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Biti, Gono War Escalates

Thursday, 19 February 2009 21:24
A FIERCE battle for control of the financial levers of government is
looming between new Finance minister Tendai Biti (pictured) and Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono amid indications the two fiscal and monetary
authorities are on a collision course.

The fight between Biti and Gono reflects the broader ongoing political
struggle for control between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai which might be played out in several other key government

Informed sources said Biti and Gono were already fighting a low
intensity war, just a week after they started working together.

The two have had clashes before, with Biti describing Gono as an
"Al-Qaeda"-like official deserving to be put before a firing squad for his
activities as central bank governor.

Sources said Tsvangirai and Biti were pushing for the removal of Gono.

"The Prime Minister and Finance minister want Gono out," a source

"They have not yet come out in the open and directly said they want
him gone since joining the new government but they are making concerted
efforts to push him out."

Tsvangirai and Biti have said the Gono issue was being handled by the
government leaders.

Biti told the Zimbabwe Independent this week the issue was under

"It's being negotiated, that's all I can say," Biti said.

Sources said Gono has been maintaining a low profile amidst the
gathering political storm. Mugabe is expected to come to Gono's defence.

A source said Gono yesterday, echoing Kipling, told a close advisor
that: "When everyone is losing their heads, you must keep calm."

In the meantime, Biti has been taking the fight to Gono.

This week alone, Biti took several policy measures which reversed what
Gono had been doing, creating a potentially volatile situation.

Biti changed or threw out Gono's initiatives on a number of fronts as
he manoeuvred his way to take charge. He has also said the central bank
needs reform.

"The Reserve Bank has totally discredited itself," he told Reuters
last weekend.

 "We must accept that the Reserve Bank is at the core of economic

First, Biti changed the voucher payment scheme for civil servants
which was initiated by Gono, without telling him. He said it was necessary
for him to "review and modify" the scheme.

"With immediate effect, all vouchers issued to civil servants as
payment of allowances will be redeemable into cash at designated banks,"
Biti announced on Wednesday.

"With effect from March, payment of allowances to civil servants will
be made directly into their respective foreign currency accounts and
therefore the voucher scheme will cease forthwith."

The sources said these changes prompted an immediate reaction by Gono
yesterday who wrote to Biti telling him that what he had done had the
potential of creating an "acute foreign currency crisis" and chaos in banks.

Government have a deal of US$1 billion dollars of outstanding
emergency payment.

They said Gono indicated that it would be difficult for government to
meet the payments because the fiscus was bankrupt and the Zimbabwe Revenue
Authority (Zimra) had not yet collected enough income.
Zimra appears to have so far collected at most US$2 million. At least
US$30 million is needed to pay a complement of 250 000 civil servants.

However, government had only secured US$5 million to pay the public
service in cash through the CBZ. The other outstanding US$25 million was
going to be paid as vouchers redeemable at specific companies and shops
selling basic commodities, pending the collection of enough revenue by

Biti threw out this scheme and introduced cash payments through banks.
It is not clear where he got the money from as he refused to reveal the
source. Gono, who is not privy to the new minister's source of the funds, is
said to be worried about the situation.

The new minister also directed banks to open foreign currency accounts
for civil servants, addressed the issue of pensions, the Zimbabwe Stock
Exchange (ZSE), alternative methods of payment, inflation data collection
and keeping of corporate accounting records.

Biti visited the ZSE Thursday as part of his mission to review
policies or reverse some of Gono's initiatives.
Besides, Biti this week set aside Gono's licensing system for traders
to sell in foreign currency, describing it as "unnecessary and costly".

The minister is also going to revise the budget and fiscal policy in
which Gono had a major input.

He has also said he will introduce reforms at the central bank in a
move which will see him changing Gono's administrative policies.

To further illustrate the undercurrent of hostility between the two,
Gono has been omitted from Tsvangirai's delegation that is going to South
Africa today to look for money to finance government operations and economic

Biti and Foreign minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi will be part of the

Efforts to get comment from Gono Thursday were unsuccessful.

His office said he was in a board meeting when contacted for comment
and indicated that in any case he had a "new approach" of "not commenting on
such issues".

Gono is said to have met Mugabe Thursday after his board meeting to
deal with the situation threatening to explode into a major crisis.

The sources said this week's developments showed a storm was brewing
in the corridors of power over Gono's future.

They said the issue could spill into cabinet meetings and further
divide the government.

Mugabe is expected to mount serious resistance to keep Gono.

This is seen as part of the tug-of-war between Mugabe and Tsvangirai
to control the inclusive government.


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Banditry Accused Granted Bail

Thursday, 19 February 2009 21:24
HIGH Court judge Yunus Omerjee on Thursday granted bail to four of the
seven Movement for Democratic Change activists who are accused of banditry,
insurgency and terrorism.

The judge granted bail to Zacharia Nkomo, Regis Mujeyi, Garutsa
Mapfumo and Chinoto Zulu on condition that the four report twice daily to
their respective nearest police stations.

They were ordered to pay $1 000 (revalued) to the clerk of court and
to reside at given addresses until the finalisation of the case.

They were also barred from applying for any travel documents and told
not to interfere with state witnesses and investigations.

However, the state has invoked Section 121 of the Criminal Procedure
and Evidence Act to oppose the bail which was granted to the four MDC

According to Section 121, the order to grant bail to the accused will
be suspended and the accused will remain in custody until the case is

The High Court ruled the other three, Kisimusi Dhlamini, Andrison
Manyere and Gandhi Mudzingwa, were not fit for bail.

The state represented by Florence Ziyambi argued the accused were
facing serious charges. She said if convicted they could be sentenced to
life in prison and were therefore likely to abscond if granted bail.

Ziyambi said Mudzingwa and others could not be granted bail because
the state was relying on evidence from Mudzingwa who is the former personal
assistant to the Prime Minister.

In his ruling on the bail application by Nkomo, Mujeyi, Mapfumo and
Zulu, Justice Omerjee said the state's case was not supported by any

"The state is relying on untraceable and unreliable witnesses and
furthermore two of the witnesses are state employees." said Omerjee.

Gandhi Mudzingwa and six others are accused of bombing police stations
in Harare last year.

This is despite the fact that Police Commissioner-General Augustine
Chihuri at the time said it was an inside job.

Chihuri was quoted in the press as saying: "We are convinced that as
an organisation we might not come out clean on the bombing issue."

Meanwhile police who allegedly tortured Gandhi Mudzingwa and six
others have denied the allegations.

According to the affidavits submitted to the court, the police said
when they interviewed the accused no one complained of harassment save for
Kisimusi Dhlamini who complained of general body illness.

Inspector Catherine Rukara said when she saw Dhlamini, he had no
visible injuries neither did he complain of any assault.

Meanwhile former Chimanimani legislator Roy Bennett's bail application
will be heard Friday.


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Minister to Reform Media

Thursday, 19 February 2009 21:21
NEWLY-APPOINTED Media, Information and Publicity deputy minister
Jameson Timba (MDC-T) has promised to restore media freedom in Zimbabwe with
the immediate return of closed publications and the freeing of airwaves.

"The Global Political Agreement (GPA) is unambiguous as to what should
happen to banned newspapers and radio stations as well as those who intend
to register new media houses," Timba said.

"Article 19 of the GPA directs that government facilitates the
immediate registration and processing of applications of media houses under
Aippa and the Broadcasting Services Act."

Newspapers closed include the Daily News, the Daily News on Sunday and
the Tribune for allegedly contravening various provisions of the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa).
He said the timeline given by the agreement with respect to the
processing of applications in both the electronic and print media was

"I want to implement just that," Timba said.

"Our work has been cut out for us in terms of Article 19 of the GPA
and the Prime Minster (Morgan Tsvangirai)'s vision statement as outlined at
his inauguration."

He said his ministry's mandate is to embark on a comprehensive media
reform that focuses on creating an open media environment.

Timba said media laws should be revised to promote democracy through
freedom of expression and the press.

"We must create an open and vibrant media industry that can
accommodate the hundreds of journalists being churned out by our
polytechnics and universities," he said.

Timba also promised to look into the issue of banned international
news organisations such as the BBC and CNN.


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Bloated Unity Government Huge Burden on Taxpayers

Thursday, 19 February 2009 21:14
THE swearing in of five ministers of state and 19 deputy ministers
yesterday by President Robert Mugabe has bloated the inclusive government
and will burden the country's economy.

The government now has 71 ministers, deputy ministers and governors.

There are now 41 ministers, 20 deputy ministers and 10 governors.

The cabinet was appointed at a time when the country is faced with
numerous problems, including collapsed health and educational sectors and a
cholera epidemic that has left nearly 3 700 people dead and about 79 000
infected by the waterborne disease.

Official vehicles, residences, staff and offices as well as the huge
wage bill to accommodate this arrangement will gobble up a large chunk of
scarce foreign currency that would have gone a long way in addressing some
of the problems afflicting the country.

Deputy ministers and ministers of state - who were not included in the
Global Political Agreement signed last September - were sworn in yesterday
by President Mugabe at State House.

The ministers of state are John Nkomo (Zanu PF), Sekai Holland (MDC-T)
and Gibson Sibanda (MDC), Minister of State in Vice-President Joseph Msika's
office Flora Buka and Minister of State in Vice-President Joice Mujuru's
office Sylvester Nguni.

The deputy ministers sworn in from Zanu PF were Douglas Mombeshora
(Health and Child Welfare), Tracy Mutinhiri (Labour and Social Welfare),
Lazarus Dokora (Education, Sport, Arts and Culture), and Samuel Undenge
(Economic Planning and Development).

Also from Zanu PF were Hubert Nyanhongo (Energy and Power
Development), Walter Chidhakwa (State Enterprises and Parastatals), Michael
Bimha (Industry and Commerce), Reuben Marumahoko (Regional Integration and
International Cooperation), Aguy Georgias (Public Works) and Andrew Langa
(Public Service).

Deputy ministers who took the oath of office from the MDC-T were Cecil
Zvidzai (Local Government, Urban and Rural Development), Tichaona Mudzingwa
(Transport and Infrastructural Development), Murisi Zwizwai (Mines and
Mining Development), Jameson Timba (Media, Information and Publicity),
Evelyn Masaiti (Women's Affairs, Gender and Community Development), Jessie
Majome (Justice and Legal Affairs), and Tamsanqa Manhlangu (Youth
Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment).

Roy Bennett, who was due to be sworn in as MDC-T Agriculture deputy
minister, did not turn up as he is in remand prison on terrorism charges.

MDC deputy ministers who took the oath of office are Lutho Tapela
(Higher and Tertiary education) and Moses Mzila Ndlovu (Foreign Affairs).

Giles Mutsekwa also took his oath of office as Home Affairs minister
having been out of the country when other ministers were sworn in last week.

The bloated government overturns the agreed allocation of ministers
and deputy ministers in the Global Political Agreement as the two main
parties feather their political nests.

It was supposed to be 15 ministers and eight deputy ministers for Zanu
PF, 13 ministers and six deputy ministers for the MDC-T formation and three
ministers and one deputy minister for MDC.

According to political analysts, the bloated government is a damning
indictment on the MDC-T formation, which based its 2008 elections campaign
on the promise of a trimmed cabinet.

The big government, the analysts added, was likely to be of concern to
the international community, making it more difficult for the government to
get crucial funding to help kickstart the economy.

Finance minister Tendai Biti would have the unenviable task of
revising the budget to accommodate the swollen cabinet.

Economist John Robertson yesterday said the size of government was
larger than cabinets in some European countries which were much bigger than

 "There are more ministers in this country than there are for bigger
countries like Britain, France and Germany."

Robertson said because of the huge size of the cabinet, the process to
make and implement decisions would be ponderous, as it would take a longer
period of time to reach consensus.

He said he was dismayed that at a time the government was expected to
have a smaller cabinet, there was an added burden on the taxpayer, derailing
efforts to turnaround the country's economy.


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Cash Crunch Hits Zimbabwe Diplomats

Thursday, 19 February 2009 21:11
ZIMBABWEAN diplomats long used to leading comfortable lifestyles in
foreign lands are currently living like paupers according to Ministry of
Foreign Affairs officials who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent.

The current economic collapse in Zimbabwe that has seen foreign
currency receipts disappear has meant that the government has not been able
to pay its diplomats and locally recruited staff on time. Zimbabwe has 38
diplomatic missions plus three consulates across the world, with the biggest
missions being New York and Geneva due to United Nations work.

Foreign currency applications lodged with the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
have not been adequately met, negatively affecting morale and the operations
of the embassies.

Ambassadors are paid between US$11 000 to US$13 000 a month depending
on political seniority.

In February the New York mission received US$100 000 when its arrears
and other monthly obligations totalled US$1 million.

Sources said Zimbabwe's diplomats and Foreign Affairs staff posted at
these missions had not been paid for the last five to seven months.

This meant that they have been unable to meet their obligations such
as paying for rented accommodation, heating, medication and school fees.

Locally recruited staff is owed salary arrears of between three and
five months including bonuses.

A diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity said "because of the
humanitarian situation at home we are no longer a priority".

Failure to pay rentals and to meet other basic necessities is reported
to have caused emotional stress for many diplomats.

A diplomat (name supplied) based in Vienna reportedly succumbed to
depression in February after an eviction notice.

She was buried in Harare in February after friends and relatives
chipped in to pay for transporting her body. Similar stories abound
including diplomats who are surviving on foreign currency sent by the
extended families back in Zimbabwe and some on handouts from friends.

Many are deep in debt after resorting to overdrafts for their everyday

Another European-based Zimbabwean diplomat said some officers had
resigned as a result of these terrible conditions because "people fear
having bad names back home and some still hold out for cushy jobs in
international organisations such at the UN."

In Sweden officers evicted from their homes after failing to pay rent
due to the non-payment of salaries are staying at the ambassador's

Sources said in Australia a senior officer was also staying at the

In India, Iran and Austria landlords for the chancelleries and
residences have approached their ministries of foreign affairs to lodge
complaints about the deviancy of Zimbabwean missions.

In certain countries where it is legal, spouses had resorted to
seeking employment to support their families. Sources said some desperate
diplomats had resorted to moonlighting to survive. Another diplomat who
refused to be identified said "under these difficulties we still have to
defend our country in international forums and in countries where we have
been posted".

All diplomats interviewed said they pinned their hopes for a change in
their fortunes on the Global Political Agreement that produced the
government of national unity which had its first cabinet meeting in Harare
this week.

The forthcoming tobacco selling season was another reason for hope as
improved sales would most likely result in certain disbursements made to
cover outstanding diplomatic obligations.

