Fraud rocks CFX Chris Goko CFX Bank Ltd, the
retail arm of CFX Financial Services, recorded a $115 billion loss as of
October this year and has approached the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for
permission to recall its statutory reserve funds to cover the yawning
The solvency crisis, exposed by both internal and external
probes, could claim the scalps of several top managers at the former Century
Bank and exposes inherent weaknesses in the merged entity.
Financial Services, in correspondence to hand, alleges that management at
Century Bank withheld information on bad accounts. CFX was thus lured into
marrying a dishonest partner.
CFX, whose merger with Century was
sealed in mid-May, took out profit warning statements this week saying
"profitability of the commercial bank will be significantly below
It did not elaborate on the reasons for the financial
haemorrhage, giving assurances, however, that corrective measures were being
taken. The cautionary said other group associates would perform
Information gleaned from financial sector sources
indicates that CFX Bank incurred an accumulated loss of $115 billion in the
year to October 31 and the company's board blames the former owners for the
mess at one of the few surviving banks.
CFX's board, chaired by
respected banker Isaac Takawira, is begging the central bank for a capital
adequacy refund, which it will reinvest as treasury bills held by the
regulator in a bid to save the bank from collapse and thus save about 9 000
The proposals would see the RBZ refunding CFX's
current $10 billion statutory reserve obligations and exempting the
stuttering bank from capital adequacy subscriptions for a
"A preliminary audit undertaken by PriceWaterhouseCoopers (PwC)
that CFX Bank Ltd has incurred an accumulated loss of $115
billion to 31 October 2004," a source said.
"Basing on some
workings they could recover this loss if the RBZ allows them to use
statutory reserves to generate income."
Papers signed by Takawira
confirm the fraud. ". . . the loss was fraudulently withheld from
shareholders of CFX Merchant Bank at the time of the merger and subsequently
from the Reserve Bank at the time of determining capital adequacy of the
commercial bank," the papers say.
Although the implementation of the
proposal would not immediately curtail losses, it would mitigate monthly
losses and enable the bank to fully recover by June next
Takawaira, who was in Harare earlier this week, promised
drastic action against "culpable CFX Bank management", and the new
shareholders are threatening to reverse the deal with the former Century
Holdings citing fraud.
Takawira's call was prompted by internal
investigations, concluded on Monday, which indicate that bank accounts "were
computer-engineered" by a key accounting manager (name supplied), who has
since taken leave effective yesterday.
CFX, using the Equation
banking system, fell victim to the crafty managers who tabulated a pre-tax
profit of nearly $873 million in October yet the software records a near $20
PwC, in correspondence to the merged bank's chief
executive Wilson Gwatiringa, corroborates the software tampering at the
bank, urging the firing or suspension of culprits who were identified in the
The report further notes discrepancies linked to
"inflation of interest expense", saying the new interest figure as reflected
in the management accounts did not match client statements.
internal audit particularly targets the information and technology
department for aiding the creative accounting scandal.
October 31, the management accounts and Equation reflected a cumulative
management account profit of $9,5 billion, while aggregated loss as given by
the banking software is $115,2 billion, meaning there was a $124 billion
The balance sheets also gave total assets at nearly $259
billion, while liabilities are $374 billion.
"I strongly feel
that the adjustments noted above are done on an Excel spreadsheet and they
are adjusted backwards from the management accounts back to the Equation
system, ie the management accounts showing desired results are prepared
first, then adjustments to tie up to Equation are made," the report
CFX boss Gwatiringa did not return calls from this paper and
PwC acting boss Tinashe Rwodzi was unreachable for comment. RBZ officials
flatly refused to comment.
Apart from the accounting fallout,
CFX's forerunner is not new to governance-linked shortcomings. It was
plagued by allegations of inadequate banking law compliance and enforcement
flaws at a time it traded with the failed ENG Capital.
problems, though, contain grave ramifications for its stock exchange listing
and have seen Innscor Africa backing off from further capital
EU to review Mugabe sanctions Dumisani
Muleya THE European Union is reviewing targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe's
political leadership ahead of their renewal next year.
A flurry of
shuttle diplomacy involving the European Union and other interested parties
on the long-running Zimbabwe crisis is under way ahead of the 2005
Diplomatic sources confirmed that senior officials from the
African desks of Britain and France's foreign ministries were in Harare over
the past two weeks to put out feelers on possible re-engagement with
The EU in February 2002 imposed targeted
sanctions and travel bans on President Robert Mugabe and his regime to
protest repression and human rights abuses. It has also slapped Zimbabwe
with an arms embargo.
Sources said Britain and France are trying to
find a formula to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis.
Although the two
countries share a common EU position on Zimbabwe, they have different views
on how to handle the problem. In the absence of any change of behaviour by
Zanu PF, Britain wants a renewal of sanctions while France favours a policy
This accords with regional approaches, most notably
South Africa's "quiet diplomacy" aimed at persuading Zanu PF and the MDC to
negotiate a way out of the impasse.
British ambassador to
Zimbabwe, Dr Roderick Pullen, has been meeting cabinet ministers and Zanu PF
politburo members to discuss issues. British embassy spokesperson Gillian
Dare said Pullen had held meeting with authorities but there had been no
"policy shift" on Zimbabwe as yet.
"There have been some meetings and
they have listened to us and we have also listened to them but there is no
policy shift," she said. "The difference is that they are now more
responsive to dialogue."
The French position, which Britain appears
reluctantly to have embraced in return for France's cooperation over the
renewal of EU sanctions in February, dovetails with South African President
Thabo Mbeki's diplomacy.
Sources said Mbeki's approach, endorsed by
United States President George Bush last year during his visit to Pretoria,
is winning the day as it had become "the only show in
"Mbeki's policy of coaxing the two political parties to
re-engage, especially after the concessions Zimbabwe made in Mauritius, is
viewed as the more rewarding of the various policies," a Western diplomat
said this week. A recent report by the International Crisis Group (ICG) said
Western nations need to support Mbeki's initiative.
When the EU's
"Common Position" is renewed in February, it could be for just a few months
instead of a year to concentrate minds in Harare and hold out the rewards of
dialogue. But if the election is violent and openly manipulated, as was the
case in 2002, such concessions will prove
*Meanwhile, the EU parliament yesterday adopted a
resolution condemning the passage of repressive legislation in Zimbabwe and
demanding the release of Roy Bennett.
War vets defy Mugabe Gift Phiri/Loughty Dube IN
what appears to be open defiance of President Robert Mugabe's orders, war
veterans in the three Matabeleland provinces have said they do not recognise
the interim chairman Andrew Ndlovu and his organising committee, insisting
that dismissed chairperson Jabulani Sibanda is still their
Mugabe suspended Sibanda from the ruling Zanu PF for four years
after he attended an unauthorised meeting in Tsholotsho in Matabeleland
North. Also suspended from the party were six party provincial chairpersons
while Information minister Jonathan Moyo, who reportedly called the meeting,
was reprimanded and faces further censure.
War veterans district
leaders from Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South, meeting in Bulawayo
last weekend, re-affirmed their support for the Sibanda-led executive and
denounced Ndlovu as a nonentity in the national association.
do not know Andrew Ndlovu," one district leader said. "What is he reforming
in the war veterans association and on whose behalf is he doing that? He
should go back to those that sent him and tell them that we do not want him
to intervene in our affairs."
Ndlovu this week claimed that he was
tasked by Mugabe to re-organise the Zimbabwe National War Veterans
Association, a claim that was dismissed by war veterans leaders at the
"As the legitimate interim chairman of the
association, I was tasked by President Mugabe to re-organise the party and
those that are claiming that I am illegitimate are the same people who
plotted the Tsholotsho attempted coup. But as it stands, I am in charge of
the association," Ndlovu said.
President Mugabe is the patron of the war
However, party insiders this week said Ndlovu was acting on
the instructions of Vice-President Joseph Msika who has openly clashed with
Sibanda on numerous occasions.
"The participation of Jabulani
Sibanda, Chinotimba and other misguided elements in an attempt to stage a
coup d'état against our revolutionary presidium and party is to us a matter
of life and death. It (is) aimed at causing bloodshed and suffering among
our people," Ndlovu said in a statement last week.
members of the war veterans we have declared a vote of no confidence in the
leadership of rebels Jabulani Sibanda and Chinotimba and all members who
attended and took part in the Tsholotsho Declaration."
Ministers get feel of Air Zim turbulence Itai
Dzamara THREE cabinet ministers and Air Zimbabwe acting managing director
Oscar Madombwe recently suffered the effects of declining service at the
national airline when they spent several hours stranded due to technical
problems and a go-slow by workers.
Transport and Communications
minister Chris Mushowe, under whose ministry the national airline falls, had
to resort to an Air Malawi plane after an Air Zimbabwe Boeing 737 had
returned to Harare International Airport soon after take-off due to
technical problems on Monday.
Special Affairs minister John Nkomo and
Information minister Jonathan Moyo were stranded at Harare airport when the
Friday and Saturday flights to Bulawayo were delayed by several hours due to
the go-slow at the national airline.
Madombwe, who was in China
to discuss an aircraft deal, failed to come back on Sunday as earlier
scheduled due to technical problems with the Boeing 767 plane that is plying
Madombwe yesterday confirmed the airline was experiencing
"It is largely a result of the go-slow. There
have been flight delays here and there and indeed it has affected some of us
and ministers," he said. "We are working on ensuring that such problems
The flight to China via Singapore was launched last
month amidst much fanfare but has suffered very low bookings. The persistent
technical problems at Air Zimbabwe could worsen the situation in the face of
stiff competition from established regional airlines.
yesterday confirmed from Malawi that he had to use an Air Malawi plane on
Monday evening after the pilot of an Air Zimbabwe Boeing 737 detected what
engineers said was a serious defect in the cabin.
"There was a
technical problem. This affected my plans because there was very little time
between the scheduled time of arrival and the connecting flight in
Johannesburg," Mushowe said. "I realised I couldn't use the Air Zimbabwe
plane and resorted to the Malawian plane that plies the Harare-Lubumbashi
route later that evening."
The plane, which also had passengers
booked for Johannesburg, returned to Harare airport less than 10 minutes
after take-off and had to reschedule the flight to Tuesday.
this week confirmed having spent up to four hours at the airport due to
delays in the departure of the flight to Bulawayo. The flight was scheduled
for early morning but was delayed to after lunch.
UK firms largest investors despite row Gift
Phiri BRITISH companies remain firmly ensconced in the Zimbabwean economy,
ranking among the country's largest investors despite the drawn-out
diplomatic row between Harare and London.
Information gleaned from
the country's prime investment promotion body, Zimbabwe Investment Centre,
reveals that 414 British companies are still operating in Zimbabwe. In his
opening remarks during the ruling Zanu PF's National People's Congress held
two weeks ago, President Robert Mugabe said the economy was in the hands of
a "racist minority and foreigners". He said there were "over 400 British
companies operating here making profits, and dividends being declared in
"I am not sure if Mr Blair knows this," he
The ZIC said there were 71 companies which were 100%
British-owned while 208 had either an equal partnership with locals or had a
dominating shareholding ranging from 60 to about 90%. Zimbabweans have a
controlling shareholding in 143 companies, which also have partnerships with
British companies. The companies operate across the spectrum of the economy
from agriculture, communication, commerce, construction, manufacturing,
mining, to tourism and transport.
It was not possible to obtain
comment from the British Business Association, an affiliate of the British
Embassy. But an embassy spokesperson told the Zimbabwe Independent that they
did not immediately have comprehensive records of the number of British
companies operating in Zimbabwe or their investment value.
