Nelson Banya News Editor
THE patently embarrassed Australian government is in the process of
reviewing a sanctions list replete with errors and questionable inclusions,
as fears mounted that the targeted sanctions could end up wide off the mark.
Australian ambassador to Zimbabwe, John Sheppard, told The Financial Gazette
yesterday that the list, which raised eyebrows due to the inclusion of
independent newspaper publisher Trevor Ncube, exiled banker Mthuli Ncube,
former Old Mutual chief executive Graham Hollick and Standard Chartered Bank
chief executive officer Washington Matsaira, was being reviewed.
"There are a number of problems with that list. I can't really talk in great
detail, but the list that we have is under review. A new list is likely to
be released," Sheppard said. He declined to shed light on the criteria used
to compile the list and who the sources were.
A statement from the Reserve Bank of Australia said the list included
persons associated with the government of Zimbabwe.
"At the direction of the Australian government, the reserve bank has
expanded the list of individuals restricted by these financial sanctions to
include new members of, and persons associated with, the government of
"All transactions involving the transfer of funds or payments to, by the
order of, or on behalf of such persons are prohibited," the Australian
central bank announced.
Apart from glaring errors, mainly pertaining to birth dates, the inclusion
on the list of persons such as Ncube, publisher of The Zimbabwe Independent,
The Standard and South Africa's Mail and Guardian - titles sharply critical
of the Zimbabwean government - as well as Mthuli Ncube, who was recently
specified by the Harare authorities, posed serious questions about the
integrity of the list.
Other notable inclusions on the list are prominent economic commentator and
government critic Eric Bloch - whose birth date is listed as July 2 1981 -
Hwange Colliery Company managing director Godfrey Dzinomwa, Anglo American
Corporation South Africa's chief operating officer Godfrey Gomwe, National
Foods managing director Ian Kind, Rio Zimbabwe boss John Nixon, Dairibord
Zimbabwe Limited chief executive officer Anthony Mandiwanza, Innscor Africa
directors Zed Koudounaris and Tom Brown, chartered accountant Ngoni Kudenga,
Zimbabwe Development Bank managing director Cornelius Maradza, Ziscosteel
boss Gabriel Masanga and Finhold chief executive Elisha Mushayakarara.
Other interesting additions to the sanctions list include former agriculture
minister Dennis Norman, who is believed to have relocated to Australia,
industrialist and Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe chairman Nicholas Nyandoro, Kingdom
Holdings co-founder Solomon Mugavazi, transport baron Kenneth Musanhi,
banker Enock Kamushinda, tour operator Emmanuel Fundira, former Air Zimbabwe
chief executive officer Rambai Chingwena, prominent
lawyer Edwin Manikai, Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president
Jailed leader of the Zimbabwe Cross-Border Traders' Association, Killer
Zivhu, also made the list.
The Australian government slapped President Robert Mugabe and members of his
ZANU PF government with "targeted" sanctions following the controversial
presidential election in 2002. Relations between Canberra and Harare have
deteriorated ever since, with Australian Prime Minister John Howard leading
a section of the Commonwealth in criticising the Zimbabwean government for
failing to uphold the rule of law and human rights. Zimbabwe pulled out of
the Commonwealth in 2003 in protest against its suspension a year earlier.
The EU and the United States government have also slapped targeted sanctions
on the ruling elite in Harare, with the latter recently expanding its
sanctions list to include spouses and children of government and ruling
party officials and others deemed to be undermining democracy.
Sheppard said the Australian government did not, however, include spouses
and children on its sanctions list.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
THE government on Tuesday admitted erring in its execution of the widely
criticised demolition exercise dubbed Operation Murambatsvina, which has
left hundreds of Zimbabweans without a roof over their heads.
Although Jan Egeland, the United Nations under-secretary general for
humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator declined to say
exactly who confessed to messing up the controversial demolition blitz, he
disclosed that the government shouldered the blame for blundering.
"There was an understanding that mistakes were made," Egeland told
journalists in the capital late on Tuesday evening before leaving for
"But we disagreed on the merits."
The Norwegian, who was on a five-day visit to assess the humanitarian crisis
unfolding across the country, met President Mugabe for close to two hours on
Tuesday. He told journalists that he voiced the world body's concerns over
the consequences of Operation Murambatsvina, particularly the fact that the
displacements had aggravated requirements for food and essential social
"The humanitarian crisis is very serious and the need for international
assistance is big and growing," the emergency relief coordinator said. The
people of Zimbabwe are suffering under several big problems."
Although in the meetings the government tried to advertise the hastily
arranged successor programme Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle as a way out of
the shelter problem, Egeland threw out the claim, maintaining that it was
rueful that the United Nations is devoting much of its resources and energy
to a country that had the capacity to feed itself.
"Many people are now living with extended families and crowding other
houses. There is not enough shelter to house those evicted," said Egeland.
"We don't want to come here every year to help . . . I am appealing for the
evictions to stop."
But President Mugabe stuck to his guns. In an address in Parliament on
Tuesday afternoon, the Zimbabwean leader re-affirmed his government's
efforts to provide decent accommodation to displaced people.
"Government made a commitment of $1 trillion under phase 1 of the programme,
in July 2005," President Mugabe said in reference to Operation
Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle. The programme is expected to continue until the
national housing backlog is significantly reduced."
UN special envoy Anna Tibaijuka, an international diplomat from Tanzania,
visited Harare in July and produced an official report condemning the
operation as "indiscriminate and unjustified" and carried out with
"indifference to human suffering".
Harare, however, insists that the demolition exercise, which it tried to
turn into a development programme, was meant to stamp out the black market
and other criminal activity in the city slums.
The large-scale demolition exercise initiated in May at the height of the
winter season consisted of the systematic bulldozing and destruction of
homes in the poorest parts of Zimbabwe's urban areas, resulting in the
displacement of over 700 000 Zimbabweans.
Though Tibaijuka's report calls for the prosecution of the perpetrators of
the slum demolitions, no arrests have been made to date.
Njabulo Ncube Chief Political Reporter
JAN Egeland, the United Nations emergency relief coordinator, has told
President Robert Mugabe's government that the global body stood by the
damning report authored by Tanzanian technocrat Anna Tibaijuka - sparking
another potentially embarrassing diplomatic row.
Sources said Egeland's frank remarks about the shocking humanitarian crisis
in Harare and Bulawayo infuriated the authorities who had hoped the UN
secretary-general's envoy would be more diplomatic and lenient in his final
assessment than Tibaijuka, who visited the country in July.
Egeland had no kind words for the authorities, who were hoping for soothing
remarks. Unlike Tibaijuka, who waited until her departure to issue
uncomplimentary statements after a two-week visit, Egeland chose to shoot
from the hip right on Zimbabwean soil.
The UN envoy hinted that during his meeting with various government
officials, the authorities had admitted that the widely condemned Operation
Murambatsvina had disastrous consequences on the population.
"I came here to reiterate my colleague's (Tibaijuka) findings," said
Egeland. "It is a UN report and not Anna's report. The humanitarian
situation in Zimbabwe is very serious and prospects are growing and also
very worrying. The need of people that want assistance is big and growing,"
"The shelter campaign was the worst possible thing at the worst possible
time. It created a lot of problems as far as the humanitarian situation is
Tibaijuka noted in her report that there was no collective decision-making
with respect to the conception and implementation of the nationwide
demolitions of slums. About 700 000 urbanites were rendered homeless while
2.4 million people were deprived of their livelihoods, said Tibaijuka, who
also slammed the role of the police and army during the controversial
In its defence, the government accused Tibaijuka of using "value-laden and
judgmental language, which clearly demonstrated in-built bias" against
Harare and the operation.
