ZimbabweDesperate times in Zimbabwe
Jul 11th 2007 | HARARE
ZIMBABWE is an increasingly wretched place and, sadly, will grow more miserable for some time yet. This week an outspoken Roman Catholic Archbishop, Pius Ncube, who has become the strongest voice of opposition in the country, described the economic situation as “life-threatening”. That was an understatement. Years of economic collapse, provoked by dreadful misrule, have already taken a huge toll on Zimbabwean lives: the population has been battered by hunger, poverty and AIDS; some 3m people are estimated to have fled abroad; life expectancy has dropped to medieval levels.
Mr Ncube has also called on outsiders—notably on Britain, the former colonial power—to make some sort of (peaceful) intervention to remove the government of the ageing president, Robert Mugabe. But outsiders either lack the inclination to push Mr Mugabe to go, or they lack any effective means of getting him out. Yet until Mr Mugabe’s undemocratic regime is replaced, there is no hope of any recovery.
An idea floated at the weekend that an economic lifeline could be thrown from neighbouring South Africa, if the almost worthless Zimbabwe dollar were pegged to the South African rand, is nothing but fantasy. It has already been rejected by Zimbabwe’s leaders as a threat to their “sovereignty”. The Southern African Development Community (and thus South Africa) said on Wednesday July 11th that it “disassociates” itself from any such notion. In any case the corrupt elite in charge of Zimbabwe is profiting handsomely through currency trading. Nor would South Africa wish to subsidise Mr Mugabe’s misrule. Nor, indeed, would it be a simple matter to achieve rapid currency union between South Africa (with single digit inflation) and Zimbabwe (six digit inflation, where notes are worth less than toilet paper).
Yet Mr Mugabe is not sitting comfortably. A recent claim by an American diplomat that economic collapse would provoke regime change within six months carried the whiff of propaganda, but it is inevitably a worry for the 83-year-old president. His people are growing frustrated over the high price of petrol and food, along with their despair at political repression. In the past Mr Mugabe managed to buy off political allies and sustained some popularity (at least in rural areas) by snatching commercial farm land and dishing it out to his supporters. But that trick cannot be repeated. There is some expectation that foreign businesses may be targeted next, but the most valuable ones remaining—mines—will be difficult for Mr Mugabe to grab without upsetting South Africa. That leaves few options.
Instead the president, who famously despises “bookish economics”, has decided to outlaw inflation. Price freezes have only been enforced through the arrest of scores of businessmen who are accused of profiteering. The result: shops are bare of basic goods, as businesses refuse to sell more than a minimum of flour, sugar, maize and other items at a crippling loss. There has been panic buying all over the country. In Harare, the capital, crowds wait outside supermarkets ready to rush in and grab whatever they can. Where basics such as cooking oil are available they are rationed by shopkeepers. Fuel is in short supply, with long queues of cars reappearing outside Harare’s petrol stations. As factories prepare to close operations their owners, in turn, are being arrested and forced to keep operating.
Choked by hyperinflation and arbitrary restrictions Zimbabweans have had to become increasingly creative to survive. Many of those left behind in the country are staying alive only thanks to remittances from migrants in South Africa, Britain and elsewhere. A local businessman repeats the widely-held prediction that the current system will collapse within six months—and that Zimbabwe, under new management, will become Africa’s fastest growing economy. “Then again”, he smiles, “we have been saying this for years.”
July 12, 2007 02:43pm
Article from: AAP
FOREIGN affairs has upgraded its travel warning for people bound for
Zimbabwe, as violence escalates in the African nation and the economy verges
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) is urging people to
reconsider their need to travel in Zimbabwe, which is spiralling into chaos
under the leadership of President Robert Mugabe.
Zimbabweans are suffering under increasing violence and hyperinflation,
which prompted the Mugabe regime to order shops and businesses to reduce
their prices or face arrest.
Last week price inspectors accompanied by teams of police began visiting
shops countrywide ordering prices down, sometimes by as much as half under a
police blitz dubbed Operation Reduce Prices.
Since the inception of the operation police crack teams operating in
conjunction with other government units have arrested thousands of
In its upgraded travel advisory, DFAT said: "We advise you to reconsider
your need to travel to Zimbabwe at this time due to the high level of
criminal activity, the absence of the rule of law, and deteriorating
economic conditions which could lead to civil unrest at any time.
"This includes visits to national parks and Victoria Falls.
"The security situation could deteriorate quickly and without warning, and
Australians could be caught up in violence directed at others.
"In these circumstances, departure options may be severely limited.''
Travellers were also cautioned about the economic chaos befalling the
"Zimbabwe is experiencing hyperinflation, mass unemployment, a severe
shortage of foreign exchange, and the breakdown of basic services such as
power, water and transport,'' DFAT said.
"Health services are unreliable. Basic commodities such as food, fuel and
medical supplies are now in short supply, leading to panic-buying in shops
• Interview: Economist Tony Hawkins
• Interview: Gwisai, Mpani and Davies
• Interview Part 2: Kagoro, Kapuya and Black
• Interview Part 1: Kagoro, Black and Kapuya
• Interview Part 2: Mutambara and Madhuku
• Interview Part 1: Tsvangirai, Madhuku and Mutambara
• Interview 2: Archbishop Ncube, Pastor Motsi and Bishop Manhanga
• Interview Part 1: Archbishop Ncube, Pastor Motsi and Bishop Manhanga
• Interview: Kembo Mohadi and Grace Kwinjeh
• Interview: human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama
Makgetlaneng and Black
Last updated: 07/12/2007
Broadcast Tuesday, July 10, 2007
Violet Gonda: We have invited economist Professor Tony Hawkins on the programme again for an update on the unfolding events in Zimbabwe. The Mugabe regime has introduced controversial laws, which force retailers to cut their prices; effectively making them sell at a loss.
Now, Professor Hawkins, last time we spoke you doubted the predictions of the outgoing US ambassador to Zimbabwe Christopher Dell who said the inflation rate would be 1.5 million percent by the end of the year. Now that the government has attacked vendors and threatens to take over businesses, do you not think he could be right?
Hawkins: Not really, No. I remain unrepentant on that. I don’t think anyone can predict what the inflation rate is going to be in two, three months time let alone at the end of the year and therefore I am very cautious. I think that if we get an inflation rate for next month or rather for this month, for July, we’ll see a marked reduction in the rate of inflation as a result of all these price cuts.
Now, how sustainable those are is another matter but I think in reply to your first question I would certainly say I haven’t altered my position on that. We don’t know what the underlying inflation rate is and it’s impossible to guess what it’s going to be. We haven’t seen the published inflation rate now since April.
Violet: And just in connection with the price cuts, are we not seeing deliberate financial self-destruction on the part of the government here?
Hawkins: Well you know I am sure the government would say it wasn’t deliberate self-destruction. If you talk to the guys in government they will say the policy is working - that businesses are abiding by the rules and cutting prices, that the parallel market exchange rate has come down quite dramatically and that they are making progress. That’s what they would say. I would merely say this is short term. In a week, 10 days or two weeks time the situation can be looking very different.
Violet: How will recent events affect the black market?
Well the black market has been given a tremendous boost – for the black
market for goods and services. As I was parking my car yesterday or the day
before yesterday a guy came up to me and asked if I wanted sugar and cooking
oil. That’s the kind of things going on. There is a thriving black market out
there. People are going into the shops, buying products before they disappear
off the shelves at these lower prices and then going around the corner selling
them at much higher prices on the black market.
Violet: Do you think we are going to see businessmen leaving the country in large numbers or are they able to profit out of this situation?
Hawkins: Well I think something has to give in a relatively short time. I don’t believe that the government can maintain the kind of pressure that they are putting on businesses for long. Once firms start saying; “look we have to close because we can’t operate under these conditions.” The government’s bluff would have been called. They will either have to take over the firms as they have threatened to do or they will have to agree to back down on prices. And I think there are a lot of saner voices in government saying to those in the cabinet taskforce and elsewhere – this can’t last, you going to have to think about the next stage of the operation.
Violet: And of course the government has also threatened to take over businesses. Has the government got the power and finances to take over businesses?
Hawkins: Well I would have thought not but against that one didn’t think they would go as far as they have gone in respect of imposing these price controls and forcing firms to roll-back prices. So I think if it’s just taking over firms, the finances doesn’t really matter to them, you just take them over and the Reserve Bank prints the money to give them working capital. That’s the way they run parastatals. So they might as well run ordinary businesses like that too.
Violet: And you talked about this being a short-term solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe. Now, people on the ground will appreciate the short-term benefits of these price cuts but in the long run they would suffer as soon as goods disappear from the shelves - you know we have heard of people taking advantage of the forced reduction. You are on the ground, are people thinking long term?
Violet: That is what I actually wanted to ask you. Many have said the attack on the business community is the biggest crisis that Zimbabwe has ever had, shops are empty, millers have stopped producing, there is no fuel, no food, and no businesses – how long will this last?
Hawkins: I think it is impossible to say. There are very few cases and I can’t think of one anyway, where we have gone as far as this, down this road and that is why I think the government will pull back. I think the government will blink first rather than business and government will realise within a relatively short time that this policy can’t work and it will have to come up with a different plan, which will include allowing prices to return to more normal levels.
Violet: And of course it seems with what’s happening right now the government can force the prices of all sorts of things down, but it seems they have hit a brick wall on fuel and can’t force it down. What can you say about this?
Hawkins: Well that is exactly the position. The cost of importing fuel we are told is +ZW$100 000 a litre and… (inaudible)… well it’s only NOCZIM or the state are bringing in cheap fuel that this can be maintained. If people have to go – if importers, dealers, filling stations have to go to the parallel market and buy the dollars at ZW$100 000 to the US dollar there is no way they can import fuel and sell it for half that price. So that is why the fuel supplies are drying up. The only fuel that is available is through NOCZIM.
Violet: And it seems Mugabe is making it look as if the government is doing everyone a favour, especially the ordinary people in Zimbabwe right now. But the local currency has virtually become worthless. Some have said the crunch can come when the security forces refuse to be paid in Zim dollars. Are we further away or closer to the point when soldiers and the police refuse to be paid in Zim dollars and start looting?
Well I am afraid I don’t think I can answer that question. I really don’t have
any insight into how the mindsets of the guys in the arms forces work. All I
would say is that I think that the initial cutting of prices would have been
welcomed by a lot of the very poor people, poorly paid workers including the
police and the soldiers and so on. But it’s a question of how do you sustain
that? And as you’ve just mentioned with the fuel – it’s impossible to sustain
it. And I suspect it would be impossible to sustain it with things like bread
and other necessities going forward, and as I said earlier that is when the
crunch will come.
Violet: So do you think this is this the start of the beginning of the end for the regime?
Hawkins: I wouldn’t go that far. I think the regime; the government can easily reverse its policies. Do another u-turn and just say; “okay we going to the prices that were ruling last week or whatever.” You know businesses have to keep operating and if they can operate at a profit they will do that. And people are not going to close down, shut up shop because of a crisis like this they will try and work their way through it. If they can’t then they will close down. But if they can find a way of working through it or if the government is going to do a u-turn as I suspect it would have to then we can stagger on for a while yet.
Violet: What about this issue of the Rand. It was reported this week that it might be the key weapon to bring political change to Zimbabwe and that SADC may be considering including Zimbabwe in the Common Monetary Area (CMA). Can this strategy work?
Hawkins: I would have thought not. I mean it seems odd to me that SADC should be suggesting this. I mean in the sense that there are only four countries that are members of that area - South Africa, Swaziland, Namibia and Lesotho - and you know, including a country with an inflation rate of say 5000% in a monetary area were the other players have got an inflation rate of around or six percent, is hardly feasible in the short term and it also means that they would have to be backed by big loans from somewhere, presumably South Africa or perhaps Botswana or perhaps Angola or some countries that do have some foreign exchange. But you are then asking Mr. President Mbeki who has just been snubbed, we are told by the Zimbabwean government, who didn’t sent their team down to the talks with the MDC - which was taking place in South Africa just a few days ago. The reports say they didn’t send their team.
I would say it is hard to believe that Mr. Mbeki was going to throw away what was a very strong bargaining chip. In other words if he is going to give Zimbabwe any help at all he is going to want to extract some movement from the Mugabe government on the other side. We already have the Minister of Information here saying it is all wishful thinking and the South Africans practically denying that there is any such plan on the table. But that is all I know, I only know what I read on the web.
would you not think – and these are some of the reports we seeing on the web
also that perhaps South Africans would want to be involved in something like the
CMA, with Zimbabwe and use that as an incentive for Mugabe to drag him to the
Hawkins: Well in theory yes, but in practice I think one has to bear in mind that the Mugabe government - I mean this is not the first time a rescue package has been on the table. You can go back to 1998 to the UN land reform rescue package that was rejected. And ever since then every time there has been suggestions that somebody might put a rescue package together - in return for some political change in Zimbabwe - the government here has said no and so it’s just a question of whether the government now has got to the point were they are prepared to say yes. And Mr. Mugabe as recently as Saturday or Sunday has said there is no need for a new constitution. So this is the status quo.
