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Mujuru confronted over early elections

Thursday, 02 December 2010 20:45

LOCAL business executives this week confronted Vice-President Joice Mujuru
(pictured) and bluntly told her they did not want early elections next year
as that would upset the current political and macro-economic stability while
disrupting economic recovery.

The businessmen told Mujuru on Wednesday in Harare they did not want early
polls at a lively business forum organised by Ernst & Young. The function
was attended by Minister of State in Mujuru’s office, Sylvester Nguni,
Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President & Cabinet, retired
colonel Christian Katsande, and leading business executives, including
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Joseph Kanyekanye and chief
executives of major companies.
While industry and commerce issues arose at the meeting, the subject of
elections loomed large.

Kanyekanye set the ball rolling on elections, telling Mujuru directly: “It
is not in the national interest, business interest to have elections next
year. What we need is to address our inability to engage. Let’s go back into
the Commonwealth, re-engage the West to find out what they perceive to be
our problem … As business we don’t want elections.”

Elisha Mushayakarara, ZB Financial Holdings chief executive, said
politicians must concentrate on delivering “food on people’s tables” and not
elections and name-calling.

“We seem to be concentrating so much on politics and elections, things like
‘uyu anotengesa” (this one is a sellout) and the like. I don’t think it’s
good for our country. Out there, 99,99% of the people expect leaders to
deliver food on their tables. And that is what we should be concentrating
on,” he said.

“We are supposed to deliver the goods to these people. Whether the elections
happen in 2011 or 2111, it’s neither here nor there. Let’s make sure we do
the correct things and make sure the economy ticks.”

In response, Mujuru said the talk of elections was in the context of the
Global Political Agreement (GPA) which says after two years and the
referendum on the new constitution political parties in the inclusive
government would have to deal with the issue of polls.

Mujuru said: “It’s not anything that is coming from anybody that we want
elections but we have this document (GPA). Why is it that there are
elections? It’s because of the (Government of National Unity) GNU. What does
the GPA say? After 24 months, what are we supposed to do? And I’m sure this
is what is being followed. And it’s us, it’s our country, everybody saying
prior to this period what was happening among us and what has the GNU
brought. This has brought growth that you are talking about and you are
saying we are yet to get to the level of normal and real growth.

“But if something comes (elections) again, whatever we have (that’s what you
are saying), whatever we are realising is going to disappear. That’s what
you are saying. Nothing stops you from saying to the president, from saying
to the presidium, the premiership, guys, ladies, this thing is like this.
The GNU is calling for that but we are not prepared for it, say it and say
it properly. What’s your fear? Fear is our worst enemy. We are killing
ourselves because we don’t talk. But in corridors we talk a lot.”

Mujuru signalled that if businessmen did not want elections and have a good
reason for it they must approach President Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai to discuss the issue.

Albert Nhau, group chief executive of Mike Appel Organisation Ltd, said
principals should be able to negotiate for elections to come later.

“You said the GNU was negotiated by political parties. My submission is that
why can’t the same political parties negotiate for the extension (of GPA) on
elections because everybody is saying elections are not conducive for a good
business environment,” he said.

Mugabe has been calling for elections despite stiff opposition from Zanu PF
and other parties.

Informed sources said Sadc facilitator in Zimbabwe, South Africa President
Jacob Zuma last Friday urged the GPA principals, Mugabe, Tsvangirai and
deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara, to first draw up a credible road map
before elections to ensure the outcome is not disputed again.

Zuma yesterday met with Sadc troika of the organ on politics, defence and
security chairman, Zambian President Rupiah Banda, in Pretoria where they
discussed the Zimbabwe situation. After the meeting Zuma called for the
lifting of sanctions on Zimbabwe, saying that would be “helpful”. Zuma said
Mugabe and other principals were looking forward to elections, but did not
give details.

Banda said the troika would meet again in January to discuss Zimbabwe.

Business on Wednesday insisted that early elections were not desirable.

Alpha Media Holdings chief executive Raphael Khumalo asked Mujuru what was
the point in the first place of having elections when Zanu PF says it would
not accept defeat?

Mujuru did not directly answer the question, but called for communication
and dialogue among Zimbabweans.

However, one business executive, Frederick Mutanda, who has interests in the
motor industry, pharmaceuticals, real estate and finance, had a different
opinion. He said elections must be held soon to ensure one leader is in
charge of government.

“We talk about elections. I think we have got two governments. The MDC is
doing this and Zanu PF is doing that. And that’s disgusting. Can the country
go on like this? I don’t think so,” he said.

“I think it is better to have one government; one government, one president
and one prime minister who can work with each other. It’s either we have one
government or no government at all. I think we need elections, the sooner
the better, so that we know who is in charge.”

Dumisani Muleya

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… as Jomic moves to summon service chiefs

Thursday, 02 December 2010 20:41

THE Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) will soon summon
service chiefs to deal with alleged selective application of the law as well
as the use of the police, army and CIO  by Zanu PF to intimidate and harass
its opponents.

Jomic chairperson Professor Welshman Ncube told the Zimbabwe Independent
yesterday that they have already met with co-Ministers of Home Affairs Kembo
Mohadi and Theresa Makone to push for non-selective application of the law
and to deal with alleged political violence by security forces against  Zanu
PF opponents.

He said his committee told Mohadi and Makone last week to ensure that the
security forces are non-partisan.

Under the Global Political Agreement (GPA), the three political parties in
the inclusive government agreed to build a society that is free of violence,
intimidation and hatred.

But President Robert Mugabe and his party have been accused of deploying the
military and state security agents to rural areas to harass and intimidate
villagers ahead of a possible mid 2011 poll.

“We met the co-Home Affairs ministers over security issues,” said Ncube. “We
are worried about the selective application of the law against members of
other parties that are not Zanu PF,” he said. “The ministers will tell us in
the near future when we meet the service chiefs to discuss political

We want these issues addressed as a matter of urgency because there are
widespread complaints of violence, mainly in rural areas.”

Jomic, he said, was also pressing for the security sector reform to ensure
the army, police and CIO are not biased towards Zanu PF.

Mugabe is reportedly now ruling the country through military structures. He
views military personnel as being loyal to him and this has been shown
through statements from top army and security chiefs, who have vowed not to
salute anyone without liberation war credentials.

Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba has openly said only a person with
revolutionary credentials could rule the country.

“Some people are saying that Mugabe should be removed from power but that
will never happen when we are here,” he reportedly said.

Police chief, Commissioner-General Augustine chihuri (pictured) told police
officers last Friday that  Zanu PF cannot hand over power through the pen.

Chihuri was quoted saying: “This country came through blood and the barrel
of the gun and it can never be re-colonised through a simple pen, which
costs as little as five cents.”

Brian Chitemba

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Constitutional data open to manipulation

Thursday, 02 December 2010 20:39

DATA collected during consultation meetings of the constitution-making
process is not adequately secured and is currently being stored at the
Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee (Copac) offices, exposing it to

According to documents to hand, movement and security of the data, which
includes signed hard copies of records of all outreach meetings held
countrywide, audio records of the meetings, audio-visual records, digital
cameras, compact video cameras and laptops used by rapporteurs in the field,
is a complete mess.

A report to the Copac human resources sub-committee by former Copac national
coordinator Peter Kunjeku, who received his dismissal letter on Tuesday
evening, showed that there was chaos surrounding the movement and storage of
the data collected during the outreach meetings.

According to the report dated October 29, no concrete plans had been put in
place to ensure the safe storage of the documents.

“I was concerned about security of data on several accounts. From what I saw
in terms of hand-over, most (if not all) was being done in the open-air in
the car park behind the main office building,” reads Kunjeku’s report. “Most
data and records were not sealed, a case in point being DVDs from
Mashonaland West which arrived in a shopping carrier bag, unsorted and

The report went on to say: “Some of the data was handed over accompanied by
insufficient personnel as per requirement… when as staff we recommended
Skynet be appointed courier, we were turned down, and we were told that data
from provinces would be accompanied by representatives of the political
parties in addition to the provincial coordinators.”

Preliminary indications had been that Copac’s bankers, MBCA, would take safe
custody of the documents. However, the bank reportedly cited space

In a memorandum dated October 20 to Copac co-chairpersons informing them of
his plans to move the data and store it at the National Archives of Zimbabwe
in the interim while the committee’s back offices were being converted into
a safe storage facility, Kunjeku said he approached two other banks, CBZ and
Standard Chartered Bank, the UNDP and parliament to take custody of the

CBZ bank had indicated that it could provide safe storage, but later said
due to their merger with Beverly Building Society and the subsequent
restructuring, they needed time to clear out and find space.

Standard Chartered Bank and UNDP turned their request down without giving
specific reasons, while parliament said it had space constraints. The
internal memo to the co-chairs was written the day before Kunjeku was
suspended by the select committee for tampering with the data by moving it
to the National Archives of Zimbabwe.

National Archives was chosen because it was a government department whose
function was purely storage of documents and there was no charge as it was
their statutory obligation to secure documents of national importance.

In a letter to the director of the national archives, Mr I Murambiwa,
Kunjeku said only the co-chairpersons would have authority to sign for
release of the documents and equipment in the event that the documents and
equipment would be required for uploading.

The data was taken to the National Archives in the morning of October 21 and
returned to Copac offices later that afternoon after the select committee
reversed that decision.

Kunjeku’s lawyers have since written to Copac co-chairpersons challenging
the reasons for their client’s dismissal.

Faith Zaba

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Essar’s Zisco takeover mired in controversy

Thursday, 02 December 2010 18:48

ESSAR Africa Holdings Ltd, a Mauritian-based subsidiary of Indian
steel-making giant Essar Group, won the tender to take over inoperative
local steel company Ziscosteel amid controversy involving greedy politicians
and smear campaigns.
Information obtained by the Zimbabwe Independent shows that Essar, which
apparently had its own political sympathisers, had to ward off serious
pressure from politicians backing several other bidders and smear campaigns
designed to influence the outcome of the process.

“It was a very controversial process,” one informed business executive said.
“The initial bidding did not produce an outright winner partly because of
political interference and preferences. There was also no winner because of
the failure by companies to commit themselves to taking over government’s
debt to KWV of Germany, Eximbank and Sinosure of China.

“Most of the big companies involved in the bidding process had political
heavyweights behind them. This made the whole process fraught with political
meddling and behind the scenes lobbying. In the end however Essar, after its
biggest competitor ArcelorMittal had dropped out due to several reasons
including political pressures, won because of its strong showing on nearly
all the important fundamental requirements.”

The bidding process which started last year was initially stalled but was
reopened recently after a directive to that effect by President Robert
Mugabe, according to information contained in official government documents
on the issue.

In response to Mugabe’s order, Minister of Industry and Trade Welshman Ncube
then set up a three-member committee to deal with the bidding process
against a background of continued haemorrhaging of Ziscosteel and decline of

The team was specifically tasked to conduct preliminary interviews to
establish the ability of the companies to deal effectively with the central
issue of the clearance of Ziscosteel’s US$240 million debt.

The companies were further required to satisfy the panel they had the
financial capacity and ability to work on capital projects which included
the resuscitation of the blast furnaces and coke oven batteries.

The committee was also expected to establish whether the potential bidders
had experience in steel production and a strategic plan to complete the
company’s restructuring process. It was also supposed to conduct a reverse
due diligence on the bidders with emphasis on business plans and cash flows
for investment in the rehabilitation of plant and equipment, expansion of
product lines, value-added activities and introduction of new technology.
Other issues to consider were proposals to take over the debt, how much
government was going to get from the transaction, forecast financial
performance of the company, history and experience of the bidder, assurances
to keep current employees and prospects of new jobs and safety, health and
environmental issues.
So Essar Africa won after beating the last three bidders on these

During the process 12 companies were interviewed after the bidding was
opened to the wider community through the press. These companies included
Jindal Steel, Sino Zimbabwe, Essar Africa, Sovereignty Capital,
ArcelorMittal, China Metallurgical Group Corporation, Arcadia Steel Energy
and Mining, Apollo Steel, Zimlantic Export & Import (Pvt) Ltd, Posco, AMC
Corporation and Murray & Roberts.

From the 12 listed companies, eventually only five purchased the bid
documents and out of that four (Jindal Steel, Sino Zimbabwe, Essar Africa,
Sovereignty Capital) were able to submit their bids within the prescribed
deadline. However, Sovereignty Capital’s bid was mainly on financial
advisory services.

Jindal Steel and ArcelorMittal were not subjected to a reverse due diligence
exercise because they had participated in the previous bid process. Posco
eventually declined to participate, citing difficulties in remitting fees
for the purchase of bid documents and tight deadlines.

