|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Copyright © 2004, Dow Jones Newswires
(AP)--Police denied permission to Zimbabwe's main
opposition party to hold a meeting Thursday evening to launch its proposals
for rebuilding the crumbling economy, citing the nation's sweeping security
Police told the Movement for Democratic Change that they weren't given
enough time to arrange security for the gathering and didn't have the
necessary manpower available, said opposition spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi.
"These are merely lies and excuses," he said Thursday. "We condemn
this clear undemocratic act."
Police didn't immediately comment on the decision.
Nyathi said the opposition notified authorities of the meeting on Jan.
23, more than the four days in advance required for political gatherings.
Police later informed the party that the application was "left in the
wrong office" and not processed, he said.
The party submitted another application on Jan. 26, but was told this
one arrived too late and ordered to cancel the meeting.
The opposition was seeking a court order to allow the meeting to go
ahead, Nyathi said.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
January 29, 2004 06:56 ET (11:56 GMT)
Zimbabwe passes bill to make farm seizures easier
January 29, 2004, 11:45 AM
Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu(PF) party has pushed controversial land law
amendments through parliament making it easier to seize white-owned farms
for blacks, the official Herald newspaper reported today.
The move, made possible by the parliamentary majority wielded by President
Robert Mugabe's party, overrides objections from a legal committee that the
changes were unconstitutional. The government says the amendments will
"consolidate the gains of land reform and remove bottlenecks in land
A major amendment in the bill, which will become law once Mugabe signs it,
is the abolition of a requirement that the initial notice of acquisition
should be served personally upon the owner of the land to be acquired.
A parliamentary legal committee whose views are normally taken on board by
the government had condemned as unconstitutional the amendment's proposal
that acquisition notices would now only be published in a government
An opposition legislator currently chairs the legal committee, and the
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) said today the bill had been
approved despite fierce objections by members of the opposition Movement for
Mugabe sole ruler since 1980
ZANU-PF holds just under two-thirds of the 150 seats in parliament, of which
30 are occupied by presidential appointees and traditional chiefs.
Government critics accuse Mugabe of plunging one of Africa's potentially
richest countries into political and economic crisis through controversial
policies, including the redistribution of hundreds of white-owned farms to
landless blacks. Thousands of peasants have benefited from the programme in
the last three years, but critics say government ministers and Zanu(PF)
officials seized the most productive farms.
Mugabe, Zimbabwe's sole ruler since the southern African country gained
independence from Britain in 1980, says land seizures aim to correct
colonial imbalances, which left 70% of the best farmland in the hands of
minority whites. The government has previously accused white farmers of
resorting to legal technicalities to slow down its compulsory acquisition of
their property under the programme.
Aid agencies say farming disruption caused by the seizures, which were
accompanied by some violent occupations of farms by so-called independence
war veterans, is partly to blame for food shortages that have left about
five million people in need of food aid over the last three years.
Mugabe (79) blames the food shortages on drought, and says Western and
domestic opponents of his land seizures have sabotaged Zimbabwe's economy,
which is struggling with its worst crisis in decades. - Reuters
New land bill slammed by CFU
JOHANNESBURG, 29 Jan 2004 (IRIN) - Zimbabwe's Commercial Farmer's Union
(CFU) has condemned a new bill that relaxes the legal processs for the
government to seize land from its remaining members.
Zimbabwe's parliament passed the amendment to the Land Acquisition Act on
Wednesday. But farmers have warned that it would seriously erode confidence
in the viability of agriculture, and negatively affect crop production.
The state news agency, Ziana, reported that the new amendment allows the
government to compulsorily acquire white-owned farms after publishing a
notice of intention to do so in the government gazette, scrapping the old
requirement that a preliminary notice of acquisition by the government
should be personally served on the landowner.
CFU president Doug Taylor-Freeme told IRIN that the new amendment "brings
more conflict, as farmers have no choice but to take things head-on now".
He said the bill would further erode confidence in the agriculture sector,
and financial institutions would be less willing to lend to farmers in need
of capital for their activities.
"There's no confidence, because there's no predictability. A farmer may be
growing crops and farming today, and then he's gone tomorrow - so there's no
confidence in agriculture as a long-term business. It will reduce production
... and farmers are unlikely to be able to access funds for farming
activities. The minister [of agriculture] has focussed on acquisition, and
not production," Taylor-Freeme said.
Zimbabwe is currently in the grip of food shortages as a result of adverse
weather, the impact of HIV/AIDS and the effects of the fast-track land
reform programme. Aid agencies forecast that some 7.5 million people will
require food aid in the coming months.
The government's fast-track programme was launched in 2000, with the stated
objective of correcting the historical imbalance in land ownership. So far,
11 million hectares have been acquired from white landowners - an estimated
90 percent of the commercial farmers - for redistribution to small-scale
subsistence farmers and black commercial farmers.
The Land Acquisition Act amendment bill now needs to be signed into law by
President Robert Mugabe. Once this happens, organised agriculture intends to
take legal steps, said Taylor-Freeme.
"One of the steps [being considered] is litigation, as many farmers believe
that the introduction of this type of statutory instrument is violating a
lot of constitutional [rights]. If you look at what the parliamentary legal
committee said [regarding the bill], it was all adverse. When the thing is
gazetted and signed, we will analyse the way it has been written up," he
The official Herald newspaper reported that "the bill generated a lot of
debate in the House, with [ruling party] ZANU-PF MPs supporting it, while
[opposition Movement for Democratic Change] MDC legislators opposed it".
"Formal Talks Should Happen Before June"
UN Integrated Regional Information Networks
January 29, 2004
Posted to the web January 29, 2004
South Africa is concerned about the political and economic crisis unfolding
in neighbouring Zimbabwe and playing an active role in defusing the
situation, a senior foreign affairs official told IRIN.
"Among the SADC [South African Development Community] countries, we are the
closest neighbour - anything that happens to Zimbabwe affects us," commented
Victor Mditshwa, who heads the Zimbabwean desk in the South African
department of foreign affairs.
Mditshwa said South African President Thabo Mbeki had urged the ruling
ZANU-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to
begin formal talks by June, which had been the purpose of Mbeki's visit to
Zimbabwe in December last year. "He [Mbeki] told both the parties that the
phase of holding talks about talks is now over, and they had to get down to
He described the South African efforts as "complementary" to last year's
SADC initiative, which tasked Mbeki and presidents Bakili Muluzi of Malawi
and Festus Mogae of Botswana with tackling the Zimbabwean crisis.
Mditshwa maintained that "informal talks" between ZANU-PF and the MDC were
ongoing. "Both parties will deny it, because they do not have their
constituency's mandate to hold talks. We have told them to do that now," he
Responding to criticism by the international community of Mbeki's "quiet
diplomacy", Mditshwa said: "Diplomacy is always quiet. Our diplomatic
efforts did manage to bring the ZANU-PF and the MDC at the same table last
year, which was unthinkable just a year ago. There was a round of talks
which produced a document, which proposed changes to the Zimbabwean
The talks, led by the Zimbabwean Minister of Justice Patrick Chinamasa, and
MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube, had managed to "produce a very good
chemistry between the two - there is not much difference in their thinking.
The stalemate, however, came about because the two parties were not able to
agree on the timeframe of a transitional arrangement."
He said the ZANU-PF insisted on the arrangement coming into effect closer to
the 2005 parliamentary elections, while the MDC wanted it a lot sooner.
"The international community does not appreciate the dynamics within
Zimbabwe, which are also influencing the pace of the talks. The succession
issue within the ZANU-PF is still not resolved. The difference in the
functioning styles of the MDC president, Morgan Tsvangirai, and Ncube are
also impacting on the internal dynamics of the party," he alleged.
Mditshwa said a bilateral commission for protecting the investments of South
Africans in Zimbabwe, and vice versa, was being processed and would be
established in the first quarter of the year.
Zimbabwean Judge 'Hounded' Out of Office
A senior judge has stepped down under pressure from Zimbabwe’s
government, the latest in a string of such resignations, lawyers said today.
Judge Michael Majuru, who was under investigation by
authorities for alleged bias against the government, fled to neighbouring
South Africa in November after receiving threats, legal colleagues said.
Majuru relinquished his position as head of the Administrative Court,
a branch of the High Court, earlier this month, the state-run Herald
newspaper reported today.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa said Majuru cited an unspecified
illness as the reason for his decision.
But associates said he was hounded from office after overruling a
state media commission and allowing the country’s only independent newspaper
to resume publishing.
Authorities ignored the ruling. When the paper, The Daily News,
brought another appeal before the court, Majuru was accused in the Herald of
boasting that he intended to rule against the government.
Majuru denied the accusation, but withdrew from the case. The
independent Lawyers for Human Rights group said the respected judge had
received threats from government and ruling party officials.
The Daily News subsequently won a protracted legal battle and
reappeared on the streets last week.
Zimbabwe has been wracked by political and economic turmoil since the
government began a program to seize white-owned farms for redistribution to
blacks in 2000.
President Robert Mugabe’s government has cracked down on dissent,
arresting opposition leaders and journalists. At least eight judges have
been forced out of office in the past three years.
Hot air over Mugabe plane-grab allegation
January 29 2004 at 01:54PM
Harare - Four journalists from a Zimbabwean
independent weekly accused of
defaming President Robert Mugabe for reporting that he "grabbed" a
commercial plane for a holiday in Asia, appeared briefly in court on
"They appeared for their remand hearing and the four of them have been
remanded until April 1," their lawyer Lynda Cook said.
The Zimbabwe Independent editor Iden Wetherell, news editor Vincent Kahiya
and reporters Dumisani Muleya and Itai Dzamara, were arrested early this
month for alleging that Mugabe had commandeered an aircraft from national
carrier Air Zimbabwe for a holiday in Asia.
No date has been set for their trial. They have been ordered to return to
court on April 1 for further remand.
The criminal defamation charges against the newsmen arose from a story run
in the Independent newspaper on January 9 saying Mugabe had taken a
wide-bodied Boeing 767 aircraft from Air Zimbabwe for his annual vacation.
There has been no official denial that the president chartered a plane for
his trip to the Far East.
Zimbabwe's media has in recent years been going through turbulence,
especially after the introduction of the tough new media law in March 2002,
shortly after Mugabe was re-elected in polls decried as fraudulent by the
opposition and many international observers.
The country's most popular daily, The Daily News - a staunch critic of
Mugabe's government - was shut down in September last year, when police
raided and occupied its premises.
Despite repeated attempts by the state to frustrate its bid to re-open
through court orders, the paper resumed publishing a week ago and has
continued putting out issues as it awaits the outcome of litigation before
the country's courts.
