Zimbabwean businessman and Mail & Guardian
publisher Trevor Ncube says it is "heartbreaking" to see the havoc wreaked on
his home country in the last few years - as President Robert Mugabe has
worked to consolidate his power base and to teach the British a
lesson. Ncube, who was last in Zimbabwe last month, says the stories of
petrol and bread queues are very real, as are the dire shortages of
With unemployment levels of 70% and inflation
running at 600%-odd, Ncube asks: "How do you do business in an environment of
Ncube's comments come in the wake of a leaked charter
for the Zimbabwean mining sector that could see companies being forced to
sell up to 49% to black Zimbabweans.
He says Mugabe currently
purports to be in a process of trying to root out corruption among
businessmen who he alleges are stealing the country's limited foreign
exchange reserves. Ncube said this would be good if this were Mugabe's real
intention. But, he said, there was a strong sense that Mugabe was targeting
businessmen who were not sufficient sympathizers with his political party,
Zanu PF, nor needed the support of the party.
"It is a chaotic
situation. As if you are in the Titanic and the captain does not know what to
do with the sinking ship," he says.
Ncube believes that Mugabe
intends to run for and to win the next election and will then step down - but
only when he is confident the new leader in Zanu PF is strong enough to
protect him. The next step will then be to rebuild Zanu PF and the
economy at the same time. Ncube says this process is already beginning - the
International Monetary Fund is currently in the country talking about
solutions. One should interpret this as a sign that Mugabe wants to get back
into the international community and feel vindicated by winning the next
election as well, he says.
But, although normally optimistic,
Ncube says he does not see any positive developments on that front for at
least another three years - until 2007 at the earliest.
will be hope one day, but the question is how long that will take," he
ZIMBABWE, hit by perennial wheat shortages over the
years, should brace for another deficit this season.
lack of irrigation equipment, high water and electricity tariffs and poor
producer prices, have severely cut or abandoned production of the crop, used
to make bread.
Obert Jiri, chief executive of the Zimbabwe Commercial
Farmers Union (ZFCU), said there has been a reduction in irrigable land from
30 000 hectares in 2003 to 10 000 hectares this year, mainly because of
the division of farms into smaller plots during the land reform.
said some of the country's largest wheat-producing farms that had been using
such irrigation facilities as the centre pivot had been divided into smaller
units, minimising usage of the latest irrigation methods.
farmers are shifting to barley, which is not controlled, and they sell to
Delta Corporation or they grow for export," Jiri said.
It is estimated
that of the 140 000 tonnes of wheat produced last year, only 80 000 tonnes
found its way to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), while the rest was marketed
directly to millers, a development which has irked the
Players in the wheat-growing sector have warned that the
winter wheat programme, which has not been helped by the reduction in prices
of chemicals and fertilisers because of the introduction early this
year of value-added tax, was doomed.
They say it is difficult for
established commercial farmers to start any preparations before the
government, which monopolises the marketing of wheat through the GMB,
announces the producer prices for this season.
Wheat is a winter
irrigated crop grown in April and harvested in September and four varieties -
Scope, Scan, Sceptre and Scarlet - are grown in the prime regions of
Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Mashonaland Central and the Midlands
Farming industry experts said an archaic marketing system that
does not reflect rising production costs was a major contributor to
the decline in output over the years.
An official with the Zimbabwe
Farmers Union said wheat has become a high-risk crop, adding the government
has failed to respond to concerns raised by the farmers.
said the main reason for the decline in output was the continuously rising
input costs, against stagnant producer prices.
Price controls as well as
the government's threats to arrest farmers found selling the commodity
outside GMB channels have had a knock-on effect on production, forcing the
country to import wheat to augment dwindling local supplies.
needs 450 000 tonnes of wheat a season to meet its annual domestic
consumption. In 2003, less than 140 000 tonnes of wheat were produced, down
from 360 000 tonnes in 2001, resulting in severe
Zimbabwean wheat growers had weathered severe
disruptions on production caused by government supporters - who occupied most
of the prime commercial farming areas - to produce a record 360 000 tonnes
in 2001. The figure fell to 280 000 tonnes produced in 2002.
although it was still too early to forecast the 2004 output, prospects of a
better season were minimal.
"Preparations are just beginning and
fertilisers are available and affordable, but there are still problems
besieging the sector," he said.
According to Jiri, water tariffs have
gone up from $12 per cubic metre in 2002 to $165 per cubic metre this
To produce one hectare of wheat, a farmer needs about 7 000
cubic metres of water, translating to about $1.1 million for water
Electricity tariffs have also been hiked by a massive 400
Jiri said it now cost $4 million to farm one hectare of wheat -
which farming sources say yields a maximum of four tonnes - while
the government-controlled producer price is $776 000 per tonne.
government has over the years been accused of pegging producer prices of most
cereals using the Agriculture and Rural Development Authority production
costs, which commercial farmers say are very low because the parastatal does
not have a commercial orientation.
Jiri said the ZCFU had appealed to the
government to increase the producer price of wheat from the current $776 000
per tonne to about $1.5 million, which he said was a break-even
"Major factors, which encourage farmers to produce include knowing
the producer price of a commodity before land preparations. Currently,
it is very difficult for farmers to prepare, especially the
established farmers who are in business for commercial purposes," Jiri
Milling companies, which used to import about 30 percent of wheat
to blend with the local product, are now importing more than 60 percent to
keep their milling plants running, sources in the industry say.
cost of such wheat imports has skyrocketed over the past few years as the
Zimbabwe dollar plummeted against major currencies, forcing millers to push
for an increase in the retail price of wheat products.
MARCH 19 2004. Mid-morning in Masvingo, a small town nearly
300km south-east of Harare.
I sat in total awe as tragedy tore apart
what was left of unionism and activism in Zimbabwe's oldest journalistic
trade body, the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ).
Seated by the
door to the conference hall, where about 60 members of the ZUJ national
council were meeting to restrategise their general operations, I saw two men
and a woman walk up purposefully towards the meeting venue.
by ZUJ to a committee to run the annual National Journalistic and Media
Awards (NJAMA), in conjunction with major sponsors like Dairibord Zimbabwe
Limited, our committee had been invited by the union to attend the ZUJ
workshop and submit a budget for this year's awards dinner.
visitors were from the state spy agency the Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO). They called out ZUJ's national executive members. After a brief chat,
and I could hear an exchange of emotional language, the three visitors
determinedly walked into the conference hall. They were ushered vantage seats
right next to the top table. Thus ZUJ's mistake number one.
were asked to introduce themselves. And boldly they gave their "names" one by
"We are here as part of our intelligence gathering process," fired
the seemingly team leader, a serious looking middle-aged man with
one blood-shot eye and dressed awkwardly in a casual blazer resembling
a winter pyjama top and a neck tie.
The ZUJ council members, a mixture
of mainly green journalists and middle level ones, sat passively while others
clapped hands in a traditional way of acknowledging and kindly welcoming the
visitors. The deliberations continued.
The secret agents produced
their notebooks and went to work, jotting down notes and looking very much at
home. Three spies had overcome 60 easy-to-manage journalists without the
slightest resistance. Thus mistake number two.
In no time did the
level and tone of discourse among the participating journalists change. A
couple of the more "courageous" reporters showed some bravado that they could
speak their minds in the face of the spies. Some, conscious of the presence
of the dreaded spy agency operatives, immediately switched their attention
from the conference by withdrawing into their shells. Scared. Others spoke
but in self-censored language.
Although the self-declared spies sat
dead still, their mere presence effectively injected fear into some
participants, automatically freezing their mental faculties and invariably
affecting their thinking process.