The selection criteria outlined in the Bidder Evaluation Form included the
debt takeover plan, financial capacity, technical ability, how much
government was going to get for its shareholding and issues of safety,
health and environment.
The debt issue was critical because the whole point of selling Ziscosteel’s
majority shareholding was necessitated by government’s failure to pay its
On the debt issue, Sino Zimbabwe had simply offered to negotiate without
making a clear commitment to liquidate the debt. Jindal Steel had offered to
restructure the debt, while Essar committed itself to clearing the whole

Regarding financial capacity, Sino Zimbabwe did not provide audited accounts
as required, while Jindal provided that showing an average balance sheet
size of US$272 million. Essar’s accounts showed it had a balance sheet size
of US$3,4 billion.

The financial statements showed that Jindal and Essar had more or less the
same relative profitability ratios. Jindal had a higher (59%) gearing ratio
compared to Essar’s 23%. Given that the gearing ratio is generally a measure
of a company’s exposure to debt obligations, Essar as result demonstrated a
greater capacity to borrow or raise capital compared to Jindal.

On the technical side, Sino Zimbabwe was easily knocked out because it does
not have any experience in the steel industry, despite that it had China
Shougang as its technical partner. However, the trouble was that Sino
Zimbabwe did not produce any documentation showing it had a contract with
China Shougang to work together.

When the bids were further unpacked, Essar had an advantage over Jindal in
that it offered a short start-up production period compared to its
competitor. It would take Jindal two years to come into meaningful
production whereas Essar said it could do that in a year’s time.

More critically, Essar presented a comprehensive and detailed turnaround
programme with specific milestones compared to Jindal. Essar also beefed up
its strategic and turnaround plans with targets to generate electrical
power, construct a new bar and rod mill, as well as a new coke oven battery
to enhance production and viability of Ziscosteel.

Whereas Jindal were also able to indicate they had capacity to generate
power, they were not clear on the turnaround plan schedules and targets.
On value addition both Jindal and Essar produced plans to ensure that by
proposing to build ferro-alloys production plants, key components in
producing stainless steel which fetches a premium price of at least US$10
000 per tonne compared to long products’ average price of US$800 per tonne
and flat products that are US$2000 per tonne.

On payment for government’s shareholding both Jindal and Essar offered US$45
million, but the former did not provide a payment plan while the latter
offered to pay US$25 million on signature and US$20 million after 12 months.
On the strength of all these considerations Sino Zimbabwe scored 52%, Jindal
60% and Essar 81%.

In the end Essar was awarded the tender to buy 60% of government’s
shareholding in Ziscosteel, much to the chagrin of politicians backing
losing bidders.

Dumisani Muleya

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MDC-T clashes over national executive representative

Thursday, 02 December 2010 18:46

A FIERCE clash has erupted among MDC-T officials in Matabeleland North over
the election of the party’s provincial representative to the national
According to high level sources in the MDC-T, Matabeleland North secretary
for information and publicity Margs Varlley and provincial secretary Gift
Mabhena, who is also the Hwange West MP, are opposed to the elevation of
provincial executive member Esau Ncube.

Matabeleland North provincial chairperson Sengezo Tshabangu, sources said,
was rallying behind Ncube who is being accused by MDC-T hardliners of having
links with Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo.

Ncube was appointed Victoria Falls special councillor, sparking outrage from
MDC-T officials who felt that the appointment was proof of Ncube’s alignment
to Zanu PF functionaries.

Sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that Ncube, a civic activist and
Victoria Falls Agenda board member, was elected at a Matabeleland North
provincial executive meeting in Hwange a fortnight ago.

Ncube shrugged off stiff competition from former MDC-T Matabeleland North
administrator Michael Phiri and Hwange East MP Tose Sansole.

“There is a war over the selection of Ncube to represent the province in the
national executive. Varlley and Mabhena are leading a group which is
querying why the party would elevate someone who was appointed by Chombo,”
said a senior MDC-T official.

Tshabangu confirmed Ncube’s election to the national executive, but denied
that there was a fight over his selection.

“There can be others who feel Ncube doesn’t deserve to be our national
representative but they haven’t complained formally,” said  Tshabangu. “We
forwarded Ncube’s name to the national executive which has not objected.”

But MDC-T officials say even Ncube’s election was not done in accordance
with the party’s constitutional provisions since only a “few of the
provincial executive members” attended the meeting.

Sources said Mabhena and Varlley were determined to have Ncube’s election
nullified and have a fresh one.

While Varlley could not be reached for comment, Mabhena said he was not
against Ncube’s election, but insisted that there were “certain things that
needed to be corrected”.

He added that he would soon meet Tshabangu and map the way forward regarding
Ncube’s election.

“When the elections were held I was not there, so I am yet to meet the
provincial chairman (Tshabangu) so that we correct one or two things,” he

Repeated efforts to get a comment from Ncube were fruitless as his mobile
phones were not reachable.

Earlier this month, MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai visited Matabeleland
North to build bridges between the two factions in the region aligned to the
party’s organising secretary Elias Mudzuri and his deputy Morgan Komichi.

Brian Chitemba

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Take Mugabe with a pinch of salt — UK minister

Thursday, 02 December 2010 18:45

NEW UK minister for Africa Henry Bellingham said on Wednesday that President
Robert Mugabe should be taken “with a pinch of salt”, and called for
credible elections in the country the 86-year-old leader has ruled for 30
Bellingham, who was appointed Africa minister in May when Prime Minister
David Cameron’s coalition government came to power, said Britain will use
its influence in southern Africa to push for free and fair elections in

“Our position is very simple. We want to see credible elections and we’re
going to use our influence to support those people who are working in that
direction,” Bellingham told journalists in Johannesburg at the start of his
first official visit to the regional power-broker South Africa.

Bellingham was speaking the day after Mugabe asked leaders at a summit of
African and European Union states in Libya why former British Prime Minister
Tony Blair and former US President George Bush had not been indicted for war
crimes like Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir.

Mugabe said the two former leaders were responsible for hundreds of
thousands of Iraqi deaths.

“He does come up with comments from time to time, doesn’t he?” Bellingham
said. “I think one just has to take him with a pinch of salt in that
particular case.”

Mugabe has long had a tense relationship with former colonial ruler Britain.

Blair said last year that Zimbabwe should “get rid of” the 86-year-old
leader, saying Mugabe “has destroyed his country”.

Zimbabwe is currently ruled by a power-sharing government formed between
Mugabe and long-time rival Morgan Tsvangirai in the wake of bloody and
inconclusive elections in 2008.

Under the deal, the country is supposed to adopt a new constitution that
will steer it to fresh elections.

Mugabe’s Zanu PF party has said new polls will be held around June next
year, even if the stalled constitution-making process is not complete.

But Tsvangirai’s MDC party has called for key reforms to be implemented
first to ensure a free and fair election. —  AFP.

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Posa Bill support withdrawn

Thursday, 02 December 2010 18:38

ZANU PF MPs said this week they will not support amendments to the Public
Order and Security Amendment Act (Posa), whose second reading was done in
October in the House of Assembly without any objections.
The legislators from Zanu PF withdrew their support for the Posa Amendment
Bill after they received a tongue lashing from Vice-President Joice Mujuru
at a party caucus meeting on November 18 for supporting the proposed

In an interview, Mwenezi East legislator and Zanu PF politburo member
Kudakwashe Bhasikiti said this week the party legislators would not support
the proposed Posa amendments because effecting the changes would create room
for those who want to cause anarchy in the country in the name of democracy.

“We will not support the Posa amendments because they will cause anarchy.
They are proposing that the Act should not make demonstration organisers
responsible for the destruction that takes place during the street actions.
How can we sanction removal of the burden of responsibility from the
organisers?” Bhasikiti queried.

He added that: “The Bill is as good as dead. That is why even the minister
of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs or Justice and Legal Affairs did
not steer the Bill. They knew it would create anarchy and mayhem in the

A source within Zanu PF said MPs assumed to be supporting the MDC-T agenda
on elections and amendments to Posa were chastised at the meeting.
“The meeting targeted Makhosini Hlongwane for supporting Posa amendments
during the Bill’s second reading stage. We were reminded to desist from
assisting MDC-T to cause regime change through amendments to laws like

The source added that: “The address was not a discussion or an exchange of
views. It also targeted Paddy Zhanda for saying that MPs would demand
compensation if their term was cut short. There was resistance because MPs
did not want to be talked down to but needed an open engagement on the
matter.” MDC-T, however, said rejecting the Bill would be fatal to Zanu PF’s
legislative agenda as they would also block their moves in retaliation.

Shepherd Mushonga (MDC-T Mazowe Central MP) told the Zimbabwe Independent
this week that: “If the Bill dies in the water it will be a disaster for
Zanu PF. They will not put anything in the House and sail through. It will
be sad.”

Mutare Central MP Innocent Gonese (MDC-T) introduced the amendment as a
Private Member’s Bill.

Gonese was surprised when the Bill passed through the second reading stage
with Zanu PF’s support and believed the process marked a new era of
bipartisanship in parliament.

“I see that there is a new spiriti this august House. I do not know whether
it has to do with Copac. It is very encouraging and I want to believe that
this is going to be that start of good things to come,” Gonese said then.

The amendment is aimed at ensuring that public gatherings are regulated in a
manner that will allow Zimbabweans to fully exercise their fundamental
democratic right to express themselves through the medium of peaceful
assembly and association.

The Bill redefines a “public meeting” in a manner that makes it clear that
internal meetings of organisations such as political parties and trade
unions will not normally fall within the Act’s provisions. Under the
proposed law, political parties may hold meetings in venues that are not
open to the public and in public places that are indoors such as public

It also takes away the police’s power to stop organisers from holding
demonstrations and gives it to magistrates in addition to reducing
notification time from seven days to four days before an event.

Opposition political parties and civil society organisations have complained
that their meetings have on several occasions been banned or disrupted by
police while they alleged that no Zanu PF meetings had been subjected to the
same treatment.

Paidamoyo Muzulu

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Zanu PF factions trade bitter exchanges

Thursday, 02 December 2010 18:37

FEUDING senior Zanu PF members from Bulawayo were at each other’s throats
during last week’s politburo meeting, trading accusations and
counter-accusations over who is to blame for the former ruling party’s
chaotic structures in the province.
This, politburo members told the Zimbabwe Independent, was done in front of
President Robert Mugabe, who has seemingly failed to deal with factionalism
which has caused serious divisions within his party.

The politburo members said Matabeleland South governor Angeline Masuku,
Joshua Malinga and Edson Ncube, exchanged bitter words with the party’s
secretary for education Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and deputy secretary for women’s
affairs, Eunice Sandi.

Malinga, Masuku and Ncube, sources said, told Mugabe that Ndlovu and Sandi
were behind a myriad of problems bedeviling the party in Bulawayo province.
Ndlovu has since been removed as the coordinator in Bulawayo, although he
dismissed the sacking as null and void.

In turn, sources said Ndlovu launched a blistering attack on Masuku, Malinga
and Ncube whom he reportedly said were no longer attending party activities,
accusing them of having parallel structures.

Central committee members, former Zimbabwe Defence Industries boss Tshinga
Dube, Callistus Ndlovu and Judith Ncube, have also been accused of not
attending crucial provincial meetings.

“There was a war in the politburo as the heavyweights attacked each other in
front of Mugabe,” said one senior politburo member. “There were accusations
and counter-accusations as the fight between the two factions escalated.”

Another politburo member said: “We debated extensively in the politburo. We
told the politburo that we don’t want Ndlovu to lead the party in Bulawayo.
Ndlovu will never chair Bulawayo programmes again, over our dead bodies.”

He said it was disappointing that Ndlovu and Sandi were fighting 23 other
politburo and central committee members in Bulawayo.

The Zanu PF insider said the politburo then ordered secretary for
commissariat Webster Shamu to meet the politburo members in Bulawayo.

Shamu visited the province on Sunday and was locked in an eight-hour long
closed door meeting with the politicians at the provincial offices at Davies

He failed to solve the problem at that meeting and, sources said, he then
returned to Bulawayo on Tuesday where he met the Zanu PF leadership in the
region from 5pm to 10pm.

Shamu met Bulawayo politburo and central committee members but once again he
walked away empty handed after the factions refused to give in, the sources

“The leaders were just accusing each other and refused to compromise. It
looks like the problems in Bulawayo will persist; we will go to the annual
conference in Mutare with the two factions fighting,” said the source.

Contacted for comment, Shamu declined to discuss the matter saying he was
not entertaining telephone interviews.

“I want to talk to reporters in person not over the phone. Some people may
abuse reporters’ names,” he said.

Masuku, who is one of the politburo members accused of boycotting crucial
party meetings, insisted that they were still actively involved in party
programmes, saying the allegations were levelled by malicious Zanu PF

“We are members of Zanu PF and we are leaders. We don’t want to be involved
in the fights. People always say what they want,” she said.

