Thursday, 20 January 2011 19:34
AS Zimbabwe prepares for a general election later this year, the country’s
shambolic voters’ roll contains dozens of names of people born in 1897,
thousands of children under 18 years of age and babies born in 2007.
According to two audits of the March 2008 voters’ roll, one by an
independent analyst and another by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network
(Zesn), the roll also contains thousands of ghost voters.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC has, since 2000, accused Zanu PF and
the Registrar-General’s office of using the chaotic voters’ roll to rig
elections in favour of President Robert Mugabe and his former ruling party.
The MDC and civic organisations have been pushing for a raft of electoral
reforms, among them empowering an independent electoral commission to audit
the existing voters’ roll, conduct voter registration and administer the
The independent analyst’s audit revealed that there were 26 475 people aged
100 years and above, of which 17 475 were 107 years old.
It also showed that there were 5 600 children below 18 years old, who
included babies born between 2005 and 2007, on the roll.
There were 93 children below one year old, who included Mildah Nehuhambi
from Chief Nyashanu Nehuhambi’s village, Buhera, who was born on February 25
2007, Argentina Vurahore born on January 17 2007 from Kambuyuni village,
Gokwe, and Mhurai Mavuto born on February 12 the same year.
Excerpts of the March 2008 voters’ roll for a ward in Mutare West in
Marange, included names like Bumhiwa Pachawo who was born in 1898. Some of
those born in 1897 were Zvichamunetsa Dikita from Tivaringire village in
Zaka East, Chiriseri Sansly Munyukwe from Mutumiri Kraal, Headman
Nyamangara, Chief Zvimba and Derina Shiringo from Chikomba East.
If Zimbabwe is to go by the 2008 voters’ roll, then it probably deserves to
be included in the Guinness Book of Records as having the highest number of
elderly people aged 107 years and over. According to the online encyclopedia
Wikipedia, the oldest person in the world is believed to be 114-year-old
Eunice Sanborn of America, who was born on July 20 1896.
One source who was part of the team that undertook the audit said: “This
makes one wonder how a child between one and three years can be found on the
voters’ roll. We know very well that voter registration in this country is
done manually, where one is required to have a valid passport or national
identification (ID) and proof of residence. I assume the one-year-olds went
with their IDs to register.”
Extracts show that most of the people aged above 98 years and children aged
between one and three years were from rural constituencies such as Bargain
Estates-Selous in Chegutu, Manyoni Resettlement in Kadoma, Saunyama in
Nyanga, Hama in Chirumanzi and Hwedza.
The independent audit of the voters’ roll which included ghost voters,
duplication of names and babies came at a time when Zesn has produced its
own report, which was launched yesterday, also revealing that a significant
number of ghost voters still exist on the voter’s roll.
Zesn took a sample size of 102 wards of 1 958 in Zimbabwe and did a
comparison of registered voters between 2008 and 2010 to test the voters’
roll accuracy, currency and comprehensiveness.
Some of the sampled wards were in Mutare South, Bikita South, Shamva North,
Bindura North, Guruve South, Muzarabani North, Mount Darwin North, Zvimba,
Mhondoro Ngezi and Mutoko South.
Three tests were used to conduct the analysis, namely a computer test, a
list-to-people field test and a people-to-list test, an analysis of the
According to the audit report, the list to people test showed that 27% of
voters registered on the voters’ roll were deceased while the computer test
disclose 2 344 people born between 1900 and 1909 therefore aged between 101
The Zesn analysis shows that nine born between 1890 and 1899, aged between
111 and 120 years old in 2008, were also on the voters’ roll.
“Overall, the presence of close to a third of registered voters who are
ghost voters revealed by the list-to-people audit, has always been a concern
to most Zimbabweans. This is a clear indication that no serious efforts have
been taken to update and cleanse the national voters’ roll of persons that
should not be on the roll,” read the report.
“The presence of more aged ghost voters is a clear reflection of an
inherent problem in the voters` roll which has been accumulating over time.
Broadly, the two reasons explained above (deaths and migration) account to
the majority of ghost voters in the national voters’ roll. Therefore, a
fresh voter registration exercise should target such crucial areas, whilst
also focusing on age specific dynamics.”
Zesn said while it was mandatory for the government to continuously update
the voters’ roll, “such a crucial exercise has not been meticulously
undertaken in Zimbabwe”.
Last month at a press conference, Register-General Tobaiwa Mudede said since
August his office was updating the voters’ roll and so far 32 000 cases of
expired voters had been found. He said the updating was a process hence
would take time.
The Zesn audit observed lower voter participation among youths aged 18-30
years who consisted of only 18% from the computer test, while old age (71
plus) showed a total of 9% or 32 901 of registered voters.
Mashonaland East recorded a large number of “grandparents” age group (16%)
while Manicaland registered 14%, and Bulawayo and Midlands 13% each.
“Such findings fly against the population demographics in Zimbabwe, with a
life expectancy now of 45.779 years. This figure ie 32 901, underestimates
the total national voters’ roll population of people aged 71+, as such the
audit findings are from a small sample size of only 102 wards.”
“Such findings are inconsistent with the age distribution of the national
population, where only 3,9% of Zimbabweans are aged 65+10. Going by this,
the proportion of the 71+ should even be smaller.”
“Additionally, with Zimbabweans’ low average life expectancy of only 45,77
years; such a finding is divorced from the real life situation,” says the
audit adding that the small younger generation could be a result of the
consequence of the HIV and Aids pandemic,” reads the audit report.
The legal framework was blamed for having a number of loopholes especially
in the deletion of voters from the voters’ roll which may deprive the right
to vote to some voters.
“While the law stipulates that a voter may present proof of residence and
the national registration card, in practice proof of residence has been
demanded without flexibility especially for urban dwellers which increased
the burden of registration as a voter. These demands have prevented
legitimate voter registration, which ultimately leave a number of people
unregistered,” the report said.
“Proof of residence is also discriminatory for people who are homeless but
would like to vote as they cannot register to vote due to lack of proof of
residence. A similar situation is faced by transient and internally
displaced individuals who lack a stable permanent home address and therefore
are unable to vote,” says the report.
The deletion process, according to Zesn’s analysis is not transparent such
that even if the law provided modalities for the deletions they could be
abused and some voters could be maliciously deleted from the voters’ roll.
Thursday, 20 January 2011 19:31
DIVERSIFIED Indian giant Essar Africa Holdings — which scooped a controlling
stake in the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Zisco) — have set their sights
on much bigger acquisitions in the country, including a major stake in a
listed miner, RioZim Ltd.
Government last year announced that it was selling 60% of its stake in Zisco
to Essar for an as-yet undisclosed amount. Government has an 89% stake in
Zisco. Sources close to the agreement said the deal with Essar, which is yet
to be signed, was however almost ready to be taken to cabinet for approval
A government negotiating team on Wednesday held a long meeting with the
Essar team in Harare to discuss the signing of the deal. Industry and
International Trade minister Welshman Ncube (pictured) yesterday confirmed
the meeting and said he expects negotiations to conclude by month-end. The
signing, which had been scheduled for this month is now expected next month.
Essar is controlled by Indian brothers Shashi and Ravi Ruia whose fortune is
estimated at US$15 billion. The company has international operations in
power, gas, mining exploration, communications, shipping ports and
logistics, and publishing.
The Essar team in Harare is led by resident director Firdhose Covadia. The
firm’s advisors include chartered accountants Delloittes, financial advisors
Renaissance Capital and law firm Kantor & Immermann.
The delay in the signing of the agreement has not deterred Essar who are in
the process of setting up corporate offices in Harare and buying properties
for its senior managers in preparation for an estimated US$1,5 billion
investment in mining and infrastructure development.
The company’s interest in Zimbabwe extends to iron ore extraction and
export, coal mining and beneficiation, infrastructure development and power
Government sources this week said the company had shown “a great interest”
in underwriting an ambitious quest by listed miner RioZim to raise US$40
million for the Sega coalfields and thermal power project.
Contacted for comment this week RioZim CEO Josephat Sachikonye confirmed
Essar’s interest in the mining firm.
“They (Essar) are not our underwriters,” said Sachikonye. “In fact, they are
the ones who are talking to us. There is no agreement yet.”
Asked at what stage the negotiations had reached, he said: “I cannot
disclose that. All I can say is that we are still talking.”
RioZim are on the market to raise capital for the development of the Sengwa
coalfields in Gokwe North. The project is integral in the construction of a
thermal power plant adjacent the coal fields. Mining activity on the Special
Grant 849 designated for the power station was stopped in May 2008. Since
then efforts have been focused on the power station project.
Energy and Power Development minister Elton Mangoma in an interview this
week confirmed Essar’s interest in power development.
“Essar have been coming here for a long time,” said Mangoma. “They are
serious investors and are interested in power. That interest has been
expressed to us.”
Sources close to the company this week revealed that by the time Essar
started bidding for Ziscosteel, it already had a foot in the door as it had
already opened talks with government and the private sector. In fact, the
company has already started mining exploration for iron ore at Manisi in the
Featherstone area. The Manisi claims are owned by Buchwa Iron Mining Company
(Bimco). Bimco is a wholly owned subsidiary of Zisco and owns most of the
iron ore deposits in Zimbabwe.
“Essar showed interest in the Chivhu iron ore before looking at Zisco
itself,” a source said. “There are 33 billion tonnes of ore in that deposit.
Bimco’s figures are ‘inferred’ and thus are not really a bankable
proposition. In order to take Manisi to the bank as security to borrow money
the deposit would need to be measured and the deposit upgraded to ‘proven’.
How do you do this? …With a drilling programme.”
The source said the Manisi iron ore has a 43 iron content which is lower
than the 52-57% at claims in Redcliff. He however said the company could
still make money from exporting iron or which is on high demand at major
steel plants throughout the world.
“The other option for Essar is to actually build a new steel plant in
Featherstone and process ore from Manisi,” the source said. “That is long
term though. At the moment they have to repair Zisco to produce 2,5 million
tonnes of steel.”
Thursday, 20 January 2011 19:29
FINANCE minister Tendai Biti warned on Wednesday that Zimbabwe could face a
“bloodbath” at elections this year and urged the international community to
do more to prevent crises in Africa.
Biti, a former opposition stalwart who has helped bring Zimbabwe’s economy
back from the brink of collapse, warned of “disastrous, debilitating
consequences” if there is a repeat of the violent, contested elections of
“The tell-tale signs are already there that you could have another
bloodbath,” he told Agence France-Press on the margins of a global poverty
forum in Johannesburg.
“What is required is pro-activeness to prevent quite clearly a foreseeable
situation,” he said, alluding to the need for foreign states to step in.
President Robert Mugabe, who has led Zimbabwe since 1980, has called for new
elections this year, saying the tense power-sharing government formed after
the 2008 vote is no longer working.
Biti’s party, the MDC, and Mugabe’s Zanu PF formed a coalition government in
2009 after a violent presidential poll that saw MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
withdraw from the race, citing violence against his supporters.
The stand-off ground the country to a halt and sparked an economic crisis
that saw hyperinflation reach world record levels of billions of percent.
Biti, who told AFP he inherited “the worst job in the world” as Finance
minister, oversaw an economic overhaul in which the country ditched its
inflation-ravaged currency and adopted the US dollar.
The move helped bring inflation down to a figure of 3,2% last month.
However, Biti warned of a return to economic crisis if new elections unleash
fresh violence or if Zimbabweans see them as unfair.
“If citizens feel that this is not an election, this is a sham and an excuse
for assaulting us or torturing us, of killing us, of destroying our
livestock, there will be capital flight, there will be physical flight
across the border,” he said.
“If that is the case, yes, there will be disastrous, debilitating
consequences. All the work we have done, all the construction we have done,
will dissipate ... in seconds.”
Biti also criticised the international community for reacting late to
developing crises in Africa, and urged the United Nations, the African Union
and Sadc to prepare for the possibility of a fresh crisis in Zimbabwe.
“International institutions have failed Africa. They are reactive. They wait
for crises to happen,” he said, citing the current political stand-off in
Ivory Coast as an example.
“What is required is pro-activeness to prevent quite clearly a foreseeable
situation,” he said.
A poll published on January 5 showed that 70% of Zimbabweans want elections
this year, but less than half the electorate believed such polls would be
free and fair.
One in seven also feared election campaign intimidation or violence, which
characterised the 2008 vote, amid slipping confidence in the unity
The Afrobarometer survey questioned 1 192 citizens across Zimbabwe in
October last year. — Sapa-AFP.
Thursday, 20 January 2011 19:28
Faith Zaba/Paidamoyo Muzulu
A CRUCIAL Zanu PF politburo meeting this month will decide the extent to
which the party wants the government of national unity to be extended after
President Robert Mugabe insisted its term ends next month. Insiders say most
party bigwigs will support an extension of not more than six months.
Sources in the politburo told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that top on
the agenda for their next meeting expected before month-end was the lifespan
of the Government of National Unity.
They said Mugabe, who together with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his
deputy Arthur Mutambara, has the final say on when elections should be held,
would obviously consult his cronies first so that they can come up with an
agreed party position on how long the GNU should be extended.
The sources said everyone was in agreement that they did not want an
“open-ended” extension with no timeframes for the implementation of the
agreed principles, such as electoral and other necessary reforms, that were
needed to pave the way for a free and fair election.
