Felix Njini Chief Business Reporter
THE state-run Media and Information Commission (MIC) in June agreed to grant
newspaper group Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ), publishers of the
banned Daily News and Daily News on Sunday, an operating licence but was put
under political pressure to reverse the decision, a former commissioner has
The startling revelation comes as impeccable sources yesterday told The
Financial Gazette that the state security agency, the Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO), had vetoed ANZ's registration, which would have paved
the way for the return of the two titles. Government officials, including
former information and publicity minister Jonathan Moyo, have in the past
labelled the Daily News - Zimbabwe's largest circulating newspaper before it
was banned - a threat to national security.
In papers filed in the High Court, Jonathan Maphenduka, a former MIC board
member said the regulatory body had, at a June 16 2005 meeting, agreed that
there was no legal basis to deny the ANZ a licence. MIC chairman Tafataona
Mahoso, Daphne Tomana, the MIC board's legal expert, Maphenduka, Mssrs
Mlambo, Makoni and Mukondiwa attended the June 16 meeting. Only Rino
Zhuwarara was absent.
Despite the MIC's position, which commissioners expected to be communicated
to the public immediately afterwards, Mahoso had stalled, presumably 'to
consult higher authorities.' The June 16 position on the ANZ was taken
simultaneously with the decision to deny another publisher, the African
Tribune Newspapers (ATN), a licence - a decision which Mahoso communicated
to the applicants directly, but chose to wait for over a month before
proceeding with the ANZ case.
"In respect of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe for its registration as a
mass media service provider, the commissioners at that stage accepted that
there was no legal basis for refusing this company registration and that
registration should be granted.
"Notwithstanding the attitude of the commission to the application of
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, the executive chairperson, Dr Mahoso
appeared to me to be stalling on the matter and he demanded additional
information regarding the shareholders of the applicant (ANZ). Dr Mahoso
took the view that the structures of the applicant were confusing and it was
necessary to clear this confusion," Maphenduka said in the affidavit filed
in the case pitting the MIC and ANZ, currently before the High Court. The
ANZ is challenging the MIC's decision to deny it a licence to publish its
The former MIC commissioner, who resigned in August in protest against the
decision to deny the licence, has also revealed there was shroud of secrecy
surrounding minutes of the June 16 meeting, which were not made available to
members of the commission.
"I confirm that after the meeting and, as is practice, I asked to be
furnished with a copy of the minutes of the meeting. The secretary at the
respondent's office attempted to fax me a copy of the minutes and only a
small portion appeared. I was then assured that the minutes would be mailed
to me but I did not receive these. I have not received such minutes to date
and do not quite understand why they have not been made available to me.
"I should also mention that at the next meeting of the respondent on July 18
2005, one of the issues coming early in the programme was, as usual,
confirmation of minutes of the previous meeting, i.e. the one on the 16 and
17 June 2005. Such confirmation could not be made because up to then those
minutes had not been made available," Maphenduka said. ANZ legal advisors
allege that Mahoso has been reluctant to make public the minutes of the
meeting held on June 16.
Maphenduka further reveals that at a subsequent meeting of the MIC board,
the legal adviser to the board, Daphne Tomana, asked the commission to
renege on its earlier position on the ANZ application.
"In a subsequent meeting of the respondent which took place on the 18th of
July 2005, one of the commissioners persuaded the respondent to alter its
original decision of 16th June 2005 by suggesting fairly forcefully that the
Supreme Court judgment stipulated the manner in which respondent should deal
with the application of the applicant (ANZ). More specifically it was
suggested that the respondent deal with the matter purely on historical
terms, that is to say confine itself to the circumstances that obtained at
the time the first application of the applicant was made.
"On the basis of this, therefore, we were persuaded that the applicant's
application for registration should be refused and this is what we
eventually did. I am convinced, however, that the approach and the eventual
decision resulting from it were largely political," Maphenduka added.
In an opposing affidavit, Mahoso, who refuses to recognise Maphenduka's
resignation, vehemently defended the MIC's position, saying all
commissioners, including Maphenduka, agreed not to register the ANZ.
Mahoso charged that Maphenduka had become a publicity monger for 'reasons
best known to himself.'
Mahoso, whose affidavit is silent on the June 16 meeting, charged that
Maphenduka 'cannot wish away a decision he made by accusing the chairman of
being politically motivated.'
"It is apparent that the deponent (Maphenduka) has an interest in the
applicant (ANZ) and is assisting the applicant in bringing scandal to the
respondent (MIC) in an effort to persuade this honourable court to be in
doubt of the actions of the MIC," Mahoso charged.
Maphenduka has shot back, saying his only interest in the ANZ issue was "to
ensure that the decisions made by the respondent commission were consistent
with the law and were fair and reasonable and also served the long-term
interests of Zimbabwe."
The spat between Maphenduka and Mahoso has opened up a can of worms and
given a rare insight into the operations of the MIC, which was created in
2002 following the promulgation of the draconian Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
While the institution purports to operate independently of government,
recent revelations show it is being run as a parastatal, with the Department
of State Enterprises directly responsible for remuneration. Minutes appended
to Maphenduka's affidavit reveal that board fees were to be reviewed by that
government department. It is also recorded that Mahoso told the June 16
meeting that the MIC, like all parastatals, was now required to pay duty for
all vehicle purchases.
Sources close to the MIC have also alleged that Daphne Tomana complained
that she had been threatened and accused of being "too vocal on the board",
but had refrained from naming the source of the threats.
The MIC has since changed legal advisors, ditching Muzangaza, Tomana and
Associates, a firm in which Johannes Tomana, Daphne's husband, is a senior
The sources said the move had less to do with ethical considerations - which
the MIC had long ignored in respect of the possible conflict of interest,
with Mahoso reportedly stating that Tomana was the only lawyer in the
country who understood media law - and more to do with the fact that Tomana's
firm had perceived strong links with disgraced former minister Moyo.
Maphenduka, who has become the target of a smear campaign in the
government-controlled press, yesterday hit out at the MIC.
"The MIC's motto is Integrity, Responsibility and Fairness. Must this noble
emblem further await its application for the dispensation of justice while
the commission under Mahoso's direction plays dirty games?" said Maphenduka.
"While the ANZ was grossly ill-advised to defy the law when it should have
applied for registration in the first instance it has now submitted to the
requirements of the law. Must its failure in the past to comply be used in
perpetuation to deny its registration?" queried Maphe-nduka.
"The commission, on close examination, cannot acquit itself of bias in this
regard. It risks being a costly farce."
Charles Rukuni Bulawayo Bureau Chief
ZANU PF may have made inroads into the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
strongholds of Matabeleland North and South in the just-ended Senate
elections but it is far from winning the hearts of the Ndebele people.
The ruling party, which won all five seats in Matabeleland South, three in
Matabeleland North but lost all five seats in Bulawayo, does not want to
hear this kind of talk. It even regards it as treasonous, but according to a
political observer, this is the reality.
The people of Matabeleland consider the so-called "inroads" into their
territory as further domination of the Ndebele people who yearn for autonomy
and believe that the only way out is to have a federal system which will
ensure that there is a Ndebele state.
If they can't have a federal system, they should be adequately represented
in government and should be given key posts in the civil service, the
diplomatic service as well as in cabinet.
The political observer said one of the major reasons why the Ndebele yearned
for autonomy was that they simply wanted to maintain their identity because
the Ndebele state which was established in the 1820s had been abruptly ended
"The nation was less than a century old and was therefore not yet mature. So
after colonialisation the Ndebele tried to maintain that identity through
the formation of associations like the Matabeleland Home Society," the
The rise of African nationalism cooled this down but the emergence of Joshua
Nkomo pacified them because though he was a national leader they regarded
him as their own man.
