Saturday, 11 July 2009 21:50
A massive official cover-up could be underway after police
investigations into the ballooning illegal trade in rhino horns netted two
Zanu PF ministers.
Investigations by The Standard show that a police crack unit following
the trail of rhino poachers ended up at the doorsteps of Zanu PF politicians
who cannot be named, at least for now, because of the complexity of the
The two politicians have been saved from prosecution after the dockets
"mysteriously disappeared" from the magistrates' court recently.
Judicial sources said yesterday the dockets were too hot to handle.
"No one wanted to take the case because we all know that cases
involving high-profile people are always covered up," said one of the
He also revealed that prosecutors feared they could burn their fingers
if they dared to take up the sensitive case.
Officials keen to see the prosecution of the senior government
officials yesterday expressed frustration at the way the matter was handled.
They said a heavy lid slammed on the case could discourage detectives
who were keen to stamp out poaching activities.
Over the past two weeks, The Standard has talked to people familiar
with the case. What is unmistakable is that people fear their lives could be
in trouble if their involvement in the case is publicised.
While Attorney-General Johannes Tomana could not be reached to explain
circumstances surrounding the case, Environmental and Natural Resources
Management Minister, Francis Nhema admitted on Thursday that senior Zanu PF
officials had been implicated in the resurgent cases of rhino poaching.
Although he refused to identify those implicated, Nhema said the
government was investigating cases where some ministers were allegedly
Nhema's admission coincided with a new report by the Convention on
Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) saying 12 rhinos
were now being poached each month in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The report said rhino poaching was poised to hit a 15-year high driven
by Asian demand for horns.
In Zimbabwe, the situation was said to be dire because people who were
caught dealing in rhino trade illegally, escaped prosecution because of
their political connections.
"Yes, it might be possible that some government officials are abusing
their powers and are involved in rhino poaching but we do not have the
names. We are still investigating the matter," Nhema said.
"The HE (President Mugabe) is even concerned about the issue. He asked
me for the names of the ministers involved."
Nhema said an unnamed minister was implicated in a case where a
Chinese national was arrested for poaching rhinos.
"We made our investigations and we found out that the person who was
very close to the minister was the one who was using the minister's name,"
He said the government had stepped up anti-rhino poaching campaigns
and last week the minister commissioned 11 Toyota Landcruisers for the
The Zimbabwe Conservation Trust chairman, Johnny Rodrigues said they
were also carrying out their own investigations into reports that government
officials were behind some poaching syndicates.
"It's true that there is an increase in rhino poaching in Zimbabwe
and the situation is getting out of hand," Rodrigues said.
"Three weeks ago two rhinos were killed in Hwange and we are positive
that some top people in the government are involved.
"Right now we have the names of some senior officials who are
implicated but we can not release their names because investigations are
Rodrigues said people were blaming foreigners for poaching yet senior
government officials were also involved.
"We cannot blame foreigners only because there are also people from
the top who are involved.
"There are cases where some members of the army were shot by the
anti-poaching team and it's quite clear that these soldiers were sent by
very influential people," he said.
According to the Cites report, rhino poaching is threatening the
success of more than a decade's work of bringing the rhino population back
to healthy levels.
Cites expresses concern with the way cases of poaching were being
handled in the courts.
"For example, earlier this week a parks ranger arrested with
overwhelming evidence against him for having killed three rhinos in the
Chipinge Safari Area was acquitted without any satisfactory explanation for
the verdict," reads the report.
"Similarly in September 2008 a gang of four Zimbabwean poachers who
admitted to killing 18 rhinos were also freed in a failed judiciary
A rhino horn can sell for thousands of dollars on the black market.
Zimbabwe's rhino population is believed to have declined from about 830 in
2007 to 740 at the end of last year despite an excellent birth rate in
Last month a Chinese national appeared at the Harare Magistrates'
Court after he was caught with 21.5 kg of tusks . He had no licence.
Wang Xuebin (49), who is accused of Contravening Section 59 (2) of the
Parks and Wildlife Act Chapter 20:14, was remanded out of custody.
Saturday, 11 July 2009 21:39
JOSPHAT Chidhindi, a 27-year-old MDC activist, shed tears as he signed
papers giving doctors the go-ahead to amputate his right hand just before he
was wheeled into the theatre a fortnight ago.He shed tears not only because
of the excruciating pain but because the reality had dawned on him that he
would soon be crippled for life.
As the surgeons led him to the theatre at a Harare hospital, Chidhindi
recalled how two Zanu PF activists almost severed his hand at the end of
The feared militia attacked Chidhindi after he served one of them with
summons demanding compensation for his homestead that was burnt and his
property that was looted.
Fortunately, just before the operation the surgeon changed his mind
and offered to try and save the severely injured hand.
"I am happy he managed to save my hand but I cannot forget or forgive
my attackers," he said.
Chidhindi, an MDC youth chairman for Ward III in Muzarabani district
of Mashonaland Central, is one of the scores of victims of renewed political
violence blamed on the Zanu PF militia.
"It hurts to see my attackers walking free everyday," said Chidhindi,
tears welling up in his eyes. "I want to see justice done."
Chidhindi was one of the villagers who lost property as the militia
rode roughshod over hapless villagrs in the run up to last year's disputed
June 27 presidential runoff election.
There have been reports of a resurgence of violence targeted at MDC
activists and supporters trying to reclaim their livestock and household
property looted during last year's violent election.
Reports say only last week Never Miranda of Gokwe-Kana Ward 29 was
severely assaulted by Zanu PF officials for wearing an MDC-T-shirt while
Musungwa Karite, an agricultural extension officer in Mazowe, lost two teeth
after he was accused of spreading "pro-MDC messages" instead of promoting
Latest cases of violence against MDC activists have also been reported
in Masvingo, Chegutu, Mudzi, Bindura and Mutoko.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) recently said it was
representing 100 MDC supporters from Mutoko and 71 from Nyanga who were
recently arrested and are now facing charges of robbery and extortion after
claiming their possessions from suspected Zanu PF supporters who seized them
Police spokesman, Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said he
needed time to investigate reports of politically motivated violence before
he could comment on the matter.
But in separate interviews many Zimbabweans felt politicians were not
serious about national healing, while others said the only way the country
could close the sad chapter would be for the government to offer
compensation to victims of the violence.
Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo, who is also one of the three ministers of
national healing, said he was aware of the revenge attacks and called for
"The nation should realise that the political leaders signed an
agreement and by doing so they signed for everyone", he said. "We should
remember that we are one people with one surname, which is Zimbabwe.
Nkomo said while the GPA stated that although his ministry's job was
to remind Zimbabweans about the need to unite, it also calls on the police
to intervene in all criminal cases including political violence without fear
"What I can say about those who are still fighting is that political
parties should go out there and talk to their people," Nkomo said.
"If the politicians fail to control them, the police should then
intervene and arrest them because we cannot afford to have a country which
continues in chaos."
He said his ministry has since asked chiefs and trade unions to help
spread word on the need for peace and unity in the country.
The ministry is also working on establishing offices countrywide in a
bid to expand its outreach, Nkomo said.
"We all want Zimbabweans to stop this fighting, talk and unite", he
said. "They should get rid of this need to revenge and all these other
But Chidhindi differed with Nkomo saying for national healing to be
successful, there is need for compensation.
"We want to be compensated for the property and livestock we lost",
"What hurts the most is that we are now suffering with nothing to our
names yet the Zanu PF people are walking free. They should be arrested and
taken to court.
"As it is right now, only the Zanu PF politicians come to our area and
they do not say anything about reconciliation.
"We want both MDC and Zanu PF leaders to come and jointly address us
so the hostility which continues to prevail in our society can go away."
MDC-T deputy director for national welfare, Brighton Matimba said
there was need for friendly peace committees or peace clubs where MDC and
Zanu PF supporters especially youths will interact without political
"Right now, MDC people are at the forefront asking Zanu PF people to
come so they can talk these things over and this could be giving the other
party a feeling that they are superior," he said.
Matimba also said politicians, especially top leaders, should avoid
inflammatory speeches which only serve to widen the social rifts.
He said the government should also go to the grassroots and explain
the GPA so people would understand it well because there were some people
who believe that the MDC was swallowed by Zanu PF.
He also supported the idea of compensation for victims saying if the
perpetrators cannot afford to pay, those who sent them to commit acts of
violence should bear responsibility.
Some people have expressed fears that some national programmes which
require public participation such as the ongoing constitutional reform may
be compromised because of the tension.
"Doing a constitution without national healing is like putting the
cart before the horse", University of Zimbabwe lecturer Professor John
Makumbe told a recent civil society constitutional conference.
Meanwhile, in the streets of Bulawayo residents said lessons from the
Gukurahundi atrocities in Matabeleland and the Midlands showed that if
perpetrators were not brought to justice they were likely to repeat their
They called for the setting up of a fund to compensate all victims of
political violence since Independence and the prosecution of repeat
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE & JENNIFER DUBE
Saturday, 11 July 2009 21:37
BULAWAYO - Revived Zapu officials on Friday wrestled control of a
memorial service for former Zipra commander Ackim Ndlovu from government
officials accusing Zanu PF leaders of hypocrisy.
The angry Zapu politicians said Ndlovu (77) who was declared a
national hero and was buried at the Heroes' Acre yesterday died a pauper
because he was neglected by the government.
Bulawayo governor, Cain Mathema who was supposed to be in charge of
the programme was forced to take a back seat as several former Zanu PF
politicians took turns to lambast the government.
There was drama when former Zapu officials Paul Siwela and Alderman
Charles Mpofu among others forced their way to the high table reserved for
Zanu PF chairman John Nkomo, Mathema and politburo members Sikhanyiso Ndlovu
and Eunice Sandi-Moyo. Interim Zapu chairperson Dumiso Dabengwa also had a
place reserved for him at the top table.
Some Zanu PF officials who were initially on the programme were also
barred from speaking. Nkomo tried to calm the mourners but his speech was
drowned out by interjections.
Mpofu, speaking at the service said: "People were angry over the
manner in which Zanu PF had neglected Ndlovu. This is despite the fact that
he played a leading role in the liberation struggle. He died a pauper."
Ndlovu was the founding Zipra commander and at independence he was
elected an MP for Matabeleland South. "That is why there was a bit of
problem during that memorial because we believed Zapu and not those Zanu PF
people were supposed to be in charge of the memorial service."
Zapu officially severed ties with Zanu PF in May and one of its major
grievances was that Zipra heroes were not being given due recognition.
BY NKULULEKO SIBANDA
Saturday, 11 July 2009 21:33
THE MDC-T national executive on Friday took Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai to task for failing to stand up to President Robert Mugabe whom
they accused of violating the Global Political Agreement (GPA), sources said
The sources said Tsvangirai was also accused of remaining "aloof" as
the 85-year-old leader in power since 1980 continued to flout provisions of
the agreement that led to the formation of the unity government in February.
Another bone of contention, the sources said, was Tsvangirai's
continued silence as Mugabe increasingly claims that he is both head of
state and government despite the power-sharing arrangement.
The state media, which has not changed its pro-Mugabe stance, also
refers to Mugabe as head of both state and government.
Tsvangirai's spokesperson, James Maridadi confirmed Friday's meeting
saying the concerns raised were "healthy" for the party which stands for
"They have a right to express their views and this shows deep-rooted
levels of democracy in the party," Maridadi said. "It (national executive)
shows that it does not tell the Prime Minister what he wants to hear but the
situation on the ground.
"This is what the Prime Minister has been fighting for - democracy."
On Mugabe's claim to be both head of state and government, Maridadi
said the President's role was clearly spelt out in the GPA.
He said Tsvangirai is head of government while Mugabe is head of
"If you look at the functions, he (Tsvangirai) becomes head of
government. He formulates and implements government policy and this makes
him the head of government," Maridadi said.
Turning to accusations that Tsvangirai glossed over Zimbabwe's
problems on his recent trip abroad, Maridadi said Tsvangirai was quoted out
of context on the issue of farm invasions and the breakdown in the rule of
"The Prime Minister is very clear on the issue of rule of law and farm
invasions," he said.
"He does not tolerate all these. He is concerned about the on-going
selective application of the law, farm disruptions and continued harassment
of MPs from his party," Maridadi said.
Tsvangirai, said the sources, also angered his party members after he
failed to categorically deny that he apologised to Mugabe after his
ministers boycotted a cabinet meeting recently.
"The issue of an apology cannot be substantiated. It cannot be
verified whether he did so or not," said Maridadi, who was unable to say
whether or not Tsvangirai apologised.
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE
Saturday, 11 July 2009 20:13
THE dirty linen of a former Deputy Minister's family is set to be
washed in the public.
Anne Elizabeth Matonga - the estranged wife of Mhondoro Ngezi MP
Bright Matonga - has filed papers in the High Court suing businesswoman
Sharon Mugabe for adultery.
Anne, who is locked in divorce proceedings with Matonga, says Mugabe
ruined her marriage by committing adultery and ultimately brazenly snatching
To compensate for the suffering she underwent as a result, Anne who is
now surviving on charity is demanding $50 000 from Mugabe who runs a
marketing and communications firm, Imago Y&R.
Mugabe is however denying the accusations. She says she never knew
that Matonga had been married to Anne, adding she only got acquainted with
him when their marriage had irretrievably broken down.
But according to Anne's submissions, her marriage to Matonga was well
publicised especially after she supported her husband in grabbing a Banket
farm from its white owners.
Anne says while her marriage still subsisted, the adulterous pair
started their relationship sometime between late 2007 and early 2008.
By June, Anne says Matonga had deserted her and their minor child and
was staying with Mugabe at Number 23 Rolfe Avenue in Ballantyne Park.
The suit, which will be heard in the courts after Mugabe filed a
notice to defend herself, is set to bring out embarrassing details about the
love life of the businesswoman and the politician who was outspoken as
Deputy Minister of Information and Publicity.