Mistake number three. Time for
lunch. The three agents in tow join the participating journalists queuing for
food. They are offered free food, courtesy of ZUJ and the Canadian Embassy
that doled out millions of dollars to the union for the conference.
allowing the notorious state security agents to sit through
its deliberations, ZUJ betrayed the souls of all journalists who have
been murdered by their repressive regimes or jailed in their quest
for freedom of the press and freedom of expression.
and feeding the spies, ZUJ betrayed even its donors such as the Canadians and
other anonymous ones, known internationally for advocating freedom of
expression and association.
Allowing the CIO operatives into their
council meeting was not different from a husband who invites strangers into
his bedroom to watch him engage in sacred moments of intimacy with his
It transpired ZUJ did not have the required police consent, under
the repressive Made-in-Rhodesia-Modified-in-Zimbabwe Public Order
and Security Act, to convene its meeting.
Now that is where ZUJ's
commitment to any cause is highly questionable. ZUJ is fundamentally trade
unionism and activism. If one decides to ignore a stupid law then one should
prepare for the consequences.
During the liberation war freedom
fighters never asked for permission from Rhodesians to wage war.
just did it and at all costs. It's either you have the courage or you do not.
In modern warfare you do not compromise at the frontline. If you do, you are
dead. It's that simple.
ZUJ danced with the wolves from the state spy
agency as a matter of compromise. In the absence of police clearance for the
workshop, it meant imminent arrest for the executive. So the ZUJ leaders
found it "prudent" to sleep with the enemy to avoid arrest.
in the executive prepared to go to the cooler in defiance of silly laws that
the same journalists have condemned endlessly in news stories? No, hence the
unprecedented compromise that exposed the calibre of the people in the
leadership of ZUJ today. The chaps at the Department of Information and
Publicity must be chuckling to themselves in amusement. Such calibre of
journalists makes their job easier.
The disruption of the workshop by
the police, whom we later gathered were on standby in two large trucks,
batons, police dogs, tearsmoke and all in the vicinity of the venue and ready
to pounce, would also have meant a loss of the highly appreciated per diem
for the ZUJ executive and participants, some of whom pocketed allowances much
more than their take-home salaries. That is a critical aspect that can
not be ignored as another factor leading to the embarrassing compromise
by the union's leadership.
The allowances must have been so generous
that some of the journalists left a legacy of inebriation in Masvingo with
the resultant assault of one reporter who had a beer bottle smashed in his
face, sustaining a deep wound above his left eye, after an annoyed patron
caught the Harare scribe (from a newspaper that recently suspended
publishing) trying to force himself on the patron's girlfriend at a
local night-club. Yet more was to come.
A Bulawayo scribe (from a
Bulawayo-based daily) dropped his pants to squat on the tarmac of the
Masvingo hotel's parking bays by the reception area and emptied his bowels.
The staff, alerted by a night watchman who witnessed the horrible shame
unfolding, said the incident was the first of its kind at the resort
Dull arguments suggest that allowing the CIO into the ZUJ
meeting meant the union did not have anything to hide as far as
political agenda is concerned. Even where there is no ulterior political
motive, overt or covert, state security agents can not be invited as
observers in a workshop where journalists are meeting. It is just not
Whether they came in through the front or back door, through
the window, through air vents or through the ceiling, the attendence
of the spies is condemned strongly. The ZUJ national executive owes
all right thinking journalists and human rights champions an
In the Zimbabwean context the CIO and proper
journalists can not mix. Journalists represent light while the CIO are agents
of darkness. But the ZUJ leadership thinks otherwise. Who is fooling who? And
*.. Shepherd Mutamba is a Zimbabwean journalist based in Harare
AT the end of last week,the Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ) held
a strategic planning meeting at the Great Zimbabwe Hotel in Masvingo which
culminated in the election of a substantive secretary-general, the second
vice-president and two committee members.
CZ would like to congratulate
those who won the elections and hope they will work very hard for the good of
But still on the good of the union, CZ was disappointed to
hell and back with the nauseating behaviour of some of his colleagues who
took the opportunity to show how much mischief their grandmothers
It was really embarrassing and most members left the
venue cringing in shame after witnessing their colleagues, whom they have
always taken for normal family people, doing the unthinkable!
from those who decided to indulge in the "standard" journalistic behaviour of
spending all their allowances on prostitutes and leaving the hotel without
settling outstanding bills, this time it was taken a step
Yes, after being paid generous lunch and supper allowances, a
number still sneaked away from the hotel without paying for what they
Then there were those who chose to spend the allowances on
beer. Since beer is usually expensive in hotels, these - CZ included - chose
to explore a nearby rural development centre - Nemamwa Growth Point!
Here the scribes, true to form, drank themselves silly!
A very senior
colleague from Parade Magazine who had just been elected a ZUJ committee
member got so drunk that he urinated in his pants right inside the
Another colleague, this one a veteran journalist from the
troubled Daily News, really lost his marbles and had to be carried to a car
and dumped at the hotel. And what did he do there? He walked straight
into the hotel's reception area, opened his zip and started
As if to put the icing on the cake, the next day, Saturday,
another very senior journalist who is leaving The Chronicle's office in
Gwanda to join the National Family Planning Council as an information
officer drank too much at Nemamwa until the wee hours of Sunday, then
vomited in a colleague's car before proceeding to defecate just metres
from the hotel's reception area! Yes defecating! He actually removed
his trousers, deposited a mountain of excreta and used a toilet tissue
to clean himself! We are told on the way home the same fellow was given
a lift and upon disembarking in Mbalabala, he decided to steal some
meat from another colleague!
We are told that a lot more happened at a
hotel in Masvingo City on the way to the meeting where a number of colleagues
had a stopover to get a few free beers from some of those who were going to
contest the ZUJ posts!
Such is the behaviour of some of our journalist
colleagues! Surely no one can blame the ZUJ executive for taking a bold
decision to suspend some of these members!
BROTHER Fidel Castro
last week sent us another consignment of medical specialists from Havana - 42
of them! But we wonder - due to language differences - whether he doesn't as
yet know that the only consignment from Havana that is most welcome to
Zimbabweans are those cigars. Quite a number of our rich brothers would not
mind the price tag as long as they can be supplied regularly!
Cuban general practitioners, specialist doctors, nursing tutors, engineers
and technicians arrived in the country to join dozens of their compatriots
already causing havoc to the country's collapsing heath sector.
these people could be experts in Cuba and other Spanish-speaking countries,
but we don't think they could be described as thus here in Zimbabwe where,
with their Spanish and possible execrable English, they are posted to
forgotten areas like Chikombedzi, Filabusi, Malipati Mbalabala and such other
places where local communities cannot communicate with them, even in the
presence, if ever, of interpreters. So how do they consult? And can the
nursing tutors teach in Spanish?
Small wonder why they end up just
guessing and doing whatever they think - including removing wombs from very
young mothers without even their knowledge and consent!
But we have
much more better medical experts who are Zimbabweans . . . and this leaves us
wondering whether we still deserve to call ourselves a nation at
IT is quite amusing that while the government is still insisting
that any ordinary Zimbo who is away from home during any election will
not be allowed to vote since the postal ballot system is a privilege
only confined to "special" people in the army, police and
diplomatic missions, it is at the same time talking of vigorously pursuing
the possibility of taxing all Zimbabweans living and working abroad
in hard cash!
But the laws of natural justice would dictate that since
these people have "lost" their suffrage, the government has also "lost" its
right to collect any taxes from them! Period!
WE were quite
surprised that the man widely viewed as the Attorney General-designate, Cde
Johannes Tomana, busy like an ant as he is, would still accept "the national
duty" of probing suspended Harare Mayor Elias Mudzuri! We wonder if there is
anything that the brilliant lawyer will learn to turn down - even if the
money is not good.
