Njabulo Ncube Political Editor
Only nine seconds to vote for some
FEARS of administrative electoral chaos and vote rigging heightened this
week as the country's urban areas, where the opposition enjoys support, were
allocated fewer polling stations than rural areas, perceived ZANU-PF
So skewed is the distribution of voting stations that in some urban centres,
each voter would have to spend a maximum of nine seconds in the polling
booth if all registered voters are to be accommodated in the elections to be
conducted inside a day.
And yet unlike in previous polls, voters would need to spend more time on
the March 29 ballot paper in view of the fact that the 18th Constitutional
amendments railroaded through Parliament in September last year rolled the
Presidential, Senatorial, House of Assembly and local government elections
The Morgan Tsvangirai faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
has taken court action to challenge the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC)
on a range of provisions they believe will give President Robert Mugabe and
his ZANU-PF party, destabilised by an internal rebellion, an advantage.
The main opposition party has gone to court to compel the Commission to
disclose the company that is printing the ballot papers, the number of
ballot papers printed, as well as allow for an inspection and audit of all
the printed ballots.
The MDC also wants the court to compel ZEC to prove and put remedies in
place that ensure that the voting process will not be slowed down as
happened in the chaotic 2002 presidential elections, controversially won by
the veteran Zimbabwean leader, who will be seeking a sixth-term on March 29.
President Mugabe is facing a strong challenge from Tsvangirai and former
finance minister Simba Makoni, who broke ranks with ZANU-PF on February 5.
"There has to be a maximum number of minutes for a voter to be attended to
and ZEC must not be overwhelmed by a high turn-out," said Tendai Biti, in a
letter instructing his party's lawyers on the court action.
"ZEC must disclose the minimum number of votes to be roughly cast at a given
time and the time taken by each voter. Hence the need for ZEC to increase
the number of polling stations in every ward and to this effect ZEC must be
compelled to have at least 12 polling stations per ward."
The MDC concerns tally with those carried in a report released on Tuesday by
election watchdog, the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (ZESN).
While ZEC officials could not be reached for comment at the time of going to
print, ZANU-PF insiders said ZESN and the MDC were conveniently disregarding
the facts on the ground.
The ruling party insiders said it made sense for the Commission to allocate
more polling stations in rural areas on account of their geography, which
might have compelled ZEC to reduce the distance covered by rural voters to
get to the polling stations.
Asked why ZEC could not double the number of polling stations in urban
areas, the insiders said the Commission might be operating on a shoestring
"Instead of crying, the opposition should take advantage of the campaigning
period to educate voters so that they don't spend a lot of time at the
polling stations," said the insider.
Ephraim Masawi, the ZANU-PF deputy secretary for information and publicity,
also dismissed allegations that ZEC was aiding his party.
While he was not privy to how ZEC allocated polling stations, Masawi said he
suspected that the opposition could be developing cold feet, intimidated by
President Mugabe's "star rallies".
Masawi also dismissed allegations of vote buying levelled by the opposition
"I am not aware of the issue of polling stations as I need to check with
ZEC, but as for the issue of vote buying using maize and farming equipment,
I don't think it is factual because firstly, the country has no maize.
"But I am aware that some opposition candidates are dishing out maize.I
suspect the opposition is beginning to develop cold feet due to our sleek
campaign machinery, which is now in full motion," said Masawi.
Elsewhere in this issue, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono also
hit out at critics accusing the lender of the last resort of launching Phase
3 of the Farm Mechanisation Programme to give ZANU-PF an opportunity to buy
votes ahead of the March 29 elections.
"Nothing could be further from the truth. Remember that on 11 June 2007 and
in October 2007 I did pre-announce that future phases were coming. Elections
or no elections, this programme was still going to take place," he said.
Despite losing to the opposition in urban areas, ZANU-PF has always pipped
the opposition at the finishing line buoyed by rural support.
In its report, ZESN encouraged ZEC to increase the number of polling
stations in urban centres to decongest the polling stations.
It reports: "ZESN notes that there is a significant discrepancy in the
number of registered voters per polling station for different provinces.
There should be some variation, but the number of registered voters per
polling station in Bulawayo and Harare is more than twice that of the other
With 766 478, Harare has the largest number of registered voters, according
to latest statistics made available this week by ZEC. But it only has 379
voting centres, giving an average 2 022.4 voters per station.
"As a result, the average voter in Harare province will need to be processed
in 22 seconds and some cases in as little as nine seconds (Chitungwiza Ward
2 - 9 281 registered voters and 2 polling stations). The average number of
voters should be consistent by both constituency and ward."
ZESN encouraged ZEC to increase the number of polling stations in Bulawayo
and Harare provinces as well as other urban centres so that all Zimbabweans
have a reasonable opportunity to vote on 29 March.
In Gweru and Mutare, the average number of registered voters per polling
station is also high at 1 234.8 and 1 277.3 respectively.
"The ZEC's publication of the list of polling stations is an important and
positive step. However, the list contains significant errors and relatively
few polling stations in Bulawayo and Harare provinces. ZESN encourages the
ZEC to rectify these issues so that everyone who wishes to vote has a
reasonable opportunity to do so. It would be unfortunate if the problem of
too few polling stations in these provinces in 2002 is repeated," said ZESN
chairman Noel Kututwa.
Tens of thousands of voters were turned away at the close of polling in
The opposition sees the polling station allocation as a deliberate ploy to
disadvantage its urban support.
While urban voters are being deprived of polling stations, ZANU-PF's
perceived rural strongholds have a far better distribution of registered
voters per polling station.
Bulawayo has an average of 1 514.3 voters per polling station, compared to
an average of 530 in Mashonaland West and 601.8 for Mashonaland Central.
Gabriel Chaibva, the spokesman for the Arthur Mutambara faction of the MDC,
said as far as his party was concerned, it had no problems with the issue of
"In fact in my constituency in Sunningdale, I have more than enough. Let's
be reasonable and sensible not to raise unnecessary complaints when we are
supposed to be campaigning," he said. "I have not received any serious
complaints from our members regarding polling stations and other issues
relating to this election."
Adding pressure on the ZEC this week was the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human
Rights (ZLHR), which wrote seeking clarification on what it sees as
inconsistencies in the Electoral Act regarding circumstances surrounding a
The lawyers see inconsistency between sections 110 (3) of the Electoral Act
and 3 (1) of the second schedule to the Electoral Act.
Section 110(3) of the Electoral Act says where two or more candidates for
President are nominated, and after no candidate receives a clear majority of
the total number of valid votes cast, a second round shall be held within
However, section 3(1) of the schedule to the Electoral Act says that the
candidate with the highest number of votes - and not necessarily a majority
of the votes cast - should be declared the winner.
"Clearly, this inconsistency has the potential to cause serious problems in
the event of none of the Presidential candidates getting a majority of the
votes cast. As such, we feel it necessary to bring it to your attention and
ask what your view and position in respect of this inconsistency is. How do
you hope to be able to handle it? It is trite that the electoral system
should be certain and its integrity should be unimpeachable. As such, the
certainty, which this inconsistency puts in the system is unacceptable," it
ZLHR warned that failure to obtain clarity on the legislation would force it
to take legal action against ZEC.
South Africa said yesterday that failure to hold free and fair elections in
Zimbabwe would further entrench negative sentiment about democracy in the
country. Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Aziz Pahad told reporters Zimbabwe
could not afford yet another disputed poll. The head of the SADC observer
mission to Zimbabwe, Angolan Foreign Minister Joao de Miranda, said the
elections would be a major test for the region. He said he was confident
that free and fair elections could still be held in Zimbabwe. Even when
deploying just two weeks before elections, de Miranda said the SADC mission
could still adequately cover the polls.
Utterances by Zimbabwe's service chiefs that they would not salute either
Tsvangirai or Makoni have also raised fears in the opposition and civic
society organisations that the elections were already being rigged in favour
of the incumbent.
Retired Major General Paradzayi Zimondi and the Commander of the Zimbabwe
Defence Forces, Constantine Chiwenga were widely quoted in the state media
stating that they were not prepared to serve under anyone except President
Mugabe, utterances viewed by the opposition as intimidation of the
electorate and ordinary Zimbabweans prior to the harmonised elections
allegedly for the purposes of manipulating their vote in favour of the
incumbent and ZANU-PF.
The service chiefs, including Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri
issued similar threats in the run-up to the controversial 2002 presidential
Voting will take place amid an economic meltdown - including a shrinking
economy, rocketing inflation, shortages of most basic goods and collapsing
public services - in a country once known as a regional bread basket. Since
the government began ordering the seizure of white-owned farms in 2000,
production of food and agricultural exports has slumped drastically. The
country has the world's highest official rate of inflation of over 100,500
President Mugabe blames the crisis on economic sanctions imposed by Britain,
Zimbabwe's former colonial power, and its Western allies to protest his land
reforms and accuse him of violating human and democratic rights.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
THE corruption case against Attorney General (AG) Sobusa Gula-Ndebele took a
new twist this week when a top police officer alleged that the name of
retired army general Solomon Mujuru had been dragged into the controversy by
unnamed persons gunning for his prosecution.
An affidavit seen by The Financial Gazette, signed by the investigating
officer in the AG's case, deputy officer commanding CID Serious Fraud
Section, Chief Superintendent Alison Nyamupaguma, claims that Mujuru and
Gula-Ndebele met banker James Mushore and assured him that he would not be
The allegation resulted in Gula-Ndebele's arrest and subsequent suspension
for alleged abuse of office. A tribunal headed by High Court judge, Justice
Chinembiri Bhunu is holding hearings on the matter.
Now, sources tell The Financial Gazette that Nyamupaguma has informed his
superiors that he was not aware of Mujuru's involvement in the matter and
that he had no idea how the former army commander's name found its way into
"Nyamupaguma told his superiors that he did not know who had implicated
Mujuru in the affidavit. He said he knew nothing about Mujuru's alleged
involvement in the case," said a police source.
Gula-Ndebele's trial has been widely linked to ZANU-PF's factional fighting.
Two weeks ago, Ndebele's brother, former Speaker of Parliament Cyril
Ndebele, publicly declared his support for independent candidate Simba
Makoni's presidential bid.
Nyamupaguma declined to comment when approached yesterday.
Police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena said: "It would
be improper to comment on the issue when the tribunal has not concluded its
work. Doing so would appear as if we want to influence the proceedings."
It could not be established when Bhunu's tribunal would finalise the case,
nor the identities of the persons who have testified so far.
The proceedings are being held in camera following a directive issued by
President Robert Mugabe.
Reporting on the proceedings at this stage would be a breach of the Official
In 2006, Gula-Ndebele spearheaded the prosecution of Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa on allegations of trying to
defeat the course of justice.
He also authorised the prosecution of National Security Minister Didymus
Mutasa's supporters who were facing allegations of perpetrating political
Chinamasa was acquitted, but Mutasa's supporters were convicted.
This week, Chinamasa, while dismissing suggestions that he was linked to
Makoni, described his 2006 prosecution as "malicious."
"They started with the spread of falsehoods against me around the so-called
Tsholotsho incident and they went on to mount a malicious criminal
prosecution in 2006 and now we have this," Chinamasa said.
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporters
DUMISO Dabengwa, who has been subjected to a torrent of denunciation by
ZANU-PF for supporting Simba Makoni, yesterday responded to overtures from
Vice President Joseph Msika by saying he would agree to meet the ruling
party leadership - but only to "tell them the truth".
Msika was quoted in the Herald yesterday as saying the ZANU-PF presidency
would soon meet Makoni and Dabengwa in connection with their "defection"
from the ruling party.
