Undercover trip reveals poverty, collapse, defiance
January 3, 2008
Zimbabwe does not welcome foreign journalists. Over the past few years, those caught working inside the country have been arrested, jailed and then expelled. The strict laws have their purpose: no international coverage means no international attention or high-profile pressure on the leadership of the nation to change course.
So our assignment had to be carried out undercover. Cameraman Richard Devey and I flew to Zimbabwe's second city, Bulawayo, from Johannesburg, South Africa. We posed as tourists going on safari in Zimbabwe's stunning national parks. That would explain the presence of the video camera if we needed to do any explaining.
The flight in revealed the results of the rainy season: the landscape was a lush green and we could see heavy showers pouring down in the distance.
But the sight was deceptive. Most farmers' fields have fallen fallow since the government expelled white farmers and gave the land to Zimbabwe's black population.
We were betting the crude infrastructure at the small airport would make it easier for us to pass through immigration checks. There were no computers in sight at the arrivals hall ? well, not really a hall. It is an airport hangar converted to use as a terminal. The officials seemed genuinely welcoming, smiling and making jokes.
"I see you are a lawyer, we'll have be careful around you," one man laughed.
I am, in fact, a non-practising lawyer. I had decided if they were curious about all the stamps in my passport for places like Pakistan, Afghanistan and Syria, I would tell them I advised humanitarian organizations.
Richard listed his profession as musician, which also has the virtue of being true. Never mind that he has not performed on stage for some time.
"We'll have to watch you closely," said the same official to Richard, who suddenly looked nervous. "You'll try to take away work from our musicians."No scissors to be had
Visas and passports in hand, we went through a baggage check. We watched as they searched everyone's luggage and again were unnerved.
We really did not want to explain the camera or the tripod and least of all, the microphone. For some reason, they let me pass.
But Richard's duffle bag was a strange shape, distended by the tripod inside. We had wrapped the bags in plastic sheeting at the suggestion of travel agents in Johannesburg who told us theft from luggage was a huge problem.
The woman searching the bags definitely wanted a look inside. Richard tried and tried to rip away the plastic, but it was sealed tight.
She also leaned in, tearing off bits and pieces. Finally, she decided only scissors would work.
But this is Zimbabwe and this was a tiny airport in Bulawayo and there were not any scissors to be had. She waved Richard through.
We met our driver in the parking lot and got an immediate sense of just how difficult life has become.
He was driving a pickup truck. He had filled the back with jerry cans full of gasoline, the only way to ensure we would have enough fuel to make the four-hour drive to the capital, Harare.A million isn't what it used to be
Within 10 minutes, we were stopped at a police roadblock. Speeding, apparently. But $10 US became an on-the-spot "fine" and we were let go. Over the next hour or so, we saw four more checkpoints.
Our guide told us that because it was Friday, the police officers needed money for the weekend. Hence the large number of checkpoints. We were waved through, apparently because we are white.
But we saw dozens of black Zimbabweans pulled over, presumably being forced to offer up a few million dollars or some food to secure their passage.
A few million? It takes some getting used to inside Zimbabwe. Inflation has become so bad it takes millions and millions of Zimbabwean dollars to purchase anything. The government economist won't even guess what the inflation rate is.
I was sitting with a group of Zimbabweans one day talking, as usual, about the shortages of just about everything. I asked them to give me all the money they had and then tell me what it would buy.
Because cash itself is hard to come by, all they could come up with was $50 million. It was a stack of bills about eight centimetres high. As I held it with both hands, they told me it would buy two litres of juice, a loaf of bread and maybe some toilet paper. If you could find any of those items in the store.A nation of scavengers
On the day we set off to interview Dr. Douglas Gwatidzo, we had to be patient. All our interviews had to be conducted in secret. We agreed to meet him at his home and to do the interview behind the walls of his compound where no informers might spot us and tell the government's intelligence agents.
When we arrived, Gwatidzo was not there. His house was dark and two dogs roamed the yard. But his maid let us through the gate and we waited. He arrived half an hour later with his son and proceeded to pull a box of cereal, some fruit and a small handful of wood from the back of his truck.
The doctor apologized, explaining that he had gone out to look for breakfast food. Later he would take the afternoon to find something for supper. And the wood? Gwatidzo ? a doctor in private practice ? hadn't had power in his home for four weeks. He cooked his meals and heated water outside, using an open fire and a barbecue grill.
Gwatidzo is doing better than most people. Driving through Harare on Saturday morning, the only thing that didn't seem to be in short supply was lineups. Outside banks, bread shops and gas stations, people lined up by the hundreds. They gathered whenever they heard that there might be cash or food or fuel. And where they gathered, the police showed up, too. They were supposed to be there to keep order.
But one man told me he'd gone to a shop because he heard a shipment of sugar had come in. When he arrived, he witnessed the police fighting each other to carry away the sacks that were on offer.
The streets are also filled with vendors. Officially it is illegal. But they take the risk, selling just about anything: fruit, vegetables, toilet paper.
Trees are losing their branches at a rapid rate in Zimbabwe. Desperate people are cutting them down and selling them as bundles of firewood. We saw people verywhere hoisting bundles of sticks onto their shoulders.The sick and the dead
There's an enormous graveyard on the outskirts of the city. I would guess it is about the size of nine football fields, maybe more. The gravediggers are always busy.
Doctors Without Borders estimates that 3,500 people die each week from illnesses related to AIDS. Less than one quarter of the people who need antiretroviral drugs to combat the syndrome are receiving the treatment. Life expectancy in Zimbabwe used to be among the best in Africa. Now it is 34 for women, 37 for men.
We entered two hospitals posing as volunteers from a foreign mission. Inside one, where we weren't able to use our camera, we saw about 50 children. Nurses said almost all of them were suffering from malnutrition or diarrhea.
There was only one doctor available to treat all of them. She had started her day at 8 a.m. She would not finish until 8 p.m.
She almost certainly would not be able to see all the children who waited with their worried mothers. Trained medical staff are leaving the country in huge numbers.
At the other hospital, nurses told us they had recently received shipments of some common drugs.
And just that day, they had also managed to get rubber gloves. Medical workers had been treating patients without using gloves for several days.
The hospital, surprisingly, was far from full. We were told it is because many of the sick cannot afford to travel for treatment that may not be available anyway.Risk and defiance
Throughout our time in Zimbabwe, we stayed at a series of residential homes ? away from hotels, which are full of government informers. In those private places, we had time to sit and talk to those who are living through this.
Every person we spoke to is preoccupied with ways of finding food. At one home, we were served roast beef. The family hadn't eaten beef in six months but had managed to get some shipped in from South Africa.
For those who have the money to shop, the next food challenge is the store shelves: the ones we saw were very nearly bare.
The day we left, one food wholesaler allowed us into his warehouse to let us freely shoot pictures of the vast, empty shelves. It was certainly a risk for him, but he wanted the world to see what is happening.
That was true of all the people we met, interviewed and recorded. We may have taken risks to go inside, but their risk is greater in speaking out and staying put.
Nowhere was that more true than in one small village where 50 families tried to survive in some of the worst conditions I have ever seen. Local government officials destroyed their homes, claiming they were living on the land illegally. Some had been there more than 40 years. They believe it was an act of political intimidation ? payback for supporting the opposition.
The day we arrived, the rains had turned the ground into a soup of mud and muck. These people now try to survive in lean-tos. The shacks are tiny ? perhaps the size of a large closet ? and whole families crowd inside them. Many people, children included, had no shoes. They dressed in rags.
One 76-year-old woman told me how she was trying to raise five grandchildren. The parents had died, probably of AIDS. She was stick-thin and solemn. She was tired, she told me, and her legs ached.
A single tear fell down her cheek as we stood in the ruins of what used to be her home, flies buzzing around the dirty dishes at her feet. She did not want to hide her face. She wanted the world to see her misery, she said. And her defiance.
As we left, he villagers gathered together and began clapping. We were told they the applause was for us, a traditional show of respect from a people struggling to live, but still living with dignity in a country with a government and a leader that has taken so much away from them.