Sadc facilitator, South African President Jacob Zuma, has said there should
be a clear roadmap leading to the elections at the expiry of the Inclusive
government. Among other things, the roadmap should include the completion of
constitutional reforms, security sector reform, and media and electoral
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo confirmed that the next politburo meeting
was likely going to discuss the extension of the GNU.
“Yes, we are likely to discuss and come up with a party position on how long
the GNU can be extended,” Gumbo said in an interview on Wednesday.
“However, it is still up to the principals to decide when the next elections
would be held. But I am sure the president will come to us and we will
discuss and come up with a position on the way forward.”
Gumbo concurred with the other politburo members, saying they wanted an
extension which was not more than six months and should be issues-based with
a timetable or a framework of things to be implemented before the elections.
“We are agreed that we don’t want an extension of the GNU. We don’t see
ourselves going beyond August — we will go by what the president said that
we cannot go beyond six months,” he said.
Asked if six months was realistic considering the snail’s pace of the
constitution-making process due to lack of funding and an alleged deliberate
ploy to stall the process in order to delay elections by a certain section
in the GNU, Gumbo said Mugabe has since ordered the acceleration of the
Although there might be some members opposed to early elections, senior Zanu
PF officials said they could not openly express this view which is contrary
to what Mugabe has been advocating.
Mugabe has said elections should be held soon after the referendum,
irrespective of whether the draft constitution is accepted or rejected.
Meanwhile, election campaigning in Zanu PF has intensified with those vying
for parliamentary and senatorial seats already fighting it out.
“The campaigns had become so dirty in some instances. Generally it had
become so divisive. People were decampaigning sitting MPs in their presence
hence the announcement by Cde (national commissar) WebsterShamu that
electioneering should stop until primary election dates are announced,” said
Zanu PF said it would field serving and former security forces as candidates
in the next harmonised elections.
Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa confirmed the
development in a telephone interview with the Zimbabwe Independent on Monday
“The party (Zanu PF) is composed of all sectors of people including war
veterans,” Mutasa said, “They were the root of the party in Mozambique. We
cannot stop them from contesting if they so wish and they have the support.
If the people want them, we cannot deny them that space.”
Minister of Defence and Zanu PF legal secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa last
October told parliament that there would be many security officers competing
for political office as most of those who joined the army in 1980 were
reaching retirement age.
“We should not lose sight of the fact that the majority of those that were
integrated into the Defence Forces in 1980 are now reaching retirement age,”
Mnangagwa said in reply to a question on serving security forces
participating in politics.
The minister added that security services personnel like any other citizen
had freedom of association and assembly and could join political parties of
Thursday, 20 January 2011 19:17
STATE Enterprises and Parastatals minister Gorden Moyo has been sucked into
the fierce political storm that erupted at the MDC-T Bulawayo office over
plans to impose the minister as the party’s provincial chairman.
The positioning of Moyo, who was not at last Saturday’s meeting, ahead of
the party congress in May is part of a wider jostling for posts by officials
seeking influential offices.
MDC-T insiders said there was drama at the Bulawayo offices on Saturday
afternoon as debate ensued over the plan by MPs, including Pelandaba
legislator Samuel Sandla Khumalo and Bulawayo Central’s Dorcas Sibanda, to
dethrone incumbent provincial chairperson Agnes Mlotshwa, and replace her
with Moyo, a former civic activist.
MDC-T deputy spokesperson Thabitha Khumalo declined that there were serious
party scuffles over posts.
“I was not at the meeting but I would tell you that there is no infighting
in the MDC-T,” she said.
But sources who attended the weekend meeting told the Zimbabwe Independent
this week that Khumalo threatened party member Dick Mohammed who led a group
opposed to Moyo’s planned ascendency.
Mohammed’s group is allegedly opposed to Moyo’s imposition as the Bulawayo
provincial chairman saying the minister was not even an ordinary party
member. For Moyo to assume a party post, MDC-T officials say, he has to
serve the party for at least two years.
Moyo was handpicked from civil society by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
as Minister of State in his office at the inception of the coalition
government in February 2009.
“How can Moyo be given the post just like that; we have to follow party
procedure.” asked an MDC-T senior official who requested anonymity. “We won’t
allow Moyo to enjoy our fruits of hard labour without serving the party for
Moyo was previously linked to the vice-presidency’s post currently occupied
by Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe although he denied the claims.
Contacted for comment, Moyo dismissed the story as untrue and refused to
discuss the issue.
“Your story is incorrect and thus I can’t comment on information that is not
true,” he said.
At the Saturday meeting, sources said, tempers flared over the involvement
of the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) in party politics
to bolster Moyo’s image among city residents. Moyo is the patron of BPRA and
is allegedly using the association to build his political empire.
“BPRA officials were instructed by party stalwarts in the city to desist
from playing politics. But basically the bickering and infighting is all
about party posts ahead of the May congress,” said the source.
BPRA coordinator Rodrick Fayayo denied that they were campaigning for Moyo,
arguing that the association was not involved in politics.
“Our membership is drawn from all political parties and we are not
campaigning for Moyo; it’s not true,” he said.
Meanwhile, the fight over posts also surfaced in Matabeleland North at the
weekend where provincial executive members led by Sengezo Tshabangu were
involved in a heated debate following a meeting addressed by MDC-T national
chairman Lovemore Moyo in Hwange. Lovemore Moyo is said to be on a whirlwind
tour of provinces to garner support to retain his post at the May congress.
Thursday, 20 January 2011 19:16
THE Zimbabwe Industry Tobacco Auction Centre (Zitac), the country’s
embattled tobacco sales auction floor operator, has threatened the Tobacco
Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) with unspecified action for alleged bias in
handling the wrangle between property owners Boka Investments and Zitac.
This move comes barely a week after Zitac shareholder Caleb Dengu demanded
Agriculture minister Joseph Made’s resignation. Dengu was unhappy that Made
rubberstamped a decision by TIMB, the industry’s regulator, to award a
tobacco auction floor licence to Boka Investments, a company run by late
businessman Roger Boka’s family.
A document purportedly authored by Dengu warns that Zitac, currently tenants
at the Boka Tobacco Auction floors owned by Boka Investments, would block
the property owners from running the floors after TIMB last year issued an
operating licence to the company. Boka Investments’ licensing signalled an
end to Zitac’s nearly 10-year occupancy at the disputed property.
TIMB’s decision follows a High Court order in November 2010 that “barred,
restrained and interdicted” TIMB from issuing an operating licence to Zitac
if it intends to operate from the 50 000 square metre Boka Tobacco Auction
“We would like to state upfront that we are concerned with the impartiality
of TIMB regarding a commercial dispute between two indigenous companies,”
reads the statement dated January 17, 2011.
“The Boka Auction Floor will not open unless Zitac is given a tobacco
auction licence. The recovery of the tobacco sector is going to be affected
negatively if farmers experience marketing problems. It is unfortunate that
TIMB is indifferent to people who are bent on looting other people’s
Philemon Mangena, Zitac CEO, referred questions relating to this document to
Dengu after being asked to specify the action the company would take if Boka
Investments starts operating at the auction floors at the start of the
tobacco marketing season on February 15.
“I didn’t do that document. Let me give you Caleb Dengu’s number. He is the
one who wrote it. I haven’t read it so I can’t comment on it,” said Mangena
in a telephone interview on Tuesday. Repeated efforts to get comment from
Dengu were in vain as his mobile phone continued to ring unanswered.
TIMB, Zitac further alleged, should not “take sides” in the dispute adding
that the industry regulator should be “instructed” to grant them a licence,
arguing that the firm has a running lease agreement of the Boka Auction
Floor. Boka Investments is seeking to nullify the agreement signed in 2001
after blaming Zitac for breaching the contract.
However, in what could be a forerunner to anticipated drama at the auction
floors, the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board on Wednesday said two auction
floors including the disputed Boka Tobacco Auction Floors would be opened to
the public by mid next month despite concerns raised by Zitac.
Thursday, 20 January 2011 19:16
TIME Bank, a re-licensed commercial bank, says it has transformed its focus
to investment banking and will in March commence taking deposits from the
Chris Takura Tande, the managing director of the bank that was closed seven
years ago and only re-licensed in 2009 after a bitter legal wrangle, told
the Zimbabwe Independent this week that the financial institution will be
re-opened in phases.
“Time Bank has decided to go the investment banking route,” Tande said in
written response to questions from the Independent. “Under this business
plan, the bank will be re-opened in phases. As part of phase one of such a
business model, the bank commenced lending activities without taking any
deposits from the public.”
He said the loans were coming from “shareholders funds and for a specific
housing project and related business”.
The bank has secured from its shareholders a line of credit of US$20 million
to finance the current projects.
“Besides the housing project there are a number of projects that are lined
up which have a significant impact on the needs of our clients,” Tande said.
“The last phase will be deposit taking from the public, and we intend to
start taking deposits by March 2011. We are not in a hurry to mobilise
deposits to support our business plan.”
In 2009 the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe agreed to the restoration of the bank’s
operating licence after the Administrative Court ruling its 2004 closure by
the central bank.
The bank was placed under a curatorship in 2004 and subsequently its licence
cancelled in 2006, but the Administrative Court reinstated the licence in
Local media has been in recent weeks carrying Time Bank advertisements of
“The Golden CT Suburb”— upmarket residential stands which can be purchased
through the bank as part of its plan to grow the balance sheet.
The bank, according to Tande, sees “a lot of opportunities” in investment
banking, a banking sector currently not so active owing to liquidity
Central bank figures show that commercial banks account for 87% of the total
assets whilst building societies and merchant banks accounted for 8% and 4%
Asked how they will transact in investment banking when they have a
commercial banking licence, Tande said: “Investment banking can be done in
the context of a commercial banking licence. The commercial banking licence
offers the widest range of banking activities, and from the list of
permissible banking activities, Time Bank will emphasise those activities
that are normally done by investment banks.”
Investment banking entails financing projects, assisting individuals,
corporations and governments in raising capital by underwriting and/or
acting as the client’s agent in the issuance of securities.
Like most financial institutions, Tande said, his bank is undergoing massive
restructuring and streamlining of operations that will result in downsizing
branch network and centralisation of operations.
Following the introduction of multiple currencies in 2009, several banking
groups disposed of units and rationalsised operations in their bid to
realign capital positions and business.
The bank has four branches in Harare and a branch each in Bulawayo and
Mutare, which have been maintained since 2004 although they remained under
lock and key.
“We have developed a business plan that does not rely on using deposits from
the public,” he said. “The organic growth of the bank will begin from
utilisation of shareholders funds, and proceed to turnover a lot of
non-funds-based business, thereby earning a significant non-interest based
income,” he said.
Last February the bank began offering a loan scheme that attracts 5%
interest with the loans being repayable within six months.
Thursday, 20 January 2011 19:15
NEWSDAY, Zimbabwe’s only independent daily newspaper, continues to grow
strongly with daily sales expected to reach 45 000 in three months, Group
Chief Executive Raphael Khumalo has said.
NewsDay is published by Alpha Media Holdings who are also publishers of the
Standard and the Zimbabwe Independent.
Khumalo said: “As a new kid on the block we are committed to updating
readers and advertisers on a regular basis regarding the performance of
NewsDay has been on the market since June last year and is now the most
widely read daily newspaper in Zimbabwe in only seven short months.
“We have exceeded every budget projection and we are very bullish about
NewsDay. Circulation growth has been the biggest performer which in turn has
proved to advertisers that NewsDay is a strong national advertising
platform,” Khumalo said.
Copy sales during the just ended holiday season were exceptionally good with
Christmas and New Year issues completely sold out, Khumalo said.
“We are pleased that readers have quickly adopted NewsDay in their everyday
lives and circulation figures remain very high. On average we are now
selling 95% of our print run which is a technical sell out.
Readers in most major cities and towns across the country and also in areas
“off the beaten track” such as Ngundu, Mpandawana, and Lalapanzi are
getting their NewsDay every day and are fully plugged into what is
happening on the national front and can contribute to topical issues
through our reader feedback forums.
“Current indications are that this strong growth will continue in 2011,
hence attracting new readership and widening advertiser reach as we increase
our coverage and grow our distribution footprint throughout the nation,”
In only seven months NewsDay has also broken new ground with its ability to
cut across age, gender and income barriers. The brand has established a
strong connection with young and old readers alike. NewsDay has a wide
appeal to female readers and is found in a variety of households.
“Introducing a new product, especially in a depressed economic environment
is both exciting and challenging,” said Khumalo. “NewsDay’s success is due
to its ability to fill a gap in the market for a balanced, non-partisan, and
objective daily newspaper that is affordable. In a market which sees new
products launched only to disappear from the shelf after six months or less,
we believe that NewsDay continues to thrive due to relevant content,
innovative marketing, strong distribution and loyal readers.
“NewsDay’s success is in large measure due to the editorial, production,
marketing and distribution team that we have put together,” Khumalo said. —
Thursday, 20 January 2011 19:14
THE inclusive government will celebrate its second birthday in February. The
coalition government can celebrate achieving economic stability but the
political gridlock which almost crippled the alliance shows that much work
is needed to address the asymmetrical division of power.
President Robert Mugabe of Zanu PF, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of
MDC-T and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara of MDC, signed an ambitious
Global Political Agreement (GPA) on September 15 2008, leading to the birth
of the inclusive government in February 2009.
Since then the principals have struggled to establish cordial relations as
Mugabe and Tsvangirai were at one time or another involved in a bitter power
battle. At one point last year the two allegedly went for months without
talking as relations between the long-time rivals soured.
