|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
However, analysts have said the Bill is
set to cause more confusion on the
land in the form of fresh evictions and occupations.
Government last week gazetted a farm list signalling its
acquire blocks of the Hippo Valley Estates and Nuanetsi Ranch in
south-eastern Zimbabwe. The list shows at least 20 farms used for ranching,
eco-tourism and sugar production will be compulsorily acquired. Some of the
targeted properties are protected by legislation, which is set to be
repealed by the amendment.
Hippo Valley Estates is protected by
the Hippo Valley Act that was drawn up
in November 1964 between the Rhodesian government and Sir Raymond Stockil
representing the company. The government, through a Crown Charter, ceded 70
872 morgen of land to Hippo Valley to develop an irrigation scheme. A Dutch
morgen is about 0,85 hectares.
The government cannot under the current legal regime
land owned by the company. The repealing of the Hippo Valley Act will
empower the government to acquire the land including infrastructure and
equipment on the farms.
The government has also
started to acquire tea plantations in the Eastern
Highlands and sophisticated horticultural concerns which are currently
protected by legislation.
Don't legalise Made's failures, farmers appeal
FARMERS' organisations have appealed to the Parliamentary Portfolio
Committee on Lands and Agriculture not to endorse the failures of
Joseph Made by approving the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill.
The government has said the Bill will consolidate the gains of the land
reform programme. Farmers' representatives yesterday said it would not add
value to agriculture.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers
Union president Davison Mugabe attacked the
ongoing amendments of the Act saying it was delaying progress.
"We are spending more time on
amending Acts after Acts and movements of
people instead of focusing on production," Mugabe said.
In his presentation to the committee
yesterday, Commercial Farmers' Union
president Doug Taylor-Freeme said the amendments proposed had led to
inconsistencies in the application of the law over the past four years.
"Farmers have been forcibly evicted when
their farms were not even listed
under Section 5," Taylor-Freeme said.
"Others have obtained High Court judgements nullifying Section
8s and yet
they have been evicted. Others have met with none of government's criteria
for acquisition but were acquired nevertheless," he said.
"This is not the first time the minister has introduced
legislation to cover
his tracks, legalise his mistakes, or justify his actions," he said.
He warned that if the Bill was approved, it would
erode investor confidence
which the central bank is seeking to build.
The Bill before the Parliamentary Legal Committee for
consideration seeks to
remove bottlenecks in the acquisition process to assist the government's
process of grabbing land arbitrarily.
'Mugabe had pledged not to arrest journos'
THE arrest of Zimbabwe Independent editor Iden Wetherell and three of his
journalists over the Air Zimbabwe story flies in the face of assurances
President Mugabe is reported to have given to South African President Thabo
Mbeki to reform repressive laws.
Mugabe is understood to have made an undertaking to Mbeki during his visit
to Harare last month to have the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (Aippa) and the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) amended.
Mugabe further agreed that no further arrests would be made and charges
already brought under the repressive laws would be withdrawn.
Bheki Khumalo, Mbeki's spokesman,
yesterday confirmed Mugabe made the
undertaking to Mbeki.
that there was an undertaking when President Mbeki met President
Mugabe in Harare that there would be amendments to the two pieces of
legislation as well as that there wouldn't be any arrests in the meantime."
however declined to comment on the views of the South African
regarding the latest arrests of journalists in Harare.
"I can't comment on issues of arrest. This one you will have
to cross check
with the Foreign Affairs ministry. The President's office doesn't comment on
issues across our borders," he said.
Mpofu/Mandaza in war of words over land
A WAR of words has erupted between Matabeleland North governor Obert Mpofu
and publisher Ibbo Mandaza over large tracts of commercial farmland Mandaza
purchased last year.
In the latest exchange of words Mandaza has threatened to sue Mpofu if he
does not elaborate on the allegations he raised in the media this week.
"He should elaborate on everything that he said against me, otherwise we are
going to sue for damages," said an irate Mandaza.
The land in question comprises five farms in Bubi district
allegedly purchased from Charles Hammer-Nel. However, Hammer-Nel has
allegedly cancelled the agreement of sale and has instead opted to give up
the farms for resettlement.
War veterans and over 40 families
allocated land under the land reform
programme have also claimed ownership of the farms.
Mandaza locked horns with Mpofu last year after he accused
him of sending
war veterans to invade his property and further alleges that the governor
wants him off the land on tribal grounds.
Mpofu this week lashed out at Mandaza and accused him of using
newspapers, the Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror, to scandalise him.
Mpofu's outbursts follow two lead stories published by Mandaza's
week where it was alleged that Mpofu was being investigated by the
President's Office over the improper allocation of land in the Matabeleland
North safari area.
Mpofu said the land probe existed
only in Mandaza's mind.
"He (Mandaza) has been trying to compromise the system all along and we
resisted," said Mpofu.
"I warned all my
officers against his suspicious activities and the story
(in the Sunday Mirror) shows the kind of lunacy on an issue he knows very
well is unprocedural. All this shows what kind of a man he is. We will not
succumb to cheap greed which is affecting development in the province," said
Mandaza says he is investing about $2,5 billion in an
project on the five farms in Bubi district to be known as the Induba
Agricultural Development Project.
In an interview
this week, Mandaza said the governor was trying to cover up
the allegations raised against him in his two papers.
"He is trying to cover up by
raising non-pertinent issues but we are clear
in that the land is ours. We have been disturbed by people sent onto our
properties for political purposes," said Mandaza.
He said he would not be deterred by
regional-minded people and said he was
free to invest in any region be it in Bulawayo or Matabeleland North.
"Instead of skirting issues he (Mpofu) should respond to issues raised in
that news report otherwise what he is saying now is malicious," charged
Opposition sees terror ahead of Gutu North poll
ZANU PF has launched a terror campaign in Gutu North constituency where a
by-election is due on February 2/3, the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change has charged.
The seat fell vacant in September last year after the death of Vice
President Simon Muzenda. Retired Air Marshal Josiah Tungamirai, representing
Zanu PF, will battle it out with the MDC's Casper Musoni.
In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, Musoni said Zanu PF
had resorted to its dirty political games of victimising and torturing
opposition party sympathisers.
has started attacking our supporters and anyone suspected to have
links with the opposition," Musoni said.
"We are not able to hold campaign
rallies because all those who attend are
tracked down and picked up for torture. Zanu PF has established a command
centre at Gutu Rural Council which they have converted into a torture camp,"
has been restricted to home visits and distribution of flyers
but still the people we are visiting are victimised for merely having spoken
to an MDC candidate," Musoni explained.
Musoni said there was a lot of fear
among the electorate.
"The electorate is shying away from us for fear of victimisation," he said.
One of the torture victims kidnapped from Serima area last Saturday and
later dumped at Gutu-Mpandawana growth point - 35 km away from his home -
said he was lucky to be alive.
Mudzamiri, who was on Monday admitted at Gutu Mission Hospital, said
he was kidnapped at Matizha Shopping Centre by a gang of Zanu PF supporters
driving a white Nissan Hardbody truck.
"It was around 9 pm when a vehicle
full of people approached me. They easily
identified me because I was putting on an MDC T-shirt," Mudzamiri said.
"They hauled me onto the truck
and quickly drove away. I was being beaten
all over my body along the way. I was driven around the constituency before
being taken to Mpandawana where I was tortured until I fell unconscious. I
was later dumped along the Harare/Chiredzi road," Mudzamiri said.
Mudzamiri reported his ordeal
to Musoni who took him to hospital.
Zanu PF has since 2000 resorted to violence, torture and victimisation of
the electorate to cower the opposition.
Clergy lay groundwork for resumption of talks
THE troika of local church leaders met Movement for Democratic Change leader
Morgan Tsvangirai and Zanu PF's secretary for information Nathan Shamuyarira
on Wednesday to lay the groundwork for a resumption of talks, the Zimbabwe
Independent can reveal.
Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe head Bishop Trevor Manhanga yesterday
confirmed the clergymen met Tsvangirai and Shamuyarira separately in
"We met Dr
Shamuyarira and the MDC leader on Wednesday. We met them to
continue our initiative towards dialogue," said Manhanga.
"These were preparatory meetings but at this stage we can't give details. We
will be issuing a statement soon."
The other members of the troika are Bishop Sebastian
Bakare and Bishop
Sources privy to the meetings
said they succeeded in producing undertakings
from both sides and looked set to lay the platform for talks to begin. MDC
secretary-general Welshman Ncube yesterday confirmed Tsvangirai had met the
church leaders but said he was yet to be briefed about the discussions.
"The churches met Zanu PF and
Tsvangirai yesterday (Wednesday) but we are
yet to be briefed about the outcome of the meetings," said Ncube.
Ncube however denied media reports suggesting the opposition was engaged in
behind-the-scenes negotiations with Zanu PF to address the issues of
draconian laws, the militias and the ban on the Daily News before talks can
begin. He said the MDC was still of the position that talks should commence
position has not changed, and it is that Zanu PF should come to
negotiating table unconditionally. We have said that we don't want any
conditions because we would be bogged down by Zanu PF, which would play
around issues such as that of withdrawing our election petition," Ncube
"All issues of concern to both sides should be
discussed through the talks'
agenda. In other words, instead of setting any conditions, we prefer having
those issues as subjects on the talks' agenda," said Ncube.
Although Ncube wouldn't give the current position of the
talks saying the
Zanu PF delegation leader Patrick Chinamasa has been away on leave and would
be back next week, sources said there was general agreement by both parties
for talks to begin.
UN probe sought
PARTICIPANTS at the African Civil Society Consultation on Zimbabwe have
called on the United Nations to investigate mounting human rights abuses in
The group represents 30 African human rights and civil society organisations
from Zimbabwe, Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Malawi, Zambia and Kenya.
Following its meeting in Botswana in August, the group
last month issued a
statement condemning human rights abuses and the humanitarian crisis in
Zimbabwe and called for UN intervention.
"We also request once again that the UN High
Commissioner for Human Rights
and other UN human rights bodies take measures to investigate and publicly
denounce all human rights violations that are being committed in Zimbabwe,"
the group said.
