Njabulo Ncube Chief Political Reporter
Hotel extravagance embarrasses presidency
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has summoned Matabeleland North governor, Thokozani
Mathuthu, to explain her prolonged stay at a three-star Bulawayo hotel - an
unnecessary indulgence that has cost the overburdened taxpayer nearly $2
Mathuthu's predilection for luxury, at a time when the government is
attempting to right serious expenditure overruns blamed for the burgeoning
fiscal deficits, has greatly embarrassed President Mugabe and his two
Vice-Presidents, Joseph Msika and Joice Mujuru.
Sources said President Mugabe, who is expected to read the riot act to
Mathuthu, summoned the Matabeleland North governor after revelations
surfaced of her unseemly extravagance, which stretched over eight months, at
a time when two-thirds of the country's population is wallowing in poverty.
"The story helped in disclosing the incident and the President is acting,"
said an impeccable source.
The source was, however, not sure exactly when the governor would meet the
Mathuthu was appointed to the post of provincial governor in April last
year, replacing Obert Mpofu, who became the Minister of Industry and
Mpofu, who was governor of the province from 2000 until his election as
legislator for Bubi-Umguza in March last year, stayed at his own house in
one of Bulawayo's posh suburbs from where he was able to drive everyday to
the government's Mhlahlandlela Building, where the governor's offices are
But since Mathuthu's appointment, the government has been forking out about
$6 million per night for bed and breakfast, according to a privately-owned
Apart from the $6 million, Mathuthu spent an average of $1.6 million a day
for lunch and dinner, which meant that if she started living at the hotel in
May after her appointment, her eight months in the lap of luxury could have
gobbled nearly $2 billion from the fiscus.
Mathuthu's office yesterday said the governor was not available for comment
as she was in Tsholotsho, about 110 kilometres outside Bulawayo, on
Ironically, Tsholotsho was the venue of a controversial meeting that
subsequently claimed the scalps of six ZANU PF provincial chairmen, who had
gathered there to plot how to stop Mujuru's ascendancy to the presidium.
Presidential spokesman George Charamba could not comment, saying he was on
Sources said while investigations were underway to ascertain the actual
number of days the governor had lived at the hotel, it was common knowledge
she lived at the hotel most of the time with her husband despite having a
house in Bulawayo's Njube suburb. Although it could not be ascertained if
the Mathuthus own the house, close associatesto said the governor, whose
rural home is in Hwange, about 300 kilometers from Bulawayo, has a farm near
the colliery town.
Felix Njini Chief Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE'S mining sector has slipped in international ratings with
international investors reluctant to invest in the country, citing political
instability, lack of security and policy inconsistencies among other issues.
In a 2004/5 mining survey conducted by the Canadia-based Fraser Institute,
Zimbabwe is ranked last, with a score of 7.6 against Nevada, United States,
which has the highest score of 95.2.
The policy potential index measures the effects of government policies
including uncertainty concerning the administration, interpretation and
enforcement of existing regulations, environmental regulations, regulatory
duplication and inconsistencies, taxation, uncertainty concerning native
land claims, political stability and security among other things.
Other regional African countries in the survey are Zambia, South Africa,
Botswana, Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).
The Institute said Zimbabwe's last score of 7.6 is the 'lowest score
recorded in the last four years.' Other countries whose rankings have
bottomed out include the DRC, Indonesia, Russia, Bolivia and Venezuela.
In the survey, 44 percent mining and exploration companies executives
interviewed said they would not pursue investment in Zimbabwe because of its
policies on administration, interpretation and enforcement of existing
regulations while 11 percent cited this as a strong deterrent to investment.
On regulatory duplication and inconsistencies, 39 percent of mining
executives interviewed said they would not invest in Zimbabwe due to this
factor while 11 percent cited the factor as a strong deterrent to
One area where Zimbabwe ranks poorly is on its taxation policies, with 21
percent saying they would not come to invest while 21 percent cited this as
a strong deterrent to investment.
"In terms of repatriating profits, Zimbabwe and South Africa have severe
(forex) foreign exchange regulations," said an unnamed manager of an
More than 28 percent of those interviewed also said they would not pursue
exploration in Zimbabwe due to uncertainty regarding native land claims.
Mining executives expressed strong reservations about coming to Zimbabwe due
to lack of political stability with 67 percent saying they would not pursue
investment, the survey reveals.
"Zimbabwe (is troubled by) no respect for rule of law," a president of an
exploration company is quoted as saying in the survey.
Zimbabwe's image has also been heavily dented with investors expressing
concern over their security while in the country. A stronger majority (57
percent) of those interviewed said they would not investment due to this
factor while 30 percent cited this element as a strong deterrent to
"Zimbabwe (has) terrorist activity and expropriation," said an unnamed
president of an exploration firm.
While most mining executives interviewed expressed reservations about
investing in the country, countries such as Zambia and Botswana have
attracted favourable ratings with investors citing favourable investment
Zambia for instance is being cited as one of the 'most stable countries in
the Southern African region' amid reports that the country attracted more
than US$1 billion in mining investment from 1995 to 2004.
Copper production in Zimbabwe's northern neighbour has increased by 55
percent over 2000 production figures and is projected to increase by more
than 200 percent by the end of 2007, said a report in the African Mining
Quarterly, published in Australia.
