President Robert Mugabe and his South African counterpart Thabo Mbeki
are set on a collision course at the Sadc meeting in Zambia next month
following the collapse of inter-party talks between Zanu PF and the MDC
aimed at resolving the Zimbabwean crisis.
Mbeki, who has postponed direct talks on several occasions after the
Zanu PF negotiating team failed to turn up in at the venue in Pretoria, has
nothing tangible for Sadc leaders who selected him to facilitate talks
between the two parties at a summit in Dar es Salaam in March.
The next Sadc meeting is in Zambia on August 12. The flimsy excuses
given by Zanu PF for failure to attend the talks have raised suspicion that
Mugabe could have snubbed the Sadc initiative in the face of a
self-destructing opposition. The two MDC formations are represented by their
secretary-generals, lawyers Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti.
Zanu PF key negotiators, Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa and Labour
minister Nicholas Goche, again did not turn up for negotiations scheduled to
resume in Pretoria last week.
However, South Africa's Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson
Ronnie Mamoepa said the Zanu PF team had last week failed to attend the
talks because of "prior commitments". He said the delegation had apologised
to the South African government.
Mamoepa denied claims that the talks had collapsed. Mbeki himself
recently reported "progress" in the mediation effort.
The process is being conducted under a media blackout.
Sources said Mugabe was unhappy that Mbeki appears sympathetic to
calls for a new constitution before Zimbabwe's first joint parliamentary and
presidential elections next year and the proposal for a reformed-minded Zanu
PF. The reformed Zanu PF is understood to be focusing at a post Mugabe-era.
Observers said Mugabe did not believe in the Sadc initiative launched
following an international outcry after MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai
was beaten up by police on March 11 for defying a government ban on public
On the same day the Zanu PF delegation was expected in Pretoria,
Mugabe told a party national consultative assembly meeting that the current
constitution was serving the government well.
The MDC and civic society organisations are opposed to piece-meal
amendments to the constitution and want an overhaul to level the playing
field. The MDC has made the new constitution one of its key demands at the
proposed talks with Zanu PF in South Africa.
Top Zanu PF officials this week said the ruling party was buying time
while waiting for Constitutional Amendment 18 to pass through the necessary
framework before officially pulling out of the negotiations.
An indication of the gravity of the Zimbabwean crisis was when South
African Foreign Affairs minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma recently conceded
for the first time that she was "concerned" about the economic situation
"which is deteriorating over time". She also warned that efforts to rebuild
the country's economy would be hampered by polarisation and division.
MDC Tsvangirai faction spokesman Nelson Chamisa referred questions on
the matter to Biti. Mutambara faction spokesman Gabriel Chaibva said as long
as there were no substantial breakthroughs "we will not comment to avoid
predetermining the direction of the initiative".
However, sources said although Zanu PF had submitted its position
paper, it was reluctant to transform it into fully fledged negotiations.
Under the Sadc initiative Mbeki was expected to bring to the
negotiation table Zanu PF and MDC and map out a solution to the political
and economic crisis the country. Mbeki was also tasked to ensure that
Zimbabwe holds free and fair elections.
Augustine Mukaro/Shame Makoshori
GOVERNMENT'S ban on fuel coupons has created panic amongst oil
companies, fuel dealers and garages as they rush to clear wards of paper
that had become the most convenient way of procuring fuel.
This came amid unconfirmed reports this week that the government was
close to clinching a major fuel deal through an off-shore loan to be
guaranteed by diamonds and tobacco. But players in the industry were not
upbeat about the deal, saying there was nothing on the ground to suggest
that fuel was on its way soon.
Fuel merchants were yesterday trying to interpret government's move to
ban the coupon system. There was chaos at service stations as coupon holders
thronged garages with containers of varying sizes in a bid to beat the
two-week deadline given by authorities to use all their coupons.
Government yesterday banned fuel coupons but gave people and
organisations a fortnight to acquit them.
Observers said the move was yet another of government's ill-conceived
policies that would worsen shortages.
People in the diaspora and oil companies with access to forex procure
fuel and distribute it through the coupon system. The coupons are usually
sold in foreign currency.
Fuel dealers dispelled speculation that government was on the verge of
clinching a fuel deal from its newly found allies.
Industry sources said government was negotiating with a Libyan bank
for a line of credit but the deal was still far from being sealed, as they
are demanding guarantees for loan repayments.
"Suppliers are demanding that government should provide first class
guarantees since Zimbabwe has previously failed to own up its debts and is
still battling a foreign currency crisis and an economic meltdown," one
dealer said. "But the National Economic Recovery Council has recommended the
use of either diamonds mined from Marange, beef or tobacco to back up the
line of credit."
The dealers said the Reserve Bank was availing about US$6 million
monthly towards fuel procurement.
The amount is enough to supply government departments for only two
Government has recently been scouting for fuel from Libya, Iran and
Energy and Power Development minister Mike Nyambuya was in marathon
meetings yesterday while Permanent Secretary Justin Mpamhanga was out of
Zimbabwe needs about 2,5 million litres of fuel per day, but
government has indicated that country has been running at about 20% of the
required daily supplies.
Based on prevailing international oil prices averaging US 65 cents per
litre, fuel requirements amount to at least US$390 million annually.
Petroleum prices this week climbed to $250 000 per litre on the black
market against a government price of $60 000 per litre, forcing commuter
operators to withdraw services.
After critical palance of payment support lifelines were withdrawn by
the World Bank and the IMF in 1999, Zimbabwe has grappled with a damaging
Industrial output fell by 7% last year alone and the gross domestic
product has plunged by between 30% and 40% in seven years.
Zimbabwe has been conducting over-the-counter fuel deals.
But the few facilities that have been lined up have collapsed due to
failure to pay on time.
A sugar-for-fuel deal with Iranian oil giant, Independent Petroleum
Group in 2003 failed after the country failed to honour its side of the
VICE-President Joseph Msika this week admitted that government's land
reform programme was chaotic and has destroyed commercial agriculture.
Msika made the disclosure in Nyanga on Monday to delegates attending
the annual general meeting of the Communal Areas Management Programme for
Msika said he was not happy with the implementation of the land reform
as it was not in line with what had been outlined in the land reform policy
"There was chaos in implementing the land reform programme," said
Msika. "The policy document didn't say all white farmers should be chased
out. I am not a racist and I refuse to be racist . As black people we think
that every animal should be killed and this is leading to the fast
disappearance of some animals. We are losing small creatures and this is
leading to the extinction of small tender trees and creeping creatures."
He said dairy farming had collapsed due to poor management and this
had left the country facing milk shortages.
"Munyika hamuchina mukaka Made. (There is no milk in the country),"
Msika said to Joseph Made who was part of the delegation. Made was the
Agriculture minister during the time of the land reform.
MAKONDE legislator Leo Mugabe this week opened up on the Mashonaland
West provincial leadership, targeting provincial godfather Nathan
Shamuyarira and Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo for failing to
stop farm evictions in the province.
Chombo and Shamuyarira are perceived to be the godfathers of the
fractious province which is torn into two camps.
"I don't want to be the one who decides on these farm evictions," said
Mugabe. "It will appear as if I have been given money by white farmers to
protect their interests and yet I am really concerned with productivity.
Speak to Shamuyarira and Chombo, they should have addressed this already."
Mugabe said this as he confirmed to the Zimbabwe Independent that he
convened and chaired a special commercial farmers meeting in his
constituency on July 2 to discuss the issue of farm evictions with white
Mugabe's sentiments yesterday came three weeks after it was reported
that Chinhoyi farmer, Doug Taylor-Freeme, had ploughed through 40 hectares
of 30-centimetre wheat as revenge for having his farm listed for
resettlement. It has since emerged that the reports were false although
there have been manoeuvres to takeover Taylor-Freeme's farm.
Mugabe was quoted defending Taylor-Freeme's continued stay on the land
despite reports in the state media that the farm had been allocated to Chief
The July 2 meeting was attended by 22 white commercial farmers, Zanu
PF provincial officials and War Veterans Association representatives.
It noted that verbal eviction orders, the confiscation of farming
equipment from white farmers and written offer letters which were being
issued unprocedurally were some of the major problems affecting farmers and
The meeting also heard that the district administrator's office was
being by-passed in the issuance of offer letters.
"It was felt that some people in Harare were manipulating the
government services for personal gain. In reply MP Mugabe advised that such
letters were fake and should be ignored. A typical example of this was that
of two police officers who brought offer letters one after the other from
Harare claiming that they had been allocated the same plot," read the
It was resolved that government had compromised agricultural
production through the arbitrary issuance of offer letters which had
heightened uncertainty in the farming community.
Shamuyarira refused to comment saying he was busy while Chombo was
said to be out of office. He was not answering calls to his mobile.
National Security minister Didymus Mutasa who is responsible for the
Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement portfolio, was said to be in a meeting
by his secretary.
However, the minutes of the Special Commercial Farmers meeting at
Lomagundi College show that Mugabe assured the white commercial farmers that
the matter was being dealt with at the highest level.
"He (Leo Mugabe) informed the farmers of a number of meetings that had
been held over the issue. The recent one being between Chief Nemakonde's
delegation which met His Excellency the President (Robert Mugabe) on the
"The message which came from his meeting was that the eviction of the
remaining commercial farmers should be stopped until after consultations
between the political leadership of Makonde are finalised," the minutes
BULAWAYO city council this week decommissioned Lower Ncema dam and
immediately warned that the city was faced with threats of disease outbreaks
due to critical water rationing that will see residents going without water
for 20 hours on a daily basis.
The decommissioning of Ncema dam has triggered an acute water shortage
after the city decommissioned two other dams earlier this year after they
Upper Ncema and Umzingwane Dams were decommissioned earlier this year.
The city now has to rely on only two dams, Insiza and Inyankuni, for water
Bulawayo city council spokesman, Phathisa Nyathi, said the situation
"The Bulawayo city council has resolved to tighten the water rationing
schedule with immediate effect. Residents will get water once a day over
three days because as the water situation stands we are in trouble," Nyathi
As from Tuesday, residents were subjected to 20-hour water cuts.
The council has warned that the two remaining dams - Insiza and
Inyankuni - are expected to be decommissioned in the next two months and the
city will then have to entirely rely on borehole water.
"Bulawayo requires 140 000 cubic metres of water daily but has been
getting 106 000 cubic metres because of shortages. With the decommissioning
of Lower Ncema, supplies are expected to fall to 60 000
cubic metres," Nyathi said this week.
POLICE on Tuesday evicted one of the last remaining white commercial
farmers in Matabeleland North in contempt of a High Court order interdicting
them from disrupting operations at the farm.
Margaret Joubert, with her ailing 83-year old mother, Ellen Maud
Dolphin, was evicted at gunpoint by heavily armed police details from Portwe
Estates in Bubi/Mguza constituency.
The Zimbabwe Independent established that police also impounded
Margaret's three vehicles - a Land Cruiser, a Toyota Camry and a Nissan
Hardbody - before making off with three elephant tasks she was keeping in
Attempts to evict the Jouberts from the farm started in February after
police raided Portwe Estates and confiscated hunting rifles.
However, the eviction on Tuesday is in contempt of a High Court order
interdicting the police from disrupting operations at the farm owned by Dave
Joubert. Margaret is the wife to Dave Joubert.
Bulawayo High Court Judge Francis Bere in May ordered police who had
invaded Portwe Estates in April to vacate and stop interfering with
The Jouberts' lawyer Josphat Tshuma of Webb Low and Barry said they
were going back to the High Court to file a contempt of court suit against
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri and Home Affairs minister Kembo
Yesterday, Margaret Joubert confirmed that police on Tuesday evicted
her from her farm. She is temporarily sheltered at a neighboring farm.
"Armed police officers with AK-47 rifles numbering about 50 came to my
house on Tuesday morning led by Officer Commanding Matabeleland North,
Edmond Veterai and forcibly gained entry into my farmhouse and told me to
leave," she said.