The advent of majority rule, right from the start of the internal settlement
talks, rekindled the debate with Chief Kayisa Ndiweni, regarded as the
paramount chief of Matabeleland, arguing way back in 1978 that majority rule
should usher separate nations because the Ndebele and Shona had always been
separate nations with the Ndebele being ruled by their king and the Shona by
Though the two nations had been brought together by colonialism, Chief
Ndiweni argued that "these two nations are just as different through their
language and traditions as the Walloons and Flemish of Belgium or the Turks
and Greeks of Cyprus".
Justifying the formation of the United National Federal Party, which sought
a federal system that would ensure autonomy of the Ndebele and the Shona,
Ndiweni said: "The advent of majority rule brings about the question of
domination. The Mashona feel that as they are in numerical majority it would
be right if a new government would reflect that fact. The Matabeles,
however, feel that before the white men's arrival they were a proud and
independent nation not dominated by anyone."
Though his party was defeated in the polls both in the transitional
government of 1979 and in the independence elections of 1980, Ndiweni still
nurtured the idea of a federal government. He welcomed the introduction of
provincial governors in 1984 believing that they would be given autonomy to
run their provinces but this was not the case.
A political analyst said though the calls for a Ndebele state literally died
because of the formation of a government of national unity at independence,
the purge against the Ndebele during the so-called fight against dissidents
between 1982 and 1987 rekindled the idea because the people of Matabeleland
saw the purge as being aimed at them as a nation rather than at ZAPU because
it was only targeted at Ndebele-speaking areas.
"ZAPU was a national party which had followers throughout the country, but
the purge was only directed at Matabeleland and those parts of the Midlands
populated by the Ndebele-speaking people," the analyst said.
Calls for a Ndebele state were stifled during the civil strife because the
people had no way of expressing themselves. The people therefore saw the
unity accord of 1987 as an opportunity to revive the Ndebele state. This
resulted in the formation of cultural associations which had political
overtones as well as political parties that openly advocated for a federal
The government, fearing what it termed a Biafra, a Nigerian state that
sought secession from Nigeria in the late 1960s resulting in a bitter civil
war, thwarted all attempts to set up a federal system. Even former ZAPU
leaders who had joined ZANU PF were against the idea.
"This was quite understandable because ZAPU had always advocated for a
unitary state," the political analysts said. "The leaders of ZAPU could
therefore not be seen to be advocating a separate state. But in the process
they lost the support of the people and they have never regained it."
Paul Siwela, leader of ZAPU-Federal Party, said ZANU PF might think it has
made inroads in Matabeleland but the truth was that the people of the region
had never voted for ZANU PF.
He said the people of Matabeleland wanted a federal system because they were
being marginalised by ZANU PF and were not being given key posts in
government, in parastatals, in the diplomatic service and even in cabinet.
He said there had never been a Minister of State Security or Foreign Affairs
The Ministry of Home Affairs, one of the most powerful posts as it controls
the police has, except for a few occasions, been reserved for someone from
Matabeleland since independence with Joshua Nkomo, John Nkomo, Dumiso
Dabengwa and currently Kembo Mohadi holding that portfolio.
A political observer, however, said people must not be fooled by that. "We
have a powerful police commissioner who reports directly to the President,
so the minister is not that powerful," the observer said.
Asked why the government has always been against the idea of a federal
system yet the Ndebele are not calling for a secession, the observer said
Matabeleland was too rich to be left alone because there was a real danger
it could fight for secession.
"It has vast tourism resources through the Victoria Falls and Hwange
National Park. It has the power stations at Hwange and is therefore vital
for the supply of power to the country. It has vast resources of methane
gas. These are vital resources that the nation cannot afford to tamper
The observer however noted that whether people liked it or not "calls for a
Ndebele nation will continue to linger on for years to come because this is
essentially a search for identity rather than for secession".
Nelson Banya News Editor
LAST Saturday's senate elections, which handed ZANU PF an 86 percent
majority in the upper chamber to seal the ruling party's dominance, left
both victor and the vanquished to confront serious questions.
That the elections - to reintroduce a senate that was disbanded in 1990 -
were held amidf pervasive hunger, rising joblessness and inflation as well
as the collapse of infrastructure as evidenced by burst sewer pipes in many
urban settlements, might have been lost on the promoters of the senate
project, but certainly not on voters, who delivered a chilling snub to
For ZANU PF, the 19.48 percent average turnout does not do its credibility,
which has taken a serious, if deserved battering over the past five years,
Voter apathy following a poll boycott advocated by opposition leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and general disenchantment with yet another election that would
not change the fortunes of Zimbabwe's long-suffering multitudes, combined to
ensure ZANU PF's victory had a hollow ring to it. Political analysts have
warned ZANU PF to ignore the voter apathy at its own peril.
Despite its proclamations of encroaching into urban opposition territory,
the ruling party will have to introspect and find answers to the problems
confronting 90 percent of the electorate who stayed away on Saturday. Going
into a high stakes presidential election under the illusion of newfound
support among the urban electorate could prove disastrous.
Political scientist Eldred Masunungure this week said he expected the
government's confidence to be shaken by the poll boycott.
"Many will be looking at this as a sign that they are isolated and are
losing support. What this might do is to undermine their loyalty to
President Mugabe and ZANU PF," Masunungure told Reuters.
For the fragmented opposition, the pathetic showing by renegade Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) candidates, who defied Tsvangirai and participated
in the election, pushed the party closer to disintegration. This has raised
questions over the opposition party's staying power. While the low voter
figures, following a vigorous boycott campaign mounted by Tsvangirai, must
have flattered the embattled opposition leader, he will have to face up to
the reality of losing the co-founders of the six-year-old party.
On Sunday, Tsvangirai referred to the pro-senate faction - led by
secretary-general Welshman Ncube and party vice president Gibson Sibanda -
as "my colleagues of yesteryear."
The returns from Bulawayo province, a supposed bastion of the pro-senate
faction, showed an average voter turnout of just over eight percent.
The MDC also surrendered eight seats in rural Matabeleland in the process,
severely attenuating the pro-senate faction's standing and putting its
political appeal into serious doubt.
Tsvangirai thanked voters for "heeding our call for the boycott of this
"We have been vindicated," he said. "We were proved right in our assessment
of the national sentiment."
While Tsvangirai could rightly gloat, having been vindicated by the record
low turnout on Saturday and his rivals' poor showing, internecine conflict
still threatens his party and he will, in the post-election period, have to
confront the possible irreparable damage this has caused to the party.
Political analyst Lovemore Madhuku, who heads the National Constitutional
Assembly which has been fighting for a new constitution since 1999, concurs
"Even for ZANU PF, these elections have no meaning. The turnout shows that
the people are not interested in ZANU PF's political programme. All this
demonstrates the need for a new constitution.
The only way forward is comprehensive constitutional reform to restore the
public's confidence in the electoral process," Madhuku said.
He, however, sees the election's far-reaching implications within the only
party to pose a serious threat to President Robert Mugabe's 25-year rule -
"The script is quite clear. There is a clear split, between the bigger
group, led by Tsvangirai, and those who supported participation in the
election. It is unfortunate because the pro-senate group thought it had more
support than it actually had.
"What we will now see is a battle for the party's name and assets.
"We foresee them going to the courts, but Tsvangirai might have to form
another party," Madhuku said.
Asked what chances a fragmented opposition would have of unseating ZANU PF,
which has entrenched its rule despite widespread misery, Madhuku said
opposition forces would have little choice but to unite.
In the meantime, Zimbabweans, a third of whom require food aid this year,
continue with their daily battle for survival within an environment with an
80 percent jobless rate and inflation is projected to reach 600 percent by
The reintroduced senate will only be relevant as far as it symbolises the
ruling elite's indifference in the midst of rising poverty and misery.
