By Walter Marwizi
GIFT Chimanikire, deputy secretary general of the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) is likely to challenge the party's president, Morgan
Tsvangirai, at the party's second congress in three months' time.
The MDC congress is set for the end of February next year while the
revelations come at a time when members of the pro-Senate faction who have
been tussling with Tsvangirai are reportedly facing a backlash from their
Apart from fighting Tsvangirai and national executive members who last week
resolved to formally disassociate themselves from the group, the faction
will soon be pitted against ordinary members of the constituency who are
calling for their ouster from parliament.
Under the MDC constitution, which has become a much sought after document,
district executive committees unhappy with the conduct of their MPs have a
right to "recall" their legislators from Parliament. All they need to do is
to come up with a petition signed by a two-thirds majority, which will be
forwarded to the National Council.
If the Council endorses their decision, it would then request the MPs to
resign, paving the way for a by-election once the national chairperson
informs the Speaker of Parliament
This process, The Standard was informed, has already started in Mbare, St
Mary's, Glen Norah and Harare North, where Chimanikire, Job Sikhala,
Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Trudy Stevenson are MPs respectively.
Stevenson and Misihairabwi could not be reached for comment yesterday but
Sikhala dismissed the process as nonsense.
He said: "If it is true that these people are engaging in these dangerous
political games, there will be a war of Armageddon: the beginning and the
While this squabbling continues, it emerged yesterday that the pro-Senate
faction is gearing up to mount a challenge against Tsvangirai's leadership
at the congress.
The Standard understands that Chimanikire, who has hogged the limelight as
the "spokesperson" of the pro-Senate faction is fast emerging as the
candidate who would take the president head on.
The faction, whose participation at the congress is yet to be confirmed last
week "suspended" Tsvangirai and announced that they had lodged an urgent
application to bar the president from conducting party business.
Asked by The Standard if his faction would select a candidate to challenge
Tsvangirai at the congress, Chimanikire would not rule that out.
"We are not disabled. The majority is on our side and we will caucus before
congress. There is no sacred cow in politics."
Chimanikire however said this could only happen when the faction was
satisfied that the electoral system had not been manipulated.
Pressed to confirm whether he was going to be the candidate or not
Chimanikire, who first had a hearty laugh, said: "Hold your horses. It's too
early. Tiri kudyara mbeu hatisati takohwa. We will let you know. Keep
phoning, one day unofona musi unenge wazvarwa mwana (you will be lucky)."
He was aware, he said, of moves to remove him from his parliamentary
"They are doing it in all constituencies, even mine, trying to adulterate
structures in preparation for congress. We are however taking measures to
stop this. There might get one or two people in my constituency but I have
resources set aside to counter these moves," said Chimanikire.
Meanwhile Tsvangirai told The Standard yesterday that he was looking forward
to a contest with Chimanikire or anybody in the deeply divided opposition
"The congress is an open season. Anyone who aspires to hold any position
will be free to do so. This will give Zimbabweans an opportunity to come up
with a robust leadership," he said.
The MDC leader said that this would also help Zimbabweans to realise that
the crisis in the MDC had nothing to do with the Senate.
"At least it has come out in the open what the real issue is - power," he
By Gibbs Dube
BULAWAYO - More than 15 homes have been swept away by flash floods in
Tsholotsho district leaving an estimated 100 villagers homeless and in need
of relief aid.
According to aid agencies, hospital authorities and police, no person has so
far been reported missing or dead after the floods, reportedly the worst to
hit the south-western part of Zimbabwe so far this year.
Relief agencies told The Standard that the heavy downpours, which hit the
district and surrounding areas last Thursday and Friday, left a trail of
destruction with two burst dams, and marooned hamlets.
They said the worst affected areas were Malanda, Dinyane, Nanda, Zibi and
other parts of North Nata communal lands.
A senior worker with a relief agency, who is based in Tsholotsho said:
"There is water everywhere and most villagers in these areas are struggling
to come to terms with what has happened. The worst affected villagers are
those near Hambeni and Mguzana dams which burst following the heavy rains.
He added that water from the burst dams swept away homes downstream while
other areas were seriously affected by flash floods.
"There is need for assistance from government and relief agencies before the
situation gets out of hand," he said.
Another relief worker said most villagers lost large quantities of donated
food aid and as a result needed urgent food supplies and tents. "We hope
that government and relief agencies will take immediate action to avert a
crisis in Tsholotsho," he said.
Bulawayo Metropolitan Governor Cain Mathema, a Tsholotsho resident, is
believed to have been among hundreds of travellers who were left stranded at
the district business centre for more than five hours on Friday following
the flooding of Godzo River. He could not be reached for comment yesterday.
By our staff
THREE people died in Zvimba last week, while 90 others were treated after
they were suspected of contracting anthrax.
Environmental health officers dispatched to the area said the 90 people were
taken to Murombedzi Hospital, where some were treated and later discharged,
but others were still detained by late Friday.
According to medical sources in Zvimba, one of the dead, an elderly person,
admitted consuming meat from livestock that succumbed to anthrax.
Anthrax is a serious disease affecting sheep and cattle that can be
transmitted to humans. The deaths in Zvimba come hot on the heels of reports
of an unknown disease that has hit cattle at Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
Governor Gideon Gono's Donnington farm near Norton.
Sources who visited the farm last Saturday said they saw three carcasses,
which were in a decomposing state.
The source said: "We saw about three dead cattle on the sides of the road in
the farm. When we asked one of the workers about the animals, he told us
they had died because of overfeeding."