Violet: And the last time we spoke you said there is no economic solution without sorting out the political crisis in Zimbabwe. And many would say - where is the opposition as you’d think they would capitalize on this crisis right now? What would you say to that?
Hawkins: Well I would agree with you, you would think the opposition will capitalize on the crisis but the opposition appears to be unable to do so. And the opposition does seems to believe that the government of Zimbabwe is going to fall in its lap like a ripe plum without doing anything, and I think this is a sadly mistaken position to have taken.
on the other hand when people say the opposition could be capitalizing on the
crisis, what exactly could they do? What options do they have on this
Hawkins: Well you know the opposition has repeatedly talked about protests and strikes and so on and so on and basically never really delivered. Certainly not for the last five years and they do look inert and they do seem to be slow on their feet in terms of responding to challenges when they come and the fact that they a split into two factions, all these things, do certainly create the impression of an organization that is not actually a government in waiting, lets put it that way.
what about the business community itself. Why has there not been an outcry. You
know, businesses are being forced to reduce their prices to half of what they
originally bought their products for and people are being detained for
overcharging. More than 1300 people have been arrested so far and some of them
are financial directors of big companies. But there is still no widespread
outcry from the business community. Why is that in your
Hawkins: Well you know business is not organized in many countries and certainly not in this one to participate in political campaigns and crisis of this kind. This is not what business is about. Business is not there to be in opposition to the government of the country it is not its job, it is not its aim or intention. It wants to just get on and make money and do its job and when this kind of crisis comes up it is not a surprising that there should not be an outcry from business because business is not organized to deal with this sort of thing. Its just not used to it does not expect this sort of thing to happen. And I think it was terribly taken aback and surprised and astonished when it happened.
earlier on I asked you if we are going to see business people leaving the
country in large numbers. What about just the general public - is there going to
be a mass exodus of people to neighbouring countries as a result of this new
Hawkins: Oh you know, I would need to carefully answer that one, I think you know we get all these numbers about how many people are already leaving and voting with their feet going to South Africa and Botswana and so on. We have no idea how accurate these numbers are etcetera and therefore you know it is very difficult to make any predictions along these lines I just don’t have enough information to be able to say that. There are a lot of people who do not have the choice, they can’t afford to move. They can’t get the foreign currency to go set themselves in another country and so on there are a lot of practical snags in the way of just packing your bags and moving.
Violet: And if the financial crisis continues in Zimbabwe, how would this affect neighbouring countries?Hawkins: Well the South Africans and to some degree the Botswana have found that the main drawback is being the inflow of illegal immigrants or refugees or whatever you want to call them. At the same time there is no doubt that some of the neighboring countries, particularly those two, have benefited from getting a lot of Zimbabwe skills particularly in the construction industry that are short-staffed and in the mining industry were their skills are short and they have been basically recruiting skills from Zimbabwe
Doctors, accountants, bankers, teachers and university lectures and whatever are all taking positions. In that sense there has been a positive impact on some of those countries. And I would also say that Zimbabwean Industry has lost markets, lost competitiveness and these markets have been taken over by others mostly by South African companies. So there has been if you like some benefit going to these countries, Zambia has taken over a fair bit of Victoria Falls tourist traffic.
that the reason, perhaps, that you have neighbouring countries like South Africa
that haven’t criticised what the regime is doing in Zimbabwe, especially with
these latest price reductions?
Hawkins: I wouldn’t say that. I think the South Africans have their own problems in the sense that there is, as you know full well, there is a lot of support across the continent for President Mugabe’s policy because there have been deemed pro-African, anti-European and to stand up against the donors, against the British, against the Americans and others and this strikes a cord and this resonates well in some quotas as you know.
finally Professor Hawkins with all that it has done, can the government reform
and re-brand itself?
Hawkins: I don’t think so but you know there are many people who do. The British foreign office as you know is a supporter of a re-branded Zanu PF under somebody like Simba Makoni. The South Africans would like to see a re-branded Zanu PF and I suspect there may well be others. But I don’t know there are too many Zimbabweans voters that would have too much faith in Zanu PF re-branded or un-branded or whatever.
Violet: Thank you very much Professor Tony Hawkins.
Audio interview can be heard on SW Radio Africa’s Hot Seat programme. Comments and feedback can be emailed to email@example.com
Kumbirai Mafunda Acting Political Editor
Mugabe on collision course with Mbeki
REGIONAL efforts to broker a settlement to end Zimbabwe's deepening economic
crisis are crumbling after the ruling ZANU PF boycotted a third meeting in
Pretoria, with President Robert Mugabe saying the key area pertaining to the
proposed dialogue (the need for a new constitution), was non-negotiable.
According to diplomatic sources, the latest twist to the Southern African
Development Community (SADC) initiative puts President Mugabe on a collision
course with President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, who, despite racing
against time to nudge ZANU PF and the main opposition to a negotiated
settlement ahead of next month's Lusaka summit, is also fighting a growing
influx of economic refugees from Zimbabwe.
Mbeki gave a brief update to SADC leaders at the recent summit of the
African Union in Accra, South African officials have said. He is expected to
make a more comprehensive report-back to a SADC Heads of State summit in
Lusaka next month.
The economic meltdown, fuelled in recent weeks by the ongoing blitzkrieg on
businesses accused of hiking prices of goods and services allegedly in order
to topple President Mugabe's government from power, has meant that
Pretoria - thrust at the centre of the SADC mediation effort - cannot
continue with its softly, softly approach to the Zimbabwean crisis,
diplomatic sources said.
"It is not going to be business as usual anymore," said one diplomatic
But with ZANU PF opting to stay away from the talks, the regional bloc,
which, this week dismissed reports of a plan to rescue Zimbabwe's
freefalling economy by pegging its troubled dollar to the South African
rand, would be forced to ratchet up pressure on a seemingly errant
The ruling party duo of Public Service Minister Nicholas Goche and Patrick
Chinamasa, the Justice Minister, failed to turn up for a crucial round of
talks, which were scheduled to get underway last weekend.
Sources say these now aborted meetings were to centre on constitutional
reform, which would be a crucial part of any agreement between the two
Opposition representatives Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube, the
secretaries-general of the two factions of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), returned home early this week after being stood up
by ZANU PF in Pretoria.
This is the third meeting that ZANU PF has not bothered to attend since
March 1, when SADC tasked the South African leader to mediate between ZANU
PF and the fractured opposition party.
Last month, the ruling party failed to attend the opening session of the
meetings after its team had asked for more time to finalise its position
ZANU PF sources say internal rivalries continue to hobble the party's
participation in the Mbeki
According to one source, some "former ZANU PF stalwarts" had questioned the
composition of the ZANU PF delegation, while the perceived allegiances of
Goche and Chinamasa to the factions vying for power in the ruling party had
also been brought up.
Chinamasa yesterday refused to comment on why he had failed to attend the
meeting in South Africa.
It has also been suggested that the Joint Operations Command (JOC) - a
grouping of senior government figures and military officers that is
increasingly making key policy decisions for the country - has shown
opposition to the talks.
Despite the chorus of denials over reports of a SADC rescue plan, ZANU PF
has also grown sceptical of Mbeki's mediation effort.
State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa, who doubles up as the JOC chairman,
referred all questions to Chinamasa and Goche.
Mutasa, a confidante of President Mugabe, has previously stated that ZANU PF
only grudgingly agreed to take part in the Mbeki effort.
The ruling party was only participating in the talks so as not to appear
rude to Zimbabwe's neighbours, he was quoted as saying.
As concern grows across the region over the accelerating deterioration of
the economic situation in Zimbabwe over the past two weeks, there is
evidence of increasing frustration within Mbeki's government over the lack
of progress in the talks.
South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma could not
conceal some of that frustration this week.
Asked why ZANU PF had snubbed the weekend meetings, she said: "There must be
a good reason why they did not turn up," stressing that her country
continued to be concerned about the crisis.
"We are concerned about the situation in Zimbabwe generally. The economy of
Zimbabwe has been deteriorating over time. It is, in part, for that very
reason that SADC has decided that there must be discussions and
reconciliation because it is very difficult to rebuild an economy in a
country where there is a very severe divide and polarisation."
South Africa has avoided commenting directly on Zimbabwe's latest crackdown
on businesses, accused by President Mugabe of engaging in moves designed to
remove him from power.
SADC wants Mbeki to get ZANU PF and the opposition to agree on electoral and
constitutional reforms, so as to ensure that elections scheduled for next
March are free and fair.
The non-attendance of the ZANU PF delegation at the SADC mediated talks came
after President Mugabe told loyalists in Harare last Friday that there was
no need for a new constitution.
Despite the fact that his government has made 18 constitutional amendments
since independence, President Mugabe maintained the existing constitution
was serving the nation well.
The President said: "They say we want a new constitution. New constitution
yekudii (for what)? What's wrong with the present one?"
The Zimbabwean leader sees any demands for sweeping constitutional and
political reforms as part of a plot by his adversaries to unseat him. But
the opposition says a free and fair election is not possible without a new
constitution agreed to by all stakeholders.
In an interview with the Financial Times in April, Mbeki said ensuring an
election whose results would be accepted by all parties was the main goal of
SADC, meanwhile, has dismissed media reports of a plan to peg Zimbabwe's
currency to the South African rand.
Leefa Penehupifo Martins, SADC head of communications, said Tomaz Augusto
Salomão, executive secretary of the regional body, had completed a study on
the economic crisis of Zimbabwe and was putting together proposals for
"A study has been conducted and a report will be prepared and presented to
the Summit Troika of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security for
consideration in due course," Martins said.
Kumbirai Mafunda Acting Political Editor
THE rival factions of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
have exchanged charges and counter-charges against each other for the
apparent failure of unity talks, amid indications that prospects for
concluding a "unity pact" before elections next year are more remote than
Arthur Mutambara's faction, in a statement this week, accused Morgan
Tsvangirai's group of throwing spanners in the works during efforts to
reunite the two factions. But Tsvangirai's faction has hit back, casting
doubt on the Mutambara faction's sincerity after it publicised details of
Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, deputy secretary-general of Mutambara's
faction, accused Tsvangirai of reneging on an agreement to sign a code of
conduct document, which had already been endorsed by Mutambara and the
secretary-general of his faction, Welshman Ncube.
Tendai Biti, Ncube's counterpart in Tsvangirai's party, had also approved
Misihairabwi-Mushonga was responding to comments made by Tsvangirai at a
rally held in Marondera recently, that he was against "elite pacts and
attempts to pick-up individuals as uniting the party".
She said Tsvangirai only signed the code of conduct after pressure had been
brought to bear on him but subsequently refused to attend a joint press
conference to launch the document.
Misihairabwi-Mushonga also alleged Tsvangirai had arbitrarily altered the
composition of his negotiating team to include several people known to be
But yesterday Biti challenged the Mutambara faction's claims, denying that
Tsvangirai had made any of the utterances attributed to him.
Biti, who leads the Tsvangirai faction's unity efforts, questioned the
sincerity of his counterparts. "I will not comment in public on ongoing
negotiations. But to disclose the contents of the negotiations and goings-on
is a tragedy and a reflection of that person's integrity. It (disclosure)
raises questions about the interest, motive and genuineness of certain of
some of my friends. The integrity of that person should be questioned;
whether he is working in the interest of Zimbabweans or ZANU PF."
Biti said the disclosures by the Mutambara faction could defeat the purpose
"Any ill-advised statements will destroy our goodwill. If premature
disclosures are made, then we have a problem with the people whom we are
dealing with," said Biti.
Critics charge that the MDC, which split in 2005 over bitter differences on
strategy, was as a result unable to present a strong challenge to ZANU PF as
it did when it first contested elections in 2000.
A then formidable MDC shocked President Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF by winning
57 seats against the ruling party's 61.
Two years later, Tsvangirai narrowly lost to President Mugabe in
controversial presidential elections marred by violence and condemned by
Meanwhile, a marginal opposition party, ZANU Ndonga, has thrown its weight
behind Tsvangirai's candidacy for the presidency next year.
ZANU Ndonga, which is famous for entrenching a one-party hegemony in
Chipinge until 2005, this week said it had resolved to back Tsvangirai in
presidential elections that will be held concurrently with parliamentary and
local government polls next year.
THE shortages of basic commodities became more acute this week, heightening
the desperation among consumers, as the clampdown on prices yesterday led to
the arrest of Willard Zireva, head of the country's largest retail chain.
