Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET)
Date: 18 Jul 2007
- Humanitarian assistance needed to fill
See attached report
This report covers the period from 5/31/2007 to 6/29/2007
Kumbirai Mafunda Acting Political Editor
Surprise reshuffle signals shift to radical policies
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe might announce a surprise reshuffle of his Cabinet
anytime soon, which ZANU PF insiders said would signal a further shift
towards even more radical economic and political policy, as his government
seeks to retain power in next year's harmonised elections.
Highly placed sources said the veteran nationalist, who has all but secured
a fresh mandate to represent the revolutionary party in the presidential
race, signalled the impending reshuffle when he appointed and re-assigned
permanent secretaries and heads of department on Monday.
The last Cabinet reshuffle was in February, in which the most notable
development was the dropping as Finance Minister of Herbert Murerwa, who had
been widely seen as one of the few reformists in government.
Events have however, turned for the worst since the February Cabinet
changes, with inflation soaring to a new high of over 4 500 percent, while
basic foodstuffs have disappeared from supermarket shelves following a
three-week crackdown on business.
This week, President Mugabe appointed two new permanent secretaries to the
Ministry of Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, and another for Economic
Development, while re-assigning two others and one principal director.
Official sources say the appointments are a precursor of changes to be made
in more senior positions. The lower level appointments have caused panic
among Cabinet ministers, most of whom had sub-contracted their
responsibilities to subordinates so as to direct all their energies to their
fight for political survival in their constituencies in next year's
elections, which were brought forward by two years.
President Mugabe usually reshuffles his Cabinet after elections, and a
reshuffle just months ahead of next year's polls will revive old stories
about in-fighting, and more recent speculation about divisions within his
team over the price blitz, which has dashed any remaining hopes among less
radical sections of government that they could still push for some economic
Sources said the Cabinet tinkering, will also afford the ZANU PF strongman
room to rethink government policy on the price war, which has hastened the
collapse of the country's economy.
Presidential spokesman George Charamba said he was not aware of a pending
reshuffle, pointing out he was on leave.
But a source said: "He (President Mugabe) wants to come up with an election
Cabinet to drive the agenda for elections."
President Mugabe routinely labels his different cabinets in line with a
dominant theme and he in the past has chosen "development", "turnaround"
and, more famously, "war cabinet".
The crackdown on businesses, which government defends as necessary to
cushion poor consumers that are at the mercy of profiteers, has turned into
a practical example of the monumental failure of government's economic
Consumers have cheered the price cuts, but store shelves have emptied and
left the poor even worse off.
Some government officials concede that Cabinet changes would do little to
rescue the country's economy, as several such shake-ups at crucial stages in
the past yielded nothing.
President Mugabe, if he proceeds with a reshuffle, would however, be likely
to load his Cabinet with the most radical of his lieutenants.
In 2000, the President appointed "technocrats" to his government, raising
hopes of reform. But he has gradually disposed of most of them, most notably
former industry and international trade minister Nkosana Moyo, former
finance minister Simba Makoni and Jonathan Moyo, the former information
Other figures considered as technocrats at the time, including Joseph Made
and Patrick Chinamasa, now form a hard core of radicals seen as being
opposed to reforms.
The price blitz itself has also shown that the rabidly radical section of
ZANU PF easily holds sway over what little pragmatism remains in the ruling
The drive has been spearheaded by Industry and International Trade Minister
Obert Mpofu and Elliot Manyika, the ZANU PF national political commissar who
said on a television talk show last Thursday that a prediction made by
former United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, that
inflation would reach 1 500 000 percent by December had galvanised the
government to embark on the price war.
Meanwhile, President Mugabe has reportedly retained faith in Police
Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, and would reward him with yet another term
The police commissioner's term, which expires next month, was extended last
year by a year.
Chihuri was first appointed commissioner in 1993, taking over from Henry
Mukurazhizha, who resigned in 1991.
President Mugabe extended Chihuri's term of office last year amid intense
jockeying by other senior officers, including the President's nephew,
Innocent Matibiri, who has made a mateoric rise through the police ranks.
Chihuri, who has been in the force since 1980 when he joined as a patrol
officer, was reported to have expressed his wish to retire.
Chihuri's reign has been dogged by criticism that police have become the
leading edge of the state's worsening rights abuses, notably the detention
and torture of opposition and civic society leaders in March this year.
Under Chihuri's stewardship, the police have been accused of harassing legal
officers and defying court orders.
MILLERS have reached a deadlock with their employers over salary increments
for July, forcing the parties to seek recourse from the government's Labour
Office, sources indicated this week.
The Labour Office is housed in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and
Social Welfare and acts as arbitrator in labour disputes.
The Labour Office has since summoned the industry's employers through the
Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe (GMAZ) to "attend proceedings" over
the "wage deadlock".
The Zimbabwe Grain Millers Workers' Union (ZGMWU) represents the workers in
However, GMAZ insists there is no dispute yet with employees over salary
In a letter to the Labour Office, dated July 12 and signed by GMAZ chairman
Tafadzwa Musarara, the employers charged that there was "no deadlock reached
yet between the Grain Millers Association of Zimbabwe and the trade union".
Musarara challenged the workers' union to "provide documentary proof" that
the two parties had reached a deadlock over the wage negotiations.
He implored the Labour Office to note that the grain millers had agreed on
four salary reviews.
"For the period from January to June 2007, we consented to four wage reviews
contrary to our CBA (Collective Bargaining Agreement) provisions," which had
made room for two wage increments, he said.
Part of Musarara's response to the summons by the Labour Office, a copy of
which is in possession of The Financial Gazette, said the millers were still
holding consultations on the way forward in the wake of "the government
directive to slash prices."
The letter added that the government directive to have all prices of goods
and services slashed by 50 percent had "left millers (operating) in the
The GMAZ chairman said due to the current economic situation in the country,
"negotiations will take longer than a single meeting. Salary review may and
can be affected in retrospect".
Industry experts said this week that millers had been hard hit by the
government's directive to slash prices and this had inevitably influenced
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
Debate rages over death penalty
THERE have been no takers for the gory job of hangman, and anti-death
penalty activists say this is evidence that Zimbabweans are opposed to
Activists say the time has therefore come for Zimbabwe to abolish capital
punishment. But as the debate rages, the courts continue to mete out the
death sentence, swelling the numbers on death row.
No one out of the millions of jobless Zimbabweans seems to be interested in
taking up the macabre job. This could be a reflection of the sentiments of
Zimbabwean society about capital punishment.