Workers at the farm said a sudden transformation from feeding on dry
roughage to eating new green grass, growing after the recent rains, might
have caused the deaths.
"The cattle have been feeding on dry roughage and they are now eating fresh
green grass. That sudden shift might have affected them," said one of the
The farm manager, Chamunorwa Mateyo, confirmed to The Standard that cattle
were dying at the farm but was not sure of the cause of death.
"About 20 cattle have died so far, but we have not yet established the cause
of death. Over the past months it has been very difficult to find cattle
feed. We were feeding the cattle on poultry droppings from Crest Breeders,"
He said there are over 2 000 cattle on the farm.
A livestock specialist said new grass that grows just after the rains is not
rich in nutrition for animals because of its high water levels. "Poultry
droppings are very rich in nutrition and they are very good for cattle feed.
They have got a high protein and urea content and they are commonly fed to
cattle," said the expert.
Gono was not immediately available for a comment last week. Aides said he
was attending meetings.
By our staff
THE British government has once again rescued millions of Zimbabweans from
starvation, with a cash donation of 10 million pounds for the World Food
Programme (WFP) to source up to 40 000 tonnes of food aid.
The donation, amounting to about Z$1.23 trillion at the official current
exchange rate, was made through Britain's Department for International
Development (DFID) on Friday.
Kevin Farrell, WFP's country director for Zimbabwe said the donation was a
timely gesture by the British, as the world's largest humanitarian
organisation is "scaling up programmes to reach over three million
"Combined with support from a range of donors, DFID's generous contribution
helps WFP to buy food regionally for distribution in Zimbabwe at the height
of the hungry season," said Farrell at a signing ceremony to accept the
Recent reports indicate that over three million people are in urgent need of
food aid, following a poor harvest in the last farming season, as well as an
unstable economic and political environment. Once acquired, the 40 000
tonnes of food would be enough to feed over three million people for one
Head of DFID in Zimbabwe, John Barret, reiterated his country's willingness
to support Zimbabwe, particularly "the poorest and most vulnerable" of the
population. The contribution is an addition to another 40 million pounds
(Z$14.7 trillion) spent by DFID in Zimbabwe through UN agencies and
Most organisations are likely to follow suit after the signing, on Thursday,
of an agreement between the WFP and Zimbabwe government on the delivery of
food aid to millions of people in the country. Among other things, the
agreement sets out the framework for food aid distribution, clarifying
government and WFP responsibilities.
The agreement, signed by Farrell and Nicholas Goche, the Minister of Public
Service, Labour and Social Welfare, will run until June next year, when the
food situation would be reassessed.
Over the past few months, the government has been criticised for blocking
food aid from humanitarian agencies including the WFP to millions of people
because of bureaucratic bungling. This has impelled some humanitarian
organisations to cancel food aid to Zimbabwe.
By our staff
FINANCE Minister Herbert Murerwa's projections for 2006 are not attainable
as economic fundamentals were pointing to a decline in economic growth,
economic commentators said last week.
Announcing the $123.9 trillion National Budget on Thursday, Murerwa was
optimistic saying the economy would record a growth of between 2% and 3.5%
in 2006 with agriculture the main driver. In his forecast Murerwa said
agriculture was expected to register a growth of 14.8%.
Murerwa said on Thursday: "This is on the back of a normal rainy season,
increased hectarage under irrigation, timely provision of critical inputs
and the introduction of the targeted production programme to promote food
"Growth in the agricultural sector will be driven by the increased
production of maize (+33%) and cotton (+26%)."
Murerwa projected that annual inflation would decline to 80% in December
2006. Analysts cautioned last week saying the economic projections "lacked
"We will be fortunate if we do not have a negative growth," said Eric Bloch,
a Bulawayo-based economic commentator. Bloch disputed the growth in
agriculture saying tobacco output for 2005 was 30% less than last year.
At a time when the country's seed maize producers were failing to meet the
requirements, maize production would be severely hampered. The country
requires 100 000 tonnes of seed maize annually while seed maize houses are
producing a paltry 30 000 tonnes.
On the growth in tourism, Bloch said the negative publicity the country had
faced due to farm invasions and murders of white farmers would make it
impossible for the country to register growth in tourism.
Bloch said the economic fundamentals were pointing to a bigger budget
deficit than Murerwa's forecast. Murerwa forecast a budget deficit of $13.9
trillion representing - 4% of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Bloch said the proposed increase in the income tax-free threshold from $1.5
million to $7 million was a positive development meant to cushion workers.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) also concurred with Bloch on
the income tax-free threshold but said it has to be aligned to the Poverty
"The ZCTU expected that the income tax-free threshold would be equated to
the Poverty Datum Line which is $12.9 million as at November 2005," said
Collen Gwiyo, ZCTU acting secretary general.
Gwiyo said the political situation remained an impediment to any measures
designed to arrest economic decline.
"While relief measures in the budget are most welcome, it is clear that
workers will not be able to fully enjoy them in full in the context of
circumscribed civil liberties. Economic rights cannot be fully enjoyed
without the corresponding human and trade union rights," he said.
By Valentine Maponga & Gibbs Dube
THE Zanu PF annual National People's Conference, set for Umzingwane next
weekend is unlikely to come up with any tangible strategies to solve
Zimbabwe's mounting problems, analysts said yesterday.
Many were unconvinced the conference - expected to attract about 5 000
people to the rural Umzingwane High School, freshly refurbished by the
government to the tune of $6 billion - would provide solutions to the
economic crisis facing Zimbabwe.
The food situation remains precarious with more than 3 million people
desperately in need of food aid.
