THE ruling ZANU–PF, grappling with damaging internal fissures sparked by
Simba Makoni’s surprise challenge against President Robert Mugabe, has
wasted no time in weeding out parliamentary hopefuls perceived to be
sympathetic to the former finance minister’s presidential bid.
Information obtained by the Financial Gazette yesterday indicates that the
presidium this week took it upon itself to vet the list of candidates
seeking election to the House of Assembly, Senate and local government on a
ZANU–PF ticket in the wake of the threat posed by Makoni’s foray into the
The strategy has in the past week seen the ZANU–PF National Election
Directorate, headed by Elliot Manyika, staging primary election re–runs in
nine of the 10 political provinces in the country, in what observers claim
is part of President Mugabe’s pre–emptive strike against Makoni and his
secret backers thought to represent about 90 percent of decision-makers in
The same information shows that those suspected to be allied to Makoni or
whose allegiances were no longer clear, have been prevented from standing
against President Mugabe’s loyalists in the on–going re-runs.
Documents obtained by this paper show that Manyika wrote to all ZANU–PF
Provincial Electoral Directorates informing them that the party had made
changes to the list of candidates contesting primary elections in their
The most affected provinces were Masvingo and Manicaland where almost all
sitting MPs and Cabinet Ministers were being challenged, an indication,
according to ZANU–PF insiders, that the generality of ruling party cadres
and supporters yearned for urgent leadership renewal in the ruling party up
to the presidium. In Manicaland, three constituencies were affected while in
Masvingo nearly half of the constituencies in the populous provinces had
re–runs or had parliamentary hopefuls barred from contesting against
The affected constituencies in Manicaland were Buhera West, Makoni South and
In Makoni West Agriculture Mechanisation Minister Joseph Made was trounced
by war veteran Nation Madongorere by 396 votes.
Surprisingly, on February 8 Manyika advised the Manicaland Provincial
Elections Directorate to ignore the result. Without giving reason, he wrote:
“Cde Nation Matongorere should be asked to step down. Cde Joseph Made’s
candidature still stands.”
In Buhera West, Elasto Mugwadi, the former chief immigration officer and
Finnie Munyira, the former permanent secretary for Local Government were
approved by the presidium to contest primaries against Tapiwa Zengeya.
They, however. ended up being unopposed, allegedly after instructions from
Makoni South, which initially had been reserved for women, was opened up at
the last minute and Shadreck Chipanga was approved to contest against any
other aspiring candidate.
Meanwhile, the Nomination Court sits tomorrow to accept nomination papers
from candidates for presidential, parliamentary, senate and council
elections scheduled to take place on March 29.
President Mugabe, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and Makoni are expected to
vie for the highest office in the land. The Nomination Court for
presidential candidates will sit at the Administrative Court in Harare,
while candidates for both the House of Assembly and the Senate will be
attended to at magistrates courts in all the provinces.
The venue for the Nomination Court for local government polls will be the
offices of town clerks or chief executive officers in each of the country's
86 local authorities. The Nomination Court was supposed to have sat last
Friday, but the date was pushed forward by a week after political parties
failed to conclude primary elections on schedule.
After the harmonised polls on March 29, chiefs' provincial assemblies will
meet on March 31 to elect 16 chiefs to the senate.
After setting the date of the sitting of the Nomination Court, the
government also gazetted statutory Instrument 13 B/2008 that says in local
government polls, candidates no longer have to produce police and local
authority rates clearance certificates when submitting their nomination
THE Ministry of Health says Harare’s drinking water is unsafe and poses a
danger to public health, The Financial Gazette established this week. The
damning report was submitted to the joint parliamentary committee on Local
Government and Health by the Health Ministry’s environment and health
ZANU–PF Mazowe West legislator Margaret Zinyemba chairs the Local Government
committee and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Kwekwe legislator
Blessing Chebundo chairs the Health committee. In an interview on Tuesday,
Chebundo confirmed receiving such submissions from the Health Ministry.
An assistant said Zinyemba would only be available for comment at the end of
The joint parliamentary report detailing the water situation will, however
not see the light of day as parliament will be dissolved on March 28, a day
before the presidential and parliamentary polls. “The water samples showed
that Harare’s water could pose a danger to people’s health. We were worried
as a committee,” Chebundo said. He said the committee took the findings as
being reflective of the situation in other towns and cities. The Local
Government committee has previously tabled reports in parliament advising
against the controlling of water affairs by the Zimbabwe National Water
Authority (ZINWA), but government has so far ignored the recommendations.
“Zinwa defended the situation,” Chebundo added.
Recently more than 400 cases of diarrhoea were reported in Mabvuku/Tafara.
At the time of the outbreak, the Minister of Health, David Parirenyatwa, was
quoted in the state media attributing the problem to the water situation.
“It is very difficult to bring the situation under control because the
provision of adequate sanitation and water should be attained first,” he
Contacted for comment, Water Resources Minister Mutezo said: “ I am not
aware of that submission, so I can’t comment. Besides it would be improper
for me to comment on a parliamentary report that has not been tabled. It
would be unprocedural.”
WHILE Simba Makoni’s bid to become the country’s next executive President
has undoubtedly caused sparks to fly in the electoral arena, analysts say
the former finance minister still needs to thoroughly cleanse himself of any
lingering whiff of ZANU–PF to win over skeptics in the main opposition and
allies in civic society organisations.
An envisaged united political front seemed unlikely to include Morgan
Tsvangirai and his camp of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) after
the former trade unionist dismissed the former ZANU–PF deputy secretary for
economic affairs as “old wine in a new bottle.”
At the same time civic society organisations have resolved to support the
MDC, which has failed to dislodge ZANU–PF from power since its formation in
Analysts who spoke to The Financial Gazette this week said an alliance now
depended on Makoni and his backers striking a deal with Tsvangirai and civic
society organisations for there to be a realistic chance of beating
President Robert Mugabe in the March 29 polls.
The analysts noted that while it was undisputed that Makoni appeared to have
“superior” academic credentials to Tsvangirai’s, who said on Sunday he would
not step aside for the former Cabinet Minister, doubts still lingered on
Makoni’s capacity to divert rural support away from President Mugabe and
They said Makoni needed to do much more to convince skeptics in the
opposition, and its key allies that he is indeed his own man, and not a
decoy stalking President Mugabe’s horse.
This is despite demonstrating sincerity and openness in his presidential bid
over the past week when he has addressed two press conferences.
“He needs Tsvangirai more than Tsvangirai needs him,” said Eldred
Masunungure, a professor of Political Science at the University of Zimbabwe.
“He has made a number of blunders since announcing his presidential bid,
among them his un–severed attachment to ZANU–PF when he needs to embrace the
broader opposition society, including Tsvangirai, that has been clamouring
for change for nearly a decade now,” added Masunungure.
Yet others said the rural vote, which ZANU–PF has depended on to trounce the
opposition, has become restless and disgruntled with the ruling party and
could find Makoni a refreshing alternative.
They said in as much as Makoni needs the opposition MDC, the fractured
opposition also needed him given that Tsvangirai has twice failed to wrest
power from President Mugabe.
Useni Sibanda, the co–ordinator of Christian Alliance, said Makoni still had
a mountain to climb if he was to win the support of an un–convinced
opposition and the generality of civic society, which were initially excited
by his entry into the presidential race.
“There are principles and values we uphold as Christian Alliance. For
instance we need to hear his views concerning a people–driven constitution,
something we believe in,” said Sibanda. “What is his vision beyond the
presidential race, we need to hear him speak on the issue of the rule of
law, human rights, the economy. We need to get all these issues into
perspective before making a judgment,” he said.
Sibanda said it was important for Makoni not to triviliase the opposition,
especially the popular Tsvangirai camp.
Masunungure said rejecting ZANU–PF and then embracing the opposition should
have been Makoni’s first step before announcing his presidential ambition.
“His statement that he is still part of ZANU–PF has put a lot of people off.
That’s why Tsvangirai and Lovemore Madhuku are finding it easy to say they
can’t work with him because he sounds as if he is still wearing his ZANU–PF
“What Makoni needs is to come out clearly and cleanly state that he has
failed to reform ZANU–PF from within but now needs others to help him,” he
Sibanda concurred, adding that Makoni needed to move with speed to patch
differences with the opposition, which enjoys unbridled support in urban
“People still need to know whom he is working with in ZANU–PF. When these
so–called ZANU–PF heavy weights remain faceless, people will continue to be
cautious about Makoni. People will then be able to judge whether or not the
people he is working with can eclipse the work that has been done so far by
Tsvangirai and other opposition leaders and democratic forces to bring about
change in this country,” said Sibanda. Political analysts however, said
strategically it might not be necessary for Makoni to reveal the people he
is working with from ZANU–PF. “The strategy could be for his peers in
ZANU–PF to continue weakening the party from within and to dump it just
before the poll date,” said a source. “In any case most of these ZANU-PF
heavyweights are excess baggage and could actually complicate things for
Makoni,” added the source.
Makoni (57) announced his presidential bid in the March 29 elections last
week after months of speculation, sparking panic within ZANU–PF and the
equally fractious opposition MDC.