Traditional chiefs, anti-death penalty activists and government officials
met in Harare last week to discuss the possibility of abolishing the death
"We are here to solicit your views on the death penalty law in Zimbabwe. We
are coming to you as our elders and opinion leaders in our Zimbabwean
society," said Edson Chiota, coordinator of the Zimbabwe Association for
Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation of Offenders (ZACRO).
"The country has been failing to attract a Zimbabwean for the job of a
hangman since 1995. During the period between 1995 to 2001, Zimbabwe did not
carry out any executions, not because there were no people on death row, but
because there was no Zimbabwean prepared to take up the job," said Chiota.
"The executions only started in 2001 after the job was given to a foreigner.
If all of us are not prepared to take up the job, why do we want people to
Since the beginning of the year, ZACRO has been spearheading a national
anti-death penalty campaign.
The organisation has lined up meetings with traditional leaders, churches,
the general public and members of parliament. It will also embark on street
campaigns and the distribution of T-shirts inscribed with anti-death penalty
But the organisation is likely to find opinion sharply divided.
"You should be given a sentence in accordance with your crime. If you
deliberately kill, you should also be killed," Chief Makoni declared,
eliciting strong opposing views from his colleagues.
"Is it the custom in our culture that one who kills should also be killed?
If one kills, and we say they should be killed, are we solving anything? How
does the family of the person killed benefit?" asked Chief Bushu.
After heated debate, the consensus that emerged among the chiefs was that
tradition outlaws executions.
Some within civil society have inevitably given the debate a political
They say the death penalty is a relic of colonial legislation, a tool for
Wonder Chakanyuka, ZACRO's information and publicity officer, did not dwell
on whether the death penalty was being used to crush dissent. He focused on
the perception that the death penalty violated traditional norms and was a
throwback to the colonial era.
"It was used to intimidate and eliminate black people, and as Zimbabweans,
we cannot continue having this law on our books," he argued in a newspaper
"An increasing number of African states have abolished the death penalty and
Zimbabwe cannot afford to be left behind."
The Human Rights Trust of Southern Africa (SAHRIT) has also come out
staunchly against the death penalty saying it should be replaced by life
imprisonment to allow for "reflection and reform."
"The courts can sentence someone to death, but they cannot be 100 percent
sure that the person has committed the crime," said Noel Kututwa, SAHRIT
The office of the Master of the High Court was contacted to establish the
number of prisoners on death row but these efforts proved fruitless.
However, 70 executions are known to have taken place since 1980.
ZANU PF has dismissed outlandish claims diesel is oozing out of a rock in
The ruling party sent in a taskforce, comprising State Security Minister
Didymus Mutasa, Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi and Home Affairs Minister
Kembo Mohadi, to investigate claims that diesel was cascading down from
rocks in Chinhoyi and at Makuti in Mashonaland West.
State media had raved over what it said was "a diesel-like liquid" coming
down from the caves.
But last week, Mutasa's committee presented its report on its
investigations, dismissing claims of a diesel discovery.
ZANU PF spokesperson Nathan Shamuyarira at the weekend told the ruling party's
mouthpiece, The Voice that the team reported that there was no need to
pursue the claim any further as no diesel deposits had been found in the
"The team reported to the Politburo that there was no need to pursue the
issue as nothing convincing had been found, meaning that there are no
deposits of diesel in the area," Shamuyarira is quoted as saying.
The diesel that had been collected in the area was part of a "publicity
stunt" by a self-proclaimed spirit medium, whose intentions could not be
ascertained, the report said.
The spirit medium reportedly claimed that there were diesel deposits in
Mashonaland West, and had given out prohibitive conditions and procedures he
wanted followed so as to allow extraction of the "diesel".
A committee led by Deputy Police Commissioner Godwin Matanga, and including
security forces, government officials, supposed academics and traditional
leaders, also attempted to investigate the discovery of diesel in the
province before the Mutasa probe.
The Matanga committee had reportedly told the Politburo that it was
satisfied that the liquid flowing out of Chinhoyi and Makuti was pure
Experts say it is scientifically implausible that diesel would gush out of
any rock. Others speculate that the fuel is part of a large stash of fuel
hidden in the maze of caves by the Rhodesian military during the transition
But even more - including The Voice - agree that ZANU PF would have loved to
The paper said reports of a diesel find had "brought hope to many at a time
the country was experiencing fuel shortages."
Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief
BULAWAYO - The standoff between the Bulawayo City Council and the Zimbabwe
Local Government Association (ZILGA) continues.
The council insists it is not a member of the organisation and has nothing
to do with it. But one of its councillors Stars Mathe, the only woman
councillor in the 29-member chamber, is an executive member of the
ZILGA was supposed to have been a merger of the Urban Councils Association
of Zimbabwe (UCAZ) and the Rural District Councils Association, but
apparently UCAZ still exists and the council is paying its subscriptions to
the association and not to ZILGA.
Matters came to a head a fortnight ago when ZILGA invited participants to
its first women's conference that was held in Masvingo last week.
The council's executive committee said it would not sponsor any candidate
because it did not belong to the organisation. It said this was a resolution
passed on September 6 last year "that it should not pay expenses related to
ZILGA activities as it is currently not represented on ZILGA."
The committee had estimated that it would cost about $18.8 million per
delegate to attend the conference.
Clr Mathe was elected to ZILGA after her colleagues walked out of the
meeting of the two organisations that was held in Victoria Falls in August
last year. Bulawayo city councillors were against the merger of the two
Differences between the two associations were centred on politics. The
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) dominated urban councils
while the ruling ZANU-PF ruled the roost in rural councils. Bulawayo city
councillors felt that ZANU-PF had hijacked ZILGA and elections for the
executive were a farce.
Mathe crossed the floor from the MDC to ZANU-PF.
After failing to get sponsorship, a local weekly claimed that the council
had barred Mathe from attending the conference. In response, executive Mayor
Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, said the council had not barred her and could not have
barred her from attending the conference.
Since the Bulawayo City Council had nothing to do with ZILGA, the mayor
said, council could not pay her travel and subsistence costs. It could also
not send a delegate since it was not a subscribing member.
He also said contrary to reports that UCAZ was now defunct, Mathe had
attended two conferences organised by UCAZ this year, one in January and the
other in June. She attended six conferences organised by UCAZ last year
Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief
BULAWAYO - Shop owners are now familiar with the
pattern. Queues build up even before the shop opens. Members of the task
They order them to slash prices. People in the queue
stampede into the shop but only buy products whose prices have been reduced.
Within 30 minutes the shelves are bare. The "shoppers" move on to the next
While some residents have welcomed the price blitz,
which has seen prices reduced, sometimes to ridiculous prices, others are
complaining that it is "looters" and not genuine shoppers that are
They claim that most of the people buying the cheap
products may be hoarding them for the black market or they are relatives of
officials in the taskforce who are tipped about the "raids" before shops are
ordered to cut prices.
