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Nkomo’s death revives Unity Accord debate

January 20, 2013 in Politics

AS thousands of people prepare to throng the National Heroes’ Acre for the
burial of Vice-President John Landa Nkomo tomorrow, the death of the former
nationalist is likely to stir fresh debate on the relevance of the Unity
Accord, analysts have said.


They said as President Robert Mugabe continues to lose trusted allies in
Matabeleland, the relevance of the Unity Accord between Zanu PF and PF Zapu
would soon come under scrutiny, again.

With the Dumiso Dabengwa-led Zapu having pulled out of Zanu PF five years
ago, questions linger whether the accord that ended mass killings in
Matabeleland and Midlands was still relevant 26 years later.

On the other hand, Nkomo’s death is also likely to re-ignite an acrimonious
succession battle that characterised his own ascension to the

Nkomo took over from Joseph Msika who died in 2009. Msika himself had
succeeded nationalist and founding Zapu leader Joshua Nkomo who signed the
Unity Accord with Mugabe in 1987.

But it is the power dynamics in Zanu PF and Matabeleland, where Nkomo’s
death is most likely to be felt.

Despite Nkomo having not contested an election since 1995, he was viewed as
a senior leader, whose voice would carry the day.

Over the years, Nkomo’s stature had somewhat diminished in Matabeleland,
although he remained important because of his status as Vice-President.

While most of the focus shall be on who shall succeed Nkomo, it is the
jostling for the Zanu PF chairmanship’s post that is likely to hog all the

Present chairman, Simon Khaya-Moyo is the front runner to succeed Nkomo, but
it is unclear who is likely to take up his post in the likely event that he
becomes vice-president with the likes of Home Affairs minister, Kembo Mohadi
considered as a dark horse.

Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu is also said to be a

A service was held yesterday at the late Nkomo’s Milton Park home before the
body was flown to Tsholotsho.

Meanwhile, South African leader, Jacob Zuma has joined Zimbabweans in
mourning Vice-President John Landa Nkomo who died at St Anne’s Hospital on
Thursday after a long battle with cancer.
Zuma extended his deepest condolences to the Nkomo family as well as to the
government and the people of Zimbabwe on the passing on of Nkomo.

“Our thoughts go out to the entire Nkomo family and the people of Zimbabwe,”
he said in a statement.

Nkomo started his political career with South Africa’s African National
Congress (ANC).

He was then deployed to the National Democratic Party (NDP), which was later
banned and was reborn as Zapu.

Zimbabweans from all walks of life and across the political divide yesterday
also continued to mourn Nkomo.

Several MDC-T ministers attended the service where they paid tribute to the
late Nkomo.

Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara described Nkomo as a unifier who
worked for the betterment of the country.

“From his time as a trade union leader to being a minister and a
Vice-President, Nkomo was a unifier par excellence, a true son-of-the-soil
and he worked hard throughout his life to ensure that peace and
reconciliation prevailed,” he said.

Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn leader, Simba Makoni said the nation had been robbed of
a mature, true national leader, with unwavering dedication to the country.

“Nkomo was a unifier and pacifier. He was a humble, kind and loving leader
to all the people of Zimbabwe,” he said. “He was tireless in his quest for
national cohesion. He belonged to all Zimbabwe, not one political party, not
one area or province, not one social class.”

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary-general, Japhet Moyo said
Nkomo was a “rare breed” of a politician who could mix with different people
at different levels without any problem.

“He was a good listener, down-to-earth politician who worked immensely to
uplift the lives of many Zimbabweans,” he said.

Moyo said ZCTU remembered him well during his time as Labour minister
between 1988 and 1995 where he presided over some notable amendments to the
Labour Relations Act.

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Charamba questions statistics given by ZIA

January 20, 2013 in Local

The Zimbabwe Investment Authority (ZIA) last week fell foul of Herald
columnist Nathaniel Manheru, widely believed to President Robert Mugabe’s
spokesman George Charamba, following the publication of figures that showed
that foreign investment was declining in the country, authoritative sources


The sources said Charamba summoned ZIA officials and gave them a rap on
knuckles for the statistics. ZIA however, denied they had ever been summoned
to the President’s office.

The sources said Charamba, who is also Media, Information and Publicity
permanent secretary, fumed that the figures, which were publicised in The
Herald, showed the Zanu PF’s indigenisation programme was driving investors

The figures showed that the country’s investment approvals fell to US$930
million last year, from US$6,6 billion a year earlier, “illustrative of an
abysmal” investment climate.

The authority apparently approved 172 projects between January and December
last year, down from 227 projects approved in the same period in 2011.

However, the article stated that these were merely approvals and most of the
projects were not running yet.

In his Saturday column in The Herald, Nathaniel Manheru, who is widely
believed to be Charamba, lambasted both the newspaper’s Business desk and
ZIA over the article which he deemed untenable.

“. . . if the story and its false figures are empty, why headline the
non-story, Zim investment falls? Which investment? What has fallen? Can
anything which is not there fall, given what the story itself admits to?”
quipped Manheru.

“Intended or unintended, this non-story entrenches a certain perception on
Zimbabwe in the reader, namely a country which is inhospitable to
investments. Much worse it attributes that inhospitality to one factor:

Manheru questioned why ZIA continued to give out what he termed “useless

“And when ZIA approvals don’t see the light of day, who answers for that?
Kasukuwere? Does this imply ZIA approves outside of the country’s laws? To
achieve what? A high failure rate? These are key questions which the
Business Herald must raise, must probe.”

ZIA Chief Executive, Richard Mubaiwa last week denied that he was summoned
by Charamba over the publication of investment figures.

“Those are just statistics that we gave them; the article they [Business
Herald] ran was their opinion. It’s all just speculation,” said Mubaiwa.
“Right now I’m on leave and the officials at the [ZIA] offices would have
told me if there was any issue. He [Charamba] never spoke to me about that.”

