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Biti is playing to the gallery: Zanu PF

December 23, 2012 in Politics

ZANU PF has said Finance minister Tendai Biti must stop moaning and ensure
that funding for a referendum on a new constitution and elections is made
available as a matter of urgency.


Biti on Friday said he had written to President Robert Mugabe and Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai advising them that the country does not have
sufficient funds to hold elections and referendum.

Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo yesterday insisted that funding would be
made available at the “right” time, but could not say from which sources.

“We are not worried about what Biti said,” he said. “Biti knows that funding
is available. He is playing to the gallery and trying to show that he can
influence when elections are held.”

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) requires close to US$200 million for
holding both the referendum and elections.

Gumbo said nothing was going to stop the holding of elections early next
year as demanded by his party.

He said the two MDCs should ensure that the constitution-making process is
concluded by Tuesday in line with a Zanu PF resolution at its recent annual
people conference in Gweru.

Biti said it was clear that the country could not fund elections from its
own resources, urging Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu to
remit diamond revenue for the process.

“I have already written to the Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and to the
President Robert Mugabe informing them that our resources will not be
sufficient,” he said.

“They must sit on Obert Mpofu about diamond exports. It is quite clear that
the international community has to come to our assistance. Zimbabwe will not
have sufficient resources on its own to fund both the referendum and the

The Finance minister said lack of transparency, accountability and looting
of diamonds have made his job a nightmare.

Biti also revealed that Mugabe and the service chiefs have agreed to a free
and fair election next year.

“I am coming from a national security council meeting attended by service
chiefs,” he said.

“The President, Prime Minister the Vice-President (Joice Mujuru) and
everyone present were talking about one thing, the importance of having a
clean election next year. I am hopeful that we will have that clean election
next year,” Biti said.

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Chinotimba calls for peace, tolerance in Buhera South

December 23, 2012 in Politics

BUHERA — Zanu PF Central Committee member, Joseph Chinotimba, who led the
violent land invasions in 2000, has called on political parties and
Zimbabweans to maintain peace and tolerance ahead of forthcoming harmonised


Addressing hundreds of people gathered at Mutiusinazita Secondary School in
Buhera South recently, Chinotimba said: “Zimbabweans must find common ground
and work towards developing the country for the benefit of future
generations regardless of political differences.”

He added that election time was a moment where old wounds opened.

“President [Robert Mugabe] and Prime Minister [Morgan Tsvangirai] usually
have tea together, but here you are fighting because of political
differences. Unite and use that effort to build your country for the benefit
of current and future generations,” added Chinotimba.

Chinotimba, who is eyeing the Buhera South constituency which he lost to
MDC-T candidate Naison Nemadziva in 2008, donated 4 000 chicks to teachers
at Mutiusinazita Secondary School to “beef up their paltry salaries”.

He said the donation was an incentive to the civil servants.
“They always mourn that their salaries are too little and usually threaten
to strike. As a concerned villager and parent, I saw it fit to donate some
chicks to enable them to pursue poultry projects to get an incentive.

“Teachers play an important role in the society and they should always be
motivated. These school-based programmes will go a long way in achieving
this goal,” he said.

Chinotimba has also been rehabilitating schools and clinics in Buhera like
Chipondamudzi Clinic, Chabata, Mushongwi and Devuli primary schools in a bid
to address a plethora of challenges bedevilling villagers in Buhera South.

Acting deputy Manicaland provincial education director, Oswell Marange,
applauded Chinotimba’s gesture in helping out teachers.

“We applaud the kind gesture. At least our teachers are incentivised and
their remuneration is very important. Such fundraising projects always
motivate them and I urge influential people like Comrade Chinotimba to
continue embarking on such projects since teachers play a critical role in
our society,” he said.

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Sibanda forces villagers to support Zanu PF

December 23, 2012 in Politics

MUTARE — War veterans’ leader, Jabulani Sibanda, operated in Manicaland
province recently, where he allegedly forced villagers perceived to be MDC-T
supporters to surrender their MDC-T material and publicly announce their
support for Zanu PF.


Willard Chimbetete, the MDC-T Nyanga South Member of Parliament, said
Sibanda had made an unwelcome visit to his constituency.
“Yes he [Sibanda] descended in my area last week and held several meetings,
warning traditional leaders and villagers against voting for the MDC-T.”

“He summoned all headmen and their subjects to a meeting at Nyarukowa
business centre and Magarati Primary School, where the headmen were told
that the MDC-T should not be allowed to hold any meetings in the ward. they
were warned not to vote for MDC-T in the next elections,” Chimbetete said.

He added: “Sibanda is telling villagers in my constituency and other areas
in Nyanga to surrender their MDC-T material and publicly renounce their

“He is also using headmen to intimidate people. He openly told villagers
that he would not stop at anything, even if it means using violence to wipe
out anti-Zanu PF elements in Nyanga.

“Villagers are now living in fear as they don’t know what he will do next as
he is promising violence. We want Jomic to intervene urgently because people
are now living in fear.”

Mutasa South MP, Trevor Saruwaka, also confirmed Sibanda’s presence in
Mutasa and condemned his activities.

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Bleak Christmas for workers

December 23, 2012 in Local

A bleak festive season awaits several hundreds of households in the country
after thousands of workers were thrown out of employment mainly due to
company closures.


Several companies also failed to pay their workers the 13th cheque citing
the current harsh economic environment.

Although civil servants got bonuses, the money failed to make a significant
difference to their lives as most of them earn “peanuts” in comparison to
their increased needs during the festive season.

On average, civil servants earn US$400 a month. But the worst nightmare are

Statistics show that close to 100 firms closed shop since last year,
throwing hundreds of workers into the streets. The retrenchments are further
worsened by the rising unemployment rate, which tops 80% nationally.

“How do I tell my kids that I have no money for Christmas?” said Ernest
Nyoni, who used to work for a clothing firm that closed in Bulawayo
recently. “I am stranded. To think of Christmas would worsen my already high
blood pressure.”

The economic hardships have resulted in several companies failing to give
their employees bonuses while others owe their workers’ salaries dating back
to several months.

For example, the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, National Railways of
Zimbabwe and New Zim Steel in Redcliff have failed to pay their workers full
pay for the past few months.

At least 3 000 workers at New Zim Steel said they have not been paid since
May this year and their children have been thrown out of school.

“We saw in the newspapers that we would be paid before Christmas, but up to
now they have not paid us,” said one worker who requested anonymity.

“We are in trouble because apart from having a bleak Christmas.our children
will not go back to school because we have not been paying fees. They
(children) did not get end-of-year results because we have arrears.”

Jacob Nyatanga, who works for a security company in Bulawayo, said he has
not been getting full pay for the past three months.
“There is no Christmas for some of us. It is just a wish. How I wish I was a
civil servant. I could be having my full pay every month and bonus now,” he

“We are being given US$50 per month and this has been going on for the past
three months. Until today I have not been paid and there is no communication
as to when we will be paid.”

Nyatanga said he earns US$150 per month.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) boss Japhet Moyo said most workers
were going for Christmas “empty-handed”, as several companies failed to pay
salaries and bonuses.