Genuine shoppers are usually stranded at home
failing to get transport to town or are at work.
A businessman who preferred anonymity said while the
reduction of prices was welcome because it brought sanity to the market, the
haphazard way in which the taskforce operated made a mockery of the whole
"The move is welcome because it had become difficult
for us to operate. You would order something, but by the time you sold out
your stock, the money that you made was not enough to buy new stocks. In
that sense the move is welcome because things had gone out of hand," the
"But the implementation leaves a lot to be desired.
There is so much confusion one cannot tell who is doing what. There are too
many people involved. One group comes and tells you to reduce prices. You
reduce them. Another comes and tells you that you are still overcharging.
You check the prices in the newspaper. They are OK. You begin to wonder, who you should listen to?"
A manager at one of the leading supermarkets said
while the price reductions were welcome, very few genuine shoppers were
benefiting. It seemed members of the taskforce were colluding with their
relatives or girlfriends to buy all the products whose prices had been
Employees of one of the country's leading
wholesalers said they were baffled because their established customers were
not the ones benefiting from the price reductions. Most of the people that
were buying products at reduced prices were new faces.
The vice-president of the Zimbabwe National Chamber
of Commerce for Matabeleland region, Charles Chiponda, said while some
business people were profiteering, a better organised way of dealing with
them should have been found.
He said it was grossly unfair for the government to
pounce on its partners in the Tripartite Negotiating Forum, which represents
government, labour and business and has been tasked with coming up with a
way to resuscitate the country's economy, because this clearly indicated
that the government was not negotiating in good faith.
"You cannot claim you want to negotiate with someone
while you are pointing a gun at him," Chiponda said. "If the government
wants to negotiate in good faith there should be no big brother versus small
brother. We should allow the best man to do what he does best."
Chiponda said politicians should stick to politics
and should not dabble in economics, farming or engineering.
"Arresting directors is not the answer because after
you release them then what? Politicians should understand that what makes
money to a businessman makes sense. What does not make money does not make sense.
"We should work together, allowing the best man to
do the job. Politicians should not want to be involved in everything. They
should get advice from experts in that field. When there is a problem at
Hwange Colliery, for example, why do we send a government minister there? He
is not going to solve the problem. We should send an engineer, even a
retired one," he said.
Kumbirai Mafunda Acting Political Editor
POLICE have seized food earmarked for relief aid from a warehouse in
Masvingo as part of the crackdown on the business sector, sources say.
Aid agency sources told The Financial Gazette this week that police arrested
the manager of a Blue Ribbon Foods warehouse, which stored relief supplies
sourced by CARE, an international non-governmental organisation (NGO).
Police proceeded to seize the consignment although CARE had formally
notified Masvingo Provincial Governor Willard Chiwewe that the group had
stored foodstuffs at the warehouse pending distribution to starving
villagers in the area.
In Mashonaland Central, NGO officials report that police impounded and
ordered the sale of a truckload of cement that World Vision International
(WVI) was distributing to schools in Rushinga.
Lazarus Dokora, Member of Parliament for the area, however, intervened to
stop the forcible sale of the cement after a WVI officer sought his
The crackdown on NGOs follows government's threats to swoop on aid groups it
claims are stockpiling foodstuffs to hand out to opposition supporters
before next year's elections as part of what the ruling ZANU PF government
sees as an international plot to effect regime change.
Aid officials say the current crackdown on relief agencies is reminiscent of
what happened five years ago when soldiers impounded food stocks stored at a
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) warehouse.
"What is happening now in terms of searching for perceived hoarders mirrors
what happened in 2002 when the UN food basket at the UNICEF warehouse was
forcibly taken by the army and the (UN) Secretary-General had to intervene.
The President had to apologise at a meeting in New York. What was taken was
given back," said one official.
To prevent further food seizures, NGOs this week suggested that humanitarian
coordinators should get a letter from the Social Welfare Ministry
authorising them to provide aid. To do this, they would need to store
supplies in appropriately leased warehouses with the knowledge of relevant
government or provincial authorities. Officials said the letter would enable
them to store or transport supplies.
SEED CO'S Botswana subsidiary, Seed Co International, has defaulted on its
loan repayment obligations to a syndicate of banks, The Financial Gazette
learnt from official documents.
The details of Seed Co's indebtedness are revealed in a statement
accompanying the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe (Cottco)'s financial statements
for the year to March 31, 2007.
Cottco holds a controlling stake amounting to 51.52 percent in Seed Co.
The company said Seed Co International had "not fully met its settlement
obligations arising from loans advanced by a syndicate of banks".
This was mainly due to higher than expected production in the region and
non-materialisation of some export orders," the group said in the statement.
Stocks held by fellow subsidiary companies however, adequately covered the
But besides these stocks, Seed Co International was "technically insolvent
and appears to have a going concern problem", the group said.
"The loan of US$8 million was raised to meet the seed purchases of fellow
subsidiaries during the year. At year end, the loan amounted to US$16
million and will be reduced over the next eighteen months," Cottco
The company's directors are however, confident that with the winding down of
current stocks through sales in the current market and reduced production,
the loan will be reduced to less than US$4 million in the next 18 to 20
Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter
TROUBLED Zimbabwean businesses have moved production schedules to evenings
due to the intermittent power supplies from the Zimbabwe Power Company, a
wholly owned subsidiary of the state-owned ZESA Holdings.
The power utility recently increased load shedding due to reduced power
generation at Hwange Power Station exacerbated by limited coal deliveries
from Hwange Colliery Company Limited.
Industrialists told The Financial Gazette that they had resorted to evening
working schedules because power supplies were now usually more reliable at
In Manicaland, timber manufacturing companies and other industrial areas had
resorted to evening production cycles.
Affected companies included Mutare Border Timbers, Forestry Company of
Zimbabwe and Karina Textiles.
Most of the companies export their products to regional and international
markets and industrialists said they had failed to meet export orders due to
power supply problems.
"Production has been erratic during the day and over the past two weeks we
have been working in the evening. Sometimes the situation will be too bad
that we spend two to three days without production," said workers at one of
the affected companies who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Marah Hativagone said they
are yet to assess the situation in the industry.
"We are yet to get a survey so I can- not give you concrete information on
what is happening on the ground," she said.
The situation is also reportedly the same in the farming industry where
farmers had resorted to irrigating their winter crop during the evening.
METALLON Gold Zimbabwe, the country's largest gold producer, has dismissed
speculation of a takeover bid by Alternative Investment Market-listed
Central African Gold (CAG), which recently acquired control of Falcon Gold
and has stated its hunger for additional Zimbabwean assets.
