Rangarirai Mberi News Editor
Zimbabwe decides in landmark poll
IT IS 48 hours before Zimba-bweans vote in an election that, regardless of
the outcome, is set to change the way their country is governed.
There is mixture of suspense and hope among voters and political players,
two days before an election in which 5.9 million voters hope to deliver a
verdict that stops the world’s fastest economic decline.
Over the next few days, President Robert Mugabe, after 28 years in power,
will find out whether his campaign strategy premised around the defence of
the country’s sovereignty, economic empowerment and his party’s liberation
war credentials was enough to convince restive voters to hand him another
five-year term despite a deepening economic crisis.
He will also find out whether it was a wise decision after all to go back on
an earlier promise to step down in 2008.
He had promised to retire this year, but later said he feared his party
would fall apart in his absence. But, ironically, it is that very decision
to stay on ostensibly to keep ZANU PF together that has now torn his party
apart and left it at the mercy of an equally fragmented opposition.
And his two main challengers, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader
Morgan Tsvangirai and former finance minister Simba Makoni, will also find
out whether their message of change and economic reform has resonated
sufficiently with the electorate to garner such an avalanche of votes as to
make any possible rigging difficult.
While sticking to his old revolutionary script, President Mugabe has
sweetened his campaign by distributing an assortment of farm equipment,
buses, motorcycles and computers to retain office.
Today, he doles out vehicles to doctors.
But analysts say these donations may not be enough to blunt the impact the
deepening economic crisis, now in its ninth year, has had on his support.
The veteran nationalist says the continued socio-economic challenges were a
result of sanctions imposed on the country by the European Union and the
United States as punishment for repossessing land from the white minority
and redistributing it to landless blacks.
ZANU-PF’s once formidable rural support will be tested on Saturday amid
indications that it might have crumbled under the weight of the economic
crisis and poor harvests. Despite being weakened by the October 2005 split,
the opposition has also capitalised on the unprecedented access it has had
to these areas to spread its message of change.
Journalists travelling with ZANU-PF campaigners have reported rare open
defiance of the ruling party by previously cowed villagers.
One meeting attended by a Financial Gazette reporter in Mashonaland West had
to be cancelled due to a poor turnout. But the MDC has held well-attended
weekly meetings in the same area.
Also noticeable over recent weeks has been the hardening tone of President
Mugabe’s campaign speeches. Facing a strongly resurgent Tsvangirai, and
embittered by Makoni and Dumiso Dabengwa’s defection from ZANU-PF, President
Mugabe has over the past week sounded increasingly irritable in his rally
addresses, stepping up personal attacks on his opponents.
In Bulawayo at the weekend, he made his most vehement vow yet that he would
not relinquish power.
He said: “You can vote for them (MDC), but that would be a wasted vote. I am
telling you. You would just be cheating yourself. There is no way we can
allow them to rule this country. Never, ever. We have a job to do, to
protect our heritage. The MDC will not rule this country. It will never,
ever happen. We will never allow it.”
A major talking point in the run-up to this weekend’s polls is the stance of
three service chiefs, Zimbabwe Prison Services head Paradzayi Zimondi,
Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander Constantine Chiwenga, and Police
Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, who have all vowed that they will
not salute either Tsvangirai or Makoni.
Tsvangirai this week said he believed these remarks did not represent the
views of the country’s security forces.
“The enemies of justice will seek to subvert the will of the people,” he
said. “But I have been assured that the majority of our armed forces, the
police and the Central Intelligence Organisation, are behind the people, and
they are committed to defend the will of the people.”
Nkosana Moyo, national coordinator of the Makoni campaign, said yesterday
President Mugabe had missed a chance to show leadership by deploring the
service chiefs’ threats.
“Mugabe, if he had any self respect and respect for voters, and as Head of
State, should have come out in public and unequivocally condemned these
statements (by service chiefs),” Moyo said.
There is much less violence compared to previous election campaigns, but
fears of vote rigging have persisted and intensified as the election
approaches, with the opposition alleging a plot by the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission and other government agencies to manipulate the polls.
“There has not been too much overt violence against the opposition. But the
manipulation of the electoral process has been moved to a higher level of
sophistication. The manipulation and intimidation has become more subtle,”
An opinion poll conducted by the Mass Public Opinion Institute places
Tsvangirai ahead of President Mugabe and even further in front of Makoni.
But another poll due to be released today, by University of Zimbabwe
lecturer Joseph Kurebwa, is likely to show a different trend.
This week, buoyed by the large crowds turning up for his rallies, Tsvangirai
said he was ready to take over as President.
“In April, Zimbabwe will inaugurate a new President. He will be a people’s
President, one who will not take away your rights, but bring peace, love and
prosperity to all Zimbabweans,” Tsvangirai said.
For Simba Makoni, the next few days will be an anxious time. The
announcement of his candidacy on February 5 generated excitement but
suspicions about his motives dogged his campaign.
The start of his campaign was bogged down by muffled criticism of President
Mugabe, but Makoni has since sharpened his attacks against his former boss
in recent weeks. However, many believe his campaign started too late.
On Monday the former ZANU-PF politburo member accused Tsvangirai and
President Mugabe of being economical with the truth in a spirited bid to
derail his presidential bid.
Makoni was quoted saying the MDC leader and President Mugabe were
deliberately using a two-pronged propaganda strategy to scuttle his
“There are two storylines,” Makoni said. “One is that I’m a Mugabe stooge, a
plant. This is a falsehood being pushed by the Tsvangirai MDC. The second,
which Mugabe uses, is that I’m a stooge of the West, of Britain and America.
“For the record, I was part of the liberation struggle as the chief
representative of ZANU in Europe. I was in the politburo until 2005, and I
was in charge of a number of highly sensitive dossiers.
“So that whole time the president kept me in a high position in the
government while I’m an agent of the West? That doesn’t make sense. He is
smearing me because we parted ways.”
Visibly tired as a gruelling campaign drew to an end this week, Makoni
nevertheless joked after a rally in Chinhoyi on Monday: “I feel I can go on
for another two months.”
Makoni has campaigned on a middle of the road platform, finding support
among those disillusioned with both the MDC and ZANU-PF. But his campaign
has been plagued by persistent questions about the “big wig backers” who
were supposed to publicly endorse him.
“It is sadly an indication of what is wrong with African politics. The “Big
Man” syndrome. The people, the voters, are more important than any big name.
He has support across the board,” said Moyo.
According to Moyo, Makoni represents the best way forward for Zimbabwe.
“Makoni understands that the government cannot do things for the people. The
government can only create an environment that allows people to do things
for themselves. He has been very clear on that,” said Moyo.
Analysts say whatever the outcome of this weekend’s vote, Zimbabwe will
never be the same again.
There are bound to be major changes in the political landscape after
Saturday. A win for President Mugabe would almost definitely be contested,
and former Information Minister Jonathan Moyo says ZANU PF would find the
Should the opposition win, as predicted by independent polls, the new
government would most likely accommodate ZANU PF in a national unity
government. The biggest concern for voters is how their economic fortunes
will turn after they vote.
AT last, some humour in a serious campaign. John Nkomo, the ZANU-PF
chairman, is said to have chickened out of a television debate with Simba
Makoni yesterday, according to senior staff at the ZBC.
The state broadcaster had invited Nkomo to a 10:30am recording as part of
its election coverage. But it appears they neglected to tell him he was to
face a debating opponent.
Upon entering a studio, Nkomo was astounded to see Makoni. He complained
that he had not been informed about Makoni’s participation and immediately
ZBC cancelled the debate, but later interviewed Makoni.
The independent presidential candidate had waited for Nkomo to arrive for
more than two hours, and was forced to cancel a rally at Stodart Hall in
Mbare due to the delay.
Nkomo was not immediately available for comment, but a spokesman for Makoni
confirmed the incident yesterday.
Last week, ZBC aired debates pitting the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC)’s Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Tapiwa Mashakada against Chris
Mutsvangwa, ZANU-PF’s “research analyst” and its Norton parliamentary
The debates have sometimes resulted in comical exchanges between ZBC’s
interviewers, especially Happison Muchechetere, and guests.
During a debate last week, MDC secretary general Tendai Biti responded to
Muchechetere’s barbs by asking him: “Can’t you smell the change? We are
going to kick butt come March 29.”
Meanwhile, the Makoni campaign has protested that the ZBC has refused to
flight television adverts it had fully paid for.
IN a landmark ruling, the Supreme Court has overturned a decision by the
Media and Information Commission (MIC) banning freelancer Brian Hungwe from
working as a journalist.
Hungwe was last month banned from working as a journalist for one year by
the MIC as punishment for allegedly operating without proper accreditation
as required by the country’s tough media laws.
Hungwe’s suspension, which was backdated to August 20, 2007, was supposed to
last up to August 19, 2008.
Supreme Court Chief Justice, Godfrey Chidyausiku, ruled yesterday at an
urgent application hearing that Hungwe’s suspension was not in accordance
with the law.
“I am satisfied in suspending applicant the MIC did not comply with Section
85 (3) of AIPPA. (Acess to Information and Protection of Privacy Act)
“The requirements of section 85 (3) of Act are peremptory and failure to
comply with them renders the actions of MIC a nullity,” reads a judgment
delivered by Justice Chidyausiku.
Hungwe, an award-winning journalist, took his case to the Supreme Court
after the High Court refused to hear it early this month on the grounds that
the matter was not urgent.
Justice Chidyausiku said in his judgement overturning the ban: “In terms of
Section 75 (2) of the Supreme Court, a judge of this court has powers to
review proceedings of intervention tribunals such as this respondent.
“In the exercise of such powers, the respondents’ suspension of the
applicant be and is hereby set aside on the grounds as a nullity.”
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
THE sixth Parliament of Zimbabwe will be dissolved tomorrow, closing a
chapter on a session in which Members of Parliament (MPs) will be remembered
for exposing the executive’s role in fuelling corruption and sweeping dirt
under the carpet.
Ahead of Saturday’s election, all presidential candidates — President Robert
Mugabe, Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai and
independent candidates Simba Makoni and Langton Towungana — have spoken
But it is President Mugabe whose record has been most damaged by the work of
the last Parliament, which proved his administration had only paid lip
service to fighting the scourge.
Addressing his launch rally at Zimbabwe Grounds early this month, Makoni hit
out at President Mugabe for openly criticising corrupt officials within his
government, only to fold his hands when action was needed.
Cases of corruption uncovered by MPs beginning in 2005, when the sixth
Parliament was constituted, were ignored, with government turning a blind
eye to Parliamentary reports that unearthed bribery, smuggling,
embezzlement, cronyism, and patronage across government institutions.
During its investigation of Ziscosteel, the state owned steel maker, the
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, Trade and Industry,
urged government to make public a report implicating top officials in
illicit dealings at the parastatal.
The session ends tomorrow with nothing having been accomplished.
A motion by the same committee also called for the impeachment of Industry
and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu for allegedly lying under oath
and flouting national laws in awarding a management contract to an Indian
firm, Global Steel, but his conviction fell away after ministers lobbied
against its adoption.
In February last year, deputy Police Commissioner General Godwin Matanga
told legislators that after they launched Operation Chikorokoza
Chapera/Isitsheketsha Sesiphelile, designed to end illegal gold panning, law
enforcement agents discovered that top politicians had been involved in
illegal gold dealings. No arrests were made.
During a hearing before the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Mines,
Environment and Tourism, small scale miners accused ministry permanent
secretary Margaret Sangarwe of promoting panning on her farm in Mashonaland
Sangarwe, who was present during the hearing, did not dispute the
allegations. But again, no action was taken.
The government also blocked a budget and finance hearing where central bank
governor Gideon Gono had intended to release a list of names of officials
accused of hoarding cash for foreign currency trading on the black market.
Late last year, a report by the Transport and Communications Committee,
chaired by outgoing Makonde legislator Leo Mugabe, questioned the tender
process in the Victoria Falls airport construction project.
“The committee observed that the tender process on the Victoria Falls
Airport was flawed. It was apparent to the committee that the authority
(Civil Aviation) was acting from instructions elsewhere,” the report said.
Still, the report was ignored.
Last year, the Public Accounts Committee reported that over the years, the
social welfare fund had been looted.
The committee’s plea for further investigation went unheeded.
In the few cases where government has pursued corruption cases, it has been
proved that most of the cases of state abuse were politically motivated.
One such case was one in which Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi withdrew
a tax retention scheme for the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (ZIMRA), saying
his aim was to end the abuse of state funds.
But when members of the Public Accounts Committee instituted investigations,
they found no evidence of Mumbengegwi’s claims, and instead discovered a
plot by the minister to get rid of top ZIMRA management.
“Your committee was told that the reason given by the Ministry of Finance to
the board chairman for revoking the retention system was the alleged abuse
of funds by ZIMRA…The board chairman said the board, through its internal
audit committee, did its own investigations and nothing of the sort was
“Also, the Comptroller and Auditor General’s report did not mention anything
of the sort,” the Public Accounts Committee report said.
With a new Parliament to be elected at the weekend, hopes are for a new
chapter in which corruption is not only uncovered, but followed up and
culprits brought to book.
Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter
A FRESH race row has erupted at the Mashonaland Turf Club (MTC), with black
members alleging nepotism, discrimination and unfair treatment by the
dominant white membership of Zimbabwe’s largest betting concern.
The MTC has historically been dogged by allegations of racism, and now
documents seen by The Financial Gazette have re-ignited the controversy.
The documents allege that racial discrimination remains rife at the
Borrowdale Park Racecourse where black members say they continue to
“Black Zimbabwean apprentices at the club are treated with disdain and are
not given the same race riding opportunities given to whites and are treated
unfairly in their dealings with their white academy managers,” a letter
circulated this week says.
“The MTC staff is poorly paid. Most of the money generated by the same staff
is paid towards horses’ maintenance and prize money, and these horses are
owned by the almost 100 percent white membership.
“It appears the board believes the life of a horse is more important than
the life of a black person.”
But MTC chairman Paul Rugg yesterday described the allegations as “hard to
He insisted the club had tried to promote racial equity in all its
“Like any club, if you want to join, you can come and join,” Rugg said.
