WASHINGTON — Political temperatures are again rising in Harare even after
the three parties in the government of national unity agreed to a final
draft of the constitution after more than 3 years of sometimes heated
Zanu-PF chief negotiator and Justice Minister, Patrick Chinamasa, on
Thursday told the Zimbabwe Independent newspaper that after the
constitution, there will be no further reforms ahead of elections expected
Mr. Chinamasa was responding to remarks by MDC-T chief negotiator and
Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, that there is need for further reforms. The
MDC wants the reform of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission secretariat, media
laws, and the security sector.
The MDC also wants international observers to be deployed early to monitor
the pre and post election environment. Zanu-PF is likely to clash with the
Southern African Development Community appointed mediator Jacob Zuma, whose
envoys have also said they want reforms ahead of elections.
The envoys were in Harare on Tuesday and promised to visit the country more
frequently to ensure outstanding issues in the election roadmap are
Political analyst Earnest Mudzengi also director of the Media Centre told
VOA that the presence of Mr. Zuma’s envoys is likely to help MDC’s cause.
Meanwhile, the MDC says thousands of people have submitted nomination papers
to contest in the partys council, parliamentary and senate primary
Zanu-PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa had said earlier that
his party’s primary elections would be held this month but party sources
said they are likely to be postponed due to wrangling over the criteria of
The MDC formation led by Industry Minister Welshman Ncube is also accepting
Organising secretary Nelson Chamisa of the Tsvangirai MDC sad everyone is
pleased with the quality of candidates who want to represent the party.
Friday, 01 February 2013 00:00
Felex Share Herald Reporter
Parties in the inclusive Government are headed for a showdown on how to
handle international observers during the forthcoming referendum and general
Zanu-PF insists that elections should be held under the framework of the
amended electoral law, while MDC-T has made other proposals outside the
agreement on electoral laws.
MDC-T wants international observers to come for the referendum and stay in
Zimbabwe until and after elections.
Justice and Legal Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa yesterday said
according to the amended electoral law, international observers should come
in the country a day before nominations and stay for 15 days after the last
“All the three parties agreed to the electoral amendments and the issue of
international observers will be governed by what is in the electoral law and
Sadc principles and guidelines on elections,” he said.
“We agreed that the period of observation should be a day before nominations
and 15 days after the polling day. Normally we hold our polls over two days.
“The election process begins with the nomination, then the real election
time and the post election, meaning the observers should also cover the
counting of votes and other things related to that.”
Minister Chinamasa said foreigners should apply to the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs for them to observe the electoral processes in Zimbabwe.
“Those outside the country who want to observe the elections should apply to
the Government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs while locals will
have to apply to the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs.
“The ministries know who and how to invite the international and local
observers,” he said.
Minister Chinamasa said there would be another committee to accredit those
who would have been invited to observe the polls.
“A committee will accredit those who would have applied and the committee
would include officials from the Department of Immigration and Zimbabwe
Minister Chinamasa anything outside the electoral laws would be
“Those calling for more
proposals are just expressing their wish.”
However, MDC-T secretary general Mr Tendai Biti said they wanted
international observers to stay in Zimbabwe for a longer period.
“We want, not just local observers, but those from the international
community also,” he said.
“Our demand as a party is that once these observers come for the referendum,
they should stay in the country up until election time.
“If they want farms we will give them and if they want husbands or wives we
will give them.”
MDC secretary general Mrs Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga was singing a
She said the parties agreed that the issue of international observers would
be discussed within the context of Jomic.
“We have already agreed on that and Jomic will come up with proposals on how
and when we need these observers and that is what we will follow,” she said.
Principals to the Global Political Agreement endorsed the amendments that
are now part of the amended Electoral Act.
The amendments were enacted into law in September last year.
The referendum is provisionally slated for end of March followed by election
sometime this year.
by Rebecca Moyo
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono today said seven banks had
not complied with the December 31 2012 minimum capital threshold of US$25
Gono said this while presenting his Monetary Policy statement on Thursday,
Gono said only 14 had complied with ZABG Bank, Capital Bank, Agribank, FBC
Building Society, Trust Bank, Metbank and ZB Building Society yet to comply
“In the interest of transparency and accountability, I am pleased to report
that a total of 14 banking institutions or 67 percent have met the 31
December 2012 minimum threshold,” said Gono.