Already in the summons, there are scandalous details about how the
pair conducted their affair without regard to Anne and their minor child.
Anne, who is represented by Beatrice Mtetwa, notes in court papers
that the two did not just commit adultery in hotels in and outside Zimbabwe,
but ended up staying together as husband and wife.
Anne says theirs was adultery of an aggravated nature as Mugabe
"paraded herself" as Matonga's lawful wife fully knowing that he was a
And her ultimate humiliation, Anne says, was for Mugabe to attend
public events with her husband.
One of these events was the signing of the Global Political Agreement
which drew thousands of people to the Harare International Conference
She will implore the court to view this as constituting aggravating
circumstances which call for "punitive exemplary damages".
In addition, Anne will say Mugabe's insensitivity, which made her a
laughing stock, did not spare their minor child. At one time Anne says
Mugabe attended their child's school rugby sporting event with Matonga.
The event was attended by many parents who know Anne to be Matonga's
Anne will testify that their minor child was severely traumatized by
this incident as he became a target of crude jokes from other children about
his "new mother".
Anne will lead evidence that "so brazen was defendant in her public
display of the affair" that she attended the funeral of Matonga's father at
the communal home.
She will also state that Mugabe even engaged in a taboo: kissing
Matonga in public at the funeral.
Anne will tell the court that the adulterous relationship had an added
"sting": it reduced her to a beggar after Matonga vindictively made the farm
uninhabitable by disconnecting water, electricity and withdrawing all
domestic staff from her.
She says her husband virtually ceased to support her and the child and
instead used proceeds from disposed family assets to go on holiday and to
enjoy life with the defendant.
Mugabe, who is denying committing adultery with Matonga, says she
cannot be liable for Anne's suffering because she had long lost the services
of her husband as their relationship had broken down when she got acquainted
The date for the hearing into the lawsuit is yet to be set.
Anne's lawsuit comes hard on the heels of Matonga's application
seeking for a decree of divorce.
In his application, which is set to go for a full-scale divorce trial,
Matonga admits he committed adultery, an improper association which resulted
in the birth of a child. He blames this on Anne's "insolence and lack of
respect for him".
In her defence, Anne says she was a faithful wife who "lost the
comfort, society and services of her spouse" as a result of his adulterous
The two were married in 1997 at Southend-on-Sea, Essex County, UK and
came to Zimbabwe after Matonga had been offered a job by President Robert
Before moving, Anne had to resign from a well-paying accountancy job,
sell her UK house in order to raise money for the couple's new life in
Now she is surviving on charity in Zimbabwe after the fallout with
BY WALTER MARWIZI
Saturday, 11 July 2009 20:07
GWERU - Commercial Farmers' Union (CFU) regional director Bob
Vaughan-Evans who was brutally murdered at his home by unknown assailants
last week was buried in Shangani on Friday.
Vaughan-Evans died on Tuesday after he was attacked together with his
80-year-old wife, Jean, at their Gweru home in an incident that has shaken
Zimbabwe's few remaining white commercial farmers.
Grieving farmers said they suspected Vaughn-Evans was targeted for
defending them because the assailants did not steal anything from their
According to a police report, the thugs used a sharp object to strike
Evans twice on the head. He died on the spot.
"The motive of the attack is unknown. The suspects ransacked the house
and left blankets and other items in the house up-side-down.
"Nothing was stolen as all (and) other things remained untouched,"
read the police report.
Jean, who was attacked on the eve of her birthday, was hospitalised at
a private clinic.
The attack was the third the couple has suffered since the beginning
of the year.
"His attackers could have been trying to silence him because of the
valuable information that he supplied to the CFU," said one source.
"He had information on his finger-tips on what was happening in the
province such as farm invasions, land and property takeovers from white
farmers, and some people were obviously not happy with that," said a farmer
who asked to remain anonymous.
CFU president Trevor Gifford said circumstances that led to
Vaughn-Evans' death were still unclear.
"What we have at the moment is a case that leans more to a case of
housebreaking and theft," he said.
"It also exposes the couple's vulnerability in such situations because
they were now old and staying alone."
He expressed disappointment that police had not made any progress in
investigating the previous attacks on the couple.
Gifford said Vaughn-Evans made a significant contribution to CFU's
work and was committed to the development of agriculture in the country.
"He made significant and tremendous contributions to the agricultural
sector in Zimbabwe," he said.
"From the days he was employed as a deputy director at AREX (Agritex)
to the time he left government service and joined the CFU in the Midlands,
he contributed a lot in expertise on how to manage the agricultural sector."
Several farmers were killed by Zanu PF supporters when President
Robert Mugabe's previous administration
began seizing commercial farms in 2000.
There has also been an upsurge in cases of armed robberies across the
BY NKULULEKO SIBANDA
Saturday, 11 July 2009 20:01
BULAWAYO - A High Court judge is demanding US$1 681 from the local
authority after his Mercedes Benz car was damaged on one of the city's major
roads riddled with potholes.
According to a letter of demand seen by The Standard last week,
Justice Maphios Cheda says his car was damaged after he hit a pothole along
Leopold Takawira Avenue on May 24.
"It was around 1900 hours when I was travelling along Leopold Takawira
Avenue towards the city centre before Heyman Road when I hit a pothole on
the left lane," he said.
"There were no street lights and the pothole was full of water. In
addition thereto there was no warning sign about the impending danger."
He said two tyres and rims were damaged and to replace them will cost
at least $1 681.
A copy of an inventory of the repairs shows that each 16-inch megrim
would cost US $504 to replace while the tyres cost US $227 each.
The car is being repaired by ZIMOCO, the Mercedes Benz dealership in
But the city council has challenged the judge's claims saying Leopold
Takawira Avenue was a state road, which meant that the claim was
Responding to the claim council said "under normal circumstances" it
referred such matters to its insurers who act on the demands.
"However, in this particular matter, we realise that our insurers
could not process this claim because this road was taken over by government
in 2007. For an unknown reason, the government in 2007 took over Urban
Section of trunk roads," council said in a letter to the judge's lawyers.
"The takeover was gazetted in the Government Gazette on March 9, 2007
under General Notice 55 of 2007."
Council said although it had filled in potholes on some trunk roads,
this did not mean it was responsible for the maintenance of the roads.
"It was merely because we realised that the government was kind of
economically handicapped and where possible, we assisted because we have the
welfare of the residents of this city at heart," council wrote.
Bulawayo's major roads are in a bad state owing to years of neglect
blamed on the country's long running economic crisis.
BY NKULULEKO SIBANDA
Saturday, 11 July 2009 19:55
BULAWAYO - Villagers in Binga district in Matabeleland North say they
are in the dark about the ongoing consultations on the country's new
Binga is one of the remotest areas in the country. It has limited
access to local media because of lack of radio and television transmission
as well as a poor road network.
This has seen inhabitants in the area alongside thousands of others in
outlying areas being left out of the historic process.
The parliamentary select committee in charge of the
constitution-making process recently held provincial public consultations,
which were limited to urban areas and growth points. "We were not told about
the consultations because we do not know that there is a constitution-making
process in the country.
"We are not informed on current affairs because of many factors among
them lack of local radio and TV reception," said Timothy Munseke of Chitete
village in Sinansegwe ward.
Villagers in most parts of Binga tune into Zambian broadcasts for
information and walk several kilometres to Binga centre if they want to
access local newspapers.
"The only way information can reach us is if it goes through the
chiefs and headmen. We have no radio and television.
"There are no newspapers so it's difficult to know what is happening
in the rest of the country," Munseke said.
Chief Siabuwa of the Siabuwa area in Binga said villagers under his
jurisdiction were in the dark about the constitution-making process.
"I do not even know about that (constitution-making) yet villagers
expect us to update them on such issues.
"It is like we are living outside Zimbabwe because we are not getting
information about what is happening in the country, especially this issue of
the constitution," he said.
Provincial public consultations on the constitution began recently
after the government released funds for the process.
The consultations will culminate in the all-stakeholders national
conference set for tomorrow.
But activists say the time frame the unity government has set for the
process would make it impossible to capture the views of all Zimbabweans.
"Villagers in rural Binga missed out on the public consultations
because there was no information that ever got there," said Busani Ncube, an
advocacy officer at Bulawayo Agenda, a civic group that has an office in
"No official information is reaching rural Binga about the
constitution-making process through newspapers, radio or TV. Villagers have
to rely on NGOs for such information."
Ncube also blamed a poor road network in Binga for the failure by NGOs
to reach out to villagers so that they can make their contributions.
"The parliamentary committee has a lot of work to do in so far as
reaching out to the people since villagers in remote areas really do not
know anything about the process according to our findings from our chapters
in various provinces in rural areas," Ncube said.
Binga MP Joel Gabbuza said lack of information on the
constitution-making process will also have an impact on the district's
future development plans.
"If villagers can't input their views it naturally translates to the
central government ignoring the area because it (government) would not know
what the people in that area want," Gabbuza lamented.
"The committee has a lot of work to do in so far as reaching out to
the people. Villagers in remote Binga will not be represented in the
thematic committees over what they need to be inputed in the constitution
because they did not take part in the public consultations.
"They just did not know that such a process was in motion."
Select committee co-chairperson, Paul Mangwana attributed the problem
to lack of funds and time constraints.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Saturday, 11 July 2009 19:51
THE Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede is being accused of failing to
observe peace and live with his neighbours in harmony.
Mudede, who owns a plot at Lot 1 Ballineety Farm in Mashonaland
Central, is involved in running court battles with his four neighbours -
George Kawenda, Sylvestor Dendere, Abigal Mutingwende and Jacqeline
The RG was in February sued by the four for allegedly preventing them
from accessing their plots and communal facilities at the farm.
The complainants said the property was part of state land which was
being shared by occupants of Ballineety Farm which includes dip tanks,
boreholes, fuel tanks, a silage pit, and paddocks, among others things.
In the court application, the four alleged Mudede had threatened to
forcibly remove their property and livestock from the farm without a court
They said Mudede was now claiming that part of the farm was allocated
"Mudede has in addition fenced off the access roads to the rest of the
other farmers meaning that we cannot access our farms in order to irrigate
or attend to our crops and livestock.
"This matter becomes urgent in that effectively Mudede has prevented
us from carrying out farming activities," reads the application.
They said Mudede should be stopped from forcibly removing their
livestock, property and equipment from the farm without a court order.
After their suit was dismissed in the High Court, Mudede chose to
escalate his fight with his neighbhours by filing a case of perjury against
them. In his statement Mudede said Kawenda and the three others had lied to
"After the applicant's case was dismissed on the 11th of March 2009, I
made a report to the police about their lying under oath which I am advised
is a criminal offence in Zimbabwe," Mudede said.
He said the four were claiming that he had fenced all the access roads
therefore interfering with the irrigation operations.
"None of them have irrigation operations. In the case of Dendere he
has not even ploughed on his farm.
"They claim their crops and livestock are in danger because of the
fencing being erected by me. Kawenda's crops have been damaged by poor
Mudede said he had never illegally evicted any plot holder.
"There is no irrigation on Lot 10 which has been disrupted by my
fencing of boundaries.
"Mukanganyama has no crops under irrigation. I have never sought to
confiscate any facilities," he said. "My letter of offer has never been
declared null and void and there is no common user infrastructure within the
boundaries of Lot 1 Ballineety Farm."
This is not the first time Mudede and the four have fought their
battles in the courts.
In 2008 Mudede launched eviction proceedings against Mukanganyama from
the 68-hectare sub-division 10 of the property, which includes the main
farmhouse, on the basis of an unstamped letter from former Lands and
Resettlement minister, Didymus Mutasa, which terminated her status as
caretaker of the plot.
According to Mukanganyama, Mudede also sought to evict Kawenda, Roti
Gahadzika and Dendere from other plots on the farm.
Mukanganyama, a war veteran, won the court case against Mudede in a
hearing held in Bindura by default when Mudede failed to appear in court on
the day of the hearing.
BY SANDRA MANDIZVIDZA
Saturday, 11 July 2009 19:47
THE MDC-T led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has launched an
extensive restructuring exercise following last year's political violence
that saw hundreds of key party activists killed or displaced by alleged
state security agents and Zanu PF militia.
MDC-T deputy national organising secretary, Morgan Komichi, said the
party structures had been "decimated" by the violence that left more than
200 oppositions supporters dead and thousands others tortured and displaced.
The restructuring involves filling up or changing positions from the
party's cells, wards, districts and provinces.
"We want to stand ready come election time.
"We are telling them (supporters) that the government of national
unity is not the end but a transitional phase," he said.
Komichi said during the restructuring exercise they were also
appraising its supporters on the developments in the inclusive government
and the on-going constitution-making process.
Already the MDC-T has vowed to oppose the use of the Kariba draft
document as the foundation for a new constitution opting for a people-driven
Widespread political violence flared up after Tsvangirai defeated
President Robert Mugabe in the first round of the presidential elections in
March but failed to get enough votes to claim the presidency.
Those who survived the violence, which was most pronounced in rural
areas fled to urban centres or sought refuge in neighbouring countries such
Botswana, Namibia and South Africa.
Some never returned.
It is estimated that more than half of the MDC-T councillors in Harare
who were elected in March last year at one time went into hiding fearing for
Some of them were living in "safe houses" after being hounded out of
Despite the violence, Komichi said, MDC-T activists and supporters are
still determined to take up positions.
Presidential and parliamentary elections will only be held when a new
constitution is in place.
Komichi said scores of MDC-T supporters were still nursing injuries
from the election violence.
Victims of political violence, he said, are being encouraged to report
all the cases to the police to make sure that perpetrators face justice.
"All the cases must be documented and justice will take place one
day," he said. "The victims must also be compensated by the inclusive
But about 90 villagers in Manicaland province, mostly MDC-T supporters
now face charges after they repossessed property looted from them by alleged
Zanu PF supporters.
