Farmers sue for $39 trillion Augustine
Mukaro DISPLACED white commercial farmers are contemplating arguably the
biggest lawsuit in Zimbabwean history of $39 trillion - more than the
national budget - against the state for losses incurred during the chaotic
land reform programme.
The lawsuit comes at a time when Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono, in a bid to arrest the country's crumbling economy, is
reportedly luring back displaced commercial
Highly-placed sources in the central bank said Gono had
constituted a National Land Board to draft an agricultural reconciliation
plan that will form the basis for rebuilding the agricultural
The land board is chaired by former Arda chief executive,
Liberty Mhlanga. Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) president Doug Taylor-Freeme
sits on the RBZ's agricultural taskforce which had a major input in the
agricultural reconciliation plan. CFU officials said the reconciliation plan
would re-call some commercial farmers to jump-start agricultural
"There are strong initiatives coming from the Reserve Bank
in conjunction with the Agriculture ministry," one official
"The dairy industry was the first to be approached by the
ministry's Department of Livestock and Development with evicted dairy
farmers being requested to return to their properties."
could be a clear admission that government's much-publicised land
programme was a failure.
On the lawsuit, a draft document by lawyers
indicates that so far more than 2 000 evicted farmers have completed the
evaluation of their assets and the losses they suffered when they were
forcibly evicted from their farms. The farmers say they suffered collective
damages of $39 trillion.
But the figure could rise sharply because at
least 4 000 farmers lost their properties in the controversial and often
violent land seizures that began five years ago.
Some of the
property was destroyed or looted by government-backed war veterans and other
state security agents.
The farmers are planning to file their case
with the local and international courts. Sources said farmers were
frustrated with government's failure to compensate them for improvements on
the acquired farms and other losses.
Government promised to compensate
farmers for developments only and not for the land. It shifted
responsibility for land compensation to the former colonial power, Britain,
which however rejected ultimate liability but agreed to mobilise resources
and provide funds for a well-planned land redistribution
"Government is not showing the will to compensate farmers,"
a displaced farmer spearheading the evaluation exercise said. "The partial
compensation extended to about 200 farmers constituted between 5-10% of the
value of the improvements."
He said the 200 farmers only accepted
the compensation because they had no alternative sources of income. Farmers
said figures for compensation were calculated by evaluating improvements on
the properties, lost income, damaged or vandalised equipment, relocation
expenses and the trauma which the farmer and his workers went through when
their farm was invaded.
At least 12 white commercial farmers lost
their lives in the chaotic process, while thousands of black farm workers
Critics of the land reforms blame Zimbabwe's poor
policies for the country's current food insecurity, arguing that the
majority of the "new farmers" lack experience and resources.
about 4 500 large-scale commercial white farmers operating in Zimbabwe five
years ago, there are about 500 left. Hundreds have been accommodated in the
Sadc region and in Nigeria where President Olusegun Obasanjo pledged that he
would not let the skills developed by Zimbabwe's white commercial farmers go
Justice for Agriculture chairman, John Worswick confirmed
that there were initiatives taking place but could not give
"Taylor-Freeme is directly involved in the negotiations. He
should be the right person to provide details," Worswick
Taylor-Freeme confirmed his appointment to the RBZ's
Govt probes Aids council, Noczim Godfrey
Marawanyika GOVERNMENT has ordered the Comptroller and Auditor-General to
launch a full scale probe on the Aids Levy and the accounts of National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim), after receiving complaints of abuse of funds,
it emerged this week.
The move is meant to bring accountability in
the two institutions that have benefited from public
Government collects at least $10 billion every month in Aids
Levy, which is handled by the National Aids Council (NAC). Employees
contribute 3% of their salary to the levy.
Health and Child
Welfare minister David Parirenyatwa said the ministry had ordered an audit
on NAC to ascertain how funds were spent.
"We want to know how the
public funds were spent," Parirenyatwa said. "We have to be accountable for
these funds. I am waiting for that report."
Acting Minister of Finance
Herbert Murerwa said he was not at liberty to discuss the audit of the Aids
Levy funds and Noczim.
"I cannot say anything on it right now. Talk
to the permanent Secretary, Willard (Manungo) or the principal director,
Manungo was not in the office
Katera, the principal director in the Ministry of Finance,
referred all questions to accountant general, Judith Madzorera, who was said
to be out of office yesterday.
Since inception, Noczim's accounts
have been subjected to various national probes without any
Last year the central bank ordered a probe into the
misuse of Noczim funds after the parastatal failed to deliver fuel to
various government departments.
MDC reports increased violence Gift Phiri DESPITE
government claims that it is adhering to democratic tenets as required by
the Sadc protocol on elections, there are allegations the police are making
overzealous arrests and stifling opposition meetings.
Wednesday arrested Bindura MDC candidate Joel Mugariri and the party's
Mashonaland Central provincial chairperson Tsapera Macheka for putting up
campaign posters in their constituency. They were taken to Bindura police
station where they were quizzed and released without charge.
arrest came hardly 24 hours after the release from police custody of Shamva
MDC candidate Gofrey Chimombe and two opposition youths, Mika Jack Jumbe and
Cleopas Muchenje, who had been arrested on Tuesday for putting up MDC
In Manyame, violence flared up last week when 11
MDC youths distributing campaign fliers were assaulted by a group of alleged
Zanu PF thugs. Their campaign material, which included T-shirts, posters and
fliers, were burnt by the Zanu PF mob. The incident happened at Renharm
primary school, about 50km out of Harare along Lomagundi
Last week, the government condemned the European Union's
decision to extend economic and diplomatic sanctions on Mugabe and several
ministers for failing to maintain democratic rule. Justice minister Patrick
Chinamasa said the EU had no justification for imposing sanctions in the
first place, saying they were based on "lies and propaganda against
But human rights activists, opposition politicians and
church leaders say the sanctions have come too late to counter the violence,
intimidation and draconian laws that have already done much to help the
ruling party manipulate the election.
Two weeks ago, a group of
soldiers attacked MDC officials coming from the launch of their party
manifesto in Masvingo.
Police chief spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena
this week denied the reports, accusing the MDC of making "false allegations"
on the attack by soldiers of three MDC candidates in Nyanga. MDC
spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi on Wednesday stood by the allegations,
saying his party was deeply disturbed by the refusal of the police to
properly investigate the incidents in question.
"The actions of the
police thus far in the election campaign have served to further erode public
confidence in the electoral process and further undermine its legitimacy,"
Immigration holds 'mercenaries' Gift
Phiri SIXTY-TWO "mercenaries" jailed on charges of flouting immigration laws
we expected to be released late yesterday but the Immigration department is
understood to have issued a detention warrant for the Zimbabwe Prison
Services to keep the group while they process their travel documents, the
Zimbabwe Independent heard yesterday.
Zimbabwe Prison Services public
relations officer Superintendent Gibson Mapokotera could not comment on the
release of the prisoners but sources at Chikurubi Maximum Prison confirmed
late yesterday that the men were still in prison awaiting their
The High Court on Wednesday reduced by four months the
sentences of the group after an appeal lodged in the High Court late last
year. Judge Yunus Omerjee gave no reasons when he handed down his
Jonathan Samkange, the lawyer representing the group, told
the Independent in a telephone interview from Namibia yesterday that his
clients were supposed to be released immediately. He said his clients were
initially serving a one-year term which had been reduced to eight
"But they qualify for a one-third remission of sentence
provided for well-behaved prisoners under Zimbabwean laws," Samkange
"Coupled with this reduction, all the men - except the two
received longer jail terms - should be released
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa professed ignorance
of the release of the prisoners saying: "I do not keep track of who is being
Efforts to obtain comment from Home Affairs minister Kembo
Mohadi were also fruitless as his mobile went unanswered.
