Thursday, 13 January 2011 18:55
NEGOTIATORS from the two MDC formations say they have lost confidence in
South African President Jacob Zuma’s mediation efforts and are unhappy at
Sadc’s handling of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) negotiations among
the feuding partners.
MDC-M chief negotiator and newly elected president Welshman Ncube recently
went public with his frustrations with South Africa’s facilitation efforts
which he called “nothing short of disgraceful” on social network site,
“South Africa’s conduct in respect to Zimbabwe is nothing short of
disgraceful. South Africa rather than Sadc should be blamed for the Zimbabwe
crisis,” Ncube said in a post at @minyango.
He confirmed posting the twit in an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent
“That account is mine and it’s true I twitted the post on that particular
day,” Ncube told the Independent. “South Africa as facilitating country and
Sadc as guarantors should have paid more attention, devoted more time to
assisting the parties to find common ground and they have not done so. It is
that commitment to devoting as much time as everyone here to a sustainable
solution to the Zimbabwean question that we think both South Africa and Sadc
could have done more than they have done.”
Ncube added that: “There are a lot of players who could have done more, us
included. The foreigners are, however, called upon to do more because they
The MDC president said that any further delays in resolving the outstanding
issues helped Zanu PF to maintain its stranglehold on power as it holds
possession on most of the outstanding matters.
“Clearly, the party that is in possession of an issue in dispute will
obviously accrue an advantage if the matter is not resolved or that a
compromise is not reached on the issue,” Ncube said.
MDC-T negotiator and Minister of Energy and Power Development Elton Mangoma
said South Africa and Sadc had failed to resolve the outstanding issues
“We all could have done more and therefore it’s important they (South Africa
and Sadc) do more to have the matters resolved quickly,” Mangoma said in a
telephone interview on Wednesday.
He referred further questions to party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa.
Chamisa said: “We feel that the action of our guarantors, Sadc and the
African Union, is in deficit. It is our wish that the half-full glass of the
agreement is made full quickly by the fulfilment of the GPA in its entirety.
“Guarantors have done something, but we, however, feel there is capacity to
do more. They have the leverage to help the matters solved and they can also
flex their muscles a little bit to make the issues move forward.”
Zanu PF negotiator Nicholas Goche refused to comment on the negotiations
when contacted by the Independent.
“There is nothing for negotiators anymore. I am not answering anything,”
Goche said curtly.
Since September 2008, the parties to the GPA have been haggling on
allocation of senior government positions of ambassadors, Attorney-General,
Reserve Bank governor, provincial governors and swearing in of Roy Bennett
as Deputy Agriculture minister from the MDC-T.
In October last year, President Robert Mugabe unilaterally reappointed 10
provincial governors without consulting his partners in the inclusive
government, leading MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai to challenge their
appointment in court.
Chamisa said the belief that “African problems needed African solutions”
will remain hollow until “countries show boldness in making decisions and
implementing them. Unfortunately, we haven’t shown that.”
President Jacob Zuma of South Africa, the facilitator, recently said he is
working on an election roadmap to help the protagonists overcome their
differences and hold credible elections that will usher a new government.
Zanu PF has since called for the elections to be held this year while the
two MDC formations are saying the GPA should be implemented in full first
before elections can take place.
Zuma’s roadmap is to be tabled at a Sadc troika meeting expected to take
place before month-end.
Thursday, 13 January 2011 18:50
THE Zimbabwe government has closed fresh applications for passports by
locals seeking to regularise their stay in South Africa, the Zimbabwe
Independent has learnt.
Home Affairs officials were deployed to South Africa last year where they
have been working with their South African counterparts to process 275 000
applications for passports.
Co-Home Affairs minister Theresa Makone yesterday could neither confirm nor
deny the development.
“I am not really aware of the latest development. I have been trying to get
the information from my officials but they are in meetings,” she said.
But exile organisations in South Africa on Wednesday met top Home Affairs
officials led by the ministry’s director-general Mkuseli Apleni and the
chief director of the Zimbabwe Documentation Project Jacob Mamabolo where
the officials announced that new passport applications would not be
The meeting also focused on ways to deal with problems dogging the
registration process such as late processing of passports by the Zimbabwean
According to the Pretoria-based Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (ZEF), Apleni
confirmed that new applications for passports in that country would not be
accepted. Apleni also said that deportations of undocumented Zimbabweans
would start in August.
“Director-General Apleni reiterated that the interest of the (South African)
government was not to deport people but to bring back dignity to Zimbabweans
in the country,” said ZEF executive director Gabriel Shumba.
He said the latest statistics showed 275 622 Zimbabweans in that country
applied for work permits across South Africa but many were hampered by the
failure of local authorities to produce passports on time.
At the meeting, it was announced that South African Home Affairs minister
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma will next month meet with her Zimbabwean counterparts
co-Home Affairs ministers Makone and Kembo Mohadi to discuss issues related
to the documentation process. The ministers’ meeting will be prefaced by
another between Apleni and the top Zimbabwe embassy officials.
“South Africa’s open offer to Zimbabwe still stands and if Zimbabwe needs
assistance, South Africa will assist in any way that it can,” Apleni told
South Africa last September scrapped a moratorium that allowed Zimbabweans
to work in that country and ordered locals to regularise their stay by
December 31 but the deadline was moved to the end of March.
Shumba said: “We once more appeal to the Zimbabwean government to consider
this offer as it will assist our people in South Africa.”
He added there was need for communication with the South African police to
ensure that arrests of Zimbabweans do not start before the August date.
“The Department of Education will also be consulted to ensure that schools
do not demand permits upfront as has been the case in some learning
centres,” said Shumba.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says there are an
estimated 1, 5 million Zimbabweans living in South Africa, many of who fled
an economic meltdown in the past decade.
Thursday, 13 January 2011 18:47
THE NAMIBIAN-based Sadc Tribunal has adjudged that Zimbabwe is undermining
the rule of law and violating the founding principles of the bloc by
refusing to pay compensation to nine victims of state-sponsored violence and
torture over the past decade.
The judgment was handed down by Justice Arrirange Govindasamy Pillay in
Windhoek in a December 2010 case brought by Barry Gondo and eight others
against the government of Zimbabwe.
Gondo and the others argued that the governmnet was refusing to pay them
damages that were awarded by the Zimbabwe High Court after they had
succesfully sued it after they were beaten up and tortured by security
“We hold, therefore...that the Respondent (government) is in breach of
Articles 4 (c) and 6 (1) of the treaty in that it has acted in contravention
of various fundamental human rights, namely the right to an effective
remedy,” the Tribunal ruled, and “the right to have access to an independent
and impartial court or tribunal and the right to a fair hearing.”
The judgment also ordered an adjustment of the awards made to the victims by
the High Court and that this should be done under the supervision of the
Tribunal’s Registrar. An award of costs was also made against the government
in favour of the applicants’ lawyers.
Zimbabwe, which did not defend the case in Windhoek, has argued that the
State Liability Act protects its assets from being attached in trying to
enforce a judgement debt. Section 5 (2) of the Act makes it impossible for
the applicants to receive their damages from the state rendering their
The Tribunal ruled the section unconstitutional citing a South African
Constitutional Court judgement in Nyathi vs the State.
The “State Liability Act is a relic of the legal regime which was
pre-constitutional and placed the state above the law,” Pillay ruled.
“A state that operated from the premise that ‘the king can do no wrong.
“That state of affairs ensured that the state and, by parity reasoning, its
officials could not be held accountable for their actions.”
The nine victims, through their lawyer, JJ Gauntlett SC, were trying to
recover Z$18 million awarded to them by the courts between February 2003 and
January 2007 in separate judgments by the High Court against the state
The Zimbabwe initially raised techncal objections to the application citing
procedural irregularities. The matter was heard for the first time on April
22 2009. However, the Tribunal overruled Zimbabwe’s objections and went on
to hear the merits of the case.
The case was heard on June 1 2010. The government on the other hand did not
respond to the application and the Tribunal proceeded to hand down its
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) applauded the Tribunal’s
judgment hailing it as progressive.
“We applaud the Tribunal for handing down a progressive decision which
acknowledges the need for an urgent reform of repressive pieces of
legislation,” it said in a statement.
“The decision is significant as it provokes debate on the implications of
Section 5(2) of the State Liabilities Act on fundamental human rights such
as the right to equality before the law and the right to an effective
“It highlights the need to assess and reform various other pieces of
legislation, apart from the overtly anti-democratic and repressive ones like
Posa and Aippa, to ensure full protection of human rights.”
The Forum added that the ruling “confirmed what Zimbabwean civil society
orgnisations have been saying over the years –– that one of the country’s
main challenges is the flagrant disregard of court orders by the state and
the absence of the rule of law”.
The Forum implored the government to respect the rule of law and to honour
its obligations under international law.
This is the second major case Zimbabwe has lost at the Sadc Tribunal after
the Mike Campbell (Pvt) Ltd v The Republic of Zimbabwe case No. 2 of 2007.
In that case, commercial farmers who had lost their farms during the chaotic
land reform argued that reforms were racist in nature and that the state was
not undertaking the programme in accordance with Zimbabwe’s laws.
Government, through Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, refused to enforce
the judgement argung that the Sadc Tribunal was not properly constituted.
However, foreign governments recognise their jurisdiction and a future
democratic government in Zimbabwe will almost certainly uphold their
Thursday, 13 January 2011 18:43
THE majority of Zimbabweans have confidence in the power-sharing agreement
between three main political parties, but remain unhappy over the failure by
the principals to deliver on critical issues agreed to in the Global
Political Agreement (GPA), a survey commissioned by Afrobarometer has said.
Afrobarometer is an African-led series of national public attitude surveys
on democracy and governance in Africa.
The results of the survey conducted by the Mass Public Opinion Institution
(MPOI) show that as of October 2010, 72% of Zimbabweans had confidence in
the inclusive government as a mode of governance.
“As of October 2010, Zimbabweans continued to place confidence in
power-sharing as a mode of governance.
“Some 72% agreed that “creating an inclusive government was the best way to
resolve the recent post-election crisis,” reads the survey.
“This level of popular endorsement represents an increase over time because
only 66% felt the same way in May 2009.
By contrast, just 21% in the latest survey regard power-sharing as
ineffective, believing that “leaders should have found another way to
resolve the crisis.”
On the other hand, 42% of Zimbabweans regarded power-sharing as a compromise
that falls short of their preferred method of choosing a government.
“More than four out of 10 (42%) see it as a second-best solution, to be used
only when elections fail, a figure that has held steady over the previous
year. The rest of the electorate is divided, with one quarter (25%) seeing
power-sharing as a good alternative to competitive elections, which rarely
work well and another quarter (26%) as a bad alternative that should never
replace competitive elections,” reads the survey.