As the clampdown on business entered its second week, there has been no end
in sight to the chronic shortages of food and gasoline reminiscent of supply
glitches, which sparked food riots in 1998.
Police and government inspectors continued cracking down on shopkeepers and
sales managers accused of defying orders to slash prices by half, raiding
wholesale chain Makro and other retail outlets yesterday in a desperate
attempt to halt rampant inflation, which raced past 4 500 percent in May.
Supermarket shelves and industrial refrigerators were bare of mealie-meal,
bread, meat and other staples.
Supplies were cleaned out by hordes of shoppers who descended on
supermarkets and other outlets coming in after police and inspectors
enforcing the price cuts to pre-June 18 levels, raising the spectre of
retrenchments and company closures.
Factories, stores and petrol stations have been unable to replace goods sold
at below the original cost.
Fuel stocks have also run out, putting an end to the long lines of cars at
petrol stations but creating long, winding queues of desperate commuters
seeking affordable transport to take them to and from their workplaces.
Private commuter omnibuses are resisting government's directive to cut fares
by three-fourths by abandoning their routes with most of them now spending
much of their time hunting for the elusive fuel.
Beef, a traditional favourite in the diet of Zimbabweans, has since
disappeared from shops and so have substitutes such as fish, kapenta, baked
beans and tinned beef. Yesterday, the government revoked licences of private
abattoirs, leaving the mammoth task of supplying beef to state-run Cold
Storage Company, which is teetering on the brink of collapse.
Police spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka said Zireva, the chief executive
officer of OK Zimbabwe Limited, a listed retail giant, would face "various
charges" in connection with the pricing issue.
Zireva is also the chairman of the Retail Association of Zimbabwe.
"We can confirm that he (Zireva) was arrested. He is currently detained at
Harare Central," Mandipaka said late yesterday.
It is understood, however, that Zireva was later released yesterday.
Government last Friday gazetted statutory instrument 142 of 2007, which
states that all prices must revert to those as at June 18. The statutory
instrument was meant to fend off criticism that the crackdown was illegal.
Also yesterday, Industry and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu, who
is leading the campaign, described as mere "hiccups" visible results of the
price war, empty shelves and long fuel queues. He claimed Zimbabweans were
"excited" about the situation.
"This is a major policy shift, which is having some hiccups at the moment.
But that will be addressed soon. We have received compliments from all over
the country and people are so excited. The situation is going to be much
better than this," Mpofu said.
But experts warned yesterday that government itself would suffer massive
losses in tax refunds to companies that have been forced to sell their goods
at below cost.
The crackdown has also increased tensions between labour, business and
government, after there were suggestions by employers that salaries could
also be slashed, or at least frozen.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary-general Wellington
Chibebe said yesterday that affiliate unions, notably the Zimbabwe
Construction and Allied Trade Workers Union, will hold meetings with
employer representatives to discuss salary cuts.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president Callisto Jokonya yesterday
said companies could be mulling a range of survival strategies.
"Companies are discussing viability issues and it is not surprising if that
(salary cuts) comes up," Jokonya said.
But Chibebe warned the labour union, which already planned to roll out a
series of protests against poor incomes, would resist any such attempts.
"The government is running around like a headless chicken to say the least.
The Labour Act does not give the Minister of Labour or any other government
agency any power whatsoever to slash salaries of employees who are covered
by the Act," Chibebe said.
"We demand that the authorities rethink on this heartless strategy, as it
will certainly throw the country into chaos and eventually, anarchy. The
ZCTU is prepared to resist any move to cut salaries of all workers by 50
percent and therefore, urges workers to be prepared for massive resistance,"
Mpofu, however, described as "nonsense" speculation over a wage freeze.
President Robert Mugabe says the onslaught on businesses was necessary, as
his British opponents had recruited local retailers and manufacturers in an
elaborate plot to oust his government.
He told a ZANU PF meeting at the weekend that the Zimbabwean economy was
"thoroughly pink", and that his party could not claim to be ruling the
country if the economy remained in what he sees as foreign control.
He said: "We can never secure or defend our people's welfare from outside
the ring of national economic activity. A people with no economy of its own
is not a sovereign people."
But now experts say government, whose economic policies have decimated the
country's tax base, will suffer a sudden drop in tax earnings at the next
corporate tax payment, due in September.
Many businesspeople said yesterday they were already preparing applications
for valued added tax (VAT) refunds after they were forced to retail at below
cost. Businesses will seek to set off their losses with VAT refunds, a top
tax expert told The Financial Gazette yesterday, declining to be named.
As donor aid and other foreign funding dries up because of opposition to
Zimbabwe's policies, government has come to rely solely on both corporate
and personal taxation - plus printing money - to fund its out-of-control
expenditure. This has made Zimbabwean taxes some of the highest in the
world. - Staff Reporters/AP
Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor
Companies buy groceries to keep workers in the offices
SOARING inflation and commodity shortages have set off a new form of barter
trade: companies are resorting to buying groceries for their increasingly
restive workers to keep them in the office or busy running the machines in
The trend quietly crept into the labour market at the beginning of this year
but burst into the limelight this week when world second largest platinum
producer, Impala Platinum (Implats), said it would start importing basic
foodstuffs and household goods for its workers in Zimbabwe.
Implats chief executive officer David Brown said the company had been able
to function within the US dollar environment in Zimbabwe, but a
deterioration of the economic environment had prompted a refocus of
Economists this week said as the battle for skills retention intensified,
companies were likely to jostle for the most efficient methods of boosting
employees' incomes by cushioning them from inflation and market shortages.
Basic commodities have vanished from supermarket shelves following a
government order forcing shops to cut prices by over 50 percent and a
directive freezing all price increases.
President Robert Mugabe and his Cabinet have accused businesses of
profiteering and working in cahoots with the country's enemies to create
social upheaval and trigger a revolt to topple his government.
Consequently, crack units consisting of security forces and a pricing
commission have been set up to raid shops and arrest those who violate the
The buying of groceries for workers, once seen as demeaning, is likely to
gain currency as a result of latest shortages, the economists said.
"Any company that wants to retain labour and human capital has to take care
of its workers," said Daniel Ndlela, an economic consultant.
A number of companies had resorted to remunerating their employees in US
dollars, hedging them against the local dollar, which has been losing value
almost on a daily basis.
But, even with US dollars, workers are now grappling with increasing
shortages of basic food commodities.
John Robertson, an independent economic consultant, said companies buying
their employees groceries wanted to ensure workers remained healthy and fit
to handle expensive equipment and avoid accidents.
He said workers grappling with shortages would spend entire working hours
trying to source food products from the market.
Hungry workers could sleep at work or handle machinery improperly, resulting
in work-related accidents.
"They'd rush out to look for bread and won't be in the office to attend to
clients or run the machine," said Robertson.
He said companies were being forced to source groceries for their workers to
keep them at work and remain efficient.
"It's enlightened self-interest," said Robertson.
Robertson said companies were increasingly worrying about the fact that they
could lose skills as a result of the current situation.
"If they have skills that can easily be sold elsewhere, they might decide to
leave the country," said Robertson.
Rangarirai MberiNews Editor
Govt's latest stroke of genius borrowed from ancient times
IT turns out that government's latest stroke of economic genius - Operation
Dzikisa Mitengo (Operation Slash Prices) - is not very original.
It appears we have cloned an idea first used back in AD 301, by some Roman
emperor called Diocletian.
Faced with hyperinflation, Diocletian ordered that merchants halve their
prices. He then set maximum prices for a range of basic goods. Death awaited
those that defied the decree.
According to Wikipedia, the know-it-all web encyclopedia, a succession of
Roman emperors, each eager to have their own mug stamped on coins, had
minted coins with abandon. This was worsened by what Wikipedia says were
"politically motivated confiscations of property".
And, eager to buy loyalty, Diocletian minted more coins. This stoked
hyperinflation and confidence in the currency plunged.
After a series of attempted reforms - including changing the currency - the
emperor finally stood on top of the highest available pedestal and
proclaimed what has come to be known as the "Edict on Maximum Prices".
This order, after cutting prices by half, slapped a price cap on over a
thousand goods - from sausages to lions. But instead of taming inflation as
hoped, the controls only managed to drive goods onto the black market and
Merchants - your Roman version of Spar and some such modern day sneaky
usurpers - were blamed for the inflation. And, get this, those that
criticised the move were accused of working, as they say in Zimbabwe today,
"in cahoots" with the Barbarians, tribes opposed to the emperor.
Threatened with death - they had a variety of interesting methods of
execution then, if you watch movies - the merchants were also forbidden to
trade elsewhere at higher prices.
However, the Edict did not end the crisis, as Diocletian's mass minting of
coins continued to drive inflation, and the maximum prices in the Edict were
set too low.
Merchants either stopped production, turned to the black market, or switched
There are only a few of the Roman parallels that the Zimbabwean government
should perhaps worry about; the shortages that have already begun to bite,
and the inevitable fact that Zimbabwe's more prosperous neighbours will be
shaking their heads as they watch the neighbourhood bum rummaging through
But it is Diocletian's fate, following his crackdown, that is intriguing.
After his price cuts failed, the emperor lost power, and was banished to the
margins of the empire, from where he grew cabbages for the remainder of his
life. An exciting prospect, then, for President Robert Mugabe's opponents.
Yet, it's a prospect the President himself is unlikely to lose sleep over.
There have been many versions on why the price cuts were ordered.
Officially, it is because businesses were marking up prices excessively,
with the twin aims of profiteering and stirring up trouble for the
On the other hand, others say, the price cuts are a "political gimmick" by
government to win elusive urban votes next year.
Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai belongs to this latter group, and he
told his supporters as such on Sunday.
"This is a cheap political gimmick for next year's election," he said. "What
we expect are policies that ensure more jobs, more food and a better life
Which is why the President will not worry about a miserable future on the
If Tsvangirai's faction is not the "boardroom party" that its spokesman says
it is not, then the party must concede it has, once again, been caught out
by a ZANU PF that has again shown a better ability than the opposition to
exploit the immediate needs of the poor for its own ends.
Tsvangirai is obviously correct that the price cuts are a "political
gimmick". But what he fails to accept is that political parties, by their
nature, are there for two things alone; to take power, and to stay in power.
And they do this through "political gimmicks" - including price cuts.
While ZANU PF has been conjuring up this latest "gimmick" from its
bottomless bag of scatty ideas, Tsvangirai has been spending his time
shaking a belligerent flywhisk at members of a rival faction.
Now, yet again, he finds himself hurriedly having to react to whatever ZANU
PF has set as the agenda.
And the former union leader finds he cannot condemn the price cuts
outright - which would sound really odd to a poor urban audience - but he
cannot support the move either.
ZIMBABWE is yet to take an official position on the grim findings of a food
assessment study undertaken by two major world agencies thus delaying the
availing of aid to millions of people estimated to be at risk of starvation.
The Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM), conducted by the Food
and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP),
forecast a large grain deficit for Zimbabwe this year.
In a report released last week, titled "Hunger's Global Hotspots", the WFP
said its next programme in Zimbabwe would be based on the findings of the
assessment team, but the government was yet to make a formal commitment on
"WFP is still awaiting an official position from the Government of Zimbabwe
on the Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission findings to formalise an
appeal and recent meetings report that government is still reviewing the
The government has declared 2007 a drought year, but remains uneasy about
allowing aid groups it accuses of supporting the opposition to have access
to vulnerable people.
The joint WFP and FAO assessment report indicated that the country would
record a harvest of between 600 000 and 800 000 metric tones of maize this
This falls far short of national requirements of about two million metric
tones per year.
WFP said it was coordinating between partners and donors to step up
humanitarian assistance based on the CFSAM findings.
"Bi-lateral planning meetings are underway with cooperating partners for
their respective areas of operation. Areas hardest hit by the drought will
be priority areas to start in August or September, resources permitting,"
reads part of the report.
Zimbabwe has suffered incessant food shortages for a number of years, which
the government has attributed to the drought.
However, critics have in the past pointed out that the food shortages were
worsened by agricultural disruptions linked to the chaotic land reforms.
SOUTH African companies affected by a clampdown on business in Zimbabwe have
not made complaints to Pretoria's mission in Harare.
Ronnie Mamoepa, the foreign affairs spokesperson, says if they are faced
with a critical situation, they need to get in touch with the embassy in
Harare and inform them of their plight.
Earlier this week, the Edgars clothing chain halved its prices in Zimbabwe
after one of its executives was arrested.
Other affected South African companies include Innscor Africa Ltd, which
owns Nando's, Chicken Inn, Spar and Colcom.
State radio reported that scores of top company executives have been
arrested since Friday.
They are expected to appear in court on charges of violating government's
order to cut prices and hoard goods.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
EIGHT supporters of State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa have been
convicted of culpable homicide arising from the 2005 death of war veteran
Tina Wilson Mukono.