By Tichaona Sibanda
4 January 2008
Top strategists from the MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai met in Harare on
Friday and unanimously agreed the party would only take part in the joint
parliamentary and presidential elections under a new constitution.
This confirms recent media reports that the party was ready to boycott the
elections, unless the ruling Zanu-PF party implements all the resolutions
agreed to at the mediated talks. Robert Mugabe has said elections would go
ahead as scheduled in March, while the opposition insists the date for the
polls should be considered only after all resolutions have been fully
Professor Elphas Mukonoweshuro, the MDC secretary for International Affairs,
confirmed that the annual meeting of the party’s top strategists dwelt at
length on the issue of the forthcoming elections.
Mukonoweshuro, who could not be drawn into revealing much, conceded it was
pointless to go into an election to legitimize the present government led by
Mugabe. He said there was consensus among the top party members that the
rules governing elections in the country were still seriously flawed.
‘It’s on public record now what the MDC wants before the elections can be
held. If the deadlock continues, I believe it is time for SADC being the
custodians of the crisis talks, to bring out the records and see who has
been evasive. It’s clear one party doesn’t want to honour its promises,’
The crisis talks have failed to make progress on resolving the stalemate
over a new constitution and election date. A meeting between President Thabo
Mbeki of South Africa and the negotiators is being planned to try to resolve
Mukonoweshuro recently told Newsreel the opposition would never give in to
Zanu-PF’s demand that elections be held in March.
He again reiterated that the MDC still wants the regional bloc SADC to
oversee the remaining process of thrashing out a deal.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Lance Guma
04 January 2008
The president of the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association, Amon Siveregi,
has denied state media reports that they have called off their strike
action. Speaking to Newsreel Siveregi said some doctors had gone back to
work but the majority remain on strike for better pay. He said about 40
percent of the doctors had gone back to work to alleviate the plight of
suffering patients. He said they are half way through negotiations but no
deal has been reached so far. ‘It’s true that some doctors are turning up
for work on humanitarian grounds, that doesn’t mean the strike is over,’
The state media claimed that nurses, together with other civil servants, had
received an additional Z$100 million on top of their December salaries. It
further claimed that several health workers interviewed had confirmed the
money was reflecting in their accounts and because of this doctors and
nurses had gone back to work. However it turns out the money has been
offered as loans repayable at 5 percent interest. The doctors and nurses
have rejected the offer.
Siveregi said no solution is in site so far and they will only call off the
strike depending on the progress of negotiations with the Health Services
Board (HSB) under the ministry. Some reports suggest the ministry has no
money and is still waiting for a response from the treasury on whether they
will be awarded any extra funds to meet any increases.
Doctors and nurses went on strike last week demanding better pay and working
conditions. Junior doctors are earning Z$40 million a month while nurses
earn Z$15 million. So far Parirenyatwa and Harare Hospitals are the most
affected. Outpatient departments at the two hospitals are still closed while
student nurses try to deal with emergency cases only. The government has
responded by deploying army medical personnel to some of the hospitals, but
this has hardly helped.
The latest strike, plus government’s reluctance to prioritise funding the
health system, means more and more doctors and nurses will leave for greener
pastures in neighbouring countries – and the sick will continue to suffer.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Late last year, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, Gideon Gono, introduced three high denomination bearer cheques, Z$250,000 (about US$0.12 at the parallel market rate of US$1 dollar to Z$2 million), Z$500,000 (US$0.25) and Z$750,000 (US$0.37), after initially announcing the phasing out of the Z$200,000 (US$0.10) bearer cheques, which he said were now in the hands of "cash barons" who were selling the notes as a commodity.
"Of the Z$67 trillion (US$33,5 million) which has been printed, we can only account for Z$2 trillion (US$1 million) which is in the formal banking system. The rest of the money is with cash barons who have opened mini-central banks at their houses. Unfortunately the people doing that are influential citizens with leadership positions," Gono told IRIN recently.
Zimbabwe, which is battling the world's highest inflation rate officially pegged at 8,000 percent - but unofficially estimated by independent economists at 25,000 percent - has seen cash join a catalogue of other shortages, which include fuel, electricity and food.
Gono said that high ranking people within Zimbabwe's corridors of power hoarding cash were known to him. Some such as an advisor to the Reserve Bank, Jonathan Kadzura, found to have taken $10 billion (US$5,000) of the freshly minted $500,000 (US$0.25) notes out of the banking system have been exposed. While David Butau, chairperson of the Finance Parliamentary Portfolio Committee and a Member of Parliament in the ruling ZANU-PF fled to United Kingdom last week amid reports of irregular financial dealings.
Individuals are only permitted to withdraw a maximum of Z$50 million (US$25) daily, while companies can make daily withdrawals of $100 million (US$50).
The Reserve Bank's decision to withdraw the $200,000 (US$0.10) bearer cheques as legal tender on 31 December 2007, was rescinded without explanation, although vendors had stopped accepting the $200,000 (US$0.10) bearer cheques well ahead of the new year's eve deadline.
Sipho Manyumbu, a school teacher in the capital Harare who spent the holiday season in bank queues, said it was nonsensical for Gono to claim that the cause of the money shortage was a consequence of the rise of the cash baron.
The issue is that the money is
with the people ... But they cannot use it because there is either nothing to
buy or the goods have just become too expensive
"With our inflation now way above 20,000 percent, it no longer makes sense to keep money in the bank because getting it out is cumbersome. I now withdraw all my salary and keep the money at home but so far I have not been able to get any money."
Tendai Musemburi, a former banker, told IRIN that while there were people hoarding cash to exchange for foreign currency, its effect was negligible.
"The issue is that the money is with the people. There is a lot of money chasing very few goods because of the decline in the manufacturing sector ... But they can not use it because there is either nothing to buy or the goods have just become too expensive," he said.
Fri, 04 Jan 2008
The Parks and Wildlife Management Authority of Zimbabwe plans to produce
biltong from elephant meat to sell in retail outlets throughout the country
"as part of sustainable utilisation of the animals," the Herald online said
Parks director-general Dr Morris Mtsambiwa said the project began last year
after the Ministry of Environment and Tourism permitted the authority to
experiment with the "resource".
"It is in our plans. We plan to start this year. We tried it last year and
we found that we did not have the proper infrastructure for the purpose," he
Mtsambiwa said the authority would apply to the Ministry of Environment and
Tourism for a quota of elephants to slaughter every year, after which it
would build some abattoirs, the Herald reported.
He said slaughtering the animals for biltong would, however, not reduce the
size of the elephant herd in the country, which has far surpassed the
carrying capacity of the national parks.
The country would need to slaughter at least 6000 animals every year to have
an impact on the population of the elephants.
"It is estimated that there are more than 100 000 elephants in Zimbabwe, a
figure three times more than the carrying capacity of the protected areas,"
the Herald said.
Currently, the country slaughters at least 500 elephants every year with the
meat distributed to communities living adjacent to the game parks.
"The size of the elephant herd is posing serious environmental challenges in
Zimbabwe and other Southern African countries including Botswana, Malawi,
Mozambique, Tanzania, South Africa and Zambia.
"It is estimated that the regional elephant population has now surpassed 400
000 and is growing at between four to seven percent every year," the Herald
The affected countries had since formulated an African Elephant Management
Strategy that seeks to address the problem of the ballooning population.
"We have agreed on a work plan which we will start implementing this year,"
Mtsambiwa was quoted as saying.
He added that the work plan was agreed on at a meeting of director-generals
of national parks in the region held in the town of Pemba in Mozambique in
November last year.
The meeting agreed that an aerial survey be conducted simultaneously in the
respective countries to establish the population of the elephants in order
to avoid double counting, he said.
Zimbabwe currently heads the regional task force on finding strategies to
control the population of elephants in the region, the Herald said.
"At least some options have since been identified to control the elephant
population, including contraception, culling and translocation.
"It was agreed that individual countries would take options depending on
resources at their disposal, capacity and situation."
The newspaper reported that contraception was a preferred option in view of
pressure from animal rights groups against culling, "although it is
expensive and sometimes does not work."