The survey said over the previous year the proportion of citizens who
thought that the parties to the inclusive government were cooperating
politically or working well together dropped from 47% to 38%.
“Zimbabweans clearly recognise that a power imbalance among leaders impedes
collective action. Two thirds of all adults interviewed in October 2010
(68%) consider that political power in the inclusive government resides
“mainly” or “only” with the president, a figure that rose by 10% points over
a year earlier. Just 14% think power is shared equally. And, remarkably, a
mere 6% think that power is held mainly or only by the prime minister,”
reads the study.
The survey noted a significant increase in the participation of people in
the constitution-making process from 40% in September 2009 to 75% in October
“The change was due not only to Copac’s effort to involve citizens in the
constitution-making process, but probably also to a heavy-handed campaign
against meaningful change in the legal framework conducted by Zanu PF
cadres, mainly in rural areas,” says the survey adding that this confirms
that the outreach process became politicised.
The survey results were released last month and conducted in all 10
provinces of the country in October last year.
Thursday, 13 January 2011 18:43
THE Constitution Parliamentary Select Committee (Copac) has launched a
stinging criticism of the government and donors over late release of funds
which the committee blames for the delays in the constitution-making
Copac co-chairperson Douglas Mwonzora told the Zimbabwe Independent this
week that the funding partners, government and the United Nations
Development Programme should have urgency when releasing money for the
writing of a new governance charter.
“Our main problem has been availability of resources on time. We implore the
government and donors to give Copac resources on time to avoid unnecessary
delays,” he said. “Getting funds on time has been a nightmare for Copac.”
The constitution-making process, Mwonzora said, is already lagging behind by
a month due to “unreliable funding” as well as violence and intimidation
that led to the suspension of the exercise in Harare.
Copac says it requires over US$6 million to finance the remaining phase of
the writing of the constitution although Finance minister Tendai Biti
allocated US$1 million under the 2011 budget. Biti’s allocation has been
described by Copac co-chairperson Munyaradzi Mangwana (pictured) as “a joke”.
“For us to meet the timelines our funders should honour their word because
Zimbabweans complain that Copac delays the constitution-making process but
the major problems lies with the government and donors,” said Mwonzora.
Mwonzora said Copac had about $700 000 for the uploading and processing of
data expected to end on January 31. He warned that his committee had no
resources for the sitting of thematic sub-committees.
“If the cooperating partners delay again to give us resources, the thematic
sub-committees may fail to sit as per our plan,” said Mwonzora, a lawyer by
The outreach programme was initially meant to conclude last October then
followed by the appointment of a committee to begin writing the draft
However, the constitutional outreach meetings in Harare were suspended after
incidences of violence, intimidation and racism, with both Zanu PF and MDC-T
blaming each other. No timelines have been set for the completion of the
Zanu PF activists continued to hold “consultative” meetings on the
constitution while MDC-T president and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
declared a constitutional crisis.
In an eventful period, Copac drivers and technicians also went on strike
demanding their allowances, delaying outreach meetings.
Under the Global Political Agreement signed by President Robert Mugabe (Zanu
PF), Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) and Arthur Mutambara (MDC), a new
constitution should precede fresh elections to replace the coalition pact.
Thursday, 13 January 2011 18:42
ECONOMIC Planning and Investment Promotion minister Tapiwa Mashakada has
appealed to negotiators of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) to grant
more powers to the proposed think tank, the National Economic Council.
The NEC is a critical component of the inclusive government’s plan to
restore macro-economic stability in Zimbabwe’s ailing economy. Article 3 of
the GPA spells out that principals should establish the NEC which would be
composed of representatives of the three political parties in the inclusive
government, commerce and industry leaders, plus labour and academia.
Former economic planning minister Elton Mangoma said other nominations had
been made but political parties failed to make theirs as tensions rose
within the inclusive government over opposing political positions.
Mashakada told the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday that after delays in
setting up the council, he wanted the think tank to be an executive body
whose decisions would be binding and not an advisory council as espoused in
The terms of reference of the council, according to the power-sharing deal,
would include giving advice to government and such other functions as
assigned to the council by government.
Mashakada proposes to model the council along similar structures as those in
economic powerhouses like China and Malaysia or regional peers Kenya and
“I have written to the chief negotiators of the GPA appealing to them that
they revise Article 3 of the power sharing agreement so that the NEC becomes
an executive body,” Mashakada said.
“The GPA says it should be an advisory body but I as minister of economic
planning would recommend that the NEC would be an executive
body so that whatever recommendations it makes would be binding. I don’t
have faith in non-executive bodies.”
The setting up of the NEC was one of the outstanding issues of the GPA that
was raised at the November 2009 Sadc Troika meeting in Maputo.
Other outstanding issues of the GPA include the arbitrary reappointment by
President Robert Mugabe of the central bank governor Gideon Gono,
attorney-general Johannes Tomana and the issue of provincial governors.
Thursday, 13 January 2011 18:41
THE problems bedevilling Zanu PF’s Bulawayo province are far from over after
the party’s national political commissar Webster Shamu failed to bring the
warring parties to heel at a heated meeting last week.
Shamu last Sunday interrogated district chairpersons to get first hand
information of the causes of the shambolic state of the party’s structures
ahead of possible elections later this year.
Although Shamu was not available for comment yesterday, Bulawayo provincial
chairman Isaac Dakamela confirmed the Sunday meeting, but declined to
“We met with Shamu, but I cannot tell you what transpired,” he said curtly.
But sources said Shamu, who was accompanied by Airforce of Zimbabwe Air-Vice
Marshal Henry Muchena, who doubles as director of Zanu PF’s commissariat
department, quizzed Dakamela over the suspension of the provincial treasurer
Simon Khabo, his deputy Kenias Sibanda, secretary for security Robert Ncube,
and provincial deputy secretary for indigenisation George Mlala.
The four were suspended last year after they allegedly accused Dakamela of
stealing meat and groceries that were donated to President Robert Mugabe’s
birthday bash that was held in the city in February.
Sources said Shamu lambasted Dakamela and other politburo members for
unilaterally suspending the provincial executive members at a time when the
party’s structures were ailing.
“We wonder why Shamu didn’t lift the suspensions. It seems he once again
walked empty handed from Bulawayo’s Davies Hall after failing to resolve the
differences between senior party officials,” said a Zanu PF top aide.
The Media, Information and Publicity minister was in Bulawayo province to
mend relations between the fighting factions.
Shamu once told the politburo that the party was not ready for elections
because of muddled structures countrywide.
At the 2010 December conference in Mutare, Zanu PF politburo and central
committee members instructed the Bulawayo provincial leadership to lift
suspension of officials.
Sources added Shamu only promised to communicate the outcome of the Sunday
meeting at a later date. The commissar, sources said, chided politburo
members who are said to be fuelling divisions in the party.
“The Bulawayo problems are still on, nothing has been solved,” said a Zanu
PF member this week.
Last October the Zanu PF Bulawayo executive resolved to sack officials
accused of failing to participate in party activities but the resolution was
reversed at the Mutare conference.
The re-launch of Zapu escalated Zanu PF’s problems with former provincial
executives defecting in droves to the Dumiso Dabengwa-led party. The
Dakamela executive came into office in 2008 but has been paralysed by fierce
factionalism and alleged corruption.
Thursday, 13 January 2011 18:33
SOME elements within Zimbabwe’s security forces continue to allow themselves
to be used by Zanu PF to abuse people’s freedoms, the two MDC parties have
The parties this week made separate claims of incidences where police and
the military had allegedly been used by the former ruling party to further
its interests while committing human rights abuses and political violence.
The MDC-T led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai charged in a statement on
Wednesday that at least one of their supporters was abducted in Masvingo at
gunpoint by a known assailant, but the police refused to open a docket on
the matter on the grounds that the issue was too political for them to get
“The Masvingo South district secretary, Elson Mutonhori was abducted at
gunpoint on Saturday morning by one Major Toperesu over a petty issue of
putting on MDC-T party regalia,” the MDC-T said in the statement. “Renco
Mine police refused to open a docket arguing that the matter was too
political for them to be involved.”
The MDC-T said they were however surprised that at the same police station
dockets for MDC-T supporters were quickly opened.
They said Reason Mujaka, the MDC-T Ward 24 youth chairperson was arrested,
hastily taken to court and locked up at Mutimurefu Prison where he was
already serving a six-month sentence for engaging in an altercation with a
war veteran who had assaulted his father.
They said such actions by Zanu PF wrongfully placed “the image of Zimbabwe’s
patriotic security sector, which is necessary to protect integrity, autonomy
and the interests of Zimbabweans”.
National Police spokesperson, Wayne Bvudzijena, however dismissed the
allegations and said police were professional in their approach to duty.
“There is no selectivity in the manner we treat cases of political violence
and the procedure of arresting a person is that the provoker is the one who
is arrested,” Bvudzijena said.
The MDC faction led by Welshman Ncube also claimed they experienced a lot
of unfair treatment from the police during the just-ended MDC National
Nhlanhla Dube, the MDC National Media, Information and Publicity
spokesperson, said two of his political party supporters were arrested for
wearing MDC T-shirts during their national congress last week.
“We had actually wanted the police details present during the congress but
they demanded $13 000 for them to provide security which we could not
afford. When these two were arrested we thought it was curious that in the
first place the police refused to provide security at the public event but
later arrested our supporters on spurious grounds.
“As a political party we are a breathing entity in Zimbabwe which has a
right to existence and so we encourage fair treatment from the police,” Dube
Henry Chimbiri, the MDC Provincial Chairperson for Mashonaland Central said
police in Guruve were openly partisan.
He cited an incident which allegedly happened on January 7 when Zanu PF
youths blockaded the road between Mahuwe and Bakasa growthpoint with stones
and logs to prevent their supporters from attending the national congress.
“The Zanu PF youths hid in the nearby bushes and started throwing stones at
our supporters. A fight erupted between them and our supporters, but the
police came and arrested 47 of our supporters while no Zanu PF supporter was
arrested,” said Chimbiri.
He said the arrested supporters were locked up at the police station
resulting in them failing to attend the congress. They were later made to
pay US$20 fines before being released.
Bvudzijena however insisted police were not partisan and that they always
arrested the first perpetrator.