British Embassy maintains contact with a number of companies operating in
Zimbabwe which are branches of British companies or which are owned or
part-owned by British parent companies," the spokesperson said.
Mangwana's circus Shakeman Mugari/Conrad
Dube THE Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, Paul Mangwana
is a firm believer in his own statistics. He believes Zimbabwe's
unemployment rate is only 9% instead of the widely accepted
Mangwana also believes the troubled National Social Security
Authority (NSSA) is the "best run" parastatal in the country. He even
believes millions of Malawians will soon trek back to Zimbabwe like they did
during the colonial era, to be employed by new farmers.
minister made these extraordinary claims this week at a press conference on
the preparations for the East, Central and Southern Africa Employers'
Conference to be held in Zimbabwe in January. The Employers Confederation of
Zimbabwe (Emcoz) is hosting the conference. The conference will be held in
Victoria Falls from January 26 to 28 and regional labour unions and employer
organisations are expected to attend.
But it was Labour minister
Mangwana who stole the show with his eloquent but far-fetched responses to
questions from the media. "I don't believe that the unemployment rate in
this country is 70%. In fact it's a lie. If that was the case it means 70%
of the country's population would have been dead by now," Mangwana remarked
"Therefore the correct rate of unemployment rate in this
country is 9%, that is the correct figure that I am using. That is the
figure that I was given by the Central Statistical Office (CSO)," Mangwana
claimed to the surprise of everyone present.
The minister was
however bogged down by his mathematical errors when he said that 1,5 million
people or about 30% of the employable labour force were gainfully employed
out of the five million who are economically active - thus confirming that
only 30% of the economically active are employed.
credibility further when he said about 1,8 million people were contributing
to NSSA - a wide 300 000 above the 1,5 million he had early stated. A
mathematical error perhaps. But the minister was not finished yet.
said all allegations of mismanagement against NSSA were unfounded.
came into office earlier this year. I immediately went into NSSA to verify
these allegations and found nothing.
"Really I found nothing amiss.
In fact NSSA is the best run parastatal in Zimbabwe. In any case why are we
not asking questions about private pension funds?" said Mangwana without
indicating what independent enquiry he had employed to reach that
This is despite the fact that a parliamentary public
accounts committee had earlier this year grilled NSSA officials and board
chairman, Edwin Manikai, over the state of the authority's accounts and
But the circus was only just beginning, as the
minister was to pull another shocker from his bag of startling revelations.
"And mind you Zimbabwe is short of farm labour. So we might find ourselves
trekking to Malawi for farm labour."
The Zimbabwe Confederation
of Trade Unions (ZCTU) immediately lashed out at the minister saying he has
little knowledge of labour issues.
ZCTU secretary-general Wellington
Chibebe said the figures Mangwana was "selling are coming from a legal
expert who is however not well versed with labour issues". Mangwana is a
lawyer by profession.
"The minister is easily excitable and does not
concern himself to research to verify his claims," said Chibebe. He said
government figures on employment contradict CSO figures which show that the
unemployment rate is between 65% and 70%.
Chibebe said there was
no need to view "people earning slave money as employed".
is an element of employment, underemployment and unemployment which the
government is not considering in the calculation of employment
"However, the figures the minister is using are for political
expedience and cannot be relied on. If South Africa which has a vibrant
economy has an unemployment rate of between 30% and 40%, how can Zimbabwe
have such low figures when industry is going down?"
companies have closed down this year alone, throwing many workers on the
streets. More than 400 companies have closed down since 2000.
Zesa goes farming Staff Writers THE
cash-strapped Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) has taken up
tobacco contract farming to raise foreign currency for power imports and
expansion of its generation capacity.
The development comes barely a
month after a telecommunications company, TeleAccess, turned to contract
tobacco farming and mining in a bid to raise US$160 million needed to import
equipment for its network rollout.
Zesa needs US$40 million to repay
China National Aero Technology Import Export Corporation (Catic) for
investments in power generation in the country. In the current season the
power utility is understood to have sponsored 3 900 hectares of Virginia
tobacco planted by both A1 and A2 farmers throughout the
Zesa Holdings group stakeholder relations manager Fullard
Gwasira confirmed that his organisation had ventured into farming to raise
money to pay back Catic.
"Zesa's participation in the tobacco
export sector is intended to raise the necessary foreign exchange to
amortise the investments from China," Gwasira said. "The agreement between
Zesa and Catic of China is worth about US$40 million."He said Zesa
Enterprises, a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings, had signed an agreement with
Catic for the expansion of Hwange and Kariba power
"This agreement is already operational and work on the
expansion programme is set to commence early next year," he
"The tobacco contract-growing scheme has so far seen flue-cured
tobacco planted on 3 557 hectares of land. US$20 million is expected to be
harvested by these farmers.
"Another 105 small-scale farmers are
expected to be contracted soon to grow 400 hectares of flue-cured tobacco.
The hectarage is planned to increase to 10 000 by 2006 for export to China,"
As of March this year, Zesa needed to raise US$543
million to recapitalise the Kariba and Hwange power
Zesa requires US$17 million a month to meet power import
requirements, operational costs and to settle debts.
utility has a capacity to generate only 65% of the country's requirements.
The remaining 35% is imported from Eskom of South Africa, Hydro Cahora Bassa
of Mozambique and Snel of the Democratic Republic of Congo.
African NGOs seek UN help on Zim Staff
Writer NON-GOVERNMENTAL Organisations (NGOs) in Africa have resolved to
pressure the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) to ask
the United Nations to send a special rapporteur to assess the situation of
human rights defenders in the country.
The continental organisation
made their submissions to the Commission's meeting held from November 23 to
December 7 in Dakar, Senegal.
In their resolution titled "ACHPR 36th
Session - NGO Forum Resolution on Zimbabwe", the African organisations said
there was a need for the government to also repeal repressive legislation
such as the Public Order and Security Act and the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act.
"The NGO forum resolves to recommend
to the African Commission on Human and People's Rights to recommend to the
government of Zimbabwe to invite the special rapporteur on the African
Commission on Human Rights defenders and the special representative of the
United Nations Secretary General on human rights defenders to visit Zimbabwe
to assess the situation of human rights defenders in Zimbabwe," the
The continental NGOs had also appealed to the
commission to urge Zimbabwe not to pass the NGOs Bill and the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission Bill in their current form as they violated and
"impinged on the African Charter and other international human rights
However, the Bills were both passed last week, and are
now awaiting presidential assent.
Of major concern to the NGO
forum was that promulgating such legislation would result in the closure of
some NGOs, criminalising human rights defenders and banning foreign
Mugabe slammed for subverting legal system Sydney
Morning Herald/Staff Writer PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is clinging to power by
driving judges from office and subverting the entire legal system, an
international group of lawyers who recently visited the country has
The International Council of Advocates and Barristers said in a
report it found that judges and the courts had been "profoundly compromised
over the past four years".
"We have concluded that the Zimbabwean
justice system has ceased to be independent and impartial," the report,
titled State of Justice in Zimbabwe, said.
"Many of those within
the system have been driven out by some kind of pressure, and much of the
legal system of Zimbabwe has been subverted by the Zanu PF government in an
effort to frustrate the proper working of democracy and to hold on to
power," it said.
"There are still judges and lawyers in the system
that are very courageous and brave and act according to the law, but these
people are in danger, which can even mean they fear for their
A special team of the International Council of Advocates and
Barristers led by Stephen Irwing prepared the report on Zimbabwe after a
fact-finding visit in April. Other members of the delegation were Glenn
Martin, president of the Queensland Bar Association in Australia;
vice-chairperson of the South African Bar Justice Poswa; vice-dean of the
Faculty of Advocates of Scotland, Roy Martin; and Conor Maguire, chairperson
of the Irish Bar.
The delegation met the Justice minister Patrick
Chinamasa, Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku, Judge President Paddington
Garwe, acting Attorney-General Bharat Patel, judges, magistrates,
prosecutors, clerks, interpreters, and recorders.
By the end of
the visit, Irwing and his team had accumulated more than 10kg of documents
from evidence given by many people regarding the justice delivery system in
the country. The report said some judges had been given land at nominal
rents under the government's land reform scheme. It states that some judges
have been promoted above more senior colleagues, while Mugabe's sympathisers
handle sensitive political cases.
"The legal culture has been
subverted for political ends," the report said.
Even the attorney-general
- whose role is more akin to a director of public prosecutions - conceded
politics was a factor in the appointment of judges. A visit to Patel's
office convinced the council he was "under immense pressure from his
It said the interference began after the
government published a list of 1 471 white-owned farms for acquisition in
1997. Two years later, the Administrative Court declared the notices invalid
and in 2000 the Supreme Court ruled the government had failed to follow the
correct procedures for acquisition.
In the past three years four
Supreme Court judges have been replaced following withering criticism from
the government. In March 2001, a former deputy Justice minister, Godfrey
Chidyausiku, was appointed Chief Justice - a month after accusing the then
Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay of "bias in favour of white
Six months later he was listed as the owner of 895 hectares
of farmland in Mazowe. Two of the other appointees have been given more than
1 800 hectares.
The council also recorded the arrest of two
judges, one of whom found the Justice minister Chinamasa guilty of contempt
in his last case before retirement. Last year, a serving High Court judge
was arrested in chambers after handing down a series of anti-government
decisions. The charges in both cases were later withdrawn.
lower end of the justice system, magistrates have been under attack. In
August 2002, one was dragged out of his courtroom by Zanu PF supporters
after he granted bail to two officials from the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change. Another was stabbed.
There were now 59
vacancies for magistrates' posts and a backlog of more than 60 000 cases in
April. The council found the judiciary was attacked "to frustrate the proper
workings of democracy and to hold on to power. It seems clear they would not
have held on to power otherwise.
Zanu PF links may dash royal affair Staff
Writer TRADE links between a white Zimbabwean business tycoon and Zanu PF
heavyweights who were granted lucrative hunting and photographic concessions
during the government's sullied land reform scheme has sparked controversy
which has a royal dimension.
Charles Davy, the father of Prince
Harry's girlfriend, Chelsy, has carved out a fortune through marketing
wildlife hunting safaris owned by President Robert Mugabe's
The Zimbabwe Independent can reveal that the background
to Davy's wealth includes business partnerships with some of Mugabe's close
lieutenants who have been accused of corruptly using their influence to
acquire Parks and Wildlife concessions.
The beneficiaries, whose
safari concessions are now being marketed by Davy's HHK Safaris, hold long
leases on farms in hunting and photographic destinations in central
Midlands, Matetsi Safari Area, the south-western and south-eastern shores of
Lake Kariba and the south-western Lowveld of Zimbabwe.
Harry has been photographed with Chelsy in South Africa prior to their
departure for a Mozambique island resort last week.
director Vincent Davy on Wednesday said his organisation was not based on
any political benefaction.
"HHK was started in 1998 and it is not
based on any political patronage," Davy said. "It was not then and it is not
now. It does not have any hunting concession area of its own. HHK is not a
concessionaire. HHK is a marketing organisation."
hand indicates that HHK Safaris' marketing wing, Safari Marketing and
Management Services, market five hunting concessions with 15 camps. These
are Chirisa owned by Famba Safaris, Unit 1 and Kasibi held by Matetsi
Wildlife, Chete owned by Burmakino Travel and Tours, Omay by National
Safaris and Lemco owned by Mazunga Safari.