BULAWAYO - The Bulawayo province of the Movement for Democratic Change was
ecstatic about its victory in the senate elections held at the weekend,
where it won all five seats, saying this demonstrated that the party was
right to contest the elections and defend its stronghold.
Provincial publicity secretary Victor Moyo said the victory was a clear
indication to ZANU PF that it had no room in Bulawayo.
The polls were marred by voter apathy with the highest votes won by a single
candidate being 4 188 won by Rita Ndlovu who beat former Home Affairs
Minister Dumiso Dabengwa in Bulawayo-Nkulumane.
Greenfield Nyoni of Pelandaba-Mpopoma polled the lowest votes, 1 974 to beat
Moyo said there was a low voter turnout because of the general apathy that
has prevailed since the 2000 parliamentary elections. Voters were also
confused by calls by party leader Morgan Tsvangirai to boycott the
The elections have almost split the MDC. One faction led by Tsvangirai
called for a boycott while another led by party vice-president Gibson
Sibanda said people should participate.
Despite the low voter turnout, Moyo said what was important was that "a win
is a win. It would be nice if every province of the MDC could be as strong
as Bulawayo. We would win the elections at the end of the day".
ZIMBABWE, facing a growing number of people in urgent need of food handouts,
has stepped up grain imports from South Africa to avert starvation, amid
reports of villagers in remote areas scavenging for food while others eat
The country, whose foreign currency coffers are virtually empty, is
reportedly depriving other vital sectors such as the fuel industry, by
diverting resources to procure grain to stave off starvation in the light of
growing concerns about Zimbabwe's food security.
Statistics from the South African Grain Information Services (SAGIS)
released this week show that Pretoria's bulk exports were going to Harare in
the wake of reports by independent food experts that about four million
people - a third of the population - were in need of food aid in Zimbabwe.
Of the 27 700 tonnes of white maize which were shipped from South Africa
last week, 15 200 tonnes were destined for Zimbabwe, where successive
droughts and chaos on the farms brought about by the government's
controversial land reforms have drastically cut food production. The
country, which harvested between 500 000 and 800 000 tonnes of grain in the
past season, is struggling to make up for a deficit of 1.2 million tonnes.
Zimbabwe requires about 150 000 tonnes of the staple maize monthly.
Independent food experts estimate that Zimbabwe needs about US$230 million
to cover the deficit.
The government has been reluctant to make a public international appeal for
food aid like other southern African countries stalked by hunger.
Zambia declared a national emergency last month in the hope of spurring
donations for an estimated 1.7 million hungry people while in equally
drought-ravaged Malawi, officials say about 5 million face serious food
shortages as maize prices skyrocket.
The World Food Programme, a food security arm of the United Nations, says it
is still US$102 million short of some US$400 million needed to bail out
Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe until the next
harvest in April.
Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter
IN a stomach-churning irony, perennial loss-maker Grain Marketing Board
(GMB), whose inefficiency is partly blamed for the country's precarious food
situation, this week won an award from an obscure trade organisation
claiming to recognise "the global quality of business management."
The International Award for Excellence in Products and Services, received by
GMB acting chief executive officer Samuel Muvuti in Spain this week is
sponsored by an esoteric Madrid-based organisation known as the Trade
Leaders Club in collaboration with the Editorial Ofice (sic). The two
organisations suggest that the purpose of the 'awards' is the promotion of
the recipients' products and services.
"Editorial Ofice (sic) and the Trade Leaders' Club have instituted a program
of international recognition awards, serving as a support of (sic) your
business identity in future promotional and marketing actions. The awarded
businessmen have the chance to introduce their companies and products in a
forum of businessmen and industrialists from more than 40 countries,
interested in buying or selling. The awarded companies can also belong to
the Trade Leaders' Club - if they wish - and to be included in its members
directory duly classified by countries and fields of activity."
The selection criterion involves members proposing and suggesting "companies
from each field of activity and geographical area that, in their opinion,
deserve to be included in the selection due to the prestige they have
reached in their different activities.
"The members can also propose other companies through the 'on line' macro
poll included in this web. They can also request to be included in the
selection procedure for the different prizes instituted by our organisation.
"The awarded businessmen have the chance to introduce their companies and
products in a forum of businessmen and industrialists from more than 40
countries, interested in buying or selling," the organisation reveals in
information posted on its website.
The organisation, which offers consultancy services to award recipients,
charges US$195 (about Z$13 million) for a copy of its members' directory.
News of GMB's award, reported dutifully by the state-controlled Herald,
which claimed the parastatal had received an "internationally acclaimed
prestigious award for its efforts in ensuring food security in the country",
must have come as a surprise to many in a country grappling with pervasive
The GMB has, by all standards, failed to execute its mandate to ensure food
security, particularly for staple products such as maize and wheat.
The heavily indebted state grain procurer recorded a $24.8 billion loss in
2003 and sank further to a $302 billion reversal in 2004 despite its
legislated monopoly. Though management at the parastatal - which frequently
lends itself to political manipulation - blames the losses on a
state-imposed uneconomic pricing policy, analysts attribute the pathetic
performance to mismanagement and inefficiency.
GMB has not only recorded massive losses but has also failed to mobilise
grain stocks consistent with its monopolistic position.
In the 2003/2004 season, as GMB took delivery of just over 400 000 tonnes of
maize in its silos, its management buttressed government's politically
expedient projections of 2.4 million tonnes.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWSNET) has warned that about
three million Zimbabweans will require food aid this year.
Hopes for the revival of the country's agricultural production this year
have been dampened by a continuous shortage of inputs, high inflation and
the shortage of fuel. Only recently, wheat farmers were up in arms with the
GMB following delays in paying for deliveries.
Muvuti could not be reached for comment.
Njabulo Ncube Chief Political Reporter
AS the circus within the faction-riddled Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) continues, a vicious legal fight is on the cards over the ownership of
the party patent and assets, amid revelations the pro-senate faction of the
party is seeking a High Court order barring MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai
from speaking or conducting business on behalf of the party.
The application for the order, which comes hard on the heels of an attempted
suspension of Tsvangirai by the Welshman Ncube-led faction, is, according to
insiders, being cobbled up by lawyers in Bulawayo, where the MDC secretariat
relocated after the October 12 fallout over participation in last Saturday's
In the meantime, both camps are expected to attend separate national council
and executive committee meetings on Saturday, where the split would be
It emerged yesterday that Tsvangirai, who has refused to recognise his
purported suspension by party vice-president Gibson Sibanda, who heads the
party's disciplinary committee, has written to the pro-senate faction to
return the party's financial books, vehicles and other assets running into
billions of dollars.
The sources said the assets, which include Harvest House and regional and
provincial party offices purchased by the party after nearly upsetting ZANU
PF in the historic June 2000 general elections, was likely to ignite an
expensive and lengthy legal battle played out in the courts as both camps
lay claim to the party and its assets.
While Tsvangirai is understood to be ecstatic at the drubbing the pro-senate
faction received in the weekend polls in which it only managed seven seats
out of the 26 candidates it fielded, Ncube's camp has laid blame for its
dismal performance squarely on the MDC leader's door. The MDC boss, who
since the senate elections were mooted last year, has branded the
reintroduction of the upper house "a ZANU PF project", vigorously campaigned
against the elections. William Bango, Tsvangirai's spokesman, yesterday said
resorting to the courts would not heal the rift in the MDC, precipitated by
the October 12 fallout over the senate.
"Political parties by their nature are voluntary organisations," said Bango.
"A courtjudge can't determine who should be leader of a political party
elected at a congress. It's for the people who elected him at congress to
decide. The process of who decides the leadership of the MDC is already at
an advanced stage. The congress process has moved so far and by the end of
December, the political provinces of the party will complete the process.