As these problems continue to mount, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ)
on Thursday reported that a low-income family of six now required at least
$12.9 million a month to survive.
"Judging by their previous conferences, we don't anticipate anything that
will solve the country's problems. It is going to be the usual rhetoric,"
said Professor Gordon Chavunduka, a political analyst.
Unlike the previous conference, which was very lively with the succession
issue drawing much heated debate among delegates, this year's is set to be
low key as there was little interest among the rank and file. By Friday
afternoon, many of the party's provinces had not finalised their submissions
to be tabled at the conference.
Provincial chairpersons contacted last week said they had not finalised
John Mafa, the chairperson for Zanu PF's Mashonaland West Province, said
they were expected to finalise their report yesterday. "We are having our
meeting this weekend and that is when we would come up with our report."
Masvingo provincial chairperson, Samuel Mumbengegwi, also said they had not
finalised the matter.
"I am still in Harare but I will be travelling back to Masvingo over the
weekend (yesterday) for the provincial co-ordinating committee meeting. That
is where the provincial report will be finalised," said Mumbengegwi.
Zanu PF spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira last week refused to talk about the
conference agenda. However, authoritative sources within the ruling party
indicated that there was nothing on the agenda to excite ordinary people,
suffering the brunt of economic hardships
"I am informed that apart from the economic turnaround programme, we will
discuss current issues bedevilling Zimbabwe such as the fuel crisis,
shortages of foreign currency and food and heroines of the liberation
struggle," said one Zanu PF official.
"The ruling party is currently compiling information on living and dead
heroines with the view of writing a book about them. Such issues are likely
to be part of the agenda.
"The Senate has many women and as a result gender issues will also be
discussed," he said.
Another senior ruling party official said Bulawayo district executive
members were in the process of trying to influence their colleagues to
include the controversial issue of the government's recruitment of outsiders
for top jobs in the Matabeleland region.
"If they succeed, this may be one of the top issues that could stir a lot of
debate at the conference. This has nothing to do with tribalism but about
giving jobs to people from the region regardless of their tribe," said the
official who is a central committee member.
The Zanu PF members also noted that the choice of the venue for the annual
conference was a deliberate move by the ruling party to appease the people
of Matabeleland South who have, during the past five years, mostly voted for
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in national elections.
"We believe that we must be seen to be with the people in good and bad times
and therefore it is wise to hold a conference in the middle of the region
widely seen as an MDC stronghold. People in the region and elsewhere are
facing various problems and we need to address those issues," said another
Zanu PF official.
He said although delegates to the conference would not openly discuss the
implications of setting up the Senate, "many ruling party activists are
generally worried about the institution as they are not sure of its
relevance at a time they are facing a lot of financial problems due to
Zimbabwe's economic meltdown. "The economic turnaround programme appears to
be failing because politicians are not implementing strategies mapped out by
the Reserve Bank. If the ruling party is serious about this programme, the
government would not have held the recent Senate elections," he said.
BULAWAYO - Zanu PF, which failed yet again to win a single seat in Bulawayo
in last week's Senate elections, is carrying out a restructuring exercise
meant to strengthen its grassroots support base.
The ruling party lost all five seats to the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) in an election which was characterised by voter apathy following
squabbles in the opposition party and the general harsh economic climate in
Effort Nkomo, the ruling party's Bulawayo Provincial Secretary for
Information and Publicity said: "We have a strong leadership with a weak
foundation. We will not win anything in any election if this scenario is not
He said the restructuring exercise was designed to strengthen the party at
"What we have to do now is to re-build our structures from the foundation.
We will continue doing this as it is a process and not a one-day event,"
However, he said Zanu PF had gained ground in Matabeleland where it won nine
of the 15 contested Senate seats.
He said: "As you are aware, we always have a problem with the urban
population but there was a change of fortunes this time considering the
election result margins that we witnessed in the March parliamentary
elections. This time, we managed to close the gap and there is always life
The loss last week was a big blow to the party as it had embarked on a
massive campaign. Zanu PF temporarily shifted its headquarters from Harare
to a command centre, set up at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF)
showing rounds where it launched its campaign.
The party's presidium and political commissariat descended on Bulawayo with
President Robert Mugabe spearheading the election campaign through donating
an assortment of computers to 10 schools in the city.
Not to be outdone, some ruling party candidates like former PF Zapu
intelligence guru, Dumiso Dabengwa, donated millions of dollars to informal
traders in Nkulumane suburb.
By Gibbs Dube
BULAWAYO - Residents facing serious water problems here have found relief
following last week's heavy downpours in this city that has experienced
critical water shortages over the years.
Some residents have even dug shallow pits, resembling rural wells, near
their homes in order to cater for their domestic chores.
Several residents told The Standard that the water problems had worsened
during the past two weeks as taps had also dried up in suburbs, now
accustomed to erratic supplies.
"We have no option but to draw water from water puddles, makeshift wells and
rooftops. We use water drawn from makeshift wells and water puddles for
flushing our toilets. Water drawn from rooftops is used for cooking, washing
and consumption," said a distraught Angelina Moyo of Cowdray Park, where
residents have been without water for more than four months.
She said although families were exposed to various water-borne diseases,
"there is nothing we can do because the government has failed to come up
with a long-lasting solution to the water problem".