Gono said consistent with pronouncements enshrined in the 2012 Mid Term
Monetary Policy Statement, all banking institutions submitted their detailed
recapitalization plans to the Reserve Bank by 30 September 2012, which were
evaluated for credibility.
“Subsequently, the Reserve Bank engaged the respective banking institutions
on the feasibility of their recapitalization plans. Generally, the
recapitalization plans hinged on rights issues, mergers and consolidations,
organic growth and fresh capital injections from both local and foreign
investors,” he said.
Gono said two banks were in need of further improvement in capitalisation.
The two are ZABG, currently on US$15,8 million capital and Capital Bank at
US$7,5 million. Gono said he had rendered their plans credible and they were
expected to come to fruition soon
Gono said ZABG might get a capital injection from NIEEB, which could be
between US$20 million and US$30 million.
“Recapitalization plans for two banking institutions require further
refinements to render them credible,” he said
Gono said banking institutions should cease making unilateral self
exaltations in any media as regards compliance with prudential requirements
including minimum capital, without seeking prior Reserve Bank approval.
“Any such unsanctioned declarations will attract appropriate regulatory
action. At all times, banking institutions will be required to comply with
the applicable minimum prudential requirements in respect of Asset Quality,
Management and Corporate Governance; Liquidity and Earnings,” he said
Gono said the Reserve Bank had finalized a blue print of its Banking Sector
Vision 2020. The vision is said to be centered around the pursuance of
banking sector solvency and stability to anchor sustained economic growth
“Within this context, the Reserve Bank envisions a banking sector by
December 2020 with the following key features, characteristics and
capabilities. A thriving banking sector with functional Lender of Last
Resort and active interbank market,” he said
It will also entail the establishment of universal banks and an integrated
framework. The vision will include adequately capitalized and competitive
banking sector with the ability to support the funding needs of the economy
and banks with ability to attract significant financial resources from both
local and international sources.
Gono said attendant liquidity shortages coupled with the absence of an
active inter-bank market, limited access to affordable external credit lines
and absence of Lender of Last Resort compounded the domestic operating
environment for banks.
Gono said this while president his Monetary Policy today, He said
notwithstanding this, the country’s banking sector remains generally safe
“This is despite the challenges faced by Royal Bank and Genesis Investment
Bank,” he said.
Royal bank is under curatorship, while Genesis surrendered its banking
Gono said underlying risks associated with adverse macroeconomic
developments and mismanagement at some banks provided fertile ground for
potential liquidity challenges and capital insolvency.
“Against this background, the Reserve Bank continues to vigilantly monitor
and rigorously apply risk based supervisory techniques geared at
facilitating the early detection of potential bank fragilities,” he said.
He said lending rates quoted by banks in 2012 remained high, in the backdrop
of deep-seated liquidity shortages as a consequence of limited access to
external credit lines and adverse balance of payments developments.
“The lending rates also reflected high Premiums charged by some banks,
irrespective of their cost structures”
Banks which have complied
CBZ Bank Limited - US$111,79 million
Standard Bank - US$56,50 million
Stanbic Bank - US$45,62 million
BancABC - US$38,42 million
Barclays Bank - US$34,30 million
ZB Bank - US$32,34 million
Kingdom Bank - US$28,79 million
Ecobank - US$28,18 million
FBC Bank - US$27,97 million
MBCA Bank -US$27,14 million
TN Bank- US$26,90 million
CABS - US$26,76 million
Tetrad - US$25,19 million
NMB Bank - US$25,01 million
Recapitalization Plans in Need of
BANK LEVEL OF CAPITALISATION
ZABG Bank - US$15,80 million
Capital Bank - US$7,50 million
Significant Progress Towards
Agribank -US$22,64 million
FBC Building Society- US$18,97 million
Trust Bank- US$18,70 million
Metbank -US$17,70 million
ZB Building Society -US$14,56 million
by Gilbert Nyambabvu
ZABG Bank, owned by Mines Minister Obert Mpofu, remains undercapitalised
with the central bank conceding it was concerned with the “credibility” of
the institution’s plans to comply with new minimum capital requirements.
According to figures released by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) chief,
Gideon Gono, Thursday, ZABG’s capitalisation stood at about US$16 million,
way below the US$25 million minimum threshold commercial banks were supposed
to have met by last December.