Yesterday, the former ZIPRA intelligence chief said he had had no contact
with any member of the ZANU-PF leadership, but was prepared to meet
President Robert Mugabe and the party's top leadership.
"Nobody has contacted me about any meeting. I have no quarrels with anyone.
As long as it is in good faith, I will meet with them, but only to tell them
the truth," said Dabengwa.
"I will tell them the truth of what is happening, and I will have no
regrets," said Dabengwa.
A spokesman for Makoni, Godfrey Chanetsa, said Makoni would only respond to
Msika once the invitation came from ZANU-PF.
"It is an issue that has not been discussed. We remain mindful of the fact
that this is a sensitive issue on which we would rather comment once ZANU-PF
approaches us," said Chanetsa.
Msika told supporters at a rally in Mutoko that the ruling party would meet
the two men to find out why they, as members of the ZANU-PF politburo,
rebelled against President Mugabe.
Dabengwa's decision to support Makoni's presidential bid has shaken ZANU-PF,
with President Mugabe devoting considerable portions of his speeches at
rallies to accuse the pair of being sponsored by the British to oppose his
leadership. President Mugabe described Dabengwa as the "greatest betrayer"
at a rally in Lupane on Tuesday.
Msika was particularly embarrassed by Dabengwa's move, which The Financial
Gazette had predicted in a story published a few days before he and Makoni
appeared together in public for the first time at a rally in Bulawayo.
Tweny-four hours prior to this, Msika had vouched for Dabengwa's support for
President Mugabe at the launching of the ZANU-PF manifesto in Harare.He
accused the media of fabricating stories about possible defections from the
ZANU-PF has taken its time to announce Dabengwa's fate, in contrast to the
haste with which it declared that Makoni had "expelled himself from the
party" when the former finance minister launched his presidential bid.
This week,President Mugabe met retired army general Solomon Mujuru to
discuss what he believes to be rebellion within the ruling party by figures
secretly backing Makoni.
Reports have repeatedly linked Mujuru and those said to be aligned to him to
Makoni. Mujuru has not responded publicly, but he has attended the
President's campaign rallies.
"The President wanted to verify reports that more people would be joining
Makoni. He said he did not want to be ambushed," a source said.
Mujuru is said to have told the President that he was not aware of any such
President Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba, could not be reached for
ZANU-PF's secretary for information and publicity Nathan Shamuyarira was
also unavailable. His deputy, Ephraim Masawi, declined to comment.
Deputy Information and Publicity Minister Bright Matonga said: "I am not
aware if the meeting took place, but if it indeed took place I do not see
Makoni's decision to challenge President Mugabe in election on March 29
sparked speculation that top ZANU-PF officials would publicly support him.
However, only politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa and former Speaker of
Parliament Cyril Ndebele have so far openly backed his candidacy.
Njabulo Ncube Political Editor
AS the first contingent of Southern African Development Community (SADC)
election observers started arriving in Zimbabwe this week, the opposition
has reported a resurgence of incidents of violence, especially in perceived
The MDC faction led by Morgan Tsvangirai alleges that one of its council
candidates in Rushinga, Edson Muwenga, has been missing since February 15,
while three other members of the party were allegedly evicted on March 10
from a farm in Waterfalls by suspected soldiers ,who claimed ownership of
the property. The party identified the three opposition supporters as Taurai
Chipure, Passmore Chigogo and Obey Matanga.
The MDC further claimed that five party activists in Chitungwiza were
arrested last week for allegedly disturbing the peace near the house of a
sitting ZANU-PF councillor. Those arrested were Joaquim Rosa, Viola Nyika,
Mercy Chari, Christine Chiurungwe and Evelyn Shambare.
"This confirms we are headed for another bloody election. The leopard has
not changed its spots," said Nelson Chamisa, spokesman for the Tsvangirai
camp of the MDC. "Various reports of intimidation, arrests and violence
against MDC members continues."
On Monday, war veterans in Filabusi, Matabeleland South, allegedly accosted
Simba Makoni as he campaigned in the province.
Makoni and his team proceeded to Zvishavane after the police intervened.
"Makoni is not deterred by the actions of people who feel threatened by his
candidature. We are having successful meetings across the country, even in
the rural areas where people are consumed with fear," said Denford Magora,
spokesman for the Makoni campaign.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project alleged in its latest pre-election report that a
headman in Muumbe communal lands in Chipinge South, only identified as
Musindo, had been abducted and assaulted by suspected ZANU-PF supporters.
Incidents of vote buying have been reported in Lupane with candidates from
both the ruling party and MDC offering cash and scarce maize meal to voters.
But police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena insists the run-up to the polls has
been relatively calm. "It is very calm and quiet," said Bvudzijena. "We
don't expect any disturbing trends because so far police have not been kept
Reports of alleged incidents of politically motivated violence surfaced at
about the same time the first group of about 20 election observers from SADC
arrived in Harare on Monday.
Russia is the only European country invited to observe the elections while
the majority of African countries, among them Sudan, Kenya and Ethiopia,
which have some of the worst human rights records, have been invited.
The opposition, civic society organisations and the West accuse the
government of cherry-picking friendly observers allegedly to gloss over
violence and vote rigging.
The SADC Parliamentary Forum, which observed and subsequently produced a
damning report about the controversial 2002 presidential polls, said on
Monday it is still awaiting invitation from the government and so is the
Electoral Institute of Southern Africa.
AT least two people died when a light aircraft crashed at Charles Prince
airport yesterday, police and aviation sources said. The two passengers
confirmed dead in the crash were doctors at Parirenyatwa Hospital, a police
The plane crashed just as it took off from the airport, north of Harare,
after catching fire and nose-diving to the ground, witnesses said. Police
spokesman Andrew Phiri confirmed the crash yesterday, but said no details
could yet be released on the identities of the casualties. There was also no
detail as to the make of the plane, but an aviation source said it was a
light aircraft owned by a private charter company operating out of Charles
Prince. The plane was on its way to Botswana, the source said. Zimbabwe is
reputed to have one of the best air safety records, but incidents involving
light aircraft have increased over the past five years. The most recent
serious crash was in 2003, when four people were killed when a Beechcraft
plunged into two Kuwadzana homes.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
... as Gvt intensifies crackdown on millers
THE country's troubled millers and bakers this week warned that a fresh wave
of bread shortage might hit the market because of inadequate flour supplies
and unviable prices, which are pushing businesses on the brink of closure.
The two allied industries have sent an SOS to government, calling on it to
urgently intervene through the state granary - the Grain Marketing Board -
and the National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC), which has been
disregarding their applications for price reviews.
Last week, government intensified its crackdown on millers, accusing them of
flouting price controls.
Uncertainty has gripped both industries with a number of executives living
under constant fear of arrest.
On Thursday last week police arrested National Foods Limited managing
director Jeremy Brooke, before descending on Mike Manga, head of Blue Ribbon
Foods and chairman of the influential Millers Association of Zimbabwe on
Monday, for allegedly breaching controls on the price of flour.
Brooke and Manga were arrested on Saturday and Monday respectively, and are
currently on bail.
Sources told The Financial Gazette this week that more executives could be
thrown behind bars for increasing prices without government authority.
The sources said it became clear last week that Brooke had become the target
of the latest blitz after the National Foods boss and his team were "thrown
out" of a stormy meeting convened by the Joint Operations Command (JOC) in
the capital on Tuesday.
JOC comprise top representatives from the army, the police and intelligence
At the meeting, NIPC chairman Godwills Masimirembwa turned on the heat on
the National Bakers Association (NBA) to reveal the distortions in the
pricing of flour.
The bakers obliged by revealing that flour was landing at their factories at
anything between $2 billion and $4,5 billion per tonne and not the gazetted
During the meeting, also attended by retailers, Brooke said the Zimbabwe
Stock Exchange-listed group was charging transport and other related costs
separately. However, his defence incensed the JOC members, who ordered him
out of the tense indaba.
"Brooke defended the millers' conduct and pointed out that they needed a
price adjustment because production costs, among them fuel prices, had risen
sharply," said a source.
"He was then ordered to leave the meeting and arrested a day later," added
Brooke was granted bail on Monday, the same day that police also arrested
The incidents have bred animosity between millers and the bakers, with the
former accusing the NBA of blowing the whistle to the NIPC.
"The acrimony is not healthy for the industry.
"Instead of fighting for the common cause, the major players in both
industries are turning against each other," said a source.
Industry sources said most millers and bakers had ceased operations because
of the wheat shortages compounded by delays by the NIPC in approving new
flour prices to keep the sectors afloat.
The National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, which used to supply cheaper fuel to
the baking industry, has also terminated supplies, forcing industry players
to source expensive diesel from the parallel market.
"There are serious bread shortages because of flour shortages and the market
price, which is not correct.
"This does not augur well for a country facing elections. Very few tonnage
(of flour) is trickling to bakers," said one baker, who asked not to be
NBA chairman Vincent Mangoma said the bread shortages were more pronounced
in Bulawayo and would soon spread across the country.
"There is very little flour available on the market. There has been some
knock-on effect on the production of bread and Bulawayo is already
"The production costs for bread has really shot up and bakers are unable to
recover the costs," said Mangoma.
The few millers who were still supplying flour were reportedly pressing the
NIPC for a retail price of $6.5 billion per tonne to remain viable.
Bakers were also reportedly pressing for a retail price of $15 million per
loaf, up from $3.5 million, to recoup rising production costs.
A bank executives told The Financial Gazette this week that by not reviewing
the price of flour and bread timeously, the NIPC was eroding the gains that
had been achieved by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) in stimulating
production after the July 2007 price cuts.
A number of companies, among them National Foods and Lobel's Bread accessed
the cheap funds under the Basic Commodities Supply Side Intervention
(BACOSSI) and had upped their output.
The bank executive said these companies might be forced to go back to the
RBZ seeking additional BACOSSI funds to recapitalise their operations.
"All these things (crackdown and uneconomic pricing) are threatening to
reverse the benefits of BACOSSI," said one miller, who asked not to be
Masimirembwa this week insisted that millers had to comply with the
commission's price dictates.
"We are prosecuting those people flouting stipulated prices. If there is
need for a price review we will look at it but people must comply first and
not flout prices and justify (violation of the law)," said Masimirembwa.
Observers fear that hundreds of jobs could also be lost as milling and
baking firms downsize.
Bread shortages are just but one in a long list of key commodities in short
supply in the country, which is grappling with its worst ever economic
THE Acting Editor-in-Chief of The Financial Gazette Hama Saburi (HS) had the
opportunity to discuss with Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon
Gono (GG) the mechanisation programme, whose third phase was launched in
Harare on Saturday. Here are excerpts from the interview.
HS: Governor, on Saturday the country witnessed the launch of the final
Phase of the Farm Mechanisation Programme, capping a three-pronged
Programme, which started in June 2007. Looking back to where you started
from, what is your overall assessment of the exercise?
GG: The recently launched Phase 3 of the Mechanisation Programme was not the
final phase, as this programme will run through to 2010. Looking back at
where we came from since the launch of Phase 1 in June 2007, my team and I
are actually amazed at the breadth and depth of what we have achieved. In
short, we have exceeded our own expectations.
HS: Also, looking at the whole package, how many units of each item have
been distributed under the programme and at what cost?
