Inflation in Zimbabwe is 9m%, a Z$50bn note is worth just 17p - the cost of
a single egg - and there is more than 80% unemployment. How are ordinary
people coping with this disastrous economic meltdown? Chris McGreal reports
Friday July 18, 2008
They call them the "walking clubs", and Grace Sibanda is an involuntary
member. Each working day, the 36-year-old shop assistant rises before dawn
in Dzivaresekwa township to the west of Harare, slips out of her tiny home
without waking the three children who share her bed, and makes her way to
the clusters of people gathered at the roadside. When there are enough of
them - a few dozen usually - they set off on the three-hour walk to work in
the city centre.
"We are lucky to have jobs but the bus fare in one day is more than I earn
in a week. So we walk," she says. "We walk together because it's not safe.
They wait in the bushes by the road and attack you if you are alone. They
don't want money. We don't have any. They want my food." Sibanda holds up a
plastic bag with her lunch of fruit and vegetables. Bread long ago became an
"No one believes what has happened to our country. Now we talk of prices in
billions of [Zimbabwe] dollars and people are asking what comes after
trillions. They laugh about it but we know it's not funny. People are dying.
I wonder how long I will be able to feed my children."
Around Harare, in the dark of the cold winter mornings, the walking clubs
can be found setting off. But the numbers have been falling as jobs
disappear under the barrage of hyperinflation - currently estimated to be
about 9m% but predicted to hit 100m% within three months - and a currency
devaluing so fast that banknotes issued just a few months ago are now not
worth enough to buy a single sheet of toilet paper.
That is, if toilet paper could even be found in the empty supermarkets.
Zimbabwe's economic and political crisis has wormed its way in to almost
every aspect of everyday life as people spend their days struggling with
intermittent power supplies and water shortages, or waiting hours in queues
for bread or cash. Many schools and hospitals barely function as teachers
and nurses flee to South Africa in search of a salary that can feed their
families back home. And deep in some rural areas, Zimbabweans are saying
that starvation is taking hold for the first time in living memory.
Zimbabweans used to feel sorry for their war-blighted neighbours in
Mozambique, who were forced to cross the border to buy the most basic goods.
Now queues of Zimbabweans, black and white, line up at the checkout tills in
Chomoio, across the Mozambican frontier, loaded down with bread, flour and
tinned foods because the supermarkets at home are all but empty.
Zimbabweans also used to laugh at Zambia's currency, the kwacha, as Monopoly
money. Nowadays, in Victoria Falls on their own side of the border,
Zimbabweans are using kwacha as a hard currency, while the Zimbabwean dollar
loses half its value every few days.
In August 2006, Zimbabwe's central bank issued a one cent note. In May this
year, it issued a $50bn note. At the time it was worth about £2; now it is
just 17p, and that won't be for long. Meanwhile, an advert in yesterday's
Harare Herald newspaper trumpeted that this week's Lotto bonanza is "$1.2
quadrillion" in prizes (£2,100, and not for long either).
Inflation means hourly price rises while wages - for those lucky enough to
have a job in a country with more than 80% unemployment and industry
virtually at a standstill - lag far behind. Sibanda earned $150bn last
month. Police officers and teachers made about the same. At the time, it was
enough to buy 20 eggs or about 10kg of maize on the black market.
Increasingly people are getting by on one meal a day and praying that they
don't get sick. Few can afford to go to hospital. In any case, they rarely
have drugs or staff, as so many of the doctors and nurses have fled abroad
in search of a living.
In one of Harare's upmarket suburbs, Ishmael Dube is having to sell off the
trappings of his life, despite a long history of close association with
President Robert Mugabe's government. Testament to this are the two
government-issued identity cards carried by the warm, if pensive,
60-year-old. One says he is a "Liberation War Hero". Dube took up arms
against white rule in 1966 at the age of 18. He was captured by the
Rhodesian army a year later and served 15 years in jail as a "terrorist".
The other says he is a former staff member of Mugabe's presidential office.
After independence in 1980, Dube became an intelligence officer on Mugabe's
staff and then went on to a diplomatic career, serving in Europe and
Washington. He retired a decade ago and lived comfortably enough on two
pensions. No more. This month his war veteran's pension brought him $109bn
(currently worth about 37p) and the other, for his government service,
With that he is expected to feed his wife and seven daughters. He also has
to pay for four of his daughters to go to university, two to go to primary
school and the seventh to board at a secondary school. "I can buy a bucket
of maize with my pensions. That keeps us going for about five days. So how
can we survive?" he asks. Dube is doing what so many Zimbabweans - from the
once well-off to the poor - have to do these days: hawking his possessions
Dube retired as a diplomat owning two cars. He brought three television sets
back from Washington. In the 90s, like many in Zimbabwe's rising black
middle class, he accumulated the goods and chattels that flow from a
comfortable income. Now most of them are gone.
"I've sold the two cars to pay for the girls to go to university. First one
car two years ago, then the other. I don't have a vehicle any more. Then
I've been selecting certain household items to sell. I used to have three TV
sets. I sold two. I sold the washing machine. Last month I sold my radio
stereo to another parent at my daughter's school, Queen Elizabeth, for
$1trn," he said.
"I owe the school $1.2trn in fees but I had to use some of the money to buy
food so I'm trying to negotiate with them to pay $500bn monthly." But the
school wants the money now because at 9m% inflation it is virtually
worthless in a month.
Dube at least has something to sell. Retired people across Zimbabwe have
seen their pensions wiped out by inflation and increasing numbers live on
handouts from organisations such as Save Our Ageing Pensioners. Sometimes
the elderly looked after by local women paid a comparative fortune - £75 a
month - by relatives abroad. Mugabe calls them BBCs: British Bum Cleaners.
Dube wants to meet in the Wimpy at what had been one of Harare's most
upmarket shopping malls, the Westgate complex. It was built with South
African money a decade ago and attracted boutiques and bookshops. Most are
closed now. Dube wants to order chips but the waitress says there aren't
any. No hamburgers, either, despite the luridly coloured menu on the table
offering the usual meat-filled buns. Instead she lays down a worn photocopy
of typed offerings. The list includes pig's trotters and knuckle bones at
$90bn a dish.
"A lot of us have been diagnosed with high blood pressure," says Dube. "It's
not surprising. We've been relying on beer for stress management - a drink
or two a night. But beer last week was $10bn a quart. This week it was $20bn
on Monday (July 7). On Wednesday it was $40bn and now it is $60bn. So this
thing we have been using as stress management is beyond our reach. That is
very bad." By yesterday, beer was $150bn a quart.
Many people, Dube says, have found themselves forced to become black market
traders. "More or less every family finds it imperative to have a vendor,"
he says. Walking long distances into the countryside to buy food to resell
in the towns is one way of trading. People used to be too scared to disobey
the law requiring maize growers to sell their crops to the state-run Grain
Marketing Board at a predetermined price, but these days hunger often
"The maize is coming in to the city direct from the few farms able to
harvest," says Dube. "You see people on the roads. They walk 30km carrying
50kg of maize. They buy it at $30bn and sell it at $250bn. A lot of people
are doing that. Not only maize but beans and vegetables."
Sibanda's mother is among them. The shop assistant cannot survive on her pay
alone so she gives it to her mother who travels back to her rural village to
buy vegetables. She brings them back to the city and sells them, along with
cooking oil by the cup, on a stall she has set up on a few planks of wood
and bricks in Dzivaresekwa.
"We make more money from selling the vegetables than I earn but I don't want
to give up my job - I may never get another one," Sibanda says. "My money
used to be enough to pay for everything - food, clothes, school. We could
afford to take bus trips to places. Now we don't go anywhere we can't walk."
Even for those with money, shopping is a logistical nightmare. The first
problem is to get hold of cash. The central bank cannot print it fast enough
to keep up with demand. But neither does anyone want to hold on to it very
long when prices are rising by the hour. So there is a merry-go-round of
cash in which people queue for hours to draw their allotted $100bn (36p)
limit from the bank each day but then spend it as fast as possible before it
loses what little value it has. It is still possible to write a cheque, but
shops demand that they are made out for twice as much as the bill, because
cheques lose half their value while clearing.
Zimbabwe has a fairly advanced electronic banking system so it is possible
to bypass the cash shortage by using a debit card. But the limits on
individual transactions mean a basket full of groceries requires the card to
be swiped dozens of times to pay the bill. Some supermarkets have staff
standing full-time at the card machines and queues of customers lining up to
Other supermarkets have no such problem because they have nothing to sell.
Smaller shops with government connections, such as Spar, import many of
their goods from South Africa and sell them well above the price-controlled
rate. But the larger chains - such as TM and OK - are closely watched by the
authorities and can no longer afford to sell at official prices that are a
fraction of the real cost. Their shelves are bare except for locally
produced vegetables and cleaning fluids. Even the baked beans factory has
closed down. Last week, the government accused both chains of conspiring to
make "regime change" by starving people, and ordered them to stock their
shelves or face their businesses being seized. When the owners protested
that they could not afford to import goods that they were then only
permitted to sell at prices substantially below cost, officials said that
unless the shelves were filled within a week the state would take over.
Those with hard currency - South African rand or US dollars - are
increasingly drawn to underground supermarkets set up in warehouses.
Shopping is by appointment, and customers are screened to ensure they won't
blow the whistle. It is a criminal offence to accept foreign currency in
payment but in recent weeks some businesses have thrown caution to the wind.
Restaurants even price in what they call "units", a euphemism for US
dollars. Petrol at garages can be bought only with US dollars after drastic
fuel shortages forced the government to accept that was the only way Shell
and BP would bring it into the country. And increasingly, rents and salaries
in private firms are pegged to the American dollar.
Much of the foreign currency comes from the 4 million Zimbabweans -
one-third of the population - who have gone abroad for work. Most are in
South Africa but some estimates say there are 1 million in Britain. The cash
they send back to their families has now replaced tobacco as Zimbabwe's
single largest source of foreign earnings.
These foreign remittances mean there are enough people with money to buy
what Dube has to sell. "There are people who refurbish cars and sell them to
people with relatives overseas who have money to send back. They are in the
UK or South Africa. They get money from the sons and daughters. They even
buy houses," he says. Zimbabwe's property market is buoyant because exiles
are buying up houses in Harare from people desperate for foreign currency.
There is also a form of vulture capitalism, with foreign investors realising
that industrial property can be snapped up for far below its real value.
The collapse of their country is all the more shocking for many Zimbabweans
because it has been so sudden. Nigeria, and what was then Zaire under the
tutelage of Mobutu Sese Seko, slid into decay over three decades as their
wealth was diverted to the pockets of an elite indifferent to the plight of
those they ruled. Infrastructure, education, health care and jobs crumbled
away. In parts of Zaire, the only people who had ever seen a car were the
elderly. Zimbabwe, by contrast, was on the up. Its education system was
arguably the best in Africa, a growing black middle class took root and
aspirations flourished, sometimes being realised.
The remnants of those times are still here. The ballet performs and Harare
sports club continues with cricket on Saturday afternoon. The horses at
Borrowdale race course compete for $100trn prize money (value on the day,
£500) in the Air Zimbabwe Handicap and Republic Cup. At first glance, little
seems to have changed: the jockeys parade in colours, a smartly turned out
army band strikes up between races. But the signs of erosion are everywhere.
The dress code in the owners' bar has fallen away. Entry is open to anyone
with enough money for a beer, US dollars welcome. The minimum bet is Z$20bn.
After the races, punters return to homes with no power and water. Some
Harare suburbs haven't had water in three months. Swimming pools are now
There is every sign the situation will get worse. Food has been in even
shorter supply since the government banned foreign aid organisations from
working in rural areas - a move that appeared to be an attempt to keep
outside witnesses away from Zanu-PF's campaign of terror against the voters
in this year's elections. Now people are beginning to starve.
The UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that Zimbabwe will this
year produce only about a quarter of the grain it needs to feed its people.
The numbers being treated for malnutrition in hospitals have doubled in
recent months. About 5 million people are expected to need food aid.
Yet so far, there has not been any of the popular protest - either against
the economic crisis or the stolen election - that has hit other African
countries at such times, most recently in Kenya. "A lot of people regard
Zimbabweans as docile," says Dube. "But there's docility based on
intelligence that says if there's a chance to survive there is no point in
risking your life. But people have their backs against the wall and they are
wondering if they can survive.
"It's firefighting. Us and them: ordinary people and the government. No one
has a plan. We're all just firefighting to get through each day".
Friday, 18 July 2008 05:54 UK
South African President Thabo Mbeki is set to meet African Union chief Jean Ping in the latest bid to resolve Zimbabwe's political crisis.
The pair are expected to discuss ways of brokering a power-sharing agreement between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Mr Tsvangirai is reportedly waiting to see what the talks yield before agreeing to deal with Mr Mugabe.
Zimbabwe's leaders are under increasing pressure to reach an agreement.
A memorandum of understanding setting out the conditions for talks on a possible power-sharing agreement was expected to be signed this week.
But Mr Tsvangirai has not yet signed it.
His party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has set several conditions for talks, including the end of government-backed violence it says has killed 120 of its supporters.
It also wants Mr Tsvangirai's victory in the first round of the presidential vote on 29 March to be officially accepted.
MDC spokesman Nqobizita Mlilo said the party's demands had not yet been met.
"We want to see the outcome of the meeting between Mr Ping and President Mbeki... and then we will take it from there," he said on Thursday.
Mr Mbeki was appointed by regional grouping the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to mediate in Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis last year.
But critics say his discreet diplomatic approach has favoured Mr Mugabe.
It is thought his talks with Mr Ping in Pretoria could result in an African Union envoy being appointed to assist in the mediation efforts.
By Peter Clottey
18 July 2008
Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is reportedly calling on South
Africa's President Thabo Mbeki to ensure a speedy and robust mediation
process to resolve Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis. Annan who made
the call on behalf of a group of elders statesman world leaders including
Nelson Mandela, Jimmy Carter and Desmond Tutu adds that there was need to
end what he describes as Zimbabwe's governance crisis to end the suffering
of the ordinary people.
His call was contained in a speech after he was conferred with an honorary
doctorate in literature and philosophy yesterday at the University of South
Africa in Pretoria. From Cape Town, political analyst Herman Hanekom tells
reporter Peter Clottey that although Annan's call is pragmatic, it would be
difficult for Mbeki to implement.
"I think it is very realistic to a degree, but if we look at the past, prior
to 27 June presidential elections, the MDC (Zimbabwe's main opposition
Movement for Democratic Change) has called for the African Union to appoint
a co-mediator to function alongside Thabo Mbeki as mediator in the Zimbabwe
crisis. And there is enough cause and reason to support MDC calls because
Mbeki has not been 100 percent neutral. But if Mbeki wants to make the goal
point, he must accept, let's say, one of the eminent African negotiators,
one of the past presidents to be brought into the process with him. If he
(President Mbeki) believes he was neutral, prove the MDC to have been
incorrect," Hanekom pointed out.
He said it would be difficult for President Mbeki to be significantly
influenced by the group of elders to resolve Zimbabwe's crisis.
"I do not believe they can influence them (Zimbabwe rivals), but I do
firmly believe that they can be a major broker component in the process
because those elders are not idiots. They are people who have suffered. They
are people who have been insulted through history, and they know what
running around the block is about. And I think it is a very important note
to be taken of the positive input those elders can bring into the process,"
Hanekom said statements from President Mbeki and South Africa's ruling
African National Congress (ANC) party have shown rifts within the party's
rank and file.
"The bone of contention in this case is that the African National Congress,
the governing party in South Africa, is divided between two factions in a
basic process. And I think within the two factions, we will find, like in
Zimbabwe, MDC and ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe's ruling party), we will find smaller
factions. But in South Africa, we have the situation that we have the
African National Congress with Jacob Zuma as the leader of the party's
faction, and we have Thabo Mbeki as the leader of the governing section, in
conflict with one another. And that bodes evil for both South Africa itself,
as well as the negotiation process, the mediation process in Zimbabwe,"
New York Sun
By MARIAN TUPY | July 18, 2008
What do authoritarian regimes like China, Libya, Russia, Vietnam, and a
democracy like South Africa have in common? Their representatives voted
against an arms embargo on Robert Mugabe's regime in Zimbabwe during the
recent U.N. Security Council meeting in New York. The South African vote,
which will allow Mr. Mugabe's generals to go on procuring weapons they need
to complete the destruction of their domestic opponents, is as shocking as
it is hypocritical. After all, the South African government claims to have a
foreign policy with a strong moral dimension.
