January 25, 2013 in Politics
THE death of Vice-President John Nkomo, coupled with a clause in the
proposed new constitution empowering the sitting president’s party to choose
a successor in the event of the incumbent being incapacitated or dying in
office, has complicated Zanu PF’s succession battles amid revelations
bigwigs were positioning themselves for the party chairmanship.
Owen Gagare/Brian Chitemba
Although presently the contest looks set for the chairperson’s post, with
incumbent Simon Khaya Moyo a favourite to assume the vice-presidency, the
dynamics for the chairmanship battle have taken a serious tribal twist in
what looks like a dress rehearsal for the final battle to replace ageing
President Robert Mugabe.
The principals’ decision last week to shelve the running-mates clause for 10
years, and their proposal for the sitting president’s party to choose a
successor, has energised Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa who was sure to
lose out had the clause been adopted, largely because of his current
position in the party.
Mnangagwa and Vice-President Joice Mujuru are believed to be leading
factions battling to control the party, and the running-mates clause was
seen as favouring Mujuru who is Mugabe’s deputy.
Mujuru had appeared a shoe-in as Mugabe’s first running-mate in the election
and therefore an automatic successor if the clause had been adopted. In
contrast Mnangagwa is the Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs, the 11th most
powerful position in the party.
Sources said with the running-mates clause being shelved, succeeding Mugabe
would boil down to the most popular candidate in the provinces, thereby
giving Mnangagwa a lifeline after seemingly being elbowed out by the clause.
“That’s why the issue of the national chairman has become so important,”
said a senior Zanu PF official. “Don’t be surprised if Mnangagwa himself
goes for the position which would put him in good stead ahead of the bigger
fight for the presidency. There is also Didymus Mutasa, who is eyeing that
position, and remember he is a key member of the Mujuru faction, so there
will be a serious battle there,” the official said.
The faction that would land the critical national chairmanship would have
the advantage of a person presiding over the powerful national people’s
congress in its corner, as well as the extraordinary session of the
congress, the national people’s conference and the extraordinary session,
the National Consultative Assembly, national conference of the women’s
league, national conference of the youth league and the national
disciplinary committee. The national people’s congress is the supreme
policy-making body of Zanu PF. It is responsible for electing the president,
the two vice-presidents and members of the central committee.
“But there is also the Matabeleland element and people from the region
believe that position is theirs as a result of a ‘silent’ clause in the 1987
Unity Accord,” added the source.
“The likes of (Mines minister) Obert Mpofu and (Home Affairs co-minister)
Kembo Mohadi have constantly won elections in Matabeleland and are also
tipped for the post while names of people like (Matabeleland South governor)
Angeline Masuku have also been mentioned,” added the source.
“There is also a clique which is questioning the wisdom of giving both the
vice- presidency and the chairmanship to Matabeleland. The Manyikas, for
example, are complaining they have been left in the cold for too long as
they have never held the vice-presidency despite playing a pivotal role in
the war of liberation.”
January 25, 2013 in Politics
MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti fiercely clashed with party organising
secretary Nelson Chamisa at a standing committee meeting over primary
election application forms, while MPs Tabitha Khumalo and Albert Mhlanga
reportedly exchanged blows as intra-party fighting rages on.
Report by Brian Chitemba
The Biti-Chamisa fight engulfed the MDC-T’s standing committee comprising
the Top 12, as the furious Information and Communications Technology
minister queried why Biti dispatched application forms for aspiring MPs
without his signature.
The ministers’ fight is seen as part of a wider MDC-T factional and
succession battle as Biti and Chamisa are allegedly ensconced in two warring
The initial deadline for the application forms to be submitted was January
30, but this would be moved forward as Chamisa is livid over Biti’s move to
send out the forms to provinces without his say-so.
The debate, sources said, dominated the standing committee meeting last
Wednesday resulting in MDC-T leaders recalling the application forms and
restarting the process to pave way for contentious primary elections
expected between February and March.
There is bad blood between Biti and Chamisa as the two are also involved in
the party’s succession and factional fights, a source said.
“The fight between the ministers was over a template for aspiring election
candidates which Chamisa said Biti did not follow while an equally incensed
Biti defended his actions,” said the source.
“The debate went on for some time until the standing committee resolved to
withdraw the application forms and restart the whole process.”
Chamisa and Biti could not be reached for comment yesterday as their mobile
phones went unanswered.
The MDC-T has been sucked in a messy internal battle over the selection
criteria for the party’s candidates for high-stakes national polls expected
later this year. This was after the national council resolved to implement
the controversial confirmation of sitting MPs, much to the chagrin of the
party’s grassroots which view the move as undemocratic and a ploy to
ring-fence senior officials’ posts from ambitious junior members of the
Elsewhere within the party, sources said Bulawayo East MP Khumalo confronted
her Pumula constituency counterpart Mhlanga during an audit of structures in
the former MDC-T deputy spokesperson’s district.
The audit is part of preparations for primary polls.
Khumalo was miffed over a plot by Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe, who
is Mhlanga’s ally, to elbow her out and replace her with former United
Kingdom-based academic Mandla Nyathi, now a lecturer at the National
University of Science and Technology.
The grassroots are also fuming over the party’s move to entertain candidates
from the diaspora, including disc jockeys Eric Knight and Ezra Sibanda who
are believed to be vying for the Mbare and Lower Gweru constituencies
Tempers also flared in Bulawayo last Saturday at Macdonald’s Hall in
Makokoba where Mhlanga was bashed by an angry mob allegedly aligned to
Mzilikazi senator, Mattson Hlalo.
After the Makokoba incident, Mhlanga proceeded to Bulawayo East on Sunday
where he was welcomed with clenched fists and booted feet by Khumalo and her
“Mhlanga was accused by Khumalo of forming parallel structures to ensure
Nyathi takes over Bulawayo East,” said a senior MDC-T official based in
Bulawayo. “To make matters worse, Mhlanga ordered Khumalo to organise an
emergency meeting for an audit of structures in preparation for primary
elections, but Khumalo requested more time.
Mhlanga continued pressing her resulting in the fist-fight.”
MDC-T Bulawayo provincial chairperson Gorden Moyo, who is also Khupe’s
right-hand man, then asked Mhlanga to write a report which is likely to be
used against Khumalo, for long at loggerheads with Khupe.
“Khupe is using all means to frustrate and push Khumalo out of the party
regardless of the fact that she is one of the pioneers of the MDC-T,” said
The Khumalo/Mhlanga fight has since been reported to party leader Morgan
Tsvangirai’s office and would be dealt with once a full report is compiled
Khumalo declined to comment on Wednesday while Mhlanga was not reachable.
January 25, 2013 in Politics
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe allegedly bragged at Wednesday’s politburo meeting
that he had outwitted the MDC leaders on contentious issues which were
stalling the constitution-making process.
Report by Brian Chitemba
Mugabe said Zanu PF was celebrating victory over the MDCs after he
successfully arm-twisted MDC-T and MDC leaders Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai and Welshman Ncube to agree to the controversial agreement seen
as safeguarding Zanu PF’s interests.
“Mugabe boasted that he outwitted Tsvangirai and Ncube because the parked
issues relieve the party of unnecessary pressure from the MDCs,” said a
high-ranking Zanu PF official. “He said it was a Zanu PF victory which
should be celebrated by all.”
The politburo endorsed the agreement and agreed to support the draft
constitution in the referendum.
The issues whose postponement would be reflected in the latest draft had
been pushed for by the MDCs, but Zanu PF came up with a raft of
controversial amendments, some of which eventually prevailed.
According to the principals’ deal which broke the governance charter
deadlock last week, the issue of running-mates would be shelved for 10 years
from the date the new constitution comes into effect while the
constitutional court can only be constituted after 10 years.
The Peace and Reconciliation Commission would exist for 10 years, after
which it would be up to the government of the day to put it through an Act
The draft constitution also provides a waiver on timelines within which
Mugabe can call for elections soon after the adoption of the new governance
charter on the basis that the principals did not know when the
constitution-making process would be completed.
Mugabe instructed the politburo to start campaigning for the party in
preparation for elections which he said would be held this year without
January 25, 2013 in Politics
THE Global Political Agreement (GPA) principals’ agreement to park
contentious issues in the draft constitution for 10 years after which they
would become part of the governance charter is a complete subversion of the
will of the people who participated in the constitution-making process.
President Robert Mugabe and his long-time nemesis Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai, Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube, and Deputy Prime
Minister Arthur Mutambara finally broke the logjam over the writing of a new
constitution when they reached the agreement last week.
The accord indicates a deeply divided society where the will of the elite
prevails over the wishes of the majority.
The principals agreed to shelve the running mates clause — which would have
resolved Mugabe’s succession issue that has divided his party Zanu PF — for
10 years from the date the new constitution comes into effect.
They also agreed to set up a Peace and Reconciliation Commission for only 10
years, after which it would be up to the government of the day to put it
through an Act of parliament if there is need.