Investigations by the
Independent reveal that Webster Shamu, the Minister of State for Policy
Implementation in Mugabe's office, is a shareholder in Famba Safaris, the
holding company for Chirisa concession and has also been represented by HKK
Safaris during international hunting conventions.
Shamu, who has been
tipped to take over as the next Information minister, has also been fingered
in the contentious allocation of Matetsi Unit 5. He was once the editor of
the People's Voice, the official mouthpiece of the ruling Zanu PF. Reached
for comment on Wednesday, Shamu declined to comment on the matter saying it
was a contentious issue sparked by a love affair of "two kids", a reference
to Harry and Chelsy.
The Independent understands that in Matetsi 5
concession, seven units in the area were leased to ruling party and
high-ranking government officials. Unit 1, which is currently trading as
Matetsi Wildlife, is in the name of Eddie Kadzombe, Unit 2 Mike Chidziwa,
Unit 3 Enos Dube, Unit 4 Jacob Mudenda, Unit 5 Shamu, Unit 6 Army General
Constantine Chiwenga and Unit 7 Lovemore Chihota.
Tourism minister Francis Nhema has confirmed that his Zanu PF colleagues
named have concessions but vehemently denied allegations of favouritism.
Trying to rebut a widely-held perception that the allocation of hunting
concessions only benefited leading Zanu PF politicians, Nhema said
everything was done above board. He said they went to tender and emerged
"They attended the auctions for the concessions. It is
on record how they got the concessions and how the auction happened," Nhema
Questions are now being asked about the suitability of Chelsy to be
a royal bride following reports that Prince Harry plans to marry her.
Already the love affair has caused consternation in Royal circles with many
Britons arguing that the Prince cannot marry into a family whose head sups
with the Mugabe regime.
Zanu PF rushing Bills for March
election Gift Phiri PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is pulling out all the stops
to ensure the ruling Zanu PF wins the crucial parliamentary election due in
March next year.
Analysts say Mugabe's measures were part of a wider plan
to further undermine civil and political liberties, and the freedoms of
association, assembly and expression in a bid to entrench the current
regime's totalitarian grip on every facet of life.
laws would come in handy for Zanu PF, which is evidently afraid of a free
population and democratic elections. The ruling party is likely to use the
laws to strengthen its growing agenda of repression, human rights abuses and
An electoral reform Bill was pushed through
parliament last week but the draft legislation impedes rather than create
genuinely independent and impartial electoral authority. Government is
struggling to make electoral reforms to comply with the Southern African
Development Community (Sadc) principles and guidelines governing
A new security law, the Criminal Law (Codification and
Reform) Bill, was also bulldozed through the House last week. Critics have
said it criminalises the journalism profession and makes it a crime to
The Bill seeks to impose up to 20 years'
imprisonment, heavy fines, or both for anyone publishing "false" information
deemed "prejudicial against the state". It would make it an offence to
publish or communicate "to any other person a statement which is wholly or
materially false with the intention or realising that that there is a real
risk of inciting or promoting public disorder or public violence or
endangering public safety; or adversely affecting the defence and economic
interests of Zimbabwe; or undermining public confidence in a law enforcement
agency, the Prison Service or the Defence Forces of Zimbabwe; or interfering
with, disrupting or interrupting any essential service".
New-York based Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) immediately called for
the repeal of the law in a damning letter fired off to Mugabe.
is outraged at your government's continued clampdown on independent media in
Zimbabwe, including proposed new legislation that could be used to jail
journalists for up to 20 years," the press freedom organisation said in the
letter. "At a time when several other African countries are lifting criminal
sanctions for press offences, bringing their laws in line with international
standards, Your Excellency's government is preparing to introduce penalties
that are among the harshest on the continent."
The CPJ reminded
Mugabe of Zimbabwe's commitment to the Sadc principles and guidelines
governing democratic elections, which include safeguarding freedom of
expression and access to the media.
Another Bill, the
Non-Governmental Organisations (NGO), was passed by parliament - in spite of
fierce criticism - last week. It will ban foreign-funded rights groups in
Analysts say the government's political language in the
last few months has
signalled the launching of a campaign against NGOs,
the latest targets of Zanu PF's attempt to silence
Analysts said the proposed electoral law, the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC) Bill, hampers the establishment of an impartial
electoral body in four key ways.
"First, the method of appointing
electoral commissioners does not provide for the sufficient inclusion of
various political parties," Peter Takirambudde, executive director of Human
Rights Watch's Africa Division said. "Second, the Bill does not adequately
restrict high-ranking political party office holders from being appointed as
commissioners. Third, the Bill provides numerous opportunities for
ministerial intervention in the work of the commission. Fourth, the
establishment of the commission solely through an ordinary statute makes it
vulnerable to repeal."
Mugabe has branded the charities "megaphones
for their foreign masters" and "enemies of the state". Already, two British
organisations - Oxfam and Save the Children and a Swiss charity Medair -
have been stopped from distributing food to the hungry. Since the tabling of
the NGO Bill, whose provisions include a requirement to register with the
government-body, the NGO council, there has been a concentrated effort to
single out as "imperialist agents" specific groups such as the Amani Trust,
Transparency International, the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace,
Legal Resources Foundation, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition and the National
Constitutional Assembly - all of whom have helped expose the government's
appalling human rights record.
While the government's intolerance
of NGOs is not new, the current hype against them has shown renewed
determination to eliminate dissent and destroy their capacity to
Brian Kagoro, a lawyer and human rights activist, said the
government was determined to mount a sustained programme to emasculate civil
society, pull the rug from under the feet of the established independent
organisations and create its own groups. Already, a disturbing trend is
evident with the emergence of state-sponsored groups who pose as civil
society organisations while promoting Mugabe and state
"The issue is not about the NGOs having done anything
wrong but about control," Kagoro said. "They are aiming at clearing the
space for their own pliant organisations who will praise the government in
the name of nationalism. When people say there is no associational life in
Zimbabwe they will simply point to the ones they have created," he said.
Tourism fails to rise from the ashes By Ray
Matikinye CLIMB over a gentle incline along the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls
highway and a roadside shop gradually looms, marking the entrance to Lupane
growth point that is billed to become the future provincial capital of
A few metres from the verge of the highway,
32-year-old Kizito Tshabangu stands up from a wooden stool placed in the
midst of various carvings spread on the ground and twists his torso in both
directions to unloosen cramped limbs.
"I hardly get any customers
these days. This period of the year towards the festive season used to be
our best time selling artefacts to tourists," reminisces Tshabangu, who
bemoans that he spends most of his time spitting and polishing the stone
carvings to maintain their shine despite little hope of getting his wares
Tshabangu specialises in exquisite carvings made out of teak
found in abundance in the surrounding forest. He has diversified into stone
"At times I feel like abandoning it all and just
going home. But I have a family to feed and children to send to school so I
convince myself that better times lie ahead," he says without much
His despondency is illustrative of the tourism industry's
failure to rise from the ashes of Zimbabwe's economic and political
environment like the proverbial phoenix.
A boom in tourism during
the few years preceding the often-violent farm invasions in 2000 and its
attendant political upheaval brought about a legion of wood and stone
carvers keen to capitalise on an influx of tourists driving along major
Chug along major highways across the country today and
witness small communities of wood and stone carvers living in flimsy plastic
or pole and mud shacks, waiting in vain for customers. These communities
flourished as informal foreign currency exchange points while the tourism
boom lasted. The decline in business for the roadside wood and stone carvers
serves as a barometer for the sharp decline in the motoring
"Now I am lucky to get a single buyer in a week," Tshabangu
Statistics from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe indicate that receipts
from tourism peaked at US$232 million in 1996 and slumped to US$124 million
in 2000. They then slid to US$43,40 million in 2001.
decade 1989 to 1999 tourist arrivals grew at an average 17,5% while tourist
receipts increased at an average 18%. However, the prevailing political
environment has witnessed the sector experience its worst
But the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) says it is
working hard to ensure that the "Look East" tourism policy becomes a success
story, expecting the industry to ride on the back of the Asian
"Asia is a new market for Zimbabwe and therefore might take
some time to grow to high levels that we may all want them to reach," says
ZTA research and development director Simba Mandinyenya. "But things are
looking good as Asian visitors continue to rise. These are just signs of
good fortunes to come for us and so we should be
According to the ZTA, Chinese visitors recorded the highest
increase in the number of tourist arrivals to Zimbabwe from January to
September 2004. A total of 24 000 Chinese visited the country during the
period, representing a 392% increase compared to the 4 960 arrivals in
Despite government claims of a boom, Zimbabwe Council of
Tourism chairman Shingi Munyeza says his organisation, which represents the
bulk of tourism companies, has yet to see the benefits of its
"The Chinese move in large numbers but they are bad spenders.
majority come through South Africa."
Statistics from ZTA
do not impress Tshabangu who says his business counts on the motoring
"Our customer base is the motorist, particularly those from
South Africa. Since the fuel situation began to deteriorate in 2001, there
has been fewer and fewer such tourists driving along this highway," he
So to maintain a steady flow of business some of
Tshabangu's colleagues have decided to take their artefacts to the customers
at Victoria Falls where tourists fly in and fly out.
all go to Victoria Falls where police constantly harass those selling
artefacts," he says.
Zimbabwe's tourism industry has been floundering
despite efforts by various organisations to shore up its flagging fortunes.
In September the National Economic Consultative Forum completed an
interactive CD-Rom meant to boost tourist inflows ahead of an international
exposition to be held in Aich, Japan, next March.
says his organisation has also identified key zones in the Shashi-Limpopo
Beitbridge, Great Zimbabwe and Gonarezhou Transfrontier Park that it intends
to develop because of their high potential for tourists.
Moyo botches 'Battle for Tsholotsho' Dumisani
Muleya/Gift Phiri EMBATTLED Information minister Jonathan Moyo faces further
humiliation today when President Robert Mugabe announces a new Zanu PF
politburo during a central committee meeting.
Moyo was recently
booted out of the central committee after he convened a controversial
meeting in Tsholotsho, reportedly aimed at staging a palace coup against the
Zanu PF old guard.
Mugabe attacked Moyo over the issue before he
kicked him out of the 242-member central committee. This automatically
ensured Moyo would be left out of the politburo.
struggling to ride out a series of problems that he has created for himself.
He is also trying to win Tsholotsho in next year's general
But Moyo's attempt to win the hearts and minds of the
people of Tsholotsho suffered another blow this week when his plans to rope
in the country's most popular soccer clubs - Caps United and Highlanders -
to play in his $50 million challenge match hung in the
The match was organised by the Tsholotsho Sports
Association, Moyo's brainchild.
Newly crowned Premier Soccer
League (PSL) champions Caps United initially said they would send a
second-string side to play former champions Highlanders in the "Battle of
Tsholotsho" at Tsholotsho business centre but later changed their
Although it was not possible to get an official comment from
Highlanders, a senior official at the Bulawayo giants said their team would
not be used as a "political condom".
Caps play in the Zifa Unity
Cup match on Sunday while Highlanders are set to engage South Africa's Black
Leopards and Dynamos to raise money to meet their financial
Winners in Moyo's match were set to walk away with $35
million, while losers would get $15 million. It was not clear where Moyo got
the sponsorship money. There have been a lot of queries about his avalanche
of donations in Tsholotsho. Ministers earn $16,5 million per year. They also
get a cabinet allowance of $29 030, a general allowance of $18 670 and a
housing allowance of $125 000.
Moyo is not a known businessman
and this has fuelled speculation about the source of his donations and money
to finance soccer matches, beauty pageants and his shadowy music band,
PSL secretary-general Chris Sambo said yesterday the soccer
body was not involved in Moyo's match.