"I showed them the High Court order but they said there don't take
instructions from the High Court or lawyers but from their bosses," a
suppurating Margaret added when narrating her story in a telephone
Matabeleland North police spokesperson, Inspector Augustine Zimbili,
could not be reached for comment yesterday. Wayne Bvudzijena, the police
spokesperson, referred the Zimbabwe Independent to the Lands ministry.
"For comments concerning the allocation of farms, you have to talk to
the Ministry of Lands," said Bvudzijena. However, repeated efforts to obtain
a comment from Didymus Mutasa, the Minister of Lands, Land Reform and
Resettlement, were fruitless. - Staff Writer.
ZIMBABWE, which said it was prioritising the eradication of extreme
poverty and hunger, is sliding backwards and is far from achieving the
Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) goals by 2015, civic organisations have
United Nations member-states in 2000 adopted eight MDGs at a summit in
New York. Under the plan Zimbabwe pledged to end poverty and hunger.
Government's implementation of inconsistent socio-economic policies,
poor governance and the breakdown of the rule of law, have made it difficult
to achieve Goal Eight - "Develop a Global Partnership for Development".
Global partnerships are critical for ensuring support for various
development programmes in developing countries.
Addressing journalists at a media roundtable on MDGs at the United
Nations Information Centre in Harare last Friday, Cephas Zinhumwe, acting
chief executive officer for the National Association of Non-Governmental
Organisations, said lack of international co-operation had reduced support
for Zimbabwe's efforts.
Zinhumwe said government needed to re-engage regional and
international partners and all local stakeholders to get out of the current
economic crisis, characterised by hyperinflation and price and foreign
The media roundtable was convened by the office of the United Nations
Resident Coodinator in Zimbabwe Dr Agustinho Zacarias.
MDGs, from goal one to eight, comprise the following: Eradication of
extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting
gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving
maternal health, combating HIV and Aids, malaria and other diseases,
ensuring environmental sustainability and developing a global partnership
Out of the eight, Zimbabwe prioritised goals number one, three and
eight as prerequisites for the subsequent achievement of the rest, but it is
has emerged that failure to implement goal number eight was seriously
impacting on the achievement of the rest, half way towards the 2015 global
target. - Staff Writer.
A ZANU PF camp led by Youth Development deputy minister Saviour
Kasukuwere and minister without portfolio Elliot Manyika has reportedly
begun purging senior party officials in Mashonaland Central suspected of
backing Vice-President Joice Mujuru's presidential aspirations.
The Zimbabwe Independent learnt this week that the faction was
selecting candidates for next year's local government and parliamentary
polls to replace incumbents perceived to be rallying behind Mujuru.
Reliable sources said the Kasukuwere faction had lined up people to
succeed Interactive Affairs minister and provincial chairman Chen
Chimutengwende and provincial governor Ephraim Masawi.
The campaign has also targeted Guruve North legislator David Butau,
senators Betty Chikava (Bindura-Shamva) and Agnes Angelina Dete (Mazowe) and
Bindura mayor Advocate Dinha in a bid to weaken Mujuru's grip on the
The six are believed to be key allies of Mujuru.
The Kasukuwere camp also comprises Labour minister Nicholas Goche and
backs President Robert Mugabe's continued stay in power.
Mugabe's loyalists are opposed to two other camps vying for the
presidency - one rooting for Rural Housing minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and
the other backing Mujuru.
"Kasukuwere and his team have already started selecting candidates for
next year's parliamentary polls. They are also positioning some of their
loyalists to take over party positions from those perceived to be backing
Mujuru," a senior Zanu PF official in Mashonaland Central said. The faction
has positioned provincial youth chairman Dick Mafios to take over from
Chimutengwende as provincial chairman. There are also efforts to push for
the appointment of Mafios as governor and resident minister.
"The camp will lobby for Mafios as provincial chairman to become
governor. Effectively they would have elbowed Chimutengwende out of party
structures and Masawi from the office of governor, collapsing two offices
into one," another source said.
Goche's wife, the sources added, has been earmarked to take over the
Shamva-Bindura senate seat from Chikava and has since been appointed
chairperson of Women in Farming in the province.
Fears are abound in Kasukuwere's camp that Masawi is eyeing Manyika's
house of assembly Bindura seat and there are hopes in the camp that a
delimitation commission would split the seat into two - Bindura urban and
Manyika would stand for the Bindura urban seat if the plan is
successful while former legislator Canisio Dengu is being positioned for
"The plan is to starve Masawi of any seat. Manyika is not from Bindura
constituency where Masawi hails from hence the fears. The constituency is
largely made up of the Masembura and Musana communal areas and Manyika is
afraid that people in the rural part of the constituency would rather elect
one of their own who could be Masawi," said the source.
Manyika comes from Chiweshe.
There were also plans to replace Dinha with either Bigboy Makulaga or
Jonah Ngwenya. Ngwenya is the district coordinating committee secretary for
Zanu PF youth league.
Local government elections are scheduled for next January.
While it was not clear who the Kasukuwere camp wanted to replace
Butau, sources indicated that one of Manyika's aides (name supplied) had
been earmarked to take over from the Dande Holdings chairman.
The sources said once the Kasukuwere team is done with Mashonaland
Central, they would move to other provinces to undermine Mujuru ahead of
Zanu PF's special congress to select the party's 2008 presidential
Manyika as the party's national political commissar, the sources
alleged, would restructure Zanu PF provincial leaderships making sure that
those rallying behind Mugabe occupy top positions.
Mugabe needs the support of at least six provinces at the special
congress to remain in power.
According to sources, the Kasukuwere-Manyika faction is pushing for
Tendai Savanhu to take over from Mines minister Amos Midzi as Harare
provincial chairman. The faction is said to be certain of support from
"They are confident of getting support from Masvingo where the Zanu PF
leadership has since pledged its allegiance to Mugabe," the source said. He
added that the faction was also confident that Manicaland, Mashonaland
Central Mashonaland West and one of the three Matabeleland provinces would
back Mugabe ahead of Mujuru and Mnangagwa.
Masawi, Chikava and Dinha this week professed ignorance of what was
happening in the province, while Chimutengwende, Butau and Dete could not be
reached for comment.
THE alleged adultery case involving Archbishop Pius Ncube, a fierce
critic of President Robert Mugabe, which has been sensationally playing out
in the media, has a new twist to it after it emerged that the saga is a
state security hatchet job to discredit the vocal cleric.
Analysts said events in the past week were reminiscent of the Cain
Nkala and Ari Ben-Menashe issues and will collapse due to too many holes.
Archbishop Ncube is being sued for $20 billion by a Bulawayo man,
Onesimus Sibanda, who alleges that he had an adulterous affair with his
wife, Rosemary Sibanda.
Ncube's lawyer Nicholas Mathonsi, in a lengthy interview yesterday,
said his client was not guilty and that it was for that reason he was
contesting the case in court.
"My client is not guilty and that is the reason we are contesting the
matter," said Mathonsi. "Unlike the other team that has played their case in
the newspapers, it is incompetent to discuss the merits and demerits of the
case before a wrong platform."
Questioned on the pictures showing Ncube in a compromising position
with different women, Mathonsi said he did not know how authentic the
pictures were but said his client was innocent.
"We do not know where the pictures are coming from and what they are
or if they are authentic. We expect them to be produced in court as evidence
but now they are already the property of everyone," Mathonsi said.
He also revealed that his client will sue media outlets that carried
the pictures and the people who allegedly shot them once the courts have
dealt with the matter.
The case has caused apprehensions in the Catholic Church, with a
majority of people interviewed by the Zimbabwe Independent saying they did
not believe that the video tape and the pictures being splashed by the media
However, it emerged this week that the people involved in "nailing"
Ncube have links to state security institutions.
The investigator cited in the state media as the mastermind behind the
pictures, Ernest Tekere, is a former undercover agent while state newspapers
claimed that he was a detective with the police Criminal Investigations
Investigations and interviews with senior police officers in that
department revealed that Tekere never worked for the CID. Most officers said
they never knew him as a police officer but linked him to state security
It also emerged that Sibanda was a solider with the Zimbabwe Defence
Forces (ZDF) based in Gweru, and not a National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ)
communication technician as claimed by state media.
NRZ public relations manager, Fanuel Masikati, refused to comment on
whether Sibanda was a railways employee.
"I am sorry I have no comment on that matter. I cannot comment to
you," Masikati said.
It also emerged that Sibanda has not been staying with his wife for a
long period but is staying with another woman in Gweru.
The allegations against Ncube came after President Robert Mugabe told
Zanu PF supporters in Harare last week that there were members of the clergy
who were involved in illicit affairs with married women.
Mugabe warned that some of the clergy were going to be exposed for
what they were.
Exactly a week later, state media was awash with pictures of
Archbishop Ncube, indicating that Mugabe was aware of the impending smear
campaign against Ncube.
The plot unravelled on Sunday when state reporters travelled all the
way from Harare to Bulawayo to cover the story. The Herald sent Munyaradzi
Huni to cover the case while SABC correspondent and ZTV part-timer Supa
Mandiwanzira was already in Bulawayo on Sunday to cover the case.
Mandiwanzira's cameraman was on Sunday at the St Mary's Cathedral
where he was seen filming the Sunday mass. Archbishop Ncube, who presides
over St Mary's, was not present over the weekend.
A press conference was quickly arranged by Sibanda's lawyer,
Munyaradzi Nzarayapenga, who announced the lawsuit before papers were
delivered to Archbishop Ncube with a team of journalists in hot pursuit.
Zimrights chairman, Kucaca Phulu, said the pictures being shown by the
state media violate the rights of people pictured.
"The whole episode violates privacy and the right to be protected from
abuse. The pictures also violate the dignity of readers while traumatising
children who read the newspapers," Phulu said.
The government-owned Herald and Chronicle newspapers ran photos
showing a man identified as Ncube removing his clothes and lying in bed with
a woman. Archbishop Ncube has filed a notice of defence at the Bulawayo High
Public euphoria over reduced prices has begun to turn into panic as
shoppers realise that government's forced price reductions have cleared
basic commodities from supermarket shelves.
Many goods are reappearing on the black market.
Government's Operation Dzikisai Mitengo (reduce prices) launched two
weeks ago was welcomed by consumers as an opportunity to hoard cheap
commodities but the exercise has reduced supermarkets to shells.
The commodities have since resurfaced on the black market at prices
ranging between four and five times the gazetted prices.
A thriving black market in Mbare is cashing in $120 000 for a 2kg
packet of sugar, $500 000 for a 2-litre of cooking oil and $200 000 for a
bar of washing soap against government's $32 000, $86 000 and $90 000 for
the three commodities respectively.
Surveys throughout the week showed that shelves in most supermarkets,
from growth points to the major cities, have been emptied of basics.
People now spend most of their time in queues for the limited supplies
of the commodities. On the other hand, a critical fuel shortage has created
a transport crisis.
Economic experts warned from the onset of the price reduction blitz
that the move was going to destroy businesses.
Since the launch of the operation, over 2 000 business executives and
shop owners have been arrested for allegedly failing to comply with the
government directive. Fearing arrests and detention, shop owners reduced the
prices of all commodities, including electronic goods.
By Monday most shops in Harare had nothing left and queues had become
longer than ever as consumers chased the sporadic deliveries of what remains
of the basic commodities.
A number of chain stores have scaled down operations and reduced their
workforce to assess the damage so far and work out a way forward.
A tour of supermarkets on Wednesday showed that in the northern
suburbs, retail outlets have resorted to limiting the number of commodities
to one per customer but still not all basics could be found. One shop
manager in the Borrowdale area said the strategy was to limit the buying
frenzy and keep the shop open as long as possible.