Foreign investors have in the past few years been reluctant to invest in the
country because of the law of indigenisation which compels foreign-owned
companies to cede 51% of their shareholding to locals.

‘I did not write column as Manheru’

George Charamba, who denied penning the Manheru column, yesterday said the
article in question sought to question the authenticity of the statistics
released by the investment authority.

“That’s simply what I read in the column, who said I am Manheru?” said
Charamba. “Maybe you have a very fertile imagination or you are being
terribly misled [that I wrote that article as Manheru].”

He denied that he had summoned any ZIA officials stating that the authority
did not fall under his purview.

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Chinese shopping mall guarded

January 20, 2013 in Local

A construction project by a Chinese company near the National Sports Stadium
in Harare has joined the league of government buildings which are guarded by
military personnel amid claims that it belongs to the army.


The Standard news crew recently got in trouble with soldiers guarding the
site after being spotted taking pictures of the building complex, which is
said to be a shopping mall.

Clad in full military combat, one of the soldiers charged towards the
journalists demanding to know why they were taking pictures of the place
without permission.

He tried to seize the camera that was being used in taking the pictures but
ended up settling for a handbag belonging to one of the reporters after
failing to grab the camera. The soldier took the handbag to an official who
was not in uniform, who seemed to be his boss.

To get the handbag back, the journalists were advised to get inside the site
and talk to the Chinese officials, something they rejected fearing for their

“If you do not know, you will never win a case against the Chinese,” the
uniformed officer said. “You may not be aware that this project belongs to
the army. I am not here on personal business but under instruction.”

The official in civilian clothes threatened to call his “boss” so that they
could deal with the reporters.

However, the journalists were given back the handbag and allowed to go after
being forced to delete all the pictures they had taken.

Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA) spokesperson Alphios Makotore yesterday
demanded that questions be delivered to his office on hard copy.

He said he would only be able to attend to them tomorrow.

Anjin board member, Munyaradzi Machacha on Friday said the company recently
beefed up security at the construction site after losing a lot of building
material to thieves.

“Every property owner wants privacy, that is why we do not allow people to
take pictures,” Machacha said. “Because it is still under construction, the
place is not yet open to the public and thus we do not expect anyone to be
taking pictures.

He added: “If one is a bona fide journalist, all they need to do is come to
us and our public relations personnel will facilitate their access to the
place. We have materials worth millions of dollars at that place therefore
we tightened security to avoid further thefts.”

Machacha said the project was jointly owned by a Chinese mining company,
Anjin and China’s Anhui Foreign Economic Construction Company (AFECC).

“It is not true that it belongs to the army,” Machacha said. “It is an
Anjin-AFECC investment, AFECC being the company which built the defence
college and a partner of the Zimbabwean government.”

Machacha said the building would soon be open to the public, starting with a
shopping mall and offices. He said a hotel would follow later.

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Masunda turns Harare into a village

January 20, 2013 in Local

It had been over two decades since I last took a bath with rain water
harvested from asbestos sheets.


I had to do it a few days ago.

We had gone for several weeks, if not nearly a full calendar month, without
getting a single drop of the usually smelly council water from our taps.

Even neighbouring suburbs, where I usually scrounge for the precious liquid,
were in the same predicament, if not worse. While I was harvesting water
from the roof of my house, I realised that I was not alone as several others
in the neighbourhood were doing the same.

It reminded me of my childhood, growing up in the rural areas, when we would
venture into torrential rain, stark naked, and run in circles around the

Then I enjoyed it.

What the Muchadeyi Masunda-led Harare City Council has managed to do is to
turn back the hands of time. Like in rural areas, it is now common to see
women and children in Harare, carrying all sorts of containers, moving from
one well or borehole to the next, looking for water.

This is how the City Fathers in the “Sunshine City” have turned Harare
residents into “water scavenging villagers”.

Despite this noticeable crisis, it is surprising that the council, which
dreams of turning Harare into a world class city by 2025, has not been
making visible efforts to address this problem.

What is more worrying is the council’s insistence that tap water is clean
for us despite scientific evidence to the contrary.

Numerous tests, some by scientists from the University of Zimbabwe, have
shown that the water that council is pumping into our homes falls below the
World Health Organisation standards.

This is why Masunda and company at Town House probably never drink water
from the tap, but they still have the audacity to misinform us that it is
fit for drinking purposes.

Notwithstanding dollarisation in 2009, which saw many sectors of the economy
improving, our council has dismally failed to collect refuse on a regular
basis, exposing residents to diseases.

But still we pay our rates.

Over 4 000 people have died in Harare since 2008 following the outbreak of
waterborne diseases such as cholera, typhoid and dysentery.

I lay the blame squarely on Masunda and company because they have failed to
collect refuse and deliver clean water to ratepayers, who continue to drink
from condemned boreholes.

Surely, they must feel guilty if they have human hearts.

Informal settlements have been allowed to mushroom.

The bad situation of our roads has spiralled into a disaster. Driving around
the town’s suburban areas is now a nightmare because of the potholes, some
deep enough to submerge the whole wheel, especially for vehicles with low

Last week, I had to be pushed out of a “crater” that has been allowed to
widen in the middle of the road at some traffic lights in Glen View 8.

Other vehicles nearly rammed into me as they tried to avoid other potholes

One of my rescuers joked that motorists must now drive around with long
sticks so that they can measure the depth of submerged potholes on our roads
before they attempt to manoeuvre their way.
The situation is almost the same in all suburbs — talk of Warren Park,
Malbereign, Waterfalls, Hatfield and Kambuzuma — just to mention a few.

I was shocked to also see deep potholes along the Harare-Bulawayo Highway.

The next morning, the potholes had been filled with what looked like sand
and a few pebbles which, by mid-day had been swept away by rains.

Does this mean the council cannot afford to buy tar and bitumen to patch the
potholes or resurface the roads?

How did former Harare Mayor Elias Mudzuri manage to keep the city clean,
with fewer potholes and pumping clean water during a time the economy was
most depressed?

