Thursday, the Pan-African Parliament will be inaugurated in
By Abraham McLaughlin | Staff writer of The Christian Science
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - Africa, it seems, is mustering new
resolve to tackle its problems. After decades of being mostly unwilling or
unable to deal with widespread poverty, corruption, conflict, and disease,
there's growing political will behind several efforts to address these
troubles - with or without outside help.
Thursday, for instance, in
Ethiopia, delegates from 45 nations will inaugurate the Pan-African
Parliament, a first-of-its-kind body that will eventually make continent-wide
Earlier this year, African leaders also agreed to create a
continental military force to help stamp out wars. It will take orders from a
new Peace and Security Council, which will have the power to intervene in any
Also on the horizon is a human-rights court. Its
judgments will be legally binding, though only on nations that give it
jurisdiction. So far 15 have done so.
And this month, Ghana became the
first of 18 countries to undergo "peer review," whereby nations open their
finances, policies, and programs to scrutiny by fellow
Efforts to combat poverty through European-like economic unions
continue. This month's rebirth of the East African Community will meld
Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda into an open market of 94 million
All the moves represent a growing understanding that, "If [we]
Africans don't help ourselves, nobody else will come to our salvation," says
Lula Gebreyesus, head of the Africa Institute for Policy Analysis and
Economic Integration in Cape Town, South Africa. "We've been begging and
begging, but nobody has really helped us."
Many have tried. Rich
nations have sent untold billions to Africa. But without concerted efforts by
Africans, those efforts have failed, she says. Just as "God helps us when we
help ourselves," she says, Africans are realizing they have a big role in
their own salvation.
There's a long, tattered history of efforts to
integrate Africa under Pan-African or other banners - and thus plenty of
reason for skepticism about the latest ones. But the new round appears to be
less ideological and more pragmatic. It's driven, observers say, by the
growing understanding that in a world dominated by the European Union, NAFTA,
and other regional groupings, Africa's countries will largely prosper - or
collapse - together. "The emerging consensus in African politics is that
everybody is affected by everyone else," says Francis Kornegay, an Africa
scholar at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.
he says, it's clear the African Union - the umbrella organization that
includes the Pan-African Parliament, the Peace and Security Council, and the
African Court on Human and People's Rights - is "radically different from its
predecessor," the Organization of African Unity.
The OAU was a
heads-of-state club with a "collegial way of doing things," he says. Leaders
avoided interfering in each others' realms.
Creating the Pan-African
Parliament is an effort to inject grass-roots populism into the once-elite
club. The 265-member body will be only consultative until 2007, when it will
begin making laws.
It's symbolic of what Mr. Kornegay describes as a
gradual "erosion of sovereignty," and a new willingness to begin nosing into
The most dramatic example of this may be the African
Standby Force. It's designed to have five brigades of soldiers, policemen,
and observers - about 15,000 people total. The Peace and Security Council
will order the force into action. Unlike the United Nations Security Council,
no members will have veto rights. Motions will pass with the relatively low
threshold of a two-thirds majority. Theoretically this means the force will
be used more often.
Another key element of Africa's self-improvement
is the peer-review process. So far 18 countries have agreed to be rated in
categories that include democracy, good governance, human rights, gender
equality, and development. It's being run by the New Partnership for Africa's
Indeed, peer review heralds the rise of the
"NEPAD-istas" as Kornegay calls them - leaders passionate about shaping up
the continent, if only out of enlightened self-interest. But there are plenty
of old-school leaders resisting the NEPAD tide. A prime example: Zimbabwe's
Robert Mugabe, who has refused to submit to a peer review.
self-help strategy may already be having one ironic effect: increased aid.
Aid to the continent rose from $16 billion in 2000 to $18.8 billion in 2002.
One reason 18 nations have signed up for peer review is to gain credibility
with overseas donors and investors.
Another tool for luring investors is
economic integration. In addition to the unified market in East Africa, this
year the Economic Community of West African States began issuing one passport
for citizens of its 16 member states.
Ultimately, some of these
European-Union-like efforts have a skewed rationale that says, "If Europe has
continent-wide institutions, and Europe is strong, then if we have them we'll
be strong," says Steven Friedman at Johannesburg's Center for Policy Studies.