Egeland, who disagreed with President Robert Mugabe over the eviction
campaign when they met at State House on Tuesday morning, spoke of a serious
humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe as described by Tibaijuka after spending
two weeks in Zimbabwe in July this year in the aftermath of Murambatsvina,
which critics claim had all the hallmarks of a military operation.
In a media briefing on Tuesday night, the UN emergency relief boss said his
four-day working visit to Zimbabwe had revealed that millions of Zimbabweans
were suffering and facing numerous problems as a result of the operation and
that its successor, Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle, had failed dismally to
address the problems caused by the clean-up operation.
Egeland said: "There is not enough shelter to house those people that have
been affected by Murambatsvina. I saw the houses the government has built
and I applaud the attempt but there are much fewer than the number of people
sleeping out there. It would have been good if the houses had been built
before the demolitions."
Kofi Annan dispatched Egeland after President Mugabe invited the UN chief to
visit Zimbabwe when they met on the sidelines of a UN meeting in New York in
September this year.
Hama Saburi Deputy Editor-in-Chief
DUMISO Dabengwa-a living symbol of resilience - suffered yet another setback
last month in his bid to revive a political career that took a turn for the
worst in 2000 when the former home affairs minister resigned from government
after tasting a heavy defeat in general elections.
Dabengwa had been widely tipped to make a comeback in the twilight of his
political life by winning a seat in the 66-member senate seen more as a ZANU
PF project to accommodate President Robert Mugabe's cronies at the expense
of the suffering majority Zimbabweans.
It turned out that the Bulawayo-Nkulumane electorate had their misgivings as
they made sure the soft spoken-but-firm former ZIPRA intelligence chief
remained buried somewhere in the political wilderness.
Dabengwa, who ranked high among senior cadres of ZAPU, which merged with
ZANU PF in 1987 to end an armed rebellion in the Matabeleland and Midlands
regions, was among seven ruling party candidates shown the "red card" by a
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) weakened by a revolt within its ranks
ahead of last month's polls marked by poor voter-turnout.
The average turnout was 19.48 percent. But unlike his juniors - Sithembiso
Nyoni and Joshua Malinga - who had to be rescued by President Robert Mugabe
after faring badly in an election which the MDC went into as a divided
party, Dabengwa was not so lucky, sparking speculation that his might have
been the last kicks of a dying political horse.
For now - perhaps forever - he has to be content with running his private
business interests or chairing the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, his
But could this be Dabengwa's end? Mystery and humility have been part of
Dabengwa's life, especially after he opted out of Cabinet in 2000. Since
then, he has not dropped the slightest hint about his future.
The only time he did so was in July 2003 when the 66-year-old politician
tactfully avoided yielding much regarding his thoughts on the succession
issue-an erstwhile hot potato in ZANU PF.
"I will consider that when it comes . . . if I am approached on the matter,
I will consider it. I am still in the politburo of the party, so I have not
totally left politics," he was quoted in a state-owned daily saying.
As expected, conclusions were drawn in the court of public opinion but none
of them have been confirmed. It has remained nothing but speculation.
To some people Dabengwa all but confirmed his burning desire to re-launch
his faltering political life by participating in the senate polls. Others
argue that he was pushed into it and being the party cadre that he is, he
could not say no without courting the wrath of the ZANU PF machinery as
Mutumwa Mawere learnt the hard way after declining a party post.
Mawere, long considered an ally of ZANU PF bigwigs, had built an empire
spanning construction, banking, insurance and agro-industrial sectors. He
has since lost all his Zimbabwean assets under a controversial
reconstruction order issued by the government last year. He is also on the
police wanted list.
If President Mugabe had so wished, Dabengwa could have been hoisted into the
Upper House as a non-constituency senator, but this did not happen.
"The biggest question is: Why elevate Nyoni and leave out a more senior
party cadre such as Dabengwa? While one might cite the gender issue, what
about the appointment of Patel (Kantibhai) and Haritatos (Peter) whose
contribution cannot be compared to that of Dabengwa?" wondered a ZANU PF
insider who declined to be named.
Yet others say Dabengwa has lost interest in ZANU PF politics but has
decided to play his cards well by going along with the rest in the ruling
party for self-preservation:
If he really wanted, they said, Dabengwa could still be in government today
just like his former ZAPU colleagues who could not throw in the towel
despite suffering equally humiliating defeats in June 2000 and had to be
rescued by President Mugabe.
"Obviously, he could not say no because this would have meant his end in
ZANU PF. He has opted to play along, knowing fully well that the moment he
says no, the ZANU PF machinery would simply destroy him," said another ZANU
PF insider who declined speculation linking Dabengwa to the newly-formed
United People's Movement.
This week, Dabengwa confirmed he did not want to stand but was nominated by
the people while he was actually in South Africa.
"This was an election which we could have easily won if things had gone
according to plan," Dabengwa said in the aftermath of his defeat.
He said the plan was to take advantage of the anticipated apathy and
mobilise party supporters to go and vote en masse.
"People were to organise themselves according to their cells and go and
vote. ZANU-PF had swept ward 25 because they had followed the plan. Other
wards had failed to follow the plan probably because of the rains, so people
had not turned up as had been planned."
He said though he lost, there was no change as far as he is concerned
because he was still in the politburo.
Analysts however, said Dabengwa's exclusion could be part of the ZANU PF
succession politics in which factions gunning to succeed the ageing
Zimbabwean leader elbow out potential threats at every turn.
They said Dabengwa's presence in ZANU PF after the Unity Accord hammered
between President Mugabe and Joshua Nkomo, has always instilled fear among
its leadership considering that he suffered during the Matabeleland
massacres when he spent five years in prison.
Dabengwa and Lookout Masuku were arrested on charges of treason in 1982
following the discovery of arms caches on farms owned by ex-ZIPRA cadres and
were released in 1986 but Masuku died a few months after his release.
Dabengwa however claimed that he is not bitter and has since forgiven those
"It was an unfortunate episode that I will never forget, but on the other
hand I have been able to forgive completely. For the sake of having peace
with myself, I have said all those that were responsible for the suffering I
went through are forgiven, but I will not forget it.
"For the sake of progress and development, I have said I must forgive, but
of course it was five years of my prime life in prison, which I cannot just
forget and will never recover," Dabengwa was quoted saying.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
JUST like his peers Tendai Majangi had a lot of wishes this year. He had
planned to fulfil most of them in the period January to October, but owing
to the country's six-year-old economic crisis the plans were all derailed
during the course of the year.
All hope was not totally lost, however, as his employer was still going to
reward him with a thirteenth cheque that could at least enable him to
salvage some of his goals.
However, because the government decided to stage senate elections on the day
that Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa traditionally unveils the National
Budget, Majangi was kept guessing as to whether Murerwa would play Father
Christmas. But come the 1st of December when Murerwa finally undraped his
2006 National Budget statement, Majangi felt relieved at Murerwa's
dispensation to increase the tax-free bonus income from $5 million to $20
million. Not that he will be taking home an untaxed $20 million but his $6
million gross salary will not be levied.
However, just before Majangi could access his bonus payment at the bank, the
consumer watchdog, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) reported that a
family of six now needs $12.9 million to see it through a month. Moreover,
his family consists of eight and today after pocketing his 'fat' bonus he
realises his optimism could have been premature and he is a depressed man.