Is it not wise for the learned Mayor to get a few tips from him?

City suffers neglect

Grass continues to grow along road sides, obstructing motorists and causing
accidents, especially at intersections.

I have noticed that almost three quarters of traffic lights in Harare are
not working properly and it appears there is no effort by council to address
the problem.

The solar-power traffic project, once touted as the panacea to the problem,
has flattered to deceive.

It is now a nightmare to drive in Harare’s central business district (CBD),
especially during peak hours because of congestion worsened by the absence
of functional traffic lights.

I can’t talk of street lights anymore — they are history.

People I spoke to believe poor service delivery in the council emanates from
the strained relations between the Mayor and the councillors. They said
Masunda, a lawyer by profession, is opinionated and does not listen or
respect the councillors.

He considers them uneducated and unable to comprehend complex local
government issues but these are the same people who worked with other

Is it not a case of a poor workman who blames his tools?
I think Masunda has survived this long because politically, he is more of a
“middle of the road person”, meaning no one from Zanu PF and the MDC
formations is ready to critically assess his performance.

Had he been an outright MDC, MDC-T or Zanu PF member, he would have been
asked or ordered to resign a long time ago.

Surely, his likeable character and neutrality has served him well.
I also think that Masunda’s failure to address challenges faced by
ratepayers also steams from the fact that he has too much in his plate. He
chairs several companies’ boards including Zimplats, Old Mutual, Lafarge and
one or two regional local government associations.

Surely, with such a load, the Mayor might not find time to deal with issues
that affect the ordinary person in Mbare or Highfield. This is where people
are dying of typhoid, cholera and drinking water of questionable quality.

When some angry residents picketed at Town House last year demanding that
Masunda must resign, I thought they were just mad.

One of them carried a banner which read: “Masunda go, you have failed; We
are tired of drinking sewage; corruption is rife and refuse is not being

Certainly, it is time the Mayor concentrates on what he knows best —law.

As certain as the sun will rise tomorrow, I will get criticism from his
legion of supporters.

But I don’t give a damn, for I have said it as it is.

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J Nkomo Airport just another white elephant

January 20, 2013 in Local

A few vehicles are haphazardly parked at the huge car park in front of the
Joshua Nkomo International Airport in Bulawayo.


The parking lot can accommodate hundreds of vehicles but these days the
airport looks deserted.

Only less than 10 cars are in the car park.

Faint sounds of birds can be heard, obviously enjoying the peace and
tranquility that now engulfs the area.

One or two groundsmen are seen lazily walking around the spacious yard and
from the look of things, they seem not in any hurry in whatever they are

The silence that characterises the area signals that something has
definitely gone wrong with the airport.

The airport is currently being upgraded to international standards.
According to the Civil Aviation Authorities of Zimbabwe (Caaz), the
upgrading is now 98% complete and the official opening is set for year-end.

During a recent tour, airport manager Passmore Dewa said US$25 million had
so far been pumped into the upgrading of the facility.
The airport, which is now four times bigger than the old one, boasts of
having all the facilities that any airport anywhere in the world can have.

It has hi-tech facilities such as CCTV, access control, a fire alarm system
and state-of-the-art telephone system that meets international standards.

In addition to a business lounge, the airport houses offices, shops, bars,
banks and the Joshua Nkomo gallery.

Regrettably, however, the state-of-the-art airport is operating at less than
30% capacity.

Analysts said there was an urgent need to map out strategies to save the
huge investment from going to waste.

Economist Eric Bloch said the airport used to be a hive of activity with
people travelling to various destinations in and outside the country.

“The airport was a business airport and company managers would fly from
Harare in the morning and work in Bulawayo before catching the evening plane
back to Harare,” said Bloch.

However, the closure of several businesses and industries in Bulawayo over
the past few years has hit hard the operations of the airport. The number of
tourists visiting the country has “nosedived” in the past few years,
negatively affecting business.

Dewa bemoaned the low number of flights landing at the airport. He called on
the City of Bulawayo to help market the airport for the benefit of the local
authority and the country as a whole.

He said the amount of business did not justify the employment of hundreds of
workers at the airport.

“We are just receiving one flight a day, that is the South African Airways’
Bulawayo-to-Johannesburg daily flight. Air Zimbabwe also intends to increase
its flight to four times a week,” said Dewa. “That traffic we are receiving
is not good because we have about 500 workers here and we don’t want to
retrench them.”

Paul Sibanda, another economic commentator, said if nothing was done to
increase the airport operational capacity, the infrastructure would become a
white elephant.

“There is need to increase the number of planes landing at the airport by
attracting low-cost planes that can be used even by low-income earners,” he

The upgrading of the airport, named after the late Vice-President Joshua
Mqabuko Nkomo, has been going on for almost a decade.

The airport was initially scheduled to be completed in December 2004 but has
been dogged by a numerous problems, including funding.
It now has the capacity to receive about 1,2 million passengers annually, up
from the previous 350 000.

“But I am hopeful that when the United Nations World Tourism Organisation
general assembly begins next year, business at the airport will pick up,”
said Sibanda. “The arrival of Emirates, KLM and LAM into the market is also
going to positively impact business at the airport.”

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Chinese firms under spotlight

January 20, 2013 in Community News

CHINESE mining operations in Guruve have been put under constant monitoring
by the Environmental Management Agency, to ensure they abide by the country’s
laws to avoid environmental degradation.


This comes after several complaints from across the country that Chinese
companies were disregarding local environmental laws, causing serious land
degradation, as well as ill-treating their employees.

Speaking after touring Chinese mines in Mashonaland Central recently, EMA’s
provincial manager, Robert Rwafa said the agency was closely monitoring the
mines so that they do not destroy the environment.

“We are working closely on these mines so that the guys there do not damage
the environment, especially when they are leaving the place,” he said.