These are the people that will decide, not the courts," he added.
Bango said the legal court process was designed to stall the preparations
for the congress presently underway. "It's a premature process designed to
stall the congress."
Insiders within the MDC said Tsvangirai had directly called for the national
executive meeting while party chairman, Isaac Matongo, convened the national
council meeting set for Saturday. Both meetings would look at what has
happened since the last national council meeting on November 5 where an
order was given to "dissidents" to withdraw their candidature for the
fateful senate elections, an order which the pro-senate camp willfully
A mediation committee, chaired by Matongo and set up at the national council
meeting to try to heal the wounds within the party, would be asked to
present its report on the failed reconciliation overtures. Another committee
charged with organising the MDC congress tentatively set for February is
expected to present a report on how far it has gone in preparing for the
much-awaited congress where fireworks are widely expected. It will also
announce on Saturday the dates for various provincial congresses to elect
officers to attend the crucial indaba.
Bango said: "The Saturday meetings will generally look at the state of the
party and the confusion that has been created by the purported suspension of
Tsvangirai, and any other business."
Felix Njini Chief Business Reporter
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe this week used his widely criticised constitutional
powers to pluck Sithembiso Nyoni - who has lost two elections this year
alone - from the political wilderness when he appointed her a
non-constituency Member of Parliament and drafted her into cabinet.
Nyoni, a perennial loser who last won an election in 1995, but although she
had earlier won a 1994 by-election in the Makokoba constituency in Bulawayo
following the death of Sidney Malunga, replaced Edna Madzongwe as a
non-constituency MP and was immediately re-appointed Minister of State for
Small to Medium Enterprises. Madzongwe has been elevated to president of the
Nyoni lost in the Parliamentary elections of 2000 and 2005. She once again
lost in last Saturday's senatorial elections.
The minister, who had to be demoted earlier this year upon the expiry of a
constitutional dispensation allowing President Mugabe to appoint non-MPs as
ministers, has bounced back into cabinet, courtesy of another presidential
masterstroke. In the meantime, Nyoni had been designated a government
Her appointment into cabinet in April raised an outcry from constitututional
experts and civil society groups.
President Mugabe also recalled former industry minister Samuel Mumbengegwi
to head the indigenisation and empowerment ministry. Mumbengegwi, had a
stormy relationship with business executives who accused the abrasive
minister of precipitating industry's collapse due to his combative approach.
President Mugabe also drafted six party loyalists who represent "special
interests" into the Upper House. Kantibhai Patel, Sheila Mahere, Peter
Haritatos, Aguy Clement Georgias, Tazvitya Mapfumo and Joshua Malinga this
week came in as non-constituency senators.
In all, President Mugabe has 28 appointees in both Houses of Parliament,
almost 14 percent of the total number of legislators.
DAIRY farmers contracted to leading food and beverage manufacturer Nestle
Zimbabwe are to receive more than $20 billion in support funds, sourced from
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Agricultural Sector Productivity Enhancement
Disbursement of the money has started, with more than half already taken up
by active milk producers.
Nestle financial director Farai Munetsi said the funding had been made
available by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe through ReNaissance Merchant Bank,
which earlier this year set up a special unit within its corporate banking
department to deal specifically with lending and with extension services to
the agricultural sector.
The funds are being loaned to farmers at a concessionary interest rate of 20
percent, aimed at stimulating much-needed milk production.
A payback period of between 180 days for working capital and 36 months for
capital expenditure is offered to recipients.
Nestle Zimbabwe has guaranteed to take delivery of all the milk produced by
funding beneficiaries and is the agent through which repayments are made to
ReNaissance Merchant Bank.
"This is a highly valuable facility that will greatly assist in national
efforts to revitalise the dairy industry and ensure a flow of downstream
products to domestic consumers and for important export orders," said
The Dairy Support Facility within the overall agricultural facility has more
than $20 billion available to approved milk producers. To date just over $10
billion has been disbursed to a total of seven farmers in the Goromonzi,
Hwedza and Harare South areas, with half of this being used for acquisition
of milking machinery and the remainder for purchase of heifers and for
inputs such as stock feed.
Nestle Zimbabwe has 17 dairy producers under contract and earlier this year
created a new department within the company to provide essential extension
and assistance services.
The department assists not only milk producers but also other farmers
providing agricultural products for Nestle operations, including vegetable
Within the framework of the Dairy Support facility, Nestle's agricultural
services department is working in close liaison with ReNaissance Merchant
Bank's agronomist to monitor dairy farmers' projects and ensure that funds
disbursed are used for the intended purpose of enhancing milk production.
"As is well-known, milk is an extremely important input for our operations
and it is essential for us to encourage and support production on the farm
and allow us in turn to maximise our production capacity," said Munetsi.
"If we do not receive local milk we have to look at imports from New
Zealand, for which foreign currency is not available and which would be much
more expensive at any rate. The answer is to stimulate local production
capacity and capability."
Nestle supports a range of organisations involved in the dairy industry,
working with the Dairy Services Association, the National Association of
Dairy Farmers and the Zimbabwe Dairy Industry Trust Fund, the latter
incorporating all stakeholders within its framework.
A full briefing on efforts to increase and encourage milk production was
given this week to a visiting Nestle executive, Yves Manghardt, who is the
chairman and managing director of Nestle Southern and Eastern Africa and the
Indian Ocean Islands.
He described Nestle Zimbabwe's involvement in the project as "crucial for
the well-being of the organisation and for the continued provision of
top-quality Nestle products in the local market and for essential and
valuable exports in to the region."
ReNaissance Merchant Bank's managing director, Belmont Ndebele, said his
bank was committed to supporting the revival of the dairy industry.
This month, Nestle Zimbabwe will host its annual Dairy Producer of the Year
awards event, in which the leading producer and the most improved producer
will be recognised and rewarded.
ZIMBABWE and its northern neighbour, Zambia, have renewed efforts to
commence work on the Batoka gorge hydro-electrical project, as the 2007
regional power deficit looms larger.
Feasibity studies, designs, environmental and social impact assessments for
the project, which will be overseen by the Zambezi River Authority-which is
jointly owned by the two countries- have been completed and now await the
approval of the two governments, according to a statement released by ZRA.
The initial phase of the project has been conducted through grant funds from
the African Development Bank (ADB). The project is located on the Zambezi
river approximately 54 kilometres downstream of the Victoria Falls across
the boundary between Zambia and Zimbabwe.
The Batoka project was first proposed in 1972 following a study instituted
by ZRA's predecessor institution, the Central African Power Corporation. The
aim of the study was to identify possible power sources, which the
intergovernmental institution could develop to meet the power demands of
Zambia and Zimbabwe.
If approved and the requisite funding secured, the project will comprise two
underground power stations, on the north and one south banks of the Zambezi,
each with installed capacity of 800 megawatts. This would make an additional
1600MW of electricity available to the two countries.
Nelson Banya News Editor
Paper margins firm while newspapers face extinction
AMALGAMATED Regional Trading (ART) Corporation has rebounded to
profitability in the year to September 2005, mainly on the back of
aggressive pricing in its paper manufacturing division, which enjoys a
virtual monopolistic status.
The group has, over the past year, increased its newsprint prices by 641
percent, from $6.23 million per tonne at the onset of the just ended
financial year, to $46.12 million per tonne at the close. To date, newsprint
costs have gone up by 1055 percent, leaving the publishing industry, mainly
newspaper houses, in a tailspin.
The newspaper industry has had to effect regular cover price increases to
keep up with frequent increases in the price of newsprint and other
ART, which was spun off former regional conglomerate TZI Limited in 2002,
reported a 1012 percent increase in net profit.
