Saturday, 14 March 2009 15:11
THE inclusive government, looking for US$2 billion from the region and
at least US$5 billion for economic recovery, desperately needs US$1 billion
over and above its fiscal budgetary requirements to meet an array of
emergency financial obligations.
Failure to secure the US$1 billion could cripple the operations of the
new government that has raised public expectations on economic recovery and
delivery of services, making its first 100 days a barren stretch.
Sadc finance ministers and African Development Bank officials met
recently in Cape Town to work out a US$2 billion rescue package, but that is
unlikely to come immediately. Sadc leaders need to meet first to approve the
A confidential internal government memo circulated to selected
ministries says US$1 billion is needed now to meet emergency obligations
which include critical payments for fuel, electricity, water, grain, seed,
fertiliser, lines of credit, diplomatic missions, parastatals, currency
printing equipment, the Registrar-General's office, presidential
scholarships, security ministries, loans and debts.
The memo says as of last month, Zimbabwe owed Equatorial Guinea US$222
million for fuel, Noczim US$26,5 million, Noczim-pipeline US$4 million,
lines of credit US$195,4 million, GMB US$106,05 million, corporate loans
US$240,74 million, diplomatic missions US$30 million, fertilisers US$35,6
million, army/intelligence/police US$20 million, Air Zimbabwe US$10 million,
Zinwa US$5 million, China US$5 million, the Registrar-General US$5 million,
presidential scholarships US$4 million, Zesa US$40 million, seed US$12
million and currency printing US$100 million.
"This amounts to US$1,061,29 billion. Government needs to swiftly
raise this money to keep running," the memo says. "Failure to pay some of
these obligations urgently would further weaken the country's credit rating
in regional and international markets."
The memo says government is facing a serious financial crisis and
would need to move with speed to raise funds to save the situation. The
crisis is aggravated by a total stock of external debt of over US$5 billion.
"The Ministry of Finance must swiftly put together a framework for
sustainable external debt management," the memo says. "Government has been
frustrated by the attitude of multilateral financial institutions and the
The need for emergency funding has created headaches for the new
government which has no reliable source of revenue. Western nations have
said no financial aid would be coming soon. The situation is further
worsened by the global economic crisis gripping developed countries.
Only Australia, which does not belong to the G8, has promised US$10
million in aid over and above the humanitarian assistance to deal with
water, sanitation and health services. However, US$10 million is a drop in
the ocean given the needs.
With the International Monetary Fund, whose assessment team is
currently in the country, indicating that no balance of payments support
would be provided any time soon, Zimbabwe's bid to raise US$1 billion right
away could be a nightmare.
To make the situation worse, government can no longer print money to
meet its local obligations as the new Finance minister Tendai Biti is
opposed to quasi-fiscal activities. The government used to meet its urgent
financial obligations through printing money.
Now government will refrain from borrowing from the central bank
either via direct overdrafts or through primary issuance of debt instruments
to the Reserve Bank by the Treasury.
"Swift measures need to be taken to capacitate Zimra to raise fiscal
revenues," the memo says. "Without this, we estimate that the expected
target of achieving revenues that are 30% of GDP could turn out to be as low
as 15-20% of GDP at best, which eventually would cripple operations of the
government and the economy as a whole."
BY DUMISANI MULEYA
Saturday, 14 March 2009 15:11
SECURITY service chiefs were this week conspicuous by their absence at
the funeral of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's wife, Susan, heightening
fears that they remain opposed to the premier and the inclusive government.
The absence of army, airforce, police or prisons bosses from the
funeral attended by President Robert Mugabe, ministers, senior government
officials, and diplomats, would intensify fears that the Joint Operations
Command (JOC) - which had been running the country's affairs from behind the
scenes - was opposed to the unity deal and could become a stumbling block to
JOC comprises Mugabe diehards from the army, intelligence, prisons and
police who are reportedly opposed to Tsvangirai. Susan's death touched the
hearts of many but service chiefs appeared unmoved. She died in a car crash
last Friday along the Harare-Masvingo highway. Tsvangirai sustained
Susan was buried on Wednesday at her husband's rural home in Buhera.
Analysts said although Defence Forces commander Constantine Chiwenga,
Air Force chief Perrence Shiri, Police Commissioner-General Augustine
Chihuri and Prisons Commissioner Paradzai Zimondi were not obliged to visit
the grieving family, they were expected to attend the funeral of the prime
minister's wife out of courtesy as senior officers.
Only Happyton Bonyongwe, the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)
boss, attended. He was seen running around at the Avenues Clinic last Friday
after the accident.
Bonyongwe came with Mugabe and his wife Grace, Vice-President Joice
Mujuru and central bank governor Gideon Gono, among government officials who
came to see the prime minister at the clinic.
On Tuesday Mugabe, Vice-Presidents Mujuru and Joseph Msika, Defence
minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, co-Home Affairs ministers Kembo Mohadi and
Giles Mutsekwa, Education minister David Coltart and others attended a
church service in honour of Susan at Mabelreign Methodist Church in the
"What is puzzling is that most people who matter in government were at
the funeral except the service chiefs," a source said.
"It is clear that they are maintaining their position that they have
nothing to do with Tsvangirai."
Chiwenga, Shiri, Chihuri and Zimondi reportedly indicated before last
March's harmonised elections that they would not salute Tsvangirai if he won
the presidential election against Mugabe.
Recent media reports said Chiwenga told his subordinates that he had
difficulty in saluting the Tsvangirai, but would not victimise those within
the force if they did.
The generals were reportedly behind Zanu PF's "military and war-like"
presidential run-off election campaign which the MDC-T said resulted in the
deaths of about 200 of its supporters, over 10 000 injured and thousands
Tsvangirai withdrew from the run-off and Mugabe's victory was not
recognised in the region and internationally, prompting Sadc and the African
to facilitate talks for a unity government.
Besides Bonyongwe, the service chiefs also did not attend the swearing
in of Tsvangirai as prime minister by Mugabe on February 11.
Despite the service chiefs avoiding Tsvangirai, they would come
face-to-face in the National Security Council (NSC) - a successor body to
the Joint Operations Command that deals with national security matters.
The NSC is chaired by Mugabe and Tsvangirai is a member.
Tsvangirai has since said there was need for security forces reforms
to transform them into professional state apparatus.
Efforts to get a comment from Defence Forces spokesperson Colonel Ben
Ncube last night were in vain.
BY CONSTANTINE CHIMAKURE
Saturday, 14 March 2009 14:37
THE Commercial Farmers Union has accused the Attorney-General's office
of ordering courts to convict white farmers for allegedly violating
government eviction notices amid reports of more farming disruptions across
Several farmers granted permission to stay on their land by the Sadc
Tribunal are facing prosecution and have reportedly clashed with senior
government officials and Zanu PF supporters seeking to evict them.
The evictions and prosecutions have reportedly heightened following
President Robert Mugabe's birthday remarks where he vowed to continue with
Government through Lands and Resettlement minister Herbert Murerwa a
fortnight ago denied reports of fresh farm evictions and disruption of
Commercial farmers in Mashonaland, according to a CFU Farm Disruptions
Report, have been targeted for "fast-track" trials.
Mike Campbell, the chief applicant in the successful Sadc Tribunal
ruling, is cited in the report which alleges that a Chegutu prosecutor has a
list of summons of farmers to be arraigned before the courts for allegedly
violating the Gazetted Land (Consequential Provisions) Act.
Other Chegutu farmers, John Eastwood, JM Beattie, Campher Pasquel,
Billy Nicholson, Danie Swart, Bart Wilde, Simon Keevil, Mike Nicholson, and
Kevin du Bois have since been summoned to court to face similar charges.
Farmers in Mashonaland East, Midlands and Manicaland, the report
added, could also face the same fate.
Dick Visagie of Wantage farm, Bruce Rodgers of Chigwell farm and Wayne
Seaman of Chegutu, all interveners in the Namibia Tribunal case, have also
been listed for eviction.
"There is no let up on the prosecution of farmers for alleged illegal
occupation of their farms," the CFU report says.
"Most of the present farmers still on the land have some form of
permission. However, a recent document issued to all magistrates by the
Attorney-General Johannes Tomana suggests that all farmers should be
summarily found guilty and evicted if they are not in possession of an offer
letter or permit and a land settlement lease."
Most farmers, the CFU claimed, have not been granted the relevant
documents despite applying for them.
"However, the powers that be at local (and in some cases provincial)
level are totally against and do not support the present prosecutions and
evictions, saying that the orders have come from 'the top'," the report
Many farmers, the CFU claimed, have also "abandoned their homes and
gone into hiding until the matter can be resolved at a political level".