A direct contrast is seen in high-density residential areas where
everything has been cleared out. Shop assistants said panic buying was still
rife in the suburbs, as people stampede for limited supplies that were
trickling in. "We are selling commodities as and when they are supplied,"
one assistant said. "As for now deliveries have not been consistent."
In Mbare, OK Supermarket has closed its bakery, butchery and takeaway
sections of its shop and started renovations because it has been idle
following the price reduction blitz.
"The renovations started last week," the foreman of the renovations
team said. "We are redoing the floor because it is damaged."
At the same shopping complex, all butcheries and other small operators
have been forced to close shop after people looted products when the prices
The manager of a shoe outlet, which had less than five pairs on
display, said it was a matter of time before he closed shop. "The price
reduction should have started from the manufacturer, not the retailer like
what happened. If we do not receive supplies within the next week, we will
be sending our workers home."
On the pavements in front of the emptied shopping complex, business is
brisk with informal traders persuading passers-by to buy basic commodities.
Merely asking how much a commodity costs invites a mob of traders trying to
convince you to buy their goods. They also make bargains, reducing prices to
make sure that they beat competition.
Reports from other parts of the country show similar trends.
CELLULAR network service providers face collapse due to sub-economic
tariffs which were imposed by government three weeks ago, industry sources
This comes in the wake of the networks losing a lot of foreign
currency on termination charges because of the increased number of local
calls to international destinations.
When the government ordered the network providers to reverse their
tariffs to the June 18 levels, international calls from Zimbabwe rose
drastically, thereby congesting networks.
"The sector is going to collapse soon if the charges are not revised
because at the moment we have a scenario where we are having a lot of
international calls from Zimbabwe to the Diaspora. This means network
providers have to pay foreign currency for those calls yet very few
international calls are coming in," said the sources.
Econet Wireless, one of the major cellphone providers in Zimbabwe,
said they were losing a lot of foreign currency in termination fees due to
increased international calls being made by their subscribers.
"We would like to remind our customers that every time they make an
international phone call, we as their operator have to pay the operator in
the country they are calling in foreign exchange. Our foreign currency
resources are very limited and we can only afford to pay for a small amount
of bandwidth to cover these calls. In order to preserve our capacity to
maintain international links, our customers can help by asking people
overseas to call them instead," said Econet in a written response.
Econet said the tariff reversal of three weeks ago had resulted in
Zimbabwe having the lowest cellphone tariffs in the world.
"The tariff approval reversal has not only resulted in Zimbabwe having
the lowest tariffs in the world, unfortunately some of our customers have
also taken the view that calls are so cheap in Zimbabwe they can literally
spend the whole day on the phone," said Econet.
"We have not only recorded calls by some of our customers lasting
several hours, but the call pattern now pertaining in Zimbabwe is showing
that Zimbabweans are spending more than three times the global average on
telephone calls. The consequences on the network are rather obvious: firstly
we are carrying three times the traffic level that the network is designed
to carry. This means that the network is 'flooded'. There is nothing we or
any other operator can do about it. To make matters worse, a considerable
number of our base stations are switched off every day because there is no
power," added Econet.
In South Africa, subscribers are charged between R2 and R2,70 on a
local cellphone call. In Zambia, a call is charged at K750 per minute, which
is equivalent to $60 000 on the parallel market while Zimbabwean charges are
between $400 and $700.
According to the International Telecommunications Union (ITU)
standards, only 10% of the subscriber population can be connected at any
given time but in Zimbabwe due to the cheap tariffs more than 10% of the
subscribers are connected for much longer at any given time. This is causing
Call-hold time, which is the time one stays on a cellphone call,
according to the ITU standards, should be five minutes or less. In Zimbabwe
people are spending more than an hour on a phone call and pay just $30 000.
ZIMBABWE'S domestic debt has soared to $6,8 trillion, increasing by
221,8% in three weeks largely due to huge interest payments on borrowings
through Treasury Bill instruments.
The unprecedented rise in the government debt level, which is a 3
760,8% increase from the January figure of $175 billion, was fueled by huge
interest payments, according to figures obtained from the Reserve Bank
The figures show that government debt surged to $6,782 trillion on
June 22, from $2,1 trillion at the beginning of the month.
The new debt level means that with an estimated population of 13
million, every citizen owes $521 695 to local banks and financial
Four in every five Zimbabweans is living below the international
poverty benchmark of US$1 (about $150 000 on the parallel market) per day.
The figure has a huge bearing on the returns that investors will be
getting from the money market. The money market is bound to continue issuing
investors with negative returns in the short-tem to minimise the harmful
effects of the huge interest cost component on the debt figure.
"Outstanding treasury bills accounted for 99,3% of this amount.
Government deposits with the Reserve Bank increased to $555,1 billion from
7,1 billion on June 1," the bank said.
The increasing government debt stock raised fresh fears of renewed
turbulence in the crisis-sapped economy, battling high inflation currently
topping 4 530%, a world record.
Interest payments accounted for 75,4% of total debt at a hefty $5,1
The interest payments were for treasury bills, most of which were
issued to the market at rates of between 500% and 550% during the first
quarter of the year.
High interest rates helped swell the level of government debt,
analysts said, indicating that this had forced a major restructuring of debt
in January from short-term debt to long-term debt.
That strategy had been carried forward into the second half of the
year, with the Reserve Bank flooding the market with long-dated Treasury
Bill papers of one year or longer tenors.
Indications are that the restructuring exercise was unlikely to be
unsuccessful due to the market's lack of appetite for long-term investments.
Analysts this week said it was evident that the solvency of government
was already seriously compromised by the current interest rates, and
technically government finances will not be better with even a 2% rise in
The principal Treasury Bill debt amounted to $1,6 trillion, or 23,8%
of government debt.
The debt stock was likely to rise further on increased borrowing by
government to finance unbudgeted expenditure arising from promises by
President Mugabe to subsidise manufacturers after ordering prices to be
reduced by half. The debt could also be further increased by the fact that
Zimbabwe has no access to international capital and therefore government
would rely exclusively on the domestic market for money.
INTERNATIONAL media has in the past few days been dominated by the
news that China's trade surplus with the rest of the world had reached a
record US$26,1 billion in June. This works out to be double what it was the
same time last year and was spurred by a 27% increase in exports to US$103
billion. Ironically, this surge is coming at a time when the authorities in
that country have been trying to rein in exports by repealing rebates and
imposing taxes on some goods.
To the chagrin of many Westerners, the trade relationship between
China and the United States remains firmly in favour of the former with the
surplus to June sitting at US$73,9 billion.
The reverse is true for Africa. According to the Chinese Daily, the
trade relations between the country and Africa have not only been improving
but are skewed towards the African continent. In value terms, goods worth
US$40 billion have been traded between the two with China importing more
than it is exporting. These imports are mainly raw materials such as
platinum, nickel, copper and other metals. The increase in crude oil output
from African countries has also been attributed to the high economic
activity and hence energy demand from China.
The Chinese economy has been growing an incredible rate in the past
three or four years. This year, after a series of 8,0-10,7% annual growths
rates, the country is expected to grow by another 11,1%.
This frenetic activity in China has manifested itself in record
increases in the prices of most major metals and minerals. The price of gold
has risen from US$275/ounce in 2001 to US$673/ounce this year whilst nickel
once reached US$50 000/tonne before receding to the current levels of US$33
000/tonne. Platinum is trading at US$1 300/ounce from US$529/ounce in 2001
and copper has not been left behind. Massive investment in Zambia is on the
back of these favourable copper prices.
Another important facet of the "China effect" in the mining sector is
the increase in exploration. Most mining houses are making enough profits
and are able to re-invest these in extending the lifespan of existing mines
and open up new ones. At the 68th annual general meeting of the Chamber of
Mines, the chamber president indicated that funds dedicated to non-ferrous
metal exploration world wide reached US$7,13 billion in 2006, with Africa's
share being US$1,14 billion, of which the bulk was, by South Africa.
Zimbabwe's contribution to Africa's exploration budget is tiny and not worth
What is even more saddening is the fact that not only has the country
failed to benefit from the mining boom, with the sector having declined by
16,23% in 2006, but a number of mining concerns are scaling down. Some are
even closing down. Factors inhibiting the sector from participating in the
'party' are well known.
This is not to say there has been no activity in the sector. On the
contrary a lot has been going on, particularly with regards to the old
mining houses. There has been numerous changes in ownership and management
as some owners and/managers have given up whilst others who feel fired up to
take the current challenges head on have accepted the baton.
Central African Gold (CAG) recently acquired listed Falcon Gold
Zimbabwe (Falgold) which runs Dalny and Venice mines. The same group also
acquired Olympus Gold Mines. In another development Carslone Enterprises
acquired Golden Kopje Mines. Listed concern, Bindura Nickel Corporation
(BNC), announced that it had completed the pre-feasibility study of the
Hunters Road nickel project and the board had approved the construction of
an open pit mine at the site. The mine is estimated to have a lifespan of 22
On the other hand, Hwange has not been having it easy. The colliery
company has been having problems with its ageing machinery and at times has
failed to supply coal to Zesa's thermal power station. It is reported that
the company needs US$60 million to re-equip and retool. Consequently, last
year saw production declining by 32% and it is expected to regress even
further this year. The recently appointed chief executive needs all the luck
in the world to turn the company into the blue chip, which it should be.
Coming to the performance of listed mining concerns, the share price
of Falgold did respond to the change in management, with an appreciation of
7 043% since the year begun. Hwange with all its troubles has been the
second best performing mining counter this far with a year to date gain of 4
900%. Surprisingly, BNC, whose operational performance has not been
disappointing and whose future prospects look much brighter and has been
very generous to shareholders with quarterly dividends, is third with an
uplift of 3 900%. RioZim is last with a return of 3 650%, weighed down by
the issues to do with the funds owed to gold miners by the central bank and
heavy expansion investments estimated at US$200 million that the company
needs to undertake. The overall mining index has gone up by 3 925%, and is
significantly lagging the benchmarks such as the parallel market rate and
the Old Mutual implied rate which have risen by 7 307% and 4 823%,
The fact that the sector has underperformed is not unexpected given
the trials and tribulations that it has had and will continue to content
with. The sector's fortunes remain intertwined with the exchange rate and
actions of the central bank. Another dimension which has been added to the
equation is that the central bank will now be both a competitor and arbiter,
after it has set up gold and coal mining subsidiaries.
In the meantime we are missing out on the Chinese gravy train, and who
knows what the global situation will be when we finally get our house in
TOBACCO sales will fall short of the projected total output of 80
million kg by nearly 10 million kg if average daily sales of 485 000kg
continue with about 37 days of official trade left.
Figures obtained from the Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB)
yesterday showed that a total 50,4 million kg valued at US$117 million
(about $29,3 billion at the interbank rate) had gone under the hammer as at
Farmers this week said if the average daily sales were maintained
until the close of the auction floors which are traditionally during the
first week of September, a total of about 68,3 million kg would have been
Auction floors are usually extended by about two weeks to accommodate
late deliveries. If sales during the two weeks are included using the same
average sales, about 73,1 million kg would have been sold for the 2007
The figures also showed that Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF) auction floors
have so far handled the largest volume of tobacco, with about 7,3 million kg
of tobacco valued at US$ 17 million going under the harmer as at July 18.
Burley Marketing Zimbabwe (BMZ) auction floors are second with sales
of 6,8 million kg valued at US$16,1 million while Zimbabwe Tobacco Auction
Centre (Zitac) accounts for the lowest volume of tobacco sales at 6,3
million kg valued at US$15,3 million.
Zitac usually caters for large scale tobacco farmers, while TSF mainly
accommodates smallholder farmers. BMZ attracts medium- to large-scale
tobacco growers. Contract farmers accounted for 29 million kg valued at
This year's tobacco auction started on a low note with farmers unhappy
with prices merchants were offering.