Last year, Zanu PF militia forcibly took livestock from perceived
MDC-T supporters to feed the party's members at various "bases", which they
used to launch their terror campaigns.
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE
Saturday, 11 July 2009 19:42
ZIMBABWE might be heading for a clash with the United Nations after
the government indicated that it will not immediately demilitarise the
Chiadzwa diamond fields where the security forces allegedly killed over 200
people last year, political analysts said last week.
They said the presence of the military around the fields meant
continued gross human rights violations.
A delegation from the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS)
recently recommended the withdrawal of the military from Marange accusing it
of engaging in senseless violence.
But the Minister of Mines and Mining Development Obert Mpofu said new
security measures will only be put in place once a new investor has been
identified, dashing hopes of an immediate withdrawal of the army.
This, said analysts, sets the stage for confrontation between
government and the KPCS, which had recommend the withdrawal of the military
by next week.
It had also recommended that an investigation of the role of security
forces and other officials in the Marange diamond operation must be set in
But the army and the police last week issued a joint statement stating
that they will stay put in Marange citing the "sudden influx of illegal
panners" following the KPCS team's recommendations.
Political analysts also expressed scepticism that President Robert
Mugabe's government would order an investigation into Marange diamonds as
previous reports have fingered his cronies in the looting of the gems.
Apart from that, they said, many senior police and army officers were
still benefiting financially from the chaos in Chiadzwa.
"There will not be any demilitarisation or investigation in the near
future because senior people in government are looting the diamonds," said
one analyst, who requested anonymity.
"Even if the pressure (to investigate) comes from heaven it won't
happen because diamonds are their livelihood."
An international human rights watchdog last month released a damning
report implicating senior Zanu PF officials and the central bank in looting
diamonds in Marange.
The report by the United States-based Human Rights Watch alleged that
deployment of the army by Mugabe's previous administration was meant to
ensure that Zanu PF, soldiers and police bosses could have unlimited access
to mining revenue.
It said the diamonds provided an important source of revenue for the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which "is underwriting" Zanu PF activities
and military operations.
University of Zimbabwe political analyst Eldred Masunungure described
attempts to demilitarise and investigate human rights abuses in Marange as a
"It is a political minefield because there are powerful forces that
are being touched," noted Masunungure, without mentioning names.
But he warned Zimbabwe could lose millions of dollars if the country
fails to stick to recommendations of the KPCS team.
Basing on "meaningful progress" by government by next week, the team
would make final recommendations to the Kimberley Process.
Masunungure said any mishandling of the issue could have adverse
effects on the shaky government of national unity (GNU) which is battling to
raise funds for the country's reconstruction.
"If the deadline expires, the team may recommend (to the UN) that the
Marange diamonds be classified as (a source of) blood diamonds meaning we
will be losing the US$200 million that can be generated from the sale of the
gems," he said.
The government estimates that it can generate about US$200 million a
month if Marange and other mining centres are managed transparently.
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) projects lawyer Zvikomborero
Chadambuka concurred with Masunungure saying failure to remove soldiers from
the area would have a negative effect on the economy.
"I think that element of disdain would be dangerous to the economy
because the diamonds would be banned," he said.
Apart from that, said Chadambuka, the perception that Zimbabwe is a
rogue state would be enhanced internationally.
Chadambuka queried why the military was so interested in Marange and
yet Zimbabwe had so many mines dotted around the country.
"Zimbabwe has established mines before so I wonder why there is so
much interest in that particular area," he said.
But another analyst, who requested anonymity, put it bluntly: "It's
clear there is a political interest in the chaos and disorder. It won't
shock me to hear that some people are lining their pockets."
The KPCS team that was headed by Liberian deputy mines minister
Kpandel Fiya investigated reports by human rights groups that the military
used force to control access to Marange and to take over unlicensed diamond
The team said it had discovered abuses of civilians in Marange.
"Our team was able to interview and document the stories of tens of
victims, observe their wounds, scars from dog bites and batons, tears and on
going psychological trauma," Fiya told Mpofu in a statement leaked to The
"I am from Liberia. Sir, I was in Liberia throughout the 15 years of
civil war and I have experienced too much senseless violence in my lifetime,
especially connected to diamonds.
"In speaking with some of these people, Minister, I had to leave the
room. This has to be acknowledged and it has to stop."
The team recommended that Zimbabwe must acknowledge that diamond
mining at Marange was not in line with KPCS minimum standards and urged the
government to act urgently to ensure compliance with prescribed standards.
Mpofu denied allegations of human rights abuses at Marange and said
calls to ban diamonds from the fields were unjustified.
BY CAIPHAS CHIMHETE
Saturday, 11 July 2009 19:34
BATTLE lines have been drawn between the government and labour over
the latest attempt at drafting a new constitution.
The fall out could signal a cruel reversal of fortunes for the
Movement for Democratic Change led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.
Almost a decade ago, the MDC which was still in its infancy boycotted
the 2000 constitution-making process protesting that President Robert Mugabe
had hand-picked the commission charged with drafting the country's supreme
The MDC teamed up with the Lovemore Madhuku-led National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA), the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU),
students, other opposition parties and civil society to deliver a crushing
"No" vote that marked the beginning of Mugabe's downfall.
This time the NCA and ZCTU are boycotting the ongoing process arguing
that the initiative led by a parliamentary select committee is undemocratic.
The ZCTU, which sired the MDC in 1999, accuses the government of
ignoring its founding manifesto that recommended the writing of a people's
constitution through a "constitutional commission defined by and accountable
to a conference of representatives of elected, civil and other social groups
after mass education on the constitution".
"The ZCTU is guided by a resolution of a 1999 special congress that
was held at Zesa Training Centre calling for a people-driven
constitution-making process," the secretary general of the country's biggest
labour movement, Wellington Chibebe said in defence of the union's stance.
"There is a world of difference between a people-driven process and a
Analysts last week said while the inevitable collapse of the
ZCTU-NCA-MDC alliance might not stop politicians from having it their way
this time around on the new constitution, because of the new configuration
in government it may lead to a major shift in the country's political
"What we are witnessing is a very interesting scenario given that
ZCTU, by distancing itself is by all means trying to carve its own space
within civil society, this time around without having to be constantly
referred to as the parent organisation to a political movement like MDC,"
said Brilliant Mhlanga, a Zimbabwean political analyst based at the
University of Westminster in London.
"This in itself is a positive move for the ZCTU and might be positive
for the MDC only if the latter understands the implication of such a
political weaning process by the parent organisation.
"In essence, MDC can be able to develop a clear ideological location
of its own."
He said however this form of political weaning was likely to be
disastrous for the MDC-T given the laxity with which it was formed through a
coalition with various other stakeholders, key among them being labour.
"That alone will weaken the MDC, further. It will even aggravate the
cleavages that are already showing within the MDC-T between the Morgan
Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti camps."
Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) Zimbabwe chapter director
Takura Zhangazha said although the new political configuration brought about
by the formation of the unity government between Zanu PF and the MDC
formations might weaken the NCA and ZCTU lobby, the political parties will
ignore their opposition at their own peril.
"Even if those campaigning for a "no" vote lose, it will be a
significant vote that will raise questions of legitimacy for the
constitution," he said.
However, Zhangazha said it was not too late for the government to find
common ground with the critics of the process that gets into full gear
tomorrow with the first All Stakeholders' Conference organised by the
parliamentary select committee driving the process.
"I do not think it's about the No vote yet," he said. "It's about
getting the government to change the way it wants to conduct the process.
"But the potential for a no vote is real as the issue of
constitutional reforms has been in the public domain for a long time and it
is being taken seriously."
Mhlanga said despite the record unemployment levels in the country
that might raise questions about ZCTU's capacity to organise against its
longtime allies in the MDC-T and the NCA's documented financial problems,
the alliance could still mount a serious challenge against the politicians.
"This coalition (ZCTU, NCA, students and civil society) still exists
today although slightly depleted," he said.
"An added notch to the NCA-ZCTU cause for a people-driven
constitution-making process is that they have a formidable voice that stands
for the opposition in parliament through Jonathan Moyo.
"That's a very strong boost."
But there are some who felt the ZCTU and NCA leaders miscalculated and
risk emerging from the battle bruised and irrelevant.
"As we move forward with this process let us disabuse ourselves from
the view that there is anyone who is indispensable," University of Zimbabwe
lecturer, John Makumbe, told a recent civil society convention on the
"If one organisation thinks that when it is not there nothing will
happen, Zimbabweans should not be stopped but encouraged to go ahead and
make sure that something happens despite that organisation's absence."
Zimbabwe's constitution adopted at the Lancaster House talks on the
eve of the country's Independence has been amended 19 times.
BY KHOLWANI NYATHI
Saturday, 11 July 2009 18:54
THREE years ago Olive Mutabeni quit her job as a nurse at Chitungwiza
Central Hospital where she had worked since 1985 for "greener pastures".
In her last five years at the hospital, Mutabeni had worked as a
Home-Based Care (HBC) and Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT)
co-ordinator but she had no idea the experience would influence her future
in such a big way.
Mutabeni says a few months after she resigned, some of the people she
had treated while co-ordinating the HBC and PMTCT programmes came after her
at home for further assistance.
She ended up with so many people in her community knocking on her door
every day needing help even at odd hours.
"Some came to me very ill. Others came having lost hope after testing
HIV positive while yet others wanted help for their relatives who had been
discharged from hospital and they had no idea how to take care of them,"
Responding to her community's needs, Mutabeni converted one of her
daughters' bedrooms in the Unit F high-density suburb into an office from
where she received people living with HIV from all over Chitungwiza.
"At first I was not sure what to do and what these people expected me
to do and how I could help them when I had no money for even a pair of
gloves to bathe the sick who were bedridden," Mutabeni said.
"But I embraced the call."
Mutabeni teamed up with former workmate Rosa Mufunde and other
volunteers to start work that culminated in the formation of the Life
Empowerment Support Organisation (Leso) in March last year.
Leso was officially launched on Wednesday.
"I think what drove me and Mufunde to start this organisation had more
to do with us being HIV positive.
"It was because of the fact that we went through all this lack of
support and stigma that we realised that if we turned these people away we
would have been also guilty of stigma," Mutabeni said.
But she says although their organisation has continued to offer
psycho-social support such as counselling and home-based care to people
living with HIV in Chitungwiza, it has not been an easy road.
Speaking at the launch of the organisation at her home, Mutabeni said
through the support of her sisters working in the diaspora she has been able
to make a huge difference on the lives of those affected and infected by the
disease in her community.
"What has made us stay afloat as the Leso team is love.
"We have caregivers who are not being paid, who walk long distances to
counsel and treat patients.
"We have volunteers in the community who have huge hearts and are
willing to help in every way possible," Mutabeni said. "It is through our
love, the little resources and the love of God that we see here today, at
this launch, some people who came to us unable to walk are now strong and
"It is through the passion to help others that is in our team that we
see such miracles but we need all the help we can get from well-wishers to
make our work much easier."
Zimbabwe HIV and Aids Activists Union's Bernard Nyathi speaking at the
same event said community-driven organisations must be supported because
they reach out to the most affected people.
"We need more organisations like Leso that work on the ground with
grassroots people, who see the suffering first hand and the real areas of
need instead of relying on statistics alone.
"That is the only way we can ensure that HIV and AIDS funds reach
their intended beneficiaries," Nyathi said.
BY BERTHA SHOKO
Saturday, 11 July 2009 18:49
BULAWAYO - Zimbabwe is one of five African countries that will benefit
from a US$60 million United Kingdom fund aimed at facilitating research into
health and science by universities.
Universities in the country will be partnered by researchers at the
Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine (LSTM) and the University of Liverpool
as "part of a US$60 million initiative to strengthen research into science
LSTM and the Liverpool University would also work with universities in
South Africa, Botswana, Zambia and Malawi.
"The initiative will see the formation of seven new international
consortiums that will focus on developing and sustaining high quality
research into the health and well being of African people," Professor Peter
Winstanley of Liverpool's LSTM noted in a response to questions emailed to
"This new initiative will improve the capacity of African medical
schools to develop research careers and secure essential funding for
long-term commitment to studies in health sciences."
The country's universities lag behind in research into health and
science owing to financial constraints. Winstanley added that the initiative
to boost research on health issues will focus mainly on major killer
diseases like malaria, TB and HIV/Ads.
Malaria and TB are one of the major killer diseases in the country
after HIV/Aids, health experts say.
An estimated 1.8 million Zimbabweans are living with HIV/Aids.
"The most pressing problems in Africa right now are infectious
diseases. Falciparum malaria remains one of the highest priorities in
"In adults HIV-related pathogens, such as TB and Salmonellae, demand
the most attention," Professor Winstanley said.
Zimbabwe continues to record a decline from an estimated 26% percent
of the population infected with the HIV virus that causes Aids in 2002 to
21% in 2007 in the age group 15-49.
Despite the drop in HIV infections, drug and food shortages in the
country have left patients malnourished and more vulnerable to sickness and
a hastened death, according to Aids support groups.
Studies by the World Health Organisation show that only 15 000
Zimbabweans are receiving antiretroviral drugs.
Although the government licensed local firms to manufacture generic
Aids drugs, acute shortages of hard currency have stopped imports of raw
materials and held back a government programme to treat patients through
public health services.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Saturday, 11 July 2009 18:45
SEVENTEEN bright but economically disadvantaged Zimbabwean students
have received full four-year scholarships worth over $5.5 million dollars to
study in the United States beginning September.
Ambassador James McGee confirmed the awards during a send-off ceremony
in Harare last week.
"As I conclude my term in Zimbabwe next week, I am more than inspired
by the knowledge that the United States continues to contribute to the
education of exceedingly bright and promising young Zimbabweans from a
diversity of backgrounds," McGee said.
