Chombo/Zanu PF planned Mudzuri ouster Augustine
Mukaro/Conrad Dube THE dismissal of former Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri earlier
this year was planned by Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo and Zanu
PF officials at Town House well before investigations into allegations of
incompetence and corruption against the mayor were launched.
of the transcript of a government-appointed probe team says the acting mayor
Sekesai Makwavarara and town clerk Nomutsa Chideya told the investigating
team led by James Kurasha of the need to oust Mudzuri from the time he
Makwavarara and Chideya stated in their submissions
that they wanted Mudzuri fired from Town House because he was an obstacle to
a Zanu PF takeover.
Makwavarara was at the time deputy mayor elected
on an opposition MDC ticket.
Mudzuri won the 2002 mayoral
election to become the first elected opposition mayor for the capital city
but was suspended barely a year into office.
A transcript from the
Kurasha Report, a copy of which is in the hands of the Independent, shows
that Makwavarara and Chideya recommended Mudzuri's dismissal alleging that
he was difficult to work with.
Chombo appointed the Kurasha committee
three months after suspending Mudzuri. The findings of the committee were
never made public.
The nine-member committee was made up of Kurasha,
Shingi Mutumbwa, Tendai Savanhu, Retired Major Kudzai Mbudzi, retired senior
assistant commissioner Elisha Tavengwa, George Mlilo, Stephen Chakaipa, and
Stephen Abel Hlatshwayo.
Giving evidence before the committee,
Makwavarara said Mudzuri should be fired since he was a "blocking
"The mayor must be fired for the good of Harare," Makwavarara
"If you say you have fired him, oh, yah, it will work. That is the
only solution because he is the blocking stand. He is the blocking
Makwavarara also recommended the suspension and dismissal of
some councillors to whip them into line.
Chideya told the
committee that from the onset he was not comfortable working with Mudzuri
and so he had encouraged him to resign soon after he was sworn
"I actually wanted him trapped and unfortunately the wheel of
justice takes its time," Chideya said.
"I mean I am aware that
the mayor was not comfortable in our own family
situation. I am actually
married to a CIO operative, my wife works for the president's
Committee members in their deliberations made it clear that
there was no way government could have reinstated Mudzuri.
is no way in government's normal senses Mudzuri could be reinstated because
it would throw council back further, in fact if he comes back after this, he
will be worse off," Mlilo said. "It would be a tyranny, he would really be a
Mlilo recommended that Mudzuri be incarcerated.
mean, from what you heard, especially with all misuse of public funds, he is
fit to be jailed."
Hlatshwayo, the transcript shows, was of the idea
that the committee immediately recommend to Chombo to relieve Mudzuri of his
"We don't have to wait for October 31 which could be extended
and we are still in August, two months down the line and the city is
suffering and falling apart while we wait to submit a report," the member
Security agents on high alert Gift Phiri GOVERNMENT
has placed a crack army battalion and riot police units on high alert and
directed them to crush planned December 10 protests by Cosatu, the South
African labour body, over human rights abuses by President Robert Mugabe,
top security sources said this week.
Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi
yesterday declined to comment on the revelations saying: "It's a security
item I am not ready to discuss with the press."
dismissed as misleading media reports suggesting that President Thabo Mbeki
had bullied them into a postponement.
Cosatu spokesperson Patrick
Craven, speaking in a telephone interview from Johannesburg, said the strike
action was going ahead as planned.
"They are just reports we read on
zimonline (a Zimbabwean news website) but certainly we are going ahead as
planned," Craven said.
"This was the resolution out of a central
executive committee last week. We have received overwhelming support from
other trade unions in Zimbabwe, Zambia and Botswana."
security sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that government's Joint
Operations Command (JOC), a think-tank of top military and security
officials, had mapped out a broad plan to crack down on the mass action
being planned by the Congress of South African Trade Unions and other
regional civic bodies.
The plan, devised by JOC over the past two
weeks as tensions rise in South Africa over human rights abuses in Zimbabwe,
envisages the deployment of heavy security at all embassies and heightened
day-and-night police patrols at the Beitbridge border post in the coming
This came as Cosatu and the ruling African National Congress
(ANC) party traded insults over President Thabo Mbeki's failure to resolve
Zimbabwe's multifaceted crisis.
The differences over Zimbabwe
threaten to split South Africa's tripartite alliance led by the ANC, which
also includes the South African Communist Party (SACP).
Independent was told that the police had started deploying officers to
Beitbridge to quell any unrest when Cosatu and its partner, human rights
watchdog Amnesty International, attempt to blockade Zimbabwe's lifeline on
the frontier with main trading partner, South Africa.
yesterday: "We will be mobilising our sister unions to also express their
anger with the worsening human rights situation in Zimbabwe. There will be
demos outside all Zimbabwean embassies in the region. We are also mobilising
other civic bodies to stage protests in Zimbabwe."
following the rounding up and expulsion of a fact-finding mission by the
Zimbabwean authorities in October, the labour body had decided to send
another mission, this time led by Cosatu president Willie Madisha and the
combative secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi.
Security agencies were
racing to gather information on what the government alleges is the
involvement of a foreign nation in the planned mass action. The government
has said it will "brook no interference in our internal
The JOC, consisting of the ministers of Defence, State
Security and Home Affairs and also heads of the army, police, the secret
service, the air force and prisons, has reportedly resolved to take decisive
action against "malcontents and mischief makers" determined to cause
lawlessness within the vicinity of the border post and in other parts of the
The ministers of Defence and State Security were not
immediately available yesterday to comment on the plan as they were said to
be "tied up with party business".
Chiefs at Tsholotsho indaba threatened Loughty
Dube THE government has threatened to take action against chiefs that took
part in the clandestine "Tsholotsho Declaration" meeting that has seen six
Zanu PF provincial chairmen suspended and a government minister facing
Four chiefs out of five attended the
prize-giving ceremony at Dinyane Secondary School where Justice minister
Patrick Chinamasa officiated.
The traditional leaders who attended the
prize-giving ceremony are chiefs Tategulu, Gampu, Magama and
Tsholotsho has five chiefs but the replacement for Chief
Dlodlo who passed away earlier this year has not yet been
The prize-giving ceremony was also attended by several
government ministers and provincial chairmen of Zanu PF who have since been
suspended from the party for attending a meeting that was not sanctioned by
the party's commissariat. The chiefs in Tsholotsho never miss out on any
function that is organised by Information minister Jonathan Moyo and have in
the past been used to mobilise people for Zanu PF rallies.
Government minister Ignatious Chombo this week said the party was awaiting a
report from the Matabeleland North governor Obert Mpofu that would clarify
whether the chiefs in Tsholotsho participated in the "illegal proceedings"
at the meeting.
"We are waiting to be advised by the governor of the
area on whether the chiefs were part of any clandestine meeting and if it is
established that they were involved in any of the shady dealings, then
appropriate action is going to be taken against them," said
Efforts to contact Mpofu proved fruitless as he was attending
the Zanu PF congress in Harare.
Chombo further said his ministry
wants to establish in what capacity the chiefs attended the
"There is need to find out in what capacity the chiefs
attended the meeting.
Did they go there as locals or they went for a
different agenda? If they went for a different agenda then appropriate
action will be taken against them," Chombo said.
comment on whether his ministry was not doing independent investigations
into the matter, Chombo said the governor in any area was the one
responsible for local governance issues and would advise the
"We will have to await communication from Mpofu since he is
the person who deals with local governance issues in the province but so far
he has not given us any information," said Chombo.
meeting has caused a lot of furore in ruling party circles with all those
involved in the so-called "Tsholotsho Declaration" absolving themselves of
President Mugabe has threatened stern action against
those that organised the meeting that saw some officials being flown to the
constituency in a hired plane.
Government to import 300 000t of SA maize Itai
Dzamara GOVERNMENT has submitted an order to purchase about 300 000 tonnes of
maize from South Africa to cover the looming deficit.
Sources at the
Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and South African Grain Services last week said
Zimbabwe has negotiated with the South African government for 300 000 tonnes
of maize. The GMB has already received confirmation that the order will be
met, sources said.
GMB acting chief executive officer Samuel Muvuti
last week refused to comment on reports that government was importing
"I can't comment on that. If you say the maize will be
delivered wait for the time it will be delivered," Muvuti
Jaco Grobelaar, a Commodity Trading House economist in South
said he had heard reports that Zimbabwe had purchased maize from
South Africa. This followed the delivery two weeks ago of 1 808 tonnes of
white maize to Zimbabwe.
An official at the South African Grain
Service said another 5 000 tonnes of maize already paid for by the Zimbabwe
government had been delivered by the end of last week.
the GMB confirmed that there was maize, which was delivered to the Harare
depot last week.