But at least, he says, Africa is making a fresh and concerted effort.
ZNSPCA - PROSECUTION OF DAIRY FARMS
Zimbabwe National SPCA have
successfully prosecuted a "new" farmer from the Beatrice area. Mr Cloudious
Chikwira of Scottsbank was last week found Guilty of Cruelty to two dairy
cows that he owned and was fined $50 000 or 50 days with hard labour. ZNSPCA
Inspectors were able to prove that the cows died because they had no food or
water. Mr Chikwira does not live on the farm, but lives on another diary
farm in Gweru that he owns.
The Presiding Chitungwiza Magistrate also
ordered that if any more of Chikwira's cows suffer, the court will consider
ZNSPCA will continue its fight against cruelty to animals
in Zimbabwe regardless of who the perpetrators are or where they
text JAG OPEN LETTER FORUM 17TH MARCH 2004 - OLF
1. Subject: Compensation/Restitution - Simon
I have read with much interest the debate on your Letters Forum
about Agric Africa Ltd.
In particular I have noted Mr Freeth's
charges, if so they can be termed, against AA Ltd. These might be summarised
(and apologies to Mr. Freeth if I misinterpret him) thus:
AA Ltd. are
not planning to challenge the injustices of Fast Tract, are not seeking
compensation other than that payable for value of seized farms (ie no loss of
earnings, no 'distress' etc), are not seeking to render accountable those
responsible for Fast Track and are not targeting the wealth that ZANU PF has
generated for itself through its illegal actions.
What to AA plan to do?
I have studied Mr Fernandes's documents as well and (with apologies to him in
turn if I misinterpret them) might summarise the intended actions of AA
- To seek to redress for those whose Investor Protection Agreements
have been breached in 'a forum or an organisation associated with the
World Bank', - To urge foreign governments to bring actions against Zimbabwe
on behalf of their nationals and who have lost land 'under international
law'; - To urge foreign governments to bring actions against Zimbabwe on
behalf of their nationals who have lost land under Racial
Discrimination legislation in the International Court of Justice. - To urge
other governments in Africa to accept former Zimbabwean commercial farmers
and help them start again.
AA does add that any successful actions as
described above might act as a useful precedent for those who do not qualify
for any of the above actions.
On my reading Mr Freeth's charges are
valid. But then again, some of its rhetoric and precedents aside, AA Ltd
does not seem designed to do the things that Mr Freeth would like it to do.
It is, for the time being, a company that will lobby governments to bring
actions on behalf of non-Zimbabwean nationals whose land has been occupied
under Fast Tract in a variety of international forum, seeking compensation of
lost land. By contrast JAG, as I understand its aims, seeks the undoing of
Fast Track, a choice for dispossessed farmers as to whether they wish to go
back to their farms or not, compensation for those who do not, and
compensation for all, returning on non-returning, for loss of earnings,
damage to property etc. (I McKersie has already laid out the various types of
compensation.) All this followed by a proper and workable land reform. In
these aims, (and again my reading may be optimistic) it would seem to be in
harmony with the MDC land policy which is that of a return to rule of law
followed by a proper land reform process.
So AA Ltd seems to be for
the time being a specialist organisation, aimed at defending the rights of
only a small proportion of us. I would note in passing that I think its
chances of success are slim: Sir Quinton Thomas is, no doubt, a capable
fellow but it seems unlikely that his lobbying of that 'august body' the
British House of Commons will bring a change in British policy which has
been, so far as one can tell, to distance itself energetically from the Land
Issue since 2000. Not, I suspect for fear of a large bill but rather for
fear of being seen in the same camp as 'white farmers', working or 'resting'
such as Mr Freeth and myself.
