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Ministers demand houses, vehicles as GNU expires

February 8, 2013 in Politics

MINISTERS from the three main parties in the coalition government are
demanding exit packages consisting of houses in leafy suburbs, residential
stands and top-of-the-range vehicles which they want delivered before the
government of national unity (GNU)’s tenure ends in June.

Staff Writer

Zimbabwe has a bloated cabinet comprising President Robert Mugabe, Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, one vice-president after the recent death of
John Nkomo, two deputy prime ministers and 35 cabinet ministers. There are
also six ministers of state and 18 deputy ministers who are all expecting a
“golden handshake” before they leave office.

The exit packages would cost the bankrupt Treasury millions of dollars in
hard currency.

In addition, MPs are also pressing for vehicles, claiming the ones they were
given at the beginning of their current tenure are now in bad shape,
especially after taking a battering during the constitution-making exercise.

Most legislators hired out their vehicles to Copac and were paid for the
services. MPs are also demanding residential stands.

The House of Assembly started off with 210 legislators, but that number is
now down to 190 because of deaths and suspensions. The senate had 93
members, a third of them unelected, among them 10 chiefs, 10 governors and
those appointed by the principals. There are now 80 left.

Mugabe, in consultation with premier Morgan Tsvangirai, is expected to
proclaim election dates soon, which would mark the end of the inclusive

Cabinet ministers — who made a fuss about cars when they came into office
four years ago — are, however, demanding golden handshakes before leaving
office and have in recent high profile government meetings, including
cabinet, pressed Mugabe to ensure their demands are met.

“It seems the ministers are drawing strength from the fact that they know
the GNU built houses for Tsvangirai, the vice-presidents and the deputy
prime ministers.

“The ministers’ demands are likely to leave the fiscus drained if they are
met and raise questions on the government’s priorities,” a source said.

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Meikles mogul donates cars to Zanu PF

February 8, 2013 in Politics

LOCAL business mogul John Moxon, widely regarded as one of the richest men
in Zimbabwe, has nailed his political colours firmly to the Zanu PF mast by
donating brand new vehicles to spearhead the party’s campaign for crucial
general elections later this year, the Zimbabwe Independent has established.

Brian Chitemba/Owen Gagare

Informed sources said Moxon, Meikles Africa Ltd chairman, handed over the
vehicles to Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa at the party
headquarters last year to boost President Robert Mugabe and his party’s bid
to remain in power.

The cash-strapped Zanu PF has acquired 550 vehicles at a cost of about US$14
million for its election campaigns, despite failing to pay party workers for
months, resulting in speculation over the source of funding with many
believing they had been purchased using diamond proceeds.

For three years in a row, Zanu PF admitted during its annual conferences it
was broke despite fears it has built a war chest for elections from Marange
diamond revenues, although events suggest the party might actually be

Since the introduction of the multi-currency regime, Zanu PF has been
relying on an overdraft with a local bank which amounted to US$5 million in
February last year.

The funding was converted into a loan of US$4,5 million and a US$500 000
overdraft which attracts an 11% interest per annum, resulting in an
unsustainable repayment obligation of US$125 000 per month.

Its total expenditure for last year was US$7,9 million, with a huge chunk
going towards staff salaries (US$2,4 million), Gweru conference (US$2,6
million) and loan repayment and establishment fees (US$1,7 million).

Highly-placed sources told the Independent the party was relying heavily on
donations –– which amounted to US$2,6 million last year –– to fund its

Moxon –– once targeted by Zanu PF bigwigs during the controversial Kingdom
Meikles Africa Ltd demerger saga — reportedly played an important role in
the acquisition of an assortment of single and double-cab 44 vehicles,
including ranges of Toyota Hilux, Nissan NP300s, Ford Ranger and Mazda

Curiously, around the same time, Moxon’s flagship company Meikles Africa
Ltd, formed a mining arm, Meikles Resources (Pvt) Ltd, and applied for a
diamond mining licence currently being considered by the Mines ministry,
with the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) as a possible
partner in a joint venture.

ZMDC chairman Goodwills Masimirembwa confirmed this week his organisation
was considering Meikles Resources’ application for a joint venture mining
operation in the diamond-rich Chiadzwa minefields.

In the group’s interim results for the period to September 30 2012, Moxon
said profits from Meikles Resources were expected to exceed those
anticipated for the entire group over the coming years and would therefore
be of material significance.

It was not clear whether the vehicle donation was linked to the application
for the diamond mining licence although sources said the two could not be

However, Moxon said Meikles had not supplied vehicles, but said a company
“with whom we have a connection” donated some vehicles, claiming he was not
sure of the beneficiary.

“A company with whom we have a connection donated a small number of
vehicles, but I’m not sure exactly whom they were donated to as we have not
seen any registration certificates,” said Moxon.

He said 500 or more vehicles would cost over US$15 million, adding no one
connected to him would have that kind of money.

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo declined to comment, referring questions
to Mutasa.

When approached for comment, Mutasa said: “Tell me who is the source of your
story. If you can’t tell me then I won’t comment.”
When the Independent refused to reveal its sources, Mutasa said: “I can
neither confirm nor deny the story.”

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Electoral amendments will determine poll dates: Ncube

February 8, 2013 in Politics

CONTRARY to reports elections are likely to be held at the expiry of the
life of the current parliament and completion of the new constitution, MDC
president Welshman Ncube has said electoral amendments which should be
syncronised with the new governance charter will determine dates for the

Report by Elias Mambo

Ncube said elections can only be held around September after the Electoral
Act has been aligned with the new constitution.

“Even if nothing is done to dissolve parliament, the constitution says
whether you want it or not, parliament will stand dissolved on June 29,
2013,” Ncube said.

“However, completion of the new constitution does not mean the country can
hold elections. There are other processes which must be done such as
electoral reforms to introduce proportional representation. There is no way
elections can be held without such amendments,” he said.

Ncube also said elections can only be held 60 days after the president has
proclaimed the date.

“After the March referendum the new constitution will be passed into law
between April and May, the electoral amendments need to be effected and then
the president will proclaim the date for elections,” he said.

However, the inclusive government partners are facing a huge challenge in
implementing the electoral roadmap as contrasting views are emerging, with
Zanu PF threatening that no reforms would be entertained after the adoption
of the draft constitution.

The roadmap requires that principals in the inclusive government agree on a
raft of reforms which are “milestones and signposts that must be executed
and implemented before the holding of free and fair elections”.

Under the elections roadmap, the parties agreed on the issue of sanctions,
the constitution-making process, media reforms, electoral reforms,
restoration of the rule of law, freedom of association and assembly and the
actual election process.

Currently only the draft constitution has been completed and would soon be
put to a referendum and elections held thereafter.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said the constitution-making process was
the only yardstick, according to the GPA (Global Political Agreement) that
has been delaying elections.

“Our position as Zanu PF is very clear; general elections should be held
after the completion of the constitution-making process,” Gumbo said.

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Zim’s prisons remain hellholes

February 8, 2013 in News

ZIMBABWE’S prisons have invariably been described as hellholes — places of
extreme misery or squalor — by serving and former inmates.

Report by Wongai Zhangazha

Former Chikurubi Maximum Prison inmate Simon Mann, accused of trying to
overthrow Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema in 2004,
described the prison as a nightmare as it had no ventilation or light, and
was lice-infested. He also bemoaned the poor diet.

While the standards reached their nadir during the country’s
hyperinflationary crisis around 2008, the situation has improved over the
years since the country’s adoption of a multi-currency regime. However,
conditions still fall below the required basic standards of prisons mostly
due to lack of funding.

For prison authorities, dealing with inmates with mental problems poses a
major challenge. Mentally challenged inmates are forced to share cells with
other prisoners due to lack of space and facilities.

This is a source of conflict and discomfort among inmates as most of them
are not tolerant of their mentally challenged cellmates.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime 2009 handbook
titled Prisoners with Special Needs, the majority of prison systems
worldwide fail to provide an environment which safeguards the mental
well-being of its inhabitants.

Isolation from society, poor prison conditions, overcrowding and lack of
safety and privacy induce distress and anxiety in most prisoners, which may
develop into more serious mental challenges with a serious risk of harming
themselves or others.

Last week during a media tour of Harare Central Remand Prison, journalists
had the opportunity to visit prisoners’ cells and interact with them and
staff over general conditions.

The prison’s clinic matron Thembekile Tshili said although the general
situation at the prison has improved, although the major challenge her
clinic faces is dealing with mentally ill inmates.
“Providing appropriate conditions to cater for inmates with mental illness
is a big challenge as far as health issues are concerned given what we have
had to deal with at the clinic,” Tshili said.

“There is a psychiatric unit at Chikurubi prison to cater for inmates, but
for them to be taken there we have to wait for a court order. Unfortunately,
many things can happen during this waiting period which can be long.”

Tshili said the inmates are in need of special care and by staying with
normal inmates, they pose a danger to themselves and others.
To exacerbate the situation, the clinic runs out of effective painkillers
and other drugs to treat patients.

Zimbabwe Association for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation of the Offender
(Zacro) chief executive officer Edson Chiota said his organisation was in
the process of negotiating for better conditions for inmates with mental

“While I cannot pre-empt the details as we have not entered a memorandum as
yet with our partner, general check-ups and reviews of inmates with mental
problems are not as frequent as we would like,” said Chiota. “At times it
takes more than a month for our two doctors to see the (mental) patients.”

He said that it was important for mentally challenged inmates to be
separated from normal inmates for their own safety as well as that of other

Chiota said apart from being faced with this challenge, prisons did not have
enough resources to cater for other basic needs of prisoners.

“They do not have enough uniforms for prisoners to change. Due to the
shortage of resources, there are not enough units of correctional processes
other than punishment to help rehabilitate prisoners.
“In 1980, there were beds in prisons, where are they today? Every week they
would be given bathing soap and toothpaste; is it still available and are
towels being changed? Is a balanced diet still provided under the basic
feeding scheme?” asked Chiota.