Although amount being offered was satisfactory, farmers were also
unhappy with the late payments which have resulted to some staying at the
auction floors for nearly three weeks.
Meanwhile a total of 52 213 kg of burley tobacco valued at US$88 000
(about $22 million at the interbank rate) have been delivered to BMZ auction
floor the country's sole buyer of burley tobacco. The deliveries are 88 027
kg less that 140 240 kg archived during the same period last year.
DELTA Corporation has said the economic recovery of the country will
require government to change the current policies to relax controls and
allow market forces to operate, and to create a more predictable environment
In a statement in the company's 2007 annual report, Delta chairman Dr
Robbie Mupawose said the current economic environment characterised by price
controls and a fixed exchange rate was not conducive for an economic
"Economic recovery will require significant changes to economic
policies," said Mupawose. "This should include the relaxation of controls
and a move towards the operation of market forces to create a more
predictable enabling environment for business."
The dollar has been fixed at $250 to the US dollar since July 31 last
year while it is trading above $140 000 on the parallel market. Goods such
as mealie meal, cooking oil and bread have been controlled since 2004. Delta
products such as soft drinks and beer have been affected by the current
After a cocktail of failed economic blueprints government has lined up
another economic draft, the Zimbabwe Economic Development Strategy (ZEDS),
to succeed the National Economic Development Priority Programme (NEDPP) that
was unilaterally terminated by the Joint Operations Command (Joc) a
fortnight ago amid a blazing price war with industry.
The other blueprints that have failed to revive the economy include
the Growth with Equity in 1981, the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme
(1991), the Poverty Alleviation Action Programme (1994), the Zimbabwe
Programme for Economic and Social Transformation (1996 to 2000) and the
Economic Revival Programme (2003).
"The upward trend in inflation (currently at 4 530% for May) is well
established and will not reverse unless steps are taken to secure funding
from non-inflationary sources for recurrent government expenditure,"
Delta's financial results for the past three years have cited price
controls and failure to access enough foreign currency from the Reserve Bank
as major stumbling blocks to its turnover, operations and expansions.
Delta posted a turnover of $375 billion in the first quarter of this
year, mainly on beer sales.
The company said it was supportive of the initiative underway to reach
a tripartite agreement between government, labour and business on a way
forward to economic recovery. He however said all parties should endure
short-term setbacks in their operations.
"Recovery is only possible if each of the parties is prepared to take
significant short-term pain in order to avoid an otherwise inevitable
continued economic collapse and considerable longer term pain," Mupawose
UNCERTAINITY has gripped the property sector which is reeling from the
effects of a government directive on price cuts that have worsened
accommodation crisis in the country.
This comes amid revelations that property owners have started
withdrawing their assets from the market to evade the government crackdown
which started a fortnight ago.
Players in the sector said the withdrawal of properties from the
market was in protest to the government refusal to adopt price formulas it
was presented by estate agents for consideration in place of the reduction
in prices and rentals.
Real Estate Institute of Zimbabwe (REIZ) president, Boysen Mutembwa
confirmed to businessdigest that the property sector has been thrown into
turmoil by the government directive to rollback prices and rates to those
obtaining before 18 June.
Mutembwa also said government has remained mum over the property price
formulas they presented after the onset of the price reduction.
He said in the absence of an agreed pricing structure, the sector
faced collapse. Since the beginning of the year, the property market has
been buoyant driven mainly by demand for upmarket accommodation. However
prices of houses and commercial properties have remained beyond the reach of
many potential buyers in a market where the bulk of the country's working
class no longer qualify for bank loans or mortgages.
"We presented our price formula suitable for our sector to the
Minister of Industry and International Trade," said Mutembwa. "Authorities
in the price cuts taskforce have remained mum over the issue."
Mutembwa said most residential property owners had started withdrawing
their properties from the estate agents and were engaged in private deals
with potential property buyers.
"Most residential property owners are withdrawing their properties
from estate agents as they do not want their prices to be controlled under
this government operation and are engaged in private deals with the property
buyers," he added.
Property owners have been reaping huge financial profits through rent
increases, which in cases have gone up by more than 400% inside four months
while others are demanding rentals in foreign currency.
Knight Frank managing director, Oswald Nyakunika said landlords had
resorted to withdrawing properties from the market due to the ongoing price
"Whenever rentals or returns are low, there may be a reluctance to
lease in favour of owner occupation. Before the price cuts and price freeze,
the trend was three months rent review to compensate for any losses due to
inflation," he said.
Constantine Chimakure/Kuda Chikwanda
BATTLE lines have been drawn and daggers out, with the fate of Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono coming under the spotlight.
Zimbabweans now wait to see whether Gono will be forced out of office,
have his wings clipped or continue spearheading so-called economic recovery.
Gono recently found himself at loggerheads with ruling party stalwarts
after he advised that government's order for businesses to cut prices of all
goods and services by 50% was antithetical to economic revival.
In two documents addressed to the Cabinet Taskforce on Price
Monitoring and Stabilisation in the past fortnight, Gono warned that the
price blitz would lead to unintended consequences such as the collapse of
businesses, worsening economic decline and suffering for the poor.
He likened the state-sponsored crackdown to the invasion of Iraq by
the United States of America and its allies without an exit strategy. He
drew biblical references with Moses and the Israelites' departure from
Those opposed to the "prime ministerial" powers President Robert
Mugabe has given Gono bayed for his blood saying he was working at
cross-purposes with government. They suggested that either his wings were
clipped or he be dismissed.
They believe Gono to be a stumbling block to the ruling party's 2008
parliamentary and presidential elections campaign. The current price blitz
spearheaded by state security agents and youth militia is widely perceived
to be one electioneering tool.
They believe if they convince Mugabe, he can turn his back on the
central bank chief, in much the same way he did with former Information
minister Jonathan Moyo two years ago.
But questions arise on their capacity to pull this off. Do the
sentiments of Gono's enemies mean there is now lack of trust between him and
government? Will he be allowed to continue in office with enemies lurking in
More importantly, will the relationship between Gono and his
principal, President Mugabe, change?
Gono has denied having presidential or political ambitions. He has
also denied that there is a rift between himself and senior ruling party
officials, saying his relations with the presidium and cabinet are
"I am not a politician, but a technocrat and practical governor of the
central bank whose duty is, among others, to give advice to the government
in its various forms and I am doing exactly that without fear or favour.
"I do not hold any political ambitions either. As governor, I hold an
apolitical office in the land and I have no known enemies in either Zanu PF,
MDC or any other political party," he said at the weekend.
Such assurances will not deter plans by Labour minister Nicholas
Goche, Industry and International Trade minister Obert Mpofu and minister
without portfolio Elliot Manyika who are reportedly pushing for his exit.
All are members of the politburo, Zanu PF's supreme decision-making body
The three ministers represent widely held sentiments within the two
major ruling party factions, led by retired army general Solomon Mujuru and
Rural Housing minister Emmerson Mnangagwa. Reliable sources say the two
camps want Gono out "as soon as yesterday".
The Mujuru faction has been fighting Gono since his appointment in
December 2003, while the Mnangagwa camp, widely perceived to be Gono's
political backers, are said to be peeved at his alleged presidential
Gono's closeness to Mugabe has been a source of worry for both camps.
Apart from being Mugabe's personal banker for years, he is believed to have
more access to the 83-year old leader than most ministers and politburo
But political analysts believe the noise created by Manyika, Goche and
Mpofu to be much ado about nothing. They believe that if he had indeed
fallen out of favour, he would now be gone as the ruling party has a history
of non-tolerance for dissent.
Gono's trump card, they said, was the RBZ Act, which empowered him to
advise government on matters affecting the economy.
"Gono's mandate is to advise government," political scientist Michael
Mhike said. "He is in charge of the economy and I do not see why they want
his wings clipped or to have him dismissed. He is supposed to fight
inflation, create employment and oversee interest rates, but how can he do
that without criticising policies he feels are against his mandate?"
Mhike said those calling for Gono's dismissal were doing so because
they believed he harboured presidential ambitions.
"This is a political matter. It has nothing to do with improving our
economy. I think some Zanu PF leaders are worried with what he has been
doing at the helm of the central bank since 2003."
Other analysts believe that while Gono could have angered Mugabe by
suggesting the price blitz was improper, he would not be fired as he enjoyed
a sound relationship with Mugabe.
One analyst who requested anonymity said Gono supported the principles
behind the price blitz but was concerned at government's failure to address
the supply side.
"If Mugabe was angered, it was only fleeting. Evidently Gono believes
that for the exercise to be successful, government should address the supply
side. Do we want a situation where prices have been slashed and shops are
emptied without replacements?"
Last weekend Gono defended his criticism of the blitz, calling for a
holistic approach to avoid "unintended consequences".
"An unfortunate impression has been created suggesting that the
governor is working at cross-purposes with government.nothing could be
further from the truth," Gono said.
Gono said there was need to put in place mechanisms to reduce
inflation and improve productive capacity for prices to stabilise.
Since coming into office, Gono's advice to government has either been
ignored or implemented too little, too late. Increasing the country's
productive capacity has been his clarion call, but his calls have all been
met with stiff resistance by those peeved at Gono's central role in the
Since 2003, Gono has called for the removal of price controls and
subsidies saying they place pressure on the central bank to engage in
damaging quasi-fiscal activities. Government has refused to heed his advice
and price distortions still exist on fuel, foreign exchange rates,
agricultural output and service provision by parastatals.
The International Monetary Fund has blasted the RBZ for quasi-fiscal
expenditures, which have stoked inflation.
Realising that the uptake of land under the land reform programme was
not tallying with output, Gono advised government to undertake command
farming to force all beneficiaries to be productive. Government is yet to
act in that regard.
Efforts to devalue reasonably and offer viability to exporters have
been dismal. Mugabe does not believe in devaluation and any official who
does so will be axed as Simba Makoni was in 2002.
Gono has warned of abuse of fuel meant for farming, delays by
government in announcing agricultural crop prices, corruption and the
implementation of 99-year leases. He has repeatedly called for parastatal
re-orientation, privatisation, upholding and signing of Bilateral Investment
Protection and Promotion Agreements (BIPPAs), and prudence in tabling
proposed amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act.
He has also put himself on the warpath with National Security minister
Didymus Mutasa, who also holds the lands portfolio, on the need to stop farm
Mutasa has contributed to the fracas by continuing to issue offer
letters and this has resulted in disruptions to farming while violating some
Government only implemented 99-year leases last year, despite Gono
having called for them since 2004. Parastatal re-orientation has been a
dream, and government has been resolute in refusing to privatise
parastatals, which have been a huge drain on the fiscus.
Uncertainty has hit the mining sector badly over the proposed
amendments to Mines and Minerals Act, while the National Incomes and Pricing
Commission, which Gono called for in May 2005, was only implemented in May
Gono also started making calls for the social contract in 2005 but it
is yet to be signed. The closest the partners got to was when three
protocols were signed on June 1.
By Tawanda Mutasah
IN order to feed Italian masses with the propaganda of a leader who
still had the stamina to govern, the dictator Benito Mussolini is reputed to
have occasionally visited construction sites where he would be photographed
pushing and pulling back-breaking debris and machinery.
As soon as the cameras were turned off, the dictator's aides would
leap to resuscitate a punting and sweat-drenched Mussolini, who would then
spend days on end privately hospitalised to recover from the aches and pains
of his bravado.
I never cease to be amazed at the yawning gap between appearance and
reality in the lives of political strongmen from Benito Mussolini to Robert
During the many years that his late wife Sally Mugabe was attached to
a dialysis machine, Mugabe notoriously conducted an affair with his
secretary Grace Marufu, and now we hear him - in remarks that were
suspiciously sequenced to preview the serving of summons for claimed
adultery on Bulawayo Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube - berating those who are
supposedly breaking their vows of celibacy.