Nelson Mandela, the leader of the African National Congress who was later to
become South Africa's president, sketched out his country's future foreign
policy in the November/December 1993 issue of Foreign Affairs. It would, he
wrote, recognize "that issues of human rights are central to international
relations" and "that just and lasting solutions to the problems of humankind
can only come through the promotion of democracy worldwide."
It is quite shocking, therefore, that Mr. Mandela's successor, Thabo Mbeki,
decided to defend the Zimbabwean dictatorship at the United Nations by
arguing that the U.N. Charter prohibits the United Nations from intervening
in the U.N. member states' domestic affairs. After all, the apartheid
government used the same language while trying to keep the United Nations
from condemning South African race laws and repression of organizations that
included Mr. Mbeki's ANC. The U.N. Security Council imposed an arms embargo
on South Africa in 1977. Zimbabwe, alas, escaped similar fate last Friday.
In part because of the South African vote and behind-the-scenes diplomacy,
Mr. Mugabe's government will continue to acquire the weapons it needs to
kill its opponents. All the while, South Africa's foreign ministry claims to
pursue a vision of "an African Continent, which is prosperous, peaceful,
democratic, nonracial, nonsexist and united, and which contributes to a
world that is just and equitable." What are some of the reasons for this
First, Pretoria wants South Africa to become Africa's undisputed leader.
Such leadership will magnify South Africa's power and lead to a permanent
seat on the U.N. Security Council. But uniting African countries around
South Africa's foreign policy objectives was never going to be easy.
Therefore, Pretoria couched its goals in anti-Western rhetoric that paints
Africa as a permanent victim and the West as an eternal oppressor. And who
better to deliver Africa from under the Western yoke, but South Africa -
preferably with a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council.
Mr. Mugabe's interpretation of the events that transformed Zimbabwe from one
of Africa's richest to one of Africa's poorest countries fits the
anti-Western narrative beautifully. Whereas most economists blame Zimbabwe's
collapse on Mr. Mugabe's land grab and economic mismanagement, Mr. Mugabe
blames it on a Western conspiracy spearheaded by Britain and America. To
condemn Mr. Mugabe would amount to accepting that many of Africa's problems
are homemade. Mr. Mugabe must, therefore, remain beyond reproach.
Second, the Manichean dichotomy between the oppressor and the oppressed
provides African countries, including South Africa, with an important
advantage when negotiating with the West. The illusory state of permanent
victimhood allows many African governments to demand aid, debt relief, and
special treatment in trade negotiations, to name but a few, as a matter of
right. Concomitantly, few of them feel bound to fulfill their reciprocal
promises to the West.
Take, for example, the patently absurd conclusion of the G-8 summit in
Gleneagles in 2005. In exchange for tens of billions of dollars in
additional Western aid and across-the-board debt forgiveness, African
governments have agreed to "better governance." But better governance - be
it defined in terms of greater rule of law or more sensible economic
policies - should be Africa's goal regardless of what the West does.
Even that commitment fell through, however. When the African Union had the
opportunity to condemn the bloodshed in Zimbabwe and the subsequent theft of
the June 27 presidential election by Robert Mugabe, the A.U. did next to
nothing. It welcomed Mr. Mugabe to the A.U. summit in Cairo and put out a
statement urging negotiated settlement of the Zimbabwean crisis. Once again,
South Africa was central to derailing the efforts of those few African
countries, like Botswana and Zambia, that wished to take a stand against Mr.
Of course, South African government can follow any foreign policy it likes.
But, it cannot go on pretending to stand for freedom, democracy, and human
rights, while protecting some of the world's most odious regimes.
Mr. Tupy is a policy analyst at the Cato Institute's Center for Global
Liberty and Prosperity.
July 18, 2008
By Geoffrey Nyarota
PAULINE Mahoya is the second wife of former Midlands provincial governor,
July Moyo, who was also the chairman of the Midlands provincial executive of
Mahoya, who was the information secretary in the office of the President and
Cabinet, lives in the Harare suburb of Avondale, close to St Anne's
It is in this house that her husband, who was suspended from the Zanu-PF
provincial chairmanship at the height of the Tsholotsho debacle, regularly
hosted meetings with key strategists in Mugabe's run-off election campaign
during the months of May and June.
Following the poor showing of President Mugabe against opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai in the March 29 presidential election key Mugabe ally,
Emmerson Mnangagwa, who chairs the powerful Joint Operations Command had
decided not to leave anything to chance in preparing the campaign for the
presidential election re-run on June 27.
He approached close political ally, Professor Jonathan Moyo who, as
Information Minister, engineered Mugabe's election controversial and much
violent election campaign in 2002. When approached by Mnangagwa in May Moyo
was basking in the success of his electoral victory in the constituency of
Tsholotsho on March 29.
A number of strategic and high-powered meetings were convened in the Moyo's
Avondale residence. Three suspended Zanu-PF provincial chairmen were
co-opted into the campaign team - Jabulani Sibanda of Bulawayo, who is also
the chairman of national war veterans association, Mike Madiro (Manicaland),
who attended only two of the meetings, and July Moyo, the suspended Midlands
Jonathan Moyo was dismissed from the position of Minister of Information at
the height of the Tsholotsho saga. Also in attendance was Christopher
Mutsvangwa, Zimbabwe's former ambassador to Beijing, China. A close
confidante of Mnangagwa, Mutsvangwa was recalled from Beijing last year.
Lawrence Tanda, a member of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission also attended.
Tanda is said to be an aide to Mnangagwa and represents him on the ZEC.
"While he is only a junior official he is so feared on the ZEC that even the
chairman, George Chiweshe, defers to him," said one source. "He was
Mnangagwa's man on the commission."
These are the men who formulated and implemented the strategy for the
election campaign of President Robert Mugabe in the few weeks ahead of the
June 27 runoff election. Mnangagwa vested overall responsibility in Jonathan
Moyo, his most important ally within the group. Moyo's strength was his
previous experience running Mugabe's presidential campaign in 2002.
"Jonathan Moyo was approached by Mnangagwa and invited to run the
presidential election campaign," said the source who spoke on condition he
was not identified. "The decision to meet at Pauline Mahoya's house was
taken to avoid arousing obvious suspicion if this group was seen in the
company of Jonathan Moyo, either in government offices or in a hotel.
"This was the Dingane crew re-assembled. They were determined to deliver
victory to Mugabe in the hope that their suspensions would be lifted."
The meeting which culminated in the Tsholotsho saga in 2004 was convened by
Jonathan Moyo at Dingane School in his constituency. For him the stakes were
greater. Moyo is said to have designed or created the bulk of the messages
for the campaign material and advertising, relying heavily on material from
the 2002 campaign. The messages were more powerful than those of the March
29 election. Within Zanu-PH Mugabe's defeat in March was partly blamed on a
Staff in a department at the University of Zimbabwe was recruited to
translate messages into Shona and Ndebele. One of them confirmed he had been
recruited by Moyo.
Our source said Moyo's role was that of a consultant. The actual production
of campaign material such as the printing of posters and T-shirts and other
apparel, all representing quite lucrative contracts underwritten by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, was delegated to information deputy minister,
Bright Matonga and permanent secretary, George Charamba. Matonga had
contracted Imago Y&R, the marketing and public relations firm owned by
Sharon Mugabe to handle the printing of the glossy Mugabe campaign posters.
The contracted a South African company to print the posters.
Moyo then recruited TV personalities, Tich Matambanadzo and ZTV Bulawayo
bureau chief Makhosini Hlongwane to handle television and radio campaigns.
"Ït is said that Matambanadzo negotiated the release from prison of his
jailed brother, Tendai, as part of the deal," the source said. This could
not be independently confirmed.
Two sets of questions seeking Moyo's clarification on his alleged role in
masterminding Mugabe's election campaign, were sent to the former minister
on Wednesday and Thursday. He did not respond. Certain information that
would link sources directly to this article and place them at risk has been
withheld at their request.
Banker Tendai Matambanadzo of Metropolitan Bank was a co-accused along with
Itai Marchi, a director in the Zanu-PF party, and Godfrey Dzvairo Zimbabwe's
then ambassador-designate to Mozambique, in a case of espionage that
initially involved businessman Phillip Chiyangwa back in 2005. All three
were accused of being part of a ring run by Chiyangwa, then a provincial
party chairman. Charges against Chiyangwa himself were dropped after he fell
ill while in remand prison.
Marchi and Tendai Matambanadzo were each sentenced to five years in prison
while Dzvairo was sentenced to six. Their convictions stemmed from a scandal
in which six Zanu-PF members were accused of being part of an espionage ring
providing neighbouring South Africa with information on the party's affairs.
Matambanadzo and Marchi were released on June 9, three weeks before the
presidential run-off, after serving less than three years of their five-year
Jonathan Moyo caused a furor when addressed journalists at the Quill Club in
Harare on Thursday, July 10. He dismissed Movement for Democratic Change
leader Morgan Tsvangirai as lacking leadership qualities, while fiercely
defending the legitimacy of President Robert Mugabe's controversial
re-election on June 27, a departure from his customary disparagement of
Mugabe. Relations between Moyo and Tsvangirai had thawed in the run-up to
March 11 when the MDC withdrew its parliamentary candidate from Tsholotsho
constituency to clear the way for Moyo.
Comments submitted by readers in response to the Moyo article, as published
on The Zimbabwe Times website on Friday, July 11, reached the highest number
ever recorded on the website for any article. Mid-morning on that day the
website collapsed. The Zimbabwe Times technicians detected external
Unknown to his audience at the Quill Club that evening and to the public at
large was the closely guarded secret that Moyo had engineered the campaign
for Mugabe's controversial re-election on June 27.
Readers of the respectable independent newspaper, The Zimbabwe Independent,
had been surprised by a report in the previous issue of the newspaper to the
effect that Moyo had been earmarked by Mugabe for the post of Minister of
At the Quill Club meeting, Moyo said he did not rule out the prospect of
rejoining Zanu-PF. He said it was his democratic right to choose which
political party to associate with.
He accused Tsvangirai of subordinating his party's decision-making process
to its "fund-raisers", MDC treasurer Roy Bennett and business tycoon, Strive
Masiyiwa, the founder of Econet, Zimbabwe's first and leading wireless
telephone service provider. Both men now live in exile in South Africa.
Moyo said Masiyiwa and Bennett had hijacked the MDC.
"I believe that the decision-making process in Tsvangirai's MDC is now
firmly in the hands of the party's fundraisers, namely Strive Masiyiwa and
Roy Bennett," he said.
He suggested that President Mugabe was the ideal candidate to lead the
proposed Government of National Unity (GNU) between Zanu-PF and MDC.
"There is an attempt to say that let's use the 29th of March result of the
presidential election in the discussions of a GNU. That cannot be the legal
position. Morgan Tsvangirai entered the run-off because no one won the
presidency on the 29th of March."
Moyo did not disclose that while he addressed the meeting as a political
scientist and analyst he had, in fact, been contracted to ensure that Mugabe
won the June 27 election.
"The gun was held by people who are still in charge of this country," Moyo
said ominously. "It makes logical sense that the gun is more important than
a pen. It's very important to note that we are operating in a country whose
background is still dominated by people who liberated it."
Unless Moyo rendered free service to Zanu-PF in March and June, which is
questionable practice for an independent politician ostensibly campaigning
for democratic change, then he was paid on the side to ensure that those who
liberated Zimbabwe retained power on June 27, which is clearly unacceptable
for such politician.
July 18, 2008
By Lance Mambondiani
GIESECKE and Devrient (G&D), the German firm which supplied the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe (RBZ) with paper for the printing of bearer cheques, has been
asked to halt business with Zimbabwe because of widespread concerns that it
was helping to prop up the Zimbabwean government.
This comes after the EU had moved to toughen sanctions on the country after
a bid to pass United Nations sanctions against Zimbabwe's leadership was
vetoed by Security Council members, Russia and China. The paper is used to
print bearer cheques (temporary bank notes introduced as a direct result of
hyperinflation and lack of foreign currency needed to print proper bank
notes). The last proper bank note printed was the Z$1,000 bill back in 2005.
That amount does not buy even a single matchstick today.
According to recent reports, every week the German security printers, G&D
delivered to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe 432,000 sheets of banknotes for
stamping and printing at Fidelity Printers in Harare for which they received
more than US$763,000 per order. Each sheet contains 40 notes and production
is often at the country's highest denomination.
G&D has printed Zimbabwe's notes since the 1970s. It is impossible to assume
that this withdrawal of service at the behest of the EU would not impact on
the country's banknote reserves or incense the Harare authorities. The
country is already suffering from a chronic cash crisis fuelled largely by
hyperinflation and in part by black market tunnelling. This seemingly
insignificant act in Germany may have far reaching consequences for ordinary
Zimbabwean trying to access cash back in Harare.
There are a number of reasons why this is the case. Stratospheric inflation
recently quoted at by the central bank chief at 2, 2 million percent has
resulted in an inordinate number of zeros in the central payment system
making the processing of even the simplest transactions a challenge. The
software systems of most banks have become overloaded and unable to cope.
The central bank has intimated that it was to slash six zeros from the
dollar to ease the problems of the resurgent zeros. Back in 2006, the
central bank slashed three zeros from the dollar for the same reasons. The
problem is the slashing of zeros will require the printing of new bearer
cheques. The ban on the currency paper will render this an impossible task.
Although it is quite possible that the central bank will look east and soon
find a replacement supplier, until then cash shortages will most likely
persist, causing intolerable suffering to Zimbabweans already reeling from
the effects of an economic nightmare.
Zimbabwe has not had a proper currency for sometime, unless inflation is
reined in, there is no economic logic in introducing one in the near future.
Hyperinflation makes the replacement value of a new currency extremely
prohibitive. The central bank's plans to introduce a new currency last year
were shelved after the strategy proved unsustainable. While base
transactions suggest that transactions are edging towards dollarization, the
central bank is caught between a rock and a hard place. The inflation war
seems more like a hardly winnable battle, much like fighting against
insurgents. The payment and the computing system of banks is now unable to
handle the number of digits required for accounting purposes threatening
transaction processing with total collapse. Reprogramming the computer
systems to expand the size of fields required for the zeros would require
significant expenditure in foreign currency, a commodity which the country
simply cannot afford to waste.
The introduction of higher denominated currencies or the slashing of zeros
often the lesser evil is dependent on the capacity to print new notes which
has now become temporarily impossible due to the paper shortages. For more
reasons than one, the German firm's decision is a source of irritation at a
time when the country's attention is best needed elsewhere. The importation
of printing paper or the intermittent increase in withdrawal limits cannot
be the solution to solving the cash crisis. A long-lasting solution has to
be found in the stabilization of the economy through reducing inflation and
the re-establishment of positive real interest rates. The governor of the
central bank is a recent interview with the media also highlighted the
urgent need to resolve the political impasse for any meaningful economic
regeneration to take place.
Given that the amount of money held for transactions and precautionary
purposes depends, among others, on the movements in prices, the current
hyperinflation environment often renders new and higher cash withdrawal
limits inadequate. At the rate at which inflation is galloping even an
adjustment of the withdrawal limits every month is unlikely to keep up with
demand. The hyperinflationary environment together with low nominal
investment rates has caused serious negative real investment rates.
These negative returns on investments have significantly reduced banking
habit as the resultant reduction in the opportunity cost of holding cash has
given rise to significant speculative activities. This has worsened the
inflation situation through an increase in asset price inflation. Such
financial dis-intermediation debilitates the monetary policy effectiveness
of banks and the central role they play in the central payment system.
Sustained efforts have to be made to keep bank notes within official
The central bank's approach to printing bank notes to fund critical
supplies, however justified, has contributed significantly to inflationary
pressures. In most cases, this monetary expansion has been justifiable as
the short term solution to declared and undeclared sanctions. In simple
terms, an increase in money supply seems directly correlated to the pressure
that the government finds itself in. Although money supply growth can work
in the short term, the long-term consequences will take years to reverse.
Using a simplistic analysis, when the central bank prints money, the well
connected insiders get to enjoy the benefits of the new money while the
common man doesn't.
Instead, as the new money spreads into the economy, the value of the money
gets diluted. Much like taking one gallon of milk, pouring it into two
containers and adding a half a gallon of water to each. Now you have two
gallons of milk.
This may look much like an act of magic, the same as getting diesel from a
The problem however is that you still have one gallon of milk diluted with
water. The central bank can create money out of thin air by the billions.
Once it is spent into the economy by economic agents, the effects of that
inflation are felt by the entire population several months later in the form
of rising prices.
The problem with the Zimbabwean economy is that it has deviated so far from
established economic norms that its redress is almost inconceivable under
the current atmosphere. Although the central bank is said to be a major
contributor to this crisis, even their well intended stabilisation efforts
have failed due to political polarity. While it remains an old adage that
politics is inextricably linked to economics, the stabilisation of exchange
rates, a return to positive interest rates, the containment of inflation or
taming the brain-drain and the black market is unfortunately dependent on
the resolution of the country's political crisis.
