Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor
Mugabe’s grip on power stokes fissures
IN an unexpected reversal of political fortunes, it could be ZANU PF rather
than the erstwhile divided Movement for Democratic Change that goes into the
March elections in disarray after it has emerged that a spilt could be
imminent within the ruling party owing to growing fissures stoked by
President Robert Mugabe’s unyielding grip on power.
The split, likely to be the worst to ravage the party since a guerrilla
war-era break up, which resulted in President Mugabe taking over as leader
from the late Ndabaningi Sithole after grave differences emerged over the
direction of the war of liberation, has set alarm bells ringing among
security agents, who are digging for clues.
The Financial Gazette is reliably informed that the powerful Joint
Operations Command, which is composed of high-ranking officers from the
military, the intelligence services and the police, has started scrutinising
information on the issue, although sources said suspicions ran deep among
members because of factional alliances.
Impeccable sources revealed this week that a cabal of President Mugabe’s
inner circle, largely consisting of reformists disillusioned by the status
quo, has joined hands with key players in the fractious opposition party,
the MDC, and could launch a united challenge against ZANU-PF in the 2008
They said the only sticky point had been the choice of the candidate to face
President Mugabe in the presidential race and how the united party would
constitute its government in the event of winning the polls.
The initiative to unite reformists in ZANU PF and key opposition players in
the MDC factions led by Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara is reportedly
being driven by three Zimbabwean business executives, one of whom is a
former Cabinet minister now domiciled abroad.
The other is a renowned academic who was closely associated with President
Mugabe’s government as a key adviser during the formative years of his
The Financial Gazette can neither name the figures behind the initiative,
nor the politicians from both ZANU PF and the MDC who are involved, for
But the list of names made available to this newspaper shows that the plan,
which is supported by key opposition figures, involves kingmakers from both
ZANU PF and the two MDC factions.
The initiative is understood to have the support of key international
financial institutions that are disillusioned by the country’s current
economic meltdown and the failure of the opposition to unseat President
Mugabe from power.
Despite the economic ruin blamed on ZANU-PF, which has been in power for the
past 28 years, successive opposition parties could not dislodge President
Mugabe’s government partly because of the unity that prevailed in the ruling
But the forces that bound the party together were weakened after President
Mugabe moved to crush dissent ahead of the 2004 congress when a faction
linked to former ZANU-PF secretary for administration, Emmerson Mnangagwa
attempted to block Joice Mujuru’s ascendancy to the Presidium.
Six provincial chairmen including Daniel Shumba who now leads the United
People’s Party and Jabulani Sibanda, whose resurgence has raffled the
feathers of the old guard in Matabeleland, were suspended from the party
over the so- called Tsholotsho Declaration.
More political intrigue was to follow in the run-up to the ZANU-PF special
congress held last month when President Mugabe’s loyalists pre-empted
attempts to elect a new leader by endorsing the ageing Zimbabwean leader as
the party’s presidential candidate.
President Mugabe, who ruthlessly dealt with alleged detractors during the
Tsholotsho debacle, however, took no steps to discipline those involved.
“The people driving the initiative are using structures in both ZANU PF and
the two MDC factions and the split could occur anytime soon,” a source said.
President Mugabe’s intelligence operatives are said to have already started
“sniffing around” for clues on the development.
The veteran nationalist is said to be “dealing diligently” with the matter
and could take unspecified action once he resumes work after his annual
leave in Asia.
It was not immediately clear if this would entail the dismissal of certain
Cabinet members linked to the development, but sources discounted the
possibility of any action that would “potentially play into the hands of his
The suspension of Attorney General, Sobuza Gula Ndebele, an ex-officio
member of the cabinet, could indicate the manner in which he is likely to
deal with the issue, a source suggested.
Ndebele was suspended pending investigations into allegations that he
privately met former NMBZ Holdings executive, James Mushore, when he knew
the banker was on the police wanted list.
Ndebele is reportedly aligned to a powerful faction within ZANU PF with
strong links to the military.
Reports last year indicated that a faction within the ruling party had
scuttled President Mugabe’s bid for endorsement at the 2006 ZANU PF
conference, at which he had sought backing for proposals to harmonise the
country’s presidential and parliamentary elections this year, as well as
make the legislature an electoral college responsible for the appointment of
a presidential successor should the incumbent decide to retire during his
Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter
JABULANI Sibanda will be readmitted into ZANU PF this month, three years
after the controversial war veterans leader was suspended from the party for
alleged insubordination and indiscipline.
The maverick war veteran, who stirred a hornet’s nest at the party’s special
congress in December, is likely to bounce back in time for him to contest
ZANU-PF primaries, most likely in a constituency in Bulawayo.
There are fears however, that Sibanda’s re-admission could cause the ZANU-PF
old guard in Matabeleland to pull out of the shaky Unity Accord signed in
1987 to end bitter internal strife that saw over 20,000 people mainly from
Matabeleland and the Midlands being massacred.
The war veterans leader was suspended in 2004 on allegations he had
mobilised the boisterous former freedom fighters against Vice-President
He was also found guilty of attempting to influence the make-up of the party’s
top leadership by frustrating the appointment of Joice Mujuru to the post of
Sibanda appealed twice against his expulsion from the party but the ZANU-PF
national disciplinary committee chaired by John Nkomo, could not finalise
Nkomo, who is also the ZANU PF national chairman, was not immediately
available for comment yesterday.
“It is almost a foregone conclusion that his (Sibanda) suspension will be
overturned this month-end,” said a highly placed ZANU-PF source. “He is
wanted basically to oil the party’s campaign machinery in Matabeleland. We
know what he can do. We all saw it for ourselves in the run-up to the
special congress,” added the source.
Last year, President Robert Mugabe roped in Sibanda to spearhead his
re-election campaign, culminating in his endorsement during the ZANU PF
extraordinary congress last month.
The climax of Sibanda’s solidarity marches, which were meant to secure
backing for President Mugabe’s candidacy in the March elections was the
so-called Million Man-Woman March. The event upset the ZANU-PF leadership in
Matabeleland, which regarded Sibanda’s antics as a bid to curry favour with
The special congress almost degenerated into a fiasco towards the end after
Nkomo and Msika threatened to walk out after Sibanda, who had been barred
from addressing the delegates, was invited to the podium by his deputy,
The incident created a scene that embarrassed President Mugabe, who was
obliged to exert his authority to cover up the factionalism that threatened
to manifest itself in full view of the world and the party faithful.
ZANU-PF insiders said President Mugabe has a soft spot for Sibanda whom he
views as an emerging leader with the charisma needed to win over
Matabeleland from the opposition.
Nkomo, Msika and Dumiso Dabengwa, the former ZIPRA intelligence supremo,
have previously threatened to withdraw from the 1987 Unity Accord over
President Mugabe’s decision to let Sibanda lead his campaign.
None of the former ZAPU big guns attended Sibanda’s sideshows, leading to a
taunt by him that they were like “leaves in a whirlwind”.
Sibanda has blamed Nkomo for delaying the hearing of his appeal to the
Central Committee and to congress.
He has vowed to pursue the appeal until justice is delivered.
