Robert Mugabe, currently presiding over the world's fastest shrinking
economy, is due to visit its fastest growing - China - in search of a rescue
Official sources said yesterday Mugabe will lead a high-powered
delegation to China on July 29 in a desperate hunt for a "comprehensive
economic rescue package" to save the country from collapse.
plan is that the president will lead a strong delegation of ministers,
senior government officials and bureaucrats to Beijing in two weeks' time,"
a well-placed official source said.
"The trip was planned last
year but was postponed to later this year. However, due to the current
economic problems, it was brought forward. Zimbabwe has an emergency and
wants help from China."
After its recent visit, the International
Monetary Fund said the economic situation in Zimbabwe would deteriorate. The
IMF said Zimbabwe needs a package of fundamental structural and policy
reforms instead of donations.
Sources said Mugabe would meet Chinese
President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao for talks that would cover
a "wide range of issues".
But Mugabe's main aim would be to secure an
economic rescue package to deal with the current litany of
The critical issues that Mugabe wants the Chinese to help
him tackle include the shortages of foreign currency and fuel whose
contagion has accentuated the broad economic crisis.
no meaningful foreign exchange reserves due to poor export performance, lack
of international balance-of-payments support and drying up of
The lack of foreign currency is at the heart of the shortages of
fuel, drugs, electricity, spares and raw materials. The current fuel crisis
is the worst ever.
However, China, whose economy has been growing at
an average of 9% for 27 years, has the world's second largest foreign
currency reserves, US$600 billion, after Japan.
China - which has
a trade surplus with the United States of over US$100 billion a year - has
billions of dollars in hot-money inflows each month.
Mugabe wants to take advantage of his close ties with the Chinese, which
date back to the liberation struggle during the 1970s when Beijing trained
and armed Zanu PF's military wing, Zanla, to secure a financial package that
would allow him to buy fuel and other critical imports.
sources said Mugabe would want new lines of credit after traditional
facilities were either closed or dried up as the country plunged into
International financial institutions cut Zimbabwe's lines
of credit because of the country's falling credit rating and growing
Chinese companies, assisted by the government, have
launched a wave of proposed mergers and takeovers of United States
conglomerates. - Staff Writers.
EC head leaves with a heavy heart Godfrey
ALTHOUGH the European Commission has continuously
assisted Zimbabwe with humanitarian and financial aid, its major concern has
been government's haphazard policy implementation, head of delegation
Francesca Mosca said on Wednesday.
Mosca told the Zimbabwe
Independent at the end of her four-year tour of duty: "All the time I have
been here, I have tried to dialogue with the Zimbabwean government.
Government has had some good intentions which were not properly implemented,
such as the land reform and the current clean-up campaign," she
The European Union was also concerned about freedom of
the media, independence of the judiciary, land reform, election results, and
political violence. "We don't want a regime change as suggested by some
quarters but we want a policy change."
The European Union
slapped Harare with targeted sanctions after the disputed presidential
election results in 2002. Mosca said it was important for Harare to mend its
relations with the EU as quickly as possible.
During her tenure
Zimbabwe has benefited from more than 108 million euro, which has been
availed to health, education and rural development programmes at a time when
the country has been starved of international loans and
The government received 57 million euro under the
Health Sector Support Programme, 11,4 million euro for Education Transition
and Reform Programme, and 19 million euro for
The Zimbabwe Decentralised Programme benefited
from Euro 15,2 million while 26 million euro went towards food
Despite the availability of the funds, the EC like
other aid agencies has faced problems of an overvalued exchange
"There have been problems for our money to get real value
mostly because of the overvalued exchange rate, which results in our
projects being very expensive," she said. "We have found support though from
the Ministry of Finance in some of these problems (but) the exchange rate
has remained one of our major concerns."
She said because
of the high inflation rate, currently at 144,4%, they had over the years
voiced their concerns to both the Ministry of Finance and Foreign Affairs
over the loss of value of their projects.
Government is this
year expected to get 18 million euro for health service support, a similar
amount for "frame of mutual obligations" and a further 8 million euro under
the 13th Micro Project programme.
Owing to lack of resources in
the clean-up campaign, Mosca said the United Nations had appealed for 2
million euro to buy food to assist families displaced by Operation
Murambatsvina. An additional 20 million euro will also be availed for
Mosca, who has in the past been attacked
for her passive role in Zimbabwe's crisis defended her stance saying; "I
have always been a firm believer in dialogue, but I hope the political
impasse between Zimbabwe and the EU could be resolved yesterday. But I
believe both sides would like to resolve the impasse soon."
Mosca said she had a lot of regrets about leaving Zimbabwe. "It has been a
challenge. I hoped during my time we would have improved our
Mosca is going to South America where she will head
the EC and manage the organisation's projects.
in Panama, she will be responsible for operations in Guatemala, Honduras,
Costa Rica, Nicaragua and El Salvador.
Speaking at a farewell
function for Mosca, Finance minister Herbert Murerwa pleaded with Mosca for
the EU to lift sanctions against Zimbabwe and a return to normal
"I strongly urge you to influence the EC to lift the
suspension of the signature to the ninth European Development Fund (EDF)
National Indicative Programme and make available the resources under the
ninth EDF," Murerwa said.
The minister thanked the EC for
its generosity in development endeavours and social
Mosca, who took over from the late Asger Pilegaard,
is today leaving the
country with a heavy heart having arrived
in the country in 2001. Relations between Harare and Brussels have failed to
improve during her tenure.
Tibaijuka barred ministers from council meeting Susan
Mateko/Adrian Nel UNITED Nations special envoy to Zimbabwe, Anna Kajumulo
Tibaijuka, last week barred three ministers from attending her meeting with
the Bulawayo executive mayor Japhet Ndabeni Ncube, contrary to government
claims that the mayor blocked the politicians from attending the
Ncube now faces disciplinary action from government which has
openly voiced displeasure at the ministers' failure to attend the meeting in
The exclusion of Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi, SMEs
minister Sithembiso Nyoni and Bulawayo Metropolitan governor Cain Mathema,
has stirred a hornet's nest with government calling for disciplinary action
However Ncube scoffed at the allegations against
him and the intended disciplinary measures.
He said he had been
ready to receive the ministers and all present as they were part of the
envoy's convoy. He said it was Tibaijuka who indicated that the presence of
the ministers was inappropriate as the meeting was a council
"The envoy told me that she was with ministers but did
not think it was appropriate for them to come into the meeting," said Ncube.
"She then sent her assistant to tell them that they were excused because it
was a closed council meeting," Ncube said.
The mayor, who has in
the past clashed with government officials over malnutrition death figures
in the city, said he was not fazed by the threats to discipline him since he
was simply doing his job.
"It would be very strange for me to be
disciplined for doing my work
according to council
When asked why Tibaijuka would have asked the ministers
out of the meeting, Ncube said he was not aware of the reasons but suggested
the UN envoy wanted to get an unbiased opinion from the local authority
since she had already seen the ministers.
"I am not sure why she
did not want them in, maybe she wanted an unbiased opinion from local
government," Ncube said.
The threats against Ncube have angered the
opposition MDC and in a statement this week the party said it was not the
mayor who decided whether the ministers should be in the meeting or
"The MDC is not surprised that the regime is angry and nervous
about the meeting," the party said. "The guilty are afraid, goes the saying.
One might ask the question - what is it that the ministers feel the Bulawayo
council said to the envoy that they did not want revealed?
is it that they had not covered during their own meeting with the special
envoy which they wanted to say at the mayor's meeting?" the MDC
Mathema last week alleged that it was Ncube who ordered
them out of the meeting and said the mayor's behaviour was shameful,
unacceptable and undemocratic. Mathema said government would take
disciplinary action against Ncube.
Landlord sues TeleAccess for $1b Shakeman
Mugari TELECOMS firm TeleAccess' financial problems have deepened amid
revelations that it cannot even pay its rentals.
Shumba-owned company is being sued for failing to pay rentals for its
offices at BB House where its switching equipment and staff are
The owners of the building, Croco Properties, are suing
TeleAccess for $457 million after the troubled company defaulted on its
rentals for nine months.
In papers filed at the High Court in March,
Croco Properties are demanding that TeleAccess be evicted from the building
The total claim by Croco Properties could run into
billions of dollars as owners are demanding that TeleAccess pays $2,1
million every day for unlawful occupation of the building since last
November when its lease agreement was allegedly cancelled. This comes to
$580 million and inflates the total claim to over $1 billion.
breach of the agreement defendant has failed, neglected or refused to pay
the sum of $457 699 238 in respect of rentals and other sums due to
plaintiff," says Croco Properties through their
"Defendants' (TeleAccess) right to occupy the premises
terminated on November 2 2004 but despite demand defendant has failed to
vacate the property."
In its opposing papers TeleAccess has
through its lawyers denied that it "refused or neglected to pay" the
rentals. It argued that Croco Properties had "wrongfully" hiked rentals by
590,73% a month.
"Defendant avers that its payments of rentals and
other sums due to plaintiff are up to date and further that the only reason
there appears to be arrears is plaintiff's erroneous interpretation of the .
lease agreement," TeleAccess says.
The lawsuit comes as the
company continues to experience financial problems and risks losing its
fixed network licence.
Since being granted a licence in 2003
TeleAccess has failed to launch its operations due to lack of funding. It
has also failed to lure foreign investors to provide the much needed foreign
According to telecommunications regulations, TeleAccess was
supposed to roll out its network in June 2003 after it was granted an
The company recently had a private placement to
raise funds to import essential equipment. Sources say the private placement
failed to attract sufficient numbers of institutional
TeleAccess however says the placement raised the initially
targeted $150 billion but that the offer had to be extended for another two
weeks when the required amount rose to $210 billion due to exchange rate
However, at the current exchange rate $210 billion can
only raise US$21 million, which experts say is not enough to roll out a
network to rival Tel*One. The experts say the private placement lacks the
foreign currency component that is required to buy essential
Shumba has in the past claimed that his network was stuck
in the mud because he does not want to raise forex on the parallel market.
But last week he was dragged to court on charges of sourcing foreign
currency on the black market.
African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka was in Harare on Tuesday to
advance President Thabo Mbeki's bid to revive talks between the ruling Zanu
PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
yesterday that Mlambo-Ngcuka had a mandate from Mbeki to nudge President
Robert Mugabe to the negotiating table with MDC leader Morgan
"Her mission was a follow-up on the talks between
Mbeki and Mugabe last week in Libya over the issue of talks between Zanu PF
and the MDC," a senior government official said.
met Mugabe and Vice-President Joice Mujuru for several hours.
is always a co-ordinated approach to assist Zimbabwe," Mlambo-Ngcuka said
"We need to understand as well the extent of the
challenges and the impact on the people. I was getting a global
understanding of the challenge."
Mbeki's spokesman, Bheki Khumalo,
would not comment on the issue, referring questions to Mlambo-Ngcuka's press
officers. Kanyo Gqulu, Mlambo-Ngcuka's spokesman, said he could neither
confirm nor deny that the issue of Zanu PF/MDC talks was on his boss's
Mbeki met Mugabe on the sidelines of the African Union summit
in Sirte, Libya, to discuss the revival of talks to resolve Zimbabwe's
political and economic crisis. Mugabe also met Nigerian President Olusegun
Obasanjo in Libya, who later revealed that Mugabe had agreed to talk to
The MDC leader met Mbeki and Obasanjo prior to
Sources said former Mozambican president Joaquim Chissano would
facilitate the talks.
Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba said
although Mugabe had met Mbeki and Obasanjo, there would be no talks with the
Information minister Tichaona Jokonya said the same on
But Obasanjo's spokesman Remi Oyo told VoA in an interview on
Monday that Mugabe had agreed to hold discussions with Tsvangirai under the
auspices of the African Union which Obasanjo currently chairs. He said no
time frame had yet been set for the discussions.
Zanu PF and the
MDC started talks after the disputed presidential election result in 2002,
but the dialogue soon collapsed. Mbeki and Obasanjo have been trying to
restart the stalled talks.
Tsvangirai said Mlambo-Ngcuka's visit
could be part of "exploratory initiatives" to reconvene inter-party
Tsvangirai said on Wednesday although he was not privy to
the reason for Mlambo-Ngcuka's visit, he believed Mbeki had a role to play
in resolving the current crisis.
Budget top-up to gobble $12 trillion Shakeman
Mugari/Eric Chiriga FINANCE minister Herbert Murerwa is next month expected
to present a $12 trillion supplementary budget to fund food imports and
This comes as government's domestic debt last week
ballooned to $12 trillion from $10 trillion last month due to government's
appetite for funds.
The budget is meant to finance massive food
imports to see the country through to the next harvest and operations
Murambatsvina and Garikai.
The supplementary budget is also meant to
sustain nine ministries that
President Robert Mugabe created after the
general election. The new portfolios were not catered for in the initial $28
trillion budget announced at the end of last year.
government plans to play up the food imports to justify the budget. Experts
say the supplementary budget is an indication of government's failure to
live within its means.
Zimbabwe needs about $2 trillion to import
food to see it through to the next harvest.
The $3 trillion
recently allocated for reconstruction of homes under Operation Garikai will
also be factored into the supplementary budget, expected to be presented
early next month.
The nine ministries created by Mugabe will gobble
up a significant chunk of the auxiliary budget through salaries, vehicles
and operations. Sources say the government also plans to use the money to
finance the cost of living/salary adjustments of civil
Although Finance minister Herbert Murerwa could not be
reached for comment, he told parliament last week that government would come
up with a supplementary budget to cover the cost of the clean-up operation
and food imports.
"We are going to have a drought this year and
we had not anticipated it. So we are going to have a supplementary budget
this year," said Murerwa. He however said the other extra expenses would be
financed through last year's budget by reprioritising.
said the supplementary budget could stoke inflation as government prints
more money to finance its largesse. They say it would also worsen the budget
deficit which government had initially estimated at 5% of gross domestic
product (GDP). They say it would throw into disarray Reserve Bank governor
Gideon Gono's inflation targets of between 50-80% by year-end. Economist
Daniel Ndlela said the move would worsen the budget deficit, push up
inflation and increase state debt.
"It's a budget explosion. They
will have to print money to finance that budget," Ndlela
"Whether they finance it through printing money or borrowing,
the results will be disastrous. It shows government's failure to plan its
expenditure and to stick to it," he said.
MIC fails - media workers Ashleigh Swaile MEDIA
practitioners this week told the government that the Media and Information
Commission (MIC) has failed to fairly regulate the media as it targets only
private media houses and journalists.
In order to address this anomaly,
the media fraternity under the auspices of the Media Institute of Southern
Africa has drafted a code of conduct which was handed to Information
minister Tichaona Jokonya on Wednesday. This is seen as the first step in
setting up a voluntary media council.
The MIC chaired by Tafataona
Mahoso has been blamed for closing four newspapers, rendering dozens of
journalists jobless and reducing public accountability.
media groups involved in the promotion of the code of conduct include the
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists, the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe, the
Zimbabwe National Editors Forum (Zinef), the Independent Journalists
Association of Zimbabwe (Ijaz), the Federation of African Media Women
Zimbabwe (Famwz), and the Freelance Writers Association of
The alliance told the minister of the need for
self-regulation as opposed to statutory control of the media through the
In a statement yesterday Misa said a mutually agreed code of
conduct acts as the "first step in setting up a self-regulatory media
"The voluntary media council is not meant to accredit
journalists or register media houses but mediate in disputes between
journalists and the general public," Misa said.
informed that the code addresses concerns of private media houses which, to
date, have suffered from the Media and Information Commission's failure to
regulate national media fairly or professionally.
The minister was
informed of such concerns, including the fact that the government has a
responsibility to come up with policies that promote media in Zimbabwe,
"even if that media is critical of the government".
It is also
realised that complaints against the media must be resolved amicably without
Although the Information ministry has agreed that
the government would not stand in the way of these efforts, Jokonya's
allegations at the meeting regarding "unpatriotic journalism" have already
sparked reaction from Zinef.
In response to the minister's claim that
some sectors of the media fraternity hurt Zimbabwe's national interests,
Zinef said: "It's a pity that when the independent press responds to the
minister's invitation to engage in dialogue, it is subject to
"Patriotism is not about concealing the state's record of
misrule nor its persistent abuse of power including assaults on press
freedom and complete lack of public accountability," the editors' forum
"Our code of conduct demonstrates our sincerity and seriousness
in fashioning a professional press. The government now needs to do the
Misa said the proposal for a voluntary media council is set on
the understanding that complaints against the media "must not result in the
arrests of journalists or closures of media houses but a fair hearing in
which the media, if it errs, is asked to apologise and retract such
Members of the public may still choose to pursue civil
suits against the media in courts of law, but they are encouraged to use the
voluntary media council in the first instance.
Price controls commission on cards Shakeman
Mugari THE government will this month establish a special commission to
impose price controls as shortages of basic commodities worsen and prices
The National Incomes and Pricing Commission to be led by Economic
Development minister Rugare Gumbo will be responsible for fixing prices of
basic commodities and agricultural inputs. It will also set stringent
controls on other services.
But economic analysts warn that
controlling prices of goods that are barely available will only worsen
Government claims the commission will contain galloping
prices to stop businesses from profiteering. The analysts say a price freeze
will exacerbate the economic meltdown through company
Controls failed to achieve the desired results in 2003 and
there are no prospects of them working now, they say.
Robert Mugabe is expected to appoint members of the commission in two weeks'
time and government reportedly already has a list of commodities to be
According to the plan, controls will cover cooking oil,
soap, flour and sugar, all of which are scarce. The list will also include
agricultural inputs such as fertiliser, seeds and chemicals.
source said the controls were likely to broaden to include ploughs and spare
parts for tractors and combine-harvesters.
Prices of controlled
commodities will be fixed for a period of six months. Government has already
established the Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory Commission (Zerc) to control
power tariffs, which Zesa Holdings had planned to increase by an average
300% this month.
Local authorities are also not allowed to review
their rates without the approval of Local Government minister Ignatious
Gumbo confirmed that the commission would be formed in the
next two weeks and that he would chair it. "We are working towards a price
stabilisation mechanism. I will be leading that commission," Gumbo said. "We
have been contemplating this plan for the past few weeks to stop the price
He however referred specific questions on price controls
to the Minister of Industry and International Trade, Obert
Mpofu could not be reached for comment but he told a business
meeting in Kariba two weeks ago that prices controls were looming. Mpofu
told a Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce congress that government was
going to restore price controls because industry had failed to "control
"We are determined to control the pricing process of goods
and services. You cannot blame us as we have called industry to control its
pricing system," he said.
Moyo plans to spill beans Loughty Dube FORMER
Information minister and government spin-doctor Jonathan Moyo will this year
publish his memoirs on his term as a minister. He is due to provide the
reasons he joined Zanu PF and why he was dismissed from government, the
Zimbabwe Independent has established.
The book is set to be an important
political record of the internal politics in Zanu PF and should offer an
insight into the flip-flop career of Moyo who was loathed for his assault on
civil liberties when he was in government.
He has now reinvented himself
as an exponent of human rights and arch-critic of President Mugabe's
"It would be a betrayal of my profession as a trained
academic not to write a book of my memoirs and experiences while in
government and of state policies and their implications for the country and
for Africa as a whole," Moyo said in an interview this week.
is difficult to write a book until the environment is conducive but the
sooner I get the book out of my way the better because I would not want the
passage of time to make the book irrelevant. It should not be polluted by
Moyo, a schooled propagandist and accomplished academic,
shocked many when he abandoned his criticism of President Mugabe and joined
his government in 2000 before his flirtation with Zanu PF ended in
recrimination after five years as Mugabe's image maker.
Tsholotsho MP said he was still working on engaging a reputable
international publisher to publish the book that he said should be out
before the end of the year.
"If my memoirs do not come out by
next year I would have wasted my time writing them," Moyo said. "The book
will be about everything I did before joining government, the reasons that
led me to join government and Zanu PF, the actual dynamics in government and
in Zanu PF and the book will also dwell on the pursuit of other big issues,"
he said without elaborating on the "big issues".
said the other reason for him writing the book was to correct falsehoods
that have been made about him.
"There are a lot of falsehoods that
have been said and continue to be said about me by some people and there are
things that have been done and continue to be done against me. With all
that, it's necessary for me to write," Moyo said.
"There are so
many questions, so many things that people want answers to and to just sit
and do nothing would be unfair."
Moyo was at the helm of the
government propaganda machinery until he fell out of favour with Mugabe for
allegedly masterminding the ill-fated Tsholotsho meeting that Zanu PF says
was called to plot a coup.
'Govt rigged elections and has much to hide' Ray
Matikinye GOVERNMENT is erecting as many obstacles as possible in the path of
court challenges by the Movement for Democratic Change to the 2002
presidential poll outcome, raising suspicions that the vote was rigged, MDC
secretary for legal affairs David Coltart says.
The MDC in 2000
challenged the poll in 39 constituencies and the presidential election
results two years later but the majority of the cases have not been heard up
Coltart told a press briefing on Tuesday that government was
delaying the course of justice to gain advantage over clear constitutional
provisions, lending credence to assertions that the judiciary has been
"The government of Zimbabwe has persistently said (President
Robert) Mugabe is the legitimate leader and we wonder why so many obstacles
are being placed in our way," Coltart said.
"It is clear they
have much to hide."
He cited Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede's
failure to comply with his statutory duty to furnish ballot boxes used in
the presidential poll for inspection despite a series of court orders for
him to do so.
Mudede only complied after the High Court convicted him
of contempt of
court and fined him $5 million. But when the ballot boxes
for Rushinga were made available as agreed, seven of them had their seals
broken, making it impossible to verify the ballot papers. Initially, Mudede
had made available only five boxes.
Ballot boxes from other
constituencies were stacked in small rooms in the High Court Buildings in a
manner that made it almost impossible to gain access to them, Coltart
"They know that they rigged the elections and they cannot
escape the fact that their time is up. The whole thing is highly
suspicious," Coltart said. "It has been over three years now but we still
don't have access to the ballot boxes as required by
Coltart said failure by the RG to furnish the boxes within the
10 days stipulated by the High Court meant Mudede's suspended three-month
sentence should automatically come into effect.
A COMPANY jointly owned by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and
the Ministry of Finance, Climax Investments, could fold because of serious
The company plunged into problems after it
lost its clients last year. Before the crisis, the company specialised in
debt management but lost clients after the RBZ launched its Productive
Sector Facility last year.
The company is said to be failing to
generate enough revenue to sustain its operations. Climax was also a victim
of last year's financial crisis, which saw many asset management firms and
banks closing down.
Problems worsened after its $1,7 billion
investment was locked up in troubled National Discount House
The board, chaired by former Finance minister
Tichaendepi Masaya, is understood to be making frantic efforts to save the
company which sources say could sink soon.
recently met and decided to diversify their business into asset and fund
It is diversifying from solely debt management to
broaden its revenue streams.
The board is also said to be
at loggerheads with staff members over the appointment of Victor Mkotsanjera
as an executive director of the company.
Staff members are said
to have questioned his qualification and ability to turn around the fortunes
of the company, especially during the current difficulties.
