Gono devalues dollar 94% Dumisani Muleya/Shakeman
Mugari IN a desperate bid to pluck Zimbabwe from the economic quagmire,
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono yesterday announced a massive 94%
devaluation of the battered local currency.
Offering more of the same
but in bigger doses, Gono also increased secured and unsecured lending
rates, while deploring abuse of the concessionary lending facilities that he
has put in place.
Gono devalued the local currency from $9 000 to $17
500 to the US dollar. The latest devaluation comes barely two months after a
45% adjustment, which failed to staunch a thriving parallel
The sectoral devaluation is meant to benefit diasporans,
exporters and NGOs while the auction rate is expected to be maintained at
US$1:$10 800. The auction rate is however expected to track the new rate as
has been the case since May when the last sectoral devaluation took
The devaluation is unlikely to close the gap between the
official and black market rates as the Zimbabwe dollar crashed two days ago
to $35 000 against the greenback on the informal market.
kept in place the soft lending arrangements like the $5 trillion
agricultural productivity enhancement facility under which a total of $21,4
trillion has been doled out.
The governor also broke new ground
by allowing foreign fuel buyers in Zimbabwe and locals with "free funds"
(funds originating elsewhere) to use hard currency. This was widely seen as
an admission of failure in the governor's attempts to stem the worsening
He said people would from September 1 be able to buy
fuel at "selected filling stations" at US$1 a litre.
effective dollarisation of the economy flies in the face of President Robert
Mugabe's insistence that only the Zimbabwe dollar should be used as legal
tender in all formal transactions.
Gono steered clear of his
controversial claims of an economic "turnaround" which he has been flagging
since he came into office in December 2003.
In a move which shows
that government has realised its assertions of a recovery were
unsustainable, Mugabe is expected to leave today for Beijing, China, in
search of an economic rescue package.
Zimbabwean officials were this
week making frantic efforts to secure a US$1 billion bailout facility from
South Africa to pay International Monetary Fund (IMF)
The deadline for repayment expired on Wednesday,
bringing Zimbabwe within a hair's breadth of formal expulsion from the IMF.
Gono said Zimbabwe would increase its efforts to repay but did not say where
the money would come from.
Still displaying his usual bravado,
Gono compared himself to a flowing river current which cannot be stopped by
However, the bluster did nothing to assure a restive
nation that he had solutions to the deepening crisis now characterised by
acute shortages of foreign currency, fuel, food, power, drugs, spares, and
other basic commodities.
Again, Gono failed to come up with any
credible economic model as he clung to his ineffective piecemeal measures
which have failed to inject adrenalin into the economy.
increased secured lending from 160% to 180%, while unsecured lending rates
rose to 190% from 170%.
"We are fully aware that this tight interest
rate framework will tempt some market players into an arbitrage mood with
the objective of abusing the targeted concessional special facilities
through money market investments," he said of speculative
Gono said the annual inflation rate, which surged last
month to 164% from 144% in May, would continue up until September "before
tapering off in the last quarter of the year".
Blitz leaves Mbare's poor helpless Ray Matikinye A
FILM clip shown on TV illustrating pre-Independence racism against blacks
depicts a man glorifying how Independence brought about liberty to walk
along pavements unhindered while lyrics from a rap music trio popularised by
national radio mocks occupants of backyard shacks as homeless
Although both media depict distinct eras, their core messages now
sound out of sync after government launched a slum clearance
Zimbabwe's urban centres have been cleared of backyard
traders comprising mainly poor blacks are no longer
allowed to hawk their wares on the pavements and at supermarket entrances.
Neither are the blind permitted to rattle their begging bowls along the same
Backyard lodgers, beggars and informal traders have become
undesirable "filth" that government loathes for tainting the urban
landscape. Municipal police riding pillion with the state police are
vigorously implementing by-laws prohibiting street vending as part of
government's vision of regaining the capital's former "Sunshine City"
The ban strikes a familiar chord with discrimination against
the urban poor enforced during the pre-Independence
Ten-year-old Simukai Paurosi plays catch-me-if-you-can with
three of his age peers, dodging between concrete pillars supporting the top
structure of a deserted traders' market that once deserved conversion into a
tourist attraction for its diversity of activities.
array of African artefacts and hand-made trinkets, blending perfectly with
the chatter of haggling subsistence traders, earned it plaudits from hordes
of fascinated foreign tourists before the sector slumped in 2000.
squatting in the midst of the capital's oldest working class suburb of Mbare
wind howls through the yawning Musika structure and its cold concrete floors
that show signs of flaking.
Evident grime and gloom marking the
structure though do little to discourage kids from scampering within its
Few would suspect the kids are providing sentry for
their 68-year-old grandmother selling vegetables and roasted peanuts at one
corner of the deserted market.
"The kids playing out there warn
me when they spot municipal police prowling around here giving me time to
hide my wares," says Tariro Ramushu, pointing to a nook in the market wall
where she conceals her stocks.
"The trick is not to display the whole
range of what I am selling. It gives my customers limited choice though but
they seem to understand times are tough. It is hide and seek," says the
Mbare Musika had become home to scores of informal
traders and vegetable vendors until a recent government decision to ban such
activities through its Operation Murambatsvina (Drive Out Filth). The
internationally condemned operation worsened already deteriorating living
standards among residents of the suburb.
Last week, a
representative of the Rhema Church, Reverend Ron Steele, and a member of the
South African Council of Churches (SACC) fact-finding team to Zimbabwe was
overawed by the destruction. Steele says of his visit to Mbare, what he
witnessed was "just stand after stand and it was just rubble. It was
pathetic. The flea market was deserted."
Being one of the pioneer
working class suburbs in the capital, Mbare is home to the largest
population of pensioners and the elderly among its 300 000
"The oldest identified pensioners are more than 87
years old. These are the founder fathers and mothers of the capital," says
trade unionist Gift Chimanikire.
"The average monthly pension
among most of the residents who formerly worked as housekeepers and general
hands in the surrounding industries is below $50 000," he
To augment their meagre pensions, the majority of the residents
constructed lean-tos and outbuildings to their main houses, living off
rentals earned from lodgers.
Extremely hard times forced the
elderly like Ramushu to move out from the main house into one of the three
outbuildings to enable her to fend for six orphaned
Two of her daughters and a son, she says, died in the
past three years, leaving behind six children of school-going
"I have struggled to send them to school, scrounging for money
through vending. But the police chase me off the streets where I sell saying
it is illegal," Ramushu bemoans.
"If I don't sell vegetables, the
future of my grandchildren looks bleak."
Ramushu recalls how the suburb
fostered its own genre of high-profile people who are now leaders in
government, commerce and industry. She claims their parents could most
probably have raised school fees through selling eggs, vegetables and fruit
on the streets of Mbare. "Now that they are in positions of authority they
want to deny my grandchildren similar opportunities to get educated," she
An estimated 30% of the population in the suburb comprises
jobless youths that completed high school. Due to a collapsing economy, the
high school graduates have bloated the ranks of the unemployed. Economists
estimate Zimbabwe's unemployment figures at 80%.
is a microcosm of the dilemma faced by urban residents, especially among the
elderly in other towns and cities throughout Zimbabwe. It has been
replicated as a result of the seven-week police blitz on informal
settlements and subsistence traders.
Harare Catholic priest, Father
Oskar Wermter of the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace, says: "A few
vendors are timidly emerging again on the streets with just a few vegetables
and fruits for sale, not more than they can grab and run with if the police
come round the corner. You get arrested if caught
Wermter, who runs a relief operation with other Justice and
Peace activists in the suburb, says most people who were self-employed or
depended on income from renting out rooms are ruined. He says he finds it
difficult to get into the relief centre owing to throngs of people jostling
in front of the gate.
"People are hungry and desperate wondering where
their next meal will come from. The sick, the handicapped, the elderly may
get elbowed out of the way, the bedridden may be left out
"Mbare has an unusually large elderly population,"
Wermter points out. "Leaders of our parish neighbourhood groups come with
lists of people we have not been able to assist yet and tell harrowing
stories of biting hunger."
Raft of laws flouted in clean-up Ray
Matikinye GOVERNMENT violated a raft of international conventions and
national laws when it launched its widely-criticised slum clearance
operation, a rights lobby, the Southern African Human Rights Trust (Sahrit)
Sahrit says government grossly dishonoured education, health
and housing rights entrenched in various international conventions and
disregarded its own laws when it carried out its Operation Murambatsvina.
The organisation is also disturbed by the inappropriateness of national laws
used to carry out the exercise.
According to Sahrit, the slum
clearance blitz violated the right to housing as provided for in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Charter on the Rights and
Welfare of the Child (ACRWC), the Convention on the Rights of the Child and
the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR),
particularly regarding the Rights of Women in Africa.
Nations Commission on Human Rights has addressed the question of forced
evictions in Resolution 1993/77.
Operation Murambatsvina violated the
right to health which is considered as "indispensable for the enjoyment of
This right, Sahrit points out, is provided for in
Article 14 of the ACRWC, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw), the ACHPR, the Protocol to the ACHPR
on the Rights of Women in Africa, as well as the constitution of the World
The UN Commission on Human Rights has
specifically addressed the issue of access to medication in the context of
pandemics such as HIV and Aids. The state should at all times ensure
accessibility to medication by all those in need of it.
notes that a number of people affected by the clean-up were infected and
affected by Aids and some were on programmes for ARVs.
people arbitrarily, it affected the number of social programmes that had
been in place to deal with the issues of HIV and Aids and exposed them to
danger by simply stopping access to drugs without following proper drug
The right to education is provided for in the
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), the International Covenant on
Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and Article 11 of the
In this regard the contents of the Unesco Convention against
Discrimination in Education (1960) as well as General Comment 1 of the
Committee on the Rights of the Child provide useful insight on what
constitutes an appropriate policy on the observance of the right of children
to access education.
In an analysis of the exercise, Sahrit was
concerned that the state flouted obligations it voluntarily assumed under
the United Nations Charter and various regional and international
instruments to which it is a party.
A fact that worried Sahrit most
is that Operation Murambatsvina appeared to violate provisions of Zimbabwe's
own legislation, notably Section 32 of the Regional, Town and Country
Planning Act, which provides for, among other things, notice before any
evictions can be effected.
"Suggestions by the government in
parliament that it is not violating international law are incorrect," Sahrit
"The fact that Zimbabwe is comparatively better off than many
African countries in terms of infrastructural development cannot detract
from the fact that Operation Murambatsvina has rendered many families
destitute, compromised the right to health and the right to education, and
that the operation is inconsistent with the human rights obligations
attendant on the government."
It notes that the arguments by the
state that Operation Murambatsvina is purely an internal matter
notwithstanding the human rights dimension of the exercise is
Says Sahrit: "We find both the process and the outcome of
this exercise objectionable and wish to make plain the fact that human
rights are no longer the preserve of national governments; this now being a
matter of legitimate international concern."
A body of experts
mandated to interpret and supervise the implementation of the exercise has
already declared the indiscriminate destruction of homes by a state in the
absence of simultaneous provision of alternative accommodation to be
inconsistent with the obligation to respect the right to shelter or
Sahrit also notes that a number of the properties that have
been destroyed were destroyed in circumstances where the state had given
beneficiaries assurances that it would waive its right to strictly enforce
This was the case in respect of all those housing
co-operatives that were set up with the knowledge of the state and
commissioned by ministers and senior government officials. It noted that
some of the housing co-operatives had been or were about to be properly
registered with the relevant authorities.
"It is our view that in
such cases, rather than evict the owners and destroy the structures, the
owners should have been given an opportunity to regularise the structures
and in so doing avoid a situation of homelessness," Sahrit
Sahrit blames local authorities for failing to cope with
housing demands, thereby forcing the homeless to resort to build structures
within their means. High inflation made it increasingly difficult for
low-income earners to meet construction standards. It cites Porta Farm that
has been in existence for more than 13 years and Hatcliffe Extension
settlement for more than 10 years as examples of state
"It is noteworthy that some of the homes that have been
destroyed were in fact established with the full knowledge and/or
acquiescence of the state," Sahrit says.
questions why local authorities found it legal to collect rentals for the
sub-standard structures and when it became convenient to deem them illegal
settlements fit for demolition.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum,
a coalition of NGOs in the human rights sector, recently called on
government "to bring an immediate halt to all forced evictions until such
time as a planned and humane relocation can take place; to end the forced
relocation of persons to the rural areas; to allow immediate and
unrestricted access by churches and non-governmental organisations to
affected persons so that humanitarian assistance may be given to those
affected; to allow a full and independent audit of the consequences of the
forced evictions; to investigate all allegations of unlawful deprivation of
property and to prosecute all alleged offenders; to make full restitution of
all property illegally confiscated; and to provide full compensation to all
persons whose property was illegally damaged or destroyed".