Njabulo Ncube Political Editor
THE British Embassy in Harare granted David Butau a visa in 2004, which the
fugitive ZANU-PF legislator used recently to flee to the United Kingdom The
Financial Gazette can reveal.
It also emerged this week that the Guruve North Member of Parliament, who is
wanted by the police on allegations of contravening exchange control
regulations, flew to the UK through OR Tambo International Airport in South
Ironically, despite his influence in the country's body politic, Butau is
not among the 150 ruling party officials banned from travelling or
transacting in Europe.
A spokesperson for the British Embassy confirmed that Butau had a valid visa
to visit the UK and that he was not on the European Union (EU) targeted
The EU slapped President Robert Mugabe and his ruling elite with targeted
sanctions over the haphazard land reform programme and disputed election
"David Butau MP is not on the EU visa ban list," said Keith Scott, British
Embassy spokesperson. "He has a valid UK visitor visa, which was issued in
Butau is the chief executive officer of Dande Holdings, which has
significant interests in agriculture.
Sources said the businessman fled to London after getting wind of his
imminent arrest and got a friend back home to fool the police by sending
text messages from his mobile phone.
Convinced that the legislator would hand himself in for questioning after
the festive season, police took their time before sealing exit points and by
the time they issued a warrant for his arrest Butau was safely in London.
State media say Butau, who is linked to Vice President Joice Mujuru's camp,
is wanted in connection with the payment of about 537 000 pounds for
tractors made from an offshore account in the Channel Islands.
The payments were allegedly made by two cheques on November 11, 2007 to
Michigan Tractors. The money was allegedly withdrawn from Butau's personal
account with HSBC Bank Channel Islands Branch.
While Butau has not commented on specific allegations, he has denied any
wrongdoing in an interview with the state-run Sunday Mail.
He told the weekly that he was afraid of rotting in jail but promised to
return to Zimbabwe as soon as documents and details absolving him of any
wrongdoing were forwarded to the relevant authorities.
A Harare man linked to companies involving Butau on Monday pleaded guilty to
charges of illegally dealing in foreign currency involving more than $2,1
According to court documents, Joseph Manjoro, a finance and administration
executive with Clarion Insurance, was contracted by Flatwater Investments to
source foreign currency from individuals and the diaspora to procure
tractors for the Reserve Bank for the government's Agricultural
Manjoro allegedly transferred some of the money to companies linked to
Butau, Squareaxe, which received $575 billion through its ZB Bank account
while Nyamasoka Farm received $262,5 billion through CBZ Bank.
The transfers are suspected to have been for the foreign currency he bought.
President Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba, this week accused Britain of
harbouring criminals fleeing from Zimbabwe.
"The criminals follow the sponsor," Charamba was quoted as saying.
"Increasingly, it's becoming apparent that we are no longer talking about
mere economic crime, we are talking about economic subversion that has the
blessings of foreign interests. When you follow the footsteps of criminals
and indicted persons this suggests a new geography of crime, which connects
Zimbabwe to Britain, Australia, the United States and New Zealand. And it so
happens that these are exactly the same countries, which take a negative
stance against Zimbabwe's politics of land reform," he said.
Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono, has accused officials in ZANU PF and the
government of fuelling the black market where the world’s major trading
currencies are readily available.
Gono went as far as inviting legislators to summon him to Parliament to
disclose the names of ZANU PF, business and government officials he
described as cash barons behind black market dealings.
Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief
BULAWAYO — Parliamentary and presidential elections are only weeks away. But
ZANU-PF heavyweights from Bulawayo must be dreading them because they could
spell the end of their political careers.
Politburo members and Cabinet ministers from the city have not won any
parliamentary seats since the formation of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) nearly a decade ago but have up to now survived on
President Robert Mugabe’s patronage.
Under the previous constitutional provisions the president appointed 10
non-constituency members of the lower house and six senators.
Those who have benefited under this dispensation include party chairman John
Nkomo, Information Minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, Small and Medium Enterprises
Minister Sithembiso Nyoni and politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa, who, though
out of government, is considered the most powerful person in the former ZAPU
after Vice-President Joseph Msika.
President Mugabe’s powers have now been trimmed. He now only appoints five
senators but no longer appoints any members of the House of Assembly.
Observers say the political careers of the politburo members and ministers
now hang in the balance, as they will have to find constituencies of their
own. But they stand virtually no chance of winning because the city is a
stronghold of the MDC.
To make matters worse, all four were said to be in the wrong camp as they
were thought to be among those who were against the endorsement of President
Mugabe as the presidential candidate in this year’s elections. They are all
outspoken critics of war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda who is
spearheading President Mugabe’s re-election campaign.
War veterans from Bulawayo, who have won all party provincial elections
since the death of former vice-president Joshua Nkomo, have been at
loggerheads with the senior party officials because they believe the senior
officials want to impose executives of their own.
Executives led by war veterans have invariably been dissolved and have never
completed their terms.
Last year Bulawayo province was the last to elect a substantive provincial
executive, only days before the special congress, because of bickering
between two factions - Petition, loyal to politburo members and Ghodhi to
Though the Petition faction won at the end of the day, the war veterans
scored a major victory when President Mugabe was endorsed.
The two sides have differed mostly over tactics for the survival of the
party in Matabeleland where the majority of the people are against President
Mugabe and have shifted their allegiance to the MDC. War veterans insist
there should be a new leadership that is loyal to the ruling ZANU-PF and
should be completely divorced from the former ZAPU.
They also argue that the Gukurahundi issue, which saw thousands of civilians
killed in Matabeleland and the Midlands, should be buried for good as it is
only being used to divide the nation.
The old guard, however, is reported to be still harbouring thoughts that
since ZANU-PF was a merger of two parties — ZANU-PF and ZAPU — and President
Mugabe’s ZANU-PF has been in power since; it is now ZAPU’s turn to take
“Their day of reckoning is fast approaching,” one war veteran said. “Up to
now they have been shielded by President Mugabe. Now they must show whether
they have the support of the people or not. If they lose the elections, that
could be their end. We are not going to rest because the party congress is
not far off. It will be held next year. We want to make sure no one derails
the party this time.”
Civil society activist and executive director of Bulawayo agenda Gorden Moyo
believes that it is a foregone conclusion that President Mugabe will win the
presidential elections. He has already made sure of that by bulldozing his
way over the opposition, which is increasingly giving in to various
amendments railroaded through parliament to save face.
Moyo, however, says President Mugabe’s victory would be hollow if he is not
able to turn around the country’s ailing economy, now in its eighth year of
recession. President Mugabe is desperate for a way out and is likely to
ditch his lieutenants from Bulawayo because they are now excess baggage.
Instead, he might incorporate the opposition and form a government of
national unity to legitimise his government.
“Word on the grapevine is that (President) Mugabe might opt for a government
of national unity that will take in both leaders of the opposition MDC,”
Moyo said. “One could be elevated to vice-president and the other to
president of the senate.”
President Mugabe could then call for an end to economic sanctions, which
though allegedly targeted at individuals, have done untold damage to the
Moyo said the three contending parties were closer to agreement than most
people thought. His argument seems to be backed by recent events, which have
seen Constitutional Amendment Number 18, which allows for a smoother
succession and increases both sizes of the house and senate sailing through
with support from the opposition.