Metallon Gold chief executive officer (CEO) Collen Gura said yesterday there
have been no talks with any party over the sale of any of his company's
mines, and revealed his company in fact plans a US$64 million investment to
"Metallon has not entered into any negotiation to sell their business to
Central African Gold or to anyone else, neither does it intend to enter into
any such negotiations in the near future," Gura said.
CAG in March bought 84.7 percent of listed Falgold for US$6.2 million and
bought the whole of privately held Olympus Gold.
Its CEO, Greg Hunter - a former head of Metallon Gold - says his company is
on the hunt for more Zimbabwean mining interests.
"If certain assets became available in Zimbabwe, I don't think we would
hesitate, because the quality of some assets there is pretty good,"
Miningmx, a mining publication quoted Hunter as saying last week.
His remarks raised speculation of a possible deal with Metallon Gold, which
forms the bulk of the gold interests of Mzi Khumalo's Metallon Corporation.
Metallon owns five mines in Zimbabwe; How, Redwing, Shamva, Arcturus and
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
A HARARE magistrate has subpoenaed a government doctor, Nathan Makanza, to
explain why no medical examination has been carried out to establish whether
or not the seven alleged coup plotters were tortured.
The magistrate ordered the suspects to undergo a medical examination during
their first court appearance last month.
The alleged coup plotters' defence counsel, Charles Warara, said: "The
application was granted by consent. Papers have already been served."
Warara said Makanza would appear in court on Monday.
Turning to the main case, Warara said the defence team had withdrawn plans
to file court papers asking that their clients be allowed to receive
visitors and food.
The suspects' families are now allowed to visit and bring them food.
Albert Matapo and six others are facing treason charges for allegedly
hatching a plot to oust President Robert Mugabe from power and replace him
with the Minister of Rural Housing and Social Amenities, Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The suspects have denied the charges. Some of the accused have said they
were arrested while planning to form a political party.
A High Court judge last month acceded to an application by state prosecutors
that the case be held in camera, citing its "sensitive" nature.
The state alleges that between June 2006 and May 2007 the accused persons
conspired to overthrow the government.
The suspects were arrested at various locations beginning on May 29 this
SOUTH Africa maintains its mediation bid in Zimbabwe is on course despite
the hardening of the Zimbabwean government's stance on the proposed agenda
for the talks and the ruling ZANU PF's failure to turn up for crucial
The two ZANU PF representatives to the talks, Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas
Goche, missed a meeting in Pretoria for the third time two weeks ago, while
President Robert Mugabe reiterated his declaration that there would be no
negotiation over a new constitution, despite the fact that the Southern
African Development Community (SADC)-appointed mediator, President Thabo
Mbeki, supports the idea of a new charter.
The Financial Gazette reported last week that these developments, coupled
with public statements by South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana
Dlamini-Zuma, expressing frustration over the lack of progress, had raised
fears that the talks were crumbling.
But South African foreign affairs spokesman Ronny Mamoepa stressed this week
that the mediation effort was still "on course".
He said ZANU PF had apologised for the failure of its representative to
attend the last meeting.
"The ZANU PF delegation could not attend the scheduled discussions in
Pretoria this week due to prior engagements, and for this they tendered an
apology to the South African government," said Mamoepa.
"In this regard, efforts are under way to set a new date for the
facilitation talks, which the ZANU PF delegation will attend.
"For its part, the government remains committed to the mandate of SADC to
assist the people of Zimbabwe in their endeavour to find a solution to their
Mbeki has come under pressure from outspoken South African cleric Desmond
Tutu over his policy on Zimbabwe. Tutu, with whom the South African leader
has strained relations, is said to have made it clear that although he
backed the mediation effort, there was need for "more explicit condemnation"
of the "deepening crisis in Zimbabwe."
President Mugabe's reign, said Tutu, was "a success story, which has turned
into a tragedy".
The Congress of South African Trade Unions, an alliance partner of Mbeki's
ruling African National Congress, also pressed this week for "alternative
methods" to propel the mediation process forward.
The Zimbabwean situation also received attention at the South African
Council of Churches (SACC) triennial national conference this week.
SACC, which has been vocal in its criticism of Harare, is reported to be
considering the merits of a visit to Zimbabwe.
PROMOTERS of a church-led outreach programme to solicit the views of
ordinary Zimbabweans on a proposed "National Vision" document last week made
a hasty retreat from the volatile Mashonaland Central province with ruling
ZANU PF supporters in pursuit.
The church activists told The Financial Gazette that they were forced to
abandon their mission after ZANU PF loyalists and officials blocked them
from holding meetings with villagers to seek their views on "the Zimbabwe we
Despite being cleared by the government to conduct their outreach programme,
leaders of the church groups were summoned to appear before a ZANU PF
District Coordinating Committee, comprising ruling party national commissar
Elliot Manyika and provincial chairman Chen Chimutengwende, and asked to
explain the motive of the outreach programme, dubbed National Visioning
"They interrogated us on the motive and the timing of the outreach
programme. They appeared suspicious that it has come a few months before
next year's elections," said one official.
The church officials said after the hostile reception in Bindura, a ruling
party stronghold, the architects of the church initiative were forced to
change tack and restrict the initiative to urban areas in the meantime.
Militant ruling ZANU PF party youths and war veterans have in recent years
declared rural provinces a no-go area for opposition party leaders and civic
In the run-up to the 2005 parliamentary elections, researchers for pollster
Mass Public Opinion Institute were assaulted by a group of war veterans.
Nkululeko Sibanda Staff Reporter
THE Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) met in Harare yesterday but
said it had not adopted a formal position on an alleged sex scandal
involving Bulawayo Archbishop Pius Ncube.
A formal response on the allegations leveled against the cleric, which have
embarrassed the Catholic Church, will only be made next week, a spokesman
for the bishops said.
Onesimus Sibanda accuses the Archbishop of having a two-year adulterous
relationship with his wife, Rosemary, in a case that has tainted Ncube's
image locally and abroad.
ZCBC spokesperson, father Frederick Chiromba, said no formal position was
taken as yet on the matter.
Chiromba said the bishops could only take a firm position upon the return of
the bishops' conference president, Archbishop Robert Ndlovu, who is away on
Said Chiromba: "We held a meeting today (yesterday) and we discussed a
number of issues concerning some internal matters. With regards to
Archbishop Ncube's issue, we are yet to hold a formal meeting to discuss
that, because it is something that came to the fore on Monday and we are yet
to convene a meeting, if need be, to discuss that issue. For now, we are
waiting for the president of the conference (Archbishop Ndlovu) to return.
That will be next week."
