by Annan to
assess the housing crisis "were not his own" but were serving British
President Mugabe accuses the British government of plotting to unseat him
for redistributing land to landless blacks. The British government denies
this and, in turn, accuses President Mugabe of human rights abuses and
mismanaging the economy and trying to blame this on a non-existent bilateral
"Harare might think it's a small matter but the issue is to be taken matter
but the issue is to be taken to the UN Security Council. Annan has been
briefed and I can confidently tell you the UN boss is not impressed by the
statements attributed to the Harare authorities," said the source.
"A date for Egeland to brief the UN Council has been suggested. I think the
majority of the UN Security Council members have agreed to put the item on
Upon returning to the UN headquarters last Thursday, Egeland reported a
measure of progress with Harare on expanding food relief and AIDS care but
was critical of President Mugabe's refusal to accept tents as temporary
shelter for thousands of homeless victims of the government's clean-up
Egeland went on to report that the situation in the country, which he
described as serious, was worsening and that it would take the cash-strapped
government "decades" to provide permanent structures for thousands of
"It is incomprehensible that they tore down tents which we put up in
October," Egeland told the UN press corps, adding that President Mugabe had
rejected tents because he believed they gave an impression "that there is a
crisis in the country."
"I tried to explain that we use tents in Europe, we use (them) in North
America, we use (them) all over Asia, and it is the first stage in a
three-stage shelter programme."
The subsequent phases would see the erection of pre-fabricated temporary
shelters and then permanent construction.
Egeland insists he has always been frank in his discussions with
"It's always a principle I have that I am frank and open with the government
responsible as I am with the media. We stand by Anna Tibaijuka's report from
President Mugabe's government has refused to accept the findings of the two
UN envoys sent by Annan, insisting that the UN boss himself visits the
Njabulo Ncube and Nelson Banya
Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown . . .
"HUMAN rights and fundamental freedoms allow us fully to develop and use our
human qualities, intelligence, talents and conscience to satisfy our
spiritual and other needs.
It follows, therefore, that the denial of human rights and fundamental
freedoms is not only an individual and personal tragedy but also creates
conditions of social and political unrest, sowing seeds of violence and
conflict within and between societies and nations," said President Robert
Mugabe on April 20 1989. He was addressing the second judicial colloquium on
the domestic application of international human rights norms, held in
Ironically, President Mugabe's government, which has presided over the
decline of Zimbabwe's political and economic environment, seems to have
resolved to clamp down on individual liberties as a means of heading off
potential social and political unrest, typically precipitated by
deteriorating economic circumstances.
Recent developments, which saw the government confiscating travel documents
belonging to independent newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube and opposition
politician Paul Themba Nyathi, indicate how personal liberties have come
under siege from the authorities, who have virtually put the country under a
state of emergency.
The state has put together a list of tens of Zimbabweans whose movement it
seeks to proscribe "in the national interest" giving further confirmation
that personal liberties have come under siege in Zimbabwe.
Leading government critics, including Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
president Morgan Tsvangirai, lawyer Beatrice Mutetwa and journalist Basildon
Peta, are believed to be on the government's list of persons whose
passports, according to a leaked government document, are targeted for
ZANU PF used its technical two-thirds majority in parliament to push through
controversial amendments to the constitution, making it possible for the
government to restrict the movement of persons in "the national interest or
in the interests of defence, public safety, public order, public morality,
public health and public interests and the economic interests of the state."
Previously, Section 22 of the Constitution could be derogated in the
interest of defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public
health. The inclusion of national interest and the economic interest of the
state has drawn widespread criticism, not least because of ZANU PF's
parochial view of these tenets, says prominent lawyer and opposition MDC
legislator Tendai Biti.
"The new concepts of national interest and economic interests of the state
have found recent currency from the ruling party as it seeks new pillars of
legitimisation. They are subjective nebulous political terms as opposed to
legal concepts that will very much be used to justify all kinds of
encroachments on the right to freedom of movement," Biti said.
Biti argues that the 17th amendment, like all before it, does not conform to
the basic tenet of constitutionalism - loyalty to the concept of limited
governance and individual rights.
"The constitution must exist as a document that curbs arbitrariness and at
the same time guarantees the enjoyment of individual liberty.
"The constitutional amendment is not loyal to these two principles and, like
previous constitutional amendments, it abandons these basic liberal
conceptions. In so doing it does not mean that it embraces any objective
nationalist cause. On the contrary, its ethos and celebration is crude power
and autocracy," Biti added.
Independent analysts are agreed that the latest crackdown on government
critics shows President Mugabe remains insecure despite a tamed opposition
which is at war with itself.
President Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF controls both houses of parliament
following two electoral victories this year, but the renewed crackdown on
journalists and government critics betrays the unease within government.
Although the Zimbabwe government finally managed to lift the state of
emergency, which had been in place since 1965 when Ian Smith's Rhodesian
Front government infamously made a unilateral declaration of independence,
subsequent amendments to the constitution and allied pieces of legislation
retained certain aspects meant to quell dissent and close down democratic
The state of emergency gave government authorities widespread powers under
the Law and Order Maintenance Act (LOMA), including the right to detain
persons without charge.
The past five years have seen the promulgation of laws that have
progressively whittled down citizens' rights in the country. The Public
Order and Security Act (POSA) of 2002, which replaced an equally sinister
LOMA and the deceptively titled Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act, under which no less than four newspaper titles have been banned
and several journalists arrested, are the clearest evidence of this.
Last year also saw the passing of a controversial law which allows the
government to take over "insolvent" firms indebted to the state. This law,
commonly known as the Mawere regulations, was used to pave the way for the
state to effectively take over assets belonging to businessman Mutumwa
Mawere, who has fallen out with the ruling elite in Harare. The Criminal
Procedures Law was also amended to allow the police to detain suspects in
cases involving economic crimes for up to 21 days without presenting them in
In May, the government instituted countrywide slum clearances, which were
condemned by the United Nations envoy on human settlement issues, Anna
In her report, Tibaijuka stated that Zimbabwe was in a "virtual state of
emergency" following the demolitions, which left about 700 000 people
homeless and indirectly affected 2.4 million others.
The journalistic fraternity was particularly unnerved by the authorities'
decision to target Ncube - a former editor of The Financial Gazette and the
Zimbabwe Independent, who now publishes the latter title as well as the
Standard and South Africa's Mail & Guardian.
Ann Cooper, the executive director of the New York-based Committee to
Protect Journalists (CPJ), said her organisation strongly condemned the
government's latest strong-arm tactics to muzzle the Press and civic society
"The existence of this list is an affront to basic rights, including freedom
of expression and freedom of movement. This is nothing short of a witch-hunt
against those courageous few who still dare publicly criticise President
Robert Mugabe's regime and its repression," said Cooper.
Rashweat Mukundu, the director of the Media Institute of Southern Africa,
said his organisation deplored the continuing closure of the little
democratic space left for civic society and the media.
"It is an intensification of repression by the ZANU PF government," said
Mukundu, reacting to the first seizure of travel documents. "What we see is
an abuse of state resources and power through the 17th Constitutional
Amendment. When you take passports from a publisher, independent journalists
and opposition politicians, the message is clear that you must not say
anything the ruling party sees as undesirable. It's clear ZANU PF does not
cherish democracy and is not prepared to entertain people with divergent
views," said Mukundu.
The European Union said Harare's move to seize passports violated the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights which grants everyone "the right to
leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
Any withdrawal of a passport prevents freedom of movement and is in breach
of the Declaration. We have repeatedly expressed concerns about human rights
in Zimbabwe and called on the government to respect individual rights, which
include free expression and free movement."
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
DEPUTY Agriculture Minister and ZANU PF MP for Mhondoro Sylvester Nguni,
Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma and one Albert Washaya, have joined in the
fresh wave of farm seizures by occupying a prime farming estate belonging to
listed agro-exporter Ariston Holdings.
Information pieced together by The Financial Gazette this week revealed that
the three have laid a claim on Kent Estates, a 10 000 hectare farm in Norton
under the renewed land seizures being backed by the governing ZANU PF party.
The three are alleged to have produced allocation letters signed by the then
Lands and Land Reform and Resettlement Minister John Nkomo in March 2005 to
the proprietors of the farm, ordering Ariston to leave one of the richest
agricultural areas in the country. The agro-processor has been operating on
the farm for 15 years.
Zvoma is claiming 940 hectares, Nguni 780 hectares while Washaya is taking
hold of 600 hectares.
"Those who are connected have big tracts of land," sources close to the new
invasions said this week.
The other offer letters in the possession of another group of invaders,
which includes a man only identified as Shonhiwa, are dated September 2005.
Ariston, one of Zimbabwe's largest cut flower, tea and coffee producers, are
leasing Kent Estate from Zimco, a Belgian firm for 50 years.