Human rights lawyers interpret recent developments in Zimbabwe's media
industry as attempts to gag the press.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said the arrests of the
Independent's journalists were a "deliberate and calculated attempt to
muzzle the press" and would "compromise the independence and entrenched
freedom of the press".
"ZLHR criticises in the strongest of terms such blatant disregard of the
independent press and demands that the press be left to freely perform its
core function," said the lawyers in a statement issued shortly after the
arrests of the journalists. - Sapa-AFP
Zimbabwe's Fuel Price Tumbles
January 29, 2004
Posted to the web January 29, 2004
THE price of petrol and diesel fell by an average 50% in Zimbabwe yesterday
as fuel importers took advantage of the weakening US dollar against the
Zimbabwean unit .
Values of most hard currencies have been slipping against the Zimbabwe
dollar since the central bank introduced the foreign currency auction
system, under which importers and exporters buy and sell foreign currency at
near market value rates.
Under the new auction system, the greenback is currently trading at Z3563 to
the US dollar, enabling fuel companies to import the commodity cheaply from
In Bulawayo yesterday, a litre of petrol sold for Z2700 against an average
of Z5200 in December last year.
The weaker US
dollar has resulted in a glut of fuel in the country, further
pressing prices down.
Analysts expect it to stabilise at about Z2500.
Mail and Guardian
Zimbabwean villagers turn to harvesting ginger
Stanley Karombo | Harare
29 January 2004 13:27
At dawn, Tsitsi Savanhu wakes up her teenage daughter so
that they can
prepare for the 25km journey to neighbouring Mozambique. Once there, they
will dig up as much ginger as possible before rivals descend to challenge
their claim to certain areas.
Such is the daily life for many residents of Nyamaropa village, about 270km
east of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare.
Savanhu began crossing into Mozambique illegally after drought all but
destroyed the crops she grew at home. Three months after the official start
of Zimbabwe’s rainy season, downfalls in the country have been erratic -–
leaving millions in need of food aid.
But, ginger continues to grow abundantly in the forests of Mozambique. And
despite the economic woes affecting Zimbabwe, the plant is in demand locally
for its pleasant flavour and perceived healing qualities. Many believe that
it is effective in treating constipation and minor abdominal pains.
To get to Mozambique, the Nyamaropa villagers risk their lives by crossing
the crocodile-infested Kairezi River. In addition, there have been clashes
with Mozambicans who are angered by what some view as the whole-scale
looting of ginger roots.
Maria Jane, an official based in Chimoio -– capital of the western
Mozambican province of Manica -– says, “There is a very high influx of
Zimbabweans crossing the border into Mozambique for ginger.”
“Although the tuber is found in abundance in the country and is far from
being depleted, our major concern is environmental conservation. The looters
dig for the tuber very carelessly, leaving a trail of permanent land
degradation,” she adds.
Savanhu disagrees: “It is true that our neighbours may now be very worried
about our increased presence into their country ... But, we always take
measures not to destroy the plants and the environment”.
The Governor of Manica, Soares Nhaca, has also expressed concern about the
number of Zimbabweans entering Mozambique illegally.
But, another Nyamaropa villager, Memory Kupe, says it simply wouldn’t be
possible for her to give up harvesting and selling ginger. The plant has
served as her economic lifeline for the past four years, since she lost her
job on a farm.
“I’m getting money for the upkeep of my family from selling the ginger
tuber. On good months I can earn as much as 100 000 dollars ($125). Although
the money is not enough, it assists (us) to survive.
When the villagers return home, they sell the ginger locally or at wholesale
price to vendors from Harare and the southern city of Bulawayo.
A 20kg bucket of ginger can fetch up to $10 (about 8 000 Zimbabwean
dollars) -– and baskets packed with the roots are a common sight on buses
which ply the road between Harare and the eastern border city of Mutare.
However, a specialist in traditional medicines -– Richard Ngwenya -– says
people who use ginger may have been misled about its healing properties, the
other benefits of the plant notwithstanding.
“There is so far no evidence of the tuber treating any ailments while in its
raw form, although the majority of our people eat it like that,” he said.
“Ginger, like any other unprocessed herbs, should be taken with maximum
caution to avoid overdoses that could result in serious consequences.” - IPS
From The Daily News, 29 January
Court to rule on Ben-Menashe document
The prosecution and defence attorneys in the treason trial of Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, agreed yesterday to the
admission as evidence of a document which contradicted the evidence of
principal State witness Ari Ben-Menashe, according to the defence. But High
Court judge president Justice Paddington Garwe said he would make a ruling
on whether or not to accept the document when the court resumes on or
shortly before 11 February, after a two-week adjournment. The court
adjourned after Tsvangirai was discharged from the witness’ stand. According
to South African advocate George Bizos, the document "contradicts the
evidence of Mr Ben-Menashe when he said murder was called for in the first,
second and third meetings with Mr Tsvangirai". Bizos said in the document,
Menashe said he only became aware of the role he was going to play (in the
alleged plot) after receiving his payment after all the meetings had been
convened. The document is part of a lawsuit in Canada in which the MDC is
seeking to recover money it paid Ben-Menashe and his firm Dickens and Madson
for consultancy work the firm had undertaken to do on behalf of the MDC.
The prosecution took Tsvangirai to task over his
reference to the
elimination of President Robert Mugabe during at meeting at Dickens and
Madson’s head office in Montreal, Canada. The opposition leader defended the
use of the word "elimination" saying he did not have a sinister motive but
was referring to a deal in which Dickens and Madson would source an exit
package for Mugabe so that he would not seek re-election in the 2002
presidential poll. Tsvangirai said he tried to phone Ben-Menashe when he
heard that Australian journalist Mark Davies was going to broadcast the
secretly-recorded video of the Montreal meeting but Ben-Menashe switched off
his telephone. He said, however, he did not sue for defamation and
misrepresentation after the video was aired on an Australian television
station. The video cassette forms the basis of the treason charges preferred
against Tsvangirai by the State.
England delays Zimbabwe decision
Thu 29 January, 2004 17:13
LONDON (Reuters) - England's cricket board (ECB) has
delayed a decision on
whether to tour Zimbabwe until after a meeting with the sport's ruling body
Earlier this month the ECB said it would decide on the tour in February but,
at a meeting on Thursday, the ECB agreed first to meet the International
Cricket Council (ICC) on March 9-10.
The Commonwealth of Britain and its former colonies and protectorates
suspended Zimbabwe in 2002, saying President Robert Mugabe had rigged his
re-election and harassed opponents.
England, who are scheduled to tour Zimbabwe in October, pulled out of a
World Cup match in Harare last year because of security concerns.
At Thursday's meeting the ECB's management board reviewed the "many
concerns" about the tour including those expressed by the British
The ICC had asked the ECB to share these concerns with its executive board
in March before making a final decision, the ECB said.
"It (ECB) decided to respond positively to this request in the hope that it
offers an opportunity to explore with all interested parties, all of the
prevailing circumstances surrounding the planned tour, in order to establish
whether they constitute an exceptional case," an ECB statement said.
The ICC says all test playing countries have a binding commitment that
political considerations should not be a factor "when reviewing playing
At its meeting on Thursday the ECB heard from Des Wilson, chairman of its
corporate affairs committee. The Times newspaper reported last week that
Wilson said humanitarian issues should play a part in the final decision
whether to tour.
The government of Labour Prime Minister Tony Blair has said the ECB must
make the tour decision but it would give them an objective assessment of the
political and security situation.
Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, in a letter to the ECB last week, said it was
the government's view "that the overall situation in Zimbabwe is worse today
than it was during the cricket World Cup last year".
Australia's Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said on Wednesday his
government opposed the Australian team touring Zimbabwe in May, but the
final decision had to be made by the country's cricket authorities.
Zimbabwe: Cholera Resurfaces in Binga
UN Integrated Regional
January 29, 2004
Posted to the web January 29, 2004
A fresh cholera outbreak in Zimbabwe's southern Binga district in
Matabeleland North has claimed the lives of four people and hospitalised 16
The Acting Environmental Health Officer for Matabeleland North province,
Notion Gombe, said the outbreak was detected after the death of a man who
had visited his relatives near the boundary between Binga and Kariba
districts in Mashonaland West province.
He said the new flare-up could have resulted from the cross-boundary
movement of people between Binga and Kariba, where the ministry of health
has been battling the illness since late December 2003.
Gombe attributed the reappearance of cholera to the absence of disease
surveillance mechanisms, which he said should have been put in place soon
after the successful fight against the last outbreak. In November last year
a rash of cases claimed 17 lives in the same area.
"While we now have sufficient mechanisms to curb the further spread of the
disease, there is a need to point out that this recurrence is because we did
not design a surveillance programme after controlling the previous
outbreak," Gombe told IRIN.
He confirmed that health officials had been redeployed to the district, and
the ministry had sufficient anti-cholera fluids to control the spread of the
The government and NGOs are expected to intensify public awareness and
education programmes in the local Tonga language.
Zimbabwe's Health Minister, David Parirenyatwa, and Amos Midzi, the director
of disease prevention and control, could not be reached.
Nyarota spills the beans
AM (GMT +2)
FOUNDING Daily News Editor-in-Chief, Geoffrey Nyarota, who had an
ingloriously abrupt departure from the paper, has added an extra twist to
the ongoing saga at the tabloid by making curious and startling revelations
about failed plans to enlist the paper in a politically-motivated plot to
oust President Robert Mugabe.
Nyarota, who claimed that the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) is riven by splits along tribal lines in its various London
branches, said that both ZANU PF and the opposition MDC were involved in the
His disclosure about a palace coup, which could ignite a political
backlash, comes at a particularly irksome moment for The Daily News which
has been engaged in protracted legal battles to continue publishing without
interference from the authorities after the Supreme Court ruled last year
that it was operating outside the law because it is not registered.
The suspected plot came to light after Nyarota wrote a letter to MDC
secretary general Welshman Ncube and copied it to the opposition party’s
national spokesman, Paul Themba Nyathi, indicating the pair was involved in
clandestine manoe-uvres with ZANU PF to oust President Mugabe and Tsvangirai
using The Daily News to sway public opinion in favour of the move.
Nyarota, the well-known self-publicist with a streak of self-reliance
that runs through him and who is now in self-imposed exile in the United
States of America, said that he apprised his counterparts, deputy editor
Davison Maruziva and assistant editor Bill Saidi about the clandestine
Maruziva yesterday confirmed this, adding that the three of them had
decided to proceed with caution following overtures by the group.