Moyo said: "The government recently announced that construction of the
Gwayi-Shangani Dam was underway but I believe that this was a mere election
campaign strategy for the ruling party to entice voters to support the
"We have witnessed this scenario in past elections. It has become a chorus
that is now out of tune. This is possibly the reason why Zanu PF lost to the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the Senate elections in
Anita Nsingo (72), of Emakhandeni suburb, who was found collecting water
from the rooftop of her three-roomed house, said she had resorted to the
rudimentary ways of getting water in order to cater for her domestic chores.
"All this reminds me of my life in the rural areas where we used to draw
water from wells, water puddles and rooftops. After all, water drawn from
rooftops is not mixed with various chemicals . It is therefore provided by
God and good for us," said Nsingo.
Health experts, however, warned residents not to use water from puddles and
makeshift wells, saying this was exposing their lives to danger.
A city medical doctor said: "Water drawn from these sources is highly
contaminated with human waste and other pollutants not fit for human
consumption. But if this is done as a last resort, they should first boil
the water before use."
She said although water drawn from rooftops was traditionally used by
different African communities, it had to be utilised cautiously.
"People should take into account that the first rains have to wash away all
the dirt on rooftops before water is drawn from them. They should also boil
it in order to avoid water-borne diseases," she said.
The water shortages have been worsened by failure by the Zimbabwe National
Water Authority (Zinwa) to repair water engines at the Nyamandlovu aquifer,
which were either vandalised or stolen by war veterans at the height of farm
invasions in 2000.
Lower Ncema Dam has also dried up, bringing to three the number of dams that
are unable to feed the city's water supply network.
By our staff
GWANDA - A man in Deputy Minister of Environment and Tourism Andrew Langa's
entourage has appeared in court here for pointing a pistol at an opposition
Movement for Democratic Change campaign manager last month.
The incident occurred on 20 November at Sidzibe Business Centre, where
Siyabonga Ncube, an MDC campaign manager was addressing a rally to garner
support for their candidate, Albert Mkhandla.
Mkhandla, representing the opposition MDC in the controversial Senate
elections, lost the to Naison Ndlovu of Zanu PF.
According to court documents, Deputy Minister Langa stormed the MDC campaign
rally and started chanting Zanu PF slogans.
Ncube appealed to Langa to stop disrupting the rally, but Maxwell Nyoni - an
associate of the Deputy Minister - pulled out a Berretta .22 calibre pistol
loaded with five rounds of ammunition. He pointed it at the MDC activist.
Nyoni was however disarmed and the firearm later handed to police.
He was not asked to plead when he briefly appeared before Gwanda Magistrate
Douglas Zvenyika recently. He was remanded in custody to 6 December for
Admire Zvongouya appeared for the State.
By our staff
THE Governor and Resident Minister of the Midlands, Cephas Msipa, has taken
over Cheshire, a commercial farm on the outskirts of Gweru.
The dairy farm, which belonged to Graham Ingle, also produces flowers and
passion fruit for export.
Speaking to The Standard on Friday, Ingle confirmed that Msipa had taken
over the farm and would soon be moving onto the property.
"It's true; Msipa is taking over this farm. I am going to Australia as soon
as all the payments for the improvements on the farm have been made. As a
matter of fact, Msipa and his sons were here this afternoon.
"I told them that I don't think that a system, which allows government to
dispossess people of their farms willy-nilly is good for business or
investment. I do not see Zimbabwe's problems getting any better soon because
of such a system," Ingle said.
He said after his farm was designated in 2001, he unsuccessfully challenged
the designation on the basis that property was a dairy concern and he was
also in the export business.
He added, however, that unlike some white commercial farmers who had been
removed violently from their farms, he considered himself lucky, as Msipa
had not harassed him.
"I should say he has been very nice and has said although it is government
that should pay for the improvements on the farm, he is going to pay for
them himself," Ingle said.
Msipa confirmed that he is taking over Cheshire farm. Asked if this was not
in contravention of the one-man one-farm policy of the government since he
owns another farm in Zvishavane, Msipa said he gave up ownership of the
Zvishavane farm three months ago.
"I surrendered the offer letter to the (Zvishavane) farm three months ago
and the farm has been re-allocated to someone else," Msipa said. He would
not, however, say who the new owner of the Zvishavane farm was.
Efforts to establish independently if he had surrendered the farm were
unsuccessful at the time of going to print.
Meanwhile, the government has kicked out 20 productive farmers off their
land in less than three months. Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) spokesperson
Kimberly Davelin, told The Standard that the situation on the farms was very
"We have lost 20 farmers since the Constitutional Amendments," said Davelin
referring to the 17th Amendment, which nationalised all agricultural land in
"Farmers, who have been productive, growing crops, have been threatened,
ordered to leave. It's bad," she lamented.
The new wave of evictions has been mainly concentrated on Manicaland,
Mashonaland Central and the Midlands provinces.
The evictions started shortly after State Security, Land Reform and
Resettlement Minister Didymus Mutasa announced in Masvingo that government
would embark on what he termed the "Faster Track".
Under this programme, he said, the acquisition of properties would be
speeded up in order to rid the country of the remaining farmers. While
Masvingo farmers have been spared the evictions, they have been hit-hard by
police and war veterans who are reportedlyplundering their valuable
equipment, worth billions of dollars.
PARASTATALS have played such a critical role in the survival of the ruling
party and the government that it is unlikely there is any real intention or
commitment by the government to privatise them.