Africa's ambassador to Zimbabwe Jeremiah Ndou told Reuter last night that
immigration officials were processing the men's papers.
papers are ready they will be ready to go," Ndou said. "Their lawyers are
here and they are working out how they will be taken home."
sources told the Independent that the men would be freed into the custody of
Zimbabwe's Immigration department for immediate deportation to South Africa
since they had been declared illegal immigrants.
MDC denied access to state media Gift
Phiri ZIMBABWE'S state media this week effectively denied the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) access ahead of the legislative vote on
In correspondence to the opposition party obtained by the
Zimbabwe Independent yesterday, the editors of both the Herald and Newsnet
said they would not guarantee the MDC unfettered access to the
"We will not be offering any political party any special
access to the Herald, which is a title in the stable of a public liability
company with several hundred shareholders, quoted on the Zimbabwe Stock
Exchange and governed by a board of directors elected by shareholders at
annual general meetings,"
Herald editor Pikirayi Deketeke wrote in a
letter to MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube.
"This is unlike
the broadcasting services, which traditionally offer special free party
political broadcasts during general elections."
The MDC had written
to the state-controlled daily seeking media coverage for its
The statement was made despite the fact that Zimbabwe is a
recent signatory to the Sadc protocol on principles and guidelines on
democratic elections which, among other provisions, stress the need for
political tolerance and binds member-states to allow all political parties
equitable access to the state media.
While it is true that the
Herald has several shareholders, the government holds 51% shareholding in
the listed company in trust for the Zimbabwean people, making it a public
Deketeke stated that the only access to the Herald would be
through normal advertising.
"On advertising, our policy is that
if any party or candidate wishes to buy space for an advertisement they may
do so subject to our normal commercial conditions," Deketeke said. "These do
include the right to reject advertising material that we consider unsuitable
because, for example, it is immoral, salacious, false or
While Newsnet editor-in-chief Tazzen Mandizvidza agreed to
allocate some free-to-air programmes to the MDC, the opposition party
immediately protested that the time was inadequate and heavily tilted in
favour of the ruling Zanu PF.
According to Mandizvidza's
correspondence, the opposition will be granted an interview with the state
broadcaster on March 7 and 18 only.
It will be given just one
discussion programme on March 14 and finally covered on March 25 when the
party will make its second manifesto presentation. While the opposition has
been given negligible access to the state media, the governing Zanu PF has
unfettered access, sometimes dominating entire main news
The MDC has been given 91 minutes for advertising and this
airtime can only be taken up in advertising slots of not more than 60
According to the advertising rates, it will cost $3,7 million to
broadcast a television advert for 60 seconds during prime time and the state
broadcaster is demanding cash upfront.
MDC spokesman Paul Themba
Nyathi bemoaned the exorbitant tariffs, emphasising that the MDC would find
it difficult to advertise.
This assertion was repeated by the party's
secretary for constitutional and legal affairs, David Coltart, who said:
"Since the protocol was signed, there is nothing yet to show that the
government of Robert Mugabe is committed to the Sadc Protocol ... On the
contrary, government is ensuring every day that the election will not be
free and fair."
Brian Kagoro, chief executive of Crisis in Zimbabwe
Coalition, a group of pro-democracy NGOs, said there was nothing surprising
about the statements.
"The Sadc protocol is just a collection of
basic guidelines," Kagoro said. "The guidelines are just that - guidelines -
and because they are not part of the country's enforceable laws, the Zanu PF
government can choose to ignore them or implement a few for cosmetic
purposes to avoid international isolation."
Govt appeals for greater donor aid aidbegging'
mission Augustine Mukaro AS prospects of a famine become glaringly clear,
the Zimbabwe government has intensified its negotiations with the donor
community to stave-off a humanitarian crisis.
officials in Harare confirmed that government would soon after this month's
general election submit a formal consolidated appeal to the agency. The UN
officials said government should have presented its appeal this month but
the parliamentary election has got in the way.
"Indications are that
government is ready to formally submit a consolidated appeal," said a UN
official who has been part of the team working with government and the donor
"All ministries which submitted requests agree that there
is need for donor assistance in the shortest time
Officials said requests for agricultural sector revival
and food assistance constitute over 50% of the country's appeal to the donor
An analyst however described government's delay to submit
the appeal as a political gimmick to avoid criticism ahead of a crucial
parliamentary election on March 31.
"An early appeal to the donor
community would expose government's initial claims that Zimbabwe did not
need food assistance as a sham," the analyst said.
Robert Mugabe told a Sky News crew last year that Zimbabwe would have a
bumper harvest and that donors should take their food to needy countries.
Agriculture minister Joseph Made weighed in, claiming that the country would
have a harvest of 2,4 million tonnes. A parliamentary committee confirmed
only 398 000 tonnes.
Since December last year, government, through
the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare, has been holding a series of
meetings with the donor community to solicit aid.
said the donor community was willing to help Zimbabwe once a formal appeal
is submitted. Donors need at least three months to mobilise resources and
ship food to a needy country. If the appeal is submitted in April, Zimbabwe
will only start receiving aid between July and August.
Other than the
countrywide food shortages, the country needs to revive the crumbling health
system and the economy in general which has been in free-fall since 1997
when government doled out an unbudgeted $4 billion to war veterans for their
role in the 1970s liberation struggle.
The South African Grain
Information Service (SAGIS) said in the week ended February 25 that about 7
778 out of 19 556 tonnes of export white maize went to Zimbabwe. The figure
brings to 30 000 tonnes the amount of grain imported by Zimbabwe since
November last year.
Information at hand shows that the cash-strapped
government has resorted to collecting money from rural populace to bankroll
its grain imports.
The money is collected through ruling party
structures of villages, wards and councils for the purchase of maize
imported through government's Grain Marketing Board.
from Gutu District in Masvingo province who have already started pooling
their meagre resources said local traditional leaders were compiling lists
of contributions that would be used to distribute the grain. Villagers are
understood to be paying about $35 000 for a 50kg bag of the staple
The GMB has been failing to bring enough maize into the
country, resulting in ration supplies, leading to widespread scarcities. The
limited supplies have created a boon for black marketers who charge higher
Zimbabwe is staring one of its worst agricultural seasons caused
by lack of planning on government's part. The government has dismally failed
to supply inputs to new farmers who were resettled during the land reform,
which started some five years ago.
Most of the irrigation
infrastructure which had been put up by white commercial farmers over many
years was destroyed by the farm invaders as part of a strategy to reduce the
quantum of compensation to the affected farmers.
This year the
farming community managed to plough about 900 000 hectares --- far less than
the targeted 4 million hectares. There were also critical shortages of fuel
and draught power, seed and other vital inputs like fertilisers.
Police 'force' MDC to abandon meeting Loughty
Dube THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was last week forced
to abandon a regional campaign strategic meeting for MPs in the three
Matabeleland provinces after police attempted to force themselves into the
venue at a Bulawayo hotel.
Police details from the law and order
section pounced on the venue just a few minutes before the opposition
legislators were due to begin a meeting called to discuss campaign
strategies ahead of the election on March 31.
