The Independent, UK
Washington was a member of the secret police who committed unspeakable
crimes on behalf of the African dictator. He escaped - but continues to be
tormented by what he did. By Olly Bootle and Emeka Onomo in Windhoek,
Published: 07 June 2007
As Washington drove out of Harare, he didn't know that there was a man,
barely breathing, in the back of his car.
He was nearing the end of his training for Zimbabwe's notorious secret
police - the Central Intelligence Organisation or CIO - but already his days
as an agent were numbered. His mission had seemed simple enough. "We were
given a car, and there was a trunk behind in the boot of the car," he
recalled. "The briefing was to get to Lake Kariba. There would be a boat
tied to a tree." In the boat, he was told, they would find the keys to the
trunk, and instructions on what to do with their cargo.
It was only when they stopped along the road for a drink that Washington
heard a noise coming from the boot of the car. "At first I thought I was
just imagining it, but I called the other guys to listen," he said. "I heard
some movements coming from the trunk, and a voice."
His terrifying story began less than two years previously, when Washington,
then aged 20 and desperate for a place at university, decided to enrol in
one of Zimbabwe's National Youth Service Training Camps. "A friend of mine
told me the reason I wasn't getting a place in university was because I
didn't have a National Youth Certificate."
What Washington didn't know was that horrifying stories had already emerged
from Zimbabwe about the youth camps. Though billed by the government as a
way of helping bored and unemployed youth to get off the streets, testimony
from people who had fled Zimbabwe suggested that they existed primarily as
brutal schools of indoctrination for Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu-PF party;
that rape in the camps was commonplace, and that some recruits were trained
in torture techniques. Within a few months of enrolling, Washington found
himself doing things he'd never have thought possible.
One night, he and some friends were plied with drugs and alcohol, and led
into an interrogation room at the camp. A girl lay there, handcuffed to the
wall. Washington's commanding officer told his recruits to rape the girl. "I
don't know what I was doing, but I just had sex with her," said Washington.
"I don't know whether I enjoyed it or not because I was drugged."
During the night, as he sobered up, the horror of what he had done struck
him. He realised he had to run away. When dawn came, as he tiptoed out of
his dormitory, he bumped into his friend, Gideon, who had also been forced
to rape the night before. "I asked him where he was going. He said: 'I also
want to run away. I can't stand it.'" They fled together.
Within minutes they were caught and dragged back to the camp. Washington
claimed he wasn't trying to flee, and was only beaten. Gideon refused to
make excuses, saying he'd had enough of the brutality of the camp. He was
beaten to death.
Washington's attempted escape persuaded his superiors that he had potential.
"We were told, 'Congratulations. Normally indiscipline and intelligence go
hand in hand. From now on you're different from the others'." Washington
found himself drafted into a training programme for the CIO.
This was late 2005, and Zimbabwe, collapsing under the tyrannical reign of
Robert Mugabe, had recently been battered by Operation Murambatsvina - the
President's vicious programme to clear the slums of Harare and the other big
cities. Nicknamed Operation Tsunami for its abruptness and ferocity, it
resulted in hundreds of thousands of people being made homeless, with no
access to food, water, or sanitation.
Over the next few months Washington says he and the select few who had been
chosen from the camps received weapons training; they learnt tai kwon-do;
they were told who they could and could not trust in the government.
But there were also darker elements to the training.
One day, Washington says his instructor took him into a room and presented
him with someone who had stolen cattle. "He said no one cares whether he
lives or whether he dies. So far as we are concerned he is long dead. He
said I should beat them under the feet. I said I can't do that. Then he took
a bottle of gin that was on the corner. He asked me to drink it. I could not
do it. He slapped me on the face. I drank it and we started smoking
marijuana. Then after we smoked I didn't really know what happened but I
beat him. At first he was crying then later on he just passed out and his
feet were black."
The torture training extended beyond beatings.
Washington was shown how to use electric wires, pliers and screwdrivers. He
also learnt what happened to opponents of the regime. "During the lessons we
were told that there are jails you know but there are some jails that you
don't know. We were told, 'Whatever we are going to see is going to be
between us only and whatever you see, don't tell anyone outside'."
They were taken to a car park. "There was a sort of a metal door on the
wall." The door was unlocked electronically, and the trainees were led
inside. "It was dirty, it was smelling," recalled Washington. He was
surprised to see a white foreigner. "He was so brown in colour, his hair was
so dirty. He went into the toilet then to the bathroom. He was washing his
face. I asked him what he was doing here. He did not reply to me at first.
Then I said, 'Where are you from?' He said, 'I came here a long time ago. I
was a tourist but I was suspected to be a CIA agent and I was kidnapped and
Washington does not know who the man was, or how long he'd been in prison.
"We were just told that these are political prisoners and that was it," he
said. It was a warning. Washington was told: if you try to run away,
whatever country you go to, as long as you are within our reach, we can get
But despite the warnings and the fear that had been drummed into him, what
Washington was instructed to do at Lake Kariba was enough to persuade him
that he had to flee.
When they arrived at the shores of Kariba, the vast, deep, man-made "sea" on
the border between Zimbabwe and Zambia, they found the boat as promised.
Inside was cement, the instructions and the keys to their cargo. The orders
were to fill the trunk with cement, take it out to the middle of the lake,
and drop it overboard.
They heaved the trunk on to the shore and hurriedly opened it. "There was a
man inside. He looked 40 to 50 years old. His shirt was grey and soaked in
blood." Washington described the clear signs of torture: the man's tongue
was cut, and chunks of his lips and ears had been removed with pliers. His
arms were slashed and Washington could see the bone of his knuckles. "It was
He was in such bad shape he could barely talk. "He was saying: 'Help me my
son, help me.'" When Washington wondered aloud whether he could go ahead
with it, one of his colleagues told him to look over his shoulder.
"There was a man in the tree holding what looked like binoculars or a
camera. Then I felt there was nothing I could do." As the man in the trunk
pleaded for help, they started shovelling cement and sand on top of him.
What happened next is unclear. Washington, now in hiding in Namibia, breaks
down into uncontrollable sobs. He says the man in the trees drove off, but
he won't say if he completed the mission. Perhaps they buried the man and
Washington can't admit to being a murderer. Perhaps they let him go and he
is protecting the colleagues he left behind.
With most foreign media organisations officially barred by President Mugabe
from entering Zimbabwe, it is impossible to verify all the details of
Washington's story. But the claims of rape in the youth camps, the torture
and the beatings tally with countless reports emerging from the country. And
the Zimbabwean journalist Spiwe Ncube recently reported in the Zimdaily.com
news website that as a result of engineering work on a dam wall in Lake
Kariba, bodies had been found in trunks filled with cement.
Washington said he has had to evade CIO agents who have come to Namibia to
abduct him. Those that have tried to help him say they have been harassed.
Washington may have evaded capture so far. He may even be able to hide from
the Zimbabwean CIO until Mugabe is gone, but he will never stop running from
By Tom Stevenson
Last Updated: 12:19am BST 07/06/2007
Lonrho is to double the size of a planned Zimbabwe investment fund to meet
strong demand from around the world, according to chairman David Lenigas.
LonZim is now looking to raise £100m, twice the £50m it indicated earlier
The company has courted controversy by offering investors a way to back
economic recovery in the pariah state, where 80pc of the population is out
of work and personal wealth has been destroyed by hyperinflation and social
David Lenigas, the Australian deal-maker who is engineering a renaissance at
the Aim-listed rump of Tiny Rowland's former business empire, is
unapologetic about the move into Zimbabwe.
"My vision is that Lonrho puts hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans back to
work with reasonable pay and a future for their families. Up until a few
years ago, Lonrho was the biggest employer in Zimbabwe and my job is to make
Lonrho as big again as it was, as quickly as possible."
Since the arrival of Mr Lenigas, Lonrho has grown rapidly through the
acquisition of stakes in water bottling, air cargo and low-cost passenger
airline services. The company will today announce the acquisition of a 65pc
stake in Mozambique's biggest commercial IT distributor. "This is another
example of Lonrho's strategy of investing in Africa's infrastructure," Mr
Lenigas said. "It's an essential tool for helping them to grow and prosper
while keeping up with the rest of the world."
But its Zimbabwean venture is its biggest gamble yet. Because of the high
risks, it is setting up LonZim as a separate business in which it will
probably take a stake of only about 20pc plus a management contract.
"Do I want to give Lonrho shareholders 100 cents to the dollar risky
exposure to Zimbabwe? No. Because you don't know how long the money's going
to be locked up," he warned. "It's buyer beware. You give us £100m and you
have to trust that we have enough business acumen to put those funds to work
in a proper fashion."
Under the catastrophic rule of Robert Mugabe, inflation has soared to
3,700pc and four in five Zimbabweans live on less than $1 a day. According
to economic and political analysts Global Insight, "the economic and social
meltdown is expected to continue over the short term and GDP is expected to
contract by around 5pc in 2007".
Despite the scale of the crisis, foreign investors are queuing up to take a
position ahead of any post-Mugabe regime. Mr Lenigas believes he could raise
much more than £100m but would struggle to deploy the funds. "Collins
Stewart [Lonrho's broker] said it had never seen such a response to a
concept. The phones are running hot," he said.