HARARE, Jan 4 (AFP)
A diarrhoea outbreak has hit Zimbabwe's capital Harare following weeks of
uncollected garbage, sewer blockages and erratic water supplies, the
state-owned The Herald daily reported on Friday.
More than 400 cases of diarrhoea have been recorded in Mabvuku and Tafara,
two of the capital's suburbs, but there is no confirmation of deaths that
have been linked to the outbreak.
"There has been an increase in diarrhoea cases than those normally seen in
this district," Harare's acting director of health services, Stanley
Mungofa, was quoted as saying.
"In week 48 (December) there were 411 cases reported while in week 49 there
were 459 cases.
"However, in week 50, we recorded a reduction in cases. These figures are
above what we normally experience in the whole city."
Mungofa said that the outbreak was not cholera.
Health officials were monitoring the situation at clinics in the two suburbs
in a bid to mitigate the situation, Mungofa said.
Health Minister David Parirenyatwa said the government intervened in the
outbreak because the situation had spun out of control.
"The government is taking up the issue, they (council) will start excavating
all the areas that have blockages and repair what needs to be repaired," he
told the daily.
"I am also told we will be getting water here (at Mabvuku and Tafara). If
all that happens, this problem will be a thing of the past," he said.
Mail and Guardian
04 January 2008 01:27
Four more people have drowned in Zimbabwe, bringing to 31 the
numbers killed in flooding caused by a month of heavy rains, which have also
claimed two lives in neighbouring Mozambique, according to various reports
In Zimbabwe, three people travelling in an ox-drawn cart were
swept away by floodwaters in an area in northern Mashonaland West province,
the state-run Hreald reported.
The breakdown of communications with flood-hit areas meant that
the drownings, which occurred last week, were reported on Friday for the
Elsewhere, in Seke, south of Harare, a man drowned on Tuesday
while trying to herd his cattle through a swollen stream.
The deaths bring to 31 the numbers killed by flooding in
low-lying areas of the north and south provoked by the heaviest rains in
December in about a century.
Critical food shortages caused by political mismanagement and
drought, which have left about four million in need of food aid, have been
exacerbated as floodwaters swept away crops and livestock.
The situation in Zimbabwe is also having a knock-on effect in
flood-prone neighbouring Mozambique.
Two people died in central Sofala province after the Pungue and
Buzi rivers, which have their source in Zimbabwe, burst their banks,
district administrator Paulo Majacunene told the Deutsche Presse-Agentur.
The Save River, which rises in Zimbabwe and flows through Sofala
and Inhambane provinces, also flooded, leaving over 1 000 people stranded,
according to government officials.
Rescue workers in motorboats were trying to reach people who
sought refuge in trees and on rooftops.
Impoverished rural dwellers in Mozambique are the worst hit by
flooding during the summer rainy season, which killed about 700 people and
displaced 500 000 in 2000 and 2001. -- Sapa-dpa
Stop Illegal Use of Foreign Currency
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
4 January 2008
Posted to the web 4 January 2008
THE illegal widespread use by many of foreign currency, particularly the
United States dollars, in making transactions is cause for concern and must
be stamped out without further delay.
Reports abound of estate agents and individual landlords who have adopted
the US dollar and the South African rand as their medium of exchange when
charging rentals and selling or buying immovable properties like houses.
Such practices are in contravention of the foreign exchange regulations and
this is an unofficial form of dollarisation.
It must be clear to all of us that Zimbabwe has not dollarised. In other
words, the country has not adopted the use of another country's currency in
limited or all transactions.
There are some quarters that have been arguing that the solution to the
country's economic challenges is full dollarisation.
If we dollarise, it entails that Zimbabwe will officially abandon its own
currency and adopt a more stable currency of another country -- most
commonly the US dollar -- as its legal tender.
But our currency, the Zimbabwe dollar, is the symbol of the country's
nationhood and sovereignty.
And for that reason, we cannot abandon our currency in favour of those of
If we dollarise, the country's central bank will lose control over monetary
policy to deal with domestic economic problems. It means the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe will relinquish any possibility of an autonomous monetary and
exchange rate policy to bolster growth or fight inflation when necessary.
It also means that the use of the central bank credit to provide liquidity
support to the banking system in emergencies will be lost.
And what is more dangerous is that we would have exposed ourselves to the
whims of the US central bank to set interest rates.
But, most importantly, Zimbabwe has different economic conditions and
different domestic objectives with the US. As a result, the US monetary
policy will be at odds with the needs of a dollarised Zimbabwean economy.
To a greater degree, there are people who already hold large sums of foreign
currency and foreign currency-denominated deposits in both local and foreign
And these are the people who want to fuel the widespread use of hard
currency in daily transactions, alongside the local currency.
Such informal dollarisation is seen as a response to the high inflation, and
the desire of some people to protect their assets from the risks of
However, for a country like Zimbabwe, dollarisation will only offer a false
hope of stability as it will not eliminate things like the illegal sanctions
imposed on the country by Britain, the US and their Western allies.
There are no historical experiences or success stories of dollarisation,
especially in developing countries. Countries in South America such as
Argentina and Ecuador have tried adopting the US dollar with limited
The position of the Government is quite clear -- the country will not
abandon its own currency for the US dollar or the rand, or any other foreign
currency for that matter.
All transactions in foreign currency are illegal and those caught should
therefore be dealt with accordingly.
Financial Gazette (Harare)
4 January 2008
Posted to the web 4 January 2008
A RECENT meeting of senior ZANU-PF officials in Mashonaland West exposed the
confusion and corruption surrounding the land reform programme in the
province, which officials fear could cost the party crucial votes in the
On December 5, 2007 Lands Minister Didymus Mutasa met top ZANU-PF officials
from the province at his Harare offices to iron out differences over the
emotive land issue but disagreements on the way forward persisted.
Mutasa, who doubles up as Security Minister, convened the meeting after
Vice-President Msika had briefed him on concerns expressed by the
Mashonaland West political leadership, which is said to be against the
eviction of white commercial farmers.
Apparently, ZANU-PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyari-ra, had earlier snubbed
Mutasa's office, which is responsible for all land issues and taken the
matter straight to Msika.
However, Mutasa, who is one of President Robert Mugabe's trusted
lieutenants, stood his ground during the meeting.
The minutes of the meeting quote the Lands Minister as saying: the
leadership in Mashonaland West seemed to lack information, which they could
have asked from him or his ministry.
He defended the land allocations by his ministry as being above board and in
line with stipulated procedures.
"Nomatter Tagarira (the diesel n'anga)'s issue was a directive from Cabinet
that she should be allocated a farm," reads part of the minutes. "Themba
Mliswa (the chief executive officer of Saltlakes Holdings) was allocated
land and is Minister Mutasa's cousin, but how many cousins, nephews and
nieces of other leaders have benefited (from the land reform). There is
nothing wrong with Themba getting a farm, unless if he should be punished
because he is related to the Minister of Lands, which would not be fair."
Investigations by The Financial Gazette revealed that John Nkomo, allocated
Spring Farm to Mliswa when he served as Lands Minister.
Those who attended the meeting included Shamuyarira, Senate President Edna
Madzongwe, Minister of State for Policy Implementation, Webster Shamu,
Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Reuben Marumahoko and several other
Apart from highlighting the chaos on the farms, the meeting also exposed the
extent to which ZANU-PF officials are abusing their powers in dealing with
Corruption is rife on the farms with several high-ranking government
officials drawing up lists of white farmers they want to remain on the land
for reasons only know to themselves.
Rydings, which was allocated to Harare lawyer Gerald Mlotshwa, was among the
controversial farms discussed at the meeting.
Mutasa said the government was vetting all white farmers the provincial
leaders want to remain on the farms.
"There were a lot of things happening at the farm (Rydings), including
printing of opposition T-shirts. Also one of the whites is married to Roy
Bennett's sister. Some of these whites were Selous Scouts during the war.
The people who were allocated Rydings were moved from Rottenburg's farm,
which the VP (Vice President) said should not be resettled. This was agreed
with His Excellency (President Robert Mugabe). The issue of white farmers
was therefore done openly and as the Ministry there is nothing to hide,"
read the minutes. Bennett, the Movemement for Democratic Change treasurer,
skipped the country in May 2006 after his release from prison where he
served a one-year jail sentence for contravening parliamentary regulations.
