The winner of the Guardian First Book award on finding comedy in tragedy - and why she is not the voice of Zimbabwe
by Simplicious Chirinda Friday 04 December 2009
HARARE - A government organ for national reconciliation will look into human
violations before and after Zimbabwe's independence including an 80s army
crackdown in the south of the country that killed thousands of innocent
civilians from the Ndebele ethnic group.
Organ chairman John Nkomo told civic society groups in Harare that the organ
formed by the country's power-sharing government would examine all cases of
politically motivated violence and human rights abuses including a bloody
army campaign known as Gukurahundi that is one of the darkest periods in
But Nkomo, himself a Ndebele and also an ally of President Robert Mugabe -
who some say personally ordered the army crackdown - did not say whether his
organ would consider recommending general amnesty for perpetrators of human
rights violations and other political crimes.
"We are going to look into what happened post and pre-independence. You
cannot ignore that some of the violence that happened post-independence was
carried over to what happened before independence," said Nkomo, who is also
chairman of Mugabe's ZANU PF party.
"There are people who died, executed, incarcerated for their political views
and we cannot ignore that," he said.
Nkomo heads the healing and reconciliation organ together with Sekai Holland
from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC-T party and Gibson Sibanda from
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara's MDC-M. The three parties make up
Zimbabwe's coalition government.
Asked if the organ would specifically look into the Gukurahundi killings -
that remain an emotive subject that is rarely spoken about among Zimbabwe's
rulers - Nkomo said: "Gukurahundi cannot be ignored because they were
disagreements and people died."
While human rights groups and Western governments began focusing serious
attention on rights abuses by Mugabe only in the last 10 years after he
began seizing white-owned farms, the Zimbabwean leader is accused of
trampling upon the rights of opponents with the launch of Gukurahundi barely
three years after taking over power at independence from Britain in 1980.
Gukurahundi was lunched ostensibly to crackdown on armed dissidents in the
Matabeleland and Midlands provinces dominated by the Ndebeles who were the
main backers of the then opposition PF-ZAPU party.
Analysts say the real purpose of the onslaught by the army's North
Korean-trained 5th Brigade was to demolish PF-ZAPU's support base.
At least 20 000 innocent civilians were reportedly killed, some of them by
having their stomachs prised open by soldiers while others were rounded up
into huts and set on fire.
Mugabe has previously called the killings an "act of madness". But he has
never personally accepted responsibility for the civilian murders or
The Zimbabwean strongman has also not yielded to calls by human rights
groups for his government to compensate the Gukurahundi victims.
Analysts say he veteran leader's unwillingness to leave office and the
fierce resistance by his top security commanders to political change was
partly because of fears they could be hauled before the courts or even to
The Hague once they agree to give up power. - ZimOnline
by Simplicious Chirinda Friday 04 December 2009
HARARE - Zimbabwe's three governing political parties on Thursday resumed
talks to try to resolve a power-sharing dispute threatening their shaky
coalition government after taking a break to meet a team of facilitators
appointed by South Africa leader Jacob Zuma.
One of the negotiators, Welshman Ncube, from Deputy Prime Minister Arthur
Mutambara's MDC-M party told ZimOnline that the talks had resumed.
"We resumed today and we are still negotiating and we are not expecting any
visit by the facilitator," said Ncube.
Asked if they are going to resolve the outstanding issues within the
December 5 deadline set by the Southern African Development Community (SADC)
organ on defence and politics summit in Mozambique last month, Ncube said;
"We don't believe in any deadlines, we will give a report to the SADC Troika
once we are through."
Priscilla Misihairabwi Mushonga is also representing MDC-M while Tendai Biti
and Elton Mangoma are standing in for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's
MDC-T and President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF is represented by Patrick
Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche.
The SADC Troika asked Zimbabwe's political leaders to engage in dialogue to
resolve all outstanding issues in the implementation of last year's
power-sharing agreement or global political agreement (GPA).
It tasked South Africa to monitor progress of the negotiations and
facilitators appointed just over a week ago presented a progress report to
Nothing official has been said by the South African leader since the
presentation of the report.
Some of the outstanding issues that are threatening to destabilise the
coalition government include Mugabe's refusal to rescind his unilateral
appointment of two of his top allies to head Zimbabwe's central bank and the
attorney general's office.
Mugabe has also refused to swear in Tsvangirai ally Roy Bennett as deputy
agriculture minister while the Prime Minister's MDC-T party is also unhappy
by what it says is selective application of the law to target its activists
On the other hand ZANU PF, which insists that it has met all its obligations
under the GPA, accuses the MDC-T of not living up to a promise to lead a
campaign for lifting of Western sanctions against Mugabe and members of his
inner circle. - ZimOnline
by Own Correspondent Friday 04 December 2009
HARARE - The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) on Thursday urged
the Harare government to adopt the South African rand as a currency of
reference, saying continued use of a multi-currency system was confusing.
"The system of multiple currency is confusing," CZI acting president Joseph
Kanyekanye told reporters in Harare, adding; "CZI maintains that adopting
the rand as a reference currency is still the route to go."
The government earlier this year ditched the worthless Zimbabwe dollar and
introduced a basket of currencies - including the United States dollar,
South African rand, British Pound and Botswana pula - as legal tender, a
move that immediately halted hyperinflation that had ravaged and discredited
Although the unity government said it wanted the Zimbabwe dollar to be
reintroduced once the economy was on a sustainable path to recovery and
industrial capacity utilisation was above 60 percent, Mugabe and central
bank governor Gideon Gono have fuelled speculation that the Zimdollar could
be reintroduced earlier.
However, last week Gono ruled out the return of the Zimdollar joining his
boss Finance Minister Tendai Biti who has long insisted that the local
currency would only be restored once the economy stabilised.