Gono said six other institutions were also still to meet the minimum
requirement but said five of these had made “significant progress in terms
of the credibility of their capitalization” plans.
The RBZ boss however said concern remained over ZABG and Capital Bank, whose
capitalisation levels are even more precarious at just over US$7 million.
“(However) two banking institutionshave recapitalization plans in need of
further improvement to render them credible,” said Gono.
A company linked to Mpofu injected US$22,8 million into ZABG last June to
help prevent the bank from collapse in a deal that gave the minister 100
percent control and left the institution in what was then described as a
healthy capital position.
Gono confirmed the transaction in a public spat with Empowerment Minister
Saviour Kasukuwere over the indigenisation of the country’s banking sector.
“The example of Minister of Mines Dr Obert Mpofu who came forward with his
money and sought permission to take over ZABG bank which was ailing then is
a case in point,” Gono said in a statement reacting to Kasukuwere’s threats
to target foreign-owned banks.
“We gave him two years within which to regularise the ownership structure of
that bank to a maximum of 25 per cent for any single shareholder which he
committed to do but for the time being he has put in money and is a 99,9 per
But within a few months of the rescue deal, the RBZ raised minimum capital
requirements for commercial banks to US$25 million from US$12.5 million,
leaving the institution again scrambling for more investment.
Still, Gono said Thursday that could get additional support of up to US$30
million from the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board
ZABG was formed following the amalgamation of several struggling financial
institutions after the 2003-05 financial crisis.
by Staff Reporter
CENTRAL bank chief, Gideon Gono has been dragged to the courts by the
state-owned NetOne Cellular over an unpaid US$805,996 mobile phone bill.
According to summons before the High Court, Gono was cited in his
representative capacity as the state-owned mobile phone firm presses for
payment of the bill which was accrued over a two year period.
But Gono has denied personal responsibility for the bill.
Said his lawyers: “The defendant as Governor pleads that the plaintiff’s
claim is bad in law to the extent that it cites him as such instead of
citing the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which is a body corporate with power to
sue and to be sued in terms of the RBZ Act.
“The plaintiff has not, prior to instituting legal action, complied with
Section 63 of the RBZ Act as read with Section 6 of the State Liabilities
Act. The plaintiff has not issued and served the defendant with notice of
intention to sue as required by the law.”
NetOne claims it reached an agreement with the central bank to supply the
institution with mobile telecommunication services and delivered contract
lines to the institution as part of the deal.
The company claims the contract ran between 2009 and 2011 but the RBZ failed
to pay for the services prompting the court action.
On Saturday, a spokesman for Gono accused NetOne of "the worst form of abuse
of people's names that we have ever witnessed".
"They are recycling an old debt story for which they were informed that they
should sue the Reserve Bank if they so wish, but to continue suing the
Governor personally reflects the ineptitude of not just their management but
their legal advisers," said spokesman Alson Mfiri.
"It's a bank debt and they know it. We agreed to offset that debt against
over US$2 million they owe the RBZ in payments made on their behalf to their
overseas creditors but pettiness and personal hatred of the Govenor
continues to drive them to personalise issues."
Saturday, 02 February 2013 00:00
Obert Chifamba Senior Reporter
THE Zimbabwe National Roads Administration is struggling to cope with demand
for vehicle licence renewals amid revelations their system was down.
Motorists said yesterday that they had failed to
renew their licences owing to long queues at Harare Main Post Office and CBZ
“I went to Zimpost yesterday (Thursday) and found that there was a very long
queue and their system was taking very long to process licences, so I had to
go away,” Harare motorist Miss Norest Chinake said.
Another motorist, Gibson Tanga said he had been advised to return on Monday
or Tuesday when the queues would have cleared.
A third motorist, however, said she was going to secure the licence through
NMB Bank, which is an agent of Zinara
Zinara head-administration and human resources Mr Precious Murove conceded
that they had been facing challenges with their system, but said they had
since addressed the issue.
“Our system was down yesterday (Thursday) but we have managed to address the
problem and we are working normally as you can see.
“On Thursday we only managed to process 9 000 licences because of the
problem. Under normal circumstances, we do between 20 000 and 25 000
licences a day,” he said.
He added that they had so far renewed the licences of 230 000 vehicles out
of the 418 000 vehicles in their database.