The differences between the two are partly ideological and as a result their
mindsets are miles apart, but they have struck a compromise and so far it
has worked to the extent that many feel this experimental form of government
should continue while the economy stabilises further before any elections
For the first time in a decade, Zimbabwe’s stratospheric inflation, which
stood at 231 million percent by the end of 2008 disappeared at the onset of
dollarisation and the country briefly slid into deflation before inflation
rose to 3,2% in November last year.
Industrial capacity utilisation jumped from 10% to about 40% last year while
hospitals and schools which were facing closure due to lack of resources
Even investors joined the euphoria, with delegations and investment scouts
descending on the country.
However, on the flipside of the coin, analysts say political reforms
implemented in the past two years have been largely cosmetic and more action
was needed from the coalition.
The wobbly government helped Mugabe gain legitimacy after the one-man June
2008 presidential run-off sham.
The GNU however, failed to distribute power evenly, with Mugabe holding all
the levers of power. Mugabe remains head of state and government and chairs
cabinet while his rival, Tsvangirai, is prime minister.
The irony is that Tsvangirai cannot chair a cabinet meeting because,
according to the GNU’s power structure, he is only number four behind Mugabe
and his two lieutenants, vice-presidents Joice Mujuru and John Nkomo. In
Mugabe’s absence nobody is allowed to chair the cabinet.
The MDC have confirmed on numerous occasions that they are secondary
partners in the power matrix of the GNU, and this failure to balance the
distribution has often led to clashes between the two on matters of policy
This has seen multilateral lenders and donors refuse to extend loans and
lines of credit to the new government until “real” political reforms
resulting in proportional power-sharing have been implemented.
Investors who had joined the trek to the verdant opportunities in the
country held back as discord emerged in the GNU over some laws, notably over
the indigenisation and economic empowerment regulations.
The inclusive government can take credit for reducing political violence.
The tacit acknowledgement of how deeply the violence-scarred the country can
be seen in the appointment of ministers of national healing under the three
principals to spearhead the remedial process.
Political analyst Dewa Mavhinga said two years of the inclusive government
had given Zimbabwe a measure of political and economic stability which he
felt would be threatened if the country were to hold elections later this
“The inclusive government has dismally failed primarily because Mugabe and
Zanu PF continue to call the shots and continue to block progressive
democratisation reforms,” he said.
He also blamed the two MDC formations for failing to stand up to Mugabe and
for giving the impression that the inclusive government is a bed of roses
when it clearly is not.
Failure to fully implement the GPA means that the principals cannot fully
trust each other or work together.
For instance, Mugabe has consistently refused to swear in MDC-T nominee for
the deputy agriculture minister post, Roy Bennett. The 87-year-old ruler has
also unilaterally appointed judicial officials, ambassadors and provincial
governors in breach of the GPA while he retained his cronies Gideon Gono and
Johannes Tomana as Reserve Bank governor and attorney-general respectively.
Political analyst Trevor Maisiri said Mugabe’s political machinations had
undermined any hope of better governance Zimbabweans may have expected at
the onset of the GNU.
“The political situation going into 2011 is clouded in tension,
irregularity, unrepentant political attitudes, power games and outright
disregard for political normalcy. This unfortunately has far-reaching,
deep-rooted and widely-diffusive effects on the social and economic sectors
of the country.
“To date more than 24 months after the signing of the GPA and the subsequent
formation of the Government of National Unity antagonism still spoils the
projected expectation of political sanity. Zanu PF and the MDC-T still have
major disagreements in the discharge and function of the unity government
and on key reforms which were supposed to result from the said agreement.
These two main parties have adopted shifting positions away from the spirit
and dictates of the agreement they signed,” he said.
Maisiri said gains realised from 2008 into 2009 could be lost if the
political leaders fail to commit to intentional reforms and democratisation.
Finance minister Tendai Biti projected economic growth to peak at about 7%
last year but by April he had downgraded his projection to 4% as investors
adopted a wait and see attitude to Zimbabwe’s political head-butting.
Mugabe has, for example, called for elections later this year while his
rivals want constitutional, electoral and other critical democratic reforms
implemented before such elections can be held.
The business sector has also lobbied against elections to protect the gains
achieved in the past two years but their voice is unlikely to carry favour
with power-hungry politicians.
“Where it comes to the stabilisation of politics the GPA has not really
succeeded. The mere mention of elections in Zimbabwe affects everything and
this is not what we want for our democracy,” said Julius Mutyambizi-Dewa, a
Thursday, 20 January 2011 19:13
WHEN Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said at his inauguration in February
2009 that civil servants would start earning salaries in foreign currency
that would enable them to provide for their families, the joy was unbridled.
This was after all coming from a former trade unionist made good, who during
his campaign in 2008 said he held the “keys” to unlock resources that would
see among other things civil servants’ working conditions improve.
In his inauguration speech, Tsvangirai said: “As Prime Minister I make this
commitment that, as from the end of this month, our professionals in the
civil service, every health worker, teacher, soldier and policeman will
receive their pay in foreign currency until we are able to stabilise the
“These hard currency salaries will enable people to go to work, to feed
their families and to survive until such time that we can begin to sustain
ourselves as a country.”
This, to the civil servants who for many years had borne the brunt of a
collapsing economy and hyperinflation, brought hope that finally priority
would be given to improve their working conditions.
What also raised their expectations was the fact that MDC was born out of
labour unions and as a result more sympathetic to their cause. Their hopes
were high that the inclusive government would succeed where the former Zanu
PF government had failed.
However, two years on, civil servants are still grappling to provide a
decent living for their families on a meagre salary that ranges between
US$150 and US$200 in a country whose cost of living for an average urban
family of six stood at $498 in November, according to the Consumer Council
Finance minister Tendai Biti said in his budget statement that he had
increased the wage bill to US$1,1 billion from US$600 million and raised the
tax threshold to US$225, but instead of wages doubling, government only
increased the basic pay for the least-paid worker by a paltry US$6 per
month, which union leaders have described as a “pittance” and an “insult”.
In addition, the government increased housing and transport allowances for
the lowest-paid worker by US$6 and US$13 respectively.
The basic salary for the uniformed forces was increased by between US$8 and
US$10 while their housing allowances were raised from US$9 to US$45 with
transport allowances rising from US$8 to US$42.
After receiving their payment vouchers last week civil servants have
threatened to go on strike until their demands are met.
Chairperson of the Apex Council, a representative body for civil servants,
Tendai Chikowore told the Zimbabwe Independent they were not going to bow
“We are not going to accept a continuation of the government’s pittance
salaries. We have understood for a long time. We spent the whole of 2010
without any serious increment with the hope that in 2011 things will have
improved and they will take (into account) our considerations.
“2011 has come and they tell us there is no money. That is not our problem.
It is not our business to look for money. It is their responsibility to set
up adequate funding for civil servants salaries. If they honestly put their
priorities right they would definitely find a way to pay the workers fairly.
We are not satisfied and it is (the offer by government) totally unfair,”
Chikowore said civil servants want a monthly salary of US$500 for the lowest
paid worker and are now waiting for the government’s response.
International Socialist Organisation local leader Munyaradzi Gwisai said the
government of national unity was not concerned about the plight of its
workers because it was a “government of the elite”, only concerned about
uplifting themselves. He said it was unfortunate that both MDCs have “joined
the gravy train”.
“The government is playing with fire by taking the plight of the workers
lightly. They say they do not have money but it is this government that was
able to find US$50 000 for MPs to squander on petty projects and fund
foreign trips,” said Gwisai.
In his 2011 budget statement, Finance minister Tendai Biti promised every MP
an allocation of US$50 000 to kick-start projects that would enhance their
In addition, Biti proposed to buy the MPs additional new vehicles and
increase their monthly salaries by between 100% and 200% this year. This
means his ministry would have to fork out around US$4 million for the
acquisition of the new cars for about 270 legislators.
In 2009, the government spent US$6 million buying Mazda BT50 double cab
trucks which were going at US$25 000 each.
In June last year his ministry in its first quarter treasury bulletin said
foreign travel costs for the period to March amounted to US$5,6 million,
about 1,4% of the government’s total expenditure over the same period.
Gwisai said: “What Minister Biti is trying to do is to create a minimum wage
of starvation. A survey was done at the end of last year and it revealed
that managers get 91 times the salary of the worker, some getting between
US$15 000 and US$35 000.”
“Ideologically some policies are there to protect employers and the rich at
the expense of the workers. This shows the acceleration of the
neo-liberalism of this government. These policies of neo-liberalism have
failed and have caused social revolts across the globe in countries like
Algeria and Tunisia being the latest.”
He added that: “I hope we get to (a situation similar to) Tunisia where
workers will realise that their rights are equally important and they wake
up for their own emancipation. Workers from both the private and public
sector must mobilise themselves to support their own demands.”
A commentator on economic justice and governance, David Takawira said civil
servants’ salaries was an issue of misplaced priorities and which, if not
resolved, could lead to food riots like what happened in 1998.
Takawira said: “Unless government takes timely corrective and calculated
action, a re-enactment of the 1998 food-riots is a possibility at the
“Minister Biti megaphones to the world how the GDP has gained ground and how
the economy has grown when in actual fact the economy is not expanding
opportunities for employment.
“As a result civil servants work for long hours and get very low wages. So
it’s true when minister Biti says, “what doubled was the overall allocation
to employment costs which includes pensions...as Ministry of Finance we do
not do the actual allocation to individuals.
“So in essence government should realign its priorities and ensure that
resources are channelled to the engines of the economy,” said Takawira.
For civil servants, it is a long wait for recognition.
Thursday, 20 January 2011 18:48
WHEN Margaret Dongo, as an independent candidate for Harare South in the
1995 parliamentary elections, successfully challenged the outcome of the
polls citing fraud, many thought it was a tipping point that would radically
change the way the country held elections.
However, 15 years on and six general elections later, Zimbabwe continues to
grapple with archaic mechanisms for holding elections, especially a tattered
and shambolic voters’ roll, contestable electoral laws, an unfair and uneven
playing field, administrative incapacity and a partisan management of
Dongo, the first and only candidate to successfully challenge an electoral
result within the life of a parliament, premised her petition on a ragged
voters’ roll and then won the rerun against Vivian Mwashita of Zanu PF.
There was never a lull between the historic Dongo challenge and the current
mechanisms as piecemeal reforms were undertaken, of significance being the
adoption of the Sadc Principles and Guidelines on Free and Fair Elections in
Grand Baie Mauritius in 2004 which sound good on paper but have failed to
clean up the country’s electoral record.
Such scepticism is justified by the country’s electoral history since the
adoption of universal suffrage, where all eligible voters could cast their
ballot in 1979 during the short lived Zimbabwe-Rhodesia regime.
It would thus have been refreshing to hear Justice minister Patrick
Chinamasa proposing further electoral reforms, specifically establishing an
Electoral Court, but political players and legal experts took these as mere
cosmetic changes without much significance.
An Electoral Court would be empowered to “review any decisions of the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission or any other person made or purporting to have
been made under the Electoral Act” and hears appeals, applications and
petitions in terms of the same Act.
Analyst and legal expert Alex Magaisa said if properly used, electoral
courts were a useful institution in the electoral landscape.
“Nevertheless, past experience in Zimbabwe does not support any optimistic
belief in that institution,” said Magaisa who is also a lecturer at Kent
University in the United Kingdom.
Another analyst, Sibanengi Ncube said establishing an Electoral Court did
not automatically mean that they would clear the cases.
“The advantage is we have people who concentrate on a particular area,” said
Ncube who is also the programmes manager for the Parliamentary Monitoring
Trust. “If the judges focus on one area, that is elections, they would have
a better understanding of the processes hence better justice delivery.”
There are politicians and analysts who questioned the intention of the
Justice minister, arguing that he had shown undemocratic tendencies which
would taint the reforms.
Magaisa said it was important that Electoral Courts were truly independent
and sufficiently resourced “so that they are not beholden to anyone”.
Problems which have affected the operations of other courts could also weigh
heavily on the Electoral Courts, especially respect for their rulings or
Dongo said while there has been some movement since her challenge more than
15 years ago, there were many issues to be addressed before the elections
are free and fair.
“We have problems with the voters’ roll,” said Dongo. “We should make sure
that there is a democratic and well prepared voters’ roll.”
In Brazil, the system of the electoral courts is decentralised to provincial
levels and they are responsible for voter registration, eliminating the
partisan nature of recording potential voters in Zimbabwe.
The political terrain has changed significantly since Dongo’s challenge as
petitions are not only challenging the threadbare voters’ roll but issues of
intimidation, political violence and other irregularities.
Those challenging the outcome of the elections have learnt that Dongo’s case
was unique and has never been repeated as the country’s courts have failed
to handle all electoral matters brought as expeditiously as is required when
dealing with such cases.
Whereas there was only a single electoral challenge in 1995, there was a
surge in 2000 as the MDC brought 32 cases and Zanu PF had eight petitions
for redress in the courts.
Two years later the presidential elections were disputed and the injured
party, the MDC, brought another case before the courts, bringing eight more
in the 2005 poll.
None of the 49 electoral cases brought to the courts between 2000 and 2005
were concluded to their logical conclusion as High Court rulings were
appealed and the Supreme Court, which is not a specialised court, dealt with
the cases without any urgency.
Election petitions remained unresolved for one full term of office of MPs, a
development which legal experts termed as justice denied in that prospective
MPs were in some cases denied the benefit of their High Court victories.
The political landscape has radically changed with the turn of the century
and the contest around election results continues to increase.