Zimco's investments are exempted from forced seizures under the Bilateral
Investment and Protection Agreement (BIPA).
The officials' embarrassing actions come just weeks after central bank
governor Gideon Gono and Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa condemned the new
wave of farm invasions. Gono and Murerwa, who are attempting to right
Zimbabwe's six-year old economic crisis, say the invasions will negatively
affect next year's harvests and imprison Zimbabwe in an infinite food
An attempt to show the occupiers a lease agreement which exempts the farm
from seizure, has proved ineffective. Ariston has also shown the invaders an
agreement the produce and flower exporter signed in 2002 with Agriculture
Minister Joseph Made in which it ceded 4 500 hectares to the government to
parcel out to A2 and A1 farmers and asked them to take up that land which is
only farmed by a handful of A1 farmers. However, they rebuffed the offer,
insisting that their subdivisions are in the place where Ariston is
Zvoma, who is in Botswana attending a SADC Parliamentary Forum meeting
yesterday, confirmed moving into Kent and rebuffed Ariston's offer.
"We have no mandate to do our own land reform," Zvoma said yesterday.
He claimed that Kent had been acquired by the government long back for the
purposes of resettlement and accused Ariston of possessing other farms.
"They have a lot of farms," Zvoma alleged.
Sources said the invaders at Kent Estates, which recently introduced the
Richel computerised greenhouse project that regulates and monitors
temperature and humidity on horticultural products, were being driven by
greed in their annexation of a productive farm whose export value is
estimated at US$1 million a year.
"It is just greed and this is taking out emotional thinking," sources said.
"The invasion is causing so much uncertainty among the workers."
Sources alleged that Zvoma, who they believed had been growing tobacco at a
farm in Raffingora, had told them "hakuna mvura" (there is no water to
irrigate crops) while in subsequent dialogue he insisted that his farm was
allocated to someone else.
Zvoma confirmed owning the Raffingora farm but said he had surrendered it
for the more lucrative Kent Estate.
"The place wasn't suitable," said Zvoma. "So I applied to be relocated to a
different place that is suitable for the kind of activities that I am
pursuing. We discussed with Ariston for a smooth transition and I will be
moving in immediately when I arrive from Botswana tomorrow (today).
Nguni was recently quoted in the media admitting that the country had run
out of food because land seized from whites was given to amateurs with no
"passion for farming."
Yesterday, the minister also admitted claiming entitlement to Kent. "I have
been offered land at Kent Estate," said Nguni in a terse response.
On allegations that he had previously been allocated a piece of land where
he was undertaking horticultural projects, Nguni said he had long
disinvested from the project.
Frantic efforts were being made by Ariston executives to have an audience
with State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa before he leaves for China
today. Mutasa, who is widely considered the most powerful cabinet minister,
is also in charge of the extra portfolio of Lands, Lands Reform and
Kent is the biggest outgrower to conglomerate CFI Holdings. It produces 1.2
million chickens a year, breeds 1 000 head of beef cattle and grows roses
and flowers, which Ariston exports to the EU. In the year to December, Kent
contributed an after-tax profit of $28 billion to Ariston's profits.
Felix Njini Chief Business Reporter
FIXED telephone provider Tel*One is drafting more than 600 graduates from
the National Youth Service Training camps, infamously known as "green
bombers" into its own private security company to guard against copper cable
and wire thefts.
The move by Tel*One, coming ahead of its restructuring, is causing anxious
moments at the state-owned enterprise with some workers fearing they could
lose their jobs to the "green bombers."
Tel*0ne has had shaky labour relations with its employees which have
culminated in bitter labour-related battles in the courts.
Sources said the latest development could worsen relations between
management and workers at the parastatal.
Tel*One public relations manager, Phil Chingwaru, said the graduates would
act as security details as the company fights to curb rampant copper cable
"We are trying to employ all security measures possible to plug the losses
we are incurring in the theft of cables. This is one way of trying to beef
up security and these youths are a ready source of labour. Some of them will
be working under cover in buses and trains inspecting cables whenever a
suspicion arises," he said.
Tel*One and other state firms such as the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply
Authority have lost billions of dollars worth of equipment and cables due to
thefts as the economic situation continues to deteriorate.
Last week Tel*One, plagued by under-investment and battling to secure
crucial equipment, most of which has to be imported, lost cables worth more
than $2 billion in the high-density suburb of Warren Park to thieves.
INFORMATION and Publicity Minister Tichaona Jokonya has branded journalists
working in the country's private media weapons of mass destruction and
willing tools of Western interests, effectively killing off whatever hopes
the independent press had of a reprieve following the ouster of Jonathan
Moyo earlier in the year.
In a speech delivered at the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe's inaugural
Consumer Journalists Awards ceremony on Tuesday night, Jokonya claimed
scribes in the privately-owned media were being paid by Western countries to
rubbish President Robert Mugabe's government and needed to be monitored.
Journalists had become "tools or shall I say victims of the country's
detractors . . . Some journalists have indeed become not public opinion
formers but character assassins, malinformants to the point of having become
embedded warmongers or. to use much-abused terminology, they have become
weapons of mass destruction.
"In their service to the foreign interests they (journalists) apply
strategies of blending half-truths and outright lies. These deliberate acts
of disinformation create perceptions, which are neither helpful to the
customers and indeed the generality of our people. These journalists
masquerade as independent journalists despite the fact that we all know that
they are paid by the enemies of the people through such payments as monthly
incomes, medical aid assistance, indeed pensions funds, housing, car
allowances, business trips. They become impeded house boys and girls,"
Jokonya's attack comes a week after the government began confiscating
passports belonging to journalists and opposition politicians. Prominent
journalist Trevor Ncube, who publishes the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard
as well as South Africa's Mail & Guardian, had his passport seized last
Opposition politician Paul Themba Nyathi also suffered the same fate over
the weekend, amid indications that more confiscations would follow.
The government has, through the draconian Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), tried to cow Zimbabwe's small but vibrant
private press. Several journalists have been arrested under AIPPA and only
one scribe has been successfully prosecuted so far.
A career diplomat who has represented Zimbabwe at the United Nations, among
various other postings, Jokonya took over from Moyo - who waged a war of
attrition against journalists over a five year period - in April.
Jokonya's appointment was greeted with optimism but he seems keen to
continue with Moyo's systematic bullying and intimidation of journalists.
Independent observers are adamant the situation will remain the same as long
as the government retains its siege mentality that has seen it clamp down on
democratic space and act ruthlessly against all forms of dissent.
Njabulo Ncube Chief Political Reporter
JUST as some observers were saying Jonathan Moyo's United People's Movement
(UPM) could be stillborn, the former government spin doctor has spoken out
for the first time about his shadowy political party, claiming it is
emerging as the next powerful opposition in the country.
Moyo, fired from ZANU PF and the government last year after a political
fallout with President Robert Mugabe over the election of Vice-President
Joice Mujuru, dismissed reports suggesting the UPM would be officially
launched on December 22 2005.
"It will be silly to launch UPM on December 22, which is a ZANU PF day,"
"We can't have national events on a ZANU PF day. The damage that ZANU PF has
done to this country is not a spectator sport - it requires action on the
ground. That is what the UPM is all about," said Moyo, widely seen as a
Moyo, probably the most hated individual during his time as a government
minister, said there was no need for people to look forward to the official
unveiling of UPM as it was already on the ground canvassing for grassroots
"Those people waiting for a launch ceremony might wait for a very long time
because the party for today to make tomorrow better has already come. People
that want to see UPM must look around their communities and not wait for
invitation letters in their mailboxes. There are those that wait for things
to happen and others who wonder what is happening and others who make things
happen. UPM is about making things happen. Action speaks louder than words.
"The only party of words, and words of yesteryear, is ZANU PF. Those that
want words go to ZANU PF, a party that is about repacking the past. ZANU PF
words were true once upon a time, not now."
To date, only Moyo and former Zvishavane legislator Pearson Mbalekwa, who
quit ZANU PF earlier this year in protest against the government's
demolition of shantytowns and informal vending sites, have come out in the
open as UPM officials.
Felix Njini Chief Business Reporter
THE pro-senate faction of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), which last week suffered a major setback when High Court judge
Justice Yunus Omerjee threw out its application for an order barring party
president Morgan Tsvangirai from conducting party business, yesterday
backtracked on an earlier agreement to attend a disciplinary committee
hearing which had been slated for Saturday.
The pro-senate faction led by MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube, which
appears to be losing ground to Tsvangirai, yesterday rebuffed the party
president's efforts to haul five top officials before a disciplinary
committee and launched another attack on the MDC president.
Ncube, deputy secretary-general Gift Chimanikire, deputy president Gibson
Sibanda, treasurer Fletcher Dulini Ncube, and Harare North Member of
Parliament Getrude Stevenson had initially agreed to attend the disciplinary
hearing, which had been originally slated for December 10 but was moved to
December 17, 2005 upon their request.