The constitutional court can also only come into effect after 10 years while
there is also a proposed provision spelling out that in the event of a
president dying or being incapacitated, the party from which the head of
state hails would provide the successor. This provision effectively bars
independent candidates, a factor that has already raised much furore.
The principals further agreed that there be a six-year transitional period
for a new independent National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) separate from the
Attorney-General (AG’s) office.
The draft constitution further provides a waiver on timelines within which
Mugabe can call for elections. The new provision was agreed to by the
principals on the basis that they were unsure as to when the
constitution-making process would be completed.
This means the president can call for elections as soon as the new
constitution has been adopted. Observers noted that the waiver on election
timelines proves that the MDCs gave in to Mugabe’s demands for early
elections way before the new constitution was given time to establish and
synchronise institutions provided for in the governance charter.
The agreements indicate that politicians were never sincere about
incorporating the views of the masses — as they claimed ad nauseum — in the
new governance charter, sparking widespread criticism over why Copac
“wasted” about US$50 million in the four-year constitution-making process.
While the political parties initially agreed to the July 18 2012 draft
constitution produced by Copac, Zanu PF spectacularly somersaulted and
demanded a raft of amendments to retain Mugabe’s imperial powers, whittled
down in the draft. Zanu PF’s politburo spent long hours shredding the Copac
draft to incorporate its demands meant to protect Mugabe’s interests.
Last week’s concessions by the MDCs have been described as a betrayal of the
expectations and aspirations of Zimbabweans who participated in the Copac
It is “scandalous”, observers said, for the MDCs to be arm-twisted into
parking constitutional issues for periods stretching up to 10 years.
While many Zimbabweans feel cheated by politicians, the drafters — former
High Court judge Justice Moses Chinhengo, lawyer Priscilla Madzonga and
University of Zimbabwe law lecturer Brian Crozier — are busy amending the
July 18 draft which would be presented to parliament next month by Copac.
Matabeleland Constitutional Reform Agenda chairperson Effie Ncube argued
that postponement of constitutional issues for 10 years mirrored the
political landscape where views and values of the ordinary people were
trampled upon by the rulers.
The sunset clauses which refer to the parking of constitutional matters are
not peculiar to Zimbabwe; the same happened in countries like the United
States where the issue of slavery… was deferred for three years.
But Ncube argued that deferring critical issues for 10 years was tantamount
to refusing to implement democratic reforms.
“Postponement of controversial issues is mostly done for two to three years
to allow negotiating parties’ tempers to cool down,” said Ncube. “But in
Zimbabwe’s case, its crystal clear Zanu PF is buying time to resist
The new draft constitution has sparked a furore from constitutional
organisations with the National Constitutional Assembly vowing to campaign
for a “No” vote in the referendum which Constitutional and Parliamentary
Affairs minister Eric Matinenga says would be held between March and April.
Although he could not discuss details of the draft constitution, NCA
chairperson Professor Lovemore Madhuku warned his organisation would
campaign vigorously for a “No” vote in the referendum because the whole
constitution-making process was driven by politicians instead of the people.
But political analyst Chamu Mutasa believes the “Yes” vote would prevail
because political parties were likely to choke their supporters to ensure
the new governance charter sails through.
However, some academics argue that the breakthrough achieved by the
principals was not a Mugabe victory because the charter provides reasonable
clauses for sustainable transformation.
They say Zimbabweans should celebrate the new constitution since it would
solve contentious issues even after 10 years while the creation of the Peace
and Reconciliation Commission would bring to finality historical injustices
like Gukurahundi and the 2008 election violence, among others.
Policy and administration expert Qhubani Moyo said the provision of
devolution would ensure that power would reside in the grassroots and
citizens away from the capital where everything is currently centralised.
“Deferring clauses for 10 years is not an issue, but what is fundamental is
the acceptance of institutions like the Constitutional Court to be
established,” said Moyo.
“With elections coming, if Zimbabweans vote wisely, they should choose a
party which will effect the fundamental issues immediately after polls.”
January 25, 2013 in Politics
AS electioneering gathers momentum, war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda has
warned his members would respond violently if the MDC formations try to
disrupt Zanu PF rallies and intimidate its supporters as the country gears
for elections later this year.
Report by Elias Mambo
This is despite the fact than in the past, war veterans have been used by
Zanu PF to perpetrate violence against its opponents during the pre and
In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent, the war veterans leader said
his men and women are on the ground mobilising support for Zanu PF against
the “foreign-funded MDC parties” who want to reverse the gains of the
“I have warned them on several occasions and I am warning them again that
any violence against a peaceful operation that is busy mobilising its
support peacefully will breed counter-violence that may turn out to be seven
times harder,” said Sibanda. “We are not a violent association; we want free
and fair elections, but we will not sit back once our members are attacked.”
Sibanda said war veterans would not rest as long as the MDC formations are
still represented in parliament and Zanu PF does not solely run government.
“We want to liberate that parliament because the MDCs have been used as
missiles against their own people,” he said.
Sources say President Robert Mugabe, desperate to extend his 33-year
stranglehold on power, has given the firebrand war veterans leader the nod
to mobilise support countrywide ahead of the make-or-break elections.
War veterans have previously been accused of spearheading political violence
and coming to Mugabe’s rescue since 2000 when Zanu PF party structures began
to crumble after the entrance of the MDC into mainstream politics.
At the heart of Mugabe’s strategy to cling to power in the past was
electoral violence spearheaded by war veterans who led chaotic farm
invasions and played a central role in the terror campaign against Mugabe’s
Sibanda’s threats of violence are in stark contrast to Mugabe’s recent
repeated calls for people to shun violence in the run-up to, during and
after the next elections.
While Mugabe has been passionately denouncing violence his diehard
lieutenants have been threatening bloodshed and even a coup should Zanu PF
Army generals have vowed that they would not allow anyone without liberation
war credentials to rule Zimbabwe.
January 25, 2013 in News
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe this week ordered police to investigate five Zanu PF
Manicaland provincial executives facing fraud allegations involving more
than US$750 000 in diamond money, saying the party did not tolerate
Report by Faith Zaba
A visibly angry Mugabe removed the matter from the politburo agenda on
Wednesday and threw it back to the police for investigation, arguing the
supreme party organ was not the right forum to discuss a matter more
criminal than political.
The five, who include Manicaland provincial chairperson Mike Madiro, ousted
provincial youth chairperson Tawanda Mukodza, provincial youth secretary for
security Admire Mahachi, provincial youth secretary for information Masimba
Kangai and former district co-ordinating committee member Clever Muparutsa,
are accused of soliciting for money from diamond mining companies in
Chiadzwa purportedly for party activities including preparations for the
party’s annual people’s conference in Gweru last December.
Mugabe met with Vice-President Joice Mujuru, Zanu PF national chairperson
Simon Khaya Moyo and party secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa just
before the politburo meeting, where he fumed over the decision to bring the
matter to the party for investigation.
Politburo insiders told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that: “Mugabe
said the matter was a clear case of theft and corruption and as a party we
should not tolerate corruption.”
He asked what message they would be sending out if they were to discuss the
When the matter was initially reported to the police, acting
Commissioner-General Levi Sibanda wrote to Mujuru, then acting president,
seeking advice on what action to take since the issue involved top party
January 25, 2013 in News
AGRICULTURAL Bank of Zimbabwe (Agribank) and the Industrial Development
Corporation of South Africa (IDC) are reeling from a US$5 million exposure
as it emerged this week that Interfresh Holdings Ltd could default on its
obligations after 52% of its productive assets were listed for compulsory
acquisition two weeks ago.
Sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that Interfresh, which lost its prime
lemon orchards and crops, seed maize and soya beans at Mazoe Citrus,
allegedly to President Robert Mugabe’s wife Grace, could fail to meet its
obligations to Agribank. The sources added the group was likely to
experience financial constraints given the extent of the asset grab.
Agribank unveiled a US$5 million facility to Interfresh Holdings Ltd under a
US$30 million IDC facility, which was guaranteed by the government of
Sources said IDC was worried by the exposure and could withhold a further
US$30 million line of credit it had pledged to the local financial
But Agribank CEO Sam Malaba described his bank’s relationship with IDC as
excellent, adding all beneficiaries of the facility were up to date on their
“As per the terms of the facility, the bank is currently at advanced stages
in respect of a further drawdown scheduled for early next month. The bank
has an excellent relationship with IDC SA and IDC SA is satisfied with the
performance of Agribank and its clients under the terms of the two
facilities. All beneficiaries of the IDC SA facilities are up to date in
respect of their payments including Interfresh,” said Malaba.
But sources insisted IDC is now worried by the exposure and wants to put the
brakes on a similar facility established late last year until it engages
Agribank and government officials to see how the institution can extricate
itself from imminent losses arising from the Interfresh exposure.
“IDC is concerned they could be throwing good money after bad and would want
to hold on to the latest US$30 million facility,” said a source privy to
developments. “They want assurance the developments at Interfresh won’t
affect their loan book in Zimbabwe.”