Meanwhile, renowned Nigerian poet and Nobel Laureate Wole Soyinka said
President Robert Mugabe has lost his bearings.
revolutionary, a liberation fighter has become a monster. He is behaving
like a colonialist," Soyinka said in Cape Town.
should have the courage to sanction Zimbabwe by refusing to give it loans,
Robert Mugabe's press secretary George Charamba has been accused of wreaking
havoc in the Information ministry by abusing the President's Office to
pursue personal vendettas.
Charamba, who is also permanent secretary for
the ministry now headed by veteran diplomat Tichaona Jokonya and his deputy
Bright Matonga, is accused by colleagues of causing anarchy in the new
"Charamba's fights with his colleagues and state media
employees is creating chaos in the ministry," a source said. "His working
relationship with Jokonya and Matonga is anything but cordial. There is not
even a semblance of coordination in the ministry. For example, during the
recent appointment of two Zimpapers editors for the Chronicle and Manica
Post, there was no consultation. "
Sources said Charamba has
clashed with colleagues and ministers over policy issues, particularly
regarding the running of the state media.
The sources said Charamba
was also fighting with Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) workers over a
report compiled by Webster Shamu's Policy Implementation
Charamba last month clashed with ZBH head of national
productions, Douglas Justice Dhliwayo, they said, over a number of issues,
including the productions of jingles, videos, and footage to promote Zanu PF
policies and programmes in the run-up to the March general
The sources said Charamba accused Dhliwayo of "selling him
out" to Shamu, Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, Attorney-General Sobusa
Gula-Ndebele and Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira and his deputy
spokesman Ephraim Masawi to solicit favours from them and sabotage his
chances of being appointed a minister in April.
The sources said
Charamba telephoned Dhliwayo over the issue and "subjected him to a
one-hour-long tirade". It is said Dhliwayo was not amused and reacted
angrily with an eight-page letter accusing Charamba of being "malicious" and
abusing the President's Office to pursue personal vendettas.
also accused Charamba of "embarrassing immaturity" and told him: "Please be
the gentleman you sometimes pretend to be."
The sources said Dhliwayo
accused Charamba of launching unwarranted attacks and insults against senior
government officials he described "as mere politicians who can't do anything
The sources said Dhliwayo then asked Charamba why he was
angry that he was not appointed minister if he thought being a minister was
The sources said affected ministers were angry about
Charamba's behaviour and were considering bringing the issue to Mugabe's
The sources said the report that caused the infighting
focused on the ZBH, Zimpapers, New Ziana, and Kingstons and concludes "all
is not well" in the state media.
It says the structure of ZBH is
"top-heavy and thus too many chefs and a few Indians". It also says ZBH is
the old ZBC in a "fragmented form".
The report notes the
"fragmentation of ZBC" and decentralisation have proved to be a "financial
disaster" because a number of the ZBH entities, especially Power FM, now a
"24-hour music station", are no longer making money.
complains about the political hiring and firing of staff in the state media,
saying inexperienced opportunists had been thrust into senior posts with
disastrous consequences in some cases.
It says while local content in
the state electronic media programming is welcome, "the recent move by Power
FM to effect 100% local content is illegal and unwise".
say the report points out ZBH's news and current affairs programmes by
Newsnet "is a cause for concern and has deteriorated".
desks are being run by inexperienced reporters who were thrown in the deep
end after an exodus of senior journalists due to forced resignations and
poor working conditions," the report notes.
It also expressed concern
about the payment of part-time news readers who get $40 000 a news bulletin.
Up until recently news readers were paid $14 000 per
"Allegations of sexual harassment, sexual favours, and
factions are rife at ZBH, especially Newsnet. The Newsnet newsroom has no
telephones and morale is at its lowest ebb. This is unacceptable," the
Efforts to get comment from Charamba were unsuccessful.
- Staff Writer.
ZANU PF has settled for little-known Dickson Abu-Basuthu as its candidate
for the forthcoming mayoral election for Bulawayo.
The selection of
Abu-Basuthu comes barely two days before the nomination court sits to accept
nominations for the polls scheduled for the middle of August.
selection of Basuthu, who is an unknown quantity in Zanu PF's politics of
patronage, comes against a background of weeks of a thorough search that
prompted the Zanu PF national commissar Elliot Manyika to read the riot act
to the party's provincial leadership for it to come up with a candidate by
the end of last week.
The party failed to come up with a
candidate over the weekend and failed to announce the candidate on Monday
and Tuesday as it emerged that party cadres were not coming forward to
contest the mayorship.
Abu-Basuthu will battle it out with the
opposition MDC's Japhet Ndabeni Ncube who is the incumbent mayor for the
city's top job.
Ncube beat Zanu PF's George Mlilo for the executive
mayoral post in the previous poll and is set to retain his position against
the little known Basuthu.
Bulawayo is an MDC stronghold and the
party swept all the seats on offer in the last parliamentary and council
elections. - Staff Writer.
THE Bulawayo city council has
increased tariffs for high and low density suburbs by 50%, bringing the
total percentage increases for 2005 to 200%, the Zimbabwe Independent has
However, the city mayor Japhet Ndabeni Ncube said the increment
was just "a hold on budget for survival".
Ncube also said the
Bulawayo council would try to match services with the tariff
"The increments are just peanuts," said Ncube. "It is a
hold - on budget for survival. We will continue to try and balance our
services so as to provide better services."
Association (Bura) chairman Winos Dube said his association had accepted the
tariff increases in the hope that the local authority would improve service
He said the association was content with the increment
since initially the city council wanted to increase tariffs by a total of
250% for the year.
"We expect an improvement in services, we expect
to see a change," said Dube. "Initially the city council was supposed to
have raised tariffs by 250% for the year. An increase of 200% is OK because
it is below what they had proposed earlier."
"I am sure people
will have problems as they are always overstretched but they will have to
take it as there is no other way."
The council is still owed over
$100 billion by government and residents. - Staff Writer.
Inflation seen galloping to 400% Shakeman
Mugari DESPITE RBZ governor Gideon Gono's insistence that inflation will end
the year at 80%, analysts expect it to gallop to 400% by December as
government continues its wasteful spending.
Gono yesterday put on a
brave face, maintaining that his targets on inflation were still
Presenting his monetary review statement, Gono said
inflation would continue rising until September when it would start
"The unfavourable trend is, however, expected to reverse
during the last quarter of the year, with annual inflation still targeted to
recede to around 80% by December 2005," said Gono.
He did not
give the reasons for his optimism or indicate the key factors that would
suppress inflation after September. Analysts however say judging by the
situation on the ground, Gono's target of a two-digit inflation by December
had virtually collapsed because of government's profligacy.
fuel hikes and a drastic increase in prices of basic commodities would stoke
up inflationary pressures, analysts have warned.
The analysts said
inflation was likely to hurtle to more than 400% by December. Prices of
basic goods have increased by over 80% in the past month. The analysts say
there will be further hikes as manufacturers factor in fuel charges into
They say inflation, reported to be around 164,4% last
month, could continue rising to December and probably spill into next
January unless government tames its spending.
Government has been
funding its unbudgeted expenditure and domestic debt through printing more
money -- a practice that is highly inflationary and erodes national wealth.
Domestic debt last week hurtled to about $12 trillion, almost half of this
year's national budget.
Fears of a further inflationary surge have
also been triggered by information that the Finance ministry is working on a
$12 trillion supplementary budget due early next month. Economist Daniel
Ndlela said inflationary pressures could throw Gono's plans for a
double-digit inflation figure into disarray.
certainly rise sharply in the coming few months. Unlike in the past, this
time the rise is likely to be sharp," Ndlela said.
He said although
fuel prices were a factor, government's unbudgeted expenditure was the major
"The printing of money is the biggest contributor
to inflation. The expenditure
is being supported by money
Gono said government credit has accounted for 343% total
money growth through grain imports and funds for the March parliamentary
"They have had to run the printers again and again to
finance their expenditure and debt and that is highly inflationary," Ndlela
Economist John Robertson said the central bank had also fuelled
inflation through cheap funds doled out under the Productive Sector Facility
(PSF). Since his appointment 21 months ago, Gono has splashed a record $21,4
trillion on different sectors, ostensibly to revive the
"Although fuel and prices of commodities will contribute to
the inflation, the government is currently the biggest culprit," Robertson
said. "Subsidised funding by the RBZ has also been inflationary. The net
effect is more company closures as they struggle with high wages. It means
more suffering for the people," he said.
Since last July Gono has
also given out a massive $21 trillion, most of which has not been repaid or
was misused by beneficiaries. The central bank was recently forced to
release $3 trillion to finance the rebuilding exercise following
government's controversial Operation Murambatsvina which left thousands
Unbudgeted expenditure has pumped up inflation and the
effects will continue to be felt unless it is supported by production. An
IMF mission which visited Zimbabwe last month noted that the subsidised
funding was inflationary.
AirZim delays service check check Shakeman
Mugari PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's trip to China this week faced complications
because of Air Zimbabwe's depleted fleet and a widening fuel
Sources say one of Air Zimbabwe's two Boeing 767 planes, which
Mugabe normally uses on his international trips, should have been grounded
this week because it is due for a service.
Air Zimbabwe chief
executive Tendayi Mahachi this week travelled to Thailand seeking to lease a
substitute plane for the one due for service.
Air Zimbabwe has two Boeing
767 long-haul planes which ply the Harare/London, Harare/Dubai and
In case Mahachi fails to secure a plane to
lease, Air Zimbabwe has agreed with the Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe
to extend flying hours for the Boeing which is due for
This means the plane should fly to either London or China
Mugabe, sources say, is likely to use the scheduled
flight to China departing at 6:30 this evening. The London flight is
scheduled for 10:10pm.
Mugabe prefers to use the Air Zimbabwe planes
because their business class can be re-configured to suit his needs. He
cannot do that with other commercial flights.
If the plane is not
allowed to fly extra hours when it is due for service, Air Zimbabwe would be
forced to pull one 767 from the London route for the presidential trip or
alternatively the president could travel on scheduled flights, probably via
The airline has also been hit by the current fuel
crisis which forced it to delay scheduled flights to London on three
The national carrier failed to fly to London on
Sunday morning. The plane only took off on Monday.
was also forced to reschedule its flight to Dubai, set for Monday evening at
The plane only took off on Tuesday. The flight to London on
Wednesday morning was also delayed. The trip to Bulawayo had to be cancelled
because of fuel problems.
The airline told stranded passengers
that the delays had been caused by fuel shortages.
senior public relations manager David Mwenga said the delays on Sunday and
Monday had been caused by "operational and technical
He said delays on the London schedule on Wednesday had
been caused by the fuel shortages.
"The delays on Sunday and
Monday were as a result of operational and technical problems but the delays
on Wednesday were as a result of the fuel shortages," said
Sources said Air Zimbabwe was failing to get foreign currency
to acquire essential spare parts to service its fleet of planes, which has
depleted from 15 at Independence to six.
MIC scared of 'robust reportage', ANZ boss claims Ray
Matikinye THE Media and Information Commission (MIC) is refusing to give
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe an operating licence for fear of its
robust reporting on government's policy failures, Sam Sipepa Nkomo, ANZ CEO,
said on Wednesday.
"I think they are scared of the Daily News,"
Sipepa told journalists at a press briefing in the capital.
can imagine the extensive coverage an independent daily paper can give its
readers in the wake of Operation Murambatsvina and how government could be
kept on its toes trying to do damage control. That I think is what the
authorities are scared of."
Nkomo said he had earlier got it on
good account that the MIC would grant ANZ, the publishers of the banned
Daily News and Daily News on Sunday, a licence on July 16. But the MIC
developed cold feet during the intervening period.
The ANZ only
got official confirmation of the MIC's decision at 10am on Tuesday after the
state-controlled Herald and Chronicle newspapers had published
Nkomo said the ANZ would appeal to the Administrative Court but
was pessimistic about the outcome. He suspects that is what the MIC wanted
when they denied the ANZ the licence on the sole ground that the company had
committed infractions on the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
"I assume that when the Administrative Court grants
us relief the MIC will appeal to the Supreme Court to forestall our attempts
to get a licence," Sipepa said.