Masaya denied that the company was in trouble but confirmed that it has now
shifted from debt management to asset management and equity
"There is nothing wrong with the company
moving from debt management to investments considering there is now low
business in that area," Masaya said.
"Everyone has a right
to exercise his or her options with regards to their investments and we have
exercised that right," he said.
With regards to the appointment
of Mkotsanjera as executive director, Masaya said there was "nothing wrong
with the appointment".
"Anyone, even your uncle, can come and
be appointed to the board, there is nothing wrong with that. Why do people
just look for something to talk about?" he said.
denied allegations that Climax was selectively investing in businesses
closely linked to some member on the board.
He confirmed that
the company had lost $1,7 billion in NDH.
"Yes, we have funds
tied up in NDH and we exercised an option of turning the debt into
New power body scuttles Zesa tariff hike Godfrey
Marawanyika A NEW power-pricing proposal to be introduced by the new Zimbabwe
Electricity Regulatory Commission (Zerc) could scuttle Zesa Holdings' plans
to hike tariffs by 600% starting this month.
Zerc has recommended
that electricity tariffs be done once a year with approval from the
This should mean that Zesa Holdings cannot make ad hoc
tariff hikes. In a policy document released this week, the commission said
power distribution firms should only effect a 12-month tariff increment
instead of periodic hikes.
The commission is mandated in terms of
the Electricity Act to govern and control the electricity supply industry
(ESI). The document, titled "Electricity Pricing Methodology", said tariff
hikes would now be approved once a year.
"This means that tariff
application will have to be done annually by all licensees," Zerc said in
"Tariff adjustments to cater for the current high
inflationary environment will be accommodated using an indexation formula to
be invoked when necessary but no less than three months after previous
The regulator may at a later stage, basing on
economic stability, reduce assessment and review periods to reduce costs and
The new pricing policy came as Zesa was planning
to increase power charges by an average 300%.
Sources last month
said Zesa was planning a massive tariff hike of 230% for domestic consumers.
The commercial sector, which includes manufacturers, would pay up to
Before Zerc, power utilities needed cabinet endorsement before
they could adjust prices.
Last year, Zesa hired a South
African-based energy consulting and advisory group, Sad-elec, which
recommended the setting up of an independent regulatory authority in the
The commission, appointed last month, is expected to promote
competition through the licencing of more players in the energy sector. It
will be responsible for licensing and approving price
Zesa requires at least US$13 million a month to meet
electricity imports, service debts and buy spares for refurbishments. It
generates 1 440 megawatts of power from Kariba South power station (750 MW),
Hwange power station (590 MW) and a small thermal power (100 MW). This
constitutes 68% of national requirements.
Imports account for 650
MW, representing 32% of national requirements from Eskom (300 MW), Hydro
Cahora Bassa (250MW) and 100 MW from Snel of the Democratic Republic of
Bad policies a setback for govt on forex Eric
Chiriga GOVERNMENT'S insistence that exporters must add value to their
commodities to earn more foreign currency will not work because the
country's primary industry - agriculture - has been crippled by bad
The government insists that the panacea to the foreign currency
crisis is value addition to the country's exports instead of exporting raw
However, economic analysts argue that the supply side in
the agricultural sector has gone down drastically. They say there is a need
to improve primary production and address the structural rigidities within
They say there is little to add value to as production
volumes are continuously declining. The agriculture sector, which used to
constitute more than 50% of the country's exports before the chaotic land
reform, has declined sharply since 2000.
Horticulture, dairy and
tobacco industries were severely affected by the land invasions resulting in
the country importing basic products like milk.
Robertson said there was need to create a conducive investment environment
in the sector. He said government was not willing to put its money at
"The value addition concept is a noble one for the enhancement
of the country's exports and foreign currency earnings but there are
structural rigidities that need to be addressed," he said.
are domestic structural rigidities. Our cost structure is skewed," the
economist said. He said there was no foreign direct investment which would
bring processing plants for value additions.
Billions of foreign
investment are required for plant and machinery for the value addition
process, while existing industries are closing down due to viability
The business sector has called on the government to improve
its relations with the international community to lure foreign investment
and boost creditworthiness.
At National Economic Consultative
Forum and Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce meetings held recently, the
government maintained that value addition was the panacea to the country's
foreign currency woes.
Exporters are operating at between 30-40% of
capacity amid escalating overheads. They are also failing to access foreign
currency on the RBZ auction system to import raw materials.
country is reeling under serious foreign currency shortages and this has
been exacerbated by the recent increase in fuel prices.
foreign currency auction can only supply about US$44 million per month,
which is then gobbled by fuel imports which require about US$60 million per
month. Business leaders have also blamed the government's inconsistent
policies as the causes of the economic downturn.
government policies are frequently changed and randomly
The leaders have also condemned the price controls
that were introduced by the government saying that they are causing serious
Fertiliser manufacturer Sable Chemicals made a
loss of $9 billion due to the price controls.
AirZim to spend millions on Dubai route launch Roadwin
Chirara AIR Zimbabwe is planning to splash millions of dollars on the
official launch of its controversial Dubai route, which has seen the
national airline suffer crippling losses.
Air Zimbabwe continues to
make losses on the route that was imposed on the airline by the government
before carrying out feasibility studies.
The official launch set for
month-end is likely to be a major drain on Air Zimbabwe, which is currently
in financial crisis. Plans for the launch are said to have reached an
advanced stage and AirZim officials have already started talks with its
partner, East African Airline, to help.
The airline is said to be
making frantic efforts to enlist the support of the tourism sector to help
finance the bash.
Players in the tourism and travel sector are
however said to be sceptical of the plan saying the government initially
sidelined them when the route was opened in May.
According to a
tentative plan, Air Zimbabwe officials will hold a mini function in Entebbe,
Uganda, and another in Dubai, both requiring scarce foreign currency. There
will also be a big bash in Harare.
Air Zimbabwe is also likely to fly
passengers to Dubai for free as part of the launch.
spokesman David Mwenga confirmed the planned launch. He said there were also
plans to officially launch the Kariba route, which is also reeling from the
slowdown in the tourism industry.
"We are planning to officially
launch the routes but this is subject to some factors," Mwenga said. He said
the carrier was trying to enlist the support of the various stakeholders in
the travel and tourism sectors.
"These projects involve a number of
players and thus we have set aside tentative dates, with the Kariba one set
for this Saturday (tomorrow) and the Dubai route set for sometime at the end
of the month," he said.
The airline has shelved initial plans to fly
to Bangkok, Thailand, after management were alarmed by losses on current
Asian routes to Dubai and Beijing.
Experts say the Dubai route is
likely to collapse because it was not properly marketed. They say that Air
Zimbabwe is surviving on leftovers from established airlines plying the
route like Kenya Airways and United Emirates Airlines.
United Emirates Airlines have better services and are more
Air Zimbabwe also faces stiff competition from Air
Malawi which is new on the route but is more organised. Air Malawi will soon
introduce direct flights to the United Arab Emirates.
ZCTU challenges govt on fuel Tahna Fleishman/Ashleigh
Swaile THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has attacked government
for its silence on the fuel crisis, challenging the authorities to explain
This follows five weeks of a deepening fuel crisis
which has gripped the nation resulting in the loss of production and
shortage of commuter transport.
In a statement last week, ZCTU
secretary-general Wellington Chibebe said government should come out in the
open and explain the problem.
"Government should come out in the open
and tell the public about the fuel situation and what it is doing about it,"
He said government's silence on the fuel situation was
"Long winding queues of cars are now a familiar sight at
service stations and motorists have resorted to sleeping in their cars while
waiting for the fuel they dream will come anytime soon. Workers have
resorted to footing to work because there is no public transport system to
take workers to and from work."
Government has over the past
three weeks failed to supply petrol and diesel to service stations
throughout the country, leaving many motorists and thousands of workers
stranded. The crisis has crippled the public and private operations with
most companies operating below capacity. The public transport system has
virtually ground to a halt with workers having to resort to foot, directly
impacting on production of basic commodities and reducing working
Chibebe said the slowdown in production and the rapidly
escalating price of fuel had caused a surge in prices of basic goods posing
a threat to the workers and the public. Last month government hiked the
petrol price to $10 000 per litre from $3 600 but did not guarantee the
A Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ)
report for last month shows that an average family of six now requires $4,2
million a month to survive. Chibebe said his organisation was shocked that
government looked unconcerned by the impact of the crisis on the industry
He urged government "to make a public announcement on the
fuel situation and what measures are being embarked on to bring the
situation to normalcy".
Experts say the fuel shortages are likely to
continue unless foreign currency inflows improve. Currently international
fuel suppliers are demanding cash upfront from Zimbabwe because of its poor
Basic goods vanish as crisis deepens Ashleigh
Swaile/Tahna Fleishman THE shortage of basic commodities has widened to
include soap and salt as the economic crisis continues to
Shortages of basic commodities intensified this week with most
retail shops running out of essential goods such as salt and
The recent shortages also add to the list of basics that have
disappeared from shelves as companies grapple with perennial foreign
currency shortages and increased overheads caused by skewed economic
Currently the list of shortages includes milk, bread,
flour, cooking oil and toothpaste. Experts say the list is likely to widen
as the economy continues to crash and government intensifies its
interference in the manufacturing sector. The government is also likely to
worsen the situation with its plans to reintroduce price
Although government blames companies of hoarding the basic
commodities, manufacturers say their operations have been affected by the
foreign currency shortages.
Human resources director of Unilever
Noah Matibiri, in an interview this week, attributed the shortages of
locally-produced goods, particularly soaps and washing powders, "to foreign
currency concerns". Unilever produces more than 50% of the basic
Matibiri said the company had not stopped production of
the goods but availability has been limited by foreign currency
According to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ)
spokesperson, Tonderai Mukeredzi, the shortages were a result of the foreign
currency shortages or some companies withholding their products in a
demonstration of their displeasure with government's price
"From what we understand, many companies are experiencing
problems due to foreign currency (problems). They do not have the money to
import essentials and are therefore forced to scale down their operations,
some companies by at least 50%," Mukeredzi said.
"We cannot rule
out the possibility that they may have the capacity to produce but are not
doing so, because they are not happy with government
He said although it was necessary for government
to intervene it was not proper to introduce outright
"We believe sometimes it is necessary for government to
intervene, but not necessarily to control. At present we have only three
controlled products - bread, flour and roller meal. Everything else are
monitored products," he said.
The CCZ recently held price surveys
to assess the situation and advise government on the way forward. "We are
concerned that basic commodities continue to be in short supply," said
As of June, basic commodity prices have soared. The CCZ
report for this month has placed the cost of living for a family of six at
$4,2 million, up from the $3,1 million in May.
"This has caused a
34,5% increase in the cost of living," Mukeredzi said. In addition to these
hikes, prices for consumer goods such as margarine have risen by 82% and
meat by approximately 26%. The CCZ also estimates that the price of soap has
increased by 57%.
The increase in prices of basics has seriously
eroded the incomes of the workers who are already affected by other hikes in
transport and medical fees.
I PUT a question with notice to Local Government minister
Ignatious Chombo on Operation Murambatsvina as it has affected, among other
areas, Hatcliffe Extension,which he announced will not be used for housing,
especially low-cost housing, as it is "unsuitable"!