They have engaged CBZ Bank, ZABG Bank, Met Bank and Zimpost to be their
agents through which motorists can buy or renew their licences.
Zinara, he said, would not be penalising motorists for failing to renew
their licences until the 30-day reprieve provided for in the Roads Act
expires at the end of this month.
“Our system is automated to start charging penalties for late licence
renewals only after 30 days so we cannot penalise anyone before that period
“I am not suggesting that the public should shelve plans to renew their
“It is only Zinara that will not be on their case, but the police will be
arresting motorists for using vehicles with expired licences so the public
must hasten to acquire new licences if they had not,” he said.
Mr Murove said their head office and the other office at the Harare Show
Ground would remain open during weekends until the renewal of licences was
Zimbabwe has a vehicle population of around 800 000, although many vehicles
may have been omitted when the estimates were done for various reasons, said
He said only 51 percent of the vehicles were in their records before adding
that the rest were likely to be registered with the Central Vehicle
Mr Murove challenged the public not to wait for the last minute to renew
He said the situation would create unnecessary pressure and anxiety among
stakeholders yet they should start renewing licences well ahead of the dates
The penalty for late renewal of licences is 100 percent of the arrears,
which means that if the arrears are for a small vehicle for which US$20 is
required, then the penalty would be US$40 plus US$5 administration fee.
Saturday, 02 February 2013 00:00
Isdore Guvamombe in MADRID, Spain
The United Nations World Tourism Organisation has helped Zimbabwe come up
with a Tourism Master Plan that should see the country’s tourism and
hospitality industry more than double in growth and tourist arrivals by
In an interview at the UNWTO headquarters in Madrid, Spain, the organisation’s
director for technical co-operation and service Dr Harsh Varma, said under
the plan that is now awaiting a launch in Harare in a few weeks, Zimbabwe
will be helped to increase its tourist arrivals from 2,2 million to 5
million in two years.
“The master plan takes into cognisance Zimbabwe’s political, economic,
social, cultural, technical and geographical aspects and when implemented
should see tourist arrivals increase from the 2010 figure of 2,2 million to
5 million in 2015.
“Jobs in the industry should increase from the current 200 000 to 450 000 by
the same year, while the country’s contribution to the Gross Domestic
Product will increase from 9,1 percent to 15 percent by the same year,’’
said Dr Varma.
Asked how he had come up with the fugures, Dr Varma, who met with the
Minister of Tourism and Hospitality Industry Walter Mzembi, early yesterday
morning, said there was wide consultation and investigation on the situation
on the ground in Zimbabwe, during the crafting of the plan.
“We have been in touch with the Government of Zimbabwe especially the
Ministry of Tourism and based on the consultations that we carried out, we
formulated a situation analysis which we have used to formulate a final
project document which was discussed with your Minister this morning.
“The idea is to create a long term sustainable Tourism Master Plan for the
country which will guide growth and development of the sector for the next
“Apart from the major role that will be played by national authority in
terms of national policy formulation and strategy, there will be major role
by provincial and district government in terms of the indication of the
country’s new Constitution. This is going to be a highly integrated
Dr Varma said the country’s geography, culture and tourist resorts has also
played a major role in coming up with the master plan.
“We are aiming at geographical diversification and equitable development and
the benefits of that development should accrue to all areas of the society.
We are also going to thematic diversification, using resources ranging from
culture, nature, wildlife and art,” he said.
He said the idea is that Zimbabwe should be able to stand on its own as a
tourism hub of Southern Africa and Africa itself.
The country, he said, should not depend on one product, it should not walk
down on narrow product supply when there is a lot of diversity on its
by Staff Reporter
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s son Chatunga Bellarmine is now “home schooling”
after he was expelled from St George’s College for indiscipline, a newspaper
reported on Friday.
The 16-year-old, the last born of Mugabe’s three children with wife, Grace,
“was on a last warning and has been sent packing for gross indiscipline and
insubordination”, The Daily News reported, citing school sources.
Chatunga, named after Mugabe’s grandfather, was reportedly suspended for a
week last year after falling foul of strict rules at the Catholic-run school
which is barely a kilometre from Mugabe’s Borrowdale residence.
It is claimed that school authorities finally decided to expel him after a
fresh round of “clashes”, although the official line is that it was a
We were unable to independently verify The Daily News report, with school
authorities refusing to take questions.