Anyway, we know that diligent as he naturally is, the
AG-designate will definitely find something that will stick on the
We also hope the MDC has learnt a big lesson from
Sekesai Makwavarara who last week finally announced that she was quitting the
party after stubbornly sticking like a Savannah tick for months.
you want to build a solid organisation, you don't just pick people without
looking at their past, capabilities and weaknesses. It is a pity that the
party is choking with opportunists like the acting mayor who are willing to
sell out whenever the money is good.
IS it because of the Lotto fever
- $1.6 billion is at stake now - that we are increasingly hearing some of the
most bizarre things on earth? "Granny (101) raped", "Father in court for
raping daughter", and such other gory stuff!
After 18 weeks without
anyone getting the right combination, the Lotto jackpot is really tempting,
but we still hope that those who would choose to consult sangomas for
talismans will still retain their sanity!
CZ would want to wish
the litigious Pastor Admire Kasingakore all the best in his billion-dollar
lawsuit against a local weekly. We hope against all hope that God and all the
senior angels are on his side!
THE Attorney-General (AG)'s
Office has referred back to the police a docket on the alleged murder of
Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya, the two Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) activists allegedly killed in Buhera in the run-up to the contentious
2000 parliamentary elections.
"We have referred the docket back to the
police because there are some outstanding issues," Joseph Musakwa, the
director of public prosecutions, said. "However, it would not be proper for
me to disclose the exact shortcomings of their docket, but we have
directed the police to attend to the outstanding issues and hand over
a complete docket."
In April 2000, Chiminya and Mabika were
petrol-bombed by suspected ZANU PF activists at Murambinda growth point in
Buhera North, a constituency controversially won by the ruling party but
whose results were nullified by the High Court, citing massive intimidation
and violence during the pre-election period.
Joseph Mwale, an
operative of the government's spy agency, the Central Intelligence
Organisation, and Kainos Tom "Kitsiyatota" Zimunya, a war veteran, were named
in the High Court as the culprits behind the petrol bomb attack, but are yet
to appear in court.
Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed the
docket had been returned, but said it was procedural for the AG's Office to
do so when dealing with incomplete dockets.
He said: "It is absolutely
procedural and we are attending to the matter before taking it back to the
AG's Office, as they are the ones who prosecute."
Kitsiyatota failed to turn up in court in 2001 where they were expected to
testify in an election petition filed by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
challenging the victory of ZANU PF's Kenneth Manyonda, a former governor for
Manicaland and now the deputy minister for Industry and International
The MDC activists are among the over 35 people killed during
the run-up to the hotly contested June 2000 parliamentary
elections, narrowly won by ZANU PF with the opposition MDC clinching 57 of
the 120 contested seats.
[ This report does not
necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Mar 2004 (IRIN) - Of 67 alleged mercenaries arrested in Equatorial Guinea and
Zimbabwe earlier this month, at least 27 were former members of the South
African Defence Force (SADF). The case has demonstrated the leading role
South Africa continues to play in providing trained personnel for hire in the
The transformation of the old SADF into the South
African National Defence Force (SANDF) in 1994, under the new democratic
government, led to the "mass exit of highly skilled military personnel. Left
with no real future in the SANDF, many of these individuals capitalised on a
market for their expertise and knowledge beyond the South African borders,"
University of Witswatersrand researcher, Natashia Chhiba, told
Jackie Cilliers, head of the Pretoria-based Institute for Security
Studies, commented that mercenary activity was a "cyclical
"After the First World war, the Germans were the mercenaries
of the world; the Second World War led to the rise of the American
mercenaries; so, after apartheid and transformation, many former white South
African soldiers were looking for work," he explained.
post-Cold War era, there was a rise in conflicts in Africa, but dwindling
apetitite for Western governments to get involved in peacekeeping operations
and a limited capacity among African armies. The period also saw the
mushrooming of security firms, such as Executive Outcomes (EO).
Barlow, one of the founders of EO, in 1998 told WorldNet, a news website,
that his company could fill the "void" and was "able to provide private
counterinsurgency operations, peacekeeping forces, and the muscle for
corporations to control gold and diamond mines, oil and other
natural resources, in a variety of failed states which stretch to the four
corners of the world".
EO shot to fame during the 1990s when it
assisted the Angolan government against the rebel movement, UNITA, and helped
the Sierra Leone authorities beat back the brutal Revolutionary United Front.
The organisation drew heavily on members of the notorious 32 Buffalo
Battalion of the South African special forces (made up largely of dissident
Angolan recruits) and included operatives of the Civil Cooperation Bureau,
which was allegedly responsible for the deaths of several anti-apartheid
EO closed shop when South Africa's Regulation of Foreign
Military Assistance Act came into effect in 1999. Many of the alleged
mercenaries arrested earlier this month in Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe
have been linked to EO.
"We offer a variety of services to legitimate
governments, including infantry training, clandestine warfare,
counterintelligence programmes, reconnaissance, escape and evasion, special
forces selection and training, and even parachuting," Barlow told
Besides reportedly being able to field 500 military advisors
and 3,000 highly trained multinational special forces soldiers, EO also
owned helicopters, tanks and Soviet-era combat aircraft.
the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) Intelligence Resource Programme,
even though the firm's expertise lay in fighting bush wars, "it diversified
and reportedly operated as many as 32 companies, whose interests ranged from
computer software to adult education.
"The firm's tactic of quickly
regaining control of a client country's mineral-rich regions is
well-documented. Within a month of Sierra Leone's hiring of Executive
Outcomes in May 1995, government forces had regained control of the
diamond-rich Kono district, which produces two-thirds of Sierra Leone's
diamonds," FAS said.
"In Angola, oil- and diamond-producing regions were
the first areas secured by government forces trained by Executive Outcomes.
The firm also reportedly mined gold in Uganda, drilled boreholes in Ethiopia
and had a variety of interests in the other countries noted above," the FAS
"Executive Outcomes claimed that its sole purpose was to
bring stability to the region by supporting legitimate governments in their
defence against armed rebels. Nevertheless, rumours persisted that the firm
was connected to either the South African DeBeers Diamond Corporation or the
South African government. These claims were denied by all parties, and the
South African government tried to restrict Executive Outcomes' business
ventures," it noted.
Doug Brooks, president of the International Peace
Operations Association (IPOA) said EO was the last operating private military
company that he knew of at the time.
Brooks takes great exception to
the use of the term "mercenary" for members of the growing industry of
private military companies (PMCs). "The so-called mercenaries provide
legitimate services to governments," he said.
IPOA, the organisation he
heads, is an association of military service provider companies, including
those involved in demining operations, armed logistics, emergency
humanitarian services and providing armed peacekeepers.
definition of the term 'mercenary' is one that makes reference to an
individual recruited to fight in a foreign war. The motive is primarily
driven by profit," Chhiba said. However, with the "changing international
climate, this definition seems inadequate to fully appreciate the evolution
of the private military industry in general."
But South Africans found
to be involved in mercenary operations are in breach of the Foreign Military
Assistance Act, which prohibits the involvement of citizens in military
activities outside South Africa, without due authorisation of the National
Conventional Arms Control Committee.
"South Africa has been extremely
embarrassed by the Equatorial Guinea-Zimbabwe arrests, as it had committed
itself to put an end to its reputation has a major supplier of mercenaries,"
South African anti-mercenary legislation, which was "one
of the best in the world" has made it "extremely difficult to anyone to run a
mercenary operation from South Africa," he added.
operations, like the Equatorial Guinea-Zimbabwe saga, have managed to sneak
past the authorities because the state had only recently started implementing
the legislation rigidly, Cilliers said. He noted the recent prosecution of
South Africans involved in military operations in
Brooks observed that "very few former trained military
soldiers opt for a life in a private military company". It is not as
"financially rewarding as people think it is - an average salary of a private
military soldier could be US $5,000 a month. The amount varies according to
the work he is assigned," he said.
But the ongoing recruitment of
former SADF personnel for security-related activities in Africa was also a
reflection of the failure by the South African authorities to rehabilitate
these former soldiers, Cilliers pointed out.