January 25, 2013 in News
WHILe President Robert Mugabe has been preaching the gospel of peace and
violence-free elections, the military has ratcheted up its pro-Zanu PF
campaign by increasingly deploying in the country’s villages to scale up the
party’s poll campaign under the guise of a recycled exercise codenamed
Report by Elias Mambo
The ad hoc Operation Maguta was previously introduced in 2007 purportedly as
part of government efforts to boost agricultural production, but it flopped
dismally, producing less than a quarter of projected output. The army’s role
in the programme has always raised eyebrows amid allegations of campaigning
for Zanu PF.
Mugabe told thousands of mourners at the Heroes’ Acre on Monday that the
best tribute to the late Vice-President John Nkomo would be a smooth and
“Peace, unity and harmony should prevail in the country if we desire to move
forward,” he said.
Mugabe, who in the past used such platforms to attack his opponents, sounded
conciliatory and urged Zimbabweans to bury “petty personal differences” over
politics. Sources in the Midlands said as Mugabe was speaking at Heroes’
Acre, soldiers deployed at Mataga Growth Point in Mberengwa in December 2012
were harassing villagers in the area for failing to produce national
identification documents and for allegedly backing Prime Minister Morgan
The soldiers are alleged to have imposed unofficial curfews and are carrying
out late-night visits to suspected MDC-T activists’ homes as intimidation
intensified in the district. Sources said the soldiers have also been
holding several meetings with four Mberengwa chiefs, Mataga, Mataruse,
Chingoma and Mahlebadza, urging them to ensure their subjects “vote wisely”
in the next elections. The opposition and sections of the international
community remain sceptical of Mugabe’s peace pronouncements given violence
has been his party Zanu PF’s trump card in previous elections.
Mugabe’s peace rhetoric comes at a time fiery war veterans’ leader Jabulani
Sibanda has warned MDC supporters any attempts to disrupt Zanu PF meetings,
at many of which people are coerced to attend, would “breed counter-violence
that may turn out to be seven times harder”.
Chief Mataga yesterday confirmed to the Independent he had met with the
soldiers but declined to disclose details of their meetings.
“We have them (soldiers) in the area and we have met them on several
occasions,” said Mataga. “All we know is that they are on a Maguta
programme,” Mataga said.
National Healing, Integration and Reconciliation co-minister Sekai Holland
said she had also received reports of military involvement in Mberengwa.
“We have heard of such reports for weeks now and as a national healing
organ, we are arranging a meeting with the people and traditional leaders so
that the political field is violence-free,” said Holland.
Military deployment in communities has been a source of constant fear for
villagers, who dread a repeat of the June 27, 2008.
Last year the Independent revealed the presence of soldiers in Nyanga
villages where they reportedly held meetings with local chiefs to prop up
Soldiers were also deployed in Masvingo province and summoned local chiefs
to meetings whose details remain unclear.
The Joint Operations Command, which brings together the army, police and
intelligence chiefs, has played a strong commissariat role for Zanu PF in
elections, and army sources said Operation Maguta was being revived to
justify the presence of soldiers in many rural communities.
However, Zimbabwe National Army director of public relations
Lieutenant-Colonel Alphios Makotore refused to comment on the matter, asking
this paper to put its questions in writing.
“We can only respond to written questions if you submit your hard copy to KG
6 (army headquarters),” Makotore said.
Political analysts say Mugabe has a long history of misleading Zimbabweans
on a variety of electoral issues by “indicating left when actually turning
right” as long as it ensures he retains power.
Charles Mangongera said Mugabe is a good performer on stage because what he
usually says on public platforms is often the exact opposite of what would
be happening on the ground. “Mugabe is an excellent performer and that has
always been his modus operandi,” said Mangongera. “He is a ruthless schemer
who thrives on double standards. He has thrived on violence. He might appear
to be castigating it (violence), but the reality is that he has used
violence to hold on to his post,” he said.
There are growing fears the situation could deteriorate and spread from
rural to urban areas as elections fast approach.
The coalition government has repeatedly failed to agree on security sector
reforms to restore professionalism, independence and impartiality within the
All attempts to reform the military or the broader security sector have been
met with fierce resistance from Zanu PF which vowed at its congress in
December 2009 that security sector reforms would never be allowed in
January 25, 2013 in News
THE National Social Security Authority (Nssa), which registered cumulative
losses of US$4,5 million in a botched computerisation deal in 2011, has lost
a further US$220 000 after the High Court threw out its attempts to encash a
performance bond in a hard-hitting judgment which blasted the authority for
Report by Herbert Moyo
The US$4,5 million represents losses through payments to Professional
Computer Services (PCS) for partial performance and litigation costs after
the two went through an arbitration process presided over by former Chief
Justice Anthony Gubbay, and lately in a High Court case (Case Number
HH426-2012) heard by Justice Francis Bere.
The court action arose after PCS took exception to Nssa’s decision to encash
a performance bond of US$220 000 held by National Merchant Bank.
In his judgment, Bere accused Nssa of “greed” and ordered it to pay PCS the
US$220 000 the authority had encashed after directing NMB to pay it out.
Nssa was also ordered to pay costs of the suits.
Indications are that Nssa disregarded legal advice for an out of court
settlement. NMB, cited as second respondent, was spared the costs because of
its decision not to contest the matter.
“When everything is said and considered, one cannot help but conclude that
the first respondent (Nssa)’s letter to the second respondent (NMB)
demanding the encashment of the performance bond was in bad taste and
actuated by greed and a stout effort to subvert the arbitrary order of the
tribunal,” ruled Bere.
E-mail correspondence between Cris Shava of PCS and Nssa general manager
James Matiza and board chairman Innocent Chagonda clearly demonstrates Nssa
ignored forewarnings on the futility of encashing the bond and advice to
settle the matter amicably.
Matiza said on Wednesday they had acted in good faith after advice from
their legal team that they were within their rights to encash the bond
following PCS’ failure to fulfil their contractual obligations of delivering
on the computerisation project.
Meanwhile, Nssa’s attempts at computerisation, five years after terminating
a tender originally awarded to PCS in 2005, have flopped once again after
the State Procurement Board directed it to re-tender citing irregularities
in bid documents.
Sources said the authority could incur more costs as some Nssa employees
continue to frustrate the project due to vested interests in who wins the
January 25, 2013 in News
THE discovery of diamonds in Chiadzwa in 2006 was followed by the signing of
the Global Political Agreement and establishment of the coalition government
in 2008 and 2009 respectively, raising hope that a country ravaged by
political strife and severe economic decline for over a decade was on the
road to recovery.
Report by Herbert Moyo
Four diamond-mining firms, Marange Resources, Mbada Diamonds, Anjin and
Diamond Mining Corporation subsequently commenced state-of-the-art mining,
bringing an end to the primitive pick-and-shovel operations of villagers and
other fortune hunters.
Local and international experts fell over each other in hailing Zimbabwe’s
new find and predicted the country could earn up to US$2 billion a year from
the diamonds to become the third largest producer in the world by 2020, as
well as supplying 25% of global demand.
Embattled former ruling party Zanu PF, reeling under targeted sanctions
imposed by the West, even touted the diamonds as “sanctions busting”.
However, as has become the norm in Zimbabwe, that optimism quickly gave way
to despair, accusations and counter-accusations among the Zanu PF and MDC
coalition partners following paltry remittances to national treasury headed
by Finance minister Tendai Biti.
The Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) revealed only US$136 million was
realised by treasury in 2012, a far cry from the US$600 million Biti
anticipated would flow into his empty coffers.
Partnership Africa Canada (PAC), a group campaigning against “blood
diamonds” accused President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF elite of conniving with
international dealers and criminals to loot diamonds in perhaps the biggest
single plunder of diamonds the world has seen since Cecil (John) Rhodes.
“Revenue that could have revived the country’s ailing economy has been
channelled into a parallel government of police, military officers and
government officials loyal to Mugabe,” wrote the PAC last year in a report
titled Reap What You Sow: Greed and Corruption in Zimbabwe’s Marange Diamond
Mines minister Obert Mpofu has led spirited denials by Zanu PF of any
wrong-doing claiming everything is transparent and above board in the
diamond sector, but even he would be hard pressed to explain the shady
nature of the relationship between his party and the diamond companies.
This follows revelations last week that Zanu PF Manicaland provincial
chairperson Mike Madiro and four colleagues allegedly solicited money from
Mbada Diamonds and Anjin, purportedly for party activities including
preparations for the party’s annual conference in Gweru last December, which
they converted to their own use.
It was only last month that Mugabe fumed at the conference in Gweru after
former South African president Thabo Mbeki told him — and provided
evidence — that senior Zanu PF ministers had demanded a US$10 million bribe
to facilitate a US$1 billion investment by African National Congress
Is it any wonder Zimbabwe has failed to attract significant foreign direct
investment despite an energetic campaign by Biti and others to court
It now seems as though even provincial party officials have taken a cue from
their seniors to embark on an orgy of self-aggrandisement.