In his Budget proposals on Thursday, Finance Minister, Dr Herbert Murerwa,
said the government would privatise seven parastatal organisations. His
argument was that the State firms were a drain on the fiscus. That was not a
new discovery, unless the minister was all along unaware of this obvious
But we believe that the minister and the government knew all along that
taxpayers' money was being used to support under-performing State firms. It
is possible, therefore, that when the minister proposes privatisation he and
the government mean something else and not what is commonly understood of
As if to prove the futility of Murerwa's budget proposals, the second day
after they were presented President Robert Mugabe was off to Bamako in Mali
for the 23rd France-Africa Summit, further compounding the woes of troubled
national airline, Air Zimbabwe.
The government's tendency to use parastatals for purposes of political
patronage is legendary. In part, it explains why Air Zimbabwe, the National
Railways of Zimbabwe, the Cold Storage Company and the Agricultural and
Rural Development Authority, among many others, are in a sorry state.
True, there have been one or two success stories in the commercialisation of
parastatal organisations - the Cotton Company and Dairibord Zimbabwe are
ready examples, but it is unlikely that the government, facing declining
popularity and with voter apathy at its peak could countenance relinquishing
its electoral trump card. The government has used parastatal organisations
to reward its cronies and youth militia or to assist its campaigns as was
the case with the Zesa transport during campaigning for the 31 March
For the government to relinquish its hold on parastatals would be to sign
its own death warrant.
The 31 March Parliamentary and the 26 November Senate elections provided
useful indicators of how much support the ruling party and the government
enjoy among the voters. Privatising parastatal organisations at this
juncture would therefore be suicidal for the government.
The only context in which "privatisation" of parastatal organisations would
be welcome and acceptable to the government would be in transforming the
parastatals into enterprises that fund-raise for Zanu PF. This was
demonstrated a fortnight ago by Zupco, which gave $1.5 billion towards the
hosting of the ruling party's conference, which is due to kick off in
Esigodini on Thursday this week. Dwindling support and inadequate resources
from Treasury under the Political Parties Finances Act have brought about
the need for a shift in expectations.
There is yet another side to this interest in privatisation. It comes under
the guise of black economic empowerment. The ruling elite is spreading its
tentacles into the various sectors of the economy in order to entrench and
secure its future in the post-Mugabe era.
The other reason why Murerwa presented such a proposal could be a cynical
attempt to coax support of international financial institutions for
Zimbabwe's economic turnaround strategy. The proposal on privatisation of
parastatal organisations has elements borrowed from the Economic Structural
Adjustment Programme, which Zimbabwe found a bitter pill to swallow and
whose implementation Zimbabwe baulked at.
But there is a basis for our scepticism about the government's proposal on
privatising parastatal organisations; last year the Privatisation Agency of
Zimbabwe underwent a restructuring and a downgrading. It moved from the
President's Office to the Ministry of Finance. What in effect this means, is
that in its present form and location, it can only play an advisory role to
other ministries. From this stand point the privatisation Murerwa proposed
is medium to long-term and not something that is likely to be implemented
within the next 12 months.
In this respect, the proposal on privatisation of parastatals was an example
of the government indulging in setting targets it will and has no intention
of fulfilling. It was an exercise that brought out all the best in the
accomplished diplomat that Minister Murerwa is.
Equally dubious is the proposal that government departments will not be
allowed to spend outside their allocated budget amounts. Let's wait and see
whether he will not approach Parliament for approval of a supplementary
budget during the third quarter of next year.
After all this is the season of wishes.
By Ndamu Sandu
THE cancellation of Air Zimbabwe flights a fortnight ago was inevitable, as
the rot at the airline had reached unimaginable levels, investigations by
The cancellation of all flights as a result of the shortage of Jet A1 fuel
led to the suspension of group CEO Tendai Mahachi and Tendai Mujuru
divisional director for finance and company secretary.
Announcing the suspension board vice chairman Jonathan Kadzura said the
suspensions were also "pending investigations into the serious disruptions
of the national airline's operations and services to customers".
Oscar Madombwe was appointed acting group CEO.
Investigations last week unravelled that Air Zimbabwe was living on borrowed
times as it had an accumulated debt of $43 billion and US$12.7 million as of
31 May 2004.
In the period from July 2003 to June 2004, Air Zimbabwe made a staggering
net loss of $60 billion.
Revenue from passengers as of 2004 stood at $68 billion, freight $6 billion
and non-core revenue $2 billion. Non core revenue consists of technical
handling, third party maintenance, commission received and account fees.
Although revenue in 2004 was a marked 315% increase from the previous year,
it emerged that the airline was exposing itself by over reliance on
Investigations last week unearthed that Air Zimbabwe's cost structure were
not corresponding with international standards. According to the
international cost structure, costs are divided into PAX (passenger related)
constituting 20%, flight related (50%), aircraft related (15%) and overheads
PAX related costs include catering, passenger insurance, amenities and
reservations and commission. Flight related costs are navigation, landing or
airport charges, ground handling, fuel, maintenance - including engineers'
salaries and allowance and crew salaries. Aircraft related costs include
aircraft insurance, manual, depreciation, interest (ownership charges).
Overheads are for instance general payroll, office rentals, finance charges,
stationery and electricity costs.
A look at Air Zimbabwe's cost structure revealed that its overheads, at 24%,
were too high attributed to high interest on the overdraft, flight related
were too high than the industry's requirements. At 54% the flight related
costs were 4 percentage points higher than the basic airline costs structure
and Air Zimbabwe attributes the increase to high fuel costs.
Air Zimbabwe's passenger related costs, at 13% were lower than the
Of the previous seven domestic routes Air Zimbabwe flew only three-
Bulawayo, Kariba and Victoria Falls - are operational. Four routes that were
scrapped included Buffalo Range, Masvingo, Gweru and Hwange National Park.
