BY NDAMU SANDU
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) allowed the $200 000 bearer cheques
to remain in circulation after failing to print enough replacement notes, an
investigation by The Standard has established.
RBZ governor Gideon Gono said last month the $200 000 notes’ shelf
life would end on 31 December last year because unnamed cash barons were
holding on to the money.
He announced new $250 000, $500 000 and $750 000 bearer cheques, a
stop-gap measure to alleviate the cash crisis.
But last Monday Gono was singing a different tune, saying he had
extended the life of the bearer notes as some areas had become impassable
because of floods and rugged terrain, which had hindered the movement of the
An investigation by The Standard last week revealed the bank’s swap
teams, sent out to various parts of the country, spent most of their time
loitering at growth points or sleeping in hotels as they quickly ran out of
new notes to swap with the old bearer cheques.
The teams did not even show up in some areas, sending panicky
villagers into shopping sprees to dispose of their hard-earned cash.
In other areas the teams did not have enough cash to swap with the
villagers’ bearer cheques. Similar reports were received from areas such as
Chegutu, Zvimba and Chinhoyi.
Residents in Goromonzi said the team was nowhere to be seen, despite
promises it would be stationed at a police outpost.
They said they ended up using the bearer cheques to buy goods, just to
beat the 31 December deadline.
"I lost my savings as I ended up buying things I did not want for the
sake of disposing of the money," said John Aphiri, who sells mushrooms at
the shopping centre.
"Now I have to look for money to pay school fees for my children as
schools are opening in two weeks’ time."
Another resident, calling himself just Clayton, said he incurred
unnecessary expense travelling to Harare to beat the deadline.
At Gosha School in the bustling KwaBhora growth point along the
Harare-Nyamapanda road the RBZ team did not have enough of the new notes.
As a result, villagers and general dealers said the team only swapped
notes for limited amounts.
"The team would even give one as little as $10 million when they
wanted to change as much as $50 million," said a trader at the growth point.
Itai Lindiwe Marekera, who runs a food outlet, said people failed to
use their money as most shops refused to accept the $200 000 notes in the
run-up to 31 December.
She said: "I accepted the notes as my suppliers, Delta, were accepting
In Dema, shop owners recorded low business in the run-up to the
Gono won the European Marketing Research Centre Africa Award, for
instilling discipline in the country’s financial sector and also in
recognition of his efforts in turning around Zimbabwe’s troubled economy.
But observers say he failed to resolve the cash crunch which continued
into the New Year.
Observers said Gono must name the so-called cash barons he accused of
starving the nation of cash, unless his comments were aimed at "some
Analysts say the cash crisis exposed the shortcomings of Gono’s
administration and the bells could be tolling for him, as his first term in
office expires at the end of this year.
Economists and trade unionists have called for his resignation.
Gono was appointed to the job in 2003, as a turnaround specialist,
having transformed the then Bank of Credit and Commerce International into
the jewel that became the CBZ.
But his magic wand has become rusty, or, much more likely, his luck
has run out, just as he was beginning to plan a political career, according
to his critics.
BY WALTER MARWIZI
FOUR Bills fast-tracked through Parliament before the Christmas
holidays were hailed by their sponsors — both Zanu PF and MDC — as heralding
a new era in Zimbabwe’s politics before the country prepares for the March
The Electoral Laws Amendment Bill, the Public Order and Security Act
Amendment Bill, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
Amendment Bill and the Broadcasting Services Act Amendment Bill were rushed
through Parliament before the House adjourned for the holidays.
The amendments were agreed during the SADC-initiated dialogue meant to
resolve Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa
who represented Zanu PF in the negotiations was upbeat when he moved a set
of motions relating to four Bills in Parliament on 18 December last year.
Two other negotiators from the MDC formations, Tendai Biti and
Professor Welshman Ncube, noted the Bills represented measures they had all
along campaigned for. They needed to be supported by the MPs, they told
Information gleaned from Parliament probably explains why these
politicians, who have met 63 times on their own and another 17 times with SA
facilitators are optimistic that the amendments could level the political
playing field, ahead of the harmonised elections.
POSA has been cited by opposition parties and civic society activists
as the major impediment to their efforts to open up the democratic space in
Police have routinely used POSA to ban or disrupt political gatherings
and to bludgeon defenceless demonstrators in broad daylight.
Under the amended POSA, political parties will no longer have to worry
about police clearance when they hold meetings.
The whole meaning of a public meeting or public gathering consisting
of six or more persons will also change.
Any meeting or gathering would now constitute 15 or more people before
organisers have to worry about POSA. Organisers are required to give written
five days’ notice (or three days during the election period) at the nearest
The gathering or meeting would proceed unless someone, under oath,
informs the regulating authority that there will be violence.
In that scenario, the regulating authority is supposed to enter into
dialogue with the convener of the gathering before issuing any prohibition
order. In the present case, he or she can do so if they believe there will
Appeals against the prohibition orders will be directed to magistrates’
courts, instead of the Minister as is the case now.
Amendments to the Electoral Laws Act will see the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission keeping the voters’ roll open at all times for voters to inspect.
Important to note is that the Bill outlaws "electoral intimidation"
and clearly defines it as "attempts to compel a person to vote for a
political party or candidate, to attend a political meeting or march as well
as attempts to compel a person to refrain from signing a nomination paper or
lodging a nomination paper with a constituency officer.
Election petitions would be lodged within 14 days to the Electoral
Court whose judges are appointed by the Chief Justice in consultation with
the Judicial Service Commission.
Amendments to the Broadcasting Services Act Amendment Bill seek to
stop the Minister of Information and Publicity from running affairs that
should be administered by the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe.
Under the new arrangement, BAZ would now invite applications for
broadcasting licences "subject only to the availability of band spectrum and
the observance of certain formalities".
Currently it does so "if it determines that there is a need for the
provision of additional broadcasting services" other than free to air
broadcasting services. This scenario has allowed the government to get away
with failure to license private players.
In the case of AIPPA, amendments will result in the establishment of a
statutory Zimbabwe Media Council which will replace the discredited Media
and Information Commission (MIC).
But it will basically perform the same functions as the MIC, such as
licensing journalists and media organisations and provides little cause for
journalists to celebrate.
To the negotiators who met SA President Thabo Mbeki three times last
year, these amendments are "what is needed" to pave the way for the holding
of the harmonised elections.
But the question uppermost in critics’ minds is this: can they
guarantee a free and fair election and is there time for these changes to be
effected and be effective in time for the elections?
Critics question whether the government, notorious for disregarding
its own laws, will be bound by the amendments during election time.
In the House of Assembly, the only MP who had the courage to condemn
the amendments was St Mary’s Job Sikhala who said the opposition was being
fooled by Mugabe and Zanu PF in the talks.
Sikhala who has borne the brunt of POSA for countless times, said the
opposition had been abused and taken for a ride by the government, keen on
maintaining "Machiavellian legislation".
Outside Parliament, MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai echoed the same
sentiments, saying only a new constitution could guarantee a poll acceptable
to all the parties.
He said Mugabe was "selectively picking up points of agreement and
shoving them onto Zimbabwe in a piece-meal manner to present a picture of
reform, at home and in SADC".
The intention was to mislead SADC into believing that a lasting
political solution was on the cards, he said.
Constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku, the chairperson of the
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) said any politician who thought the
amendments could clear the way for an even contest was fooling himself.
"That person should not be in opposition politics," said Madhuku,
saying the amendments would not change anything but make things worse.
Madhuku said the amendments did not remove the major pillars of POSA.
"Anyone who wants to hold a meeting or demonstration has to inform the
police, who have powers to stop the meeting from going ahead."
He said under the amended POSA it became easier for police and
security agents to identify and deal with whoever was organising a public
meeting, gathering or demonstration.
"POSA will require that the convener of the gathering not just
identify himself or herself but release his or her address when giving
notice. Why do they need those details, one may ask? For intelligence
gathering, simple," said Madhuku who has been beaten up several times for
organising demonstrations for a new constitution.
By Kholwani Nyathi
BULAWAYO — Isaac Nyathi, the former senior PF Zapu leader who died on
28 December was granted hero status minutes before his burial yesterday,
sparking anger among his colleagues in the Zimbabwe People’s Liberation Army
The message of his national hero status was delivered when mourners
had already gathered for the church service at Stanley Square in Makokoba.
As a result of that last-minute decision by the Zanu PF politburo,
Nyathi was buried at Lady Stanley Cemetery, instead of the Heroes’ Acre in
Nyathi joined the late Zipra commander, Lookout Masuku, granted hero
status only after his burial, and Masala Sibanda, whose burial at the same
cemetery in November last year riled many politicians in Matabeleland.
He was declared a national hero long after his burial, in Bulawayo.
The three were among senior PF Zapu politicians arrested, together
with former Home Affairs minister, Dumiso Dabengwa after the alleged
discovery of arms caches on properties owned by ex-Zipra combatants soon
In dramatic scenes, mourners sang songs denouncing President Robert
Mugabe and other senior Zanu PF leaders for allegedly sidelining former PF
The display came at a time when there are strong calls from senior PF
Zapu officials to pull out of the 1987 Unity Accord with Zanu PF because of
They sang: "Mugabe senzeni na saze saphelela ko Greyspan (Lady
Stanley) abanye besiya e Heroes’ Acre. (Mugabe, what have we done that we
are all going to be buried at Greyspan when others are going to the Heroes’
Speaking on behalf of Zipra war veterans and Nyathi’s friends,
Zimbabwe Defence Industries boss Tshinga Dube said the criteria of selecting
national heroes needed to be revisited.
"We copied this idea (of national heroes) from the socialist countries
and it now appears somehow we did not copy it properly," said Dube. "Perhaps
there is need for people to be declared heroes when they are still alive.