But I do understand why Mr Freeth wrote
what he did for the AA documents do generate a certain ambivalence. They
talk of example of 'obtaining restitution and compensation for dispossessed
commercial farmers' and raise the precedent of Uganda where in Asians were
given the option of 'reclaiming their properties or being paid compensation',
both phrases more in line with JAG philosophy than stated AA Ltd
So - might we say that if you are not a foreign national who
has suffered from Fast Track then AA Ltd is, for the present, irrelevant to
you? Not completely. For AA Ltd does not spell out, not to my satisfaction
anyway, that dispossessed foreign nationals will have the choice of returning
to their farms or taking compensation for their properties if any of
AA's proposed actions bear fruit. And that is the nub of it. Any deal with
the existing Mugabe regime that secured financial compensation, but not
right of return, might turn out to be a de facto recognition and
legitimisation of Fast Track. And that we cannot have. This is an issue
that AA Ltd might clarify?
Is this an unrealistic view or one lacking
in pragmatism? Should we just try to grab what we can? No - with Mugabe old
and possibly sick, ZANU divided, Fast Tract an utter disaster and the country
in the abyss it is not. We must resolutely oppose Fast Tract, and all it
stands for, until it is discarded and consigned to an unhappy chapter of
history all of its own. Then those who wish to return to the land must be not
just permitted but encouraged to do so with a view to their participation in
an orderly and fair Land Programme.
To which end I note with
considerable concern the article in Business Day to which 'Simply Simon' has
already drawn attention: a plan to lease occupied tobacco farms from the
government (which does not own them) and put commercial farmers on them to
exploit Russian investment and grow tobacco. The sale of this tobacco will
then fund arms imports from Russia. Such a scheme has been lurking behind the
agricultural bike sheds in Zimbabwe for some time and now see the light of
day. It is in every respect a wicked scheme. I find it hard to believe any
true Zimbabwean, commercial farmer or otherwise will or can subscribe to it.
If they do then they make this a Trojan Horse manned by Trojans. I find it
hard to believe as well that any sensible Russian businessman will base a
business upon the slender reed of Mugabe's longevity. But be that as it may
the brave Roy Bennet has said that he knows of no farmer who will subscribe
to it. I hope that I, now and in the future, will be able to say the
I am interested in the community's comments
on the documentary shown on Saturday the 13th March 2003, on BBC World about
"The Secrets of the Camps".
Personally, I was horrified. Did no one
else watch this program, or should one just ignore it as propaganda, and hope
it goes away? What is the future of this generation going to be and what does
this imply to our future here?
Anxiously awaiting some
3 Subject: BMZ Shares
I visited BMZ today and found that they have
Dividends for last year, ready to send. They are reluctant to send them by
Zimpost unless they know that the addresses which they have are current.
Please phone them on 04-621331-4 with your correct postal add. Chipesa
Farm,Gresham, Claydon,Idubi are some that come to mind for which I have no
e-mail add. Please pass it
letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions of the
submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice for
Sent: Thursday, March 18, 2004 2:52 AM Subject: Mt Pleasant Report Back -
Tues 23 March 5.30 for 6-8 pm
Harare North Constituency Trudy
Stevenson MP with Councillors Dr Mushonga, Bangajena, Badza and
Report-Back Public Meeting PREPARING FOR 2005
March 5.30 for 6.00pm - 8.00 pm Mount Pleasant Hall
Speakers: Hon Gibson Sibanda, Leader of the Opposition and MDC Vice President
(to confirm) Hon Renson Gasela, Shadow Minister Lands and
Agriculture Hon Job Sikhala, St Mary's, Chitungwiza Mr Femai, MDC Chairman
Province ............................................................................ ................. *
Please spread the word - no more newspaper ads, unfortunately!
PANIC withdrawals hit some indigenous financial
institutions yesterday as members of the public continued to lose confidence
in the banking sector.
Long queues could be seen at several banking halls
within the city as clients desperately tried to withdraw remaining funds from
Most said they were contemplating opening accounts with
traditional banks where they believed their funds would be
There were fears that some of the financial institutions would
run out of cash and unconfirmed reports said that some had started limiting
cash withdrawals to clients.
Some people had reportedly started
hoarding cash and a shortage of notes appeared imminent.
get a comment from the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe and the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe regarding the latest developments failed
Senior bank officials, however, tried to downplay the
They argued that there was nothing unusual as some people
were withdrawing their salaries.