One way of resolving them could be giving teeth to the Electoral Court thus
preventing the sort of delays that have impaired the democratic process in
the past .
Thursday, 20 January 2011 18:44
ZIMTRADE, the national trade development and promotion body, has postponed
signing a trade deal with China over concerns of a widening trade deficit
that is heavily tilted in favour of the Far East giant.
Kenzias Chibota, ZimTrade director on Monday told businessdigest on the
sidelines of a function to promote the Chinese trade fair to be held later
in the year, that Zimbabwe favoured an agreement that would capacitate local
“They (Chinese counterparts) want to sign an agreement with ZimTrade. I have
the draft. We were supposed to sign it today but I said we won’t sign it. I
want that agreement to emphasise that issue of helping us capacitate our
processing capabilities so that we export finished items rather just a one
way trade,” said Chibota at the Promotion Conference of the 109th session of
the China Import-Export Fair, scheduled for China later in the year.
Zimtrade, according to Chibota, is wary of the expanding trade deficit, with
Zimbabwe exports valued at US$54 million to imports from China at US$129
million in 2009.
The 2010 figures are likely to show an even wider gap, Chibota said.
“Certainly this gap worries us because we cannot have such a deficit when
our little resources are going out but we have nothing coming back. It just
doesn’t balance and it is unsustainable. But again we need to be aggressive
as Zimbabweans. We need to engage in joint ventures not just focus on
finished products,” he said.
Chinese imports to Zimbabwe increased by 24% in the four years to 2009,
according to official statistics.
South Africa continues to be the dominant trade partner, accounting for 60%
of local imports.
The increase in imports is despite government tariffs discouraging imports
of finished products. Government levies up to 5% import duty for raw
materials while imported finished products attract 40% in duty.
Experts, however, say while Zimbabwe exports to South Africa are mostly
mineral resources, the country’s manufacturing industry has the capacity to
increase market share for value added products in furniture, textiles and
clothing, horticulture products and arts and crafts.
Chinese investors have in recent years intensified investments in retail and
mining — with interests in extraction of chrome, nickel and platinum.
Thursday, 20 January 2011 18:40
Nqobile Bhebhe/Taurai Mangudhla
“CARELESS” statements by politicians will derail the country’s economic
recovery pace economists said this week.
Zimbabwe Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa last week threatened to seize
foreign owned companies’ shareholding unless they urgently denounce
sanctions which he said were put in place by Western countries.
Mnangagwa said companies’ bosses will soon be summoned to appear on national
radio and denounce Western sanctions failure of which they will lose 90% of
“We will ask them if they support sanctions or not. Those who indicate that
they do not support sanctions will be asked to go live on national radio and
tell the nation and the rest of the world their company does not support
sanctions,” Mnangagwa was quoted saying.
He said that authorities were already “in the process of rounding up” the
bosses of foreign businesses who are still operating in the country. Another
report on Sunday stated that the money raised from the 90% would go to
Economist Eric Bloch told businessdigest on Tuesday that local banks relied
on international lines of credit from their foreign partners who were
closely monitoring developments in the country.
“Local banks’ international partners are not willing to release funds as
they are still not convinced by political developments,” said Bloch.
Bloch said with limited free funds local financial institutions would
continue availing short term credit which have a significant contribution to
US$3 billion was needed to revive the country’s industries, but several
factors were militating against growth.
“Although an in-depth study on the exact amount needed to revive industries
has not been done, estimates put the figure between US$2-3 billion,” he
“However, at present it’s impossible to raise such an amount due to the
unstable political situation” said Bloch.
He said renewed threats of grabbing a 90% sharing from foreign companies
would only serve to scare would-be lenders.
Addressing a media briefing on Tuesday this week Indigenisation and
Empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere supported Mnagagwa saying:
“Mnangagwa’s statement is consistent with the indigenisation drive and the
country’s desire to fight sanctions”.
“We have been under colonialism for a very long time and we need a
sustainable structure,” Kasukuwere said.
Kasukuwere however said government did not have a “grab-all mentality” and
people should have equal opportunities.
“I am not aware of any big fish who has benefited from the indigenisation
exercise…We want to address racial imbalances,” he said.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce economist Kipson Gundani is of the
view that low funding could characterise the year with political uncertainty
being the major risk factor.
“There could be slight improvement with regards to funding of industries.
Long term funding through local financial institutions would remain
depressed as long as the political side is not clear. Banks would continue
catering for shorter loans which in the long run would mean insignificant
changes to industry” said Gundani.
Industry minister Welshman Ncube on Tuesday said his ministry was working on
curbing obstacles that inhibit companies from achieving full growth in
Thursday, 20 January 2011 18:39
FUEL prices in Zimbabwe have shot up by between 10% and 16% since December
21, 2010 after stocks dropped drastically and demand rose significantly in
European countries due to the onset of the winter season.
Fuel dealers in Zimbabwe cited the sudden increase in international crude
oil prices and increased demand over the festive period for the price
increase. The price of Brent crude has averaged US$95 in that period,
pushing the price of fuel up.
As of Tuesday the price of diesel had risen from US$1,15 per litre in
December to between US$1,30 and US$1,40 per litre while petrol was selling
at between US$1,40 and US$1,49 from US1,25 per litre during the same period.
The latest round of fuel price increases has triggered a widespread surge in
the cost of basic commodities and consumer goods.
Economist David Mupamhadzi said developments on the international oil
markets have not been favourable for fuel importing countries like Zimbabwe.
“The spike in the oil prices directly affects the price of fuel and hence
the recent increases in the fuel price. Domestic factors also played a part
in pushing the price of fuel in Zimbabwe, especially the high structural
cost of landing fuel in Zimbabwe,” Mupamhadzi said.
He said the surge in the prices of fuel was a worrying development,
especially for an economy like Zimbabwe which was at a delicate stage of
“Continued fuel increases could imperil a fragile economic recovery.
Ordinary citizens will also be hard hit by the price increases, a situation
which will worsen the welfare of people,” he said.
The price of two litres of cooking oil rose from US$3 in December to US$4,30
during the first week of January, blue bar washing soap rose from US$1 to
US$1,40 during the same period while a one kg of economy beef rose to US$5
Surf 500g now cost US$1,86 from US$1,50, Mazoe two litres rose from US$2,75
to US$3,00 while two kgs of Rice (Mahatma) rose to US$2,85 from US$2,50.
Economic consultant Sonny Mabheju said the fact that Zimbabwe was a fuel
importer meant that it was vulnerable to the vagaries of global economics.
“We are vulnerable to volatilities in these factors over which we have no
control. If the fuel price increases get sustained over a long period, they
will end up influencing the price of goods and services upwards,” Mabheju
According to the international media there is always a high demand for oil
during mid- December to February in European markets as they experience
freezing conditions, increasing the demand for energy.
Eric Bloch, a local economic commentator, noted that the increase in demand
for fuel in Europe was primarily due to the unusually cold climatic
conditions in most northern hemisphere countries, creating considerably
higher demand for oil.
“The rise was also partially due to increasing demand as global economies
slowly recover from the 2008/2009 recession and also to some diminution in
production by BP in the Gulf of Mexico and some oil-producing countries
recently impacted upon by floods.”
Bloch also said the extent of impact upon prices and hence upon the
inflation rate will be contingent upon how soon the global demand for crude
“The extent will also be determined by the extent crude oil production
increases, but currently it is probable that the extent of commodity and
service price increases and of rises in public transport fares will occasion
at least a 3% additional rise in the 2011 annual inflation rate, with a
resultant of that rate potentially being as great as 7%,” Bloch said.
Thursday, 20 January 2011 18:38
LONDON Zimbabwe (LonZim)'s subsidiary, Forget Me Not Africa (FMNA) has
acquired a US$1 million exclusive licence for a unified messaging system and
message optimiser, which enables low cost internet messaging.
FMNA, which is 51% owned by LonZim, exercised its option to take the
exclusive, perpetual licence for the unified messaging system and message
optimiser following an initial trial investment in early 2009. Forget Me Not
Hong Kong owns the remaining 49% shareholding.
LonZim on Tuesday said since the initial investment two years ago, FMNA had
delivered significant progress in the deployment of its products such as
mobile e-mail, on-line chat and Facebook solutions, signing up five African
mobile network operators.
David Lenigas, Executive Chairman of LonZim, said: “FMNA has made astounding
progress in a short time and in just 18 months has signed up access to
networks with over 42 million subscribers in Africa. The purchasing of the
perpetual licence establishes a solid foundation for the further expansion
of the FMN product range across Africa.”
FMNA has established a network in Kenya, Nigeria, Lesotho and Republic of
the Congo making access to mobile e-mail and on-line chat available to 42
The telecommunications company also has agreements with Econet Telecom of
Lesotho, Econet Zimbabwe, Glo Mobile in Nigeria, Safaricom and yu in Kenya
and Warid in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Message Optimiser is deployed in mobile networks to enable access to
low-cost internet messaging on first generation, SMS-enabled mobile phones.
Jeremy George, Chief Operating Officer for FMNA, said: “Internet access
across Africa remains very low compared to the rest of the world, but the
fast growth rate of mobile phone ownership means that mobile access may be
the only way the vast majority of Africans ever access the internet, so the
market potential for Message Optimiser is huge.”
George said by securing the perpetual licence, LonZim lent further mettle to
FMNA’s objective of bridging the digital divide by turning the millions of
basic handsets on the continent into virtual messaging smart phones that can
access email and other FMN applications.
Local telecommunications companies have value added on their networks
offering new services including data, banking services and email.
Cellphone penetration rates have improved significantly in Zimbabwe where
the three mobile network providers share more than six million subscribers.
LonZim is listed on the LSE Alternative Investment Markets and has been
using its subsidiary to penetrate the telecommunications market in East and
The core product used is the message optimiser which allows
telecommunication operators to immediately provide comprehensive
cost-effective, unified messaging services to all of their customers without
any upgrades to the device or any need for downloading new applications onto
This opens up a range of previously inaccessible services to many of their
customers including two-way email and two-way instant messaging
Thursday, 20 January 2011 18:37
Paul Nyakazeya/Paidamoyo Muzulu
PRIVATISING state-owned enterprises without addressing management and
administration deficiencies will not provide the all-curing solution to
problems facing parastatals in the country, analysts believe.
Finance minister Tendai Biti wants 10 parastatals to be privatised to ease
the burden on the fiscus and to provide better back-up service to industry.
A well functioning public sector would also provide a solid base for
economic recovery, with some parastatals anchoring the most critical sectors
in the country.
“The poor performance of most parastatals is largely due to management
inefficiencies, poor governance systems, and in some instances lack of
resources. Furthermore government, despite pledges to reform parastatals,
has also failed to implement a clear recovery plan for these parastatals,”
economist David Mupamhadzi told businessdigest this week.
Government last year launched the first phase of the reform programme
targeting 10 major state-owned enterprises (SOEs) for privatisation namely
Agribank, Air Zimbabwe, Grain Marketing Board, Cold Storage Company, NetOne,
TelOne, Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company, National Railways of Zimbabwe,
National Oil Company of Zimbabwe and Zesa Holdings.
Government has already sold a controlling stake in Ziscosteel to Indian
company Essar Africa Holdings and is in the hunt for similar deals for other
Mupamhadzi, however, said there was need for government to evaluate all
parastatals in order to come up with an option for each individual company.
“There is need for government to evaluate all parastatals in order to come
up with an optimal option for each parastatal, which will determine the
route that the government should take,” Mupamhadzi said.
“The evaluation exercise will help to identify the reforms that are required
for these perennial loss-making entities. At a broad strategic level the
options that are available includes privatisation, commercialisation and
restructuring. However, it is important to ensure that a proper evaluation
is done, to avoid costly mistakes.”
Analysts say government should, as part of measures to reform parastatals
include performance-related contracts and these should be scrutinised by
institutions of accountability such as parliament.
The creation of a ministry to manage state enterprises in 1995 has to this
day failed to address policy inconsistencies, address the lack of political
will on government’s part or give direction to the poorly performing
Kumbirayi Katsande, former CZI president and business executive said: “The
major problem has been to do with administration and supervision of the
companies. Some of the ministers are not sure of the alternatives to
privatisation like commercialisation.”
However, there are other enterprises whose failure to operate effectively
can be directly located on the doorstep of the government. The inability of
the state to fund these enterprises combined with the leadership failure in
these parastatals has meant that Zimbabweans have to grapple with the twin
problems of service delivery failure and non-employment generation.
Economic consultant Eric Bloch said the current state of virtually all
parastatals was “grossly appalling”.
“They (parastatals) are all grossly under-capitalised, have immense
accumulations of debt and have lost the services of many of their essential
skilled personnel, have vastly ill-maintained and obsolete infrastructures,
and with rare exception are unable to provide effective service delivery,”
Parastatals, he said, required capital injection sufficient to ensure
settlement of debts, rehabilitation and upgrading of infrastructure,
technology, management expertise and technically skilled personnel.
“The revival of the parastatals has been primarily prevented by government’s
inability to fund their capital needs. It has also been compounded by
ongoing unwarranted political controls and constraints and by endless
governmental reluctance to pursue privatisation vigorously,” he said.
Recently the ministry of state enterprises and parastatals has attempted to
inject some bite in its administration of SOEs.
The ministry, in its official documents, says it will look at many
strategies of turning around failed parastatals in addition to
privatisation, commercialisation and strategic partnerships.
