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Massive corruption at govt hospitals

January 18, 2013 in News

GOVERNMENT hospitals are riddled with massive corruption, underhand dealings
as well as the flouting of State Procurement Board (SPB) regulations and
procedures in the procurement of medical equipment, an official
investigation has revealed.

Report by Staff Writers

According to a report titled Investigations Report on the Procurement
Processes by Government Hospitals under the Targeted Approach by the
National Economic Conduct Inspectorate (NECI), the investigation was
triggered by reports of irregularities in the procurement of hospital
requirements at Parirenyatwa and Mutare General hospitals by government
officials in connivance with suppliers.

The report is now in the hands of the police and Anti-Corruption Commission.

The 151-page report covers investigations conducted in several government
hospitals including Parirenyatwa, Harare, Mpilo, Mutare, Gweru Provincial,
Masvingo Provincial, Marondera Provincial and United Bulawayo Hospitals.

The report reveals an inspection in loco was carried out at Harare Hospital,
the first recipient of funding under the Targeted Approach scheme to
resuscitate essential health services after an outcry on the parlous state
of affairs at the institution.NECI noted glaring irregularities in the
tender for a C-Arm mobile image intensifier acquired by the hospital on
September 23, 2009.

“The tender was awarded to the lowest bidder, Axis Medical which quoted
US$48 600. After awarding the tender, the end user decided they wanted a
C-Arm with an LCD monitor as these had become outdated,” the report states.

When specifications are changed under normal circumstances, the bid should
be re-tendered but in this instance, Axis Medical alone was asked over the
telephone to requite the C-Arm on October 1, 2009 and other bidders were not

“Axis upped their price from US$48 600 to US$72 000 and were awarded as they
were the cheapest tender. The fact that bids from other companies had
already been opened meant that Axis Medical had information on what the next
bidder had offered thus presenting an unfair advantage over the other
bidders. Bantex Global had quoted US$78 000,” NECI revealed.

“The changing of specifications after the tenders have already been opened
leaves room for manipulation of the tender process. In all fairness, the
Procurement Tender Committee (PTC) should have come up with more precise
specifications in the source document, re-tendered the C-Arm or should have
asked other companies to provide quotes on the new specifications for the
benefit of all other bidders,” NECI said.

The report says there were numerous cases where sole bidders were awarded
tenders at the hospital. In some instances, awards were done on the basis of
two quotations yet the same committees ordered re-tendering under exactly
the same circumstances, according to the report.

In one case of tenders for the repair of elevators, the department of works
unilaterally raised the price two and a half times on behalf of the bidding
party — an act the report called “a treacherous act whose motivation may
need further probing”.

It also noted the process of recommending a sole supplier without having
noted what others had quoted as in the case of the tender to overhaul a
boiler at Harare Central Hospital is subject to abuse as the government may
end up paying more for what could have been procured for less.

The report stated that there was no ranking system at Harare Hospital and
tenders were not always awarded on the basis of the lowest bid as the
criteria is often changed circumstantially, rendering the tender process
susceptible to manipulation.

One of the main findings at Mutare Provincial Hospital, which received US$3
million of the Targeted Approach funds by the Inspectorate, was that the
prices which the hospital was buying basic items such as keys, paint, paint
brushes and wire nails, were inflated by as much as 100%.

The report queries why basic items were procured from Harare yet they were
readily available in Mutare. It also pointed to the purchasing of 100 beds
from Micknon Engineering for the nursing home in Mutare which started
sagging within days of being assembled, with some ready to be thrown away.

“A physical inspection by officers who went to Mutare proved this as the
beds were in a sorry state. The springs were loose and the mattresses were
being perforated by the springs resulting in them being unusable,” NECI
report said.

“The usage of US$16 387 on beds which were condemned before a year speaks
volumes of financial management at the hospital. Management at Mutare
Hospital should be held responsible for purchasing these substandard beds,”
the report recommended.NECI said a substantial amount of purchases at the
hospital exceeded US$50 000 as per SPB procedures.

In other findings, Gweru Hospital awarded a tender to Telstone for US$60 000
for the acquisition of a washing machine extractor despite having a ranking
score lower and more expensive than Acqui-Pack which had quoted US$40 365.

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‘World class’ NRZ a fading memory

January 18, 2013 in News

JOHN Chitoro, 70, fondly remembers travelling by train when the National
Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) was a viable entity. He experienced “world class
service” in the 1980s and early 1990s on business trips and holiday travel.

Report by Brian Chitemba

“It was an ideal, efficient and reliable mode of transport for those who
didn’t want to fly or travel by road,” Chitoro recalls. “I used to travel
first or second class and enjoyed value for money. But now the NRZ is a mere
shadow of its former self,” he bemoans.

Chitoro enjoyed the regular 400km trips between Harare and Bulawayo using
the NRZ as he was assured of a reliable service whether on the night or day
train. “The trains were almost always on time, with clean bed linen in the
sleeper class, clean toilets and first-class bar services.

For instance passenger trains servicing the Bulawayo/Harare route would
leave both cities right on time at 9pm, arriving at 6am the following

According to Chitoro, the NRZ provided competitive services comparable to
what South Africa and Botswana offer today. The economy class would only be
crowded during holidays, unlike now when the few useable ones are always
packed to the brim.

Rail transport, especially the night service, was ideal for the business or
ordinary traveller as they could plan their journeys well in advance or at
short notice without endangering their lives by driving while they were

Holidaymakers would also board the day train to tour the country’s scenic
views. Clean as a whistle and well-maintained, the NRZ’s first and second
class were sleeper coaches which enabled passengers the comfort of sleeping
in beds while the third and fourth classes catered for seated travellers.
However the situation has deteriorated alarmingly resulting in passengers
enduring the foul stench that emanates from dirty toilets.

Apart from the deterioration of train services, the NRZ headquarters in
Bulawayo is also a crumbling wreck. The general manager’s once luxurious
house in the affluent Suburbs area in Bulawayo has become an eyesore with
the once neatly trimmed lawn replaced by an assortment of weeds. Surrounded
by well-maintained houses, the shabby-looking building sticks out like a
sore thumb.

Due to the NRZ’s deterioration travellers and holidaymakers now have limited
options when it comes to the modes of transport available because of the
poor public transport system which results in much loss of life during the
festive season.

Passengers and goods that could have been safely moved more cheaply and
safely by rail now heavily depend on the overstretched and under-maintained
road network because of the dysfunctional NRZ. Due to the poor and
unreliable train service, travellers are now forced to use buses and other
unroadworthy vehicles whose operators charge exorbitant fares during peak

The NRZ has been run down by successive incompetent management leaving the
rail company virtually redundant while workers go for months without pay.

Surprisingly NRZ boss Mike Karakadzai and his top management allocated
themselves the latest Toyota Landcruisers and Prados reflecting a sharp
contrast with workers who are currently owed salaries dating back five

The parlous state of the NRZ suggests the parastatal’s latest projection to
transport more than six million tonnes of cargo in 2013 will remain a
pipedream. The NRZ moved 12 million tonnes of cargo in 1992 and 19 million
tonnes in 1997, but it only managed 1,7 million tonnes in 2011.

Although NRZ’s cargo carrying capacity is depleted, it is the passenger
service that has borne the brunt of the rail company’s mismanagement. The
NRZ has partly blamed the deterioration of standards on vandalism which has
seen the firm losing equipment worth millions of dollars.

About three years ago 380kms of electric cable valued at US$110 million was
stolen between Dabuka in Gweru and Harare, and although it is suspected that
the theft was masterminded by insiders who know the company’s operations, no
arrests were made.

The NRZ now has about 168 locomotives with only 71 serviceable in 2011; the
rest were obsolete. Out of 8 682 wagons, only 3 427 were operational.

Once viewed as an employer of choice, the firm’s workforce has shrunk from a
staff complement of 18 000 at Independence in 1980 to its current 7 000.

Bulawayo-based political and economic commentator Dumisani Nkomo said there
was a need to recapitalise and overhaul infrastructure in line with modern

The NRZ needs about US$2 billion to recapitalise and modernise its
operations in the long term, but it was only allocated a paltry US$20
million by the government.

“It’s (NRZ) also contributing to the dilapidated state of roads as more
heavy trucks are now being used (to move heavy cargo) instead of using rail
transport,” said Nkomo.

“In countries such as the US and Canada, there is a sophisticated rail
network for both commuters and goods. We have to urgently revive our rail
network to a vibrant system and not confine it to history. The steel, iron,
coal and other mining sectors need a vibrant rail system.”

Nkomo further queried the appointment of top managers with no experience in
the transport sector arguing that the move was part of a broader plan by
Zanu PF to control vital sectors of the economy.
Karakadzai is a former airforce officer with no history in the transport

But NRZ spokesman Fanuel Masikati said the parastatal was refurbishing
locomotives and wagons to boost its current capacity while efforts were
underway to establish public private partnership.

“Customers can now bid farewell to periods of anxiety and anticipation in
the delivery of their cargo since it was established during the trial period
(of acquired express trains) that, with express trains, it now takes a
maximum of 46 and 40 hours to transport goods from as far away as Hwange to
Harare and from Beitbridge to Harare respectively, for both local and
imported traffic,” said Masikati.

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VP’s death spurs power battle

January 18, 2013 in Politics

VICE-President John Nkomo (78) died at Harare’s St Anne’s Hospital yesterday
afternoon aggravating the bruising battle for the vice-presidency among Zanu
PF heavyweights from Matabeleland who started jostling for the post as his
health deteriorated.

Report by Owen Gagare

Nkomo becomes the fourth vice-president to die in office after Joshua Nkomo,
Simon Muzenda and Joseph Msika.

He had been ill for some time and was reportedly suffering from prostate

Sources told the Zimbabwe Independent Nkomo was rushed to St Anne’s at
around 8pm on Wednesday after his condition deteriorated.

Nkomo arrived at the hospital in an ambulance accompanied by a nurse,
nurse-aid and security details and was immediately whisked on a stretcher
into the hospital’s Intensive Care Unit (ICU) on the first floor of the

The sources said Nkomo could not talk and was struggling to breathe.
He was promptly put on oxygen to aid his breathing but his condition
continued to decline culminating in his death at around midday yesterday.

