Kuruneri offers $15b Godfrey Marawanyika IN a bid
to secure his freedom, former Finance minister Chris Kuruneri has pledged an
unprecedented $15 billion worth of assets to the state as part of his bail
In addition to the $15 billion - representing two immovable
properties in Zimbabwe - Kuruneri is willing to surrender his entire
shareholding in a Cape Town-based company, Choice Decisions, and cash in two
South Africa banks.
Kuruneri is also prepared to deposit $200
million in cash with the Registrar of the High Court as further security for
bail and reside at his Mount Pleasant home.
Kuruneri has been
locked up at Harare Remand Prison for the past 15 months.
against Kuruneri arose last year after he allegedly externalised US$500 000,
£37 000, 30 000 euros and R1,2 million to South Africa between March 2002
and the time of his arrest last year.
The state argues the money was
used to buy properties in South Africa without appropriate clearance with
the exchange control authorities.
Kuruneri has already been convicted
of holding a Canadian passport. He has however denied the externalisation
charges saying the money he got was earned as free funds from consultancy
work he carried out for the Solano family in Spain.
trial opened in the High Court last month, followed by stunning testimony by
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono earlier this month suggesting
that Kuruneri had saved the country from catastrophe by assisting it with
the transfer of funds. The trial was however postponed indefinitely and
Kuruneri has remained behind bars, hence the new quest for freedom. Kuruneri
had prior to the trial made three futile bail applications in the High
In this application, his lawyer Jonathan Samkange said
circumstances had changed immensely since the last bail application as the
state case had been weakened by Gono's testimony.
argues that based on evidence from South African witnesses, there was no
grounds to suggest that his client arrived in South Africa with foreign
He said the onus was on the state to prove that Kuruneri's
funds were not
free funds, adding that its witnesses had failed to
establish evidence to the contrary.
"It is for this reason that
the applicant would not abscond and would continue to attend his trial if
released on bail, as he has nothing to fear. It is very clear that the
state's case is very weak," Samkange said.
He said this was evident
if one took "into account the unchallenged evidence of Dr Gono which was to
the effect that applicant was an innocent man" who had made "his free funds
available to the state at the request of Dr Gono on behalf of the
Samkange said his client saved the nation from collapse and
the possibility "that lives could have been lost". He said as the
administrator of the exchange control authority Gono's evidence left
everyone "wondering why the applicant was still in custody".
accused, it is argued, opened an account with Amalgamated Bank of South
Africa on February 20, 2002 with a deposit of £5 000 which amounted to R79
160 when converted.
He made another cash deposit of R175 000 on
December 23, followed by another R530 000 and another R275 430 on July
Samkange also said as explained by the witnesses, his client does
not need exchange control authority where the funds are "free funds in order
to make payment outside the country".
He said to determine
whether the funds are free funds or not was at the discretion of the banker,
adding that where the banker was satisfied that the funds were free that
would be the end of the matter.
"Since Dr Gono was satisfied that the
applicant held free funds it is therefore ridiculous for the state to
suggest without any basis that these are not free funds," he
"The evidence so far led clearly shows that the payments made
by the applicant in South Africa were from proceeds of his free funds. There
is no evidence to contradict this assertion."
On Friday last week
the state lodged an objection against the bail application saying that it
could not argue on its evidence.
Army takes over 'clean-up' Shakeman Mugari The
rebuilding exercise in the wake of the destructive "clean-up" campaign is
now a military operation after government enlisted the service of the
Although government announ-ced this week that a reconstruction
committee of nine ministries had been formed last Wednesday, it is
understood that the military is now actively involved in the
The decision to form an inter-ministerial committee was a
follow-up to a
meeting last Friday where army officers directed the
agenda. The urgent meeting, chaired by Major-General Amoth Chingombe, was
called to announce the takeover of the reconstruction plan by the Zimbabwe
Defence Forces (ZDF). Major-General Chingombe is understood to have told
those present that the army would now direct the operation.
is not the first time the army has been called in to lead civilian
activities. At the height of the 2002 drought the army took over the
importation of grain and distribution of food. The army was also actively
involved in the land redistribution programme.
The Prison Service
and the National Youth Service will provide building brigades but under the
direction of the army.
The first phase of the reconstruction being
carried out by building brigades is at Whitecliff farm on the western
outskirts of Harare. The capital is trying to put into motion a plan that
would quickly convert the destruction of shacks into a massive public works
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe officials and the permanent
secretary for Local Government Partson Mbiriri attended the meeting. There
were officials from the Ministry of Youth Development and from the Zimbabwe
Prison Service also present.
Sources say Chingombe asked the
Reserve Bank to provide the $1 trillion required for the reconstruction
package promised by government. They say the RBZ was given until the end of
this week to release the funds.
According to the plan, the army will
provide builders and carpenters from its engineering
Funds are required urgently to procure building
materials, especially bricks and cement.
Clean-up forces SPCA to kill animals Susan
Mateko THE Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) has been
forced to kill animals under its care in order to create room for hundreds
of animals left homeless by the government's ongoing clean-up campaign, the
Zimbabwe Independent has established.
The animals have been abandoned
by owners after police destroyed homes where the animals were being kept
while dozens of others have been surrendered to the SPCA by owners leaving
the cities for rural homes.
SPCA regional inspector for Matabeleland
region, Glynis Vaughan, told the Independent this week that her organisation
had run out of accommodation to house the many homeless domestic animals
abandoned by their fleeing owners.
Vaughan said her organisation
rescued dozens of domestic animals after the clean-up campaign hit
Bulawayo's residential areas two weeks ago.
"This is a huge tragedy,"
she said. "It's really, really sad. We had to put to sleep healthy dogs in
order to get room for new animals coming in from destroyed homes. As of now
we have put down four of the rescued dogs and seven other dogs that we were
keeping," Vaughan said.
She also added that her organisation's budget
had been stretched to the limit in the attempt to save and feed the
The SPCA is home to many homeless and sick
In Killarney suburb alone, the organisation managed to
rescue 211 different types of animal that include dogs, cats and chickens
that were abandoned after the owners' homes were razed by
With this sad scenario, the nation has been drawn back to the
fast-track land reform programme, which saw many domestic animals being left
to die due to starvation leading to the depletion of the national cattle
The Independent this week visited the SPCA premises along Khami
road where the crew was shown some of the dogs that were going to be "put
down" that afternoon.
Vaughan also said some of the sick domestic
animals that could be treated were also due to be put down in an attempt to
create room for animals coming into the centre.
"We are a
non-profit making charity organisation and the donations that we get can
sustain us for a minimum level of time. There is a strain on our budget
already due to this exercise," said Vaughan.
She also appealed to the
general public to make donations to the organisation since animals at the
centre faced starvation due to a limited budget.
appealing to the public for food and fuel for our rescue teams. We are also
appealing to the public to let us know of the animals left homeless by the
clean-up campaign," she said.
The SPCA team has been trailing the
police teams conducting the clean-up campaign in the suburbs in the hope of
saving those animals that are left behind after the homes are
The clean-up operation, which has left thousands of people
homeless, has been widely condemned both locally and
The United Nations this week appointed an envoy to
come and assess the clean-up operation.
Insult laws a gag on media - analysts Ray
Matikinye ZIMBABWE'S restrictive Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act (Aippa) in combination with insult laws have inhibited public
discussion and gagged media probes into shady deals by high-ranking
Experts say democracy and economic prosperity are not possible
without public accountability of its leaders and transparency in their
transactions, and vigorous public discussion of issues and
Insult laws are statutes that make it a criminal offense to
"insult" the honour or dignity of public officials. These statutes are used
as vehicles to prevent and punish journalistic scrutiny of public records
and official misdemeanours.
According to the World Press Freedom
Committee, insult laws are a form of criminal defamation deliberately aimed
at elevating officials, governments, national symbols and public
institutions from criticism and examination by the public and their eyes and
ears, the news media.
A proposed amendment before parliament under
the General Laws Amendment Bill seeks to increase the fine "for undermining
the authority of or insulting the president" from $20 000 to $400 000.
Public figures the world over are lampooned by the media, either out of
frustration or merely to provide comic relief in situations of economic or
political stress that citizens sometimes find themselves in. It is the price
politicians pay for their ambition and has the effect of bringing them down
to earth - once in a while.
Clause 15 of the Bill will amend a
section of Posa dealing with the media to give effect to the provisions of
the Criminal Penalties Amendment Act that imposes stiffer
In Zimbabwe authorities take exception to utterances and
gestures deemed to "insult the president". For instance, a lighting engineer
at a musical show was dragged to court for focusing the spotlight on a
portrait of President Mugabe when local musician Oliver Mtukudzi played the
crowd's favourite song Bvuma. The inference was that the lyrics poked fun at
President Mugabe, in power since Independence from Britain 25 years ago.
Another court set free a Chitungwiza commuter arrested for badmouthing the
president on his way to the city centre in reaction to transport
In tandem with an amendment introduced by the late
transport minister, Dr Swithun Mombeshora, to the Road Traffic Act, Zimbabwe
now views gesturing at the presidential motorcade an insult and a criminal
The amendment, some say, was meant to prevent the public
from waving at the presidential motorcade as doing so could be easily
misconstrued as taunting the head of state with the opposition MDC symbol of
an open palm.
Questions have been asked why nations resort to such
legislation and the reasons given have ranged from an alleged desire to
protect individuals' privacy, to protect national security and to simply
protect leaders' dignity.
Critics of insult laws say there are
numerous legal remedies already in existence, in civil libel and slander
legislation, to provide recourse for perceived defamation. In any case,
mockery is a constitutional right.
"Public officials deserve less,
not more protection from public commentary than ordinary citizens," the
World Press Freedom Committee says. "They have sought the notoriety involved
in serving the common weal through public office. And as such, they are the
servants of the public, not its masters."
Like insult laws,
defamation laws are a recourse for people whose reputations have been harmed
by unflattering or offensive statements.
There are, however, crucial
differences between the two offences.
Insult laws protect only public
figures. These can include individuals like a president, a king, members of
parliament, or institutions like the police, armed forces, or judicial
bodies. The protection also extends to national symbols like the flag or
coat of arms.
Insult laws, unlike defamation laws, can punish both
truthful statements and opinions. Truth is not a defence. Any statement that
harms a public official's reputation is actionable. This means that jokes,
cartoons, satire, among others, are all vulnerable to penalties under insult
That in turn will make Zimbabwe a more dangerous place for
journalists, civic activists and, indeed, ordinary commuters with a
RESPONDENTS to former Information minister Jonathan Moyo's
court challenge against Zanu PF's claimed "two-thirds majority" have
admitted the ruling party has no such a number of MPs in parliament, but
urged the court to dismiss the application, saying it had no legal
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, who made the claim that his
party commands a two-thirds majority in parliament in a memo to a Zanu PF
central committee meeting on May 27, said his assertion was a "political
statement solely for the benefit and preview" of that
Without dealing with issues raised, Chinamasa said Moyo's
application was "without cause and therefore should be dismissed with costs
on a higher scale".
