5 February 2009
MEDIA RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Zim farmers protected by SADC tribunal ruling targeted by Zanu PF
In the Matabeleland North Province of Zimbabwe, police appear to be trying to arrest anyone who was involved with the landmark farm test case that was taken to the SADC Tribunal in Windhoek, Namibia.
Josphat Tsuma, a lawyer with Webb Lowe and Barry in Bulawayo, and current President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, received warning that anyone who had gone to try to redress wrongs at the SADC Tribunal was to be arrested by the police.
Chief Superintendent Matsika arrived with a group of policemen at the Bulawayo home of Chris Jarrett, a commercial farmer who has been forced off his land in 2002, on the afternoon of 4 February.
They tried arrest him but Jarrett managed to hold them off until he had contacted his lawyer.
Jarrett was last incarcerated in September 2002 when the police put him in jail for remaining on his farm. He has not been able to live on his farm or undertake farming operations in anyway since that date.
The SADC Tribunal ordered the Zimbabwean Government to compensate Jarrett, who is currently vice president of the Southern African Commercial Farmers’ Alliance (SACFA), for having lost his farm.
The police said they wanted to arrest Jarrett because, according to them, he still has some of his property on his farm. It is unclear under what law they intend to charge him.
Eight men in the same two vehicles as were used yesterday, a white Mitsubishi pickup and a Nissan twin cab, returned this morning and took him away.
Jarrett was able to drive his own Mazda pickup with one of the plain clothes men. The other two cars were in front of and behind him.
It is unclear as to his whereabouts at this stage and there is mounting concern.
Police are also reported to be looking for other farmers in Matabeleland North who were given protection by the SADC Tribunal.
So far they have arrested Harry Greaves and Gary Godfrey, both of whom were intervener applicants in the Campbell case.
The Propol (Officer Commanding the Province) for Matabeleland North is Assistant Commissioner Vetorai. The Assistant Commissioner is currently trying to take the home and farm of Digby Nesbitt in Masvingo Province.
Nesbitt was given protection by the SADC Tribunal but Vetorai is ignoring this protection.
News just received is that Phil Rogers from Matabeleland North and Robert (Sticks) McKersie from Chinhoyi have also been arrested.
Judge Luis Mondlane, president of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) tribunal, said in his judgement, delivered on 28 November last year, that Mr Mugabe’s government had violated the treaty governing the 15-nation regional bloc by trying to seize the white-owned farms.
In view of this, he said the government was in breach of the SADC treaty with regards to discrimination.
Jude Mondlane said the 78 applicants had a clear legal title for their farms, but had been denied access to the judiciary in Zimbabwe.
Three of the 78 farmers had previously been forced from their land, and the court ruled that the government had also violated the treaty by failing to pay them fair compensation.
With respect to the remaining 75 farmers, Judge Mondlane ordered the government "to take all measures to protect the possessions and ownership" of their land.
"No actions may be taken by insurgents and others to interfere with or disturb the peaceful activities of the remaining 75 applicants," he said.
By treaty, the court's rulings are binding.
When Zanu PF signed Zimbabwe’s Global Political Agreement on 15 September last year, they undertook to work together with both formations of the Movement for Democratic Change to “create a genuine, viable, permanent, sustainable and nationally acceptable solution to the crisis.”
With respect to agriculture, they undertook “to work together for the restoration of full productivity on all agricultural land.”
“Zanu PF also undertook to respect and uphold the constitution and other laws of the land, and to adhere to the principles of the Rule of Law.”
For further information
Chris Jarrett: Tel: +263 9 240 841 or care of David Conolly Cell: +263 11 431 068
Chief Superintendent Matsika: Tel: +263 81 30573 or Cell: +263 912 465 774
reprieve for independent media
In the past decade, while Zimbabwe lurched from one political crisis to another and the economy went into freefall, the independent media were lambasted by President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF government for their often critical views, and subjected to increasingly repressive media laws.
In January 2009 the Media and Information Commission (MIC), which is staffed by members of ZANU-PF, began targeting the remaining pockets of independent media houses and journalists by instituting huge accreditation fees.
The MIC is meant to be defunct but its replacement body, the Zimbabwe Media Commission - to be comprised of parliamentary appointees - has yet to be constituted in terms of a 2008 amendment of the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA).
The new fee structures mean local journalists employed by foreign media houses have to pay a US$1,000 application fee, with a further US$3,000 annual accreditation fee.
Temporary accreditation for visiting journalists is pegged at US$500, while journalists from the Southern African Development Community (SADC) will pay a "complimentary" accreditation fee of US$150, and journalists from the rest of Africa will be charged US$200.
All foreign news agencies, including those from Africa, are required to pay a non-refundable US$10,000 application fee and, if their application is successful, a further annual fee of US$20,000 to operate in Zimbabwe, as well as a US$2,000 "complimentary administration fee".
Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, said the new fees were a result of the president being misquoted by foreign news agencies in December 2008, after he declared the cholera crisis over.
During a live one-hour television broadcast, the 85-year-old president said the disease had been "arrested", and "So now that there is no cholera, there is no cause for war anymore. We need doctors, not soldiers."
His comments came at a time when there were widespread calls for a military intervention to depose Mugabe, and the cholera death toll since August 2008 had climbed to more than 700, with over 16,000 cases reported.
According to the UN, up to 4 February 2009, 3,350 people had died from cholera and 67,567 cases had been reported, including 1,828 new cases reported in the previous 24-hour period.
Zimbabwe's economic meltdown has not left the media houses untouched, and journalists number among the 94 percent of people unemployed, making it difficult to freelance, as few can afford the fees, or find work with foreign news agencies.
The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), a body representing the welfare and rights of Zimbabwean reporters, condemned the new fee structure as a censorship ploy. "The present government is totally against a free and vibrant press," ZUJ president Matthew Takaona told IRIN.
"We know that its strategy, after closing down most local newspapers, radio and television stations that provided an alternative source of information, is to make it difficult for any critical foreign media to operate from Zimbabwe," he said.
"We want the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act to be repealed. We are also demanding that the MDC and ZANU-PF stop proceeding with sections of the Constitutional Amendment Number 19, which seek to establish statutory regulation of the media through the proposed Media Commission ... Any amendments to the media law must involve media practitioners," Takaona said.
MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa told IRIN: "the MDC is strongly against these punitive regulations, which are an attempt by the regime to silence the remaining small but vibrant media in the country. Since the enactment of AIPPA in 2002, the ZANU-PF government has made every effort to make it difficult for journalists to operate in country - they have bombed printing presses and closed five newspapers."
Chamisa said the MIC was an "illegal body", and was not entitled to introduce registration and accreditation fees, and the move had illustrated a "lack of sincerity" by ZANU-PF in adhering to the terms of the new unity government.
"The exorbitant fees being touted means that press freedom has been dollarised, much to the detriment of ordinary Zimbabweans, who are starved of information," he said.
The exorbitant fees being touted means
that press freedom has been dollarised, much to the detriment of ordinary
Zimbabweans, who are starved of information
Simba Rushwaya, a journalist based in the capital, Harare, said a settlement among politicians would not automatically translate into an open media environment.
"That is why, if you examine the power-sharing deal, [you will find that] other than the right political noises about freedom of expression and processing applications for registration, it is very vague on self-regulation and freedom of the media, which should make journalists very vigilant."
ZIM FARMERS RELEASED AFTER NIGHT IN FILTHY POLICE CELL
6 February 2009
Zim farmers released after night in filthy police cell
SADC Tribunal protected farmers, Chris Jarrett  and Gary Godfrey , spent the night in police custody at Donnington police station in Bulawayo.
Yesterday the police were not able to give them the charge under which they were being detained. As a result, the police had no docket to get into the magistrates' court in Bulawayo yesterday.
Information leaked to Josphat Tshuma, President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, indicated that anyone who had been part of the SADC Tribunal action was due to be arrested and detained.
A police action in Matabeleland North headed by Chief Superintendant Matsika sought to try to arrest anyone who had been part of this legal case with Mike Campbell of Mount Carmel farm, Chegutu.
Chris Jarrett, Vice President of the Southern African Commercial Farmers Alliance [SACFA], has not been able to live in his house or farm his farm for six years. The SADC Tribunal has ordered that he should be paid compensation by the Zimbabwe Government for the takeover of his farm, Riverbank. As yet no moves have been made by the Zimbabwe government to do so.
Jarrett and Godfrey spent the night in a cell just 2.5 metres by 3.5 metres. They were with five other people. There was a blocked toilet in the corner and they report that conditions are highly conducive to the spread of cholera. Already there have been over 60,000 cases of cholera in Zimbabwe with over 3,000 dying from this disease.
Today they were taken to Treadgold, the Magistrate Court in Bulawayo. The prosecutor found that the police had still not found any law under which the detainees could be charged. They have both been released from detention.
by Simplicious Chirinda
Friday 06 February 2009
Zimbabwean police on Thursday arrested three white farmers, in what appeared a campaign targeting farmers who successfully challenged the government’s controversial land reforms at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) Tribunal.
The three farmers, Chris Jarret, Godfrey Goosen and Saul Rogers were part of a group of about 78 farmers that won a ruling at the Tribunal declaring President Robert Mugabe’s chaotic and often violent programme to seize white-owned land for redistribution to landless blacks discriminatory and illegal under the SADC Treaty.
The Tribunal ordered the Harare administration not to evict the farmers from their properties and to compensate those it had already chased off farms - a ruling the Zimbabwean authorities have ignored.
One of the farmers, who was part of the group that appealed to the regional Tribunal, said his colleagues had been arrested but no charge had been laid against them.
"I can confirm that the three farmers have been arrested but their lawyer Josphat Tshuma has not been told what their crime is though they are already behind bars," he said.
According to the farmer the arrests may be an attempt to intimidate some of the farmers who have already lost their farms from claiming compensation.
Police were not immediately available for comment on the arrests.
Government farm seizures which started in 2000 have resulted in the majority of the about 4 500 white farmers being forcibly ejected from their properties without being paid compensation for the land, which Harare has refused to pay for saying it was stolen from blacks in the first place.
The government has compensated some farmers for developments on the land such as dams and farm buildings and says it is committed to compensating all farmers for such improvements.
Land redistribution, that Mugabe says was necessary to correct a colonial land ownership system that reserved the best land for whites and banished blacks to poor soils, is blamed for plunging Zimbabwe into food shortages after Harare failed to support black villagers resettled on former white farms with inputs to maintain production.
Critics say Mugabe’s cronies - and not ordinary peasants - benefited the most from farm seizures with some of them ending up with as many as six farms each against the government’s stated one-man-one-farm policy.
Poor performance in the mainstay agricultural sector has also had far reaching consequences as hundreds of thousands of workers have lost jobs while the manufacturing sector, starved of inputs from the sector, is operating below 20 percent of capacity.
by Wayne Mafaro Thursday
05 February 2009
A Zimbabwe High Court judge has accused President Robert Mugabe’s family of using political muscle to wrestle a farm allocated to him during the land seizures.
Court documents in our possession filed on November 10 last year show that High Court Judge Ben Hlatshwayo had been allocated Gwina Farm, located in Banket, Zvimba District, in Mashonaland West province and measures approximately 580 hectares.
Hlatshwayo’s affidavit exposes Mugabe and his family as multiple farm owners through their company Gushungo Holdings that carries out farming activities at Mazowe Farm, Sigaro Farm, Leverdale Farm and Bassiville Farm.
Gushungo Holdings is cited as the first respondent and the Minister of State for National Security, Land Reform and Resettlement is cited as the second respondent.
Hlatshwayo said that the “unlawful conduct” by Gushungo Holdings amounted to spoliation and that service of the application was likely to lead to “more perverse conduct with serious consequences for stability at the farm, security and safety of equipment and processes”.
He said he was invited to a meeting with State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa who informed him that his farm was required by Grace Mugabe.
“At the meeting which was attended by ministers Mutasa, Patrick Chinamasa (Justice) and Joseph Made (Agricultural Mechanisation), I was informed that the farm was required by the First Lady (Grace Mugabe), and that attempts would be made to secure for me alternative land,” said Hlatshwayo.
Since then, emissaries of the First Lady have been frequenting the farm and issuing out instructions to workers, the documents say.
“There is clearly no lawful basis for such interference which conduct, by its very nature amounts to spoliation. It is obvious that 1st Respondent (Gushungo Holdings), in particular, is intent upon imposing his will regardless of observing due process of the law, and that in doing so, appears to be bringing the name of the First lady of Zimbabwe into disrepute,” said Hlatshwayo.
“Additionally, and as is manifest and/or implied from the Founding Affidavit, this application has underlying political overtones, the nature of which is likely to give risk to preserve conduct on the part of, in particular, 1st Respondent,” the affidavit said.
In his opposing affidavit, Mutasa said that Hlatshwayo had been allocated alternative land at ARDA Transau, Mutare District.
For the 2008/9 agricultural season, Hlatshwayo has been contracted under National Foods’ Security Champion Farmer Programme to plant 200 hectares of commercial maize, which is in line with “national effort to end the hunger currently ravishing the land”.
He is also under contract with seed-making company Seed Co to plant 50 hectares of seed maize, 30 hectares of seed soya and 40 hectares of seed sorghum.
The matter has not been given a date for hearing.
Zimbabwe’s 43-year-old First Lady was in the headlines two weeks ago after she allegedly assaulted a free-lance photographer for taking pictures of her while she was shopping in Hong Kong in an incident said to have been caught on CCTV cameras.
Hlatshwayo chaired the commission that drew up a constitution that was rejected in a referendum in 2000, handing Mugabe's first electoral defeat, which presaged the start of the land invasions weeks later.
The High Court judge has been operating Gwina Farm in “quiet, undisturbed, peaceful possession, occupation and production” since December 2002 after he forced off its owner, Vernon Nicol who is now in Australia, at the height of Mugabe’s chaotic and often violent farm seizures.