“I am not privy to what happened during the MDC congress but we always
arrest the first perpetrator, unless if there is general public disorder,”
He said the police always charged a fee for provision of security services
when requested to do so, but in the case of the MDC, he was not aware of the
amount they were charged when they asked the police to provide security at
Thursday, 13 January 2011 18:30
LOVE him or hate him, Welshman Ncube is an astute and shrewd boardroom
planner whose ascendancy to the throne of his MDC faction uncontested at the
party’s third congress last week proves that and more.
His machinations in overcoming a potential split in the party on the eve of
the congress proved his tactical prowess.
When everything else looked so routine with barely 24 hours to the
congress — which would transform him from kingmaker to king — disgruntled
party members led by party chairman Joubert Mudzumwe attempted a palace
Mudzumwe and cohorts held a press conference on Friday “calling off” the
congress until after issues they raised in a petition sent to Ncube, then
secretary-general, were satisfactorily solved. It was a gamble. Welshman
remained cool and acted decisively, thanks to Arthur Mutambara’s “support”.
The plotters raised issues surrounding what they termed the failure by Ncube
to hold an annual national conference, or cause the party’s finances to be
audited and the opaque manner in which disciplinary issues were handled in
Ncube brushed them aside — as a bunch of frustrated leaders who had failed
to gain any nominations for senior party position at the 3rd congress.
Mutambara played the “statesman card” and stayed above the fray while Ncube
had a free run to the top.
Since the October 2005 split from the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC faction,
Ncube has steadily built up his profile within the party and nation.
Ncube used his position as the party’s chief negotiator of the Global
Political Agreement and the resultant position of minister to build his
profile and access the majority of the party members nationally. His party
position then as secretary-general, made it easier for him to plan his next
big move without much consultation with those likely to oppose his rise to
As the congress drew closer, Ncube had all the influential men and women in
the party in his camp. He had Priscilla Misihairambwi-Mushonga, Edwin
Mushoriwa, Goodrich Chimbaira, Miriam Mushayi, Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, Paul
Themba-Nyathi and David Coltart, the party’s bigwigs, in his corner.
Mutambara, another strategist par excellence albeit with little political
experience, read the writing on the wall. He knew it was time to leave. A
strategist knows when to fight and when to walk away and fight another day.
The numbers were with Ncube and any fight would have been futile.
Once his plan was set, Ncube realised he had limited positions to give to
his supporters and creatively suggested amendments to the party’s
constitution to create more portfolios. The party passed the resolution to
create six new portfolios and a council of elders for the party. The game
Miriam Mushayi, the new director of planning and implementation, confirmed
as much when she said: “We solved the problems amicably and resolved to get
positions by consensus. That is why people agreed not to contest each
To that end, there was no contest for the seven party top positions namely,
president, deputy president, chairman, deputy chairman, secretary-general,
deputy secretary-general, treasurer-general and the deputy
Ncube’s acceptance speech was couched in the language of a visionary
national leader. He thanked his predecessor Mutambara for the way he had led
the party and his influence and role in the inclusive government and the
party’s support for him to land the presidency before promising to stay the
course Mutambara had set for the party.
To Mutambara and more importantly to himself, he said: “Take heart from the
abuse you have taken from our enemies, the media who abuse you, in that
there is a great deal of truth in the words of Winston Churchill: — ‘The
true measure of leadership is the animosity among your enemies to you’”.
What remains to be seen is how well he holds on to the power he has secured.
Thursday, 13 January 2011 17:56
AN estimated 2,2 million Zimbabweans are in need of food aid, the Famine
Early Warning System Network (Fewsnet), an early warning system that
monitors food security around the world, said in its latest report.
However, government has dismissed the report, with Agriculture minister
Joseph Made suggesting that the Fewsnet projections do not portray the
“correct” situation on the ground.
“Their (Fewsnet) estimates are wrong. Such figures are not readily available
yet,” Made said.
“We are waiting for the first crop assessment that will give us the amount
of hectarage planted not yields, basing on the quantities needed in the
country and then the food position can be interpreted,” Made said.
The minister said the USAid-funded Fewsnet was not “transparent and sincere”
when dealing with Zimbabwe and as such government ignores their projections.
“Why should they care about Zimbabwe when they imposed sanctions that are
hurting our people?,” Made said.
“In any case they should leave us alone and relocate to Australia where they
are wanted because of the calamity that is there,” Made said.
Some agriculture experts, however, said Fewsnet’s projections portrayed were
“almost close to the ground” as they deploy experts in all provinces to
record the correct situation on the ground.
The annual national food requirement is about 1,7 million tonnes, but only
around 1,35 million tonnes was harvested in 2009/10.
The 1,8 million hectares planted for maize in 2009/10 represented a 20%
increase from the previous year, but the greater amount of land under
cultivation was not mirrored in the harvest, which only increased 7% from
the previous year.
Zimbabwe’s combined cereal production in the 2009/10 season was an estimated
1,52 million metric tonnes.
Made said the “correct” assessment of Zimbabwe’s food situation “will come
from assessments done by Zimbabweans, but I cannot give you a figure as of
now. We are busy ensuring that our farmers have inputs to improve crop
yields this year.
“It would be interesting to know food projections in America against
freezing temperatures and climate change.”
In June last year Fewsnet downgraded Zimbabwe’s food security situation,
revising downwards the number of months covered by the 2009/10 harvest from
seven to four.
“This is a shift from the April outlook estimate of seven-plus months of
cereal sufficiency for the consumption year based on information from the
crop and livestock assessment conducted by the Agriculture, Mechanisation
and Irrigation Development ministry,” Fewsnet said.
It said Matabeleland South and Masvingo provinces had the least cereal
supply, ranging from one-and-half months to less than three months.
This was due to a mid-season dry spell which adversely affected crop
production in the two provinces.
The Matabeleland North cereal supply was recorded as being high due to the
success of small grains in the area.
Fewsnet said external assistance was urgently needed in food-deficit areas
such as Masvingo, Matabeleland South and parts of Manicaland provinces as
well as Mashonaland East’s Mudzi district.
Thursday, 13 January 2011 17:55
JUSTICE Minister Patrick Chinamasa admits that the government bungled six
years ago by taking over Mutumwa Mawere’s SMMH empire without conducting a
due diligence inquiry.
Chinamasa made the admission when he appeared before the Parliamentary
Portfolio Committee on Mines and Energy on Monday to give oral evidence on
how government placed SMM under state administration and its subsequent
closure under the management of a state appointed administrator.
SMMH was placed under the state administration in September 2004 through the
Reconstruction of State Indebted and Insolvent Companies Act. The
conglomerate then allegedly owed state owned corporations a combined Z$115
Chinamasa said the government messed up by plunging into the company without
verifying the financial position of the mines.
“If we could have had the information before this (putting SMMH under
administration) we would have acted differently. This (financial position)
only came to light after we had appointed an administrator,” he said.
He added that the government acted in haste to save the company from folding
for two main reasons, promoting indigenisation and to save Zvishavane town.
“Government tried to stop lenders from placing SMMH under liquidation. That
was why we hastened to get in. We were sucked into the situation because we
could not tolerate the collapse of the mines that employed 5 600 people and
supported the 60 000 population of Zvishavane,” Chinamasa said.
The minister admitted that the mines would have been liquidated in 2008
after the Reserve Bank pulled the plug on the ailing conglomerate in 2008.
“Once there was no assistance from the RBZ, it was clear that nothing was
going to happen. I knew that was the end. There was no need to go there. In
retrospect that was what should have happened,” conceded Chinamasa.
The minister said the mines were now in de facto liquidation without the
The legal battles are still a long way to be settled after Chinamasa vowed
not to settle outside the courts with Mawere as a compromise.
“There is no way we will settle.Let the courts decide,” Chinamasa stressed,“thereafter,
we will sit and discuss. It’s too late in the day after 25 cases and we are
not agreed on who is culpable for the demise of the mines.”
Chinamasa, however, said only President Robert Mugabe’s intervention could
force him to abandon course.
“If the president calls me and says do this I will do it without question.
In the circumstances, the finalisation of the matter in the courts (in my
favour) would give me a stronger standing and push me to present a new
position,” the minister said.
Chinamasa further said the ownership wrangle was keeping new investors away
and the government presently prefers investors from the East because of
sanctions by the European Union and the United States.
“No new investor would want to get in when the legal dust on ownership has
not settled,” Chinamasa told the committee. “You will not have any investor
other than the Chinese. That is correct. The position was taken under
sanctions. It’s China. China is in the East.”
Mawere is on record telling Parliament that Chinamasa’s actions were akin to
commercial violence when he issued the reconstruction order in 2004.
“This was purely commercial violence,” Mawere said then. “It is very unusual
for a Minister of Justice to make a defamatory allegation against someone.
The first thing is to ask Chinamasa what was his frame of mind when he did
The Supreme Court is still to rule on the constitutionality of the
Reconstruction of State Indebted and Insolvent Companies Act used to wrestle
SMMH from him by the state. Until it makes a ruling, the wrangle will rage
Thursday, 13 January 2011 17:52
WEIGHED down by years of mismanagement, poor industrial relations and
bureaucratic bungling, a new substantive Air Zimbabwe CEO will have a
daunting task of improving operations at the national airline.
The airline is heavily indebted and morale among the staff is at its lowest
ebb. Frequent flight delays and cancellations, loss of luggage, overbooking
and shoddy passenger treatment are regular complaints from travellers.
Aviation experts who spoke to businessdigest this week said the problems
were symptomatic of bigger issues, which include mismanagement, poor
industrial relations resulting in low productivity and disparity between
revenue and expenditure.
“When such things are not in order, human beings tend to display passive
resistance. How do you expect someone who has not been paid to smile or
offer you a pleasant service?” a senior manager at the airline asked. “An
airline is usually strong at home, but in Zimbabwe a lot of people cannot
afford to fly, necessitating a deliberate strategy to grow the market
outside of the country’s borders. However, since mid-2007 the contrary
happened. Management pulled out of a lot of both profitable and potentially
profitable routes such as Malawi, Dar-es-Salaam, Dubai and Nairobi.”
The airline also briefly ran domestic operations in the Democratic Republic
of Congo in partnership with Ligne Aérienne Congolaises, the DRC national
airline. The DRC operation was described as “costly but highly profitable”,
providing the airline with enough liquidity to service its debts and
commitments as well as pay its staff.
The pullout was not supported by a strategy to retain market share enough to
offset both operating costs and fixed costs. This resulted in extreme
erosion of the revenue base while the cost-base increased along with the
attendant spiralling debts.
Among the critical creditors is International Air Transport Association
(IATA) which is owed nearly US$4 million. To reduce exposure to the
defaulting airline, IATA suspended Air Zimbabwe from its clearing house
which effectively means that the airline cannot feed into other airlines or
accept traffic from other airlines through interline arrangements. Such
arrangements mean that Air Zimbabwe cannot sell tickets on behalf of other
airlines and vice-versa.