State security agents had visited the hospital an hour before Nkomo arrived
and ordered staff to clear the ICU saying a high profile person was coming
for treatment.

“Patients were moved from the ICU to the Critical Care Unit (CCU) opposite
the ICU,” said a hospital official. “The CCU has the same facilities as the
ICU so patients’ health was not compromised.”
The ICU was sealed off after Nkomo’s death as security agents took control
of the ward. State security agents were milling around outside the hospital
throughout the day yesterday.

Several ministers and security chiefs rushed to the hospital after receiving
news of Nkomo’s death. Among the first to arrive after receiving the news
were Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, State Security minister Sydney
Sekeramayi, and Transport and Communication minister Nicholas Goche.

The commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General Constantine Chiwenga,
and Zimbabwe National Army commander, Lieutenant-General Phillip Valerio
Sibanda, were also at the hospital.

Although St Anne’s gives between 30 minutes and one hour to remove a body
because the hospital has no mortuary, Nkomo’s body remained on his death-bed
until President Robert Mugabe arrived at about 3.45pm, almost three hours
after his death.

Mugabe had earlier held a meeting with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai,
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, MDC leader Welshman Ncube and the
cabinet committee on the constitution to resolve the impasse in the
constitution-making exercise.
Mugabe spent about 15 minutes at the hospital before Nkomo’s body was
removed by Doves Funeral parlour shortly after he left.

Mugabe had earlier announced Nkomo’s death at a press conference called by
Global Political Agreement principals to announce a breakthrough in the
constitution-making exercise.

“We have lost Vice-President Nkomo,” said Mugabe. “He was suffering from
cancer and we heard his situation had become worse from yesterday
(Wednesday) when he was taken to St Anne’s Hospital; that’s where he passed
away this morning (Thursday).”

“I want to express on behalf of government, cabinet and Zanu PF our
sincerest condolences to his family, to his dear old mother, relatives and
all his friends. We have lost a real revolutionary, a fighter for freedom, a
friend of the people and a lover of children. He will be clearly missed by
all of us.”

The United States embassy’s public affairs section sent a condolence message
to the Nkomo family saying he had played an important role in the country.

“Whether as a teacher, a politician, an advocate for Zimbabwe’s
Independence, or as a public servant, Vice-President Nkomo was a patriot who
dedicated his life to Zimbabwe’s sovereignty and prosperity,” the embassy
said in a statement. “As a leader of PF Zapu and Zanu PF, Nkomo played an
important role in shaping the course of Zimbabwean history.”

Nkomo’s death is likely to destabilise Zanu PF ahead of crucial elections
this year, given jostling for his position started long before he died.

Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo is favourite to land the vice-
presidency because of his current position in the presidium, but he may
still be contested by Mines minister Obert Mpofu whose influence in
Matabeleland has grown rapidly triggering a standoff with some party

Mpofu calls himself “Mugabe’s ever obedient son” but has never been a
favourite of most Zanu PF heavyweights from Matabeleland largely because he
floor-crossed to Zanu PF prior to the signing of the Unity Accord in
December 1987, and is thus viewed as a sellout.

His biggest weapon, however, appears to be the grassroots support he enjoys
in the region, especially in Bulawayo and Matabeleland North.

Together with Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu, who was the Zapu chairman when
the Unity Accord was signed in 1987, Mpofu expressed an interest to succeed
the late Joseph Msika as vice-president in 2009, but Nkomo landed the
position by virtue of his seniority.

But the battle may include people from other regions given that some regions
have over the last few years questioned why the VP position is reserved for
someone from Matabeleland. The Manyikas and the Karangas have been demanding
a balance in the presidium arguing they have been left out for a long time.

What they said about Nkomo’s death

Zapu leader Dumiso Dabengwa described Nkomo as a unifier and sober

“He has been ill for some time and although we complain when someone goes
but there are instances where he has been going through a lot of pain and
you feel that death comes in as a relief,” he said.
Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa said Zimbabwe had lost a
dedicated leader.

“The party has lost a powerful leader who played an important role during
and after the liberation struggle,” he said.

The MDC-T said Nkomo was a reconciliatory man who did not engage in politics
of vengeance “like some of his colleagues in the party.”
“We are saddened by the death of VP Nkomo, he was a reconciliatory man and
not a man of violence,” said MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora.

“His politics was different from that of his colleagues which is that of
blood. He was a reconciliatory man and befittingly he was leading the
leading the organ on national healing.”

Water Resources minister Samuel Sipepa Nkomo (MDC-T), a cousin to Nkomo said
the death was “devastating to the family”.

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GPA reform relegated to back burner

January 18, 2013 in Politics

WHEN Zanu PF and the two MDC formations signed the Global Political
Agreement (GPA) in September 2008 ahead of the formation of the unity
government in February 2009, most Zimbabweans pinned their hopes on the pact
to usher in a democratic dispensation that would allow credible, free and
fair polls.

Report by Brian Chitemba

Most of Zimbabwe’s elections, especially since 2002, have been marred by
allegations of an environment heavily tilted in favour of former ruling
party Zanu PF as well as vote-rigging, widespread intimidation and violence,
resulting in contested outcomes.

Four years into the GPA the 24 major reforms the three unity government
protagonists — Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC — agreed to implement seem to have
been forgotten as they squabble over the contents of a new constitution.

According to the GPA implementation matrix, issues that should have been
implemented by now include regularisation of the Broadcasting Authority of
Zimbabwe (Baz) board and re-appointment of a new Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Corporation board.

As part of media reforms, the parties agreed that public media — ZBC and
Zimpapers — would refrain from hate speech against Zanu PF’s political foes
while it was also part of the pact that Baz would open up the airwaves to
increase the democratic space. Instead, Baz has been accused of licensing
radio stations — ZiFM and Star FM — with Zanu PF links.

The parties further agreed the National Security Council should meet on the
first Friday of each month, but that has not been happening, while the
controversial Joint Operations Command (Joc), which was supposed to be
disbanded, continues to meet.

Joc, which brings together the army, police and intelligence chiefs stands
accused of planning and perpetrating violence on behalf of Zanu PF.

There has been increasing silence from the three parties on these critical
democracy enablers with the major battles in the inclusive government being
largely concentrated on the disbursement of funds for voter registration and
political point scoring.

While conditions for free and fair elections in Zimbabwe largely hinge on
implementation of agreed GPA reforms, hunger for political power seems to
have overtaken the urgency of the reforms.

Even the weekly GPA principals’ meetings have largely lost relevance as they
focus mainly on issues outside the crucial reforms.

The principals’ meeting held in Harare on Monday, for example, discussed
allocation of funds for voter education and the constitution-making process.
Nothing about levelling the political playing field, particularly as
elections are expected this year was discussed.

Last week, a furious Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) summoned
acting Finance minister Theresa Makone, Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa
and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) vice-chairperson Joyce Kazembe to a
tense meeting to deliberate on delays in releasing funding for voter

Political pundits allege Tsvangirai and his MDC counterpart, Welshman Ncube,
have now abandoned the issue of outstanding GPA issues, instead allowing
themselves to be stampeded into elections expected later this year.

Senior researcher on Zimbabwe and Southern Africa with the Africa division
of Human Rights Watch, Dewa Mavhinga, says the parties have now focused only
on one aspect of reforms — securing an agreement on the necessary legal and
administrative requirements for elections.
“However, little attention has been paid to the implementation of the agreed
reforms and to securing agreement and ensuring reforms on areas where
agreement has not been reached,” said Mavhinga.

“The unity government has unfortunately neglected the enforcement of various
agreements that would facilitate a rights-respecting environment and the
holding of credible, free, and fair elections.”

Mavhinga said the inclusive government was still to implement key issues
like the promotion of equality, national healing and unity, introduction of
police training programmes on matters relating to the rights of freedom to
assembly and association, and prioritising a legislative agenda to reflect
the letter and spirit of the GPA.

The election roadmap agreed on by Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC in July 2011 and
meant to pave way for free and fair elections remains largely unimplemented
and virtually forgotten.

The parties agreed on the roadmap to craft “milestones and signposts that
must be executed and implemented before the next election”.
These include the constitutional process, media reforms, electoral reforms,
rule of law, freedom of association and assembly, a legislative agenda, and
logistical preparations for the actual election, including voter
registration and accreditation of observers.

The political parties have remained deadlocked on the staffing of Zec as
well as security sector reforms, as Zanu PF has flatly refused to entertain
any demands on the issues saying those are no-go areas.

The failure to incorporate the entire GPA into law, Mavhinga said, meant the
agreement together with the roadmap to elections remains a document of
political aspirations with no legal status.

Mavhinga added that its implementation was hampered by the fact that it was
dependent on political will for enforcement of its provisions.
Political commentator Rodrick Fayayo argued that political parties have made
a crucial mistake by rushing through the constitution-making process because
of a push for elections.

The election rush, Fayayo said, was likely to compromise a number of
important issues that are supposed to be enshrined in the governance

“A constitution is for posterity and we can’t afford to rush through for the
purposes of simply wanting to complete it,” said Fayayo.
“If push comes to shove and people cannot agree and feel they should have
elections at whatever cost, it would be better to put aside the
constitution-making exercise and then devote as much time as possible to
this very important document at a later stage.”

However, Bulawayo-based human rights lawyer, Kucaca Phulu is of another

“The voters’ roll is key. All other reforms will work if people register to
vote,” said Phulu. “Historically voter apathy has influenced elections even
more than intimidation and other factors.”

With so much of Zimbabwe’s immediate future riding on a free and fair
election, chances are that by ignoring reforms, the unity government parties
could be scoring a spectacular own goal in the form of yet another disputed

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Zanu PF bigwigs face boot

January 18, 2013 in Politics

AT least five Zanu PF bigwigs are on the brink of being expelled from the
party following revelations of fraud and self-enrichment in a diamond money
scam involving more than US$750 000, part of which they allegedly used to
bankroll luxurious lifestyles.

Faith Zaba/Herbert Moyo

The five, who include Manicaland provincial chairperson Mike Madiro, ousted
provincial youth chairperson Tawanda Mukodza, provincial youth secretary for
security Admire Mahachi, provincial youth secretary for information Masimba
Kangai and former district coordinating committee member Clever Muparutsa,
appeared before a provincial disciplinary committee chaired by Zanu PF
Manicaland vice chairperson Dorothy Mabika last Friday, and again this week.