"The fast track trials have continued and reports emanating from Gweru
and Kwekwe state that the presiding magistrates are not taking their
customary notes for recording purposes during the trials," the CFU said.
The union also alleged that Reserve Bank deputy governor Edward
Mashiringwani and the police earlier this month barred farm workers at
Friedawill Farm in Karoi from feeding pigs at the property.
The swine, according to Louis Fick, who was evicted by Mashiringwani,
have since been fed after the intervention of the SPCA.
Fick is one of the 77 farmers who took government to the Sadc
Police reportedly responded to the "inhumane situation" at the farm by
accusing Fick's labourers of stealing stock feeds in order to feed their own
The CFU also claimed that the President of the Senate, Edna Madzongwe,
earlier this month pursued her prolonged ownership wrangle with
Chegutu-based farmer Peter Etheridge when she ordered him to vacate
Stockdale citrus farm.
The union alleged that Madzongwe, accompanied by her supporters,
ordered Etheridge to round up farming operations and vacate the farm.
Last year Etheridge suffered a major setback when he lost US$600
million worth of property as a result of the farm ownership wrangle.
Another Chegutu-based farmer, Catherine Meredith, claimed in the
report that eviction attempts at her farm had intensified since the
beginning of the month.
Meredith claimed: "The intruders have gone up a notch in their
aggressive behaviour as they are surrounding our African boss-man, Joseph
Zulu, who is stuck in his house.
"They are not allowing him to leave his house and, should he leave his
home, they said they would immediately take occupation of his house."
Mugabe, speaking at his 85th birthday celebrations in Chinhoyi a
fortnight ago, said the dispute over land in Zimbabwe could not be
determined by the Sadc Tribunal based in Namibia because the country has
competent courts to adjudicate on the rights of the people.
He ordered that white farmers whose farms had been legally acquired by
government should vacate the farms instead of seeking interdiction from the
Mugabe described the move by some white farmers to take the matter to
the Tribunal as "nonsensical".
He said: "Again I want to say, the farmers who owned these farms which
now have been designated and offered to new owners, must respect that law.
They must vacate those farms, they must vacate those farms, and they must
vacate those farms.
"Some farmers went to the Sadc Tribunal in Namibia, but that's
nonsense, absolute nonsense, no one will follow that. We have courts here in
this country that can determine the rights of people. Our land issues are
not subject to the Sadc Tribunal."
High Court judge Mary-Anne Gowora last week nullified the Sadc
Tribunal's decision to either compensate the commercial farmers or allow
them to continue with the farming activities.
Efforts to get a comment from Murerwa and Tomana yesterday were in
BY BERNARD MPOFU
Saturday, 14 March 2009 14:28
FORMER Zanu PF MP David Butau, facing fraud charges linked to the
Reserve Bank's farm mechanisation programme, has been stripped of his
chairmanship and directorship in Dande Capital Holdings, a company in which
he is the majority shareholder.
High Court judge Justice Lavender Makoni recently granted an
application by the company's chief executive officer, Danisa Mhlanga, and
Butau's co-shareholders - Evison Musanjeya, Wilfred Hlanguyo and Decent
Chitsungo - for the removal of the former legislator from Dande Capital
Holdings' board of directors.
Makoni also barred Butau's brother, Grey, from interfering in the
running of the company.
In the default judgement, Makoni ruled: "1st Respondent (Butau)
forfeited his directorship in Dande Capital Holdings by being absent at the
board of directors meeting for a period in excess of six months without
The judge also ruled that Mhlanga, Musanjeya, Hlanguyo and Chitsungo
were the legitimate directors of the company.
"The 2nd (Mhlanga), 3rd (Musanjeya), 4th (Hlanguyo) and 5th
(Chitsungo) applicants herein are the lawful directors of Dande Capital
Holdings and as such have the exclusive mandate to conduct the company's
affairs," read Makoni's judgement.
The company was incorporated in 2000 and re-registered in 2002. Its
core business is to offer financial advisory services to local, regional and
The company has seven subsidiaries - El'e Resources (Pvt) Ltd,
Cynthesis Agriculture Pvt) Ltd, Cythensis Cotton (Pvt) Ltd, Tsakare Chickens
(Pvt) Ltd, Timbsbury Timbers (Pvt) Ltd, Heldnet Enterprises (Pvt) Ltd and
Telequip (Pvt) Ltd.
Sources close to Butau told the Zimbabwe Independent that the former
Guruve North lawmaker returned home last week to fight for the chairmanship
and directorship of the company and the criminal charges against him.
Butau fled Zimbabwe in December 2007 when police said they intended to
question him in connection with dealings in foreign currency on the black
He flew to Britain on a six-month tourist visa before later moving to
Pretoria, where he was holed up until March 6 this year.
Butau returned home after arrangements with the Attorney-General's
office that facilitated travel documents for him after he lost his passport
in South Africa.
The state alleges that on October 19 2007, Butau asked a Joseph
Manjoro to deposit $562,5 billion into his company, Nyamasoka Farming's CBZ
account after having agreed that he would source US$450 000 using a parallel
market rate of US$1 to $1 250 000 to purchase tractors from Michigan
Tractors of South Africa on behalf of the government.
"After receiving the money, and during the period extending from
October 25 to December 19 2007, the accused sourced foreign currency from
the parallel market, which foreign currency was never remitted to Joseph
Manjoro," read the state outline.
"When he did so, the accused knew very well that he had no exchange
control authority to deal in foreign currency thereby contravening the said
(Foreign Exchange Control) Act."
The state alleges that after receiving the $562,5 billion and changing
it on the parallel market, Butau gave Manjoro a copy of a telegraphic
transfer dated October 23 2007 purporting that he had transferred US$450 000
to the credit of Michigan for the purchase of equipment meant for the Farm
Verifications made by Manjoro with Michigan proved that no funds were
deposited by the accused and when asked to clarify the issue, Butau
allegedly asked Manjoro to hand him back the copy of the telegraphic
He then gave Manjoro a copy of cheque number 100146 for 215 000
British pounds drawn upon his HSBC account number 82435063 domiciled at
Channel Islands, United Kingdom, to the credit of Michigan South Africa.
The accused caused the cheque to be deposited into Michigan tractors
held by Standard Bank of South Africa.
However, the cheque was returned by HSBC Bank late in November 2007
unpaid with the reason "refer to drawer".
The state alleged that Butau issued the cheque even though he knew he
had insufficient funds in his account.
As a result of this misrepresentation, the state alleged, government
suffered a prejudice of $562 billion and nothing was recovered.
Last week, a Harare magistrate dismissed Butau's bail application on
the basis that he may abscond.
His lawyer Charles Chinyama has since appealed to the High Court
against the lower court's decision.
BY LUCIA MAKAMURE
Saturday, 14 March 2009 13:31
THE revived PF Zapu has deferred its national congress to elect the
party's substantive leadership from next month to May after encountering
Effort Nkomo, the party's spokesperson, told the Zimbabwe Independent
that the national executive met a fortnight ago and resolved to move the
congress to May.
"The congress will be held at the beginning of May," Nkomo said. "We
postponed it to sort out logistical issues. We want more people to attend
given that this will be our first congress in 22 years."
Former PF Zapu, then led by the late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo,
united with Zanu PF in December 1987. The unity accord, according to
analysts, resulted in the swallowing of PF Zapu by Zanu PF.
Last year, disgruntled former PF Zapu leaders said they had revived
the party and selected former Home Affairs minister Dumiso Dabengwa as
Dabengwa is tipped to be elected the president of the party at the
The revival of the party has caused rifts within Zanu PF and has seen
almost the entire Bulawayo provincial executive quitting the party to join
Nkomo said the congress would conduct elections for national
"There are no indications yet on who will contest which position, but
that will be clear when the national executive meets at the end of the month
to make final touches to the preparations of the congress," Nkomo said.
Former PF Zapu stalwarts pulled out of the Unity Accord with Zanu PF
last December saying the President Robert Mugabe-led party had failed to
honour its part of the deal. They accused Zanu PF of underdeveloping the
Matabeleland region. - Staff Writer.
Saturday, 14 March 2009 13:31
A MAN who allegedly instigated raids at Kudu Creek Camp in Ruwa that
resulted in the arrest of three commercial farmers on allegations of
recruiting and training bandits to topple President Robert Mugabe has been
nabbed for swindling government of farming implements valued at US$35 100.
Joseph Banda has since appeared in court on charges of conniving with
the Reserve Bank head of agricultural mechanisation and small-to-medium
enterprises support division Mordecai Masakwa to steal a motor cycle, four
generators, 15 knapsacks, a seed drill and five chains. Masakwa is still at
Banda is also facing allegations of impersonating a police officer by
claiming to be a senior assistant commissioner in the Zimbabwe Republic
Police, a security officer with the RBZ and a war veteran.