A small plastic bag of groceries containing some basics and four litres of
Tendai's favourite opaque beer (scud) adds up to $3 million - half his
"What do you think I will buy with these notes?" asks Majangi clutching a
bundle of Zimbabwe's bearer cheques. "I can't even buy a television set for
my family, let alone feed the family during this festive holiday."
Such is the plight of the majority of Zimbabwean workers as the country
battles its worst economic crisis since 1980. Although just at the stroke of
the announcement of the 2006 National Budget statement the budget makers
instantly made scores of Zimbabwe's workers instant millionaires and others
multimillionaires, the escalating cost of living appears resolute to deny
most of them the opportunity to make merry this festive season.
"Tinongova nyika izere namamillionaire marombe," (we are a nation of poor
millionaires) says Herbert Chapwati of Chitungwiza.
Zimbabwe is caught up in an unprecedented economic fix marked by severe
shortages of foreign currency, fuel, essential drugs and raw materials. Out
of control inflation has overwhelmed most households, reducing them to
beggars. Although critics blame the ruling party, ZANU PF loyalists point
fingers at western nations for collaborating with opposition groups
operating in the country.
Economic commentator and businessman Jonathan Kadzura believes the enlarged
tax-free bonus income will not only bring a deep sense of relief to fatigued
workers who for the past 11 months have been the victims of worsening
poverty but will be a springboard for economic growth.
"The breadwinner is now taking a bit more money home," says Kadzura. This
stimulates demand and if you stimulate demand you are going to stimulate
production. So the possibility of creating new employment is equally high."
As usual Murerwa is being supported by members of the governing ZANU PF
party to prove their loyalty. But critical analysts and labour express
apprehension that a mini-budget could be in the offing early next year.
"This country requires a conscious systematic vision of economic development
that deals with the structural supply side of the economy and at the same
time ensure that service delivery, jobs and food are pre-emptive," observes
Tendai Biti, economic affairs secretary with the opposition MDC. Without
this, the present regime will continue manufacturing with the same energy it
has been printing bearer cheques, pervasive economic mis-statements and no
doubt before September 2006 a Supplementary Budget will be passed."
While in playing Father Xmas Murerwa revised the tax-free threshold upwards
to $7 million per month from $1.5 million beginning January 2006, the labour
umbrella body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) feels the
tax-free threshold must be linked to the Poverty Datum Line (PDL), currently
estimated at $12.9 million. Moreover Murerwa's populist tax cuts are
academic considering that 80 percent of the population is unemployed.
"While workers are burdened with these notes (bearer cheques) what they buy
is very little," observes Wellington Chibebe, secretary general at the
militant labour alliance. Without indexing the tax-free threshold to the PDL
we could be tinkering on the periphery."
Murerwa has set himself a huge mountain to climb by proposing to grow the
delicate mining sector by 27 percent in 2006, attaining positive economic
growth of between two percent and 3.5 percent in 2006. Critics feel the
minister's projections just like the ones he set for himself this year could
go up in smoke.
"This optimism is not backed by developments on the ground where production
is likely to be compromised by among other factors, the shortage of
essential inputs such as fertilisers, chemicals and fuel," says Best Doroh,
principal economist at Finhold.
In 2005 Murerwa estimated that agriculture, the erstwhile backbone of the
economy alongside mining, would register real growth but the sector declined
a negative 12.8 percent.
In such a situation analysts warn that setting unrealistic targets could not
only interfere with macro-economic management but also create a credibility
issue with themultilateral institutions. By now Harare is certain to miss
out on its year-end inflation target of between 280 percent to 300 percent.
Though authorities insist on reducing inflation, currently at 411 percent,
the International Monetary Fund has indicated it will be 400 percent by the
close of the year.
THE World Food Programme (WFP) - the food security arm of the United Nations
(UN) - has fed more than two million hungry Zimbabweans in the past month as
the country reels from an octopus-grip of a devastating drought hitting the
The figure could climb to over three million people by January, Jan Egeland,
the visiting UN aid-coordinator, warned this week.
The distribution of food relief was only made possible after the WFP broke
an impasse with Harare after several months of negotiations.
Sources said the UN agency was distributing food stocks it had left in
warehouses in November 2004 when the government abruptly stopped the WFP
from continuing with its operations in anticipation of a bumper harvest.
Egeland, who is assessing the impact of the government's clean-up exercise,
said the two million people - out of four million Zimbabweans said to be in
critical need of food - were handed food handouts last month alone.
"Food distribution by the WFP is running well," he said. "This week, we are
able to feed two million people, later in the month 2.5 million and 3.3
million by January next year," he added.
The intervention by the WFP comes amid revelations that villagers in some
remote parts of the country are scavenging for food while others are eating
The UN has put out a US$276 million food appeal to avert a looming disaster
in Zimbabwe, a former bread basket of southern Africa now reduced a
basket-case partly due to the drought and the country's chaotic land reform,
which saw the government grabbing farms from white commercial farmers for
redistribution to landless blacks.
Zimbabwe, which requires about 1.8 million tonnes of grain annually to feed
its population of about 14 million people, only managed to harvest about 600
000 tonnes, leaving a glaring deficit of 1.2 million tonnes.
About US$230 million is needed to cover the deficit.
Felix Njini Chief Business Reporter
AUSTRALIAN mining firms are among suitors that have inundated the Ministry
of Mines and Mineral Development with applications for special grants to
explore and mine uranium deposits in northern Zimbabwe's Zambezi Valley.
Investigations by The Financial Gazette revealed applications from seven
potential suitors are awaiting approval from the government, desperately
seeking fresh investment to ease the foreign currency crisis.
The world, which has been tightening the screws on President Robert Mugabe's
government, has been shaken by Harare's announcement that it is talking to
investors keen on extracting uranium, considered a strategic resource owing
to its application to nuclear weapons.
It has since emerged that firms fronted by Australian, South African,
Zimbabwean and Namibian nationals are dissecting the Zambezi Valley in
search of the fossilised mineral. The valley is also rich in natural gas.
Companies which have applied for special grants include Lowenbrau, which has
isolated the Hwange, Victoria Falls and Mhangura districts, Africa Energy
Resources, which has targeted the highly priced Kanyemba areas, Altrock,
Bennydale Miners, Heavy Metals Syndicate-Binga, Chimanimani and West
Nicholson and Mutoko, Geo Associates-Mana Pools and Stonefields Mining which
have applied to explore the Kanyemba district.
"We think there is potential to exploit the uranium and we have already
budgeted for the exploration and mining. We are working with an initial
budget of US$15 million," said Paul Turner, an official with Australian
registered Altrock Mining in an interview with The Financial Gazette.
Turner said it would take up to three years to exploit the deposits should
they start exploration now.
"This is a resource, which was established already and tested, which is why
we are applying for the special grant and I hope the government will grant
us the concession because we are the best company to do the mining. We want
to invest now. We do not want the concession for speculative purposes,"
Geologists said the initial explorations have isolated Kanyemba District,
Kariba, Mhangura, Hwange, Victoria Falls, West Nicholson, Mana Pools and
Chimanimani in the eastern part of the country as areas with exploitable
Initial exploration suggests that there is about 450 000 tonnes of uranium
ore. Early estimates also suggest that the explored areas have 20 000 tonnes
of mineable uranium.
Andre Botes, an official with Australian-based Africa Energy Resources (AER)
said the company, which has mining interests in Zambia and South America
intends to get into uranium mining 'any time soon' should they get the
necessary approval from government.