He is expected to reveal the names of the people working with him after the
sitting of the nomination court on Friday.
While maintaining Makoni would play a critical role in the future of the
country, Tsvangirai said there were fundamental differences between him and
Makoni as the latter appeared to be pursuing an agenda of reforming the
governing ZANU–PF to ensure that the same ruling party elite retained power.
Tsvangirai said Makoni had not formally approached his political formation
for a united front in the March 29 plebiscite.
“The differences are fundamental. He says he is still ZANU–PF… we have
nothing in common with ZANU–PF. Dr Makoni is nothing more than old wine in a
new bottle,” said Tsvangirai.
While the Arthur Mutambara camp of the MDC has said the door was still open
for Makoni to engage it about forging a united front, there is still concern
among the Tsvangirai camp supporters that the former finance minister’s
candidacy could be a ploy by President Mugabe to split the opposition vote.
Makoni has, however, vehemently dismissed such suggestions.
“I am not a ZANU–PF ploy, I am genuine, I am honest and I am nobody’s tool
or agent,” Makoni told journalists last week. “I urge the people not to be
duped by falsehoods.”
Makoni is thought to be close to Solomon Mujuru, the retired army general,
who is the husband of the country’ vice President Joice Mujuru.
Makoni’s announcement forced President Mugabe to cancel a ZANU–PF politburo
meeting last Wednesday, which had been scheduled to vet candidates to
represent the ruling party in the parliamentary, senate and local government
Makoni was officially expelled from ZANU–PF at a rescheduled politburo
meeting on Monday this week.
Observers point out that Makoni did not raise a finger at the December
ZANU–PF Special Congress, which supposedly overwhelmingly endorsed President
Mugabe as the party’s presidential candidate. They also cite the fact that
on January 21 Makoni and President Mugabe held closed–door discussions at
“When I met (President) Mugabe, I told him it was media speculation as it
was then. But now I have accepted to offer myself to be president of
Zimbabwe,” he said.
Without mentioning names, he said hordes of ZANU–PF bigwigs would be coming
out of their closets before the March 29 polls to join him in his
“I won’t be in this campaign alone. There will be many more of us, a great
many of us,” he said. “I am not standing in the name of any party. I am
standing as an independent.”
Makoni claimed he decided to challenge President Mugabe after the ZANU–PF
Special Congress in December failed to usher in new leaders.
He said following very extensive and intensive consultations with party
members and ZANU–PF activists across Zimbabwe as well as others outside the
ruling party, he accepted the call to offer himself as the candidate for the
office of President of Zimbabwe.
Makoni said he would have wanted to stand on a ZANU–PF ticket but “that
opportunity was denied any other cadre who would have offered themselves to
save the party and country.”
Asked about his chances in the March 29 presidential race he said: “The
chances are very good and overwhelming. Why don’t you ask about the chances
of others that are contesting?”
He said he did not fear for his life despite threats from war veterans irked
by his decision to challenge Mugabe.
“I don’t’ feel threatened. My security is among the people.”
Analysts concur that while Makoni lacks grassroots support of his own, the
fact that he is said to be working with key ZANU–PF leaders and former
military leaders made him a more formidable challenger to President Mugabe
than a divided MDC.
KEY issues of the economy, now in its ninth year of a recession, are likely
to determine the outcome of harmonised elections scheduled for March 29.
Worried voters have made the potential to create employment and ending the
agonising economic crisis a pre-requisite for their choice of presidential
candidates, who will battle it out in next month’s joint presidential,
parliamentary and local government elections.
In a snap survey, The Financial Gazette gathered that economic concerns
preoccupied the majority of the voters’ minds ahead of the polls.
Indeed the desire for economic reform seems to be a key element in the
campaign messages of the key presidential candidates.
For most voters, economic issues such as the escalating cost of basic food
commodities, housing problems, a crumbling health delivery system, fuel and
transport costs, should be top on the list of priorities for any party or
presidential candidate entertaining hopes of winning the elections.
Voters told The Financial Gazette that they wanted the next president and
government to urgently attend to the crumbling economy.
“I want to see the creation of jobs,” said Thembani Mukanda, a fruit and
With unemployment estimated at 80 percent, Zimbabwe has one of the worst
rates of the joblessness in the world.
Companies are closing down, throwing more people out of employment.
This is an indictment on the ruling ZANU-PF government, which has led the
country under President Robert Mugabe since independence in 1980.
Zimbabwe now has the world’s highest inflation rate at 26 000 for November
2007, and inflationary pressures continue to mount, eroding the restive
population’s savings and disposable incomes.
Voters have grown increasingly despondent, and do not see prospects for
“If this was a free and fair election, economic issues could be uppermost.
This time the economy is in total shambles,” said Tony Hawkins, a lecturer
at the University of Zimbabwe’s Graduate School of Economics.
Economic commentators agreed the economy would be the prime issue in the
“There has been a parochial focus on first generation rights issues. Now is
the time to focus on second-generation issues. It (economy) is a rights
issue. People should find bread and maize-meal in shops at affordable
prices. We want a comprehensive economic reform package for the
reconstruction of the economy,” said Joy Mabenge, executive director at the
Zimbabwe Coalition on Debt and Development.
Political analyst Hopewell Gumbo concurred, admitting that stomachs were
likely to decide the vote on March 29.
“People are voting on the question of the economy and economic hardships.
Those who are going to vote are (angry with) the deepening crisis,” said
However, economist Daniel Ndlela said although economic concerns would be
central to campaigns, all the candidates and political parties contesting
next month’s elections hardly had meaningful economic strategies to revive
the battered economy.
“They (economic issues) should have been of paramount importance in this
election. But the political parties have no strategy. There will be rhetoric
about economic turnaround,” said Ndlela.
But there are others who felt the economy will play no key role in the
Businessman and economic commentator Jonathan Kadzura said economic issues
would have little impact in deciding who wins next month’s elections.
“I can’t see it as being central to anything. The current economic position
is part of a process of change,” said Kadzura.
Some advocates of a free-market economy see a glimmer of hope with the
emergence of Simba Makoni in the race for the country’s top job.
“Makoni understands our problems and is presenting real solutions,” said
Tapera Katanda, of Chitungwiza.
Makoni announced his bid for the presidency a fortninght ago.
Zimbabwe is in a far worse economic shape today than when voters last chose
a president in 2002. The economy shrunk by six percent in 2007, despite
projections of a 0.5 percent to 1 percent growth by the government.
Industrial output and consumer spending have dwindled.
Equally unsettling to Zimbabwe’s pride is the revival of Mozambique.
As recently as eight years ago, Mozambique lagged behind Zimbabwe on a
number of key economic indicators, but after a package of economic reforms,
the country has pulled well ahead of Zimbabwe.
As usual, ZANU-PF is expected to play up its “Land is the Economy, the
Economy is the Land” rhetoric and continue with its socialist policies, such
as price controls, that have distressed the economy.
The seemingly unending talk about western influence in the elections and the
economic crisis will be pitched up.
The west has already been blamed for working with local busineses, accused
of hiking prices to distabilise the economy and create agitation against
President Mugabe’s government.
Makoni said the land reform ticket will not win ZANU-PF any votes this time
“We launched land reforms several years ago but we are in the eighth
consecutive year of no plenty. Land is a strategic national resource. It is
not unique. It is not an ornament for beautification. It is an asset for
income generation and the eradication of poverty. Acquisition and
redistribution need to be undertaken in an equitable and transparent
manner,” he said.
On the other hand, the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change, led
by former trade union leader Morgan Tsvangirai, is selling its economic
recovery blueprint called Reconstruction, Stabilisation, Recovery and
Transformation as a panacea to ending the country’s economic crisis.
In his manifesto launched yesterday, Makoni said national re-engagement and
dialogue would be key to economic, social and political revival.
He said he would depend largely on the three budget statements he made as
President Mugabe’s finance minister before being sacked for allegedly being
an economic saboteur promoting market economy policies.
“Go back to my three budget statements. It will be a key priority for us to
remove uncertainties,” Makoni said in response to questions about his
He also promised to remove the multiple foreign currency exchange rates “as
a tool for doing away with the parallel market and removing distortions in
But Hawkins dismissed Makoni’s policies.
“He failed dismally when he was finance minister,” Hawkins said.
NEXT month’s harmonised presidential, parliamentary and local government
elections could be marred by more violence than the national polls in 2000,
2002 and 2005, a peace-monitoring pressure group has warned.
Presenting the findings of its Violations Early Warning System (Views
Project), the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) predicted that next month’s
elections were likely to be the most violent in the history of the country.
The findings were based on an analysis of trends and patterns of violence
four months before the elections, in a bid to predict the climate in which
the landmark harmonised elections are likely to conducted.
“We are going to have an upsurge of violence in the country’s usual
political hotspots. We are going to see an upsurge of political violence in
Manicaland where new political entrant Simba Makoni hails from,” said ZPP
national director Jestina Mukoko.
Makoni is a former politburo member and Cabinet minister in President Robert
Mugabe’s government. He announced his intention to challenge the President
in next month’s polls.
ZPP said politically motivated violence could be experienced in Masvingo,
Manicaland, Mashonaland East, Midlands and to some extent in Mashonaland
West and Central.