He said 2012 was a very difficult year for workers, as 5 000 were formally
retrenched up from about 4 000 the previous year.

“The number could be much more because this is for those formally
retrenched, but we know several companies just closed shop,” said Moyo. “It
has not been a good year for workers and their Christmas is also a

ZCTU southern region spokesperson Percy Mcijo said the situation was worse
in Bulawayo, which recorded the highest number of company closures.

He said it would not be surprising to hear that some workers succumbed to
stress. “The situation is just terrible and it will come as no surprise if
some residents die of stress. It’s a gloomy Christmas. It is very sad
indeed. For many in Bulawayo, Christmas is just a pipedream and nothing
else,” he said.

“It is just an unnecessary luxury which many people cannot afford.”
Mcijo said some families were now even breaking up over company closures “as
some breadwinners are now failing to provide”.
“Families are breaking up because of this. The outlook is very bleak because
there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel for the struggling
companies,” said Mcijo.

“Already, we have reports that a number of firms are saying they will not
re-open in January.”

Association for Business in Zimbabwe chief executive officer, Lucky Mlilo,
recently said the increase in the number of firms applying for voluntary
liquidation in Bulawayo signalled tough times ahead.
He said the situation could deteriorate, triggered by intimidation and
violence that characterised the country’s general elections. Elections are
expected to be held next year.

The government has announced several initiatives to revive industries in
Bulawayo. The Distressed Industries and Marginalised Areas Fund (Dimaf) is
one such initiative that was launched in October 2011.

To date, CABS — which has been tasked to disburse the US$40 million under
Dimaf — has said less than a quarter of that money has been disbursed.

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Storm over Byo census results

December 23, 2012 in Local

A storm is brewing in Bulawayo once again with accusations that the
preliminary census results released by the Zimbabwe Statistics Agency
(ZimStats) have suppressed the city’s real population.


The complaints, which have become commonplace since Bulawayo was recognised
as a province, show that the city’s population has not risen since 1992.

In the recent census, Bulawayo had a population of 655 675, compared to 1992
when it was reported to have a population of 620 936, igniting fears the
city’s population figures could have been fixed.

The Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association [BPRA] suspects that the
suppressed numbers could be a political ploy.

“BPRA is concerned that the preliminary population census results are
inaccurate and may have either been politically manipulated to misrepresent
the population in Matabeleland or are a result of incompetence by ZimStats,”
the association said in a statement.

“The association fears that the results will be used as a basis for reducing
developmental allocations for the Matabeleland provinces and Bulawayo, which
have been marginalised since independence.”

BPRA further said it was highly improbable that all three Matabeleland
provinces, Bulawayo and Matabeleland North and South only constituted 16% of
the population and were smaller than Harare.
Population figures are the basis for planning development projects.

“BPRA believes that the results announced by ZimStats are inaccurate and
authenticate concerns raised by Zimbabweans in August that the methodology
used by the agency missed out on some people,” the association said in a

“The association believes that the methodology used by the agency was flawed
and fears that the results may have been tampered with for political

However, others maintain that it could be possible that Bulawayo could have
registered negative growth due to the massive de-industralisation of the
city that has seen people leave for other towns in search of jobs.

In comparison however, to other statistics, ZimStats figures are lower.

Statistical research company, Wolfram Research, in 2004 estimated that
Bulawayo had a population of 699 385 people, while in 2007 the population
was estimated at 731 003, showing that there was an upward trajectory in

The Resource Centres on Urban Agriculture and Food Security Foundation, an
international network of seven regional resource centres for urban
agriculture and food security, estimated that Bulawayo’s population was at
700 000 in 2009, another figure higher than the ZimStat one.

Previous mayors, Joshua Malinga and Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, have questioned
previous census reports, arguing that there was a deliberate ploy to reduce
Bulawayo’s population.
A cursory glance at this year’s population census shows that only Bulawayo
recorded negative growth, while all the other provinces recorded significant

Efforts to get a comment from ZimStats were futile, as calls went

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Dozens of cattle die of thirst in Masvingo

December 23, 2012 in Local

MASVINGO — Hundreds of communal farmers from Masvingo province are losing
draught power as dozens of cattle are reportedly dying owing to lack of
drinking water as well as pastures.

By Tatenda Chitagu

The Standard was told that the most affected areas were the arid districts
of Chivi, Chiredzi and Mwenezi.

Masvingo provincial livestock officer, Aaron Muchazivei, confirmed the
cattle deaths, but said the beasts were crossing into Masvingo province from
Beitbridge in search of water.

“We have received reports about the cattle deaths in Mwenezi and Chiredzi,
but Mwenezi is the most affected. The cattle that died in Mwenezi were
coming from Beitbridge — which is another province — in search of water. So
it may sound as if the cattle were from Masvingo province,” Muchazivei said.
He could not however, shed any more details as he was waiting for a report
from the crop and livestock assessment exercise which is underway.

“It will be difficult to be specific. I do not have the details since we can
only get them after the assessment,” he said.

Efforts to get figures from the veterinary services department proved futile
as the provincial veterinary officer, only identified as Dr Dzimwasha,
refused to take questions from The Standard. But farmers said the situation
was pathetic as most of them were forced to sell their beasts at low prices
upon realising they were about to die of thirst.

“Most farmers are selling their cattle at give-away prices. The situation is
very bad . . . cattle are moving long distances in search of water as major
rivers and dams have wilted,” a farmer from Chiredzi who requested anonymity

He said if the rains did not fall in the next fortnight, it would spell

Although other provinces have received some rains, Masvingo has not yet
received significant rains as yet, a situation that has also seen boreholes
drying up.

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Hurungwe farmers benefit from conservation agriculture

December 23, 2012 in Community News

The concept of conservation agriculture (CA) is proving to be a success
among the Hurungwe farming communities, with farmers reporting high yields
from little inputs used on small pieces of land.

By Christopher Mahove

The European Union, through the Food and Agricultural Organisation, provided
more than nine million euro to support CA activities across the country
aimed at empowering smallholder farmers to improve their livelihoods.

The project involves training of extension staff and farmers who would in
turn train other farmers, who are then provided with inputs such as seed and
fertiliser using the lead-farmer approach.

A tour by the European Union and its partners recently revealed more and
more farmers were now embracing the concept, considering the erratic rains
the country has been receiving in the last few years.

One such farmer who benefitted from CA is 52-year-old Kenneth Nyarenda, who
has established a mini-demonstration site at his plot where he works with 10
farmers whom he trains at the main demonstration site.

Nyarenda was selected by the community at ward level because of his track
record in farming and was confirmed by the Department of Agriculture and
Extension Services as the government department that is mandated with
working with farmers at grassroots level.

Nyarenda said he had learnt that conservation agriculture was a sure way to
get high yields from a very small piece of land using less inputs, adding
that a one- hectare plot would yield up to six tonnes of maize.

“A couple of years ago before conservation agriculture, we used conventional
tillage methods where we would use a plough for tilling the land and we
wasted a lot of fertiliser, because we would just drill fertiliser
throughout the row, now with the introduction of CA, we just open basins,
which is one of the CA principles for minimum tillage, applying fertiliser
only at planting station instead of drilling everywhere without necessarily
benefitting the crop,” he said.