In reality, economic fundamentals can only be manipulated for so long, in
the end the real inflation rate or the real exchange will cause stress
fractures which may result in a volcanic explosion. Perhaps now is the time
for those politicians, the avowed liberators of our freedom to consider an
even greater good - the liberation of the country's economy from imminent
(Lance Mambondiani is an Investment Executive at Coronation Financial Plc,
an International Financial Advisory company registered in the UK trading in
Southern Africa and the United Kingdom. He can be contacted at
firstname.lastname@example.org You can also contact the Coronation team on;
Business lines +44 161 346 9559 or mobile +44 790 3293 227.)
Malone On June 5, 1873, in a letter to The Times, Sir Francis Galton, the cousin of
Charles Darwin and a distinguished African explorer in his own right, outlined a
daring (if by today's standards utterly offensive) new method to 'tame' and
colonise what was then known as the Dark Continent. 'My proposal is to make the encouragement of Chinese settlements of Africa a
part of our national policy, in the belief that the Chinese immigrants would not
only maintain their position, but that they would multiply and their descendants
supplant the inferior Negro race,' wrote Galton. 'I should expect that the African seaboard, now sparsely occupied by lazy,
palavering savages, might in a few years be tenanted by industrious,
order-loving Chinese, living either as a semidetached dependency of China, or
else in perfect freedom under their own law.' Close relations: Chinese President Hu Jintao accompanies
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People
in Beijing Despite an outcry in Parliament and heated debate in the august salons of the
Royal Geographic Society, Galton insisted that 'the history of the world tells
the tale of the continual displacement of populations, each by a worthier
successor, and humanity gains thereby'. A controversial figure, Galton was also the pioneer of eugenics, the theory
that was used by Hitler to try to fulfil his mad dreams of a German Master Race.
Eventually, Galton's grand resettlement plans fizzled out because there were
much more exciting things going on in Africa. But that was more than 100 years ago, and with legendary explorers such as
Livingstone, Speke and Burton still battling to find the source of the Nile -
and new discoveries of exotic species of birds and animals featuring regularly
on newspaper front pages - vast swathes of the continent had not even been
'discovered'. Yet Sir Francis Galton, it now appears, was ahead of his time. His vision is
coming true - if not in the way he imagined. An astonishing invasion of Africa
is now under way. In the greatest movement of people the world has ever seen, China is secretly
working to turn the entire continent into a new colony. Reminiscent of the West's imperial push in the 18th and 19th centuries - but
on a much more dramatic, determined scale - China's rulers believe Africa can
become a 'satellite' state, solving its own problems of over-population and
shortage of natural resources at a stroke. With little fanfare, a staggering 750,000 Chinese have settled in Africa over
the past decade. More are on the way. The strategy has been carefully devised by officials in Beijing, where one
expert has estimated that China will eventually need to send 300 million people
to Africa to solve the problems of over-population and pollution. The plans appear on track. Across Africa, the red flag of China is flying.
Lucrative deals are being struck to buy its commodities - oil, platinum, gold
and minerals. New embassies and air routes are opening up. The continent's new
Chinese elite can be seen everywhere, shopping at their own expensive boutiques,
driving Mercedes and BMW limousines, sending their children to exclusive private
schools. The pot-holed roads are cluttered with Chinese buses, taking people to
markets filled with cheap Chinese goods. More than a thousand miles of new
Chinese railroads are crisscrossing the continent, carrying billions of tons of
illegally-logged timber, diamonds and gold. New horizons? Mugabe has said: 'We must turn from the West
and face the East' The trains are linked to ports dotted around the coast, waiting to carry the
goods back to Beijing after unloading cargoes of cheap toys made in China. Confucius Institutes (state-funded Chinese 'cultural centres') have sprung up
throughout Africa, as far afield as the tiny land-locked countries of Burundi
and Rwanda, teaching baffled local people how to do business in Mandarin and
Cantonese. Massive dams are being built, flooding nature reserves. The land is scarred
with giant Chinese mines, with 'slave' labourers paid less than £1 a day to
extract ore and minerals. Pristine forests are being destroyed, with China taking up to 70 per cent of
all timber from Africa. All over this great continent, the Chinese presence is swelling into a flood.
Angola has its own 'Chinatown', as do great African cities such as Dar es Salaam
and Nairobi. Exclusive, gated compounds, serving only Chinese food, and where no blacks
are allowed, are being built all over the continent. 'African cloths' sold in
markets on the continent are now almost always imported, bearing the legend:
'Made in China'. From Nigeria in the north, to Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Angola in the
west, across Chad and Sudan in the east, and south through Zambia, Zimbabwe and
Mozambique, China has seized a vice-like grip on a continent which officials
have decided is crucial to the superpower's long-term survival. 'The Chinese are all over the place,' says Trevor Ncube, a prominent African
businessman with publishing interests around the continent. 'If the British were
our masters yesterday, the Chinese have taken their place.' Likened to one race deciding to adopt a new home on another planet, Beijing
has launched its so-called 'One China In Africa' policy because of crippling
pressure on its own natural resources in a country where the population has
almost trebled from 500 million to 1.3 billion in 50 years. China is hungry - for land, food and energy. While accounting for a fifth of
the world's population, its oil consumption has risen 35-fold in the past decade
and Africa is now providing a third of it; imports of steel, copper and
aluminium have also shot up, with Beijing devouring 80 per cent of world
supplies. President Robert Mugabe leaving the eleventh ordinary
session of the assembly of the African Union heads of State and government in
Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt Fuelling its own boom at home, China is also desperate for new markets to
sell goods. And Africa, with non-existent health and safety rules to protect
against shoddy and dangerous goods, is the perfect destination. The result of China's demand for raw materials and its sales of products to
Africa is that turnover in trade between Africa and China has risen from
£5million annually a decade ago to £6billion today. However, there is a lethal price to pay. There is a sinister aspect to this
invasion. Chinese-made war planes roar through the African sky, bombing
opponents. Chinese-made assault rifles and grenades are being used to fuel
countless murderous civil wars, often over the materials the Chinese are
desperate to buy. Take, for example, Zimbabwe. Recently, a giant container ship from China was
due to deliver its cargo of three million rounds of AK-47 ammunition, 3,000
rocket-propelled grenades and 1,500 mortars to President Robert Mugabe's regime.
After an international outcry, the vessel, the An Yue Jiang, was forced to
return to China, despite Beijing's insistence that the arms consignment was a
'normal commercial deal'. Indeed, the 77-ton arms shipment would have been small beer - a fraction of
China's help to Mugabe. He already has high-tech, Chinese-built helicopter
gunships and fighter jets to use against his people. Ever since the U.S. and Britain imposed sanctions in 2003, Mugabe has courted
the Chinese, offering mining concessions for arms and currency. While flying regularly to Beijing as a high-ranking guest, the 84-year-old
dictator rants at 'small dots' such as Britain and America. He can afford to. Mugabe is orchestrating his campaign of terror from a
25-bedroom, pagoda-style mansion built by the Chinese. Much of his estimated
£1billion fortune is believed to have been siphoned off from Chinese 'loans'.
The imposing grey building of ZANU-PF, his ruling party, was paid for and
built by the Chinese. Mugabe received £200 million last year alone from China,
enabling him to buy loyalty from the army. In another disturbing illustration of the warm relations between China and
the ageing dictator, a platoon of the China People's Liberation Army has been
out on the streets of Mutare, a city near the border with Mozambique, which
voted against the president in the recent, disputed election. Almost 30 years ago, Britain pulled out of Zimbabwe - as it had done already
out of the rest of Africa, in the wake of Harold Macmillan's 'wind of change'
speech. Today, Mugabe says: 'We have turned East, where the sun rises, and given
our backs to the West, where the sun sets.' Despite Britain's commendable colonial legacy of a network of roads, railways
and schools, the British are now being shunned. According to one veteran diplomat: 'China is easier to do business with
because it doesn't care about human rights in Africa - just as it doesn't care
about them in its own country. All the Chinese care about is money.' Nowhere is that more true than Sudan. Branded 'Africa's Killing Fields', the
massive oil-rich East African state is in the throes of the genocide and
slaughter of hundreds of thousands of black, non-Arab peasants in southern
Sudan. In effect, through its supplies of arms and support, China has been accused
of underwriting a humanitarian scandal. The atrocities in Sudan have been
described by the U.S. as 'the worst human rights crisis in the world today'.
Mugabe has received hundreds of millions of pounds from
Chinese sources The government in Khartoum has helped the feared Janjaweed militia to rape,
murder and burn to death more than 350,000 people. The Chinese - who now buy half of all Sudan's oil - have happily provided
armoured vehicles, aircraft and millions of bullets and grenades in return for
lucrative deals. Indeed, an estimated £1billion of Chinese cash has been spent
on weapons. According to Human Rights Watch, a U.S. watchdog, Chinese-made AK-47 assault
rifles, grenade launchers and ammunition for rifles and heavy machine guns are
continuing to flow into Darfur, which is dotted with giant refugee camps, each
containing hundreds of thousands of people. Between 2003 and 2006, China sold Sudan $55 million worth of small arms,
flouting a United Nations weapons embargo. With new warnings that the cycle of killing is intensifying, an estimated two
thirds of the non-Arab population has lost at least one member of their families
in Darfur. Although two million people have been uprooted from their homes in the
conflict, China has repeatedly thwarted United Nations denunciations of the
Sudanese regime. While the Sudanese slaughter has attracted worldwide condemnation, prompting
Hollywood film-maker Steven Spielberg to quit as artistic director of the
Beijing Olympics, few parts of Africa are now untouched by China. In Congo, more than £2billion has been 'loaned' to the government. In Angola,
£3 billion has been paid in exchange for oil. In Nigeria, more than £5billion
has been handed over. In Equatorial Guinea, where the president publicly hung his predecessor from
a cage suspended in a theatre before having him shot, Chinese firms are helping
the dictator build an entirely new capital, full of gleaming skyscrapers and, of
course, Chinese restaurants. After battling for years against the white colonial powers of Britain,
France, Belgium and Germany, post-independence African leaders are happy to do
business with China for a straightforward reason: cash. With western loans linked to an insistence on democratic reforms and the need
for 'transparency' in using the money (diplomatic language for rules to ensure
dictators do not pocket millions), the Chinese have proved much more relaxed
about what their billions are used for. Certainly, little of it reaches the continent's impoverished 800 million
people. Much of it goes straight into the pockets of dictators. In Africa,
corruption is a multi-billion pound industry and many experts believe that China
is fuelling the cancer. The Chinese are contemptuous of such criticism. To them, Africa is about
pragmatism, not human rights. 'Business is business,' says Chinese Deputy
Foreign Minister Zhou Wenzhong, adding that Beijing should not interfere in
'internal' affairs. 'We try to separate politics from business.' While the bounty has, not surprisingly, been welcomed by African dictators,
the people of Africa are less impressed. At a market in Zimbabwe recently, where
Chinese goods were on sale at nearly every stall, one woman told me she would
not waste her money on 'Zing-Zong' products. 'They go Zing when they work, and then they quickly go Zong and break,' she
said. 'They are a waste of money. But there's nothing else. China is the only
country that will do business with us.' There have also been riots in Zambia, Angola and Congo over the flood of
Chinese immigrant workers. The Chinese do not use African labour where possible,
saying black Africans are lazy and unskilled. In Angola, the government has agreed that 70 per cent of tendered public
works must go to Chinese firms, most of which do not employ Angolans. As well as enticing hundreds of thousands to settle in Africa, they have even
shipped Chinese prisoners to produce the goods cheaply. In Kenya, for example, only ten textile factories are still producing,
compared with 200 factories five years ago, as China undercuts locals in the
production of 'African' souvenirs. Where will it all end? As far as Beijing is concerned, it will stop only when
Africa no longer has any minerals or oil to be extracted from the continent.
A century after Sir Francis Galton outlined his vision for Africa, the
Chinese are here to stay. More will come. The people of this bewitching, beautiful continent, where humankind first
emerged from the Great Rift Valley, desperately need progress. The Chinese are
not here for that. They are here for plunder. After centuries of pain and war, Africa deserves
Last updated at 11:41 PM on 17th July 2008
On June 5, 1873, in a letter to The Times, Sir Francis Galton, the cousin of Charles Darwin and a distinguished African explorer in his own right, outlined a daring (if by today's standards utterly offensive) new method to 'tame' and colonise what was then known as the Dark Continent.
'My proposal is to make the encouragement of Chinese settlements of Africa a part of our national policy, in the belief that the Chinese immigrants would not only maintain their position, but that they would multiply and their descendants supplant the inferior Negro race,' wrote Galton.
'I should expect that the African seaboard, now sparsely occupied by lazy,
palavering savages, might in a few years be tenanted by industrious,
order-loving Chinese, living either as a semidetached dependency of China, or
else in perfect freedom under their own law.'
Close relations: Chinese President Hu Jintao accompanies Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe to a ceremony in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing
Despite an outcry in Parliament and heated debate in the august salons of the Royal Geographic Society, Galton insisted that 'the history of the world tells the tale of the continual displacement of populations, each by a worthier successor, and humanity gains thereby'.
A controversial figure, Galton was also the pioneer of eugenics, the theory that was used by Hitler to try to fulfil his mad dreams of a German Master Race.
Eventually, Galton's grand resettlement plans fizzled out because there were much more exciting things going on in Africa.
But that was more than 100 years ago, and with legendary explorers such as Livingstone, Speke and Burton still battling to find the source of the Nile - and new discoveries of exotic species of birds and animals featuring regularly on newspaper front pages - vast swathes of the continent had not even been 'discovered'.
Yet Sir Francis Galton, it now appears, was ahead of his time. His vision is coming true - if not in the way he imagined. An astonishing invasion of Africa is now under way.
In the greatest movement of people the world has ever seen, China is secretly working to turn the entire continent into a new colony.
Reminiscent of the West's imperial push in the 18th and 19th centuries - but on a much more dramatic, determined scale - China's rulers believe Africa can become a 'satellite' state, solving its own problems of over-population and shortage of natural resources at a stroke.
With little fanfare, a staggering 750,000 Chinese have settled in Africa over the past decade. More are on the way.
The strategy has been carefully devised by officials in Beijing, where one expert has estimated that China will eventually need to send 300 million people to Africa to solve the problems of over-population and pollution.
The plans appear on track. Across Africa, the red flag of China is flying. Lucrative deals are being struck to buy its commodities - oil, platinum, gold and minerals. New embassies and air routes are opening up. The continent's new Chinese elite can be seen everywhere, shopping at their own expensive boutiques, driving Mercedes and BMW limousines, sending their children to exclusive private schools.
The pot-holed roads are cluttered with Chinese buses, taking people to markets filled with cheap Chinese goods. More than a thousand miles of new Chinese railroads are crisscrossing the continent, carrying billions of tons of illegally-logged timber, diamonds and gold.
New horizons? Mugabe has said: 'We must turn from the West and face the East'
The trains are linked to ports dotted around the coast, waiting to carry the goods back to Beijing after unloading cargoes of cheap toys made in China.
Confucius Institutes (state-funded Chinese 'cultural centres') have sprung up throughout Africa, as far afield as the tiny land-locked countries of Burundi and Rwanda, teaching baffled local people how to do business in Mandarin and Cantonese.
Massive dams are being built, flooding nature reserves. The land is scarred with giant Chinese mines, with 'slave' labourers paid less than £1 a day to extract ore and minerals.
Pristine forests are being destroyed, with China taking up to 70 per cent of all timber from Africa.
All over this great continent, the Chinese presence is swelling into a flood. Angola has its own 'Chinatown', as do great African cities such as Dar es Salaam and Nairobi.
Exclusive, gated compounds, serving only Chinese food, and where no blacks are allowed, are being built all over the continent. 'African cloths' sold in markets on the continent are now almost always imported, bearing the legend: 'Made in China'.
From Nigeria in the north, to Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Angola in the west, across Chad and Sudan in the east, and south through Zambia, Zimbabwe and Mozambique, China has seized a vice-like grip on a continent which officials have decided is crucial to the superpower's long-term survival.
'The Chinese are all over the place,' says Trevor Ncube, a prominent African businessman with publishing interests around the continent. 'If the British were our masters yesterday, the Chinese have taken their place.'
Likened to one race deciding to adopt a new home on another planet, Beijing has launched its so-called 'One China In Africa' policy because of crippling pressure on its own natural resources in a country where the population has almost trebled from 500 million to 1.3 billion in 50 years.