Lawrence Kamwi, the First Family’s spokesman, is reported as telling the
newspaper: “Very well, let your sources confirm that he was expelled from
President Mugabe, a former teacher, is a stickler for discipline and if
reports of his son being expelled from school are true, he would be doubly
disappointed after Chatunga’s brother, Robert Jnr, failed his A’ Levels at
Kutama College in 2011.
Mugabe publicly expressed his disappointment with the 19-year-old’s grades.
He revealed: “‘How are you doing,’ we would ask him. ‘The papers were not
hard,’ he would say.
“We expected he would get through, but no, he became an undertaker! ‘U’s!
That is why they call them undertakers! The whole group were all
undertakers; about six of them.”
Mugabe has spoken glowingly of his 24-year-old daughter, Bona, who graduated
with a degree in accounting from City University in Hong Kong.
He said of Bona: “The girl was not like that [Robert Junior]. We are with
her for now. She wants to be a chartered accountant. We are very happy for
“She will be wanting to get married in a year or two, perhaps. They don’t
wait. She is a home girl though, not as outgoing as her brother.”
Both Mugabe's sons are keen CAPS United fans. They attended over
half-a-dozen football matches last year, including national team games.
(AFP) – 9 hours ago
HARARE — Zimbabwe has finally hired a hangman after seven years of
searching, but he has not yet executed any of the 76 people on death row, a
top prisons official has said.
"Indeed, we now have a hangman," Prison Service Commissioner Paradzai
Zimondi was quoted as saying in Saturday's edition of The Herald, Zimbabwe's
The post was filled last year by a candidate the paper speculated was of
Malawian origin. The previous executioner retired in 2005.
The government had repeatedly advertised the job in the press, but it took a
long time to find takers.
Of the 16,902 criminals being held in Zimbabwe's jails, 76 of them are
awaiting the hangman's noose, Zimondi said.
"These people are still to be executed. In fact no one has been executed in
the past 12 years," he said.
Some death row inmates were convicted more than 14 years ago but were still
appealing their cases when the previous hangman retired.
Two death row prisoners are women, who may be spared the noose if a new
constitution is adopted in a referendum sometime this year.
Zimbabwe's new draft constitution exempts women and anyone under 21 or above
70 from the death penalty.
Saturday, 02 February 2013 00:00
Evelene Taadira Herald Reporter
SEVENTY-SIX inmates, two of them female, are languishing in prison awaiting
The State recently announced that the hangman’s post had been filled. The
post had no takers for 12 years.
Zimbabwe Prison Service Commissioner Retired General Paradzai Zimondi told
journalists that the prisoners are awaiting execution despite the Government
having appointed a hangman.
The journalists were on a media tour of Harare Central Remand Prisons
“Indeed, we now have a hangman but these people are still to be executed. In
fact, no one has been executed in the past 12 years,” he said.
The new hangman, believed to be Malawian, ended an eight-year search mid
last year, with a backlog of 71 people on his hands.
The waiting list has, however, increased in the past months.
Rtd Gen Zimondi said Zimbabwe’s prisons were holding 16 902 inmates.
He said only 587 of these were women and 124 were juveniles.
The prisons chief said 69 babies were staying with their mothers in
different prisons across Zimbabwe.
“Generally, we are not experiencing overcrowding since all our prisons have
a combined holding capacity of 17 000.
“However, we are experiencing overcrowding mainly in remand prisons as
people continue to commit crimes while those waiting for trial and
sentencing are taking long to be convicted,” he said.
Harare Central Remand Prison holds 611 inmates in its different sections,
and 274 are foreigners.
Rtd Gen Zimondi said the Immigration Department, together with various
embassies, were responsible footing the bills of those to be deported.
In the past, foreigners have languished in remand prison for years after
failure to raise funds for air tickets to their home countries.
Rtd Gen Zimondi lamented financial constraints bedevilling ZPS, saying these
were affecting efforts to carry out the mandate of incarcerating,
rehabilitating and reintegrating offenders into society.
“Some of our infrastructure needs upgrading.
“It is disturbing to note that the service is failing to satisfactorily
provide all these necessities mainly due to inadequate funding from the
“It is not a secret that in the past decade that the country has experienced
serious economic hardships that severely affected our operations,” he said.