Zambia produced 550 000 tonnes of copper in 2005 and is expected to produce
more than 600 000 tonnes this year.
The country's lawmakers have invited the mining investor world to take up
the cudgels of opening that country's mineral wealth as Zambia seeks to
exploit the high metal price regime on the international markets.
Zimbabwe's image was dented in the international arena following
controversial expropriation of white-owned farms for redistribution to
landless blacks. The country hosts some of the world's richest strikes of
platinum group of metals (PGM), gold, ferrochrome, diamonds, nickel, natural
gas and uranium which is not yet being mined.
The country has also come under the spotlight for its controversial property
rights record. The mining sector, in particular, has been jittery on recent
hazy government intentions to localise ownership of mineral wealth.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
400 jobs set to go in exercise
ZIMBABWE'S troubled national airline Air Zimbabwe is to retrench 20 percent
of its workforce, the largest number of jobs lost in the history of the
airline, in another clear testimony of mismanagement having gone awry at the
Informed sources disclosed that the retrenchment exercise, which is yet to
be announced to the employees, will initially trim 400 jobs out of the
airline's 2 000 plus staff complement amid reports that the redundancies
could be increased as the board moves to stem financial haemorrhaging at the
Although officials at the airline remained tight-lipped on the pending job
cuts The Financial Gazette is reliably informed that the airline will make a
formal announcement next week .
Sources said the retrenchment measure was in compliance with a
cabinet-approved turnaround programme meant to streamline the airline's
bloated structure, reposition it to viability and grow its operations to the
levels of other elite airlines.
They said the airline's determination to lay off workers is influenced by
the continued ballooning of its foreign currency liabilities, which include
meeting its bloated wage bill and expenses of running regional offices.
In November, the airline took its first step towards re-alignment with the
closure of four regional offices and one in the Far East after noting the
continued decline in business.
The airline, which has been battered by successive years of
maladministration, is also reported to have considered the cost of keeping
the offices operational vis-a-vis the size of business it was getting.
Insiders at the airline also disclosed that the board of directors was
considering to once gain extend its begging bowl to the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) for a financial handout to meet the retrenchment costs.
Air Zimbabwe, which for years has failed to turn around its fortunes, has
survived on assistance from the central bank. Only recently the RBZ bailed
out the airline from an embarrassing expulsion from the International Air
Transport Association (IATA) after it failed to raise subscription fees.
Yesterday, board chairman Mike Bimha, who is attempting to steer the sinking
Air Zimbabwe ship to safe waters, could not rule out redundancies in
executing the ambitious turnaround plan.
"Just like any other turnaround programme you look at your structure because
it is the one that supports strategy," Bimha said in a terse response.
Although Harare has adopted a Look East policy, it is yet to harvest the
benefits of the refocus from its traditional tourist source markets in
Europe and the Unites States.
Owing to extended periods of mismanagement and undercapitalisation the
national flag carrier, which is struggling to shrug off the inefficiency
associated with state-owned enterprises, has been hit by a cocktail of
tribulations which include a sharp fall in passenger numbers.
The airline also owes creditors billions of dollars and its managing
director, Tendai Mahachi, is currently on suspension and under probe.
Late last year the airline broke aviation records by cruising more than 6
000 kilometres with a lone passenger in its maiden trip to Dubai.
Felix Njini Chief Reporter
SUSPENDED Chitungwiza executive mayor Misheck Shoko has charged that Local
Government Minister Ignatious Chombo crippled urban councils to facilitate
the imposition of ZANU PF functionaries.
In an urgent chamber application in the High Court challenging his
suspension from the municipality last month, Shoko cited Chombo and the
Chitungwiza municipality as first and second respondents.
Shoko - voted into office in 2002 on an MDC ticket - argued that his
suspension was unlawful and was undertaken without consultation, in
violation of the law.
The urgent application, filed on Tuesday, seeks a court order to compel
Chombo to reverse the suspension.
"The first respondent's actions were grossly unreasonable, were motivated by
political malice and capriciousness and were done when no reasonable grounds
existed justifying invocation of Section 54 (2) of the Urban Councils Act
Chapter 29:15," said Shoko in an affidavit.
The embattled Chitungwiza mayor accused the local government minister, seen
as waging a war of attrition against all local authorities run and
controlled by the MDC, of orchestrating a plan to hound him out of office by
denying him a salary increase and unnecessarily intervening in council
He said officials from Chombo's ministry openly threatened him after they
had summoned him to the minister's office where they ordered him to withdraw
the suspension of Chitungwiza Town Clerk Simbarashe Mudunge.
"Chombo actually said to me 'I want you to know that I am more powerful than
you are. This is an issue between ZANU PF and MDC, you will soon know who
has the real power'."
The MDC executive mayor further alleges that Chombo would sometimes cut fuel
supplies to Chitungwiza in a bid to cripple the council's operations.
Chombo has bulldozed his way in all opposition run municipalities, which he
accuses of mismanagement. He has removed from office elected Harare's first
executive mayor, Elias Mudzuri and replaced him with a commission run by
officials aligned to ZANU PF.
This month another commission, comprising of handpicked ruling party
officials was appointed to run Mutare following the suspension of elected
MDC mayor Misheck Kagurabadza and 17 councillors.