In his speech before the tour, Zimbabwe Prison Service (ZPS) Commissioner
retired Major-General Paradzai Zimondi said they were generally
“experiencing overcrowding mainly in remand prisons as people continue to
commit crimes while it takes long for suspects to stand trial”.

He said while they were trying to ensure the safety and security of all
prisoners and humane treatment as enshrined in the United Nations Millennium
Standard Rules for the Treatment of Offenders, they were failing to
satisfactorily provide these necessities mainly due to inadequate funding
from the fiscus.

Zimondi said inadequate funding also greatly affected ZPS operations
resulting in them failing to fully meet medical requirements. He appealed
for donations in cash or kind to improve prisoners’ welfare.

He also said although the ZPS benefitted from the land reform programme, not
much has been produced for inmates’ consumption forcing them to rely heavily
on government funding.

Zimondi also admitted prison infrastructure needed upgrading, but financial
constraints remained a major hurdle.

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Dispute erupts over Bikita diamond mines

February 8, 2013 in News

A DISPUTE has erupted over the mining of recently discovered diamonds in the
Bikita district of Masvingo province, with former freedom fighters in the
area alleging corruption and contesting the “unclear circumstances”
surrounding mining of the gems.

Report by Wongai Zhangazha

Kimberlitic diamonds were discovered in Bikita’s Village One and Two under
Chief Budzi last year resulting in a number of mining firms jostling to
acquire rights to extract the gems.

Bayrich Enterprises, a Harare-based mining company whose directors are
Kennedy Ngirazi and Edward Buta, is already involved in mining diamonds in
the area.

Sources in Bikita say senior police and army officers are also involved.

The new mining activities – which include tantalite – have caused intense
fighting in the district with war veterans, war collaborators and
ex-political prisoners, detainees and restrictees in Bikita expressing
displeasure over the issuance of mining rights to people from outside the

Through their lawyer James Makiya, the former freedom fighters wrote a
letter to the Environmental Management Agency (Ema) in Masvingo on January
22 2013 expressing “grave concern at recent mining ventures that are setting
up in Bikita under very unclear circumstances”.

Reads part of the letter: “One such operation is in Bikita East, under chief
Budzi area, whilst the other is in Bikita West under Chief Marozva.
Information at hand is that the operation set up in Bikita East is a diamond
mine, whilst diggings already taking place in Marozva are for tantalite and
other minerals.

“Our clients believe that the above operations are illegal as they did not
follow all procedures in the mining laws as well as environmental and
empowerment laws.”

They demanded that Ema furnish them with “vital information within 24 hours”
upon receipt of the letter on the following questions:
“Did Ema certify the two mining projects to take place? Are there Ema
reports on the two projects? If so, when were they complied and did Ema
involve local communities in assessing the two projects?”

The war veterans’ letter was also copied to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption
Commission, Police General Headquarters’ legal department and the police in

The former fighters are also contemplating taking the matter to the High
Court for redress and are pushing for a physical inspection and verification
of documentation regarding the two operations.

Chief Marozva confirmed illegal mining activities are taking place in his
area involving tantalite. “A lot of illegal panners descended in this area
(Marozva) with intentions to mine for tantalite mineral,” Chief Marozva told
the Zimbabwe Independent.

“Among those who came to mine the mineral illegally was a big company that
came with its equipment. I am not sure of its name. After the intervention
of the police we no longer see it and even the illegal panners, though we
know that some come back during the evening.”

Bikita district administrator Edgars Seenza said he was not aware of the
accusations. “I do not know about the letter,” Seenza said. “Some time last
year there were allegations that operations were not being done lawfully,
but when we got there with the Ministry of Mines, Ema and council, we were
advised by the provincial mining engineer and commissioner that they were
aware of the activities and authority had been given for mining.”

Seenza said Bayrich Enterprise, which is mining in Bikita East, was not
working with the Chinese but had engaged them during the prospective period.
Contacted for comment, Bayrich Enterprise director Ngirazi continuously said
he was in a meeting. Efforts to get a comment from Masvingo Ema officials
Milton Muusha and Somandla Ndlovu were fruitless as they were said to be
locked in meetings.

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MDC draws up economic blueprint

February 8, 2013 in Politics

THE MDC led by Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube has come up
with an economic blueprint acronymed Actions (Access, Control,
Transformation, Initiative, Organisation, New Technologies, Sustainability),
which focuses on harnessing the country’s vast natural and human resources
to rebuild the country.

Report by Brian Chitemba

The policy framework was drawn up by the party’s leadership at a policy
review workshop last week where they claimed that Actions was a better
policy document than MDC-T’s Juice (Jobs, Upliftment, Investment Capital and
the Environment) and the Zanu PF’s empowerment programme, according to MDC
research and policy co-ordination director Qhubani Moyo.

The party believes access to resources, power and justice; control of
destiny and welfare; transformation of communities and strengthening
livelihoods of Zimbabweans; initiative for wealth, job creation;
organisation of all public institutions to effectively deliver services; new
technologies for propelling the country into the digital age and
sustainability of the habitat, the environment, life and all national policy
programmes are the answer to the country’s current economic woes.

The policy framework proposes the reconstruction of the country into a
developmental state through utilising the vibrant human capital and natural
resource base.

“Zimbabwe is endowed with diverse natural resources that are on high demand
on global markets. Such resources bear the potential to catalyse the
development of indispensable technological advancement that improves life,
utilities and related social aesthetics,” reads the MDC policy document.

Zimbabwean diamonds constitute an estimated 25% of the world’s diamond
deposits and have the potential of constituting a quarter of the world’s
diamond market. The country is also endowed with vast platinum deposits, as
well as gold, iron ore, manganese, chrome, uranium, tin, nickel, emeralds
and coal.

The MDC noted that agriculture has the potential of boosting the economy
with cash crops such as maize, tobacco, coffee, flowers, tea, cotton and

“The country has the potential to drive herself into proper economic
transformation, but requires prudent, informed and progressive leadership.
Such a leadership could identify key areas of production and engage the
right technical experts to pace-set in economic transformation through
starting real productivity that creates jobs, generates profits and boosts
the economy while improving the national standard of living,” it said.

The blueprint also places the reconstruction of national institutions at the
centre of the national recovery and stability.

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Govt requests UNDP to mobilise funds for polls

February 8, 2013 in News

FINANCE minister Tendai Biti and Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, who
were tasked by the unity government principals to source funding for the
referendum and general elections, have requested the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) to help government mobilise close to US$225

Report by Elias Mambo

In a letter to UNDP resident representative Alain Noudehou dated February 4,
the two ministers revealed Zimbabwe only has “a combined budget of US$25
million yet the two processes are currently estimated to be in excess of
US$250 million”.

“On behalf of the government of Zimbabwe, we formally request UNDP for
assistance in mobilising resources to cater for the funding gap for both the
constitutional referendum and general elections,” read the letter.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) had budgeted close to US$220 million
for the two events, but the amount has been reviewed downwards to US$192
million. The reduction in the budget followed the scrapping of the
delimitation exercise.

At least US$85 million is needed for the referendum, while elections would
require US$107 million.

Biti and Chinamasa also called for the setting up of a formal structure
between government and the UNDP.

“It is our hope that a formal structure in respect of the referendum and
elections between yourselves and government be set up similar to the project
board that dealt with the constitution-making process.”
The UNDP played a crucial role by mobilising close to US$21 million towards
the controversial four-year constitution-making process that gobbled up
about US$50 million.

However, the request comes at a time the United Nations is appealling for
US$131 million for humanitarian assistance to meet food, water and emergency
needs in the country.

Noudehou said last month at least US$110 million of the money would be used
to provide food for more than 1,6 million Zimbabweans facing starvation.

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Copac draft takes away power from the people — Madhuku

February 8, 2013 in News

THE National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) has demanded that ordinary
Zimbabweans be given a minimum of two months to fully grasp provisions of
the draft constitution, which it described as “a selfish document by
politicians”, before making a choice in the referendum.

Report by Wongai Zhangazha

NCA chairperson Lovemore Madhuku told a press conference in Harare on
Tuesday that the draft constitution retained all the powers of the
president, giving away the “people’s power permanently”.

This was after Copac co-chairperson Douglas Mwonzora gave notice to move a
motion in the House of Assembly to adopt the report on the progress and
outcome of the constitution-making process and the draft constitution this

“The NCA calls upon the inclusive government to ensure that the referendum
is credible and that the people be afforded a free and fair framework to
exercise their choice over the matter,” said Madhuku.

“Our lawyers have been instructed to make an urgent challenge in the Supreme
Court should a shorter period be given.”

He demanded provisions of the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) be
suspended to allow for campaign meetings saying the NCA reserves its right
to campaign without being restricted by Posa should its demands be rejected.

“It’s not about what people wanted or said but about the selfish and
personal interests of politicians. We need a constitution that would survive
the test of time and not a deal for current politicians.

Politicians spent four years and squandered over US$50 million to produce a
constitution for themselves. If people say “yes” to a constitution being
imposed by political parties, they will be giving away their power
permanently and politicians will never respect the people and the country
will not develop,” he said.

Madhuku said the constitution gives too much power to the president who will
be head of state with unlimited power, head of government and
commander-in-chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

The president appoints all ministers and deputy ministers without the
approval of parliament, and there is no limit on the number that can be

“The president alone constitutes the cabinet (Sec 105). The statement in the
draft constitution saying the president exercises executive authority
‘through cabinet’ has no value because the cabinet is the president’s baby.
All cabinet ministers are hired and fired by the president at his/her
pleasure. The president is allowed to appoint up to three ministers from
outside parliament. This is bringing back appointed non-constituency MPs
(Sec 104(3).”

Madhuku said the president still appoints all ambassadors without consulting
anybody and has the final say over the appointment of all permanent
secretaries (Sec 205).

The NCA also said the president had the final say over the appointment of
all judges (Section 180) and though there is provision for interviews, the
president has power to refuse to appoint any of those recommended.