The opposition did not stand in the way of amendments to the Public Order
and Security Act, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
and the Broadcasting Services Act.
Finding a political and economic solution to the country’s problems would be
the icing on the cake for President Mugabe’s 28-year reign and would allow
him to retire with dignity.
Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter
Pledges to support ‘labour-friendly’ candidates from across the divide
ZIMBABWE’S main labour body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)
this week said it had resolved to throw its full weight behind “labour
friendly” candidates in parliamentary and senate elections scheduled for
The ZCTU said it would back the candidates in order to influence the
enactment of friendly policies to benefit the country’s embattled workers.
The majority of Zimbabwe’s workers, who are heavily taxed, earn incomes far
below the poverty datum line.
“We resolved to support labour friendly people, whether they are from
ZANU-PF or the Movement for Democratic Change, to be elected as MPs (Members
of Parliament) because we want labour friendly laws,” Wellington Chibebe,
the ZCTU secretary general, said.
Chibebe told The Financial Gazette that trade unionists had agreed at a
strategic meeting in December that Zimbabwe should follow the example of
other countries that have supported the election of politicians sympathetic
to the cause of workers.
“Some countries have followed this route. We have seen that there are some
untouchable politicians who are both MPs and business people. When they are
in parliament they don’t promote the welfare of workers but they come up
with unfriendly policies,” Chibebe said.
Last year, the ZCTU declared it was high time everyone, including the
country’s ruling elite and employers, bore the brunt of the escalating
economic crisis, which has hitherto only affected the poor.
“Time is high to share the effects of the economic meltdown. It is also time
to disclose executives’ perks,” Chibebe recently told a gathering of
business executives in the capital.
“You live and swim in luxury, paying selected workers in foreign currency.
This will create serious labour relations problems because it is
discrimination. Managers become Americans while workers remain Zimbabweans,
rural Zimbabweans for that matter. How can we have a situation where you
earn $1 billion but someone is earning $50 million? Five kilogrammes of meat
cost $50 million,” Chibebe charged.
He expressed grave concern over the country’s tax regime.
“The highest tax is 47 percent, NSSA three percent, AIDS Levy three percent
and VAT 17 percent, leaving workers with only 30 percent. Business is lucky
because you are only taxed 30 percent tax. We have seen that business and
government’s attitude is the same. As we speak, Zimbabwe’s wages are equal
to 1975 levels. That is why we have adopted the polepole (go slow). If you
have never heard about it ask government,” Chibebe said.
In South Africa the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) has been
influential in the election of Jacob Zuma as the leader of the ruling
African National Congress, strategically positioning him as the next
president of that country.
But unlike the ZCTU, COSATU holds more clout in that workers overwhelmingly
support most of its job actions.
The ZCTU’s influence has been diluted by perennial clashes with the
government, which sees it as advancing the interests of the MDC.
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
IN a move smacking of unbridled self-interest, Senate President and ZANU-PF
Politburo member, Edna Madzongwe,wants the Minister of Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa to address the on-going magistrate’s
strike to allow outstanding land cases before the courts to be concluded.
Madzongwe asked the Minister of Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, Didymus
Mutasa at a meeting held last month at Makombe government offices to
convince Chinamasa to address the grievances that sparked the magistrates’
strike so that land cases before the courts could be finalised and those
holding offer letters could occupy farms and start producing.
Madzongwe has a vested interest in the matter because she wants to take over
Stockdale Farm owned by Richard Thomas Etheridge, who was granted a
spoliation order by the High Court in November barring her from interfering
with operations at the farm.
Madzongwe wants the courts to expedite the finalisation of land cases so
that she can take over Stockdale farm.
Madzongwe asked Mutasa at the same meeting if offer letters issued to
individuals wishing to occupy disputed farms would be nullified.
She said the drawn-out strike by magistrates was “affecting those who want
to move onto the farms and produce.”
The Senate President insisted that the Ministry of Lands, Land Reform and
Resettlement engage the Attorney General and persuade him to expedite these
court cases so that new beneficiaries can occupy farms in time for the
The Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs does not, however,
appear to be in a position to tackle the industrial action after telling the
striking magistrates that there would be no pay increases to match their
demands because government could not afford to pay such salary scales.
The magistrates are demanding salaries of more than $100 million per month
Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief
BULAWAYO — The country's second largest city is still experiencing water
problems, this time not because the dams are empty but because the local
authority does not have enough chemicals to treat the water.
Council spokesman Pathisa Nyathi said the city's supply dams had received
significant inflows but supplies were sometimes cut because of a shortage of
water treatment chemicals.
"We were not supplying water, particularly to the eastern suburbs, from
Friday last week until New Year's day because we had run out of aluminium
sulphate," Nyathi said.
He said six chemicals were used to purify the water but the council had not
been able to access one of these.
He said the main constraint was the price the council must pay for the
outstanding chemical as the local authority's regular supplier would only
reopen later this month after shutting down for the festive season.
"Our regular supplier was charging us $541 000 a kg but we are currently
being charged just over $5 million a kg," Nyathi said.
He said the council had been bailed out by a local conglomerate, which
purchased 30 tonnes of aluminium sulphate but this was only enough for six
Nyathi said normally the council stockpiles the chemical so that it has
sufficient supplies during the festive period when the major supplier does
not operate during the annual shutdown. This time, however, the council had
not been able to build up any stocks because of the delays, first by the
government and then by the pricing commission, in approving its
supplementary budget. The budget was only approved in November.
Nyathi said while it is the western suburbs that are usually worst affected,
this time it was the eastern suburbs that were hardest hit because supplies
to the western suburbs were augmented by 4 000 cubic metres per day from the
He stressed that although the supply situation had improved, water rationing
was still in force.
Njabulo Ncube Political Editor
Talks between the ruling ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) have reached a deadlock over what MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai,
describes as the ruling party's backtracking on critical issues agreed under
the Southern African Development Community (SADC) mediation initiative led
by President Thabo Mbeki.
MDC insiders said yesterday that Mbeki had been informed of the impasse.
"There is a deadlock ," said Nelson Chamisa, the spokesman for the
Tsvangirai MDC faction. His counterpart in the Arthur Mutambara camp,
Gabriel Chaibva, however declined to shed any light on the issue. "I can't
comment on the talks," he said.
Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube, the opposition negotiators in the SADC
initiative and Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche, the ZANU-PF pointmen ,
were not available to comment as their respective offices said they were
still on holiday.
But in his New Year message to the people of Zimbabwe, Tsvangirai said the
talks were deadlocked over two main sticking points : the need for a
transitional constitution and an election date.
"An unhelpful development has begun to creep in and we are deadlocked on key
issues that should enable us to cross the bridge into a new era," said
"In spite of the mess we are forced to live with today, ZANU-PF has begun to
backtrack on some of these agreed points and is going it alone."
President Mugabe has rejected demands for a new people-driven constitution,
claiming that the opposition lost the chance when it campaign against a new
constitution during the February 2000 referendum.