He said with the use of mulching, crops maintained some degree of moisture
which helped them in the event of dry spells.
Another farmer, Darlington Mutami, of ward 11 in the same area, said he had
since abandoned his main maize field to concentrate on his small plot at his
homestead as it was giving him enough to feed his family and surplus to

“I have since stopped receiving inputs from the project and am now buying my
own seed and fertiliser. I don’t use much fertiliser because I also use
manure,” he said.

He added that the use of mulching meant he had no problems of weeding, but
conceded the mulch was scarce in the area, forcing them to use it on smaller
portions than they would have wanted.

“Under normal conditions mulch is supposed to come from the previous crop,
but because of the communal set up, we have livestock also coming in and
taking up some of the mulch,” he said.

A crops officer, Felix Nzvirume, said the idea of basins was also important
in achieving the required plant populations and also in the making of

“One of the factors which contribute to low yields in Zimbabwe is the plant

“With the basins, you can achieve a high plant population because you can
put three seeds into one basin and then when the seeds emerge, you can later
remove one to remain with two, so they can achieve the right population. So
the issue of precision is important as it achieves high yields,” he said.

He said the basins also harvested some amount of water, thereby prolonging
the life of the plants.

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BCC demands answers from Sipepa-Nkomo

December 23, 2012 in Community News

BULAWAYO — Bulawayo City Council [BCC] has blasted Water Resources and
Management minister Samuel Sipepa-Nkomo for failing to explain the delay in
connecting water supply from Mtshabezi-Umzingwane pipe to the city.


Sipepa-Nkomo had previously promised that the city, which is facing a
serious water crisis, would start receiving water from the pipeline a
fortnight ago.

A representative of the city’s water crisis advocacy sub-committee,
Armstrong Sibanda expressed concern that Bulawayo continued to face a water
crisis despite assurance from Sipepa-Nkomo that the problem would soon be

“The city is still on 96 hours water-rationing,” said Sibanda.
“The promised projects have not been able to deliver water to the residents
of Bulawayo — Mtshabezi pipeline remains a mysterious dream.”

Sibanda said the committee recently visited the pipeline and was informed
that the project was complete.

“But the minister has not come back to explain what the challenge is despite
the fact that he told residents at a service delivery conference a month ago
that the city would have water from Mtshabezi soon,” said Sibanda.

BCC director of engineering services, Simela Dube said the council was yet
to be advised by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority [Zinwa] on a date for
the commissioning of the Mtshabezi-Umzingwane pipeline, a project expected
to supply the city with 17 megalitres of water per day.

Efforts to get comment from Sipepa-Nkomo were fruitless at the time of going
to press.

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Bulawayo man in reforestation drive

December 23, 2012 in Community News

Bulawayo — A Mzilikazi man has taken reforestation to a higher level.


Tree-planting enthusiast, Kheyi Masuku of Mzilikazi in Bulawayo started an
indigenous and citrus trees nursery at his home sometime in 2009 and has not
looked back.

He has nursed thousands of seedlings which he mostly distributes to
individuals and organisations interested in tree-planting programmes.
Masuku said his project, which was all along based in Bulawayo, has spread
to Nkayi and Gokwe where he has planted 20 000 seedlings of both citrus and
indigenous trees.

“I have opened trees nurseries in Nkayi ward 6 at Sibangelana at Councillor
Bernard Nyathi’s home. I also opened another one in Gokwe at Mateta 2 Jabula
Centre,” said Masuku.

He said a total of about 20 000 tree plants were growing in Gokwe and Nkayi
while 10 000 plants were in Bulawayo.

“For the period 2011-2012, I have distributed over 5 000 plants in Mbembesi,
Bulawayo, Shurugwi,Umguza, Nkayi, Tsholotsho and Gokwe South excluding those
which I planted at the new nurseries I have opened in Nkayi and Gokwe.

“My aim is to assist the government in controlling deforestation and to
reduce the effects of climate change which are affecting the country,” said

He said he was concerned by the way trees were being cut in urban areas as
people sought to clear land for urban agriculture or to get firewood.

Masuku said he was engaging the Bulawayo City Council in an effort to
conscientise it on the need to safeguard the few available trees.
He said he had also engaged the local authority to give him land to conduct
his tree-planting activities as he currently does that at his home where
there is little available space.
“I have not received any assistance from anywhere but I am still talking to
the council to see if they can offer me land for the nursery.

“I am also requesting the government to assist me with space because there
are a number of citrus trees which I intend to plant that may assist in the
provision of employment if the nursery is given a space,” he said.

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Shebeens, a health time bomb in Harare

December 23, 2012 in Community News

SHEBEENS are increasing in numbers in most of Harare’s high-density suburbs.

By Tawanda Marwizi

The development, most pronounced in Mbare, Chitungwiza, Epworth, Norton and
other populous suburbs, has become a cause for concern for families living
near the illegal drinking spots.

Residents who spoke to the Standardcommunity had no kind words to shebeen
operators, saying they were exposing their children to improper behaviour.

“It is very shameful to watch visibly drunk men passing out urine a few
steps away from my gate, not to mention exposing their manhood to innocent
children playing in the streets,” said the disgusted Agnes Chiropa, a
resident who lives at a nearby shebeen in Chitungwiza.

“What picture could they be drawing for the children?”

A survey conducted by this paper revealed that a growing number of drinkers
preferred shebeens than drinking at legal beerhalls, mainly due to their

But due to the absence of ablution facilities at most shebeens, most of the
drunkards who spend their quality time drinking opaque beer relieved
themselves in nearby drenches. Others did so in the open.

A Harare City health official who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed
the problem was rising and urged police to launch an operation to root them

“We all know that the water problem has become a national disaster and it
will be unhealthy for shebeens to operate in the suburbs without running
water and proper toilet facilities. Police should just do their job,” said
the official.

However, efforts by the police to discourage the operation of shebeens are
hitting a brick wall, amid reports shebeen queens paid bribes to senior
police officers.

Zephaniah Mandirahwe, who is the Chitungwiza City Council spokesperson, said
they were working towards closing all shebeens.

“They have to be destroyed. they are becoming a health menace,” said

The most popular shebeens in Chitungwiza include KwaBla Midza in St Mary’s,
KwaMai Mishy and Musuva-Musuva in Unit D.

Some people in the country are pushing the government to legalise shebeens,
arguing that they immensely contributed to the independence of the country,
as they were used by nationalists as rendezvous during the liberation

The South African government has already legalised shebeens, which are among
the popular drinking places, especially in the high-density suburbs.

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Christmas treat for Makumbi Mission orphans

December 23, 2012 in Community News

Nearly 100 orphans at Makumbi Mission Orphanage in Domboshava were last week
treated to an early Christmas party by Hyundai Zimbabwe.
The motoring company donated hampers and hosted an end-of-year Christmas
party at the orphanage.

By Don Makanyanga

Addressing the beneficiaries at the ceremony, Rotary Club of Harare Dawn
president, Tafadzwa Katemauswa, said they found it befitting to celebrate
Christmas with the less-privileged.