The MDC was forced to
change the venue to the party headquarters after police refused to
MDC spokesperson for Bulawayo province, Victor Moyo, said
police behaviour was disgusting and interfered with their political
"The police officers refused to budge despite our
insistence that this was a strategic meeting that needed our senior members
only and there was no way we could allow the police to sit through the
"They refused to sanction the meeting and insisted that they
be allowed in. We had no option but to abandon the meeting temporarily until
we moved to the party's provincial headquarters," Moyo said.
said as a result, the party lost close to $6 million in venue booking fees
and further expenses for booked meals and teas.
Wayne Bvudzijena, said when police attend public functions their role is to
provide security to citizens and property.
"The police are always
there at public meetings to protect citizens' lives and property. To suggest
that they would be there for other purposes is not right," he
Moyo alleged that the police also stopped a road showboard the
MDC had applied for in Nkulumane suburb on Saturday last
"The road showboard is an effective campaign tool because we
will be moving along in vehicles displaying our banners and giving out
fliers to the public. But the police barred us from having the road
showboard alleging that it was likely to incite public violence," said
He said the MDC was not happy with the way the police handled
its applications to hold meetings and rallies. He said Zanu PF did not even
apply to the police to hold rallies.
"We have to approach the
police four to five days before any meeting but Zanu PF is allowed to hold
meetings any time they feel like without even notifying the police. Some of
our meetings are not approved without any reasons given," Moyo
Bvudzijena said it was not the duty of the police to stop a
party from holding meetings.
"The police are only notified but
they do not stop any meeting or rallies.
There are instances where some
rallies clash and the police indicate alternative dates. They never force
people to cancel meetings or rallies," he said.
The police have
in the past harassed and denied the opposition permission to hold rallies
and meetings under the notorious Public Order and Security Act.
last week police arrested MDC members at a similar strategic meeting held at
a Harare hotel.
It's Moyo all the way to Tsholotsho Moyo's
trumpcard Staff Writer AS the 2005 parliamentary election hype picks up
countrywide, the battle for Tsholotsho has begun in earnest with all the
attention focused on the district which hosted the alleged coup plotters
against President Mugabe.
Campaign posters are all over the place - even
ox-drawn carts have posters of former Information minister, Jonathan Moyo,
who has decided to stand in the constituency as an independent
However, only Moyo's posters are visible as one drives
towards Tsholotsho up to the business centre. There is nothing for the
opposition MDC or the ruling Zanu PF seen.
LeTsholotsho" (Forward with Tsholotsho) read Moyo's colourful posters that
also declare him as an independent candidate.
At Godzo business
centre, 25 kilometres from Tsholotsho, Moyo's posters are stuck on trees and
on bridges while at Nqoya centre, about 15 kilometres from Tsholotsho,
Moyo's posters compete against each other for space.
"We have a
situation where Moyo's teams are putting up posters at night and pulling
down ours," said Mtoliki Sibanda, the sitting MDC MP for the
Zanu PF district co-ordinating chairman for Tsholotsho, Vumile
Dube, said his party's posters were damaged by rains that pounded Tsholotsho
in the past week. He said, however, Zanu PF did not rely on posters to
campaign but on teams doing work on the ground.
Villagers at the
local business centre speak highly of Moyo and the development projects he
has initiated in Tsholotsho since 2000 when he took a keen interest in the
"The development we are seeing in Tsholotsho is new. We
had never seen this in the past 25 years. People are glad that Jonathan Moyo
is standing as an independent because the majority of the people were not
going to vote for him if he was to contest on a Zanu PF ticket," says
Siphiwe Mafu, a resident from nearby Mvundlana area.
people in the district will never vote for Zanu PF as long as President
Mugabe remains in power since the majority have never forgiven or forgotten
the cruel massacre of thousands of their relatives by Mugabe's South
Korea-trained Five Brigade.
"People have not forgotten the
Gukurahundi issue and they were not going to vote for Moyo if he was
standing on a Zanu PF ticket regardless of the development he has brought to
this area," says Mafu.
Tsholotsho, together with Lupane, bore the
brunt of the atrocities during the early 1980s disturbances that saw close
to 20 000 people being butchered in cold blood.
from all three contesting candidates criss-cross each other without incident
as they try to win the hearts of voters.
Police spokesman, Wayne
Bvudzijena, last week said the election campaign had been peaceful
countrywide and no incidents of violence have been recorded in
But the talk in this Matabeleland North district is
the candidature of Moyo who until last month was a very vocal minister in
President Mugabe's cabinet.
While Moyo is disliked elsewhere for
his vitriol and notorious media laws, he is the darling of the people of
Since he was elected a cabinet minister in 2000, Moyo has
initiated numerous development programmes in Tsholotsho that have seen the
main road linking the business centre with the local council offices being
widened and tarred while tower lights have been erected around the business
Moyo followed that up with the setting up of a scholarship fund
that benefits disadvantaged children from all over the
Under the fund, the top two students in each of the
over 90 primary and secondary schools in the constituency have their fees
paid by the minister.
However, it was the doling out of computers to the
majority of poor and underfunded schools around the constituency that
endeared Moyo to the Tsholotsho community.
Moyo was tipped to
easily stroll into parliament until he was sidelined for allegedly
organising and sponsoring the Dinyane meeting that saw him being barred from
contesting in the constituency. It was declared reserved for
Moyo then chose to stand as an independent candidate, a
move that led to his expulsion from Zanu PF party.
seeming overwhelming support in the constituency, there are some who believe
that he will not win the poll.
"He is not going to win the election.
People in rural areas do not understand what an independent is and he will
never win in Tsholotsho, never," said a Zanu PF activist.
no structures of his own and all along he was organising meetings using Zanu
PF structures. He was using party and government funds as if they were
coming from his pocket but the people know that the development is from the
party and government," he added.
He said the disgraced former
Information minister worked round the clock to win Tsholotsho but blundered
when he decided to stand as an independent candidate.
had stood on a Zanu PF ticket, the party was going to sweep everything in
Tsholotsho. But now Zanu PF has to fight it out with him," said the activist
who added that no one from Zanu PF had defected to Moyo's
"The only people we are aware of who jumped ship and joined
Moyo were in previous elections campaigning for the opposition MDC. As for
Zanu PF, no one left the party," he said.
However, the situation
on the ground is different.
At the business centre, the villagers are
content that Moyo is their saviour and most agree that he should represent
them in parliament.
"Senior Zanu PF leaders who are fighting Moyo
have done nothing for us. We now have a bank here and very soon we will not
be travelling to Nyamandlovu to sell and buy maize," says Thubelihle Nkomo,
pointing at the nearby Grain Marketing Board depot nearing completion and
the new Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe branch established through Moyo's
The sentiment about who is likely to win Tsholotsho changes
as you move further and further away from the business
"We have heard about Moyo who has done wonders for people at
the business centre but we have never seen him here," says Thembani Mhlanga
from Phumula area, 35 kilometres West of Tsholotsho centre.
still waiting for him to bring similar development projects. We also want
electricity here and we want him to tar our roads, too."
battle in Tsholotsho appears to be mainly between Sibanda and Moyo since
Musa Mathema of the ruling Zanu PF, despite growing up in Tsholotsho, is an
Most villagers said Mathema was imposed on the
constituency as a result of the influence of her husband, Cain Mathema, the
governor of Bulawayo Metropolitan who also comes from
"Musa Mathema was imposed on the people and now it is
pay-back time. The people have vowed not to vote for her. The contest is
really between the MDC and Moyo," added Mhlanga, saying Zanu PF was a dark
horse in the race.
Another villager disputed the allegations that
Mathema was a newcomer to Tsholotsho.