Kehri Investment, one of the Chinese companies mining chrome in Guruve, has
been accused of leaving huge pits in the area and thereafter relocating to

Kehri officials could not be reached for comment last week.
But Rwafa said: “They said they are going to come back. We have to inspect
these open pits which are not healthy for animals and people. that is why we
are pushing them to fill up their pits.”

He said the agency had been receiving reports from villagers that their
livestock were falling into the huge open pits.

The Tengenenge community in Guruve recently told Standardcommunity that
Chinese firms were contaminating local water sources, making it unfit for
domestic use and watering their livestock.

“That is the other reason why we are having conflicts with them,” said one
villager, Ngoni Mundongi. “We have instructed them to drill boreholes for us
but they have not done so.”

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Villagers accuse Renco Mine of polluting rivers

January 20, 2013 in Community News

MASVINGO — Villagers from Nyajena communal lands in Masvingo South province
now fear for their lives after Renco Mine allegedly discharged “poisonous”
effluent into nearby rivers.


The villagers also claimed that their domestic animals were dying because
the mine was discharging the effluent into Nyajena River and other streams
that feed into it.

The villagers also use water from the river and streams for domestic

Last week, the villagers who joined a strike by Renco Mine workers’ wives
which started on Monday, said the mine was not being friendly to the

Their spokesperson, Shingirirai Zvavamwe said many villagers had lost
livestock under unclear circumstances. He said the villagers suspected that
the deaths were caused by the effluent the mine was discharging into water

“Many villagers have lost livestock and we feel it is cyanide which the mine
uses in the extraction of gold. We need an explanation from the mine
management,” said Zvavamwe.

Renco Mine manager, Suprine Kachisa could neither deny nor confirm the
allegations, saying he could not talk to the press due to company protocol.

The mine’s managing director, Ashton Ndlovu said he wanted questions in
writing, but had not responded by the time of going to print.
The villagers also accused the mine of reneging on its promise to develop
the community under its social responsibility programme.

About 800 wives of the mine workers demonstrated last week, charging that
their husbands were paid a paltry US$180 a month on average yet the mine was
making a lot of money from their sweat.

Renco Mine, which started gold mining operations in 1983 in Masvingo, is a
subsidiary of Rio Tinto Zimbabwe.

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Young girls trade sex for food in Murambinda

January 20, 2013 in Community News

MURAMBINDA — Poverty has driven scores of young girls here, some barely in
their teens, to prostitution to raise money for food for their families and
for their school fees.


Some of them are pushed into selling their bodies by desperate guardians or
parents who have no other source of livelihood.

Murambinda is in Buhera, a dry district which falls under geological region
five, where crops such as maize rarely grow to maturity.

The girls are being taken advantage of, mostly by illegal diamond dealers,
truck and bus drivers, as well as government and NGO workers who can afford
a few dollars to spare from their salaries and other “dealings”.

It has become common to see heavy trucks parked at the business centre,
waiting in the darkness.

Once it gets dark, the drivers invite young girls into their trucks for sex
while others are driven away to secluded places.

Alcohol and marijuana have become the girls’ daily diet.

Once they are high on drugs, they start soliciting for clients, wildly
gyrating to loud music, daring to mix and mingle with clients from all walks
of life.

Residents now fear that childhood prostitution, apart from destroying the
future of the children and the general moral fabric, will further fuel the
HIV and Aids prevalence rate in the area.
One resident of the area, Kenneth Masomere blamed the increased prostitution
on parents and guardians who failed to instil discipline in their children.

“Most parents in this area are failing to stamp their authority over their
children who have taken the centre-stage in prostitution,” he said.

Masomere added: “It is poverty that has forced them to sell their bodies.
They want to make money easily, yet they are at risk.”
An investigation by Standardcommunity recently established that in some
cases, the children were forced into prostitution because of poverty.

Some families near the business centre survive on food hand-outs from
charitable organisations.

One of the young prostitutes, who identified herself only as Netsai, said
she was a student at a local secondary school.

“The money that men pay me for sex allows me to pay my school fees and that
of my little sister,” she said.

Another teenage hooker, Sandra, who comes from Chapanduka village in the
same district, said she turned to prostitution after failing to get
employment at the business centre.

Her mother, a fish vendor, had sent her to seek employment as a domestic
worker as there are many officials who work in government offices and for
NGOs operating at the centre.

Sandra said she had, on many occasions, fallen victim to physical and sexual
assault by her clients that would be unwilling to pay.
She said some forced her to have unprotected sex.

“It is not uncommon for some of our clients to force us to have unprotected
sex or even to assault us,” she said.

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Kasukuwere warns foreign-owned banks again

January 20, 2013 in Business

NYANGA — Foreign-owned banks operating in the country should cede 51%
shareholding to locals before elections this year, Youth Development,
Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere has said.


Addressing members of the Youth Empowerment Trust in Nyanga last week,
Kasukuwere said he was targeting the banks namely Barclays, Stanbic and
Standard Chartered which are still to comply with the indigenisation law.

“These three banks are on top of the list among others. All foreign banks
must comply with the indigenisation law,” he said.

“Zimbabweans should be their own investors. Zimbabweans should invest in
their economy. The banking industry is the key to the economy and this move
will go a long way in empowering our people.”

The minister did not indicate when the elections would be held. President
Robert Mugabe has said elections will be held in March this year but the
MDCs have vowed that the polls would only he conducted after the
implementation of reforms to level the electoral playing field that
currently favours Zanu PF.

Analysts have however, dismissed the March poll date saying it was too near
because the country still had to complete the constitution-making process,
hold a referendum and then synchronise different laws of the new charter.

Kasukuwere said Zimbabweans should not be treated as aliens in their

“This is our country and we should benefit from all that is in it. These
banks should comply or ship out. We are not going back on indigenisation,”
Kasukuwere added.

Kasukuwere’s ultimatum comes a week after he warned foreign banks to adhere
to the law meant to address historical imbalances or face stern measures.