"The PSL is not involved
in the organisation of that game," he said. "We know nothing about the
Tsholotsho match. We have not been contacted by the
Confusion seemed to engulf the Moyo match yesterday
as officials sounded uncertain about the game. Caps United chairman Andy
Hodges initially said the team would send a weakened side.
will send a team but it won't be a full strength squad," Hodges said. But
later he said: "Without PSL approval we cannot play."
Tsholotsho Sports Association yesterday faxed a letter dated November 30
seeking approval for the match but PSL was in a dilemma over the issue. The
letter said Tsholotsho would be "blessed and thrilled" by the match, which
was due to be played on a dusty football pitch in rural Tsholotsho.
Loans abuse may backfire for Agribank Itai
Dzamara THE Agricultural Development Bank (Agribank) could fail to get the
proposed $150 billion from next year's annual budget following expressions
of outrage by the presidency over the handling of this year's allocation as
well as interest rate levels.
Agribank was allocated $60 billion this
year, which it has exhausted on loans to farmers. However, there are reports
of gross abuse of the loan facility by government officials and that in most
cases the money was used for purposes other than agricultural
Vice-President Joseph Msika this week said the presidency
had requested a probe and an explanation from Agribank management on the
allocation and use of funds as well as interest rates
Msika openly disapproved of the figures presented to Zanu PF
at its national congress a fortnight ago by Agriculture minister Joseph
"We were shocked to hear that the rates had been increased by
huge margins without our consent," Msika said. "Something is wrong with the
manner things have been done at the bank and we have ordered a probe before
any funds could be released."
Made told the Zanu PF congress that
interest rates on loans had been increased from 20% to 70%, a factor which
could have contributed to failure by resettled farmers to access the
The parliamentary portfolio committee on budget and
finance told the House two months ago that senior government officials had
benefited from Agribank loans. The committee recommended a probe, which is
currently under way.
Sources at Agribank said the list of names of
people who accessed loans that reportedly comprised senior government
officials disappeared after the parliamentary committee's
Government restructured Agri-bank last year to finance the
controversial land reform programme. Agricultural production has drastically
gone down partly owing to failure by the beneficiaries to engage in
meaningful production due to lack of capital.
No consensus between Zanu PF/MDC on
polls Dumisani Muleya/Itai Dzamara THREE months before next year's general
election, the ruling Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) are still "worlds apart" on contentious electoral reforms. This
follows reports in the government media that the two parties are in
agreement on electoral reform.
MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube said
the two parties were still poles apart on the political reform agenda. The
reforms are contained in the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Bill and
the accompanying Electoral Bill.
"There still remains an
extremely wide gulf between Zanu PF and the MDC on the electoral reforms,"
"It's not true that we are now proceeding by consensus
because there is no agreement. What has happened is that they have made a
few technical concessions, like improving the quality of drafting of the
Bill, but not on fundamentals issues."
The ZEC Bill was passed by
parliament last week while the Electoral Bill was passed yesterday. The
changes will result in voting in one day instead of two, use of translucent
ballot boxes, and the counting of ballots at polling centres.
Electoral Bill will amend the Electoral Act to facilitate
Reports in the state media this week claimed Zanu PF and the MDC
had found common ground on key electoral issues, but Ncube said this was
untrue. He said the parties were still entrenched in widely divergent
"We still have irreconcilable differences on the method of
appointment of commissioners to the ZEC, the role of the Registrar-General's
Office, the voters' roll, and the issue of repressive legislation," Ncube
"Yesterday (Wednesday) we were refused permission to hold
consultative meetings and where permission was granted there were impossible
Ncube, who has previously engaged in
informal talks with Zanu PF negotiator Patrick Chinamasa on the current
crisis, said Zanu PF's obduracy militated against a negotiated political
"There are still a lot of contentious issues," he said.
"Out of the more than 30 proposals we have made, Zanu PF has only accepted
about five. They have agreed to give us access to the state media but it's
an empty agreement if there are no enforcement mechanisms.
ZCTU says forum waste of Conrad Dube THE
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has said that the resumption of the
Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF) will be a waste of time without political
commitment to its objectives.
ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chebebe
told the Zimbabwe Independent that the labour union was wary of government
using the forum as a publicity stunt without benefits accruing to members as
the nation prepares for the March 2005 election.
"We are concerned that without political commitment the social dialogue will
become useless. The machinations by government which derailed earlier social
protocols will not help the TNF go forward.
"We are mindful of the
possibility of intentions to use the TNF as a publicity stunt going to the
general election to portray a picture of unity among the social
He said there was need for the social partners to revisit
the founding principles of TNF and show commitment to transparency, equity
and fair-play among the social partners.
There have in the past
been disagreements on which labour organisation is expected to attend the
social dialogue between the ZCTU and the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions
The membership conflict is however set to worsen as another
labour federation seeks registration under the Labour
According to a Government Gazette of December 10, the Zimbabwe
Federation of Labour, which seeks to represent the interests of employees of
the Kapenta Workers Union of Zimbabwe, Private Security Workers Union, Motor
Industry and Allied Workers Union, and Horticulture, Ostriches, Crocodiles
and Allied Workers Union has applied for registration.
brings to four the number of labour federations in the country.
matter of the membership and absence of the ZFTU at this week's meeting,
Chibebe said: "We agreed that the matter had to be dealt with as part of the
labour symposium. That is why they did not come. There are some issues that
still have to be addressed for them to participate."
Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) president Mike Bimha said "the issue had
to be discussed by the social partners".
Public Service, Labour and
Social Welfare minister Paul Mangwana however said labour would be
represented by the three main labour bodies in the country.
ZTA to downgrade hotels Shakeman
Mugari THREE hotels risk having their star ratings downgraded by the Zimbabwe
Tourism Authority (ZTA) due to what insiders say is sub-standard
infrastructure and low quality of service, businessdigest can
The three ZSE-listed firms, Zim-sun Leisure Group (Zimsun),
Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG) and TA Holdings (TA), might have their flagship
hotels stripped of their stars.
The five-star Crowne Plaza
Monomatapa, owned by Zimsun, and RTG's Ambassador Hotel face downward
re-ratings. Jameson Hotel, owned by TA Holdings could also lose a
Sources say Crowne Plaza Monomatapa risks having its stars
reduced to four, down from the maximum of five. The Jameson could have its
stars slashed from four to three. The Ambassador Hotel risks having its
stars reduced to two from three.
Stars are an important aspect of
the tourism industry because they give an indication of the standard of
service and the quality of facilities at each hotel. They also indicate the
capacity of the hotel to provide certain services.
Sources at ZTA
told businessdigest that the authority was compiling a report on each of the
three hotels before they chop stars. The sensitive issue was expected to be
discussed by the ZTA board of directors this week.
Holdings and Rainbow Tourism Group have however professed ignorance of the
pending action. They said ZTA had not informed them of its intention to
re-rate their hotels.
RTG chief executive Chipo Mtasa said last week
that she had held a meeting with ZTA chief executive Tichaona Jokonya to
clarify the issue.
"I met with ZTA boss and he assured me that Ambassador
Hotel was safe," Mtasa said.
"He (Jokonya) said he had seen the
draft report on the issue. He however noted that he would have to come back
to us (hotels) with that report for us to respond to the issues
She said it was unfortunate that such information had been
leaked to the press before the hotels had responded to the issues raised by
the authority. "It is sad and unfortunate that the media should get to know
of such information before us. However, we will meet Jokonya again on the
issue," she said.
Concerning Zimsun's Crowne Plaza, Zimsun chief
executive Shingi Munyeza said he had not been informed of the move. "Even if
there was such a report we would have been given the right to respond. That
is the usual way of doing things. It's not like they would just downgrade
the hotel without us knowing," Munyeza said.
"I can tell you that
no report of that sort has come to us. What I can say though is that such a
thing would not happen without us knowing."
A TA spokesperson said it
was highly unlikely that their Jameson Hotel would lose a star. "It is
unfair to say that the Jameson would lose a star. It's unfair because we
cannot be downgraded when we are still renovating the hotel," said the
If taken, the move could hit the tourism industry which
is curently reeling because of low tourist arrivals due to serious safety
concerns in traditional markets.Tourism has slumped by more than 60% since
2000 and is likely to plunge further due to the security problems that are
likely to surround next year's election.
Zim still to meet terms to access EU
funds Godfrey Marawanyika/Ndamu Sandu ZIMBABWE will not access the
European Union's ?109 million grant for technical assistance from the
European Development Fund (EDF) as it has not addressed the concerns raised
by the EU prior to the aid ban, it emerged this week.
The grant is
meant for development of various sectors of the economy.
The EU suspended
aid to Zimbabwe in 2002 over lack of freedom of the media, unfair elections,
subversion of the judiciary, political violence and disorderly land
Although the EU is reviewing Zimbabwe's grant next year, it
has availed ?7,5 million for HIV/Aids programmes.
The EU head of
delegation to Zimbabwe Francesca Mosca said the money was available but the
country has to meet the EU's conditions to access the
"Funds are still there earmarked for Zimbabwe but the EU
has some concerns which it raised in 2002," Mosca said.
that for local organisations to access the HIV/Aids funds they had to be
first registered by the government under the relevant new
Last week parliament passed the NGO Bill that will repeal
the Private Voluntary Organisations Act.
The new legislation will
make it illegal for local NGOs involved in human rights and governance
issues to receive foreign funding.
The money will be used to assist
NGOs to work in close cooperation with public health institutions in at
least eight districts in the country.
Mosca said that the EU
headquarters in Brussels had recently approved the money.
money was approved sometime in November and it is meant for HIV/Aids
projects," she said.
"The money is coming. As required by the
law, the NGOs should seek registration and we are hoping they will not face
She said the funds would only be disbursed to
Government has given all NGOs that are already
operating and legally registered under the PVO Act a six-month grace period
to comply with the new regulations.
The NGO Bill now awaiting
President Robert Mugabe's assent will result in the creation of an NGO
council composed of five civil society and nine government
The five representatives will be appointed at the
discretion of the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare.
Current, capital accounts in red Godfrey
Marawanyika THE country's current and capital accounts last year registered a
fourth consecutive decline, a situation the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
concedes is a major challenge in its economic turnaround plans.
its 2003 annual report, the RBZ said the current account registered a
deficit of US$581 million.
The central bank also said by the end
of last year, the capital account had a deficit of US$248,7
A current account depicts the country's exports and imports
The capital account reflects the country's foreign direct
investments, which also includes foreign aid and grants.
Gono's central bank said the country's balance of payments performance
continued to decline in 2003 to an overall deficit of US$334,8 million
compared to US$496,3 million in 2002.
The central bank said exports
declined by 13,8% to US$1,2 billion in 2003, from US$1,4 billion in 2002.
This was marked by declines in agriculture (-20%) and manufacturing (-2,3%),
which offset a growth of 12,7% in mineral exports.
It said the
decline in agricultural exports to US$517,1 million from US$646,6 million in
2002 mirrored falls in tobacco (-26,1%), horticulture (-7%) and beef
"Export performance in this sector (beef) was largely
constrained by persistent foreign currency shortages which affected the
procurement of essential inputs in the sector and foot and mouth disease,
coupled with the 2002 drought which depleted the national herd," the report
"Manufactured exports declined from US$287,2 million in 2002 to
US$280,6 million in 2003 due to loss of export competitiveness aggravated by
high domestic inflation, which stood at 598,7% in December 2003, as well as
a shortage of foreign exchange to procure imported raw
The RBZ said mineral exports, however, grew to US$334
million in 2003 from US$296,3 million in 2002.