There has been pressure in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to reduce
the number of embassies as a survival strategy but this had been turned down
by President Robert Mugabe who sources said argued this would amount to a

However, other diplomats said that closing down embassies at this
juncture would be expensive given the huge outstanding arrears to staff,
rentals and other services. - Staff Writer.

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Zanu PF, MDC-T Haggle Over Governors

Thursday, 19 February 2009 21:06
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai are still
haggling over the allocation of provincial governors' posts as it emerged
that Zanu PF is now demanding half of the 10 positions.

Zanu PF and the two MDC formations had three weeks ago agreed on a
formula to allocate the posts under the inclusive government formed last

The three parties had agreed to allocate the posts using the outcome
of the March 29 parliamentary elections.

A party with more seats in any given province would allocate a
governor in that province and under this formula the MDC-T would have five
governors, Zanu PF four and the other MDC led by Arthur Mutambara one.

In addition, Zanu PF was entitled to appoint a minister of state.

Under this deal, the MDC-T would appoint governors in Harare,
Bulawayo, Matabeleland North, Masvingo and Manicaland while Mugabe will have
the three Mashonaland provinces and Midlands. The other MDC would appoint a
governor in Matabeleland South.

But sources this week said Zanu PF was now demanding five governors.

Mugabe, the sources said, wanted to appoint a governor in Manicaland
where Zanu PF lost dismally in the parliamentary polls.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara this week failed to reach an
agreement on the governors although the three parties agreed that resident
ministers should take office soon.

MDC spokesperson and also Minister of Information Technology in the
inclusive government, Nelson Chamisa, confirmed this week that the issue of
governors was still unresolved.

"The issue of governors is still to be resolved. The principals are
set to meet and discuss the allocations of all outstanding issues and the
issue of the governors is one of them," Chamisa said.

He however said the parties were agreed on the time frame the
outstanding issues should be resolved.
"The implementation has to be done immediately and that is what Sadc
said," Chamisa added.

Meanwhile, there is serious jostling for governors' positions within
the MDC-T.

Sources in the party said there was lobbying and canvassing by members
eyeing the seats although the MDC-T has reportedly shortlisted potential

Former party women's assembly chairperson Lucia Matibenga is
reportedly going to be the governor of Masvingo, Hwange East MP Tose Wesley
Sansole is earmarked for Matabeleland North, and Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions secretary general Wellington Chibebe would get Harare.

In Bulawayo, Nketa MP Seiso Moyo is tipped to be the new governor.

Chamisa could not be drawn into discussing the reportedly MDC-T
governors' list.


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Bhebhe Attacks MDC Leadership

Thursday, 19 February 2009 20:48
A LOT of questions are being asked about why MDC-T leader Morgan
Tsvangirai selected a candidate from a rival formation for a cabinet post,
and why he later changed his mind.

Zimbabwe Independent bureau chief, Loughty Dube (LD) this week
interviewed the candidate, Nkayi West Member of Parliament Abednico Bhebhe
(AB) of the MDC led by Arthur Mutambara. Excerpts below.

LD: Honourable Bhebhe, how do you feel after being dropped from the
MDC-T ministerial list at the last minute?

AB: I feel vindicated because there are Zimbabweans who have been
saying they don't trust the Mutambara faction arguing that it is not working
for democracy.

This decision shows that the Mutambara leadership is not democratic,
it is a leadership that lost elections and came back through the back door
on the strength of the 16 MPs who won elections on March 29 2008. I feel
great that they have been exposed for what they are through this incident.

LD: Was the MDC leadership consulted before your name was put up for
nomination as cabinet minister by the MDC-T faction?

AB: The party's leader was consulted on the matter.

Firstly Morgan Tsvangirai contacted me with the information and I
immediately called Mutambara who thanked me and said there was no problem.

He indicated that he would talk to Tsvangirai about the matter and he
(Mutambara) later told me that he had spoken to Tsvangirai.

LD: So in your own words there were consultations between the two MDC

AB: Absolutely and actually Mutambara came back to me and indicated
that they had agreed on a strategy they formulated with Tsvangirai where
they would send all the names of their cabinet choices to President Mugabe.

LD: Why was that supposed to be so?

AB: Mutambara said this was done so that if the party's management
committee raised the issue of my appointment it would be explained to them
that the decision was endorsed by all three principals.

LD: Why then do you think Mutambara changed his mind and accused
Tsvangirai of working against the spirit of the Global Political Agreement
when he nominated you for a cabinet post after he had initially agreed?

AB: After the announcement of the cabinet list by MDC-T, Mutambara
told me he was under pressure from three colleagues who wanted me dropped
from the list and he named the three as Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga,
Welshman Ncube and Fletcher Dulini Ncube.

Mutambara even expressed shock that some of the people complaining had
not spoken to him in the last seven months.

Mutambara said to me he was angry that Tsvangirai had breached their
agreement to let President Mugabe announce the combined cabinet list by
announcing his own cabinet list.

LD: When was this discussed and what was the outcome of the

AB: It was discussed on Wednesday afternoon and Mutambara later said
he would discuss my issue further with the three principals during their
meeting later in the day. However, on Thursday Tsvangirai called and
informed me that the appointment had been cancelled as Mutambara, with the
support of President Mugabe, said it was not proper for Tsvangirai to
appoint me.

I then called Mutambara on his mobile phone in the presence of
Tsvangirai to discuss the developments and he cut the phone on me.

I then drove to his house but he refused to open the door for me and
we spoke through a burglar bar door.

However, as I was trying to reason with him he ordered two uniformed
policemen who were guarding the house to throw me out and that was the
greatest insult for me.

If it was not for me and my 15 colleagues who won the 15 seats in
Matabeleland, Mutambara would not be (deputy) Prime Minister lest he forgets

The same applies to those that assisted to have me dropped; they would
not be ministers today.

LD: Your party says it was against the spirit of the GPA for
Tsvangirai to nominate you into his cabinet?

AB: That is totally untrue and a fallacy believed by those that have a
hidden agenda.

The GPA is a document built on the principles of an all-inclusive

This is not a one party government; it is an all-inclusive government.

So anyone, including people not belonging to any of the three
political parties, can be appointed into the government.

The GPA says there shall be 31 ministers with 15 nominated by Zanu PF,
13 nominated by MDC-T and three nominated by MDC.

It says nothing about those ministers coming from any party.

It says nominated by and not from.

So there is no spirit against the GPA to talk of.

LD: Were you prepared to accept the cabinet post as Minister of Water
Resources and Development if your party had approved your nomination?

AB: Definitely, I was prepared to accept the post because I was
listening to calls by people on the ground.

They are saying if it was not for the divisions we could have won the
elections as an opposition in March and that is the reason I gladly accepted
the offer.

LD: Your party had threatened to dismiss you if you accepted the
appointment by Tsvangirai.What are your comments?

AB: If you talk of MDC as a party, it has structures and a

Firstly before anyone fires me from the party they have to convince my
district, citing constitutional provisions which I breached and the process
has to be taken to the provincial level before it comes to the parliamentary

After that happens the national council has to assess the
recommendations from all these structures before a person can be fired from
the party.

For anyone to dream from his office that he can fire me is void unless
the party is a private company where a chief executive officer can fire
people just like that.

After all why am I being threatened with being fired by people who did
not get a mandate from people to represent them?

LD: What will happen to you if your party goes ahead and expels you?
Are you going to be an independent or you will join the MDC-T faction?

AB: The decision to expel me or not does not lie with individuals but
is an issue involving structures and it's bigger than individual talk.

Besides there is no reason I can be fired for joining an all-inclusive

It would mean that all those that joined the all-inclusive government
should step down.

It is not the first time that they have threatened to fire me from the

They have tried twice and twice they have failed.

LD: People are saying your nomination by Tsvangirai was to reward you
for backing MDC-T candidate Lovemore Moyo for the speakership against Paul
Themba Nyathi from your party. Any comment on that issue?

AB: People are allowed to dream.

First, as an individual I would not have made Lovemore Moyo to win.

I only cast one vote and those that suggest that I rallied other MPs
to vote for Lovemore Moyo are actually defaming the characters of the other
MPs and suggesting that they do not think for themselves.

Besides the allegations are just conspiracy theories as the vote in
parliament was through a secret ballot.

LD: Personally why do you think Tsvangirai nominated you into his

AB: There are two reasons I think Tsvangirai nominated me.

First, it is because of my consistency since the MDC was formed in
fighting for the democratisation of Zimbabwe.

I have always challenged undemocratic tendencies from whoever, which
is the reason MDC leaders want me fired because I will not accept anything

Second, I think he looked at the experience I have acquired in
parliament and in Zimbabwe at large on the governance issues.

I also feel Tsvangirai in appointing me was extending a hand of
reconciliation which we have been trying to bring to the feuding factions.
He was simply upholding the principle of the all-inclusive government.

He was demonstrating that as opposition we have an advantage if we
work together.

When a runoff was announced our party made a decision that we would
support the candidature of Tsvangirai and that decision has not been
rescinded and Tsvangirai in appointing me was reciprocating the kind gesture
from our party.

LD: You have been on a collision course with your party leadership for
a long time?

AB: Thank you for asking that question.

It all started in 2006 at congress when names of management committee
members were forwarded to provinces so that they would be endorsed at

I was one of the people who led the disapprovals since the practice
was undemocratic.

At the same congress my colleagues had forwarded my name to contest
the position of treasurer-general.

However, I was persuaded by Vice-President Gibson Sibanda, whom I
respect very much, to withdraw. I therefore humbly withdrew.

The names that were forwarded to the provinces were endorsed without a
vote at the congress and that process was undemocratic and I voiced my

I have always been threatened because I am vocal at National Council
meetings and twice there have been attempts to fire me.

LD: (Edwin) Mushoriwa (MDC spokesperson) on Monday this week claimed
you lied that Mutambara gave you the go-ahead to accept the MDC-T cabinet

What is your comment on that?

AB: Mushoriwa is just a mouthpiece of those that blocked me from
participating in a democratic all-inclusive government.

So he is bound to play the master's pipe. After all he is part of a
group rejected by the people on March 29 2008.

LD: So you spoke to Mutambara on the matter?

AB: Yes, I spoke to him and it would be unfortunate if he tries to
deny that.

LD: Finally, are you bitter at being denied a chance to take part in
the all-inclusive government?

AB: I am not bitter at all for the following reasons: first, whoever
thinks he is trying to fix me should forget it because this is an
encouraging development in my political life which gives me the zeal to work
harder to defeat the enemies of democracy.

Democracy is measured by winning elections and not being involved in
government through the backdoor.

I am also happy that the decision by Mutambara has made Zimbabweans
see what kind of leaders we have.

They are so blind with vindictiveness.

This is a party that won all its representation in parliament from
Matabeleland but has the audacity to block one of the Ndebele leaders to be
involved in the all-inclusive government.

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New ministers have their Work Cut out for them

Thursday, 19 February 2009 19:22
THE inclusive government formed last week faces a daunting task to
stabilise the economic situation, revive social services and generally
improve the living standards of the majority of people wallowing in poverty.

The Zimbabwe Independent looks at the challenges some ministries have
to surmount to bring about stability.


Finance minister Tendai Biti has a Herculean task to restore
confidence in the country's flagging economy.

His ministry's major task will be to reengage bilateral and
multilateral financiers like the African Development Bank, the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank (WB) to provide balance of payments
support and lines of credit to kick-start the comatose economy.

With arrears close to US$500 million owed to the IMF and the WB, Biti
and technocrats in his ministry have to convince the world of the country's

The ministry should come up with a robust repayment plan for what it
owes the international community.
The Finance ministry should restore confidence in the financial sector
that is currently in limbo after the introduction of multi-currencying.

Another immediate task for Biti is local resource mobilisation through
the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) which resumed trading yesterday.

Trading on the bourse was suspended last November amid allegations by
the Reserve Bank of insider deals, costing government billions of dollars in
lost revenue from taxes.

Stockbrokers said Thursday there were still issues to be sorted out
relating to multi-currency trading, revaluation of
Zimbabwe-dollar-denominated stocks and synchronisation of foreign currency

Biti and RBZ governor Gideon Gono also have to resolve their
differences over the financing of quasi-fiscal activities which have been
blamed for fuelling inflation.

The Finance ministry also has to come up with a revised national
Budget to finance new ministries created by the inclusive government and
channel more money to social services to protect the poor.

Biti has to raise funds to deal with the current humanitarian crisis -
the cholera outbreak and feeding over five million people facing starvation.

Economic Development

Declining performance in exports and foreign direct investments have
crippled the country's bartered economy in the past 10 years.

The economy has become import-driven to the detriment of local
industry. Elton Mangoma, the new Economic Development minister, like Biti,
has the task of convincing international investors and organisations to
invest their money in Zimbabwe if real economic development is to take

The shift to a market-based economy would be another challenge Mangoma
and his ministry face. For far too long, the government subsidised numerous
goods and services to the detriment of economic development.

But such policies are now unsustainable in an environment where
foreign currency is scarce.

Matching the country's competitiveness in the wake of regional trading
zones calls for pragmatic steps from Mangoma, a chartered accountant by

Foreign Affairs

Foreign Affairs minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi must lead a paradigm
shift in government's approach to foreign relations.

He has to formulate a new foreign policy aimed at cementing and
re-establishing relations in the region and the international community.

The last Zanu PF administration's policy was skewed in favour of Asia
and the Arab world.

The United States, Britain and its European Union allies were
perceived as enemies seeking to topple President Robert Mugabe.

The hardline foreign policy that treats everything "Western" with
suspicion could be a stumbling block to reengagement and ending the country's
near pariah status.

Mumbengegwi is not well-liked by foreign diplomats based in Harare
because of what is seen as crude posturing in line with ruling-party

His challenge is to adopt a middle-of-the-road policy that will see
Zimbabwe regaining its membership in multilateral organisations like the
Commonwealth and reengage the EU, the US and Britain, among others, and at
the same time uphold the country's territorial integrity.

Mugabe last week insisted that Zimbabwe has to be treated as an "equal
partner" with other nations.

The Foreign ministry should use its 38 missions and three consulates
across the world to improve the image of the country and sell it as a good
destination for tourism and investment.

But that has to be matched with improved governance at home.

Another major challenge for Mumbengegwi is to convince the US and the
West to lift sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe, which have for the past seven
years been an albatross on the economy. But he is not the best person to do

The Foreign minister would need the support of the entire government
and beyond to achieve this goal as outlined in the power-sharing deal signed
last September.