This effectively means the airline can only carry point to point traffic. As
a result of this, passengers including government officials shun the
national airline in favour of more networked foreign airlines.
“Airline business is all about interlining which makes it easy for
passengers to connect and is cheaper for individuals whose destination
involves more than one flight as they will hold one ticket. As it stands,
Air Zimbabwe is operating like an army of one person,” an aviation source
Aviation experts say Air Zimbabwe was not a total right off and could still
be profitable if properly managed. Some aviation experts are of the opinion
that a majority stake in the national airline should be sold to a strategic
partner that is financially sound.
A recent investigation by parliament unearthed that the national airline was
operating on an overdraft, unable to service its planes or retire delinquent
debts estimated at US$64 million. The parastatal is said to be operating at
a loss of US$2 million per month.
Air Zimbabwe has pulled out of 18 routes from 25 and scaled down on the
number of flights per week to “rationalise operations and contain costs”.
While the airline was withdrawing from these routes citing “viability”
challenges, its competition has stepped in to fill the void.
Kenya Airways now flies to Harare 12 times a week between Harare and Nairobi
while Ethiopian Airlines now flies into Harare daily.
South African Airways also plans to increase frequencies from two to three a
day on the Harare — Johannesburg route while the national airline is
struggling to operate its two daily frequencies with regularity and
The reduction of routes and frequencies impacted negatively on the
utilisation of resources, as the airline still found itself faced with same
“What Air Zimbabwe needs to do is to maintain a reasonable amount of money
as maintenance reserve. History has shown that this very same fleet can
still be used to offer a decent product operating with regularity acceptable
in the industry if well maintained,” an engineer told businessdigest on
The engineer cited Boeing 737-200s which are still operational and being
used by most companies in South Africa and are said to be in good condition
“In fact, the airline leases the same equipment whenever they need
additional capacity,” insiders said.
Air Zimbabwe has a high turnover of chief executive officers, which has seen
names such as Fungai Musara, Huttush Muringi (late), Irishman Brendon
Donohoe, Tich Garabga, Rambai Chingwena, Tendai Mahachi, Augustine
Mutyambizi and Oscar Madombwe (in an acting capacity) come and go.
The latest in the long line, Peter Chikumba, left on December 31 and has the
distinction of being the only CEO to complete his term of office at the
Among the potential replacements are acting incumbent Innocent Mavhunga,
Madombwe and the new secretary-general of the African Airlines Association
It is unlikely that Chingosho would leave his new post for Air Zimbabwe
while Madombwe has held the job in an acting capacity on two occasions ––
May 2004 to January 2005 and November 2005 – February 2007. He failed to
land the job on a fulltime basis on both occasions.
Mavhunga is familiar with challenges at the airline and has the opportunity
to show that he can turn the airline’s fortunes if given an opportunity.
Thursday, 13 January 2011 18:19
By Silence Chihuri
JANUARY 8 will go down as a historic day in Zimbabwean politics. For the
first time in the history of our volatile politics, the sitting, able and
living leader of a political party stood down and handed power to another
member of the party.
No matter how much those people among us Zimbabweans who have chosen to be
judges of the Zimbabwean political discourse and Zimbabwean politicians may
seek to belittle or dismiss this monumental event as non-event, this is
historic as much as it is important a development that puts a lot of things
relating to Zimbabwean politics into perspective.
The subject of my writing is the MDC formation formerly led by Arthur
Mutambara and what has happened in that smaller but definitely no-push-over
party. It is a smaller party in terms of its size in membership,
representation in both houses of parliament as well as seats in government.
But the achievements of this party are by no means small at all. Indeed
Mutambara in his parting address at the ended congress called it “....this
This is a party that has produced a Deputy Prime Minister and has ministers
heading key ministries such as education, industry and commerce among other
These two are ministries of paramount importance in the development of our
country especially from the point of view of the supposed peacetime we must
be enjoying. However, in the era of Zanu PF’s tyrannical rule where force
and brutality has become the hallmark of being in power, the ministries of
Home Affairs, State Security and Defence have been catapulted ahead of these
and the result has been the collapse of education and the economy.
This supposedly miniature party now called the MDC-M has been leading from
the front in every respect but very little credit has been given to the
leadership of the party thanks to what I think is largely the judgemental,
opinionated and somewhat unforgiving nature of Zimbabwean public opinion.
It is this kind of vengeful, vitriolic and condemnatory attitude to our
politics and the politicians plying that trade that has in a way prolonged
our political quagmire under which Zanu PF has thrived.
We the Zimbabwean public are our public enemy number one. We hate each other
with a vengeance and sometimes for no substantial reason instead of
sincerely thriving to work together for the good of our country.
Another virtue that seems to have fast deserted us is that of the memory to
appreciate the efforts of those that have done certain things to contribute
especially to our national politics.
There is a very conservatively used expression that says “history is not
built by trashing the contributions of your forbearers”, meaning that for us
to be part of, and to make history, we have to appreciate the contributions
of those before us, or simply those who are doing what “we” might simply be
watching from a distance.
The leadership of this smaller MDC-M has courted the ire of Zimbabweans but
quite unjustifiably in some, or rather most, of the cases and this has
resulted in the people of Zimbabwe failing to fully appreciate what the
leadership of this smaller but “great party” has done.
Ncube, an academic and constitutional lawyer and businessman, is the
founding secretary-general of the party. Ncube was a compromise candidate
for that position and he has lived up to that role of being a compromise
politician in the rapturous terrain of Zimbabwean opposition politics.
Ncube entered politics for the very first time when the MDC was formed in
1999 and the role of secretary-general is one that he went on to grow into
and filled adequately in the process. He went on to become one of the most
respected MDC leaders at home and abroad but very little notice has been
paid to the pivotal role he played almost singlehandedly in taking the MDC
I was privy especially to that process of taking the MDC to the
international community because of my involvement with the party in those
initial years and by virtue of happening to be abroad quite early on in the
As secretary-general of the party Ncube was more or less the point person of
the MDC management committee and was also among the so-called Top Six of
that committee comprising himself, Morgan Tsvangirai, the late Gibson
Sibanda, Isaac Matongo, Paul Themba-Nyathi and Fletcher Dulini.
The softly spoken, carefully worded Ncube quickly won over the hearts of
many international governments and world leaders as the roving ambassador of
the party, taking the MDC agenda to all parts of the world as the Zimbabwean
situation became global as much as it was national, if Pan-African.
At home Ncube did not get consumed in the rabid megaphone and highly charged
politics of the MDC in which punctuated insults towards Zanu PF and their
leader Robert Mugabe became the norm. He remained largely restrained and
calculatedly cautious at a time when visibly dangerous but seemingly popular
politics of “taking the regime on” became the order of the day.
This was a dangerous course that would lead the MDC to a full blown
confrontational course with Zanu PF that would lead to the violence that I
dare say needlessly claimed hundreds of lives. It was a miscalculated and
dangerous way of politicking because the MDC leadership proved to lack both
the capacity and the will to substantiate their rooftop threats to Zanu PF.
Like any profession, politics also calls for risk assessment, judgment,
analysis, and most importantly, restraint and caution on the part of those
who lead from the front.
Ncube made his own individual assessment of the Zimbabwean political terrain
quite early and he made up his mind to pursue cautious but effective
This is the kind of politics that enabled him bridge the ever widening gap
between Tsvangirai and Mugabe making it possible to have the two erstwhile
enemies serving in the same government. Without Ncube that would very
certainly have never been able to be achieved realistically.
The very inaccurate and rather patronising assertions by the recalled
American ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell that Ncube is a divisive
figure in Zimbabwean politics must never go unchallenged. However Ncube may
indeed cause divided opinion among Zimbabweans from a political perspective,
but he should not be held responsible for the porousness that is simmering
in Zimbabwean public opinion at the moment.
Because that is without doubt the result of Zanu PF and Mugabe’s divide and
rule tactics that he inherited very impressively from Ian Smith at
Independence. If anything, Ncube has been a unifier and I will once again
revisit his unifying role later on, but this again has never been fully
appreciated because of this bizarre fixation with Ncube’s sparse weaknesses
rather than his visible strengths and virtues as a politician.
The dilemma of course with Zimbabwean politics at the moment is one of
suitability versus capability and acceptability. There are certain
politicians who are perceived to be more acceptable (yet not necessarily
suitable/capable) to the Zimbabwean populace without necessarily giving due
diligence to their preconceived (suitability/capability) role as the
torchbearers of the Zimbabwean national agenda.
This nonsense that Ncube has manipulated the entire MDC-M provincial
establishment around the country to ensure he is catapulted to the
presidency of that party is to me extremely bigoted and tinkers on the
equally bankrupt notion that has also been peddled by some warped analysts
that, being a Ndebele from the Matabeleland part of the country, there was
no way Ncube could mobilise predominantly Shona provincial councils to
nominate him and eventually getting him voted for the presidency of the
The development in the MDC-M party must send a very clear message that
political influence is in those who are in politics and not those sitting in
the comfort of their armchairs and analysing from their distant homes.
Continued next week.
Silence Chihuri writes in his own capacity and can be contacted
on -firstname.lastname@example.org This e-mail address is being protected
Thursday, 13 January 2011 18:17
General Constantine Chiwenga thinks it’s OK for him to meddle in politics
while threatening NGOs with expulsion if they do the same thing.
“Zimbabwe will not hesitate to kick out NGOs that meddle in the country’s
internal politics,” he warned in an address at an Anglican church meeting
He urged church organisations to be wary of “machinations of Western
imperialists” to topple legitimate governments through their institutions.
“We have a plethora of NGOs here and most of them are political commissars
of neo-colonialism,” he said.
“If you come saying you want to build Blair toilets and we later see you
interfering in political affairs of this country, we will tell you to go.”
What about military officers that interfere in the internal affairs of this
country? We hope they have to go as well. Are the operations of NGOs not
governed by law? What right does Chiwenga have to dictate who can and cannot
work here? He should be attending to the needs of the armed forces and
providing a professional service to the nation. That is his job, not
policing civil society.
Zimbabwe has a problem with Zanu PF supporters over-stepping their
responsibilities. We drew attention recently to Brigadier Douglas
Nyikayaramba who told us 10 years ago that he was a retired officer and thus
eligible to be chief elections officer. Now he is marching around in uniform
threatening people who support the MDC-T.