During the same
period total imports decreased by 15,4% from US$1,8 billion
in 2002 to
US$1,5 billion last year mainly because of declines in imported intermediate
inputs, food and energy, constituting over 50% of total
Last year food imports declined by 5,6% from US$214
million in 2002 to US$202 million last year due to lower than anticipated
"Energy imports declined by 41,6% from US$378,5
million in 2002 to US$221,2 million in 2003 with electricity imports
accounting for 24,6% of this, while fuel imports accounted for the balance.
Fuel imports declined by 48,4% from US$323 million in 2002 to US$166,7
million in 2003," the report said.
"At the back drop of these
developments the current account registered a deficit of US$581 million. The
capital account registered a fourth successive deficit of US$248,7
The central bank said the deficit was largely caused by the
suspension of the balance of payments support from multilateral
organisations, "net outflows of long-term and short-term capital, and
negligible foreign direct inflows".
Lack of funding bogs down GMB Conrad
Dube THE capacity of the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) to procure grain in the
coming year has been further weakened by the government's failure to provide
$1,2 trillion for subsidies under the 2005 national budget, parliament's
portfolio committee on lands, agriculture and water development heard last
The GMB had requested $1,4 trillion from the fiscus for
subsidies and future grain procurement but the Ministry of Finance did not
make any provision for that.
The parastatal's chief executive
Samuel Muvuti said: "We requested for $1,4 trillion of which $1,2 trillion
was meant to cover subsidies. We had expected to channel the difference
towards capital expenditure."
In the absence of government subsidies,
GMB cannot carry out planned capital projects as funds from the fiscus are
only enough to cover operational costs and to buy commodities from farmers.
The GMB, according to Muvuti, expected to venture into flour making and oil
extraction projects and to refurbish dilapidated silos
"GMB is losing money through contracting private
transport companies and thefts of grain and inputs in transit to various
destinations," said Muvuti. Part of the capital expenditure was earmarked
for the acquisition of 30-tonne trucks but no provision has been made for
The parastatal had requested $8,5 billion for the
acquisition of the 30-tonne trucks, another $8,5 billion for the purchase of
computers and $16 billion for the stockfeeds manufacturing centre being
established at the Norton depot.
It had also requested $23 billion
for the flour making project and $4 billion for the refurbishment of ageing
Muvuti said the treasury did not make a provision for any of
the projects despite government making promises in the pre-budget meetings.
Executive director of the Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) Dzarira Kwenda said
if the government does not provide a special fund through the GMB, farmers
would be affected as GMB may fail to pay for grain delivered by the
Kwenda said: "Unless the government provides a special fund to
GMB, farmers will suffer. But I am convinced that the government is aware of
GMB's requirements and how strategic it is to the revival of the
The ZFU represents between 85% and 90% of registered farmers.
He also said that the government had for the first time, not made any
provision for farmer organisations.
"Farmers' organisations have
also not been considered in the budget. This will affect our efforts to
develop strategies and policies for the distribution of seeds to farmers. We
had expected a bigger grant now that the government has committed itself to
improve agricultural production."
MDC shadow Minister for Agriculture
Renson Gasela, in an interview said GMB has over the years accumulated a
huge deficit due to selling below cost and borrowings to finance day-to-day
International Monetary Fund meets CZI,
ZCTU Godfrey Marawanyika THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) last week
met with the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) and the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) before rounding up its fact-finding mission
The four-member team left for Washington on Tuesday this
week. CZI acting chief executive officer Farai Zizhou refused to comment on
the meeting and referred all inquiries to Pattison Sithole, the
organisation's president. Sithole also refused to comment saying details of
the meeting were confidential.
"We did meet them on Wednesday
last week," he said. "But some things are better not made public for the
good of the nation. I cannot say anything on the meeting at the
Sources who attended the meeting said one of the IMF's
concerns was whether policies put in place by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) to protect industries "were bearing any result".
spokesperson in Zimbabwe Gita Bhatt said the visit was meant to assess the
effectiveness of government's economic turnaround programme.
of the visit was to undertake a technical update of developments in Zimbabwe
and the government's agenda," she said.
"The mission will report back
to the IMF management and its executive board."
secretary-general Wellington Chibebe also confirmed meeting the
He could however not be drawn into disclosing what
they had discussed citing confidentiality.
The ZCTU met the
delegation on Friday last week.
The IMF also met with the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change. The opposition pleaded with the delegation
not to suspend Zimbabwe as a member of the Bretton Woods
Last year, the IMF suspended Zimbabwe's voting rights.
The IMF board is set to review Zimbabwe's membership in
The IMF report on Zimbabwe will be used by the board in
determining the country's fate next month.
The IMF board's review
next year is meant to decide Zimbabwe's further participation as a member of
the international global lending institution, which is now worried about the
failure to settle debts on time.
However, even if Zimbabwe is spared
the expulsion, this does not mean the country will be able to borrow from
the IMF to cover its widening balance of payments gap.
to figures from the IMF, Zimbabwe's debt has declined from a peak of US$301
million in December last year to US$185,84 million.
On July 7, the
IMF concluded its Article IV consultations with Zimbabwe. Under the Article
IV agreement, IMF staff visit the country, collect economic and financial
information and discuss with officials the country's economic development
statements by Zanu PF leaders and the Zanu PF-aligned police commissioner
discouraging violence in next year's parliamentary election came at the
right time, but much more needs to be done to show their
For us, fighting for change and democracy, we know it's
just a smokescreen to hoodwink Sadc and the international community because
from the year 2000 we have heard such statements, while on the ground the
situation has been otherwise.
We know that a peaceful political
environment is one where political contestants are free to campaign for
voter support, free to express themselves and make their views known to the
electorate without fear of intimidation or victimisation.
over the years lost a number of cadres in the democratic movement who were
killed because they dared believe that they had an inalienable right to
campaign for and support the MDC, the party of their choice without
endangering their lives in the process.
Over the past years Zanu
*has employed violence as a systematic political strategy in the
run-up to elections;
*teachers, civil servants and rural villagers
believed to support the democratic movement have been beaten up, kidnapped,
tortured and some killed;
*homes and businesses of perceived
opposition members in both urban and rural areas have been burnt and
*schools and clinics in rural areas have been closed as teachers
and nurses fled to the relative safety of towns;
*at every election
time there has been general fear of war veterans, hired Zanu PF thugs and
militia (green bombers) because of their capacity to instigate and inflict
violence on the voters as they move from one area to another
*all-night forced Zanu PF political re-education meetings
brutalised those forced to attend;
*Zanu PF has repeatedly refused to
sign a multi-party code of political conduct outlawing violence and snubs
meetings organised by church leaders to curb violence;
rallies have been broken up by hired Zanu PF thugs and rented crowds with
the assistance of war veterans;
*stepped up the use of inflammatory
language by its candidates against the opposition; and
*in many cases
the police were reported to have looked on!
President Mugabe and police
commissioner Augustine Chihuri should do more to make next year's election
violence-free, peaceful and the envy of Sadc.
you do when technology becomes your worst nightmare? The Internet has become
our daily mode of communication but when it is not working, it raises your
blood pressure to near cardiac-arrest levels.
In a country where mail
literally operates at a snail's pace, the Internet has become a crucial
resource. Frankly speaking, Zimpost has simply priced itself out of the
market. Can you imagine paying over $50 000 to post a Christmas card to the
United States, or worse still, $6 900 to post a local letter that takes a
week to be delivered to a Harare address? I also do not trust the soldiers
The inefficiency at Zimpost's sibling Tel*One is blamed
for a number of our Internet woes. There is little bandwidth available and
as a result the gateway out of Zimbabwe is as congested as Beitbridge border
There is even more pain for the user who has to pay a fortune
to get connected. Those who browse the Net regularly have in the past two
months been receiving shocking telephone bills - for a poor
We have become slaves of poor technology and we tend to
accept it as normal. What would we do without the Internet or mobile phones?
But the technology has become a source of pain of late, especially if I have
to try more than 10 times to get connected to another 091
Econet admits to "some congestion" in the CBD but its
customer service department has no idea when it will all
When will the "upgrades" end? Have they started? We have become
accustomed to that soporific voice bringing the bad news: "The number you
have dialled is not reachable. Please try again later."
Internet is always on the blink. After several minutes you encounter the
message: "The requested URL could not be retrieved."
is the cryptic and elaborate apology when you cannot download your e-mail:
"Receiving reported error (0x8004210A): The operation timed out waiting for
a response from the receiving (POP) server. If you continue to receive this
message, contact your server administrator or Internet service provider
At the ISP, a machine answers you. You have been put in a
long queue together with other complainants. When someone at the end of the
line finally picks up the receiver, the customer care operators recite a
model mantra. It's either there is "an upgrade of the system", or "there is
a fault on the dedicated line", or "the gateway out of Zimbabwe is
overwhelmed because there is bandwidth scarcity".
translated, all this means that the Internet is not working. It got worse
for us this week when those trying to log on to our website were greeted
with the message: "Account for domain www.theindependent.co.zw has been
Readers were not amused and some feared the worst. "Have
you not paid your ISP?" "Has the government shut you down?"
also wanted to know what the problem was because no one had the courtesy to
pick up the phone to explain prior to our loud protestations just as Econet
has not advertised its current difficulties.
The answer came on
Tuesday from the ISP hosting our site.
"As you may be aware, your website
has temporarily been suspended since Monday, December 13 2004. This has been
caused by a maintenance problem with the hosting company in the United
States from whom we contract our international hosting services. We have
been in constant communication with them, but they are struggling to get
their systems up," the message said.
"We want to assure you that we are
very much concerned about this situation and are looking at alternative
hosting solutions as this is not the first time this has happened with our
What was the US company up to?
currently vacuuming our entire control panel Hsphere for maintenance and
database optimisation. The process may take some time to be completed...Your
patience and understanding would be appreciated in this matter," it
What? Your vacuum cleaner is not just used for your dirty
lounge carpet. Those who wanted to know why we were down: someone was
vacuuming an Hsphere panel. I am beaten.
In the past two months a
number of our on-line readers here and abroad have raised concern with slow
download speed on our website.
Readers have also demanded that we
install a search engine and provide an archive for back
The Zimbabwe Independent website is very close to my heart
having been responsible for updating it weekly for more than three years.
Although our on-line edition is largely a free service to our readers, we
are working on providing an even better service. We should soon be giving
our on-line readers the choice to access the locally hosted site or the
mirror site, which is hosted outside the country. This should give readers
an alternative if either of them is down or is being
We are also hoping to upgrade and update our archives and
install a search engine.
More importantly, we strive to ensure
that on-line readers in Zimbabwe access the site when they walk into their
offices on Friday mornings. There are also plans in the near future to
update the site mid-week to keep track of developments here and across our
Teldah Mawarire, who has largely taken over that task of
updating and administering the site, has promised she will deliver.
THE EU's visa ban,
assets freeze and other punitive measures against President Mugabe and his
top aides imposed in 2002 are due for renewal in February. European states
are reportedly busy scrambling for a consensus that will see the EU Common
Position renewed but perhaps for a shorter time-span.
sanctions on Mugabe, his wife and lieutenants are likely to stir controversy
in the powerful trade bloc as there is no unanimity on the measures designed
to express disapproval of Zanu PF's "reign of terror".
Last year France's
decision to invite Mugabe to the Franco-African Summit in Paris caused
consternation in London.