However, bank tellers who spoke on
condition of anonymity confirmed that there were massive withdrawals in
"We have been very busy throughout the whole week. It
appears as if it's the end of the month to us. People have been withdrawing
all the remaining amounts in their accounts.
"We anticipate business
to continue on an upward trend in the coming weeks," said a bank teller with
one of the financial institutions.
Others said the panic was ignited by
the closure of the Intermarket Holdings Limited and its subsidiaries -
Intermarket Building Society, Intermarket Banking Corporation and Intermarket
Discount House - by the central bank.
"The situation was further worsened
by the closure of Barbican Asset Management Company and Barbican
"People are fearing that their bank may be the next to close. There
is uncertainty in the market which has obviously led to panic
withdrawals," said another bank teller.
The central bank ordered the
closure of the two financial institutions in the past few days after
discovering that their books were in shambles.
The move was meant to
protect depositors' funds.
The two financial institutions have already
been placed under curatorship for six months.
It emerged yesterday
that one of the leading financial institutions, Kingdom Financial Holdings,
is likely to lose close to a billion dollars if one of the financial
institutions that has been placed under curatorship fails
Kingdom Holdings official, Mr Mark Woods, told a media and
analysts' briefing yesterday that the financial institution was exposed to at
least one of the banks.
He, however, refused to provide the name of
the financial institution.
"We can confirm that we have at least $176
million in one of the financial institutions in question . . . but I am not
in a position to disclose which of the banks owes us the money," said Mr
Correspondent 18/03/04 ZIMBABWEAN cops once again blocked businessman and
President Mugabe's political ally - James Makamba's bid for freedom Wednesday
when he was re-arrested immediately after a Harare magistrate ordered his
release from remand prison.
Magistrate Judith Matsamba ordered that
the former Telecel Zimbabwe chairman Makamba be released after she declared
his arrest and continued detention illegal.
"The court rules that the
arrest is illegal, as he should have been brought on a warrant," Matsamba
said in front of a packed courtroom.
Makamba is charged with 22 counts of
"externalising" foreign currency.
She said the prosecution case had
totally missed the point of the defence's contention that Makamba's detention
was illegal by concentrating on bail. She said the issue was whether
Makamba's arrest was legal under new corruption laws.
said, should have been arrested after a warrant of arrest had been issued
which the police didn't comply with.
But soon after the prison
authorities granted Makamba his freedom in front of cheering supporters who
included the writer, political commentator and media mogul Ibbotson Day
Mandaza, Zimbabwean police pounced.
As the jubilant party waited outside
the court, Makamba's lawyer George Chikumbirike emerged to announce a team of
detectives had rearrested Makamba and used a side entrance to take him to
Morris Depot Police Station.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said: "We
applied for an arrest warrant which a magistrate duly issued. He will be
processed through the normal police procedures. We can't give a date when he
is going to be booked, or when he will appear in court."
statement Bvudzijena said an appeal had also been noted against Ms Tsamba's
judgment and police acting on that, had rearrested Makamba.
statement, Bvudzijena noted that Tsamba's ruling was founded on a High Court
judgment by Justice Charles Hungwe who last week ordered the release of
businessman Cecil Muderede on the submissions by the defence that police
needed to obtain a warrant of arrest first before effecting arrest for
offences under First Schedule.
"Justice Hungwe, according to magistrate
Tsamba's judgment, clearly stated that such persons could be re-arrested on
the strength of a warrant of arrest. It is on this basis that Makamba and
Muderede have been arrested.
"There have, however, been a series of
appearances by James Makamba in court and it has been indicated that one of
the charges Makamba is facing is fraud, which is a First Schedule offence
whereby police do not need a warrant to effect an arrest," said
"These issues arising from the court decisions are firstly
the interpretation of what constitutes a statutory First schedule
offence whereby the police may arrest an offender without a
"Where the statutory offence calls for imprisonment for a period
in excess of six months with or without the option of a fine then that
offence is a First Schedule offence. Makamba's offences fall within this
category hence it is a First Schedule offence.