"There have been several rumours doing the rounds in the market about the
return of the Zimbabwe dollar," Kanyekanye said. "It is good assurance to
business that the multiple currency system will remain in the medium term."
CZI - considered the voice of business in the country - also welcomed the
reduction by Biti in his 2010 national budget statement on Wednesday of
corporate tax from 30 percent to 25 percent, but said the reduction in
personal tax failed to meet the business leaders' expectations.
"We had expected a further reduction in personal tax to meet our
expectations. We had expected a further reduction in order to increase
disposable incomes in a drive to spur local demand," the CZI chief said.
The industrial body also welcomed "the extension of the duty-free on basic
commodities to the end of July, as well as the suspension of customs duties
on selected inputs to make basic commodities".
by Charles Tembo Friday 04 December 2009
HARARE - Germany will not provide budgetary support to Zimbabwe's coalition
government just yet, but Berlin could consider supporting restoration of
normal relations between Harare and the International Monetary Fund (IMF),
ambassador Albrecht Conze said on Thursday.
Conze acknowledged the limited progress achieved by the new Harare
administration but called for full implementation of last year's
power-sharing agreement or global political agreement (GPA) that gave birth
to the coalition government. Conze also called for sound economic policies
that could "bring benefits" to long-suffering Zimbabweans.
He said: "We urge the Zimbabwean inclusive government to further pursue
and transparent financial, fiscal and economic policies conducive to
bringing substantial benefits to its citizens.
"As these policies progress, our support for normalisation of relations with
the international financial institutions will grow, and we will consider
support for a proposal to restore IMF voting rights to Zimbabwe."
Zimbabwe's coalition government that analysts say presents the southern
African nation the best opportunity in years to end a multi-faceted crisis
has done well to stabilise the economy that was in free fall only 10 months
ago before formation of the unity government.
The administration on Wednesday announced an optimistic US$2.25 billion
budget which it said could see the economy grow by an impressive seven
percent next year after expanding by a better-than-expected 4.7 percent this
But the budget requires massive funding from key donor nations such as
Germany and support from the IMF and other multi-lateral institutions that
all remain reluctant to help, unhappy about Mugabe's refusal to fully
implement the GPA that gave birth to the coalition government.
Fresh reports of human rights abuses and ongoing seizures of private farms
including several that are protected by bilateral investment protection
agreements have only helped raise questions about the new administration's
commitment to uphold human and property rights as well as agreements entered
with other countries.
On the other hand incessant squabbling between President Robert Mugabe's
ZANU PF party and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC-T party over
implementation of the power-sharing agreement has also intensified fears
that the disagreements could in the long run render the administration
ineffective. - ZimOnline.
Some journalists accuse incumbent ZUJ President Matthew Takaona of trying to
ensure the election of a handpicked slate of successors, but he says he is
only trying to avoid interference by influence-seeking politicians
Sandra Nyaira | Washington 03 December 2009
Battle lines have been drawn for ahead of an election to select a new slate
of officers for Zimbabwe Union of Journalists with one faction engaging
lawyers as a struggle for control of the union spills over into the media.
Independent and freelance journalists accuse outgoing ZUJ President Mathew
Takaona and his fellow incumbents of planning secret elections without
telling many members the venue of a Congress held every three years.
The ZUJ Congress was to open Thursday evening and continue through the
weekend in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe's second-largest city.
Harare freelance journalist Conrad Mwanawasha, who is running for treasurer
of the ZUJ, told VOA Studio 7 says he may seek relief in the courts if the
outgoing executive improperly pushes a slate of handpicked officers.
But incumbent Takaona responded that the union is keeping the balloting
place secret because some politicians have sponsored candidates in a bid to
undermine the union's independence.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Jestina Mukoko talks about her experience of abduction by secret police in
Zimbabwe to MARY FITZGERALD , Foreign Affairs Correspondent
A YEAR ago this week, Jestina Mukoko was spirited away from her home before
dawn by members of Zimbabwe's secret police. It was the beginning of an
ordeal Ms Mukoko, a leading human rights campaigner, knew had become only
too common for anyone who dared question the status quo in Zimbabwe. Nothing
was known of her whereabouts until she appeared in court on terrorism
charges almost a month later.
Those charges, which prompted outrage across the world, were eventually
thrown out in September after a court ruled Ms Mukoko had been tortured
while in custody. She had been subjected to simulated drowning, locked in a
freezer and given beatings to force her to confess to plotting to oust
Ms Mukoko's plight drew much attention in Ireland, given her long-standing
links with Trócaire, and the fact that she had met Oireachtas members while
visiting Dublin last year. "I deeply appreciate the fact that my friends in
Ireland at every level believed in me and at no time doubted my innocence,"
she told an Oireachtas committee this week.
She recalled how she remained defiant even during the darkest days of her
detention. "They failed to break my spirit and I even remember telling my
interrogators that I am not a supporter of any political party but a
defender who has a passion for human rights."
Nevertheless, her abduction and incarceration continue to cast a shadow.
"Since my release, I have tried to be very careful . . . I have been able to
continue with my work but the fear is still there at the back of my mind,"
she says. "I cannot help being afraid, especially when I spot the kind of
vehicle that took me from my home. The experience was harrowing and it is
something I would not want to go through again."
But it has not deterred her from her work with the Zimbabwe Peace Project.
"As a human rights defender, I want to continue to work for the majority of
Zimbabweans who cannot speak for themselves. I was lucky enough that voices
were raised on my behalf, but not every Zimbabwean is so lucky."
She fears her ordeal could be used to instil fear in others: "As a
high-profile woman, I was abducted and I think they are going to tell people
if we could do it to Jestina, what would stop us from doing it to you."