"Musa Mathema is a local
person, she grew up at eMakwakhweni, just three kilometres from Tsholotsho
business centre. She is also popular with the locals and come April 1, she
would be the new MP for Tsholotsho," he said without a hint at a fool's day
Moyo however seems to enjoy the support of local chiefs whom he
helped to acquire new trucks under a government
Tsholotsho has four chiefs - Tategulu, Gampu, Magama and
Mathuphula. Chief Tategulu, who controls three large wards in the
constituency, is Moyo's uncle and is said to be campaigning for
"We might have a problem with the chiefs because we know some
of them are still aligned to Moyo. We know some are campaigning for him. We
know Tategulu is Moyo's uncle but that does not mean he is campaigning for
him," said a villager.
The MDC and Moyo, however, could be undone
by the new Delimitation
Commission demarcations that moved the entire
Siphepha area in Tsholotsho into Hwange East constituency while adding four
more wards from the new resettlement areas into the Tsholotsho
The four new wards include resettled farmers and war
veterans who are the majority of voters.
Moyo comes from Siphepha
and one of his elder uncles, Mlevu, is a headman in Siphepha while most of
her aunts are based in the area.
The MDC MP, Sibanda, who also hails
from Mathuphula area in Siphepha, says the ceding of Siphepha to Hwange East
and the addition of new areas are is one way of boosting Zanu PF votes in
Sibanda however said the MDC remained confident of
retaining the seat despite these setbacks.
"The police still want
us to apply for permission to hold meetings but Zanu PF is allowed to hold
rallies without even notifying the police. We will still win despite the
addition of invaded farms to the constituency," Sibanda said.
Moyo fails to snatch the Tsholotsho seat he would be relegated to the
dustbins of Zimbabwean politics.
Outrage at Senate proposal Ray Matikinye THE
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) has expressed outrage at Zanu PF's
plans to accommodate those of its members who lost party primary elections
held earlier this year in the proposed Senate.
The civic body said
the ruling party's proposal was an insult to the collective intelligence of
Zimbabwe and "and an affront to their aspiration for a free and democratic
"The NCA is appalled that Zanu PF has the boldness to even
suggest the abuse of national constitutional reform to reward rejects of its
own political process by creating a Senate for them," the civic organisation
said in a statement this week.
President Robert Mugabe this week
assured those of his party members who lost in primaries that they would be
accommodated in the Senate under proposed constitutional reforms to be
instituted after the general election if Zanu PF wins a two-thirds
Mugabe told campaign rallies in Hurungwe and Zvimba this
week that the Senate would be introduced by June this year as his party was
confident of winning a two-third majority needed for constitutional
Said the NCA: "Zimbabweans deserve and have a right to
vibrant, relevant and democratic national institutions not the museum of
political dinosaurs," adding that such a House would more aptly be called a
The NCA has hailed the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change for its commitment to give the people an opportunity to make a
transparent, accountable and inclusive constitution if it wins the
Military still in charge of polls Gift Phiri THREE
years after the widely-condemned presidential poll, military and
intelligenceofficers, who as election agents helped President Robert Mugabe
to retain power, remain in charge, the Zimbabwe Independent learnt this
Official sources said army and intelligence officers seconded
by Mugabe to the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) ahead of the
presidential poll in 2002 were still supervising the electoral process on
behalf of Zanu PF.
Government recently appointed retired Brigadier
Kennedy Zimondi chief elections officer, replacing Brigadier Douglas
Nyikayaramba, who was a key agent during the presidential poll. Sources said
Brigadier Nyikayaramba, who is currently stationed at 2 Brigade, was removed
from the ESC after loud protests by opposition parties and civic society
that he could not be part of the electoral supervisory body while he was a
serving officer of the army.
Former ESC chair Sobusa Gula-Ndebele
- a former military intelligence officer who was appointed the new
Attorney-General recently - has been replaced by Theophilus Gambe, a
commissioner who presided over the flawed 2000 and 2002
The Independent understands that several military and
intelligence officers are still in charge of the official election
monitoring body that civil society has criticised as a tool of the
ESC commissioner Joyce Kazembe confirmed that there were
military officers servicing in the election supervisory body but denied that
Mugabe had appointed them.
"We are an independent body," Kazembe
said. "Never has the president given anybody a directive on how we should
use state employees. We have military officers as members of the
secretariat. Most of the secretariat members are drawn from the Public
Service. The ESC has over the past five years deliberately tried to maintain
permanent core staff."
Sources said seconded military officers were
presently preoccupied with the conduct of the forthcoming legislative
"They are busy working on the forthcoming election from
Hardwicke House (CIO offices along Samora Machel Avenue)," a source
"They have already finished scrutinising the voters' roll and
are now doing intelligence appreciation of the situation before the
Inspection of the voters' roll by the public ended three
weeks ago. March 31 has been set as the date for the parliamentary
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and
Zanu PF managed to field candidates in all the 120 constituencies at the end
of the nomination court last Friday.
The Independent heard that
some of the military officers involved in supervising the electoral process
were Major Sibindi from KG VI army headquarters and Major Kampira from the
"These guys have been working on elections since
before the presidential poll in 2002. They were part of a large military
network assigned to the presidential election," the source
The Independent understands that Mugabe promoted Gambe to the
position of ESC chair in consultation with the Judicial Services Commission.
He has retained the rest of the commissioners who presided over the rigged
2000 and 2002 election. These are Kazembe, Erica Fungai Ndewere-Mususa and
Tendayi Musekiwa Mberi.
There is still a vacancy for one
commissioner following the elevation of Gambe. Mugabe is expected to appoint
the other commissioner in consultation with the Speaker of the House,
Fuel price freeze a vote-catcher Shakeman
THE government last week ordered all major fuel
companies to freeze prices in a move that analysts believe is part of the
ruling party's efforts to lure voters in the upcoming parliamentary poll.
The companies had raised fuel prices in response to the sliding value of the
local currency, which has been in a free-fall for the past seven months both
on the auction floors and on the parallel market. The energy importers were
also reacting to the upsurge in international fuel prices that have been
galloping since last year. In its ultimatum, the government indicated
that it would not tolerate any fuel price increases before the
In a letter to petrol retailers, the Petroleum Marketers of
Zimbabwe (PMZ), acting at the behest of government, demanded an immediate
reversal of the price hikes arguing that this could tarnish Zanu PF's image
ahead of the month-end election. "Your actions of increasing pump prices
are, inter alia, contrary to the central bank's economic turnaround strategy
and will tarnish the government's image ahead of the forthcoming elections,"
said the letter. "There are in fact paradoxical to the government's
deregulation of the fuel sector." (Quote is verbatim.) The letter also
directed that prices be pegged at $3 600 per litre for petrol and $3 650 for
diesel. It further pegged the prices in the southern region at $3 800 and $3
850 for petrol and diesel respectively.
"May you please refrain from any
pump price increase in future without the express and written authority of
the PMZ," the letter said. All fuel procured through the National Oil Company
of Zimbabwe (Noczim) has already been reduced to $3 350 and $3 400 per litre
for petrol and diesel respectively. Analysts view this as an overt case of
vote-buying, especially among the urban electorate who are largely
pro-opposition. In the last parliamentary election government lost all urban
seats in Harare and Bulawayo to the Movement for Democratic Change
They say the move reflects government's desperation, which also
characterised the previous elections. Over the past 25 years, the Zanu PF
government has been known to spring populist policies just before an
election such as the farm invasions and price controls. This has resulted in
temporary reprieve for the electorate, which later suffer when the
government fails to sustain these piece-meal measures. The private sector
has in the past borne the brunt of price controls instituted under the guise
of consumer protection but are actually meant to bolster Zanu PF's
The fiscus has also been raided to finance hefty
salary hikes for civil servants. Government recently increased civil
servants' salaries by between 250 and 600%. It is probably the biggest
salary review in the history of public sector negotiations.While government
insists that these are genuine measures to improve the welfare of the
workers, analysts say there is a worrying trend where these popular measures
are introduced just before the elections. Analysts say civil servants'
salaries are heftier in election years.