Stanley Kwenda Own Correspondent
Site still being cleared two years after proposal
THERE is continuing doubt over the government's commitment to the
construction of the proposed Lupane State University, which is yet to take
shape two years after the gazetting of the University Bill, which paved the
way for its establishment.
The university has already appointed its initial staff and was supposed to
enrol the first group of students last year in August presumably after the
construction of the university's key facilities such as the administration
block, staff houses, students' hostels and the pioneering agriculture
China First Meteorological Company, which was awarded the tender to build
the university, is still clearing the construction site, located a few
kilometres from Lupane Business Centre in Matabeleland North along the
Bulawayo-Victoria Falls road.
Construction work has been affected by the incessant fuel shortages and
budgetary constraints. Last year in April the project was allocated $3
billion under the Reserve Bank Public Sector Investment Facility and it also
received $36 billion in the 2004/05 budget, which is a drop in the ocean
considering the nature of the project. The university's planning committee
could not reveal how much it was allocated for the project from treasury in
this year's budget.
The Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education, Stan Mudenge, however,
assured parliament last year that the university would soon admit its first
group of students.
"To date, the work completed includes the appointment of initial staff,
development of educational materials to be used in the first programmes to
be offered, identification of facilities and acquisition of materials," he
Despite the assurance, only heavy earth-moving machinery and a huge
billboard inscribed with the university name are the only visible landmarks
The university will have a bias towards agriculture-based studies such as
livestock production, veterinary medicine, wildlife protection and soil
The proposal for the establishment of the university was put forward during
the 2002 presidential election by Jonathan Moyo, who became the prime mover
of the project. The university is currently operating from the National
University of Science and Technology (NUST) in Bulawayo under the
directorship of Dr Dean Bhala, a former Dean of Applied Sciences at NUST.
His deputy, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, told the Financial Gazette this week that the
construction work has been affected by water problems in the region.
"Lat year we had some water shortage problems but these have since been
rectified as some boreholes have been sunk and water is now available. Civil
works should be completed soon and the actual building will then begin,"
He also revealed that government would soon establish state universities in
all the country's provinces.
He said, "There was a time when the government was not sensitive to
developments in Matabeleland but the building of the Lupane University
demonstrates that the voice of the people has been heard."
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Reporter
CLUTCHING an overladen satchel from which a worn-out blanket protrudes, a
creased cardboard box and plastic sheeting, Zvisinei Matsapa wonders around
with her portable "bedroom suite".
Close to her vegetable produce lie a grimy bottle and a battered plate. The
heavens have just opened up at City Sports Centre grounds, less than a
kilometre from central Harare, and Matsapa is soaking in the summer rains
pounding the city as a consequence of the resolution by the commission
supposed to be running the affairs of the city to relocate trading from the
popular Mbare Musika.
Matsapa and her counterparts have to brave the elements, quietly cursing
about the lack of official foresight that has brought about her current
predicament. Just selling her produce in January, when consumer spending is
traditionally at a nadir, is challenging enough.
Matsapa's plight - shared by hundreds of other fresh produce traders from
all corners of the country - brings back memories of the shelter crisis
spawned by the government blitz on people's homes in 2005. The vendors'
tear-jerking predicament has been triggered by the abrupt closure of Mbare
Musika as the authorities try to combat the spread of cholera, which has
claimed several lives in the capital in recent weeks.
Vendors and farmers from Murehwa, Honde Valley and Uzumba-Maramba Pfungwe,
among other places, have been angered by the precipitous action and are
evidently not impressed by the promised relocation to a built-up location in
the strategic suburb of Mbare.
They protest at the unsanitary conditions they have to put up with at the
"new market." In less than two weeks, the open space has turned into a mud
bath and closely resembles the conditions at Mbare Musika prior to its
closure. Set in the pristine environs of the up-market Belvedere suburb, the
site sticks out like a sore thumb.
"It's difficult operating from this place," says Matsapa, a mother of three,
who has endured a 450-kilometre journey from Honde Valley in Manicaland
province. "Mbare was central and we didn't incur these added costs of hiring
a pushcart from Mbare to this place," she adds.
Apart from meeting the additional costs, which are a drain on their tight
purses, the subsistence farmers report a sharp contraction in business.
"There are few customers here as compared to Mbare," protests Dadirai Zuze,
also of Honde Valley. "Plus the pushcart operators are charging exorbitant
charges to ferry our produce."
Pushcart operators charge $500 000 for a single trip from Mbare to the city
centre. Matsapa says she forked out $2 million for the transportation of her
pockets of onions. She reveals that on a profitable trading day at Mbare,
she used to make up to $15 million a day but has pocketed a paltry $2
million per day since the relocation.
"The sales are just depressing and yet we still have to pay school fees for
our children and buy inputs for our next crop," says Matsapa.
A visit to the soggy grounds just after lunchtime shows that most farmers
have given up selling their produce to shelter from a heavy downpour under
trees, parked lorries and even the roof of the sports facility.
Although some Harare residents can see the sense in the city's decision to
sanitise Mbare Musika and curb the spread of diseases, human rights
activists and political commentators accuse the authorities of once again
acting with indifference towards vulnerable groups.
They argue that the city council does not appear to have learnt anything
from the chaotic manner in which Operation Murambatsvina, which it actively
supported, was executed.