Once a regional breadbasket, Zimbabwe is in the grip of a severe economic crisis and food shortages that Mugabe blames on poor weather and Western sanctions he says have hampered importation of fertilizers, seed, and other farming inputs.
Critics blame Zimbabwe's troubles on repression and wrong polices by Mugabe such as his land reforms that displaced established white commercial farmers and replaced them with either incompetent or inadequately funded black farmers leading to a massive drop in farm production.
Out of about 4 500 white commercial farmers in Zimbabwe in 2000, only about 300 remain on farms after Mugabe evicted the rest and parcelled out their land to blacks, most of them supporters of his ZANU PF party and government.
Mugabe has defended the chaotic and often violent farm seizures as necessary to correct a colonial land tenure system that reserved most of the best arable land for whites while blacks were banished to arid and poor lands.
But critics say Mugabe’s cronies - and not ordinary peasants - benefited the most from farm seizures with some of them ending up with as many as six farms each against the government’s stated one-man-one-farm policy.
A regional Southern African Development Community Tribunal ruled last November that Mugabe’s programme to seize white-owned land for redistribution to landless blacks was racist and illegal under the SADC Treaty.
However Mugabe’s government, which under the SADC Treaty is required to uphold decisions of the Tribunal, has ignored the ruling while top government officials and supporters of the ruling ZANU PF party have continued to evict white farmers.
Zimbabwe has been hit by a cholera outbreak that the UN says has killed 3 229 people and infected 62 909 others across the country - the worst death toll in Africa from an outbreak of the normally preventable disease in 15 years -compounding the southern African country’s humanitarian crisis.
Zimbabweans hope a SADC-brokered unity government between Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai would help ease the political situation and allow the country to focus on tackling the economic crisis and humanitarian crisis.
February 5, 2009
By Our Correpondents
Rudo Grace Charamba, the wife of President Mugabe’s press secretary, George Charamba, has protested at the inclusion of her name on the EU sanctions list.
She says she has approached EU to plead for the removal of her name but in vain.
Aged 45, Rudo Charamba, who now describes herself as the former wife of George Charamba is described on the list as a supporter and beneficiary of the regime through close association with a key member of the Government.
She explains that while the two are not officially divorced she and George Charamba parted ways and have lived separately since 2004. In fact, George Charamba has since remarried and has a son out of the second wedlock.
Rudo Charamba told The Zimbabwe Times that she had tried “everything possible” to get her name off the sanctions list as she believes she does not deserve to be included, given her circumstances.
“I am still officially married to George only because I cannot afford to file for divorce,” she said. “I am out of employment and I am not well.”
She was admitted to hospital for two weeks in January.
“He used to assault me. I reported to the police after one particularly heavy assault in 2004. He left me our home thereafter and he now lives with his second wife.”
She said she no longer used the name Charamba and was not in any way associated with the President’s press secretary. She said she did not in any way benefit from any association with him.
“I have remained quiet because I wanted to protect my children but I cannot continue to suffer like this,” she pleaded.
The latest expanded European Union (EU) sanctions list has caused alarm and despondency at Herald House and Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation’s Pockets Hill headquarters in Borrowdale.
Top officials within the state media empire are said to be alarmed by the inclusion of their names on the expanded EU sanctions list amid reports alarm bells are ringing loud.
The latest EU sanctions list released on January 26 includes six practising journalists and four media executives accused by the EU of having “blood on their hands” for inciting violence against President Mugabe’s critics.
The list includes Happison Muchechetere, the acting chief executive of ZBC, Herald editor-in-chief Pikirayi Deketeke, and Herbert Nkala, the chairman of Zimbabwe Newspapers (1980) Pvt Ltd (Zimpapers), which publishes The Herald. The EU accuses the newspaper of printing “State propaganda”.
Nkala is also chair of First Banking Corporation - a bank in which Mugabe’s Zanu-PF party has a significant shareholding.
The chief executive of the government’s Zimbabwe Inter-Africa News Agency (ZIANA), Munyaradzi Matanyaire, is also accused by the EU of having “ties to the Government and being involved in activities that seriously undermine freedom of expression and the media”.
A surprise inclusion is the name of Patricia Made, a former director of Inter-Press Service (IPS). She is married to Joseph Made the Minister of Agriculture Mechanization. Patricia Made is accused of being a “supporter and beneficiary of the regime through close association with a key member of the Government and involved in activities that have undermined freedom of expression and the media”.
Significantly, the list names Dr Tafataona Mahoso, the former chairman of the now defunct Media and Information Commission, a media licensing authority which has been responsible for the closure of four newspapers over the past five years and has been in the forefront of spearheading media repression.
The sanctions list has hit the entire gamut of officials within the State media empire to include even relatively junior staffers such as Musorowegomo Mukosi, a producer at ZBC.
The EU says Mukosi “whipped up the government-orchestrated terror campaign before and during the 2008 elections”.
The ZBC diplomatic correspondent Judith Makwanya, 45, is also accused of whipping up the State terror campaign in the run-up to the sham one-man June 27 presidential run-off election.
Reuben Barwe, 55, is accused of the same charges.
Herald deputy editor Caesar Zvayi and the political editor of The Sunday Mail, Munyaradzi Huni, are also accused of whipping up the terror campaign before and during the elections.
A media monitoring watchdog in Zimbabwe has previously accused the state-controlled media of using the same strategy as Rwanda’s “hate radio” which incited the violence that led to the deaths of about a million people there in 1994.
During the campaigns for the March 29 harmonised and the June 27 presidential elections both ZBC’s television and radio services and the Zimpapers group denied media space to the opposition in contemptuous violation of SADC guidelines on elections and their own rules on election coverage which prescribe equity in space and airtime allowed to all contesting parties.
A report by the Harare-based Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, the country’s independent media watchdog said “they were also, at the same time, accomplices to murder.”
The report outlines Mugabe’s propaganda war, directed by his controversial spokesman Charamba, with the State media conspicuously silent on hundreds of deaths and thousands of cases of torture, assault, arson and destruction of homes in state-driven lawlessness.
“No longer is it adequate to say they are politically biased,” the report said. “The state broadcaster and Zimbabwe Newspapers, led by the daily Herald in Harare, broadcast “deliberately untrue and inflammatory statements” that have “the effect of inciting people to violence.
“When one day, the perpetrators of violence are held to account, those who incited them with ‘hate speech’ should not be forgotten”, MMPZ says.
WASHINGTON, Feb 5 2009
As the Zimbabwean parliament approves the power-sharing deal between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, the new administration of U.S. President Barack Obama says it will look for concrete change in the way the country is governed before deciding U.S. policy.
"The success or failure of such a government will depend on credible and inclusive power-sharing by Robert Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party," Robert Wood, acting spokesman for the White House, said on Tuesday.
"The international community must remain engaged and continue to scrutinise actions by Mr. Mugabe to ensure adherence to the letter and spirit of this agreement, including respect for human rights and the rule of law," he said.
"We urge (the Southern Africa Development Community) SADC to fulfil its obligation to guarantee that Mr. Mugabe proceeds on a new path toward reconciliation and genuine partnership with the MDC (Tsvangirai's party, the Movement for Democratic Change)."
Human rights and Africa activist groups here were somewhat more sceptical.
I think it's a defective deal in many ways," said Briggs Bomba, director of Campaigns at Africa Action, a non-profit organisation. "It short changes people of Zimbabwe on the most basic aspirations that have defined democracy: human rights and social justice. It appears now as an opportunity for temporary relief of suffering that people are going through."
"Mugabe's game-plan is simple: squeeze the maximum gains from the agreement, put on a show of good behaviour until the sanctions are lifted and aid flows are resumed, plan for a successor, and then gradually resume the attacks on the MDC before the next series of elections," noted Jon Elliot, Africa advocacy director for Human Rights Watch (HRW).
The formation of the new government is the latest move in the nearly year-old crisis that was set off last March after the MDC's victory in the first round of national elections. Before the scheduled run-off elections in June ZANU-PF unleashed a wave of violence targeting mostly MDC supporters. Tsvangirai subsequently withdrew from the race.
Mugabe claimed victory, despite the conclusion of independent monitors from across southern Africa that the election was neither free nor fair due to ZANU-PF's campaign of intimidation and violence.
Over the following six months, SADC, led by South Africa, tried to negotiate an agreement between MDC and ZANU-PF that would lead to a coalition government, an effort which eventually culminated in the signing of a power-sharing agreement in principle on Sep. 15. The deal provided that Mugabe would retain the presidency, while Tsvangirai would serve as prime minister in a government in which the MDC would have majority in parliament.
Over the subsequent four months, however, the two parties failed to agree on the allotment of specific ministerial portfolios, with Mugabe insisting on retaining control of the army and security forces.
Meanwhile, conditions in Zimbabwe deteriorated dramatically, amid record hyper-inflation and a breakdown in the country's once-model public health system.
A cholera epidemic, which broke out in August, has spread. So far, it has killed more than 3,000 people and an additional 65,000 have been infected, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The U.N. Food Programme estimates that 7 million of the 9 million people remaining in the country will need food aid this month.
In July 2008, the administration of former President George W. Bush, along with the EU, strengthened its sanctions against Zimbabwe, though its efforts to impose sanctions through the U.N. Security Council were vetoed by China and Russia.
In mid-December, Bush, along with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and French President Nicholas Sarkozy, called for Mugabe to remove himself completely.
"It is time for Robert Mugabe to go," said Bush.
Nonetheless, Mugabe defied the pressure, and last week Tsvangirai agreed to implement the Sep. 15 deal, bringing the MDC into the government. Thursday, parliament unanimously approved a constitutional amendment allowing Tsvangirai to become prime minister.
Many independent analysts here maintain that the deal is a poor one and may soon collapse.
"It's a question of when, not if, this thing will collapse," Sydney Masamvu, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, told the New York Times last week.
"This new agreement does not reflect the will of the Zimbabwean people and is unlikely to produce a viable political solution unless the behaviour of ZANU-PF changes dramatically," said Jennifer Windsor, executive director of New York-based Freedom House. For now, most non-governmental groups believe Obama's wait-and-see stance is the correct one.
"The West need be in no hurry to lift the targeted sanctions or throw good money at a bad agreement," said HRW's Elliot. "A full and comprehensive programme of government reform and audit are also needed before a single U.S. tax dollar is handed over for reconstruction."
"Zimbabwe's humanitarian and health crises alone will need a huge international effort throughout 2009," he added. "That should be their sole focus for now."
Some groups believe that Bush's hard line may have been counter-productive and suggest that the new administration should be more respectful of the position of other states in the region as the situation develops.
It is "critical to move away from the counter-productive 'cowboy diplomacy' we saw under Bush, which really pushed to the wall a lot of critical players within South Africa," Bomba of Africa Action told IPS. The new administration "must be informed more by a lot of behind the scenes discussions and consensus building in SADC. So don't come out shouting."
The Zimbabwe Independent
2009 02 06
Thursday, 05 February 2009 16:39
WHEN African politicians tiptoe around Zimbabwe’s nightmare, Robert Mugabe, it is understandable.
Many of them are practitioners of Mugabe’s cynical politics or have benefited from such. When academics vent for Mugabe, that is a different matter.
It is reason for concern. Alas, there has been a lot of that from some of Africa’s brightest minds. Africa’s intellectual class is usually the most unsparing critics of African politicians. But the two groups tend to find common ground when the issue is Western imperialism.
There was a time in some intellectual circles when African leaders literally got away with murder if they could link their countries’ travails to colonialism or neo-colonialism.
That trend reached its peak during the Cold War, when the rivalry between the capitalist and communist blocs wreaked havoc on African soils. Accordingly, opportunistic African leaders - civilian and military -readily mobilised their people to fight the external evil.
The end of the Cold War in the early 1990s took away the cover for repression and inept leadership. Pro-Western African regimes could no longer repress their people with the excuse that they were guarding against communism. And pro-Soviet regimes could no longer perpetuate totalitarianism in the guise of anti-imperialism.
In country after country, the people began to focus their attention on the internal political process and the quality of their leadership.
They recognised that the imperial presidency was not consistent with people’s political and economic aspirations. For academics, the fervour for related treatise on imperialism began to wane correspondingly.
Rather than blame imperialists, they increasingly acknowledged that the quality of life of African people depended more on internal forces than external machinations.
For some African intellectuals, it seems that this realisation has been jettisoned with regard to Mugabe. They have fervently revived the colonialist/neo-colonialist thesis to explain Africa’s greatest political tragedy at this time (with all due consideration for Darfur and eastern Congo).
Actually, some of Mugabe’s defenders are only being consistent with their scholarly identity. The essential argument in defence of Mugabe is that Zimbabwe’s economy has crumbled because of Western economic sanctions. And the sanctions were imposed because of Mugabe’s redress of colonial injustice. Both parts of the argument are only half-truths. They do not justify support for Mugabe’s morbid clinging to power.
Sure, Mugabe inherited a vexing inequity. Whites controlled about 70% of Zimbabwe’s most arable lands, though they constitute a small percentage of Zimbabwean farmers and population.
Mugabe’s solution was to allow activists to yank farmlands from whites without due compensation and without ensuring the expertise necessary to keep those farms as productive.
In effect, he gambled with the country’s economy. If agricultural production collapsed, the economy would collapse. And sure enough both did. This fact is conveniently sidestepped in the imperialist arguments - that sanctions are to blame for Zimbabwe’s economic collapse.
Yes, sanctions hurt, but only to a degree. Many countries with well-managed economies have survived sanctions. For years, for instance, apartheid South Africa thumbed its nose at the world despite United Nations sanctions.
Sure, many Western countries violated the sanctions. But then sanctions are always violated by countries that have something to gain in doing so. The sanctions against Zimbabwe are no exception. Even arms are being shipped in there.