Assessing the current political situation in Zimbabwe, Ms Mukoko says she is
quite optimistic, but warns of a creeping stagnation as the unity government
formed in February continues to limp. "The inclusive government is something
we never thought would happen in Zimbabwe. It is historic and we wish to
give it a chance. But I think it demands the participation of all
Zimbabweans, and the principals themselves need to follow the Global
Political Agreement to the letter," she says. "Initial steps have been
taken, but there already seems to have been some stagnation."
The human rights situation remains abysmal. "We are still very concerned
about the huge amount of human rights abuses that continue to be recorded,
and the harassment and arrest of civil society leaders," she says. "The ones
that cause me the most worry are the abductions, the unlawful detentions and
the torture cases . . . Fear is being instilled in a lot of communities and
that is a big worry . . . I am afraid that, while in some respects we are
taking positive steps forward, there seems to be a constant moving backwards
TWELVE Zimbabwean students at Fort Hare University are scared to return home
after their Zimbabwe government scholarships were withdrawn for alleged
involvement in political activity on campus.
The students claim their Presidential Scholarships were suspended, and they
were intimidated by President Robert Mugabe’s “spies” on campus after they
launched MDC branches at the East London and Alice campuses almost a month
Yesterday, the students said they feared going back home after the
university allegedly offered them funds for a trip to Harare to negotiate
They said the university’s vice-chancellor, Dr Mvuyo Tom, offered to pay R3
000 for each student to go back to Harare to sort out their scholarship
disagreements with the Zanu-PF-led government.
But MDC branch chairperson at the university Juma Ulete claimed it was a
setup and that Tom knew what was awaiting the students in Harare. “It’s
obvious; on our arrival there we will be charged with treason, which carries
the death penalty.
“They said we’ve lost the scholarship because we defied orders of Mugabe …
even if MDC is part of the government … we will be sent to prison (and
sentenced to death).”
But Tom dismissed the claims that the university had conspired with Zanu-PF
to send the students back to Harare.
“Firstly, these students requested us to assist them with funds to go home.
We have taken money from the university’s funds to assist them.”
He said the university had nothing to do with the suspension of the
“We don’t deal with political parties, we deal with the Zimbabwe government,
which is composed of Zanu-PF and MDC. The scholarship was withdrawn by the
Zimbabwe government,” he said. — By MSINDISI FENGU, firstname.lastname@example.org
By Tony Hawkins in Harare
Published: December 3 2009 15:25 | Last updated: December 3 2009 15:25
Zimbabwe's 2010 budget was well received by analysts and business people,
but the fragility of the unity government remains a threat to the finance
Tendai Biti, who inherited a near-basket-case economy when he assumed the
role of finance minister in March, was broadly optimistic about Zimbabwe's
prospects, but left little doubt of his concern that bickering within the
government was holding the economy back.
The most important tax change announced in Wednesday's budget was the
reduction in the corporate tax rate to 25 per cent from 30 per cent, allied
with some tightening up of investment-related tax-breaks for business.
Mining taxation was increased, with higher levies and tighter limits for
mining exploration concessions along with an increase in the precious metals
royalty for gold and platinum to 3.5 per cent from 3 per cent.
Although some in the mining sector are unhappy at the manner in which their
industry was singled out for special attention, Mr Biti pointed out that
with the gold price at record levels and platinum prices sharply higher in
2009, the miners had few grounds for complaint.
Economists praised the finance minister's efforts to streamline and flatten
the tax-structure. Nyasa Chasakara, investment analyst, welcomed the
increased taxation of the mines saying other regional economies were reaping
the rewards of such investments and Zimbabwe should not be an exception.
Industrialist Antony Mandiwanza said he thought the budget would have a
"beneficial impact" and particularly welcomed the provision of $53m for
rehabilitation of the state-owned electricity company, Zesa, and the
extension of import duty relief on imported foods which would keep
supermarket shelves stocked.
Although the country's economic prospects have improved, there is no denying
the serious challenges facing the fractious government.
Mr Biti revealed that departmental bids for 2010 had totalled $12bn but
actual revenue next year was forecast at only $1.4bn. In fact, total
spending will be higher at $2.25bn with the gap being filled by drawing down
half of the IMF's $510m allocation to Zimbabwe, plus foreign assistance.
Employment costs - wages, pensions and allowances - have absorbed 63 per
cent of total spending in 2009 and the proportion will be very similar next
year, excluding grant aid income. The Minister hopes that the current civil
service audit will weed out ghost workers, but economists say this is just a
band-aid and root-and-branch public sector restructuring, including
large-scale demobilisation of the security forces, is essential.
However, they concede that this will not be possible with a weak and deeply
A third issue that Mr Biti left hanging in the air is the country's foreign
debt of $5.4bn which he described as "unsustainable". The bulk of this
($3.8bn) represents arrears but in the budget there was no mention of any
approach to the international community for debt forgiveness and relief.
This is a controversial topic in Harare where politicians from all sides are
reluctant to accept that Zimbabwe should be classified as a low-income
Also controversial is the question of bringing back the Zimbabwe dollar
which disappeared when dollarization took effect. Mr Biti said the
government was unanimous in wanting to maintain the current multiple
currency system - meaning the US dollar and the South African rand. However,
only a few weeks ago both President Robert Mugabe and central bank governor
Gideon Gono called for the return of the local currency.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and the Zimbabwe Teachers Association
criticized the finance minister's tax proposals saying that they provided no
relief to the vast majority of Zimbabwean workers
Gibbs Dube | Washington 03 December 2009
Zimbabwean Finance Minister Tendai Biti's 2010 budget, unveiled Wednesday,
has drawn fire from some Zimbabwean trade unions which the level of income
at which no tax is paid is well beneath the country's poverty line.