High Court judge, Justice Charles Hungwe handed down the judgment last week.
ZANU PF Makoni North district chairman Albert Nyakuedzwa, and seven other
ruling party members including Tonderai Makoni, Delta Mandibaya and Maruva
Kurima, will be sentenced after their legal representative has presented a
plea in mitigation.
Advocate Prince Machaya, instructed by lawyer Aston Musunga, represented the
Musunga said on Tuesday: "They (Mutasa's supporters) were convicted of
culpable homicide, not murder. One other person who did not attend trial was
The person acquitted was the driver of a ZANU PF vehicle at the time the
offence was committed.
It was the state's case that the group assaulted Mukono after accusing him
of buying electric cables stolen from a farm belonging to one of them.
Papers submitted to court by George Mukono, the man who had in fact stolen
and sold the cables but had turned state witness, said: "The accused were
driving a white vehicle belonging to ZANU PF Makoni province when they found
the victim. The accused started assaulting Mukono all over the body using
hosepipes and a tyre strip."
The court heard that the accused persons later handed Mukono over to the
police, but that he died while being taken to hospital.
He was declared a provincial hero. A medical report established the cause of
Mukono's death as a ruptured spleen and multiple injuries.
Nyakuedzwa and the others were among another group convicted in 2006 of
assaulting war veteran James Kaunye to prevent him from challenging Mutasa
in the ruling party's primary elections in 2004.
After serving their jail term for political violence two months ago,
Nyakuedzwa and his colleagues remained in prison, to await the verdict in
the Mukono case.
The case sucked in Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who was charged with
allegedly pressuring Kaunye to withdraw the case against the group.
A magistrate acquitted the Justice Minister last year, and an appeal against
that judgment was recently withdrawn by the Attorney General's office.
However, five others, including Central Intelligence Organisation operatives
also accused of intimidating Kaunye, will stand trial in September.
Kumbirai Mafunda Acting Political Editor
THE government has sanctioned a church outreach programme to solicit
ordinary Zimbabweans' input into a proposed "National Vision" document,
which its backers say is meant to assure a prosperous future for the
Trevor Manhanga, one of a group of clergymen seeking to facilitate dialogue
between the ruling ZANU PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), told The Financial Gazette that the President's Office had cleared
the church leaders to conduct their outreach programme in the rural areas,
beginning in Mashonaland West province.
"We have just cleared this (outreach programme) with the President's Office,
so as to introduce our team to governors and local authorities in the area,"
Under the country's tough security laws, any public meeting of more than
five people requires prior notification or approval of the police.
The outreach programme, which will entail sending teams of facilitators
across the country to meet with the general populace to solicit their ideas
on "the Zimbabwe we want", had initially been scheduled to begin in May.
But budgetary constraints caused delays until the United Nations Development
Programme and other aid groups intervened.
Manhanga said the church leaders would meet traditional leaders.
The church leaders, under the Zimbabwe Catholics Bishops Conference,
Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Council of Churches,
last year presented a preliminary document entitled The Zimbabwe We Want,
Towards a National Vision for Zimbabwe to President Mugabe and opposition
Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief
THE Bulawayo City Council has issued summons against Alpha Construction
demanding $883.2 million to put up proper roads, water and sewerage
reticulation in section 12 of Cowdray Park, which the company failed to
Alpha Construction, which is owned by Bulawayo businessman, Jonathan Gapare,
was awarded a contract to service and build more than 500 houses but failed
to complete the project, forcing the council to cancel the contract.
The summons were issued on June 19 and were served two days later, giving
the company 10 working days to respond.
Promise Ncube of Coghlan and Welsh, who is representing the council, said he
had not received any correspondence from the company or its lawyers
indicating whether they intended to contest the case or not.
The Financial Gazette could not get comment from Job Sibanda, who has been
There has been a tug of war between the council and Alpha since October 2004
when the council ordered the company to vacate the site for failing to
complete the project, which should have been done by February 2003.
The council demanded $1.1 billion from the company in October 2005 so that
it could rectify the mess the company had made but the company claimed it
was still able to fulfil its contract.
It claimed that it had completed 313 houses that were now occupied. Two were
complete and unoccupied, 48 were roofed and were having final touches done
to them, 69 were at wall plate level, 12 at window level, 28 at slab level,
26 at foundation box level, eight at excavation level and 26 at ground
level, making a total of 532.
The council said only 261 houses were occupied. Two houses were complete but
did not have toilets, two were at slab level, 10 at window level, 52 at wall
plate level, 83 roofed, and 106 stands were vacant. It however, said it had
issued only 64 of the completed houses with occupation certificates.
"The developer had gone ahead to issue fake occupation certificates to the
beneficiaries purporting that these were issued in terms of the Model
Building Bye Laws," a council document said.
The company also claimed that it had completed 84.35 percent of the sewer
system and 70 percent of the water reticulation system, but council
engineers said water reticulation was 76 percent complete and sewers were 78
percent done. Roads were sub-standard and were only 10 percent complete.
In its summons, the council says it wants $228 million for resurveying,
$409.7 million for water reticulation and $245.5 million for roads.
It, however, clearly states that this was the value as at May 30 2007. Final
payment is likely to take inflation into account and will depend on when
judgment is granted and when Alpha will pay the bill.
The case will, however, provide little relief to residents who have been
waiting for council action for nearly three years because council argues
that they entered into a private contract with Alpha.
The council had already established that 117 houses encroached onto the next
stand and this could end up affecting 220 stands.
There were also several cases of double-allocation of stands with some
houses having two title deeds. Though the council asked residents to
register with its Luveve office in 2005 to establish who owned what and the
extent of double allocations, it has never released the results of that
A BULAWAYO councillor has called on Environment Minister Francis Nhema to
take advantage of his post as chairman of the United Nations Commission on
Sustainable Development to get donors to fund alternative forms of energy to
save the country's trees from decimation.
Alderman Matson Hlalo said Nhema should encourage donors to sponsor products
like paraffin or gel stoves so that they can be provided at subsidised
prices to be sold to poor families, who are being forced to cut trees for
firewood because of power cuts.
He said he had read council minutes of 1964, which showed that the council
was at the time providing residents with refrigerators at subsidised prices.
The same could be done with stoves today, he argued.
Nhema was elected chairman of the commission in May amid stiff resistance
from the European Union, which argued that the post could not be given to a
country that had destroyed its agricultural base following the controversial
fast-track land reform. Some reports also accused Nhema of running down a
farm that he had acquired.
Hlalo's comments followed heated debate in council over the sale of
firewood. Some councillors, including former deputy mayor Angilacala Ndlovu,
said the council should intensify its efforts to curb wood poaching and even
stop granting licences to people that sold firewood.
The councillors suggested that the selling of firewood should be centralised
so that the origins of the firewood could be established because some people
were now cutting exotic trees that lined the city streets.
Clr Phinias Ndlovu, however, argued that this was a national issue that
should be dealt with by the government. He said people were resorting to
firewood because of the shortage of electricity. The firewood had become too
expensive for some people. To make matters worse government workers
confiscated firewood from those trying to bring it from outside the city.
"Instead of agreeing here to continue harassing the poor, we should get the
government to improve the situation. Some of the people we are talking about
are old women who cannot even afford to buy firewood," he said.
THE recent signing of the protocols under the auspices of the Tripartite
Negotiating Forum (TNF) by the social partners represented a landmark event
in the history of social dialogue in Zimbabwe.
Most people however, mistakenly thought and hoped that the mere signing was
going to immediately transform the fortunes of our sickly economy.
Events of the past few weeks have, however, brought to the fore a number of
inherent weaknesses in the social dialogue framework in Zimbabwe. The recent
unilateral freeze in the price of goods and services by the government and
the subsequent price war declared on the business community (a vital social
partner) represents a major violation of the core principles underlying the
In countries that have successfully implemented a social contract that
success was underpinned largely by high levels of mutual trust, cooperation,
transparency, confidence and openness among the social partners. The need
for mutual trust, unity of effort and purpose and the meeting of minds
(consensus ad idem) cannot be overemphasised. The inspired Word of GOD
reminds us that a house divided against itself will not stand.
While the Incomes and Pricing Stabilisation Protocol recommends the
management of prices taking into account the twin issues of consumer
affordability and business viability, government, in implementing the price
freeze without any consultation of its partners has acted in bad faith,
dealing a severe blow to the success of social dialogue in Zimbabwe. This
move by government also highlights the dearth of consistency and credibility
in government policies. Without consistent and credible policies no one will
take us seriously as a nation. Government has declared a price war with
industry, accusing it of being an agent of the 'illegal regime change'.
How the declared price war and clamp-down on business is going to bring in
more foreign currency inflows into the country and attract the much-needed
foreign direct investment (FDI) and the requisite balance of payment (BOP)
support only the government knows.
The truth is that without dealing decisively with the causes of the crisis,
no amount of clampdown will resolve the crisis. It is apparent that this was
a populist and ad hoc stratagem by a government that is increasingly
becoming desperate and behaving like a drowning man who clutches at a straw.
This is also in spite of the mounting evidence proving the inefficacy of
Global experiences of countries that have gone to the extremes and
implemented price controls show that they have never achieved their desired
objectives. Implementing price controls is a self-defeating exercise as it
is always accompanied by widespread shortages, declines in the quality of
goods on the market, collapse/closure of companies and subsequent
retrenchments, the emergence of a thriving black (underground) market.
Furthermore price controls require large government bureaucracies for their
Government has established a taskforce on price monitoring and stabilisation
comprising a number of cabinet ministers to monitor and clamp down on
businesses defying the price freeze. This taskforce is however, running
parallel with the National Incomes and Pricing Commission, creating
unnecessary confusion and conflicts. There is also an open disconnect
between the National Incomes and Pricing Commission and the TNF as the
former is not part of the latter which should have been the case. This would
ensure harmony and synergy in terms prices and incomes policy.
Government has threatened to take over companies defying the price freeze
through the resuscitation of the defunct Zimbabwe State Trading Corporation.
This threat is a major bane for investor confidence in a country that is
battling to attract foreign and domestic investment. Moreover, the
government does not have the financial resources to finance these envisaged
takeovers except through money printing inflationary sources funded through
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). Such a move again is suicidal. Surely
government has not learnt a thing from the chaotic and haphazard land reform
It is becoming clear that the government has never been serious in dealing
decisively with the crisis apart from these ad hoc and piecemeal measures
that it has been implementing half heartedly over the past decade.
Even the social contract, if it is implemented, will not achieve anything.
While indeed the protocols may be good and laudable on paper without an
effective institutional mechanism for their implementation, monitoring and
evaluation we will remain in these dire straits. An analysis of past
governmental policies will reveal that government has always exhibited
lethargy and inertia when it comes to implementation of agreed and well
meaning policies, thereby militating against the success of those policies.
Without discipline among the social partners, especially on the part of
government to fully implement the protocols then we will remain in a hole.
When you are in a hole you should stop digging, but it would appear that the
government is continuing to dig. Government does not want to learn from this
fact and from its past mistakes.
While the government has been blaming, threatening and cracking down on
business, there has been no corresponding action on the ground by the
government to create an enabling environment for the businesses to operate
in and thrive. Government seems to be oblivious of the fact that the major
driver of hyperinflation in Zimbabwe has not been profiteering and
overcharging by business but rather excessive government expenditure and a
budget deficit that is being financed largely through seigniorage.
Government is simply playing the blame game by refusing culpability and
responsibility for the crisis.
It is not a secret that a number of businesses are struggling to remain
afloat at the moment, with most operating well below 40 percent of capacity.
Hence, government should be supporting and cooperating with businesses,
which are suffering owing to government's own acts of commission and
omission. Government is simply trying to buy time and deflect attention from
Without a firm commitment by all the social partners (especially the
government as the major driver of the value chain) to be bound by the ideals
and principles of a social contract then any hopes for a basis for
sustainable turnaround will remain a pipe dream.
Furthermore, the government on its part should deal decisively with the
political risk factor as identified by the Kadoma Declaration so as to
instil confidence and credibility in the economy.
Without dealing decisively with the political dimensions of the crisis our
efforts will be reduced to groping in the dark. While the signing is a major
milestone, it does not automatically translate into an overnight turnaround
without the discipline and commitment to implement it.
Prosper TM Chitambara is an economist with the Labour and Economic
Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe (LEDRIZ). The Zimbabwe Economics
Society articles are coordinated by Lovemore Kadenge and he can be contacted
on email firstname.lastname@example.org. Cell 0912 980 016
Kumbirai Mafunda Acting Political Editor
THE National Social Security Authority (NSSA) has grossed a total of $1.5
billion from a blitz targeted at defaulting new farmers and businesses, The
Financial Gazette has learnt.