It recently unveiled a Corporate Governance Policy aimed at achieving what
successive governments since Independence have failed — making parastatals
State Enteprises minister Gorden Moyo last month said the policy aims at
improving accountability among government bureaucrats and senior managers of
state-owned enterprises will now sign performance-related contracts.
However, analysts say with political umbrage attached to the top posts of
the parastatals, it is debatable that such a provision will be enforced.
Thursday, 20 January 2011 18:36
BOARD Director Independence Elusive, an article carried in this column is
currently receiving wide readership on numerous websites worldwide. The
article has even been translated into other languages. In a related
development, a local state paper and recently, a South African weekly
carried a story of lecturers fired from Solusi University who are alleging
violation of corporate governance norms.
At the centre of the storm are allegations by the beleaguered lecturers as
reported in the Sunday Times that the vice chancellor of the private
university, Norman Maphosa was irregularly appointed to the chair of
Zimsec, a body established by the government to administer secondary school
exams. It is claimed that the Minister of Education, David Coltart, who
administers the Zimsec Act, and a senior partner of a law firm Webb, Low &
Barry (WLB) are the university’s legal advisors. The insinuation is that the
business ties between the academics’ former employer and the minister’s firm
are good grounds to disqualify the university chief from being appointed as
Zimsec’s chair. Minister Coltart defended his position claiming that he last
received a salary from WLB in February 2009, a subtle intimation calculated
to prove that he was not an interested party at the time he appointed
Each time one says there is a breach of corporate governance norms in
Zimbabwe we have to ask: which norms?
The Zimsec Act is the principal corporate governance frame stipulating the
procedure for appointing the chair to the Zimsec board. The Zimsec act is
very lucid that the minister, in consultation with the president shall
appoint one of the serving vice chancellors of Zimbabwe’s universities as
the chairperson of the Zimsec board. Thus in terms of Zimbabwean law, there
is nothing irregular about Maphosa’s appointment to Zimsec chairmanship.
If we throw in major corporate governance frames does the picture change?
* First, let us consider the UK code that came into effect in June 2010.
UK code’s Principle A.3.1. suggests that the chairperson should be
independent when first appointed, but thereafter, the need for independence
falls away. Under UK custom we would need to ask: was Professor Norman
Maphosa independent when he was appointed by minister Coltart? Coltart
claims to have last received a pay cheque from WLB in February 2009. For
this to be relevant to the question of independence from the Zimsec board’s
corporate governance viewpoint we need to establish if Coltart’s connection
to WLB was causing Maphosa to act in a biased manner when making decisions
on the Zimsec board. But, how do you prove that someone is acting in a
biased manner before they even sit on the board?
* Second, South Africa’s King III code does not restrict chairmanship to
independent directors. King III recommends the appointment of a
non-executive director as a chairperson. As a management consultant I make a
lot of recommendations. A client has three options for dealing with a
recommendation: adopt, adapt or reject. Any organisation that adopts King
III can do likewise when it comes to the appointment of the board
chairperson. Since Maphosa is not and has never been an employee of Zimsec,
he is a non-executive director. Clearly, under King III, Maphosa’s
appointment is in compliance with recommended practice. Being a
non-executive is not the same as being independent. Under King III,
independence is irrelevant to a chairperson’s appointment.
* Third, we shall apply the more stringent and scientific approach of
the US corporate governance system. Under US custom, if the fees income to
WLB from Solusi University is greater than 2% or US$1m (whichever is
greater) of WLB’s combined revenues, then minister Coltart and professor
Maphosa would be considered non-independent directors. But that’s only
relevant if Coltart and Maphosa sit on the same board. Under US customs it
is not mandatory for a chairperson to be independent.
However, under our hypothetical circumstances, one could argue that Coltart
should not have been involved in the appointment of Maphosa to the chair of
Zimsec as he would have been deemed not independent. But is Coltart a
director of Zimsec? The answer is no. The Zimsec act does not require the
setting up of a nominations committee to carry out the selection and
appointment on behalf of the board. If we overlay modern corporate
governance customs, it could be argued that the minister is a one-man
nominations committee, making him a “virtual director” by virtue of the
powers vested in him by the Zimsec Act. Effectively, the Zimsec Act empowers
the “shareholders” to be directly involved in nominations, a practice
considered inappropriate under modern norms. The only way the Maphosa
appointment would be considered irregular would be to hope that WLB have
been receiving at least 2% of their income from Solusi and then force US
custom into the UK code to argue that Maphosa was not independent when he
was appointed to the Zimsec chairmanship. That’s an equivalent of trumped up
* Fourth, minister Coltart’s claim that he last received a salary in
February 2009 is partly relevant. Of more relevance is whether the minister
was personally representing Solusi University as its legal advisor in the
three years preceding the appointment. If it comes to light that the
minister was personally providing legal services to Solusi then he was an
interested party at the time of Maphosa’s appointment. Here is a dilemma.
The Zimsec act is silent on the issue of interested parties being precluded
from participating in nominations. Since the act vests powers in the
minister and not the board to appoint the chairperson, if he recuses on the
grounds that he is an interested party then the “nominations committee” (the
minister) is totally paralysed.
* Fifth, the UK and SA corporate governance codes are voluntary. Their
enforcement hangs on the “apply or explain” principle. In other words,
should a board show good cause why it is not applying any of the code’s
practices, it is not in violation of good corporate governance. The
Sarbanes-Oxley Act (Sox) of the US is a “comply or else” corporate
governance system. But Sox has no jurisdiction over Zimbabwe. Here is the
stark truth. Zimbabwean organisations, including Zimsec are not compelled to
abide by any corporate governance code. Worse still, Zimsec is not governed
by our Companies Act, wherein matters of interested parties, by law, have to
be disclosed. Sad to say that even if the much awaited home-grown national
corporate governance code comes into effect, Zimsec will be under no
compulsion whatsoever to abide by the code’s practices since they are not
The bane of voluntary corporate codes is that they depend on shareholders
and markets to reward or punish good and bad corporate governance behaviour.
The problem is that markets and shareholders do not always act in expected
ways. It has been argued that once a corporate governance code is adopted
it becomes part of common law. Perhaps the Companies act and parastatal acts
should make that explicit.
Under present governance norms, only an extraordinary legal mind can prove
that Maphosa’s appointment was irregular as that would make powers higher
than Coltart culpable. That’s a tall order.
Thursday, 20 January 2011 18:34
TETRAD Investment Bank Managing Director, Emmanuel Chikaka (EC) says those
banks that will leverage off technology will emerge as the winners as
financial sector will be more technology driven in 2011. In an effort to cut
costs and reach a wider market, Chikaka says banking is trending more
towards internet and cellphone banking and the use of plastic money. He
speaks to businessdigest chief business reporter Paul Nyakazeya (PN).
PN:What have been the major highlights at Tetrad Group in 2010?
EC: I would say our successful transition from a discount house to a
merchant bank. We also managed to meet the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s
minimum capital requirements, launched the gold fund and the e-mali
PN: What has been the response to the Tetrad Gold Fund, particularly from
small investors who see the fund as an alternative to the unattractive
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange?
EC: The response from the market has been good. Clearly the product came in
at the right time when the market was starved of alternatives given the
lacklustre performance of the stock market. The fund has managed to attract
over US$1 million since its launch and is growing.
PN: Can you explain how the e-mali transactional card works?
EC: E-mali is essentially a convenient, cost effective and very powerful
banking solution designed to bring the convenience of mobile banking to the
unbanked and under-banked population of Zimbabwe.
It works off a distribution network of strategic partners that have been
given point of sale (POS) devices around the country in their various
outlets. The POS devices are essentially a bank in a box where one can open
an account in less than 60 seconds, proceed to make a deposit, do in store
purchases, transfer money in an instant to friends and relatives throughout
the country where e-mali partners are present, pay for their bills at the
point of sale and if they so wish withdraw cash out off their account.
PN: So how does one get the card?
EC: Getting an e-mali card is very simple. All one has to do is approach any
of our distribution partners or Tetrad branches with a copy of their I.D and
the rest of the process will take less than a minute.
PN: Who are your distribution partners?
EC: Our distribution partners to date include TM supermarkets countrywide,
Innscor Fast Food outlets such as Chicken Inn, Creamy Inn and Nandos,
Truworths stores, selected Spars, Moonlight Funeral Assurance outlets
countrywide and many more partners are still signing up. It’s really that
PN:What should shareholders and your clients expect from Tetrad in the
current financial year?
EC: They should expect consolidation of our position and new status as a
merchant bank and to grow our market share and profitability. We also want
to expand on our product offerings and improve existing ones. Tetrad has
always been a product driven organisation.
PN: What makes Tetrad different from other banks?
EC: We pride ourselves in innovation which is one of our key values. Six
months ago Tetrad, through its asset management company, TFS launched the
first commodity-based unit trust product in the country, the Tetrad Gold
Fund. Our merchant bank also launched a transactional card, the e-mali
(transactional card) which has the lowest transacting costs in the market.
The response has been good and has definitely put Tetrad on the map.
PN: What challenges are banks likely to face in 2011?
EC: Lack of liquidity has been the main challenge facing banks since the
advent of dollarisation in 2009. Other challenges include, the absence of
long term financing options, high cost of capital, unaffordable wage demands
and limited success in securing lines of credit.
PN: Do you think these challenges will improve in the second half of the
EC: It is not possible to look at these challenges in isolation. The banking
sector is intertwined with macro-economic performance. Most of these
challenges will be resolved as the economy recovers.
PN: What significant trends do you see in the future of the banking sector?
EC: The banking sector is likely to be more technology driven going forward,
in an effort to cut costs and reach a wider market. Banking is trending more
towards internet and cellphone banking and the use of plastic money, which
is convenient. Products will be tailored to capture the informal market.
Those banks that will leverage off technology will emerge as the winners.
Also expect greater competition from within as well as internationally
leading to some mergers and acquisitions as competition intensifies.
PN: What is your take on accusations that the banking sector has not done
enough to mobilise lines of credit?
EC: That perception is not fair to say the least. It is not a question of if
we have done enough. Banks are working hard to mobilise lines of credit both
locally and internationally. We have no choice but to continue working
harder. At Tetrad, we are working with a number of local and foreign
institutions to facilitate more lines of credit, which will in turn reduce
our cost of on-lending to the productive sectors.
PN: Confidence plays a huge part in banks attracting more depositors and
lines of credit. To what extend do you think it has been restored among
EC: In comparison to when the economy first dollarised, we have seen some
degree of confidence returning among depositors, though not to the extent
that we would want. The banking sector initially had zero US dollar deposits
when the economy dollarised and we have managed to increase them to about
US$2 billion, which is commendable. Unconfirmed reports indicate that a
similar amount could still be stashed away in homes or warehouses; we are
intensifying our campaign to increase confidence and lure these to formal
PN: What do you attribute the stagnation to?
EC: It reflects the pace at which the economy is recovering and the level of
confidence among depositors as I have mentioned earlier. It is not an
immediate success. Though the Zimbabwean economy has managed to register
positive growth after years of decline, we still need to do more to attract
significant capital and improve liquidity.
PN: What is your position on the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment
Regulations on the financial sector?
EC: The regulations need to be clear and consistent to attract both foreign
and local investors. We as a sector need to deal with the issue collectively
and transparently for the benefit of the sector, our clients and the
PN: Financial institutions stand accused of charging punitive interest rates
on borrowers, while rewarding low interest rates on deposits. Can you
explain the anomaly?
EC: This assessment is a bit exaggerated. The bulk of deposits, about 96%
are demand deposits and these cannot be loaned out without banks taking
undue liquidity risk associated with the volatile nature of the deposits.
PN: Who is Emmanuel Chikaka?
EC: Chikaka is a career banker who is the managing director of Tetrad
Investment Bank. Tetrad Investment Bank is a member of Tetrad Holdings
Limited which has interests in banking, property and insurance.
Thursday, 20 January 2011 18:55
By Silence Chihuri
In this article continued from last week Silence Chihuri argues that
Zimbabweans are judging MDC-M leader Welshman Ncube harshly as he has shown
outstanding political maturity. Last week he applauded the historic
transition of power within the MDC-M. Here Chihuri showcases Ncube's
political credentials and rebuts charges that he was responsible for the MDC
split because he is anti-Morgan Tsvangirai.
THIS nonsense that Ncube has manipulated the entire MDC-M provincial
establishment around the country to ensure he is catapulted to the
presidency of that party is to me extremely bigoted.
It tinkers with the equally bankrupt notion that has also been peddled by
some warped analysts that, being a Ndebele from the Matabeleland part of the
country, there was no way Ncube could mobilise predominantly Shona
provincial councils to nominate him and eventually get him voted for the
presidency of the party.
The development in the MDC-M party must send a very clear message that
political influence is in those who are in politics and not those sitting in
the comfort or rather discomfiture of their armchairs and analysing from
their distant homes.
IT is only a shame that this is not happening at government level and I am
sure most people would have wished it was Mugabe passing the button not
Mutambara. As Zimbabweans if we fail to appreciate this very significant
development in the history of our politics in which the sitting, able bodied
and very young leader of a political party has realised the need to pass on
the torch we will be doing ourselves and our politics a great disservice.
It is not the MDC-M party that has been creating “safe positions” in its
party. The entire Zimbabwe knows which part has been doing that. We have
seen how contagious clinging on to power can get because Zanu PF is now very
well being replicated in the MDC-T formation where that party’s forthcoming
congress has been predetermined.