We hear Zanu PF apparatchiks like Karikoga Kaseke talking about “negative
perceptions” of Zimbabwe which deter tourism. When we see military officers
engaging in politics and threatening people who don’t subscribe to Zanu PF’s
redundant views we are not at all surprised that such perceptions persist.
Meanwhile, the nation relies upon NGOs to keep rural folk fed because Zanu
PF has destroyed the country’s agricultural base. Despite reports of a great
leap forward, the country is still dependent upon US and EU support.
Why does Welshman Ncube choose to focus on the need to lift sanctions
without condemning the sanctions Zanu PF has imposed on the country?
Ncube said at the MDC-M congress that “sanctions continue to impede the
Do they? What about the refusal of the state to issue broadcasting licences?
How can people make an informed choice at the ballot box when the only voice
heard across the land is President Mugabe’s. What about the arrest of
editors in what is becoming increasingly a police state? What about the role
of the military in electoral intimidation, and the breakdown in the rule of
What about the proposal by the Attorney-General to set up a commission of
lawyers to examine prosecuting Tsvangirai for treason, a dubious step if
ever there was one?
Instead of examining these matters in his speech Ncube chose to make a
populist address about sanctions and “Western interference”.
Is this really what the people want? Another lecture on the evils of
colonialism and how all our troubles can be put down to sanctions?
Prof: Can we stop you if we’ve heard it? And if it is “the right of the
people of Zimbabwe to choose who should lead them at any given time”, why
don’t you submit yourself to their verdict and find a seat to contest? Or
are sanctions preventing that?
The leadership change that occurred within the formerly Arthur Mutambara-led
MDC is a clear testimony of lack of focus in the party, at least according
to Zanu PF.
On Monday evening unlucky viewers were subjected to the “scoff” by Zanu PF
of the just-ended MDC conference which saw Welshman Ncube ascending to the
post of president.
Zanu PF Secretary for Information and Publicity Rugare Gumbo is quoted as
saying the MDC “has got no vision or programme for Zimbabwe and this was
evidenced by the chaotic scenes at the party’s third congress and the
divisions that emerged in the movement.”
We are tempted to surmise that the “chaotic scenes” Gumbo is referring to
are about Mutambara peacefully stepping aside without any bloodshed. Zanu PF
officials have made clear on numerous occasions their disdain for the
peaceful transfer of the reins of power. At their own conference in Mutare
they swiftly suppressed any talk of succession within their ranks.
A Cde Boniface Mutize is quoted as saying the recent events at the MDC-M
congress reveal that the faction is not credible (sic) even to qualify to
receive government funding given to political parties in Zimbabwe.
“This is a clear testimony of lack of focus in the party,” he mused. “Surely
these guys do not even deserve receiving government funding.”
Leadership change is clearly an alien concept in Zanu PF’s view and to them
it is a sign that “the party (MDC-M) is immature as far as politics is
Probably having “a party of octogenarians,” as Jonathan Moyo describes Zanu
PF, is the sign of maturity that they are looking for!
Not to be outdone, MDC-99 leader Job Sikhala is reported by ZBC as stating
that there would be no fundamental changes in the MDC because of Ncube’s
“The fortunes of the party which had been on a downwards trend,” says
Sikhala, “look set to continue.”
Sikhala goes on to point out that the Ncube faction faces the challenge to
change public perceptions from being a regional and tribally inclined party
to a national movement. He also said that in case of elections he does not
see the Ncube-led formation getting more than 1% of the votes.
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! It would be prudent for Sikhala
to focus on his own party’s measly political fortunes. He too faces a
monumental challenge to change public perceptions of his party from being a
Mickey mouse outfit to one whose membership exceeds 99 people.
We were interested to read in NewsDay that settlers at Vreigright Farm near
Figtree are “up in arms” with the government over the eviction of a white
farmer who has been replaced by Bulawayo High Court judge, Justice Maphios
“When we accepted this land at the height of the land reform we were settled
as A1 land holders and we were advised by the district authorities to
coexist with a white farmer who had a conservancy here and we did that,” a
representative of the farmers said. “About three months ago however we saw
Justice Cheda coming from out of the blue to settle here.”
Justice Cheda had an offer letter for 500 hectares they said. That was “a
huge chunk” of land, they said, wondering where their animals would graze.
“The settlers said Justice Cheda ‘had already started dictating as if he was
our landlord and it had become difficult to get water from him unlike in the
past when the white farmer was on the land’.”
“We lived well with the farmer but now we have seen police coming around
with the surfacing of Justice Cheda from nowhere and we now have a very
uneasy relationship with him…Obviously we fear him being a judge and do not
see why the white man was removed.”
This is an interesting story. The Zimbabwe Independent has argued
consistently over the years since 2000 that it was injudicious for judges to
accept gifts from the government. Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku says
judges are as entitled as anyone else to apply for land.
But in the case reported above we see how there is a possible conflict of
After the opening of the new legal year by the Chief Justice this week in
which he asserted the need for an independent judiciary, the Herald was full
But while we also welcome this assertion of the independence of the
judiciary, we know that the allocation of farms to judges –– who preside
over land cases and whose farms can just as easily be withdrawn by the
minister –– vitiates that independence.
This is something that needs to be examined during the constitutional reform
We were interested to note that Tendai Midzi, who pours scorn on Morgan
Tsvangirai, is now simply locating himself in London and no longer pretends
to be an economics lecturer at the London Metropolitan University. That is
perhaps because the Herald edited his extravagant claims. However, his
Metropolitan fiction persists on his website.
Why is the Herald so dependent on columnists who refuse to live in Zimbabwe?
There must be some resident Zimbabweans who are prepared to defend Zanu PF!
One of those brave few, Isdore Guvamombe, last week illustrated the problem
of half-baked local commentators by telling a whopper about a girl in a
miniskirt. The story was passed on to him second hand so by the time it
reached the Herald it had become, like his hero, rather elderly.
Anyway, young Isdore’s uncle was working in a labour gang of four men plus a
foreman on Manica Rd when the miniskirt came past. Unused to such shameless
exposure, the men stared. So disconcerted was the girl by this “visual
harassment” that she lost her step and tripped.
The white foreman confirmed in court that the men had embarrassed the girl
with their “talking and lustful eyes”. They were, according to Guvamombe,
sentenced to six-months jail.
Needless to say, Guvamombe takes some liberties with his story. He places
the event in “a part of town reserved for whites only”, that is “the
“eastern side of the CDB (sic), that is the area from King’s Way (sic) going
up to First St”.
“Under normal circumstances they would not put their foot there for it was
the preserve of the white Rhodesian supremacists…”
“The ‘No Jews, No Blacks’ insignia was inscribed at shop doors and hotels
but they (the road repair gang) had the privilege to work in the area.”
Normally it would not be worthwhile discussing this tosh, but as Guvamombe
claims it is part of a campaign to prevent anybody daring to mention human
rights in the current era, it would be useful to comment.
Here are just a few points for the record. Guvamombe says his uncle, from
whom this story emanated, worked on construction sites in Harare from 1957
to 1980. Miniskirts were worn in the late 1960s. There was no “insignia”
outside shops and hotels saying “No Jews, No Blacks”. In South Africa in
the 1950s perhaps, in Rhodesia no. More likely was an occasional “Whites
Only” sign but these had been largely removed by the late 60s when
miniskirts were common. There were needless to say no parts of the city in
the 1960s reserved for whites. Where did he get that from? And we are
unaware of any law called “Visual Harassment”. Perhaps Guvamombe can tell us
when it was passed? Crimen Injuria would have been a more likely “offence”.
We understand Zanu PF’s need to recall colonial brutality to beef up its
sagging cause, but there is a whole generation now that knows who is
responsible for the nation’s current plight and refuses to embrace those who
tell tall tales. The story of colonial discrmination needs to be told. But
it would be useful if official regurgitators could get just a few of their
By the way, has anybody looked at sidewalk pavings in the CBD today?
Absolutely no attempt has been made to prevent them from being a terrible
hazard to pedestrians.
We were intrigued to see Commissioner of Prisons, Retired Major-General
Paradzai Zimondi, talking of a “turnaround” in the prison system
He was speaking on the occasion of the promotion of two deputy
“Let it be known that His Excellency the Head of State and Government and
Commander in Chief of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Cde RG Mugabe and the
Government of the Republic of Zimbabwe appreciate your exceptional efforts
and thus you have kindly been rewarded,” Zimondi told the deputy
commissioners. He said the prisons faced a “blessed” year.
So what exactly has been achieved in the prisons system since Justice Rita
Makarau wrote that excoriating report on shocking conditions under Zimondi’s
It would be good to hear that the prisons chiefs have spent some time
improving conditions in the prisons, that is of course when they are not
heaping praise on each other.
And what was this “button stick” a police officer used to stop Douglas
Mwonzora from running over another officer? Was it the same as a baton
MPs should lead by example, police spokesman Supt Andrew Phiri said. He didn’t
mean running over policemen we hope!
While the Herald editorial of January 10 lauds the slashing of maize in
undesignated areas, another state-controlled organ, ZBC, condemns it as
inspired by agents of imperialism.
Talk of the left eye not seeing what the right does. Ever heard of cognitive
The Herald carried a rather dishonest caption on January 8 in its “People &
Living” supplement. It showed Rastafarians “puffing cigarettes at their
shrine in Glen Norah” during the recent visit by Capleton.
Cigarettes my foot. A quick glance and any reader would safely conclude
those weren’t cigarettes they were puffing!
Thursday, 13 January 2011 18:16
MEDIA reports in recent weeks have cited numerous industrial, commercial and
business authorities’ views on the many factors which have contributed to
low levels of the economy in general, and of inadequate productivity in
All of those media sources emphasised that most, if not all, of the
economically debilitating causes, still prevail and are likely to endure
into 2011, and many of them probably into years ahead. Amongst the many
hindrances confronting a substantive economic turnaround, almost all those
identifying the constraints have identified the paucity of parastatal
service delivery as one of the keymost ones.
First and foremost of the service delivery deficiencies which are impacting
so negatively is the provision of essential energy supplies. Save for some
relatively limited usage of private sector generators, the exclusive source
of energy is Zesa, primarily electricity generated from the Hwange thermal
power facility, and from the Kariba hydro-electric infrastructure,
marginally supplemented by electricity imports from some of Zimbabwe’s
neighbouring territories. The extent of such imports is markedly minimised
by a combination of many of the neighbouring countries having limited excess
electricity over their own national needs, and by Zesa’s inadequacy of
resources to fund the imports.