At the ZANU-PF special congress in December last year President Mugabe
announced that harmonised elections would be held in March "without fail."
But Tsvangirai said it was too soon to hold presidential, senate and local
government elections on a single day in March as there were still
outstanding issues to thrash out such as the state of the voters roll, the
composition of the electoral commission and the role of international
observers in the polls.
"They want to force an election in March with cosmetic reforms and still rig
the outcome through a flawed process. That will not happen," he said, adding
that more work was needed to put the voters' rolls in order and normalise
the "historically" disputed electoral management system before any
legitimate election, with a legitimate result, could take place.
"We maintain that an election is impossible in the next 100 days, in March
2008. We agreed on the need for an independent electoral commission whose
task is to register voters, delimit constituencies, bar the military and the
police from direct involvement in elections and run the entire election."
Tsvangirai said the opposition settled on the transitional constitution
following assurances that the agreement would be implemented before the next
"But ZANU-PF is now against the spirit and content of that agreement,
insisting instead that the transitional constitution can only be implemented
after the election. This is unacceptable," he said.
Tsvangirai said the pace at which the transitional constitution was to be
implemented would determined the election date.
"If we are serious about Zimbabwe's future and an election whose process and
result are endorsed by all political players and the people of Zimbabwe,
then we have to follow correct protocols and procedures."
He said the transitional constitution already agreed to was essential in
that it would give the country and political actors enough time to set up
the requisite infrastructure for a sound electoral management system, codes
for good governance and a human rights regimen before the polls.
He said some key factors were necessary to spur confidence, redirect the
people towards a national solution, regenerate hope and rally the nation to
unite in handling the national crisis.
"As things stand today,(President) Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF are merely
stringing us along , when on the ground they are already moving ahead with
their plan: selectively picking up points of agreement and shoving them on
the country in a piece-meal manner to present a picture of reform, at home
and in SADC."
Tsvangirai said President Mugabe intended to mislead SADC into believing
that a lasting political solution was on the cards.
Tsvangirai said if the deadlock could not be broken, the opposition had
other options to force ZANU-PF to implement the outstanding issues from the
"The year 2008 provides us with abundant opportunities for a permanent
solution to the national crisis," he said.
The Financial Gazette asked key industrial players what they thought about
the country’s economic prospects in 2008. Here are their views:
President, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries
"If you ask from the dead you receive death and if you ask from the living
you receive life.
Jesus is life, the way and the truth. 2008 belongs to Jesus. Politics and
business in 2008 has to be done according to what Jesus said and if we do
that we will succeed.
“If we do not seek oneness centered on the fear of God we will fail.
"We did not perform well as a country in 2007. We had more major drawbacks
than before. But as a country I think we have learnt from our mistakes.
“The private sector made mistakes, the government made mistakes. Now the
question might be which mistakes did we make? These were the incoherent
policies, which had nothing to do with what is on the ground.
“For example, we tried to stop the parallel market but it became worse. We
tried to stop the increases in the price of goods and services but prices
“What needs to be done is simple and straightforward.
“The private sector and government have to move together and formulate
policies that conform with what is happening on the ground."
Chipo Mtasa CEO, Rainbow Tourism Group and
president, Zimbabwe Council for Tourism:
"The good thing is the increase in the number of tourist arrivals as
reflected by statistics from private companies.
“We are also excited by the interest that has been shown by government in
the tourism industry, especially the introduction of the Tourism Development
“We remain positive that things are beginning to happen in the tourism
industry, even though the arrivals have been concentrated in the Victoria
“Because of the upcoming World Cup, major investors are likely to take firm
“There could be a lot of positive developments starting in 2008. What we
need to do is have more airlines coming into Zimbabwe.
“The pulling out of the British Airways was really a low point for us."
Paul Matamisa CEO, Zimbabwe Council for Tourism:
"We are very positive. The tourism industry together with the Zimbabwe
Tourism Authority and the government have invested well on the product. We
feel it is now time for us to reap the benefits of that investment.
"It is time for us to grow as an industry. It is time to expand. Remember
there is the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.
“The scouts will soon be coming to southern Africa to see what preparations
we have made here and to recommend, which countries’ football teams can camp
"We have suffered tremendously since 2000. What we must now do is to look at
things that take us to 2010.
“If I say 2010 I mean we should not just look at the World Cup tournament.
Investment must look beyond 2010.
“What will happen in 2025 for example when we decide to host the World Cup
ourselves? When we have an opportunity like this we must thoroughly
capitalise on it.
"What we must really look at is our infrastructure. For the roads it is no
longer a matter of patching them up but completely resurfacing them.
“The Harare-Beigtbridge Road, a key link that brings foreign tourists and
goods into the country is too narrow.
“The dualisation process must be speeded up. The same must be done with the
Harare-Bulawayo and the Harare-Mutare Road. That is an important road that
links the country with the ports in Beira and Maputo.
“We are told expansion of the Bulawayo Airport is now 80 percent complete
but 80 percent does not mean 100 percent."
CEO Chamber of Mines:
"It is not going to be a good year at all. We listened to the Minister of
Finance (Samuel Mumbengegwi) but we do not agree with what he said.
“Unless there are fundamental changes it is going to be impossible to meet
(gold production) targets unless the exchange rate is sorted out and the
issue of payments especially for gold mines is addressed."
Secretary general, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions:
"The year 2008 will be more difficult than 2007.
“This is because towards the end of 2007 the political leadership, including
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, had run out of ideas.
“Instead of resolving real issues they are busy chasing after individuals."
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has pulled off a number of spectacular political
tricks to survive as head of state for 28 years.
One of his most famous tactics is to deny any responsibility for the decade
of economic crisis the country has struggled under.
The difficulties are all due to sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe by the
European Union (EU) and the United States is the government mantra.
Europe slapped targeted sanctions on government and ruling party officials
after Zimbabwe threw out EU elections monitor, Pierre Schori, in 2002, a
year after the US enacted the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act.
The sanctions target top ruling ZANU PF officials, their businesses and
companies and individuals associated with the ruling party.
Under the embargo, state officials are barred from travelling to the US,
Europe and Australia unless they are on official United Nations business.
The assets of those on the sanctions list are supposed to be frozen,
although no property has yet been seized.
The rationale for the imposition of targeted sanctions was to force the
Zimbabwean government to reform.
But they are now said to be achieving the opposite.
As the prospects for Zimbabwe’s economic recovery continue to decline, these
sanctions seem to be squeezing life out of the ordinary person, and
hardening the government’s position.
“These sanctions, whether smart or dirty, are definitely worsening the
people’s suffering,” Godwills Masimirembwa, a pro-ZANU PF commentator who
heads the national pricing commission, said in what has become the standard
To what extent the prevailing economic crisis can be attributed to the
sanctions is a topic that sparks heated debate among Zimbabweans.
Critics accuse President Mugabe’s government of trying to hide behind the
finger and using sanctions to mask its glaring incompetence.
They said much of the suffering visiting Zimbabweans today are a result of
government’s policy failures and its angry-mob-economic policies.