"If we get the special grant we would do what it takes to develop the mine
in the next three years and mining is a long term investment," Botes said.
Botes revealed that his firm had hired a geologist who did the initial
exploration work in Kanyemba.
"AER has also made progress in its relationship with Chinese joint venture
partners and government departments and has recently established an office
in Beijing and appointed a Chinese-based manager to facilitate the
investment linkages between Australia, China and Africa," Botes said.
"We are particularly interested in bringing Australian and Chinese foreign
investment to develop the projects in Zimbabwe following the recent signing
of an economic cooperation agreement between China and Zimbabwe," Botes
He said his group was in the process of partnering with West Mining Co Ltd,
one of China's largest mining firms, "which has elected to work with us in
developing of some of their major projects and assisting them in securing
new projects and the adoption of new technology."
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE Platinum Mines (Zimplats) will only relinquish its lucrative white
metal claims on the Great Dyke at a premium, company chief executive Greg
Responding to President Robert Mugabe's announcement this week that the
government wants Zimplats to cede some of its claims to Chinese investors,
Sebborn yesterday said his company would insist on a "value exchange".
While confirming that negotiations were currently underway over the proposed
cession of the claims, Sebborn said: "There are preliminary negotiations
which we are holding with the ministry (of mining)."
"We are looking at a number of possibilities, which include an exchange of
Addressing Parliament on Tuesday, President Mugabe said the state-owned
mining Zimbabwe Mining Development Company (ZMDC) would partner Chinese firm
NORINCO in taking up some claims currently held by Zimplats.
"Negotiations are currently underway with Zimplats for ZMDC to mine
unutilised claims as well as other platinum claims on a joint venture basis
with NORINCO Company of the People's Republic of China. Clearly, Zimbabwe is
very much looking East and there is no looking back," the President said.
Zimplats has stated that it has a long-term expansion agenda, including a
refinery. Currently, its processed ore is shipped to South Africa for
Earlier this year, the government was reported to be pressing Zimplats to
establish a refinery in conjunction with unnamed Chinese investors.
Critics say taking over the assets of Zimplats could be punishing the
platinum miner for putting on hold its US$750 million expansion project
early this year.
Implats, the world's second-largest platinum producer and Zimplats' parent
company, is concerned about government proposals that would force the
company to sell an undisclosed stake to black investors and keep hard
currency earnings in Zimbabwe.
Another South African company, Anglo Platinum, plans to dig a platinum mine
on the Unki deposit, about 240km southwest of Harare.
Apart from giving part of its mining sector to the Chinese, Harare has also
opened up its irrigation, power generation, urban development and transport
and communication sectors to Asian investors.
Ever since Western nations and aid groups pulled out of Harare in 1999,
Zimbabwe has experienced an unprecedented economic crisis marked by food,
fuel and foreign currency shortages, as well as rampant inflation currently
above 400 percent and foreign currency scarcity.
In response, President Mugabe has shifted its focus to Eastern investors,
especially Chinese companies.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
FINANCE Minister Herbert Murerwa, who is trying to arrest Zimbabwe's
economic decline, is pinning hopes of winning the inflation battle on the
country receiving sufficient rainfall during the current farming season.
Murerwa says getting adequate rains will lend a hand in taming the inflation
dragon whose flame the central bank has been battling to douse since 2003.
Currently estimated at 411 percent and projected to climb closer to 600
percent by December, Zimbabwe's inflation rate is one of the highest in the
"The annual rate of inflation is, however, targeted to decline to around 80
percent by the end of 2006," Murerwa told legislators during the
presentation of the 2006 national budget statement.
"This deceleration in inflation in 2006 is premised on an expected normal
rain season, complementary restrictive fiscal and monetary policies and
significantly subdued parallel market activities," he added.
Murerwa's prognosis dovetails with that of central bank governor Gideon
Gono, who recently warned that if his target of a double-digit inflation
figure by the end of 2006 was to be attained, the ongoing disruptions to
agricultural activity at a time of food shortages should be halted as this
could derail the central bank's efforts.
Food inflation is a major driver of inflation and accounts for 32 percent of
the total consumer price index.
Critical observers caution that even if the country receives above normal
rainfall, the ongoing farm seizures could blight the inflation fight.
They reason that other factors such as the shortage of fuel and critical
inputs, among them fertiliser and seed, could result in another
disappointing and painful harvest.
Munyaradzi Mugowo Own Correspondent
ZIMBABWE might be headed for another budget overrun because of unrealistic
inflation and economic growth projections.
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa, in his $123.9 trillion national budget for
2006 unveiled last week, predicted a dramatic surge in real economic growth,
which shrank five percent in 2005 against earlier predictions of a 3.5 to
five percent positive real growth.
"The economy is forecast to grow by between two percent and 3.5 percent in
2006, with agriculture expected to register a positive growth rate of 14.8
percent. This is on the back of a normal rainy season, increased hectare
under irrigation, timely provision of critical inputs and the introduction
of the targeted production programme to promote food security," Murerwa
The minister predicted that inflation would steady around 80 percent by
December 2006 from current levels of more than 400 percent.
The 80 percent target had initially been set for the current year, but
eluded the authorities after an unforeseen upswing in the inflation rate
because of an unstable exchange rate huge food and huge fuel imports.
Economic commentator Eric Bloch described Murerwa's inflation, gross
domestic product (GDP) and budget deficit forecasts as "wishful thinking".
Bloch said the budget deficit and total expenditures for the coming year
would surpass planned levels due to higher inflation rate expectations and
general economic stagnation.
He said: "Murerwa is likely to begin his fiscal review next year with a
supplementary budget because total expenses will be more than planned due to
flawed GDP and inflation rate forecasts. While I do expect the inflation
rate to come down in the coming year, it cannot possibly be as dramatic as
the government is predicting.
"A rise in the inflation rate in January is inevitable due to combined
inflationary pressures of tax relief, the unstable exchange rate and the
announced hikes in school fees and local authorities service charges.
"I also can't imagine how we could come to have an upturn in GDP. They are
basing their claims on an imagined miraculous recovery of agriculture,
driven by maize and cotton, and on equally supernatural growth in
manufacturing and tourism.
"But they are forgetting that tobacco output is set to fall next year. They
are also ignoring that any output changes in tea, coffee and other crops
could also have an effect."
"Besides, there is no way the manufacturing and tourism industries can
register such a sudden recovery, given the impact of continued farm
invasions and the volatility of the exchange rate, which is still managed.
"While we may not experience a decline, we are most unlikely to witness
growth. I foresee some kind of economic standstill. This will definitely
affect revenue flows; it means the government has to look for alternative
ways of raising revenue. This level of optimism is outrageous, to say the
The government has predicted a budget deficit of 4.6 percent of a
controversial GDP estimate and this has stirred scares of another budget
overrun, which could be worsened by higher-than-expected inflation in 2006.
At the moment the economy is balancing precariously on the mining sector,
which last year emerged the leading growth sector, but accounting for a
negligible four percent of GDP compared with agriculture and manufacturing
which contributed 33 and 16 percent respectively.
Analysts say that, while remembering to proclaim wonder growth figures, the
government forgot to channel its budgetary votes towards the sectors that
could turn its vision into reality.
Munyaradzi Mugowo Own Correspondent
Johannesburg - The World Bank has given Zimbabwe a wide berth, excluding the
crisis-ridden country from its agriculture and food security fund for
southern Africa with which to fight drought stress.