NSSA officials disclosed this week that the national pension fund had issued
penalties amounting to a total of $3.5 billion to defaulting new commercial
farmers and entrepreneurs who were not remitting employees' contributions to
the pay-as-you-go scheme and to the Workers' Compensation and Insurance Fund
(WCIF), which employers collect to cover work related injuries.
Compliance officers who were deployed in Harare last month to swoop on
companies under an operation called "national compliance blitz" collected
$1.5 billion from a confirmed $2.7 billion, after making visits to 3 614
companies in Harare alone.
The blitz, the officials, said also made 577 new registrations.
In the prime commercial farming area of Chinhoyi, compliance officers
deployed to resettled commercial farms collected $111 million out of a
confirmed $855 million from 1 113 defaulting commercial farmers, as some of
the farm owners were not present at the time of the visits.
"They were not paying contributions," said Stanley Kuodza, NSSA assistant
general manager-regional operations and compliance.
Kuodza said NSSA would channel the recovered funds into investments.
"We will invest that money to generate more returns and build more houses,"
NSSA, officials say, will soon target three more provinces, including Harare
and Mashonaland East, in the crackdown to compel farmers to remit employees'
The incidence of non-compliance are high in the commercial farming sector,
where resettled farmers who grabbed farms at the height of the land reform
exercise are accused of taking advantage of the chaos that accompanied the
reforms to avoid paying taxes and levies to local authorities.
LAWRENCE PHIRI, the prosecutor in the trial of seven suspects accused of
plotting to overthrow the government, has stepped down from the case and
quit the Attorney General's office.
Legal sources said yesterday that Phiri left the prosecution team last week,
but the reasons for his departure were not immediately clear.
"Phiri has left, and the Attorney General's Office is battling to find a
suitable person to take over the sensitive case in light of the fact that
most experienced law officers have already left," a source said.
Speculation is rife that Phiri has joined colleagues who have left the
Attorney Gneral's Office to become magistrates.
The Attorney-General's Office has been hit by a staff exodus attributed to
harassment, poor working conditions, and low salaries. -
Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers' Union (ZIBAWU) and the Bank Employers'
Association of Zimbabwe (BEAZ) have once again reached a deadlock over the
July cost of living adjustments, triggering fears of industrial action in
the banking sector.
The bank employees are still bitter over non-compliance by their employers
with an arbitration-determined adjustment to their salaries over two months
The police turned down plans for street protests by the bank employees,
fearing this could be hijacked by unruly elements and set off mayhem on the
But the latest impasse is likely to further agitate the bank workers.
Sources told The Financial Gazette that the two parties met to agree on the
adjustments but reached a deadlock on Tuesday.
ZIBAWU president Blessing Majuru confirmed the deadlock when contacted for
comment this week.
"We have reached a deadlock because employees want a minimum salary that
reflects the real cost of the family basket in the supermarkets," Mujuru
However, BEAZ was only offering $2 million, he said, resulting in the case
being referred once again for arbitration.
Both parties were expected to meet the Public Service Minister this week.
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
GONE are the days when long distance travellers could choose between road
and rail transport. Then, the train was popular for its affordability and
But now, the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), the country's only
passenger rail transport company, is a shadow of its former self. Not only
has rail services become unreliable, travelling by train is now
uncomfortable and a big risk.
A series of management changes at the NRZ, which were supposed to transform
the company, have only served to hasten the parastatal's descent into
With the rather bold slogan, "NRZ -keeping you on track," the rail
transporter has nevertheless been operating contrary to what it proclaims in
its payoff line.
A visit to the main railway station in Harare last week gave some insight
into the real extent of the collapse.
Passengers travelling on the sleeper class, once considered the elite coach,
have to wait for boarding time with rumbling stomachs. Previously,
travellers on the coach were pampered and could have something to eat before
Inside the first class waiting room, passengers are forced to endure an
oppressive stench from a toilet directly opposite and have to spend long,
idle hours waiting for a train that might never come.
Not too far away, a stray cat darts out of one of the waiting rooms, chasing
Weeds have overgrown the rail tracks. The blue wagons, once the pride of the
NRZ when they were first introduced a decade ago, are run down and grind
along with little maintenance.
On the train are broken seats, out-of-order signs on toilets and broken
beds, a situation that renders the comfortable and leisurely travel once
afforded by rail a distant dream.
The decay is visible and undeniable but one is left with the nagging feeling
that the rot goes much deeper.
The state of the railway service mirrors the economic decline in Zimbabwe,
once the busy hub of trans-sub-Saharan trade.
As is the case in the rest of the country itself, corruption, mismanagement
and neglect have contributed to the rapid deterioration of what used to be
one of Africa's most efficient rail systems.
What is left of the NRZ is collapsing infrastructure and a depleted fleet.
One effect of the decline has been to slow down trade transactions. But the
more chilling impact is the rise in deaths on the nation's railways.
Last year the parastatal embarked on a drive to raise funding to renovate
its collapsing infrastructure, but the begging bowl is still far from full,
leaving the NRZ unable to secure key signalling equipment, the absence of
which experts say has contributed to an increase in the number of accidents,
including one in which 13 people were killed in Dzivarasekwa high density
suburb in Harare at the beginning of the year.
In August last year, an accident near Victoria Falls killed five people.
Witnesses said some were burnt to ashes in the inferno. The crash was blamed
on signal failure.
The biggest rail accident in the history of the country occurred along the
Bulawayo-Victoria Falls route in 2003. Fifty lives were lost.
NRZ chief executive officer, Rtd Air Commodore Mike Karakadzai, said last
year that the national rail transporter's Centralised Train Control (CTC)
system needed urgent attention to minimise loss of life.
The CTC system traces the movement of trains throughout the country,
allowing crucial communication between the train driver and the controller.
The NRZ boss said at the time that the CTC system had been compromised
because of vandalism, theft and years of negligible maintenance.
"A programme is currently underway and it involves the replacement of the
vandalised and stolen equipment along various sections of the railway
networks," said Karakadzai.
The parastatal is still using an outdated signalling system, "Paper Order",
in place of the more modern CTC. Paper Order is an antiquated system that
allows a train driver to proceed without signals, as the paper shows him his
path. But an error can prove fatal.
NRZ blames its woes on foreign currency shortages.
The company says it is adopting new measures to curb accidents by organising
annual refresher courses for drivers and other staff. This additional
training would determine their future with the parastatal.
But the NRZ knows it cannot afford to sack personnel even if they are found
wanting. The parastatal is losing hordes of its most experienced staff to
South Africa, which is recruiting skilled manpower for its Gautrain
transport project for the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
Under the government's Public Private Partnerships initiative, introduced in
2005 to encourage partnerships with private business, the NRZ was identifies
as one of the 58 projects to be executed under the initiative. But there
have been no takers.
Personal Glimpses with Mavis Makuni
AS the tumult and confusion accompanying the government's price control
blitz deepened this week, a frustrated and hungry cynic remarked that he
would not be surprised if the next state move was to decree what and how
much people should eat for breakfast, lunch and supper.
This Zimbabwean expressed his frustration after an exhausting weekend of
hunting for basic commodities during which he could not access bread, milk,
sugar and eggs, the ingredients that normally give him an affordable
breakfast. In the end he had to settle for a "breakfast" of sadza and green
vegetables late in the afternoon. Not that there is anything wrong with
sadza and relish but there is a time for it and people should be free to
choose what to eat and when. The prevailing chaotic situation means that
Zimbabweans can no longer even do the most mundane and routine things, such
as planning their daily meals, without feeling the suffocating grip of
government control of their lives.
There must be relatively few Zimbabweans - and these can only be the
privileged beneficiaries of the ruling party's patronage system - who do not
want the government off their backs. Its increasing encroachment on
individual freedom through the command structures it has put in place to
regulate virtually every aspect of life in the country is achieving the
exact opposite of the impact it hopes for, that is winning the hearts and
minds of the battle-weary populace.
Most deplorably, it is curbing the very fundamental freedoms and liberties
that independence and sovereignty are supposed to bestow on the generality
of the people. As things stand now, only the most gullible can fail to
discern that while the government disguises its fight for political survival
as concern for the welfare of the people, its actions degrade those same
people and exacerbate their plight each time it embarks on these
When the government embarked chaotically and violently on the land
re-distribution programme in 2000, the ordinary person was told that this
was for his benefit in the sense that he would be rescued from the dusty
bowls of the rural areas to be resettled on rich and fertile land that the
white man had unjustly kept for himself. Seven years down the line, the
picture that has emerged is that the land was seized for the benefit of the
ruling elite, some of whom are still holding on to multiple farms even as I
write. Instead of benefiting the nation as a whole, land reform has enriched
the ruling elite beyond their wildest dreams but taken a heavy toll on the
rest of the people.
The runaway inflation and severe shortages that have resulted in the high
prices that the government is now desperately trying to tame through the
heavy-handed populist but economically disastrous measures it has resorted
to can all be traced to the destruction of the agricultural sector. The
slogan, "our land is our economy", that was rammed down the nation's throat
ad nauseam at the height of the land seizures, has come back to haunt the
people in a cruel way in the form of food insecurity, unaffordable prices,
increased poverty and record unemployment. The least one would have expected
would be that the government had learnt a thing or two about its rash
approach of implementing poorly thought out policies for the sole purpose of
scoring political points and showing bravado. These political adventures
have always left the people traumatised and worse off than before.
The government has proved itself to be a slow or unwilling learner. In 2005,
with the people still struggling to overcome the negative impact of the
ruination of the agricultural sector, the government plunged headlong into
another policy disaster. This was the violent destruction of abodes and
informal trade structures under Operation Murambatsvina which caused untold
human misery by rendering millions homeless and depriving even more of
livelihoods. The same government that did not care a hoot what happened to
these people it left at the mercy of the elements in the middle of winter
expects to be believed when it invokes the welfare of the people to justify
its latest game for political survival.
In response to universal condemnation of the Murambatsvina demolition spree,
the government gave a mile-long list of reasons why it had been necessary to
act as violently and vindictively as it did. It was claimed that the
high-handed action had been necessary because the government needed to
provide decent accommodation for its people, it needed to get rid of
criminal elements such as foreign currency dealers and hoarders and
smugglers of commodities. Considering the tumult this impulsive action
caused and the rhetoric unleashed to justify it, it should have been the
panacea for all the problems that the government is claiming to be still
tackling through the ongoing clampdown on the business sector.
In its July 8-14 issue, the ZANU-PF mouthpiece, The Voice, says the
government embarked on the blitz on prices "to protect people from
escalating costs of living engineered by the MDC and its British partners to
cause chaos". The ruling party weekly claimed that the MDC went into an
alliance with some industrialists "to unilaterally increase prices with the
hope of stirring an uprising against the people's government." Rather than
convince any discerning Zimbabwean of the government's concern for his or
her welfare, all that these convoluted claims do is betray the government's
paranoid fear of the opposition. Why, for example, should a "people's
government" which is secure in the knowledge that it enjoys universal
support, be apprehensive about an uprising against it?
So much has been blamed on the MDC that the nation has been given the
impression that the opposition party is more powerful and influential than
the government of the day. The MDC is supposed to be so powerful that it can
order the international community to do as it says, hence the accusation
that it caused targeted sanctions to be imposed on government officials. It
is through this same pattern of twisted reasoning that demands have been
made for the MDC to call for the lifting of sanctions and to accept the
outcome of the 2002 presidential elections. The opposition is also portrayed
as having so much control over events in Zimbabwe that it can effortlessly
put the business sector under its spell to destabilise the economy and the
If we were living in a normal democratic atmosphere where people could vote
freely, the government would be in danger of talking itself out of office by
convincing the electorate that the MDC is the party that commands respect,
influence and attention where it matters - with the people, the business
sector and the international community. The government's ongoing clampdown
on prices adds insult to injury because while it proclaims from the mountain
tops that it is undertaking the operation on behalf of the people, there are
dead giveaways that this is a game of political survival.
The main one is that the government is not prepared to address the economic
and governance fundamentals that would bring about lasting solutions. As it
has done on a number of occasions in the past, it continues to shout "wolf"
and furiously mops the flooded floor while leaving the leak in the roof to
get bigger. The people are only pawns in these endless games of political
National Agenda with Bornwell Chakaodza
A FUNDAMENTAL lack of professional and personal courage!
This is what it is with those men and women in the ruling ZANU PF party who
disagree with the current government crackdown on retailers, manufacturers
and other businesses but dismally fail to speak their minds publicly about
the mayhem. Their behaviour is truly inexcusable!
Obviously, not all Cabinet ministers and senior ZANU PF members are singing
from the same hymn sheet concerning the mayhem that we are seeing at the
moment. The bottom line question then becomes: Why not speak out if you are
profoundly troubled by some of the things that are happening to commerce and
industry in this country? Are ministers really running their ministries or
the real running is being done from elsewhere?