Critics cite the example of the agrarian reforms, which saw inexperienced
and poorly funded black farmers replace about 3 500 white commercial farmers
who were behind the regional bread basked tag earned by the country prior
the emotive land reforms of 2000. Since then, agricultural production, which
anchors the country’s economy, has suffered a heavy knock.
The controversial price controls of July 2007 when businesses were forced to
slash prices by half are yet another example of government’s self-inflicted
The controls have seen products disappear from the supermarket shelves.
“Every policy has intended and unintended consequences. The sanctions have
had unintended consequences for the ordinary person. They are, however, also
having an effect on the targeted people. They were never meant to impoverish
the targeted individuals but mainly to embarrass and humiliate,” said
University of Zimbabwe political scientist Eldred Masunungure.
“Zimbabwean political leaders are suffering the psychological effect of the
sanctions. A case in point is the EU-Africa summit, whose attendance should
be automatic for a state leader like (President) Mugabe. To have his
attendance put to debate was surely embarrassing.”
There have been increasing calls for the softening of the Western stance on
Zimbabwe, even from avowed ZANU PF critics.
The Crisis Group International recently called for the lifting of sanctions
as one possible way of resolving the crisis.
But Western attitudes seem entrenched. In September last year, the
Australian government began deporting the children of Zimbabwean officials
studying in that country.
This riled the ruling ZANU PF elite, that one of them confronted opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai to accuse him of being responsible for the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono, in his monetary policy
presentation in Octoberlast year, said the sanctions were like a blunt
instrument hurting large numbers of people who are not the intended target.
He said Zimbabwe’s balance of payments position has deteriorated
significantly since 2000 because of the combined effects of inadequate
export performance and reduced capital inflows.
As a result, Zimbabwe’s foreign exchange reserves declined from US$830
million in 1996, representing three months import cover, to less than one
month’s cover by 2006.
Health and education are among some of Zimbabwe’s critical sectors that have
been hardest hit.
Western donors suspended funding for social programmes that are supposed to
benefit the poor. To make matters worse, Zimbabwe has been struggling to get
funding for its AIDS response programmes from the Global Fund to fight
malaria, TB and HIV/AIDS.
“Zimbabwe’s applications for grants for HIV/AIDS programmes were rejected
for unspecified reasons. Consequently, Zimbabwe was unable to expand and
roll out anti-retroviral drug distribution programmes to rural areas,” Gono
Gono himself was barred from travelling to the UK in August.
But political analyst John Makumbe said despite hurting the ordinary person,
sanctions were serving their purpose.
“They are hitting the right target. I know two ministers who could not
attend their daughters’ weddings because of the travel ban. They were really
hurt and despite their statements to the contrary, you can see them fuming
at London. (President) Mugabe is now talking to the MDC (Movement for
Democratic Change), something he once vowed never to do.”
The US insists the sanctions it has imposed are not meant to hurt ordinary
“Unlike, for instance, South Africa under the apartheid regime, the US does
not have generalised sanctions against Zimbabwe. The US sanctions list
targets the roughly 170 individuals most responsible for the demise of
Zimbabwe’s democracy and its prosperity,” said Paul Engelstad, public
affairs officer at the US Embassy in Harare.
The US would continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Zimbabweans, he
In September last year, the American government said it was looking for ways
to tighten existing sanctions and was considering, among other things,
revoking student visas and expelling dozens of children of government
officials studying in that country.
But it seems it is the Zimbabwe government that is winning the propaganda
battle over sanctions, as shown by the criticism of the embargo by the
Southern African Development Community.
Aware of this regional sentiment, ZANU PF has made a demand for the MDC to
call for the lifting of sanctions one of the conditions for the conducting
of talks between the two parties.
THE cash crisis persisted this week despite the central bank scrapping plans
to demonetise the $200 000 denomination notes and injecting an additional
$33 trillion into the banking system.
Lengthy banking queues remained a common feature at all banking halls, with
the bigger institutions, particularly Barclays Bank (Zimbabwe), being the
Some banks had however, started feeding notes into their ATMs, easing
pressure in the banking halls where restive clients vowed to keep their
money due to increasing difficulties faced in withdrawing their money for
But cash from the ATMs was quickly getting spent because of the huge demand.
An earlier drawback in the Real Time Gross Settlement System (RTGS), an
electronic payment system now commonly used to beat the cash crunch, was
cleared after bankers said the central bank had acknowledged it was causing
more inconvenience to depositors and hence resulting in increased pressure
for hard notes.
Banks had started requesting a number of details for all RTGS payments,
including invoices for recipients of payments.
“That glitch has been cleared,” a source told The Financial Gazette,
indicating that RTGS payments were now being processed “without questions
“Banking should be about convenience and the governor understood that,” the
Central bank governor Gideon Gono said the $200 000 note, which he had said
would cease to be legal tender by mid night on the last day of 2007, had
been re-instated and would remain legal tender.
When he announced the phasing out of the $200 000 notes, which he said was
the anchor note for cash barons fuelling the black market, Gono introduced
$750,000, $500,000 and $250,000 notes.
Gono said the bulk of the country’s currency was outside the banking system.
He said $65 trillion of the $67 trillion the central bank had injected into
the economy was unaccounted for in the banking sector.
It was not clear how much of that money had been brought back into the
formal banking system before the reversal of the planned phase out, but Gono
indicated that daily deposits with banks had increased during the phase out
period, “with most high volume cash handlers in the commercial chain once
again being visible on the deposit counters”.
He remarked: “This lent credence to the central bank’s earlier point that
some sections of the business community were culpable in aggravating the
cash shortages through hoarding cash, later selling it outside the formal
AFTER years of extreme hardships, Zimbabweans are entering the current year
with a lot of anticipation. From whichever angle one looks at, the past 12
months, in particular, have been the worst in the history of the country.
The World Bank, which controls the financial levers in third world
economies, has been candid in its assessment of the crisis that has dimmed
prospects for what could have been “the Jewel of Africa” when the
Washington-based lender said Zimbabwe’s economic woes were unprecedented for
a country not at war.
The International Crisis Group also weighed in, ominously likening the
eight-year-long recession to that of the Democratic Republic of Congo at the
end of Mobutu Sese Seko’s iron-fisted rule, which lasted for 32 years.
Not even under Ian Smith’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence did the
country go through such excruciating economic shocks, which have reduced the
once-prosperous nation into a basket case.
Under the circumstances, it is only natural that Zimbabweans from all walks
of life would want to forget in a flash the experiences of the past and
remain hopeful that the “land of milk and honey” they were promised during
the protracted struggle for independence would become a reality anytime
Grievious crimes have been committed against the country’s economy, spawning
the current crisis that has pauperised 80 percent of the country’s
Gideon Gono, the Reserve Bank governor on Monday wished the current rains
would wash away all the wrongs pushing farther his dream of reviving the
economy. True, it is everyone’s wish that 2008 would mark a return to
But a new beginning would require that those vested with the powers to
manage the country’s affairs get real – first, by correctly diagnosing
Zimbabwe’s problems and avoiding half-measures.