Before the meeting, claims had been made that some individuals in
Mashonaland West were receiving gifts from white farmers who are desperate
to avoid eviction.
The meeting also discussed the contentious issue of offer letters, which are
being abused in the resettlement process.
"There are people with offer letters failing to occupy their allocated farms
because there are whites there. If these people's offer letters are
withdrawn, and the whites are allowed to come back, the province will become
a laughing stock. This may also affect ZANU-PF in the upcoming elections as
these people will not be well motivated to campaign for the party," said
John Mafa, the ZANU-PF chairman for Mashonaland West.
Several white farmers are currently challenging their eviction in the
A Chegutu farmer Michael Campbell has taken his case to the Southern Africa
Development Community Tribunal where he was granted interim relief, giving
him the right to remain on his farm until the case is concluded.
Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)
4 January 2008
Posted to the web 4 January 2008
NATHANIEL Manheru has what he thinks is a wake-up call for British
ambassador Andrew Pocock. "Does he get the message when Zimbabwe, a country
which is supposed to be in the throes, unwraps a brand new bio-diesel plant
in partnership with South Korea?" he asks. "Or an ANC which pledges to push
land reforms to the tune of 30% before 2014? Does he read the mosaic of
messages which clearly points to a new Southern Africa?"
Actually, we all got the message of the politburo taskforce swallowing the
story about a little girl who said she could conjure diesel from a rock.
What did that tell the world about the calibre of Zimbabwe's
As for South Africa's land reform, this is what the acting Director-General
of Land Affairs, Thozi Gwanya, had to say recently: "We are extremely
concerned about food security. The land that we transfer must not lie
fallow. The contribution of agriculture to the GDP must not go down because
we have transferred this land. We don't want to go anywhere near Zimbabwe."
So there you have it. Not quite the all-round success Manheru depicted. And
any ambassador driving around the capital over the festive season would have
seen those long winding queues for cash, the product of poor planning and
The public were told the new notes were being delivered to branches before
Christmas so they waited patiently. In vain, it would seem. The new money
did not make an impact until after Christmas and then painfully slowly. Zanu
PF stole Christmas for many while the chefs, it would appear, had vast
reserves of cash. Only Tafataona Mahoso missed this story in a vain bid to
shift public attention away from local corruption towards an international
villain of the piece, in this case "the corporate aristocracy who dominate
the global speculative economy".
We reckon he's not having much luck with that one thanks to David Butau et
al who have pulled the mask from the face of the beast.
And we all noticed Butau's attempts to hold off an enquiry by the
parliamentary portfolio committee on Finance which he heads. He would not
rush into inviting Gideon Gono to appear, he said, to give evidence on the
cash barons. The committee would need time to "analyse" the governor's
statement, he lamely suggested.
Gono to his credit shot back that he had the names and couldn't understand
why he wasn't being asked to disclose them. That was the national sentiment.
Why was Butau dragging his heels? Now we know.
What was interesting about this episode was for the first time the state
media, in following the Butau story, was walking in step with the national
mood rather than trying to sweep the crisis under the political carpet.
Mahoso stood out like a sore thumb in trying to run against the tide.
Meanwhile, the three stooges at SABC who have been supplying the South
African public with partisan news, CEO Dali Mpofu, political editor Sophie
Mokoena, and head of news Snuki Zikalala, now face the chop, the Sunday
Times reports. Cosatu general secretary Zwelinzima Vavi described the SABC
bias during the ANC's recent leadership contest as "scandalous". We happen
to believe the same of its Zimbabwe coverage!
Vavi called on Mbeki not to approve the list of names for the SABC board
which had been manipulated by the ANC leadership who had overruled the list
put forward by parliament's portfolio committee on communications.
"We need a return to the original list," Vavi said, "which parliament had
recommended before the heavy-handed intervention by those who want to turn
it into another Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation."
Vavi called for the SABC leadership to either undergo a change of heart or
resign over its propaganda role.
We hope those at Pockets Hill heed this for their day of judgement is not
Still with the ANC's Polokwane conference, we were amused by the antics of
Mbeki loyalist Mluleki George who told the press Mbeki would sweep the
board. This won him the title of "Comical Ali" in recognition of the
similarity between his delusional bleatings and those of Saddam Hussein's
spokesman "Chemical Ali".
When he tried to organise a rally on behalf of Mbeki, calling the opposition
camp "thugs" and "hooligans", supporters of Jacob Zuma organised their own
"ANC this way, Zanu PF that way," they bellowed, according to a Sunday Times
editorial. They were the real ANC, they claimed rebutting George's claims.
The others were followers of a despot who wanted to cling to power they
We enjoyed the following from Walter Muchinguri in the Business Herald last
"After years of crafting brilliant economic policies that in many cases have
run their course without being applied fully, the government through the
Ministry of Economic Development has adopted an inclusive approach that is
envisaged to encourage a major buying-in and broader implementation of all
Is there anybody left who in all seriousness would describe government's
economic policies as "brilliant" amidst the debris of a ruined state? And
how long has it taken this regime to wake up to the need for business and
civic participation in the formulation of economic policy? What has been its
record to date of listening to the views of others?
Godwills Masimirembwa's tenancy at the Prices and Incomes Commission
demonstrates just how little listening this government is prepared to do.
Muchinguri needs to apply a healthy dose of scepticism when reporting news
of this sort instead of joining his colleague in the Department of Pollyanna
Perspectives. This same journalist was also last week asking us to believe
that tourism was "on the path to full recovery".
Perhaps Muchinguri would like to go and find us a bona fide tourist out
there because, apart from the Victoria Falls, most of the nation's hotels
were only recording bookings at 30% of capacity last year.
Two statements last week caught our attention: One by Deputy Police
Commissioner Godwin Matanga that next year's elections provided an
opportunity for Zimbabwe's "detractors" to step up their campaigns against
Harare, and another by Masimirembwa that the country was "richer because of
President Mugabe's leadership".
In fact Zimbabweans have never been poorer. Per capita GDP is down to 1950s
levels, according to a recent study.
It is clear that Herald commentators are required to be delusional. But here
is someone who demonstrates partisan loyalty instead of professional
integrity. Should not those officials presiding over prices and incomes be
winning the confidence of the country as a whole instead of grandstanding
for the ruling party in a bid to win personal preferment?
As for Matanga's invitation for police officers seconded to UN duties to
"tell the true story of Zimbabwe", that would provide an interesting
challenge. Officers would be required to explain how the leader of the
opposition and several of his officials were severely assaulted at a police
station in March and how the president of the Law Society and other lawyers
were taken to Eastlea and beaten there. They may also be asked to explain
why Joseph Mwale has not been brought to justice and why the killers of Gift
Tandare and Godfrey Chikomba have not been held to account.
On a lighter note, ZRP officers should be asked how their superiors can
believe that diesel is produced from rocks. Telling the "true story of
Zimbabwe" should be challenging indeed.
Under the heading "A stitch in time", the Herald on Monday carried a picture
of council workers filling potholes with bitumen. "The potholes have been
blamed on the incessant rains," we were told.
In fact the potholes can be blamed on the council's failure to maintain the
roads in the capital. There is everywhere an absence of a culture of
supervision and maintenance. The council seems to be on an extended holiday.
At exactly the time when Harare gets thousands of visitors from South Africa
the traffic lights go out, the potholes proliferate and rubbish piles up.
Muckraker is running a "Mother of all potholes" competition. There are
already several ambitious entrants. One contestant on West Road in
Strathaven is the size of a small swimming pool. Another near Old Hararians
on Bishop Gaul is several feet deep. If you have a monster pothole in your
locality let us know.
Celebrations to mark the 20th anniversary of the Unity Accord turned out to
be a damp squib. Nobody seemed keen to express their "oneness". Instead they
were stuck in bank queues. In fact it was extraordinary that Zanu PF should
try to flog this particular dead horse.
A number of state-owned companies were induced to advertise in the Herald.