The point is not whether or not Ncube and Rosemary Sibanda had a
relationship between two consenting adults in what, if they did, they - or
one of them - may have believed to be their private space. Nor whether, if
it happened, they had entered into the relationship with the same motive.
If there was no relationship and Ncube has been systematically set up
in the well-known patterns of the Mugabe regime, we are outraged. If there
was a relationship, whether or not Ncube and Sibanda were set up in the
process, or one of them was, we are nauseated by the callous attempt to
distract the attention of a nation on its knees through cheap, scout-camp
These "half-round chicken kicks" do not put a slice of bread in the
mouths of hungry Zimbabweans.
Whatever exists or does not exist between Ncube and Sibanda, the
families and individuals concerned must take responsibility for their
decisions in the private moral realm and with God and their consciences.
They would then use the civil law as appropriate, whether for claimed
adultery damages on the part of Sibanda's husband, or for possible
defamation damages on the part of Ncube, or to seek other relief.
On the other hand, contrary to the intentions of Mugabe and his
cohorts, the matter does not for once confuse Zimbabweans and the world
about the veracity and importance of Ncube's public moral voice on the
morass that Zimbabwe has become, and on Mugabe's responsibility for the
state we are in.
At their Harare rendezvous, whereat Edgar Tekere linked up with Mugabe
to drive towards and cross into Mozambique to join the liberation struggle
in 1975, Tekere's book, A Lifetime of Struggle, records that "as I got into
the car, I saw a small figure slowly climbing the security fence at the rear
of the garage. It was Robert Mugabe. He was coming from the home of Abigail
Because, according to Tekere's account, this event happened after
Mugabe had committed to Sally before leaving Ghana, presumably it is these
experiences that inspire the designs of Mugabe to govern Zimbabwe through
the stage-management of sexual intrigue.
Unfortunately for him, just as he found Zimbabweans to have had the
sophistication to see through the massive propaganda on which Ian Smith
propped up the Rhodesian state, the nation today knows that being fed
sensational intrigue about Ncube does not cause inflation to come down, nor
essential commodities and medicines to appear on the supermarket shelves and
in the hospital dispensaries.
Rather, Zimbabweans are able to question how much money might have
gone into setting up cameras in Ncube or any other man or woman's bedroom
and where that money might have come from.
They are able to question how much of Zimbabwe's resources were spent
rigging cameras in the Canadian offices of Ben Menashe to entrap Morgan
Tsvangirai, and whether those resources could not have sustained the
pest-control services at our mortuaries in one of which a child's body has
recently been reported to have been bitten by rats.
Zimbabweans are able to wonder how many dip tanks in our rural areas
would have been kept functioning by the US$1 million spent on Baffour
Ankomah's New African magazine to lie about the events of March 11.
In fact, Zimbabweans know what the big moral questions of our day are.
They aspire to a decent life of more than the pitiful 37 years of life
expectancy in the country. Zimbabwean adults aspire to enter into consensual
relationships that are faithful, non-violent and mutually nurturing, and if
God grants it, to found families where children that may come of those
unions have educational and life opportunities enabled by their government.
They know who is shattering those dreams.
How many widows were created by Gukurahundi, tearing asunder the moral
fabric that Mugabe today pontificates about? How many families were
separated by Operation Murambatsvina?
How many couples today live apart, with partners having found no
option but to escape the hunger in Zimbabwe, leaving loved ones behind? How
many young women have been forced into dangerous liaisons - often with the
belching fat-necks that eat at Mugabe's trough - on account of an irrational
economy where one's monthly bus fare alone exceeds one's wages?
These are critical moral issues that Ncube is consistently helping to
keep alive in our national conscience.
The moral questions of the day also include all of us choosing either
to opportunistically line up at the trough of patronage for the sake of our
own tummies, or to speak out on the side of the oppressed, unfortunately
becoming ourselves, our lives and our reputations, individual targets of the
wrath of a dying dictatorship.
Pity you, the Scribes and the Pharisees. In addition to the laughable
spectacle of your well-fed TV newsmen lumbering themselves to the alleged
crime scene, even though if we gave them a basket of stones they could not
conceivably cast the first one, the oddities of your case are myriad.
At the very least, we find that we all live in a strange country where
the head of state makes remarks that anticipate adultery court summons 10
days in advance, and where TV cameras escort those who serve court summons
wherever they go.
As you sit down to devise the next scheme not to protect and
facilitate the livelihoods of us who voted you into office, but to distract
us and to muzzle our voices of conscience, take a moment to remember the
great denunciation of the Scribes and Pharisees in Matthew chapter 23, where
Jesus denounced those who "are like whitewashed tombs", those who "inside .
. . are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness", and those who, at verse 23,
"have neglected the weightier matters of the law, justice and mercy and
* Tawanda Mutasah is a friend of Archbishop Pius Ncube.
By Mutumwa Mawere
THE nature and context of the political and economic crisis in
Zimbabwe has changed in a cynically predictable manner. The contestation for
power since Independence has been principally between the labour-dominated
opposition and custodians of the national democratic revolution.
The labour movement in its current formation is a direct consequence
and creation of the post-colonial state. In fact, President Robert Mugabe
can rightly claim to be the father of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU) because under the colonial settler regime, such consolidation of
labour power was illegal.
If one accepts that the ascendancy to power of Zanu in 1980 was a
triumph of the working class and the marginalised majority, then the focus
of the post-colonial state necessarily had to be about the poor. To the
extent that the national democratic revolution was meant to restore
sovereignty to the people, the expression of such power had to be through a
government created by the citizens.
For the first seven years of Zimbabwe's Independence, the address of
sovereignty was the parliament of Zimbabwe. After the Unity Accord, the
address changed to State House and Mugabe became the supreme leader.
It is clear that there is no consensus as to the origins of the
Zimbabwean crisis. Some argue that the crisis began at Lancaster House
particularly in respect of how the land issue was to be handled and
financed. They argue that the fact that there was a delay in tackling the
problem should not detract from the core challenges of democratising an
entrenched legacy of colonially engineered inequities.
Accordingly, the economic crisis in Zimbabwe is seen as predictable in
that any attempt to convert the civil rights gains of the national
democratic revolution into economic rights is bound to generate problems.
In prosecuting the national democratic revolution, it is argued that
it would be unreasonable to expect the assistance of the bourgeoisie class
particularly the white settler class. Naturally, one would expect that the
labour movement, whose members were exploited historically in the creation
of an artificially developed colonial state, to come to the assistance of
the ruling elite.
In fact, the creation of a federation of the working class was meant
to entrench an alliance of the oppressed and the ruling elite in the pursuit
of a common objective to eradicate poverty. The role of the state was seen
by both labour and the bureaucrats as central to the execution of the people's
Notwithstanding the expectations, Mugabe's experiment backfired on him
and 27 years later he now finds himself head-on with an unexpected alliance
between the working class (his own creation), white settler class and the
domestic and foreign capital class.
What is ironic is that there may not be any fundamental policy
differences between the labour movement and Zanu PF in as much as the
differences between Zanu and Zapu were patched up to the benefit of the
leadership of both parties.
It is not clear in terms of the tactics and strategies of the labour
movement what kind of Zimbabwe they want ie a socialist construction with
the state in control of the commanding heights of the economy or a
capitalist system in which the market determines the allocation of
If there is any lesson to be drawn from the just-ended ANC Policy
Conference and last week's South African Communist Party (SACP) congress, it
is that the labour movement is determined to institutionalise the same
policies that Mugabe is being criticised for by the labour movement in
If Mugabe were a South African, there is no doubt that he would have
been elected unopposed as both the leader of the ANC and the SACP. However,
Cosatu and SACP appear to be opportunistically opposed to Mugabe's policies.
On the question of asset ownership, Mugabe and the ANC alliance
partners believe that the state should control and manage the assets. In
fact, the SACP called for the nationalisation of petrochemical firm Sasol
and Mittal Steel South Africa to ensure energy security.
The general secretary of the SACP, Blade Nzimande, told the party's
congress last week that it was absurd for resource-rich South Africa to be
paying high prices for steel and oil produced in the country.
"Why do we have to pay not just import parity prices but as much as a
30% premium when compared to India and China for our own steel? About 40% of
our oil comes from Sasol, but we are paying international prices," he said.
He urged delegates to pass a resolution calling on the state to take
control of the two companies. It is clear that the difference between the
SACP and Zanu PF's position on asset ownership and pricing policies may be
the same and yet the SACP advocates regime change in Zimbabwe.
It is not clear what SACP and Cosatu know about the MDC in terms of
policy that would lead them to want Mugabe, their most vocal and eloquent
spokesman for the Socialist International, to go and be replaced by a party
that would on the face of it (if the solidarity with SACP and Cosatu means
anything) end up advocating the same policies that Mugabe has failed to
implement over the last 27 years. Could the argument between MDC/ZCTU and
Zanu PF be over the pace of nationalisation or are there fundamental policy
On the issue of the benefits from the post-colonial state, Mugabe's
position is that the benefits are skewed in favour of criminals masquerading
as businessmen and imperialist agents. The position is no different from the
one articulated by Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima Vavi at the SACP
Vavi said: "The main beneficiaries of economic transformation are
white capitalists who remain the induna (chief) while the black middle class
holds jobs in human resources. The SACP and Cosatu are in the middle of one
of the biggest struggles since the 1980s and 1990s and the patience of the
working class is wearing thin.
"They remain as oppressed by the white oligarchy as the working class.
Cosatu and SACP are demanding that the benefits of the sustained economic
growth should be shared with the people who created the wealth. We can
expect the attacks on all of us to intensify."
Many have been surprised by Mugabe's reaction to the Zimbabwean
business sector in terms of price increases in the face of a
hyper-inflationary environment. However, given that it is unclear what the
policies of the labour dominated MDC in the post-Mugabe era are, Mugabe has
decided to take over the role of the opposition in Zimbabwe and no-one can
doubt after the actions of last week that he is now opportunistically the
undisputed leader of the downtrodden and leaderless opposition.
For the SACP and Cosatu, they see in Mugabe a leader that warehoused
and baby-sat capitalism for too long. They would want a new leadership in
Zimbabwe that would accelerate the destruction of private property and
introduce state planning in which they would think for the citizens in the
name of national interest.
Given that the raw materials of any successful politician in Africa
are the poor rural people and the working class, Mugabe has no choice but to
reclaim the leadership of the national democratic revolution by stepping
into the ideological vacuum created by the MDC with its alleged questionable
alliance with capitalists and white settler farmers.
Under this construction, it is then argued that there can be no basis
of a regime change being driven by the working class when there is no better
leader for them than Mugabe and Zanu PF. If Zapu came to the realisation
that it was futile to oppose the national democratic revolution led by Zanu,
then it is also argued that MDC will now come to its senses with the
realisation that the state can force business to reduce prices by 50% with
no visible and tangible opposition.
If Mugabe can bring lower prices to the suffering masses then surely
why would any reasonable and patriotic Zimbabwean want him out? Only
imperialist forces would want such a leader out of power and leave the
vulnerable majority unprotected.
If Mugabe has transformed himself into the leader of the opposition,
then what are we to make of Gideon Gono's antics of leaking confidential
papers to the media and trying to confuse the public from targeting him for
his own misguided policies and programmes?
By the way, who introduced externalisation as a criminal offence in
the Zimbabwean vocabulary? Who controlled the exchange rate at artificial
rates and then introduced Productive Sector Facilities? Who removed the
three zeros from the currency and called them heroes?
What is the difference between no devaluation and price control? Who
introduced unconstitutional and illegal quasi-fiscal activities whose full
extent remains shrouded in mystery? Why would Gono want to run away from his
shadow? What ever happened to Herbert Murerwa who correctly predicted that
the zeros would come back with a vengeance?
It is evident that Mugabe learned from Gono that the police can do a
better job in managing political and economic behaviour than good policies.