Incorrect diagnosis of the ills that have seen the country being ranked
along Somalia and Chad, according to the failed states index, can result in
wrong solutions being prescribed to remedy the situation, as has happened in
For as long as the powers-that-be are in denial, blaming everyone else
except themselves for sabotaging the economy, the next 11 months might be
equally gruelling for the country.
There has been so much finger pointing in the past and inaction on the part
of those who should be in the forefront of implementing government
And yet the cancer of corruption, which can be traced back to top
politicians and civil servants, who are taking advantage of arbitrage
opportunities, has been left to devour all the gains achieved in
industrialising the country’s agro-based economy.
The politics of the country has been one big animal standing out like a sore
thumb in efforts to resuscitate the waning economic fortunes.
Politicians from rival ZANU-PF camps and from the opposition are competing
to throw spanners in the works for cheap political gain, disregarding the
plight of the people whom they must serve.
Politics has had an overbearing influence over economic matters and because
of the huge weight placed on it; confidence in the economy has been blown
out of the window as evidenced by the drying up of foreign investments.
Not even the Zimbabweans themselves have the confidence in their own country
hence the country is fast being reduced into a warehouse economy.
The symptoms of this lack of confidence are there for all too see with
inflation having topped 24,000 percent. Four out of five Zimbabweans are out
of employment with a quarter of the country’s population now living in the
diaspora in search for greener pastures.
Critical sectors such as health and education are in a state of collapse,
paralysed by the shortages of drugs and equipment caused by poor funding.
The next two months are unlikely to result in any policy shift, as the
ruling party is likely to forge ahead with its disastrous populist policies
to win the March elections at all cost.
Despite committing themselves to the Southern African Development Community
(SADC) talks both factions of the Movement for Democratic Change appear
determined to frustrate ZANU-PF machinations to legitimise its rule disputed
in previous elections.
The SADC effort is already in danger, more so with chief negotiator
President Thabo Mbeki’s political future in jeopardy after losing the
African National Congress presidency to his rival Jacob Zuma in December.
The fact that the cash shortages have failed to respond to the RBZ’s recent
interventions shows how entrenched and stubborn the economic misalignments
have become and the grim months lying ahead.
With the excessive heavy rains destroying crops in some parts of the country
and threatening to reduce yields, the future is not looking good.
But all hope should not be lost though. After the March elections, whichever
party is voted into office will need to set the tone for economic revival
and the starting point will be to restore confidence in the economy.
One of the enduring images of the invasion of Iraq by America and its allies
in 2003 is of the country’s minister of information, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf’s
reality-defying antics during his daily media briefings.
Clad in military fatigues, the diminutive propagandist became one of the
most recognisable figures to global television audiences because of the
outrageous statements he made about the war, which were designed to portray
the complete opposite of what was happening.
Although the aim was to project Iraq and its despotic leader Saddam Hussein
as infallible and invincible, the minister only managed to make a caricature
of himself. Against a background of advancing American tanks, maybe only 100
metres from where he would be holding forth and the sound of gun shots
piercing the air, “Comical Ali” as Saeed al-Sahaf came to be known, would
declare: “There are no American infidels in Baghdad. Never.”
For going to such unusual lengths to deny reality, Saeed al-Sahaf was
regarded as the funniest man in the world and was named “Stupidest person in
the world” at the annual World Stupdity Awards in Canada. He richly deserved
the accolade for such statements as: “They fled. The American louts fled.
Indeed concerning the fighting waged by the heroes of the Arab Socialist
Baath Party yesterday, one amazing thing really is the cowardice of American
soldiers. We had not anticipated this.” Asked in the later stages of the
conflict: “Is Saddam Hussein still alive?”, he snarled, “I will only answer
The only reason on whose basis Saeed al-Sahaf could be excused for his
extravagant fabrications and exaggerations was that he was operating in a
war situation. But what excuse does South Africa’s deputy defence minister,
Mluleki George, who has been nicknamed “comical Ali” by the media have, for
a similar refusal to read the writing on the wall regarding South African
president Thabo Mbeki’s unpopularity?. George is reported by the South
African media to have been Mbeki’s main lobbyist prior to the ANC conference
in Polokwane a fortnight ago, which proved to be the South African President’s
Waterloo when he was heavily defeated by Jacob Zuma in the battle to head
the ruling party. George was responsible for raising false hopes that
despite an unmistakable tsunami of anti-Mbeki sentiment blowing from
provincial structures in the run-up to the conference, things would turn
around and he would prevail in Polokwane.
Like a true “comical Ali”, George was undaunted when the inevitable happened
and Mbeki and members of his administration were booted out of the ANC
National Executive Committee en masse. He told the Sunday Times after Mbeki’s
humiliation; “The leadership is saying ‘thanks for the support.’ They are
not demoralised. We know these things happen in the struggle.” Just as Saeed
al-Sahaf continued insisting that Iraq would not fall apart while scurrying
for cover from American bombs exploding overhead, George denied the evidence
of his own eyes in the hour of Mbeki’s ouster as ANC president. “What
worried me is that after the results were announced , you still found people
singing those (pro-Zuma songs). It was unfortunate but we will march
forward,” the Sunday Times quoted him as saying.
After seven straight years of government by propaganda in this country,
which began with the arrival on the political scene of a certain learned
professor in 2000, Zimbabweans are well aware that we have our own “comical
Ali’s” whose aim is to befuddle the nation by assaulting our senses with
endless spin, outright fabrications and incomprehensible actions. Some of
these tactics almost border on the crude methods used by the Gestapo to
break down resistance among prisoners.
Zimbabweans have been reduced to a condition of helplessness in which the
powers-that-be now have absolute powers to do as they please and damn the
consequences. Zimbabwe is not at war as far as everyone can tell, but we
have been bombarded with a torrent of rhetoric on how this country has
defeated the British and their American cousins. The latest victory against
Britain was proclaimed after the European Union-African Summit in Lisbon
But with ordinary Zimbabweans continuing to fight a losing battle against
hyperinflation and a host of other politically-created odds stacked against
them, it is impossible to see what purpose these “conquests” serve. They
neither reduce poverty, unemployment and food shortages nor revive collapsed
institutions such as schools, universities and hospitals, which are all in a
state of dilapidation. Very few Zimbabweans can claim to have spent this
festive season feeling like citizens of a winning nation.
They cannot help but feel that while the government records “victories” in
its phantom wars with foreign powers, the casualties are ordinary
Zimbabweans back home. It is doubtful that ordinary Britons and Americans
are experiencing any repercussions as a result of their countries’ supposed
defeat by Zimbabwe.
In the Zimbabwean context, these fights with external powers are a case of
outright self-flagellation. They do not provide any solutions to problems
and felt needs at home. They simply highlight how personal whim and the
refusal to face realities have replaced recognized and acceptable
governmental and institutional practice.
The monetary authorities have often warned of unintended consequences in
“wars” the government has waged against some perceived enemies and alleged
economic saboteurs. However, the confusion that surrounded the possession,
withdrawal and banking of $200 000 bearer cheques over the last two weeks
turned into a war that extinguished the spirit of Christmas throughout the
That is because in declaring war against the ‘cash barons’ who were said to
be hoarding the money, the central bank aimed its slings and arrows at the
masses who were supposed to be the main beneficiaries of the intervention.