"As Nyathi’s friends we strongly feel that this issue must be
revisited because debating someone’s life when he is dead is not proper.
"We now have a situation where we have the highest number of heroes in
the world. I am not sure whether most of them deserve to be heroes."
Dube said the criteria should recognise that most heroes of the
liberation struggle died in action and were not "just mere political
Zanu PF chairman, John Nkomo blamed the late decision on Nyathi’s hero
status on the holidays, saying most politburo members were now "farmers",
which made communication difficult.
But his explanation was ridiculed by mourners who wondered why the
delays only affected former Zipra combatants.
Last year, Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa
claimed the politburo delayed its decision to confer national hero status on
Sibanda because of telephone network problems.
"The message came when we were already here at Stanley Square," Nkomo
said. "There are a number of reasons why Nyathi cannot be taken to Harare,
one of them being that the burial can only be done on Monday, but the body
has been at the mortuary for too long."
The Zanu PF Bulawayo province had by Monday last week informed the
politburo of its request that Nyathi be declared a national hero. But
throughout the week, Mutasa said they were waiting for Acting President
Joseph Msika’s directions on the issue.
Msika is acting while Mugabe is on his annual leave in Asia. Msika was
for a long time deputy to the late Joshua Nkomo, who led the party until his
death in 1999.
Nyathi was involved in the famed Hwange and Sipolilo battles of 1967
and 1968 respectively. After independence he became the country’s ambassador
to Nigeria and Kuwait. He represented Lobengula-Magwegwe constituency in
Parliament between 1995 and 2000.
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE
DAVID Butau, the Zanu PF MP for Guruve who fled to the United Kingdom
a week ago, yesterday challenged Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono to
explain what he called "shady deals" in which he alleged the central bank
Butau fled after the police announced they wanted to question him on
allegations of foreign currency exchange violations.
Speaking in a telephone yesterday, Butau alleged Gono knew of several
RBZ "shady deals" which the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Budget and
Finance, of which he is chairman, was keen to investigate.
Gono yesterday refused to comment, saying in a subdued voice: "I am
not taking any calls. He (Butau) can put all the allegations he wants but I
am not commenting on those matters."
Butau said Gono had frustrated their investigation by refusing to
appear before the committee for a long time, saying he was busy.
Yesterday, Butau said he was personally tasked by "senior Zanu PF
members" to investigate Gono amid suspicion he was "killing and milking" the
country while they watched.
Butau said when he was about to make a breakthrough, the governor
challenged his committee to call him so he could name the alleged cash
Butau is a director in Dande Holdings (Pvt) Limited, a company linked
to Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
Yesterday, he would not name the senior party officials but was
prepared to disclose some of the findings of his investigations.
He challenged Gono to explain how a shelf company, Flatwater
Investments, accessed $7 trillion from the central bank when there was a
cash crisis in the country.
He alleged that Gono instructed the banks not to question the huge
amounts Flatwater was depositing into its accounts.
Butau said Gono should explain his relationship with Michigan Tractors
in South Africa and how he failed to use local companies to import the
"Gono should publish all the payments he made to Flatwater, to
Michigan as well as declare how he bought shares in Doves," Butau said.
The MP said he feared the "evidence against Gono might be destroyed to
cover up the offence".
"Let’s hope they have not tampered with the files at my office. If
they have, we will have to make do with bits and pieces," Butau said.
He alleged Gono was "manipulating" his close relationship with
President Robert Mugabe.
Last week, a Harare prosecutor, Tawanda Zvakare, said he too saw
conspiracy in the way RBZ released money to Flatwater.
"I find it incredulous that the central bank of a country would
release trillions (of dollars) to a company on the strength of a mere
letter, which was not verified. This smacks of a conspiracy between the
central bank and the company to steal all this money," Zvakare said.
He was leading the State’s case in the trial of Joseph Manjoro, of
Harare, who was raising foreign currency for Flatwater to buy tractors from
Manjoro has pleaded guilty to dealing in foreign currency.
The RBZ was criticised in court two weeks when Dorothy Mutekede, an
illegal foreign currency dealer was fined $147 million for dealing in
By Kholwani Nyathi
BULAWAYO — The bodies of three prisoners’ were exhumed last Friday
almost a fortnight after their pauper’s burial because the prison
authorities were accused of trying to conceal the cause of death.
The prisoners from Khami maximum prison were buried in a single grave
at Luveve cemetery on 21 December.
Prison sources said the controversial episode could lift the lid on an
alleged cover-up of prisoners being buried without the proper procedures
The sources said there was suspicion that such burials were designed
to camouflage the cause of death of inmates who are said to have died of
There has recently been a flood of reports of alarming deaths in
overcrowded jails due to hunger-related ailments, among them pellagra, a
vitamin deficiency disease caused by a lack of vitamin B3 and protein in the
Other deaths being targeted for camouflage occur due to HIV and Aids
complications, reportedly rampant in the prisons.
The relatives of Sibusiso Mkhwananzi (63), raised alarm after Zimbabwe
Prison Service officials informed them of his death only after they had
They demanded the exhumation of the body.
Mkhwananzi was serving an 18-year sentence for rape. He was reportedly
buried within 12 hours of his death, together with two prisoners from
Masvingo, whose relatives, it was claimed, could not be located.
Mkhwananzi’s relatives witnessed the exhumation and said they were
shocked at his treatment while in detention and suspected foul play in his
"We have arranged for a private doctor to carry out a post-mortem
examination before we can rebury him," said Samson Mkhwananzi, a family
"Ever since they informed us of my brother’s death they have been
trying to avoid the exhumation and we have now seen what they have been
"The bodies were just thrown one on top of the other, as if they were
not human beings. Why were they rushing to bury him without following proper
Mkhwananzi’s body was on top of the pile and was barely 60 centimeters
under a heap of soil. The other two bodies were reburied in the same grave.
A prison official, who refused to be identified by name, claimed there
had been a mix-up of bodies at a funeral parlour, leading to Mkhwananzi’s
body being taken straight from the prison mortuary to the cemetery.
"We have an arrangement with the funeral parlour that when we bring
bodies we should remove a certain number that has been there for a long
time," he said.
"The people who were removing the bodies could have left Mkhwananzi’s
body in the car while removing others and ended up mixing it up with those
that were due for burial."
The ZPS officer commanding Matabeleland, Rhodes Moyo, blamed the
incident on a mix-up of bodies and pledged the government would meet the
costs of the re-burial.
During the past two years, Parliament’s portfolio committee on
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs has produced a string of reports
painting a gloomy state of affairs in the country’s 43 prisons.
The reports say prisoners go for days without food, toiletries and
essential medical supplies.
BY JENNIFER DUBE
POLICE are investigating reports of officers demanding bribes from
motorists every day on a number of commuter bus routes into Harare, police
spokesperson assistant commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said last week.
His comments follow reports of a proliferation of groups of officers
setting up permanent fund-raising spots on a number of routes.
"The (police) organisation is determined to weed out such bad apples,"
said Bvudzijena, "and we therefore urge the public to report to us all such
officers involved in corrupt activities of any nature.
"We also warn the public against participating in such activities
because once caught, the organisation will also deal with them . . . they
should keep their vehicles in good order and desist from paying bribes."
There were recent press reports that in Bulawayo, traffic police beat
to death a commuter omnibus driver who refused to give them a bribe.
In Harare, such areas as Dzivarasekwa and Westgate are abuzz with talk
of a group of four officers, nicknamed The Four Brothers after the band of
the same name, led by the late drummer/singer, Marshall Munhumumwe.
In Dzivarasekwa, the group is called The Four Brothers and a Sister
when accompanied by a female officer who occasionally joins them on their
now popular spot.
Reports say their modus operandi is to flag down private cars,
commuter omnibuses, buses and tractors, creating the facade of traffic
officers doing a thorough job in their mission to save lives on the road.
Commuters are sometimes delayed by as long as 20 minutes as bus
conductors negotiate within earshot of the passengers.
Usually, the driver and the conductor are heard discussing possible
reasons for negotiating for a lower bribe as they approach the spot near the
Harare Drive turn-off.
"They do not do anything, those ones . . . all they do is fund-raise
on this road," said one driver. "Have you ever seen them checking any
vehicles? All they are interested in is the conductor who handles our
takings . . . . In the past, police officers would talk to the driver,
asking for the driver’s licence and vehicle papers but the conductor is
these guys’ main man."
Several crews interviewed by The Standard said they were forced to
bribe their way onto the road every day.
They said the police officers, normally at their base as early as 7AM,
usually "bother" them on their first encounter of the day.
"They just stop you for the money and we now have a familiar fee
structure of $2.5m for buses, $2m for kombis and $1.5m for private cars,"
said another driver.
On payment of the fee — called the admission of guilt fine — they are
given a receipt which reflects the altered figure of $40 000.
"On the first encounter, they never fail to find you with an offence.
Either you admit you have extra passengers, even if you don’t or you choose
another offence to get the yellow paper (receipt) which buys your freedom
for the rest of the day," said yet another driver. "But when the day is not
very good for them, they can stop you again and ask you to buy them a drink
In one incident, witnessed by this reporter, a commuter omnibus driver
begged the officers for a single-day exemption.
"Every day, honestly?" he pleaded. "Kindly forgive me for today only."
He was allowed to pass without a fine or...a bribe.
The average monthly salary of a police officer is less than $20
By Kholwani Nyathi
BULAWAYO – Villagers in most parts of Matabeleland are selling their
livestock in South African Rand, citing the volatility of the Zimbabwean
dollar whose value continues to tumble against major currencies.
The government already levies "luxury imports" in foreign currency but
has rejected suggestions to adopt the more stable Rand to shore up the
economy, in free-fall for the past 10 years.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon Gono, has warned
against the widespread use of scarce foreign currency in the trade of local
goods and services, which he says is illegal.