"Secondly, we have
failed as the State to timeously obtain Justice Hungwe's judgment on
Muderede's application by the defence handed down on March 12 2004 despite
several visits and inquiries by both the State counsel and the police
investigating team. What has happened in such situations is that accused
persons have often absconded to some countries where they have sought
political asylum and it is difficult to have them extradited back to Zimbabwe
to face trial," he said.
"The prevalence of such crimes has had a serious
negative impact on the country's economy and national security especially on
commodities, medicinal drugs and even local currency shortages.
police would like to assure the public that the force is determined
to ruthlessly deal with all forms of economic deviancy and we continue
to appeal to the public to supply us with information as regards such
Chikumbirike said he would be filing papers at
the High Court seeking his client's release Thursday.
State to Unveil Multi-Billion Dollar Wheat Programme
March 18, 2004 Posted to the web March 17,
The Government will soon unveil a multi-billion dollar
wheat programme, in which 100 000 hectares of land will be put under the crop
for a target production of 420 000 tonnes of wheat.
would be an improvement on last year's 50 000.
indicate a budget of $625 billion would be needed for the programme that
would see the Government spending $330 billion on rehabilitation of
irrigation infrastructure and $295 billion on direct costs, such as tillage,
fertiliser, seed, chemicals, water and electricity charges.
needs about 400 000 tonnes of wheat annually to meet
However, a small percentage will still have to
be imported for gristing purposes in bread-making.
told The Herald yesterday that although the programme was still in the
planning stages, there was tremendous determination for its success on the
part of Government.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is also expected to play
a role through its productive sector facility. It has already disbursed $408
billion which farmers have accessed.
The target hectarage and
production are part of recommendations that would be put forward to the
Cabinet Action Committee on Land Reform and Agriculture by an
inter-ministerial committee set up to look into the preparations for this
year's winter wheat crop.
The committee, which is chaired by the Ministry
of Special Affairs in the President's Office in Charge of Lands, Land Reform
and Resettlement, is made up of permanent secretaries from several ministries
and stakeholders in the agriculture industry.
A Farmer Identification
Task Force will identify farmers with the land, water and irrigation to be
part of the programme.
Its mandate will be to identify suitable land for
the wheat winter crop and farmers who are able to produce; and to draw up a
report on the requirement for the targeted wheat crop.
As part of its
mandate, the inter-ministerial committee, through the Department of
Agriculture and Rural Extension Services, was currently finalising the
identification of farms and farmers who should be part of the programme and
Sources close to the committee said the farmers and
farms had been drawn up in three categories.
"The first category
contains farmers who already have the infrastructure and have been growing
wheat but are waiting for the right incentive to continue growing the crop
such as a favourable producer price.
"The second category comprises of
those farmers who were resettled on land that has infrastructure which needs
rehabilitating or needs additional equipment.
"The third category is
of farms that were acquired but have not been allocated and farms that have
been allocated but are not being used," the source said.
unlike other committees which only made recommendations,
the inter-ministerial committee was an action-oriented entity that was
expected to oversee the implementation of the project.
taskforces which fall under the committee are expected to report to the
committee on a weekly basis on the progress being made in their different
portfolios," the source said.
Apart from identifying the farmers and the
farms, the committee, which has several taskforces under it, has already
identified some of the resources that are required to increase the hectarage
to 100 000 ha.
Seed companies that form part of the committee and
taskforces have already indicated that they have enough seed to meet the
requirements of the programme.
The seed houses have indicated that
they currently have 12 800 tonnes of wheat seed in stock which is more than
the 10 000 tonnes needed for the programme.
Fertiliser companies have
also indicated that they are able to meet the requirements of the
The companies indicated that they currently have 10 400 tonnes
compound D fertiliser although there was capacity to produce 78 000 tonnes
with the resources at hand, which was more than the minimum of 40 000 tonnes
and maximum of 60 000 tonnes needed for the projected crop.
of ammonium nitrate, the companies indicated that they had 1 000 tonnes of
the fertiliser in stock while 37 000 tonnes could be produced with the raw
materials at hand.