The state alleges that Banda and Masakwa between January 20 and
February 20 went to Bak Storage in Harare and misrepresented that they had
authority from central bank governor Gideon Gono to acquire the farm
In January, Banda was alleged to have been the mastermind behind the
raids at Kudu Creek - a Boy Scout camp - which resulted in the arrest of
three commercial farmers, John Naested (57), Bryan Baxter (67) and Angus
The three farmers were raided at around 2am on January 3 in a predawn
swoop by about 370 policemen, CIO and army personnel, which included two
helicopters and civilian vehicles".
The state alleged that it had found various firearms in the possession
of Naested and Baxter and that the three were recruiting MDC-T youths to
undergo military training with the intention of committing acts of terrorism
in the country.
Naested, Baxter and Thompson were last week set free by a Harare
magistrate who said there was no reasonable suspicion that the trio
committed an offence.
In a High Court bail application soon after the farmers were arrested,
Baxter alleged that Banda was the leader of the raid at the camp, which was
the fifth such in four years.
He said Banda had threatened him and ordered his family to vacate the
farm so that he could take it over.
Baxter said on two occasions in 2008, Banda went to his house with a
copy of a Government Gazette and an offer letter and asked him to vacate as
he had been offered the plot and that the CIO wanted to use the house as its
The farmer had to ask for assistance from governor Aeneas Chigwedere
who advised him that the offer letter was false.
Since then, it was alleged, Banda employed violent means to take over
Baxter's plot, but failed.
The state had alleged that between February 2003 and January 2009 at
Plot 16A, Gardener Road, Acturus, Goromonzi, Plot 13A and remainder of Lot 1
the farmers had "recruited and assisted or encouraged some MDC-T youths to
undergo training with the intention of committing acts of insurgency,
banditry, sabotage or terrorism in Zimbabwe".
However, defence lawyers said the weapons were not for military use,
but sporting firearms and argued that the state could not explain when the
alleged terrorists and bandits had been trained.
The state alleged that Baxter was responsible for transporting
recruits from his farm where they were staying to Naested's residence for
However, their lawyers said there were no boarding facilities at
"In fact it would have made more sense if the state had alleged that
the recruits were sheltered at the 1st applicant's (Naested's) residence
because that is the place where there are boarding facilities and guest
houses for school children who would have gone out for camping," the lawyers
The applicants handed over to the police videos of activities that
take place at the Naested plot as well as indemnity forms signed by parents
of children from St John's High, Sharon School, Bishopslea, Aril in Ruwa,
Lilford in Nyabira, Lomagundi College, and Chisipite and Convent schools.
Some of the courses taken include leadership for 10 to 18-year-olds,
rope courses, rock and mountain climbing, building courses, canoeing and
BY WONGAI ZHANGAZHA
Saturday, 14 March 2009 12:59
THE two MDC formations are pushing the inclusive government to either
withdraw or revise the 2009 National Budget tabled in parliament in January
by then acting Finance minister Patrick Chinamasa.
The Finance Bill and Estimates of Expenditure for the year has not
been passed by parliament.
Sources in the MDC formations said the parties wanted a new budget to
be presented by the Finance minister, Tendai Biti.
The 2009 budget is the top priority item on parliament's order paper
to be debated in the coming weeks.
A source within the MDC faction said his party would not support the
passage of the budget in parliament as they felt that it was "anti-people
"The budget presented by Chinamasa is unrealistic and it will be
revised," the source said. "The majority of provisions in the budget do not
take into account the prevailing situation on the ground, so we will not
support the budget in parliament."
The revised Finance Bill and Estimates of Expenditure would need to
cater for the additional ministries which came on board after the formation
of the inclusive government on February 13.
Edwin Mushoriwa, the MDC spokesperson, said the party wanted both the
budget and the monetary policy reviewed.
"What is clear is that the budget and the monetary policy were done
prior to the coming in of the new government and as a result there are a
number of things that need to be reviewed," Mushoriwa said.
He added that there was need for the new cabinet to critically assess
BY LOUGHTY DUBE
Saturday, 14 March 2009 12:54
ZIMBABWE might not meet its grain and cereal production targets this
season due to late land preparations and a shortage of inputs, agricultural
experts said this week.
Maize and wheat production is expected to fall from last year's levels
while there will be a marked improvement in small grains yield.
The experts said Zimbabwe should put contingency measures in place to
import food from its regional producers.
The cropping season, the experts said, was headed for an all-time low
in productivity in grain and cereals despite numerous agro-based
interventions to boost the sector.
Shortages of seed, fertilisers, fuel and herbicides that characterised
the 2008/9 cropping season could lead to a decline in agricultural output
despite relatively favourable rainfall.
The shortages have been a major characteristic of the agricultural
sector in the past two years owing to price controls that paralysed the
manufacturing sector and some retailers.
Experts have predicted low production of the staple maize which will
put a severe strain on the fiscus due to grain imports. Official projections
are yet to be released.
Projections made by the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU), an
organisation that represents mainly white commercial farmers, show a
downward trend in grain and cereal production.
Maize, according to the CFU, will drop to 397 000 tonnes this season
from 417 000 tonnes last year. This figure represents a fraction of the
estimated two million metric tonnes required annually for national
consumption and an estimated 70% decline in productivity since the
agrarian "reforms" began in 2000.
Zimbabwe is also likely to continue importing wheat from the region
due to an anticipated cereal output of 18 000 tonnes compared to 314 000
tonnes recorded in 2001.
The CFU however projected that small grain output for crops such as
sorghum could jump to over 113 000 tonnes on the back of government's appeal
to farmers to grow drought-resistant crops.
Production of the foreign currency earning flue-cured tobacco, the CFU
projected, will drop to 39,7 tonnes from 48,7 tonnes produced last season.
Experts have attributed the diminishing productivity of maize to poor
policies, shortages of inputs and the eviction of white commercial farmers.
The Zimbabwe Farmers Union (ZFU) predicts a slight surge in small grain
production compared to the previous season.
ZFU president Silas Hungwe recently told the Zimbabwe Independent that
farmers would have a better yield although he could not give figures.
Chairman of the National Resource Mobilisation and Implementation
Committee logistics sub-committee, Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba,
this week told the Independent that shortages of inputs could reduce the
Nyikayaramba is tasked with spearheading the "Champion Farmer"
exercise which targeted 500 000 hectares of land for the production of 2,5
million tonnes of maize.
Government, according to Nyikayaramba, procured 94 000 litres of
paraquat herbicide against 500 000 litres that were required. A shortfall of
310 000 litres of Lasso - an emulsifiable concentrate residual herbicide
registered for maize, groundnuts, soya beans and sunflower - was also
recorded by the taskforce.
These shortages, Nyikayaramba said, could affect medium to
high-density farmers with 10 hectares or more.
"There are signs of nitrogen deficiency for crops that did not receive
fertiliser. The lack of ammonium nitrate is going to reduce productivity,"
"It would be misleading at this stage to give the actual forecasts but
output per hectare could drop from five tonnes to one tonne in some areas
that did not receive adequate fertilisers."
Government currently has three groups of farming programmes which it
hopes would produce adequate food supplies - the Champion Farmer,
disadvantaged rural farmers and the donor-driven "self financing exercise".
Secretary for Lands and Agriculture in the Arthur Mutambara-led MDC,
Renson Gasela, said the country could produce 600 000 tonnes of maize this
"An excellent small crop is expected for a few farmers who accessed
fertilisers," Gasela predicted.
"At least 600 000 tonnes will be produced against two million required
to meet annual national consumption."
Joseph Made, Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation minister,
declined to "speculate" on the projections until a government assessment is
"I will not speculate, but government will carry out a comprehensive
second crop assessment," Made said.
Turning to the impact of liberalisation of grain marketing on
strategic grain reserves, Made said: "This decision (to make the GMB the
buyer of last resort) will not affect strategic grain reserves because
exports are not allowed under this arrangement."
Under the liberalised framework announced in the February Monetary
Policy Statement, the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) must act as the buyer of
last resort, providing farmers with a "fall back" marketing alternative.
"For the purpose of strategic reserves, the GMB should leverage on its
own internally generated revenues (for buying grain), as well as the limited
financial resources as would be made available from the fiscus.
Read the statement announced by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono," he
said. "Zimbabwe's food security situation would remain precarious if our
farmers continue to face protracted delays in getting their payments for
deliveries made to the GMB."
Gasela, a former GMB boss, however said government's decision to
liberalise the marketing of maize and wheat could elbow out the parastatal
as a competitive miller due to insufficient funding.