In correspondence through their lawyers, Coghlan & Welsh legal
practitioners, the Ncube-led faction asked for a postponement of the
disciplinary hearing "to a mutually convenient date preferably Saturday,
17th December 2005 or any other date after the 17th."
In the letter, written by Nicholas Mathonsi of Coghlan and Welsh, the
Ncube-led faction requested to be furnished with the minutes of the
"purported national executive meetings of December 1 which allegedly
formulated charges against our clients."
They further asked for a postponement of the hearing, arguing some notices
were delivered late. The lawyer also asked for a change of venue, a demand
to which the acting chairman of the disciplinary committee, Tichaona
"As a result of the late notices we have not been able to prepare our
clients' defence . . . some of them have not even received the notices. We
could have liked to appear before your committee today but because we only
received the instructions late yesterday afternoon, we are unable to travel
to Harare as we were unable to get seats on the morning flight from Bulawayo
to Harare today and we do not have fuel to drive to Harare," reads part of
"Thirdly our clients have instructed that Harvest House is exceedingly
unsafe as a venue for the hearings and would be unable to appear in hearings
held at Harvest House . . . accordingly, we respectfully request that the
hearings, when it is convenient, be held at a safe venue other than Harvest
The Ncube-led faction's lawyers requested to be furnished with a "list of
witnesses that your committee will call against our clients together with
summaries of their evidence if your committee intends to use any documentary
"We trust that you will grant us the postponement we have requested . . .
and for the avoidance of doubt we also advise that our clients are entitled
to legal representation before your committee . . ."
However, in a volte face, the pro-senate faction yesterday said it was not
going to attend the hearing.
In resolutions following a meeting chaired by Sibanda, the pro-senate
faction called the disciplinary committee chaired by Mudzingwa "bogus."
"Council directed that the said officers of the party should not cooperate
or appear before the bogus disciplinary committee," Sibanda said.
Rangarirai Mberi Senior Business Reporter
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has lifted rates by 125 percentage points
to 540 percent in a reaction to weak new inflation data released last week
that is likely to draw further criticism to its rate policy.
Rates on unsecured lending rose to 550 percent, as the central bank once
again resorted to the bank rate to try to muzzle surging inflation.
The hike had been expected, but analysts say the latest round is not likely
to have a major impact on inflation, which rose 91 percentage points
year-on-year to 502.4 percent in October and cast further doubt on official
The central bank wants to slow inflation to between 280-300 percent this
month, and restrict it further to 80 percent by the end of next year.
But economists see inflation over the next two months breaking the previous
record of 623 percent reached in January last year. The majority of
forecasts for December gathered by this paper from economists and analysts
range between 550 percent and 600 percent.
In the absence of any real weapons against surging inflation, the RBZ has
relied almost entirely on the rate hike, lifting the rate to current levels
from 90 percent in January. But critics say rate hikes are unlikely to put a
dent on inflation, which many say is largely driven by rising government
"Rate hikes are meant to restrict lending, but you will see that banks have
not been reacting to previous rate hikes with significant increases in
minimum lending rates. The largest threat to inflation going forward is
government credit, not private lending," an analyst said.
Critics have urged authorities to lay off the rate hike, arguing that high
rates have the double effect of suppressing speculative borrowing - as
intended by central bank - but also that of bleeding industry.
Despite raising rates, RBZ is unlikely to immediately increase the rate on
its Treasury Bills (TB), given recent comments by central bank governor
Gideon Gono that the TB rate would no longer chase inflation, but would now
only be linked to the Bank's short to medium term outlook.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
MINING stocks appeared unfazed by President Robert Mugabe's statement
compelling white metal miner Zimplats to cede some of its claims on the rich
Great Dyke to a government-run mining company, the Zimbabwe Mining
Development Company (ZMDC).
President Mugabe implored Zimplats, 85 percent controlled by South Africa's
Impala Platinum (Implats) to surrender some of its claims to Chinese firm
NORINCO and allot an undisclosed stake to black investors.
However, mining stocks, which on previous occasions crashed each time the
octogenarian leader called on foreign miners to parcel out shares to black
indigenous groups, appeared unmoved by President Mugabe's statement. More
often than not the plunge was based on investor fears that the empowerment
targets, reported to be between 30 percent to 50 percent, could only be met
by huge asset discounts. But surprisingly a day after President Mugabe's
seizure threats failed to put some brakes on mining stocks, the mining index
scaled past the psychological 4 million mark.
In Wednesday's trading, just a day after President Mugabe issued his
infamous statement, the mining index added 9.44 percent to 4 190 061.36
points. Gold digger, Rio Tinto led all the counters, gaining $35 000 to
trade at $235 000. Three other mining counters - Bindura, Hwange and
Falgold - all traded unchanged at $15 500, $9 000 and $600 respectively.
Only Halogen sat on the terraces, shedding $34 000 at $136 000.
Investment analysts who noted that the market seems to be fatigued by the
ageing leader's threats, attributed the resilience of mining stocks to
firming gold prices on the international market and the lack of rewarding
investment options on the local market.
"If there were other rewarding investment choices, one wouldn't buy mining
shares," said a leading analyst in the capital.
Miners say they are still foggy about how the black ownership targets are to
be financed in the capital-intensive industry. They point out that the delay
in settling the mining charter remains an uncomfortable hurdle for
prospective foreign investors.
Critics note that President Mugabe's threats are in conflict with his dream
of sprucing up Zimbabwe's image as a favoured investment destination.
"The claim of attracting investment is absolutely in conflict with the
ownership structure that President Mugabe is advocating," said John
Robertson, economic consultant at Robertson Economic Information Services.
New investors are not eager to come and invest while that threat lingers
Respected economic critic Tony Hawkins queries President Mugabe's sincerity
on the empowerment programme.
"It is a gimmick," said Hawkins, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe's
Graduate School of Management. You can't talk of empowerment when you are
talking of bringing in the Chinese."
President Mugabe, who is pinning hopes of an economic recovery on the
delicate mining sector, wants his new Asian acquaintances to mine and
cultivate Zimbabwe's fertile lands. Apart from securing mining assets Asian
investors, particularly the Chinese, have signed contracts with
construction, telecommunications and agricultural utilities.
Munyaradzi Mugowo Special Correspondent
ZIMBABWE'S export volumes have plunged steeply between January and November
this year, although their nominal value has risen marginally due to
Moffat Nyoni, acting director of the Central Statistical Office (CSO) said
this surge in nominal export value by about 73 percent has failed to keep
abreast with runaway nominal import value, which ballooned 247 percent in
the same period.
Nyoni said: "There is a visible trade deficit," which, expressed as a
percentage of exports, "increased from 26 percent during the first nine
months of 2004 to 184 percent during the first eleven months of 2005."
Nominal value refers to the cost of goods and services before removing the
effects of inflation and this increases at a galloping rate in a
Real value by contrast shows the dollar value of imports and exports after
rediscounting, and this variable relates inversely with inflation, falling
when the inflation rate is rising and falling when the inflation rate is
The plunge in the volume of exports and the growing export-import
discrepancy has severely depleted import cover and put further strain on
virtually empty official settlements accounts with which to offset current
and capital account deficits.
In nominal value terms, Zimbabwe imported goods worth Z$15.41 trillion in
the first eleven months of the year, about Z$10.97 trillion more than the
total import value of the comparable trading period last year when Z$4.44
trillion worth of imports were recorded, an increase of about 247 percent.
Exports only increased 73 percent in the same period from 1.97 trillion to
The statistics indicate that the country's international trade is now
concentrated within the Southern African Development Community (SADC) region
where South Africa, which now accounts for about 26 percent of Zimbabwe's
exports and nearly 58 percent of relative imports, has replaced Britain as
Zimbabwe's major trading partner.
Finance Minister, Hebert Murerwa, in the 2006 Budget statement, claimed
Zimbabwe's Balance of Payments (BOP) position - a record of Zimbabwe's trade
and other transactions - would improve next year, but a statistical
extrapolation of the current export trend paints a gloomy picture.
Manufacturing output, which contributes 32 percent of gross export earnings,
has plunged inexorably as capacity utilisation, which was reported to have
recovered to about 60 percent last year, continues to sink to levels below
40 percent due to inflation, crippling foreign currency shortages and
uncompetitive export prices.
According CSO statistics, the manufacturing index dropped from 7.75 percent
in the first quarter to 3.57 percent in the third quarter and the trend is
estimated to persist beyond the fourth quarter.
Highveld Market Watch with Washington Mehlomakhulu
THE market returned to surpluses as large volumes of treasury bills began to
mature, with over $1 trillion being injected into the market yesterday
This trend should continue until the end of the year.
The maturities are coming at a time when inflation for November reached
502.4 percent, indeed a disturbing trend given that the rate had been going
downwards until the end of the first quarter.