“We have come here to celebrate Christmas with you and also to hand over a
present that was given to us by our friends from Hyundai Zimbabwe, to share
with you. Our club has historical ties with this orphanage.

“This Christmas is going to be one with a difference, as we have managed to
bring you Father Christmas to celebrate with you,” he said.

This was the first time that the Christmas party at the orphanage has been
graced by father Christmas.

Acting Matron of Makumbi Mission orphanage, Maria Sumuperl, told
Standardcommunity that the children were happy after getting a rare chance
to meet Father Christmas.

“These children are really excited to get this opportunity.
“It is something that has always been their wish and it’s now a dream come
true for most of them,” said the acting matron.
“We are happy with the support that we have always received from Rotary

“I urge them not to tire and continue to have a heart for these
under-privileged children,” she added.

Hyundai Zimbabwe chipped in with more than US$2 000, which was complemented
by Rotary Club of Harare Dawn members funds.

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Zim to meet debt obligation

December 23, 2012 in Business

ZIMBABWE will meet its US$27 million debt obligation to Export-Import Bank
of China (Eximbank) in order to get another loan from a Chinese company
meant to finance expansion of Kariba South Power Station, a senior
government official has said.


Sino Hydro wants to finance the US$400 million expansion of Kariba but has
said it cannot do so unless the debt owed to Eximbank has been cleared.

The expansion would result in additional generating capacity of 300MW.

Speaking at a signing ceremony between the Zimbabwe Power Company [ZPC] and
Sino Hydro in Harare last week, Energy and Power Development
permanent-secretary Partson Mbirimi said the government had not finalised
financial aspects related to the project as a result of the debt.

“As far as I’m aware, government appreciates the significance of this
project. Nonetheless, to the extent practicable, government acting as
guarantor for the loans is prepared to pay that amount.

“The Finance ministry has indicated that they think it will be possible to
pay that amount, although I can’t indicate when,” he said.

“It [loan repayment] is a prerequisite to financial closure.”

The country owes the Eximbank US$27 million for agricultural equipment
acquired through the Industrial Development Corporation and Farmers’ World
owned by Muzarabani South MP, Edward Raradza.

A report by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy
earlier this year showed that Sino Hydro had said that it would not release
funding for Kariba South from Eximbank until the debt had been cleared.

ZPC last week signed an Engineering, Procurement and Construction contract
[EPC] with Sino Hydro, under which the EPC contractor was required to source
financing for up to 90% of the project financing from banks on behalf of

Under an EPC contract, the contractor designs the plant, procures the
necessary materials and builds the project either directly or by
sub-contracting some of the work.

Kariba South Power Station extension is being developed as a standalone
Special Purpose Vehicle [SPV] which combines the assets of the existing
plant and the proposed power station extension and operated by a single
operator to maximise the value of the resource.

To avoid the complexities and delays likely to arise from introducing equity
from third parties in a project involving existing state assets, the SPV
would subsist through a combination of debt and internally generated cash
flows, with ZPC being the only shareholder.

Mbirimi said there was major interest presently being shown by the Chinese
government to develop additional hydro projects on existing dams dotted
around the country as well as other independent power producers in Gwayi and
Gokwe North.

Power shortage problems being addressed — Gapare
ZPC Chairman Victor Gapare said the board and management were addressing the
power shortage problem from two fronts.

The first involved addressing the gap between actual generation and
installed capacity at existing thermal power stations namely Hwange,
Bulawayo, Munyati and Harare.

The second front involved the construction of new generation capacity.

Zimbabwe generates an average of 1 200MW, against a demand of 2 200MW.

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Business ‘groaning’ as 2012 comes to a close

December 23, 2012 in Business

WHO would have thought that the wheels of the economy would come off after a
good run in the first three years of the inclusive government? Those with
supernatural powers of course!


Indeed goods are plenty on the shop shelves but it’s of no use if the
targeted consumer does not have money.

It was by all accounts a tough year for the workers who had to bear the
brunt as companies struggled to stay afloat. Salary increments and the once
proverbial 13th cheque rapidly became foreign concepts.

Cost containment became the buzzword at strategic meetings at a time the
cost of living went up, effectively eroding the little money that workers

Even companies that had the capacity to pay bonuses joined the chorus.

Banks also thought they would reap where they had not sown by imposing
extortionate bank charges. Banks’ siblings, microfinance institutions, upped
the ante with high interest rates of up to 40% per month. Ironically, these
were the same institutions established to help fight poverty.

The honeymoon would be brought to an abrupt end soon after government
announced plans to control bank charges and interest rates to deal with the
sector’s mischief-makers.

The lawlessness of yesteryear reared its ugly head after three banks shut
down during the course of the year.

Interfin was placed under curatorship after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
[RBZ] found the institution to be unsafe and unsound.

Royal and Genesis banks surrendered their licences after failing to meet the
minimum capital requirements.

The National Social Security Authority took up an 84% stake in ReNaissance
Merchant Bank [now Capital Bank], a move that removed the institution from
curatorship. The bank had been placed under curatorship last year after
founding directors — Patterson Timba and Dunmore Kundishora — had allegedly
spirited away depositors’ funds.

Afre shareholders booted out Timba from the board — alongside Norman Nyazema
and Daud Dube — following recommendation from the insurance regulator,
Insurance and Pensions Commission.

Kundishora had resigned from the Afre board during the course of the year.

An investment vehicle owned by Mines minister Obert Mpofu rescued ZABG from
closure after agreeing to invest in the troubled bank in an assets backed
transaction. The bank has turned the corner and has been renamed Allied

Mauritian banking group, AfrAsia snapped up a 35% stake in Kingdom Financial
Holdings Limited, ensuring the bank met the minimum capital requirements.
The group has been rebranded AfrAsia Kingdom Zimbabwe.

RBZ governor Gideon Gono announced in August that phased capital
requirements for banks designed to have minimum equity capital of US$100
million by June 2014, sparking uproar from bankers who felt that the central
bank boss wanted to “kill off” some institutions. The uproar was to spill
into cabinet but Gono had the final say.

Banks are working to meet the first phase deadline of US$25 million by
December 31.

The International Monetary Fund loosened its restrictions on technical
assistance, paving the way for a Staff Monitored Programme. This came after
government met the conditions required — timely reporting of data and
removal of ghost workers from payroll.

Winston Churchill once said that to jaw-jaw is always better than to
war-war. This message seems to have escaped Rainbow Tourism Group [RTG]
shareholders as they tore each other apart.

During the course of the year, shareholders finally buried the hatchet and
agreed on the appointment of a new board chaired by industrialist Joseph

The board went on to appoint Tendai Madziwanyika as CEO last month to
replace Chipo Mtasa, who quit the hospitality group in March.

As companies reposition to meet the new challenges, so is the exit of chief
executive officers and managing directors.
Those that left among others include Washington Matsaira [Standard Chartered
Bank], Sibusisiwe Ndlovu [Afre], Josphat Sachikonye [RioZim], Nyasha
Makuvise [CBZ], Charles Nyambuya [Tractive Power Holdings]and Joe Mutizwa

Mutizwa was appointed to the Starafricacorporation board to provide the
skills necessary to revive the company.