In his letter, written on January 9 2004, Nyarota alleged that the
chief negotiator and emissary to The Daily News in the new initiative to
find a lasting solution to the current political crisis and bring about a
new political dispensation was retired Colonel Lionel Dyck, who he met
several times since the last quarter of 2001.
This was the time when both the media and the public indulged in an
orgy of speculation about President Mugabe’s political future. It was widely
believed that President Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence in
1980, was seeing out his last term in office just before the 2002
presidential election despite the fact that he had kept his exit plans a
closely-guarded secret and instead intimated to a distant departure date.
Dyck, who was expected back in the country yesterday, trained soldiers
in Six Brigade to fight against Renamo bandits in neighbouring Mozambi-que.
He is now a businessman and owns a landmine disposal company — Mine Tech
(Pvt) Ltd — whose services have been engaged in Kosovo, Angola and the
In his letter to Ncube and Nyathi, Nyarota implicated a key ZANU PF
member viewed as the rising star in the political firmament. It has been
suggested but not denied that the key member is President Mugabe’s favourite
to succeed the incumbent. His accomplice, also identified by name, is a
retired senior army general who was the first commander of Zimbabwe’s
unified forces. Nyarota claimed that the two sent Dyck to engage him
(Nyarota) and the opposition MDC in the new initiative.
"At the end of October 2001, Lt-Col Dyck, a former top ranking officer
in the Rhodesian army, invited me through a third party to a meeting,
described by the third party as urgent and in the national interest,"
Nyarota alleged. "I had never before met the colonel . . . well connected in
the ruling elite. We set up an appointment on November 4 2002. Col Dyck said
he was speaking to me in confidence and disclosed that he was acting on
behalf of his principals, two senior officials of the ruling ZANU PF party."
Nyarota claimed that Dyck "had been commissioned to act as an emissary
in the new political initiative that, according to him, could result in the
achievement of unity between the ruling party and the major opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)."
"Col Dyck said he had been assigned by his principals to approach me
in my capacity as editor-in-chief of The Daily News," Nyarota said. "He said
his principals regarded The Daily News as the most influential newspaper in
Zimbabwe. For the new initiative to succeed, they deemed it necessary to
secure, at an early stage, the support and blessings of the newspaper."
Nyarota claimed that Dyck said his principals had assigned him instead
of approaching The Daily News directly because there was a perception within
the ZANU PF leadership that there was a strong relationship between the
newspaper and members of the Zimbabwe’s white community.
"This, partly could be the reason why he had been selected for the
task. Apart from that, he had successfully handled other sensitive
assignments for his principals," Nyarota said.
"It had become apparent to his principals and other ZANU PF officials
that President Mugabe had become a liability to national development and
that for Zimbabwe’s prevailing political and economic crisis to be resolved
he had to be persuaded to retire effectively from politics and to step down
. . . As part of this strategy, the president of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai,
would be sidelined simultaneously," Nyarota said.
Nyarota further claimed that Dyck said the two ZANU PF officials
proffered two reasons for sidelining Tsvangirai in the new dispensation —
firstly, that they perceived him as lacking the political clout necessary
for him to gain credibility and acceptance among the armed forces who openly
showed hostility against him.
Secondly, that President Mugabe would refuse to step down if it became
apparent that Tsvangirai, whom he regards as a traitor being used by Britain
and the west, was likely to succeed him.
In view of these alleged "serious handicaps" on the part of
Tsvangirai, Nyarota said, a decision had been taken that he would not be a
key player in the proposed strategy to replace President Mugabe. A new
leader would therefore emerge, at least in the interim, from within the
ranks of the ruling party. He did not identify the individual concerned but
this could have been a veiled reference to the senior ZANU PF member widely
seen as the heir apparent.
"Was Dyck in a position to say who in the absence of Tsvangirai would
spearhead negotiations on behalf on the MDC," he added. "The colonel did not
hesitate. It was you as the party’s secretary general and the secretary for
publicity and information Nyathi," he said adding, "I asked if you had
already been approached. Not only had you been approached, but you had also
shown yourselves not to be adverse to the proposal."
"For this proposal to succeed, it was deemed to be absolutely
necessary to secure the support of The Daily News …While my response was
obviously not expected that day, it would be appreciated if I gave this
matter my very urgent attention. Speed was of the essence if the initiative
was to be implemented before details were leaked out," Nyarota said.
He then alleged that he questioned Dyck whether President Mugabe and
other senior ZANU PF bigwigs such as former Cabinet Minister Nathan
Shamuyarira and Defence Minister Sidney Sekeramayi, whom Nyarota presumed to
be close to President Mugabe, were aware of the plot, to which Dyck said the
President had not yet been consulted and that the strategy was to prepare
the ground work first and only inform him when success was guaranteed. He
however said that the plan had the support of many of the top leadership of
Z ANU PF.
Up until then Nyarota claimed, Dyck had not identified his principals
and "I could not give Col Dyck a definite or immediate response when the
identity of his principals remained shrouded in secrecy". He said this
immediately raised eyebrows and he told Dyck that he was not going to
co-operate if he did not disclose the identity of his principals to which he
did at a later date.
"Red lights were already flashing in my mind on account of this new
initiative’s apparent lack of transparency," Nyarota said.
"His principals, for purposes of progress, agreed to be identified. He
then revealed to me that the ZANU PF officials who had assigned him were …"
said Nyarota who identified the key ZANU PF member and the retired army
general as the driving force behind the initiative.
The negotiations with Dyck however came unstuck, Nyarota said, after
The Daily News published a story based on the United Nations report on the
plunder of the mineral resources in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
(DRC). The story, which was published in December 2002, implicated the key
ZANU PF official and the retired army official, who were both behind the
political initiative of which The Daily News was supposed to be part to. The
story was sourced mainly from a Spanish newspaper called El Pais.
"That story effectively killed the prospect of nay
communication with Col Dyck on the issue of the new initiative of his ZANU
PF principals," Nyarota said.
Both Ncube and Nyathi confirmed receiving Nyarota’s allegations but
dismissed them as false and fictitious.
Contacted for comment, Ncube said: The e-mail was forwarded to me. I
responded. Nyarota suffers from the illusion that myself and Nyathi are
allies with Sam Nkomo who fired him from The Daily News and is now embarking
on writing fiction."
"I received the letter and I gave him a short response," Nyathi said.
"In 2004, we are faced with over 7 million people that require food aid.
Repressive laws still exist and I am not going to dignify Nyarota’s
allegations with answers. I am totally uninterested in engaging in such
The retired army general said he did not want to get involved. "I am
not in politics. I am not in the government. Leave me out [end of item on
Gono taken to task
1/29/2004 7:40:04 AM (GMT +2)
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Dr Gideon Gono, who has set
out to clean the country’s banking system, was last week reportedly taken to
task at the ZANU PF parliamentary caucus where the ruling party’s chairman
for Mashonaland East Province, Ray Kaukonde, is said to have challenged the
central bank boss to declare his business interests.
Kaukonde, a respected businessman-cum politician, took the caucus by
surprise on Wednesday last week when he openly asked the astute banker, who
last year took up the high pressure RBZ job which comes with a precarious
tenure, to make his business interests public.
They said the RBZ governor told the caucus that the laws of the land
required him to disclose his interests to President Mugabe and the Minister
of Finance and Economic Development, Herbert Murerwa. He however, disclosed
to the caucus that he operates a ranch, a flower project and farm.
Impeccable sources who attended the ruling party’s parliamentary
caucus told The Financial Gazette this week that questions over Gono’s
business interests had been burning in the minds of most ZANU PF bigwigs,
most of whom are known to have pushed the envelope too far as they fed on
the deeply rooted political patronage system that thrives in Zimbabwe and
might therefore not escape the crusade against corruption.
A number of Zimbabwe’s celebrated entrepreneurs have been implicated
in white-collar crimes unearthed following the implementation of the central
bank’s new monetary policy. Some of the executives caught in the net are
claiming victimisation, while others have scurried for protection from ZANU
The crackdown has resulted in the closure of ENG Capital Asset
Management and its subsidiary, Century Discount House.
Several prominent businessmen have been arrested in the crackdown,
including ZANU PF chairman for Mashonaland West, Philip Chiyangwa.
Gono, who has been straightening up errant banks since taking over the
hot seat, declared at the caucus that his maiden monetary policy statement
would be implemented without fear or favour.
Kaukonde, the Member of Parliament of Mudzi, ducked questions asked by
The Financial Gazette when contacted this week.
"According to protocol, you must ask our leader of the house, Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa. He was in charge of the proceedings," he said.
Chinamasa, who could neither deny nor confirm part of the proceedings
relating to Kaukonde and Gono, threatened disciplinary measures against
"those leaking confidential information to the media," when contacted for
comment this week.
"What we discuss in caucus is confidential," said Chinamasa.
"That information is privy to us and we are going to take disciplinary
measures against those leaking confidential information to the press."
The new RBZ boss emerged from humble beginnings to land the top post
in the financial services sector, where he has made a where he has made an
immediate impact within his first few days.
Gono worked at the Zimbabwe Development Bank before being seconded to
the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe, which was exhibiting classic warning signs
of collapse weighed down by a below-prudential-levels capital base,
perennial losses and bad run on deposits among others. He turned it around
to one of the leading banks commercial in the country.
There were reports recently that daggers have been drawn against Gono
because of the "pain" caused by his monetary policy. It is alleged that the
central bank governor has received threats from anonymous people not happy
with his crackdown on errant banks and corruption.
ZANU PF fails to pay workers’ salaries
1/29/2004 7:42:00 AM (GMT +2)
THE ruling ZANU PF has failed to pay salaries for its 500 employees on
time, raising fears that the party may have overspent at the annual people’s
conference held in Masvingo last month.
The party’s secretary for finance, David Karimanzira, admitted
yesterday that ZANU PF had not paid salaries for this month, but was quick
to dismiss reports that the party, which has ruled Zimbabwe since
independence from Britain in 1980, was broke.
Karimanzira said the "delay" had been caused by the adjustment in
salaries but could not say when the workers would finally be paid.
"We do not have any problems. Our financial position is sound and the
delay in payment has been caused by the revision of salaries, which is being
carried out and has to be approved," he said.
Sources told The Financial Gazette this week that the party, which
held a lavish conference in Masvingo last December, had bled its coffers dry
and was failing to pay workers stationed within the country’s 10 provinces.
Some of the disgruntled workers told this paper that their pay day was
the 22nd of every month, but they were surprised when they got to the banks
to find that salaries had not been deposited in their respective accounts.
About 3 000 delegates from around the country attended ZANU PF’s
mouth-watering feast, which insiders said milked the party of more than $1.4
Of the money spend at the people’s conference, $1 billion was raised
from Harare-based indigenous business people and farmers with the balance
coming from the respective provinces.