Mabika has since submitted her report to the party’s national chairperson
Simon Khaya Moyo.

Zanu PF national secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa said: “We have
received reports to that effect (the US$750 00 fraud) and there is a
committee that is investigating the matter chaired by Mai Mabika.”

Madiro and his colleagues are facing allegations of soliciting money from
diamond mining companies in Chiadzwa, Mbada Diamonds and Anjin, purportedly
for party activities, including preparations for the party’s annual people’s
conference in Gweru last December.

Contacted for comment yesterday, Madiro said: “I have no comment; write what
you like.”

According to correspondence between acting police Commissioner-General Levi
Sibanda, acting President Joice Mujuru, Khaya Moyo and Mabika, the five
allegedly converted the money to their own use in a fraudulent scheme for
personal gain which involved the buying of houses, vehicles and other

Highly placed sources told the Independent Madiro, who is said to be a
protégé of Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa in his fight with Mujuru for
control of the party, was set to be fired from his position last week.

However sources said Mnangagwa and Zanu PF Women’s League boss Oppah
Muchinguri fought in his corner and successfully argued that a provincial
disciplinary hearing be first conducted before making recommendations to the

Mukodza was the first major casualty after youth secretary Absalom Sikhosana
signed his dismissal letter following a vote of no-confidence.

The provincial disciplinary committee was set up under Mabika, who summoned
Madiro and the others to a hearing held last week in Mutare.

The Independent was shown a copy of a letter signed by Mabika inviting
Madiro to appear before a disciplinary hearing on January 12 at 10am to
“answer allegations of acts of fraud and corruption associated with you”.

Sources said Madiro and his accomplices approached Mbada Diamonds and
another unnamed diamond company to solicit funds for the Zanu PF annual
people’s conference held in Gweru last December, and were money which they
allegedly converted to their own use.

It is alleged Mbada gave them US$300 000 while the other unnamed company
gave them US$450 000 which they shared amongst themselves.

The saga only came to light after one of them reported the matter to Mutare
police after being paid less than what he expected from the US$450 000.

When the Independent approached one of the accused provincial executives who
requested anonymity, he said: “There were no problems in sharing the first
US$300 000 but matters only came to a head when we received far less than we
anticipated of our share of the US$450 000.”

Sources said a third diamond company (believed to be Anjin) insisted on
depositing its donation of US$400 000 into a Zanu PF bank account.
When the matter was reported to the police, Sibanda wrote to Mujuru in a
two-lined letter — with the police report attached – seeking advice on what
action to take since the issue involved party bigwigs.

Mujuru then wrote to Khaya Moyo telling him to take action. Khaya Moyo
subsequently met with the national disciplinary committee of which Mnangagwa
is a member.

It was at this meeting that Mnangagwa and Muchinguri allegedly shot down the
idea of sacking Madiro, arguing that the case be first dealt with by the
provincial disciplinary committee in Manicaland.
The provincial disciplinary committee met Madiro and the four before meeting
representatives of the mining companies to hear their side of the story.

Allegations are that Madiro used part of the money to complete the building
of a 36-roomed mansion in Mt Pleasant along Arundel Road.

He has also bought a Volkswagen Amarok vehicle, whose price ranges between
US$48 000 and US$56 000, sources said.
Mukodza, who used to work for the Mutare City Council before his dismissal
last year, is said to have moved from his one-roomed lodgings in Sakubva to
a three-bedroomed house in Hobhouse 2, in Mutare. He now reportedly drives a
Toyota Nadia, among other vehicles he has since bought.

“Mukodza bought house number 4244 Hobhouse 2; two stands in the Border-View
suburb; another near 3 Brigade in Chikanga and St Joseph all in Mutare,”
said the source.

However, a relative of Mukodza, Timothy Mukodza phoned the Independent
yesterday claiming that he was the rightful owner of number 4244 Hobhouse 2.

Sources said either Arda chairman Basil Nyabadza, who is being pushed by
Mutasa, or central committee member retired Lt-General Mike Nyambuya, who is
seen as a neutral in the province, is likely to take over as acting chair
until fresh elections are held if Madiro is fired.

Madiro was one of the six provincial chairpersons suspended over the
Tsholotsho declaration in 2004 at which a plot to propel Mnangagwa to the
vice presidency was allegedly hatched after the death of Vice President
Simon Muzenda.

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Zanu PF’s planned meeting over Byo revival ‘just crocodile tears’

January 18, 2013 in Politics

ZANU PF Bulawayo Province has invited economic and industry cluster
ministries run by the MDC formations to a meeting to deliberate on ways of
reviving the city’s collapsed industrial sector.

Report by Nqobile Bhebhe

The planned meeting is being organised by Zanu PF’s commissariat department,
but it has been dismissed as a mere electioneering gimmick aimed at reviving
the party’s electoral fortunes in a city where it has failed to win a single
parliamentary seat since 2000.

However, Zanu PF Bulawayo provincial chairperson Killian Sibanda on
Wednesday denied the planned meeting was part of an election campaign.

“Zanu PF has never capitalised on the plight of the suffering people to
campaign,” said Sibanda. “We have always been with the people during and
after any elections. No one is to blame for the current situation, therefore
we are not campaigning. Elections will come and go, but grievances will

Sibanda said the engagement is part of a broader party strategy of
addressing the economic plight of the city, which was once the country’s
industrial hub, as the Distressed and Marginalised Areas Fund had failed to
“revive a single firm” since the available money is inadequate.

MDC Bulawayo spokesperson Edwin Ndlovu said the move was a Zanu PF ploy to
appear as if it has the interests of industry in Bulawayo at heart.

“It’s just crocodile tears,” said Ndlovu. “In fact, they should tell the
people that industries began collapsing during the price control era under
their very own minister Obert Mpofu (who was in charge of industry and
commerce). My boss (Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube) will
certainly not attend such a kangaroo court so people should not take the
meeting seriously,” Ndlovu said.

Ncube has previously indicated that close to 100 companies have closed shop
in Bulawayo rendering more than 20 000 people jobless.

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Outrage over baby elephants export

January 18, 2013 in News

ANIMAL rights activists have vowed to continue their battle for the release
of four baby elephants exported to China from Zimbabwe as the secretariat of
the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna
and Flora (Cites) investigates whether Zimbabwe’s live elephant export was
above board.

Report by Tendai Marima

In November 2012, four baby elephants were taken from the Hwange National
Park to Taiyuan Zoo and Tien Shan Zoo Safari in northern China.

Environmentalist group, Zimbabwe Conservation Task Force (ZCTF), was
outraged and said the calves were too young for the long journey to China.
The elephants reportedly endured a 12-hour drive from Hwange National Park
to Harare International Airport and a long-haul Emirates flight to the Far
East via Dubai.

In early January, it was reported that one of the baby elephants had died,
sparking further protest as campaigners alleged the infant had died from the
trauma of the journey.

ZCTF and other international animal rights groups voiced concerns over the
conditions in which the calves were being held and called on Cites to revoke
the export permits.

On January 6, a petition was drawn up and posted on the online petition

In less than a week, more than 10 000 had signed the document which was then
sent to the Cites secretariat in Geneva, Switzerland. In response to the
petition and numerous other calls for action, the secretariat issued a
statement last week Friday.

Cites explained that live trade between states was permissible, but the
world regulatory body does not have the power to withdraw export permits
issued to member states.

“Both Zimbabwe and China are longstanding parties to Cites,” the group said
in a statement. “All permits and certificates for trade under Cites are
issued and accepted by the designated national Cites authorities of the 177
state parties (countries) to Cites. The Cites secretariat does not issue any
Cites permits or certificates, and has no authority to directly intervene in
Cites trade transactions.”

Prior to the Cites’ statement, campaigners for animal rights said the export
of this species of African elephant was endangered, but the international
body in its statement said at the present moment the Loxodonta africana
(African elephant) of Zimbabwe was not threatened with extinction.

Cites further said it was liaising with wildlife authorities in both China
and Zimbabwe to determine if the exportation was done procedurally.

Zimbabwe plans to export another 10 elephants later this month, but animal
activists have vowed to continue petitioning Cites to stop further live
animal exports between the two countries.

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Parliament should scrutinise mining deals

January 18, 2013 in News

ZIMBABWE should involve parliament and cabinet in the granting of mining
rights and mining deals as a means to curb rampant corruption which is
mostly perpetrated by government officials, an independent watchdog has

Report by Taurai Mangudhla

Mining deals are currently approved and awarded by the Minister of Mines
with special grants being given by President Robert Mugabe.

Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) said in its report on the state of
corruption in the mining sector that there is urgent need for reform as
government ministers are behind most corrupt activities concerning the
extraction, sale and export of gold and diamonds in Zimbabwe.

“Through parliamentary scrutiny, all the mining deals are examined to ensure
that there is transparency, accountability and probity on the part of the
public officials involved,” the report said. “This will remove the veil of
secrecy currently synonymous with mining deals in Zimbabwe.”

The finding of TIZ’s reports focuses on gold, diamond and platinum mining in
Kwekwe, Gwanda, Mhondoro-Ngezi and Chiadzwa.

In the mining of diamonds, particularly in Marange, politicians are believed
to be influencing the awarding of the mining contracts.
TIZ says there is no transparent and accountable process in which
concessions to mine diamonds in Zimbabwe are awarded.

“Basing on evidence prevailing on the ground, the study found out that all
the companies that have been given mining rights to mine diamonds in
Zimbabwe are those with close links to senior politicians in government and
the military,” read the report. “The Chinese company, Anjin is a beneficiary
of having close links with senior politicians in government and the military
as the instrumental means through which it gained access to the Marange

To this effect, TIZ proposed an overhaul of the country’s ambiguous mining
policy; finalisation of the Diamond Act and capacitating of the Zimbabwe
Revenue Authority officials to effectively collect taxes and royalties to
curb corruption that has cost the country millions of dollars through
mineral leakages. Mineral leakages are a threat to the country’s potential
to generate export earnings in the region of US$2 billion annually over the
medium – term and upwards of US$5 billion a year within 15 years.

The high level of graft has seen Zimbabwe being rated 163rd out of 176
countries by Transparency International’s corruption perception index,
making it the most corrupt nation in the Sadc region.