Early this month, Vaka Concrete — an indigenous construction company where
Mutizwa is chairman and major shareholder — unveiled its US$4 million
concrete building products.

Cheers resonated in the tourism industry after two major airlines began
flying into Zimbabwe, a move that helped the country become accessible to

Emirates introduced flights into Harare in February while KLM resumed
flights in October after a 13-year break.

Mozambican airline LAM and Namibian flag carrier Air Namibia also resumed
flights into Zimbabwe. The arrival of these airlines is a plus for the
country as it readies to co-host the UNWTO general assembly in Victoria
Falls next year.

In a landmark decision, the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme withdrew
monitors and allowed Zimbabwe unhindered exports of the Marange diamonds,
ending years of intensive lobbying by government which insisted it had met
the minimum conditions required to sell the gems.

Despite the high production of diamonds, Treasury says revenue is not
flowing into national coffers, forcing Finance minister Tendai Biti to cut
the 2012 national budget by US$400 million.

Government launched the Industrial Development Policy in March to help
accelerate the growth of industries. Industries required recapitalisation to
replace obsolete equipment and provide working capital.

A recent report by the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries shows that
capacity utilisation, on the increase since the use of multiple currencies,
went down to 44,2% this year from 57,2% recorded in 2011, spelling gloom for
the industry.

2013 outlook
In the outlook, politicking will dominate in the run-up to the watershed
elections in 2013, Gono’s final term ends in November and watch out for the
new money bags — the chiefs — after being given custodianship of community
trusts amid reports that some are seeing the projects as part of their

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Conservation messages go unheeded

December 23, 2012 in Opinion

This is my last column of 2012, and at the end of another year that has
flown by in a flash and a blur, I cannot help but reflect on what were its
most striking concerns.

Opinion by Rosie Mitchell

This column has grown increasingly environmentally focused, reflecting the
escalating onslaught on our God-given natural surroundings, flora and fauna,
and I’ve no doubt next year will see more of the same, with ranting such as
mine continuing largely to fall on deaf ears.

We are indeed the most destructive and ungrateful of species living on a
planet shared by a decreasing number of other species, whose living space we
are systematically ruining.

In the long run, the human species will pay the price for our greed and
inability to heed the multitude warning signs and the insights from experts
about what our future, and that of this planet, holds, if we carry on with
our outrageous, selfishly motivated, money-driven behaviours which lead us
to plunder the land and all creatures living on it with such

Regardless of all the publicity directed at the “ruination” of Harare’s
wetlands, each day, I see ploughs and tractors and construction machinery
blatantly destroying our only lifeline to water, and that of 6,5 million
humans, not to mention all the other species, dependent downstream from us
on the rivers whose only collection source of water is these vleis in our

The commercial-style farming observed all over the city in vleis, is no
longer the work of poor downtrodden people, on the whole, it is primarily
the work of greedy people taking advantage of the failure to enforce the
laws that prohibit this behaviour which has only today in mind, and does not
look to the bleak future it is creating.

I see such people overseeing “their” fields. They drive there in their cars,
often very expensive models. No law enforcement agency ever stops them. As
has been pointed out over and over and over by myself and hundreds of others
trying to get this message across, this is not about “bunny hugging”, it is
a humanitarian crisis in the making, because we are running out of water
already. Few people are listening to the warnings.

So, I must continue to repeat the mantra, and will do so, through next
year — no wetlands, no water.

There are many soldiers fighting for the conservation cause, the vast
majority of us, without payment.

Writings such as these are a year-round voluntary exercise and those running
conservation trusts of various kinds do their fine works without salary
because they actually give a damn — about the long-term future, not just
about today and their own personal needs and wants.

I only wish that our army would swell till it’s large enough and powerful
enough to have the kind of high-level impact required to actually put a stop
to the destruction, before the last pangolin, rhino, wild dog is murdered,
the last indigenous tree falls.

Songo Area highlighted at Ian Nyschens Trust event

An event last weekend run by just some such soldiers, the Ian Nyschens
Zambezi Valley Conservation Trust, “Preservation For The Next Generation”,
raised awareness of its anti-poaching efforts and its conservation and
community development projects in the Songo area.

On display were various excellent art by artists from the area as well as
from Chitungwiza and Mabvuku, all created from various recycled materials.
Patrick Lupi and band and the Mabvuku Mbira Ensemble entertained attendees.

Nyschens first ranger deployed by national parks
In 1954, Ian Nyschens was the first Ranger ever employed by the Department
of Wildlife Management which later became National Parks and Wildlife

In 1995 he met Steve Pope at a ceremony at Pope’s bush camp in the Campfire
concession along the southern boundary of Mana Pools and learned of his
efforts to establish hyena research projects to study their influence in
predator populations in Mana. Aged 83, Nyschens with Pope set up this Trust
to educate children in ecology and environment and to spearhead conservation

Threat of extinction of wildlife species real
New venue in Borrowdale, The Circle, hosted the “Preservation For The Next
Generation” fundraiser, which also received support from Telecel, for
anti-poaching, conservation, and the promotion of community development in
the Songo area.

Representatives from the Ministry of Tourism and National Parks and Wildlife
attended and Wildlife Officer Munyaradzi Nhira spoke on anti-poaching
efforts by Parks, highlighting difficulties experienced by anti-poaching
units and the level of sophistication now being shown by professional

The presentation left no doubt that much be done to help Parks safeguard the
valuable animals that are our national heritage, and ensure future
generations actually have wildlife to enjoy.

Ben Vermeulen spoke on conservation and the need for urgent awareness of the
very real threat of extinction of so many precious wildlife species in our

Songo Wildlife Management Area lies north of Siabuwa between the Sengwa and
Ruzirukuru Rivers. Realising the vulnerability of communities here, the
Trust set up community projects to help people improve livelihoods.

The event highlighted Songo and showcased the various proposed projects,
including fish farming, creation of an artificial wetland to attract and
conserve bird life, plantations for fruit and fruit products, and a worm
farm both for income and for the resultant high quality organic fertiliser
to enhance crop production.

Feedback:; 0772 212 730

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Action needed to cement awareness

December 23, 2012 in Environment, Opinion

The year 2012 has no doubt been an eventful year on the environmental scene
in Zimbabwe, for the better and for the worse.

Opinion by Chipo Masara

Maybe the one thing that many would not have failed to notice is how
environmental issues have gained prominence.

As with the rest of the world, it is clear that although it might have taken
long enough, Zimbabwe has finally acknowledged that environmental issues are
anything but trivial.

Problems such as wetland abuse, deforestation, climate change, poaching,
littering, veld fires, water and air pollution, land degradation through
mining, and wildlife conservancy invasion, among others, have become widely
talked about issues.

Unlike in the past, when many people had no clue as to what the fuss about
the environment was all about, 2012 has presented a better picture as far as
environmental awareness is concerned.