"Murambatsvina is not over," says Tendai Biti, the secretary for economic
affairs in the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). "Where you
have a government concerned with moving people in and out of market places
it shows it is bankrupt and moribund," Biti adds.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) director Arnold Tsunga charges that
the government, which is backing council's clean-up of Mbare, is sowing the
seeds of another humanitarian crisis in the capital.
"The transfer of the problem from Mbare to the City Sports Centre can hardly
be seen as effective planning," says Tsunga, whose rights group has assisted
hundreds of Operation Murambatsvina victims with free legal advice.
"We have a state which continues to create fertile ground for a humanitarian
catastrophe to arise because of a systemic failure in governance," he said.
Though government ministers and the city fathers reason that the relocation
is necessary to cleanse one of Harare's oldest suburbs, critics argue that
the knee-jerk reaction can hardly be considered effective planning.
"This is no more than the forced movement of communities against their will
and in violation of international standards and norms," Tsunga says.
'Exposing disadvantaged communities to unhygienic conditions can only be
attributed to poor macroeconomic planning by the City of Harare and the
government," he adds.
Tsunga says the government appears to have exploited the cholera outbreak to
move traders without attracting adverse criticism as it did with regard to
Operation Murambatsvina, which has drawn censure from the United Nations.
"The citing of unhygienic conditions can be a justifiable pretext for the
state not to comply with minimum human rights standards and the rule of
law," explains Tsunga.
Since United Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan's special envoy Anna
Kajumulo Tibaijuka reported in her audit of Operation Murambatsvina that the
government caused serious suffering of large sections of its population and
should hold to account those responsible for the injury caused by the
clean-up exercise, who will the farmers and vendors sue for lost business
The vendors concur that since the controversial appointment of the Sekesai
Makwavarara-led commission to run the affairs of the council the once
alluring capital city has collapsed and believe, like Professor Milton
Friedman, that the commission should have been left to wither on the vine
upon the expiry of its first term of office.
Rangarirai Mberi Senior Reporter
'The liberator has become the oppressor'
SUSPENDED former ZANU PF Masvingo provincial chairman and TeleAccess founder
Daniel Shumba, has resigned from the ruling party, claiming that "the
liberator has become the oppressor."
Shumba, whose fixed telecommunications project has lost the licence to
operate the country's second fixed phone network, becomes the most senior
member to resign from ZANU PF in recent times and the second senior party
figure after former Mberengwa legislator, Pearson Mbalekwa to quit the
In a letter delivered to ZANU PF national chairman John Nkomo yesterday, an
evidently bitter Shumba said he no longer shared the party's ideologies and
so could no longer remain a member.
"While I agree with the ideals of the liberation struggle, I unfortunately
cannot agree with a case where a liberator turns oppressor. There is no
respect of the Constitution, rules and procedures within ZANU PF. How then
do you expect to uphold the rule of law in the country?" Shumba wrote.
"I refuse to be part of this. Much more is expected of leaders. I choose not
be involved in the politics of patronage or factionalism. I see the future
of Zimbabwe's politics to be in the hands of a respectable, responsible,
democratic and God-fearing party."
Shumba had previously been linked to dismissed former information minister,
Jonathan Moyo's foggy United People's Movement, but other sources have
recently linked him to a new formation, the United People's Party.
Shumba's future in ZANU PF has been on the political knife-edge amid
allegations that the disgruntled TeleAccess chief executive officer was part
of a faction that campaigned against ruling party candidates in the volatile
Masvingo Province during the senate elections.
Before that, he was one of the six ZANU PF provincial chairmen slapped with
five-year suspensions for bidding to block Joice Mujuru from becoming the
second Vice President late in 2004, despite President Robert Mugabe's clear
support for her candidacy.
Shumba's exit, coming six months after Mbalekwa had resigned from the same
party in protest against Operation Murambatsvina was indicative of the
growing dissent within the revolutionary party over its policies.
Nelson Banya News Editor
THE government has made another US$2.5 million payment to the International
Monetary Fund (IMF), ahead of a routine visit by a staff delegation from the
Bretton Woods institution.
The IMF delegation visits Zimbabwe next week to assess Harare's commitment
to fiscal discipline and the effective turnaround of the economy.
The last IMF mission, which was in the country in September 2005, expressed
"deep concern over the continued sharp economic and social decline in
Zimbabwe, with prospects of continued triple-digit inflation, further output
declines, and increased poverty," and since then both Treasury and monetary
authorities have moved to try to arrest the decline.
The IMF staff team, which will visit Zimbabwe between January 25 and
February 1, will meet government and central bank officials as well as
industry representatives during the routine Article IV consultations, which
precede an executive board meeting - to consider Zimbabwe's possible
expulsion from the fund - in March.
Economic commentator Eric Bloch does not expect the latest visit by the IMF
delegation to be any different from previous consultations, the looming
directors' meeting notwithstanding.
"There has never really been any threat of expulsion, just the hype in some
international circles to try and frighten us. The motion would require 85
percent of the total votes," Bloch said.
The IMF gave Zimbabwe another six-month reprieve against compulsory
withdrawal from the fund last September, citing the country's increased
payments to the IMF as well as certain positive policy steps taken to right
The former Czechoslovakia remains the only country in history to be expelled
from the IMF.
Bloch said although he expects further economic decline, "certainly in the
first half of the year", the IMF might find positives in recent policies put
in place by the government.