“An effective fight against corruption demands political will to back up
intentions to mitigate corruption. The presidency should show serious
resolve to do away with corruption in the mining sector by backing up
prosecuting agencies such as the police when it comes to bringing to book
politicians and bureaucrats found to be involved in corrupt deals in the
mining sector.”

It said government should come up with stiffer penalties that make it
unattractive to engage in mineral related corruption.

According to the report, bureaucratic corruption is out of control in the
Ministry of Mines and members of the police force as it emerged that
ministry officials are in the habit of overtly demanding bribes or kickbacks
from members of the public who wish to venture into mining in return for
gold mining licences and mining claims in areas that are deemed lucrative in
terms of mineral deposits.

“The Ministry of Mines officials have made it extremely difficult and almost
impossible for people to venture into mining without paying some form of a
bribe. It has become common occurrence that those who fail to pay bribes to
ministry officials find themselves being supplanted for flimsy reasons
either for encroaching into existing claims or having been allocated wrong
claims,” said TIZ.

Politicians from Zanu PF are accused of using their influence to derive
personal gains from gold and diamond mining through forming syndicates with
illegal panners and agents who act on their behalf to escape attention and
public scrutiny.

The agents or “runners” are responsible for mining and even the illegal
buying and selling of gold and diamonds on behalf of the politicians.

“Runners for politicians enjoy immense protection from the law such that
their illegal activities are not usually investigated by the police,” TIZ

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Propaganda war won’t diminish Gukurahundi

January 18, 2013 in News

THERE is now a deliberate concerted effort to downplay the Gukurahundi
massacres as evidenced by the current, apparently coordinated, discussion of
the matter.

Report by By Sithelo Mpala

Recently there were two articles in the media, one defending the brutal
massacres as a national security issue (Gukurahundi was not genocide, by Mai
Jukwa, while the other frames them as a conflict between
civilians of different tribes and the victims should forgive and move
forward (Don’t abuse Gukurahundi by Darlington Mahuku and Bowden Mbanje, The

This propaganda material was sent for publishing in different media to
target different audiences and achieve maximum readership. One article
targeted to reach the online and mostly international
readership while the one in The Herald aimed for national readership.

These two articles most probably appeared by design. The evidence that can
be used to connect these two articles is the similar messages they carry.

First, they have a nationalistic tone, emphasising moving beyond the
Gukurahundi massacres to becoming a united nation. Second, they exonerate
the government and military leaders of any wrongdoing.

The exoneration is through omission. The articles are glaringly silent on
scrutinising the decisions of the political and military leadership, as well
as that of the foot soldiers.

Instead the architects, such as President Robert Mugabe and Air Force
commander Perence Shiri, are portrayed as heroes who saw the massacres as
“madness” that should not be repeated, even though they happened under their
resolve to intensify the killings of innocent and unarmed civilians, and
arrest of the Zapu leadership. Lookout Masuku, a Zapu leader who was never
charged with any crime, ultimately died from illness while incarcerated.

Third, the articles portray the massacres perpetrated on peaceful, unarmed
and innocent civilians in Matabeleland and Midlands as a “conflict of every
man against every man” and a tribe against tribe.
The Gukurahundi is now being framed as a Rwanda-kind of genocide where
civilians killed each other.

This is a big lie. The Gukurahundi massacres resulted in the deaths of about
20 000 innocent and unarmed civilians in Matabeleland and the Midlands by a
government army battalion, the Fifth Brigade in the 1980s. The innocent and
unarmed civilians were accused by the Zimbabwean government of supporting
armed dissidents.

Yet, no evidence has been provided up to this day, and even the lowest of
the low revisionist will not expressly claim that these innocent and unarmed
civilians sympathised with or even supported dissidents.

The mere fact that these revisionists, who portray themselves as champions
of reconciliation, are so deceptive demonstrates how evil the whole plan is
to diminish and even revise the facts on Gukurahundi. If the Matabeleland
and Midlands victims of the savage killings were somehow allowing themselves
to forget the Gukurahundi, then this evil revisionist onslaught is opening
up old, yet still fresh, wounds.

It is misguided for these revisionists to abuse their intellectual powers to
distort knowledge about the massacres, while on the other hand calling for
forgiveness and reconciliation.

It is hardly strange that it’s easy for these revisionists to engage in such
deception because they did not experience the massacres. They did not lose
their fathers and mothers or brothers and sisters, hence their academic
jigsaw puzzle approach.

To the victims, the massacres are not an academic jigsaw puzzle that
governance and political analysts discuss with the intent of developing
different perspectives and theories to justify or tone them down. If we want
to make it an intellectual ball game, let the people have their voice or
just open the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace (CCJP) report which
documented the savage murders, and see whether these intellectuals will
manage to handle what comes out of that exercise.

To demonstrate that the case for the revisionists is selective and deceitful
they don’t refer to the CCJP report, the official report which documented
the massacres and was presented to then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe.

Even the fact that the revisionists continue to state that the massacres
were a conflict between civilians of different tribes shows beyond
reasonable doubt their bad faith.

When these emerging revisionists suggest Gukurahundi massacres were a
civilian conflict they actually mean Matabeleland and Midlands people were
dissidents. The funny thing is that they don’t identity the other tribe
which supposedly fought Matabeleland and Midlands people.

But we know there were no other opposing civilian tribes fighting these
people except the massacres by the army’s Fifth Brigade.

People from Matabeleland and Midlands regions never attempted to take up
arms or organise against the Zimbabwe government or soldiers. They neither
supported the dissidents nor created any structures to support dissidents.
It thus becomes ridiculous to justify why anyone should be killed. That’s
why we need a truth and reconciliation commission to understand what
motivated the killing of the 20 000 civilians by government soldiers.

There cannot be reconciliation or moving forward under the current
deception. There should be reconciliation, but it should happen in an
environment of truth, frankness and genuine remorse.

However, the prosecution of those responsible for the massacres would serve
as a lesson to anyone now or in the future who might want to kill or promote
the killing of other people.

Killing people that we disagree with especially on political issue continues
to be a problem now. So one of the ways we can eradicate this immoral
culture is to hold people to account through mechanisms such as the truth
and reconciliation commission.

On what basis do we call the Gukurahundi massacre victims to move ahead if
they don’t publicly recount their ordeals, trauma, and pose questions while
voicing their expectations? But obviously those who did not experience the
massacres cannot empathise.

Sithelo Mpala is a graduate of International Relations.

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UNWTO: ‘Liberalise visa regime or lose out’

January 18, 2013 in News

AS Zimbabwe and Zambia continue preparations to co-host the United Nations
World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly in August, the world
premier tourism body’s technical inspection team has expressed concern over
delays in tackling delicate issues critical in enabling the successful
hosting of the event.

Report by Herbert Moyo

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

Speaking in Harare on Tuesday soon after jetting into the country to assess
the preparedness to host the mega tourism event, Ndiaye said government’s
protectionist policy was slowing down tourism growth as evidenced by the
single percentage digits market the country currently enjoys compared to the
potential it possesses.

“Africa is only enjoying 4% of the tourism market when there is huge
movement of people that is creating huge opportunities for its people,” said
Ndiaye. “We want to increase it and to do so we should be opening up our
skies,” he said.

“The liberalisation of our transport system and visa facilitation is very

Ndiaye’s calls follow similar sentiments by Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA)
chief executive Karikoga Kaseke and Tourism and Hospitality minister Walter
Mzembi who have bemoaned the impact of a stringent visa regime and
regimented air system on tourism.

The current aviation policy is believed to be discouraging the involvement
of private players while favouring struggling national carrier Air Zimbabwe.

The policy requires new airlines to develop other routes, a process that
takes at least two years, according to aviation experts.

Whereas international airlines like British Airways, KLM and Emirates are
vying to land on Zimbabwe’s runways in respect of the Open Skies Policy, the
situation is different on the domestic front as major local routes like the
Harare-Bulawayo-Victoria Falls routes are a preserve of state-controlled Air

Following a meeting between government and players in the tourism sector in
September last year in which the latter pleaded with the Transport ministry
to open up the domestic skies, Kaseke said government was working on a
positive solution which would be announced “in the next few months”.

However, nothing tangible has materialised to date, prompting the visiting
Ndiaye to add his voice to demands for liberalisation of the country’s

Mzembi, who said Zimbabwe would receive a projected three million visitors
in 2013, urged authorities to deal with challenges faced at Zimbabwe’s ports
of entry.

“Statistics already show that 89% of our arrivals are intra-Africa,” said
Mzembi. “So why not make that even easier for ourselves,” he asked.
“Business tourism is being frustrated by our visa regime which is too
bureaucratic, lengthy and expensive and literally discourages travel into

Global travel and tourism generates US$1,2 trillion in direct income;
receives nearly a billion people; employs 240 million people, and has a
global impact on gross domestic product believed to be in the region of US$6
trillion. Of this, Africa’s share is only 4%.

Even if domestic routes were to be opened up to other players and air travel
to Victoria Falls was easily available, the resort town’s airport is too
small and still has to be upgraded in line with UNWTO recommendations.

“It’s the same perennial problem,” said Mzembi of the transport and visa
issues. “You can predict with accuracy that come December, Beitbridge will
be clogged and our airports will be overburdened with traffic. So we need to
fix the reception issues.”

He said most conference delegates may have to land at Zambia’s Harry
Nkumbula Airport in Livingstone in the event of failure to upgrade the
Victoria Falls Airport on time. For their part, the Zambians have begun
upgrading the Livingstone Airport which already has a bigger capacity than
Victoria Falls Airport.

Documents seen by the Zimbabwe Independent at the South-West Regional
Tourism Development offices in Livingstone reveal the Zambians expect to
complete their preparations and upgrades by June.

Other developments include the upgrading of ablution facilities, an
inter-city bus terminus and street lighting along Livingstone’s roads.

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MDC-T youths demand parly election quota

January 18, 2013 in Politics

MORE conflict is brewing in the MDC-T as party youths are openly demanding a
quota be reserved for them in parliamentary elections expected sometime this

Report by Elias Mambo

The youths say the quota system would be a way of rewarding them for the
crucial role they have played as foot soldiers since the formation of the
party in 1999, but their demands have been met with resistance from the
national executive and some members of the youth assembly.