The market had anticipated a further rise in inflation for November, but
concern is that if the rate continues this upward trend, all the gains made
in the anti-inflation drive will come to nought.
New measures to fight this economic scourge are needed because it appears
that the economy is failing to respond to the current prescription, with
forecasts putting the December inflation at or close to 600 percent.
The monetary authorities have limited options at their disposal to influence
price levels. This requires a combined effort with the fiscal authorities if
the war on inflation is to be won.
Central government needs to come up with policies that encourage economic
growth through the stabilisation of macroeconomic factors. The major
inflation drivers at the core of the recent resurgence in inflation are
outside the sphere of influence of the monetary authorities.
Inflation is a cancer that eats into the very fabric of the economy and
places undue burden on individuals, the government and corporates. It is a
form of taxation that erodes the living standards of citizens and is a cost
on the delivery of public services.
The Reserve Bank of Ziumbabwe (RBZ) responded to the inflation news by
hiking the overnight accommodation rate from 450 percent to 540 percent on
secured lending and from 460 percent to 550 percent on unsecured lending.
The latest move by the RBZ is meant to influence minimum lending rates of
commercial banks as a way of curtailing credit expansion. Recent hikes in
the bank rate have not yielded the desired results because most banks were
slow to respond to the increase.
Credit expansion in the private sector has stalled in recent months and the
new measures should further dampen an already depressed sector. It would be
interesting to see how banks will respond to the latest hike as they fight
to maintain their loan books.
The bank rate hike will not have any effect on investment rates, unless
there is a movement in the treasury bill yield. The authorities have left
the yield on the 91-day treasury bill at 340 percent, indicating that they
are comfortable with that level.
However, in the event that the RBZ decides to change the tenor on the
treasury bill, we might witness an adjustment on previous yields, to reflect
the rise in inflation.
for governemt stock
The RBZ closed its third stock issue for the year 2005 last Thursday. The
three-year floating rate stock offer was expected to raise $1 trillion for
The issue garnered reasonable support levels because of its coupon-consumer
price index linkage, allowing investors to hedge their funds against
inflation, with $788 billion being allotted.
However, the RBZ has kept the issue open beyond its deadline until it is
fully subscribed. Further, the issue has been sweetened by the loading of
two percentage points above the consumer price index.
This attribute will enable investors to at least outperform inflation and
the treasury bill yield that lags behind inflation if computed on a
month-on-month basis, and this is a major attraction of this particular
But there is a slight distraction among the special features of the stock
issue. While potential investors are comfortable with all the other
traditional features such as eligibility for collateral security at the RBZ,
prescribed and liquid asset status, the callable clause is taking off some
glamour from the issue.
While traditionally stock issues have come with callable clauses, the right
to call back the stocks for early redemption has always been set after a
reasonable time - like one or more years.
With the current stock issue, no time limit has been set for the exercise of
the right to call the government stocks for early redemption. This is
causing some anxiety among some potential investors because future cash flow
planning is made somehow difficult.
Investors would have been more comfortable with a stock callable after the
lapse of a reasonably time period, such as one year.
Despite this distraction, the stock issue is still highly recommended for
both individual and institutional portfolios. Since the stock issue is
earmarked to finance government capital projects, in practice one would not
expect the government to call back the stocks within a short time period.
Also, the alternative investment plan to be offered upon the calling of the
stock issue is an offer which the investor can take up.
Money market rates
Money market rates on the short term have started to soften on the back of a
Rates in the seven- to 14-day area were being quoted just above 100 percent.
Rates in the 30-day area were being quoted between 150 percent and 200
percent and 60-day investments were quoted between 200 percent and 250
Rates on the long end for the 90-day area were averaging 300 percent, given
the attractive yield on the 91-day treasury bill.
However, as we have pointed out, the rate structure will depend on what the
RBZ decides to do next regarding the tenor of the treasury bills.
Should the bank lengthen the tenor without a significant adjustment on the
yield, then we should see rates tumbling in line with a falling yield. But
should the bank either make a significant adjustment on the yield of the
longer tenor or reintroduce the 180-day treasury bill at a reasonable price,
then rates should stay at current levels.
Personal Glimpses with Mavis Makuni
WHERE does Zimbabwe go from here now that the cool African efficiency of
Anna Tibaijuka and the outspoken Scandinavian candidness of Jan Egeland have
combined to pronounce a damning verdict on Operation Murambatsvina which the
government refuses to accept?
When United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan's special envoy, Tibaijuka
submitted her report after a two-week mission to Zimbabwe in July, telling
it like it is, the government reacted in typical fashion.
Tibaijuka was literally torn to pieces for her frank and accurate
observations and was accused of being an agent of the British and American
governments. Classy and professional Tibaijuka however, decided to let her
work speak for itself and never dignified the ludicrous allegations made
about her with a response or a comment.
Enter Jan Egeland four months later. Confronted by flimsy plastic shacks
tottering in the mud instead of the 200 000 gleaming new houses that were
supposed to have been built under Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle by now, the
horrified UN aid coordinator did not have any time for appeasements or
diplomatic niceties. Based on the evidence of his own eyes, he echoed
Tibaijuka's earlier findings by describing the situation as a humanitarian
disaster and suggesting that the most practical and immediate intervention
in the interim to ease the plight of those living and sleeping in the open
was for the UN to provide tents. He observed that the ideal situation would
have been to build houses under Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle before demolishing
whatever abodes the victims previously called home.
For these compassionate concerns for the immediate welfare and needs of
families exposed to the elements during this wet season, Egeland predictably
sparked a torrent of denunciation and was labelled a liar, hypocrite and an
agent of the British and Americans. But despite all their fury, the
powers-that-be have not addressed a fundamental issue raised by both UN
envoys: why it was so urgent to throw fellow human beings out of whatever
shelter they had before alternative accommodation was in place. As a result,
the question needs to be asked whether anyone who has slept in a warm and
cozy bed over the last six months has any moral right to prevent those who
have been forced to spend the same period with only the sky over their heads
from getting whatever shelter is being offered, even if it is only tents?
Even the most fanatical state apologist or propagandist can not dispute the
fact that when it embarked on its widely condemned clean-up exercise more
than six months ago, the government's sole objective was to banish informal
traders and occupiers of so-called illegal dwellings from the urban areas
for reasons best known to itself rather than provide better housing for
them. Now that it has a catastrophic situation on its hands, it should not
expect the UN to bail it out with funding while glossing over the causes of
the self-inflicted humanitarian crisis.
After causing unprecedented tumult by unleashing the army and the police to
demolish abodes and other structures and condemning hundreds of thousands of
people to a life of destitution and homelessness, the government has not
shown a similar sense of urgency and zeal to provide new accommodation or
come up with other interventions to ease the plight of the victims in the
I am a nonentity who has never and is unlikely to ever rub shoulders with
Tony Blair or George Bush and that way be invited to be their agent.
I empathise with fellow Zimbabweans who have needlessly been treated so
harshly purely as a human being. Is compassion for others to be criminalised
It is bad enough that the government itself is either unwilling or unable to
assist those rendered helpless by its vindictive programme but it defies
reason for it to bar well-wishers and donors such as the UN from rescuing
these innocent Zimbabweans from the subhuman existence they have been
reduced to. Focusing exclusively on its paranoid need to save face and
maintain a false sense of infallibility in the midst of such untold human
suffering is madness on the government's part.
Some apologists have tried to defend the indefensible by arguing that the
problems arising from Murambatsvina are no different from those in the
Western Darfur region of Sudan and other countries where slums have been
demolished. Are these "analysts" seriously suggesting that a "proud and
sovereign state" like Zimbabwe should aspire to emulate some of the worst
scenarios in the world as an acceptable yardstick for its own performance?
Some of the countries cited as going through problems similar to Zimbabwe's
have been at war for years and we should be embarrassed that we are in a
similar mess in peace time.
The need to defy realities explains why, while accusing UN envoys of being
agents of foreign interests, the government expects them to wear blindfolds
during missions to countries like ours. Is it any wonder then that seasoned
and principled international civil servants like Tibaijuka and Egeland, who
are used to bringing a "world view" to their assignments, have refused to be
forced into this ruling party political straitjacket?
It is interesting to note that by trying to force UN envoys to adopt the
same tunnel vision on Murambatsvina that has become the hallmark of its
policy formulation and implementation since the advent of farm invasions in
2000, the government is doing exactly what it accuses foreign powers of. It
is a classic case of projecting one's faults and machinations on to others.
We have been told that from now on Zimbabwe will ask UN Secretary-General
Kofi Annan not to send any more envoys. Does this mean our government is
naïve enough to expect Annan himself to come to Zimbabwe and adopt the
The world must never be allowed to forget that Murambatsvina affected
millions of real flesh and blood human beings who cannot be expected to
vanish into thin air. Zimbabweans who are lucky enough to have a roof over
their heads must never forget that those barrack-style rows of houses shown
endlessly on television to tout the government's Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle
project are a metaphor for the suffering of their compatriots.