Information and Publicity

Like Mumbengegwi, Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu's
immediate challenge would be to improve the country's international image
and he can only do that by revoking the ban on international media
organisations and individual journalists who have been expelled over the

Shamu has to reopen newspapers closed by the Media and Information
Commission (MIC) such as the Daily News and The Tribune to show the world
that Zimbabwe is on the path to full democracy where media diversity is a

The MIC has to be reformed or better still junked while laws like the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act need to be repealed.

Aippa has done nothing to provide access to information.

Shamu's challenge is to initiate democratic media laws that guarantee
the safety of both media practitioners and consumers of news.

He must strive for equal access to the public media by all political
players, religious groups and civil society, among others.

The public media - ZBC and Zimpapers - should be accountable to the
people and not government as is the case today.


With the cholera outbreak that has so far killed over 3 700 people and
infected 73 000 since last August, critical shortages of drugs at government
health institutions, staff and equipment, new Health minister Henry
Madzorera's job will not be a stroll in the park.

The ministry's former head David Parirenyatwa lamented this week that
underfunding affected health delivery in the country and Madzorera should
fight hard to secure the necessary funding.

There is need for huge sums of foreign currency, currently in short
supply, to re-equip public hospitals and clinics, buy drugs and recruit and
retain health workers, some of whom left the country for greener pastures.

Increasing the provision of antiretroviral drugs for people living
with HIV and Aids, dealing effectively with tuberculosis and other
infectious diseases would be some of the pertinent issues Madzorera, a
Kwekwe-based physician, would have to quickly address.


The appointment of Joseph Made as Agriculture minister came as a
surprise to many given his dismal performance when he was in charge of that
portfolio between 2002 and surprise to many given his dismal performance
when he was in charge of that portfolio between 2002 and 2005.

Most Zimbabweans remember that Made, after a helicopter ride declared
that the country would have a bumper harvest.

The year turned out to be the worst on record.

The expectation however is that Made is now a changed man.

His greatest challenge is to ensure the revival of the agricultural
sector through the timely availability of inputs and that farmers are paid
well for their produce.

Dilapidated irrigation facilities should be rehabilitated and used to
boost agricultural productivity to guarantee the nation's food security.

Made's other challenge and that of Lands and Resettlement minister
Herbert Murerwa is to ensure property rights on farms are respected. New
farm invasions must be stopped.

Industry and Commerce

Minister of Industry and Commerce Welshman Ncube, like Biti, also has
a mammoth task to spur the revival of the economy.

Ncube's immediate task is to ensure the coming back into stream of the
manufacturing sector to enhance production.

This would translate into increased exports and foreign currency
inflows desperately needed to revive the economy.

Companies that were shutdown must be revived by business-friendly

According to a government recovery plan drawn up last year, the
inclusive administration would need US$900 million in the next 12 months to
boost depressed capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector to 80% from
the current level of 15%. Ncube, Mangoma and Biti must come up with policies
that attract investors to pour in sunstantial sums of hard currency to
revive the local industry.

State Enterprises and Parastatals

State enterprises and parastatals are key to the economic revival of
Zimbabwe and minister Joel Gabuzza has a plateful of challenges in reforming
the institutions.

Since Independence most parastatals and enterprises have been feeding
from the fiscus to the detriment of the economy.

These institutions have been making huge losses because most of them
were never run on business lines and used to charge sub-economic rate prices
for goods and services.

State enterprises like Zesa and Zinwa have failed to deliver a
continuous supply of electricity and water because of incompetence on the
part of their managers and for charging sub-economic rates.

Some institutions have been militarised over the years as Mugabe and
Zanu PF consolidated power and it's up to Gabuzza to undo that.

Gabuzza's challenge is to come up with a viable commercialisation and
privatisation policy for some of the parastatals and enterprises, but should
spare institutions such as Zesa and Zinwa, which cater for the majority of

Privatisation of water and electricity creates the risk of denying the
majority of Zimbabweans access to those services.

Local Government, Urban and Rural Development

"Housing for all" is such a tired cliche.

But this slogan has not lost its appeal amongst most in Zimbabwe.

After numerous years of unfulfilled promises, many have died whilst
still on the government housing waiting list awaiting affordable residential

High prices charged by private property developers have relegated many
urban dwellers to perpetual tenants rather than homeowners.

For the rural folk, good water and sanitation facilities continue to
elude them despite humanitarian assistance from donor agencies.

The continued spread of the cholera epidemic in the countryside is a
clear testimony of the dire need for water and reticulation services.

Ignatius Chombo should be cognisant of the task ahead.

The deplorable state of the urban and rural road network has become a
perennial problem. Like any other ministry, this ministry has had little
funding for its development projects against the background of sub-economic
tariffs charged by local authorities.

The minister should stop his trademark interference in the affairs of
local authorities, especially those run by the MDC, using legal and
extra-judicial means. There should be an end to the appointment of
commissions to run local authorities. They have achieved nothing except to
consume public funds.


Elias Mudzuri, the new Minister of Energy equally has an important
task in resuscitating local industry. For years commercial farmers have
blamed frequent power outages for the declining agricultural productivity
and down stream industries.

Refurbishing the five thermal power stations in the country and
minimising breakdown at Kariba should be the top priority for the ministry.

Moreso increasing power generation for domestic purposes is critical
for economic revival. In the longer term, Mudzuri should consider investment
in renewable energy sources to boost energy supplies.

The constant supply of fuel is another critical component Mudzuri has
to ensure. With world oil prices currently favourable, fuel supplies for
agriculture, manufacturing and mining sectors should be sufficient enough to
support production.


The Ministry of Education headed by David Coltart and the Ministry of
Higher education led by Stan Mudenge have somewhat similar challenges ahead
of them.

Prolonged job actions from staff demanding better remuneration is just
a microcosm of the total collapse of the country's education system.

The revision of tuition fees at tertiary schools is also a major
hurdle that Coltart and Mudenge will face amid outcries from parents and
students demanding a slash in the recently announced fees.

 Zimsec, the country's examination board currently dogged by
administrative constraints, requires urgent attention in restoring its lost
credibility and integrity. With dollarisation in place parents could be
forced to register with foreign examination boards.

Armed forces ministries

The armed forces include the army, airforce, police and the Central
Intelligence Organisation which fall under the ministries of Defence; Home
Affairs and National Security.

The armed forces have -- since the late 1990s -- been used by the
state as instruments of oppression. They have been deployed to contain
democratic change.

Serving and retired members of the armed forces have benefited
immensely from state patronage.

As a result most of them have openly and actively participated in
election campaigns in support of Mugabe and Zanu PF and also declared that
they will not support any electoral outcome that would result in the loss of
political power of Zanu PF.

The armed forces stand accused of fomenting pre and post-electoral
violence against opposition officials.
Given this scenario, the three ministries in charge of the armed
forces have a challenge to ensure that the forces should not continue to be
used to foster an undemocratic environment and to subvert electoral

The ministers in charge, Giles Mutsekwa and Kembo Mohadi (Home
Affairs), Emmerson Mnangagwa (Defence), and Sydney Sekeremayi (National
Security) have a crucial task to transform the armed forces into
professional bodies that do not participate in party politics and the
administration of electoral processes.

The armed forces should also be unequivocally committed to loyally
serving any government or president who is constitutionally elected by the

The Home Affairs ministry's major challenge is to improve the police's
image. The general public views the police force as a partisan body, which
dances to the tune of Zanu PF.

Mutsekwa and Mohadi should ensure that processing of important
documents for citizens such as birth certificates, national identity cards
and passports should be done within reasonable time and at affordable

Mnangagwa has to re-equip the army and improve conditions of services
and salaries for soldiers, some of whom went on the rampage last December
because of poor remuneration in Harare.

The Ministry of State for National Security should turn the CIO into
an outfit whose pre-occupation must be the enhancement of national

Forced disappearances and torture, which have been the hallmark of the
CIO since 1980, should be brought to an end.


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Mugabe Rewards Past Loyalties

Thursday, 19 February 2009 17:37
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe last week retained the oldguard in his
inclusive-government cabinet in what political analysts said is a sign that
the party has a leadership-renewal challenge.

The analysts said it was clear that there was a paucity of the younger
generation of political leaders in Zanu PF.

Mugabe appointed Emmerson Mnangagwa (Defence), Didymus Mutasa
(Presidential Affairs), Sydney Sekeramayi (National Security), Stan Mudenge
(Higher Education), Ignatius Chombo (Local Government), Kembo Mohadi (Home
Affairs), Nicholas Goche (Transport), Sithembiso Nyoni (SMEs), Joseph Made
(Agriculture), Simbarashe Mumbengegwi (Foreign Affairs), Francis Nhema
(Environment) and Patrick Chinamasa (Justice and Legal Affairs).

Others are Herbert Murerwa (Lands), Obert Mpofu (Mines), Webster Shamu
(Information) and Walter Mzembi (Tourism).

Ministers from Zanu PF joined their colleagues from the Morgan
Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara MDC formations in a 35-member cabinet that
took the oath of office last Friday.

Tsvangirai is the prime minister in the inclusive government with
Mutambara and Thokozani Khupe deputising him.

The appointment of ministers who were in the last cabinet dissolved in
February 2008, according to the analysts, is a serious indictment of Mugabe
who last August said it was the worst government he had ever had since
Independence in 1980.

"This cabinet that I had was the worst in history," Mugabe said last
August. "They look at themselves. They are unreliable."

Over the years, Mugabe has shuttled ministers like Mnangagwa, Mutasa,
Sekeramayi, Mudenge, Murerwa and Chombo from one ministry to another and
also into positions as governors and Speakers of parliament.

The same ministers have presided over a government that saw the
spiralling of inflation before partial dollarisation of the economy last
October, unemployment of over 90%, punitive interest rates, poor health and
education delivery systems and increasing poverty. ]

Alex Magaisa, a Zimbabwean lawyer based in the UK, said Mugabe's
appointment of the old guard reflected the state of political evolution in
Zanu PF, essentially that the fittest who have survived since Independence
"naturally maintain their position at the top of the food-chain".

He said Zanu PF lacked a younger generation that has taken charge of
the party.

"As such, those who have always been there remain in the positions of
authority," Magaisa pointed out. "You have to remember also that this is
about trust and loyalty.

For the first time in more than 20 years, Mugabe is getting into bed
with two new partners. Looking at it from his own perspective, he is better
off having trusted lieutenants by his side, as opposed to having a
completely new team of ministers whose loyalty may be less than 100%."

The analysts said Mugabe had gone along with the "old, trusted
comrades" because he trusts them to stand by him, come rain or shine.

University of Zimbabwe political science professor John Makumbe agreed
with Magaisa adding that if there was a leadership crisis in Zanu PF, it was
that as a party it has not allowed itself sufficient renewal to create a new
and visible generation of leaders.

"When you look round the party, there are very few, if any, visible
leaders from the younger generation," Makumbe said.

"He is probably unsure about the opportunism and voracious appetite of
the younger members of his party and for that reason he opted to go for
loyalty and trust which he finds among his comrades from his days in
Mozambique. They understand him and he understands them."

He said because of the unprecedented crisis in the country, Mugabe had
no choice but to turn for salvation to the "same tired" faces.

"All the people who are critical of Zanu PF must also take
responsibility for not participating in the party with a view to diluting
the influence of history on the future of the country," wrote
Zimbabwean-born South African businessman Mutumwa Mawere.

"The party's worldview has been shaped by the past and by framing the
current challenge as a colonially generated one it is not surprising that
the best defenders of the status quo have to be the very liberation heroes
that were instrumental in liberating the country.

The country may have 29 years of experience but in respect of dealing
with the colonial injury, the country has not moved."

He said the recycling of ministers had to be viewed in the context of
how Zanu PF had framed the current problems.

"It has refused to accept that part of the challenge may have emanated
from wrong or bad policies. It has accepted that sanctions are the real
cause of the crisis and, therefore, why change the team when the team is not
the problem?" Mawere said.

"The ministers have convinced Mugabe that they are not the problem but
have been victims of a white conspiracy."

Analysts said Zimbabwe's politics were not based on national interests
and, therefore, appointments to cabinet were also not based on the same

They said the old guard in Zanu PF has over the years outflanked the
younger generation by hook and by crook.

"The cost and benefits of political engagement within Zanu PF are well
known and when daily you see the costs in terms of political harassment and
victimisation, no one will be inspired to be involved," an analyst who asked
for anonymity said.

The analyst also argued that Mugabe might have recycled the ministers
because of their experience in cabinet so as to maintain balance.

"Mugabe believes in the old adage that experience is the best teacher.
He wants to maintain balance in the cabinet by retaining experienced
ministers to work with those from the MDC who are not knowledgeable in how a
government is run," the analyst added.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) expressed concern over
Mugabe's decision to appoint the old guard after Mugabe accused the same
ministers of inefficiency and greediness.

"The question which now begs an answer is this: why did he allow this
worst cabinet in the history of Zimbabwe to continue ruining the country by
re-appointing them?" asked ZCTU secretary-general Wellington Chibebe.


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Hold Your plans, GNU Tells Industry

Thursday, 19 February 2009 21:02
ZIMBABWE'S new government is having to take emergency action in every
state sector to counter years of collapse, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
told business leaders Thursday.

"We are in an emergency situation," Tsvangirai told business leaders.

"This is fire fighting we are doing. We are talking of emergency
interventions in various sectors," said Tsvangirai.

Outlining massive skills flight in government departments, Tsvangirai
said he had already been told horror stories by cabinet members.

"The ministers have just been in office for two days," Tsvangirai

"Some of them are telling me horror stories about the state of their

"The Ministry of Public Works is supposed to have 60 engineers but
they only have two. The Ministry of Mines has 96 posts but they only have 20
people including those who make tea," he said.

"How do you effectively discharge your mandate with such limited

Tsvangirai vowed to act on fresh farm invasions and corruption to
promote investment to the country's tanked economy.

"Corruption will not be tolerated and those that practise and promote
corruption will be actively sought out and prosecuted by this government,"
he said.

"We are concerned at the upsurge of illegal occupation of farmland,"
he added.

"We are dealing with that".

Speaking at the same occasion, deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara
advised industry and commerce to shelve business plans they made based on
the national budget and monetary policy measures announced in January and
this month, saying the new government was reviewing the two policies.

Mutambara said the new government would push towards freeing the
country's bartered economy from existing government controls.

These remarks came after then acting Finance Minister Patrick
Chinamasa presented a budget in January that was followed by the monetary
policy statement issued by Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono, early this

"Putting it simply, don't base your plans on what Chinamasa or Gono
said," warned Mutambara.