Zanu PF may claim these were just individuals acting on their own selfish
initiative and bringing the party’s name into disrepute by allegedly
demanding and getting US$750 000 from the companies, but the entire episode
demonstrates how the country’s resources are being used to benefit one
political party. This also gives credence to fears Zanu PF is using diamonds
to fund its election war chest.
“It obviously means they have been abusing the country’s mineral resources
and there is need to investigate the broader implications of this whole saga
which may only be a tip of the ice berg,” said Habakkuk Trust chief
executive officer Dumisani Nkomo.
“After the collapse of the Zimbabwe dollar and the end of the
quasi-financial activities of the Reserve Bank which used to prop up the
party, Zanu PF is now preying on the diamond sector to fund its activities,”
Zanu PF officials, including party chairman Simon Khaya Moyo and secretary
for administration Didymus Mutasa, confirmed the fraud allegations adding
the accused were under investigation by the party’s disciplinary committee.
However, the five are not being investigated for extorting money for party
activities, but merely for converting the money to their own use. Clearly
Zanu PF can demand money from companies to fund its activities, something
the MDCs and any other party could never do without attracting a backlash.
In fact sources within Zanu PF say Mbada Diamonds made cash donations to the
party as it prepared for the annual conference in Gweru last month.
Pedzisayi Ruhanya of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute questioned how a
political party could extort money from companies in that manner, adding
that the issue pointed to a “corrupt patron-client relationship between Zanu
PF and these companies”.
Corruption involving senior Zanu PF politicians is nothing new, but they
have almost always walked away scot-free.
Zanu PF officials and those linked to the then ruling party looted a VIP
housing scheme in 1995 but nobody has ever been held to account, while civil
servants who contributed the money remain homeless to this day.
Security chiefs and senior party officials, including former war veterans’
leader (the late) Chenjerai Hunzvi, were let off the hook after fraudulently
claiming massive disability pay-outs from the War Victims’ Compensation Fund
set up in 1997 to help those who were injured during the liberation
“If small people like those provincial officials can abuse such large sums
of money what does it tell us about situations involving senior Zanu PF
officials and the security apparatus for instance?” Ruhanya asked.
When the abuse of the funds came to light last year, police deputy
Commissioner-General Levi Sibanda, who was acting commissioner-general at
the time, wrote to then acting President Joice Mujuru a two-lined letter —
with the police report attached –— seeking advice on what action to take
since the issue involved party bigwigs.
Mujuru wrote to Khaya Moyo telling him to take action. This points to an
unholy alliance between the police and Zanu PF, in which the police seek
guidance on criminal matters from Zanu PF when cases involve party
activists. It also raises questions as to how many other cases involving
Zanu PF officials have been swept under the carpet.
“The most tragic dimension in all this is that Zanu PF’s predatory behaviour
is being abetted by pivotal state officials,” said Jabusile Shumba of the
Institute for a Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe.
“Regrettably, there is a collective structure of power which surrounds and
even controls the police and judiciary,” said Shumba.
As the fraud saga involving Zanu PF officials unfolds, the failure of law
enforcement agents in dealing with corruption where it concerns the party is
yet again a talking point. With crucial elections expected later this year,
the police’s readiness to deal with electoral offences involving Zanu PF
officials comes under scrutiny.
January 25, 2013 in News
DESPITE the indigenisation programme being widely trumpeted by Zanu PF as
the key to economically empowering Zimbabwe’s majority, indigenous suppliers
are the biggest culprits in ripping off government by inflating tenders for
government hospitals, an official investigation has revealed.
According to a 151-page report titled Investigations Report on the
Procurement Processes by Government Hospitals under the Targeted Approach by
the National Economic Conduct Inspectorate (NECI), indigenous business
people are burdening the national fiscus by charging inflated prices, with
some overcharging by more than 100%.
“On prices, the government is being ripped off by suppliers who in general
are the indigenous businessmen,” NECI said in the report. “… Some of them
are putting a mark-up of more than 100%, putting pressures on the already
overstretched financial resources of the fiscus.”
The report exposed corruption and flagrant flouting of State Procurement
Board (SBP) procedures at hospitals, noting all hospitals had in some way
violated the Procurement Act, its regulations and procedures.
This included the failure to adhere to stipulations like seeking competitive
bids, failure to advertise in the press as well as failure to send all
purchases above US$50 000 for SPB adjudication.
“… It seems hospitals were also operating in a vacuum as they seem to have
deliberately ignored purchasing procedures as stipulated by the Procurement
Act,” the report stated.
The NECI expressed concern that problems encountered would become more
pronounced with the coming on board of mission hospitals if no stringent
monitoring measures are in place.
It called for the investigation of companies to establish how they found
themselves on the “favoured” list and if their preferential treatment was
due to payment of bribes. The NECI recommended quarterly audits be carried
out on “targeted approach monies” by auditors from the Ministry of Health
and the Comptroller and Auditor-General.
It also suggested the presence of professionals on both the central buying
unit and the procurement tender committee, the blacklisting of companies
found to be overpricing commodities and preventing them from supplying any
government departments and hospitals.
Anti-Corruption Commission chairperson Denford Chirindo refused to confirm
they had received the damning report.
“I cannot confirm or deny that we have received the report because doing so
compromises investigations if ever there are any,” Chirindo told the
Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday.
However, another source within the commission pleaded with this paper not to
publish the story saying this would alert suspects who would prepare their
“Munobhururutsa shiri (you will alert the suspects),” he said, “and in any
event, the case will be heard in the courts once we wrap up our
investigations. That is the appropriate time when you will hear everything
because the courts are open for all to attend.”
January 25, 2013 in News
Zimbabwe’s mineral production in 2012 was lower than in previous years, with
gold the only major mineral to post significant growth.
According to latest figures from the Chamber of Mines, mineral production
excluding the December figure for coal was US$1,86 billion, which was lower
than the US$2,01 billion reported in 2011.
Analysts say even if the December coal production were to be added, it would
not result in any significant change as average monthly production for the
mineral was at US$7,5 million.
Gold production in 2012 rose 18,94% to US$782,75 million from 2011 but at an
output of 14 742,99 kg fell shy of a targeted 15 000kg. The major
gold-producing mines reported record production for the year on the back of
improved investment in exploration.
However, lower platinum production weighed down the mining industry’s
overall performance. Platinum miners last year scaled down production owing
to a sharp increase in costs largely attributed to the hike in mining
licence fees and taxes which ballooned input costs against falling global
prices. The white metal’s prices were weak due to a slowdown in the
Platinum production in Zimbabwe last year was 10 524kg, a decrease of 2,79%
from 2011, and fell far short of a forecast 12 900kg. As a result, the value
fell to US$464,51 million from US$538,27 million the previous year, a
decline of 13,7%.
Economists have said the mining sector is the only sector with growth
potential and to a lesser extent, agriculture and tourism.
The Finance ministry revised upwards the growth forecast for the mining and
quarrying sector in 2012 to 16,7% from 15,9%, after increased investment in
exploration and development, particularly in the gold sector.
Mining contributes 13% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), almost
matching the 14% contributed by manufacturing. Analysts believe if key
challenges facing mining such as inadequate capital and energy supply
constraints are overcome, the sector can contribute as much as 18% to GDP by
2015 and well above 25% by 2020.
Markets analyst Tafadzwa Denya said due to short-term stresses, capacity for
overall autonomous growth of the manufacturing sector was limited and credit
was constrained for most sectors, but a large part of the mining sector
could still attract foreign direct investment.
Denya said the driving power in the mining sector was subdued as the country
was not able to take full advantage of the global boom in mining prices.
High carbon ferrochrome production amounted to 137 534 tonnes at US$156,75
million, less than the targeted 155 000 tonnes.
Total raw chrome output was 408 475 tonnes at US$48, 96 million. Most of
chrome mines are currently under care and maintenance owing to the low
prices currently prevailing in the sector and the high operating costs.
January 25, 2013 in Business
ZIMBABWE has launched its first ever online and real-time payments platform,
Zimswitch vPayments, which will enable its citizens and residents to use
their locally-issued debit cards.
Report by Clive Mphambela
Modeled around globally renowned system, PayPal, Zimswitch vPayments is a
locally-designed real-time online payments platform; a result of joint
efforts by leading internet service provider, Dandemutande, the sole
national electronic funds switch linking most of Zimbabwe’s banks through
ATMs and points of sale systems, Zimswitch and Zimbabwe’s largest building
The system, which came online this week, has been given the go ahead by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), according to its promoters uMax, a division
of Dandemutande. An online real-time payments system is one of the last
major steps taken by Zimbabwe in facilitating e-commerce.
“Cabs is the first financial institution to be certified to use vPayment,
and uMax, as the pilot project driver, is the first official merchant to
accept payments through this online payment platform.
However, the platform is available to all Zimswitch participating banks and
three more banks are scheduled to come on board soon,” uMax interim CEO
Michael Weeden said.