The reports of maize imports from South Africa come
after the parliamentary portfolio committee on Lands, Agriculture and Rural
Resettlement recently established through a survey on food stocks
countrywide that the 2,4 million tonnes of maize forecast by government for
this year's harvest was hugely inflated.
The committee, which
visited GMB silos, said the country would more likely end up with a maximum
of 574 000 tonnes of maize this season.
The committee established
that government had ordered over 200 000 tonnes of maize from outside the
country by October despite denials by the GMB and Agriculture minister
Chidzonga, cop in wrangle over farm Conrad Dube A
FORMER member of parliament and a police officer are locked in a wrangle
over the ownership of a farm to which both have offer letters.
Zanu PF MP for Mhondoro Mavis Chidzonga and an Assistant Police Commissioner
Nyakutsikwa are at loggerheads over who should be occupying Idaho Farm in
The Zimbabwe Independent heard that Nyakutsikwa, in
possession of an offer letter from the Ministry of Lands, Land Reform and
Resettlement, called Chidzonga earlier this week and threatened her with
arrest if she resisted his occupation of the farm. Apparently Chidzonga also
has an offer letter from the ministry.
It has been established
that four CID officers, only identified as Madyise, Jena, Thomson and
Maphosa from Norton police, visited the property to ascertain who should
The four are said to have been in possession of a letter
of authority signed by deputy Police Commissioner Godwin Matanga to
investigate farmers who might have used political influence to access A2
Chidzonga confirmed that Nyakutsikwa called her and advised
her that he had been allocated the farm.
She denied owning two
farms saying the Idaho issue was once investigated when it was alleged that
she also owned Katawa Farm in Chegutu.
Chidzonga said the investigations
revealed that she did not own Katawa.
"This is the work of people bent on
tarnishing my image," she said.
"The people we exposed when I was a
member of the Utete Land Review committee are behind this but they have no
case as this issue was dealt with a long time ago. In any case, Nyakutsikwa
should be claiming title to Plot 1 instead of Plot 2 which was allocated to
Permanent secretary for Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement
Simon Pazvakavambwa said Nyakutsikwa was allocated Plot 1 while Chidzonga
was allocated Plot 2.
He said: "There should not be a problem
between the two because they have different plot numbers. I do not see why
there should be a conflict when it is clear that they own two different
Zanu PF on 'warpath'. again Itai Dzamara HORDES of
Zanu PF supporters thronging the ruling party's headquarters last Wednesday
could be a harbinger of scenes likely to dominate the political landscape in
the next four months to the election in March.
Zanu PF's belief in
mobocracy was manifest at the party headquarters where a hired crowd was
transported in Zupco buses from various centres. This reflects, observers
say, President Mugabe's fascination with crowds.
He uses them to
fathom grassroots support and to demonstrate political muscle to the
opposition, which seldom has the opportunity to do the same.
earlier promised that there would be "crackers" at the Wednesday politburo
meeting following upheavals in the ruling party over the nomination of the
second vice-president. Expectations were that Mugabe would crack down on the
camp headed by Zanu PF's secretary for administration Emmerson Mnangagwa who
was seen as the other challenger for the post.
Hordes of party
supporters were bussed into the capital in a display of solidarity with
Joyce Mujuru's nomination to the powerful post of second vice-president as
mooted in a 1999 party resolution to have a woman in the top four hierarchy
of the party. Mnangagwa's camp allegedly tried to scuttle Mujuru's
nomination reportedly through an unauthorised meeting convened by
Information minister Jonathan Moyo in Tsholotsho to push for Mnangagwa's
After Mugabe threatened to crack the whip on
dissenters, Mnangagwa came out in the papers claiming he had merely been
invited by Moyo as a guest of honour at a school prize-giving
Moyo defended himself in this Wednesday's Chronicle,
accusing his detractors of behaving like George Bush and Tony
The power struggles in Zanu PF still rage on and were expected
to feature prominently at the party's congress currently under way in
In a way the behaviour of ruling party supporters captures
their mood in the build up to next year's general election. Mugabe told a
top leadership meeting in Bulawayo last week that the ruling party had to
deal with issues of internal divisions and dissent as part of its march to
victory in the March election.
Zanu PF will be launching its
election campaign at the ongoing congress in Harare. The aggressive Zanu PF
youth militia demonstrated last week that it is thirsty for action once
On the other side of the political divide, Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai has come under a barrage of
criticism from some quarters for embarking on a whirlwind world tour to
pursue his diplomatic offensive. The electorate on the other hand is
uncertain of the MDC's position on next year's polls.
The MDC has
said it will not participate in next year's elections unless Mugabe
implements "genuine" electoral reforms.
However, the threats by the
MDC as well as the other opposition parties have not been enough to stop
Zanu PF from forging ahead with preparations for
Government is pushing for the adoption into law of the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Bill and the Electoral Bill, which it
claims will reform the electoral framework in compliance with the Southern
African Development Community (Sadc) guidelines on the conduct of democratic
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa last week said the ruling
party was already engaged in preparations and would not be deterred by
threats of a boycott by the opposition.
"We are forging ahead
with the reforms whether the MDC threatens boycott or not," Chinamasa said.
"The elections will be held and Zanu PF is preparing. If the opposition
parties boycott, then it will be their problem."
secretary-general Welshman Ncube said the opposition party would hold a
national council meeting at the end of the year to review the situation and
make a decision on participating in next year's polls. "We are currently
engaged in efforts to appraise the international community on the situation
in the country," Ncube said.
Suspended war veterans leader
Jabulani Sibanda believes Tsvangira's trips overseas show the MDC has no
confidence at home.
"It's clear the MDC knows that it cannot
successfully campaign at home and win the elections. That's encouraging on
the part of Zanu PF because we are going all the way to victory," Sibanda
MDC national youth chairman Nelson Chamisa defended the
diplomatic initiatives by Tsvangirai and insisted that his
party was doing enough at home.
"People who accuse us of failing
to campaign at home are suffering from lack of information. The struggle is
waged from many fronts. International support is very critical hence it is
very logical to engage other countries," he said. "It's not only Tsvangirai
who campaigns on the local scene. The MDC is on full-throttle at the
grassroots levels. As we speak, rallies and other forms of campaign are
going on all over the country."
Chamisa added that although the
decision on participation in next year's elections was yet to be finalised,
the opposition party still needed to remain relevant.
"We are a
political party that has to remain alive whether we participate in next
year's election or not. We have to remain relevant as a democratic force,"
Social commentator and political analyst Professor Gordon
Chavunduka said the MDC faces a serious dilemma.
wanted the MDC to participate in the elections but they still acknowledge
the serious flaws that characterise the electoral framework," Chavunduka
said. "People's hopes are with the MDC, but the MDC has to make pragmatic
decisions to avoid engaging in a losing cause. I don't see anything wrong
with the MDC leadership going to the international community because it is
necessary to gain support from outside the country."
Seven battle for Zaka West seat Gift Phiri A RECORD
seven Zanu PF hopefuls are vying for the Zaka West seat in a tightly
contested primary election race that has already been marred by dirty
Sitting MP Jefta Chindanya is battling to shrug off a fierce
challenge from a legion of businesspersons operating in Zaka district who
are determined to replace him.
Self-exiled business tycoon
Mutumwa Mawere's older brother Vincent, his sister-in-law Mabel Mawere,
Bonface Chivore, Joseph Chipato, Lovemore Mutandwa and Fred Makonese are
vying for the Zaka West seat amid allegations of vote-buying and smear
Zanu PF Masvingo provincial political commissar
Admore Hwarare said he was aware that there were attempts by some candidates
to use dirty tactics, including vote-buying, tribalism and regional issues
to win votes.
Chindanya, who has been the MP for the area for the
past three terms, is being accused by people in the area of prolonged
absenteeism from the constituency and failing to come up with tangible
programmes for the constituency. They also say he hardly contributes
anything in House debates.
Chivore is a lecturer in the Faculty of
Education at the University of Zimbabwe. He has participated in previous
Zaka primary elections and lost two times in a row.
have in the past looked to him as a possible candidate, reports say there is
increasing evidence that the electorate has lost confidence in
Fred Makonese, an agro-scientist at the University of
Zimbabwe, has been campaigning vigorously, providing seed maize and other
agricultural inputs at a subsidised price.
Makonese has been
attempting to convince the electorate that he was ready to start playing a
role in stimulating agricultural productivity as a way of strengthening the
land reform programme.
Vincent Mawere has been a flip-flopping
politician. He stood in the 2000 Zaka East primary election and lost to
Tinos Rusere. During the 2000 parliamentary election, he contested as an
independent and lost again.
Now he is seeking to reverse his misfortunes
by contesting the Zaka West primaries. Mawere has business interests
straddling the Zaka East and West divide.
However, Hwarare, who
is also the Masvingo province disciplinary committee secretary, said Vincent
Mawere would not be able to stand on a Zanu PF ticket.
have to wait for five years before rejoining because he contested as an
independent in 2000," Hwarare said. "He can only stand on a Zanu PF ticket
after the March election results."