But villagers complain their savings are quickly eroded by rampaging
inflation, now estimated at over 15 000%.
Their fears have been compounded by the month-long cash crisis during
which the RBZ banned the use of $200 000 bearer cheques, which it said were
being kept out of the system by so-called cash barons.
The ban was later reversed after the shortages worsened. Cattle for
slaughter fetch anything above R3 000 or $600 million on the black market
while goats were selling for R500 or $100 million during the festive season.
"People are no longer accepting Zimdollars, even for lobola (bride
price)," said Mnindwa Tshabangu of Guyu, Gwanda South.
"Besides they spend most of their time working outside the country and
they want an assurance that their savings will not be eroded by inflation."
The practice is said to be widespread in villages bordering South
Africa and Botswana, to which most Zimbabweans have trekked in search of
By Bertha Shoko
ZIMBABWEANS face yet another bleak health year, having barely survived
the problems that made 2007 a miserable year.
Health experts predicted last week as long as the economic and
political problems continued, it was unlikely there would be any changes in
the health sector.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Health and Child
Welfare Blessing Chebundo said the health sector enters 2008 with "arrears"
from previous years.
He said these were the exodus of professionals, poor working
conditions and the pathetic state of life-saving machines.
He said there was a serious lack of government commitment to address
"For 2008, I know that ordinary, poor working people who depend on the
public health system will be bitterly disappointed again," he said.
"Nurses and doctors are constantly on strike and the government has
not been able to repair essential medical equipment."
Parirenyatwa hospital had one dialysis machine out of the 18
functional. Patients requiring dialysis treatment were receiving three
sessions, instead of the recommended 20 a week, he said.
Shortage of drugs and other medicines at hospitals continued because
of the "poor foreign currency allocations" by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
The president of the Zimbabwe Medical Association, Dr Paul Chimedza,
said the health sector required "serious commitment" from the government,
the corporate world and individuals.
Chimedza and a group of local business people and those in the
Diaspora formed the Zimbabwe Health Access Trust to fund-raise for the
The president of the Zimabwe Association of Doctors for Human Rights
(ZADHR), Dr Douglas Gwatidzo said the government lacked the political will
to solve the health sector crisis.
Gwatidzo said: "In 2006 just before Christmas we had a strike by
medical professionals and we entered 2007 with this issue unresolved. This
year, we entered 2008 again with a strike.
"Since 1997 we have trained 100 doctors a year. By 2007 we should have
at least 1 000 doctors. But we only have about 120."
For HIV and Aids activist Zhuwao Zangarati and other HIV positive
persons, disappointment relates to the government’s failure to scale up
Antiretroviral Therapy (ART).
Zangarati says he is pessimistic of any changes in 2008.
There are 90 000 people on ART compared with the 600 000-plus in
urgent need of it.
Zangarati said: "I have watched many of my friends and relatives die
this year because they cannot afford ARVs. All we did was to watch
Meanwhile, health professionals who have been striking for the past
two weeks are said to be "slowly returning to work, with low morale".
Hospital Doctors’ Association spokesperson, Amon Sivereki said they
had not called off the strike but confirmed some professionals were
"trickling" back to work.
"We are still waiting to hear from the Health Services Board because
they assured us they were looking into our issue," he said.
The Minister of Health and Child Welfare, David Parirenyatwa, could
not be reached for comment by the time of going to press.
By Nqobani Ndlovu
BULAWAYO — Zapu-Federal Party, which last year spearheaded the
formation of a Matabeleland-based coalition to contest the forthcoming
harmonised elections, is now embroiled in a leadership wrangle.
The party had hoped to join the Movement for Democratic Change before
the elections in March.
Last week, The Standard was told that a number of senior Zapu-FP
leaders had ousted their leader, Paul Siwela, after he allegedly agreed to
form the Federal Democratic Union (FDU), which would fight the poll
alongside Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC.
The leaders claimed Siwela had no mandate to negotiate such a
Siwela has been at the helm of Zapu-FP for the past seven years but
during the 2002 presidential election he stood as an independent after
disagreeing with other leaders over participation.
He entered the race against President Robert Mugabe who won in
controversial circumstances, narrowly beating his main rival, the then
united MDC’s Tsvangirai.
Zapu-FP negotiated with political parties in Matabeleland, including
the Patriotic Union of Matabeleland (PUMA), with which it shares an
ideology, and a number of civic groups, to form an alliance seeking a
coalition with the MDC.
But PUMA later pulled out, saying the process was against its
principles and policies.
Zapu-FP secretary-general, Sikhumbuzo Dube, claimed Siwela had been
forced to relinquish the presidency by members who opposed the setting up of
"Siwela is no longer the president of Zapu-FP," Dube said in an
interview. "He has a right to say he is president of FDU, not Zapu-FP.
"If he says he is still a party member, then he is just a general
card-carrying member. We are managing the situation and I am currently the
acting president until we hold our congress next month."
Siwela, in an interview, dismissed the reports of his ouster, saying:
"This is an agenda against me ahead of the elections. I am still the
president of Zapu-FP. We indeed entered into negotiations with other parties
as Zapu-FP and formed FDU."
There have been calls for opposition groups to unite for a meaningful
challenge to Zanu PF in the presidential, parliamentary, Senate and local
The two formations of the MDC have publicly pledged their desire to
re-unite but there are reports of differences over the nature of the
Siwela has been president of Zapu-FP since April 2000 and contested
and lost a parliamentary seat in Mpopoma during the same year.
Zapu-FP is campaigning for a federal system in which the provinces
would be governed autonomously. The party claims Matabeleland lags behind in
development because of the unitary system.
The party claims this set up has tended to centralise power in one
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE
ZANU PF has tightened the screws on the operations of non-governmental
organisations (NGOs) perceived to be against the ruling party, The Standard
Representatives of NGOs last week said intimidation and harassment of
NGO workers by Zanu PF youth militia and traditional leaders in rural areas
was increasing as the 2008 elections draw nearer.
The NGOs said political harassment was most pronounced in rural areas
countrywide where Zanu PF commands most of its support and is determined to
maintain its stranglehold.
The party has on several occasions accused NGOs of working with the
opposition and the West in order to effect "regime change".
National Association for Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango)
expressed concern at the harassment of its affiliates.
"We are worried by the increasing cases where workers of NGOs are seen
as enemies of the State," said Fambayi Ngirande, Nango’s advocacy and
communications manager. "The NGO Human Rights Forum has documented several
He lamented the lack of a democratic structure to facilitate the full
participation of civic society in development activities in the country.
Another organisation, the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) said it has
recorded increased cases of people being intimidated for their involvement
in civic society activities in November.
ZPP said among the organisations targeted are the Civic Education
Network Trust (Civnet), Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn), Women of
Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) and the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA).
It cited an example in Shamva where Zanu PF operatives recently
accused a local woman of holding MDC campaign meetings under the camouflage
of a Zesn workshop.
The woman was threatened with eviction from her plot if she continued
to work for Zesn.
The woman, who could not be named for fear of further reprisal from
Zanu PF, was publicly forced to renounce any future participation in civic
organisations for her to secure her plot.
"The woman is now living in perpetual fear of eviction and she has
since withdrawn her participation in civic organisations," said ZPP in its
latest monthly bulletin. "NGOs continue to be subjected to different forms
of violations during the course of their work."
Zesn last week confirmed receiving such a report from Shamva but said
the issue had been "amicably" resolved.
In some rural areas, people seen reading newspapers other than the
official State newspapers are being threatened or being beaten up, in scenes
reminiscent of previous violent elections when people were assaulted for
carrying The Daily News.
Just before the 2000 elections, people caught reading or carrying
newspapers critical of the government such as The Daily News, The Standard
or the Zimbabwe Independent, were assaulted. Some were forced to "eat" the
The ZPP said in Mashonaland Central Province people were recently
harassed for listening to the Voice of America-based Studio 7, reading the
Zimbabwe Independent and The Zimbabwean newspapers, viewed as opposition
tools for regime change.
"The ruling party, Zanu PF, continues to stifle people’s access to
alternative information from the only state-owned broadcasting stations and
few local newspapers," said ZPP
Ngirande said Nango would continue to lobby government to consider
NGOs as partners in development, especially in the present political and
economic crisis, which has rendered 80% of the population poor.
BY OUR STAFF
BULAWAYO — A Zanu PF councillor has been charged with diverting to the
black market 165 bags of maize meant for starving villagers in his area.
Reuben Dube, the councillor for Malungu ward in Lupane, Matabeleland
North, was arrested on Thursday last week.
He was arrested under the on-going police Operation Grain Bora
launched two weeks ago in the southern region.
The operation was launched amid allegations of corruption in the
distribution of maize in a province hard-hit by food shortages.
Deputy Officer Commanding Police in Matabeleland North responsible for
operations, Assistant Commissioner Christopher Gora said more than 100
people had been arrested since the operation began.
Among these was Dube, arrested for channelling maize to the black
market. He appeared briefly at the Lupane Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday
before Magistrate, Edwin Marecha.
The 165 bags of maize were sourced from the Grain Marketing Board
(GMB) Lupane depot. Maize is given to councillors in Lupane to distribute to
villagers in their wards.
Charges against the councillor are that he converted to his own use a
whole maize meal allocation from GMB meant for starving villagers in Malungu
Villagers in the area are threatened with starvation after half of
last season’s crop was written off due to poor rains and lack of fertilizer
and other farming inputs.
They have to rely on maize sourced from the GMB.