It said Zimbabwean
civil society and human rights activists were under
constant attack by government.
"Lawyers, judges, trade union leaders, journalists,
churchmen and members of
non-governmental organisations have been threatened, arrested, beaten,
tortured and harassed throughout the year, and with no sign of respite,"
said the group.
It expressed concern about the
on-going violations of human rights in
Zimbabwe and the attitude of several governments in the region to the
crisis. The group called for concerted efforts at regional and international
levels to ensure an end to all human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe sinks into state of anarchy
By Michael Hartnack
EVEN rudimentary societies had some form of agreed currency, but in Zimbabwe
the anarchic regime of Robert Mugabe has succeeded in destroying even that.
The value of the currency has crashed by 100 000% since Independence in 1980
and now, following the collapse of commercial agriculture, a clutch of banks
are in crisis. Mugabe and the new Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono,
appears to have chosen this moment to try to pave the way for new
negotiations with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Their
chances appear non-existent without a return to the rule of law and other
A small find last week by police in Bulawayo reflected the country's entire
economic crisis: several thousand 500 dollar notes lying shredded on a
rubbish tip. Until recently $500 was the largest denomination. Now you need
two to buy the cheapest roll of sweets. A police spokesman described the
note shredding as "economic sabotage", and added with unconscious humour:
"It is shocking that any right-thinking citizen can have the nerve to
destroy the currency."
Information minister Jonathan Moyo was furious about the banking
crisis: his anger was not directed at the banks, however, but at the
correspondents who reported the established facts to British and South
African newspapers. "These are the hallucinations of a wishful thinker who
has gone crazy," declared Moyo. For more than 11 days the six banks were
excluded from the daily inter-bank clearance of cheques.
Lack of liquid cash left them
unable to pay the difference between cheques
in favour of their customers coming from other banks, and cheques passed by
their customers to remit money into accounts with other banks.Professor Tony
Hawkins, a leading consultant, said this crisis threatened to create a
gridlock of frozen funds and unpaid inter-bank debts, which could obstruct
circulation of money within the already troubled domestic economy. Stores
gave cashiers black lists of banks whose cheques were not acceptable.
Economist John Robertson said it was a crisis that had long been brewing as
inflation soared beyond 600% (on conservative official figures) while the
regime kept interest rates down to a fifth of that, to help it pay off local
debt of $600 billion. Mugabe has defaulted on external debts of US$3,5
billion, saying, "The IMF can go to hell."
But sources in Harare believe Governor Gono, until recently
prominent banker, has Mugabe's support in policies aimed at finding a
rapprochement with these bodies Mugabe so recently dismissed.
A sudden blitz on cross border traders who come to Zimbabwe to buy
relatively cheap goods and on black market foreign currency dealers led to a
temporary fall in the parallel rate to $4 500 for US$1. Police began
stopping travellers and seizing their foreign currency, quite illegally.
Private sector interest rates were temporarily allowed to shoot up.
Investment houses that had used borrowed money to buy property, consumer
goods, cars, and foreign currency suddenly found themselves unable to
service their debts or market these "hedge" assets. There was, as Hawkins
put it, a "flight to quality".
Overnight, one recently launched bank lost 30% of its
Bank, not one of the banks with liquidity problems, reported a 70% increase
in balances as nervous depositors rushed to its doors.
The IMF last year instituted moves for Zimbabwe's formal
expulsion in view
of the duration and magnitude of its default on debt servicing.
International donors withdrew budget support in 1999 when they discovered
Mugabe was secretly spending as-yet untold billions on a military adventure
in the Congo. Now Mugabe's plan - supported by South Africa's Thabo Mbeki -
is to get debt restructuring in place, as if the four-year nightmare of farm
seizures, the invasion of urban businesses, the collapse of commercial
agriculture, of tourism, mining and manufacturing were all a bad dream.
Robertson said the first thing the IMF would want was restoration of the
rule of law, property rights, a judiciary free of political interference by
the ruling party, and an end to terror by state-funded youth militia.
In other words, an end to anarchy.
regime issued a furious denial that agriculture minister
Joseph Made had been embroiled in attempts to seize once more a confiscated
commercial farm at Odzi, near Mutare, whose new black owner Made said was in
partnership with the white former owner, producing export crops.
"The government will
not be duped by Uncle Toms that make themselves willing
tools of former Rhodies who are hopelessly trying to hold on to the land,"
Made's office said in a statement. The farm is owned by a company, and Made
is trying to repossess it via the parastatal Agricultural and Rural
Development Authority. The black employees on the farm, fearful for their
well-paid jobs, are violently resisting the Arda newcomers.
Police on Friday spurned the
fourth consecutive court order to stop
obstructing the publication of Zimbabwe's only independent daily newspaper,
The Daily News, illegally kept off the streets since September 12. The
following day police detained Iden Wetherell, editor of the weekly Zimbabwe
Independent, and two of his staff, for reporting that Mugabe had
commandeered an Air Zimbabwe wide-bodied jet to go on holiday to South East
Asia. In this and much else, such apparatus of the state as survives is
being used by Mugabe and his ruling elite simply as an instrument for
suppressing any challenge.
Arda a proven failure
Augustine Mukaro/Blessing Zulu
PLANS by government to take over Kondozi farm through the Agricultural and
Rural Development Authority (Arda) are surprising given the parastatal’s
record of failure on its own estates.
Arda has run down over 20 estates plus donor and government-funded
development projects it has been implementing throughout the country since
Independence. It has acquired more farms under the land reform programme.
Agriculture minister and former Arda boss Joseph Made led the invasion of
the 224-hectare Kondozi farm in Odzi saying ownership of the farm had been
transferred to Arda. The farm has an annual turn over of US$15 million.
Analysts view the violent seizure of Kondozi farm, owned and run by Edwin
Moyo, proves correct the Ibgo adage that “If a leopard wants to eat its
young, it will first accuse them of smelling like goats.”
Moyo has been dismissed as an Uncle Tom fronting for Piet de Klerk, the
previous owner of the farm. Moyo maintains that the project is viable and
has generated employment.
“Under my guidance, financial and marketing expertise, the venture in Odzi
has grown massively to the extent that it now employs over 5 000 people in
various occupations including middle and upper management,” said Moyo. “My
principal focus remains the generation of foreign currency, the creation of
jobs, poverty alleviation, dispensing of health care and black empowerment,”
He added: “The Odzi project has an extensive out-grower base including A1
and A2 new farmers. The entire group employs in excess of 16 000 people,
making it possibly the single largest employer in Zimbabwe. I would estimate
that approximately 150 000 people depend on the group for an income,” he
The same fate has befallen MDC MP Roy Bennett’s farm in Chimanimani. The
government has ignored High Court rulings and magistrates’ orders compelling
it to evict settlers on Bennett’s Charleswood farm.
The decision to invade the two farms is driven more by political motives
than by economic need. President Robert Mugabe has made it abundantly clear
that Bennett and De Klerk don’t deserve to own land in Zimbabwe. While
addressing party supporters at Nyakomba Irrigation Scheme in Nyanga last
year, Mugabe accused the two of sabotage.
“These Bennetts and the De Klerks are not deserving cases in regards to
allocation of land because they are destabilising our society,” Mugabe was
quoted as saying on June 12 last year.
“They are for illegality; they are supporting a party in its programme of
pursuing an illegal course to power. All those who are working in this
illegal way, in this manner of destablising our society, do not deserve a
portion of our land at all. If they have it, if they have that land, that
land will be taken from them and be given to more loyal citizens, so I don’t
want to hear that there is a Bennett, that there is a de Klerk who continues
to destablise our well-being, they must go from here.”
In the case of Bennett, Export Processing Zone chief executive officer
Walter Chidhakwa told the Zimbabwe Independent that the government had
ignored their concerns.
“We wrote to the Ministry of Industry recommending that the farm be delisted
but we have not received any response since last year,” said Chidhakwa.
In stark contrast to the efficiently run Kondozi farm, Movement for
Democratic Change agriculture spokesman Renson Gasela says Arda’s debts run
into billion of dollars.
“Arda has been making huge losses over the years,” said Gasela.
“By the end of 2000 they had a debt of over $800 million from their farming
operations. They have survived on taxpayers’ funds. If it was an individual
entity it would have collapsed long back,” he said.
Since 2000, Arda is understood to have claimed more than 10 former
commercial farms throughout the country with the latest being Kondozi. In
all instances the parastatal has barred the evicted owners from removing
Gasela said Arda had run down many once vibrant estates dotted across the
“Poor management has seen Arda failing to run huge estates such as
Chisumbanje, Middle Sabi, Muzarabani, Sanyati, Kezi and Tjotsholo,” said
He said Arda, formed in the colonial era as the Tribal Trust Land
Development Corporation to spearhead development projects in rural areas,
only started to go down after Independence.
Highly placed sources in the parastatal said the financially troubled Arda
had drastically scaled down its involvement or abandoned totally rural
development projects started by its predecessor.
Arda was once involved in projects such as the Mashonaland East Fruit &
Vegetable Development Project, Manicaland Smallholder Coffee and Fruit
Project, Livestock Development Projects, the Land Use Projects Development
Programme for Communal Areas in Kariba District (Kanyati and Gastshe Gatshe
Land Use Project and Omay Land Use Project) and Irrigation Development
Projects of the Dande Smallholder Irrigation Development Project.
Sources said most these projects had all but collapsed during Made’s tenure
as the Arda boss. The situation was exacerbated by the pulling-out of donors
from all government-related projects at the inception of the land reform
programme in 2000.
The main objective of the horticultural project was to strengthen the
production and marketing capabilities of the producers in the communal areas
of Mashonaland East province. Financing was geared at extension, providing
transport, establishing marketing networks, and institutional strengthening
through training of farmers. Before 2000 the annual volume of produce
transported to major markets was over 10 000 tons. The project also embarked
on an export programme of mangetout peas and baby corn. The project was
funded by the European Union. The project is now a white elephant with Arda
failing to competitively pay workers and outgrowers resulting in an exodus.