Moyo recently challenged Zanu PF's claim of a
two-thirds majority - which ceased immediately after the application -
saying it was false and had grave implications for the rule of law and
constitutional governance. Chinamasa said his claim was not based on the
legal and factual position of the composition of parliament but was merely a
During the Zanu PF meeting in question,
Chinamasa said: "Zanu PF emerged from the elections commanding a two-thirds
majority in the House of Assembly". He broke down the purported "two-thirds"
showing that Zanu PF has 78 elected MPs, eight provincial governors, 12
non-constituency MPs, and 10 chiefs as part of its bloc of
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairman George Chiweshe
said the court could not make a declaratory order on a case not in dispute.
He said it was abundantly clear Zanu PF has no two-thirds majority in
"There is no dispute about that and therefore a court
cannot make a declarator (declaratory order) of such an issue which is
patently obvious," Chiweshe said.
"In any event this honourable
court will note that all the applicant has sought
in the notice of
motion is a declaration that statements contained in the annexures
(Chinamasa's memo and newspaper cuttings) attached to the application are
Chiweshe, who objected to being cited as a
respondent claiming the case had nothing to do with him, said Moyo had
"dismally failed" to set forth a right in contention and his case should be
dismissed. While dismissing Moyo's case he went on to try to build a defence
based on semantics.
"What the honourable minister (Chinamasa) has
said is that Zanu PF has emerged from the election commanding a two-thirds
majority in the House of Assembly," he said. "He did not say Zanu PF has a
two-thirds majority in the House of Assembly."
Sobusa Gula Ndebele said Chinamasa's memo was a "political statement and not
a legal statement". He said Moyo failed to specify which provisions of the
constitution and Electoral Act had been violated.
"The applicant is
misdirected concerning the issue of a two-thirds majority in parliament,"
Ndebele said. "The issue of mastering or commanding a two-thirds majority in
parliament is a question of fact, not law." - Staff Writers.
Demolitions: groups take case to UN Ray
Matikinye GOVERNMENT came under intense international pressure yesterday to
halt the demolition of what it deems illegal settlements as the operation
entered its fourth week.
A coalition of more than 2 000 African and
international human rights and civic groups launched an urgent joint appeal
at the United Nations and the African Union to help the people of Zimbabwe
as the humanitarian crisis in the country deteriorates by the
The joint appeal is being coordinated by Amnesty International
together with Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. It was presented to the UN
in New York this week.
Other organisations involved include the
Inter Africa Network for Human Rights (Afronet), the Housing and Land Rights
Network of the Habitat International Coalition, the International Bar
Association's Human Rights Institute, the International Crisis Group and the
International Commission of Jurists (ICJ).
"The African Union and
the relevant bodies of the United Nations including the High Commissioner
for Human Rights and the Security Council cannot fail to act in the face of
such gross and widespread human rights violations and appalling human
misery," a statement issued by the civic groups says.
Civic and human
rights organisations in 24 other African countries have joined the growing
chorus of outrage over the nationwide clean-up operation initiated by the
government. The groups have thrown their weight behind efforts to press the
UN and AU to take "immediate and effective action consistent with their
mandates" to ensure an end to forced evictions and destruction of
livelihoods in Zimbabwe.
They have called on the Zimbabwe government
to ensure that all those who are currently homeless as a result of the mass
forced evictions have immediate emergency relief. Government should ensure
that those affected have the rights to justice, appropriate reparations,
restitution, rehabilitation and compensation, they said. Evictees should
also be given guarantees on non-repetition.
At a press conference
in Harare, director of the national association of non-governmental
organisations (Nango), Jonah Mudehwe, said similar events had been lined up
in five African countries and at the UN to bring world attention to the
disaster unfolding in Zimbabwe. The appeals were launched simultaneously in
Lagos, Johannesburg, Cairo, Windhoek and Harare.
Tens of thousands of
ordinary people have been left sleeping on the streets next to the rubble of
their destroyed homes following a three-week demolition blitz carried out at
the behest of the government.Under international pressure to halt the
evictions, President Robert Mugabe has allowed UN secretary-general Kofi
Annan's special envoy to come and assess the on-going demolitions and the
scope of evictions of "illegal" settlers.
According to UNDP public
affairs and advocacy officer in Zimbabwe, Katherine Anderson, Anna Kagumulo
Tibaijuka, the executive director of UN Habitat, will visit Zimbabwe to
assess the government-initiated demolitions.
Mugabe allowed Tibaijuka
to come after pressure from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan who expressed
anxiety over the mass evictions which displaced more than 300 000 households
in urban centres under the pretext of cleaning up filth built up over the
years. Illegal settlements - some of them with overt approval of government
ministers - have mushroomed around cities and towns in recent
Although government has promised to relocate displaced
families, last week it failed to launch a promised $1 trillion programme to
house the evictees. Government has instead published a list of new
beneficiaries of residential stands.
Mugabe urged to set up more camps Augustine
Mukaro HUMANITARIAN organisations are imploring President Robert Mugabe to
stop the controversial "Operation Restore Order" and set up additional
transit camps similar to Caledonia Farm to provide assistance for displaced
Caledonia Farm transit camp now holds more than 3 000 victims
of the clean-up campaign and has become overcrowded with new arrivals,
raising fears of disease outbreaks. Diplomats who have been lobbying
government to halt the operation said more transit camps were needed to
house evictees displaced from Harare's dormitory town of Chitungwiza and the
sprawling Epworth township.
"Homeless people continue coming to
Caledonia but there is no more room," diplomatic sources said adding that
humanitarian organisations had submitted proposals for another transit camp
to cater for thousands of homeless.
The United Nations estimates up
to 1,5 million people have been rendered homeless over the past four weeks
following the launch of "Operation Murambatsvina".
The UN and
other humanitarian organisations including churches are already providing
services at Caledonia but according to the Catholic Commission for Justice
and Peace (CCJP), government is not keen to admit it does not have the
capacity to provide for the homeless and that it needs outside
"Government appears jealous of the church's efforts to
alleviate the plight of displaced people and they seem to say that what we
are doing runs counter to their operation," a CCJP official, Alois Chaumba,
A US spokesman in Harare said his government through the United
States Agency for International Development (USAid)'s Office of Foreign
Disaster Assistance, had already made available US$1,1 million in aid. The
money is administered by the International Organisation for Migration which
is coordinating the humanitarian response efforts.
called for the operation to cease and we are working with others in the
international community to provide relief for the operation's victims," the
Monetary Fund, currently in the country this week, met with officials from
the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) and the Ministry of Energy and
learnt that Zimbabwe had no plan in place to save the country from the
crippling fuel shortage.
Zimbabwe does not currently have any fuel in
reserve as the shortages have continued to bite. This week fuel retailers
said the country was experiencing its worst-ever fuel crisis with only a few
service stations in Harare getting the commodity. There was virtually no
fuel in smaller towns.
The impact of the shortages were also manifest
during peak hours as many public transport operators have parked their
vehicles due to the stockout.
Sources close to the meeting between
the IMF team and Noczim and government officials said the visitors were
shocked by the current state of affairs. Worse still the Zimbabwean team
appeared to have no solution to hand.
Sources in the fuel sector last
night said the movement of fuel into the country had been further adversely
affected by Noczim's failure to pay Mozambican company CPMZ for pumping fuel
from Beira to Feruka in May. The sources said as a result of the debt, CPMZ
was refusing to pump eight million of diesel to Mutare from
This comes amid market speculation that the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe had mandated banks to use whatever means possible to procure
foreign currency for fuel imports.
RBZ governor Gideon Gono
yesterday could not discuss the foreign currency issue but said a solution
to the fuel problem was in sight. He however warned that more hard currency
was required to procure fuel following the upward movement of prices on the
"We have been saying that the country required
US$40 million a month for fuel but prices have been going up to US$60 a
barrel," said Gono.
"If there is no realignment of the new prices and
the foreign currency allocations we will continue to lag behind," he said.
This means Zimbabwe now requires more than US$40 million a month for
The country has been badly affected by the increase in the
price of crude since the little fuel that has been coming into the country
is procured in an over-the-counter arrangement. Zimbabwe cannot obtain lines
of credit due to the country's high risk factor. - Staff Writer.
THE Botswana government
says the controversial electric fence along its border with Zimbabwe is set
to be completed by the end of August.
The electrification of the fence
will come as a blow to thousands of Zimbabweans who cross the border
illegally on a weekly basis to buy wares to sell back home.
Botswana government says the fence is meant to curb the movement of cattle
affected by the foot and mouth disease while Zimbabwean authorities accuse
Botswana of attempting to build a "Gaza Strip" in Africa
government says it has so far completed the construction of 400 kilometres
of the expected 500-kilometre fence. - Staff Writer.
Forex crisis stifles business growth Godfrey
Marawanyika ZIMBABWEAN businesses did not record any significant growth over
the past six months largely because of the unavailability of foreign
currency and poor pricing strategies, a study by the Zimbabwe National
Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) has revealed.
The study revealed that 80%
of organisations interviewed had not realised any business growth from the
"From the 80%, 70% also indicated that they had not
even realised any business growth from the previous six months. (At least)
10% out of that 80% have realised a marginal growth from the previous six
months," ZNCC said.
"(About) 90% said they are optimistic about the
economy. Only about 70% out of those 90% are optimistic about their
business. This is in line with the constraints which they are facing. Most
of the business people indicated that the rate at which the economic issues
are being addressed is far below the rate at which their companies are going
down. That's making them become pessimistic about their
Over the past six months, business viability has been
greatly compromised by lack of foreign currency and fuel
The foreign currency auction system is unable to meet
A number of businesses are on the verge of closing down because
they cannot access foreign currency, whilst others have been forced to
reduce their staff.
Most of the companies are operating below
capacity, thus increasing unit costs.
The ZNCC said current
capacity utilisation in most companies was in a range of
"The major constraint encountered by most companies is the
unavailability of foreign currency. This is followed by the unavailability
of fuel, then thirdly pricing strategies," ZNCC said.
rates, taxation and the unavailability of electricity were among other
constraints faced by companies.
The survey covered the manufacturing,
retail and marketing sectors.
The ZNCC said most business people were
citing the issue of foreign currency as a major problem, which they noted
would take time to improve.
"They (business community) also alluded
that the agriculture sector was not growing as forecast. This (agriculture)
is the source of raw materials."
Some indicated that corruption
should be addressed with seriousness and with immediate
On the clean-up campaign, the survey said that most of the
firms were not affected largely because they are big and established but
concerns were raised on the issue of accommodation for the affected workers
adding that alternatives should be provided for those affected.
Workers suffer serious stress, hardships: study Eric
Chiriga ZIMBABWEAN workers, particularly low-level employees, are going
through serious stress and hardships due to the prolonged economic downturn.
A survey of personnel managers and directors carried out by Human Resources
(Pvt) Ltd this month reveals that Zimbabwe's working populace is struggling
under myriad problems and anxiety emanating from the ailing
"Extreme levels of difficulty and stress are apparently being
experienced both amongst managers and low-level employees," David Harrison,
a director at Human Resources, said.
Harrison cited foreign
currency shortages, high inflation and other wide-ranging problems, as some
of the factors heightening uncertainty over business
"The major problems listed by those interviewed include
worries about company viability in the absence of foreign currency and in
the face of continuing inflation and difficulties in negotiation with
employees and their representatives," Harrison said.
have been demanding salary and wages increases in light of the high
Zimbabwe's inflation, which reached a record 620% in
January last year before declining to 122%, has begun rising again and now
stands at 144,4%.