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Copac draft fails to curtail President Mugabe’s powers

February 8, 2013 in Politics

THE Parliamentary Constitution Select Committee (Copac) spent nearly four
years and a staggering US$50 million to produce a draft constitution
virtually based on the rejected 2000 Constitutional Commission and Kariba
documents, especially on the contentious issue of executive powers.

Report by Paidamoyo Muzulu

Since 1997 when the constitutional reform debate gathered momentum,
Zimbabweans have been sharply divided over whether the country should have a
powerful executive presidency or a non-executive head of state with an
executive prime minister.

Some people want a French-style executive arrangement in which power is
shared between the president and prime minister.

Under the Copac draft, the president is still the head of state and
government and commander-in-chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces.

He still enjoys both civil and criminal immunity while in office, and
retains powers to dissolve parliament in the case of disagreements between
the executive and the legislature over the budget, or if there is a vote of
no confidence.

The draft further gives the president power to appoint ambassadors,
ministers, judges and independent commission chairpersons. The president
still wields the prerogative of mercy and powers to declare war and make

The debate around the executive authority during the Copac outreach, as in
the past, has largely been about executive power and President Robert Mugabe’s

Copac officials in their initial draft tried to bar Mugabe from standing for
re-election through age and term limits. However, Mugabe and his loyalists
fought back and threw that out.

They also forced an overhaul of several drafts produced during the process,
including the July 18 2012 one which was supposed to be the final article.
In the end, Mugabe recovered his powers after removing and forcing in issues
which he wanted captured.

Legal analysts say the new Copac draft has not reformed the current imperial
executive presidency despite the issue looming large during the
constitution-making process.

Research and Advocacy Unit senior researcher Derek Matyszak said the Copac
draft was not different from the 2000 draft and the Kariba document in that
respect. He said although the Copac draft has introduced an enlarged Bill of
Rights, these changes were mainly superficial and symbolical as the
structure of government was left largely intact.

“The constitution of 2000 was rejected largely because of the powers of the
president,” said Matyszak. “The GPA talks were also largely around the
presidential powers and surprisingly the Copac draft has largely left them
unaltered after deliberating for nearly four years.”

National Constitutional Assembly chairperson Lovemore Madhuku also said the
failure to reform the executive presidency means the Copac draft failed to
introduce required changes.

“The constitution leaves all power in the president intact as he is still
able to do what he/she wants,” Madhuku said. “The powers of the president as
head of state are unlimited (Sec 110.1.) The president appoints all
ministers and deputy ministers on his/her own without the approval of
parliament (Sec 104). There is no limit on the number of ministers and
deputy ministers. It is up to the president (Sec 104).”

Alex Magaisa, a constitutional law expert and senior staffer in the prime
minister’s office who participated in the constitution-making process, said
while there were limited changes to the executive presidency the new draft
introduced new features that carried a lot of political significance.

“That the president will still exercise some of his powers on the advice of
the cabinet or through cabinet is of large political significance,” said
Magaisa. “But for the first time the president would now be obliged to share
more authority than in the past.”

Magaisa said clauses on term-limits and certain appointments such as judges
and the National Prosecutor General mean the president has to act on the
advice of various bodies, which was also a departure from the past. The
Copac draft introduces a raft of second generation rights such as education,
shelter, environment, the elderly, children and marriage rights. These
rights are largely aspirational than enforceable.

While failing to significantly reform the executive presidency, the Copac
draft enlarges parliament to 270 members and makes substantial changes to
the Electoral Act by introducing a two-tier electoral system. Sixty new
seats have been created for women on a proportional representation basis.

Both Zanu PF and MDC-T held party caucuses where MPs were whipped into line
to refrain from debating the Copac draft. According to party sources, the
overriding of party caucus and parliament in the engineering of final Copac
draft is meant to protect the principals’ interests rather than those of the
people, then fast-track the process towards elections.

Speaker of parliament Lovemore Moyo emphasised to the House during Wednesday’s
sitting the draft constitution was only a “take note” motion and not for
debate by members, showing the process was staged-managed by the three
parties in government.

While the MDC parties claim victory in the constitution-making process,
Mugabe and Zanu PF prevent a radical overhaul of the current constitution
and retention of the commanding executive presidency — key to their
political survival — ahead of critical general elections.

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Polls should precede UNWTO –– Mzembi

February 8, 2013 in News

TOURISM minister Walter Mzembi and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have
agreed that elections should be early enough to allow for the smooth hosting
of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly in
Victoria Falls in August.

Staff Writer

The UNWTO is Zimbabwe’s biggest opportunity to rebrand itself as a major
tourist and investment destination since the formation of the inclusive
government in 2009 after a decade-long socio-economic crisis which saw
foreign tourist arrivals dry up and the economy virtually collapsing.

Speaking after the closed door meeting with Tsvangirai yesterday, which
lasted more than an hour, Mzembi said the premier –– head of government
business and in charge of implementation of projects under the government
works programme –– agreed the country should go for elections well before
the general assembly meeting.

This would mean the country going for polls before reforms outlined in the
Global Political Agreement are implemented.

“With the prime minister we concluded that if elections were held before the
general assembly, the event will then present a unique branding opportunity
for any post-election government,” said Mzembi.
Mzembi also expressed concern over Treasury’s delay in releasing US$12
million meant for the general assembly preparations indicating he had raised
the issue with the premier.

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‘Polls without reforms a return to 2008 era’

February 8, 2013 in Politics

ZIMBABWE is expected to go for make-or-break elections in a few months to
end the life of the Government of National Unity (GNU) –– a rocky marriage
of convenience between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations now in its fourth

Report by Elias Mambo

However, two and a half years after the three political parties in the
coalition government agreed to implement critical reforms and draw up an
implementation matrix that would allow for credible, free and fair
elections, most of the reforms are still to see the light of day. If
anything, Zanu PF has dug in deeper, making it clear it has no intention to
implement any more reforms.

Remarks by Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa this week epitomised Zanu PF’s
intransigence, unequivocally stating security sector reforms remain “a no-go
area as long as the revolutionary Zanu PF is alive”.

“As long as we are here in leadership, we will make sure the Defence Forces
of the Republic of Zimbabwe will continue to defend the national interests
and to safeguard our values and ideals which our people died for,” Mnangagwa

“They want to hear that you are compliant, that you accept security sector
reforms. What does that mean? It means to have non-governmental
organisations and trade unions operating in the defence forces. They would
want you to say you are non-political, you must serve any government.”

The security sector infamously participated in a brutal campaign ahead of
the June 2008 presidential poll run-off which saved President Robert Mugabe
after he lost to Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) in the first round of the
presidential election. The sham election led to the formation of the GNU.

Among the issues agreed on by the unity government parties were reforms on
media, electoral reforms, security sector reforms, a land audit,
constitutional review, amendments to or repealing of the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act and Public Order and Security Act.

On August 5 2010, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara wrote a letter to
the Sadc-appointed facilitator, South African President Jacob Zuma updating
him on reform process, including implementation timeframes for 24 agreed

According to the implementation matrix, the three principals agreed to
implement 23 issues either immediately or within a month from August 4 2010.

They also agreed to implement a sanctions removal strategy on a continuous

All media reforms, which include the regularisation of the Broadcasting
Authority of Zimbabwe board, the appointment of a new Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Holdings board and constituting the Zimbabwe Mass Media Trust, were supposed
to be completed within a month.
The principals agreed to end hate speech in the media and put a stop to
attacks on ministers implementing government programmes. This, they said,
was supposed to be done on a continuous basis.

According to the implementation matrix, security sector reform would also be
implemented on a continuous basis. They agreed to ensure that the
commissioner-general of the police, state security organs and the
Attorney-General should comply with Article 11 and 13 of the Global
Political Agreement (GPA).

Article 11 of the GPA –– precursor to the GNU –– deals with the rule of law,
respect for the constitution and other laws while Article 13 states that
state organs and institutions do not belong to any political party and
should be impartial in the discharge of their duties.

It was also agreed that Jomic and a cabinet re-engagement committee would
deal with the external radio stations issue by appealing to foreign
governments hosting them to shut them down.

A Land Audit Commission should have been set up within a month of the
agreement while a land tenure system guaranteeing security of tenure and
collateral value of land should have been in place within two months.

However, the negotiators were deadlocked on the staffing of the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (Zec), the role of the army, police and intelligence in
electoral politics and elections, deployment of security forces countrywide
ahead of polls, political violence and how the intelligence service should
be controlled and regulated.

They further disagreed on further amendments to the draconian Public Order
and Security Act – widely used to ban rallies and meetings of Zanu PF rivals
and critics – and on the role of foreign observers.
The three parties that form the coalition government signed a roadmap to
elections, which identified and defined “milestones and signposts that must
be executed and implemented before the holding of free and fair elections”
and it is only when these agreed reforms have been implemented that the will
of the people could be reflected in the next polls.

Zec, the Registrar General’s (RG) office, voters’ roll, the Zimbabwe Media
Commission and role of the public media and the security sector are all
crucial to the holding of credible, free and fair elections. As a result the
reconstitution of Zec is one of the fundamental reforms which have to be
tackled since it plays a critical role in elections.

Zec and the RG’s office manage and run the electoral process but these two
bodies, manned by controversial appointees linked to Zanu PF, has been
accused of manipulating the vote to preserve the status quo.

For instance during the 2008 presidential poll, Zec held onto the results
for more than a month, a move which fuelled concerns of electoral fraud.
Results were eventually released showing that President Robert Mugabe had
lost to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in the first round, but critics say
the delay was used to minimise Mugabe’s loss to ensure a run-off.

Critics say while elections dates might be an interesting detail in the
process, the real issue is the electoral context, environment and
administration which are currently geared to deliver a pre-determined
outcome to ensure regime retention and continuity.

A local think tank, the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, recently released a
document on elections calling for a fresh recruitment of the entire Zec

“The problematic, partisan, and militarised Zec secretariat that presided
over the 2008 sham election and remains intact today cannot manage and
preside over credible, free and fair elections,” reads part of the report.

As things stand, the police, military and intelligence are openly
campaigning for Zanu PF and Mugabe.