"They (national budget and monetary policy) will be reviewed.

There will be fundamental reviews on those two documents. Just give us

Chinamasa proposed a US$1,9 billion budget that sought to free the
economy but fell short the expectations of the private sector.

In his policy statement Gono said traders using foreign currency would
continue to pay license fees, a measure that has since been removed by new
Finance minister, Tendai Biti.

Tsvangirai criticised existing policies set by the Zanu PF-led
government for the sharp decline in productivity.
"All export sectors," Tsvangirai said, "have been negatively impacted
by policies pursued in the past that gave birth to rampant black market
activities, transferring value to fly by night businesspeople.Controls have
not worked anywhere and they will not work here."

He said the business community has crucial role to play in the
stabilization of the economy.

"Prices of goods and services available in Zimbabwe are often
significantly more than double those of South Africa," Tsvangirai said.

"Therefore, in light of the ongoing stimulus and stabilisation
activities, I ask you to also revaluate your business models to match our
efforts. This is also in your best interest as part of our stabilisation and
stimulation measures, we will encourage competition through allowing
industry to price its goods in the most cost effective and price competitive
and responsible way," he said.

Tsvangirai said the government had engaged South Africa with a view to
use the Rand as the standard currency in Zimbabwe.

"I don't want to pre-empt this, but we are really engaging the South
Africans to make sure we can discuss (using the Rand) to provide relief," he

"Our kith and kin in the Diaspora should be the first point of call as
we spread our influence abroad. They should be the conduit through which we
increase our exports and channels which we raise international finance."

Speaking in the wake of an offer by the British government to resettle
senior citizens struggling in its former colony, Tsvangirai said Zimbabwe's
tattered international reputation needed to be mended.
"We have to rebrand the country," Tsvangirai said.

"We have been seriously damaged. We want to see people coming rather
than being evacuated from Zimbabwe." - Staff Writers/AFP.

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No Share Trading as ZSE Reopens

Thursday, 19 February 2009 20:40
AFTER three months of inaction, the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange resumed
trade yesterday with only Apex Corporation trading after all the other
counters found no takers.

There was a big spread between buyers and sellers. Buyers offered
prices  "way below"  what sellers were asking for.

Most buyers were between one and five cents while sellers were between
25 cents and 45 cents.

Interfin, the only active counter, bought 3 026 Apex shares at 1 US
cent during yesterday's trade.

A total of 35 counters were offering prices ranging between one and 20

The best five offers yesterday were Lafarge US$1,30, KMAL and BAT
US$1,20 and RioZim and TA Holdings which were offering US$1,00.

Trading was brought to a halt on the ZSE on November 20 after Reserve
Bank governor Gideon Gono read the riot act to banks that were using
fraudulent cheques to artificially inflate share prices.

The halt was further extended after the country's Securities
Commission ordered stockbrokers to submit audited financial reports of their
net worth by the end of December 2008.

The commission warned broking firms that they would be closed if they
failed to meet the deadline.
ZSE chairman Seti Shumba yesterday said they discussed about tariffs,
fungibility and asset management companies at their meeting with the
Minister of Finance on Wednesday.

"For purchases a brokerage fee of 2% was agreed, although we wanted 1%
but he (Tendai Biti) wanted 2% to boost value at tax," said Shumba.

Stamp duty was agreed at 0,5% while Value Added Tax would be 15% of
brokerage fee.

"If the Minister of Finance wanted more revenue, it would have been
more efficient to raise the stamp duty to over 0,65% and reduce the
brokerage to 1%," Shumba said.

For sellers, 2% would be charged for brokerage, while 15% would be
paid for value added tax.

Shumba said fungibility was restored for all dual listed counters and
a letter to that effect was on its way to the Reserve Bank.

"We suggested that asset managers be brought under the Securities
Exchange Commission so we can share the burden with them in funding them and
be in line with international practice. A letter is also on its way to the
Reserve Bank announcing the change," said Shumba.

Trade on the bourse is now supposed to be backed by a letter of
confirmation from a bank chief executive officer.

Although Biti and the Securities Exchange Commission agreed to resume
trade remained unresolved.
ZSE also took a long time to resume trade because it said they were
investigating acts of insider trading which had caused some counters to
inflate, depress or cause fluctuation of shares.

In a statement to the Reserve Bank and Ministry of Finance signed by
Munyukwi and chairman Seti Shumba, the local bourse said it was
investigating all reported cases as it was a serious offence.

"The ZSE committee has also observed with concern that there are some
relatively large institutions which have capacity and strategic
macroeconomic information which is used to inflate, depress or cause
fluctuations in the prices of securities in breach of the Securities Act
(Chapter 24:25) Section 96 (2)," said ZSE.

"This is considered a very serious offence and will be subjected to
investigation in order to determine complicity under the securities Act,"
the stock exchange said.

The ZSE committee said it had not yet ruled on the issue of defaulting
members that were revealed by the Reserve Bank last year.

"It (activity on the stock market) was simultaneously escalated to the
public domain as the report was being brought to the attention of the
committee," the ZSE said.

The ZSE said the procedure as prescribed in Rule 11.01 for bringing
this issue, as well as other complaints about members, has not been varied
or waived.

"The ZSE committee has a primary duty to appraise the discovered
evidence and then set out to prove the breach. The committee must then
follow procedures as laid down in rules 11.01-11.12," said the ZSE.

The stock exchange committee said it would consider the question of
final re-admission of any defaulter in two different classes according to
rule 11.12 namely:

(i) Cases of failure arising from default of clients or from other
circumstances where no bad faith or breach of the rules and usage of the
exchange has been practised.

(ii) Cases marked by indiscretion and by failure to exercise
reasonable caution on the part of the defaulter.
"The ZSE Committee will examine any such evidence provided in
investigating the matter through normal channels," the ZSE said.

The stock exchange committee also said it will call for all
participants to be subjected to interviews regarding the circumstances of
the alleged breach and weigh the evidence to establish the underlying
motives for suspicious conduct and behaviour by the members as innocent,
negligent or fraudulent.

"The quality of the evidence must be such that it is admissible in
open court so as to provide a successful prosecution and ultimate conviction
if the need arises," the ZSE said.

The committee said it shall ensure that the rules of natural justice
are applied and observed by taking all reasonable steps to ensure that every
person whose interests are likely to be affected by the exercise of the
functions is given adequate opportunity to make representations in pursuit
of fairness.

Commenting on purchasing and settlement risk, the ZSE said a precedent
was observed in the current difficulties in which bank cheques were

"This put the entire market at risk as there was no longer any
guarantee, even by the designated authorities in the bank that their own
paper and what they have signed for can be rendered disabled.
Therefore no other paper will be acceptable to stockbrokers for the
purchase of shares," said the ZSE.


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The curse of Friday the 13th

Thursday, 19 February 2009 19:16
FOR the superstitious, swearing in the Cabinet for the inclusive
government on Friday the 13th was a bad idea.

The day is associated with bad luck and as such, nothing good is
expected to happen on that date. This particular one was no exception.

An event which was supposed to boost public confidence in the new
administration was marred by reports of more than the agreed number of
people turning up for the ceremony and the arrest of Roy Bennett.

Thank goodness a government was still sworn-in albeit against the
backdrop of mixed reactions within and outside the country.

Evidently, the would-be donors and investors in the West remain

They want to see the government work first before resuming aid.

This reflects a change in approach to their earlier calls for a
properly elected administration to be in place as a precondition for
assisting the country.

The country's leadership now has to get all things right in order to
win back lost confidence.

The African Union and Sadc hailed the formation of a government as
representing the success of African diplomacy.

For once, an African problem has been solved within the continent.

In other African countries the conflict could have easily degenerated
into a civil war.

To many Zimbabweans, as evidenced by the thousands who thronged Glamis
Stadium to listen to the Prime Minister's inaugural speech, reports of
celebrations across the country after the deal was sealed and the unanimous
support of an amendment to the constitution by the usually polarised members
of the two houses of parliament, the negotiated settlement offers a rare
chance to change things for the better.

Clearly, a negotiated settlement is not the most ideal but rather a
practicable route to addressing the economic descent the country has
suffered noticeably over the past decade.

The country thus has a lot of catching up to do. While it was digging
deeper into economic oblivion, its peers in the region have been
experiencing impressive economic growth.

Most of them benefited from the recent boom in commodity prices as
well as aid from rich countries.

Angola and Mozambique, for instance, came out of civil wars in the
late 90s and saw their economies recovering extremely fast.

Whereas Angola benefited from rising oil prices before the recent
slump, Mozambique was a beneficiary of debt cancellations and foreign aid
after displaying willingness to pursue good governance.

During the same period, the Zimbabwean economy slumped from being
second to South Africa in the Sadc region. In 1997, when recent problems
began to manifest themselves, the country's GDP had reached US$9 billion,
trailing behind South Africa at US$148,8 billion.

According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) statistics, in 1997
Angola was sitting at US$7,7 billion with Botswana, Mozambique and Zambia
having GDP figures of US$5,2 billion, US$3,8 billion and US$3,9 billion, in
that order.

Foreign interest in the country was still high with the Zimbabwe Stock
Exchange registering positive net foreign inflows.

In 1997, for example, net foreign inflows to the Zimbabwe Stock
Exchange amounted to about US$36,5 million for the year.

At that time the market was capitalised to the tune of US$3,5 billion.

In preceding years the net share purchases by foreigners on the stock
market had been encouraging averaging about US$40 million per year since

At this rate, the country seemed destined to continue expanding its
economy with a financial system then considered to be amongst the most
progressive ones in the region.

The announcement of the proposed land acquisition plan and war
veterans' payouts in August of 1997 is thought to have led to the fall of
the Zimbabwe dollar in November, on what is now known as Black Friday.

Thereafter the economy went into freefall with numerous other negative
events leading to a flight of foreign capital.

For instance, in 1998 only US$960 000 was recorded as net foreign
inflow into the ZSE. In the subsequent two years the stock market
experienced net selling by foreign investors with US$11,4 million and
US$24,7 million going out of the country in 1999 and 2000 respectively.

The exodus of foreign capital intensified after the farm occupations
in 2000 leading to the closure of a number of companies.

Since then, foreign inflows into the region have largely bypassed

The economy has also shrunk significantly with the Centre for Global
Development observing that the purchasing power of an average Zimbabwean in
2005 had fallen back to 1953 levels.

With most people in Zimbabwe worse off today than they were in 2005,
in real terms, the country must have gone back to levels obtaining in the
early 1900s.

The country's regional neighbours have, by contrast, seen tremendous
growths in their economies.
The GDP of Angola, for example, is estimated at US$96 billion in 2008
thanks to the petrodollars.

Botswana projects a GDP of US$13,8 billion during the same period
while Mozambique and Zambia expect about US$9,8 billion and US$15,2 billion.

Authorities in Zimbabwe project a GDP of US$5,5 billion but the latest
IMF statistics put it at only US$600 million in 2007.

In embracing the inclusive government, whatever its glaring
shortcomings, many in the country hope it may at least stop the decline, or
better still reverse the trend.

It deserves to be given a chance, albeit with a pinch of salt, after
all there is no known civil alternative on the table.


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Dollarisation Assures Insurance Sector

Thursday, 19 February 2009 19:09
WHILE the dollarisation of the economy is a challenge to the country's
financial sector, it has breathed life into the insurance industry whose
clients' policies had become valueless in real terms.

Insurance Council of Zimbabwe vice president and Fidelity Life
Assurance managing director, Simon Chapereka, told businessdigest this week
that permission to trade in foreign currency will revitalise the troubled
sector whose operations were being affected by hyperinflation.

"We believe that the liberalisation of the economy has breathed life
into the sector and we will be able to offer value for our products,"
Chapereka said.

Insurance companies are bleeding from hyperinflation and none-trade of
the stock market.

At least 40% of insurance companies' investment portfolio is held in
equities, 50% in properties and the balance in money markets and government

Investing in government bonds was equivalent to financial suicide
because of the rate at which the dollar was losing value against major
trading currencies.

The non-trade of the stock market for nearly three months had also
affected the movement of insurance companies' investments, while the money
market was offering returns below the inflation rate.
The stock market however resumed trade Thursday.

"The economic meltdown had rendered the value of our client's
insurance policies virtually worthless. This resulted in the downsizing of
the sector coupled with severe loss of jobs in order to stay afloat," he

Chapereka said Fidelity Life, like other insurance companies, had to
diversify operations to remain viable. This included investment in property
and spreading operations into regional countries such as Zambia, Malawi and

"In adjusting to the environment, we had to massively downsize
operations. We reduced our Fidelity Life branches from 16 to just one, and
of the 300 employees we had we are left with just 51," he said.

Chapereka said that although they were looking forward to resume
operations with the reopening of branches, it would be a gradual process.

"Efforts are underway to restore the value of our clients' policies in
the foreign currency unit to instil confidence in the market and encourage
injection of new business," Chapereka said.

He said payment of salaries in foreign currency would play a vital
role in the revival of the insurance sector.


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Property: Dollarisation - Another Blow for Banking Sector

Thursday, 19 February 2009 17:49
CENTRAL African Building Society (CABS) has become the latest victim
of the official dollarisation of the economy which brought back to the
spotlight the soundness of banks and their role in the long drawn out
economic crisis.

The country's biggest building society and mortgage lender last week
closed 37 branches around the country.

The 37 branches are 22 from Mashonaland, four from Matabeleland, five
in Midlands and six from Manicaland.

CABS head of retail banking Mike Finnigan said the closure of the
branches was due to the unfavourable economic environment.

"We will still be operating a contact centre at our head office for
any queries you may have," Finnigan said.

The closure of the 37 branches could slow down property developments
due to delays in mortgage processing as the country's economy is poised for
a  turnaround.

"We hope that in the future we will be able to return to normal
business of providing you with full banking services," Finnigan said.

There has been a halt in the construction industry owing to the cash
squeeze that has hit companies and individuals alike. Building societies at
one time had frozen granting mortgage loans.

FBC Building Society and Beverley have started to offer mortgage
financing on a limited basis.

The economic slowdown and the shortage of foreign currency have
impacted on the construction of high-rise buildings and residential

The country's macro-economic conditions have had a negative bearing on
the soundness of banks faced with contraction in the economy and the
challenges of unrealistic exchange rates and interest rates.

Presenting his monetary policy statement of the year on February 2,
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono said with the use of multiple currencies,
banks should come up with strategies that will ensure that they will not be
affected by any liquidity crisis to avoid curatorship.