The multilateral development institution has pooled about US$60 million to
finance phased agricultural research, technology transfer and adoption
projects in the region.
Richard Mkandawire, the agricultural adviser to the secretariat of the New
Partnership for Africa's Development, said the project - which is set to
benefit all Southern African Development Commu-nity member countries except
Zimbabwe - had identified hunger spots sharing common water basins.
Mkandawire said: "The World Bank has already availed about US$1 million for
the development phase of the project. A total of US$60 million has been
committed to the entire project.
"The thrust of the project is to roll out long-term solutions of food
security for countries hit by droughts. It has been realised that relief is
not a solution to the food security crisis in the region. The World Bank
fund is envisaged to strengthen the agriculture research system and enable
farmers to access new technology."
Lolette Kritzinger-van Niekerk, a senior World Bank economist for southern
Africa based in South Africa, refused to comment on the issue, but
maintained that Zimbabwe would remain excluded from any development support
initiative of the multilateral development institution.
"The issue of Zimbabwe is straightforward. Unless the government of Zimbabwe
confesses and repents from its sins, it remains excluded from any
development support from the Word Bank.
"It is a matter of principle. We assist countries on the basis of an IMF
(International Monetary Fund) seal of approval. When it stopped lending to
Zimbabwe, we did the same. When it decided to pull out of Zimbabwe, we had
no choice but to shut down our offices too," Kritzinger-van Niekerk said.
An estimated 5 million Zimbabweans, out of total population of about 12
million people, are said to be in dire need of food aid countrywide.
The government blames the humanitarian crisis on periodic droughts.
The international community however argues that droughts only aggravated an
already debilitating food security crisis triggered by the government's
disastrous fast-track land reform, which saw agricultural earnings falling
steeply from US$927.72 million per annum in 1998 to current annual levels of
just about US$510.6 million.
MEIKLES Africa's retail division-comprising TM Supermarkets and the Meikles
departmental stores group-continues to drive profits within the group, which
has interests in the hotel and banking sectors.
The recently published Meikles Africa half-year results show that the two
retail divisions contributed over 94 percent towards Meikles Africa turnover
of $2.52 trillion and 95 percent of the $354 billion operating profit.
TM, Zimbabwe's largest supermarket chain with 54 units across the country
increased net turnover by 303 percent for the six-month period April to
September-from $518 billion to $2 086 billion. Year on year inflation
declined at the start, escalating sharply towards the end of the six months,
with an overall average of 229 percent.
Operating profit grew from $20,1 billion to $252,8 billion in TM, with
management citing improved shrinkage control, firm margins in the light of
stock replacement challenges and effective expense control.
"Pivotal to the solid set of results in the supermarkets has been the
philosophy that price remains the most dominant feature in the competitive
arena that we operate in," says Dave Mills, Meikles Africa Executive
"We remain acutely aware of consumer pressures and as demonstrated by the
recent observations published by the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, TM have
managed to retain their competitive edge and as a result capture increased
Mills said the procurement of stock would remain a priority for the
remainder of the year. TM is currently considering three additional sites
for new units, which should be concluded by Christmas, with another eight at
different stages of negotiation.
In the Department Stores Group, comprising Meikles, Barbours, Greatermans
and the Clicks Chain, net turnover increased by 207 percent from $94,8
billion to $291,5 billion.
The ten fold improvement in operating profit from $8 billion to $82,2
billion was a result of enhanced margins to ensure the ability to replace
stock, control of shrinkage and the containment of expenses.
Greater focus by management on more prudent buying, as well as selective
ranging, helped reduce finance costs from $18,3 billion to $5,1 billion in
the period under review. Initial indications in November signal that the
Department Stores Group is well poised for a very good festive season with
an extensive range of both imported and local merchandise on offer.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Reporter
THE African Export and Import Bank (Afreximbank), which is fast emerging as
Zimbabwe's largest foreign lender, has extended crucial lines of credit to
two of the country's leading banks to support economic reforms.
At a time when major traditional external lenders are shunning Zimbabwe and
blacklisting the southern African country, Afreximbank appears to hold
confidence in supporting the country's economic reforms.
The continental lending bank granted CBZ and MBCA credit facilities
amounting to US$40 million to shore up the sourcing of essential imports,
among them grain and fuel. Of its US$25 million MBCA will allocate US$5
million to fuel imports and US$20 million to fund grain imports and tobacco
exports among other operations.
CBZ executive director corporate and merchant banking John Mangudya told The
Financial Gazette on the sidelines of the 3rd annual general assembly of the
African Bankers Forum which ran concurrently with last week's annual general
meeting of Afreximbank that his bank, which was granted US$15 million will
assist exporters in the mining, manufacturing and horticultural industries.
"We are excited given that international banks are not able to provide
Zimbabwe with credit lines due to perceived risk," said Mangudya.
The two banks will also assist exporters by providing export finance under
the pre and post shipment facility. Afreximbank's gesture comes hard on the
heels of another parcel that was loaned to the government recently. Two
weeks ago the Cairo-based lender approved US$195 million to finance fuel and
grain imports pushing Afreximbank's total injection to US$900 million since
Zimbabwe has not been receiving crucial credit facilities from international
lending clubs chiefly the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank
and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) since 1999 for maintaining
loose strings on its public purse and undermining the rule of law and human
rights abuses. This has left a big hole on Harare's capital account.
Consequently, due to the drying up of foreign currency, the southern African
country is now caught up in its worst economic crisis since independence
characterised by scarcity of foreign currency, shortage of fuel, grain,
medical drugs and others essential imports.
Because of the fuel shortages most vehicles have been dumped at fuel
stations for months now without refueling while workers endure long
distances to reach their workplaces.
Afreximbank, founded by African governments, private and institutional
investors in Nigeria in October 1993, facilitates intra-and extra-African
trade and has branches in Abuja, Tunis and Harare.
Felix Njini Chief Business Reporter
CFI Holdings Limited, which splurged $39 billion on government-appointed
administrator Arafas Gwaradzimba, who has been tasked with "reconstructing"
Mutumwa Mawere's expansive businesses, has failed to declare a dividend.
Senior company officials said the massive payment to Gwaradzimba had
strained CFI's resources to a point where it failed to declare a dividend in
its financial year ended September 30 2005.
During the period under review, CFI Holdings reported a 1 702 percent surge
in net profit to $530 billion.
Turnover shot up from $61 billion in the prior period to $2.2 trillion.
Company officials said they had withheld a dividend in a bid to boost CFI's
They said a dividend declaration would have put the agri-processor, which
needs huge amounts of cash for inputs, under enormous financial strain.
Gwaradzimba took over the administration of SMM Holdings, previously owned
by Mawere, a former favourite of the government who fell out with the
authorities over charges of externalising foreign currency.
The administrator came in after the government controversially slapped SMM
with a reconstruction order under new regulations allowing the state to take
over insolvent firms indebted to it.
Mawere, who was specified by the government after it failed to extradite him
from his base in South Africa to answer the foreign currency externalisation
allegations, was one of the controlling shareholders in CFI, an agro-counter
listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
Market watchers and analysts have queried the $39 billion payment by CFI
Holdings, which they said was never placed under the direct administration
The senior CFI officials said the company, which has vast interests in
poultry, agro-chemicals, stockfeed production and milling, had always been
CFI, as an associate company of SMM, falls under the reconstruction order
issued in September last year under the Reconstruction of State-Indebted
Insolvent Companies Act 27/2004.