"I think they will commend the government's commitment to restrict borrowing
to capital projects and not consumption, as was the case previously. They
might also take heart in the pledge, by government, to reduce the budget
deficit to less than five percent of GDP, remove all price controls. There
has also been the freeing up of the foreign exchange market.
"Concerns, however, remain on the level of the national debt, inflation and
lack of investment," Bloch said.
Inflation, which has been resurgent since the second quarter of 2005, closed
the year at 585.8 percent and remains a massive challenge in 2006.
The last time an IMF team was in Zimbabwe, the central bank maintained its
managed foreign currency auction, where the local unit traded at $26 000
against the US$. However, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe floated the local
unit in October, and it is now trading at about $93 000 per greenback.
Worries remain, however, over the 70 percent retention scheme which the
central bank has maintained.
The central bank has also discontinued much of the quasi-fiscal activity
sharply criticised by the IMF the last time around.
The IMF called for strong fiscal adjustment; full liberalisation of the
exchange rate regime; adoption of a strong monetary anchor; elimination of
all quasi-fiscal activity by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and the
absorption of RBZ losses by the budget.
Zimbabwe has, over the past year, stepped up payments to the IMF and has
significantly reduced its arrears with the fund.
Last August, Zimbabwe paid the Fund US$120 million (SDR 82 million) to
settle its arrears to the General Resource Account (GRA). Subsequent
payments have seen Zimbabwe's total arrears under the GRA coming down to
US$25 million and those to the Poverty Reduction Growth Fund (PRGF) Trust
are SDR 82 million (about US$121 million).
Munyaradzi Mugowo Own Correspondent
Proposed prices, incomes stabilisation deal likely to face resistance
A PRICES and incomes stabilisation protocol proposed by the government in a
desperate attempt to arrest runaway inflation is likely to face resistance
from other partners in the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF), who are
considering serious amendments before the document could sail through.
The government, anxious to fast-track the draft document to rein in
relentless price increases and pacify a restive electorate, has been accused
of conceiving the "deal" in bad faith to stop necessary price adjustments.
Sources told The Financial Gazette this week that some members of the TNF -
a social contract bringing together the government, labour and business -
were reluctant to sign the deal because they felt prices and incomes should
be determined by the cost structures of firms and not by a formal system
with no link to inflation.
Mike Bimha, president of the Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ),
said that the proposed prices and incomes stabilisation protocol was still
embryonic and likely to change face significantly.
"The document presented to the TNF on 21 December 2005 is a mere working
draft. Social partners undertook to consult on the draft," he said. "EMCOZ
is in the process of consulting the business community on the draft in
preparation for the TNF meeting to be held on 19 January 2006," he added.
The sources said the business environment in the country, characterised by
hyperinflation and chronic fuel and foreign currency shortages, made it
difficult for a deterministic pricing mechanism to satisfy all parties.
"The major bone of contention is how to define problematic terms such as
'justifiable price increases' and when and how to effect price changes as
well as how to facilitate their approval in a less rigid manner," said one
The government, which has accused business of profiteering, is pushing for
the establishment of a sub-committee tasked to oversee the pricing of basic
goods and services.
Munyaradzi Mugowo Own Correspondent
The National Social Security Authority (NSSA), which raised both employee
benefits and pension contributions and payouts this year, has admitted that
there were glaring actuarial inaccuracies in its computation of benefits.
Amod Takawira, the managing director of the public fund manager, said the
institution's asset valuations needed a revamp to keep pace with both the
inflation rate and the poverty datum line, currently estimated at 585.8
percent, year-on-year, and $16.6 million per month, respectively.
"With effect from 1 January 2005, both employee contributions and benefits
have gone up. We felt the benefits needed to be revised, that is why
contributions have also been increased. This has been effected through a
statutory instrument passed last year," Takawira said.
Statutory Instrument 229 of 2005 reviewed upwards accident compensation
claims, pensions and children's allowances by at least 40 percent but to
margins that raise questions about the essence of social security.
For instance, permanent disability through accidents at work (estimated at
over 75 percent in degree) - for workers grossing up to $750 000 - will now
be compensated at a monthly rate of 80 percent of the employee's monthly
earnings, while those grossing monthly earnings between $2 500 000 and $5
000 000 will receive 40 percent of their earnings in pension allowances.
Pension and children's allowances for a pensioner who is more than 30
percent disabled shall not be less than $100 000 per month.
Furthermore, all NSSA pension beneficiaries will now be entitled to a $100
000 annual bonus, says the statutory instrument.
John Robertson, an economic analyst, said an ever growing catalogue of
NSSA's investments showed the extent to which the institution was yielding
high returns. He said he found it difficult to understand why the
institution was unwilling to finance the social security of its
"The actuarial research and manipulation is definitely wrong. NSSA pensions
are terrible pensions. It does not make sense for employees to continue to
invest in a porous safety net. Something must be done to make sure a new
actuarial research does not reproduce the same errors," Robertson said.
In December 2005, some pensioners were still earning monthly benefits as low
as $20 000, against a month-on-month inflation rate of about 183 percent
NSSA, a growing investment partner of government and the private sector with
a stake in the Joina Development project, is currently eyeing voting stock
in the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ) at the behest of
THREE years ago, government grudgingly admitted that corruption had reached
alarming levels in all sectors of the Zimbabwean economy.