Zimbabweans have been unable to make online payments for purchases on
international platforms such as PayPal owing to sanctions imposed on the
country. Most international payment service providers will not process
payments on the back of Zimbabwean issued debit and credit cards.
According to Weeden, the platform will enable Zimbabweans to transfer funds
from their ordinary accounts into an online account and transact in
The Zimswitch vPayments system has been configured as a secure payments
platform, designed to capture and secure Internet-based payments between
retailers and merchants and the final customer.
Zimswitch vPayments uses One Time Passwords (OTP) which are randomly
generated code keys sent to a client’s mobile number as an SMS every time a
transaction is carried out on vPayments, providing additional security.
It took uMax more than 18 months to develop and test the system and get the
appropriate RBZ approval.
As with PayPal, Zimswitch vPayments card holders go through a registration
process after which they are then able to shop and make payments online at
any merchant certified by Zimswitch.
January 25, 2013 in Business
Zimbabwe’s trade deficit in the year to December 2012 stood at US$3,6
billion after it imported goods worth US$7,48 billion against exports of
According to figures from Zimstat, the country imported mostly fertilisers,
diesel, petroleum oils, motor cars, mobile phone handsets and wheat.
The country’s exporting base is mainly in the extractive sector, which
includes industrial diamonds, nickel mattes and semi-manufactured gold as
well as flue-cured tobacco.
Flue-cured tobacco exports amounted to US$733,9 million in 2012. The tobacco
industry Marketing Board put the figure of all tobacco exports including
burley, at US$771 million. Gold exports grossed US$624,85 million.
Imports from South Africa amounted to US$3,207 billion, followed by UK at
US$1,62 billion, while imports from China were US$354,5 million.
Exports to South Africa totalled US$2,674 billion, representing a trade
deficit of US$353 million.
Zimbabwe exported US$482 million worth of goods to the UAE and $282,89
million to Mozambique.
Mozambique has witnessed an economic boom following an increase in foreign
direct investment, particularly in the mining sector.
Companies as PPC, PG and BAT export to the country.
Overall, the decline of exports is linked to unreliable supplies and
inability to compete on price. In 1992, more than a quarter of firms were
exporters. However, according to the World Bank, less than 10% of the firms
are now exporting their output.
Generally in Zimbabwe, businesses are not deterred by lack of knowledge of
export markets or import barriers. Lack of short-term finance for exports is
limiting export-led growth for firms that could potentially compete
Finance minister Tendai Biti has tried to curb imports of goods into the
country by introducing import duty on products which are manufactured and
are available locally and scrapped the US$300 rebate on some goods which are
popular with cross-border traders and introduced duty on them.
Importers of blankets, footwear, refrigerators, stoves and other electrical
gadgets now pay 40% of the purchasing price plus a flat rate of US$5 per
unit as duty. Government is also now charging between 10% and 25% duty on
basic commodities such as maize meal, cooking oil, potato chips, baked beans
and mixed fruit jam.
January 25, 2013 in Opinion
ZIMBABWE, we are told, now has a final draft constitution that we as
citizens should either accept or reject in a referendum prior to elections
expected later this year.
Opinion by Rashweat Mukundu
The extent of how this document reflects the wishes of the people is a
matter of conjecture, save to say the referendum and adoption of the
document is one of many political rituals we have to go through with no
clarity as to their benefits for citizens of the country.
The nature of the discussions clearly indicates political interest took
centre stage from citizens’ interests.
In this regard, it is folly to expect the document to foster a process of
change that resonates far beyond the political sector to transform our lives
socially and economically.
Even as many people did not know what this constitution is about and talked
of the need for food, clinics, roads and jobs during the outreach programme,
those statements spoke to the real issues for the people.
They want a document that focuses on people rather than political issues and
people should be at the centre of the constitutional debate. When
politicians met to debate and compromise on the constitution, it is a
natural expectation they have people at heart rather than party and personal
We note, however, the new constitution has become an intense battleground
for the contrasting political interests and debate has progressively drifted
away from our understanding, participation and control.
There is no doubt there is a facade of Zanu PF having been forced to
backtrack on a number of issues the party was pressing for.
On the other hand, nothing seems to have changed much as there appears to be
no fundamental changes to policies that guide and influence national
governance and the function of key national institutions.
Our political leaders have skirted fundamental issues that include the fact
that challenges we have faced over the past decade are largely defined by
disrespect for the rule of law, dysfunctional national institutions and
With or without a new constitution it appears Zanu PF still has an upper
hand in defining our political destiny. Even as it appeared Zanu PF’s
numerous objections and suggestions to the constitution have not been fully
entertained, the party successfully took its government of national unity
(GNU) partners down a long, winding road in order to bring us back where we
have been since 1980.
That the pillars of Zanu PF control of this society have remained intact is
shameful when, as stated earlier, they are at the centre of the national
decline as a result of abuse and inefficiency.
It is extremely sad the political leadership opposed to Zanu PF had the
cheek to inform us that they compromised with Zanu PF on many constitutional
provisions in order to accommodate Zanu PF’s internal politics of
We now have the strangest language in a draft constitution, of provisions
that will be implemented after six years and others that would come into
effect after 10 years.
We are not necessarily given details of this political horse-trading, save
for an acceptance and confirmation by the MDCs that our lives are in the
hands of Zanu PF, and that we need to give Zanu PF space to deal with its
internal issues and re-organise without disturbances.
This constitution is not about the people; instead it allows President
Robert Mugabe to ease out of political life without embarrassment and do so
outside the control, will and wishes of the majority of people.
There is suddenly a strange political convergence among GNU parties even as
they appear to disagree.
We then ask: does it necessarily need a “new” constitution to negotiate
Mugabe’s exit, or the GNU could simply have negotiated that without taking
the nation down the garden path for three-and-a-half years at a cost of
nearly US$50 million. This constitution presents change without change; it
marks a false transition and reinforces the continuation of a political
culture that we have known for the past 30 years — that is the dominance of
Zanu PF and subjection of the rest to its will.
While Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai says this is a social contract and
about the people, there is little if any citizen footprint in the
constitutional document and process. The odds against the MDCs are well
documented and cannot be overemphasised; their failure is to leave so much
room for Zanu PF and Mugabe to use this important process to subvert the
process of change. By leaving citizens out of the process the MDCs have
missed a chance to reconnect with their political base that has driven
opposition to Zanu PF for over a decade.
It was and still remains genuine grievances that drive opposition to Zanu PF
and these remain unresolved today as desperation increases on a day-by-day
basis. Although it has stabilised the socio-economic environment, the unity
government has largely failed on issues such as service delivery, industrial
revival and employment creation.
Our failure as citizens has been to allow piecemeal “political change” led
by politicians to drive us nowhere.
The stakes against the people are huge. The levels of social decay,
suffering, hopelessness and pessimism are staggering, yet once again we seem
to let a chance for change slip through.
Rather than “negotiate” Zanu PF’s internal issues and insert these into the
Copac draft as constitutional issues, the MDCs should have returned to base
and consulted the people on the way forward.
Mukundu is chairperson of the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute.
January 25, 2013 in Opinion
First lady Grace Mugabe’s recent grab of about 1 600 hectares of land,
belonging to Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed agro producer Interfresh’s Mazoe
Citrus Estate is testament to the charade our rulers call the indigenisation
Column by the MuckRaker
The fact that the company is owned by black Zimbabwean shareholders did
nothing to stop the voracious expropriation scheme which in the case of the
first family has claimed the farms of former Standard Chartered Bank CEO
Washington Matsaira and High Court judge Ben Hlatshwayo, among others.
This glaring case of double standards does not stop her expounding upon the
virtues of hard work and urging women to “work hard to become independent
and reduce dependence on their husbands” even though she uses her husband’s
influence to dispossess citizens of their properties.
Zanu PF ups ante
As if these developments, for lack of a better word, were not shocking
enough, Zanu PF upped the ante with NewsDay reporting that Chivi South
legislator Irvine Dzingirai has declared himself the new owner of troubled
Renco Mine as part of his party’s indigenisation policy.
“Yes, I have taken over Renco Mine as we speak. I am the new general
manager. I am at the mine right now,” Dzingirai chimed.
“I just took over the mine. There were no talks.”
The mine’s failure to pay workers their bonuses, Dzingirai said, and the
fact that there is no money at the pension fund had compelled him to take
Bemused workers accused Dzingirai of hijacking their strike for political
“Ours was a genuine strike. It was an apolitical protest comprising workers’
wives and villagers who support either Zanu PF or MDC,” a villager said.
“But we were surprised when Dzingirai came from nowhere and said he was now
the new owner.”
Undeterred, Dzingirai vowed to stay put at the mine, saying he had the
capacity to run it because he holds a “diploma in mining and so the mine
will be as viable as it used to be”.
Still on the prowl
Not to be outdone Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere, a failed
banker in his own right, remains unflinching in his crusade against
foreign-owned banks. Despite the spectre of the ill-fated Genesis Investment
Bank hanging over him, Kasukuwere remains determined to expropriate what
remains of the banking sector.
