The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Armed police block High Court entry in MDC-T activists’ case

By Tererai Karimakwenda
05 June 2011

There was more drama at the High Court in Harare on Tuesday as heavily armed
police blocked entry to hundreds of relatives, friends and party supporters
who wanted to attend the bail hearing of the 29 MDC-T activists facing
charges of killing a Glen View cop.

The police move follows a dramatic Monday when police fired teargas at
crowds that had gathered outside the High Court in solidarity with the
jailed activists, whose murder trial officially got underway Monday. There
were scuffles with police but no injuries or arrests were reported.

In a statement the MDC-T said: “The police’s heavy-handedness in the past
two days is a clear indication that some senior Zimbabwe Republic Police
officers are working as political commissars for ZANU PF.” The party called
for the resignation of “part time” commissioner general, Augustine Chihuri
from the police force.

Clifford Hlatywayo, the MDC-T Youth Assembly spokesperson, said police were
all over the area of the High Court on Wednesday, armed with AK 47s, teargas
and baton sticks. He said they were blocking people from entering the High
Court, citing Tuesday’s solidarity demonstration as the reason.

“We engaged our lawyers to talk to the court officials. After 11:00 AM a few
of the people who had not left yet were allowed to go inside,” Hlatywayo
told SW Radio Africa. He added that about 70 people remained and only a few
of them got inside to hear the proceedings.

The defense lawyers presented a fresh case for bail in the morning session,
with the state insisting on no bail for all 29 activists, many of who have
been in remand prison for over a year. The courts have denied them bail on
several occasions, claiming they are a flight risk.

The state claims the activists, including the MDC-T National Youth Chairman
Solomon Madzore and several party councilors, murdered policeman Petros
Mutedza at a Glen View pub more than a year ago.

The MDC-T insists the charges are false and part of a ZANU PF plot to
destabilise their party. However, there has been growing anger and
frustration over the partisan actions of the police and the judicial courts,
which favour ZANU PF at every turn.

Last month a group of policeman who murdered a mine worker in Shamva were
granted $50 bail each after only one month in remand. The MDC-T have pointed
to this as an example of the partisan behavior of the courts.

The MDC-T statement said: “Police Commissioner General, Augustine Chihuri
has turned ZRP into a police force of lawlessness and disorder. The MDC will
not accept and recognise a senior public officer who displays an openly
partisan, discriminatory and biased view of the society.”

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zuma set to arrive in Zim ‘soon’

By Alex Bell
05 June 2012

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma is expected to travel to Zimbabwe ‘soon’,
after last week’s summit of regional leaders again called for reforms in the
country before a fresh poll.

Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba confirmed Tuesday that Zuma would travel
to Harare, telling the state’s mouthpiece newspaper, The Herald: “The summit
asked the facilitator and South African President Jacob Zuma to come to
Zimbabwe to urgently discuss with the principals to the GPA with a view to
dealing with whatever issues the parties might have.”

“Given the urgency of the matter, we expect the South African President in
the country next week or in the next two weeks,” Charamba said.

Leaders in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) last week met
in Angola for an annual summit, and called for the leaders in Zimbabwe’s
government, to “ develop an implementation mechanism and to set out time
frames for the full implementation of the Roadmap to Elections.”

This was contained in an official communiqué released at the end of the SADC
meeting, and echoed previous calls by SADC leaders for Zimbabwe’s government
to fulfil the Global Political Agreement (GPA). This agreement, sanctioned
by SADC as the guarantors of the unity arrangement in Zimbabwe, has not been
honoured, with ZANU PF refusing to reform on key issues like the media and
security sector.

A roadmap to fresh poll has also hinged on these reforms. But despite the
lack of change in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe insists that a fresh election will
be held soon. Zuma’s visit to the country is likely going to be the latest
attempt to try and get the unity government principals on the same page
regarding elections.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

SA urges ‘caution’ in redefining blood diamonds

By Alex Bell
05 June 2012

A South African Minister taking part in the meeting of the international
diamond trade watchdog, the Kimberley Process (KP), has reportedly called
for caution in redefining the term ‘blood diamond’.

The redefinition of this core issue of the KP has taken centre stage in the
first of the monitoring body’s meetings this year, which is currently
underway in Washington. The group has faced increasing pressure to reform
over accusations that it has allowed serious human rights abuses at Zimbabwe’s
diamond fields to be brushed under the carpet.

The KP was formed in 2003 to curb the trade in ‘blood diamonds’, which it
detailed as stones that funded civil war or the brutality of rebel groups,
like was seen in Sierra Leone.

But civil society and human rights groups have since said that this
definition is too ‘narrow’ and should be broadened to encompass any human
rights abuses associated with diamond mining, as has been seen in Zimbabwe.

The calls for redefinition and a reform of the KP scheme are already
reported to have caused friction among some of the group’s members. South
Africa’s Mineral Resources Minister Susan Shabangu has been quoted as urging
for ‘caution’ in the redefinition process. Shabangu said that if the matter
was not handled carefully, the KP could face divisions and it could have
dire implications for the “millions of people who rely on diamond revenue”.

Daniel Bekele, the Africa Director at Human Rights Watch, told SW Radio
Africa on Tuesday that certain KP members have repeatedly been resistant to
broadening the KP’s mandate to include human rights. He said this resistance
is “not proper and not consistent with the KP and the reasons why it was

“The purpose of the body is to ensure that conflict diamonds and other
stones tainted by human rights abuses don’t reach consumers. Unfortunately
what we have increasingly seen is exactly this,” Bekele said.

He said that criticism of the KP was justified, stating that “the members
need to reform the KP scheme to explicitly deal with human rights concerns.”

He added: “We really hope that this happens. It will be a serious
disappointment if the KP members fail to press countries like Zimbabwe on
human rights issues.”

Human Rights Watch said on Monday that ongoing abuses at the Chiadzwa
diamond fields “have exposed the KP’s inability effectively to address human
rights violations by government security forces related to diamond mining.”

According to Human Rights Watch, which has conducted ongoing research into
the situation there, abuses still persist, perpetrated mainly by the ZANU PF
loyal security services. The group found evidence late last year of serious
abuses by police and private security guards patrolling the area, including
setting dogs on local miners and using excessive force to clear the diamond
fields of ‘illegal’ miners. Human Rights Watch said that, to date, no steps
have been taken to address these problems.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Rights Abuses Persist In Marange:HRW

Harare, June 5, 2012 -A United States based human rights group has called on
the Kimberley Process (KP) to pressure Zimbabwe to end what it claims are
continuing rights violations in the Marange diamond fields.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) made the call in a statement released to coincide
with the opening of the KP annual meeting in Washington DC on Monday.

The United States chairs the KP and it gave Zimbabwe’s Mines and Mining
Development minister Obert Mpofu a visa to attend the crucial meeting.

Mpofu says allegations of human rights violations are being made by
organisations opposed to a KP resolution to allow Zimbabwe to sell its
diamonds without supervision.

But HRW said its recent research in the Marange area indicated that while
human rights violations by the Zimbabwean military were not as severe as
they were in 2008, abuses persisted.

“There are significant concerns about the conduct of police and private
security forces employed by companies operating in the area, and the failure
of the authorities to hold to account members of the military, police and
private security companies responsive for serious abuses,” the group said.

“In addition, more transparency is needed on diamond production, revenue and
the allocation of mining rights. Human Rights Watch also remains concerned
by the continued presence of the Zimbabwean army, which was responsible for
killing 200 local miners in 2008, in parts of the Marange fields. One of the
agreements between the Kimberley Process and the government of Zimbabwe was
that the fans would be demilitarised.”

The KP meeting ends on Thursday and would discuss mining and trading of
conflict diamonds.

HWR said abuses in the Marange area in recent years had exposed KP’s
inability to effectively address human rights abuses.

In November last year, the KP lifted a ban on Zimbabwe diamonds and one of
its founders, Global Witness, withdrew from the initiative in protest.

“The Kimberley Process needs to address the on-going human rights abuses in
Zimbabwe’s Marange fields, and the lack of transparency by mining companies
operating there,” said Daniel Bekele, the Africa director at HWR.