GG: Phases 1, 2 and 3 of the mechanisation programme have seen the following
being distributed: 2,725 tractors; 1,846 ploughs; 1,733 harrows; 746 boom
sprayers; 608 fertiliser spreaders; 466 planters; 105 combine harvesters;
210 hay bailers; 78,000 scotch carts; 46,200 cultivators; 2,000 planters;
100,000 ploughs; 130,000 harrows; 92,000 knap sacks and 200,000 chains. This
collectivity of mechanisation came at a cumulative investment equivalent of
around US$180 million for the three phases. It is important to note that the
animal-drawn implements were all assembled locally, which created phenomenal
job opportunities for our youth, women groups and other sections of our
HS: Now that the farming sector has been re-tooled, what are your
expectations going forward?
GG: Our repeated call is that our farmers now fully utilise every inch of
arable land so as to contribute in the current fights against food
insecurity and inflation. As was made very clear at the start of the
mechanisation programme, the machinery and implements are not being given
for free. Every beneficiary is expected to fully pay for what they got out
of the revenue streams the machinery produces.
HS: At the launch of Phase 1, you emphasised the importance of the programme
in fighting inflation. With what has been done so far, would you say the
country is now in a better stead to fight the inflation monster?
GG: Definitely yes. I strongly believe that the cumulative muscle we have
injected into agriculture ushers in a new era for Zimbabwe's food production
capacity. Starting this coming season, barring any unforeseen vagaries of
nature, we should be able to produce enough food for our internal
consumptive needs and for export. All this will directly deflate the
HS: The current farming season is proving to be yet another challenge for
Zimbabwe due to the excessive rains and the long dry spell, which then
followed. Are you not foreseeing a situation where some farmers might
struggle to pay for the equipment?
GG: The equipment is repayable over 2-3 years. We took this position in
order to take into account the unforeseen contingencies often associated
with farming. I must, however, comment that already, some farmers have
covered some distance in terms of paying for the equipment they received
under Phase 1.
HS: Isn't there a possibility therefore, that the Reserve Bank might be
forced to relax its payment terms to take into consideration the exogenous
factors confronting the farming community?
GG: As I have already indicated, all the equipment that was given out was
not for free. Through Fiscorp, itself a wholly owned arm of the Reserve
Bank, we are in the process of following up on these repayments. No
defaulters will be tolerated. In the cases of either abuse or non-productive
use of the equipment, we reserve the right to withdraw such support and
re-allocate it elsewhere to deserving farmers.
HS: Critics argue that the timing of the 3rd Phase in particular, was meant
to give the ruling ZANU-PF party an opportunity to buy votes ahead of the
elections, what is your comment?
GG: Nothing could be further from the truth. Remember that on 11 June 2007
and in October, 2007 I did pre-announce that future phases were coming.
Elections or no elections, this noble programme was still going to take
place. Soon, there will be Phases 4; 5; 6 and so forth. Surely this does not
mean there will be that many elections to come over the outlook period.
Those who try to politicise the mechanisation programme will be practicing
the highest order of intellectual dishonesty since by its nature, the
programme benefits any deserving Zimbabwean, regardless of their religious,
gender or political persuasion.
HS: A lot has also been said about some farmers abusing the farming
equipment sourced under the programme, are they any safeguards to ensure
that the equipment is put to good use?
GG: The first safeguard valve is that each beneficiary has to pay for what
they received. Those abusing the equipment or those that simply lock it away
will thus, come short on paying for the equipment. Secondly, the Reserve
Bank has sent out teams of motivated inspectors who are following up on each
and every beneficiary under this programme. Our work programmes are being
done alongside the collaborative efforts of the relevant government
ministries. I am very pleased that the systems we have put in place are
HS: Early this year, the programme was mired in controversy after a court
official alleged the Reserve Bank had released trillions of dollars to a
company contracted to source farming equipment under unclear circumstances.
While the courts have since cleared the RBZ, don't you feel aggrieved that
despite your efforts, there are people who are out to put spanners in your
GG: Well, well, well, they say sweet nectar attracts stinging bees. Where
good things are in motion you often find blood thirsty vultures circulating
above. All that matters is that one has to remain steadfast on the job. At
the Reserve Bank, we are very pleased that our competent courts were
convinced beyond reasonable doubt that what the Reserve Bank was doing was
above board. We will neither be swayed nor deterred from implementing noble
programmes that have multiple positive dividends to the economy and society.
HS: Then, there is the issue of farming equipment going into the wrong
hands. How watertight is the criteria used by the central bank and the
GG: We use tested criteria, informed by tangible evidence of land ownership,
as well as productivity track records at the GMB and other
agro-marketplaces. In coming up with the lists of beneficiaries, we also
work closely with community leadership structures, including our chiefs and
headmen who have better insights on genuine farmers on the ground.
HS: It appears that the central bank is extending its intervention to cover
the small to medium size enterprise sector (SMEs). Can you briefly explain
what the SMEs programme entails?
GG: The Reserve Bank has repeatedly argued that lasting stabilisation of the
vices of inflation, GDP contraction, low investment, rising unemployment and
diminishing standards of living for the majority of our people is only
achievable when focus is placed on those programmes that directly create
wealth for the people. The SME programme seeks to introduce simple,
efficient, affordable and practical technologies at all service centres
countrywide, as part of the broader strategy to revolutionise the economic
empowerment programme. The vision we have is to see our youths, women and
other unemployed sections of society rolling up their sleeves engaged
productively under the SME programme.
HS: What is the objective behind this SMEs initiative?
GG: The SME programme has multiple objectives, central of which is to
directly fight inflation through massive grassroots production of basic
commodities. Along with satisfaction of this objective are other benefits of
empowerment of our youths and women groups through the expected positive
externalities of the income effects. With more jobs and more rural incomes,
the depth of our internal markets would also deepen, which would give
further impetus to our productive sectors. There are also other phenomenal
gains to the economy and the SME sectors starts to contribute into the
fiscus through tax payments.
HS: It was also apparent on Saturday that the RBZ is also investing in the
transport sector. What is the rational behind this intervention?
GG: Our investment in the transport sector is a direct response to what we
see as an urgent genuine need in our community. Effective commerce cannot
take place in an environment where people have restricted interface and
limited mobility intra and inter-regionally. It is for this reason that we
had to be once again innovative in finding practical solutions to the
transport shortages currently characterising most districts in our
HS: It would be unfair to end this interview without touching on the novel
Basic Commodities Supply Side Intervention (BACOSSI) facility, which you
unveiled last year. It has come to light that a number of companies, which
accessed the facility have not honoured their part of the bargain, are we
likely to see the RBZ taking drastic action against them?
GG: Indeed, some beneficiaries of BACOSSI have been a disappointment.
Fortunately, as a central bank, we had taken pre-emptive and precautionary
measures by ensuring that all beneficiaries entered into solemn covenants of
minimum deliverables prior to benefiting under the facility. What we are now
doing is to meticulously follow through to verify full delivery of the
agreed targets. Naturally, where we identify unexplained deviations, drastic
action will be taken, including immediate recall of the loans at market
interest rates. We have made this position very clear to the corporate
HS: Some of the companies argue that production has been affected by the
intermittent power cuts, water shortages and inadequate coal supplies among
other challenges outside their control, do you agree?
GG: No doubt that power cuts and water shortages impinge adversely on
production but overall, it is expected that every penny received under
BACOSSI is deployed productively.
HS: Don't you feel let down that after supporting the baking industry
through BACOSSI, the National Incomes and Pricing Commission has not given
the industry a viable price to the extent where industry players might come
back to you requesting for additional funding?
GG: These matters are currently under active consideration and I am
confident viable solutions will come through.
HS: In December last year, you hit out at cash barons for causing cash
shortages. Has the situation normalized now?
GG: Most definitely. Cash shortages are a thing of the past now.
HS: There is speculation in the market that with inflation hitting 100,000
percent, the RBZ might soon introduce a new set of high denominated bearer
cheques or rather that the Central Bank will either lop off zeros from the
currency or introduce a new currency altogether. Could this be something you
are considering doing?
GG: We will cross those rivers and streams when we get there.
HS: Governor, you promised to come up with a post-election monetary policy
statement. Why is a post-election monetary policy necessary? And what is it
expected to address?
GG: The harmonised elections are a landmark programme in the history of the
country. It is quite normal that an election period is followed up with
comprehensive policy reforms that ignite business confidence and economic
productivity. I am sure you will agree with me that the world over, election
periods are associated with higher than expected budgetary expenditures
related to the logistical preparations. It is, therefore, fitting that such
episodes be followed up with austerity measures to stabilise the economy. I
am very excited and motivated about what my team and I are working on. Of
course I cannot disclose what we are going to put in place, as doing so will
be an act of policy negation.
Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor
There are fears the programme could benefit ruling party, government bigwigs
The Indigenisation and Empowerment Act has been received with mixed feelings
by economic stakeholders, with foreign-owned firms expressing caution while
local critics and business executives warned it could explode into an
unprecedented crisis if not managed properly.
Jane Mutasa, president of the Indigenous Business Women's Organisation,
welcomed the signing of the bill into law last week, but warned government
had to tread carefully to avoid dragging the economy further down the abyss
by precipitatingcompany closures.
"As the people who championed indigenisation in this country, we are happy
the bill has been signed into law but hope things will be done in a proper
manner," Mutasa said yesterday.
She noted that transformation had to be embarked on in a manner that does
not upset foreign capital, and that the indigenisation programme should not
benefit a few politicians and their cronies.
"It should also involve women who have been culturally excluded from the
mainstream economy. Communities should also benefit from the indigenisation
of companies mining in their areas," Mutasa said.
Her concerns resonated with those expressed by critics who however, feared
the new law was signed as a political gimmick aimed at oiling the tired ZANU
PF election machinery.
Foreign-owned companies will be compelled to give up at least 51 percent
shareholding to local people under the new law, signed by President Robert
Mugabe last week.
Government argues that the new law creates an environment for greater
participation in the country's economy.
Under the law, a fund will be created to finance the acquisition of shares,
working capital and other forms of finance for indigenous people.
The National Investment Trust, which has failed to raise cash for the
purchase of a 15 percent stake reserved for locals in platinum miner
Zimplats, will be constituted as a special account for the planned
Market analysts said the Bill would effectively seal Zimbabwe's fate as a
pariah to international capital.
A labour economist who declined to be named because of his consultancy work
with government said Zimbabwe was maintaining its trajectory down the
"Implementation has always been bad on the part of government and with this
I-don't-care attitude, we might witness something worse than what we saw
with the land reforms," he said.
Investigations indicated that shareholders in mining companies were the most
worried, particularly given that they were the ones likely to be seriously
affected by the new law.
Parliament passed amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act recently, and
with the latest development, this is likely to be signed into law before the
March 29 elections.
The amendments allow government to take over a 25 percent stakes in
foreign-owned mining companies for free in part fulfilment of the 51 percent
According to a confidential document prepared by the Chamber of Mines in
2006, Zimbabwe's mining industry is valued at more than US$20 billion. This
gives the value of the 51 percent indigenisation threshold across the sector
at more than US$10 billion.
The 25 percent stake to be forcibly taken over by government would amount to
Mining industry executives were not willing to discuss the issue publicly,
saying they were still assessing the likely impact of the new law.
President Mugabe has specifically said his government would want domestic
control of the country's mineral resources.
Daniel Ndlela, an economic consultant, told The Financial Gazette in an
earlier interview: "The forced acquisition is tantamount to nationalisation.
Assuming we have the foreign currency (to buy out foreign-owned assets),
this will trigger a massive outflow of cash."
Apparently, the new act comes as ZANU PF, seeking re-election in the March
29 harmonised elections, has anchored its campaign around the issue of
economic empowerment, with an abrasive theme: "Defending our land and
national sovereignty: building prosperity through empowerment."