By Davison Maruziva
AS Africans met in Washington recently to explore multiple approaches
for Diaspora-led development activities, a local initiative to attract
investment and skills from this group is already underway, The Standard can
African Diaspora, defined as peoples of African descent/origin living
outside the continent, play an increasingly important role in the continent’s
development, both through the financial resources they send back to their
home countries and through their professional expertise.
Soon after independence Zimbabwe launched the National Manpower Survey
and through it a matrix of approaches was employed to develop, strengthen
and retain critical skills. The initiative saw growth in the number of
personnel critical to the development of the country. It did wonderful
things in the 1980s.
Dr Ibbo Mandaza, who was one of the key figures behind the survey,
told The Standard that Uganda and Zambia had been able to attract Diasporan
resources to the extent that these countries no longer suffer from the
skills outflows that characterise Zimbabwe.
Mandaza confirmed there was a local initiative that involved the World
Bank — essentially confirming the Washington indaba. "We are also trying to
engage the World Bank and other multi-national organisations to do what they
did in Uganda and Zambia."
Remittance flows from the African Diaspora are in excess of US$4-6
billion a year and a significant number of professionals from the continent
are living outside Africa, according to a 2005 World Bank report. In order
to engage with these groups and support the African Union’s ongoing effort
to work with the African Diaspora, the World Bank held an African Diaspora
Open House early this month in Washington with more than 200 representatives
from groups based in the United States and Canada to discuss opportunities
for closer collaboration.
Among other initiatives, the World Bank announced that it would
collaborate with the African Union in exploring the possibilities for the
development of a Diaspora Remittances Investment Fund, which will be based
on global experiences that exploit the benefits of and leverage remittances
to finance Diaspora-led development activities, in a manner similar to
existing mechanisms in Latin America.The World Bank is also exploring
multiple approaches for working with the African Diaspora, through six
The first of these approaches involves engagement of the Diaspora—in
collaboration with African member countries— in the design and
implementation of the ongoing portfolio of World Bank-assisted projects, and
in the planned pipeline of proposed new World Bank-assisted projects over a
two-year period, effective from next year (2008).
The second is on partnerships with private sector organisations,
notably multi-national corporations with strong business interests in
Support for Diaspora to build on ongoing efforts through a blended
strategy of "virtual" participation; short, medium and long term placements;
return and retention; and institutional networks, is another of the
The third involves dialogue with donors to contribute to a proposed
African Diaspora Engagement and Facilitation Fund to support programme
activities. Facilitation of policy-relevant networks on topical issues such
as sub/regional integrated infrastructure, energy, transportation, and
research on diverse topics is the fourth approach.
Support to African governments in creating the enabling policy and
institutional environment to harness Diaspora potential; strengthening
Africa’s response to globalization, is another of the approaches.
"The World Bank is in a very strategic position to assist in the
mobilization of the African Diaspora in support of economic development on
the ground in Africa" said Melvin P Foote, President of the Constituency for
Africa (CFA) a 16-year-old Washington, D.C. based network of organisations,
groups and individuals committed to the progress and empowerment of Africa
and African people worldwide. "Engaging the Diaspora in providing technical
assistance in Africa may well create the necessary synergy to transform how
development will be pursued on the continent in the future".
More than a third of Africa’s highly qualified human resources are
presently in the Diaspora. Studies show that the most educated Africans
increasingly opt not to return to the continent and stay in their host
country after completion of their studies. A survey of African PhD students
in the US and Canada in 1986-96 showed that about 44% decided to stay.
The impact of the non-return has been debilitating on Africa’s public
and private sectors, in some cases forcing countries to rely on high rates
of international consultants to tackle development work. A partnership with
the African Diaspora for the continent’s development is thus essential to
enable Africa to increase its capacity to use and apply knowledge and
increase its access to financial resources.
With support from African governments, the World Bank hopes to use its
engagement with the African Diaspora to strengthen the performance of its
extensive portfolio of investment and development policy loans in the region
(about US$22 billion) by better engaging the African Diaspora with
government support, in the over US$6 billion of technical assistance which
is financed by this portfolio.
By our reporter
WHEN schools open for the first term of New Year (2008) next week
children are likely to be greeted by classes without teachers, The Standard
A combination of government failure to pay teachers decent salaries
and increasing demand for Zimbabwean skills in the region has combined to
contribute to the growing exodus of professionals.
In December the Provincial Department of Education in the Limpopo
Province of South Africa announced it had created more than 5 300 teaching
posts "in order to ensure the province’s children receive quality
South Africa reportedly produces about 5 000 teachers every year but
20 000 of them leave the profession annually.
The Province lies across the Limpopo River and its proximity to
Zimbabwe could prove a major pull factor for under-rated and frustrated
professionals in this country.
Vacancies in Limpopo Province for more than 3 100 teachers, nearly 1
500 heads of departments, nearly 600 deputy principals and almost 200
principals need to be filled by April next year.
Ndo Mangala, a spokesperson for the province’s Department of Education
said: "We want teachers who want to raise our people from illiteracy by
providing quality education and instilling discipline."
Mangala said while some posts had resulted from teachers resigning,
being transferred, dismissed or dying, most of the positions were new posts.
Successful applicants would be expected to commence work at the
beginning of April 2008.
But Mangala said 200 posts for support staff — administrative clerks —
had also been advertised with the successful candidates expected to start
work at the end of January.
In another case of how Zimbabwe is haemorrhaging, educationists say
just before the end of 2007, officials from one SADC nation visited Zimbabwe
one weekend. By the time they left, they had signed up 200 teachers. The
move crippled one high school to the extent that it lost all its Science
While the government’s response to the skills migration has been to
reintroduce bonding, teachers’ unions say failure to address demands for a
$310 million a month salary would see more teachers leaving in droves and
that schools would open to the prospect of classes without teachers.
One of the organisations, the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe
(PTUZ), said the government’s response to their demands had fallen far short
of their expectations. The result will be more teachers leaving for the
The government and civil servants representatives have reached a
deadlock over negotiations for salary increments.
Teachers who are members of PTUZ plan to down tools this month if
their demands are not met. PTUZ says they would start mobilizing for a
crippling nation-wide strike once the government failed to respond to its
Teachers earn an average of $15 million a month.
Teachers downed tools more than three times last year demanding better
salaries and working conditions. The PTUZ estimates that 25 000 teachers
left the country last year.
Nurses, doctors and other professionals are leaving the country in
droves in search of better paying jobs in Botswana, South Africa, Britain,
Australia and the United States of America.
BY our CORRESPONDENT
HOTELIERS in the Bvumba area are calling for immediate action to
restore electricity to the area, a month after it was lost, warning that the
current crisis is costing the local tourism sector and the country billions
of dollars in lost revenues.
The Lower Bvumba area outside Mutare has been without power since 9
December, possibly caused by cable thefts in the Fern Valley suburb south of
Mutare city. As the days and weeks have passed, the area without power has
extended further into the Bvumba and it is possible that the entire mountain
range and surrounds could soon be without electricity.
Power has not yet been restored, despite promises of action, and local
residents are doubtful as to whether Zesa is taking any action to do so.
Christmas and New Year — traditionally busy times for local hotels — came
and went with operators battling to honour commitments to travellers booked
during the festive season.
"As was published just before Christmas, we are in a desperate
situation and it seems that nothing is being done," said Gordon Addams,
chairman of the Inns of Zimbabwe group.
At Inn On The Vumba, a popular hotel just outside Mutare, power was
lost on 9 December and although the hotel remains operational, it has been a
time of major challenges for the hotel management and staff, as well as huge
costs of generating alternative power and ferrying in water as boreholes
cannot be used without mains power.
"There are rumours that we are closed because of the crisis and this
is hugely detrimental to our business. We have been reporting the problem on
a daily basis and we have been told that the problem is caused by cable
theft, but there appears to be no action in hand to rectify the situation
and get us back on line," said Addams, who is also Eastern Districts
chairman of the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism.
"We have been forced to turn away a large number of potential guests
and the negative effect on the viability of the establishment is enormous.
Something must be done and, if the cause is cable theft, then the cable must
be replaced and steps taken to prevent further incidents of this nature."
The absence of electricity affects all aspects of a hotel’s
operations, from cuisine and communication to pumping of water and cleaning
According to other hoteliers in the Eastern Highlands, the area
experiences more electrical downtime than any other part of the country,
extending from full days to periods of several days at a time.
"The position regarding power to the Eastern Highlands is a national
shame and something must be done about it immediately," said a tourism
operator who supplies business to the Bvumba and Nyanga areas.
"As we said in the press a few weeks ago, electricity is being cut to
the Eastern Highlands on an almost punitive basis and we are asking why we
should bear the brunt of the national power crisis. The relevant minister
should address the problem as a matter of urgency if he believes tourism
should be supported and nurtured."
By Jennifer Dube and Nqobani Ndlovu
THE high inflation rate, at 14 840% as of last October, is reportedly
dealing heavy blows to Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s Basic Commodities Supply
Side Intervention (Bacossi) facility, with revelations that some
beneficiaries are back at the central bank with begging bowls.
RBZ governor, Gideon Gono last October unveiled the Bacossi facility
in an attempt to assist companies to restock after the government’s
unpopular July price blitz.
The price freeze undermined industry’s operations, instead of
achieving its touted objective of taming runaway inflation.
Although the RBZ is yet to respond to questions sent to them last
year, industry sources said Gono’s Number One enemy, inflation, had a feast
on his Bacossi funds.
"That money is no longer there
. . . it was wiped out well before the festive season and thwarted
initial plans to restock within three months," sources said in Harare last
week. "It never enabled companies to get back on their feet."
Last November, Gono told journalists he had disbursed Z$10 trillion
plus US$13 million to 29 companies under the facility.
Among other beneficiaries was the sugar concern Starafricacorporation,
food producer Cairns Foods, Bulawayo’s edible oil producer United Refineries
Limited (URL) and Ruwa-based packaging material entity Mega Pak.