Brooks complained that
the South African anti-mercenary legislation had made it difficult for
legitimate PMCs, who can provide key security-related services in unstable
corners of the world, to function.
He pointed out that South Africa,
which has some of the best-trained soldiers in Africa, was keen on building
African peacekeeping operations, "so why not use the private military
companies which recruit these former soldiers? The private companies deploy
faster, operate more professionally, act more decisively, enter riskier
environments - where Western countries are reluctant to go - and they cost
substantially less than a UN-run operation," said Brooks.
however, rejected the idea of a role for PMCs in internationally-sanctioned
peacekeeping operations. But he noted that the South African government could
usefully employ some former soldiers in more limited military observer
FUEL supplies are
still fairly low in Harare with queues forming at filling stations selling
petrol and diesel but petrol at least was being
About half of the service stations in central
Harare were selling fuel yesterday. Of the 12 visited, three were selling
diesel at $2 750 a litre and three were taking deliveries of petrol and were
going to sell it at $2 800 a litre.
Employees at some of the fuel
outlets said importers had told them deliveries would be erratic for a while
as they were facing difficulty in buying foreign currency at rates that would
make present retail prices viable. Paying more for currency would result in
higher retail prices.
Petroleum Marketers' Association spokesman, Mr
Masimba Kambarami said this week that fuel importing companies have had their
foreign currency bids turned down at the auction floor. Rejected bids are
those at the low end. The auction allocates currency to the higher bidders
Mr Kambarami said his association was looking at establishing a
"Special Purpose Vehicle Company" that would access foreign currency on
behalf of all the other fuel importing companies.
Plans to set up the
Special Purpose Vehicle Company, according to Mr Kambarami, were at an
advanced stage and it was hoped that the company would get preferential
treatment at the foreign currency auction floors.
He also dispelled
rumours going round that service stations were hoarding fuel in anticipation
of a fuel price increase.
"It is all speculation, there is no statute to
support an increase in the price of fuel because we always contact the
Government for fuel price increases.
"Fuel price increases will only
be possible if there is a change on the value of the dollar at the auction,"
Mr Kambarami said, confirming that prices would rise if importers were
prepared to bid more.
The Ministry of Energy and Power Development has
finished compiling a position paper on the proposed phasing-out of leaded
fuel and the switch to unleaded fuel. The Secretary of Energy and Power
Development, Mr Justin Mpamhanga, said although the document was now ready,
he could not disclose its contents.
"We have done everything and we
are now sorting out a few things and when we are ready we will look at
"We want to discuss things as and when they happen because we do not
want to pre-empt our plans before we are sure that they are in motion," he
If approved by all stakeholders the document was likely to be
forwarded to Cabinet for approval.
The approval at Cabinet level would
pave way for the phasing-out of leaded fuel. The compilation of the document
follows an all stakeholders' preparatory meeting organised by the ministry in
January to get views from industry on the proposed phasing-out of the
I AM really worried here. When a government goes on a lying
onslaught and then begins to believe the lies, then that government has
become dangerous. They have used many people to lie to us and justify their
immoral behaviour, torture, murder and mental siege.
Caesar Zvayi being considered a columnist. On March 23 he was at it telling
us what he really is - a Zanu PF cadre masquerading as a Herald columnist. He
tells us the first time he saluted an opposition member was when he did so
for Sekesai Makwavarara.
You have Tazzen Mandizvidza who tries to
lambast the Panorama programme which exposed the behaviour of Zanu PF by
destroying the mental faculty of our youths through indoctrination. He shows
us a youth who has learnt to hate being lifted by the president and with a
wad of bearer cheques. How did he earn the bearer cheques? By spewing hatred
and yet Mandizvidza tries to show us the young boy as a
During the presidential election there again was a little
boy who went on a frenzy ridiculing MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai at a Zanu PF
rally. Who taught this boy to hate?
The boys need guidance, they
need to be taught to love yet they are taught to say Pasi nanhingi and get
$200 000 just like when "Toilet" Tambaoga got some money for abusive and hate
language coming to us as a song against another country's
Mugabe keeps on telling us that the MDC was formed by the
British when we know the MDC was formed by trade unionists, intellectuals,
the youth, the marginalised women, and students of Zimbabwe.
PF supporters then assault the MDC on the basis of this lie.
lies we have seen people throwing conscience to the wind. A good example is
Jonathan Moyo. Look what he has done to Zimbabwe in pursuit of supporting a
lie that Britain wants to recolonise the country. He does not have a shred of
evidence to that effect. The only British blemish we see is to tell Zimbabwe
to respect human life and this to the Zimbabwe government is
Look at how they lie to the world that they are correcting
past land imbalances yet they are the same government who invited so many
foreigners to come and invest in Zimbabwe. Unfortunately most whites took the
offer as genuine. Most invested in factories and farms that the government
had declined. After establishing these entities we fight them to move off
our land - yes the land we invited them to buy.
Look how they
support Munyaradzi Gwisai. Just because he said something bad about
Tsvangirai he has become a hero.
Look at Kurauone Chihwayi. As soon
as he criticised Tsvangirai he has become the darling of the government
THE meat processor notched a pleasant set of results for the
year ended December 31 2003. In a feat of rage to the nay sayers,
the flying pig (Gavin Sainsbury did not have to go to painful lengths
to convince all that the fatty omnivore actually does fly).
has been doing well in terms of managing their pig population through their
50 percent held joint venture Triple C farm near Chegutu. Last year, the farm
supplied 50 percent of Colcom's unprocessed pork needs. The visionary move of
establishing such a project has helped the group in these times of farming
disruptions. Effectively, the company does not have to rely entirely on
an out-grower scheme.
In the company's quest to diversify its sources
of income, the company will find their multi-purpose Bulawayo abattoir coming
in very handy. The facility is used for the slaughter of goats and cattle and
in the coming year, the company is looking at obtaining halaal
certification. This would also broaden their market reach.
have, however, been encountered in the company's export drive. The exports
trend, which had hitherto grown to 22 percent of turnover contribution, is
being threatened by the lowered exchange rate and the 25 percent retention at
$824 to the greenback.
This effectively makes the blend rate at which the
company exchanges foreign currency receipts fall to around $3 200. The
company says they would require a rate approaching $5 000 to the greenback to
Hefty increases in ZESA tariffs are not helping the
company either. The company noted that their electricity bill has ballooned
to around 10 times what they used to pay a few months ago.
the company declared a dividend of 10 times cover or $18.50, showing the
company's stable cash position. 2004 is going to be the year that would put
the pig's flying skills to the endurance test.
THE mining bellwether
stock has been hit hard following the clumsy handling of investor relations
by management. First there was a story that the group had been robbed of two
truckloads of processed nickel destined for the Eastern markets in the
Instead of leading from the front, the Bindura
management left the market guessing what had really happened and the
implications arising therefrom, with the company chief executive declining to
confirm or refute one of the most pertinent factors on any serious
investor's mind. Failing to answer the simple question of whether the load
had been insured left investors with no option but to run for their
Failure on the management's part to cooperate led the press to
guess work and drawing their own conclusions. Papers went to the
country's marketing board for minerals in the country, MMCZ, whose
management also seemed to be clueless about what had happened.
press was left with little choice but to publish reports that had a cloudy
conclusion as to whether the loads had been insured. Since the headlines
yelled billions of dollars, the average Joe Investor quickly panicked and
pressed 911 on their broker lines. On seeing what had ensued the company's
managers then acted, but the company's share price had already been halved.
They published a statement that was more than two weeks overdue, stating that
both loads had been fully insured.
Hopefully, the nickel miner has
seen the light in terms of alerting shareholders and other stakeholders
wherever they require the information. It's always Mission Impossible,
especially if one is just a portfolio investor, to get the Bindura management
for an update on any developments.