There is of course the danger of being rubbished and dismissed from Cabinet
and the party but what is better and more redeeming: marching like a boy
scout or holding a higher moral ground by giving a different perspective to
things, thereby helping to control this insanity in the market that we are
When good men do and say nothing, then evil prevails. And I do know that
there are men and women of goodwill in ZANU PF who are aware of the serious
ramifications of the present policies but are too damn scared to come out.
The ruling party is a party that has attracted people of goodwill and the
usual delusional - the latter in the majority. Not much can be done about
the delusional majority. My message is aimed at the few who understand the
knock-on effects of the decision to attack for short-term gains an industry,
which is already in crisis.
If a political party, more so the one which is holding the reins of power,
does not and cannot acknowledge what is wrong with the policies it is
pursuing, then it becomes difficult for that party to reform and to change.
It is important for any party or organisation to be self-critical.
In any event, it is in the nature of any organisation that purports to be
democratic to have disagreements and differences of opinion.
In any institution or organisation, you derive comfort in people you agree
with and growth in people you disagree with. Disagreements and different
views are a challenge to find sustainable solutions to problems. In other
words, it is important to see a different opinion as an opportunity, not a
hindrance to progress.
It is in the above context, I believe, that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) governor Gideon Gono warned against populist measures that would muddy
the already troubled waters and in the process squandering everything for
short term gain. The RBZ governor, in his statement published in the
Zimbabwe Independent of last Friday was essentially looking at the bigger
picture rather than a narrow one.
Said Gono "It is our strongest conviction that only through a holistic
framework can we stabilise prices, without inducing shortages in the
market." I find it inconceivable that anyone would want to disagree with
this simple and common sense approach to our acute crisis.
Change needs to come from multiple fronts. Is it not time therefore for the
thinking individuals and decision-makers in Cabinet and the ruling party to
take off their gloves and say that things are simply not working? We have
been stuck in a paralysed desperation for a long time now and the
decision-makers need to ask themselves the question: Could we not have done
things differently or better? Why allow people without sober and cool heads
to hijack things all the time?
We study history in order to avoid the mistakes of the past. There has been
a litany of mistakes that have been committed by the ruling party but no
lessons have been learnt from them.
Operation Murambatsvina immediately comes to mind but there are many others.
The ruling ZANU PF does not seem to have learnt anything from the
uncontrolled chaos that resulted from the fast-track land reform programme,
the invasion of firms and companies a few years ago, and now another form of
Murambatsvina in terms of the irrational methods used: the clampdown on
commerce and industry.
Life under the rule of the current government in recent years has become a
living nightmare. Now the constitutional gerrymandering that is going on in
the form of the 18th constitutional amendment is meant to prolong ZANU PF's
hold on power, come rain or sunshine.
Given the looming shortages of food and other commodities and the virtual
collapse of the health delivery system, how many more Zimbabweans will go to
their early graves until the ruling party and MDC and others parties
negotiate a political settlement?
Forget about the forthcoming 2008 election. By hook or crook ZANU PF will be
back. Politics is power and not many people give up power easily,
particularly a party that thinks its prosecution of the armed struggle gives
it the right to rule forever. The MDC and anyone for that matter must stop
deluding themselves that they can win an election under the present
political and electoral environment.
"We will show them in March 2008" seems to be the general feeling among
Zimbabweans. Consummate courage or just plain foolishness? No doubt the
latter. Under the present circumstances, MDC is powerless and impotent to do
much about Zimbabwe's deepening political and economic crisis.
That is why I am putting a lot of premium on the small quiet reformists
within ZANU PF and the Cabinet to reflect the voice of reason and to show
the way forward in terms of trying to change the system and policies subtly
from within. They must not allow the old minds to rule the roost. The
struggle that is going on beneath the surface of ZANU PF, although
confusing, may in the end make a difference. Failing that, then we can
always fall back on God's intervention and time. Nobody can fight time. At
some point, everything comes to an end. Everyone including prime ministers
and presidents has, at some stage, to narrow their horizons and bow to the
passage of time.
Until that time comes, which does come for all of us, Zimbabwe remains a
riddle - a riddle hinging on the life or death of a single man whose past
great achievements cannot be denied but who now runs his government like a
THE standoff between the government and business has been interesting but
depressing to follow. Interesting and depressing because it has brought
forth numerous analyses revolving around the "final demise" of the country's
economy and as a result thereof, the fall of the much troubled ZANU PF
government or alternatively, from state-approved analysts, debate around how
business has been raking in super profits without taking into account the
suffering of the people of Zimbabwe.
Obviously there is a populist dimension to the latter argument as
simultaneously the former purveys an orthodox economic principles argument
within the debate around how the state is following the dictates of a
fictional book called "how not to run an economy"! And within this conundrum
of the now ever apparent empty supermarket shelves, scarce petrol (no matter
what they say it is actually costing per litre) and the public scramble for
much less immediate items such as clothes, cars and building materials by
the urban few, the parallel market finds itself in the unenviable position
of becoming the fundamental but flawed economic guarantor of survival in the
Such events and debates in their occurrence need to be carefully analysed if
we are to get any bearing on the future of the country's economy and its
impact on the already dire political situation revolving around issues of
contested ruling party legitimacy as a government and the "final kicks of a
dying horse" arguments that predict an imminent collapse of not only the
economy but the country itself. And these are realities that need to be
argued about because of the dangers of continuing to link economic decline
with political decline as has been the case since the food riots of 1998 and
labour-backed mass actions of 1999/2000.
The first reality of the Zimbabwean economy relates directly to how its
citizens have over the last six years, amidst high unemployment, a
continually damaging land reform exercise, Joseph Chinotimba-led invasions
of industries, and the spiralling costs of the greenback versus the local
currency, learnt to survive against all odds outside of the state with the
seemingly legitimate assistance of a long existing informal economy, thanks
to structural adjustment programmes in the 1990s. As well as the fact that
this same said survival has been couched and referenced in terms of the
language of the "end is nigh" noises that have been reliant upon waiting
upon the mistakes of the ZANU PF government in order for society to rise out
of its slumber.
The second political reality is the difficulty of explaining the seeming
lack of a national voice of protest aimed at the shortage of goods in
supermarkets combined with issues about whom to blame for such a predicament
in the first place. In the public eye, one cannot easily blame government
because the evident languages of protest had hitherto been about the rising
cost of living and also the added factor of the complicity of the public
that has been rushing to and fro to purchase whatever, wherever it has been
declared reduced by members of one ZANU OF taskforce or the other.
Neither can one blame business for easy capitulation or be vindictive
against them because of the language that has been used by oppositional
groupings that has never really placed business, together with ZANU PF, as
being part of the problem because of its willingness not only to toe the
line but to separate itself from the rest of civil society, save for when
their executives are arrested.
So, as it stands, the current policy directive by government as regards
pricing of commodities has served to induce an ambiguous response from the
Zimbabwean public, one that has varied strands to it. Chief among these are
the general comments about how it is clearly unsustainable on the part of
government to carry on in such a direction, another strand that argues that
while the policy is in place, there are opportunities to capitalise as much
as is possible, and yet another that argues that business has always had it
so good and so it deserves a little bit of being boxed about, while in all
of this, there is no coherent articulation of national protest at the events
of the last week.
If they have been there, then they have either not been consistent enough or
are too focused on declarations of either "the end is nigh for the regime"
or that it is an "unsustainable" state of affairs, fully forgetting that
these sort of absolute descriptions not only disempower citizens to struggle
but that they have also been part of the protest language for so long, they
have stopped having an impact.
And of course one cannot leave out the political humour that this creates
within the populace, a humour that finds laughter at the government for its
rash policies as well as business people for getting caught up within the
brutality of the state police (like the rest of us) and even at ourselves
wherein we all get into some sort of difficult situations outside some
supermarket or the other, that can be discussed and scoffed at after church
services or during public transport conversations.
All of these understandings of the government induced economic crisis are
within the framework of opportunities that abound in the informal economy,
its possibility to serve as an option as the supermarkets are emptied and
agents involved in the crackdown on industry release their new found
To Page 17
From Page 14
supplies onto the streets of the urban poor at an immeasurable profit.
As dire as the circumstances are, there is still time to circumvent the
worst possible scenario in determining the country's future, which is that
of a collapsed state that never espoused any clear solutions within the
midst of a crisis and therefore was bound to feature on academic discussion
agendas as part of typical resistance politics in contemporary Africa.
First on the way forward list, the government must disabuse itself of the
notion that it can nationalise industries in a petty attempt at reverting to
'gutsaruzhinji'. Even if within cabinet meetings, Obert Mpofu as responsible
minister gets pats on the back for his unbelievable activities all over the
country, he should be aware that his colleagues have vested interests in
most of the businesses that he is purging and also that, in the nature of
ZANU PF culture these political pats
on the back could easily become slaps. The government is no longer neutral,
or a father figure in these economic shenanigans. Instead it is also as
guilty a player as any another, not least because of its rumoured
participation in the parallel market or its controversial land reform
It would be better if government got off its high and desperate horse to
talk to business together with labour/civil society and iron things out
because not only are shortages of commodities a big issue here, but also in
order make true realities of what a publicly legitimate social contract
Business must come to terms with the fact that it no longer can operate
solely on the basis of profit. It has to attempt to take such populist
initiatives from the government and expand its understanding of market
competition by providing cheaper products with the spending capital of the
public in mind. While it is an easy target for the state, it needs to begin
to position itself strategically as "people's business" outlining employment
levels, people conscious pricing schemes and avoiding continually alienating
the labour unions in such a politicised economy.
Most important perhaps is the role that labour, civil society and the
opposition must play. There must be an immediately concerted effort to
re-frame the economic circumstances not only as part of a blame game
targeting the ruling party and government but the exposure of the problem as
both an urgent social welfare crisis that needs to be redressed not just
through politics but through the principle of community reliance and
assistance to the most exposed. Anticipating riots and a collapse of the
economy linked to political change as a consequence of ZANU PF policies is
impolitic and inadequate. Civil society must find ways to redress some of
the social ills that are apparent and actively provide a humane face that
represents hope, possibility and the promise of a better tomorrow.
lZhangazha is senior programmes officer at MISA Zimbabwe
THE fact that Dr Simba Makoni was publicly called a sellout puts the matter
in the public domain.
But our readers will say, "Ken, wait a moment, who makes this infamous
charge about a beloved son of the soil, a prince of the Makoni paramountcy?"
The accusation has been traced to my good friend the Minister of
The basis of this infamous charge is that while in Cape Town, Dr Makoni made
a statement to the effect that there was a feeling in ZANU PF that things
cannot continue as they are now, and that ZANU must reform itself, be reborn
from within if it is to win the future. That is a measured standard academic
presentation. But in my zeal, I jump the gun. The offending sentence or
words were to the effect that Mukuru's departure was "imminent."
On hearing the idea of imminence, my brother, Professor Sikhanyiso Ndlovu,
went ballistic. Ndlovu was wrong on all accounts. Imminence in the
Zimbabwean context can take as long as six weeks to several years. Makoni
was absolutely within the ZANU PF doctrine. It is ZANU PF which first
proposed the idea of reformatio continua (borrowed from Samora Machel of
At 84 years of age, Mukuru's departure is definitely imminent, whether by
the law of gravity or by the desire of the party to recreate a new stellar
leadership. A man is given three score years, but by good fortune or the
strength of his body, he can add another 10 years. We are all subject to
natural law. Even Mukuru is not above natural law. Score number one goes to
Makoni has been called worse names before. On August 25, 2002, Mukuru
himself addressed the Zimbabwe parliament and said these words. Anyone who
called for devaluation of the currency was "an enemy of the state and a
saboteur." Previously, on May 7, Makoni had addressed the same body in the
heat of the land reform programme.
Inflation was rampant at 112 percent, and the economy, because of the farm
invasions, had declined by 12.2 percent. Makoni saw the dangers of an
unbridled land invasion programme. He said these words. "The government
should assure peace and security for all citizens through an end to
violence, and enable the economy and business to function normally for the
well being of the nation." He added, the government should "enable farmers
to farm without disruption." There are two issues here. The government is
responsible for peace and security. Secondly, Dr Gideon Gono has said
similar words about the necessity of farmers being allowed to farm in a
secure environment. So what else is new under the sun?
Makoni's monetary policies, which consisted of a mixture of interest rate
manipulation and dollar devaluation, came at a time when the mineral
revolution in Zambia was in its infancy. Makoni's policies could have
stabilised the mining industry in readiness for a take-off. That take-off
has now benefited Zambia and its kwacha has since revaluated by 50 percent.
Historically, Makoni was correct on all the major economic diagnostics, and
Mukuru called him a saboteur. Round two goes to Prince Makoni.