The scholarship recipients participated in an intensive year-long
United States Student Achievers Program (USAP).
USAP assists highly-talented but economically-disadvantaged high
school students to negotiate and finance the process of obtaining full
scholarships to study at accredited US colleges and universities.
In addition to being straight-A students, USAP participants also
exhibit demonstrated leadership potential and the ethos of giving back to
The recipients are Blessing Havana (Pomona College), Corra Leigh
Magiya (Providence College), Joseph Foromera (Duke University), Lennox
Chitsike (Hamilton College), Rutendo Ruzvidzo (College of Wooster), Tafadzwa
Mahlanganise (Davidson College), Tanya Sawadye (Cottey College), Yemurai
Adda Mangwendeza (Yale University), Zvikomborero Alexander Matenga (Wesleyan
University), Tatenda Yemeke (University of Chicago), Tatenda Mutsamwira
(Jacobs University), Lovemore Simbarashe Kuzomunhu (University of
Pennsylvania), Lovemore Makusha (Williams College), Lesley Nyirenda
(Stanford University), Ngonidzashe Madungwe (Tufts University), Stephen Dini
(Swarthmore College) and Tinofara Majoni (Colgate University).
At the function, several corporate groups confirmed their support to
some of the students.
In this year's group, the students come from a variety of provinces
and high schools including Harare, Milton, Regina Mundi and Kriste Mambo,
Glen View I and Kutama College, St Faith's Rusape, Monte Cassino and St
Dominic's, Highfield, and Zengeza 1 High.
The students will pursue studies in diverse fields such as medicine,
engineering, economics and political science at a range of highly-selective
colleges including Stanford, Duke and Yale Universities, the Universities of
Chicago and of Pennsylvania; as well as top-ranked liberal arts colleges
such as Pomona, Williams and Swarthmore.
Since the establishment of USAP in 1999 in Harare, more than 200 USAP
students have enrolled with full scholarships covering tuition and fees,
room and board, books and other expenses for four-year bachelor degree
Saturday, 11 July 2009 18:37
BULAWAYO - Government intends to lure back senior health professionals
who migrated to Botswana, South Africa, Lesotho, and Swaziland in a bid to
beef up staffing levels at overstretched health institutions.
Dr Henry Madzorera, the Minister of Health and Child Welfare announced
the plan last week as he bemoaned the fact that the inclusive government was
still struggling to attract returning health professionals six months after
the formation of the unity government.
Madzorera said although a significant number of nurses and other
low-level staff had returned during the past few months, the situation
He said 50% of the posts for highly qualified staff still remained
"We have specifically registered nurses and other general hand staff
and the greatest challenge at the moment is that of doctors and other
highly-qualified personnel," he said.
"We have a serious task ahead of us. That is why we are now planning
to go to our neighbours and convince those Zimbabweans working there to come
back home and work in the country's health sector," he added.
Madzorera said his ministry would build houses and provide health
personnel with easy access to clean water, electricity, and proper ablution
facilities in an effort to retain qualified staff.
"We also want to address the issue of dilapidated infrastructure at
our hospitals. We have come across situations where some buildings are
collapsing while others need a facelift.
"We are currently engaging donors to solicit for funding of these
developments that will seek to bring back the proper service provision at
The ministry would also prioritise the provision of blankets and other
essentials at hospitals.
"We are trying by all means to put back Zimbabwe in its rightful place
in the health sector as compared to other countries.
"If we are able to get the money from the donors, we believe as a
government, nothing will stop us from achieving this feat," Madzorera said.
Health professionals receive allowances from donors on top of the
US$100 a month that government has been paying civil servants since
BY NKULULEKO SIBANDA
Saturday, 11 July 2009 18:34
BULAWAYO - The city council has been forced to close some of its
clinics while others have been leased to private players due to a critical
shortage of health professionals to run the health centres.
The local authority has not been spared the crisis bedevilling the
country's health delivery system that was once the envy of many in Africa.
Out of the 19 municipal clinics in Bulawayo, four have since been
rented out to private investors in order to save them from collapse after
health professionals deserted council clinics.
"We rented out sections of the Tshabalala, Pumula South and Lobengula
clinics to private players since we had no capacity to run them as there
were no medical officers at the council," Dr Zanele Hwalima, the Bulawayo
City Council health director said.
However, Hwalima dismissed reports that Mahatshula clinic had been
rented out to the Premier Services Medical Aid Society (PSMAS).
A council medical officer had earlier confirmed that PMSAS had taken
over the running of the council's Mahatshula clinic.
Health professionals continue to skip the country for neighbouring
countries, mainly to South Africa which remains the destination of choice
for professionals and non-professionals alike, as the government continues
to say it is not able to match their salaries to those obtaining in the
Health professionals earn US$100 allowances from the government on top
of the other allowances provided by aid agencies.
According to Hwalima, there is a serious staff shortage with council
clinics manned by less than 40% of the required health professionals.
Meanwhile, hundreds of poor HIV positive people continue to die before
accessing free ARV treatment as the waiting list of the free life prolonging
anti-retroviral drugs at council clinics stands at 9 500 against 152 that
can be admitted monthly into the programme.
"At other clinics, the waiting list is up to 500, but at the moment we
can only introduce eight people per month per clinic, meaning that the
demand is very high.
"Of concern is that some people have been coming for testing when they
can't even walk and sometimes it will be too late," said Dr Edwin Sibanda, a
city council clinical medical officer.
The majority of residents in the city cannot afford treatment at
private owned institutions and municipal clinics are an alternative to the
overburdened government hospitals.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Saturday, 11 July 2009 18:28
ZIMBABWE will register a double digit economic growth starting next
year buoyed by new lines of credit and an improvement in internal
electricity generation, a Cabinet minister said on Thursday.
Economic Planning and Investment Promotion Minister, Elton Mangoma
told the Zimbabwe International Investment Conference that the economy is
responding well to the policies enunciated by the inclusive government
formed in February.
"The economy will enjoy double digit growth from next year upwards and
I project that this will continue for the next 10 years," Mangoma said.
The International Monetary Fund projects that the economy will grow by
2.8% in 2009 having contracted by 14% last year.
The economic rebound announced by Mangoma, prevalent in countries in a
transition, is attainable but cannot be achieved over a long period of time,
"It's really an optimistic forecast but difficult to attain," said
Tony Hawkins a business professor at the University of Zimbabwe.
"You need high levels of investment for that. But where will the
investment come from, and the finance, the skilled manpower," he said.
Hawkins also noted that the political environment, poisoned by failure
by the parties to the inclusive government to solve outstanding issues, was
not conducive for spectacular growth.
"No one can ever think that the GNU is ideal for rapid rate of
economic growth," said Hawkins.
But Mangoma said capacity utilisation in industry had more than
doubled in June to 25% from as low as 10%.
According to the Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme (Sterp),
capacity utilisation is forecast to top 60% in December.
Mangoma said the increase in capacity utilisation had been enabled by
the availability of lines of credit to the economic sectors to ensure that
"retailers and industrialists restocked, acquired raw materials, undertook
necessary repairs and maintenance and mines reopened".
He said a medium term strategy which would succeed Sterp must be in
place by October to drive the economic revival.
The plan once unveiled will guide Finance Minister Tendai Biti to
craft the 2009 National Budget.
Investors were wary of the absence of property rights which reached
alarming levels when investments protected under the Bilateral Investment
Promotion and Protection Agreements (BIPPAs) were seized and Mangoma said
because "we signed those agreements, those investments must be compensated
He said Zimbabwe is on the verge of signing BIPPAs with South Africa's,
the country leading trading partner.
Negotiations for signing of the agreement started early this year and
before the two parties could clinch a deal, South Africa had its election
which ushered in a new cabinet and the negotiations had to be restarted,
Last week's meeting was attended by the three principals to the power
sharing agreement, President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara who took questions from
Mutambara set the tone saying the government must respect its
agreements if it has to be trusted by investors.
He said the coalition government was the best short term answer to the
problems bedevilling the country.
"This is the price we are paying for peace in our country," he said.
Last week's indaba was the first such meeting since the formation of a
coalition government in February but it was the second such meeting since
In 1981, Zimbabwe hosted Zimbabwe Conference on Reconstruction and
Development (Zimcord) to mobilise resources to repair infrastructure damaged
during the protracted liberation war.
Zimcord mobilised over US$2.3 billion in external assistance and
marketed Zimbabwe as a safe investment destination.
BY OUR STAFF
Saturday, 11 July 2009 18:16
BARELY three months after buying Leopard Rock, LonZim has appointed
project managers to oversee the US$1.7 million refurbishment of the hotel in
a major boost for the country's tourism industry.
This comes at a time when established players in the hospitality
industry are scouting for funds to undergo major face-lifts following years
of neglect due to the deteriorating economic conditions.
LonZim says Lonrho Hotels, who will be the project managers for the
face-lift, will earn US$102 000 for managing the process.
"Lonrho Hotel will provide a detailed refurbishment programme and
budget for approval by the LonZim board," LonZim said in a statement.
The face-lift programme is expected to last a year and "bring the
existing facilities back to an international five star standard".
In addition to the sprucing up of the Leopard Rock image, Lonrho
Hotels will produce a development master plan for the property which is to
"In addition to upgrading the existing 18 hole PGA championship golf
course, hotel, casino and private game reserve, the master plan will review
the options of adding a further 100 rooms of accommodation, a second 18 hole
PGA standard golf course, an international polo club and a world class spar
," it said.
Currently, the hotel consists of 49 double rooms, one single room and
eight suites and can accommodate 115 guests.
At the completion of the refurbishment, Lonrho Hotels will commence a
10-year management contract where it will be paid four percent of gross
turnover and eight percent of the operating profit.
"The Leopard Rock Hotel will be included in the Lonrho Hotels Maestro
global central reservation system," LonZim said.
David Lenigas, the LonZim executive chairman said the face-lift would
return Leopold Rock to its former glory.
"The process of returning the Leopard Rock Hotel to its previous
position as one of the leading hotels in Africa has now started and will
provide Zimbabwe with a flagship property that is world class.
"We intend to hold a PGA golf tournament as soon as the refurbishment
is completed to re-launch this very special hotel," he said.
Lenigas said: "it supports the development of quality hotels
throughout the region and with its previously announced development on the
coast at Beira, Mozambique and the planned new five star Leopard Hotel in
Harare, LonZim will have a unique geographical spread of hotels to serve the
LonZim splashed US$8.5 million in April for the hotel located in the
Leopard Rock hotel is highly regarded in Zimbabwe and internationally,
with an impressive history of accommodating royal guests such as the late
Princess Diana in 1995.
The acquisition of the hotel enhances LonZim's hotel strategy for
Zimbabwe and comes hard on the heels of a proposed five star property, 'The
Leopard', in Harare.
There are also plans to set up a 'Leopard Lodge' property in Victoria
Falls and this "will provide LonZim with a geographically spread portfolio
to service all of the wider Zimbabwe tourism market."
Zimbabwe's tourism industry is picking its pieces following years of
Under the Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme the tourism sector
is expected to provide the quickest turnaround ahead of agriculture, mining
LonZim will have to battle it out with the three established players
in the hospitality business namely African Sun Limited, Rainbow Tourism
Group and Cresta Hospitality who have been in the business for a long time.
BY OUR STAFF
Saturday, 11 July 2009 17:03
FOR an organisation in which many millions have invested so much hope
and faith, the vibes coming from the MDC leadership must surely, be
No one can seriously doubt the political capital that the MDC has
amassed over the last decade. Nobody can seriously belittle its efforts.
No one can seriously underestimate the challenges it faces even in
this inclusive government where its leverage is severely limited. But
millions will have been dismayed by the apparent contradictions coming from
members of the leadership.
One thing seems clear: There is something seriously wrong with the
manner in which the MDC manages and disseminates information. This, of
course is not new.
At the height of the election season and the negotiations that
followed it was often hard to ascertain the true position of the MDC on
account of the many voices and tongues that 'spoke' on behalf of the party.
There was a temptation to think that this multi-voiced system was a
negotiating tactic but in truth it brought more confusion and whatever
benefits such a 'tactic' may have had were outweighed by the costs.
Sometimes it looked confused in the eyes of observers, saying one thing,
then another and doing a completely different thing. It must be said, this
did not help its standing in the eyes of SADC.
In recent days there have been indications that all may not be well at
First, during Prime Minister Tsvangirai's recent trip to the West, he
faced some uncomfortable questions after a report by the BBC in which
Minister for National Healing and MDC executive Sekai Holland suggested that
all was not well in the unity government.
At that time Tsvangirai was performing the unenviable task of selling
the message that Zimbabwe was making progress under the new unity
government. The apparent conflicting messages did not help and not even Mrs
Holland's attempts to wriggle out of the situation were credible since the
interview had been captured on video.
Second, just prior to the Prime Minister's return from his Western
voyage ministers from his party boycotted a cabinet session. The session had
apparently been brought forward to accommodate President Mugabe's trip to
the African Union Summit in Libya.
The MDC ministers objected to this on the ground that it was a snub to
Prime Minister Tsvangirai who in their interpretation should have stood in
for Mugabe as Chairman of Cabinet on the regular Tuesday session. They felt
that the rescheduling of the meeting was calculated to prevent Tsvangirai
from assuming this role in Mugabe's absence.
On his return Tsvangirai expressed sympathy with his colleagues'
decision and characterised it as a sign of frustration. More importantly
however, he was quick to quash any doubts about the implications of the
boycott stability of the GNU. President Mugabe later said in an interview
that Tsvangirai had apologised for the behaviour of his colleagues.
Tsvangirai has neither confirmed nor denied making the apology to his boss.
Some supporters feel he did not have to apologise.
What is significant however is that the conduct of the ministers in
boycotting the session was completely at odds with the positive message that
the Prime Minister had been trying, against an avalanche of scepticism, to
sell to the world.