Initially, investment will mainly be in property. "Commercial property is
cheap as chips, the infrastructure in Harare is fantastic but it's fire-sale
prices," he added. "We also see a big market in residential property and
resorts and game parks too. As the economy in Zimbabwe grows, and it will
do, the tourists will come back. Tourism is going to be one of the first
areas that opens up in a revitalised Zimbabwe."
Recovery is not imminent. This week the Zimbabwean government signed a wage
and price protocol with business and labour groups designed to bring the
monthly rise in inflation down to 25pc from the current 100pc. But as Global
Insight said: "It remains to be seen if all parties that signed the
agreement will adhere to the conditions, not least the government."
If Mr Lenigas makes a success of Lonrho's re-entry to Zimbabwe, it will mark
a return to the company's roots. Originally the London and Rhodesia Mining
and Land Company, Lonrho remains a household name in Africa and Tiny Rowland
is still revered.
Mr Lenigas hopes many of Lonrho's former staff will return. "There aren't
many people living or working in Africa who haven't either worked for Lonrho
in the past, or their father or uncle worked for us."
THE HAGUE, Netherlands, June 5 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As delegates
prepare to take on the issue of ivory trade - one of the more heated topics
that has distracted CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) for years - a new IFAW (International Fund
for Animal Welfare; http://www.ifaw.org/) report details serious holes in
the ability of Southern African countries to control and regulate trade in
ivory into, out of and within their borders. The report, Trading Tusks: An
Investigation into Elephant Management and Ivory Trade in Southern Africa,
provides glaring evidence of the inability of key Southern African elephant
range states pushing for relaxation in restrictions on ivory trade to
implement CITES regulations. These countries have been assuring the
international community that they have their houses in order, a contention
that this report clearly and unambiguously refutes.
"Southern African countries' ability to comply with CITES is not what they
make it out to be," says Jason Bell-Leask, IFAW's Southern Africa Regional
Director and advocate for good conservation management practices and non-
The report points to Zimbabwe as being at the heart of the illegal ivory
trade, with smuggling being made possible as a result of critical lapses in
several Southern African nations' ability to control illegal ivory
trafficking. Major routes for smuggling ivory include via the Beit Bridge
border between Zimbabwe and South Africa; out of Zimbabwe via Mozambique and
through Zambia to Tanzania; and out of Zimbabwe via the Chette Gorge, where
boats have been used to move commercial sized quantities of ivory from
Zimbabwe through Zambia and Tanzania to China. Local reports also indicate
that ivory is being shipped through the DRC.
"Southern African countries are plagued by inadequate legislation and
monitoring and are not in a position to implement CITES regulations
effectively," says Bell-Leask. "Any relaxation in regulations on ivory trade
would be pure folly given the levels of uncontrolled and uncontrollable
Bell-Leask adds, "They are instead trying to confuse the debate by
deflecting attention from their failures to enforce CITES to issues of
elephant management and culling. These are important issues, but only serve
to confuse the ivory trade issue."
Kenya and Mali have submitted a proposal to CITES for a 20-year moratorium
on all ivory, a proposal currently backed by 11 African elephant range
states, as well as additional countries.
Over 26 tonnes of elephant ivory were seized between August 2005 and August
2006, which is the highest annual seizure rate witnessed since the 1989
CITES ban went into effect. In addition, enforcement authorities estimate
that nearly 90 per cent of contraband slips through controls undetected.
About IFAW (International Fund for Animal Welfare)
Founded in 1969, IFAW is an international animal welfare and conservation
organization that works to protect wild and domestic animals and to broker
solutions that benefit both animals and people. With offices in 15 countries
around the world, IFAW works to protect whales, elephants, great apes, big
cats, dogs and cats, seals, and other animals.
To learn more about the critical elephant ivory issue, and to take action to
save elephants, visit: http://www.ifaw.org/
June 7, 2007
Harare - Zimbabwe and Zambia had begun talks with potential investors to
fund a $3 billion (R21 billion) hydroelectric plant on the Zambezi River,
the Herald reported yesterday, citing the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply
Feasibility studies were in progress to start the Batoka Gorge project this
year, the state-owned paper said. The project was being assessed by the
African Development Bank and could produce 1 600 megawatts of power, the
Zimbabwe would seek investment funds from Russia and China, the Herald
reported. - Bloomberg
07 June 2007
BULAWAYO - More than 4-million Zimbabweans face starvation next year
following poor harvests and worsening economic crises in the country, says a
combined report by two international food agencies.
The Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission report was compiled in reaction
to findings by the United Nations (UN) Food and Agriculture Organisation and
the UN World Food Programme (WFP) teams that visited Zimbabwe last month to
assess the food situation .
The Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission report, released on Tuesday,
said that because of crop failures in southern provinces and increasing
poverty in both rural and urban areas, about 2,1-million people face serious
food shortages as early as the third quarter of this year .
The report said the number of people at risk would peak at 4,1million in the
first three months of next year . The figure represents more than a third of
Zimbabwe's estimated population of 11,8-million.
About 352000 tons of cereals and 90000 tons of other food assistance will be
required to meet their basic food needs, according to the report.
Overall, the report estimates that this year's April-May harvest in Zimbabwe
was just 925000 tons of cereals, including 799000 tons of maize and 126000
tons of sorghum and millet - a 44% decline from last year's official
The Zimbabwean government's imports of maize and cereals from Malawi and SA
and other regional sources would not be enough and would leave a gap of
352000 tons of cereals, to be met by food aid.
The worst-affected provinces are Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North, and
Midlands, where many families had harvested nothing and could run out of all
food as early as next month.
"Zimbabwe's looming food crisis is the result of another poor harvest,
exacerbated by the country's unprecedented economic decline, extremely high
unemployment, and the impact of HIV/AIDS," said Amir Abdulla, WFP regional
director for southern Africa .
The report estimated that about 1-million people in urban areas will face
food shortages over the coming months and could need food assistance.
Along with its call for substantial food assistance, the report makes
recommendations to improve next year's harvest and national food supply and
calls on the government to quickly supply farmers with seeds and fertiliser.
Meanwhile, reports said yesterday that police had arrested close to 2000
people, many of them border-jumpers trying to escape Zimbabwe, in a blitz in
two southern border towns.
The police operation, dubbed Border Clean-Up, saw a total of 1936 people
arrested in Plumtree and Beitbridge, on the Botswana and South African
borders, said the state-controlled Herald newspaper.
Each month, thousands of Zimbabweans hazard the journey across Zimbabwe's
borders to enter Botswana and SA to find jobs in order to send money to
their struggling families.
Zimbabwe's economic problems have caused an exodus of more than 3-million
economically active people to SA, Botswana and Britain. Most are there
Annual inflation is more than 3714%. In January police said more than 100000
Zimbabweans had been deported from SA last year. CAJ News With Sapa-dpa
The Herald (Harare) Published by the government of Zimbabwe
7 June 2007
Posted to the web 7 June 2007
BANKS have this week started to increase minimum lending rates, citing the
need to keep up with the increasing rate of inflation.
Year-on-year inflation rose to 3 713,9 percent, from 2 200,2 percent in the
previous month, and money market dealers yesterday said banks were just
adjusting their rates to hedge against losses.
"The increase in the minimum lending rates does not have anything to do with
the prevailing interest rate regime because it is being implemented to
ensure that banks remain viable in business," said a money market dealer.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe last adjusted rates in April, increasing the
overnight secured and unsecured accommodation rates from 450 percent to 600
percent in order to mop up excess liquidity in the market as well as
facilitating a reduction in inflation.
Accommodation rates adjustments act as the benchmark for the banks' lending
Banks, said a Harare-based dealer, were focusing on a sustainable lending
rate in line with the tough economic climate.
"During these inflationary times, it is imperative for the banks to come up
with an interest rate regime that will in the short to long-term guarantee
them of continued operations," he said.
Kingdom Bank Limited yesterday announced that it had increased the MLR from
500 percent to 560 percent.
"We wish to advise all our valued clients that our minimum lending rate has
been adjusted from 500 percent to 560 percent with effect from Wednesday 6
June 2007," said the bank in a notice to customers.
The Bankers' Association of Zimbabwe said that banks were this week expected
to introduce new lending rate structures.
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president, Mr Callisto Jokonya,
said the increase in the lending rates would lead to prohibitive borrowing
"The high cost of borrowings will adversely affect the industry's capacity
to borrow funds for growth. Given the current economic situation many
companies cannot afford to borrow at the prevailing rates," he said.
Companies were resorting to mergers or floating rights issues to raise funds
for expansion or acquiring new business units.
Mr Jokonya said the reduction of inflation was crucial towards favourable
lending conditions in Zimbabwe.
Rangarirai Mberi and Clemence Manyukwe Staff Repor
Says Mugabe succession battles cloud mediation efforts
SOUTH Africa has for the first time acknowledged that factional fighting
within ZANU PF over President Robert Mugabe's succession might threaten the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) initiative being spearheaded
by President Thabo Mbeki to end Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.