However, Harrison said many respondents felt that
demands for higher
wages threatened business viability while employees
didn't see higher wage levels as posing a threat to jobs through company
Local companies are facing serious viability problems
mainly due to the shortage of foreign currency to import raw materials, the
high cost of borrowing and skyrocketing operational costs like electricity
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's foreign currency auction is
equally starved, resulting in a high rejection rate for bids.
auction can only allot a weekly amount of US$11 million, way below the
required amount of more than US$100 million.
contrary to the day-to-day conversations with human resources professionals,
Aids-related issues were mentioned by approximately 80% of those
"We are not allowed to tell people when we know they
have Aids," human
resources managers who were interviewed
They said absenteeism from work was frequent and understandable
but very costly for companies.
During the survey, problems
arising from manpower shortages were frequently mentioned.
number of Zimbabwe' s skilled manpower have left the country for greener
greener pastures in neighbouring countries and mostly the United
"A huge number of needed persons have been attracted by
greater security and better lifestyles in South Africa and further a field.
Zimbabwe employees tend to be popular in other countries," the interviewed
"We have much difficulty in finding accountants,
technically skilled persons and surprisingly junior managers with suitable
Forex crisis saps beer supplier dry Eric
Chiriga BEVERAGES manufacturer and distributor, Delta Corporation Ltd, says
the shortage of soft drinks and beer is due to lack of crowns (bottle tops),
carbon dioxide and concentrates.
The company said it is unable to
access foreign currency to import these raw materials, which are used in the
manufacturing of beverages.
"The current shortage of beverages is a
result of the shortage of imported raw materials," George Mutendadzamera,
the corporate affairs executive of Delta, said.
"The country is
experiencing a shortage of foreign currency and this has had a negative
impact on all businesses that require imported raw materials,"
The crowns are supplied by the sole
manufacturer in Zimbabwe, CarnaudMetalbox Zimbabwe Ltd.
is said to be failing to access foreign currency to import raw materials
used in the manufacture of the crowns.
Ian Randall, the general
manager of Carnaud, could not be reached for comment as he was said to be
out of office until Monday.
However, Mutendadzamera refused to
disclose the strategies the company is implementing to overcome the problem
and meet market demand.
"We are working with relevant stakeholders to
stabilise the situation," Mutendadzamera said.
The shortage of
foreign currency in the country has crippled the manufacturing
The government introduced the foreign currency auction system
in a bid to get rid of the parallel market, where the foreign currency is
The disparity between the auction rate and the
parallel market rate has continued to widen with the Zimbabwe dollar now
trading at US$1: $20 000 and GBP1: $40 000 on the parallel
ONE of the country's flagship
hotels in Kariba, Lake View Sun, will be shutting down all operations with
effect from Friday next week.
Lake View is owned by the Zimbabwe Sun
Low guest volumes to the Kariba area have necessitated
the closure, because of unsustainable business.
remain committed to Kariba as a destination as we continue operating one of
our finest hotels in the area, the Caribbea Bay Sun.
Caribbea Bay Sun
will be able to absorb the current depressed volumes," said the Zimsun
Leisure Group chief executive officer, Shingi Munyeza.
time of closure, we shall take the opportunity to carry out refurbishments
to the property so that we position it competitively for any future boom in
tourism. Our closure will not affect our staff who were working at the hotel
at the time, as they will all be absorbed by sister hotels within our
group," said Munyeza.
In addition to low tourist volumes, operations
in the industry have also been greatly affected by the prevailing fuel
problems. - Staff Reporter.
Zim's domestic debt soars to $10 trillion Godfrey
Marawanyika ZIMBABWE'S domestic debt has ballooned to $10 trillion from $7
trillion as of April this year as government continues to borrow from local
banks to finance its budget deficit.
Latest figures from the Reserve
Bank also show that broad money supply (M3) growth increased from 219,4% in
November last year to 222,6% in December.
The increase was against a
background of steady deceleration in M3 growth for most of last year from a
peak of 490,9% recorded in January.
M3 refers to the sum of notes and
coins in circulation plus demand, savings and time deposits with the banking
system. Over the past two months, the market has been experiencing daily
average shortages of $920,7 billion.
This year the country is
expected to record gross domestic product rate of 2-2,5%, down from the
initial forecast of 3-5%.
The revised decline in GDP has been blamed
on poor performance in the agricultural sector.
GDP is one of the
key factors in measuring a nation's economic performance.
past four years, major contributors towards GDP growth, namely mining,
agriculture, tourism and manufacturing, have been in a freefall since
government embarked on the ill-planned land reform programme.
manufacturing sector has declined by more than 35%. The critical situation
can only make things worse. Tobacco production, once the country's major
foreign currency earner, has gone down by nearly 60%.
Tourism at its
peak contributed 6,5% towards GDP while agriculture and manufacturing,
contributed 16% and 18% respectively.
Zimbabwe is in its sixth year
of economic recession, which was largely caused by the 2000 farm and company
The company invasions led to the resignation of former
Industry and International Trade minister Nkosana Moyo.
Why economic reforms are in danger Godfrey
Marawanyika THE much-vaunted economic turnaround programme rooted in the
recent monetary policy statement is in serious danger of losing direction as
a host of problems militate against its success.
A worsening fuel
crisis has become the single largest threat to any efforts to transform the
economy from its current parlous state as industry and commerce are slowly
but surely grinding to a halt.
The long-standing fuel crisis alone
has serious repercussions for a country which is battling to survive rapid
In addition, the spectre of increased company
closures, unemployment, rising inflation and low production in the key
manufacturing sector, where many companies are reportedly operating at less
than 20% capacity, has put great pressure on the turnaround programme's
What is even more worrying is the fuel crisis's impact on
productivity. Key workers are being forced to spend hours on end in fuel
queues, man-hours that cannot be recovered, with a consequent impact on
companies' ability to produce goods and services and meet profit and
Staff are spending many working days searching for
fuel, meaning that the rate of absenteeism at work as people queue for fuel
is rising daily.
On the other hand, workers are either coming to work
late or leaving for home early, because public transport has been paralysed
by the fuel shortage.
Zimbabwe is in a serious danger of closing
shop unless the authorities do something drastic to ensure a steady delivery
of fuel countrywide.
Even sub-sectors such as tourism, which are
expected to be vehicles of much-needed foreign currency, will find it
extremely challenging to meet targets as domestic tourism will soon grind to
a halt. Both tourists and locals are unable to travel to resort areas due to
the fuel crisis.
Industrialists say while the recent measures to
funnel money to exporters at concessionary rates of 5% have been welcome,
analysts believe that without a commensurate increase in foreign currency
allocation this additional support will not yield any immediate
Local companies are in desperate need of foreign currency,
not local currency, to import essential inputs, raw materials and spares to
enable them expand and increase output.
And critics of the
monetary policy review have questioned when the country will generate enough
foreign currency to enable industry to import essential inputs, increase
output and the supply of goods on the local market.
inflation continues to be a major threat to any measures to stabilise the
A few pointers illustrate how difficult
it will be to contain an inflationary spiral: The unbudgeted fiscal
expenditure on an expanded cabinet and the accompanying civil servants will
mean government has either to borrow from the central bank or money market,
or simply print more money.
Wage and salary increases expected to be
effected from July 1 as well as increases in tariffs by state utilities such
as Zesa will add to the inflationary cycle.
The recent increase
in food prices, sanctioned by the government after talks with producers, is
yet to filter through the inflation numbers. And if and when the government
allows even a marginal increase in the fuel price - which is long overdue -
inflation will further rise.
The government continues to pay lip
service to efforts to streamline expenditure and deal with major policy
issues that need to be addressed to solve the economic crisis in
But there is no evidence of commitment. Parastatal reform
is still to be implemented as there is no sign that government has wielded
the axe on non-performing executives of companies that continue to operate
A case in point being the mismanagement at the national airline
where an aircraft is allowed to fly more than 6 000km with a single
passenger. The National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) continues to wobble on
the rails, while the state fixed telephone operator is failing to meet
demand. The Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company has yet to attract serious
investors willing to recapitalise the company, and the national oil company
has failed to ensure a steady supply of fuel to the
Much-talked-about turnaround plans at Air Zimbabwe and NRZ
have yet to see the light of day despite several public statements of intent
from the parent ministry.
Unless the country reaches some
understanding with multilateral lenders, it will not experience any
significant inflows of hard currency. Given fiscal delinquency, there is no
hope that the IMF, which has a high-powered team in the country at present,
will give Zimbabwe a respite over its arrears.
Indications are that the
country will be given yet another chance to redeem itself and in the process
delay further its re-admission to the international fold.
natural consequence of the crisis in Zimbabwe is slowly having a negative
effect on investor perceptions of the region. Nervous investors might shy
away from the region because of the contagion effect of the economic and
political crisis in Zimbabwe.
Many believe that the central bank
governor has good intentions to revive the economy and steer it towards a
sustainable growth path. The unfolding tragedy however is that he
desperately needs support from the government to ensure the successful
implementation of his policies. That support seems to be
Public support of the governor's policies by the government
is not matched by practical measures to ensure the country overcomes the
If anything, the conclusion many people are
reaching is that the governor is now a lone voice in the fiscal
No amount of lofty ideas and promises of trillions of
local currency for companies, parastatals and city councils will mask the
fact that the government seems to have run out of ideas on how to salvage
the little that is left of Zimbabwe's economic future.
corruption trial of South African mogul Schabir Shaik, whose fallout
eventually led to the sacking of deputy president Jacob Zuma, carries
important lessons for Zimbabwe.
This is particularly so at this time
because of government's hype about its anti-corruption
South African President Thabo Mbeki did not hesitate to fire
Zuma even though he had not been charged and convicted of corruption. Mbeki
was not deterred by Zuma's political support in the ruling African National
Mbeki's point was that by being implicated in corruption,
Zuma had undermined his constitutional mandate and should go. In firing
Zuma, Mbeki raised two important points about the need to respect the
constitution and the judiciary, one of the key pillars of
This is the test the Zimbabwe government will face in its
anti-corruption crusade. It will distinguish between paying lip service to
fighting corruption and real commitment to tackling graft.
Robert Mugabe recently announced that government would soon establish an
anti-corruption commission to deal with the problem which he said was
distorting the economy.
Minister of State for Anti-Corruption and
Anti-Monopolies Paul Mangwana last week said his ministry had received $300
billion to fight corruption.
"We have asked for funds from treasury and
this provision, which was made in the last budget, is in the Office of the
President and Cabinet," Mangwana said.
However, analysts are
sceptical about the commission and whether the multi-billion-dollar grant
will help curb corruption - now deeply ingrained in Zimbabwean society. They
say if Mugabe wants to fight corruption he must be bold enough to do it the
Mbeki way - put the constitution and government integrity ahead of
The analysts say splashing billions of the taxpayer's money and
setting up a commission will do little to stop corruption unless there is
sufficient political will.
They say rather than money, the war on
corruption first and foremost needs political will, independent
investigation and judicial structures and an adherence to the rule of
Human rights lawyer Arnold Tsunga said it would be difficult for
government to fight graft when it was infested with so much patronage. He
said it was impossible to fight corruption when there was so much
centralisation of political power without checks and
"Centralisation of power breeds patronage," said Tsunga.
"Patronage increases corruption. Unfortunately that is exactly the case with
Tsunga said because of power centralisation, Mugabe
was no longer answerable to anyone but himself.