THIRTY-SIX tonnes of Zimbabwean platinum concentrate
disappeared without trace in South Africa on Monday last week as it emerged
that in a flush of impatience with the spate of mysterious robberies,
the government's anti-graft crusade will have its radar locked on
the goings-on in the key mining sector.
Impeccable industry sources,
who indicated that there was a whiff of panic within the government over the
recurring robberies, said the latest victim of the unfolding mineral hijack
mystery was Zimasco's Mimosa Platinum.
A truck carrying the 36 tonnes
of platinum, whose monetary value could not be immediately ascertained, was
enroute to a South African refinery when the thieves pounced.
of the latest heist, which follows last month's theft of 40 tonnes of nickel
belonging to Bindura Nickel Company (BNC), are still sketchy as company
officials at the mine, which is jointly owned by Zimasco Consolidated
Enterprises and South Africa's Impala Platinum Holdings, remained
tight-lipped on the issue.
Both Zimasco chief executive officer William
Smart and Mimosa mine general manager Alex Mhembere were unavailable for
comment. Zimasco public relations consultant Jill Day said the company's
official statement on the matter would only be made tomorrow.
hijackings, which mainly target platinum and are quite frequent in South
Africa, have forced police in that country's North West province - dubbed the
Platinum province - to crack down on platinum thieves.
police force's specialised investigation unit has so far netted 13 gold and
platinum thieves since the clampdown began in the last week of
Almost two tonnes of platinum and gold concentrate worth 41 000
rands (about $27 million) were recovered.
The theft of the Mimosa
cargo brings to four the hijackings of Zimbabwean mineral cargo in South
Africa in the past five months as speculation swirled in the market that the
robberies could be the work of organised syndicates.
Mines' (Zimplats) Makwiro lost 56 tonnes of converter matte in October, while
gold and nickel producer Rio Tinto also lost mineral cargo late last
It is, however, understood that the Mimosa cargo was on its way
to Impala Refinery Services (IRS) in Rustenburg. IRS official Angie Isaacs
declined to give details on the matter and referred all questions to Implats'
Johannesburg head office.
"I do not have the privilege of talking to the
press, you better talk to officials at head office about that subject,"
Although the value of the stolen mineral could not be
ascertained, industry sources indicated that the platinum, which was in
concentrate form, could not have been anywhere near the US$2 million that
Zimplats lost when 54 tonnes of platinum matte from Makwiro Platinum Mines
were intercepted by impostors in October last year.
Zimplats has since
received a US$1.8 million payout from its insurers after investigations
absolved the company of any negligence.
"We understand the cargo was
mainly made up of platinum concentrate, which means the bulk of it was ore,
largely made up of nickel, sulphur, copper, iron, with the platinum group
metals, platinum, gold, palladium and rhodium making a tiny percentage of the
"But then, the robbers might have thought there was value in
the cargo," a source said.
Typically, large bodies of concentrate, in
excess of 90 000 tonnes, are smelted to produce as little as 3 000 tonnes of
converter matte, which has a higher value.
sources have also indicated that the matte, as a product, had no known use
unless it found its way to a refinery for further processing to separate the
various minerals forming the composite.
"The process of separating the
metals is extremely difficult and recovery of the individual minerals is only
possible through use of hi-tech refinery facilities and fundamentally, South
Africa has three places where white matte can be treated and these are all
reputable," the source added.
Since inception in 1995, Mimosa has
enjoyed a concentrate offtake agreement with IRS.
is conducted on-mine, with the concentrate being shipped via road to IRS'
facility in Rustenburg.
Mimosa, which is located 125 kilometres to the
east of Bulawayo, is a shallow underground mine with a depth of about 200
metres on a well-defined orebody.
The mine, which is expected to ramp
up production to 65 000 grammes of platinum by the end of this quarter, is
reported to have some of the lowest production costs in the world.
frequency with which minerals cargo from Zimbabwe is being hijacked in South
Africa has raised alarm in the ailing mining sector, with industry sources
indicating the country might have become a target for highly organised
Cases involving hijackings of minerals, all of which have
happened in South Africa in the past six months, give a picture of
sophisticated syndicates carrying out the well-orchestrated heists.
date, two incidents of platinum cargo theft and one involving nickel have
In October last year, 56 tonnes of platinum worth US$2
million belonging to Zimbabwe Platinum Mines (Zimplats) disappeared on its
way to Impala Refineries in Rustenburg, South Africa.
What has raised
eyebrows is the apparent lack of government attention and concern over the
trend that could cost the country dearly if it continues unchecked.
far, investigations into the matter have only yielded unconvincing responses
from the authorities.
But even before the dust has settled in the
platinum theft case, 40 tonnes of nickel worth $2.5 billion belonging to
Bindura Nickel Corporation (BNC) was hijacked in circumstances similar to
last year's platinum heist.
BNC, the country's biggest producer of
nickel, lost two truckloads of nickel to armed robbers in a well-executed
criminal hijacking while the trucks were refuelling at a transport depot in
Alberton near Johannesburg.
Industry sources indicate that BNC has
been exporting nickel using the Durban port for over 20 years, but there has
not been an incident involving hijacking of the mineral en route to its
News of another heist involving 34 tonnes of platinum
from Mimosa Platinum Mines has filtered through from South Africa,
further compounding the unfolding mineral conundrum.
Mike Houston, the
chief executive officer of Makwiro who will take over as Zimplats chief
executive next month, said there could be a syndicate with an ability to
re-export the platinum matte abroad.
Houston said there were only three
refineries in South Africa, all of which would not be involved in any illicit
refining activities, and ruled out the possibility of hijacked platinum being
sold inside South Africa.
He said before the hijacking in October last
year, Zimplats transported its platinum matte using the label cover nickel
sulphate as a security measure, although all the composite metals would
"A month after we got a precious metal licence from the
South African police, there was the hijack at a fake police roadblock. The
robbers, dressed in police uniform, stopped the trucks, blindfolded the
drivers and took them away, only to release them two days later when there
was no longer any trace of the stolen platinum," Houston said.
company has already been paid an insurance claim of
Houston said Zimplats had improved its security
features and all trucks were now under satellite monitoring even when they
were in South Africa.
But what has raised eyebrows is the increasing
frequency of the hijackings and the seemingly inconclusive investigations,
which some analysts said pointed to an unidentified enemy, probably
operating from within the country and who could strike at will.
player in the mining industry claimed the hijackings were being carried out
by well-organised syndicates. The player further claimed the heists were
being committed with the help of company officials, who gave out logistical
information on the trucks' movements.
"Zimbabwe is not a problem . . .
the problem lies in South Africa, but it remains to be explained why those
trucks with all the security features such as satellite monitors are being
hijacked," he said.
He said there were bush refineries in South Africa
where some of the hijacked minerals were being processed.
forming syndicates to target minerals and they have seen that there is big
money involved. There is need for networking between security forces on both
sides," he said.
Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines chief executive Ian Saunders
dismissed allegations that the robberies were the work of syndicates
involving South Africans and Zimbabweans.
"This is not specific to
Zimbabwe and I think this is just random. Naturally, we expect companies
involved to improve their security arrangements," Saunders
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena could not shed light on progress
in investigations involving the mineral thefts, but said the matter
was receiving full attention as well as cooperation from the South
A local economist said steps had to be taken to lure
investors, both local and foreigners, into establishing minerals
beneficiation plants, considering that Zimbabwe was one of the countries
blessed with large quantities of mineral resources.
"Why is it that we
cannot beneficiate our own minerals? Zimbabwe is a traditional player in the
continent's mining industry, but still our minerals are being exported in
their raw status," he said.