“But it is an expensive hobby, you see. It is very expensive to maintain and
keep horses. We have an academy at the race course and we are training 14
apprentices, and a number of them are black,” Rugg added.
Only one black manager has led the jockey academy over the past two years.
Only a handful of the 100 members of the MTC, who act like shareholders, are
Black members complain about the “racist tendencies of fellow white members”,
and claim they are sidelined when board decisions are made.
“There has been no deliberate policy adopted by the members of the board or
management for that matter to try to increase the black membership of the
club,” this paper’s sources said.
They said the few black horse trainers in the industry were not accorded the
same treatment as their white counterparts. The Financial Gazette was also
told that the MTC had been reluctant to increase the number of black
The best accommodation was only available to white horse trainers, it is
claimed. Managers and their children receive free accommodation at the
However, one black manager was “thrown out of the managers’ residence where
he was staying” and was stranded in “unsatisfactory conditions” while
looking for alternative accommodation.
Rugg denied further allegations that the MTC had adopted a deliberate policy
to limit the number of black-owned businesses and individuals renting
offices at the Borrowdale Park Racecourse.
I BELIEVE that one must have the conviction and be led by conscience in
making any decision. And when one talks about these values, you cannot
discount the fact that these are ingrained in ZANU-PF’s way of doing things.
Therefore, failure to vote for ZANU-PF this Saturday would be a betrayal of
these key values.
It is these virtues and, indeed, a system of governance that brought about
independence, peace and unity in Zimbabwe after a protracted liberation war
in which thousands of the country’s gallant sons and daughters lost their
lives. Without practicing these, Zimbabwe would not have achieved the peace
and tranquility that it is enjoying today. It is common cause that one must
achieve peace to take the country forward and that is what ZANU-PF – under
President Robert Mugabe’s leadership – has done.
With that people-centred government in place, Zimbabwe has invested heavily
in numerous projects such as health care facilities, roads, schools and
other infrastructural developments that have empowered the previously
It is through these developments and indeed ZANU-PF’s people-centred
policies, that President Mugabe’s government has not only built a modernised
economy, but has economically empowered the people as well.
These projects speak of ZANU-PF’s vision and quest to empower its previously
marginalised citizens that has resulted in the emergence of prominent
business people such as Strive Masiyiwa, Anthony Mandiwanza and Phillip
Chiyangwa to mention just but a few.
With such a record, it is sheer expediency, therefore, to query ZANU-PF’s
commitment to empowering the people of Zimbabwe.
Without obfuscating our current problems and, indeed, policy shortcomings
expected of economic transition of that magnitude, it is clear that some of
the country’s problems today are self-inflicted vices and caprices of our
erstwhile empowered-actors and brothers, including local businessmen working
in cahoots with both factions of the Movement for Democratic Change.
A case in point is in the banking sector, where some owners and promoters of
financial institutions turned themselves into renegades and became overly
ambitious to the extent of dreaming to own everything under the sun. The
likes of fugitive businessman Mutumwa Mawere, who when called to account for
his actions skipped the country immediately comes into mind. Instead of
blaming himself, Mawere is now playing victim.
Unfortunately, some of the government’s empowerment beneficiaries, who
choose to conveniently denigrate the hand that fed them are in ZANU-PF, but
it does not mean that the revolutionary movement is patently flawed or
tolerates indiscipline such as corruption.
It is people, and mere individuals’ selfish choices, that soil the party’s
good name and the electorate should guard against throwing the baby out with
the bath water. In any case, it is ZANU-PF’s fight against corruption which
has netted a number of actors in the private sector.
On a broader level, one has to look at such life-changing initiatives as the
land reform programme as ZANU-PF’s drive to empirically or meaningfully
change the people’s lives. Thousands of indigenous Zimba-bweans have been
allocated land under the exercise, which Britain and its allies, with the
help of the opposition, are trying to reverse.
Personally, the land reform exercise has immensely empowered members of my
extended family and me.
Only recently, government concluded the third phase of the farm
mechanisation programme, which has helped mechanise agriculture.
Farmers who had been resettled by the government under the land reform
programme had found themselves unable to fully utilise the resource because
of obsolete farm equipment, some of it vandalised by the former white
commercial farmers. But thanks to the farm mechanisation programme, our
farmers can now till the land, harvest their crops and ensure they get to
the agricultural marketing authorities on time.
But of course, there are other exogenous factors beyond ZANU-PF’s control
such as the drought, which is now a common feature in the southern Africa
While no one in ZANU-PF and, indeed, government, has ever claimed
infallibility in the implementation of projects such as the land reforms and
the recently enacted empowerment laws, it is only the ruling party, which
has the wherewithal to undertake such projects, and whose necessity will
fully reflect with time or under future generations.
Its shortcomings, however, cannot only be ascribed to government because
there are a number of factors that come into play or ought to be considered
on its success.
The staunch opposition to the programme, meanwhile, is testimony that the
former wholesale owners of the land were not willing to let go of an asset
from which they were benefiting immensely.
Land is a permanent asset or holding that not only deals with people’s
housing and resettlement, but has everything to do with our livelihoods.
The misuse or unavailability of inputs, for instance, has been a result of
foreign cash shortages, which in itself is a consequence of withheld donor
aid or funding attached to the so-called “smart” sanctions.
In the case of the former, the greediness of a few cannot be ZANU-PF’s fault
because the party cannot be a giver of resources (to the people) and be a
monopolistic overseer of their deployment, and application too when we have
juridical institutions for that function.
This (policing mechanism) requires a holistic approach and national
steadfastness to fight such ills as self-centeredness.
While people have also misused the party’s name, those self-interested
tendencies are not reflective of the greater party’s ethos or inclination.
Therefore, I see people voting for ZANU-PF because of the vision it has for
the people of Zimbabwe. The enactment of the National Indigenisation and
Empowerment Act should see Zimbabweans getting more actively involved in the
mainstream economy in a much more meaningful way this time beyond the window
dressing board representation seen in the past.
With the involvement of indigenous people in running companies, it becomes
easier to further enhance productivity and fight inflation, which remains
the country’s number one enemy.
Some of us remain staunch supporters of the party because it is for and
represents tangible empowerment, and not the megaphone or rooftop diplomacy
of some of these fly-by night political formations.
Hence, those with a keen sense of belonging (to Zimbabwe) will not stop
voting for ZANU-PF.
Our presidential candidate President Mugabe has carried the mandate of the
people in a diligent and selfless as well as unparalleled manner across
Africa, and the broader global community, and the attacks on his persona
show the enemy’s exasperation over ZANU-PF’s resilience, solidity and
Whether there will be change of guard in Zimbabwe, it will only be the team
and not the formula. I also want to depose that such a transformation – if
ever it happens – will only come from and with ZANU-PF in power.
What will also help ZANU-PF – if not preserve the status quo – is that
having analysed the so-called opposition, an enlightened Zimbabwean
electorate and population has seen that they not only lack depth, but
power-crazed formations or factions of the ruling party. This, therefore,
means that the real ZANU-PF will not be dislodged from power.
Another critical point that we need to observe is that while President
Mugabe and a host of liberators of this country are still alive, they are
itching and will continue wanting to see through this project called
Zimbabwe’s total liberation – thus entrenching their and the ruling party’s
credentials in empowering people.
Thus, when the generals say that they will not salute anyone outside this
generation of decorated nationalists, one must fully appreciate their pains
and sacrifice for Zimbabwe to be what it is today after a bewildering, and
tortuous century under colonial regimes.
Rightfully, it is in that respect people would want to protect their gains
today and tomorrow by voting in ZANU-PF.
THE discerning analyst of an electoral process such as that underway in
Zimbabwe needs to keep the eye on the ball, be wary of the media hype and
the accompanying barrage of advertisements on the part of the well resourced
ZANU-PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-Tsvangirai), and always
remember that it is the numbers at the poll that will determine the outcome
A three-sided contest would have benefited Morgan Tsvangirai’s second bid
for the presidency. But, sadly, this is not to be.
With (President) Robert Mugabe a rank outsider with four percent or less of
the vote, the race is clearly between Tsvangirai and Makoni.
This is where the numbers game becomes central, especially if one
understands that, beyond Harare Province, which is its traditional
stronghold, the MDC (Tsvangirai) remains quite marginal elsewhere, even
though it will have made inroads in the rural areas, thanks to the virtual
collapse of ZANU-PF in the latter.
A careful analysis of the rural areas will reveal the extent to which voters
therein have moved more easily from ZANU-PF to Makoni’s Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn
than to MDC (Tsvangirai).
This is also because the MDC had in the previous elections not been allowed
a free rein by ZANU-PF and, understandably, many rural folk may not have
known of Tsvangirai and his party until this late hour.
Here is where Makoni appears to have cashed in on a rural population that is
so enthralled by this energetic man, the genuine smile that has become
almost the hallmark of his campaign, and the eloquence — in the mother
tongue — with which he has delivered his message of hope and renewal.
Those who have seen and heard him know what I am writing about; and even if
George Charamba and his people at Zimpapers and Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Holdings have succeeded in sustaining a media blackout on Makoni’s campaign,
that will obviously not have mattered for most of a rural sector for whom
The Herald /The Sunday Mail and ZBC are as scarce as maize-meal, salt and
So, I would give Makoni at least 60 percent of the rural vote, which stands
roughly at a total of four million voters.
Besides, my survey confirms in general that Makoni is ahead in the following
provinces: Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South, Bulawayo, Midlands,
Masvingo and Manicaland; and will also have benefited from the collapse of
ZANU-PF in Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland Central, even
if Tsvangirai will also have made substantial inroads into these three
Of course, the media is a thing of the urban areas, so disproportionately
exaggerated in terms of its outreach and influence, especially when the
latter is presumed national and dominant.
Not surprisingly, the pervasive impression that Morgan Tsvangirai is ahead
of Makoni is based almost solely on Harare and the media hype — not to
mention an advertising campaign the likes of which the urban areas have not
experienced during previous elections — which magnifies a candidate beyond
the reality that translates into numbers on polling day.
So, Makoni’s star does appear eclipsed behind that barrage of Tsvangirai’s
advertising campaign, which his Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn could never match given
the very limited resources at the latter’s disposal.
However, the new kid on the block should take at least 50 percent of the
vote in Harare, 70 percent in Bulawayo, 60 percent in Gweru, 80 percent in
Mutare, 50 percent in Masvingo, 80 percent in Chinhoyi, 50 percent in
Marondera and 60 percent in Bindura.
To be modest, Makoni will at least share the urban vote (of roughly two
million voters) with Tsvangirai; and considering that most of the business
and professional classes — including those in the civil and uniformed
services — are likely to view Makoni as a softer landing this time round,
the Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn man might even have the edge over Tsvangirai in
Harare province, which has a total of about 900 000 voters.
One could easily get carried away with numbers, a senseless exercise,
perhaps, when election day is hardly two days away.
All the same, this might help to temper both rampant speculation on the part
of some and premature euphoria in other quarters. But the main purpose of
this contribution is to highlight what I believe to be the qualities of the
man who should succeed to the office of the President on March 29, as well
as the historical and political circumstances, which favour Makoni’s chances
in this regard.
In another contribution last week, I made reference to Makoni’s rare
intellect, a gift, which has no doubt been the foundation of his
professional accomplishments as both a chemist and industrialist; but also
contributed to the development of those leadership qualities that have seen
him become student leader in the early 1970’s, a chief representative (in
Western Europe) of the National Liberation Movement in the late 1970’s and,
at the age of 29, the youngest minister in Zimbabwe’s post-independence
Cabinet in 1980.
The four years spent in the formative and heady days of the new State will
have provided him with enormous experience and exposure in the affairs of
government and development policy, while also preparing him for the
subsequent decade (1984-94) spent in international diplomacy, as the
Executive Secretary of SADC in Gaborone, Botswana.
With such experience and exposure to international affairs, Makoni should
have found his place back in Cabinet when he returned home in late 1994.
But this was not to be, as everything was being done by the powers that were
to keep him on the margins of the state, not least because it was during
those days, and even earlier, that Makoni was being touted, at home and
abroad, as a strong contender for the top post in the land.
So, he was expediently shunted — and, perhaps, even cold-storaged — to
Zimbabwe Newspapers as managing director, for two years during which the
company did so well and yet, at the end of which, Makoni was unceremoniously
given the boot.
There were largely political reasons behind this, some of which were no
doubt linked to the perception, especially at the highest place in the land,
that Makoni was increasingly being talked about as a possible successor to
However, this development compelled Makoni to turn to the private sector
where he has been ever since, as both a thriving entrepreneur and
farmer.Except for the two years (2000-2002) when he was called back as
minister of finance, a position from which he bravely resigned when he could
no longer work with President Mugabe. Indeed, he might have made a
difference to the flagging Zimbabwean economy had he been afforded the
opportunity by President Mugabe.
But, as I stated in my contribution last week, all these 30 years of
exposure to statecraft, international diplomacy and entrepreneurship, does
give Makoni more than an edge over Tsvangirai. This is a consideration,
which many a voter, in both the urban and rural areas, will not miss.
For, Makoni is better equipped, in terms of leadership skills, to put
together a Cabinet as part of the Government of National Unity that he has
already espoused in his election manifesto; and knows more intimately what
should be done and how best it will be effected in order to redeem Zimbabwe
from the abyss in which (President) Mugabe and his government have left our
The circumstances in which Zimbabwe finds itself today are also those
requiring decisiveness on the part of the electorate. And precedent has it
that any society gripped by such an economic and political crisis always
emerges from it on the basis of a decisive vote in which the incumbent loses
by a landslide to the victor.
It is an occasion to put aside loyalties and sentimental considerations in
favour of a decision that will ensure that the best person for the job is
elected, and elected by a landslide.
If so, then I have more than just a feeling that Makoni will emerge the
victor on Saturday. For, even if I know him better than many others, there
can be no doubt that he is the man of the moment, the one to lead Zimbabwe
out of the current mess.
Unite our nation and catapult us into the 21 century.
ZIMBABWE is a country desperately in need of a miracle.
The country’s economy is in free fall, with gross domestic product (GDP)
expected to contract further this year, bringing the cumulative GDP decline
since 2000 to about 50 percent.