“The KP meeting should demand more tangible progress from Zimbabwe and focus
on reforming its certification scheme so that it can tackle the human rights
problems that taint diamond production.”

Last year HWR said it found evidence of serious rights abuses in the area
where security guards were accused of setting dogs on panners and no steps
had been taken to address the problems.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Kimberley Process Meeting Begins As Rights Watchdog Urges Focus on Zimbabwe

04 June 2012

Ntungamili Nkomo

The Kimberly Process intersessional meeting kicked off in Washington Monday
with Human Rights Watch urging the diamond monitor to tackle what it called
continuing human rights violations in Zimbabwe's Marange fields.

The meeting, which runs through Thursday, will take up a range of topics
related to the mining and trading of conflict-free rough diamonds, a press
statement from the State Department said.

The Zimbabwe delegation comprises Mines Minister Obert Mpofu, Attorney
General Johannes Tomana and civil society members, including prominent
diamond campaigner Farai Maguwu.

Human Rights Watch Africa director, Daniel Bekele urged the Kimberley
Process, under the chairmanship of Washington, to "address the ongoing
rights abuses in Zimbabwe’s Marange fields and the lack of transparency by
mining companies operating there.”

"The KP meeting should demand more tangible progress from Zimbabwe and focus
on reforming its certification scheme so that it can tackle the human rights
problems that taint diamond production," Bekele said in a statement.

But minister Mpofu vowed he will object to any discussion that brings up the
Marange rights issue.

"That will be resisted by countries that want to see the KPC succeed. It was
very clear from the opening remarks that all such attempts to raise
contentious issues will not be entertained," he told VOA after Monday's

In her opening remarks, Kimberley Process chair, Ambassador Gillian
Milovanovic said there was need to reform the diamond watchdog. She also
pitched a proposal by the U.S. to redefine conflict diamonds.

Zimbabwe and its African allies view the move as meant to further isolate
rough diamonds from the controversial Marange fields.

Regional Information and Advocacy coordinator, Dewa Mavhinga, of the Crisis
in Zimbabwe Coalition, said the diamond monitor should not shy away from the
Harare rights issue.

The Kimberley Process, charged with preventing the trading of so-called
blood diamonds on the mainstream market, has struggled with the Marange
diamonds issue, with Western countries maintaining the mining of the gems is
done at the expense of human rights.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Violent ZANU PF youth evicting suspected MDC supporters

By Tererai Karimakwenda
05 June, 2012

Residents in the high density suburb of Epworth just outside Harare have
reported an invasion by violent ZANU PF youth, who are allegedly evicting
any suspected supporters of the MDC formations.

These forced evictions are reported to have displaced nearly a hundred
families, including women with young children, who have found themselves out
in the cold without any legal recourse.

According to the Daily News newspaper, residents said the ZANU PF youths
“wreaked havoc” in Epworth this week, “forcibly displacing” residents
suspected of being MDC supporters and taking over their residential stands
and properties.

The report said police in Epworth intervened only after a report was made by
a local joint MDC – ZANU PF peace committee. Many families had already lost
everything by the time police got involved.

The Daily News said: “More than 100 residents affected by the evictions had
grouped at an open ground fearing for their lives. A tense atmosphere
pervaded the area as a number of menacing youths milled around.”

It appears the land at the centre of the evictions is owned by the Methodist
Church and the youth are dismissing their legitimacy, saying: “Methodists
did not come with land from Britain”, according to local residents.

According to the Daily News, one resident claimed they have been paying
rates to the church while negotiations for more permanent stands are taking
place. Residents also know the ZANU PF youths who are leading the invasion,
but no arrests have been made.

We were unable to contact any of the Church officials for comment on this
ongoing dispute.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Peril and Progress in Zimbabwe
Mugabe's political maneuvering jeopardizes his country's modest revival. By MARIAN L. TUPY AND CRAIG J. RICHARDSON

At a summit in Luanda last weekend, the Southern African Development Community rejected Robert Mugabe's plan to call snap elections and jettison Zimbabwe's 2008 power-sharing agreement. The Zimbabwean president announced his plan last month, fearing that he might be too infirm to stand for reelection in 2013 and recognizing that an election under the current constitution would favor his ZANU-PF party.

Thankfully, President Mugabe's maneuvering ran up against a wall last week in Angola, where the southern African neighbors who act as guarantors of the 2008 power-sharing agreement told the aging strongman that polls must wait until Zimbabwe adopts a new constitution.

Delivering a new constitution, which is almost two years behind schedule, could at last pave the way for a peaceful transfer of power from ZANU-PF to the Movement for Democratic Change, led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai. But more importantly it would keep Zimbabwe on the modest path of economic progress that the country has tread since 2008, when the power-sharing agreement ended most of the political violence that had plagued the country for nearly a decade.

The last four years have seen revival and renewal on a variety of fronts. The Zimbabwean dollar, made worthless by one of the worst hyperinflations in history, was replaced by the American dollar after foreign currencies were legalized in 2009. The economy expanded by 9% in 2010 and 2011 after contracting by 18% percent in 2008. That growth was driven primarily by the mining industry, but tourism and agriculture are beginning to show signs of life. Shops and pharmacies are full, and Zimbabwe's human-development indicators, including longevity and child mortality, have improved.


What a difference dollarization made.

Renewed economic activity swelled tax revenues, which rose to $2.6 billion in 2011 from $133 million in 2009. But government expenditures grew even more quickly, to $3.2 billion from $257 million over the same period. Rapidly increasing public-sector payrolls and pensions are the key drivers of the deficit, and consume an estimated 59% of all government revenues. If the civil service is bloated, the government is equally so—Zimbabwe has 66 ministers and deputy ministers in Harare, most unnecessary and of dubious quality.

And despite hard-won economic gains, the government's performance has been by and large lamentable. Zimbabwe is still one of the worst places in the world to do business. Its indigenization law, which aims to transfer 51% of shares in private businesses to African hands, is still on the books—a disaster for property rights and investor confidence.

Quality leadership hasn't been absent in all government departments. When David Coltart took over as education minister in early 2009, 98% of all schools in the country were shut and 90,000 teachers were on strike. In 2008, Zimbabwean students benefited from only 28 full teaching days. There was no money for education in the government's budget, and the textbook-to-pupil ratio was 15-to-1.

Mr. Coltart responded by setting up an education transition fund that allowed the West to bypass Zimbabwe's government and finance education directly. He allowed parents to offer performance incentives to teachers, whose monthly salaries were only $100 back then. He broke the domestic textbook-publishing cartel, which has brought the cost of books down to 70 cents from $5. The textbook-to-pupil ratio is now 1-to-1—one of the best in Africa. These and other policies have brought educators back to work, and teacher attendance is now roughly 95% across the country.

There are plenty of risks to Zimbabwe's progress, but the political situation is still foremost among them. The country has an outdated constitution and no credible mechanism for future transfers of power. Unless the government can show a clear and irreversible break with the past, it cannot hope to convince the Zimbabwean diaspora—the country's would-be doctors, bankers and engineers—to return home and reverse the brain drain that has set in since Mugabe took office in 1980.

President Mugabe is now 88 years old, but his attitudes toward power have changed little in his 32 years in power. If he obeys last week's decision of the Southern African Development Community, he will almost certainly be voted out of power next year. If he ignores it, Zimbabwe risks a descent into violence. Once again, the future of an African state depends on the whims of an aging dictator.

Mr. Tupy is a policy analyst at the Cato Institute's Center for Global Liberty and Prosperity. Mr. Richardson is an associate professor of economics at Winston-Salem University, North Carolina.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zanu PF official admits to use of election violence

Tuesday, 05 June 2012 15:13

By Janet Shoko

A top Zanu PF official who seats in the highest decision making body - the
politburo - has admitted that her party regularly enlists services of a
militia unit to unleash violence on political opponents.