But most basic goods, including maize-meal, sugar and cooking oil are
yet to be seen in abundance on shop shelves.
URL managing director Busisa Moyo last month said the oil company had
applied for a further $2 trillion after earlier support of about $590
billion was chewed up by ever- increasing production costs.
"We need five times the amount we thought we required to be able to
maintain the current revival production levels which had dropped to almost
zero during the price freeze," he said. "We have since asked for an
additional $2 trillion."
Mega Pak received US$1 million, the largest chunk of the foreign
currency portion from Bacossi. But they are now said to have adopted other
survival strategies, among them hiking prices of their previously subsidised
products to market levels, following the depletion of the funds.
Asked to confirm the reports, Mega Pak managing director Martin
Makomva said his company faced challenges, like any other business in the
"We are in constant communication with the authorities and they are
fully apprised of our requirements," he said. "Like all citizens in the
country, Mega Pak faces major problems occasioned by shortages of foreign
currency, high inflation, flight of skills and poor aggregate demand."
BY NDAMU SANDU
IT’S a New Year and a new beginning for the world but for most
Zimbabweans, it is a continuation of last year’s problems as they struggle
for survival in an environment unprecedented in a country outside a war
A new round of increases in the prices of goods and services coupled,
with cash shortages, is not something any consumer would wish for in the new
For the ordinary worker 2008 has started off badly: commuter omnibuses
hiked fares by 25 percent to $1million for most routes, wiping out the $30
million tax threshold announced last year.
Presenting the 2008 national budget Finance Minister Samuel
Mumbengegwi announced a $30 million tax-free threshold effective this month.
Wellington Chibebe, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)
secretary-general, told The Standard 2008 would be bleak for the majority of
workers earning wages below the poverty datum line.
Chibebe said a number of employers had agreed to pay workers
PDL-linked salaries and wages. He said the cash crunch had reduced workers
to penury having toiled for their wages the whole month.
"In a democracy, Gideon Gono (Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor)
should have resigned," he said. "You spend the whole month working but
cannot access your money; it’s unacceptable."
Analysts warned of a year of turmoil as the situation on the ground
did not point to an improvement.
"The fact that there are no attempts to rein in any of the policies,
2008 is a continuation of 2007 problems," said economist Dr Daniel Ndlela.
"This year promises to be a tough one."
On the agricultural front, the government predicts the nation will
return to its pre-2000 "bread basket" status, describing the 2007-8 season
as the "Mother of all Agricultural seasons" in what analysts say is wishful
"It’s raining and farmers do not have maize seed, no fertiliser. The
season will be a Mother of all agricultural collapse," said Ndlela.
Economic consultant John Robertson agrees:: "Nothing has been planted
as some farmers are saying they don’t have maize seed. Some are saying they
do have tractors but no fuel, while others say they have the fuel but no
tractors. It will be a mother of all failures."
Robertson said there was need for political decisions to resolve the
economic problems afflicting the nation.
"There is need for confidence rebuilding through restoration of
property rights. Civil rights barely exist and all these things are forcing
the economy deeper and deeper into crisis," he said.
The government plans to expropriate 51 percent shareholding in
foreign-owned companies operating in Zimbabwe. The Indigenisation and
Economic Empowerment Bill was approved by both chambers of Parliament last
year and awaits President Robert Mugabe assent to become law.
The amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act were also gazetted,
giving locals free 25 percent shareholding in foreign-owned mines.
For most Zimbabweans, hyperinflation has eroded the little savings
they had sacrificed. At 14 000 percent as of November, Zimbabwe’s inflation
is the highest in the world.
Analysts warn inflation will continue heading northwards "as there are
no attempts whatsoever by the authorities to deal with the problems".
Analysts say the National Budget presented last year and the monetary
policy statement offered no solutions.
"By the end of the first quarter in 2008, inflation will be at 40 000
percent, particularly in light of rampant expenditure during the coming
elections," said Ndlela.
Since June 2006, Zimbabwe has been in hyperinflationary mode, whereby
month-on-month inflation has been over 50 percent consistently over six
Ndlela said: "Responsible governments give up. In this situation
(hyperinflation); our government doesn’t give up."
The cash crisis that gripped the nation since November is still
evident in the new year with queues at every bank.
Analysts blame the RBZ for holding people to ransom in a bid to save
the banking sector from collapse due to bad policies.
"People are being punished in order to stop a run on deposits on the
banking system," said Ndlela.
Business leaders said the issue of foreign currency shortages should
"Shortage of foreign currency has created corruption and it has to be
addressed," said Callisto Jokonya, president of the Confederation of
Zimbabwe Industries (CZI).
He said there was need for "unity of purpose" as a nation and an end
to the blame game.
"Last year, business and the government were drifting apart. As a
nation we don’t want the blame game as it does not work."
Jokonya said small companies would face hurdles in restocking for the
year as they did not have the money for raw materials.
Last year, the RBZ unveiled the Basic Commodities Supply Side
Intervention (BACOSSI), to help businesses restock after the damage caused
by the June price blitz. To date only 28 companies out of over 5 000 have
benefited from the facility, Jokonya said.
THE government is good at causing crises and then belatedly stepping
in, wrapping itself in the mantle of a saviour.
More than 400 cases of diarrhoea have been reported in the eastern
townships of Harare, but the actual figures in the capital and other areas
throughout the country will be greater because not all of them are
Ministers responsible for Health and Water visited Tafara and Mabvuku
on Thursday to hear complaints about the collapse of service delivery during
2007. They saw raw sewage flowing in the streets. Failure to supply water
regularly to residents throughout the country was creating conditions for
However, the government is proceeding to decree that an organisation
that is totally out of its depth — the Zimbabwe National Water Authority
(Zinwa) — should take over the water and sewer reticulation. The directive
was implemented despite strong objections and advice from the parliamentary
portfolio committee on local government, and health professionals.
For the government to strut around and portray itself as genuinely
concerned about the threat to the health of citizens in the high-density
areas such as Mabvuku and Tafara smacks of crass hypocrisy and demonstrates
utter disdain for people. They knew as long ago as 2005 — in the aftermath
of the urban cleansing Operation Murambatsvina — that government’s actions
were endangering people’s lives. But perhaps because they were perceived as
opposition supporters their lives were deemed inconsequential.
One government official had the audacity to say they had visited the
townships in Harare two months ago and seen how bad the situation was. That
two months later hundreds of people are suffering from diarrhoea because
nothing was done about widespread water shortages and ubiquitous sewer pipe
bursts is scandalous. In normal circumstances heads would be rolling.
In Bulawayo, the second largest city in the country, it is only the
intervention of international organisations such as Unicef that has averted
a health disaster on a wider scale.
The rush to Mabvuku and Tafara - in reality just a good photo
opportunity – is one of numerous cynical gestures by the government. After
the anti-people Operation Murambatsvina, the government launched Operation
Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle, which sought to portray the administration as having
the interests of the ordinary people – its victims – at heart.
Last week, after unleashing Sunrise II, it made an about-turn, as if
responding to a nationwide call to come to the rescue, yet the architect of
the crisis was the government itself.
After the July price blitz, the government has moved in an attempt to
ensure the availability of basic commodities in the rural areas – thus
portraying itself as a saviour of the rural folk. In actual fact, it is
positioning itself for their votes in a few months’ time.
Last week, the Ministry of Health announced the proposed construction
of two major hospitals – in Mashonaland Central and Matabeleland South. This
move is intended to show the government is concerned about the lack of
health facilities in these provinces, but it ignores the reality that
doctors and other health staff are on strike because of poor pay and
conditions of service, that other health centres have no staff to run them
and that generally health institutions are woefully short of drugs. The
announcement – just as that over the outbreak of diarrhoea - should be seen
for what it is – a campaign ploy.
While we are reminded of Didymus Mutasa’s statement that the
government would be happy to remain with only its supporters – suggesting
some form of political genocide should befall the other half of the
population considered supporters of the opposition - it is hoped that voters
in areas the government has willfully ignored, will in a few months’ time
pronounce their verdict on the political barracudas that have rendered this
country an economic wasteland.
sundayopinion by Bill Saidi
AS 2007 ended, there was murder and mayhem in two countries, Pakistan
and Kenya. It wasn’t the first time there was political blood-letting in
these two former British colonies.
In a third country, there was much more political intrigue rather than
mayhem, although it may be early days yet.
South Africa, since its first democratic elections in 1994, has seen
much bloodshed, some of it — as in Kenya — steeped in ethnic rivalry.
In some quarters, the abhorrence in South Africa of internecine
political killings must stem from the towering presence of Nelson Mandela
who, even after years out of office, embodies the best of South African,
African and universal humanity.
But SA’s reputation as one of the most violent countries in the world
is a legacy of apartheid. There are psychologists who firmly believe that,
among large segments of the black population, there is mass amnesia. Nothing
has changed and apartheid still stalks the land like a racist behemoth and
their only means of survival against it is through murder, robbery and the
gratuitous slaughter of famous people, such as Lucky Dube.
South Africa’s ANC, at its congress in Polokwane, presented the
continent with its own scintillating version of democracy brewed in the
African pot: it voted out Thabo Mbeki as president.
He is the president of the country, but that didn’t faze the
delegates. He was not good enough to lead their party.
In Kenya, President Mwai Kibaki, seeking a second term in office, ran
into trouble with Raila Odinga, the son of a hero of Kenyan politics, Oginga
Odinga, Jomo Kenyatta’s early ally.
Kibaki claimed victory on the basis of fuzzy legitimacy provided by a
carefully hand-picked electoral commission, another political ingredient
brewed in the African pot.
Unfortunately for him, most of the world, including many Kenyans,
decided this claim was anchored in quicksand.