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority, the Civil Aviation Authority of
Zimbabwe, Zimpost, NetOne, Potraz, Noczim, NSSA, and the Zimbabwe Tourism
Authority all dutifully congratulated President Mugabe or "joined the
people" in celebrating the occasion, even where no celebration was readily
And what can we say about the companies advertising their slavish loyalty to
a regime that keeps them in business? Few of them are capable of supplying
even an elementary service to the public. In fact most are associated in the
public mind with bungling and failure.
We would love to know who phones them and suggests it would be a good idea
to take out advertisements when other companies are not prepared to waste
And there, just to remind us of the nature of the beast we are dealing with,
was an ad from the Zimbabwe Prison Service "joining President Mugabe and the
people of Zimbabwe" in celebrating Unity Day. As if we needed the reminder!
When we had George Charamba remarking in the Herald on Zimbabwean fugitives
from justice being allowed into Britain, the US, Australia and New Zealand.
Strange that he should object to this when he is happy to have the Herald
carry on a regular basis opinion pieces from fugitives based in precisely
those countries. Except they are fugitives from the social and economic
chaos that the regime they support has spawned.
Why don't Peter Mavunga and Reason Wafawarova want to live in Zimbabwe? Why
does the Herald depend upon the likes of Obi Egbuna for political
None of its commentators appear to be in touch with Zimbabwean views. They
prefer the comfort of Britain, the US and Australia from where they mount
crude attacks on Zimbabwe's opposition leaders. What courage do these
lickspittle commentators have in running away from their homeland and then
pretending that the country is being ably managed by a hero of the African
revolution? None of them have to live with the consequences of his
disastrous policies but they choose to speak on his behalf and have their
views published in a newspaper that permits no right of reply.
Mavunga and Wafawarova: Please come home. We want you to actually experience
the reality here!
Still on the subject of Charamba's strictures, Muckraker was amused to note
that despite his literary pretensions, he still has difficulty spelling the
name of the university he attended in the UK. His court affidavit in the BSA
case says he specialised in broadcast media studies at "Cardif University".
Is that anywhere near Cardiff?
Herald columnist and media commissar Chinondidyachii
Chinondidya-Chinosekerera Mararike, in a bid to deflect blame for the
country's current chaos away from President Mugabe, asks "how it is we have
allowed people who are not with us and yet pretend to be with us to occupy
strategic national positions and who, it turns out, constitute a local
middle class or pseudo-petit bourgeoisie dominated by and on the payroll of
foreign ruling classes and imperialist saboteurs and their proxies?"
"Why are we allowing the country to be hijacked by criminals?" he asks.
Does that include lawyers who have been struck off for abusing clients'
funds, we wonder?
We need to monitor these criminals posing as revolutionaries before they
inflict further institutional damage.
And it is interesting to note that the officials they quote as inspiring
their constipated nationalist discourse made no contribution whatsoever to
the liberation struggle.
Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)
4 January 2008
Posted to the web 4 January 2008
THE role of the West in undermining post-colonial democratic institutions is
a subject that requires its own debate but is not a new subject. Many
post-colonial states have found in imperialism a convenient and potent
defence against their own bad governance and human and property rights
The spin doctors of bad leaders in many of these post-colonial states now
make it a habit to use terms like "economic saboteurs" to describe any
behaviour that they deem to be contrary to the entrenchment and sustenance
of misguided policies and programmes.
The reasons Africa continues to blame colonialism and imperialism for the
poverty trap that it finds itself in are multiple, but the underlying agenda
in the strategy is obvious and deliberate -- to divert attention from the
core problems that are humanly created.
With 53 countries, the African continent remains universally challenged to
live up to the expectations of the majority of its citizens for a better
life and its leaders appear to deliberately invest in confusion politics,
with citizens bearing the brunt of the abuses as if to confirm the worst
fears of the colonialists whose protracted defence of an exclusive society
was premised on the fear of majority rule that could easily be manipulated
by the dangerously wise.
We have unfortunately allowed ourselves to be abused by the few who have
monopolised state power for personal aggrandisement.
The post-colonial experience has now been converted into an environment
where having state power is synonymous with wisdom and integrity.
The rights that the post-colonial constitution purports to vest in citizens
have now been alienated from citizens by a cabal of individuals who have
made a significant investment in making citizens afraid of what tomorrow may
In 2007, the African continent stood as one in making it possible that
President Robert Mugabe was invited to Lisbon and, in doing so, the
continent was sending a message that an injury to one is an injury to all.
The consensus among African leaders is that Africa continues to be poor
because of the machinations of the West and as long as the colonial injury
exists, no African state has found itself as a friend of post-colonial
justice even in cases where it is evident that the victims are not only
It cannot be said that the victims of post-colonial Zimbabwe are
race-specific given the arguments that have been advanced in the recent past
suggesting that a list exists of enemies of the state even in the ranks of
the ruling party.
At the ruling Zanu PF party's congress last month, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) governor Gideon Gono, in front of his principal, made the disclosure
that national interest was being compromised by the greed of a few senior
members of the party.
However, Mugabe could not challenge Gono to name them or even risk arresting
him until he exposes the culprits. Instead, Gono chose to threaten to expose
the alleged criminals not to the law-enforcement officers but to parliament
for reasons that are well known.
The argument advanced and widely accepted by many Africans is that the West
is up to no good and any opposition to bad governance by African citizens is
necessarily driven by non-African interests and can never be owned by
For how long can rational people blame third parties for what is patently
Even Gono has accepted that the demonetisation project was ill-conceived and
yet no one can dare challenge him for fear of being exposed. It has been
confirmed that Gono has a list (a long one for that matter) of all the
people he has compromised and who would not dare refuse to be used like
David Butau attempted to do. Any person who operates on the basis of
blackmail will one day be the ultimate victim of his own actions.
Having successfully convinced the African constituency including Sadc
leaders that Zimbabwe is not a victim of post-colonial bad governance, it is
now apparent that the spin doctors have been at work trying to convince the
Zimbabwean public that the West has planted evil seeds in selected African
minds who masquerade as businessmen when in truth and fact (according to
official propaganda) they are agents of imperialism bent on destroying the
In the post-Lisbon summit period, Zimbabwe has been plunged into another
inevitable and predictable crisis in the form of cash. No one could have
imagined that something that never happened in the colonial state could
visit a proudly sovereign nation like Zimbabwe -- ie citizens being denied
access to their own cash assets and banks running out of cash.
To help explain this disaster just like has happened before, the governor of
the RBZ who is the most visible propagandist against the targeted sanctions
regime imposed by the West came up with the expected explanation that the
cash crisis was a creation of nameless and faceless "cash barons".
Gono has challenged citizens to expose his alleged criminal conduct fully
knowing that he is in charge of all the law-enforcement authorities who in
any event would not dare act against him. Evidence is plenty and even Butau
must have what Gono does not want Zimbabweans to know. What is evident is
that Gono is running out of steam and enemies outside the state machinery
are now difficult to come up with.
What is significant about the cash crisis that is confronting the Zimbabwean
economy among many other governance issues is that the finger is pointed at
other people than the state itself.
While Gono chose to blame the cash barons and used the already financially
compromised Butau as the vehicle for diverting attention, George Charamba,
Mugabe's official spin doctor who seems to regard himself as holier than
thou and the only genuine revolutionary, conveniently stepped in using the
now familiar argument that the West was responsible for the cash crisis.
In any normal society, Charamba would have been referred to a psychiatrist
but it has now been accepted that his boss really expects to hear that
behind every crisis in Zimbabwe, the West must be involved.
In a desperate attempt to implicate the West in the cash crisis saga, it was
expected that given that Gono had run out of propaganda currency he needed
the assistance of Charamba who may after all be also a beneficiary like
Butau of the mafia-style goodies from the RBZ.
When Gono invited himself to a parliamentary committee chaired by Butau,
those who know him very well would have known of the trap in which Butau was
going to be the sacrificial lamb. The facts of the case are that Butau, like
many Zimbabweans, did not know that by being a beneficiary of Gono's
assistance he had become a convenient instrument to be used when conditions
called for it.