French Foreign minister Dominique de Villepin
said then France wanted to discuss democracy and human rights with Mugabe,
hence the sanctions regime had to be interpreted
Britain's disapproval of the French action was marked by a
formal reservation echoed by Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. France,
backed occasionally by Portugal, Spain, Greece and Italy, has repeatedly
pointed out that sanctions are not achieving their stated aim of regime
reform. The British, Germans, Dutch and Scandinavians respond that the Quai
d'Orsay's diplomacy has been equally ineffective and that in any case a
message should be sent in line with the Cotonou convention that electoral
manipulation and political violence are unacceptable.
The United States
and the Commonwealth support this view. There have been calls in the UK and
US to tighten the sanctions because the situation in Zimbabwe has
deteriorated rather than improved. France argues that the sanctions make
dialogue with Mugabe impossible and that their quiet diplomacy is in line
with regional approaches to resolving the Zimbabwean crisis. The efficacy
of targeted sanctions has always been a contentious issue. Two years down
the line, many doubt the effectiveness of the measures.
The EU's Common
Position was taken as a belated attempt to pressure the belligerent Mugabe
to allow free and fair elections in March 2002 and to let international
monitors observe the election process. Yet, as they were imposed just three
weeks prior to the elections, there was inadequate time for them to bring
any real pressure on Mugabe and his associates. Hence, they were ineffective
as an instrument of coercion, whatever their moral suasion. It was hoped
that the international community would cooperate in the period after the
election to put pressure on Mugabe to hold a fresh poll. This did not
However, the targeted sanctions against Zimbabwe are noteworthy
in that they reflect many of the lessons learned from previous sanctions.
The EU ruled out comprehensive sanctions precisely to avoid inflicting
further hardship on Zimbabwe's vulnerable people. The EU's suspension of
economic development funds contained exceptions for projects that directly
supported the population.
Sanctions were thus targeted to avoid
humanitarian consequences and to impact on Mugabe and his associates who
were implicated in violence or electoral rigging. Their scope was limited to
senior government officials in the hope that they would reform their
ways. The sanctions were adopted long after influential lobby groups had
called on the international community to do something about Zimbabwe. The UN
Human Rights Commissioner had expressed deep concern over the government's
behaviour, as had the Commonwealth and the US Secretary of State.
international community did not take concrete action, however, until very
late in the day. This certainly vitiated the potential for the measures to
impact on Mugabe's decision-making. So Mugabe has appeared to weather the
storm with support from regional "friends" who have refused to censure him.
Regional collusion has clearly been an important factor in shielding the
regime from international pressure to improve its record.
was true in Afghanistan in the late 1990s when regional support for the
Taliban undermined UN sanctions against that regime. In the case of Zimbabwe,
the most powerful state in the region, South Africa, has supported President
Mugabe and objected to international sanctions against his regime. It claims
it is working for "leadership renewal" in Harare in a quiet and unobtrusive
way. The Mauritius principles are held up as evidence of the success of this
In Afghanistan, Pakistan's co-operation with the international
community was to prove vital in undermining support for the Taliban regime.
The current raft of international measures against Mugabe's regime is bound
to fail as long as our rulers' iniquities are shielded by Mbeki's inaudible
diplomacy. Thus, while the smart sanctions present the stick (Mugabe admitted
at his recent party congress that they were working) they lack the carrot -
the crucial ingredient of reaching out to our obdurate octogenarian ruler.
Mbeki's approach offers the carrot but there is no stick. As long as
quiet diplomacy fails to complement the smart sanctions, the EU and US
measures are not likely to move the road block.
There is need to give
serious consideration to diplomatic initiatives that could be used to gain
the co-operation of states that can directly influence Mugabe's
Neither targeted sanctions alone nor Mbeki's behind-the-scenes
scheming have managed to nudge Mugabe to end his repression and autocratic
behaviour. It is time for fresh ideas.
Commission set to worsen city's woes Augustine
THE appointment of a commission to run the city of Harare could
see service delivery plunging to irretrievable levels if the performance of
previous commissions is anything to go by.
Local Government minister
Ignatious Chombo last week appointed an eight-member commission led by the
acting mayor Sekesai Makwavarara to run the affairs of Harare for the next
two years. This followed his denial in recent months that a commission was
due to be appointed to run the city. The commissioners, a majority of them
ruling party top functionaries, have been appointed to replace fired
opposition Movement for Democratic Change Mayor Elias Mudzuri and his
council. Mudzuri was fired earlier this year on allegations of corruption
The current commission is made up of Zanu PF's Mbare
East losing candidate Tendai Savanhu as deputy chairman, lawyer Terence
Hussein, Mashonaland Central committee member Prisca Mupfumira, Professor
James Kurasha, Noel Muzuva, Michael Mahachi, and a Mrs V Chasi. The
Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA), the umbrella body representing
residents associations in the capital, said the appointment of the
commission was done to ensure Zanu PF tightens its grip on Harare ahead of
next year's parliamentary election.
"As expected, Zanu PF has appointed
several of its functionaries to oversee the capital city and to ensure that
the municipality continues to operate as the private fiefdom of the regime,"
CHRA said in a statement. "Once again and ad nauseam, government
demonstrates its staggering arrogance and utter contempt for the norms of
"Despite the massive rejection of its candidates in the 2002
municipal elections, it continues to undermine our democratic rights to
elect representatives to govern the city." CHRA said the latest commission
would face resistance from ratepayers. The resistance could result in the
commission failing to fulfill its mandate. "Not one of the commissioners has
any mandate from residents and as such do not deserve any respect or
cooperation from our citizens. The commission is a political appointment not
accountable to residents but to its political masters," CHRA
Local authorities throughout the world can only be effectively run
if residents are involved but in Harare, central government has usurped that
right from residents.
CHRA said the Urban Councils Act clearly spells
out that such commissions have a limited tenure of six months and during
that time it has to ensure that elections are held. "CHRA will seek relief
from the courts once again should this bogus commission remain in office
beyond May 9 2005," the association said.
In 2001 CHRA forced
government through the courts to hold elections, which subsequently ejected
the illegal Elijah Chanakira Commission after three years at the helm of
Town House. "In the interim, CHRA reiterates its call to all residents to
withhold the payment of rates and other charges until democracy is restored
to Town House.
"Do not give your hard-earned money to an unelected,
unaccountable and blatantly partisan commission. Work with your fellow
residents and the genuinely elected councillor for your ward to overcome
these manoeuvres by the regime," CHRA said.
commission becomes the second commission to run Harare since Independence.
In February 1999 government appointed the Chanakira commission to replace
the now late Solomon Tawengwa council with the mandate to turnaround the
fortunes of Harare city. Chanakira and his team came into office to save
council from imminent collapse following the firing of Tawengwa and his
entire council over allegations of maladministration, corruption and
The commission, which was in office for three years, failed
to improve the situation at Town House.
Tawengwa was alleged to have
corruptly allowed the building of a bus terminus and a footbridge at
Machipisa shopping centre. Analysts said when the Chanakira commission took
over the city had gone for over a week without water, the sewer system was
working in reverse, the city had a bloated wage bill and refuse collection
The Chanakira commission was tasked to improve the city's
financial position. It had incurred an overdraft of $100 million and had
debts amounting to $299 million. The commission was also challenged to
upgrade the water distribution network, which was estimated to be losing
about 30% of the treated water through leakages. "Chanakira suspended all
capital projects as a measure to stabilise council's financial base but the
move strained the ageing infrastructure," one analyst said.
capital projects that were put on hold included the construction of Kunzwi
dam which was expected to be an alternative source of water for Harare.
Tawengwa had contracted Biwater of the United Kingdom to do a feasibility
study, mobilise funds and construct the dam on a build, operate and transfer
basis. Up to now no follow up has been made.
Firle sewarage treatment
plant was one of the projects which were suspended. Its construction would
have greatly reduced the volume of raw sewerage that flows into Manyame
river and Lake Chivero.
The appointment of the commission resulted in the
death of the Inner City Partnership, an Old Mutual initiative to involve
large corporates in the general maintenance of the city. Donors' also
suspended their assistance to Harare demanding the restoration of a
democratically-elected leadership at Town House.
In particular, Germany's
city of Munich suspended its cooperation with Harare citing the deposition
of someone democratically elected by the residents. The move threw Harare's
health delivery system into disarray.
Analysts said the major question
which remain to be answered is whether the Makwavarara commission can make
any difference as it is coming in under almost similar conditions to those
obtaining when the Chanakira commission came in. Council services have
nosedived over the past two years since the suspension and subsequent
dismissal of Mudzuri in April.
As the Makwavarara commission comes
in, virtually all of the capital's infrastructure is in free fall,
characterised by burst water pipes, raw sewerage flowing in the high-density
residential streets, roads almost inaccessible because of potholes and
decomposing refuse mountains posing threats of disease outbreak around the
Over the past year when she was Harare acting mayor, Makwavarara
has dropped the stakeholders' consultation system resulting in council
coming up with absurd rate increases and policies that have been resisted by
residents. "Council is no longer consulting residents in matters of budgeting
as had been the norm but simply imposing its views," CHRA said. "Last
year council had to be forced to revise its budget downwards because it had
not followed the consultation process.
"Half the time Makwavarara has
been fighting to keep her position instead of taking the city ahead through
getting feedback from residents and responding to their
CHRA said the one-man band attitude which Makwavarara has
adopted resulted in the city deteriorating further in both infrastructure
and financial position.
"Council has been reported bankrupt on two
occasions over the past year when Makwavarara has been acting mayor because
residents have been refusing to recognise her thereby holding back rate
payments, council's main source of revenue," CHRA said.
BASED upon reports in the state-owned press, it must be assumed
that Zimbabwe's president continues to be surrounded by ministers, advisors
and others who grossly misinform him as to the economic realties of the
country which he leads, and of the countries which they clearly perceive to
be Zimbabwe's enemies.
Those reports related to an address by
President Mugabe to a gathering of Zimbabwean ambassadors, which address
reveals major misconceptions of the causes of Zimbabwe's economic ills. As
even the president's opponents and critics acknowledged his renowned
intellect, the greatly erroneous perceptions and perspectives that
characterised his address can only be credibly attributed to his being the
victim of extensive, ongoing, misinformation and disinformation. The
misrepresentations to him of facts and their causes are pronounced and very
wide-ranging, albeit that there are also indications that on occasion
(although probably infrequently) he is correctly informed. That is
presumably because on such rare occasions, it suits the agenda of the
misinformants to recount certain facts.
One of those exceptions is the
recognition of the very significant achievements of the governor of the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), Gideon Gono, in his first year in
However, the president has been given a totally different
impression of the previous governor of RBZ, Leonard Tsumba. Unjustifiably,
he blames Tsumba for much of the economic morass that has been Zimbabwe's
increasing lot since late 1997. The president alleges that Tsumba "believed
in textbook economics rather than practical solutions to the country's
economic challenges", and stated "Government had difficulties working with
Tsumba because he was Western-oriented and orthodox." One must ponder
why, if government had such difficulty in working with Tsumba, it accorded
Tsumba a second five-year term in office? Was government so masochistic
that, when it had the opportunity of ridding itself of someone it
(allegedly) could not work with, at the end of his first term, that it gave
him another term? Surely not? The reality must have been government's then
satisfaction with him.