The inflationary fires are intensifying, burning the economy down and
destroying any remaining prospects for an economic turnaround.
The currency is in free fall, albeit artificially controlled on the official
Government spending has been increasing at an unprecedented pace, again
increasing inflationary pressures in the economy and creating an environment
that is very difficult for business operations.
In the absence of balance of payments support from offshore financiers,
government is expected to continue aggressively resorting to domestic bank
sources for funding requirements, normally through costly Treasury Bill
instruments, which have largely been short term.
Government spending has increased phenomenally with the elections on
Saturday, as politicians jostle to pacify a restive population and seek
Last week, the money market was hugely awash with cash, with liquidity
levels touching an all-time high of $1.5 quadrillion on Thursday, against an
initial forecast of $700 trillion during the day.
The bulk of the money came from unbudgeted government expenditure, going
mainly towards financing the costly harmonised elections, as well as salary
hikes for civil servants.
This has inevitably caused unprecedented market turmoil, again exacerbating
inflationary pressures and wreaking havoc on the business sector, and the
Productivity has suffered immeasurably as a result of foreign currency
shortages, which have hampered the importation of raw materials, spares and
The failure by manufacturers to source scarce foreign currency from the
official market has driven them to the parallel market, where the exchange
rate for the Zimbabwe dollar is significantly depreciated.
This has resulted in companies picking up huge costs due to the daily
movements of the parallel market exchange rates.
Inevitably, they have to pass the higher production costs to consumers,
supplying fuel to the inflationary fires.
Yet this week, government again ordered retailers and manufacturers to
reduce prices, alleging profiteering on their part.
The most ominous accusation against the business community has been that
from President Robert Mugabe. He accused the business sector of collusion
with imperialist forces working to unseat his government from power.
Price increases, he said, were meant to create social unrest and make his
The business community has previously denied colluding with external forces
to destabilise the economy and agitate people against the incumbent
government, insisting price increases were being “triggered by an
unprecedented increase in the price of inputs apparently influenced by the
informal exchange rate”.
But on Thursday, they passively allowed government to railroad them into
reducing prices further.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president, Callisto Jokonya, described
the meeting at which the business community was asked to reduce prices as
“cordial”, maintaining, however, that there was “no doubt that business,
especially formal business, was complying with NIPC (National Incomes and
Pricing Commission) prices”.
The NIPC is the government agency responsible for the pricing of commodities
under a draconian price control regime adopted by the government to deal
Jokonya deliberately ignored the fact that at least two executives from key
milling companies were recently arrested by the police for alleged price
control violations meant to protect their businesses from collapsing.
Instead of the business community challenging government to put in place
proper policies for companies to operate, they docilely agreed to reduce
prices and toe the government line.
Accusations against the business community totally ignore the fact that poor
government policies are destroying business, creating speculative tendencies
in the economy.
Clearly, government has been its own worst enemy, and it is business that
should protest at government policies that are undermining their well-being,
as well as that of millions Zimbabweans toiling to eke out a living because
they have lost their jobs, and have been robbed of a future because of
rampaging inflation stoked mainly by government profligacy.
Inevitably, the latest round of price controls will result in depleted
supermarket shelves – if they are not empty already from the effects of a
June price blitz decreed by the government last year.
The effect of price controls has always been to fuel shortages in the
Basic economic arguments note that price controls eventually hurt the entire
Government is arguing that retailers should not hike prices on their
shelves, even when the cost of replenishing stocks is escalating daily.
Naturally, if retailers are forbidden from charging economic prices, they
will eventually be unable to buy from the suppliers.
If the suppliers cannot sell their goods to retailers at viable prices, they
will quit buying from farmers who will be stuck with products they cannot
sell in the marketplace.
Consequently, they might stop producing the controlled products, creating
shortages on the market.
The effect of this on a market already lurching from acute shortages should
have been enough to dissuade government from imposing a unilateral price
The economy needs policies meant to move it forward, and not piecemeal
reactions that fail to deal with the key problem hurting this economy —
Njabulo Ncube Political Editor
FRESH allegations of attempts to rig this weekend's elections have emerged,
with Morgan Tsvangirai's camp of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
claiming a forensic audit of the Harare North constituency had revealed 8
000 ghost voters.
There is also further controversy from revelations by police officers at
General Police Headquarters (PGHQ) of attempts to subvert their vote.
It is claimed that during postal voting, envelopes arrived bearing their
force numbers, making it difficult for them to freely exercise their right
These claims escalate a raging fight between the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC) and opposition groups over the printing of 9 million ballot
papers for each of the four elections namely presidential, parliamentary,
senatorial and local government, against a total of 5.9 million registered
A document availed to The Financial Gazette details how police officers at
PGHQ, the seat of Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, are angry that
postal voting "does not take place in a secret place" but in the presence of
a "Chief Clerk".
When approached for comment this week, Wayne Bvudzijena, the police
spokesman, said he would need to check on the reports.
"I don't know about those allegations. I am also yet to get my envelope,"
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) applied for 8 000 postal ballots for the
George Chiweshe, ZEC chairman, told observers from the Electoral Commission
Forum and the Southern African Develop Community (SADC) on Tuesday that the
police postal votes were already being processed.
Chiweshe said the ZRP was the only government institution that had applied
for postal votes, dismissing reports that the army and other state security
agencies had voted days ahead of the elections.
Tendai Biti, secretary general of the MDC, said his party had also been
alerted to the controversy regarding the police vote.
He feared ZANU-PF would use the police and other security arms to facilitate
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa however dismissed the MDC's allegations
of vote rigging.
In a lengthy interview with the ZBC on Tuesday, Chinamasa claimed the main
opposition was already seeking a scapegoat for what he believes to be their
"They (MDC) are preparing the ground to explain their defeat," said
He also dismissed MDC claims that ZEC was biased. He said the MDC had
nominated its own candidates to the ZEC board under SADC mediated talks, but
said there was an agreement there would be no disclosure of which board
member was nominated by which party.
"There are MDC members on the ZEC board. Tsvangirai knows who they are."
He dispelled fears of post-election violence should President Mugabe and
"The majority cannot revolt against itself. There will be no violence. The
MDC will be wiped out politically."
Biti said Chinamasa’s utterances were self-delusion.
The MDC has lodged four urgent High Court applications to force ZEC to avail
details on the number of ballot papers printed for the polls, release an
up-dated voters' roll, explain the reduction of the number of polling
stations in urban areas as well as address concerns about multiple voting.
A forensic audit of a printed version of the voters' roll in Harare North
has unearthed 8 000 ghost voters registered under an empty stand in a bushy,
"It is the eve of the polls, but we still have all these discrepancies and
disputes with ZEC but they are refusing to address them," said Biti. "There
are millions of dead voters who we fear ZANU-PF will use. We have written to
ZEC on how they intend to prevent multiple voting and to ask about what ink
is going to be used. They have remained mum. We have been left with no
choice but to seek recourse from the same courts in which we do not have
confidence," he said.
The opposition has also taken issue with the latest ZEC requirement that
only one election agent will now be allowed into a polling station due to
congestion as a result of four polls running concurrently and in one day.
Biti, citing Section 55 of the Electoral Act, said each presidential,
parliamentary, senatorial and local government candidate is entitled to have
his or her election agent, including during counting.
"But one person cannot cover four elections. It is in these areas that we
suspect further rigging will take place."
The MDC has also raised concerns over the counting of ballots, especially
for the presidential polls.
Chiweshe said on Tuesday counting would be done in every ward, but that the
final announcement of the results would be at the National Command Centre at
the Harare International Conference Centre.
"The law is clear that the chief elections officer announces the results of
the presidential elections," said Chiweshe.
The United States said this week that the actions of the Zimbabwean
government made free and fair elections impossible.
"We call on the Government of Zimbabwe, including the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission, to take concrete actions to address these significant
shortcomings, including respecting the human rights and fundamental freedoms
of the Zimbabwean people. Despite these obstacles, we encourage all
Zimbabweans to exercise their democratic right to vote in a peaceful and
orderly manner," the US government said in a statement released yesterday.
Reports about the irregularities come as South African Members of Parliament
(MPs) deployed in Zimbabwe under the SADC observer mission have been warned
against issuing independent statements that could contradict the Angolan-led
Ambassador Kingsley Mamabolo, foreign affairs deputy director-general for
Africa, told journalists this week that unlike in the past when Pretoria
sent its own observer team, the South African MPs must accept that they were
in Zimbabwe as representatives of the SADC mission, and not as individuals.
They will be expected to be guided by the SADC code of conduct, which meant
that they would "not seek to score cheap political points" by pronouncing
their individual views.
Instead, they should share the sentiments that would be expressed by "the
SADC collective" after the elections.
"It should be understood that they are not going to Zimbabwe to endorse any
situation, but to objectively monitor the elections," Mamabolo said.
He said there was nothing to stop the ruling African National Congress or
other parties from sending their observer teams, which could then express
their own views about the elections to serve their particular political
"We are part of the collective that in the end must be guided by the SADC
code of conduct and must take ownership of the decisions of the mission," he
The SADC delegation will be expected to spare no effort in intervening where
This was to ensure that Zimbabwe's stakeholders were left in no doubt that
the delegation acted fairly when dealing with their concerns and complaints.
Rangarirai Mberi News Editor
CHARLES Sigudu knows more than most just how spectacularly the once
formidable walls that once protected ZANU-PF rural strongholds have
He is one of those responsible for bringing them down.
We meet at Mamina, a crumbling rural centre at the end of a lonely, bumpy
dirt road, inside Mhondoro-Ngezi, a poor rural constituency held by ZANU-PF.
Sigudu is standing for council for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Three years ago, representing the MDC here would have been certain to
attract beatings or even death.
But now Sigudu is standing at the centre, with six of his colleagues, all
decked out in brand new MDC T-shirts and carrying reams of campaign posters.
He describes how meetings with villagers over the past few months have
eroded the image of ZANU-PF’s invincibility here. Villagers now openly defy
the ruling party.
The opposition has been able to campaign here more freely than in any other
previous elections, he says, although ZANU-PF activists still try to
“We are being harassed. A car we hired was stoned, and they block roads to
prevent us from getting to meetings,” Sigudu says.
But the opposition activists are not deterred.
As with most other rural areas, the yearning for change is now more palpable
here than it ever was.
For long closed to any other campaigns and fed only ZANU-PF’s stale slogans,
rural villagers across the country have been taken in by the opposition’s
lively campaigning. Unable to resort to violence, ZANU-PF has little to
defend its territory by.
“We are winning and they know it,” says a young, female activist for MDC
Mhondoro-Ngezi Parliamentary candidate Rombo Mangwiro.
“This time they are going nowhere. They know it.”
Crop yields have been poor this year, and the community’s desperation is
In baking midday heat, hungry villagers stand idle at Mamina, their only
preoccupation being the new MDC and Simba Makoni campaign posters festooning
the walls of crumbling, empty stores.
Down the road, I arrive at the local Grain Marketing Board depot. This is
peak harvesting season, but the depot sits empty and abandoned.
The wood stacks that at this time of the year should be creaking under the
weight of tonnes of freshly harvested grain are decaying and termite ridden.
But on the other end of the depot lies ZANU-PF’s secret weapons. These are
the ploughs and disc harrows that the ruling party is confident will be
enough to save its seat.
Just outside Mamina, I meet Bright Matonga, the Deputy Information and
Publicity Minister who is MP for the constituency, and I ask him about the
“Call it vote buying, call it what you want. But we are empowering our
people,” he says.
I put it to him that the starvation here, coupled with unprecedented access
for the opposition, should be giving him a fright.
But he is genuinely confident: “In the last election, I won 17 000 votes to
2 000. I don’t think this will change. In fact, with the programmes I have
been running here, there’s absolutely no way I can lose. No way.”
He mentions how he has stocked the local hospital, how he has put 700 of his
constituents on ARV treatment, and his support for local schools.
But there is no doubt where his strength really lies; it’s all in ZANU-PF’s
Half an hour later, there’s some confirmation of this when I meet Chief
Murambwa, an energetic and vulgar man.
The chief waxes lyrical about his brand new pick-up truck, his tractor —
“the biggest in all of this area”, he says — and his modern home, complete
with electricity and even a satellite dish.
He throws his arms around and paces up and down to demonstrate his
enthusiasm for the farm mechanisation programme.
“You are the journalist,” he says, “Tell me, do you know of any other
leader, anywhere in Africa, who has ever done this for his people?”
I seek his opinion on the MDC. Apart from the mandatory “MDC wants to return
land to the whites” refrain, Murambwa reveals his frustration by describing
opposition activists in unprintable terms.
He says most of the MDC activists in the area are “our sisters’ children”
who fled the cities in 2005 after Murambatsvina.
But he acknowledges government has been slow to act on what he admits to be
a desperate food situation in his area.
“First, we had too much rain. Then we had a long dry spell. Normally, all
this land that you see here should be brimming with crops.
“This year, we have nothing. My people are hungry. I think there could have
been more speed in bringing food here,” he says.
Still, he insists ZANU-PF means more to him than just a tractor and a
“ZANU-PF is the only party that can guarantee our traditions,” he thinks.
Rangarirai Mberi News Editor
THE run–up to Saturday’s election has been riveting, but the post–election
period could yet turn out to be even more important.
A win for each of the three very different candidates, President Robert
Mugabe, Morgan Tsvangirai and Simba Makoni, will attract very different
reactions, and would usher in very different directions in the way the
country will be governed.
ZANU–PF would never admit it, but even for those within the ruling party,
the prospect of another term under President Mugabe is the ultimate
nightmare. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, not exactly the world’s foremost
authority on free elections, says leaders should hang on to power until they
solve all their country’s problems.
He does not say whether this also applies to cases where the leaders are
seen as the authors of those problems, or when their propensity to make
calamitous decisions has been increasing with each year they cling to power.
South Africa has said Zimbabwe cannot afford yet another disputed election
result. But watching how the campaign has gone, any victory for President
Mugabe can only be disputed. Which means we are back to the old; political
stalemate, economic decline, and South Africa once again reluctantly wading
in to “mediate”.
ZANU–PF has avoided direct talk on the economy in this campaign, instead
harping on the need to protect “the revolution”; the same revolution the
party itself has eroded and cheapened into a comical affair defended by an
assortment of louts and randy bishops.