Civil society activist Dewa Mavhinga, a senior researcher for Zimbabwe and
southern Africa at Human Rights Watch, says Zimbabwe simply has to implement
all agreed reforms.

“Elections in the absence of credible reforms mean an extension of the
status quo, an indefinite postponement of the democratisation agenda and
further entrenchment of Zimbabwe’s isolation from the international
community,” Mavhinga said.

Given the experiences of the 2008 presidential poll run-off, fear and
anxiety could grip Zimbabweans as elections approach with precious little in
the way of reforms.

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MDC-T Nec reviews Juice as it prepares ‘to govern’

February 8, 2013 in Politics

THE MDC-T national executive committee (Nec) held a workshop in Nyanga a
fortnight ago in preparation for the party’s national policy conference
earmarked for later this month to fine-tune its policies ahead of elections
expected this year.

Report by Elias Mambo

Sources who attended the meeting said the party would hold a policy
conference as part of its preparations “to govern” because it is confident
of winning the next elections.

The workshop discussed a number of issues including the economy,
agriculture, mining, the public service and social welfare as well as youth
empowerment, among others.

MDC-T has on several occasions dismissed Zanu PF’s indigenisation and
empowerment programme claiming it is partisan in nature. Sources said the
party proposes a different empowerment model which seeks to reinforce the
youth’s entrepreneurship skills and full participation in the economy.

On public service policy, the sources said MDC-T intends to strengthen
social dialogue in labour and the private sector. It also aims to resolve
the plight of the civil servants, especially teachers, by providing a sound
economic policy that takes into consideration the need to remunerate them

The mining sector was discussed at length as the MDC-T feels there is an
urgent need to ensure transparency and accountability and guarantee profits
from diamonds proceeds go to Treasury instead of being controlled by the
Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation.

On agriculture, the MDC-T aims to restore the country’s bread basket status
within the Sadc region.

Sources also said the party’s executives had agreed that there would be no
reversal of the land reform programme, but there was urgent need to ensure
small to middle-scale farmers are supported in order to increase production.

Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said the MDC-T was ready to govern
because it has had a four-year apprenticeship in the inclusive government
with its leader Morgan Tsvangirai as Prime Minister and chairperson Lovemore
Moyo as the Speaker of the House of Assembly, among others.

“The MDC-T is more prepared to govern now than it was five years ago,”
Masunungure said. “It is better prepared to govern than Zanu PF was in 1980
because it has gone through an apprenticeship,” he said.

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NewZim Steel likely to become shell company

February 8, 2013 in News

NEWZIM Steel, formerly Ziscosteel, is likely to become a shell company if
the Essar takeover fails as the new owners are borrowing millions of dollars
to pay 3 000 idle workers while coalition government partners continue to
dither over finalisation of the US$750 million deal.

Report by Paidamoyo Muzulu

Essar has not started production at the giant steel making plant in Kwekwe
as some cabinet ministers are demanding a review of the agreement which they
argue strongly undervalued the Mwanesa iron ore claims.

Ziscosteel Joint Workers Union leader Bennedict Moyo revealed the workers’
plight to the parliamentary portfolio committee on Industry and Commerce
chaired by Willam Mutomba on Tuesday.

Moyo pointed out no new funds have been invested since the much-publicised
takeover almost two years ago. He said Essar was borrowing from the CBZ Bank
to finance idle workers’ salaries.

Moyo said: “The US$13,5 million borrowed from CBZ to pay our outstanding
salaries was an Esssar debt taken using Ziscosteel assets as guarantee.”

Moyo further expressed fears the company would be a shell if the Essar
takeover falls through as government continues to squabble over the sale.

“The way the loans are structured is that when the deal is complete Essar
will pay, but if the deal failed there is no guarantee that they will pay,”
Moyo added.

The workers are worried that any further delays in completing the deal would
put more strain on operations since a lot of work needs to be done on the
plant and machinery.

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Mzembi accused of electioneering

February 8, 2013 in Business

TENSIONS are running high in the unfolding crisis at Renco Mine in Masvingo
South amid revelations the on-going workers’ unrest, which has led to a
political hostile takeover bid of the RioZim-owned mine by Chivi South MP
Irvine Dzingirayi, could be electioneering.

Staff Writer

The high-profile saga, which has sucked in Masvingo South legislator Walter
Mzembi together with his personal assistant Obediah Mazombwe, is
deteriorating with workers occupying the mine after the High Court on
Wednesday reserved judgement on Renco Mine’s application seeking the
eviction of the illegal occupants.

The matter has attracted a lot of attention, especially after Mzembi earlier
this week alleged he was offered a US$100 000 bribe by the company to turn a
blind eye on the company’s malpractices.
The minister said he rejected the money because he was not that cheap.

RioZim argues that Mzembi, who is also Tourism minister and a member of Zanu
PF’s politburo, is using his political muscle to seize the company.

The miner also alleges that the illegal occupation is being incited by
Mzembi in a bid to boost his prospects in the next elections to be held
later this year.

RioZim says the illegal invasion is costing the company US$150 000 in lost
production each day the mine remains shut. Furthermore, Riozim alleges that
Dzingirai used the militia to illegally takeover the mine.

In their opposing affidavit deposed by Dzingirai in defence of the trio,
Mzembi and his allies make a counter claim that the company and its
employees have been embroiled in labour disputes for some months now which
culminated in the mine shutting down from January 14 – 20.

Dzingirai denies using the militia to illegally occupy the mine, giving
pictures of the meeting cited by RioZim as his defence. He further argues
instead that the volatile situation at Renco was triggered by RioZim’s
attempts to renege on its indigenisation obligations.

“I believe the applicant does not want to implement the full indigenisation
plan and is trying to retract its undertaking which is one of the reasons
why they are having disputes with the community,” reads part of Dzingirai’s

“The application by Nunudzai Michel Masunda that I declared that I had taken
over the mine is false, malicious and scandalous. As I have indicated above,
the mining manager is still at the mine and is carrying out his duties as

In a supporting affidavit, Mzembi said RioZim chairman Elisha Mushayakarara
sought his assistance to resolve the labour dispute as well as secure
indigenisation compliance certification.

The minister further alleges that Mushayakarara later offered him US$100 000
for his own use. “I have no desire to take over the mine or prevent
applicant from operating the mine,” Mzembi said, adding his involvement with
the matter was purely on behalf of his constituency.

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UNWTO: Mzembi promises world-class organisation

February 8, 2013 in Business

FROM the immaculate, modern Madrid Barajas International Airport arrival
terminal through well maintained streets in a state-of-the-art shuttle taxi
service, the Zimbabwean delegation attending the just ended Feria
International de Turismo en Espana (Fitur) Show in Madrid Spain, got a feel
of what it really means to host an international tourism event.

Report by Taurai Mangudhla

During the week-long event the delegation, led by Zimbabwe Tourism minister
Walter Mzembi, made every effort to convince the conference and the United
Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) secretariat that the
international community should expect the same level of organisation, but in
an African context, at the UNWTO general assembly to be co-hosted with
neighbouring Zambia.

Since Zimbabwe won the bid to co-host the UNWTO 20th general assembly with
Zambia in 2011, much attention has been focused on the two host nations,
particularly Zimbabwe’s state of preparedness.

Madrid and the Victoria falls are worlds apart. The lowly town of Victoria
Falls is set in a pristine natural habitat.

The airport needs upgrading and can only manage a minute fraction of the
traffic handled by Barajas, the largest airport in Spain and the world’s
11th busiest.

Given Zimbabwe’s perennial budget deficit and revenue underperformance, much
focus has been on the country’s financial capacity to host such a mega

A lot has been said about the capacity of the infrastructure in Victoria
Falls — the airport, shuttle services, accommodation and conference
facilities — to handle the huge influx of delegates and tourists during the

Concern has also been raised about Zimbabwe’s political environment in the
face of looming elections just before or after the conference, given the
country’s history of successive violent and disputed polls.

Mzembi told a second trilateral meeting involving general assembly co-hosts
Zambia and the UNWTO secretariat in Madrid that the secretariat is mostly
worried about Zimbabwe’s political will to make the event a success.

Mzembi assured UNWTO members and potential investors that there was a high
level of commitment from government to host a successful event.

“There is commitment at the highest level in government, that is the
presidium, with all the three principals in the inclusive government
agreeing on the importance of the event,” said Mzembi.

The three principals recently approved the draft constitution which would be
followed by a referendum. The process sets the tone for a watershed
election, likely in the second half of the year.

The decision to hold elections before the UNWTO general assembly, Mzembi
said, is a strategic move by the principals to allow for a change of
government before the event and avoid disruptions from election preparations
during the historic event.

“The principals agree that this is a unique branding opportunity for any
government that emerges after the election.”

Currently, preparations are at an advanced stage with the two host nations
recently approving the event’s programme.

Mzembi said Zimbabwe’s corporate world has partnered government to ensure
the tourism conference’s success.

“There is enough goodwill locally and internationally to make this a
success. Corporates such as, for example, Mbada Diamonds, Econet (Wireless),
NetOne and Telecel are helping us to prepare. Mbada Diamonds has taken (over
the funding of) the reception, which is the welcoming ceremony and I can
assure you that all the events are being taken up by companies,” Mzembi

Government has set aside US$12 million for preparations of the general

The fund is not inclusive of the country’s aspiration for legacy projects
like new hotels and conference facilities which would be built in the resort
town of Victoria Falls.

In December, government approved construction of a semi-permanent conference
centre at Elephant Hills resort in Victoria Falls.

The aluminum glass fabrication structure with a lifespan of 30 years and
capacity of more than 1 000 delegates is set to be the main conference
centre for the assembly.

Sources close to the development said government is working with private
players to finalise the project, including proper evaluation.

Construction of the project takes three months. However, Zimbabwe is yet to
select an official airline for the conference as well as adopt a friendly
visa regime.

Recently, UNWTO regional director for Africa, Ousmane Ndiaye said Zimbabwe
should liberalise its airspace and implement a visa-friendly system for the
country and the rest of the continent to grow their share of the tourism
market from the present paltry 4% to double digits by 2020.