A number of commentators focused on the indecent haste with which he
was crowned president, as the most eloquent testimony of political
Bolstering that stench of filthy tricks was the revelation that, just
before the election, he had transformed the judiciary, ensuring it had a new
Kibaki-friendly face —much as someone else nearer home did to the judiciary
during the murderous land reform fiasco.
No-one could condone the violence that followed Kenya’s elections, but
then the perceived massive psychological violence against the electorate
would not be ignored or excused either.
Even the Mau Mau might have relaunched their liberation campaign
against such a crime against the people – the voters, in this case.
Kibaki’s rebuff of a mediation attempt by the Ghanaian president John
Kufuor only added depth to the widespread suspicion that he had indeed
stolen the election from Raila Odinga.
For me, TV footage of the destruction in Nairobi brought back memories
of my first visit to that beautiful country in 1971, two years after the
assassination, at 39, of one of the most charismatic Luo politicians, Tom
There were reports Jomo Kenyatta, the Kikuyu founder-president, had
earmarked the brilliant former trade unionist as his successor.
Other Kikuyus were outraged enough, it was said, to stoop to
Nairobi, which I was to visit two more times, was then one of the
neatest cities on the continent.
On my last visit, in the early part of the new millennium, I was
confronted by a rather shabby Nairobi. It looked jaded, like a widow who had
seen it all — the good, the bad, the ugly and the unmentionable.
Still, I doubt that any admirer of Kenya could have predicted the
country would explode into such violence so quickly after the results of an
election were announced.
Odinga’s party had effectively used corruption as the major component
of its huge arsenal against Kibaki’s party.
There was little Kibaki could do to counter the allegations of graft.
At one time an investigator appointed by Kibaki himself to probe corruption
fled the country in fear of his life after his dossier was considered such
potential dynamite it could have toppled the government.
Kenya remains the most stable of the former East African community
members — Tanzania and Uganda, the others — and its economy the biggest. But
there has always been political rivalry between the majority Kikuyu and the
second largest ethnic group, the Luo.
What cannot be disputed today is that Kibaki’s Kikuyu-dominated
government had so enraged Kenyan voters with its corruption in high places
and seeming collusion with big business there were even Kikuyus who felt
cheated when Kibaki was announced the winner.
There were lessons for Zimbabwe in the ANC ouster of Mbeki, and the
violent reaction to Kibaki’s alleged theft of the "people’s" electoral
The lessons are clear: the ball is now firmly in the people’s court,
as they look forward to the elections in March.
sundayview by Mutumwa Mawere
I woke up to the news that Senator Barak Obama had convincingly won
the Iowa caucus and could not help but reflect on what his candidature and
victory represents for Africa and, indeed, for the politics of the world. I
listened to Obama’s victory speech and many will agree that it was a message
not only to Americans but to all of us in Africa who believe in a better
Indeed, it was inspirational and marks a historic and defining moment
in human progress given the current unipolar global architecture dominated
by America and some of its foundational values. This year will bring change
to some parts of Africa and what is for certain in America is that President
George W Bush will not be on the ballot box and even if Obama loses the
Democratic nomination, America will never be the same again.
The context and content of Obama’s daring entry into the American
political landscape has important implications for Africa not only because
he shares the same heritage as all of us but because he has challenged us to
believe in hope and that we have a part to play in shaping our destinies.
Echoing the words of Oprah Winfrey in support of Obama when she said:
"I am not here to tell you how to think but I am here to make you think." I
thought it would be beneficial on this important day after Iowans have
spoken to challenge my fellow brothers and sisters to deeply and critically
think about Africa and its possibilities if we become as organised as Obama’s
supporters in investing in the change that we can believe in.
Obama and Odinga share the same Luo heritage and history has made it
possible for them to share the same spotlight at this defining moment in
Kenyan and American histories about hope and fear. The people of Kenya
thought they had spoken when they joined long queues to express their choice
about what kind of future they wanted but alas the change they sought is not
what they have been given resulting in the current confusion and chaos that
only serve to undermine the hope that through democratic means people can
get the change they can believe in.
The Obama victory is more than symbolic it really should capture the
imagination of all the people who live in fear and have surrendered their
future to the politics of yesterday. He has challenged the establishment and
those who felt that they were destined by history and circumstances to be
the natural leaders. Ordinary men and women were energised by what Obama
represented and yes there are many who argued that not in America would it
be possible for a person like Obama to rise above pride and prejudice and
emerge as a winner in Iowa with its racial configuration.
There are many of us in Africa who share the sentiments of the many in
America who thought Obama was a passing phase only to find out that it is
not about him but he represents the majority of the people who want change
that they can believe in. Obama has provided an opportunity for Americans to
only think about what kind of society they should be but about change
itself. What does change mean to all of us?
Even Senator Hillary Clinton is talking about change but a different
kind of change. Equally in Africa there is a lot of talk about change and
yet the people who talk about this subject are not clear about what kind of
change should visit disillusioned Africa. The euphoria of the dawn of
independence has been replaced by complacency and fear. The politics of fear
rather than hope is what dominates the African terrain to the extent that
citizens have resigned themselves to believe that their future belongs to
third parties and they have no role to play in shaping it.
Many of us would agree that the Africa we have today that can produce
the kind of outcome that Kenyans have after the recent elections is not the
kind of Africa we want to see. While we all agree that there is something
fundamentally wrong in the way we as Africans have organised ourselves
politically, we do not seem to have the kind of leadership that can
galvanise and inspire us to invest in the outcomes we want to see. Surely,
the people who voted in the Kenyan elections cannot be satisfied that the
outcome that is being played on our televisions and in the media is the kind
of outcome that they sought to have by voting.
What would make Africa and its leaders respect the will of the people?
We have seen leaders in Africa try to politically engineer outcomes through
a significant investment in fear to the extent that their legitimacy in
power becomes a product of manipulation rather than a genuine expression of
the preference of citizens.
If we really care about Africa’s future we have no choice but to
critically study how Obama has defied logic not by being afraid of the power
of the estalishment but his ability to use the instruments of democracy to
instil hope and not fear in citizens. What Obama has shown is that when
citizens have a reason to believe in change the impossible can happen not in
another lifetime but in our lifetime and on our terms.
The people shall govern how true and hollow this statement can be
depending on which address you are located in Africa. In South Africa, the
branch delegates of the African National Congress demonstrated that it is
possible for people to take ownership of their future without the assistance
of violence. Africa has been waiting for the Obama/Odinga/Zuma medicine for
a long time. Independence from the exclusive politics of colonialism was
meant to be the ultimate dividend for the suffering African masses but we
are all too aware that this has not been the case not because Africans are
not smart but they have been outsmarted by their own political servants who
believe that no change is change.
This Obama/Odinga/Zuma story has provided a good starting point for
those African citizens who are privileged to make choices about who should
govern them this year. This year belongs to Zimbabweans who for the past 28
years have not known what change is in a seemingly democratic environment
where citizens have been given space to express themselves but for some
reason the outcome has been as predictable as sunset follows sunrise.
Change has been an integral part of the Zimbabwean conversation but
for the past eight years even the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) would
agree that they have failed to capture the hopes of the millions of
Zimbabweans who really need a break from the politics of fear and division.
If any party that purports to advance the cause of change for a sustained
period and fails to deliver then it is incumbent upon people to reflect
carefully on the kind of change that they are being promised. Deferred
change is effectively denied change.
When the storm in Iowa was over, Obama was standing and he
demonstrated the kind of leadership that Zimbabwe wants. Even those who
promised a better Zimbabwe eight years ago must accept that they are partly
responsible for giving Zimbabweans the kind of change that they have no
faith in. Indeed, many Zimbabweans have voted with their feet over the last
eight years confirming that the menu was too limited and monopolised.
Is it the case that the kind of change Zimbabweans wanted cannot be
obtained through democratic means? Or is that the kind of leadership that
Zimbabweans have been exposed to has failed to capture their imagination in
the same way that Obama/Zuma/Odinga have managed to do in their own
countries? What confidence do Zimbabweans have in change following the
apparent consensus between ZANU-PF and MDC about the changes in the
Constitution and laws that Tsvangirai is now attempting to disown? How
credible is the change when the very change agents that purport to represent
the excluded masses do not seem to know what they want and stand for?
We now hear of threats of boycotting the elections on the premise that
a new constitution is required. Surely, if agreement on a new constitution
was a deal breaker, then people need to be informed why Morgan Tsvangirai
and his colleaagues in parliament saw it fit to become part of the change
they do not believe in. Why have Amendment Number 18 only to be replaced by
a new constitution when the very amendment sought and has achieved the
objective of shortening the term of the current Parliament to coincide with
the end of President Mugabe’s term? In other words, President Mugabe’s
mandate will end in March and both Zanu PF and MDC will have no mandate to
extend the Presidential and Parliamentary term with a constitutionally
ill-defined transitional term.
Zimbabweans have demonstrated that they are either too afraid to
express their opinions about the kind of change they want to see or that the
kind of leadership that is available makes them too nervous to do what
Zuma/Obama/Odinga’s supporters have been able to eloquently demonstrate.
Odinga and his supporters have been able to instil fear even in the minds of
the establishment to the extent that President Kibaki’s team is no longer as
cohesive and confident as it should be. The opposition in Zimbabwe has
failed to generate the same kind of anger that has been displayed in Kenya
leading people to question the DNA makeup of Zimbabweans. What is it about
Zimbabweans that they will choose to surrender their future to two bulls who
can’t seem to agree on anything while their future is being aggressively
Finally, through Obama, Americans have demonstrated that the only
power people who have no power or feel alienated from the politics of
yesterday and fear is the power to organise. The fact that Tsvangirai is
still threatening to boycott the elections after having been part of the
SADC talks that have produced what he now chooses to describe as cosmetic
changes means that he is telling Zimbabweans that he is not ready for the
COUNTRIES coming from a crisis often have problems when it comes to
implementing logistics to enable people to exercise their right to vote.