Mabel Mawere, a Zaka businesswoman
with a chain of shops dotted around the Jerera and Zaka townships, is also
gunning for the Zaka West seat. She is married to Conrad Mawere. Using the
gender equality campaign card, Mabel has been attempting to convince the
electorate that there is need for greater women's representation in
Lovemore Mutandwa, a director of transport at the Zanu PF
offices in Harare, is also determined to clinch the seat that is also being
eyed by Joseph Chipato, the chairman of the Indigenous Freight Forwarders
Hwarare said the party had proposed new vetting
procedures that would be ratified at the congress this week including a
requirement for a minimum of five "O" Levels and five years' experience in
party structures for all contenders. There will also be screening of
candidates to ensure that they have no economic crime records.
Falgold falls foul of land politics Godfrey
Marawanyika FALCON Gold (Falgold), the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE)-listed
gold miner, has suffered further knocks and fallen victim to the
government's land seizure policy, as its Kadoma-based Venice Estate has been
designated for compulsory acquisition despite investment protection
agreements between Harare and Luxembourg.
Falcon Investments Holding
Societe Anonyme (FIHSA) of Nordic Europe majority owns Falgold, respective
owners and operators of Camperdown Tribute, Dalny, Golden Quarry and Venice
mines. The holding FIHSA company is wholly incorporated in
In a November 19 government announcement, Falgold's 1
300-hectare Venice Estate, with a title deed 3125/91, was listed for
mandatory take-over under President Robert Mugabe's land distribution
exercise - already claiming its Shurugwi mine farms and plantation
Harare normally gives its intention of taking over targeted
properties through Section 5 notices, which is part of a broad land
take-over law crafted in the aftermath of violent occupations of
minority-held land in 2000.
While Mines minister Amos Midzi
professed ignorance about Falgold's listed properties, company secretary
Craig Smith said they were aware of Venice Estate's expropriation plan, but
they would "appropriately" contest it.
"We have seen the notice. I am
sure that our directors will appeal against it," Smith, who was speaking on
behalf of absent managing director Andrew Beattie, said.
not elaborate on how they would carry the reclamation plan and when it would
be instituted, but businessdigest strongly understands that the mining firm
has lost considerable bullion resources since the land encompassed
It is also strongly understood that
Falgold will take its Venice Estate fight to the Chamber of Mines which will
universally look at other affected parties.
Observers this week
said Harare's move to wrest Falgold's land further heightened uneasiness in
the critical mining sector at a time it is reeling from various operational
challenges and demands for mainly foreign-held mines to cede 50% of their
shareholding to locals.
It also adds to the losses and woes besetting
large corporates - both listed and non-quoted concerns - in
Said one analyst: "The government has to clarify if that
piece of land (Falgold's) it wants to get is owned under a mining lease or
not because this has a serious bearing on the issue of security of
"What also has to be clarified was the notice of acquiring
the land done in consultation with Falcon Gold. Zimbabwe might end up having
problems in attracting potential investors if we have a scenario which
results in the Land Acquisition Act superseding every piece of legislation
in the country," he said, refreshing the Kondozi Farm debacle, which
trampled on export processing zones laws.
land seizures, Falgold has had to temporarily close its Venice mine because
it is unviable.
The mine, initially set to close for six months since
March 2002, is yet to reopen.
Meanwhile, another ZSE-listed
concern, Mashonaland Holdings Ltd (Mashold), was last week dealt a body blow
when its Eyrecourt farm was placed under section 7 of the land seizure laws,
which demand that owners defend - within five days - reasons for keeping
Eyrecourt, in south east Harare and measuring 197
hectares, was earmarked for property development and according to company
chief executive chief executive Justin Dowa, the forcible seizure was one of
the many setbacks the property company has suffered in recent
"We monitor what happens to any of our assets.and we try to
resolve any problem in an appropriate manner," he said last
Mashold, managing properties worth $32 billion and
formerly owned by Anglo American Corporation, relisted on the local bourse
when new shareholders led by Intermarket bought into the group last
Its property portfolio includes the plush Intermarket Life
Towers in central Harare and is worth in excess of $11,5 billion.
Growth strains water system Staff Writers. HARARE'S
sewer and water reticulation system capacity is not able to carry new
housing developments as it is already stretched to the limit, deposed
opposition Movement for Democratic Change Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri has
Mudzuri, a civil engineer by profession and pushed out of Town
House last year in a bid by government to assert control over politics in
the capital, this week pointed out that frequent water shortages in Harare
clearly indicated the extent of pressure on the current
He charged that these residential areas are often
"Population growth and the continued parcelling out of
land in exchange for
political mileage will increase pressure on the
already dilapidated systems," Mudzuri told businessdigest in Harare on
According to him, water treatment plants - just outside
Harare and to the west - had outlived projected "safe water" and recycling
production capacity since comprehensive studies were carried out seven years
The present demand, measured by the peak October to November
period in any hot year, shows that capacity was exceeded by 2001 and Harare
is now three years outside demand period in terms of those
"The increased demand for water was caused by the
government when it encouraged the sprouting up of settlements around the
city on the pretext of providing accommodation to the people," Mudzuri said.
The Harare council, now under the caretaker eye of ruling Zanu PF
symphathiser Sekesai Makwavarara and endless commissions, was frustrated in
its attempts to rehabilitate the main Morton Jaffray water treatment works
by government through continual denials of authority to borrow on the open
Mudzuri feels such an exercise would have improved capacity
and solved the once-thriving city's water problems - also affecting key
industries and various social activities.
"We were also denied
borrowing powers to upgrade the obsolete equipment. during my short tenure
as mayor," the 48-year old Mudzuri said.
With the government acquiring
more land in the peri-urban zone for housing development and noting Mudzuri
as well as other independent urban planners' concerns, council spokesman
Leslie Gwindi was, however, defiant, saying they had capacity to deal with
any increases in pressure on the infrastructure.
"We have the
capacity to take on board these new developments. Planning teams are already
working with people on the farms," he said.
Gwindi would not readily
explain the Harare municipality working plan and how long it would take to
Along with Ignatious Chombo's Local Government, Public
Works and National Housing ministry, Makwavarara's financially-strained
council has launched an ambitious plan to acquire about 40 farms in the
Harare catchment area to develop a metropolitan structure catering for
homeless urban dwellers and markedly reducing the swelling housing backlog
estimated at one million.
Among those unserviced tracts of land are
Chizororo, Eyrecourt and Stoneridge farms which the government has
compulsorily acquired under a sweeping land ownership scheme also affecting
Failed banks ordered to release forex Godfrey
Marawanyika THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has instructed all banks
placed under the management of a curator to release locked up foreign
currency for corporates frozen with the financial institutions that are
closed for business.
The latest policy shift has been caused by the
central bank's inability to raise enough foreign currency for imports,
critics have said.
In a circular sent out to corporates that were
affected by the compulsory six-month closure of banks the central bank said
that the money is only accessible if a firm deposits the local currency
equivalent at the prevailing auction rates.
"The Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe wishes to advise all corporates with foreign currency accounts
frozen with financial institutions placed under the management of a curator,
that they can now, with effect from 22 November 2004, make use of foreign
currency funds to finance their various foreign currency commitments," the
RBZ circular said.
"This is only applicable where the corporate
client has placed new deposits in Zimbabwe dollars equivalent to the same
value of the auction rate. The 30-day liquidation period on all such frozen
funds will be effective from the day the application for utilisation of
funds is submitted to the Reserve Bank."
Since the introduction of
the auction system in January this year, the central bank has been rejecting
75-85% of the bids which has resulted in both individuals and corporates
resorting to the to the black market.
Currently the auction rate is
$5 658,22 against the greenback. However, on the informal market, US$1 is
fetching $7 500-$8 000.
Independent economist and a member of the
central bank's advisory team, Eric Bloch, said that the decision was taken
not to inconvenience firms.
"This was an administrative decision and to
make sure that the funds are just not locked up and not being productive,"
"The policy is not only meant for firms alone but this
includes individuals as well. This is also a policy decision not to
inconvenience firms that would be needing hard
Conservative figures provided for by the central bank
indicate that by the third quarter (October 28) it had managed to raise
US$804 million through inflows from corporates and the auction
Money transfer agencies/Diaspora had raised US$39,5 million,
gold sales US$210,7 and tobacco sales US$49,2 million.
By the end
of October the country had managed to raise US$1 249 million as foreign
Power outages disrupt industry - Murerwa
THE erratic supply of electricity, owing to Zimbabwe's
limited import capacity attached to the current foreign exchange
constraints, has greatly contributed to the disruption of service in
productive sectors, Herbert Murerwa, the country's stand-in Finance minister
Unveiling the country's fifth one-year economic blueprint
dubbed Zimbabwe: Towards Sustained Economic Growth - Macroeconomic Policy
Framework for 2005-2006, Murerwa recently admitted that the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa)'s mooted actions to bill exporting
consumers, mainly businesses, in foreign currency had further dented
industries' production time.