Mugabe has been saying that he cannot even contemplate stepping down and
risk compromising his party’s Chimurengas we have lost count of and he
apparently intends to die in power. Now Tsvangirai in his 10 years or so in
politics has already taken his lessons on clinging on to power so well that
even he can’t step down and risk compromising the “democratic struggle”.
What democratic struggle is this? Surely a party that has such a narrowly
defined agenda as the now hugely diluted MDC-T party should be more than
capable of replacing its leader from within its ranks. Does this really mean
that if Tsvangirai were to drop dead today he would be buried together with
his dear party as no one after him would be able to carry on from wherever
he would have tragically left?
Yes, Mutambara has not done or achieved anything spectacular as MDC-M
leader. He has taken the political establishment by storm by safely and,
without any pandemonium save for a few disgruntled delegates who were too
sad to see him go, passed on the baton in a democratic way by African
political standards. Neither has Tsvangirai achieved anything spectacular as
MDC-T leader other than a few near victories at the ballot and he should
surely seriously also ponder stepping aside.
Obviously Ncube’s calculated and cautious approach to national politics
might not have earned him a lot of admirers over the years and this is
against a time when vocalism and confrontation was deemed heroic and the
most MDC way of dealing with Zanu PF.
In some circles Ncube started to be viewed as a sympathiser of Zanu PF and
his background as a University of Zimbabwe lecturer did not help matters as
the institution’s administration remained firmly loyal to Zanu PF, in stark
contrast to the student population that has had constant running battles
with the authorities.
But Ncube was and remained MDC through and through and the main reason why
he was chosen as party secretary-general was purely on the basis that he was
an up and coming academic-turned-politician with no trace whatsoever to Zanu
When the MDC party split in 2005 Ncube took much unjustified and at times
bizarre criticism that he was responsible for the break-up of the party.
One wondered how one man could singled-handily split a party that he had
secretary-generalled for six years, especially given that the MDC had become
something of a mega party by the time of the split. To his credit Ncube
never came out frothing like we saw some MDC politicians –– some of whom
were actually more responsible for the split than Ncube –– doing.
There was a lot of tribal vitriol that was directed towards most of the MDC
leaders from Matabeleland and yet there was nothing tribal at all about the
split of the MDC. The insults that were directed towards Ncube and his
colleagues, especially Themba-Nyathi and Sibanda, prompted Tsvangirai into a
belated if terse apology at Sibanda’s funeral, but why did it take so long
to realise that an apology was an appropriate way of making up with
There is no way now that Tsvangirai can tell if Sibanda got and accepted his
belated apology. As Zimbabweans if we are really serious about working
together for the good of the nation then there is an opportunity here.
Ncube is now the most senior politician from Matabeleland because he is the
person from that region leading not just some briefcase party, but a party
that is actually in government. And if he was to assume the deputy
premiership (I am not suggesting that he should or he will), he will be the
second most senior person in government from Matabeleland behind only John
Nkomo, the Vice President, and this is only thanks to Zanu PF paranoia that
has sought to belittle the role of the prime minister and deputy prime
ministers, the structure and composition of this unity government.
There are critics who have cited Ncube’s perceived detestation of Tsvangirai
as a possible hindrance should the former become deputy premier, thereby
causing friction in government. Again this is unfounded because these people
conveniently forget that it was Ncube’s crafty negotiating skills that
played a key role in the process that brought the three parties to form a
unity government. Ncube does not hate Tsvangirai personally, but has very
consistently, whenever prompted, cited his personal disquiet with some of
Tsvangirai’s decisions and stances.
As for the great party that is the MDC-M, I think the biggest miss of the
ended congress was the suggestion to change the name of the party to
Congress of the Movement for Democratic Change that was reportedly shot down
by some delegates who obviously still have very strong nostalgic connections
to the original MDC 1999.
That was a missed opportunity to cement the party’s credentials as a serious
contributor to our national political and democratic discourse and I think
that is a subject the party may need to revisit as a matter of urgency
because reality should dawn to any sections of that party that the original
MDC party is no more.
As the MDC-M seeks the way forward it needs to brand itself in a manner that
will strike a chord with its target support in 21st century Zimbabwean
politics. I don’t think the suffix M that gives the party some extended
relative (of Mutambara) status will inspire and attract a lot of serious
support going forward.
It is a phenomenon that its typical of African politics where political
leaders seek to own political parties and run them as their own prized
personal properties. I am not necessarily suggesting that this is what
Mutambara is doing in this case.
Lastly, I have not been inspired to write on this subject because of any
particular agenda to make Ncube more or less acceptable; he already is.
Everyone who is in the political trenches deserves to be supported for what
they are doing if there is a genuine desire on their part to improve the
lives of the Zimbabwean lot.
The MDC as a party did not live up to all our expectations and it never
delivered what Zimbabweans thought the party would deliver. Nobody knows who
shall take our country to the Promised Land.
Silence Chihuri writes in his own capacity and can be contacted on
firstname.lastname@example.org This e-mail address is being protected from
Thursday, 20 January 2011 18:51
MUCKRAKER has commented in the past on normally sensible ministers being
required to make ridiculous comments at the urging of their party’s
So people like John Nkomo and SK Moyo –– and even Emmerson Mnangagwa ––
would get into line with daft remarks that they would never have considered
making in the past.
Of course we can’t regard Joseph Made as “sensible” in terms of his past
record of public pronouncements, but he was certainly giving us an example
of downright idiocy in his repudiation of Fewsnet’s latest crop forecast.
An estimated 2,2 million Zimbabweans are in need of food aid, the
USAid-funded agency said.
Minister Made, not known for the accuracy of his crop forecasts in the past,
declared Fewsnet “not transparent” and “insincere”.
“Why should they care about Zimbabwe when they imposed sanctions that are
hurting our people?” he wanted to know. And he had more daftness to follow.
“In any case they should leave us alone and relocate to Australia where they
are wanted because of the calamity there,” he declared.
One is tempted to laugh out loud at this calamity closer to home. But Made
is evidently ignorant of the fact that Australia has a successful farming
economy and even with the floods in Queensland it will still be able to feed
itself this year although exports will be down somewhat.
What Made doesn’t reveal is that after 30 years of Independence Zimbabwe can’t
feed its own people because of its disastrous agricultural policies. That’s
why organisations like USAid have to come to our rescue, and Made waves a
nationalist flag as a figleaf to cover his government’s naked incompetence.
Not content with exposing his ignorance on Australia’s situation, he moves
on to the United States.
“It would be interesting to know food projections in America against
freezing temperatures and climate change?” he mused.
Indeed it would. But we need to remind ourselves that he is a Zimbabwean
minister, not American. His responsibilities lie here.
Meanwhile our thanks to Albert Nhamoyebonde for revealing to Herald readers
the vast extent of efficient US agricultural production, witnessed while
visiting his daughter in the States.
Zanu PF’s apologists are once again questioning the integrity of the
electorate that keeps voting against the self-embedded gang that won’t let
go of power.
“We must ask ourselves,” the Herald reflects in an editorial,“whether we
have measured up to Murenga, the legendary fighter in whose honour we have
christened our three revolutions?”
The answer is a resounding No.
No you haven’t measured up which is why voters keep rejecting you. And only
party publicists cover themselves with the mantle of nationalist glory
because they’ve got nothing else left. Nothing works anymore, not the
railways, not the national airline, not the electricity system, and
certainly not the government!
“President Mugabe has gained a reputation as the most outspoken and fervent
critic of neo-colonialism in the world today,” the Herald declares, but “can
we say we have done enough?”
This comes at a time, the Herald claims, when the powerhouses of the West
have deployed their “full arsenal” against Zimbabwe including their “weapons
of mass deception” such as “reactionary media” like the BBC, Sky, CNN and
The fact is that no one out there swallows this puerile nonsense any more.
They know perfectly well who claims to be the saviour of the nation but lets
it down at every turn. Corruption thrives and ministers get rich. They
cannot get by in an electoral contest without beating the hell out of their
own supporters as well as those belonging to other parties.
The Herald’s editorial came just as the names were published of victims of
political violence handed to the Attorney-General. He declined to act.
Then we have Zanu PF’s weapons of mass deception such as the suborned ZBC
which has lost its national audience because it is incapable of telling the
truth. That’s why thousands of viewers have switched across to the BBC, Sky
and CNN. Who wants a ZBC headache every night!
“Libellous and slanderous claims about Zimbabwe, its leadership and people
are peddled daily by the local opposition and South African apartheid media
without comeback,” the Herald pathetically bleats. “It is time we took the
peddlers head-on even if it meant suing them in their own countries to prove
the veracity of their claims.”
So Zanu PF’s newspapers and dissembling broadcaster are not good enough?
They have proved unable to get their deceitful message across. They now
think the British and US courts will give them a more sympathetic hearing.
We can hear the hilarity already. “Put up or shut up” is our message to
these culpable cowards.
Is it seriously suggested by the Herald that Tichaona Chiminya, Talent
Mabika, Tonderai Ndira, Elliot Machipisa, Washington Nyanga and dozens of
others were all victims of a mysterious accident?
On a lighter note, what sort of defensive measures have our local policemen
taken against followers of Bruce Lee who appear to have invaded our shores?
A local newspaper reported that a Chinese businessman used his kung fu
skills to assault four policemen who had arrested one of his workers. He
managed this amazing feat while handcuffed. All four cops were flattened,
the report claims.
Interestingly, we are told, taxi touts in the area took the side of the
police. A backup team arrived on the scene and took the businessman away. As
he departed he shouted at the crowd: “You are stupid. All of you are stupid.
Nothing will happen to me. I’m protected by President Mugabe.”
So now we know!
We noted the way Muammar Gaddafi was wrong-footed by the Jasmin revolution
The bloodshed and lawlessness across Libya’s border was because Tunisians
were in too much of a hurry to get rid of their president, he claimed, not
without a hint of self-interest.
Gaddafi said he was “pained” by what had happened in Tunisia.
“Tunisia now lives in fear,” he said. “Families could be raided and
slaughtered in their bedrooms and the citizens in the street killed as if it
was the Bolshevik or the American revolution.
“What is this for? To change Zine al-Abidine? Hasn’t he told you he would
step down after three years? Be patient for three years and your son stays
Tunisians weren’t prepared to wait, it seems. But what we detect here is a
We wonder what other dictators were glued to their TV sets!
Stories circulating about Madam Ben Ali reveal a life of extravagance and
indulgence. The First Lady at one level projected an image of caring for her
people as she headed numerous charitable foundations. But in reality, known
as the Imelda Marcos of the Maghreb, she helped herself to anything she
The rest of the First Family were just as bad, according to reports.
Anything they took a fancy to they simply grabbed. Somebody lost a yacht
that way. Other relatives would hold lavish dinner parties where the food
was flown in from St Tropez in the south of France.
“Power corrupts,” Lord Acton famously said, “and absolute power corrupts
Don’t we know it!
Meanwhile, the extent of Zanu PF’s concern was reflected in this week’s “My
Turn” column by Caesar Zvayi.
“For us here in Zimbabwe I counsel vigilance,” he said. “Don’t be surprised
dear reader to see or hear people from the usual sponsored quarters trying
to instigate public disorder.
“…Zimbabwe is not Tunisia, and Tunisia is not Zimbabwe. Any attempted
subterfuge should be met with the full wrath of the law.”
This is Zanu PF in its enforcement role. But can they turn back the
BusinessDay put it neatly when, referring to Sadc solidarity around Mugabe
in 2008 when his near ousting at the polls threatened a domino effect, it
said: “If history teaches us anything it is that people cannot be held down
forever –– and that earthquakes do not respect borders.”
Hubert Nyanhongo seemed rather reluctant to tackle the issues his audience
clearly wanted to hear. Whilst addressing a sprinkling of Harare South
residents on Monday, he went on and on about how decimated the MDC-T was.
“The MDC is now officially dead,” he boldly proclaimed to a bemused crowd
who hardly looked like willing participants.
He however did not furnish them –– or the ZTV viewers who had to watch ––
with any reasons why the MDC has met with this sudden demise. It seems to
have escaped Nyanhongo’s notice that while he was spouting ad infinitum
about the MDC, some in his audience were holding placards protesting
corruption in the allocation of stands.
Nyanhongo should be reminded that demise will happen closer to home if they
do not address the disaffection within their own ranks.
We were amused by Zanu PF Manicaland chairman Mike Madiro’s statements in
the Herald on Wednesday.
He warns “ambitious” members against using “unorthodox” means and divisive
tactics in their quest to represent the party. Madiro’s comments, we are
told, come against a backdrop of serious jostling for tickets to represent
“Let me make this clear that the party will not stand aloof and watch some
ambitious cadres disturbing the peace and tranquility in Zanu PF,” he said
“We are quite aware of the unprincipled means, the backbiting and other
divisive tactics that some of our ambitious comrades are using.”
We thought Zanu PF condoned unorthodox and unprincipled behaviour when
practised by their own supporters. Ask the MDC, they have a long story to
tell in that regard.
“No-one other than the people of Zimbabwe will have a final say on who will
represent them,” he added.
Hope you can heed the people’s verdict this time Cde Madiro!
Finally we liked the Herald front-page picture on Tuesday of John Nkomo
laughing uproariously and pointing to a gift, a “Ding” we are told, a
Chinese symbol of power and fortune handed to him by the Chinese
vice-minister of commerce, Zhong Shan.
Nkomo seemed to be saying: “Ding Dong, what a funny little Zhing Zhong!”