All hotels and lodges in and out of Masvingo town reported a boom in
business from the patronage of ZANU PF officials, intelligence officers as
well as police and army personnel who attended the conference.
The party is also understood to have spent a fortune on party regalia
used at the conference.
Reprieve for pension funds?
1/29/2004 7:42:34 AM (GMT +2)
PENSION funds are likely to get a major reprieve as it emerged that
their mother body would meet government representatives next week to
finalise the downward revision of the prescribed asset ratio from the
current 45 percent.
The Zimbabwe Association of Pension Funds (ZAPF) has been lobbying for
a reduction in the prescribed asset ratio since last year. The prescribed
ratio makes it mandatory for pension funds to have 45 percent of their
investments in prescribed assets.
The reduction will cushion pensioners from negative interest rates by
ensuring that they get a fair share of their hard-earned income.
ZAPF chairman, Richard Muirimi, told The Financial Gazette that
negotiations with the Registrar of Pensions had been stalled because of the
developments in the financial sector since the beginning of the year.
"We have been sidetracked by events in the financial sector, but at
the moment we have been trying to get some information from our members and
we hope to complete the process this Friday. We will then finalise the
matter with government next week," Muirimi said.
The association had indicated last year that it would have made a
concrete stance on the issue at the beginning of the year.
The Director of Pensions has been running advertisements in the press
informing clients to look forward to changes prior to the negotiations.
The pension industry commands more than 65 percent of government and
quasi-government instruments, and owns more than 85 percent of prime
buildings in the country.
Analysts said the hyperinflationary environment has resulted in a
marked decline in membership to pension funds and loss of accumulated member
reserves on fund accounts despite government increasing the allowable
tax-free pension with effect from next year.
Growth on the equity and property markets has managed to beat
inflation, but the high returns have been diluted by low interests rates on
the money market, particularly investments on prescribed assets.
ZAPF is also lobbying government to allow pensioners to invest
offshore and exclude the National Social Security Authority as a separate
Zim’s sick bear brunt of bitter money dispute
1/29/2004 7:45:50 AM (GMT +2)
ZIMBABWE’S sick are feeling the full wrath of a bitter dispute pitting
medical aid societies and private doctors, who have been failing to agree on
fee increases in a country where nearly 2 000 people are dying of
HIV/AIDS-related illnesses each week. Life has become unbearable for the
unwell; caught up in a fresh debacle to confront the collapsing health
delivery system, which is still digesting the full effects of a recent
countrywide strike by doctors and nurses.
Private doctors, irked by delays in getting their claims, dropped a
bombshell this month by announcing a massive 400 percent jump in
consultation fees. Another review would be coming in April 2004.
They also put a stop to the traditional use of medical aid cards,
which has been running for the past decades, insisting they now want cash
The National Association of Medical Aid Societies (NAMAS), which
represents medical aid societies, said it cannot afford the new fees and
wants the private doctors to slash the increases by almost half.
Before the wrangling, a valid medical aid card would guarantee the
service of a private doctor, but not anymore. A member on medical aid is now
enduring the trouble of paying monthly subscriptions that take up at least a
tenth of one’s income and at the same time pay through the nose for
accessing health services.
Without cash, a number of subscribing members are left to die at home.
It is also taking at least two months for those who can afford to pay cash
upfront to get their refunds and by the time the medical aid societies make
good, the money would have lost half its value due to inflation.
Health officials and the consumer watchdog, the Consumer Council of
Zimbabwe (CCZ), have been reduced to ordinary spectators as the dispute
between the societies and the doctors reaches a climax.
Analysts said CCZ and the Health Ministry were merely making up the
numbers at stormy meetings held by the feuding parties instead of taking a
firm stand and ensure the plight of the patient is attended to.
CCZ chairman Philip Bvumbe said while the consumer watchdog is
participating in ongoing efforts to resolve the dispute between the private
doctors and the societies, its hands were tied.
"What can we do if the person is saying he doesn’t want medical aid
cards anymore and is insisting on cash payment?" he said.
Bvumbe suspected that medical aid societies could be bankrupt if their
failure to clear outstanding arrears is anything to go by.
"Why can’t they (societies) employ efficient systems rather than
prejudice subscribers? If they are outstanding claims, why can’t they be
paid?" queried the CCZ boss.
NAMAS, which is facing a crisis of keeping its members united over the
issue, insists that the demands by the private doctors were unreasonable,
particularly the hike in consultation fees.
The association also points to unethical practices where some members
lend their medical aid cards to their families or friends while some doctors
submit fraudulent claims for payment.
This has all contributed to a serious cash flow squeeze among the
societies whose respite can only come through regular adjustments in the
level of subscriptions.
Analysts warned this week that medical aid societies had lost their
relevance and could close shop if the negotiations collapse, sentiments
shared by the main labour body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.
Medical insurance is not compulsory in Zimbabwe. Membership is open to
most people with a regular job as well as their families.
It is, however, feared that younger and healthier members of the
societies who subsidise the older, sicker members may quit the schemes if
they are convinced that they are paying more than they are benefiting.
It would be difficult, under the circumstances, for the societies to
survive since the older generation costs them more money to serve.
The private doctors represented by the Zimbabwe Medical Association
(ZIMA) are talking tough, accusing the societies of taking at least six
months to honour their claims.
It has been difficult for the doctors to function without timely
payments because they also need to pay salaries, rentals, electricity and
In any case, most service providers and suppliers in Zimbabwe have cut
their payment period to 15 days in a bid to lessen the impact of inflation.
"It is, unfortunately, a dog eat dog kind of situation because, yes
the patient wants treatment, but we must also remember that the doctor, like
anybody else, needs to eat and money to keep the practice going on," Dr
Ishmael Moyo, a child specialist, was recently quoted as saying.
Doctors would want payment within a week after submitting claims, but
the societies said they could only manage to do it after 30 days.
ZIMA secretary-general Paul Chimedza said members of the association
were owed millions of dollars yet executives with medical aid societies were
"Some of the executives are driving the latest Mercedes Benz vehicles
and getting salaries of up to $25 million and yet they cannot pay doctors
for services rendered . . . that is obscene," he said.
The private doctors have accused some medical aid societies of
converting contributions to their own use and diverting them to fund
speculative deals, resulting in large sums of money being tied up and none
left to pay the doctors.
Responding to pressure from the private doctors interested in full
scale investigations into the activities of the societies, Health and Child
Welfare Minister David Parirenyatwa said while there was nothing wrong with
an inquiry, his major concern at the moment was to get the two parties to
agree on the payment mode.
Parirenyatwa said: "Those who want an inquiry should send me their
suggestions in writing."
The dispute between the medical aid societies and the private doctors
has also raised searching questions about the viability of the industry. It
is now frequently asked whether the societies have enough reserves to fight
emergencies such as an outbreak of epidemics.
But there is also a catch to the pressure being piled up by the
doctors for the government may also choose to add more life in its clinics
by recruiting more nurses and training nurse aides so that people can only
visit private doctors as a last resort.
But this may not be done quickly in view of the massive brain drain of
health professionals and the shortage of foreign currency to import drugs
and hospital equipment.
Private doctors have for some time now provided an important
alternative to the country’s public health system, which has all but
collapsed due to a crippling foreign currency crisis.
Following the strike by junior doctors in October last year, the
government had to rope in retired health personnel, some in their 70s, to
shore up the health services. The retirement age for medical personnel is
About half of the country’s 20 000 registered nurses and 2 000 doctors
have left the country due to low salaries, poor working conditions and the
This means there is one nurse for every 600 people and one doctor for
every 12 000 people.
President Robert Mugabe has accused Britain of "stealing" doctors and
nurses from Zimbabwe.
"Britain comes in the dead of night to steal our people," he said
recently. "They are recruiting pharmacists, doctors and nurses."
Change talks agenda, parties told
1/29/2004 7:46:32 AM (GMT +2)
THE long-stalled talks between ZANU PF and the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) to end the crisis in Zimbabwe can only yield tangible results
if the two parties concentrate more on issues that can improve the lives of
ordinary citizens than on their personal differences, political analyst said
High on the agenda of the talks — if ever they take place — should be
how to put a quick end to the economic crisis, instead of using the plight
of the people as a platform for a tug-of-war for power between the two
But with ZANU PF now pinning all its hopes on the crusade against
corruption by its faithful as the panacea to the mounting economic problems,
chances for the resumption of talks are increasingly becoming slim.
The ruling party is likely to stretch what has come to be known as
"the talks about talks," until the 2005 Parliamentary elections.
In the meantime, the cost of living for the average Zimbabwe could get
even worse despite the rosy picture being painted by the government.
"Genuine talks must be centred on issues that affect the day-to-day
lives of the people, not on issues that seek to enhance the fortunes of
individuals and political parties," said David Chimhini, the director of
Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust. "What is needed are talks that will improve
the lives of Zimbabweans."
After most people had given up hope that talks between ZANU PF and MDC
were ever going to take place, South African President Thabo Mbeki and his
Nigerian counterpart, Olusegun Obasanjo, last week announced that the two
parties were about to start "formal talks".
Both ZANU PF and the MDC have since professed ignorance about these
talks, further compounding the confusion that has surrounded these
Mbeki and Obasanjo, both of whom have in the past tried to broker a
deal between President Robert Mugabe and the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai, did
not say what the agenda of the talks would be or if there were any
Talks between the two parties have failed to take off since mid-2002
mainly because of the intransigent positions taken by the two sides when it
comes to making compromises.
Chief among them was the demand by the MDC that the talks should lead
to a re-run of the disputed March 2002 presidential election and ZANU PF’s
demand that the opposition should first accept President Mugabe as a
Analysts said even now, the talks cannot start and progress well if
both sides would want to use them more as a platform to score political
points than to address issues affecting Zimbabweans, as has been the case
They said both sides would want to emerge from any dialogue much
stronger than before and that is why they are both hesitant to get the
University of Zimbabwe lecturer, Heneri Dzinotyiwei, said it would be
irresponsible for two parties to prefer spending their time discussing their
political differences when ordinary citizens are languishing in economic
"If they are serious (about solving the crisis) they should prioritise
discussion on economic problems," said Dzinotyiwei, who is also the chairman
of the Zimbabwe Integrated Programme.
"The parties don’t necessarily have to focus on areas where the gap
between them is very wide, like their political differences."