He said this was more
applicable to those failing to raise the required funds.
that the capacity to import supplies (of power) is related to foreign
exchange availability, it is critical that government measures to improve
the competitiveness of exporters be continued," he said.
Zimbabwe requires an average US$13 million to import 150 megawatts of power
at any given time from fellow Southern African Development Community member
states, among them the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa and
The power is needed to augment its internal
generating capacity, also hobbled by six-year foreign cash shortages
accompanying poor performing exports and a fast depreciating
Murerwa's sentiments on the effects of incessant power
outages on industry also come at a time regional economies are threatened by
pending power shortages in a few years to come and which deficit Zesa has
attempted to respond to by courting Chinese investors to expand internal
The views also come at a time Zimbabwe
has failed to timeously implement the formation of an independent regulatory
commission for the energy sector.
Zesa's executive chairman
Sydney Gata recently told this paper that the authority awaits government
The new policy, which the acting Treasury boss said
was a response to the apparent lack of broad macro economic framework to
underpin recovery, replaces the National Economic Revival Programme (Nerp),
launched in 2000.
Murerwa said the policy would curb
de-industrialisation through "concentrated" support for various high-growth
productive segments and emphasis will be placed on the promotion of value
addition as well as innovation.
The latest working
document, singling out the agricultural, infrastructural development and
investment promotion sectors, is anchored in the implementation of the
equally new industrial development strategy (IDS).
Harare feels the
underway-conversion of the Zimbabwe Development Bank into a fully-fledged
infrastructural development bank - to finance energy, housing and other
infrastructural projects - will fulfill the blueprint's sectoral-growth
strategy or objectives.
Economic commentators this week said
that the success of the policy depended on government commitment to full
implementation of the programme.
They pointed out that
government has often implemented its economic policies half-heartedly and
this could affect the latest measures as well.
The classic case
of half-hearted measures involves the multilateral agency-backed economic
structural adjustment programme (Esap), unveiled in 1991, but aborted half
way when President Robert Mugabe's government's frustration with donors -
over bad performing loans and other policy differences - boiled
Zim's inflation basket up for review Godfrey
Marawanyika THE government is set to review the inflation basket as it feels
that the current method of aggregating inflation pointers has lost its
Zimbabwe calculates its consumer price index (CPI),
reflecting year-on-year and monthly percentage changes, in the average price
of a basket of goods comparative to a given period.
basket comprises 33,6% of food items and the difference is made up of
Andrew Bvumbe, a principal director in the Ministry
of Finance and overseer of the main Central Statistical Office (CSO) charged
with gathering the CPI figures, said they were already working on the new
"CSO is currently working on the inflation basket, given
that over the past two to three years consumption levels have significantly
changed," he said.
"Once they are through everyone will be notified and
that will also be reflected in the inflation figures, as CSO will make the
The former Privatisation Agency of Zimbabwe boss said
if the amendments were carried through this could see the products, mainly
daily consumption or bread-and-butter goods, being changed.
marked slow down in monthly inflation has seen the annualised rate falling
sharply to nearly 209% from a peak of 622,8% in January this year.
result, the central bank has further adjusted its inflation forecasts from a
target of 200% in December to between 150 to 160%.
A bank economist,
who spoke on condition that he was not named, ratcheted up a long-held view
that the government could have been applying the wrong CPI-calculation
method altogether, saying the anticipated review meant that the CSO might
have been working on the wrong figures.
"The Central Statistical
Office might have been working on the wrong figures all along," the
economist said, adding that other people are including essential goods
otherwise deemed as luxury items in the prior calculation method. Such
goods, he said, included electronics.
"Other people now put
cellphones in their shopping basket every month. It is a good thing that the
government is now reviewing the basket. It might be late, but
Over the past two years, analysts said, inflation figures
and the calculation process could have been compromised, since a large
portion of products - making up the traditional basket - were available on
the informal market.
There were also concerns that the samples
which were being used by government for calculating inflation were products
that are under price controls.
In its monetary review policy in
October, Gideon Gono's Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe said the fiscal side should
remain vigilant to consolidate the disinflation trend.
however, expressed concern last week when Herbert Murerwa's Finance ministry
availed a $5 trillion capital expenditure facility, saying "inappropriate
use" of that budgetary outlay could negatively impact on money supply
growth, otherwise known as M3.
As a stop gap measure to discourage M3
growth, known to negatively affect inflation rate, the central bank said the
money would be channelled towards productive sector facility
PSF is a cheap financing facility for resuscitating
Zimbabwe? There are reputedly four million Zimbabweans out of the country.
Leaders are jostling for power and women are elevated mainly for political
Good luck to everyone. We are now a more polarised and
divided nation. We still are dominated by the executive and the ideological
superstructure and state machinery. One man one vote is a slogan of the
The support from South African president Thabo Mbeki is
unwavering but as sure as night follows day, the bubble will soon
It's folly that we blame the British for our predicament. Look
around and see who is in a big car, who owns more than one house and more
than one farm etc. That is the enemy in your sight!
The agenda to
concentrate on is food production, education, health and everything will
African leaders should stay at home, live frugally and
understand what is happening to their own people.
whether one likes it or not, the problems have got worse after
The soldiers are sons of the soil and should be sent to
the land instead of paying them to intimidate the population which does not
agree with the dominant ideology.
I wish Mai Joyce Mujuru success
and hope she will use her new position and gender to stop ill-treatment of
We need to value women everywhere. There should be the death
sentence for rape as that is the only ultimate deterrent.
with many other residents of Harare, I have suffered more than my fair share
of water supplies problems.
In fact, I have not had a municipal supply
since December 19 2003.
In the intervening months, my wife has made
numerous calls to the top brass at Rowan Martin building.
sent correspondence to the same establishment and I have written screeds on
the reverse of each monthly cheque payment - for rates only, of course -
advising of our plight.
Like any other sane person, I have deducted
the contrived monthly water bill from my account and as expected, I have
received written communications advising that my water supply would be
castrated as revenge for non-payment.
In fact, we've had two visits
from individuals purporting to represent the City of Harare - their mission
was to cut off the non-existent water supply.
actions, the bills continue to pour in (excuse the pun) and according to the
latest demand, my closing meter reading on October 25 was
Funny then that my meter reading during August was noted and
documented by my wife as 2309 and even funnier that this reading remained
unchanged on November 29.
Either the City of Harare is inventing
the information or they have a separate, invisible meter attached to my
Whatever they are up to, I resent being invoiced for something
I'm not receiving and I resent even more the fact that someone appears to be
cheating the readings.
Is it too much to ask someone in Rowan
Martin building to explain what's going on and restore my water
leaders meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, in April 2001 declared the battle against
HIV and Aids, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases as their top
priority for the first quarter of the 21st century.
The agreement, which
became known as the Abuja Declaration, bound African leaders to commit
resources and formulate prudent policies to fight the
"We consider Aids as a state of emergency in the
continent. To this end, all tariff and economic barriers to access to
funding of Aids-related activities should be lifted," the declaration says.
This has not happened.
As the world marked World Aids Day on
Wednesday the sub-Saharan region and Zimbabwe in particular were faced with
the grim figures of the pandemic. The UNAids Global Report for 2004
estimates that there are 25 million people living with HIV. The region is
home to about 10% of the world's population but has two-thirds of infected
people. In Zimbabwe it is estimated that 1,8 million people have been
infected. There is also a worrying phenomenon in the region where the
epidemic's feminisation has become very apparent. Of the infected adults in
the region, 57% are women while 75% of young people infected are
The statistics are shocking but experts have said the worst of
the pandemic is still to come. The death rate is expected to escalate as
those infected today succumb to the pandemic after five to 10 years. With it
will be a massive growth in Aids orphans, projected to reach 18 million in
the region by 2010. The pandemic is daily altering the demographic profile
of countries in the region to levels where the productive age-group will be
depleted to unsustainable levels.
Weak national security schemes
and support programmes are not geared to dealing with the problem. Orphans
pose huge challenges to governments which still have to deal with education,
prevention, looking after people living with HIV and Aids. The region has
also been grappling with other diseases like malaria and tuberculosis, which
have been a major drain on health budgets, which have remained
The Abuja Declaration, which has been re-affirmed by
regional initiatives like the Sadc Declaration on Hiv and Aids and the Nepad
Health Strategy, also includes a commitment by the governments to "take all
necessary measures to ensure that the needed resources are made available
from all sources and that they are efficiently and effectively
Under the declaration African governments further pledged
to devote 15% of their budgets to improving the health sectors. This is far
from being achieved, as lack of political will by many African governments
has remained the major handicap in minimising the impact of the
In the national budget announced last week the Ministry of
Health received $3 trillion, representing 10,5% of the national budget. In a
super-short World Aids Day message this week (513 words to be precise)
President Mugabe said Zimbabwe had achieved a lot using its own resources.