Even Charamba whose views and opinions represent the president has not dared
challenge Gono even in the face of monumental policy bankruptcy suggesting
that Butau may not have been alone in the Gono compromised individuals. To
what extent Gono has corrupted the state machinery using the various
so-called sanctions busting quasi-fiscal activities will remain a secret.
Given the manner in which Gono has been using the state media to whitewash
and bamboozle the public, it may not be inaccurate to say that the president
may not be fully aware of the true nature of Gono's operations.
Butau joins the list of targeted individuals who may know who Gono is but
are easily silenced in the name of national security. Anyone who stands in
the way is easily labelled an economic saboteur.
Does Gono have a plan for Zimbabwe? This is a question that many enlightened
Zimbabweans have already answered but it is evident that the majority of the
citizens are in the dark when their future is being mortgaged and wasted by
the corrupt few.
In an unprecedented manner, Charamba was reported to have caused stories to
be published by the Herald on Saturday (December 29) entitled: "Govt raps
West for sheltering fugitives" and another one published on January 1
entitled "Zimbabweans outraged at UK's harbouring of fugitives", in which he
attempts to blame Western countries for the cash crisis.
He makes the outrageous allegation that the economic problems of Zimbabwe
are being manufactured in the West because the victims of Gono's misguided
policies have been given sanctuary in Western countries.
The entry of Gono as governor has seen the criminalisation of many honest
Zimbabweans for political expediency. New crimes have been invented and
victims have been selectively targeted so as to protect the president from
taking responsibility for the collapse of the state.
Under Gono's stewardship, the informal sector has grown tremendously and is
now more efficient than the formal sector that the post-colonial state
proudly inherited from the colonial state.
Charamba would want the world to accept that the collapse of the state is
being engineered by external forces and he has now turned his attention to
the very victims of Gono who like many black Zimbabweans had to flee
Rhodesia to the West.
Charamba may not be aware that in as much as he would like the gullible
public to believe that the West is the problem, many Zimbabweans were given
sanctuary by the West during the UDI days including Mugabe's late wife,
The list of Zimbabweans who were educated in the West during the colonial
days is long and yet Charamba would want the victims of bad policies to seek
sanctuary in African states fully knowing that Mugabe's policies have been
endorsed unanimously by the same states which campaigned for the EU to
invite him to the recent Lisbon summit.
The victims of the government of Zimbabwe are not only white in colour but
are also black like me. After the experiences of Chris Kuruneri and James
Makamba who were remanded in prison only to be acquitted after serving time
(with no judicial involvement), Butau was right to take the position that no
justice would be served if he remained in the country fully knowing that the
barbarians were at the gate with Gono leading the charge.
It was only James Mushore who naïvely thought that sanity had been restored
sufficiently for him to go back to the lions' den. He not only became a
victim but also has affected the career of the Attorney-General who has
since been suspended.
If Butau chose a country in Africa, then the long arm of Zimbabwean
injustice would have caught up with him. As he rightly said, he would risk
"rotting in remand prison" for a crime he did not commit.
Who is this Charamba? Judging from what Charamba is reported to have said,
it is evident that he thinks he is the judge, jury and executioner.
He is quoted as having said: "The criminals follow the sponsor.
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 US 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."
Charamba makes the allegation that persons like Zimuto, Makoni, Makamba,
Chekeche, Muponda, Paradza and others including myself are pawns of the West
and are, indeed, sponsored.
He and his gang are the authentic custodians of the state. What arrogance!
We have seen this kind of irresponsible nationalism and patriotism take a
dangerous twist over the last few years and it has now become necessary to
respond to this abuse.
Surely, Charamba must be smart to know that Zimbabweans are smarter than
what he wants to reduce them to. The attempt to privatise the state must be
fought with the urgency it deserves lest Zimbabwe may soon become a den of
gangsters masquerading as state agents. When Charamba speaks one must know
that the end is near but what we know is that like Jonathan Moyo who is also
alleged to be on Gono's payroll, it is important that we critically examine
what is being said and for whose benefit.
* Mutumwa Mawere is a businessman based in South Africa.
By Eric Bloch
IT is customary to formulate resolutions for change and improvement at New
Year, and those who do so are supposed thereafter to strive to pursue those
resolutions with determination, changing them from wishes to reality. It is
improbable in the extreme that the Zimbabwean government will have done so
as the abysmal 2007 came to an end, and 2008 began, and yet one must hope
that it did.
The Zimbabwean economy has been in a devastating decline ever since the
millennium, with that decline escalating at an immense pace in 2007, and all
indications being that the downward momentum is not only continuing, but is
becoming evermore pronounced. As the economic decline intensifies, so too
does the poverty, the hardships, and the miseries of the overwhelming
majority of the Zimbabwean population. If for no other reason but to reverse
the economic afflictions which are causing such widespread suffering, a
genuine and lasting economic metamorphis is long overdue, and it is
incumbent upon government to ensure that such reversal occurs.
Thus, the primary resolution that should have been made by government is
that instead of endlessly trying to attribute blame to others for economic
ills, it will focus upon bringing about an economic upturn. Endless
vituperative accusations against others that they have deliberately, for
their own self-centred and malicious reasons, sought the destruction of the
economy does not trigger reversal, but in fact worsens an already horrific
Moreover, no matter how often government seeks to deflect perceptions of
culpability from itself to the western world in general, the European Union
in particular, and especially Britain, over and above blaming captains of
commerce and industry, the political opposition, and others, the majority of
Zimbabweans hold government responsible.
Most disbelieve the accusations, recognising them as being naught but
fabrications and deceptions in an endeavour to avoid being held responsible.
As the population’s circumstances become more and more distraught, people
blame government for not taking constructive actions to end the hardships.
The stance of the majority of Zimbabweans is that whatsoever, or whosoever
may be the causes of the economic ills, the onus is upon government to take
appropriate remedial action, and it has failed to do so.
The hope, albeit probably an unrealistic one, is that government belatedly
has recognised, or will recognise, that it is time for it to do that which
is necessary, instead of just pointing its accusative finger at others,
whilst misdirecting and misleading itself as to the facts, and attempting to
do likewise to the population. The hope is that such recognition will have
resulted in some very overdue, but positive, New Year resolutions. The key
ones of those resolutions would have been:
* Real actions have to be taken to contain the appalling, heinous inflation,
instead of just blaming the business community (which admittedly is
sometimes guilty, but usually not so). Those actions must include, first and
foremost, free up exchange rates, thereby eliminating the alternative
foreign currency markets, which are major fuellents of inflation.
Concurrently, vigorous actions are necessary to achieve export viability for
the manufacturing, mining, tourism and agricultural sectors, so as to ensure
markedly increased availability of foreign exchange (to be traded in an
open, market-force driven, free foreign currency market). Freeing up
exchange rates would be a major step in assuring exporter viability, but can
be reinforced by constructive export incentives, improved infrastructural
delivery of essential energy, water, transportation, and telecommunications
operating inputs, and wide-ranging economic deregulation.
Inflation reduction must also be pursued by containing money supply growth.
To do so, government must desist from forcing the central bank to engage in
quasi-fiscal activities, and concurrently government must markedly reduce
its expenditure, and its deficit. To a major extent, the deficit could be
eliminated if government positively and rapidly pursued privatisation of
Concurrently, it must resolve that it will energetically reduce
expenditures. This can well be done by reducing the immensely great public
service (not by retrenchment, but through natural attrition), with special
reference to the excessively-sized armed forces. It can do so by dispensing
with the luxury of a senate, by reducing the great number of embassies,
consulates, trade missions and the cabinet.
Government must also reduce inflation by removal of grossly excessive
duties, levies and taxes on petroleum products, and by discontinuing abused
and exploited agricultural subsidies, replacing them with subsidies linked
* Fundamental to economic recovery and wellbeing is the transformation of
the devastated agricultural sector. The first step towards doing so is for
government to recognise and acknowledge the realities, which are that
2007/8, will not be "The Mother of all agricultural seasons" (unless one
accepts that that mother is barren!), and that the land reform programme is
far from the success government claims it to be. That programme needs to be
reformed, with 99-year leases being accorded negotiability and transferral
status, in order to vest holders with collateral value, and a sense of
ownership. Those who are not using, or are abusing, the lands, must be
displaced and removed, much overdue fair compensation must be given to the
those who were unjustly deprived of their lands, including full compliance
with Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements, and formerly
productive farmers must be given the opportunity to return to the land.