However, the move to control
prices of basic commodities and essential services is tantamount to forcing
the private sector to participate indirectly in the government's campaign
and pre-election public relations stunt. "It is a vote-buying tactic. The
salary hikes, the fuel price freeze are part of that scheme," said Eric
Bloch, a Bulawayo-based economic commentator. "But that is abuse of power
which will eventually hit the customer because the manufacturers will hike
the prices after elections to cover the losses, " Bloch said.
the vote-buying tactics included increases in allowances for the war
veterans. The government recently increased war veterans' allowances by
about 200%. There are also plans to compensate the war collaborators to the
tune of $10 million one-off payment per individual and allowances
thereafter. The one-off payment will gobble in excess of $60 billion from
the fiscus, which has not been budgeted.Chiefs and village headmen have also
received a 150% increase in their allowances. Most chiefs have been given
subsidised vehicles, had their homes electrified and boreholes sunk in their
All these beneficiaries have in the past been crucial to
the Zanu PF election machinery. The war veterans played an important role
during the 2000 parliamentary and 2002 presidential elections, which the
ruling party won narrowly. They have also been used to intimidate the
electorate. The chiefs and headmen have also been used in the campaign, with
recent reports of some of them threatening to evict opposition supporters
from their areas.
Analysts said the payouts to chiefs, civil servants and
war veterans create a large hole in the fiscus that will have to be filled
by printing more money or raising taxes. "It is just not sustainable and the
government knows that it does not make economic sense," Bloch said. The
controls on industry and commerce have however taken a new dimension with
government roping in the central bank to dictate the prices of goods and
services. Recently the RBZ instituted a blanket ban on price increases for
services offered by parastatals and local authorities.
Gideon Gono has put 70% as the ceiling of increases that can be instituted
by any service provider. A proposed 120% hike on energy by Zesa was recently
blocked by the central bank on the basis that it would stoke up inflation.
Local authorities have also been forced to revise downwards their budget
proposals in line with Gono's dictates. Dr Alex Magaisa, a lecturer at
Nottingham University in the UK, said the policy was bound to
"If state intervention in setting prices fails to reflect
market realities, the result might be that business will become too costly
to run," said Magaisa. "Eventually businesses will have to close - which
affects not just the supply but employment and has knock-on effects on
related entities. The fixing process may be convenient for political
expediency, but it may have dire consequences for industry in the long-run,"
he said Harare city council is however still seeking to increase rates by
between 300 and 600%. The city treasury department has described Gono's 70%
benchmark as not feasible considering the state of the
Bulawayo and Chitungwiza on the other hand are seeking rate
increases of not less than 250%. Gono has said hefty increases will not
be tolerated since local authorities should benefit from a $10 trillion seed
fund as bridging finance. Local authorities have described the fund as a
drop in an ocean. Analysts say Gono's moves are short-term appeasements
geared to hoodwink the electorate. "They say it's part of the anti-inflation
drive but it's a clear campaign strategy," said Brian Kagoro, a political
"That has been their system of offering piece-meal measures
that in the end destroy the economy," Kagoro said. He said the government
was penalising manufacturers and service providers. "There is every reason
to view this as a blatant vote-buying tactic."
Implications of electoral legislation By Otto
Saki "IF a person cannot walk into the middle of the town square and express
his views without fear of arrest, imprisonment, or physical harm, then that
person is living in fear society, not a free society," said Nathan
Constitutional law and international
human rights law make it implicit on Zimbabwe to conduct regular and genuine
elections. Everyone is entitled to take part in the government of his
country either directly or through freely chosen representatives, without
distinction on any grounds.
The war of liberation in Zimbabwe was
fought as a result of the need to have equal suffrage and for that we have
to acknowledge the role of the freedom fighters but are we going to be
eternally grateful if the rate at which we attained those rights is being
superseded by the desire and thrust to undermine them? When people say they
fought for majority rule in essence, they are saying they fought to attain
free and fair elections.
Since independence our government has kept
us in a perpetual state of fear. There is always a terrible evil at home or
some monstrous foreign power that intends to gobble us. The relationship of
such paranoia to elections is obvious as evidenced by the laws which have
been enacted since the last major election or referendum and lately attempts
to level the electoral field by passing of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
Act and the Electoral Act.
The role of the media in elections can
never be underestimated for the media is a tool for influencing opinions and
change in every democracy.
The free practice of the profession of
journalism is an issue of concern with regards to the coming
The democratic process and the development of every human
being are options, for which the protection of freedom of expression is
Principles for conducting democratic
elections include that any poll shall allow full participation of the
citizens in the political process, inclusiveness, intra-party democratic
culture, political party institutional development, freedom of association
and political tolerance. The principles also include regular intervals for
elections as provided for by the respective constitutions, equal access to
the state media for all parties, equal opportunity to exercise the right to
vote and to be voted for, independence of the judiciary and impartiality of
the electoral institutions and voter education.
principles are internationally accepted and locally recognised and should
therefore be respected, promoted, enforced and
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act
creates the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission whose mandate is to prepare for
and conduct the elections for the office of the president, parliament, local
authorities and referendums. The commission is also mandated to ensure that
those elections and referendums are conducted efficiently, freely, fairly
and transparently and in accordance with the law. It is also expected to
direct and control the registration of voters, to compile voters' roll and
registers and to ensure the proper custody and maintenance of voters' rolls
and registers and to design and print ballot papers.
The appointment of members of the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission lies in the domain of the office of the president and
the Judicial Service Commission. Many recommendations were made by the civil
society headed by Zimbabwe Election Support Network but these seem to have
yielded no results.
Some of the recommendations were that a
five-member commission should be appointed by parliament from nominees put
forward by a bi-partisan parliamentary committee; parliament would have to
appoint the nominees by a two-thirds majority, to ensure that the appointees
are generally acceptable, or a nine-member commission should be appointed by
parliament from nominees put forward by the Judicial Service Commission, the
Law Society, parliament and the National Association of Non-Governmental
The Judicial Service Commission, in
consultation with the Law Society, would nominate the chairman, who would
have to be qualified to be a judge. Parliament would appoint four of the
remaining members from nominees selected by a bi-partisan parliamentary
committee, and the Law Society and Nango would elect the remaining four, or
a 15-member commission should be constituted with up to a third of its
members being suitable foreigners, perhaps drawn from electoral commissions
in the Sadc region.
Reasons for such varied from the need to have an
inclusive and representative commission. In light of the current state of
the appointment of members of the commission, some key sectors of society
and opposition parties still question the degree of independence of the
Voter education will be a
prerogative of the commission and political parties. The restrictions which
are imposed on other entities to provide voter education are wide and far
from the constitutional mark. For one to be allowed to conduct voter
education you will have to be citizens or residents of Zimbabwe, or
associations consisting wholly of citizens or residents; the courses of
instruction has to be approved by the commission; organisations or
individuals involved in such voter education should not receive foreign
funding for such activities.