Zimbabwe's application to access funds from the Global Fund on Aids was
turned down due to perceived technical flaws. Mugabe believes that this is
part of a "neo-colonial onslaught" against his government.
paucity of detail in the presidential message could be reflective of
commitment to fighting the pandemic. There was no mention of treatment,
which is a crucial subject at this juncture. Does Zimbabwe have a policy on
Aids orphans or on gender and HIV and Aids? Policies on HIV and Aids at the
work place have not been properly ventilated.
Then there is the
perennial problem of professionals in the health sector leaving the country
in droves. There is need for a bigger commitment from the Office of the
President. Why not use the costly musical galas which attract the youths to
spread the word? Musical galas have gobbled $2 billion this year. Compare
that with the $3 billion expended on ARVs between December last year and
September this year.
Let it play!
Malawi Health minister
Hetherwick Ntaba captured the commitment, or lack of it, last week at a
Southern African Editors' Forum conference in Mangochi, southern
"If there was a foreign invasion and 10 people per hour were
being killed in Malawi, we wouldn't be sitting here," said Ntaba. "We would
suspend everything. We would be out there fighting. Ten people are dying of
Aids in Malawi every hour but are we fighting?"
There are however
sub-Saharan countries whose leaders have led from the front in prevention
Kenyan president Mwai Kibaki chairs a cabinet action
committee on HIV and Aids. He has also brought on board leaders of Kenya's
main religious groupings in the fight. In Botswana, President Festus Mogae
influenced the decision to provide free ARVs and to develop a national
programme on the prevention of mother to child
Malawi has now appointed a Minister of Aids Health to
co-ordinate the national response to the pandemic. In Lesotho, Prime
Minister Pakalitha Mosisili and 80 civil servants were publicly tested in
March this year.
Zim waves goodbye to the last freedom By Steve
Kibble THE railroading through Parliament of the Non-Governmental
Organisations (NGOs) Bill means the government of Zimbabwe has now completed
its strangling of three basic freedoms.
Freedom of association has
now joined freedom of information and freedom of assembly in the oxygen tent
in line with government's strategy of shutting down all independent voices
and democratic spaces. By contrast, the government-sponsored youth militias
operate with impunity.
Zanu PF's strategy for survival and retention
of its ill-gotten assets is a holistic strategy of repression with mutually
reinforcing elements. Increased militarisation sees military and security
sectors immune from the law and occupying increasingly prominent positions
in the intelligence, provincial administrations and electoral
Secondly the regime has used its presidential powers to
amend the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, allowing police to hold
opponents of the regime supposedly to counter corruption.
the judiciary is almost completely compliant, as shown in its confirming
most of the contentious legislation. The neutralising of the judiciary has
important knock-on effects in areas like press and media freedom and
intimidation, information starvation, freedom of the opposition to assemble
and be heard, politicisation of the police, further land "resettlement",
human rights violations, show trials of the opposition, politicisation of
governmental-controlled food aid, public order and the like.
legislation bans foreign funding for political governance, human rights and
anti-corruption work and effectively proscribes international NGOs from
carrying out such work. It makes registration of NGOs subject to arbitrary
authority under a government-controlled NGO council and provides severe
penalties including shutting down NGOs and imprisoning staff for
contravention of the Act.
Very wide-ranging definitions leave
much to ministerial dictat and arbitrary decision-making from both formal
and informal government structures. It is unclear how much the Act will
affect the churches in Zimbabwe; government assurances that they will be
fine if they stick to "religious matters" contrast with the police closing
down meetings held in churches to discuss the Act. The Act went through
despite its running contrary not just to the Zimbabwean constitution, but
also to several regional and international rights conventions that Harare
has signed up to, and despite its likely economic impact given the numbers
employed in the NGO sector and its effect on foreign exchange and tourism
(what is left of it).
The NGO law, the Electoral Amendment Act as
well as legislation to provide payments to collaborators (non-combatant
forces in the 1970s liberation war) are all in the context of the
forthcoming parliamentary elections. These are set for March 2005 although
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is currently suspending
participation until the conditions for a free and fair election are
The combined legislation will severely limit any check on the
government, make illegal non-governmental funding for civic and voter
education and ensure government control of the electoral process and support
from a potential opposition force of "collaborators".
widely believed that "a dirty dozen" of NGOs mostly operating within the
human rights arena were the primary target although the Bill would affect
all NGOs. This would include the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace,
the Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and
Transparency International Zimbabwe.
Although the immediate target
are indeed NGOs (foreign and national) the wider context is control of rural
Zimbabweans to ensure not just obedience but the impossibility of thinking
any other way than in channels laid down by Zanu PF and of destroying the
The Act has been on the way since 2000 when the government saw
the result of civil society lobbying in the rejection of the government's
draft constitution in a referendum. It was given additional impetus by
Zimbabwean civil society providing much of the evidence for the African
Commission on Human and Peoples Rights report on Zimbabwe. It was this year
submitted to the African Union amid outrage from Harare at being criticised
by fellow Africans.
President Robert Mugabe's government is
convinced that NGOs are a front and money conduit for the MDC which Zanu PF
says is a front for British premier Tony Blair - a position hardly helped by
the Blair statement of July 14 in the UK parliament that he was working for
regime change in Zimbabwe.
In fact the Act could be said to be
already in operation before its official date. A climate of fear and
arbitrariness around NGO work has existed for some time with local Zanu PF
activists and youth militias feeling free to determine who is allowed into
"their" area whatever local governors might say.
(TEPs) for outside NGO staff are being refused almost as a matter of course.
To see how the proposed NGO council would look, says a local human rights
activist, we should examine the workings of the supine pro-government Media
and Information Commission.
The Act has served its purpose of
dividing and confusing civil society as to the best response to the
legislation - pretending it is not happening, ignoring the plight of others
and carrying on programmes as much as possible, seeking friendly
"godfathers" inside Zanu PF, relocating or shutting down in
The use of repressive divide and rule tactics make the NGOs
the latest in a series including the judiciary, the media, the churches and
farmworkers and farmers. Internationally and regionally the government has
divided or silenced critics with even the limited sanctions regime
ineffectual, despite their renewal in Europe and in the United States this
Mugabe's control strategy appears bent on his party surviving
until the elections and securing an African "free and fair" verdict which
would take the heat off, challenge the international community to lose
interest and give it a strong hand in post-election negotiations with the
MDC. This would also give Thabo Mbeki a vindication of "quiet diplomacy"
even though Harare is in undoubted breach of the Sadc electoral protocol it
signed up to in Mauritius in August.
Meanwhile, the debate on
whether free and fair elections can be held or not is critical for the
coming months. Some form of transitional administration, with international
support, will be needed. But how can such a transitional arrangement be
brought about? In the end the whole system of neo-patrimonialism and endemic
corruption presided over by the regime needs root and branch change. The
authoritarian mindset has little ability to think alternatives other than
repression and blame on outside conspirators.
In the words of the Crisis
in Zimbabwe Coalition: "Slurs, verbal abuse, violence and intimidation may
win arguments, but they can never reconstitute, heal or rehabilitate
*Steve Kibble is Africa advocacy officer of the Catholic
Institute for International Relations.
Zim should rise above tribal
politics THE nomination of President Robert Mugabe, Joseph Msika, Joyce
Mujuru and John Nkomo to occupy the top four positions in the ruling Zanu PF
hierarchy has sent ethnic tongues wagging.
The most common claim
has been that the Karanga and Manyika people have been totally "left out" of
the Zanu PF presidium and thus marginalised.
There have also been
charges that Zezurus have grabbed all the top positions and consolidated
their hegemony in local politics. Mugabe, Msika and Mujuru are being
conveniently classified as Zezuru in this tribal model. Nkomo is supposed to
represent the Ndebele.
Allegations abound in political circles of
people in Zanu PF claiming to represent certain ethnic groups when they do
not. To deflect criticism against the Zezurus, Mujuru is then said to be a
Korekore. Msika becomes Ndebele or Ndau, whatever the case might be. Mugabe
remains as the only Zezuru. But at another level he is said to be not even
that. His roots are laced with innuendo.
The tribal theory is
then multiplied to cover the broad Shona and Ndebele groups. Ethnic
contradictions within the Shonas and Ndebeles inevitably emerge because the
groups are made up of people of different ethnic origins and
Such ethnic political debates have not just suddenly
emerged. They have been there since time immemorial. The political dimension
of ethnicity and language raise complex and, ultimately, complicated
Language sometimes seems definitive of identity, but at
other times almost completely irrelevant. We therefore have to avoid
sweeping generalisations about ethnicity and politics, yet remain aware
ethnicity is part of political reality.