CFI managing director Steve Kuipa refused to comment, saying the subject was
an issue for shareholders.
Board chairman Simplicius Chihambakwe, who said his company was still in
charge of its business, had made the payment for "services renderd by
"We are running our own business and the payment was for services rendered
by Gwaradzimba," Chihambakwe said.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
MINES and Mining Develop-ment Minister Amos Midzi says bickering empowerment
groups which are scrambling to pocket a shareholding in the lucrative
Zimbabwe Platinum Mines (Zimplats) must settle down until the amendments to
the Mines and Minerals Act are finalised.
"Everything to do with indigenisation has to wait until we finalise the
legislation," Midzi said.
The minister's pronouncement lends credence to reports that Nkululeko
Rusununguko Company of Zimbabwe (NRMC) could lose its claim as the
empowerment partner in Zimplats.
Local empowerment outfits NRMC, Needgate Investments and the National
Investment Trust (NIT) are battling to land a 15 percent shareholding in the
Australia-listed white metal company.
Although NRMC won the right to partner Zimplats last year ahead of Needgate
and NIT, the latter are claiming entitlement to a 15 percent stake set aside
for empowerment groups by Zimplats.
The government is trying to split the shareholding by arranging a special
purpose vehicle to accommodate the three wrangling parties.
But the NRMC is adamant that it has a rightful claim on Zimplats.
Midzi said wrangles between empowerment groups in the mining sector would be
resolved once Parliament approves an amendment to the Mines and Minerals
Sources say Midzi's ministry has taken private sector advice that draft
legislation on nationalisation sent the wrong signals about Zimbabwe's
economy and has since reworked the law.
The new document, the sources revealed, contains a more balanced framework
of indigenising Zimbabwe's mining assets.
Mining industry players have recommended parcelling out between 30 percent
and 50 to black investors in a gradual way.
Midzi confirmed that the Cabinet committee on legislation, headed by
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa, was
currently studying the amendments.
"We are still considering the proposals before they go to Parliament for
approval," Midzi said.
At 30 percent, the empowerment shareholding is below the 50 percent
threshold President Robert Mugabe has publicly indicated his government
would seek to place in the hands of indigenous Zimbabweans.
Apart from NRMC, Needgate and NIT, the Manyame Consortium fronted by John
Mkushi is reportedly now out of favour with Mzi Khumalo's Metallon Gold.
Metallon's review of its equity partnership deal with Manyame follows a
lawsuit filed by Stanmarker, a consortium led by businessman Lloyd Hove,
alleging that Khumalo had reneged on an earlier shareholding agreement with
Market reports suggest that Metallon is already talking to new potential
partners but that the company will not sign a deal before the proposed
empowerment legislation is passed.
I NEVER thought I would live to see political violence being condemned by
members of the public on state television.
But that is exactly what happened when Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH)
conducted a vox populi on intra-party violence within the divided main
opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). This was after
it had been reported that an MDC Member of Parliament had been attacked by
youths at a rally addressed by embattled party leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, in
Mabvuku last weekend.
Tsvangirai, who was also featured in the news clip, confirmed that
skirmishes had indeed occurred at the rally and whether he meant it or was
playing to the gallery, he proceeded to condemn the violence, saying it was
not the right way to resolve differences. He said the use of violence had
never been his party's policy. Not many other leaders have spoken out
against violence committed by their supporters.
Those interviewed in the ZBH street survey also rightly deplored the
violence and urged the rival factions that have emerged within the MDC to
resolve their differences by peaceful means. All right thinking and
peace-loving Zimbabweans will have no difficulty endorsing that position.
Violence has no place in a democratic setting and the MDC should ensure that
the riot act is read loud and clear to the misguided youths responsible for
these disgraceful displays of barbarism.
Having said the foregoing however, I have something big to beef about - the
breathtaking hypocrisy and double standards of the public broadcaster and
the rest of the public media that are having a field day gloating over the
troubles within the opposition party. I cannot believe that these are the
same people who have been tongue-tied and have maintained a deafening
silence all these years when the ruling party has been accused of
institutionalising political violence as a survival strategy.
Countless horrific atrocities in which opposition party supporters were
killed or maimed were routine occurrences until the general elections held
in March this year when campaigning and voting were conducted in an
atmosphere relatively free of violence. Before that, members of the public
were regularly traumatised by having to confront harrowing pictures showing
the indescribable injuries fellow Zimbabweans suffered in brutal attacks
allegedly perpetrated by ruling party supporters.
These images and the accompanying reports were courageously only published
by the private press. There was never a whisper of discomfiture or
condemnation from the establishment and the same official media, which is
now sanctimoniously crowing that the sporadic skirmishes within the
opposition party are responsible for establishing a culture of violence in a
It would be instructive for the public media to re-examine their coverage of
events in the Makoni North constituency over the last few years. The Member
of Parliament for the area, Didymus Mutasa, declared Makoni North a no-go
area for the MDC during parliamentary elections. Mutasa's supporters were
reported to have assaulted a former freedom fighter, Major James Kaunye,
during ZANU PF primary elections. Where were ZBH's cameras and reporters
when Mutasa himself was accused of slapping a police officer who was trying
to quell bloody intra-party clashes in Makoni North last year?
More importantly, where were all these suddenly morally fired up public
media journalists when an MDC youth was shot dead at point blank range
during a by-election in Chitungwiza about a year ago? Why did they elevate
the art of self-censorship to new levels during the dark days when
opposition party supporters were routinely abducted and brutalised or
Remember the graduates of the controversial National Youth Service Training
Programme, who were notoriously known as "Green Bombers" and are thankfully
less visible these days? Despite official assertions to the effect that
these rowdy youths were involved in development projects, it was no secret
that these young people led a life of reckless disregard for the rights of
others. The "Green Bombers" were frequently in the news for violent
escapades such as attacking villagers, arson, robbery, raping women old
enough to be their grandmothers and other depraved acts with tacit official
Not a whisper of disapproval was heard from public media journalists. In
fact, the public media only sprang into frenzied action after BBC
Hillary Anderson did an expose on the youth militias on the Panorama
programme last year. Anderson was attacked left, right and centre as the
print and electronic public media fell all over each other to defend the
National Youth Training Service Programme and by extension, the violent
sprees these young people stood accused of. It is interesting to note in
hindsight however, that Anderson's brave reporting must have had the right
effect because these militias have kept a low profile since then.
The public media's thundering silence on political violence was also the
order of the day during farm invasions when white farmers were lynched by
angry mobs. Many lost their lives and others were maimed during these
violent confrontations. Examples of unspeakable acts of cruelty perpetrated
by Zimbabweans against fellow citizens are too numerous to list. The
question that needs to be confronted honestly is: when is violence not
violence? ZBH and the rest of the public media cannot fool us into believing
that they are taking a principled stand against political violence by
crusading against the isolated incidents involving MDC youths when they have
condoned horrific atrocities in the past.
The ruling party, which has boasted of having "degrees in violence," has
been accused of fomenting political violence for years.
It is the worst form of dishonest and untruthful reporting to purport that
the current goings-on in the MDC are "establishing a culture of violence" as
ZBH has tried to do. That culture is already firmly rooted in our society
and we all know who is responsible for cultivating it.
"IN order to effectively guarantee productivity on farms and
enhance food security, Government is committed to enforce utmost discipline
in the agriculture sector. Any disruption of farming activities is not in
the national interest," so said Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa.