Meanwhile, the South African government has defended the decision to
support Zimbabwe's agriculture under the R300 million input package that was
availed last year.
This decision follows an audit by a regional taskforce to assess the
distribution exercise that was carried out by aid agencies and churches.
"Cabinet was pleased to note that all reports indicated that the aid
was distributed in full compliance of the Sadc framework," the South African
government said last week.
"An interdepartmental task team that visited Zimbabwe over the past
two weeks has also found that there was compliance with the Sadc framework.
We are therefore satisfied that the South African aid was received by the
targeted ordinary Zimbabweans."
BY BERNARD MPOFU
Saturday, 14 March 2009 12:47
FOREIGN currency-denominated allowances paid out to state security
forces and the rest of the civil service last month have been eroded by the
cost of school fees, council rates and utility bills, further impoverishing
government workers, analysts have said.
The over 300 000 government employees were each paid US$100 in
allowances, plus monthly salaries in local currency. Most workers in the
country earn far below US$100.
The payment in allowances in hard currency followed government's
decision in January to introduce a multi-currencies system as part of the
country's payment system to deal with hyperinflation and last September's
partial dollarisation of the economy.
Partial dollarisation saw manufacturers and retailers shunning trading
in local currency, prompting private companies to pay wages and allowances
in foreign currency, a move the government adopted last month.
Developments in the past three weeks have, however, rendered the
allowances earned by government employees inadequate.
The civil servants' joy of earning "real money" was short-lived
following the gazetting of new public school fees structures and the
announcement last week of exorbitant council rates, a move labour analysts
said would affect most workers in the country as the new charges were more
than the US$100 most of them earn per month.
Public and private sector workers in the capital, the analysts
observed, would be affected the most by the new school fees and council
Harare City Council last Friday announced a whopping US$185 million
budget to be financed by residents and ratepayers.
Residents in upmarket areas would be expected to pay monthly charges
of US$97, low-density areas US$57 while those in the high-density areas will
Refuse collection charges for the high-density areas were set at US$10
while those in the low-density areas will pay US$12.
Consultation fees at council clinics and hospitals were set at US$20
for adults and US$10 for children.
Burial fees would vary from US$150 to US$250 depending on the location
of the burial site.
Apart from council rates, government pegged primary school fees in the
high-density suburbs at US$20 a term and US$150 in the low-density suburbs.
Pupils in secondary schools in high-density areas will pay US$100 with
those in the low-density areas paying US$200.
Examination fees for an 'O' Level subject are US$15, while students
sitting for 'A' Level examinations will be asked to pay US$30 a subject.
Besides schools fees and council charges, the workers have to pay a
minimum US$10 for electricity and a further US$10 for potable water.
With these charges, labour analysts said, civil servants and many
workers in Zimbabwe would battle to make ends meet.
Labour lawyer Rogers Matsikidze said the new school fees structure and
council charges have rendered inadequate the allowances public servants got
last month, hence the need for government to act swiftly and come up with a
new salary scale.
He said it was apparent that with US$100, a civil servant could not
pay bills as well as cover the fees for their children at school and
"It is unfortunate that it is the same government that a few weeks ago
paid its workers an allowance of US$$100 that is today asking them to pay
the same amount for school fees," Matsikidze observed.
He said government needed to review downwards utility bills as they
were well above the allowances it paid its employees.
Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe programmes and information
officer Oswald Madziva said although his organisation welcomed the move to
pay public servants allowances in hard currency, the amounts were not enough
to cover basic needs of the workers.
Madziva said: "We regard the allowance as a painkiller as we give the
newly formed government of national unity ample time to address the issue of
salaries for public servants."
He said the allowance should not be mistaken for a salary.
"The allowance is not enough and nobody can argue otherwise as it
cannot address our needs and pay fees for our children," added Madziva.
Teachers last year went on strike citing poor salaries and working
conditions and only went back to work early last month after a pledge by
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that they would be paid in foreign
Minister of Education David Coltart also pleaded with the teachers to
return to work.
Madziva said their demand for a US$2 300 salary still stands although
they were open to negotiations to bring back sanity to the country's
education sector, which used to be the pride of Africa.
"Our demand still stands and whether or not government is able to pay
is another issue. Our calculations show that what we are demanding is
justifiable," he said.
The country's largest labour federation, the Zimbabwe Congress of
Trade Unions (ZCTU), this week said workers should be paid a minimum monthly
salary of US$454. According to the labour body, the figure is based on the
basket of an average family of six.
The ZCTU said there is some resistance from private sector employers
who are saying their workers should get the same US$100 allowance the
government is giving public employees.
ZCTU official Last Tarabuka said the February allowance for public
servants was not enough for the upkeep of the workers and their families.
"Our position is clear -- the US$100 allowance paid to civil servants
falls far short of the poverty datum line which at the moment is at US$454,"
Rosaria Nyamadzawo, a primary school teacher in Harare, said despite
being paid an allowance in hard currency, the money was eroded by costs,
among them rentals and utility bills.
"My allowance will not be enough to cover all these costs and I wish
the new government of national unity can intervene and pay us a decent
salary and revisit the fees structure," Nyamadzawo lamented.
BY LUCIA MAKAMURE
Saturday, 14 March 2009 12:11
WHILE prices for basic goods are declining, the cost of Zimbabwe's
unreliable electricity and water supplies has been increasing, pushing up
the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ)'s February monthly family basket.
Analysts said the charges were not justified considering the service
was inconsistent. The charges, according to analysts, gave an impression
that the authorities were charging residents high prices to pay their debts.
The consumer watchdog revealed that a three-roomed house in the
high-density suburbs still rents for US$60 a month and the new water and
electricity charges meant that its six-member family would need an estimated
US$40 for those.
Health services were averaged out at US$5, education at US$40 and
clothing and footwear at US$50.
According to CCZ's February basket, food prices showed a market
decline of 20% from US$153,63 in January to US$122,65.
The basket of food includes margarine, roller meal, white sugar, tea,
fresh milk, cooking oil, bread, flour, rice, salt, onions, tomatoes and
While inflation was said to be slowing down for the first time in one
year five months. The reduction in the prices of basic commodities is
expected to continue.
The last time official inflation figures showed a decline was in
September 2007 when it dropped to 6 592,8% from 7 634,8% the previous month.
Announcing his first monetary policy statement in January Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono said: "Prices of goods and services are expected to
continue their rapid decline trend over the remainder of the year while
availability is expected to improve."
Despite fast falling food prices last month, rises in the cost of
basic necessities such as electricity and water kept the cost of living for
an urban family of six at US$374,25, from US$381,23 in January.
Food makes up 32% of the total basket while transport, rent, water and
electricity, health services, education, clothing and footwear make up the
Countering the fall in food prices was a rise last month in the cost
of transport, rents, water, electricity, health, education, clothing and
footwear as all sectors were dollarised.
According to the CCZ, a family of six needed US$239, a 12% rise from
January's US$214 for the non-food items.
"The cost of a number of services is still prohibitively high and
these include rent, water, and lighting and these have pushed up the cost of
the basket," said the CCZ.
"Despite basic goods now available in shops, many people could still
not afford them since not all employers had switched to hard currency
salaries and wages," the CCZ said. - Staff Writer
Saturday, 14 March 2009 12:09
A DECADE ago, the retail sector was characterised by cutthroat
competition. Retailers had to fight for their chunk of the market share
hence innovations were a must. Creative adverts and promotions were a common
Then, consumers prioritised quality and brand type; as a result the
market was dominated by few players who had the resources to back their
OK Zimbabwe controlled the larger portion of the market. TM
Supermarkets and to a lesser extent Lucky 7 were the other forces to reckon
For OK its strength was in holding promotions. Annually it would hold
the OK grand challenge for OK stores whilst the French connection
competition would be run in Bon Marché stores.
OK Zimbabwe was incorporated in 1953 as Springmaster Corporation. It
was acquired by Delta Corporation in 1977 and later on changed its name to
Deltrade in 1984.
Through an equity spin-off the group de-merged from Delta and listed
on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in 2001.
Subsequently it started trading under the name OK. Later on, it
disposed its furniture business, Furniture Paradise.
Over the years the company managed to expand its horizons and at the
end of the 2006 financial year, the group had 51 outlets under its control.
Thirty-nine were operating under the name OK stores, five used the
brand name Bon Marché whilst the other seven were under the name OK Express.
The group also managed to build two household brands, the Pot 'O' Gold
for OK supermarkets and the Premier choice for Bon Marché supermarkets.
Challenges for the group started two years ago during the June 18
price blitz. Prior to this, appetite for the counter on the Zimbabwe Stock
Exchange was evident despite the decay that was taking place in the broader
The belief amongst market players was that demand for consumer goods
would always be there so the sector would be the last to crumble.