"It is now time for the (banking) industry to develop aggressive
marketing strategies, incentives and products that promote banking in
foreign currency, especially by individuals," said Gono.

Gono hinted that a liquidity crisis was inevitable if proper banking
practices were not adhered to as was the case in 2003/4.

A liquidity crisis occurs whenever a firm is unable to pay its bills
on time or lacks sufficient cash to expand inventory and production or
violates some terms of an agreement by letting some of its financial ratios
exceed limits.

A liquidity crunch in Zimbabwean banks reflects a multi-dimensional
problem. A volatile economy creates moral hazards with strong speculative

Overregulation had also resulted in an unprecedented increase in black
market activities.

Bad banking practices, weak regulation, ineffective supervision by the
agencies and the market also induces excessive risk-taking by banks such as
the increased participation on highly illiquid markets such as the property
or stock market in an attempt to avoid inflationary pressures.

Gono said all restrictions on foreign currency cash withdrawals had
been removed.

"Banks are therefore, required to implement complementary measures to
ensure that cash is readily available to the transacting public. In this
respect banks shall continue to be allowed to import foreign currency cash
from their Nostro Accounts," Gono said.

A well-developed and sound financial system can contribute
significantly to economic growth because of the important role that
financial intermediaries play in bridging the disequilibrium between savings
and investment needs within an economy.

The importance of banks to the stability of the financial system is
also highlighted in their broader public role in the payment systems and in
being the main depository for the economy's savings.

To ensure the viability of the banking sector, authorised dealers can
now levy their bank charges for foreign currency accounts and related
transactions in foreign currency, export for non-foreign exchange earnings
entities, individuals and other special cases.

Banks were further encouraged to apply prudent lending practices when
lending to individuals to finance their current account transactions.

"Such lending shall attract an interest rate of not more than London
Inter-Bank Offer Rate (LIBOR) + (1-6) % depending on customers risk
assessment profiles," Gono said.

LIBOR is the interest rate that the banks charge each other for loans
(usually in eurodollars).

Gono said banks should ensure that most of their loan advances were
biased towards the productive sector to reinvigorate the supply side of the

In order to give the banking sector robust incomes streams,
particularly in light of the shift of the bulk of their expenditure
overheads into foreign exchange, the Reserve Bank said it was encouraging
banks to deepen issuance of foreign exchange loans in support of productive

"Under this framework, the country will have a two-tier money market
system, comprising local currency lending, which will be at
inflation-consistent interest rates and foreign exchange lending which will
be at interest rates that take into account the banks' risk assessments, as
well as the cost of capital international financial markets," said Gono.

All banks providing foreign exchange loans will present the Reserve
Bank their general term sheets across difficult risk categories for
assessment of reasonableness and approval.

"This oversight process is meant to ensure that borrowers are
protected from predatory interest charges," Gono said.


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Unity Govt Poses Serious Threat to Vested Interests

Thursday, 19 February 2009 15:24
ZIMBABWE'S unity government has started on a bad note, confirming what
those sceptical of this deal feel and indeed the fears of Western countries
that maybe Zanu PF is not ready or, rather, beyond change.
The arrest of senior MDC official Roy Bennett hours before he was due
to be sworn into office indicates the lack of sincerity on the part of Zanu
PF and the security forces the party controls.

The arrests go against President Robert Mugabe's pledge that he is
committed to the deal and is sincere in his dealings.

As the leader of Zanu PF and indeed the security forces in Zimbabwe,
the arrest of Bennett cannot be said to be the slightest of sincere actions.

This arrest and the intransigence still being shown with regards to
the continued detention of political prisoners indicate that, to some
degree, President Mugabe is losing control of his structures, especially the
security agents.

I say so because the unity deal presents the only and last chance to
redeem whatever is left of his legacy and present him with probably, his
last opportunity for a dignified exit.

It is becoming obvious, however, that many others, especially the high
echelons of the security forces now used to running Zimbabwe from the
barracks, would not want to cede power and return to their normal and
acceptable constitutional duties.

President Mugabe's tolerance of human rights abuses as a political
weapon are now haunting and already undermining the unity government so
early in the day.

Violence and repression is what this clique in the security forces is
used to and know better.

They seem not to know any other role for themselves in a stable

The root cause of the insolence by security forces and their disregard
for the wishes of the majority of citizens can be traced to the wide berth
granted by President Mugabe for them to literally do as they please, as long
as such actions maintained the rule of Zanu PF and the flow of privileges to
the detriment of national stability and development.

It is the same clique in the CIO, the army and police that fears
losing these privileges they think are guaranteed as long as President
Mugabe is in power and Zimbabwe remains without workable systems.

A democratic, stable and prosperous Zimbabwe is a threat to the
interests of this clique as a free and democratic Somalia is a threat to the
warlords ravaging that poor country.

They would rather maintain their policy of raping Zimbabwe while
holding a gun to citizens.

Apart from this clique of security agents, there are still many in the
high echelons of government who are not happy with this deal.

These include the likes on Nathaniel Manheru, a well-known senior
official whose career has been to defend the undemocratic actions and
policies of the Zanu PF government.

Manheru cannot point to anything that he has positively contributed to
Zimbabwe apart from a scorched earth policy on the media.

These senior officials are so used to this way of doing business that
they cannot see themselves rebuilding what they have destroyed.

They cannot see themselves being burdened with the real stuff of
nation building and governance.

To them this unity government is a threat that has to be destroyed.

What they don't know, and what they need to be told is that this unity
government is equally their only chance of saving themselves and
rehabilitating their tainted lives by at least dropping the violence and
undemocratic policies they prop up daily.

This same clique cannot see itself surviving as ordinary Zimbabweans;
they believe they are the royalty of this country, born to be sustained by
the sweat of poor Zimbabweans even to the point of death while not putting a
dime back into society.

It is this clique that should be encouraged to drop its sanctions on
the people of Zimbabwe.

The world has noticed how for two weeks now, Zanu PF and the state
media have increased their call for the lifting of Western sanctions.

The basis of these calls is that Zimbabwe now has a unity government
hence the need for the West to lift sanctions.

To them the evidence of the unity government is the paper that this
document is written on and the signatures of the MDC leaders.

These calls should be dismissed with the contempt they deserve until
Zanu PF and its leadership lift, first, sanctions they have imposed on the
citizens of Zimbabwe.

Zanu PF should show sincerity by releasing political prisoners
languishing in detention, some dying from torture-induced illnesses.

Zanu PF should lift sanctions it imposed on The Daily News, The
Tribune and other newspapers and drop threats on exiled media workers and
political activists, many who fear returning to Zimbabwe seeing what is
happening to Bennett, Jestina Mukoko and others.

The Western demands on Zanu PF and the unity government are therefore
spot on. Zanu PF cannot take the world for fools and it cannot have its cake
and eat it too.

The ball is in the court of Zanu PF.

The reasons the sanctions were imposed are clear and in black and
white. Conditions for their removal include the release of political
prisoners and the removal of undemocratic laws.

We wonder what is so difficult about this for Zanu PF, if as President
Mugabe says, he is sincere about this unity deal. Zanu PF therefore has to
act first, and President Mugabe must put the security agents on a leash and
take charge of his party.

The rule of law has to be seen to be done, and not merely said to be

The people of Zimbabwe need to see the unity government in physical
terms and not words of senior Zanu PF and regional leaders.

Until this is done, Zanu PF is in fact lying to the world. The party
is talking peace while preparing for war.

lRashweat Mukundu is a programme specialist for Media Freedom
Monitoring, Misa regional secretariat, Windhoek.


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Ten Point Agenda for Inclusive Government

Thursday, 19 February 2009 15:15
FEBRUARY 11 2009 enters the annals of Zimbabwean history as a historic
day in many respects. Apart from marking the final consummation of the
Global Political Agreement and the swearing in of the prime minister and
deputy prime ministers, the day marked the break from a violent past to a
future of hope for all Zimbabweans.

Zimbabweans across the political divide now expect delivery.

Yet, there are no quick fixes to the economic challenges that the
inclusive government has to confront.

There is no time for rhetoric or sloganeering.

Cabinet ministers and all government officials, including civil
servants, must leave their party caps at the doors and hit the ground

To use Lenin's rhetorical question, "I ask: What is to be done?"

In the first 100 days, urgent priority should be given to the building
of trust and confidence.

The inclusive government must have unity of purpose and roll out an
irreversible governance and democratisation agenda whose main tenets include
the restoration of the rule of law and human rights in all its dimensions
and the redress of all democratic deficits.

Linked to this, all repressive pieces of legislation such as Posa,
Aippa, the Broadcasting Services Act, Criminal Law (Codification and Reform)
Act, to mention just a few,  must be overhauled so that they are in sync
with a democratic dispensation.

The democratisation agenda is fundamental. It will give signals to the
international community about the functionality of the inclusive government
and help unlock the much-needed resources for the economic stabilisation

Second, we need to kick-start the making of a new people-driven
constitution without any prevarication. Zimbabwe is in need of a home grown

It is an ideal which has been elusive in the past because of process
issues. We hope the inclusive government will do it properly and in a manner
which resonates with the wishes of all stakeholders, including civil

Third, the humanitarian crisis is an urgent matter. My own
conservative estimate is that we need at least US$100 million every month to
pay teachers' salaries, buy books and equip the schools. Primary education
must be universal and totally free.

In the next two months the health sector requires US$300 million to
revamp and recapitalise all health institutions which are in an advanced
state of dilapidation.

Zimbabwe needs at least US$500 million to import wheat, maize, animal
feeds and other cereals in the next six months.

Herein lies the issue of resource scarcity and opportunity cost.

Zimbabwe's  foreign and domestic debts are hovering around US$8
billion, thanks to inflation which knocked down the domestic debt

The question is -- can we afford to retire our debts when Zimbabweans
are starving and dying from cholera?

The answer is that we need a debt forgiveness conference which
involves the Fishmongers Group and multilateral bodies in order to discuss
debt rescheduling, debt forgiveness, debt equity swaps and above all debt

This does not mean we are repudiating our obligations. Far from it; we
are merely bargaining for more time while we commit resources to more urgent
and pressing humanitarian issues.

Fourth, economic stabilisation is one of the first priorities of the
inclusive government.

The goal of economic stabilisation is to stop the economic bleeding
and thereafter pursue the objective of price stability and stimulate growth.

But price stability assumes there is a domestic currency which needs
to be debased.

The reality is that dollarisation or multiple currencies, are here to
stay for as long as we have not addressed the supply side of our economy.

Local industry has to be resuscitated by increasing capacity
utilisation from the present level of 25-35% to 65% and above.

Our export levels are down -- a mere US$1,4 billion to date compared
to US$2,8 billion in 1999.

The Ministers of Finance and Industry are seized with this matter.

They need to work out a battery of incentives and measures to
stimulate domestic output and increase exports.
In the meantime, the Reserve Bank should go back to its core business
of exchange rate management, revaluing the local currency, building foreign
reserves, open market operations, debt management and financial sector

I am pleased that central bank Governor Gideon Gono alluded to his
intention to halt all quasi-fiscal operations in his recent monetary policy

These quasi-fiscal operations had become inevitable due to the
dwindling state revenues in the face of economic meltdown on the back of
hyperinflation, the drying up of foreign direct investment and overseas
development assistance and non-availability of balance of payments support.

Government ended up resorting to the RBZ for funding of virtually all
government business. Indeed ministers rivalled each other with funding
requests to the governor.

We can only hope this is gone and we open a new chapter which will see
the RBZ becoming not necessarily independent but at least autonomous.

Otherwise the major challenge for the RBZ is how to gradually restore
the domestic currency to convertible status over the medium to long term.

In the meantime, as a matter of principle, all workers in the private
and public sectors must be paid in foreign currency.

On the other hand, fiscal policy will have to deal with the albatross
of loss-making parastatals which have been bottomless pits in so far as
financing is concerned.

A fiscal policy stance which will lean towards capital expenditure and
less recurrent expenditure will be laudable. Above all, a fiscal policy
stance which will emphasise non-inflationary sources of deficit financing is
likely to yield positive results.

Conventional practice would have us believe that a deficit threshold
of 5% is desirable for macroeconomic stability but it all depends on the
ingredients of the deficit.

There has to be some pragmatism and flexibility.

The Minister of Finance will have to  familiarise himself with the
Ricardian Equivalence Hypothesis and the Keynesian postulations on the
deficit and its connection with macroeconomic stability.

I don't doubt that out competent new Minister of Finance will rise to
the occasion and surpass the bar of our expectations and in this regard I
wish him good luck!

Fifth, levels of domestic and foreign investment are critically low.
But we cannot talk of mobilising domestic savings when the financial sector
is highly disintermediated. Financial sector reform must be a top priority
for this inclusive government.

Pari pasu, we need an investment conference to drum up support for new
international investment.

Sixth, we need to work on our mineral resources and make sure we add
value in our mining sector. All illegal mining activities must be brought
above the radar.

All systemic leakages must be plugged so that Zimbabweans enjoy their

The platinum sector is a minefield of controversies and there has to
be a thorough audit and due diligence analysis of all investments, permits
and explorations done since 2000.

The same should be done in the parks and wildlife sector, especially
the state of hunting concessions.

Seventh, infrastructural rehabilitation is critical for sustainable
development and livelihoods. We need to embark on a massive rehabilitation
of major rural and urban road networks which have been neglected over a long

In the area of road engineering and infrastructural development in
Africa, the Japanese are miles ahead.

They managed to revamp Zambia's road network to first world status
after many years of neglect during Kaunda's rule.

Eighth, urban water planning and sewer management are a sine qua non
for the attainment of MDGs. We need to overhaul urban water supply systems
and do a lot of capital investment in water harvesting and reticulation.

In this regard, local authorities would have to be financially and
technically strengthened now that Zinwa has surrendered the responsibility
back to councils.

Ninth, corruption must be tackled head-on without fear or favour.

Value for money audits should be done in all ministries and the Public
Accounts and Budget committees should be strengthened in their oversight

Tenth, the inclusive government must respect the sanctity of private
sector enterprise. Markets must be facilitated to work smoothly not to be
frustrated by sometimes self-serving state intervention, especially in
regard to pricing. We must put a stop to all covert and overt predatory

Finally, we must not abandon agriculture.

There is need for massive budgetary support in the area of
agricultural inputs, farm mechanisation, import parity pricing and technical

Zimbabwe must regain her breadbasket status in the 2009/2010
agricultural season. A land audit must be carried out to determine the
question of utilisation and multiple ownership as we roll out the new
agrarian reforms.