There was an apparent contradiction between the actions of the MDC
ministers at home and the words of the Prime Minister abroad. It didn't have
to be said in words; conduct alone communicated the message that what the
Prime Minister was telling the world was not a fair representation of the
It raises the question as to whether Tsvangirai was informed of the
boycott in advance. If so, did he approve of it? In that case, why did he
have to apologise to the President? It seems to me that despite the public
rhetoric, the Prime Minister did not approve of the boycott.
If he was not informed, it begs the question why he was not advised of
such a significant development. Was he deliberately by-passed by his
subordinates on such an important and potentially embarrassing decision?
The boycott has been described as an MDC v ZANU PF power politics but
is there, perhaps, another angle to it? Could it also be a reaction by the
MDC ministers to Tsvangirai's glowing appraisal of the unity government and
its prospects during his Western trip? There is a feeling amongst some
members of the public and perhaps the ministers that the MDC is being taken
for a ride.
Were the MDC ministers chiding Tsvangirai for painting an overly rosy
picture of the situation? This boycott could have been a message to the
Prime Minister that no, Sir, all is not as well as you suggest.
Third, at his press conference after returning from the Western trip,
the Prime Minister announced that Finance Minister Biti had negotiated and
secured a $950 million credit facility from the Chinese. Biti, who is the
Secretary-General of the MDC denied this claim.
His denial was later corroborated by President Mugabe who said this
Chinese facility had been negotiated long before the inception of the unity
government and could not be credited to Biti and the MDC.
The recently resurrected Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru did not
miss the opportunity to pour scorn on the Prime Minister's claims. It has
left the Prime Minister appearing like a man who does not play fair with the
truth. Clearly, some wires crossed here and crucial questions arise.
On what basis did the Prime Minister make the claim about the loan?
Did someone feed him the wrong information which later caused him to face
the subsequent embarrassment of being accused of not being faithful to the
truth? Did the Prime Minister jump the gun in his haste to extol the efforts
of his Minister and his party in the unity government after a Western voyage
that yielded little by way of funds? Or was he simply ill-advised by those
around him? These are hard questions.
What we do know however is that there is certainly something that
needs to be attended to. It doesn't help that another MDC Minister was
quoted as having denied the alleged mass killings at the Marange diamond
The faithful of the MDC will argue that it is improper to pinpoint the
party whilst overlooking the other political parties (MDC-M and ZANU PF)
that are probably in a worse condition organisationally.
Their frustration is understandable but theirs is the biggest
political party in Zimbabwe and not just that but one that has for a long
time and for many people represented the great hope in Zimbabwean politics;
millions of people have invested their hopes and aspirations in the party,
giving it the political capital that has sustained it so far.
Such a status means that it attracts higher levels of expectations and
with it scrutiny. If it should fail, then much else will go not least the
already fragile hope and faith in politics and political organisations.
But more importantly, any organisation that fails to engage in
self-introspection is bound to go the same way as all others before it. An
organisation must identify and acknowledge what it is doing wrong and not to
simply shift blame onto others deflecting criticism, believing that its
troubles are authored by some dark, mysterious forces out to get it.
Something is not right somewhere organisationally and it needs to be
sorted fast. For a start there must be better communication and more
efficient systems of managing information. The MDC still enjoys a great
level of support and sympathy but it would be a great error if the party
took all this for granted.
Alex Magaisa is based at, Kent Law School, the University of Kent and
can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Saturday, 11 July 2009 17:01
ZIMBABWE is trying to run before it has learnt to walk.
In recent weeks a series of conferences have taken place, all intended
to present a picture of a country that has gotten over its problems and one
that is ready to welcome investors.
It is true that there is considerable investor interest in Zimbabwe.
But interest is just the beginning. Anyone can be keen but that is far from
making a commitment to invest in a country.
There have been rebranding seminars and committees dispatched to
foreign capitals to reassure businesses about the safety and desirability of
Zimbabwe as an investment destination.
But last week President Robert Mugabe helpfully muddied the waters
during a major conference that was aimed at attracting foreign business to
come and participate in Zimbabwe's recovery process. Mugabe was asked about
compensation for commercial farmers, whose properties the government seized
in 2000 under the disastrous "revolutionary" land reform programme.
Apart from his unsettling responses, the contradictions between his
pronouncements and those of the other co-signatories to the Global Political
Agreement depicted a country that has not decided what it wants so its
leadership can start collectively singing from the same hymnsheet.
Discordant voices aside, the investment conference was mistimed. It
seemed the 400 delegates were largely local and not foreign. The conference
coincided with fuel shortages, power cuts, increasing reports of armed
robberies and generally the country's lack of preparedness for investors.
At a time when the market is supposed to operate more freely, the
Ministry of Energy and Power Development was trying to force fuel importers
to use the state-owned facilities, totally disregarding the fact that the
importers have standing contracts that cannot be abandoned at the drop of a
This suggested several things - among them that the state was saddled
with a white elephant of a pipeline and storage facilities. But ominously
this suggested a throwback to the days when Zanu PF raided importers' fuel
in order to keep its elite well catered for at the expense of owners of the
The power cuts have increased so this would be of concern to
investors, who would have to contend with interruptions to manufacturing and
For some time the government has been talking about preparing for next
year's world soccer cup in South Africa and how the country can cash in on
this. But here are examples of the country's state of preparedness: In
April, the National Sports Stadium was opened to allow hosting of
Independence celebrations. The facility remains far from complete two years
after it was closed for renovations.
Nothing is happening at the country's airports to anticipate arrivals
of increased traffic. The hospitality sector remains long on plans and
intentions but woefully short on implementation.
Infrastructure remains run down. The country can mount all the road
shows it desires and host as many conferences as it wishes, but what it
needs to do is very simple: sort itself out first and then learn to walk
before it can think of running. Right now there are a lot of very unhelpful
Contrary to the president's claims, there is little evidence that
government has honoured its commitments to pay compensation for improvements
on those farms acquired. Many farmers have been ordered to cease production
and others are fighting expensive legal battles in the courts to keep their
That is not the message we should be sending to investors but it is
the one they heard loud and clear!
Saturday, 11 July 2009 16:54
In African countries where leaders have unrestricted power, it takes
more than voting to bring about change.
In Africa, presidential elections have become the fashionable norm,
like state airlines used to be. This year there will be 15 of them. But like
those airlines, in the absence of supporting institutions elections have
proved to be more decorative than functional, a veneer beneath which the
autocratic rule of the pre-1991 era continues little abated.
Autocracy in Africa was ruinous: Narrow ethnically based elites
plundered the country for their own short-term benefit. America and the
other Western countries that encouraged democracies were right to think that
what Africa needed was accountability of government to citizen, but wrong to
think that this could be achieved simply by elections.
Africa needs democracy and a few countries have it. The African
National Congress has just won the South African elections.
No surprise there. Other elections in southern Africa will shortly
follow. In October, Mozambique will go to the polls. The election should be
peaceful and clean, a testimony to the country's progress. Angola will hold
presidential elections sometime later this year and unfortunately, this is
likely to be a different story. Don't expect a cliff-hanger:
Already 30 years in office, President Jose Eduardo dos Santos is
heading for his fourth decade. Angola totally lacks the institutions
necessary, such as a free press and an independent judiciary, for an
election to give an opposition party any chance of gaining power.
The era of naive faith in elections began following the fall of the
Soviet Union. The Soviet leaders had been utterly allergic to contested
elections. We assumed they were right to be allergic: Elections would topple
And so, in Eastern Europe and then around the developing world, we
pretty well defined the switch to freedom in terms of contested elections.
We now know that Soviet leaders were dumb: They had such unrestricted power
that they would have been able to win contested elections easily.
As long as an incumbent leader has enough options, facing an election
need not be too daunting.
One potential weakness of elections in developing countries is that
electorates may be so ill-informed about economic issues that they support
This has been the recent experience in parts of Latin America such as
Venezuela and Bolivia.
It may become a problem in Jacob Zuma's South Africa, but it will
probably not amount to much. Zuma flirted with populism to gain the
leadership, but now he is secure barring a political earthquake.
He is a shrewd politician and knows that the real check on his power
now is the currency markets: South Africa needs to finance a substantial
It will be many years before a South African election results in a
change of government, but Ghana reached that milestone last December.
The ruling party lost the election by a whisker, which is the most
convincing demonstration that it was clean. This was all the more impressive
following the disastrous elections in Zimbabwe and Kenya earlier in the
year. Admittedly in Ghana the president of the incumbent party was not
standing, and a ruling party minus its incumbent leader may have much less
Crucially, the members of the Electoral Commission were genuinely
independent of government.
Annual elections, of course, would be a distraction. But within the
normal range of three to seven years, my colleague Lisa Chauvet of the
research centre DIAL in Paris and I find that an increase in the frequency
of elections tends significantly to improve economic policy.
When faced with the need to win regular elections, governments
systematically improved policies as measured by the World Bank's Country
Policy and Institutional Assessment, an annual measure of the economies of
developing countries. For example, if elections are every three years
instead of every seven, the chances of policy improvement go up by around a
For anyone who has heard the critiques of the World Bank coming from
many of the international development non-governmental organisations, this
result is amazing.
The NGOs claimed to be campaigning "on behalf of the voiceless"
against policies that were inimical to local interests. The World Bank
agenda, which included anathemas like fiscal caution, liberalized markets
and privatization, was externally imposed to serve the interests of global
Surprising, then, that when the voiceless gain the power of the
ballot, their policy preferences seem to be pretty consistent with those of
the World Bank.
Here is the catch: Crooked elections have no effect. In most African
countries the frequency of contested elections has increased, but this does
not help if they are not properly conducted.
Electoral misconduct has been disturbingly common in low-income
The key crooked tactics are voter bribery, voter intimidation and
ballot fraud. In each of them the incumbent has an advantage. Bribery needs
money, but as long as the national budget is leaky the president has more of
it than the opponents.
With sufficient money, voters can be bribed individually, or the local
big man can be bribed to deliver votes wholesale; often entire villages vote
for the same candidate. Voter intimidation needs forces of violence, but the
president likely has the police and the army.
Ballot fraud needs the subservience of election officials, who may
well be presidential placemen.
Pedro Vicente of Trinity College in Dublin and I tested the effect of
voter intimidation through a randomized experiment.
We chose the Nigerian presidential election of 2007, which was
expected to be violent, and injected a campaign to reduce intimidation,
randomly assigning it among constituencies. The campaign, conducted by the
local NGO ActionAid, delivered the message, "Vote against violent
politicians," using street theater and posters. It worked, significantly
reducing the number of violent incidents and making voters braver.
In the constituencies where the campaign took place the vote for
violent politicians was lower, and the turnout for other candidates rose by
How much of an advantage do crooked tactics confer? Anke Hoeffler of
Oxford University and I have just investigated that using data on 786
elections, some clean, others crooked, in 155 countries since 1979. The
effect of crooked tactics turns out to be massive, nearly tripling the
incumbent's expected duration in office.
Crooked tactics also get incumbents off the hook of needing good
economic performance. If incumbents are confined to honest electoral
tactics, then raising the growth rate from zero to 5% is one of the best
ways of retaining power: The time in office increases by around 60%. By
using illicit methods the priority for policy can be switched from national
growth to private patronage. So crooked tactics not only keep you in office,
they make office more rewarding for crooks.
A few structural characteristics make some societies highly exposed to
crooked tactics. Poverty is a risk factor, but it is the compound of poverty
with a small population and dependence upon natural resource revenues that
takes the risk level through the roof. Small is not beautiful when it comes
to elections, and in small societies it is probably easier for an incumbent
to keep the sinews of power personalized.
Valuable natural resources should be an opportunity for prosperity,
but in practice they tend to increase the incentive to hang onto power by
whatever means, and to make it easier for incumbents to do so. That is why
there is no chance that the Angolan elections will result in a change of
This cocktail of poverty, small populations and natural-resource
dependence characterizes most of Africa and the other societies of the
bottom billion. It stands in contrast to India which, despite its poverty,
has succeeded in maintaining a functioning democracy. I think that India's
huge size and lack of natural resources has helped.
It also contrasts with the new democracies of Eastern Europe such as
Poland and the Czech Republic. Not only were these societies already
middle-income and not resource dependent, but a degree of political
discipline was imposed by the goal of membership of the European Union.
Mugabe recently provided a spectacular demonstration: If at first you
don't succeed try, try and try again. In the second round, delayed until
June to give him time to change tactics, all it took was sufficiently brutal
For good measure many of the party workers of the opposition were
beaten up and several murdered. After that, and the pitiful connivance of
regional leaders in Mugabe's retention of power, there could be no doubt
that African elections face problems.
The major political development in Africa over the past year has not
been the patchy conduct of elections, but the comeback of the coup d'etat.
Since independence there have been over 80 successful coups in Africa and
hundreds of attempts, but their incidence had seemed to be in secular
Perhaps their revival is due to the French decision a decade ago to
pull back from paternalism in Francophone West Africa. Coups are imitative,
and once the French allowed one in Cote d'Ivoire to succeed, several others
in West Africa followed.
While nobody wants a return to French paternalism, the international
community could step up to the more limited role of protecting democratic
governments from coups on condition that they conducted elections properly.
For this to work, protection from coup risk would need to be an acceptable
price to pay for facing the greater risk of loss of office implied by the
honest conduct of elections.
In the past 12 months there have been four successful coups. In two of
them, Madagascar and Mauritania, the coup deposed a democratically elected
government: Being democratically elected provides no significant protection.
Coups depose presidents but create precedents: From now on few African
presidents can sleep easy.
The potency of this carrot is that it turns automatically into a
stick. If an incumbent stole an election the undertaking would need to be
Thus, the protection of decently elected governments unavoidably, and
almost inadvertently, invites coups against crooked governments. Following
the last year of coups, presidents tempted to steal the next election know
all too well that such invitations would not be declined.