Gross profit margins improved to 48 percent, up from 30 percent in 2004, a
year ART executives and shareholders alike would like to forget in a hurry.
In typical fashion, the paper manufacturing division, made up of Mutare
Board and Paper and Kadoma Paper Mills, contributed the bulk of the
turnover. Of the $851 billion, the paper division weighed in with $455
billion (53 percent), while the other two divisions - the converting and
stationery as well as the retail and battery manufacturing unit -
contributed the remainder.
Margins in the paper division improved from 7 percent in 2004 to 14 percent
in the just ended year, with management revealing that volumes, which grew
18 percent, were driven by product diversification and the recapture of the
local market from imported competition.
The cost of imports has gone up sharply in tandem with the weakening
"Newsprint demand remained strong on both the local market and the regional
markets with a 2 percent volume growth being recorded over last year," ART
chief executive Richard Zirobwa announced
Felix Njini Chief Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE could prove to be the biggest drag on progress in the creation of a
single economic zone for the Southern African region modelled along the
European Union (EU) economic bloc with a single monetary policy regulator,
one customs union and a single currency.
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) has proposed 2008 as the
timeline for a free trade zone, one customs union by 2010 and a regional
common market by 2015.
Zimbabwe, which has suffered a 40 percent economic decline since 2000 and
has serious governance problem poses a real challenge to the region's plans
to harmonise the economy.
The single customs union would create uniform import and export tariffs in
the regional bloc. Among some of the proposals are that the rand be used as
the regional currency in line with other economic reforms.
SADC is also pressing for the scrapping of exchange controls to encourage
Regional leaders are battling the clock to achieve a set target of a single
digit average inflation in the region by 2015.
Economists project regional inflation, which stands at 17 percent, to
average 23 percent in 2005.
Problems might arise from lack of convergence with especially the Zimbabwean
economy, which has been in recession since 2000.
Zimbabwe is grappling with a myriad of serious food, fuel, electricity and
foreign currency shortages.
The country's inflation has shot up to 411 percent and could top 1 000
percent in 2006 should Harare's balance of payment (BOP) position remains
Mshiyeni Belle, South Africa Reserve bank (SARB)'s head of international
relations, said the lack of economic stability in some countries could drag
the regional plans.
"How long will it take for Zimbabwe to come to convergence with the rest of
the region? Inflation in Zimbabwe compared to other countries in the region
is very high and that has to be addressed by Zimbabwe itself," said Belle.
It is also likely that countries not using the rand as their national
currency could be compelled to switch to that currency.
Currently Namibia, Lesotho, Swaziland and South Africa use the rand as their
"The rand is fairly recognised and tradable on the international markets and
there are benefits for other countries that join the rand club," Belle said.
But this might result in countries losing sovereignty on monetary issues,
SADC legal experts would also be pushing for strict and legally binding
regulations to enforce governance issues and economic targets.
"It is also prudent to come up with sanctions or make it legally binding or
deny certain privileges to non-performers," Belle said.
Letter From America by Ken Mufuka
THIS week I was asked to make a presentation on Zimbabwe to a mixed group.
The question was how long the old man, President Robert Mugabe (82) can
I will here give you the American view.
Americans believe that every country is great or small according to how much
its economy can provide for its people. The US State Department, therefore,
has done lots of research on the vulnerability of the Zimbabwe economy and
found certain areas that make up Zimbabwe's feet of clay.
Since the year 2000, US tobacco businessmen, Reynolds, Brown and other
associates have attacked Zimbabwe tobacco sales on two fronts. First, they
say that the quality of their tobacco is below that of Malawi and Mozambique
and secondly, that the amount of their tobacco has declined to below one
third of what it was. This, of course, is associated with the departure of
European tobacco farmers. With this attack, they have reduced Zimbabwe's
foreign intake from U$600 million to below U$200 million this year.
Similarly, the US State Department has issued three warnings in two years,
scaring American visitors from touring Zimbabwe, thus reducing the revenue
inflows there from U$750 million to U$150 million (1999-2004).
The US State Department assumes that the real Achilles heel is the petrol
crunch. This Achilles heel works in tandem with the value of the Zim dollar.
I mentioned last week that there are some informants who have sworn to me
that the parallel market is being fuelled by British and American
intelligence agencies. Whether true or not, the reality on the ground is
that huge amounts of diaspora money never go through the Zimbabwe central
bank. The nature of the parallel market is difficult for the reserve bank to
manipulate. The resulting inflation it generates at home sees the dollar
value of a fuel tank rising from Z$1 million the first week of November to
Z$3 million in only one week. The danger is that wise men do not want to
keep Zimbabwean money for any length of time and businesses can collapse
within a week if caught with outdated cash flows in their treasuries. So,
the Americans argue that without fuel, and bus fares going yo-yo, the old
man cannot survive for any length of time. My information was that six
months was a suggested length of shelf stay.
That is the American view. The British view is rather different. With long
colonial experience, the British hoped that when the economy reaches such
low levels of sustainability, something unhappy will happen and the old man
will find himself in an unsustainable position. However, this theory is
called the Imperial Staff College proposition. Between 1960 and 1980 former
colonies allowed their military staff to be trained at the Imperial Military
College in Britain. Dr Kwame Nkrumah, in his book, Dark Days in Ghana,
realised that such a situation allowed imperialists to infiltrate the
military ranks. All the old boys who precipitated coups in former British
West Africa had contacts with Sandhurst or the Imperial Staff College.
President Mugabe has learned this lesson and is surrounded by
Chinese-trained intelligence agents. A document leaked from some British
intelligence says that they found President Mugabe's intelligence
impenetrable. Therefore, other methods must be used.
In this regard, the British follow the Americans. It has been assumed that
this "little matter" would be settled in no time at all, but it has dragged
for over five years now. Unfortunately, the Americans are ignorant of the
African psyche. Nevertheless, they are now following a scorched earth
As long as President Mugabe holds sway in Zimbabwe, there will be no revival
of the monetary value of the Zim dollar. This effectively kills the wealth
and pensions of any Zimbabwean who keeps his money in his country. The
governor of the World Bank, Mr C Wolfowitz, a Bush neo-conservative
strongman, has sworn to teach Zimbabwe a lesson so that no other African
country will dare follow its example.
Meanwhile Zimbabwe itself is atavistically returning to its natural kind.
Half the traffic lights don't work. Just outside police headquarters on
MUGABE Way in Harare is a large three-foot square pothole. The police
commissioners dodge and by-pass it as if it is a lawful traffic sign. I saw
a young girl with six German soap bars stopped by police for hoarding. She
was lucky she was not locked up, but she did not take the bars of soap home.
I am uncertain if the soap was kept at Police Headquarters as evidence.
Similarly, in Victoria Falls three young men ran away from a police search
unit, leaving their wheel-barrow full of tomatoes. The police loaded them
into their truck, presumably to be produced at a court date. As people no
longer distinguish what is right from wrong, the Nigerianisation of the
economy is complete with its non-operative ethical standards. If
Nigerianisation takes place, what was formally considered wrong becomes the
norm and the possibility of a revolt further slips away.
TO all those Zimbabweans who want to see democracy, political tolerance and
economic growth restored in this country, current developments in the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are particularly painful.
Painful in the sense that here are people we thought were dedicated and
deeply committed to bringing about democratic change in Zimbabwe making
complete asses of themselves over an insignificant matter of whether to
participate or not to participate in the just-ended Senate elections.
Gibson Sibanda, Welshman Ncube, Gift Chimanikire and Paul Themba-Nyathi have
completely taken themselves out of the political game. I do not know what
political party they are going to join or form but clearly, the MDC is no
longer their natural home.