ZPP said Masvingo and Midlands provinces were the most volatile. The two
provinces recorded the highest number of assaults, rape, murder, destruction
of property, torture camps and incidents of the harassment of civil servants
during the three elections alluded to.
ZPP was established in 2000 and its main mandate is to monitor and document
violations of human rights in the period prior to and after elections.
“We have in the past witnessed acts of violence, intimidation and harassment
in our findings, especially four months before an election and one month
after. During our field work we have also been subjected to all forms of
violence in various provinces of the country,” said Mukoko.
The report closely analysed trends and patterns of violence four months
ahead in a bid to predict the climate prior to the elections.
The organisation singled out ruling ZANU-PF supporters as the most prominent
group of perpetrators of violence during elections.
“The majority of perpetrators are from the ruling ZANU-PF party. We have a
database with names of some of the most prominent of them such as Biggie
Chitoro of Mberengwa,” said Mukoko.
She said food distribution was increasingly being used as a political tool,
especially in the rural areas, where those believed to be opposition
supporters did not get any food assistance.
BRITISH property tycoon Nicholas Van Hoogstraten yesterday told a magistrate
that he had legally imported and declared the foreign currency seized by the
police at his Emerald Hill home in Harare three weeks ago.
He said he was surprised police had kept quiet about a Zimbabwe Revenue
Authority (ZIMRA) declaration form they took during a raid on his home.
Van Hoogstraten, who claims to be a close friend of President Robert Mugabe,
pleaded not guilty to all five charges read to him by prosecutor Obi
These included violating exchange control regulations, demanding payments in
foreign currency and being found in possession of pornographic material.
He was arrested in Harare three weeks ago after police had been tipped-off
and was found in possession of $20 billion, US$37 586, R92 880, 190 British
pounds and 180 pula.
His lawyer, George Chikumbirike, told the court during pre-trial submissions
before magistrate Morgan Nemadire that until the evidence the State and
police had not produced in court was provided, his client would be left with
serious “doubts as to whether he will have a fair trial”.
“The police took files and documents relating to various properties,”
Chikumbirike told the court.
“The police were entitled to extract some documents and return the files to
us. There is a ZIMRA declaration form that was given to the police after
stumbling on the foreign currency.
“My client told them that he had declared the importation of the foreign
currency. A policeman known as Superintendent Makazhi told me that he saw
the ZIMRA report at the RBZ (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe). He said he was
prepared to give evidence if necessary,” Chikumbirike added.
Van Hoogstraten, 63, also said the issue of the “fake” South African rands
seized from his home was not an offence in Zimbabwe.
He said the law only provided for (fake or tempered with) local currency.
Chikumbirike said the State had split the charge on foreign currency dealing
into two, which was also illegal at law.
Earlier in the morning Van Hoogstraten had arrived at the Harare magistrate’s
Wearing a white shirt, black suit and maroon tie and immaculate black and
grey pointed leather shoes, the businessman was confronted by an army of
foreign and local photographers who this time took pictures uninterrupted
unlike what happened during his first day at the courts.
He laboured up the three floors to Court 13, the venue of the proceedings,
and met his Zambian business partner Frank Buyanga, who was on hand to give
him moral support as he faced trial in a country that he claims to have
helped so much.
Van Hoogstraten had a brief chat with former Grain Marketing Board acting
chief executive officer Samuel Muvuti, who was at the courts for his
Van Hoogstraten was introduced to members of the Muvuti family who had
accompanied the former GMB boss.
The trial continues today when the State is expected to produce the evidence
that Van Hoogstraten demanded.
No timid retreat
The Financial Gazette asked for the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor
Gideon Gono’s response to a court judgement that cleared the central bank of
any wrong doing in a case in which Flatwater Investments, which it had
contracted to raise foreign currency for the procurement of tractors for the
government’s farm mechanization programme, violated exchange control
regulations after using agents to buy the money from the illegal parallel
foreign currency market. Below is the response from Gono.
On 16 January, 2008, when I had been pressed to comment on this matter, I
did respond that at that stage, it was going to be sub-judice, improper and
unprocedural for the Reserve Bank to comment further on matters that were
before competent courts.
In the same breath, I also assured the nation that when the whole truth,
supported by appropriate due diligence, documentation and chronology of
events is eventually revealed, the receding confidence of some stakeholders
would be hoisted to unprecedented levels.
Notwithstanding this compelling hint at how confident I was on the absolute
cleanliness of what the bank was doing, some members of the community
mistook our noble refusal to comment to be a retreat laden with timidity.
Instead, as the matter progressed, my team and I were left with no doubt
that what we were dealing with was a case of (previously) very respectable
members of our community trying to sway public opinion away from their
felonies by pointing vainly fingers at the Reserve Bank as a desperate
Not so surprisingly also, some members of the media fraternity, particularly
one scribe who seems to be on someone’s payroll to smear this Governor and
his team, went on the rampage and themselves became the judges and the jury
to decimate the image of the Reserve Bank and all it stands for.
You will recall that the same unprincipled scribe ran a “mars–land”
fictional story about this Governor having imported a brabus vehicle, which
story ended up causing the owners of the newspaper some embarrassing
retractions and apologies.
Of course, fictional as it was, this story again died a natural death, the
same death that the alleged wrong-doings by the Reserve Bank in the recent
case has suffered at the hands of the judicial process presented with dry
Attempt to divert attention
What caused my heart to bleed was the dark day when the prosecutor
mysteriously mutated into persecutor, in the process giving a “sermon on the
mount” targeted at attacking the Reserve Bank, who in fact was the
Of course, due process at law simply means allowing only facts to prevail,
which is what has happened to produce a verdict absolving us of any
The court verdict has clearly shown that what was really at play was an
attempt by those caught on the wrong side of the law to divert and mislead
the judicial process down the wrong path, removing focus from the real
matters at stake, which were to do with breaches in Exchange Control
Regulations and other improprieties violating our collective civilization
I must add that this matter has also shown us that some people in positions
of authority, the same people who should know better, sought to drive us
into prematurely commenting on this issue yet it was still at the courts.
The same “respectable” people had in fact gone so far as attempting to
instigate the arrest of this Governor and some of his team members on the
back of the hot air balloons of lies that were being inflated by the likes
of that disgraced scribe I talked about earlier.
Wrestling a pig in the mud
At this juncture, I therefore wish to appeal to those in the media
fraternity to please go back to the ethics of this esteemed industry and do
the necessary checks and research work to prevent projecting lies to the
A look at the history of nations reveals that pens in the wrong hands
sparked some wars. Lives have been and can be lost through misunderstandings
that can germinate from irresponsible journalism.
Coming back to the wild allegations that were being leveled against the
Reserve Bank, that we poured trillions of dollars to shelf companies in pubs
with no documentation; and that we traded in the foreign exchange parallel
market, among many other cheap mud-shots, I want to say that we maintained
our “cool” because we knew this was a gospel sponsored and sung by those
climbing trees in foreign lands hiding from their felonies here back home.
As they say in strategy, when you know you are clean, never be drawn into
wrestling a pig in the mud.
Firstly the pig likes wrestling for no apparent good reasons; and secondly,
and more profoundly, pigs love it in the mud!
Let us keep
corruption under check
As Governor of the central bank, I want to once again reiterate what I have
said time and again, which is that as a nation, we need to rid our systems
of the evils of corruption, indiscipline and institutional ineptitudes.
These evils are destroying our very economy and the future of our children.
Let us co–exist in the spirit of truth, integrity, transparency, and above
all, openness without offense under the “Zimbabwe First” doctrine. As they
say, the opium of greed has no limits in its intoxicative effects once it is
allowed to settle among a people.
Greed, if not kept in check knows no boundary as to the station one occupies
in society; either as a law–maker, a clergy, a teacher, a farmer, a banker,
a miner, a tour operator, a bureaucrat, or a mere cog in the wheel of civil
But predominantly, it sets in upon those with the means; those in positions
of authority across the entire divide of society.
Because of the inability to keep greed in check, others today share with us
their lies via the long arm of faxes, emails, sms texts, and mid–night phone
calls from foreign lands. Indeed, due to greed, the same people are still
sapping with some here at home using very long spoons of ill–gotten wealth.
So yes, I am very pleased that the due process of the law has taken effect
and facts have been allowed to prevail.
Sunrise 111 coming
Let me take this opportunity to announce to the nation that soon the Reserve
Bank will be launching Phase III of the Farm Mechanisation Programme, which
programme we had put on hold to allow the fictitious dark cloud that had
been planted above our heads to naturally die.
It would have been inappropriate for the Reserve Bank to have proceeded to
unveil this forthcoming phase at a time when matters relating to such a
process were before the courts.
Let me end by calling upon our farmers to roll up their sleeves and play
their part in using the equipment Government is giving productively. As your
Central Bank, we will not disappoint our stakeholders.
The mini–battles and semi–poisoned arrows and spears directed at us will not
pierce through the thick skins of determination and self–less dedication we
have grown over the years in the interest of playing our statutory function
as monetary authorities and advisors to government, business, labour and
civic society in the affairs of finance, trade, and the economy in general.