Tuesday's decision by the Media
and Information Commission has drawn criticism and condemnation from media
The New-York based Committee to Protect Journalists
(CPJ) said the MIC hearings were a farce designed to disguise the
government's campaign to "silence critical media and to keep the Daily News
in a never-ending, bureaucratic Catch-22".
clearly had no intention of allowing either of these independent newspapers
to reopen," CPJ executive director, Ann Cooper, said.
condemned the refusal to grant ANZ an operating licence saying it was "the
latest onslaught against media freedom and freedom of expression".
NGOs present damning blitz report to donors Augustine
Mukaro/ Grace Kombora NON-GOVERNMENTAL organisations are set to present a
damning report on the impact of Operation Murambatsvina to a donors'
round-table today, a move that could shape the international community's
response to Zimbabwe's appeal for money to finance the reconstruction
United Nations special envoy on Human Settlement Issues in
Zimbabwe, Anna Kajimulo Tibaijuka, presented her findings on the clean-up
campaign to the UN secretary-general Kofi Annan and Zimbabwe ambassador to
the US Boniface Chidyausiku on Wednesday. The report is expected to be made
public either today or Monday.
Annan in a statement this week
said he was becoming "increasingly concerned" about housing evictions and
demolitions in Zimbabwe. Analysts have said Annan's statement set the tone
for the main report which is expected to be a major indictment of the
This comes as the UNDP office in Harare this week
announced that it had started to co-ordinate humanitarian efforts to help
those affected by the tsunami. It has already set aside US$100 000. The UNDP
office also said it would continue to engage the government on the
humanitarian implications of the clean-up campaign to "ensure that the
government adheres to its international obligations as enshrined in the
The UNDP said a UN Habitat programme officer in
Harare would be appointed soon. The post would be filled by a
"The post needs someone who is familiar with this
country, so a Zimbabwean national will be suitable for the post," the UNDP
Excerpts of a survey carried out by ActionAid
International-Southern Africa Partnership Programme in collaboration with
the Combined Harare Residents Association show that the widely condemned
operation led to the destruction of urban-poor dwellings, livelihoods,
vending stalls and the confiscation of goods and property of informal
traders worth millions of dollars.
"It is estimated that over 55 000
households in 52 sites across the country (were destroyed) and between 250
000-500 000 people have been rendered homeless or forced to migrate to the
rural areas," the report says.
"Furthermore, more than 30 000 people were
arrested and fined in the process."
The survey, which was
conducted in 26 of Harare's 45 wards, reaching 14 137 homesteads, shows that
the worst affected victims were the traditionally vulnerable groups.
Traditionally vulnerable groups include households hosting orphans and the
chronically ill, as well as female, elderly and child-headed
"Ninety-seven percent of the visited homesteads in the 26
wards were affected by the operation in varying proportions and different
ways. Effects of the operation included loss of accommodation, livelihoods
resulting in children dropping out from school," the report
The report also said 73% of urban dwellers were engaged in
informal trading prior to the clean-up, implying that they were adversely
"The primary source of the livelihoods that was disrupted
by the operation
include tuckshops, flea markets, fruit and vegetable
vending, offering accommodation, cross border traders and other small
traders in which the traditionally vulnerable groups were mainly involved,"
the report says.
'Economic crisis takes country back 50 years' Ray
Matikinye ZIMBWABWE'S economic crisis has deepened to levels that have set
the country back more than 50 years when the average person had an average
income of $760 a year, a report by the Centre for Global Development says.
The report says the speed of this income decline is unusual outside a war
situation. The income losses have been greater than those experienced during
recent conflicts in the Ivory Coast, Democratic Republic of Congo, and
Researchers Michael Clemens and Todd Moss say the
economy has contracted in real terms for the past five years and the local
currency has lost 99% of its value forcing an estimated 20% of the
population to flee the country.
Interpolating data from the World
Bank and United Nations forecasts of infant mortality rates, the report says
the impact of Zimbabwe's current economic crisis on child health has the
potential to be at least half as bad as that of Aids within the next five
The report rebuts assertions by the Zimbabwe government that
economic difficulties are a result of the drought and economic sabotage by
Western countries saying the frequent claims of external plots to
destabilise Zimbabwe are "bouts of official schizophrenia" and signs of
growing paranoia among the leadership. They cannot be a credible explanation
of the crisis.
The report recognises that although the suspension of
aid from donors has a part to play, its impact is less compared to lost
revenue owing to lower revenues because of the crisis.
shows that the loss of resources to government from economic decline is
vastly larger than resources withdrawn by donors.
foreign aid to Zimbabwe for the health sector declined by US$43 million
($752 billion) between 1994 and 2003, we can then ask how much more domestic
money for health the government could have if economic production had not
collapsed. We find that domestic resources for health could be almost twice
as large at US$154 million (about $2,7 trillion) per year if GDP had not
collapsed," the researchers say.
Economist Craig Richardson, using
rainfall data from Zimbabwe's own Department of Meteorology, shows that the
tight historical relationship between GDP growth rates and rainfall cycles
over two decades does not hold.
"Since 1948 there has never been a
two-year period in which an important drop in rainfall in Zimbabwe's maize
producing region was not associated with a corresponding drop in Zambia and
Richardson says despite this pattern, Zimbabwe's decline in
maize production has been dramatically greater than its neighbours over the
past five years.
The report blames misrule, the land seizures and
absurd macroeconomic management for Zimbabwe's current economic woes. It
says government has run a huge budget deficit estimated at 22% of GDP and
printed more money to cover the gap.
Manufacturing has shrunk by
51% since 1997 and inflation peaked at 620%, the highest in the world, in
Govt struggles with housing deadline Loughty
Dube GOVERNMENT'S plans to construct thousands of houses countrywide for
families displaced by Operation Murambatsvina by the end of August look dim
as it emerged that not even a single house has been completed in Bulawayo
and other cities.
The government this month told United Nations
secretary-general Kofi Annan's special envoy Anna Tibaijuka that it would by
the end of August construct 1002 houses in Bulawayo
However, three weeks down the line, not a single house has
been constructed under the Operation Garikai/Hlalani Huhle in
In Bulawayo's Cowdray Park suburb, the site of the
reconstruction pro-gramme, only 560 stands have so far been
The chairman of the Bulawayo reconstruction committee
Lieutenant-Colonel Brave Matavire told Tibaijuka that 110 houses would be
constructed every 10 days until the completion of the exercise on August 31.
If the government manages to accomplish this feat, it will only construct
400 units come deadline.
Two weeks down the line there is no
single house that is ready for occupation as the deadline set by the
Efforts to contact Matavire on progress made so
far proved fruitless by the time of going to press.
claims to have set aside a whopping $3 trillion for the reconstruction
exercise. However, civic groups have dismissed the figure as a government
ruse to hoodwink the international community into believing that something
is being done.
A visit to the Cowdray Park site showed that
construction was only at slab level while on some stands foundations were
still being laid.
The UN envoy in her consultations with government
officials during her visit to Bulawayo also expressed concern about the
timeframe that government had set for itself.
A source in the
Local Government ministry told the Zimbabwe Independent that it was not
feasible for government to complete the construction of the houses by August
"The government has not engaged enough builders and
artisans to undertake the project, while tendering for the supply of
building materials has not yet been completed," said the
Other sources in Victoria Falls and in Gwanda also said no
houses had been completed so far. The government has created two transit
camps in Bulawayo and in Harare to hold thousands of people displaced by the
Flawed policies bleed fuel pumps dry Vincent
FUEL accounts for 10% of Zimbabwe's foreign currency requirements.
Because of its centrality in the economy and the huge foreign currency
allocation for imports, it is important for government to implement policies
that ensure fuel adds real value to the economy.
There is a direct
corelation between fuel usage and economic activity in the country. The
brief period of growth between 1996 and 1999 witnessed a rapid rise in fuel
consumption due to the expansion of agriculture and industry.
example, in 1999 annual diesel consumption was 1,05 million tonnes compared
to 450 000 tonnes in 2000. The figure has continued to fall.
this year is expected to be less that 250 000 tonnes. The period of high
consumption was when the country was producing enough foreign currency to
But as foreign currency started to dry up in sympathy with a
failing economy weighed down by damaging agrarian policies, there was no
deliberate policy to realign fuel policy to new economic fundamentals. It
remained business as usual, with government suppressing price increases even
if it meant importing huge volumes and selling the fuel at a
There is talk of realignment and new policies today but the damage
that has been inflicted on industry is debilitating.
Zimbabwe is in
the throes of its worst fuel crisis in living memory with no solution in
site. The government and the central bank have been quick to attribute the
shortages to the foreign currency crunch and to a lesser extent to sanctions
imposed by the West. It is without doubt that Zimbabwe as a landlocked
country needs to dedicate huge resources to import fuel.
But the current
problems which mirror the state of the economy are also a culmination of
poor energy strategies since the formation of the National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe (Noczim) in 1983 - taking over from the Zimbabwe Oil Procurement
Consortium which was blamed for the shortages of the early
Government's appetite to control the sector gave birth to
Noczim and with it a raft of defective policies which have contributed
immensely to the current crisis in the oil sector.
Zimbabwe has some
of the best fuel-handling and storage infrastructure in the region but has
arguably the most incoherent policies on fuel procurement. The country has
enough facilities to store reserves amounting to over a year's supply of
The storage capacity at the Mabvuku plant commissioned in 1996 is
460 million litres. There is huge storage capacity at Birmingham Road in
Harare, in Gweru and Bulawayo.
The International Energy Agency says a
strategic crude oil stockpile level equivalent to 90 days' import
requirements is appropriate for its member countries. In Kenya, for example,
it is mandatory under an act of parliament to keep reserves of over 30
There has not been a deliberate policy by the government to ensure
that the country builds reserves in times of plenty. In fact, between 1986
and 1997 government charged a levy on the pump price on the understanding
that the money would be used to purchase fuel reserves. This never happened
as the levy, like a myriad taxes collected by government, was diverted
In this case it was used to service the expanding Noczim debt
- a direct product of a pricing structure which had no relationship to
off-shore prices, exchange rate movements and inflation. The ever-increasing
Noczim debt and viability problems in the sector brought pressure to bear on
government to effect a pricing structure that responded to movements on the
oil prices on the international market, the weakening of the local currency
The MoU between the government and industry mooted in
the 1990s was never implemented. The issues of raising the prices of fuel
became a cumbersome bureaucratic mangle in which recommendations from
industry were taken to Noczim, which took them to the relevant minister. The
minister would then take the issue to cabinet where approval was not
automatic. Price adjustments eventually announced in most instances lagged
behind the volatile situation in the economy and on international
The thinking of government has been that availing cheap fuel to
industry is a form of subsidy which would enable them to produce cheaper
goods and sharpen their competitive edge on the international market.
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono in May tried to bolster this theory in
defence of the fuel subsidy.
"A comparative analysis of Zimbabwe's
fuel prices, and other energy costs, as well as relative cost of borrowing
in relation to inflation, clearly indicate that as a country, we are highly
subsidising our producers to levels where they should produce
competitively," he said.
Exporters would be the last ones to agree that
they can produce competitively in this environment. The net effect of this
was apparent in the size of the Noczim debt. Then a new dimension provided
more weight to the debt.
As foreign currency reserves continued to
dwindle, the government entered a world of fantasy where it was buying
foreign currency on the black market to import fuel but used the official
rate parity for the pump price. It was not sound policy that the government
was a player on the black market. This was poor economics which increased
Noczim's foreign and local debt.
The parastatal's foreign debt currently
stands at about US$80 million and is growing. The local debt is also
growing. Attempts to counter this by factoring Noczim amortisation levies
and charges into pump prices have not helped the situation either.
sector has remained unviable for local and foreign investors. The flirtation
with the idea of indigenising the sector just before the turn of the
millennium created anarchy which the government had not
Government issued scores of licences to new operators, most
of whom had no capacity or interest in running fuel dealerships. These
became citadels of corruption in which scarce foreign currency went to
Industry players say the government has not learnt anything from
its past mistakes. The pump price increases announced earlier in the month
have no bearing on availability of the product.
In an environment
where there is no foreign currency, direct foreign imports are the answer.
The government has given the green light for this to happen but it will not
relent on the pricing structure.
Most individual importers are without
doubt sourcing foreign currency on the informal foreign currency market.
They are expected to sell their products at gazetted prices of about $10 000
a litre. They will not oblige, hence the varied black market prices of the
commodity ranging from $30 000 to $100 000 a litre.