Hama Saburi Deputy Editor-in-Chief
Mnangagwa keeps opponents guessing
THE "crocodile" or ngwena in shona as Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Rural Housing
Minister and ZANU PF secretary for legal affairs, is affectionately known in
political circles, has literally gone under water.
The last time "it" emerged from the country's treacherous political waters,
it caused mayhem in ZANU PF circles and stoked fires of political
gamesmanships in the run-up to last year's ruling party congress.
Even the worst of enemies in the fractious party had to put their
differences aside and employed all sorts of techniques to stop the man -
long-considered President Robert Mugabe's heir-apparent - from ascending to
Mnangagwa had thrived on silence and rightly so. Silence had been golden, as
the shrewd schemer had succeeded in keeping his opponents guessing. But not
until he broke the silence in mid-November 2004 in a rare interview that
shook opponents who had long written him off after a string of corruption
allegations involving the looting of resources in the DRC and claims that he
attempted a palace coup with members of the opposition.
Mnangagwa, quiet but feared even by members of the opposition parties, was
surprisingly frank in his responses to questions fielded by The Financial
Gazette although he dodged quite a number. He also hinted then that he was
angling for the second vice-presidency, a post that had been left vacant
after Simon Muzenda's death in September 2003. And all hell broke loose.
Joice Mujuru, the eventual winner, Didymus Mutasa and John Nkomo were also
said to be interested parties.
It took eleventh-hour constitutional amendments agreed at an emergency ZANU
PF politburo meeting and the suspension of six provincial chairmen aligned
to Mnangagwa, who had attended the "infamous" Tsholotsho indaba allegedly
meant to change the make-up of the presidium, to destroy "the crocodile's"
dream and avert a damaging power struggle.
But not even the politburo resolution paving the way for a woman
vice-president could deter his camp. Plan B was hatched to comply with the
resolution, while keeping the dream alive.
To go around the problem, it attempted to shuttle former ZANU PF women's
league boss Tenjiwe Lesabe to the vice-presidency and quash the need to
incorporate a former ZAPU cadre into the presidium in line with the 1987
Unity Accord while conforming to the amended constitution. It meant that
Joseph Msika, the first vice-president, had technically become irrelevant
according to the plan and was to be sacrificed to make way for Mnangagwa.
It took a serious war of attrition against Mnangagwa's camp to quash the
plan and save the day for the Mujuru camp, led by husband retired general
But since missing its target by a whisker, the crocodile has gone
underground and has not given any clues. Not even his trusted lieutenants
could tell whether he is still in the succession race, which to some is now
a foregone conclusion following the elevation of Mujuru.
ZANU PF insiders privy to the intricate twists and turns within the party
say the jostling for the highest office in the land can only be said to be
over after the next presidential election.
"Only then can we say Mnangagwa has been totally eclipsed," said a ZANU PF
insider. "As things stand, anything is still possible."
Another ZANU PF insider said President Robert Mugabe, 81, has kept the race
open by bringing the former justice minister, who had lost in Kwekwe in the
March 2005 election, back into parliament as a non-constituency legislator
and into government.
"President Mugabe has kept his choices wide open although others might think
he is bringing Mnangagwa closer so as to manage him better. Look, anything
is possible in ZANU PF," said the source.
Mnangagwa's silence has been a major cause for concern in ZANU PF circles
amid speculation that his camp could be regrouping both within and outside
the party in preparation for "the final lap."
But with President Mugabe indicating his intention to retire in 2008, it won't
be long before the nation finds answers to the complex succession jigsaw
puzzle in ZANU PF.
Of late, the rumour mill has been awash with reports linking Mnangagwa to
the United People's Movement (UPM) - a project fronted by dismissed former
information minister Jonathan Moyo.
UPM is seen as offering an alternative home to disgruntled souls in both
ZANU PF and the MDC, currently in disarray after a fallout over
participation in the November 26 senate polls won by the ruling party.
Mnangagwa has denied links to UPM although critics say it would be suicidal
for the former speaker of parliament to answer in the affirmative.
"I have never heard about UPM. It is stupid to suggest that I would be its
president when I am not even aware that there is such a political party," he
was quoted saying. "Nobody has ever approached me to join such a party and I
will not be part of it."
Daggers had been drawn against Mnangagwa in the last few years. Most
recently, an investigation had been conducted into the activities of ZANU PF
companies, in what was seen as a move aimed at exposing Mnangagwa's
noncompliance with the laws of the land as the chief custodian of the party's
investments until three years ago.
Mnangagwa has denied any wrongdoing, but has not ruled out that a bigger
agenda could be brewing.
"I believe those who have an agenda against me are firing their salvo
through this umbrella of the need to inform the politburo of the extent to
which ZANU PF investments have spread. Not that the leadership was unaware,
because accounts were distributed every year . . ." he said.
GOVERNMENT, known for its glaring policy contradictions over
privatisation, has once again pledged to restructure the haemorrhaging
institutions and return them to the black.
After a stop-go privatisation programme that failed to staunch
the never-ending bleeding in state-owned companies, Finance Minister Herbert
Murerwa a fortnight ago admitted that parastatals, which have become
something of a national curse, have not only remained a major impediment to
economic growth but a drain on the fiscus as well.
And he could not have said it any better. The ruins of what were
once state companies in fine fettle have remained on life-support with
public funds being poured into these bottomless black holes.
The minister categorically stated that turnaround strategies
implemented so far have been inadequate, which is why they have failed to
achieve the desired results. The half-hearted privatisation efforts have, in
fact, seen most of these companies relapsing into mismanagement and
operational inefficiencies. Implicit in the minister's statement was that
government has not had a well-thought-out divestiture programme.
All along privatisation has been tucked in piecemeal. It has
always been thin on detail and hazy on the time-table. If nothing else,
despite what government spin-doctors who clearly suffer from delusions of
grandeur might say, this betrayed government's reluctance to accept that
privatisation is now a fact of life almost everywhere.
However, in a hardly convincing eleventh-hour attempt to restore
parastatal viability and help perpetuate that viability, the government has
undertaken to implement a comprehensive privatisation programme through
joint ventures, strategic alliances and concessioning. Among the targeted
parastatals would be Air Zimbabwe, which is exhibiting classic warning signs
of collapse, ZISCO, which has no reason whatsoever except in never-never
land to operate below the red ink line, perennial loss-maker NRZ, beef
processor CSC and the ailing twins, Net*One and Tel*One.
The situation at all these companies is shocking and confounding
to say the least, which is why they have become something of a national tear
duct. With political patronage and influence-peddling rife in the parastatal
sector, the institutions have become symbols of corruption and greed. Those
running these parastatals have been, for want of a better expression,
monumental failures. This does not however seem to prick their consciences -
that is if they have any.
The most frightening aspect though is that despite the pathetic
state of most of the parastatals which spells absolute disaster for the
economy and the fact that there is supposed to be a department within
government which is responsible for the companies, government had, up until
Murerwa's sentiments, neither shown any serious intent to clean up the rot
nor elaborated a formula out of the crisis which, to all intents and
purposes, is a national embarrassment.
Despite repeatedly admitting that there is need for radical
surgery to stop the rot in most of the parastatals, government has not shown
any keen appetite to reform them. This is why we are cautiously optimistic
about its commitment to finding a solution to the crisis this time around.
It is our sincere hope that this is not a panic measure because it would be
We have said it before and we will say it again. Before the
government even casts around for possible offshore suitors for strategic
link-ups, it is imperative and prudent that these monoliths fix their
strategic mistakes first. True, it goes without saying that strategic
alliances would be the next natural step in the evolution of these companies
mainly for critical technology transfer purposes.
But any attempt to dispose of them in their current state would
see bargain-hunting foreign predators snapping up the family silver for a
The parastatals' situation is rather an anxious one, which is
not the easiest bargaining position to start from. Not only that but
settling for technical partners after turnarounds would afford Zimbabwe the
luxury of selecting strong strategic partners who would add value to the
businesses rather than having to necessarily settle for the highest bidders.
This route will also ensure that the exercise will not only help reduce
pressure on the fiscus but also feed through into black economic
Government should also realise that those under whose
stewardship the state-owned companies have been pushed to the brink of
collapse cannot be trusted to turn around the institutions because
turnarounds by nature challenge the status quo. In any case, these boards
and managements have already shown that they do not have strategic visions
to drive these companies to their full potential. They have instead
sacrificed good corporate governance on the altar of political ambition as
they pandered to the whims of their political godfathers who fixed them
As part of the parastatal turnaround strategy, it is of
paramount importance therefore that these boards and managements should be
forced to walk the plank. They should simply be wiped out under the pressure
Audrey Chitsika Property Reporter
THE inflation spiral, which has made planning a difficult exercise in
Zimbabwe, is proving to be a major headache for building societies, where
industry players are coming face to face with its harsh realities on a daily
With building material costs soaring through the roof and the local currency
dramatically losing its strength, it now takes meticulous planning for
building societies and borrowers to withstand the heat.