Simba Makoni's announcement last week that he would stand as an independent
presidential candidate has whipped up strong public interest, and also
brought tough scrutiny of his strategy.
Here, in his first interview since announcing his candidacy, Makoni speaks
to The Financial Gazette News Editor Rangarirai Mberi about part of his
strategy, his meeting with President Mugabe, and his chances at the polls.
Rangarirai Mberi (RM): At what point did you decide to run for President?
Simba Makoni (SM): July 2007.
RM: Any significance to the timing?
SM: That was after the President had announced, in March, long before any of
the processes required for one to take leadership of the party had been set
in motion, that he would lead the party into the next election. I then
convinced myself that we needed urgent renewal, that we needed to move to
bring about that renewal.
RM: And then what did you do?
SM: I began that process of consultation with a wide cross-section of
people, from those within ZANU-PF and those outside.
RM: Your meeting with President Mugabe, what exactly did you talk about?
SM: I went to tell the President that there were views in the party that
there was now need for a renewal of the party, a renewal of the leadership
in the party and the country, and that there was a feeling that this should
come from within the party.
I was frank with him, and I told him that I was prepared to stand as
President, and that there were people who supported my decision to move in.
RM: And how did he react?
SM: He took note.
RM: What do you mean, exactly?
SM: He took note of what I had told him.
RM: He could have told you he was elected at the December congress?
SM: That's a question you would have to ask him.
RM: Well, he was elected as ZANU-PF President in December?
SM: Let me tell you this. When the full facts of the processes that led to
that congress are made public, people would understand why this decision has
been necessary. You should ask the legal secretary, the scretary for
administration and the political commissar.
RM: But these people that you say you consulted, from inside ZANU-PF, that
you say support you, where are they? Who are they, and why are they not
coming out in the open to back your bid?
SM: Let me talk about this notion that people have, this belief that I was
ever going to parade people in front of the cameras. My consultation was not
only with people in the leadership of ZANU-PF. I have consulted with the
grassroots, broad consultations, with all the people of Zimbabwe. That's
I have stood for hours in cash queues with the ordinary people, I know first
hand of the tribulations they suffer, standing out there for hours just so
you can withdraw a measly $5 million. That's a large part of the
consultations I did.
I do not understand it when I come out and say our crisis is the result of
failure of our national leadership, and people still expect to see me parade
some of this very same leadership responsible for these same failures.
Wouldn't that be a contradiction?
The people that matter are those that are going to come out on March 29 to
deliver a verdict.
RM: Which top ZANU-PF officials approached you to launch this challenge?
SM: Let me empasise this. I was not put up to this by anybody. I had views
of my own, that we were long overdue for a change of leadership. And so I
found that there was some significant support for that change.
RM: Why did you stay this long in the party, evidently the rot had already
set in much earlier than July 2007? You could have left earlier.
SM: If you look at the record of all my public pronouncements, from the
years that I served in government, and other public pronouncements I have
made since leaving government, you will realise what I have always been
I wanted to see a return to our original principles as a party and a nation,
the values under which the President said at independence that we must turn
our swords into plough-shares, the effort to establish an equitable and
prosperous society. I believe those values are still relevant up to now. It
is that deviation from these values by the leadership that we now seek to
reverse. So, until the last minute, I had continued to work for a return to
those original values.
Zimbabwe is a country that has a history, but it must also have a future.
And so I perservered inside the party only in the hope that there would be
some renewal of our party.
RM: How do rate your chances?
SM: Judging by the responses we have had since our announcement last
Tuesday, we are heading for a landslide win. We have reports voter
registration is up ten-fold since last Tuesday. The enthsusiasm is palpable.
I do not anticipate anything short of a landslide.
RM: Even for the rural vote?
SM: Why do we always want to categorise our people? Why do we herd them into
paddocks? All of them are Zimbabweans, and all of them yearn for the same
thing, which is an immediate renewal of our country. Please, we should not
create unnatural barriers.
RM: You have already been criticised for being vague on policy and strategy.
SM: What I will not do is make high-sounding promises to the people of
Zimbabwe. I want to emphasise this. I am not going to give you a reel of
menus and recipes. What I am offering the people of this country is an
opportunity to make changes, real empowerment.
I am not going to stand in front of the people and say, "I will build a road
here, I will build a house here, a dam there". I cannot make such promises.
There are 14 million Zimbabweans, and what I am about is offering each one
of them the chance to once again make the best out of their opportunities, a
chance to realise their full potential.
This government made many lofty promises, but it was a fallacy to believe
any of these would be delivered. That should be a key lesson.
RM: So how would you turn around the economy?
SM: Our priority obviously would be to get our land and our factories
We could get all the fertiliser from China, India, and so on, but the key
task would be to get our own Zimbabwean companies producing again.
Manufacturing capacity utilisation is down, primarily because companies
cannot source raw materials. There will be a need for a technological
renewal of our industry, we need to recapitalise our factories.
But any modicum of recovery would require a fresh supply of inputs; no big
task. But the most important thing we would need to do is to get our people
re-engaged, to restore their confidence, such that there will be no need for
a parallel market, or the need to pretend that there is a formal market when
it no longer exists.
This economy can still be turned around.
RM: Morgan Tsvangirai says you are old wine in a new bottle.
SM: I really do not think we should delve into trivialities. I wish we could
move from trivial matters into matters of substance.
Although Zimbabwe is not the only country in Africa that is challenged
politically and economically, the concern about its future is shared by not
only Zimbabweans but equally by non-Zimbabweans.
Zimbabwe’s brain trust i.e. its human capital is omnipresent in many
countries to make the state of politics in the country of universal
At this defining hour, it is evident that there is no consensus on what kind
of change Zimbabweans want to see. Some want to see a people-driven
constitution as the minimum condition for a new Zimbabwe. They argue that
the root cause of the Zimbabwean crisis is the lack of a constitutional
framework that guarantees freedom, justice and equality. Although this
school of thought was opposed to the SADC-mediated talks, it nevertheless
supported the proposal for a new constitution as a pre-requisite for the
democratisation of Zimbabwe.
It must be remembered that the MDC was a product of the movement to
introduce a new constitution in Zimbabwe. Over the last eight years, the
Lancaster House Constitution has been changed but what is striking is that
beneath the veneer of constitutional agitation was a calculated move to
remove President Mugabe. It was evident during the referendum that the whole
purpose of the proposed new constitution was to render President Mugabe
irrelevant and redundant out of a sincere belief that Zimbabweans were
incapable of removing him through elections.
If there are any lessons from the last eight years, it is that President
Mugabe and his ruling party will not invest in the demise of ZANU-PF and the
Zimbabwean leader is capable of reading political schemes more sharply than
his enemies think. Even in the context of the SADC mediated talks, Chinamasa
and Goche successfully managed to push the new constitution out of the
pre-election deal breakers.
There is now consensus that the elections will be held on March 29
confirming ZANU-PF’s gamble that in the final analysis MDC would not risk
boycotting the elections. Any democrat will agree that an election offers an
opportunity for the shareholders of a country to pronounce their choices
about who should govern them. Ordinarily the forthcoming election would just
be another election but in the context of Zimbabwe it represents something
more significant than just an election to choose leaders.
President Mugabe has been at the helm of the country for the last 28 years
and it cannot be denied that any outcome that will leave him at the helm
will not pass the credibility test. However, it must be remarked that
notwithstanding the label of dictator associated with President Mugabe, he
has not refused to subject himself to electoral politics.
What has been argued is that the playing field is not level and there is
nothing to suggest that it will be level during the forthcoming elections
but to the extent that all participants who will offer themselves for
election have accepted to be part of the process, it is important that all
efforts are directed towards making the process a success.
There is no doubt that even President Mugabe’s supporters expect change and
they would want a break from the divisive politics of the past. At the
presidential level, it is generally accepted that electing President Mugabe
would not change the politics that Zimbabweans are now accustomed to.
Equally, the composition of the MDC suggests that there is still zero
tolerance for reaching out to any person associated with ZANU-PF. If either
MDC or ZANU-PF wins, it is not clear how the state of politics in Zimbabwe
The supporters of MDC strongly believe that for any change to be credible,
power must be transferred to one of their kind who has been in the trenches.
Equally, ZANU-PF supporters are determined to ensure that this does not
happen. This stand-off is to be expected among competing political parties
if the desperate state of the Zimbabwean economy was not at stake. Anyone
who loves Zimbabwe is compelled to subordinate their personal interests for
the larger common good and yet what seems to be motivating most of the
political and non-political actors is far from the fierce urgency of turning
a new page for the country.
Many have now accepted that Zimbabwe should not be more than ZANU-PF and MDC
to the extent that any alternative is easily dismissed. Having challenged
friends of Zimbabwe to think seriously about the Makoni candidacy, I have
been deeply humbled by the support of the initiative but also challenged by
the anti-Makoni sentiments.
I have chosen to address some of the concerns expressed against Makoni’s
candidature in the hope that our conversations can rise above the
personalities involved. The credibility of Makoni has been raised by many.