This is despite
the fact that it is right next to Hatcliffe One, a high-density area, and
that the site-and-service scheme was laid out for low-cost housing and the
water and sewerage reticulation installed for that layout, and funded by the
His response was that it is not suitable to have a
high-density area right next to a university and that it is going to be
re-designed so that there are some houses for teachers at the adjacent
police boarding school, but the rest of it will be for the Zimbabwe Open
University, which has 25 000 students enrolled and needs that
This is a lame excuse. They are just reducing the number of
people living in Harare North, in my view, so that we will be merged with
another constituency to reduce the number of Movement for Democratic Change
This issue is of serious concern to the residents
of Hatcliffe Extension, who still believe they have a right to their
allocated stands, for which they paid deposits and rent, and have lease
agreements with the government.
This matter is before the Supreme
Court, but we have no idea how long it will take to hear the case or hand
down judgement. Besides, we know that we can no longer rely on impartiality
from that bench.
Chombo stated that all the residents of Hatcliffe
Extension who went to Caledonia Farm were allocated stands at Hopley Farm as
listed in the Herald of July 2. We have done an analysis of that list to see
how many of the sample 329 families we managed to record before they were
evicted have been allocated stands at Hopley.
The number of
stands allocated at Hopley, which were all for Hatcliffe Extension
residents, according to Chombo, is 1 272 stands. Only one stand has been
allocated to any of the people on our sample list - to Susan Mapuranga who
was on stand 3987 Hatcliffe Extension.
Who got the other stands? We
know one person on the list who did - Robson Mhandu, probably of the ZBC,
unless there are two Robson Mhandus.
reports of a massive haul of illicit ivory in Harare have exposed the level
to which the responsible wildlife management authority has sunk. The
authority no longer has any capacity within its ranks to effectively manage
our wildlife resources.
From the responses given by the authority's
director-general, it appears that they speculate that the ivory might have
come from the Zambezi Valley; they are not definite. If the authority cannot
be precise of the source of the ivory that has been discovered, then it can
also not be sure of the extent of poaching in the various wildlife
While they say that Zimbabwe has an overpopulation of
elephants, they are oblivious to the fact that Zimbabwe's wildlife
population is characterised by heavy poaching and mismanagement, and that
overpopulation of the past no longer exists. In the recent past there has
been rampant poaching and overhunting that has been going on unnoticed. On
its part, the authority since its inception has never undertaken any
operation to enhance viability of wildlife populations.
state, which is conducive to decimation of wildlife, was bound to occur
given that the authority does not have any professional wildlife managers
and conservationists among its ranks. Wildlife areas are not being managed
and field staff are not being remunerated while on the other hand, the
authority has been overloaded with well-paid "chefs" who do not know
anything about wildlife management.
Managerial and clerical staff
who play no role in protection take 75% of the authority's wage bill, while
a paltry 25% is spent on law-enforcement personnel. Obviously, such a
structure does not augur well for wildlife protection and management, hence
the reported ivory hauls are just the tip of the iceberg.
investigations and unbiased resource surveys will reveal that there are no
longer any viable wild animals in our parks estate. Lions have disappeared.
Only trees and grass remain.
It's high time that the responsible
ministry ensures that those who have the responsibility of managing our
wildlife resources are wildlife managers. We cannot let wildlife go to the
dogs, while at the same time pinning our hopes on a revival of the tourism
sector on the same decaying wildlife industry.
It's time we heed the
president's call to put performers into our key economic industries. The
authority should be restructured and rid of all the excess chaff that is
draining salaries so that proper and well-trained human resources are
recruited for wildlife management.
The demise of the wildlife will
render all efforts to revive the tourism sector futile.
Tibaijuka left the country last week and government has upped the tempo in
demolishing so-called illegal properties. Rural buses which had been
commandeered to service urban routes to mask the transport crisis have
suddenly reverted to their old routes and transport blues are
It was not a coincidence that on the eve of the arrival of the
United Nations diplomat the government suddenly transformed Operation
Murambatsvina into Operation Garikai to create the illusion of a major
Now neat small greenhouses protecting
tomato plants from frost and other elements are being pulled down. We are
not sure what operation this comes under as greenhouses are entirely legal.
And were we not told that Murambatsvina was over?
But we should
not be surprised by this manoeuvring by government. It is very good at
creating a crisis and then trying to convince the whole world that the
disaster is justified and is aimed at developing the country.
not want to conclude that Tibaijuka fell for this cheap ruse given what has
been going on in this country in recent years. The jury is still out until
she issues her report later this month.
Government worked feverishly
to show Tibaijuka what it was doing under Operation Garikai and not its
sibling Operation Murambatsvina. But her statements during the tour clearly
show that the apparition of Murambatsvina loomed so large that she could not
avoid taking potshots at government, albeit in polite
I liked her comments when she toured the Midlands
capital Gweru. She said: "The issue is not a clean city. Cleaning of cities
cannot be an event, it has to be a process."
This was a
significant lecture to our government which has difficulty understanding
that any reform takes more than a single act of madness. Murambatsvina or
Garikai in their current form do not constitute reform. They are events
influenced by a sudden rush of blood to the head. That is not sustainable
lest the head bursts. Murambatsvina is an orgy of destruction, a
testosterone-driven event meant to leave no doubt about its intention - more
Garikai is not an elaborate or well-planned process. It
is a hasty plan designed to convince the world that after 25 years of doing
nothing, government is serious about provision of housing. That is why an
unbudgeted $3 trillion - more than 10% of Herbert Murerwa's national budget
- has been committed to the project.
Houses are being built at
Whitecliff where there are no water or sewer lines. By the way, does the
city have the capacity to provide water to these areas considering its own
admission that its infrastructure is already stretched to the
Whatever happened to the promise by Water Resources minister
Munacho Mutezo in April that "within the next one or two weeks" government
would announce how the Kunzvi dam project would be financed?
there was an announcement that tarred roads were no longer necessary in new
housing projects. Shortcuts like this are not new.
other event - the fast-track land reform exercise? It was declared
officially over in 2003. But can we say that land seizures are over in
Zimbabwe? Are our rulers so inane they cannot distinguish between a process
and an event?
The land reform programme was an event. It was a
phenomenon characterised by violence, deaths, dispossession, theft, arson,
looting and poor planning. The declaration that the land reform was complete
and had been successfully concluded meant that the show was over. What is
becoming an elaborate and painful process is cleaning up the mess; like the
aftermath of a youth party in your back garden. The regeneration of the
trampled lawn and that flattened ornamental shrub is a process and not an
event. That is how elementary it is.
There are more examples of
this. On the eve of the election, the airwaves were opened to the
opposition. The police surprisingly exercised restraint when dealing with
crowds. This was democracy at work, our rulers told us. This showed us that
"Zimbabwe was now a mature democracy", the state media blared imperiously.
What impertinence. By allowing the face of Morgan Tsvangirai on television,
Zimbabwe became a mature democracy overnight. My foot!
how our political leaders conceive development, be it social, political or
economic. It has to be a big splash, someone flicking on a switch and all
our problems are over. This does not work.
The big splashes on Gideon
Gono's monetary policies or the budget
statements or the launch of
economic programmes (which incidentally never work) are mere events devoid
of process - or maturity. Event management is not the same as managing a
Gukurahundi, farm invasions, Posa, Aippa and now
Murambatsvina. Do we ever learn how to do something properly without
threats, violence or destruction?
Chance to pluck Zimbabwe from mess IS
the fate of the nation now in the hands of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change? This might sound absurd as the MDC is not the party in
office, nor does it have any influence in governance. Zanu PF on the other
hand has a firm majority in parliament but does not appear to have what it
takes to extricate the country from a rapidly deepening crisis.
week, Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa told parliament that fuel problems
would not go away as long as Western sanctions against Zimbabwe remained in
place. Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, responding to a damning statement
by the IMF last month, said the country had been forced to take desperate
measures in dealing with the economy because of sanctions.
Does this mean
sanctions are working despite government efforts to make us believe they
were a non-event?
The MDC is now being called upon to talk to "its
Western masters" to lift sanctions imposed on the country. Since 2000
Britain and the United States have not moved an inch on the sanctions
position despite calls from African heads of state for the punitive action
to be lifted. South Africa's Thabo Mbeki and Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo can
testify to that.
But this week events took a new turn. The likelihood of
talks between the two political parties has increased after Obasanjo and
Mbeki met President Mugabe in Sirte on the sidelines of the AU summit last
week. Opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai's diplomatic shuttles to Abuja and
Pretoria over the past two weeks are also linked to rekindling dialogue
between the two parties.
As expected, Information permanent secretary
George Charamba poured cold water on the subject this week. It is without
doubt that he speaks for the highest office in the land in opposing talks.
Even in the midst of the current crisis which is now obvious to all but the
most obtuse of his followers, Mugabe refuses to acknowledge that there is
In such an environment, the diplomacy by Mbeki and
Obasanjo is rendered extremely difficult. But this week there has been some
Following hard on the heels of Charamba's statement that there
would be no talks, South African deputy president Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka
arrived to make clear Pretoria's position. While Zimbabwe's official media
attempted to dress up her meetings here as a women's affair, it was her
talks with Mugabe that were significant.
Reports in South Africa make
it clear that Mbeki is expecting to see national dialogue get underway as
soon as possible even if it means dragging Mugabe to the negotiating table
kicking and screaming.
This is the culmination of an international effort
that has been underway since before the election but culminated in Libya and
It comes at precisely the moment when Zanu PF is fragmenting.
Pearson Mbalekwa's resignation, while not the harbinger of a mass exodus, is
at least suggestive of growing disaffection. And there is certainly more to
Philip Chiyangwa's departure than the reasons given in the official
Further, relieved of Jonathan Moyo's whip, senior Zanu PF bigwigs
are no longer singing from the same hymn sheet as Mugabe on the issue of
dialogue. Gono understands more than most the importance of
balance-of-payments support if the country is to be rescued from its current
The last serious attempt at dialogue took place two years ago
when Chinamasa held unofficial talks with the MDC's Welshman Ncube to sketch
the outline of a constitutional settlement.
The process was blocked
by the usual obstacle who appears to think that by procuring electoral
victory he can sidestep the country's mounting problems.
for the hardliners in Zanu PF the opposition is not dead. It is still around
and will be for a long time to come so long as the conditions that spawned
it continue to exist. Mugabe's government remains synonymous with
inefficiency and failure. The biggest threat to Zanu PF today is its failure
This brings to the fore the importance of pressure from
within the party to usher Mugabe and his last-ditchers to the negotiating
table with the opposition. He is a difficult man to pluck from the rails of
his entrenchments but failure to do so is increasingly becoming suicidal for
the party which has become rudderless after the election.
If Zanu PF
truly endorses Mugabe as the best man to lead the party and ultimately the
country, it must ensure that his every move benefits the nation. Can that be
said of his current performance?
There is a huge challenge ahead for the
party. It is one thing to keep Mugabe in office but quite another to allow
him to run the country down. Leadership in Zanu PF is not Mugabe's sole
The opposition which now occupies an important place in
finding a solution to what even Mbeki calls the Zimbabwean crisis also has
to demonstrate the qualities of leadership. There has been a preoccupation
with trying to get Mugabe out of the way but the task to hand is much
larger.What does the party have to offer at the negotiating table if Mugabe
agrees to dialogue today, as the South African media is reporting?
the past this issue has resulted in serious ructions within the upper ranks
of the party which has reflected badly on Tsvangirai's leadership. A divided
party is its own enemy in negotiations. Both sides need to understand
CONTRADICTIONS surrounding the widely-condemned Operation
Murambatsvina and the worsening economic crisis dogging the country have
exposed government's failure to manage public information in the
post-Jonathan Moyo era.
Since the inception of the clean-up campaign,
government has failed to come up with a common position to explain the
President Robert Mugabe and ministers have been making
contradictory statements, which analysts say indicates lack of a coordinated
communication strategy and panic in government circles in view of
international condemnation of its failed policies.