Of the previous 17 routes that Air Zimbabwe used to service, only five
routes - Lusaka, Lilongwe, Johannesburg, Mauritius and Nairobi - are
On the international routes, Air Zimbabwe flies to London, Dubai and
Beijing. The last two routes were introduced last year at the height of
government's "Look East" policy.
Air Zimbabwe's flight capacity stands at seven - three B737s, two B767s and
two MA60s. The B737s have an average age of 18 years while the 767s have an
average age of 15 years. The MA60s were acquired from China early this year.
As a result of the fleet age, it meant high costs of engine and general
aircraft spares and a rise in maintenance costs. Maintenance costs for the
767s have been on the increase from $0.2 billion in 2002 to $1.8 billion
The airline has also witnessed a high staff turnover as key personnel left
for the proverbial greener pastures.
In the period 1999-2004, the airline lost 112 key personnel made up of
managers (20), pilots (22) and engineers (68). Unlike other airlines in the
region, Air Zimbabwe is still to forge an alliance or partnership with other
regional or international players. Passengers wait with bated breath on the
proposed alliance with South African Airways announced early this year.
Described as a museum of mismanagement by the late Herbert Ushewokunze, then
Transport Minister, the airline has been on a freefall. This is the airline
that broke aviation records in May by flying a lone passenger from Dubai.
This is the same airline where the parent ministry is alleged to be
interfering from the day-to-day operations of the airline.
These are a cocktail of problems Mike Bimha and his board face to restore
sanity at the airline. The Cabinet approved a strategic turnaround document
whose mandate is to reposition the airline to viability and grow its
operations to levels of other elite airlines. It calls for the restructuring
of the airline into strategic business units - passenger airline,
engineering, cargo, "Galileo" and National Handling Services. The document
calls for the re-branding of the airline and establishment of strategic
alliances with regional and international players.
The re-branding is designed to usher in a new image for the airline
positioning Air Zimbabwe as "The African Airline".
From Europe, the strategic document says there is need to forge alliances
with Virgin Atlantic, Air France, SN Brussels, International Airlines, Swiss
International Air and Lufthansa.
In the Middle East, document says Air Zimbabwe has to look for possible
alliance with Emirate Airlines and Gulf Air while in the Far East possible
partnership with China Southland and Cathay Pacific could be developed.
The document calls for a cost benefit analysis on routes and has said there
is need to consider - from Africa - Nairobi, Dar es Salaam, Cairo, Luanda,
Lagos, Kinshasa and Accra.
In the Middle East, the document identified Dubai. In Europe, Paris and
Brussels have been identified. From the Far East comes in Singapore,
Beijing, Shanghai and Hongkong.
By our staff
FINANCE Minister Herbert Murerwa on Thursday pleaded with the National
Social Security Authority (NSSA) to take up equity in the Infrastructure
Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ).
Presenting the $123.9 trillion 2006 budget on Thursday, Murerwa said: "I
have also invited the insurance and pension funds, including the National
Social Security Authority to take up 30% of equity in IDBZ."
Government has 70% shareholding in IDBZ and the remainder is up for grabs
following the withdrawal of other shareholders. Initially the shareholders
of the bank were Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (10.52%), Zimre Holdings (0.28%),
Fidelity Life (0.18%), Fin Fund (15.86%) Africa Development Bank (0.2%),
Staff Share Trust (6.01%) and European Investment Bank (0.03%).
Murerwa said the establishment of IDBZ "has created window for raising
long-term capital to finance infrastructure projects, some of which were
being funded by government through the Public Sector Investment Programme".
Murerwa said government has set aside $ 9 trillion to recapitalise the bank.
Murerwa said that the $9 trillion would enable IDBZ to raise resources from
the market and follow best practices in project appraisal and financing to
ensure its viability.
However the money is below the $10.5 trillion Murerwa announced at the
unveiling of the institution in September.
Murerwa said then would-be shareholders would inject $4.5 trillion.
The restructuring at IDBZ has seen the addition of three new core functions
namely housing, energy and amenities and utilities.
IDBZ will anchor the provision of finance for such infrastructure as energy,
roads and railway networks, water supplies, telecommunications systems and
By our staff
GOVERNMENT will take tough action on ministries that owe local authorities,
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa announced Thursday.
Presenting the 2006 Budget Murerwa, government had mobilised resources to
settle the arrears through reducing the votes of defaulting ministries.
"In line with government's commitment to pay what it owes, I am proposing to
set aside resources to settle these debts," Murerwa said.
"Payment will be made directly to the suppliers once the amount of the dent
has been reconciled and confirmed by the debtor ministry."
He said ministries owed local authorities and parastatals money despite
Budget provisions made under ministries' votes. He said the defaulters were
incapacitating the operations of local authorities and parastatals.
Murerwa said: "This is not only poor financial management on the part of
accounting officers, but this also compromises the viability of suppliers."
Government ministries owe billions of dollars to local authorities and
parastatals and this has debilitated their operations.
* Tax-free threshold revised upwards to $7 million per month from
$1.5million effective 1 January 2006
* Budget deficit to be $13.9 trillion (-4.6%) of GDP
* $1.1 trillion for water and sewer infrastructure development in both urban
and rural areas
* Tax-free bonus income increased from $5 million to $20 million with effect
from 1 November 2005
* Unit trusts exempted from capital gains withholding tax to avoid double
taxation effective 1 January 2006
* Restructuring of parastatals through strategic alliances and joint
* Civil servants wage bill for 2006 to be within $30 trillion
* Ministries that exceed budget allocations will be garnished 10% on vote
* Mining sector expected to grow by 27% in 2006
* Economy expected to grow by between 2% and 3.5% in 2006
* Annual inflation expected to decline to 80% by the end of 2006
* Government committed to honour its external obligations in line with
improvements in balance of payment positions
* Further liberalization of the foreign exchange transactions in 2006.