Every night on TV, this once glorious “revolution” lines up women who, like
attention–starved concubines, shake their booties to badly remixed war
songs, all in the name of defending the land.
To many, the prospect that such seemingly harmless insult should continue
for another five years will be enough to wake them up very early on
Saturday. But most important to Zimbabweans, a new term for President Mugabe
would be disastrous news for the economy.
After 28 years, President Mugabe heads into Saturday carrying heavy baggage;
world record inflation, a near worthless currency and a once robust industry
crippled by his policies and threats.
After 28 years, it is unlikely that ZANU–PF will suddenly find it within
itself to run the economy efficiently.
Inflation currently stands at 100 000 percent. Where would it stand at the
end of President Mugabe’s next term? Scary thought.
President Mugabe is after “a resounding victory”. But if he only pulled 56
percent of the vote at the end of an election fraught with violence in 2002,
he is unlikely to pull off a big win from a campaign in which the opposition
has chipped away at what once were his impenetrable rural strongholds.
President Mugabe wants a big win, not only to send a message to those
“maBritish”, but also to remain in control of ZANU–PF.
His claims that he leads a united party went out the window with the
defection of Makoni and Dumiso Dabengwa. So a bad outcome - such as a
razor-thin win - sets up the possibility of even more infighting within
On one hand would be the few inside ZANU–PF, cowed but quietly aching for
reform. A poor electoral showing can only embolden them. But on the other
hand would be President Mugabe, who would blame any poor performance on his
lieutenants. He would attempt a cleanout of those whose loyalty he
questions, but this would only split his party further.
Should ZANU–PF decide it needs a new leader, Emmerson Mnangagwa, with the
rival Mujuru faction in disarray, looks best placed to step in. But a dark
horse could yet emerge.
Morgan Tsvangirai wins
One thing is for sure. Whatever happens after the announcement of a
Tsvangirai win, it is safe to assume it would include a mixture of wild
parties, copious amounts of hope, and a good measure of uncertainty. But
Zimbabweans have never changed a government, at least not since 1980, so
they might not know what to expect after the partying is done.
But this uncertainty would quickly give way to hope, should Tsvangirai show
a steady hand.
There are many that would accept his leadership, but yet remain deeply
suspicious and disdainful of Tsvangirai, but he would need to let go of the
vindictiveness and divisiveness that have been the hallmark of his
leadership of the MDC over the past three years to win them over.
His biggest task would be to rally interests that he might be opposed to now
around the common cause of taking the country forward. He would need the
immediate loyalty of the existing bureaucracy, as the parlous state of the
country would need him to get to work immediately.
Tsvangirai said recently, he would be willing to form a government of
national unity if this would help unite the country and end polarisation.
Tsvangirai would also face pressure from hardline supporters to take
recriminatory action against his opponents, which are his former MDC allies
He would also be under pressure to please the various interests that have
backed his candidacy over the last decade; labour unions, big business,
donors, ordinary workers and even white farmers. He would also have some
serious work to do to fight corruption, both by remnants of the old
administration, and by members of his new government, excited by power and
eager to reward themselves.
In the immediate wake of a Tsvangirai win, there would be obvious questions
about the security of his government. The fears arise from comments by three
top security men that they would only salute President Mugabe.
But it is unlikely that Paradzayi Zimondi, Constantine Chiwenga and
Augustine Chihuri have the broad support from the rank and file of the
uniformed forces to really stand against the popular vote. It is more likely
they will be first in line to salute Tsvangirai.
Stabilising the economy would be Tsvangirai’s immediate priority. Tsvangirai’s
well funded campaign has shown he has the strongest support from big
business and other external interests among the three main candidates.
He promises swift economic recovery, underwritten by US$10 billion in
offshore support. However, all this would depend on his own policies,
especially the composition of his cabinet and how he handles the transition.
Fears of violence after a Tsvangirai win have been heightened after
President Mugabe said he would “never, never” accept defeat. But it is not
likely the President will successfully cling to power if he loses on
Should he try to resist, pressure on him to step down would be brought to
bear from inside his own party and from the region, most notably SADC.
A win for the former finance minister would be a massive upset against a
deeply entrenched incumbent on one hand and, on the other, a more
experienced campaigner who has built grassroots structures over the past
More likely is Makoni being a major player in a run–off. Who would he
support? But in the unlikely event that he does win, as would be the case
with a Tsvangirai victory, stabilising the economy would be central to
Makoni’s new administration. Makoni has said his first task would be to set
up what he calls a “national authority”, in effect a government of national
authority, that would “harness the various energies of our people” towards
lifting the country out of crisis.
But Makoni would find this very difficult to achieve, given the deep
polarisation of the country.
However, unlike Tsvangirai or President Mugabe, who would have the choice of
either employing former opponents or picking their governments from their
own parties, Makoni’s independent candidacy makes a unity government
He would face the tough task of picking a government balanced enough to both
achieve his goal of uniting the country, and to gain domestic and
international confidence in his recovery plan.
Makoni has said over the past two weeks that he would never return to
ZANU–PF. “Why would I do that,” he asked an interviewer.
But there are many who believe that, in the event that he won and President
Mugabe is compelled to step down as ZANU PF President, Makoni could well be
asked to return to the ruling party as its new leader. Others say, though,
that if he does win the election, it is ZANU–PF that would need him more
than he would need the party.
Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter
ECONOMIC analysts have warned that government’s directive this week that
companies revert to prices prevailing before this month’s civil servants
salary hikes could result in another round of shortages of basic
Government engaged business in a grueling battle for control of commodity
prices this week after President Robert Mugabe, who is seeking re–election
for a sixth term, condemned companies for increasing prices ahead of
elections on Saturday saying the price increases were meant to force his
government out of power.
In the past two weeks since government announced a 754 percent increase in
civil service salaries, producers and retailers had significantly raised the
prices of basic commodities, most of which had been going up daily.
For instance, the price of a two litre bottle of cordial that cost $15
million two weeks ago had increased three fold to $45 million this week,
while the price of a loaf of bread shot up to $25 million on the illegal
parallel market, from about $6 million. The price of a soft drink, which
cost $4 million a fortnight ago also raced towards $10 million.
While the business community has cited higher overheads as the reason for
the price increases, President Mugabe has alleged the increases are meant to
create social discontent and consequently unseat his government from power.
This week, he threatened to make companies suspected to be at the forefront
of the price increases the prime targets of takeovers under the recently
enacted National Indigenisation and Empowerment Act.
The controversial Act empowers the government to compel foreign–owned
companies to cede at least 51 percent of their shareholdings to local
President Mugabe has reiterated that he was not making idle threats,
insisting the takeovers would be implemented after the elections.
On Tuesday, on orders from President Mugabe, the Ministry of Industry and
International Trade and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe met the business
community and gave unequivocal directives for the slashing of prices to
pre–civil servants salary adjustment levels.
And after the meeting, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) vowed
to comply with President Mugabe’s instructions.
CZI President Callisto Jokonya said the industrial body was law abiding and
would tell members to revert to approved prices.
“As a law abiding organisation, CZI is calling upon its members to comply
with the laws of Zimbabwe, including the respect of and adherence to
officially approved pricing of commodities by both the manufacturing and
retailing sectors,” the CZI chief said.
“We cannot be held accountable. We do not have control over the distribution
chain. We are not security forces, but the government should arrest anybody
breaking the laws,” he told the journalists. But economic analysts said
President Mugabe’s directives were political rhetoric meant to improve his
image ahead of the polls.
They said forcing companies to reduce prices could further fuel the black
market, where prices are much higher than in the formal retail outlets.
“The timing of the price slashes is political,” said independent economic
analyst John Robertson.
“The President wants to demonstrate that he has massive authority, but...I
suspect that he is not going to find the results he is looking for,” said
“(The price reductions) will not improve his image. Even if the CZI wants to
comply its members will not comply because this will mean (losses for
manufacturers ),” said Robertson, arguing that selling goods at a discount
on the cost of production would result in company closures.
“You and I will not get what we want from the shops even if the prices are
low. When prices went down last year, the people did not get the goods. This
is going to be repeated,” said Robertson.
Another banking sector economist who declined to be named agreed.
He warned that the government’s frequent threats to arrest businesspeople
would not stop the price increases and inflation.
“We will see more firms shutting down, not completely but just closing their
plants to reopen after the environment has improved,” the economist said. We
are looking at the total depletion of goods from the shops.
There are companies with positive prospects about Zimbabwe’s future who will
continue producing at a smaller scale until after the elections so that they
are seen to be supporting the government. Yet they are not; they will just
be monitoring the environment because no one can support this chaos.”
“Trends and history have shown that the government cannot end hyperinflation
through price controls. Many governments have tried that and they failed,”
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
“March 29. Everyone at his place, Mugabe to the land, Simba Makoni to
Finance and Morgan to State House, vote wisely,” so says a text message
widely circulated on mobile phones this week.
So pregnant with emotion is the mood in Harare, just two days before the 5.9
million registered voters cast their votes on Saturday.
Many are full of anticipation while others are approaching election day with
caution, probably as a way of keeping their blood pressure under control, in
case the election outcome does not turn out to be what they expected.
The Financial Gazette went on to the streets of Harare to hear the people’s
views and thoughts on this weekend’s general elections.
Although many could not conceal their zeal to vote on March 29, they
remained distrustful of the electoral process, which they said could be
manipulated in favour of the ruling ZANU–PF.
A majority of those interviewed were convinced that the election will bring
change, most saying Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) president, Morgan
Tsvangirai is likely to win.
Tonderai Mutizwa, a wholesale worker, expects nothing short of change from
the election. He says if the ruling ZANU–PF party wins, that would be a
confirmation that rigging was resorted to.
“(President) Mugabe will not win this election unless he rigs. We are
waiting for change next week, what might stop us is that (President) Mugabe
might rig the elections.
“Things are being changed everyday and now we are being told that teachers
will not be allowed to conduct elections, it’s confusing,” said a despondent
Just a few metres from Mutizwa’s humble workplace along Mbuya Nehanda Street
is a teeming bus station, Market Square.
“I have no doubt that Tsvangirai will win but I fear that soldiers will not
accept the result as they have already said.
“I want this election to change the circumstances of my family, I know
whoever comes in will not be able to put food on my table, but I want a
conducive environment where I can work and feed my family,” said Godfrey
Tasara, a bus driver.
Eunice Sigauke, a shop assistant and street vendor, wants the elections to
“All I want is change for the better and this change should come peacefully.
We cannot continue to have running battles on the streets of Harare with the
police, things are tough for us but vending has been criminalised and we
wonder how these leaders want us to survive.,” said Sigauke, a single mother
George Madawo, a crippled vendor, said he took up street vending to escape
poverty. But he hopes the elections change his circumstances.
He does not trust Simba Makoni and thinks he is a proxy for the ruling
“I am on the streets because of poverty. I used to work at a factory but
this became pointless because the money was just not enough. I will be
fighting for change when I go to vote on Saturday,” said Madawo.
Tecla Muzezewa, a trendy shop owner and foreign currency dealer, had no kind
words for the current leadership.
A ZANU–PF supporter who refused to be named said no–one had the capability
to turn the tables on President Mugabe.
Those rooting for the opposition would be disappointed after the results are
“You will be very disappointed next week because ZANU–PF will win this
election. No one has the capability to defeat President Mugabe. In fact any
expectation of change is a day dream,” he said.
With the air pregnant with expectation. Harare residents will find out after
Saturday whether Tsvangirai , Makoni or President Mugabe will occupy State
Our Bulawayo Bureau Chief Charles Rukuni reports that the election mood in
Bulawayo is confusing.
Though there is a popular feeling that independent candidate Simba Makoni
could win more votes than Tsvangirai in the presidential race, most people
have written off his election partners, the Arthur Mutambara faction of the
Mutambara is not contesting the presidential poll. He is backing Makoni.
Observers say if President Mugabe fails to win an outright majority in the
first round, he does not stand a chance in the second.
Zimbabweans cannot wait a day longer
ZIMBABWEANS face a major decision on Saturday. That decision is an important
one to all of us in that it will change our lives, the lives of our children
and those of our grandchildren forever.
It is a decision that will determine the price and availability of bread
after March 29. It is a heavy albeit important generational responsibility
that we are all carrying. I have no doubt that we have carried so many other
heavy responsibilities in our lives, but this one is different.
On March 29 we cannot afford to make a mistake. March 29 determines our
future. If our future is dependent upon what we do on that day then we
cannot experiment with our future by making a trial and error decision.
We have to make an informed decision. I have rationalised issues as a
citizen, a voter and a candidate and made up my mind about what I am going
to do on that day.
I believe that many Zimbabweans share my decision across the rural and urban
divide. Zimbabwe is a Presidential government and I hereby share my secret
with you that I am going to vote for Morgan Tsvangirai and the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
The majority of Zimbabweans are going to vote for Tsvangirai because they
know what he stands for and they are comfortable with it. They will vote for
Tsvangirai because they know that he has a solid parliamentary and local
government team of candidates that is bound by the same social democratic
principles and values and is ready to govern with him and thus achieve
political and economic stability.
They will vote for Tsvangirai because they know that unlike his competitors
the party that he leads has a viable and comprehensive policy and economic
blue print, which was launched two weeks ago. They will vote for Tsvangirai
because for as long as they have known him he has stood by the majority of
Zimbabweans in their fight against the ZANU-PF dictatorship.
They will vote for Tsvangirai because they know that if by some miracle or
downright fraud the MDC does not get into government on March 30 he will not
disappear to some comfort somewhere and reappear 30 days before an election
to offer himself to the people of Zimbabwe as President.
He will remain in the trenches with the people who will in turn offer him to
take up the country’s Presidency as the People’s President. MDC won the
2000, 2002 and 2005 elections and will win the 2008 elections.
Zimbabweans will vote for Tsvangirai because he represents the change that
they want, the change that they know, and the change that they can trust.
I believe that the change that the majority of Zimbabweans yearn for is
change that results in the total transformation of our society and not a cut
and paste job motivated by a reform agenda.