If the talks were centred on the political differences, the two sides
could haggle on for a long time without achieving any concrete results,
hence the need to first discuss how to get the economy back on its feet
Dzinotyiwei said the talks should be the first step to get the two
political sides from engaging in "primitive politics" whereby even where
some common ground exist, they still cannot work together for the good of
However, Eldred Masunungure, a University of Zimbabwe political
science lecturer, said the only way the talks could bring solutions to the
country’s crisis was to bring about a coalition government.
"For the talks to have tangible results, the minimum they should
achieve is some form of coalition government of some sort," Masunungure
said, insisting that most of the country’s problems were closely linked to
the political crisis in the country.
He said the biggest problem that the talks are facing is that ZANU PF,
as the party in power, is not at all interested in talking to the
opposition, but can not say it, preferring a situation where it will keep
everyone guessing on its actual position.
Who’s fooling who?
7:48:04 AM (GMT +2)
It goes without saying that for a couple of years now, Zimbabweans
have lived in the grey twilight that knows only disillusionment,
frustration, gloom and doom.
But it is 2003 that has been an annus horribilis for the country’s
sanction-strapped and long suffering people, some of whom are physically or
psychologically scarred for life after a rash of brutal,
politically-motivated murders in the run-up to the deeply divisive 2002
But even as this deep well of disenchantment cratered in 2003,
Zimbabweans, who after seeing their country reduced to a basket case from a
one-time regional bread-basket and are still stalked by hunger, remained
hopeful that the new year would usher in renewed optimism. True, there still
is rising unemployment as companies trim fat from their employment rolls in
the face of economic uncertainty — the main damper on business survival and
expansion. But there was a flicker of hope that the situation might improve.
All these negatives are not difficult to pass off as partly a function
of the current political crisis obtaining in the country. This is why
sentiments expressed last week by both Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South
Africa and General Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria that Zimbabwe’s main
political parties were engaged in negotiations, offered prospects for a
breakthrough in the stalled talks and indeed raised the people’s hopes.
Despite what has so far been an elusive quest for a negotiated
settlement, Zimbabweans were hopeful that the aborted talks would resume
with a positive outcome. Moreso after assurances from the two men who have
been at the sharp edge of a delicate arbitrage between the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) and the ruling ZANU PF since the process started.
Understandably, the Zimbabwean crisis has provided a delicate foreign
policy test for both men who, in their words and deeds, have been as
diplomatic as one can possibly be. The two have always struck us as
extraordinary and cautious politicians who would be unlikely to stir up
controversy like the one over the talks, without knowing where it would all
But even though we are hard-pressed to think that Mbeki and Obasanjo
would lie about the situation in Zimbabwe, there is now the real danger that
the two might have promised more than they can deliver. This brings into
question whether the two presidents’ hope for Zimbabwe was groundless? Did
they have a strategy with regards to the talks? Does this not lend credence
to the controversial claims that the two gentlemen consulted more with one
side than the other?
Admittedly they had the broad support of reform-minded forces both
within and outside Zimbabwe, but the question still begs whether they, Mbeki
and Obasanjo, fully appreciated the polarity of the stands taken by the
feuding political parties. In fact, their credibility is now on the line as
both the MDC and ZANU PF, in the mistaken belief that this was all about
scoring political points and capital, have adopted an icy tone. There are no
talks nor will there be some any time soon, they said, seemingly oblivious
of the fact that a lot more is at stake here than the political standing of
President Robert Mugabe and Mr Morgan Tsvangirai.
But what is going on here? Was it a question of a Mbeki/Obasanjo lie
having travelled across the world while the real truth on the status of the
talks was still putting on its shoes? Indeed, nothing so conclusively proves
not only the arrogance of these parties that are partly sponsored by taxes
from long suffering Zimbabweans but also the confusion in the country’s body
politic than the conflicting reports on the talks. With their eyes firmly on
the 2005 parliamentary elections, these parties are probably dithering as a
time-buying tactic. MDC hopes to exploit voter anger and the fear of
starvation while ZANU PF, a party many erroneously thought was ready for a
decisive rupture with the past, is probably banking on the power of
incumbency with total disregard for the suffering and pain of the people.
The attitude of the politicians, who have never shown any inclination to
share the people’s pain, gives cause for concern. They seem to neither
understand the catastrophe that is unfolding in Zimbabwe nor the depth of
the abyss we are in already!
We feel that if Zimbabwe is as important to them as they want us to
believe, these politicians should find a common ground to expeditiously do
something about the crisis. Otherwise, continued intransigence would be
tantamount to continuously digging when the country is already in a deep
hole where it might not be able to bottom out.
...and to the NOTEBOOK
1/29/2004 7:51:22 AM
Sad loss AS Zimbos try to come to terms with the results of Sunday’s
match with the Pharaohs of Egypt in Tunisia, CZ would like to commiserate
with most of his brothers who, apart from suffering the collective loss as a
country, they lost much more after they had decided to bet in the hope that
Zimbabwe was going to come out tops.
Brothers are weeping tears of blood! Some lost entire pay cheques,
cell-phones, crates of beer, cars, radios and television sets . . . you name
We hope none of them lost wives because we know that when it comes to
gambling, Zimbos, by nature, can bet anything — from their own mothers,
wives, girlfriends and their children, let alone spoons and forks!
In their over-raised hopes — they were so confident that our warriors
were going to give the Egyptians a thorough shellacking after all the
precious resources we had committed to the preparations. Besides, we still
hold a long-standing grudge against the North Africans after some of them
claimed that our national team that visited Cairo for a soccer match carried
with it some monkeys and baboons for their meals! Remember?
Now as the crestfallen Zimbos take stock after the Sunday match, there
are so many people who are being blamed for the agonising 2-1 loss. These
include Wifred Mugeyi who missed a goal that even CZ could have scored for
his Fingaz team which is in one of Harare’s boozers’ leagues! How can this
be? Everyone is wondering and angry.
Then there are those who are blaming it all on the bira that was held
for the Warriors just before they departed. This bira took away any of the
blessings that the Mighty God would have wanted to give them, they argue.
Others argue that the bira idea was not that bad — even Pastor G attended —
but the problem was the venue. The venue should have been some sacred
place — Great Zimbabwe, Matonjeni, Chirorodziva, Khami or such other places
where the spirits of our great departed are believed to be domiciled.
Then others argue that God and the gods could not bless such a
cancerous waste of scarce resources on useless games when millions of
orphans are starving to death.
Then there is another school of thought. This one argues that there
was no way the team could win because of some of the thoroughly unpopular
characters that have been speechifying about the Warriors and some of those
who accompanied them to the games. These people actually mention names, but
CZ cannot because he can not afford to compete with some filthy rich
parvenus for some of the country’s good lawyers and, therefore, may be sued
all the way to hell and back.
Some of them are really litigious . . . they have so far sued almost
everyone . . . maybe including their grandmothers!
Some people are still angry that the trip was hijacked by some
"powerful party figures" and they were embarrassingly turned back at the
airport because the plane could not allow standing passengers! What a
mortifying experience! After telling everyone, girlfriends and jealous
neighbours included, that one is going to be part of the joyful lot that
would appear on TV screens from Tunisia, then they are seen pulling their
heavy "airport" bags home! This must have been a really sad sight! It’s like
the sight of a Zimbo thrown on the next Air-Zim plane home by no-nonsense
British immigration officials!
We are hoping against hope that two of our ministers who had to take
time off their busy schedules will not exchange blows when it comes to
picking the first 11 for the next match, now that Mhofu may be asked to take
"official" advice to save the country from another embarrassment. The two
ministers do not quite like each other as one of them complained bitterly
that the other wanted to make him redundant by arrogating himself the former
Lastly, CZ wonders who will buy L-Sporto’s specimen jerseys now that
the team’s performance is not too pleasing.
Cde Dr George
After the rumour
mill got glutted with claims that the "young" Great Uncle, who is
nearly 80 and but halfway through his six-year term at Munhumutapa Building,
was not feeling fine and was in South Africa for medical attention, Cde
George Charamba did not waste any time in coming out in full force to trash
"The President is as fit as none of his detractors can ever hope to be
in their lifetime." Indeed a strong and authoritative statement from the
British-trained Secretary for Information and Publicity in the Office of the
Great Uncle and his War Cabinet!
But we wonder what qualification the man holds for him to make such
sweeping medical statements. Should we continue worrying about the continued
mass-exodus of medical experts to the UK? We wonder.
The dastardly attack on
journalist Dumisani Mleya last week, hours after some goons in the
business sector had threatened him, is a worrying development in the
practice of journalism in Zimbabwe.
Surely such an incident, coming as it does, in the wake of unfolding
scandals in the country’s financial services sector, leaves every media
practitioner worried because — who knows — rogues and arrivistes like these
have flint where their hearts are supposed to be so they can do almost
anything to anyone who might want to mention something about them. We cannot
afford another Carlos Cardoso here — please!
Zim’s withdrawal from the C’wealth et al
1/29/2004 7:55:59 AM (GMT +2)
Whether one likes it or not, it is a paradox that out of the
controversies surrounding it, Zimbabwe is slowly emerging as a pace-setter
for the African and thirdworld decolonisation struggle in a global context.
It is amazing, to say the least, how the Zimbabwean question has
become an election issue in South Africa, thus giving a very definite
complexion to that country’s post-Apartheid dispensation. It is obviously
extremely likely that developments in Zimbabwe will, for the foreseeable
future, continue to influence the decolonisation process in many African and
third world countries, for it is invariably becoming a reflection of class,
in addition to race, that one either regards Mugabe as a hero or villain.
The interventionist approach of the "international community" to the
Zimbabwean question did not help matters and it is becoming less likely that
megaphone diplomacy will yield any tangible results. There was a lot of
double-dealing and hypocrisy in the commonwealth’s efforts to seek a
solution to the Zimbabwean crisis . . . flagrant flounting of rules and
procedures, racism, personality clashes and you name it, resulting in
Zimbabwe’s withdrawal from the club.
The Zimbabwean government capitalised over these procedural defects
and blew them out of proportion, in justifying its withdrawal from the club.
It was a political bombshell so typical of our President and as such, the
implications of the withdrawal were not easily apparent to most commentators
and analysts and are yet to fully manifest themselves. I have personally
deliberately avoided commenting on the issue waiting for my perception to
crystallise but I have finally succumbed to public pressure to do so in a
period of historical crisis, social analysts and commentators are
periodically rendered irrelevant. The intellectual takes more time to mature
than the man of action.
The message that comes out clear from Zimbabwe’s withdrawal from the
commonwealth is that we must never, now and in future, rely on foreigners to
resolve our crisis for ourselves and to influence the direction of our
struggles. My contention is that the crisis in Zimbabwe was compounded and
became even more irreconcilable when some amongst ourselves started pursuing
the ideologies of foreigners.