“Zimbabweans should be their own investors. Zimbabweans should invest in
their economy,” Kasukuwere said, without a hint of irony. “This is our
country and we should benefit from all that is in it.”
Taking over private properties is what passes for investment in Zanu PF’s
Muckraker was amused to see President Mugabe waxing lyrical to Benin
President Boni Yayi about how Zimbabweans have put aside their differences
as they prepare for elections this year.
“In my country, yes we have had divisions, political divisions, but I am
glad that we all appreciate that whatever political affiliations we belong
to we are Zimbabweans.”
The president says one thing to visiting VIPs and another to his own people.
The truth is President Mugabe heads a narrow exclusivist state where
minorities are treated as second-class citizens. Over the past 10 years
white Zimbabweans have had their properties and livelihoods expropriated by
Zanu PF supporters. Anybody who seeks evidence for the malevolent partisan
state Zanu PF has spawned in our midst need do no more than read the opinion
columns of the public press.
Bulawayo, once the vibrant hub of an industrial society, has been
transformed into a wasteland as the productive inhabitants of that part of
the country have become refugees in their own homeland.
All that is needed is the harnessing of water to turn things around but the
former ruling party continue to drag their heels as if to punish voters for
making the “wrong” choice in 2008.
Indeed, Zimbabweans are accused of “voting with their stomachs” as if that
is an offence.
Singing for supper
We were pleased to hear that General Constantine Chiwenga is encouraging
members of the defence forces to plant trees to replace those cut down. He
was speaking at Kabrit Barracks in Harare.
This is welcome news. But can we refer him to the fate of the trees, planted
in the 1980s and 90s, which have been cut down in wetlands adjoining the
National Stadium to facilitate a Chinese hotel and shops development.
Curiously President Mugabe received a Forestry Commission award for
“leading” environmental conservation. In its citation, the Commission said
Mugabe had shown “visionary leadership” in different aspects of
“The president had the foresight to see that if no measures were put in
place for the country to plant more trees, then we would face a bleak
future,” the fawning citation read.
Maybe it escaped the Forestry Commission’s notice that under Mugabe’s watch
vast tracts of once very productive farmland have been reduced to wasteland
after being parcelled out to mostly high-ranking Zanu PF officials and those
closely connected to the former ruling party.
It also seems to have escaped their notice that the party’s officials and
supporters are now grabbing wildlife conservancies and relentlessly
destroying flora and fauna.
So much for Mugabe’s “visionary leadership”!
Meanwhile, Zanu PF has been mobilising its supporters to confront the new US
ambassador who has been on a meet-the-people tour of the country.
The banner and placards from the protestors were remarkably similar, we were
told, and probably the handiwork of Jongwe Printers.
The United States has been a major contributor to Zimbabwe’s survival in
recent years yet instead of gratitude the former ruling party organises a
campaign of obstruction. The majority of Zimbabweans are friends of the
United States and want the benefits of an orderly and productive society.
Zanu PF is preventing that by organising its rent-a-crowds.
Conspicuous by their absence were the police who left the thugs to run riot
and harass the ambassador and his entourage, leaving Zanu PF apparatchik
Sheila Mutsenhu who last year reportedly stormed into the Daily News’
offices and urinated in the reception area. This time Mutsenhu decided to
strip to her underwear in protest at the “illegal “sanctions imposed on her
No charges of indecent exposure were levelled against Mutsenhu for such a
disgraceful act, exposing Augustine Chihuri’s claims the police are not
partisan for the baloney they are.
Birds of a feather …
Muckraker is a fan of Marvin Meintjies’ column in the Johannesburg Sunday
Times. He was particularly entertaining this week with his account of what
13th century warrior Genghis Khan did to the wives and daughters of his
This emanates from a court case in which Julius Malema’s former friend, now
sworn enemy, Boy Mamabolo was charged with crimen injuria after he allegedly
threatened to exhume the body of Juju’s mom and lay her before Juju’s granny’s
door. Mamabolo threatened to do this because Malema “had done many bad
things to him”.
Mamabolo accused Juju of sending two of his very few still-loyal acolytes to
lie with the young Mamabolo’s girlfriend. At the time of writing, Meintjies
says, Juju had not issued a denial. That was left to his two acolytes,
Limpopo ANC Youth League secretary Jacob Lebogo and Jossie Buthanie.
Both denied sleeping with Mamabolo’s girlfriend. Lebogo said: “Malema is not
a pimp. He is the leader of our society.”
“But here’s the scary part,” Meintjies relates. “For quite some time Malema
and Mamabolo occupied senior positions in the ruling party’s youth league
and provincial government. Malema was Youth League president and Mamabolo
was chairman of the Limpopo Geographical Names Committee from which he
allegedly stole about R400 000.”
Meintjies recalls Malema’s marks at school for woodwork. They were abysmal
‘It is clear,” he says, “both men swam ashore from the shallow end of the
January 25, 2013 in Opinion
THE third US President, Thomas Jefferson, is renowned for saying: “If it
were left on me to decide whether we should have a government without
newspapers or newspapers without a government I should not hesitate a moment
to prefer the latter”.
Opinion by Nhlanhla Ngwenya
This from a man who experienced one of the worst abuses by the media which
bordered on the slanderous during his reign.
Despite a series of fabrications about his personal life by disgruntled
members of the press, never did he use his most powerful position to silence
them, but instead defended their right to exist.
Those that hate free expression will habitually parry this example on the
grounds that Zimbabwe is not the US and “we do things differently here”, or
“our democracy is still young”, and other manner of flimsy excuses.
But nearly four years after the inauguration of the coalition government
which was accompanied by promises of democratic reforms, there is still very
little to show as concrete deliverables of the reform agenda.
Save for the licensing of publications, including private newspapers, the
controversial awarding of licences to two commercial private radio stations
and the calling of applications for 14 provincial commercial radio licences,
nothing significant has been achieved when measured against the Global
Political Agreement (GPA) — precursor to the unity government — and several
pledges made at various fora.
The same infrastructure of repression steeped in dictatorial media
legislative framework and superintended over by paranoiac enemies of free
press still exists, threatening the sustainability of the very newly
While Sadc has expressed its disapproval of the authorities’ slow-paced
reforms, this has not deterred those who hate the free press from abusing
their control of law enforcement agents to selectively arrest journalists
from the private media in a bid to intimidate them into turning a blind eye
to authorities’ excesses.
With news of a breakthrough in the constitution-making process filtering
through, it is hoped there was no major tinkering with sections in the July
2012 draft document, which sought to sufficiently protect free expression
and explicitly guarantee freedom of the media and access to information.
It is only through such safeguards that the country’s media can be liberated
from debilitating state clutches as well as unwarranted abuse by those in
However, such clauses can only be meaningful if there is political will to
genuinely democratise the media space, regardless of one’s attitude towards
One of the main professional hazards of assuming public office is scrutiny
that transcends what would ordinarily be private space for an ordinary
member of the public. Those that seek public office should therefore develop
thick skins because as long as they hold such office the media will rummage
through their public and private lives.
That’s not personal; it’s precisely the role of the media!
The coalition government’s approach to the media has not demonstrated much
desire to protect media space. Neither has it displayed the requisite will
to transform the media, which creates doubts on what the future holds for
the media in the country.
For instance, except for isolated calls for media reforms by a few
individuals such as MP Settlement Chikwinya and the late deputy Agriculture
minister Seiso Moyo, none of the MDC formations have put up a spirited fight
on the matter.
Instead, they have subordinated the fight for free media space to their
quest for power. The argument has been that once they gain political power
everything will fall into place. But this is not necessarily true and
betrays lack of understanding on the indispensability of the media in the
enjoyment of all civil liberties.
History is littered with examples where those that cast themselves as
unwavering democrats while seeking political power turned out to be the
complete opposite once in office.
Without delving into a history lecture, post-colonial Zimbabwe is a perfect
Despite all promises of democratic reforms anchored on unpleasant treatment
of nationalists and liberation fighters by the colonial media, no
significant changes were made to the country’s media after Independence save
for change of hands of control. In fact, it took the country 20 years for
ZBC’s broadcasting monopoly to be struck off the country’s statutes.
Even then, it was after a citizen had taken the authorities to court on the
matter. To this day, the broadcaster is still shackled to state controls and
operates on the whims and caprices of its Zanu PF masters in government.
Resultantly, it has covered and interpreted the Zimbabwean story only from
the partisan lens of its masters while labelling those opposing them as
ideologically bankrupt and appendages of imperial forces.
In spite of all the abuse the MDC formations have suffered through the
broadcaster, they have hardly pushed for comprehensive overhaul of the
broadcaster’s governance and management structures to insulate it from
political manipulation and turn it into a genuine public broadcaster that
reflected all shades of Zimbabwean opinion. Oddly, about two years ago, the
MDCs agreed to an inexplicable formula for the appointment of the ZBC board
as a way of reforming the broadcaster.