The hyperinflation which prevailed when the economy was still
predominantly transacting in Zimbabwe dollars further accelerated the
collapse in retailing.
This had the impact of wiping off individuals' disposable incomes
thereby dragging down demand for goods. Cash shortages that had become a
common feature worsened the situation.
The daily cash withdrawal limit was not even enough for commuting to
work let alone shopping. Restocking on the part of retailers was again made
difficult as replacement prices were continuously escalating.
On the other hand, the June 18 2008 price blitz alongside the strict
enforcement of price controls by the National Incomes and Pricing Commission
helped the parallel market to blossom whilst shop shelves became empty.
The few locally produced items were finding their way onto the
parallel market where realistic prices were being charged.
The decline in production was a result of shortages of critical spare
parts and raw materials. Incessant power cuts together with erratic water
supplies further compounded the situation.
Industry was again holding back supply of finished goods due to
unviable prices pegged by the National Incomes and Pricing Commission.
For some, business suddenly improved in November. This was regardless
of developments that were unfolding on the international front.
The ongoing credit squeeze on the global markets has seen a number of
retail giants falling by the wayside. Trimming of branch network together
with job cuts have become common feature.
In January, Woolworths disclosed plans to close a quarter of its 800
outlets which will result in approximately 27 000 full time and part time
employees losing their jobs.
The advent of Foliwars permitted companies to charge realistic market
prices for their products. Goods immediately resurfaced on shelves as
entrepreneurs were getting value in return for their products.
This brought painful transformation of business practices in the
country. Days of "burning" US$10 and then using the Zim dollar proceeds to
buy goods worth US$50 were now gone. Volume of sales improved with
well-stocked shops making super profits.
When compared to the region, local prices were approximately four
times higher an indication of greed engulfing local entrepreneurs.
The few merchants that managed to establish credit lines quickly are
operating comfortably. In particular, Spar outlets which are directly
managed by Innscor and whose location is in affluent areas are unmistakably
recording brisk business.
For Innscor, the success came from its relationship with Spar South
Africa. Since it owns the Spar franchise for the Northern part of the
country, it obtains products for distribution to other outlets through Spar
Synergy with associate company National Foods as well as subsidiary
Colcom Foods again ensures that their outlets are adequately stocked with
products produced by these companies.
Retail chains like Batanai, Gutsai and the Savemore franchises have
also expanded their wings over this period, itself a sign of increased
Going forward, competition in the sector is going to be intense as the
playing field evens out. Companies now have to revert to basics where
business is driven by volume and not margins.
Already prices are coming down as the number of well-stocked shops is
improving. Scrapping of duty on basic commodities is another development
that will induce competition as it will avail individuals with an option to
go shopping from regional countries.
South African companies with interests in local firms will obviously
want to take advantage of their relationships and boost their turnover
levels using the local market.
Firms like Metcash and Massmart may opt to extend credit facilities to
their counterparts Jaggers and Makro respectively.
Evidently the giants of yesteryear are still nursing wounds sustained
in the price tsunami. However, it will be interesting to see how they will
try to match the competition from new entrants so as to regain loyalty from
OK and TM have large branch networks that they can capitalise on.
Furthermore, TM has synergies with Pick and Pay South Africa that it can
bank on in mobilizing stocks, although the current boardroom squabbles at
Kingdom Meikles Africa might scupper growth potential.
As it is said a wounded lion advances with strong vengeance. We just
wait to see how these two will respond.
BY KUMBIRAI MAKWEMBERE
Saturday, 14 March 2009 12:08
THE local tourism industry has been reeling over the past year due to
the cholera outbreak and the bad publicity which followed the violence after
the March 2008 presidential elections.
Apart from the cholera outbreak and political environment, Rainbow
Tourism Group (RTG) believe their operations could have been "much better"
had it not been for high inflation and price monitoring.
"The operating environment for the year ended December 2008 was
extremely challenging. Inflation continued to sky rocket," said RTG chairman
"The National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) regulated and
monitored prices of products and services in the hospitality industry
throughout the year, with varying impacts on the group's performance," he
RTG reported their financial results in the local currency; however
they do not give a clear picture to shareholders and investors on how the
company performed taking into considering the rate the dollar was losing
value against major currencies and the revaluations of the local currency.
"These depressed occupancies were largely due to low conferencing
business, depressed disposable incomes and cancellations as a result of
travel warnings," said Mandaza.
According to the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority a total of 17 conferences
which were to bring about 1 700 delegates to the country were cancelled last
year alone. These included the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa
"The sales mix was 78% domestic and 22% foreign, compared with 76% and
24% respectively in the prior year. Price controls resulted in erratic
supplies of strategic hotel products and tight stock levels at most
operational units. This had an undesirable effect on service delivery,"
Mandaza said the mismatch between revenues and expenses persisted for
the greater part of 2008 as operating costs continued to be pegged to
parallel market rates. With the introduction of multiple currencies, RTG and
the tourism industry is poised for a major recovery if they offer
competitive prices which will attract both local and foreign tourists.
"The country risk and negative perception associated with the 2008
elections adversely affected volumes at most of the group's operational
While the Global Political Agreement signed by the country's main
political parties in September 2008 ignited hope in many sectors of the
economy, there was no discernible impact on business owing to delays in
concluding and putting the inclusive government in place," said Mandaza.
Mandaza said despite the stumbling bloc during the period under
review, going forward, prudent procurement strategies had been put in place
to ensure uninterrupted business at all the group's properties.
The deregulation of prices in the fourth quarter and increased foreign
currency receipts on local sales is said to have helped the group improve
The group continued its expansion into Sub Saharan Africa, focusing in
the Sadc region. Two operations were opened in Zambia on a management
Negotiations are progressing well with regards to prospects identified
in South Africa.
BY PAUL NYAKAZEYA
Saturday, 14 March 2009 11:54
THE Employer's Confederation of Zimbabwe (Emcoz) this week said wage
negotiations within various National Employment Councils (NECs) have been
dragging on three months after the dollarisation of the economy as employers
and workers are failing to agree on how much should be paid as a minimum
wage in hard currency.
Emcoz director John Mufukare told businessdigest on Wednesday that at
least 10 of the NECs would seek arbitration at the Labour Court after they
deadlocked on the minimum wage.
"There are still a number of employment councils who have outstanding
cases," he said. "From the information we have received, about 10 NECs are
heading for arbitration."
Mufukare said most of the cases to be heard by the court were disputes
between the employers and workers on the method of payment to substitute
"Employers were offering food vouchers and fuel coupons as a method of
payment arguing that they did not have hard currency to pay. Workers are
refusing such forms of payment," Mufukare said.
He said paying in foreign currency may force some companies to close.
The Emcoz boss said there was need for a meeting where all
stakeholders could come up with a renumeration policy informed by the
prevailing macroeconomic climate.
Mufukare said the resumption of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum
(TNF), a negotiating platform between business, labour and government, would
also help to stabilise the salary structure of all sectors.
The TNF has not been functional since the collapse of the tripartite
agreement by the three parties in 2007.
Mufukare said they had introduced a weekly food basket for a family of
five, adopting the formula applied by the Central Statistical Office and
revealed that the basket was US$93,95 last week.
He said the recent demands by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions to
peg the minimum wage at US$454 exceeded the Emcoz calculations and they
would soon meet with the labour body to thrash out the issue.
"We notice that they have made a demand of a minimum wage of US$454
and we will meet with them to find out how they came up with that figure.
Our own calculations, which are a total of non-food items and the food
basket, will add to an ideal minimum wage of about US$274. We want to meet
them and come up with one figure" Mufukare said.
The parameters for wage payments have proved problematic since the
government in January adopted the use of multiple currencies to be used
alongside the Zimbabwe dollar as a means of trade in January.
The local currency is now virtually worthless as it is no longer
accepted by manufacturers and retailers.
This has forced employers to pay their workers in foreign currency.
BY KUDZAI KUWAZA
Saturday, 14 March 2009 11:54
LAND and buildings form a basic requirement for all human activity,
hence the need for property investment within the market.
Historically, this investment has been shown to retain its real value
in the long-term. Apart from that, there is the assurance that the property
owner has a greater proportion of control over the performance of the
On the other hand, any worthwhile property requires a sizeable
investment which in effect, concentrates the risk instead of spreading it.
It also takes a while to dispose of this type of investment since property
is not as liquid as money or equities.
We should also not rule out the possibility of voids occurring within
property investments, especially in the midst of economic instability.
Property analysts this week said activity on the property market can
be likened to a see-saw as evidenced by how it flourished during the third
quarter of last year due to speculation and the "burning" phenomenon.