Significantly, Namibia and South Africa faced similar inequity in economic power when the black majority took over in both countries. In neither country did the leaders resort to rash policies that would have constituted cutting off one’s nose to spite one’s face.
In Namibia, President Sam Nujoma and Prime Minister Hage Geingob were both Swapo Marxists. But once in office they had the political wisdom to adopt pragmatic policies in both racial and ideological matters.
With a mixture of negotiations and cajoling they succeeded in steering the country to relative racial equity without unsettling the economy.
The successive presidency of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki did the same in South Africa. Even if Mugabe’s government was justified in its approach to redressing the farmland inequity, the consequence has been disastrous and the people have a democratic right to hold him accountable. He cannot hide behind ostensible nationalism and racialist rhetoric.
In the most recently contested elections, the people decided they had had enough, but Mugabe and his allies would not let the verdict stand. They turned the opposition’s evident victory into results that supposedly warranted a run-off.
Then they let loose the police and military on the opposition, abducting, imprisoning and clobbering them. Even if Zimbabwe’s downfall was engineered by the West, Mugabe has to be answerable to his people, the electorate.
What he is doing, instead, is thumbing his nose not so much at the West but at Zimbabweans. Their suffering does not even seem to perturb him. At points in Zimbabwe’s history, Mugabe was an asset. Now he and his cronies are a tragic liability.
Democracies have been known to let go of their most revered leaders when a different kind of leadership is called for.
After World War II, for instance, the British voted out Winston Churchill, the prime minister whose inspired leadership saw them through the perilous years.
In South Africa, Nelson Mandela stepped down of his own accord. He would still be president today if he had wanted to.
But wisdom and love of his country dictated otherwise. Apologists for Mugabe have dubbed opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai a stooge for the West.
The same appellation was used to discredit opponents of Africa’s post-independence totalitarians. And one thought we had gone beyond that. In the words of Shakespeare, “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at the flood leads on to fortune; omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.”
The tide for Mugabe’s departure came a long time ago, but he did not take it. Now Zimbabweans are paying a steep price for his egomania. He should go. - The Punch (Nigeria).
BY MINEBERE IBELEMA
February 5, 2009
Dr Simba Makoni fights back.
By Our Correspondent
Former Zimbabwe finance minister and losing presidential candidate in last year’s Presidential elections, Simba Makoni, has responded to reports that he has been fired from his Mavambo / Kusile / Dawn (MKD) movement saying nobody in the organisation has the power to do so.
Makoni, who stands accused by his colleagues in his party of, among other things, the requisite leadership qualities and of alleged financial impropriety, told The Zimbabwe Times Thursday that reports of his dismissal were actually news to him.
“I have heard the news through the statements that you are referring to but that remain news to me because to me it’s all lies,” said Makoni in a telephone interview.
“In fact, who has the powers to do that?” he asked.
Makoni pointed out that he was, in fact, at work at the movement’s offices in central Harare at the time The Zimbabwe Times spoke to him.
“I am surprised why all these things are being said to the press and not in any of our meetings which should address any concerns that might be there,” he said. “To those people who are spreading these things I have to tell them that we have a job to do as we were asked by the people of Zimbabwe and we will not be distracted from our mission of saving the people of Zimbabwe.”
Makoni has been facing internecine political and ideological clashes in his movement with some of the senior executive members accusing him of delaying the formation of a fully fledged party and of remaining a Zanu-PF member as well. Some accuse him of concealing varying amounts of donated from his colleagues in the party and of allocating himself and his family several up to nine vehicles, including two Jeep Cherokees, belonging to the movement.
Kudzai Mbudzi the movement’s national mobilisation committee chairperson, MKD national coordinator Ibbo Mandaza and the organisation’s provincial executive members have locked horns in battle with Makoni over control of movement resources. They also accuse the former finance minister and SADC secretary of being indecisive and of holding an ambivalent position that “indistinguishable from that of (President Robert) Mugabe and Zanu-PF”.
Makoni, who holds a doctorate in chemistry, took Zimbabwe by surprise when he formed the MKD at the last minute just before the combined March presidential, parliamentary and local council elections. He said then that he would transform the movement into a fully-fledged political party.
He said at the time that he had the support of several “big-wigs” within Zanu-PF and they would join him in due course. Zimbabwe’s first army commander at independence, the wealthy Retired General Tapfumaneyi Mujuru has for some time been known to enjoy a cordial relationship with Makoni. His wife, Joice Mujuru, is however one of Mugabe’s two vice presidents.
Makoni’s organisation has since then attracted no Zanu-PF official, big or small, except for its temporary association with former Home Affairs Minister, Dumiso Dabengwa. Dabengwa soon severed links with Makoni to align himself with Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change MDC. He has since returned to the rejuvenated Zimbabwe African People’s Union (ZAPU), which signed a unity agreement with Zanu-PF in 1987.
An elated Mbudzi told journalists at a press briefing held in Harare on Wednesday that Makoni had been kicked out of the movement by its national coordinating committee for allegedly failing to provide “leadership and direction”.
“Makoni has persistently refused to sever links with Zanu-PF,” said Mbudzi. “He continues to be manipulated and, therefore, gets constant guidance and comfort from some hidden forces within Zanu-PF.”
Makoni, who was a Zanu-PF politburo member, left the party in February, 2008 to form MKD and contest the presidential election as an independent candidate. Mbudzi, Mandaza and public relations man, Godfrey Chanetsa became the leading figures in Makoni’s team.
Mbudzi said the leadership of the Mavambo Movement was now in the hands of its National Coordinating Committee (NCC) that will lead the party to its first internal elections.
Early in January The Zimbabwe Times reported that Makoni had fired three of his top executives after he accused them of stirring a revolt against him.
Makoni was reported to have dismissed Mandaza, Mbudzi and spokesman Denford Magora. He accused the three of attempting to overthrow him by inciting provinces to revolt against him.
By ANGUS SHAW , 02.05.09, 11:00 AM EST
Zimbabwe's parliament passed a key constitutional amendment Thursday opening the way for a unity government after years of deadly political conflict.
The amendment was passed by acclamation in the assembly dominated - but only just - by the opposition. The amendment creates a prime minister's post, which main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will hold in the proposed coalition government. Robert Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, will remain president.
* * * *
Tsvangirai and the rest of the unity Cabinet will be sworn in next week. It will include members of Mugabe's ZANU-PF, Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change and a smaller opposition party.
Patrick Chinamasa, a senior aide to Mugabe and the country's acting justice minister, introduced the amendment, saying he hoped that after a long and "tortuous route" Zimbabwe would no longer have "opposition or governing parties. It will be a new political dispensation."
Chinamasa's motion was seconded by Tsvangirai's top aide, Tendai Biti, who said: "We do hope that ZANU-PF is going to treat us as equal partners."
Lawmakers shouted "Yes!" when asked if the measure could be passed unanimously, and it was declared so. Chinamasa and Biti then shook hands, while other lawmakers crossed party lines to embrace.
Biti came to the assembly after a morning in court where he is being tried for treason. His case illustrates the difficulties ahead - he is being tried on charges widely derided as trumped up by ZANU-PF.
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The opposition is entering the government warily, saying it has to take the step so that leaders can address the country's widening humanitarian disaster, with most of the population dependent on international aid, and a cholera epidemic blamed on the collapse of the medical and sanitation infrastructure because of a lack of money.
Mugabe is accused of engineering Zimbabwe's economic crisis through mismanagement and corruption, then ignoring his people's desire for change as expressed at the ballot box.
Tsvangirai won the most votes in a March presidential election, then dropped out of a runoff against Mugabe because of attacks on his supporters. Tsvangirai's party also won control of parliament in March, ZANU-PF's first defeat since independence. Tsvangirai's party has 100 seats in parliament, ZANU-PF 99 and the smaller opposition has 10. A former ZANU-PF member who ran as an independent holds one seat.
Copyright 2008 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed
GENEVA, SWITZERLAND Feb 05 2009 07:23
The number of cholera cases recorded in Zimbabwe has risen past the 65 000 mark, with more than 3 300 deaths since the outbreak began, latest data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) showed on Wednesday.
A figure of 65 739 people have been infected by the disease since August 2008, and 3 323 among them have died, the WHO said in its latest daily update.
Since the previous update on Tuesday, 1 038 new cases and 28 deaths have been added .
On Monday, United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said Zanu-PF leader Robert Mugabe had agreed to allow a top-level UN team to visit Zimbabwe to find ways of curbing the cholera epidemic and a hunger crisis.
Mugabe on Tuesday blamed Western sanctions for his country's economic collapse, which has left millions jobless and hungry, and left health services in disarray.
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe's rival parties on Wednesday postponed a parliamentary debate on constitutional amendments that would pave the way for the formation of a unity government, party officials said.
Both the Zanu-PF and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said the debate had been postponed to allow negotiators more time to discuss outstanding issues.
Zanu-PF chief whip Joram Gumbo said "there are some sticky issues which are being raised by other members of the house" and that the negotiators had been summoned to talks by South African mediators.
"The negotiators were summoned by the convener in South Africa to finalise the outstanding issues on the talks," he added.
"The negotiators are supposed to be coming back on Saturday. Although the Parliament is supposed to re-convene on February 17, it can be recalled for any urgent business."
MDC chief whip Innocent Gonese said: "Since the negotiators are somewhere finalising issues related to the constitutional amendment ... the motion on the amendments will not be moved today [Wednesday] pending the finalisation of those issues which we feel have to be addressed."
He said he hoped the discussions would be completed before the February 11 swearing-in of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai as prime minister. - AFP
Feb 5th 2009
From The Economist print edition
Don’t embrace Zimbabwe’s putative new government until there is evidence of real change
ON JANUARY 30th, after months of repeatedly failed negotiations, Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of Zimbabwe’s opposition, decided to enter a government of national unity alongside President Robert Mugabe. More accurately, Mr Tsvangirai at last bowed to the huge political and diplomatic pressure exerted on him by South Africa and other regional countries to do a deal. Any sort of government, the neighbours seem to think, must be better than the drift since the election ten months ago when most Zimbabwean voters tried to get rid of Mr Mugabe and his cronies. The neighbours hope foreign governments will rally generously round the Mugabe-Tsvangirai arrangement to help the Zimbabwean people.
Yet saving the credibility of southern Africa’s failed diplomacy on Zimbabwe is not the same as saving the wretched people of Zimbabwe. The new government, if it ever gets going, may well be no better for Zimbabweans than the previous one was. It could be even worse, providing a figleaf of plausibility for Mr Mugabe to carry on his destructive rule.
Mr Tsvangirai had been holding out for good reason. In months of negotiations with Mr Mugabe he had failed to resolve crucial issues such as the release of political detainees and who will have power over the police. He is now gambling that he can win the necessary concessions before the new government is supposed to start work on February 13th.
Sadly that bet may well not come off. Mr Mugabe has a record of unyielding stubbornness when it comes to relinquishing any real power. Years of government thuggery against opposition supporters mean there is no trust left between Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change and Mr Mugabe’s henchmen. The likely outcome of any unity government is gridlock. The veneer of “power-sharing” will be enough to keep the wily, 84-year-old Mr Mugabe in office. But it is unlikely to give Mr Tsvangirai the authority he needs to end the brutality and rebuild Zimbabwe’s collapsed economy.
Keep the sanctions
America and Britain have already said they will wait and see before offering the new government any direct financial support. Others too should withhold aid to the government and maintain existing sanctions until there is clear evidence that Mr Mugabe is changing his ways. True power-sharing should lead quickly to the release of detainees banged up by Mr Mugabe’s thugs, freedom of the press and an overhaul of the security services. The central bank also needs reform; it presides over an unofficial inflation rate that averaged 15 billion per cent last year. These would be good measures of the unity government’s intentions.
Contrary to frequent misreporting in Zimbabwe, Western sanctions are targeted very narrowly at Mr Mugabe and those senior ZANU-PF politicians who have helped bring a once-prosperous country to its knees. They have played no part in Zimbabwe’s economic ruin; that is mostly Made in Zimbabwe. Humanitarian aid should continue to flow to those United Nations agencies and NGOs that are directly helping millions of desperately poor and cholera-infected ordinary Zimbabweans. But a real change in their fortunes will come only if the new government in Harare takes the radical steps that Mr Mugabe has spent years resisting.
05/02/2009 22:08 - (SA)
The European Union will not lift sanctions against Zimbabwe until a new unity government fully complies with the terms of a power-sharing deal, the EU ambassador to South Africa said on Thursday.
Lodewijk Briet said in a statement that the European Commission welcomed opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's decision to join the unity government as prime minister.
"While we underline that this is a positive development, it does not itself spell the end of the political, economic and humanitarian crises Zimbabwe finds itself in," he said.
"This first step towards normalising the situation in Zimbabwe must be underpinned by clear confidence building measures by the new government," the statement said.
"In this light, we consider calls for the immediate lifting of the EU's targeted measures to be premature and would first encourage all parties to comply fully with the terms of the power-sharing agreement," Briet said.
He reiterated that the EU sanctions do not target Zimbabwe's population but "a defined number of people and companies that have been clearly linked to the government and the failure to respect basic human rights and democratic practice".
The sanctions are limited to travel restrictions and asset freezes, he said.
"The EU remains the main provider of humanitarian and essential development assistance to Zimbabwe," giving nearly €90m annually.
The African Union and South Africa at the weekend called for the lifting of sanctions against Zimbabwe, following Tsvangirai's decision to join the government.
The unity government has stalled for months following bickering over allocation of key ministries, including home affairs, which oversees the police.
The Zimbabwe Independent
2009 02 06
Thursday, 05 February 2009 16:08
I HAVE found that there are a lot foreign scribes who are peddling half truths and outright lies and I have decided to take it upon myself to confront those lies about my country.
May I refer to the US Senate Act that was signed into law by George W Bush on December 21 2001.