In Manicaland, Arda had set up fruit and coffee projects to increase
household incomes through smallholder commercial production and the
marketing of coffee and fruit in the Honde Valley and Rusitu Valley
respectively. The project transformed a number of backyard orchards into
commercial orchards. By the time the project was handed over to the farmers
in 1996, more than 9 000 tons of fruit such as banana, citrus, pineapple,
avocado, and more than 300 tons of green coffee were being marketed. The
European Union funded the project. As of now all the gains have since
disappeared with Arda failing to market and transport the produce on behalf
of the farmers. The out-growers who have survived have since dumped Arda for
other horticultural firms to market their products.
In Matabeleland and Kariba, Arda, financed by EU and government had
introduced Livestock Development Projects Model D, and Land Use Projects
Development Programme for Communal Areas respectively.
Some ranches covering 10 000 hectares in Tuli and 57 000 hectares in
Dodieburn/Manyolo were developed with paddock, game fencing and water
facilities. The ranches were used for relief grazing of cattle from the
participating areas. Village paddocks and other infrastructure for livestock
were put up in the participating communal areas to enable rotational grazing
in the ranches and the villages. Improved breeds were also introduced and
farmers have been getting good prices for their cattle.
People from the surrounding community have since invaded the farms and
brought down the fencing and now Arda doesn’t have the money to repair them.
In Kariba the programme was preceded by the eradication of tsetse fly in
the area through the Regional Tsetse and Trypanosomiasis Control Programme
but that has since stopped.
Arda has virtually abandoned the Integrated Rural Development Programme
which was aimed at establishing viable production and support systems in the
below-average rainfall areas of Gutu and Zaka Districs in Masvingo Province.
The programme was funded by the German Agency for Technical Cooperation.
The major components were agricultural projects that converted land use,
agroforestry, crop development, and livestock development, including small
livestock, agro-services development that covered marketing, credit, group
savings, and input supply, and development of infrastructure that covered
rural sanitation and rural water supply.
One law for Mugabe, another for the press
“FREEDOM of expression constitutes one of the essential foundations of a
democratic society, one of the basic conditions for its progress and for the
development of every person. It is applicable not only to information or
ideas that are favourably received or regarded as inoffensive or as a matter
of indifference, but also to those that offend, shock or disturb the state
or any sector of population. Such are the demands of pluralism, tolerance
and broadmindedness without which there is no democratic society.”
This axiom, drawn from a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights on the
importance of free expression to social progress, is well understood in
those nations that seek the betterment of their people. It is resisted with
ferocity by those that wish to regulate and restrict their populations so
they offer no resistance and remain ignorant of their rights.
The arrest and detention of three Zimbabwe Independent journalists last
weekend on charges of criminal defamation reflects the insecurity of a
regime obsessed with silencing critics of its rule.
The charges stem from a story carried last Friday describing the use of an
Air Zimbabwe aircraft by President Mugabe during his holiday in the Far
East. It is common cause that the aircraft was used to ferry Mugabe and his
family around the region. But the state regards the use of words such as
“commandeer” as defamatory. It claims the aircraft was chartered in the
These are semantics we shall happily deal with in court. What is at issue
here is public accountability.
Mugabe must not hide behind offensive colonial laws such as criminal
defamation when he is accountable for the use of public funds. He is the
nation’s most senior public official and chief recipient of the substantial
amounts allocated every year by parliament for the upkeep of those in
government service. Whether he likes it or not, newspapers have a duty to
see if the public are getting value for money.
It is both the right and the duty of newspapers to subject office-holders to
public scrutiny. Air Zimbabwe is a publicly-owned airline. It has been badly
managed for years and is now reduced to four operational planes from a fleet
of 15 at Independence in 1980.
This is a shocking record and is the direct product of persistent political
Mugabe’s use of Air Zimbabwe aircraft, in whatever capacity, is therefore of
legitimate public interest to the taxpayers who fund him.
In attacking this newspaper for carrying the story, Information minister
Jonathan Moyo made a number of false statements regarding its ownership. The
Department of Information in the Office of the President, which Moyo
commands, is in the habit of making such statements that are clearly
libellous while fulminating against newspapers that criticise Mugabe.
Moyo described our report as “blasphemous and disrespectful” to the
Criminal defamation is a relic of empire, starting its career in English
common law, then assuming a Roman-Dutch personality as it travelled through
South Africa on its way north. It has been struck down by courts in
Commonwealth and former Commonwealth jurisdictions as incompatible with
democratic practice. Most recently it has been revoked by Ghana and Sri
However, given the attachment of the Zanu PF regime to colonial laws, we
should not be surprised that it continues to lurk in the government’s
armoury. It was chiefly used in the colonial era to punish nationalist
leaders and newspaper critics.
There can be little doubt that the recent wave of arrests is designed to
intimidate the staff of the Zimbabwe Independent and perhaps even close the
newspaper down. A letter from Tafataona Mahoso, chair of the Media and
Information Commission, a body which the courts have ruled is improperly
constituted, would suggest a more concerted attempt to interfere in the
editorial policy of independent newspapers on the specious grounds of
The MIC has done nothing to address the most pernicious racism that is now
current in the state media, nor the decline in professional standards in the
government press and at ZBC as those media become crude instruments of
individuals in the President’s Office.
The Zimbabwe Independent has a duty to the public it serves. The majority of
Zimbabweans reject Mugabe’s dictatorship. They understand perfectly well why
this country’s leaders are rich while the living standards of everybody else
plummet. There is a direct connection between the absence of accountability
at the top and national decline.
Furthermore, Mugabe does not hesitate to make the most offensive remarks
against other leaders who have criticised him. His remarks about Tony Blair
and John Howard are a matter of record. A government spokesman recently
called a black businessman farming at Odzi an “Uncle Tom” because he dared
resist the illegal expropriation of his business.
It is therefore gross hypocrisy for this regime to prosecute journalists for
“defaming” the president when the language they used did not begin to match
that used by Mugabe when dealing with his critics. And the claim by his
spokesman of a divine status that cannot be challenged is not only
preposterous, it is downright dangerous for democracy.
The Zimbabwe Independent has consistently emphasised the need for the rule
of law if Zimbabwe is to recover from its present crisis. But there cannot
be one law for the political class that misgoverns us and another for its
victims. That is an injustice that should be evident to all.
Further attacks on this newspaper can be expected over the next few weeks
and months as the regime becomes more conscious of its waning support ahead
of a general election. We are ready for that battle.
Eric Bloch Column
Pricing models will be another blunder
A LITTLE more than a fortnight ago, Industry and International Trade
minister Samuel Mumbengegwi announced that his ministry was far advanced in
its plans to introduce pricing models. Reacting to the dissatisfaction of
almost all Zimbabweans to the never-ending upward spiral of inflation, the
minister was at pains to demonstrate government’s intent to address
inflation and thereby reduce the hardships affecting most of the populace.
To that end, he said, pricing models would soon be introduced to determined
price reviews of diverse consumer products, although those models are to be
complemented by continuance of prevailing price control regulations. A few
days later, the Secretary for Industry and International Trade, Ronald
Madamombe, expanded upon the minister’s statement. Madamombe is reported as
saying that it is intended to resuscitate the previously operational price
control surveillance unit, it being charged with the responsibility to track
price variables and to recommend price increases, so as to ensure adherence
to the models.
Those models are to be applied to a range of basic consumer needs, including
cooking oil, flour, bread, mealie meal, milk, sugar, salt, beef and public
transport. Madamombe contended that the pricing models are easy to
implement, transparent and comprehensive, provided that the technological
processes are confirmed and the data used is verified. He explained that
“the methodology of the models focuses on establishing relative weights of
various cost components on total production costs. When costs move, the
selling price is adjusted in order to maintain originally established cost
proportions to total product costs.” He emphasised that “the use of the
pricing models will still be complemented by price control regulations”. And
thereby hangs the sting!
Clearly, the proposed pricing models will be nothing other than tools to be
used in fixing controlled prices and, therefore, merely a change of approach
in computing price levels (basically by way of the ministry’s surveillance
unit, reinforced by some private sector representation, tracking price
variables and “recommending” price increases). The exercise will be little
more than a façade to imply that the controlled prices are not imposed by
government, but determined transparently by a collaboration between public
and private sectors.
But price controls do not work and an introduction of a window-dressing mode
of fixing prices cannot, and will not, make them work. One of the greatest
contributors to the continuing decline of the Zimbabwean economy is
government’s total inability to learn from its mistakes, to learn from
previous experiences, and to recognise, and admit to, past failures. When
the unlawful, Rhodesian Front government applied price controls during the
period of UDI, they failed. When the present government applied price
controls in the late 1980s, they failed. And when that same government
reintroduced price controls in recent years, they also failed.
Price controls do not, in practice, stabilise prices and minimise inflation.
What they achieve is the creation of shortages, as manufacturers discontinue
or reduce production progressively as rising costs destroy operational
viability. The minister, his secretary, and the advocates of the proposed
pricing models will argue that those models will recognise cost increases,
and will thereby justify price revisions necessary to give producers,
manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers a fair return sufficient to
But, it doesn’t work that way. Production costs will vary considerably from
one manufacturer to another, dependent upon the extent of their respective
technological infrastructures, the ability or otherwise to achieve economies
of scale, their respective marketing, administrative and financing
structures, and other factors. Thus, the calculation of prices by
application of the model will work for those whose costs accord with the
average as results from the model, but for others the resultant can well be
that operating at such prices can only yield losses. Where that occurs,
there will inevitably be recourse to one of two alternative action
opportunities. The first option will be to discontinue production, which
generally will result in enterprise closures or down-sizing, with
consequential increased unemployment, reduced downstream contribution to the
economy, and reduced revenue flows to the fiscus.
The other option will be to divert supply of the products to the black
market. That may assist the producer’s survival, but it does not assist the
hard-hit, struggling consumer, for inflation thereby continues to impact
upon him. If, however, diversion of product to the black market does not
occur, and instead the producer discontinues or reduces production,
shortages will once again be the norm. The very extended queues outside
every bakery, which was a characteristic of the economy less than a year
ago, will return, as will the queues for almost all the other commodities to
which price controls will apply.