The Foreign Affairs Committee of the South African parliament last Wednesday
discussed a report to this effect authored by one of the drivers of the
mediation effort between President Mugabe's ZANU PF and the main opposition
parties, the South African Foreign Affairs Ministry.
The report is the first public acknowledgement of the existence of a
succession battle within the ruling party by President Mbeki's
administration, which has maintained a policy of "quiet diplomacy" towards
its northern neighbour.
The legislators said there was need for constitutional reform in Zimbabwe
before next year's merged presidential and parliamentary polls, a position
already rejected by President Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since the
country's independence from Britain in 1980.
ZANU PF secretary for administration, Didymus Mutasa, last month admitted
the existence of two factions in the presidential race - one led by Vice
President Joice Mujuru and the other allied to Emmerson Mnangagwa, the
Minister of Rural Housing and Social Amenities.
Mutasa, however, said then that the factions had "closed ranks", but now the
South African foreign affairs department - some of whose members have been
closely involved in Mbeki's mediation effort - has suggested otherwise.
Mnangagwa's faction has remained alive despite a rushed purge instituted by
the presidium ahead of the ZANU PF congress of 2004, which claimed the
scalps of six provincial chairmen who were sympathetic to the former speaker
The six provincial leaders were suspended from the party for five years for
attempting to block Mujuru's ascendancy into the presidium.
Said the department: "The ongoing infighting within ZANU PF, if not
contained, would pose challenges for mediation efforts . . . Energy within
the party would be consumed in efforts to come out on top in the succession
The report suggests that the divisions have rendered ZANU PF unable to agree
on major policy issues.
"In the absence of party unity, it might be hard for the mediator to extract
firm commitments from the (ruling) party during the dialogue process."
Yesterday, South African Foreign Affairs spokesperson Ronnie Mamoepa
declined to discuss the department's report, further saying, "I have no
comment on that. The president has already commented."
Responding to questions on the matter in the South African parliament last
week, Mbeki said his government, did not have any clear knowledge of
factional fighting within ZANU PF.
"I'm not quite sure where the matter comes from, but certainly it does not
represent any knowledge that the South African government has, and it is
certainly not something that we would want to cook up. There may well be
other people in society who think so and may have that information, but we
don't," he said.
The new South African report buttresses an assessment of the succession
battle given by the ruling party's own security department last year.
In a report submitted to the ZANU PF congress, the department said the
succession issue continued to be a serious threat to the future of the
"The succession debate has worsened factional fighting, as the various camps
champion the aspirations of some senior members of the party who aim to lead
ZANU PF in future," the report said.
"These aspirants have largely remained inactive but continue to instigate
counter-productive activities, which are motivated by their selfish and
The South African report says despite earlier attempts by senior officials
in ZANU PF to block President Mugabe's bid for a mandate to run for
president next year, he appeared to be firmly in control.
In March, President Mugabe brushed aside pressure by senior figures in his
party for him to step down, deftly using a global outcry over the battering
of opposition leaders and activists by security agents to cast himself as
the sole defender of a besieged country, while barring any debate on his
future by the ruling party's central committee.
Although ZANU PF has desperately tried to downplay the factional fighting,
differences within the top ranks of the party have sometimes been manifested
through violent clashes at provincial level, most recently in Masvingo and
Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief
BULAWAYO - The tug-of-war over who is currently in control of ZANU PF in
Bulawayo province continued with the interim executive standing by its
suspension of nearly 50 members, though deputy national political commissar,
Richard Ndlovu, the man who was appointed by the party to put its house in
order, had nullified the suspensions.
Some party members argued that an interim executive, as a temporary
structure, did not have powers to suspend anyone.
However, national chairman John Nkomo, the fourth most powerful man
in ZANU-PF, quashed this when he referred questions about the suspensions to
the provincial executive rather than to Ndlovu, the chairman of a
special taskforce that was set up to restructure the province.
Bulawayo province has been divided since the death of Joshua Nkomo in 1999
when some leaders of the former ZAPU started questioning the validity of the
unity accord that was signed by Nkomo and President Robert Mugabe in 1987
ending a five-year civil strife during which nearly 30 000 innocent
civilians were massacred under what was code-named Gukurahundi.
Sources say though now part of the government and the ruling ZANU-PF, the
former ZAPU leaders claim they were never part of the pact, which condemned
members of that party to always play second fiddle to those from President
Mugabe's original ZANU-PF.
The problems are only surfacing now because of the forthcoming presidential
and parliamentary elections next year. It had been anticipated that
President Mugabe would step down as he had indicated earlier, paving the way
for a successor who could have come from the province.
Hopes were dashed when President Mugabe said he would stand again and was
endorsed by the party's central committee.
Some of the party members who were suspended argued that proper procedures
to suspend them were not followed.
They cited article 10 item 74 of the party's constitution, which says any
member of the party against whom disciplinary action was to be taken should
first be issued with a prohibition order and notice of charges in writing,
at least 14 days before the action.
No one was issued any prohibition order. Those affected only received
letters advising them that they had been suspended for failing to attend a
meeting called by national chairman Nkomo and national political commissar
They said Ndlovu's silence over the insistence by the interim committee that
the suspensions still stood clearly indicated that he was not in control and
could therefore, not restructure the province as the interim executive was
already functioning like an elected executive.
Ndlovu said on Tuesday he would be meeting the national chairman today and
it was only after
meeting that he would be able to state clearly who was in charge.
THE building boom in Bulawayo slowed down slightly in April with the city
council approving plans valued at $1.1 billion down from $3.3 billion the
The boom in March was boosted by CBZ Bank, which is building 47 new houses
in Mahatshula, a medium density suburb in the city, at an estimated cost of
Most of the activity in April shifted back to Cowdray Park, the hub of
Operation Hlalani Kuhle.
A total of 198 plans valued at $756 million were approved in the sprawling
high-density suburb alone. Pumula South followed with only 15 plans valued
at $26.9 million. The council has so far approved plans valued at $4.9
billion this year up from $1.5 billion for the whole of last year.
Most people are opting to invest in property despite escalating construction
costs as this appears to be a safer investment in the face of the sliding
Zimbabwe dollar, which is now trading at around $55 000 to the greenback and
is fast approaching $10 000 to the Botswana pula.
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
Impoverished Epworth residents refuse to budge despite 'fake' claims
SECTIONS of Epworth high-density suburb south of Harare resemble squatter
camps, with ramshackle homes made of scrap metal, broken asbestos sheets and
wooden poles being the dominant feature.
Signs of modern life are scarce in this settlement; in many parts, there are
no water taps, electricity or toilets.
The only areas that appeared to be alive last Friday were the Chiremba
Balancing Rocks sanctuary, a popular tourist attraction and Chinamano
This is where a rumoured discovery of diamonds had caused a stampede among
The rumour came as President Robert Mugabe's Cabinet, desperate to find a
solution to the crippling fuel shortages, had just appointed a team to
investigate the purported discovery of diesel in Chinhoyi.
For two frenetic days, residents of this dormitory suburb were in euphoric
anticipation of what could have been instant release from the vicious cycle
During the two days, the residents of Epworth thought their turn had come,
and they at last had found a ticket out of Epworth to a better life.
Despite a statement by the government that there were no diamonds at the
school, residents clung to their hopes, accusing the authorities of
preventing them from getting the windfall they believed they deserved.
Mines Minister Amos Midzi told a gathering at Domboramwari Shopping Centre
that the news of a discovery of diamonds was false.
In the last general election in 2005, Midzi lost in his bid to be elected
Member of Parliament for Hatfield constituency, which encompasses Epworth.
Midzi reminded the residents that the possession of diamonds was illegal.
"We were told that if we are found with diamonds we would be jailed for five
years," said an Epworth Secondary School student.
The "diamond discovery", Midzi told the residents, was a figment of their
"There is nothing at that school, the stones that were found are just
ordinary stones. Vanhu vangangoda kuparapara chikoro asi chokwadi ndechekuti
hapana chiripo (you might dig up the whole school, but you will find
nothing)," said Midzi.
But the residents, desperate for something to rescue them from grinding
poverty, are still not convinced.
A comment made by a bartender at Epworth shopping centre sums up the levels
of misery permeating this impoverished settlement.
"The government does not want people to get rich. They should just let us
dig. They did it in Marange, why not in Epworth? If there is nothing, why
are they preventing people from digging?" she asked, as she served patrons
in the Munyuki bar.
The school continues to be under siege from an army of poor residents, each
wielding some sort of digging tool.
A group of police officers still keeps a watchful eye over the school, in a
scene similar to that common on the Gaza strip, where Israeli soldiers
patrol school grounds.
Next to a police tent outside the school, a row of Blair toilets and a
broken down borehole are further proof of the poor quality of life in the
The school grounds are parched, and the pupils and teachers are bewildered
by the sudden interest in their poor school - now known as the "diamond
The headmaster, Edgar Jonasi, seems very busy, although there is clearly not
much learning going on.
"We have been busy all day taking our bosses around the school. You just
missed our bosses from the Epworth Local Board. Those are the people whom
you could have spoken to about the diamonds. We have been instructed to zip
our mouths," said the headmaster.
It is not hard to see why Epworth residents were prepared to turn things
topsy-turvy on the premises.