Section 4 (b)(2)(B) reads as follows:
“(B) direct the United States executive director of each international financial institution to which the United States is a member to propose to undertake financial and technical support for Zimbabwe, especially support that is intended to promote Zimbabwe’s economic recovery and development, the stabilisation of the Zimbabwean dollar, and the viability of Zimbabwe’s democratic institutions.”
Section 4 (b)(c) reads and I quote again “(c) Until the President makes the certification described in subsection (d), and except as may be required to meet basic human needs or for good governance, the Secretary of the Treasury shall instruct the United States executive director to each international financial institution to oppose and vote against-
(1) any extension by the respective institution of any loan, credit, or guarantee to the Government of Zimbabwe; or
(2) any cancellation or reduction of indebtedness owed by the Government of Zimbabwe to the United States or any international financial institution.”
These two sections clearly show that there was and still is an imposition of country-specific economic sanctions on the country of Zimbabwe as represented by the sitting Zimbabwean government, however elected. It is a fact therefore that the Americans slapped the whole country with economic sanctions.
The Zimbabwe Independent
2009 02 06
Thursday, 05 February 2009 17:46
GOVERNMENT’S proposed plans to finance the US$ 1,9 billion national Budget through taxes are too ambitious and unachievable, analysts have said.
Already reeling from a high unemployment rate and a depressed manufacturing sector, government last week proposed a raft of taxes aimed at boosting its coffers.
The government has few options except to rely on taxes and levies from domestic sources to generate revenue.
But economic experts argued this week that this could be a mission impossible for the government, which recently liberalised the economy.
Under the proposed measures, taxes would be paid in both foreign and local currency after the relaxation of foreign exchange controls.
The analysts said the suspension of quasi-fiscal activities by the central bank could also lead to a decline in business for the informal sector that was previously contracted by the central bank to manufacture farm equipment under the farm mechanisation programme.
This threatens the survival of some small enterprises which, according to independent estimates, account for 80% of the economy.
In a bid to end tax evasion by small enterprises, acting Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa proposed plans to levy the informal sector in foreign currency.
He also proposed a monthly minimum tax-free threshold of US$ 125 and a maximum tax of 37,5% a month for workers earning over US$ 3 000. But with the unemployment rate estimated at 94%, it remains to be seen how government would generate revenue.
Budget projections indicate that government seeks to raise a staggering US$ 1 billion from taxes on income and profits, over US$ 594 million from taxes on goods and services, among other revenues. International aid grants, according to government figures, would account for US$ 200 million of revenue.
Former Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president and businessman, Luxon Zembe, contends that the proposed new tax regime would do little to ignite the economy in the short-term.
“Zimbabwe is one of the most highly taxed nations,” Zembe said. “With 94% unemployment everybody is struggling to pull through. One would expect that government would take heed of the plight of people.
Tax reduction is crucial at this stage. The new tax regime is viable in the long to medium term. At the moment, tax reduction for workers and small enterprises would be ideal.”
This view is held by Keynesian economists who argue that the balance of taxation and expenditure should reflect the overall state of the economy; in recession, governments should raise expenditure and reduce taxation; reduce expenditure and raise taxation in a boom.
Lower direct taxation would reduce the burden of corporation tax for a firm, thereby raising its profitability after tax.
Resultantly, this profit can be re-invested in technology and machinery leading to greater operational efficiency and lower unit costs.
A slash in direct taxes would also mean a reduction of employment costs for a firm, such as employee insurance and social security contributions and this might encourage firms to hire more labour or use labour intensive methods of production.
The economy, Zembe argued, has been informalised by poor policies such as price controls, quasi-fiscal activities, excessive money supply growth, government expenditure and rampant corruption.
“Nobody wanted to informalise given numerous advantages of formalising your business. Right now everyone is playing hide and seek with authorities due to these bad policies,” he said.
This budget, Zembe added, had no measures to “trim down” government expenditure. He argued that the proposed inclusive government made up of 31 cabinet ministers would be too large for the economy.
“We need structural reforms that can reduce budget expenditure to about US$ 1,5 billion in order to accommodate the new inclusive government costs,” he said.
Zembe also expressed worry over government’s plan to put in place a 40% levy on free-funds.
On the taxable food vouchers that Chinamasa said would be used to augment salaries of civil servants, analysts predicted that the bulk of government workers - who account for the majority of the job market - could fall outside the tax net.
This forecast comes after central bank governor Gideon Gono this week announced the introduction of US$ 100 vouchers for government workers, which he said was enough for a food basket for a family of six.
According to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, the poverty datum line was US$ 310 last December.
Regional economic analyst Daniel Ndlela said the proposed plan to generate revenue from the informal sector could hit a brick wall.
“There is no country which has succeeded in generating significant revenue from high taxation from the informal sector,” Ndlela said. “This is a cumbersome exercise and in the end government would spend more money in trying to police the informal sector rather than introduce incentives that would strengthen the sector.”
The introduction of presumptive tax paid in foreign currency, Ndlela argued, was a desperate decision by the government. Instead, he said, government should “bite the bullet” and re-engage international support.
“This was not a well thought out budget. They should rethink this Budget which in my view was a window-dressing exercise,” he said.
MDC-T secretary for economic affairs Elton Mangoma criticised government for fast-tracking the Budget and monetary policy presentations before the formation of an inclusive government. Chinamasa, in his introductory remarks, alluded to “wide consultation” on the Budget before being booed by opposition legislators.
“The logical position would have been for both the national Budget and the monetary statement to be deferred to allow for the consummation of the inclusive government,” said Mangoma, who is tipped to become Finance minister in the new political dispensation. “It will be a casino economy where even vendors and road-side dealers are all required to procure licences of US$ 10 from the RBZ to engage in mundane economic activities that are of no benefit to the national economy.”
Mangoma said civil servants must be paid in hard currency as opposed to the proposed voucher system.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Kumbirai Katsande also doubted government’s capacity to generate the projected revenue.
“Government needs to revisit the numbers,” Katsande said. “We are currently trying to engage government over this matter on these questionable figures which could prove to be unachievable.”
Secretary for the treasury Willard Manungo defended the new tax regime saying these were aimed at protecting formal local industry from thriving informal activity.
“Government proposed the presumptive tax for people doing viable economic business,” Manungo told the Zimbabwe Independent. “Business people have to choose whether they want presumptive tax to be deducted from their business or formally register their companies with Zimra for the purpose of corporate tax remittances.”
Manungo said formalising the informal sector would in turn make the tax burden lighter for the small enterprises.
“A lot of measures in the budget support domestic industry. This is aimed at levelling the playing field. What we don’t want to do is to offer protection to uncompetitive entities,” he said.
BY BERNARD MPOFU
The Zimbabwe Independent
2009 02 06
Thursday, 05 February 2009 18:49
ONLY about a quarter of the estimated 1,5 million small-scale miners who were affected by the government’s 2006 clean-up operation codenamed Chikorokoza Chapera have resumed operations due to high registration fees and Environmental Impact Assessment consultant costs, the Zimbabwe Miners' Federation (ZMF) said this week.
ZMF chief executive Wellington Takavarasha told businessdigest on Wednesdays that the sector had failed to recover three years after the blitz on its members.
“Operation Chikorokoza Chapera closed down virtually all operations of small-scale miners,” Takavarasha said.
The blitz on small-scale miners was launched in November 2006 ostensibly to bring gold panning activities under control, but resulted in the shutdown of most small-scale mining activities.
“To resume operations, a miner was required to have an Environmental Impact Assessment carried out by a consultant which costs between US$ 300 and US$ 600 plus US$ 100 to be paid as registration fee. The fees were beyond the reach of many small-scale miners,” he said.
Takavarasha said before the crackdown, small-scale miners contributed between 50 to 60% of the country’s total gold output.
“The drastic reduction of small-scale miners has had an adverse effect on their contribution to gold production as evidenced by last year’s output where only 3, 4 tonnes were produced,” said Takavarasha.
Takavarasha said the fees are threatening to further reduce the number of small-scale miners as well as increase the number of illegal gold panning activities depriving the country of much needed foreign currency.
He said that the ZMF had held several meetings with various stakeholders within government in an effort to reduce the costs of resuming operations.
“The resumption of operations is supposed to promote empowerment and indigenisation, but with these requirements we are disempowered,” he said.
On the issue of arrears owed by the Reserve Bank, government introduced “Special Tradable Gold-backed Foreign Exchange Bonds” with a 12-month tenor and an 8% interest per annum on maturity.
The holder of the bonds can sell them to any interested counterparty locally, regionally or internationally at an agreed time-to-maturity.
Businessdigest however understands that the chamber of mines yesterday submitted proposals to the Reserve Bank seeking half the payment of the arrears, with the balance being deducted as tax and duties.
Meanwhile mineworkers are in limbo as they are yet to be paid their January salaries due to protracted wage negotiations between the Associated Mine Workers’ Union of Zimbabwe and the Chamber of Mines.
Union president, Tinago Ruzive said that they were demanding a minimum wage of US$ 500, but the Chamber of Mines had made an initial offer of US$ 40.
Ruzive argued that the figure they were asking for was reasonable because the US dollar was losing value in Zimbabwe due to distortions in the market, adding that the offer by the Chamber is ‘unacceptably low’.
He said the delay in wage negotiations had frayed tempers of mine workers with over 500 workers at Vuba Chikwe mine in Gwanda downing tools.
“Workers are up in arms because we have not made a breakthrough in our negotiations. Most miners are on a go-slow. I have had numerous inquiries from our members who are gearing up for a strike but I have told them that were still negotiating. I don’t know how long I can keep the lid closed on a boiling pot,” he said.
Ruzive said the permission by the Reserve Bank to have workers paid in foreign currency had given them a fresh impetus in making their demands.
BY KUDZAI KAWAZA
The Zimbabwe Independent
2009 02 06
Thursday, 05 February 2009 18:49
ZIMBABWE has over the past 10 years accumulated a domestic and foreign debt which it has failed to repay.
This has prompted international lenders such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to cease extending any loans to Zimbabwe.
Government has blamed the increase of the debt on a number of factors that include sanctions and poor rains which have resulted in a decline in agricultural output. Economic analysts have however blamed government’s continued appetite for borrowing when there is little production.
As of December 31 domestic debt was pegged at $ 56,9 sextillion ($ 56,9 trillion) while external debt is US$ 4,69 billion.
Businessdigest senior business reporter Paul Nyakazeya (PN) this week spoke to analyst Alex Magaisa (AM) from Corporate and Financial Services, Kent Law School at the University of Kent at Canterbury about the country’s debt.
PN: What really has been causing this significant rise in domestic and external debt?
AM: The golden rule of debt management is that a government, like any ordinary person, should learn to live within its means. If an individual cannot afford to live in Borrowdale Brooke, he should find comfort in his humble station in Warren Park. If however, he chooses to borrow money so that he can take up residence in leafy Borrowdale Brooke, he cannot complain if the debt spirals out of control. This is where the government is at present.
For too long it has lived beyond its means - it is large; it fancies luxury but does not produce enough to sustain its voracious appetite. That is why some of this appetite has had to be funded by printing money, because the government itself is a bad debtor and no one outside the country wants to extend any more credit to it.
PN: Under the current economic environment can government live within its means, especially when all major sectors of the economy are not producing?
AM: It’s like a credit-card holder who borrows up to the maximum possible limit: he might go back to the bank and ask for more credit but at some point the bank will say no more credit because the debt is just piling up and you are not producing enough to make sufficient repayments.
An individual in such cases would be stuck, without any other source to fund his spending habits. But governments - especially our government - have the luxury of printing money to deal with those situations! So in my view, there are a number of critical things that the new government ought to consider:
PN: If you were asked to come up with measures to control government debt what would you suggest?
AM: Firstly, reduce the size of government, which is probably unlikely in the short-term given the enormous size of the cabinet that has resulted from the Global Political Agreement. You can see there that economic sense gave way to political expediency, which is unfortunate;
Secondly, government needs to cut down on spending and try to live within its means. There is no point trying to be what you are not. Accept the reality that we are poor and impecunious at this stage and we cannot afford to spend more than we are producing.
Thirdly, government must create conditions to promote economic efficiency and productivity. This will raise the level of exports and therefore revenues for the country, which can be used to repay some of the debt and fund development. This means the government must try to encourage entrepreneurship, to welcome its sons and daughters who wish to invest in the country and also to welcome foreigners who wish to invest.
Most importantly, government needs to carry out an honest assessment of our sources of wealth such as agriculture, mining, tourism and ensure that the most talented and most committed are given the opportunities to exploit the resources regardless of colour, race, religion, tribe or political allegiance.
Lastly, government needs to mend relations with foreign creditors, including bodies like the IMF who have previously given balance of payments support. There is no doubt that Zimbabwe has suffered immensely from being cut off and literally becoming a desolate desert island in global economic terms.
But you have to address the causes of this ostracisation; things like the breakdown of the rule of law, the bad credit history and poor image need to be sorted out first to regain the confidence of those who might support us, either by providing the balance of payments support, loan repayment holidays or even cancellation of debt.
by Nokuthula Sibanda Friday 06 February 2009
Zimbabwe's biggest platinum miner, Zimplats, has warned that the government is bound to make more unfavourable policies against exporters after it dollarised the economy last week.
Acting Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa last week legalised the use of the American dollar and several other foreign currencies as legal tender alongside the Zimbabwe dollar as part of desperate measures to try to pluck the once prosperous country out of crisis
Zimplats welcomed the move to dollarise the economy but warned that government may in the end fail to raise enough foreign currency to fund its activities and could eventually be forced to turn to the export sector for hard cash.
"Whilst this (dollarisation) will be welcomed by most people in the country particularly the working class, there are strong fears regarding the government's ability to raise hard currency to fund the budget," Zimplats said in its quarterly report ending December 2008 released this week.
"Ultimately the government may be forced to implement unfavourable policies on exporters to raise hard currency that in the end may make it difficult to operate the business viably."