Under the proposal, incomes under US$160 a month will not be taxed. However,
most Zimbabweans are not currently earning more than that amount.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions - the country's largest confederation
of labor organizations - and the Zimbabwe Teachers Association added that
the tax break on the end-of-year bonus for 2009 was irrelevant for most
state workers who by and large earn less than US$160 a month.
Teachers Association Chief Executive Officer Sifiso Ndlovu, told VOA Studio
7 Gibbs Dube that the tax-free income and bonus tax break would benefit only
the relatively few workers earning more than US$500 a month.
Economist Eric Bloch said the tax thresholds set in the Biti budget did not
make sense, calling them "ludicrous" and "insignificant in the extreme."
Others were more complimentary - former finance minister Herbert Murerwa,
now holding the Lands portfolio, praised Biti's budget after it was
presented to Parliament on Wednesday, and German Ambassador to Zimbabwe
Albrecht Conze said it was an impressive plan to revitalize the economy.
Biti proposes to spend US$2.25 billion next year while projecting revenues
of US$1.44 billion for a deficit of US$810 million to be closed with funds
from international donors and drawing down a recession-recovery credit
facility of several hundred million dollars at the International Monetary
Friday, December 04, 2009
THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries has hailed the 2010 National Budget
as a progressive budget that seeks to address issues relating to
reconstruction, equitable growth and stabilisation amongst others.
CZI vice president, Mr Joseph Kanyekanye who presented the CZI review of the
budget said as an organisation they appreciated the minister's
acknowledgement that the situation in the country was still critical.
"The theme of reconstruction, equitable growth and stabilisation was an
appropriate theme that shows that the minister has a clear vision of what
the budget set out to achieve," he said.
On the positives in the budget, Mr Kanyekanye said that the crafting of a
medium term framework to guide the budget was a welcome development.
He was, however, quick to point out that this would only work as long as the
measures outlines in the framework are in line with the goals of the budget.
He said as CZI they were convinced that in terms of the economic growth, the
country had reached a plateau and that the Special Drawing Rights funds from
the International Monetary Fund will help spur the country to higher levels.
The re-affirmation of the continuation of the current multi-currency regime
in the economy, he said should help bolster confidence within and outside
"It is good assurance to business that the multi-currency system will remain
in the medium-term," he said.
On taxes, he said that while they welcomed the reduction in corporate tax
from 30 percent to 25 percent, the reduction in personal tax failed to meet
"We had expected a further reduction in order to increase disposable incomes
in a drive to spur local demand," Mr Kanyekanye said.
He said the reduction of NSSA contributions to three percent as well as the
cap of $200 was a welcome development as previous contribution were weighing
heavily on the business operating environment.
On bank deposits, he said the figure of over US$1 billion was pleasing and
that the deposit and lending ratio of 50 percent was reasonable given the
absence of a lender of last resort and given the fact that the majority of
deposits were short-term.
"We would not welcome administrative regulations aimed at increasing this
level as it could cause a loss of stability in the financial service
sector," he said.
Mr Kanyekanye said as CZI they welcomed the extension of the duty free on
basic commodities to the end of July as well as the suspension of duty on
selected inputs to make basic commodities as these promoted the aspect of
social protection and levels the playing field for local producers to become
He said that they had reservation on the VAT payment date of the 10th which
falls short of business needs.
"We need to be able to give 30 days credit so we need the date to be the end
of the following month," he said.
He added that they were also disappointed that not sufficient money was
allocated to infrastructure development despite infrastructure such as
roads, rail, and electricity being key to the economic turnaround process.
Stanbic Bank's economist, Mr Panashe Chitumba told delegates to a post
budget meeting that was jointly organised by Stanbic and
PriceWaterhouseCoopers that the minister should be commended for managing to
allocate scarce resources to key sectors of the economy.
He said that although the country has stabilised growth levels in the
economy, GDP, in terms of jobs was still relatively low and the focus should
be on growing these by allocating adequate resources to infrastructure
He also said that for economic progress to be achieved going forward this
would largely depend on political harmony in the country.
Written by SIMOMO TSHUMA National Dec 4, 2009
AT a time when Zimbabwean households and industry are experiencing
persistent power cuts of up to 20 hours daily, Zimbabwe is exporting power
to Namibia at a discounted tariff to meet requirements of a US$50 million
sweetheart deal which has worsened the power crisis.
Under the deal signed in March 2007, Namibia, which provided Zimbabwe with a
loan of US$50 million, is supposed to receive 180 megawatts for a minimum of
five years as part of a power purchasing agreement between Zesa and Namibia's
power utility, Nampower.
The US$50 million was meant to refurbish and expand Hwange Power Station to
levels that would have resulted in a "significant" reduction in power-cuts
throughout energy-crisis-hit Zimbabwe.
But even after the huge capital injection, the power plant is in a
precarious state. Generation has remained low, plagued by machine
breakdowns, coal shortages and structural defects. Notwithstanding all this,
Zimbabwe still has to supply power to Namibia.
The Zimbabwe Independent understands that the deal between NamPower and Zesa
states that Zimbabwe will "meet its part of the bargain" regardless of the
electricity generation in the country.
"If they (Zesa) cannot generate the power to supply us, they still must find
the power elsewhere to fulfil their part (of the agreement)," NamPower
managing director Paulinus Shilamba was quoted as saying in the media last
Namibia started receiving power from Zimbabwe in January last year as Hwange
Power Station was hit by breakdowns. Sources at Zesa have said in instances
where the power station is down, Zesa has been forced to import power and
pay wheeling costs to satisfy the deal.