The defects of a model for price determination applicable to all must
include that the model will undoubtedly be oblivious to disparities in costs
between one operator and another. By way of example (and it is only one of
many that can be cited), rentals payable by an enterprise operating within
the central business district of a city or town will be markedly different
to those payable by a suburban-based enterprise, or by one in the rural
Similarly, the business which is reliant upon heavy borrowings for working
capital sustains a considerable funding cost which it must recover through
its selling prices, whilst a well-capitalised business does not incur that
cost, although it will rightly wish for a fair return on capital. And a
business which transacts high volumes of trade can, to all intents and
purposes, apportion its overheads across those high volumes, with the
proportion attributable to each unit of sales being small, whilst that which
is a small-scale operation has to seek a greater cost recovery per unit
The pricing element is demonstrated by the frequency that retailers
necessarily increase prices of goods already on their shelves. Consumers
become very irate when they observe the repricing of goods. They contend
that they are victims of exploitation and profiteering, arguing that as the
enterprise had already acquired the goods, their price was fixed and price
revision cannot be justified. But, whilst the acquisition cost is fixed, the
operation costs are not. If wages and salaries rise subsequent to the
original pricing of the goods, or telecommunication charges double, interest
rates soar upwards, and so forth, the entrepreneur has no alternative but to
raise prices, if he is to stay in business.
Government, and the advocates of price controls, need to know that the only
ways whereby prices can be stabilised or reduced are by the elimination of
shortages, and the stimulation of competition. If availability exceeds
demand, prices will fall as suppliers strive to dispose of their products.
To achieve such a fall, and yet retain viability, they look to greater
productivity and operational efficiency, and to increased sale volumes.
Of course, government should always be conscious of the needs of the
consumer. To that end it must strive to bring the rampant inflation under
control, and thereafter to reduce it to acceptable, low, single digit
levels. But it cannot do so by price regulation. It can do so by curbing its
own expenditure, by containing corruption, by achieving exchange rate
stability (through a restoration of relationships with the international
community, incentivisation of exports, and stimulation of foreign
investment), and by encouraging productivity growth and enhanced production
Regrettably, the government is wholly wed to the concept that total
regulation and decree are the only way of running a country, instead of
recognising that they are actually a way of ruining a country. Government
must heed the wailing of consumers, but not by once again doing so by
resorting to regulation, even if disguised by a fine-sounding, but
inevitably ineffectual, range of pricing models.
Bambazonke Moyo gets religion
EXACTLY who has been in charge in Zimbabwe during the president’s absence in
the Far East?
Ostensibly one would say Vice-President Joseph Msika. But apart from some
badmouthing of politicians in his own party, he has been rather quiet.
Instead we have seen a torrent of invective emanating from the wide and
permanently open mouth of Information minister Jonathan Moyo who is also, we
are told, acting Minister of Transport.
He has referred to reports in this newspaper of President Mugabe’s holiday
arrangements in the Far East as “blasphemous”. He has also, it would appear,
been ordering the arrest of journalists and determining which orders of the
courts the government would choose to obey.
So in addition to his portfolio as chief government abuse-hurler, he is also
Air Zimbabwe spokesman and appears to be standing in for the Minister of
Home Affairs, the Minister of Justice, Chief of Police and Attorney-General.
Oh, we almost forgot. He has also assumed ecclesiastical functions in
determining that criticism of his defective deity constitutes blasphemy!
It is a sign of his immense authority that none of the legitimate holders of
these august offices has dared say a word of criticism about their growing
irrelevance. Zimbabwe has a new de facto vice-president and they had better
get used to it.
But how strange that after all the spitting and spluttering from Moyo last
Saturday, there was hardly a word about it in the state media thereafter. A
report in the Sunday Mail of what Air Zimbabwe was saying appeared identical
to what had been carried in the Herald the day before. That quoted the
managing director as claiming that the reduction in the Air Zim fleet — from
18 planes at Independence to just three planes now (actually five but two
are non-operational) — was not a depletion. They had a full fleet, he
ZBC appeared confused. At first (Saturday) they said reporters Dumisani
Muleya and Itai Dzamara had been picked up. They later included editor Iden
Wetherell. By Sunday it was back to Muleya and Dzamara. Vincent Kahiya didn’
t feature. Where are they getting their information? And somebody should
tell the Herald’s reporter that magistrates do not charge people. They hear
charges laid by the police.
Perhaps the most informed report appeared in the Sunday Mirror which
supplied accurate information on the arrests together with useful background
detail borrowed from the German DPA agency.
By far the funniest statement to appear in the press last week came from the
Department of Information in the Office of the President. A spokesman took
umbrage with the Mail & Guardian for publishing a report about President
Mugabe acquiring a wine estate in Stellenbosch. He lashed out at the M&G
which he said “like all white-owned and apartheid-tainted South African
newspapers, may continue to make headlines against President Mugabe but they
will not take away the passionate and emotional admiration that the
president enjoys amongst the black masses of South Africa”.
And the evidence for this dubious claim? The “popular applause” that greeted
Mugabe’s address to the Sustainable Summit in Johannesburg in 2002.
Sadly, the spokesman has been the rather gullible victim of a practical
joke. The report in question was in an edition of the M&G called “Not the
M&G”. It contained a number of spoof reports which even readers with limited
intellectual grasp would have spotted immediately as a joke such as the
SANDF acquiring a three-deck, 600-ton “super jumbo”. But not the President’s
Office apparently which swallowed the whole thing hook, line and sinker.
Is there, by the way, a single newspaper reader in South Africa who would be
so foolish as to call the M&G “apartheid-tainted”? The President’s Office
can only get away with calumnies of that sort in the Herald. As for the
“popular applause” for Mugabe at the Sustainable Summit, it did not come
from “the black masses” but from a handful of largely Western NGO delegates
using the summit to pursue their war against the Bush administration.
But if that’s all Mugabe has got to hold onto for comfort let’s not disabuse
him. He must be allowed to take comfort wherever he can find it nowadays.
That includes the silly suggestion from the Herald’s Nathaniel Manheru that
there were not many readers of the Zimbabwe Independent. If that was the
case, why is Moyo hysterical about what we publish? In fact our circulation
has been steadily rising in recent months while that of the Herald has
declined to some 34 000. At the current rate we will soon be overtaking the
We all had a good laugh when we saw Stephen Ndlovu and Pikirayi Deketeke
were setting up an organisation called the Zimbabwe National Editors Forum
and committing themselves to freedom of expression and adherence to the AU
Charter of human and people’s rights.
This is a clumsy attempt by editors of hate-mongering and boot-licking
newspapers to take over an organisation that already exists. And in so doing
they will pretend, for the benefit of regional editors, that they are
committed to freedom of expression and other democratic values.
Perhaps we should call their outfit the Not the Zimbabwe National Editors
George Charamba was recently interviewed by the Daily Mirror about Zimbabwe
and the Commonwealth. The headline was “No retreat” as Charamba was given
ample space to say Zimbabwe would not be returning to the fold.
What he meant was, Zimbabwe under the present regime would not be rejoining.
He forgets that South African politicians said the same thing in the 1960s.
South Africa returned in 1994.
We will not have to wait 33 years. When Zimbabwe gets a democratic
government it will immediately rejoin an organisation that has benefited
this country enormously. What Charamba thinks about it really doesn’t matter
and the Mirror should be less indulgent in affording him the space to
advertise his irrelevant views.
It is hard to tell which planet the Sunday Mail’s political editor
Munyaradzi Huni is living on. He has delusions of an economic recovery which
he thinks will help the ruling party win next year’s parliamentary election.
Writing in the Sunday Mail on “Issues likely to dominate 2004”, Huni says
the opposition MDC won 57 mainly urban parliamentary seats on the basis of a
protest vote in 2000.
“In 2000, if the truth is to be told,” declares Huni, “the opposition party
could have won about the same number of seats in parliament that it won even
if it had not campaigned. There was a general resentment against the Zanu PF
government due to the hardships that the urban electorate was facing and the
disgruntled people opted for the MDC.”
That statement, coming from a shameless Zanu PF apologist, tells us all we
need to know about the state of decay in the ruling party. At last they are
beginning to accept that Zanu PF so stinks that the MDC could have won 57
seats without campaigning.
But Huni doesn’t say how far the hardships that fuelled the resentment
against Zanu PF have been assuaged. So far as Muckraker knows, most
Zimbabweans in both urban and communal areas still depend on food donated by
the much maligned Western imperialists. If anything, the much praised land
reform appears to have worsened these hardships and people are waiting for
the opportunity to make their sentiments known in any election. It looks
like 2005 won’t be any different. So long as the MDC remains an option for
those disgruntled with Zanu PF, there will be no room for complacency in the
ruling party despite the bluster by its apologists that it represents the
majority of voters.
Huni is right to point out that some MDC MPs have let down their electorate.
Unfortunately he doesn’t show us how that translates into a dividend for
“With the economy showing signs of recovery, the ruling party could give the
MDC a good run for its money next year.”
If there are any signs of recovery at all they cannot be credited to any
palpable policy decision by Zanu PF. Which explains the strange semantic
contradictions by Huni where an opposition party has to be given “a good run
for its money” by a ruling party. It’s normally the other way round!
Still on the subject of elections, Under the Surface was over the moon about
how US president George W Bush was jeered at when he visited Florida last
“When he went to Florida,” says Under the Surface, “he was met with placards
that screamed ‘Jail the thief’, ‘They stole our votes’, ‘Palm Beach County
We are surprised by Under the Surface’s interest in stolen elections when
they happen in far off climes. In an unnamed country in southern Africa such
interest would be criminal. If this were not so, the voters would not carry
just placards proclaiming how they were robbed of their vote in broad
daylight. They would erect billboards on every street corner. While Bush’s
campaign team might be worried by the placards calling Bush a thief,
Muckraker is happy that Bush seems to know that it is their democratic right
to wave them.