However, limitations of energy generation by Zesa have been very markedly
exacerbated by most of its infrastructure becoming increasingly aged and,
therefore, ever subject to increased frequency and extent of mechanical
This circumstance has progressively been further worsened by Zesa’s
inability to maintain, adequately and fully, its generating resources,
particularly due to funding insufficiency, and partially as a result of
limited availability of requisite technological skills, many of its skilled
personnel have gone to other countries in the region, and beyond.
In addition, energy delivery is recurrently impacted upon negatively by
breakdowns in the national transmission network, in part as a result of
paucity of maintenance, and partially due to recurrent vandalism and theft
of transmission lines and equipment.
All of these circumstances confront Zesa with few alternatives but to resort
to recurrent loadshedding, which is extremely disruptive to the operations
of industry, the mining sector, and others, grievously impacting upon
Loadshedding is also very demoralising and discomforting to the populace in
general, resulting in increasingly great decline in productivity motivation.
Compounding the consequential economic losses, unscheduled disruptions in
energy supplies frequently occasion massive losses for manufacturers through
impairment of materials in the course of production.
The inability of Zesa to service the economy’s needs is intensified by the
service delivery deficiencies of many other parastatals. Air Zimbabwe,
almost wholly due to financial limitations, has reduced its services to a
greater extent. Until recently it was servicing 25 domestic, regional and
international routes, and now only seven.
As against a proud record, the envy of most other regional airlines, of
exceptional punctuality and timeousness of flights, many Air Zimbabwe
flights are now subject to time delays or cancellations. This air service
decline has negative consequences upon essential business travel and,
therefore, upon the economy. Very similar circumstances apply to the
service delivery of National Railways of Zimbabwe.
Yet another parastatal’s service delivery decline that is impacting
negatively upon the economy and, therefore, upon attaining a substantial
economic recovery, is that of TelOne. Although it has demonstrated itself
as a customer caring service provider on many occasions, and particularly so
in Matabeleland, it too suffers from financial illiquidity, and losses of
skilled personnel, severely affecting service delivery, and its service
constraints intensified by the domino effects of erratic energy supplies.
If government has a genuine intent to restore economic wellbeing to Zimbabwe
and its people, one of the extremely urgent needs is to address —
comprehensively and constructively — is the rehabilitation of the
However, the harsh fact is that it does not have the resources necessary to
do so. To all intents and purposes, government is bankrupt, with debt
approximating US$7 billion, and annual revenues being minuscule as compared
to essential expenditures. There is, therefore, only one way whereby a
complete, and relatively rapid, transformation of parastatals, and
restoration of their effective service delivery, can be achieved, and that
is by effective privatisation of the parastatals, in whole or in part.
By merely divesting itself of ownership of the parastatals, government will
not restore their wellbeing.
The disinvestment must be primarily in favour of investors who are able and
willing to recapitalise the parastatals to the full extent necessary for
effective, ongoing operations, and who can also accord the entities with
comprehensive access to requisite technological skills. The investors must
not only be providers of finance but, to all intents and purposes must also
be strategic operational partners.
In pursuit of such partners, government must have an unequivocal recognition
that there are few, if any, of investors in Zimbabwe with the required
resources and, therefore, despite the excessive governmental fixation on
indigenisation, the investors will have to be sought further afield than in
That does not preclude some indigenous equity participation, be it by way of
employee share participation, listing on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, or
otherwise, but a major portion of disinvestment must be in favour of foreign
investors who can provide the parastatals with the finance which they
desperately, and critically require.
A by-product benefit of parastatal privatisation is that the impoverished
government will realise some inflows to the fiscus from the investors, and
concurrently can achieve release from guarantees it has given for loans
resorted to, over the years, by many of the parastatals.
Ministers Tendai Biti and Gorden Moyo, as well as some others, have often
emphasised the need to progress parastatals’ privatisation as a matter of
urgency, but that is yet to materialise. Doing so now requires unreserved,
determined, rapid, real action for, if that is not the case, the prospects
of a meaningful and expeditious economic recovery are non-existent.
Thursday, 13 January 2011 18:14
IT IS almost election time in Zimbabwe and the treason season is upon us. In
fact, anyone looking to challenge President Robert Mugabe for the presidency
of Zimbabwe and before that the prime ministership, first has to leap the
hurdle of a treason trial.
It has become a sort of initiation and the higher the stakes or the stronger
the opposition the more likely a treason trial will be in the run up to the
Anybody who has challenged the hegemony of Mugabe, such as the late Joshua
Nkomo (Zapu), Ndabaningi Sithole (Zanu-Ndonga), Abel Muzorewa (UANC), and
more recently Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T), has faced a death threat, the
maximum sentence for treason.
In fact Edgar Tekere, who formed and headed the short-lived Zimbabwe Unity
Movement (ZUM) in 1990, is the only opposition leader never to be charged
While none of the accused were convicted, the time and resources involved
are energy-sapping and with the exception of Tsvangirai none have posed much
of a threat to the established order.
It is no coincidence that the biggest threat to Mugabe’s uninterrupted
rulership of Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai, has faced more treason charges than any
other politician. In 2004 Tsvangirai was cleared of treason charges
emanating from his involvement with Dickens & Madson, a political
consultancy firm led by Ari Ben Menashe, where they allegedly discussed the
“elimination” of Mugabe in a contrived scenario.
Enter WikiLeaks and the sharks have smelled blood.
Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, is expected to set up a commission to
investigate Tsvangirai’s alleged statement in a cable released on December
24 2009, in which he insisted that sanctions be kept in place.
If the commission was to decide that he has a case to answer, Tsvangirai
would once again stand trial –– his political future and life at stake.
With the exception of Sithole, the treason accused have all escaped
conviction. Sithole died in 2000 while appealing against a guilty verdict.
With such a poor prosecution record, analysts question the motive for
bringing forward treason charges with the scantiest of evidence.
Irene Petras, director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said the
treason charges were “used frequently after Independence.”
“In most cases, there was no success,” said Petras. “However, it takes a lot
of time and energy answering to the treason charges.”
South African-based analyst, Sabelo Gatsheni-Ndlovu said accusing opposition
leaders of treason fitted into the Zanu PF strategy of “scapegoating and
othering” of political opponents as counter-revolutionaries, sellouts,
puppets, dissidents, enemies of the state and other such labels.
“Creating cases for political opponents and turning them into enemies of the
state is indeed a very old Zanu PF strategy that they will continue to use,
wear down, waste time and resources as long as it distracts the political
opponent from the core political business,” he said.
“As we approach crucial elections this year or later, this strategy will be
used on opposition leadership while violence deals with the electorate.”
A treason trial involving a high-profile politician could drag on for long
periods which may hinder the politician or party from campaigning.
While Tomana, who has openly declared his support for Zanu PF, cannot
legally constitute a commission to investigate Tsvangirai (such a commission
can only be appointed by Mugabe), the possibility that the MDC-T leader can
find himself in the dock exists if Mugabe so decides.
“Zanu PF’s use of the law as a political weapon to further expand its
hegemonic project is unfortunate though of course no-one must be above the
law,” said Booker Magure, a post-doctoral research fellow at Rhodes
University, South Africa. “It is an open secret that the law is selectively
applied in Zimbabwe especially when we consider the fact that treason is
used by Zanu PF to whip opposition figures into line.”
Treason charges against politicians have invariably crumbled for lack of
evidence leading observers to accuse the state of “false flagging”.
Tendai Biti, the MDC-T secretary-general was in 2008 accused of writing a
treasonous document ahead of the inconclusive harmonised elections. The case
was later withdrawn.
Dabengwa, now the president of the revived Zapu, together with the late
Lookout Masuku were in 1982 arrested for high treason. They escaped
conviction but were unable to enjoy their freedom because the state
continued to detain them.
Muzorewa, the leader of the short-lived Zimbabwe Rhodesia of 1979 was
arrested in 1983 under Operation Chinyavada (scorpion), accused of sending 5
000 auxiliaries to the then apartheid South Africa in preparation for a
Muzorewa, whose party had won three seats in the 1980 elections was later
Reverend Sithole was accused of leading a dissident group, Chimwenje,
plotting to kill Mugabe using explosives.
The WikiLeaks cables have provided Zanu PF hawks with ammunition to fire at
Tsvangirai in the run-up to possible elections later this year.
Political scientist Takura Zhangazha said Zanu PF was “playing politics with
the issue of WikiLeaks” and was trying to give a false impression that the
MDC was “working in cahoots with the American government”.
Zhangazha said: “Their persecution of opposition figures may however not be
as extreme as that of Idi Amin (of Uganda) or Mobutu Sese Seko (of the then
Zaire now Democratic Republic of Congo) but it is all the same apparent,
especially via some of the arbitrary legal mechanisms they utilise against
Thursday, 13 January 2011 18:12
By Mutumwa Mawere
TODAY (Tuesday) is a very special day for me, for it was the day I was born.
When I woke up today I expected to get pleasant birthday messages and
presents as is customary.
However, this year my unforgettable birthday presents were a number of
articles containing outrageous and defamatory allegations made by Justice
minister Patrick Chinamasa during a hearing conducted by the Portfolio
Committee on Mines and Energy chaired by Edward Chindori-Chininga on Monday.
It was only in November 2010 that Chinamasa had objected to my appearance
before the same committee on the grounds that doing so was subjudice and yet
when he appeared on Monday, I am informed that he felt so comfortable to
make statements which when fully analysed expose a scary phenomenon that
would not ordinarily be associated with a transitional democratic
It is instructive that Chinamasa insisted that I did not own SMM Holdings
Ltd (SMMH), a company incorporated in the UK that is the sole shareholder of
SMM Holdings Pvt Ltd (SMM).
He then made the point that I was responsible for the collapse of SMM. In
addition, Chinamasa stated confidently that: “The situation right now is
that SMM Holdings is 100% owned by government. (Mawere) has never been the
owner even on the basis of the sale and purchase agreement and we gave him
de-facto control of the companies, but not ownership — as ownership of SMM
Holdings resides with the government of Zimbabwe, 100%.
“Mawere failed to raise the US$60 million required to complete the
acquisition of the company from its previous United Kingdom-based T&N Plc.”
After reading the above, it becomes critical to question the kind of
constitutional order that would permit a Minister of Justice to make
comments about a transaction that took place before he was appointed
minister of the government of Zimbabwe, and more significantly why it would
be his business to retrospectively seek to review without the assistance of
a competent court of law a transaction involving foreign domiciled
If Chinamasa on July 9 2004 came to the conclusion that it was in the
interests of justice to specify me in respect of the affairs of SMM, then
how can it be the case that after six years I am suddenly irrelevant? If I
am irrelevant today, then it stands to reason that I should have been
If I had not been the owner of SMM as alleged by Chinamasa, then why would
it be the case that I could be credited with destroying that which I did not
own in the first place?