"We have had situations where we cannot import power to feed into our
national grid as priority is given to Namibia," a source said. "The benefits
(of the deal) to Zimbabwe at the moment are not there."
But Zesa boss Ben Rafemoyo defended the deal. "With regards to the NamPower
deal, people should look at the basis of the transaction. We (Zimbabwe) did
not have foreign currency and they did (Nambia). The refurbishment needed to
be done," said Rafemoyo.
Rafemoyo said in the event of increased capacity by industry "it was mostly
likely that households would not have electricity during the day to ensure
industry operates, but the opposite would occur during the evening".
The aberrations in the Nampower deal come amid real threats of a disaster
waiting to happen at Hwange where it is feared an unstable ash dam wall is
in danger of collapsing and completely destroying the power station during
the current rainy season.
According to a report by the World Bank released last month, failure to
urgently attend to the problem could result in the destruction of the entire
power plant which is situated in a valley directly below the dam wall.
"This would result in a loss of 450 MW at current generation levels to the
system with disastrous consequences to the Zimbabwean economy," reads the
report compiled at the request of the Ministry of Finance for technical
The World Bank said the country needs US$135 million for emergency
rehabilitation of Hwange. Out of that US$6 million is required to secure the
unstable ash dam.
The Kariba Dam south wall meanwhile is also in "urgent need of
rehabilitation to ensure dam wall safety", the report said.
This would involve refurbishment of the floodgate mechanism and
strengthening of the plunge pool to prevent further erosion backwards to the
"This work is extremely urgent to ensure that dam wall safety is not
compromised," the World Bank said.
The estimated cost for rehabilitation of Kariba south amounts to US$84
According to the report, the transmission infrastructure was in a poor state
of repair and requires huge investment to rehabilitate and reinforce the
network to an acceptable level. The cost for transmission emergency
rehabilitation amounts to US$561 million.
Besides this Zesa Holdings is saddled with a US$428 million debt which it is
battling to settle.
The power utility's cash woes are compounded by "unrealistic" tariffs over
the years in comparison to the viable rates levied by other utilities in the
Cash problems at Zesa Holdings also mean the country faces uncertainty over
future supply of power considering that the power utility has a daunting
task to raise US$385 million for emergency power needs.
Zesa Holdings' external debt stands at US$317 million while its internal
debt is at US$111 million.
Regional power utilities are reportedly reducing supplies to Zesa Holdings
due to technical problems and non-payment of debts.
Zesa is said to be getting about 100MW from Cahora Bassa in Mozambique and
50MW from Snel in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The power utility's spokesperson Fullard Gwasira on Tuesday said the
national grid had lost 160MW that were being imported from Mozambique due to
a technical fault on that country's network.
The World Bank said there has been a decline in Zesa's operational,
commercial and financial performance since 1997 when the power supplier
collected 97% for accounts due.
Zesa currently collects an estimated US$20 million a month from its
customers, representing a 49% rate in account settlement by customers, but
this is hardly enough to cover its payroll.
Apart from low collections and sub-economic tariffs, the general downturn in
the economy and lack of access to financing has contributed to the power
utility's huge financial distress.
"Zesa's trade creditor arrears from power imports are about US$98 million,
of which US$69 million is over due by more than 128 days. Zesa's external
debt arrears stand at about US$317 million (domestic arrears at about US$111
million)," said the World Bank.
Zimbabwe has a capacity to generate about 1 960MW of which about 1 000MG of
non-firm power generation is available for production. Zimbabwe imports an
average of 300MW from the region.
No new power generation stations have been built in the country since Kariba
in the early 1960s and Hwange thermal power station which was completed in
Most households and industries in Zimbabwe are limited to less than 18 hours
of electricity supply daily because of lack of investment in power
Only about 30% of the country has access to grid electricity.
Despite advances in technology, power experts said a lead time of up to five
years is needed to build a power station.
The current power shortage also stems from failure by government to
implement numerous power generation projects.
In its System Development Plan approved by government 19 years ago, Zesa was
to build a new power station at Batoka Gorge between the Victoria Falls and
Kariba. Like Kariba, it was to have a north and south bank stations.
Batoka, which was to be a run-of-the-river station, had been planned to take
into consideration environmental concerns. There was no need to dam the
river. Batoka was to be built in conjunction with expansion at Kariba to use
the water optimally.
However, the Batoka project ran into problems as the Zambian government was
not keen on it then because its economy was unstable and was unwilling to
undertake a project with a neighbour they accused of short-changing them
during the sharing of the Central African Power Corporation (Capco) assets.
Capco was the predecessor to the national power utilities of the respective
About US$1,6 billion was needed for the north and south bank power stations
The next project in the system was the expansion of Hwange by adding two new
generators. To be known as Hwange 7 and 8, the project was to be financed by
the World Bank and tenders had been adjudicated when government decided the
tenders be given to YTL, a Malaysian construction giant.
The problem was that the YTL was not a power station construction firm.
The plan later changed. Hwange was to be privatised by selling it to YTL.
The sale eventually fell through because YTL insisted they could not inherit
a US$800 million loan used to refurbish the station and improve its
operational efficiency provided by the World Bank.
The default plan was Sengwe in Gokwe north where there are coal reserves to
last for the next 100 years. Sengwe was to be developed by mining giant Rio
Tinto and the power station was to be built by National Power of the UK.
It had been planned that Sengwe would then generate power to replace the
capacity which would have been generated by Batoka and an expanded Hwange.
The souring of relations between Zimbabwe and Britain after 1997 got in the
way and Sengwe was never built. Plans for gas turbine runners to generate
power in Lupane south also suffered the same fate. The project was initially
linked to the British and later to the Chinese before it fizzled out.