With hindsight, one wonders whether these individuals ever possessed the
commitment to take on ZANU PF head-on, the kind of commitment that is being
shown by the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. To go to the extent of
'suspending' the MDC leader is incredibly naÔve, irresponsible and
disgraceful on the part of these former MDC top officials. If they were so
confident of their position, why not wait for the party congress which is
only two months away for the resolution of such an important matter.
However, the point worth emphasising here is that by signing a letter
purporting to suspend Tsvangirai, Sibanda was merely indulging in a futile
and idle exercise.
The mass apathy and indifference that has been shown by the Zimbabwean
electorate throughout the country including Bulawayo where the MDC rebels
'won' speaks volumes of which side the people are on. Their message is loud
and clear. They are with Tsvangirai. Clearly, the people of Zimbabwe
considered the Senate as a non-essential issue to the larger issues of
economic growth and development.
The MDC candidates who were elected Senators in the five constituencies of
Bulawayo received no more than 4 000 votes each and in some instances barely
2 000 in a city of about 500 000 voters. How on earth, on the basis of these
paltry votes, can these bogus MDC Senators claim to represent the people of
Bulawayo - a city which is known to have evinced tremendous interest in past
Tsvangirai should be undeterred by the departure of these blundering former
officials of the MDC who clearly have developed cold feet regarding the
fight for democracy and freedom in this country. Far from the MDC leader
bringing the party into disrepute, it is this gang of four who are intent on
destroying the MDC.
In truth, Tsvangirai should be heartened by the fact that the overwhelming
majority of Zimbabweans are deeply committed to the MDC project, that of
steering the country from dictatorship to democracy, however tough the
battle ahead. Indeed, the defection of this group, though painful, should be
viewed with great relief by the genuine MDC leadership and its rank and
Zimbabweans are entitled to ask these four collaborators and their
hangers-on: Can you please explain the fact that all of a sudden you are
being feted by the government-owned media, which only yesterday viewed you
as enemy Number One? Come on Paul Themba Nyathi, how do you justify this?
You know Paul just as everybody else that the ruling party and its
government gazettes - The Herald and The Sunday Mail - as well as the ZBC
are leaving no stone unturned in making sure that the MDC becomes
directionless and impotent. And you, you are becoming willing tools in this
grand plan. Shame on you Gibson, Welshman, Gift and Paul!
ZANU PF and its mouthpieces are angry with Tsvangirai precisely because they
know he is serious about change and not just engaged in rhetoric like you.
The attacks that you four and the ruling ZANU PF party are making on
Tsvangirai through the ZBC and Zimpapers are without parallel in recent
weeks. Because of this, I am beginning to believe most profoundly that
Sibanda and his fellow rebels now constitute a new ZANU PF party into which
the old ruling ZANU PF are decanting money and support in order to prevent
Tsvangirai from carrying on the struggle.
Indeed if there is one overwhelming reason why the upcoming MDC Congress
should support Tsvangirai, it is because the ruling party and its media do
not want him. Just as President Robert Mugabe was so misrepresented by
yesteryear's Rhodesian press, so it is today that Tsvangirai is being so
misrepresented by Zimbabwe's dominant government media. Yes, the tables have
now turned, the only difference being that it is now black on black. Whoever
said history repeats itself knew what they were talking about.
It is painfully obvious and evident that opportunistic infections have
invaded the MDC body politic in the form of this gang of four and their
cronies. History will judge them very harshly. Essentially, we are dealing
with people who have been bought, period! This is the brutal truth and the
sooner we grasp this simple truth the better for all of us. We can see the
woods that contain more than men and animals.
But after everything that has happened in the past few weeks, there can be
no question that Tsvangirai's position has been greatly strengthened simply
because the position of his rivals has been irreparably weakened.
The voter apathy throughout the country has demonstrated beyond doubt that
the MDC is a national not a tribal organisation.
On the surface, there appears to be some divisions within the MDC coinciding
with ethnic division but the real truth is that the massive indifference of
the voters in Bulawayo and elsewhere has reflected the cohesiveness of the
MDC and that given an adequate opportunity, the voice of the electorate was
heard loud and clear. At its forthcoming congress therefore, Tsvangirai must
continue to follow in the footsteps of the early nationalist movements which
paid no attention to tribal origin in drawing up their executives except to
achieve the widest geographical spread.
By way of conclusion, I would like to re-emphasise the fact that although
the MDC appears to be going through a period of transition, trials and
tribulation, the real issue here is about the need for change. The cracks
within the opposition party are a hopeful sign in that Tsvangirai should now
know who are with him and who are not. The truth is that politics is a harsh
and often unpleasant business in which niceness carries you only so far. A
leader has to be sufficiently ruthless at times.
My hope and prayer is that the antics of the gang of four and their tiny
faction of supporters will enable the entire MDC membership to reflect on
the persona of some of the MDC top officials. What Sibanda and Company have
done says a lot about their maturity, capabilities, courage and
determination to carry on the struggle. The old generation of the ruling
ZANU PF will be the first to admit that a lot of their erstwhile comrades
fell by the wayside during the independence struggle because they developed
cold feet or lacked timing. It was no different from a moving train. Some
never got onto the train, others got off but the train nevertheless
continued moving until its final
destination. So it will be with MDC. Like some Zanu PF stalwarts before
them, those MDC officials not made of sterner stuff are now dissolving like
Neither the ruling Zanu PF party nor the former MDC gang of four can rescue
any shred of consolation from the wreckage of the Senate project. In times
of adversity, the strength of a party's character must rise above uninformed
criticisms. The vast majority of Zimbabweans will be grateful that it is at
this time not in the distant future that Sibanda, Ncube, Chimanikire and
Nyathi and others of like-mind have decided to defect to their own version
By Bornwell Chakaodza
Former Editor of The Standard
Personal Glimpses with Mavis Makuni
ON seeing the banner headline: "ZANU PF IN LANDSLIDE VICTORY" on the front
page of a government newspaper on Monday, a cynical Zimbabwean remarked:
"What else could the ruling party do except slide to victory on an uneven
electoral playing field on which it was competing against itself!"
The outcome of the senatorial elections was never in doubt. It would indeed
have been most unusual for the ruling party to lose in this one-horse race
after millions heeded Movement for Democratic Change leader, Morgan
Tsvangirai's call to boycott the polls. The boycott was so effective that in
most areas, television news crews were hard-pressed to come up with footage
of a single queue of people waiting to vote. Newsnet reporter Judith
Makwanya claimed uncharacteristically in one of her reports that her crew
had been barred from taking pictures in Harare although it was registered
with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. Knowing the government's appetite
for melodramatic publicity and exaggeration and the state media's
over-eagerness to oblige with the same, I immediately smelt a rat.
The ruling party can always be counted on to stretch the credibility gap to
the limit and it outdid even itself this time, because when it came to the
announcing of election results, abracadabra, Zimbabweans had apparently
turned out in their invisible hundreds of thousands to vote for ruling party
candidates. Like me, millions of people across the country must have sat in
front of their television sets fighting incredulity as straight-faced ZEC
officials announced results showing candidates to have garnered hundreds of
thousands of votes from thin air.
That winning elections at any cost is the ruling party's goal is well known
and these senatorial polls were no different as amply proved by the contempt
shown for the voters by ruling party officials at various stages of
campaigning. Only a party that knows that it will win no matter how the
electorate votes can afford to adopt irrelevant themes such as "vote to
defeat Blair" when the people expect it to say how it will tackle the
numerous problems impacting negatively on their lives such as corruption,
inflation, unemployment and a general collapse of public institutions.