Mugabe and his
ministers have been inconsistent in their bid to turn a demolition campaign
into a development initiative, both in the eyes of United Nations envoy Anna
Kajumulo Tibaijuka and the world at large.
However, the attempted
manipulations have failed to yield results as Tibaijuka, who at times
appeared to have swallowed hook, line and sinker government's justification
of the operation, in fact managed to see through the
Mugabe led the campaign to declare Operation Murambatsvina a
noble cause when he told Tibaijuka his government had planned the demolition
blitz - meaning it was designed earlier - before the March 31 general
election but it could not be implemented because Zanu PF would have been
accused of trying to destabilise the MDC's urban strongholds.
claimed he had promised during the campaign to implement the programme after
the election. However, there is no evidence of him saying so except pleading
with urban voters to support his party, which lost all but one urban
Mugabe's claim that the clean-up was planned was proved to be a
futile attempt to hoodwink the UN envoy. Finance minister Herbert Murerwa
told parliament last Wednesday Operation Murambatsvina was not budgeted for
because "we had not anticipated this programme".
"It is very clear
that when we announced the 2005 budget we had not anticipated this
programme. So it will translate into some parts of the 2005 budget being
re-prioritised to accommodate this expenditure," Murerwa said.
responding to a question from opposition Movement for Democratic Change MP
Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga on why government was now allowing
"unbudgeted expenditure" when it said it would not do so.
revelation contradicted Mugabe's claim that the clean-up programme should
have been implemented before the March general election. This means Mugabe
misled UN envoy Tibaijuka when they met a fortnight ago.
African Union summit in Libya last week, Mugabe made another attempt to sell
a dummy to international journalists when he claimed that nobody had been
displaced and rendered homeless by the ruthless crackdown.
He made no
mention of Caledonia Farm and other transit camps nationwide to accommodate
the displaced multitudes.
Mugabe's claims were also shot down by the
police when they confessed to Tibaijuka that they demolished a conservative
5 176 structures, displacing 9 444 people in Bulawayo alone.
figures are viewed as an understatement by human rights groups who estimate
destroyed township homes at around 200 000 structures resulting in up to a
million people being affected, creating a huge homeless and hungry
population housed at transit camps.
Tibaijuka had a go at the army
and police officers for their involvement in the clean-up campaign saying
they were neither a construction company nor a cleaning
Police spearheaded the demolition of the home industries and
backyard structures. The army on the other hand has been tasked to build 25
000 houses by August 30 for the displaced people. Government has undertaken
to build 24 000 houses in Harare and 1 003 in Bulawayo by the end of
The figures are a far cry from the number of displaced people.
The discrepancies in numbers expose government's hidden agenda that the
clean-up campaign was to force people back to the rural
Bulawayo governor Cain Mathema unwittingly confessed to Tibaijuka
that all the people that would not be accommodated in the new structures
would be sent back to their rural areas.
Tibaijuka did not take the
"Rural repatriation does not work and it has never
worked anywhere," she said. "The people are not here (in urban areas)
because they want to be but because they are trying to get a living. Even in
the United States and Japan people move into cities because they want to
work and create small businesses that will help them survive. Zimbabwe is
not an exception to that."
Churches and non-government organisations
dismissed the claims that Operation Murambatsvina was planned as a cover-up
that could only be used by a government that has lost its moral
"The claims were just a cover-up from a system that has
become morally and intellectually bankrupt," said a Roman Catholic priest
who has been actively involved in assisting clean-up victims. "It's a test
case for the UN."
The clergyman said there was no way government could
have planned for this programme, which requires massive resources because it
had no money.
"You can't budget for phantom programmes. If there was such
an exercise on the planning desk it would have been communicated to
stakeholders to come up with a working plan and communication strategy," he
Since the arrival of Tibaijuka on June 26, government initiated a
series of cover-up strategies, launching an unrealistic reconstruction
programme, ordering the removal of the clean-up victims along the route
scheduled for the UN envoy's convoy. Caledonia evictees were moved to Sally
Mugabe Heights, about 25 kilometres off Domboshava Road.
transport operators were diverted from their normal routes to give the
illusion that the transport situation in urban areas was being managed
properly despite swingeing fuel shortages.
All buses plying rural
routes were ordered to service urban routes in return for heavily subsidised
fuel of $1 800. The facility was withdrawn soon after Tibaijuka boarded the
plane on Saturday. Transport blues have returned with a
Mugabe moving towards a 'village democracy' Ray
Matikinye PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's surprise adoption of
Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe constituency in Mashonaland Central as his personal
responsibility as a reward for its unwavering support could spell disaster
for rural constituencies that overwhelmingly rejected Zanu PF in the last
The action can best be interpreted as living up to the threats he
made during the March election campaign in Tsholotsho when he warned
villagers of dire consequences if they voted for independent candidate
Jonathan Moyo or the opposition, MDC.
"If we have Tsholotsho
voting for Moyo where will Tsholotsho be going - isolation or oblivion?" he
Matabeleland as a region has suffered lack of development for
years while Mugabe tried to force the people to abandon their traditional PF
The adoption of a rural constituency other than his former
stamping ground in Highfield could explain the missing link to the recent
clean-up operation and the banishment of a majority of its victims to rural
areas after his total rejection by the urban electorate.
also reveal the idea behind appointing a Minister of Rural Housing and
Amenities alongside a Ministry of Interactive Affairs.
Zanu PF looks
primed to adopt the "Look East" policy in more ways than one. Mugabe, who
has bashed the West for a plethora of problems that Zimbabwe faces, has a
vision of Zimbabwe uninfected by Western bourgeois and imperialist
Passionate about a monolithic one-party state, Mugabe
could be moving in the direction of African essentialist left, popularised
by Tanzanian academic and law professor Issa Shivji.
concept of village democracy as a replacement of Western forms of democracy
could be what the doctor ordered for Mugabe in the face of half a decade of
rejection by the urban electorate.
Stephen Chan, Professor of
International Relations at London University, says Shivji's idealistic
concept rests on the belief that if Africa can rid itself of the legacy that
colonialism brought and renegotiate all links that are now "imperialised",
it could start again. The concept has a strong appeal to
In the book Citizen of Africa Chan says Zanu PF intellectuals
and theoreticians have been selective in appropriating part of this vision.
They follow on this concept that democracy should cascade upwards from
village assemblies forming electoral colleges. "By the time each electoral
college has elected the next above it and the process culminates in the
election of the president, the village peasant will have been left several
Shivji's ideal state has everything to do with
the masses, particularly the rural village-based peasant masses leading the
way to an African form of democracy.
Rural conditions have worked
to Mugabe and his ruling party's advantage in the past. The advantages have
prompted government to pamper chiefs and traditional leaders for their role
as coercing agents. Recently, Policy Implementation minister Webster Shamu
announced the appointment of chiefs for rural towns like
The adoption of a "Look East" policy by Mugabe does not
restrict itself to trade but could be a precursor to adopting ideology as
well in the form of the introduction of village
Essentially, the village assembly, similar in principle
to the town council meeting, is the supreme decision-making body on all
major village affairs in this scheme of things. Village assemblies are
composed either of all adult villagers or of one representative from each
household. But they have rarely been convened.
By 1994, according
to Chinese Ministry of Civil Affairs (Zimba-bwean equivalent of the Rural
Housing and Amenities and Interactive Affairs) reports, about half of all
villages had formed village representative assemblies.
of the village committee is dual and sometimes contradictory. On the one
hand, the village committee is charged with implementing decisions made by
the representative assembly. On the other, it is responsible for publicising
government policies and persuading villagers to follow those policies even
when government policies are not entirely popular. By law, the village
committee is responsible for mediating civil disputes, helping to maintain
social order, and reporting popular opinion and proposals to the
Even the official research arm of the Chinese
Ministry of Civil Affairs recognises that the committee's twofold function
of implementing higher-level policy and responding to village-based
initiatives can be contradictory.
"The village heads lack
authoritative power and village heads often act on behalf of the government,
and cannot give much consideration to the interests of the local community,"
one report says.
Rural development in China has not yet progressed to
the point where the relationship between political and economic development
is evident. For many Chinese, the most important question is whether the
introduction of village democracy in fact staves off rural
President Mugabe's recent move could have been an alternative
to letting seething anger among urban jobless explode, prompting him to
preempt such an event by launching Operation Murambatsvina.
Why Mugabe should go now By Jonathan Moyo PERENNIAL
wisdom from divine revelation and human experience dictates that all earthly
things great or small, beautiful or ugly, good or bad, sad or happy, foolish
or wise must finally come to an end. It is from this sobering reality that
the end of executive rule has finally come for Robert Mugabe who has had his
better days after a quarter of a century in power.
That Mugabe must now
go is thus no longer a dismissible opposition slogan but a strategic
necessity that desperately needs urgent legal and constitutional action by
Mugabe himself well ahead of the presidential election scheduled for March
2008 in order to safeguard Zimbabwe's national interest, security and
One does not need to be a malcontent to see that, after
25 years of controversial rule and with the economy melting down as a direct
result of that rule, Mugabe's continued stay in office has become such an
excessive burden to the welfare of the state and such a fatal danger to the
public interest of Zimbabweans at home and in the diaspora that each day
that goes by with him in office leaves the nation's survival at great risk
while seriously compromising national sovereignty.
If there is
one unified truth among otherwise divided Zimbabweans, a truth now also
ringing true within key governmental and non-governmental centres of
regional, continental and international opinion, it is that the country's
seven-year-old economic recession will worsen as it gets wider and deeper
beyond fuel shortages unless and until there is a far-reaching political
settlement of the five-year-old Zimbabwean leadership question.
what should President Mugabe do? The leader of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai,
says Mugabe should be dragged to the negotiating table by the likes of
presidents Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo and forced to talk a political
settlement with the MDC. But calling for inter-party talks now is really
flogging a dead horse not least because there's really nothing to negotiate
given the depth of "Mutually Assured Demonisation" (Mad) between Zanu PF and
the MDC. No wonder Zanu PF and its government, gloating over reported
divisions within the MDC as if they cannot feel the heat from the ethnic
fires that are burning inside the ruling party, have been quick to dismiss
inter-party talks by reminding Tsvangirai that his party is in parliament
where a lot of talking is done.
On March 18 Trevor Ncube wrote an
incisive analysis of the Zimbabwean predicament ahead of the general
election in this paper which disappointingly concluded that President Mugabe
was needed now as never before as the solution to the crisis gripping the
country and challenged him to appoint able and dynamic deputies to succeed
Mugabe has publicly demonstrated his leadership incapacity to
make way for an able and dynamic successor by succumbing to manipulative
tribal pressure from a clique in his party on November 18, 2004 at a
politburo meeting that unprocedurally and unconstitutionally amended Zanu
PF's constitution to guarantee the imposition and ascendancy of Joice Mujuru
to the vice-presidency three days before the Zanu PF membership was due to
elect a new top leadership and central committee.
real coup whose tribal story has not yet been told took place on the morning
of the same day during which, later in the evening, a coup plot was
allegedly hatched at Dinyane High School in Tsholotsho giving rise to the
so-called Tsholotsho Declaration.
Inter-party negotiations or
appointment of able and dynamic potential successors are no longer viable
options for Mugabe not only because Zimbabwe has now reached a point of no
return to Zanu PF but also because the required critical solution must focus
not just on Mugabe but also, and more importantly, on Zanu PF itself where
there is internal dictatorship, institutionalised patronage and refusal to
This leaves Mugabe with one real option that he must now
exercise: to resign in terms of the constitution of the land and to allow
Zimbabweans to choose a constitutional successor now. The nation is bleeding
and it would be very irresponsible to expect Zimbabweans to wait until 2008
for the presidential election.