Prices of properties are said to have declined slightly since January.
"Demand was high last year as individuals were investing in houses for
speculative purposes until their actions were put to an end by monetary
authorities' measures of dollarising, controlling RTG's and the stock
market," Michael Russell, Real-Homes managing director, told businessdigest.
Despite the economy being dollarised exorbitant prices are still being
quoted by estate agents with some houses in the high density areas being
quoted above US$35 000. Properties in the low density are being quoted at
between US$70 000 and US$300 000.
Over the past three years, confusion has arisen as to who exactly
determines property prices since real estate agents now quote amounts which
they regard to be competitive with other agents without the aid of valuers.
By definition, real estate agents solely sell or lease property on
behalf of others. The Valuers Act ensures that people qualified to value
property do so and not estate agents desiring to make a profit.
There seems to be a halt in the construction industry owing to the
cash squeeze that has hit hard on companies and individuals alike.
The economic slowdown and the shortage of foreign currency has
impacted on the construction of high rise buildings.
Joina Centre in Harare which is hard to miss on the skyline has been
under construction since 1999.
Meanwhile the lowering of interest rates is likely to increase the
demand for property and consequently give the property market a much-needed
Experts have predicted the recovery of the property market to take
place in the latter half of 2009. For those who want to take advantage of
the upturn, it is essential to be prepared.
BY PAUL NYAKAZEYA
Saturday, 14 March 2009 11:38
FOR years the Zimbabwean government has striven to deny any
culpability for the country's economic morass.
That its policies, and its maladministration have been the pronounced
cause of the continuous decline of the economy, and of the ongoing erosion
of formerly strong economic foundations, is indisputable. One action after
another by government has contributed to, and progressively escalated, the
collapse of almost all facets of agriculture, mining, tourism, commerce and
Whilst not the sole causes of that collapse attributable to
government, the disastrously negative and adverse policies and actions being
numerous, some of the principal governmental triggers of the economic
lIn 1997, agreeing to "compensation" for war veterans (real and
pseudo) which, irrespective of whether deserved or not, was far beyond
national means, and which triggered the massive depreciation of the
Zimbabwean dollar, which in turn triggered intensive inflation, and was a
major investment deterrent;
lEmbarking upon very necessary land reform, but in the most ill
conceived, grossly mismanaged and confrontationally implemented manner,
thereby bringing agriculture to near total disintegration - a contrast to it
previously being the primary foundation of the economy;
lEndless spending beyond government's means, resulting in huge
deficits, continual recourse to unsustainably great borrowing, and recurrent
default in debt servicing;
lTotal failure to contain corruption, inclusive of that perpetrated by
some close to the political hierarchy;
lContinuously intensifying regulation and command of the economy to an
untenable extent (until January 29 this year when, belatedly and
insufficiently, some deregulation was initiated);
lRepeated vilification and alienation of the international community,
with consequential decrease of aid, balance of payments support, lines of
credit, and investment;
lInvestment-discouraging legislation, including a very poorly
conceived Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Act which is potentially
ineffective in attaining its objectives, and recurrent failure to honour
obligations under Bilateral Investment Protection Agreements;
lImmensely oppressive, and regionally incompatible, taxation;
lForced imposition upon the Reserve Bank of quasi-fiscal operations.
These are but a few of the many governmental economic misdeeds of the
past 12 years or so.
However, imbued with belief in its own omnipotence and infallibility,
the Zanu PF government in general, and the president and his ministers in
particular, have been obdurately incapable of acknowledging that government
was the primary creator of the near demise of the economy.
Instead, to a limited extent, it attributed the negative economic
circumstances to adverse climatic conditions but, in the main, it has
recurrently claimed that those circumstances were the consequence of
deliberately malevolent machinations of much of the international community,
especially the United Kingdom (allegedly desirous of recolonisation of
Zimbabwe, which is so specious as to be distressingly ludicrous).
According to government, strongly supported by its rigidly controlled
media, for years Zimbabwe's economic ills are a consequence of malicious
"illegal" international sanctions.
Not only were there no economic sanctions whatsoever, other than the
USA's Zimbabwe Democracy and Recovery Act barring IMF and World Bank funding
to Zimbabwe (which in any event could not be procured for so long as
Zimbabwe was in repayment default on previous funding) until 2008, but had
there been they would not have been illegal, for any country can determine
whom it will trade with, and which countries should be recipients of
Prior to last year, the only sanctions that existed, other than the
limited ones of the USA, were not economic but targeted against specific
individuals within, or supportive of, the government.
Understandably, and justifiably, the new inclusive government is
calling for the lifting of economic sanctions that now do exist.
Those sanctions should be lifted, for they are distressingly punitive
upon the innocent populace, whilst of little consequence to the primary
Zimbabwean offenders of the precepts of respect for human and property
rights, just and adhered to law and order, and democracy.
However, that does not mean that sanctions should not continue to be
applied against those who are continuing to disregard those precepts.
In the meanwhile, whilst it is warranted for Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangarai and some others in the inclusive government to urge the
discontinuance of the economic sanctions that now exist, much of government
continues to mislead as to the extent of such sanctions, and are strongly
supported by the media.
Thus, bold headlines that appeared last week claimed a renewal of
extensive economic sanctions of the USA and UK. The reality is very
In a statement issued by the White House on March 4, President Barack
"On March 6, 2003, by Executive Order 13288, the President declared a
national emergency and blocked the property of persons undermining
democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe, pursuant to the
International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 USC 1701-1706). He took
this action to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign
policy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of
certain members of the government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine
Zimbabwe's democratic processes or institutions.
"These actions have contributed to the deliberate breakdown in the
rule of law in Zimbabwe, to politically motivated violence and intimidation,
and to political and economic instability in the southern African region.
"On November 22, 2005, the president issued Executive Order 13391 to
take additional steps with respect to the national emergency declared in
Executive Order 13288 by ordering the blocking of the property of additional
persons undermining democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe.
"On July 25, 2008, the president issued Executive Order 13469, which
expanded the scope of the national emergency declared in Executive Order
13288 and ordered the blocking of the property of additional persons
undermining democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe.
"Because the actions and policies of these persons continue to pose an
unusual and extraordinary threat to the foreign policy of the United States,
the national emergency declared on March 6, 2003, and the measures adopted
on that date, on November 22, 2005, and on July 25, 2008, to deal with that
emergency, must continue in effect beyond March 6, 2009.
"Therefore, in accordance with section 202(d) of the National
Emergencies Act (50 USC 1622(d)), I am continuing for 1 year the national
emergency with respect to the actions and policies of certain members of the
government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe's democratic
processes or institutions."
Thus, the constraint upon funding by the Bretton Woods institutions,
and the targeted sanctions upon selected individuals continue, but no other
economic sanctions are pursued by the USA.
Similarly, Britain's Minister for Africa, Lord Mark Malloch-Brown
emphasised that Britain applies no economic sanctions against Zimbabwe,
albeit that it is not willing to "bankroll Zimbabwe's economic recovery"
until there are some significant, positive changes in Zimbabwe, albeit that
it does apply targeted sanctions against certain Zimbabwean persons from
within, or connected to, Zanu PF.
Notwithstanding, for the sake of the well-being of a desperately
suffering, innocent population, the European Union and those others who have
applied economic sanctions since 2008 should support that population, and
the inclusive government, by lifting all but the targeted sanctions, despite
the continuing deception on sanctions pursued by some in the political
environment. Doing so would be genuine humanitarianism!
Saturday, 14 March 2009 11:16
HOW great would it be for the majority of Zimbabweans if the one
month-old Government of National Unity (GNU) had brought about a new
But alas, the GNU composed of Zanu PF and the two formations of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has not changed anything, yet.
Reference to the governmental arrangement might have been curiously
changed from GNU to "inclusive government", but the sun shines still by day,
and the stars by night.
That is as much light as the majority of citizens enjoy. Power cuts
still prevail. The dark horrors of the bad old days still haunt the land,
through the nation's collective memory, and through the gross injustices
that still pervade the country.
The rule of law is still largely absent, the violation of civil
liberties and basic human rights are still prominent features of the
society, the struggle for real freedom for the majority of citizens
continues, and the majority of Zimbabweans still languish in abject poverty.
Certain government lawyers are still guided in their execution of
duties by political and executive directives instead of legal provisions
that are codified in the Constitution and in the statute books.
A few illustrations on the lawlessness: On February 12, just a day
after the inauguration of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, my younger
brother Cuthbert was accosted by soldiers around 7am in central Harare.
He was bundled into an army truck, and driven away to some secluded
spot on the outskirts of town. The truck passed through the Roadport area
wherefrom the marauding soldiers picked up a number of moneychangers.