Rural Resources minister Joyce Mujuru has hit out at model A2 farmers for
grabbing more land than they could effectively use. She told newly-resettled
farmers in Mazowe last week that “greed has made many new farmers fail to
utilise their land”.
“People want big pieces of land when they know they will not be able to
purchase enough fertiliser and seeds,” complained Mujuru.
We are not surprised. The land grab was a free-for-all exercise meant to
shame the British, not to increase production. Those who applied for land
didn’t need to show that they had any skill to use the land productively.
All they needed were papers claiming they had certain sums of money, they
didn’t belong to the opposition and that they supported the so-called third
Chimurenga, whatever its agenda.
While it is easy for Mujuru to accuse the farmers of greed, what is not
acknowledged is that government itself fed the fallacy that mere possession
of land equated to prosperity, hence the misleading refrain in its
nauseating Sendekera jingle that “Our land is our prosperity”. Prosperity
requires more than mere possession.
Six banks kicked out of clearing house system
AS the new Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono
continues to crack his whip against defaulting banks, six commercial banks
have reportedly been suspended from the clearing house system.
According to prominent international credit rating agency Global
Credit Rating Company (pty) Ltd (GCR) the banks were allegedly suspended
after failing to meet their obligations with the RBZ.
GCR managing director Dave King said the concerned banks
Trust, Agribank, Time, Barbican, Century and Metropolitan Bank.
The RBZ had not responded to questions sent to it on the issue on
Tuesday but banks contacted said the issue was sensitive.
Late last year, GCR placed all its Zimbabwean bank
ratings on "rating
watch" as a result of an envisaged severe systemic liquidity crunch.
Following this, GCR immediately requested all rated banks to provide it with
up-to-date financial data, with specific emphasis on their very latest
liquidity positions, so as to better analyse the impacts which the liquidity
squeeze is having on individual participants within the banking industry.
According to King, analysis of the data clearly
indicates that there
has been a major "flight to quality" among depositors, with all five
commercial/merchant banks which GCR had previously accorded long-term local
currency domestic ratings of A (single A) and higher experiencing
significant deposit inflows. These include Standard Chartered, Barclays,
Kingdom, Merchant Bank of Central Africa, and CBZ ("Jewel Bank").
"Most of these banks are now actively discouraging
(either by openly turning-away or by quoting extremely low deposit rates),
due to a lack of suitable alternatives for them to place surplus funds,"
"These institutions typically currently reflect cash and liquid assets
to total deposit ratios of not less than 75%, indicative of strong liquidity
positions. All of these banks, bar MBCA, also currently reflect capital
bases which are well in excess of the new minimum capital requirement of $10
billion which will come into effect on September 30".
King notes that while MBCA's capital base is
currently much smaller
than other banks in this rating category, this is reflective of the nature
of their business and the soundly structured nature of its balance sheet is
evidenced by cash and liquid assets to total deposits ratio in the region of
At the other end of the scale,
King pointed out that as at January 9
there were a total of six banks that had been suspended from the clearing
house system due to failure to meet their obligations, namely Trust Bank,
Agribank, Time Bank, Barbican Bank, Century Bank and Metropolitan Bank.
King said of these banks, Trust represented by far the biggest threat
to the stability of the entire banking system, due to the fact that its
asset base had mushroomed to such a significant amount over 2003.
"To place this in context, Trust
Bank's total asset base was $85
billion as at December 31 2002, but by the end of December 2003 it is
reported that the group's total assets were in the region of $800 billion
(which would make it the largest balance sheet of all the Zimbabwean bank
groups)," King said.
"In this context, it is an extremely important development that on
January 9 the Reserve Bank issued a statement confirming that it was
satisfied with the serious manner in which the Trust Board was dealing with
the crisis and the measures that had been taken".
The statement reads in part: "The Reserve Bank fully
measures and assures the public that it stands ready to augment their
efforts by providing the necessary liquidity support in order to strengthen
confidence in the institution. The public are therefore advised to conduct
their banking business in a calm manner as the situation at the bank is
King said a further material
development was that over the weekend the
RBZ advised that it was setting up a "Troubled Banks Fund" in order to
ring-fence these banks, and to stop the contagion effect.
Conditions which will be applied to banks
accessing this fund include
the provision to the RBZ of a comprehensive short-term programme to correct
the liquidity challenge, as well as the plans to repay monies received from
the Troubled Bank's Fund. According to GCR, a key positive feature with
regards to the longer term future of the industry is the fact that Gono's
policy statement is clearly designed to address some of the "root causes" of
the problems affecting the financial sector as a whole. Some significant
steps have already been taken (particularly with regards to tightening up
regulation and monitoring of the sector, increasing capitalisation and
reserving and eliminating the opportunities for "speculative activities").
"While there is no doubt that it
will be an extremely challenging task
for the central bank to achieve its stated objectives (including reducing
inflation to below 200% by the end of this year and below 100% by the end of
2005), it is recognised that the new governor is a highly-experienced and
respected banker," King said.
Notwithstanding, the Monetary Policy Statement recognises
must be short-term pain to achieve results.
No show from govt at US expo
ONLY three private firms and no government representatives are attending the
prestigious Safari Club World Wide Hunting Expo being held in the United
Other nations in the region are, however, being represented by their
government officials and professional associations.
Officials at the Zimba-bwe Professional Hun-ters and
confirmed that the companies that had gone to the expo were only marketing
The hunting expo is a "must
participate" for tourism players interested in
big game hunting.
In Zimbabwe big game hunting has taken a major dip following
the issuing of
various travel warnings by mostly European Union countries and the US
government. The latter constituted the bulk of "big game hunters".
The three firms that have managed to "represent Zimbabwe"
are Senuko Lodge,
Shangaan Hunters Africa and Zimbabwe Wildlife Safaris.
Environment and Tou-rism minister Francis Nhema was not
comment this week to clarify why government could not send any
representatives to the expo.
Zim least free in Africa
AN influential international survey has rated Zimbabwe as the least
free and most restricted economy in sub-Saharan Africa.
The Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal conduct the survey
The shocking revelation comes as
President Robert Mugabe and
government officials continue to blame Western nations, especially Britain,
New Zealand, Australia and the United States of demonising Zimbabwe because
of its fastrack land resettlement programme.
Neighbouring South Africa, on the other hand, has
been named in the
survey as "the third most liberal economy in sub-Saharan Africa and one of
the most unrestricted economies in the world".
Overall, however, the study shows that economic freedom
improve in other sub-Saharan African countries.
Elsewhere, it says Hong Kong, with its few regulations and low taxes,
still has the world's freest economy.
The study measures how well 155
countries worldwide score on a list of
10 broad factors of economic freedom.
The factors are trade policy, fiscal burden of
intervention in the economy, monetary policy, capital flows and foreign
investment, banking and finance, wages and prices, property rights,
regulation, and informal market activity.
are desirable in this survey - the higher the score on a
factor, the greater the level of government interference in the economy, and
hence the less economic freedom a country enjoys.
Zimbabwe, which at 4,54
ranks at 153 in the world because of the 80%
unemployment rate and an inflation rate above 200%, continues to be the
least free country in sub-Saharan Africa.
The study says the region needs trade
It says although the trade policy factor improved in five countries,
10 others closed their markets further last year.
South Africa has been ranked 53rd out of 155
South Africa's score going into 2004 was 2,79, up from 2,58 last year.
That is why the country ranks third in the region, behind Botswana and
Uganda, which reported 2,55 and 2,70 respectively.
Botswana (39th in the world) remains the least
restricted economy in
the region, in spite of reporting worse performance in trade policy and
fiscal burden of government.
It is followed
by Uganda (48th in the world), which has privatised 74
businesses in the past decade and is targeting 85 more.
Five countries - Rwanda,
Ethiopia, Cape Verde, Senegal and
Mauritania - are among the 10 most improved nations globally. By contrast
Namibia, Madagascar, Lesotho and Gabon reported showings that placed them in
the category of the 10 countries whose scores worsened by the widest margins
globally in terms of the survey.
Outside the Asia-Pacific, Venezuela, Iran, Zimbabwe and
Libya were the
"most repressed economies," the report said.
Forex auction fails to tame parallel market
THE new foreign currency auction that opened on Monday has failed to bring
an abrupt halt to the parallel market that continues to flourish.
A visit to Harare's foreign currency trading spots revealed that the black
marketers were still trading as usual. At Harare's Road Port station it was
business as usual with traders selling foreign currency at heavily slashed
On Wednesday the United States dollar was
trading at US$1: $3 800 compared
to a high of US$1:$7 000 in November last year. The rand slipped to R1:$400.
The greenback sold at $4 196 at the foreign currency auction, which opened
on Monday. Traders said they were watching the auction market rate with
interest. They said they would use the auction rate to determine their own
parallel market rate.
not going to use the so-called auctions, it's for the banks I
presume," said one foreign currency trader.
"For us business continues. If I get a
rate of US$1:$3 800 that is fine with
me. We would rather get a lower rate on the streets than go to the auctions.
What if (police) they arrest us," said one of the traders.
The parallel market continues to flourish
courtesy of crossborder traders
and occasional visitors who are still sceptical about the auction system,
which entered its second day yesterday.
RBZ governor Gideon Gono confessed ignorance at the
"Where are they trading?" he
asked. "For a start that is illegal and we will
take appropriate action. The law will take its course. Just tell us where
they are trading and we will move in."
According to a Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe statement, the
first day of auction
raised US$20,6 million from exporters.
Road Port foreign currency buyers could be seen milling around the
waiting for traders arriving from regional countries.
Hear the Word abetting Zim crisis
MY heart bled when I read the story headlined "Church raises $30m for
Mugabe" (Zimbabwe Independent, January 9).
I have always wondered why the crisis in Zimbabwe is taking so long to
resolve. When I still attended a Pentecostal church in Bulawayo, my pastor
then, in 1996 predicted that by the end of 1998, Mugabe would be out of
power. It is now eight years since that prophecy and Mugabe still sits on
that throne with even stronger glue pasting him onto it.