Which is better, we suppose, than expressing eternal revolutionary
Thursday, 20 January 2011 18:49
REGULARLY since the mid-1980s most of the hierarchy of Zanu PF has pursued
policies which inevitably decimated the economy in general, and negated
prospects of Zimbabwe attracting critically needed investment. The
inevitable conclusion is that they are determined to wreck the economy
Whilst it is human to make errors, it is inconceivable that those in
political control of a country and its people should do so consistently for
more than a quarter of a century. Their doing so is so incredibly disastrous
that it must be concluded that they do so deliberately and with ulterior
After Independence in 1980 the hopes and expectations of all were that
Zimbabwe’s vast economic potential would be constructively realised,
bringing about wellbeing to the lives of all Zimbabweans. The country had an
enormous treasure of diverse mineral resources.
It had land which was so fertile that it could not only feed the nation,
but enabled the country to be the “breadbasket” of the region. It had the
second most developed industrial infrastructure in Africa, south of the
Equator. Its tourism resource was great and diversified. And it had very
able people who were willing to work. For almost five years the economy
developed and grew, recovering from the economic tribulations of the 15
years of pre-Independence liberation war and international trade sanctions.
As has become apparent, with the belated wisdom of hindsight, that recovery
must have been anathema to the ruling political regime for whatever
Machiavellian reasons, for they then embarked upon progressive stratagems of
economic destruction. That commenced with the diabolical Gukurahundi
wherein the Zimbabwean military, aided and abetted by North Koreans,
launched cruel attacks upon tens of thousands of Ndebele people,
slaughtering many and grievously injuring and torturing many more.
Over and above the unjustified suffering inflicted upon so many, and the
reinforcement of the tribal divide instead of the development of a united
nation, these governmentally-motivated actions had adverse economic
consequences. The development and growth of the tourism sector was not only
halted, but reversed. Investor and business confidence was eroded, and
productivity in Matabeleland markedly diminished.
In 1990, the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) was launched,
but despite massive international support government was pronouncedly
half-hearted in pursuing it effectively, until it very belatedly did so in
Its reticence to implement the programme further prejudiced the economy, and
continued to beleaguer the impoverished economy, but once it finally pursued
Esap wholeheartedly, the economy witnessed a slow upturn but that was to be
short-lived. Having in 1991 enacted land acquisition legislation, in 2000
government was determined to implement it vigorously.
Land reform and equality of land usage rights were indisputably necessary,
but this was pursued in the most destructive manner, with contemptuous
disregard for property rights, international law, human rights, economic
consequences and the wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of farm workers and
Foreign investment was alienated and considerably diminished, much of the
population rendered unemployed and impoverished, the downstream of
agriculture’s economy markedly constricted, foreign exchange earnings
diminished, and there were innumerable other disastrous economic
As the economy became more and more emaciated, government pronouncedly
denied culpability, resorting to intensive, false attribution of the ills to
the malevolent actions of others. Concurrently, it progressively abandoned
adherence to the principles of law and order, human rights, property rights
and good governance, and to any and all precepts of democracy.
Concurrently, it accorded total disregard for the many Bilateral Investment
Promotion and Protection Agreements it had entered into with innumerable
countries, thereby further destroying international confidence in Zimbabwe
as a safe investment destination, or even as a reputable borrower of
much-needed international funding.
Inevitably, the result was a decline of the economy to levels wherein an
estimated 87% of the employable population was devoid of formal sector
employment, and more than half of the population was struggling to survive
on incomes markedly below the Poverty Datum Line. The national debt became
ever greater, millions of Zimbabweans sought livelihoods beyond Zimbabwe’s
borders thereby depriving Zimbabwe of much-needed skills and grievously
impairing family lives, while progressively more and more businesses had no
alternative but to discontinue operations. Concurrently, the goodwill of
Zimbabwe’s traditional international friends was increasingly destroyed.
However, the resilience of Zimbabwe and its people is amazing, the country
and its inhabitants battling on to survive (a luta Continua!). This appears
to be unacceptable to many of the Zanu PF hierarchy, for they have so
blatantly made one economically destructive decision after another. So, yet
a further new destruction policy and action is required, and has been
Last week the Minister of Defence, Emmerson Mnangagwa (oft forecast to be
the future successor of President Robert Mugabe) reportedly stated that work
on creating an anti-sanctions fund is at an advanced stage.
Foreign companies will, he said, be forced to assist in capitalising the
fund. He added that the chief executives of the approximately 500 foreign
companies operating in Zimbabwe will have to disclose (first to government,
and thereafter on international television) whether they support, or are
opposed to, international sanctions against Zimbabwe. In the case of those
that are supportive of sanctions, 90% of the shares in the companies will,
he said, be taken over by government.
This statement is yet another nail in the investment coffin, for such
threatened actions are a gargantuan deterrent to any possible investor.
Those who apply the sanctions have no malice against Zimbabwe or its people,
but only against oppressive, non-democratic policies of those who have
abysmally and disastrously misruled Zimbabwe. Now to resort to
expropriation of their companies is tantamount to piracy and theft.
Thursday, 20 January 2011 18:47
By Levi Kabwato
A LONG time ago a farmer decided to deal with a troublesome mouse once and
for all. The plan was to set a very lethal mousetrap. Upon realising that
his life was threatened, the mouse enlisted the services of a cock at the
farm to disarm this mousetrap. The mouse pleaded with the cock to help him
pointing out that this mousetrap would be fatal for someone at the farm in
the future. The cock sarcastically retorted that it was only the mouse who
was under the direct threat of this trap and it was his business to deal
with the trap on his own.
The mouse unhappily walked away and asked a cow if she could help in this
predicament only to receive the same answer as the one which had been given
by the cock.
As time went by the trap caught a snake one night and the farmer went to
investigate and possibly celebrate the end of the troublesome mouse, only to
be bitten by the angry snake. As the health of the farmer deteriorated it
became necessary to kill the cock in order to make chicken soup in the hope
it would help cure the farmer. The farmer eventually died and it became
necessary to slaughter the cow to feed the gathering mourners. The mouse was
very sad to watch his friends die in these painful circumstances.
The mousetrap was everybody’s business after all.
This sad story captures the problem of collective action in Zimbabwe today.
As William Heath writes, “…the mere fact that people know that a certain
social change would be in their interest does not mean that they will have
an incentive to do anything about it.”
One of the reasons why the oppressed — especially those who constitute the
middle class — will be reluctant to do anything about their situation is
that they live fairly comfortable lives and that “revolutions are risky
business” to them.
The Zimbabwe crisis has at the centre of it a middle class that generally
benefited from the chaos that plagued the erstwhile breadbasket of Africa
over the past years. Indeed, many from this class have become rich
While some left the country for greener pastures others stayed behind to
benefit from the money sent in by those in the diaspora. This state of
affairs made those who were living relatively comfortable lives and
capitalising on the chaos in Zimbabwe more reluctant to join the revolution
preferring to mind their own “businesses”.
An end to tyranny and the chaos associated with it would also spell the end
of their hay-making days so they preferred the oppressor’s sunshine to shine
It is such shortsightedness and selfishness that has stalled the struggle
for democracy in Zimbabwe and is underlined by the thinking that
unemployment, poverty, hunger — among other calamities affecting the poorest
of Zimbabweans — is none of their business. But then, an unemployed, hungry
poor population will steal and rob from the rich and possibly kill them in
Secondly, the oppressed suffer from a “free-rider” problem in which one
party quietly hopes the other will revolt against the oppressors, meeting
all the costs that come with such activity at no expense whatsoever to them.
This follows from the observation that agents naturally desire to have other
agents fight their battles for them but still share the spoils equally.
Freedom is a public good that can be enjoyed by everybody regardless of
their participation in the revolution so why participate? This is perhaps
the greatest plague that has resulted in the regression of the Zimbabwean
It would seem that people are too busy to be bothered about political
activity, even the simple task of registering as a voter. Besides why must
you face the prospect of being arrested and being beaten up when Morgan
Tsvangirai (Movement for Democratic Change) and Lovemore Madhuku (National
Constitutional Assembly) can be beaten on your behalf?
Take student politics as another example of how students have completely
abandoned the struggle for fear of being expelled from college. Most
students have done a cost-benefit analysis and elected to stay out of
politics for fear of not obtaining their degrees. What the students have
conveniently forgotten is, if they together put a united front against the
oppressor, the oppressor would be in a weaker position.
There is no way, for example, 5 000 students will ever be expelled from the
University of Zimbabwe in the aftermath of a mass protest. The “if you
injure one you injure all” (we need to reprint these T-shirts) spirit that
became the heart of student politics in the early 1990s when the likes of
Professor Arthur Mutambara led student activism seem to have deserted
student politics at present. Ironically, as long as the political problems
are not dealt with, high unemployment will still be common, much to the
detriment of the non-participating agents.
Many scholars agree that the state never has enough resources (army, police,
and intelligence) to deal with well-coordinated collective action. The army,
for instance, will never have the capacity to spread across an entire
country at the same time. But also, these agents of violence live with the
masses and share the same everyday challenges with them. They do not sleep
and eat at State House. However, because the state is able to coordinate and
concentrate its resources, aptly maximising on legislation and the rational
behaviour of the oppressed, it will be more than capable of containing
dissent and punishing those who oppose it.
But the masses — the oppressed — are disjointed making it risky business for
any one individual to engage the oppressor because there simply is no
guarantee that other oppressed members of society will join in. In Zimbabwe
the police, weak as they may be, have been known to apprehend a significant
proportion of transgressors. The idea behind this, usually, is to instil
fear in the minds of the citizenry by using the apprehended transgressors as
living examples of what consequences can befall those who speak against the
state so that they refrain from challenging the regime.
The point here is not to incite the masses but to highlight this obvious
weakness of the state. This, also, is not an attempt at inciting public
violence but a genuine effort to make the masses aware of the potential
power they hold over tyranny and fear.
There is likely to be an election in Zimbabwe this year. As we approach this
election, all Zimbabweans would do well to remember that despite one’s
position of advantage, misgovernance, unemployment, poverty and corruption
affects all of us directly or indirectly. Apathy will only enhance the
advantage of the oppressor. Let us remember that the oppressor’s brutality
is directly proportional to his vulnerability and fear of the mind of the
Hence, there is an urgent is need to synchronise the efforts of students,
labour, peasants, opposition political parties and civil society. Any
success of the fight for freedom in Zimbabwe will depend on how the
oppressed conduct and organise themselves between now and the day of the
election this year. If not for ourselves then for posterity’s sake!
* Levi Kabwato is the Media and Communications Officer for the Crisis in
Zimbabwe Coalition’s regional office in Johannesburg.
Thursday, 20 January 2011 18:45
By Dumisani O Nkomo
THE tragedy of opposition politicians and civics in general is the fact that
whilst there is widespread criticism of the shortcomings, ills and evils of
Zanu PF there has been failure to critically analyse its structural
strengths and weaknesses which have contributed to its continued hold on
power. An analysis of empirical evidence focused on the party’s election
strategies as well as political behaviour will assist in formulating
effective measures of defeating Zanu PF.
Advantages of incumbency
The fact that Zanu PF has been in control of vital state structures and
organs for 30 years presents it with huge advantages over the other
political parties. The fact that in Zimbabwe the party and the state have
been synonymous for a long time means that some key government structures at
both central and local government levels have operated as quasi political
structures serving the interests of Zanu PF.
The constitutional outreach process proved that Zanu PF structures were
better organised than other political parties in spite of Zanu PF’s
unpopularity. They were able to mobilise their supporters by any means
necessary. They dominated most meetings held in the rural areas and gave a
strong showing in the towns. Whilst I do not in any way condone the wayward
ways of Zanu PF it is critical to understand how Zanu PF was able to
dominate the constitution-making process even though it did not have the
support of most progressive forces .The mobility of local Zanu PF structures
was clearly evident as they were able to bus the small groups of their
supporters from venue to venue.
Quite clearly they operated using tactics from the liberation struggle using
small groups of cadres as advance parties and using terror and persuasion to
win the hearts and minds of the rural populace. The constitution-making
process was used by Zanu PF strategists to gauge the preparedness of its
structures for elections whilst everybody was busy with the
constitution-making agenda they were busy preparing for elections.
Now, whilst everybody is blindly following the election agenda, they are
already thinking about post-election power dynamics. To this end they are
tactically and technically superior to the other political parties.
Zanu PF and Mugabe in particular have become masters of political stratagem.
Opposition parties have since 1980 been forced to be constantly reacting to
agendas set by Zanu PF. Importantly after the government’s draft
constitution was rejected by Zimbabweans in 2000 it looked like Zanu PF was
poised for a crushing defeat at the hands of the MDC, but in a space of six
months Zanu PF changed both the political discourse and direction of the
nation through the chaotic land reform project. New Zanu PF strongholds were
created in resettlement areas and potential opposition strongholds were
Besides the usual tactic of violence Zanu PF is already targeting various
publics including churches, youths, indigenous business persons, artistes
and “farmers”. It appears Zanu PF is a diligent student of Machiavelli who
counsels that at times force may not be necessary where persuasion or
political fraud can work.
The youth have also been targeted through youth-“friendly” methods such as
music and dance with a number of young artistes pledging their support for
Mugabe and Zanu PF. The young artistes are being used as part of the Zanu PF
propaganda machinery in an attempt to woo those voters born after
Independence (the “born frees”) .This is a new strategy as Zanu PF has
always focused on its traditional rural support base in Mashonaland, parts
of Masvingo, Midlands and Manicaland.