′′Chipangano—the notorious shadowy militant Zanu PF group Harare's oldest
suburb of Mbare has been accused of murder, violence, robbery, intimidation,
coercion, looting and disrupting businesses owned by opposition activists.′′

Zanu PF secretary for women's league, Oppah Muchinguri on Monday told
journalists in the capital that her party engages the services of the group.

′′Muchinguri, who is co-chairperson of the Joint Monitoring and
Implementation Committee (Jomic), said Chipangano was being "hired" by
politicians from Zanu PF.

"These youths are being used by politicians and Chipangano is on hire," she

′′Muchinguri said the coalition government must speedily act on the group by
"sending a message to other similar groups that might want to come up,"′′
Chipangano was formed in 2000 as a small group, intended to spearhead Zanu
PF's election campaign and weed out all known anti-Zanu PF elements from

This was after the then newly formed opposition party, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, won both
Mbare parliamentary seats in the 2000 elections.′′

Gang members were supposed to be paid, but the funds to do not filter down
through Zanu-PF ranks. Many group members have claimed that they never
received any payment after joining.′′ As a result, many members of
Chipangano resorted to criminal activities, which they carried out with

′′The Zanu PF leadership appears to be at a loss as to how to deal with the

Some senior party leaders like Zanu PF secretary for administration, Didymus
Mutasa, have claimed ownership of the group, publicly pledging the party
would stand by them to the extent of providing legal counsel if its members
were arrested.′′

Bulawayo East MP Tabitha Khumalo (MDC) a member of JOMIC says Zanu PF
politicians were using violence as a tool to acquire or retain political

She says four units make up Chipangano.′′

The first unit identifies MDC activists, the second carries out surveillance
and monitors individuals and structures of the MDC, says Khumalo.′′ The
third wing then approaches their target and verbally warns them of dire
consequences of supporting the MDC-T.

′′"Chipangano four is the deadliest of all the groups. This group beats the
hell out of you" explained Khumalo.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zimbabwe sends peacekeepers to Syria

Military peacekeepers Syria - Zimbabwe said Tuesday it was sending a
contingent of military peacekeepers to Syria as part of United Nations
efforts to bring peace to the war-torn Arab country. Maj.-Gen. Trust Mugoba
said the country had been asked by the UN to contribute peacekeepers to
Syria. He said the peacekeepers, whose strength he did not reveal, were
currently being trained for deployment to Syria.

'As you know, last week during the commemorations of United Nations
Peacekeepers Day, Minister of Defence Emmerson Mnangagwa said Zimbabwe had
been invited to take part in Syrian peacekeeping mission, thus we have
already started training,' he said.

Zimbabwe has forces in several United Nations peacekeeping missions,
including Liberia and Indonesia.

Rebels, backed by powerful Arab and Western countries, are fighting to
topple the Syrian government in a conflict the UN estimates has killed over
10,000 people over the last 18 months.

Pana 05/06/2012

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Coltart: sanctions impeding democracy fight

Functional relationship ... David Coltart with President Robert Mugabe

EDUCATION Minister David Coltart was recently in the United States lobbying for the removal of sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and members of his inner circle.

A human rights lawyer, Coltart is a vocal opponent of Mugabe - and a member of the rival political party – but he believes that the sanctions cause the country more harm than good and provide the Zanu PF leader with a convenient scapegoat.

While in Washington DC, Coltart sat down for an interview about the situation in the country with Marian Tupy, a policy analyst at the Cato Institute's center for global liberty and prosperity.

What was the state of education in Zimbabwe when you became the minister of education in February 2009?

In 2008, we only had 28 full teaching days. When I took office in February 2009, 98 percent of all schools were shut and 90,000 teachers were on strike. Exams from the previous year were still unmarked.

There was no money for education in the government's budget, and textbook-to-pupil ratio was 15-to-one. My department was not computerised and our data collection system had collapsed. Basically, the education system was in an extreme crisis.

What have you accomplished since taking over and what are the most pressing challenges remaining?

First, I established an open-door policy and a rapport with teachers' unions, which the previous minister ignored and treated with suspicion. I allowed parents to pay performance incentives to teachers whose salaries were a mere $100 per month back then.

Those policies resulted in teachers returning to work and today the teacher attendance rate is excellent. I set up an education transition fund that allowed the USA, UK, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Netherlands, Japan, Australia, and New Zealand to bypass Zimbabwe's government and help to finance our education system directly.

I also managed to break a domestic textbook publishing cartel -- three Zimbabwean companies that colluded to make windfall profits. I authorized UNICEF [the United Nations Children's Fund] to hold an international tender and the cost of books came down to 70 cents from five dollars. Textbook ratio fell to 1-to-1 and is now the best in Africa.

The review of the national curriculum remains a problem. Last reform of the curriculum was in 1986. It is clearly very outdated, but some in Zanu PF are being obstructionist, because they fear the introduction of civic education and a more objective, non-partisan history syllabus. Another problem is that teachers are still paid only half [$400] of what their South African counterparts earn. We also worry about the physical security of the teachers.

Teachers are held in high regard - especially in the rural areas - where Zanu PF has traditionally been relatively strong. Teachers are usually victimised during elections, because people vote in schools and teachers are viewed as sympathetic to the opposition. My worry is that in case of renewed violence, teachers will be targeted and leave again.

How has the relationship between the Zanu PF and the MDC parties evolved over the last three years?

It started as very tense and distrustful. Later it has evolved into a more functional relationship, not quite cordial, but functional.

There is some close cooperation between the MDC and more moderate elements within Zanu PF. There has even been the occasional support in the cabinet and parliament for policies proposed by the MDC.

What has been done to increase political freedom - including freedom of information, speech, and assembly - in Zimbabwe?

The media laws have been relaxed. Two independent newspapers -- The Daily News and Newsday -- are operating freely and doing well. Unfortunately, there has been little liberalisation when it comes to the broadcast media, such as the radio and TV, which remain under Zanu PF control.

Internet is uncensored and widely available, but it is relatively expensive. Freedom to protest is limited by the Public Order and Security Act.

How were the events of the Arab spring perceived in Zimbabwe?

The Arab Spring was met by a mixed set of emotions. Zanu PF was horrified and tried to clamp down on videos of protests in North Africa, and responded by arresting anyone who suggested that similar protests would be a good idea in the Zimbabwean context.

Civil society proved remarkably unresponsive. A lot of people are tired of the struggle. Let us also not forget that much of the human capital - our best and brightest - have left Zimbabwe and live abroad.

Do you expect the next parliamentary and presidential elections, which are to be held next year, to be peaceful, free, and fair?

I don't expect them to be completely peaceful or totally fair, but I am hopeful that they will be much freer than last time. There is potential that they will be the best elections so far.

The legal environment has improved. We will have better election laws this time around. Also, one of the key benefits of being in the same room with our opponents for three years is that they treat us with diminished hostility.

Some analysts predict that the power-sharing agreement will continue after the elections. Is that a likely scenario?

It is certainly a possibility. One scenario that I can envisage is collaboration between the moderate wing of Zanu PF and the MDC.

The benefit of this arrangement would be to pacify the military and prevent a coup d'etat [by forces loyal to Mugabe] after an expected MDC win. That would benefit the MDC, while allow the moderates within Zanu PF to have a stake in the future.

What can the international community do to help in a peaceful transfer of power from the Zanu PF to the MDC?

I think that the West should be more proactive. Some countries have largely disengaged from Zimbabwe and that has played into the hands of the hardliners in the Zanu PF.

If the Western countries reengage, ordinary Zimbabweans will be more confident that the process of democratization will go on and succeed in the end.

Ordinary Zimbabweans will see that there are tangible benefits to an alliance with the West and to democracy. Moderates in the Zanu PF also need to be reengaged - they have the power to keep the military in their barracks.

Zimbabwe's economy is growing again. What are the main drivers of growth?

The main drivers of growth are primarily mining (platinum, gold, and diamonds), tourism, and aspects of agriculture (tobacco and cotton). Industry has also picked up, but industrial capacity utilization is still very low.

What, if anything, is the government doing to improve the business environment?

This is a highly controversial area, because of a fundamental disagreement between the two parties. Zanu PF is pushing for indigenization - or redistribution of 51 percent of shares in businesses to African hands.