Notwithstanding the demise of the traditional communist order, there
are many who believe that socialism can be a better instrument for
eradicating poverty in Africa. There are many who resign in comfort that
Mugabe, like other like-minded leaders, is a victim of imperialist forces
that are determined to keep Africans from controlling their destinies.
What is tragic is that bad leadership benefits from the ideological
confusion that seems to characterise contemporary African opposition
* Mutumwa Mawere's weekly column appears on New Zimbabwe.com every
EXUBERANCE has never been a substitute for rational thinking and
government is slowly waking up to this realisation. The taskforce on Price
Monitoring and Stabilisation on Wednesday effected an upward revision on the
price of cooking after agreeing with producers that the prices decreed by
the government three weeks ago were unsustainable.
The taskforce this week quadrupled the price of cooking oil from $22
000 for a 750ml bottle to $91 000. It has also been announced that retailers
and wholesalers are allowed to effect a 20% margin to cover transport costs
for distances over 40 kilometres. This should be a welcome development for
the business sector which has over the past three weeks incurred huge losses
for selling their products at sub-economic rates.
Indications on the ground are that the taskforce will be doing the
same on other basket goods in a move designed to bring products back onto
shop shelves and to build trust between government and industry. For a long
time, business has been regarded as hostile to government's designs, and
policies at both fiscal and monetary levels have seen the private sector
coming out second best.
The strategy of business in the current exercise has been to comply
with state policy to avoid further antagonism and hopefully extract
concessions. The need to build trust between the parties is the basis of the
social contract penned last month between business, labour and government.
The plan however received a jolting shock when government introduced a price
blitz which saw most businesses booking losses and others recording squeezed
gross margins of under 10% compared to monthly inflation of 50%. This
militates against the spirit and letter of the social contract. The blitz
has become synonymous with losses, retrenchments and uncertainty in the
manufacturing and retail sectors which were already on their knees.
The margins on cooking oil announced this week can only make business
sense if they were reached after agreement between government and producers.
This should set the benchmark for other goods to ensure the review of prices
right across the chain is a result of consensus.
It is also important for industry to come out and make public the cost
build-up for key products. That way, it becomes clear what margins
manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers are realising. In the absence of
this, government and consumers have ganged up against businesspeople who are
accused of profiteering. On the other hand, retailers and manufacturers have
accused government of irrationality and heavy-handedness. In the interim,
production has continued to plummet.
Pricing models should therefore make sense. The current structure
based on a decree by government forcing retailers to slash prices to June 18
levels is unworkable. This makes it crucial for the negotiating parties to
cut red tape and agree on models as expeditiously as possible. The longer it
takes, the greater the damage to the economy which has taken enough
In all this, it's also important for government to meet its side of
the bargain. The pricing models should not be based on assumptions but on
realistic notions which are not always constant. For example, any pricing
model calculated assuming that business will access subsidised fuel at $60
000 a litre will cause serious problems because service stations do not have
fuel at that price. The supply of raw materials - especially those that are
solely distributed by the state - should be predictable and consistent.
Millers for example should get a consistent supply of grains, fuel and
electricity, which is a huge ask under the current environment.
Business has a duty to inform the public about constraints they are
facing, especially if the government is in breach of its obligations in
production processes because our politicians are always quick to blame
The real test therefore on the efficacy and viability of the prices to
be set by the taskforce - hopefully with input from the private sector -
should be seen in the availability of products on the formal market. Also
those entrusted with monitoring prices should understand formulae used by
retailers in coming up with the agreed margins. The issue of transport costs
is a case in point here. But of late, exuberant monitors have marched into
shops and forced retailers to charge ridiculous prices which have nothing to
do with the set law.
This always creates uncertainty in the market because processes have
been left to semi-literates who believe that their role is to punish
businesspeople. We now await the availability of locally manufactured
cooking oil on supermarket shelves.
ORDINARILY I should not be bothered to comment on the debauchery in
the state media this week concerning Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube, all
presented in salacious detail by voyeurists paid to play dirty games on
government's political opponents while the nation burns.
I don't always agree with some of Ncube's views, such as his alleged
call on Britain to invade Zimbabwe Iraq-style. There was a similarly crazy
article on the Internet attributed to one Eddie Cross. I have as much
respect for such a project as I have for a military coup. My abiding belief
is that the way to everlasting peace, democracy, love and compassion and an
end to violence and destructive political hostility is through the ballot
Archbishop Ncube's adultery allegations presented us with a dilemma.
Because of the political polarisation in the country, Zimbabweans now view
everything either through Zanu PF or MDC eyes. Whether Ncube was engaged in
an adulterous relationship with his secretary should never have turned into
a political scandal. So is his vow of celibacy.
Being a sinner myself, I am reluctant to judge other people's private
lives on strict moral standards. Those are very private spheres which people
have to sort out with their creator, whatever their status in life.
Archbishop Ncube is no different.
But what happened during the week was apparently an attempt to ruin an
individual's life by creating a dangerous moral relativism - that there is a
bigger and a smaller sin. Ncube was accused of the bigger sin because of his
status in the Roman Catholic Church. Unfortunately even the most
well-meaning who were trying defend Ncube got themselves trapped in this
What is the point of telling us President Mugabe also did it? To the
best of my recollection, Ncube never gloated over Mugabe's past personal
indiscretions, but took a principled position on fundamental national
If Ncube committed adultery, it is an issue for his tormented
conscience. After all, his God knows the whole truth. If he is sued for it,
it is for the courts to deliver the verdict, not political opponents. The
best entry point in the debate by ordinary Zimbabweans is at the ethical
level. This is to say if Ncube committed adultery, he set a very bad example
for his flock and must live with the consequences.
The ethical plane provides us with a level field to judge our leaders.
Ncube's enemies want him hanged, which is wrong. His friends want to ignore
his alleged unethical behaviour. They are equally wrong.
The truth is that his moral authority has been severely eroded, which
is what his enemies wanted, but the truthfulness of the things he has railed
against in the past seven years has not diminished. Ncube's opponents lost
the plot by going personal. Ncube was not attacking President Mugabe purely
at the personal level. Hunger, state-sponsored violence, shortages of drugs,
food, fuel and the torture of opposition activists are there whether Ncube
speaks or not. That is what he will be remembered for by those fighting for
a better Zimbabwe, not pornography.
There is no need for unnecessary denial, obfuscation or moral
relativism. The same thing cannot be right or wrong depending on which
political party you belong to. Mugabe cannot be good as leader of the MDC
but bad as leader of Zanu PF. Gukurahundi cannot be right and wrong. It
helps us to identify the leaders the nation needs if we approach this debate
with an open mind.
This is a debate we in Zimbabwe missed when the South Africans were
confronted with the Jacob Zuma rape trial - whether he was fit to be the
next president. Unfortunately, for political convenience, it soon veered off
course. The Zulus claimed the rape allegation and Zuma's trial were a plot
by President Thabo Mbeki to keep them out of power. Instead of debating Zuma's
suitability as an exemplary future leader, tribal politics soon smothered
In Ncube's case, the state media went for overkill. An affair between
two consenting adults was treated like rape. It was like Ncube had exercised
undue influence over a woman who is 44.
What is not asked is whether it is ethical and responsible for
government to waste national resources and time in pursuit of a personal
vendetta. Not just that, but also in clear violation of the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act under which a number of private
newspapers and journalists have been prosecuted for publishing pornographic
material and falsehoods. If the government was not directly involved in
bugging Archbishop Ncube's alleged bedroom, how come no public official
invoked that law against the said "private investigator" for breach of
The ramifications of the entire project are chilling. It means nobody
is safe from snooping and government sees nothing wrong with this. It means
political rivals in the same party can safely snoop on each other and use
whatever information they get to pursue their agenda and the results will be
acceptable. It means such devices can be installed in bars, bedrooms and
hotels to record coded signals innocently uttered by private citizens. These
are serious moral and ethical questions which those engaged in the dastardly
acts at St Mary's Cathedral should be asking themselves.
Are we now a Gestapo state? Who is next? Who is safe?
by Vincent Kahiya
STATE propagandists this week should be reveling at their success in
creating the Pius Ncube sideshow which for a moment distracted people from
empty shelves and food shortages caused by the current price war.
The hardcore porn emblazoned on the pages of the Herald and the Chronicle on
Monday and Tuesday had Zimbabweans - predictably - talking about the
morality of the prelate. People gathered to pore over the pictures and
"expert" opinion varied on the issue. There were suggestions that the
pictures were generated by a computer and therefore not real. Others were
looking at the anatomy of the characters on the slides and quickly
concluding that the sizes of certain body parts were not consistent.
At a car dealership I visited on Tuesday afternoon, two company executives
waiting in the visitors lounge were engaged in an animated argument over the
pictures. "It can't be the same woman, look at her . here, and check it on
this other picture," said one, a well-known banker. "Do you see that the
shapes of the . are not the same."
The other was unconvinced by this expertise in women's body parts. He
maintained that the pictures were of the archbishop in the love nest. He
concluded as they were heading out to their vehicles which had been brought
to the front of the building that "Mudhara wacho haana choice". He should
have found a younger woman.
The two gentlemen's discussion captured the tragedy of Zimbabweans in this
whole saga. We have failed to look beyond the naked images that were
published in the papers. Even those who brought up moral arguments for or
against the priest did not see the dangers inherent in this exercise, which
has fingerprints of state security agents all over it.
A lot of readers saw it as a Pius Ncube issue. But the incident has greater
national implications on individuals' rights to privacy and the possibility
of the government and the Media and Information Commission allowing state
media to carry out similar exercises on perceived political opponents with
Going back six or so years, the Zimbabwe Mirror's editor-in-chief Ibbo
Mandaza obtained a High Court order which barred the Daily News from further
publishing material relating to his private property.
The Daily News had printed a front-page pictorial story in which properties
belonging to Mandaza were shown. The photos were aerial shots taken from a
plane. The paper claimed at the time that it had more photos of Mandaza's
properties, resulting in the publisher rushing to court.
Commenting on the matter, then Information minister Jonathan Moyo said the
Daily News should be brought to book for acts that did not respect the law.
"They behave as if they have an entitlement to violently intrude into other
people's privacy with impunity. This should send a clear message not only to
them but to others," said Moyo.
"People in Zimbabwe are innocent until proven guilty by a court of law and
yet this paper has been pointing fingers and going to extremes. This is
shameful, disgusting and should never ever be allowed," he said.
This was in the pre-Aippa era. I recall vividly government citing the
Mandaza case to justify the enactment of Aippa, which became law a year
But in the Ncube case, the old script that purported to protect individuals'
rights to privacy no longer subsists because the cast has changed. Opponents
of the incumbent do not have the right to secrecy. They can be photographed
naked in bed having sex and pictures publicised in papers. This is a clear
example of Aippa failing the test of one of its key mandates of protecting
private citizens. The law's inadequacies in facilitating access to
information are well-documented.
Coming back to the two executives, one of whom did not strike me as a
paragon of virtue, there is nothing that can prevent similar operations
being carried out on them. It might not be a sting on their sexual conquests
but their business transactions, telephone conversations with clients,
Lest we forget, parliament recently passed the Interception of
Communications Bill to spy on individuals' phones and other electronic
messages. After the Pius incident, what can stop the media from publishing
transcripts of a cellphone conversation between a CEO and his mistress or,
worse still, the goings-on in hotel rooms occupied by opponents of the
state? Don't say you have not been warned. Big Brother is becoming more
devious. By the way, have telecoms companies placed orders for equipment to
help government spy on us?
ALL along we were wondering what Paul Mangwana's Indigenisation and
Empowerment department does from the beginning of the year to the end. Last
week the minister provided the answer in his "Conversation" with Caesar
He said the basic function of the department was to spearhead the
indigenisation of the economy, "that is placing businesses in the hands of
How many companies have been "placed" in the hands of the majority
beside a coterie of Zanu PF hangers-on?