IN polarised Zimbabwe, no
significant event occurs without a political interpretation being ascribed to
it, and the current banking sector turmoil is no exception.
that no less than half a dozen of the country's leading entrepreneurial
bankers have left the country in the tempestuous past couple of months in the
most undignified manner has given birth to a multitude of scenarios, all
pointing to the existence of an intricate cabal.
Limited founder Nicholas Vingirai, Barbican chief Mthuli Ncube, the NMB team
of Julius Makoni, James Mushore, Otto Chekeche and Francis Zimuto, have all
left their banking institutions and the country in inauspicious
Other banking sector entrepreneurial executives, such as
Trust Holdings Limited founder William Nyemba and Metropolitan Bank
founder Enock Kamushinda have taken back seats amid the unfolding
Apart from the apprehension that has gripped the sector and
stripped locally-owned banks of priceless confidence, whispers have
since emerged that there could be more to the developments than meets
the eye, despite an evident streak of staggering imprudence and
startling corporate malfeasance.
Economic analyst Jonathan Kadzura, a
known ZANU PF sympa-thiser, said the charge of victimisation could only gain
credence if other culprits slipped through the anti-corruption dragnet, but
now is not the time to take stock as the process is yet to be
"As far as I can see, no one is being victimised. It is
just unfortunate that we had a financial sector that deviated
from international standards into untoward conduct.
"It would only
appear as though there was focused victimisation if this does not go full
"It is common knowledge that a lot of well-placed people were
engaging in illegal activities, so if some are left out, then it would give
the impression of focused victimisation. The nation at large will
be satisfied if this goes full circle," Kadzura said.
He said while
political innuendoes were almost inevitable, a close analysis of some of the
implied victims of the financial sector shake-up would belie the notion of
"You will always have political innuendoes, but look, they
are arresting some people with connections to the establishment,
aren't they?" Kadzura said.
Apart from connections to the centre of
Zimbabwe's political power, some of the victims of the ongoing purge have
made donations to the ruling party. Close to $1.5 billion raised for the ZANU
PF annual national conference was mostly accounted for by the
troubled black-owned banks.
Eminent economic commentator Eric Bloch
blames the amendments made to the Criminal Procedures Act through the
Presidential Powers, saying this law had induced a siege mentality among top
bankers and business executives.
"It means they (fleeing banking
executives) cannot stick around and defend themselves against the charges
because of the 30 days they might spend in prison before appearing in
"I have heard the victimisation speculation, but I think
the authorities are just trying to crack down on exchange
"They are just doing it in a heavy-handed manner,"
He, however, added that while the banks and other private
companies were bearing the brunt of the drive to bring exchange
control violators to book, quasi-government institutions, which were
key players in the parallel foreign exchange market, were left
"Not just the banks, but other companies also participated in
the parallel market just to keep their businesses going. However,
the biggest players in the parallel market were the parastatals.
is happening now has resulted in the total destruction of business confidence
. . . morale is at its lowest at the moment," Bloch said.
consultant John Robertson concurred with Bloch's sentiments, saying that the
government, through parastatals, had actively participated in the illicit
parallel market during the height of the foreign currency
"Nearly all the banks have committed the indiscretion, but it
would appear as though the government is selectively picking on
"This demonstrates the level of selective and subjective
accusations applied to some and not to others," Robertson said.
said the fleeing bankers were doing so because of the new laws touted by the
government as necessary and effective anti-graft legislation.
reason (for executives taking flight) is because the laws allow the
government to arrest and detain you for an inordinate period of time without
"Without those laws, I think they would stay and try to
defend themselves. I think they will admit that they did this and prove
that government itself, through parastatals, was a key customer and
even some government officials on unofficial personal business,"
Some analysts have suggested that the unfolding drama,
which has precipitated into a full-scale crisis and a sad indictment of
the indigenisation drive, called for a foreign currency amnesty, such
as the one recently implemented by South Africa.
Last June, South
Africa launched an amnesty to allow South Africans to repatriate their grey
offshore assets, with a 10 percent penalty.
By the time the amnesty
closed in November, the SA authorities had recovered about R30 billion, from
the expected R90 billion.
Most of the assets were externalised during the
twilight years of apartheid as apprehension gripped the white citizenry over
the post-apartheid dispensation.
The jury is still out as to the
efficacy of the amnesty.
Kadzura said a form of amnesty would be welcome,
although in a different form.
"We may need a foreign currency amnesty,
but after that, what? A sugar amnesty? Cooking oil amnesty and a grain
"People should be arrested, go through a trial and an amnesty
should only come if it guarantees recovery of externalised assets,"
WILL it be ZANU PF
exploiting the power of incumbency or the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) banking on voter anger and frustration that will clinch the
Zengeza parliamentary by-election slated for this weekend?
is difficult to predict given the allegations of systematic intimidation and
harassment of the opposition by ZANU PF, which has been previously
whitewashed by the MDC in urban centres.
But analysts were unanimous the
by-election to fill the seat left vacant after the MDC Member of Parliament,
Tafadzwa Musekiwa, skipped the country and sought refuge in the United
Kingdom was critical for both ZANU PF and the opposition party.
hand, they said, a win by the MDC would give a glimpse into how the party
could fare in next year's parliamentary elections, as retaining the seat
would confirm its dominance among the urbanites who have borne the brunt of
ZANU PF's economic mismanagement.
On the other, President Robert Mugabe's
ruling ZANU PF would want to win the Zengeza by-election to prove it had made
significant inroads in what is an MDC stronghold.
MDC has trounced ZANU PF in urban constituencies, riding on people's anger
against the manner in which ZANU PF has run down what was once a regional
A high voter turnout, said the analysts, could work in
favour of the opposition. ZANU PF's power base is mainly in the rural areas
where it has been accused of playing politics of the stomach by
threatening people who depend on food handouts with starvation if they do not
vote for it. The ruling party tends to thrive on voter apathy.
for the post are Christopher Chigumba (ZANU PF) and James Makore (MDC). There
is also Tendai Chakanyuka of the National Alliance for Good Governance and
Gideon Chinogureyi of ZANU, two of the many fringe political parties that do
not register on the relevance radar.
The race for the seat is therefore
likely to be a two-horse affair between ZANU PF and the MDC as the smaller
parties are expected to make little if any impact in the poll.
Zengeza poll, however, comes amid heightened fears of a marked voter apathy.
Zimbabwean voters seem to have increasingly resigned to their fate as
evidenced by the MDC's hollow victory in last year's local government and
parliamentary by-elections in Harare.
Because of the urban voters'
indifference, the MDC, which has been accused of failing to mobilise its
supporters, scrapped through with a narrow margin after its candidate Murisi
Zwizai polled a paltry 2 707 votes against ZANU PF's William Nhara's 1 034
votes in the Harare Central by-election last year. In the 2000 parliamentary
elections, the MDC candidate had garnered a massive 14 200 votes against
ZANU PF's 3 620.
It is widely feared the result from the Zengeza
by-election, if the current indifference to elections remains, could be a
replica of the September polls.
Analysts were, however, agreed this
week that despite the current electoral laws which tilt heavily in favour of
the ruling party, the MDC stood a big chance of winning, arguing that the
urban voter was unwilling to be fooled by talk of improvement in the
"People have faced severe economic difficulties and although
there is talk of improvement in the economy, it has not been adequate to
change their minds," political analyst and University of Zimbabwe
lecturer Heneri Dzinotyiwei said.
"Economic difficulties continue to
be felt and the voter will want to take punitive measures against the
government. But if people feel that there is no real solution to the economic
plight coming from the MDC, there may be voter apathy, which is a real threat
to the MDC."