Archbishop Ncube sounded deeply disturbed when contacted for a comment by
The Financial Gazette on Tuesday.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
EMBATTLED Mutare provincial prosecutor Levison Chikafu has written to the
Attorney-General, Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, complaining about Justice and
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa's alleged interference with
the judiciary, saying this could make it impossible for the senior law
officer to get a fair trial.
Chikafu is facing charges of corruption, but his lawyer says the allegations
are part of a campaign to victimise his client.
Chikafu led the prosecution when Chinamasa was charged with trying to
obstruct the course of justice last year. The Justice Minister, who was
subsequently acquitted, had been accused of trying to coerce a witness to
drop violence charges against State Security Minister, Didymus Mutasa.
In a letter to the Attorney-General, dated July 13, Chikafu alleges that
Chinamasa has brought his influence to bear on the case by interfering with
the work of magistrates.
"During the remand proceedings, the presiding magistrate (Lillian Kudya)
contacted the chief magistrate, Mr Mandeya, in my presence. Mrs Kudya asked
two questions that I think have a bearing on the outcome of my trial.
"(The first question was) 'So who referred this matter to the Minister?' and
the second was 'does it mean the Minister is going to give directives on how
this matter is dealt with?'"
Chikafu believes that magistrates viewed Chinamasa as their boss, but that a
judgment handed down by High Court judge, Justice Bharat Patel in a
different case - the state versus Innocent Chibaya and others - had stated
"I shudder to think what will happen to me if the Minister is allowed to
tamper with the independence of the judiciary. According to the
constitution, the Minister of Justice does not play any role in the
prosecution of criminal matters. I need to know how my case ended up being
referred to the Minister."
Chikafu claims that prosecutors in the Attorney-General's Office are being
used to "fix" him for his stand against Chinamasa last year.
He singled out acting director of public prosecutions, Florence Ziyambi.
However, no comment could be obtained from her as she was said to be away
this week when this paper phoned her office.
"It is a fact that the majority of law officers at head office were against
the prosecution of Patrick Chinamasa. My colleagues were not happy when I
agreed to prosecute the matter," Chikafu says.
"Some of my colleagues did not forgive me for executing my duties in a
professional manner. It is not a secret that such individuals are being used
by Patrick Chinamasa to fix me."
Personal Glimpses with Mavis Makuni
DESTROY first and rationalise later is the motto that the government seems
to continue to place its faith in as it battles to contain runaway
inflation, now conservatively estimated to be standing at more than 5 000
A headline in the July 16 issue of the state daily, The Herald, proclaiming,
"Government still working on pricing formula", which came after a week
during which desperate shoppers literally ransacked supermarkets, leaving
shelves bare, gave one a feeling of déjà vu and an uncomfortable sense of
history repeating itself. The Herald story quoted the chairman of the
Cabinet Taskforce on Price Monitoring and Stabilisation, Obert Mpofu, as
saying that the government was still working on a pricing formula to be
released soon to wholesalers, manufacturers and retailers spelling out how
price distortions should be corrected.
Said Mpofu, who is the Minister of Industry and International Trade, "We are
still working on it and as soon as we finalise it we will forward our
structures to the various stakeholders." On the face of it, the statement
made a lot of sense. Only trouble is, Mpofu was doing first things last,
topsy-turvy style. It is almost as if the idea of coming up with a pricing
formula to guide the business sector was an afterthought. It appears to have
occurred to Mpofu only after the damage had already been done. A number of
firms that were invaded by frenzied shoppers after the government had
unleashed its aggressive and apparently corrupt price monitors have made
such huge losses that they will have to close.
The giant South African wholesale concern, Makro, which was forced to sell
imported electrical goods and other merchandise at ridiculously low prices
that did not tally with what it had cost to bring such items into the
country has indicated that it is leaving Zimbabwe. The company would not
have taken such a drastic move if the government had not acted in a rash
manner by implementing a policy that it had not thought through properly.
The departure of a big organization like Makro under these circumstances
conveys a crystal clear warning to prospective investors to avoid Zimbabwe
like the plague.
The mayhem prevailing in the aftermath of the rushed launching of the "price
war" gives the impression that someone in government woke up on the wrong
side of his or her bed one day and decided the business sector simply had to
be "fixed". This explains why it was deemed necessary for the government to
make arbitrary decrees for traders to slash prices by half regardless of how
much it had cost them to order the goods and whether they would have enough
capital to restock, pay salaries and wages and run their businesses viably.
What makes the latest government bungling a bitter pill to swallow is that
it is not the first time it has bulldozed its way into an initiative that
has sparked more repercussions than the intended benefits. As was the case
with land reform and Operation Murambatsvina, when the government's declared
objectives of correcting historical imbalances and providing needy
Zimbabweans with decent accommodation respectively were cancelled out by the
way the programmes were implemented, the same will happen with the pricing
campaign. Just as critics did not oppose land reform per se but expressed
reservations over the violent and vindictive manner in which it was
implemented, they will have the same worries about the way the price war has
It has been a free-for-all in which price monitors entered supermarkets and
shops and decreed what different items should cost. It is a popular
misconception that prices were slashed by half. The reductions were
arbitrary and did not take into account what retailers had paid to order
those goods. Simple logic and mathematics would show that after selling
commodities at these huge losses, shop owners will not be able to restock.
Rather than ease the consumer's plight, the government has exacerbated it.
The consumer is now confronted with empty shelves and has to resort to the
black market to access basics at more than double what the shops were
charging before the blitz. One would be excused for sensing a sadistic
streak in this confused frenzy that has not brought genuine relief to the
Not much comfort can be derived from the government's threats to take over
shops and abattoirs when it has failed over the past seven years to restore
agricultural production to what it was before the 2000 land seizures. It is
also yet to build houses for the hundreds of thousands of people it rendered
homeless under Operation Murambatsvina. It is noteworthy that after the
destructive commotion of the Murambatsviana tsunami, no word is heard these
days about Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle.
In the current clampdown, the Cold Storage Company has been touted as having
become the sole supplier of beef following the cancelling of the licences of
some private abattoirs. But where is the beef? Instead of making affordable
beef more accessible to the consumer, all that the price crackdown has done
is to cause its disappearance altogether and expose the inability of the CSC
to service the market. The company's redundancy is normally masked by the
efficiency of private players who were brought in, in the first place
because the CSC was not meeting demand. Its total failure to rise to the
occasion in the past 10 days raises the question of why it is needed at all.
While it cannot be denied that the Zimbabwean government usually insists on
promoting its own version of reality that is far removed from that
experienced by the generality of the people, it still has to be pointed out
that the ongoing blitz in its current form has made things more difficult
rather than easier for consumers. If the price monitors who forced the
arbitrary slashing of prices without reference to any formula or regard for
any economic principles were honest, they would admit that their handiwork
has caused some of the "unintended consequences" that the Reserve Bank
warned about in the early stages of the operation.