Addressing guests at the signing ceremony for the terms agreement between
Zimplats and government recently, Kasukuwere warned that the government
would rein in banks that defied the indigenisation legislation.

“I would like to encourage other companies, particularly in the banking
sector, to comply with our laws as non-compliance will no longer be
tolerated,” said Kasukuwere.

“Uncalled-for defiance and arrogance will not be tolerated as all companies
must respect the law and desist from provoking the State,” he said.

Kasukuwere’s latest ultimatum to banks is likely to be met with resistance
from Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono and Finance minister
Tendai Biti, who have in the past called for caution when dealing with the
delicate banking sector.

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Zim to sell to EU

January 20, 2013 in Business

ZIMBABWE will soon be allowed to sell its goods to the European Union (EU)
without paying tariffs and quotas, the clearest indication yet that the
relationship between the EU and the southern African nation is thawing.


The EU parliament on Thursday granted its consent to the Interim Economic
Partnership Agreement, which also includes Madagascar, Mauritius and

The economic partnership agreement (EPAs) would allow the four countries —
Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles — to sell coffee, sugar
cane and tobacco in the EU without tariffs and quotas.

The deal received token resistance with 97 Members of the EU Parliament
(MEPs) voting against it, while 494 approved.
There were 33 abstentions.

But questions have been raised on Zimbabwe’s human rights records, with
others saying the country should not be included in the agreement.

“As to Zimbabwe’s human rights record, I agree that the final EPA must
include a binding rule on human rights, but at this interim stage we are
focusing on economic matter,” EU rapporteur, Daniel Caspary said.

The interim agreement, Caspary said, should improve conditions and foster
regional growth in the long run.

Members of the EU Parliament reportedly expressed their concern over human
rights violations in Zimbabwe, warning that this could affect the economic
agreement’s future.

They called on the EU delegation in Harare to help Zimbabwe improve its
human rights records.

Zimbabwe’s checkered human rights record has been a concern for the EU,
culminating in the bloc slapping sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and
his inner circle.

Zanu PF maintains the sanctions have been economically debilitating and
should be removed.

The inclusive government set up a re-engagement committee to engage the EU,
but this has so far come to naught.

EPAs are set out to stimulate growth in African Caribbean and Pacific group
of countries and help them integrate into the world economy.

This EPA is the first agreement to be implemented, as the four countries
were the first to complete all the necessary reforms.
Now the countries and all EU members should ratify the agreement.

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Politicians hide behind empowerment to decimate industry

January 20, 2013 in Opinion

Has there ever been an economic tragedy simultaneously so profound and so
disregarded as Zimbabwe?

Sunday View

The situation is so much more tragic because it has raised so little
attention in the capitals of the world.

Zimbabwe’s financial collapse resulted in an inflation rate so extreme it
was treated more with wry amusement around the world than with the concern
rightfully due to its citizens.

How many countries in the world have gone so far backwards so fast? The
Zimbabwean middle class has long deserted the country, its most promising
citizens have left, its hospitals have few medicines, and a once glorious
education system lies in ruins.

A promising country with an industrial base once second only to SA in
southern Africa staggers on, with its citizenry at the mercy of its greedy,
self-righteous and conniving political class. The deeper it sinks, the more
conniving and the more toxic that political class becomes.

The era of hyperinflation is now over—thanks to what Zimbabwean politicians
laughingly call their “decision” to abandon the Zimbabwean dollar. There was
never really a decision; the currency had ceased to function.

Now Zimbabwe is technically growing again, but everybody knows it is growing
from minuscule to slightly larger than minuscule, and that is not much of an

Having gone through what the country has gone through, you might think the
consequences of economic catastrophe would have chastened the political
class, and made it more cautious about embarking, yet again, on any dubious
economic adventures. Yet, seemingly undeterred, the government has now
embarked on a process of “indigenisation” — a polite word for an asset grab
by the elite.

Under the cloak of localising ownership, Zimbabwe is picking off what
remains of the carcass of business entities, forcing them to sell half of
their equity to politically—connected locals. That includes a shady fund
managed by military figures.

This process is akin to SA’s process of black economic empowerment (BEE).
Yet, for all its flaws, the foundation on which BEE is premised is an
earnest attempt to rectify inequality caused by apartheid. Indigenisation,
on the other hand, has no such grand moral aims. It is simply an act of
national economic chauvinism.

That may play popularly among the political class; indeed, that is its
intention. But the economic consequences are horrendous. Essentially, it
means that to invest in Zimbabwe, the return on capital has to be double
that achieved elsewhere, as the equity is halved.

That may be possible in tiny, marginal areas of the economy, but generally
it is an obvious mistake.

The indigenisation programme places existing investors in Zimbabwe in a
tight spot. There is little international companies can do except try to
explain the basic economic rules to Zimbabwe’s political elite. But, as they
are not listening, the choices are stark.

Last week, Impala Platinum struck the deal necessary to abide by the
legislation, as its only choice is to comply or withdraw. As the ore is
available in minable quantities only in Zimbabwe and SA, its hand is forced.

In fact, as the company is one of the few large-scale employers left in
Zimbabwe, its bargaining position with labour is close to despotic. So what
it loses in the equity grab by the politicians it can counterbalance in
lower production costs — one of the unpleasant ironies of this situation.

Now Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere says his next target is the
banking sector.

No doubt the banks will comply. Yet the fact remains that, Zimbabwe has
taken another step towards economic perdition. It does so with the world,
not to mention its southern neighbour, determinedly looking the other way.
Ultimately, that is the real tragedy.

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Time to focus on familiar challenges

January 20, 2013 in Opinion

With this almost permanently grey skied, very wet new year, and water never
far from mind, it’s time to take up the gauntlet and face familiar
challenges, the first, being the continuing wetland crisis.

Column by Rosie Mitchell

I was rather taken with a recent headline in another Sunday paper, Wetlands
swallow up Chitungwiza houses, sent on to me with the email subject line
“The wetlands fight back” — an equally appropriate header.