The firm also advised shareholders to continue "with extreme caution in their share dealings due to the uncertain" political environment in Zimbabwe.
Zimplats, which is owned by South Africa's Implats - the world’s second biggest platinum producer - also said that it posted a US$ 22 million deficit as a result of falling world metal prices.
During the period under review, operating costs rose by 17 percent, the company said.
A collapsed currency coupled with hyperinflation is the most visible sign of Zimbabwe’s severe economic crisis that is also seen in shortages of food and every essential commodity, deepening poverty and a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 3 000 people since August.
A unity government between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara has raised hopes Zimbabwe could begin to emerge from an economic crisis once described by the World Bank as the worst in the world outside a war zone.
06 February, 2009 06:10:00
Photo:- SPOOK: Founder of the Central Intelligence Organisation, Ken Flower
The Movement for Democratic Change has drafted a National Security Bill suggesting far reaching complete overhaul of Robert Mugabe’s rogue spy Central Intelligence Organisation, CIO, an outfit founded by Rhodesian police officer Ken Flower in the 60s from the ashes of the Federal Intelligence and Security Bureau at the disolution of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
The Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) is the national intelligence agency or "secret police" of Zimbabwe. The CIO was formed in Rhodesia on the instructions of Prime Minister Winston Field in 1963 at the dissolution of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland, and took over from the Federal Intelligence and Security Bureau, which was a co-ordinating bureau analysing intelligence gathered by the British South Africa Police (BSAP) and the police forces of Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.
The first head of the CIO was Deputy Commissioner Ken Flower; during his tenure the BSAP Special Branch Headquarters were incorporated within the CIO, while the Special Branch retained its internal security function within the BSAP. The deputy head of the CIO, and eventual successor to Flower, was Danny Stannard.
His brother Richard Stannard, a former captain in the British Army Military Police, became the Director Military Intelligence (DMI) under Robert Mugabe. Richard, sometimes also known as "Slick," was, like Emmerson Mnangagwa, known to have been recruited by another foreign intelligence service, initially, but not solely, in order to penetrate his former colleagues in BMATT, the British Army Training Team sent to assist in the formation of the new Zimbabwe National Army.
Prime Minister Mugabe kept Flower in the role of head of the CIO after majority rule in 1980, when the country's name changed to Zimbabwe. Flower had no more than a professional relationship with MI6 despite rumours that he had covertly and intermittently plotted with the British intelligence services to undermine Ian Smith's government. He had, however, an especially good professional relationship with Sir Dick Franks, the professional head of MI6 at the time, as he had with all the other main intelligence agencies.
In March 1975 Flower ordered the assassination of Herbert Chitepo, then-leader of the Zimbabwe African National Union.
There are allegations that after Ian Smith unilaterally declared Rhodesia independent Flower maintained his allegiance to the British government, or at least the Queen, spying on the Smith administration for MI6. The fact that Sir Humphrey Gibbs, the Governor of Rhodesia at the time of UDI, and treated shabbily by the illegal Smith Government, wrote the forward to Serving Secretly and referred to him there as 'my friend Ken Flower' lends credence to this view.
Under his leadership the intelligence service was a formidable and organised brutal operations, including the hiding of weapons on Zapu farms and tipped Emmerson Mnangagwa and Robert Mugabe.
Emmerson Mnangagwa became the first Minister of National Security from 1980 to 1988, and after General Peter Walls left the country under dubious circumstances related to making plans for a coup, he took over as Chairman of the Joint High Command, a similar organ to the current Joint Operations Command (JOC), that ochestrated a brutal campaign against opposition supporter, which is also headed by Mnangagwa.
It is believed that Peter Walls was pushed out into exile by Ken Flower because he belonged to the "old school" Ian Smith's inner circle.
Ken Flower planned with South African intelligence aided by Western powers to stop Nkomo from gaining political influence in the region because of his closeness to the Cold War Russians who supplied him with long range anti air missiles that downed two civilians aircrafts bound for Kariba in the late 70s. South Africans feared he would influence Umkonto we Sizwe, ANC's armed wing.
When Nkomo went into exile fleeing Robert Mugabe, he was denied asylum in the West, because they accused him of attrocities in 1978 and 1979 when ZIPRA downed two civilian passenger planes of Air Rhodesia, killing a total of 102 passengers and crew and survivors were executed on the ground. Joshua Nkomo was then forced to return to Zimbabwe and joined Robert Mugabe in a Unity Accord signed in 1987.
There are some reports that the two aircrafts where shot down by Rhodesian CIO operatives who wanted to assasinate General Peter Walls under the instructions of the notorious Ken Flower, and Nkomo made a mistake of gloating about it on a BBC interview.
General Peter Walls and Ken Flower's relations had severly broken down in the Joint High Command, chaired by the General, they had fallen out on the direction of war against black rebellion, and therefore at independence Robert Mugabe capitalised on that and he appointed Ken Flower the head of CIO and Ken assisted him to tame rogue Rhodesian elements and this culminated in the induction of Emmerson "Ngwena" Mnangagwa into the feared man loathed by many Zimbabwean people. That is when Mnangagwa got to know Ian Smith's sanctions busters like John Bredenkamp who has been very close to Robert Mugabe's government for many years.
One of the lesser known facts about Rhodesian CIO operations was their formation, control and running of what was originally the MNR - the Mozambique National resistance. Later known as RENAMO.
In his fascinating interview, recorded in 1988, record Flower revealed how the Rhodesians formed the MNR as an intelligence unit to counter ZANU/ZANLA as well as FRELIMO. In March 1980 control was passed to the South African Intelligence.
In addition to providing details about the operation, he gives rare insights from his personal experiences in dealings with the Portuguese, President Machel and the South Africans.
The CIO was infiltrated by the Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, through Ari Ben Menashe, allegedly a "former" Mossad agent now living in Canada. The Israeli interest was in the supply of plutonium from the Congo via Zimbabwe to North Korea and thence to Syria and Iran.
Over the years the quality of the spy agency has deteriorated due to dodgy political influences, Zanu PF infighting and it has since been reduced to a party millitia abducting, torturing and killing village politicians.
In the late 80s, CIO training was carried out with the assistance of the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceauşescu and everything fell appart when he was deposed.
The MDC was tasked with drafting the security legislation as part of concessions made by Zanu (PF) at the power-sharing talks that led to the current efforts to form an inclusive government.
The National Security Bill, which defines the parameters of the security forces, was drafted by the MDC and is being reviewed by the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (JOMIC) - a multi-party taskforce that will ensure compliance of all parties with the power-sharing deal.
The MDC wants the current publicly-funded national security agency to be reformed into a true information-gathering and analysis organization in a looming political dispensation where the MDC controls Parliament.
Sources familiar with the security legislation say the MDC has noted that the CIO is institutionally and culturally corrupt.
The MDC wants the CIO to boost its operational capacity and sharpen its intelligence-gathering methods to effectively protect the country's interests, instead of being preoccupied with tracking down President Mugabe’s critics and political opponents.
There are suggestions for extensive and true democratic oversights on the spy agency. The MDC has also reportedly the formation of a bipartisan Parliamentary Committee to review and veto all aspects of CIO operations upon a majority or super-majority vote, according to a source.
Pullout ‘The CIO’s capabilities are undermined by its leaders’ zeal to pander to presidential whims at the expense of the public interest’
The Joint Operations Command, a security services think-tank under whose tutelage the CIO falls, is set to be abolished and replaced by a National Security Council, according to the terms of the power-sharing deal.
In the inclusive government, Mugabe will still head the new National Security Council, but with MDC President Morgan Tsvangirai as his deputy in the security thinktank. This will also include top army generals who have previously vowed they will never salute Tsvangirai.
As an elite ‘enforcement’ arm of the Zanu (PF) government, the CIO has been in the forefront of Mugabe’s crusade for control of Zimbabwe, its societies and its resources, run under the cloak of "intelligence gathering" and brandishing the dagger of national security.
The CIO uses every trick in the book: propaganda, stuffing ballot boxes, rigging elections, blackmail, sexual intrigue, false stories about opponents in the local media, infiltration and disruption of opposing political parties, kidnapping, beating, torture, intimidation, death squads and even assassination.
The CIO is accountable to Mugabe alone and its charter allows it to "perform such other functions and duties as the executive may from time to time direct." The CIO budget is kept secret, is not subjected to audit by the comptroller or auditor general as other government departments are subjected to.
MDC shadow Defence minister, Retired Major Giles Mutsekwa, said the CIO has to be transformed into a refined national security organisation.
"As it is, the organisation is backward in terms of modern security philosophy and outlook," Mutsekwa said. "It was purely another arm of Mugabe’s party designed to benefit none other than Zanu (PF) and that is why it operates like a private army." The six major branches of the CIO are: Internal, which has counter-intelligence or counter-subversion and serious crime units; External with its analysis and liaison units; Security with a Close Security Unit (CSU) and another known as GPSI - Government Protection Security Inspectorate; Economics with policy planning and analysis; and Administration with personnel, training, finance, resource management, transport and other services.
There is also the Director-General’s pool, which is seen as a dumping ground for under-performing officers. A select few divisional heads of the 3,000-member strong CIO, report directly to Mugabe.
Immediately under the directors are deputy-directors, assistant directors, provincial intelligence officers, district intelligence officers, senior intelligence officers, senior assistant intelligence officers and ordinary-level intelligence officers.
Insiders say the rigid CIO structure entrenches an unreconstructed bureaucracy largely staffed with presidential toadies. Critics say the CIO’s capabilities are undermined by its leaders’ zeal to pander to presidential whims at the expense of the public interest.
February 5, 2009
By Raymond Maingire
David Coltart, the senator for Khumalo representing the Mutambara-led MDC, has called for the liberalization of the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) and the Attorney General’s (AG) office, saying they have been used as partisan institutions to entrench President Robert Mugabe’s rule.
As parliamentarians across the political divide celebrated and spoke in praise of the unanimous passing of Constitutional Amendment. No 19 Bill on Thursday, Coltart dared to talk tough on the new developments.
“There are institutions such as the CIO and the AG that have to be liberalized if we are sincere about forming a unity government,” Coltart told fellow senators shortly before the Upper House voted on the Bill on Thursday.
“In the new government, people who have committed crimes must be prosecuted and face due process of the law.
“Zimbabweans should once again be allowed to claim their rights. That right involves the right to seek representation (parliamentary), the right to be arrested and not abducted.””
Coltart said in the all inclusive government the courts should be allowed their independence to determine criminal matters without undue political interference.
The outspoken legislator said it took more than tolerance for all the parties to agree to what he described as a flawed deal.
“This agreement is flawed, it is imperfect,” he said.
“There are aspects that I do not like about the Bill. In fact, there is no party represented here today that is fully satisfied with it.
“The law is flawed because there are fearsome protagonists who shall now have to work together. We have to face the challenges that lie ahead in the context of the mistrust and disagreements that we have had.”
Coltart said the Bill was so flawed that it had attracted fierce protests from civic society.
“But we have to take it because there is no other non-violent option that was still available,” he said. “Our people are weary, our country is broke.”
Coltart said President Mugabe’s government was playing in the hands of its detractors by continuing to engage in violence against its opponents.
“We should now start using non violent means to resolve our differences,” he said. “Unless we all renounce violence, our nation shall remain a second class nation.”
Because of the flaws that we have experienced in the past, he said, it was easy to understand the skepticism that was emanating from countries such as America, the European Union and other Western countries about prospects of success in the unity government.
“There are many pitfalls that lie ahead. If this is to work, we have to demonstrate utmost good faith,” he said.
Coltart said Zimbabweans needed to work out modalities on how to bring back millions of what he said were brilliant Zimbabweans who have fled this country over the past few years.
He said the scenario of a unity government was not new in Zimbabwe and should not be viewed naively by both politicians and ordinary Zimbabweans.
He said Zimbabwe had been at the stage of a negotiated settlement to her political disputes before and failed to embrace the spirit of change despite the euphoria that characterized the then new dispensation.
“We saw this in the new administration that was formed as a result of the Lancaster House Agreement,” Coltart said.
“The same repressive laws that were used before 1980 to suppress the majority were never removed. The new government never made any effort to repeal those laws.
“The Rhodesian Broadcasting Corporation that was broadcasting partisan information was replaced by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation that is doing the same.
“The process of forming a functioning government will not be finished today. A lot of challenges lie ahead. Our vision is to have a tolerant, free, vibrant, multi racial and democratic society in Zimbabwe which will become the jewel of Africa.
“The passing of this Bill makes a significant step towards attaining that dream.”
The Bill, which was voted for by all the 184 lower house parliamentarians and all the 72 senators who attended the two sessions, now awaits assent by Mugabe.
The passing of the Bill seeks to create an executive post for Prime Minister-Designate, Morgan Tsvangirai who shall be the deputy chairperson of cabinet.
The MDC leader shall be deputized by his second in charge, Thokozani Khuphe and Mutambara, leader of the smaller faction of the MDC.
Mugabe, who remains in control of government, will chair the National Security Council and Cabinet, proclaim and terminate martial law and formally appoint his deputies.
SW Radio Africa (London)
5 February 2009
The treason trial of the MDC's Secretary General and chief negotiator in the unity government talks, Tendai Biti, has finally been set for May, after months of stalling by the state's prosecution team.
Biti faces two charges of seeking to oust Robert Mugabe, after he was accused of announcing the results of last year's March presidential elections before they had been authorised. Biti was also accused of writing a document detailing the so called 'plot to overthrow Mugabe,' by supposedly rigging the polls. Last year, two other charges relating to 'insulting the President,' and 'causing disaffection to the armed forces' that had been brought against the Secretary General, were dropped, but no indictment papers were ever served on Biti to stand trial.
The MDC official was arrested on the 12th of June last year after arriving at Harare International airport from South Africa, where he had spent time in self-imposed exiled. Soon after the March elections, won by the MDC and party leader Morgan Tsvangirai, Biti addressed a press conference where he announced the party's own election results. This after the government run Zimbabwe Election Commission refused to release the results within the stipulated time frame, sparking fears they were tampering with the real outcome of the polls.