One must also ponder why, for four of the first
five years of Tsumba's reign as governor, the Zimbabwean economy enjoyed
steadily increasing growth. It was attracting foreign and domestic
investment, unemployment was reducing, inflation was falling, exchange rate
stability was developed, and much else. President Mugabe's attack on Tsumba
implies that the economic growth was despite Tsumba. In reality, the
economic recovery experienced from 1994 to mid-1997 was attributable to many
different acts and causes. Some of those actions were initiated by RBZ at
the very time Tsumba was governor. The president also contended that whilst
Tsumba was in office "banks and other financial institutions engaged in all
sorts of unscrupulous activities such as under-invoicing of export
earnings", and that "supervision of the financial sector was poor".
Certainly there was a plethora of unscrupulous activities in the financial
sector, although under- invoicing was the action of certain exporters, and
not of financial institutions, for they do not issue export
Equally, supervision of the financial sector was abysmal, but
not recognised in the presidential statement was that the authority and
power of supervision of financial institutions was very limited in the hands
of RBZ at that time, such authority and power having vested mainly in the
Registrar of Banks and Financial Institutions within the domain of then
Minister of Finance and Economic Development. Fortunately, when Gono came
into office, RBZ was given markedly greater monitoring and surveillance
The diplomats were informed by the president that the economic
decline was due to the "textbook" and "orthodox" monetary policies
prevailing during Tsumba's reign, coupled with "high inflation, illegal
economic sanctions imposed on the country by some Western countries led by
Britain, fuel shortages and successive droughts". It is appalling to note
how massively the president's ministers and advisors must have deliberately
Very often "textbook" and "orthodox" policies are the best to
remedy a distressed situation, for they can be very effective. This has been
evidenced on countless occasions, including the remarkable economic
turnaround of South Africa post the apartheid era, the dramatic and very
rapid recovery a few years ago of the Mexican economy, the spectacular
economic upturn of Mauritius in the mid-1980s, to cite but a few of the many
economies that have benefited from tried and proven "textbook" and
But it's time that Zimbabwe stopped deluding
itself as to the origins of its economic woes. Contentions that a major
catalyst of the economic ills is the imposition of "illegal" sanctions are
devoid of substance. The only sanctions imposed upon Zimbabwe (by the
European Union, including Britain, and some Commonwealth countries) are
sanctions targeted at specific individuals, the first and foremost being the
president and the government hierarchy. Those sanctions restrict such
persons' travel, and access to their assets situated in those
In addition, many donor states have reduced or halted support,
but Zimbabwe has been the trigger of the withholding of donor support, by
its frequent, vitriolic outbursts against the donors, and through
promulgation of non-democratic, inequitable and unjust legislation such as
Posa, Aippa and the NGO Bill. And there was, and is, nothing illegal in the
application of targeted sanctions.
By far one of the greatest causes
of Zimbabwe's near self-destruction of its economy was the disastrously
implemented programme of land acquisition, redistribution and resettlement
instead of pursuing a constructive, racially and internationally
cooperative, merit-based, programme. That shattered the very foundations of
Of almost equal negative economic consequences was the
foolhardy, profligate, irresponsible payout to war veterans (actual and
pseudo), to an extent far beyond the means of government. The third
significant cause of the catastrophic collapse of the economy was
government's immensely excessive spending, at levels markedly greater than
its revenues. Such expenditure is on the operations of the Presidency and
the Cabinet, so-called Defence, Foreign Affairs (the president suggests that
Zimbabwe needs many more embassies, and yet it cannot even pay its present
diplomats timeously), on a Ministry of Information which does not fulfil its
mandate, on a Ministry of Justice which mainly crafts despotic and draconian
legislation, on a Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture which lowers
Zimbabwe's education standards, and much equally wasteful and
unaffordable fiscal outflows.
Another major cause of the Zimbabwean
economic malaise is the ongoing alienation of most of the international
community. Zimbabwe regularly disparages the very international institutions
which could give it desperately need balance of payments support.
When a paper loses bootlicking
plot THEY say some guys have all the luck. The same could be said of the
Herald. Last Thursday the paper ran a long story in which President Robert
Mugabe "attacked" former Reserve Bank governor Leonard Tsumba for lack of
creativity and relying too much on textbook economics. He was also accused
of advocating a reduction in the number of Zimbabwean embassies
abroad. No, nothing like that was ever said by the president, came George
Charamba's rebuttal on Friday. The remarks attributed to His Excellency by
the Herald were "misleading", said Charamba in a statement.
his views did not pass for pointed remarks," said Charamba helpfully. "They
were intended as a general criticism to those who fail to adapt their
knowledge and understanding of economics to fit and address peculiarities of
given economic situations." He then went on to tell readers the Office of the
President regretted "any anguish" caused to Dr Tsumba by the Herald
report. Just why Charamba and his department chose to be "anguished" on
behalf of the Herald is not clear. Couldn't the Herald "correct" the story
if it was wrong? Or are we to assume that the editor refused to retract the
story because that is what the president said?
We liked the
assurances by police commissioner Augustine Chihuri last week that the force
would not tolerate the setting up of bases and safe houses, as these could
be "potential sources of violence" in the March general election. "The
idea of recruiting hordes of unemployed youths and criminals to cause mayhem
and brutalise innocent and peace-loving citizens . should be monitored and
any excesses be decisively dealt with," said Chihuri. He pointedly noted that
police would not tolerate politicians who substitute "lack of brain work by
physical power". We wish we could trust the commissioner to enforce his
opinions. Unfortunately past performance doesn't engender such trust. For
one thing, it is his party Zanu PF that is allowed to mobilise and deploy
youths in any part of the country without seeking police clearance. We saw
them being deployed from the party headquarters during the MDC's ill-advised
"final push". We saw the police escorting the same party hooligans to
Harvest House to beat up people who were celebrating Morgan Tsvangirai's
acquittal on charges of plotting to assassinate President Mugabe. Incidents
of police dereliction of duty are too numerous for us to expect Chihuri to
keep his word.
But more worrying is that by declaring that there should
be no safe houses for victims of political violence, Chihuri is not helping
the "innocent and peace-loving citizens" whom he purports to want to
protect. The police should simply do their work impartially. There should be
no "political" crimes that the police can't deal with. That breeds a culture
of impunity for those who belong to the right party.
with an overdose of faith in Zanu PF is the Sunday Mail editor. In his
Comment this week he urged the capital's newly-announced commissioners to
"implement Harare's turnaround plan".
"It is as much in the interest of
central government as it is in that of local government that the city of
Harare is efficiently managed and run," prayed the editor.
there would have been a glaring anomaly if the local authority was found to
work efficiently while central government bungled all around. That is why it
was necessary to frustrate the MDC council out of office so that government
and council mirror each other perfectly. The editor praised the commission
for correctly identifying the priority areas to be attended to. These key
performance areas were said to be "finance management, waste management,
water and sanitation, public safety, housing, roads and
All rather obvious areas of concern. What else would a local
authority be doing if the above were not its priority? Does that call for a
commission Mr Editor?
"The capital city of a country is supposed to
radiate the country's beauty," concluded the editor. "Harare is radiating
something else." That "something" was found tucked away in a picture on page
M2 of Sunday Metro. The caption read: "Vagrants have turned the back of
Shell House along Samora Machel Avenue into toilets." Except that in place
of vagrants the writer should have put Zanu PF! Ignatious Chombo knows
why. And why did ZBH race through the list of commissioners last Thursday
evening as if it didn't want anybody to know who they were? Are
collaborators in Zanu PF's anti-democratic project so reviled by the city's
residents that they have to be taken in one breath by ZBH
Young Lovemore Mataire is really keen to rub it in on the
Chronicle editor who three weeks ago filled two pages of his broadsheet
trying to convince everyone who cared to read it what a good fellow
Professor Jonathan Moyo was. People now say those lengthy excuses are what
in fact infuriated President Mugabe and sealed Moyo's fate. But that's not
an issue anymore.
In his Candid Brief from the editor, Mataire talks
mercilessly about what he terms the "pitfalls of bootlicking" and how the
Chronicle completely lost the plot and wasted acres of space defending the
For instance Mataire asks how the paper could use documents
which had been sent to all the other state newspapers but put on hold -
embargoed until the moment was right. The Chronicle editor, however, in his
desire to please the minister, jumped the gun.
"The Chronicle had
become a poodle, always singing praises for an individual while denigrating
issues of national importance to the dustbin," Mataire declared.
that's why it's now called the Tsholotsho News! Mataire also had no kind
words for those at the Herald and ZBH whom he accused of "blacking out" the
party's mouthpiece, The Voice. He was bitter that he left the Herald "in
good faith" but somebody was treating his paper like there was bad
"I have good if not excellent relations with a lot of senior staff
there and it really boggles the mind why some staff there feel compelled to
bury the ruling party's mouthpiece alive." We thought the paper was supposed
to survive on its own by selling news. Now Mataire is telling us it has to
survive on the goodwill of state papers giving it free publicity. Why keep
the paper alive if nobody wants to buy it?
Why are Munyaradzi Huni's
sources so reluctant to be identified? In a front-page article in the Sunday
Mail last weekend headed "Human rights report a joke" we had "observers", a
"political scientist" at the University of Zimbabwe, and "a lawyer at a top
law firm" all refusing to give their names.
It is surprising that
individuals with such strong opinions on civil society should not have the
courage of their reactionary convictions. And did they all say the human
rights report referred to was "a complete joke fit for the dustbin" or was
that Huni speaking for himself? It certainly sounded like it!
political scientist who declined to be named claimed the Human Rights NGO
Forum had only sought the views of the Zimbabwe Independent and
"These newspapers are silent members of the Forum and
surely they were always going to report things against the government," the
political scientist suggested.
It is extraordinary to think UZ
employs people with such shallow levels of analysis. He couldn't think of
anybody to blame for the human rights report so he blamed two newspapers
which hadn't said anything!
The only named person in the story was George
Charamba who said the report vindicated the need for the NGOs
"Clearly these are not bona fide NGOs but political outfits founded
from outside to pursue political interests," Charamba suggested.
the December 12 Movement in other words! But those attempting to camouflage
Zimbabwe's shocking human rights record should be careful of guilt by
association. The Gabriel Shumba case is not in dispute. It has been brought
to the attention of a wide range of international organisations of which
Zimbabwe is a member. So has the case of Tonderai Machiridza who we referred
to last week.
There is no evidence to date that these well-documented
torture cases have been investigated by the authorities. What happened to
the police investigation into the Job Sikhala case which President Mugabe
last year assured President Olusegun Obasanjo was being undertaken? And
where is Joseph Mwale? How is it possible in a country which spends such
vast sums on intelligence for a senior officer in the President's Office to
roam free when he is wanted by the courts in connection with a political
murder case? Perhaps Charamba could tell us.
meanwhile appears to believe that one of his briefs is acting as a spokesman
for Zanu PF. Last weekend he was explaining why the central committee of the
party and the Herald were justified in regarding Zimbabwe's diplomats as
fighting a war in an "extraordinary situation" which could not be managed by
The situation was extraordinary, Mahoso
explained, "because the minority white imperialist powers who control global
channels of mass deception want to tell the world that Zimbabwe is hated by
its own people and by the rest of the world".
"The truth, however,"
he reassured us, "is that the government of Zimbabwe is supported by the
overwhelming majority of its own people and the overwhelming majority of
nations within the UN system."
Our diplomats therefore have an easy job
abroad because they never have to lie when justifying the government's
policies, Mahoso said. Thank goodness for that!