While MDC-T Youth Assembly national secretary for information, Clifford
Hlatshwayo, wants a certain percentage of parliamentary seats and council
wards reserved for youths, his chairperson Solomon Madzore said they would
stick to party regulations.

“We demand a quota system along the lines of the gender parity system and
our leadership should be aware this is our right,” said Hlatshwayo.

“We are not declaring war; this is a youth national council resolution. We
will persuade our leaders and tell them a peaceful and smooth transition in
the future can only be realised if the youths have practical experience

Hlatshwayo said youths are arguably the most visible demographic group in
the run-up to any election, but account for little in terms of
representation and only a quota system could redress this anomaly.

However Madzore said the youth assembly must be guided by party rules and
regulations which clearly state there would be no special treatment with
regards to criteria for candidate selection.

“The party is very clear on the rules and we have to follow party policy,”
said Madzore. “We do not run our association differently from the party so
those interested in contesting elections should work hard to battle it out
with those already in parliament.”

MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said there is no quota system policy in
the party and the youths should rally their supporters and openly contest in
the primaries.

“Our policy is that there is no quota system but the youths are free to
contest elections as long as they meet the criteria in the candidate
selection document,” said Mwonzora.

“Youths can demand special treatment but party rules will always prevail
over individual demands. Anyone who feels capable is free to contest. They
(youths)must fight for the seats.”

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Masvingo council woes: Zanu PF seeks political mileage

January 18, 2013 in Politics

THE Zanu PF Masvingo provincial executive is divided over whether to bail
out the beleaguered MDC-T- run council whose property was attached after
losing a US$3,5 million salary dispute against workers in the Labour Court.

Report by Staff Writer

The MDC-T- run Masvingo council was taken to court by the municipality
workers’ union after failing to pay its workforce.

Council, however, has no money and some of its assets have been attached.
Zanu PF sources confirmed there was an urgent meeting aimed at devising an
action plan to stop the auctioning of 43 council vehicles, among other
property, by the local deputy sheriff.

“We had a meeting in which we tried to come up with an action plan to bail
out the council but some members felt the MDC-T should be exposed for
failing to run urban councils,” said the source.

“We want the cars to be auctioned so that people can see how bad their
choice was in voting for the MDC. It is a good lesson and it is happening
when elections are around the corner.”

However, some senior Zanu PF provincial members suggested that the party
bails out council to prevent a complete collapse and then arrange a peaceful
demonstration in the city bemoaning lack of service delivery and
maladministration by the MDC-T.

If the council’s property is auctioned, the Masvingo local authority would
lose top-of-the-range vehicles ranging from the mayoral Mercedes Benz,
ambulances, refuse trucks, twin cabs for departmental heads and front end
loaders and graders, among others.

The attachment of council property is threatening to paralyse council work
and residents are living in fear of disease outbreaks after many went
through the festive season without running water. Refuse has also
accumulated to unbearable levels since garbage trucks were attached.

However Masvingo mayor Femias Chakabuda took a swipe at Zanu PF for playing
political games and pretending to be concerned.

“This is not a political matter and so they can keep their money,” said
Chakabuda. “In fact, the council has won the case to stop the auction. They
created these problems and they now want to pretend they can be of
assistance to the people. What is their interest in this matter?” he asked.

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Furore over youth quota directive

January 18, 2013 in News

“YOUTHS” in Zimbabwe have a chequered if not infamous role in the political
and socio-economic affairs of the country beginning with the overzealous,
communist-style Zanu PF youth brigades of the 1980s.

Report by Herbert Moyo

Prior to the 1985 elections, the youths, clad in their trademark green
shirts and khaki trousers, went on the rampage under the direction of Zanu
PF, meting out violence on those believed to be supporters of former
vice-president Joshua Nkomo’s party, PF Zapu.

Homes were burnt, mob beatings and murders were reported as the youths
responded to President Robert Mugabe’s alleged call to “go and uproot the
weeds from your gardens”.

In 2001, Zanu PF sought to change this violent image through the
introduction of the National Youth Service, purportedly to instil a “sense
of responsible citizenship among the youth” and prepare them for “the world
of work”.

“The youth service will provide opportunities for employment and
participation in development, contribute towards the eradication of poverty,
promote healthy lifestyles and personal well-being of the youths,” said the
late Border Gezi, who was the Youth, Gender and Employment Creation minister
at the inception of the controversial youth training service.

The youths, derisively dubbed “Green Bombers”, emerged from the training
camps only to enhance their notoriety by allegedly torturing, raping and
intimidating perceived opponents of Zanu PF, especially in the run-up to the
2002 presidential elections.

Now in 2013, Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment
minister Saviour Kasukuwere has come up with what could be a make-over plan
which he says would save the country’s youths and finally see them take
their rightful place in the socio-economic development of Zimbabwe.

Kasukuwere has crafted a directive compelling foreign-owned companies,
already forced to cede 51% of their stake to indigenous Zimbabweans, to have
a 25% youth representation on their boards of directors in line with the
contentious Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act. These youths must
be under the age of 35 years.

“This is a way to empower our youths and we want to ensure full compliance,”
Kasukuwere said this in Mt Darwin a fortnight ago. “I have noticed that the
youths have a tendency to assume (that) sitting on the boards of big
companies is a preserve of the older generation and by so doing they are
discriminating against themselves.”

On the face of it, this appears to be a noble move which could lead to
empowerment of the country’s youths, but that has been the case with many
other policies enunciated by the Zanu PF government since Independence and
as such the move has met with much scepticism.
It remains to be seen if the policy will be properly implemented by bringing
in the right mix of suitably qualified professionals free from the political
partisanship that has been the defining feature of Zanu PF-crafted policies.

Kasukuwere’s initiative resonates with the Institute of Directors of
Zimbabwe (IoDZ) and the Zimbabwe Leadership Forum’s call for new skills on
corporate boards to avoid recycling the same individuals.

IoDZ chairperson Johannes Mudzengerere said companies tend to look for the
“very few” well-known persons to sit on their boards.

“Having the same people on various boards will certainly limit the
effectiveness of boards as you are bound to have restricted skills,
increased conflict of interest and reduced independent judgment,”
Mudzengerere said.

Kasukuwere’s deputy Tongai Matutu of the MDC-T has given the proposal the
thumbs up describing it as “a noble plan that will facilitate the youth’s
participation in the economic affairs of the country provided they appoint
people with the technical know-how”.

Institute for a Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe public policy and
governance manager Jabusile Shumba welcomed the move as an initiative that
would ensure youths participate more effectively in national policy
processes and the laying of an important foundation for regeneration of
leadership in pursuit of national developmental aspirations.

“Zimbabwe has a highly youthful population constituting about 53% of the
total population,” said Shumba who also sits on the Zimbabwe Youth Council
(ZYC) board.

The ZYC is a quasi-government institution established by the Zimbabwe Youth
Council Act (Chapter 25:19) which advises government on youth matters.

Indeed, the youth can have a significant role to play in national processes
because, after all, the first mass political party, the Southern Rhodesia
African National Congress (SRANC) formed in 1957 was born out of the City
Youth League which had young firebrands in the mould of James Chikerema and
George Nyandoro.

The 1970s liberation war was fought by young men and women including the
likes of the late General Solomon Mujuru and Zanu PF secretary for women’s
affairs Oppah Muchinguri, culminating in the first independent Zimbabwe
cabinet featuring baby-faced Simba Makoni and present Vice-President Joice

Shumba’s optimism is however tempered by a caveat, born out of mistrust for
any policies manufactured in Zanu PF’s self-serving political laboratories.

“Empowerment is inherently a political process vulnerable to partisan
political manipulation,” warned Shumba. “This good idea can easily be
manipulated to advance partisan interests by rewarding violence merchants
ahead of merit in the appointment process.”

Shumba’s scepticism was shared by Dumisani Nkomo of Habakkuk Trust who said
Kasukuwere’s latest directive is part of Zanu PF’s patronage system to
accommodate party apologists and forestall potential backlash from the
youths by giving them “decorative positions in economic entities”.

“If we had a proper and functioning economy there would be no need for all
these so-called policy actions to empower the youths,” said Nkomo, who added
that lessons should be learnt from the then young entrepreneurs like Strive
Masiyiwa and Nigel Chanakira who succeeded in the corporate world without
the assistance of political patronage.

Pedzisayi Ruhanya of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute was more scathing,
describing Kasukuwere’s directive as a “mobilisation agenda to bring back
those youth brigades and Border Gezi groups ahead of elections with the lure
of cash and positions”.

Time will tell whether the country’s youths, with a reputation for thuggery
and violence under the tutelage of Zanu PF, would exchange these for suits,
seats and the sophistication of corporate boardrooms.

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More farmers take up tobacco farming

January 18, 2013 in Business

MORE Zimbabwean farmers have taken up tobacco growing in the current season,
as the golden leaf promises to fetch high prices on the international

Report by Taurai Mangudhla

Leading US-based farming publication, the Tobacco Farmer Newsletter (TFN),
recently noted a likely improvement in tobacco prices in 2013 as a result of
various market factors, including a deficit caused by poor to mediocre
quality of flue-cured tobacco in Brazil and the US in the previous two
successive seasons.

“Also, it may be that Brazil has hit a ceiling on the amount of
flavour-style flue-cured it can produce. If so, then increased demand for
flavour-style flue-cured will have to be met with increased production in
the US and Zimbabwe,” said TFN, adding tobacco buyers also indicated
optimism for the flue-cured market beyond the 2012 crop and were actively
seeking ways to retain current growers and increase production.

Flavour-style flue-cured tobacco is grown mainly in the US and Brazil, with
Zimbabwe re-emerging after the collapse of its agriculture sector following
its fast -track land reform of 2000.

The publication said consequently, global supplies of premium flue-cured
tobacco were currently low even though overall supplies were up. According
to TFN, there was an anticipated increase in demand for flue cured tobacco
mainly because of increased cigarette production in China.

“The global trend toward banning flavourings in cigarettes may increase the
amount of flavour-style flue-cured needed in blends to compensate for no

Last week, Zimbabwe’s Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) reported that
the country expected to produce 170 million kgs of tobacco in the current
season after 77 910 hectares of land had been put under the crop, 38% up
from 56 377 hectares last season.