It is unfortunate that the MDC has allowed itself to put certain
controversial characters in a position where they appear like their
spokespersons in international relations. We all know them, including the C’
wealth Secretary General, the British foreign Secretary, the leader of the
Democratic Alliance in South Africa and the Australian Premier, to mention
just but a few. (I mean, "they" also know these controversial characters.)
If we put foreigners at the forefront of articulating our own interests,
then we are only doing ourselves a disservice for that can be manipulated by
the establishment to "show" that we have no agenda that is independent of he
Hitherto, the international community’s attempts to resolve the crisis
in Zimbabwe have been blueprints for failure. Firstly, the international
community has invariably advanced impolitic approaches to the crisis.
Secondly, they have come up with their own pre-conceived formulae which are
not informed by grounded realities of the Zimbabwean body politik. Thirdly,
because of the two factors above, they have embarked on an ill-fated course
of hapzard meddling and muddling through. So this is what we got . . . the
postponement of the crisis and deference of the solution.
Only Zimbabweans must set for themselves a road map for the future. An
ideological consensus emerges from a people as a result of their aggregate
experience in concrete economic, political, cultural and socio-psychological
terms. Anything else is alien and false and if that happens, indigestion of
all sorts develops and we start saying and doing all sorts of things,
including some which are harmful to our own interests.
For those that had over-depended on externally brewed solutions to our
crisis, through bodies like the commonwealth, what next now that Zimbabwe
has pulled out of the club? The opposition in Zimbabwe has over-relied on
the "international community" and has exaggerated the role that the latter
has to play in the resolution of the Zimbabwean question. To the contrary,
the interventionist approach of the international community appears to have
compounded and exacerbated the crisis in this country.
The role of the international community on the Zimbabwean question is
quite controversial. During the liberation struggle, we have had the
experience of the "frontline states" whose role and involvement in the
Zimbabwean struggle for independence are still equally controversial in
academic circles. The point ,though, can never be over-emphasised that "the
primary responsibility for resolving the crisis in Zimbabwe lies with
Zimbabweans," as President Mbeki is so fond of saying.
After making a critical appreciation of the role of the Frontline
states in his book, "Struggles-within-the-struggle" [Rujeko Publishers, 2nd
Ed, 1999, pg 218-219], the late perceptive Professor Masipula Sithole had
this to say: "Indeed, people can and do, in fact borrow ideas or guides for
social action, but when they do they must develop their own in the process
of struggle. Someone else’s guide is just that: someone else’s guide.
A Zimbabwean ideology must be founded on the philosophy of
self-reliance, much as the ZANU slogan: "we are our own liberators" implied
. . . Any effort to "liberate" another people, as was the effort to
"civilise" them in the 19th century, is imperialism. Imperialism uses
seductive and altruistic concepts such as to "civilise" and to "liberate"
but when done on behalf of another, both means to "colonise".
The decision to extend Zimbabwe’s suspension from the commonwealth in
Abuja was victory of megaphone diplomacy over quiet diplomacy and no wonder
President Mbeki was liked a wounded bull. What is paradoxical is that in as
much as megaphone diplomacy has succeeded in extending Zimbabwes’ suspension
from the club, that does not seem to have had the slightest effect in
resolving the political crisis in this country. Although the President
"admitted" during President Mbeki’s visit here in December last year that
dialogue was going on between the ruling party and the opposition, there has
been serious doubts over the authenticity of such claims, compounded by Mr
Tsvangirai’s denial at the MDC conference in December. But judging by the
MDC’s inaction, one is tempted to think that something is going on behind
the scenes, but this assertion is difficult to sustain.
As things stand right now, the MDC needs a radical paradigm shift in
its regional and international diplomacy. Focus should no longer be on the C
’wealth (of poverty?) because the club’s relevance in the resolution of the
Zimbabwean crisis has now been seriously debased. At the same time, it will
be a misdirection on the part of the MDC to seek to by-pass SADC and the
African Union and appeal for the direct intervention of the United Nations
So there are no two ways about it. The MDC just has to convince the
SADC leaders and the African Union that they are a legitimate organisation
with legitimate claims. In short, they just have to be truly African and
join the African mainstream of critical thought and struggles. Regionally,
the MDC could start with Botswana and Kenya where they seem to have the most
sympathies. If they are serious, it should not be difficult for them to win
the support of Zambia and Malawi and from there other opportunities will
The MDC’s regional diplomacy should be dual in nature, targeting both
governments and other progressive opposition political parties and civic
organisations within the masses of the various SADC countries. The latter
option has not been properly pursued but it has got immense potential.
Firming Zimdollar sees prices falling
1/29/2004 7:22:42 AM (GMT +2)
THE continued firming of the Zimbabwe dollar and the resultant
spin-offs on prices of goods and services could further slowdown the rate of
inflation, which came off by 20 percentage points last month.
Analysts told The Financial Gazette this week that the firming
Zimbabwe dollar on the foreign currency auction has led to the softening of
prices of some items that constitute the Consumer Price Index.
Zimbabwe, as a net importer, relies heavily on foreign exchange to
finance raw material purchases among other things. As such, the appreciation
of the local unit is felt through a reduction in prices.
For the first time in as many months, the rate of inflation for
December 2003 dropped by 20 percentage points to 598.7 percent. David
Mupamhadzi, the chief economist for Trust Holdings Limited, said
policy-makers should now build on the latest decline in inflation.
"Given the firming of the Zimbabwe dollar on both the official and
parallel markets, it is likely that the rate of inflation will remain on a
downward spiral," he said.
Mupamhadzi said inflation has in the past been driven by
self-fulfilling expectations because retailers and car dealers were hiking
prices without any fundamental justification, contributing to the rise in
inflation. Century Holdings group economist Moses Chundu said the exchange
rate was a critical component in addressing inflation.
"I expect inflation to go down to about 500 percent by the end of
January as the Zimbabwe dollar continues to firm following the introduction
of the auction system," he said.
Other economists felt the salary adjustments in January and the
financing of the budget deficit from bank sources could put paid efforts to
contain inflation. Eric Bloch, a Bulawayo based chartered accountant,
described the decline in the December rate of inflation as temporary, saying
it was largely a result of the drop in the prices of vegetables and a few
commodities at the end of last year.
Bloch said: "I don’t think it (inflation) will continue to drop. It is
a technical adjustment and nothing else."
In his 2004 national budget, Finance Minister, Herbert Murerwa
predicted that inflation would surge to 700 percent in the first quarter of
this year before falling due to a tighter monetary policy.
The central bank governor, Gideon Gono, was even more optimistic,
predicting that inflation could end the year at between 170 and 200 percent.
Mbeki likely to end with egg on his face
1/29/2004 7:52:08 AM (GMT +2)
SOMEONE should coin a new phrase to describe South African President
Thabo Mbeki’s questionable approach to the Zimbabwean crisis, which he
himself calls "quiet diplomacy".
This thought occurred to me as I listened to President Mbeki trying
once more to hoodwink a visiting head of state that his widely ridiculed
approach was having an impact.
Without a pang of conscience or a hint of irony, Mr Mbeki told Germany
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder during the South African leg of his four-nation
African tour last week that President Robert Mugabe and opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, were engaged in talks
to break the impasse.
Mbeki made this bold assertion despite the fact that only about a
month ago, after his whistle-stop visit to Zimbabwe, the MDC categorically
denied that any such talks were underway between ZANU PF and the MDC. Mbeki
claimed at that time that President Mugabe had assured him the two sides
The refutation of his claims by the MDC apparently did not bother
Mbeki enough to persuade him to revisit the matter to establish what was
really happening on the ground. This lack of desire on Mbeki’s part to
establish the realities in a situation as serious as the Zimbabwean tragedy
is one of the biggest problems I have with his approach. He seems prepared
to see and listen to one side of the story in this dispute — that of
President Mugabe and ZANU PF.
By doing this, in my view, he fails the most important test for an
honest broker or mediator — impartiality in seeing the facts as they are. By
choosing to bury his head in the sand — whether by design or inadvertence —
he invariably makes the wrong assumptions and proceeds on the basis of the
As most analysts have predicted, Mbeki is likely to end up with egg on
his face when the June deadline he set for the resumption of talks between
ZANU PF and the MDC elapses without an iota of progress being made. Mbeki’s
"quiet diplomacy", which he has defended over the last three years during
which it has not achieved a single, documented breakthrough, is likely to
prove a spectacular failure come June.
One thing I have always wondered about is whether the Western leaders
over whose eyes Mbeki tries to pull his "quiet diplomacy wool" actually
believe him or whether they engage in a different kind of diplomacy in their
response to his claims.
In his speech in Pretoria last week, Mr Schroeder praised Mr Mbeki’s
approach but was quick to reiterate his government’s stance on Zimbabwe. He
did not mince his words when he said Germany found the Mugabe regime
unacceptable because of its terrible human rights record, disregard for the
rule of law and other violations of democratic principles. He said it was
for this reason that the German government supported European Union targeted
sanctions and travel restrictions against President Mugabe and other
Zimbabwean officials on the EU list.
The same thing happened when American President George Bush, who is
more blunt and outspoken on the situation in Zimbabwe, visited Africa last
year. While Bush made all the right noises to acknowledge the role Mbeki was
playing in trying to solve the Zimbabwean problem, his Secretary of State,
Colin Powell did not beat about the bush. He said President Mugabe had
overstayed his welcome at the helm and it was time for change.
One wonders what goes through the South African President’s mind when
he hears his VIP guests call a spade a spade with regard to Zimbabwe when he
has never been able to bring himself to utter a single word of condemnation
against the Mugabe regime.
It is instructive to remember how the world first came to know about
Mbeki’s "quiet diplomacy". It was only after he had been repeatedly
criticised both at home and internationally for not speaking out on the
situation in Zimbabwe that he claimed to be engaged in "quiet diplomacy". He
said shouting and criticising Mugabe publicly would not achieve anything.
Under the cover of "quiet diplomacy" Mbeki has never said a single,
solitary word of disapproval against state sponsored violence, human rights
violations, absence of the rule of law, suppression of dissent and
harassment of journalists and anyone perceived to be an enemy of the
In fact, after his last visit about a month ago, Mbeki dropped any
pretence of impartially and objectivity as a mediator and outrightly
defended the Zimbabwean regime. He claimed that all the current problems in
Zimbabwe stemmed from a failure by the British government to honour pledges
to fund the land redistribution programme. He lamented the fact those who
had introduced democracy in Zimbabwe were now being demonised.