Ethnic and language
contradictions are there everywhere. South Africa, Botswana, Swaziland,
Lesotho and Malawi, just to name a few countries, have similar problems to
In Belgium the struggles between French and Flemish
speaking people have led to an extreme form of federalism and strictly
defined boundaries that determine the appropriate language to use in a
During our liberation struggle nationalists fought
among themselves and sometimes killed each other in pursuit of tribal
agendas. Zanu PF and PF Zapu clashed during the 1960s over political
differences largely defined by ethnicity.
It is documented that
Zanu PF and PF Zapu fought in exile as some ethnic barons tried to assert
tribal supremacy over the organisations. There were gruesome killings in
some cases such as Zanu PF's Nhari rebellion in 1974 inspired by ethnic
dogfights. Zapu stalwarts also badly clashed, particularly in Zambia, along
After Independence in 1980 the trend continued. Zanu PF
and PF Zapu further clashed over political dominance but their fight had
tribal overtones. The low intensity civil war in the 1980s was as much about
tribalism as it was about politics.
Due to our continued
subjection to systematic ethnic politics our body politic now accepts these
tribal models as "normal". It is common to hear people say so and so is a
good leader but the problem is that he comes from the wrong
Do we really need to perpetuate these ethnic mindsets in this
day and age? Can anything be achieved by fostering politics defined and
limited to ethnicity?
The growth of a politics based on narrow
concerns, rooted in the exploitation of divisions of class, gender, region,
religion, ethnicity, morality and ideology - a give-no-quarter and
take-no-prisoners activism - can be very damaging to the fabric of a
In all tribal societies an "us versus them" mentality
destroys national cohesion. This dangerous parochialism can easily escalate
to rhetorical excesses and even to physical violence. Africa and other parts
of the world have been convulsed by ethnic wars, partly fuelled by such
In most African countries - including Zimbabwe - people are
defined as citizens largely on paper, but their primary designation is of an
ethnic group. Ethnic and more so racial particularism demand that one treats
other human beings as if they were radically different from oneself, but in
ways that are morally bankrupt. That is, we take the identities of race and
tribe as if they were constitutive and permanent features of one's humanity
and as if such markers hold any moral value.
Yet we know only too
well, in Zimbabwe's case for instance, that our tribes are mostly a
hotchpotch of different ethnic groups brought together by history and
But this does not stop blinkered tribalists, who are
mostly charlatans or ignoramuses, from trying hard to promote ethnic
politics at a community, regional or national level.
have tried and failed to carve careers out of tribalism.
for the sake of national interest, must try and rise above petty tribalism -
and racism too - which does not add value to our collective lives and
well-being. Indeed, we must avoid discrimination of any kind if we all agree
that we have since moved from primitive to modern politics.
THE budget presented last week by acting Minister
of Finance and Economic Development Herbert Murerwa is highly consumptive
and lacks the ingredients to resuscitate the ailing economy, analysts
They said the budget allocated trillions of dollars of state
funds to various sectors of the economy without putting in place programmes
to resuscitate agriculture, tourism, mining and manufacturing, all of which
are central to economic revival.
Presenting the $27,5 trillion
budget last week, Murerwa said there were indications that the economy would
grow by between 3,5% and 5% next year. He attributed this to "significant
improvement in the supply response in the productive sectors of the economy,
especially mining and agriculture".
In direct contradiction to
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono who expects gross
domestic product (GDP) to plunge by about 5%, the minister said GDP -- the
sum total of what the country can produce - would this year slow down to
2,5% from last year's 8,5%.
The minister also said he expected the
agricultural sector to rebound from five years of decline to notch 28%
growth next year. The mining sector, the minister said, would register
positive growth of 7,5% while the manufacturing industry, which has been on
a slide for the past five years would decline by 8,5% this
Murerwa said the tourism industry, which bore the brunt of the
commotion in the often violent and chaotic land reform, would benefit from
anticipated tourist inflows from China, which recently awarded Zimbabwe
Approved Destination Status (ADS).
Turning to expenditure, the
minister said $23 trillion (81,2% of the total budget) would finance
recurrent expenditure in ministries and government
Only $5 trillion (18% of the total budget) would be
channelled towards capital projects such as infrastructure development. This
bloated expenditure would result in a budget deficit of a massive $4,5
trillion, representing 5% of GDP. The budget deficit was at $1,346 trillion
as of September.
It is expected that like last year the deficit
would be financed by the local banking sector.
"In the absence of
external financial support, a fiscal deficit of $4,5 trillion is consistent
with the capacity of the domestic financial sector to support borrowing
requirements," Murerwa said.
Other highlights of the budget include
the allocation of $11,49 trillion (42% of the total budget) to the Public
Service Commission for civil servants' salaries, confirming the government
wage bill still takes the largest chunk of the national
Murerwa said the budget was part of government's plans to
reduce inflation to between 30-50% by the end of next year.
major allocations include $6,8 trillion to education, $2,7 trillion to
health while Defence and Security will gobble a whopping $2,3 trillion.
Agriculture, the mainstay of the country's economy until government embarked
on its unplanned land reform programme five years ago, was given $688
billion, supposedly to finance inputs.
Mining was allocated $52,6
billion while $483,5 billion would be used to finance next year's general
In a move widely seen as populist, the minister proposed
widening of the income tax threshold for individuals from $9 million to $12
million per annum or $750 000 to $1 million per month. The tax-free portion
of the bonus was raised from $100 000 to $5 million.
these cosmetic changes, analysts said the budget was unlikely to put the
economy back on the recovery path. They noted that the budget was highly
consumptive and populist.
They said the budget failed to boast
production in key sectors of the economy and increase foreign currency
inflows. The analysts say the budget does not address the supply side which
is the main reason why the country is experiencing foreign currency
A post budget review compiled by Finhold Financial
Holdings last week (Finhold) notes that it was heavily biased in favour of
recurrent expenditure - a scenario not conducive for growth and
"As stated in previous commentaries, a budget dominated
by recurrent expenditure is hardly growth-enhancing given the state of the
country's infrastructure," Finhold said in the report.
of the total budget would be channeled towards recurrent expenditure of
which 51.1% would be used for public service wages.
The report also
notes that the expected 28% growth in the agriculture sector was heavily
dependent on other key factors.
"Growth in agriculture is highly
dependent on exogenous factors (such as weather), which the country has no
control over. If, for example, Zimbabwe receives below rainfall this season,
the projected growth will not be achieved," said the report.
report further observes that the minister was conspicuously silent on the
country's overall balance of payments deficit which has deteriorated from
US$335 million in 2003 to US$523 million this year, "yet, experience shows
that countries that adjusted their currencies to offset increases in
domestic inflation managed to expand their exports substantially," the
Finhold further notes that despite commitment by
government to come up with plans to boost export and increase foreign
currency inflows, none of the policies have been fully
Exports have gone down by 60% in the past four years on
the back of systematic destruction of the tobacco industry and horticultural
exports. Tobacco production has crashed by more than 70% and exports have
also slumped significantly. Maize production has also witnessed a sharp
decline and independent food organisations and assessors believe that the
country could face a serious grain deficit.
Analysts say the
minister failed to articulate policies to arrest the collapse in the
agriculture and manufacturing sectors, which have slumped by 70% and 60%
respectively since about 1999. Movement for Democratic Change secretary for
economic affairs, Tendai Biti, said the budget showed the government was
only "living for today" and had no plan to kick-start the
He said the budget was based on a dishonest impression
the government was creating in order to win next March's
"They are just creating an impression. Instead of
addressing the supply side of the economy by reviving production in
agriculture, manufacturing and construction, the government has set out to
devour the national cake through excessive expenditure," Biti
The budget was dangerously biased towards recurrent expenditure
instead of capital expenditure, which is vital to boost production and
address the supply side of the economy, said Biti.
has ambitious revenue targets which cannot be met. It is dishonest in that
you cannot address the economic fundamentals without correcting the
political situation. The budget does not deal with the restoration of
investor confidence," he said.
Economic commentator Eric Bloch
described the budget statement as hollow as it skirts issues of job-creation
and higher exports.
"It is missing innovation on new incentives for
investment, job-creation and exports. It does not say how they will increase
exports to deal with the perennial shortage of foreign currency," said
Bloch also said the budget was silent on how the government
would increase direct foreign investment and persuade the donor community to
open vital lines of credit.
"Lines of credit have dried up. We
need to guarantee free and fair elections and judiciary independence. There
must be genuine efforts to restore law and order if we are to access
international funds," he said.
"This budget will not get us lines of
credit," he said. Zimbabwe is currently battling to persuade the
International Monetary Policy (IMF) to be spared the looming expulsion from
the Bretton Woods institution.