* $11.4 billion for Securities Commission
* Penalty imposed to discourage exportation of raw materials with potential
for value addition
* Duty to be charged in foreign currency on selected luxury motor vehicles
effective 8 December 2005.
By our Staff
POWER utility ZESA Holdings will inject US$650
million into the ambitious USS$1.86 billion Gokwe North fired power station,
Standardbusiness has learnt.
Documents in possession of Standardbusiness reveal
that foreign funders will inject 61.3% of the total funding constituting
US$1.030 billion. Local funding has been pegged at 38.7% of the cost.
According to plans for the ambitious project, ZESA
will generate 1400MW more electricity after completion. At present the
coal-based power generator is producing 1670 MW of power through Kariba and
Hwange Power Stations.
The project is premised on the huge amount of coal
reserves, which stand at 1.3 billion tonnes. At an annual consumption rate
of 5.4 million tonnes, the project has a capacity to last for 420 years.
Documents reveal that Gokwe North has 4735 hectares
of coal mining area and the power station will be located 2km from the mine
occupying 40 hectares. Water from the project will be pumped from Lake
The project does not require a dragline and the
conveyor belt is used to deliver coal to the power station.
ZESA says the levelised electricity tariff from the
project is envisaged to be USc4.52 to Usc5.22 per kWh.
Government will offer as incentives tax holidays for
new investments, dividend and profit repatriation and independent energy or
price regulation and other investment incentives, ZESA says.
ZESA had not responded to questions sent to them a
Gokwe North power station is one of the projects the
power utility is undertaking to boost energy security requirements ahead of
expected power shortages in the southern African region in 2007.
ZESA also intends to expand Hwange and Kariba Power
Station by two units each and the US$2.5 billion Batoka Hydro Electric
The southern region faces power blackout in 2007
unless investments are made into the electricity generation sector.
A meeting by power utilities under the Southern
African Power Pool (SAPP) and potential investors in Johannesburg a
fortnight ago resolved that countries would have to invite possible
investors. Potential investors that graced the investment conference
included Development Bank of South Africa, Citibank, World Bank, Bank of
Tokyo, European Investment Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, NedBank GE Energy
and Tata of India among others.
Representing Zimbabwe at the conference were Sydney
Gata, Obert Nyatanga and Edward Rugoyi (ZESA) and Mavis Chidzonga from
Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory Commission.
Zimbabwe has available maximum capacity of 2 350MW
through internal dependendable capacity (1700MW) and imports through
bilateral agreements (650MW) while its maximum demand is 2100MW.
It will require an additional 1750MW by 2007 made up
of import displacement (650MW), Expanded Rural Electrification Programme
(450MW), new investments (400MW) and spinning reserve (250MW).
By our Staff
THE Cold Storage Company Ltd (CSC) has released $44billion to farmers in a
move meant to revitalize the beef industry.
Standardbusiness heard last week that the funds are part of the $100 billion
set aside for livestock supply for farmers.
Patience Madambi CSC public relations officer confirmed to Standardbusiness
on the release of funds adding that: "the funds are coming in tranches and
this year $44 billion has been distributed to farmers".
The beef industry has not been performing well since the outbreak of foot
and mouth disease in 2001.
Madambi said the CSC had embarked on a marketing drive by searching for new
markets. A delegation from CSC has been on a marketing trip to China.
"Our company is constantly looking for new markets and recently we sent a
delegation to China to invite them to come and look at our products,"
"That move has paid dividends as some companies there are keen on buying our
Madambi said the marketing drive would also take CSC to other countries as
the company searches for ways to grow its markets, which has been affected
by a European Union ban on beef products owing to the foot and mouth
CSC, Madambi said, has also embarked on a livestock supply scheme in which
up to 400 farmers have benefited over the last year. CSC has also introduced
feeding and breeding schemes under which 264 farmers feed cattle for 120
days before slaughter and breeding cows for restocking.
Sundayopinion by Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem
PRESIDENT Olusegun Obasanjo in his capacity as the chair of the African
Union AU hosted a conference on Africa and the Challenges of the global
Desirability of the Union Government
Five Heads of State and government including President Thabo Mbeki (South
Africa), John Kuffour (Ghana), Abdoulaye Wade (Senegal), Prime Minister
Meles Zenawi (Ethiopia) and President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria who
was represented by his Prime minister along with several foreign ministers
and ambassadors were present at the Banquet Hall of Nigeria's State House
(more popularly known as Aso Rock) on 12 and 13 November.
A number of civil society activists, academics, international policy makers
including Mahmud Mamdani (Columbia University), Adebayo Olukoshi (CODESRIA),
Wangari Mathai (President of ECOSOCC), Gertrude Mongela (Speaker of the Pan
African Parliament), Ezra Mbogori (Mwengo) and others were also present to
dialogue with the leaders on the best means of proceeding with the agenda of
The meeting was a direct result of the directive given by the Sirte summit
in July based on the resolution put forward by the Libyan leader, Muammar
Gaddafi demanding that a Union of African states be formed as a further step
in advancing the Pan Africanist idea consequent to the extra ordinary summit
in Sirte 9 September 1999, which lead to the new African Union.
Libya is anxious that in spite of recent progress in the Union the demands
and pressures of globalization are such that only a faster march to Unity
will prevent Africa from being recolonised and be able to use its resources
for the benefit of its peoples.