While not dismissing the plight of the residents concerned without
compassion, it has to be said that this occurrence was perhaps timely,
drawing attention as it does both to the unsuitability of our precious,
life-giving vleis, which free of charge store and filter our drinking water,
for building, and to the fact that the relevant stands were “irregularly

Structures collapsed, houses may very well soon follow suit. Several toilets
collapsed too — again, highlighting the foolhardiness of construction in the
wetlands, for this is an all too common occurrence and is one of the ways
our ground water is becoming contaminated with sewage.

Thankfully, due to much higher media attention last year, the fate of our
city wetlands is now becoming an issue of greater concern for far more
residents and relevant organisations. on Tuesday I’ll be attending an
all-day event on the wetlands crisis and issues around it, run by the
Humanitarian Information Facilitation Centre, which also organised a media
tour of wetlands under onslaught late last year.

So, this good fight continues in earnest in 2013. Please join it, making
your objections to illegal agriculture, dumping and construction in your
nearest vlei felt by Environmental Management Agency and the council, in
writing and in person!

Another familiar challenge that resumes is the Two Oceans Half Marathon and
22km Trail Run in Cape Town at Easter.

An unexpectedly high number of runners turned out for the Harare Athletics
Club’s first event of the season, a 15,5km run with 8 and 10km add-ons
through the hills of Helensvale, with two explanations. first; post-festive
season resolutions to take control of one’s health, lose weight and get
fitter, and second; the countdown to Two Oceans — an annual event of over
four decades comprising a 56km ultra marathon, more recently, the Half and
most recently, the Trail Runs.

HAC itself also has a very long history, founded as it was back in 1949 and
with the phenomenal growth in running globally as a recreational pursuit of
great benefit to health and happiness, membership is on the rise. We have
finally got around to joining, too! Ten thousand places in the Two Oceans
Half Marathon for those who’d run it before, opened back in November, and
sold out in just four and a half days.

The remaining 6 000 entries opened to novices on Tuesday and sold out in a
phenomenal two and three-quarter hours! It seems this premiere race in the
“Mother City”, which draws runners from all over the world, may be heading
towards going the route of the London Marathon, where entry is by ballot and
unless you are lucky enough to get drawn, you must join a registered charity
team and raise a significant amount of money to be able to run.

Follow Two Oceans on website

Squeezing in the necessary training has become particularly challenging in
these weather conditions and we are resorting to many sodden runs in the
rain to keep it going!

Sponsor, Old Mutual, has a website called Do Great Things, where you can
access detailed training programmes tailored to each Two Oceans race and
your goal time, and friendly virtual coach, the ultra-runner Norrie
Williamson, who, we have discovered, replies on the forum to requests for
advice at lightning speed, and who is likely to be in Zimbabwe next month.
This facility is well worth drawing on, so follow the link on the Two Oceans
website and sign up.

It’s a good time of the year for snake spotting.

Out training in the rain, I was delighted to add a new, rarely seen species
to my list; the Common Purple Glossed Snake, a very shiny, unaggressive
burrowing snake, which though venomous, is not considered dangerous.

In appearance, it is quite easy to mistake the much more aggressive, also
venomous Stiletto Snake (or Burrowing Asp) for this one — though I quickly
drew the conclusion it was not one of these, from its length (it can grow
much longer, and this was just over a metre) and its passive behaviour!

Having once met a more diminutive Stiletto Snake in the vlei, and been
entirely startled by its aggression, behaving not at all as I expect and
experience from snakes, by swift withdrawal, but rather, by aggressively
moving towards me, its identification is well-etched in my mind!

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Conservation: Answer to farming woes

January 20, 2013 in Environment, Opinion

It would seem efforts by the government and other stakeholders to make
available inputs in a desperate bid to boost the agricultural sector in the
country have all but gone to waste.

Column by Chipo Masara

With the exception of the tobacco industry which has been on an upward
trend, there has been very little productivity, leaving millions of people
in Zimbabwe in dire need of food assistance.

What boggles many is how in just over a decade, Zimbabwe has gone from being
a major food exporter to being a country dependent on hand-outs to alleviate
its people’s hunger.

It is continually becoming clear that simply providing agricultural inputs
will not be enough to ensure food security in the country. What is clearly
required to revive agriculture, which is clearly the panacea to acquiring a
food security status, is a proper turn-around strategy.

Many factors have played a part in seeing the agricultural sector crumble,
some factors being natural and beyond the farmers’ control, while some, the
farmers have brought on themselves.

It is now undeniable that the climate has indeed been changing, which has
given much credence to the climate change and global warming phenomenon. In
what many scientists believe to be the culmination of the phenomenon, there
has been a major shift in the country’s rainfall patterns, something that
has left many farmers unsure as to when exactly to start planting.

When the rains finally come, they are often followed by long dry periods
characterised by intense heat, which has in most instances ravaged the
crops, making replanting a necessity. And then there are times, as is
presently happening in most areas, when the rainfall is too abundant and
damages the crops in the end.

The Herald of Wednesday 16 January had a story entitled “Wet spell triggers
widespread leaching” which talked about how “low-lying areas are now so
waterlogged that crops such as maize and cotton are suffering from stunted

Ecological balance has been upset

The wanton cutting down of trees by some so-called farmers has upset the
ecological balance that once existed, destroying wildlife habitat and
leaving the country facing serious deforestation. So, in a nutshell, years
of inappropriate agricultural practices have had an adverse impact on

It has resulted in land degradation and decline in soil fertility, pollution
of water and air, and loss of wildlife, among other woes.

Many conservationists believe it is time more efforts were put, not so much
in gathering inputs (as these would still come to waste if present
conditions still prevail), but in helping farmers adapt to new farming
practices that have been proven to work, even under the country’s current
climatic conditions.

Time to adopt sustainable farming methods in Zim

Besides natural disasters that have rendered farming a mammoth task, most
farmers have not made matters any easier on themselves. Most of them, mainly
owing to clear ignorance, have not been practising good farming methods.