One does not need to ask how people survive but simply observe.
Hundreds of people roam the dusty streets. Many seem to be waiting for manna
to fall from heaven to save them and saw the "diamonds" as such divine
The few proper houses were built in a haphazard manner, some facing
eastwards, others facing north.
A cauldron of poverty, Epworth is also reputed to be a haven for criminals
terrorising the neighbouring medium-density suburb of Msasa Park and the
adjacent Hatfield low-density suburb.
They spend most of their time at the many bottle stores around the suburb,
waiting for the sun to set, upon which vices such as crime and prostitution
The "diamond" frenzy will die down eventually, and for Epworth residents, it
will then be back to square one, as they ponder what might have been, had
the discovery of diamonds been real.
Christella Langton Staff Reporter
Scale of damage in past four years alarming - experts
IT could begin with a cigarette stub, but the damage could run into billions
of dollars in lost revenue.
Zimbabwe is experiencing the most devastating veld
fires recorded in recent
history, with vast grasslands and timber plantations being devoured.
The effects of veld fires on the environment may seem temporary, but experts
warn of long-term ramifications on bio-diversity, damage they say may be
Forestry industry experts describe the scale of damage in the past four
years as alarming.
"The damage caused by fire in these last four years is greater than that in
the previous 30 years added together," said Joseph Kanyekanye, managing
director of the Forestry Company of Zimbabwe (FCZ).
The worst fire damage was recorded in 2005 when a total of 7 827 hectares of
national forest was destroyed and 10.8 percent of standing pine timber lost.
Two of the country's largest mills have lost 15 to 20 percent of their
forest resources, resulting in a
drop in local sales and exports, and a corresponding drop in foreign
As a result, companies in the timber, paper and related industries have had
to retrench scores of workers, swelling the ranks of the unemployed in
In 2006, a total of 1 552 hectares of plantation forest was lost to fire,
affecting output greatly, FCZ says.
Environment Minister Francis Nhema says the loss of forests is intolerable
in view of the fact that timber can only be harvested after 25 years.
"Water catchments will be destroyed without trees. Our tourism industry
cannot flourish without trees and forests that provide a natural habitat for
our wildlife and provide beautiful scenery," Nhema said last week at the
launching of a fire awareness campaign in the Midlands.
The depletion of woodlands is directly linked to Zimbabwe's political and
Experts blame resettled farmers for the destruction of vast areas of
woodland, at a time when power cuts and the high cost of energy have
resulted in an increased demand for firewood in urban areas.
Not only have the fires left a trail of economic destruction, but in some
cases, they have been fatal.
In October 2005, six pupils from Debshan Primary School were burnt to death
in Insiza near Bulawayo.
The children were enveloped by a raging blaze on their way from school.
They climbed up trees to escape the inferno, but were overwhelmed by the
flames and smoke and plunged to their deaths.
A new farmer who had been clearing a field started the fire. Debshan
Ranches, owned by Anglo American, could not contain the fire, even with four
bowser-hauling tractors and a seven-tonne bowser.
Overall, 72 000 hectares of farmland and 20 000 hectares of grazing land
Environmentalists also blame poachers for starting fires to drive game into
traps, and travellers at remote bus stops who light fires to warm
A burning cigarette stub, carelessly tossed out of a moving vehicle is
another deadly igniter of veld fires.
Statistics show that forestry accounts for over three percent
of Zimbabwe's gross domestic product.
According to Kanyekanye, the Forests Act tends to favour the beneficiaries
of the land reform programme at the expense of plantations.
A number of corrective measures have been suggested to
curb the destruction
of forests, such as reviewing the Forest Act or introducing new fire
prevention and management legislation.
There is also pressure to implement a Plantations Policy, which would
clarify how timber plantations can be protected in relation to land reforms.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
THE People's Own Savings Bank (POSB) has made an about turn to reinstate
salaries and other benefits, which were withdrawn from 30 workers who were
suspended last week for downing their tools to press for better pay and
POSB management had initially suspended without pay and other benefits 30
striking workers for alleged 'acts of misconduct' after the workers staged a
sleep in at the institution's canteen in protest over management's refusal
to award them 165 percent salary increments, granted by an independent
arbitrator in March.
The increment would have raised the minimum income for bank workers to $626
725 from $86 000.
But POSB this week made a U-turn agreeing to restore full pay and other
benefits to the workers after the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers' Union
raised some flaws in the suspension of the workers.
Meanwhile, an independent arbitrator has ordered Standard Chartered Bank to
reinstate Peter Mutasa, the chairman of the workers committee and Shepherd
Ngandu, the committee's secretary who were dismissed from employment last
February for allegedly inciting riotous behaviour after they circulated an
email urging workers to demand a review of their salaries and working
The arbitrator engaged by both parties ruled last week that the dismissal of
the two workers was not fair and ordered Standard Chartered Bank to
reinstate the two without loss of pay and benefits from February.
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
THE Registrar-General's office, battling to clear a massive passport
backlog, is now accepting applications paid for in foreign currency.
The processing of a passport paid for in foreign currency takes only a day.
Previously, this facility was only open to Zimbabweans living outside the
country. The foreign currency application costs US$220.
The facility was not mentioned when the R-G's office announced an increase
in passport fees last week. The new arrangement has, however, been
introduced through a notice posted at Makombe Building, the passport office
"All residents in the country can apply for passports in United States
dollars in room number 7," reads the notice.
Scores of people, desperate to secure passports, are opting to pay in
Passports paid for in local currency take ages to be issued, with the R-G
having outstanding applications from up to two years ago.
An official at Makombe Building explained how easy it is to obtain a
passport after paying in US dollars.
"It takes a few hours to process a passport. You do not need any letters to
support your application, all we need is the ordinary passport application
requirements such as a national identification card, birth certificate and
passport photos," said the official.
The R-G's office last year suspended the issuing of national identity
documents and passports after running out of imported materials needed for
the production of the documents due to foreign currency shortages.
In March, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe allocated the office US$7 million to
clear a backlog of over 300 000 applications. But since the allocation, the
office has only managed to process 25 000 passports, and winding queues of
people seeking passports continue to be a feature at Makombe Building.
Meanwhile, a team of officials from the R-G's office is in South Africa to
buy materials to be used in a national registration campaign that is due to
begin next week.
"Our officers are in South Africa buying materials such as ink, which we use
for the photographs on identity documents," said an official.
SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki's mediation effort has suffered a major
setback after ZANU PF stayed away from a key meeting with the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in Pretoria last weekend.
ZANU PF and both factions of the MDC, led by Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur
Mutambara, had been scheduled to meet with Mbeki's mediation team.
Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube, the two secretaries-general of the MDC, had
been expected to hold talks with President Robert Mugabe's point men on the
negotiations, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Labour Minister
Ncube and Biti were already at the venue of the talks in South Africa when
the ZANU PF delegation sent word they were not coming. No reasons were
ZANU PF's actions are said to have incensed the opposition, which
immediately protested to the hosts, charging the ruling party's behaviour
showed it had no interest in pursuing the talks.
The MDC has sent a formal letter of protest to Mbeki expressing "disgust" at
ZANU PF's disregard for agreed schedules.
ZANU PF, sources privy to the process said, is also yet to formally respond
to correspondence from Mbeki's mediation team informing the ruling party of
the opposition's stance on the resolution of the crisis.
Both sides have agreed not to comment publicly on the talks.
The team leading Mbeki's push for dialogue has already held discussions with
President Robert Mugabe in Harare.
Meanwhile, Swedish Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Sten Rylander, says the European
Union views the Southern African Development Community (SADC) initiative on
Zimbabwe, led by Mbeki, as being key to bringing Zimbabwean political
parties together to promote the nation's broader interests.
"It is our strong and fervent hope that many crucial issues will be
positively dealt with in the context of the unfolding SADC process," said
Rylander, in a speech to mark his country's national day.
Mbeki hopes to get the two sides to talk before elections next year. ZANU
PF's interest in the negotiations seems lukewarm. Last week, State Security
Minister Didymus Mutasa said ZANU PF was only in the talks because it wanted
to be "polite" to SADC leaders.
This week, the ruling party moaned through the state media over the undue
weight being accorded to Mbeki's mediation, at the expense of other
resolutions made at the SADC summit in March, particularly the lifting of
personal sanctions imposed on President Mugabe and his close associates.
A RETAIL sector executive last week urged the government to temporarily stop
the contentious National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC), saying the
social contract needed to be tested first before the commission could be
allowed to monitor and punish the market for alleged speculation.
Willard Zireva, chairman of the Retail Association of Zimbabwe (RAZ), said
it was prudent to give chance to the social contract before dealing with an
errant market through the NIPC.
Market watchers and retailers have suggested the NIPC, set up through an act
of parliament, was draconian and not progressive and could create severe
shortages in the market because of the punitive measures it can take against
suspected speculative behaviour by market players.
The NIPC Act was gazetted recently after President Robert Mugabe assented to
the bill. Some members of the commission were appointed last week and
include Consumer Council of Zimbabwe executive director Rosemary
Siyachitema, who will temporarily chair the NIPC pending the appointment of
a substantive chairperson.