The task ahead is huge.

Dr Mashakada is the MDC-T Deputy Secretary General.


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Eric Bloch: Biti's Unenviable Task

Thursday, 19 February 2009 15:08
WHILST congratulations are justly due to Tendai Biti on his
appointment to one of Zimbabwe's most important ministerial posts, he is
also entitled to commiserations and intense support.]

With the Zimbabwean economy in an extremely distraught state, and a
bankrupt fiscus, the task confronting him is a most unenviable one.

The population is filled with hopes and expectations that the new
"inclusive" government in general, and the Minister of Finance and his
colleagues in economically-related ministerial posts in particular, will
rapidly lead Zimbabwe out of it's economic morass, vigorously guide and
steer Zimbabwe along a path of economic recovery, and restore wellbeing for

And yet, doing so will not be easy for them, for the depths to which
the economy has descended are immense.

Much determination and innovativeness, and willingness to effect
changes to previously destructive policies, will be prerequisites for
economic transformation.

It is widely rumoured that one of Biti's first actions will be to
present a revised 2009 National Budget to parliament.

Although the Budget presented by then Acting Minister of Finance,
Patrick Chinamasa on January 29 had some very positive elements, equally
there were many facets which were unrealistic and unattainable, and would be
constraints upon the desperately needed economic recovery.

In addition, some very necessary policies and actions were glaringly
absent from that Budget.

The appointment of Biti affords the opportunity to make essential
changes to that Budget.

In formulating a revised Budget, it is of utmost importance that the
minister found it upon realities, and not wishful thinking.

One of the grievous defects of the recently tabled Budget was the
assumption that the Zimbabwean economy will enjoy a 2% real growth in 2009,
and that assumption provided the foundation for projections of fiscal

But the prospects of such growth are minimal. Estimates place the
contraction of the economy in 2008 at 13-15%. Shrinkage in 2009 will not be
as horrific, but to envisage a transition from such gargantuan negative
growth to positive growth is illusory.

This is especially so when consideration is given to the very poor
outturn to the 2008/9 agricultural season, to the fact the manufacturing
output has contracted from 75% of productive capacity in 2002 to less than
10% in 2008.

Many manufacturing entities have not yet resumed production in 2009,
and numerous mines have either suspended production, or considerably reduced
their output.

These circumstances must mean that government's revenues in 2009 will
be less than projected. If there is to be any possibility whatsoever (as
unlikely is that is) of achieving the projected "balanced Budget", Minister
Biti is going to have to effect some major cuts in governmental spending.

The minister also needs to revise some of the taxation measures
announced in the 2009 Budget, including:

The waiver of customs duties on essential basic commodities (such as
maize meal, sugar and cooking oil), granted to June 30, needs to be extended
until year-end.

On the one hand, there is no prospect of any substantive increase in
domestic production of such commodities until 2010 and, on the other hand,
the 90% of the population struggling to survive below the Poverty Datum Line
(PDL) will not experience relief from that struggle within the next four

Whilst it was very commendable that Acting Finance Minister Chinamasa
wished to protect Zimbabwean industry from unequal import competition, the
modification of duty rates was far too broad and wide-ranging, impacting
adversely upon many non-luxury, essential products not manufactured in

Concurrently, adequate protection was not accorded many other
Zimbabwean produced goods, which continue to face inequitable price
competition from imported products. A comprehensive, constructive review of
customs tariffs and duties is very necessary.

Insofar as income tax is concerned, it was most regrettable that the
2009 Budget failed to align tax rates, thresholds and bands with those
prevailing elsewhere in the region.

Zimbabwe has suffered an intense brain drain, crippling commerce and
industry and all other sectors of the economy. Many factors have caused, and
continue to cause, that brain drain, which is ongoing, but they are
considerably exacerbated and reinforced by the magnitude of Zimbabwean

It is also unjust that lesser income tax will be payable on
remuneration received in foreign currency than as applies to remuneration
receivable in Zimbabwean currency.

Why should employees fortunate enough to be paid in foreign currency
be additionally beneficiated by lesser taxes?

This is devoid of equity, and the tax bands and rates applicable to
Zimbabwean currency remuneration should be synchronised with those
applicable to foreign currency remuneration.

There is much merit in government seeking to accelerate its revenue
receipts, but it has "gone overboard" in requiring businesses to pay VAT by
the third day of the month, and by further provisional payments on the 15th
day of the month.

The former date does not practically allow adequate time for
enterprises to complete their monthly financial records (in fact they would
still be awaiting bank statements and supplier invoices and statements),
enabling them to render timeously and correctly their VAT returns and

Moreover, any business effecting sales on credit terms would not yet
have received payment from customers.

Thus, the businesses will have to employ yet further working capital,
usually at great cost, in order to fund the monthly and provisional VAT

Prescription for monthly payment of VAT by the 15th day of each month
would have been more realistic.
Bearing in mind the massive impacts of hyperinflation, and the
progressive elimination of 25 zeros from Zimbabwean currency, the 2009
Budget would have been, and still could be, an opportune time for
declaration of a tax amnesty for past tax offences.

This would markedly reduce the burden upon Zimra of pursuit of past
tax compliance, and would be a tremendous motivator for increased future
compliance, with substantial fiscal benefits.

Tragically lacking from the 2009 Budget were meaningful investment and
export incentives, save for the tourism sector. Substantial, constructive
incentives would be very considerable stimuli for the economy and for its
recovery, whilst being of no real cost to the fiscus.

Minister Biti now has the opportunity to remedy this glaring omission.

Another major omission was the absence of any provision to honour
compensation debts in terms of Bilateral Investment Protection Agreements.
If Zimbabwe is to attract the extensive investment that would be a key
catalyst of economic recovery, it must be seen to respect and comply with
agreements it has entered into.

Clearly there are other matters which will also require Biti's
attention, including drastic reduction of government expenditure,
accelerated privatisation of parastatals and concurrent rehabilitation of
economic infrastructures, legislating effective Reserve Bank autonomy, and
many other issues.

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Gwynne Dyer: Tsvangirai Drinks Poisoned Chalice

Thursday, 19 February 2009 15:00
ON February 11, in Harare, Morgan Tsvangirai drank from the poisoned
chalice, knowing that it was poisoned. He was sworn in as prime minister of
Zimbabwe, in a government that is still controlled by his deadly enemy,
President Robert Mugabe. He must know that his chances of success, even of
political survival, are close to nil.

"We are not joining Mugabe," he said bravely.

"This is part of a transitional relationship, negotiated. Mr Mugabe
has executive authority. I have executive authority."

But Mugabe has exclusive control over the army and the police, which
are regularly used to harass, imprison and torture Tsvangirai's colleagues
and supporters. He also controls the courts, through the justice ministry.

What Tsvangirai got was the Finance ministry (although Mugabe's man
still controls the central bank) and the various social affairs ministries.

In effect, he can go looking for foreign aid, try to fix the broken
economy, and bring suffering Zimbabweans what help he can, but Mugabe's
people still run the key ministries that have real power over people's

Few Zimbabweans foresaw this outcome when the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) unexpectedly won a majority in parliament and Tsvangirai won
more votes than Mugabe in the election last March.

It was an accident that only happened because Zanu, the overconfident
ruling party, was less thorough than usual in intimidating the voters and
rigging the count, but the apparent defeat of Mugabe's 30-year-old regime
awakened hope in the hearts of despairing Zimbabweans.

The hope was premature. The regime declared that Tsvangirai's majority
was not big enough to avoid a second round of voting, and then launched a
campaign of violence against MDC officials and supporters that killed over
200 people and injured thousands.]

Shortly before the second vote, Tsvangirai withdrew from the race to
save MDC voters from a bloodbath on Election Day, and Mugabe was
 "re-elected" without opposition as the president of Zimbabwe.

That wasn't the end of it, because Mugabe's brutal, corrupt regime has
not just ruined the Zimbabwean economy; it is dragging the whole southern
African region down.

Unemployment in Zimbabwe is 94%, the currency is so worthless that
even street traders will only accept foreign currency, cholera is raging
across the country, and average life expectancy is now the lowest in the

About one-third of Zimbabwe's 12 million people have fled to South
Africa in search of work (and dozens were murdered there last year by
resentful South Africans who believed that they were taking South African
jobs). In a region that is relatively prosperous and well-governed by
African standards, Zimbabwe sticks out like a sore thumb  and that is a
problem for the neighbours.

Foreign investors are famously ignorant about the distant places they
invest in, and easily panic if something bad seems to be happening in the

The other members of the Southern African Development Community
(Sadc), the 14-country regional organisation, had to do something about the
catastrophe of Zimbabwe because they were all at risk of being tarred with
the same brush by those ignorant foreigners.

So Sadc intervened - sort of.

Their intention was to force some sort of deal that ended the mess in
Zimbabwe, but they had no real plan - and they were in awe of Mugabe's
history as one of main heroes in the liberation struggle a generation ago.
South Africa's then-president Thabo Mbeki was particularly determined to
ensure that the old man (Mugabe will be 85 this week) be treated with
respect, even though he is a tyrant.

So Sadc, rather than supporting Tsvangirai's complaint that Mugabe had
stolen the election, forced him last August to accept a "national unity"
government in which he would inevitably be the junior partner.

Tsvangirai did not even get agreement on which ministries the MDC
would receive, although it was obvious that Mugabe would never willingly
surrender control of his main instruments of repression, the army and the

The last six months have been filled with futile wrangling as
Tsvangirai tried to wrest those ministries away from Mugabe, while the
country sank ever deeper into poverty, hunger and disease. Now he has joined
the government anyway, although Mugabe's thugs were still arresting and
torturing senior MDC members even last week.

Tsvangirai's vision for how this might succeed, insofar as he has one,
seems to be that his presence in the government will unleash a flood of
foreign aid that will rescue Zimbabweans from their desperate plight. Then
his grateful fellow-citizens will vote for him in such overwhelming numbers
in the election that Sadc has mandated for two years hence that even Mugabe's
vote-counters cannot invalidate it.

It isn't going to happen. Western aid donors have been giving Zimbabwe
nothing except food relief (two-thirds of the population depends on foreign
food aid) because they assume that Mugabe's cronies will steal anything
else - and they see no reason to change their minds.

As Tsvangirai was being sworn in, Britain took the highly unusual step
of placing an ad in the Zimbabwe press spelling out that fact: "It is
unlikely that any government involving Mugabe will inspire donor confidence
and attract the support it so badly needs."

But if the aid doesn't flow, Tsvangirai will have nothing to show for
his desperate gamble. Game, set and match to Mugabe. Pity about Zimbabwe.

Dyer is a London-based independent journalist.

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A Stuttering Start

Thursday, 19 February 2009 19:02
IT is five days since the new coalition cabinet started work, so to

We have no illusions about the momentous task which faces these men
and women in getting Zimbabwe to start working again.

We believe the ministers themselves, old and new alike, are alive to
the challenge.

We however wish to caution the ministers against the Obama phenomenon,
which is creating an unnecessary crisis of expectations among the poor,
prisoners, teachers and many other sections of society who expect miracles
from the new government.

Let the government not fuel and feed potentially dangerous tendencies
it cannot assuage.

It is the fastest way to creating a credibility gap and loss of
confidence with the people.

Already blunders have been made about the release of prisoners and the
payment of civil servants' salaries in foreign currency.

No doubt this reflects a hangover from the MDC's position as an
opposition party.

God forbid that this should be a foretaste of the operations of the
new government.

The biggest task which the government faces is not about pretending
that it has lots of money to spend.

It is not that it has a lot of friends from whom to borrow to finance
recurrent expenditure either.

Nor is it an ability to make extravagant promises which will prove
impossible to fulfill even with the best intentions in the world.

To us the primary task is to win and hold the confidence of both the
sceptics and detractors of the coalition government. It is that plain. It is
not that simple to achieve.

Zimbabweans are famed for their patience but they are not fools.

There is therefore no need to make utopian promises about a quick
economic turnaround, improved health delivery and agricultural recovery.

Let our ministers, old and new, keep their feet firmly on the ground;
they need to separate party slogans from government business.

We all know roughly what kind of mess we are in as a country.

We know the authors of that mess.

But we also know that the reason there is this coalition government is
chiefly to get us out of the mess as soon as possible, and not to expose us
to more of the same.

What we expect as a starting point is that government gets its
priority areas right. In our book those priorities are food, health and
education for our children.

It is unfortunate that these are not negotiable and cannot be deferred
for too long without rousing the ire of ordinary Zimbabweans.

Failure to deliver quickly on these will only provide cheap fodder for
the sceptics for whom nothing positive can ever come out of Zimbabwe, even
though some of them are Zimbabwean.

It is not too early to start asking each minister to roll out his
plans for the revival of the sector under his charge, especially for the

If those selected to be ministers are serious, even before being given
a portfolio, they must have known what the problems are and what their party
pledged to do to address them.

The demands of transparency and accountability are that these
programmes should be laid bare for public scrutiny and comment. Let's see
the new start; let's see the new brooms.

It is unfortunate that we have nothing positive to say about President
Robert Mugabe's choice of ministers. Joseph Made sticks out like a tree
stump on a highway.

His exploits as Agriculture Minister are on the record.

His antics about monkeys disrupting fertiliser supplies from Sable
Chemicals and his aerial forecasts of bumper harvests make him Mugabe's
ultimate insult to Zimbabweans.

It is certainly not the way to win public confidence.

The older generation of Zimbabweans will not have forgotten Emmerson

He was a key government figure during the Gukurahundi massacres in the
early years of Independence following another form of coalition between Zanu
PF and PF-Zapu after the 1980 elections.

In an uncanny reincarnation, he has ominously resurfaced as Defence
minister in the new coalition.

With all due respect to the principle of collective responsibility,
what miracle can we expect from the likes of Ignatious Chombo, Stan Mudenge
and Herbert Murerwa?

Long live Didymus Mutasa and Sithembiso Nyoni.

The only "new" faces are from the MDC formations.

That's as much change as you get from emptying a 300ml bottle of Fanta
into the ocean.

What we find salutary is that there will be a healthy competition
among the ministers to deliver through their portfolios.

In the past in a virtual one-party state, the tendency was to please
the paymaster rather the employer.

Ministers competed to catch the eye of the president while citizens
who voted were left to fend for themselves.

If the MDC does nothing else but reverse this culture and make
ordinary voters its primary focus that should be a fine beginning.