The Mugabe regime then planned an elaborate propaganda campaign in which they accused Biti of plotting to rig the elections on behalf of the MDC. A 13 page document, allegedly written by Biti, was then published in the state run media outlining the supposed MDC rigging plans, which included bribing polling officers to exaggerate the number of MDC votes.
On Thursday, a court date was finally set for Biti to face the charges and his lawyers have opposed further remand of the case, arguing that the state, in failing to serve indictment papers, had delayed setting the trial date. Magistrate Olivia Mariga is expected to rule on Friday whether to keep Biti on remand.
February 5, 2009
MDC secretary general Tendai Biti
By Raymond Maingire
Harare magistrate, Olivia Mariga on Thursday postponed to Friday her ruling on whether MDC legislator Tendai Biti should be placed on further remand pending his trial on treason charges which is now expected to commence during the first week of May this year.
Biti’s lawyers have applied for refusal of further remand against the MDC secretary general, who also faces three other counts while the state, led by Tawanda Zvekare wants Biti remanded for an additional two weeks pending a compilation of his indictment forms.
The state alleges Biti authored a document entitled “The transition document” just before the March 29, 2008 elections.
According to the state, the document outlines a plot to seize power from President Robert Mugabe’s government.
During Thursday’s hearing, Biti’s lawyer, Lewis Uriri resisted attempts by the state to place Biti on further remand.
He argued that it was within his client’s rights to be tried within a reasonable period.
He accused the state of making false promises it was going to issue a trial date for Biti and was thus appealing to the court not to continue entertaining false promises.
The state on Thursday admitted investigations into Biti’s treason charges were completed and proposed May 4 as the date for the commencement of Biti’s trial.
Uriri argues that there was no justification for the state’s attempt to continue placing his client on further remand as all the evidence is based on a single document which the state has always been in possession of.
On the other hand, Zvekare pleaded with the court to be granted the two week period to prepare some indictment papers for Biti prior to his trial.
Zvekare contends there was no prejudice against the accused person, saying he was in any event, out of custody.
But Uriri says the state was still acting in violation of his client’s fundamental rights to continue remanding him even if he was out of custody.
After listening to both submissions, Mariga adjourned court proceedings to Friday morning where she is expected to rule on whether the MDC legislator should still be placed on remand.
Apart from the treason charge, Biti also stands accused of insulting President Robert Mugabe whom he called “an evil man who should be taken to The Hague” to answer for human rights offences.
Biti, who arrived from South Africa on Wednesday night after a fresh round of talks with Zanu-PF to hear his case, is also being accused of “causing disaffection among members of the defence forces”.
The state also accuses Biti of making “falsehoods that might result in public disorder”.
The state says Biti allegedly made a false declaration of the March 29 harmonised elections in which he publicly declared that his party, the MDC, had won before the official announcement by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
The defence contends the charges against Biti are political and are part of President Mugabe’s attempt to keep the powerful opposition politician on leash.
The defence also believes government is trying to keep him busy with matters of litigation as opposed to his party’s business.
Biti, a lawyer by profession, is the MDC’s chief negotiator in the ongoing unity talks between Zanu-PF and the MDC.
February 5, 2009
By Owen Chikari
Some members of the former ruling Zanu -PF party here have refused to raise funds for President Robert Mugabe’s birthday this month.
They argue that only his personal friends should do so and not the party as there are more pressing issues to fund-raise for.
A meeting convened by the Masvingo provincial executive to establish a fund-raising committee for the 21st February Movement ended prematurely after some members openly said that they no longer wanted to be involved in raising funds for Mugabe’s birthday on February 21.
Leading the chorus of opposition to raising money for the President’s birthday was former governor and Senator Dzikamai Mavhaire who said that the party should instead fund raise to feed millions of starving Zimbabweans.
“We can not fund-raise for a single person when we have millions of starving Zimbabweans in the country “, said Mavhaire.
“Only his personal friends and relatives within the party or outside should to that”.
The 21st February Movement was established to commemorate Mugabe’s birthday and the event is now commemorated annually.
A spokesman for the party here who refused to be named yesterday confirmed that members of the provincial executive clashed over the issue of fund raising for the 21st February Movement.
He said that most of the members felt that there were more pressing issues to fund raise for than the birthday of the President.
“These things need to be viewed from a realistic point of view “, said the spokesman.”If we turn the incumbent President’s birthday to be a national event then what this means is that we will change the dates if a new President comes in.
“We did not force people not to raise funds but those who want to do so should do it in their individual capacity”.
President Mugabe turns 85 this month. A national fund-raising committee headed by outgoing Science and Technology Development Deputy Minister, Patrick Zhuwawo, his nephew, has set a target of US$ 200 000 to wish him “Happy Birthday”.
In previous years fund-raising committees were established throughout the country and individuals and companies were forced to contribute.
In 1998 Mavhaire moved a motion in Parliament calling on President Robert Mugabe to relinquish power.
The then Masvingo central legislator was immediately suspended from holding senior party positions for three years.
He was also stripped of his post as party provincial chairman but was allowed to retain his parliamentary seat.
After three years in the political wilderness Mavhaire bounced back four years ago when he was elected senator for Masvingo. He is currently a member of the party’s politburo.
Thursday, 05 February 2009
Home Affairs to must immediately stop rounding and deporting Zimbabweans
The leadership of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in South Africa is stunned by the rounding up and arrests of Zimbabweans by police from this morning.
Dozens of marked police trucks are hovering around Hillbrow, Braamfontein and Yeoville and Berea arresting Zimbabweans. Some were interjected on their way to work and one woman was taken while on her way from leaving her child at pre-school.
They are not even sparing even those with asylum papers, claiming that Zimbabwe was in Morgan Tsvangirai's hands.
Five Gumbagumbas (huge police trucks) and police minibuses raided the Park Station in Braamfontein netting hundreds of Zimbabweans, including some who were in the process of boarding busses to Zimbabwe. Just imagine!
The fact of the matter is that Tsvangirai is not yet the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe. We are not yet out of the wood. Asylum seekers are running away from Zanu PF militia, Zimbabwe Republic Police and members of the CIO and all these institutions are still firmly in Robert Mugabe's hands. The inclusive government is a transitional authority that include Mugabe and this is no guarantee to anybody 'safety. Nothing has practical changed yet except for some commitments which were made.
We urge the SA government to be patient with us. We urge them to be companionate, considerate and helpful.
Home Affairs today (Thursday) sent back Zimbabwe Asylum seekers empty handed, citing the inclusive government deal as the reason. This is unbelievable. How can government officials make abrupt decisions which are bereft of logic?
Home Affairs should immediately resume issuing asylum papers to Zimbabweans because they are still 'endangered species.'
February 5, 2009
By Mxolisi Ncube
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has accused South African police of rounding up Zimbabweans living in that country - some of them asylum seekers - under the pretext that Zimbabwe is now under the control of opposition leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai is expected to be sworn in as Prime Minister on February 11, after his mainstream MDC formation recently agreed to form an all-inclusive government with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF and the smaller MDC led by Professor Arthur Mutambara.
Mutambara will be one of the deputy Prime Ministers, in a government that the octogenarian leader, Mugabe will still serve as President.
Although the national unity government has been described by many as the only solution to a decade-long political and economic crisis that has sent millions of Zimbabweans out of their country and into neighbouring countries, it is not yet clear if the safety of those that fled political persecution by state security forces and Mugabe’s supporters can be guaranteed. The 85-year-old ruler will remain in charge of the security forces, who have been accused of being responsible for most of the persecution.
In a statement released Thursday, the MDC leadership in South Africa, which has about 3 million Zimbabweans, accused that country’s police of arbitrarily arresting Zimbabweans, some of them in possession of valid asylum permits, since Thursday morning.
“The leadership of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in South Africa is stunned by the rounding up and arrest of Zimbabweans by the police from this morning,” read part of the MDC statement.
“Dozens of marked police trucks are hovering around Hillbrow, Braamfontein, Yeoville and Berea, arresting Zimbabweans.
“Some were intercepted on their way to work and one woman was taken while on her way from leaving her child at pre-school,” said the opposition party.
The MDC also accused the police of ignoring valid papers like permits and passports that some of the Zimbabweans possess.
“They are not even sparing even those with asylum papers, claiming that Zimbabwe was now in Morgan Tsvangirai’s hands,” the statement said.
“Five Gumbagumbas (huge police trucks) and police minibuses raided Park Station in Braamfontein, netting hundreds of Zimbabweans, including some who were in the process of boarding buses to Zimbabwe,” added the party.
The MDC said that even after the implementation of the all-inclusive government, Zimbabweans were still not yet “out of the woods” and should not be deported back to their country, as political violence has still not yet ceased.
“Asylum seekers are running away from the Zanu-PF militia, Zimbabwe Republic Police and members of the CIO and all these institutions are still firmly in Robert Mugabe’s hands.
“The inclusive government is a transitional authority that includes Mugabe and this is no guarantee of anybody ’safety.
“Nothing has practically changed yet except for some commitments which were made. We urge the SA government to be patient with us, to be companionate, considerate and helpful.”
The MDC also accused the South African Home Affairs department of refusing to attend to Zimbabweans seeking asylum permits, citing the all-inclusive government as their reason.
“This is unbelievable. How can government officials make abrupt decisions which are bereft of logic?
“Home Affairs should immediately resume issuing asylum papers to Zimbabweans because they are still ‘endangered species,” said the MDC statement.
Home Affairs Department spokesperson, Siobhan McCarthy could not be reached for comment Thursday, but she has previously defended the police action in raiding the Zimbabweans, saying that they were allowed to do that.
She told The Zimbabwe Times late last year that asylum permits would continue to be recognized as legal papers for the Zimbabweans to remain in South Africa. She said her department would continue to issue the permits to deserving cases, even long after implementation of the all-inclusive government.
Dr Theo de Jager
06 February 2009
Theo de Jager says the mismanagement of the process is having a disastrous impact on food production
LAND CLAIMS POSE HEADACHE FOR AGRICULTURE
Delays of more than a decade in finalising land claims have had a disastrous impact on agricultural production and investments, especially in the Northern provinces. There have been no profitable farming operations on any of the thousands of farms transferred to date in terms of the restitution process, while investor confidence is inhibited by the limitations which land claims inevitably place on the development, financing, sub-division, selling or expansion of farming units, resulting in a decline of production.
Agri SA is sceptical about the announcement made by Chief Land Claims Commissioner Andrew Mpehla to the effect that a further R50 billion was needed to finalise outstanding land claims. To date the Commission has spent R17 billion to finalise 95% of the 72 000 land claims. The complexity, magnitude and cost of the remaining 5% could cause the process to drag on for another decade.
It takes on average 46 months to finalise a simple claim, while several thousand claims have not even been published in the Government Gazette.
Despite the assurance that the Commission has given Parliament since 2004 that they were on track with the processing of land claims, the deadline, which had been extended four times, was again missed at the end of December 2008.
No further deadline has been set to date and there is apparently no urgency on the part of the Commission to finalise the outstanding claims.
The Commission has to a large extent created its own crisis in that far more claims have been published in the Government Gazette than were originally registered before 1999. In Magoebaskloof, for example, only six farms were claimed, yet the Land Claims Commission listed more than 500 farms under this claim in the Government Gazette. Where only a few farms under a land claim are purchased, operations on the remaining farms in the area are undermined for an unlimited period due to the land claim. Not a single claim of which the validity was disputed has been finalised and delisted since 1999.
The Commission remains largely inaccessible to land owners, while legal action has to be instituted for the release of documents such as claim forms, research reports, valuations and claim lists at enormous cost. Attempts to speak to the Chief Land Claims Commissioner in this regard have been unsuccessful since 2006 because he fails to keep confirmed appointments with organised agriculture.
In December 2008, Agri SA lodged a complaint against the Land Claims Commission with the Human Rights Commission, citing intimidation of land owners to accept up to 40% less than market value for land. This is contrary to the government's policy of paying market value in the case of land reform. In some cases the Commission failed to pay for farms although such farms had been transferred in the Deeds Office to land claimants months before.
Since the registration of land claims closed in 1998, a complete list of land claims has not been made available. This leaves the system extremely susceptible to irregularities. Commercial agriculture can no longer afford the uncertainty, bureaucracy and maladministration relating to the restitution process, especially given that South Africa had in 2008 for the first time become a net importer of food.
Dr Theo de Jager, Agri SA Deputy President, February 5 2009
'They in fact control [America]. No matter which government comes into power, whether Republican or Democratic, whether Barack Obama or George Bush. The control of America, just like the control of most Western countries, is in the hands of Jewish money and if Jewish money controls their country then you cannot expect anything else."
Without much fanfare Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Fatima Hajaig made her entry into high politics last year, replacing Aziz Pahad. Nobody noticed or knew much about the low-lying MP appointed by President Kgalema Motlanthe.
That was until January, when Hajaig made a speech at a solidarity rally with the people of Gaza, uttering the crudely anti-Semitic sentiments she believes.
Clearly, she's unsuited to a job that demands nimble diplomatic skills, but she's got off this week with a half-hearted apology and a slap on the wrist. We fire nobody, leading to a culture of deep intolerance and impunity. Mix that in with the rise of political intolerance (again) and we have a dangerous cocktail in an election year.
One person has been killed and three shot and wounded in KwaZulu-Natal in the past fortnight as old factionalism raises its ugly head. Our politicians need the tolerance of priests and the negotiating skill of Kofi Annan to ensure the killing fields are not reignited. But a new generation is spoiling for a fight. To wit, the youth league leader Julius Malema: "We will campaign even in his [Inkatha Freedom Party leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi's] backyard or his house and recruit his children to join the ANC. KwaZulu-Natal is the home of the ANC."