He was of course speaking of the confusion and chaos in the
agricultural sector where reforms have been characterised by irregularities,
deception and corruption, all of which have left agriculture desperately
sick and the economy even worse off. To a visitor from Mars, Murerwa's
highfalutin phrases would have created a false impression of novelty, for
the minister seemed genuinely intent on outlining a strategy for that
incipient process to return the economy to its pre-crisis levels. But not to
Zimbabweans for whom the only obvious merit in Murerwa's statement is that
the government seems to be belatedly waking up to the catastrophe that has
befallen the country as well as the urgent need for sound and full land
True, the wildcat farm seizures which have seen an estimated 20
productive farms being forcibly taken over since the controversial 17th
Amendment of the Zimbabwean Constitution came into force border on
criminality as they come at a particularly irksome moment for the economy.
Not only is the country's food security situation at its most precarious but
hopes for an economic revival also hinge on a solid agricultural base.
Agriculture made the single biggest sectoral contribution before the chaotic
fast-track land reform. But the sector is hanging by the thread and
resultantly the economy has been reduced to a recessionary heap while hunger
stalks the nation. Worse still, only 44 percent of the allocated land is
under productive use.
This prompted Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono to
warn against the dangers of continued invasions. His exasperated undertones
over the continued mayhem on commercial farms is well documented. To express
his distaste and frustration Gono labelled those invading farms criminals.
This was an opprobrious remark. He spoke himself hoarse and other furious
critics of continued farm invasions joined the chorus. But what did
government do about it? Typically the government, which despises ideas only
when other people have them, took no heed. Gono's was a voice in the
Murerwa was therefore not saying anything new. This was just a
belated rehash of the central bank governor's year-old tune. We don't mean
to say that there is anything wrong in the minister adding his to Gono's
hitherto ignored voice of reason. It is just that we find it hard to believe
that government really appreciates the gravity of the implications of the
costly farm invasions, and will now cease to pay lip service to the notion
of discipline on the farms.
There is no fibre of sincerity in what the minister said. Our
sceptism is not without foundation. Contrasting what Murerwa, a key member
of the government who should prevail on his colleagues to stop fuelling
continued farm takeovers said, with the situation on the ground would be an
eye-opener. It would expose the bundles of contradictions that constitute
the Zimbabwean government, which has turned a stone-blind eye to the
unabating farm seizures.
The publicly stated official position is that the land
acquisition exercise is over. If a signal was sent out to the world that the
exercise had been concluded, why then have the land grabbers continued to
defy government with impunity? Conspicuous among these eleventh-hour land
grabbers are senior government officials such as the Governor and Resident
Minister of the Midlands, Cephas Msipa who sees no shame in changing farms
like stockings or underwear!
The self-centred politicians, who have the ethical sense of a
pack of jackals, know only too well that despite the sound and fury in
Murerwa's statement, there are red lines the government will not dare to
cross when it comes to dealing with lawlessness of this nature.
The voracious land grabbers know that there is not enough
political will and commitment to deal with these issues. That about 300 or
so multiple farm owners have neither been made public nor called to account,
speaks volumes about government's commitment to rid the country of
corruption and land underutilisation. Pledges were made that government
would deal decisively with multiple farm owners.
It has however been an anti-climax of notable proportions
because the curtain is already coming down before the theatre even begins.
Despite the fact that it is of overwhelming public interest, the issue of
multiple farm ownership has provoked a deafening silence from the
authorities, save of course for the occasional token censure. Why stall when
there is clearly a case of corruption?
This is why we are sceptical about government's commitment to
lowering the boom on corruption and lawlessness on farms and taking the
long-promised clean-up exercise of the land reform exercise to its full
expression. As far as dealing with the country's agricultural woes is
concerned, it is now a case of easier said than done. Which leaves us with
the question: Beyond parcelling out the finite resource like confetti, does
government have a strategy with regard to the problems besetting
agriculture? Most likely not if the situation on the ground is anything to
What else can we say when senior ZANU PF and government
officials for whom there seems to be no limit to greed, no shackles to
avarice and no end to cupidity continue with their flagrant violation of a
government position which they should instead protect? Doesn't this smack of
tacit approval from government itself?
Mavis Makuni Own Correspondent
AFRICA'S longest serving head of state, Omar Bongo of Gabon is still raring
to go after almost 40 years in power. Bongo (69), who first assumed power in
1967 when he was 32, was sworn in for another seven-year term of office last
By the time his current term of office ends, Bongo will be 76 years old and
will have been in power for 45 years, a record surpassed worldwide only by
Cuba's Fidel Castro, who has so far clocked an incredible 46 years in
Despite having received 79.2 percent of the vote, Bongo's victory was marred
by demonstrations by opposition supporters who alleged that the elections
were marked by irregularities such as multiple voting, stuffing of ballot
boxes and voting by foreigners. International observers however pronounced
the polls to have been conducted smoothly without any incidents of fraud.
Observers noted that Bongo used the very same popular discontent over
poverty and unemployment that his opponents tapped into to turn the tables
in his favour.
And how did he do it? By taking maximum advantage of state machinery and
resources to shower the impoverished voters with gifts and numb their pain
and disillusionment with images of his portrait gazing benevolently down on
them from every nook. In other words, this was vote buying at its best and
This was not the first election Bongo has won whose results have been
disputed by opposition groups. His re-election in 1993 sparked rioting after
the long-serving president was accused of rigging the polls. But Bongo's
re-election by such a wide margin after 38 years in power suggests that
outright rigging is becoming old hat for Africa's life presidents who are
only too aware of the international scrutiny elections are now subjected to.
Vote buying is emerging as the new prestigious survival strategy and as it
is almost impossible to prove, long-suffering opposition parties must accept
they have a new kind of fight on their hands.
Another survival trick incumbent leaders are increasingly accused of
resorting to is the discredit-or-eliminate-your-strongest-rival ahead of
presidential elections approach. Rightly or wrongly, South Africa's Thabo
Mbeki has been accused of playing this new political game following his
decision to dismiss his deputy, Jacob Zuma in June. Allegations have been
made that despite an earlier pledge to step down in 2009 in line with the
provisions of the constitution, the South African leader has other ideas.
Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo seems to be the latest incumbent to
have caught the I am-indispensable-and-I-won't-go bug. He is reported to be
at loggerheads with his vice-president, Atiku Abubakar over whether or not
to amend the constitution to pave the way for him to serve a third term. The
Nigerian head of state, who has been accused of orchestrating a political
vendetta to discredit his deputy, is said not to be satisfied that Abubakar
is capable of carrying forward the fight against corruption and the economic
reforms he has set in motion.
By adopting this approach, Obasanjo has embraced the dangerous delusion of
indispensability that has saddled Africa with leaders who are long past
their sell-by dates. Surely one man can only do so much after which he
should step aside to let others have a go. The people, rather than an
incumbent who has a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, should be
the judges of the suitability of a successor.
Uganda's Yoweri Museveni is another president who evidently believes that
his country cannot do without him at the helm. The first step he took in
propagation of this belief was to force an amendment of the constitution
last year to enable him to seek a third term of office. He has been in power
for 20 years.