A minimum of 30 000 tonnes and a maximum of 40 000
tonnes of ammonium nitrate was needed to meet the requirement of the targeted
The committee has also proposed that the District Development
Fund till 45 000 hectares using its own fleet of tractors while Arda should
till 15 000 hectares. The remaining 40 000 hectares would be tilled
The whole programme was expected to consume
about 10,8 million litres of fuel.
Some of the taskforces which fall
under the committee, include those on land/farmer identification, finance,
seed procurement and distribution, fertiliser and chemical procurement,
engineering and mechanical services, transport and communication and
Efforts of the project were expected to be
complemented by the private sector which is expected to finance the planting
of an additional 60 000 hectares of wheat through contract
The winter wheat planting season traditionally starts in May
while harvesting usually starts in October.
Last year, more than 150
000 tonnes of wheat was delivered to various Grain Marketing Board centres
nationwide although the quality was reduced due to early rains.
the targeted 78 616,2 hectares under wheat, only 40 809, 51 hectares was
planted during the time due to delays in the distribution of inputs.
year the country faced an unprecedented shortage of flour which forced some
companies to import their supplies from South Africa.
As an incentive for
many farmers to go into wheat production, a new wheat producer price is
expected to be announced at the end of the month to enable farmers to make
quick decisions on which winter crops to grow.
There has always been
competition between wheat and barley in terms of the producer price. Barley
has tended to pay more than wheat and as a result farmers have gone into its
THE Zimbabwe Miners Federation
(ZMF) has been reduced to a battlefield as the organisation's national
executive and general council fight for control of the federation.
factions have emerged, one supporting incumbent president of the association,
Mr Nixon Misi, and the other backing his vice Mr
Confusion is reigning supreme in the association as
there are accusations and counter accusations being thrown from one side to
It is ironic that the association, formed mid last year to
replace the Giles Munyoro-run Small-Scale Miners Association (SSMA), is
already embroiled in such a mess barely two months after elections for
substantive office bearers were held in Masvingo.
In what appears to
be deja vu, the two factions are claiming to be in charge, accusing their
rivals of wanting to usurp power just like what happened during the time of
It all began last week when ZMF national council members passed a
vote of no confidence in the Misi-led executive and subsequently held
elections for interim members with Mr Kawonza emerging the new
This did not go down well with the ousted executive who said
the meeting to pass a vote of no confidence was unconstitutional and did not
constitute a quorum.
"The meeting to oust the executive was
unconstitutional as it was not announced 14 days before it was held as per
the requirements of the constitution.
"There was no quorum as only
less than the 11 association members needed to make a quorum were represented
at the meeting and we have realised that this is a machination of people who
are power hungry," said the ousted secretary-general Mr Earnest
He added that Mr Kawonza should be a genius to be able to tell
that an executive that was in office for only two months was
However, Mr Kawonza said the resolution to pass a vote of no
confidence was made as per the constitution and the members who were not
represented decided not to turn up for the meeting.
invited to the meeting and the decision was passed and I am the only member
from the previous executive to have survived.
"Our mandate now is to
restructure the organisation and make sure that we do not pursue some silly
squabbles," said Mr Kawonza.
The national council chairman Mr Mugejo
Makoni said the decision to boot out the old executive was precipitated by a
discovery that there were gross irregularities and
"As general council, we called everybody and some few
people decided not to come, but the meeting went ahead as we made a quorum,"
said Mr Makoni.
Both factions are trying by all means to make sure that
they tarnish the image of the other as there has already been allegations of
misappropriation of funds.
A commission of enquiry was instituted
immediately after the Masvingo congress as it had emerged that some of the
leaders had misappropriated funds.
Both factions are mum over the
findings of the commission of inquiry.
This is a sad development to the
organisation that was formed expressly to represent the small-scale farmers
after a realisation that there was no coordination of efforts from the myriad
of organisations that existed.
PUBLIC confidence in the country's financial
institutions is at its lowest ebb following a series of crisis, which hit the
sector in the last nine months.
It has since dawned to some account
holders that having a passbook or cheque book does not necessarily translate
into acquiring cash.