The old thermal power stations built in the late 1940s in Harare, Bulawayo
and Munyati, despite their refurbishment in the mid-1990s, are too expensive
to run and are almost obsolete.
Zesa does not have funds to buy coal and bring it all the way from Hwange.
December 4, 2009
By Owen Chikari
MASVINGO- John Nkomo, the Zanu-PF chairman, says he regrets the political
violence during last year's elections.
He says the country should never be plunged into such violence again.
Nkomo, whose party is largely blamed for the violence, becomes the second
senior member of Zanu-PF within the past two weeks, to condemn the acts.
Late last month, Zanu-PF secretary for women's affairs Oppah Muchinguri also
decried the political violence that took place during last year's
"I am worried about what happened last year," said Muchinguri. "We are about
18 months from the next elections and there is nothing being done to address
last year's violence."
The second round of the presidential election was called after main
contestants President Robert Mugabe of Zanu-PF and MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai were said to have failed to secure more than 50 percent of the
vote in the March 2008 election.
Tsvangirai pulled out of the race citing persecution and widespread violence
against his supporters. A coalition government has since been formed to pave
way for free and fair elections.
Nkomo, recently nominated by Zanu-PF to replace the late Joseph Msika as
Vice-President, acknowledged the barbarism during the election period.
"Last year's elections were bloody and people were killed and some maimed,"
said Nkomo. "We should not allow such a situation to re-occur; hence we have
to focus on the issue of reconciliation and national healing."
Nkomo made the remarks while addressing stakeholders, among them, civic
organisations and members of the public, during a national healing and
reconciliation meeting here.
"We have to move away from the culture of violence and therefore the issue
lies within us all to forge ahead with reconciliation and national healing,"
"Some people have no legs while others have no hands which were removed as a
result of last year's political violence during the run-up to the polls.
"Others lost relatives, and it is a fact the some people were killed. But
the point is that we have to learn from our mistakes and make sure that
Zimbabweans live in harmony through national healing and reconciliation".
Nkomo, who is the co-chairperson on National Healing and Reconciliation
Organ, said youths used during election period to commit acts of violence
should now focus on the root cause of the problems.
"Youths should find the root cause of the problem," said Nkomo . "They have
to deal with the causes of the problems so that in future they do not commit
acts of violence.
Co-chairperson of the committee Gibson Sibanda, of the smaller MDC, said
that the country had to focus on improving the lives of people. He
attributed some of the violence witnessed to date to poverty.
"The reason why we were fighting against each other is because we are very
poor," said Sibanda. "We have to make sure that the economic situation is
addressed so that Zimbabweans will focus on production other than fighting".
December 4, 2009
I ADMIT, maybe it should not be called a land reform. The word "reform"
tends to carry connotations of improvement.
I just call it that because that is what it is called by the President and
First Secretary of Zanu PF, who is also that revolutionary party's supreme
leader and oh, lest we forget, who is also the President of Zimbabwe and
Head of State and Government, in addition to being the Commander in Chief of
the Zimbabwe defence forces. Phew!
Some prefer to simply call it a "land grab" exercise. I doubt very much if
the greatest looter of them all, the Honourable Minister Ignatius Chombo,
would argue with that. In place of the Zanu-PF government policy of one
person one farm, he somehow managed to secure a total of 11 farms - yes
At the commencement of the programme, it was argued that some of the farms
were too big to be owned by one person. They had to be reduced in size so
that more people could be accommodated. Quite a number of white owned
commercial farms were reduced in size in accordance with this policy.
I have to digress a bit. So it was that when I last went home I bumped into
a former friend who happens to be a prominent member of the legal
fraternity. The circumstances that led to her being a former friend were
quite regrettable really.
In my library I have a copy of the report on the Gukurahundi massacres
authored by the Catholic Commission for Justice and peace, the one entitled
"Breaking the Silence: Building True Peace." My friend was furious when she
came across it, labelling it a pack of lies. As one who was schooled in
Matebeleland and worked there for some time, I could put faces to some of
those who disappeared without trace - teachers, a headmaster, some nurses.To
say I was incensed would be an understatement.
I must confess that it was not just the Gukurahundi tiff that ended our
friendship of several decades. It limped along for a while. At the onset of
the fast-track land grab exercise we used to have long discussions about the
injustices of it all. We wondered why it was necessary to kill people who
could easily have been driven off the land by other means. We wondered at
the inhumanity of simply throwing out farm labourers on to the streets and
moving multitudes on land without basic amenities such as schools and
But then again, one can never claim to know another person truly intimately.
Two years into the land grab exercise a shocking headline in The Cape Times
stared me in the face. My friend had grabbed a farm and given the owner
three days to vacate his property. Needless to say, when I got back home I
sought an explanation.
When she initially responded, "he should consider himself lucky because we
allowed him time to pack his stuff. Many left empty-handed", I thought I had
not heard her right. I begged her pardon and she went on to repeat the
statement. I was quiet for a good 15 minutes and then she sought to justify
her behaviour by saying her husband's business had gone bust because of the
sanctions which had been enforced by the white famers' ancestors. That was
the last we spoke. Our friendship had suffered irreparable damage and I
realised then I no longer had anything in common with my friend.
So when I bumped into her and her husband four years after they grabbed a
farm, I enquired about the farming activities at their "property". Curious
to know if they had bettered the previous farmer's production levels, I was
treated to a catalogue of excuses so long that I just marvelled at their
creativity. I quipped that the reason Barclays and other banks found
themselves in financial dire straits when the previous farm owners were
forced out overnight was due to the fact the commercial farmers had borrowed
to finance operations. "Ah, but government should help.."
I then asked them if by any chance they had diesel. As proud new farmers
they had plenty, of course, courtesy of NOCZIM. I, however, declined the
offer to buy some from them.