Ostensibly, this measure is to benefit ordinary Zimbabweans, but in reality it will only benefit senior Zanu PF leaders. There is, consequently, a lot of hostile rhetoric that deters domestic and foreign investment.

The MDC recognises the need for empowerment of ordinary Zimbabweans, but also the need for a good business environment, including low tariffs and low taxes.

We want to move beyond relying on extractive industries and "grow the cake." As the cake grows, more Zimbabweans will benefit. Zanu PF wants to redistribute the current cake, especially to its cronies.

Zanu PF is not ignorant of the requirements of competing in a global economy, but they are self-interested and greedy. They see indigenization as electorally popular and they like a discretionary business environment that allows them to collect rents and bribes.

What is the role of the Chinese in the Zimbabwean economy and also in terms of propping up Robert Mugabe?

The Chinese role in the economy is increasing. China is a source of cheap imports: clothes and food. That is not a bad thing per se, but our business environment is so bad that it does not allow our domestic firms to compete with the Chinese.

They have received huge infrastructure contracts - like rebuilding the Victoria Falls Airport - and contracts to build roads. Most of the work is performed by the Chinese, not Zimbabweans.

The Chinese are also heavily involved in the mining sector, especially in the mining of diamonds. There is precious little transparency and we see almost no revenue from the diamond mines. Where is all that money going? Is it going to the military or to Zanu PF?

I fear that may be the case. The Chinese are also constructing a huge military intelligence training center worth some $70 million for the Zanu PF- controlled Ministry of Defense. So, there is plenty to be concerned about.

What would you say to (Zimbabweans in the Diaspora) regarding their current and future prospects for making a decent living?

At present, it is very difficult to attract Zimbabweans back to Zimbabwe. We have very few jobs for professional and skilled people. We need them, but we cannot promise much to them at present. They have to come home with their eyes wide open.

Much will depend on the outcome of the next election. Zimbabweans abroad must perceive changes in Zimbabwe as fundamental and irreversible. But without the return of these skilled Zimbabweans, future economic growth will be stunted.

(But) do people feel like the worst is behind them, or is there a widespread cynicism regarding people's ability to pursue their livelihoods?

It is a mix. People's lives have improved. We now have a currency (the U.S. dollar) that retains its value, and shops and pharmacies are full.

Development indicators are improving. But many Zimbabweans fear that the hardliners in the military will take the country back to 2008.

There is also a growing cynicism over politicians of all stripes, including some in the MDC. People see a huge difference in wealth between the political class and the rest, and they do not like it.

The challenge for the MDC is to show people that it will fundamentally change politics in Zimbabwe. People do not want to see a change of faces at the top with no change in their lifestyles.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

JOMIC presses leaders on violence

04/06/2012 00:00:00
    by Staff Reporter

PARTY leaders must back their calls against political violence with concrete
action and “immediately” hold joint rallies to help end clashes between
their supporters across the country, Jomic officials have said.

The call by Jomic – the committee which monitors the GPA - follows last week’s
disturbances in Mudzi where violent clashes between MDC-T supporters and
Zanu PF rivals resulted in the death of an MDC-T activist.

Both President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have
called for an end to political violence but they are yet to hold the joint
rallies promised by their parties as part of efforts to calm divisions.

Addressing a press conference in Harare Monday Jomic national committee
members said the GPA principals must “walk the talk” to help end political

Said Tabitha Khumalo of the MDC-T: “It’s now a trend that whenever the word
election is mentioned, violence erupts. Elections do not mean war. It is
about campaigning and selling your party’s ideology and there is no reason
to fight.
"Our principals should move in quickly and work with various stakeholders to
avoid more shedding of blood."

Frank Chamunorwa (MDC) added: “If they (leaders) are all genuine in their
calls to end political violence and if it is not grandstanding then they
should go to all corners of the country instructing, preaching peace and
persuading their members to desist from violence.

“It is high time they stand up and walk the talk than just denouncing it
through the media. The principals are a key component if we are to take
information to the grassroots levels.

“Yes, they might denounce violence at public gatherings but remember people
are in all parts of the country and there will be sense in it if they visit
all the 10 provinces.”

MDC-T activist Cephas Magura, 60, was allegedly stoned to death after
clashes broke out between MDC-T and Zanu PF supporters attending rival
rallies at a Mudzi business centre. Seven people have since been arrested
and will face murder charges.
Chamunorwa said the police did not helped matters by allowing the parties to
hold rival rallies at the business centre at the same time.

“Our police is one of the best in the world but I am surprised that in some
cases they book two political parties at the same venue at the same time
despite the fact that they know how polarised the environment is,” he said.

“Some police officers are overzealous and they masquerade as entities on
their own without following the protocol.”

Zanu PF’s Jomic representative Oppah Muchinguri said political parties
should also engage their provincial structures and local leaders such as
chiefs as part of the campaign against violence.

“It’s high time stern action be taken against those who incite or are
involved in political violence. Let us quickly trace the history of this
violence and find ways of dealing with this issue of individualism,” she

“What happened in Mudzi is a peculiar and disturbing situation and we are
calling on all stakeholders including MPs, councillors and chiefs to
dissuade people from engaging in violence.

“Murder and violence should be dealt with and the onus is on us to engage as
many stakeholders as possible. We should speak one language and condemn
whoever and whichever political party is involved in violence.”

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Family of evicted farmer dispute Mutinhiri invasion account

By Lance Guma
05 June 2012

The family of the late tobacco farmer Guy Cartwright have spoken out about how former ZANU PF MP Tracy Mutinhiri and her ex husband, a retired army brigadier, violently took over their Waltondale Farm in Marondera.

Mutinhiri was the ZANU PF Women’s League Political Commissar and also the Deputy Minister of Labour and Social Welfare in the shaky coalition government before she was expelled in August last year, for allegedly de-campaigning the party. She joined the MDC-T a few days after the expulsion.

Last week Mutinhiri was a guest on SW Radio Africa’s Question Time and sought to explain how she and former husband, retired army brigadier Ambrose Mutinhiri, had taken over the farm from the Cartwright family.

Mutinhiri suggested that after initial resistance from the Cartwright family, they eventually struck an ‘amicable agreement’ which included buying some of their farm implements. SW Radio Africa invited Douglas Cartwright the son of the late Guy Cartwright, to give the family’s version of events.

Douglas said that the seizure of the farm had given them “huge emotional trauma and obviously financial stress in our lives.” He recounted how on the 6th of April 2002 a mob led by Brigadier Mutinhiri “marched straight onto the property and into our home.”

Cartwright said, at one point, his father was forced to pack his belongings while Brigadier Mutinhiri held a sjambok in his hand. He denied claims by Tracy Mutinhiri that they struck an ‘agreement’ to sell them their farm equipment, saying all they managed to get was some of their tobacco crop.

“They were particularly rowdy and seemed to be under the influence (of alcohol or drugs). Since that moment we were denied access to our homes and to our livelihoods as born Zimbabweans,” Cartwright said. He said the Mutinhiri’s had no offer letter nor was the farm designated under the Land Acquisition Act.

“They were operating under their personal greed. We don’t think it was state sanctioned. So we applied to the High Court to have an order to remove these illegal occupants, which was granted, but they ignored it. And I need to repeat that they are still there without our family’s permission and they remain there with impunity,” Cartwright said.

SW Radio Africa understands several MDC-T activists in Marondera are not happy with Mutinhiri joining their party and have started compiling affidavits to be used in opposing her membership.

Mutinhiri was meanwhile introduced to thousands of cheering party supporters at the burial of Cephas Magura, an MDC-T official murdered by ZANU PF thugs in Mudzi last week. She stood up to recite her first public MDC-T slogan before taking her seat.

The full interview with Douglas Cartwright: Click Here


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Over 7 000 Zimbabweans Deported From South Africa

Johannesburg, June 05, 2012- Over 7 000 Zimbabweans were deported from South
Africa between January and March this year, according to a joint report by
the Solidarity Peace Trust (SPT) and People Against Suffering Oppression and
Poverty (Passop).