Chinamasa makes the case that he, and not the seller of SMMH, gave control
of the companies to me but not ownership, without explaining how control can
be legally divested from an owner without an agreement providing for the
transfer of ownership and control.
If it was the case that I had no ownership rights as alleged, then the only
relationship between the previous owner of SMMH — T&N Plc — and Africa
Resources Ltd (ARL), as the purchaser, would have been that of principal and
As a lawyer, Chinamasa should know that you cannot refer to an agreement
being that of sale and purchase if in reality the outcome is that one would
be an agent of a contracting party.
A sale and purchase agreement produces outcomes that are well established at
law and yet Chinamasa would want the world to buy into some logic that such
an agreement would produce some other absurd outcomes presumably only
because he wants to justify the unlawful seizure of a private company.
If it is indeed true and factual that the Zimbabwe government was involved
in the acquisition of SMMH, then there would have been no need of passing a
new legal instrument to allow the appointment of an administrator by the
executive branch of government, rather than by the judiciary as prescribed
by the Companies Act that has general application.
It is significant that Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku at the opening of
the 2011 Legal Year on Monday made the following observation: “The doctrine
of the separation of powers and independence of the judiciary should be
respected. While the judiciary and the executive all occupy influential
positions in society, we are not one and the same and our decisions on
issues need not necessarily be the same.”
Why would the Chief Justice make such an observation if there was no problem
in Zimbabwe? However, when the problem emanates from the office of the
minister in charge of promoting justice and equity, then one must know there
is a much more fundamental problem at play in Zimbabwe.
Where else can a Minister of Justice be involved in undermining the rule of
law and respect of property rights?
The minister makes the case that I failed to raise the US$60 million
required as the consideration for the shares in a UK-based company and not a
Zimbabwean company where he has jurisdiction. If this was factually correct,
then the injured party would be the seller and any rational seller would not
need the assistance of Chinamasa to assert its rights.
Why would Chinamasa want to superimpose himself in a commercial transaction?
The only justifiable reason would be that he had no other window to poke his
nose in this transaction other than invoking state of emergency powers to
achieve what could not be achieved using existing laws.
How then would the government now end up owning 100% of a UK registered
company? Chinamasa made the case that through a nominee company, AMG Global
Nominees Pvt Ltd (AMG), the government of Zimbabwe had purchased the rights
held by T&N by way of security in a legitimate transaction, but forgot to
tell the committee that AMG lost the case resulting in the ownership
remaining the way it was in 1996 through the day I was legally disabled
using unorthodox measures.
Incidentally, AMG are the initials of Gwaradzimba standing for Afaras Mtausi
Gwaradzimba. The minister made no attempt to explain why it was prudent and
in the national interest to use a company controlled by Gwaradzimba as a
If the reason for placing SMM under reconstruction was that it was state
indebted and insolvent, then surely such a company would legally have its
liabilities exceeding the assets it owns and the residual value will have to
be negative and yet in this unusual case, Chinamasa does not see a problem
in justifying the payment of real value for something that was already
destroyed by me.
Some have warned me not to respond but this is a case that demands response
because ultimately, if we remain silent in the face of tyranny and abuse
then history will not judge us correctly. There are certain decisions,
choices and actions that are so reprehensible that they compel any rational
human being to be outraged.
It is evident that Chinamasa has made this a personal fight against me. He
is a state actor armed with state powers and I have been transformed into
his opponent without access to the same powers that he has by virtue of the
peoples’ power underpinning his authority.
To establish ownership, one needs not go any further than visiting the
Companies House website www.companieshouse.gov.uk to search for SMMH
details. You will easily establish that I am one of the directors of SMMH.
How then could I end up being a director of UK company purportedly
controlled by my self-declared worst enemy? It is a pity that the resources
available to the committee presumably did not permit them to access this
The records of the company will show that ARL through its wholly-owned
subsidiary, Africa Construction Ltd (ACL), is still the sole shareholder of
If this was the case in 1998, how then can Chinamasa purport to represent a
company that is capable of representing and asserting its own rights?
What is Chinamasa’s interest in SMM? Only history will be the judge, but
what is instructive is his persistence and his unwillingness to see logic
and pretend that we are all fools.
It is unfortunate that it is our silence that defines our generation. We
have many cowards who refuse to express their outrage, leaving it only to
victims to be the authors of their condition and circumstances.
This matter is pregnant with lessons of how not to build a nation. Imagine
Chinamasa, a senior member of Zanu PF, a party that has just completed its
annual conference under the theme of ‘Total Empowerment’, would appear
before the committee and boldly claim that Chinese investors are more
acceptable than a previously-disadvantaged person like me.
What I know is that Chinamasa, who is already behaving as if he was the
president, if he were to have his way, he would have no problem being the
persecutor, prosecutor, judge, and only God knows what else on matters
What is it that I am supposed to have done to make this man so angry and
irrational? The company in question was privately-held and the shareholders
at the point of transaction were fully entitled to refuse to proceed with it
and yet history will record that the transaction was indeed completed in
accordance with the wishes of both parties.
If the Zimbabwe government was involved in the transaction, then it would
need no assistance from Chinamasa — rather the Minister of Finance would be
competent to represent the interests of the state and yet in this unusual
case, the only person who appears to be empowered to deal with me is
Chinamasa and no other.
He made a very significant point that in his opinion, I remain guilty as
charged and in so doing castigating the Co-Ministers of Home Affairs for
making the decision to de-specify me.
If the Chief Justice needed any evidence of political meddling and
unacceptable behaviour of any member of the executive, he needs to go no
further than follow closely the SMM saga.
To imagine that this absurdity can occur after more than 30 years of
Independence is to question the justification of the liberation struggle. —
Thursday, 13 January 2011 18:09
By Dumisani Nkomo
THE major weakness of Zimbabwe’s main political parties continues to be
their failure to dictate the political pace, course and direction of the
They also suffer from a debilitating inability to put their differences
aside to face a common enemy and choose to waste time and energy trading
petty insults whilst the nation burns.
Tragically, elections in Zimbabwe and Africa in general are not about ideas,
policies and election of sound leaders, but are rather a mere contest of
power between belligerents with little or nothing valuable to offer to the
The MDC formation led by Morgan Tsvangirai stands the most realistic chance
of defeating Zanu PF and its leader President Robert Mugabe in elections.
The party and its president, however, have tragic flaws reminiscent of
Shakespearean tragedies principal of which is the fact that the party has
been accused of being ideologically bankrupt, an argument which has not been
The party does not appear to have a clear and consistent ideological agenda
and as such has tended to merely react to Zanu PF.
It has been accused of failing to clearly articulate its policies on land
reform and indigenisation, weaknesses which Zanu PF has revelled in.
Thankfully for them, Zimbabwean politics at the moment is not about ideas,
ideologies and policies, but rather personalities and issues of the stomach.
Besides moments of brilliance from the likes of Finance minister Tendai Biti
and a few others there is little indication that the party is a social
democratic party with definable and tangible ideological or philosophical
Some people have even gone to the extent of arguing that if Zanu PF and
Mugabe did not exist, the MDC-T would struggle to justify its existence and
relevance. The party is primarily a protest movement which thrives on the
unpopularity of Mugabe and Zanu PF rather than on well thought out policies
based on solid ideological or philosophical foundations.
Protest party status
The MDC-T seems to be struggling to transform itself from a protest movement
to a pro-active polity capable of governing the country. This is the same
problem we have had with Zanu PF, a party which has failed to transform
itself from a liberation war movement to a proper ruling party.
Consequently, even though Zanu PF left the bush 30 years ago, the bush has
not left them as they still believe they are in a war as evidenced by their
political discourse, diction, language and mannerism. The MDC-T should
metamorphose from just being a protest movement to a proper political party
with an agenda for governing the country and not revel in mistakes made by
Zanu PF as this is not sustainable in the long term.
MDC-T has been at the forefront of the democratisation agenda and its
members have demonstrated a lot of courage and resilience in the face of
state-sanctioned violence. However, courage and resilience are not enough in
politics and any vibrant political party needs to be strategically
The party’s failure to mobilise its members in the constitutional outreach
process is an example of how the MDC-T was outwitted and outmuscled by Zanu
PF. Whilst their leadership may pontificate that it was not their role to
mobilise people, but political reality dictates that every political party
worth its salt has a role in mobilising people around its beliefs, policy
direction and policies.
They were found wanting in this regard in the constitutional outreach
process which Zanu PF strategists used to gauge their strength. This
strategy deficit was also evident in the manner in which the party failed to
engage in effective regional lobbying at Sadc level, only succeeding at the
level of the European Union and the Americas.
Strategically this has led to the perception by some key African leaders
that the MDC-T is a Western project which has no clear understanding of the
dynamics of African politics and diplomacy. This has been accentuated by
disabled international structures with a weak foreign policy engagement
framework epitomised by collapsed or collapsing international party
Importantly, however, the MDC-T does not appear to have a coherent and
effective strategy at a regional and international level to lobby on
The party’s foreign advocacy /mobilisation strategy should not be premised
on the accidental brilliance of individuals in the diaspora, but should be
the product of a well defined and refined foreign policy matrix interwoven
into stratagem imperatives defined by think tanks on external affairs. Such
a policy would enshrine a framework for engaging and mobilising the diaspora
as an entry point for international advocacy and diplomacy.
Structural defects and inertia
The constitutional outreach process proved that the MDC-T has ineffective
grassroots structures and is dependent entirely on the unpopularity of Zanu
PF and the popularity of the “Morgan Tsvangirai brand”.
Factionalism and accusations of “kitchen cabinet” decision-making have not
helped the cause of the party which has the potential of comprehensively
winning the elections even with the prevalence of violence. Importantly,
elections held in five to 10 years time will no longer be about Mugabe or
Tsvangirai, but who can best govern the country. If the MDC- T values its
relevance to the future, it should start positioning itself for the
Lack of quality leadership
The quality of a lot of MDC-T councilors and MPs leaves a lot to be desired
and could result in the party losing several seats, especially in
There is an urgent need for the MDC-T to consider recruiting talented
personnel from various sectors of society if it is to be a respectable and
effective political movement capable not only of defeating Zanu PF, but more
importantly running the country and not running it down.
The party should be careful lest it be destroyed by the “we died for this
country syndrome” which alienates a lot of gifted individuals who could add
value to the democracy and transformation agenda.
Strengths of the MDC-T are:
* Their mass appeal to ordinary Zimbabweans who identify with its
* The party‘s position as the only movement at the moment capable of
defeating Zanu PF in an election as evidenced by the massive gains it made
even in traditional Zanu PF strongholds in the 2008 harmonised elections.