More often, due to the crisis, a lot of citizens of voting age would have
left the country in search of better living conditions, especially in
neighbouring countries. There is therefore need to put mechanisms, legal and
structural, to facilitate that these people exercise their right to vote
However, this is not without problems hence the need to ensure the
pressing obligation of protecting their inalienable voting rights does not
compromise the quality of the electoral process and consequently its
It is pertinent here that we outline the reasons why there is need to
extend voting facilities to people who are now resident outside Zimbabwe in
the 2008 harmonised presidential, parliamentary, senatorial and local
government elections. The starting point is that the idea of external voting
is premised on the universality of the right to vote that is, despite being
enshrined in Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR),
is unfortunately not included in our Constitution, although the sentiments
of 21(3) are in our Electoral Act Chapter 2:13 section 3 subsections (a) and
The Electoral Act borrows from Article 21(1) which stipulates that,
"Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country,
directly or through freely-chosen representatives" and that "(3) The will of
the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will
shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by
universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by
equivalent free voting procedures."
Allowing people in the Diaspora to vote, although it has aroused a lot
of debate and controversy, especially from people who fear this vote might
compromise their chances of winning in a post-conflict or post-crisis epoch,
has added legitimacy to the electoral process. In the case of Zimbabwe, most
of the people who have left the country are economic and political refugees
in foreign countries thus their absence from the country is not out of will
but is a result of pressing socio-economic and political realities dogging
the country. To deny such a group the right to vote would reward those who
author and practise policies which are responsible for large-scale
displacement of people, who would vote against such administrators, in the
event the displaced people are allowed to participate in elections.
The situation that most Zimbabweans experience, even those that are
formally employed outside the country, is not different from that of
refugees. Refugees, like most Zimbabweans in the diaspora, have not in any
way relinquished their citizenship by seeking asylum, but rather cannot
avail themselves of the protection of their country of origin because
current conditions therein pose a threat to either their lives or
livelihoods. As citizens, therefore, they have the right to participate in
the electoral processes in their country. This is more so considering the
economic contribution that they afford the country in terms of the foreign
currency remittances they make through various projects aimed at them such
as the Homelink project that was run by the Reserve Bank.
For states with a substantial displaced population as a result of
conflict, human rights abuses, and or natural disasters, absentee voting
should be considered a fundamental right protected by international human
rights law. Electoral processes that exclude significant numbers of these
populations are likely to be compromised in terms of legitimacy and
inclusivity, and election observers and the international community should
work with these governments to ensure their inclusion, on terms of full
equality, with non-displaced populations is tenable.
However, the provision of external voting should be availed with
necessary adjustments and innovations to cope with the challenges that are
particular to external voting, such as the geographical location of voters,
security in transporting ballot papers, the high cost of external voting and
other administrative challenges that come along with this type of voting.
There is need for the country wishing to extend voting to its citizens
outside its borders to open up diplomatic understanding with the host
countries to allow for easy implementation of voting logistics starting with
the issue of registration.
The more rigorous the requirements for verifying identity and
registration as a voter abroad, and the more difficult this is to do or the
shorter the time period allowed for doing so, the more restricted the
coverage of the potential external electorate will be. To ask for proof of
residence, work permits, refugee status documentation or any other documents
as such would disqualify a lot of potential voters who would have been
driven away from their country by very genuine socio-economic or political
circumstances beyond their control. There is need therefore, where there is
political will, for the country whose residents want to vote from without,
to come up with mechanisms that circumvent the noted challenges without
compromising the security and credibility of the ballot cast.
In the case of Zimbabwe, there is need for the country to liaise with
countries like South Africa and Britain where most of the Diaspora
population reside, to come to some understanding whereupon, in the event
that there is provision for external voting, there would be written
commitment that the host countries would not seize on the opportunity when
the immigrants would be voting to pounce and flush out those who are in the
countries illegally. Such an understanding should be in place to ensure that
a lot of the immigrants who wish to register and vote can do so.
As is the case currently, where there has not been a provision to
extend the external voting right to citizens outside the country other than
those in the uniformed forces, or those on government business and their
spouses barely three months before the polls in 2008, there is need to relax
the registration requirements in view of the unavailability of time for a
normal, rigorous registration exercise. It is in this light that a lot of
people have advocated for voting using one’s national identity document as
was the case in 1980.
Apart from the issue of registration, there is the need for specific
legal provisions to install polling stations abroad, if the method used is
personal voting which is desirable especially with regards to the poor
postal infrastructure in the country and the provisions of the Interception
of Communications Act (ICA) which allows for government officials to open
parcels, letters or any other correspondence. Where personal voting is the
most preferred option, there is need for the home country to establish sound
diplomatic or consular networks around the world, but most importantly, with
countries where the most number of the immigrants live.
There is also the idea of using a combination of voting procedures to
encourage electoral participation or to compensate for limitations or
inadequacies that may arise from the use of only one system. For example,
personal voting at polling stations abroad better fulfils the principles and
imperatives of security, confidentiality and reliability in the casting and
transmission of the vote, but its coverage of the potential electorate can
be far more limited than that of postal voting. There is no doubt that, at
least in a strictly geographical sense, the availability of a wider range of
alternatives implies better potential coverage of voters abroad. Thus a
country might choose to use any or all of the following options: (1)
personal voting at diplomatic missions or other designated places, (2)
postal voting, (3) voting by proxy, (4) e-voting and (5) voting by fax.
All these provisions could be made, but what is important, by and
large, is the issue of openness, transparency, close monitoring and an
electoral process that is open to scrutiny by observers and monitors. It
should also be a process in which there are mechanisms to verify the number
of people eligible for the external voting practice and the actual ballots
cast. In the absence of such measures, notwithstanding the importance of the
external vote, there is need to move with caution on the need to pursue the
diaspora vote as it may open the whole electoral process to manipulation.
Article produced by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network
(ZESN).Comments are welcome at email@example.com
PERCHED proudly atop a magnificent Jatropha tree, a resplendent
rooster crows triumphantly to herald in a new dawn, ably abetted by The
Herald. The sound reverberates around the conference room. A chorus of fine
young cockerels, with olive green feathers, take up the refrain whilst
strutting drunkenly around the room in an impressive display of military
drill. The room erupts into rapturous clucking and cackling. It is some time
before the corpulent Chaircock can make himself heard above the din. He
first leads the audience in enthusiastic chants of "Forward with our
species", "Down with all other species, especially Brown and Merkel like
species" and "One law for us and one law for them". He then proceeds with
his opening address:
Comrade Fowls, we, the chickens have come home to roost and party. We
have vitally important business to transact today which will shape the
entire destiny of our Fowl Run. I am not quite sure exactly what that
business is until this is revealed by our all-knowing Supreme Rooster. All
our other esteemed leaders are here to parrot the sentiments of the Supreme
As you know, we passionately believe in free and open debate on all
issues. There are no sacred chickens or taboo issues. This includes the
succession issue, although you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to
realise that no such issue can arise when there is an everlasting,
incontestable, God-given ruler of the roost. Nonetheless I would like to
invite any cocky pretenders who harbour silly ambitions to succeed our
undisputed ruler to step forward. They will be spatchcocked and dispatched
to the Chicken Inn for permanent disposal. A similar fate awaits any
cluckard who has the bad grace to talk about coupe de graces or to refer to
our great organisation as a headless chicken. I must reiterate that we won’t
tolerate any cock-infighting to spoil our party.
Our species continue to go from strength to strength. Not only has
failure never been an option, it is not even on today’s agenda. We are
justifiably cock-a-hoop about our splendid achievements and total absence of
any cock-ups. Due to improved productivity, chicken feed has never before
been in such abundant supply, although this glut has led to much gluttony.
There has also been a prodigious output of eggs in the hatchery. Now, to
crown it all, our chicken-brained scientists have discovered a foolproof
method of extracting refined diesel from eggshells and transforming egg
yolks into 24-caret gold.
But our successes, unfortunately, come at a price, a price that cannot
be controlled by price controls. The price is that there are many people who
are resentful about our resounding successes and who are marshalling many
evil forces to try to effect fowl change. These malevolent villains have no
respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of poultry mansions.
We must not let down our guard for one second.
The head of our military forces, General Insecurity, will address us
later on the need for vigilance, and our intelligence chief, Corporal
Punishment, will also give us a report. On the other hand, Cde Jabberwocky
won’t be allowed anywhere near the microphone to make a boastful report on
the million fowl strut – any such attempt will be deemed to constitute a
serious ruffling of feathers.
We will also receive reports from Field Marshall Cockfighter on land
redistribution to deserving fowls, from Major Disaster on the healthy state
of the economy and from Governor Cockeye on how to count your chickens
before they hatch.
Regrettably, we will soon have to go through the superfluous motions
of holding elections in the country we so ably rule. But the outcome is a
foregone conclusion as chickens will have 10 votes whereas members of other
species will only have a half a vote and will be obliged to queue, something
of which that they have plenty of experience.
But by far the most important address will be delivered by our Supreme
The deliberations were an enormous success as well as an enormous
feast. However, as the delegates were dispersing, a dissident laughing hyena
could be heard giving voice to hysterical derision.