But the antics of Pastor Tom Deuschle of
Hear the Word Ministries has given
me the answer to why this crisis will persist for a long time yet. The
church is clearly in confusion and is divided. How else do you explain the
difference between the principled and firm condemnation of human rights
abuses perpetrated by the Mugabe regime by the vocal Catholic Archbishop of
Bulawayo Pius Ncube and the rewarding of Mugabe for these same deeds by
Pastor Deuschle on the other hand? I had great respect for the Pentecostal
movement and its umbrella body, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe
(EFZ). But after Pastor Deuschle's exploits, all that respect is gone now.
There is no scripture in the Bible that says we
should honour our leaders
let alone by way of money. The Bible only encourages us to "pray for our
leaders and all those in authority". Honour is bestowed upon those deserving
it and not just anybody. To say that you are honouring the "Office of the
President" is also stupid. What Pastor Deuschle is trying to do is to
justify his love for Mugabe and his policies. In fact, you, Pastor Deuschle,
do not even deserve the title of Pastor. Mr Deuschle will suffice. A pastor
takes care of the flock and does not set a trap for them by colluding with
Were there no worthy causes to
collect an offering for? Is the current food
crisis threatening to kill millions of starving Zimbabweans not enough to
move you? How about the families that are struggling to afford basic health
care for their HIV/Aids-afflicted relatives? Or the children that have to go
bed on empty stomachs because their parents find it next to impossible to
eke out a living in this hyperinflationary economic environment? How about
the thousands of victims of Zanu PF brutality for supporting opposition
Could that money not have been raised to assist the Ndebele
people who lost
more than 20 000 of their kith and kin to the Mugabe-sanctioned, North
Korean trained Fifth Brigade in the 1980s. Are you aware Mr Deuschle, that
the skeletons of Mugabe's "Gukurahundi" adventure still lie in disused mines
and shallow graves even up to today? And yet you choose to "bless" Mugabe
with $30m when none of the victims has received a single cent as
compensation for his deeds! Were you trying to seek some cheap publicity or
Even Satan would be surprised at your
feat. Mr Deuschle, you have certainly
outdone the Devil. The recent political violence that has claimed the lives
of two opposition supporters at the hands of Zanu PF hoodlums is a result of
you, Tom Deuschle. Your money has gone towards the payment of those youths
who have inflicted untold suffering on innocent people. Their blood is on
your hands just as it is on those Zanu PF officials responsible for the
training of the "Green Bombers" in the art of killing.
I applaud all of those members of Hear the Word Ministries that refused to
contribute to this crazy, satanic and sadistic offering. All that is left
for them is to leave that church and find a truly God-fearing one. Mr
Deuschle, you have sold out Henry Olonga, a faithful member of your church
who stood up to be counted as he "mournrd the death of democracy" in
Zimbabwe and had to flee into exile when Mugabe's CIO hounded him.
You, Mr Deuschle, will go down in history as a lily-livered Zanu
apologist in the same class as one Reverend Obadiah Msindo and rivalled
closely by Judas Iscariot who betrayed Jesus Christ for 30 pieces of silver.
You, Mr Deuschle, have betrayed the people of Zimbabwe by giving the man
responsible for our suffering, Mugabe, $30m. May God have mercy on you.
Deuschle joins 'league' and will be judged
FROM its inception as Rhema Church, I have had a very high regard for Hear
the Word Ministries and its pastors, Tom and Bonnie Deuschle.
Even when there was an allegation of infidelity within the leadership I
found it difficult to believe. As a born-again Christian I have all along
subscribed to their commitment to the work of God and especially their
outreach to the young successful indigenous businessmen of Harare. All of
this has been crushed by their $30 million donation to President Robert
Pastor Deuschle tries to justify this gift through
scripture but I wonder if
he can quote chapter and verse (without his interpretation of course) that
says we as Christians should donate gifts to the powers-that-be.
The Bible, in Romans 13:1-8 and Hebrews 13:17,
talks about Christians being
subject to authorities and to pay their taxes as we all do but certainly not
to prop up odious regimes.
are exhorted to stand up for the oppressed and the church should
have a prophetic voice that speaks up against all its forms. One would
expect a pastor of Tom Deuschle's stature to speak out against the evil that
is perpetrated by the Mugabe regime. There have been countless accounts of
murder, torture, rape, corruption, theft not to mention the Matabeleland
genocide that Mugabe has not repented of.
In my view,
Deuschle's action puts him in the same category as "Rev"
Musindo, "Bishop" Kunonga, "Apostle" Wutaunashe and Madzibaba Nzira - open
supporters of the oppressive regime and they will be judged for it.
I pray and hope that Hear the Word will see the folly of this action and
Shocked by church's insensitivity
I AM astonished as a Christian, a citizen of Zimbabwe and as an observer of
the political scene in Zimbabwe that Hear the Word can be so insensitive, so
ignorant of the political and social environment within which their actions
in sending President Mugabe a "gift" of $30 million at Christmas are
I can think of few other actions that have been taken by the Church in
recent days that are more shameful and disgraceful. There is no evidence
that Mugabe is a Christian in any shape or form. His actions as a political
leader have found condemnation across the world.
been active in the MDC for four years - my family and I have had
death threats, been to jail, been accused of all sorts of things, been in
court dozens of times on all sorts of charges brought by the State. I have
had friends murdered, raped and their homes burned. I worked for Mugabe for
eight years in the 80's. I know personally that he ordered the campaign in
Matabeleland where at least 20 000 people died. That is more people that
were killed in the eight years of civil war in the 70's.
have two million internally-displaced refugees inside Zimbabwe, at
three million external economic refugees in other countries, six million
people subsisting on 12 ounces of food a day right now and 3000 people a
week dying of Aids-related causes - many because of the chaos caused by
And you give him a "gift" for Christmas? God forgive
you, because I
Dear Dr Mahoso
I AM in receipt of your letter of January 6 [next item]. I note that in
addition to the extra-legal powers you have arrogated to yourself you appear
to think you have the authority to deport editors whose views you disagree
While the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act is admittedly
a sweeping and poorly crafted document, I am sure our legislators did not
intend your remit to extend that far. In fact a court last year found that
your commission was improperly constituted and that you were yourself biased
in carrying out your work, a ruling that has clear implications for the
precise extent of your authority. The MIC's appeal currently before the
Supreme Court in no way invalidates that judgement. However, in the
interests of transparency and to address the blatant distortions you have
cynically introduced into your reading of our contributor's letter, I shall
respond to the points raised.
Firstly we do not live in Zambia which has its own laws and
procedures. I note the editor of The Post Fred M'membe has endorsed the
satirical piece by Roy Clarke which his newspaper carried. And now a Zambian
court has confirmed Clarke's right of residence in Zambia, an intervention
you appear to have failed to anticipate.
From what I
can see, Clarke expressed no "hatred and contempt", as you
falsely claim. He merely subjected Zambia's leaders to the sort of satirical
comment that is fundamental to a healthy democracy anywhere. While you as a
presidential apologist may indeed find this "unconscionable", it is standard
practice in any society that holds its politicians accountable.
British, US and
South African newspapers have no hesitation in subjecting
their leaders to robust mockery and nobody claims this is racist or
inadmissible on grounds of rank. George Orwell would never have been able to
write Animal Farm if your strictures had been applied.
The letter you cite is one of many that
we and other newspapers have
published expressing the view that Zimbabweans are a "docile lot" in
allowing such a vicious tyranny to emerge in their midst. While most of this
criticism is specific to Zimbabwe, it also extends to other African states
and is part and parcel of the current public discourse about why Africans
allow their rulers to misgovern and impoverish them.
Our contributor compared us to a herd of wildebeest that stands
watches tearfully as one of its members is picked off and eaten by a lion.
"Do you call that tolerance or stupidity?" he asks. It was stupid, he felt.
The writer, who signed himself Tonderayi Mudonhi, was replying to an opinion
piece by Ruzvidzo Mupfudza who had spoken about the innate tolerance of
You proceed from that point to fatuously
claim that the writer "dismisses
the Zimbabwean nation and the continent of Africa, except for non-Africans,
as an unthinking herd of wild animals".
In fact the writer made no distinction, as you do, between
non-Africans on the continent, and specifically praised what he calls his
"local brother Pius Wakatama" and Chinua Achebe.
refer at length to the South African Human Rights Commission's report
into racism in the media and conclude that our letter repeats assertions
made in the report.
Whatever the views of the Human Rights Commission, it is
clear you have
extrapolated its conclusions to fit your indictment of the letter. You
appear unaware of the criticisms made of the commission's conclusions, in
particular the scepticism surrounding some of the evidence produced by a
You object to our cartoon of November 14
portraying the people of Zimbabwe
as mushrooms - ie raised in the dark and fed on manure. You cite two other
letters from our readers as equally objectionable. Most of our readers would
regard the mushroom analogy as fair comment!
It is significant that apart from your self-serving
objections, we have not
had a single letter from any of our readers complaining about the letter to
which you take such exception.
lecture us on the importance of having "a strong sense of context
"A good newspaper's coverage of its own community is
thorough, sensitive and
respectful," you point out.
agree more. The community in which we work here in Harare has
rejected President Robert Mugabe's pretensions in successive electoral
contests since 2000. We respect their verdict and the verdicts of
Zimbabweans in other centres across the country.
We have a strong sense of context and
history. The context is clearly that
of freedom of the press. No democracy can function adequately without an
informed electorate - one that has access to a variety of views. The history
is that of a revolution betrayed by greed, corruption and repression.
Liberation movements that abuse power in
order to retain it are the true
enemies of the people, not newspapers that expose their double standards and
hypocrisy. Those who apologise for them and presume to police the media can
have no claim to be acting in the interests of journalism. True journalism
is about public scrutiny and accountability.
The letters column of any newspaper worth its salt is
an area of controversy
and contention. We don't have to like the views expressed. Some will be
offensive to us. But to censor opinions in the way you suggest is even more
I note that you have done
nothing to address the absence of professional
standards in the state-owned media: the intrusion of political views in news
stories, unattributed remarks, downright falsehoods, and the hate-mongering
that has become its stock in trade.