The report dubbed 'perils and pitfalls’ indicates that “between October and
December 2011 the Beitbridge border handled 7 755 deportees, while an
additional 7 177 Zimbabweans were deported between January and March 2012”.

The two organisations called on the South African government to halt the
militarisation of immigration raids at a meeting on Tuesday.

Commenting on the legislative regime governing immigration, Bram Henekom,
from Passop warned that “the policies being promoted by the government will
ultimately see Africans fighting fellow Africans like what was experienced
in 2008”.

The recommendations come a few months after the South African government
instituted a bill that will see illegal immigrants being imprisoned for up
to four years.

Professor Brian Raftopolous, who also addressed the meeting lamented that
“people are being deported without proper procedures” asking for the “rule
of law to prevail”.

South Africa’s uniformed forces have in the past been accused of abusing
illegal immigrants at the port of entries and seeking bribes as to allow
them entry into the country.

The two leading civic groups also added that “better training on immigration
law for South African Police Service and the South Africa National Defense
Forces (SANDF) from immigration control is necessary in order to
demilitarise immigration raids”.

The joint SPT, Passop report states that it is costly to the Pretoria
administration to continue deporting foreigners considering that “between
2009 and 2010, immigration control bill was as high as 1.8 billion rands”.

Some of the reports within the Department of Home Affairs indicate that the
government is hastily planning to move all refugee reception offices near
the border.

Raftopolous said there was need for international consensus on resolving
Harare political quagmires.

“The political mediation should lead to normalisation of situation in
Zimbabwe as deportation is not the solution”, added Raftopolous.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

“Don't come near my banks,” - Gono warns Kasukuwere

By Staff Reporter 20 hours 42 minutes ago

RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono has reiterated that no banks
should be indigenised according to the equity model. He was addressing
delegates at the Affirmative Action Group banking sector meeting in Harare
last week.

“What we are advocating for here is for a supply side approach to
indigenisation for the financial services sector,” he said.

“The equity approach is not feasible for the banking sector in respect of
the AAG’s membership, as each individual will end up with negligible
 equity.”  Dr Gono outlined the benefits of the supply side approach.

“Assuming a national cake of US$1 billion and 68 percent (US$680 million) is
spent on raw materials and inputs and that 75 percent of this is supplied by
indigenous players, this translates US$510 million that can be available to
indigenous people,” he said. “This yields higher benefits compared to
dividends accruing to the indigenous population of US$5,1 million under the
equity approach, assuming a 10 percent dividend policy.” Dr Gono also warned
the AAG against taking a militant approach to indigenisation of the banking
sector, but urged them to continue with the engagement process.

“Do not come near my banks,” said the governor.

He said his stance on indigenisation was outlined in the October 2007
Monetary Policy Statement, which entails the empowerment of the majority of
Zimbabweans through the introduction of enabling statutes that expand wider
involvement of the people in the mainstream economy.

Gono has been propagating a Supply and Distribution Indigenisation and
Empowerment (SaDIE) model, which is premised on the participation of a broad
spectrum of the population through the supply and distribution chain across
the range of sectors.

Under the SaDIE model, indigenous Zimbabweans could benefit from contracts
to supply inputs and services to the range of the country’s economic
sectors. But the equity model, which is backed by the indigenisation law,
requires that all foreign companies operating in the country sell at least
51 percent of their equity to indigenous parties.

To this extent, it may also apply to sectors beyond the financial services

Dr Gono added that under the supply-side model, the thresholds of the
indigenisation could be pushed upwards. “In terms of SaDIE, we can actually
begin to require that, of all inputs that companies use, at least 80 percent
should be supplied by indigenous people.

“I am not saying that the equity approach is not right, but what we are
seeking to do here is to complement it,” he said. Dr Gono said he had last
week held discussions with the Minister of Youth Development, Indigenisation
and Empowerment Saviour Kasukuwere over working with the National
Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board to implement the SaDIE.

AAG president Mr Keith Guzah welcomed the governor’s suggestions. “We will
give our weight to the governor’s proposals, which allow a majority of our
people to benefit from the opportunities in the economy,” he said.

Bankers’ Association of Zimbabwe president Mr George Guvamatanga said he was
supportive of initiatives by the AAG to empower locals and the proposals by
the RBZ Governor.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Time Bank accuses RBZ of bad faith, negligence

Written by Business Writer
Tuesday, 05 June 2012 10:31

HARARE - The new Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) board’s independence is
under stern test after Time Bank of Zimbabwe Limited (Time Bank)’s umpteenth
demand for the release of its key assets, including a computer system.

This comes as the Chris Tande-led bank has written to the Central Bank for
the return of its computer system and in fulfilment of a 2009 handover
process between the two institutions.

“In fairness to Time Bank… we hereby request the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to
handover to Time Bank… within the next 10 days the remaining assets of Time
Bank, including the computer system as per our written agreement with you,
failure of which, we will regard the conduct of the RBZ and its employees as
being done in bad faith and as negligent,” the bank said in a May 11 letter
addressed to licensing chief Norman Mataruka.

Although the main Bank’s directors are “immune” from legal action due to a
2010 RBZ Act amendment, Time Bank could still raise such claims – in terms
of Section 63A of the same law – on the grounds that the
current delays are in effect negligent and in bad faith.

Under a raft of June 2009 agreements, the central bank, former curator
Tinashe Rwodzi and Time Bank’s owners had agreed to a procedural
verification of assets – to ascertain inventories prior to and after
Rwodzi’s tenure, and as part of the hand over-take over process – but the
process has stalled due to the main Bank’s failure to meet its endn of the

After businessdaily’s February report that the bank had appealed to Finance
minister Tendai Biti for a temporary relief to run an investment bank
operation, it is understood that Time Bank is still
hopeful of a solution from authorities.

After launching its investment banking activities, the bank would then go
into full commercial banking services.

About three months ago, the bank said it was unable to fully operate as a
commercial banking entity due to five key unresolved issues with the apex

The development has also prevented Time Bank from complying fully with the
RBZ’s prudential and other regulatory requirements, thus forcing it to
pursue a phased re-launch of its services.

“Our decision to go into investment banking was necessitated by the
unresolved issues mainly between Time Bank and the RBZ,” insiders said then.

Upon reinstatement of its operating licence by the Administrative Court in
2009, the banking group announced that it was embarking on limited banking
services and activities, which included a civil
sector-based loan scheme.

And in its latest engagement with authorities, Time Bank is seeking a
release of such key resources as its core operating system – mainly
hardware, software and computer printouts – by the main bank and it is
hoping for a speedy resolution of its $15 million memorandum of deposit
(MOD) claim on the RBZ.

Apart from wanting the RBZ to honour its own word and permission for the
local bank to reflect about 50 percent of the MOD claim on its books, Time
Bank has also asked for relief and time to sort out
Watermount Estates’ compulsory acquisition by government.

In those appeals, the bank not only asked for permission to include key
assets such as the eastern Harare residential estate – valued at about $25
million – as part of its capital, but has also requested for
a similar grace period to fix its capitalisation issues in line with a
November 2009 RBZ discretion for banks to use properties as assets.

“As supervisory authorities and in agreement with the accounting/auditing
profession, and the International Monetary fund, the RBZ accepted restate
values of owner-occupied and investment properties, subject to prudential
haircuts, as part of qualifying capital,” governor Gideon Gono said then.

In lieu of these developments, Time Bank is not only hopeful of a relief or
special consideration, but also believes that it $35 million assets can
easily be deployed to restore its former status, as one of
Zimbabwe major local banks.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

ZESA seals US$230m India deal

05/06/2012 00:00:00
    by Bloomberg

THE Zimbabwe Power Company has signed a $230 million memorandum of
understanding with India’s Wapcos Ltd to overhaul the country’s three
thermal stations.

The plants covered are Bulawayo, Hwange and Munyati, Zimbabwe Power, the
power generating unit of Zesa Holdings (Pvt) Ltd., said in a newsletter
published Tuesday.