"Because Mugabe is
all-powerful, if ministers want protection for their corrupt deeds they
align themselves to him.
"It's the politics of patronage. It's because of
systemic failure that we are neck-deep in corruption and cannot find a way
out," he said.
He said an anti-corruption campaign would be effective in
a situation where an independent and strong judiciary exists, which Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe's 25-year history is full of rampant cases of
corruption that have been brushed aside to protect senior government
officials despite overwhelming evidence to nail them.
Education minister Aeneas Chigwedere's son wrecked a government vehicle that
cost treasury $119 million to repair. Chigwedere did not report the matter
to police but filled in a government accident report form purporting to have
been the driver of the vehicle. Despite Chigwedere's own admission in a
letter, no police investigation has been launched.
Mugabe has in the past
been equally reluctant to punish corrupt ministers and government officials.
The Zanu PF leadership code designed soon after Independence to deter
over-accumulation of property by the party leadership never worked. It was
conveniently jettisoned as ministers scrambled to amass
Mugabe himself confirmed that he was not interested in the
code when he blew a chance to prove his commitment to stamping out graft in
1988 after the infamous Willowgate scandal was unearthed.
ministers would buy vehicles from Willowvale Motor Industries at
government-subsidised prices and then sell them at exorbitant prices on the
Mugabe pardoned those implicated, including Fredrick
Shava, a cabinet minister who had been convicted. Shava was convicted
mid-morning and pardoned a few hours later. Other ministers implicated were
later recycled in government. None of the people implicated in the scandal
went to prison.
Edgar Tekere was later expelled from the party for
speaking out against corruption.
Ten years later Mugabe also allowed
senior government officials to go scot-free after looting the War Victims'
Compensation Fund in 1997. Reward Marufu, brother to first lady Grace
Mugabe, and senior government officials helped themselves to funds meant to
benefit genuine victims of the liberation struggle.
Marufu's claim of
$800 000, a huge amount at that time, was probably the highest payout.
Instead of being arraigned for corruption, Marufu was rewarded with a
diplomatic posting to Canada, from where government was later forced to
recall him after he was implicated in a child abuse scandal.
number of ministers at that time benefited after making exaggerated claims
but were not charged. Vice-president Joice Mujuru is the only top-ranking
official who returned the money after being found to have made an inflated
Government officials who lied that they were almost 100%
incapacitated continued to work in government, the army and
In 1998 Mugabe's cronies were at is again in the VIP Housing
scandal, dipping their fingers into funds accrued from individual
home-seekers' contributions. Mugabe's wife Grace was among those implicated.
She used the funds to build the Gracelands mansion which she later sold at a
Senior police and army officers were also named in the scandal,
even though none of the beneficiaries were charged nor was anyone asked to
reimburse what they had taken.
Five years into the land
redistribution programme, Mugabe is still wringing his hands in sheer
frustration over his henchmen who took more than a fair share of the land
and still cling to it. Mugabe has in the past threatened to name and shame
top officials who seized farms in the chaotic land reform. The nation is
still waiting for him to act.
These cases lend credence to those who
doubt Mugabe's commitment to root out graft. They say he has dismally failed
in the past.
Economist and MDC finance spokeman Tapiwa Mashakada said
government was merely posturing because it was not committed to fighting
corruption - especially from within itself.
"So many commissions have
been set up and nothing as been achieved. These commissions work effectively
if they are truly independent, not appointees answerable to the president,"
He said autonomous commissions should have the support of
a strong and independent judiciary.
Where are Zim's moral leaders? IN the past two weeks
our newspaper received two communications emanating from two very different
ends of the social spectrum but which in their different ways explain the
malaise afflicting Zimbabwe today.
One was from Nestlé Zimbabwe, the
second a complaint by Sister Patricia Walsh concerning publication of her
account of the excesses of Operation Murambatsvina in the
In a story we carried in this paper two weeks ago, we quoted
Nestlé Southern and Eastern Africa CEO Yves Manghardt as saying "our Harare
factory was unfortunately receiving only five million litres of fresh milk
per year instead of the 12 million litres it had been processing a few years
We ascribed the drastic supply reduction to farm invasions since
2000. Nestlé Zimbabwe's finance director, F Munetsi, protested in a letter
last week that his CEO had not attributed the milk shortage to farm
invasions. He didn't say what the cause was of the fall in supplies from 12
million to five million litres or the period covered by "a few years ago".
All we did was to put the statement in its political and economic
Sister Patricia chided the Standard for using what she claimed
was a personal message confined to family and friends which she posted on
the Internet bemoaning the agonies caused by government's brutal clean-up
campaign across the country. One would expect her to respect her conscience
instead of trying to save her skin by propitiating tyranny. It may be a bit
harsh to say Sister Patricia disowned her testimony in the way Peter denied
Jesus, but it did look a bit like that!
There are few better examples
of corporate cowardice than this: a large international company so terrified
that President Mugabe may take offence by having his "land reform"
characterised as damaging that it writes letters denying a self-evident
Munetsi and Sister Walsh may not be the best examples but they
typify all that is sick with this country: disingenuous apologia from the
corporate and religious leadership that lack the moral courage to speak out
against an errant political establishment preying wantonly on the weakness
of a people it is its mandate to protect.
For many years business
leaders have neglected their duty to position the private sector as the
engine for growth that it is supposed to be. While they are voluble about
what is wrong politically in the privacy of their clubs and bars, they dare
not come out in the open when conscience and duty call upon them to do so.
Their common ailment is called fear.
Many a time we have been shocked to
hear business leaders singing Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon
Gono's praises for his monetary policies. Not that we wish anyone to lay
gratuitous blame on Gono for the failure of his measures. But business
should be courageous enough to tell Gono to his face that his policies will
not produce magical results in the teeth of dogged sabotage by Mugabe's
economically illiterate government. There is such sharp discord between his
policy measures and Mugabe's extractive philosophy that the best Gono can do
is to resign if he can't get the necessary political support for, contrary
to his coy diagnosis, bad politics, not inflation, is Zimbabwe's public
enemy number one.
So long as your company operates in Zimbabwe it is your
duty, your moral obligation to speak out against policies that obstruct the
nation's progress. Zimbabwe is crying out for leaders who feel the bidding
of destiny to get the country out of the current morass; leaders who when
they think of Zimbabwe tomorrow don't look at Somalia or Sierra Leone but
can dream of rivalling Taiwan or South Korea.
There are also those
who think nothing can be done to change Mugabe. Which might be true. But
Mugabe is not Zimbabwe. Those who have business and political clout should
be talking to those likely to assume the mantle after Mugabe is gone to
chart the way forward. We should be looking beyond Mugabe and his
increasingly irrelevant war with Zimbabwe's colonial past.
has already rejected as external imposts the requirements of Nepad and its
peer review mechanism which is viewed as indispensable to Africa's
renaissance. Internally, Mugabe has inflicted the most devastating damage on
the country's once vibrant agriculture and drained the nation of its human
capital through the frustrated exodus of skilled personnel.
governance is not in his vocabulary. He has done everything to make it
impossible for Zimbabwe to benefit from the goodwill of rich countries that
have committed themselves to cancel poor African countries'
Zimbabwe will not be among such lucky nations as resolutions are
taken at the G8 summit at Gleneagles, Scotland, next month. Yet the country
needs every penny it can save to fight HIV and Aids, rebuild schools and
hospitals and rehabilitate agriculture and industry. The future of this
country does not rest with Mugabe anymore.
So where is Zimbabwe's
Moses to lead his people out of captivity? How many more plagues must we
endure before the day of deliverance? Where are the moral leaders to speak
for the poor, the helpless and destitute?
Catastrophic measures in
pipeline NOT surprisingly, the state-owned press has been ecstatically
enthusing over the heavy emphasis of the current parliamentary session upon
matters economic, as outlined by President Mugabe when he addressed the
session's official opening two weeks ago.
His address did demonstrate
that there are many economic issues that critically need attention.
Unfortunately, as focused upon in this column last week, and although some
of the measures to be introduced by parliament are positive, many of them
are catastrophically negative or based upon unrealistic
Space constraints precluded all being commented upon in that
column, and yet some comment is necessary, in the vain hope that when the
parliamentarians deliberate, they do so founded upon the actualities of the
Zimbabwean economic environment, instead of upon wishful thinking or upon
Very correctly recognising that exports are, in many
respects, the life-blood of the economy, for they must provide the bulk of
Zimbabwe's foreign currency needs, the president said that "negotiations
aimed at improving the flow of Zimbabwe's exports to countries in the region
and the Far East will continue".
Without in any way deprecating the
importance of achieving exports to the Far East, Zimbabwe should not place
such great emphasis on those exports as distract from stimulating exports
The most urgent need is to advance the negotiations intended,
according to the president, to impact favourably upon regional exports, for
export growth can most rapidly be achieved if targeted at markets closer to
First and foremost, government must prevail upon Zambia to
discontinue that which is tantamount to a trade sanction upon Zimbabwe.
Despite many and prolonged representations, Zambia persists in applying a
unilaterally determined exchange rate to the Zimbabwe dollar, for purposes
of determining the value of imports from Zimbabwe for the assessment of
Value Added Tax (Vat). That rate has consistently been almost double the
official exchange rate, and is justified by the Zambians by alleging that
Zimbabwean import content of the relevant goods is financed through the
This Zambian policy does not help Zambia, for it merely
motivates the Zambian importers to source their requirements from South
Africa, or elsewhere, but it deprives Zimbabwe of access to the Zambian
If Zambia continues to be intractable on this issue, Zimbabwe
should resort to an appropriate, reciprocal, sanction.
the president veered away from his previously expressed view that Zimbabwe
should concentrate almost exclusively upon trade, and other economic
relations, with the Far East. (It's only two months ago that he said
Zimbabwe must look East, for that is where the sun rises, rather than to the
West, where it sets.)
Still referring to export generation, he said that
"at the multilateral level, government will use the platform of the African,
Caribbean, Pacific-European Union (ACP/EU) co-operation framework to
negotiate the establishment of new trading arrangements with the European
Union by 2008. "This is a more positive stance than Zimbabwe has taken for
sometime but, nevertheless, it is too constrained. Zimbabwe produces, or can
produce, many commodities and products that would be saleable to USA,
Canada, Australia, countries in West and North Africa, and in South America
as well as to the countries within the southern Africa region and in the
European Union (EU). There needs to be a concentrated, on-going promotion of
trade with all, instead of an emphasis upon the Far East, and on a distant
target to penetrate the EU.
On the other hand, Zimbabwe continues to
delude itself as to its tourism industry. The president told parliament that
"notwithstanding the repeated attempts to insulate the country, our tourism
sector continues to show signs of strong recovery".
circumstances are markedly different. The first quarter of 2005 had a lesser
inflow of tourists than the equivalent period of 2004, even if the
department of immigration figures suggest otherwise.
include cross-border traders, one day trippers, back-backers, caravaners,
campers and those availed of private accommodation, but the tourism industry
depends mainly upon hotel patronage with over-nights stays.
also repeated the oft-stated contention that "granting of Approved
Destination Status by the People's Republic of China provides opportunities
for further growth". That is correct, but solely because the present extent
of tourist arrivals from China is minimal (approximately 29 000 during the
whole of 2004!) whereas the tourism industry is geared to handle over two
million international tourists per annum. But the prospects of major
increases in arrivals from China are slim. Chinese tourists' first
destination preferences are Europe and the USA, not Southern
In addition, the Chinese are as much influenced by Zimbabwe's
abysmal international image as are the populace of other countries. Zimbabwe
needs to polish up its image (but certainly is not doing so at present.