A day before the polls, the ZANU PF spokesman for elections, Webster Shamu
gave the clearest confirmation that as far as the ruling elites were
concerned, elections had nothing to do with such mundane concepts as
democracy or a voter's right to choose who to vote for freely. The purpose
of the senatorial polls, he was quoted as saying, was for Zimbabweans to
further "confirm the leadership of his excellency President R.G. Mugabe in a
free and fair election." He said as the ruling party had already won 19
seats unopposed it was therefore logical for all fair-minded and patriotic
Zimbabweans to vote for the winning team for the remaining seats.
Shamu's message, which was published in the November 25 issue of a
state-controlled newspaper, leaves no one in any doubt whatsoever that the
ruling party considers participating in the electoral process an act of
altruism on the part of Zimbabweans to ensure that those in power continue
enjoying their lavish lifestyles. Before it even materialised, Shamu made
the wild claim that a landslide victory in the senatorial elections would
further consolidate the implementation of government programmes at both
local and national levels. Never mind that all along we thought that
particular aspect was his brief as Minister of Policy Planning and
Implementation. Now that ZANU PF has succeeded in tying another millstone
around the nation's neck in the form of the unnecessary and costly senate,
perhaps Shamu should tell the public what now. How will this new burden ease
the plight of ordinary people struggling to keep body and soul together?
To be fair, advancing convoluted arguments was not limited to Shamu on the
eve of the weird senatorial elections, which despite being touted by some as
a way to enhance democracy, actually served as a metaphor for intolerance
and intransigence. The rhetorical floodgates opened on other fronts
following the addition to the United States targeted sanctions list of the
wives and offspring of officials linked to the Harare regime. The US was
blasted for imposing sanctions against those working for democracy while
letting those stifling it off the hook.
Now, these sanctions can be all things to all men depending on what kind of
wool the speaker wishes to pull over the public's eyes at any juncture. When
the European Union first announced the names of targeted individuals on its
list, the news was received with derision and scoffing and the sanctions
were described as a non-event that would not affect Zimbabwe's determination
to defend its sovereignty.
But when it has been politically expedient, such as has been the case lately
when things within the country have continued to fall apart in practically
all departments and the buck needed to be passed, there has been a change of
tack, with those accused of "imposing illegal sanctions" against Zimbabwe
being subjected to vicious tongue-lashings. What is not explained in these
explosions of righteous indignation is that the travel restrictions imposed
on individuals are not the cause of the pervasive problems within the
The targeted sanctions are a sore point for those affected despite macho
denials such as the one made by Information Minister Tichaona Jokonya at the
weekend. Asked to comment on the latest development, he gushed: "This list
is completely immaterial . . . Who said we want to go to America? I don't
know who said we want to go to America when we have our small but beautiful
Zimbabwe." If the minister and his colleagues were truly unconcerned about
these restrictions imposed on them, as individuals there would be no need
for them to vent their anger by attacking fellow Zimbabweans they accuse of
lobbying for the same sanctions.
But then again, as the phantom voters who swelled the turnout figures in the
senatorial elections have shown, nothing is impossible when the ruling party
is determined to impose its will and its version of the truth on the local
people and the world at large.
THE outrageously expensive but unnecessary senatorial elections have come
and gone. And no tremor has been caused by the non-event. In fact, as widely
predicted, the polls for the self-serving Senate were marred by
unprecedented voter apathy. The figures of the votes cast released together
with the results of the polls make for some pretty dismal reading.
That is, however, beside the point. The apathy was always expected given a
number of factors. First, in the court of public opinion, the establishment
of the Senate is not the most pressing issue in the face of stagnation and
misery resulting from the worst economic meltdown ever, which has spawned
stagflation - rising inflation, falling industrial production and
employment. To the people who wear the shoe and therefore know how and where
it pinches, that Zimbabwe has been transformed into a land of contagion,
shunned by international investors, is the issue that should attract
Apart from the national disintegration, it is also an inescapable fact that
with Zimbabweans disillusioned to the point of hopelessness, the shaken
public confidence in the country's discredited electoral process has finally
run into a wall of negative voter sentiment. The electorate knew that the
upshot of the useless senatorial election was that there would be no
positive material change to the country's political culture nor would it
change for the better, the lives of the long-suffering people, the majority
of whom are now living below the bread line.
It is pertinent to point out that the apathy also underlined the fact that
the ZANU PF government, known for treating people like children - only to be
seen and never to be heard - ought to have run the idea of a Senate up the
flagpole by way of a referendum to see what the people would say before
throwing close to $100 billion into a bottomless pit.
While this is now water under the bridge, it remains a fact that
Zimbabweans, who have had not only to know but also endure underperforming
politicians, will now witness the return of those politicians known to have
begun their careers with hypocrisy and proceeded with arrogance, contempt
and ineptitude. The fiscus will now be stretched by some of the most
incapable politicians that ever warmed Parliamentary benches or filled
ministerial chairs in President Robert Mugabe's government. Some of these
former ministers are the kind of men who, if they did not exist, could only
be imagined. Samuel Mumbengegwi, who represents ZANU PF in the Chivi-Mwenezi
Senatorial constituency, springs to mind. We remember him as one of those
who literally numbed an entire nation.
Of course ZANU PF whose aim, politically speaking, is to lose as little as
possible despite the consequences, has been selling the idea that the
reintroduction of the Upper House would improve the country's law-making
process. The ruling party is trying to make Zimbabweans believe that the
re-introduction of the bicameral Parliament will not only further Zimbabwe's
democratisation process but will also mark a decisive rupture with tradition
where ZANU PF has always exploited to the hilt, its numerical advantage to
push through its parochial agendas and ensure its continued stay in power.
Well, blessed are the believers! We know better though. The interdependence
of the ruling clique in ZANU PF has spawned an unwritten rule - solidarity
in the name of political survival. And this is what will carry the day even
if it means doing so at the expense of the interests of the people. This is
especially moreso among the party's old guard, where age has not always
brought wisdom but has sometimes come alone!
We do not foresee any of those jokes in the Senate taking a critical stand,
say for example, against the executive, even if the executive does not
demand flattery. The line-up does not inspire confidence at all. We are
hard-pressed to believe that they will be able to scrutinise contentious
legal matters for the greater good as well as ensure the accountability of
executive power to legislative power, among other issues. Ideally, the
Senate would be a wonderful bully pulpit to convince Parliamentarians to
come up with progressive laws. But can anyone imagine ZANU PF's most eminent
mediocrities such as Vivian Mwashita, Forbes Magadu, Charles Tawengwa,
Sabina Thembani, Florence Chitauro, Rati Gava, Richard Hove, Tambudzai
Mohadi or Tracy Mutinhiri, taking the bull by the horns? Hardly because
their main concern is to be the surviving bugs in the manure pile that is
now Zimbabwean politics.
It should not be forgotten that some of these Senators have been Members of
And for the five years or so that they served in the august House they, for
fear of ruffling political feathers, never went beyond thanking the
President for the State Of The Nation Address despite the sea of poverty in
which Zimbabwe is immersed. They steered clear of meaningful debate on the
socio-economic and political problems, blame for which should be placed
squarely on the shoulders of ZANU PF, because of their cowardice-induced
belief that a ship in the harbour is safe. But as we have said before, that
is not what ships are built for.
This begs the question: What guarantee is there that this time around they
will behave as a leadership that knows and shows the way so that they can be
seen as Parliament's conscience and voice of reason?
Are Zimbabweans really better off now?
EDITOR - I beg to differ with Elias Matinde who wrote from Japan that
Zimbabweans are better off now than they were before independence. He is
repeating what Ian Smith said without considering that the economy is now in
the hands of Zimbabweans.
My argument may sound very strange but the truth is, notwithstanding the
fact that the Zimbabwean economy has been grossly mismanaged, we are not
supposed to be in such a mess.
What on earth is happening in Zimbabwe when an average family cannot afford
three decent meals a day? Why has our health system collapsed then if we are
How much is an average teacher being paid a month and can you match this
against the bills for that month and come up with a satisfactory outcome?