I also note that your letter to me, received on
January 8, was published in
the Herald on Tuesday. Perhaps you could explain why a letter to the editor
of the Zimbabwe Independent was published in a newspaper that is not a party
to the complaint. I also note that you have added a paragraph in the version
you sent to the Herald that does not appear in the original. This hardly
constitutes professional behaviour or journalistic ethics!
The Zimbabwe Independent rejects your
pretensions as an editor. Your own
work would indicate this is obviously not an area in which you have any
particular expertise. But we have no objection to you writing again if you
have any particular concerns. We do not reject letters for publication on
the grounds that the writer expresses views that other readers may consider
offensive, muddled, partisan or just plain foolish.
Mudonhi's letter offensive
Dear Editor, LONG before the Zambian government announced its deportation of
white racist writer Roy Clarke for calling the Zambian President a foolish
elephant and for describing two ministers as baboons, the Media and
Information Commission was already considering a response to the letter to
the editor which appeared in the Zimbabwe Independent on 2 January 2004 and
which was purportedly signed by Tonderayi Mudonhi.
The supposed letter to the editor of the Zimbabwe Independent is much more
offensive than the hatred and contempt for which Roy Clarke has been
expelled from Zambia. This is because in the Zambian case the white racist
restricted and directed his bigotry to three specific leaders - the
President of Zambia and two of his ministers. That is still unconscionable,
but the racism there expressed is not as absolute and sweeping as that which
you allowed to be published in the Zimbabwe Independent of 2 January 2004.
Your writer dismisses the Zimbabwean nation and the continent of Africa
(except for non-Africans) as an unthinking herd of wild animals.
The letter you published on 2 January 2004 is
typical of the worst
expressions of racism from the former slave territories of the United
States, from Apartheid South Africa and from the days of UDI in Rhodesia.
The fact that this is supposed to be only an individual's
individual opinion does not in anyway exonerate the editor or the publisher.
You have an editorial policy and an editor precisely to keep the gate
between freedom of opinion/expression and freedom to publish. You cannot
tell us that your paper is there to publish any and all opinions and
expressions that reach your door or your mail box. Indeed, in the days of
slavery, apartheid and UDI, the white racist was always able to find enough
Africans to justify these systems, but that did not stop the world from
condemning and even destroying those systems.
If you look at
the Interim Report of the Inquiry into Racism in the Media by
the South African Human Rights Commission and go to the section called "The
News in Black and White", you will find a typology of white racist thinking
outlined there, with 10 sub-categories. The Commission finds the following
paragraphs from your published letter to fit those categories.
We quote: "My analysis is that Zimbabweans are a stupid lot. I will for this
purpose compare them to a herd of wild beasts.
"I am sure you have seen wild
life films where one wild beast is induced by
a small pride of lions to leave the security of its herd, killed and eaten
whilst the rest of the herd, often numbering over 50, stands by and watch
(sic). Mupfudza made excuses (for Africans) based on culture and values. My
foot! I beg to differ. You cannot have values that have real value if you
cannot think in the first place. The fundamental truth, hurtful as it does
(sic), is that Africans are very hard of productive thinking (sic). They can
neither fathom nor remain focused.
"This very limited thinking capacity is not only confined to
cuts across the entire continent. It is a natural phenomenon."
It is clear from this excerpt that by "Zimbabweans" your
Africans. If you take "Africans" and "Zimbabweans" in the letter to refer to
the same people as "Blacks" in the South African Human Rights Commission's
report, you will notice that the letter in your paper repeats the same
assertions listed in that South African report, including the following:
1. All Africans are congenitally stupid. Whites are
superior to Africans
-hites are by nature more talented and more intelligent than Africans
2. Africans are congenitally irrational and
always driven by instinct
-Africans need the guidance of non-Africans to help them think
-The purpose of white colonialism and imperialism is to save Africans from
their unthinking ways and direct them toward a more rational life.
3. African Society and the African nation remain
naturally primitive and
-Africans are driven by instinct rather than thoughtful analysis and
-Africans are naturally and universally lazy
-Whites are rich and well-off because they are civilised, intelligent and
-Whites deserve all the advantages and material gains from Jim Crow,
apartheid and UDI
-Africans need white power and racist control in order to advance
-Africa does not and cannot contribute to world civilisation and
4. African lives are worthless
-White lives are precious and deserve protection unlike the herds of African
-Africans are used to being massacred, injured and tormented by aggressive
and clever minorities
-Africans lack courage, commitment or patriotism
-Africans do not (should not) fight to defend African lives.
These claims are also reflected in other items which have
appeared in your
paper; for example:
-A cartoon portraying the people of Zimbabwe as "mushrooms" on 14 November
-A letter to the editor by Postnubila Phoebus on 4 April 2003
-Another letter to the editor by Nikoli Sanyika on 23 May 2003
While there is no single definition of
a good newspaper, it might help to
make clear the Commission's intentions and role if we cite one example, from
a North American called Frank McCullock, who wrote in his contribution to
the Nieman Reports a few years ago that:
"A good newspaper is fair. It is accurate. It is responsive to
and its society... It has a strong sense of context and history. A good
newspaper's coverage of its own community is thorough, sensitive and
In conclusion, the Media and Information
Commission is at a loss to find any
honourable value to redeem such a "letter" as the one you printed on 2
January 2004 and justify its publication ahead of so many other possible
items which could occupy the same space. We await your reply.
Executive chairman, MIC.
Corruption tremors shake Zanu PF citadel
By Chido Makunike
THE end of year holiday season is usually a quiet time as far as significant
political developments go. This season was different. There were many
fascinating goings on which gave significant but unintended insights into
what is really going on in the murky world of ruling party politics below
the surface. Things are not at all as calm as they may seem.
The December Zanu PF conference was mostly dull and predictable, as one
would expect from a meeting of a party wherein all the members toe the line
decreed by the ruler. There was some half-hearted talk about bringing up
"the succession issue" but the misguided elements involved in this kind of
subversion were easily thwarted. Look out for the purging of their ranks in
the next few weeks and months. A little bit of excitement was introduced
when a document was circulated accusing Vice-President Joseph Msika of being
friendly with whites, allegedly even going to the shocking extent of shaking
hands and drinking whisky with them!
implication was that if he could engage in such subversive, dastardly
deeds, he might just sell out the great anti-white revolution and needed to
have his wings clipped. Msika bitterly attacked what he called "these
mafikizolos", leaving a lot of people wondering who these Johnnies come
lately could be. Last week Msika as acting president in Mugabe's absence,
and apparently still in the sour mood of the December conference, strongly
attacked party officials who threatened police officers going about the job
of pursuing big time corruption among the ruling elite. Again many wondered
who Msika was referring to. I also couldn't help wondering about a police
force that only makes a big show of going after highly placed corruption
after being given the political go ahead, rather than doing it as a matter
But then again this is not a country fairly ruled by law,
this is Zimbabwe!
In any case, the day after Msika's most recent tirade the unthinkable
happened. Philip Chiyangwa, a relative newcomer to the top echelons of the
ruling party, MP, provincial chairman, master dealer in virtually anything,
and man about town, was put in jail for threatening a police officer in
court while testifying about his links to collapsed financial firm ENG
Capital Asset management. He had been regarded by many as so close and
endeared to the seat of power that he was untouchable. Was he one of the
mafikizolos that so enraged Msika in December, moving him to threaten
ominously in January: "I will show you that I have more political muscle
Enquiring minds want to know. And some people thought the party would break
into open factional fighting only after Mugabe was no longer on the scene!
Being corrupt in itself will not
necessarily get you in trouble as a high
ranking ruling party or government official. There are many examples of
people who have been caught in all sorts of crooked deals over the years to
whom nothing happened. Particularly if you are a loyal party cadre who
respects his elders, you can almost get away with murder. But when one goes
beyond being just ordinarily crooked to also noisily trying to impeach one's
political seniors, then you are playing with fire. Comrades in the corrupt
revolution, let us do our crooked deals quietly, there is no need to be so
boastful, pompous and flamboyant about them. You force a reluctant party to
make a scapegoat out of you to appease the public, leaving unscathed many
possibly even more crooked but more humble, quieter colleagues of yours.
Part of the deal involved a
young mafikizilo being allowed all sorts of
crooked means of acquiring a business empire and jumping over many more
senior party officials to assume a top post is that you must gratefully play
the game by the laid down rules, crooked as they may be. The same party that
made you what you are because you served its interests at one time can just
as easily unmake you when you become too big for your colourful boots! When
you are in favour concessionary bank loans are flung your way, elections are
fixed for you, you can have as many wives, farms and luxury cars as your
you miscalculate and fall out of favour, these same perks that you
were granted and that made you so feared and "popular" will be used to
arrange your downfall. And none of the many so-called friends you thought
you had will speak up for you or come to your aid because the word would
have gone out from on high that you are expendable and have been cut loose
from the paradise of patronage. It's nothing personal you understand, it's
merely the jungle law by which politics in Zimbabwe operates. It has claimed
many before you when it was necessary to try to trick the public that
corruption was being checked, and it will claim many more mafikizolos and
others who currently think the good times will last forever.
thing about the so-called corruption clean up is that those
well connected who are about to be ceremoniously sacrificed are given plenty
of warning so that they have enough time to salt away their loot. It's not
the party's fault if some dimwitted latecomers fail to take advantage of the
grace period to pretend to clean up their act.
Does anyone know who is more
senior, new Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono
or Finance minister Herbert Murerwa? It is not at all clear to me, although
the central bank ostensibly remains a department of the ministry. Watch out
for turf fireworks!
Gono may have upset a lot of top bankers with his sweeping
but he is also sure to have stepped on the egos of a lot of senior party and
government officials. Not only do many of them have their various lucrative
speculation-based activities threatened, but to many of them Gono is another
kind of mafikizolo come to make them look bad in comparison to them. And he
appears to wield more power than any minister currently does. It will be
fascinating to watch how Gono manoeuvres in a political environment governed
by vicious jungle law. One thing is for sure, he will have to watch his back
While he has eclipsed
almost all of Mugabe's lieutenants for the moment, if
his reforms somehow succeed in bringing down inflation appreciably for
instance, does he not also run the very dangerous risk of eclipsing Mugabe
himself? Mugabe has not had any ideas on how to tackle inflation over the
years as it has been going through the roof and impoverishing Zimbabweans.