My brother's "crime" was that he carried a green bag, which allegedly
looked like an army bag. The crime of the moneychangers was that they
The bag plus US$80 which my brother had on him were automatically
forfeited to the soldiers benefit. Whatever currency the moneychangers had
on their persons was similarly confiscated, without any due process.
In October 2008, several citizens around the country were abducted
from their homes at 3am, and at other ungodly hours. Horrific tales have
been told about the grossly inhuman, degrading and barbaric treatment that
the abductees suffered at the hands of state agents.
Yet, after the renamed "inclusive government" was ushered in most of
the abductees continued to languish in under-resourced detention centres.
Other abductees were kept at secret detention centres, where they were
subjected to sub-human treatment and badly tortured.
At least seven of the abductees are still unaccounted for. High Court
Orders for the submissions of reports on progress made by the state in
investigating the whereabouts of the missing citizens, and for the immediate
release of those who had been accounted for, were ignored.
Indeed, the disregard of court orders and judgements continues to be a
worrisome trait of governance in Zimbabwe. We still listen on national
television to public attacks on the findings of the Sadc Tribunal in respect
of the farmers' cases.
If indeed the Tribunal did not have jurisdiction over Zimbabwe's
sovereign acts, then Zimbabwe should not have participated in the
proceedings of the Tribunal in the first place.
Even after the installation of the new government, some members of
Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) were beaten up by the usual elements, and
others arrested for exercising their constitutional right of
Student leaders have been arrested for expressing themselves through
Apologists might argue that Woza and the student demonstrators
violated the law.
The probable subject law would be the Public Order and Security Act
(Posa). That is the other pointer to the stagnation of Zimbabwe's political
crisis: very repressive laws remain on the country's statute books.
Posa, which replaced the colonial Law and Order (Maintenance) Act
remains in place. The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act,
which was the tool used to destroy many publications, remains enforceable.
Still on the list of Acts of Parliament is the Broadcasting Services
Act under whose obnoxious application the monopoly of the Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation is maintained.
Whilst the government speaks ill of foreign-based Zimbabwean
broadcasting stations, the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe continues to
be stingy with broadcasting licences by refusing to issue a single
broadcasting licence to alternative broadcasters.
This unpalatable lamentation of woes has been sung before, and
oftentimes in greater detail in other literary works.
However, a month after the formation of the GNU, these key issues must
be raised again in making the point that nothing has changed, yet.
Some might says a month is too early a time to be judging the subject
government. Others could argue that the new regime features new faces.
Indeed, the leaders might be acting graciously to each other in times
of grief, which is the civilised thing to do, but for the suffering abductee
who has been denied his liberty for over 120 days, or the impoverished
father who cannot feed his family, one day longer of the old order is as bad
as a lifetime under a repressive regime.
In the final analysis, hope is all we have. We therefore can only hope
that at the end of the second and subsequent months of the GNU/inclusive
government, the material features that distinguish a free and democratic
society from a totalitarian state, would have changed for the better.
Chris Mhike is a lawyer practising in Harare.
BY CHRIS MHIKE
Saturday, 14 March 2009 10:46
FREE market sympathisers of the partially ruling Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) in Zimbabwe must be wondering where to draw the line
between constructive trade unionism and a destructive model of populist
By its very nature, trade and industrial unionism is part of working
life in most free economies. In other words, it is a by-product of political
freedom. And yet for the MDC, being able to accurately draw this line is a
matter of life and death.
There are two simple reasons for this paradox: the genealogy of the
MDC can be traced back to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and
secondly, unions tend to portray this irritating characteristic of being
Therefore, it will be interesting to see how the MDC, caught between
the constitutional principle of free association and the desire to respect
rights of sustainable corporate existence will pacify the appetite of "good
wages" for the ZCTU while at the same time reinvigorating the paralysed
Even liberals like me who passionately believe in the doctrine of free
association become sceptical on the contribution of unionism to
I may have support from Western compatriots that the American motorcar
industry is on the brink of collapse mainly due to years of conceding to
"irrational" union demands.
Hollywood scriptwriters and actors have on several occasions flexed
their union muscles to push for better deals, but I still remain unconvinced
that this has increased film ratings.
If anything, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has ensnared himself by
promising all and sundry wages in a currency manufactured only in
The paradox is award winning, yet for the new Government of National
Unity (GNU) in Zimbabwe the challenge is more than just a loss in ratings.
Raymond Majongwe of the Progressive Teachers Union insists on a US$2
300 minimum wage since he sees this as compensation for years of abusive
neglect by successive generations of Zanu PF Education ministers.
Herein lies my point: the question of viability and sustainability
that pales in significance in the game of populist unionism.
Perhaps Majongwe has a point. When liberal elements in the MDC and
market sympathisers urge him to conform to conventional wisdom, he points to
the bloated GNU cabinet and demands thriftiness at the highest echelons of
On my part, this is not another case of rabid sarcasm towards the
right to progressive industrial representation.
Matthew Takaona of the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) understands
better the nature of levelheaded holistic representation I have in mind.
He is quoted to have told the new Minister of Information that he
"should work to restore the integrity of the journalism profession by
helping to defuse polarisation and help bring down hate speech that has
become the hallmark of our media".
This is testimony to the fact that effective unionism is not only
about food baskets and minimum wages.
We Zimbabweans are all too familiar with the Congress of South African
Trade Unions which has persistently argued for more political rights in
They have been at the helm of knocking holes in Mugabe's illusion of
dynastic life presidency.
My argument against the Majongwe-type unionism is that it is placed
wrongly in the context of the post-Mugabe reconstruction era.
There must be acceptance, even by those radicals in the MDC that as
the economy grows, only then will government revenues improve significantly
to allow for greater investment in social programmes.
In the long-term, it is more value-adding for workers to support
policies that stimulate production and in particular production for exports
by avoiding populist minimum wage-related demands.
Some practitioners argue that minimum wages must be based on the
expected price impacts rather that an attempt at mitigating effects of
hyperinflation. Progressive unionism is not about today, but the future of
I see it more in the context of access to wealth, rather than
mercenary-type bargaining over wages, hours and working conditions. Zanu PF
sowed the seed of antagonism between labour and employers for political
It would be such a tragedy for the MDC to perpetuate this
counterproductive stone-age mentality.
Zimbabwe's industrial capacity has been decimated, currently operating
at below 20%, with a 95% unemployment rate to match.
Thus, the Samuel Gompers type of unionism under the American
Federation of Labour is a better model as it was said to be "businesslike
and pragmatic, adopting the motto, 'A fair day's wage for a fair day's work'."
What I advocate is a sensible balance between what employers can
afford and what the few workers at work would require to remain barely above
water, since everyone is under the same hyperinflation scourge.
Revolutionary unionism that peddles perishable theories that all
employers are heartless capitalists who would kill to protect supernormal
profit margins is outdated.
I am arguing for a case of partnership, not antagonism, pragmatism,
not exaggerated fantasies that play to the gallery of self-serving populism.
Labour-employer relations must be borne of mutual benefit and respect.
Of course in the process of reconstruction we will get isolated cases
of slave-driver mentality.
There are numerous reports of abusive labour practices by newly
resettled commercial farmers and Chinese investors - a matter for the
justice system. Yet such cases should not be allowed to contaminate what
could be business-friendly models of labour legislation.
After all, if trade unionism is allowed to choke industry, Wellington
Chibebe's ZCTU will remain with a stunted and paralysed constituency.
Rejoice Ngwenya is director of Coalition for Liberal Market Solutions
BY REJOICE NGWENYA
Saturday, 14 March 2009 11:54
APART from a few opportunist attention-seekers, we can agree as a
nation that last Friday's fatal accident which took the life of Susan
Tsvangirai was, as her husband said, an accident.
It was important for the prime minister to rule out foul play because
such speculation stokes the fires of suspicion and undermines the very
government he is mandated to uphold.
There are two things to remember here. Firstly, Zimbabwe's road system
is in desperate need of reconstruction. The present system was built in the
1960s to carry one tenth of the vehicles it now carries. And in recent years
it has not been maintained.
The scene of last Friday's accident, the Mhondoro turnoff, is a
notorious black spot.
There are humps, potholes and animals to be avoided. Swerving to avoid
an obstacle is an instinctive response by a driver. And then there is human
frailty: speeding, carelessness and drowsiness are all threats to other
Secondly, Zimbabwe has a long sad history of fatal road accidents.
Some of its victims were outspoken critics of the regime. But others were
killed long before this regime took office. Notable nationalist Dr Samuel
Parirenyatwa was killed at a railway level crossing in 1962.
There were all sorts of conspiracy theories at the time along the
lines of those circulating this week.