This dictatorship is a cult and culture that can neither be reformed nor
panel beaten, but can only be overhauled. Zimbabweans now know that you
cannot change this culture by replacing the cult leader of a mafia with a
former initiated member of the cult and expect the mafia to now start paying
They also know that replacing a coal shunted locomotive in Dabuka, Gweru
with an electric one does not change the cargo or route of that train.
Any attempt to reform this dictatorship can therefore be likened to putting
lipstick on a frog. Zimbabweans across the rural and urban divide are now
conscious that they need to make our society better by dezanufying it and
not to make ZANU-PF in whatever form better for our society.
Zimbabweans know that they cannot wait for a day longer to put bread on the
table for their children. They will vote for Tsvangirai because he has tried
and tested political support and thus a better chance of unseating
(President) Robert Mugabe.
They will not waste their vote, which can make the difference between change
and the status quo by experimenting with it. They will vote for Tsvangirai,
because he represents the future and (President) Mugabe the past and Morgan
Zimbabweans will not vote for (President) Mugabe because he has failed and
does not represent any change including the change that they do not want.
They will not vote for (President) Mugabe because he cannot do anything
better this time around that he and his team of leaders failed to do in 28
years or worse still this week.
They will not vote for (President) Mugabe because he has not only destroyed
what he inherited but also what he built. They will not vote for (President)
Mugabe because in his manifesto he is promising nothing except to defend
that which is not under attack — our land and the people’s sovereignty. The
people want and deserve more.
The new kid on the block Simba Makoni is a jolly good fellow. But as far as
this race and this game is concerned, that’s where it ends for him. He
joined it late and without a clear agenda.
The majority of Zimbabweans will not vote for Makoni because other than
being affable they do not know what he stands for. His manifesto is shallow
in content and substance. He is urging Zimbabweans to vote for him because
he is Simba Makoni and that he will then think about and deal with their
issues once elected and after establishing what he calls a National
Authority when people are looking forward to a new stable government with a
ready programme as defined in constitutional democracies.
He appears in my view to be motivated by the old Kwame Nkruma doctrine that
“seek ye the political kingdom first and the rest will follow”.
Zimbabweans also know that March 29 is neither a beauty contest nor a
laboratory setting. They do not know the change that Makoni represents and
they do not know whom he his working with and to what end. They are
therefore unlikely to experiment with their vote and the future of their
children and their grandchildren.
Zimbabweans are also wary of anything, which has a remote association with
ZANU-PF. One of the mistakes that Makoni and his campaign team made is not
to totally dissociate themselves from ZANU-PF.
Writing for The Financial Mail recently, Professor Tony Hawkins a respected
economist of the University of Zimbabwe Graduate School of Management had
this to say about the Simba project:
“While it is clear that Makoni is running against Mugabe, it is not at all
clear what he is running for — no party, no organisation, no platform and no
published policies. Never publicly has he raised his voice in criticism of
the early 1980s massacre of thousands of Ndebele people by the army, whose
commanders now reportedly support him; never publicly has he condemned
Operation Murambatsvina (“Drive Out Trash”) during which hundreds of
thousands of people lost their homes and livelihoods. On the other hand, he
has publicly defended the Mugabe land grab, most notably at the annual
Southern African gatherings of the World Economic Forum. Nor does his record
as finance minister bear close examination. It was he who lit the long
inflation fuse that has now delivered 100 000 percent inflation when he
imposed interest rate controls in 2001.” Simba Makoni is more of the same
On his part, Makoni has rightly or wrongly reserved his rights with respect
to his purported expulsion from ZANU-PF. He said that until there is due
process, in this case meaning until he is called before a disciplinary
hearing of the party, with charges properly preferred in terms of the
disciplinary rules of ZANU-PF he remains a bona fide member of ZANU-PF
albeit an independent Presidential candidate.
Ibbo Mandaza, a member of his team said that they were ZANU-PF and what they
intended to achieve was a renewal of the leadership of ZANU-PF by default. I
am not aware whether Mandaza has surrendered his ZANU-PF membership card or
been “expelled” from ZANU-PF.
Dumiso Dabengwa another key member of the team recently at the Press Club
said that (President) Mugabe cannot accuse him of having joined “little
Simba” because Makoni was their horse and can never be senior to him.
Makoni was therefore presented by Dabengwa not as his own man but a pawn in
a game of chess. I do not subscribe to the notion that he is a stooge of the
West as alleged by ZANU-PF, but it appears that he has handlers within
Dabengwa went further to say that he was still a member of the ZANU-PF
politburo and will be attending its meetings. Dumiso, in defence of the
Makoni project also said something very scaring.
He said that one of the things that have motivated their project was to stop
Zimbabwe from falling into “wrong hands” like what he said happened in
Zambia. He lamented the fact that most leaders of Kenneth Kaunda’s UNIP in
Zambia are leaving in abject poverty and it was therefore necessary that
leaders of the liberation movement in Zimbabwe protect their “gains” through
what he called a rescue operation as represented by this project.
Whose and what “gains” does Dabengwa want Makoni to protect? Dabengwa is yet
to surrender his ZANU-PF card or be “expelled” from ZANU-PF. What the above
actions of the Makoni team seem to suggest is that some members of ZANU-PF
have decided to drag all the Zimbabweans to resolve an internal party
Congress dispute as to who should be the leader of ZANU-PF, Makoni or
There lies the weakness of this project. The struggle for many Zimbabweans
has never been about who should be the leader of ZANU-PF. That is an
internal party matter.
The struggle has been about salvaging a failed national democratic
revolution presided over by ZANU-PF as a party and a culture. If the
majority of Zimbabweans were dissatisfied about the leadership of ZANU-PF
per se then they would have joined it and effected change during their
December, 2007 congress.
In addition, the actions and utterances of this team seem to suggest that
the plan is that if Makoni was by some miracle to win the Presidency, then
he and his team will go back to take over ZANU-PF and Zimbabweans will go
back where they were, minus (President) Mugabe.
Zimbabweans have however learned over the past 28 years that a rose by any
other name will still prick you and that “Dawn” is not a subjective
occurrence defined by the time one wakes up.
March 29 is about making a choice between life or death. It is about a
choice between the past and a new Zimbabwe. It is about a choice between
hope or despair, democracy and freedom or dictatorship, economic prosperity
or continued decline, a longer life or shorter life expectancy, food on our
tables or no food at all, drugs in our hospitals or more recovery wards
turned into mortuaries, electricity or candles, clean or no water at all,
our children in or out of school, genuine national integration and
reconciliation or continued political, racial and tribal polarisation,
transparent national resource management or continued plunder and looting of
our resources, international acceptance or continued international
What happens after March 29 will depend upon how Zimbabweans will have voted
in the Presidential election. Three things will happen. Firstly, if
Zimbabweans vote for (President) Mugabe, March 29 and beyond will be as good
(or should I say as bad) as today, where our country remains in a
fundamental crisis of governance and biting symptomatic economic crisis. Put
simply, the price of bread, that is if you find it, will continue to
skyrocket beyond the means of the majority.
Secondly, If Zimbabweans experiment with their future and vote for Makoni
and thus vote for any change whose content and substance they do not know or
contributed to then anything can happen after March 29.
That to me is a scary thought. The price of bread and worse still, its
availability will be unpredictable.
However, if Zimbabweans vote for Tsvangirai, and thus vote for the change
that they know and can trust, then this country will transform and open a
new page guided by social democratic values with the price and availability
of bread predictable. The essence of this change will be represented by
l The creation of a new form of national dialogue and discourse, which is
underpinned by a new people, driven Constitution.
l The establishment of a dynamic and participatory democracy in which
Government is accountable and subordinate to the citizens.
l The restoration of the core values of trusts, confidence and love between
the government and its people.
l The establishment of a vibrant economy based on the principles of social
justice and human centred wealth creation.
l The creation of a just society where women’s rights are at the core of a
healthy and productive society.
l A literate Zimbabwe where education focuses on the demands of sustainable
human centred development and the transformation of society.
l The execution of a land policy that balances the irreversibility of the
land reform and the demands of equality, social justice and agriculture
l The creation of a self-sufficient Zimbabwe State that can feed, clothe,
house, educate and treat its people.
l The establishment of a Zimbabwe that takes its rightful place among the
family of nations and strives for genuine grassroots led regional
l The establishment of an alternative human centred policy on science and
technology that seeks to expand available knowledge.
March 29 is therefore a decision between the past or an uncertain future or
a New Zimbabwe and a New Beginning. That democratic choice is for
Zimbabweans to make. However, may I advise that, before you make that
decision, ask yourself the following three questions: Will my vote
contribute to maintaining the status quo, will my vote delay change or will
my vote enhance the chances of meaningful change for me and my compatriots.
I further advise that your answers to these questions be based on the
political facts on the ground.
Finally, what I ask of Zimbabweans is to walk with Tsvangirai as your
President and the rest of the MDC team nationally this last mile to a New
Zimbabwe and a New Beginning.
Do not despair, victory is in sight. Mahatma Ghandi once said and I quote
“When I despair I always remember that throughout history the way of truth
and love has always won.
There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time they can seem
invincible, but in the end they always fall, always.”
The future needs you now. We must vote for the change that we know, the
change that we want and the change that we can trust. Walk with Tsvangirai
and together we can live the change that we want. Walk with him and you won’t
Jameson Timba is an MP candidate for the Mt Pleasant Constituency for MDC
(Tsvangirai) and writes in his personal capacity.
Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor
...as Government salaries drench market
MONEY market liquidity burst through the quadrillion-dollar mark on Thursday
on increased government spending, crossing the forecast position for the day
by a massive $600 trillion.
Liquidity had always appeared headed for the psychological
quadrillion-dollar level for quite some time, but had barely been expected
to reach that mark on Thursday, when the market was expected to be in
surplus to the tune of $700 trillion.
The market closed drenched to the tune of $1.5 quadrillion on Thursday, the
first time liquidity went through the quadrillion levels after a spell in
the trillion dollar zones since the start of the year.
“It’s money coming from the government for the civil servants salaries,” a
dealer told The Financial Gazette this week. “It’s money for salaries as
well as for the elections,” he said.
He indicated that statutory reserve payments expected on Tuesday after the
Easter holidays as well as corporate tax payments during the week were
expected to sterilise the market and keep it “squarish”.
Apparently, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has not intervened to mop up
the market of excess liquidity in line with its tight monetary policy to
reign-in runaway inflation.
This reinforced suggestions that the excess cash was not emanating from the
banking sector but, rather, from the government.
Domestic debt recently burst through the quadrillion-dollar mark to reach an
all-time high of $1.6 quadrillion in the first week of March, after touching
a high of $60 trillion at the beginning of the month.
The government is facing increasing expenditure pressures emanating mainly
from escalating inflation, which recently touched 100 580.2 percent
year-on-year for December 2007, a world record for a country not at war.
The government has entirely depended on domestic sources to finance its
ever-increasing budget deficits, resulting in increased money printing.
Bilateral and multilateral financial institutions terminated balance of
payments support to the country over alleged human rights violations by
President Robert Mugabe’s government, accused of rigging the 2002
presidential election to retain power.
President Mugabe’s government has denied the accusation, arguing it is being
villified for redistributing land from the white minority to landless
The RBZ appeared to also have deliberately avoided sweeping the market to
prevent a liquidity crunch that could have resulted in banks failing to pay
depositors withdrawing their money.
Money market dealers said the interbank market was dry, despite the huge
liquidity on the market. The bulk of the excess cash was concentrated in
building societies and other low-balance institutions like the POSB where
the majority of civil servants hold their accounts.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S embattled millers and bakers have been granted a temporary relief
after the government allowed them to hike the retail price of bakers flour
and bread, the country’s second staple food.
The National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) recently approved both
millers and bakers requests for price reviews, with the retail price of
bakers flour going up to $1.2 billion per tonne and $5.4 billion for a tonne
of pre-pack flour.
The NIPC also gave bakers the green light to sell bread at $6.6 million per
standard loaf and $10 million for a loaf of super white bread.
But the relief comes with strings attached as the NIPC ordered millers to
commit 80 percent of their flour supplies to producing bakers flour and 20
percent for pre-pack flour.
The state-run price policing body also ordered bakers to devote 80 percent
of their flour obtained from millers to manufacturing standard bread loaves
and allocate the remaining 20 percent to the baking of fancy loaves and
“The bakers and millers are allowed to use 80 percent of the flour to
standard loaf and 20 percent to fancy loaves and confectionaries and millers
will commit 80 percent of flour to bakers’ flour and 20 percent to
pre-packs, respectively,” read part of the NIPC letter signed by the pricing
body’s acting chief executive Esau Ndlovu and copied to the Zimbabwe
Republic Police, Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries and the Zimbabwe
National Chamber of Commerce.
The government last gazetted the prices of bread in November when it hiked
the price to $200 000/ loaf from $100 000. However most bakers had been
selling bread above these gazetted prices to remain viable.
The decision to charge prices above the gazetted ones landed an executive
with one of the country’s largest bakers, Bakers Inn, in trouble after he
was arrested for violating price controls.
The police also arrested two executives with the country’s leading millers
Blue Ribbon Foods and National Foods — Mike Manga and Jeremy Brooke for
breaching controls on the sale of flour.
However, bakers and millers told The Financial Gazette that the relief
granted by the NIPC came late as production costs have soared. Bakers said
they were pressing the NIPC to allow them to sell bread at $18 million/loaf
to recoup costs and avoid bankruptcy while millers are also asking the
pricing body to let them charge $5.6 billion for a tonne of baking flour.
Prices: Case for bread industry
INDEED it is possible to bring some sanity in the pricing of most basic
commodities. The current efforts have been on legislation and law
enforcement but sustainable controls arise from analysing the value chain,
determining the inputs and stabilising the input costs in order to arrive at
an appropriate bread price and then leverage on strategic institutions such
as the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) and industrial associations to ensure
The regulatory scenario must make it difficult for deviants to succeed –
reversing the current trend where the parallel market and the multiple
pricing system has rewarded handsomely the daring, deviant and illegal.
In making a loaf of bread the key inputs are flour, packaging, yeast, energy
(fuel and electricity), baking ingredients, spares (plants and vehicles),
labour, water and the loaf price will also depend on the retailer margins.