The NIPC will regulate fees and prices in all services in the economy and
will have authority to imprison suspected profiteers.
Zireva, who spoke to The Financial Gazette before the signing of the social
contract last Friday, said the NIPC's terms were at variance with social
"There is conflict. You can't have a social contract and a pricing and
incomes commission at the same time because a social contract is a general
agreement among parties and the commission is a government project," said
Zireva, who is also the chief executive officer of OK Zimbabwe. "A social
contract is more preferable because controls have not worked in any country
in the world," he added.
Zireva contested charges of profiteering in the retail sector, saying the
allegations against his constituency were misplaced.
"They (profiteering charges) are all misplaced. Our margins generally don't
change. We are part of a supply chain and our prices move because the supply
chain has moved," said Zireva.
Njabulo Ncube Political Editor
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) has poured cold water on the
Social Contract by successfully lobbying the International Labour
Organisation conference, underway in Geneva, to put President Robert Mugabe's
alleged flagrant disregard for human rights on its agenda.
ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo and secretary general Wellington Chibebe,
who are among representatives of civic groups in Geneva, have denied reports
that they agreed to a social contract that includes the government and the
Government claims the pact was unanimously signed by all the parties and has
touted it as the panacea to Zimbabwe's economic and political crisis.
But the unions intend to bring more pressure to bear on the government.
"The ZCTU has managed to get Zimbabwe listed by the Standards Committee at
the International Labour Conference currently underway in Geneva," said
Khumbulani Ndlovu, spokesperson for the union. "Zimbabwe's case on trade
union rights abuses will be heard before the Standards Committee."
Officials said the labour body would present dossiers on recent human rights
abuses by state security agents, especially the police, against, trade
The ZCTU has distanced itself from the document signed last Friday, saying
it only signed one of the three protocols, one on incomes and price
It is believed the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU), linked to the
ruling ZANU PF party, claimed to have signed the social contract on behalf
of all workers.
Nicholas Goche, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare,
who signed on behalf of the government, was adamant that the social contract
had been endorsed by all parties.
"As far as we are concerned, all parties have signed the social contract,"
The ZFTU and ZCTU held separate workers' day celebrations on May 1.
Nkululeko Sibanda Staff Reporter
FORTUNE Charumbira, president of the
Zimbabwe Council of Chiefs (ZCC), allegedly ordered a village headman to be
kidnapped and assaulted for ignoring the traditional leader's ruling in a
dispute over water.
Charumbira is accused of having ordered the
assault of Boniface Manzungu for denying 13 villagers from the Mushandike
resettlement area access to water regulated by the Zimbabwe National Water
Masvingo court officials and police refused
to comment on the matter.
However, police spokesperson Wayne
Bvudzijena said: "We did receive a report of kidnapping. As the police, we
are carrying out our investigations into the matter. I cannot comment
further until investigations are complete."
Charumbira yesterday angrily denied
involvement in the kidnap and torture, claiming that the allegations were
part of a "smear campaign" by his political rivals.
"This is a game of politics, and you know
the politics of that province (Masvingo). It is all a game to tarnish my
It is however, understood that Manzungu, a
village head in the area, which is under Charumbira, refused to grant the
villagers access to water, claiming they had settled illegally in the area.
The villagers took the matter to Charumbira's
traditional court, where Manzungu was found to have been in the wrong but
refused to budge.
Upon learning that Manzungu had refused to
comply with the judgment, Charumbira ordered that Manzungu be detained and
Witnesses allege Manzungu was taken to an
isolated spot where he was starved and beaten for four days.
He was later taken to a police station, from
where he was driven to the magistrates' courts in Masvingo.
A magistrate, Patrick Mapiye, slapped
Manzungu with a seven-month jail sentence for disregarding Charumbira's
ruling. But the sentence was wholly suspended and Manzungu was ordered to do
175 hours of community service.
After Manzungu failed to perform his duties
due to swellings in his feet - he could not stand for five minutes at a
time - a medical examination was ordered.
It was found that the swellings were a
result of beatings.
Said an official: "During cross examination,
Manzungu implicated a police sergeant and the sergeant in turn implicated
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
THE staff exodus from the office of the Attorney General (AG) reached crisis
levels this week when Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa was forced to
engage lawyers in private practice to represent him in a case brought by
exiled businessman Mutumwa Mawere.
A depleted complement of law officers in the department can no longer cope
with the heavy workload, leaving the government with no option but to
increasingly seek the services of private legal practitioners.
Chinamasa, who, in the earlier stages of the Mawere case was represented by
law officers from the Civil Division of the AG's office, was forced to hire
a private lawyer to represent the government during an appeal lodged by
Mawere in the Supreme Court against a High Court judgment upholding his
Top lawyer Edwin Manikai, of Dube, Manikai and Hwacha, on Tuesday confirmed
he was representing Chinamasa in the matter.
"There was no lawyer to represent the Minister. We are likely to see more
and more cases being referred to lawyers in private practice," a source
The source criticised government for opting to engage expensive private
lawyers than stem the exodus from the A-G's Office by improving salaries and
The engagement of private lawyers comes as the House of Assembly debates a
motion on the recent assault of lawyers by the police.
Mutare Central Member of Parliament Innocent Gonese, a practicing lawyer,
motion on May 22.
Part of Gonese's motion reads: "Concerned by the Executive's failure to
condemn such conduct; now therefore, calls upon government to uphold the
rule of law and institute investigations to bring the perpetrators to
Debating the motion, ZANU PF Makonde legislator Leo Mugabe said the police
should come down even harder on the lawyers, claiming they have a political
"If you watch the members of the NCA (National Constitutional Assembly), you
will see the same lawyers, and if you go to the MDC (Movement for Democratic
Change), you will see the same lawyers; they are the same people causing
mayhem. They have a political agenda . . . this august House must give
permission to the police to deal with them decisively," said Mugabe, a
nephew of President Robert Mugabe.
Nkululeko Sibanda Staff Reporter
. . . graft alleged in phoney contracts
THE Harare City Council has announced a $1.3 trillion supplementary budget
for 2007, saying it desperately needs additional funds to cover a shortfall
caused by the transfer of jurisdiction over water and sewerage services to
the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA).
Presenting the supplementary budget on Monday, Alfred Tome, chairman of the
city's finance committee, said council had depended heavily on revenue from
sewerage and water services, saying the decision to transfer jurisdiction
over these matters to ZINWA had left the municipality with no means of
"The government owes council $1.42 billion as at 30 April 2007 in respect of
service charges and rates, whilst the community at large owes $5.2 billion
for the same year. Your council has stepped up efforts to recover all
outstanding debts by way of summons", Tome said.
"However, the loss of water as a revenue collection tool is being felt and
it is our fervent hope that initiatives to establish a Revenue Collection
Authority for the city and ZINWA will see the light of the day and will
operate in the collective interest of the two sister parastatals", he said.
According to a schedule released by Tome, the
council intends to increase waste collection charges for high-density areas
as little as $3 063 to $140 000 per month, with effect
from next month, and subsequently raise the charges to $210 000 by January
Residents in the low-density areas, who used to pay $3 675 monthly, will be
expected to fork out $150 000 next month, with the rates expected to rise to
$240 000 by January.
The supplementary budget will result in clinic and hospital fees going up
from $4 200 to $20 000 for adults, and up to $40 000 by October.
Children will be expected to pay $20 000 by October, up from $10 000.
Tome said: "The housing deficit of $7.8 billion is expected to be
transformed into a surplus of $39
billion. The transformation
is attributable to the new thrust whereby market related rentals are charged
coupled with net leasing strategies."
THE Harare City Council could be losing billions of dollars through informal
arrangements with companies to which Town House has awarded contracts "based
on trust", without going to tender.
The council says inflation has forced it to disregard tender procedures
pertaining to the supply of certain goods and services to the city.
Harare town clerk Tendai Mahachi said while the overall procedure of
acquiring goods and services from service providers had not changed, council
had sometimes been forced to purchase goods without going to tender.
He, however, said in such cases, approval was sought from the Commission
running the city.
"Council awards contracts without going to tender in appropriate cases as
provided for in Section (10) of Sub-section 211 of the (Local Government)
"This provision is resorted to in cases where, because of the circumstances,
it is against the best interests of council to go to tender," Mahachi said
in responses to enquiries from The Financial Gazette.
It is feared senior council officials are taking advantage of this loophole
in the tender rules to secure contracts for their private businesses.
One allegation is that senior stores and treasury staff could have connived
with service providers to fleece the council of millions of dollars in
Mahachi could not specify the goods and services that could be procured
without going to tender.
But workers have alleged that recent vehicle purchases for the chamber
secretary, and for Mahachi himself, were made without following tender
Mahachi insisted: "In the current economic environment where prices are on
the increase on a daily basis, council has, in appropriate cases, awarded
contracts without going to tender in cases where, inter alia, there would be
serious price escalations. The award is always in terms of the relevant
provisions of the Act.
"In cases where contracts are awarded without going to tender, selective
tendering is carried out. The award is subject to approval at three
independent levels in council."
Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor
TECHFIN Research, a highly rated economic research firm, has forecast annual
inflation to end the year at over 9 000 percent, projecting the rate to peak
at over 10 000 percent early next year before receding.