The government needs to go back to the drawing board to come up with a
rational approach that balances the interests of all stakeholders. The
heavy-handed approach the government favours to tackle the various crises
bedeviling the nation has backfired many times. The government needs to
swallow its pride and go back to basics. This involves basing actions and
decisions on realities on the ground rather than populist aberrations.
Christella Langton Staff Reporter
'Affirmative shopping' leaves shelves bare, stokes parallel market activity
WHEN Chipo Jasi heard that the price of Mazoe orange crush had been reduced,
she wasted no time before abandoning her illegal foreign currency dealing
business for the new and above board option of hunting for bargains.
Last week, Jasi joined hordes of other desperate shoppers converging on a
downtown store to grab a bottle of the fruit juice, whose price had soared
beyond the reach of many before the government's intervention.
"My kids are going to be happy because it had been long since I last bought
them some Mazoe," said Chipo, as she emerged from the supermarket.
Next, she joined another stampede to a Bata shoe shop, which was selling the
popular tennis shoes - known as Tommy - at half the previous price of $500
Across the street was a queue snaking around the block leading to an Edgars
clothing store, where a dozen police details struggled to control a queue
for bread at a Bakers Inn outlet further down the street.
The government has assumed firm control of the pricing of goods and services
because of what officials have described as rampant "profiteering" and
exploitation of consumers by "unscrupulous businesspeople."
Business operators have been ordered to slash prices by 50 percent or more,
and close to 2000 traders, including chief executives of large corporations,
have been arrested.
The crackdown has spawned a new shopping culture among Zimbabweans.
A month ago, queues outside shops such as Edgars and TV Sales and Hire were
unheard of. But following the government decrees, consumers are caught up in
a mad shopping spree.
However, after two weeks of frantic bargain grabbing, the "officially
approved looting", or "affirmative shopping", as the frenzy has been called,
has left shelves bare and stoked parallel market commodity dealing.
But this has not stopped people from moving around with bags of cash looking
for anything to buy.
Many foreign currency dealers such as Jasi, reacting to a decline in
activity in that normally lucrative market, have turned their sights on
The most bizarre aspect of the shopping frenzy is that people have taken to
buying even goods they never used to bother about before the crackdown.
At a supermarket along Mbuya Nehanda Street in Harare, shoppers jostled for
packets of potato crisps. Snacks such as "Cheesies" and "Jupiters" run out
of stock fast.
Courtesy of the government-ordered price reductions, Zimbabweans have
suddenly become shopping addicts.
"Zimbabweans are really funny. How can they queue to buy chips," remarked
Tinopona Jack as he watched the seemingly endless stampede.
The demand for shoes and clothes has gone up, but most of the goods are,
predictably, finding their way to the black market.
Last week, after hordes of shoppers had descended on shoe-manufacturer Bata,
brand new shoes made by the chain were on display at a popular open market
in Mbare hours later.
In another bizarre turn of events, police wasted no time in seizing the
shoes and by late afternoon, they were being auctioned at the police
At the giant wholesaler Makro, police were called in to control a crowd of
bargain hunters, mostly well-dressed professionals who piled the merchandise
into luxury cars.
Similar scenes are being repeated across the country.
Budgeting had long become impossible because of hyperinflation. But even now
when affordable goods seem to be dropping like manna from heaven, it is
still difficult to plan for the impromptu urge to grab as much as one can
when prices are reduced when one is in the right place at the right time.
Groceries are now regarded as a no-fail form of investment, as many products
are now in high demand on the black market.
Matters Legal with Vote Muza
A LOT of questions have been asked about the legality or otherwise of the
ongoing price blitz that has left many business people in a state of shock
In the past fortnight business executives of integrity who have
painstakingly strived to keep their organisations viable in the face of the
terrible economic decline have been dragged to police stations and courts in
what I believe is a futile attempt by government to halt the economic
meltdown. The manner in which the arrests are being carried out, which
methods are clearly in defiance of the law, point to a government that has
lost all respect for its business people.
Reports received from professional colleagues defending these business
people are, to say the least, worrying.
Notwithstanding that in terms of the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act, a
company is a fictitious being with no physical body of its own and that it
can only be represented by a person chosen for that purpose, the police are
indiscriminately arresting whoever they wish at companies they are visiting.
Also, despite the fact that these business people are only agents of their
organisations who for that matter are not flight risks deserving any
detention, the police have gone ahead to abuse their powers by locking up
these otherwise innocent people.
Lawyers have been busy, but the sheer extent of the arrests has left most of
them dumbfounded and bemused. To me, these arrests are just but malicious,
intimidatory and extremely uncalled for. They are not being carried out in
the interests of justice but rather in the political interests of those now
desperate to clean up the economic mess that they created and continue to
create through populist policies.
I am waiting to see if Zimbabwe will score a historical first by permanently
halting the scourge of inflation through a police operation.
Much as government might have rushed to promulgate a statutory instrument
after exposure by sections of the private media that the onslaught was
illegal, I still submit, as many economic commentators and the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe governor have said, that government's action is neither just nor
in the long term economic interests of Zimbabweans. In the world of law
there is a wide divide separating 'legality of a law' and its 'justness'.
A dictum by the famous anti-apartheid South African Judge, Justice John
Mowbray Didcott clearly exposes this dichotomy between legality and justice.
As a judge, this lawyer is remembered most for his courageous and outspoken
condemnation of unjust laws. He had a passionate belief in justice, and his
contempt for those lawyers and judges who were apologists for the gross
abuse of human rights during the apartheid era was manifest throughout his
His comment in the celebrated case of In re Dube 1979(3) SA 820 has been a
good quote not only for students of jurisprudence but lawyers fighting
against institutionalised rights violations. The case concerned the validity
of an administrative decision that black people were "idle and undesirable"
and should for that matter be ordered to leave the city.
After being asked to confirm after an application for review whether a law
supporting such a decision was in accordance with justice, this is what he
had to say: "The trouble is that it was not. It may have been in accordance
with the legislation, and perhaps because what appears in the legislation is
the law, in accordance with that too. But it can hardly be said to have been
in "accordance with justice". Parliament has the power to pass the statutes
that it likes, and there is nothing that the courts can do about that. The
result is the law. But that is not always the same as justice. The only way
that parliament can ever make legislation just is by making just
Reference to "parliament" in the above quote may equally be applied to
subsidiary legislation like Statutory Instruments passed by government
ministers, and in particular, the instrument that the so-called Task Force
is using against business people in the ongoing blitz.