Economists believe that Zimbabwe's
economic recovery is not possible without financial support from the IMF and
World Bank, both of which have expressed grave concerns about the country's
Despite government claims that the land reform
has been "successfully completed" evictions are still continuing while
violence on farms is still rife.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of
Commerce president Luxon Zembe said apart from attempts to increase the tax
bands for taxpayers, the budget did not articulate any proper framework to
"The budget does not address the issue of
economic growth. It overlooks issues to do with arresting the
deindustrialisation. It does not
have a bold stance on economic revival,"
"Recurrent expenditure is excessively high. Corporate tax
is also too high. There is need to allocate more resources towards capital
projects that boost production and encourage external investors to come to
Zimbabwe," he said.
The good, the bad and the ugly
budget IT is almost inevitable that a national budget will not satisfy the
entirety of a country's populace, no matter how valiantly the responsible
minister may strive to please all, and no matter which country's budget it
But in the environment in which the acting Minister of Finance
and Economic Development, Herbert Murerwa, had to formulate and present
Zimbabwe's 2005 budget, the task confronting him was the epitomy of the
The budget required of Murerwa was one which would stem
the economic decline which had set in at the end of 1997 and had steadily
intensified. His budget would have to be economically stimulatory, and
strongly complementary to the monetary policies of the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ). The budget needed to be one which would become a plank in
platform of rapprochement between Zimbabwe and the international
But at the same time, the budget would be driven by
governmental dictates intended to influence the electorate favourably ahead
of the March, 2005 parliamentary election. It had, therefore, to encompass
tax reductions whilst funding enhanced remuneration packages for public
servants, and for the armed forces. And yet the reductions could not be of
such a magnitude that government would be driven towards massive further
borrowings and which would fuel a new spate of hyperinflation. The end
result was a budget which was reminiscent of that renowned movie: The Good,
The Bad, and The Ugly.
Given the environmental constraints upon the
minister, and those imposed upon him by the government, it was unavoidable
that some of the elements of the budget are bad, whilst others cannot be
described as anything other than ugly.
Amongst the good elements of
the budget statement and the underlying budget was the extent to which the
minister gave recognition to the magnitude of Zimbabwean
The minister raised the threshold at which individuals
begin to pay income tax to $1 million per month compared to $180 000 a year
ago, and $750 000 since September.
However, as the poverty datum
line for a family of five is now more than $1,5 million per month, Zimbabwe
will still be taxing the poor.
Admittedly to some extent the minister has
reduced the extent that the poor are taxed, for not only
did he raise
the threshold, but he also widened the tax bands
Moreover, he announced added relief by way of increased
tax credits for the elderly, the blind, and the mentally and physically
handicapped, and the exemption from tax of certain of the income of the
The budget proposals were also good and commendable in that
the minister is significantly combating unfair competition to the Zimbabwean
textile, clothing and footwear industries as recently was sustained from
importations of low quality products from countries which provided
export subsides of such huge proportions that the finished products could be
sold in Zimbabwe at less than material cost.
Yet another very
positive factor within the budget was the changes to capital gains tax, with
the minister exempting sale of a principal private residence by the elderly,
and with inflation allowances being correlated to the consumer price index.
Also very commendable was the minister's very evident resolve to continue
enhancing the fiscal disciplines within government which have been
progressively introduced during the last two years.
these and other positives do not detract from the negatives of the budget.
Deserving of the classification of "bad" must, first of all, be the extent
of misplaced optimism on the state of the economy. Government clearly
continues to contend that the economy is on a recovery path, whereas the
reality is that it is still in decline. All that has changed is that the
economy is now dying more slowly than previously.
The hard facts
are that inflation continues to be the highest in Africa, if not in the
world, unemployment is at an all-time high, more and more business failures
are being reported, the country has a critical lack of foreign currency,
Zimbabwe is an economic (and political) leper in most of the free, developed
world, investment is at an all-time low, and the country's skills' resourse
is fast contracting as a result of the brain drain.
Yes, 2004 has
seen some remarkable economic developments, mainly as a result of
constructive monetary policies, but those developments have not healed the
near-chronically ill economy. They have only alleviated some of the pain and
diminished some of the symptoms.
The blame for the misplaced optimism
does not lie with the minister, for it was very apparent from his budget
statement that the governmental disinformation machine continues to operate
vigorously, deceiving not only the populace but government itself. This was
loud and clear when the minister cited an expected growth in agriculture in
2005 of 28%.
With less than 30 000 hectares of tobacco under
cultivation, the expectations of a 2005 crop of 120 to 160 million kg are
illusory in the extreme. All indications are that a like circumstance will
pertain to the maize crop. (Government still claims a 2004 crop of 2,4
million kg, whilst on the ground it's almost universally recognised that the
actual crop was about one-third of the mythical figures cited by
Yet another deception, even if not intended, is in respect
of the fiscal deficit. The minister stated that for the nine months to
September 2004, the deficit was $1,346 trillion, compared to a budgeted
deficit of $2,179 trillion.
However, governmental accounting is
on a receipts and payments basis, taking no account of expenditure incurred
but not paid. Thus, with the pronounced delays in effecting value added tax
refunds, payment of customs duty drawbacks, and other amounts payable, the
payments which are offset against revenues to determine the deficit are
effectively grossly understated.
The adjective "bad" also attaches to
the extent that carbon tax increases from January 2005, for those increases
are 500%, which is not readily justifiable if, as the minister projected,
year-on-year inflation this month will be about 160%. The same applies to
the increase in
duty in cheques and ATM charges, which rise from $50 per
transaction to $500, being a 1 000% increase (which, in his speech, the
minister suggested was aligned to inflation! In practice, it is aligned to
the grossly excessive bank charges).
But even worse is the "ugly"
of the budget. The Defence vote rises from $0,933 trillion to $3,043
trillion, or 226%, and yet again exceeds the vote for Health and Child
Welfare. How does Zimbabwe justify continuing to spend
more to kill
people than it spends to keep them alive?
The Education, Sport and
Culture vote rises from $1,538 trillion to $5,554 trillion. The needs of
education are undoubted, but how will Minister Chigwedere reconcile his
seeking, and receiving, a vote which is increased by more than twice the
percentage increases he was prepared to authorise for independent
Welcome to Zanu PF hospitality
guys THERE was an interesting revelation about women's contribution to the
liberation war in the Herald last week. In an article headed "Mujuru's
nomination milestone for women", Jonathan Moyo's latest import at the
Herald, Caesar Zvayi, said women were the key to every political party's
"It is a given that the vibrancy of the ruling Zanu PF
Women's League is the secret behind the ruling party's success from the days
of the liberation struggle to date," said Zvayi. What were the women doing
behind the party, we wondered? "It is women who cooked for, harboured and
washed liberation fighters' combat fatigues," revealed Zvayi without batting
So women didn't do any fighting or was Zvayi a victim of
the proverbial Freudian slip? And what could be meant by "harbouring"
liberation fighters? We hope he is not trying to reopen the can of worms
sealed together with the Flame film controversy! We also hope that with
Mujuru's elevation, women will be able to tell the full story of their role
in the war.
Newsnet revealed last week that many Zanu PF MPs win
their seats by default. It carried reports on Tuesday and Wednesday from
Chesa in Mount Darwin in which villagers said their MPs only surfaced around
election time and then disappeared once they got the vote.
of the villagers said they travelled between 20 and 25 km to the nearest
road network. This, they said, posed serious challenges when they wanted to
move their produce to the markets. The villagers said they also travelled up
to 10 km to the nearest water point because there were no boreholes or
The villagers said they were even moving their children to
urban schools because the distances they travelled to school were too
"We don't want to vote for anyone in this district because they
don't help us," complained a villager. "We vote for them because we support
Zanu PF and they happen to be chosen by the party," he said.
guys have all the luck, hee!
One such MP is Lazarus Dokora. Another
is Joyce Mujuru. We hope the sudden discovery of Mujuru's neglect of Mt
Darwin by Newsnet was purely coincidental. Not part of the presidential war,
Talking of coincidences, Muckraker was struck by the
decision by the registrar-general's office last week to launch a new ID card
just ahead of an important parliamentary election. Never mind Tobaiwa
Mudede's casuistry about the new security features. We never heard reports
of the current metal ID being forged or abused.
It was the
revelation that the new plastic ID would be issued firstly to those around
16 years who have not had an ID before that was an "eye-opener". The IDs
will be issued between November this year and February. The election is in
Is it a mere coincidence that most of the youths likely to be
issued with the new IDs have just finished their training at Border Gezi
camps where they are indoctrinated to know no other party but Zanu PF and no
other leader but Mugabe?
Is it any secret also that pupils most
likely to benefit from President Robert Mugabe's "10 computers in every
province" campaign have just completed their O or A levels and are therefore
eligible for the new ID cards so they can return Mugabe's favour at the
polls? Young and unemployed.