To which Malema's counterpart in the IFP youth brigade, Thulasizwe Buthelezi, replied: "If the ANC provokes us then they must expect a reaction. We promise Malema and the ANC that our reaction will not be mild."
Cultural, religious and political tolerance were all hard-won gains of the democratic era. Lives were lost to enshrine tolerance in a democratic South Africa. Respect for tolerance is not an event or an empty statement but a life-long commitment that takes hard work. If our politicians will not practise it then we must demand it.
It is an old refrain, the United States of Africa. Marcus Garvey, Kwame Nkrumah and the former Guinean leader Sekou Toure are some of its more prominent balladeers. More recently the song has been taken up by the Libyan autocrat Moammar Gadaffi, who has turned from pan-Arabism to pan-Africanism as it has become clearer to him that he will never wield real influence in the Middle East.
"Brother leader" is frustrated by the reasoned objections of Kenya, South Africa and other countries that believe a gradual approach, starting with regional integration, is the only feasible way to bring the countries of the continent closer together. Gadaffi, it is clear, imagines himself lording it over the entire continent as a kind of super-president.
As if 40 years of uninterrupted dictatorship in Libya weren't enough, this week's African Union summit gave us some further clues to the kind of leadership this would entail.
After his election as AU president he was escorted by several men who claimed to be the traditional kings of Africa and who proclaimed Gadaffi the "king of kings". It would be funny if it wasn't farcical. Can we really expect Gadaffi to preach the message of democratic rule and good governance?
The summit's overriding agenda involved changing the AU Commission into the AU Authority, with Gadaffi taking over the chairmanship. This at a time when Guinea's soldiers have trashed that country's Constitution, Madagascar is in the grip of violence and the Democratic Republic of Congo and its neighbours continue to exchange vectors of instability.
As several leaders at the summit pointed out, this unified Africa would just be another layer of bureaucracy on a continent not famous for its efficiency.
The example of Zimbabwe is instructive. It took the Southern African Development Community (one of the more effective regional blocs) eight years to deal with the meltdown in that country. An alphabet soup of overlapping arrangements still ties countries to one another and their former colonists in higgledy-piggledy proliferation. It is ludicrous to insist on continental integration when the regional blocs are barely functional.
There are, of course, many sensible things that can be done to speed integration. Rationalise and strengthen regional bodies such as the SADC, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa and the Economic Community of West African States; liberalise trade and the movement of people; and show real continental leadership on governance.
That is an agenda that will take decades, but it has a better chance of delivering meaningful integration than Gadaffi's hollow fantasy.
The Zimbabwe Independent
2009 02 06
Thursday, 05 February 2009 16:13
WHILST I agree with Ndabezinhle Mkwananzi’s article Last Thing Zimbabwe Needs is GNU, Regime Change (Zimbabwe Independent January 30 to February 5), that the best way forward for Zimbabwe is a transitional government, not a GNU, one however wonders which world he lives in when arriving at the wild claims he passes for facts.
His claim that Robert Mugabe has strong support in Zimbabwe is a notable example. He states that it is false “that the people of present day Zimbabwe no longer want Mugabe”. According to him most Shona people still want him.
I can confidently state that the majority of the people that show support for Mugabe are prompted by fear or patronage and not respect for the man.
In recent months I have not come across one person who is not prepared to continue the suffering to see Mugabe and his henchmen evicted from power. On the other hand he states it as fact that many Shona people despise Morgan Tsvangirai. “They see him as a sell-out” he adds.
I do not interact with Zanu PF officials but of late I have not come across one Shona person who does not want Tsvangirai to be our president and lead us out of this mess.
Even during the last parliamentary elections in the farthest reaches of Mashonaland it was only a handful of “war veterans” who acted as if they were truly against him - probably because they had been paid.
At the rallies I attended the people showed their love for the man, and this was translated into votes for him in the March 2008 elections.
Those that voted for Mugabe did so largely because of the threats of violence after the election if they did not vote for Zanu PF.
Subsequent Tsvangirai rallies were attended by thousands of supporters, both Shona and Ndebele, even in their “stronghold” of Bulawayo, whilst the Arthur Mutambara led MDC could only manage a few hundred at most.
The generality of the electorate appreciate Tsvangirai for his unpretentious, cheerful and open nature which is in stark contrast to the arrogance of Zanu PF politicians.
Mugabe’s and Zanu PF’s last chance to redeem themselves and regain respect is to show their willingness to embrace the MDC and ensure that the GNU works for the benefit of the people of Zimbabwe, and not just themselves.
They also need to show remorse for the suffering they have inflicted on the people, especially MDC activists, over the years.
If they are not prepared to do this as a party then they may be able to exonerate themselves by doing it individually and distancing themselves from the party hardliners.
As stated above, if they are not prepared to co-operate, and carry on in their arrogant manner, the electorate, in the main, appears to be ready to continue their long drawn out suffering to see the perpetrators of their hardships see justice in the filth of our prisons.
So it is up to Zanu PF and not the MDC to make the GNU work.
Fri, 06 Feb 2009 01:31:00 +0000
RESERVE BANK of Zimbabwe Governor Dr Gideon Gono says there is need for the Government to review some aspects of the Indigenisation and Economic Empo-werment Act to enable the country to attract foreign investment.
The Act, which came into effect last year, seeks to empower indigenous people through the acquisition of majority shares in foreign-owned companies.
In his 2009 monetary policy statement presentation on Monday, Dr Gono said although indigenous empowerment was a noble idea, there were some clauses in the Act that were not conducive for foreign investors to do business in the country.
"We need to re-look at some of the clauses in the Act and amend them," he said.
"It’s not that we are anti-indigenisation, we want to be practical," he added.
He said the Act must also cater for foreign investment and lure more foreign companies to do business in Zimbabwe.
According to the Act, at least 51 percent of a foreign company’s shareholding should be held by local people.
There were also fears in the business circles that the programme could affect every company and disrupt operations.
However, Government has allayed such fears saying only a few selected entities would be affected.
It said the empowerment programme would first target firms in the mining and manufacturing sectors.
A board tasked to implement the Act was expected to be announced soon.
- New Ziana.
The Zimbabwe Independent
2009 02 06
Thursday, 05 February 2009 16:22
PATRICK Chinamasa should have one excuse and stick to it.
He told the Herald on Tuesday that he and Nicholas Goche had not gone to South Africa earlier that day for talks with the MDC negotiators because his party had “not been notified when the meeting would start”.
“We were never aware of the meeting. How can we attend a meeting we are not aware of?” he told the Herald.
Later in the day the excuse changed. Zanu PF negotiators couldn’t attend because they hadn’t received instructions from their “principal” who was attending the AU summit in Addis Ababa, we were told.
As for not being aware of it, the abortive meeting in Johannesburg had been agreed in Pretoria a week earlier when the Zimbabwe parties were told by Sadc heads to get to work “immediately” on the outstanding issues keeping them apart.
Tabled for discussion on Tuesday were the constitution and composition of the National Security Council, a review of the appointment of governors in line with what was agreed prior to September 15 2008, and a similar review of the appointment of Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono.
Why didn’t the Herald tell us any of this instead of inventing juvenile labels for Mark Malloch Brown who the newspaper claims is “Scottish-Rhodesian”?
This looked very much like an excuse for getting it wrong in the first place.
If he is of Scots ancestry, why didn’t they say so months ago instead of pretending he was Rhodesian?
As if it matters.
And how can British ministers pour cold water on themselves?
The Herald, accused of professional lapses, is actually getting worse.
And a big part of the problem is Mugabe’s publicists telling journalists what to say.
Morgan Tsvangirai is not coming “on board” anything. This is not Mugabe’s project, it is a consequence of his rejection by the electorate a year ago.
“This development is in line with our past record and current aspiration of building a nation that is anchored on the principle of justice, equality and neutrality,” Mugabe told the AU.
Did he really say that?
Over 30 people are currently languishing in the regime’s jails because they have not been afforded justice. Some were abducted and detained contrary to court orders.
And who are the beneficiaries of Zanu PF’s neutrality?
Is that neutrality reflected in the Herald or on ZBC?
Are law-enforcement agencies regarded as neutral or professional?
MDC leader Arthur Mutambara has moments of great insight and eloquence, and at other times he loses it altogether and behaves like a lunatic.
There was the notorious interview with Australia’s ABC last year where he got a bee in his bonnet about the West judging Africa and went ballistic. Nothing the interviewer could say made any difference. He simply raved and ranted like a man possessed.
Then there was the unfortunate incident at a US diplomatic function where he lost it once again and convinced a number of people present that he would make a very poor future leader.
This is all a pity because Mutambara is a talented and thoughtful participant in our political process. But we need him to exercise some self-control. In Davos it seems the demons surfaced again.
According to a report in the Herald Mutambara told sceptics of Zimbabwe’s unity accord to “shut up” and listen to what Zimbabweans wanted.
“It’s not for Britain and America to judge our agreement,” he declared. “Your job as America or Britain is to support what we try to do. All the sceptics must now shut up and support what Zimbabweans want.”
In other words give us the money and don’t ask any questions.
And how are Zimbabweans themselves responding?
Are they speaking with one voice?
Or are many people understandably sceptical of any arrangement that leaves President Mugabe free to govern as he wishes?
It is the sceptics who draw attention to the record of those now claiming to occupy the moral high ground. It is the sceptics who insist that there should be no assistance to the new regime until it has stopped locking up its critics and allowed full democratic freedoms.
What do Mutambara’s colleagues in the MDC feel about the agreement?
Are they without their reservations?
It’s time Paul Themba Nyathi said something.
Britain, the US and the European Union will be asked to contribute large sums towards the recovery of Zimbabwe’s economy. Are they not allowed to know how the money will be spent?
Are they not permitted to ask if it will go the same way as the £44 million Britain gave to land reform in the 1980s and 90s?
Is that not their “job”?
Mutambara should stop playing the demagogue. There are enough of those around to last us a lifetime. What we need is sobriety and good sense. Please Arthur, provide us with that.
Chucking out some old editions of the Herald this week, Muckraker came across a report of the Bindura “People’s Conference” where Water minister Walter Mzembi insisted there was no going back on Zinwa.
Some Zanu PF MPs were advocating the return of water affairs to municipalities, he noted, but “this is not a parliamentary issue but rather a caucus matter”, he said.
“Despite massive donor support to municipalities in the past, this model of municipal ownership failed, hence the current water infrastructure decay we find ourselves in.”
Oh, so that’s the reason for the decay is it?
Patrick Chinamasa last week didn’t seem to agree. He finally thrust a stake through the heart of the monster called Zinwa. But it was significant that many Zanu PF supporters at Bindura had called for Zinwa to remain in state hands.
Doesn’t this say it all about the ruling party?
Despite the evidence of decay all around them, they are still prepared to blame others. And when municipalities, which provided a good service in the past, say they are prepared to take back responsibility, they are blocked by party loyalists.
Zinwa is emblematic of a sick parastatal that is rotten from top to bottom.
Chinamasa did the right thing last week in clipping its wings, although he stopped short of the ultimate sentence - dissolution. Now it’s time to sort out Air Zimbabwe, Tel*One, Net*One, the State Trading Corp (Obert Mpofu’s corner store), Agribank, the MIC, ZTA and the whole rotten lot of them.
Tendai Biti had denied that he plotted to oust Morgan Tsvangirai and appoint whites to cabinet posts. The Herald alleged all sorts of scurrilous things about Biti in articles published several weeks ago.
But his lawyers denied reports that he was plotting to ditch Tsvangirai and hold up formation of the inclusive government.
Muckraker believes Biti was wrong to mobilise his lawyers in this way. The Herald, whatever its manifest shortcomings, especially when it comes to inventing stories, is perfectly entitled to speculate about supposed plots within the MDC-Tsvangirai.
This is the stuff of politics. It just looks a bit daft when the story remains exclusive to the Herald’s political desk!
You find competing factions in all democratic political parties around the world trying to move things in their direction. Only in Zimbabwe do they call such legitimate political jockeying “plots.” But the Herald must be allowed to be daft if it wants to be.
That is its right. Biti has more of a case when his detractors resort to forgeries.
We hope all those MDC-Tsvangirai functionaries who are demanding the release of political prisoners such as Jestina Mukoko and Gande Mudzingwa will not forget the three farmers from Ruwa who are accused of using their outward bound camp as a militia training centre.
Their case has disappeared below the radar. John Naested, Angus Thompson and Brian Baxter are still held at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison while the state tries to find a case against them.
The Herald has tried to be helpful by branding them Selous Scouts. In fact Naested was in the RLI. The others were no more than reservists, we gather. Their camp is known for training boy scouts and young Christian groups.
A Zanu PF chef in the area has reportedly had his eye on one of the farms for some time which could explain a lot.
At least the International Bar Association is watching the situation in Zimbabwe carefully. It has blamed Sadc leaders for looking the other way.
The IBA’s Human Rights Institute chair, Justice Richard Goldstone, said the legal watchdog “deplores the inaction of Sadc leaders on the unlawful actions of the Zimbabwe government.
“Regional leaders cannot stand by while these unlawful detentions continue in Zimbabwe and still ask the rest of the international community to wait on them to solve the crisis. A key term of the power-sharing deal was that rights violations would stop.”
This is something we need to remind ourselves next time we hear Sadc and AU leaders calling for the lifting of sanctions. What about state sanctions against its critics?
What about charges that have no legal basis?
What about reports of torture?
What have Sadc leaders said about any of these?
National Security minister Didymus Mutasa admitted in a High Court affidavit last month that state security agents seized and detained a wide range of activists on his orders.
Let’s hope regional leaders are reminded of this the next time we hear the parrot-call for sanctions to be lifted. Yes, please lift sanctions, in particular those being carried out by the regime against the people of Zimbabwe.