Brian Chitemba

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Vulnerable groups laud budget allocation

Thursday, 02 December 2010 18:35

WHILE many have dismissed the budget statement presented by Finance minister
Tendai Biti as being deficient on funding for agriculture, empowerment and
indigenisation programmes, representatives of vulnerable groups believe next
year’s budget is an improvement on previous ones.

However, they were quick to point out that although it was commendable, the
funding provided was insufficient to cater for their needs.
Unlike past financial statements, the 2011 national budget provided funds
for social security programmes, something that has been missing previously.
“As a movement we are happy. It is not about the quantum, but the intention
is positive,” said Farai Mutuki, director of the National Association of
Societies for the Care of the Handicapped (NASCOH), which has a nationwide
membership of 53 organisations.
Biti described people living with disabilities as frustrated, excluded and
alienated from economic affairs for not receiving any meaningful support
from the government, particularly the Ministry of Labour and social welfare.
He then allocated them a harmonised cash transfer of US$6,14 million.
A specific provision of US$1,3 million was made for othorpaedic limbs and
small loans to people living with disabilities while US$500 000 was
allocated towards provision of suitable toilet facilities to people living
with disabilities in all government offices.
Biti also allocated US$13 million to Basic Education and Assistance Module
(Beam), US$800 000 to Assisted Medical Treatment Orders and US$1 million to
resuscitate the child supplementary feeding scheme, particularly for rural
primary schools so as to avoid high school dropouts.
He also allocated US$15 million to the Student Support Grant and Loan Fund
and said government would work with ZB bank to establish a sustainable and
affordable student support scheme.
Social commentator Ernest Mudzengi applauded Biti for initiating the
process, but said the money was not enough to handle the volumes of
vulnerable people.
“The allocation given to social protection is by no means adequate,” said
“It won’t go a long way because the funds are supposed to cover all areas in
this country. The return of students grants is a positive move considering
the life students were forced to live for survival, for example some were
forced into prostitution and begging,” he said adding that: “The money is
however not adequate as a lot of students in state universities and
technical colleges can’t afford the high fees.”
Current estimates state that extreme poverty levels in the country are at
48% while the number of orphans and vulnerable children are estimated at one
million, while 3% of the population is disabled, the elderly included.
Project Manager for Just Children’s Foundation, an organisation that
provides care and shelter to vulnerable children, Martha Damu believes Biti
could have done better.
“We work with children on a daily basis and believe me there are a lot of
children who are suffering out there and not going to school,” said Damu.
“Through our work we have recorded Chikomba district as having the highest
number of children who were not going to school, for example at Mawere
primary   school whom we requested to benefit from Beam.”
“A class is not a class unless it is a full class. More is needed to make
sure that these children go to school and the government also needs to
improve on the bureaucratic system of getting these fees,” she said.
Information adviser for people living with disabilities Fambai Magweva said
he was happy that for the first time the ministry has made a provision for
people with disabilities.
“I think as a start the needs of disabled people has been considered. The
amount might be small but overall the intention is perfect. This has been
the first time we have had a disability budget or figures. That recognition
should be applauded,” he said.
Magweva applauded Biti for giving people living with disabilities money to
buy mobility appliances.
“We would want people living with disabilities to move away from poverty and
to be involved in small enterprises like farming, trading or mining,” he
Zimbabwe National Students Union (Zinasu) spokesperson Kudakwashe Chikabvu
welcomed the return of the students’ support scheme saying this was a great
step towards reviving the country’s education system.
“Zinasu acknowledges this development not just as a piecemeal election
gimmick designed to  console the wounds of thousands of students who dropped
out of tertiary education because they could not afford the exorbitant
tuition fees but also as a positive step in reviving the country’s education
sector,” said Chikabvu.
Mudzengi said government should revamp the National Social Security
Authority (NSSA) which he said was open to abuse.
“The biggest challenge is to make sure that NSSA is cleansed and
professionalised — not making it a breeding ground for corruption.
Government can also engage in other activities for example asking for seed
funds to come up with self-sustaining projects which can help pensioners who
are getting as little as US$50,” he said.
However, Biti bemoaned the low social protection coverage and actual
expenditures and the absence of a comprehensive strategy and underfunding
for social security in the country.
“Overall given the lack of the fiscal space the above social protection
programmes will count on support from donors.  Hence co-ordination
activities between government and development partners will be critical to
avoid duplication and to enhance effectiveness,” he said.
“High unemployment, coupled with depletion of insurance and pension schemes
by hyperinflation have increased the number of people requiring social
assistance,” said Biti.

Wongai Zhangazha

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No need to discuss Mugabe’s successor — SK Moyo

Thursday, 02 December 2010 18:30

FORMER ruling party Zanu PF will hold its annual conference in Mutare
between December 15 and 18 amid President Robert Mugabe’s pronouncement that
the country will go to the polls mid-next year. The Zimbabwe Independent
Political Editor Faith Zaba (FZ) spoke to Zanu PF chairman Simon Khaya Moyo
(SKM) at the party’s headquarters in Harare last week on Mugabe’s succession
saga, militarisation of the party, elections, intimidation and violence.
Below are the excerpts.

FZ: What is on the cards at the conference?

SKM: The theme of the conference is “Total control of our resources through
indigenisation and empowerment”. The land reform programme, as you are
aware, was concluded and irreversible.

We are focusing more on the question of indigenising the economy and also
empowering our people in terms of the wealth of this country. We believe
that having got our political freedom and sovereignty, it is not enough to
go on and on merely with having the flag and national anthem.

FZ: What is your response to concerns around the indigenisation policy,
especially that it will benefit the same elite?

SKM: This is the reason why we have conferences of this nature for us to
discuss these matters; we don’t want to stifle any discussion. If there are
such cases we must certainly have them corrected. But they can only come out
of discussions and not by rumour or by gossip. So let people discuss what
they know is true at the conference and we shall come out with appropriate
solutions as a conference over such matters.

FZ: President Mugabe has of late been talking about elections next year. Has
the party endorsed this position and how was it done?

SKM: Provinces have been endorsing that (position). A number of provinces,
if not all expect three, have endorsed that position in terms of their
resolutions as provinces and it is actually expected that the conference
itself will endorse what the provinces want.
The logic of it all is that we are in an inclusive government, which is a
result of the GPA which has a limited span of time — actually of two years —
and within these two years it was anticipated that a new constitution would
have been in place followed by elections. This is part of the GPA and we,
therefore, cannot violate it.

FZ: Some MPs and even politburo members are opposed to the elections. Has
this view been expressed?

SKM: Well you never have people thinking the same way in any part of the
world, but we are following what the provisions of the Global Political
Agreement which we all signed and it provides for that unless you want to
violate it or renege on it. That is what is expected from us as parties.
FZ: But have these sentiments been relayed to you?

SKM:  Not formally, certainly nobody has ever said this formally at any
meeting, but naturally people might be having their own inner feelings. I
cannot read those ones, but certainly we have never had formal
pronouncements by anybody over this matter.

FZ: Could this be because in Zanu PF when the president speaks a lot of
people find it very difficult to oppose or go against him?

SKM:  If the president speaks sense, which he does all the time, surely I
don’t know why one should go against sense and logic. So if that is what
people say, so be it. Because I know very well that at all our meetings —
politburo, central committee — people are free to express themselves and
they have been expressing themselves very eloquently on a number of matters,
including the one we are referring to now.
There is so much excitement, people are saying we want elections yesterday,
because to them the inclusive government is spending more time on quarrels
than in shaping up the future of this country. You have seen in today’s
paper (last Thursday) the prime minister is taking the president to court.

FZ: Is it not that Zanu PF is causing some of these quarrels by violating
the GPA?

SKM: It doesn’t matter, quarrels are there. Every family has quarrels. Sit
down and discuss them, but don’t run to Europe or other countries and say in
my home or in my house there is a problem. That is not the way to do or
handle things. Let us sit as a family. Close the doors and talk. But if we
are going to be running all over Europe or the US, they also get fatigued,
they also have problems by the way. But they sort them out amicably by
closing doors and talking as a family, so that’s how things should be done.

FZ: Sitting MPs have also raised some concerns — they are saying since their
terms are being cut by two years they want a guarantee that there will not
be subjected to primary elections. Is the party willing to make that

SKM: They have not brought that to us.

FZ: They have mentioned it to the Finance minister and it has been reported

SKM: The party constitution provides that there must be primary elections
for everybody.

FZ: Would you say the environment is conducive for elections?

SKM: I don’t know when the environment can be judged to be conducive or not.
I think it is up to the people of this country to act responsibly and really
treat each other as a family and do that which the law provides and let us
therefore meet our obligations and respect the people in terms of their
expectations without violence.
There must be no violence. We must do our things in an orderly fashion, in a
dignified manner and belonging to different parties does not mean we are
enemies. We are not. You find that in a house one belongs to another party,
it doesn’t mean that we are no longer relatives or no more brothers and

FZ:  But there are already reports that there is violence by some war
veterans — Jabulani Sibanda has been mentioned by name — and also
intimidation of villagers by the military?

SKM: The point is that this country has law enforcement agents and they must
apply it (the law). It is provided for in the constitution. They have got a
duty to protect citizens, so if there is anybody who is involved in violence
(by the way, it is not one sided we heard it from all parties) this must be
stopped. We must not allow it to happen.
We just can’t allow people to be muzzled by whoever and I have been reading
a number of articles also of culprits from all parties doing things which
are unheard of and I am sure the parties themselves must face it and teach
these people to stop such kind of conduct.

FZ: But the impression being created is that all this – the violence and
intimidation — is probably being sanctioned by the party? What is Jabulani
Sibanda doing in the rural areas?

SKM:  I don’t think it would be fair to be talking about Jabulani

FZ: Why not?

SKM: Because there are others who are not being mentioned deliberately.

FZ: So what are you going to do about Jabulani?

SKM: What has he done, we don’t know. We only hear of it from the private
press. We don’t know what he has done and he has denied everything that is
being said. What do you do with someone when we don’t have a specific case
to talk about?

FZ: Have you spoken to him?

SKM: What I am saying is that we have not heard of any specific case he has
done to warrant action against him. I have not heard of it. But the media,
particularly the private media, I don’t know why it’s one sided. I thought
journalism was really a very noble profession. You must report things
fairly. It appears it is Jabulani, Jabulani Jabulani, the whole country is
Jabulani. What is going on? He must be a very powerful man. I don’t think
God has such powers like Jabulani.

FZ: Is it fact that soldiers have been deployed countrywide to campaign for
Zanu PF?

SKM: I don’t know anything about that and personally I don’t see the reason
for it. But the only thing I want to say is that we are 30 years independent
and you have to remember that a lot of people from the struggle joined the
army and some have since retired. Those that retired are not barred from
belonging to any political party. I don’t see why they should be singled out
as having being deployed if they are in any party structure. Are they not
supposed to participate in politics when they have retired?

FZ: Have you heard about operation code-named “boys on leave”?

SKM: I saw it in the private paper but I have never heard of it before. I
don’t know what that is

FZ: What about militarisation of party structures?

SKM:  We are all war veterans. We are all military people some of us. I don’t
think it will be fair to say I must never be national chairman of Zanu PF
because my background is military. Would that be correct? I was part of
those who liberated this country as a military person now I must not
participate in the running of the country —why and for the sake of whom?

FZ: They say the timing is interesting when we look at air vice marshal
(Henry) Muchena joining the department of commissariat to rebuild the party
structures, just as we are talking about elections.

SKM: I don’t know about that. That can be answered by the department of

FZ: What about the issue we are reading that your structures are in disarray
or shambolic?

SKM: Well of course in politics you will never say to your opponents your
structures are wonderful. To start with I think it is really just
statements. I have been going around the country and structures are very
solid. People are gearing up for the conference. I see very solid structures
wherever I go.

FZ: Why is it that there is no talk of leadership renewal in Zanu PF and
that of succession?

SKM: On the succession issue, the party has structures, it has conferences
and surely that should be done through those structures. We cannot impose
anybody on the people. Let people choose who they want to lead them.

FZ: But if you look at other countries like South Africa you can tell who
the next president in the ANC is, but not in Zanu PF?

SKM: That is in South Africa. They have two five-year term limits in office.
We are using the Lancaster House constitution given by the British. It has
no presidential terms like in South Africa. We tried to change that in 2000,
but some people in this country rejected that. What should we do?

FZ: But President Mugabe is not so young — people would expect that at least
by now there would be some debate on his successor.

SKM: Discussing with who?

FZ: Even at politburo level.

SKM:  No, what for? The president can make his own announcement anytime he
feels like he wants that he is almost there.

FZ: Is it because people are afraid to raise the issue because of what
happened to people like (Dzikamai) Mavhaire who tried to start that debate
some years ago?

SK Moyo: He is the president of the country and he is the president of the
party, you, Faith, you are also free to discuss the issue with him. This is
the end of our interview.