They have for some time employed tactics that they believed minimised
operating costs, like slash and burn, which have degraded the soil, making
it infertile and as a result yielding very little. The overdependence on
pesticides and other chemicals has only served to tire the soils even

The adoption of conservation farming by every farmer is long overdue.

Conservation farming has been described as “any system or practice which
aims to conserve soil and water by using surface cover (mulch) to minimise
run-off and erosion and improve the conditions for plant establishment and

Conservation farming is a system that is designed to use the mulch cover to
reduce soil erosion and land degradation, reduce soil temperatures and
conserve moisture for plant growth, increase organic matter levels and
improve soil structure and fertility.

This is meant to achieve viable and sustainable productivity.

It also includes components and practices such as zero tillage,
agro-forestry, alley cropping, integrated pest management, organic farming,
crop and pasture rotation and contour farming, among many others.

For those with a profound interest in farming and would want to know more
about conservation farming, there will be a follow-up article next week that
simplifies the different components of this type of farming, describing in
detail what it involves.

Zimbabwe has the potential to not only revive the agricultural sector and
ensure food security for its entire people, but to once again become the
bread basket of southern Africa, and beyond.

What is required is for farmers to realise that it is no longer
business-as-usual and that with a change in strategy, they can make the
present conditions work for them.

It is time to adopt sustainable farming practices.

For feedback email,

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Declare roads national crisis

January 20, 2013 in Editorial

The state of Zimbabwe’s roads should be declared a national emergency!

The Standard Editorial

The country has just emerged out of the bloodiest festive season ever with
the death toll peaking at more than 200. A good number of the road accidents
can be attributed to the state of the roads.

For such a small country, it is a great tragedy that so many people perish
in a four-week period. Besides snatching away members of families who could
have been sole breadwinners, the cost to the country’s economy is also
immense; some of the dead were very likely highly-skilled individuals whose
contribution to nation building was sizeable. Although the statistical focus
was on the happy season, it is obvious the death toll during the rest of the
year isn’t any different.

Without looking solely at the emotional side of road accidents, it is also
very important to consider other negative impacts of a poor road network.
The potholed roads have impacted very badly on motorists as damage to
vehicles is now a constant menace.

Bad roads speed up vehicle wear and tear; often whole wheels, let alone
suspension systems, have to be replaced in short periods of time. The effect
on families as scarce money is used for vehicle repair instead of family
upkeep is difficult to quantify but is obviously huge.

Following the collapse of our railway system, industry thrives on road
transport which has become not only costly but also unreliable due to the
state of the roads.

Zimbabwe is also at the epicentre of the region’s transport system. This
means the whole region looks up to Zimbabwe for the flawless transportation
of goods. It would be a tragedy if transporters shun Zimbabwe and find
alternative routes.

The tourism sector was about to trough out of its worst days and Zimbabwe’s
hosting of the UNWTO conference in August was the icing on the cake. But the
state of the roads just might be the Achilles’ heel that will thwart the
country’s efforts to lure back tourists.
Government should therefore redouble its efforts to correct this national
disgrace — the money is there.

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Hosts must give UNWTO positive coverage

January 20, 2013 in Editorial

Zimbabwe is the co-host of the United Nations World Tourism (UNWTO)
conference scheduled for August 2013.

Sunday Opinion with Tafara Shumba

This global event will be hosted on the African soil for the second time
since its inception. The first time it was held in Africa was in 2007 in
Senegal. Zimbabwe’s chance of hosting the same event again will be probably
after 300 years.

This alone is sufficient to show how much Zimbabwe has been honoured. It is,
however, unfortunate that our media seem to be unaware of the importance of
an event of such a magnitude.

The local media have been writing acres of negative aspects on the
preparations of the event. The reportage borders on discrediting the
capacity of the country in hosting this event. The crusade was dramatically
upped in the run up to the assessment visit by the UNWTO inspection team.

It would help a lot if the local media could pluck a leaf from the manner
that the UK media covered the Olympics in their country. The classic
coverage epitomises the highest degree of responsible and patriotic
journalism. The UK media showered the Olympics with positive coverage,
starting with the preparations up to the closing ceremony.

The British media invested heavily in their coverage of the Olympics. The
BBC, for instance, ensured that 52 million people, which is 90% of the UK
population, watched the Olympics. In addition, the Corporation dedicated 26
channels to the Olympics. As a result, BBC won a gold medal for its

The BBC’s Director General was at one time forced to make public
clarifications after it was alleged that he was unhappy at the emphasis that
the corporation was putting on the Olympics to the exclusion of all else. He
had to make these clarifications after a deafening outcry from the citizens.

These are the citizens who understand the importance of hosting
international events.

Most newspapers ran special supplements and souvenir issues throughout the
fortnight. Headline writers and sub-editors ran out of superlatives.

This paid dividends as their sales and advertising revenue drastically
increased. The same can happen in this country in August 2013.

The hosting of the UNWTO General Assembly stands to benefit all and sundry,
the media included. The benefits are political, economic and social.

The general assembly will provide Zimbabwe with an opportunity to market
itself to the more than 4 000 delegates from 158 countries expected to
attend. The assembly must prove that Zimbabwe is back on the map as a safe
place to visit.

The mega event must be a time for the restoration of the national pride and
ego. Over 100 countries will be there to endorse the national pride. The
media should assist, as Walter Muzembi said, in the shaping of brand
Zimbabwe by putting greater accent on positives.
The assembly is set to boost the country’s economy.

Tourism is one of the fastest growing industries in Zimbabwe. It is the
second largest sector after mining, which contributes to the national purse.
The general assembly will market the tourism potential in Zimbabwe and this
will ensure an increase in the arrival of tourists.

Some economists have projected that Victoria Falls will generate more money
during the assembly than it does in a year. Favourable publicity from the
media will ensure that more delegates will prefer staying in Victoria Falls
to Livingstone.