The Zanu PF proposal that the next
presidential election should be held in 2010 together with parliamentary
elections due then is pure political madness gone too far all because of the
politics of patronage and must be rejected with all democratic and legal
Apart from the obvious yet very important fact that a
voluntary constitutional resignation to make room for a constitutional
successor now would indelibly guarantee him an honourable legacy and avoid
the risk of looming instability in our country, the following are among
compelling reasons why Mugabe must follow the constitutional exit door by
First, Mugabe is now leader of a shelf political
party that exists only in name even with those seemingly high numbers in
parliament because, in real terms, the hearts and minds of the bulk of its
members have ideologically emigrated to a new all-inclusive third way beyond
current party boundaries, the so-called third force which in fact is a
people's movement, such that Zanu PF membership is now only for strategic
survival purposes in practical and not ideological terms which are
Mugabe could of course reverse this were he to resign now
and give the remaining scattered faithful ones in his party some hope to
inject a new dynamism before time completely runs out with the result of
consigning Zanu PF to the fate suffered by Unip in Zambia, Kanu in Kenya and
the MCP in Malawi.
The rot in Zanu PF smells in government where
the Cabinet has become no better than a status club in which ministerial
positions have no strategic policy value as they have become instruments of
patronage to gain personal access to national resources and the illusion of
power and influence.
This explains why government has now resorted to
ruling through "GBO"
(Government By Operations) led by jittery security
arms, implemented an undeclared state of emergency and roped in the Reserve
Bank to pursue an unprecedented law and order approach to monetary policy in
order to criminalise Zimbabweans, whether as individuals, families or
businesses, to make them insecure and vulnerable to inhuman and barbaric
attacks in the name of restoring order reminiscent of the Gukurahundi
This evil has been dramatised by the destruction of houses and
business properties that has affected the whole nation and invited the
possibility of international intervention to the detriment of our
But the most compelling reasons for Mugabe to resign now
have to do with his own fallen standing in and outside the country. The
prevalence of unkind jokes about him on text messages and the Internet say
it all. Mugabe now lacks the vision, stature and energy to effectively run
the country, let alone his party.
He is without compassion, maybe
because he is now too old, too tired and not in the best of health. His
failure to visit stranded families left homeless and suffering from the
irrational acts of his own government speaks volumes of his cold and cruel
From all discernable indications, Mugabe has lost
influence and is now viewed with suspicion or cynicism or both by his peers
in the Sadc, African Union and across the developing world where he used to
enjoy considerable authority. Of course, Mugabe is still respected as an old
man and he still makes very interesting bombastic speeches that are
applauded for their entertainment value and which are full of sound and fury
but signifying precious little at the level of policy and
Given the foregoing, President Mugabe has no reason
whatsoever to continue in office as that is no longer in his personal
interest and is most certainly not in the national interest. He just must
now go and the fundamental law of the land gives him a decent constitutional
exit that he must take while he is still able to do so to save the nation
and preserve his legacy.
*Prof Moyo is MP for Tsholotsho and
former Information minister.
West should understand African mindset By Charles
Frizell THE current attention that Africa is receiving is very welcome, but I
fear that all the most well-meaning efforts will come to nothing and end in
bitterness and recriminations from both sides.
This is because there
is no understanding whatsoever in the West of African values and mindset.
The values in Africa are fundamentally different from those of the West, or
the east for that matter.
The West is puzzled and angry that South
African president Thabo Mbeki and other leaders do not roundly condemn the
Mugabe dictatorship. Yet to an African it is very obvious. When one member
of a family is criticised by an outsider, the family sticks together. All
Africans share a bitter memory of discrimination and oppression by the
What is most hurtful is the arrogance of the
Europeans who automatically assume their superiority. This is so automatic
that it is often unconscious. We in Africa are considered to be no more than
another species of animal in a vast game reserve.
Africans have been put down and humiliated. It is naïve to think that this
can be forgotten in a handful of years.
Most Africans feel
emotionally insecure due to the way they have been treated in the past. This
applies just as much to presidents and prime ministers as it does to the
common man. This may seem illogical to Europeans because these men and women
have power and success. However, there is always the suspicion that they are
being sniggered at behind their backs. And this is true a lot of the
To be the recipient of aid brings shame, to need aid at all is
equally shameful. In Africa it is also well-known that nearly all the aid
benefits the donor country far more than the recipient. Ailing industries
are given hidden subsidies disguised as aid. We know that when the "project"
ends, so will all back-up. Spare parts will only be available at enormous
cost and local industry will have been crippled or destroyed.
aid workers look down on the local people and consider their postings as
nothing more than a paid holiday - fun in the sun. It is not possible to
give meaningful aid without an intimate knowledge of the country, and the
"we know best what is good for you" attitude is both arrogant and
Africans are also very cynical about the good intentions of
Europeans. We have learned to our cost that expediency and self-interest
have always ruled paramount. We wonder why there is all this talk of aid,
which diminishes us instead of fair trade that would empower us. The
greatest affronts to Africa are trade barriers and subsidies such as the
Common Agricultural Policy.
We do not believe that Europe or America
will make the sacrifice of giving up these protectionist practices, but
until they do so, all the protestations of goodwill will fall on deaf ears.
They will simply not be believed as anything more than patronising
Public criticism of African leaders is very unlikely
to bring any positive results. However, that does not preclude behind the
scenes persuasion of the standard carrot and stick type.
carrot is there in the form of the financial muscle of the West that can
ensure markets for African products and investments in African countries.
The stick is also there. But many in Africa considers Britain as a toothless
bulldog; nothing has changed in decades.
Britain and Europe are
ridiculed because of their hand-wringing and indecisiveness when push comes
to shove. In Africa, we respect power and resolution; we do not respect
weakness and those who simply cry in their beer.
I sincerely hope
that the new focus on Africa will encourage people in Britain and Europe to
try and understand Africa and Africans, and not only understand us, but
treat us as valid human beings.
Many of the dictators we suffer under
were in fact installed by Britain and the other European powers, yet now
these countries distance themselves and say that they are our own
* Charles Frizell is a Zimbabwean who writes from the
Mugabe exit: answer to Zim woes By Chido
Makunike THE single biggest obstacle to solving the rapidly mushrooming
problems that Zimbabwe faces is the continued occupation of the office of
president by Robert Mugabe.
As long as he remains president, Zimbabwe
will continue to be a write-off.
This has been clear for many years, but
many chose not to see this reality.
Now through his own terrible
miscalculation in the last couple of months, this has become so blatantly
obvious that even those who would have liked to continue to admire him find
it difficult to argue the case of their support for him.
many years, almost every imaginable variable of governance has been tried in
an attempt to forestall the steady decline of Zimbabwe. Diametrically
opposed ideologies have been adopted one after the other.
development plans that never came to fruition have been announced and
abandoned. Country after country has been touted as "our saviour" in one
respect or another - all of them to eventually leave on worse terms with
Zimbabwe than at the beginning.
Mugabe and a small ruling clique
have sent this country to wars that were supposed to massively benefit
Zimbabwe if won, but ended up impoverishing and further alienating us from
Many ministers have come and gone, often taking flak
for failed initiatives that should rightfully have been laid at the door of
All these gambits have one thing in common: they all
failed to make any material improvement in the condition of Zimbabwe,
actually leading to an unforgivable fall from the once respectable heights
it commanded among the community of nations.
The one constant as
all these variables were being changed has been Mugabe at the helm of
government. Until this last remaining variable is changed, forget about the
"recovery" of Zimbabwe in any respect.
Not so much anymore, but up
until a few years ago one often heard the argument that it was unfair to
lump responsibility for the failure of a nation on one person. Most of the
time that is a perfectly reasonable and valid argument. But in Zimbabwe
Mugabe has gradually usurped so much power to his person that it is an
argument that does not hold much water.
He also has become so much of
the international public's embodiment of all that is wrong with Africa that
even his initial successes are being re-evaluated. He has so rapidly and
completely undone his own once positive legacy that it is difficult to
imagine that he can ever reclaim his lost glory. He may cling to his
position by military means, but for all practical purposes he is finished -
a spent force, kaput.
In any endeavour involving a group of people,
there must be one person with whom the buck stops, who must accept ultimate
responsibility for the success or failure of the enterprise. For a country
that person must be the head of state.
In Zimbabwe we have had a
situation wherein the head of state does not mind being credited for any
good that was once perceived to have been done by the state, but shirks all
responsibility for the much greater harm the state has done to the nation.
This is a double standard that must not be allowed.
Zimbabwe is in
shambles, and let us not be so cowardly that we beat about the bush and fail
to apportion the final blame where it squarely belongs - on
A good president can be such a powerful positive symbol that
he galvanises a nation to think and act positively. Even if he/she is not
particularly educated, intelligent or knowledgeable in any particular field,
if he positively inspires a critical mass of the citizens of a country, he
helps create a positive energy that can be harnessed to spur huge strides in
politics, in the economy and in development in general. This is what
"greatness" is all about.
Mugabe is the opposite of all these
qualities. He thrives on division and intimidation more than on unity and
motivation. He is more a destroyer than a builder. He seems perfectly
content to be more feared and hated than to be respected and
Until recently, he has always had some facile way of
dismissing his growing band of critics. But with the widespread revulsion
towards him he has recently engendered, even among his last die-hard
admirers, for the shameful scenes of state violence against the most
vulnerable Zimbabweans, all that has changed.
With the seminal
events of particularly the last few months, the struggle for a better
Zimbabwe has qualitatively moved to a significantly different
Just three months after claiming a "landslide victory" in
a parliamentary election, Mugabe, his regime and party have squandered
whatever moral authority they had hoped that claimed victory gave them
before the world. Mugabe has acted more like a person whose party lost the
election than as the genuine victor.
Despite the opposition MDC's
many and increasing weaknesses, Mugabe has inadvertently laid the foundation
for the inevitable eventual emergence of a stronger and broad-based new
opposition to him.
Within his party, despite the widespread cowardice
and self-serving venality that has served as the glue that has held it
together since it lost any defining or guiding ideology, disrespect for him
- indeed disgust with him - is slowly beginning to find public
Zanu PF may be full of thieves and cowards, but many of
them have also been shocked at the undeniable proof of just how cruel and
divorced from the people's interests the organisation they belong to really
The most recent shock to many Zanu PF die-hards has been the
incontrovertible proof of just how internationally isolated Mugabe is. Just
to mention one of the many crises bedevilling us, the unprecedented fuel
shortage has virtually ground any meaningful economic activity to a halt,
and there is no sign at all of a plan on the horizon to deal with
No country is any longer offering to bail out Zimbabwe under
Mugabe, even those few that are touted as our last true great friends. All
economic forecasts and plans can be virtually thrown out of the window on
this basis alone, not to mention all the other things that are
He is all alone, putting Zimbabwe at the mercy of cynical
predator nations quite prepared to rape a country they recognise has very
limited options because of the way its president has boxed himself into a
For a significant number of people, the struggle for a new
Zimbabwe has graduated beyond being simply about one political party being
replaced by another. It has transcended that limited paradigm to become one
of a struggle in which whether one is Zanu PF, MDC or non-partisan, most of
us are now united in recognising what an awful liability the man who
occupies the office of president is to the efforts to get Zimbabwe back on
All the efforts at recovery in the economic, political and
social spheres as well as in just the "soul" of Zimbabwe will come to naught
as long as Robert Gabriel Mugabe remains ruler of this
Mbeki alone in defence of Mugabe By Justice
Malala WHEN South Africa's president Thabo Mbeki and his Nigerian
counterpart, Olusegun Obasanjo, met at the G8 summit in Gleneagles last
week, the warmth between them was unmistakable.