This is the clearest indication, if any was needed, that Mbeki does
not view the problems in Zimbabwe from the same perspective as the suffering
Zimbabweans and the international community.
It stands to reason therefore that when he acts as a peace broker, the
solution Mbeki wants to see to the Zimbabwean problem may not be the same as
that everyone else anticipates.
"Quiet diplomacy" has allowed Mbeki to be all things to all men for a
very long time. It has enabled him to hunt with the dogs and run with the
Mbeki’s muddled thinking has been highlighted in the past by the
stance he initially took on the causes of AIDS. It took him years to come
around on that one. When will he see the light on Zimbabwe?
When all is said and done, I wonder whether Mbeki’s "quiet diplomacy"
should not really be seen as covert support for and solidarity with the
regime in Harare.
Why Zim dollar is firming?
7:36:46 AM (GMT +2)
A feature that had become peculiar with government economic policy
measures prior to the announcement of new monetary policy measures by the
Reserve Bank Governor on 18 December 2003 was the deliberate avoidance of
external sector policies needed to solve foreign currency shortages that had
handicapped economic growth and development especially the exchange rate and
re-engagement with the international community needed to unlock foreign
direct investment inflows.
After dragging their feet for some time on the exchange rate issue and
having been stuck with a fixed exchange rate that had become out of line
with domestic inflation and global market developments, the authorities
finally gave in and introduced what the Governor termed a middle-of-the-road
exchange rate management regime. This middle of the road exchange rate
regime is what the Governor referred to as the "Controlled Auction"
approach. Under this system, foreign exchange is auctioned through the
Currency Exchange, which is an independent body that operates under the
supervision of the Reserve Bank.
While the auction system started well, it should be noted that it is
not an end itself but like a dual exchange rate policy, a transitional
exchange rate regime with a view towards unification of the multiple
exchange rates that exists in the country. In other words, the auction
system helps the monetary authorities to avoid the shock of a sudden
movement to a floating exchange rate from the fixed regime that existed
prior to 12 January 2004. In addition to facilitating an exchange rate
regime change, the other purpose of the auction system is to generate
information to buyers and sellers of foreign currency about the realistic
price of foreign currency. There are many trade and exchange relations in
which more often than not, a piece of information relevant to the
transaction may be known to one party but not to the other. Such information
asymmetry is corrected by an auction system just like what is now happening.
Everybody now knows that at the auction that was held on Monday (26/01/04),
the average exchange rate of the Zimbabwe dollar against the U.S. dollar
closed at Z$3 563.31 up from Z$3 612 that was realised on Thursday
(22/01/04). Until this rate changes at another auction to be held today,
foreign currency dealers will continue to use this exchange rate. An
advantage of the auction system is that it is more stable than dealer
markets in times of shortages as it is the buyer who sets the price.
Now to the subject of this article — why the Zimbabwe dollar is
firming on the auction market? The foreign currency auction market made its
debut on 12 January 2004 with the Zimbabwe dollar firming by more than 82
percent from around Z$6 500 per U.S. dollar at the end last year to Z$3 563
on 26 January as already noted. The currency might stabilise around these
firmer levels in the short to medium term. What could be the explanation for
this? The first reason is the elimination of speculators by the Governor’s
monetary policy measures. In fact, demand for currency comes companies,
investors and speculators. Companies buy foreign currency to import inputs
into their production processes and these has been the worst hit by the
foreign currency volatilities. It is these economic agents that Government
want to protect as any problem in terms of foreign currency shortages and
its high cost affect the ordinary person in the street through unemployment
and high prices of goods and services. Investors, on the other hand, have
been buying foreign currency as a hedge against the current high inflation
environment. They had, for a very long time, used the foreign currency
market, in addition to the equity and property markets, as a hedge against
inflation as money market rates had been depressed by the authorities in a
bid to avail cheaper sources of funds to the productive sector. The real
culprits in the foreign currency crisis were speculators who were hoarding
foreign currency to make a capital gain.
Now, as if the Governor had dreamt of it, the introduction of the
auction system coincided with a period when money market interest rates had
risen to levels above inflation and investors, together with speculators,
were in the process of switching their funds to the money market. This
greatly reduced the demand for foreign currency. This means that the demand
for foreign currency has been limited to corporates who use it for
productive purposes. These developments should send a clear message to the
authorities about the advantages of implementing sound economic policies —
tightening of monetary policy to choke speculative demand. The argument here
is that the auction system on its own has not led to the firming of exchange
rates but the fact that it was introduced at a time when speculators were
offloading their foreign currency positions due to high and rising interest
rates. This is because most of these foreign currency positions had been
built by borrowing from banks and the sudden increase in interest rates had
made it expensive for the speculators to continue holding on the currency.
As already noted, the rising interest rates had also attracted investors and
were switching their money to the money market.
It is against this background of the positive effect of rising
interest rates that the Reserve Bank should make concerted efforts to avoid
the current liquidity surpluses that have depressed short-term interest
rates. Interest rates have softened due to heavy liquidity surpluses on the
money market emanating from liquidity support that was given to banks which
had been negatively affected by the liquidity crunch that existed prior to
the liquidity support, foreign exchange purchases by the RBZ and the
disbursement of consessional productive sector and export loans. These
developments saw daily average liquidity positions on the money market
rising more than Z$700 billion, a situation that saw interest rates
softening to around 60% from peak levels of more than 600% at the end of
last year. This situation attracts speculative and investor demand for
Before I come to the end of my article I need to remind the
authorities that the auction system does not completely eliminate the
parallel market in as much as the Treasury bill auction system will not meet
the requirements of all market players. There will always be some primary
dealers that will find themselves short and will have to find some overnight
accommodation at penal rates either from the RBZ itself or the inter-bank
market. The same applies to the foreign currency market, not all people will
manage to get their currency at the auction. What the authorities now need
to do is to prepare for a unification of the parallel and official markets.
An important institutional arrangement developed to absorb the parallel
market into the legal foreign exchange system is the Bureau de Change. The
key objectives behind the institutionalisation of the foreign currency
bureaus, therefore, include the elimination of the illegal parallel market,
capture of the main market forces directly behind the determination of the
exchange rate and the subsequent absorption of the parallel/bureau market
into a single foreign exchange market. The attainment of a single market
requires the exchange rates to be equal in all sub-markets within the
foreign exchange system.
ZANU PF supporters go on rampage in Gutu
MASVINGO – Suspected ZANU PF supporters
earlier this week went on the
rampage and stoned buildings and set ablaze one hut near Chartsworth Rural
Service Centre as violence flared up in Gutu North ahead of next week’s
On Monday this week, suspected ZANU PF youths raided homes of
suspected opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters at
Chartsworth’s Makaure township and stoned buildings damaging window panes in
Golden Spider Web building at Chartsworth had its window panes
extensively damaged. The building is owned by Vitus Hakutangwi, a well known
The marauding youths then moved onto Thornhill farm, about eight
kilometres south of Chartsworth, and torched David Changa’s hut. They
accused him of belonging to the MDC.
Changa told a Daily News crew that visited the area: “We managed to
put out the fire using buckets of water.
Fortunately our grandmother who normally slept in the hut was not in
on the day in question.
“We reported the matter to the police but since Monday they have not
yet visited the scene of the incident.”
Our news crew was chased out of Thornhill Farm by militant mobs clad
in ZANU PF party regalia.
At Chartsworth Rural Service Centre the situation remained tense as
people are now afraid of moving at night because of violence.
Chartsworth, the second largest service centre in the constituency, is
believed to be an MDC stronghold.
Police in Chartsworth yesterday said they had received reports of
political violence but said the situation was being exaggerated.
Crispa Musoni of the MDC and ZANU PF’s retired air marshal Josiah
Tungamirai will battle it out to fill the seat left vacant following the
death of Vice President Simon Muzenda.
Biotech giant pulls out of Zimbabwe
BIOTECH giant Monsanto – the world’s leading
producer of agricultural
inputs – has pulled out of Zimbabwe by selling its business to a local
consortium, citing the country’s unstable economic environment, according to
company officials in South Africa.
Monsanto, whose headquarters are in the United States of America,
manufactures herbicides, seed brands and offers biotechnology to farmers in
52 nations, three of them in southern Africa.
Its Zimbabwean business has been sold to an unnamed consortium, with
Monsanto saying it now wants to focus its resources in more stable countries
on the continent.
Kobus Lindeque, the chief executive officer of Monsanto’s operations
in South Africa, who is also responsible for Zimbabwe, said his firm had
negotiated with a local consortium to sell the company for an undisclosed
He said the firm would now expand its operations in Malawi, where two
senior employees from Zimbabwe were transferred last month.
“Monsanto is pulling out of Zimbabwe because it would like to focus
its present resources in more stable countries within Africa,” Lindeque said
in response to questions from The Daily News.
“We are not relocating to Malawi, but simply expanding our business.
Monsanto has been in Malawi for many years and has had a seed processing
facility for many years.”
It was not possible to secure comment from the new owners of the
Senior officials at the firm were said to be away and would only be
back next Monday.
The relocation of Monsanto’s local operation comes at a time when
Zimbabwe is battling severe shortages of agricultural inputs, including
The shortages, which have been affecting the country for the past two
years, come at a time the government is pursuing a controversial programme
to take over white-owned land in what it says is an attempt to redress
Farmers resettled by the government on seized land have been hit hard
by the shortage of agricultural inputs, which has adversely affected farming
Production in the farming sector has also been cut by the government’s
land reform programme, which is criticised for allocating land to people
without the financial resources to farm productively.
Monsanto is one of several companies that have relocated their
operations to other countries in southern Africa, citing Zimbabwe’s economic
instability, also partly blamed on the decline of the agricultural sector,
the backbone of the country’s economy.
At least 600 companies, mostly in the manufacturing sector, shut down
between 2000 and June 2003 because of the harsh operating environment,
pushing up unemployment, now estimated at more than 70 percent.
Several foreign investors have also abandoned plans to enter the
Zimbabwean market, citing macroeconomic instability and the erosion of law
and order and property rights since the beginning of farm invasions in 2000.
Lindeque said Monsanto’s operations in Zimbabwe concentrated on the
production of hybrid seed as well as agro-chemicals. The seed is produced in
Zimbabwe for local consumption only.
The agro-chemicals are imported from South Africa, but the company has
been unable to import the materials in the past year due to foreign currency
Monsanto produced more than 1 000 metric tonnes of seed in Zimbabwe
for that market only, and accounts for between five and seven percent of the
The firm entered the Zimbabwean market in 2000, after buying shares
from local agriculture concern Cargill Zimbabwe (Pvt) Limited at a time the
company’s turnover was $400 million.