Most have been disappointed to find offices of
banking halls or automated teller machines of either building societies or
financial institutions in which they bank with either out of order or closed
Some have also been complaining about high service
charges, which have been increased without justification. This came at a time
when the banking sector witnessed an unprecedented increase in the number of
players and products.
Crisis which emerged in the last nine months
include cash shortages, closure of branches, liquidity crisis and failure to
make any transactions as building societies and some financial institutions
were placed under curatorship.
All banks were hit by a serious cash
shortage in June last year, which was only eradicated by the introduction of
bearer cheques, which replaced cash.
While the blame on the shortage of
cash was squarely laid on the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the banking public
was not amused with the way the banks handled the crisis.
It was the
announcement of the new monetary policy, which put the largest dent on the
confidence the public has in the banking sector as some were found to be
There was an unprecedented run on deposit, as Trust Bank
account holders feared that the financial institution would
There are 17 commercial banks operating in the sector and had
asset bases amounting $2.9 trillion.
While such figure may appear
impressive, they have been greeted with skepticism by the banking public, as
it has not translated to a better service delivery.
A TRUCK recently offloaded tonnes of sugar at a
supermarket chain store in Norton and shoppers naturally streamed into the
shop to buy the commodity. They soon left disappointed.
though no longer scarce as over the past year, never made it onto the shop's
shelves but instead mysteriously resurfaced a day later at the small lakeside
town's informal "speed" market at Katanga shopping centre, some distance
No one protested.
The incident was a mere reminder of the
norm that had for the past two years or so fed the food commodity black
market not only in Norton but also across the country.
Zimbabweans, who had helplessly become used to watching shop shelves being
systematically emptied onto the street, the sight of the shop shelves filling
up again since the December 2003 announcement of the country's monetary
policy was undoubtedly a big relief.
But the black market food merchants
threaten to wipe off many smiles, as evidence seems to show that they could
be staging a silent comeback.
More ominous is the resurfacing of fuel
shortages as indicated by the "No Fuel" signs that are reappearing at service
The shortage of affordable fuel on the formal market largely
triggered phenomenal price increases of food commodities at the height of
the country's economic crisis.
"We have to survive. Our families must
be fed. This is the only means by which we can make a living," said one
street vendor selling an assortment of goods that included sugar, flour,
cooking oil, soap and mealie-meal in Harare's city centre.
man, in his early twenties, who refused to be named, daily sets up his stall
on the pavement in front of one of the city's supermarkets, a routine that
involves playing cat-and-mouse with national police and their Harare
Word that police are in the area spreads fast
and in a matter of seconds the pavement is deserted.
The black market
vendors obtain their wares through the most intricate methods from
wholesalers and corrupt shop managers and owners, who sometimes employ the
traders to maximise profits.
Although the vendors, an offshoot of the
informal sector, were mainly confined to major markets like Mbare Musika,
their operations have since spread onto the streets of towns and
They intercept anything from soap to fuel as evidenced by the
fact that all commodities scarce on the open market have always been
available on the black market.
Even during last year's cash crisis the
black market was so awash with money that even banks started plying the
streets for cash.
Black market traders are so well connected that many of
them actually have contacts with people in companies that manufacture
products that are in demand.
For example, in an unconfirmed case an
off-duty truck driver is alleged to have, one evening, drove a 30-tonne
container truck laden with cooking oil out of a Harare factory to return
later with the truck empty. The incident allegedly happened in February this
At the height of the food shortages some of these shady traders,
nicknamed "Maboworangoma", used to hang around wholesale shops and
supermarkets waiting to intercept deliveries.
Then there were also
affluent business people who would intercept supplies before they reached the
For months on end, shops went without basic commodities such
as sugar, flour, salt, bread, mealie-meal and soap as hordes of people joined
the hoarding mania.
President Mugabe in an interview recently with
Newsnet said: "Over time we have, I think, wittingly or unwittingly, nursed a
situation where people have resorted to bad methods or shall I call it
devilish methods of wanting to earn incomes, earn monies, earn wealth wrongly
by cheating society, cheating Government and by all kinds of corruption and
this is now the main fight we are waging.
"The fight to try and clean
our house, purge it of those who really are undesirable characters . . .
people who have had it, you know, who are used to cheating and corruption.