African presidents are not sufficiently fearful of us to be threatened
into denying themselves the advantages of crooked tactics, but they are
fearful of their own armies. - Wall St Journal.
* Paul Collier, a professor of economics at Oxford University, is the
author of "Wars, Guns and Votes: Democracy in Dangerous Places" and "The
Saturday, 11 July 2009 16:44
THERE are people who want to grab all the stakes and will then
stubbornly refuse to release their hold on them. These grabbers have firmly
staked their claim to be the people, but others say that the only people the
grabbers represent are themselves.
It can be very painful for someone to have a stake in things,
particularly if the stake is inserted into the wrong place, something
torturers know a lot about.
There are innumerable gatherings to discuss what the people want. Some
of these even include "the people". Some include the people but only in
order to instruct the people about what it is that they want. Some are
convened to warn the people about things it would be very dangerous to want.
By labelling your meeting, "a People's Convention", no one can deny
that the people are indeed speaking and can be heard by all those who are
prepared to listen. (There are none so deaf as those that will not hear.)
It is, however, essential to use a special language when addressing
such assemblies. Civil society organisations that usually organise such
jamborees at enormous expense are, fortunately, very well versed in the use
of this lingo.
Their generous donors fund workshop after workshop, seminar after
seminar, and conference after conference.
These events provide endless opportunities not only to devise
solutions to every imaginable and unimaginable problem besetting the
country, but also to hone skills in the use of NONGOVORG speak.
The donor agencies themselves encourage the NGOs to maximise the use
of gobbledygook in proposals and reports. They want language like log frame
analyses, time lines, performance targets etc etc.
The word "gobbledygook" was coined by a maverick, Maury Maverick. He
used the word in 1944 in the New York Magazine to describe the obscure
language used by his colleagues on the US Small War Plants Committee in
Congress. His inspiration, he said, was the turkey, "always gobbledy
gobbling and strutting with ludicrous pomposity".
The word met a clear need and quickly became part of the language. It
is sometimes abbreviated slightly to gobbledygoo.
Maury's grandfather, Samuel Maverick, a Texas rancher, was the
inspiration for maverick, originally an animal not branded to identify its
owner (because Sam Maverick didn't brand his own herds), later an
unconventional person, and later still a politician who stands aside from
the herd, refusing to conform to the party line.
Of course, politicians will never be prepared to follow the party line
if what the party is doing is wrong. Richard Nixon Oval Office tape records
this statement from H R Haldeman describing the situation to Nixon.
To the ordinary guy, all this is a bunch of gobbledygook. But out of
the gobbledygook comes a very clear thing: you can't trust the government;
you can't believe what they say; and you can't rely on their judgment. And
the implicit infallibility of presidents, which has been an accepted thing
in America, is badly hurt by this, because it shows that people do things
the President wants to do even though it's wrong, and the President can be
Anyway back to NGO speak. Speaker after speaker enlighten the people
with a dazzling array of verbiage.
The consultative process must be transparent, participatory, people
centric and people driven, and the people must own both the process and the
The bottom line is that we need a bottom up approach instead of a top
down approach. (Whose bottom will be projecting upwards is never explained
and reference to a top down apparently does not relate to a lady who made
the bold decision to dispense with her bra).
My organisation, of which I am the proud founder and only member, must
be mainstreamed as it is a genuinely grassroots organisation, as shown by
the fact that last year I went on an extended fieldtrip in Chivhu lasting at
least one hour during which I had a meaningful, almost life-changing,
interactive experience which has greatly enhanced my capacity to relate to
the essences of rural existence.
We must mobilise and energise the people to demand that all their
fundamental rights be accorded to them.
Only by creating an enabling environment can we expect the intrinsic
but latent synergies to emerge with irresistible outcomes.
There must be a positive mindset change in the political realm in the
direction of acceptance of functional democracy.
What we need are holistic innovative and proactive strategies to
overcome resistance to a paradigm shift and to incentivise everyone to move
in that direction.
There are other words to describe verbiage. One is "echolalia which is
meaningless repetition of speech or the often pathological repetition of
what is said by other people as if echoing them. Another is "logghorrhea",
excessive and often incoherent talkativeness or wordiness.
Lawyers, of course, always use plain, simple, easily understood
terminology. One fine example is this provision in a British Act:
In the Nuts (unground) (other than groundnuts) Order, the expression
nuts shall have reference to such nuts, other than ground nuts, as would but
for this amending Order not qualify as nuts (unground) (other than ground
nuts) by reason of their being nuts (unground).
(John Makumbe would probably warn people not to try this at home.)
Now where were we before we deviated from the last deviation from the
topic? I vaguely remember that we were rattling on about who is entitled to
hold the stakes.
Well, this question will soon be answered.
Invitees to the Stakeholders' Conference will have made the grade and
will have bragging rights in the area of stakeholding; those not invited
will have to slink off and hang their heads in shame because they will have
failed to qualify to hold any stakes. But it may not be that simple.
The chosen ones at the Conference are likely to compete over who
should hold the stakes and this could turn ugly. But undoubtedly at the end
of the proceedings the people's wishes will be crystal clear.
What did US Official say in Libya to so Upset Mugabe?
Saturday, 11 July 2009 17:22
WHAT did Ambassador Johnnie Carson, the US Assistant Secretary of
State for African Affairs say to President Robert Mugabe to upset him to the
extent the head of state resorted to using language such as "an idiotic. .
That is pretty strong language for a leader of a country to use, never
mind that it is extremely undiplomatic.
What I do know, basing on his physique during his tour of duty in the
period 1997 - 1999 when he was Ambassador to this country is that Ambassador
Carson is not "a little fellow". The President must have been displaying
utter contempt for President Barack Obama's representative, imputing that
Ambassador Carson must have "a very small, naïve" mind.
We were told; by the state media that Ambassador Carson met President
Mugabe on the sidelines of the African Union Summit in the Libyan coastal
city of Sirte, scene of US bombardment of Libya during the Cold War between
the North Africa country and the US.
However, coming after a week in which the Minister of Media,
Information and Publicity addressed media leaders in the country on the
subject of objectivity, balanced and fair reporting, the state media never
afforded us an opportunity to hear what Ambassador Carson said that raised
President Mugabe's ire to such violent levels?
In the absence of balanced reporting we are left wondering whether
President Mugabe was angry at the fact that Washington did not give Prime
Minister any funding for the economic recovery process; that he was not the
one afforded an opportunity to meet President Obama at the Oval Office; or
that the US dared suggest that any financial package to Zimbabwe was
conditional upon implementation of the "outstanding issues" in the Global
Political Agreement? The list is long.
Surely the rebuke of President Obama's representative on African
Affairs must damage our chances of securing immediate funding from the West
of which the US is part. The other Western countries will be waiting to take
a cue from Washington. No one could ever have imagined such a setback.
We seem to make much of the help from the East - China in particular,
but I like to remind fellow readers that during the cholera crisis, which
needlessly claimed the lives of more than 4 200 innocent lives, the West
poured in millions of US dollars in humanitarian aid, while China
contributed only US$500 000. This figure was widely reported by the state
media and is there for everyone who cares to check with the archives.
Those fortunate to read what the immediate past US Ambassador to
Zimbabwe, James McGee said before leaving the country will recall him
quoting the Declaration of Independence saying: "'We hold these truths to be
self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their
Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty
and the pursuit of Happiness.
"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men,
deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,
That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these
ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to
institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and
organising its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to
effect their Safety and Happiness.'
"As I understand it, this is exactly what the fight in Zimbabwe has
been about - the right of a people to democratically elect a government that
they believe will best serve their interest in securing basic and universal
"I reject the idea that Zimbabwe needs more donor support to do this.
It costs nothing. It doesn't cost anything to start enforcing property
rights or to have judges apply the law equally."
Could this have been the reason for President Mugabe's reaction? We
need to hear Ambassador Carson's comments.
Shocking Service at Restaurant
Saturday, 11 July 2009 17:22
ONE Saturday last month (June), I visited one restaurant in the
northern suburbs for dinner with my friends visiting from the United
In total we were six adults and two toddlers. This was my first visit
to this restaurant. We ordered our food. One of our visitors and I ordered
the restaurant's much touted braai dinner.
However, much to my disappointment the chicken was too salty while the
T-bone steak was tough as leather.
I raised my concern with one of the waiters but to my dismay the
manageress, descended on me like a tonne of bricks. To quote her: ". . . You
can go and have steak elsewhere. It is not my fault that beef in Zimbabwe is
She couldn't hide her racist attitude and hatred for people of colour.
She did not apologise for the offensive remarks and naturally we were
shocked by her attitude.
As a consumer I believe I have a right to complain if I am not happy
with goods and/or services provided. I believe people like the manageress of
the said restaurant have no place in our society as we are trying to
re-build our economy and country. This kind of behaviour must be nipped in
the bud. Zimbabwe has no room for racists.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe should effectively deal with cases of
Transport Nightmare for Rural Travellers
Saturday, 11 July 2009 17:17
FOR most people living in the rural areas, making a journey is
generally a nightmare. It also means that getting produce to the market or
inputs from the market is a daunting task.
The roads are largely in a state of disrepair. I recently travelled on
four different roads - one in the Midlands - the Empress Mine road to Gokwe;
the Nyamandlhovu road in Matabeleland South; the Harare-Hwedza road in
Mashonaland East; and the fourth, the Muzarabani road in Mashonaland
Transporters risk their vehicles by plying these routes. Equally of
concern is that the few operators on these routes expect the rural
travellers to be up before midnight or some unearthly hour in order for them
to catch the transport to the nearest towns to conduct their business.
It is amazing that the councillors and the MPs who are elected
representatives of the people in these constituencies accept as normal such
treatment of the people they are supposed to represent .
That is perhaps one of the reasons why they are rejecting the Madza
BT-50s as unsuitable for use during the course of their "duties" in their
Equally amazing is the fact that there are no local initiatives to do
something about the state of the roads - why can't the proceeds of the
Zunde-raMambo be used to pay villagers to undertake road repairs under the
supervision of the District Development Fund? And why do the councillors -
who live among the affected villagers - ensure that transport operators
travel from their areas at times that are acceptable? To expect villagers to
be up at 11pm or 2am in order to catch buses to the major towns in this day
and age is an injustice and abuse of the travellers.
Whatever happened to the maxim: the customer is king?
I urge the councillors and MPs to engage the operators with a view to
alleviating the plight of travellers who continue to be subjected to this
Saturday, 11 July 2009 17:13
ZIMBABWE has acquired yet another dubious distinction - that of having
the most abusive head of state in living memory.
Might President Mugabe's lack of diplomatic decorum and rudeness have
something to do with his advanced age?
What is obvious though is that the dear leader can't handle criticism
very well and flies into a rage everytime someone points to his failings.
AU's Embarrassing Descent into a Club of Dictators
Saturday, 11 July 2009 17:11
THE recent African Union's violation of the Rome Statute which gave
birth and legal force to the International Criminal Court (ICC) is
disturbing and embarrassing to the entire continent.
African leaders who popularly refer to each other as "brother"
rejected the warrant of arrest for the Sudanese President, Omar al-Bashir,
who stands accused of genocide in Sudan's Darfur region.
The stance adopted by the AU makes the continent the laughing stock of
the world. What is wrong with Africa? The most ruthless dictators are found
Al-Bashir committed crimes against humanity. His contribution to the
Sudanese genocide is public knowledge. I congratulate the government of
Botswana for distancing itself from this AU shame.
I encourage President Ian Seretse Khama to boycott the AU's gatherings
because he must not mix and mingle with dictators.
The rightful members of this club of dictators (AU) are President
Robert Mugabe, King Mswati III of Swaziland and Colonel Muammar Gadaffi of
Libya, to mention a few.
Botswana and other genuine African leaders must hand over Al-Bashir to
the ICC if he passes through their territory. The AU is promoting impunity
for leaders who have committed genocide. This is a very dangerous precedence
for the African continent.
The other dangerous example that has become the trend of African
politics is power-sharing agreements after rigged elections. Africa must not
ratify democracy and human rights treaties if it knows that it is a
God bless Africa.
University of Zimbabwe
SMS THE STANDARD:
Saturday, 11 July 2009 17:11
Big con trick
EVEN the most gullible of all people are now beginning to realise that
all the money we are paying to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
(Zesa) is not going towards servicing their debt. We are simply financing
their lavish lifestyles. Once bitten, twice shy. - D C, Kuwadzana, Harare.
IF what has been said about Engineer Elias Mudzuri, the Minister of
Energy and Power Development concerning perks from the National Oil Company
of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) is true then the MDC-T has serious problems on its
hands. We thought the MDC-T was aware of the people's expectations. We know
people are generally inherently corrupt but we expect the MDC-T people to be
aware of this and try to work very hard to be different from those in Zanu
PF. This clearly is a betrayal of the people's aspirations. The same goes
for those who refused to return cars they were issued by the Reserve Bank
and those who do not want to support the local motor industry. It's the
moral element of being like Zanu PF politicians that we resent. - Irate.
What's going on?
A few weeks ago someone wrote to your paper saying that Noczim had
furnished the Minister of Energy and Power Development's office. Then last
week he was reported by the state media calling on all oil companies to use
Noczim's pipeline to ship in their fuels. Is this mere coincidence? - M
Lives in danger
THE nation should declare a state of emergency over the recent spate
of armed robberies. All over the country there are reports of robberies,
meaning that our lives are in danger. We need protection from these people
who were trained to use arms. - N Gasa, Eastlea, Harare.
IS the rise in armed robberies and car jakings not linked to the June
2008 violence? Where did all those AK 47s that Zanu PF militias were issued
with go to? - W Manyande.