China is hungry - for land, food and energy. While accounting for a fifth of the world's population, its oil consumption has risen 35-fold in the past decade and Africa is now providing a third of it; imports of steel, copper and aluminium have also shot up, with Beijing devouring 80 per cent of world supplies.
President Robert Mugabe leaving the eleventh ordinary session of the assembly of the African Union heads of State and government in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
Fuelling its own boom at home, China is also desperate for new markets to sell goods. And Africa, with non-existent health and safety rules to protect against shoddy and dangerous goods, is the perfect destination.
The result of China's demand for raw materials and its sales of products to Africa is that turnover in trade between Africa and China has risen from £5million annually a decade ago to £6billion today.
However, there is a lethal price to pay. There is a sinister aspect to this invasion. Chinese-made war planes roar through the African sky, bombing opponents. Chinese-made assault rifles and grenades are being used to fuel countless murderous civil wars, often over the materials the Chinese are desperate to buy.
Take, for example, Zimbabwe. Recently, a giant container ship from China was due to deliver its cargo of three million rounds of AK-47 ammunition, 3,000 rocket-propelled grenades and 1,500 mortars to President Robert Mugabe's regime.
After an international outcry, the vessel, the An Yue Jiang, was forced to return to China, despite Beijing's insistence that the arms consignment was a 'normal commercial deal'.
Indeed, the 77-ton arms shipment would have been small beer - a fraction of China's help to Mugabe. He already has high-tech, Chinese-built helicopter gunships and fighter jets to use against his people.
Ever since the U.S. and Britain imposed sanctions in 2003, Mugabe has courted the Chinese, offering mining concessions for arms and currency.
While flying regularly to Beijing as a high-ranking guest, the 84-year-old dictator rants at 'small dots' such as Britain and America.
He can afford to. Mugabe is orchestrating his campaign of terror from a 25-bedroom, pagoda-style mansion built by the Chinese. Much of his estimated £1billion fortune is believed to have been siphoned off from Chinese 'loans'.
The imposing grey building of ZANU-PF, his ruling party, was paid for and built by the Chinese. Mugabe received £200 million last year alone from China, enabling him to buy loyalty from the army.
In another disturbing illustration of the warm relations between China and the ageing dictator, a platoon of the China People's Liberation Army has been out on the streets of Mutare, a city near the border with Mozambique, which voted against the president in the recent, disputed election.
Almost 30 years ago, Britain pulled out of Zimbabwe - as it had done already
out of the rest of Africa, in the wake of Harold Macmillan's 'wind of change'
speech. Today, Mugabe says: 'We have turned East, where the sun rises, and given
our backs to the West, where the sun sets.'
Despite Britain's commendable colonial legacy of a network of roads, railways and schools, the British are now being shunned.
According to one veteran diplomat: 'China is easier to do business with because it doesn't care about human rights in Africa - just as it doesn't care about them in its own country. All the Chinese care about is money.'
Nowhere is that more true than Sudan. Branded 'Africa's Killing Fields', the massive oil-rich East African state is in the throes of the genocide and slaughter of hundreds of thousands of black, non-Arab peasants in southern Sudan.
In effect, through its supplies of arms and support, China has been accused
of underwriting a humanitarian scandal. The atrocities in Sudan have been
described by the U.S. as 'the worst human rights crisis in the world today'.
Mugabe has received hundreds of millions of pounds from Chinese sources
The government in Khartoum has helped the feared Janjaweed militia to rape, murder and burn to death more than 350,000 people.
The Chinese - who now buy half of all Sudan's oil - have happily provided armoured vehicles, aircraft and millions of bullets and grenades in return for lucrative deals. Indeed, an estimated £1billion of Chinese cash has been spent on weapons.
According to Human Rights Watch, a U.S. watchdog, Chinese-made AK-47 assault rifles, grenade launchers and ammunition for rifles and heavy machine guns are continuing to flow into Darfur, which is dotted with giant refugee camps, each containing hundreds of thousands of people.
Between 2003 and 2006, China sold Sudan $55 million worth of small arms, flouting a United Nations weapons embargo.
With new warnings that the cycle of killing is intensifying, an estimated two thirds of the non-Arab population has lost at least one member of their families in Darfur.
Although two million people have been uprooted from their homes in the conflict, China has repeatedly thwarted United Nations denunciations of the Sudanese regime.
While the Sudanese slaughter has attracted worldwide condemnation, prompting Hollywood film-maker Steven Spielberg to quit as artistic director of the Beijing Olympics, few parts of Africa are now untouched by China.
In Congo, more than £2billion has been 'loaned' to the government. In Angola, £3 billion has been paid in exchange for oil. In Nigeria, more than £5billion has been handed over.
In Equatorial Guinea, where the president publicly hung his predecessor from a cage suspended in a theatre before having him shot, Chinese firms are helping the dictator build an entirely new capital, full of gleaming skyscrapers and, of course, Chinese restaurants.
After battling for years against the white colonial powers of Britain, France, Belgium and Germany, post-independence African leaders are happy to do business with China for a straightforward reason: cash.
With western loans linked to an insistence on democratic reforms and the need for 'transparency' in using the money (diplomatic language for rules to ensure dictators do not pocket millions), the Chinese have proved much more relaxed about what their billions are used for.
Certainly, little of it reaches the continent's impoverished 800 million
people. Much of it goes straight into the pockets of dictators. In Africa,
corruption is a multi-billion pound industry and many experts believe that China
is fuelling the cancer.
The Chinese are contemptuous of such criticism. To them, Africa is about pragmatism, not human rights. 'Business is business,' says Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Zhou Wenzhong, adding that Beijing should not interfere in 'internal' affairs. 'We try to separate politics from business.'
While the bounty has, not surprisingly, been welcomed by African dictators, the people of Africa are less impressed. At a market in Zimbabwe recently, where Chinese goods were on sale at nearly every stall, one woman told me she would not waste her money on 'Zing-Zong' products.
'They go Zing when they work, and then they quickly go Zong and break,' she said. 'They are a waste of money. But there's nothing else. China is the only country that will do business with us.'
There have also been riots in Zambia, Angola and Congo over the flood of Chinese immigrant workers. The Chinese do not use African labour where possible, saying black Africans are lazy and unskilled.
In Angola, the government has agreed that 70 per cent of tendered public works must go to Chinese firms, most of which do not employ Angolans.
As well as enticing hundreds of thousands to settle in Africa, they have even shipped Chinese prisoners to produce the goods cheaply.
In Kenya, for example, only ten textile factories are still producing, compared with 200 factories five years ago, as China undercuts locals in the production of 'African' souvenirs.
Where will it all end? As far as Beijing is concerned, it will stop only when Africa no longer has any minerals or oil to be extracted from the continent.
A century after Sir Francis Galton outlined his vision for Africa, the Chinese are here to stay. More will come.
The people of this bewitching, beautiful continent, where humankind first emerged from the Great Rift Valley, desperately need progress. The Chinese are not here for that.
They are here for plunder. After centuries of pain and war, Africa deserves better.
By Con Coughlin
Last Updated: 12:01am BST 18/07/2008
Just imagine the scene. An international team of special forces
launches a daring raid on Zimbabwe, storms into the home of Robert Mugabe,
the country's president, and bundles him out of the country to the Hague,
where he is officially charged with committing crimes against humanity.
Far-fetched as this particular scenario might seem today, such action
could soon become a distinct possibility if this week's momentous action by
the International Criminal Court (ICC) is taken to its logical conclusion.
The unprecedented decision by the ICC's prosecutor to seek charges
against Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir for genocide, war crimes and
crimes against humanity is an important test case. Up to now, the ICC, which
first came into being in 2002, has directed most of its resources to
investigating allegations of war crimes in Africa, whether over the
recruitment of child soldiers in the Congo or the murderous activities of
the Lord's Resistance Army in northern Uganda.
But the decision to accuse Mr Bashir of a range of crimes relating to
Sudan's involvement in the civil war in Darfur moves the ICC's profile to
another level entirely. To date, most of the prosecutions brought by the
court have related to rogue militia leaders. Now the ICC is threatening to
bring charges against a serving head of state: a move that, if successful,
could give the world's despots a few sleepless nights.
There is still a long way to go before Mr Bashir finds himself
standing trial. The decision to seek charges is not the same as bringing
them, and the court's prosecutor will have his work cut out assembling a
So far the prosecutor has had to rely on BBC footage of rape victims
recounting horrific stories of their treatment at the hands of the
government-funded Janjaweed militias. Putting together a case that would
stand scrutiny under international law is another matter, and would require
the same painstaking field work that brought to trial those responsible for
the war crimes in the Balkans in the 1990s.
Then there is the not inconsiderable issue of how to press charges
against the Sudanese President. The government has made it clear that the
ICC has no jurisdiction over Sudan, as Khartoum is one of the few African
countries not to have ratified the Rome Statute, the treaty governing the
ICC's activities (Zimbabwe has signed the treaty, but not ratified it). The
UN could dispatch an enforcement team to Khartoum to detain Mr Bashir. But
that is highly unlikely, given that the UN's immediate response on hearing
of the ICC's decision to prosecute the Sudanese leader was to order all
non-essential staff to return to barracks.
Yet the fact that the ICC is prepared to hold heads of state
responsible for their actions is a move in the right direction. Imagine the
trouble the world would have been spared if the ICC had been around in the
1980s and 1990s. To start with, Saddam Hussein would not have been allowed
to get away with his genocidal attack on the Kurds in Halabjah in 1988, when
thousands were killed with chemical weapons, or the brutality he inflicted
on Kuwait after the 1990 invasion.
It was precisely because of the international community's impotence in
dealing with the likes of Saddam that the concept of the ICC first arose.
And after the appalling events in the Balkans and Rwanda in the 1990s, it
There have, predictably, been questions raised about the ICC's role by
the political correctness brigade, particularly in Europe, where it has been
argued that, if charges can be brought against African despots, they could
also be brought against alleged Western wrong-doers such as Tony Blair and
George W. Bush.
To equate the actions of Western leaders, taken in the interests of
national security, with the evil actions of genocidal dictators is a
fundamental misunderstanding of the ICC's role. Killing millions of Jews in
the Nazi death camps was an act of evil; the bombing of Dresden was a
brutal, but necessary, act of war. The murder of 8,000 unarmed Bosnian
Muslims at Srebrenica was unequivocally a war crime; the bombing of Belgrade
by British and American warplanes was necessary to prevent Slobodan
Milosevic pursuing genocide in Kosovo.
The ICC's raison d'être is to discourage acts of criminality, not acts
of war, and Sudan's conduct in Darfur, where it has been responsible for the
deaths of more than 200,000 civilians and the forced evacuation of about two
million people from their homes - Rwanda in slow motion - is undeniably the
worst crime against humanity committed so far during the 21st century.
That said, Mugabe's wilful destruction of Zimbabwe, once considered
Africa's bread basket, which has reduced millions of Zimbabweans to poverty,
is another issue that the ICC should consider as a matter of urgency. While
it cannot prosecute Mugabe for economic mismanagement, it would certainly be
worth looking at the brutality meted out to members of the opposition MDC
during the recent presidential election contest. Many were tortured and
These are the kind of cases the ICC was set up to prosecute, not to
get involved in political point-scoring over whether the invasion of Iraq
was legal or illegal, or whether it was right to bomb Belgrade without UN
approval. There is enough evil taking place to keep the ICC's prosecution
teams busy for years to come - bringing tyrants such as Bashir and Mugabe to
justice is an important part of creating a better and safer world for us
Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR)
Date: 15 Jul 2008
Residents say maize meal from the state grain agency is being given out only
to friends of the regime.
By Benedict Unendoro in Masvingo (ZCR No. 155, 15-Jul-08)
The food situation in Zimbabwe's arid southern province of Masvingo has
reached crisis point, with many families unable to access even basic
In early June, social welfare minister Nicholas Goche banned humanitarian
agencies from operating in Zimbabwe after accusing them of "breaching the
terms and conditions of their registration".
Since the aid agencies stopped distributing food, the state-controlled Grain
Marketing Board, GMB, has been the only source of the staple maize meal. But
GMB outlets on the ground are unable to meet the demand, and Masvingo
residents say that what maize meal is available it is directed only to those
with close ties to the ruling ZANU-PF party.
Mugabe has been accused of using food aid as a political weapon. Voters in
Masvingo traditionally backed President Mugabe and his party - so much so
that it was dubbed the "one-party province". In the March 29 presidential
and parliamentary elections, however, voters here did the unthinkable and
backed the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, MDC.
Masvingo accounts for 27 per cent of Zimbabwe's land area and at nearly
two -million people, has the largest population of any province. It is a
particularly dry swathe of land which scientists rank in the lowest of five
categories for annual rainfall. Even drought-resistant crops do not grow
reliably, so the land is suitable only for cattle and wild game ranches.
A miller in Chivi, the most arid district in the province, described how
government officials slanted food distribution towards regime supporters.
Licensed millers purchase South African meal from the GMB at the Beitbridge
border post, and then have to take what they have bought to the office of
the District Administrator or DA, a government agent who records each
consignment. The DA invites village heads and ward councillors to submit the
names of residents who need the maize meal. These grassroots-level officials
decide who should be awarded the meal, and either accept or refuse money
from applicants accordingly. The DA then authorises the sale based on the
list of names provided, and only at that point can millers release the maize
"The system is fraught with corruption," said the miller, who did not want
to be named. "The headman and the councillors alert only their relatives and
friends of the availability of the meal, and those who oppose them or the
[ZANU-PF] party never appear on the lists taken to the DA.
"Senior government officials and the soldiers stationed here during the
election campaign have become the major beneficiaries of the system. The DA
allows them to buy grain from the millers in huge quantities, which they
resell at inflated prices to poor villagers."
These days, villagers are finding it impossible to pay for maize meal even
when it is available.
"We normally only get money from selling our produce but we have experienced
successive droughts over the past few years so there is no money coming our
way," said one elderly man, showing clear signs of malnutrition.
Across Zimbabwe, an estimated 85 per cent of the population are unemployed,
and the problem is especially rife in Masvinga, where the few existing mines
have scaled down their operations and there is little else in the way of job
"In better times we depended on our children in the towns, but they, too,
have been affected and have returned home to live with us," said the
According to a healthworker in Chivi, "Most children and the elderly are
malnourished - they urgently need food aid."
There has been an upsurge in HIV/AIDs-related deaths here, creating
increasing numbers of orphans. Many people are returning from the cities to
die at home in their villages.
The healthworker attributed the high mortality rate in the area to
"Aid agencies used to distribute high-protein, high-energy foods which kept
opportunistic diseases at bay. Without those foods, people quickly succumb
to illnesses," he said. AIDS orphans and the elderly are the most vulnerable
Villagers believe that now that Mugabe has won the election, he should allow
the aid agencies back into rural areas. The MDC has made the restoration of
aid operations one of its preconditions for talks with ZANU-PF. Talks have
been taking place since last week in Pretoria on the framework for full
negotiations between the two parties.
Many worry that the president is reluctant to allow the agencies back in,
for fear that that they will expose high levels of malnutrition and also the
extent of the violence unleashed in the run-up to the June 27 second-round
Benedict Unendoro is the pseudonym of a journalist in Zimbabwe.
July 18, 2008
By Our Correspondent
BULAWAYO - Thaba Moyo, a councillor recently elected on an opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ticket, was yesterday elected unopposed
as the new Mayor for Bulawayo.
His election followed a High Court ruling by Justice Nicholas Ndou directing
that a new mayor be elected.
According to Section 103 of the Urban Councils' Act, councillors are
supposed to be sworn into office to commence municipal duties a day after
the polling date. The councillors should, therefore, have been sworn in on
March 30, after their election on March 29.
Bulawayo has been without a mayor and council since January 2008 after the
old council was dissolved ahead of elections held concurrently with the
presidential, senate and House of Assembly polls.
Moyo, a councillor for Nkulumane suburb, was elected the ceremonial mayor by
29 other councillors just after they were also sworn into office yesterday
at an occasion held at the council chambers of the Bulawayo local authority.
"We will continue to maintain the high standards of local governance," said
Moyo who takes over from Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube.
A secret ballot was conducted by Leornard Ncube, the provincial
administrator for Bulawayo, for the deputy mayor's post after councillors
nominated three candidates.
men Mpofu, a councillor for Northend, defeated councillors Israel Mabaleka
of Luveve and Gerry Ferguson of Hillside to become the Deputy Mayor of
Mpofu received 23 votes while Ferguson and Mabaleka got four and two votes
The MDC led by Morgan Tsvangirai has 23 six representatives in the council
while the breakaway faction headed by Arthur Mutambara has six.