The two have
travelled the world together for more than six years, cajoling, arguing with
and sometimes even shouting at Western leaders to come up with concrete
steps to eradicate African poverty.
At the G8 summits in Genoa,
Italy, and Kananaskis, Canada, they thought they were close to a deal - but
There is no leader on the African continent that
either is closer to. Both
recognise that, as the two most powerful
countries on the continent, the failure of one will be the failure of all
Yet at the Commonwealth summit in late 2003 the
two argued so bitterly that they refused to speak to each
While a majority of Commonwealth countries - with the African
component led by Nigeria - bayed for action against President Mugabe, Mbeki
fought to protect his northern neighbour.
The meeting was
described as the most divisive in the Commonwealth's history. Many,
including Mbeki, said the Zimbabwe issue threatened to split the
Over the past six years Mbeki has been prepared
to jeopardise his most vital political and personal relationships in defence
of Mugabe. Even as police raze shacks in and around Zimbabwe's cities -
leaving hundreds of thousands homeless - he said he would wait for UN
secretary-general Kofi Annan's envoy to finish her
Standing next to him, European Commission president
José Manuel Barroso said he was disappointed by the African Union's
declaration that this was a domestic matter.
"This is a human
rights crisis and human rights are not an internal matter. They should be
the concern of all people, African, Asian and European," said
Mbeki did not flinch. The Sussex-educated president
believes "quiet diplomacy" - a strategy whereby he keeps Mugabe on side to
bring about gradual change - will work.
In more than six years of
"quiet diplomacy" Mugabe has broken every promise he has made to reform.
Another defence Mbeki has used for not condemning Mugabe is that he believes
Zimbabwe's problems were caused by Britain.
In 2003 he complained
that Britain failed to pay a "measly" £9 million for land redistribution.
But Mbeki travels alone.
Civic leaders in South Africa - from Nelson
Mandela to Archbishop Desmond
Tutu to Cosatu, the powerful trade union
congress, opposition parties and even members of Mbeki's cabinet - have
expressed outrage at human rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
his fast-diminishing coterie in the ruling ANC have refused to
Even when senior South African election observers were
beaten up by pro-Mugabe youths in the 2002 election, Mbeki ensured that the
team declared the election free and fair.
In November last year,
after Tutu questioned "quiet diplomacy", Mbeki attacked him as having no
respect for the truth.
On its website the ANC sought to discredit
Tutu, accusing him of having been a struggle hero of the West and white
South Africans - not South Africa's black masses.
Mugabe called Tutu "an angry, evil and embittered little bishop".
Mandela has declared that people like Mugabe "want to die in power because
they have committed crimes".
Cosatu - the country's biggest trade
union federation and an ally of the ANC - has been accused of recklessness
for its Zimbabwe human rights campaign. After being kicked out of the
country on a fact-finding mission last year, secretary-general Zwelinzima
Vavi said: "The New Partnership for Africa's Development (Nepad) will stand
no chance if a government such as Zimbabwe willingly disregards its own laws
in this manner. The continent will go nowhere if its leaders can act with
Mbeki knows this. He knows too that he stands alone in
South Africa on Zimbabwe. The business community, which backed "quiet
diplomacy", now calls on him to speak out. At the centre of this is his
belief that calls for Mugabe's departure are racially-motivated. He will not
be lectured to by the West.
"It is clear some within Zimbabwe and
elsewhere in the world, including our country, are following the example set
by (Ronald) Reagan and his advisers to 'treat human rights as a tool' for
overthrowing the government of Zimbabwe and rebuilding Zimbabwe as they
wish. In modern parlance, this is called regime change," he said in a letter
after the Commonwealth meeting.
In the past few weeks of mass
evictions in Zimbabwe, people have died. More than 1,5 million are homeless.
All are black. Where is Mbeki's solidarity with them?
Malala is a political analyst, journalist and the founding editor of ThisDay
Charge the government under Posa By Denford
Magora THERE is a law in Zimbabwe which most people believe should be
repealed. That law is the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) and its
various legislative sidekicks. But hang on a minute, before we actually
repeal this law, I believe that it should be used one more time.
law has a specific provision for prosecuting those who "spread alarm and
despondency" amongst Zimbabweans. This clause is what someone should use to
sue the Zimbabwe government. Our government's behaviour on the economic
front (and specifically the fuel crisis which they should have seen coming a
long time ago) is indeed spreading alarm and despondency within the ranks of
the population. Their silence on whether a plan even exists to sort out the
fuel problem once and for all has seen Zimbabweans from all walks of life
dejected and despondent.
Their government does not seem to know
what to do. This situation is comparable to a father who fails to provide
basic food, shelter and clothing for his family. When asked by his helpless
children what is going to happen to them, the father says that he was fired
by so-and-so and therefore, so-and-so is to blame for the predicament that
the family finds themselves in.
Those at the front of the battle
against our economic problems seem to have thrown up their hands. Ministers,
the ruling party and all of government are now holding aloft the white flag
How else are we supposed to see Justice minister
Patrick Chinamasa's comment in parliament recently? Asked when the current
economic crisis (specifically the fuel problem that has made a joke out of
public transport and is committing economic genocide within the ranks of the
country's business community) would end, the minister blandly admitted that
he had no clue. Instead he offered the now tired excuse of sanctions as the
reason why his government is in office but not in power. And the nation is
supposed to accept this? It would be idiotic to take that
I, amongst other Zimbabweans, have all along held the
view that, covertly, the country is being de-campaigned and there is the
Zimbabwe Democracy Bill in the United States that actually forbids any
extension of credit to Zimbabwe by the IMF even if the country settles its
debt tomorrow. True, pictures painted of a wanton murder of white people in
the country discourage tourism and investment in business. Still, the
government that has raised all of this hell for Zimbabwe on the
international scene refuses to resign.
My view has been that this
is fine if that government continues to get elected into power as happened
in March this year (putting aside the somewhat jaded accusations of
ballot-stuffing). By refusing to bow out, the government is saying that it
can fix the mess that it got us into.
We took this to mean that the
government was determined to make a concerted effort to right the economy,
provide housing as well as an environment in which more jobs can be created.
In other words, Zanu PF and Mugabe have all along led the nation to believe
that they are capable of turning this country around. Because I will not be
told who to vote for in my country by some drooling imbecile in the United
Kingdom, I chose to give them the benefit of the doubt. The nation, in
effect, gave Zanu PF a long rope in the belief that the party in government
was actually committed to seeing the economic crisis come to an
We were all misled, as evidenced by the current meltdown which
is threatening the very foundation of Zimbabwe's
Chinamasa's comments in parliament are telling in several
respects. First, this man, who also happens to be "Leader of the House"
essentially told the nation that his government has neither the resources
nor the wits to overcome the "illegal sanctions" imposed upon the country.By
virtue of his statement, he has told the country that his party and
government cannot get the nation out of the mess we face. His government
does not have any idea how or when the fuel crisis will come to an end. This
is an admission of failure which should make us ask just why Zanu PF insists
on clinging to power when it is acknowledging that it has no idea how to end
the suffering of the people it lied to in order to get
Lied, yes, because the ruling party spoke about an
economic turnaround when they sought the people's mandate at the last
election. Zanu PF spoke as if it had the solutions to the economic problems
facing us. Now the party is plainly admitting that it cannot solve our
economic problems. Instead, the president and his party are now saying that
our fate is in Morgan Tsvangirai's hands. He asked for the sanctions, they
tell us, and he should go back and ask for them to be
What utter nonsense! Even if Tsvangirai was to go and ask the
IMF, World Bank, America and Britain to remove the "sanctions", do Zanu PF
and the president truly believe that British premier Tony Blair and US
president George Bush would oblige?
Of course not. Rightly or
wrongly, fairly or unfairly, Zimbabwe will not get any relief from the
outside world no matter what. There is absolutely nothing that Mugabe and
Zanu PF can do, short of resigning, that will see this country being welcome
back into the corridors of Washington or London. This is something everyone,
including street kids, know to be true.
So, if the government's
position is that they need the West after all and that the West should lift
the sanctions to enable the government to do its job, then this is a basic
admission that there is no end in sight to our problems.
the nation has to ask, can spread despondency better than that? What could
possibly alarm the population more than hearing their own government say
that it has no plans to end the fuel crisis and the economic decline that
erodes people's paycheques before they even receive them?
Does it not
follow then that this government is in breach of Posa?
GOVERNMENT clearly is unable to learn from its own experiences.
The only time, during the last 15 years, that there was a continuing decline
in Zimbabwe's rate of inflation was from 1994 to 1997, when the state
belatedly pursued its Economic Structural Adjustment Programme
The principal characteristic of Esap was economic deregulation,
and that characteristic was fundamental to the upturn enjoyed by the economy
during those three years. However, in late 1997 government succumbed to the
pressures of the war veterans, undertaking to give them lump-sum
compensation payments, assuming an unsustainable fiscal commitment. Doing
so, compounded by a foolhardy commencement of an extremely destructive
programme of land reform, motivated government to abandon the fundamentals
of Esap, which had been incorporated in a successor economic programme,
styled the Zimbabwe Programme of Economic and Social Transformation
It needed to do so in order to have something to blame
for the inevitable reversal of the economic upturn. That was necessary in
order to deflect blame from itself, and since then Esap has been the
recurrent "whipping boy" of the government, allegedly responsible for the
pronounced economic collapse (alongside the British government in general,
and Tony Blair in particular, aided and abetted by George Bush!)
fact that Esap had successfully placed the economy upon a path towards
recovery was irrelevant, just as the allegations against the international
community were - and continue to be - spurious.
Government had never
been committed to Esap, notwithstanding that it had itself constructed that
programme. It could not be committed to anything which ran counter to
authoritarianism, for it was (and still is) imbued by an absolute addiction
to the concepts of total control.
Having been forced by pressure to
commit limited, inadequate state resources to war veterans (actual and
pseudo), which would result in massive fiscal deficits, which would fuel
inflation, which would trigger economic decline, government needed
scapegoats, and Esap was very suited to that purpose. An immediate and
continuing consequence was that once again economic regulation became the
order of the day and, as the economic decline progressively worsened, so the
extent of regulation has intensified.
With inflation once again upon an
upward spiral, the regulatory focus is once again directed towards price
controls, despite the many negative and adverse consequences that they had
occasioned in the past.
In June, the secretary for Industry and
International Trade, Rtd Colonel Christian Katsande said that government
would not accept prices of goods increasing beyond 10% (although he did not
specify the frequency at which such increases could be made!)
government was "meeting with stakeholders ... to formulate new prices for
basic commodities and see how we can control prices of other goods and at
He continued that government was aware "of some unscrupulous
retailers" who would effect "shocking price increases" for various goods and
transport services, and that such "illegal pricing" would not be
To reinforce this stance, he said: "For example, there is no
good reason to increase on old stock of clothes, furniture, electrical
gadgets and other food stuffs that are already on the
However, there is often a good reason that he completely
overlooked, and that is that whilst the cost of "old stock" does not
increase, operating costs do, and must be recovered through selling prices,
failing which the business must fail. Salaries and wages have, in the main,
been rising quarterly, rentals often rise on a quarterly or half-yearly
basis, electricity and communication charges have been increasing regularly,
and similarly other overheads have been surging upwards. Thus, even when
stocks are old, prices must nevertheless be increased.
policy of curbing price increases by regulation, instead of by measures that
contain inflation, was similarly stated last month, at a ZNCC seminar, by
the deputy Minister of Industry and International Trade, Phineas Chihota. He
stated: "Prices of basic commodities have continued to rise to unaffordable
levels, hence the government has to come in full force and fulfil one of its
major roles, that is to protect the viability of industry whilst, on the
other hand, protecting the consumers."