The Act makes specific reference to
the NGO Act, which is not yet in force as the regulating law for the
registration of organisations that intend to carry out voter education. Some
of the provisions of the NGO Act have been criticised for their obvious
effect of strangulation of the civil society in Zimbabwe. The definition of
issues of governance includes the promotion and protection of human rights,
which in earnest can be deemed to include voter education for it falls on
issues of good governance and human rights.
Sections 13,14,15, and 16 of
the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act can be described as an affront to
constitutionalism and democracy. Such provisions beg the abundance or lack
of wisdom on the part of the government or the
Section 3 of the
Electoral Act stipulates the general principles of a democratic election,
which is a reaffirmation of international standards of the right of citizens
to participate in governance issues through freely chosen representatives.
This should be achieved without distinction on any grounds to join a
political party of one's choice, to participate in peaceful activities to
influence and challenge policies of government and to influence the
composition and policies of government. This is a laudable provision for it
attempts to regularise the general conduct of elections to meet the
recognised international democratic standards.
The further inclusion
in the Act that all political parties shall be allowed to campaign freely
within the law and have reasonable access to the media is commendable. But
the reality on the ground is yet to establish the extent of adherence to the
same by the government through the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings. There is
a need however to have reporting of a balanced nature, without use of hate
language, racial attacks which in the past has been the style of reporting
in the state media towards electoral periods.
A monitor means a person appointed and accredited in terms
of the Act. The monitors are to be recruited from members of the Public
Service. This is a dangerous provision for it allows the government to use
individuals or particular sections of the Public Service, which are
considered to be sympathetic or apologetic to the
The Electoral Supervisory Commission is empowered to
appoint monitors from the Public Service and deploy them to every polling
station. The reasons of appointing and deploying members of the Public
Service as monitors still escapes many. Accountability has been raised as
one of the reasons, but seems unsatisfactory in the sense that if there is a
code of conduct for the general role of the monitors, anyone who is
accredited as a monitor should be bound by that code.
society should have been included in the process of appointing and
accreditation of observers and monitors.
Postal voting in elections in Zimbabwe has remained an
exclusive right for those who are away from Zimbabwe such as a member of the
armed forces, or a spouse to such a person or an electoral officer. This
provision is discriminatory to other citizens and nationals who are outside
the confines of Zimbabwe for various reasons.
The government has
objected to the fact that those in the diaspora should vote on the basis
that it is unconstitutional. Excluding Zimbabweans in the diaspora from
participating in the political process clearly discriminates against them
and I contend that this is outlawed under Section 23 of the Constitution of
In addition to the protection against discrimination in the
constitution, the government promulgated the Prevention of Discrimination
Act Chapter 8:16 which prohibits discrimination on a number of grounds, thus
proving beyond doubt that the government is indeed committed to
The provisions of the Electoral Act must of necessity
be interpreted in such a way that all of the freedoms and protections that
are afforded Zimbabweans under international and constitutional human rights
law are fully protected and that this can be done by ensuring that
arrangements are made for Zimbabweans in the diaspora to vote in general and
presidential elections as and when they are held.
the Sadc region such as Botswana and Mozambique have been able to carry out
such processes of allowing their citizens to participate in the elections in
their countries. No justifiable reason has been given by the government to
deny the diaspora the right to vote. It is ironic that the state has been
imploring those in the diaspora to contribute to the development of Zimbabwe
through the Homelink scheme.
disputes should be solved within a reasonable period of time to allow
citizens to be given a second chance to express themselves if the court
deems the elections a nullity. During the 2000 Parliamentary elections a
number of constituency results were contested. The President had issued
regulations under the Electoral Act (Modification) No 3 SI 318/2000 which
sought to legalise the outcome of the elections and oust the jurisdiction of
the courts in dealing with electoral petitions. The opposition took the
matter to the Supreme Court, which remarkably ruled that:
MDC had a civil right to partake on an election that was free and fair and
devoid of corrupt or illegal practices, to challenge the result of an
election which was claimed to be tainted by corrupt and illegal practices
and to seek practical and meaningful redress in the form of a High Court
order certifying that the results were tainted. The notice effectively
deprived them of that right. The right of full and unimpeded access to
courts is of cardinal importance for the adjudication of justiciable
This decision was to say the least was a "brutal full
men" or in ordinary parlance English an empty thunderous order for all the
election petitions were not solved and the judiciary passed the buck onto
the litigants themselves. The Electoral Court will not be spared of the
troubles, which have haunted the present judiciary. Perceptions of
dependence and partiality, administrative delays and pitfalls will also
beleaguer the court. There are no provisions to stop the president from
issuing regulations in terms of the Presidential Powers to legalise the
outcome of the elections.
Broadcasting Services Act
Act has created a monopoly of the airwaves, which has been challenged in a
number of court cases. The Electoral Act stipulates that political parties
shall have reasonable access to the media. Then Information minister
Jonathan Moyo in response to the provisions said access to the media was not
an actionable right that could be claimed.
And further to that,
newspapers have been allowed through their editorial policies not to
highlight materials of political parties they don't feel like publishing.
Under the Act Section 2(1) of the Fifth Schedule, "during the election
period a broadcaster broadcasts election matter, the broadcaster shall give
reasonable and equal opportunities for the broadcasting of election matter
to all parties contesting the election".
The Act defines election
time to be 30 days before the polling day for the elections and ends at the
close of polling day or the last day of polling. This provision should be
repealed for the fact that before the election period, the ruing party has
unfettered access to the state controlled media.
The issue which this
provision raises is of freeing the airwaves. While the state has contended
that you can't have a country that is perpetually in election mode from
January to December, this view shows the narrowed view of the importance of
freeing the airwaves and reflection of the notion that the state still has
to retain the monopoly of the airwaves and determine what is newsworthy or
not newsworthy for Zimbabweans. To some an election is an event while to
some it's a process, which starts way before the actual polling days. The
Act has retained a limited, narrow and shortsighted definition of election
There are laws, which might not be directly related to
electoral periods such as the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act and Public Order and Security Act, but have a direct impact on
the enjoyment of rights related to participation of citizens in an election.
This includes as the right to freely assemble and express one's
*Produced for the Zimbabwe Election Support Network by Otto
Saki - projects lawyer, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights.
IT is official. Zanu PF is pressing for a two-thirds majority to
enable it to amend the constitution in the middle of the year to reintroduce
the Senate. President Mugabe last weekend told a rally in Hurungwe
District that the envisaged Senate would accommodate Zanu PF members who
lost in the party primary elections. We hope this is not the executive's
only motivation in reestablishing the bi-cameral parliamentary system, which
was abolished in 1989.
But for a government which premises reward on
cronyism, we were not at all surprised by the latest quest to accommodate
politicians who were rejected by the people at the primaries. At a time when
people are looking for MPs who serve their interests, the latest effort by
Mugabe is set to create an institution whose members owe allegiance to the
executive first instead of serving the people.
Those given a second
bite of the cherry to practise politics, albeit as senators, as is evident
in the current parliament, only serve to make up the numbers for the ruling
party with little real contribution to the nation. In 2000 the 57 seats won
by the opposition MDC prevented Zanu PF's pursuit of a two-thirds majority
which it needed to amend the constitution to, among other things,
reintroduce the Senate.