It has been argued that Makoni cannot be trusted merely because he is a
senior member of the same party that has brought untold suffering to
Zimbabwe. This issue is important and must be addressed especially if Makoni
is maintaining his position that he will continue to be a member of ZANU-PF
The question of political affiliation and the divisive nature of Zimbabwean
politics make it difficult if not impossible to focus on the future. If one
accepts that Makoni has never been a President of any party where his
leadership skills have been tested in the same manner that his competitors
have been subjected to over the last 28 years then it will be easy to
explore whether in fact his presence on the political scene will not usher a
new era in the politics of the country. We are familiar with President
Mugabe’s leadership style and track record as we are with President
Tsvangirai’s leadership skills and style.
Both MDC and ZANU-PF are broken parties at a time when Zimbabwe needs a
united approach to tackle its challenges. Part of the challenge is to change
the hearts and minds of ZANU-PF members and it is not clear whether both
President Mugabe and Tsvangirai are capable of doing what they have failed
to do over the last 8 years. Instead of encouraging ZANU-PF to change, many
have accepted that maintaining the status quo is just fine.
Makoni’s disagreement with President Mugabe’s policies is well documented to
suggest that he will not implement the same disastrous policies that
Zimbabweans have now been accustomed to. Many have been consumed with
politics as usual and have now surrendered into accepting lower standards as
long as the word change is promised. In this election, the stakes are too
high for Zimbabweans to go on the same road that they have been over the
last 28 years. When salvation is in sight, a high risk exists for looking
backwards instead of looking ahead.
Will the election of Makoni represent a new chapter in the unfolding
Zimbabwean book? Is Zimbabwe ready for a new brand of politics? Who is best
positioned to unite and not divide Zimbabweans? Who can navigate Zimbabwe
beyond the politics of division? President Mugabe and Makoni will not be the
only candidates on the menu but what is important is for all of us to think
seriously about what matters to Zimbabwe.
Does it matter that Makoni is a member of a party whose leadership has been
monopolised by one individual when it is accepted that all Zimbabweans must
be held culpable for allowing the same individual to monopolise the
Why should Makoni’s association with President Mugabe be a deterrent anymore
than all Zimbabweans who have stood by while the country has been sunk
deeper into hopelessness? If MDC has failed to bring salvation for the last
8 years, is it conceivable that the party will get its act together anytime
Many other questions have been raised about what Makoni stands for. Although
I cannot speak for Makoni, I am not shy to say what I expect from the
post-Mugabe era and I would presume that all of us have something to say
about what kind of Zimbabwe we want to see. It would be helpful for all the
friends of Zimbabwe to fill the proposed Bank of Hope with their ideas of
what kind of Zimbabwe they expect to see fully knowing that they have a role
to play than wait for Makoni to think for them. A new Zimbabwe requires
people who are enjoined by a common purpose and who are allergic to the
politics of yesterday.
I would be the happiest person if I stopped reading about who is ZANU-PF,
MDC, ZPP etc but started reading about what people stand for. Surely, it
must be accepted that Zimbabwe needs change and the change must start at
home. The language of change necessarily calls for people to look beyond the
political labels and take ownership of their destinies.
In supporting anyone of the political players, a point should be made that
Zimbabweans must have a higher purpose and refrain from clouding their
judgment by fear. Nothing worthwhile will ever happen on its own and
Zimbabweans must give change a chance while acknowledging that to finish the
job ahead of Zimbabwe may require different skills and tactics that those
Can Makoni take the change agenda all the way to statehouse? Do you feel
that he will win? Do you think that he can win without your support? If not
your support, can you trust anyone who may invest in while you choose to
fold your arms? Is Makoni practical to make everyone comfortable with
change? If Makoni could co-exist with President Mugabe in a manner that the
opposition have failed to demonstrate over the last 8 years, can he be
trusted to unify the nation? Should Makoni bury his head in the sand by not
seeking to reach out to ZANU-PF members to see the light of change? Does
Makoni’s entry into the political scene give you hope? Does MDC have any
leverage on ZANU-PF? Who will cross the bridge from ZANU-PF if MDC were to
win the election?
Only a few weeks ago, the Makoni factor was unthinkable. Today, it is a
reality. Tomorrow it can only be possible if you make a decision to make it
happen. Please engage your mind and that of others so that together we can
shape the future of Zimbabwe. The country deserves better. Zimbabwe calls on
all of us to be better and not bitter. The past will not deliver a future of
opportunities and it is never late to add your voice to the message of
Mutumwa Mawere is a Zimbabwean businessman based in South Africa
BETWEEN the years 2000 and 2002 I used to run a column in the Gweru-based
Roman Catholic Church-funded monthly magazine called Moto, (literally
translated “fire” from the local Shona language). The column was called “No
It may also be recalled that the Moto issue of March 2002, I wrote an
analysis entitled, “Beware of the Ides of March”.
The article sought to warn the incumbent leader of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe,
not to take things for granted in the run-up to the March 2002 elections.
At that time, I felt it was appropriate to use the analogy of the
assassination of Julius Caesar as the basis of my warning to (President)
Mugabe as he prepared to battle the then leader of a much more united and
determined opposition MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai.
It was my contention in the main, that just like Caesar, an over confident
(President) Mugabe ran the risk of experiencing a humiliating defeat at the
hands of the upstart, the ascendant Tsvangirai.
But as history would have it, (President) Mugabe appeared to have heeded the
warning and fought perhaps the battle of his entire political life. In the
end, he managed to shrug off Tsvangirai as some would argue, by hook or
crook, in a an election with a very controversial result.
And so it happened that unlike the great Caesar, the President did not meet
his fateful end that March. In fact he has soldiered on, defying all forms
of opposition to his stranglehold on the Zimbabwean political leadership
mace unto this day.
But that was then.
As I write today, the political state of affairs in Zimbabwe has just taken
a new dramatic shift that might in the long term, completely transform the
political landscape forever.
February 5, an ordinary day in Zimbabwe suddenly breathed a new lease of
life into the largely moribund political environment of the country. A major
Press conference was held in Harare that eventually brought the entire
capital to a halt.
A rather quiet and unassuming gentleman, Simba Makoni, who upset the apple
cart by openly declaring his candidature for the presidency in the
much-anticipated March 2008 harmonised elections, addressed the event.
Personally, I was not all that surprised by this turn of events. It appears
that Makoni had read the national political mood so well. There actually
appears to be an air of hopelessness and despondency in the Zimbabwean
political atmosphere. This was further compounded by a desperate desire and
yearning for some real politics of change.
Just a few days earlier, at the end of January 2008 to be precise, in my
chronological context, I spent almost a full week in Bulawayo, the ailing
second city of Zimbabwe. And so it happened that during my latest visit to
my motherland, I had a good opportunity to collect views and perspectives
about the rumour that Simba Makoni was allegedly preparing to stake a
surprise challenge to President Mugabe’s leadership of Zimbabwe.
I managed to speak to a wide-ranging group of people from some key political
activists, civic society leaders, church leaders, friends, relatives and
some family members about the alleged ambitions of Makoni.
The result of my elementary and less than empirical public opinion survey
was so astounding! I discovered that an overwhelming number of people I
spoke to were strongly in favour of Makoni standing up to President Mugabe.
It appeared the people I spoke to had lost faith in both President Mugabe
and Tsvangirai altogether! There was so much disillusionment over the
performance of both the key candidates of the last presidential elections in
Both President Mugabe and Tsvangirai seemed to have lost their strong appeal
over the electorate.
In the final analysis, it was clear to me that Makoni was not necessarily a
popular choice but rather a desperate option from a people that had become
disillusioned with the leadership of both President Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
Makoni was thus an emerging beneficiary of that strong feeling of
disenchantment with the status quo.
Makoni’s rather muted entrance into the presidential race has indeed
complicated matters on the Zimbabwean political landscape.
First and perhaps foremost, Makoni has breathed a new lease of life into the
nation’s confidence in the rather sterile electoral systems of the country.
Until his arrival, the 2008 elections were bound to be a huge non-event.
Over the years, the euphoria that greeted the formation of the opposition
MDC and its promise of political change has evaporated among the
long-suffering masses of Zimbabwe.
The MDC has not been able to complete the change and has in the final
analysis helped to develop a notion that it would never be able to unseat
President Mugabe via the electoral process since it remained tilted heavily
in favour of the incumbent.
There is bound to be a re-affirmation of faith in the electoral process of
Zimbabwe by the majority of voters who up to now were most likely not to
even bother to turn out and vote, let alone support a specific candidate.
Secondly, Makoni’s entrance has perhaps saved the country from the
ever-growing possibility of a military take over of the country. A
duplication of the recent electoral patterns in the country would have
resulted in the retention of a hugely unpopular government that would have
driven the millions of long suffering Zimbabweans into an abyss of political
That on its own could have resulted in a complete loss of faith in all
future elections leading to the need for a new paradigm in the ultimate
politics of change. As such the notion of removing the incumbent by
“bullets” and not by “ballots” would have gathered more momentum.
Such a ghastly context could have led to civil unrest, a sure recipe for a
coup or an all out civil war.