He continued: "The importance of
basic commodities to the livelihood of the majority of Zimbabweans had
prompted government to control and monitor the prices of such goods as maize
meal, wheat, flour and bread."
The fixation with price controls also
motivated the Minister of Industry and International Trade Obert Mpofu to
state last week that government would not tolerate any price increases
greater than 10%. He did not, however, endeavour to reconcile that
percentage with the month-on-month inflation rate for May, (being the last
released rate) of 13,1%! Government is determined to demonstrate to the
electorate how deeply caring it is, and how it is striving to protect the
populace from the avaricious stratagems of industrialists, wholesalers and
retailers who, incredibly, do their utmost to assure the survival of their
economically embattled businesses.
But in doing so, government
recurrently disregards two economic fundamentals. The first is that none are
disposed towards trading at prices which result in losses and, therefore, if
they cannot attain the prices that viability requires, they discontinue
producing or selling the relevant products. That applies whether it is
that the required prices are ones which customers are not prepared to pay,
or are maximum prices imposed by government. In either event, the products
cease to be available.
That brings the second fundamental into play.
Shortages become the norm! Product scarcities become more and more
pronounced. And, if the products concerned are essentials, then a black
market in those products soon develops, and the populace can only obtain
those essentials at very much higher prices.
The day Moyo's armour got a
piercing HOW time flies. It is now three-and-a-half months since the
election. So you would naturally suppose Zanu PF and all those celebrating
its "crushing" victory would have had time to fulfil promises made to the
electorate. For example, what has happened to the following promises
published in the last week of the campaign: "An end to sanctions"; "No
disruption to fuel supplies"; "Faster economic turnaround"; and "More
In any normal democracy the opposition and the media
would be haunting the president and his ministers with questions about those
broken promises, just as they would be asking Mugabe why he appointed
Emmerson Mnangagwa, Sithembiso Nyoni, and Amos Midzi to office when they had
failed to win seats - contrary to his assurances that electoral failures
would not be accommodated.
But in Zimbabwe we assume that Zanu PF
will make promises it has no intention of keeping and we therefore let them
off the hook. We even had Patrick Chinamasa stand up in parliament last week
and tell the House there was no end in sight to our fuel woes until
sanctions are lifted.
"Until political isolation is terminated we will
continue to face these challenges," he said, using the buzzword "challenges"
Would Jonathan Moyo have ever permitted this collective
clueless-ness by ministers?
What Muckraker wants to know is why
Mugabe keeps telling the state media how grateful he is that everybody is
backing Zimbabwe and not listening to the UK, US or EU, when there is
nothing to show for the support he is supposedly getting. Why doesn't Libya
translate its supposed support into fuel? Where are the Iranians whose new
president was so warmly backed by Harare? What has happened to Malaysia's
Petronas? Where are Venezuela's oil tankers?
None of them are headed this
Then there is the non-existent investment inflows. What happened to
that great South-South deal with YTL over Hwange? A whole Zesa board was
fired for saying it wasn't in the national interest. But the president
ploughed ahead. Where are the Indonesian millions after one of their
nationals found his ostrich farms expropriated?
Now the Chinese will
save us. Let's wait and see. Looking East when the East is looking West is
There was a funny little article by Munyaradzi Huni
in the Sunday Mail last weekend quoting Gideon Gono as saying he had never
applied for a New Zealand visa. This was in response to reports from
Wellington that he would be denied a visa to visit the land of the long
white cloud where a Homelink team had been expected.
It was all
"Internet fiction", Gono scoffed.
So Muckraker decided to seek
clarification from the New Zealand government. And the response was as
follows: "The Prime Minister said in a press interview after last Monday's
Cabinet meeting (July 4) that a Reserve Bank team headed by Gono would not
be welcome in New Zealand. Applications from lower level officials (eg a RBZ
team minus Gono) will continue to be considered on a case-by-case
Clear enough Munyaradzi?
Then there was the piece by the
Herald's political editor claiming that an AP story about Vladimir Putin
emanated from Andrew Lloyd, Southern African division desk officer at the
FCO. The Herald branded Lloyd a "spy" but then revealed that its political
masters had been spying on him.
We had "diplomatic sources" telling us
that "a government official" had confronted Lloyd with the claim that he was
the source of the AP report on Putin denouncing Mugabe. It had been traced
to his computer, we were led to believe.
Lloyd was reported as
begging for mercy in what looked suspiciously like Herald
Would a desk officer at the FCO in all seriousness ask: "How did
you get hold of secrets to my prime minister" and then "plead" with the
official not to make his findings public?
It was always a standing
joke in our newsroom that whenever the Sunday Mail quoted some MDC official
as denouncing his own party, the official would always sound like a Sunday
Mail reporter. Now we have the same thing with the Herald. The conversation
with Lloyd, we can be sure, was pure fiction.
And why does the political
editor pretend that he got the story from a "diplomatic source" when it was
handed to him by the same government official cited in the
Meanwhile, the state media has been blaming the MDC for "jamming"
the courts with electoral petitions, thus frustrating the electoral process
by causing delays in the hearing of cases.
So it's the MDC that has
been causing delays in the hearing of electoral cases is it? And what about
the cases stemming from 2000 and 2002? What were the obstacles
We hear that Jonathan Moyo is now moving around with a UZ
rent-a-crowd. They were very evident at the Ambassador Hotel meeting last
Thursday where they cheered Johno's every word and barracked John Makumbe
when he spoke. But that didn't stop Makumbe from piercing Moyo's armour with
a well-aimed shot.
"If he was offered a job by Mugabe tomorrow he would
take it," Makumbe blasted. "And he would be twice as vicious as
Moyo appeared somewhat deflated after that!
spokesman George Charamba appears to believe there is some prospect of
Zimbabwe rejoining the Commonwealth following talks in Sirte between
President Mugabe and Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo. He was quoted in
the Herald as saying Zimbabwe did not want to return to the group of former
British colonies because of the "very bad and unfair experience" Zimbabwe
had in 2003.
It will be recalled that Mugabe desperately tried to attend
the Abuja Chogm but was barred by Obasanjo on the grounds that the country's
suspension was still in force. Then, once President Mbeki had failed to end
Zimbabwe's suspension, Mugabe withdrew in a huff.
Charamba needs to
be told that there is no prospect of Zimbabwe being invited to rejoin,
whatever Obasanjo might suggest. Zimbabwe does not meet the basic conditions
of the Harare Declaration of 1991 which is why it was suspended in the first
place. Why is it "unfair" to require a member to adhere to the conditions it
has signed up to?
What Muckraker doesn't understand is why, if this is an
"effete club" and of "no material value", as Charamba says, did Mugabe do
everything within his power to remain a member? As for leaving the
Commonwealth "for good", that will be up to a future government to decide,
Finally, if the Herald decides to reprint articles from the
Mail & Guardian, it might be a good idea to include the last
John Vidal wrote approvingly of Operation Murambatsvina: "Last year
250 homeless Zimbabweans, members of the Federation of Slum and Shack
Dwellers, negotiated the provision of land from the city
"They have now planned the layout of their community, worked
out the cost of the homes and are ready to build. Where are they?
In the Herald version the word "Harare" is missing, so the story
ends: "Where are they?"
What is the significance of this
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono had no kind words for
operators in the tourism sector. He accused them of keeping foreign currency
in their "drawers" instead of surrendering it to him.
But that was
not all. They were also accused of "wasting the Victoria Falls. That's
criminal and that's vandalism and we cannot afford to do that at this time,"
He was angry that the Victoria Falls was being "marketed as
if it belongs to other countries" while the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority was
"sleeping behind the steering wheel".
What Gono probably doesn't know
is that Zimbabwe has become a hard sell regardless of however one tries to
package it. Operation Murambatsvina is not the best advertisement to lure
tourists. In case he wasn't aware, even South African Airways has cut the
number of flights to Victoria Falls in favour of Livingstone just across the
Zambezi River in Zambia. That just goes to show how bad things are for any
business in this country.
s it Zupco or China promoting the
zhing zhong buses? This week the Sunday Mail ran a story ostensibly to
debunk claims that buses purchased from China are of poor quality and
generally unreliable. The paper sponsored its reporters to ride on the buses
to different destinations around the city.
The crew was impressed. "The
buses are of international standard and quality and the seats are
comfortable much as they are economical wise," enthused one of the crew
We are curious to know what is meant by "international standard
and quality". What other imported buses did they ride on we
Commenting on claims that the sumps for the buses were too low
and so the buses had problems going over speed humps, the writer took a few
pot shots at our road engineers.
"It seemed evident," he wrote, "that
what was needed was a road network to fit the buses not the other way
round." He said the roads in high density suburbs "are not fit for this
century and age. Our road engineers are so overzealous that even some small
private cars have the same problems" going over the speed humps.
advice for city planners. They must redesign our roads to suit Chinese
buses, not the other way round.
We were interested to read Caesar
Zvayi's interview with Energy minister Mike Nyambuya in which the ex-soldier
declared he wasn't "appointed to resign". What has been remarkable about the
minister since his appointment is his capacity for enigmatic silence. In the
early days of the fuel crisis we assumed that as a military man, President
Mugabe wanted someone who could deliver, and less of a motormouth. We were
wrong. He doesn't talk and he doesn't deliver. Nobody appears to know what
is being done to alleviate the deepening crisis.
But surely what is
the point of being a minister if not to serve the nation? Nyambuya is doing
nothing of the sort, yet he wants to cling on to his sinecure. His reason is
that there are shortages of bread and other commodities and yet the
ministers responsible are not being asked to resign.
Meanwhile, what has
become of Gono's pledge that the fuel crisis would "soon be a thing of the
past"? What economic turnaround can we expect when thousands of workers
spend so many man-hours in fuel queues or at bus terminuses every morning
trying to get to work?
At least Enos Chikowore was man enough to admit
failure and quit.
Muckraker this week stumbled upon a magazine calling
itself Zimbabwe Travel. It's a curious title considering how travelling has
become such a tricky undertaking which involves lots of planning. But that
is beside the point.
In the magazine was an article on the death by
hanging of those valiant revolutionaries, Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi.
The two were sentenced to hang on April 27 1898 in Salisbury.
were being dragged to be hanged on the Musasa tree along Tongogara Avenue,
writes Diana Ganya, "eyewitnesses say the two broke into revolutionary songs
and dance, furiously kicking and punching despite being in leg-irons and
Dear reader, you have to choose what to believe. Either you
take it as the stuff of myths and legends or that the prison guards in
colonial times were not as vicious as they are today. In free Zimbabwe once
you are in leg-irons they make sure you cannot lift your leg, let alone
execute a "furious" kick or punch. We hope they are not teaching our
children these fables. It would also be interesting to know what century the
"eyewitnesses" belong to.
From myth to reality, we hear Zvayi this week
nearly broke a female colleague's neck with a Mike Tyson kind of blow. Never
mind the cause of the fracas, we are told Zvayi did not take kindly to being
reminded that he was only a teacher laying claim to journalism, and he did
what he would predictably have done with a student challenging his authority
in the classroom.
We hear the attack was so vicious it shocked most
female colleagues who had gotten inured to shock by the excesses of
Murambatsvina. They allegedly wanted to cover his head with their petticoats
and only the timely intervention of PD appears to have saved Zvayi the
PD has promised a commission of inquiry and
disciplinary action to avoid the issue turning into a gender bashing
It's never a good idea to fight colleagues at work. It's worse
when that workmate is a woman. Were the police informed of this brutal
assault on a hapless woman by a bullying pugilist who confuses the newsroom
for a boxing ring and takes women for punch-bags? Let the law take its