While not many people can afford to borrow at current rates, it has not been
easy for the few risk-takers to ask for additional funding to see through
It has taken more than a leap for faith for the building societies to take
the risk and fund any new projects under the prevailing hyperinflationary
conditions, say analysts.
In most cases, the increase in mortgage books witnessed this year has
largely been inflationary. In other words, the increases are not reflective
of the growth in the volume of business, but quantum of Zimbabwe dollars
required bankrolling the few projects coming through.
Ambrose Matika, the executive director for the Central African Building
Society (CABS), said the country's largest society is spending $1.2 trillion
on mortgage lending in the current financial term compared to $266.8 billion
in the previous one.
He said the interest rate spike coupled with the prohibitive construction
costs have pushed mortgages beyond the reach of many.
"Affordability is the main constraint to active mortgage lending at present.
At the current high rates of interest, most potential borrowers are unable
to afford the monthly instalments. Many are also unable to raise the
deposits of at least 25 percent of the purchase price.
"The option to acquire vacant stands and build has also become unviable
because of scarcity and high prices of serviced stands and rapidly
increasing costs of building materials," he said.
Mike Moyo, the managing director of Beverley Building Society, said the
society is planning to increase its mortgage book from the current $150
billion to $450 billion by June 30 2006.
Said Moyo: "The major thrust of the society is to increase the number of
mortgage bond holders from the current 2500 mortgagors to 5000 by June 30
2006. We believe that our strategy to grow the number of home owners will
result in the increase of the mortgage portfolio from the current $150
billion to $450 billion by June 30 2006."
Moyo said local authorities need to be more receptive to the requirement of
mortgage lenders and private developers to further enhance prospects for the
"There is urgent need for local authorities to work closely with reputable
private developers who have operational and financial capacity to start
projects. The coming on board on the Infrastructure Development Bank of
Zimbabwe in the new year will further enhance that capacity," he added.
Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 12:05 AM GMT
Contributed by: correspondent
Faced with the most fraught economic crisis in his 25 year old
rule, President Mugabe has granted amnesty to a South African spy captured
late last year in a move aimed at mollifying his southern neighbour to
unlock a R6 billion rescue package to bankroll fuel and grain imports,
Zimdaily exclusively reveals. Official government sources said the release
of the South African Security Service (SASS) agent Aubery Welken who was
captured in Victoria Falls last year receiving intelligence from top
government officials was tied to , among other things, the unlocking of R6
billion in aid.
Zimdaily heard that the release of the spy, who was handed over
to SA's Minister of Intelligence Services, Ronald Kasrils on Tuesday was
part of a new set of "circumstances" or "context" tabled by Pretoria to
unlock desperately needed assistance to stave off total economic collapse.
Although the official line was that the spy was released under the auspices
of a protocol providing for a Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and
Security to boost military, police and intelligence co-operation, official
sources said SA had struck a compromise on the earlier set of radical
reforms that President Thabo Mbeki gave to President Mugabe in August before
he could assist Zimbabwe with a plea for R6 billion.
Zimdaily heard that the Zimbabwean cabinet rejected three of the
five conditions that had been earlier given before aid could start flowing.
The rejected reforms, apparently discussed at the just ended Zanu PF
conference, included the drafting of a new constitution agreed by the
opposition, fresh presidential polls and repeal of laws muzzling the media
or intimidating political opponents. Official sources said over and above
the release of the spy, SA had proposed a new set of reforms that included a
fair and open programme of land reform to undo the negative consequences of
Mugabe's land grab and to ensure productive use of land.
Zimdaily heard that Mbeki had also proposed that Harare
implement a credible economic recovery programme including the removal of
structural distortions embedded in the economy and steps to end Zimbabwe's
isolation. Speaking at the Harare International Airport just before their
departure, Kasrils said: "I hope in the near future things will improve in
Zimbabwe. We hope to continue our good relations and cooperation."
Minister of State for National Security, Didymus Mutasa appeared
to reinforce hopes of aid flowing to Harare when he said: "We are brother
governments. It is our great wish to keep that relationship. The good
relations must be seen and not imagined." Welkren was arrested last year in
December receiving intelligence in Livingstone. He blew the whistle on all
his handlers after being tortured. Five alleged spies linked to SA were also
arrested at the same time after a
CIO swoop on a suspected South African intelligence network in
They were Zimbabwe's ambassador-designate to Mozambique, Godfrey
Dzvairo, Zanu PF foreign affairs director Itai Marchi Banerk, Tendai
Matambanadzo, a Metropolitan Bank director, Zanu (PF) deputy security chief
Kenny Karidza and former Zanu (PF) MP Phillip Chiyangwa. A CIO officer,
Elisha Muyemeki, now dead, was also arrested at the same time for failing to
report to his bosses a secret meeting he had with a South African spy who
botched a plot to recruit him. A Switzerland-based Zimbabwean diplomat,
Erasmus Moyo, was said to have escaped arrest by disappearing at Geneva
airport last year.
Dzvairo, also Zimbabwe's former consul-general to SA, was
sentenced to six years, while Matambanadzo and Marchi were jailed for five
years each. Phillip Chiyangwa was released by the high court, but the state
said it had not dropped the case. Karidza is still on trial. Observers
however say Zimbabwe must realise the urgency of a political and economic
recovery plan, but doubted whether Zimbabwe was ready to create the
circumstances that will make one possible.
By Blessing Zulu
14 December 2005
Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for Democratic Change, divided since October
over participation in the new senate elected on November 26, could face a
permanent split, MDC Vice President Gibson Sibanda said Wednesday in a
Harare news conference.
Mr. Sibanda, a leader of the faction that broke with MDC President Morgan
Tsvangirai over fielding candidates in the senate elections as well as
long-simmering issues to do with control of the party, said mediation
efforts have not ended the impasse between the Harare-based Tsvangirai
faction and the Bulawayo-centered pro-senate faction.
Uniting the two factions now seems "out of the question," said Mr. Sibanda.
He called the news conference soon after his faction concluded what it
described as a national council meeting. The MDC National Council is the
party's top decision-making body, but both factions have convened Council
meetings, laying claim to legitimacy.
Mr. Sibanda told reporters that one mediation effort sought the assistance
of South African president Thabo Mbeki, and prominent Zimbabweans were also
approached to help end the MDC's biggest crisis since it was launched six
years ago. But according to Mr. Sibanda all these attempts at reconciliation
He attributed this outcome to what he termed "fierce differences" between
Mr. Sibanda was flanked by MDC Deputy Secretary General Gift Chimanikire,
party treasurer Fletcher Dulini Ncube, and spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi. MDC
Secretary General Welshman Ncube sat in the audience alongside others in the
opposition faction which contested the senate elections and claimed seven
Mr. Sibanda criticized Mr. Tsvangirai and accused him of using violence to
intimidate the pro-senate faction. He insisted that Mr. Nyathi should should
continue as the MDC spokesman, rather than Nelson Chamisa, the party's
former youth chief named to the post of acting spokesman by party officials
lined up behind Mr. Tsvangirai.
The MDC vice president said his faction intends to appeal to the supreme
court after a Harare high court rejected its request for an order barring
Mr. Tsvangirai from conducting party business - the court declined to
Reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe sought comment from
MDC acting spokesman Nelson Chamisa, and turned for perspective to Chris
Maroleng, a political analyst with South Africa's Institute of Security
Thursday, December 15 2005 @ 12:04 AM GMT
Contributed by: Reporter
Human rights activist, veteran trade unionist and revolutionary
musician Raymond Majongwe is the latest victim of the government passport
seizure crusade. Majongwe's passport was confiscated upon arrival at Harare
international Airport on wednesday afternoon. Majongwe said his passport was
just taken by immigration officials after being told that he was part of the
sixty five people whose travelling documents are set to be withdrawn. He had
just jetted in from Nigeria where he was presenting a paper on Zimbabwe at
an International labour organisation convention.
"It did not surprise me because this regime is determined to
thwart all dissenting voices",said Majongwe. Majongwe has fallen out favour
with the government thanks to his militant trade unionism. He is also a dub
poet singer with six albums to his credit. His revolutionary songs never saw
the light in the state controlled broadcasters. Majongwe indicated that he
will not take any legal action as he was 'not born with a passport'. He
urged the people of Zimbabwe to fight the 'frightened regime' of president
JOHANNESBURG, Dec 14 (IPS) - For several years now, Southern Africa has
faced acute food shortages that look set to continue in 2006. According to
the United Nations, several countries in the 14-member Southern African
Development Community (SADC) will still be relying on food handouts next
year to prevent millions of their citizens from starving to death.