Makoni’s decision has thus given the electoral politics of change a stay of
Thirdly, the entrance of Makoni as an independent now means that it is
certain that the presidential elections will not be a predictable two-horse
race between Mugabe and Tsvangirai as it was in the last plebiscite of March
2002. Until now, it was beginning to be apparent that there were only two
serious alternatives for the electorate, the same old protagonists in the
form of President Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
Makoni, it is hoped, will prove to be a viable alternative on the
presidential menu for the electorate to savour upon. This is good for the
development of a vibrant culture of credible multi-party democracy in the
Fourthly, Makoni is also important in as far as the fact that he appears to
have a broad appeal across the nation. He will be able to draw the attention
of most voters who over the years have grown disenchanted by the politics of
both the MDC and ZANU-PF.
It is common cause that both political parties are presently suffering from
a crisis of common purpose and disunity, as largely reflected by the
factionalism that is clearly evident in both groupings.
The past weekend’s failure of the two factions of the MDC to adopt a
political pact for the polls is a clear case in point. On the other hand,
ZANU-PF has also been struggling to come up with a legitimate list of
This is so mainly in Matabeleland where discord has been exacerbated by the
controversial reinstatement of Jabulani Sibanda by President Mugabe, a move
that has led to an increasingly open challenge to his leadership credentials
by the disenchanted senior party members of PF-ZAPU origins.
Last but by no means least, Makoni appears to be more ikely to defeat the
incumbent than the MDC since he actually fits more appropriately into the
political analogy of the Ides of March.
Just like Brutus, he is from President Mugabe’s inner circle. The presence
of the likes of Ibbo Mandaza and retired army boss Kudzai Mbudzi appears to
suggest that he has the backing of President Mugabe’s only credible source
of political power, the nation’s security forces.
Besides, Mandaza is known to be a close associate of the ruling party’s
alleged kingmaker who himself wields a lot of influence over the armed
forces, the retired army commander Solomon Mujuru.
Makoni himself has already claimed in public that he has consulted broadly
and has the support of many senior leaders of ZANU-PF.
And so just like Brutus, it is most likely that President Mugabe, like
Caesar, might not be able to survive an attack from his own inner circle. As
it is for now, he is no longer sure as to who to trust within his own party.
The postponement of the party’s Politburo meeting last Wednesday may
actually be an indication of the prevailing turmoil and uncertainty within
the party leadership.
President Mugabe is reeling and staggering right now. As it is, he may soon
fall down fatally, at the hands of his own.
President Mugabe must be aware of the real Ides of March this time around!
THE Zimbabwe Development Corporation (ZDC), which rose from the ashes last
month, might pounce on three companies as the government’s plans to
take-over struggling firms moves a gear up.
Government insiders told The Financial Gazette this week that the new ZDC
board, together with the director of Public Enterprises in the Ministry of
Industry and International Trade, were already working on the terms for the
planned take-overs, which could be met with fierce resistance from the
owners of the targeted companies.
The insiders revealed that ZDC was eyeing Chitungwiza-based Surface
Investments, troubled food manufacturer Olivine Industries and Lakeside
Hospitality, which operates lodges in Matabeleland North.
Ironically, Surface is a subsidiary of the state-run Industrial Development
Corporation, which was instrumental in the acquisition of a controlling
stake in Olivine by the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe. India’s Midex Overseas,
which manufactures edible oils, also holds a stake in Surface.
ZDC was created in 1988 but closed shop in the mid 1990s. The corporation
has been given a new lease of life, this time to take over companies alleged
to be undermining the country’s economic revival programme by
under-producing in order to create shortages in the recession-plagued
Last month Industry and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu announced a
new ZDC board chaired by businessman Jonathan Kadzura to run the
corporation, which was resuscitated alongside the Zimbabwe State Trading
Corporation to work as vehicles for acquiring companies that the government
might want to take over for engaging in “economic sabotage.”
Mpofu tasked the new board to select “a few entities, which will need to be
resuscitated on a sustainable basis”.
ZDC will identify business opportunities and spearhead government
investments in the economy with a view to foster a balanced growth of the
Mpofu also tasked ZDC to promote and conduct research in the increased use
of local raw materials by basic industries and to respond to any local or
foreign investor for joint ventures with the State.
“The economy is facing many problems...It is my belief that you will go a
long way in trying to address the challenges haunting our economy as you
discharge your duties,” said Mpofu.
President Robert Mugabe, who called for the resuscitation of the redundant
ZDC last year, accused private companies of engaging in dirty tricks in a
Western-backed plot to topple him from power.
Critics blame President Mugabe’s populist policies for plunging the country
into an economic crisis.
But the veteran leader denies the charge and accuses the opposition of
working tirelessly with Britain, the country’s former coloniser, to unseat
his government, a charge the opposition denies.
Analysts said ZDC might find itself lacking the wherewithal to wrest
struggling companies unless it receives adequate funding, which is unlikely
given the poor state of government finances.
This prospect has raised concern that ZDC might join the growing list of
public enterprises that are heavily dependent on the fiscus for survival at
a time when tax revenue is dwindling.
While government is taking aim at private enterprises the bulk if not all of
its parastatals are on the brink of collapse owing to poor funding, red tape
and political interference. The government, which is obsessed with
controlling businesses, has been dithering on the privatisation of loss
making enterprises, which could have helped reduce the high budget deficit
contributing to the country’s runaway inflation.
Analysts this week said most companies were operating in the red because the
government has left the economy to collapse due to its Soviet Union-style
policies such as the crackdown on prices.
NATIONAL airline, Air Zimbabwe (AirZim), has imported Jet A1 fuel from
neighbouring countries after a costly shortage that disrupted flight
schedules and resulted in several flight cancellations.
The new supplies will augment those from BP Shell and Total, which have
exclusive rights for the provision of Jet A1 fuel in the country.
AirZim requires 600 000 litres of Jet A1 fuel a week for it’s fleet of two
Boeing 767-200ER, three Boeing 737-200ADV and three MA60 aircraft imported
from China in 2005.
The airline’s traditional supplies of Jet A1 fuel, BP Shell and Total have
not satisfied AirZim’s requirement in yet to be explained circumstances.
AirZim chief executive officer Peter Chikumba last week said the parastatal
was experiencing flight delays and cancellations due to the shortage of Jet
A1 fuel, equipment constraints and crew shortages.
The cancellations and delays had cost Air Zimbabwe billions of dollars in
accommodation and food for the affected travellers.
AirZim corporate communications manager, Pride Khumbula, told The Financial
Gazette this week that while initial estimates had indicated that the
airline could have taken up to six weeks to recover, the situation had
stabilised much earlier after quick intervention from management.
“The situation has normalised,” Khumbula said.
“The airline operates with a contingency of either tankering or fueling in
“We have been able to contact affected passengers to minimise inconvenience
and reducing the costs of hotel accommodation,” she said.
The airline, which has also been affected by brain drain, requires US$100
million and $500 billion to recapitalise ailing operations.
AirZim currently has 50 pilots, according to Khumbula.
Government owns 100 percent shareholding in AirZim but has not responded
swiftly to the airline’s requests for additional funding.
However, experts this week said the crisis at AirZim, which has always been
blamed on the management, was a result of government bickering on the
proposed privatisation of the airline.
“The problems are a result of lack of resources, not poor management,” an
“Air Zimbabwe’s operational inefficiencies can only be solved by the
injection of fresh capital and allowing the airline to charge in foreign
currency because 70 percent of its costs are paid in foreign currency.
“It is not a management problem,” the analyst said.
ZIMBABWE is still battling shortages despite a raft of measures introduced
by the central bank to boost production and increase product availability on
the market. Although product availability has improved since the
intervention by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) late last year,
supermarkets remain partially stocked, with most basic food commodities
Most supermarket shelves remain empty, nearly eight months after the
infamous price blitz that precipitated the worst shortages in the country’s
Ironically, prices are skyrocketing almost daily, despite the creation of a
National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) regulating prices on the
In fact, the price hikes are now even more significant than before the
government launched its price blitz in June last year, slashing prices by at
least 50 percent and arresting more than 1 000 businessmen and executives
for defying its draconian approach to stabilising prices on the market.
RBZ governor Gideon Gono said recently that capacity utilisation had
improved from as low as 10 percent to as high as 65 percent on the back of
cheap funding availed to industry by the central bank.
The RBZ launched the Basic Commodity Supply Side Intervention (BACOSSI)
facility in October last year aimed at boosting production through targeted
financial support to producers of basic commodities.
Previous reports have indicated that most producers were pumping the BACOSSI
money into the stock market, feeding into a bull run that only touched the
fining line recently after a liquidity crunch forced a number of financial
institutions to sell their stocks their equity portfolios to raise cash to
The funding to the productive sector as well as key distribution agents
under the BACOSSI facility comes at a concessionary interest rate of 25
percent per annum, against punitive interest rates of over 1 000 percent for
general and consumptive borrowing.
Industry players have previously alleged that industrial operations still
remained stuck in a quagmire, with unreliable electricity and coal supplies,
inadequate foreign currency for critical raw materials inputs as well as
costly diesel supplies from the black market still dogging their operations.
Consequently, they could do little to boost production even with huge
Zimbabwe dollar cash from the central bank.
Some were putting the money into the equities market to recoup loses
incurred when the government launched its infamous price blitz, which forced
prices down drastically and triggered market-wide shortages.