TIMB CEO Andrew Matibiri said more than 65 000 farmers had registered to
grow and sell the lucrative crop this season compared to 34 673 last season.
Last year, Zimbabwe’s tobacco exports raked in US$771 million at an average
of US$5,94 per kg. The crop is expected to drive economic growth.

The World Bank recently said Zimbabwe’s economic crisis led to the collapse
of the agriculture sector which used to contribute 20,7 % of its GDP in the

While the sector is slowly recovering, there is much variation in the
recovery among commodities and farm types, the World Bank said.

“The 2009-2011 growth was led by tobacco, produced increasingly by
smallholders in new contract farming arrangements, and supported by high
international prices, with a strong performance of the cotton sector, where
higher prices have favourably acted on expanded contract farming
arrangements,” said the institution in its overview note on Zimbabwe’s
Growth Recovery.

Maize and poultry have also come close to recovery of pre-crisis production
levels while all other commodities remain far from recovery, with crops such
as wheat remaining a small fraction of peak 1990 levels due to poor access
to credit and erratic power supply.

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Government restructures POSB

January 18, 2013 in Business

PEOPLE’S Own Savings Bank (POSB) is headed for a fresh start after the
government recently approved restructuring proposals that will transform its
shareholding structure and lead to the possible listing of the bank on the
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, a cabinet official said.

By Staff Writer

In an exclusive interview with businessdigest this week, State Enterprises
and Parastatals minister Gorden Moyo said government approval had been
granted for a restructuring of the bank and its listing.

“Three key issues that need to be addressed are firstly that the POSB’s
original mandate of serving the grassroots people needs to be retained.
There is need for the country to have a bank that specifically caters for
the marginalised sectors of the economy, particularly the rural-based
population. POSB’s infrastructure and distribution network has that reach.
And that needs to be preserved,” Moyo said.

“Secondly, there was a proposal to introduce a commercial unit within POSB
that will very be competitive. This unit will aggressively engage with other
big banks in competing in the same space with them. To this end, POSB will
need to capacitated through an injection of capital and additional skills.”

He said this would necessitate the creation of a joint venture with an
appropriate local, regional or international partner.

“To this end, the agreed position is that government is prepared to
relinquish 49% shareholding in POSB to such an identified partner,” Moyo

“Government would need to amend the POSB Act to align with the new strategic
thinking,” he added

Detailed documents on the proposed plan, seen by businessdigest, show the
decision to engage a strategic partner after amending the POSB Act.
Officials preparing the restructuring memorandum made several
recommendations with four options:

“These options entail invoking Section 25 subsection (3) of the POSB Act
which provides for equity participation of up to 49% by the private players
in POSB. This would mean that POSB’s mandate would remain unchanged and also
the current corporate tax and statutory reserves exemptions would still

In this regard, it is recommended that the criteria for engaging a suitable
strategic partner should be biased towards the developmental and social
aspects of POSB mandates,” read part of the documents.

The minister however emphasised in order to attract a suitable partner who
is able to promote the current POSB mandate, several sections of the current
POSB Act had to be amended.

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Murowa pushes diamond output up 11%

January 18, 2013 in Business

Rio Tinto’s Murowa Diamonds production rose 11% to 98 000 carats in the
fourth quarter of 2012 compared to 88 000 carats in the same period in the
prior year, according to Rio Tinto’s production figures as at December 31,

Report by Taurai Mangudhla

Murowa’s annual production for the year stood at 313 000 carats, up 9% from
285 000 carats in 2011.

Diamond ore processed in the quarter amounted to 154 000 tonnes, bringing
the annual total to 542 000 tonnes.

The mine processed 126 000 tonnes in the first quarter of the year, 120 000
tonnes in the second quarter and 142 000 tonnes in the third quarter.

Rio Tinto is a leading international mining group headquartered in the UK,
combining Rio Tinto plc, a London and New York Stock Exchange-listed
company, and Rio Tinto Ltd, listed on the Australian Securities Exchange.

The global group owns Murowa jointly with RioZim Ltd, which accounts for the
balance of the shares. RioZim is an independent company listed on the
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.

According to Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere, Murowa is soon
expected to relinquish majority shareholding to Zimbabwean locals in line
with the country’s economic empowerment legislation.

According to media reports, Rio Tinto plans to cede 29% of its stake in the
diamond mine to Zimbabwean locals, where 10% would be transferred to a
community share ownership trust, another 10% to employees while the balance
will be given to the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund.

Murowa’s operations significantly contributed to the total group diamond
production which grew 12% to 1,3122 million carats.

Production at Rio Tinto’s wholly-owned Austalian operation, Argyle Mine grew
14% to 8,471 million carats, while the company’s 60%-owned Canadian
operation Diavik Mine’s production rose 8% to 4,338 million carats.

Group diamond output increased 9% year-on-year to 3,248 million carats in
the last quarter of 2012, with increases registered at all of its

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Electoral pact absolutely crucial

January 18, 2013 in Politics

LAST year I suggested that an electoral pact was imperative and inevitable.
Since then there has been heated debate over the issue.

Opinion by Dumisani Nkomo

If the two MDC formations (MDC-T under Morgan Tsvangirai and MDC under
Welshman Ncube) do not agree on such an arrangement, chances of them losing
to Zanu PF are quite high.

This arrangement would help in constructing a stable new economic and
political architecture in the post-Zanu PF era as the former ruling party
(Zanu PF) is unable and or unwilling to capture international support and
investor confidence.

The two MDCs should swallow their pride and look at the greater good for
most Zimbabweans and this I believe would be an electoral pact which would
enable them to field one candidate for the presidential elections and concur
on candidates for parliamentary and local government polls.

Political egos
The biggest impediment to an electoral pact between the two MDCs is not
ideological as the parties are two dominant and separate social democratic

In the current contestation, it is more about egos than anything else since
both formations want to prove that they have political muscle and support.
The MDC–T would like to prove once and for all that it is the most dominant
party by vanquishing the Ncube-led MDC and Zanu PF.

The MDC is keen to prove it has gained ground and is a kingmaker in
Zimbabwean politics.

In their ambitions the two parties are correct because political parties
exist to contest for power and not necessarily to share power. In normal
cases political parties can also exist to defend and advance specific
geo-political, socio-cultural, economic or environmental interests.

However, in the context of Zimbabwe such a political architecture is a
luxury we cannot afford and the political superstructure in Zimbabwe
provides no room for such luxuries either.

If the two parties continue to dilly dally Zanu PF and its leader President
Robert Mugabe will win the next elections, confining the two formations to
history as Zimbabwean politics in five years’ time may be quite different
from now with the possible emergence of strong alternative new political
factors, formations and voices, and the possibility of a reformed Zanu PF.
In essence this is the last chance for the MDC-T and Tsvangirai to win
elections and this could also be the last time for Ncube to maintain his
relevance to Zimbabwean politics.

The Zanu PF factor
In the same manner that the resurgence of Ncube’s MDC is undoubted, the
resurgence of Zanu PF is a political reality for the following reasons:

Apathy is likely to be a factor in the next elections as the electorate is
likely to have little motivation for voting. Voter turnout is likely to
dwindle as it has for the past three elections. The protest vote on the
other hand is unpredictable and may shrink. The protest vote has also been
affected by a massive exodus to the diaspora.

Second, while being quite suicidal for the economy the community share
ownership scheme and indigenisation programmes may get Zanu PF more votes,
especially in rural Mashonaland, Manicaland, Masvingo and a few pockets in

This, coupled with dents to the brand of Tsvangirai last year as a result of
well-publicised scandals surrounding his love life and policy
inconsistencies, could erode the MDC-T’s support .This does not however
automatically translate into support for Ncube in all cases, but rather
erosion of confidence in the whole voting and political process thus
contributing to apathy. This makes an electoral pact absolutely necessary as
both MDC formations could end up being the biggest losers.

The Ncube-led MDC has made a remarkable turnaround and is indeed a force to
reckon with but will not win the presidential or parliamentary elections. If
Zimbabweans are still motivated primarily by the desire to remove Mugabe and
Zanu PF, Ncube’s party would then become an unfortunate victim of broader
protest politics regardless of the quality of its policies and candidates.

Ncube will definitely make a mark on the southern part of the country but in
the broader scheme of political arithmetic this may present an advantage to
Mugabe and Zanu PF who will benefit from a split presidential vote and
splits in votes for parliamentary seats coupled with apathy.

For the Ndebeles in Matabeleland it is unacceptable for a Ndebele to be only
seen as a vice-president and not contest for the post of president, but in
the current scheme of things Ncube can still mount a formidable challenge in
2018 instead of going the “all-or-nothing” route. The MDC -T would also be
presented with a win-win situation as they need to win the presidential
election and secure a majority in parliament.

There is a lot of bitterness and acrimony between the two parties as a
result of the original split in 2006 and the failed 2008 agreement amongst
other things. When a husband and wife fight all they remember are each other’s
worst attributes and characteristics. In essence the two MDCs have more in
common than they realise and they both have more to gain from an electoral
pact. We need the intelligence and substance of Welshman Ncube as well as
the charisma and brand of Morgan Tsvangirai.

I am confident that the two leaders and their parties will show the nation
that they are true national leaders with the people at heart. What they are
doing now is like the old story of little children who fight over what they
would do with money were they to pick it up! The MDCs must grow up.

Nkomo is the chief executive officer of Habakkuk Trust, activist and
spokesperson of the Matabeleland Civil Society Forum. He writes in his
personal capacity. Email: or follow his blog

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Disregard sweet-talking Mugabe

January 18, 2013 in Opinion

WHEN in the company of fellow heads of state or foreign dignitaries
President Robert Mugabe likes to give the impression that while things might
not be going swimmingly well for Zimbabwe, the unity government has been
quite a success and parties are working closely to solve the country’s
debilitating problems.

Editor’s Memo with Stewart Chabwinja

However, when his guard is down Mugabe is wont to slam the unity government
as an unlawful “creature” foisted on the people, whose abject failure
prompts hasty recourse to polls.

On Tuesday, in the presence of outgoing African Union chairperson, Benin
President Boni Yayi at State House, the diplomatic mood moved Mugabe.

He gave the impression parties to the tripartite unity government had
somehow found each other and realised they have a common destiny despite
their differences.