Bulawayo still does not have a town clerk. The appointment of the provincial
administrator, Ncube, to act as town clerk has caused concern among
councillors. The Urban Councils' Act stipulates that the chamber secretary
should be seconded to the post in the absence of the incumbent.
The post of town clerk fell vacant after the death of Stanley Donga last
The MDC on Friday dragged Ignatius Chombo, the Local Government Minister to
the High Court over his failure to swear in councillors within the
stipulated period since their election on March 29 in Bulawayo.
In an urgent chamber application filed by the MDC at the Bulawayo High Court
on Friday, the opposition party said the failure by Chombo to swear in the
councillors after they were elected, was in violation of the Urban Councils
In court papers filed by the MDC lawyer, Job Sibanda of Job Sibanda and
Associates, the opposition party sought an order directing Chombo to swear
in Bulawayo councillors as failure to do so was illegal.
The opposition party added that the failure by Chombo to swear into office
the councillors had affected municipal affairs and operations because a new
mayor could not be elected before councillors were sworn in.
Judge Ndou ordered the swearing in of the councillors and the election of
HARARE, July 18 2008 - A critical shortage of wheat has forced Lobels
Bread (Lobels), the country's largest bread and confectionery maker, to
venture into tea production, Radio VOP has learnt.
Lobels now makes 'Lobels Fine Tea', which is produced by Lobels Foods,
its Bulawayo based subsidiary. Officials at Lobels said the baker is
exploiting the tea market with its beverage, which is grown in one of the
continent's finest tea growing areas in the picturesque Eastern Highlands.
The officials said the venture into tea production is meant to
diversify the baker's revenue streams, which have been shrinking due to a
slump in bread production.
Lobels venture into tea production adds to three the big manufacturers
of beverage in the country. Already, Mutare-based tea producer Tanganda and
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Ariston are the leading local tea makers.
Because of the flour shortages and a government enforced order to
slash the price of bread by half, Lobels together with other bakers in the
country have had to retrench thousands of workers.
Lobels says it has since 2000 been grappling with a critical shortage
of wheat after veterans of the liberation war and supporters loyal to
President Robert Mugabe grabbed white-owned productive farms with the tacit
backing of Mugabe's administration.
The farm seizures severely decimated commercial agricultural and is
largely blamed for the shortage of maize and wheat in the country. The land
grab exercise has backfired as consumers are now importing almost all
foodstuffs, including bread, from neighbouring Botswana , Mozambique , South
Africa and Zambia.
New York Times
Published: July 18, 2008
To the Editor:
Now that efforts to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe and regional mediation have
failed to topple the Mugabe regime, what are the alternatives?
Having lived and worked intermittently in southern Africa since 1971, I
believe that there are lessons to be learned from the defeat of apartheid.
A divestment campaign in the United States pressured the minority regime.
Eventually, in 1985, Gavin W. H. Relly, the chairman of the Anglo American
Corporation, defied South Africa's official policy and led a delegation of
business leaders to meet privately with the banned African National Congress
in Lusaka, Zambia, where they discussed the transition to a new order.
In Zimbabwe today, there are fissures within President Robert Mugabe's
cohort. The objective should be to hive off the elements ill served by a
sham regime and collapsed economy. Absent the Mugabe clique, the prospects
for democracy in Zimbabwe, a country with a vibrant civil society and highly
skilled work force, are excellent.
James H. Mittelman
Bethesda, Md., July 12, 2008
The writer is a professor of international affairs at the School of
International Service, American University.
To the Editor:
By vetoing sanctions against Zimbabwe, Russia and China have made it clear
that the circle of totalitarian states takes in members of any size that
persecute, harass and kill their own people.
Tarrytown, N.Y., July 12, 2008
The writer was the chief editor of the ideological advisory staff of the
Voice of America during the cold war.
By Rebecca Bream
Published: July 18 2008 03:00 | Last updated: July 18 2008 03:00
Central African Mining and Exploration, the mining company run by ex-England
cricketer Phil Edmonds, unveiled more than doubled full-year pre-tax
The company also said it would start mining platinum in Zimbabwe next year.
Camec's cash flows come from copper and cobalt mines in Democratic Republic
of Congo, and an expansion of production combined with higher metals prices
led to a 39 per cent rise in revenue to £96.6m for the year to March 31.
Camec's operating expenses jumped from £12m to £35.8m, but profits were
boosted by a £32.5m gain on the sale of shares in Katanga Mining, a rival
copper miner in DRC that Camec unsuccessfully tried to buy last year.
Pre-tax profits were £54.2m, while earnings per share rose from 1.3p last
time to 2.8p.
The bid for Katanga was scuppered by opposition from the DRC government and
from Dan Gertler, a mining entrepreneur and leading shareholder in Katanga.
Camec's relationship with Mr Gertler has since improved, however, and
earlier this year he sold his half of the Mukondo Mountain cobalt mine to
Camec, which owns the other half, in return for a 40 per cent stake in the
Camec also owns coal projects in Mozambique, bauxite deposits in Mali and
recently attracted criticism by buying Lefever Finance, an owner of platinum
assets in Zimbabwe.
There have been reports linking these assets to members of the ruling Zanu
PF party in the country, but Camec has denied any of the proceeds of the
sale were paid to Zanu PF.
Camec yesterday defended its strategy of entering politically risky parts of
the world, saying it believed its approach of "making early stage
investments in countries in transition is the best way to generate
The company said it employed more than 1,000 people in Zimbabwe and will
employ many more once the platinum mine is up and running, which is expected
Camec said it would continue to look for mining acquisitions across Africa.
The shares rose 3½p to close at 45p.
July 18, 2008
By Our Correspondent
WINDHOEK - A Southern African Development Community (SADC) court is now
expected hand down landmark ruling on a case in which a group of Zimbabwean
white farmers are appealing against the compulsory seizure of their land by
President Robert Mugabe's government.
The court has listened to arguments since Wednesday from lawyers
representing the Zimbabwean government and those of the white farmers who
have challenged the seizure of their land for the resettlement of landless
An official with the Namibia-based regional court told the Zimbabwe Times
that the court adjourned Thursday to prepare a ruling on the matter but did
not specify the exact date on which the ruling will be delivered.
"The case has been postponed to a later date for a ruling but the date has
not been determined. The other two cases in which the farmers who have
already been evicted off their farms were seeking redress were thrown out
while the one in which the farmers complained about the violations of an
order protecting them against further occupation was pushed to September,"
said Dennis Shivangulula, an official with the Windhoek-based regional
In his arguments Advocate Jeffrey Gauntlett, who represented the Zimbabwean
farmers at the hearing in the Namibian capital, Windhoek, told the five
judges of the Southern African Development Community tribunal that the
expropriations were unconstitutional, discriminatory and contravened the
14-nation bloc's founding treaty.
"The treaty says that SADC member states shall not discriminate against any
person on grounds of gender, religion, political views, race, ethnic origin,
culture, ill-health or disability," Gauntlett said.
"My clients are not against land reform, if done according to the law, but
what the Zimbabwean government did was to simply publish lists of the names
of farms and took the farms away the next day, giving them to government
officials, not even to deserving black farmers."
Gauntlett told the judges that several of his clients, including the
76-year-old chief applicant Michael Campbell, had been assaulted in violence
which had followed disputed elections in Zimbabwe.
Campbell who is the main complainant in the case failed to travel to Namibia
after he and his wife Angela were severely beaten last month on his farm
outside the town of Chegutu 100 kilometres west of Harare.
Zimbabwe's deputy attorney-general Prince Machaya who represented the
government of Zimbabwe told the hearing that the SADC treaty was merely "a
set of guidelines for member states" and the expropriations were necessary
as almost half of the fertile land in the former British colony was "in the
hands of white settlers" at independence in 1980.
He denied that Mugabe's controversial land reforms, which had so far seen
about 4 000 farms taken over by the state, had only affected whites.
"It was unavoidable that some white farmers were affected, but 21 black
farmers also lost their farms between 2000 and 2006," Machaya stated.
The regional court last December temporarily barred the Harare government
from confiscating Michael Campbell's land pending the hearing of an
application by the farmer challenging the legality of Mugabe's programme to
seize white land for redistribution to landless blacks.
In a later ruling, the Tribunal allowed applications from 77 more Zimbabwe
white farmers to be combined with Campbell's application so they could be
all dealt with as one.
The farmers want the Tribunal to declare Mugabe's controversial land reform
programme racist and illegal under the SADC Treaty.
Article 6 of the regional Treaty bars member states from discriminating
against any person on the grounds of gender, religion, race, ethnic origin
A ruling declaring land reform illegal would have far reaching consequences
for Mugabe's government, opening the floodgates to thousands of claims of
damages by dispossessed white farmers.
Such a ruling could also set the Harare government on a collision course
with its SADC allies particularly if it - as it has always done with court
rulings against its land reforms - refuses to abide by an unfavourable
Farm seizures going back to 2000 are blamed for plunging Zimbabwe into
severe food shortages after the government displaced established white
commercial farmers and replaced them with either incompetent or inadequately
funded black farmers.
Food production has plummeted as a result.
Thursday, 17 July 2008 21:28
SIMBA Makoni's Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn national coordinating committee
meets today to finalise the transformation of the project into a
fully-fledged political party.
The party will be known as the National Alliance for Democracy (NAD).
Sources within the movement told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday
that the move was agreed to at a national management committee meeting on
"The national management committee met on Tuesday and deliberated on
the issue of transforming the movement into a political party," one source
said. "The committee agreed that the name of the party would be the National
Alliance for Democracy and already a draft constitution has been put in
It was also revealed that the management committee was working on the
party's manifesto that would be used to canvass votes in future elections.
"There will be a meeting soon where the national coordinating
committee will be briefed by the national management committee on what has
transpired so far towards the formation of the new party," the source said.
"This is the same meeting that will decide when the party's first
congress, which will elect the leaders of the party, will be held," the
Makoni has been the leader of the movement since he launched his
presidential bid on February 5.
In the March 29 elections Makoni got 8% of the total votes cast.
Makoni's total turned out to be the vital vote that both Tsvangirai and
Mugabe needed to avoid a run-off that was eventually held on June 27.
Mugabe won the run-off with 85,5% Tsvangirai pulled out of the race at
the eleventh hour.
By Nkululeko Sibanda
Thursday, 17 July 2008 20:35
THE Zimbabwe Independent (July 11 - 17) ran an article on how
insurance company management, pension fund management, regulatory
management, actuarial management and asset management constitute a black
hole for public social security investments.
A direct consequence of this mismanagement-induced black hole is the
destitution among pensioners and destitution when other social ills like
death, ill-health, disability and so on strike.
This destitution, among other symptoms, is really a manifestation of
an economy that is not performing -- in this case as a consequence of
mismanagement by management types mentioned above. Simply put the said
management are, in aggregate incapable of investing in matching investments
and infrastructure, to mitigate the destitution, investments like real terms
investment, investments in hospitals and so on.
It turns out that it is not the only economic sector where
economically damaging management malpractices such as these abound. If the
commentary responses received by the author in support of discussions made
herein this article and comments to chastise business malpractices in
general are anything to go by, management malpractices and incompetence is
rampant in Zimbabwe. It therefore turns out that it is not just the politics
and government that's holding a strangle on the economy, management
malpractices and incompetence are contributing to the economic malaise with
a veiled force just as severe as the political strangle.
To turn to the comments in corroboration, the one comment from as far
afield as the USA gave specifics on how some insurance operating in Zimbabwe
had actually defrauded the public in the process sustaining the downward
spiral of the economy. The most interesting emotive feedback poured their
heart out lamenting how a clique of business executive management have done
the rounds over the years, in institutions within the bounds of Harare
picking up Mercs, Prados, and other such executive cars that revert to their
ownership while effectively destroying value in the said institutions --
they have nothing tangible or proven to show for being in their positions
for so long, except for being there in the positions "ceremoniously". It is
alleged that their technique to get into, and keep in the clique is
simple -- get a few public eulogies in the press or elsewhere for qualifying
in something or being promoted/appointed to something "important", keep a
"work program" of meetings that keeps you away or shields you from the real
work of planning and executing that all executives should do, keep the image
right by going to golf clubs and stuff.
Yeah right have you regularly called an executive and consistently
received an answer to the effect "I am in a meeting"!; and have you called
into their offices and found them struggling with the laptops -- just
computer illiterate! However and thereafter, it's smooth sailing as a
"professional worker" as one comment had it. If you are in the know and
engage them, and they figure out you have caught up with them -- they point
a finger at the politics and government. In the meantime the latest Mercs,
Prados and other such executive cars keep being rolled out into Harare's
streets irrespective of the bad economic circumstances that they are
probably responsible for -- "have you heard people say 'That's Mr so-&-so's
Prado -- he is big at XYZ institution; and 'Oh that one is Mrs H's
Merc - -you don't mess with her at ABC institution" This apparently will be
in reference to the highly and publicly visible but allegedly incompetent
clique. Fancy what impact this divisive management strategy has on the
economy in aggregate.
It is difficult to ignore the veracity of such outpourings when one
observes that indeed that same clique has not significantly been affected by
the economic melt-down. Notwithstanding the competent performance of a
handful of executives that are well known to have kept their institutions
buoyant, the clique in question survive primarily because boards and
shareholders will take whatever they are told, because more often than not,
these same boards will not have the expertise and infrastructure to assess
and monitor performance of the incumbent management.
Even the competent executives fall for it, and contract incompetent
executives in their ranks. It's only after two -- three years down the line,
often more, when visible institutional value lost via the incumbent
executive becomes apparent, that the board and shareholders are forced to
act. In the circumstances, the technique on the part of the executive is to
slip out of that institution "quietly" and "prey" on the next institution -
often using the clique as a networking tool. In some instances the
incompetent executive stays on for 'life' because they put in structures in
the boards that enable them to consistently manipulate the boards. In this
entire process they preclude the competent, the younger more energetic and
talented stock from doing anything, pretty much "hogging" the way for the
latter -- hence the massive unemployment rate of these younger groups.
Public emotions regarding this the said social security black hole and
other business malpractices are swelling inside -- the public just doesn't
know how to probe this problem for a variety of reasons ranging from a lack
of appreciation of how management in these various sectors should work to
counter actions by management to frustrate any such efforts.
The only way out for Zimbabwe to root out incompetent management is to
use regular appropriate quantitative management performance measurement
coupled with qualitative performance measures in the boards. This will
require appropriate corporate governance infrastructures including skilled
audit committees to assess the efficiency of business processes. Objective
and appropriately skilled commissions of enquiries should occasionally be
instituted when it is believed that there are widespread problems such as
the perceived "pensions and insurance black holes".
Civil society and other pressure groups should be brought to bear on
incompetent management that adversely affects the public. Indeed this has
worked elsewhere internationally - witness the Equitable in the UK when
management sought to short-change policyholders, the pensions mis-selling in
the UK again when the pensions subscribing public would have lost pension
benefits from mis-selling by pensions providers. In each case management
caught out, paid dearly and the incoming management have to think twice.
This is just to give examples in the insurance and pensions industry. This
can be applied in all economic sectors.
l Tarusenga is Principal Consultant with Systemics Consulting;
contact - Mtarusenga@aol.com, Tel: 091 889 716; 04 2931019
Thursday, 17 July 2008 20:31
THE weakening of the Zimbabwe dollar against major currencies has been
a reflection of the rise of real prices of commodities relative to prices of
the same goods in US dollars.
Considering exchange rate relationships, an exchange rate of US$1 to
$75 billion measures in part how much of a good (for example one loaf of
bread) is paid in US dollars relative to the price for the same good in
Zimbabwe - the purchasing power parity.
It can be observed that the parallel exchange rate of US$1 was $1,9
million on January 2 before it shot up to above $75 billion on Thursday this
week, but price levels of goods purchased in the US remained at US$1 between
January and July 16, while the price levels of the same goods over the same
period in Zimbabwe moved in relative terms from $1,9 million to $75 billion,
representing 39 473 584% inflation per annum. A bank transfer is being done
above $28 trillion.
The crash of the dollar against major currencies has eroded the
purchasing power of consumers who were already reeling from high prices and
shortages of basic commodities. Apart from the fall of the dollar on the
parallel market, there was a state of collapse of certain systems like
water, communications, power, education and health.
Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG) group economist David Mupamhadzi
said the movement of the dollar on the parallel market reflected high demand
and depressed supply.
"The impact is being felt by the ordinary man on the street as prices
of goods and services are being priced using parallel market rates when
disposable incomes are not being adjusted in line with parallel market
rates," Mupamhadzi said.
Other major trading currencies the British pound, the South African
rand and Botswana pula were moving around the benchmark US dollar rate.