The entire process forming the value chain will need to be controlled and we
can take a quick look at each input.
Controlling the price of flour
The government has done its part by ensuring that wheat is sold at $61.00
million per tonne, which is highly subsidised. However, taking into account
the heavy transportation costs, the milling costs and labour, the National
Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC) has fixed the flour price at $1.2
billion per tonne.
The traditional flour millers (Blue Ribbon, National Foods and Victoria
Foods) citing the continually rises in costs require $2.5 billion per tonne
as a minimum and NIPC, the Joint Operations Command (JOC) and government
have tended to go very hard on the traditional millers but it must be stated
that these are not the price setters.
The price setters are the new millers led by the Chinese millers who argue
that they have to recoup their new investments and use the parallel market
exchange rate to determine the day’s flour price.
While traditional millers are at $2.5 billion per tonne, the Chinese millers
range from $9.0 billion to $15.0 billion per tonne depending on volume and
method of payments (notes preferred).
These Chinese millers suggest that their investment was in United States
dollars and therefore need notes to convert back to the US dollar quickly.
They have also submitted that through their companies, which are partnered
by very influential ZANU-PF Cabinet Ministers nothing can happen to them. To
even make it worse the associated politicians have exerted so much pressure
on GMB that a disproportionately high amount of wheat is allocated to the
It is almost impossible to control the bread price without managing the
Chinese millers and the GMB wheat must be allocated to millers on the basis
of compliance i.e. no compliance, no wheat.
Controlling packaging costs
Both the cost of plastics materials and inks are a function of the foreign
exchange rate. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) needs to stabilise the
exchange rate and provide the foreign exchange in order to control the bread
If industry resorts to the parallel market for foreign exchange costs will
determine the movements within that market.
Yeast comes from molasses and imported enzyme cultures and chemicals and
Anchor Yeast is the sole supplier. Again Anchor Yeast needs access to
officially priced foreign exchange and then the company must be made to
comply with NIPC price guidelines.
Controlling baking ingredients and fats
These include fermentation enzymes, preservatives, sugar, salt and special
fats, which have been constantly rising due to the parallel market exchange
rate and increasing local production costs. One cannot stabilise bread
prices without controlling these key inputs. All the salt used in Zimbabwe
Controlling energy costs
Bakeries use paraffin, diesel and petrol for the baking and distribution of
bread, unfortunately the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe’s limited
resources have resulted in the bread price increasing because of fuels
supplied from the parallel market. The costs of electricity are so low, that
ZESA has been unable to supply power to industry because the low tariffs
cripple ZESA’s effectiveness.
When a baker runs a fuel powered generator for one hour the cost of fuel
exceeds the electricity costs for the whole month. ZESA tariffs must be
increased to capacitate the institution and guarantee reliable and more
affordable energy. Even if the ZESA tariff was increased 20 times, it will
still be far below the cost of diesel or petrol used in generators.
ZESA’s failure means there is going to be even more pressure foreign
exchange to buy fuel and generators as well as the increased need to import
electricity. Authorities should raise the ZESA tariff and the coal price to
ZESA, and energy costs will be substantially reduced through enhanced local
Controlling the cost of spares
The spares used on baking equipment and distribution vehicles are both
imported. As long as reasonably priced foreign exchange is not available
from the official market the vagaries of the parallel market will raise
havoc on input costs. RBZ must try harder.
Controlling labour costs
Even bakery employees need to afford the price of bread, however the current
upward spiral and vicious cycle means that to ensure workers can come to
work every day, the wages will have to go up monthly and in sympathy also
the bread price. More work needs to be done at NEC (National Employment
Councils) to ensure that the survival of employees as well as the
stabilisation of bread price are balanced.
Controlling water costs
All food companies use large amounts of water. The poor quality of water
forces companies to process water internally thus pushing the costs up
further. A decent tariff will enable the Zimbabwe National Water Authority
to play its part fully.
Controlling retailer margins
Essentially retailers do not need to finance the purchase of bread, the
short cash cycle of bread means that bread quickly finances itself. The
tradition has been a 10 percent retailer margin on bread, sugar, milk and
most basic commodities. The consumer will not get a fair deal unless there
is compliance on this universally accepted pricing position.
This is a function of macroeconomic fundamentals. The current pricing does
not even allow recapitalisation, which means the entire industry is running
down its assets and sacrificing quality as we go on.
Summing up on this, managing and stabilising the macroeconomic environment
will increase production and can ultimately eliminate shortages and
introduce price stability through completion. If RBZ allocated $15.0 million
US dollars per month for wheat importation and another $15.0 million US
dollar per month for fuels, ingredients, packaging, spares etc, bread prices
will stabilise and baking products will be available countrywide.
The current run on the foreign exchange rate and wheat shortages, has forced
us to manage symptoms rather than causes. Bread retailing has also moved
from traditional retailers to fly-by-night operators encouraged by high
margins (shortages) and the fact that because of their “no-fixed aboard”
nature both the police and NIPC cannot control them or enforce any laws.
There is therefore a tall order in restoring Zimbabwe to a functioning
economy again as we are in effect fully Congo-rised (the DRC syndrome)
having essentially shifted all crucial activities to the unregulated
Good luck to everyone wishing for the return to sanity with many odds
against the initiative.
David Govere is the senior vice president for the Employers Confederation of
ZIMBABWE’S cash shortages resurfaced during the week with several banks
again battling to dispense cash to depositors despite huge cash injections
into the system by government.
Banking sector sources said demand for cash was increasing with escalating
inflation, creating pressure on banks.
The sources said unlike the last cash crisis that had been precipitated by
insufficient collateral by financial institutions to enable them to withdraw
enough cash to meet daily requirements by their own customers, the current
situation was mainly a result of inadequate notes on the market.
However, a few banks did not have sufficient collateral to secure
accommodation from the central bank to enable them to pay depositors, and
were battling to source cash from the interbank market to avoid borrowing
under the unsecured facility, which has penal interest rates.
The central bank has deliberately kept the market awash with cash and
avoided sweeping the market to curtail an intensification of the cash
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe temporarily suspended the Non Negotiable
Certificate of Deposit (NNCD) by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe after
financial institutions showed signs of stress during the peak of the
liquidity crunch that began during the close of the previous year.
The NNCD’s are normally used to mop up excess cash on the market.
Dealers said bank treasuries were concerned by the uncertainty on the
market, which was second-guessing the intentions of the central bank
regarding its plans on the money market.
There was speculation the NNCD’s could be re-introduced, but some dealers
said bankers were properly deploying their cash and were not responsible for
the excess liquidity created by excessive government expenditure.
Therefore, the central bank could not penalise them for excess liquidity
emanating fron it, they said.
“There is strong sentiment in the market that the RBZ may introduce shorter
term Treasury bill paper since it has managed to restructure government’s
domestic debt into the long term,” an analyst with Kingdom Stockbrokers
MARKETS yesterday lurched into turmoil after the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) issued a raft of new policy measures, including an ultimatum to
manufacturers of commodities to produce enough for the depleted retail
market within two days.
Sources said executives from key manufacturing companies, among them
multinational Uniliver Southern Africa, were summoned by the central bank
and ordered to fully supply the market within 24 hours or risk being charged
penal rates on cheap funds lent by the RBZ to the companies to boost
The new measures followed a strike on the banking sector by the RBZ, which
hiked the statutory reserve payment ratios and re-introduced the
Non-Negotiable Certificate of Deposit (NNCD), increasing its tenor from
seven days to three months.
It was the first time in weeks that the central bank moved to sweep the
market, which has experienced huge liquidity levels, which crossed the
quadrillion level for the first time last Thursday to touch a record high
The key accommodation rate — widely viewed as the cost of money — surged
from 1 200 percent for secured borrowing to 4 000 percent, and from 1 650
percent to 4 500 percent for unsecured borrowing under the facility.
The new measures triggered a stampede for treasury bills by banking
institutions as they fought to avoid parking excess cash into the
non-interest earning NNCD’s, used by the central bank to mop up excess
liquidity and to punish financial institutions holding excess cash.
Dealers reported a Treasury Bill (TB) take-up of $93 trillion yesterday, a
record subscription rate for the money market instrument.
The take-up level for the TBs was likely to forestall a hugely surplus
market, which had been forecast to close $1 quadrillion up yesterday.
Statutory reserve rations were hiked to 50 percent on all classes of
deposits for commercial banks, merchant banks and discount houses, from
between 35 percent and 45 percent depending on the type of deposits.
Statutory reserve payments for building societies were kept at 10 percent on
condition that they aggressively participated in high-density housing
Building societies that fail to comply with this measure will make a penal
statutory reserve payment of 40 percent of deposits. Statutory reserves,
which are a percentage of bank deposits, sit at the central bank and earn no
interest for the financial institutions.
But the biggest shock was kept for the industrial sector, which received
cheap loans to increase production under the basic Commodities Supply-Side
Intervention Facility (BACOSSI).
Sources indicated that manufacturers were yesterday warned that should they
fail to supply the market adequately within 24 hours, interest on BACOSSI
loans, pegged at 25 percent, would be raised to 2 000 percent, while the
Zimbabwe dollar component of foreign currency given to the manufacturing
companies would be exchanged at parallel market rates, currently close to
$90 million per greenback against the official exchange rate of $30 000 to
the United States unit.
Efforts to obtain comment from RBZ spokesman, Kumbirai Nhongo, were
unsuccessful as he was in a meeting when contacted last night.
The National Incomes and Pricing Commission chairman, Goodwills
Masimirembwa, who attended yesterday’s meeting, was not reachable on his
mobile phone number.
A number of companies, which had used the cheap funds to meet operational
expenses like salaries, could be forced into bankruptcy should they fail to
charge the high interest rates and pay parallel market rates for foreign
currency received from the central bank under the BACOSSI.
BACOSSI was introduced in October last year to promote a speedy return to
normalcy in the supply of essential goods after a price blitz in June
triggered massive shortages across the country.
The Financial Gazette has established that manufacturers and producers
sanctioned by the central bank yesterday include food processors, poultry
and piggery producers, beverages makers, bakers, sugar producers, cooking
oil and magarine makers and meat processors and abattoirs.
When BACOSSI was extended to the private sector, it was said to be a
production-linked financial lifeline for working capital requirements.
The market still remains bare of most critical basic commodities, with the
majority of supermarkets across the country having empty shelves.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE has secured additional electricity imports from Mozambique to cater
for the weekend harmonised elections in which President Robert Mugabe faces
a tough challenge from veteran opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and
ex-ally Simba Makoni.
Informed government sources told The Financial Gazette yesterday that ZESA
secured an additional 100MW from Mozambique’s state-run HCB, which was
already supplying 200MW into the country.
The increased imports are meant to ensure that key institutions running the
elections have adequate and uninterrupted power supplies.
The sources said government representatives and ZESA officials met with HCB
officials in South Africa two weeks ago to reach an agreement over the
additional power deal.
It was at that meeting that HCB officials pledged 100 MW.
HCB will supply power to Zimbabwe for four days beginning tomorrow until
ZESA chief executive officer Ben Rafemoyo confirmed the deal with HCB in a
terse response to queries from The Financial Gazette.
“They (HCB) will give us an extra 100MW but they will revert back to their
200MW contractual obligation,” said Rafemoyo.
Opposition and civic society groups had raised fears that electricity
outages could hamper the administration of the elections, arguably the
country’s most hotly contested elections since independence in 1980.
Zimbabweans go to the polls on Saturday to vote in presidential
parliamentary, senatorial and council elections in which the ruling ZANU- PF
party faces a stern challenge from the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change and some former ZANU-PF loyalists who are contesting the elections as
Zimbabwe, which consumes about 2 200MW of electricity per month, has been
generating about 1 500MW, forcing ZESA to frequently ration power and plunge
most parts of the country into darkness.
Attempts to fill up the power deficit through imports from South Africa have
been dealt a blow as Eskom is also battling to meet its rising domestic
Economic observers say power cuts are only one of the several adversities
that Zimbabweans who are enduring under one of the country’s worst economic
crisis in history, largely blamed on mismanagement by President Robert
Critics accuse the government of committing little investment into the
capital-intensive power generation sector.
Meanwhile, ZESA Holdings’ head of business development and corporate
planning, Obert Nyatanga, has died.
Family spokesperson Washington Nyatanga said Obert died from cardiac failure
at his Greendale home.
Rafemoyo, who worked with Nyatanga for more than 10 years, described him as
an industrious person.
“His death is a huge loss which has created a huge void in the system.
“He used to accompany me to high level meetings both local and international
ones where he contributed meaningfully to ZESA’s work,” said Rafemoyo.
Nyatanga will be buried at his rural home in Chiduku, Rusape today. He is
survived by his wife and two children.
THIS Saturday, Zimbabweans will have yet another opportunity to elect those
who should rule over them for the next half-a-decade.
It’s a chance that each one of the 5,9 million people registered to vote in
the weekend elections should seize without hesitation considering that the
next synchronised polls will only come in 2013 when those who would have
made it through this Saturday submit themselves yet again before the
electorate, begging for fresh terms.
Sixty months is far too long a time for any voter to live with regrets and
it is precisely for this reason that Zimbabweans should cast their votes
Come March 29, each registered voter should have the patience of a turtle to
endure the frustrating queues at the polling stations as staying away from
the polls, for whatever reason other than ill-health or mental
incapacitation, would undermine the people’s will to resuscitate the country’s
Never before has the country been confronted with such profound challenges
as today’s and this Saturday Zimbabweans have the crucial task of choosing a
credible line-up of office bearers — from councillors right up to the
highest office — capable of healing an economy that has been in intensive
care for the past nine years.
The country’s economy is at the crossroads with no easy solutions out of the
multi-faceted crisis sticking out like a sore thumb.
In December, inflation zoomed past 100,000 percent, a world record and an
unusual feat for a country not at war. And in the past few weeks prices have
soared to record highs, a sure sign that whoever wins the watershed
elections has to institute painful measures to subdue the inflation monster.
Unemployment is getting out of hand, gravitating towards 90 percent on the
back of company closures and declining capacity utilisation in industry that
has given rise to widespread shortages.