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US$5million upgrade for Zimpost

February 8, 2013 in Business

ZIMPOST has embarked on a US$5 million upgrading project aimed at
modernising its business methods, Zimpost managing director Douglas Zimbango
has said.

Report by Fidelity Mhlanga

The project, jointly funded by Zimpost and the Posts and Telecommunication
Regulation Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz), would enable the company to
introduce modern technologies such as front office automation, postal codes,
hybrid mail service and an International Financial System (IFS).

According to Zimbango, Zimpost is set to move from manual systems to
computer-based automated systems to leverage infrastructural investment to
realise increased savings and use interface, combined with a single
electronic platform leading to enhanced speed for transactions.

“We are automating customer service transactions – everything from selling
mail services, retail services, bill payment and banking transaction,”
Zimbango said.

The hybrid mail services have been designed mainly for organisations that
mail large quantities of invoices, statements, time sensitive notices and
business mail and would enable customers to send electronic mail that would
be printed at delivery point.

This service would relieve companies of expensive tasks, such as printing,
enveloping and transportation, and ensure an impressive appearance from
advanced laser printing.

“The counter automation project pilot phase was rolled out, tested and
passed at three pilot offices in the third quarter of 2012. Software
development was completed and preparations to roll out to more offices are
currently underway. By mid-year 50 offices will be online. Hybrid mail
equipment specifications and site visits are now complete and work will go
to tender by mid-February 2013,” Zimbango said.

The national address and postcode project would be of immense help to
disaster management teams during times of floods and other natural
disasters. Coding will involve having an alpha-numerical code to identify a
specific address or location. It would also have geo-coordinates to assist
location by various service providers like fire and ambulance services.

This project would benefit operators, consumers, the police, the health
sector and other stakeholders.

“The national address and post code project is earmarked to commence in the
first quarter of 2013. A feasibility study was undertaken with the initial
pilot project expected to commence in Harare’s Mt Pleasant and Bulawayo’s
Nkulumane Suburbs. Another pilot will run concurrently in Shamva North in
order to understand the unique needs of the rural setting.”

These initiatives will assist Zimpost to compete effectively in the market
through improved service delivery and also create new revenue streams to
replace the slowmail business which is on the decline.

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Grace Mugabe — Philanthropist or self-aggrandiser?

February 8, 2013 in News

AWAY from the usual hustle and bustle of politics, the Harare International
Conference Centre last Friday hosted an evangelical fellowship conference of
Christian women from all parts of the country to deal with issues affecting

Report by Herbert Moyo

One preacher exhorted women parishioners to follow the example of virtuous
womenfolk like the beautiful Queen Esther whose humility and moral integrity
were so vital in saving the Jewish race from extinction at the hands of
cruel Haman.

The Bible and world history are replete with examples of powerful women who
used their influence for either good or evil designs, leaving an indelible
mark on human history.

Queen Esther used her influence for the positive when she exposed an evil
plot of genocide by Haman to her husband King Xerxes, risking her own life.

There are, however, many other powerful not-so-virtuous women like 19th
Century French Queen Marie Antoinette who, when informed that ordinary
citizens were starving due to bread shortages, infamously quipped that they
should eat cake instead.

Queen Jezebel connived with her husband King Ahab to not only dispossess
Naboth of his one and only vineyard, but to kill him as well. The
Ahab/Jezebel story of dispossession is one of pure greed as the royal pair
owned so much land and could have acquired more elsewhere, but cast their
envious eye on Naboth’s only vineyard.

They say history repeats itself and this seems to be the case in Zimbabwe
following recent revelations the First Lady Grace Mugabe had grabbed 1 600
hectares of agro-producer Interfresh’s Mazowe Citrus Estate in Mashonaland

The question is: Is Grace Mugabe a force of good or evil? No doubt those who
know her say she a good-hearted person who has a strong compassion for
helping the under-privileged in society and always tries to use her position
and influence to change communities for the better.

Her supporters say she is full of love for humankind in general and thus
makes charitable donations intended to increase human well-being,
particularly the welfare of the poor.

There has been a series of interviews in the state media covering acres of
space detailing how good a person she is and the community projects she has
been doing to help the needy.

Even her critics would agree that her humanitarian projects are welcome and
need to be encouraged so that the poor benefit from her generosity, care and
charity. However, her approach and the manner in which some of her projects
are conceived and executed have left a sour taste in the mouths of some,
mainly those affected by her activities.

The case of Interfresh is one such an example. Interfresh says the First
Lady has taken a portion of its estate, which represents 46% of Mazowe
Citrus Estate’s total arable land, 30% of its budgeted revenue for the 2013
financial year and 52% of the value of immovable and biological assets.

As if that was not enough, Mashonaland Central governor Martin Dinha
promised more land for the First Family, which is already accused of owning
more than 10 farms directly or indirectly.

“We offered you land and we will continue to offer you land for other
projects if you want it,” Dinha said at the official opening of the Amai
Mugabe Junior School in Mazowe last week.

“We will do it in broad daylight and we are not ashamed of it. Detractors
can say what they want, they can write what they want, but this is our land
in Mashonaland Central and we will do what we want with it.”
The latest land grab by Grace follows hard on the heels of recent other
seizures which have affected high-profile and ordinary rural dwellers,
prompting analysts to question the graciousness of her methods and projects.
Bulawayo-based political analyst Godwin Phiri said it is unfortunate that
Grace — who has in recent years drawn parallels with Marie Antoinette due to
her shopping sprees and flamboyant lifestyle — had embarked on a path of
dispossession and self-aggrandisement, deviating from the
mother-of-the-nation concept popularised by President Robert Mugabe’s late
first wife, Sally, in the 1980s.

“Sally was viewed as caring and motherly, especially through her work in the
Child Survival Foundation; and even if Grace has built an orphanage, this
has done little for her reputation which has been tainted by reports of
self-aggrandisement and dispossessing Zimbabweans of their land and
property,” Phiri said.

While Grace says she is pursuing a noble humanitarian cause, her approach of
expropriating land from locals — which implies abuse of power and disdain
for the rule of law — is undermining her charity activities.

After initially taking a farm from an old white couple in the area at the
height of land invasions, High Court judge Justice Ben Hlatshwayo accused
her company, Gushungo Holdings, of grabbing his Gwina farm in Banket in

His court papers said he had been operating his farm in “quiet, undisturbed,
peaceful possession, occupation and production” since it was allocated to
him in 2002 during the controversial fast-track land reform programme until
the First Lady arrived on the scene.
Grace followed up on that by seizing Manzou Farm in 2011, this time from
ordinary rural people who had grabbed the former game park in 2001 with the
backing of Zanu PF.

When the Zimbabwe Independent visited Manzou Farm last year, the paper was
welcomed by scores of peasant farmers who spoke of a bleak and uncertain
future following the appropriation of the former game park they invaded in
2001 at the height of Zanu PF’s violent land grabs.

One elderly man, who said he was originally from Gokwe, spoke of how he had
invested heavily in seed, fertiliser and other inputs while pointing to a
thriving maize crop which he was never given time to harvest after being
kicked out into the open together with his children and personal belongings.

At the time Dinha, who was again assisting Grace’s land grab activities,
denied that she was taking over the farm saying she was quite content with
the area allocated to her for the orphanage project.

“The First Lady is not interested in taking over Manzou. In fact, it is the
Mashonaland Central (Zanu PF) executive which identified Manzou as a
priority project and we will be resuscitating the game park in partnership
with Chinese investors,” said Dinha then, adding, “illegal squatters had
caused environmental degradation to the nearby Mazowe Dam through their
farming and illegal gold mining activities.”

What Dinha chose not to mention is that these “illegal settlers” were in
fact ordinary people who had participated in Zanu PF’s land seizures? The
fact families came from different parts of the country including Gutu,
Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe and Gokwe suggested their settlement could have been
a well-orchestrated party programme only to be ditched when Grace decided
she needed the property.

The First Family also owns Gushungo Dairy Estate in Mazowe (formally Foyle
Farm) in contravention of government’s one-man one-farm policy which Mugabe
espoused during the land reform programme.

Habakkuk Trust chief executive officer Dumisani Nkomo said the latest land
grabs were a continuation of the Zanu PF culture of self-aggrandisement and
greed which cannot even be disguised as indigenisation and empowerment.

“Those who already have are getting more at the expense of the poor,
deserving people and the economy,” said Nkomo, adding that “Dinha may
actually be in a difficult position where he cannot resist Grace’s
insatiable demands even if he feels they are morally reprehensible”.
Phiri said Grace’s expropriation spree is probably in preparation for
post-Mugabe life “especially if you look at the area (Mashonaland Central)
she is targeting with its potential for immense economic benefits”.

While the First Lady sets about further safeguarding her interests, there is
no doubt that the land grabs have caused serious damage as well as suffering
for some Zimbabweans.

Given all this, analysts say Grace’s charity activities — which are now
being questioned due to her brazen and selfish approach — risk being seen as
self-aggrandisement under the cloak of philanthropy if she continues
grabbing other people’s properties while leaving them stranded and

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MDC-T’s Juice: Old wine in new bottles

February 8, 2013 in Opinion

AFTER spending three years in government without its own party economic
blueprint but deploying unprecedented energy towards vilifying Zanu PF’s
indigenisation programme, the MDC-T has exposed its policy dysfunction with
the recent launch of a much-trumpeted, but vacuous document.

Opinion by Tafadzwa Musarara

The economic blueprint Jobs, Upliftment, Investment, Capital and the
Environment (Juice), lead-authored by High Court-declared insolvent
businessman, Eddie Cross, and UK-based consultant, Lance Mambondiani, is a
poor attempt to duplicate current government economic policies under the
guise of new terminology.

The entire document is replete with inaccuracies and outright plagiarism of
other current economic blueprints, especially the government’s Medium Term
Plan (MTP). It is a case of old wine in new bottles.