The media must, therefore, understand that it is not the infrastructure per
se that will determine the success of this event. The type of reportage
given to this event during this preparatory stage has a big role to play in
the success or failure of this event.
The new facilities which are being put in place in Victoria Falls will be
left behind for life after the assembly.

These facilities, especially the 5 000-seat conference centre, will boost
Victoria Falls’ reputation as a world-class conferencing destination. The
Victoria Falls folks can give testimony to this as they immensely benefited
when CHOGM, which was hosted in the same area in the late 1990s. The raw
water pumping system was revamped and the ablution facilities were
constructed at the schools that hosted the delegates.

There are also employment opportunities for the locals who are providing
much of the labour in the construction and refurbishment of facilities such
as hospitals, roads, hotels and the airport among others. A lot more will be
absorbed in the tourism and hospitality sector during the assembly.

Even farmers, vendors, the entertainment industry, transporters, retailers
and many other sectors stand to accrue benefits from this event. The media
themselves will realise an increase in sales and advertising revenue.

The media should be the goodwill ambassadors for Zimbabwe if maximum
benefits are to be reaped from this event. Government should engage the
media and impress upon them the importance of hosting this event.

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Historic week raises hope, eyebrows

January 20, 2013 in Editorial

January has been a month full of surprises. It is the month before President
Robert Mugabe’s 89th birthday.

From the Editor’s Desk with Nevanji Madanhire

From February 22, he will begin to wave goodbye to his octogenarian years; a
year later he will become what is called a nonagenarian. Only a handful ever
achieve that feat.

The death last week, aged 79, of Vice-President John Nkomo must have been,
to him, a stark reminder of that reality. Nkomo’s three predecessors all
fell short.

On January 16 a headline in the official Herald hit the nation in the face:
“We’ve put aside our differences”. Two days later headlines proclaimed that
Mugabe and the other principals had approved the draft constitution.

The nation must have heaved a sigh of relief. President Mugabe told visiting
outgoing African Union chairman and Benin President Boni Yayi Zimbabwe would
this year hold peaceful and friendly elections as Zimbabweans have realised
that they have a common destiny despite their differences.

“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.”

This is by any measure a historic statement coming from Mugabe! For the
first time he is looking ahead to “a common destiny”, an outlook he has not
accentuated in the past, choosing instead to talk more about “our history”.

If it comes from deep down his heart, the statement changes the playing
field altogether. What have our difference been? They have mainly been
founded on the thinking that this country belongs to those who actively
participated in the liberation war; the whole liberation movement had been
reduced to a single facet — participation in the liberation war, preferably
as a fighter.

This thinking had rendered all political affiliations not directly related
to the 1970s’ war, at best irrelevant, at worst counter-revolutionary.

It had led to a chorus from the uniformed forces, most of them former
liberation war fighters, that this country would not be ruled by anyone who
didn’t participate in the war.

Such pronouncements, particularly from the military, had become the single
biggest threat to our country’s endeavours towards a common democratic

On the common destiny, Mugabe had this to say: “That is the understanding.
That is how we have groomed ourselves into that kind of understanding and 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.”

These words must have left the country incredulous and wondering what the
old fox was up to!

But when 48 hours later he, with his political rivals, approved the draft
constitution, every Zimbabwean must have been given some relief.

“We are glad to say that we have now come to the conclusion of the exercise
[drafting the constitution] and all parties are agreed. Sure there will be
some t’s to cross and i’s to dot but we are generally agreed and the
finalisation of the draft has now been made.”

But describing the road ahead as crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s is
obviously an understatement. There are too many positions too deeply
entrenched in Zimbabwean politics, particularly in Mugabe’s own party, to
underestimate the potential for strife.

We have a ruling elite which has been in power the whole duration of our
independence. For them, a future where electoral democracy takes precedency
over the politics of patronage, poses a lot of challenges and a younger
generation lurks on the touchline to take over. The old guard don’t want the
status quo to be rocked.

Zanu PF’s “Young Turks”, most of who are in the disciplined forces, wish to
take over not only the party leadership but also the leadership of the
state. They know a transparent democratic process stands in their way and
are prepared to fight to achieve their ends. These will very likely be the
major purveyors of electoral violence. They have seen political violence
work in the past and are inclined to try it again.

Mugabe’s call for a common destiny will therefore be his last great fight:
it begins in his own backyard; it begins with security sector reform! As
indicated above, the security sector is the single biggest obstacle to
democratic processes in Zimbabwe. In the past decade or so this sector had,
for political expediency, been highly politicised.

The line between Zanu PF as a ruling party and the state as an apolitical
living form was blurred to such an extent the military and the police saw
the party as being bigger than the state. Their service was to the party
first and to the state second.

Army generals and police commissioners began to see their natural path as
leading first to senior party positions and later into politics or to the
leadership of state enterprises, the parastatals.

The barracks had become the springboards to parliament and to the corridors
of power.

But how does Mugabe change that without upsetting the very people who have
kept him in power? His fix is telling his closest allies, “Guys, let’s get
into elections which you’re likely to lose.”
So, of all reforms demanded by the Global Political Agreement, security
sector reforms will be the toughest, but without it, we can’t have a common
destiny. All other reforms, though very important, are ancillary to this.

The message that the Benin president carried from Mugabe is very
interesting: “We need to strengthen democracy in our countries. We need to
strengthen good governance. We need to strengthen the peace and stability
and unity of our countries.”

Contrary to popular belief, this message indicates that Mugabe has not been
blind to events taking place in other parts of the African continent. He has
seen the Arab Spring and how it led to the demise of some of his staunchest

He has seen the effects of war in many African countries, be it in Sudan,
the DRC, the Central African Republic and now in Mali. In Nigeria, Islamists
are waging their own holy war while civil war rages in failed states such as

All these events point to the message President Boni Yayi got from Harare:
We need to strengthen the peace and stability and unity of our countries!

Such wisdom comes with age, even if it takes 90 years!

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