Concurrently, realistic prices which assure viability must be guaranteed for
all strategic crops.
* Yet another essential for economic recovery is that Zimbabwe become an
investment-conducive and welcoming environment, for domestic and foreign
investors alike. This requires very considerable changes from present
governmental policies and attitudes, including that there must be very
substantial deregulation of the economy, enabling investors to be masters of
their own destinies.
The policy and attitude changes must also bring about a truly democratic
political environment, unreserved governmental respect for human and
property rights, a wholly free, unbiased and just judiciary reinforced by an
unequivocal respect for law. Concurrently, with complete unambivalence,
Zimbabwe must pursue reconciliation with the international community,
abandoning recourse to vitriol, insults, and unmitigated hatred, and instead
resorting to constructive, conciliatory reconciliation.
* Government must also rethink its stance on economic indigenisation and
empowerment. It is of vital importance that there is widespread indigenised
involvement in the economy. But this cannot be achieved by forced
transferral of ownership of existing enterprises. That is naught but taking
from the rich to give to the poor, so that the rich become poor, and a few
poor become temporarily rich.
Far more can be achieved by stimulating economic growth, concurrently with
dynamic facilitation of indigenisation in that growth.
Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)
4 January 2008
Posted to the web 4 January 2008
IN all fairness this should go down as the most frustrating festive season
Zimbabweans have ever had. Most people spent hours trying to get cash from
I was one of those who found themselves in one of the long queues that
remain a common sight at all the banking halls in town.
I had summoned the courage to brave the pounding rains and queue in order to
get my money. I just had to get the cash because I badly needed to buy
basics. By basics I mean the essential things that feed and keep the body
On this particularly frustrating day I was wondering whether there was no
time-efficient way of queuing in both the balance inquiry and the cash
withdrawal queues at my over-crowded bank.
I was not sure about the amount in my account and therefore had to check the
balance first. That of course meant that I had to join two queues. I
resolutely joined the balance inquiry queue to check if the RTGS transfer
made by my counterpart a week earlier was reflecting in my account.
Though pained by the many hours of queuing I found comfort in the fact that
I was not the only one who was struggling to get their cash. There were
thousands others who had thronged the banking halls dotted around the
country in order to get their cash.
I had driven from my home to town but there were others from remote areas
like Jerera Growth Point who had walked 20km to get their cash.
How frustrating could it have been to a granny who had spent hours in a
queue trying to get money deposited by her son in Harare?
What about a retired teacher who had spent a day trying to get his/her $5
million pension pay-out from the National Social Security Authority?
All these possibilities made me sad but it helped me understand that mine
was not the worst of situations.
With boredom creeping in I began chatting with others in the queue. There
were people who had joined the queue at 6am. There were others who had been
struggling to get their cash for weeks.
I needed cash to buy basics but there were others who had desperate needs
like money to buy a coffin and feed mourners at a funeral.
Then there were others who wanted cash to transport their sick relatives
from rural areas. There were still others with medical prescription notes.
They badly needed cash to buy medicine. I can't imagine what happened to
those who are terminally ill. It was all desperate. It was sad.
And as I pondered the dim prospects of when I would be served I reflected on
the events leading me to this time-wasting fiasco.
First the RBZ had announced the $200 000 notes would be rendered valueless
on December 31.
The logic was that most of the $200 000 were held by barons who were holding
on to cash to fund their parallel market deals.
In the meantime the price of commodities and services resumed their upward
trend in earnest after government dismally lost the price-control battle.
My understanding, not backed by a thorough research though, tells me that
most people were just not banking their money because once locked in the
bank they would find it difficult to withdraw it. In other words people had
lost their confidence in the banking sector.
The other explanation is that at the rate at which prices were surging there
was bound to be a shortage of cash. People just needed more notes to buy
I don't know much about the cash barons' theory but I am sure it is not the
From my chat with others in the queues I got to understand that generally
people don't want explanations as to why they are not getting their money.
Instead they are more interested in getting their money and using it as they
Withdrawing money should not constitute a day's work for any sane person. If
withdrawing cash takes the whole day then where will time for other
productive operations come from?
In the current circumstances adequate cash to make purchases of even the
essential commodities and services is not obtainable from the banks, hence
the endless queues. The cost of such a crisis to a country's economy is
Given the service rate per customer at the enquiries service point, I
estimate that I would be in that particular queue for at least 30 minutes
and would be in the longer cash withdrawal queue for at least an hour
assuming that the RTGS transfer had succeeded.
I estimated that I will be in the bank for roughly two hours. Going by the
RBZ's estimate which puts the number of bank retail customers at two
million, an average aggregate over all bank retail customers of about four
million hours of productive time is lost everyday that this cash crisis
This translates to upwards of 400 days or upwards of one year of productive
time lost in a day. Given that the queuing was the order of the day for
about three months, about 60 years of productive time was lost on bank
queuing during this time.
Given the national budget which stated that Zimbabwe's GDP was $16
quadrillion one easily ascertains the real damage of this crisis on the
The $16 quadrillion translates to US$10 million when using the Old Mutual
implied rate. This GDP forecast translates to a per capita GDP of about $1,5
billion or US$970 assuming that Zimbabwe's population is 11 million.
If it is assumed that the two hours that each customer lost each day of the
last quarter of the year 2007 is a quarter of an eight-hour working day,
then the whole country lost about 25 days of production in the last three
This would therefore mean that each customer lost an equivalent of 7% of
their per capita GDP in the last quarter of 2007. When will we get the time
to recover these losses I wonder!
* Martin Tarusenga is Principal Consultant of Systemics Consulting.
Fri, 04 Jan 2008
Zimbabwean students studying or intending to study in South Africa are now
required to have medical aid cover from that country as a new visa
application requirement, Zimbabwe's Herald online reported on Friday.
Until the new regulation, students studying in SA were covered by their
Zimbabwean medical aid societies, the Herald said.
"However, the SA Embassy recently stopped processing study permits for
Zimbabwean students using local medical aid societies, which they said were
not registered with South Africa's Council for Medical Schemes."
The students were advised to get medical aid cover from South Africa.
Head of civic and immigration at the embassy, MD Nzuzo is said to have also
written to Premier Service Medical Aid Society — which provides cover to
several students studying at universities and colleges in South Africa —
advising students applying for study permits to present a letter from the SA
Council for Medical Schemes.
"It is now a statutory requirement that foreign students who are in
possession of foreign medical cover or insurance, who approach the
Department to apply for a study permit, must simultaneously present a letter
from the Council for Medical Schemes, confirming the recognition of foreign
medical insurance or cover in the Republic," he reportedly said.
However, PSMAS group operations executive Enock Chitekedza said although his
company had, through the Association of Healthcare Funders of Zimbabwe,
tried to gain recognition their efforts "had been in vain."
Head of the Compliance Office of the Registrar of Medical Schemes in SA,
Evan Theys, is said to have told PSMAS that his office only dealt with
"Please note that this office deals with individual applications of students
seeking recognition of their medical coverage for study permits, as per
instructions from National Department of Home Affairs," he said.
He further suggested that PSMAS should take the matter up with the National
Department of Home Affairs, the Herald reported.
Friday, 04 January 2008 13:42
BY TRUST MATSILELE
Johannesburg- The ZANU PF government has secured at least 60 places for
children related to senior party and government officials at Rhodes
University in Grahamstown, South Africa for the 2008 academic year. The move
follows the deportations of a number of chidren related to ZANU PF officials
studying at various universities in while the United States government is
mulling the deportation of other children related to ZANU PF officials from
Accoding to sources in the Zimbabwe government, the government was looking
for friendly countries such as South Africa to send their children for
univesity studies as it felt ashamed by the deportations of last year from
This had seen the move of securing places at Rhodes University which is
viewed as one of the best colleges in South Africa.