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Civil service salary: Spinoffs to the broader economy

Thursday, 02 December 2010 17:57

Last Thursday saw the Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, presenting what can
arguably be labelled a robust Fiscal Policy Statement highlighted by
projections of strong economic growth over the coming years.
The current year, 2010, is expected to register a real GDP growth of 8,1%
while growth for 2011 economic growth is projected at 9,3%. Underpinning
that growth are primary industries, namely, mineral extraction and farming.
Mining is anticipated to expand by 47% and 44% in 2010 and 2011,
respectively riding on firming international commodity prices as well as
increasing output in gold and platinum production.
Several investors are lining up to explore and develop mining projects in
Zimbabwe as the country is believed to be endowed with abundant mineral
The fact that investment is trickling into the sector amidst the confusion
surrounding indigenous empowerment regulations and a pending amendment to
the Mines and Minerals Act could be an indication that the local mining
projects have a potential for significant returns Imagine if the political
risk in the country was not as high as is widely perceived amongst
international investors.
Certainly, the early stage of the economic turnaround could have seen a
sector like mining growing two-fold yearly given the general firming in
prices of precious minerals and base metals thanks to rising demand from
China.  Strong growth is also expected from agriculture despite spending
more than a decade in limbo.
Agriculture is expected to grow by 33.9% in the current year and 19.3% in
2011 benefiting from growth in tobacco and sugar production.
The statement was also favourable to civil servants with the minister
setting aside US$1,4 billion for wages, medical aid, pensions and social
security contributions. This is an increase of US$400 million from the 2010
outturn of US$1 billion. Out of the proposed US$1,4 billion, an amount of
US$1,1 billion will be used for remuneration of public servants. This is
almost double the US$600 million set aside in last year’s budget.
It would, however, appear that this upward revision of the wages could prove
inopportune as it is unsustainable. Revenue collections, though steadily
improving, are still constrained and given that less than half of money
pledged by donors has come, the rise could have been introduced more
There was need to increase capital expenditure allocations to rehabilitate
critical infrastructure deficiencies in electricity, rail and water supplies
to support the revival of the private sector which is the main source of
government revenue through taxes, fees and levies. The current scenario in
which 80% of the expenditure goes towards recurrent spending, with
remuneration getting the largest allocation, is retrogressive in the long
To put it into perspective, in 2009 the wage bill accounted for 47% of the
total budget and equated to 9,2% of the country’s GDP. In the current year,
employment costs as a percentage of total revenues are expected to hover
around 54,5% and this will be 15% of GDP.
However, in the coming year, the minister intends to slash the percentage of
salaries to the total budget and GDP to 45% and 14.5%, correspondingly, with
a medium term target of 30% and 10% being set respectively. More funds
should be channeled towards capital expenditure such as the construction of
roads and power generating units so as to facilitate economic growth.
There is a positive spin to the upward review of civil service salaries
though. It is expected that the salaries will increase by at least 50% which
will be a big boost to the spending power of the workers.
This upward review, though likely to remain far below the poverty datum line
of US$462 and the US$503 demanded by the civil servants, should go a long
way in motivating them. The low salaries have always been a major source of
demotivation among public workers even before the adoption of multiple
As a result service delivery within government institutions has been
unsatisfactory as some employees use productive time and resources to do
personal work to augment their salaries. The low salary levels are also
fuelling corruption.
An upward review was again essential so as to narrow the salaries gap
between the public and private sectors. There is a serious skills shortage
in public offices as many people are seeking employment in the private
sector whilst others were forced to do menial jobs in neighbouring
countries. For that reason it is imperative to offer better incentives so as
to both retain current employees and also lure back those employees who have
migrated to neighbouring countries.
Since government is the largest employer, effects of this salary hike are
likely to filter into the broader economy as a whole through increased
demand for products. On a sector basis, the retail sector particularly
companies in the FMCG, furniture and clothing industry, stand to benefit
from increased spending.
On the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, companies like Truworths, Edgars, Innscor,
Delta and Econet easily come to mind. Already clothing retailers are
devising strategies to benefit from the potential upturn. For instance
Truworths and Edgars have increased customer credit limits to encourage them
to spend more.
Payment periods are also being increased from three months to six months.
The benefits are also expected to filter through the entire supply chain.
Firms supplying product to retailers should also expect growth in sales
volume. Well, that is the rather simplistic view but the bottom line is that
barring any major distress in the anticipated elections, 2011 is indeed
likely to be a better year for the country than 2010.

Kumbirai Makwembere

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Stakeholders slam agric budget allocation criticised

Thursday, 02 December 2010 17:55

TREASURY’S allocation of US$122 million to agriculture is grossly inadequate
for a sector that is expected to spur economic growth after a decade of
stagnation, agricultural analysts have said.
To make matters worse, the analysts said there was no specific funding for
A2 commercial farmers.
Finance minister Tendai Biti
last week proposed a vote of US$122 million in next year’s national budget,
of which $41 million was set aside for the ministry’s capital expenditure,
with $11,8 million earmarked for rehabilitation and expansion of 63
irrigation schemes nationwide.
Commercial Farmers Union president Deon Theron said the budget allocation
was insufficient for the sector’s needs, particularly when one looks at
previous allocations to agriculture.
“The funding is largely inadequate if one considers that the country’s
economy is agriculture-based. It will not be enough to restore production to
its full potential,” Theron said.
He added that: “Agriculture is capital-intensive and the current liquidity
crunch will make it very difficult for commercial farmers to perform at
their full capacity.”
“It therefore follows that Treasury could have made more resources
available. Without that it is going to be pretty difficult to let
agriculture reach its full potential.”
Zimbabwe Farmers Union president Silas Hungwe concurred, saying farmers
needed more support if the goal of food security is to be attained.
“The budget allocation is not enough. There are lots of areas that need to
be covered in the sector. If not covered the expectation of food security
will remain a pipe dream,” Hungwe said.
He added that the manufacturing industry recovery is dependent on the
turnaround of the agriculture sector.
“If agriculture is expected to play a major role in the turnaround of the
economy it needs a lot of support. Industry can only be revived if farming
improves,” Hungwe said.
Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) chairman Basil Nyabadza said the
budget sent a clear signal that commercial farmers were on their own now and
have to look for alternative funding if the sector is to be restored to its
former glorified position.
“A2 have been cut loose from the treasury umbilical cord. This marks the
birth of the new farmer who took over Mr Jones’ farm. We have now to look at
in-house solutions to farmers’ financing needs,” Nyabadza said.
He added that: “As AMA, we have started looking at comprehensive ways of
funding agriculture on a permanent basis. Agriculture should look at
alternative ways than continued reliance on Treasury. We need a revolving
fund outside Treasury to spur agricultural production once more.”
Commercial farmer and Muzarabani South legislator Edward Raradza agreed with
Nyabadza. “Agriculture is the backbone of the economy. As such it should
have been prioritised as a stimulus to the economy,” he said.
Biti, in his budget statement, alluded to the fact that agriculture funding
could not be left in the hands of government alone.
“Government’s capacity to fully provide the resource requirements for the
sector on its own is limited and, hence, invited other private sector
players to complement its efforts,” Biti said.
In the 2011 financial year, the government has sourced loans from financial
institutions for A2 farmers amounting to over US$350 million.
The funding among other things will cater for tobacco production (US$158,9
million), cotton, soya and horticulture will receive a combined US$49,7
million and lending to individual farmers totals US$71,9 million.
Biti however said successful private funding of agriculture would depend on
resolving the land tenure question under the agrarian reforms.
“The issue of the security of tenure is critical. Whatever tenure system is
chosen, it must surely provide for security, must be registrable, executable
and must be transferable,” the minister said.

Paidamoyo Muzulu

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Retailers poised for rising sales

Thursday, 02 December 2010 17:56

RETAILERS should see sales rising after Finance minister Tendai Biti awarded
civil servants salary increases in his 2011 fiscal policy statement owing to
increased aggregate demand , analysts said.
Analysts see Zimbabwe’s retail sector recording significant sales growth
buoyed by an increase in aggregate demand resulting from a salary increment
awarded to civil servants by the treasury.
Aggregate demand is the total amount of goods and services demanded in the
economy at a given overall price level and in a given time period.
A market report prepared by the Tetrad Group says a salary increment awarded
to government workers should stimulate demand for fast moving consumer
Biti also increased the tax-free threshold on bonuses to US$500 from US$400,
a development also widely expected to increase disposable incomes for public
Growth in the retail sector is expected at a time when the banking sector —
whose deposits have been gradually increasing — is on a campaign to restore
confidence in the sector.
Treasury has projected distribution, hotels and restaurants to contribute 6%
to the Gross Domestic Product.
“The substantial increase in government salaries — amounting to more than
50% — will without doubt increase aggregate demand in the economy because
government currently employs the highest number of people in the economy,”
the Tetrad report reads.
“The increased disposable incomes will be a major boost to retailers and
indeed their suppliers. In addition, the wage increase in the public service
is likely to spark wage increases in the private sector.”
The banking group, however, warned that plans by President Robert Mugabe to
call for elections next year following growing animosity within the
coalition government could raise uncertainty among business.
“The major threat in 2011 is the prospect for an election. With no doubt,
the polls will introduce a wave of uncertainty which is bad for businesses.
The elections, however, are unlikely to be as detrimental to business as in
2008 because the Zimbabwe dollar is gone, which means inflation will not go
through the roof and in addition the threat of price controls is much less,”
the report said.
CZI president Joseph Kanyekanye said business was “generally” not ready for
a poll.
“Generally business do not like elections because when they do happen they
take away our time and generally productivity suffers,” said Kanyekanye in
an interview with businessdigest earlier this week.
“My idea is that if the GPA can function, then clearly we will be content
with that for some time. But if it shows the signs that we are seeing now
where it looks like things are not functioning well and there is some  sort
of dissonance, then clearly an election may be the ideal thing provided it
is done in a manner that the outcome is respected by almost everyone.”
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president Lovemore Matombo, however, said
that the salary increment would do little to cushion civil servants from the
cost of living.
“We are greatly disappointed by the proposed US$225 monthly tax free
threshold announced by the minister,” Matombo said. “We expected him to
announce a figure close to the current poverty datum line currently standing
at US$487. We have argued that as long as workers have more disposable
income, it also increases aggregate demand.”

Bernard Mpofu

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Price increases hit struggling consumers

Thursday, 02 December 2010 17:52

IF an old gypsy lady gazed into her crystal ball and proclaimed to
Zimbabwean consumers that the latest in a series of government economic
initiatives and retailer pricing models would transform their lives for the
better in December this year none would believe her.
Even if the gypsy allowed them to take that rare glimpse into her crystal
ball, and they saw the slightest of evidence for themselves, they would
still have severe doubts. The odds are heavily tilted against any optimism
for Zimbabwean consumers.
Many Zimbabweans have every reason to doubt the “unjustified” price
increases they are enduring could be remedied by profiteering retailers and
shops and a crop of politicians that firmly hug populist, yet calamitous
economic programmes.
They have become used to an administration with a long history of
maintaining its record of disappointing deliveries.
If National Incomes and Pricing Commission chairman Godwills Masimirembwa is
called to monitor prices in a dollarised economy will he make a difference
after failing to significantly do so during the Zimbabwe dollar era?
Masimirembwa’s role is to compare prices of goods and services in the region
and ensure that the charges are applicable in Zimbabwe.
But what is the reason for the sudden rise in prices of goods and services?
Could it be the country’s trade rebate structure, firming of the rand,
taxes, response to speculation or  is it sheer profiteering? Why has the
Retail Association of Zimbabwe ignored the price trends or do they still
A two-week survey by businessdigest revealed that most retail outlets across
the country have increased the prices of both locally-manufactured and
imported basic commodities.
The priority for supermarkets is to get the appropriate stock on and off
their shelves as fast as possible and increasing prices is not part of the
The country’s three biggest supermarkets — OK Zimbabwe, TM and Spar — are
said to have increased their average price for a basket of goods by about
15% during the fourth quarter of the year.
Experts say the rate of food price inflation was making life increasingly
difficult for the millions of families already struggling to make ends meet
under the weight of rising rentals, energy costs, taxes, interest rates and
school fees.
Some experts are suggesting that retail prices are rising even faster than
wholesale despite the issues of supply and demand in the equation.
The price of two litres of cooking oil has increased to US$3,70 this week
from US$2,90 in January, while a 10 kg bag of mealie meal rose to US$6,90
from US$4,80.
A kg of tomatoes now costs US$3 from US$1,80. A kg of economy beef is being
sold for US$3,90, up from US$3,00 while two litres of cool drink concentrate
Mazoe now cost US$3,10 from US$2,70. A bar of washing soap is US$1,20 from
The cost of living as measured by the consumer basket went up by US$7, 40 in
October on the back of speculative tendencies by the country’s retailers.
The low income urban earner monthly basket for a family of six rose to
US$491,28 from US$483,88 in October, reflecting a 0,02% increase.
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) executive director Rosemary Siyachitema
said the rise was driven by local retailers seeking to capitalise on the
upcoming festive season.
“CCZ is concerned that the increase in the food basket may be attributed to
the traditional behaviour of supermarkets to increase prices towards the
festive season and also take advantage of that little bonus workers will
receive in November,” she said.
Economist Brains Muchemwa, however, said the anticipated bonus for civil
servants was not the reason behind the price hike saying the retail trade in
Zimbabwe was now competitive to an extent where retailers can price
themselves out of the market.
“This business is price sensitive and shop owners cannot independently set
prices. It must have something to do with cost build up, otherwise it’s not
justified,” Muchemwa said.
The food basket increased by 0,06% to US$136,76 in October 2010 from
US$129,56. Similarly, the food and detergents basket was on an upward trend
moving from US$139,88 in September to US$147,28 in October, reflecting a
0,05% increase.
Economist David Mupamhadzi told businessdigest that the increase in the
price of basic goods was largely attributed to the strengthening of the
South African rand, which pushes up the costs of imported basic goods and
“The majority of the goods and services in the country are imported from
South Africa, and movement of the rand will have a big impact on the prices
of imported goods and services,” he said.
He said given that capacity utilisation in the country was still below 50%,
it followed that Zimbabwe will continue relying on imports mainly from South
Africa, and the movement of the rand will continue to influence prices in
“The high cost of utilities in the country is also pushing prices of basic
goods and services. The continued increase in the price of water, rates, and
electricity was increasing the cost of production to companies, and hence
the increases in the price of basic goods and services,” Mupamhadzi said.
“Industries in Zimbabwe are facing a number of structural rigidities which
pushes up the cost of production per unit. However, it should be noted that
the price trends that the economy recorded in 2010 is consistent with a
dollarised economy, and even the average inflation in the region.”
He said what was critical is to focus on enhancing productivity in the key
sectors of the economy to improve the supply side situation.
“There is need to reduce the overreliance on imports through improving local
production,” Mupamhadzi said.