Here is why I declined. I argued that I wanted it for free or at best I
could match the price at which they had bought it from NOCZIM - an
equivalent of 5 United States cents per litre. I was not prepared to pay the
dollar per litter that they were unashamedly asking for - not to those
looters anyway. I told them in no uncertain terms that it was a national
resource and since I was also a bona fide citizen of the soil I was entitled
to the loot. They could not fully explain their justification for wanting to
make a 1900 percent profit from me.
Back to the topic. We have a situation where all the people who were
allocated farms claim ownership based on a piece of paper dubbed an 'offer
letter.' I am struggling to comprehend how such a letter could have been
written 11 times for Ignatius Chombo, 10 times for Peter Chanetsa, 10 times
for one Isaiah Shumba,6 or more times for Edna Madzongwe and 7 times for
Jonathan Moyo. It would be remiss of me to leave out Gersham Pasi, the ZIMRA
chief, who is the proud "owner" of 6 farms and Air Vice Marshall Perrence
Shiri, who also "owns" a similar number. Robert and Grace Mugabe, at 4 and 3
farms respectively, though not doing badly themselves, are not the worst of
None of the looters have, thus far, invited us to see what exactly they are
doing with this land. What is clear is that they have failed, dismally, to
feed the nation.
This is a negligible percentage of the list of multiple farm owners, among
them members of the first family. These 'offer letters' have been described
as legal documents that are meant to prove ownership. A common feature of
beneficiaries, needless to say, is their membership to Zanu-PF. Former
Masvingo Governor Willard Chiwewe, who allegedly has six farms to his name,
famously threatened to expose his partners-in-crime if he were forced to
surrender any of them.
Here is what I have been pondering. Does it mean that when these people pass
on, these farms will automatically be inherited by their partners and
offspring? Are they entitled to list them down in their wills and dish them
out to whomsoever they wish? So, future generations are supposed to accept
that Chombo owned 11 farms based on letters written by Didymus Mutasa and
his children will be entitled to hold on to them as their own while the rest
of our children look on with envy?
Let us suppose that one day we actually become a lawful country once more,
with a desire to be treated like any other civilised country. The land
looters have so far managed to hold on to their ill-gotten wealth because
they have disregarded court rulings and even passed legislation in
retrospect to legitimise their the looting.
Future generations will want to know why Bona, Robert and Chatunga can claim
ownership to land whose title deeds are in the possession of Skea's
children. Will future courts uphold Bona's ownership of stolen land based on
the argument that Robert Mugabe grabbed it from someone who, even though
they had bought it after government expressed no interest in it, was deemed
an illegal owner because of his/he ancestry?
We already have a foretaste of things to come in the form an international
court ruling in favour of the Dutch farmers whose land, which they had
bought well after independence I might add, was forcibly taken. Any of our
planes could be confiscated if it landed in a country willing to enforce the
judgment. The SADC Tribunal, though trashed by Mugabe, Chinamasa and their
colleagues-in-land grabbing, also gave us a foretaste of what a saner future
Zimbabwe will have to deal with.
Some of the looters are so young that they will outlive President Mugabe by
decades. Will Chombo et al hire a team of defence lawyers to defend legal
"ownership" of all the 11 farms? What happens if a post Zanu-PF lands
minister issues another set of offer letters granting ownership to a new set
of new farmers? Can the current and future "owners" refuse to vacate, seeing
that we have known of senior Zanu-PF members getting letters from Didymus
Mutasa which overrode older ones, thereby forcibly removing earlier "owners"?
Not so long ago, Justice Ben Hlatshwayo was forcibly removed from a farm
which he had forcibly taken from a white farmer. He was ordered to make way
for the first lady. Ironically, he sought redress from the courts. Needless
to say the same courts he has consistently used to benefit Zanu-PF and
government did not give him a sympathetic ear. The judge must be a bitter
and devastated man. Could it be that that he honestly did not know there is
no honour among thieves?
As a matter of fact, Herbert Murerwa, the current lands Minister could also
issue offer letters nullifying those issued by Mutasa. To crown it all, what
would stop future generations from staging the same kind of invasions
invented by Robert Mugabe as a way of correcting past injustices?
And to think that Robert Mugabe is immensely proud of this mess, touting it
across Africa as one of his major, if not the only achievement in three
decades of ruling Zimbabwe! Africa too has rejoiced over this tragedy,
venerating the looters to levels never witnessed on the continent before.
"They fixed the white man!" is the cry one hears from our brothers and
sisters across the continent. It is as if it is okay for black people to
experience intolerable hardship as long as the whites are made to suffer a
little bit in the process.
Ironically, none of our African brothers have followed in Robert Mugabe's
footsteps. Instead, there has been a scramble for white farmers fleeing
Zimbabwe. Interestingly former Nigerian President Obasanjo argued that it
would be foolhardy for Africa to lose such world class farming skills, as he
laboured to put into place all manner of incentives to lure them to his
How come it was okay for Zimbabwe to lose them?
The winner of the Guardian First Book award on finding comedy in tragedy - and why she is not the voice of Zimbabwe
The early press material for An Elegy for Easterly, the collection of short stories that this week won the Guardian First Book award, called Petina Gappah "the voice of Zimbabwe". She objected to her publisher, and it was rewritten. But too late: it is there on Amazon, which had received proof copies of the book, a ponderous phrase that misrepresents the way she sees herself as a writer.
"It's very troubling to me because writing of a place is not the same as writing for a place," she says. "If I write about Zimbabwe, it's not the same as writing for Zimbabwe or for Zimbabweans. I have to remember that as much as there are many people unhappy with Robert Mugabe's regime, there are many who are not: about 49% [of the electorate] voted for him."