Gono said besides the Zimbabwe dollar component promised under BACOSSI
facility, the RBZ had also given out US dollar loans to troubled operations.
Gono said as at January 8, 2008, a total of US$13.5 million and $18.6
trillion had been disbursed under the facility.
Now, the RBZ has started monitoring the first beneficiaries of BACOSSI, with
greater focus on price stability, output growth, employment preservation and
creation, capacity utilization and export expansion.
Gono said some retailers and manufacturers were already on the brink of
closure but had been saved by the BACOSSI facility.
Bread, one of the basic commodities, which had become scarce on the market,
is now available but priced beyond the means of most people. Price reviews
for bread have been taking place almost weekly.
Maize meal, the country’s staple food, is not available in most
supermarkets. Even then, prices have also become exorbitant.
Gono said major suppliers of basic commodities who had received financing
under BACOSSI included National Foods, Blue Ribbon Foods, Lobels Bakery,
Schweppes, the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe, starafricacorporation, Olivine
Industries, Unilever SEA, Cairns, Nestle and Circle Cement.
THE government’s price blitz triggered what even non-economists had feared –
massive shortages and a thriving black market. Where it meant to protect the
vulnerable, it hurt them further – the poor folks ended up having to take
long days going around town looking for scarce products, or they had to
resort to the black market where prices were 20 times or more those imposed
This has had the effect pushing inflation to higher levels, triggering
social discontent after thrusting the poor further down the deep hole of
Now, the government has let-up on the price controls, never mind the
creation of the grotesque National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) to
monitor and regulate prices.
Indeed prices are on the rampage.
After the infamous price blitz that forced prices down 50 percent at the end
of June, government had to rethink its strategy ahead of harmonised
Presidential and legislative elections on March 29, 2008.
Essentially, the NIPC was given the mandate to give passage to requests for
regular price reviews.
Industry sources admit the NIPC has lately been granting very favourable
price reviews, and these not only ensure viability but also guarantee super
profits for the private sector businesses.
It’s as if they are meant to compensate them for the losses triggered by the
infamous price blitz.
Bread is now in plenty supply, and, as they now say, its just your moola!
A visit to any supermarket will reveal a bit of where the economy is going,
and there is no need for a crystal ball.
Basic economic arguments note that price controls eventually hurt the entire
economy — and there has been no classic example of this than the recent
For example, government has been arguing that retailers should not hike
prices on their shelves, even when the cost of replenishing stock is
Naturally, if retailers are forbidden from charging economic prices, they
will eventually be unable to buy from the suppliers.
If the suppliers cannot sell their goods to retailers at viable prices, they
will quit buying from farmers who will be stuck with products they cannot
sell to the marketplace.
Consequently, they might stop producing, creating shortages on the market.
And this is precisely what has happened.
So, out of desperation, prices have been allowed to hit the roof, and, in
most cases, they are priced at two or three times the prices charged in
neighbouring countries – Botswana and South Africa, for example, where large
numbers of Zimbabweans are now trooping to avoid the stiff sums charged when
This appears costly to the ZANU-PF election machinery, but the bureaucrats
hope this is less costly than empty supermarkets.
A STORM is brewing at the National Social Authority (NSSA) after the results
of a salary survey commissioned by the authority last year showed massive
discrepancies in earnings between senior staff and non–managerial workers.
Disgruntled workers at the pay-as–you–go pension scheme are said to have
confronted management two weeks ago over the salary disparities captured in
a survey, which indicated a $500 million gap between the highest paid shop
floor worker and the least paid employee at junior management level.
It was not clear how much the lowest paid workers would earn at NSSA at the
end of this month when new salary schedules become effective. Sources said
the workers stormed into NSSA general manager James Matiza's offices after
tempers flared once results of the survey were leaked to employees.
"We confronted him (Matiza) on Friday last week but one, and the explanation
was that he is acting in the best interest of the organisation," a
disgruntled employee said on Monday.
"They (management) are giving themselves fat salaries when we are wallowing
in poverty. We cannot afford to feed our families and pay for school fess,
or afford enough money to come to work. Yet they want to see us at work
every day," the employee added.
Matiza was said to have excused himself from the tense meeting saying the
room in which the meeting was held was too hot but the enraged staffers were
defiant and refused to let him leave until he explained the burning issues.
But Matiza stood his ground saying he was not at obliged to discuss the
salary dispute with ordinary NSSA employees.
"I cannot give you an explanation on that one," he told The Financial
Gazette in a tease statement on Monday.
NSSA has long been accused of paying poor compensation to beneficiaries of
its pension schemes.
Matiza took over from former acting general manager Amod Takawira in
December last year and promised that he would implement major changes at the
social security authority to benefit millions of NSSA members. He did not
spell out the plans he had to tackle the issue of staff welfare, which had
been a sticking point in Zimbabwe in the past nine years.
"We are trying our level best," Matiza said in December. The issue of the
low payments has often come out of our meetings with stakeholders. So we
have listened to what they have told us. We have also taken the advice from
the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee of Public Service, Labour and Social
Welfare. They have advised us that we should review upwards the payments on
a quarterly basis. We used to revisit the payments after every three years
but because of inflation we had reduced that period," Matiza said.
Last year there was friction at NSSA when it acquired 26 Ford Ranger XLTs,
nine Ford Focus and nine Ford Ranger Petrol and nine Ford Ranger diesel
vehicles at a cost of US$700 000.
This was additional to top of the range vehicles bought in previous years
for management, which they were later given the option to buy at significant
WHILE the entire southern African region is grappling with a power crisis
that has disrupted economic activities, Zimbabwe, which is going through its
worst economic crisis in history, has been the hardest hit.
The country's domestic industries, already experiencing foreign currency,
fuel and spares shortages as well as a massive brain drain, are operating
The situation is certainly getting worse, with blackouts now a common
feature in the country while power supplies from neighbours are increasingly
Industry players say they have had enough and have lined up a crucial
meeting with power utility, ZESA Holdings and government to seek
explanations on the causes of the crippling power blackouts.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Marah Hativagone said
companies were failing to run their payrolls due to the power blackouts,
while billions of dollars were being spent on generators to keep operations
"We feel that the nation needs to know what is happening because companies
have incurred losses due to the unplanned outages. Companies are going for
three days without power. If there is a blackout out there is no water and
production is lost," she said.
"Among the worst affected are the food processing industries because once
there is a stoppage in production they have to throw away work in progress,"
The crisis escalated in January when systems disturbances occurred on the
Zambia electricity grid linked to most of southern Africa, plunging most
parts of Zimbabwe and Botswana into darkness.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Callisto Jokonya said
power supplies had marginally improved in some parts of the country, but
said the situation was not as bad as in neighbouring South Africa.
The power cuts sweeping across the region have been felt in other parts of
the world with China reportedly incurring massive losses.
Estimates indicated this week that the global power deficit had reached 40
Giga Watts and was projected to surge to 200 Giga Watts by 2015. In South
Africa, mining companies were reported last week to have lost R400 million
per day and planned expansion projects had been stalled.
Zimbabwe requires 1 500 megawatts of electricity daily and had been
importing 35 percent of this requirement from three regional power companies
in South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia.
Now, due to the collective lack of investment in the expansion of the power
infrastructure, the three countries are battling to satisfy their own
A spokesman for a leading retail chain, Denford Mutashu said the losses that
retailers incurred had been "huge" but said industry could not disclose the
"The effects have been felt more on those products that depend on
refrigeration," he said. There was no comment from the Chamber of Mines.
New chief executive Joseph Malaba said he was still settling.
But major platinum producers Zimplats, last week said the power cuts had
serious implications on mines.
"Since the end of the fourth quarter (2007), operations have been adversely
affected by power outages which have resulted from problems with the power
supply network in the sub region," Zimplats said in the report.
"Although these problems have been resolved for now, management remains
concerned about the ongoing power generating and transmission difficulties
and the possible impact on operations," the statement said.
An analyst yesterday said Zimbabwe must to look for short–term solutions
while strategies were put in place to deal with the crisis in the long term.
"We have a lot of options, there are small hydro electric plans that we can
start utilising, or we can invest in solar technology. South Africa and
Namibia are generating up to 100 mega watts per day from this technology,"
an industry player said.
Makoni is definitely presidential material
EDITOR – AFTER Simba Makoni announced his plans on the Zimbabwean political
arena, a lot of people have come up with all sorts of comments, some of
which were venomous, unjustified and made without due consideration of the
facts at hand.
His opponents are churning out the politics of hate, selfishness and through
their diatribe, I can see people jostling for political positions, people
who are planning to loot this economy and grind it to a halt.
We come first as Zimbabweans, which means being MDC or ZANU-PF is immaterial
and insignificant at the present moment. All that we want to see is normalcy
in Zimbabwe, people want food on the table and you cannot serve them ZANU-PF
or MDC for lunch or supper. Every Zimbabwean is suffering irrespective of
their political affiliation to MDC, NAGG or ZANU-PF.
Our country’s economy is in the intensive care unit at the moment and we
should all work towards getting it out of this quagmire.