Besides betraying their desire to equitably abuse the broadcaster, the move
underlined lack of understanding of the role of a public broadcaster and how
to protect its independence.
This is also demonstrated in the July 2012 draft constitution where the
parties actually entrenched state control of the media.
Further, following the controversial licensing of two national radio
stations there was no attempt to expose the licensing authorities’ claims
that the two frequencies were finite and the country couldn’t license any
more aspiring national broadcasters.
It is a fact that although the country only had two free national radio
frequencies, it can still expand the spectrum by simply applying to the
International Telecommunication Union for additional frequencies.
No concerted efforts have been made to ensure this is done as well as the
licensing of community radio stations.
It is not only in the broadcasting sector that the parties have demonstrated
neglect. The laws that beset the media and imposed severe restrictions to
free journalism enterprise before the formation of the coalition government
exist and continue to be used to control free media activity in the country.
After promises of media reforms following the Kariba Media Conference of
2009, at which clear recommendations were made with regards reforming the
media sector, there has been deafening silence on progress. The nearest that
Zimbabweans were informed about the matter was when President Robert Mugabe
announced that a Media Practitioners’ Bill, which was one of the Kariba
recommendations, would be part of parliament’s legislative agenda in 2011.
However, nothing happened on that score.
Isolated motions on the need to repeal media laws have also been made to no
effect. And as Chikwinya seeks to push for the replacement of the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act with a freedom of information law,
the effort may be coming too late as it is doubtful the move will succeed
given the imminence of elections and its ramifications on all efforts aimed
at democratising the space.
Clearly, our own Jefferson has been missing in the last four years of the
Ngwenya is director of Misa-Zimbabwe.
January 25, 2013 in Opinion
JANUARY 15 was the 84th anniversary of Dr Martin Luther King’s birth.
Opinion by Bruce Wharton
Giving King his full due as a leader and a catalyst for change, it is vital
that we remember many others who worked for the extraordinary
accomplishments achieved as a result of the American Civil Rights Movement.
Many — perhaps most — of the people who supported the movement did it
through churches and civic organisations, which are today popularly known as
civil society organisations (CSOs).
For 13 years King faced incredible adversity to his leadership of the
struggle for civil rights. He was arrested at least 30 times, his home was
bombed, his phones were tapped, and he was often threatened.
He and his team relied upon the support, energy and hard work of their CSO
partners in helping citizens to organise, to make their voices heard, and to
bring pressure on authorities in the long and difficult struggle for civil
rights in the United States.
Although we now agree on the value of their accomplishments, 50 or 60 years
ago some state and local governments and other entrenched powers saw CSOs as
threatening and as enemies.
Even elements of our federal government, fixated then on fighting communism,
were concerned civil rights organisations might be infiltrated by communists
bent on attacking the US.
It is now obvious King and other leaders of the struggle for racial justice
were deeply patriotic and were simply calling upon America to be true to the
ideals upon which the country was founded.
In the 1960s, much of the US witnessed a serious conflict between CSOs, such
as King’s Southern Christian Leadership Conference, and state and local
The conventional wisdom across much of America at the time was that King and
the CSOs represented danger, and elected officials such as Bull Connor and
George Wallace represented safety.
Today, we can see how wrong that conventional wisdom was. Individuals who
sought to limit the ability of CSOs to work for civil rights are not well
regarded by history, while those who endured the harassment, the abuse, and
the violence are remembered as heroes.
Some of the officials who sought to stop the work of CSOs even came to
change their views and later expressed regret for their actions. George
Wallace, the former governor of Alabama, was one of those. In 1979,
recalling his effort to prevent black students from studying at the
University of Alabama, he said: “I was wrong. Those days are over, and they
ought to be over.”
As a government official, I can testify that it is not always easy to work
with CSOs. Before coming to Zimbabwe, I met with CSOs interested in issues
such as human rights, conservation, education, health care, democracy and
business. I did not necessarily agree with all of their analyses or goals,
but it was important for me to make the time to meet with them, to hear
their points of view and to explain my own.
One of the functions of CSOs is to represent the interests of a given group
of citizens to government. A single e-mail from an American urging our
government to take action on an issue is far less powerful than one-million
e-mails to government that a CSO can organise. In this way, CSOs act as a
collective bargaining unit for citizens who share concerns about an issue.
So, while CSOs can be challenging for a government to deal with, the US
experience with CSOs during our own struggle for civil rights and justice
makes their value absolutely clear. As a government official, I have a
responsibility to be respectful of CSOs that operate within the law to
advance their membership’s interests — even if I do not agree with their
Furthermore, I have a responsibility to pay attention to their position and
to give them an opportunity to share their views with me. I see it as an
important duty of government to protect the space in which CSOs operate,
just as it is our duty to protect freedom of expression and the right to
This week, in celebrating King, the other leaders of the American Civil
Rights Movement and thousands of people who worked through civil society
organisations, it is worth repeating one of King’s most popular quotes: “We
shall overcome because the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends
Wharton became ambassador of the United States to Zimbabwe in November 2012
January 25, 2013 in Opinion
Among the many sectors of Zimbabwe’s economy that have declined
progressively over the years is agriculture which, until the millennium 12
years ago, was thriving and was the key foundation of the economy.
Opinion by Eric Bloch
Agricultural production was not only of very great substance, but was also
impressively varied, and included tobacco, maize, wheat and diverse other
grains as well as cotton, citrus, sugar, and much else.
One of the very significant elements of the country’s agriculture was
livestock, which was not only the mainstay of rural communities, but also
serviced the requirements of the urban populace and was a major contributor
to Zimbabwe’s exports (within the region, and to markets in the European
Tragically, however, all of Zimbabwean agriculture has very markedly
declined, and that includes the livestock sector. A major contributor to the
decline was the racist ousting,from the turn of the century onwards, of most
of the very experienced and highly productive established farmers.
The economic devastation triggered by that action by the State was
intensified, and maximised by the simultaneous withdrawal of all rights of
title and ownership to the lands, precluding newly-settled farmers from
access to funding necessary for the conduct of their farming operations, as
they were rendered devoid of any collateral value required to access loans.
Compounding the decimation of agriculture has, during the past decade, been
several years of very adverse climatic conditions, occasioning an
insufficiency of water resources in general, and minimised recourse to
irrigation (exacerbated by the extent that much of the country’s irrigation
infrastructure had been cannabilised and disposed of by newly-settled
farmers, and such systems as continue to exist also limited in usage in
consequence of erratic availability of energy).
Yet another major contributor to the decline in agriculture has been the
diminution in production by communal farmers, and that has resulted in very
considerable hardships and poverty for innumerable villagers residing in the
Some of the negative effects of the decline in livestock rearing has been
the consequential diminution of export operations, and the reduced
supply-driven rises in prices for domestic consumers, and the adverse
impacts upon Zimbabwe’s already considerable trade deficit. The Cold Storage
Company imports much beef and beef products from Botswana, intensifying
hardships for rural communities. With that in mind, this columnist
recognised the substance of a recent submission to him by one reader, who
“Large numbers of communal cattle are dying during the present season,
blamed upon the drought. During (that contributor’s 56 years in
Matabeleland) there were several droughts like the present one. In
commercial farming, however, livestock survived under proper veld
management. Grass eaten by cattle is shallow-rooted, and will produce
sufficient leaves with a rainfall of approximately 100 mm. This leaf matter
must be looked after to sustain livestock during both rainy and dry seasons.
The present set-up in the communal areas, on village level, is the available
land around the dwellings. The communal grazing area is shared by all. The
animals are released from their kraals after milking, into the communal
grazing areas. Some are herded by non-school going children and the elderly,
but many are not.
As a result, cattle stray into available land. To prevent this, an average
of 50 trees are cut down for fences, which fences are replaced every two to
three years. Minister Sipepa Nkomo has said seven million trees are cut
Fencing of lands probably accounts for half of that figure. The number of
animals per owner varies, ranging from 900 to 300, 50, 20,10 and for others
The big number owners employ herdsmen, but with most cattle being let out in
the morning and brought in at night. The animals go for the sweet grasses
and move on. There is no controlled grazing for them, and once the dry
season arrives there is no more grazing available, and cattle starve to
death. Survivors are in such poor condition that it takes the whole incoming
rainy season to make up for the weight loss.”
The reader, who succinctly summarised that major constraint upon the
wellbeing of millions of villagers, did not only identify a pronounced
reason for the diminution of effective livestock breeding and wellbeing in
communal centres, but also suggests ways of improving grazing in communal
lands. He suggested that:
Firstly, there should be formation of livestock associations at village
level. “Members should contribute financially for the employment of
herdsmen, being one or more, depending on the number of animals to be looked
after. One of the herdsmen should be trained to identify and treat diseases
and illnesses at an early stage, and in the use of vaccines, antibiotics and
other basic veterinary methods, as early diagnosis and treatment saves lives
and more than offsets the cost of employing the herdsmen.