First, it is difficult to believe MDC-T’s commitment to deliver on its
economic policy which is based on investment devoid of government
intervention. In his recent usual rhetoric entitled “My Crystal Ball”, Cross
said: “The MDC would announce a small government — a cabinet of 20 ministers
with 18 ministries. The president and the cabinet would be sworn in and
would immediately begin a complete overhaul of the state administration.
Marange diamond fields would be nationalised and all existing operators

Did I hear nationalisation here? Let me now interrogate the document
further. The entire premise of the blueprint is that of jobs. Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai makes this very clear in the foreword to the document. It
is the be-all and end-all. He argues that what Zimbabweans need are jobs,
hence his economic plan is to deliver jobs to all Zimbabweans.

It is through jobs that Zimbabweans will be empowered, he argues. This
argument is fundamentally flawed. It takes the Zimbabwean away from the job
creation process, which is the ownership of the means of production through
which jobs are created. The Zimbabwean becomes part of the means of
production and not the ownership, a position consistent with
settler-colonial capital.

The blueprint is anti-indigenisation and empowerment, referring to this
programme as looting and asset stripping. It asserts that current
empowerment policies are meant to enrich the elite and politically connected
without proffering any evidence to this end.

Current empowerment transactions expose this fallacy and contradict this
assertion as there is no evidence that a few elite have benefited from these
deals. It has mainly been management, employee share ownership schemes,
community share ownership trusts as well as the National Indigenisation and
Economic Empowerment Board (NIEEB) that have been the beneficiaries of these
schemes. NIEEB is warehousing these shares until the creation of an
indigenous stock exchange to allow participation by ordinary citizens.

There is little or no evidence of capital flight in response to
indigenisation for those firms that have already invested in Zimbabwe. If
anything, there is commitment to increase investment especially in the
resource extraction sector as well as new entrants.

Indigenisation transactions such as at Zimplats have been by way of vendor
financing, thus offering value to prior investments.

Strangely, one of the objectives of Juice is “restructuring the ownership
and control of the economy through a broad-based economic empowerment
programme”, which is an acknowledgement of the need for indigenous
participation in the economy through ownership of the means of production.

But Juice then goes on to claim that this will be achieved through training,
supporting SMEs, formalisation of the informal sector, job placements, etc.
This is totally absurd as ownership and control can only be achieved through
the vehicle of capital.

The MDC-T must realise that local ownership of capital is a global
phenomenon irrespective of which country one is in. Nearly every country has
restrictive ownership thresholds in most sectors. This is meant to allow
local capital formation and retention. One can argue about thresholds, but
not the principle. Any other careless option will leave countries at the
mercy of foreign capital and ultimately foreign political influence.

In the United States, Dubai Ports had won the right to manage huge American
ports, but this attracted the ire of locals who felt that they were giving
up their sovereignty and security to foreigners. The indigenous people won.

Juice is content on having local Zimbabweans as employees of foreign
multinationals with limited participation in ownership. Although it purports
to advocate local ownership through developing local enterprises, it negates
the ownership resident in local resources, thus granting local indigenous
people access to capital.

Juice acknowledges that one of the key drivers of economic growth is
increased and sustainable agricultural production. However, the conduct of
the MDC-T in government and the Finance minister in particular display a
scant regard to this notion.

Last year, Biti promised that he would provide for US$20 million towards
winter wheat farming. To date, no dime has come out of Treasury. The party
has not been vocal and enthusiastic in championing funding to this critical
sector. Funding for inputs have been low and erratic and at times reaching
the beneficiaries late to be effective.

The policy is very suspect on the land reform beneficiaries and the fate of
former white commercial farmers. It does not address the irreversibility of
the land reform and future ownership patterns. Any future agricultural
policy in Zimbabwe must focus on how to underpin and consolidate the
agrarian reform through land tenure and creating a sustainable agricultural
sector through access to funding and extension services.

According to the MDC-T’s own research, formal employment peaked at 1,35
million in 1998 from about one million in 1980 under a Zanu PF government
then dropping to just under one million in 2010, close to the 1980 levels.

It acknowledges the massive growth of the informal sector in the last 20
years which accounts for the absorption of jobs lost in the formal sector
and population differentials between 1980 and 2010. There hasn’t been major
movement in formal employment numbers in the 30 years since Independence on
a net basis. The informal sector has absorbed additional entrants in the
employment market.

Juice contains serious inaccuracies in the employment figures, especially in
the agricultural sector claiming only 20 000 people were employed in the
agricultural sector in 2008, but also asserts that 150 000 were employed in
this sector in 2010! There is no explanation of this sudden leap in numbers.

Any future economic policy by any political party must pay close attention
to sustainable job creation through growing the economy and encouraging
capital formation by way of cultivating local savings and FDI. Jobs allow
new entrants into the money economy and help to expand the local market.

The party claims that it will create one million jobs between 2013 and 2018
based on an annual economic growth rate of 8%. Given the industrial
automation, the figure is unreal, as it cannot be achieved in such a short
space of time while the leading Western economies’ employment figures are
heading south. This is fuzzy mathematics considering our current GDP

It is clear that Juice is an attempt to repackage current government
programmes and cannibalise policies from all over the world. The policy is
highly repetitious and contradictory on a number of points. The blueprint is
very economic on numbers and makes sweeping claims of what is to be achieved
without answering how this will be achieved. It is more of a political
statement on the perceived shortcomings of Zanu PF than a cohesive and lucid
economic blueprint. There is very little in it in terms of empirical
evidence to bolster the policy conclusions.

Musarara is the chairperson of Resources Exploitation Watch.

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Intensifying government bankruptcy

February 8, 2013 in Opinion

A WEEK ago, many newspapers and other media reported that Finance minister
Tendai Biti stated that, after payment of January salaries to the civil
service, the balance remaining in the state’s coffers was US$217, evidence
that “government finances are in paralytic state”.

Column by Eric Bloch

Almost immediately after the release of those reports, the minister said he
had been quoted “out of context”. There was no reason to doubt the veracity
of the minister’s contention that the reports were misrepresentative of what
he had said.

Nevertheless, the Zimbabwean fiscus is in a parlous state, as disclosed by
the minister in his four annual budget statements and three mid-year budget
review statements. The magnitude of the state’s impecunious circumstances is
also irrefutably evidenced by both the extent of its indebtedness, which
exceeds US$11 billion, most of which debts are long overdue for prescribed

The intensity of the lack of fiscal resources is also incontrovertibly
demonstrated by the considerable extent to which government recurrently
fails to effect timeous payment for essential services which the state is
prescribed to provide.

Critical, albeit substantially unpalatable actions are necessary to address
and reverse the government’s impecunity. Funding must be generated as
rapidly as reasonably possible to enable timeous payments of the state’s
operating costs (of which the greatest portion is the salaries of the civil
service), funding for rehabilitation of the decimated infrastructure that is
essential to the proper functioning of the economy, and the wellbeing of the
populace as well as the progressive settlement of debt.

Simultaneosly, very stringent and effective diminution of expenditures is

The generation of enhanced revenues is a near impossible task insofar as
recourse to taxation measures are concerned, for Zimbabwe is already very
heavily taxed at levels greater than prevail in much of the region.
Increases in taxes not only compound the hardships which confront most of
the population, but also constitute intense deterrents to economic growth in
general, and the motivation of much needed investment in particular.

While effective policing of taxpayer compliance is an ongoing necessity,
such policing must not be excessive, oppressing and unjust. The most
effective way of achieving increased inflows of taxes is to ensure economic
growth, thereby broadening and increasing the tax base without intensifying
the tax burdens of current taxpayers, save and except if their taxable
incomes increase.

However, some significant enhancement of revenue inflows to the fiscus would
be achieved if government more effectively contained the extent of tax
evasion in general, and of import duties in particular.

It is a fact that huge quantities of goods enter Zimbabwe through unlawful
channels, thereby evading customs duties, value-added tax, and other

However, the most constructive manner to progressively bring into being a
financially stabilised fiscus is the containment of government expenditure,
and the opportunities of doing so are manifold. The minister has intimated
an intent by his ministry to be very heavily focussed upon cost-cutting by
government, including achieving a meaningful reduction in the size of the
civil service.

Yet another ready opportunity of achieving diminution in government
expenditure is vigorous action to contain the immense corruption
characteristic of government in Zimbabwe, which involves many of the
personnel employed by the state in general, irrespective of rank.

The solicitation of “handouts” to influence the award of contracts impacts
negatively on contract prices; the expropriations of diverse consumables
from the stores and offices of government are substantial contributors to
costs, as are also the unauthorised usages of state assets.

Expenditure reduction can also be achieved by diminution of government
delegations repeatedly travelling abroad. In like manner, Zimbabwe should
seek to reduce not only the excessive number of embassies and allied
diplomatic presences abroad, but also the numbers employed therein.

A key area which must also be focused upon is disinvestment from parastatals
and effectively privatising them. That would bring to a halt the magnitude
of governmental subsidisation of those state enterprises, including
unnecessary assumption of the vast accumulated debts of those state

And, having for years deliberately avoided seeking debt relief by striving
to be accorded internationally recognised Heavily Indebted Poor Country
(HIPC) status, government now needs to pursue its declared intent to obtain
such status, which would not only result in rescheduling of much of Zimbabwe’s
debt-servicing arrears, but also progressive substantial debt forgiveness.

Presently, compounding the state’s parlous financial circumstances is that
it is absolutely essential that the already long overdue referendum on a new
national constitution is conducted, followed by presidential and
parliamentary elections, for the proper conduct thereof would be a
meaningful stimulant to procurement of investment, rebuilding of national
confidence and economic growth, with consequentially improved fiscal

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Why I will vote ‘No’ to new draft

February 8, 2013 in Opinion

THE Parliamentary Select Committee (Copac) finally agreed and produced a
draft constitution with the aid of their principals in the shaky coalition
government to end years of uncertainty to a process that was neither
people-driven nor democratic, rather an elite arrangement by those in the
corridors of power.

Column by Blessing Vava

The draft is part of the requirements of Article 6 of the September 15 2008
agreement by the main three parties in government, a section fearlessly
contested by the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA). It is this Article
6 that mandated the parties to come up with a committee of parliamentarians
to spearhead the process of writing a new charter for Zimbabwe.