Environmental organisations such as Environment Africa, Forestry Commission,
Conservation Society of Monavale, Wildlife and Environment Zimbabwe,
Mukuvisi Woodlands, Friends of the Environment, Miracle Missions, Zimbabwe
Environmental Lawyers Association (Zela), have been highly instrumental
throughout the year in helping spread environmental awareness, as well as
implementing numerous corrective measures.

Forestry Commission for instance, has been on a vigorous reforestation
campaign, putting in place an ambitious project that involves planting at
least 10 million trees each planting season. However, persistent veld fires
have been retrogressive towards such efforts.

Also interesting to note in 2012 was how the corporate world in Zimbabwe
seemed to have finally heeded the call for them to “green” their operations.
Most notable has been the Nyaradzo Funeral Group, which has been involved
this year in numerous environmental initiatives.

In spite of the increased awareness of environmental matters and much
talking about it however, it would in most cases seem that it’s more often
than not just talk without the action to back it up. This has especially
been the case regarding the on-going wetland abuses.

In spite of representatives from the Environmental Management Agency (EMA)
insisting that wetland abuse would not, under any circumstances, be allowed
to go on, the ecologically sensitive areas continue to be wiped out. For
instance, where the National Sports Stadium wetland used to be, now stands a
Chinese-owned mall.

The Gunhill/Highlands wetland has been sold off to land developers, who are
getting it ready for construction. if no stop is soon put to the
developments, it will also soon be nothing but a memory of what was.

There are also reports of plans to build the so-called Mall of Zimbabwe on
the Borrowdale wetland.

These developments have made many question whether EMA has what it takes to
protect the environment.

Considering that wetlands are a major source of underground water supply,
while also serving as free water purifying systems, among many of their
roles, wiping them out will spell doom for a country already facing acute
water problems.

Environmental degradation through mining activities, is another area that
has remained a thorn in the flesh for most communities in the country.

Judging from reports gathered at a workshop hosted by Zela incorporating
many mining stakeholders last Tuesday, most mining companies operating in
the country seem to have brought to the communities in which they operate,
more burdens than they have brought relief.

Besides digging up and leaving open trenches that have not only damaged the
landscape, but injured and in some cases killed people and their livestock,
there are increased reports of miners polluting water sources. This is
posing a serious danger to both people and their livestock.

The Save River, a source of water for millions, is reported to have been
heavily polluted by chemicals dumped in it by some companies mining diamonds
in the Chiadzwa area.

But although the Chiadzwa diamond area has clearly received the most
attention, miners in other areas like Mutoko, Bindura, Kwekwe and Hwange, do
not seem to be doing any better either.

It would seem the concept of sustainability has not yet been fully embraced
by the mining sector.

Litter is another problem that bedevilled the whole country for the year and
does not look like it is in any hurry to go away. There is still a serious
lack of bins, garbage still rarely gets collected and people continue to
litter like there is no tomorrow!

2012 has also been the year that saw the invasion of wildlife conservancies
like the Save River Conservancy, a move that had a negative bearing on the
country’s wildlife safety and the conservation of the animal sanctuaries.
The tourism sector was heavily affected.

Besides encouraging poaching activities that further dwindled the country’s
wildlife numbers, the move also encouraged unprecedented tree-cutting in the
conservancy areas.

Tobacco farmers worsen deforestation
Tobacco farmers, who have been mostly blamed for the country’s present state
of deforestation, have continued to rampantly cut down trees, especially the
indigenous ones which can take more than a century to fully mature.

It would seem very few of the tobacco farmers seem to be taking seriously
the requirement for each of them to have a woodlot from which they can get
the wood to use in treating their crop.

As we wrap up 2012, it is hoped that all the environmental knowledge
gathered over the year may materialise into positive action that would help
restore the country’s environment.

I wish you all a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

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Sitting MPs should prove their usefulness

December 23, 2012 in Opinion

According to the report titled, Baseline Survey on Sector Specific Capacity
Building Requirements for Committees of Parliament, commissioned by
parliament with the assistance of the European Commission and United Nations
Development Programme and released recently, 65% of the country’s current
MPs still require intensive training in legislation and budget analysis.

Sunday Opinion by Benjamin Chitate

Mathematically, this implies that there are some 35% parliamentarians who
have mastered the skills, either because of training received during their
term in parliament, or skills acquired before they came into parliament.

Another implication here also is that the average parliamentarian needs more
than one term in parliament in order to fully digest and master the skills
intended by the various training programmes they undergo.

Let me emphasise the fact that a lot of donor agencies and private companies
have invested a lot of money in training our parliamentarians, and the
knowledge gained from such training has to be put to good use for the good
of the country.

Unfortunately with parliamentarians, the knowledge may be wasted if they
fail to win the next election. Where such knowledge is retained in
parliament for another five years, it may help develop the country.

The MDC’s sitting candidate confirmation process has been in force since
before the split of the original MDC in 2005, and was used in the 2005

It is a very thorough process that should scrutinise what the
parliamentarian has done during their term in office, with the candidate
having to answer questions from the electorate on specific deliverables.

Used objectively, it is a process that can help screen out the
non-performers, thereby enabling quality representation. The pass mark of
two thirds approval by the same electorate that would have been involved in
primary elections is a huge vote of confidence, and is democratic.

Democracy is all about people making choices for themselves without
influence from leadership. In the sitting MP verification process, the
electorate can have their questions answered, and then exercise their
democratic right to have the same parliamentarian represent them or not in
the next parliament.

The process is not an imposition of candidates as some critics would want
people to believe.

The sitting MP confirmation exercise is an even more challenging process
than mere primary elections because while the sitting needs a two thirds
approval vote to be confirmed, the sitting MP can easily walk back into
parliament with a mere 40% vote in a primary election where the first past
the post method is used.

To illustrate my point, if there were three aspirants contesting to
represent the party in a constituency where there is a sitting MP from the
MDC, the votes will be shared among four contestants, making it easy for the
sitting MP to win even when he has not managed to please two thirds of the
electorate during the duration of the past parliament.

What all Zimbabweans should watch out for with interest is the level of
coverage of this so-called imposition of candidates in some sections of the
media, who always try to find some fault on anyone opposed to Zanu PF and
Robert Mugabe, and seem not to find anything positive from the Morgan
Tsvangirai-led MDC and its officials.

Zimbabweans from all walks of life, irrespective of the political party they
belong to, must therefore always think about quality representation before
deciding who should represent them in parliament.

Zimbabweans must take time to digest Nhamo Mhiripiri who is quoted in a
recent report saying it was critical to understand why the MDC-T decided to
confirm sitting candidates without subjecting them to primaries. It would be
wasteful to lose a highly performing parliamentarian who should use the
confirmation exercise to identify their shortcomings in order to deliver
better in the next parliament if elected in the national elections.

The sudden interest in the internal affairs of the MDC by persons associated
to Zanu PF gives credence to the speculation that the opposition of the
sitting MPs confirmation exercise is a Zanu PF and CIO strategy to cause
divisions in the MDC ahead of elections.

The MDC must never be deterred by such shallow-minded armchair critics and
concentrate on their continued effort to improve governance quality.