The forecasts are in line with recent inflation developments.
In a recent report to investors, Techfin indicated that inflation would
reach 4 220.8 percent in May and would maintain its trajectory to reach 9
476.9 percent in December.
The rate would cruise to 10 605.3 percent in February next year before
receding to 10 567.2 percent the next month.
It would, however, plunge to 7 871.1 in April 2008 before regaining its
momentum to reach levels ahead of 8 000 percent between May and August.
The inflation rate would then decline in the subsequent months, ending the
year 2008 at 6 429.4 percent.
Zimbabwe, grappling with its worst economic crisis, is in an inflationary
abyss that had disrupted all economic activity in the country.
The year-on-year inflation rate for April increased by 1 513.7 percentage
points, the highest margin since Zimbabwe slipped into hyperinflation, to 3
The month-on-month inflation rate went up 50.2 percentage points from 50.5
percent in March to 100.7 percent in April against the background of
intensifying inflationary pressures triggered by record price increases and
a battering of the local currency on a thriving parallel foreign currency
The highly inflationary environment had resulted in a loss of faith on the
domestic currency due to an increasing erosion of value.
To preserve their wealth, people have resorted to buying assets and foreign
currency, triggering a battering of the domestic currency and consequently
pushing inflation upward.
Increasing market shortages in the crisis-sapped economy have compounded the
country's inflationary woes.
Scarcity, by nature, generates inflation.
Low capacity in the productive sector has resulted in dwindling output,
resulting in shortages.
The country is battling acute shortages of fuel, maize meal, the country's
staple food, and basic commodities such as sugar and cooking oil.
Dumisani Ndlela Dumisani Ndlela
Analysts say govt weakest link
ECONOMISTS and commentators this week gave a government-led social contract
signed with key stakeholders last week little chances of success, saying the
government remained the weakest link in the pact.
In any case, the projected deliverables under the social contract required a
miracle to be achieved, but could best reflect mischief on the part of
government, they said.
They said the country needed a significant foreign currency injection for
the proposal to work, insisting arrangements to persuade the international
community into underwriting the project should be made before the project
"We need help from somebody," said John Robertson, an independent economic
consultant. "The South Africans can easily do so but I am sure government
would be too proud to seek their assistance."
The Financial Gazette was this week unable to get copies of the various
protocols signed by stakeholders under the social contract, first proposed
by Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono in January under what he
termed a "roadmap to our recovery".
State media reports indicated that stakeholders agreed to reduce inflation
to 25 percent by year-end, and to trim government expenditure to 10 percent
of gross domestic product.
"The government is the weakest link in this contract," said Robertson. "It
cannot afford the political dangers of a cut in the civil service wage and
salary bill and will continue to print money, fuelling inflation," he said.
David Mupamhadzi, group economist at the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group, said
it would be improper to prejudge the government as an unconvincing partner,
but admitted traditional concerns around government expenditure were
unlikely to be addressed.
"It's up to all stakeholders to show total commitment," said Mupamhadzi,
adding: "But there are traditional issues that need to be addressed and
these are issues of government spending patterns, the drought and a
supplementary budget, which need to be managed to meet expenditure targets."
Government is expected to import large consignments of cereals to cover a
food deficit caused by draught and low capacity utilisation of farms, a
situation likely to require a significantly large cash outlay.
It is widely believed that government spent its entire budget for the year
in March, and would seek authority from parliament this month for a
supplementary budget and approval of unsanctioned spending.
A wage and salary hike for civil servants between January and April is said
to have taken the wage bill to a level higher than total government
expenditure requirements for the whole year.
Yet just last week, government announced a further 600 percent salary
increase for teachers and other civil servants.
This, if spread across the entire civil service, will increase six-fold the
salary bill, taking it to around $30 trillion.
The national budget for 2007 stood at $4.6 trillion, although the overall
envelope amounted to $6.2 trillion, based on, according to former Finance
Minister Herbert Murerwa, "the economy's capacity to finance government
In the absence of balance of payments support from offshore financiers,
government is expected to aggressively resort to domestic bank sources for
funding requirements, normally through costly Treasury Bill instruments,
which have largely been short term.
Government spending is expected to increase phenomenally with an election
expected next year, as politicians battle to pacify a restive population and
This will inevitably cause unprecedented market turmoil, exacerbating
inflationary pressures and wreaking havoc on the social contract.
"They can't stop the consequences of high spending," Robertson noted.
Apparently, the country would need huge foreign currency amounts to bolster
Productivity has suffered immeasurably from foreign currency shortages,
which have hampered the importation of raw materials, spares and energy
The failure by manufacturers to source scarce foreign currency from the
official market has driven them to the parallel market, where the exchange
rate for the Zimbabwe dollar is significantly depreciated.
Companies have, as a result, passed the higher production costs to
consumers, supplying fuel to the inflationary fires.
Government will have to reform significantly to impact positively on the
Sadly, there is little evidence this will happen.
Personal Glimpses with Mavis Makuni
A COLLEAGUE who recently had to act as "household manager" while his wife
was away, now has a clear picture of the sort of struggle that the most
unsung group of heroines, housewives, has to constantly wage to enable their
families to keep body and soul together.
The area in which my colleague lives had been without water and electricity
for weeks. He had been vaguely aware of this fact but had not been moved to
do anything about it because his wife always miraculously managed to find
ways to cook the family's meals and take care of the laundry. But one day,
after regular calls home throughout the day established that the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) and the Zimbabwe National Water
Authority (ZINWA) had still not reconnected electricity and water, he
resolved to take the bull by the horns. Galvanised by his anger over the
fact that his children were not having proper cooked meals after school, he
was ready to stand up and be counted.
He took an hour off from his desk and stormed off to Megawatt House to
establish why it was taking ages to fix whatever had caused the blackout in
his suburb despite regular assurances by phone that the fault would be
attended to. My colleague had however not reckoned with the snail's pace at
which things are done at this establishment. He returned about two hours
later looking dejected and defeated.
The queue he was required to join in order to make his inquiry was so long
and stagnant that he would have needed a whole day to make any progress.
Three weeks later his suburb still has no electricity but thankfully for my
colleague, his wife is back at home and she somehow manages to prepare hot
meals, do laundry and ensure that members of her family have their warm
My colleague's experience reminds me of what happened to me before the
beginning of the soccer World Cup in Germany last year. My electricity was
erroneously disconnected although I had paid the bill in question by cheque
which my bank statements confirmed to have been honoured. Whether you
believe it or not, trying to communicate this fact to anyone at ZESA proved
to be an impossible task because of the abnormally long queues and then
being driven from pillar to post as each self-important employee passed the
buck. In the end I threw in the towel and opted to pay the punitive
reconnection charge after spending the greater part of another day in
another queue. I was assured my lights would be reconnected that afternoon.
After diverting scarce cash to an unexpected and unnecessary expense, I
spent the rest of the day at work consoling myself that whether or not ZESA
was on an unorthodox fund-raising drive through unfair disconnections, I
would at last have lights that night. No such luck. I got home to be told
that the reconnection crew had not come. At the end of my tether after a
night spent fumbling in the dark, I was the first in the inquiries queue the
next day to demand an explanation for the letdown. I was given all sorts of
unlikely reasons and assured my place would be the crew's first port of call
the next day.
No prizes for guessing, but I got home to learn once more that ZESA had
still not reconnected my electricity. This was a day before the first game
of the World Cup was due to kick off and my soccer-mad daughter was
hysterical. I was fuming.
The next day at work I spent an hour desperately trying to reach a senior
official at ZESA by phone to complain that while staff had penalised me with
lightning speed for an alleged unpaid bill, they were now taking their sweet
time to restore the service. He gave me his word that he would personally
see to it that my electricity was reconnected that day. When I reached my
place after work, there was a general blackout in my area and so I could not
tell whether I had been reconnected. It was only at 6.30 pm - long after
hours - that a worker from the power utility miraculously appeared to
reconnect my electricity, a full four days after I had paid.
There seems to be a sadistic streak in the attitude of staff at ZESA. They
may have their own grievances against their management but they should not
take out their anger on consumers. Anyone who uses the Banking Hall at ZESA
House regularly will have noticed the nonchalance with which consumers are
left to languish for hours in queues snaking round the block. There
evidently is no supervision of the tellers and on any given day, only a few
windows are open while the majority display a "CLOSED" sign. Some tellers
seem to make an appearance only to put that sign up and then disappear for
the rest of the day to do their private business.
I know ZESA will come up with all sorts of excuses and explanations but is
it too much to ask the management to ensure that all machines are in
operation all the time? I have heard people complaining that their
electricity has sometimes been disconnected for late payment while they
languished in those queues. Is this a ploy to raise revenue unfairly from
ZESA, which is failing to supply electricity to vast areas of Harare and
other urban centres most of the time is nevertheless raising tariffs to
stratospheric levels. Judging by the chaotic dereliction of duty allowed to
prevail at its headquarters, consumers are being made to pay through the
nose to keep a bloated and uncommitted workforce employed. It is scandalous.