They have been nurtured in the system . . ."
The black market thrived, in
the recent past, simply because cash was awash mainly emanating from the
massive money-laundering activities in the country.
misappropriated money black market merchants had grown so large that they
could purchase the entire contents of a supermarket, hoard the commodities to
create an artificial shortage and release the goods onto the streets or even
back into the shop at inflated prices.
As the police meticulously scan
the financial sector for these miscreants the threats directed at the man who
set the barn on fire, Reserve Bank Governor, Dr Gideon Gono, are some of the
salient indicators that the scoundrels are intent on not going down without a
Despite the real danger these threats pose to Zimbabwe's safe
passage to economic recovery the police and Dr Gono remain unmoved.
have received serious death threats from corrupt bank managers, politicians
and other company owners who were thriving from rampant corruption," Dr Gono
has been quoted as having said.
". . . This will not stop the policies we
are trying to implement. But while I need security it is important to
highlight to the nation that even if I am killed Zimbabwe has a population of
14 million people who will take over the fight against corruption in the
For the first time in years Dr Gono's efforts have
managed to reverse the rate of the galloping inflation by 20,8 percent from
620,5 percent for November to 598,7 percent for December.
spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena, who described the
ongoing operations to fish out white collar criminals as Zimbabwe's biggest
crime investigations since independence, has assured that no one will escape
The threats to the RBZ Governor and attempts by those still at
large to cover up their tracks are futile, he said.
Commissioner Bvudzijena: "There are people who posture to try and influence
the course of investigations, but that cannot stop us.
"We are determined
to do our job. Threats in themselves constitute a crime."
So far the
police have unearthed massive corruption involving billions of dollars,
confiscated tens of luxury cars and arrested several people while others have
either run away or gone underground.
Asked how best the activities in the
black market can be ridden of, especially where food commodities are
involved, the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe called for a complete
"The first thing, consumers should be responsible enough not to
buy those commodities from the black market because for a start they are
compromising on their health. In the event of any problems one cannot
approach these people for redress," said a CCZ official.
of doing business with black marketers is that anything goes in this sector.
Fake currency peddlers, con artists and all tricksters imaginable are found
in this sector.
Indeed consumer resistance is able to help redress the
situation but only when the people are united as what happened when the black
market influenced the price of bread to shoot to unaffordable heights last
People simply did not buy the commodity and to remain in business
bread merchants had to revise their prices downwards.
Heavy fines are
another possible deterrent, but as long as the profit being make by those
engaged in the black market takes care of the fines comfortably then efforts
to rid the country of the villains will be difficult.
Vandalism and theft of railway signalling,
telecommunication and electrical, as well as rail track, wagon and coach
components are threatening to paralyse railway operations in
"These acts of sabotage perpetrated by vandals and thieves, who
steal and destroy components of our railway infrastructure, compromise
operational safety and adversely affect the movement of rail traffic," NRZ
corporate affairs manager Mr Misheck Matanhire said in a statement
"Rail disruptions caused by these economic saboteurs have over
the past three months cost the NRZ about $25 billion in potential revenue,
through train cancellations at a great cost to the NRZ and our valued
During the same period, electrical, signalling and
telecommunication components worth $120 million were stolen.
seriously affected areas are between Bula-wayo and Dete as well as Dabuka and
Harare, Mr Matanhire said.
These acts of vandalism were militating
against the NRZ's turnaround programme intended to enhance its
This impacted on Zimbabwe's image considering the fact that
tourists heavily patronised the Victoria Falls train and also travelled by
train from Harare to Bulawayo en route to Victoria Falls.
of local, export and in transit traffic was also severely impeded by the
criminals, Mr Matanhire said.
"However, the Government, in acknowledgment
of the central role which the NRZ plays in the economy of Zimbabwe, allocated
$7 billion in the 2004 budget, meant to enable it to embark on various
programmes envisaged at turning around the national utility," he said. Part
of this money would go towards the installation of a vandal-proof micro-wave
link communication system between Bulawayo and Victoria Falls, Harare and
Dabuka and Rutenga rail routes. - New Ziana.