People may thus be moved to back a party with the necessary electoral
aptitude to change the political direction of the nation vis a vis an
* The charisma of Tsvangirai at grassroots level. Whilst Ncube, Dumiso
Dabengwa and Arthur Mutambara may possess admirable leadership skills they
lack charisma, especially that charisma which appeals to toiling masses and
not just middle class or upper middle class appeal. This (the working class,
informal sector and rural folk) is the strata of the populace which
determines the outcome of elections.
The outstanding brilliance of individuals such as Nelson Chamisa, Biti and
the commitment of its youth cadre ship.
* Its willingness and openness to advice from stakeholders outside the
corridors of power.
* Its understanding of grassroots issues and ability to resonate with
alienated voices. This singular factor makes the party the most popular
political party in Zimbabwe as the electorate is currently interested in
those who scratch where it itches.
The electorate is not interested in what it considers to be abstract upper
middle class pre-occupation with ideologies, but rather with political
parties that promise bread on their tables. Whether or not both the tables
and indeed the bread exists may be another issue altogether.
Again the merits or demerits of the propensities or preferences of the
electorate are not the subject of this article, but the plain facts on the
ground indicate the electorate’s affinity with “popular protest movements”
for the next few years anyway. The MDC-T’s propensity for theatrics can also
be viewed as strength in the rough terrains of African politics.
* Dumisani O Nkomo is the chief executive officer of Habakkuk Trust and
the principal spokesperson for the Matabeleland Civil Society Consortium. He
writes here in his personal capacity.
Thursday, 13 January 2011 18:28
THE MDC held its congress last weekend and as expected Welshman Ncube was
elected as the new party president.
While we congratulate Ncube, we feel that the changes are nothing short of
window dressing which was made to satisfy personal agendas.
The changes which were couched as democracy at work through the transfer of
the party leadership from Arthur Mutambara to Welshman Ncube were soon
exposed for what they were in a NewsDay interview given by Ncube.
“Principals are principals and they are the leaders of the party,” he said.
“That means that the principals that we have now are (President) Mugabe,
(PM) Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube,” he said.
The pronouncements by Ncube clearly demonstrate that the congress is being
used as an instrument to ensure his elevation to power and not in keeping
with the tenets of democracy as they would want us to believe.
Ncube must come out clearly that he wants to be the Deputy Prime Minister
and not pretend he really wants Mutambara to continue in the job. In one
instance he said that recalling was not part of the party’s culture and then
in another breath said they could shuffle the party positions at any time.
He should not take the nation for fools.
Instead of wasting time on doublespeak, he should be working on trying to
breathe life into a party which has performed well below par as a political
entity. Ncube must start to show that the MDC is more than just an extension
of Zanu PF or a poor imitation of the MDC-T.
Arthur Mutambara’s reign as party leader has by and large been a failure.
The miserable performance of the party under his tenure began in 2008 when
Mutambara, Ncube, Trudy Stevenson and then party member Job Sikhala were
trounced in the harmonised elections.
The party then expelled three of its legislators, Abedinico Bhebhe, Norman
Mpofu and Njabuliso Mguni. The party failed dismally to have its candidate
Paul Temba Nyati elected as Speaker of Parliament losing to the MDC-T
chairman Lovemore Moyo.
Under Mutambara the party has endured continuous and embarrassing
defections. This has been worsened by the comical antics of Mutambara
himself. Who can forget “So help me …God?” at the swearing-in?
We cannot but agree with former United States ambassador to Zimbabwe
Christopher Dell’s assessment of Mutambara in a classified cable released by
whistleblower WikiLeaks, in which he said: “Arthur Mutambara is young and
ambitious, attracted to radical, anti-Western rhetoric and smart as a whip.
But, in many respects he is a lightweight who has spent too much time
reading US campaign messaging manuals and too little thinking about the real
Mutambara was once quoted as saying that “there was method in his madness”
after being appointed Deputy Prime Minister. After his tenure as party
leader, we have only seen the madness.
Which is why Ncube should now focus on rejuvenating his party if they are to
become relevant to the country’s political landscape.
His failure to have the name of the party changed from MDC to the Congress
for the Movement of Democratic Change was hardly an encouraging start to his
This is aggravated by the threatened split within his party by a faction led
by the former national chairman Joubert Mudzumwe which could prove to
further weaken the wobbling outfit. The ability to handle the conflict and
resistance within his party will be the first real test for Ncube.
He comes in at a time when they must win the hearts and minds of voters
ahead of elections. It should be remembered that Ncube and Mutambara are in
their positions as a result of the Global Political Agreement and not on the
people’s mandate. Ncube lost to Thokozani Khupe in Makokoba and Mutambara
lost in Zengeza West.
Ncube has said that they hold the balance of power in the inclusive
government but if they do not turn the tide in the next elections, they will
join the political scrapheap.
Given the enormity of the task ahead of him, drinking tea with Mugabe on
Mondays should not be the reason why he becomes a principal.
Thursday, 13 January 2011 18:26
PROPOSED changes to the way the country conducts polls, especially around
the role of electoral courts, could be a turning point in the quest to make
Zimbabwe’s elections more credible.
The contest during elections is no longer just about votes but also about
what happens before and after the polls. In most cases this contestation has
spilled into the courts which unfortunately have failed dismally to handle
Opposition political parties, especially since 2000, have sought recourse
from the courts for what they call the “subversion of the electoral process
by the regime (Zanu PF) in a bid to frustrate the will of the people”.
The MDC, which has mounted a serious challenge to Zanu PF since the turn of
the century, has frequented the courts more than any other political party
as it felt hard done by, especially after the June 2000 parliamentary
elections where the party brought 39 electoral challenges, most of them
unresolved by the time of the next election in 2005.
Another electoral challenge was brought challenging President Robert Mugabe
in 2002 after the presidential election that year.
The MDC brought a further 15 electoral challenges in 2005. Some of these are
still to be dealt with.
These statistics are clearly informative on the ineffectiveness of the court
processes in dealing with electoral issues.
What the politicians who have challenged any electoral result have learnt is
that the court processes prior to the institution of the Electoral Court
have been long and wearisome with no useful outcome so far.
In some cases five years would elapse before a case was concluded, which
would render the ruling academic.
It is against such a problematic history that one has to look at the
proposed role of the Electoral Courts under the proposed reforms.
We should take a look at how Brazil has decentralised the issue to have
regional electoral courts responsible for the control and inspection of the
whole electoral process in their jurisdiction. These courts are empowered to
register each regional branch of the political parties and the production of
These regional courts are responsible for the registration of voters, for
the constitution of electoral districts and for reporting the results. They
are also supposed to settle disputes regarding the elections and judge
appeals regarding decisions of the electoral judges.
In Zimbabwe it has to be acknowledged that the institution of the Electoral
Court was largely a response to the surge in the number of challenges which
could not be included under the normal legal process. It thus would be an
injustice if the courts with a particular interest in elections do not pay
special attention to the time-sensitive nature of the cases they would deal
As such, the operations of the electoral courts should be time-bound so that
whoever challenges a result gets recourse to the shortest possible time.
This should apply to cases brought prior to voting and after.
Any challenger should make the case known within the shortest period with
the court sitting and giving a verdict in say less than three months.
This should give room for appeals, which should also be heard in less than
three months thus giving a maximum of six months for the hearing of any
These time frames are important if we, as a country, are serious about
elections. What sense would it make to have a disputed outcome settled after
more than five years?
A delay in settling a dispute not only robs the electorate of their rightful
representative but it also gives an incentive for further electoral fraud
and corruption which has come to punctuate the local politics of late.
We have learnt the hard way and the proposals would be very refreshing if
they pay attention to the basics, especially the time frames.
If properly implemented, these changes would be a step in reforming our
Thursday, 13 January 2011 18:25
THE recent shooting incident in the US which killed six people, including a
nine-year-old girl and left Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords fighting for
her life, has sparked a fiery debate about the dangers of heated political
rhetoric. While some have dismissed it as a sporadic incident which involved
a single person with mental problems, it has, however, brought to the fore
the consequences of hate speech.
The motives of the shooting were not immediately apparent, but have been
placed in the context of the edgy American political landscape. Republicans
via the “Tea Party” movement have become very militant and it was not
difficult for observers to lay the blame at the door of its de facto leader,
former vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
The US is classified as an advanced democracy, and its political system is
deemed as being far superior to that of most African countries. Zimbabwe
does not come close, we are told!
Yet it seems that politicians across this seemingly wide divide appear to
have in common fear for their safety and also have to endure an atmosphere
where hate speech prevails.
According to Newsweek magazine the state of Arizona alone has been rocked by
threats of violence against its politicians for nearly a year. Politicians
have been threatened with death, have had their offices vandalised and been
shot at; and one reportedly even had a US$1 million bounty placed on his
Together, the magazine adds, they produced an itching fear that long
preceded the alleged crimes of the shooter Jared Lee Loughner.
Even if Loughner is shown to suffer from mental illness, as he likely will,
he did not exist in a vacuum. He lived in a climate teeming with charged
rhetoric due to the economic challenges the US is facing. The Tea Party
movement has been criticised for stating in their demonstrations that they
would use “bullets if ballots don’t work”.
On a map on Palin’s political action committee’s website, Giffords’ district
was among a number that had been depicted with “cross hairs” –– a rifle
Giffords’ election opponent held a campaign event in which participants were
offered the opportunity to fire a fully loaded M-16 with him, as a symbol of
his assault on Giffords’ seat.
It becomes clear therefore that toxic rhetoric, whether in America or
Zimbabwe, can only serve to retard democratic processes and soil an
atmosphere where issues and not people are supposed to be on the agenda.
It is poignant to note that Giffords was shot whilst engaging in a “congress
on your corner” event where she was interacting with constituents. What
better illustration of how disruptive this incident was to the cause of
Politicians will be politicians, and a bit of sparring would ordinarily
constitute acceptable public discourse.
What would politics be without politicians “jabbing” each other from time to
time such as the recent exchanges between Welshman Ncube and Nelson Chamisa,
as reported by NewsDay. What should be clear however is that a line should
be drawn between politicking and outright hate speech that puts fellow
politicians as well as supporters in the line of fire.
President Robert Mugabe and senior Zanu PF officials have in the past
professed ignorance and denied culpability in the violent acts those who
support them have perpetrated, yet their rhetoric has crossed this line on
more than a few occasions.
Politicians and public officials who exploit public fears and advance their
careers through the use of vitriol should ratchet down the rhetoric and
discipline themselves, particularly with elections seemingly around the