The NCA argued the involvement of those in power to drive the process was
not only going to compromise the content of the document, but also the full
active participation of the citizenry in this important process in the
history of this country.

Fully aware the process of making a constitution is as important as the
content, we remained sceptical about the whole arrangement. This position
may have been largely misunderstood or deliberately shelved.

The people-driven constitution approach is centred on national ownership and
support for inclusive, participatory and transparent processes.

Support is to be tailored to the specific citizens context (often referring
to historical and current political epochs) and is drawn from a wide range
of expertise both within and outside the government system with its
independence uncompromised to ensure access to international and comparative
best practice and that the voice of the voiceless is protected.

Advance planning is required for the creation and implementation of public
information and civic education campaign, public consultation process and
the securing of funds, human and material resources.

A structured and time-intensive national dialogue or consultation process
that feeds back the views of the people to the decision-makers involved in
the drafting and debating of the constitution is an essential element of an
inclusive, participatory and transparent process.

The NCA encourages constitutional approaches that directly incorporate and
make supreme international human rights standards, including an independent
and impartial judiciary, as a strong foundation for the rule of law.

The setting up of institutions, structures and mechanisms that promote
adequate follow-ups to ensure implementation of the constitution or
constitutional reforms once adopted.

This is where Copac failed the test. It was a commission appointed by party
principals, who ultimately had the final say over what went into the draft

After purporting to have collected the views of the people during the
outreach exercise, what finally came out of Copac was a negotiated draft
constitution containing the views of the elite in government — Kariba Draft

The people-driven constitution discourse was simple yet so cumbersome in the
views of the oligarchy — citizen participation in the making of a
constitution will ensure their wishes are safeguarded and sacrosanct in the
new constitution.

We argued in 2000 that the people must determine a process of
constitution-making which they can dominate. It was on the strong belief
that the principle of democracy is fully entrenched as people will not
thereafter allow any future government to change the constitution as it

After producing two different drafts, one in March and another in July 2012,
it became clear the final product was going to be nothing but an
illegitimate and fraudulent document paraded to the nation as a democratic
constitution yet in essence meant to protect the ruling elites. One of the
most contentious and controversial sections which resultantly led to the
rejection of the Constitutional Commission draft in February 2000 was the
executive presidency, which the proposed draft has brought back.

The proposed Copac draft still provides for an executive president with
almost similar powers to the Lancaster House Constitution. The president is
vested with unchecked totalitarian powers such as appointing and dismissing
most public figures as well as exercising the prerogative of mercy.

Chapter 5, Section 88, states that the president is still the head of state
and government and commander-in-chief of the defence forces. It would have
been prudent for the draft to create a post for prime minister to act as
head of government, a more democratic arrangement suitable for a
post-conflict nation that would provide for intra-accountability in the

The proposed charter is still silent on the retirement age for the
president. The president still enjoys immunity for crimes committed in
his/her personal capacity. Section 98(1) says “while in office, the
president is not liable to civil or criminal proceedings in any court for
things done or omitted to be done in his/her personal capacity”.

Again on appointments, this draft gives the president powers to appoint an
unlimited number of cabinet ministers. This clause is open to abuse and that
is the reason why currently we have a bloated cabinet which burdens the
Treasury in a small country like ours. Past and present ministers are known
for non-delivery and only vocal on “benefits”.

On accountability, this draft provides that vice-presidents, ministers and
their deputies are accountable to the president and not parliament.

Section 107(1) states: “Subject to this constitution, every vice-president,
minister and deputy minister is accountable, collectively and individually,
to the president for the performance of his or her functions.”

This system is open to abuse and will not allow transparency and proper
accountability of ministers in the execution of their duties. Yet modern
democracies are characterised by shared decision-making by the legislative
and executive branches allowing for both horizontal and vertical

Some of the provisions in Chapter 6 of the draft left me in shock. For a
draft that is essentially a product of members of parliament critics were
however proved correct. Zimbabweans have always been against a big
parliament as it has become a mere talk show and a burden to the fiscus.

In practice the citizens’ voice is silenced; a nation that deems itself in a
transition to democracy should be ready to create provisions for citizens to
participate in a referendum to amend a constitution.

Any proposed amendments to the constitution must be brought to a referendum
to allow citizens to participate as this concept of two-thirds supermajority
is prone to political manipulations by ruling parties in infant democracies.
With these few submissions I have made my mind to vote “No” in the
referendum and I encourage fellow citizens to reject this daft.

It is a negation of democratic principles of governance and should be
rejected resoundingly to send a clear message to those who want to impose a
bad constitution on Zimbabweans. A rejection does not mean we do not want a
constitution, but is a clear message we want a good constitution that is
authored by the people for the people and not a few powerful individuals.

Vava is a member of the NCA Take Charge Campaign Technical Committee. He can
be contacted on: Twitter : @blevava

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Gu Shung-ho sounds just right

February 8, 2013 in Opinion

Readers will recall that “causing confusion” is a very serious offence in
Zanu PF.

Column by The MuckRaker

When the comrades become confused all hell breaks loose. This week they were
turning reality on its head by claiming MDC factions’ accusations against
army generals were “a clear sign that they do not have strong policies to
sell the electorate”.

This view came in the wake of remarks by Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa’s
that soldiers were free to support political parties of their choice.

Why are we only hearing this now? Why not when Douglas Nyikayaramba was
holding forth? We suspect this epiphany came in the wake of the South
African facilitation team’s visit to Harare recently. Mnangagwa, who was
quoted extensively in Monday’s Herald, was discovering that while senior
officers in the region were free to support parties of their choice, they
should not hold political office.

“Political parties should come up with good manifestos and individual
soldiers are free to vote for any party which they think has a constructive
policy,” he said.

It is not for him to decide what is “constructive” and what is not. The
voters will decide that.


Then we had “a senior government official who requested anonymity because of
the negotiations between the EU and Zimbabwe over sanctions”, saying it was
not proper for the bloc to leverage the removal of sanctions on local
political processes”.
In other words there must be no improvement in the conduct of governance!

Of course it is proper for the EU to insist upon good governance and
adherence to certain electoral norms before lifting sanctions. The Sadc
Grand Baie terms are applicable to all 27 members,
We all know who the “senior government official” was trying to lay down the
law on this score.

Government spokesmen make the silly claim that sanctions are “illegal” when
they are perfectly legal and then proceed to press for their removal on the
basis of that fallacy.

The not-so-mysterious official said setting preconditions for the removal of
sanctions showed that “the EU had a desired outcome of the referendum and
the elections”.

Of course it does. The whole political process over the past five years has
been about establishing democracy in Zimbabwe.
That is the desired outcome. So is the reform of the media to remove the
crude propaganda emanating from Zimpapers and the ZBC.

“Our position has always been that there must be unconditional lifting of
the sanctions,” the official said. And the position of civil society in
Zimbabwe is that the Global Political Agreement remains unfulfilled. How can
we have democratic elections when there is only one public broadcaster? How
can voters make an informed choice when that choice is between a couple of
Zanu PF voices?

Gu shung-ho

The Gushungo fashion label is “pushing new boundaries”,
claimed recently. Their merchandise –– which included overalls, caps,
berets, T-Shirts and umbrellas –– “was quickly snapped up at the Zanu PF
conference in December”, we are told.
However, the website does not furnish us with details on where else, other
than at a Zanu PF conference, the label is “pushing new boundaries”.

In keeping with Zanu PF’s modus operandi the label is co-designed by Asian
“partners”, according to Allan Mapisa, the marketing director of the company
behind the label.

“We have creative designers and we also work in collaboration with our Asian
partners. Production is being done in China, Hong Kong and lately Thailand,”
Mapisa said.

Judging by the brand’s oriental links, Gu shung-ho is a more apt name!

‘Uniquely’ foreign

‘What makes our brand unique is the fact that our products are world class
and Zimbabweans can easily relate and identify with them.”
Indeed Zimbabweans can “relate and identify” with poor quality Chinese-made
products dumped on the local market after having been reduced to penury by
Zanu PF’s ruinous policies.

Last year ZBC had claimed the label would “redefine the country’s fashion
industry which is mostly dominated by foreign clothing labels”.

The clothing line celebrates the legacy of the president, ZBC stated,
without a hint of irony. It escaped their notice that the Asian-made label
is for all intents and purposes foreign, an indictment on Zanu PF’s
indigenisation drive.

“The brand is also riding on a wave of a hero, our president. We are
guaranteed success,” quipped Mapisa.

The less said the better!

Flattering to deceive

On a related note, we have former UK Big Brother contestant Makosi Musambasi
who, since her unceremonious return, is suddenly a fervent supporter of
President Mugabe despite once claiming she would be killed if she were
deported back home.

Since her return Musambasi has been looking for a pathway into celebrity,
albeit unsuccessfully.

To show her newfound allegiance to Zanu PF, Musambasi posted a picture
online in which she held a Gushungo label umbrella. She now wants to meet
the president and to that end indulged in a bit of flattery claiming:

“Who doesn’t? Even (US President) Barack Obama wants to meet Robert Mugabe.”
We are sure President Obama would beg to differ.

Ndanga’s (de)volution

Speaking of changing tack Apostolic Christian Council of Zimbabwe (ACCZ)
president Johannes Ndanga on Tuesday declared President Mugabe was “anointed
by God” to lead the country into a “new epoch of prosperity”.

Curiously in the not too distant past Ndanga was not so flowery in his
description of Mugabe and Zanu PF. The Standard of July 2000 states that
Ndanga claimed to have been harassed by state security agents after speaking
out against Zanu PF “terror tactics” during the parliamentary elections.

Ndanga had said members of the Central Intelligence Organisation had been
calling his mobile phone and issuing death threats.

“I have been receiving phone calls from people claiming to be intelligence
officers, threatening me with death. They are making all sorts of wild
accusations which I do not even know.” Ndanga said.