Instead, it is worsening the image further, with inhumane actions such as
"Operation Clean-up", carried out with grossly excessive authoritarianism,
violence, abuse of law by the so-called enforcers of law and many instances
of Gestapo-like bestiality).
Zimbabwe is faced with a rapidly
intensifying energy crisis due to an ageing and inadequate energy-generation
infrastructure. Recognising this, the president said that "several
initiatives to attract investors in the development of both existing and new
power generation projects as well as alternative forms of energy are being
pursued, especially within the context of the 'Look East'
Those initiatives are overdue, and very necessary, but Zimbabwe
should not allow its present infatuation with the Far East in general, and
with China in particular, to blind it from the possibilities of attracting
investors and technology transferral from other parts of the world,
including Europe and South Africa.
THINGS must be going really awry for Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Muckraker understands the Minister of Rural Housing and Amenities was last
week vaingloriously trying to make himself relevant in the rural backwaters
where President Mugabe has banished him. He told a gathering in Zvishavane
that he was Mugabe's eminent messenger sent to deliver development in the
form of roads and houses for teachers and traditional leaders. He said the
Midlands would be the first beneficiary of this presidential
We indeed do hope that people will now believe him. But
the chances are very slim. Many people must still be nursing lingering
suspicions about the man who was the Minister for State Security during that
dark period of our history when government literally went mad, killing close
to 20 000 people and maiming thousands of others in both the Midlands and
Matabeleland provinces for challenging Mugabe's rule. For that he has not
been forgiven. Twice the people of the Midlands have defiantly rejected him
in parliamentary elections.
Even after he claimed to have been
born again, still people did not believe nor forgive him. Why does he now
think they will when his master has cast him into the bush? Let's wait and
see if the guy can reinvent himself again, for a rural constituency this
By the way is this Mugabe saviour going to cast a
blessed eye over Mnene Hospital, the only referral hospital in Mberengwa
district, now threatened with closure? There is no water courtesy of
Operation Murambatsvina (sorry Cyclone Eline) and no qualified doctors or
nurses courtesy of violence and lack of development that have made the place
inhospitable. Ever since the Swedish benefactors ceded control after
Independence, things have never been well at all their institutions in the
district and beyond in Manama in Matabeleland South. Yet year in, year out
the people of Mberengwa have been fooled or been bludgeoned into voting for
Zanu PF. And the MPs move around without any sense of shame when they see
the development others have brought to their constituencies. Let's see what
Mnangagwa has to offer to make himself relevant.
several weeks of state-sponsored mayhem in the high-density suburbs, we
learn that the government has reluctantly agreed to admit a UN observer
mission to assess what is euphemistically called the "clean-up"
The government says it is addressing "general
lawlessness". But the Urban Councils Act requires the authorities to first
notify the owner and the occupier of any land or building against which
action is contemplated regarding what steps are to be taken against them.
The owner/occupier then has 28 days to appeal to the Administrative Court
during which time the authorities are not permitted to proceed.
Is that what is happening now? Or like land "reform", are we seeing
arbitrary and illegal behaviour by the state?
we read, has "allayed" Kofi Annan's fears regarding Operation Murambatsvina.
No Zimbabwean would be prejudiced, he told the UN secretary-general as tens
of thousands remain homeless. Just as no Zimbabwean was prejudiced during
land reform, we suppose?
We recall Mugabe's assurances that every
farmer who wanted to farm would be able to do so and that commercial farmers
had nothing to fear, the government just wanted them to share the land.
Every farmer would be left with one property on which to farm, they were
Let's hope former UNDP chief Mark Malloch-Brown reminds
Annan of the record of assurances from Mugabe. And Annan will not be
deceived by the silly claim by the president that similar operations were
being undertaken in the UK, South Africa and Kenya. The difference in those
countries is that slum clearances are properly planned and alternative
provision is made for those losing their homes. They are not left homeless
in the cold. Is Mugabe seriously suggesting that in Britain local
authorities tear down people's homes while the victims looks helplessly
Somebody describing himself as "a correspondent" was last
weekend holding forth in the Sunday Mail about privacy, ethics, and human
rights - all the things the Sunday Mail is least qualified to talk about!
This was in reference to a letter by Sister Patricia Walsh concerning the
excesses of Operation Murambatsvina which she had disseminated via e-mail
and which the Standard published.
Carried away by his own role
as an Internet policeman, lecturing the media on what it can and can't use,
the writer melodramatically warned of the dangers of "cyber terrorism" and
quoted Information ministry acting permanent secretary Ivanhoe Gurira as
asking: "Are we safe using the Internet?"
Sister Patricia had
naively stirred this seething cauldron by scolding the Standard for using
the article when it was supposedly a personal message confined to family and
Why then did she not object when it was published widely
on the Internet and in the Daily Telegraph of June 3 in the week preceding
the Standard's reproduction of it? And why, if it was confined to family and
friends, does it attempt to conceal the real names of victims in the way
that newspaper reports do?
The Sunday Mail's indignant
correspondent warns darkly of the case being one for the Media and
Information Commission to ponder, as if that sinister outfit is capable of
regulating the Internet as well as the Zimbabwean media. He suggests it has
left "a dent in the efforts by the new powers at the helm of the Ministry of
Information, Dr Tichaona Jokonya and Cde Bright Matonga, to harmonise
relations between the ministry and a polarised media
That provides a clue as to which dark corner this
particular Sunday Mail correspondent inhabits. He needs to be told that
there is no chance of the "new powers at the helm" of the ministry
harmonising anything so long as they resort to using as their chosen weapon
in dealing with inconvenient reporting a discredited media agency which
contains not a single representative of the independent press and whose
chairman weekly demonstrates his lack of professionalism by attacking
independent papers in his vituperative column.
This week he was
castigating us for failing to give his "Hotelgate scandal" the "significance
it deserved", as if newspapers have a duty to pursue the self-serving claims
of party propagandists!
While it may be embarrassing for the
ministry to have Sister Patricia's letter published on the Internet, it
should also examine the Herald's account of the depredations of Operation
Murambatsvina published on Monday. Hiding the truth is proving difficult -
even for the state media!
As for Sister Patricia, is she now
disowning her testimony? Why does she not remain true to her faith and stand
by the facts instead of begging the pardon of the same authorities who are
busy inflicting the pain and destitution she describes?
brings us to a letter from Bright Matonga published in the Standard on
Sunday which took the newspaper to task for claiming that he had invaded a
farm near Chegutu. It was not correct that he had two farms, Matonga said,
nor was it correct that he had hired a mob of Zanu PF women to invade the
farm. It was also not correct that he had been unavailable for comment. The
article was based on malice, he suggested.
In a story published in
the Mail & Guardian on May 20, the newspaper reported that Matonga and a
group of 15 war veterans had invaded Chigwell Farm belonging to Tom Beattie
and thrown out his possessions.
This was despite the Administrative
Court issuing a "notice of withdrawal" by the Minister of Lands in regard to
Beattie's family properties.
Beattie was quoted in the M&G
report as saying: "The new deputy minister is causing all the trouble here.
They don't have proper letters and I am wondering why this is happening to
me. Matonga doesn't even belong to this district; he is not even an MP of
Beattie said he summoned the police who temporarily
restored order "but Matonga and the war vets returned the next day and
forcibly removed workers from the workshop where they were processing and
The article states that in 2002 Matonga was
allocated the 670ha Mpandaguta Farm in Banket. The previous owners had run a
successful horticulture business there.
"You go to Mpandaguta
now," Beattie said. "There is nothing on the ground. But he wants to come
here and do the same."
Muckraker's question: Did Matonga write to
the M&G to deny any of the claims made in that story? If not, why is he
now taking issue with the Standard?
Matonga's smiling face can
be seen in the Sunday Mail this week. He was reported as saying that EU
sanctions - renewed last week - were a "non-event". The latest action was
"inconsequential as Zimbabwe had adopted the 'Look East' policy", Matonga
"Who would still want to go to Europe anyway?" he
Well he would for starters. Didn't he used to live in the
UK? Wasn't he employed there? Didn't he come back with a British
So when did he decide he no longer wanted to visit the UK:
before or after his name was added to the list?
And why are
President Mugabe's ministers saying sanctions are a non-event when they go
to such lengths to pin every single one of their policy failures on Tony
Blair and sanctions? Do they not see these yawning
We note with interest Matonga's claim that
"some" EU ambassadors endorsed Operation Murambatsvina at a recent meeting.
Muckraker will be checking to see which ones are prepared to admit that they
now "see sense in the clean-up exercise".
Muckraker was under
fire in the Herald on Saturday. In an unprecedented step, the Nathaniel
Manheru columnist rose to the defence of another columnist, Caesar Zvayi,
who had been accused of certain inaccuracies by this writer. Exactly why
Zvayi was unable to reply for himself is not clear. But whatever the case,
Muckraker is delighted to be able to take issue with the malevolent
The story so far: Zvayi has repeatedly stated that Ian
Smith wept as the Union Jack was lowered at Rufaro Stadium at midnight on
April 17 1980. Muckraker replied that this was unlikely as (1) Smith was not
present at the ceremony, and (2) he would be unlikely to weep for a flag
that he discarded 12 years earlier in 1968 when he introduced a green and
Manheru attempts to deflect Herald readers'
attention from these self-evident truths by focusing attention on the
Zimbabwe/Rhodesian flag of the Muzorewa regime which superseded
"It is astounding that a man of Muckraker's age and
knowledge," Manheru wrote, "does not know that at the conclusion of the
Lancaster House Constitutional Conference on December 15 1979, Zimbabwe came
under a transitional authority headed by British governor Lord Soames. As
such the Rhodesian flag was pulled down and the Union Jack reintroduced to
signify that the Queen now held dominion over Zimbabwe till a new government
was elected in line with the Lancaster House agreement."
Manheru concedes that Smith's green and white flag was replaced by
Muzorewa's "black, green, red, yellow and white flag of Zimbabwe/Rhodesia
after March 3 1979".
But "there was no way the flag of the
vanquished Rhodesians and their Zimbabwean puppets could have been allowed
to fly during the transitional period because the transition involved a
departure from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe."
Manheru admits to being a
"tiny tot" at the time and therefore dependent upon material from the
Rhodesia Herald for his account of the Rufaro Stadium ceremony. He makes
great play of the Union Jack being folded and handed to Prince Charles. None
of that is in dispute. What is in dispute is Manheru's claim that the Union
Jack was reintroduced in December 1979.
With the exception of a
small corner of Government (now State) House grounds, it
The British had indeed attempted to get the Union Jack
reintroduced to symbolise the restoration of legitimacy. But the Muzorewa
government put up strong resistance arguing their flag was the country's
legal emblem. The British didn't have the inclination to make an issue of
it. It was the price they had to pay for the cooperation of the existing
power structure. As a result the Muzorewa flag continued to fly across the
country at government buildings, police posts and, above all, at arguably
the most important flagstaff of them all, that in Cecil (now Africa Unity)
Anybody working across the road at the Herald at the time
would be able to confirm this detail.