No matter how loud and persistent government's arguments about the
lawfulness of the price freeze may be, the fact that its present action is
an illegal, unjust and a fatal blow to all efforts to breath life into our
comatose economy cannot be denied.
In all frankness, I judge government's present action to be no different to
the notorious farm invasions that gave birth to our present economic
quagmire. What the nation has witnessed and continues to witness is another
political miscalculation that in itself is going to do more harm than good.
I also view this looting crusade as a gross violation of business people's
property rights that should invite investigation by the United Nations.
For how does one explain government's false wisdom of decreeing that fuel
must be sold at $60 000 a litre when the whole world knows that it costs
private importers double this amount to import a litre of fuel. When
government passes a law that attempts to support such irrationality, it is
in my view, the height of political self-delusion.
Such a law may be fair to government and perhaps to members of the public
but albeit on a very temporary basis. But in the long term, and in the
context of our quest to arrest the economic decline, the effects of such an
unreasonable law will certainly be felt.
Law in other words can be compared to a knife. In the hands of a sane
person, it can be an instrument to improve a person's life. However, in the
hands of a deranged person, it can be an instrument for much destruction. In
more than one way, government in recent years has not hesitated to abuse the
law by using it as an instrument to violate human rights in a quest to
ensure the political survival of the powers-that-be.
lVote Muza is a legal practitioner with Gutu and Chikowero. He can be
contacted on email: firstname.lastname@example.org
THE government crackdown on the business community, particularly the retail
sector, has attracted significant interest both locally and internationally.
The reaction to the blitz came from both friends and perceived foes of
President Robert Mugabe's government. But both made uncomplimentary remarks.
Gordon Brown, still trying to settle in as Britain's premier, condemned the
operation and called on the Zimbabwean government to change course. American
President George Bush's office issued the most scathing attack on the
operation, describing it as "reckless". White House press secretary Tony
Snow said this week the "irresponsible economic policies will only worsen
inflation, unemployment, growing food shortages and poverty". The South
African government of President Thabo Mbeki, which has previously shielded
the Mugabe government from international criticism, last week took the
uncharacteristic step of publicly expressing its worries about the
escalating economic crisis.
But as much as the crisis precipitated by the blitz worried the
international community, it should indeed be a cause for grave concern among
Zimbabweans. We acknowledge the government's concern to shield the
long-suffering population from profiteering business people who have failed
to demonstrate a modicum of care for their restive clients, battling to
survive under an increasingly hyperinflationary environment.
Prices had escalated by unprecedented margins in the past two months since
the signing of a social contract on June 1 2007, understandably raising
fears the situation was getting out of hand and could possibly lead to a
mass uprising against the incumbent government.
But much as the reaction of the government could have been out of concern
for the masses, it was also selfish and calculated at self-preservation.
Once the government taskforce on pricing and stabilisation embarked on the
blitz, there was no thought given to the effect of the operation - dubbed
Operation Reduce Prices - on confidence in the business sector and the
impact of the draconian measures on sustainable supplies to the market.
Moreover, the blitz degenerated into an orgy of looting, with members of the
operation, their families and friends grabbing prime assets from retailers
after forcing them to reduce prices to unrealistic levels.
There was such looting at one of the country's biggest shoe retailers, and
at several big retail operations across the country where members of the
taskforce ordered management to cut prices and then chose the items they
wanted at those discounted prices. At the shoe retail outlets, management
was shocked to see large crowds around their shops before opening time, only
to receive new price schedules that had wickedly discounted prices.
The crowd apparently consisted of relatives and friends of the taskforce
teams who were tipped in advance about the raids. Today, the retail
operators' shops are empty, and their products are now available for sale by
these looters on the streets.
The Financial Gazette had a harrowing encounter with a member of the Harare
municipal police who had bought boxes of two-litre bottles of vegetable oil
during the blitz for just $6 000 per box containing six bottles. She was now
selling each bottle for $200 000 to neighbours. Cement prices were reduced
from about $1.5 million per 50 kg bag to $150 000 per bag. Retailers had
bought the cement for just over $1 million per 50 kg bag, and had factored
the high transport costs into their profit margins.
If this was not looting, then the authorities need to tell us what it is.
Manufacturers are grappling with high input costs and cannot be expected to
sell their products at a loss. Company managers oversee operations that are
expected to make a profit; they are not running charitable organisations.
The operation was bound to trigger serious shortages, as evidenced by empty
supermarket shelves. Producers cannot produce products over which they have
no pricing power, and retailers cannot order products for which they will be
told they cannot recoup transport costs as well as the exorbitant
electricity costs to keep refrigerators running to preserve perishable
Fuel dealers, who were forced to reduce petrol and diesel prices from $160
000 to $60 000 per litre, have stopped importing. Some of them were
"liquidated" by the government clampdown. Consequently, the public transport
system had suffered immeasurably, and workers are failing to commute to work
to produce for the economy.
The government should quickly re-engage the business sector and come up with
a viable pricing policy that ensures businesses operate profitably and
consumers are protected. The current policy is doomed to fail, and has,
inevitably, resulted in more hardships for the masses who now cannot access
basic food commodities from the market.
Those that have orchestrated looting during the blitz should be investigated
and appropriate action taken to reassure the investing community.
Voodoo economics will be our undoing
EDITOR - I have long been a faithful supporter of ZANU PF and the fight for
sovereign rule. However, ZANU PF is showing no signs of rescuing the economy
but rather making it even worse.
For some strange reason the people in charge think that slashing prices and
ordering businesses to have a certain profit margin will work. This is bush
economics, which will never work for as long as we breathe.
What these politicians need to do is put themselves in the shoes of business
people. People venture into businesses for profit and not for charity. If a
company starts making super-profits, competition will take care of that
problem. This habit of using guerilla war theories in economics will only
lead to disaster.
ZANU PF needs to go back to the drawing board and come up with different
strategies that work. Fighting with business people will only result in them
not producing the goods. There will be empty shelves in abundance,
businesses will shut down, unemployment will rise, crime will rise, people
in need of government assistance will rise, hospitals will collapse because
people will not pay their bills and inflation will balloon even more. In a
nutshell, there will be chaos.
Where were the people that studied economics when all these suicidal
decisions were being made. Surely they can't be sitting on their laurels
when all of this nonsense is taking place. Shame on our education system
that breeds people with several degrees but who lack simple logic. You do
not need to be an economic guru to know that this is like pulling a trigger
on a gun that is pointing at your head.
For as long as ZANU PF takes this route, Zimbabweans can as well get ready
for a long struggle of suffering. Let's not put Zimbabwe to shame for our
individual benefit. Let's fight this crisis like the educated population
that we are.