In its manifesto released last month, the party said: "ZANU PF says as long
as nationally conscious Africans remain salaried managers running
white-owned industrial and commercial concerns, prosperity will continue to
elude the people of Zimbabwe.
ZANU PF believes there is a real opportunity for building on gains already
made through empowerment achieved on land. It must now extend to the rest of
the economy so that the politics of the country begin to address and
rearrange the economic domain."
However, its chaotic land reform exercise has been blamed for plunging the
country into its worst economic crisis in history, characterised by acute
commodity shortages that have spawned a thriving black market and fuelled
inflation, currently topping 100 000 percent year on year.
There are fears the programme could benefit ruling party and government
bigwigs and their cronies.
For example, the Indigenisation Minister will be empowered to review and
approve all black economic empowerment arrangements, and can order a
licensing authority of any business to cancel the licence if he/she is not
happy with the transaction, or the beneficiaries of the deal.
However, Paul Mangwana, the Minister of Indigenisation and Empowerment this
week sought to calm fears of a disastrous implementation of the programme,
saying "it was not as bad" as critics had described it.
He told a press conference this week that government would not force black
partners on foreign-owned companies and that not all firms would be
compelled to sell their shareholding to blacks.
"It's not every business, which will have to have 51 percent indigenous
ownership. The minister will prescribe on the basis of capital (investment)
and employment levels," Mangwana said.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
IN 1993, a group of ZANU-PF Members of Parliament (MPs) risked expulsion
from the ruling party when, without instruction from their seniors, they
moved a motion calling for the reviewing of the Constitution.
Great Makaya, then ZANU-PF's Bikita West MP, called for the formation of a
12-member select committee to formulate a new Constitution.
In addition to Makaya, other ZANU-PF MPs who were to serve on the committee
included Margaret Dongo, Sydney Malunga, Cyril Ndebele, Angeline Masuku,
Mike Mataure, Tirivanhu Mudariki, Byron Hove and Alois Mangwende.
Makaya told Parliament then that this group had consulted widely, even among
politburo members, and that consensus was that the existing constitution was
However, ZANU-PF's then secretary for legal affairs, Edison Zvobgo, and
Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was then Justice Minister, shot down the proposal.
Mnangagwa told the group to abandon the plan immediately. Zvobgo was more
conciliatory, saying the group had the right to pursue the project although
he said it was "doomed".
Mnangagwa said: "As secretary of legal affairs, Mr Zvobgo has said it is
unheard of in any country, in the past or in the present, where a
constitution of a country is going to be fathered or mothered by a couple of
"As far as ZANU-PF is concerned, we will continue to rule this country. This
Friday, the Central Committee of the party is going to meet.we have come to
a political watershed for ZANU-PF where political authority must be
respected, where philosophy of the party must be respected."
Fifteen years later the government suffered a defeat in a constitutional
referendum. Debate about constitutional reform remains a ground for much
contradiction and flip-flopping for ZANU-PF officials.
Records of Parliamentary debates show that support for constitutional reform
has been strong within ZANU-PF for years. However, ZANU-PF MPs have to take
their cue from President Robert Mugabe, lest they suffer the fate of those
who pioneered calls for such reforms.
Fifteen years after being part of that pioneering group, Margaret Dongo, in
an interview with The Financial Gazette on Monday, said she and the other
legislators were "grilled left, right and centre" during the subsequent
Central Committee meeting. Dongo was almost suspended as tempers flared.
The initiative subsequently died a natural death, and most of its advocates
lost their seats. Dongo was only re-elected after running as an independent.
Then, as now, President Mugabe relied on Mnangagwa to thwart any
constitutional reform that would have endangered his position.
"Mnangagwa wanted to protect (President) Mugabe, just as he is doing now,"
Dongo said. "He wanted to be a good boy."
And indeed, records of most contributions by ZANU-PF members on the issue
reveal that they wanted a limit on the President's term of office.
ZANU-PF's then Highfield MP, Richard Shambambeva-Nyandoro, went as far as to
propose what would be unthinkable to a ruling party MP today; that
Parliament must be given powers to summon the President for a hearing to
explain his actions.
To end patronage and nepotism, Shambambeva-Nyandoro said, the constitution
must have provisions authorizing Parliament to vet key appointments such as
those of ambassadors and ministers, a procedure in force in the United
"We also have the army and the police, we want a constitution, which has an
army general who is very loyal to the country and is not allowed to
participate in politics," said Shambambeva-Nyandoro.
Fredrick Shava, now Zimbabwe's ambassador to China, proposed a single vice
president and that such a person must not be appointed, but must be elected.
And contrary to President Mugabe's assertions that judges were biased under
the then chief justice Anthony Gubbay, Shava said the judiciary was
independent and, as such, there was need for a new Constitution to ensure
that funding for the justice system was channeled through a consolidated
fund, and not from government, to guarantee the judiciary's independence.
Despite the 1993 experience, the Parliamentary Reform Committee in 1996,
which once again included Dongo and Education Minister Aeneas Chigwedere,
resuscitated the constitutional issue.
In 1998, ZANU-PF MP Dzikamai Mavhaire moved a motion for a new constitution.
However, all these efforts came to naught.
Chigwedere once boasted he was well versed in constitutional matters and
could make a positive contribution towards crafting one.
"I want members here to know that I am a student of constitutional history
and I have studied the American constitution from 1781 right up to the last
amendment in 1971. I know the British constitution, from the Magna Carta of
1215 right up to the enfranchisement of women after the First World War. I
know the French constitution from the outbreak of the great revolution in
1789 to the 5th Republic. I know the Russian constitution from the Bolshevik
revolution to 1991," he said.
But Chigwedere's defeat in the ZANU-PF primaries means he becomes the latest
of a string of MPs whose careers ended before they could contribute towards
the crafting of a new charter.
Dongo says the stumbling block to constitutional reform is not ZANU-PF, but
President Mugabe himself.
"The person who was and is still against a new constitution is President
Mugabe himself, because, for him, it would mean executive powers would be
removed. He is not open about it, but he uses his cronies."
President Mugabe has said "there could never be another constitution so
dear, so sacrosanct" as the current one. But history shows that many in his
party do not agree.
Chigwedere said in 1998: "We know very well that the Constitution is not a
people's constitution. It is a Lancaster one designed by the British, not
necessarily to meet Zimbabwe's needs. It has too many weaknesses."
Ephraim Masawi, then ZANU-PF Mbare West MP, weighed in: "Mr Speaker, the
issue of re-writing the Zimbabwean Constitution is long overdue and I have
pointed out that it was a hurried constitution. The major thing is to have a
constitution that can look after the citizens in terms if human rights."
Today, it is with a sense of déjà vu that Dongo watches as senior ZANU-PF
officials compete to declare their allegiance to President Mugabe.
Just as Politburo members have fallen back in line behind President Mugabe
to denounce Simba Makoni, Dongo and her parliamentary colleagues had also
been assured of support in their drive for a new constitution, only to side
with the party leader when he turned up the heat on them.
Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief
BULAWAYO - Nine city councillors have opted out of local government
elections scheduled for March 29 but four of them are aiming for higher
office. Three are contesting House of Assembly seats while one is eyeing a
The executive mayor, Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, who was not a councillor, is also
contesting a seat in the House of Assembly as a representative of the Arthur
Mutambara faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
He will be battling it out in Bulawayo Central with seven other candidates.
There are three independent candidates, namely Kudzanayi Ivan Chigwada,
Hlabati Frank Dzukuso and Angirayi Delwin Kwembeya.
Bishop Clement Ncube is representing ZANU-PF while Carl Arnold Payne will
represent PUMA and Staff Dorcas Sibanda will stand for the Tsvangirai
faction of the MDC.
The post of executive mayor has been abolished. The 29 elected councillors
will now select the mayor.
The provincial administrator will oversee elections for the posts of mayor
and his deputy.
Among the councillors who have dropped out of the race completely is Phil
Lamola, the current deputy mayor.
The only councillor contesting for a senate seat is Alderman Matson Hlalo,
who is standing in Mzilikazi for the Tsvangirai faction.
Hlalo is facing two independent candidates - Austen Moyo and Losper Mpande -
and Sibangilizwe Msipa of the Mutambara faction and Canisia Satiya of
Hlalo represented Barbourfields, Mzilikazi, Nguboyenja, Thorngrove and
Burombo Flats in the council.
Other councillors vying for higher office are Alderman Charles Mpofu, Samuel
Khumalo and Albert Mhlanga.
Mpofu is contesting as an independent in Nketa. He said he was fully behind
independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni.
Mpofu joined council as a ZANU-PF councillor but left to become an
independent, then joined the MDC but left the party again to become an
The alderman was an outspoken critic of the executive mayor as well as both
the ZANU-PF and MDC leadership, accusing them of dictatorial tendencies,
claiming that they did not respect independent opinion and always suspended
anyone who disagreed with the leadership.
"I am standing as an independent candidate but at the same time I am urging
people in my constituency to vote for an independent president and an
independent senator," he said.
Mpofu will lock horns with Bongani Sikhumbuzo Dube of ZAPU-FP, Kisimusi Moyo
of UPP, Seiso Moyo of the Tsvangirai faction, Coustin Ngwenya of ZANU-PF and
Sternlord Ndlovu of the Mutambara faction.
Khumalo is battling it out in the heavily contested Pelandaba-Mpopoma
constituency, where he is squaring up against Information Minister
Sikhanyiso Ndlovu of ZANU-PF. He represents the Tsvangirai faction.
The serving legislator for the area was Milton Milford Gwetu, who died two
weeks ago. He represented the Mutambara faction and was the party's
Others are Chamunorwa Mahachi of ZDP, Paul Siwela of FDU and two independent
candidates Job Sibanda and Fungai Mutukwa.
Khumalo is the councillor for Iminyela, Mabutweni, Pelandaba and Kelvin
Mhlanga, a former deputy mayor and currently the councillor for Enqameni,
Luveve and Gwabalanda, is contesting in Pumula. He is standing for the
Tsvangirai faction. He is facing Nkanyiso Mhlope (Mutambara faction), Malaba
Godfrey Ncube (ZANU-PF), Lovemore Sibanda (FDU) and Paul Sibanda (UPP).
The real fight in both local government and parliamentary elections in
Bulawayo is, however, between the two MDC factions.
The city and metropolitan province are both currently controlled by the
Mutambara faction but all councillors and members of the lower house were
elected before the split under Tsvangirai's leadership.
Only senators were elected under Mutambara's leadership after the party
split over whether it should participate in the senate elections or not.
This month's elections are therefore a test of who really has the support of
the people. Tsvangirai has so far attracted the biggest crowd at rallies at
White City Stadium.
It will therefore be interesting to see if these numbers will translate into
Opponents of Tsvangirai argue that most of the people that attended the
rally, like those who were at Makoni's a week before, merely went there to
hear what he had to say. They were not party supporters.
A former ZAPU politician, however, argued that there were no spectators in
"In the 1980s, before the merger of ZANU-PF and ZAPU we went to a rally
being addressed by (President) Mugabe.
"When we told Umdala (Joshua Nkomo) that we had merely gone there to hear
what he had to say and see whether he had support, Nkomo asked: "Did you
tell journalists on your way into the stadium that? Because if you did not,
the media will report that all those who were at the rally were (President)
Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor
JUDGE President, Rita Makarau, is presiding over what might turn out to be a
revolution in the justice delivery system in Zimbabwe.
On Monday, she was at a local hotel with economic stakeholders, proposing
what she termed a commercial law court.