Life expectancy, the age until which a person is expected to live, has
fallen to the lowest levels, sabotaged by the collapsing health delivery
system and the general decline in living standards.
A skills flight has taken root with independent estimates putting the number
of Zimbabweans living abroad at more than four million, almost twice the
population of Botswana.
Workers’ earnings have become meaningless due to inflation, with
professionals such as doctors living on less than US$20 per month.
The most productive age groups have been ravaged by the HIV/Aids pandemic
claiming at least 2,000 lives per week.
All these issues are at the centre of the election manifestos presented to
the electorate last month. While the reasons for this sorry state of affairs
differ among the main contestants, none of them has disputed that the
country’s economy is in a terrible state. But whatever the reasons may be,
the electorate has had ample time to critique these manifestos and this
Saturday they must be ready to choose between President Robert Mugabe
(ZANU-PF), Morgan Tsvangirai (Movement for Democratic Change - MDC) or
independent presidential candidate Simba Makoni for the highest office in
the land. We don’t wish to waste time on one Langton Towungana.
In making that important decision this weekend Zimbabweans need not be
reminded that it is their democratic right to vote for candidates of their
Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri, Defence Forces chief
Constantine Chiwenga and Commissioner of Prisons Paradzayi Zimondi may have
their own views about the elections, right or wrong, but it is just that –
Tsvangirai, Makoni and President Mugabe have traversed the width and breadth
of the country in the past four weeks canvassing support and one hopes that
by now the electorate is better positioned to pass an appropriate verdict in
the March 29 polls.
While Zimbabweans would have wanted the major contesting parties to go into
the polls at full strength, they have all been weakened by internal
conflict. The MDC goes into the elections fragmented after the October 2005
split while the ruling party, although it may not want to admit it, is at
sixes and sevens following an internal rebellion led by Makoni and ZANU-PF
politburo member, Dumiso Dabengwa.
It means therefore, that apart from the benefit of incumbency all the
contestants take to the battle for State House on equal footing.
The onus is on the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to spare the
suffering masses the agony of another disputed election by ensuring that the
Saturday polls are conducted in a free and fair environment so that the
outcome could be accepted by all.
ZEC and the observers invited to assess the conduct of the elections owe it
to Zimbabweans to give them the opportunity to speak at the weekend polls
and speak they will.
But whoever emerges victorious should rise above the politics of attrition,
hate and revenge by embracing the true meaning of democracy, which demands
co-existence notwithstanding the divergent views, race, tribe or creed.
The post March 29 environment should lay a strong foundation upon which
Zimbabweans from across the political divide begin to lay the building
blocks for a brighter future. May the best man win!
EDITOR — Both factions of the MDC cannot cry foul over the forthcoming sham
elections because they are gullible and naive. Tendai Biti and Welshman
Ncube should have known better that they were negotiating with the lesser
members of ZANU-PF’s leadership in Chinamasa and Goche.
These two are low-level in ZANU-PF. None of what they say carries any
weight. These two were merely enticing both factions of the MDC just to get
them to participate in the ‘elections’. The people who run ZANU-PF are the
Chiwengas, Zimondis, Chihuris, Zvinavashes, Solomon Mujurus et al. Messrs
Ncube and Biti were being taken for a ride.
I don’t know where these two (Biti and Ncube) grew up because some of us
grew up in Highfield with some of the war veterans in ZANU-PFand know the
backgrounds of those behind ZANU-PF.
Before you negotiate with ZANU-PF you have to first of all bear in mind that
some of these people were common criminals before they joined the liberation
struggle. Lovemore Madhuku is dead right — a new constitution, not
‘elections’, should have been the priority given the prevailing environment,
which has worsened.
How one expects these (ZANU-PF) people to stick to their word and play fair
boggles the mind. If I was Chihuri or Zimondi I would fight like mad to make
sure that President Mugabe remains in office to protect my job and the other
favours, which they may stand to lose. This is how the whites must have felt
before ZANU-PF came to power in 1980.
Why the current ruling party is holding an election is a mystery. Nobody
likes them but they are going to win. Why waste time and money? Why don’t
they just declare that Zimbabwe is a one–party state and that the elections
are a Western practice?
These war veterans have also become so brainwashed that some of their
utterances are senseless. Some of them went out to Mozambique under (Abel)
Muzorewa’s UANC and were converted to ZANU-PF. Some were too young to know
who President Mugabe was or what ZANU-PF was but they want to lecture us on
puppetry and the evils of the white regime.
This government has only succeeded in making the poor poorer. When they talk
of gains I fail to understand what they mean.
The biggest problem in this country is this nauseating reference to the
so-called armed struggle. This has weighed this country down.
We have in our midst, people who think they own this land and us.
THIS week we will know whether Zimbabweans have finally mustered the courage
to call for a new paradigm shift in their government. This renewal of
leadership is called a paradigm shift in the academic world.
Zimbabwe is too important for us to leave Mukuru and his aged cohorts
managing affairs on the basis of voodoo economics and big man theory
The whole basis on which our beloved Zimbabwe has been managed in the last
30 years must change. Even the verbiage used must also change, as I shall
In short, it is time to throw out the rascals because times have changed,
and one cannot teach old dogs new tricks. Voting is about courage to effect
The economic crisis we have been going through in the last seven years has
made paradigmatic changes Pentecostal (self evident). The primary paradigm
on which our government works is that no action is taken unless proposed or
approved by Mukuru. This type of government is based on the big-man theory.
Unfortunately, there is no person, even if he has seven degrees, who can
master every aspect of a modern economy. Conditions of employment and
salaries for doctors, teachers, police and the military and shortage of
electricity, all these need not wait for decisions by Mukuru to be
The oil crisis itself was caused by this concentration of power in the hands
of one man. Oil companies were replaced by the National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe, an institution made up of politicos singing praise songs to
Mukuru. These politicos cannot distinguish petrol from margarine.
In fact, our government has been run by voodooists and self aggrandising
economic charlatans. We were all silent because we were afraid to say
anything when three Cabinet ministers entertained a voodoo doctor (sangoma),
who claimed to have found refined diesel oil from a cave. Any modernistic
government would have consulted the chief geologist first before doing
anything about it.
This kind of management would have been laughable if it were not tragic.
If Mukuru is away on holiday, no important decisions are made. That speaks
to a failure of corporate responsibility. No modern government, operating on
this big man paradigm, can succeed. I say it is time to throw out the
A government that consults a sangoma instead of a geologist is way out of
touch with the new world. We need a change.
The tone and nomenclature used in discussions about people who disagree with
government is not only wrong but diminishes men of goodwill and tries to
exclude people who have an interest in the affairs of the country.
Simba Makoni was called a political prostitute, Morgan Tsvangirai was
labelled a “tea boy”, Dumiso Dabengwa was called a sell-out and a regime
change agent. We need a serious paradigmatic change of style there.
When leaders ignore the voices of honest and worthy men like Dabengwa and
Tsvangirai, and surround themselves with praise singers, their ears can no
longer hear the suffering of the people. When people need a mortgage in
order to buy a chicken at $50 million a kilogramme, it is time for a change.
The issue is more serious than meets the eye. When you realise the brothers
called in as government consultants, one will appreciate the urgent need for
There is a pattern in this government of disrespecting men of experience,
honesty and integrity and calling them names. Makoni’s 30 year service in
government surely speaks for itself. While his experience is discounted,
those of brothers Biggie Chitoro and Joseph Chinotimba are much revered and
sought after in high places.
While the government chief geologist is missing from the oil discoveries, a
sangoma, Ms Mavunga, was showered with appreciation and consultation fees by
government. Please give us a break. These brothers are living in the
primitive world of my grandfather, Muhera Nyashanu. It is time for a change.
Such a government assumes that only its bona fide members who comply with
their imaginary “gwara” (an ever shifting normos created to suit Mukuru) are
citizens of the country. Everybody else who does not follow this voodoo
gwara is fair game for abuse and name calling. We are all citizens of
Zimbabwe and we love it dearly. We have an obligation to speak the truth
without let–up or hindrance.
I say it is time for a change.
The paradigm on which wealth was created in Zimbabwe was fundamentally
flawed. Brother Philip Chiyangwa said it well — “If you want wealth, join
Wealth cannot be given. If so given, it will be squandered and wastefully
used. Wealth is accumulated slowly by those with foresight and work ethics.
Many brothers who “were given” wealth and farms, are impoverished, their
pockets are full of voodoo dollars, their farms are nothing but barren
wilderness while their lives are not safe after seven years of lawlessness.
There is no escaping the laws of nature. It is in the books but our
government is contemptuous of book economics. It is a mystery why these guys
went to school if they are unwilling to use their book knowledge.
If they had read their basic economics, they would have known that there is
no such thing as a free lunch, or that the more you raise taxes, the lesser
is the revenue inflow into government coffers (JF Kennedy).
These brothers hate books. And they wonder why none of their policies are
successful. I say it is time to throw out the rascals.
Ken Mufuka is a professor at Lander University (USA). He can be reached at:
One of the main complaints of opposition groups with respect to the
conducting of elections in Zimbabwe is the lack of autonomy of the Zimbabwe
Charges have been made about the electoral body being biased and existing
only to do the bidding of the ruling party. Disgruntlement has been
expressed about the commission being stuffed with former military operatives
and ZANU PF activists.. The composition of ZEC was in fact one of the bones
of contention during the Southern African Development Community
(SADC)-initiated talks between the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and
the ruling party , overseen by South African president Thabo Mbeki, until
their collapse towards the end of last year.
The two MDC factions led by Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara have
accused ZANU PF of reneging on an agreement reached during the negotiations
for ZEC to be reconstituted to make it more representative and
accountable..The commission has done very little to dispel stakeholders’
fears not only about its lack of autonomy but its lack of capacity to fulfil
its mandate.The electoral body has not been able to explain things
convincingly when there have been public perceptions of anomalies.Charges
have been made about the shambolic state of the voters’ roll, the inclusion
of vast numbers of ghost voters, the skewed manner in which ZEC conducted
the delimitation exercise to tilt the electoral field in favour of the
governing party, the commission’s refusal to allow independent organizations
to undertake voter education, the list is endless.
ZEC has reacted to all these complaints with thunderous silence. Recently
there has been talk that generators will be used to provide electricity at
polling stations in view of the inevitable ZESA power outages. The
electorate, which has a vested interest in this matter, has been kept in the
dark about the impact of these last-minute stop-gap measures and how they
will affect their ability to exercise their democratic right to vote. It is
not known whether each voter will be assured of enough time in the voting
booth.. ZEC may not be answerable for the illogical act of investing
billions of dollars in generators instead of using the funds for the
long-term purpose of improving capacity at the national power utility but it
needs to be as transparent as possible. Cynics who have suggested that the
grubby hands of chefs will be all over the generators after the polls cannot
be far off the mark considering the murky manner in which ZEC does things.
Nothing can illustrate ZEC’s lack of spine and credibility more clearly than
the verbal gymnastics of its chairman, Justice George Chiweshe, on the issue
of the threats made by Police Commissioner General Augustine Chihuri,
Zimbabwe Prison Services Director Paradzayi Zimondi and Zimbabwe Defence
Forces Commander, Constantine Chiwenga that they will not accept an
opposition victory in Saturday’s polls.
Chiweshe said the commission would not condemn the service chiefs’
utterances because doing so would entail going beyond its mandate. When it
was pointed out to him that ZEC had not hesitated to write to Nelson
Chamisa, the MDC candidate for Kuwadzana, after he had allegedly threatened
that there would be Kenya-style violence if the elections were rigged,
Chiweshe said ZEC only reacted to statements made by political parties.
“We will not say that because so and so said this, the we will act in such a
manner. We will not concern ourselves with what people say unless it’s in
our mandate to do so. You will have to show me that the commission has the
mandate to do so.”
What tunnel vision on the mandate of such an important body!. It is
illogical for the learned judge to think that ZEC can only comment when
political parties speak out of turn about electoral issues but should be
tongue-tied when service chiefs who are supposed to be apolitical, throw
their weight around in a flagrant attempt to cause fear and despondency
within the electorate. The army, the police force and prison officials are
supposed to serve the government of the day regardless of which party is in
power. Chiweshe should be horrified when these service arms of government
dabble in politics and make vehement pronouncements on issues falling under
“The mandate of ZEC is to run elections and to make sure they are free and
fair.The commission is not going to be populist. We are not politicians”,
Chiweshe said without any hint of irony. He does not seem to realize that it
is impossible for ZEC to run free and fair elections if their outcome can be
challenged beforehand by people who should not have any say in the matter.
The electoral process that ZEC presides over can never be described as being
free and above board when the commission is indifferent to threats to
subvert the expressed will of the electorate . ZEC can hardly pat itself on
the back for running free and fair elections when political expediency
obliges it to fold its hands and become deaf in the face
With only a few days to go before the elections on Saturday, it is clear ZEC
has not been as even-handed and transparent as such a national body whose
mandate should be to safeguard the interests of the electorate. Elections
are held to reflect the interests and wishes of the people not, those of
service chiefs. Since 2000, allegations of rigging and electoral fraud have
caused great tension and eroded public confidence in the electoral process .
Despite this charge having been levelled against the authorities regularly
since then, ZEC has never felt obliged to respond. It is deplorable that
with similar fears being expressed about this weekend’s polls, the
commission continues to shirk its responsibility to re-assure the nation
convincingly that such fraud will not be resorted to.
Email feedback to:
This is a betrayal
EDITOR — Once again we have got one service chief, Police Commissioner
General Augustine Chihuri issuing threats to the electorate. This is
unbecoming of a police chief. Why hold an election when those in charge of
policing behave like thugs? First it was (Paradzayi) Zimondi, then came
(Constantine) Chiwenga and now it’s Chihuri.
I don’t remember the police or army chiefs issuing political statements or
threats during the Smith regime. These people should be reminded that up to
1994 the Hutu regime in Rwanda systematically set out to exterminate the
minority Tutsis; it was the regime’s official stance. Lo and behold, it didn’t
take long before the Hutus were ousted from power against all odds.
The Hutus, in their quest to exterminate the Tutsis, were ousted and are now
‘outside looking in’. The Hutus are now scattered all over the world as
refugees. It is unfortunate that the Hutu regime saw it fit to serve only
the interests of their ethnic group. Had they treated the minority fairly,
perhaps they would still be in power.