The real charge is that Makoni is indoda sibili (a real man) and perhaps he
is a prophet before his time. That charge we will concede. In last week's
Internet issue of Zimdaily, Mukuru complains that there are no men left in
his Cabinet any more after the departure of Dr Eddison Zvobgo. He is not
getting honest feedback from the ZANU PF stalwarts. I disagree. The Zimbabwe
Cabinet has had luminaries of the likes of Dr Bernard Chidzero, Prince
Makoni and Dr Herbert Murerwa.
Dr Chidzero's advice was ignored. Prince Makoni was called a saboteur and
now a sell out! Dr Murerwa, though unassuming, is a man of deep learning, a
thoroughly good man in his heart, and has correct instincts. In the battle
against inflation, he went straight to Economics 101. The fundamentals of
inflation are that too much money chases too many goods. Unless you increase
production, you cannot beat inflation by gimmicks. He was humiliated and
when he asked to be let go, he was refused an honourable exit.
And Dr. Zvobgo himself died a very sad man. He was marooned to inactivity.
Makoni therefore joins that rare cabal of gifted and stellar men of
character who were maligned unfairly by political operatives paid to get
angry on behalf of Mukuru. Round three for integrity goes to Prince Makoni.
Remember me, my brother, when you come into your kingdom. It can't be long
The last round we will concede to Makoni's detractors. Makoni is too brainy
for most of the chaps who run ZANU PF on the slogan, Mukuru Woye, Makoni
Pasi naye. Prince Makoni does not suffer fools gladly. He is so much above
his mates that he is the only cabinet minister in Zimbabwe who actually kept
appointments and apologised if he was late.
In his reply to the accusation of selling out to the British and Americans,
his statement was rather academic. "I have contributed more to this country
than those who now claim to be custodians of what it means to be Zimbabwean.
To mask poverty and the misery of our people can never be what determines
patriotism." Prince Makoni is talking of the Human Development Index (HDI),
used by the United Nations to determine if a country is better off than it
was say, 20 years ago. When Makoni was finance minister inflation was 112
percent. It is 4 500 percent now. Life expectancy was 56 in 1980. It is now
34 and declining. Income levels were U$750 per person 1980, that figure has
declined to less than U$350 per person.
Using the HDI is not the way to win arguments. A prince must learn to speak
the language of the common people. The way to go about it is to say: Vangani
vachadya chingwa pano? Mafuta eOlivine avakuwanikwa kuhope. It does not hurt
to curse out your detractors a little while keeping your princely dignity.
I rest my case. Makoni is cool. He is our man!
THE current year opened with all the ingredients of yet another difficult
period for the country, bearing the brunt of what is undoubtedly the worst
recession to hit a sub-Saharan economy in living memory.
Not even the most pessimistic analysts had anticipated the situation to
deteriorate so fast, especially given that many thought the crisis had hit
bottom. After all, there was a general feeling that authorities had learnt
lessons from the terrible mistakes of the past. It was logical, therefore,
to expect that the authorities would adopt a fresh approach to rescue the
country's economy and atone for their sins, mitigating the impact of a
drought and the lingering effects of a chaotic land reform embarked upon
seven years ago.
It has all been wishful thinking!
But how wishful the thoughts for progressive policies! The wheels have come
off earlier than anticipated, with all the official forecasts made earlier
in the year proving way off the mark. Here is one example.
Reports suggest that the wheat harvest from the current season will be below
expectations. Government had set a target of at least 76 000 hectares to be
put under irrigated wheat this winter season but because of lack of farming
equipment and shortages of essential inputs, farmers only managed to plant
an estimated 8 000 hectares. It is now emerging that 5 000 hectares of the 8
000 hectares of winter wheat could be written off after wilting in the
fields because of incessant power blackouts and a crippling diesel shortage
that affected the irrigation of the crop.
Out of the 14 million litres of fuel required for a successful season, only
five million litres had been secured three weeks before the planting
deadline. Winter wheat depends heavily on adequate irrigation and as such,
reliable electricity supplies are crucial to the success of the programme.
Without even taking into consideration the heavy repair costs incurred by
the farmers to keep irrigation equipment running, and the need to service
loans secured from the banks, a crop write-off of the projected magnitude
would certainly worsen the country's economic outlook, which is not looking
any better. At a time when the whole economy is grinding to a standstill
owing to acute shortages, the country would be forced to resort to expensive
wheat imports to cover the deficit.
The power outages, partly a result of poor coal deliveries from Hwange
Colliery Company, have dealt a hammer blow on wheat farmers and the country
at large, regardless of the assurances made by ZESA Holdings in May this
year that it had curtailed supplies to domestic and industrial users to meet
the needs of wheat farmers. Indications are that the electricity cuts might
become more severe going forward. ZESA has issued another warning, saying it
will intensify load shedding owing to reduced coal supplies from Hwange.
The writing is on the wall. The authorities should put in place contingency
measures to deal with the resultant shortages. The time is now to look
elsewhere to bridge the huge deficit, which does not offer any relief at all
to the monetary authorities already inundated with requests for foreign
currency allocations from other critical economic sectors.
With a national wheat requirement of over 420 000 metric tonnes annually, a
number of critical areas requiring foreign currency would be sacrificed, or
rather, would have to do with shoe-string allocations, enough to avert
closure. While the drought has seriously reduced yields, there is no denying
that the biggest contributor to the current crisis has been poor planning.
Following the massive looting and destruction of irrigation infrastructure,
the government was expected to invest substantial resources into mitigating
the impact of dry spells but it has been a case of too little, too late.
Ever since the year 2000 when the government embarked on emotive land
reforms, farming preparations have been in disarray. The entire distribution
chain, from the input supplies, funding and right through to the marketing
of the crop, is fraught with man-made hiccups.
It has been suggested before that the country needs to make it possible for
the baking and milling industries to fund wheat production through
out-grower schemes, but this will no longer be possible given the heavy
losses now being suffered by both industries as a result of the ongoing
crackdown on prices. A further decline in wheat production can only worsen
the flour shortages.
Those that installed generators are finding it hard to source the fuel to
carry out irrigation continuously. Developments in wheat and maize farming
seem to suggest that this year will be the most difficult since independence
in terms of food security, putting more pressure on the already rapidly
With fuel costs constituting a significant portion of the overheads, the
strain on the agricultural, milling and baking industries could have seen
prices shooting through the roof, decimating the already depressed or
reduced disposable incomes of most consumers. But with the price controls
firmly in place, farmers and industry will be the biggest casualties.
What the price freeze means
Readers' responses to Govt move
EDITOR - On my way home from work, I stopped at TM Newlands only to find no
meat, no sugar etc, but outside I was offered, in whispered tones by a
vendor, sugar at $3 million for 20kg!
EDITOR - The price freezes are ill-considered, last-minute attempts to
reverse the results of government's creation of inflation by maintaining a
bloated civil service and security force, paying unnecessary subsidies to
parastatals, having far too many Members of Parliament and Senators,
allowing too much corruption, and thinking it can escape the consequences of
its incompetence by simply printing money. If it had any decency, it would
resign en masse.
EDITOR - The price freeze will cripple many businesses and result in empty
shelves, a flourishing black market and less tax being paid. Is this what we
EDITOR - If a rent freeze is enacted, the owners will sell their properties
to buyers who want to occupy the properties. The owners will invest the
proceeds elsewhere in order to get a proper return, and their former tenants
will have nowhere to stay or conduct their businesses.
EDITOR - Why do politicians think all they have to do to create a new law is
open their mouths? Without any Act or Statutory Instrument, there is no
binding price or rent freeze.
Nail on the head
EDITOR - I read Bornwell Chakaodza's column in last week's online edition of
The Financial Gazette. I fear your approach, Bornwell, is far too rational
for the current situation, but it certainly semed to hit the nail on the
head. Hope you recover well from the surgery.
The price freeze could work if . . .
EDITOR - The price freeze seems to be settling down to government accepting
that slashing prices by an arbitrary 50 percent is not the way to go, but to
demand commerce and industry apply a 25 percent mark-up to their costs.
To the layman, this is an unreasonable profit mark-up. But consider this: If
a retailer buys something for $100 and has to sell it for $125 but the new
stock costs $125, representing an annual inflation rate of 300 percent, then
he would make no profit or be able to pay wages and other overheads. So
government must now reduce inflation to below 300 percent and this can be
The government now urgently needs to also come to the party. The most
glaring one is the exchange rate of $250/US$, which allows a well connected
person to buy a new pick-up truck for less than the cost of 100 litres of
petrol two weeks ago ($15 million). Someone has to pay the difference and
that is the not well connected povo, alias inflation. The government has set
a rate of $60 000 per litre of petrol. In South Africa, Zambia and
Mozambique a litre of fuel costs the equivalent of about US$1, so the
government could start by setting the exchange rate at $55 000/US$. The
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) should then direct all available foreign
currency towards Noczim and other importers of essential goods and stop
people accessing RBZ money from buying vehicles, etc.
The government must eliminate different exchange rates for different sectors
of the population as this only distorts the economy. This can take a day to
Also taking a day to effect, the Minister of Finance should review the tax
brackets monthly so anyone earning less than the poverty datum line would
not pay tax. This will allow labour to reduce its demands for constant and
high wage reviews, which negatively impact on the 25 percent profit margin
referred to earlier.
The government should stop printing money for unbudgeted expenditure like
doubling the police force, until things stabilise. All government ministries
should be forced to work to their budgets.
If the government comes to the party with these three things the current
price freeze could work.
I must be living on another planet
EDITOR - I see from a newspaper report that on June 28 2007 "the Cabinet
Taskforce on Price Monitoring and Stabilisation froze all residential and
industrial rent increases".
In addition, the Minister of Industry and International Trade said that the
Taskforce "reminds" the public "that an immediate moratorium is imposed on
rent increases of both commercial and residential properties pending the
finalisation of appropriate regular formulae by both commercial and
residential rent boards".
I must be living on another planet, because I thought that only the National
Incomes and Pricing Commission can take this sort of action, not a Cabinet
Taskforce; that the Commission can only exercise its functions by making
by-laws; that its by-laws have no effect until they are published in a
statutory instrument; that both sets of rent regulations are alive and well;
that there is no moratorium on rent increases and that the National Incomes
and Pricing Commission Act applies only to incomes and prices of goods and
services, not rents.
Jonathan Moyo's Bill pure hypocrisy
EDITOR - Jonathan Moyo, the former minister of information's Gukurahundi
Memorial Bill is pure hypocrisy meant to pull the wool over our eyes. Moyo
is not in a position at all to speak on behalf of Gukurahundi victims.
Moyo's abuse of the critical Gukurahundi issue to gain political mileage and
sympathy is a great disservice to those affected. Just a few years ago when
John Nkomo called Moyo a mafikizolo in ZANU PF, Moyo hit back saying he has
been in ZANU PF for longer than Nkomo because he was never ZAPU. So there we
have Moyo publicly admitting his allegiance to the party that sanctioned
In the same vein I am disappointed with the acres of space Moyo is being
accorded to air his views. Moyo should stew in his unpublished works so that
he knows what freedom of expression is. Where would he air his views if he
had succeded to ban all private newspapers and online news sites. Moyo
should not have it both ways. He can fool some of the people some of the
time but not everyone all the time.
Asher Tarivona Mutsengi
Egoism alone will not derail dream
EDITOR - Mavis Makuni writes that egoism could derail dreams of a pan-
African government. Well, maybe not. What is it that causes Ghana to be the
choice arena for clueless politicians seeking to divert attention from
misgovernance at home by touting overtly unlikely visions?
A single continental government would be based on what common standards?
Would it be corruption or fiscal prudence? Will there be a human rights
standard on national debt? Do Zimbabweans wish to substitute their
relatively benign tyranny for some of Africa's failed states status?
Naturally, President Robert Mugabe, who seems to believe he carries the
people with him on this issue, will call for a national referendum on the
issue. Another massive no by the people not egoism will defeat the idea.
CORPORATE SA yesterday broke its silence on the unfolding meltdown in
Zimbabwe, with lobby group Business Leadership SA calling for decisive
political and business leadership to deal with the crisis.
The call comes after a controversial decision two weeks ago by President
Robert Mugabe's government to enforce price cuts for a wide range of
foodstuffs and consumer items, which has resulted in a chronic shortage of
basic goods. Mugabe accused businesses of raising prices as part of an
effort by western opponents to overthrow his 27-year-old government.
Business Leadership SA for the first time also indicated that it wanted
business to be part of the process of finding a solution, and pledged
support to the design of an inclusive package of measures to resolve the
crisis in Zimbabwe.
In a statement yesterday, Business Leadership SA president Saki Macozoma
said: "By all accounts, the country is faced with a systematic meltdown. We
believe that decisive leadership at both political and economic level is
required to steer Zimbabwe towards a comprehensive economic recovery. Such a
plan has to involve all the people of Zimbabwe and their representatives and
requires a new political consensus.