He went on to say his problems with Zanu PF began when he became critical of
government “mismanagement” and criticised the party’s campaign of “political
violence and intimidation”.

“Even if the elections take place, there is going to be intimidation and
dictatorship –– they are not elections,” he said.

Damascene moment

Thirteen years later, Ndanga is singing a totally different tune, crooning
that Mugabe was “head and shoulders above all the other pretenders vying to
lead the country”.

“There are many people from within and without Zimbabwe who want to question
President Mugabe’s ability to rule this country but people should know that
President Mugabe’s age is his trump card to win these elections,” Ndanga

What could have changed Ndanga’s mind, we are keen to know? Zanu PF’s
largesse could have something to do with it.

In 2011 Ndanga was demanding that Zanu PF provide vehicles and allowances to
church leaders spearheading its campaign. He had claimed “real bishops”,
like himself, had more Zanu PF followers as compared to traditional leaders,
hence the need to award them cars and cash allowances.
Adding more flesh

Meanwhile Ndanga decided to add to the folkltale being churned out by Zanu
PF claiming Mugabe’s rule was prophesied in 1934.

Following in Vice-President Joice Mujuru’s footsteps, Ndanga put more flesh
to the fantastic tale claiming Johanne Masowe church founder Prophet Shoniwa
Masedza prophesied Mugabe’s rule when he was 10 years old and “only God can
remove him”.

We are keen to hear Mugabe’s comments on these claims considering his low
opinion of prophets whom he decried for extorting money from people. He also
said, under the influence of mbanje, some “spirit mediums” would pretend to
be possessed.
Error of commission

Finally on the subject of pretensions, we were amused to note that Matthew
Takaona, who is a member of the Media Commission, likes to be styled
“Commissioner Takaona”. And then there is “Commissioner Mutsvangwa”,
formerly our man in Beijing.

Why don’t we just call them all “La-Di-Da”!

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Zanu PF’s education legacy in tatters

February 8, 2013 in Opinion

ONE of the areas where President Robert Mugabe registered significant
success, acknowledged even by his trenchant critics during his otherwise
disastrous rule which ruined the country and impoverished the people, is

Zimbabwe Independent Editorial

When Mugabe came to power in 1980 he inherited solid education
infrastructure and a strong base, one of the best in Africa, and expanded on
it to provide access for millions of the formerly marginalised and
underprivileged majority.

Education in public institutions was made free allowing millions of
previously disadvantaged children to go to school, and in the process huge
inequities from the colonial era were diminished.

Education was also declared a basic human right in the new non-racial system
which followed majority rule. Alongside other critical social services,
education was subsidised and this helped Zimbabwe to achieve phenomenal
results in a bid to eliminate illiteracy, ignorance and poverty.

As a result Zimbabwe achieved the highest literacy rate in Africa ahead of
countries like Tunisia, giving its people a good start in life and laying a
strong foundation for national development.

Evidently education is essential for everyone. It helps people earn a
living, respect and recognition. It is thus an indispensable part of life.
It is thus difficult to imagine life without enlightenment, a key element of
civilisation of human society.

However, that remaining element and symbol of Mugabe’s achievement before
his tsunami-style devastation of the nation in the decade preceding 2009 is
now dramatically unravelling, risking wiping out whatever remains of his
positive legacy. Whatever he achieved at the height of his rule pales in
comparison to the alarming destruction his corrupt and incompetent regime
inflicted on the country.

If ever there was more evidence needed to prove the disintegration of the
education sector it was provided by Ordinary Level results released this
week. Results released on Monday showed 81,6% of the 172 698 students who
sat for the examinations last year failed to pass at least five subjects
with grade C or better. Only 31 767 of that number made it, translating to a
pathetic 18,4% pass rate, the trend since 2009.

While there are many reasons to explain this appalling trend, Education
minister David Coltart on Tuesday captured the gist of it when he said the
poor results were a reflection of the “extreme crisis in education
experienced between approximately 2005 and 2009”.

The reality is that schoolchildren who failed exams are victims of a
situation beyond their control. Granted, their personal input counts but
students at all levels of the education system are still battling to recover
from the consequences of the economic meltdown and political instability
before 2009.

At the height of the crisis, schools were forced to close down as there were
no teachers, no books and therefore no lessons, leaving thousands of
children stranded.

Only those with money managed to hire private teachers or tutors, while the
majority languished without educators. Most teachers left the profession and
even country due to the economic crisis. Even though schools re-opened in
2009 the devastating impact and ramifications of the virtual collapse of the
sector are still being felt up to today, leaving Mugabe’s legacy further in

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MDC-T risks backlash from fed-up ratepayers

February 8, 2013 in Opinion

‘WATER water everywhere, not a drop to drink”’, goes a classic line from a
Samuel Taylor Coleridge poem, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

Candid Comment with Stewart Chabwinja

In it a sailor laments thirst plaguing his ship and crew despite the ship
being surrounded by an endless expanse of sea water, which of course is
unsuitable for drinking as it only leads to further dehydration.

There are parallels between the sailors’ predicament and that of
Zimbabweans, especially urbanites.

There is much water in Harare for instance, but little for drinking: most is
flowing profusely on the streets courtesy of increasing pipe bursts as the
city’s infrastructure further crumbles, while taps are dry.

And things will get worse before improving. Only last Saturday Harare Mayor
Muchadeyi Masunda told residents they are likely to start enjoying clean and
improved water supplies come March, after the city procures pressure
reducing valves to minimise water losses.

Come Wednesday, Masunda had changed tack –– the city would soon introduce
water rationing to solve its water problems as it continues to refurbish its
water equipment –– a protracted exercise that has failed to yield any
tangible relief for long-suffering residents.

The glaring failure by MDC-T councils, which control most city councils, to
deliver service-wise is a serious indictment of their leadership, and hence
their party. Granted, they inherited crumbling infrastructure after years of
Zanu PF mismanagement and lack of investment, but the public is bound to
hold them accountable to their promise and motto of “change” which won many

While funding remains a major hurdle it does not suffice as an excuse since
the councils have received infrastructure rehabilitation assistance from
various organisations.

The councils are collecting rates from residents, but their priorities
remain woefully lopsided, with salaries at one stage reportedly gobbling up
90% of monthly revenue in Harare.

As water woes worsen, rubbish remains uncollected, roads are potholed,
street lighting is virtually non-existent and sewerage flows from burst
pipes threatening potable water, councillors who took office as humble
workers are now living large. The stench of their corruption and nepotism ––
a throwback to preceding Zanu PF controlled councils –– has soiled the MDC-T
brand, making a mockery of the party’s “change that you can trust” slogan.

Of course the MDC-T has tackled corruption resulting in suspensions and
firings of councillors, but the criticism is that only the small fish were
targeted while bigwigs go scot free.

The Masvingo debacle, where about 50 council vehicles will go under the
hammer next week over US$3,5 million in outstanding salaries, is a damaging
reflection of MDC-T management.

With elections expected later this year, the day of reckoning may not be far
off for the MDC-T that could face a backlash from fed-up ratepayers. The
chickens could come home to roost because change remains what residents and
voters long for, but not change for the worse.

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Mugabe divine right claims absurd

February 8, 2013 in Opinion

OF late there has been a growing momentum and lobbying of the media by
influential politicians and high-profile businessmen to freeze or abandon
criticism of President Robert Mugabe for a wide range of reasons.

Editor’s Memo with Dumisani Muleya

We have had a number of approaches, some well-meaning but some rather
disingenuous, by those seeking rapprochement on Mugabe’s behalf to ensure
his continued patronage.

It is quite clear there are some people gravely concerned about how the
media has been interpreting Mugabe’s rule and legacy, as well as treating
him in its coverage of the Zimbabwean story.

Some of the reasons given to obviate criticism of Mugabe include that he is
not the one responsible for the devastation of the country’s economy but his
ministers and bureaucrats are; he fought for the country and must thus be
spared harsh criticism; he is now too old and that politically he is in the
departure lounge.

“We must look beyond Mugabe and deal with other issues. He played his part
and besides he is now old,” one ex-combatant-turned-tycoon said to us.
“Look, he is also going to be 89 soon, so you must respect him and spare him
all these attacks.”

Our response was simple: “We agree with you that he is old and must
certainly be respected. However, we don’t think he should be spared
criticism because he is now old and because he fought in the struggle. In
fact, he needs to be put under close scrutiny for precisely those reasons
and also because he is a head of state and government and commander-in-chief
of the defence forces seeking re-election at 89!”

Information minister Webster Shamu has in recent months also called in
editors to protest their unwelcome coverage of Mugabe.
A new approach on this is also discernible.

Vice-President Joice Mujuru recently said Mugabe was anointed by God to lead
Zimbabwe at the age of 10 years and those fighting to replace him are
wasting their time.

This week leader of apostolic churches in Zimbabwe, Bishop Johannes Ndanga,
said: “Mugabe was “our God-given leader” implying, like Mujuru, that he had
a divine right to rule or a mandate from heaven (there is a nuanced
difference between the two).

The invocation of divine rule and by insinuation claims of infallibility are
meant to place Mugabe above criticism. If his mandate is from God he is
therefore not accountable to the electorate but to God only.

Medieval political theorists came up with the doctrine that kings’ right to
rule came from God, and that monarchs were answerable to him alone, not
earthly institutions or people. This is the sort of thing we are now being
subjected to.

Evidently this is absurd or preposterous and Mugabe himself might find it as

However, given Mugabe’s appreciation for personality cult, hagiography and
intolerance to criticism –– these attempts to protect him by all means
necessary could be most welcome within his circles.

Despite Zimbabwe supposedly being a constitutional democracy in which
citizens enjoy freedom of expression and speech, among other entrenched
civil and political liberties, a number of people, mostly ordinary citizens,
have been arrested for allegedly ridiculing or insulting Mugabe.

The Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights alone has been representing over 50
individuals who have been dragged to court for calling Mugabe names or
joking about him, things civilised democracies would have either ignored,
frowned upon or just dismissed offhand as in bad taste.

Although Mugabe must be respected as an elder

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