This is purely an economic stunt, which will result in poverty-stricken
families. We need these business people, their businesses and their business
minds. Without them we will not win. The last thing we want to do is fight
investment, which is the only hope for the Zimbabwean economy. There is
little price to pay if we think before we act. We can do it Zimbabweans, but
all we need to do is think before we act.
Two ministers cannot lose war on kombis
EDITOR - It is well and fine that the long-suffering consumer has had some
respite in terms of price cuts, but the question that begs an answer is why
is the taskforce on prices concentrating on retailers alone and letting
other culprits literally get away with murder? I'm talking here about the
commuter omnibus operators.
If you decide to declare war, it must be total war and never piecemeal, yet
you find transport operators doing as they like. They raise fares
willy-nilly yet hardly a day passes without their condemnation by
politicians or government officials.
This group of people has, on several occasions, thumped its nose at
government orders and directives concerning fares. It looks like commuter
omnibus operators are regarded as sacred cows and are allowed to charge what
they feel like while government turns a blind eye to the people's suffering.
One is tempted to believe stories doing the rounds that most of these
omnibuses are owned by the fat cats, thus it wouldn't make sense to order a
clampdown on their own businesses. Otherwise why are these operators being
left to do as they like? Are they a law unto themselves?
This is most prevalent on the Epworth-City route, where the operators have
had the audacity to increase fares to $50 000 in the past few days. Thus you
find residents of Epworth, who are supposed to be the poor of the poorest,
having to fork out more than any other group of people in transport costs.
Time and again, we have seen Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo on
television breathing fire and brimstone ordering commuter omnibus operators
to charge fares in line with government directives, but they have
contemptuously ignored the poor man.
Now that Industry and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu has joined
the fray and seems to have scored some victories, though questionable, in
his war against illegal price increases, we hope to see some action soon.
Two ministers cannot be brushed aside by these kombi operators as has been
happening in the past. Surely Chombo can learn a trick or two from Mpofu.
Price war no election gimmick
EDITOR - I am disheartened by the lengths to which the media and indeed a
lot of people are going to misinterpret the price war as an election
gimmick. How can you justify a salary, which is not enough to even buy a
shirt! And how many times has the government threatened action against
This is a very good opportunity for our country and economy to have a new
beginning and we, especially the media, ought to see beyond politics. In
fact, I can speak with a great degree of authority that even President
Robert Mugabe may not exactly know what's going on.
There is a God in heaven who loves Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans. This is His
doing and it will live well beyond President Mugabe and in fact the whole
generation of "abadala" who have run down our country and eroded the dignity
of the people. You ask if God can take away from one man to give to another?
The answer is yes - because we are stewards of whatever resources we get and
the purpose of business is to serve the people, not starve them.
May I conclude by referring you to 2 Kings Chapter 7. Pick your place in
history. Collin Powell once said: "Always be sceptical of experts, they oft
have more data than judgment". From the reactions of economists and
so-called experts on Zimbabwe, I guess he was right.
ZESA succeeds where all others have failed
EDITOR - Forget about price controls or external colonial forces or
subversive elements or opposition politics destroying Zimbabwe.
ZESA has moved to the top, single-handedly destroying Zimbabwe.
No power means no production and no business. No power means no phone and
cell systems, backed-up or not. No power means no wheat production.
In the last week the nothern and eastern parts of Harare have been without
power nearly 80 percent of the time, and this is mainly during business
hours. We do not have to close our businesses because of price controls, we
just cannot do business.
Sorry, Mr Inspector, I cannot cut our prices by half as I have no power and
therefore all our systems are down. Well done ZESA you have succeeded where
all others have failed . . . bringing Zimbabwe to its knees.
I suppose the reply will be ". . . we regret any inconvenience caused."
Zimbos blind to Mbeki's shenanigans
EDITOR - Thanks for a paper that tells the tragedy that we find ourselves
I remain sceptical of the efforts of Thabo Mbeki to solve our economic
problems. There are several reasons why he would like Zimbabwe to go down
Mbeki knows that only Zimbabwe can threaten South African dominance in
sub-Saharan Africa. We have as many resources as South Africa and we have a
more educated populace. So Mbeki is not as stupid as most people would want
to believe but he is serving his own country's interests.
See how South Africa is gaining from the massive skills exodus hence we have
become a training ground for their booming economy. What he is simply doing
is pretending to be concerned about our problems then in fact, he is
enjoying the spectacle because we have appointed him to solve our problems
yet he is a major benefactor of the economic mess we are in.
It is because our political leaders are blind to facts like this that by the
time we reverse this economic madness, we will find it very difficult to
catch up with other African economies. Surely with the level of education
Zimbabweans have, how can we fail to see that Mbeki is an interested party
and to appoint him as the pointman is arming him with more devices to see
South Africa prosper?
Many multinationals will relocate to South Africa and that country will
continue to attract heavy industries like vehicle plants. This means that by
the time we recover it won't make economic sense for SA-based companies to
relocate some of these plants to Zimbabwe as they can just export since we
are next door.
So I beg Zimbabweans to open their eyes and see what's happening. We want to
dominate Africa in as much as South Africa wants to. That is the reason why
our solution cannot be found with South Africa.
Tariro The 1
Price controls worse than land invasions
EDITOR - If there is a government that is determined to sabotage its economy
and cause insurmountable problems for its populace, it is the Zimbabwean
government. One would have thought that the tragic land invasions were a
lesson to the government that populist decisions driven by hunger for power
have far-reaching effects.
Now the war is on businesses. While some may rejoice at this short-lived
party, like they did with the land grabs,the effects will be detrimental.
History has taught us that whenever the governing authorities pass laws
requiring an owner or supplier to sell an item for less than the market
price, the result will be a shortage. It's just a law of economics. And
contrary to what government officials throughout history have believed, no
government can repeal a law of economics in as much as they cannot repeal
the law of gravity.
The artificially low prices have one major effect: they cause supplies to be
withheld from the market. The price controls are being imposed because the
government is trying to conceal the effects of the inflation monster that it
has created. Inflation is far better fought by taking firm control of money
supply, which is caused by printing too much money.
I am not saying that the government should do nothing when high prices
threaten to cause hardships. If help is to be given, instead of controlling
prices, proper measures like improving supplies,cutting government
expenditure, encouraging investment and political reform must be put in
place. After all, high prices are better than famine.
The government propaganda machinery like the ZBC, The Herald and The
Chronicle would have us believe that these controls are working, but it is
all pure deception. For the government to fix a price without regard to
supply and demand is both unwise and unjust. Time will tell.
Asher Tarivona Mutsengi