As in 1999 not many African leaders were too enthusiastic about Libya's
proposals in July. However, as has become the practice whatever Libya pushes
it has enough material and diplomatic clout in the Union for it not to be
The strategy of other power houses in the AU especially Nigeria and South
Africa has always been how to contain Libya's militancy. The matter was
thrown at a high level panel headed by President Obasanjo along Zenawi,
Mbeki, Wade, Bouteflika, Museveni and Kuffour.
This Panel is due to submit its report to the next summit in Khartoum in
In Abuja the Libyans represented by the minister for Africa, the veteran
Africa specialist, Ali Treiki (called by many "The Tricky man" for his long
term survival of many sharp knives in the corridors of power) put more flesh
to their proposals in terms of a time table beginning in 2006 with removal
of tariffs, visas, establishment of the Central Bank, formation of one army
leading to the creation of a Union of African States in 2009.
Libya obviously wants a United Africa as a present for the 40th anniversary
of the Al Fatah Revolution! These are no doubt very revolutionary proposals
given the slow take off of all the institutions of the new Union. Caution
will dictate that we work on making existing structures to work before
taking another leap forward.
In a rare display of executive candour and public engagement the leaders
present did not hide their disagreement with Libya's proposals. Mbeki led
the charge raising doubts about his ability to persuade reluctant South
Africans to surrender sovereignty to an entity outside the country that they
did not vote for.
He expressed pessimism about common tariffs drawing his conclusion from the
slow progress of common tariff and custom union of SADC countries. Meles
argued that the proposals were full of old rhetoric without adequate
research and analysis. He asked if Africa's underdevelopment is the result
of lacking a Union government or if a Union government will make Africa
Obasanjo drew attention to the ECOWAS region which made great progress in
the area of free movement but have not proceeded to other levels of
President Wade suggested that the integration of Africa is impeded by
dependence on aid and the collective losses that Africa suffers from the
export of its precious raw materials and mineral resources like oil, gold
There was some exchange of executive banter between him and his host when he
asked for the right to share in Nigeria's fuel resources, not as charity.
Obasanjo retorted that he could not be giving Senegal cheap oil while it
uses foreign exchange to buy imported rice which he is trying to dissuade
Nigerians from eating.
The concerns, raised by the leaders and others, are genuine but I believe
they are agonizing instead of organizing.
I do not believe that Africans any where on this continent or in the
Diaspora will not vote overwhelmingly for a visa - free freedom of movement
The scandalous situation that degrades and humiliates us at the moment needs
to be addressed immediately. How can Americans, Canadians or Australians and
virtually all Europeans have easier access to our countries while we treat
fellow Africans as "aliens"?
Despite all the sensitivities and reactionary politics surrounding
citizenship across Africa would it not be easier to recognize all Africans
as Africans with full citizenship rights wherever they may be in Africa?
Mamdani, combining both personal experience and professional interest did
not allow President Wade's executive fiat to stop him from completing his
presentation on this issue. Drawing from his book, Citizens and Subjects
Mamdani showed how the citizenship laws of today are a carry over of
colonial divide and rule and pluralism of legal regimes that made Africans
into tribes subjected to native or customary laws and made racial minorities
citizens governed by a secular rule of law. That pluralism has made it
difficult for many African countries to create political communities with a
sense of shared future.
Olukoshi took on the argument of ECOWAS not making progress since it
introduced freedom of movement. Freedom of movement alone will not lead to
integration if it is not accompanied by integrative infrastructure through
transport, communication, education, commerce and trade.
It is clear that we are back to the debates of 1960s about how far and fast
we should proceed to Unity. The answer that our painful history teaches us
is that slow progress has lead us to the slaughter house of neo-colonialism
and impoverishment in the midst of abundant human and material resources. We
have no choice but to move faster because the rest of the world will not
wait for us. Those who divided us into Anglophone, Francophone, Lusophone
and all the other phones are today united in one Europe. If we could not
defeat them as individual vultures what chance have we got now that they are
in a united club of hyenas?
Too much is being made of what is and is not Libya's motive as was done with
Kwame Nkrumah only to start eulogizing him decades later and wishing Africa
had listened to the Osagyefo.
As Obasanjo concluded at the meeting a union government is not just
desirable but an imperative for Africa. No doubt there will be temporary
losses for some states but we shall all be winners in the long run if only
we dare to dream big dreams and turn those dreams into reality in all our
waking hours. It is now widely recognized that Pan Africanism needs to leave
the confines of conferences and executive mansions of our leaders and become
part and parcel of all our lives building from down-up and not beginning
from the roof top-down.
A number of issues are clear. One, the Heads of State want a union of states
while what we need is a union of peoples. If people are at the centre of the
agenda many of the contradictions and anxieties the leaders are obsessed
with can be confronted together instead of dealing with them individually.
Two, some states are more willing than others. And it may be necessary that
instead of constantly waiting for everyone to come on board those who are
ready should go ahead. One just hopes enough influential states are in this
category to make it credible. Britain stayed out of the fast track of the EU
train but because Germany and France were in it. It was never derailed.
Three, the Libyans have to learn how to be thorough and strategic in
mobilising both leaders and civil society instead of wasting enormous
resources as sweeteners to reluctant Heads of State. The biggest obstacle to
their good proposals is the way they do things rather than what they are
putting forward. The crucial stage we are at requires
a broader alliance owned and led by our peoples to bring the frontiers down
and release our energies for creative union that serves the people.