Another political analyst who declined to be named said: "I
see ZANU PF doing well but not so well as to win the election. The urban
voter is too clever to be hoodwinked and it would be difficult for an
urban voter to give in to intimidation and violence and vote for ZANU
"ZANU PF don't just beat up people during the run-up to
elections; they also have retribution systems in place."
reports of violence ahead of the Zengeza by-election, another political
analyst, Alois Masepe, said there was no need for any political party to
campaign as people had made up their minds a long time ago.
of reports of violence there, one can expect voter apathy, but it is a
well-known fact that urban constituencies belong to the MDC," Masepe
"ZANU PF knows that and if they intimidate people into shying
away from polls, then they stand a chance. MDC's enemy is voter
apathy. There is no need to campaign. People made up their minds a long
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Financial bills in issue
have increased to over $500 billion in nominal terms after another
successful floatation early this week.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
Financial Bills tender which is open to the general public and other non bank
institutions had its second floatation on Tuesday.
attracted subscriptions totalling over $116 billion against an offer of $100
The weighted average rate for the allotted bids came to 316
percent per annum and bids submitted ranged from 250 percent to 370
percent per annum. This confirms the central banks'intent to maintain
the obtaining interest rates as the offer was made against a background
of a projected deficit of $153 billion.
This further demonstrates that
the bank has taken a strong stance to keep the money market in deficit and
mop up all excess liquidity from the market.
With the average rate on
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe bills attaining some level of stability and the
money market still in deficit, interest rates remained firm and largely
unchanged from the previous week's levels.
The indicative money market
rates obtainable for the week are as shown below:Tenor (days pa) Rate (% 7 -
14 days 150%
30 days 175%
60 days 200%
180 days 300%Treasury Bills Market
The Treasury bill market
has been quite dormant since the introduction of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
bills. Treasury bills have become very scarce on the secondary market and
there have been no primary issues this month.
Treasury bill maturities
have also been very thin since the beginning of the month with just over $7
billion maturing to date, however they will be heavy maturities in the last
two weeks with total Treasury bills maturities of over $98
With the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Financial Bills having been
assigned the role of open market operations, its expected that Treasury
bills will now be issued only for government funding and as such volumes
of treasury bills outstanding in the market at any one point should
be reduced.Stock market
Last week, Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited
reported a strong set of results with attributable income for the year 2003
of over $22 billion.
Zimnat also came up with better than expected set
of results with $4 billion in attributable profits. This week the market
awaits financial reports for Jewel Bank and NMB Bank.
closing ZSE trading session had heavyweights Old Mutual, Delta and Meikles
advancing to put to halt the downward slide to the industrial index which had
not recorded a gain in the current month.
The index closed yesterday, at
a level of 332 091.99. Other notable gains in the mid week trading session
were in Astra up $5 to $115 and Zimre up $1 to $13. Losses were however
recorded in M& R, Dawn Properties, CFI, Interfresh and Medtech.
JOHANNESBURG - South African
energy supplier Eskom is working on breathing new life into the Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) as it emerged this week that the company
could resume full supplies to Harare beginning next month.
Africa's Public Enterprises Minister Jeff Radebe said ZESA, which has been
battling to resuscitate power supplies from Eskom, was taking steps to reduce
its indebtedness to Eskom, a prerequisite for the resumption of
ZESA has paid an equivalent of US$2.7 million but pressure was
being exerted on the Zimbabwean power utility to repay its debt in
Zimbabwe has been facing the threat of a national power blackout
after most of its power import contracts expired on December 31
Eskom spokesman Fani Zulu told The Financial Gazette that the
South African power utility was in the process of negotiating an
agreement with ZESA for the renewal of electricity exports to
"The supply arrangement for the period commencing from April 1
2004 is being negotiated. At this stage, Eskom would not like to comment
on the substantive issues that are subject of the negotiation,"
Zimbabwe, whose electricity import contracts with Eskom
and Mozambique's Hydroelectrica de Cahora Bassa (HCB) and the
Democratic Republic of the Congo's Snell expired in December 2003, has
had problems renewing the contracts because of an acute shortage
of foreign currency.
Zimbabwe's peak electricity demand is projected
to have increased to over 2 600 MW this year from 2 000 MW last year,
according to the Zimbabwe Power Company, a subsidiary of ZESA. Electricity
imports, which meet about 50 percent of Zimbabwe's power requirements,
have declined by 60 percent since December 31 2003.
Eskom refused to
renew its contract with ZESA until an outstanding debt of US$21 million was
This resulted in the two power companies settling for
a temporary supply arrangement for 150 MW for three months from January to
March 2004, subject to ZESA paying for the power supplies in advance as
well as making part payments towards servicing the debt.
But Zulu said
it was untrue that Eskom had refused to renew its contract with ZESA,
claiming the two parties had agreed to "extend the contract from January to
March 2004 to allow for further negotiations between them".
owes HCB US$30 million for power supplies. HCB has also refused to renew its
contract with ZESA until the debt is fully repaid. HCB had been supplying
ZESA with 250 MW under the expired agreement.
Multi-million dollar mining equipment rotting at
3/25/2004 7:29:58 AM (GMT +2)
equipment worth millions of dollars is rotting at Beitbridge Border Post
after Freda Rabecca Mine, owned by Ashanti Goldfields, failed to raise the
US$700 000 tax required to clear it.
The equipment, whose value could not
be established, has been at the point of entry for close to three weeks ,
dealing a body blow to the rehabilitation of Freda Rebecca's mines in
Innocent Munikwa, the managing director of Freda Rebecca, told
The Financial Gazette this week that the company had been made to
pay Value Added Tax on zero-rated capital goods and has met
with difficulties in raising the money.
Negotiations to secure the
release of the equipment have started with the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority
(ZIMRA) to enable the rehabilitation of the mines to proceed
"We are negotiating with ZIMRA officials since the equipment
is zero rated. They want us to pay first and then they will refund us, but
the problem is we do not have the money and moreover, ZIMRA is using
the auction rate," he said.
"Freda is currently undergoing a very
expensive plant rehabilitation programme and we are struggling to keep the
ZIMRA officials could not be reached for comment at the
time of going to press.
In its 2003 annual report, Ashanti reported
that the unavailability of equipment and difficulties in accessing foreign
currency needed to import equipment had hit Freda Rebecca
Munikwa said the situation has been compounded by the fact that
the gold mining giant was being paid for its bullion at below the
auction rate, making it extremely difficult to raise the US$700
"The plant rehabilitation which we are currently undertaking is
an ongoing process and it is going to be very difficult to
continuously bring equipment into the country in the coming months," he
Freda suffered a 45 percent dip in output from 98.255 ounces in
2002 to 51.091 in the full year 2003, revealing the
industry's vulnerability to problems haunting the Zimbabwean
Management has remained optimistic that the rehabilitation of
the plant could see the company meet its new target of 60 000 ounces
of gold per annum in the year 2004.
The company said the pullback in
output was short-lived as, apart from plant rehabilitation, Freda was
stepping up exploration drilling, which is being undertaken on adjacent
satellite deposits at Promoter, Phoenix Prince and PEN-Kimberly prospects
allocated in Mashonaland Central province.
Production costs at Freda
have also gone up from US$214 per ounce in 2002 to US$268 per ounce in 2003,
making Freda the highest cash operating cost mine in the Ashanti stable.
Zimbabwe's propaganda machinery, arguably one of the most inept
in the world, has been in overdrive over the past few weeks, presumably in
a bid to influence public opinion over a couple of incidents.
the BBC Panorama programme's expose on youth militias that are notoriously
known as "Green Bombers" and have long been accused of perpetrating all
manner of horrendous atrocities against innocent citizens perceived to be
supporters of the opposition.
The second incident over which audiences
were driven to distraction when it was reported ad nauseum on state radio,
television and in newspapers was the arrest of 67 alleged mercenaries at
Harare International Airport about two weeks ago.