How much is a nurse getting against their monthly spending?
It is an absolute nightmare for one to justify such anomalies.
Noone has ever said that Zimbabwe has to be a colony again but what we want
is to look at how we have done since independence. The answer is that we
have failed dismally.
If Mr Matinde is being honest with himself, then what is he looking for in
Japan? He should have stayed in Zimbabwe and convinced us that you can
survive and get the normal things an average family needs under normal
circumstances, otherwise the man is day-dreaming.
Our parastatals have been mismanaged almost beyond redemption and Mr Matinde
wants to sit back and call this a better life for Zimbabweans?
It's an utter shame.
We are the worse for wear
EDITOR - I refer to the letter by Matinde Elias (Fingaz, November 24). It
appears to me Matinde is quite intent on giving your readers the impression
that Zimbabweans are far much better than they were in 1977. That could be
true for a few members of the ruling elite and not for the majority of our
We are now much worse off than we were - economically, politically, socially
and spiritually. Some of us cannot even afford to go to church every Sunday
because of the high transport costs. Perhaps Matinde needs to be reminded
that we should not compare the wages of yesteryear with the current ones as
that will certainly lead us to an insular-analysis.
Despite the ills brought about by the former Rhodesian Prime Minister, Ian
Smith, our fundamental need is to take a critical analysis of our economy
under ZANU PF and place it in juxtaposition with contemporary African
economies. And only then can we prescribe correctly. A good economy is the
best index for judging whether one has a good life or not.
The cricket circus
EDITOR - Please allow me to express my opinion on the problems bedevilling
Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC). First and foremost, I think journalists have been
misled into reporting that the problems rocking the once popular sport are a
creation of managing director Ozius Bvute and chairman Peter Chingoka. Bvute
is responsible for administration and he is not alone in this - he has a
team of able and professional people whose input into the game is above
reproach. And as for Chingoka, he only chairs the board and does not direct
the operations at ZC.
But recent reports and subsequent threats of a player mutiny by ZC players
over what they termed "gross mismanagament by Bvute and Chingoka" have,
sadly, exposed inept and shoddy journalism in some newspapers that call
themselves doyens of journalism in this country.
I find it very strange that a team captain like Tatenda Taibu would lead
other players and some disgruntled provincial officials in calling for the
ouster of Bvute and Chingoka. If anything, this smacks of gangsterism antics
aimed at causing mayhem in the sport, which Taibu and company purport to
Bvute and Chingoka have been absolved by the actions of the players and some
of the disgruntled provincial officials. If the board of ZC comprises of 12
people, why direct the venom at only two members - Bvute and Chingoka?
Any decisions taken by the board are binding and are indicative of the
collective efforts that are put by everyone on the board in determining the
future of the sport. And Taibu's demands for a $5.2 billion net salary per
annum, in this economy?
What cheek and arrogance
EDITOR - I felt a combined surge of shock, horror and dismay on seeing and
hearing the Air Zimbabwe vice chairman telling SABC Africa that "there is no
crisis at Air Zimbabwe"!
Because I couldn't believe this, I opened my day's copy of The Herald which
was telling me of the resumption of flights and, sure enough, there it was,
tucked at the end the story: Jonathan Kadzura is telling us again that
things at the airline were "under control"!
From Saturday, people intending to travel had their plans thrown into
turmoil, some lost unquantifiable business . . . and someone has the cheek
and arrogance to tell us it's much ado about nothing. This, too, after our
great Financial Gazette featured advice just last week on crisis management.
One can only take so much without going bonkers
EDITOR - Most of your readers must have been pretty young when Zexie Manatsa
sang in the late seventies Vaparadzi Vawanda . . . Some of your readers who
are familiar with the lyrics of this song will no doubt remember the line
from the same song that says . . . Baba Tirotesei Kuhope, Takarara Tigoziva
Wo. (There you are Pastor Zexie . . . you could go back to the studio and do
a remix of this gem).
The political landscape in Zimbabwe is littered with clowns, jokers,
pretenders and charlatans . . . imagine being expected to pick a party from
this motley crowd and stay sane.
You have the penny-an-act Jonathan Moyo circus, the Biafra-now-or-ashes
Gibson Sibanda ensemble, My-way-or-hell Morgan Tsvangirai orchestra,
Heads-you-lose-tails-you-lose Robert Mugabe choir and then top this with
Silence-is-golden Wurayi Zembe one-man band.
Add to this coterie and cacophony, cheerleaders like one Caesar Zvayi (Is it
true that Julius Caesar and Nero shared DNA?), William Nhara, the
indefatigable say-so-little-with-so-many-words , the one-trick-pony Reuben
Barweeee ndega mbira crew, no-soap-can-clean-this-mouth Nathaniel Manheru.
Is it any wonder then, that most Zimbos are certifiably insane? One can only
take so much without losing the proverbial marbles.
Meantime 2006 promises to be an interesting year on the political scene in
Zimbabwe. Methinks this could be the defining year. Remember how fond
Zimbabwe is of even numbers . . . 1980 a new Zimbabwe was born; 2000 real
opposition reared its head; 2004 biggest medals haul at the true Olympics
(held in Athens weren't they?) 2006 . . . wait for it.
EDITOR - After the heat caused by the senate debate,it would seem that this
has given rise to the thorny issue of the so-called Ndebele state. This
issue is so sensitive that Zimbabweans should think before they speak.
Reckless talk should be avoided at all costs as this issue has the potential
of creating a Rwanda in Zimbabwe.
Before the likes of Paul Siwela can agitate for a Ndebele state, what they
should think of is whether the issue is feasible. This feasibility should be
looked at in the context of the population of Matabeleland as compared to
the rest of the country. The population of Matabeleland is not entirely made
up of Ndebeles only, but of other tribes that include Kalangas, and even the
Siwela and company may argue that they would want representation in top
government posts and that is understandable, but then the people of
Matabeleland should not forget that after independence they chose to be
defiant and in the process excluded themselves from the government. How did
they expect to be given ambassadorial posts when they were not in
Even after the 1987 Unity Accord, some of them, like Siwela, chose not to
join ZANU PF, which was fine as they were free to exercise their democratic
right through expressing their freedom of association.
However, because ZANU PF is the ruling party it only appoints people who
belong to that party to posts that include ambassadors. Even in the USA the
Republican Party does not appoint Democrats as ambassadors as long as they
are in power. So Mr Siwela's cries just go to show how power hungry our
politicians are. It shows that he is prepared to cross the floor to join
ZANU PF as long as he is promised personal rewards for a post as an
ambassador in Britain.
Is this not the same situation where we heard that Mr Tsvangirai was
clandestinely lobbying for the vice-presidency at a time when most of us
were so 'drunk' with the idea of booting ZANU PF out of power. What this
teaches us is that politics in Zimbabwe means creating personal wealth and
fiefdoms rather than representing people's aspirations. So while individuals
are free to support their political leaders, they should also be aware that
the most important thing is to look out for themselves and their families as
politicians do not care about them at all except when they need their votes.
Not that this thinking means we should boycott elections. No! Rather it
should make the people reclaim their powers and demand accountability from
politicians. They should have the courage to stand up and make their MPs
tell them what difference they made, how many companies they lured to their
constituencies and/or how many projects they started to improve the voters'
welfare. The problem in Zimbabwe is there is too much politics of blame
while politicians are busy lining their pockets.
Zimbabweans should learn to vote for people who are financially successful
as these people will not need to enrich themselves first before they get on
with the job at hand. The present scenario where a lodger is elected as an
MP is quite shocking. How can you expect the lodger to represent your
welfare when he is also concerned about his own welfare? You risk creating a
career MP who will never step down because, to him, being an MP is like a