This prompted it to use the provisions of an emergency law, in a move that
ignited a furore among legal experts who argued that it was wrong to use an
emergency law for a non-emergency case because the culture of corruption had
been in Zimbabwe for years.
Last year Transparency International weighed in when it said that the
country was unflatteringly perched up there with Venezuela, Honduras,
Uzbekistan, Ethiopia, the DRC, Sierra Leone and Moldova as one of the most
corrupt countries in the world.
Around the same time the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, which has had to clean up
one of the world's messiest piles of financial wreckage, added its voice to
the chorus of concern on corruption when it intimated that smoking guns were
lying everywhere! The central bank said that sometimes the perpetrators of
corruption hide behind such ostensibly noble initiatives as black economic
empowerment where the country has been navigating without a compass.
Even President Robert Mugabe - whose government has over the years taken a
licking from critics for, at worst nurturing corruption and at best, sitting
on the fence in the face of the scourge - has since indicated that he takes
umbrage at pervasive and cancerous corruption. All this underlines the scale
of the catastrophe that has befallen the country - the depth of the abyss,
if you will, from which it has now to find a way out.
It is all right that the government has, at the longest last, acknowledged
that insofar as corruption is concerned, the pendulum has swung too far the
other way. But there is, however, a world of difference between
acknowledging a problem and dealing with it.
And beyond acknowledging that the scourge is now institutionalised,
government has, to all intents and purposes, failed to earn plaudits for
honesty, sincerity, drive, commitment and passion over the much-vaunted
anti-corruption crusade for which there is very little, if any, to show.
And this is hardly surprising. In the court of public opinion, government
has not taken the scythe against corruption to all sectors of the economy
and across the social strata. Despite assurances that no one would be
immune, their social or political status notwithstanding, the government's
bark has been more ferocious than its bite!
Cases in point include those of the unashamed social cheats who looted the
War Victims Compensation Fund, the abuse of the government's VIP Housing
Scheme and the well-documented corruption at the Grain Marketing Board which
bordered on treason as a significant number of people faced starvation. Not
to mention the multiple farm ownership scandal.
These are just but some of the cases where there has been persistent lack of
action by the authorities even after relevant information has been obtained
Government seems to be treating all these cases as water under the bridge.
The inescapable conclusion is that this is because some of the country's
biggest political egos are implicated, implying that the criminal justice
system has been twisted to protect the powerful. This is why government has
failed to assuage the general perception that all the noise about the
anti-corruption drive was nothing more than window-dressing for the public's
It was at the time politically convenient amid a public outcry over the
festering cancer of corruption in high places. Little wonder therefore that
it will take an incredible leap of faith for the generality of Zimbabweans
to believe that government will ever up the ante in its half-hearted fight
True, the hardly convincing Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies Minister,
Paul Mangwana, was early this week at pains to convince the nation that
there is now renewed commitment to deal with the all-pervading corruption.
And we would like to give him the benefit of the doubt. But we know better
to ignore his bluster as empty rhetoric.
In any case, has the government mustered that unshakeable political will to
decisively deal with the menace? With the rich, powerful, influential
politicians and their cronies implicated, will the ZANU PF government, known
for doing almost everything for political expediency and shirking its
responsibilities when it comes to anything that might upset the apple cart,
take what might turn out to be a double-edged sword to its full expression?
Will it, as has been evident in the past, stop going for the proverbial
hares and avoiding the elephants when the old adage, a fish rots from the
head, holds as true today as it did centuries ago? If not, then its
commitment to rid the country of corruption is questionable.
As we have said before, past experience shows that government has tended to
apply the law like the spider's web which catches only the smallest insects
but lets through the big ones. Which is why critics did not read much into
the arrest in 2004 of former Finance Minister Chris Kuruneri, widely seen as
a political lightweight who lacks a power base of his own.
Mavis Makuni Own Correspondent
AIDS organisations, human rights activists and people living with the
disease in Zimbabwe have boldly taken the bull by the horns by petitioning
President Mugabe and his government to demonstrate greater commitment
towards addressing the serious issues pertaining to the pandemic.
Press reports have indicated that a number of these groups joined forces to
take their case all the way to the top after being enraged by the scant
attention the government paid to the marking of World Aids Day on the first
day of December.
The groups accused the State of having trivialised and marginalised the
important occasion by scheduling other high profile events such as the
national budget announcement, the election of the deputy speaker of
parliament and the official opening of the African Bankers' Forum by
President Mugabe on the same day.
The groups were also unhappy that instead of being accorded support on a day
when Aids and its ramifications should have been the main national focus,
AIDS activists marching in memory of the millions who have succumbed to the
disease were rounded up and detained by police in the capital.
The AIDS groups argued that all these negative developments had detracted
from the significance of World Aids Day and exposed a lack of political will
and commitment on the part of the Government.
The Zimbabwean Aids activists are not the first to recognise that as far as
allocating resources and providing policy frameworks to deal with the
pandemic is concerned, African governments sometimes need to be prodded or
even taken to court to rouse them from their inexplicable inertia.
In South Africa, AIDS activists and officialdom fought a pitched battle in
the last few years before the government of President Thabo Mbeki was forced
to climb down from its stubborn stance on the question of availing treatment
to the general public.
The South African government's dithering was the result of the head of state's
"dissident" views on the causes of AIDS and HIV.