The local unit was trading above $1,4 trillion and $800 million to the
British pound and the South African rand.
Mupamhadzi said the situation had become so bad that companies and
individuals were buying foreign currency as an investment tool to hedge
themselves from inflation.
"The country urgently needs balance of payments support since it does
not have capacity to generate enough foreign currency," said Mupamhadzi.
Some exporters this week said the fair value of the Zimbabwe dollar
was estimated to be above $1 trillion to the US dollar.
The fair value is the realistic value of the currency taking into
account inflation differentials between Zimbabwe and its trading partner
countries. It is not necessarily the official exchange rate.
Economic consultant, John Robertson, said depressed production and
shortage of foreign currency was driving parallel market rates up.
"The mechanisms being addressed by government have over the years been
wrong as the scarcity problems and production side are not being addressed,"
The dollar has lost value to the extent that streets are paved with
discarded Zimbabwean dollar notes which is not common in any country in the
world and nobody bothers to pick them up.
According to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, 80% of the country's
population is unemployed and living below the poverty datum line.
Finance minister Samuel Mumbengegwi blames the economic decline on
sanctions which he said were advocated for by the opposition Movement for
The rate at which the Zimbabwe dollar was losing value on the parallel
market indicates how local money is quickly becoming worthless, payments in
kind and barter trade are slowly becoming the order of the day.
Price quotations are now valid for one day. Leading retail giants
Edgars have taken to marking up after every two or three days.
Economists said the country's economy is being carried by the informal
sector, arguing that if it was totally formal, it would have collapsed a
long time ago.
Apart from demand and supply, the direction of the movement of the
dollar had been triggered by inconsistent economic and political policies by
government and the Reserve Bank.
Genesis Bank group economist Brains Muchemwa said the fall of the
dollar on the parallel market was a result of more imported inflation on
household balance sheets, especially considering the high propensity to
import caused by the huge output gap that exists in Zimbabwe.
"Because wages are not indexed to the exchange rate depreciation,
consumers get worse off. Of late the sharp depreciation has emanated from
acute broad money supply growth and heavy imports for almost all commodities
as evidenced by availability of imported South African goods in most retail
shops in town, from toothpaste to juices that are not under price controls,"
Muchemwa said there was no way to stop the current acute depreciation
at the present moment, so the freefall might continue for a while longer.
By Paul Nyakazeya
Thursday, 17 July 2008 20:27
ANXIETY continues to grip the business sector after President Robert
Mugabe's controversial re-election and his imminent drive towards the
implementation of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act.
About 12 companies listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange and an
estimated 80 foreign-owned companies could be affected if the Act is
Last week Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Paul Mangwana said
his ministry "was still vetting short-listed candidates" that would run a
government board tasked with implementing the law that was passed in April
Mangwana said his ministry was at an "advanced stage," in implementing
the Act, adding that the law would only affect selected companies. President
Mugabe, according to Mangwana, was still assessing the would-be board
The legislation seeks, among other things, to force foreign-owned
companies to cede a 51% share to "indigenous" investors.
Analysts who spoke to this paper questioned the modus operandi of the
"empowerment" exercise with some saying that the law was awash with "grey"
clauses that would make it difficult to put into practice.
"Nobody knows exactly whether the new government will implement the
political promises that were made during the elections," said businessman
"This (anxiety) is heightening business and country investment risk
which in turn could leave business on the edge."
"This law has a lot of grey areas," said one analyst. "It does not
candidly explain the term 'foreign-owned company' and it is also driven by
perception. South African companies owned by whites are likely to be
affected whilst black-owned foreign companies might be spared."
Gold miner Mettalon which is owned by SA businessman Mzi Khumalo is an
example of a company that might be spared.
Targeting the capital-intensive mining sector, analysts warned, could
paralyse the sector already reeling from acute foreign currency and power
However, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) said
foreign-owned companies had the discretion to voluntarily off-load their
controlling stake to local investors.
"Our understanding as CZI is that the law will be applied without
segregation," said CZI president Calisto Jokonya.
"The clarification we got from the ministry is that foreign-owned or
non-indigenous companies can take the initiative to indigenise their
companies by inviting indigenous investors of their choice."
This week businessdigest looked at some of the listed companies that
are likely to be affected by Mugabe's empowerment policy thrust - which
became the pinnacle of his campaign trail in the just ended polls.
British American Tobacco (BAT) has 56,95% shares owned by BAT
International Holdings. This stake represents close to 10 million shares
allotted to the United Kingdom-based investors. Insurance giant, Old Mutual,
which is also likely to be affected by the legislation is the second largest
shareholder, owning 17,41% through its life assurance arm.
Barclays Bank - Afcarme Zimbabwe Holdings - a locally incorporated
company owns about 68% stake in the listed concern. Recently, British
Liberal Democratic MP Norman Lamb claimed that Afcarme was a conduit of the
England based bank.
Cafca - British company London Register owns 74,21% of the copper
electric cable manufacturing company. The company like many others is
reeling from acute foreign currency shortages and rising prices of metals on
the world market. Cafca operations were also seriously affected by the
closure of Mhangura Copper Mines owned by government's mining investment
arm, Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation.
According to independent analyst Ariston, Radar, Delta, Pioneer and
Murray & Roberts are some of the "foreign owned" companies that are likely
to stir immense controversy if government pushes for the change in
shareholding of these manufacturing companies.
Celsys, the industrial technology firm is controlled by multinational
conglomerate, Lonhro that has had a harmonious relationship with government
Hippo - Anglo-American Corporation have at least 50% controlling stake
in the agro-processing concern that was affected by the controversial land
reform programme in 2000.
Old Mutual Zimbabwe Ltd is an international company wholly owned by
Old Mutual plc. Local shareholders own around 93 million shares in the
insurance giant representing about 1,7% of the total issued shares in Old
Mutual plc. The company in its prospectus boasts of spearheading the
"Old Mutual is often viewed as a very influential investor both on the
stock market and in the real estate sector," read the prospectus.
"Its investment activity is often labelled "foreign.we believe that
the demutualisation of the old society is probably the biggest empowerment
exercise in this country. Main beneficiaries were ordinary people - workers
By Bernard Mpofu
Thursday, 17 July 2008 20:24
IT is almost a year now since the onset of the global stock markets
"bloodshed" and investors are increasingly looking to frontier markets for
These markets have long been considered no-go areas for international
investors but, thanks to the tailspin on both emerging and developed
markets, many are turning to them. Whether this signifies a change of heart
or is a short term measure expected to last until the dust in other markets
settles, remains unclear. In the interim though, the "frontiers" will play
host to the restless investors which should continue to drive share prices
up, before the downturn eventually reaches them.
"Frontiers" are small, less accessible but investable markets that are
generally considered to be at an earlier stage of economic development. They
can have as few as 15 listed stocks with total market capitalisation as
small as US$1 billion. Because of their size, the frontiers tend to be
illiquid such that a transaction of, say, US$10 million can take a week to
execute. They exist at the periphery of the emerging markets in places such
as sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, Eastern Europe and the Caribbean. The
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) falls in this group.
They differ from emerging markets which are countries that are
experiencing rapid industrialisation, have adopted market capitalism and are
showing great potential as good investment areas. The countries in this
category include South Africa, India, Brazil, Russia and China among others.
Over the years these countries' stock markets have evolved and now exhibits
close relationships with the developed world.
The recent heightened interest on the frontiers is to a greater extent
because of their low correlation with the developed markets. There is less,
if any, relationship between them and the emerging markets, and even among
themselves. Each market is unique. For instance, the ZSE was not affected by
9/11 World Trade Centre attacks and recently the global credit crisis
escaped unnoticed on the local bourse. (A different school of thought,
however, attributes the isolation of the Zimbabwe from the world markets to
exchange control which impacts directly on income and capital flows
especially in an outward direction.)
In the low tier markets, stocks move in ways that make little sense to
outsiders. Investors on the markets respond to a host of issues such as
hyperinflation, power outages, political uprisings and even floods.
Frontiers behave in a manner alien to international investors because they
are decoupled from global markets. Rising inflation, for instance, prompts
selling on the US stock market while on the ZSE investors pile into equities
as a hedging mechanism against hyperinflation.
To many foreign investors who thrive on value investing, charting and
sophisticated valuations, frontiers are not an option. Risk seeking
individuals and institutions such as hedge funds and private equity firms
make up the majority of investors showing interest in undeveloped markets.
Zimbabwe has seen a number of these interested suitors recently with reports
that even more have a soft spot for the country's assets.
The drawbacks of frontier markets to prospective foreign investors
include lack of information, inadequate regulation, non-transparency,
substandard reporting and illiquidity of shares. Their other shortcoming is
the inability to transfer profit. One would argue that these risks are
adequately compensated by abnormal returns obtained in these markets.
Over the past five years, frontier markets have outperformed both
emerging and developed markets, according to the numbers released by the
Standard and Poor's. The S&P/IFC Frontier Index, an index which measures
performance of 37 frontiers, returned an average of 37% per annum over the
past five years. During the same period the MSCI Emerging markets index
returned 25% per year. The Frontier Index return was almost five times the
total return achieved by the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index which
measures performance of top US companies.
The "frontier effect" is also noticeable on the ZSE albeit to marginal
extent because of the economic depression. A number of foreign institutions
have expressed interest in local assets. Renaissance Capital and LonZim
recently invested in ZSE companies. The local bourse returned about 60% in
2007 to end the year at US$5 billion.
In June 2008, the ZSE posted its highest ever monthly growth of 15
034% despite high political uncertainty. This represented real growth above
the parallel and interbank rates which returned 6 900% and 1 897%
However, the Old Mutual Implied Rate (OMIR) was ahead of the
industrials as it grew by 20 937%. The price of Old Mutual on ZSE was firm
while in London (LSE) it went down by 21% to 90 pence. The slump in price
was in tandem with the general bearish sentiment on major exchanges in June
which saw the FTSE 100 losing 7% while the Nasdaq and Dow Jones industrial
average retreating by 9% and 10% respectively.
The accumulation of capital in the developed world is driving down
returns in these areas leaving investors to look to peripheral markets for
high returns. But this involves increasing risk. Moreover there is no
certainty that average returns will rise.
The Middle East has long been seen as a potentially lucrative area to
invest but political and economic tensions, precisely because of their oil
resources, make many fund managers nervous.
India and China are obviously less risky but growth and change in
their domestic economies can be expected to exacerbated domestic tensions
and promote heightened international rivalry.
By Rangai Makwata
Thursday, 17 July 2008 20:21
WHILE the country's economy has crumbled, the Zimbabwean share
speculator has been earning returns above inflation, keeping up much better
than ordinary citizens.
Figures gathered by businessdigest this week show that the Zimbabwe
Stock Exchange's mainstream industrial index rose by a record two million
percent between January 1 and June 30, while the resource index rose by 1,9
million percent during-- the same period.
TA Holdings' share gained the most during the period under review
increasing 7,1 million percent during the six months, while Radar gained 6,6
million percent, Cafca - 6,2 million percent, CFI - 4,7 million percent and
TSL 4,5 million percent.
The bottom five counters which gained the least are Halogen - 113
900%, Chemco - 178 471%, Zimplow - 222 122%, Zimnat - 239 900% and Medtech -
This jump in share prices was in excess of increases in consumer
prices which averaged 1,2 million during the same period.
Events that stimulate Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - a country's
wealth, inevitably drives stock prices up, and any event that hurts GDP
growth pulls stock prices down.
The opposite has however been happening in Zimbabwe: share prices are
rising while the economy continues to collapse.
ZSE chief executive Emmanuel Munyuki, said the market performed "very
well" although it was inflation-driven.
"The market was responding to rising inflation. The movement of share
prices were inflation-driven during the first half of the year," Munyuki
Economic analysts said excess growth in money supply was giving a
wrong impression to investors who use the stock exchange as a barometer for
Zimbabwe's economic performance.
The country has been suffering from catastrophic economic and
political policies, largely blamed on President Robert Mugabe's government.
The only means for government to fund itself has been printing money.
The stock market has become a prime beneficiary of any monetary
expansion. Fresh money enters the economy first through banks and other
financial entities who may invest it in shares, or lend it to others who buy
Thus stock prices rise above prices of food and other investment
vehicles and will outperform them as long as this monetary process is
allowed to continue.
"The stock market has provided investors with an alternative lucrative
investment option given the depressed performance of other markets like the
money market. A number of investors preferred to take refuge on the stock
market because returns have been tracking inflation," said Zimbabwe Allied
Banking Group (ZABG) group economist David Mupamhadzi.
He said with inflation continuing to hit all time highs most investors
found the stock market to be a viable investment avenue, as returns on the
other investments remained in "negative territory".
Trillions of dollars were made during the period under review as
investors either leveraged the embarrassingly low interest rates or used
their own funds to generate huge returns, which was not based on production
ZB Financial Holdings group economist Best Doroh said the stock market
was largely been driven by investors trying to lock in value in an
environment where there were very few investment options.
"To a large extent, speculators have also taken advantage and invested
on the stock market," he said.
Economic analysts said with inflation currently at 9 030 000% keeping
Zimbabwean dollars in the pocket will result in losing half of their value
by the next day. Putting money in the bank, where rates are "not
competitive", and a maximum withdrawal limit enough to buy one loaf of bread
was not wise.
Investing in government bonds is the equivalent of financial suicide.
Converting the local currency into foreign currency is difficult, hard
currency is scarce, and strict rules limit exchangeability.
There is little incentive at unit trusts and the money market since
economic prospects look so bleak. Metropolitan Bank group economist Nyasha
Mandeya said the stock market was driven by Asset Price Inflation, gloomy
inflation outlook and negative real returns on the money market.
"The stock market was mainly subdued by political environment which
presented uncertainty as to economic direction. The market was also buoyed
by the conditions of excess liquidity emanating from concessionary funding
facilities such as Aspef, Basic Commodities Supply Side Intervention
(Bacossi), Farm Mechanisation and election related expenditures," said
Businessdigest understand that new money being printed was not
distributed to everyone equally and at the same time it was injected into
the economy at certain initial "entry points".
Some investors benefited from company earnings which skyrocketed in
Zimbabwe dollars on the back of revaluation of assets as the local currency
continues to lose internal and external value. Business was also taking
advantage of any distortions that arose in the economy whether they
constituted "core" business or not.
By Paul Nyakazeya
Thursday, 17 July 2008 20:05
ZIMBABWE'S main political protagonists - Zanu PF and the MDC - last
week started negotiations towards a political settlement in the country with
analysts arguing that the opposition had little leverage to wring
concessions from the ruling party.
The analysts were sceptical that the negotiations would bear fruit
given the ideological differences between the parties and the pre-conditions
they both set before the "real" talks commence.
Zanu PF and MDC negotiators met in Pretoria last week to come up with
a framework for the talks and a memorandum of understanding is expected to
be signed in Harare this week. Sadc, the African Union (AU) and
international pressure is mounting on Zanu PF and the MDC to reach a
negotiated settlement and end Zimbabwe's decade long crisis.
The crisis worsened last month after MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
pulled out of the presidential election run-off against President Robert
Mugabe citing escalating state-sponsored violence against his supporters.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission went ahead with the one-man-race
run-off, arguing that Tsvangirai's withdrawal had no legal effect.
Mugabe "won" the poll that was widely condemned with Sadc, the AU, the
United Nations and the G-8 resolving that the protagonists negotiate a unity
Britain, the United States and the European Union have said the unity
government should be headed by Tsvangirai on the basis that he out-polled
Mugabe in the first round on March 29 - a position dismissed by South
African President Thabo Mbeki who is the principal mediator in the MDC-Zanu
Mbeki argued that Zimbabwe, through the negotiations, should decide
Political observers said Tsvangirai has little leverage to wring
"real" power from the talks. They said he was relying heavily on
international pressure to bear on Mugabe to come up with an inclusive
Tsvangirai was also under pressure from the electorate to be part of
the solution as the voters could not just wallow in his electoral defeat and
wait for another election in five years.
But other political observers argued that while the MDC had little
leverage in the talks, the state of the economy and Zanu PF's lack of a
coherent policy response would favour the opposition in the talks as change
is at the core of what the country needs.
They argue that Zimbabwe had been fixed on the global radar and the
mere existence of targeted sanctions highlights the extra-territorial nature
of the crisis and its resolution.
"Zanu PF alone does not have a strategy for overcoming the negative
international sentiment about the rationality and sensibility of Mugabe's
continued reign," observed Zimbabwean-born South Africa businessman Mutumwa
Mawere. "The March 29 results stand in MDC (Tsvangirai)'s favour to the
extent that a legitimate claim can be made that the people of Zimbabwe want
a regime and leadership change."