Idi Amin did the same when he went about taunting the supposedly weak
Tanzania and had to flee in the end. Ian Smith was very strong militarily
and so was South Africa’s PW Botha et al but in the end someone else came to
power in these states.
Will things turn out differently this time?
EDITOR — I thought it would be interesting to make a prediction of the
outcome of this election. Turns out to be harder than I anticipated but here
goes: President Mugabe has mastered the election process and can now safely
guarantee most election outcomes. I don’t see how this one is any different.
Whether someone from his own party can change this, is not clear but I doubt
it. At best, he may win less than 50 percent but still have the biggest
share. Even if he doesn’t, he will likely seize power by claiming a British
The chance of a fresh government is still painfully far away at present. I
wish it were different but experience has shown that nothing ever changes
unless people are really united and committed to change but despite the
talk, I feel that Zimbabweans have become so accustomed to things as they
are, they no longer truly believe that they can change them.
All changes of governments that were unwelcome have required brave and bold
moves by the populace as a single entity. Apart from some brave souls
putting themselves on the line and getting heavily punished, this is not the
case in Zimbabwe. Will it change if this election does not deliver the
desired result? I hope so but I doubt it.
I know that many millions will be watching the result of these elections
with great hope but were I to place a bet on the result, I would put my
money where it is safest — a President Mugabe win. I hope that I am a fool
and that I am completely wrong — I haven’t been to date.
Easier said than done
EDITOR — It is all very well for Zimbabwe Member of Parliament Trudy
Stevenson, launching an appeal to exiled Zimbabweans to come home for Easter
Is she prepared to assist the struggling Zimbabwean exiles with the return
fares to their constituencies? Is she guaranteeing them at least one staple
meal a day and affordable accommodation? Where was she when the exiled
Zimbabweans were made redundant? Where was she when the exiled Zimbabweans
with children at school had to withdraw them due to an inability to pay the
punitive school fees? Where was she when medical treatment and essential
drugs became non-existent or priced beyond the exiles’ pockets? Has she made
arrangements to facilitate prior checking of the voters’ roll over the
Internet to assure Zimbabwean exiles that Tobaiwa Mudede’s office hasn’t
once again substituted more names of the dead than of the living? What was
her contribution to the disastrous constitutional talks with ZANU-PF that
failed to address the infamous prohibitive Citizenship Act that has deprived
so many Zimbabwean exiles of their right to vote?
Finally Ms Stevenson is a party to the fragmentation of Zimbabwe’s MDC. She
sits comfortably in the MDC’s breakaway Mutambara camp; responsible to a
leader that has divided the country’s main opposition. Perhaps if Ms
Stevenson leads by example Zimbabwean exiles will take her appeal to come
home and vote more seriously.
Saddened by Annan’s pyrrhic victory
EDITOR — I read with shock and dismay that a power-sharing agreement had
been reached in Kenya whereby Raila Odinga will become the prime minister in
a coalition government with Mwai Kibaki as the president.
Such news just showed me that Africa would never be democratic. Sitting
presidents will never be voted out of power through the ballot boxes as they
have all the ammunition at their disposal to rig the elections.
Surely, how can one steal an election and be let off the hook so easily?
Odinga should not have accepted such daylight robbery to prevail by giving
in to a sugar-coated ‘power-sharing’ deal. Kibaki lost the election and
should have been shown the door. Period.
What really boggles the mind is how the international community is
applauding such a deal as a breakthrough. Breakthrough for whom? Definitely
not the Kenyan people who stood in the voting queues to kick Kibaki out of
The message being sent to other African leaders of Kibaki’s ilk is that you
can just rig an election if you see that you are losing and when the people
complain in the streets, send the army to quell the rebellion and cling to
the presidential palace until the international community sends in their
emissaries and then you quieten the opposition down with a sweetened
‘power-sharing deal’ with you at the top.
Kibaki lost and that was clear for all to see except the United States.
Surely how can ODM win the majority of seats in parliament and then
mysteriously lose the presidential vote? It is like one voting for Blessing
Chebundo (MDC) for the parliamentary seat and then voting for President
Mugabe (ZANU-PF) for the presidential vote. That’s unfathomable! It is
daylight robbery and it cannot get any clearer.
The people’s will was largely ignored and Koffi Annan must not pat himself
on the back for a job well done. In fact, he must be ashamed for letting not
only Kenyans, but the people of Africa down. That is not democracy and it
should never be allowed to happen again in Africa.
While the loss of life is abominable and must not be allowed to happen,
people must not use it as an excuse to allow injustice to prevail. What
Annan should have done the moment he stepped on Kenyan soil was to lay the
groundwork for fresh elections with the Kenyan Electoral Commission
completely out of the picture.
The United Nations should have been deployed to conduct these elections to
prevent any manipulation by the incumbents. In the meantime, a transitional
government would be put in place headed by a respected member of society,
probably a former judge with a 90 day term of office and whose primary role
would be to maintain peace and order and ensure that the elections are held
in a peaceful atmosphere. This would have been more acceptable than the
power sharing deal that has been brokered.
The dictators of this world are obviously smiling as such events unfold as
they are masters at rigging and manipulating election results in their
favour. They know that they can easily rig their way to victory against the
people’s wishes and no matter what happens, they are assured of a continued
stay at the helm.
While I am dismayed at the international community for such foolishness, I
am more disappointed with Odinga who has allowed power to go into his head
to let such injustice and robbery to prevail.
Was the title of prime minister and the perks that come along with it so
sweet for him to refuse that he forgot about the thousands who were killed,
injured and incarcerated for his cause?
Millions more were displaced from their homes as they fought against the
injustice when their voices were being ignored by the ruling elite. Billions
of us more in Africa were looking to Kenya as an example for other dictators
on the continent not to tinker with people’s votes and remain in office
against the wishes of the majority. Odinga has really let us all down.
By Alec Russell, Southern Africa Correspondent
Published: March 27 2008 18:10 | Last updated: March 27 2008 18:10
Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader, has warned Robert
Mugabe, the president, against trying to “steal” Saturday’s election, saying
it would plunge the country deeper into crisis and that the veteran autocrat
would not be able to contain popular anger at such a move.
As Mr Mugabe faces his most acute electoral challenge in 28 years in power,
Mr Tsvangirai said Zimbabweans would not countenance an attempt by him to
imitate Kenya’s Mwai Kibaki, who was hastily sworn in as president after his
country’s elections in December despite widespread irregularities in the
In an interview with the Financial Times, Mr Tsvangirai, the leader of the
larger wing of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, stopped short
of calling for his supporters to take to the streets in the event of a
“Kibaki scenario”. However, he made clear he would expect the Zimbabwean
people to oppose it. The MDC would not, as it has after previous disputed
elections, content itself with seeking redress in the courts, he said.
“It is the people who have to respond. He [Mr Mugabe] will not have stolen
it from Morgan Tsvangirai – an individual – but from the people. Such will
be the overwhelming groundswell of popular feeling, he will not be able to
He called on supporters to “protect” their vote, words widely seen as a
coded message for them to stay on the streets after voting.
Some of Mr Tsvangirai’s supporters have accused him of missing an
opportunity in the wake of disputed elections in 2000 and 2002, when rather
than calling for demonstrations he, in effect, abided by the result. Mr
Tsvangirai dismissed the charge. “They were not ready – and Mugabe was ready
to cause bloodshed.”
Mr Tsvangirai has bounced back from last year, when he was beaten up by the
security forces even as a rift in his party deepened, and most analysts
believe that Mr Mugabe would lose a free and fair vote. But while Mr
Tsvangirai draws large rallies, the consensus is that the electoral
landscape is tilted heavily in the president’s favour.
Mr Tsvangirai had harsh words for the MDC’s rival wing, which is backing Mr
Mugabe’s other significant challenger, Simba Makoni, a former finance
minister and once a stalwart of the ruling Zanu-PF party. Mr Tsvangirai’s
MDC critics accuse him of autocracy and question his judgment.
“I’m not perfect but there is a difference between leadership and
dictatorship,” he said. “At the end of the day, sometimes leaders are called
on to take tough decisions, not popular ones. If you disagree with someone,
that does not mean he is an autocrat.”
If he were to win the presidential and parliamentary elections he would
invite other groupings, including Zanu-PF, to form a “national government”
as in 1980 at independence. He would work with reformers, including Mr
Makoni, but not the “rabid elements” of Zanu-PF.
He would not, however, back potential calls to send Mr Mugabe to The Hague
to stand trial for his role in the massacre of up 20,000 members of the
minority Ndebele tribe in the early 1980s. “He will feel that people are out
to get him. But certainly that is not our preoccupation. I will resist
attempts at retribution at Mugabe.”
In the past three elections Mr Mugabe exploited Mr Tsvangirai’s support from
white farmers to suggest that the MDC would reverse land reforms. Mr
Tsvangirai said he would not revert to the situation before 2000, when Mr
Mugabe oversaw the expropriation of several thousand mainly white commercial
“We recognise [the expropriations] as irreversible but we also recognise
that we cannot condone what he has done. It has led the country to a serious
He would set up an independent commission to look at titles, land tenure and
ownership and compensation for those who have lost property. “So some of the
white farmers may find there is land for their farming activities but not
the same farm they had before.
“Even before Robert Mugabe embarked on this irrational, ham-fisted measure,
there was a national consensus on the need for land reform. There was no
argument. The argument is over how it was done.”
By Alec Russell, Southern Africa Correspondent
Published: March 27 2008 17:44 | Last updated: March 27 2008 17:44
With his dark, shiny suit and his darting eyes the former official from
Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party was clearly out of place in the crowd of
exuberant opposition supporters.
Almost all wore T-shirts emblazoned with the face of “two cheeks”, as Morgan
Tsvangirai, the burly leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change is known. They included some of the very people whom, in the last
three campaigns, the former Zanu-PF stalwart, by his own admission,
intimidated and assaulted to entrench President Robert Mugabe in power.
Interview transcript: Morgan Tsvangirai - Mar-27
Mugabe orders price cuts before poll - Mar-25
Editorial Comment: Zimbabwe’s knife-edge poll - Mar-24
Zimbabwe’s collapse starves trade artery - Mar-25
Slim pickings for cross-border traders - Mar-25
Mugabe in spending spree to win votes - Mar-23
But Frank Tore felt emboldened to speak his mind by his defection six months
ago to the MDC. “I worked with these people [Zanu-PF] since 1980 when
Zimbabwe got its independence. They always needed us at elections but they
duped us, afterwards they forgot about us.
“When we were in Zanu- PF we were told to hit people and to abuse them. Even
now they are still doing it. But since I’ve been working with them I’ve got
nothing at my home. You should get something. My suffering is getting from
bad to worse. Many of my colleagues are with me and only the dunderheads are
There are still many Zanu-PF officials overseeing the bussing in of
supporters to Mugabe rallies ahead of Saturday’s presidential and
parliamentary elections, as they have done faithfully in the 28 years since
he took power. But even if the 84-year-old autocrat manages one way or
another to secure another victory this weekend, it is clear his once
mesmeric hold over the rural areas of Mashonaland, the homeland of his
fellow ethnic Shonas, is crumbling.
The Zanu-PF defector was speaking as several thousand MDC supporters cheered
Mr Tsvangirai at a rally in the small town of Kotwe, 140 miles north-east of
the capital Harare. Just three years ago at the last parliamentary
elections, Zanu-PF was so active in this region that it was dangerous to
Now, in large areas of rural Zimbabwe, it is as if a brushfire of
anti-Mugabe sentiment has taken hold, feeding on the collapse of the economy
and public services. The critical question is whether the residual
institutional force of the state can, as many analysts suspect, summon up
the strength one more time to extinguish the threat.
Backed by slavish state media, Mr Mugabe is campaigning vigorously, harking
back to his leadership of the liberation of Zimbabweans from colonialism
under the slogan “the fist of empowerment”. Giant banners with his face and
the words “Our Land, Our Sovereignty” hang over the entrance to many small
rural towns, a reference to his controversial land expropriations of 2000.
But all the while, Mr Tsvangirai and the other presidential contender, Simba
Makoni, a former finance minister, are launching incursions into his
heartland, spreading their message that Mr Mugabe has reached his sell-by
”All those people who are unemployed lift up your hand,” Mr Tsvangirai
bellowed to crowd after crowd as he criss-crossed Mashonaland East on
Wednesday. Each time more than three quarters of his audience raised a hand.
“Some of you who are dark,” he continued. “It’s not because you are dark but
because you have no money for soap...”
There were roars of laughter mixed with a weary acceptance that he had hit
the mark. “We are just looking for change,” said Moses Kapesi, 28, an
unemployed agricultural worker. “A bar of soap is Z$70m [less than US$2 but
about a fifth of a monthly wage for a farm worker]; no one here can afford
“Three years ago [the] MDC couldn’t pull a crowd here and the chiefs in the
rural area would treat you very harshly. Even today [Thursday] Zanu-PF were
trying to chase people away up the road. The old people used to listen, but
now we are telling our mums and dads to open their eyes. My dad voted
Zanu-PF before. I tell him things are not right. I cannot afford anything.
He understands. He is in the crowd.”
In a story that is echoed across Zimbabwe, his friend, Zvinai Hove, 36,
recounted how his mother died unnecessarily two months ago after a brief
malaria-like fever. There were no medicines at the local hospital and they
could not afford the admission fee. She was 59.
“Conditions are so very, very poor. Schoolchildren just go to school to feed
themselves from the WFP [World Food Programme], and then they come home
without attending any lessons. The chiefs always support Zanu-PF but people
are no longer supporting them.”
Zanu-PF still has state resources at its disposal. At one Tsvangirai rally
an army helicopter buzzed low over the crowd in what most saw as attempted
intimidation. But unlike in past elections, the security forces have mainly
stood by and let the opposition campaign.
“The women in the local market will vote for Mugabe,” said one young man.
“Zanu-PF comes to the market and hands out 50kg bags of mealie meal. They
can’t see beyond that.
“But most can no longer be taken for a ride. The way they are running the
show is ruining our lives. We leave school to end up on the street. There is