Morgan Tsvangirai has been quick to get a grip on the situation
despite the dark shadow of grief that hangs over him. He understands that
despite the welcome sympathies expressed by President Mugabe, there are
predators lurking on the sidelines waiting for the MDC to weaken.
To date the unity government has been short on delivery. The South
Africans appear reluctant to cough up their promised largesse and the
Western donors are not going to reach into their pockets so long as
Moreover the latter now have an unexpected financial crisis of their
own to deal with before they can spare money for causes further afield.
Mugabe's remarks about rulings by the Sadc Tribunal being "nonsense"
are precisely the sort of examples of bad governance his detractors will
make good use of.
So was the arrest of Mutare provincial magistrate Livingstone Chipadze
who was accused of assisting Roy Bennett to deposit bail with the clerk of
Mugabe a few weeks ago called for the law to take its course. That
manifestly doesn't appear to have happened in several of the current cases
although Bennett has at last been given his freedom.
Then there are the continued seizures of white-owned farms by
This communicates the impression of a country in turmoil.
We need to remember in all this that the whole point of the
Sadc-sponsored negotiations between Zanu PF and the MDC were designed to
provide stability and recovery in a region where every country was making
progress except Zimbabwe. We were a danger to ourselves as well as our
There has been no sign whatsoever of recovery because Mugabe's gang is
still capable of throwing up roadblocks.
His reappointment of unproductive diehards shows a complete lack of
sincerity in moving the country forward.
Instead of entertaining claims of American culpability in last Friday's
tragedy, we should be focused on the institutional prevention of the mission
the unity government was appointed to undertake.
There are significant donors and investors out there keen to assist.
But they want to see genuine power sharing and progress towards
recovery and reform.
That is not happening.
The MDC is moving from propitiation to appeasement. Their public
statements are tepid on the issues.
They need to spell out the facts of life to their new partners. Bad
behaviour means no assistance from those who can help.
The only ray of light in all this is the way the Zanu PF leadership
has suspended hostilities and expressed sincere regret to Tsvangirai in his
Now they must translate civility into concrete deeds. The people want
Let's see it.
Saturday, 14 March 2009 11:39
TOURISM minister Walter Mzembi says he is aware of the "dire
situation" at the Beitbridge border post and was engaging with relevant
stakeholders to improve the situation.
Toilets were not working and people were using the surrounding bush,
"I am aware that if one has to use ablution facilities at the border
they have to get to the South African side," he said. In Musina the toilet
facilities are kept clean. Every 15 minutes somebody is cleaning them and
ensuring a supply of toilet paper, he said.
The road network on the South African side "told visitors that someone
was doing their job and doing it well. There is work to be done on the
Zimbabwean side," Mzembi observed.
But it was not clear which department is responsible for the border
post, he said. Is it Zimra (Customs) or the Ministry of Public Works? The
Ministry of Transport needs to be engaged.
One of those who needs to be "engaged" is the MP for Beitbridge, Kembo
Mohadi. He is also co-Minister of Home Affairs. In terms of the masterplan
for the town Noczim was "supposed" to build an upmarket service station,
Mohadi pointed out.
The Rainbow Tourism Group was "supposed" to build a five-star hotel.
NSSA was "supposed" to construct a civic centre. A section of the
Bulawayo-Beitbridge road was dug up and then abandoned, Mohadi said.
Isn't this a very Zimbabwean tale? Many people were "supposed" to do
things to improve the situation but didn't. We can think of all those
Ministers of Finance responsible over the years for Customs who couldn't
even establish a system that enabled travellers to be served quickly and
There was nobody to advise on which queue people should join and what
documents they needed to produce.
A goofy picture of Mohadi stares out at readers of the Sunday Mail
which did a good story on ministerial delinquency at the border post.
Could he say exactly what he has achieved in his many years as MP and
minister? Apart of course from describing the problem!
Does anybody seriously believe that Beitbridge and the surrounding
road network can be improved in the time remaining before next year's World
Cup soccer events? Visitors are currently greeted by the stench coming from
Mzembi said he would sit down with Mohadi to discuss the way forward.
It might be a good idea to make sure Mohadi is awake first.
Bearing in mind the condition of the Beitbridge border post referred
to above, the Herald's Isdore Guvamombe on Wednesday demonstrated his
delusional credentials by inventing new claims for our derelict capital.
"Since the days of the ill-fated Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland,
Harare has had the tag of being the best city in Southern Africa after
Johannesburg, and still carries that tag," he wrote.
Now we appreciate that Herald columnists are required to talk up
Zimbabwe's attractions ahead of the soccer World Cup, but walking around
with a blindfold is taking things a tad far.
What does Guvamombe mean when he says Harare is the "best city in
Southern Africa after Johannesburg"? What does "best" mean? Most attractive?
Or having the best facilities?
Nobody has ever suggested Johannesburg is an attractive city. Wealthy,
dynamic, dangerous yes, but never attractive.
So what is Guvamombe talking about? Cape Town is unrivalled as a
beautiful city with both natural attractions and modern facilities. So how
did Harare get to be second "best" when it is in a state of advanced decay?
The flood of visitors expected will help "prop up" the national
airline, we are told.
Will people want to travel on an airline that needs "propping up"?
Muckraker's advice: Clean up the Beitbridge border post first. That
will demonstrate seriousness on the part of government, not naïve puff
pieces in the Herald.
Tafataona Mahoso is impatient with Morgan Tsvangirai. That would be
putting it mildly. The PM's maiden speech to parliament did not deal
sufficiently robustly with the issue of sanctions, Mahoso complained.
Tsvangirai couldn't even bring himself to use the word sanctions.
The most urgent priority for the unity government was not to fix the
damage that sanctions have inflicted, he concluded from Tsvangirai's speech,
but to adopt a neo-liberal reform programme.
"Zimbabwe deserved the sanctions," Mahoso understood the PM's stance
to be, "and their removal is now due only because the inclusive government
has improved its behaviour and will continue to so improve in order to earn
the lifting of sanctions, by-and-by, not now.
"The behaviour which has to be improved in order for Zimbabwe to
deserve the lifting of (what Tsvangirai called) 'restrictive measures'
includes stopping repression and oppression. The words are quite telling,"
This stops short of the position adopted by Sadc, he suggests, and "is
contrary to the views of most Zimbabweans".
Is it? Has Mahoso conducted another of his dubious surveys? We all
recall when he conducted a survey which suggested the people of Zimbabwe
wanted restrictions on the media!
As for Sadc, they have been studiously blind to the human rights
abuses Mahoso refers to.
He needs to have an encounter with reality. Zimbabweans are not saying
they want to see more repression.
They have had enough of that. And he needs to understand that the
lifting of sanctions
and provision of international funding for recovery will only
materialise when Zanu PF stops locking up its critics, stops sabotaging
agriculture, and stops allowing people like Mahoso to poison the political
climate with his vitriol.
They want an end to the regime he speaks for.
They want peace, freedom and prosperity.
He says that "with the help of certain journalists", some of the
politicians benefiting from inclusivity appear to think coming together
"means that the people should tolerate public displays of ignorance,
hypocrisy, insults and lies in the name of inclusivity".
Not from Mahoso at any rate. The editor of the Sunday Mail needs to
put a stop to this sort of thing.
An excellent piece in the Sunday Mail last weekend told us how
retailers were smiling over their booming cross-border business while local
industry is suffering.
Since the country adopted the US dollar and rand, the availability of
basic commodities has markedly improved while prices have come down in
response to increased competition. However, we are reminded that the June
2006 blitz on retailers caused lasting damage to manufacturers because of
imposed price structures.
They couldn't recover their costs of production.
Most goods on supermarket shelves are now imported from South Africa
while Zimbabwe's well-developed industrial base languishes.
This is the product of voodoo economics from ruling party zealots.
Where is "Godknows" Masimirembwa right now? Here is one zealot who inflicted
lasting damage but is probably still earning a salary as head of the
redundant National Incomes and Pricing Commission.
The whole point of the Sadc-mediated talks between the political
parties was to prevent any further damage to the economy and provide a basis
for recovery. That is not happening. So please, no more squealing about
Why does the government think members of the public should pay US$50
for a listeners/television licence?
What value does ZBC give us and what has the BAZ done to license new
broadcasters so people have a choice?
This is daylight robbery. The public have the right to demand value
for money and they are not getting it. Nobody watches ZBC/ZTV any more.
It is unprofessional and uninteresting. Instead of squealing about
sanctions, Happison Muchechetere and his gang at Pockets Hill should try and
make ZTV watchable.
A word of advice to ZTV news reporters and readers: it is Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's late wife Susan, not "the late prime minister's
wife". There is a whole world of difference!