It is common cause that his doubting Thomas stance, during which he disputed
the scientific causes of infection, resulted in the loss of valuable time
before millions of infected people could access drugs to prolong and improve
the quality of their lives. United Nations statistics show that today, South
Africa has the highest infection rates globally.
The Zimbabwean AIDS groups, which copied their petition to the Speaker of
Parliament John Nkomo, Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa and Reserve Bank
Governor, Gideon Gono, urged President Mugabe to intervene to ensure that
everyone in government recognises the gravity of the challenges posed by the
They charged that there was not enough commitment and unity of purpose in
government on the matter despite the fact that President Mugabe had declared
the epidemic a national disaster.
The petition also draws attention to the fact that of two million
Zimbabweans living with the disease, only 20 000 have access to
anti-retroviral drugs. The criteria used to identify beneficiaries of the
public sector treatment programme remain obscure despite the fact that
government collects a monthly AIDS levy from salaried workers.
Mbeki, is not the only African leader guilty of dragging his feet on the
question of AIDS. Last year, the human rights group, Human Rights Watch,
issued a report criticising African governments for neglecting millions of
children affected by AIDS/HIV.
African leaders have a poor track record with regard to protecting the most
vulnerable groups in their populations - women and children.
Despite the fact that women hold the key to the continuation of the human
species, very few of these governments have paid attention to this
indisputable reality and allocated adequate resources to deal with the
gender dimensions of the scourge.
A United Nations agency, UNAIDS, announced in 2004, when World Aids Day
focused on women and girls, that infection rates were increasing among this
segment of the population and yet no investment has been made to reverse the
The factors that put women and girls at higher risk including rape, husbands
who engage in extramarital sex, violence and sexual coercion within
marriage, female genital mutilation and lack of access to empowerment
through education and economic participation are taboo subjects in some
AIDS activists, not just in Zimbabwe but continent-wide therefore need to
redouble their efforts to convince leaders to abandon their "business as
usual" attitude and realise that a paradigm shift is necessary to facilitate
the development of prevention and treatment programmes that recognise the
reality of the higher risks women and girls are exposed to. No one can
dispute that in most of the African countries that are most hard hit by AIDS
and HIV prevalence, sexual behaviour and cultural prejudices are
The example of Swaziland, where the absolute monarch, King Mswati III has
perpetuated the ancient custom of the annual "reed dance", comes to mind. On
this occasion the king has free rein to choose a bride from the
bare-breasted teenagers forced to dance before him. This high profile
display of a man acquiring multiple sexual partners is hardly model
behaviour by a head of state.
To make matters worse, the mountain kingdom, which has a population of just
over one million people, has one of the highest infection rates in southern
Africa. More than a third of the people are infected with the disease.
These contradictions, which are prevalent in other parts of the continent,
mean for example, that campaigns to discourage premarital sex tend, in
reality, to target girls only. Prevailing social norms across Africa dictate
that having sex and children before marriage is disgraceful and immoral only
The males who sire such children are considered to be gallantly 'sowing
their wild oats' and therefore do not face any social sanctions. They,
therefore at some subconscious level, see no reason why they should change
their behaviour, which is crucial in combating the spread of AIDS.
This double standard presents a built-in, self- sabotaging component in
anti-AIDS awareness campaigns, most of which further compound these skewed
perceptions by promoting only male condoms, which empower one group to have
a choice on whether or not to practise safe sex. Without the educational,
cultural and economic clout to demand the use of protection or access to
female condoms to shield themselves from infection, women continue to be
sitting ducks in the AIDS infection transmission cycle.
Ironically however, these issues represent a point of convergence yet to be
recognised by both governments and non-governmental organisations as a
compelling reason to adopt common strategies across Africa.
The AIDS figures for Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa in particular, are
staggering. Of the 40 million people living with the disease globally, the
majority, about 70 percent, lives in the sub region. In Southern Africa,
life expectancy has plummeted from 62 years a decade ago to 48 years.
Between 2000 and 2005, the life expectancy of women dropped below that of
men in Zambia, Malawi, Kenya and Zimbabwe, due to AIDS. UN projections show
that the average life span in the region will further drop to 43 years this
decade. Consequently, population growth is expected to stagnate or decrease
between now and the year 2020 in South Africa, Lesotho, Botswana and
Swaziland where deaths are expected to outnumber births.
Against this gloomy backdrop, the stance taken by AIDS groups in Zimbabwe is
therefore not a frivolous act by Western-backed troublemakers but an
important signal that AIDS and human rights activists across Africa should
also continue to knock loudly on those government doors until the desired
response is obtained.
Personal Glimpses with Mavis Makuni
IT was Thomas Jefferson who said, "Free government is founded on jealousy .
. . In questions of power, let no more be heard of confidence in man, but
bind him from mischief by the chains of the constitution."
Jefferson, the third president of the United States of America, was
expounding on the subject of free elections as the most important device to
make public officials observe the constitutional limits of their power.
Regular elections, Jefferson believed, empowered voters to throw those who
abused power out of office.
If he was alive today, I wonder how the chief drafter of the declaration of
American independence would answer a burning question I have. What do you do
if, despite having a constitution in place and voting for candidates of your
choice in regular elections, you achieve the complete opposite and end up
with government seeking to control every facet of your life?