If the country
were to receive a huge cash injection now, shortages would disappear but
viability in the sector would not be guaranteed and the Noczim debt would
continue to balloon.
The government has said it will soon table in
parliament a Petroleum Bill. There is also fresh talk of deregulation and
opening up the sector. All this could be an exercise in futility if proposed
measures fail to address the issue of pricing.
About time Zim took a reality check By Tagwireyi W
Bango ZIMBABWEANS crave for an interruption to a five-year chorus of official
monologues and primeval attacks on MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and his
party, depicting them as neo-imperial, feudal vassals of Europe and
Day in, day out, on radio and on television and in state
newspapers, a generation of mediocre citizens is being fostered - totally
uncritical of the goings-on in their country, as they are fed with a routine
diet of hate material designed to turn minds dry and
Zanu PF made its point, way back in 1999. The people
listened and made informed choices. The ruling party dismissed Tsvangirai
and his party as a joke. But, after the 2000 referendum and the rejection of
the Zanu PF message, the ruling party upped the tempo, with a result that
needs no further debate today.
Since then, the communication
pattern between Zanu PF and the MDC has left many without a holistic view of
the real situation on the ground. Zanu PF has charged the MDC with
treachery, supping with the devil and outright betrayal. The MDC refused to
listen. Instead, the party argued that it is a well-grounded, civil
society-driven post-liberation formation keen to extend the ideals of the
Zanu PF thought the MDC was failing to hear
their message. The party further raised its voice with direct action of
violence and farm invasions, turning a blind eye to the rule of law. The
party imposed severe controls on the democratic space and usurped the
functions of the state.
In response, the MDC concluded that Zanu PF
must be taught a lesson to listen. The party repeated its position,
alienating what it saw as a stubborn and narrow-minded political elite which
can only be punished into submission. So, for half a decade, the echo of
messages yo-yoed - in a dialogue of non-listeners.
In April 2002,
the two agreed on a national agenda to loosen the standoff. But, a
subsequent legal challenge of the March presidential election result touched
a raw nerve. The discussions collapsed.
The reasons were purely
personal, devoid of any bedrock national concerns. Negotiations are unlikely
to make progress if one side fears losing face, exaggerates its insecurity
and believes the result could lead to lack of control.
underplays Zanu PF reservations and fears about losing power; Zanu PF sees
the MDC as an inexperienced spoiler seeking to muddy the water and to
humiliate the nationalists for their failure to fulfill certain post-war
expectations. The term "born free", is used to denigrate those who question
the causes of urban blight, unemployment and food
Constant references to race, colonialism and Zanu PF's
overstated capacities to punish dissenters show that the party's interests
could be part of the problem. The party is hard on the people and soft on
In April 2002, an opportunity was lost to build bridges and
to walk through the barriers of communication. The occasion could have
opened up a platform for both parties to explore and figure out their
interests, discuss options, set a common Zimbabwean political standard and
to enable an inter-generation of politicians to sample out a range of
political alternatives for our nation.
Listening is a normal
trait. Like smiling, listening, as they say, is a harmless concession any
party in a dispute can make. Given our experience, we seem to be miles away
from this basic human gift.
When Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo
went public last week with the news that President Robert Mugabe had agreed
to meet Tsvangirai to hear each other out, the guns came out blazing as if
Tsvangirai was a hungry cannibal ready to gulp down modern Zimbabwe's
founding father at first sight.
Meeting Tsvangirai, or his deputy
Gibson Sibanda as was the case recently, does not always result in any
political agreement. Even if talks were to resume, a disagreement was still
possible - leaving the two organisations with an option to revert to their
original positions if they still believe that is the best way
But Mugabe went ballistic, repeating the same old hymn of
hate about sell-outs, Tony Blair and puppets. The message is clear.
Publicly, Mugabe maintains that he has an attractive walk-away alternative,
cares less about the political emergency around him.
public rallies seemingly organised as a show of public approval and
political clout, Mugabe made no reference to Obasanjo, preferring instead to
heap praises on Thabo Mbeki of South Africa as his most reasonable and
As the chairman of the African Union and as Africa's
current chief spokesperson at the moment, Obasanjo is proceeding with his
mission. He has already tasked former Mozambican president Joachim Chissano
to visit Harare and to get on with the job, an assignment Chissano has
already accepted and confirmed.
In sincerity, Obasanjo may have
been unaware that he was trying to reason with an absent-minded colleague
who either misconstrued the content of the conversation or was up against a
huge barrier of emotion, mistrust and anger.
Obasanjo could have
been concerned about Zimbabwe's growing pariah status, in particular
Harare's potential harm to attempts at constructive engagement between Sadc
and some influential regional trading blocks.
But Mugabe remains
caked in a denial mode, seemingly oblivious of any problem and was unwilling
to listen. Attempts at international intervention show that Mugabe's claims
to victory in the March parliamentary election have, once again, failed to
hold sway in Zimbabwe, Africa and even beyond.
For Mbeki, the West's
pointman and a vital external link to Zimbabwe, Mugabe's positive utterances
on Pretoria's love affair with Harare made interesting reading. As Zanu PF
and government officials took potshots at suggestions of dialogue with the
MDC, a South African official delegation was in Harare.
reports noted that the delegation, in a series of meetings with their
counterparts in the Finance ministry and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe,
struck a few deals to bail out our ailing economy with a US$1 billion
largesse. Is this Mugabe's walk-away alternative to a negotiated
Unless a grand plan is on the table, Pretoria is yet to
assume the position of an international donor. Given the domestic pressures
on Mbeki, South Africa lacks the capacity to donate the proverbial Chinese
dish of fish to Harare, each time Zanu PF asks for support. Neither can the
Flirtations with China to block a possible Security Council
resolution arising from debates raised by Operation Murambatsvina and other
symptoms of our crisis of governance are now common fare and are bound to
To Tsvangirai, Mugabe's reaction was old music. He recognises
Mugabe's tactic and uses that knowledge as a way of neutralising it.
Tsvangirai lives with unlimited state demonisation, understands the trick
and usually ignores the deception. He argues that there must be a
distinction between role and self; accepts that the noise is not directed at
him personally. The vitriol, you should have heard Mugabe address a rally in
Victoria Falls recently, is aimed at the people Tsvangirai represents as a
symbol of democratic resistance.
The people without food and jobs
have since turned their backs on the Zanu PF system - hence the on-going
internal hemorrhage and self-denial.
The primary challenge facing
both the Zanu PF and the MDC is to contain the urge to control each other's
behaviour. They must control their own first, while keeping their eyes on
the goal. Identify shared interests, base your arguments and agreements on
Agreements are possible and normal, even if they are
based on different interests. Differences in ideology, beliefs and
principles for a new Zimbabwe and a new beginning can form a sustainable
basis for a comprehensive political deal that puts the people at the
forefront of our focus.
Without unnecessary political
embarrassment and humiliation, without debilitating losses and without
losers, Zimbabweans can easily reclaim their position in the family of
nations. With a determined political will, nothing stands in the
Endless foot-dragging, self-saving stone walls, abusive
language, media attacks and tired tricks have failed to provide a substitute
for a burning desire of most Zimbabweans to search for a breakthrough to our
The issues before us are real. Those in
authority seem to have become hostages of their past, shouldering a baggage
so laden with hate and fury that they react to minor criticism, can't stand
rejection and are bent on causing a scene at the instant.
to get even or to mash those with a divergent view always draws us back.
What happened in March is a case in point. The same fate awaits us if Zanu
PF bulldozes its Senate proposal without the requisite national
Conversely, as a young party, the MDC must stop
assisting Zanu PF to continue to fail the nation. There is life beyond the
chaos. Aluta continua may have been a superb mobilisation tool, a meaningful
war cry. But today, peace is possible.
*Tagwireyi W Bango is the
spokesperson of the president of the Movement for Democratic
Moyo's hypocrisy, opportunism revolting By Chido
Makunike JONATHAN Moyo's efforts to rehabilitate and re-invent himself since
finding his tenure as President Robert Mugabe's vicious propagandist
untenable just a few months ago are fascinating for the astonishing levels
of cynicism towards the political process the man displays.
his article, "Why Mugabe should go now", (Zimbabwe Independent, July 15), I
found his arguments for why President Mugabe needs to "go now" for the great
harm he is doing to the national interest flawless.
Moyo said nothing
really new. But what made his article such fascinating reading was the fact
that it was written by a man who not so long ago was Mugabe's staunchest
defender. His attempt at re-incarnating himself as a leading light of the
anti-Mugabe movement is as bewildering as his recruitment as Mugabe's chief
spokesman after years of being his staunchest critic.
if, for a man like this, the political process is fundamentally about values
and how a society is structured and run for the well-being of its citizens,
or if it is merely a cynical game in which the main players need not adhere
to any standard of consistency at all.
Does Moyo stand for anything,
or is he the contemptible political harlot he would appear to be; excellent
at making clever arguments from any angle, but when given the opportunity to
live his expressed ideas, able to flop from one position to a diametrically
opposed one with no qualms whatsoever?
No one expects that
politicians will be any less fallible than the rest of us.
for better political organisation in Zimbabwe is not about expecting to be
led by saints, but about entrenching a system of running our affairs in
which the checks and balances that are necessary to reduce the worst aspects
of human nature are respected.
But Moyo's utter lack of even the
minimum standards of consistency in one's general position on the important
issues of how this country should be governed is appalling. The word
"hypocrite" does not come anywhere near to doing justice to Moyo's
He brilliantly articulates some of the ways
in which Mugabe is not just a bungling disaster as president, but threatens
the long-term sovereignty of Zimbabwe. But up until he fell out with him
just a few months ago, Moyo was ferocious in the service of
Moyo is second only to Mugabe himself in so poisoning the
political atmosphere with hate speech, threats and insults that led to the
"mutually assured demonisation" (Mad) that he quips characterises relations
between Zanu PF and the MDC today.
It was Moyo who revelled in
hurling invective on behalf of Mugabe at Zimbabweans who simply dared to
differ with their government about how the country is being run. Moyo
contributed significantly to the state of affairs in which Zimbabweans
exercising that simple and most fundamental of democratic rights were
labelled enemies of the state working for foreign powers.
today Mugabe's continued tenure in office is "such an excessive burden.a
fatal danger to the public interest.that it leaves the nation's survival at
great risk," why did he work so hard to defend him for five
The slide that Zimbabwe is on has been taking place for many
years, long before Moyo flip-flopped into Mugabe's pocket. Is this
realisation genuine or is it only because he fell from grace with Mugabe as
suddenly as he had come from opposition ranks to become his right hand
Is there an essential, real, unshakeable Moyo, and will he
please stand up? Or is there behind the clever façade, a prostitute who will
sell his services to the highest bidder? Does he have any convictions or
does he amazingly twist with the wind, oblivious of how much of a buffoon he
appears for being unable to make a stand and stick by it?
evidence suggests that Mugabe found an inducement with which to buy the then
critical Moyo and when he no longer found him useful to his interests, threw
him aside, giving Moyo little option but to resign to try to salvage his
His bitterness at Mugabe he sucked up to so slavishly for
years until a few months ago, probably has more to do with the sting of
humiliation he feels at being cast aside so casually after being such a
prominent, willing lap dog than at any concern for the parlous state of the
Moyo was happy to belong to the mere "status club" that he
says Mugabe's cabinet has become, no one any longer expecting any dynamism
or solutions from them. Moyo was as much an "instrument of patronage" as any
of his present ministers and others close to him were.
that Mugabe "is without compassion" has been obvious from the days when
thousands of Zimbabweans, including Moyo's father, if Moyo is to be
believed, were wantonly massacred in southern Zimbabwe by state troops. Yet
he would appear to only be realising all this now that his official house,
cellphone, car and driver have been snatched away from him. What rank
hypocrisy and opportunism!
With not the slightest sense of shame,
which he shows no sign of possessing anyway, one of the "qualities" that
made him such a useful Mugabe lackey, he resorts to the media that he worked
so hard to shut down and restrict during his time at Mugabe's
The state media that he so dominated and reshaped in his own
intolerant image is closed off to him, so in his awkward efforts
to repair his tattered credibility, he simply goes to that still vibrant
media that he worked so hard to kill!
He is now again the
champion of arguments against Mugabe's ruin of this country that he
ridiculed and tried to stifle only months ago. If Moyo had had his way
during the years that his whole reason for existence was to please Mugabe
and throw his weight around as rabid chief propagandist, this paper
(Zimbabwe Independent) would not exist today.