But so far we have no reason to be too optimistic about its priorities

They appear to have joined comrades-in-crime in trying to find or
create jobs for friends from the trenches, hence the squabbles over
governorships, positions in the public service hierarchy and foreign

The government is already too bloated while voters get leaner if they
have survived the cholera pandemic.

But from the tinted windows of their newly acquired Mercs, even new
ministers have to squint to recognise the poor guys out in the cold where
they have just come from.

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Candid Comment: Recovery prospects gloomy

Thursday, 19 February 2009 18:58
THE formation of the inclusive government last week is an intriguing
experiment in a consociational (power-sharing) arrangement.

The main political parties are trying to transform their shared
hatreds into mutual camaraderie to rebuild a nation ruined by leadership and
policy failures.

The public expectations are very high that the deal could work.

It is expected the parties would define and pursue a common vision of
restoring political and economic stability.

The problems facing the country are well-known.

The priorities are also clear.

The new government needs to energetically tackle the immediate
problems to restore a tad of normalcy before confronting fundamental issues
like structural economic reforms and democratisation of the country via a
new constitution and other measures.

To achieve all this, political parties were expected to harness their
best brains and human resource skills to assemble a competent team with a
strong intellectual base and capacity to deliver.

It was also expected that the new cabinet would be a mixture of talent
and experience -- driven by compelling qualifications in areas of
deployment -- to provide serious leadership and direction in the recovery

Poverty of leadership and poor governance are central in the current
crisis buffeting the nation.

Among other things, it was also expected that the parties would insist
on the de-politicisation of the civil service and the professional

While the political agreement defines what ought to be achieved, it
does not say how. It is just a skeletal framework.

The experiment in power-sharing got off to a bad start. Any imaginings
of a reformist government coming in to steer the country out of the crisis
were quickly eclipsed by President Robert Mugabe's wholesale retention of
his entourage of deadwood ministers -- whom he described last year as the
"worst cabinet" ever -- to run the affairs of the nation.

Given the dire economic situation and other urgent tasks at hand, it
was astonishing for Mugabe to recycle a forest of deadwood ministers who
actually presided over the current economic ruin.

Some of Mugabe's ministers like Emmerson Mnangagwa and Sydney
Sekeramayi have been in cabinet for nearly 30 years now.

Quite clearly they have nothing to offer anymore. To make matters,
these ministers are not only monuments to failure, but are also associated
with gross human rights abuses stretching from the 1980s to the present.

It was cynical in the extreme for Mugabe to recycle Mnangagwa and
Sekeramayi in the security ministries where they will continue to wield
instruments of coercion, while victims of this regime's excesses are still
yearning for justice.

Keeping such ministers is as bad as retaining Fifth Brigade commanders
in the top echelons of the army.

Mugabe also brought back a host of old and failed ministers to the
patronage network whose only qualifications are an enduring spirit of
allegiance to him.

What sort of recovery and reforms can ministers like Joseph Made,
Didymus Mutasa, Ignatius Chombo, Obert Mpofu, Stan Mudenge and Olivia
Muchena bring?

Indeed, how can you ensure economic recovery with the likes of Joseph
Msika and Joice Mujuru, the co-vice-presidents, still ensconced at the
commanding heights?

These are the clearest indicators Mugabe does not have a reform

The situation was not helped by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's own
controversial appointments.

Tsvangirai's appointments were also clearly driven by patronage and
village politics.

Instead of carefully bringing in a crop of qualified and competent
ministers, he just swung the door open to cronies and loyalists.

His team also lacked representative balance among the geographical
regions of the country.

In terms of qualifications and technical know-how, how does one
explain the glaring absence of Tapiwa Mashakada and Pearson Mungofa?

On the Arthur Mutambara side, was it necessary to accommodate losing
candidates, while leaving out elected MPs?

The Mutambara team was selected on the basis of party seniority, not
popular mandate and capability.

The new cabinet was not well thought out.

It evidently lacks technocrats and that is a recipe for failure,
especially in the absence of economic resources.

There is also a debilitating rivalry developing within the government
at such an early stage.

A major battle is looming between the Reserve Bank and the Ministry of

In the broader context, Mugabe and Tsvangirai are poised for a fierce
tug-of-war over control of government.

The agreement created two centres of power, one in Mugabe's office and
the other in Tsvangirai's, which might spawn a cutthroat contestation for

This leaves the power-sharing deal politically endangered and recovery
and reform prospects gloomy. But let us give the new government a chance.

It may not be looking good at present given the debacle over Bennett,
but there is at least no going back.


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Editor's Memo: Zanu PF rewards mediocrity

Thursday, 19 February 2009 15:51
WHAT did former Health and Child Welfare minister David Parirenyatwa
think he was doing when he told the media this week that he was leaving his
job "a happy man"?

This is shocking stuff from someone whose ministry presided over the
cholera fiasco in which more than 3 700 people have perished from the
treatable disease.

The failure of public health system to contain the cholera epidemic is
a huge stain on the minister's CV and he will be remembered as the
modern-day doctor who was completely overwhelmed by a dark-ages disease.

He will be remembered as the minister who in November last year
promised the nation that the outbreak was "under control".

At the time the death toll from the disease was around 400.

When he left office it was close to 4 000 and still counting.

As he reflects on his tenure at the ministry, is he content with the
large number of maternal deaths as a result of poor medical facilities in
government hospitals?

Is he also satisfied with the closed operating theatres at Pari and
Harare hospitals?

Before he left office, had the dialysis machines in Harare and
Bulawayo been repaired?

In societies where public officers are still accountable to the
electors, Parirenyatwa should have resigned together with his cabinet
colleagues responsible for local government and water.

But over the years, we have seen the development of  a species of
politicians who are keen to make capital out of minuscule success and blame
bountiful failure on exogenous factors.

It is "sanctions", our "detractors" and so on.

This pathetic group has resorted to claiming success in containing
problems and not preventing them.
Parirenyatwa beamed when musicians produced a CD on cholera awareness.

That, he would like to have on his CV! He will also log in his memoirs
as a success and his sojourn to donors -- cap in hand -- to source basic
drugs to treat cholera.

Also in this group, we have ministers who celebrate the arrival of
imported grain when a few months earlier they were equally jubilant when
they were distributing agricultural inputs.

We have ministers now expounding the virtues of economic
liberalisation when only recently they presided over damaging price controls
during which they declared that business people were enemies of the state
and had them arrested and detained.

But in Zanu PF's scheme of things, mediocrity is oftentimes rewarded.

It is a virtue to make bonehead decisions and then eventually drop
them without showing any contrition.

The frontline ministers President Mugabe chose for his cabinet last
week hail from this coterie of tinpot politicians whose respective pasts are
blighted by monumental failures and serious errors of judgement.

They happily look forward to Mugabe's salvage apparatus to fish them
out of the scrap yard. Frankly speaking, who else other than Mugabe believes
Joseph Made -- of the "fly past fame" - is the most competent man to head
the agriculture portfolio?

The appointment has little to do with results but this quest for
continuity, whatever the results.

Successive Zanu PF governments have evidently never been crafted as
results-driven entities.

Ordinarily, a Justice ministry's brief should be to deliver justice

The minister should derive satisfaction in the number of cases handled
and concluded by the courts and not the high number of prisoners on remand.

Can the last Justice minister who has been retained in his post in the
new cabinet claim
satisfaction that he served government well in this respect?

This failure to deliver has become an acceptable norm in government
here. We do not question it because we have been made to believe that
government departments move at the speed of a glacier.

Even more, our rulers' praise of mediocrity creates laziness and puts
out that inner fire that we all should have inside us that drives us to
achieve results.

Why should someone want to achieve something great if they can be
praised for achieving nothing? This is a major challenge facing the new
unity government.

The cabinet's ability to deliver should not be based on the
discredited Zanu PF yardsticks.

We need new benchmarks to gauge delivery.

The Agriculture minister's success must be based on tonnes of grain
delivered to the silos and not the number of sorties over maize fields!

I fear a situation where the new MDC ministers in cabinet are
recruited into this damaging practice of indolence because it is rewarding.

American philosopher and author Erich Hoffer once said: "In the
republic of mediocrity, genius is dangerous."

He added: "Those in possession of absolute power cannot only prophesy
and make their prophecies come true, but they can also lie and make their
lies come true."

We want to be liberated from the republic of mediocrity.


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Muckraker: Motlanthe Wakes up to Zanu PF's Duplicity

Thursday, 19 February 2009 15:44
President Kgalema Motlanthe has finally woken up, it seems, to the
reality of the people he is doing business with in Harare.

Speaking in Welkom last weekend on the fate of Roy Bennett, Motlanthe
said: "Today I received a call from Zimbabwe because one of the leaders who
was supposed to be sworn in as one of the ministers had been detained.

We had to put in a word to say 'You don't do that, you can't detain
someone who is supposed to be your partner in building a new government'."

It was useful to have that on the record. Note how the public media
failed to report his remarks.

Motlanthe has been among those calling for the lifting of sanctions
while MDC officials and civic leaders are held in appalling conditions on
what their lawyers say are spurious charges.

This is in complete violation of the September accord which not only
requires the parties to work together but also underlines the need for
freedom of assembly and expression.

One of those parroting the call to lift sanctions "immediately" is
Arthur Mutambara who, as far as we can recall, has never once called for the
release of political prisoners or an end to abductions and torture. We would
be happy to apologise if proved wrong.

The courts have instructed that complaints of torture be investigated.
We are not aware of anybody being prosecuted as a result of such

The Sunday Mail was complaining last weekend that despite the
formation of the power-sharing government the West has not committed itself
to lifting sanctions.

They really don't get it, do they: So long as members of the
opposition and civic activists are arrested, beaten and detained, potential
donors will not want to have any dealings with the government even though it
contains Morgan Tsvangirai.

Countries do not want to be seen propping up a repressive regime that
is insincere about working with others.

Arresting Roy Bennett and dragging him before the courts told the
world that this is an incorrigible rogue regime that does not really want
reconciliation or recovery.

It was an own goal.

The Swedish government, traditionally a generous provider, had this to
say last week:
"Now that the MDC is to take its place in the government it is vital
that their position is fully respected and that the country's government can
rapidly rally around an extensive reform agenda. (We) hope that this
transitional solution is the beginning of the end to misrule in the country.

"At the same time it is important that all political prisoners are
released immediately and that the country is returned as soon as possible to
fully functioning rule of law.

Politically-motivated violence must cease immediately, the rule of law
and respect for human rights must be restored and the media must regain
their freedom."

The Herald carried a lead story on Tuesday about ministers settling
into their new jobs. There was a picture of Public Service Commission chair
Dr Mariyawanda Nzuwah telling ministers what was expected of them.
Shouldn't ministers be telling him what they expect of him and other
senior civil servants identified with the Zanu PF regime?

And what is government's "results-based management system" they were
briefed on?

What results?

One minister not shy to tell self-important officials their fortune
was Tendai Biti. "The Reserve Bank has totally discredited itself," he told
Reuters in an interview last weekend.

"We must accept that the Reserve Bank is at the core of this economic
decay. I make no apologies for those statements."

Analysts say the central bank has helped ruin the economy by printing
money and providing trillions of Zimbabwe dollars to state companies and
government departments outside the budget, which has fuelled inflation.

Muckraker is of the view that Gono would make a good central banker
were it not for the fact that he is hostage to all those elements in the
state that are bent on destroying the economy.

And he aids and abets that process by printing money and issuing goods
such as fuel and farming implements that are promptly resold on the black
market by their privileged recipients.

Now that a majority in parliament - including the responsible
minister - no longer have any confidence in him and are opposed to his
continued tenure, wouldn't it be a good move to admit defeat and stand down

Then he could write a book that does not get filed under "Fiction" in
the library but spills the beans on how much gets siphoned off by Zimbabwe's
parasitic elite who educate their children abroad.

By the way, have the Americans clarified that funny little story about
Gono being offered a vice-presidency of the World Bank

A question: Weren't deputy ministers supposed to be sworn in last
Friday along with the full ministers? It was set out clearly in the January
26 communiqué.

How come this provision was ignored?

People were probably too focused on the smuggling bid. What a blatant
attempt that was! We are only sorry that so many relatives had to miss
seeing their kith and kin sworn in when they were dropped from the list
after hours of horse-trading.

And how many people are aware that one of those the president managed
to squeeze through the back door was a key figure in the Muzorewa regime?

Muckraker has a theory that mediocrity and ineptitude are valued in
Zanu PF. You don't actually have to be good at anything to continue serving.
Just being there is sufficient.

But during the fallow years when you are in between cabinet service it
is important not to say anything.

That way your chance will come around again.

The Hong Kong newspaper, the South China Morning Post, this week
reported the Chinese government as defending the right of President Mugabe
to own a Hong Kong home after the Zimbabwean leader reportedly paid US$5
million for a villa in the former British colony.

"Hong Kong is a free port, and even Falun Gong practitioners can buy a
property there, am I right?" a Foreign ministry spokesman in Beijing told
the paper on Tuesday.

The comment came after the Sunday Times newspaper in London reported
that Robert and Grace Mugabe had bought a home in a luxury complex in Hong
Kong's Tai Po district last year.

The Falun Gong movement is a religious sect banned in China but free
to practise in Hong Kong which has freedom of speech guaranteed in its

Police were called to the Mugabe property last Friday, it was
reported, when two photographers working for the Sunday Times were allegedly
assaulted as they attempted to deliver a letter and take pictures of the

The incident took place two weeks after Grace Mugabe allegedly
assaulted another Sunday Times photographer as he took pictures of her
shopping in Hong Kong.

The Mugabes' daughter Bona is reportedly studying at university in
Hong Kong and students in Zimbabwe have held protests demanding that she be
made to study in her home country.

Pro-democracy legislator Emily Lau called on the Hong Kong government
to make clear its policy on whether politicians such as Mugabe should be
allowed to visit or settle in the city. But China takes the view that the
"sins of the fathers" should not be visited upon the children.

Grace found herself eclipsed at Tsvangirai's swearing in last week by
the wife of King Mswati who has evidently come a long way since her Reed
Dance days.

She looked very smart in a tight-fitting outfit and a flying saucer
hat that looked as if it could pick up DStv.
However, it had to come off in the line-up to congratulate the new
prime minister because there wasn't room for the hat and its owner!

Did anybody see Webster Shamu's performance at the swearing in of
ministers? Did he really have to go down on bended knee to Grace? Is that
symbolic of his future role as Minister of Information?

Let's hope not.

And what did ZUJ president Matthew Takaona mean when he said Shamu was
a familiar face at funerals of ZUJ members?