Between 2002 and 2004 some 14 million people received emergency food from
aid agencies, according to the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
Of that total, some five million remained extremely vulnerable. "The dry
spell, which decimated harvests in early 2005, has increased this number to
over 12 million in seven countries - out of a total population of 70
million," according to a 2005 WFP brief.
The question that begs asking is whether anything can be done to prevent
this situation recurring year after year.
"There are things we can do in the short term. We can grow more
drought-resistant crops like sorghum, millet and cassava," WFP spokesman
Mike Sackett told IPS. "Farmers should be less reliant on maize."
Maize, the staple food in Southern Africa, is ill-adapted to cope with
drought - something that has spelt disaster for parts of the region that
have experienced erratic rainfall in recent years.
"In the long-term there should be less reliance on rainfall and more
reliance on irrigation," said Sackett, who is based in South Africa's
commercial hub of Johannesburg. Irrigation requires a considerable
investment, however - making it unaffordable for several states. With the
exception of South Africa, Botswana and Namibia, SADC nations would probably
need donor funding to set up viable irrigation systems.
Sackett noted that the distribution of seed and fertiliser also needed to be
better managed: "For example, last year farmers received fertilisers late."
To end the ongoing cycle of food shortages and its attendant problems,
agricultural officials in the SADC region have embarked on a comprehensive
programme to assist farmers.
"One of our roles will be to vet contracts for our illiterate farmers. We
will support them so that their contracts (such as for supplying food to
U.N. agencies) are respected. We will also help them to understand the
necessity of paying debts to avoid being blacklisted," Nelson Chisenga, an
agricultural specialist at the Pretoria-based Southern African Federation of
Agricultural Unions (SACAU), told IPS.
Earlier this month, SACAU invited about 20 delegates from six of its member
countries - Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Namibia, Malawi and Madagascar -
to South Africa's capital, Pretoria, to inform them about key issues
affecting agriculture, such as trade and marketing.
"Awareness levels among farmers are abysmally very poor. For example, they
believe that trade doesn't concern them," Ajay Vashee of the Lusaka-based
Zambia National Farmers Union told IPS. Zambia is said to have 800,000
small-scale farmers out of a population of about eight million.
"We want our farmers to look beyond our borders or even internationally," he
added. "The major problem is instilling marketing skills.We would like to
get the farmers to understand the dynamics of trade."
With this in mind, the union intends training farmers in trade negotiations,
and familiarising them with the World Trade Organisation (WTO). The WTO is
currently meeting in Hong Kong, where the agricultural tariffs and subsidies
provided by wealthy countries are coming under discussion. These farm
supports give farmers in the developed world a considerable advantage over
their counterparts from poorer nations.
Zambia is already reaping the rewards of having adopted a number of sensible
policies on farming. "Zambia did quite well in 2003 to 2004," Sackett said.
"The country had a (food) surplus even though it had been hit by drought."
In October this year, however, the government of President Levy Mwanawasa
appealed for emergency food aid for 1.7 million people. The WFP says it is
responding to the food needs of 1.1 million people, while the United Nations
Children's Fund is planning to address problems with water provision and
sanitation, child health, nutrition and education.
Further south, in Zimbabwe, the situation is considerably worse - with aid
agencies accusing the government of President Robert Mugabe of fuelling
famine through bad policies.
"The humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe is extremely serious and it's
deteriorating," Jan Egeland, U.N. under secretary for humanitarian affairs
and emergency relief co-ordinator, told journalists in Johannesburg Dec. 7,
after returning from Zimbabwe. "WFP is feeding two million people in
Zimbabwe. It could go to four million."
The agency has appealed for 276 million dollars to help relieve food
shortages in Zimbabwe, where AIDS is exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.
"Some 3,000 people die of AIDS every week; there are one million AIDS
orphans. It's a serious situation," said Egeland.
Despite the drought, there is enough food in Southern Africa to meet
demand - it's just that supplies are being sent elsewhere. "Within the
region we have the market, but farmers look internationally. I think the
small-scale farmers should satisfy the regional market before looking
outside," Chisenga said, taking a different position to that adopted by
However, farmers claim that trade barriers prevent them from doing just
this. "For example, Zimbabwe is able to export poultry product to Malawi,
(but) Malawi is not allowed to export poultry products into Zimbabwe,"
Visa requirements also present a headache, as do border delays. "Trucks
take, for example, long at Chirundu: it can take an average of five days. At
Beitbridge it can take a maximum of one day if your documents are in order,"
Chisenga said. Chirundu is the main border post between Zambia and Zimbabwe,
and Beitbridge the main post between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
"Beitbridge is open 24 hours a day. You drive through and reach Churundu,
and find that the border is closed. So you count that day lost - and you
queue behind the vehicles that arrived before you,'' he added. "The delays
at borders affect farmers a lot." (END/2005)
Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Dec-15
SHOPPERS look the losers at the till this Christmas as they put more money
to the plastic, with a top baker announcing that the price of bread, which
already has been hiked three times in as many months, had shot up to $50 000
effective this Monday.
And that is not the only shocker the bakery executive brewed. He warned of
another imminent hike, saying high production and operational costs fuelled
by galloping inflation, necessitated that a loaf be priced at between $90
000 and $100 000 by January.
Some shops are already selling bread for between $55 000 and $65 000.
In an interview with The Daily Mirror, Lobels sales and marketing director
John Chikomo attributed the increase to soaring flour prices.
"It is the price of flour that is causing all this, with a tonne of the
commodity ranging between $27 million and $35 million," Chikomo said.
Chikomo said the current fuel shortage worsened the situation.
"Diesel is just a nightmare. We are not getting any diesel from the National
Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) and we end up buying it from the black
market at $100 000 or more per litre," he said.
Chikomo said considering the cost incurred in baking bread, the actual price
of a loaf should be at least $66 000.
"The real price of bread must be $66 000, but because we know that consumers
would be the hardest hit, we only effected a small increase," he said.
Chikomo admitted that the industry was now compromising on the quality of
bread such as weight, as a result of high production costs.
A standard loaf weighs around 700 grams.
Meanwhile, the National Bakeries Association has written to the millers
requesting them to review the price of flour downward.
"I write on behalf of the National Bakers' Association and request the
Millers' Association to review the price of flour per tonne from $35 million
to a price not more than $28 million so as to enable bakers to retail bread
at $50 000 a loaf," read a letter from Burumbo Mudumo, chairman of the
National Bakers Association.
He added: "We understand the problems you are facing and we know that under
normal circumstances, $35 million per tonne is the correct price.
"However, consumers are hard pressed and they need to absorb increases in
tranches. We also do not want to attract unnecessary attention from
Mudumo said at a price of $35 million per tonne, a loaf would be retailed at
"But the Bakers' Association has taken a 24 percent knock to accommodate
consumers and we are (asking) millers to consider the same," added Mudumo.
In the letter, Mudumo also noted that bakers were complaining that they were
not getting supplies of flour and called for an urgent meeting of millers
Chikomo yesterday said millers were not keen to review the price of flour.
A loaf of bread was around $3 500 and $4 500 early this year before it was
gazetted at $7 500 in September, while unscrupulous retailers were selling
it at $16 000.
The price then shot to between $25 000 and $28 000 in October, with bakeries
citing spiraling operational costs, shortages of diesel and flour.
Only last week, the loaf price rocketed to $40 000, from $29 000.
Yesterday consumers decried the latest increase, saying bread had all of a
sudden turned into a luxury good and called on government to act against
unscrupulous bakeries and retailers selling the commodity at exorbitant
"The majority of Zimbabweans can no longer afford to buy bread. A family of
six will now have to part with $100 000 for two loaves.
An average family would have to part with $200 000 and more for breakfast a
day. Life is increasingly becoming difficult.
"Our salaries are too low to sustain us.
"Tavakutorarama nemunya (we are now surviving on leftovers.
"What is the government doing about it?" asked Timothy Machingura, of
Kuwadzana in Harare.
Naison Sango, of Rugare in Harare, said: "We can no longer afford to but
"The current shortage of mealie-meal has worsened the situation, otherwise
we could have substituted tea with sadza in the morning. Life is very hard
for security guards, as our salaries are very low."
Said one woman: "We will certainly have a dull Christmas, if retailers
continue increasing prices when ever they feel like."
An average family of six now needs $3 million for bread alone a month, while
it has to fork out almost $13 million a month to survive.
Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
issue date :2005-Dec-15
IN an apparent calculated move to isolate and eventually expel senior party
members supporting the reintroduced Senate, MDC Harare province has passed a
vote of no confidence against three of its legislators - a development which
could force by-elections in their constituencies.
MDC Harare province secretary Last Maengahama yesterday confirmed that
action had been taken against deputy party secretary-general and Mbare
legislator Gift Chimanikire, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (Glen Norah)
and Harare North's Trudy Stevenson, who is also party research secretary.