Moyo now eloquently
recites all the crises that beset this country, but until Mugabe cast him
aside he was at the forefront of "there really is no problem in
Moyo's arguments about the need for Mugabe to go pronto
are perfectly valid and well-made. But they are made by the one person in
Zimbabwe with the least moral authority to be making them. If Mugabe is an
example of the kind of disastrous politician we cannot afford to have in
Africa, given all the problems we face, Moyo is not any less so. Moyo is a
political mercenary of no apparent convictions. He will say and do whatever
he feels benefits him at a particular time, the concept of "principle" being
as alien to him as it has become to his erstwhile mentor -
The reasons why Moyo is such an object of public fascination
are many and obvious. But that fascination at the more venal characters
among us can only help us to move out of the rut we are in to the extent
that it shows us how we allowed a class of completely amoral individuals to
attain power and push us around.
While we agree Zimbabwe has been
brought disgracefully low before the world under Mugabe, Moyo deserves a
disproportionate part of the individual blame for his enthusiastic efforts
to help him do so.
Public watches in awe as vultures hover By Rejoice
Ngwenya THE timeless adage repeated with nauseating frequency at fuel queues
is that Zimbabwe has gone to the dogs, but it now counts for
Dogs do not eat anything that squirms with worms and is laced
with organic poisons. In essence, even stray dogs summon a residual
percentage of instinctive decency, twitching their nostrils in disgust every
time they encounter remains of a product called Zimbabwe, forsaken and
condemned to political dumping sites.
Dogs are not called man's
best friend for nothing; they even share with us experiential testimony of
salmonella poisoning. Whatever man has labelled "poison", dogs do not
Zimbabwe has that label because when she is not emitting a
dog-defying pungent smell by day in the Herald, it produces dog-repelling
toxic fluorescent fumes by night on ZBC, as warning to other stray dogs.
There is only one species that might explore Zimbabwe as a death-defying
culinary pleasure - vultures - but not for long.
acquaintance once asked me on a recent trip to Johannesburg: "How deep can
I looked at him and smiled wryly. You see, engineers
of the Titanic, like our cabinet ministers, had this queer notion that their
ship was unsinkable. Its captain, cunningly similar to our presidium, not
only ignored advice about his ship's direction, but also did not even know
it was heading towards an iceberg!
Back to the
These large scary carnivorous birds have a strange
behaviour - they do not kill anything, but survive on things subdued by
other predators. Their appetite is spectacularly sharp since they
systematically pick every bit of flesh until the bone is clean - "clean" as
in Ignatious Chombo's Operation Murambatsvina - a clean-up that leaves one
exposed to the whims of nature and literally lifeless.
PF did not "kill" Zimbabwe. No! It is Tony Blair, the MDC, IMF, World Bank,
EU, George Bush and a host of other detractors campaigning for
All Zanu PF is doing is to "clean" the cities, towns
and growth points. Zimbabweans have, like a human skull, been laid bare,
stripped of our decency, assets, self-esteem and pride.
are now exposed not because we are big smilers, but as a spontaneous
response to the cold as we shiver waiting in long queues for bread, sugar
Vultures are patient; they circle over the loot until
they are sure everyone is gone, lulling you, if you happen to be half-alive,
into hypnotic amnesia with their crude innocence and deceptive altitude
until you ignore them. For 25 years, Zanu PF has been circling over the
people of this nation, looking all innocent, aristocratic and noble. In the
process, erstwhile friends: Zambia, Botswana, Mozambique, South Africa and
the Commonwealth have all deserted us. Our minds then went to sleep, we
almost forgot who Zanu PF was until they rested on our faces and picked the
eyes out of our heads.
Now powerless, we can only hear the bulldozers
rattle the ground around us, but cannot see from whence the destruction
comes. Zimbabweans have been circled. The vultures have landed. There is no
What manner of a country can "turn around" an economy with
60% of its productive workforce and vehicular fleet grounded? Which planet
do these guys come from - where gross domestic product can be "increased"
when there is no foreign currency to finance inputs?
not care much about the quality of the meat; it is not theirs, but they
assign a value to it anyway - a "good" value.
Our Reserve Bank has no
forex, but we hear they insist on charging only $10 000 per US dollar for
it. The Zanu PF politburo has no petrol, but they recommend that it be sold
for $10 000 a litre. What fool can say to a neighbour: "Your daughter is
beautiful and educated, so when she is getting married, ensure you charge a
lobola of $100 million!" Only charge what you have that belongs to
Most vultures are black with a tinge of brown, so is our
Someone gets a litre of petrol for $10 000 and sells it for
$30 000. I never saw a white man destroy a single cottage or tuck shop - it
is black-on-black oppression, dog-eat-dog affair.
Ian Smith must
be rubbing his frail hands with glee: "I told you so." How
A government that cannot feed and provide sufficient
fuel for its people and still afford to worsen their misery by destroying
property, then add salt to the wound by saying: "Chigarikayi! Settle down"
How many more days does it deserve to be in power?
finish, they fly away. The victim has neither recourse nor capacity to
respond. Zimbabweans must be the nicest humans on earth ever since Adam and
We were lambasted in Matabeleland, we are fed with propaganda,
our folk are suffering in threadbare hospitals, we struggle to go to work,
we queue for everything and Operation Murambatsvina has come and gone. Our
kinsman are molested at border posts, we sweat it out to get passports, are
roasted and lied to during elections, we, we, we, what next? And we are
still submissive, obedient and silent - government politicians term us
The next time a ZBC licence inspector visits your
home, please do us all Zimbabwean men proud: also show them your birth and
marriage certificates. As added acts of "peace", make them a hot cup of tea
with chocolate cake and offer them your virgin daughter with a promise of a
night out with your wife! Who knows, perhaps they might persuade Sekesai
Makwavarara to spare your cottage, or even organise that you get a full tank
of petrol from the nearest government watering hole.
peace-loving we Zimbabwean men have become! Moribund, stone-cold, static,
prostrate peace-loving zombies.
My point is that in the quest for
self-determination and in search of quality life, there is no need for any
Zimbabwean to lose a single drop of blood. That is sixties and seventies
stuff, we are now in the Internet age.
The president and his
ministers, army, airforce, prison and police chiefs also have relatives and
friends who are suffering like the rest of us. There is not a single problem
on earth that has no solution. We are simply ignoring the options. Our
limitation is management, attitudes and relations.
The guys who are
running the government are, to put it lightly, incompetent managers. They
use wrong policy instruments, they lie to citizens and they do not want to
change their attitude. Our relations with countries that really matter are
bad and we worsen the situation by continuing to say bad
Therefore, my suggestion is that everyone in this current
government, like was suggested by (Minister for Picy Implementation) Webster
Shamu, who is failing to deliver, resign immediately and create space for
those who can rescue this country. Resigning is acceptable, respectable and
non-violent. It leaves one with his/her dignity intact, with echoes of
respect resonating long after one is gone and above all, with a sense of
Resigning is a mark of excellence and maturity, not
an act of shame. More often than not in Africa, it is life-saving because
the wrath of a people whose pride has been wounded is hard to contain. It is
like volcanic lava cascading down a densely-populated valley or the angry
waters from a dam wall that has been torn apart by a strong
Therefore, the ministers responsible for energy,
agriculture, transport, health, education, finance, housing and trade in
Zimbabwe must make the right choice of resigning immediately.
Reserve Bank governor, who has tried and failed miserably to restore
monetary sanity to our country, can only do one more memorable thing -
Do these guys have a choice? Empirical evidence is right
outside their windows: the queues, emigration, homelessness and extreme
Zimbabweans are watching the skies and getting restless, seeing
vultures slowly lose altitude. We are not yet ready to be devoured. We have
the right to live.
is dealing with British-sponsored spies bent on deposing the democratically
elected government of President Mugabe.
The spies in question came to
Zimbabwe last week under the guidance of a British intelligence officer.
According to the state media, they wanted to meet President Mugabe but he
would have none of that. They went back to South Africa where they met with
President Mbeki to brief him on their "spying mission".
Mbeki, media reports say, is fully behind the efforts of the church in South
Africa to assist those who have been affected by Operation
So is he supping with British-sponsored devils? Is
any sane person expected to believe the latest spy story? That is how
ridiculous the thinking of information handlers in the Zimbabwe public media
They expect us to believe the silly story that the South
African Council of Churches delegation led by the Archbishop of Cape Town
Njongonkulu Ndungane visited Zimbabwe last week at the behest of British
intelligence who want to destabilise the country.
The spy theory
was supported by Harare Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga who I saw on
television on Sunday confirming the spies' British links. He described the
visit as "part of British attempts to destabilise the country by painting a
false picture of developments here for the international
Is it not true that women from the Anglican Church in
Harare have been collecting clothes, food and blankets to help victims of
the state-instigated tsunami? So what false picture was Bishop Kunonga
talking about here?
Can I also ask the bishop: who is
destabilising the country here - a few clergymen who have come to see how
they can help, or a government that one day allows people to build illegal
structures and then wakes up the next day to destroy them, dumping their
occupants on the streets in mid-winter?
I would like to believe that
Bishop Kunonga has evidence of the destabilisation caused by the South
African clergymen because his colleagues in the Zimbabwe Council of Churches
have remained unfazed by his partisan posturing. The Zimbabwe Council of
Churches endorsed the SACC's follow-up trip to see how they can
Interestingly, the SA churchmen this week said they were not
that keen to see Mugabe. They wanted to help victims of his depredations. In
an interview with VoA this week, head of the delegation, Methodist presiding
Bishop of Southern Africa, Ivan Abrahams, was clear on their
"If there is a perception that local churches and local NGOs
access to the president, why should a group from outside come
and create that kind of access?" asked Abrahams.
Should we not be
thankful when the few friends we still have come to help in our time of
need? Does the church have to adopt politicians' mode of creating layers of
useless bureaucracy before anything is achieved?
The church in
Zimbabwe has done enormous work since the start of Operation Murambatsvina
and should focus on that important mission. That is why most churches did
not come out to sing in chorus with Bishop Kunonga.
In case Bishop
Kunonga has forgotten, could I remind him that Archbishop Ndungane was in
February 2003 invited by President Mugabe to mediate in Zimbabwe's dispute
"Mugabe also endorsed my efforts to assist Zimbabwe in
this regard," Ndungane said at the time. He was not being used by the
British at the time, we trust!
Archbishop Ndungane, widely
respected in South Africa, should however not be surprised by government's
volte face. In Zanu PF lexicon a spy is a person who comes to Zimbabwe on a
fact-finding mission but who does not immediately sing the praises of
government's (read Mugabe's) latest project.
This is the hallmark of
a dictatorship. Its leadership feels insecure all the time. It cannot bear
any form of criticism because the incumbent wants to be portrayed as the
best person for the job. Such administrations see ghosts
We were told two weeks ago that a British spy had planted
a story on the wires to say Russian President Vladmir Putin had called
President Mugabe a dictator. An African Union envoy sent to probe the
effects of Operation Murambatsvina was quickly linked to Western
intelligence. He immediately became an undesirable and left without visiting
the transit camps.
Perhaps we are looking in the wrong places for all
these spies. In February President Mugabe blasted ruling-party officials for
selling central committee and politburo secrets to hostile nations (South
Africa!). He said even if it was his own brother or sister, he would condemn
For the Zanu PF government the world has become one big
conspiracy in which Zimbabwe is the victim. This may seem like a smart move,
especially when there are senior clergymen to endorse the
As Bishop Kunonga said at the weekend: "There is a danger
of a prophet being turned into an advocate of the devil. This is exactly
what has become the case with some of our church
AS undoubtedly applies to most columnists, they will be targets
for castigation, criticism and denigration from some of their readers, for
inevitably not all of their readers will agree with them.
the motivation for many columnists is to stimulate dialogue and interchanges
of views and perspectives. Certainly that is one of the principal reasons
for this column's publication.
Very occasionally, the columnist is the
recipient of support, for from time to time there are some who agree with
him, and voice that agreement, but usually the voiced reactions are from
those who differ with him.
In the majority of instances, those who are
possessed of contrary opinions and who voice them, do so in a spirit of
constructive dialogue, but there are always some who do so by recourse to
insult, to scathing and belittling comment, and often with reliance upon
misconstruction and misrepresentation.
However, rarely in the 22 years of
publication of the Eric Bloch Column has there been as great a voiced
reaction to it than over the last few weeks, following the column's
narrative of the Ant and the Grasshopper .