In an interview, Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs chief
legal officer Mrs Priscilla Mbanga said delays in the trial of prisoners
were as a result of flaws in the legal system.
“The delays in trial and conviction are a result of many reasons amongst
them absenteeism of witnesses. In the meantime, the nation should know that
judges have a code of conduct judging their activities and hence will react
to situations professionally,” she said.
There are 46 prisons in Zimbabwe.
by Staff Reporter
A GROUP of Satanists is causing a stir at Harare Remand Prison, where they
are demanding to be allowed to worship freely.
Prison authorities admit they are at a loss over what to do with the men
from Rwanda and Democratic Republic of Congo who claim to be Satanists.
“They are afraid to take us to court because they know we did nothing
wrong,” George Lungange, wearing prison garb written “Super Devil” told
journalists during a tour of the facility on Friday. “There is freedom of
worship in Zimbabwe, we should be freed.”
Prison authorities say they wanted to deport the three ring leaders, a
Rwandan and two Congolese nationals, but the duo was long granted refugee
status, meaning they are in Zimbabwe legally.
“We initially thought they were illegal immigrants, but then we realised
they had been granted refugee status,” a prison official said. “If we
release them they have to go to Tongogarara Refugee Camp and that is where
we fear what will happen.”
Unperturbed, the two alleged devil worshippers say they are going on with
their work and have managed to recruit more inmates into their world of
“What we want is freedom from God, we want freedom to do wrong,” another
Satanist from the Democratic Republic of Congo said.
The trio has since written to prison authorities asking for paraphernalia
for them to conduct their religion.
Among other things, they asked for a razor blade, a red coffin and red
garments, but the prison officials are having none of it.
Lungange, Brangsto from DRC and Rwandese Busy Mana Thenetse were arrested
last year after they filed an application with the Ministry of Labour and
Social Welfare to establish the church at the Tongogora Refugee Camp
Four illegal gold panners died instantly another was seriously injured
Thursday evening in Penhalonga when an abandoned mine shaft they were
scouring for gold deposits in collapsed on top of them.
The bodies of the deceased and the injured were all taken to Mutare
There was sorrow at the homes of the four deceased - Michael Chapeta, Moses
Chikwara, Virimai Tembo and one indentified as Jealous.
They were panning for gold in a 17-metre deep mine shaft in Tsvingwe,
Penhalonga, witnesses said. Survivor Joseph Makoni is reportedly being
treated at the Mutare provincial hospital where his condition is said to be
Chapota’s survibing brother, Wellington, said he was lucky not to have got
into the mine shaft at the time.
The surviving Chapota said people in the area assisted in the recovery of
the bodies helped the survivor escape the mine shaft.
Jealousy Chipoka said the collapse of the mine shaft was unexpected.
Mutasa South Member of Parliament, Misheck Kagurabadza, said he was touched
by the loss of life, adding that people must be empowered to ensure they do
not risk their lives.
Manicaland provincial spokesperson Enock Chishiri confirmed he had heard
about incident but did not want to comment as he did not have the details.
Dear Family and Friends,
Yellow might be the colour of cowardice but as January came to an end,
it would be more appropriate to describe yellow as the colour of
foreboding in Zimbabwe. After a month of almost daily rain in which
many places received half of their annual rainfall in less than thirty
days, it was with considerable trepidation that the view from the
window was contemplated when the heavens finally dried up.
In urban areas roadside maize planted illegally in any and every open
space is a contradictory hotchpotch of disaster and bonanza. People
who had built up contours around their little self apportioned plots
and added compost, fertilizer and mulch are smiling all over their
faces. Their maize is towering, the leaves dark, glossy green and cobs
full and ripening.
‘Help yourself,’ a man said when I complimented him on his crop.
One cob was selected and snapped off, not too big that it would be
tough, not too small that the kernels wouldn’t be sufficiently
formed. It took only a couple of minutes to cook, the leaves getting
paler and thinner as they were peeled back to the centre. The mouth
watered and fingers burned as the fine, soft yellow silks that lie
between the lines of plump, juicy kernels were picked out; a few
smears with the butter knife, salt, pepper: heaven.
Right next to this bounty are the little plots of people who planted
and ignored: no compost or fertilizer, no cultivating and worst of all
this year, no contours to save the soil. Incessant rains have left
these squares heavily washed, any goodness long gone, the plants
yellow and scrawny, some trying to promise a cob or two, but most
failing and flailing in the breeze.