Mavis Makuni Own Correspondent
SUCCESSION politics is a new phenomenon in Africa. Since the first countries
achieved independence from colonial rule about 50 years ago, leaders have
either relinquished power through death or the barrel of the gun in bloody
coups, thus making it impossible for a culture of open discussion about a
successor to develop.
In some countries, where leaders have remained at the helm for periods
ranging from 20 to 40 years it has been considered taboo to broach the
subject because the job has come to be regarded as the exclusive preserve of
Such countries include Gabon, whose President Omar Bongo has clocked 40
years as head of state and Libya, where Colonel Muammar Gaddafi has
prevailed for 38 years. Countries with heads of state who have become
"permanent institutions" with stints ranging between 20 and 30 years include
Angola, Cameroon, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe.
What happens when a long-serving incumbent does not groom a successor
democratically and transparently was demonstrated in Togo more than three
years ago with the demise of Gnassingbe Eyadema after almost 40 years as
head of state. Attempts by the army to bring his son through the back door
to take over sparked rioting in the capital, Lome. In the end the
authorities were obliged to bow to public pressure to regularise the process
by requiring Eyadema's son to contest elections.
Some countries have had such brutal and disastrous periods of civil war and
political upheaval that having any form of government at all has been
regarded as an achievement. These include Somalia, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
Nigeria, which became independent in 1960, is Africa's most populous
country. It is also the country in Africa that has experienced probably the
most numerous coups and has been under military rule for most of the last 47
years. The political upheavals began soon after independence when the
eastern region of the vast country seceded from the national federation and
proclaimed itself the Republic of Biafra.
The secession plunged the country into a three-year civil war during which
an estimated one million people perished. The secessionists threw in the
towel in 1970 and after 13 years of military rule, Nigeria briefly returned
to civilian government in 1979. This was short-lived and a second coup,
which installed General Ibrahim Babangida as supreme ruler, occurred in
Babangida's regime allowed elections to be held in 1993 but annulled the
vote when it seemed certain that Moshood Abiola would win. This led to
rioting in which hundreds were killed. Babangida resigned and appointed an
interim civilian government which was ousted three months later in a coup
led by General Sani Abacha.
General Abdulsalam took over in June 1998 after a fatal heart attack ended
Abacha's brutal rule. The following year, Abdulsalam allowed elections to be
held to facilitate a return to civilian rule. Olusegan Obasanjo, a former
military ruler during an earlier period of political turmoil, won the polls
and became head of the first civilian government in Nigeria in 15 years.
After 10 years in power, Obasanjo has passed the baton on to another
civilian president in controversial elections which he has been accused of
stage-managing so as to continue ruling through proxies.
Tanzania is one of the few African countries to have had regular and orderly
leadership changes since 1985 when its founding president, Julius Nyerere,
became the first post-independence leader to voluntarily leave office after
21 years and hand
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over to a successor. Nyerere's example was emulated about a decade later by
South Africa's Nelson Mandela, who served only one term of office before
passing on the baton to Thabo Mbeki, who must do the same in 2009. The
example set by Mandela no doubt set a standard for how things should be done
and South Africa is so far the only country in the region where leadership
issues are openly debated without fear of repercussions.
Those from less democratic neighbouring countries watch enviously as South
Africans from across the full political spectrum keep their president on his
toes and make sure he earns his keep.
Mbeki is currently engaged in a war of words with the general secretary of
the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), Zwelinzima Vavi over
the government's economic policies, which the unionist alleges are
exclusionary. Mbeki, who is reported at one stage to have referred to COSATU
leaders as "thugs and counter-revolutionaries" has discovered that Vavi
gives as good as he gets. He recently thundered; "Our members cannot stay
outside and choose to complain about the ANC. There is massive anger
exploding . . . our members have given us the most militant directive to
date in the history of COSATU." He declared that the union would reclaim the
ANC and flood it with working class members.
The impending departure of Mbeki at the end of his constitutionally limited
two terms is openly discussed as are possible successors. One is Jacob Zuma,
who despite having been sacked by Mbeki about two years ago has not given up
his presidential ambitions and does not have to apologise for it. In recent
weeks, another prospective future president, Tokyo Sexwale, has thrown his
hat into the ring to challenge Mbeki for the presidency of the ruling ANC,
which the South African president is widely suspected to be interested in
retaining after relinquishing power as leader of the country.
Mbeki, once accused Sexwale and two others of clandestinely plotting to oust
him from power and had them investigated. Whether or not this was an early
attempt at a pre-emptive strike to safeguard his position, Mbeki can now
only watch helplessly as an ebullient Sexwale, unfazed by these unfounded
aspersions cast against him, declares his determination to take his turn at
the helm if he gets the people's support at the ANC conference to be held in
December. South Africa is leading the way in showing that the once-taboo
subject of succession should be debated openly by all stakeholders. This is
as things should be but it is a far cry from the situation in some of South
Africa's neighbouring states where merely expressing the perfectly
democratic ambition to occupy the highest office in the land is regarded as
being conspiratorial and a personal affront to the incumbent.
National Agenda with Bornwell Chakaodza
It has equally to do with quality of institutions and political atmosphere
free of intimidation, harassment and terror
AS we navigate our way to the 2008 polls, it is instructive not to define
democracy as merely holding elections every five years but to see it as much
more, including the quality of supposedly democratic institutions and a
political environment free of intimidation, harassment and terror.
It does not take an enormous leap of genius to equally appreciate the fact
that the quality of democratic life in a country is revealed not in the
existence of such institutions as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the
Registrar-General's Office but in the way these institutions are used in the
whole electoral process.
The ruling ZANU PF party always points to the fact that elections have been
religiously held every five years in Zimbabwe as evidence of a thriving
democracy since 1980. Yes, they have been. And it is important that this has
been the case since our independence 27 years ago.
But is there necessarily a connection between the ritual of holding
elections every five years on one hand and freedom and democracy in practice
on the other? For me, this is the fundamental question we have to constantly
ask ourselves as we prepare for harmonised presidential and parliamentary
elections next year.
In Rhodesia, elections were always held at the appointed time, but did that
ritual amount to democracy in practice as far as all the races were
concerned? And yet Ian Smith claimed to be a democrat in the process. Was
this not rhetoric on the part of Ian Smith, which clearly distorted the
reality in the country?
From the point of view of Africans, there was no question that these
Rhodesian elections were essentially fights within the family and did not
alter one iota the fact that racial division throughout Rhodesian life was
the most enduring feature. The great divide was always along the lines of
race. In other words, the Rhodesian political environment was not a
This is merely stating the obvious but this obvious fact does provide the
context within which to dispel the perception that has developed within ZANU
PF that the mere act of holding elections is the end and be all of
Each successive level of inquiry of whether an election has been free and
fair and that it is credible in the eyes of the people must meet recurring
tests of a whole system of freedom and institutional development before,
during and after the election. It cannot just be the one day or two days of
actual voting, important though these are.
For starters, the political atmosphere has to be free of intimidation and
terror well before election time to enable all parties to campaign freely in
all parts of the country. It is common knowledge that ours here is not a
free and democratic environment. The political playing field is not level.
The right to vote yes, but equally things such as freedom
of expression, a genuinely independent Electoral Commission, an independent
judiciary and the rule of law are the very basis of democracy.
So is equal access to the public media by all political parties at the heart
of the whole democratic process. The use of the media -particularly media
which is supposed to be public - as a tool of communication only for the
advantage of the political party in power as we have here in Zimbabwe at the
moment is a serious misunderstanding of the functions of the media in a
democratic society. We need to move away from that.
Another point that needs to be made is that public confidence in the
institutions that the ruling party has created is very low, if not
non-existent. The whole electoral system, including the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission, needs to be looked at with a view to building that confidence
the general public does not see in them.
What has to be accepted, whether we like it or not, is that our institutions
are not seen by the public as playing any significant part in the dynamic
processes of changing the Zimbabwean society for the better.
And the fact that ZANU PF does not
listen to genuine advice from fellow Zimbabweans across the board is what
should be viewed with the utmost concern. Criticism is one of those things
that most of us believe is a greater blessing to give than to receive but
for those in public office, it is imperative to be good listeners - if
nothing else but at least in the interest of the country. The test of the
strength of a free and democratic society is its capacity to undertake
debate and discussion and to accept honest dissent and not to bash those who
express a different point of view.
In conclusion, the fact that I want to underscore here is that the meaning
of democracy is much more than holding elections every five years. Over and
over again ZANU PF says it. That does not make it the whole story, but
constant repetition can make even the ugliest of political fantasies seem
true if they are not exposed for what they are. It is all a question of
making a distinction between appearance and reality. It is all a question of
separating hype from substance.
Far too often, the notion of holding elections every five years conveys to
the uninitiated the impression that there is nothing wrong with our system
when in fact the system is rotten to the core as evidenced by repressive
legislation and the generally undemocratic environment. We need to
constantly keep things in perspective. We need to understand our political
climate so that we can anchor a correct perspective.
Superficial analyses of what ruling parties and governments say and do can
only lead us to a blind alley in search of solutions to our current national
KEY stakeholders finally signed the much-awaited social contract last week,
giving a glimmer of hope to a restive population that the country was now
moving towards economic and social stability.