In a rather euphemistic tone Mugabe said: “In my country, yes, we have also
had divisions, political divisions, but I am glad that we all appreciate
that whatever political affiliations we belong to, we are Zimbabweans.

“… I think our elections are going to be very friendly elections in the
sense that they will be a political fight, but it will be a fight in the
knowledge that we belong to each other.”

Hopefully Mugabe’s opponents will not be gullible enough to swallow the
dissembling “friendly elections” baloney, patently packaged to lull them
into a sense of complacency ahead of elections widely expected this year.

It would be the height of folly for anyone, given the country’s electoral
record and Zanu PF’s humbling setbacks in the 2008 polls, to expect peaceful
and friendly elections when so much of the future of Zanu PF — with the
handy state apparatus at its disposal — rides on the outcome of the
anticipated plebiscite.

The elections are also a must-win for the party’s rivals, the MDCs, but
violence has always been part of Zanu PF’s election armoury, making the
elections a potential powder keg.

In the 2008 polls, Zanu PF surrendered its parliamentary majority for the
first time since Independence in 1980, while Mugabe lost to Morgan
Tsvangirai in the presidential poll, but the MDC leader fell short of the
requisite majority.

There’s no doubt Zanu PF is girding its loins for a tough battle and triumph
at the polls by means fair or foul, making the prospects of Zimbabwe’s
maiden “friendly elections” extremely remote. We have reported on Zanu PF’s
poll preparations which include acquisition of new vehicles, military
presence in target areas, wooing of youths and churches, stalling of Global
Political Agreement reforms and inflammatory remarks by security chiefs
pledging allegiance to Zanu PF.

That hardly smacks of a party helping lay out the groundwork for “friendly
elections”, does it?

Given the events of the 2009 presidential polls when the military intervened
to save an embattled Mugabe through a vicious and bloody campaign, a
peaceful election would require a damascene transformation on the part of
Zanu PF.

Certainly, it will take much more than sharing tea with Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai!

As if Mugabe’s pretensions needed exposing, the Copac constitution-making
exercise, a year-and-a-half behind schedule despite gobbling up about
US$150,2 million, hit another snag on Wednesday as selfish party agendas
continue to hold sway. Talks have yet again broken down, as what should be a
nation-rallying exercise continues to be bogged down by parochial party

The stalled new governance charter is emblematic proof that, contrary to
Mugabe’s assertions, unity government parties remain perched on opposite

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Making a living in the ‘informal sector’

January 18, 2013 in Opinion

MILLIONS of people in Zimbabwe make their living in the informal sector.

Candid Comment with Eddie Cross

Those of us who live and work in the formal sector have little or no idea
what it is like to live in this “other world”. There are some incidents in
my life that illustrate what it is like to be dependent on the informal
sector to make a living.

I was driving back to Harare from Gaborone when I offered a lift to some
Zimbabwean women. Three women came with their huge bags containing their
purchases and I put one in front with me and the other two in the open back.

The lady in front was from Highfield in Harare.

When we got to Bulawayo they asked me to stop at a service station so they
could use the toilet. When they came out of the toilet, I noticed that the
lady who was sitting in front with me was now distinctly more slender.

She was now carrying what turned out to be 25kg of machine tools destined
for an engineering company in Harare. These had been held in a kind of
shoulder harness that she had under her dress.

She saw my expression and exclaimed, “At least we are not thieves”.
She explained that she did this trip every two weeks and had a list of
clients in Harare for which she was known as a “runner”.

Whatever they needed she purchased and smuggled. I took her to her residence
in Highfield and found that she had several children dependent on her.

The other glimpse I had was last year when I visited Beitbridge with a team
from parliament to try and sort out the chaos there. After our business,
another MP and I from Bulawayo decided to hitch a lift home rather than
return to Harare.

We boarded a kombi from Johannesburg and my colleague chose to sit with the
driver while I was given a seat at the back next to an attractive young

We got talking and she told me she was a “commercial sex worker” in
Johannesburg and she spoke quite openly about her life there. She was going
home to see her family.

We went through eight roadblocks on the way to Bulawayo with my colleague
flashing her parliament tag at every one of them and we were immediately
waived through.

When we got to Bulawayo the driver said: “You can come with me anytime; you
saved me at least R600 today in bribes on the road.”
There are no safety nets in Zimbabwe; if you do not work you starve.
In a country where the formal sector has collapsed and now only employs less
than one person in 10, this means 90% of every community has to make their
living in the informal sector.

How they do that is infinitely different. Some are involved in illegal
activities and others marginally legal. Life is hard and when things go
wrong the consequences are immediate.

But they make their way with humour and ingenuity, hard work and effort.
Helping them make a better living with security and in a way that preserves
their dignity is one of the great tasks of African governments.

Cross is MDC-T MP for Bulawayo South.

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Mujuru’s epiphany as elections loom

January 18, 2013 in Opinion

President Mugabe on Tuesday said the forthcoming African Union (AU) summit
should discuss the appointment of a President of Africa to foster unity
among Africans.

Column by MuckRaker

No guesses who Mugabe would want to assume that position!
Mugabe told visiting Benin President Boni Yayi that problems facing Africa
such as conflicts can be averted only if the continent is united under the
1963 banner adopted by the then Organisation of African Unity founding

However, outgoing AU chairman Yayi parted from Mugabe’s hymn sheet,
defending the body’s decision to seek Nato’s intervention in Mali.
“The issue of Mali is very critical . . . you are right we did not succeed
to resolve the issue. Not only to Bamako, we have discordance in the
government,” Yayi said.

“As Ecowas, we didn’t succeed to resolve the issue. The rebels, as a result
of religious intolerance, are killing people. They cut the hands, arms and
the legs, everything, the women, the youths and so on. It is a gross human
rights violation, very critical. They are moving from the north heading
towards Bamako.”
Hail the King of Africa

Yayi said if the rebels occupied Bamako it would not only be catastrophic
for Mali and the sub-region, but that would affect the whole world.

That is unlikely to have gone down well with Mugabe who is still
inconsolable over his chum Muammar Gaddafi’s demise following Nato’s
intervention in Libya.

Mugabe’s rants against Nato intervention go against the sentiments of even
the Malians themselves who were relieved to finally see action being taken
to stop the rebels in their tracks.

“The right way was to ask for assistance from Nato. We are ready to go to
Mali to help our brothers,” Yayi said, rubbing it in.
Mugabe seems to have taken on Gaddafi’s mantle after accepting the deposed
Libyan strongman’s black and gold gown with which some Kenyan chiefs
declared Gaddafi “King of Africa”.

Paul Kamlesh Pattni the chairman of the house of traditional leaders in
Kenya had said: “Mugabe stands for African leaders and the rights of
Africans as a whole. We saw it fit to give him this gown which was given to
us by Gaddafi before his death and we saw it fit to give it to Mugabe
because he stands for Africans.”
Gaddafi had been declared “King of Africa” six months before he was deposed
and it seems Mugabe has taken over. That can’t be a good omen.

Mujuru’s epiphany

Meanwhile Vice-President Joice Mujuru was quoted in the Sunday Mail saying
Mugabe was anointed by God to lead Zimbabwe at the age of 10 and those
fighting to replace him are wasting their time.

Church leaders are anointed by God, she said, making them irreplaceable.

“People are wasting their time by opposing President Mugabe,” she said. “It
was prophesised way back in 1934 when he was only 10 years old that he was
going to lead the country. How can a normal person challenge such a leader?”

There was nothing wrong with people having ambitions, she continued, and
discussing politics with their wives.

“They should not however tamper with the presidency. It is sacrosanct. These
positions come from God, they do not just come.”
So it is not permissible to challenge Mugabe’s current position because he
is divinely anointed and therefore irreplaceable?
Unfortunately the events of 1934 have not been published and are therefore
not fully understood. We are only hearing about them for the first time.

Roping in the divine

How does Mujuru know that Mugabe was anointed to lead the country at the age
of 10? Was there a divine revelation of some sort that we are only now
hearing about? And what about other nationalist leaders such as Herbert
Chitepo, Josiah Tongogara, Leopold Takawira and Edgar Tekere?

Were they not also the beneficiaries of divine revelation because, after
all, they were prominent in the Zanu leadership as was her husband?

Perhaps Mai Mujuru could spell things out for us. Are Zanu PF party members
ever going to be permitted to challenge Mugabe for office or is it
permanently forbidden because of a divine forecast of 70 years ago to a
Zvimba goatherd which nobody has heard of until now? And of course this has
nothing to do with forthcoming elections? Most people –– inside and outside
the party –– are likely to see Mujuru’s remarks as giving a hostage to

This is how they run a country, people will say. They will point to the
comments as illustrative of the party’s growing desperation when it starts
inventing hagiographies of its leader!

Zanu PF mixed signals

We were interested in Patrick Chinamasa’s statement that land guaranteed by
Bippas could still be acquired by the state.
Herbert Murerwa said recently that foreign-owned land would not be seized.
But then Chinamasa weighed in last week to say the government could do what
it liked so long as compensation was full and fair.
Fascinating isn’t it how Zimbabwe sends such mixed signals to the rest of
the world. No wonder investors are not exactly lining up to rush in!

Meanwhile, let’s see what fate befalls Zimplats after its capitulation to
Saviour Kasukuwere and his circus.

Like fathers like sons

Regular readers of this column may recall our remarks some months ago about
the child parliament. The institution seemed too close to the one-time
ruling party, we said, with all those uniforms and marching around. Indeed
some “officers” “put on” old-style badges and paraphernalia.

We were not surprised therefore that some of these senior “officers” were
bullying juniors back at their school.

NewsDay reported last Friday that Form 1 boys were subject to four hours of
corporal punishment when they angered their seniors by making derogatory
remarks about them. They were made to kneel for four hours. Parents
subsequently complained.

But what struck us was the way in which the bullies, who we gather had party
connections, were expected to bully juniors in the same way their dads bully
political opponents.

The fruit, it seems, does not fall far from the tree!

Money doctor

The garrulous Philip Chiyangwa was at it again this week declaring he is a
“money doctor and champion of economic empowerment for the poor and

“I am Dr Phillip Chiyangwa, doctor of money. Do you know I am a doctor?”
Chiyangwa declared in Chinhoyi where he launched a bereavement scheme “for
the poor”, NewsDay reports.