This will be a separate wing of the High Court of Zimbabwe dealing
specifically with commercial cases.
For the discerning executive, how about a court where the judges are not
draped in those court robes, their heads are not adorned with the wigs that
make them look like medieval landlords?
The judge comes to court wearing an executive suit, his papers filed in a
classy briefcase and the well-furnished court is probably located in an
upmarket building in the city centre.
Of course, that is part of Makarau's proposed commercial law court, but not
exactly the case for the ambitious project.
In a country now almost steeped in a culture of delay, Makarau comes across
as an indefatigable judge who wants to see things move faster.
Soon after her appointment as Judge President, Makarau set up a dedicated
family law court in the third term of 2006, dealing exclusively with family
This resulted in a higher disposal rate of family law matters.
In 2007, she experimented with a fast track court system for civil cases.
This resulted in a dramatic reduction in delay periods, down from over 36
months to just about six weeks, with all matters requiring up to two days of
"I am coming from experience that specialisation helps; it does bring
results if we have a dedicated commercial law court," Makarau said,
addressing executives from across Zimbabwe's diverse economic sectors.
Arguing for the establishment of the commercial law court, Rex Shana,
director of the Judicial College, said: "I know that it is a truism that as
commerce and industry goes about its business, there is that inevitable
dispute that arises between an individual and company, or company and
company. I would actually venture to suggest that legal disputes have now
become an integral part of the intercourse that exists in commerce and
Shana said players in commerce and industry would want to see disputes
resolved expeditiously with minimum disruption to their businesses.
"The current reality, however, is that as more and more disputes find their
way to court, the case backlog increases. Delay in the disposal rate of
cases becomes inevitable," said Shana.
A dedicated commercial law court would bring a measure of specialisation
within the High Court, she said. This would ensure the availability of both
knowledge and skills for efficient adjudication in matters of trade and
commerce, Makarau said.
With the experience gained so far with the establishment of a family law
court and the fast track court for civil cases, a commercial law court was
likely to result in a higher disposal rate for commercial cases in the High
Quicker and more efficient disposal of cases would ensure legal certainty in
trade and commerce, while also allowing for depth and quality of judgements
in commercial law matters.
Quicker disposal of cases would also curtail inflation-induced erosion of
values determined by court judgements in the current hyperinflationary
environment, Makarau noted.
"In current hyperinflationary environment, most bad debtors find profit in
delaying payment until compelled by a court order. The longer it takes the
better for them," Makarau said.
The establishment of a commercial law court would also provide a faster
forum for dispute resolution between landlords and tenants in commercial
Generally commercial law court will provide efficient service for dispute
resolution, thus minimising business risk associated with legal uncertainty.
The commercial law court will deal with all disputes arising from
contractual relationships, except those involving residential properties.
It will also handle matters relating to land acquisition and title to
The High Court has historically operated as general division, with judges
dealing with all nature of cases without specialisation
This has resulted in the mixture of criminal and civil matters in a single
Shana, the director of the Judicial College, said owing to the country's
history, Zimbabwe had adopted a system where the High Court operated as a
general division without specialisation.
The assignment of judges to a mixed bag of cases precluded them from giving
priority to any particular type of cases, he said.
As a result, commercial cases were not dealt with reasonable promptness
because they were treated just like any type of case.
Makarau said the current delays in resolving commercial cases had forced
many companies into arbitration, which was faster than litigation.
However, the problem with arbitration was that it did not bear the certainty
of legality as different arbitrators made different judgments unlike a court
system that depended on the doctrine of precedence.
Rangarirai Mberi News Editor
THE numbers game is on. With Morgan Tsvangirai, the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) leader having pulled off a massive rally at the weekend, expect
a period of arguments over crowd sizes right into March 29. On Saturday, a
text message went out from the Tsvangirai campaign. It said 40 000 had
attended the Bulawayo rally.
Sunday morning, the MDC website reported that "a mammoth crowd of 40 000
turned up to ignite a carnival atmosphere at White City Stadium".
But the Standard reported the crowd at 12 000. The Sunday News played safe,
only saying Tsvangirai had addressed "scores" of supporters. However, a
website reported "60 000 wildly cheering supporters". The MDC website puts
the crowd at its Mutare campaign launch last month at 60 000.
One agency report put the Bulawayo crowd at 20 000.
But the Chronicle believed it had a perfectly reasonable explanation for the
"With the opposition involved in a fierce tussle over the political turf in
Matabeleland region, the MDC faction led by Mr Morgan Tsvangirai on Saturday
bussed hundreds of hired supporters to Bulawayo in a bid to paint a picture
of massive support in the city, Chronicle can reveal."
It then put forward its own estimate of 10 000. And why would Tsvangirai bus
supporters in? Well, according to the Chronicle, an "insider said the MDC
faction was under pressure to better President Mugabe's well attended star
It then quotes its MDC source as saying: "The people have come to realise
that the faction is full of empty promises and it's only there to please its
And this quote is supposed to be coming from "an MDC insider", remember.
But while one newspaper is telling us that Tsvangirai is desperate to match
President Mugabe's "well attended" rallies, the online Zimbabwe Times is
"The turnout for President Mugabe's rally - less than 600-strong - was so
disappointingly small that Angeline Masuku, the Matabeleland South governor,
apologised profusely to President Mugabe in her introductory remarks," the
site's correspondent reports from Esigodini.
"Masuku claimed the low attendance was a result of the country's fuel
shortage and the short notice of the rally. The fuel shortage has, however,
not deterred supporters from attending rallies of opposition parties."
The site puts its own estimate on the Tsvangirai rally at 30 000, and weighs
in for good measure: "Observers said this was the largest crowd ever seen in
Matabeleland since the days of Joshua Nkomo".
The Herald has hesitated to put figures on what the Chronicle says have been
President Mugabe's "well attended" rallies, preferring to use abstract terms
such as "thousands" and "hordes". But last Wednesday, the paper led with a
"Massive turnout for President" in Manicaland.
Simba Makoni's website is dealing its own cards in the numbers' game,
playing up its candidate's underdog tag.
On Monday, it showed wide-angled pictures of Makoni's rally on Saturday at
Mkoba Stadium in Gweru, and said he had pulled 8000.
Gushed Makoni's PR: "When Simba Makoni's convoy headed for Mkoba via the
city centre, there was pandemonium at the weekend in the city centre as a
huge crowd rushed to catch a glimpse of Simba Makoni in the vehicle that was
carrying him. This signaled just the beginning of amazing things to come.
It goes on: "At the stadium, a crowd of between 5 000 to 7 000 was already
waiting and this swelled to about 8 000 by the time Simba Makoni was invited
to address the crowd.
"How amazing; there were no buses, lorries or kombis that had ferried people
to the stadium.how amazing indeed for a man reported to be a lightweight
with no grassroots support."
A correspondent in Kwekwe reports some 5000 attended his rally at Mbizo
stadium at the weekend.
Last week, Makoni's website showed pictures of Makoni on a walk-about at
Sanyati and Nembudziya.
"The attached photos tell the story clearly enough," said the website
triumphantly, showing images of large crowds walking behind Makoni.
The numbers game will be important in the battle for momentum over the next
two weeks; each large crowd is designed to make a statement and prod the
fence sitters. However, it is unclear just how much of these crowds will
turn into votes. And in this fight over numbers, real issues are being
ignored, giving way to arguments over which of the three personalities -
three, because Langton Towungana says rallies are against his religion - has
more personal charisma than the other.
Is it President Mugabe and his British-bashing fist of fury, Tsvangirai and
his drive to remain the "legitimate opposition" leader - at least according
to Lovemore Madhuku last week - or Makoni and his centrist "let's-all-hug-each-other-and-sing-Kumbaya"
GOVERNING Zimbabwe after the election presents the greatest challenge to the
party that will win the majority of seats in Parliament.
However, without an understanding of precisely what victory means, the
outcome can involve policy paralysis, escalating problems, loss of public
support and ultimately regime failure.
This article is designed to grapple with some of the complexities of victory
in a country facing economic collapse.
It is also aimed at identifying common fallacies held by victors.
Finally, as usual, this author will attempt to discuss issues about the way
forward and social transformation of Zimbabwe.
Elections by themselves do not equal democracy because democracy and poverty
are incompatible. Elections do not provide solutions to economic and social
problems. Rather what matters are questions of legitimacy, accountability
and effectiveness of democratic governance.
The broad issue of democracy seems in danger of being narrowed down to mean
electoral competition. Indeed elections do provide the opportunity for
choice to be made among the various alternatives.
However, this process alone does not offer sufficient conditions for real
fundamental changes. Multi-party politics and the politics of independents
do not offer long-term solutions to the economic problems of any society but
rather it is the content of the policies and programmes that matter more.
At the same time, elections do not guarantee a better future, especially
under a new ZANU-PF government, but a lack of solutions to the economic
problems will almost certainly lead to disastrous consequences.
Politics in Zimbabwe today is confused by an over-abundance of opportunism
that obscures the real nature of the political economic and social
struggles. All sorts of ideas are being put forward to explain the unfolding
events and to serve as a panacea for the enormous social economic and
political ills the country is facing.
Statistically the cost of living has been rocketing in all areas while wages
and returns to peasants' efforts have been pegged or reduced in real terms.
The Zimbabwean people are suffering from a variety of AIDS. Apart from the
well-known AIDS epidemic, there are also other forms of AIDS in Zimbabwe
such as the Acquired Industrial Decline Syndrome and Acquired Inflation
The last mentioned disease has indeed affected retailers in such a way that
they often raise the prices of basic commodities three times a day with
No wonder the helpless average Zimbabwean is growing poorer, in some cases
physically shattered. Unemployment is staggering, health is degenerating
both in the cities and countryside and wrong education is becoming
Yet members of the ruling class are getting bigger "pot-bellies" and more
stainless cash to squander on prestigious eccentricities.
What about the masses? Near starvation, chronic diseases, heavy taxation,
rude treatment when off the 'path'. The labouring masses must continue to
suffer and lament in the wilderness.
ZANU-PF had the opportunity to serve and free the Zimbabwean people after
years of intensive exploitation, oppression, degradation and dehumanisation
by successive white minority regimes.
But ZANU-PF has failed and even has gone further to betray the Zimbabwean
people through economic mismanagement.
Therefore one of the pressing problems facing all Zimbabwean people is how
to remove ZANU-PF from power through the ballot box. Ruling parties are
head-bent on clinging to power at any cost.
ZANU-PF has already unleashed a double-pronged offensive during its election
campaigns - to consolidate its ruling class status and to brand opposition
leaders such as Simba Makoni and Morgan Tsvangirai "agents" of the
Europeans, the British and Americans. Needless to say, ZANU-PF is a master
at encompassing, dehumanising and neutralising every potential opposition
leader at every available opportunity.
The only guaranteed road to total emancipation of the Zimbabwe people from
all forms of authoritarianism is to look beyond the 2008 general elections.
In the event of ZANU-PF winning power again legitimately, or by hook or
crook, there is need to drive towards a new mass movement in the
post-election situation in Zimbabwe. The availability of a viable,
organised, steeled and correctly led movement is a vital prerequisite for
political change in Zimbabwe. At present efforts for such movement are
confronted by numerous but surmountable obstacles and problems. That is why
all aspiring patriotic politicians need more audacity, creativity, energy
and persistence. That is why these leaders must be selfless, meticulous and
patient in the process of bringing about political change in Zimbabwe.
All opposition forces need to rethink and re-conceptualise the way forward.