However, one significant concern emerged from the pact: the contract was a
tripartite arrangement involving business, government and labour but
excluded other key partners who should have been accommodated in the
The reason for this concern is precisely because the three partners are not
inclusive of all stakeholders in the country, and in any case, we do not
understand why three bodies had to represent labour unless it is a microcosm
of the divisions within the country's heavily politicised workforce.
The Employers Confederation of Zimbabwe (EMCOZ) represented the business
community, while the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, Joseph Chinotimba's
Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions and the so-called Apex Council,
representing the various civil service trade unions, signed on behalf of
labour. When one considers the fact that unemployment is nearly 80 percent,
the disconcerting fact is that labour was over-represented, and that a far
larger stakeholder constituency was ignored in the social contract.
Part of this constituency are the jobless, who constitute probably the
biggest fraction of the country's economic stakeholders. These are as much
consumers of economic products as the business executives and shop-floor
workers, but their position obviously gives them a view totally different
from that of their fellow citizens with incomes because they are affected
Consequently, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe should have been a part of
this project, as well as other partners such as church groupings and the
retailers' association, unless the assumption is that EMCOZ was their proxy
during deliberations for the social contract. Opposition political parties
should also have been brought on board as they have an overbearing influence
on their constituencies, which might conclude this is a ruling ZANU PF party
project. This is not to say the parties currently involved in the present
effort should not be lauded.
While the tripartite partners might form the core of economic and social
stakeholders necessary to push the social contract forward, narrow sectorial
interests benefiting their constituencies might limit their vision. Which is
why the social contract should have included a broad cross-section of
society as initially proposed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor,
Gideon Gono, in January.
Still, there is hope that should the current partners share the same
vision - which is to stabilise the country's economy through measures that
will boost productivity, reduce inflation and generate employment - economic
recovery will be realised.
Much will also depend on the government, which has, over the past years,
been accused of fuelling inflation through profligate spending and increased
money printing. The government will have to be bound into limiting its
expenditure under a credible fiscal policy.
As Gono said, this will fortify the effectiveness of any measures to be
agreed upon by partners under the social contract.
Gono has indicated that government has already made certain commitments.
These include rolling out a strict cash budgeting framework for line
ministries - all ministries would be compelled to spend within set budgets
and only to the extent of actual cash revenue available; establishment and
implementation of a comprehensive public sector debt restructuring
programme; and optimisation of fiscal revenue collection.
There is already a danger that this will be a mammoth task for the
government and its agencies, given the recent, and pending, wage and salary
adjustment demands from the civil service. But if every stakeholder is
expected to bear the brunt of painful adjustments, then the government
should lead the way.
Gono has warned stakeholders to brace for "the inevitable hardships of our
correctional and revival economic path" likely to be caused by the social
contract measures. It means, therefore, that business on one hand has to
commit itself to foregoing quite a number of things to make the social
contract work. Labour on the other, should ready itself to run the full
length of the economic revival course. There is no doubt, however, that most
of the responsibility rests on the government's shoulders. Any slight
deviation from this loose pact would ignite suspicions among the parties to
the social contract, rendering it null and void.
We can only hope that political considerations will be kept in check as the
country edges closer to the tricky 2008 elections. In the past, the ruling
party has found it too tempting not to run the printing press in order to
"The key appeal of monetary authorities, therefore, is to stay the course
regardless of the pain," Gono said when making his social contract proposal.
Well, Zimbabweans have endured enough pain from the current economic
recession to mind adjustments meant to repair the economy and give them a
better and more prosperous life.
Time to name and shame the culprits
EDITOR - It's time for naming and shaming. Our country has been teetering on
the brink of collapse for over a decade now and we have, no doubt, reached
an untenable stage.
Our currency continues to plummet against major currencies. Democracy and
its entire nomenclature seem to have been abandoned completely; it is now a
distant prospect. Efforts to get help from individual African leaders in the
region and elsewhere have proved fruitless. The mood in Zimbabwe is just as
Clearly, it is now time to name and shame those who have the potential to
turn around our situation, but have hitherto, opted for quiet diplomacy,
cynical inaction or just hiding behind old-fashioned religious discourse.
Arguably, churches have the potential to become the benevolent catalyst for
democracy. This can be deduced from the fact that Christianity and democracy
have a history extending over centuries. The Southern African Development
Community (SADC) seems passive. Its position on Zimbabwe is in fact
invidious; it produces a wealth of questions regarding its membership and
its role in the region. Secondly, it raises questions regarding the capacity
of the opposition leaders to either persuade or manipulate it.
Be that as it may, our moral conscience assures us that SADC cannot remain
passive or secondary, in the face of the rising crescendo of our
socio-political and economic demands. Neither can it be perceived as housing
a reliquary cabal. At least a critique of the status quo, which particularly
recognises the bankruptcy of political pluralism and the potency of civic
and social movements, would have been appreciated by many of us.
Similarly, we would have expected condemnation of our governance by the
African Union. Equally helpless and disingenuous to our crisis has been the
UN. It sent its special envoy, Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka on a fact-finding
mission in May 2005 when Operation Murambatsvina was in full force and then
issued some criticism. One would have expected a UN resolution to coincide
with the sort of dispensation our country is enduring. That is hardly
surprising. It simply confirms the truism that the UN is a toothless
bulldog, an establishment, which panders solely to American interests.
However, departing from inaction to customary dilatoriness, recently SADC
decided to appoint President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa to play midwife to
the negotiations between the opposition and the ruling party. Hopefully, we
shall not strangle the outcome of that process at birth. We are not sure as
to what will be born out of those discussions though, but we are certain
that our economy is on a downward spiral.
Robbed of our future
EDITOR - This is an open plea to all my fellow Zimbabwean youths in and
outside this country to exercise our democratic right.
I want to take you for a stroll down memory lane to 1980 when Julius Nyerere
congratulated the then Prime Minister, Robert Mugabe, saying that he had
inherited the jewel of Africa. Indeed, it was the jewel of Africa but today,
27 years down the line, the ZANU PF government has turned that jewel into a
frying pan for the Zimbabwean people.
What does the future hold for us when our leaders have the temerity to say:
"My country; my people?" Which people are they referring to? A people whom
they have subjected to gnawing pangs of hunger and despair? A people who are
threatened by extinction because antiretroviral therapy is beyond their
I strongly feel that our future has been stolen from us and that nothing is
more important than the struggle to win it back, if not for ourselves then
for our children. My heart bleeds to realise that we have no future in our
I believe the purpose of the armed liberation struggle was to secure the
future for us but now it defeats the whole purpose for those who took to the
bush to liberate our country from the white settlers.
The rate of unemployment does not bode well for the future. Inflation is
soaring and the economic temperature is not conducive. This explains why, if
you were to ask any youth what his/her plan for their future is, they will
give you one answer: "To get the hell out of this country at the earliest
convenience" because indeed our future has been stolen from us. As the
situation stands, I cannot even propose marriage to my girlfriend because I
cannot afford to break her heart when I fail to fulfil that promise, a
promise for the future.
Today at 23, I am unable to clothe and feed myself, what more when I get
married and decide to raise a family? It is not because I fear
responsibilities, but it is because my future has been robbed.
I say to you my fellow youths, it is within our power to decide our destiny.
Let us move away from the culture of silence so that our children do not
have to experience the agony we are going through today. The world is now a
very dangerous place, not only because of those who perpetrate evil such as
the current leadership but also because of those who look on and do nothing
History is going to judge us harshly if we decide to afford ourselves the
luxury of relegating to the furthest reaches of our imagination this sad
reality. It is false to think that we can separate thought from action, and
reason from emotion and in this regard, I urge all of you my fellow youths
to register and vote to decide our future in the forthcoming elections.
According to Paulo Freire, "No one liberates himself by his own efforts
alone, neither is he liberated by others."
Our vote is a tool that nobody can snatch away from us. My vote stirs within
me a new sense of dignity and hope for the future.
Enough of this brainwashing
EDITOR - The sanctions that have been imposed on some government officials
are not economic sanctions but travel sanctions. Travel sanctions do not
stop Zimbabwe doing business with Europe; Zimbabwe is not prohibited from
exporting to Europe to get the much need foreign currency.
Government officials should not brainwash the people of Zimbabwe by claiming
the country is suffering because of the so-called sanctions. People should
not believe that.
We are suffering simply because we have not been able to generate enough
exports that generate foreign currency. Remember production figures e.g for
tobacco have been going down year in, year out since the controversial land
reform programme. What do you expect out of that?
It's time govt stamps out this lawlessness
EDITOR - We were very loud in making our voices heard against lawlessness
during the land redistribution exercise but no one is talking about
lawlessness now. Are we not practising double standards here?
The fuel dealers confuse the nation by hiking prices, defying the
government's orders and going about their business as if there is no
The commuter bus operators make life miserable for the workers by demanding
fares way beyond their salaries !
The employers, who now assume a role reminiscence about yesteryear's slave
masters, defy the arbitrators' rulings on labour issues.
Is it that the country now has no law? It is time the government stamps out
the cancer and regain its lost respect before more people take the law into
We need sanity and a sense of security.
Lovemore Andrew Magaso