Asked again whether his department was ready to take over companies
which failed due to unsustainable prices imposed by government, Mangwana was
unequivocal: "We are actually taking this as the best opportunity for
indigenisation," he said.
When land invasions started in 2000 we were told the same lies that
people were ready to take over from white commercial farmers. Seven years
down the line there is no sign of any improvement in the nation's food
security situation. Instead, we are having to survive on food imports from
impoverished Malawi. Can Mangwana help us "place" food on our tables?
Speaking of hallucinations, President Robert Mugabe this week said his
government was willing to work with "well-intentioned" companies in reviving
the economy. He called for "unity of purpose" between government and the
This coming while government has launched a vicious crackdown on
businesses accused of "profiteering" is unlikely to find eager listeners. It
calls for a huge leap of faith for one to take Mugabe's calls seriously.
As we speak many businesses are being forced to operate at reduced
capacity while others are threatening to retrench workers after government's
unplanned price blitz. We wonder who still has confidence in this criminal
regime to trust it with his wealth.
Enter Public Service and Labour minister Nicholas Goche. He told the
Herald this week that price controls would help reduce inflation. He said
government and its "partners"- labour and business - had promoted the social
contract to bring about price stability in the economy.
"To enforce the social contract," said the minister, "government has
put in place a Price Monitoring and Stabilisation Taskforce which is working
with manufacturers and retailers in the stabilisation of prices. This will
go a long way in increasing access to basic goods and services by vulnerable
members in our society as well as increasing their disposable incomes."
Goche is obviously living in a fool's paradise. The reduction of
prices was the easier bit just like the removal of three zeros from bearer
cheques by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono. Raising productivity is the
really crunch. It calls for far more than just setting up a price monitoring
taskforce. Very soon the people Goche believes will have access to cheaper
goods and services will find the shops empty.
Perhaps the minister needs somebody to remind him that a social
contract can only work when there is a buy-in and a common vision by all the
stakeholders instead of government's current sledgehammer approach. There is
more to economics than presidential decrees.
The Herald's biggest story of the week was on Archbishop Pius Ncube.
The "stinging adultery allegations" meant that all caution was thrown to the
winds and no expense was spared to bring down the "arrogant" archbishop "who
has been at the forefront of demonising the government". Such a worthy cause
necessitated the redeployment of Sunday Mail political editor Munyaradzi
Huni to Bulawayo. He was seen as the most competent hatchet man for the
We will leave the courts to pass their verdict in the fullness of
time. What we found curious if not frightening is the fact that a whole
president had given us a hint a week earlier that there were bishops who
were sleeping around.
The Herald and ZBC immediately rose to the occasion, and, a week down
the line, they had the scoop and the culprit. (We wish they could be equally
diligent in investigating who attacked Nelson Chamisa at Harare
Secondly, we were told of pictures of Archbishop Ncube and his partner
in crime Rosemary Sibanda "secretly taken by a private investigator hired by
the woman's husband".
The pictures, we were innocently informed, were taken in the
archbishop's bedroom. No hint is given that this is a serious crime under
the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act. How did the
"private investigator" get access into Ncube's bedroom and also manage to
whisper the information to the president?
Is it possible the "private investigator" was from the President's
Office and used state resources to settle private scores for his master? Or
do we have nuns moonlighting for the President's Office? Believe it or not,
these are not celibate either.
There is a job here for Media and Information Commission chair
Tafataona Mahoso. This is a clear case of invasion of privacy. Who among us
is safe? More importantly, it would be interesting to see the pictures that
have been released to Huni who is now using them everywhere to extract
Where are the media ethics that Mahoso is always talking about? This
is the same Mahoso who raised bull dust when The Standard published a
picture of President Mugabe just hitching his pants and not pulling them in
the other direction. Compare this with pictures splurged in the Chronicle
and Herald this week.
To the media, it's now legal guys. Let's enter bedrooms of our rulers
to carry out operation chastity.
Then suppose the whole farce turns out to have substance, it would be
a case of two big men and two poor secretaries. It does look like the game
is going to be rough indeed.
Still on Mahoso, he believes there are no shortages of basic
foodstuffs in the supermarkets. He also claims Zimbabwe's is a "very rich
economy awash with money and luxuries".
Writing is his rambling column in the Sunday Mail, Mahoso said only "a
few targeted items were missing" in the supermarkets and that this did not
So where are the goods you might ask?
"Several varieties of Russian vodka, for instance, were available in
almost all major supermarkets," observed our erstwhile socialist guru
Mahoso. "So were Zimbabwean and South African wines, cereals, soaps,
detergents, toiletries and perfumes," he noted, arrogantly indicating to us
the social circles he now revels in.
Is this guy talking for the poor or for so-called rich capitalists?
Are these the goods that the price war is targeting we wonder? We were
reminded of the infamous "let them eat cake" rejoinder that is often
attributed to France's Queen Marie Antoinette or closer to home, "let them
eat potatoes" coined by our own ruler.
The elusive CIO agent Joseph Mwale is reported to be now based at the
Zimbabwe consulate in Lusaka, Zambia. He is accused of the murder in 2000 of
two MDC activists, Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya. He has never had to
face the law.
What we found bizarre was the claim that Mwale is immune from
prosecution because he allegedly committed the offence in the course "state
We wonder if that is legal opinion or mere political speak. What
"state duties" was Mwale doing which entailed petrol-bombing opposition
He certainly can run for now but can't hide from his crimes forever.
The Zanu PF taskforce set up to investigate the availability of oil in
Chinhoyi in Mashonaland West province has presented its "findings" to the
party's politburo in Harare, The Voice told us this week.
"The team reported to the politburo that there was no need to pursue
the issue as nothing convincing had been found," said the party secretary
for Information and Publicity, Nathan Shamuyarira.
The taskforce included politburo members Lands minister Didymus
Mutasa, Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi and Home Affairs minister Kembo
Said The Voice: "The reported diesel find made headlines over the past
few months and brought hope to many at a time the country was experiencing
Shamuyarira said the reported diesel had been "some gimmick" by a
self-proclaimed spirit medium "whose intentions were not known". Most
Zimbabweans wonder what the intentions of those who were peddling this
nonsense were. Welcome down to earth.
A keen follower of the Pius Ncube saga sent us his observations: Like
vultures seeing prey, the state media went wild this week celebrating the
prospect of the ultimate demise of President Mugabe's nemesis in Bulawayo,
Archbishop Pius Ncube following an alleged adultery scandal. The Herald even
wheeled out its leading propaganda hatchet-man Munyaradzi Huni to spearhead
the campaign on the ground in Bulawayo, aiming obviously to "finish off" the
pesky Ncube whose bold criticism was probably beginning to get up Mugabe's
What must be obvious even to the most gullible of Zanu PF supporters
is the CIO hand in all this. While not denying that the man of the cloth
might have strayed from the straight and narrow path of self-righteousness,
the elaborate scheme, complete with hidden cameras to capture the entire
sordid details of the Archbishop's bedroom proclivities smacks of a
top-level sting that can only be engineered by intelligence services.
As for the snooping activities of the private investigator, Ernest
Tekere of the obscure Homeguard Security Services, we wonder whether someone
should not be looking finely at the provisions of Aippa.
If Ncube goes down as a result of this indiscretion, it is because he
was reckless not to realise that as an avowed critic of someone as
vindictive and ruthless as Mugabe, the CIO would watch his every move and it
was a matter of time before he put his foot wrong.
But the president himself is not exactly a paragon of virtue in this
regard. It is common knowledge that Mugabe began to have an affair with his
current wife, Grace, when she was already married to someone else who was
then posted on diplomatic service to China. In fact at the time, Mugabe's
own wife, Sally, was still alive and ailing with kidney failure that
eventually claimed her life, while the president went on to father two
children with another man's wife. Talk of the kettle calling the pot black.
So while the lawsuit will probably cause serious damage to Pius Ncube's
standing in the Catholic Church, the campaign of vilification in the
official media smacks of hypocrisy of the highest order. If Ncube is guilty
of breaking his vows of celibacy as a man of the cloth it is up to the
church to deal with the matter through its established laws and traditions.
And then from the law standpoint, it is up to the courts to determine
whether claims by Onesmus Sibanda, the aggrieved husband of the woman with
whom Ncube is alleged to have had an adulterous affair, are justified. This
is how normal democracies operate. Certainly, we do hope that the court
hearing this case will take note of the trial and verdict of the state media
that Ncube has already been subjected to.
Eric Bloch Column
GOVERNMENT'S diabolically ill-conceived recent interventions in the
economy are only exceeded by the even more diabolically implemented
fulfillments of those interventions by Zimbabwe's so-called guardians of law
Government has unhesitatingly abused its power and authority
(inclusive of self-bestowed authority instead of that lawfully vested in it
by the constitution and by parliament).
It has availed itself of existing legislation (and, in particular, the
Control of Goods Act) to apply draconian regulations at pronounced variance
to the intents of that Act, and at even more pronounced variance to the best
interests of Zimbabwe, its economy in general, and commerce and industry in
particular, and especially contrary to the best interests of the Zimbabwean
populace. And many of its law enforcers have exploited the created
opportunities of self-enrichment, and of excessive, over-reactive demands
upon the business sector, including forced sales at astronomic losses to
that sector, endangering its survival.
As noted in this column a week ago, rigid price controls and stringent
price regulations have never succeeded in countering pronounced
hyperinflation. Even more, they have never succeeded in rescuing any
government which recurrently and endlessly ignores all economic
fundamentals, disregards all evidence of its own culpability for the
creation of economic ills, and have never resulted in obtaining the enduring
respect and support of electorates.
Instead, without exception, they have resulted in worsened economic
circumstances, intensified hardships for the populations, and the ultimate
demise of those governments as have obdurately and steadfastly persisted
with their foolhardy endeavours of self-protection, self-enrichment, and
attempted deceptions of those they were supposed to represent and care for,
but which instead they continuously sought to rule and dominate.
The Zimbabwean government treats history with the same contempt as it
accords any who have the temerity to differ with it, any who espouse
policies at variance to its own, and any who do not demonstrate absolute,
unswerving obeisance and subservience to it.
Occasionally, its contempt is expressed merely by total indifference
and offhanded dismissal. More often it reacts by pouring forth vitriol
against its perceived enemies, the outpourings of that vitriol emanating
from all levels of the political hierarchy, from its administrative arm of
disinformation, misrepresentation and indoctrination, and from the
sanctimonious apostates within the realms of the state-controlled media.
When the Control of Goods Act was promulgated 53 years ago, the intent
was to ensure justice and equity for enterprise and consumer alike, within
an essentially free and minimally regulated economy, whensoever exceptional
circumstances necessitated interim, short-term, constructive measures.
Moreover, the legislation was subject to the basic principles of
democracy. However, from 1989 onwards, government has progressively
bulldozed modifications to the Act through parliament, including vesting the
president with immense powers of rule by dictate and decree (whensoever he
deems it to be necessary or expedient).
It was government, and not business as it alleges, that caused
Zimbabwe to sustain the world's highest levels of inflation. Its policies
and actions destroyed agriculture, decimated industrial productivity,
debased the nation's currency, sharply diminished foreign currency inflows,
occasioned an intense brain-drain, and consequential further economic
prejudice, and all that has caused the hyperinflation that characterises
Zimbabwe in its 27th year of so-called Independence.
But government is wholly convinced of its absolute infallibility, and
is therefore totally unable to recognise its culpability, let alone
acknowledge it to others. Therefore, it has had to delude and deceive itself
as to the causes, and convince others of such causes. Being profoundly
paranoiac, government inevitably believes that economic morass to be the
willful, ill-intentioned machinations of others.
However, never-ending blame being placed at the feet of (the
now-retired) Tony Blair, George Bush, the European Union, the International
Monetary Fund and of virtually non-existent economic sanctions (speciously
alleged to be illegal) has lost credibility.