There has been an inundation
of letters, e-mails, telephone calls and other expressions of opinion. Even
more amazingly, out of 1382 reactions, only two were negative (Perhaps there
is some substance to the old saying that "it's better to be right by
accident than never to be right at all").
One of the criticisms was
voiced, in a letter to the editor of this newspaper, published two weeks
ago. The other appeared in an article on the Leader Page of the Herald last
Friday, written by Boyd Madikila. Unfortunately, however, his comments were
divorced from fact and, it would appear, founded upon embittered bigotry
which blinded him to the actual message of the tale of the Ant and the
In doing so, Madikila inadvertently and, most certainly
against his beliefs, paid me an immense compliment.
attacked me for having a "technocratic mentality," evidencing from his
diatribe against technocrats that, in fact, he does not know what a
The concise Oxford dictionary defines a technocrat as
an "advocate" of organisation of a country's resources by technical experts
for the good of the whole community".
If I am a technocrat, then I am
proudly so, for I have always sought, so far as I am able, to advocate "for
the good of the whole community".
It was in that context that I have
consistently, for over 50 years, opposed discrimination on any grounds other
than the differentials between good and evil, honest and dishonest, capable
It was in that context that, since 1958, I deplored the
abhorrent Land Apportionment Act, originally enacted in 1930, markedly
amended in 1941, and in force until replaced by the Land Tenure Act of
The legislation was vile and abominable, viciously excluding the
majority of the country's population from land ownership. I spoke out
against its evils, and used my insignificant voice to urge its repeal,
albeit to no avail.
But I have spoken out, and will continue to speak
out, against equally evil and oppressive legislation, such as the currently
prevailing Land Acquisition Act, and even more so when it is applied so
catastrophically as to worsen markedly the lot of almost all of the
Although Madikila, and others of his ilk, will never
acknowledge it, and will conjure up misrepresentative justifications of
their distortions of history and of fact, the harsh reality is that, until
five years ago, Zimbabwean agriculture fed all Zimbabwe, whereas now much of
the populace is on the threshold of starvation, and the country is having to
apply much of its scarce foreign exchange resources to the importation of
In many years, until five years ago, not only could Zimbabwe feed
itself, but it was an exporter of food to the region. Moreover, agriculture
was the source of much of Zimbabwe's foreign exchange needs, but is so no
longer (for example, tobacco production has fallen in four years from 237
million kg. to 85 million kg), and agriculture provided employment to over
300 000, and life support to over 1,5 million Zimbabweans. Now, thanks to
the methodology applied by government to right the incontrovertible wrongs
of the past, agriculture has ceased to be the mainstay of the economy, the
provider of more employment than any other economic sector, the generator of
more foreign exchange than yielded by any other economic activity. One
hundred years of agricultural development has been substantially demolished
Madikila justifies all this by historic
misrepresentation. That is very possibly not his fault, for that
misrepresentation has prevailed for many decades, and become the firm and
absolute belief of many, and especially those who cannot judge others on
their merits, but only on racial, ethnic or gender differences.
alleges that the "ant" (in the story of the Ant and the Grasshopper ), being
whites, acquired the lands they had farmed, "through occupation and
dispossession, forced labour and racial discrimination".
allegation of racial discrimination is well-founded to the extent that the
iniquitous Land Apportionment Act precluded black ownership of farms. But
the claims of "occupation and dispossession" are either spurious or, at
most, very grossly exaggerated.
According to the Encyclopaedia
Zimbabwe , the population of Zimbabwe in 1901 approximated 712 600, of which
12 600 were whites and Asians, and 700 000 were blacks. The land area of the
country was, and is, approximately 390 700 square km and, therefore, if all
that land was possessed by the then black population, each and every one in
that population, whether male or female, aged or child, would have possessed
- on average - about 55 hectares! That was certainly not so! And, even if it
were argued that the entire 390 700 square km were communally owned, it's
impossible to allege that all such land was productively
Production of maize was less than a twentieth of that being
produced five years ago (and sufficed to feed the then population), and the
"national" herd was less than 15 000 cattle. No tobacco, sugar, citrus or
other crops were produced.
Admittedly, the colonialists of the end of
the 19th Century did acquire some land by devious negotiation with
Lobengula, and with the Shona chiefs, but most of the lands were fallow, and
unoccupied. Also recurrently disregarded is that a very great number of the
white farmers who were dispossessed of their farms during the last five
years had acquired those farms post-Independence, from other white farmers,
but having received "Certificates of No Interest" from the Zimbabwean
Despite having paid for their farms, and despite their
acquisition of the farms having been with the concurrence of government,
they have been deprived of their farms, without compensation and, in all too
many instances, after having been made the victims of harassment, violence,
vandalism and abuse.
Madikila also attacks the story of The Ant and
the Grasshopper for failure to explain how the "ant" ended up having so much
luxury while the "grasshopper" languished in empty hope. In accusing this
columnist of "a selective memory" (it takes one to know one!), he does at
least acknowledge that I did not suggest that "ants" (whites) are naturally
more hardworking than grasshoppers (black people)." It is correct that I did
not suggest that, and I do not.
I am on record as stating that
Zimbabwe has a population of about 12 million, of whom 11,9 million are
extremely able, hardworking and the nicest people on earth, having their
lives ruined by the other 100 000.
Unfortunately, however, the
"grasshoppers" in the tale equate in the Zimbabwean environment of today
with, in many instances, some of that 100 000. There are countless,
substantiated instances where the former productive white farmers (the ants)
have been replaced by unauthorised settlers who were possessed of neither
skills nor resources to work the farms, nor any inclination to do
They resorted solely to vandalising the farm infrastructures,
destroying decades of development in order to sell the components of those
infrastructures, and to pressurising any remaining white farmer neighbours
to farm the lands on their behalf. They were certainly not, and are not,
industrious "grasshoppers". In somewhat like manner, many of the new
"farmers" are from the ranks of the well-connected "chefs", actively engaged
in the urban areas in generating wealth from non-agricultural sources, but
being farmers only on weekends, when in the main they relax in the
farmhouses which they have acquired without payment, instead of actually
doing any farming.
Zimbabwe critically needed (and still needs) land
reform, but such land reform must be constructive instead of destructive,
founded upon justice and equity, and now must be such as will restore
agriculture to its former glory.
That is unlikely to occur until
government acknowledges and reverses the inadequacies and inequities of the
present programme of land reform, and until realism prevails, including that
persons such as Madikila must remove the racial "chip off their
However, I fully agree with him that "Africa still needs
revolutionaries". Those revolutionaries need to be such as Nelson Mandela,
with a genuine respect for law, humanitariasm and all mankind, irrespective
of race and not, as proposed by Madikila, those who perceive "rule of law,
democracy, good governance" as "hogwash".
If the latter prevails,
Africa will always be impoverished, and its peoples condemned to
A dead-loss journalist and a barmy
bishop THE Herald had a rather misleading heading last week. "ZUJ drafts new
code of conduct," we were told. There then followed a story in which
Information minister Tichaona Jokonya and ZUJ president Matthew Takaona
competed to see who could make the most offensive remarks about the
There was a "crisis" in the media, Jokonya declared. What he meant
was there were some elements in the media, such as Internet publications,
that could not be controlled. The prospect of journalists who could not be
regulated by the Stalinists at the Information ministry was evidently too
ghastly for the minister to contemplate.
Then there were all those
"unpatriotic" journalists out there.
"There are some journalists who
enjoy demonising and undermining the country," Jokonya continued, "and when
they write the stories they do so with passion."
So passion's out
then? So is naivety, it would seem.
"Some are so naïve about our
country," Jokonya pronounced, "that they do not know what type of stories to
It must be obvious that any stories declaring the MDC
to be tools of the British must qualify for prominence. The state media
writes about nothing else. And when short of these stories, it allows itself
to be duped by officials hawking British spy stories that are then
reproduced word for word no matter how ludicrous they appear.
that's what we call naïve!
Instead of pointing this out, Takaona joined
in the attack. He said the code of conduct came after "the realisation that
many newsmen had gone out of their way to write falsehoods without verifying
"Many" Matthew? How many have been successfully
He cited poor remuneration as one of the reasons why
journalists accepted bribes.
"We work very hard but we get peanuts at
the end of the day and this has contributed to some of the reasons why
journalists accept bribes," Takaona confessed, hopefully not speaking for
Instead of defending his colleagues against facile
accusations by the minister who needs to be challenged on his definition of
what is patriotic, the leader of ZUJ has nothing to say for himself except
that journalists are a corrupt lot.
Matthew: you are a dead loss and
if you carry on like this we are going to have to revive the ashtray
Let's put the record straight. Contrary to the Herald's spin, ZUJ
did not draft the code of conduct. It was drafted by Misa with the help of
others in the media fraternity. It is a simple statement of best practice.
The other stakeholders gave their nod to the code months ago. After much
heel-dragging ZUJ was the last organisation to come on board.
felt the code should be presented to the minister by a media representative
who was not deemed to be unfriendly to the state. Despite Matthew's
appalling treatment by the Moyo regime, he qualified. What Misa wasn't to
know was the minister would wipe the floor with him in front of the TV
cameras. And Matthew would be happy to be the mop. It would also appear from
Tuesday's Herald that he was part of the "unanimous" decision by the MIC to
refuse ANZ a licence. What sort of society is it where journalists join the
state in oppressing their colleagues?
Can we please have in future
discussions with ministers media representatives who are prepared to stand
up for their profession and repudiate in robust language the pretensions of
ministers who are not themselves bound by any code of conduct!
we had Tafataona Mahoso spitting on Jokonya's parade, declaring ZUJ and Misa
to be "a confused lot".
"Zimbabwe rejects the global media apartheid
models of the North Atlantic states," he declared in his usual presumptuous
way, as if he speaks for Zimbabwe.
It must have been obvious why
Mahoso was keen to rubbish the new initiative: if it succeeds he will be out
of a job. But he could have been a little more subtle in his bid for
Meanwhile, could somebody explain why Chengetai Zvauya
was refused accreditation by the MIC because of a criminal conviction when
he had appealed to the High Court against that conviction and was
subsequently acquitted? Don't we recall Zanu PF MPs whose election had been
overturned by the High Court because of irregularities continuing to retain
their seats all the way up to March this year on the grounds they were
Before we leave the topic of journalists, how about this for
absolute gullibility and lack of professionalism?
Relating the visit
by the South African Council of Churches team headed by the widely-respected
Archbishop Njongonkulu Ndungane last week, we were told the following: "The
Herald can reveal that the clergymen are known supporters of the
That's as good as it gets folks! Revelations, Chapter 1.
is one thing for captive journalists to repeat what they are told by
government officials. It is another to hear captive bishops regurgitating
word for word the same forced diet.
We had Harare Anglican Archbishop
Nobert Kunonga slamming the South African bishops as "a willing horse for
the British government".
We suppose he meant a Trojan horse. But it was
all Greek to us.
The SACC visit was "unprocedural", Kunonga declared
without realising that word had now become totally discredited.
abortive visit by the South African clergymen under the guise of assessing
Operation Murambatsvina is, in fact, part of the British attempts to
destabilise the country by painting a false picture of the developments here
for the international world," he claimed.
Most of the world is
international, we would have thought. And "facts" surely have nothing to do
Clearly the archbishop is out of his depth. It would seem he has
been got at. But does it serve the government's cause to have one so
obviously compromised speaking on its behalf in such a naïve and silly way?
Somebody who doesn't appear to have a mind of his own?
And what of
all those Anglicans out there who are identified with such suborned
leadership? Will they remain silent?
"The church in Zimbabwe, including
myself, has lost all respect for Archbishop Ndungane," Kunonga
Right idea, wrong archbishop.
Caesar the Butcher has
been doing some serious research of late on condoms. The results have been
Caesar questioned why the United States was donating condoms
to Zimbabwe despite passage of the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery
Act. He asks the question while acknowledging that Aids and HIV were
declared a national disaster as long back as 1999 with the disease killing
over 3 000 people a week. He asks despite knowing that government does not
have the resources to import condoms from China or any place under the sun
so long as there is a foreign currency component.
conclusion is that the US could be trying to spread Aids to exterminate
so-called people of colour. But the obvious solution would be to manufacture
safer condoms for the nation, if that is possible. Zimbabwe is a sovereign
country and therefore is under no obligation to accept condoms from the
They tried it with the so-called genetically-modified
maize, but made an embarrassing volte face when the implications became
clear - mass starvation. We are out with an even bigger begging bowl again
this year after claiming we had more than enough to feed ourselves last
year. Nothing could be more disgraceful.