He argued that the reason why Mugabe was still working with a cabinet
from his previous mandate after his inauguration was that he could not form
a government that ignores the outcome of March 29.
"He hopes that he can create a separation between Tsvangirai and his
colleagues, allowing him to form a government in which he can select MDC
representatives in parliament and senate as cabinet ministers," Mawere
"It is Mugabe who is in a political corner for the first time since
Independence. He needs the opposition to form a government. He needs
legitimacy and more importantly he cannot pretend that he has the
overwhelming mandate to govern."
University of Zimbabwe political science professor Eldred Masunungure
agreed with Mawere that MDC's strength is anchored on the March result that
confirmed a groundswell of public support of Tsvangirai against Mugabe.
As such, Tsvangirai enters the negotiations with almost unassailable
moral authority and legitimacy, Masunungure said. "The other strategic
leverage, if not more important than the moral one, is that the MDC holds
the key to unlocking the regime of sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe. It goes
without saying that the sanctions presently in place will not be removed
until and unless Mugabe cedes real power or agrees to meaningfully share
power with Tsvangirai."
Relatedly, Masunungure argued, the parlous state of the economy was
another sharp arrow in the MDC's quiver.
The MDC had until last week refused to enter talks until violence was
ended and Mugabe accepted the result of the first round.
"The opposition may be digging in their heels with these demands but
very few of them are likely to be met without recognising Mugabe as
president," argued Tinaye Garande, a Zimbabwean journalist based in London,
in an online publication.
"Zanu PF currently controls the army, police force and the
intelligence services, which gives it a distinct advantage in any
He expressed scepticism over the talks arguing they would not yield
much for the opposition as Mugabe was now in the political driving seat.
"Besides, the two political parties take off from two entirely
different angles; and their political ideologies differ. Zanu PF sees the
MDC leader as a puppet of the West and Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa
has called Tsvangirai a traitor saying the two parties' policies are
diametrically opposed," Garande added.
The fresh talks are being mediated by South Africa on behalf of Sadc
and supported by the AU and the United Nations Security Council.
The run-off has worsened the crisis in Zimbabwe, whose economy is
flagging, forcing millions of refugees into neighbouring countries.
Britain, the United States, the European Union and West African
countries like Sierra Leone, Liberia and Nigeria have been among Mugabe's
strongest critics, together with neighbours Botswana and Zambia.
"The MDC's leverage is based largely on whatever pressure the
international community can muster to change Mugabe's mind," argues
political scientist Michael Mhike. "The MDC is being encouraged by the
widespread condemnation of the run-off and the party hopes international
pressure will eventually compel Mugabe to engage in the serious talks and on
terms more favourable to the opposition."
Even MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa believes that the international
condemnation of the run-off outcome, especially from the AU, could work to
the party's advantage in the talks.
"Previously, Mugabe and his supporters were standing on the African
leg, but now that leg is artificial because Africa has spoken," Chamisa
said. "We are not in reverse gear anymore. We are in forward gear."
But other analysts argued that Mugabe and his inner circle would not
show any signs of being ready to relax their hold on power as they would
negotiate from a point of strength after Mugabe's "landslide victory".
"One basis for a face-saving compromise for Mugabe would be the fact
that his regime has recognised that the March 29 poll showed that the
opposition had a sizeable support and will be in control of the House of
Assembly," a University of Zimbabwe analyst who requested anonymity said.
"But rather than accept that as a basis for sharing power, the ruling party
will work hard to sow discord between the MDC's two rival factions in
The MDC, the analysts argued, should now move swiftly and make use of
its majority in the assembly to its advantage.
In the House of Assembly, MDC (Tsvangirai) has 100 seats and Zanu PF
has 99. MDC (Mutambara) has 10 and an independent has 1 seat. They have more
leverage negotiating as one MDC.
"Against this background, the MDC will have to move swiftly and engage
in talks with Zanu PF, if any change is going to obtain in Zimbabwe,"
Garande suggested. "The penchant for being overly dramatic and kicking up a
fuss will have to be substituted by rational thinking and sacrifices that
address the needs of the majority of the Zimbabwean people. Inevitably,
joint solutions are 'lowest common denominator'."
But Masunungure said Zanu PF was in a very weak state in the
negotiations because of the run-off.
"The UN Security Council vote last week - far from strengthening
Mugabe - may actually have weakened him and his negotiating power," observed
Masunungure. "This is because Mugabe is now indebted to Beijing, Moscow and
Pretoria for rescuing him and Zimbabwe from the jaws of sanctions."
Mugabe, he said, was now compelled to negotiate more earnestly than he
would otherwise do or had originally planned to do.
"They have to repay the goodwill by delivering a serious settlement or
at least demonstrating that they are negotiating in good faith," Masunungure
Some analysts observed that the MDC, unlike the African National
Congress (ANC) in South Africa during apartheid, had little leverage to
wring meaningful concessions from Mugabe and Zanu PF.
The ANC, analysts observed, during the Constitutional Convention for
Democracy (Codesa) to end apartheid in the early 1990s used its relationship
with the South African Congress of Trade Unions to engage in mass action to
compel President FW de Klerk's government to give in to its demands.
From the perspective of the ANC, the analysts argued, giving up mass
action as a tactic meant going into negotiations with far less political
The MDC, the analysts observed, had no leverage since the disputed
2002 presidential election to stake its share in the body politic of
Tsvangirai lost the election by over 400 000 votes to Mugabe amid
allegations of vote rigging.
Negotiations then between Zanu PF and the MDC collapsed after Mugabe
insisted that Tsvangirai should recognise him as the legitimate leader of
the country and also dismissed calls by the opposition for a new
Six years down the line, Zanu PF and the MDC are back at the
negotiating table after another disputed presidential poll and the outcome
is still a matter of conjecture.
By Constantine Chimakure
Thursday, 17 July 2008 20:03
TOBIAS Mapfumo (not his real name) was seated in a room he rents in
the sprawling high-density suburb of Kuwadzana, Harare, on July 1 awaiting
patiently to listen to a late night news bulletin to get a grip on the
latest political developments in the country.
He grabbed his portable radio and started tuning in to his favourite
radio station. It took a while to get a signal and as soon as the radio
started crackling away he quickly brought it close to one of his cold ears.
Mapfumo had tuned in to Studio 7 - an American station the Zimbabwe
government describes as a "pirate" broadcaster - and since the signal was
not clear, he stood on top of his single bed moving from one side to the
The smile on his face showed that the signal had become clearer.
Tendai Biti, MDC secretary-general, was being interviewed by the
station and insisted that talks between the opposition and Zanu PF were not
going to take place.
Biti was adamant that engaging in talks with Zanu PF would be a
betrayal of those who were killed in the post-March 29 harmonised elections
in alleged state-sponsored violence against MDC supporters.
The MDC claims that over 100 of its supporters were killed, plus 10
000 injured and more than 200 000 internally displaced.
The next morning, Mapfumo came across a copy of the state-owned
newspaper, The Herald, carrying a comment from MDC spokesperson Nelson
Chamisa saying the party was in favour of talks with Zanu PF to resolve the
Mapfumo, like most people in the past three weeks, was left confused,
not knowing what to believe regarding the MDC's position on the talks
initiated by Sadc and being mediated by South African president Thabo Mbeki.
The issuing of contradictory statements on the talks has become the
hallmark of the MDC, with political analysts this week saying it revealed a
crisis in communication for the opposition with the incoherence making the
party a problem to work with.
On July 1, Biti issued a statement dismissing as "malicious" and
untrue reports that Zanu PF and the MDC were negotiating a political
settlement and were on the verge of clinching a deal.
"As a matter of fact, there are no talks or discussions taking place
between the two parties and most importantly, there is no agreement in the
offing," he said, adding that the "election on 27 June 2008 totally and
completely exterminated any prospects of a negotiated settlement. It is now
the firm view of the MDC that those who claim they have got a mandate to
govern should govern. Chitongai tione."
Biti was further quoted by AFP describing the June 27 run-off as "an
exercise in madness".
"It showed us we were dealing with people who were not ready for
dialogue," he said. "Before June 27 you could say everyone was a loser
because they could argue they did not win the 29th of March election so it
was a give and take exercise. Now we have made it clear that June 27 would
block the arteries of dialogue."
Asked if that meant there could be no further dialogue, he replied:
"Dialogue to achieve what?"
These statements contradicted what Chamisa was quoted as saying in The
Herald of July1.
He said there was need for an urgent negotiated settlement.
"Our hope is that we have to ensure that we have a negotiated
settlement and understanding. We are warm to a negotiated settlement and we
believe that talking should be about genuine dialogue," Chamisa said.
On July 4, Chamisa was quoted again in The Herald saying that his
earlier position still stood and Biti's statement had been "overtaken by
These contradictions went on despite negotiators for both parties
being scheduled to hold talks between July 9 and 13 in Pretoria.
Biti - who is accused of treason, publishing falsehoods and causing
disaffection among the defence forces - had his bail conditions relaxed last
week for him to travel to South Africa for talks with Zanu PF - presumably
the same talks he said would never take place.
Eldred Masunungure, a professor of political science at the University
of Zimbabwe, said the incoherence in the voices of the MDC was as a result
of the different perspectives held by members on the key issue of whether to
negotiate or not with Zanu PF.
"There are hardliners and softliners in the MDC," he said. "The
hardliners (Tendai Biti and others) are of the view that this is not a good
time for negotiation while the softliners (Chamisa and Tsvangirai) want to
have talks. These contradictions confuse the electorate, the party's
stakeholders and those who are supposed to mediate."
Masunungure added: "There is need for the party to streamline their
line of communication and have one party spokesperson. How can you have a
secretary-general, the key adviser of the party, commenting or the party's
treasurer? Chamisa is the one who should be speaking on behalf of the party.
Tsvangirai, yes he can comment."
He said on the other hand Biti's contradictions could be excused
because he might have been traumatised while in police custody.
"Psychologically he was bound to say anything without thinking much
into it. The MDC should make it clear when they are speaking their mind and
when it's about the party's policies or position. They should learn to speak
with one voice," Masunungure said.
"Whatever politicians say should never be totally relied on."
National Constitutional Assembly chairman, Lovemore Madhuku, said the
MDC's contradictions have made it a difficult party to work with and made
their agenda unclear.
"The MDC has proved to be a problematic group to work with even for us
in the civil society," he said.
"What only binds us together is our bigger agenda of bringing
democracy to the people. In terms of a systematic programme, it is a
difficult group to work with."
Madhuku added: "The MDC is taking people for granted and they could
help everyone by becoming clearer in their agenda. MDC came at a time when
people were frustrated thus they managed to gain massive support without
much effort. They never learnt how to gain respect from the people, that is
why many politicians in the MDC are reckless in the way they deal with
Madhuku went on to give an example of Tsvangirai pulling out of the
run-off, how his statements differed from the party's treasurer-general Roy
Bennett in a statement came out strongly saying the MDC would not
withdraw from the election, but a day later Tsvangirai pulled out.
Analysts said unlike the MDC, Zanu PF was more organised in terms of
how they handled their communication. They said the party was more
articulate in expressing its position and spoke more consistently on policy
issues than the MDC.
"Their message may be asinine and distasteful but the whole party
signs up to it every day," one analyst pointed out.
By Wongai Zhangazha
Thursday, 17 July 2008 19:53
THERE is a sick joke made about Zimbabweans concerning their allergy
It is said if you want to hide something from a Zimbabwean, whether it
be information or money, the safest place is putting it between the pages of
a book. If it's information, Zimbabweans would rather go by rumour than find
out for themselves.
Zimbabwean journalists are the worst culprits, if not hypocrites. In
2000 I voted against the new constitution in the February referendum without
reading through it. Today, through debates and informal inquiries, I have
discovered it's possible less than 50% of those who rejected the document
never read it. We followed the rumour that it gave President Mugabe too much
power, and therefore bad.
I still believe it was only the white commercial farmers and their
colleagues who knew fully why they rejected that constitution: it would have
allowed government to seize their farms without compensation "except for
improvements" on the land. But on the whole, it set clear term limits for
the president. In retrospect, people now believe overall it was a good
document but out of ignorance we threw out the baby with the bath water.
Even the famed American constitution has had 27 amendments but still retains
the spirit and aspirations of the nation's founding fathers.
Another document I have not read in full is the Zimbabwe Democracy and
Economic Recovery Act signed into law by President George Bush in 2002. It
complements the so-called "targeted sanctions" imposed on Mugabe and his
inner circle for human rights violations by Britain and the European Union.
Together these sanctions put crippling limits on Zimbabwe's ability to
interact with the "international community", especially multilateral
financial institutions like the World Bank and the IMF.
This has had a devastating effect on the economy and ordinary
Zimbabweans. It's nothing like a simple travel ban on selected government
officials. But again we are victims of our fear of reading, and we have
happily swallowed the line that we are immune to their harmful effects.
Unfortunately there is more coming. There are many Zimbabweans who are
furious that China and Russia on July 11 vetoed the United Nations Security
Council resolution sponsored by the US to "expand and toughen" existing
sanctions by adding 13 more culprits to the over 131 already banned from
travelling to the US and the European Union.
The campaign has a seductive selling line. Those being added to the
list have abetted or are directly involved in acts of violence against
opposition MDC activists. The UN sanctions were meant only to impose an arms
embargo on Zimbabwe, freeze the assets of those guilty of violence and ban
them from travelling outside the country. What sane person would object to
But why then would Botswana, which has openly refused to recognise
President Mugabe's election on June 27, join South Africa, Vietnam and Libya
in rejecting the sanctions?
Russia and China, apart from their own economic interests, were open
about their other objections. They want to give the dialogue between the MDC
and Zanu PF a chance. It would therefore be illogical to call for dialogue
while imposing sanctions on a party to the negotiations.
More importantly, they argued it would set a "dangerous precedent" in
which the United Nations becomes a partial arbiter in electoral disputes in
member nations, rather than maintaining world peace, an area in which its
image has been dented by its inability to stop the unilateral actions of the
The other nations seem to have seen what we are refusing to see. The
UN resolution sought to formalise sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe in 2002,
which Zanu PF has repeatedly termed "illegal". A UN seal would have given
the sanctions international acceptability and hurt ordinary Zimbabweans the
most. Botswana said as much, with Pandu Sekelemani saying closing the border
with Zimbabwe would not help resolve the political impasse but worsen the
humanitarian crisis. Local political players and their NGO cousins don't
seem to care.
But the veto is no occasion for merry making by Mugabe. There is a
huge bill for Mugabe and Zanu PF to pay for China and Russia's veto vote. It
means they have to negotiate in good faith with the MDC. As deputy
Information minister Bright Matonga warned last week, friends should not be
taken for granted. There is no guarantee that in future Russia and China
will use their veto power to protect Mugabe's government if there is no
clear commitment and progress in the talks.
The reverse side is the way the West tried to turn its biggest
diplomatic embarrassment in the June 27 elections debacle into victory by
calling for UN sanctions, where it again failed. The June 27 presidential
election run-off cannot be "a sham" merely because Morgan Tsvangirai
withdrew from the race at the last minute. The law is clear that the ZEC
could have declared Mugabe the automatic winner.
That would have been perfectly legal but a sham because Tsvangirai got
more votes in the first round. Mugabe's advisors appear to have seen through
the ruse. It's therefore disingenuous to harp on the March 29 result as if
Tsvangirai had rejected the June 27 run-off outright. We expect outsiders
who want to help to exert a positive influence towards a political
settlement than to use Zimbabweans as pawns in their private wars. Whimsical
references to the March 29 election result risk being exposed for the chink
they are in the MDC's armour, not strength.
Thursday, 17 July 2008 19:50
MORGAN Tsvangirai, the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), on Wednesday reportedly refused to sign a draft memorandum of
understanding (MoU) already agreed with the two other negotiating parties to
pave way for substantive power-sharing talks.
The MoU would have paved the way for serious and focused negotiations
between Zanu PF and the two MDC formations to agree on a government of
national unity or whatever arrangement was considered desirable under the
Sadc-initiated talks facilitated by South African President Thabo Mbeki. The
talks have the backing of the African Union and the United Nations.
Tsvangirai's faction, press reports said, had last week in Pretoria
agreed with other parties to the talks on a working framework. On Monday the
negotiators of the MDC and Zanu PF also agreed on the final draft of the MoU
which was due to be approved by their principals the following day before
Mbeki arrived on Wednesday for the signing ceremony.
However, Tsvangirai refused to approve the draft. The former trade
unionist threw spanners into the works in a bid to secure demands he has
been making. Tsvangirai recently said he could not attend a meeting with
President Robert Mugabe on July 5 because African Union Commission
chairperson Jean Ping had advised him not to attend. He is also insisting
that the MDC's preconditions, most notably those concerning violence, must
be met before the negotiations can begin.