One of the reasons why
the "white axis powers" hate Zimbabwe and seek to demonise it, Mahoso
explained, is "because Zimbabwe is admired by the majority of the peoples of
the world for its clear position on important issues in world
affairs. "The extraordinary situation therefore is that Zimbabwe is hated
because it is loved; Zanu PF is hated because it is popular and
loved." Poor old Mahoso. Has he been reduced to this? Singing for his supper
while turning a blind eye to the cruelty of Zanu PF's militia gangs, the
heavy jackboot of repression, and the silencing of civic voices?
sort of access to information is it that assumes that all the country's
problems are the products of "imperialism" and have nothing to do with the
tyranny and mismanagement of those that rule us? This is official deceit
As unemployment plunges to new levels, President Mugabe
evidently believes he is entitled to a pay hike. According to a statutory
instrument published last week, his salary will go up to $83 863 200 a year.
With allowances the figure amounts to $95 555 800.
salary was last reviewed in March, the Saturday Herald told us, when it was
increased from $20,2 million to $73,7 million. The latest hike includes a
bonus of $7 380 600. We were not told what the bonus was for. But it comes
after a 30% contraction in the economy, company closures and burgeoning
unemployment. During the Great Depression of the early 1930s, the cabinet and
civil service took a cut in their salaries to show solidarity with the
suffering population. A precedent, we can safely assume, that will not be
followed now. And could somebody explain the president's need of a housing
allowance of $3,024 million?
Finally, we all had a good chuckle last
week when we saw the Herald headline: "Budget realistic - economists". There
was a picture of Samuel Undenge alongside the story. Two other economists,
the CFX's Moses Chundu and UZ's Clever Mbengegwi, didn't actually use the
word "realistic". Chundu said there was a need for credible inflation
figures and a statement by government that would inspire investor confidence
Mbengegwi said the 5% negative growth rate in manufacturing
would undermine targeted growth in the economy.
In fact no serious
economist would use the word "realistic" in relation to Herbert Murerwa's
absolutely delusional budget statement that looks as if it was written in
the Office of the President. Who in all seriousness would project a 28%
recovery in agriculture when even Enos Chikowore concedes resettled farmers
are not producing anything?
On Tuesday the Herald announced: "Inflation
falls to 149,3%". What it didn't tell us was that it is still the highest in
the world, that the cost of medicines, vehicle repairs and agricultural
equipment have risen by 600%, and that Zimpost and Tel*One have raised their
charges by 1 000%.
Relevance won't be that easy, madam VP By Tanonoka
Joseph Whande THE $20-billion congress is passé now. If Moses had foreseen
Zanu PF's extravagances, there would have been an eleventh
My compatriots, I need not apologise for not being as
optimistic, enthusiastic and as confident as some of my fellow Zimbabweans
because, simply, I am just not as optimistic, enthusiastic and as confident
as some of my fellow Zimbabweans.
I am not a prophet of doom; I
am just a discontented and demoralised Zimbabwean who sees us continuing to
frolic hopelessly in the very same pool of mud in which Zanu PF has got us
stuck for 25 years.
We now have a brand new vice-president gleaned
from the same under-achieving crop of pedestrian, uninspiring and docile
politicians, yet for the last 20 years or so Zanu PF failed to offer this
nation any notable new ideas, laudable leadership, alternatives or
originality. All we got was mediocrity if not
While I am aware that Zimbabweans deserve much more
than Joyce Mujuru, I am really not concerned about what Mujuru deserves or
does not deserve. I only care about my Zimbabwean constituency. To that end,
therefore, Zanu PF must stop fooling people about
There are many intelligent, far-sighted, and judicious
women in Zanu PF. Why did the party not allow these women's names to be put
forward for a fair contest in popularity and preference? It would have been
to Zanu PF and the nation's advantage if the ruling party had paraded
several of its eminent women candidates for people to choose
Who did Mujuru run against, if she ran at all? Mujuru was not a
people's choice but Mugabe's pick. She was handpicked, elected and sworn in
by President Robert Mugabe while the Zanu PF party faithful, who could have
put forth or suggested better candidates, were cowed into ululating for no
more than just Mugabe's fancied candidate much as Emmerson Mnangagwa once
was. Oh, how political winds not only flow but change
Neither Zanu PF nor the nation was given an opportunity to
choose their preferred leader. Yet Mujuru's ascension also exposed heavy
subterranean tribal loyalties and preferences shamefully resulting in some
of those who did not support her being suspended from the party. How then
can Zanu PF talk about democracy in the nation when it cannot practise the
same within its own ranks?
But Mujuru has already taken the oath
of office. And to her I say: congratulations, Cde Joyce. Your military feats
were well-publicised. So I was not surprised when you were part of that
highly, internationally acclaimed BA, MA, MD and PhD-infested first cabinet
in 1980. You have remained in cabinet since then and I honestly would like
to credit you with something original, something substantial, important and
innovative but I cannot find anything extraordinary or of particular mention
in your more than 20 years as a cabinet minister.
You will be the
first to admit that you did not get that post through democratic practices
in the party or even through your own brilliance. Far from it. It was
through the president's political vivisection.
We have witnessed how,
over the years, mindless patronage destroyed this nation; but today
patronage has elevated you. Congratulations! Your resilience not
withstanding, you did not have much of a choice but to accept the position
thrust upon you.
But please do remember that you are in that position
to placate the neglected but hopeful Zimbabwean women. Hear me, please: you
are not Mugabe's representative before the people; you are the people's
representative before Mugabe and his government.
Since you were
not elected, in real terms, you owe that position to the bungling of Zanu PF
just as much as the struggling new farmers owe their newly acquired farms to
the very same man who appointed you. Both are acts of convenience and
expediency not of substance.
Admittedly, since your appointment was
stimulated by patronage and was not the result of any evident, justifiable
or simmering ambition on your part, the thrust of your duties and
responsibilities must have more to do with the people to justify your
presence. New farmers are failing to serve the nation with some of them
rather clearly serving themselves. Please avoid that. You owe
Madam Vice-President, please think of the people for a change.
You have a perfect opportunity to show that you are a woman of substance and
to confirm the decades of propaganda and unproven myth attributed to your
person. I, for one, do not want any excuses. You fought a war for the people
and we must now see why you were such a military rabble-rouser and
Cde Vice-President, you have been given both an
opportunity and a platform that elude many women around the world. While you
are the people's emissary in general, you are the women's representative in
particular. Show a difference. There is no middle ground; you just have to
perform to avoid destroying your own legend.
Mugabe's jocular statements that you should not intend to stop with the
vice-presidency should not be taken seriously. Your former colleague, the
late Eddison Zvobgo, was honest about it and his openness offended
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa, with Mugabe's tacit encouragement,
showed a deliberately subdued but nevertheless strong interest in the
presidency but then, again with Mugabe's help and prodding, you leapfrogged
over Mnangagwa yourself. So you see, disaster and opportunity derive from
the same symbol.
It is Zimbabweans who delivered you into the lap of
destiny. I therefore cannot doubt that the people will support you if you
show them a radical and positive, progressive, pro-people difference. You
Shall we, therefore, dare to celebrate that our time has come
because you have arrived? Madam Vice-President, I really and sincerely wish
you the very best. But please ask yourself how and why you have now
successfully reached the pinnacle of Zimbabwean politics. Success is much
easier than relevance.
*Tanonoka Joseph Whande is a Zvishavane-based
Does sovereignty mean threats? By Rashweat
Mukundu HAVING grown up in a family which owned neither a radio nor a
television set for the better part of my life, I recently heard this song:
"There are better days before us and . . . we must believe and . . .
paradise was almost closing down." I have no idea who the artist is and
fellow Zimbabweans might know.
It is however the captivating words
that make one think about this country, our own paradise. This Zimbabwe,
which has however turned into hell. And we are winding up 2004, the fourth
year of our very deep political, economic and social crisis that has left
many blinded and hope lost.
For the past four years, over three
million Zimbabweans have left this country and sought refuge in other
countries. By now every Zimbabwean has either a relative or friend outside
the country. Our crisis has been talked of in binary terms: it's either you
are with President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF, or you are one of the
so-called "running dogs of the imperialists" and a Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) supporter.
Whereas there was real hope and excitement in
2000 and 2002, when we
had our controversial and bloody elections, the
2005 elections are only exciting Zanu PF and the opposition leaders as most
people focus on day-to-day challenges.
Whereas in 2000 and 2002
there was excitement in commuter omnibuses and beer halls in the
high-density suburbs, today no one talks to anyone about politics - instead
the talk is likely to be on soccer and other issues far away from
Politics to many is the beatings they go through at the
hands of security agents towards elections, intimidation and the presence of
youth militia and roadblocks. Apart from that, politics means nothing else
and why bother participate or take heed?
Zimbabweans need to
reclaim the freedom and political space that has been lost to the powerful
that basically use brute force to maintain this hegemony. This hegemony is
being sustained through a multi-pronged strategy that includes force and the
"rule by law".
We are a country with laws for everyone and
everything. Zimbabwe probably holds the record for passing, in quick
succession, the most repressive laws in the world. For the ordinary person,
these laws only come to life the day you are arrested for calling Mugabe a
dictator and Tony Blair a liberator. Of course, the police would gladly read
sections of the Public Order and Security Act to you that criminalise such
We have to question our members of parliament whether
they understand these laws when they are passed and their implications on
our lives. I suppose the only consolation for many is that some of the laws
from time to time trip up their proponents, who from time to time might find
themselves in police custody, cut off from the state media or chased from
one of their many farms because they are now multiple
Our real crisis is the new definition of "our
sovereignty". A new definition of sovereignty that basically is centred on
Zimbabwe's perceived "Super Sovereignty" has been evolved. It talks of a
perfect country that needs no one and is prepared to go it alone, a splendid
Sovereignty in Zimbabwe now means passing laws that
repress the same people meant to be protected. Sovereignty in Zimbabwe means
believing and supporting Mugabe and Zanu PF, for the two are what
constitutes sovereignty and are in fact the state.
dismiss cheap talk that Zanu PF needs a loyal opposition. The Zimbabwe Unity
Movement (ZUM) was a loyal opposition but its supporters were hounded. Lest
we forget, Patrick Kombayi was shot despite ZUM being a very indigenous and
In the same vein that we are told of this
super-sovereign state called Zimbabwe, our gold is finding its way to South
Africa via Mozambique through illegal means, and our shops are filled with
cheap imported goods that are resulting in our own industry shutting down.
We are given a few electrical generating gadgets in exchange for our tobacco
and minerals by "wise men" from the East, and the big conglomerates are
mining our platinum and nickel.
In the name of sovereignty 11 million
hectares of land were expropriated and given to 150 000 families. Meanwhile,
millions of jobs were lost and indeed confessions are coming from the top
that the land is not being fully utilised.
How do we define our
friends as a country? How do we characterise our friends and our sovereignty
in relation to them?
Are our friends Blair's imperialist Britain,
George Bush's United states of America, who "demonise" us and give us food
at the same time, donate towards the immunisation of our children, keep our
HIV/Aids programmes running and donate to Harare city council towards the
purchase of chemicals to keep our water safe?
defined in terms of the threats and political challenges Zanu PF and Mugabe
are facing? Does the criticism of Zanu PF by the West threaten our
sovereignty and, if so, in what way? Is Zanu PF the sovereign, we must
Zimbabweans need to question this new form and version of
sovereignty that brutalises and impoverishes its own people rather than
In the name of sovereignty, laws that undermine the
existence of the ordinary person have been passed. Real issues that define
and characterise our sovereignty are ignored. We have to question whether
Zanu PF has the monopoly to define what constitutes sovereignty and
patriotism and whether we are all to be Zanu PF supporters in order for
Zimbabwe to be a sovereign state?
*Rashweat Mukundu is
Misa-Zimbabwe acting director.