The real issue here was not that Zimbabweans were
against the concept of a second house. The opposition, which campaigned
feverishly against Mugabe's draft constitution, also spoke of the need for a
second house but the party differed with Zanu PF on the reason to broaden
the legislature. A Senate made up of yes men would only entrench autocracy
and perpetuate a system devoid of checks and balances. Not much has
changed since 2000 and we believe that the proposed Senate will only serve
to rubber -stamp party policies instead of providing robust interventions on
despotic legislation which is in conflict with the constitution. In a
functioning parliamentary system, all new legislation is referred to the
Senate whose role is to pick out unconstitutional clauses and recommend
The Senate should therefore have experienced lawmakers who
understand the spirit of every proposed piece of legislation. It is a
legislative institution which should be the custodian of best practices in
governance and not a conveyor belt of dictatorial laws.
institution can be poisonous to the democratic process if it is staffed by
the wrong people, especially those who are only too ready to nod through
retrogressive pieces of legislation because they are beneficiaries of
presidential patronage. Zanu PF deadwood which Mugabe is promising jobs in
the Senate does not inspire confidence. A lot of them will not be different
from chiefs in the current parliament who are woken up from deep sleep to
vote on legislation they know next to nothing about. More worrying though is
the fact that the Senate will not be allowed to carry out its mandate of
combing the statute books for bad laws as long as the Zanu PF government
believes that every law brought to parliament must be passed. We have seen
how recommendations of the Parliamentary Legal Committee were ignored when
repressive laws such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act and the Public Order and Security Act were forced through the
This mindset of the party is not likely to evaporate with the
setting up of a bi-cameral system. In fact, the Senate would be invited to
lend legitimacy to the repression. Apart from providing checks and
balances in law making, a functioning Senate should also be involved in
vetting and ratifying key appointments to government and quasi-government
bodies. This role has remained largely the preserve of the executive. The
results are manifest in the way parastatals have been run down. There is no
A Senate should also be representative of various
interest groups such as women, youths, the disabled, trade unions,
ex-combatants, farmers, conservationists and business. There should
therefore be proper consultation in selecting candidates for the upper house
so that it is representative of the country's different groupings.
is therefore imperative that attempts to establish a partisan Senate are
resisted by the electorate. In fact, as the National Constitutional Assembly
said this week, "any political party that attains a two-thirds majority in
parliament and then manipulates that advantage to tinker with the
constitution for self-serving ends would be betraying the sacred and
patriotic hopes of Zimbabweans".
State in climbdown over money laundering Conrad
Dube IN a major climb-down, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe, the Ministry of
Finance and the Attorney General have conceded that the Bank Use Promotion
and Suppression of Money Laundering Act Chapter 24:24 violates the
independence of the legal profession.
A possible amendment of the
legislation is on the cards after a comprehensive joint review to be carried
out by the Law Society of Zimbabwe, the RBZ, Finance ministry and AG's
The lawyers had instituted a constitutional challenge in
terms of Section 24 of the constitution the requirement for them to record,
report and disclose information passed to them by their clients in
The obligations is in terms of Sections 24,25,26,27,28
and 29 of the Bank Use Promotion and Suppression of Money Laundering Act
Chapter 24:24. The lawyers argued that such obligations violate a number of
fundamental rights guaranteed by the constitution and the core values of the
The sections require lawyers to record information
from clients not for the client's own use but for use by the government and
law enforcement agents. They also require lawyers to report suspicious
information and large cash transactions to incriminate the clients. Lawyers
cannot disclose to the client the fact that the information has been passed
on to third parties.
The constitutional challenge was postponed after
the parties agreed to work out comprehensive and collaborative arrangements
to ensure the prevention and deterrence of use of legal practitioners' trust
accounts for money laundering purposes without violating fundamental human
rights and core values of the legal profession.
A copy of the
memorandum of agreement to postpone the challenge, says: "The Bank Use
Promotion of Money Laundering Act Chapter 24:24 requires a comprehensive
review as it was enacted urgently to deal with a situation of monetary
emergency which had arisen at the time it was promulgated.
review should address issues such as compliance with internationally
recognised human rights norms and the protection of the independence of the
legal profession as well as attorney and client
The parties agreed to establish a collaborative
relationship between the Law Society and the RBZ and also to establish a
framework for detecting, preventing and deterring money laundering without
violating fundamental human rights or any of the core values of the legal
In its application to the Supreme Court, the Law Society
had argued that imposing the recording, disclosure and reporting obligations
on designated institutions by some sections of the Suppression of Money
Laundering Act violate core values of legal practitioners, particularly the
duty by lawyers to observe confidentiality in respect of all communications
received by them as legal practitioners.
They had also argued
that no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of
expression, freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart
The lawyers argued: "The recording, disclosure and reporting
requirements will deter full disclosure of all relevant information by
clients to their legal practitioners and will consequently, interfere with
the right to a fair trial in contravention of section 18 of the
They also alleged the requirements violated the right
to privacy and the right not to incriminate oneself.
as agents of their clients. What they are compelled to disclose is as good
as disclosed by their clients. Where information is incriminating, a
situation whereby the client effectively incriminates himself, through his
agent, is created. This is inconsistent with the right not to incriminate
oneself," the lawyers said.
The application is meant to stop the
state from conscripting legal practitioners to act as state agents contrary
to their clients' interests.
Zim's cost of living surges 10,5% Shakeman
Mugari COMMODITIES in Zimbabwe's basket of basic needs have gone up by an
average 21% pushing the cost of living by about 10,5%, a local consumer
watchdog has said.
The increase has some semblance to the January's
inflation figure of 10,2%. The increase in the price of basic commodities
means that an average family of six now needs about $1 969 090 up from last
January's $1 774 686 to get through the month.
Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) attributed the increase in the cost of living to
the recent hikes in the prices of basic commodities.
expenditure for the CCZ family of six for the month of February 2005 has
risen to $1 969 090 from the January 2005 figure of $1 774 686," said CCZ in
its February consumer report.
A family of six, according to the
survey, is made up of two parents and four children.
protection organisation said this indicated an increase of
It said the increase in the overall budget was largely a
result of increases in both food and non-food items.
movers in the basket were flour, which went up by 30%, rice by 38%, salt
22%, washing soap by 25%, while rent also rose by 25%," CCZ
Marginal increases were also recorded on items like margarine,
footwear, fresh milk, cooking oil and bath soap among other
items. The new figures from the CCZ are likely to strengthen the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU)'s bargaining platform ahead of salary
negotiations due anytime soon. The ZCTU has said it would be demanding a
minimum $2 million pay cheque for each worker regardless of the
The demands are, however, likely to be met with fierce
resistance from the employers who say their margins are already under
pressure. There is likely to be a standoff between the union and
Meanwhile, the Tripartite Negotiating Forum is a still in
CZI/Zesa meet over power blues Godfrey
Marawanyika THE Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) Holdings last
week met with the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) over power
distribution problems caused by undercapitalisation.
called by Zesa, was also attended by former CZI acting chief executive
officer, Farai Zizhou, executive chairman of Zesa, Sydney Gata and his
corporate affairs manager, Obert Nyatanga.
Officials who attended the
meeting said the power utility highlighted its major problems which pertain
to power supply and tariff adjustments.
Zesa said it was facing
critical shortages of foreign currency and was being forced to levy
sub-economic rates due to pressure from both industrialists and
Government has not yet approved a proposal by Zesa to
raise rates by 120% as of the beginning of the year.
could not be reached for comment this week as he was said to be out of the
CZI president Pattison Sithole said although he did not
attend the meeting his organisation's members were addressed by
"I did not attend the meeting personally, but some of our
members attended," he said.