The only presence
recorded of the Union Jack in 1979-1980 was at Government House where Soames
resided and at the Rufaro Stadium ceremony where it was symbolically
These facts would be easy enough to check. Any Zanu or
Zapu leader present in the country between December 1979 and April 1980 will
confirm them. They also took exception to the continued presence of the
Muzorewa flag but were confident it wouldn't survive the
Manheru not only hasn't done his homework but believes
that by volubly repeating a lie and occupying acres of space to do so he can
shout Muckraker down. Here we have a classic case of the Herald and its
columnists having access to the facts but choosing to ignore them - all in
the interests, Manheru claims, of the Silver Jubilee.
readers noted a significant concession in the Sunday Mail last weekend? In
his Comment headed "Continue reasserting Gono's authority", the editor
suggested the Reserve Bank governor was losing his grip.
of mischief are at play," he claimed. "Reports of Dr Gono no longer enjoying
the full support of the ruling-party bigwigs have also gone a long way in
weakening his authority."
Now when the Zimbabwe Independent
reported on May 6 ("Knives out for Gono") that Gono no longer enjoyed the
full support of the ruling-party bigwigs, the governor used an interview
with the Sunday Mail to hotly deny any evaporation of support and suggested
those spreading such stories were engaging in wishful thinking.
MANY people in
Mbare have lost their livelihoods. Their home industries have been
destroyed, the lodgers removed.
On top of all this, homeowners are now
receiving massive backdated bills charging them for water, refuse
collection, sewerage and millions in penalties. Many will not be able to pay
these bills. Why are they being penalised? On what legal
The city administration must not put unbearable burdens on
people who have been hit very hard already by the destruction of
Many lodgers left homeless are now sleeping outside in the
cold, including pregnant women, mothers with small children and extremely
sick people. They have nowhere to go.
Shelter is a basic human
right. "Every human being is entitled to respect for his/her life and to
safety." (The African Charter on Human and Peoples' Rights, Article
Officials must refrain from harsh and inhuman treatment of
defenceless people. It cannot be in the interests of a responsible
government to drive its citizens into unemployment, homelessness and general
"Judgement will be without mercy to anyone who has shown
no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgement." (James 2:13).
EVERY day we are reminded of the terrible repercussions of the
government's onslaught on the most disadvantaged, yet the most hardworking
members of our society.
It is imperative, in the interests of future
justice for these poor displaced persons, that as much relevant information
is recorded. The Independent and the UK-based Zimbabwean are doing a
commendable job in showing the rest of the world what is happening and
The ripple effects of this pogrom insidiously
permeate through all layers of our society - except of course the
well-connected, uncaring fat cats - leaving a trail of destruction in its
wake. No wonder it has been so quickly named by true Zimbabweans as a
All right-thinking Zimbabweans are horrified by what has
happened. It is a disaster made by the very people who have mandated
themselves to govern us. The irony of it!
President Robert Mugabe
and company have been planning this for months. The programme was planned
with a deliberate agenda of providing no alternative shelter for the people,
in order to weaken them and with no consideration for an ordinary citizen's
Because of the magnitude of this horror visited on the people
of Zimbabwe by their own government, I think:
Independent and The Zimbabwean as a matter of policy continue to publish
articles and photographs on this pogrom and the ongoing effects of it so
that it remains at the forefront of people's minds. The effects of the
pogrom will continue for years but must not be forgotten;
*This period of "the destruction of people's lives" be noted as
an annual memorial for those who have suffered under the cowardly regime's
I am not a very good organiser, but wish that
someone with the appropriate abilities might take up these suggestions.
a good laugh on Saturday reading about the latest efforts by the hopeless
Ministry of Energy to ensure there are adequate fuel supplies. The solution,
according to the ministry's permanent secretary Justin Mupamhanga, lies in
Government will come up with a Petroleum Bill - not
petroleum bills - to regulate the fuel industry and ensure that there is
order in procurement and that all players behave properly.
is a Shona idiom that says: kutsvaka kweashaya kutsvaka uta mugate.
Translated loosely, it means: the hopeless desperation of one who looks for
a bow in a gourd. That is how desperate our rulers are. They are now looking
for fuel in parliament.
On the day the Petroleum Bill becomes
law, we should all perhaps go and queue at Parliament building for a helping
of the precious liquid. This sounds ridiculous but is there any sense
investing hundreds of man-hours in drawing up legislation that will regulate
a substance that is not there?
The Bible in the book of Hebrews says
faith is "the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not
seen". Mupamhanga and his boss, Rt Lt General Mike Nyambuya, have stretched
their faith to near breaking point. It is no longer an issue of something
hoped for but not seen. They are going to regulate something that is not
Legislation, my good general, is no substitute for foreign
currency at the moment. That is what the nation needs. We have seen at least
half-a-dozen measures by government to regulate the industry in the past
four years and none of them has worked.
Putting new laws in
statute books is not the answer. The tragedy of our government is that laws
have been made on the hoof to deal with the desperate economic situation.
There are anti-hoarding laws, anti-black market measures and it is now
illegal for landlords to hike rents to market levels.
creates an impression that the desperate situation we are in is permanent
and therefore requires equally desperate legislation. The government can
promulgate as many laws as it deems fit but it cannot legislate against
inflation, neither can it legislate against general shortages and
But one thing the government can do though is to create
the right environment for the economy to flourish. The preoccupation with
erecting barriers and controls in all facets of life is symptomatic of a
government that is clutching at straws to salvage a plot that is almost
The Zimbabwean story is a sad one. Here is a
country whose leader has laid claim to fame and to having many friends
across the face of the earth (except in European capitals and the United
States). But the friends are not there during times of need. In other words,
they either do not care about little Zimbabwe or they do not have the
capacity to assist.
Which reminds me of President Mugabe's forays to
secure fuel deals for Zimbabwe over the past five years. The list of those
the president said could help include Libya, Sudan, Iran, Kuwait and
Equatorial Guinea. These "friendly nations", like anyone in business,
require Zimbabwe to pay in foreign currency for fuel - up front. The mantras
we hear daily about friends and detractors are therefore rubbish. Where are
our "friends" now? And who is feeding the country when we can't? They are
our true friends.
The president's friends, I sometimes feel, are
merely cheering our performance in the theatre of blundering. Did we not
hear earlier this month Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa saying he
supported Operation Murambatsvina? Another cheerleader and a diplomatic coup
for Mugabe but where is the fuel? In the 15-vehicle presidential motorcade?
Tanzania certainly hasn't offered any.
That aside, this nation
has to start a serious process of introspection in which government opens
its eyes to the problems that abound. It is not about inadequate policing.
The problem is an incompetent coterie of leaders apportioning themselves too
many powers to parade their incompetence and embarrass themselves in
In his Tuesday message this week, MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai tried to point the Zanu PF government to what it needs to do. He
said: "The only way out of this situation is political. The Zanu PF-led
regime must acknowledge its failure and start the process that will allow
Zimbabwe to eventually take its place in the community of nations and put
the economy on the road to recovery."
Sounds easier said than
done! The process which has to take place first is one of national cohesion
and political settlement. This process also requires the opposition to play
a part even if Mugabe appears uninterested in political discourse. The
tactics should change from merely mobilising public opinion against Mugabe
to encouraging greater civic participation in discussing and finding
solutions to the Zimbabwean problem.
Because of the fixation with
Mugabe, we do not have time to brainstorm about the future. Instead we are
treated to silly moves like the Petroleum Bill - even when we are queuing
Mugabe's true colours clearer as exit looms By Chido
Makunike ZIMBABWE and the world have been shocked by the terrorism of the
Mugabe regime against the citizens under the guise of a "clean-up" project
over the past month.
It is quite understandable that all the focus so
far has been on the horrific humanitarian effects of our tormentor's wicked
It is difficult to look at the shameful images of Mugabe's
storm troopers cruelly wreaking such misery across the land and see any good
in it. But one thing the current actions have done is finally, definitively
showed, for those who still had any doubt - the true nature of
It is interesting that even the members of the "Mugabe is
right" brigade that has been dwindling steadily over the years have been
rendered largely silent by the shock of his inexcusable actions against the
interests of the very people that he has always claimed he gets his
legitimacy from. Attempts to explain, understand or justify Mugabe's most
recent repressive actions have been few, awkward and so intellectually weak
as to be laughable.
Yet while desperate to claim legitimacy on the
basis of deeply flawed and dubious "revolutionary", rhetorical, democratic
and other such formalistic credentials, Mugabe has also never been able to
hide that true nature, despite being an accomplished actor. Rather, it has
been more the case that many sectors of his audience preferred to overlook
his widening cruel streak and his embarrassing economic incompetence,
desperate for an African hero.
The general reality of post-colonial
Africa has been so disappointing, so at odds with the high hopes and the
heady promise of the era of the initial waves of decolonisation that many
have been willing to turn a blind eye to vicious actions by Africa's despots
that would have raised howls of outrage had they been committed by white
colonial rulers. Mugabe has also been hitherto very effective at exploiting
the Western world's white guilt over their historical role in much of the
world, at using their own record of anti-African repression to justify his.
But with his current inappropriate-for-the-times and cruelly effected
upsetting of a large part of the nation's tenuous hold on the basics of
subsistence, shelter and a sense of relative security in one's own country,
Mugabe will find it very difficult to fool any, but the most irrational and
rabid of any genuine support that he might have still
Let us briefly look at the many ways that the real Mugabe
has long differed from the image he has been trying to sell us. At one time
Mugabe was the doyen of the non-aligned movement, hosting international
conferences and speechifying all over the world in its name. Most of the
world is adjusting to new relations with an economically burgeoning China,
while still seeking more equitable relations with a still dominant West. Yet
Mugabe acts like he has personally discovered the East, virtually throwing
himself into its arms in a worrying neo-imperialistic relationship forced on
him by his poor management with relations with the rest of the world. When
he cries "Zimbabwe will never be a colony again", he is merely exhibiting
another manifestation of his bitter tiff with Britain for spurning him while
his country becomes a virtual client state of China.
At one time
one could disagree with Mugabe and yet still respect him for a certain
consistency in his approach to various issues. When he ascribed the word
"principled" to himself it did not seem as empty as it does now, when he so
regularly contradicts himself on so many fundamental counts.
has always liked to be considered a cultured and learned man, sophisticated
and an intellectual. Yet in a country that he likes to boast his government
helped have the highest literacy and formal education rates on the
continent, the intellectual and media environment is one of the most
limited, dullest and most repressive. How consistent is it for a
self-proclaimed "intellectual" to be so afraid of opposing ideas that he has
to set up an elaborate infrastructure to thwart and silence
Does anyone remember that Mugabe at one time found it
fashionable to claim to be a socialist? That seems laughable now given what
is now publicly known about how he and his wife Grace are so enamoured of
the capitalistic "good life" of consumerism.
One of the most
nauseatingly hypocritical inconsistencies he has for too long been allowed
by some to get away with is his claim to be a "devout Catholic". He loves
the rituals and the pomp and ceremony of Olden Europe, whether in the
parliamentary or religious spheres, but is very deft at abusing their
substance, their essence. So there is an elaborate effort to maintain the
appearance of the shells of various European institutions in regards to the
judiciary, parliament, the civil service and in his private life and
But there is not even an attempt to modify them to
make them more relevant and useful for the local situation. Instead there is
a completely hypocritical negation of their essence in reality, while
verbally shouting belief in and adherence to them from the
In the recent general election he tried very hard to
put distance between his reputation for violence by repeatedly using the
rhetoric of peace. But the message that his various militia are given seemed
to be the same as it has been in all the time he has been ruler: when you
need to knock heads, to terrorise in the service of my regime, go ahead, you
have impunity to do so.