When I first read about the idea of getting "big government off the people's
backs", I thought its proponents were anarchists. But having watched some
overzealous government ministers involving themselves in the nitty-gritty of
ordinary people's everyday life, I now know they have a point.
Government should by all means be responsive to the needs of the people but
its role should be to provide the broad policy frameworks and guidelines.
The actual implementation of policies should be left to the relevant
authorities. But this is not what is happening in Zimbabwe today where
ministers seem to have abandoned their rightful roles as leaders and
facilitators to become hands-on supervisors of functions that should be
overseen by officials at other levels of central or local government.
Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo takes the cake as the minister who
seems most incapable of delegating and therefore given to meddling in
affairs where he has no business to be personally involved. As an example, I
was shocked to watch him on television the other day breathing fire about
blocks of flats belonging to the Mutare City Council. He wanted certain
categories of people to be evicted from these housing units and warned of
dire consequences if the local authority ignored his decree.
Is this minister serious? Does he not have better things to do than to stoop
to the level of usurping the routine neighbourhood and housekeeping
functions of local authorities?
If the minister wishes to be involved in supervising minute details such as
the eviction of occupants from a block of flats, the question then needs to
be asked why urban residents should be saddled with the expense of having
city councils that are supposed to attend to these issues. Chombo's ongoing
campaign to unseat elected officials from targeted urban councils through
petty fault-finding is getting out of hand. He may be undertaking the
hatchet job on behalf of the ruling party but does he not have any sense of
shame as an individual?
To all intents and purposes Chombo now acts as the de facto mayor of most
major cities in Zimbabwe, notably Harare. It seems that the chairperson of
the commission running the affairs of the capital city cannot make any move
without getting orders from the minister. This week, before announcing the
abrupt temporary closure of Mbare Musika, Sekesai Makwavarara swept into the
high-density suburb accompanied by officials from the Ministry of
Environment and Tourism. An official identified as the permanent secretary
in the ministry then launched into a lecture on hygiene and the need for the
vendors trading from the market to ensure that garbage was collected. The
whole idea was to exonerate the local authority of its monumental service
delivery failures but who can be expected to buy such a cock-and-bull story?
The aim of the visit was no doubt to give the impression that government
cared about the traders and was doing something for them, but the question
once again arises as to why Makwavarara needs to be propped up by officials
from a ministry to undertake such a routine visit? What are staff in the
City Health Department paid to do if someone as high as a permanent
secretary needs to be brought in to deliver a pep talk that should be given
by community health workers?
Chombo is, however, by no means the only minister guilty of abandoning his
post to usurp the functions of lower structures. The Minister of Education,
Sports and Culture, Aeneas Chigwedere has been known to pick quarrels with
headmasters over school fees. On one occasion, he even took it upon himself
to order police details to be deployed to barricade entrances to school
premises. We would like to believe the minister has weightier matters to
attend to than these petty fights.
Of late, Chigwedere and a host of other senior government officials have
stolen the limelight from the Zimbabwe Football Association by taking over
the raising of funds for the national team's participation in the Africa Cup
of Nations tournament in Egypt. While it is appreciated that ministers can
lend their high profiles to promote good causes, their assistance should
only be supportive. It just goes beyond acceptable bounds for officials to
hijack such functions to the extent of acting as masters of ceremonies as
has been seen on television lately. There is something seriously wrong
somewhere if Zifa is not capable of conducting its own fundraising events
and needs an army of ministers and deputy ministers to make things happen.
One wonders why so many ministers are choosing to poke their noses into
matters that do not concern them, resulting in the craziness and confusion
pervading the nation. Is it possible they resort to this shameless meddling
because they have no clue how to run their portfolios as unobtrusively and
as professionally as possible? We need these ministers to provide the
strategic thinking and planning necessary to pull this country back from the
brink instead of barking orders and threats at every turn!
Financial Gazette (Harare)
January 18, 2006
Posted to the web January 19, 2006
THE WIDELY condemned clean up campaign engineered by the government in the
first half of last year is estimated to have caused property losses of about
US$66 million (about $6 trillion at the ruling exchange rate), The Property
Gazette can reveal.
In a report authored by ActionAid in collaboration with other local
Non-Government Organisations (NGOs), the document noted that the figure
could actually be in excess of US$66 million if legal issues were taken into
"When the losses are seen in the context of the legal issues, then it seems
clear that a very significant majority of those affected by Operation
Murambatsvina have prima facie rights to redress and compensation, as was
stated by the United Nations Special Envoy," reads part of the report titled
An In-Depth Study On The Impact Of Operation Murambatsvina In Zimbabwe, The
Traumatic Consequences Of Operation Murambatsvina.
"If however, the estimate is based on the population and assuming that at
least two persons were economically active in each household, then the
estimated losses are much higher.
"The losses are consequent on illegal actions by the Zimbabwe government if
it can be established that those affected had rights to their property and
rights to be carrying out their business.
However, these rights may be lost through prescription of time and this
would add further injury to an already injurious situation," it said.
At least 700 000 families were rendered homeless after the government
demolished illegal structures in Harare and other towns and cities.
The authors of the latest report on the exercise interviewed residents of
Harare, Bulawayo and Mutare specifically on areas of trauma, HIV/AIDS,
leg\al issues and losses.
A structured questionnaire was used in the collection of data from 1 195
respondents distributed in 58 affected high-density wards in the 3 urban