If Gono makes headway in this respect some people will begin to make
insinuations about the usefulness of the presidential incumbent! While
success for Gono may open up the doors to the political kingdom for him,
that same success could also threaten a highly placed ego, putting him in
more danger from that quarter than from disgruntled bankers and ministers!
As they say, it's a thin line between love and hate!
New defence forces chief Constan-tine Chiwenga apparently openly declared
that court judgements would only be adhered to if they were favourable to
the authorities. In one fell swoop he made utter nonsense of the bleating
about "the rule of law" one often hears from some mafikizolo ministers. One
part of the regime says one thing, another part of it contradicts the first
Foreign minister Stan
Mudenge made a confession about the regime's mindset
that stunned me because of its honesty. He declared that there was nothing
to be gained from the Commonwealth which Mugabe quit (but after being booted
out anyway!). It was merely an opportunity to have tea with the Queen, said
Mudenge dimissively. It was just as I always suspected: the millions of
dollars that have been used up in proudly hosting a Commonwealth summit in
1991 and in the president and many ministers eagerly attending many more
were merely to appease the pitiful lingering colonial mentality of the
regime - wanting to be pictured drinking tea with and being smiled on by the
English queen! What a disgusting, pathetically damning confession by Mudenge
of self imposed neo-colonial behaviour by so-called anti-imperialist
revolutionaries! I always suspected they were a bunch of fakes!
It is fascinating and
hilarious to watch the ruling regime unwittingly shoot
itself in the foot in so many ways.
-Chido Makunike is a regular contributor based in
I have a dream
By Macdonald Chimbizi
Inspired by Martin Luther King, I, Macdonald Chimbizi, have a dream. I have
a dream that one day the people of Zimbabwe will rise and live life to the
fullest, making of themselves all that they can and bettering our world. I
dream that not every unemployed young man and woman will be "Green Bombers"
but kill the world softly with their brainpower.
I have a dream that Robert Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai, Jonathan Moyo, Patrick
Chinamasa and other politicians in Zimbabwe will sit at the same table and
set strong examples for us and remain solid together forever.
I have a dream that one day in 2004 Robert Mugabe will finally see the need
to resign in the interest of the country and his personal health, never to
be heard of again.
I dream that
Information minister Jonathan Moyo will see the need to open
the airwaves to independent players to ensure the free flow of information
in Zimbabwe. That our hungry masses will finally get a chance of feeding on
a different diet from Hondo yeMinda, Rambai Makashinga and Sendekera.
I dream that Zimbabwe's favourite tabloid, the Daily News, will return to
the streets and continue to tell it like it is.
I hope our politicians will learn to
campaign and not use maize to buy votes
and, for a change, tell us how they are going to fix the economy.
I dream that Joseph Made will admit on
national television that he misled
the nation into believing that Zimbabwe had silos bursting with wheat and
maize and that though he has failed as Minister of Agriculture, he has a
brilliant career ahead in a comedy starring alongside Gringo in "Zimbabwe,
the Destruction Part 3."
that Zimbabweans in the diaspora like Strive Masiyiwa, Basildon
Peta, Thomas Mapfumo, Geoffrey Nyarota, Elias Pfebve and millions scattered
around the globe will finally return to a land of peace and help bring
Zimbabwe to its feet in a post-Mugabe era.
It's my dream that passengers of an Air
Zimbabwe Boeing will not have their
plane commandeered to drop off or pick up the First Family on one of their
I have a dream that one
day Zimbabwe's premier education establishment, the
University of Zimbabwe, will reclaim its status as the number one learning
institution in the whole of Africa. That for once, the residents of Mt
Pleasant will eat their dinner without having to choke on the pungent smell
I have a
dream that one day every Dynamos and Highlanders fan will see their
favourite team perform without the worry of being squashed, mangled and
punched in the crowd.
I have a dream that one day the young and upcoming musicians
will learn the
meaning of the word "originality" by adopting a Zimbabwean beat and not
recycling American beats. I dream that every untalented entertainer
(Agrimende Chiyangwa) will step down and let the real talent (Alick Macheso,
Oliver Mtukudzi, Mapfumo et al) rise.
I have a
dream that for once men and women will sleep in their beds and not
outside in long winding queues for bread, meat, water, fuel and maize.
I have a dream that all holders of public office and public-funded
institutions will remember their place and treat the public with courtesy
and manners, not act as if we all need to bow down to them in worship.
I have a dream that
men and women of our troubled nation will regain their
trust in the police and armed forces who have perennially terrorised them
more than the thugs they are supposed to be protecting them from.
I have a dream that one
day in our capital Harare (where my family dwells)
the heaps of uncollected garbage and flooded mortuaries at Parirenyatwa
Hospital are finally cleared and the capital reclaims its status as the
the Herald, ZBC, and the Sunday Mail report that the shortages are
mainly because of Mugabe's mismanagement, not sabotage by ex-Rhodies
together with Tony Blair and the MDC.
Let someone convince the balding professor to
ditch the nauseating Hondo
yeMinda jingle and allow the return of Mukanya's sizzling beats on radio.
Let Reuben Barwe quit the journalism profession and go into fulltime farming
or someone allocate him an office at Rotten Row Zanu PF HQ.
Should all this come to pass, we will be shouting: "Free
at last! Thank God
Almighty, free at last."
-Macdonald Chimbizi is
a Zimbabwean journalist now based in the United
BookReview - Pitfalls of Western aid
By John Robertson
A Great Deal of Nonsense, by John Hollaway, published by Capricorn Books.
FEW people have tried harder than John Hollaway to make sense of the huge
gaps between rich and poor, but perhaps nobody at all has drawn evidence
from as diverse a range of topics to explain the facts.
For us in Africa, the world's poorest and most disease-ridden continent, all
the issues covered in this book are of enormous importance, and all the more
so because Africa has received by far the most aid. For countries in the
rest of the world, the issues are just as important. Taxpayers in the donor
countries should be at least concerned that their generosity is going to
waste. Could it be that the assortment of organisations they formed to
disburse aid have failed in their mission?
Hollaway suggests that the mission itself is
not what it pretends to be. The
aid business is not trying to make the poor countries rich. It has evolved a
more limited objective of alleviating poverty and no more.
This is because developed countries have decided
that if the vastly bigger
populations of poor people start to consume the Earth's resources at the
same rate that the rich do, they will use up all the oil, chop down all the
rain forests, destroy our essential bio-diversity, accelerate global warming
and smother the planet in garbage.
make up the core of the claims that Hollaway sets out to prove to be a
great deal of nonsense.
Some of the angles from which the claims are
challenged go to the heart of
the public debate. Hollaway argues that the greenhouse gases that humans
generate are tiny compared to those produced by mother Nature. Also, the
rising use of scarce materials drives up their prices and causes the
adoption of alternatives, but the recovery of useful materials through
recycling are also bringing about welcome changes.
If advances in the developed world are now keeping pace
with, or even
overcoming the damage done to the environment, surely rich countries could
be much more imaginative about the forms of assistance they offer the third
world? The truth of this must be all the more powerful now that the means of
creating wealth are now so well understood.
more particularly, as these methods are not patented or protected
copyright laws, the third world could choose to be more determined to adopt
them. Their adoption should not depend on aid, especially as aid can be
shown not to have merely failed, but to have made things worse.
When patches of Africa can be shown to be as richly endowed as
any in the
prosperous world, but the African populations remain poor, something has to
be missing. What is it? Rich resources in Africa have proved to be a curse
rather than a blessing in very nearly every case. Why? In offering his
suggestions and prescriptions in answer to these questions, Hollaway reaches
into a broader sweep of history, geography, religion, ecology, economics,
politics, psychology, farming, mining, sociology and pathology than any
reader could hope to encounter in dozens of selected books.
How people behave, why they behave that way, how their value
evolved, how and why their societies have preserved beliefs that might have
been their salvation in past times, but are now holding them back, are
examined and explained. In most cases, friction is caused by the clash of
traditional values with the explosion of possibilities opened up by modern
technology and market-based institutions.
As one of many
very pertinent examples, the author guides the reader through
a description of how Islam came to be in such conflict with the more
materialistically successful West. It is the West's capacity to profit from
and adapt to technological changes that has left Islam far behind and
Islamic fundamentalists resentful. Their uncompromising beliefs prohibit
their adoption of many western ideas, but their population growth now denies
them the option to pursue their religious beliefs as their forefathers did.
Population growth has also cancelled the option that African
once had to practice shifting agriculture over what used to be thinly
populated vast tracts of land. They then ascribed value only to moveable
assets, which included large families. Trying to stick to such traditions
now is badly affecting their chances of progress.
simply, the great challenges of modern times are not being addressed
at all by the world's leading nations. If poverty is to be overcome, not
merely lessened, and if envy is to be converted into productive energy that
narrows the gaps between rich and poor, cultural changes have to be
accommodated. It is on the adoption of these needed changes that the efforts
should be concentrated.
The most basic of the essential concepts is so standard
in western minds
that it is taken for granted. It is the idea of individual property rights.
When properly recorded and respected, these rights permit individuals to use
property as collateral for bank loans, to plan and develop. This is the
foundation of the wealth of individuals in every prosperous country. Why is
it denied to individuals everywhere else?
It is the social structures that can be built on the individual
rights foundation that set the prosperous countries apart. These lead to
slower population growth, more manageable use of resources, more efficient
means of food production through completely sustainable land use, more
investment and the needed job creation to sustain larger urban populations.
From these the developed countries are now achieving more effective land
management to preserve natural forests as well as animal and plant species,
lower greenhouse gas emissions and far fewer risks to the environment. These
are the possibilities that make the limited objectives of the aid donors
This extensively referenced
book should be required reading for rich country
taxpayers as much as poor country peasants, but politicians and development
economists would do well to be first in line.
-John Robertson is a Zimbabwean business