Paul Nyakazeya

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Mugabe: The end is nigh

Thursday, 02 December 2010 18:14

OUR policy is working and it’s helping to drive change here (in Zimbabwe).
What is required is simply the grit, determination and focus to see this
through. Then, when the changes finally come we must be ready to move
quickly to help consolidate the new dispensation.
The situation
Robert Mugabe has survived for so long because he is cleverer and more
ruthless than any other politician in Zimbabwe. To give the devil his due,
he is a brilliant tactician and has long thrived on his ability to abruptly
change the rules of the game, radicalise the political dynamic and force
everyone else to react to his agenda.

However, he is fundamentally hampered by several factors: his ego and belief
in his own infallibility; his obsessive focus on the past as a justification
for everything in the present and future; his deep ignorance on economic
issues (coupled with the belief that his 18 doctorates give him the
authority to suspend the laws of economics, including supply and demand);
and his essentially short-term, tactical style.

While his tactical skills have kept him in power for 27 years, over the last
seven this has only been achieved by a series of populist, but destructive
and ultimately self-defeating moves. In reaction to losing the 2000
referendum on the constitution, a vengeful Mugabe unleashed his “Green
Bombers” to commit land reform and in the process he destroyed Zimbabwe’s
agricultural sector, once the bedrock of the economy.

While thousands of white farmers saw their properties seized, hundreds of
thousands of black Zimbabweans lost their livelihoods and were reduced to
utter poverty. In 2005, having been forced to steal victory by manipulating
the results of an election he lost, Mugabe lashed out again, punishing the
urban populace by launching Operation Murambatsvina. The result was
wholesale destruction of the informal sector, on which as much as 70-80% of
urban dwellers had depended, and the uprooting of 700 000 Zimbabweans. The
current inflationary cycle really began with Murambatsvina, as rents and
prices grew in response to a decrease in supply.

And now, faced with the hyperinflationary consequences of his ruinous fiscal
policies and growing reliance on the printing press to keep his government
running, Mugabe has launched Operation Slash Prices. This has once again
given him a very temporary boost in popularity especially among the police,
who have led the looting of retail outlets and now seem well positioned to
take a leading role in the black market economy) at the cost of terrible
damage to the country and people.

Many small grocery and shop owners, traders, etc, will be wiped out; the
shelves are increasingly bare; hunger, fear, and tension are growing; fuel
has disappeared.  When the shelves are still empty this time next week, the
popular appeal of the price rollback will evaporate and the government
simply doesn’t have the resources to replace the entire private commercial
sector and keep Zimbabweans fed. It may attempt to do so by printing more
money, adding even more inflationary pressure on a system already reeling
from the government’s quasi-fiscal lunacy combined with the price impact of
pervasive shortages.

The increasingly worthless Zim dollar is likely to collapse as a unit of
trade in the near future, depriving the government of Zimbabwe of its last
economic tool other than sheer thuggery and theft of others’ assets.

With all this in view, I’m convinced the end is not far off for the Mugabe
regime. Of course, my predecessors and many other observers have all said
the same thing, and yet Mugabe is still with us. I think this time could
prove different, however, because for the first time the president is under
intensifying pressure simultaneously on the economic, political and
international fronts.

In the past, he could always play one of these off against the other, using
economic moves to counter political pressure or playing the old
colonial/race/imperialist themes to buy himself breathing room regionally
and internationally. But he is running out of options and in the swirling
gases of the new Zimbabwean constellation that is starting to form, the
economic, political and international pressures are concentrating on Mugabe

Our Zanu PF contacts are virtually unanimous in saying reform is desperately
needed, but won’t happen while the Old Man is there, and therefore he must
go (finding the courage to make that happen is another matter, however, but
even that may be coming closer).

This is not some sudden awakening on the road to Damascus, but a reflection
of the pain even party insiders increasingly feel over the economic
meltdown. We also get regular, albeit anecdotal, reports of angry and
increasingly open mutterings against Mugabe even in Zanu PF’s traditional
rural bastions.

Beginning in March (2007), the other Sadc leaders finally recognised (in the
wake of the terrible beatings of March 11 and the international outcry that
followed another self-inflicted wound for Mugabe) that Zimbabwe is a problem
they need to address.

Thabo Mbeki appears committed to a successful mediation and is reportedly
increasingly irritated with Mugabe’s efforts to manipulate him or blow him
off altogether. If Mugabe judges that he still commands all he surveys by
virtue of being the elder statesman on the scene, he may be committing yet
another serious blunder.
Finally, one does well to recall that the only serious civil disturbances
here in a decade came in 1998 over bread shortages, showing that even the
famously passive Shona people have their limits. The terror and oppression
of the intervening years have cowed people, but it’s anyone’s guess whether
their fear or their anger will win out in the end.

What will the end look like?

This is the big, unanswerable question. One thing at least is certain,
Mugabe will not wake up one morning a changed man, resolved to set right all
he has wrought. He will neither go quietly nor without a fight. He will
cling to power at all costs and the costs be damned, he deserves to rule by
virtue of the liberation struggle and land reform and the people of Zimbabwe
have let him down by failing to appreciate this, thus he needn’t worry about
their well-being.

The only scenario in which he might agree to go with a modicum of good grace
is one in which he concludes that the only way to end his days a free man is
by leaving State House. I judge that he is still a long way from this
conclusion and will fight on for now.

The optimal outcome, of course, and the only one that doesn’t bring with it
a huge risk of violence and conflict, is a genuinely free and fair election,
under international supervision. The Mbeki mediation offers the best, albeit
very slim, hope of getting there.

However, as Pretoria grows more and more worried about the chaos to its
north and President Mbeki’s patience with Mugabe’s antics wears thin, the
prospects for serious South African engagement may be growing. Thus, this
effort deserves all the support and backing we can muster.

Less attractive is the idea of a South African-brokered transitional
arrangement or government of national unity (GNU). Mbeki has always favoured
stability and in his mind this means a Zanu PF-led GNU, with perhaps a few
MDC additions. This solution is more likely to prolong than resolve the
crisis and we must guard against letting Pretoria dictate an outcome which
perpetuates the status quo at the expense of real change and reform.

The other scenarios are all less attractive:  a popular uprising would
inevitably entail a bloodbath, even if it were ultimately successful; Mugabe’s
sudden, unexpected death would set off a stampede for power among Zanu PF
heavyweights; a palace coup, whether initiated within Zanu PF or from the
military — in which Mugabe is removed, killed, exiled or otherwise disposed
of, could well devolve into open conflict between the contending successors.

Similarly, some form of “constitutional coup” ie a change at the top
engineered within the framework of Zanu PF’s “legitimate” structures could
well prove to be merely the opening bell in a prolonged power struggle.

None of the players is likely to go quietly into the night without giving
everything they have, including calling on their supporters in the security
services. Moreover, experience elsewhere would suggest that whoever comes
out on top initially will struggle, and more than likely fail, to halt the
economic collapse. Thus, there is a good prospect of not one but a series of
rapid-fire transitions, until some new, stable dispensation is reached.

The final, and probably worst, possibility is that Mugabe concludes he can
settle for ruling over a rump Zimbabwe, maintaining control over Harare and
the Mashona heartland, the critical forces of the National Reserve Force and
CIO and a few key assets gold, diamonds, platinum and Air Zimbabwe to fund
the good times. Under this scenario, the rest of the country, in one of the
comrade’s favourite phrases, could “go hang”, leaving it to the
international community to stave off the worst humanitarian consequences.

What of the opposition?

Zimbabwe’s opposition is far from ideal and I leave convinced that had we
had different partners, we could have achieved more already. But you have to
play the hand you’re dealt. With that in mind, the current leadership has
little executive experience and will require massive hand holding and
assistance should they ever come to power.

Morgan Tsvangarai is a brave, committed man and, by and large, a democrat.
He is also the only player on the scene right now with real star quality and
the ability to rally the masses. But Tsvangirai is also a flawed figure, not
readily open to advice, indecisive and with questionable judgment in
selecting those around him. He is the indispensable element for opposition
success, but possibly an albatross around their necks once in power. In
short, he is a kind of Lech Walesa character:  Zimbabwe needs him, but
should not rely on his executive abilities to lead the country’s recovery.

Arthur Mutambara is young and ambitious, attracted to radical, anti-Western
rhetoric and smart as a whip. But, in many respects he’s a lightweight who
has spent too much time reading US campaign messaging manuals and too little
thinking about the real issues.

Welshman Ncube has proven to be a deeply divisive and destructive player in
the opposition ranks and the sooner he is pushed off the stage, the better.
But he is useful to many, including the regime and South Africa, so is
probably a cross to be borne for some time yet. The prospects for healing
the rift within the MDC seem dim, which is a totally unnecessary
self-inflicted wound on their part this time.

With few exceptions — Tendai Biti, Nelson Chamisa — the talent is thin below
the top ranks. The great saving grace of the opposition is likely to be
found in the diaspora. Most of Zimbabwe’s best professionals, entrepreneurs,
businessmen and women, etc, have fled the country. They are the opposition’s
natural allies and it is encouraging to see signs, particularly in South
Africa and the UK, that these people are talking, sharing ideas, developing
plans and thinking together about future recovery.

Unfortunately, among the MDC’s flaws is its inability to work more
effectively with the rest of civil society. The blame for this can be shared
on both sides (many civil society groups, like the NCA, are single-issue
focused and take the overall dynamic in unhelpful directions; others, like
Woza, insist on going it alone as a matter of principle), but ultimately it
falls to the MDC as the largest and the only true political party, to show
the way.

Once again, however, these are natural allies and they have more reason to
work together than fight against each other.

Staying the course

If I am right and change is in the offing, we need to step up our
preparations. The work done over the last year on transition planning has
been extremely useful, both for stimulating a fresh look at our own
assumptions and plans and for forging a common approach among the
traditional donor community. But the process has lagged since the meetings
in March in London and should be re-energised.

It is encouraging in this respect that USAid Washington has engaged the
mission here in discussing how we would use additional resources in response
to a genuinely reform-minded government. I hope this will continue and the
good work done so far will survive the usual bloodletting of the budget

The official media has had a field day recently whooping that “Dell leaves
Zimbabwe a failed man”. That’s not quite how it looks from here. I believe
that the firm US stance, the willingness to speak out and stand up, have
contributed to the accelerating pace of change. Mugabe and his henchman are
like bullies everywhere:  if they can intimidate you they will. But they’re
not used to someone standing up to them and fighting back. It catches them
off guard and that’s when they make mistakes.

The howls of protest over critical statements from Washington or negative
coverage on CNN are the clearest proof of how this hurts them. Ditto the
squeals over illegal sanctions. In addition, the regime has become so used
to calling the shots and dictating the pace that the merest stumble panics
them. Many local observers have noted that Mugabe is panicked and desperate
about hyperinflation at the moment, and hence he’s making mistakes. Possibly
fatal mistakes.