Members of the burial society would only pay US$1 monthly subscription and
have their entire families covered by the funeral policy, Chiyangwa claimed.

We are sure Chiyangwa’s long-suffering workers will beg to differ. Chiyangwa
has been accused by teachers at his private school, Divaris Makaharis of
using “bullying tactics” to stop them from demanding payment of their
outstanding salaries.

However, in Chinhoyi, Chiyangwa was pledging to bankroll income-generating
projects initiated by Zanu PF supporters.

Despite being very articulate in making promises, Chiyangwa is surprisingly
mum on fulfilling them. He has suddenly become quiet on his pledge in April
to donate US$1,6 million to the University of Zimbabwe.

He had also promised to bring “empowerment to the ordinary man’s door-step”
in Mabvuku saying he was “exploring” the idea of assisting emerging
businesspeople in Mabvuku with collateral.
Three months on Chiyangwa is still to emerge from his expedition.

Dubious credentials

Chiyangwa, we are told, was last month conferred with an honorary Doctor of
Philosophy degree in Business Leadership (honoris causa) by St Linus
International University in recognition of his “business acumen and sterling
contribution to society”. St Linus University, an online institute, is
apparently headquartered in the Dominican Republic although it is registered
in the Philippines.

Much like Gideon Gono’s Atlantic International University, St Linus
International University’s credentials are open to question.
Juju faces the music

Poor old Julius Malema! The disgraced former ANCYL president is now being
deserted by his friends who he says treat him like a leper.
“I have lost a lot of friends. I am one person who believes that those who
leave you during difficult moments were never with you even before,” Malema
whined in an interview with the Rapport and City Press newspapers.

“We’ve seen friends speaking in tongues and some are even so ashamed to be
seen with you in public because to them you look like you’ve got leprosy and
some don’t even take your calls. If they do, they are very impatient.”

Malema isn’t helping the situation by lashing out at erstwhile comrades like
his successor Ronald Lamola who he has called a “traitor” and “sellout”.

He claims to now spend his days tending his cattle and growing cabbages and
tomatoes on a farm near Polokwane in his home province of Limpopo.

At least he gets to work for a change!

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Narrowing Zim’s trade deficit

January 18, 2013 in Opinion

THE trade deficit, referring to the differential between the total value of
a country’s imports and that of its exports, has exacerbated Zimbabwe’s
international debts.

Column by Erich Bloch

In a recent review of the economy, Finance minister Tendai Biti stated that
for the 11 months to November, 2012, the trade deficit amounted to US$3,58
billion, as against a deficit for the seven months to July, 2012 of
marginally in excess of US$ one billion.

Thus, in the last four months of the review-period, imports exceeded exports
by approximately US$2,5 billion, or an average monthly deficit in that four
month period of approximately US$600 million.

This is an untenable situation, not only contributing substantially to the
emaciated state of the economy, but short-circuiting economic recovery.

The ongoing accumulation of debt is also a barrier to the procurement of
substantive foreign direct investment (FDI), and lines of credit, essential
as stimulants for economic upturn and employment creation.
The minister’s economic review indicated the highest expenditure is made in
the procurement of fuel, raw materials, intermediate goods for industry, and
diverse consumer goods.

These and, to a lesser extent, other imports exceeded US$7 billion in the
period of January 1 to November 15, 2012, against imports of US$5,5 billion
in the corresponding period of 2011, representing increased imports of
almost 37%.

In the same period, exports amounted to US$3,42 billion, against US$3,12
billion in the same period in 2011, an increase in exports of less than 10%.
The review noted the mining sector exports represented 61,8% of total
exports, with tobacco constituting 21,8%, other agricultural commodities
9,2%, manufacturing 6,7%, and horticultural products and hunting trophies
comprising the remaining one-half percent. Of the mining exports, the major
contributants were platinum and diamonds.

It is economically unsustainable to have imports markedly exceeding export
revenues, and it is long overdue for Zimbabwe to increase exports.

Concurrently local industries must start producing currently imported goods,
thereby diminishing our over-reliance on imports. Many measures and actions
which to increase exports and decrease imports can be put in place. Such
measures and actions include:
l Resurrecting agricultural production. At one time, agriculture was the
solid foundation of the economy, not only producing most basic needs for the
populace, but exporting in such magnitude that Zimbabwe was known as the
region’s “breadbasket”.

Concurrently, it produced vast quantities of tobacco, cotton, and citrus,
among others.

Now it produces only a quarter of the national maize needs, and an even
lesser output of other products. Livestock is imported from Botswana,
whereas at one time Zimbabwe was a major meat exporter. Much of the
vegetables, fruit, and poultry we consume are now imported.

To enable farmers to access their funding requirements and regain
substantive productivity, either title deeds must be restored over rural
lands, or 99-year leases must be restructured to accord them collateral
value status. Concurrently, in recognition of the intensity of global
climate change, and inadequate and non-timeous rainfalls, government needs
to be more proactive in the development of dams and irrigation systems.

l Notwithstanding that there has been considerable growth in Zimbabwe’s
mining sector ensuring that the trade deficit is lowered, the potential for
that sector to increase outputs is immense.

However, although Zimbabwe is benefitting from the rising volumes of mining
and the consequential increases in the exports of minerals, the prospects of
even greatergrowth of the mining sector are considerable. To turn such
prospects into reality, much greater FDI than presently is forthcoming is
needed. However, it will only be forthcoming when potential investors are
confident of investment security.

Zimbabwe must demonstrate it will incontrovertibly honour its Bilateral
Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements (Bippas).

It must realistically restructure indigenisation and economic empowerment
laws, and not levy excessive, internationally incompatible taxes, royalties,
levies and licence fees. It must also ensure consistently available,
reliable infrastructural services; especially energy supplies.

l Government needs to ensure a speedy and comprehensive recovery of the
manufacturing sector to ensure it once again provides products presently
being imported and generate exports.

The considerable volumes of manufacturing sector production and exports in
the 1980s, and for much of the 1990s, is irrefutable evidence industrial
operations can contribute to the economy, and especially so where such
operations are value-addition oriented to Zimbabwean primary products.
However, restoring wellbeing to the manufacturing sector requires positive,
comprehensive and urgent action by government.

First and foremost, almost all enterprises are in critical need of
recapitalisation, having lost most of their operational capital resources
during the hyperinflation era of 2008 and thereafter because of operational

The concept of the Distressed Industries and Marginalised Areas Fund (Dimaf)
was highly commendable, albeit tragically belated. But the reality is that
Dimaf, as presently structured, cannot be the stimulant of major
manufacturing sector recovery.

Funding for Dimaf is a paltry US$70 million, much of which not yet
available, whereas a substantive industrial recovery needs in excess of US$1
billion. Government does not have such money but should source the needed
funding from bodies such as the African Development Bank, African Export and
Import Bank, Development Bank of Southern Africa, and Industrial Development
Corporation of Southern Africa.

Concurrently, Dimaf must facilitate enhanced accessibility to its funding on
terms which practically recognise the needs of the intending borrowers.

At the same time, government must urgently address the reintroduction of
export incentives, and come up with realistic import duties in order to
level the competitive playing field between locally-manufactured products
and those emanating from countries excessively subsidising and incentivising
their exports.

Simultaneously, import duties need to be realistically reduced on imported
manufacturing inputs, and infrastructural service delivery must be
substantially and rapidly enhanced.

These are but a few of the actions that government could, and should,
vigorously pursue, in order to reduce Zimbabwe’s crippling trade deficit,
whilst simultaneously contributing to economic recovery.

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Land grabs: The new ‘hard work’

January 18, 2013 in Opinion

YESTERDAY Zimbabwe woke up to disturbing news that President Robert Mugabe’s
wife, Grace, had seized an estate owned by ZSE-listed Interfresh Holdings
backed by a piece of paper signed by Mashonaland Central governor Martin
Dinha, a lawyer by profession, known as an offer letter.

Zimbabwe Independent Editorial

The occupation curiously came at a time when Agriculture minister Herbert
Murerwa earlier this month said government would stop seizing land protected
under Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements. Although
Interfresh is not protected under bilateral laws, it is a public company
owned by black Zimbabwean shareholders.

Though the news may come as a shock for many, it provides part of the
missing jigsaw after Dinha, during the official opening of the Amai Mugabe
Junior School in Mazowe last week, said more land would be made available to
the first lady for her orphanage.

For a country desperately in need of foreign direct investment, such blatant
disregard for the sanctity of property rights, which Mugabe once said should
be respected, is destructive and retrogressive behaviour by those who, after
years of running down the country’s economy, should be atoning for their
destructive policies by crafting policies to lure foreign investors.

This brazen violation of other citizens’ property rights further sends
chills down the spines of already unnerved investors. The occupation of the
farm puts a damper on Mugabe and government’s commitment to make Zimbabwe a
safe investment destination where property rights are sacrosanct,
particularly at a time the economy’s outlook is looking gloomy with GDP
growth expected to be lower than last year.

Although it has not been confirmed that the first lady wants to turn this
productive land into an orphanage, her actions have triggered questions
about the presidential family’s multiple-farm ownership in the wake of proof
that Mugabe owns various pieces of land around Mazowe.

Whenever a farm is occupied in the Mazowe area, the speculation is always
that the first lady is involved. Elsewhere, this would be a scandal of
ernomous proportions.

The latest move also brings to the fore the question; just how many farms
does the first family need? Elsewhere in this paper, we list some of the
land the Mugabes have reportedly seized. The case of former Standard
Chartered Bank CEO Washington Matsaira, which got little publicity, quickly
springs to mind. It’s a sad story of a banker with title deeds to his land
being forced to sell by the most powerful family in the country and watching
his investment go without payment.

Ben Hlatshwayo, a judge in the High Court, was forced to take legal action a
few years ago against the first lady after she had occupied his farm. The
dispute only ended after an out-of- court settlement, but the judge lost his

Perhaps Hlatshwayo aptly captured the occupation of his farm by the first
lady in court papers where he reportedly said the “unlawful conduct” by
Gushungo Holdings, the Mugabes’ holding company, clearly had “no lawful
basis for such interference, which conduct, by its very nature, amounts to

And a pertinent question here: The first lady likes to expound upon the
virtues of hard work. What hard work is there in seizing somebody else’s
property without batting an eyelid?

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