The memorandum also includes a feasibility study for the Gairezi hydro-power
station and upgrading the Deka pumping station for Hwange Power Station,
Zesa said.
It didn’t say when the agreement was signed.
The power utility is struggling to meet national demand with supplies being
rationed to both commercial and domestic users.

Zesa currently generates about 1,116 megawatts of electricity today against
a national demand of between 1,900 to 2,200 megawatts and tries to plug the
gap with imports from regional suppliers.

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

ZESA Angers Glen Norah Residents

HRT Membership Desk

4 June 2012, Glen Norah – ZESA has adopted punitive measures to defaulting
residents here who have not been paying their electricity bills consistently
by embarking in wide spread electricity disconnections. Residents in the
area have various reasons why they have not been settling their monthly
electricity bills.  Residents feel that electricity bills are based on
estimates and are not a true reflection of the consumption at household
level, load shedding and faulty billing. This has frustrated some
breadwinners in the community who earn way below the poverty datum line.
This has left them with what they said “no reason to pay electricity bills”.
This contradicts the HRT policy which advocates for shared responsibility
between residents and service providers in service delivery. From the HRT’s
perspective, residents should exhibit their responsibility in service
delivery mainly by paying bills for services rendered.  However, rates
should be affordable for the good of the greater public.

Having received the reports of massive power disconnections from the Glen
Norah B’ Residents’ Committee (GRC), that is responsible for monitoring and
evaluating community service delivery by service providers, the HRT
facilitated a mobile case work clinic in the area. From the interviews held
by the HRT Membership Officer, Simbarashe Majamanda, HRT Community
Coordinator Ms Abigail Itayi and the HRT Programs Intern, Mr Marshall
Masiyazi from the Midlands State University on Tuesday 29 May 2012 in Glen
Norah B Community, the dire economic situation of the country has affected
the capacity of residents to pay electricity bills.  Most residents
appreciated that they have an obligation to pay for their electricity but
they have failed due to their socio-economic status. Eighty-nine (89)
reports from 53 women and 36 men were received and documented by the HRT
team within three hours at one of the households in the community.

The local Member of Parliament Honourable Gift Dzirutwe is seriously
concerned with the situation. He has helped the residents to deal with the
situation through sharing information and providing transport to the ZESA
offices in the city centre.

The following key issues came from the interviews:

    Economic problems: Elderly men and women interviewed aged between 59 and
75 said they lack a source of income which has affected their capacity to
settle their electricity bills.  Elderly women said that most of them are
widowed and they rely mostly on vending activities which does not give them
much money for survival. As vendors they also face challenges from the
Zimbabwe Republic Police and Municipal Police who conduct raids in the name
of illegal vending activities. This clearly shows that they also lack access
to designated vending points or that they do not afford them if they are

    Faulty billing: Residents said that even if they make payments to ZESA,
the debt continues to sky rocket. “It appears making a payment is an
indication that you have a bit of money that ZESA can suck from you” said
one elderly man  aged  85 who showed that he does not have any hope to clear
his debt which currently stands at $954.21 Account Number 283786651. The man
went on to say that he was prepared to pay $45.00 per month for electricity.

    Growing insecurity: There is a feeling that residents may lose their
properties just as what happened to three households in Mabvuku after debt
collectors confiscated their properties due to outstanding water rates in
February 2012. Elderly women said that the high debts have caused insecurity
to their children who are the heirs to their properties which they have also
not fully acquired from council under the “rent to buy program”.

    Unprofessional conduct by ZESA employees: Some of the interviewees
revealed that ZESA officials are very uncooperative and hostile whenever
they attempt seeking detailed explanations on their accounts. Residents in
the area have resorted to bribing ZESA employees around $30.00 to avoid
disconnection of electricity. Several residents have done this in the
community and continue to fall prey to the ZESA employees.

    Transition to multicurrency system: Although the ZESA Public Relations
Officer, Mr Fullard Gwasira reported to HRT Communications Officer, Mr
Shingayi Jena that ZESA indicated that ZESA scrapped off debts from
residents accounts following the transition from the Zimbabwe dollar era to
the multi-currency regime in February 2009, residents in the area are of the
view that the transition was ill- managed and lacked transparency. From the
residents’ viewpoint, the debts have accumulated largely due to estimated
billing, the manipulated transition from the local currency to the
multi-currency system, and the interest charged on overdue accounts.

Current situation: HRT offices are overwhelmed by residents who have ZESA
complaints and they require ZESA’s assistance. The HRT Membership Desk is
receiving reports of unprofessional conduct by the Harare ZESA Sales
Managers specifically the ZESA Sales Manager who are telling referred
clients that they are not prepared to read HRT referral letters in which the
HRT writes to seek their intervention on individual cases. ZESA is saying
that residents whose electricity was disconnected are supposed to settle
their bills in full.  According to one female client this morning, the ZESA
sales manager told her that he was not going to read her letter. She
mentioned that she is prepared to pay $50.00 per month.  She was advised
that she could pay the $50.00 per month until her debt is cleared then her
electricity would be reconnected.  Last week, some clients were assisted by
the Sales Manager but it was upon payment of 25% of the debt which was
reduced to the previous 50% requirement. There is growing tension between
ZESA and the residents of Glen Norah. Some residents have resorted to
reconnecting power illegally which is contrary to the HRT policy.  They have
and are also using the few dollars they had reserved to paying their
electricity for other pressing needs at household level.

If the situation continues, ZESA employees face the risk of experiencing a
backlash from disgruntled residents. It is up to ZESA to treat residents
with respect or regret their uncalled for actions. It is time to change the
approach or be forced to change the approach! The choice is for ZESA to

This will not benefit ZESA or the resident. We need to be realistic to
address residents’ needs as well as the capacity needs of ZESA as the
service provider.

For details and comments, please contact us on or our website

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Tsvangirai out-foxes Mugabe

MOSES MATENGA/ WONAI MASVINGISE 9 hours 11 minutes ago

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai last Friday gave regional leaders a
blow-by-blow account of how President Robert Mugabe has disregarded their
power- sharing agreement in his desperate push for fresh elections without

Sources said the account by Tsvangirai at the Southern African Development
Community (Sadc) Organ on Defence, Politics and Security meeting in Angola
persuaded the regional leaders to put brakes on Mugabe’s election plans.

The organ — made up of South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania — asked Zimbabwe to
hold elections in the next 12 months after reforms to avoid another

According to a speech delivered by Tsvangirai that was made available to
NewsDay yesterday, the MDC-T leader also exposed Zanu PF ministers who were
blocking the necessary reforms.

He tore through Mugabe’s plans to rush the polls and warned the efforts Sadc
had put in addressing the Zimbabwe imbroglio would go to waste if the
88-year-old leader was allowed to have his way.

“It is very irresponsible to call for elections before the completion of the
new constitution and other reforms given the time and resources invested
into the process and the support given by Sadc,” he said.

“There is a deliberate effort to unilaterally collapse the GPA (Global
Political Agreement) and resort to an election under the old constitution.

“Zanu PF is keen to collapse the inclusive government even it if it means
going it alone. This will be a betrayal of the painstaking efforts by the AU
(African Union), Sadc and the facilitator to bring a solution to the
Zimbabwe crisis.”

Mugabe did not read from a prepared speech and his task was made difficult
by Zambian President Michael Sata who reportedly kept making “childish”statements
in support of his ally.

MDC leader Welshman Ncube also reportedly took Mugabe head-on and angered
the veteran ruler in the process.

Tsvangirai singled out Media, Information and Publicity minister Webster
Shamu, Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa and service
chiefs as the major stumbling blocks to reforms.

He said it was time the regional leaders helped end the Zimbabwe crisis that
had gone unresolved for too long.

“It is a crisis that is affecting the economic capacity of the region as
Zimbabweans seek economic and political refuge in neighbouring countries. It
is time to put an end to this crisis,” the PM said.

“In this regard, any call for elections that is oblivious to the roadmap and
to Sadc resolutions respecting the same roadmap is not only a breach of
agreements, but is dangerous and lays the basis for further instability in
Zimbabwe.” He said Mugabe was to blame for the lack of progress in the
inclusive government‘s reform agenda.