"Urgent, sober-minded and decisive leadership is called for. As business we
want to be part of the solution and pledge our appropriate support to the
design of an inclusive package of measures to resolve the crisis in
Attempts to intervene in the economic and political crisis that began more
than seven years ago have yielded no fruits.
Leaders of the 14-member Southern African Development Community (SADC) in
March gave President Thabo Mbeki the responsibility of facilitating talks
between the Zimbabwean government and the opposition Movement for Democratic
The SADC intervention came after the failure of Mbeki's approach of quiet
The SADC said yesterday it was preparing a series of measures to help rescue
Zimbabwe's economy, now in its ninth year of recession. The SADC's committee
on politics, defence and security will consider the proposals at its next
Meanwhile, a recent United Nations (UN) report on trends in the number of
asylum seekers' applications clearly indicates that SA should brace itself
in the coming months for arguably the most extraordinary exodus of people
from a country not at war .
Jack Reden, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees regional information
officer, said that last year, 25000 Zimbabweans applied for asylum in SA - a
figure that is only a fraction of the real number of people crossing the
border, as shown by a document recently released by the International
Organisation for Migration .
The document says that from January to May , more than 86000 undocumented
migrants were returned to Zimbabwe, bringing the number of undocumented
returnees from SA to nearly 166000 since May last year .
For Reden, the increase in the number of Zimbabweans officially seeking
refuge in SA reflects either an increase in the numbers of people crossing
the borders every day or an increase of those applying for refuge.
The latest turmoil in Zimbabwe does not bode well for SA. As Reden said: "If
there were stability there, people would clearly remain inside Zimbabwe."
The last recorded increase in the numbers of Zimbabwean refugees would
remind many of Mbeki's statement made in May during an address to Parliament
when he said South Africans would have to learn to live with the increasing
influx of refugees in the country.
This poses a number of challenges. First, the growing number of asylum
applications will certainly put the refugee section of the home affairs
department under increased pressure.
There remain hundreds of thousands of outstanding asylum seekers'
applications which, according to advocacy groups, are gathering dust in
refugee offices as the process to grant asylum has been plagued by
An increase in the number of refugees in SA will also pose the challenge of
integrating them into local communities. In the past, the government has
been accused of failing to educate its locals and campaign against
xenophobia, which has led to violent altercations between refugees and local
communities. With Bloomberg and Reuters
By Howard Lesser
12 July 2007
In Zimbabwe, a plummeting economy and deepening food shortages have drawn
new pleas for help this week from religious and government leaders in
neighboring South Africa. Tuesday in Johannesburg, Catholic Archbishop Pius
Ncube said Harare's economic policies are exacerbating food shortages in the
rural south, which could soon bring deficiencies to urban areas. And in
what appears to be a departure from Pretoria's stance on the crisis, Foreign
Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma says her country and the Southern
African Development Community (SADC) should intervene to rescue Harare's
sinking economy. Zimbabwe-born pro-democracy activist Annabel Hughes is
former executive director of the Zimbabwe Democracy Trust. She says that
despite the encouraging words from Zimbabwe's neighbor, the policies of
Harare's one-man ruler are what is stifling change.
"Regardless of what is going on, everything is in the hands of Robert
Mugabe. Everything. The state, the food. So unless something happens with
Robert Mugabe, nothing is going to turn around," she said.
Beginning this month, the government ordered shop and business owners to cut
the price of basic goods, such as cornmeal, sugar, bread, and meat, and
observe inflation-reducing price caps to halt a rampant escalation of costs.
Zimbabwe businesses effectively cleared their shelves of goods alst week,
and argued that the price cuts would prevent them from making a profit.
Annabel Hughes says the government's latest pricing moves have compounded an
already deteriorating situation.
"What is going to happen, I think, just like any other country, where
hyperinflation has overtaken the economy, is that people will just start
bartering on an informal basis. They'll cut the shop side altogether.
Because of these rules that are coming in, it's going to make it all
unsustainable. They will obviously find a way of getting food for people to
trade, but not necessarily dealing with Zimbabwe dollars," she said.
Earlier, the Mugabe land redistribution policy that fostered a takeover of
rural farms by black Zimbabweans was blamed for a decline in rural
productivity. But now that the economic crisis is escalating in the cities,
pro-democracy activist Hughes says she believes that efforts by SADC to
mediate the situation may be coming too late.
"They should have done so many years ago. I really, really point a finger at
South Africa for ignoring this crisis for as long as they have. They have
received warnings time and time and time again about what is going on in
Zimbabwe and have just turned a blind eye and have claimed that they have
been working on a quiet diplomacy basis, which is as far as I'm concerned,
the biggest travesty of all time because they've been doing nothing, knowing
that this economy is going rapidly down the drain," she said.
Reacting to the South African foreign minister's apparent divergence from
Pretoria's quiet diplomacy policy, Hughes tempers her optimism with an
assessment that the Mugabe government's political objectives far outweigh
the regime's willingness to compromise and listen to the advice of others.
"I think it's absolutely fantastic that they've finally admitted to the fact
that Zimbabwe needs help. I mean, how are they going to do it is the next
thing because they've got to work with a regime that refuses to take any
advice from anybody, that refuses any involvement from anybody, and who are
set on winning the elections in 2008, and that's all they care about," she
With forecasts of dramatic food scarcity in the rural south and impending
deprivation coming to urban areas, the former Zimbabwe Democracy Trust
executive predicts that the ruling ZANU-PF political party will do all that
it can to ensure it maintains a hold on power in next year's elections.
"There is no way that unless you are a supporter of ZANU-PF, you're going to
get food. People have been starving for a long time, particularly in
southern Zimbabwe, where the Archbishop Pius comes from. Southern Zimbabwe
has always been left out in the cold in connection with ZANU-PF because they
supported a different party," she pointed out.
July 12, 2007, 06:15
By: Manelisi Dubase
As food crisis in Zimbabwe continue to exacerbate and Condoleezza Rice, the
US secretary of state, has called upon diplomats to support the people of
Zimbabwe, who she says are suffering from misrule. Rice was addressing
diplomats from the African Union and the Organisation of American States who
are gathered in Washington for a two-day conference on democracy.
Zimbabwe is again in the news in the United States and the media there
report on rampant food shortages and sky-rocketing inflation. However, there
are other problems on the continent which will be under scrutiny at this
conference. One of them will be the ongoing conflict in Darfur. Rice told
diplomats that too many lives have been lost, and immediate action is
"We must not let the government of Sudan continue this game of cat and mouse
diplomacy, making promises, and then going back on them. It is our
responsibility, as principled nations, as principled democracies, to hold
Sudan accountable," she said.
Darfur always top agenda
Africans agreed that Darfur remains one of very few stains in an otherwise
peaceful continent and Alphar Konare, the chairperson of the AU commission,
says that the issue of Darfur is always on top of their agenda.
"Believe me, we have the will to stop this drama in Darfur. We have the will
that our continent will never again know the drama of Darfur," Konare said.
Konare also said the AU's mission in Darfur has other serious constraints.
He did not explain what they are, but it later became clear that the mission
has run out of money.
Never have a head of state been politically marooned like what Bob is at the
moment. The drastic metamorphosis from a freedom fighter to a despot is
equally shocking. Zimbabwe has not and will never run short of credible
leaders. There are too numerous statesmen to mention.
Political commentators and political scientists will agree with me that
there is nothing new of Mugabe's past that can make him see social sense
where there is no political self centring. That being that paints a gloomy
picture for Zimbabweans; we believe in earnest that what civic pressure
groups had failed inflation would succeed, 'acharohwa nezveusiku gore rino'.
I am not predicting that Mugabe will rule till Jesus comes but wait a
minute, how old is Mugabe for argument's sake? Most of us would prefer
waiting for his natural death which if I am right was 48 years ago,
considering that the life expectance for Zimbabweans is 35 years. Albeit
Mugabe seem to defy every scientific norm. What makes him we without our
concern? What makes him breath without oxygen? What makes him win without
votes? What makes him young without youth? What makes him Zimbabwean without
being one? May be he has lost the keys to the state house? 'Kunyika kwedu
In a book "Confronting authority" written by Derrick Bell, a black American
who took 1 year unpaid leave to confront the US authority on behalf of the
disadvantaged black woman, at Harvard Law School, noted," even those who are
considering confrontation as an alternative to passive acceptance, there are
no ten easy steps to adopting a more aggressive stance to the indignities
suffered by individuals or groups you wish to defend" This shows why
Zimbabwe is now 40 years backwards although we have more political parties
and civic pressure groups than in any peaceful country living although still
devoid of any political effect. There is simply no easy step to confronting
and defying authority. Further more Mugabe belongs to a class of his own, a
complex mixture of naivety and political mongering, devoid of reason and
humanity. The dilemma that we Zimbabweans face is that African states
continue to have solidarity with the head of states rather than the people
of individual countries, further more governments in Africa do not necessary
include the electorate but the elected or self imposed. Opposition though
progressive have found themselves incapacitated by a windfall of repressive
legislations hurriedly passed to ensure a crackdown on all progressive
forces. The war on terror has subsequently added a blow to opposition world
wide, as rogue governments can crackdown on opposition in the name of war on
terror privy of Western World.
Zimbabwe will be free and is going to be free, Mugabe or no Mugabe. We
should actively debate on Zimbabwe after Mugabe because that is the reality
now than ever. Mugabe will not be president come 2008 elections, mark my
words. As much as we have wanted to see him go forcefully at least I am one
of them for a specific reason which even Mugabe knows better, I feel the
inflation has a more ferocious fire power than all wishful thinking put
together now than anticipated, 'dzawira mutsvanda kaidzi mhanduwe'. Each
time I look at Zimbabwe's economy and political mayhem, the more I
personally take the entire ZANU(PF) leadership to blame, how on earth
somebody elected by the people forsake the same electorate and instead look
after the interest of a ghost like Mugabe or Mkabe forgive me for the lack
of knowledge as to where he comes from? As far as I am concerned, only Simba
Makoni has voiced his concern about the state of Zimbabwe, the rest lets
sent them to hell together with Mugabe. I still believe strongly that the
opposition in Zimbabwe needs to unite for the good of the nation. All
opposition leaders in Zimbabwe must understand that they owe what they are
to the people of Zimbabwe and not to themselves, at least no one is more
intelligent than the Zimbabwean electorate, if you think so then don't seek
our votes, come on guys, this is our country and not your country. We owe it
to the generation to come and not to our selfish political gains. Mugabe is
an example of a political venture which went wrong, we don't need another
example, be warned!
By Elliot Pfebve
Human Rights Activist
By Christopher Blagg/ Music
Wednesday, July 11, 2007 - Updated: 07:09 PM EST
The semidefunct jam-rock group Dispatch has made a habit of exceeding
expectations. Ten thousand people were expected for its 2004 "farewell" show
at the Hatch Shell. Instead, 110,000 came.
Dispatch has returned, surprising the music industry yet again, selling
out this weekend's three-night benefit concert at Madison Square Garden in
New York City to raise money and awareness for Zimbabwe - a country
suffering from economic collapse, drought and the HIV/AIDS crisis. Dispatch
is bigger than ever.
At their rehearsal space in Sherborn a few months ago, the trio seemed
just as surprised as everyone else. "I was nervous about playing even one
show at the Garden," said bassist/guitarist Pete Heimbold, "I mean, it's one
thing to play at the Hatch Shell for a free concert . . ." Added drummer
Brad Corrigan, "Our last show (at the Hatch Shell) was such a good one, such
a wild one, that we were just wondering if there was any more pixie dust
The magic is indeed back, considering the band managed to sell out
Madison Square Garden without the help of radio singles, MTV or other
mainstream media outlets. Three years out of the spotlight didn't lessen the
band's momentum from that Esplanade concert.
"After the Hatch Shell, everyone, including people from the music
industry were saying, 'You have to get back together. Look at your fan base
now!' For me it was more like, 'What a great way to go!"' said guitarist
Their reunion comes not out of boredom or desperation (all three enjoy
solo careers, Urmston fronts the popular State Radio), but out of
conscience. "If we were getting together just to play music and eke out a
paycheck I don't think it would have worked. So to have an opportunity to
get everyone together and then to not just be entertainers, but to give
voice to a story, that's a huge deal," said Corrigan.
So why Zimbabwe? Urmston lived in Zimbabwe for six monthswhen he was 18,
and the troubled nation and its people have held a grip on him since. One of
Dispatch's most popular songs, "Elias," came out of his experiences there.
"In the past 15 years, Zimbabwe's become a story of tragic proportions,"
said Urmston. "We wanted to do something that had a connection to the three
of us, that wasn't necessarily all over the press, and something that we
could bring some awareness to."