Time to stand up
I urge the electorate to punish Zanu PF heavily during any future
elections. We are needlessly suffering 15-hour power cuts because of its
puerile brinkmanship. - Meki Sithole.
THE constitution-making process is very flawed in that it does not
include the people's participation. No wonder the ZCTU is not part of the
process. - Rawlings Magede.
WE need a constitution that will outlive us and withstand generational
leadership changes and serve us for posterity as a sacred document, not one
that is meant to appease today's politicians. - No to Kariba.
I disagree with the idea that the Kariba draft becomes the reference
point or the basis for the current constitution-making process because it
gives the President powers which he has used in overriding our wishes.
Therefore we can't say the draft is a good document. - Kudzai Chifamba.
CAN you please facilitate publication of the National Constitutional
Assembly's draft constitution for the benefit of the public, so that we can
scrutinize and compare it with the Kariba draft? - Pro-reform.
PEOPLE were given land but were not paid for crops which they produced
and delivered to marketing boards until Morgan Tsvangirai came along. I sold
2 100kg of tobacco last year and the cash I was given was only enough to buy
a bicycle and a paper bag of groceries and worthless cheques which most of
us still have. I sacrificed by selling my cattle in order to buy fertilizer.
This is what has been happening over the years. Gideon Gono was behind all
this. -Tsvangson Mazvita.
THE Presidential scholarship has become a sham. It used to give many
young Zimbabweans from poor backgrounds a sense of hope, but now the
candidates are selected from children of Zanu PF's elite. - Real povo.
WATER has been gushing out on Amby Drive near Chalkmead and people
have been washing their laundry there. One wonders who is going to foot the
bill for all the water lost when nearby areas have gone without water since
September 2008. - Livid, Greendale, Harare.
ZIMRA has no intention of respecting Comesa. How can it demand duty on
a small truck which I bought for business for US$1 000 but am being asked to
pay duty of US$700? They said they charge duty on transport costs when I am
the one who incurred the costs for bringing the truck up to Beitbridge. -
COULD the responsible authorities please investigate and organisation
calling itself Kugaramusango housing co-operative in Mufakose. Thirty
percent of the stands there are owned by one individual and relatives - some
of them under age - of this particular individual. - Taneta, Mufakose.
WE haven't had telephones working in the Ashdown Park area for almost
a year. Can anyone from TelOne bother telling us why, especially as they
continue billing us for line rentals? - Disconnected, Harare.
THE intersection of Harare Street and Herbert Chitepo is very
dangerous, with numerous accidents being recorded almost on a daily basis.
How many lives must be lost before the responsible authorities do something?
A start could be putting traffic lights. - Victim.
WHY do we curse those who dare to create functional hydro-electric
dams, cars, fridges and helicopters when being an import-dependent nation is
degrading? - A Solshin.
The more the merrier
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe dispatches a team to counter Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai's trip. Let's look at it in a positive way and say that if
Mugabe thinks Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans can benefit from visiting those
countries what's bad about that? Whoever said that the US$8.3 billion needed
for economic recovery should only come from Western countries? Didn't we
start with Sadc and did they give us the whole amount? Then it was Europe,
so now it is the turn of Far Eastern countries. Why then should that be an
issue, when this is being done by an inclusive government. We should harness
all the opportunities and resources at our disposal. -
July 12, 2009
By Our Correspondent
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe admitted Saturday his Zanu-PF party still
differed on policy matters with the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
his partners in the current inclusive government.Mugabe said the MDC was too
friendly to the Western governments in the process failing to realise the
West still had a hidden agenda to recolonise Zimbabwe.
"Now it is not a fight with the gun. It is a fight to get properly united
and that is why we are saying lets be one," he said.
Mugabe was addressing mourners at the burial of the late PF-Zapu member,
Ackim Matthew Ndlovu who died last week at the age of 77 through illness and
was declared a national hero by the Zanu-PF politburo.
The burial ceremony was boycotted by the two MDC parties.
"Are we truly one in the inclusive government? Are we united? Let's show
that we are united and speak with one voice," Mugabe said, "the voice of the
Zimbabwe that is free; a voice that no longer seeks the support of
"Those who oppressed us yesterday cannot be our friends today. And we have
got to learn that.
"They may talk sweet language to us but deep down they have a deep-seated
grievance. Let's not humiliate ourselves any further."
Mugabe, whose government embarked on a not entirely successful "Look East
Policy" that has involved trading with the less hostile Asian countries,
said Zimbabwe will continue to befriend the East.
Western countries are demanding broad political and economic reforms from
Zimbabwe, something the Zimbabwean leader was not willing to concede.
"We go to those friends who are prepared to work with us on the basis of
partnership and equal terms," Mugabe said.
"We recognize their participation and reward them for it but not on the
basis of master and servant, boss and rider. We refused to be donkeys."
Mugabe's calls are a contradiction to Prime Minister Tsvangirai who said on
his return from a tour of Europe and the United States two weeks ago that
Zimbabwe, in her attempt to rebuild her economy, will not segregate against
any of the countries willing to assist her.
Mugabe said his party will not return any land seized by his government from
the white commercial farmers saying their ancestors took possession of the
land without paying for it.
"Those who are still clamouring and wanting this piece of land back and that
piece of land back should remember the history of the country and what they
themselves did to us."
Mugabe said his government will allow some of the few remaining farmers to
remain on their land out of mercy.
Meanwhile, James Maridadi, spokesperson for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
said the MDC leader failed to attend Ndlovu's burial because of other
For the first time since the formation of the MDC in 1999, Tsvangirai and
his party officials early this year attended the burial of the late
commander of Zimbabwe's defence forces, General Vitalis Zvinavashe.
Tsvangirai on Friday sent a condolence message to the Ndlovu family.
The MDC wants the involvement of everybody in the conferment of national
hero status to outstanding citizens including sports persons and musicians
of international repute.
Currently, the privilege to accord such status rests with the Zanu-PF
politburo and has been extended only to former fighters of Zimbabwe's
July 12, 2009
Incomers hoping for opportunities from the 2010 football World Cup are
instead finding xenophobia, poverty, poor wages and squalid death
Dan McDougall in De Doorns, Western Cape
Beneath the granite shadow of South Africa's Quadu Mountains, the prayers
for the dead infant are spoken in Shona, the language of rural Zimbabwe.
It is early morning. Across the De Doorns township, an hour's drive east of
the commercial heart of Cape Town, migrant labourers emerge from twisted tin
shacks, forced awake by the sound of mourning drifting across the main
highway north to Johannesburg.
By the roadside cemetery a dozen women sing and shiver in the midwinter
chill beneath a circling flock of starlings: "We will meet again in Heaven,
through the blood of Jesus, we will meet."
At their stamping feet, on a mound of rocky earth, sits the tiny coffin of
thin cream-coloured plywood.
Inside lies the body of one-year-old Melissa Mauketo, emaciated and
withered, a victim of malnutrition in a country that has become a false
beacon of hope for Africa's dispossessed.
The corner of the burial ground we are standing in betrays a wider tragedy.
Around us are crude immigrant graves adorned with simple white crosses.
On each crucifix, the knife-carved names of other infants, the diseased and
malnourished children of immigrants from Lesotho, Somalia, the Democratic
Republic of Congo and Zambia. All of Africa in the ground beneath us.
The girl's middle name was Nyaradzo. It means "comfort", the dead child's
mother, Patience, tells me through her sobs. "We are a long way from home
here, but Zimbabwe is still worse."
As we leave the cemetery, Braam Hanekom, the founder of Passop, a
campaigning charity that helps South Africa's refugees, says that up to
1,000 illegal migrants are coming to the Western Cape every day, looking for
work and a new start. "By the time the World Cup is upon us that figure will
have increased dramatically," he says.
"This situation here is unacceptable. A child's death from malnutrition on
the outskirts of Cape Town is astonishing and, with more immigrants coming
in, it can only get worse."
He adds: "Imagine the 2010 games as an enormous magnet for Africa's
uneducated and impoverished and then imagine how bad life will become for
these immigrants who come here to these townships and camps with the hope of
finding work but find only exploitation and xenophobia. The situation is
much broader than the government recognises.
"What's not being acknowledged is the fact that this isn't a 'male migrant'
issue. They are still summoning their families as soon as they arrive here,
wives and children, when they can barely feed themselves, and these people
are dying. The World Cup will be a tragedy for many African families."
For all its poverty and historic divisions, South Africa remains, despite
last summer's xenophobic attacks, which left 70 foreign workers dead in a
wave of antiimmigrant violence, a beacon of hope for the dispossessed and
persecuted, with a constitution that in theory guarantees equality and a
functioning economy that rewards entrepre-neurial effort.
With President Robert Mugabe's continued destruction of Zimbabwe's economy,
hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans, many of them well educated, still
stream across the Limpopo river into South Africa, straining its resources.
Figures vary, but as many as 3m Zimbabweans may have made the cross-border
journey under cover of darkness, one of the largest exoduses Africa has
More recently they have been joined by immigrants from Somalia, Nigeria,
Angola and Mozambique. Government sources now claim that there are at least
6m foreign nationals working illegally in South Africa, representing 14% of
Melissa Mauketo's story shows many immigrants are facing even deeper
hardship. For South Africa's illegal workers, underpayment, long working
hours, poor living conditions and starvation are accepted parts of daily
Most suffer in silence for fear of losing their jobs or being deported.
Philani Zamuchiya, of the Institute for Poverty, Land and Agrarian Studies,
a research centre at the University of the Western Cape, claims that already
appalling conditions on farms are becoming worse for migrants, who will
accept almost any job out of desperation.
He said that although minimum salaries should be £110 a month, most farmers
were paying their workers a mere £20, which, "with their families, isn't
enough to feed themselves".
Problems worsen during the five-month off season for work in the vineyards.
Farm workers struggle to meet bare necessities, and infant mortality in the
immigrant camps soars. "There is no food here, just like Zimbabwe," says
Anita Makauto, Melissa's aunt. "Over there is a rubbish dump where
Zimba-bwean and Congolese immigrants queue up every Friday to eat, waiting
for the trucks to arrive to feed their families.
"I have been there for scraps, as have all of my family. I see women eat
straight from the ground, rotten cabbage and potatoes, scraping fruit out of
tins with their hands. The council has told us we must take the rotten food
away from the dump and eat it out of sight of the police."
She added: "The locals call us names and threaten to beat us. Every week
fires are started in the compound where we live. We live in fear because we
never know what will happen next. We are scared to talk in public for fear
of people recognising our accents. On buses we mustn't open our mouths.
People here have seen the worst of South Africa but it is better they kill
us here than we go back and they kill us in Zim."
On the flatbed passenger lorries from De Doorns township to the vineyards
where day labourers eke out a living, working-class South Africans, Zulu and
Xhosa, talk loudly and threateningly about burying the foreigners who sit
beside them, particularly the Zimbabweans and Lesothans, whom they accuse of
stealing jobs by undercutting wages and working for as little as £1.20 a
day. The air of violence and intimidation is palpable.
Although government ministers condemned last year's attacks on foreign
workers, they have since left it to civic groups to distribute aid and
grants to the displaced. Some critics say the immigrants' plight has fallen
by the wayside, with the focus on the World Cup. Others say the government
is paralysed by what a spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner
for Refugees recently called a "sense of shame" at the treatment of
Intermittent violence has continued against foreigners, particularly
Somalis, many of whom are legal refugees and run shops in the townships. A
Somali woman and her three children were recently stabbed and bludgeoned to
death in Eastern Cape province, prompting the UN's top human rights
official, Navanethem Pillay, to condemn "a continued and dangerous pattern
of targeted attacks on foreigners".
"This was a hard place for my baby to be born," says Lorian Mohakia,
clutching her five-month-old son, Jacob, to her breast. Alongside her in the
Bonne Esperance Refugee Shelter, in the Philippi district of Cape Town, are
women from Zimbabwe, Angola, Burundi, Congo, Namibia and Senegal, all of
them clutching undernourished infants.
Pregnant women and those with newborn babies are among the most vulnerable.
Insufficient food, delayed ambulance services, lack of beds and illness
continue to plague the lives of most immigrant women.
"I need to leave the shelter in the next few weeks," she says. "I've seen
other women leave to live on the street and lose their babies. People don't
believe that babies can die of starvation somewhere as beautiful as this.
"Immigrants like me don't exist; we are unseen. Our children are born with
no rights, no birth certificate and when they die nobody in South Africa
hears their mother's wails."
Strike hits stadiums
The growing power of South Africa's vast army of immigrant workers was
displayed last week in a countrywide strike by almost 100,000 construction
workers, many of them impoverished economic migrants from Lesotho and
The wildcat strike brought work on the World Cup stadiums to a grinding halt
and placed further doubt on the nation's readiness for next year's event.
The stadiums are due to be completed by December and work was reportedly on
schedule before the strike. Yet concerns remain that at least five stadiums
being built from scratch, including Cape Town's showcase Green Point
stadium, are still far from ready.
The strike came after workers demanded a 13% wage increase. They downed
tools at midday on Wednesday, stopping work on many of the infrastructure
projects the government is hoping will help pull the economy out of
recession and prepare the country for the tournament.
Projects hit by the strike included the high-speed Gautrain rail link
between Johannesburg and Pretoria, ports, airports and power stations and 10
Many of the workers on the site of the Cape Town stadium say they are being
paid less than £3 a day, a claim denied by the authorities.
South Africa's National Union of Mineworkers, which has many members in the
building trades, and the Building, Construction and Allied Workers Union
confirmed last night that a framework for a deal had been reached and the
strike would end next week.
Fears have been voiced within Fifa, football's governing body, over the
preparations for what will be the largest sporting event in Africa's
history. One particular concern is the state of the power grid. Power cuts
are still common in most main cities.
There are concerns about the wider infrastructure. In Johannesburg, street
and traffic lights do not work in large parts of the city and routine
maintenance has all but ceased.