There is need for the realignment of all progressive opposition forces in
order to challenge those resisting political change in Zimbabwe. Let us
remember, elections merely bring about cosmetic changes rather than
In summary, let it be stressed that the analysis of issues always serves as
the basis for action and exhortation should always be analytical, based on
sound examination and reasoning. Individuals can make a difference working
for political change inside Zimbabwe.
Individuals can also help to develop the consciousness of active patriots in
Zimbabwe: to pose pressing questions and join in the finding of solutions.
Professor Austin Chakaodza is a political analyst of African affairs. He is
professor of International Relations at Regents College in London.
IT is clear that the most pressing problems in Zimbabwe at the moment are
economical. The country is rapidly collapsing towards being a failed state.
Many will say that, it has already achieved that dubious distinction.
Obviously, everyone desperately wants to halt this slide to oblivion, and
then reverse it and claw our way back to some measure of prosperity.
In order to tackle any problem you have to investigate and understand its
root causes before it is possible to take any meaningful corrective action.
This is where we have the "elephant in the living room" problem. Everyone
knows it is there, but everyone ignores it, and pretends it's not there.
Once we look at the causes of the economic collapse, the reasons for this
self-induced blindness become embarrassingly apparent.
OK, to bite the bullet, let us be brave and face these events head-on.
The first major problem was when the war veterans were awarded massive
benefits during 1997. The economy plainly could not afford this unbudgeted
and continuing expense, and so began its slide to oblivion. The next major
blow was when half of Zimbabwe's armed forces were despatched to the
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in August 1998. This caused another
huge drain on the weakened economy, though the precise figures have never
been made public. Although certain individuals benefited mightily, the
country and the economy suffered enormously.
The final coup de grace was the land invasions, which began in 2000. It may
have seemed like "a good idea at the time", but this was the final nail in
the economic coffin. Whether anyone realised at the time that if one removed
the major pillar supporting the economy, then it would inevitably collapse
is unknown. I cannot remember any warnings other than my own, though of
course there may have been. Not only was our major employer and income
generator destroyed, but the way it was done led to a multitude of problems.
First, the violent "jambanja" did untold harm to our tourism industry, which
used to generate a large amount of hard currency. Subsequent actions exposed
this exercise as uncompromisingly racist, manifestly unjust and plainly
illegal when judged by the standards of natural justice.
Manipulations to the judiciary and to the law reinforced the perception that
ours was a "bandit nation" where the rule of law meant nothing. This
inevitably led to the imposition of travel restrictions on those thought to
be primarily responsible and as well caused the drying up of international
The next blow came with Operation Murambatsvina, which attracted
international condemnation including the United Nations. This was then
followed by the "price reduction" exercise and the threats of seizing mines
and other businesses by government.
How then do we extricate ourselves from the hole we have dug for ourselves?
That must be the paramount issue facing whatever government emerges after
March 29. It is said that only a fool repeats the same action constantly
while expecting a different outcome. When we look at all the decisions that
have led to the downfall of Zimbabwe as a nation, one glaring common factor
stands out like an elephant in the sitting room.
Each and every one of these decisions was taken for short-term populist
political gain, coupled in most cases with the opportunity for
self-enrichment by a small elite. None were well-considered, rational and
The first step towards regaining economic stability must be the restoration
of the rule of law. This will be difficult because over the last eight years
particularly, the rule of law has been eliminated.
The judiciary are considered to be for sale to the highest bidder, or
beholden to certain groups through patronage. The police force is no longer
trusted and it is often considered to be just the enforcement arm of one
particular political party.
Restoring the rule of law is vital, because the economy cannot and will not
recover until this has not only been done, but also seen to have done. No
one, local or foreign business will invest in the economy until such time as
they believe that the rule of law has been restored. -
The next step must be to try and revive our once-biggest industry,
agriculture. It is clear that the system tried over the last eight years has
failed dismally as the country cannot feed itself; much less, generate the
desperately needed hard currency to cover essential imports.
Again, it is the restoration of the rule of law that will be required to
underpin agricultural recovery. Titles must be legitimately and legally held
in order for farmers to secure the essential loans required for inputs.
Banks cannot gamble their depositor's money (actually, it's your money)
unless they have solid collateral security.
A number of other hard facts must be faced as well. First, absolutely no one
has any "right" to agricultural land for free. Productive land is a national
asset, and as such must be paid for by those who wish to use it. Next, there
is a fundamental difference between large-scale commercial agriculture,
which fuels the nation's economy and small-scale subsistence farming, which
benefits one or two families at most.
Those who genuinely wish to earn their living through agriculture should be
assisted with training and loans; but unpaid loans must lead to repossession
of the land and resale to someone else who can be more successful.
Unused land can be set aside for "communal" use, though this is
unsustainable in the long term. What the nation needs are competent and
proven farmers who do nothing but farm 100 percent of their time. No matter
how many farms they own, as long as those farms are productive. The entire
economy must be freed from the clutches of domineering control and the
threat of expropriation. This applies to mining, tourism, manufacturing,
wholesale and retail business.
It is worth remembering the saying: "Governments have no business in
business". The only healthy role for government is to facilitate and nurture
all forms of business, large and small. Once again, the rule of law is
We have all the ingredients to once again regain our position as one of the
strongest economies in Africa. We have a well-educated and hard working
population, though a huge number now reside outside the country. We had in
the past, a flourishing manufacturing sector, and once upon a time we could
not only feed ourselves, but also support our imports through our
agricultural exports. But in order to do this, some bitter pills will have
to be swallowed and some sacred cows will have to be sacrificed.
"Revolutionary rhetoric" has taken us nowhere except straight down. What we
need now are sound plans coupled with rational implementation. Slogans will
not save us!
Somehow the agricultural disaster must be "unwound". This is essential on
two counts; first for economic reasons and second to regain our reputation
as an honest, law-abiding nation. Unless these problems are tackled head-on,
we will not get essential investment ever from anyone.
Of course ,scores of problems have reared their heads over the last 10 or
more years, including multiple exchange rates, rampant corruption, naked
racism and a host of others.
The first step to recovery has to be the restoration of the Rule of Law and
the cleansing of all aspects of the judiciary and police. This underpins
Then, we need to do our utmost to encourage and attract investment from both
Zimbabweans and others.
I am reminded here of an interview I heard many years ago on ZBC with the
Zambian Minister of Industry. The ZBC interviewer seemed incensed that
Zambia was encouraging investment by non-Zambians. To which the Minister
replied, "In Zambia, we do not care about the colour of the cat. All we care
about is whether it catches mice."
Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter
THE government this week began the process of selecting candidates for
appointment to the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board
(NIEEB), following the enactment of the Indigenisation and Economic
Empowerment Act last week.
Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Paul Mangwana said on Tuesday he had
received CVs and recommendations of potential candidates for the
He, however, refused to disclose when the board would be appointed but
indicated work had already started on the selection process.
"We are still looking at the CVs of potential candidates," Mangwana told The
"After identifying the individuals, we will then appoint the board.
"The board will be tasked to appoint a chief executive officer (CEO) and set
up (an empowerment) fund, which they will manage.
"The board will also act as advisors to the minister on matters to do with
indigenisation," he said.
The Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act says the NIEEB shall consist
of the CEO and not less than 11 members and not more than 15 members
appointed by the minister after consultation with the President.
One of the members shall be the secretary in the ministry in which the
minister is responsible while at least one member shall represent any
organisation, which the minister considers to be representative of women.
There will also be representation from the disabled, youths or youths'
organisations, while a legal practitioner and a person with vast knowledge
on indigenisation would also be appointed.
The functions of the NIEEB will include giving advise to the minister on the
government's indigenisation and economic empowerment strategies and to
advise the minister on appropriate measures for the implementation of the
objectives of the Act.
The board will also administer the fund and oversee compliance with the
Charter as well as perform other functions as may be imposed or conferred
upon under the Act or any other enactment.
Mangwana added: "It (Act) is not as bad as people say.
"We want to empower people and come up with share ownership schemes in
companies so that workers become shareholders in the companies they work
"We do not want a few individuals to benefit."
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
AN ambitious plan by the government to venture into bio-diesel production
has begun to bear fruit after the plant produced 100 000 tonnes of fuel.
Central bank Governor Gideon Gono last week reported that a bio-diesel plant
set up as a joint venture with a South Korean firm was now producing up to
25 000 tonnes of diesel per month, which could help ease the country's acute
"The bio-diesel plant now produces as much as 25 000 tonnes of the product
"As much as 100 000 tonnes of diesel are here today, perhaps a small step
forward but a giant forward leap for our economy."
He said the provision of adequate diesel was at the heart of the country's
success in agro reforms.
"The summer cropping programme requires no less than 100 million litres of
"The bio-diesel plant will indeed underpin our agricultural recovery
efforts," Gono said at the handover of farm equipment to new farmers last
Zimbabwe, like most countries in southern Africa, is largely dependent on
imported petroleum products to power its industrial production and transport
The bio-diesel processing plant, the first of its kind in southern Africa,
has a capacity to produce between 90-100 million litres of diesel annually,
making it the largest of its kind in sub-Saharan Africa.
At full capacity, the plant will meet 10 percent of the country's annual
diesel requirements, which translates into foreign currency savings of US$80
Already, new black farmers who seized land under a controversial land reform
exercise in the last eight years have put 10 000 hectares under jatropha
production out of a targeted and ambitious 40 000 hectares, in a desperate
bid to boost the production of bio-diesel.
Zimbabwe, which holds crucial presidential, parliamentary and municipal
elections at the end of the month, is grappling with a fuel crisis, with
most service stations going for months without receiving deliveries of both
petrol and diesel.
Last year a spirit medium fooled some government officials into a wild goose
chase after claiming to have discovered diesel oozing from rocks in
Observers fear the critical shortage of fuel could scupper the
administration of the elections on March 29.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
COGNISANT of the disruptions power outages could cause during voting, the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) is seeking trillions of dollars to buy
generators to be used to power polling stations on election day.
ZEC confirmed it was seeking funding for generators, but could not quantify
the amount or number of units required. "ZEC is mobilising all the resources
necessary, including generators," a Commission official, Utoile Silagwana
said. Although he gave no details, sources said ZEC needs $84 trillion for
the generators to prevent disruption to voting and vote counting.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has been approached to assist with the funding,
a source said. With each voter having to go through four separate ballots,
voting in many areas is expected to continue well into the night.
Although voting must officially end at 7pm, those already in queues at that
time will be allowed to cast their ballots.
Meanwhile, ZEC last week published new regulations on the media's coverage
of elections. The regulations say public broadcasters have an obligation to
schedule interview programmes for all candidates as well as party
presentations of manifestos. The regulations require election programmes to
be transmitted during prime time, and stipulate that four hours should be
set aside for political advertisements. The advertisements must be allocated
equitably and at discounted rates of 70 percent of current tariffs for
The regulations say presenters or television reporters must not express
personal views, wear party regalia or colours, or accept gifts or favours
from political players. In a statutory instrument, Electoral Amendment
Regulations No 3, ZEC has revised the list of persons who must be present in
a polling station when ballot boxes are opened and votes counted.
ZEC says only presiding officers, the election agent of each candidate and
accredited observers would be allowed.
Last week, ZEC admitted bungling its voter education campaign, such as
"factual errors" claiming cardboard ballot boxes would be used as ballot
ZEC said it had realised the mistake and was recalling pamphlets issued to
the public containing the incorrect information.
ZIMBABWE'S hotels are threatened with huge losses after the National Incomes
and Pricing Commission (NIPC) ordered them to charge below market rates for
hotel bookings to government institutions during the March 29 elections.