This youth strategy is also buttressed through structures of the Ministry of
Youth which although purporting to be non- partisan provides opportunities
for party youths or those who choose to align with Zanu PF to benefit from
small loans to start micro enterprises.
The Zanu PF machinery has already strategically positioned itself beyond the
debate on land to that of the extractive sector and industry by dangling the
indigenisation carrot to thousands of struggling black entrepreneurs. In the
same manner in which land was used as a tool of enticing the rural vote,
“indigenisation” is being used to gain inroads into emerging urban elites,
the middle class and young black businessmen.
African politics and diplomacy
Whilst Zanu PF is clearly out of favour with the European Union and the
Americas it has managed to win the souls of African statesman through
arguments on sovereignty and anti neo- colonial rhetoric. They (Zanu PF)
seem to have a far better understanding of how African politics and
diplomacy works and have managed to skillfully and deceitfully evade
scrutiny from numerous Sadc summits. Due to the weaknesses of opposition
parties at international level Zanu PF has managed to run rings around
their opponents and blocked any meaningful interventions from Sadc as a the
most critical player in the Zimbabwean transitional process. The proposed
Sadc roadmap to free elections may fall victim to Zanu PF shenanigans and
Zanu PF has always and will continue to use or abuse traditional structures
as a tool of political coercion in plebiscites and this is already evident
in that contrary to the Traditional Leaders Act some chiefs have openly
declared their support for the party. Strategically traditional leadership
structures filter to village level and serve as useful appendages of Zanu PF
party structures come election time.
Summation of strengths
The above strategies which are a combination of force, fraud, coercion and
persuasion are already being used to target different electorates.
Interestingly Zanu PF is no longer just interested in consolidating its
traditional support base but is actively engaging and enticing new target
groups such as organised business, urban youths, churches and academics.
Where coercion fails violence will be used but in a tactical and targeted
In Matabeleland which is crucial to attaining an electoral majority Zanu PF
will make a spirited attempt to win one seat in Bulawayo, four in
Matabeleland South and two seats in Matabeleland North. They will pray for
apathy in the elections so that their loyal supporters vote in their numbers
and hope that the opposition vote in Matabeleland is split between Zapu and
the MDC factions. They will also hope that the opposition presidential vote
will be split between two or even three aspirants just as Simba Makoni’s
slice of the vote which was just above 6% made a great difference in
deciding the course of the electoral contest.
The factors that militate against Zanu PF‘s electoral success are numerous
and do not need the ingenuity of a political scientist.
Zanu PF is associated (and rightly so) with the collapse of the economy,
corruption, chaos, anarchy, poverty, deterioration of service delivery and
mass poverty. The electorate believes that Zanu PF has failed for the last
30 years and nothing short of miracle will make them win elections fairly
Closely tied to this is the undeniable fact that Zanu PF is a losing brand
and for many, especially young people, it has no place in the future. It is
associated with all manner of failure and as such people do not want to
associate with failure. Sovereignty, loyalty and patriotism will not pay
people‘s rent, give them bread or jobs.
Zanu PF’s hold on the state media for propaganda purposes will fail because
of the emergence of alternative media in the form of satellite TV and
shortwave radio as well as the independent print media. Even in rural areas
few people now listen to or watch ZBH programmes. A lot of resources may
thus be wasted flogging a dead horse.
Zanu PF’s propaganda machinery may achieve results contrary to their
expectations as people will believe the opposite of whatever the state media
is saying. The government’s “Vote Yes” campaign of 2000 is an example of how
people voted “No” because of what they perceived to be a ploy to hoodwink
them. The electorate is in the mode of supporting whoever is the victim and
is likely to disbelieve whatever is said against opposition parties.
It is debatable whether violence will actually translate to more votes for
Zanu PF as people adapt and react to it. Even though this was generally
true of elections held in June 2008 this may not be necessarily so as was
proved in 1985 when Zanu PF was comprehensively defeated by PF Zapu in
Matabeleland after the state-sanctioned Gukurahundi massacres. Ultimately
people may choose to attend Zanu PF meetings, eat the food they are given,
chant party slogans but in the ballot booth the secrecy of the vote will
* Dumisani Nkomo is the chief executive officer of Habakkuk Trust and
principal spokesperson of the Matabeleland Civil Society Consortium. He
writes here in his personal capacity.
Thursday, 20 January 2011 19:12
IT is said the condition of a country’s roads closely mirror the state of
the country’s economy. It does not require much effort to figure out why.
Last week while making the short trip to Glen View from adjacent Glen Norah
township I decided to take a so-called “emergency taxi”. A poignant
anachronism and derisively dubbed “limos”, the so-called emergency taxis are
in fact 1960s and 1970s vehicles such as Peugeot 404s and Morris Oxfords.
Like a blast from the past — and despite being banned several times by
government — they ply short routes from Glen Norah, with the only sporadic
hazard being an occasional, half-hearted police blitz.
“Sorry I will have to use the longer route with the better road,” the driver
remarked as the car’s engine reluctantly spluttered into life as he steered
his decades-old Morris onto the road.
Having driven on the road he was referring to before his decision was
understandable: Deeply potholed and now comprising more earth than tar, it
is almost impossible to get out of first gear lest you damage your vehicle.
But apparently there’s an additional rain-induced hazard. The driver
revealed that the day before he had used the road just after a downpour.
Inadvertently, his vehicle had splashed pothole water onto a pedestrian, who
furiously scooped mud from a pothole with his hands and threw it at him
through the vehicle’s window!
Such is the parlous state of the country’s roads which bear testimony to the
country’s decade-long freefall precipitated by the self-serving policies of
former ruling party, Zanu PF, which hardly require reprising. Zimbabweans
had hoped that the government of national unity would be the vehicle to
transport the nation on the road to economic recovery and growth, but, apart
from stabilising the economy, little else has been achieved. The worsening
power cuts and continuing job losses are but two barometers of this failure.
During the mid-1980s the poor state of Zambian roads was the butt of several
jokes in this country. One was that any motorist who kept to his lane risked
arrest on suspicion of drunken driving for it was deemed impossible to drive
in the pot-holed roads without zigzagging to avoid them.
But now we all know poor roads are no joke.
Similarly, the parties to the unity government have found the going a bumpy
road given their disparate interests, despite “dedicating ourselves to
putting an end to the polarisation, divisions and conflict and intolerance
that has characterised Zimbabwean politics and society”, as spelt out in the
preamble of the Global Political Agreement — the precursor to the unity
Only last Sunday our sister publication The Standard carried a story in
which Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa allegedly praised
soldiers — accused by the MDC of spearheading the 2008 poll violence — for
keeping Zanu PF intact. He opened his speech with a “pasi na (Morgan)
Tsvangirai” –– a slogan reserved for the party’s arch-enemies.
Zanu PF is clearly in mortal fear that fully implementing the unity
agreement could deal a fatal blow to its ambitions of ruling the country
forever due to its “liberation war credentials”. It is little wonder then
that President Robert Mugabe is now claiming he is unhappy being in the
power-sharing government, citing its semi-legality and breakdown in
communication with his fellow principals, and wants elections as soon as
Zanu PF’s subterfuge must never be allowed to prevail. The GNU has failed to
engage the travelling gear largely because one of the core-drivers — Zanu
PF— will not disengage the handbrake.
While we can forget about the GNU spawning economic recovery worth talking
about, there must be no elections until all the reforms as outlined in the
accord are fulfilled. To do otherwise would be to play into the hands of
Zanu PF while sacrificing the aspirations of the majority.
Zanu PF’s ambition of perpetual rule is about as anachronistic as the
“emergency taxis” plying the short routes to and from Glen Norah.
Thursday, 20 January 2011 19:12
IS the silly season upon us so early into the New Year? Or maybe it is a
sign that elections are just around the corner because Zanu PF politicians
are competing with each other in making outrageous statements.
Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, normally one of the more level-headed
individuals among the Zanu PF elite, last week came up with one of the most
foolish statements in recent times. Addressing Zanu PF supporters last week,
Mnangagwa — who is seen as a possible successor to President Robert Mugabe —
said heads of foreign firms operating in Zimbabwe have to publicly denounce
sanctions or risk losing 90% of their companies’ shareholding.
Mnangagwa’s statements are mere political sabre rattling; they’re not
government policy, a fact pointed out by Economic Planning and Investment
Promotion minister Tapiwa Mashakada — a senior member of Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party.
For a country desperately short on external funding and trying to woo
investors, Mnangagwa’s rhetoric is enormously damaging. The “anti-sanctions
fund”, which he said would be financed by 90% share takeovers from
uncooperative firms, appears to be an off the cuff idea arbitrarily thrown
in for dramatic effect.
“We will ask them if they support sanctions or not,” Mnangagwa said.
“Those who indicate that they do not support sanctions will be asked to go
live on national radio and tell the nation and the rest of the world their
company does not support sanctions.”
Industry and Commerce minister and new MDC president, Welshman Ncube
described Mnangagwa’s proposal to interrogate industry chiefs as “kangaroo
courts” which further undermined efforts to stabilise already shaky investor
confidence in the embattled economy.
Also, he pointed out, it is illegal under the constitution to force
individuals to make public their political opinions.
But how do you remove sanctions when you are not the one that imposed them
in the first place?
More crucially, while Zanu PF as a party may be united in its condemnation
of the sanctions, it is stretching the imagination a little too far to
assume that there is a consensus within that party on such a radical move as
this. The idea might excite a few hawks, but a rational assessment of its
implications would expose a regime in terminal trouble.
For a start, before raiding them government would need to prove that foreign
multinationals in Zimbabwe are responsible for, or have a direct influence
over the foreign policies of their home governments. They will also have to
prove that the same multinationals are benefiting from the maintenance of EU
and American sanctions on Zimbabwe.
Or maybe we are missing the point? Because for some time now, Zanu PF has
tried unsuccessfully to replicate the land grab of 2000 in industry. First,
they tried to force through the indigenisation and economic empowerment
regulations targeted at companies worth over US$500 000, which had to be
watered down after vigorous protests from its partners in the government of
national unity. And now we have Mnangagwa and his warning which is nothing
short of blackmail —- a threat to wrest control of the companies from their
rightful owners without paying a cent for them.
Clearly this is a party in desperate need of a voice of reason. Sanctions
were imposed on Zanu PF’s inner cabal by the West and not by companies; but
now they are being forced to declare allegiance to politicians of
Tsvangirai has put the cost of rebuilding Zimbabwe’s shattered economy at
US$10 billion. As it stands, that kind of money is only available from
international investors and multilateral institutions and lenders.
It is careless comments like these from the Zanu PF elite that have only
served to scare away such investors who regard the country as a high
political risk. People like Mnangagwa believe they can advance their
political careers by parroting the president’s malevolent remarks. They
evidently don’t care about the armies of the unemployed whose fate we can
already envisage. Populism trumps good governance.
Thursday, 20 January 2011 19:10
IT IS interesting to surf around the globe ascertaining how countries
responded to the release of United States diplomatic cables by the
whistleblower website, WikiLeaks, since the first batch was posted on
November 28 last year.
The US, the creator of the cables, is reported to have concluded, late last
year, that the exposé “was embarrassing but not damaging”.
Iran, which at first thought the release was a dummy aimed at diverting
attention from the nuclear standoff, has changed tack and demanded
explanations from the US government on certain contents of the cables.
Russia has asked the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) to explain
certain contents showing that the release of the cables was a game changer
in international relations.
In Zimbabwe, however, the release of the cables was used as a tool for
checkmating political opponents with Zanu PF seeing a potential arsenal for
its propaganda artillery which was empty as issues of land, sanctions and
indigenisation had become repetitive and monotonous.
Strategists in Zanu PF saw the release of the cables as a defining moment
for their standoff with the MDC, and they started shouting “treason”.
Many did not take them seriously, given the history of treason charges
levelled against politicians in post-independent Zimbabwe, but the
announcement that the Attorney-General, Johannes Tomana would appoint a team
to look into the issue to see if a crime was committed called for soberness.
Tomana, in an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent last week, flatly
refuted authorship of statements published in December and this month by
state-controlled media announcing the intention to appoint the said
commission. He was adamant that he had no constitutional mandate to appoint
a commission to look into the WikiLeaks, and insisted that was President
Robert Mugabe’s prerogative.
Given the constitutional hurdles, Tomana was on Sunday quoted in the
state-controlled media saying instead of a commission, he had appointed a
“panel” to give him “expert advice” on the WikiLeaks.
Any observer would realise that things do not tally here. Who then authored
the statement in December? What forces were behind Tomana’s decision to
appoint the probe team which has remained shadowy and nameless? What are the
terms of reference for the team? Would a nameless probe team’s final report
be taken seriously?
One is forgiven for thinking that there are invisible hands manipulating
Tomana. What gives credence to this suspicion is the confluence of Tomana’s
response, that he made no such statement, and the call for a probe by the
Zanu PF hardliners during the party’s annual conference in Mutare last
month. It’s crystal clear that Zanu PF hardliners intended to arm- twist the
Attorney-General to come up with a team whose main objective would be to
probe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on his engagements with United States
diplomats who later sent cables to the State Department, which have now been
made public by WikiLeaks.
The idea is simply to charge Tsvangirai with treason on shaky grounds ahead
of possible elections this year in a bid to distract him and his party and
tie them up in legal string.
Tomana should resist being used as an attack dog of Zanu PF hardliners and
execute his duties in line with the constitution of this country. And if the
state media continue to put words in his mouth he should have the courage to