Muckraker will soon be inviting entries for the Mother of all Potholes contest we hold every year. Last year’s contest was won by a family in Strathaven who pointed out to us the Olympic-size swimming pool in the road outside their house.
An early entry this year has been the hole dug by municipal workers before Christmas on Prince Edward St outside Alex Sports Club in Milton Park and left there.
All sorts of things have been planted in it as civic-minded motorists and locals seek to warn other drivers of the dangers posed by this municipal canyon. But it is now empty again waiting to swallow up some poor unsuspecting motorist.
We don’t really understand why Alex members don’t become Good Samaritans and try to save tyres, suspension systems and perhaps even lives by putting something prominent and permanent in there given the reluctance of the city’s roads department to do so. Or is Zinwa the one?
And by the way, municipal “workers” are driving around in a tractor and trailer offering to clear rubbish for a fee.
A Chinese restaurant in Milton Park began this practice by paying to have their rubbish removed and now it has spread to other parts of Harare. Large amounts command a fee of US$ 100 which you may agree is quite steep considering they are paid to do this in the first place.
The municipal workers union, we should add for those who don’t know this, is a Zanu PF fiefdom which took on a large number of recruits at the time of the 2000 election. They have occasional work stoppages and lengthy holidays - like for weeks over Christmas and New Year - where their absence is barely noticed.
They clearly do little actual work, but their main sphere of delinquency is grass-cutting, which they hate, so this work gets farmed out to other groups who also appear to be the beneficiaries of party patronage.
Occasionally the same tractor whose attendants seek rubbish removal payments can be seen towing primitive grass-cutting implements. But only very occasionally is such a rare mechanical beast spotted in the undergrowth. Mostly the grass is just left to grow - rather like the potholes.
It is all a municipal merry-go-round!
The Zimbabwe Independent
Eric Bloch Column
2009 02 06
Thursday, 05 February 2009 16:30
LAST week’s presentation to parliament by the acting Minister of Finance, Senator Chinamasa, of the 2009 National Budget Statement was remarkable and intriguing in one respect.
It was probably the first such Statement in the last 20 years which not only attempted to give genuine and credible recognition to prevailing economic circumstances, but did so with minimal attribution of culpability for Zimbabwean economic ills to mythical, malice driven actions of third parties. Instead, it sought to recognise economic realties, and to lay down some foundations for those realities to be addressed effectively.
Inevitably, there was reference to impacts of internationally imposed economic sanctions, but uncharacteristically it was very low key, and innumerable other negative factors were also recognised.
Moreover, and in relation to almost all governmental statements in the recent past, most unusually, the Acting Minister actually paid tribute to the international community for humanitarian and other aid extended to Zimbabwe, and recorded thanks to diverse countries and organizations, including “the European Union, as well as Australia, Canada, China, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Switzerland, the United States, among other countries”.
Abandoning the previously endless statements of denial of facts, the budget statement acknowledged many of the grievous economic circumstances prevailing in Zimbabwe.
In contrast to almost eight months of spurious contentions in 2008 that Zimbabwe was then enjoying “the mother of all agricultural seasons”, the Acting Minister stated that the agricultural sector had “poor performance”, and although mainly ascribing that performance to adverse climatic conditions, nevertheless conceded a range of other contributing factors.
This unusual display of realism, albeit muted in some respects, was emphasised by the statement’s identification of many key issues that need to be urgently addressed by government, and by pursuit of appropriate fiscal and other policies. These included:
* Re-engaging the international community for the necessary financial cooperation over economic reconstruction;
* Achieving political cohesion and unity of purposes;
* Primary focus upon inflation reduction, achieving food security and productivity in agriculture, effective water management, assured fuel and electricity supplies, improved delivery of health and education services, transport infrastructural rehabilitation, improved telecommunication, creation of public enterprise efficiency, stimulation of the productive sectors, ensuring skills retention, and much else.
However, as surprising transparent and factual as was most of the Acting Minister’s evaluation of the current dismal state of the Zimbabwean economy, and of the necessary transformation objectives, the declared budgetary measures and targets, and the stated intended actions to achieve them, whether or not genuinely intended, are unfortunately very likely to prove to be fictional.
First, and foremost, and correctly recognising “the need to contain inflation through tightening of our fiscal and monetary policies”, government’s stated intent for 2009 is a balanced budget, linking expenditures to actual revenues.
This is a very necessary and commendable objective, but after 29 years of unending profligacy, one must fear that government’s inability to contain expenditure is endemic and will continue in the year ahead.
This fear is reinforced by there being no declaration of intent to reduce the gargantuan public service in general, and the defence forces in particular, the intent that the about to be formed “inclusive government” is to have 31 ministers, over and above innumerable deputies, and the attendant infrastructures, there is no declared intent to consolidate the excessive number of embassies, consulates and missions that Zimbabwe has abroad, and the like.
The improbability of government succeeding in matching its revenues and expenditures is intensified by a probable overly-optimistic expectation of a 2% economic growth in 2009, with consequential fiscal revenue inflow projection.
It is too late for agriculture to contribute to this year’s projected economic growth, the mining sector’s productivity is presently reduced, mainly due to non-receipt of foreign currency earnings, the manufacturing sector’s productivity has declined from 75% of capacity in 2002 to a niggardly 10% at the present time, and all the other economic sectors are in similar decline.
Thus, even if the governmental intent of a “balanced budget” is genuine, which cannot be taken for granted, the reality is that it will probably prove to be fiction.
Similarly, scepticism is inevitable as to government’s statement that it will now deregulate and liberalise the economy. On the one hand it has very commendably, although excessively belatedly, determined to discontinue the economically destructive price control operations of the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC).
It has also, very correctly, decided to “dollarise” the economy, legitimising that which factually exists. But it is doing so via a Reserve Bank licensing system.
So unnecessary regulation and control is to be applied to the “dollarisation”, in blatant conflict with the stated intention to bring about economic freedom, with the economy driven by market forces, instead of continuing to be an excessively command economy. Thus, the so-called economic liberalisation will clearly be fiction, not fact.
Yet another inconsistency is the contention that government’s polices are targeted at restoring viability to manufacturing and other sectorial operations, and yet in the budget statement the Acting Minister announced new tariffs for electricity supplies which are three to four times those applied elsewhere in the region.
How on earth is Zimbabwean industry to achieve export market competitiveness and growth when it is burdened with such onerously great operational charges?
That targeted industry recovery and growth will prove to be fiction, and not fact, by such unrealistic governmental pricing policies.
The acting Minister noted that agricultural sector recovery and performance is contingent upon adequate available financing of farmers. To this end he stated that the Reserve Bank “will be coordinating measures to restore and enhance the level of participation by our banks and other financial institutions in lending to our farmers”.
But regrettably he was silent on how those banks and financial institutions will be protected with adequate security for debt repayment by farmers. For so long as farmers do not have title to their lands or, in the alternative, negotiability of their land leases, most will have no collateral to give as funding security.
So the intended provision of working capital to the agricultural sector must be expected to be fiction, not fact.
The budget statement appears, therefore, to be a pronounced mix of fact and fiction. It factually recognised many Zimbabwean economic negatives, but to a dismally appalling extent, the declared intended process to reverse those negatives must be expected to prove to be fiction.
February 5, 2009
ROBERT Gabriel Mugabe is up to his old tricks again. Speaking at the African Union conference in Addis Ababa, the widely despised Zimbabwean "President" banged on about decolonisation and the wickedness of the West. As usual, he blamed everyone except himself for the hunger, disease, poverty and corruption rampant in the country he has ruled for 28 years. Inevitably, other dictators and impostors egged him on.
Meanwhile, progressive and properly elected African leaders from Kenya, Liberia, Ghana, Botswana, Zambia and elsewhere bit their tongues. Apparently the old fraud was in jovial mood. He had dodged another bullet. Until the Unity Government was signed, sealed and delivered last week, Mugabe had been worried about the African Union conference. Whereas his neighbours had been mostly malleable, an increasing number of other African leaders had seen through him. Moreover, a black man had taken office in the US, pushing him and his henchmen towards the negotiating table.
Of course, Mugabe took his vast entourage with him to Ethiopia. Not long ago he took 54 people with him to a UN meeting. On the way, they spent a few days shopping in Cairo, repeating the spree on the return journey. All of them were paid $ US10,000 a day for expenses. Locals call Mugabe's wife "The First Shopper".
For all Mugabe cares, his people can die. Many of them have obliged. On Thursday, I sent money to an extremely sick student in Chitungwiza, a sprawling high-density suburb outside Harare, so that he could get treatment at a private cholera clinic. Locals regard the public hospitals as "death camps". Their country - not Mugabe's - is in a pitiful state.
The bread basket of Africa has been turned into a peasant society run by a military and political elite.
Of course, none of it is Mugabe's fault, nor any of his government people, who have as much blood on their hands and money in their accounts. It's not their fault. Like cholera, it's a Western conspiracy. Greed and fear drive them on from one outrage to another. All of them, especially Mugabe, are terrified of losing power because they are terrified of being called to account for the Matabeland massacres of the 1980s.
The International Criminal Court might also be interested in the repression, killings and torture used to retain power after the Movement for Democratic Change started winning elections 10 years ago. Even now 30 opposition supporters languish under lock and key. Zanu-PF has also framed MDC members of parliament.
Now Mugabe has played his last card, joining the MDC in a unity government. He had no choice. The noose was tightening. The African Union, Botswana and the UN had outed him. Even the compliant African National Congress in South Africa, which had turned a blind eye to the blatant rigging of elections from 2001 onwards, had wavered. Thabo Mbeki had been sacked and his replacements were less obsessed with post-colonial claptrap. They could see starving bodies, mothers swimming across crocodile-invested rivers to get into their country, diseases spreading. And the unions, part of the tripartite government, were shocked at the mistreatment of the common man. Moreover, South Africa feared that the cholera epidemic might spread south. They were right, it has. Not a good look for the 2010 World Cup.
Sensing that time was running out, Mugabe decided to do a deal. Previously the sole purpose of the talks had been to keep him and his party in power as long as possible while freeing up vast overseas bank accounts that had been so inconveniently frozen. Everything else was a charade designed to placate agitated Africans, silence Western busybodies and satisfy the new paymasters in the East. Mugabe never had the slightest intention of giving up office. Although he speaks blithely about staying only until the people reject him, he does not mean it. They reject him and his gangsters at every opportunity, only to be thwarted by rigging so flagrant that only ANC overseers fail to notice it.
Last time it took Zanu-PF two months to get Morgan Tsvangirai's vote under 50 per cent so that a rerun was required. After that it was just a matter of killing and repressing until the opposition withdrew.
Mugabe has destroyed everything and everyone in his path. Three healthy teenage girls in families I know have died recently and their families blame Mugabe and his evil cohorts.
The MDC was also minded to get the best deal it could. They know they are sharing a bed with snakes. Already Mugabe has broken many promises from the memorandum of understanding.
Likewise, his stories about sanctions are a distortion. Financial and travel restrictions were eventually imposed on the Zanu-PF elite. International bodies finally stopped propping up an evil regime. But humanitarian support has continued, as Zanu-PF anticipated. By no means should Australia or anyone else lift the sanctions on Zanu-PF individuals. It is much too early for that. Let the money go towards helping sick and hungry Zimbabweans. After all, it was theirs in the first place.
Peter Roebuck is an Age senior writer.
Written by By Confidence Musariri
Wednesday, 04 February 2009
THE country’s preparations for the FIFA World Cup 2010 are beginning to irk South Africa’s Local Organising Committee (LOC), which claims to have received little input from Namibia, a country viewed as one of the greatest tourist attractions in the region.
FIFA spokesperson Delia Fischer recently announced that FIFA and Match Hospitality, its official hospitality partner, were trying to work with South Africa’s neighbors to ensure supporters enjoy a “truly African experience.”
“This includes tours to Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique and Botswana, but not Zimbabwe at this stage because of the economic and cholera crisis in that country,” said Fischer, adding that all 32 World Cup teams would be based in South Africa, “as we are busy ensuring this country has the infrastructure and is safe enough to host teams. However, we will be monitoring the Zimbabwe situation.”
Nonetheless, Namibia is accused of being “very slow” in revealing its position to 2010, despite its obvious value to the FIFA World Cup. The Super Eagles of Nigeria recently cited most of Southern Africa as being “out of touch” and said it would send Assistant coach, Daniel Amokachi to South Africa and Zambia to shop for training facilities in the region, ahead of their make-or-break 2010 qualifier against Mozambique on March 29.
A 2010 technical committee was set up by Cabinet in Namibia almost two years ago, headed by Permanent Secretary of Sports, Dr Peingondjabi Shipoh. Informanté recently learnt that the Committee is yet to have a major meeting to date, and that Shipoh and his team “are still waiting for new instructions from the Cabinet Committee on 2010.”
“I am yet to report to my political boss. When the Cabinet Committee meets, it is there that we will expect new directives,” said Shipoh.
The Cabinet Committee is headed by Sports Minister, Reverend Willem Konjore.
Efforts to reach Minister Konjore proved fruitless before going to print but Deputy Minster Pohamba Shifeta, noted that there had been delays with regard to Namibia’s 2010 position.
“The report is finalised. Cabinet Committee has to meet and make recommendations, which will be passed to the Cabinet where the government will make its final position on 2010, and then revert back to the technical committee. But we are really going slowly,” he said.
N$ 3.3 million was approved as part of a Consultancy Study on 2010, but it is unclear whether a final report was ever issued. “That figure was not spent all of it. It was calculated by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and National Planning Commission before we took over,” said Shipoh.
Namibia’s failure to market itself at last year’s Football Expo in South Africa, together with the country’s latest air safety record and the current global economic crisis, are contributing to the country’s challenges in preparing for 2010.
“Namibia is not so much optimistic about 2010…it does not look so good. There is not any major practical strategy that we are currently executing to attract sport tourists,” Digu //Naobeb, CEO of the Namibia Tourism Board was quoted as saying.