Caesar the Butcher may want
to appear industrious, but his weird theory is cause for more anxiety than
comfort to a nation already ravaged by despondency. We wonder what the aim
is; maybe that sovereign Zimbabweans doesn't need imperialist condoms after
all? A classic case of looking a gift horse in the mouth.
in regard to the syphilis experiment by the US government exposed by Jean
Heller in 1972, when can we expect a similarly courageous exposé from Caesar
about our government's criminal dereliction of duty - from food shortages to
the inhuman conditions at Caledonia Farm? We have had enough of Abu Ghraib,
Afghanistan and Guantanamo conspiracies. What about Highlands, Matapi and
We should also be grateful to Caesar for giving us former US
President Bill Clinton's response to Heller's revelations. Clinton remarked
in his apology to those affected by the experiments: "The United States
government did something that was wrong, deeply, profoundly, morally
When can Zimbabweans expect a similar apology from their
president for the Gukurahundi massacres in which over 20 000 people were
killed, the orgy of violence since 2000, the destruction of commercial
agriculture and the hunger that followed, the transport crisis since 1999
and now the wanton destruction of homes and informal businesses in the name
of Operation Murambatsvina? Let's have some integrity and honesty here
Come Wednesday and the Herald on its front page carried a picture
of Grace Mugabe's fugitive brother Reward Marufu looking hail and hearty in
Bindura in the heart of Mashonaland Central. The caption told us Marufu is
the proud owner of Leopard Vlei Farm. No questions asked.
In case you
have forgotten dear reader, this is the same fellow who robbed the War
Victims Compensation Fund of over $800 000 on the pretext that he was 95%
disabled and suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. When it was
later discovered that the claim was fraudulent, Marufu vanished into an
igloo near Hudson's Bay in Canada's snowy wastes. Government pretended he
couldn't be located for the law to take its course. The last we heard of him
he was in dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam's country.
So there he was
on Wednesday with Air Marshal Perence Shiri of Gukurahundi infamy
and Pakistani Air Chief Marshal Kaleem Saadat.
Does government still
claim Marufu's whereabouts are unknown? And what happened to those charges
that were pending? No wonder government columnists refer to the rule of law
How curious it is that Zimbabwe and the United States have
a mutual friend in Pakistan!
It's great to hear the president is not
the monster he is often portrayed as in the Western media. He likes a joke
from time to time, we hear. It's just a pity that it has to be an old
You all remember the one about Pius Ncube praying: "O God Almighty,
take this enemy of mine," only instead of saying "Bob", he mistakenly said
It's not the most tasteful joke for a "devout Catholic" to tell,
but we appreciate the president recycling it at the Victoria Falls, not to
mention the brave soul who SMS'd it across to the presidential mobile. We
gather he is now awaiting a new posting in Mt Darwin.
By the way, in
the standard version it was God who misheard it, not Pius who misstated it.
And we did like the way the president pulled rank on the archbishop: "Get
out of my way Pius, I want to pray to God."
Muckraker agrees with the
president (history in the making here!) that Pius does at times look as if
he is a man possessed. He hates Mugabe so much he can barely contain himself
in TV interviews. He needs to discipline that anger and channel it in a way
the late Cardinal Jaime Sin would have done. That way he would strike a
national chord and add depth to a cause that is crying out for
Isn't it about time the President's Office improved the
quality of the intelligence reaching it?
On Saturday we had Nathaniel
Manheru referring to a meeting at the Zimbabwe Independent and Standard
where editors were supposedly told by chairman Trevor Ncube to give space to
the so-called third force. A picture of Ncube used to illustrate an article
by Jonathan Moyo last week was adduced as further evidence of a
This is all very well. Except for one important detail.
Neither Moyo nor the third force were mentioned at the meeting in question.
As there were about 10 people present the truth wouldn't have been too
difficult to establish.
Let's hope the country's destiny is not guided by
such inept intelligence gatherers!
Muckraker was intrigued to see a
little story in the Sunday Mirror saying that the "Reverend" Obadiah Msindo
had threatened to take legal action against the Independent for alleging he
had swindled clients of a housing cooperative and diverted the funds to Zanu
PF's election campaign. Msindo denies illegally selling stands or diverting
And how did this story find its way into the Mirror? We have no
The lawyers for Msindo are Muzangaza, Mandaza and Tomana.
An act of vindictive pettiness THE ANZ
was once again this week denied an operating licence. That is to say the
Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday won't be back on the streets for as
long as it pleases those presuming to shape the future of this country. It
also means Zimbabweans have been denied alternative media voices simply
because those in power believe that only their views should be
What we find distressing about the Media and Information
Commission (MIC)'s ruling is its vindictive pettiness. The fact is the MIC,
which reflects the attitude of government towards the private media, is
intolerant of media diversity and freedom.
MIC chairman Tafataona
Mahoso has become an instrument of media tyranny used to close four
newspapers - the two ANZ titles, the Tribune and the Weekly Times
Mahoso's latest determination in the ANZ case does not add value
whatsoever to the September 11 2003 Supreme Court judgement which led to the
closure of the media group. It simply regurgitates the Supreme Court
rationale for the earlier decision to halt publication while ignoring the
court's instruction that the newspaper group should apply again for
Mahoso's verdict amounts to defiance of the Supreme Court
ruling to re-consider an ANZ application for registration on its merits. The
court ordered the ANZ to register before its constitutional challenge
against Aippa could be heard.
The Mahoso-led commission ruled that
the ANZ cannot resume operations because it contravened sections of Aippa by
publishing the Daily News without a registration certificate and using
unaccredited journalists. Mahoso decreed that this was
But the ANZ and its journalists had committed no offence
to justify the closure of their newspapers. Up until the time of the closure
of the papers, none of its workers had been convicted of any offence as a
result of the said non-registration.
Much was made in the MIC's
verdict of the status of Chengetai Zvauya who had been convicted of criminal
defamation. But his case was under appeal at the time and he was eventually
acquitted. Why then was he not afforded a stay of judgement by the MIC in
keeping with legal precedent?
This is the problem with selective
application of a law created to pursue personal vendettas camouflaged as the
public interest. Nothing could be as contemptible as the commission's
reasons for its verdict.
While the Supreme Court asked the ANZ to respond
to issues raised in its questionable "dirty hands" ruling, it did not
require the MIC to move the goal posts when dealing with the media group.
When the court advised the ANZ to apply it must have been satisfied that
once the ANZ met the criteria for registration, justice would
But according to Mahoso and his commission, the court was
woefully mistaken. This week they sat as the supreme executioner to rule
that the ANZ had not responded "to every alleged contravention in the 2003
determination" and decided they were not satisfied. Are these the new
criteria for registration of all media houses, we ask?
Mahoso think he is doing by reducing himself to a tool of media repression
while pretending to be a media analyst? What sort of a media trainer would
produce students but shut down papers where they could work because he does
not like the editorial content of those publications? This is abuse of power
What is also clear is that Aippa is being used by party
ideologues to override the national interest.
MDC legislator Roy
Bennett obtained no less than six court orders against the seizure of his
Charleswood Estate. They were ignored. Two weeks ago a judge ruled that no
development should take place on Whitecliff Farm because it was private
property. Again that interim order was ignored by government.
these examples to show how illegal actions that threaten property rights
have been systematically ignored with disastrous consequences for
investment, while petty laws designed to suppress the media are enforced
with fundamentalist zeal by our "Council of Guardians".
Who poses the
greater threat: a journalist who is not accredited or a minister choosing
which court orders will be enforced and which will not?
We are appalled
by Mahoso's widening discretionary powers about how media houses should be
registered. It is evident from all this that the government does not believe
its stable of dissembling papers can survive the cold wind of competition
The truth is that no banning of newspapers will help Zimbabwe overcome
the current political and economic crisis, nor its growing reputation as an
international leper. If anything the government and its hired hands are
doing everything possible to ensure we remain an "outpost of
Govt in fresh bid to lure farmers Godfrey
Marawanyika/Augustine Mukaro THE government this week made another attempt to
bring back "specialised" farmers as it seeks to revive the collapsed
The Export Processing Zones Authority (EPZ) and the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) this week flighted an advert appealing to
experienced flower and horticulture farmers to return, five years after they
were violently evicted from the land. The EPZ and the RBZ requested skilled
and experienced farmers to submit profiles for the rehabilitation
Government wants to rehabilitate specialised farmers to
improve exports. The two institutions requested skilled and experienced
farmers to submit profiles for the rehabilitation programme of the
"Suitably qualified institutions and individuals
who have expertise in the flower sector rehabilitation programme, greenhouse
construction, irrigation, flower marketing, rose propagation and rose stems
supply as well as coldroom repairs, design and construction should submit
profiles for consideration," wrote the EPZ in the appeal.
profile should indicate the capacity which such companies or individuals
have in their specific areas as well as proven record of their previous
This is one of the government's numerous appeals to
specialised farmers to return. Since the inception of the controversial land
reform, flower production has plummeted to record low levels, costing
Zimbabwe lucrative contracts in European markets.
Kondozi, some of the biggest horticulture ventures, were among dozens of
fresh produce exporting firms that were violently seized by government
Kondozi Farm, which ceased operations last December, has
since collapsed after being taken over by government's Agricultural and
Rural Development Authority (Arda).
Over 100 EPZ projects have
since collapsed due to farm invasions and financial problems. The numbers
continue to rise with commercial farmers being thrown off their properties
everyday. Efforts to lure back farmers have been widened to include farmers
in the dairy sector, conservancies, beef cattle, as well as pigs, eggs and
Under the new plan, new investors or skilled
former operators will be given special dispensation and guarantees of
uninterrupted productive tenure of 5-10 years, backed by protection against
The EPZ appeal could however hit a brick wall after
Justice for Agriculture (JAG) told farmers to reject government offers until
a favourable atmosphere prevails in the farming sector.
of the present sad scenario and with due consideration to the disastrous
history of this so-called 'land reform programme' and the illegalities and
human rights abuses perpetrated therein, we remain emphatic that no farmers
should return to their farms until our conditions are met," Jag said in a
caution to farmers.
JAG demanded a return to the rule of law
countrywide, especially in commercial farming areas, and a restoration of
the independence of the Judiciary and a repeal of all unjust
It also called for "respect for and protection of property
rights as enshrined in the present constitution, with international
guarantees put in place, until a new constitution is
JAG demanded that farmers be comprehensively compensated.
It also said the farmers should be restituted under international law
governing compulsory expropriation of land, improvements and moveable assets
and the extensive damages claims.
Experts say the EPZ and RBZ's
efforts could come to nothing because the government continues to evict
Sources say the new wave of evictions is meant to
make way for government officials who were promoted to senior posts.
Economic mismanagement: a new paradigm for debate By
Tawanda Magaisa ANY discussion of the challenges faced by Zimbabwe has a
common theme: Zimbabwe is in a poor state because of human rights violations
for the past five years.
In other words, the human rights paradigm is
dominant. It is the basis for international condemnation and it is argued as
the reason for the economic collapse.
Without attempting to
dismiss or underplay the gross violation of human rights in the country, I
wish to offer an alternative approach to looking at the Zimbabwe
In my view, more than simply a human rights issue,
Zimbabwe's problems largely arise from bad economic management over a long
period of time, even during the time when the international community
thought that Zimbabwe had a clean image.
dominance of the human rights paradigm has tended to divert from the
underlying cause for Zimbabweans' dissatisfaction with their
The core problem in Zimbabwe is poor economic
management, which others prefer to simply call in broad terms bad
What really matters to the people is the economy and
related issues. Human rights are equally significant, but they were not the
principal reason for people's rise against the government in the late
It is easy to see why human rights are the centre of the
debate - the view that Africa is in the state it is because of lack of
democracy and as a result a poor human rights record.
Why is it
important to frame the Zimbabwe problem beyond the human rights paradigm? It
is important, as I seek to demonstrate in this article, because it may help
to shed more light on the wider issues at stake to key African leaders and
other participants seeking to resolve this problem.
They ought to
understand that it is not simply a campaign to demonise their fellow
liberation brethren, but that the real grievance lies at the failure of
internal management of economic resources. Unfortunately, this has been
turned into a Mugabe vs the West issue, whereas it is in fact an issue
between the people of Zimbabwe and their government. There is need to
understand that the key grievances against the government go far beyond the
human rights issues which dominate current discussion.
quickly dispel any notion that I am attempting to dismiss the human rights
problems in the country.