We need to keep the pressure on in order to keep Mugabe off his game and on
his back foot, relying on his own shortcomings to do him in.

Equally important is an active US leadership role in the international

The UK is hamstrung by its colonial past and domestic politics, thus,
letting them set the pace alone merely limits our effectiveness. The EU is
divided between the hard north and its soft southern underbelly. The
Africans are only now beginning to find their voice. Rock solid partners
like Australia don’t pack enough punch to step out front and the UN is a
non-player. Thus it falls to the US, once again, to take the lead, to say
and do the hard things and to set the agenda.

Hundreds, maybe thousands, of ordinary Zimbabweans of all kinds have told me
that our clear, forthright stance has given them hope and the courage to
hang on. By this regime’s standards, acting in the interests of the people
may indeed be considered a failure. But I believe that the opposite is true,
and that we can be justifiably proud that in Zimbabwe we have helped advance
the (US) president’s freedom agenda. The people of this country know it and
recognise it and that is the true touchstone of our success here.

    * This edited article written in July 2007 by then US ambassador to
Zimbabwe Christopher Dell is part of thousands of US classified diplomatic
messages released by the Wikileaks website.

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Muckraker:Zanu PF spouts redundant nationalism

Thursday, 02 December 2010 18:13

Have you noticed what journalists in the state media are slipping into their
On Saturday Tendai Mugabe and Zvamaida Murwira had this to say about Morgan
Tsvangirai’s refusal to attend Monday meetings with President Mugabe.
“He was protesting President Robert Mugabe’s constitutional reappointment of
provincial governors and reassignment of serving ambassadors.”
Really? If it had been constitutional Tsvangirai would not have been
protesting, would he?
But the constitution had been unambiguously amended (Article 19) in 2008 to
requiring, among other things, principals to the GPA to agree upon senior
appointments. Why is that amendment being ignored when others passed over
the past 10 years are cast in stone?
Surely Tendai Mugabe and Zvamaida Murwira are aware of that?
And was Muckraker alone in noticing the sharp edge to Jacob Zuma’s remarks
about Rupiah Banda who was supposed to have presided over a recent Sadc
meeting in Gaborone?
“At the last minute the chairman of the Troika sent a message that he was
not able to attend the meeting,” Zuma told reporters in Harare last Friday.
“The former chair of the Troika (President Guebuza) was also not present and
we could not meet.”
The state press at the time reported this as a triumph for Zimbabwe. Banda’s
non-appearance, it would seem, inconvenienced Zuma but pleased Zanu PF.

Can’t we get away from this sort of reporting? Is it not in the country’s
interest to have cordial relations between the principals? Obviously it is.
But then you have SK Moyo denouncing the GNU as “a joke” for failing to
serve Zanu PF’s interests.
SK Moyo said Zanu PF was “supported by history”. What he meant was Zanu PF
was history!
Zanu PF does not enjoy being harnessed to the MDC which it regards as an
agency of Anglo-American power. But that is the price it pays for a
manipulative and violent election campaign in 2008. Sadc had to act to
prevent Zimbabwe’s further descent into chaos.
It is a sore loser and seeks to excuse its appalling record in power in the
childish language of redundant nationalism.
SK Moyo said recently the government of national unity was “a joke”.
But does anybody out there take Moyo, Emmerson Mnangagwa and other “leaders”
seriously? Why can’t President Mugabe and his party work with others to
achieve what is best for the country? That’s what Sadc leaders want.
The answer is obvious. Zanu PF is in denial about their loss in 2008 and
wants to re-impose their damaging authority upon an exhausted nation.

One good example of the party’s delinquency comes from Brigadier Douglas
Nyikayaramba. He was quoted recently in Mutare as saying MDC-T members who
support sanctions should be hanged.
“Our committee (Zanu PF Manicaland provincial sub-committee) feels that
those who call for sanctions should have death sentences imposed on them
because their actions have destroyed the national economy,” he reportedly
“Those MDC people must be hanged once and for all. The army will not let
such people roam freely in our country after elections. It’s high time we
deal with such people.”
If Nyikayaramba has been quoted accurately, that must go down as one of the
most shocking statements in the campaign to date. It exceeds anything said
in 2008.
And do you notice how our law-enforcement officers, banging on about the
“Western onslaught”, ignore statements about hanging people?
Then there is the Police Act. What happened to that or any mention of
professionalism? Instead all we get is “sovereignty”.
Why doesn’t the MDC-T or MDC-M spell out the role of a professional police
force in a democratic society? Shouldn’t they be speaking out on this issue?
Nyikayaramba is also on record as saying the MDC-T will not be allowed to
campaign in rural areas without the permission of chiefs.
“Those who defy orders will be dealt with accordingly by our deployed
Is that not a serious encroachment on the right to assembly and speech? Why
is nobody saying anything?

We were amused by ZTV’s attempt to place a spin on Tendai Biti’s budget.
First we had a lone Supa Mandiwanzira complaining about insufficient funds
being allocated to the indigenisation sector. ZTV clearly didn’t think it
might be a good idea to have other voices heard. The interviewer provided a
classic example of unchallenging questions.
He then asked another interviewee if the allocation of resources to health
and education could be regarded as “populist” seeing these were “MDC
There was nobody to tell him that Zanu PF invariably prioritised these
ministries since 1980 on the grounds of national need!

There has been a large number of condolences published for the family of
Police Deputy Commissioner-General Barbra Mandizha. Sadly many of them were
The Attorney-General’s office was spelt “the Attorney’s G-Generals’s office”;
then we had “the Attorney-Generals, Honourable Jahannes (sic) Tomana; Deputy
Attorneys-Generals, Directors, Officers and the entire staff of the
Attorney-General’s office…
“The loss id not yours alone,” we were told.
Who compiled “thid” poorly crafted tribute? Hopefully not someone in the
“Attorney’s G-Generals’s office”!

We were interested to note Saviour Kasukuwere’s remarks at the “Independent
Dialogue” meeting last week. Any British investor thinking of coming into
the country would be looked at “very negatively”, he said. He would use the
Malaysian expression “Buy British Last,” he said.
This represented a slap in the face for British ambassador Mark Canning who
has worked hard to generate British investment in Zimbabwe. And what was the
purpose of all those investment indabas held under the auspices of the GNU
and addressed by President Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara?
What a waste of time!

What was striking in all this was the ridiculous claim that indigenisation
titans like Kasukuwere were somehow thwarted in their ambitions by Britain’s
sanctions policy.
In the same week we saw an advertisement in the paper announcing that Ray
Kaukonde had taken control of Mike Harris Motors. And how many other
businesses have been acquired by Kasukuwere, Kaukonde, Philip Chiyangwa and
others? Have they been thwarted in their ambitions by the wicked Breetish?
Doesn’t look much like it does it? Kasukuwere looks bigger every time we see
him! And he should have disclosed that the “Buy British Last” slogan was a
product of Mahathir Mohammad during a dispute with Margaret Thatcher in the
early 1980s. Mahathir has been long out of office and relations between
Britain and Malaysia have been cordial under his successors.

The main reason that Sadc leaders took a watching brief on Zimbabwe in 2008
was to prevent Zanu PF’s populist policies impacting negatively on the
Doesn’t look as if they succeeded does it? All those Sadc countries that
profess to be supporting Mugabe are pursing investment-friendly policies.
Zimbabwe, thanks to Kasukuwere and company, is completely out of step.

Finally, news of a dramatic breakthrough on the diplomatic front. President
Mugabe held talks in Tripoli with the Macedonian Prime Minister Nikola
Who? We hadn’t heard of him either. But the Herald’s report suggests a
rather pathetic need for friends. Grueski, we note was very careful to point
out that his country was not a member of the EU with no part to play in the
“illegal” sanctions. Actually, he didn’t say “illegal”, the Herald just
popped it in!
And our old friend Alexander Kanengoni can’t understand why British
ambassador Mark Canning should “have the courage to suggest that his
government is more concerned about us than our own government and he expects
us to believe it”.

Actually, everybody believes it. Where does Kanengoni think all the food
comes from in parts of the country immersed in hardship? Which countries
have responded to Zimbabwe’s humanitarian crisis with goodwill and
generosity? Britain, the US and EU.
No sign of the Chinese in all this! And we should note the Herald launched a
campaign against productive farmers on Wednesday just in case some
unpatriotic individuals were contemplating agricultural recovery. Was Mr
Henk Terblanche told why Isdore Guvamombe wanted a picture of him?
So we were not surprised to hear of countries staying away from the
EU/Africa summit.
They don’t want to provide a platform for demagogues. But we would like to
have heard more about Col Gaddafi’s “nurse”, a blonde Ukrainian lady we are
told, courtesy of WikiLeaks.

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Eric Bloch: Recognising reality, lacking resolve

Thursday, 02 December 2010 18:07

IN presenting his 2011 budget to parliament last week, the Minister of
Finance Tendai Biti demonstrated that he clearly has his finger on the pulse
of the Zimbabwean economy, with considerable awareness of not only the
debilitated state of the economy, but also of the immense and diverse
challenges confronting economic recovery.  Without fear or favour, he
enumerated 37 key challenges, saying that they fell into four main areas,
being political, social, institutional and economic.

Political challenges

    * Political challenges around the Government of National Unity (GNU),
and discord in the


    * Lack of certainty on the tenure of the GNU.

    * Global Political Agreement contestation and outstanding issues.

    * Democracy and rule of law deficit.

    * The cyclical and turbulent nature of the country’s politics.

    * Lack of finality to the land reform programme.

    * Lack of definition of a clear land tenure system.

    * Zimbabwe’s isolation and lack of integration.

Social challenges

    * Poverty and unemployment.

    * Huge numbers of vulnerable, including households with chronic
illnesses, and child-headed households.

    * Weak social delivery in education and health.


    * Lack of competitiveness.

    * Huge bureaucracy and red tape.

    * High cost of doing business.

    * Absence of public confidence in public institutions, including
parastatals and government departments.

    * High levels of leakage and arbitrage.

    * Polarised spaces, in particular in the media.

    * Huge levels of public and private mistrust.

Most of all, Biti identified 20 economic challenges:

    * Lack of fiscal space.

    * Absence of alternative instruments other than the fiscus.

    * Lack of foreign direct investment.

    * Lack of liquidity.

    * Poor infrastructure.

    * Labour market inflexibility.

    * High cost of utilities.

    * Energy shortages.

    * Skills gap.

    * Lack of absorption capacity.

    * Debt overhang.

    * Management of public resources.

    * Capacity stagnation.

    * Low aggregate demand.

    * Low wage equilibrium.

    * High unemployment.

    * Dichotomies and contradictions.

    * Greatly improved macro-economic conditions but difficult business

    * Unintegrated informal sector.

    * Unintegrated rural economy.

Having demonstrated such incisive awareness of many of the greatest
challenges faced by Zimbabwe, its economy, and its populace, it is
incomprehensible that the minister then failed to match his recognition of
realities by effective, constructive resolve to reverse (or, at the least,
minimise) those challenges.  The realities of Zimbabwe’s constrained
circumstances, and the minister’s resolve to address those realities, were
in various respects far apart.  Foremost in his failure to match realities
with resolve is that:

    * He intends to lower customs duties on clothing, textiles and footwear.
At one time Zimbabwe was a major producer of those products, employing many
thousands of workers, aiding the trade balance, generating substantial
revenues for the fiscus, and generally contributing markedly to the economy.
But that was in days of yore, for now much of those industries are
grievously emaciated.  Most of the manufacturers have had to downsize
operations very considerably, markedly contributing to Zimbabwe’s pronounced
unemployment and poverty, and to economic downturn.

To a monolithic extent, the substantial devastation of those industries, and
the resultant negative economic effects, has been driven by the flooding of
Zimbabwe with imports.  In the main, those imports are from Far East
suppliers who are beneficiaries of immense export subsidies. Moreover, much
of the imports have entered Zimbabwe illicitly, with avoidance of customs
duties.  Now the minister intends to facilitate even greater imports
competition by reducing duties.  Instead, he should simultaneously be
increasing the duties and tightening controls to contain illegal

    * He has increased, from January 2011, the tax-free threshold for
employees from US$175 to US$225 per month.  Admittedly, that is some minor
assist to the oppressed lower-income earners, but the resolve to address the
reality of intense poverty was very inadequate, for the minister will still
be taxing the impoverished, the desperately poverty-stricken.  As at October
2010, the Poverty Datum Line for a family of five was approximately US$480.
Assuming such family has two income earners, one generating US$300 per
month, and the other, say, US$180 per month, the minimum tax threshold
should be US$300, and not US$225.  The new threshold still taxes the poor
harshly, compounding their hardships (over and above that they are subject
to indirect taxes such as Vat).