The NIPC met hoteliers on Tuesday and ordered them to introduce a dual
pricing structure, which would exempt government bodies such as the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC), government departments and local authorities,
from paying the same accommodation charges and other rates as tourists,
business bodies, election observers, journalists and other officials who are
expected to flock into the country to cover the elections.
NIPC chairman Godwills Masimirembwa told The Financial Gazette that the
state-run pricing body had granted ZEC and some government departments this
privilege because they were drawing their resources from a fixed national
budget, already under threat from rampaging inflation, now at 100 582.2
percent year-on-year for December.
"These are vulnerable groups. ZEC has a fixed budget for the election. What
we are simply saying is they (hotels) must charge (for) a return that is
lower than other people who go to hotels for luxury. The charges will not be
sub-economic," Masimirembwa said.
But hoteliers this week warned that implementing a discriminatory cost
structure at a time when they were already grappling with exorbitant costs
and widespread shortages would plunge their businesses into bankruptcy.
"How do we pay salaries, which are reviewed almost every month and other
costs if we are to subsidise government?," said one hotelier, who asked not
to be named.
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority chairman and ZimSun chief executive officer,
Shingi Munyeza, said the tourism players were consulting with the NIPC over
the directive, while the Zimbabwe Council for Tourism president Chipo Mtasa
said she had not yet been briefed by members on the details of the proposed
Last month ZANU-PF forced hotels to provide free accommodation for party
guests who attended the launch of the party's election manifesto.
Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor
DOMESTIC debt has burst through the quadrillion-dollar mark to reach an
all-time high of nearly $1.4 quadrillion, giving an unequivocal indicator of
a worsening economic crisis this year, fuelled by intensifying spending by
the cash-strapped government.
The government is facing increasing expenditure pressures emanating mainly
from escalating inflation, which topped 100 580.2 percent year-on-year for
December 2007, a world record for a country not at war.
The inflation rate is projected to have reached fresh records in the months
of January and February.
The pressure on expenditure appears to have also been stoked by a hugely
expensive election scheduled for the end of this month, which has forced the
government to scramble for cash to placate a restive electorate and civil
Apparently, indications are that the electoral machinery is gobbling huge
sums of money ahead of harmonised elections scheduled for March 29.
Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi allocated $209 trillion for the 2008
elections, saying this would fund personnel costs, vehicle procurement and
other election related costs.
Political scientist, Jonathan Moyo, last week indicated that the election
would be extremely expensive, stretching state resources "to the limit".
"This election is going to be very, very expensive," Moyo told journalists
at a Press club in Harare. If you look at the government budget, you will
realise that we are going to have an election we cannot afford," he said.
Zimbabwe is holding its first harmonised polls - combining presidential,
legislative, senatorial and local government elections.
Fresh salary and wage hikes are expected to further bloat expenditure, which
has greatly suffered from escalating costs of goods and services that have
risen beyond projections.
Statistics on government domestic debt published by the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ), indicate that domestic debt surged from just over $60.8
trillion on February 1 this year to $1.353 quadrillion on February 29, the
biggest jump ever in domestic debt stock in dollar terms since Independence
The debt had stood at $21 trillion at the start of the year.
Of the current government debt stock, $13 trillion is already outstanding, a
sign that the government's default risk is intensifying on the domestic
Treasury Bills (TBs), the most common debt instrument by the government,
account for $210 trillion with an interest charge of $625 trillion.
Advances from the RBZ account for $515 trillion of the total government
The government has entirely depended on domestic sources to finance its
ever-increasing budget deficits, resulting in increased money printing.
Bilateral and multilateral financial institutions terminated balance of
payments support to the country over alleged human rights violations by
President Robert Mugabe's government, accused of rigging the 2002
presidential election to retain power.
Money printing stokes money supply growth that provides an impetus for
Money supply is the generation of new money, in other words, an additional
stock to money already in circulation.
Large-scale money printing propels high inflation, which is the equivalent
of a drastic loss of the purchasing power of money.
Gono last year indicted that money supply growth levels were "too high for
the size of our economy", indicating that he would wage a battle against
excessive money supply growth to stem a worsening economic crisis.
The latest domestic debt figure appears to suggest that increasing demand
for cash by the government might have ruined efforts to control money supply
Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter
A SHORTAGE of Net*One and Telecel recharge cards has intensified, triggering
an unsanctioned hike in prices for the few cards released on the market.
Net*One, which has a 23 percent market share, is the country's second
largest mobile telecommunications firm in terms of subscriber numbers after
Econet Wireless, which has a 61 percent share of the market. Telcel is third
with a 15 percent.
The Financial Gazette can reveal that Net*One and Telecel recharge cards
have disappeared from the market and the few cards that are still available
are fetching more than their face value.
The $1 million recharge card for Net*One, for example, was selling at $5
million this week.
In Harare, Net*One recharge cards had only been available at the firm's head
offices and vendors, who normally sell the bulk of the airtime cards, were
also desperately trying to buy the recharge cards from the designated retail
While no comment could be obtained from Telecel, Net*One managing director
Reward Kangai insisted on Monday that the network had enough recharge cards
in $10 million denominations.
This was despite glaring problems encountered by the network's customers who
were battling to procure the cards from selected outlets in the capital and
from street vendors.
The Financial Gazette on Monday witnessed thousands of subscribers in long
queues to buy the recharge cards at a few outlets.
The highest denomination that was available was for a $1 million recharge
"There are enough recharge cards. We sell our recharge cards to agencies and
they give vendors to sell on the streets," Kangai told The Financial
He insisted they did not promote the selling of cards at unsanctioned
"It is something we do not encourage (inflating prices) but you can come and
purchase at our banking hall the $10 million recharge cards," he said.
An estimated 90 percent of the country's small enterprises rely on mobile
phones to do business, and the continued shortages of the cards has
disrupted their operations.
Elections are supposed to be an expression of the will of the people and
those being held in Zimbabwe at the end of this month must be no exception.
I bet my last worthless million dollars that right now ,the most cherished
wish of the majority of struggling Zimbabweans who are not well positioned
and well connected enough to be swimming in riches is to lead normal lives
again. And in this instance normalcy is referred to in its most basic sense.
It means the hassle-free ability to do the most basic, routine and mundane
things with dignity and freedom. This is impossible in the prevailing
atmosphere and the presidential candidate most capable of turning things
around will surely strike a chord with the electorate.
Even with an inflation rate conservatively estimated at 100 000 percent, 80
percent unemployment and the majority of the people living below the poverty
datum line, the sunny disposition of Zimbabweans means that we sometimes do
our best to forget how grave our situation is and how much political will is
required to put things right. But no matter how optimistic or patriotic one
tries to be, the business of surviving from one day to the next has simply
become too much of a grueling hassle and things can not continue like this
after March 29.
Some time ago I read a magazine article about an American contestant who won
US$1 million in the Survivor reality television show. Asked what he would do
with the windfall, he recited a long list of plans, including buying his
parents a house, buying himself a new car, donating to charitable causes and
investing the rest of the money in stocks. He could not get over the fact he
had made his first million dollars before the age of 30.
The abnormality of the economic situation in Zimbabwe hit me afresh when I
tried to come up with a list of what one could do with a million Zimbabwe
dollars. Buy a single sweet or a small tomato on the street and you have
squandered your fortune! How absurd and tragic. It is comical for everyone
in Zimbabwe to be a millionaire when the money is worthless. During a recent
trip to my rural home, my generous brother-in-law gave everyone at my
parents' home amounts ranging from $10 million to $50 million. The
beneficiaries ranged from a two-year old baby to the infant's great-grand
The next day as my brother-in-law reversed the car for our journey back to
Harare, my sister remarked, "Can you imagine that everyone in this home is a
multi-millionaire." Apart from the sheer economic hardships of struggling to
keep body and soul together and providing basic family needs, there are many
other things wrong with the way we are living. Children accustomed to
handling bundles and bundles of the worthless millions needed to pay for
items like pencils, exercise books, sweets and other snacks are growing up
without appreciating the proper value of money and how hard one must work to
earn it. A million dollars means nothing to youngsters today and yet before
the current crisis it was a rare achievement for an adult to have that kind
of money in the bank.
In the past, parents taught children the value of money by encouraging them
to have piggy banks into which they deposited small coins to save for
particular items or just to have money they could call their own. With the
bearer cheque form of the Zimbabwe dollar now being a coin-less currency, it
is no longer possible to maintain this important tradition. There is no
longer such a thing as small change now.
These days if you give a child $1 million dollars to buy sweets he or she
will laugh in your face and tell you the sum you have offered "does not
buy." A small banana costs $1 million but could a youngster ever understand
that if three zeroes were not lopped off sometime last year, the price of
that healthy fruit would be $1 billion?
Children need to learn these basic facts about their national currency but
even the most enthusiastic parent or teacher must find explaining such
aspects daunting. If the proper price of a banana should be $1 billion, the
question can be asked whether Zimbabwe is not a banana republic.
In the past the honesty and dependability of children was usually measured
by how trustworthy they were in handling money when sent to the shops or on
other errands. The child was supposed to bring back the correct change
which, if it was in coins, he was likely to be allowed to keep for his or
her piggy bank. But these days handling money is a recipe for dishonesty and
cheating, not necessarily just on the part of children.
This is because paying for goods and services is no longer an exact science.
Customers regularly have to surrender various sums at supermarket tills when
the attendants claim to have no change in the denomination that must be
handed back to the customer. I recently quarreled with an assistant in a
supermarket in Harare when she nonchalantly handed me a receipt without my
$8 000 change. When I asked, she was patronisingly sarcastic about the fact
that I was making a fuss about such a small amount of money .
However, I told her I was insisting on getting my change on principle.
Pointing out that if $8 000 was nothing to a customer, the shop should not
mind handing over $10 000 change and losing only $2 000. Moreover, I pointed
out, the shop must be making a killing out of cash-strapped customers by
holding back various sums in change due to customers. In the past, if you
were a child and went back home after an errant without the correct change,
you were in serious trouble. But in a situation where prices can change by
the hour and change can be withheld, how can the truth be ascertained?
If a country no longer functions in the most basic of ways so as to enable
the people to do everyday things without a hassle, a complete overhaul is
called for. Zimbabweans must scrutinise the presidential candidates
contesting the looming elections and decide which one is most likely to get
things working normally again. That candidate is the only one who deserves
to win. The polls would be meaningless if nothing changed after March 29 and
the masses were required to continue tightening their belts.
THE signing into law of the controversial Empowerment and Indigenisation
Bill, notwithstanding the chorus of disapproval echoed countrywide and
beyond Zimbabwe's borders, has confirmed our worst fears: that government
has not learnt anything from past botched economic experiments that have
escalated the collapse of the country's economy.
There had been a modicum of hope that President Robert Mugabe had understood
the issues causing apprehension in the investment community and had had a
change of heart after delays in assenting to the Bill. It had been reasoned
that, like the controversial NGO Bill, which passed through parliament but
never received his assent, the empowerment bill would suffer a similar fate.
But President Mugabe last week gave the Empowerment law wings to fly after
appending his signature on the Bill, opening yet another page of the ruinous
economic policies that have turned what was once the continent's most
promising economy into a basket case.
The Act states that indigenous people, essentially blacks, shall own 51
percent of the shares of every public company, banks and mines included. No
merger or de-merger would be approved unless the transactions comply with
the indigenisation threshold.
At 51 percent, it means whoever acquires the controlling stake calls the
shots. Not a bad idea.
But is government sincere? Why now and why the hurry?