“Regrettably, Your Excellencies, I have to say that much of the
non-implementation has arisen out of deliberate inaction by Mugabe and his
ministers,” Tsvangirai added.

“A good example is the continuous refusal by the Minister of Media,
Information and Publicity to implement agreed media reforms.”

He said Mugabe made several unilateral actions such as the re-appointment of
service chiefs in violation of the GPA.

Tsvangirai also expressed concern at statements by the service chiefs who
have vowed not to recognise anyone who beats Mugabe in elections. He made
reference to statements by Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and
army generals Constantine Chiwenga, Douglas Nyikayaramba and Martin

He also told the meeting of statements by Chinamasa supporting the army’s
involvement in politics.

“Clearly the issue of military interference in politics is a cancer that the
region cannot and should not tolerate,” he said.

He called for the amendment of the Public Order and Security Act,
demilitarisation and professionalisation of the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission and
security sector reforms. - NewsDay

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

SADC position on Zim situation commendable

Tuesday, 05 June 2012

The MDC hails SADC’s position that Zimbabwe must proceed with the
implementation of the outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement
and the Roadmap to free and fair Elections.

This flies in the face of Zanu PF’s crusade aimed at holding the plebiscite
this year.

In its communiqué at the end of the Extraordinary Summit of SADC Heads of
State and Government in Luanda, Angola on 1 June 2012, the regional bloc
urged the parties to the GPA, assisted by South African President and SADC
Facilitator Jacob Zuma, to develop an implementation mechanism and to set
out time frames for the full implementation of the Roadmap to Elections.

The MDC commends SADC’s refusal to bow down to Zanu PF’s demands for an
election this year, with or without a new constitution, a clear sign of high
professional integrity on the part of the grouping. What makes sense is that
elections should be process driven and judging from the time it will take to
go through all the milestones in the roadmap, realistic dates should be
between July and September 2013.

Zanu PF had prior to the summit sent envoys to SADC states canvassing for
support to be allowed to hold elections under the Lancaster House
Constitution. However the ailing party failed to garner the support of the
SADC leaders. The writing is on the wall for Robert Mugabe and his party as
it is clear that SADC is fed up and will not tolerate any more of his antics
and theatrics. His advisors have misread the SADC leaders and therefore
continue to mislead him.

What makes SADC’s resolution more significant is that it is in tandem with
UN Human Rights Commissioner, Navanethem Pillay’s statement at the end of
her five-day official visit in the country on Africa Day where she urged
that conditions for a free and fair election be in place before elections
are held.

The MDC has faith in the SADC appointed facilitator and his capacity and
capability to guide the country to a free and fair election, the first ever
since the formation of the  MDC in 1999.

The roadmap stipulates that the country should uphold human rights,
democracy and rule of law, independence of the judiciary and electoral
institutions, security sector reform and equal access to state media by all
political players.

The party cannot over-emphasise this principle, more so, at a time Mugabe
and his party have escalated harassment and intimidation of members of the

The MDC steadfastly maintains its election preparedness but given the
violent nature of Zanu PF, the People’s Party of Excellence will not accept
an election that is not free and fair.

We encourage other regional and continental bodies to emulate SADC's
unwavering support aimed at bringing democracy and real change in Zimbabwe.

The people’s struggle for real change – Let’s finish!!!

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The MDC Today - Issue 369

Tuesday, 05 June 2012

Martin Muchiruka, the councillor for Ward 4 in Mutare North, Manicaland
province was yesterday arrested at his Odzi home on ridiculous charges of
donating bullets disguised as medical supplies to a local clinic in Odzi
three years ago.

Muchiruka spent the night at Odzi Police Station holding cells and was today
expected to be transferred today to Mutare Criminal Investigations
Department (CID) for further investigations.

The MDC notes with dismay at the upsurge in cases of violence, intimidation
and unwarranted arrests of its members across the country.

The people’s struggle for real change – Let’s finish!!!

Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

The Poverty Trap – The Economics Of Communal Land Use

June 5th, 2012

The Poverty Trap - The Economics Of Communal Land Use

By Dale Doré, a discussion paper in the Zimbabwe Land Series

Executive Summary

This paper recounts how the blossoming of smallholder agriculture in the mid-1980s began to fade when unsustainable costs began to mount. It tries to show that no amount of donor funds to support state-driven agricultural development will reduce poverty while households are entrapped in the current system of agriculture. At the system’s core lie the limited rights to land. Without the right to buy, sell, rent or otherwise transfer land, and when land and other natural resources are free for all, the system becomes beset by market failure, perverse incentives, waste and environmental degradation. The paper explains how, under the pressure of population growth, people’s livelihoods and the environment have been systematically decimated. A subsequent paper will show how modifications to the system can, over time, commercialise smallholder agriculture and emancipate rural Zimbabweans from a life of grinding poverty.

The rise and fall of smallholder agriculture

Hundreds of thousands of poor rural families struggle to subsist on smallholdings in the communal areas, much of it in semi-arid areas with poor soils. At Independence it was estimated that there were nearly three times as many people living in the communal areas than the land could sustain. The Zimbabwe Government therefore prioritised programmes to decongest the communal areas and reduce poverty. These included intensifying agriculture, resettling families, and encouraging families to migrate and settle in towns and cities.

Vindication for Zimbabwe’s agricultural intensification programme seemed to come when national smallholder maize and cotton production surpassed commercial farm production in 1985 and 1986. Rukuni and Eicher (1994) dubbed the country’s success ‘Zimbabwe’s second agricultural revolution’. Yet, by the close of the 1980s the rate of resettlement had slowed to a trickle, the expected migration of households had failed to materialise, and the costs of the smallholder agricultural miracle were being counted.

The problem started when the government offered generous producer prices to support smallholders, which created an oversupply of maize. The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) not only had to pay smallholders above the market price for all their produce, but its maize handling and storage costs soared. Moreover, it had to absorb the heavy costs of expanding its network of maize depots and collection points into areas that were not economically viable. To make matters worse, the government’s decision to subsidise urban maize consumption left the GMB with a burgeoning and unsustainable budget deficit.

Figure 1: Agricultural marketing losses during the 1980s [Source: Doré (2009)]

The government was suddenly forced to back-track, announce more realistic maize prices, and restrict credit to those who had repaid their loans. Inevitably, smallholder production declined. It turned out that the short-lived rise in smallholder production had been unsustainable and only achieved on the back of unpaid AFC loans and producer subsidies, and at the expense of GMB’s huge deficit. But there was another disturbing feature of the ‘maize miracle’: broad-based poverty reduction had proved illusionary. Research showed that three-quarters of smallholder maize sales came from only 10 percent of smallholder farmers who were located in the better farming areas (Rohrbach et al., 1990). Disturbingly, it also “deflected attention from the extensive and consistent reliance of a large proportion of smallholders on public food distribution programmes” (ibid:106).

By the mid-1990s, less and less was heard of efforts to address overcrowding and poverty in the communal areas, and the Rukuni Commission’s recommendations for communal land tenure reforms had been quietly shelved. As the communal areas stagnated as pools of poverty, resources were poured into the politically expedient resettlement programme. By then, the population in the already overcrowded communal areas had swollen to over one million households.

The perpetuation of poverty

As population growth reduced the availability of good arable land, farming households had two basic choices: families could either subdivide their good land into smaller and less viable plots, or they had to look for more marginal land elsewhere.

The first option entailed established farmers subdividing their good land between their married sons. Often this meant that the new farming family had too little land to both produce enough food to eat and market a surplus to earn cash. Without the surplus production, the new smallholder family would struggle to earn additional income to educate their children, maintain their family’s health and, crucially, buy fertilizer for the following year’s crop. In the event of poor weather or drought, the family would not even be able to feed itself. Inevitably, it would be added to the growing list of recipients of international food aid.

When rainfall is erratic, as it was during 2002/03, one in every three Zimbabweans – 5.5 million people – needed food assistance.1 As a result, Zimbabwe had to import 62 percent of its food requirements. Even when weather conditions improved, such as the 2009/10 season, 1.9 million Zimbabweans remained food insecure and 650,000 communal farmers were supported with agricultural inputs by the international community. The UN Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) noted that smallholders were “becoming increasingly dependent on emergency aid, losing self-reliance and the capacity to manage their own development in the future.”2

Consider a household’s second option. Unable to find land locally, a young family decides to look for better opportunities elsewhere. They soon discover that the traditional process of land allocation has been subverted by unscrupulous state and party officials. After paying them for allocating and demarcating marginal land that is unsuitable for cultivation, the family does not have insufficient means to buy fertilizer. Nor is it willing to make risky investments in farm improvements where returns are likely to be limited. A few years after clearing and cultivating the land, the soils are inevitably exhausted. The family then moves on, opening up still more land, setting in motion a debilitating process of deforestation, extensive cultivation and environmental degradation (Lele and Stone, 1989).

This migration into the more marginal, semi-arid communal areas, especially Gokwe, became apparent after the 1982 population census (Zinyama and Whitlow, 1986). Bruce (1990) later showed that the opening up of new areas for cultivation, rather than higher per hectare yields, accounted for almost all increased crop production in the communal areas. During my own research in the 1990s, the same patterns of movement into marginal areas were plainly evident in Uzumba and the Matabeleland forests, as well as Nyaminyami, where the communities own game fences proved no barrier to extensive cultivation. Today, driven by the current political and economic crisis, fragile wildlife habitat in the Cheredzi Conversancy and elsewhere is unlikely to survive the latest wave of land invasions.

The tragedy of the commons

The problem goes much deeper however. As more and more land is used for growing crops, cattle have to survive on ever-dwindling communal pastures. It was estimated, for example, that over a 10-year period the grazing areas had shrunk by 700,000 hectares (World Bank, 1985).

To make matters worse, grazing areas are a communally shared resource where the grazing of livestock is free. This means that each household has an incentive to maximise their own benefit by grazing as many of their livestock as possible. And, conversely, households try to minimize their costs by ‘externalising’ the environmental costs of overgrazing and erosion. Built into the system, therefore, are perverse incentives and processes that quicken the pace towards environmental decline, and which undermines the very resource base on which the livelihoods of families depend (Hardin, 1968).

All this results in what Drinkwater called the cattle paradox: far too many cattle for the available grazing areas, but all too few cattle to meet the households’ requirements for draft power. He observed, for example, that one area was 300 percent over-stocked in terms of its environmental carrying capacity; yet in terms of draught power needs, it was 53 percent under-stocked (Cliffe, 1986). The end result is that cattle – the smallholders most valuable form of capital – are gradually squeezed out of the agricultural system. About 45 percent of households own no cattle at all, and they are reduced to toiling with inefficient hand-held implements.

The inefficient allocation of productive resources

The defining feature of the system is that land cannot be officially bought, sold, rented or transferred. It cannot be owned. Rather, it is an intrinsically ‘free good’ that is acquired by the household for agricultural use. Basic economics tells us that as the price of a good goes down, its demand goes up. Thus, if land is a free good, then demand will be almost limitless and insatiable. Almost everyone will want it. Indeed, custom dictates that every married man is entitled to a free plot of land. But since land – especially good quality land – is in limited supply, the system of traditional land allocation eventually breaks down as households scramble to access whatever land is available.

This situation is bad enough, but the absence of a land market is made even worse by its knock-on effects on the labour and capital markets (collectively known as factor markets). Consider this. When the population grows, a relative scarcity of land develops. The expectation, therefore, is that agricultural production will be intensified by substituting land for labour. However, in the absence of price signals from a land market (which would show the price of land increasing relative to labour) households will continue to demand more land – even in the face of dire land shortages. Moreover, since labour itself becomes relatively cheap (due to the growing population) compared to capital (e.g. farm investments such as equipment and fertiliser), households will have an incentive to apply more labour to land rather than capital. Over time, these factor market distortions gradually squeeze vital capital requirements – especially the use of fertiliser – out of the agricultural system.

But the problem does not stop there. As it is relatively expensive for households to maintain the fertility of their soils, they would rather apply their relatively cheaper labour to clear woodland and open up more marginal land for cultivation. It is this process that sets in motion a system that perpetuates extensive cultivation, leaving in its wake exhausted soils, overgrazed pasture, erosion and silted dams.

Two further points deserve attention. The first is that the infusion of capital into an agricultural system is usually made possible by using land as collateral for loans for pay for farm investments. But, because the communal area farming system does not ascribe any underlying transferable value to land, even this opportunity is denied to the smallholder. The second point is that because land cannot be transferred or rented, the system offers no mechanism through which more efficient farmers can acquire more land. Better farmers are thus unable to consolidate their holdings into larger, more viable units to realise economies of scale and improve their farm income.


In analysing Zimbabwe’s smallholder agricultural system one is reminded of Myrdal’s concept of ‘circular and cumulative causation’. He described this as a process “continuously pressing levels downwards, in which one negative factor is, at the same time, both cause and effect of other negative factors” (1957:11). More recently, this concept was poignantly echoed by Leared: “Both the people and the environment”, he said, “suffer in an incessant spiral of despair” (2009:2).

Campbell and his team concluded “that the current processes of intensification and diversification are not leading people out of the poverty trap in semi-arid regions” where the majority of communal households live (2002:125). By almost any measure, most communal families remain chronically poor and trapped in an inefficient and Malthusian agricultural system. They survive only by the largesse of the international community and at the expense of the taxpayer and the environment.

The challenge is to start formulating a long term strategy of empowering smallholders by land reform programmes that create opportunities, incentives and pathways out of poverty. Land tenure reform that grants farmers stronger, more secure and tradable property rights will the lynch-pin for increased factor productivity, and the commercialisation and transformation of smallholder agriculture. How this can be achieved will be the subject of a subsequent paper.

1 FAO/WFP Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission to Zimbabwe, 19 June 2003.

2 The Zimbabwean, ‘UN halves Zim Humanitarian Appeal’, 30 November 2009.


Bruce, J. W. (1990) Legal Issues in Land Use and Resettlement. Background paper prepared for the World Bank (1991). Mimeograph: Harare.

Campbell, B., Sayer, J., Kozanayi, W., Luckert, M., Mutamba, M. and Zindi, C. (2002) Household livelihoods in semi-arid regions: Options and Constraints. Centre for International Forestry Research, Bogor.

Cliffe, L. (1986) Policy Options for Agrarian Reform in Zimbabwe: A Technical Appraisal. FAO Report: Harare.

Doré, D. (2009) The Recovery and Transformation of Zimbabwe’s Communal Areas. Comprehensive Economic Recovery in Zimbabwe, Working Paper Series No. 4, UNDP: Harare.

Hardin G. (1968) The Tragedy of the Commons. Science. 162:1243-4

Lele, U. and S. Stone (1989) Population Pressure, the Environment and Agricultural Intensification. MADIA Discussion Paper 4. World Bank: Washington, D.C.

Leared, H. (2009) Development Beachheads: The case for agricultural hubs as platforms for growth and development in sub-Saharan Africa. A Brenthurst Discussion Paper, Harare.

Myrdal, G. (1957) Economic Theory and Underdeveloped Regions. Duckworth: London.

Rohrbach, D.D., J. Stack, B. Heddon-Dunkhorst and J. Govereh (1990) Agricultural Growth and National Food Security. Proceedings of the First National Consultative Workshop, Juliasdale. Integrating Food, Nutrition and Agricultural Policy in Zimbabwe. University of Zimbabwe: Harare

Rukuni, M. and C. Eicher (eds) (1994) Zimbabwe’s Agricultural Revolution. University of Zimbabwe: Harare.

World Bank (1985) Zimbabwe: Land Subsector Study. World Bank: Washington D.C.

Zinyama, L.M. and J.R. Whitlow (1986) Changing Patterns of Population Distribution in Zimbabwe. Geojournal. 13(4).

Back to the Top
Back to Index

05/06/2012 00:00:00
by The Atlantic