Muckraker was gobsmacked by the report that a British and French
nuclear submarine bumped into each other in the middle of the Atlantic. This
was an amazing feat by any definition given the size of the North Atlantic.
The expression "needle in a haystack" comes to mind. How did they manage it?

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Zim Independent Letters

Bhebhe Should Just Shut Up

Thursday, 19 February 2009 18:05
RECENT utterances by the MP for Nkayi North Abednico Bhebhe recently
condemning the MDC Mutambara leadership for allegedly blocking him from
assuming the ministerial position of Water Resources and Development to
which he had been nominated by the MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, smacks
of hypocrisy of the highest order.

Bhebhe argues that he was being rewarded by Tsvangirai for his
contribution towards the formation of the MDC in 1999. He however does not
state what exactly it is that he contributed that he, of all the people that
were involved in the formation of the party, has to be rewarded with a
ministerial appointment.

It should be noted that Tsvangirai's initial list of ministers from
Matabeleland only had Bhebhe as the minister representing the whole of
Matabeleland and was only changed to accommodate more ministers when party
members from that region protested.

While it is appreciated that the prerogative of appointing ministers
rests entirely with the president of each party, the rationale of appointing
someone from another political party by Tsvangirai, leaving out in the cold
those who had stood with him throughout the period of the struggle, boggles
the mind.

One also wonders why Bhebhe, who does not hold any special skills in
any field, was being favoured ahead of everyone else.

But surely the dual alliance of Tsvangirai and Bhebhe should not take
people of Zimbabwe for granted.  It is inconceivable on their part, to
believe that their explanation of why they tried to reward each other so
handsomely would be accepted on face value.

The two gentlemen were simply rewarding each other for transactions
done under darkness and behind closed doors.

In the past four years, Bhebhe has been involved in several
controversial issues to which he had no satisfactory explanations.

Incidentally, all the issues involved secret and private interactions
with the MDC-T group.

So, to this extent, no one is fooled by Bhebhe's shameless antics.

He is conscious of the fact that his plan A has collapsed and is now
trying to put plan B into motion. Plan B involves getting back to his
constituency and appear to be a victim of the MDC leadership's

This, he thinks, might earn him the sympathy of the people in the
constituency thereby allowing him to prepare some groundwork for a
by-election in the likely event that the party decides to take disciplinary
action against him.

He has engulfed himself in a political flame by trying to be a
political macho man. For now, his best option is to sober up first. He
should learn to be honest and trustworthy otherwise he is politically

Andile Nyoni,

City's Water System Health Time Bomb
Thursday, 19 February 2009 14:35
ACCORDING to the report that was released by the World Health
Organisation (WHO) on the state of water in Harare, the city's water has
been found to have feacal contaminations.

Samples that were taken from both protected and unprotected water
sources were founda to be contaminated with total and feacal coliforms.

This is a worrying situation considering the fact that Harare is still
battling to combat the cholera outbreak that has claimed more than 4 000
lives since August last year.

The Combined Harare Residents Association (CHRA) blames Zinwa for the
water woes that are bedevilling the city.

The raw sewerage that has been flowing unabated in the streets of
almost all high density areas -- Budiriro, Glen-view, Glen Norah,
Mabvuku-Tafara, Highfield, Kuwadzana and Dzivarasekwa being the most
Even the boreholes that have been sunk in areas like Budiriro have
been affected due to the raw sewerage that has seeped into the water table.

CHRA appeals to the government to look into the water situation in
Harare as a matter of urgency.

Combined Harare Residents
Association (CHRA)


      Tsvangirai Needs to Avoid Blunders

      Thursday, 19 February 2009 14:22
       THE recent arrest of Roy Bennett vindicates the MDC's assertion
of the insincerity of Zanu PF.

      The arrest cannot have been an unplanned event. It is a
premeditated act designed to reinforce Zanu PF's dominance. The act will set
off a war between the different MDC-T factions.

      Those against the inclusive government will accuse Morgan
Tsvangirai of having put too much trust in Zanu PF whilst those for the
inclusive government will argue that it is better to fight the dictatorship
from within.

      Fighting the dictatorship from within is the only option left as
the AU has made it clear that they are only going to support an
all-inclusive government.

       That Zanu PF can still arrest Bennett at a time when everyone is
preaching reconciliation and forgiveness shows that they are not sincere. If
the MDC does not tread carefully Zanu PF will try to consolidate its
position by trying to sow divisions.

      Whatever positives are to come from the transitional authority
will be attributed to the MDC. If Tsvangirai however makes blunders during
this time then he will not survive. I urge him to be smart.

      The current situation where he makes haphazard appointments --
such as the case of Abednico Bhebhe and Eddie Cross -- only to reverse them
will give ammunition to Zanu PF. Remember they still have the Information
and Publicity portfolio where they can still distort the news.

      The MDC needs to take note that the GNU is just a transitional
arrangement which can come to an end any day.




      GNU Must Initiate Reform
      Thursday, 19 February 2009 14:22
      AS a patriotic Zimbabwean it is incumbent upon me to be hopeful
and optimistic about the success of this new government.

      The facts on the ground though instruct me to have a contrary
viewpoint considering the Roy Bennett arrest and the clear intransigence
Zanu PF continues to exude.

      There is no doubt in my mind however that this framework is the
only workable solution since Robert Mugabe could not be removed through the
electoral process and whatever strategies employed by the West to squeeze
him out only seemed to embolden him.

      I am hopeful that despite the odds stacked against this new
government the progressive forces within it can create avenues for the
extrication of our nation from the malaise we are in and entrench democratic
values at the same time.

      We need to have democratic principles that will guide how our
future leaders lead us so that we don't have another Mugabe in future.

      We should see the opening up of the airwaves that ensures a
multiplicity of voices are heard and not the current situation where we only
hear what Mugabe wants us to hear.

      We also need to cut the umbilical cord of the government from
Zanu PF so that there is a clear separation of party and state.

      I hope that these benchmarks are met for the good of the nation.

      Joshua Munekani,


      Bank Charges Shocking
      Thursday, 19 February 2009 14:11
      ALLOW me to express my shock and disgust after reading the
proposed levies on FCA accounts from banks from the story "Banks set steep
FCA charges" in the Zimbabwe Independent (February 13-19 2009).

      If those are the charges we are going to be charged then every
worker must demand payment in cash from their employer.

      We must not allow banks to fleece us whilst our eyes are wide
open. Gone are the days when we would be ridden over roughshod! It is time
that we stamped our authority.

       Banks are there because we can deposit our money with them.

       If we cannot deposit then they must go bust.

      It's not like we cannot do without banks.

      For the past year we have been doing without banks.

      Even today we are not earning in forex but we are buying
everything in forex so it means we can keep our own money.

      The last time we used banks over the past year was when we were
able to burn forex and then use the proceeds to buy groceries via point of

      As soon as the facility was closed we just stopped using the
banking service.

      What stops us from doing the same if we are levied these
astronomical charges? I was surprised this week to learn that banks are
opening FCA's on a no questions asked basis.

      Were it not for the Zimbabwe Independent story I would have
rushed to open my own FCA account immediately.

       I propose that we continue keeping our forex under our pillows
until sanity is brought into the banking sector.

       Glen View


      Beware of those Bearing Gifts
      Thursday, 19 February 2009 14:10
       AFRICA was born -- the poets say -- when everything was a
wasteland  of marsh and moving water! When only the children of lesser gods
played on spider webs strung across the void. Millions of years ago, Africa
was the cradle of man.

      Ever since that time we have blamed our misfortunes on drought,
disease, war, sanctions, poverty and our mothers-in-law.

      This is all partly true. But there is no such thing as fate or
bad luck. It has been proved time and again that it is individuals and
leaders who determine the course of history.

      And when those individuals have been emotionally damaged in
childhood or have a dysfunctional marital or family relationship, they will
lust after power and wealth to compensate for their hidden insecurities
thereby ringing incredible suffering to their people.

      A sure sign of this is an obstinate leader who bullies and
stamps his foot like a child to get his way.

       These recidivists are often mesmeric speakers whilst they
abduct, torture and murder.

      They always seek to blame others for their failures and will
never give in. Always thinking of me instead of the greater good.

      South Africa and our Sadc neighbours' self-serving diplomacy was
"machiavellied" into bearing gifts for an exhausted Zimbabwe through the
transitional unity government.

      The next blandishments will include Mercedes Benz-strewn farms
and the poisoned chalice of power.

       We still have to turn our faces like flint into the wind. And
wait for the fat lady to sing.

      Paul Tingay,


            Zimbabwe Independent SMS
            Thursday, 19 February 2009 14:34
            MUCH as I am hopeful this "new" government will be
progressive, it remains that -- hope. The facts on the ground are
frightening particularly with the recent arrest of Roy Bennett. Added to
that we are "entering the new era" with the same old tired horses.


            MY biggest disappointment lies in the fact that we are
expecting a change in direction from the same leaders whose policies got us
here. There is yet no sign of a change in attitude nor any level of
introspection that could lead one to start having some faith that actual
progress might now start.

            PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has sacrificed a lot for
the betterment of all Zimbabweans. What he has to do now is reorganise the
MDC's grassroots membership, promote and reform the nation's democratic
institutions. He should also act against the politicisation of the army and
police. The people expect objective coverage of issues on our radios and
televisions, a people- driven and democratic constitution and ultimately
free and fair elections. Otherwise the deal will be an exercise in futility.
            Expectant, Harare.

            THE Prime Minister has his work cut out for him. It will
be interesting to see where he intends to take the country in the next 100
days. What cannot be denied is that the people will be watching him to see
if he can deliver on his promises and there is no amount of scapegoating
that will cut the ice with Zimbabeans this time around.
            Political Analyst.

            ZIMBABWEANS have been bamboozled by the previous
government's empty promises and they want to see a fresh start.

            WITH the GNU now in place we need real reform at ZBH.
Tafataona Mohoso and Claude Mararike should stop venting their unhelpful
vitriol for the GNU to work.

            TO the Sadc leadership and Thabo Mbeki I say now that the
Prime Minister together with his two deputies have been sworn in by
President Robert Mugabe they will need your continued support to be
effective. We should all be proud of the Sadc leadership for this inspiring
success and hope that they maintain their stance of being united towards
helping Zimbabwe. We are also grateful for their moral and economic support
to our beloved country.
            United we stand, Bulawayo.

            ONLY the patience and resilience of a people who have been
subdued and yet are tolerant can ultimately yield a hopeful result.
Zimbabweans have emerged united in an environment where injustice,
corruption and deception reigned. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has the
qualities and character to steer this country through this devastating storm
that has ravaged and disoriented the people for so long.

            I THINK it would be a good idea for us to engage UN
humanitarian organisations such as the Food and Agricultural Organisation
(FAO). FAO has helped post-crisis countries to rebuild food security and
considering the fact that Zimbabwe is in a situation very much like a
country out of war, FAO's services and experience would do us a lot of good!

            WE must spare a tear for Paul Mangwana. He forgot that he
was just the acting Minister of Information. What is he going to do about
all the wild promises he made now that he is out in the cold? It was sweet
whilst it lasted wasn't it?

            THE continued spread of the cholera epidemic shows an
administration mired in arrogance and unfettered self-importance at the
expense of common sense.

            THE media has a responsibility to ensure that all the
corruption that has been swept under the carpet by the previous government
are exposed in the full glare of the public domain.

            THE article mocking Graça Machel in the Herald (January 30
2009) cannot go unchallenged. It stated that she is variously called Mrs
Mandela or "wife of the former Mozambican president Samora Machel" for
lobbying purposes. It is evident though that there is something good about
these gentlemen (Nelson Mandela and Samora Machel) which is lacking in the
person being lobbied against.

            I WOULD like to let it be known that at Chinhoyi High
School students were being beaten (not just on the bottom) for not bringing
US$20 for their "school fees". Each child has to pay US$20 per month and it
is just for the teachers' salaries.
            MUCH as I am hopeful this "new" government will be
progressive, it remains that -- hope. The facts on the ground are
frightening particularly with the recent arrest of Roy Bennett. Added to
that we are "entering the new era" with the same old tired horses.

            CELLULAR network service providers charge inflated tariffs
as if they are being charged in local currency.
            Lance Manokore.

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Charamba fumes as Maridadi takes limelight

20 February 2009

By Brilliant Pongo

Nehanda Radio has it on good authority that Robert Mugabe's press secretary,
George Charamba is trying to undermine the person of James Maridadi by
spuriously alleging that the Prime Minister's spokesperson is not qualified
to hold his appointed position.

Charamba is alleged to have penned an article in the Herald's letter's to
the editor section (19 Feb 2009) calling on the government to 'rein in
loudmouthed officials'.

The letter to the editor is said to have been forced onto the paper at the
last minute when most staff members had left to go home and is believed to
be Charamba's foundation for an attack and campaign to discredit Maridadi's
person and office.

Charamba is said to have raised this issue with Judith Makwanya and other
senior journalists at the state run broadcaster (ZBC) and those from the
Herald newspaper on Wednesday night.

The fiery and motor-mouthed Charamba is said to have been digging up on
Maridadi's educational qualifications and it is said he alleges that the
former Radio 3 DJ has no 'O' level qualifications.

However, to Charamba's chagrin Maridadi is no idiot. He currently holds a
Diploma in Journalism, another in Public Relations as well as a Diploma in
Business Administration. Maridadi also holds a Post-Graduate Diploma in
Public Management and is reading for his (MBA).

Charamba is widely believed to be behind the vitriolic and poisonous
articles written under the pseudonym Nathaniel Manheru in the state owned
Herald, a space which he uses and or abuses to settle old scores and fight
those he perceives as his enemies.

With Mugabe fast losing popularity and the media attention now focusing on
the new Prime Minister Charamba perhaps feels Maridadi will steal or has
already stolen his limelight.

The letter to the editor points out that Maridadi is not employed as a civil
servant and as such he can not speak on behalf of the government but only on
behalf of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in his capacity as MDC-T leader,
not as Prime Minister.

"I urge the inclusive Government to manage and co-ordinate information
dissemination so that it does not appear as if the Government is running its
own affairs via newspapers, TV and radio channels through the words of
individual and unauthorised ministers." The letter says.

Which leaves one wondering who these unauthorised ministers are? And begs
the question should the people of Zimbabwe be kept in the dark with regards
to the affairs of this so-called inclusive government?

Ironically as Mugabe's spokesman Charamba basically acted as de facto
Information Minister by speaking on behalf of Government. Now that a new kid
on the block has arrived, Charamba is hypocritically issuing lectures on job
parameters he himself ignored.

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