    * The minister soundly recognised that Zimbabwe must pursue major
economic development  and growth, and that necessitates major investment.

However, he failed to match that recognition with any evident resolve to
achieve it, for no investment incentives and facilitations were included in
the budget statement.
Whilst the minister is deserving of great commendation for his unhesitant
identification of Zimbabwe’s economic ills and their causes, he needed to
match that with appropriate fiscal policies and measures, but did not
sufficiently do so.

Eric Bloch

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Biti’s budget: The bouquets and brickbats

Thursday, 02 December 2010 18:06

AS Finance minister in Zimbabwe, it is hard to put a smile on everyone’s
Ask Tendai Biti, who last week presented his second national budget. Unions
representing workers want more dole for their members and are quick to
criticise, while Zanu PF wants more funds allocated to ministries headed by
their officials and indigenisation groups want money to take over
foreign-owned companies worth over US$500 000.
The state broadcaster, ZBC, attacked Biti’s budget’s statement left, right
and centre. It has become a post-budget tradition.
Even after committing funds to key sectors such as agriculture, health and
education, Biti still took flak from former ZBC news anchor and Affirmative
Action Group president Supa Mandiwanzira for committing a “paltry” US$5
million for empowerment, which he described as an “insult”.
Then came the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions president Lovermore Matombo,
who said Biti’s adjustment of tax-free income thresholds would not benefit
Economist David Mupamhadzi said Biti should create more fiscal space to
ensure that other national priorities are catered for outside the budget.
He commended Biti for confining his budget largely in line with 2010
domestic revenue patterns and discounting vote of credit performance.
Mupamhadzi said: “Given the theme of the 2011 National budget of creating a
fair economy, the allocations by the Minister of Finance were largely
consistent with this. Furthermore in line with the pro-poor developmental
thrust that the budget was focusing on more resources went to social and
economic ministries.”
“Thus the budget allocations by the Minister of Finance were in tandem with
the policy thrust that was outlined in the statement,” he said adding that:
“The budget size for 2011 was largely consistent with the domestic revenue
trend for 2010, and the Minister of Finance was also prudent to discount the
performance of the Vote of Credit in the 2011 national budget, largely
because funds for the Vote of Credit do not come directly to Treasury and
also the inflows are not likely to be significant.”
Nathaniel Manheru, a Herald columnist believed to be President Robert Mugabe’s
spokesperson George Charamba, attacked the budget claiming it was
imperialistic and neo-colonial.
Other economic commentators said Biti handled his budget well, appeasing
some of his critics and sticking to the theme of creating a fair economy.
The MDC-T naturally praised the budget as a product of wide consultation and
a pro-poor budget.
It said: “The national budget, a brainchild of Biti and a result of
extensive consultations countrywide, reflects a radical departure of
previous national financial plans and projections in that it emphasises
measurable growth targets, subjects itself to the needs of the poor, accepts
and recognises the central role of civil servants and demonstrates the MDC’s
solidarity with the peasantry.”
While the ZCTU expressed mixed views over the budget, analysts said a civil
service salary increase of about 100% would improve disposable incomes and
lift aggregate demand in the economy.
This, analysts said, would see retailers enjoying good business right
through to suppliers.
“The substantial increase in government salaries — amounting to more than
100% — will without doubt increase aggregate demand in the economy because
government currently employs the highest number of people in the economy,”
said Tetrad. “The increased disposable incomes will be a major boost to
retailers and indeed their suppliers. In addition, the wage increase in the
public service is likely to spark wage increases in the private sector.”
However, Mupamhadzi said given the size of the budget (US$3,2 billion), and
the “cash budget principle”  guiding the economy, more effort should be put
in creating fiscal space to ensure that some of the key priorities are
covered outside the budget.
But Biti said his budget was conservative. He hoped more revenue would be
realised to the tune of US$3,5 million.
“I see massive growth of this economy in 2011. I had planned for US$8
billion GDP by 2015, but we will achieve it next year. I have, however,
discounted the other growth potential in mining next year. Bindura Nickel
Corporation will reopen and we will have another Zimplats as more platinum
mines will open,” said Biti.
Mupamhadzi said distortions on the calculation of the size of the Zimbabwe
economy is one of the key challenges that the country was currently facing.
“Given the high level of informalisation of the economy, it is very
difficult to capture all the activities in the country to determine an
accurate GDP figure,” he said adding that:  “Zimstats should, however,
assist the nation by coming up with more credible statistics after carrying
out comprehensive industrial surveys. The revision of the GDP figure for
2009, from US$3,5 billion to US$5,6 billion clearly shows that a lot is
missing in the calculation of the GDP.”
Analysts said the fiscal policy statement was generally positive as Treasury
sought to consolidate the gains achieved since dollarisation.
Unlike in the past, analysts said, there was now a strong desire by
government to curtail recurrent expenditure as evidenced by the calls for
officials to limit international travel and the “containment of wage
 demands” by public servants, with government paying in line with revenue
performance among other factors.
Tetrad said: “Strict adherence to cash budgeting is expected to strengthen a
culture of fiscal prudence unlike in the past when money was spent
wastefully with consequences such as ballooning government debt in a bid to
cover the deficits as well as excessive printing of bills. That fiscal
discipline underpins the economic stability — as evidenced by low levels of
inflation — and the projections for strong economic growth.”

Chris Muronzi

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The mythical effect of ‘illegal sanctions’

Thursday, 02 December 2010 18:04

I HAD just left parliament after the presentation of the 2011 budget last
Thursday and turned on my car radio to listen to the ZBC. I was shocked by
what I heard. The commentator was asking a young man what he thought of the
budget and the first thing he said was that Finance minister Tendai Biti had
done nothing to address the problem of sanctions. It was the “illegal
sanctions against Zimbabwe” that were holding back economic recovery and
inhibiting Zimbabwe’s industrial and agricultural sectors.

His next comment was just as ludicrous — the much-vaunted support from the
international community had once again failed to materialise, even though
Biti was their “bright eyed boy”.

I attended a meeting at the MDC headquarters and said that we should demand
decent and informed debate on the budget on both ZBC and ZTV. What I had
heard was complete nonsense and did nothing to enhance the broadcaster’s
already tarnished reputation. The others at the meeting agreed with me but
said that the two state-controlled mass media institutions would never allow
such debate.

I will not dwell on the budget, as that will be the subject of a great deal
of debate and analysis in the next few weeks as it goes through the House.
But I do think that a couple of features and the role of the international
community and the diaspora need a mention.

The first is the issue of just how are we doing when it comes to economic
recovery? From 1997 to 2008 the national estimate of economic output in real
terms (constant dollars) declined from US$8,7 billion in 1997 to US$4,2
billion in 2008 (source: the IMF). The decline in the productive sector was
even more precipitate — agriculture by over 70%, industry by 80%, tourism by
80% and mining by about 25%. This led in turn to a 40% decline in
employment — almost all the losses in the above sectors of the economy.

In the financial sector the collapse was total, the combined value of all
the cash in circulation falling to a miserable US$6 million in 2008.
Inflation simply consumed the savings of the whole country and of all
previous generations, millions were plunged into penury. All banks and
financial institutions without exception were bankrupted in legal terms. The
economy was left like a city after a neutron bomb had been exploded above
it — buildings standing but all life extinguished.

Zanu PF knew what they had done and they knew how to fix it. When it became
apparent, even to them, that this was the end of the road economically, the
acting Minister of Finance (Patrick Chinamasa) stood up in parliament and
abandoned the Zimbabwe dollar and cut the economy adrift from the Reserve
Bank, which had been the main means of plundering the national economy. I
went up to him after that speech and said that I thought it had been a
courageous and timely statement. He looked somewhat bemused as we seldom had
anything good to say about them.

In the subsequent month we collected US$5 million in revenue from the whole
country. Now, 21 months later, how do we stand?

Well firstly, the overall economy has recovered quite significantly with the
latest IMF report saying that their estimate of GDP is now US$8 billion for
2011. That is a huge jump from US$4,2 billion in 2008 (90% in three years).
This is partly because the IMF has changed the basis on which they calculate
the GDP but it also reflects the recovery in the economy and the
formalisation of many economic activities that were previously unrecorded
because they were in the informal sector.

Industrial capacity utilisation is now just over 40% compared to 10% in 2008
and the mining industry has expanded significantly — mainly gold and
platinum, although diamonds must now be generating a significant turnover if
we can ever get it under control and out in the open. The financial sector
has recovered with deposits now standing at US$2,4 billion and rising by
about US$80 million a month. The latest estimates also point to improved
agricultural output but I think the figures are questionable.

What is not questionable is the massive increase in tax revenues now about
US$200 million a month and still rising. In fact the total budget for 2009
was only US$1 billion; in 2010 it will be about double that figure and Biti
is estimating $2,7 billion in 2011.

As far as foreign aid is concerned the minister really confused people this
year by including an estimate of US$500 million in the budget as a “Vote of
Credit” and this simply failed to materialise. In the new budget he has
dropped the pretence and not put in any estimate for foreign aid.

This was a much more sensible thing to do as it reflects the political
realities of the day and the reluctance of the international donor community
to put their funds under Ministry of Finance control at present.

Zanu PF and their lackeys in the service of the state media interpret this
as the failure of the international community to support the country and
continually interpret this as being “sanctions”. In fact, the international
community has been and continues to be incredibly generous to the country
despite our misbehaviour and continued failure to put our house in order. In
the past three years, foreign aid to Zimbabwe has hovered about US$800
million a year — 20% of GDP in 2008 when they provided food aid for over
half the population and 10% of GDP in the current year.

Total foreign aid to Zimbabwe since 2000 (all of it in the form of grant
aid) has in fact exceeded the total combined foreign aid received by
Zimbabwe from Independence in 1980 to the year 2000. In 2010 foreign aid has
exceeded US$800 million — half of it being disbursed on humanitarian
assistance in one form or another. In addition they have started to fund the
provision of social services very substantially— US$200 million to health,
over US$100 million to education and US$50 million to water and sanitation.
Nearly 90% of this has come from a group of states that call themselves the
“Friends of Zimbabwe”.
This group was called into existence in 2007 at the G8 summit chaired by
former British Prime Minister Tony Blair and now comprises 17 countries.
(China, Russia, India and Japan are not part of this grouping. Their
combined aid programmes are minuscule by comparison with the G8 grouping.)
Within the Friends group, the leading states are the US with over one third
of all aid, the UK with 14%, Germany and Norway with about 7% each.

The UN agencies are quite significant but the bulk of their efforts are
funded by the bilaterals — of which the friends constitute the majority of

When combined with the budget at 30% of GDP, the aid flows raise the total
of state sponsored expenditure to 40% of GDP.

Not as high in many other third world states but still very significant and
making a huge contribution to national economic welfare. Add to this the
total for remittances from the diaspora of about US$1,2 billion and these
three elements constitute over half our economy and explain why we can
continue to live beyond our means even though the Zanu PF government has
destroyed our productive economy.

Eddie Cross is MDC-T MP for Bulawayo South.