Gappah faces the perennial problem for writers from Africa seeking to win favour from the western media: how to avoid being pigeonholed. "I get irritated by the term 'African writer'," she says, "because it doesn't mean anything to me. Africa is so big. There are some people who are happy to be African writers. They are pan-Africanists. I'm not a pan-Africanist. I think African countries have a lot in common. But we are also very different. I'm very happy to hang out with my friends from other African countries who are writers, but I don't see myself as an African writer, because it comes with certain expectations of you."
Gappah, a vivid and instantly likable 38-year-old who has taken a day off from her job as a lawyer with the Advisory Centre on WTO Law in Geneva to come to London to receive her prize, defeats any such expectations. She is her own woman, self-confident and in control of what promises to be a significant literary career. Her first novel, The Book of Memory, will be published in 2011, and her second - an inter-generational epic spanning Zimbabwean life from 1945 to 2005 - is already being planned.
An Elegy for Easterly, with its 13 short stories offering portraits of people struggling to get by in economically depressed, inflation-racked Zimbabwe, is a remarkably assured debut. Gappah's tone is far from the weightiness that the phrase "voice of Zimbabwe" suggests. In some of the stories, notably "The Mupandawana Dancing Champion", it is comic, and in an interview earlier this year she said: "If I truly had the courage of my convictions, I would be a full-blown comic novelist." In reality, she occupies that ambiguous (but fertile) ground where the reader is unsure whether this is tragedy or comedy. In the face of such calamity you would, like Oscar Wilde, need a heart of stone not to laugh. "One of my favourite episodes from the last government was when they were conned by this woman, who had been educated up to third grade, into believing that she had found diesel flowing from a rock," says Gappah. "Ministers went to the rock to pay homage. It was like Brown and Mandy going to Stonehenge to pray for diesel to come out. There's something savagely funny about the situation. George Orwell said the political joke was important to any revolution: if you can laugh at the people who oppress you, they suddenly don't become so powerful."
Gappah has always wanted to write and says she has been scribbling away from the age of 10, but it took her years to find a voice. She made a previous attempt on her state-of-the-nation epic, but found herself writing propaganda, real "voice of Zimbabwe" stuff. "It was awful," she says. "It didn't read like anything I wanted to read." Her eureka moment came in 2006, when she wrote "Something Nice from London", a story about a family waiting at the airport for a corpse to be flown back from the UK. "That was the first thing that I wrote from beginning to end, almost in one sitting. Where it always stopped before was that I didn't understand that writing was revision. You have to revise and revise and revise. I wrote it like I would write one of the judgments at work."
She proceeded to write 22 stories in the following 18 months, was approached by an agent who saw a story published in Prospect, got a deal with Faber, and is now being published round the world. She will not, however, be giving up her high-powered legal job. "I'm going to carry on because I love my job," she explains, "but also I think it's going to afford me a measure of protection. I don't want to write because I have to; I want to write because I want to. Sometimes when writers write because they have to, the results are disastrous."
She says she has no difficulty finding time to write, producing a thousand words a day, though much of it may eventually be binned. It's not quite Trollopian in its volume, but is still miraculous, not least because Gappah is a single mother with a five-year-old son called Kush, something she is reluctant to talk about for a reason I find rather sweet. "My parents would not like me to talk about it in print, but yes I am a single mother. I have a very good relationship with my son's dad, who lives in The Hague."
Gappah was born in 1971 in white-run Rhodesia. She calls the system "half-hearted apartheid", but may be being generous: her family lived in a black-people-only township, and her first school was designated for black children. After liberation in 1980, however, all things became possible - her stories portray the 80s as a golden age. Her family moved to a formerly white area in what is now Harare, and she was one of the first black pupils in a primary school formerly reserved for white children. "There were six black kids out of a class of 22," she recalls. "Suddenly I found myself in a minority, which was very odd to say the least."
Her father worked in a bank and was what she calls an "autodidact": he had been denied a university education but was determined Gappah and her four siblings should get one. Four of the five are now based outside Zimbabwe, a commentary on why the country is in such a mess. She studied law at the University of Zimbabwe - she wanted to be a journalist and writer, but her father insisted she become a lawyer; then, in 1995, went to Austria to do a doctorate in international trade law at Graz University, combined with a masters degree at Cambridge. She has been based in Geneva since 1998, and currently advises developing countries involved in trade disputes.
Does she feel guilty to have left Zimbabwe? "You're the first person to ask me about guilt," she says, "but yes, you do feel guilty, especially when you have dinner-party conversations where people say, 'Oh, those Zimbabweans, why aren't they getting rid of their tyrant? They should just go out on to the streets.' Yeah, but where are you? In Geneva. How can you talk about people going out on to the streets? There is a measure of guilt, but at the same time being outside Zim gives me a more objective eye. We're not that special: you're like any other country that has had a similar history. Kenya's been through the same thing, Nigeria has, but it is human to only see your own crisis and your own dilemmas. Because I've been able to see it in a larger context, that's freed me to be more distanced." How does she manage to root her work in Zimbabwe without being there? "I don't live there physically, but I'm there mentally," she says simply.
The Zimbabwe she writes about is a country where life goes on in the face of political oppression and economic collapse. "We so often see people in the news," she says, "yet we don't really think about what it is like to live in a place that's in the news. But it is really like anywhere else. They still have weddings in Afghanistan and Iraq." It was, she says, one of the keys she discovered in unlocking the secret of writing: "You don't focus on the big moments, you focus on the people, the tiny little moments." The voice of Zimbabwe would write about the nightmare of that country. Petina Gappah writes about the dreams and, above all, the dreamers.
An Elegy for Easterly is published by Faber, £7.99.