Among those that are expected to be enrolled at Rhodes University are; the
two children of the RBZ govenor Gideon Gono and the son of Police
Commissioner Austine Chihuri.
Zimbabwe Revolutinary Youth Movement official, John Chikawri, said that the
organisation was planning to meet officials at Rhodes University in an
attempt to stop the enrollment of the students as the recruitment was a sign
of proping up the Zimbabwe government's mismanagement of the economy.
The Zimbabwe Consulate's spokesperson Chris Mapanga when reached for
comment said every Zimbabwean enjoyed a right to study in a country and at
an institution of their choice .
Friday, 04 January 2008 13:48
HARARE, (Zimbabwe)-WORK has started to refurbish the first of the four
generator units at Hwange Power Station, under the ZESA- NAMPOWER agreement
which was signed at the beginning of last year during President Mugabe's
visit to Namibia.
In an interview with CAJ News on Thursday, (January 3), ZESA Chief Executive
Officer, Engineer Ben Rafemoyo, said most of the work on the first unit is
"Delay in sourcing installation materials had held up the commissioning of
the plant which should have started generating power, exporting 40 megawatts
to Namibia by this month," said Rafemoyo. Engineer Rafemoyo said work on the
unit is now expected to be completed by the 20th of this month and that
commissioning should take place at the end of the month.
"Refurbishment of the other three units covered by the NAMPOWER-ZESA
agreement will be completed by August as Engineer teams from the two
countries are working throughout to ensure that deadlines are met," he said.
The refurbishment project will unlock the generation capacity at Hwange and
pay back US$40 million advanced by NAM-POWER through the electricity exports
that will be increased from 40 megawatts to 150 megawatts at the completion
of the project that comprises the four generation units-CAJ News.
Friday, 04 January 2008 16:11
BULAWAYO - The ruling ZANU (PF) party is threatened with disintegration,
amid reports that some powerful former FP ZAPU politicians in Matabeleland
are accusing President Robert Mugabe of disrepecting the 1987 Unity Accord.
Mugabe's ZANU (PF) and opposition FP ZAPU, which was being led by Joshua
Nkomo (now late) signed the unifying peace pact, which ended years of
antagonism, in a development that elevated Nkomo to the post of second Vice
The unity accord, which saw the merger of the two previously antagonistic
liberation war parties into one ZANU (PF), also ended seven years of
genocide by Mugabe, in which his North Korea-trained Fifth Brigade
(Gukurahundi) troops butchered an estimated 20 000 civilians in the
Matabeleland region and the Midlands province, under the guise of fighting
dissidents belonging to ZIPRA, ZAPU's former military wing.
When Nkomo died in 1999, he was succeeded by Joseph Msika, as the unity
accord showed signs of continuing.
However, party sources revealed to The Zimbabwean this week that some
Bulawayo-based party officials are mulling pulling out of the unity accord,
after levelling various allegations of treachery by Mugabe.
The politicians, who are led by Msika, Senator Joshua Malinga and politburo
member, Dumiso Dabengwa, are said to be unhappy with the way Mugabe and
other members of his pre-independence ZANU (PF) continue to overlook
Matabeleland on developmental issues, and the way Mugabe has over-ridden
some critical decisions made by the Bulawayo provincial leaders on party
They accuse Mugabe of betraying the spirit of natiuonal unity by these
actions, according to the sources.
The sources further revealed that Msika has on several occasions threatened
to resign from his post as Vice President, citing Mugabe's disrepect for him
as the main reason.
"Msika now wants out and Mugabe is scared that once that happens, the other
disgruntled party members will also pull out of the unity accord and revive
the simmering spirit of ZAPU. On those grounds, he (Mugabe) is is always
begging Msika to remain in office so that he can continue to hold the two
sides together. Msika is now being used in the same manner that Nkomo was
used when he was ailing, until he died in office," said a senior party
The recent clash between Mugabe and Msika over the former's persistent
endeavours to try and drag national war veterans leader, Jabulani Sibanda
back into Bulawayo province through the back door is also said to have
worsened matters between the two, resulting in the other Matabeleland
leaders voicing their displeasure with Mugabe.
Dabengwa two weeks ago told journalists at the Bulawayo Press Club that the
Gukurahundi issue should be re-visitted and Mugabe needed to compensate
those who suffered the attroicities.
"There is more happening behind the scenes than meets the eye due to this
internal conflict in the party. The local party leaders are also not happy
with the way Mugabe used war veterans to campaign for his election as the
party's presidential candidate in this year's elections, which saw them
threaten respected officials and coying them into accepting Mugabe's
candidature," said another senior politician.
When reached for comment, Bulawayo province spokesman Effort Nkomo, could
neither deny nor confirm anything about the internal conflict.
"Every big organisation has its ups and down and it is how those are dealt
with that matters. We are a party with laid down procedures of voicing our
displeasure and that is not usually done through the press," said Nkomo.
Zimbabwe Independent (Harare)
4 January 2008
Posted to the web 4 January 2008
ZIMBABWE could lose US$60 million that was supposed to be injected into a
new diamond project if government's proposed indigenisation regulations
Rio Tinto which owns 56% of Rio Tinto Zimbabwe (RioZim) this week said it
could be forced to review a planned diamond project if the indigenisation
laws and fixed exchange rate persist.
Parliament recently passed the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Bill
which is now awaiting President Robert Mugabe's signature to become law.
Parliament is also debating the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill which will
specifically target foreign owned mines.
Rio Tinto also said it was increasingly becoming unviable for the company to
embark on its plans to start a new diamond mine due to the fixed exchange
rate. The official exchange rate is at $30 000 to the greenback while the
parallel market rate is above $2 million.
"It seems there will be no change in the pricing regime in the foreseeable
future and further decisions about the mine's future may have to be made in
light of the proposed empowerment laws," said Rio Tinto in a statement.
Mining companies are not allowed to source foreign currency from the
parallel market. President of the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines, Jack Murehwa,
recently said the fixed rate made illegal gold trading lucrative and
"attractive as the mines get more from the parallel market than from the
RioZim operates Murowa diamond mine and also controls three gold mines
namely Renco, Patchway and Cam & Motor Dump.
Apart from the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Bill which requires
all foreign owned companies to have a major shareholder who is local, there
is also the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill which also gives the
government the legislative authority to acquire 51% of foreign companies
mining "strategic fuels and minerals".
The state will also have the power to take 25% of the 51% ceded without
paying for it while the balance of 26% would have to be paid for under a
Impala Platinum the major shareholder of Zimbabwe Platinum mine last year
expressed discomfort and concerns over the same issues.
Analysts said if either the indigenisation Bill or the mines and minerals
amendment Bill becomes law, it would be difficult for the mining parent
companies to have confidence in the local mining sector.
January 4, 2008
Peter Chingoka, Zimbabwe Cricket's beleagured chairman, is believed to be
holding talks with Ray Mali, the acting president of the ICC, while they
attend the second Test between South Africa and West Indies at Newlands.
Mali, as with most senior South African administrators, is a staunch
supporter of Zimbabwe's cause, but he will have been deeply embarrassed by
Chingoka's comments to the local media following a supposedly private
meeting between the two of them and Giles Clarke, the ECB chairman. An angry
Clarke reported complained to the ICC about Chingoka's remarks, which
included a claim that Clarke had offered money in return for Zimbabwe
cancelling their 2009 tour of England. Clarke denied that any offer had been
A source close to the ICC told Cricinfo that the backing for Zimbabwe which
Chingoka has enjoyed from his colleagues on the ICC's executive board is
beginning to waver, and Chingoka's own position is thought to have weakened
in the light of ongoing allegations of financial mismanagement levelled
Last summer a leaked document from Malcolm Speed, the ICC's chief executive,
made some serious claims against the financial management of ZC, and an
independent forensic audit commissioned by the ICC is due to be presented at
the next executive board meeting in March. If, as some suggest, that
endorses Speed's concerns then Mali will be wary of publicly aligning too
closely with Chingoka.
Chingoka has bullishly claimed of late that Zimbabwe will regain Test status
by 2009, but his talks with Mali are likely to centre on more pressing