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The last days of Robert Mugabe

Thursday, 02 December 2010 18:01

PETER Godwin’s book The Fear: The Last Days of Mugabe  is a moving,
evocative and strangely tender book. It is a 349-page love letter to
Zimbabwe and it is also a book of mourning. Godwin mourns his father and his
parents’ past life in Zimbabwe; he mourns a country that has changed beyond
recognition and he mourns the suffering of those who opposed President
Robert Mugabe.
Insofar as it is a memoir of degeneration, mirrored in the fate of his
family’s Zimbabwean farm, and witnessed in the company of his sister, it is
a book that is deeply personal. It is capable, however, of irony, as when
Godwin and his sister do manage to visit the old farm to find it dilapidated
but under the supervision of the apologetic, English-educated employee of
its new owners. This, though, is one of the rare occasions where a character
is couched in ambivalence rather than given a hardened moral and political
The subtitle, The Last Days of Robert Mugabe, is drawn from Godwin’s trip
back to Zimbabwe just after the first round of the 2008 elections when it
seemed, finally, Mugabe had lost. I was there for this period and it was
clear that Morgan Tsvangirai had won the presidency with 56%. Mugabe had
secured somewhat less than 40%. By machinations, rigging and intimidation he
held on to power. Godwin recounts the certainly accurate rumours that Mugabe
did almost stand down, until a fateful politburo meeting of his party
dissuaded him. The book looks to a future when he will finally go because of
the continuing courage of those who resist him. Godwin is unequivocal about
Mugabe. He can’t wait for him to go.
But this means that Mugabe, who is the sinister backdrop of the entire book,
and whose powerful personality breathes life into the opposition arrayed
against him, is simultaneously the book’s weakest link. He has to carry too
much. As with so much Western policy towards Zimbabwe, the problems of the
country have been personalised in one man to the extent that he is
caricatured and the complex blend of forces, which he represents but does
not by himself constitute, are acknowledged more in passing than in real
The forces within Zanu PF are profound. In some ways, the military and
intelligence hierarchy resemble those in the last days of apartheid South
Africa. There, it was called the era of the securocrats and this term has
now entered popular parlance in Zimbabwe. However, the securocrats are
themselves a varied bunch. Some supported the third presidential candidate
in 2008, Simba Makoni, and Mugabe’s rigging had to steal almost as many
votes from Makoni as from Tsvangirai.
Zanu PF has its own technocratic wing that would like to see a more
equitable accommodation with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and
the high-stakes chess game between Mugabe loyalists and the more moderate
technocrats is not reflected in Godwin’s book. Nor is the deep suspicion
that the hard-line securocrats are not Mugabe loyalists at all, but his
Similarly, the complexity and divisions of MDC politics are submerged under
a blanket label of bravery and suffering. The fact that the MDC is sometimes
capable of being its own worst enemy seldom emerges. Tsvangirai, a hugely
courageous leader, has not necessarily been a good prime minister and his
performance cannot be entirely blamed on the harassment he has suffered from
Zanu PF.
The split within the MDC is not seriously treated by Godwin, so that the
complex foundation of the MDC-Mutambara splinter party is not given its
place, and nor is the fact that, when the MDC divided, its best political
and technocratic figures preferred Mutambara to Tsvangirai.
Rather than provide real analysis, Godwin presents us with a terrifying
morality play where the truly heroic are good and those in Mugabe’s Zanu PF
party are, like Mugabe himself, evil. But this, in a way, is also the book’s
great achievement: not so much its unnuanced characterisation of evil, but
its commemoration, its bearing witness to the truly heroic. None will read
it without being moved by the examples of commitment to democracy that make
voters and activists in the West pale by comparison. The accounts of torture
and murder are terrifying.
Godwin’s narrative is superb and spare in recounting the tales of courage,
just as his patient descriptions of the landscape give a masterly context to
what is perpetuated and endured. When Godwin describes courage and defiance,
he does so without embellishment. Godwin shows what a good writer he is by
almost under-writing the strongest parts of his book.
But he cannot answer the questions posed by the MDC Finance minister, Tendai
Biti, brought into the compromise coalition government brokered by Thabo
Mbeki. Biti asked what happens when the struggle is personalised — all
against Mugabe — but Mugabe never goes? What strategies are left to seek to
improve, even a little, the predicament of Zimbabwe’s suffering people?
Godwin doesn’t try to answer Biti and I suspect he is as bemused as he is
impressed by one of the last testimonies he recounts, that of the MDC
municipal politician, Chenjerai Mangezo. This man was beaten so seriously by
Mugabe’s thugs that he was left for dead. He defied them with what he
thought was his last breath. Amazingly, he recovered but, even in his
painful convalescence, he insisted on attending the swearing-in ceremony of
the new council. He arrived in the back of a pick-up piled with mattresses
to cushion the pain of travelling, and entered the council chamber with both
legs in plaster casts. Godwin wonders how he sits there alongside those who
ordered his murder.
Finally, he attributes it to patience. He means a patience for justice.
It could also be an amazing pragmatism. After all the condemnations and the
cries for justice, someone has to make the country crawl forward.
Godwin’s is a book for Western readers who need to be reminded what courage
is. But it won’t help them understand the absurd nature of courage on the
part of people like Chenjerai Mangezo.
People look beyond Mugabe in more ways than one. They have more complex
things to deal with than can be accommodated even in superb narrative and
writing that, sadly, leaves us with the age-old Zimbabwean problem of seeing
things in binaries — bad and good, black and white.
The absurd courage of Biti and Mangezo is in their heroic, perhaps doomed,
effort to live with the devil, to refuse to be crushed by his handiwork, and
seek almost forlornly to repair it.

Professor Stephen Chan is the author of The End of Certainty.

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Candid Comment: WikiLeaks’ ‘cablegate’ good for journalism

Thursday, 02 December 2010 18:24

A TORRENT of condemnation by alarmed world leaders and their governments is
pouring down on the Swedish-based WikiLeaks, the controversial
whistle-blowing website, after the releases of thousands of United States
(US) war diaries and diplomatic cables which exposed Washington’s foreign
policy and military adventures.
The White House swiftly condemned the releases as “dangerous and reckless”.

No 10 Downing Street said the leaks were “threatening national security” of
Britain. This claim was predictably repeated by many other governments
across the world.

This has put the non-profit-making WikiLeaks editor-in-chief Julian Assange,
an award-winning investigative journalist and computer
hacker-cum-programmer, under siege. The US, which says he is a criminal,
wants him charged for espionage. Some people in the US say he should be shot
and one counterterrorism expert even volunteered to pull the trigger on him.

Reports say WikiLeaks and its members have complained about continuing
harassment and surveillance by law enforcement and intelligence
organisations, including extended detention, seizure of computers, veiled
threats, “covert following and hidden photography”.

In Sweden, investigations on rape charges against Assange are now
intensifying in the wake of cablegate — unprecedented leaks of the US
military and diplomatic cables. Assange is accused of raping two women
there, but he denies the charges.

The disclosures by WikiLeaks, which include more than 400 000 Iraq and
Afghanistan war diaries and over 250 000 diplomatic cables, have divided the
world. There is a consensus among governments that the leaks are appalling
and objectionable. Analysts are generally divided; some say they are bad,
others say they are either good or don’t really matter. Others say they are
a watershed and will change the art of statecraft, while some say they are
just a nuisance and will disappear into oblivion with time.

While it is clear that the releases endanger the lives of American
diplomats, servicemen and contacts — who may be targeted by terrorists,
ruthless regimes and intelligence organisations — the documents are also a
useful treasure trove for historians, researchers, and journalists.

This was particularly necessary in this world of today where people are
forced to see things through binary vision.

From a purely journalistic point of view, WikiLeaks did a great job. The
release of the files represents the triumph of investigative journalism. The
breakthrough is a victory for probing journalism which leaves no stone
unturned despite the attempts by government to conceal information and the
truth from citizens on the pretext of national security.

The rise of WikiLeaks marks a fundamental shift away from the old-school or
gate-keeping journalism. We need brave and forthright journalism which seeks
to publish all information, be it in government or private sector hands, in
the public interest.

No matter how much deceitful politicians and their grovelling sycophants, as
well as corrupt public and private sector officials, might try to hide their
crimes, investigative journalists will unearth the facts and establish the
truth through this scientific approach to journalism.

Assange says that WikiLeaks has released more classified documents than the
rest of the world press combined: “That’s not something I say as a way of
saying how successful we are — rather, that shows you the parlous state of
the rest of the media. How is it that a team of five people has managed to
release to the public more suppressed information, at that level, than the
rest of the world press combined? It’s disgraceful,” he said recently.

Dumisani Muleya

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Editor's Memo: Chihuri’s reckless utterances instructive

Thursday, 02 December 2010 18:21

UTTERANCES by Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri last Friday
gives substance to calls for immediate security sector reforms if President
Robert Mugabe continues to press for needless elections next year.
Addressing junior officers from a trip to liberation struggle shrines in
Mozambique, Chihuri said it was of “paramount importance” for the officers
to have a “deeper, accurate, comprehensive understanding of the history of
the country, particularly its tortuous journey to Independence”, adding that
they should vote wisely in next year’s polls.

Then came the sucker punch:  “This country came through blood and the barrel
of the gun and it can never be re-colonised through a simple pen, which
costs as little as five cents.”

Such brinkmanship and reckless statements from the top cop should be taken
seriously given that Chihuri was one of the service chiefs who a few years
ago vowed never to salute anyone, even if they won free and fair elections,
if they did not have war credentials.

These hardliners have no respect for the ballot and it has been alleged and
never denied that they were behind the bloody June 2008 presidential
election run-off campaign, which the MDC-T asserted claimed about 200 lives
of its supporters. Thousands were injured and displaced.

What is instructive about Chihuri’s utterances is if the polls go ahead next
year they should produce one result — victory for President Robert Mugabe
and Zanu PF. Any other result would not be acceptable to Chihuri and those
of his ilk because the “country came through blood and the barrel of the

Does the top cop want to turn this country into a police state? In Chihuri’s
opaque world, voting out his master Mugabe through a five-cent pen is
tantamount to re-colonisation. This is cheap social engineering with no
takers. Nobody today wants to be locked in the sterile mantras of the past.
Today’s generation wants the opportunities their counterparts in the region
and abroad enjoy.

At this critical time in our country, we do not need such kinds of
retrogressive elements. People like Chihuri, who occupy high office in the
security sector and dabble in politics, have two options — stick to their
constitutional mandate or quit.

The Police Act is very clear on political meddling. He should not sacrifice
the law on the altar of a self-serving political agenda.

By urging junior officers to vote wisely, judging by his previous remarks he
meant that they should vote for Mugabe and Zanu PF. This is unacceptable in
a democracy. The force should not operate like a militia. They should not
operate like an attack dog of a particular party.

Chihuri’s utterances exhibited the need for security reforms that would see
those who want to dabble in politics leave the sector to concentrate on
politics. We also need reforms to restore professionalism in the police,
army and the intelligence service. Service chiefs, generals and senior
officers who cannot remain apolitical should be eased out of the security

The commissioner-general should know better than most that a police state is
repressive. He is a veteran of our liberation struggle and I strongly
believe that he took up arms to fight against a police state. Why is he now
agitating for that state he fought to dismantle? His utterances portray the
country as lawless and with no respect for constitutional order.

Chihuri should grasp how that discredits the force and the country.

Constantine Chimakure

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Comment: Govt, business dialogue crucial

Thursday, 02 December 2010 18:19

VICE President Joice Mujuru was spot on when she emphasised the need for
open communication between central government and business.
Mujuru, speaking at the Ernst and Young Dialogue, held in Harare on
Wednesday, stated the obvious, saying there should be clear and open lines
of communication between business and government, but the reason why we say
“bravo” to her is that this has been lacking.

Government has in the past few years been cocooning itself and had become
impervious to ideas and advice from business as well as other groups
including labour and churches. The result of government’s move to isolate
itself from other players has been the policy failure we have seen has cost
the country dearly.

Ruinous policies which come to mind include land reform implemented in 2000,
Operation Murambatsvina in 2005, price slashes in 2007 and of late
indigenisation regulations. There was no dialogue in the first three and
there is a a danger that the indigenisation policy could go the same way.

It is thus heartening to note that finally government has realised that
policies, that is the process by which authorities translate their political
vision into programmes and actions to deliver outcomes need to be informed
by other players outside the state.

Mujuru told businesspeople that they should feel free to make suggestions to
government, something that is refreshing and a good step in the right

Business, like any other interest group, is very important in any policy
cycle and the call by the vice-president, if taken seriously, would be one
of the key elements towards policy success. Failures, past and present, can
be attributed to an inability to consult on the part of government.

Using a structured approach, the public policy cycle follows five stages,
namely agenda setting (problem identification), policy formulation,
adoption, implementation and evaluation. The input of business as well as
other interest groups is very important in each of the stages.

Business is affected by government policy and it would be extreme arrogance
not to dialogue with them at each of the stages. If we are to take Mujuru’s
word, then the light is finally showing for the authorities and we expect an
improvement in delivery.

We expect that the current indigenisation regulations, which Mujuru told a
wide spectrum of businesspeople who attended the dialogue meeting on
Wednesday were not all about grabbing wealth, would be informed by input
from business as well as other interest groups, not the usual cabal of
activists who pretend to represent the people of Zimbabwe.

Business, which will be affected by the indigenisation policy, has since the
announcement of the regulations earlier this year came up with various
models and suggestions on how it has to be implemented.

However, while we commend the vice-president, we remain cautious and
sceptical as saying one thing is different from implementing it and the
history of policy implementation in Zimbabwe has proven that despite
impressive blueprints, there has been a glaring inability to implement them.

As a politician, Mujuru could have read the mood of the audience she was
addressing and could have told them what they wanted to hear, and until we
see changes in the approach to various policies, we are justified in
qualifying our comment.

The audience Mujuru addressed comprised businesspeople who highlighted
challenges they faced, especially regarding the effort to revive industry
which has staggered despite institution of a government of national unity
and the adoption of multiple currencies last year.

The businesspeople should be commended for their stand on elections, which
they say should be delayed arguing that if they were held early, they would
disrupt the gains realised so far. It remains to be seen if this vital input
would influence government policy in the short term or it would be back to
the usual aloofness which has come to characterise our policy makers.

The businesspeople also encouraged government to start talking with all
international partners as a means of attracting foreign direct investment.
This is vital as government, by its own admission, has failed to attract as
much investment into the country as it would have wanted.

As the saying goes “The test of the pudding is in the eating”.

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