The best solution to our plight is for us to rise above the politics of hate
and partisanship. If I had my way, I would ban political parties, which are
contributing to our misery, until the country’s economy gets back to normal.
As they say if wishes were horses beggars would ride.
The bible tells us that the Israelites took years in the desert and most of
them never reached the Promised Land. My best friend who visited Israel says
the journey can take less than a week and yet it took them years.
Just like the Israelites, we shall continue to suffer and die in foreign
lands until we rise above hatred, tribalism, regionalism and partisan
Unity and love are part of the solution to our plight. God loves Zimbabwe.
I feel very disappointed when national leaders judge a fellow countryman on
the basis of party affiliation and not competence. Zimbabwe can do better!
Zimbabwe needs people who can better her fortunes for the sake of her
Our country needs us to prepare a brighter future for our children just like
the Japanese have done. Ramangwana revana vedu rakakosha, kwete kuti tizvare
vapemhi. The future of the next generations is important; we don’t want to
create beggars. But if we don’t put our act together we are will bear and
raise beggars, criminals and pirates.
I feel Simba (Makoni) is a credible candidate for the top post in the land
because he does not harbour resentments for anyone within or outside
ZANU-PF. His critics say he is afraid of President Mugabe, but I feel he
simply does not want to water the seeds of hatred, which currently prevail
in our political arena.
Makoni is a person who appeals to both the ruling party and the opposition.
He also appeals across the tribal divide.
Politicians, please we need a break, we are tired of this chaos. We want to
come back home and leave the diaspora.
As a person who is fed up with the Zimbabwean situation, I believe Simba can
bring back the one-time breadbasket of Africa to normalcy. However, I hope
Simba is not playing games with Zimbabweans.
As a Pan-African, I feel this is a critical time to change our leadership
otherwise the political stability of the country is threatened.
I would hate it if Simba joined the archives of political clowns featuring
Shakespeare Maya of NAGG, Tafataona Mahoso and of course the infamous
Jonathan “Comical Ali” Moyo. It is a very crucial decision Simba should
make, that is, to be the rescuer of the suffering Zimbabweans or not. This
is a David vs Goliath fight. You (Makoni) have come in the nick of time.
If you let the children of Zimbabwe down, history shall judge you harshly.
As they say, history forgives, but does not forget. Before I rest my case
brothers and sisters, Zimbabwe is a beautiful country and it shall surely
I am still suffering with you as a Zimbabwean and I have no plans of selling
my birthright (changing citizenship).
It was high time, Simba
EDITOR—I would like to applaud Dr. Simba Makoni on his announcement and
intent to run for the office of President. Zimbabwe has been waiting for too
long for ZANU-PF insiders to start speaking up and standing up against the
corrupt and power hungry ZANU-PF regime.
Makoni’s announcement is only one step in the right direction and he is not
going to afford doing it alone. He is going to need the support of all
The war veterans and some ZANU-PF supporters responded to Makoni’s
announcement with stern warnings of violence, which of course amounts to
civil and political intimidation.
We have seen fires of hope being extinguished with violence in the past and
it is imperative for all Zimbabweans not to sit back. We should all be
involved in peaceful campaigning and participating in fair elections.
Once again congratulations to Makoni and I wish him peace as he works on his
What are Simba Makoni’s chances?
EDITOR — What Simba Makoni has done is quite interesting, but before we
celebrate let us look at what he is up against. While Simba is quite popular
with urban voters, President Mugabe has strong rural support and it is a
fact that more rural people will vote than urban voters.
As such Simba has to crack the rural code that Morgan (Tsvangirai) failed
to. He can achieve this by breaking away from ZANU-PF with individuals who
can win him the much-needed rural vote.
Maybe a coalition with the Mujurus, Dabengwa, Nkomo, Kaukonde, and most
importantly, chiefs, may do the magic.
We should also never underestimate MDC’s power and popularity among voters.
I strongly encourage and advise a coalition with Tsvangirai and Mutambara if
the urban vote is not to be wasted through a voter split that will favour
Though it might have been a strategy to ambush President Mugabe, I do not
like Simba’s timing. Will he have enough time to run around and convince
people not only to vote for him, but to register for the election?
Let us wait and see.
Bryne T. Mushaninga
Let’s support this man
EDITOR – Let us all support Simba Makoni for challenging President Mugabe. I
think many people in ZANU-PF will follow suit. Makoni has stood up for what
he believes in and I believe he is the only person who can bring change to
The MDC is not even prepared for the coming elections, although so many
people support it. It (MDC) has not given the people the motivation to
If only all who can challenge ZANU-PF could unite and work together to
rescue our country from these economic hardships.
ZANU-PF has forgotten about the people who voted it into power and is only
in power to benefit a few. ZANU-PF has failed to deliver on its election
promises and what more can it promise the people this time around?
So many are dying and suffering and the majority of the people do not feel
free in their own country. ZANU-PF has failed and should not blame the
British and the Americans. It is the policies and the blunders ZANU-PF has
made, which are to blame for the chaos the country is facing.
Government should level the political playing field for free and fair
elections, which is what the people want without fear, bribery or
Enough is enough, let’s stand up for what is right for the people.
Election outcome obvious, MDC should prepare to act
EDITOR — President Robert Mugabe has given notice that the elections will be
held at the end of March. The two factions of the MDC now have to decide
weather or not to contest these elections.
It will not make any difference either way because the outcome of the
elections has already been pre-determined by ZANU-PF. What both parties need
to focus on now is what happens after the elections.
It’s vital that the people are mobilised to respond to the pre-determined
outcome of the elections. If nothing happens, as was the case after the
elections in 2002, then President Mugabe and ZANU-PF will continue with
business as usual.
The MDC will become even more insignificant than it is now and Zimbabwe will
continue its downward spiral until it finally hits rock bottom.
There has been much debate about why the people of Zimbabwe have sat back
and not taken to the streets to vent their anger. The major reason this has
not happened yet is simply lack of direction and leadership.
Both MDC parties should start to put together a master plan that will
mobilise the people.
Expecting people to come to a pre-determined point has not worked and will
not work because the police, army and ZANU-PF thugs will ambush and close
the mobilisation down before it gets off the ground.
The mobilisation should take place in each high-density suburb. The people
then make their way into town in the early hours of the morning.
The people of Zimbabwe need to show President Mugabe, ZANU-PF and the rest
of the world that they have now had enough.
Lead the way, we’ll follow!
By Daniel Howden
Saturday, 16 February 2008
Biofuels are nothing new to Simeon Mayimel. He's been burning charcoal and
elephant dung for years. He had never expected that they would change his or
his people's way of life.
One of the elders in his village, Nangene, Mr Mayimel is the leader of a
community of two dozen or so families facing an uncertain future. They are
Shangaan people, whose way of life in the borderlands of Mozambique, South
Africa and Zimbabwe, based on crops and cattle, has altered little for
That is about to change. Nangene and seven other villages have been consumed
by the recently created Transfrontier Limpopo National Park, which straddles
the three countries, and the villagers along with more than a thousand other
families are to be resettled outside its borders. They have been promised
houses, electricity, running water and grazing at a new site.
But now the government has given a huge tract of the same land to a biofuels
company, Procana, and their putative home is set to become Mozambique's
largest sugar-cane plantation.
"They have told us there is room for both [villagers and plantations] but we
haven't seen it," Mr Mayimel complains. "All the time we are told we will be
moving next month. Then when next month comes we are told it will be next
The resettlement plan was only agreed after three years of fractious
negotiations and the intervention of a local human rights group, Oram, which
taught the villagers how to stand up to the authorities.
Issuto Tankar, who led Oram's fight, says that without support they would
have been driven off their land as others have been elsewhere in the
country. "They would have left by now without compensation. The people would
have lost everything."
The Limpopo park headquarters is only a few miles from Nangene but it
belongs to a different world. The park commissioner, Rodolfo Cumbane,
receives visitors in a polished boardroom with leather chairs. He admits
that the sudden arrival of the biodiesel revolution has delayed the
resettlement of the villagers but insists the promise of a better life will
be kept. "We are trying to improve the environment and create job
opportunities together with the resettlement," says Mr Cumbane. Then he
adds: "Work will start later this month, or next month."
Is there enough water for industrial agriculture, small-scale farming,
grazing, hydropower and irrigation? "Yes," he replies, before admitting that
rainfall varies sharply from year to year.
This week the streets of Chokwe and Maputo were transformed into
battlegrounds after the government dropped price controls and the cost of
bread soared. At least 11 people were killed with many more wounded.
Fears remain that there is more of this to come as the twofold effect of the
biofuel boom is felt: global agricultural commodity prices surge and local
food security is undermined by the switch from food to fuel. Places such as
Chokwe and Massingir will feel the worst of it.
In Maputo, Tanja Kleibl, from the Catholic development agency Cafod, which
funds Oram's work, says that Mozambique's economic miracle – hailed by the
president of the World Bank this week – could prove a dangerous illusion.
"It is all political," she says. "The government supports big agricultural
interests ... not small-scale farmers who are 80 per cent of the
population." There is already serious malnutrition in one province, she
adds, and recent floods show how quickly people become dependent on food
aid. "They are storing up conflict for the future."