Confusion reigned for more than a week as the povo were exhorted to
surrender all the $200 000 notes in their possession so that they could get
the new $250 000, $500 000 and $750 000 denominations. The trouble was,
banks did not have enough of the new notes and thousands of people either
left empty-handed or were saddled with the same old $200 000 notes after
languishing in queues for hours. Bitter questions were asked as to why the
cash-strapped masses were required to surrender their “peanuts” when it was
the fat cats who were supposed to have stashed away the bulk of the $65
trillion that had vanished from circulation.
And then after all this hullabaloo, an announcement was made on Monday, the
deadline for surrendering the notes, that the $200 000 bearer cheques would
continue to be legal tender after all. Throughout that last day people who
were unaware of the new development spent their $200 000 notes in
supermarkets on items they did not even need just so that they could put the
money to some use. Most of these people had saved the money at great
personal sacrifice to pay fees and related expenses when schools re-open in
just over a week’s time. And now they are back to square one.
Was the central bank’s crackdown a victory or a farce? Saeed al-Sahaf’s
Zimbabwean counterparts will definitely emulate the man who declared, as
defeat became more and more inevitable in Baghdad : “Faltering forces of
infidels cannot just enter a country of 26 million people and lay besiege
(sic) to them.They are the ones who will find themselves under siege.” In
Zimbabwe, unfortunately , it is the masses who always find themselves at the
mercy of the establishment.
The market has been once again plunged into a quandary due to the lack of
official inflation statistics as accountants started laying the groundwork
for the preparation of December year-end results.
The Central Statistical Office (CSO), the government agency that compiles
inflation data, has not released inflation figures since August, when the
rate crossed the 8 000 percent mark.
It made a similar decision earlier this year when it stopped announcing
inflation figures for May, June and July, plunging the economy into chaos
until a last minute announcement of the figures by the central bank to allow
financial institutions to compile inflation adjusted statements for the June
News agency reports quoted the CSO’s acting director Moffat Nyoni in
November saying they were not ready to release inflation figures for October
because commodity shortages had affected the collection and calculation
“I am afraid the figures are not yet ready, and they may not be available
for a while,” Nyoni said.
“We have some problems – a computing problem – in that we have to find a
formula of measuring prices of goods, some of which are not available on the
(formal) market and which are in short supply in the economy,” he said.
Business executives, accountants and individual investors rely on inflation
figures to deal with escalating budgets.
Most business’ budgets are inflation-linked and the decision to withhold
inflation figures has plunged them into a planning chaos.
Companies with December year-ends are likely to find it difficult to comply
with a Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) requirement to produce inflation
adjusted financial results, as there are no official inflation statistics
for October, November and December.
Moreover, the performance of the companies has traditionally been judged by
how much earnings and profits had overtaken average inflation during the
Accountants could be forced to ignore the requirement for inflation
adjustment of financial results, although this would be unlikely without
authority from regulatory authorities.
The absence of official inflation statistics presents accountants with
difficulties in implementing International Accounting Standard 29, which
states that in a hyperinflationary economy financial statements should be
based on inflation-adjusted figures rather than historical cost figures,
which in a hyperinflationary situation are held to be misleading.
Implementation of the standard has proved controversial in Zimbabwe, where
at last year’s Institue of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (ICAZ) winter
school some delegates questioned the rationale for inflation-adjusted
figures when some companies that were surviving and even thriving were, in
terms of inflation-adjusted figures, running at a loss.
However, ICAZ, which is a member of the International Federation of
Accountants, the body that issues the international standards, has thrown
its weight behind compliance with the standard. It believes not only that
compliance with all International Financial Reporting Standards is important
but also that inflation-adjusted figures more accurately reflect reality in
Zimbabwe’s present high inflation environment than historical cost figures.
Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S tourism industry has been hard hit by the flight of qualified
personnel and general workers who have joined teachers, nurses, doctors,
mining industry technicians and other professionals fleeing the country’s
escalating economic crisis.
The brain drain has been instigated by the massive decline in the quality of
life caused by collapsing real incomes, high taxation, shortages of basic
commodities, shrinking freedoms and rights, pessimistic views about the
future and poor policies that have destroyed the middle class, analysts
In a recent interview with The Financial Gazette, Zimbabwe Council for
Tourism (ZCT) president Chipo Mtasa said the brain drain had reached
alarming levels in the sector and captains were scrounging around for
Mtasa, who is also the chief executive officer of the Rainbow Tourism Group
(RTG) said the ultimate solution to the staff crisis would be for government
to extend the Skills Retention Fund unveiled by the central bank last year
to the leisure industry.
Private sector statistics indicated that occupancy rates in hotels had
increased from less than 20 percent in 2005 to between 28 and 35 percent in
But Mtasa said the flight of professionals could reverse the gains.
“We are losing trained people,” Mtasa told The Financial Gazette.
“I think the Skills Retention Fund should be extended to the tourism
industry,” she said, adding that contrary to industry perceptions, the
fleeing workers were not only seeking refugee status in neighbouring South
Africa but across the world.
“It is not only in South Africa (where they are going), they are going
everywhere,” she told this newspaper.
She could not immediately provide figures but industry estimates indicate
that at least 10 000 professional guides, managers, chefs and front office
personnel and other workers had left the country to take up employment in
Mozambique, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya and other
African countries registering buoyant tourist arrivals.
Others have migrated to the west.
An estimated 3,1 million Zimbabweans are believed to be working in other
countries with 37 percent of them in the United Kingdom, 35 percent in
Botswana, five percent in South Africa while 3,4 percent are estimated to be
residing in Canada.
Independent figures indicated that about 25 percent of these professionals
were in the medical field, 26 percent were teachers, 23 percent were
engineers while 17 percent were accountants.
Of these, 62 percent of them resigned from their jobs while 38 percent did
not resign, and 62 percent had indicated that they were prepared to return
to Zimbabwe should the worsening economic situation improve.
Abut 40 000 mining industry professionals are estimated to have fled in the
Make cash crisis history, use e-commerce
EDITOR — I wonder why we scratch our heads trying to solve the cash
shortages. The solution lies in e-commerce.
Most countries now use credit cards to avert the issue of money laundering.
Who needs to carry trunk-loads of useless cash when you can just use a
credit card for shopping?
Some countries even accept credit card payments to pay taxes! Don't try to
fool us with this hullabaloo about cash shortages. Tava kukuzivai maitiro
enyu (we now know you fully well).
Banks (including the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe) are responsible for the cash
crisis and they want this problem to continue. On my short visit to OK
supermarket, I once used my VISA card, and guess what, I was charged at the
official exchange rate!
The whole nation is on a travel ban
EDITOR — Western countries preach a lot about human rights and freedoms,
including freedom to travel, but what is happening at their embassies when
people seek to apply for visas for their parents and siblings is not in line
I am a citizen of Zimbabwe with permanent residence in the United States,
but my mother who is in her late 70's was denied a visa to pay me a visit.
She was told verbally that she was “too old” to be granted a visa.