ZANU PF MPs must be ashamed
THE passing by Parliament this week of the Land
Bill is likely to spell disaster for an agricultural sector already brought
to its knees by the government’s chaotic land resettlement programme.
The Bill, which now awaits President Robert Mugabe’s signature so that
it can become law, essentially seeks to make it easier for the government to
seize land from those it deems to have more than they need.
Under the prevailing law, it is imperative that the government ensures
that its notice of intention to acquire land is served personally on a
If the President signs the amendment, and he probably will, the
Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement will be required to
merely publish its notice of intent in the Government Gazette before
proceeding to take over land for resettlement.
The Bill will repeal sections 6A and 6B of the original Act, which
allows landowners to offer other pieces of land as substitute for those
identified by the government for compulsory acquisition.
In addition, there might be very little or no compensation at all for
those dispossessed of their land.
Opposition legislators have vigorously opposed the law, as has
Parliament’s legal committee, which says some sections of the Land
Acquisition Amendment Bill violate Zimbabwe’s Constitution and the Bill of
But the ruling ZANU PF has rejected the report issued by the special
parliamentary committee that examined the Bill, saying that no provision of
the Bill will be in contravention of the Constitution if enacted into law.
As was expected, the House was divided over the issue, with 58 ZANU PF
legislators voting in favour of the Bill and 32 Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) parliamentarians voting against it.
The outcome is sweet victory for the ruling party – which has
politicised the land issue without considering the severe economic
implications of the land resettlement programme.
But it also gives the government a free hand to continue to implement
its programme of land seizures in the same chaotic and unaccountable manner
that has dealt the agricultural sector, the backbone of Zimbabwe’s economy,
a body blow that it will need years to recover from.
Zimbabwe’s race relations will continue to suffer as the government
rides roughshod over white landowners, all the while claiming to be
appropriating land to resettle poor blacks, arguably the group worst
affected by the so-called land reform programme.
As some MDC Members of Parliament argued in the House, land was the
raison d’ etre of Zimbabwe’s 1970s armed struggle.
It is every Zimbabwean’s common heritage and 23 years after
independence, its redistribution still remains an “unfinished national
But the manner in which the redistribution of land has been undertaken
in the past four years has done more harm than good to the country’s
economic and social fabric and will continue to do so if legislators are
unable to see beyond party lines to the national good.
Despite its stated purpose – to empower blacks dumped on crowded and
unproductive pieces of land during the colonial era – a closer look at the
resettlement programme shows that senior members of the ruling party have
been the major beneficiaries.
Some have even acquired more than one farm each, yet hundreds of
thousands of landless blacks still yearn for a single piece of land to
sustain their families.
Even worse, many are facing starvation and unemployment because the
resettlement programme has cut food production and brought many industries
that rely on the agricultural sector to the brink of collapse.
The harm done by the land reform programme to Zimbabwe’s economy could
take decades to fix, and it is unfortunate that ruling party legislators
seem unable to see beyond their own good to the damage being wrought.
These selfish parliamentarians, elected to serve the people’s
interests, should examine their consciences and bow their heads in shame at
this dereliction of duty.
What has gone wrong with us?
WHEN more than 1 000 cases of politically motivated
rape, kidnapping and torture are recorded in just 12 months and the nation
remains silent, then it is time to ask ourselves: what has gone wrong with
According to the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (ZHRF), human rights
violations persisted around Zimbabwe last year, with 559 people being
unlawfully arrested between January and November last year.
Another 782 citizens were denied their constitutional right to freedom
of expression, while 77 people received death threats, 496 were tortured and
four may be presumed dead after they disappeared last year.
Attempting to nudge the nation to speak up and demand an end to
violence as rival political parties begin preparing for the 2005
parliamentary election, the ZHRF warned: “Of major concern is the reportage
of violence surrounding elections in the country!”
And yet there was no word from the government, whose duty it is to
ensure the safety and security of us all, that it would investigate the
claims made by the ZHRF and that it would act firmly and fairly against all
and any found guilty of perpetrating violence.
Nor was there word from Zimbabweans themselves who, in the final
analysis, are the ultimate guarantors of their right to life and the freedom
to hold whatever political beliefs of their choice.
When three people were injured in neighbouring South Africa last
Sunday, in clashes between supporters of the ruling African National
Congress (ANC) and the opposition Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), ANC and state
Vice-President Jacob Zuma immediately announced that his party would hold
talks with the IFP to reduce tension in the province.
Admittedly, whatever peace agreement ANC and IFP leaders sign will not
be enough to totally eliminate politically motivated violence in the
volatile Kwazulu-Natal province or the rest of South Africa.
But no one can accuse Zuma, the ANC or IFP of standing by the side –
even boasting of holding “degrees in violence” – while political thugs maim,
rape and murder innocent South Africans!
That in Zimbabwe a report chillingly documenting so much violence,
torture and repression apparently fails to prick the conscience of the
nation, and both the government and the community react to it with a
business-as-usual attitude, only goes to show how far we have fallen as a
Political violence, like hunger and the collapsing economy, must
become an election issue.
Civic and human rights groups, churches, labour and opposition
political parties, in short, Zimbabweans from all walks of life, must rise
and demand that the government – and we say the government because it has
the mandate and means to ensure peace and security in the country – must act
immediately to end political violence.
The government must disband its controversial National Youth Service
Training programme, which, apart from being an unwise use of resources by a
starving nation, is accused by some of turning gullible youths into mindless
The government must also be forced to rein in its war veterans, who
have mercilessly hounded opposition supporters every election time.
Remaining silent and doing nothing transforms all of us from being
mere victims or innocent bystanders into accomplices to violence and
repression against our fellow citizens.
What is the logic of raiding honest vendors?
I HAVE just come from
town and witnessed the most insensitive act of
economic indifference I have ever seen.
A young man was selling his tomatoes, potatoes and onions at a street
corner when suddenly a truck full of municipal police dressed in navy blue
Someone yelled: “Chabvondoka!” (It’s hit the fan!) and around him his
fellow vendors hurriedly gathered their wares and scurried for cover.
This young man was not so lucky. In a moment, he was surrounded by
four menacing young men – just as young as he but they were wielding batons.
One of them kicked over his makeshift stall, sending his wares flying
onto the pavement and the adjacent tarmac.
He got down onto his hands and knees in an attempt to save some of his
stock but each time he reached for a tomato or potato or onion, a heavy boot
came down upon it and crushed it or booted it away.
In a fit of frustration, the young vendor got to his feet and pushed
one of the policemen away. That was a terrible mistake.
The other three policemen stepped in and manhandled him until finally
one of them pulled out a pair of handcuffs – I was unaware until then that
municipal policemen carried these – and locked the young vendors’ wrists in
The unfortunate young vendor was hoisted up into the truck, where he
joined other arrested vendors. Unable to steady himself with his hands, he
found himself lying on a heap of mangoes, bananas, plums, peaches and
tomatoes in the centre of the truck.
I find myself wondering exactly what the city council is trying to
What is the logic of raiding vendors who you know are going to be back
no matter what because hunger has brought them onto the streets?
Why is it that four, five years ago, there were not nearly as many
vendors as there are now?
All over Zimbabwe, in the cities and towns, in the residential
suburbs, in industrial and commercial areas, you will find them with their
carts and wheelbarrows and bicycles trying to make a living.
At Marimba Shopping Centre in Belvedere, Harare, there is a sign which
reads “Strictly no hawkers”.
On one side of the stand is a man selling airtime cards.
On the other side is a woman selling vegetables. The sign, like
hundreds of other “No hawkers” signs around the country, does not mean
anything any more.
Hunger and poverty overrides the best-intentioned signs and sometimes
the best-intentioned regulations.
Am I saying that we must leave the vendors be?
To cause filth and build unsightly shelters throughout the city and
the country? No. Here are my suggestions. It’s obvious to me – as it should
be to the Harare City Council – that until there are more formal jobs, the
informal sector will continue to thrive – hence the vendors are here to
We can raid and re-raid, but as long as a woman’s children are hungry,
she will come back onto the street to make money. We cannot just push them
off the streets.
I live in Harare, so I will make suggestions for this particular city.
These suggestions may also be relevant to other cities and towns across the
I propose the setting up of designated vending points throughout the
city. These can be simple, neat metal structures placed at selected street
corners and accommodating two or three vendors selling anything from
vegetables to newspapers.
The vendors will be charged a monthly rental to use the designated
vending point and will be responsible for keeping their corner of the street
This means the vendors will become some sort of “cleanliness police”,
making sure that people place their rubbish in bins.
Any vendor who does not manage to live up to the recommended standard
of cleanliness will be asked to vacate their vending sites.
This strategy will encourage vendors to be licenced and to be
registered. It will also enhance cleanliness and help to maintain a clean
These measures will provide employment and will be a way of keeping
the vending issue in check since the council will know who is vending and
Best of all, the vending sites will be a way of generating revenue for
the city council. Picture this – a three-person vending site at a certain
The city council charges say $20 000 a month per vendor. Now, imagine
just three hundred designated vending areas around the city and its
environs. That’s eighteen million dollars in extra revenue PLUS a cleaner
I think it’s worth a thought.
In other African countries, anyone can set up their little stall
anywhere in the city and start selling their wares, no questions asked.
During the day a municipality employee comes and collects a day-fee from
anyone selling on the street.
While this makes money for the city, it causes a lot of filth, lowers
the standards of an area and a mass of vendors in one place can be unfair
competition for registered businesses in the area that have to pay rent,
electricity, rates, etc.
I see the city council has invested a lot of money in its municipal
police department. What with new recruits, new uniforms, baton sticks,
The question is just how progressive is this whole exercise? Is this a
good way to use ratepayers’ money?
Spending millions of dollars to raid the same vendors every week in
the hope they’ll give up and go home is a self-defeating exercise.
They won’t. Let’s consider some intelligent alternatives.
By F J Kadzere
As is required by law, i.e. the
draconian Public and Security Act (POSA), the
Hon Tichaona Munyanyi sent the second
According to POSA, Zimbabweans are required to give notice of their meetings 4 days before the meeting.
The truth of the matter is that
these are merely lies and excuses from a regime that seeks to prevent the people
The news that the
Since the beginning of the week the
state media have been running adverse stories on the launch of RESTART. The
story in the discredited Herald on Tuesday, alleging that the
RESTART is a comprehensive programme
that embodies the M
condemn this clear anti-democratic act which is yet another demonstration of the
Zanu PF government’s contempt for freedom of speech.
What sort of country are we living in when an opposition party (which controls
the 12 major towns and cities in
Paul Themba Nyathi
Secretary for Information and Publicity