In spite of their
well-known heroics and ill-advised attempts to over-dramatise these events,
government propagandists only succeeded in achieving the complete
Their frantically bitter and amateurish efforts raised more
awkward questions than they provided credible answers to legimate
The net result was that instead of winning friends, these
efforts focused the spotlight on the Zimbabwean government's own
Take the attempt to dismiss the Panorama revelations on the
exploits of the "Green Bombers" and to accuse the BBC of fabricating the
story. Along with the usual macho histrionics and breathing of fire
and brimstone against the "imperialist media" and BBC
correspondent Hillary Anderson came a local component of the
This was in the form of veiled threats against some local
media practitioners who were accused of working in cahoots with the BBC,
the British Broadcasting Corporation, especially in providing
photographs of militia bases.
To top it all, some frightened-looking
youths were paraded before television cameras to recite the virtues of the
national youth service training programme. One young man, obviously unaware
of a revealing slip of the tongue, said on ZTV that as a result of the
training he now knows how to fear superiors (kutya vakuru).
question is: how can such a completely cowed and brainwashed young person be
expected to say anything other than that which he is ordered to
The contents of the BBC report were nothing new. Calls have
been made repeatedly by Zimbabwean churches, human rights organisations and
the general public for the militia programme to be dismantled so that
the youths can be rehabilitated and re-integrated into society.
The government has persistently turned a deaf ear.
It has only seemed
eager to respond over the last few weeks, albeit in its usual belligerent
manner, because the BBC placed the deadly escapades of the "Green Bombers" in
the international domain.
But how, may I ask, can the international
community believe the government's frantic denials when it has refused to
come clean at home about the real purpose of this controversial
If this scheme is as noble and harmless as it has been touted
to be, why does it continue to be shrouded in secrecy?
One sure way to
allay the fears and doubts that have been voiced would be to organise
facility tours for the media, including the BBC, to see the goings-on for
themselves. The state's insistence on keeping an iron curtain around these
youth camps only serves to prove that it has something atrocious to
The arrest of the alleged mercenaries, who have also been described
as terrorists, has done more to attract negative publicity rather
than admiration for the Harare regime. The 67 men are said to have been
on their way to Equatorial Guinea to topple the government of
President Teodoro Obiang Nguema.
Harare has done its best to hawk its
entrapping of these men by promising to sell them arms as a heroic act that
forestalled the staging of a coup against a fellow African Union (AU) member
But despite this AU solidarity excuse, the question still
arises: why should a country that has shouted itself hoarse over its
own sovereignty be so eager and quick to meddle in the affairs
of Equatorial Guinea? Could it be that birds of a feather flock
together and look out for each other?
The similarities between
Equatorial Guinea and Zimbabwe are striking.
For a start, like our own
head of state, Obiang is accused of being an iron-fisted dictator. He has
clung to power for a quarter of a century and has survived by rigging
elections, jailing and killing opponents.
He has spun a web of political
patronage to rival Zimbabwe's, enabling a small band of his cronies and
relatives to live like kings while the rest of the country's people are
scavengers like the majority of Zimbabweans.
Because of his dismal
record of human rights abuses and corruption, Obiang has been ranked by one
human rights watchdog as number six among the world's 10 worst dictators. Our
own President is frequently placed in the same category by different
As is the case in Zimbabwe, a free press is anathema to
the Equatorial Guinea regime, where only media that sing the praises of the
Dear Leader can hope to survive.
These are obviously values that our
local propaganda pundits admire and identify with. But it is doubtful whether
touting Obiang's tyrannical rule as something worth defending can win
Zimbabwe a single friend at home and abroad.
All that the saturation
coverage of the mercenaries saga is guaranteed to achieve is to draw
attention to and place Zimbabwe's own human rights and other abuses under a
POLICE have arrested ZANU
PF councillor and deputy mayor for Chegutu, Phineas Mariyapera, in connection
with the disappearance of over $150 million from the municipality's
Mariyapera's arrest comes barely a week after the Minister of
State in the President's Office responsible for the Anti-Corruption
portfolio, Didymus Mutasa, announced that he would descend with a hammer on
the rot at the council.
"We don't care who the culprits are. We are
going to treat every corruption case equally and bring the perpetrators to
book," Mutasa, a former parliamentary speaker, who bounced back into
President Robert Mugabe's Cabinet was quoted by this newspaper last week as
Allegations against Mariyapera arose from a damning audit
report produced by a government-appointed taskforce last year which cited
him as the brains behind the looting of the council funds.
the revelations, the team recommended that Local Government Minister,
Ignatius Chombo, stops Mariyapera from interfering with management of
Chegutu's finances forthwith and that the treasury department be overhauled
or dismissed. Chombo has been mum on the recommendations.
spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena confirmed Mariyapera's
"He was picked up on fraud charges involving the
disappearance of money at Chegutu Town Council. He will appear in court
soon," said Bvudzijena.
The report into the investigations further
alleged that Mariyapera, who has been on a collision course with the
executive mayor of Chegutu, Francis Dhlakama, was a crucial player in the
disappearance of the funds and the hiring and firing of key
"Employees have been recruited into cash collection points in the
name of the party ZANU PF to facilitate the theft of money from council .
. . Due to the chaotic situation, Chegutu Municipality has become
a hunting ground for thieves. If administrative and political stability is
to be achieved, the minister is advised to dissolve council and appoint
commissioners. The current crop of councillors is not fit to run council
affairs and should be barred from contesting future elections," read part of
ZANU PF stranglehold on rural areas over:
3/25/2004 7:44:21 AM (GMT +2)
what could be a major volte-face, Movement for Democratic Change leader
Morgan Tsvangirai this week raised the political stakes by threatening to
exploit the country's never-ending deteriorating socio-economic situation to
hand ZANU PF a shock defeat in its rural stronghold during the forthcoming
Tsvangirai's sentiments are the clearest sign
yet that the opposition leader could consider contesting what is widely
viewed as the watershed election despite earlier threats to boycott the 2005
poll unless the electoral laws are reviewed.
The poll is slated for
March next year and the two major political parties started campaigning as
far back as last year.
The MDC leader, who many feel has a compelling
case in disputing President Robert Mugabe's victory in the 2002 presidential
ballot, claimed an upsurge in the MDC's rural support base this week.
The five-year-old opposition party, which now feels it has the ruling
ZANU PF on the ropes due to the economic meltdown, has over the
years struggled to penetrate the rural areas where the majority of
the country's population lives. It has blamed this on systematic
bullying and intimidation by ZANU PF.
The MDC claims that for the past
four years, ZANU PF has maintained an iron grip on rural constituencies by
politicising food aid and unleashing violence using rogue war veterans and
youth militias, a charge President Mugabe's government, which accuses the MDC
of being a western front to effect regime change, strongly
"If we decide to participate, I am confident we shall surprise
ZANU PF in its perceived strongholds. Delegates from the rural areas
who attended the Saturday meeting reported an upsurge in the MDC
support in those areas.
"Rural Zimbabweans are deeply disturbed by the
political, economic and social decay that is evident around them. Their
businesses ceased to function many years ago. The cost of basic necessities
has gone up so much that many can't afford to buy essentials like salt and
soap," he said.
Tsvangirai said: "Hungry rural voters listen in
amazement to the news of food exports masterminded by Mugabe's cronies and
associates when the majority are struggling to feed their
He launched a blistering attack on corruption, which he blamed
on ZANU PF officials now busy covering their tracts for fear of the
crackdown on the rot, which many view as a mere election
Tsvangirai said President Mugabe's ministers have no confidence
in Zimbabwe and prefer to invest millions of "looted" funds
in neighbouring countries while local hospitals are
"Recent events show clearly that the rot is entrenched in a
corrupt system of political patronage nursed by a corrupt dictatorship
that seeks to cling on to power at the expense of the majority.
of the businessmen and women who are in trouble donated part of the booty to
ZANU PF regularly, the most recent case being that party's December
conference. The record is clear," he said.