Populations can only be misled, hoodwinked, and fooled for a period of
time, and eventually the truth will out. (That even happened to Nazi Germany's
minister of propaganda, Josef Goebbels, who was the all-time master of
So government has had vigorously to identify another scapegoat to
blame, and who better to attack falsely than the business community, for
that community determines prices (as government has not allowed market
fundamentals to do so).
However, false attribution of blame could no longer suffice to appease
a sorely afflicted populace. So government turned to the Control of Goods
Act, and misused it. Very temporarily the populace were exhilarated and
exuberant, with the expectations of an end to gross hyperinflation, and
instead a progressive restoration of economic wellbeing.
The exhilaration and exuberance has been short-lived! The realities
are becoming more and more pronounced:
* Almost immediately, there has been a virtually total
non-availability of most essential commodities, including maize meal, bread
and flour, sugar, cooking oil, salt, milk, beef, chicken, fuel and public
It is not that commerce and industry is deliberately withholding
products from sale, but that none can afford to manufacture at a loss, and
shopkeepers cannot afford to sell at prices that do not cover costs and
operating expenses, let alone also not to yield even a limited profit.
Similarly, transport operators cannot operate when their costs are
greater than the fares that they are permitted to earn. But government is
too obdurate or dense to accept this basic economic fact. Instead, the
scarcities are the fault of millers, private abattoirs, manufacturers,
retailers, and others, or so government would spuriously have one believe;
* The long-existent black market has been reinvigorated and enlarged,
both because the operators saw the opportunity of exacerbating scarcities by
bulk-purchasing of the forcibly price-reduced goods, and because of
discontinued or much-reduced production and imports.
As a result, while official (unannounced) levels of inflation may be
falling (being calculated on controlled prices, at which no goods are
available), actual inflation is soaring upwards.
The official price of petrol is $60 000 per litre, but in the black
market, which is the only source available to most, the price ranges from
$160 000 to $200 000 per litre. The official price of a loaf of bread is $22
000, but on the black market a loaf costs between $45 000 and $50 000.
The harsh facts are that despite government's protestations of
inflation-containment, despite the original consumer enthusiasm at the state's
pursuit of price controls, and despite the approbation of the Consumer
Council of Zimbabwe, cost of living is spiraling up and up, while hardships
and discomforts caused by scarcities are increasing;
* Business enterprises are fast collapsing. Some may be surprised
thereby (and especially those in government), but businesses cannot survive
if they are forced to sell their goods at a loss, and even if they are
allowed to sell at a profit, but that profit is insufficient to fund
overhead expenditures and finance costs. Thanks to government's bigoted,
irrational policies, businesses are fast being destroyed, be they
manufacturers, wholesalers, or retailers;
* As a result of the accelerating collapse of businesses, and of the
battle to survive of many others, unemployment (already intolerably great)
is intensifying to an immense extent. Almost all contract labour has been
terminated whilst thousands of others have also faced sudden loss of
employment. This has greatly increased poverty and hardship for tens of
thousands, if not more;
* The already catastrophically great brain drain has become even
greater, with ever more departing to live in viable economies. The
constraints that the brain drain places upon productivity and, therefore,
upon curbing inflation, are vast, whilst the prejudice to future economic
recovery is gargantuan;
* The previous low levels of investment have fallen to zero, for there
is no motivation to invest when each and every enterprise (other than within
the black market) is condemned to operational losses, and potential total
* The fiscal inflows are sharply diminishing, as turnovers of business
fall, thereby reducing value-added tax revenues, and as profit-generation
becomes a thing of the past, and therefore there are few business payments
of income tax, and decreasing dividends yielding withholding tax. As a
result, the gigantic deficits of the state are becoming even more immense;
* Respect for the police has been almost totally destroyed, as with
each and every action of theirs to force price reductions they, their
families, and friends (armed with prior warnings of those actions) swarm to
the targeted businesses, ahead of any other consumers, in vast volumes,
undoubtedly driven by intents of subsequent disposal in unofficial markets,
at immense profits.
And these are but a few of the numerous negative consequences of
government's harebrained actions. And there are not even any compensatory
benefits to government (other than profiteering by a select few who are
exploiting the opportunities created), for the electorate no longer see any
benefit from government's actions.
This won't bring us bread
GOVERNMENT and its secret agents once again this week proved their
no-longer shocking levels of political ineptitude by running a story in the
public media about an alleged adultery affair committed by Archbishop Pius
The media "blitz" which one would have expected to be worthwhile
turned out to any solution-seeking Zimbabwean to be nothing but another sad
tale of crude Zanu PF propaganda gone stale.
There are multiple examples of this propaganda whose main purpose is
to silence those who are not friendly to Zanu PF or the president.
Think of Jonathan Moyo, who after falling out with Zanu suffered and
endured the bruising effects of fatuous allegations that he was gay.
Remember the incident sometime early this year when the media reported that
Welshman Ncube cried under the grilling of journalists about the death of
his grandfather during the Gukurahundi era? Even those who are privy to and
within Zanu have also been used or abused as sacrificial lambs for political
The purpose is to either embarrass or silence those who are targets,
much to the detriment of their reputation or to simply maliciously contain
them because their potential is a direct threat to the ruling party
Making all sorts of noises and useless innuendos about Ncube does not
bring bread to the tables of suffering Zimbabweans who are desperate for
food, which is either expensive or out of supply in the formal market.
Neither does it make the ruling party an angel. Zimbabweans need to guard
against this crude Zanu PF propaganda which only serves to sow discontent
and peddle confusion.
This is not to say that Ncube is an angel or infallible or to condone
what he is alleged to have done. If the allegations are true then he needs
to own up and live with the damaging consequences of his actions, like the
many other senior government officials whose stories of infidelity have not
Zimbabweans need headlines that tell them where and when they can get
mealie-meal, sugar, cooking oil and all other basic commodities that are now
scarce; headlines that tell them when Mugabe is retiring; headlines that
will let them know when to expect a new constitution.
That Ncube has allegedly committed adultery cannot make us forget that
we no longer want Zanu PF in power.
Gono should just resign
THREE years ago I wrote in one local business paper that the Reserve
Bank governor, Gideon Gono, should be given a chance and supported by all
who want to see economic progress.
I was responding to critisism from the MDC's Tendai Biti who had
implied that Gono will fail to turn around the country's economy. I am
afraid to say that now I agree with Biti. At first Gono deceived me a
visionary, disciplined economist and technocract.
But if reality is allowed to prevail, he is far from being a
disciplined economist who is above politics. Twice I have heard him
backtrack on his ideas so that he can be politically correct, and to avoid
rocking the boat or upsetting the President.
Just a few months ago he made remarks to the effect that sanctions are
not to blame for country 's ecomonic decline, only to backtrack after
reminders that this thought was not consistent with Zanu PF propaganda. Just
last week he also backtracked on his suggestion that the price controls were
Which economist on earth can support price controls? History has shown
that whenever the government passes laws requiring suppliers 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 any more
than it can repeal the law of gravity.
Price controls are being imposed because the government is trying to
conceal the effects of inflation that it has created. All caused by Gono
printing too much money.
Such inconsistencies from the governor serioulsy undermine his
credibility and raise doubts about his principles. Our governor is willing
to play to the gallery even if it means bringing the whole country down.
It is time for Gono to give us a break from his deception, he is just
like the rest. If he is principled he should resign.
Asher Tarivona Mutsengi,
Unfair treatment at Zimpost
AS Zimpost employees we have tried to make our management appreciate
our predicament. But have failed to get a positive response. Maybe by
publishing this letter the Zimpost board and minister responsible may
intervene and help us.
Our salaries are so pathetic to the extent that one cannot purchase a
two-litre bottle of cooking oil. Month-ends have become a nightmare for us
as we are confronted by rents, rates, grocery purchases which we cannot
settle with the peanuts we are paid.
Recently our managing director was in the Herald Business boasting
that Zimpost had made a remarkable profit, but he does not want to reward
the workers who contributed to this profit. Instead he was advocating for
buying new vehicles. Surely for us drivers we need new vehicles (mail vans)
not luxury vehicles for managers. Before vehicle purchases, management must
seriously look into the welfare of workers.
Just imagine head office sent a circular two months ago saying food
allowances had been increased. Breakfast from $350 to $5 000, refreshments
from $200 to $1 000. Honestly this is ridiculous!
Please may the Communications Minister, board and MD look into these
allowances and salaries. Disgruntled employee.
ZIMPOST values the welfare of it's employees and as such has been
responding to changes in the economic environment so as to cushion staff
It has to be mentioned that the figures quoted by "Disgruntled
employee" are two months old and have since changed. This is an indication
that Zimpost is responding to challenges in the macro-economic environment.
In addition, any worker on company business is entitled to a full
reimbursement of all expenses incurred upon production of receipts.
Management is aware of the need to keep a balance between expenditure
and revenue generated. It is unfair and unfortunate for the letter writer to
claim that workers are neglected when investment decisions are made to keep
the company going and growing.
On the issue of salaries, Zimpost management and the workers' unions
have meet quarterly to discuss and agree on a cost of living adjustment.
Zimpost is committed to improving the welfare of its employees.
Zimpost public relations department.
I remember professor
I TOTALLY agree with Cekay Tawham (Zimbabwe Independent, July 13) that
Professor Jonathan Moyo must come clean about his actions and performance
during the time he was leading the charge in harassing media practitioners
and the role he played in closing media freedom space in Zimbabwe.
Every time I read his articles or watch him on SABC, I find it is
difficult to accept that he is the same man who used to go to extreme
lengths in pushing the agenda of reducing free expression, especially
through the closure of private and independent media.
A particular incident always comes to mind for me when on June 28,
2001, he personally phoned me about a letter I, as regional director of Misa
then, had the day before written to the then Minister of Home Affairs, John
Nkomo, to protest the demand that Misa office bearers from Malawi and
Tanzania who had arrived in Zimbabwe for a Misa evaluation workshop held on
June 15, present themselves for accreditation within 24 hours.
Moyo vehemently insisted that this was a requirement that applied to
all foreign journalists visiting Zimbabwe, irrespective of their mission. In
fact, at the time, new regulations had been approved on June 13, two days
before the Misa officials' arrival, that clearly stipulated that such
regulations applied to those coming to Zimbabwe on "media assignments".
As pointed out in Cekay's letter, the professor now has a record of
flip-flopping making some of us wonder what to believe.
THE coverage of the alleged adultery case concerning Archbishop Pius
Ncube is an affront to ethical journalism and the principle of fair and
balanced reporting especially as the matter is before the courts and
The state media has embarked on a "parallel legal process" and the
persecution of Ncube is unacceptable.
The showing of the alleged graphic pictures and videos of moments of
intimacy smacks of an agenda beyond normal journalistic duties.
Misa condemns the pictures carried by the Chronicle. These are in bad
taste and it is an abuse of state media for political gain. It is
reminiscent of the murder case of Cain Nkala. Misa calls on the state media
to return to the fundamentals of the profession and serve the society
better. We call for the respect to privacy of the parties involved in the
Misa also notes that Ncube's voice on the social, economic and
political issues affecting Zimbabwe remains strong. The alleged scandal is
between him, the courts and his God.
Heroes Acre not for all
IT is my oppinion that the Heroes Acre is a reserved place for
exceptional contributors to economic, political and social liberation of the
state but to my surprise its turning to be otherwise.
In many circumstances anyone senior and close to the heavy weights is
now declared a national hero - some of whom the majority of Zimbabweans have
never heard of.
What I don't understand is are burials now platforms to campaign,
stress policies, or indeed a moment for Zimbabweans to express their loss?
I suggest that a separate shrine be designed for senior members in the
uniformed service and the national shrine be reserved for very senior
members known to the state. That way, people will converge to honour the
fallen heroes. Moreso we will save space.