Eureka! Mudede is still a key factor in
next year's electoral outcome whether we have a so-called independent
electoral commission or not. And so is our future determined and sealed in
An article in the Herald on Monday by Ngugi wa Mirii
titled "NGOs: wolves in sheep skin" was, as the saying goes, revealing.
Moreso on the opportunism of the author than on the subject. Wa Mirii
confessed to never receiving any funding from government for his
"development work" in Zimbabwe.
But he has received money from NGOs
whom he now accuses of being "a camouflage of colonial economic policies in
the third world".
"My quarrel with international NGOs and (the) donor
community is that they do not genuinely assist the poor in Zimbabwe or in
the third world," said the newly enlightened Wa Mirii.
not only with hidden agendas and clear mandate to serve their different
national interests but worse still is the fact that some of the NGO staff
carry out intelligence work for their respective countries under the cover
of development and humanitarian aid."
This should be excellent
"intelligence" for state security agents especially as Wa Mirii claims he
has been working with these NGOs for over 20 years. What intelligence has he
gathered in all those years and what has he done with it?
that include him gathering "intelligence" for the Daniel arap Moi government
in Kenya? Why would somebody from a poor third world country devote 20 years
to development work in Zimbabwe when there are so many needy people in his
Our friend Nathaniel Manheru has been trying to get
too clever by half on Joyce Mujuru's nomination. He was as ignorant as his
masters about the three-in-one principle that he was prattling about at the
It's not just the media who displayed ignorance. Those that
Manheru sought to promote as more deserving of the vice-presidency were
equally guilty of criminal collective amnesia about the 1999 resolution.
Including Manheru who only recently was telling us Mujuru's nomination was
"a media construct".
Of course being the hypocrite that he is, he
won't admit that he got it completely wrong. There was studious denial of
the truth to a point where the sheer weight of evidence forced the Herald
last Tuesday to go and lift a table on the outcome nominations from the
Then the "media construct" assumed a corporeal form whose
existence Manheru couldn't deny any more. It's called betting on the wrong
horse which now unfortunately "makes an untidy and smouldering pile of
misplaced, burnt out energies".
Has he read about the volte-face
in Matabeleland South following party chair John Nkomo's visit at the
weekend? There is as much democracy as finding the root of a stone as they
say in our vernacular!
The Mirror's Behind the Words columnist
takes the simplistic view that the England cricket team sought to mix sport
and politics because they hate Zimbabwe. In any case the comment itself
seeks to pretend that these are mutually exclusive.
This is a
position that is not hard to understand if it comes from Zanu PF apologists
who want to eat their cake and keep it too.
The controversy about the
England tour was bound to resurface because the material conditions that
stopped them earlier this year have not changed. Physical threats from
something called Sons and Daughters of Zimbabwe aside, there were also moral
pressures which forced the likes of Henry Olonga and Andy Flower to sport
those black armbands to "mourn the death of democracy in
Behind the Words says the threats to boycott Zimbabwe have
nothing to do with security concerns. Which could be true. But he does not
look at government media's virulent campaign of hatred against Britain and
its ambassadors to Zimbabwe. That is in addition to the forthcoming
And who fed the Herald that seriously daft
story about "a sinister plan" by visiting journalists to sponsor, together
with "a former Zimbabwe cricket captain", a training session for
disadvantaged youths at Lilfordia Farm which was likely to "provoke war
Nothing more graphically illustrates the paranoid dementia
of the state media's handlers than stories like that one. The story cited
"security sources" who were apparently unable to tell the difference between
Lilfordia School and Lilfordia Farm.
And what does it say about
stability or law and order in the country that war veterans could be
"provoked" by a game of cricket? What else can't we do in case war veterans
There were claims that most of the visiting
journalists were state agents, not bona fide reporters. The Information
department even claimed it was trying to check their credentials from some
websites before they could be accredited. It took Nathan Shamuyarira to
restore sanity in a spat that the department wanted to turn into a
diplomatic war with Britain while it sought to recover from its
embarrassment over the Mujuru nomination.
With such an Information
department at work does Zimbabwe need so-called enemies to demonise
There appears to be some serious damage-limitation underway
after President Mugabe asked "which professor" had convened what was deemed
an unauthorised meeting in Tsholotsho two weeks
Communications minister Chris Mushohwe was on Tuesday thrust in
the front line to say his donation of $10 million to a faraway school in
Tsholotsho was to reciprocate a similar gesture by Professor Jonathan
Some ignorant councillor in remote Tsholotsho, Memeza
Mthombeni, was roped in to claim that they "invited" the Speaker of
Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa to come and officiate at the illegal function
to raise money after he read a story in the papers indicating that Mnangagwa
had adopted Ntalale school in Gwanda. How very resourceful of a mere rural
The meeting and donations "coincided" with
nominations for the vice-presidency. Then we are told a whole six provincial
chairpersons and government ministers from across the country gathered for a
mere "prize-giving" function at a rural school. And a plane was hired to
complete the parade of new-found opulence.
Mnangagwa said he was
"surprised" to receive the invitation from Moyo whom he alleged always
lambasted him in the papers. Just who is fooling who here? Unfortunately
Lowani Ndlovu was not forthcoming this week on these convoluted plots. We
certainly deserve more than these muddled, amateurish
If, as Lowani claimed in his column this week,
democracy "is healthy" and in full swing in Zanu PF, surely there shouldn't
be anything "sinister" about holding a meeting and deciding who should be
vice-president? The six errant provincial chairpersons have since received
their chastisement from the politburo while the convener of the Tsholotsho
meeting is reportedly awaiting his fate - the "crackers" Mugabe promised
The Parliamentary Legal Committee has declared
unconstitutional clauses in the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Bill
which make it an offence, punishable by imprisonment of up to 20 years, to
coerce or attempt to coerce the government where such coercion is
accompanied by boycott or civil disobedience or resistance to any law
"whether active or passive".
Clause 33 makes it an offence,
punishable by a fine or up to one year's imprisonment, to make an abusive
statement concerning the president or statement which is false or which
engenders feelings of hostility towards the president, or which causes
contempt or ridicule.
It is extraordinary that government could even
propose abridging civil liberties in this way. The PLC points out that given
the nature of the presidency, an elected public office, to ring-fence that
office from criticism amounts to a derogation from fundamental
Aren't we always being told that the president is not
afraid of criticism? Is this the behaviour of a regime safely ensconced in
the affections of the people? Don't we have the right to satirise or
ridicule our leaders? Is that not part of democracy's levelling process for
the high and mighty?
There is another disturbing dimension here. In a
democracy the public arguably have the right to "coerce" their government to
do the right thing. If that includes boycotting certain institutions or
lending support to a boycott, that is a constitutional right.
will be interesting to see what the courts think of these patent derogations
of fundamental liberties by a regime that is evidently running scared of the
people it rules.
And did we read somewhere last week that the Chinese
were installing a monitoring system at the Mazowe Earth Satellite Station to
enable government to monitor Internet communications?
thought they already could. But if it's true, then Zhing-Zhong is assuming a
particularly sinister dimension.
It is one thing for the Chinese to
listen in to the conversations of their own people on the paranoid
assumption that they are all plotting against the people's government. It is
quite another to afford that technology to other totalitarian
Following the Department
humiliating climbdown last Thursday over the admission of British
journalists to cover the England cricket tour, can we assume the next time
George Charamba opens his mouth about "hostile" newspapers getting up to all
sorts of things once they are admitted to the country, he will think about
the consequences of having to swallow his fighting talk just a few hours
What criteria, we should ask, were used by Charamba in
refusing admission to some media and excluding others? How does he explain
admitting the Guardian which has been unremittingly hostile to his regime
while keeping out the BBC whose interviewer Veronique Edwards failed to ask
him a single challenging question in her telephone call to him last
Thursday? He was given the same platform to attack Cosatu the week before
without Cosatu being given the right of reply.
individuals in the BBC's Africa Service transparently sympathetic to the
Mugabe regime yet the corporation is viewed with hostility in Harare. We
can't understand why. But it is not difficult to see what endears Reuters to
the Department of Information with paragraphs such as this slipped into a
cricket story last week.
"Britain, Zimbabwe's former colonial
power, has campaigned for Commonwealth sanctions against Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe over his redistribution of white-owned farms to
landless blacks and his 2002 re-election in a poll which international
observers said was flawed."
Leaving aside the Zanu PF illusion that
Britain heads the campaign for sanctions against Zimbabwe, is it true that
landless blacks are the real beneficiaries of land reform? Does anybody
seriously suggest that any more after the Bhuka, Utete and Nkomo audits
apart from Reuters?
And was it only international observers who
claimed the 2002 election was flawed? Did Zimbabweans themselves not have a
view on this?