In the case of the Matabeleland massacres, it was
claimed to be an insurgency that threatened to tear the country apart that
justified the terror.
In the previous election it was necessary to
contain agents of Britain that wanted to recolonise Zimbabwe. But in the
case of the current violence of his military machine against people's homes
and remaining sources of livelihoods, that violence seems more a sickly
cathartic show of power at a nation that increasingly spurns him, and whose
most pressing problems Mugabe is no longer relevant to helping
So Mugabe has helped to make it clearer to all that he is not
at all what he and many others have liked him to be: a new generation of
enlightened African leader. Rather than a leader who helps his country and
Africa separate itself from its colonial legacy by showing a different,
beneficial-to-the-people way of doing things, he like many other African
rulers, increasingly must resort to the methods of the former
Having failed to improve the condition of the country,
everything he found in place crumbling around him, Mugabe is going out on a
sour note and showing his true nature as the destroyer of a nation,
Clean-up should've started with govt itself By Bill
Saidi ONE choice epithet in the aftermath of the recent orgy of destruction:
the most illegal structure today is the government.
This is a
reference to the 2000 parliamentary and the 2002 presidential elections. As
a result of how the government conducted those polls, it lost friends right,
left and centre. The land reform fiasco may have been a prime
But if there had been no disgust with the bare-faced
rigging of the two elections, President Robert Mugabe and his colleagues
might have escaped the black lists which restrict their international travel
Even people accustomed to Zanu PF's zany ways wondered at the
destruction: whose wet dream was this?
The clean-up of the
central business district made eminent sense. Harare had become a veritable
dump, with some visitors asking: What kind of tsunami hit the
But even with the compliments came the indictment: It was so
sudden, so brutal and so vengeful, it had to be political.
is where some people wondered if it was someone's wet dream.They figured
someone so filled with vengeance against the urban dwellers for voting for
the MDC in the last election thought to gratify his perverse desire for
revenge on what they felt were the urban ingrates.
They had it so
good, didn't they? Building houses where they wanted, buying and selling
anything they wanted, anywhere they wanted. And how do they reward Zanu PF?
They give the party a mighty kick in its electoral teeth.
the comparison with the farm invasions of 2000 was irresistible. Zanu PF,
for them, was continuing its time-worn policy of Shoot First, Second and
Third and Don't Ask Questions.
As with the farm invasions, any plan
to deal with the aftermath of the orgy was an afterthought.
there had been a well-prepared plan, the savagery would have been needless.
There would have been prior consultation.
The destruction of the flea
markets in Harare was so comprehensive, cynics thought they saw a Chinese
hand behind it. Their theory was: the zhing-zhong trade was not doing well
and the flea markets were to blame.
It was a far-fetched theory, but
the destruction was so total people spent futile hours flailing the air for
a rational explanation.
To many politically savvy analysts, the
government has messed up since Independence. It would be fair to say, in one
or two cases, Mother Nature refused to help... There was little to be done
about the droughts. Yet the droughts did not begin after 1980. As far back
as 1947, yellow maize was imported from Kenya when the rains
Inevitably, the people called it "Kenya".
PF's talent for messing up scaled new heights in 2000, after what their
detractors called their biggest blunder yet - the violent farm invasions - a
bigger blunder than the Gukurahundi massacres, some say.
At the head
of the invasions were the war veterans, the malcontents led by the late
Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi, aided and abetted by Mugabe himself.
illegal structures demolished around Harare were so-called housing
co-operatives initiated by the war veterans.
After 2000, the war
veterans gained enormous presence in Zanu PF. Most of their acts were
condoned. They invaded private companies, vandalising their
There are war veterans today living like kings, overnight
billionaires who profited from the looting. Zanu PF held them in such awe
their demands were granted without question. They were almost the de facto
Initial reports linked the bombing of the Daily News
printing press in 2001 to the war veterans. A few days earlier, they had
staged a rowdy protest march at the newspaper's offices along Samora Machel
But the investigations into the explosion, which reportedly
featured deadly limpet mines, petered out a few weeks later. To this day,
the police's standard response to inquiries is: "Investigations are
Most of our economic problems can be traced back to that
single act of lunacy, as some critics have called it - the farm
It started when Mugabe publicly defied a court order to
have the veterans removed from the farms. That, for many, was the genesis of
The poverty which drove people to construct illegal
structures and trade in contraband was caused partly by the economic
isolation resulting from the farm invasions.
In 25 years, Zanu PF
has gambled with the goodwill of a peace-loving people.
gambled with the goodwill of foreign governments which respected Zimbabwe as
a bastion of democracy, in spite of a long, bitter, bloody war of
Dictatorship, corruption, cronyism, police brutality and
arrogance have blighted that image. Mugabe pulled Zimbabwe out of the
Commonwealth. If, by this precipitous act, he hoped to destroy that
multi-racial grouping of former British colonies, then he must now
acknowledge utter failure. He must have hoped for a massive Afro-Asian
But not one of them quit. The pull-out was totally without
meaning, politically. The Commonwealth remains intact and not even the
staunchest supporters of Mugabe's racist rhetoric have left the
Mugabe's refusal to face reality -to accept that he has
outlived many people's political generosity and should get real - is what
drives his party to engage in the sort of senseless orgy of violence that
results in thousands of citizens being thrown into
*Bill Saidi is editor of the Daily News On
Arise Mai Grace, lest we perish By Rejoice
Ngwenya Dear Amai First Lady
IN African tradition, when a boy or a man
is in distress, in great pain or about to die, he summons just enough energy
to call his mother. The mother is the cradle of life, an umbilical cord that
bridges the dark depths of the invisible with the ecstasy of free
Mothers pay a high price for procreation, but ultimately
get rewarded with the gift of life. Hapana akaita saAmai, so sings Elijah
Madzikatire. Therefore, Amai First Lady, hear us, the last cry of a people
in excruciating pain, having laboured under the yoke of food shortages,
transport blues, barren farmlands, mealie-meal, bread and sugar queues and
now face-to-face with the evil and mortal blow of Operation
How much more can we suffer? The book of Judges says:
"Village life in Israel ceased, ceased until I, Deborah, arose, arose a
mother in Israel."
Arise, Amai, arise and give guidance to those men
around you who have lost all sense of human dignity in pursuit of a selfish,
vindictively destructive agenda under the false guise of Operation
Village life in Zimbabwe has ceased. On Caledonia
farm, your children huddle around in the dead of night, their soft limbs
quivering in the stinging nocturnal breeze of June. At Chaka Growth Point,
your children suckle at withered breasts, rubbing hot foreheads that have
been scorched by the African sun.Until you arise, you, the First Mother of
Zimbabwe, your children will perish in the avalanche of despair that has
been ignited by Operation Murambatsvina.
None of the men that
surround you have ever experienced the pain of birth or long nights of
shrill cries of a child whose stomach turns like a volcano. Those men who
sit beside you have no experience of the nausea and the stinging back pain
that brings a wonderful life into the world or the tasteless crusts of red
soils scraped off old Jacaranda trees. They know nothing of losing oceans of
blood to sail a tender infant on the river of life. Theirs is a world of
power, destruction and reproduction. But why reproduce to kill, I ask, Amai
Your children at White Cliff and Hatcliffe are staring
death in the face. No shelter, no water, no life. Isaiah asks: "Can a mother
forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has
Amai First Lady, can you forget your children who lick the
dust in the streets of Zvishavane or blot from your memory the little white
eyes that sparkle in the moonlight along Mukuvisi River? What about the soft
knees that crawl on the hot gravel in Rimuka, Kadoma, would you forget?
Those men who purport to carry the seal of your
husband, Amai First Lady, pounding at the walls of a kiosk in Senga, Gweru,
are hypocrites. Their bellies are full. They kiss their children on the
forehead as they drop them at Fletcher High, and yet strike at the only
source of income that will take your children, Amai First Lady, to Pakhame
Those men who purport to represent your husband's throne are
great pretenders. They have spent hundreds of nights and thousands of
dollars huddled in a wood cabin in Sakubva, Mutare, making love to
concubines, and yet when the sun rises, they burn the napkins and towels of
your children, Amai First Lady. Do they deserve to live? What kind of a man,
Amai First Lady, can order a bulldozer to crush the bananas of a poor
breast-feeding mother in Mbare Musika?
Can we say to a man like
that, as Luke says: "Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed
you." Certainly not!
I can testify that men litter the history of
this country, or the world for that matter, with cases of destruction. It is
a man who invented the nuclear bomb that destroyed thousands upon thousands
of children at Hiroshima. It is a man who instigated the extermination of
millions of Jews and started the Second World War that wiped out millions of
It is a man who murdered thousands of citizens in Uganda.
Is it not a man who ordered, Amai First Lady, the vicious napalm bombing of
hundreds of children at Chimoio? What about the massacres of innocent
civilians in Matabeleland? Was it not a creation of men?
Nelson Mandela to Robben Island or struck the nails that crucified our Lord
Now we know that it is a man who ordered the plunder and
destruction in this so-called Operation Murambatsvina that has left
thousands upon thousands of your children homeless, cold, sick and
Therefore, Amai First Lady, can you entrust the lives of your
children even with those men that sit next to you? Certainly
The solution, our hope, the future of the children is in your
hands, Amai First Lady, because you yourself are a mother. Use your motherly
instincts to call off these cruel, vicious hounds called men who are going
from house-to-house, market-to-market and street-to-street, destroying the
future of your defenceless children. Apply your motherly charm and authority
to stem the tide of anger and hatred against innocent citizens of Zimbabwe
who have known nothing but struggle to cling to dear life in the past five
WE, the members of the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops
Conference, issued a press statement on June 2, in regard to the "clean-up"
operation dubbed "Operation Restore Order" in which we expressed our dismay
at the suffering and hardship experienced by the most vulnerable members of
society in some areas nationwide.
Now, almost four weeks after
the event started, countless numbers of men, women with babies, children of
school age, the old and the sick, continue to sleep in the open air at
winter temperatures near to freezing. These people urgently need shelter,
food, clothing and medicines, among others.
Any claim to
justify this operation in view of a desired orderly end becomes
totally groundless in view of the cruel and inhumane means that have been
used. People have a right to shelter and that has been deliberately
destroyed in this operation without much warning.
all desire orderliness, alternative accommodation and sources of income
should have been identified and provided before the demolitions and stoppage
of informal trading.
We condemn the gross injustice done to the
poor. As a follow-up to our press statement, we wish to offer a pastoral
reflection on recent events based on Scripture and social teaching of the
In the gospel of June 5, while these events were taking
place, Jesus tells us: "What I want is mercy, not sacrifice' (Mt 9:13). His
words reflect those of the Old Testament prophets who continually state that
prayers and sacrifices are of no value unless there is concern for the poor
and needy (Amos 5:1-4).
There has been no concern for the
poor and needy in this operation and the prayers and offerings of those
responsible find no favour before God.