The trio belongs to the pro-Senate camp led by MDC vice-president Gibson
Sibanda and secretary-general Welshman Ncube.
Several other party functionaries, whose names were not readily available,
were also affected in the same manner.
Maengahama said MDC districts in the concerned constituencies had petitioned
the province for parliamentary recalls, meaning if approved, the targeted
MPs could no longer represent the party in the legislature.
Harare province had accepted the petition and would submit it to the party's
summit, the National Council, for a final decision.
"The party's districts petitioned us on the matter, saying they no longer
recognise Chimanikire, Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Chimanikire. We felt that
they had a strong case (against the MPs)," said Maengahama.
He said party districts had been aggrieved by the three MPs
"misrepresenting" their constituencies on the Senate issue.
He further claimed that the trio had lost touch with their constituents.
"Everyone knows that people in Harare were against participation in the
elections, but they misrepresented the people's wishes. They were also said
to be missing MPs who do not visit their constituencies," Maenga-hama said.
He predicted that if the MDC leadership accepted the recalling of the MPs,
there may be by-polls soon, as happened in 2003 when ex-MDC Highfield
lawmaker Munyaradzi Gwisai was expelled from the party.
The dreadlocked Socialist International activist then elected to stand as an
independent, and lost heavily.
According to MDC's constitution, Article 12.4.3, it is the party's
prerogative to recall elected candidates.
"In the event that a district executive committee is dissatisfied for any
reason with the performance of their elected candidate, it shall have the
right to petition the National Council to recall that candidate. Such a
petition must be signed by a two-thirds majority of wards in the district,"
reads the constitution.
Stevenson and Misihairabwi-Mushonga were arguably the most vociferous MPs
not in the top six who openly backed participation in the Senate.
In an opinion article, Stevenson accused MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai of
straying the opposition party's values.
She said: "Tragically, Morgan Tsvangirai is as human as the rest of us, and
is subject to the basic weaknesses of the rest of mankind. It is in fact our
fault, as his colleagues, that we have allowed him to stray from the vision
of the MDC, which is not so much about removing Robert Mugabe and taking
over government, but about the kind of society we want to build in
Chimanikire remained defiant yesterday and dismissed the move as a nullity.
"As far as l am concerned, that decision had nothing to do with the
districts. It is the National Council which makes decisions for the whole
nation (party structures country-wide) and that decision cannot be reviewed
at district level," he said.
He defended his stance on the Senate, saying he acted in his status as an
MDC top executive and not as Mbare MP.
"I know that this is being pushed by those who are anti-Senate, but their
actions are of no consequence," Chimanikire boasted.
Stevenson said: "I don't know about that. I do not know about that," before
her phone went off, while Misihairabwi could not be reached.
Last month, the pro-Senate camp suspended Tsvangirai from the party on
charges of breaching the constitution, something his faction readily
dismissed as untenable.
The High Court went on to dismiss an urgent chamber application by the pro-
Senate faction seeking confirmation of the suspension.
Tsvangirai has since summoned his rebelling rivals to a hearing scheduled
for Saturday. Meanwhile, the pro-Senate camp yesterday held a national
council meeting in Harare attended by 52 party officials including MDC
vice-president Sibanda, Ncube, Fletcher Dulini-Ncube, Chimanikire, Paul
Themba Nyathi, Stevenson and Job Sikhala.
Addressing journalists soon after at Mendel Centre in Marlborough, Sibanda
said the meeting resolved, among other things, not to attend Saturday's
disciplinary hearing called by Tsvangirai's camp.
He said: "We directed as a national council that Sibanda, Ncube,
Chimanikire, Stevenson and others must not appear before the bogus
disciplinary hearing set for Saturday."
Sibanda also stated that the national council did not recognise Nyathi's
removal as party national spokesperson.
On the no confidence vote issue, Sibanda, who maintained that Tsvangirai
remained suspended despite the High Court ruling to the contrary, said as
far as the national council was concerned, the decision was null and void.
"We are operating from Bulawayo because Tsvangirai has stationed thugs at
Harvest House (the MDC national headquarters in Harare)," he added.
"Recently, a party official in Bulawayo suffered a broken leg at the hands
of one of Tsvangirai's thugs."
Daily Mirror, Zimbabwe
The Daily Mirror Reporter
issue date :2005-Dec-15
ZIMBABWE was last week elected to chair the general assembly of the
Association of African Election Authorities (AAEA) for the next three years.
In a statement this week, the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) said:
"At a meeting of electoral experts from Africa, the Association of African
Election Authorities (AAEA) third meeting of the general assembly held in
Nairobi, Kenya, between December 7 and 9 2005, Zimbabwe was chosen to chair
the general assembly for three years."
Zimbabwe was elected ahead of four other countries who exhibited interest in
leading the group.
According to the ESC, this effectively means that Zimbabwe was privileged to
host the fourth meeting of the AAEA in 2008.
The chairman of the ESC, Theophilus Gambe, and commissioner Shingi Mutumbwa,
represented Zimbabwe at the meeting in Nairobi.
AAEA was formed to promote and institutionalise the professional nature of
African election authorities through regional exchanges and networking.
"It grew out of the colloquium of African election authorities held in
Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe in November 1994," part of the statement read. The
organisation consists of the general assembly, an advisory board and
Sokwanele - Enough is Enough - Zimbabwe
PROMOTING NON-VIOLENT PRINCIPLES TO ACHIEVE DEMOCRACY
1. A little light
A couple of days ago we asked if you could help us to become the top African blog in a category that we share with Middle East bloggers (we're finalists in the Best Middle East or Africa blog). Our closest African competitor comes from Egypt - 'Rantings of a Sandmonkey' (that's his picture to the left).
When we sent out our email yesterday, our votes stood at 514. The current totals at the time of writing this email show that we increased our votes by a whopping 328 votes ! Thank you all very much.
This is the status at the time of writing this email. Current totals are in bold, and votes at the time of our last email are in italics:
At one point we surged past the Sandmonkey, and true to the title of his blog, he started ranting! Here's his most recent appeal for votes:
“Vodoo-using-angel-cancer-giving-zimbabweans” …?! That’s a neat twist on the usual names pro-democracy Zimbabweans are called. Makes a change from ‘enemy of the state’, or ‘British stooge’, or ‘Blair’s puppet’.
We must point out, in fairness, that the Sandmonkey does post critical information that drives forward democracy in Egypt in between his various rants. So we're not taking it personally at all.
However, you all know how to respond to 'smear campaigns'! Please can you quietly, with dignity, show the Sandmonkey again what a formidable force Zimbabweans are when they vote. Please email your friends and ask them to vote too. Today is the last day!
You can vote at home, and again at work! Diaspora Zimbabweans in Australia - and early risers in Zimbabwe - can vote on the morning of the 16th as well provided 24 hours has elapsed since the last time you voted on that computer..
Voting officially closes at this time: 11:59:00 p.m. Thursday December 15, 2005 USA - Eastern time
This means that voting closes at the following times in other cities around the world:
Thank you for your support!
2. A Christmas offer for Zimbabweans
Christmas is financially a very difficult time of the year, especially if you live in a country where there is hyper-inflation. One of our writers posting to our blog described the situation in Zimbabwe and told the world how they would not be able to afford to buy gifts this year. Bruce Holland Rogers, a writer in America, was so angered and moved that he got in touch with us:
Bruce Holland Rogers has offered a free subscription to 100 Zimbabweans as a Christmas gift from him. If you would appreciate a short story emailed to you approximately three times a month, or if you want to give it someone else as a gift, then please email us by Saturday 17th December and ask for the short story offer.
If this is a gift for someone else, please remember to send us the name and email address of the person who will be receiving the short stories. That's all we need - no personal messages will be attached to the subscription. Please double-check that the email address you send is correct.
Samples of the short stories can be read at this link: http://www.shortshortshort.com. The stories are usually between 500 and 1500 words long and arrive as unformatted e-mail text. Bruce Holland Rogers has won awards for his short stories. One of his stories won the World Fantasy Award for the best short fiction work of fantasy published in the English language for 2004.
Bruce's offer is evidence of one person's kindness and a desire to do something positive for Zimbabweans, no matter how small. His offer is also evidence that what we write on our blog has an impact on people outside our country and and that we are letting people know what life in Zimbabwe is really like. Which is why we called our blog, 'This is Zimbabwe' !
So please don't forget to vote!
We have a fundamental right to freedom of expression!
Sokwanele does not endorse the editorial policy of any source or website except its own. It retains full copyright on its own articles, which may be reproduced or distributed but may not be materially altered in any way. Reproduced articles must clearly show the source and owner of copyright, together with any other notices originally contained therein, as well as the original date of publication. Sokwanele does not accept responsibility for any loss or damage arising in any way from receipt of this email or use thereof. This document, or any part thereof, may not be distributed for profit.