The plot has thickened in recent months following the arrest of opposition
politician, Kizza Besigye, who has subsequently been charged with treason,
an accusation that is apparently currently in vogue among long-serving
incumbents because it is guaranteed to totally cripple a political rival as
long as he has the charges hanging over his head. Observers say Besigye's
persecution by the state is a proactive move by Museveni to ensure his
victory in presidential elections scheduled for next year. Besigye is seen
as the man likely to pose the strongest challenge to Museveni in those
But no matter how adept African leaders can become at these political
survival tricks, the fact remains that a man like Omar Bongo cannot have any
more new ideas or fresh approaches to bring to a job he has been doing for
40 years. With the limiting of the number of presidential terms of office
being rendered ineffective by constitutional amendments decreed by
incumbents bent on clinging to power, opposition parties will have an even
harder time dislodging them from office via the ballot box.
The well-heeled clowns want to have it all
EDITOR - News that the petrol pirates have managed to get away with fuel
worth gazillions of dollars, this from under the nose of the intelligence
and law enforcement agencies, say a lot about the rot that has crept into
the guardians of our law and security. (Go on weep and see if it will make a
This need not have happened in a country that boasts the most skilled
labourforce on the continent. One wonders where the loss control officers,
accounting officers in the ministry were when this was happening. Given that
the product is in short supply anyhow means this did not happen in a day but
it took quite a while. Or could it be simply that corruption has balloned to
these dizzying heights? Imagine how many people were killed because
ambulances had no fuel, how many orphans died of hunger because food could
not be delivered to them, how many acres of land were left fallow because
the tractors could not till them? The list is endless all because a couple
of already well-heeled clowns want to have it all . . . (come on what are
you waiting now wail . . . )
Anyway some countries have added a colour to the fuel that is subsidised and
meant for the government sector. This simply means an effort is being made
to curb this abuse (Professor Chetsanga this is where you come in with that
fantastic SIRDC of yours). In theory the colour is added to the fuel making
it different from the one available at the commercial or black or green
market (there is a colour for you).
Inspectors will then carry out periodic checks on the vehicles on the road
using a device to check for the colour and wham - the thin blue line boys
are buzzing away with the offender(hair-brained perhaps, but it could work,
remember it has been tried elsewhere) .
The next available alternative is a long winding speech from the Minister of
whatsname saying that the culprits will be brought to book then two weeks
down the line another load is siphoned or you can have the Transparency
International addressing a seminar with visual aids and long words on how
far we have fallen or better still you will get the minister responsible for
state security saying that the Americans and British have sent saboteurs to
persuade Zimbabweans to steal all this bounty ad nauseum.
Entertaining stuff, if your inclination is for the macabre but really we
have to devise practical solutions to some situations, more so when they
affect our daily livelihood as a people . . . after all we are a people aren't
we? Or maybe vamwe vakurovera kuwoneka!!!!
Zimbabweans don't feed on speeches
EDITOR - It is interesting that Elias Matinde, born in 1978, should argue in
his article 'Definitely better off'' that we are better off now than we were
in 1977. I wonder how he would know that. Mr Matinde claims we as
Zimbabweans "are going places". Yes we can see that. He is writing from
Japan! We definitely are going places!
I will not say whether we are better off or not; in fact it is irrelevant at
this stage. My greatest contention with what he says however, is that he
implies that Zimbabwe can 'make it' without outside assistance. No nation is
an island. It's that simple. A country cannot be successful in isolation
even if the people are prepared to work as he rightly claims young
None of the leading world economies functions in isolation. The east
benefits from the west, and the west from the east. The very countries we
are supposed to be looking towards - China, Russia, etc - depend on western
markets. Countries like the USA know they need oil from Middle Eastern
countries and countries like Venezuela.
Despite differences they may have with some of these nations politically,
they know what their priorities are, and will work with their enemies for
their industries to survive. The world is not fair VaMatinde. And the
playing field is not level.
But we don't feed on speeches, utopian ideologies and worthless politics. We
need food and right now. If it comes as a hand-out, that is not something
that we can be proud of, but we have to take what we can get. The very sad
and unfortunate thing about Zimbabwe right now is that those who are denying
international aid to those who need it the most are not the ones who have
just used up their last rations of mealie meal. They are not the ones
bearing the brunt of these skewed and self- destructive policies.
VaMatinde, no one is trying to make Zimbabwe a colony again. That is a
delusion. Colonies were made when most of the colonial powers where under
monarchies or similar styles of rule. The idea was to build empires for
their kings, queens and chancellors. Even the USA fought a war of
independence against such because, they said, all men are equal and
therefore should not be made the subjects of a king or queen. Kings and
queens, if they still exist at all in those societies, are now only symbolic
offices (as are chiefs in our society).
Those at the helms of western governments are elected civil servants who
serve a term of four or five years if they are not re-elected. Given that
fact, who of them would be trying to make colonies, for whom and for what?
They have real 'bread and butter' issues to tend to and no time within their
short terms to even dream about such.
Finally, we the people of Zimbabwe should move away from the politics of
supporting people and individuals. We must move on to analysing what
politicians are saying and vote along the lines of ideas, and not
personalities or political parties. It is a candidate's message that we
should be listening to, how their proposed policies and ideas can bring us
out of the rut we are currently stuck in.
If a particular political party stands for that, great. That means the next
election year I may choose to vote for a different party than I did the
season prior it - I may if another party is making more sense.
There doesn't have to be anything personal about that. We the people 'hire'
civil servants in these offices, that of the president included, to do a
good job for us.
If they aren't delivering, we should 'fire' them through the ballot box, and
hire someone else. It is not personal. It is being practical. We need the
job done right for our welfare.
God bless Zimbabwe, and help us out of the dilemma we find ourselves in.
Dr C Panashe
Educating Elias Matinde about Zimbabwe
EDITOR - I would like to respond to the letter written by Elias Matinde in
Japan. To say blacks were not allowed to vote before 1980 is not true.
Politics seems to twist things to suit any political party.
Let me educate you on facts about Zimbabwe. In Zimbabwe it a was one-man,
one-vote system because the only people who could vote before 1980 were
supposed to be property owners. The second fact, irrespective of where one
resided one could vote. The third fact is that the Zimbabwe dollar was worth
something. Z$1 was the equivalent of US$3 before 1985.
Economic management was not in one man's hands as professionals were making
relevant contributions and civil servants were career people who got the
jobs on merit. Farmers were on the land to grow crops as a duty to feed the
nation and the fuel procurements were done by the oil refining companies.
Those are facts that can not be avoided.
No country is run on handouts. As educated as Matinde is, he should know
that governments collect taxes, without which they would experience
problems, especially if the government is wasteful and greedy.
Remember this is not about racism - it's about mismanagement of the local
I am overseas because in Zimbabwe it was who are you and who do you know to
I am a scientist by profession and there are major issues that caused the
rot of Zimbabwe, starting with the leadership.
Tribal talk baffles me
EDITOR - I'm rather surprised that some people are seeking to have Zimbabwe
split on tribal lines. As would be expected, these people have found support
from the very vocal Paul Siwela who seems to believe that Matabeleland can
be viable on its own.
While there might be reason to resent the present regime (and indeed there
is for everyone including Mashonaland provinces), the solution to our
problem lies in the change of attitudes of such individuals as Siwela so
that all Zimbabweans can work for the improvement of their lot, regardless
of ethnic background.
Dividing Zimbabwe can only lead to greater animosity between tribes and
future generations will judge us harshly for failing to attend to our
differences in a mature way. We stand a better chance of solving our
problems if we remain united.
After all, urban areas in Matabeleland have large populations of
Shona-speaking people and what is to be done about them? Ethnic cleansing?
Could that be what the proponents of a Ndebele state have in mind?
God help people like me who do not belong to any of the 'major' tribes.