Public transport in Cape Town and Johannesburg is virtually nonexistent and
in Durban, another host city, the roads are unable to cope with the volume
There are mounting fears about security in a country with some of the world's
highest crime rates. In Cape Town a zero-tolerance police initiative aims to
cut petty crime in the city in the run-up to the opening match in June. But
it will do nothing to curb violence in the surrounding townships or street
robberies in Johannesburg, which will host the final.
Dan McDougall has joined The Sunday Times as Africa correspondent. He was
voted foreign correspondent of the year at the British Press Awards and has
also won the 2009 Amnesty International Media Award for periodicals.
AMB, which owns a large number of shares in the offshoot LonZim, is seeking
to oust the board. The showdown is set for the EGM at the end of July. Mark
Leftly reports on the protagonists
Sunday, 12 July 2009
Dave Lenigas polishes off his breakfast of two small packets of cereal, as
the English summer rain tip-taps against the windows of the Mayfair Hotel in
The big Australian leans back slightly, and then, in the macho manner that
gives away his background in the testosterone-fuelled mining industry,
announces: "I don't mean to sound cocky. But we are Lonrho. We have been in
Africa for 100 years. If anyone gets in our way, we have no choice but to
stomp on their heads."
Perhaps realising that he does indeed sound a little cocky, Lenigas,
grinning away, adds: "If we do something wrong, then fine, line us up
against a wall and throw rocks at us. Don't you love my Australianisms?"
Head-stomping and rock-throwing are just about the only twists that haven't
occurred in a rather extraordinary saga being played out on the Alternative
Investment Market (AIM), the junior stock exchange.
Rebel shareholders, the Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, the
investment legend George Soros, and even golfing superstar Tiger Woods are,
wittingly or unwittingly, personalities drawn into a showdown that echoes
the great rows of Lonrho's "Tiny" Rowland era.
While this dispute is not the sort that would move a prime minister - in
Rowland's time, Edward Heath - to describe events as the "unacceptable face
of capitalism", the battle over the future of LonZim, a spin-off of Lonrho,
is almost as spectacular.
Lenigas, who is, today, executive chairman, took over at Lonrho in 2005. It
was no longer the great pan-African conglomerate of the 1960s, 1970s and
1980s. The company was on the verge of selling its last signature asset, a
majority share in Mozambique's Hotel Cardoso, for $3m.
Lenigas pulled the sale, and went about creating the latest incarnation of
the great business empire. It is now active across Africa in an array of
sectors, including building materials, aviation, water technology, and
diamond mining, as well as hotels.
As the political situation in Zimbabwe started to improve, the Lonrho board
sensed an opportunity to invest ahead of the country's anticipated
reconstruction. However, the directors did not want to use the Lonrho brand
in the country, so went about setting up LonZim. While Lonrho focused on
fairly mature investments, LonZim would be buying assets ahead of an
This was spun off as a separately listed company at the end of 2007. The Aim
admission document made clear that the companies were expected to be all but
The four executive directors would be from Lonrho, holding the same roles.
For example, Geoffrey White and Lenigas are respectively chief executive and
executive chairman of both companies.
White says: "In the prospectus, we made it clear that LonZim would be using
Lonrho's expertise to run the company for a management fee - either $500,000
a year or 2 per cent of funds invested. The directors on the LonZim board
receive £1,000 a month, the minimum salary to serve on the board of a plc."
Nearly 30 million shares were placed in the market at 100p a pop, raising
£29.16m for investment in Zimbabwe. Lonrho retained a 20 per cent stake.
At about the same time, AMB Capital, a South Africa-based investment bank,
started building ties in Zimbabwe. Andrew Sprague, the rugby union-loving
AMB chief executive, is Zimbabwean.
AMB saw the country's potential, and hankered for a vehicle that could "act
as a conduit for investment", says Sprague. If AMB could find such a
company, Sprague says there are parties willing to raise up to $30m for a
range of investments, including housing, roads and mining infrastructure.
Sprague spied LonZim. He knew there were both negative and positive views of
Lonrho which dated from the Tiny Rowland days. Africans considered the
company either a force for colonialism or a great investor, but on balance,
Sprague felt that Lonrho's name was well regarded in the continent. The
LonZim name would help AMB to build a strong business in Zimbabwe.
At the start of this year, the shares, like most stocks in London, had
collapsed, in this case to just 15p. Two months later, AMB and Damille
Partners IV, an investment vehicle, were introduced and decided to buy up
AMB took a 20.75 per cent position, while Damille built up a 6.75 per cent
stake, the two parties paying an average of 16p a share. It is understood
that many of the shares originated from George Soros.
At the end of March, the parties wrote to LonZim's non-executives. They
expressed concerns at the group's investment strategy, believing that the
LonZim board had overpaid for certain assets, and argued that there were
corporate governance issues arising from the company's ties to Lonrho.
The investors also called for an extraordinary general meeting, at which it
wanted to vote off the Lonrho-driven board and replace with two AMB
directors, including Sprague, and a duo from Damille.
If elected, AMB wants to review every asset on LonZim's books and by the end
of 2010 would try to sell any asset that is not expected to generate a 30
per cent return for shareholders. The return is set so high due to the risk
of dealing in a politically unstable country.
Lonrho insists that this means AMB wants to wind up the company by the end
of 2010, with the rebel shareholder effectively cashing in on a fire sale
when they had paid only 16p a share, while other investors would lose out.
"AMB's interests are chronically misaligned to other shareholders," White
alleges. "Most shareholders bought in at between 40p to £1 a share."
However, Sprague says that at no point has AMB stated that it wants to wind
down the company. Rather, it wants to start from scratch, by selling or
winding down assets and investing elsewhere in Zimbabwe. "We never said that
we would liquidate the company. We just don't like the assets," argues
AMB is understood to be planning a stock exchange announcement tomorrow
detailing this position.
The most public dispute has been over LonZim's $8.5m purchase of the five
star Leopard Rock Hotel, 220km south-east of Harare. Sprague argues that
this does not meet his 30 per cent return criteria: "You'd be lucky to get
your capital back if you sold it."
AMB values the hotel at about $4m, while Lenigas says that his advisers
estimated that LonZim had snapped up the hotel at half-price. LonZim also
plans to refurbish the hotel at a cost of $1.7m and expand by 100 rooms.
Lenigas says that when this is completed, the Professional Golfers
Association has indicated that it will hold tournaments at the adjacent
course. Clearly, LonZim has images of Padraig Harrington taking on Tiger
Woods at the venue.
At a breakfast promoting Zimbabwe at a Big Four accountant's London base
last month, White introduced himself to Prime Minister Tsvangirai,
mentioning the purchase. "He said that tourism would be the sector that
would develop fastest in Zimbabwe, and the government has since announced
that hotel modernisation will be duty free," says White.
But AMB is also concerned that Lonrho Hotels has been selected to oversee
the refurbishment and operations of Leopard Rock. The LonZim board maintains
this was a fair, independent selection process, while AMB believes it is an
example that the company is compromised by its Lonrho links.
Should Sprague and Christopher Vosloo, AMB's executive director, succeed in
gaining places on the board, they will review Lonrho's overall management
agreement with LonZim to check if it is legally binding.
The EGM is to be held at 3pm on 30 July. But this will not be a simple vote
to replace one board with another.
The situation has been muddied by Damille's decision last month to sell most
of its stake. The Damille board nominees, Brett Miller and Rhys Davies, have
withdrawn, although they are still formally on the ticket.
The decision to sell up has angered AMB. Sprague says lawyers are reviewing
an alleged agreement between the two that Damille would not sell up until
after the EGM. Miller counters: "There was no agreement between Damille and
AMB about not selling any shares prior to an EGM or at any time. Damille is
purely a financial investor, and the share value had increased by over 100
per cent on what the shares had cost Damille."
Despite the tension between the former allies, Miller says that Damille will
use its remaining shares to vote for AMB.
Sprague is looking to enhance his position by arguing that Lonrho, now with
nearly 25 per cent of the company, cannot vote on a resolution to change
LonZim's investment strategy. This is because any change would impinge on
the Lonrho's chances of earning a management fee. White says that he has
obtained a legal opinion dismissing this argument.
Should Sprague and Vosloo win the election, they would have to work with two
of their rivals from Lonrho. Difficult, given that White would ultimately
like to merge LonZim with Lonrho. The relationship would also be
particularly tempestuous now that Lenigas and White have issued defamation
proceedings against Sprague in relation to comments made to a South African
And Lenigas won't back down on the defamation suit, no matter the outcome of
the vote. "We take what he's said very seriously, as it could harm Lonrho's
dealings with African governments and investors.
"Geoff and I are merely the custodians and guardians of Lonrho, and we need
to protect it."
Tiny Rowland would be proud of those words. And he would be all too familiar
with the effects of a bitter, very public dispute.
I am someone who was involved in the whole process of transition from
Rhodesia to Zimbabwe and I am now deeply embroiled in the subsequent
transition from tyranny to democracy in the new Zimbabwe. In the intervening
period covering some 50 odd years, a great deal has gone under the bridge
and a lot has gone wrong. A friend from the early days in Zimbabwe wrote to
me the other day and asked, 'Where did we go wrong?' I thought that question
needed an answer.
Obviously the historical background was the failure by the successive
governments after 1923, to recognise that their tenure was limited and that
without broad based democratic support, their grip on power was eventually
doomed to fail. Had they grasped that reality early on and started to work
on the future based on that assumption, the outcome would have been very
As Nelson Mandela said in his autobiography, it was the whites that decided
how power was to be transferred. In failing to recognise the basic
realities, we created the conditions for the armed struggle and in doing so
we created the coterie of leaders who would eventually take over power and
rule in their stead. In our case, we were 'saved' from the worst effects of
this shortsightedness and stubbornness by international intervention but as
always, those responsible for managing events during that era were unable to
totally overcome the effect of our own political behavior in the previous
At Lancaster House we made further mistakes, imposing on Zimbabwe a British
style of constitution and failing to consult the majority. We found
ourselves in the aftermath, with a government led by people with no
experience of government, few entrenched principles and no commitment to
democratic values or basic human rights. They did not like the
constitutional dispensation forced on them by the international community
and the region but had no choice in the matter.
We compounded these mistakes by ignoring and condoning the subsequent abuses
of democratic principles and human rights when the new government was
obviously violating these. When Mugabe committed genocide from 1983 to 1987
under the guise of 'Gukurahundi', the rest of the world looked the other way
and continued to receive him as a respected leader in western capitals. When
he violated democratic principles and crushed domestic opposition, there was
no outcry or even support for civil society or the fledgling opposition. One
by one, successive opposition groups were allowed to suffocate and die.
Growing corruption, nepotism and flagrant violations of all the norms of
good governance simply went uncontested, embolden by this and seeing only
disinterest and unconcern, the Mugabe regime went on a spree, abandoning
fiscal prudence and restructuring the constitution to entrench their hold on
power. The steady erosion of the legal system and the principle of equality
before the law and the independence of the Judiciary followed these
developments and still the criticism from international organisations and
States and African countries remained muted.
Then, when finally the people of Zimbabwe decided that they had had enough,
the MDC came into being and delivered the first democratic defeat on Zanu PF
since 1980. Infuriated by this defeat, the leadership of the Zanu PF and the
security branches of the regime unleashed a well organised and funded 'total
onslaught' against the democratic forces that had combined to make the MDC
defeat of the regime possible.
They carefully analysed the electoral defeat and found that they had lost
the urban areas, won in the rural peasant districts and that the majority of
the 350 000 workers on commercial farms and estates together with their
families had also voted MDC. This 'swing vote' became the key objective.
Over the next five years, the regime simply smashed the entire agricultural
industry in a brutal effort to crush the opposition forces located on
This marked the next mistake we all made. We failed to see what they were
doing and to understand why. Even the farmers did not fully grasp the
reality and right to the bitter end the CFU and the ZTA argued for the farm
community to be 'apolitical' and to 'co-operate with government' even while
they were being targeted politically and their assets stolen and the
industry they had built up at such great cost over the previous 100 years,
was being systematically destroyed. The international community also made
the mistake of accepting that this was 'land reform' when in fact that
slogan was just a smoke screen for their real intentions. African States,
including South Africa, made the mistake of taking Mugabe's claims about the
'African credentials' of the MDC and the right of the State to plunder the
assets of the white farmers under the guise of 'land reform', at face value.
Even though 95 per cent of the farmers affected by the 'fast track land
reform programme' were Africans in all respects except the pigment of their
skins, they were treated as second-class citizens and foreigners. Even
though the race issue had dominated the struggle for freedom and democracy
in southern Africa for most of the previous century, this outrageous,
racially based criminal act went uncommented on in African dialogue. The
abuses were simply brushed aside by most as being justified as correcting an
historical wrong. This view persisted even when it became known that over 80
per cent of the targeted population had acquired their farms after
Zimbabwean independence in 1980.
This failure to call a spade a spade and the inevitable subsequent collapse
of the Zimbabwean economy led to the present situation where our GDP has
shrunk to 15 per cent of tiny Botswana and the great majority of Zimbabweans
are displaced and desperately poor. We have become the quintessential
example of how not to do things in the 21st Century; a model that will be
used in Universities and Colleges throughout the world to teach what happens
when you do dumb things.
But the list of our failures does not stop there. After a bitter and
protracted campaign for freedom and justice, the people of Zimbabwe finally
saw their votes overcome tyranny in 2008, a victory made even more
remarkable by the fact that this was achieved without a stone being thrown
or a shot fired. Instead of greeting this victory with the relief and
celebration that was due, the region, led by South Africa, allowed this
corrupt and brutal regime to hang onto power and forced the MDC into an
unholy alliance with their defeated oppressors that is expected to bring
forth a new democratic dispensation in 18 months. It's a tall order.
Bulawayo, 11th July 2009