MDC must plan strategy to counter massive poll rigging
I am glad that Morgan Tsvangirai knows the CIO and military have
already put in place a more polished rigging system that they have continued
to perfect ever since they realised in 2000 that they could announce their
own fictitious figures and steal an election without an uprising from the
Once they knew this was possible in 2000, they did it on a grand scale
in 2005 to give themselves a two thirds majority. Now they want to do the
same and have already allocated themselves more than two thirds of
constituencies in the rural areas so that when they conduct the rigging
there, the people will believe their lie that rural voters are behind Zanu
This lie has been used to rig the elections since 2000. No one
monitors rural areas so fictitious figures and the lumping of MDC and Zanu
PF votes as all belonging to Zanu PF occurred and was witnessed by many
intimidated polling officers who were scared of being killed by the CIO.
They did not, therefore, challenge this daylight robbery of MDC votes. The
same recipe is going to be used in 2008.
How does the MDC plan to confront this planned daylight robbery?
President Robert Mugabe is confident that the CIO, Zimbabwe National Army,
Police and Zimbabwe Electoral Commission have laid the foundation for
another massive rigging and he is already talking of a resounding victory
that sends a message to President George W Bush and Gordon Brown because he
knows they have perfected the art of rigging from two previous elections.
What does the MDC and Zimbabweans in general propose to do about this?
I saw the rigging of elections with my own eyes and listened as the
people who planned and executed the rigging boasted after their success. It
is painful to witness the nation being hoodwinked into thinking a genuine
election has occurred as MDC seats allocated in advance are announced first
to create an air of expectancy and credibility and then witness opposition
hopes being dashed as the Zanu PF seats, also determined in advance, are
I do not particularly want to go through the same pain for the third
time but I feel helpless that I cannot do anything about the situation.
What is it with us Africans?
TRADITIONALLY on New Year’s eve, people look to the future with hope.
But on the afternoon of the last one, I was deeply disturbed by news coming
That incident reminded me of the 2002 presidential election in
Zimbabwe. Looking back on the year, I am also reminded of the disputed
What is it with us in Africa? Why can’t we hold elections where
citizens are confident of the electoral process?
Was it necessary for more than 300 people to die, as happened in
Kenya, just because someone wants to remain in power?
It is also disturbing that given these allegations of voter rigging,
the United States initially congratulated Mwai Kibaki on his re-election.
Nhema, Kaseke disappoint at tourism congress
I read with interest your supplement on the recent tourism congress
and wanted to make some observations as I was a delegate.
It was shocking that the chief executive officer of the Zimbabwe
Tourism Authority (ZTA) did not bother to turn up at the congress, or
apologise. This was a major slap in the face for tourism operators and
showed that he believes he owns the tourism industry rather than that he is
a servant of the industry, which is what he is supposed to be.
The sooner he is removed from this post the better. He seems to want
to be a music promoter — let him go ahead with that instead, but not at the
expense of taxpayers, tourists and tourism operators, who fund his lifestyle
and his music ventures. These wasteful events that he organises do nothing
for tourism and simply serve to give him pleasure and fun.
The Minister of Environment and Tourism was equally disastrous. He
arrived late, gave his speech and then ran off, failing to address any of
the issues of importance facing tourism operators. All he did was to attack
the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism and anyone else except himself, his
ministry and his ZTA.
He has been a very unsuccessful minister and instead of being
unhelpful he should find time to deal with the real issues of the day and
create an enabling environment for tourism operators to carry out their
The laugh of the day was his assertion, in his rambling speech, that
he is proud there are so many Zimbabweans around the world doing jobs in
other countries. The fact that they are doing so because their homeland
cannot afford them a living and they need to go abroad to survive escaped
him (or he pretended it did). How shocking that he can twist the facts to
make it sound like a wonderful thing to have millions of Zimbabweans in the
Diaspora instead of here at home, earning a living in their own country and
helping to build a prosperous nation.
These two people should be ashamed of themselves. Can they not do
something positive about tourism development, or have they run out of ideas?
They should learn to be humble.
Disappointed tourism professional
'Calamity' Gono must go
IN your last issue, Elton Mangoma of the MDC hit the nail on the head
when he called Governor Gideon Gono the No. 1 Saboteur. I would like to call
him "Calamity Gideon" in view of the damage the man has done during the past
The man has been printing money left, right and centre, while masking
his political ambitions through a smokescreen of ASPEF, Agricultural
Mechanization and Baccosi facilities; to the extent that he believes that
the funds so provided are coming from his purse.
But as certain as death follows birth, this has backfired. Against
this background, the man is as clueless as ever on how to resolve the
deepening economic crisis and in turn the social crisis and has therefore
been firing from all cylinders like a mad man does when given a gun.
This nonsense must stop immediately before the built-up anger the
common man has been bottling up, explodes in our faces. I therefore make a
passionate appeal to President Robert Mugabe to do this "Calamity" a favour
and fire him immediately and to enable him to go back where he deserves —
As a stop-gate measure, former governor Kombo Moyana could be recalled
from retirement, while a search for a substantive governor takes place or
former governor Leonard Tsumba could hold fort.
Zimbabweans do not deserve people like Calamity Gideon.
'RBZ couldn't organise a piss-up in a brewery'
IS this Sunrise or Winter? Sunrise 1 was a handstand of note but the
Reserve Bank Governor, Gideon Gono has really excelled himself this time
He introduces $20 trillion which does not even amount to US$0,50 per
person and thinks all our cash flow problems will be solved.
Forget the cash barons for now — he thinks adding $20 trillion to $67
trillion will resolve the cash shortage when we have 100% inflation a month.
Sir, you need to double the cash in circulation every month to stay even!
Has he even thought how to calculate the change when paying with $750
000 notes? We now all need calculators which will increase demand for
Sunrise 1 introduced the $100 000 note which at the time was worth a
staggering US$200 — possibly the highest denomination note in the world. By
contrast the $750 000 note is worth only US$0,30 depending on what parallel
rate you use.
Has he given even a little thought to the cost of printing notes vs
their purchasing power? I am sure that it costs more to print one note than
US$0,10 for the $250 000 note (where are they — I heard in South Africa and
Does he think for one minute that limiting the amount of money a
person can draw from the bank will reduce the queues? It only wastes
everyone’s time and slows the economy down as one has to visit the bank
several times to get what one needs to make even a single purchase of some
items (even $40 million is only worth US$10 or so and cannot buy much).
The money was first distributed to the rural areas, presumably to
catch votes. This only served to ensure that not one city dweller will vote
for Zanu PF and meant that they could not take Christmas home to their
families in the rural areas which surely has alienated the rural voters too.
(Is Gono, like Moyo before him, working for regime change? Could be the
reason for these strange policies).
On the Monday before Christmas he issues a directive that only
individuals can withdraw cash. What made him think that all the companies
had been able to source cash to do wages?
Individuals had Saturday and Sunday to withdraw cash. Certainly I know
of many workers who did not get paid and had a miserable Christmas because
of that directive.
It seems the $500 000 notes where first distributed, when they had
finished the $750 000s came out and when they had finished brand new $200
000s were issued, despite them expiring, to trap 11 cash barons who are
hoarding them. He allows 11 unscrupulous people to hold the whole country to
ransom and is happy to spend a fortune on printing new notes rather than
having sensible policies that make dealing in cash non-viable. (How do these
barons do it? They sell one of their Mercs bought with Reserve Bank money at
US$250:1 for say US$100 000, take the cash to the trader in Willowvale and
change it to Z$ at $2 500 000:1, take the Z$ to the Reserve Bank and
exchange it to US$ at $30 000:1, back to the trader and convert to Z$ and,
hey presto! they have $20 trillion to buy up all the notes.)
If this was Sunrise 2, I cannot wait to see Sunrise 3! There is the
saying "could not organise a piss-up in a brewery". Sounds apt for the way
things are being organised by the Reserve Bank.
Finally, we all owe the thousands of banking staff a huge thank you
for the long hours they have been forced to endure and our sympathies for
not having a Christmas.
Zinwa's billing designed to extort money from water consumers
I am seriously distressed by the attitude of officers of the Zimbabwe
Water Authority and the determination of this illegitimate organisation to
extort money from hard-pressed citizens.
I recently received a water bill of $19 million, up from a previous
bill of $3 million. I duly queried this with their customer inquiries desk
at Rowan Martin Building. I was told because my water meter was "stuck", my
consumption was being estimated at higher level "40" and not the previous
level "26", hence the jump from $3 million to $19 million. When I sought an
explanation why my estimation level had been changed, I was told this was so
that I buy and install a new water meter. When I last checked, a water meter
was going for $130 million.
When I pointed out that Zesa, a parastatal like Zinwa, recently
replaced a malfunctioning electricity meter at my premises and I could not
understand why they should be any different, the fellow became evasive and
Why should it be my responsibility to replace a broken down meter when
I did not place the one that is there in the first place? If suppose, for
argument’s sake, I were to install a water meter of my own, which I cannot
because I can’t afford one, and tampered with it so that it records lower
readings, can Zinwa take issue with me about this since legally it will be
my personal property to do with as I please?
Does this also mean that if I am renting a house and decide to move
on, I can then take my water meter with me? All this simply does not make
Zimbabwe must be the only country in the world where a water service
utility demands that consumers contribute to its capital expenditure in this
fraudulent fashion. It pains me that it appears the vast amounts of
tax-dollars the government is pumping into Zinwa and the exorbitant bills we
are paying are going into ensuring that the mandarins at Zinwa, can pay
themselves obscene salaries and generous perks instead of the intended
purpose, which is the development of water infrastructure including
provision of ancillary equipment such as water meters.
And as I write this letter, I have not had any water at my house for
five days. When I pointed this out to the sod at the Zinwa offices, he
stupidly argued that since during the times I have water, I fill up
containers which may include drums, their estimate of my consumption was
justified. To this illiterate imbecile, filling containers is the same as
running water from the tap. Huh — where do they get these people from?
Someone has suggested the shambles at Zinwa is deliberate to punish
urban dwellers for supporting MDC — I am beginning to wonder about that.