My sister wanted to come over for a holiday with her children but a visa was
only granted to her and her youngest son on appeal. Her three teenage
children were denied visas the reason being: "We are not satisfied you will
come back to Zimbabwe given the economic situation in Zimbabwe".
I have friends who are American citizens and their parents are still of
working age yet they have also been denied visas. I have also heard of
numerous similar cases.
We are being subjected to serious emotional and financial stress by
embassies of Western countries operating in Zimbabwe yet we are legal
citizens/residents. It would only be fair to state openly if there are
justifiable reasons for denying a person a visa on the basis of age than to
accept people's application fees only to turn them down. Age is something
that does not need to be verified through an interview.
Most people are going through unnecessary appeal processes and forking out
substantial fees, which are at the same level as the original application
fees. It looks like the whole visa application process is meant to raise
funds for these embassies without regard to genuine and fair vetting of
I pray that the authorities will look into this issue because as it is any
person living legally in these countries risks being denied a visa should
he/she decide on retiring in Zimbabwe and later apply for a visa to visit
children who will be citizens of these western countries.
We would cherish having our mothers or siblings pay us a visit. I am married
with two children. It's very difficult for us to find a month or so to take
a reasonable vacation to Zimbabwe as often as we would want due to work
commitments and other pressures.
Because most of our parents in Zimbabwe are not working, it is easier to
facilitate their travel to the United States. It is also advantageous,
financially, to have my mother or mother in law come on a US$2,000 ticket as
opposed to the four of us spending US$8,000 to fly to Zimbabwe.
I appreciate that there is an economic crisis in Zimbabwe and some people
would want to come and stay here illegally, but then each case should be
considered on its own merits.
The visa regulations should also be reviewed with the view to placing the
onus on the foreign origin citizen/resident to make sure his/her relatives
do not violate their visa requirements by staying illegally. If need be,
these foreign origin citizens/residents should report those who abuse their
visa requirements to immigration authorities or else run the risk of loosing
their citizenship/residency status.
Industry should also be put under pressure not to employ personnel without
work permits to eliminate any possibility of foreigners wanting to stay in
host countries illegally.
Open letter to Tobaiwa Mudede
EDITOR—I was born in Zimbabwe in 1975 to a Zimbabwean mother after my father
had emigrated from Malawi.
Naturally, I had thought I was Zimbabwean by birth. I was, however, shocked
when I went to apply for a passport at the Registrar General's Office to be
told that I needed to apply for Zimbabwean citizenship before obtaining a
passport as I was considered a Malawian.
I went to the Malawian embassy only to be told I was not a Malawian as I am
over 18. Please may the Attorney General's Office explain this, as we,
Zimbabwean-born children of Malawian origin, are confused. We don't know
where we belong.
Zuma could just be what the doc ordered
EDITOR — South Africa's “Quiet Diplomacy” has been an otiose strategy to a
festering crisis in Zimbabwe. '
“Zimbabwe is an autonomous country”, has been the usual mantra.
“Non-interference” has been the founding ideology, while hundreds of
thousands of Zimbabweans scale border fences in search of a better life.
They scale the fences because their passports were withdrawn for
commiserating with the West, so we hear. Living in Zimbabwe has become a
risky endeavour, although it is much safer than escaping to the United
Kingdom where the Zimbabwean authorities are quick to brand you a ‘sell-out’
and then make you lose your passport, if not your nationality.
Prolonged mediation, on the part of President Thabo Mbeki and indecision in
the negotiation process have created a feeling of déjà vu among all
Zimbabweans. We still hold placards on empty stomachs pleading, 'Mbeki, help
The Southern African Development Community remains in deafening silence
despite such a naked crisis in Zimbabwe where arbitrary arrests and police
brutality continue to characterise the country's body politic.
Diplomats, delegates, cohorts and Cassandras came to Zimbabwe and saw the
grim reality, yet then as now, they simply stand by and watch.
Human rights lawyers have been incarcerated in undisclosed locations.
Draconian laws were enacted to replace repressive Rhodesian laws. Our
friends, sitting in cafes in Johannesburg, South Africa think 'it's a
Zimbabwean problem,' yet they should be asking over and over again, 'Mbeki,
where are you?'
The current deadlock in the mediation efforts is not just about (President)
Mugabe. It is about the generality of Zimbabweans, the poor and the
hopeless. It is about the credibility of Zimbabwe, as South Africa's partner
in the region. But Mbeki is turning a deaf ear to our reverberant cry for
mercy, peace and piety. He is turning a blind eye at our scars from
brutality and today he's staring at a Presidential defeat.
Zuma's victory in Polokwane is apocalyptic; it is indicial of a new
beginning. It signifies that the hour has come to move beyond simple
rhetoric and act.
Negotiations between ZANU-PF and both factions of the Movement for
Democratic Change have not yielded an acceptable compromise. Like "Quiet
Diplomacy", they have failed Zimbabweans. The country has no food,
electricity, cash, political space, drugs, sanity and many more.
Time is running out. In a few months to come our country will witness
another curious plebiscite. Yet our electoral laws have neither been
amended, nor repealed.
A spectre of another episode of state-orchestrated violence is looming. As
Zimbabweans, we need a saviour to take us to a new landscape.
As a populist, a man of the people, Zuma might help us out of this quagmire.
Another blow to democracy
EDITOR — We wish to express our deep concern over the continued lack of
respect for the fundamental freedoms of association, assembly, and
expression by holders of public office in Zimbabwe.
The recent gazetting and subsequent fast-tracking of the Public Order and
Security Amendment Bill, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Amendment Bill and the Broadcasting Services Amendment Bill by members of
both Houses of Parliament evidences a worrying and flagrant lack of respect
for processes allowing public input and scrutiny of legislation, which
affects the Zimbabwean public.
This, in turn, greatly undermines democratic space, and the promotion and
protection of human rights in the country.
While it is noted that several amendments have been made, which may, if
correctly implemented, relieve a fraction of the repression against human
rights defenders, the amendments are far from satisfactory and in most
instances are merely cosmetic.
Further, the fact that the Bills were drafted, presented and passed without
any input from stakeholders within civil society and the generality of the
public reinforces the illegitimacy of the legislative process as well as the
legislation itself, and strengthens the perception of broader society that
the political party dialogue, which led to agreements being reached on such
legislation continues to be a non-transparent process, which deny civil
society and fundamental stakeholders the opportunity to scrutinise any
agreements reached, ensure that fundamental issues are properly addressed
and hold the parties accountable to the affected public.
Detailed analyses of the various Bills are currently being finalised and
will be made available publicly. However, it is our preliminary view that
the amendments do not substantively address the concerns of those who have
been most affected by the clampdown on freedom of expression, association
and assembly and they fail to address fundamental concerns, which have been
in the public domain for as long as the legislation itself has been in
They also fail to take into account regional and international standards to
which Zimbabwe has bound itself and which it is obliged to promote, respect,
ensure and fulfil.
We consider this a missed opportunity to involve all stakeholders and ensure
that substantive, far-reaching and acceptable amendments were made to such
insidious legislation, which could have had a substantive effect on ensuring
a satisfactory electoral environment in the run up to the 2008 polls and
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights