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
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
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
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.
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.”
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,”
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
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
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
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 started.”
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.”
“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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
"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 session.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
′′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
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 Mbare.
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
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 group.
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.′′
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.′′
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
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
'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
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.
Functional relationship ... David
Coltart with President Robert
Minister David Coltart was recently in the United States lobbying for the
removal of sanctions against President Robert Mugabe and members of his inner
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
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.
the state of education in Zimbabwe when you became the minister of education in
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
have you accomplished since taking over and what are the most pressing
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
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
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
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.
the relationship between the Zanu PF and the MDC parties evolved over the last
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.
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.
uncensored and widely available, but it is relatively expensive. Freedom to
protest is limited by the Public Order and Security Act.
the events of the Arab spring perceived in
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
If the Western
countries reengage, ordinary Zimbabweans will be more confident that the process
of democratization will go on and succeed in the end.
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
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.
anything, is the government doing to improve the business
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
Addressing a press conference in Harare Monday Jomic national
committee members said the GPA principals must “walk the talk” to help end
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
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.”
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
“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
“Some police officers are overzealous and they masquerade as
entities on their own without following the protocol.”
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 said.
“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
“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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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,”
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
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
The full interview
with Douglas Cartwright: Click Here
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
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
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
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
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.
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
“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
“Do not come near my banks,” said the
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
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 sector.
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
“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
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.
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
“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
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.
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 bargain.
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
After launching its investment banking activities, the
bank would then go into full commercial banking services.
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.
decision to go into investment banking was necessitated by the unresolved
issues mainly between Time Bank and the RBZ,” insiders said then.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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 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 available.
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.
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.
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
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 make.
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.
MOSES MATENGA/ WONAI MASVINGISE 9 hours 11 minutes
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 reforms.
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 bloodlbath.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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.
Your Excellencies, I have to say that much of the non-implementation has
arisen out of deliberate inaction by Mugabe and his ministers,” Tsvangirai
“A good example is the continuous refusal by the Minister of
Media, Information and Publicity to implement agreed media
He said Mugabe made several unilateral actions such as the
re-appointment of service chiefs in violation of the GPA.
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
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
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 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 –
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
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!!!
Doré, a discussion paper in the Zimbabwe Land Series
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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”
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 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
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This entry was posted by Sokwanele on Tuesday, June 5th,
2012 at 9:09 pm