Could it be an election gimmick to sweeten its campaign tune, which had
become monotonous after being played over and over again?
We ask these questions because a decade ago resource group Anglo American
Corporation invited local partners to take up 20 percent stake in Unki
Platinum Mine. To this day, there have been no takers due to lack of
Three years ago, Zimplats also set aside a 15 percent stake for indigenous
partners but its offer drew blanks. In fact, spanners were thrown into the
works to derail Needgate's bid in favour of a rainbow-like consortium that
could not convert its political clout into equity.
Then there were long drawn plans to turn loss-making public enterprises into
family jewels such as CBZ, Dairibord, RTG and Cottco, whose fairy tale
successes helped government achieve the twin objective of empowering black
management while releasing revenue into the fiscus.
Regrettably, privatisation has been on the backburner for over a decade now,
tangled in red tape and inertia in the civil service.
If government could not walk the talk on Unki and Zimplats, wherefrom is it
drawing the guts to suddenly think it can now indigenise the economy at the
grand scale mooted in the corridors of power?
Not that we are against economic empowerment or that we have become willing
tools to do the bidding of big business. No.
Indigenisation is one of the unresolved issues left to linger on for far too
long. It is an embarrassment that Zimbabwe is still harping on about black
economic empowerment nearly three decades after gaining independence.
The few post-independence opportunities have only benefited a few and the
rest of the majority blacks - 80 percent of the population - are still
wallowing in poverty.
We can only hope there are no ulterior motives behind this newly found zeal
to indigenise the economy in view of the fact that government's paranoia
about the political influence of foreign-owned companies is well documented.
The powers-that-be have for long held the view that foreign-owned companies
are working in cahoots with the opposition to wrest power from its
And because of these fears, government has lurched from one pre-emptive
strike to the other. The emotive land seizures spearheaded by the war
veterans in 2000 immediately comes to mind, but these reforms decimated
agriculture and hastened the collapse of the economy.
Operation Murambatsvina, which left over 700,000 families homeless, is
another example. And most recently companies accused of unjustifiably hiking
prices to foment public anger against President Mugabe's administration,
were forced to slash prices by half.
We have said it before and will say it again: dishing out shares of
collapsing businesses like confetti, to an equally struggling indigenous
populace, is no empowerment by any stretch of imagination.
Companies are on the verge of collapse and government has not dealt with the
causes of the private sector woes.
This form of empowerment might further impoverish the intended beneficiaries
unless if it is done gradually and supported by adequate funding and
The national economic cake is shrinking at an alarming pace due to lack of
foreign direct investment, foreign currency shortages, the dearth in balance
of payments support, a free-falling exchange rate, declining demand and the
high costs of production.
Hasty indigenisation strategies might unnerve foreign investors, who have
been sitting on the fence and might stiffen the hand of existing foreign
investors who may find it futile to inject fresh capital or expand
operations in institutions where they have no say.
Foreign cash, which has been trickling into the country by way of lines of
credit facilities, might also dry up, nudging the nine-year-long recession
into a full-blown economic crisis.
Capital, by nature, is timid and tends to rush for the exits at the
slightest whiff of bad news. The lack of clarity on this new Act and the
behind the scenes manoeuvres of political bigwigs known for reaping where
they did not sow, are least reassuring.
Populist policies are inflationary. What is extremely saddening about
Zimbabwe's seemingly untenable situation is that the powers-that-be are
determined to continue blowing up the inflation balloon and hoist themselves
high up in order to take aim at an imaginary enemy.
We sincerely hope that the bubble does not burst. Perish the thought!
Each one takes 10
EDITOR - Whatever people do and think about Simba Makoni, he has the backing
of us ordinary Zimbabweans. Our campaign strategy is simple: We will make
sure each one of us takes 10 relatives and friends to the polls and the 10
take 10 and 10 take 10.
He is a liberator and, yes, he is the only cabinet minister who never
grabbed a piece of land. Winning or not, he is the anointed one to lead
Handei nyati mhenyu. Do you think with the torture that happened anyone in
ZANU-PF will admit they are behind Simba. They are big in age and very young
I urge Zimbabweans not to think twice as we have a messiah in Simba.
Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org and register your 10 friends and
relatives. The in thing is to be independent and enjoy the independence.
Who wants to be saluted nemhondi dzapedza kutorture vanhu.
Zimondi's words futile
EDITOR - What is the point of having an election when men like Retired
Major-General Paradzayi Zimondi, who is supposed to be apolitical, coerce
those under them to vote for ZANU-PF?
This country, which is now called Zimbabwe, is a European construct. It is
the Europeans who set out the borders in 1889 in Switzerland.
Before that, people were just drifting from one place to the other. There
was no recognised authority before the colonialists came. If the Portuguese
had not occupied Mozambique before the British then perhaps Southern
Rhodesia would have included Mozambique as Eastern Rhodesia. Or if the
Portuguese wanted, they could have made Southern Rhodesia part of
We should all thank the colonialists (British) for setting out the borders.
General Walls refused to salute (President) Mugabe. Where is he now? The
same will happen to Paradzayi Zimondi.
All the inhabitants of this former British colony have an inalienable right
to choose who rules over them. This is not to be done on their behalf by the
likes of Zimondi.
Blind faith is what Zimondi is showing here. He and his friends can support
(President) Mugabe as much as they like but he must leave us to choose who
rules over us.
I don't think Zimondi got his job as a soldier on merit. He serendipitously
got into this position by virtue of either being a school dropout or he was
a fugitive from justice or both when he strayed into Mozambique. This was
not by design but by accident so he should not brag about his position.
The fact that General Walls refused to work under (President) Mugabe did not
stop (President) Mugabe being President and by the same token Zimondi's
scrappiness will not stop Tsvangirai being President.
What Zimondi has done is outright intimidation or gangsterism and he should
be arrested for this offence but then this is a corrupt regime. Instead, he
will be promoted. Saka (President) Mugabe vachitaura semunhu akatsika pfuti.
It is quite obvious who runs the show in Zimbabwe - the army.
Zimondi doesn't even understand what an election is all about; he needs to
be educated on the do's and don'ts of elections.
And you expect a free and fair election in such an environment.
Face it Madhuku, time's up for Tsvangirai
EDITOR - Lovemore Madhuku is entitled to express an opinion as he did last
week, but fortunately it remains what it is - an opinion.
Has it ever occurred to him that for (President) Mugabe to be what he is
today, it was because he took an opportunity and made the best out of it.
When a chance does arise one should make the best out of it and shine.
Tsvangirai got the opportunity in 2002, but failed to make the best out of
it, and lost by over 420 000 votes.
(Simba) Makoni if you are clever, as the people think you are, a scenario
you should take advantage of comprises the following elements: (a) food
shortages (b) unemployment (c) mass exodus of potentially good manpower that
could be used to improve economic performance (d) internal fissures within
ZANU-PF and confusion over who is backing who (e) a tired society that is
waiting for anyone to vote for as long as they can stand for the peoples'
So if I were you (Makoni), I would go for it and leave Madhuku to theorise
about the right constitution and all that.
If you stand for what is right you never know who is behind you.
Rich states didn't get there by waving fists
EDITOR - Any ruling elite that has passed its sell-by date in countries such
as Finland and Japan, which are relatively poor in natural resources or any
"soil" to call their own, could not boost sagging fortunes at the polls by
waving fists at "exploitative" foreigners. Yet those countries have some of
the highest incomes per capita in the world.
Then, countries such as Zimbabwe and Venezuela are so fixated about who
exploits their treasure-trove of natural resources, yet demonstrate least
success in spreading wealth down to the common man.
Why don't we just enable, rather than frustrate, those who are willing and
able to add value? Wealth for Zimbabweans would come less from who "owns"
the productive process, than in getting as many of our people as possible
back into sharing a slice of the "employment" action.
Strip away the jargon from published financial statements, and you may just
find one of the more interesting facts. That is how small a percentage of
the value added by most businesses goes as net dividend to the owners,
compared with the bulk that goes to employees as net remuneration, other
businesses as suppliers, and to government as tax on profit, dividends,
interest, PAYE, VAT and others.
You can be sure there is no Japanese or Finnish minister putting a cap on
the prices their entrepreneurs can charge. The marketplace takes care of
that, and is far too vibrant and dynamic a place for armies of bureaucrats
to wrap their brains around.
It's the old adage, that the fist that closes tightest is the one that kills
the bird. Command economists, even those with the best intentions, tend to
bequeath poverty to today's generation, and a desert to the next.
-- Rigging has started
EDITOR - All police officers have been asked to submit their voting details.
Not bad because they will be deployed out of their wards. The catch is that
everyone would be forced, one way or the other, to vote for a particular
candidate. You know who?
How can you vote when there are ex-combatant officers seeing where you are
putting your vote? That is rigging if you ask me. Last time some envelopes
were opened and officers were victimised when it was seen that they had
voted for the opposition.
Please highlight this issue in your widely read newspaper so that our votes
can count. Imagine all 30 000 police votes being stolen. That can steal a
whole election in someone's favour. The time is now.
Tsvangirai should not step aside for anyone
EDITOR - I refer to your comment in your February 21 issue of The Financial
Gazette under the heading, "It's not about Tsvangirai." Well, your comment
encourages unity of opposition and civic society against the ruling party on
March 29 2008 and you propose that the MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai should
step aside for Simba Makoni. It was unfair on the person of Morgan
Tsvangirai and his top leadership.
My understanding is that the decision not to join forces with the Mutambara
faction was recommended by a negotiating team and thus it was not an
individual decision by Tsvangirai.
I totally agree with your recommendation that it will be good for Tsvangirai
to embrace all progressive forces that include the youth, intellectuals and
the business community. The break up of the MDC in October 2005 was a very
unfortunate development in the history of the opposition and Tsvangirai as
the leader should shoulder most of the blame for the break up.
ZAPU split after its banishment by the Rhodesian government in 1963 and
hence the formation of ZANU. In 1989 Edgar Tekere, then secretary-general
for ZANU PF, was fired from the party after opposing the one party state,
leading to the formation of the Zimbabwe Unity Movement (ZUM).
But, Mr Editor, for how long should we cry over spilt milk- the good old
days of the MDC? The writer still has the highest regard for Tsvangirai's
former comrades in arms, the likes of Gibson Sibanda, Welshman Ncube and
Paul Themba Nyathi, as he worked with them during their trade union and NCA
days. I also have no problems with Professor Arthur Mutambara opting not to
stand as a presidential candidate and opting to contest Zengeza constituency
and his support for Dr Simba Makoni for the presidency.
Your comment on Tsvangirai needs repeating "by refusing to embrace other
progressive forces, Tsvangirai is no different from a captain of a losing
team who protests at the entry of a super substitute for fear that the fresh
pair of legs might steal the show."
Your analogy is misplaced, suppose Dynamos FC is playing against its arch
rival Highlanders FC at Rufaro stadium and at half time the scoreline reads
Dynamos 0 - 1 Highlanders. For some strange reason, some spectators (Fingaz
Editor included) shout and ask the Dynamos captain Murape Murape to make way
for Zephania Ngodzo the Highlanders star who is on their bench. Surely this
does not make sense.
What stops Zephania Ngodzo from scoring an own goal, and thus help
Highlanders to increase its tally. The norm, in football, is for the Dynamos
team to use one of the substitutes on its bench. Simba Makoni should be a
super substitute for ZANU PF and not for the MDC Tsvangirai. Simba Makoni
has publicly confirmed that he is an 'independent' presidential candidate
and is not a member of the MDC.