The point however is that the human rights
violations are a result but not a primary cause of the problems in the
They are symptoms and may have exacerbated the situation
that resulted principally from bad economic management.
failure to pursue viable economic policies, curb economic crime, reduce
indiscipline, etc have been the hallmarks of poor management of resources in
the country and the cause of economic decline.
reason the people of Zimbabwe rose against the government in the late 1990s
had little to do with human rights problems but are signs of poor economic
management that were beginning to manifest themselves after years of
It is the vice of poor management that needs to be
tackled if Zimbabwe is to recover even under a new
You could replace the current regime with one that
respects human rights in the usual way but if they do not pursue the right
approaches to managing the resources, problems will persist.
have seen this already in countries like Malawi and Zambia where change from
the long-serving dictatorships has not necessarily yielded economic
stability, let alone prosperity.
To any casual observer around
the world, the problems in Zimbabwe centre on human rights
In its portrayal in the media Zimbabwe ranks among the
most repressive states in the world. It astounds many across the world why
African leaders stand by while the regime allegedly violates human rights at
Some African leaders seem to argue that there is too much
unnecessary attention on Zimbabwe given the lack of similar outcry in
relation to places in Africa such as the DRCongo which are experiencing
To some African leaders "the Zimbabwe problem" is
not in fact a problem at all when compared to the challenges faced by other
states in the continent.
But that is where the problem lies with the
dominant human rights paradigm. The problem with this paradigm is that it is
cyclical and enables each side to offer arguments, which make sense to the
extent that one chooses to fit in within a specific side. We can see this
perfectly in the case of the one key issue on which the human right's
paradigm has been dominant - land.
The Zimbabwean government has
always justified its actions in relation to the land redistribution exercise
on the basis of correcting historical imbalances. The proponents of this
argument argue that it was necessary to restore the human rights of the
indigenous black people. So to them it is also a human rights issue. Then
there is another section that accepts in principle the need to redistribute
land, but believes that the methods used by the government were
They too couch their argument on the basis of human rights -
arguing that the rights of property owners, workers, etc were violated
during the chaotic process.
What both groups seem to now agree on
however and indeed what the facts demonstrate, is that the exercise has
caused economic disaster.
The way I would characterise this whole
exercise, away from the human rights paradigm, is that this was quite simply
a case of bad economic management.
The government acted irrationally
and on the basis of a desire to rally political support during a time of
dwindling political fortunes, thereby throwing all principles of economic
prudence that had hitherto governed their conduct in relation to
What was required was an economic policy framework, which
recognised the interests of the white property landowners and the claims of
the majority black population.
The state failed to do so - a
clear case of poor economic planning and irrational judgement. But because
we are all forced to see things from a human rights perspective, we talk
only of human rights violations as the key problem, with the economic
meltdown as a mere consequence, not a central part of the problem. Instead,
I would put it thus: poor management of the land resource characterised by a
misallocation of resources is the principal cause of decline in agricultural
productivity and consequently, economic meltdown.
The need to
resolve this economic problem is not to allocate land on the basis of skin
colour, political office and such other stupid criteria but recognising the
skill and capacity to undertake viable farming. There is no room for
sentimental considerations that start and end with slogans like "This is the
land of our forefathers!" - So what, if you cannot make it productive?
Similarly, restricting media freedom and closing down newspapers is not
merely a violation of the freedom of expression. It is a case of poor
economic management - the calculated attempt to destroy an industry that
employs masses of people both directly and indirectly. Similarly, Operation
Murambatsvina should not be simply assessed as a human rights problem - it
is in fact a clear demonstration of bad governance.
because it is the same leadership that led to the proliferation of illegal
settlements either by actively encouraging people to settle or doing nothing
to prevent them when they had the power to do so.
organisations and individuals that thrive on the human rights
They want everything to be seen within the context of
human rights, even if that characterisation obfuscates the real shortcomings
and issues at stake.
In conclusion, I reiterate that I do not seek to
dismiss any blatant violations taking place in Zimbabwe.
seems to me that we must not lose sight of other real causes of the
country's predicament and that the people's grievances do not necessarily
have to be couched as human rights matters to be relevant.
means that even if a new government were to come into power, it is not
simply the restoration of human rights that will solve Zimbabwe's problems.
That is only part of the process.
We do not have to place
everything within a human rights framework - that may in itself be one of
the reasons for the cyclical nature of the Zimbabwe debate. Perhaps framing
issues beyond the simple human rights paradigm might shed more light and
pave the way to a solution. I think it is - sometimes we do not realise that
the language and framework of discussion can be as important as the
*Dr Magaisa is a specialist in Corporate and
Financial Services Law. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org
Bad govt policies haunt sugar production Eric
Chiriga THE current shortage of sugar is due to the incompetence of new
farmers and the price controls imposed on the commodity by government, the
MDC shadow minister and former Grain Marketing Board
general manager Renson Gasela said settling of new farmers on Mkwasine
Estates caused a reduction in the production of
"Besides failing to take up the land they had been
offered," Gasela said, "those A2 farmers who took up the land are producing
sugarcane that is well below standard."
Gasela said this in paper
titled "The future of sugar production in the wake of land reform", dated
He said the future of A2 farmers was bleak because they do
not have the required resources to carry out sugarcane
"It is obvious the A2 farmers, without sufficient capital,
without equipment, with no experience and working individually, will not be
able to survive," Gasela said.
He said although 2 700 hectares
had been allocated, about 50% of those just left one or two people to look
after their property.
This has left a lot of the cane in a very bad
state. A lot of it cannot be used at all.
"It is a very sorry
state to see sugarcane fields full of stunted drying cane when there is so
much water around, flowing in canals."
He also said the National
Railways of Zimbabwe was failing to move the sugar to the
Sugar could be moved to Harare by rail via Gutu in Masvingo,
but the parastatal is unable to because of the controlled price of sugar,
which makes it uneconomic to do so.
Gasela said another factor
contributing to the shortage were large quantities of sugar exported
At the start of the sugar-milling season annually,
government allocates quantities of sugar to be exported, including a
quantity set aside for indigenous exporters.
Sufficient sugar is
then reserved for the local market.
"There are however well connected
sharks who smuggle and export from local stocks," he said.
authorities should prove me wrong through an independent audit," he
Gasela said the selection of the new farmers was political
and many of them were likely to move from sugarcane production into
However, completely irrigated maize could only be
profitable if sold as green mealies, Gasela said.
is a sugar estate and was designed and developed to produce
Gasela said the acquisition of the sugar estates and
subsequent allocation to those in influential positions in government and
the ruling party would prove to be an unmitigated disaster.
said Mkwasine now remained with 42% of its previous hectares and this was
diminishing as more fields continued to be parceled out.
estate has now lost the economies of scale which enabled it to bear the cost
of transporting cane to the mills."
It was the size of the operation
and economies of scale that enabled Mkwasine to subsidise Chipiwa settlers
in the area.
The new farmers will now have to meet the full cost of
Mkwasine used to contribute 15% of national sugar
Triangle and Hippo Valley Estates had also been badly
affected by the unplanned settlements and land
The estate is being forced to lay off 50% of its
workers and stop subsidies to the hitherto successful Chipiwa farmers.
Alternatively, if economics of scale do not permit, it may be forced to
Gasela said if Mkwasine closes down, that would be the
end of sugarcane production and a loss of employment for about 2 000 people
with over 10 000 dependants.
"The government is in the throes of
achieving yet another 'success' by destroying the sugar industry as they
have done to the other agricultural commodities, namely tobacco, maize,
wheat, beef, dairy, horticulture," Gasela said.
He said while
there was talk of multiple farm ownership, in Mkwasine there were
influential individuals who owned as many as 11 fields in some cases. "There
are obviously many with more than one field but the policy is that each
person is allocated one field."
Each field is approximately 20
The new farmers have an average yield of 40 tonnes per
hectare. This was not enough to cover the cost of transportation let alone
production costs and a profit, Gasela said.
Hippo Valley Estates
said the land resettlement programme had disrupted their operations and
would cause huge losses to the company and the economy as
"The serious developments at Mkwasine Estate have greatly
disrupted farming operations on 2 063 hectares currently occupied
illegally," Godfrey Gomwe, the chairman of Hippo said in the company's
annual report for 2004.
"Out of a possible 4 880 hectares," Gomwe
said, "the estate only managed to actively maintain 2 817 hectares over the
last six months."
He said the illegal occupations would cause
substantial loss of sugar production and associated benefits to the company
and the economy.
Hippo Valley North, consisting of 70% of the
company's sugarcane land, was first listed for compulsory acquisition in
September 2000 and de-listed in October the same year.
was listed in August 2000 and de-listed in September 2001.
On March 22,
both properties were relisted and applications for their de-listing were
lodged on April 11, 2002.
Both properties were again listed for a
third time on August 6 and 15 2003 respectively.
Zesa warns of power deficits Eric Chiriga THE
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) has warned that the country
could face serious power deficits due to low coal supplies at all stations
and falling water levels to drive the turbines at Kariba Power
Zesa Holdings chairman and chief executive, Sydney Gata, said
the country was faced with serious "energy security threats".
a paper titled "Electricity Power Overview" presented at a Zimtrade
exporters' conference in Harare earlier this week, Gata said Zesa tariffs
Gata cited six major "energy security threats"
that he said could plunge the country into darkness.
include the "hydrological risk" at Kariba Power station due to persistent
drought, a shortage of coal at all thermal power stations, the expected
power deficit in the Sadc region and tougher new import terms for Zimbabwe
in the period 2006 to 2008.
Experts have warned that the Sadc region
faces critical power shortages in 2007. This could severely affect Zimbabwe
which imports much of its power from Eskom in South Africa, Snel in the DRC
and Cahora Bassa in Mozambique.
Gata said the power utility was
struggling to pay for current power imports from South Africa and
Zimbabwe is reeling under biting fuel and foreign
currency shortages that have all but grounded the national airline, Air
Zimbabwe. Power outages at peak hours have become a daily experience for
most domestic users.
"All new import contracts are now under much
tougher terms and conditions for Zimbabwe," Gata said.
the country only has one "firm" power import contract for 2005 with Snel of
the Democratic Republic of Congo. The contract is for only 150 megawatts
Gata projected that an extra 1 950 MW would be needed to meet
the anticipated increased demand in the next three years.
extra 450 MW are required for the new irrigation and rural electrification
loads, 650 MW to displace current imports, 250 MW for spinning reserve and
600 MW to support forecast economic turnaround and gross domestic product
growth," Gata said.
The power utility requires US$13 million a month
to import electricity, service debts and buy spares for refurbishment at its
power stations across the country.
Zesa generates 68% (1 440 MW)
of national requirements from Kariba Power Station (750 MW), Hwange Power
Station (590 MW) and the balance of 100 MW from small internal thermal power
Imports of 650 MW account for 32% of national requirements
from Eskom (300 MW), Hydroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (250 MW) and 100 MW from
Snel in the DRC.
Gata said local funding for the Expanded Rural
Electrification Programme (Erep) was inadequate and that government had not
given them any support since inception.
"Government funding is
still not available from inception of Erep." He said financing was currently
from the 6% rural electrification levy, Megawatt Bills and a loan facility
from the Reserve Bank.
Gata said the bills were too expensive because
of the high interest rates while debt funding for rural infrastructure "is
simply inappropriate, anywhere, anytime".
External funding is in
the form of a loan facility from an Indian firm and China amounting to US$40
million and US$110 million respectively. According to the paper, Zesa has a
backlog of 12 176 customers who are paid up but have not been connected.
This is an increase from 5 653 in 2002.
He said the severe shortage
of foreign currency and suspension of regular annual tariff reviews in 2003
and 2004 were the major causes of the huge backlog.
utility has also failed to meet its target for the rural electrification
programme after it electrified only 3 902 projects out of the 5
He said for the rural electrification programme to function
effectively, Zesa would need government capital grants, low interest rate
funds and priority on foreign currency allocations to meet existing
Gata said plans were underway to invest in the
electricity sector at a total cost of US$2,09 billion between now and 2010.
These include distribution projects worth US$247 million, power
telecommunications of US$22 million and other transmission projects of
Zesa is courting investors from Iran and China to
finance these projects. Zesa is also exporting tobacco and cotton to offset
debts incurred during the rural electrification programme.