Then there’s the view from the country window, the roadside farms.
Oh my word what a fearful foreboding this sight gives for our country
in the coming months. Almost everything looks to be too late. People
were still planting maize after Christmas and into early January, too
late in the best of seasons. Then the heavens opened and the rains
didn’t stop for three or more weeks. Instead of being head high and
with their flowers waving in the wind, the maize plants are barely
calf high, in some places ankle high, and almost everywhere it is
pale, sickly yellow, you can almost hear it pleading for a few
handfuls of fertilizer but it’s too late.
Away from the depressing little squares of yellow and trying not think
where our broke government will find the money to import food needed
to replace these failed crops, spirits lift at the glorious natural
yellow everywhere else. In the wild open spaces that we collectively
call ‘the bush,’ there’s an explosion of yellow in the carpets
of wild flowers. In some places it’s a bright, dazzling yellow and
in others it’s a quiet, soothing, ‘mellow yellow,’ as hypnotic
as the song of the sixties. And for those lucky enough to be in the
right place at the right time, there are exquisite pure yellow flame
lilies trailing in the grass, climbing up the rocks, waiting to be
discovered and admired, just breathtaking . Until next time, thanks
for reading. Love cathy. 2nd February 2013. Copyright � Cathy Buckle.
February 1, 2013, 1:35 pm
It really looks as if Zimbabwe is edging closer to a new constitution at
last. The draft document still has to get through parliament and then be put
to the people in a referendum, though how exactly that is going to be paid
for is not clear. The Finance Minister has once again appealed to the
international community for cash to finance both the referendum and the
There has been much talk in the UK recently about the possible holding of a
referendum on Scottish Independence and it was enlightening to hear experts
talking about how important it is to get the wording of the question right.
For example, “Do you think Scotland should be independent?” is subtly
different from “Ought Scotland to be independent?” though it might take a
linguistics expert to appreciate the subtlety! Where you have a
multi-lingual electorate, this problem is likely to be even more
complicated. English is Zimbabwe’s official language but even those whose
mother tongue is English may not always appreciate the difference between
‘Should’ and ‘Ought’; in other words the question to be asked must be
absolutely clear and without ambiguity.
It will, of course, be a pre-requisite that the electorate have actually
read the lengthy document for themselves. Campaigning for a NO response has
already started with individual issues exciting much comment and analysis in
the media. It is reported that Zanu PF have approved the draft and last week
it was further reported that Mugabe had bragged in the politburo that he had
outwitted the MDC on constitutional issues. Indeed, the COPAC negotiator,
Paul Mangwana has revealed that Mugabe virtually dictated the draft. The
president’s own position has certainly been protected and it seems that
Mugabe could rule for another ten years under the new constitution - always
assuming he lives that long. The suggestion that the document is the result
of a deal by the political elite appears to have some merit. It will,
however, be the Zimbabwean people themselves who decide on whether they
accept this new constitution but the wording of the referendum question
remains all-important. Is it to be a straight “Do you accept this draft
constitution - Yes or No”? If that is the case, a ‘Yes’ vote would imply
that the voter is presumed to accept all the clauses, even those of which he
may not approve. The revelation that this new constitution includes features
which many people will find unacceptable is not surprising given the heavy
political influence on the drafting process. A constitution enshrines the
fundamental principles on which a state is governed and embodies the rights
of subjects in that state. Zimbabwe’s new draft constitution includes the
contentious matter of land apportion and makes the current spate of land
takeovers a constitutional right. As for the matter of discrimination, it is
apparently allowable providing, as Chapter 5, section 5 states: “unless it
is established that the discrimination is fair, reasonable, and justified in
a democratic society based on openness, justice, human dignity, equality and
freedom.” Perhaps that statement makes sense to some but I find it no better
than gobbledygook; surely, discrimination in a democratic society is never
justified, it is always unfair and unreasonable. The news today that the
pro-Zanu PF Al Shabab terror group in Kwekwe has violently disrupted a
meeting where the draft document was being discussed illustrates the
intolerance that is the hallmark of Zanu PF politics Zimbabweans will hope
that the presence of SADC observers at the referendum may lessen the
possibility of the ensuing violence.
Yours in the (continuing) struggle, Pauline Henson.