Tsvangirai, who says the March 29 result should be the benchmark for
the talks, is also saying Mugabe must release over 1 500 political
detainees, swear in a new parliament and resume humanitarian aid. Above all,
he is demanding that a permanent AU envoy, preferably Ping, should be
appointed to assist Mbeki in his mediation because the South African leader
is ineffective, and even biased.
Mugabe initially demanded that he must first be recognised as the
legitimate president on the basis of his victory of June 27. This came after
world leaders, including African ones, rejected or refused to recognise as
legitimate Mugabe's "win" in the sham election in which at least 100 people
were killed and thousands of others injured or displaced in state-driven
Tsvangirai's demands are justified in the circumstances, except that
he is proving to be increasingly inflexible in the process. It's true that
during negotiations each party would want to use to maximum advantage its
leverage, but this should not be overstretched as it might end up
diminishing as a source of influence, especially in a state of flux.
From a purely negotiating point of view, Tsvangirai is right -
particularly on on-going violence - but he must be careful not to end up
biting off more than he can chew. He should not allow himself to be seen as
an impediment to progress.
Mugabe, who is desperate for talks to gain legitimacy and find a way
out of the economic crisis, has climbed down on his main demand that he must
first be recognised as president. Tsvangirai also climbed down last week
when he sent his negotiating team to Pretoria without his conditions being
met. This enabled South Africa's Dumisani Khumalo to claim in the Security
Council debate on sanctions that the two sides were talking, which
strengthened Russia's hand.
Tsvangirai must be flexible. This does not mean he should give away
his advantage but he must look at the broad picture instead of exclusively
and narrowly focusing on power. No doubt power is at stake here but it must
not be pursued to the detriment of the national interest.
Mugabe would want to gain legitimacy and retain the levers of power
during negotiations, but the best way to check him would be through a
calculated and coordinated strategy. Tsvangirai has enough leverage to
achieve this through a measured engagement. Throwing hands in the air and
sulking as demonstrated by the "Chitongai Tione" strategy is unhelpful.
No doubt for the talks to move forward Mugabe must stop repression,
violence and intimidation, but such demands should not end up being a
stumbling block to progress. And Mugabe should be reminded that the ANC at
Codesa did not ask its Western friends to lift sanctions until it was sure
that the democratic order had been firmly entrenched.
Quiz For Governor Gono
Thursday, 17 July 2008 21:43
THIS is an open letter to the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
Would you be courteous enough to answer the following questionnaire
which is a simple multiple-choice "quiz" and should take only five minutes
after which you can get back to work:
1. When did you get your June salary?
(a) on your normal pay day
(b) 10 days later
I ticked both (b) and (c) since mine was paid late because of the
chaos with the RTGS system at the banks and by the time I received it, it
was not worth anything, so it is as if I did not receive it at all!
2. How did you receive your June salary?
(a) via the trusty RTGS
(b) by cheque
(c) by cash
(d) by forex
Most of us who are FORCED to use (a) or (b) only received our June
wages on July 7 instead of July 26. Not only did the whole RTGS system fall
apart at the banks, but for the lucky few with ATM cards it was not possible
to withdraw anything as there was no cash in the machines. I then had to
queue - I being number 29 in a long line of tired, fed up customers - only
to be charged a "penalty" for cashing a cheque at the counter instead of
drawing cash from the (empty) ATM.
3. How much cash did you manage to draw at a time from your June
(a) as much as you wanted
(b) the maximum amount allowed
I ticked (b) but had to queue for three days to obtain sufficient
funds to purchase 10 kilogrammes of mealie meal, some relish and a bar of
washing soap. And by the way the prices of these goods went up as I stood in
the queues waiting for my cash, so our final withdrawal could not even cover
the cost of these goods and I had to reduce the quantities.
4. How much of your June salary do you still have today?
(a) most of it
(b) enough to last the next pay day
I am sure you have already guessed it - I have none and I am counting
the days on the calendar until July's payday. By the way I am not only using
valuable production time at my job by having to queue daily to draw piffling
amounts of cash, but I am also being charged ridiculous banking fees for the
"priviledge", which you forced on me when you directed that everyone has to
have a bank account. At the end of the day, I have to draw five times a week
to get enough cash together, which also means five bank charges. Is it any
wonder that by the eighth day of the month I have nothing left?
5. What form of payment do you use in order to meet your day-to-day
(d) no payment required
I have to tick (a) and (b) which is nearly impossible these days. Cash
is so scarce and restricted that I find myself having to forego or postpone
the necessary goods or services we require - and no one will accept my
cheques without a valid bank guarantee card - something I have been trying
to obtain from my bank albeit for 23 years. "No cards in stock", "no
lamination material", "the machine is not working", "the personal teller who
deals with this is not in today", "waiting for stocks from the UK", and so
it goes on.
And if any business, medical services or others condescend to accept
our cheques - because we are well known to them, we are "penalised" up to a
further 65% of the total value of the cheque because the "value" would have
decreased quite substantially by the time our collapsed banking system has
managed to process the transaction.
Gono, you appear to be oblivious to the "man on the street's" plight.
Perhaps the chaos and collapse that exist in our banking system is not
entirely your fault, but you are not doing much to remedy the crisis. I
think we need to involve the German firm - that aroused such indignation
from the government - in helping run the Reserve Bank and teach us how to
run a viable banking system. What do you think?
ZDI Refutes Arms Accusations
Thursday, 17 July 2008 21:40
ZIMBABWE Defence Industries (ZDI) has made very serious enemies after
it nabbed some mercenaries who were hoping to use Zimbabwe to purchase arms
to carry out a coup in Equatorial Guinea.
A Waldimar Pelser, who is said to have some close relations with Simon
Mann, a mercenary who is now serving a 34 year prison sentence in Malabo,
Equatorial Guinea, is on the rampage, writing articles in the media about
ZDI as the most evil company in Africa.
However, the author of these documents is so ignorant about what
happens in the arms trade. The UN has a database and precisely knows every
arms trader and where arms are traded. We in ZDI, in the first place do not
manufacture arms but ammunition. We specialise in training ammunition which
has no war head. In all our operations we have never dealt with any West
There is no such information in any data base on arms control. We have
never heard of the name Minim, who Pelser claims to be our trading partner.
We have never got any inquiry from any West African country about anything.
Charles Taylor is in the Hague now, why not ask him if he ever had any deals
with Zimbabwe? Where is Minim? Is it not easy for Pelser to question him
about all the imaginary transactions?
Pelser is also very ignorant and does not know that Zimbabwe has long
been under an arms embargo, right from the time we deployed our troops to
All that he is trying to do is campaign for arms embargo against
Zimbabwe, when in fact this was implemented ages ago. Only fools will
believe his story.
ZDI Public Relations Office,
ZEC Commissioners Must Account For The Election Farce
Thursday, 17 July 2008 21:38
I AM not a lawyer, but this seems quite straightforward to me.
The Electoral Act says that "the authority to govern derives from the
will of the people demonstrated through elections that are conducted
efficiently, freely, fairly, transparently and properly on the basis of
universal and equal suffrage exercised through a secret ballot".
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission is appointed in terms of the
Zimbabwe Constitution to conduct these elections and to "ensure" that they
are conducted efficiently, freely, fairly and transparently.
In the exercise of this function, the Constitution says, the
Commission "shall not be subject to the direction or control of any person
In addition to conducting the elections, the Commission is also
required by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act to monitor the Zimbabwean
news media to "ensure" that broadcasters, print publishers and journalists
observe the provisions of the Act in that:
*All political parties and candidates are treated equitably in their
news media, in regard to the extent, timing and prominence of the coverage
accorded to them;
*Reports on the election in their news media are factually accurate,
complete and fair;
*Political parties and candidates are afforded a reasonable right of
reply to any allegations made in their news media that are claimed by the
political parties or candidates concerned to be false;
*News media do not promote political parties or candidates that
encourage violence or hatred against any class of persons in Zimbabwe;
*News media avoid language that encourages racial, ethnic or religious
prejudice or hatred; or encourages or incites violence, or is likely to lead
to undue public contempt towards any political party, candidate or class of
person in Zimbabwe.
Finally, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act says that the
commissioners are required to exercise their functions in a manner that
promotes conditions conducive to free, fair and democratic elections. They
are not to do anything that may "give rise to a reasonable apprehension that
they are exercising their functions with partiality or bias, or place in
jeopardy their independence or the perception of their independence, or
compromise the Commission's credibility, impartiality, independence or
The electoral commissioners have arguably the most important job in
the country. It is their responsibility to protect the right of Zimbabweans
to choose their representatives in a free, fair and transparent election,
thereby giving those representatives the authority to govern.
It seems to me that the commissioners have failed in their mandate in
They have administered an election that has been adjudged either as
not free and fair, or as not reflecting the will of the people, by local
independent observers as well as those from Sadc, the Pan-African Parliament
and the African Union.
They have not stopped the state-controlled media from publishing and
broadcasting material that has been patently biased in favour of one
candidate without allowing the other any voice or right of reply, and have
allowed them to use language that, in my opinion, encouraged racial hatred
as well as public contempt towards the MDC and its presidential candidate.
There has been no transparency in the commissioners' reasons for
proceeding with a run-off election in which one candidate had indicated that
he did not wish to participate, suggesting that the commission might have
used vast public resources unnecessarily.
Nor has there been any transparency in their apparent ability to
collate, count and verify the votes in the run-off election in less than 48
hours, whereas the same task apparently took a month after the March 29
These and other actions of the commission have given rise to "a
reasonable apprehension" in me that their credibility, impartiality,
independence and integrity have been compromised.
It would appear that the commissioners have either voluntarily failed
to carry out their constitutional mandate, or have involuntarily been under
the direction of some other "person or authority", in which case they should
have made this public and resigned.
At the moment, commissioners George Chiweshe, Joyce Kazembe,
Theophilus Gambe, Sarah Kachingwe, George Kahari, Vivian Ncube and Jonathan
Siyachitema might be regarded as those initially responsible for failing to
protect many of the democratic rights of the Zimbabwean people in this
The Act gives them up to six months from the announcement of the
results to submit their report on the conduct of the election to parliament
and the contesting parties, but I believe that they should take
responsibility to explain more immediately their actions (and inactions) to
the voting public.
If you have plans of promoting your business or services come FIFA world cup 2010 to be held in South Africa please print this article – It might be all you need to survive.
Are you a farmer in citrus grower in Mazowe trying to find an international market to sell your produce ?
Are you a talented sculptor with stunning pictures of your works and struggling to market your wares through your website?
Or you just are just a talented poet or writer yearning to promote his or her work on the global village via your website?
Having a website is one thing. Having your visitors visiting your website is another.
Here I intend to discuss how to make your website visible on the internet by making your website search engine friendly so that when potential customers search for stuff of the Internet, your website comes up as one of the listed ones!
Ever wondered why so many businesses based in Africa have websites BUT when you search for services in Africa – you get websites built and hosted in either America or Europe?
Most websites do not come up on search engine searches because they are invisible to the search engines. Of course if you advertise your website on forums, other websites, newspapers, billboards – you will get exposure in that respect.
First things first.
Registering a domain name
In the modern world of the Internet, where people automatically turn to the Web for information, it pays to have a domain name that reflects your site or business. You can register a domain name any where in the world. You can register a .co.zw in Zimbabwe , a .co.za in South Africa or a .com in the US.
Domain names can be of any length up to 67 characters. So you register a name as short as www.o2.co.zw or www.MyResortCampingSafarisInKaribaDam.co.zw !!!
But before registering a domain name think carefully on how you choose the name. Choose a name that will make sense with your target audience. You don’t need an unnecessarily long, hard to remember domain name. Keep it simple and stupid. The earlier you chose a domain name the better chances you have that it’s still available. Domain names are disappearing fast by day. There are free services online to check and see if a domain name is still available. This service is called “whois”.
Free “whois' services.
Zimbabwe - www.zispa.co.zw/find.html
SA – http://whois.co.za
UK - http://whois.co.uk/
USA - http://whois.net
Hosting a website
It might NOT matter where you register your domain. But it certainly does matter where you host it. If you are putting up a site to lure “would be visitors” from Americas and Europe, your site better be hosted in that part of the world for faster accessibility. At present Zimbabwe’s international bandwidth is pretty limited .The impact of this is that some web pages take for ever to come up on the screen if you are accessing them from OUTSIDE Zimbabwe. Do your homework and make sure where you host your website on a reliable and accessible platform.
Not only should the web host be reliable and fast, it should guarantee its uptime (the time when it is functional). Look for a minimum uptime of 99%.This of course is challenging if you host your site with a provider that is more off line most of the time than online.
Zimbabwe has reputable and fairly reliable hosting companies that will also register a domain for you these include the likes of Telco , ZOL , Econet and Mweb.
Hosting sites in US or UK is reasonably affordable .You are looking at no more than $ 20 per month for hosting a website. Dozens of Zimbabwean websites have taken the internet by storm in the last 4 years or so. Web sites ranging from news , social sites , reunion sites , forums , dating sites , business sites have underlined people’s determination of not being left out of the online reality.
Designing your site
You either design the site yourself or you hire some professional to do it for you. Most web hosting companies in the US or UK provide templates for web site owners to simply customize the content and then publish the website.
The appearance of your site has a lasting impact on your potential customers who will visit it.If your site is dull and unattractive , you are assured that those visitors will not pass good word about your site and that they wont be too keen to make a booking to come to your hotel. Your website is what visitors see about your business when they go online. So , if your website is shabby , there is no reason why a visitor should buy a service or product from you.
Promoting your site
This is the gist of this discussion. There are several useful ways to promote and market your site. I have listed some of the methods below.
I will delve deeper on the last two as this is one area that has been identified as the weakest spot for most African websites – Zimbabwe included.The other means of promoting your website are self explanatory.
This put simply refers to all efforts undertaken by a website owner to make her / his website visible and searchable on the web. Optimization includes less obvious but very simple techniques that will make your website search engine friendly AND it (optimization) also involves sophisticated strategies that are modeled around a firm understanding of search engine algorithms and intelligence.
Below I touch on very important aspects of how to make your website “Googlable “.As you might know – if you cant find it in Google – it probably does not exist. The Google search engine is a monster – literally! So would it not be nice to see Chibuku or Ingwebu beer coming up after a user in another country searches for natural beer or just beer? Yes it can be done. Read on.
Submitting to Search Engines
Why submit my site to a search engine ? If search engines do not know about your website , then potential customers who use the internet to search for products and services will never know about your sculptor that you have posted on your website !
You might be the owner of the best farm that produces sweet potatoes in Ngezi and even if you have a website to promote your agricultural produce , it better be known by search engines.
Would people find you in a telephone directory if your name and number are NOT listed in the directory book ?
The top 4 search engines that you need to you to submit your website to include , but not limited to Google (67%) , Yahoo (20%) , MSN (7%) and ASK (4%) and other 2 %.These % are the market share values as of June 30 , 2008.
So how do you make your website known to the big 3 ? Below are the links where you need to go and register your website with a search engine for FREE. This is very crucial !
Google - http://www.google.com/addurl/
Yahoo - http://www.google.com/addurl/
More advanced techniques would also involve creation of SiteStamps. Put simply a site stamp is a file that you upload to you web server and that file contains a list of all accessible web pages on your sites. So when search engine like Google crawls your site , it will register in its system the names and number of pages your site contains so that its visible.
This is called indexing - literally what an oxygen mask is to an under sea diver. If you do not register your website with say Google – it will not be known. It’s that simple. When a user types in a query into a Google search engine, the Google systems takes a second to query what are know as index servers. These servers located all over the world contain UP TO DATE index of all the known and registered websites in the web! Look at it like a catalogue book when you go into a library. Or an index at the back of a book – summarizing the contents of what is inside. Similarly Google search asks all indexed pages in its databases(index servers). In the citrus example this would be - who has registered pages with “ mazowe fruits “ ? . And the index server with the citrus orange pages will respond with a snippet containing a page title that is posted as a listing in the search results.
If you want to have an idea of the items I have discussed above simply open Google and search for “ Soccer World Cup 2010 Hotels “ and tell me how many Zimbabwean tour operators and hotels come up in the search results page.
Such technological initiatives we expect to be spear headed by ICT Zimbabwe which I am not sure is still in existence ?
The economic challenges Zimbabwe face today can only be resolved at the same level at which they occur. Only we can help ourselves.
Questions and comments are most welcome. Ngiyabonga. Ndatenda.
Robert Ndlovu © 2008
IT & Telecoms Consultant
New York – USA