Secondly, as a policy of short duration, high density grazing,should be
pursued. The aim of this is to force the animals to graze all the plants at
a given time, to give the sweet annual grasses a chance to reproduce through
The third recommended action depends upon the number of animals in the herd.
The available grazing area should be subdivided appropriately (say 50
animals per five hectares). In doing so, the condition of the grazing must
be considered. Although ideal, fencing the divisions would be too costly,
but instead painted poles can be used, at distances of, say, 50 metres, or
closer in wooded country, dependent upon the condition of the grazing land.”
The reader giving this advice recognises that this is “just a basic outline”
of the project of enhanced utilisation of grazing, and that “the main task
is to convince communities of the necessity to reverse the condition of
hope, but inadequate or ineffective maximisation of available grazing, as
presently prevails in very many areas.”
However, as simplistic and basic as these measures are, the Ministry of
Agriculture and the Council of Chiefs should vigorously promote their
implementation, although concurrently Zimbabwe must intensively develop dams
and concomitant irrigation schemes wheresoever potentially viable,
throughout the country, for the benefit of both commercial and communal
farmers. In so doing, urgent attention is needed to address the massive
over-siltation of very many dams and rivers, the refurbishment of such
irrigation systems as still exist, and the development of new dams and
irrigation facilities wheresoever possible.
Doing so will enhance both commercial and communal farming, and a partial
recovery of Zimbabwe’s decimated agricultural sector.
In the event Government restores collateral value to Zimbabwe’s rural lands,
agriculture will become a major contributor, and probably the foremost one,
to the long-awaited economic recovery so greatly needed for the wellbeing of
January 25, 2013 in Opinion
The new year has begun with what in terms of the indigenisation drive may be
termed a high note, the penning of a nearly US$1 billion dollar deal between
the government of Zimbabwe and the world’s largest platinum producer, South
Africa’s Impala Platinum (Implats) on the selling of the latter’s 51% stake
in Zimbabwe Platinum (Zimplats) to the former as part of a compliance deal.
Candid Comment with Itai Masuku
But before we put down our toast glasses, one would like to ask: who is the
real beneficiary of that deal? On the surface, we are told it is the
formerly disempowered black community of Zimbabwe.
The question is not based on any in-depth analysis or any inside
information, but on that nebulous, vexatious but oft time tested concept
called intuition by some, gut feeling by others, or merely a hunch by many.
Those who want to sound sophisticated may call it ESP (extra-sensory
Experience shows whenever you see executives of a multinational corporation
and officials of a developing nation such as our little Zimbabwe shaking
hands and both parties smiling, the representatives of the multinational
have a bigger cause to smile.
Just by way of example, in 1991 a hitherto obscure “chicken bus” operator by
the name of Enoch Msabaeka made headlines when he bought a luxury coach
service, Express Motorways, from Unifreight International. One recalls the
photo of a beaming Msabaeka shaking hands with a Unifreight representative.
Only a few years down the line, things turned awry for the later Mayor of
Mutare as the creepy crawlies of the deal began to haunt him. In short, the
Express Motorways deal became the death knell of his business empire.
More specifically with mining, cameras flashed in 1997 when Anglo American
Corporation of South Africa representatives and Zimbabwean government
officials inked a deal in which government bought a 50% stake in the
multinational’s flagship, Bindura Nickel Corporation.
Only a few years down the line, the company was teetering on the brink of
collapse, the multinational had parachuted and the government was left with
a problem baby.
Those familiar with Bindura know about its trials and tribulations. Only a
couple years ago, there was yet an opportunity for a photo call when Essar
Global and our government penned an agreement on the “rescue” of Ziscosteel.
As everyone now knows Essar did not smile; they laughed, and all the way to
the bank at that. Now to Zimplats.
The ink is yet to dry on the “landmark” deal and as per our African custom,
we are still ululating and cat whistling. As far as one remembers, Zimplats
claims used to belong to Mimosa, who sold them to Anglo American Corporation
for US$20 million, who then onsold them to Delta Gold for US$40 million, who
in turn sold a majority stake in the business to BHP after adding another
US$20 million or so.
We are told BHP later sold their lot to South Africa’s Implats for a
pittance, saying the resource was not viable. At that time the government,
through the National Indigenisation Investment Trust, was offered 10% in the
mine but failed to raise the money, US$1 million or so.
Now, just a decade down the line the mine is worth about US$2 billion? Is
this an accounting error or a miscalculation of the resource at Ngezi by
geologists? Do we have alchemists in the country or have the miracles we’ve
been hearing of lately spread to Ngezi? Some answers please.
January 25, 2013 in Opinion
ZIMBABWE’S infrastructure is now embarrassingly poor with our roads fast
deteriorating to the extent many are now virtually impassable.
Editor’s Memo with Dingilizwe Ntuli
Large swathes of our road network are full of potholes and are not only
every motorist’s nightmare, but also endanger commuters’ lives, particularly
during the current rainy season when the problem worsens.
Most of our roads are potholed and have not been adequately resurfaced since
Independence in 1980. The toll they take on our vehicles and people is
common cause. Driving on our roads is now so dangerous, unless maybe you are
part of President Robert Mugabe’s high-speed convoy which appears
unperturbed by the deteriorating roads.
Some of Harare’s roads resemble the outback with potholes now so large they
are in fact gulleys. This makes driving in the capital’s roads extremely
dangerous as drivers have to zigzag to avoid hitting the potholes, while
risking colliding with other vehicles.
Our roads are in such a poor state as a result of years of neglect, poor
planning and lack of investment.
Road maintenance has been so low on government’s priority scale in the past
three decades that most roads are well past their useful lifespan and need
And just what are the authorities doing to tackle this growing menace of
potholes on our roads? Patching them up!
Although patching up the potholes has brought some relief, that does not
improve the condition of our roads as those patches mostly do not appear to
last as much as a couple of days, especially during the current rainy
Authorities seem to focus more on improving pothole patching technology
while road foundations continue to deteriorate.
This type of response is more expensive because in the long run patching up
potholes could easily cost double as much as simply resurfacing the entire
When will the authorities realise that potholes won’t go away as long as the
size or weight of some trucks and buses is too much for some of our roads.
It is high time large vehicles that have contributed to the extensive damage
of our roads are taxed based on how much weight they carry on our roads.
Local municipalities must also curb the current free-for-all digging up of
roads wherever and whenever utility companies fancy laying their cables.
It is scandalous that such private road works are not coordinated by
councils as most companies reduce the lifespan of sections of our roads
through such activities. The authorities need to develop a longer-term
strategy of regular resurfacing and pre-emptive maintenance if ever the rot
on our roads is to be arrested.
This would go a long way in reducing road carnage and save motorists on car
January 25, 2013 in Opinion
WHAT is remarkable about the draft constitution is its failure to address
democratic norms while the country yearns for the peace and prosperity such
norms would deliver.
Zimbabwe Independent Editorial
A lot of hard work remains as Zimbabwe labours with a heavy democratic
deficit. Essentially, the whole process has been about getting the former
ruling party to agree to what anywhere else in the region would be regarded
as elementary reforms.
The country, for instance, has had to watch as the public media is abused
for the partisan interests of a discredited clique of electoral losers.
Two radio stations are all the state has conceded in virtually four years
since the formation of the unity government and they are far from
independent. In the absence of a diverse broadcasting environment and given
the state’s manipulation of vast swathes of the print media, voters face
difficulties making informed choices at the polls.
This is in direct conflict with the Grand Baie terms crafted by Sadc that
require popular participation in the electoral process. The authorities have
in some cases prevented MDC-T from holding rallies on spurious grounds while
those of the former ruling party receive automatic approval.
Similarly, the failure to repeal laws such as Posa, Aippa and the Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) Act leaves civil society vulnerable to the
depredations of a hostile state. Civic activists are unable to exercise
their right to freedom of assembly and speech.
Put simply the new constitution fails to address the fundamental issues
which led to conflict in 2008 and which the GPA was supposed to resolve.
Will the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, for example, perform its intended
role as an independent supervisory body or will it remain open to political
manipulation? What role will the Registrar-General play given his declared
attachment to Zanu PF in the past? These are fundamental issues that have
not been fully addressed.
MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai seems to have got cold feet on the issue of
Given the public statements by generals and others in the security matrix,
one would have thought reform in this sector was essential. Tsvangirai
appears to have accepted he will not get a separate head of the National
Prosecuting Authority to sit alongside the Attorney-General. At least not
for another seven years. And there has been no immediate progress on the
issue of a constitutional court which played such an important role in the
democratic transformation of South Africa.
The MDC-T has self-evidently given away too much. What happened to the GPA?
The whole purpose of the negotiations around a new constitution was to
establish the basics of a democratic society.
That doesn’t seem to have happened.
Instead, the MDC-T has nodded through burning issues on the confident
expectation they will win the next election. That can only be put down to
naivety, and a dangerous naivety at that. Tsvangirai is riding a tiger and
thinks the only answer to its rumbling stomach is to feed it.
We shall soon see the folly of that policy!