It may take time for some people to realise the benefits, but from an
economic perspective, given the shrinking resources, it is better to give
someone on whom resources have been invested, if they are still popular with
the people and successfully account for their previous term in office.

Caution, however, should be taken to avoid situations where some people have
been in parliament uninterrupted for 32 years.

While experience is vital, the MDC should improve its candidate selection
process by limiting terms to not more than 30 years in a single position, be
it council, parliament or senate.

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‘It is possible to create a million jobs’

December 22, 2012 in Opinion

“Ask five economists and you’ll get five different answers — six if one went
to Harvard. —-Edgar R Fiedler

Opinion by Phillip Chichoni

There have been debates and comments in the past weeks on whether it is
possible to create a million jobs in Zimbabwe over the next five years. Many
economists and analysts interviewed by the various media say it is a dream.
In other words, it is impossible.

When Marconi told people that he was developing a device that would enable
communication between long distances without the use of cables, many thought
he was insane and that it was impossible. But we have wireless communication
now. People have always laughed and scorned at visionary people saying they
are dreaming. History has shown that nothing is impossible if one is
committed and passionate towards achieving it. And that the greatest
achievers started as great dreamers.

Instead of analysing how impossible something is, why not look at how we can
make it possible? In this case, let us look at the job creation mission in

How many people are unemployed in Zimbabwe?
The starting point is to look at how many people are actually unemployed. In
the United States and Europe, unemployment is measured by the number of
people who are registered for unemployment benefits while seeking jobs at
any given time. So you find that every month or quarter, the government
releases unemployment figures.

We do not have an unemployment register. Instead, the figures are estimated
by various people and range from 50% to 90% unemployment. Now if 90% of the
people were unemployed and the state gives no unemployment benefits, that
means the majority of the people would be starving and destitute. But they
are not.

We have a very high level of informal business activity in this country. It
employs a large majority of the “formally unemployed” people. In many cases,
it even pays more than formal employment. I have spoken to many informal
business owners, like vegetable sellers and clothing traders. Many generate
revenues above the US$5 000 a month VAT threshold, with some making as much
as US$20 000 in good months, like during the festive season or when the new
school year begins. A good number support over six dependents and they live
well. So should these people be counted among the 90% unemployed?

Great depression solution— public works
When the great depression of the 1930s devastated industry in the US,
unemployment reached record high levels. To solve the problem, the
government started public work programmes: constructing roads, bridges and
other massive state-sponsored infrastructure projects. These created lots of
jobs and helped the economy start recovering.

A similar solution can work in Zimbabwe, but it needs huge financial
investments. If the government manages to mobilise funds for infrastructure
development, which the country desperately needs after decades of
dilapidation, the work will enable businesses in the supply chain to recover
and new ones developing. This will create jobs, and possibly over a million
if the projects are big enough.

More practical solution — developing SMEs
There are thousands of informal businesses operating in the country. Most
are one-person outfits while others employ a few people each. Let us say,
for argument’s sake, that there are a hundred thousand such informal
businesses and SMEs. If each one employs one more person, that will create
100 000 jobs immediately. Five more people and that will be 500 000 new
jobs. That is not impossible if the SMEs and informal businesses are

To grow, most of these businesses need support. The majority of the owners
lack essential business and financial management skills. As a result, they
are not running optimally and efficiently to enable them to grow. Equipping
the owners with essential business skills will improve their capabilities in
building growing and profitable businesses, which will create employment.

Formalising these businesses will help them get contracts from the state and
big companies, thus giving them opportunities to accelerate their growth.
Many fear that formalising is an arduous and expensive process, but the
government promulgated the Private Business Corporation Act specifically to
enable informal businesses to incorporate simply and affordably.

A few weeks ago, the Harare branch of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of
Commerce organised a workshop to train SMEs on essential skills. I helped in
the training on record-keeping and business planning, while a representative
from the SPB facilitated on how to participate in government tenders. The
business owners who participated said they couldn’t wait for more such

Best wishes in growing your business.

Banks have a role to play

Banks could organise business skills training to customers they lend money
to. This will help them run their businesses more proficiently, be more
profitable and reduce chances of defaulting on their loans. The facilitation
fees could be levied on the loans. That way we can all play a part in
accelerating SMEs’ growth and creating new jobs.

Phillip Chichoni is a strategic business planning consultant who works with
entrepreneurs and growing businesses. You may contact him by email or visit: http://smebusinesslink. com.

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Clean, peaceful leadership renewal is possible

December 23, 2012 in Editorial

While it is a cliché that politicians are like diapers and must be changed
at the right time, in the case of South Africa, the tenets of democracy have
guaranteed the cleanliness of the diapers and all has been well to date
because those who have returned to office have done so in peace and election
results have not been sat upon, challenged or delayed in release.

Sunday View by Clement Moyo

President Jacob Zuma’s re-election to ANC Presidency in the face of a stiff
challenge for the seat by his right hand man Deputy-President Kgalema
Motlanthe last week deserves recognition and an accolade.
Not only did Motlanthe challenge Zuma for the top post in ANC, a position
that by default makes one the President of South Africa; he also graciously
accepted defeat as he continues to serve as Deputy-President of South Africa
until 2014 if he so wishes.

As a political party, ANC has managed to show other liberation movements and
labour movements in the region that leadership renewal is not a taboo but a
natural and necessary process.

Prophets of doom had predicted chaos at ANC’s 53rd national elective
conference as Montlanthe decided to stand against Zuma for the top post.
Why? It’s unusual and effectively uncomfortable for an incumbent head of a
political party to be challenged even within the so-called “democratic

There are lessons that Zimbabwe’s political parties can learn from ANC
leadership renewal.

While the recent election did not lead to a change at the top leadership
post of ANC, the fact that Motlanthe contested against the incumbent for
control of ANC is significant and a good precedent for democracy at party
level and national politics.

Also, one major aspect worth noting is that Zuma’s victory does not give him
the right to act as he pleases. Zuma can be recalled, just as Thabo Mbeki
was recalled from the top post as South Africa’s president according to the
party constitution. Such is the power of a people-led political
organisation, a side of the political coin that is still foreign to Zimbabwe’s
political parties.

In Zanu PF, any attempt to challenge Mugabe for party presidency would
definitely lead to bloodshed and purging on an unprecedented scale. Such
change or leadership contests have also been resisted by parties that regard
themselves as stalwarts for democracy like MDC.

It is common knowledge now that the unexpected MDC split in 2005 was due to
internal disgruntlement and conflict of interests from within the party. It
is also an open secret that those with ambitions to challenge Tsvangirai for
MDC-T leadership fear the consequences of retribution, blackmail or possible

One can easily be blacklisted as a dissident and be flushed out of the party
structures without consequences. Such scenes nearly manifested themselves at
the last MDC-T congress in Bulawayo which was marred by violence, a generic
trademark of Zimbabwe’s political parties.

Also, the 2009 secret amendment of MDC-T party’s constitution to extend the
term of the post of president from two consecutive terms to being
“tailor-made” to Morgan Tsvangirai’s pleasure could have left a number

It is the “godfather” traits that engulf political party leaders, making
them larger than life characters that turn parties into cults. Such traits
also manifested themselves in Arthur Mutambara as he resisted a democratic
ouster by Welshman Ncube, an event that led to another split as he selfishly
believed himself to be larger than the party he represented.