The prophet Isaiah
reminds us "to share our bread with the hungry, to shelter the homeless poor
and to clothe the man seen to be naked" ...(Is. 58:5-7).
entire ministry of Jesus is marked by concern for the weak and
Jesus tells us that we will be judged at the
end of time on whether we have shared this concern, and he has terrible
words to say to those who saw him hungry, thirsty, a stranger, or naked, or
sick (or homeless...) and neglected to help him (Mt 25:42
As Christians we must hear the cry of the poor and the
homeless in our townships and villages and support them in their efforts to
gradually rebuild their lives. In this task we should be motivated and
guided by the social teaching of the Church.
teaching of the church sheds the light of the gospel on issues that affect
our lives in society, and offers the church's wisdom, insight and experience
in dealing with them. This teaching, based on scripture, has developed over
more than a hundred years, and is mainly found in Papal letters and
documents emanating from Synods and conferences of bishops.
contains a number of principles which are particularly relevant at this
*Dignity of the human person. Created in the image and
likeness of God (Gen 1:26-27), each person has an innate human dignity,
given to us, not by secular authorities, but by the Creator himself. This
dignity was gravely violated by the ruthless manner in which "Operation
Restore Order" was conducted in the townships and other
Every violation of the personal dignity of the human
being cries out for vengeance to God and is an offence against the Creator
of the individual (Christifideles Laici, 37 - Pope John Paul
*Basic rights. Basic human rights are an offshoot of our
God-given dignity. Every human being - man, woman and child - has the right
to life, shelter, clothing, food, education, health care, employment, etc.
These basic rights have been and are being violated. No secular authority,
no group, or no individual should be allowed to violate such
As Christian leaders we must continually remind
authorities of both their duty to respect and uphold human rights, and of
the serious consequences of failure to observe such rights. Furthermore, it
is our duty as a teaching church to form and educate Christian people in
rights, values and principles - a task that we will continue to
*Promotion of common good. Public authorities should
promote the common good of all members of society - not the good of an elite
group - by creating an environment in which economic, social, cultural and
political life can flourish.
In such an environment, all
citizens - including those who have lost their homes and livelihoods - can
have access to the goods of the earth which are intended by God to be
equally shared. The promotion of the common good should be the first
priority of public policy, not the promotion of party political
"It is the proper function of authority to arbitrate, in
the name of the common good, between various particular interests; but it
should make accessible to each what is needed to lead a truly human life:
food, clothing, health, work, education and culture, suitable information,
the right to establish a family, and so on," (Catechism of the Catholic
church, 1992, par 1909).
In the order of things, people
always come first and cannot be subservient to an economy, a political
agenda or an ideology for that matter;
*Option for the
poor. In the application of the principle of the common good, some people
remain poor and marginalised. The church must show particular concern for
them. The moral test of a society is how it treats its most vulnerable
As Christians we must continue to examine public
policy decisions, including policies related to housing, healthcare and food
security, in terms of how they affect the poor, and bow our heads in shame
at the nation-wide operation that has greatly increased poverty and
destitution in all areas.
The interference with informal
trading, which supports formal trading, can only accelerate our economic
decline. The option for the poor, most of whom are informal traders, is an
essential part of society's effort to achieve the common good of all its
members. To the church, the poor are a treasure (St Laurence, in Butler,
Lives of the Saints, August 10);
*Subsidiarity. The principle
of subsidiarity refers to passing powers downward from the top to the
grassroots, or as close to the grassroots as possible. The principle implies
a preference for local over central decision-making.
Central authority should support local authority efforts and only undertake
those tasks which local bodies cannot achieve. If there is a "clean-up"
required on our streets or if there is a problem of criminality in the
townships, it is essentially the task of local authorities - including
community/residents associations and church bodies - supported by the police
and the courts, to deal with these problems. This should take place in an
orderly process over a period of time, and in a way that promotes and
preserves human dignity, people's rights and the common good.
always, our prayer for you is peace be with you.
*Mt Rev Robert C
Ndlovu of Harare;
*Mt Rev Pius Alec M Ncube of
*Rt Rev Michael D Bhasera of Masvingo
*Rt Rev Alexio Churu Muchabaiwa of
*Rt Rev Angel Floro of Gokwe;
*Rt Rev Patrick
M Mutume, Auxiliary Bishop of Mutare
I HAVE always thought that Herald columnist Nathaniel Manheru
was an intellectually-challenged ignoramus, but I never had a very decisive
corroboration of my suspicions. But his article printed in the Herald
edition of June 18 has shown that behind the long-winded sentences and
meaningless words is the hand of a dunderhead who does not understand simple
Indeed, it seems Manheru has perfected the art
of subterfuge; covering up for his lack of wit by using cloudy
He gave a very detailed account to
prove that it was the Union Jack that was lowered at Rufaro Stadium on the
eve of April 18 1980. He even quoted the Rhodesia Herald, and provided the
reader with other extras ostensibly to rub salt into the wounds of those who
in his confused mind are still not happy about that historic
Manheru's research was inspired by a brief, passing
comment made in the Zimbabwe Independent's Muckraker column where another
Herald columnist was chided for telling fibs to buttress his shallow
Yet all Muckraker said was that Ian Smith could not
have wept when the Union Jack was lowered because he had discarded the flag
12 years back, preferring his own green/white flag.
credit, Manheru did reproduce what Muckraker had said to show that he wasn't
making up the case. And it was right there in front of him, written in
plain, simple language. You don't even need to be a barrister to understand
that the question was not whether or not it was the Union Jack that was
lowered at Rufaro Stadium, but whether Smith wept when it did.
is unlikely that Smith could have wept, because he despised the Union Jack,
and nothing in Manheru's week-long research seems to prove the
Comprehension skills are not taught in journalism
classes because it is assumed these are basic skills. Manheru is too old to
go back to elementary school, but I have seen a number of high school boys
loitering around Herald House around lunchtime. I am sure they would be
happy to give a helping hand, if he asks.
however, Manheru's obsession with trivia is a microcosm of the government's
pursuance of issues peripheral to national development. With shortages of
fuel, electricity and other basic commodities, one would have expected that
the priorities of the government would have centred on these
Indications are that inflation is on the rise again,
and a sensible government would have sought ways of complementing the
efforts of the Reserve Bank to keep inflation down.
summit is only a few weeks away and the world's richest nations have
emphasised that eradicating Africa's debt and poverty would be top on the
The Zanu PF government should have seized that
opportunity to show the world that it is committed to improving the lives of
its people, and would use debt relief to divert funds to real issues like
fighting HIV/Aids, health and education.
It should have
been worried by the latest indications that Africa is the only continent
that has been growing poorer in the last decade. But no, all the government
could think of was Operation Murambatsvina!
The government has
destroyed thousands of people's lives in an operation to restore order, yet
that issue was not on the election manifesto three months before. Surely,
the government must have known well in advance that there was serious lack
of order in urban areas, and should have told the electorate that the first
major step would be to bulldoze their houses. That way, people would have
voted knowing what was coming.
There is no way government can
eradicate the black market without eradicating the reasons why it exists in
the first place. Sending the police on door-to-door searches for foreign
currency from DStv subscribers is not only the height of lunacy but an
affront to people's liberty and freedom of choice.
The best way
to generate foreign currency is to create an environment conducive to
foreign investment, not crucify people for their meagre monthly
subscriptions. But how does government invite foreign investment when it
destroys its own people's homes and bulldoze them to more poverty and
In 2000 government targeted white commercial
farmers and the justification was that they were a minority gaining at the
expense of the black indigenous population. Five years later, the government
is starving the same black people - true Zimbabweans who never shout that
they are Zimbabweans, because they cannot be anything else. What
The government has no shame trying to court foreign
currency from Zimbabweans living or working abroad, yet the majority of
those people were driven away by bad economic policies at
Zanu PF does not want to accept responsibility for
mismanagement of the economy, preferring to blame its detractors - most of
whom are imaginary.
The Mugabe regime is always complaining
about bad publicity in the foreign press and blames Britain and the
opposition for misrepresenting the facts. But the whole world has seen
bulldozers razing people's homes and Mugabe himself throwing his weight (he
has actually lost weight) behind the inhuman act.
the real issues that bootlickers like Manheru should address, rather than
wasting 1 304 words trying to find out whether Smith wept when the Union
Jack was lowered, and failing in the attempt.
*Hudson Taivo is
a Zimbabwean writer based in the UK.
WHAT started as a civic clean-up campaign in Zimbabwe by
President Robert Mugabe's increasingly repressive government has degenerated
into a man-made disaster, spawning a humanitarian crisis.
nationwide demolition blitz - which has caught the attention of the United
Nations - has destroyed more than 200 000 shantytown homes, as well as
informal businesses and a sprawling parallel market economy. The
ramifications are shocking. Human rights groups say up to a million people
have been affected.
About 30 000 people have been arrested
during the campaign, which has been widely condemned by foreign governments,
civil society organisations and churches.
Tens of thousands
of people were thrown onto the streets - with no jobs, shelter, food, water
or sanitation. The campaign has left thousands of pupils out of school.
Women and children face hunger and disease. Some live in the open while
others were packed like sardines into trucks and driven to drought-stricken
rural areas with no means of livelihood. The smouldering ruins of their
houses and businesses bear testimony to the scorched earth campaign. A huge
internal refugee population has been created.
civilians' social and economic rights are being violated on a massive scale
by security forces serving a discredited regime whose leadership and policy
failures are rapidly turning Zimbabwe into a failed state.
Those banished to the impoverished rural areas - in Mugabe's own
of the apartheid bantustan model - wallow in abject
poverty. People living in rural areas survive largely on food aid due to the
After the chaotic land seizures that began in
2000, when Mugabe's rule was challenged by the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, Zimbabwe plunged into a cycle of hunger. The country has
undergone an alarming regression in the past five years because of the
political and economic crisis.
The scenario is almost like
a theatrical revival of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution or Pol Pot's Khmer
Rouge rampage. The political philosophy and motives are similar. There are
several theories - ranging from the absurd to the rational - to explain
Mugabe's dangerous political stunt.
Some say it is
political purging with ethnic cleansing overtones, others say it is a kind
of social engineering, and yet others think it is simple tyranny and a
cynical way to divert attention from the economic crisis.
Others say Mugabe has created a Frankenstein monster through the exercise
and that a third force is at work. Government claims the blitz is merely a
clean-up campaign to rid the country of the black market, criminals and
Whatever is happening, it is clear that
this is not a public policy issue. There is nothing to be gained politically
by destroying people's homes, and no politician in their right mind would
expect to consolidate power through such a move.
deployment of security forces to execute the crackdown suggests
rise of a police state and a breakdown of social order. It
looks like the centre can no longer hold. Mugabe has become a prisoner of a
situation of his own creation and is lashing out in all directions. He is
surviving only due to the lack of organised opposition.
has managed to survive electoral defeats by allegedly stealing elections
three times in a row. He obfuscates his failures by waving the race card,
pointing fingers at alleged foreign saboteurs and playing to the nationalist
gallery. By legitimising terror, coercion and intimidation, Mugabe is
desperately trying to maintain his faltering hegemony.
ideology - if he has any beyond political irrationality - is a hodgepodge of
authoritarian prescriptions, crude racism and propaganda, all wrapped up in
a package labelled "sovereignty and nationalism".