But the golden question remains: Are Zimbabwe’s political parties learning
anything from across Limpopo? If so, what do they have to show for it?

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We‘re the world’s worst drivers, OK?

December 23, 2012 in Editorial

Zimbabweans are the world’s worst drivers, okay! I know you don’t agree but
let’s talk about this on January 2.

Editor’s Memo by Nevanji Madanhire

I know on that day you will be lying flat on your back in some hospital bed
with all your limps bound in the plaster of Paris and your head, all in
bandages, round like a football, your eyes peeping tentatively at me through

As is always the case in holiday accidents, it’s only the loved ones who die
while the culprit remains, most of the time with minor injuries or fractured
limbs but otherwise very alive!

Last year someone said, “I was overtaking a gonyet [haulage truck] and then
the road turned!” It was the road that turned, eh? Now he lives with the
burden of the guilt of having literally murdered all his loved ones.

In Zimbabwe, bad driving begins right from the beginning; one buys a
secondhand vehicle and then goes to buy a driver’s licence from corrupt
licensing officials.

Zimbabweans hate failing the driving test so will fork out any amount to
avoid it.

But the truth of the matter is, they hurry for driving tests before they
have had the hang of it. If you fail once, that’s fine. Twice, that’s still

Thrice, that again is still fine so long you are going back to your
instructor to go over it again, all of it.

Word of caution, there should never be a shortcut to obtaining a driver’s
licence. Know the Highway Code backwards. If you have learnt your lessons
well, there is no way anyone can ask for bribe; the guys at the VID only ask
for your money when they are sure you are in a hurry to obtain a licence and
you have money you don’t know what to do with. Never pay for a licence.

Don’t drive under the influence, stupid. This has been said before. Don’t
give us the crap about being a better driver when you have had a few. Truth
is: it isn’t true; alcohol will slow your reaction time in tricky

Not only that, when you drive with a bottle between your thighs, you’re

Your legs are meant only to help you walk, remember when we were created god
didn’t have cars in mind. By using them to drive, you have assigned them a
totally new task which they may master over a long period of practice.

But, for them to do that and work as a vice to hold your beer too? That’s a
completely new extra task you are assigning to them. Just when they are
getting used to clutching in, applying the brakes and accelerating, you are
asking them to hold your beer. It’s simply not fair to them and the children
you are carrying!

Talking of multi-tasking; speaking on your phone while driving is another
example of impractical multi-tasking. Some even go to the extent of
composing text messages and sending them while driving! Women are the worst
culprits in this, I don’t care if you accuse me of sexism.

Truth is women talk on the phone all the time while driving. Men do too, but
they are briefer and to the point. Men’s greatest fault when driving,
particularly in the cities, is girl-watching, or is it leg gazing? They will
gaze at women in certain types of outfits, especially miniskirts and let
their imaginations drift with them! Just look at their car bumpers to see
what I mean.

The worst Zimbabwean drivers are those who live outside the country,
particularly in South Africa.

That’s very interesting because the South African Highway Code is tighter on
rules than ours and when these drivers are down there, they drive very well.
Not when they come over during the festive season with their Gangster
Paradise (GP) registered vehicles. They become monsters on the roads, as if
trying to imply that every local driver is a dunce.

They screech their wheels and blow their horns as if every car is in their

They see only the car immediately in front of them; so in a traffic jam they
are always swearing at the poor driver in front as if he could lift his
vehicle and let them pass. But see them in January as they trek back down
South, crestfallen and broke, their cars almost falling apart, the result of
the persistent acts of road rage they engaged in.

Please care for the pedestrians and the cyclists? The fact that you are
travelling in a chunk of metal automatically puts these poor individuals in
a vulnerable position. Please consider them when driving by approaching
pedestrian crossings and cycling tracks soberly.

Avoid threatening them with bursts of speed and the sound of your horn.

There is no reason to be vindictive; the pedestrians and cyclists know the
full power of your vehicle. They also have the same rights on the roads as
you do; courteous drivers know where and when pedestrians have the right of

Don’t speed, please. Have you noticed the motorist you overtake who is
driving consistently at say 70km/h will arrive at the same destination as
you almost at the same time? Have you wondered why?

Your bursts of speed are not sustainable; you can only travel at such speeds
for only small distances, usually only 5km and then you are slowed down or
stopped altogether either by other traffic, farm animals or other obstacles
on the roads. Our roads are not superhighways; they are notoriously slow!
But if you abide by their dictates, you will avoid the frustrations that
come with driving on them.

Overtake only when you absolutely can’t avoid it and do it carefully because
there just might be an unseen obstacle in the way or the road might have a
bend. Traffic signals are not always visible, if they exist at all. Road
markings too, drivers should ensure they look out for them.

And, do you know your vehicle?

Below are the basics you must know about your car before you take to the
road [courtesy of Automotive India]:

Space your car needs on the road;
How steering response changes with speed;
How much of your car is ahead and behind you;
In gear-response of your car (In the city you need just the 1st and 2nd but
for highway you need to know of the 3rd, 4th and 5th too);
How your car behaves under normal braking;
How your car behaves under hard braking and it’s braking distance; and
The ground clearance of the car.

In the New Year, don’t live with guilt of having killed your family. Enjoy.

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Stop extorting desperate travellers

December 23, 2012 in Editorial

Yesterday thousands of Zimbabweans began travelling to various destinations
for the Christmas and New Year holidays.

The Standard Editorial

At Mbare Musika and other various pick-up points, many were stranded and
shocked to discover buses had unilaterally hiked their fares. Passengers,
going to Mutare were told to cough up US$12, double the fare they used to

It was the same for other destinations like Masvingo with transporters
charging US$12. For a 40km journey from Harare to Juru growth point,
travellers were paying US$6.

The steep rise in fares left many families stranded. Imagine a family of
five travelling from Harare to Chipinge for the holiday would require over
US$200 for their journey home and back to Harare.
Those travelling to places like Victoria Falls would part with more hard-
earned dollars.

But what justification do transporters have for hiking fares each time
Zimbabweans are desperate to travel to their rural areas? With the price of
fuel relatively stable, surely transporters are only motivated by the desire
to make a killing over the festive period.

Such profiteering, which puts a dent on the festive mood for many struggling
Zimbabweans, is unwarranted and should be stopped.

As many people travel, we wish to remind drivers to be mindful of the
carnage that has been occurring on our roads. Already, the past few days
have witnessed a marked rise in accidents that have claimed many lives. Just
yesterday, Zimbabweans buried soccer legend Adam Ndlovu, who died in an
accident that left his brother Peter with injuries.

Caution should be the buzzword on the roads while drinking and driving
should be avoided at all costs. Drivers should also guard against driving
for long hours as this could lead to fatigue, which has been blamed for a
number of horrific accidents.

It is, therefore, imperative for transport operators to stop giving drivers
targets in order to maximise on profit. Overworked drivers can cause

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