"Our members raised concerns about
the non-reliability of the supply side which has affected our output. This
was a dialogue process where they also told our members the problems they
The power utility also says it is worried by government
delays to appoint an independent regulatory authority. The authority is
expected to promote competition and level the playing field for all
The authority will be responsible for issuing licences
to industry players and operate a market mix of regulated and unregulated
Some of the constraints Zesa and its subsidiaries
are facing pertain to inability to maintain transmission and distribution
The old system has led to a number of faults which have
made power supplies unreliable to industry and commerce.
Zesa has not announced load-shedding, failure to maintain transmission
networks has resulted in the organisation failing to detect faults, which
has caused power interruptions.
Permanent secretary in the Ministry
of Energy, Justin Mupamhanga, said an independent regulatory authority would
be set up once the technical framework was in place.
is being done although these guys will always complain," Mupamha-nga said on
"We are following laid-down procedures. The regulatory
authority will be established once the process is
Zesa officials also told the meeting that the network was
overstretched and their predicament was worsened by the shortage of
Forex shortages batter Zim dollar Shakeman
Mugari THE Zimbabwean dollar continues to tumble on the parallel market as
foreign currency shortages on the auction floors drive desperate bidders on
to the black market.
The parallel market has been galloping over the
past six months boosted by perennial foreign currency shortage on the
This week the fragile Zimbabwean dollar plunged even
further against the world's major currencies.
It has also been
trailing other major regional currencies that are buoyed by better economic
The Zimdollar this week traded at a record low of $22
000 against the British pound. In some cases the rate was higher depending
on the volumes on offer.
This is up on last week's $21 000 versus
the British pound. The dollar has lost more than 50% of its value over the
part six months.
On the auction rate the Zimdollar has shed just 10%
during the same period.
In October last year the parallel rate of the
pound against the dollar was hovering around $13 600 while the official rate
was floating at around $10 000.
The local currency has also
continued weaker against the United States dollar, which ironically has been
struggling against other major world currencies like the euro, pound and the
yen of Japan.
On the parallel market the US dollar is fetching about
$11 500. There are other black spots in the city centre where the rate is as
high as $12 500 depending on the volumes on offer. Six months ago black
market rate was around US1:$7 500.
On the auctions the Zimdollar
has been losing ground gradually from a rate of $5 600 last year to the
current $6 100:US$1.
The dollar has also come under pressure against
regional currencies which are also firming. It lost ground against the rand
slipping on the parallel market to $2 500:R1 from about $1 250:R1 at the
close of last year.
The auction on the other hand was slow to move,
notching just over $1 000 against the rand compared to about $980:R1 by
December last year.
Analysts say the unattractive rates on the official
market have created a ready market for the parallel market that shows no
signs of relenting at the moment.
Demand continues to surpass
supply and inflows on the auction. Some companies have had to wait for more
than three months to get a foreign currency allocation.
January the central bank rejected 93% foreign currency bids on the auction
market up from 88% bids which were thrown out in December.
the shortfall in the official market is being filled by the parallel market
rate. They say the trend is likely to continue in the long-term until there
is enough foreign currency to go around.
Transforming rhetoric into reality Dr Alex T
Magaisa THERE has been much hype about the so-called "Look East policy" from
the government in the last few years.
The thrust of this policy
appears to be that Zimbabwe must build alliances with, and increase trade
links with countries such as China, Malaysia, Singapore, etc located mainly
in South East Asia and the Far East. This is partly a response to political
differences between the government of Zimbabwe and predominantly Western
countries such as the USA and the UK which have strained relations and
isolated the country which for some years has been trying to pursue
Western-oriented economic policies. It is also a demonstration of the
historical connections between the liberation movements whose leadership now
constitutes the country's government and the Asian countries like China,
which were supportive. It may also be a recognition of the economic
potential and opportunities in the emerging economies of those East Asian
In this article, I argue that while the policy of building
stronger economic relations with the East Asian countries is a commendable
strategy, it is necessary to translate rhetoric into
Secondly, we argue that the pursuance of such a strategy
does not necessarily mean that Zimbabwe should ignore or break relations
with the Western countries and institutions.
There is much
substance in pursuing economic opportunities with the East. China has become
one of the most powerful economies in the world with huge exports that
surpass big economies such as the UK and France. With a fifth of the world's
population (a massive 1,3 billion people!) China has a huge reservoir of
consumers, which makes it a much sought after market. Currently the sixth
largest economy in the world, it is projected that in the next 10 years it
will be in the top three, while in 50 years it may have overtaken the US
economy. Undoubtedly, building connections with China and other Eastern
countries with vibrant economies could bring vast benefits to the country in
However, Zimbabwe must recognise that there is intense
competition for these opportunities in China. The US and European giants
recognised the importance of China a long time ago and over time they have
been working on strategies to enter the Chinese market. They also recognise
the competition that will result from the entry of the Chinese economic
players. However, unlike most African countries, which place emphasis on
rhetoric, these European giants have been doing and continue to do something
According to the Financial Times, high profile leaders in
France and Britain have been making frequent trips alongside top businessmen
to China to build connections and open opportunities.
for example the 48 Group, a British business alliance whose mission is to
assist British businesses to open economic channels in China. Clearly there
is intense competition to enter the Chinese market and less talk and more
action will make the Look East policy more effective. Indeed, while we
castigate the West and proclaim the Look East policy, we must remember that
we do not have exclusive rights to enter China. The so-called enemies, in
response to whom Zimbabwe apparently took this policy, also have their own
"Look East" policies and are probably ahead of us in exploiting the
One interesting connection between the East and
the Western states is in the higher education sector and in my view, this
has implications in the economic arena as well.
Britain and the
US are probably the largest hosts to thousands of students from China and
other East Asian countries. The universities are filled with Asian students
in all disciplines including business, law, engineering, etc. Through
academic fees and living costs they bring immense income to universities and
local communities but more significantly these Western countries have an
opportunity to create invisible exports through this system. Not only do the
multitudes of students return to their countries with an appreciation and
assimilation of Western cultures and values, but their education is also
reflective of the Western world-view. These students are likely to be in
positions of leadership in both government and business in the future and
their connections with the places where they have received their training
will be vital.
In my view, one must question whether Zimbabwe is
pursuing any strategies to build similar connections that will be useful in
the future. This is the same whether it's with the East or other countries
in Africa and elsewhere. There was a point when our education system was
highly regarded across Africa and the world and we could have easily become
a leading centre at least in the sub-region. Through our institutions we
could have recruited and trained foreign students who would have a long-term
connection with the country. Zimbabwe could have enjoyed long-term benefits
from the visible and invisible exports through such a system. That hope may
be remote now but it is not yet lost.
In addition, the
government's insistence of the Chinese and other Eastern countries as being
good friends sometimes gives the impression that these countries are keen to
extend favours to Zimbabwe. The reality is that these are not necessarily
charitable organisations. They, like the West are also seeking to build
their economies, open opportunities and make profits. The governments may be
friends but the businessmen and women are competing on the same global stage
with their Western counterparts and are seeking to expand their markets
beyond China to enhance profits. Some excess products will find their way to
open markets. That is perhaps why Zimbabwe is awash with cheap Chinese
products while there may be limited exports from Zimbabwe to
Ultimately, our Look East policy might produce the very same
problem from which we are running, whereby Zimbabwe and other African
countries have little access to the Western markets while the Western
companies can dump excess and cheap products on our
China and other East Asian countries are not as paranoid
about the West as Zimbabwe has become in the last few years. There may be
good cause to be critical of the dominant Western countries whose trade
policies often negatively affect developing countries' economies. However,
even China itself realised that it had to join the powerful World Trade
Organisation, which has overall authority on the global trading systems.
China is becoming a leading decision-maker on the global stage and the
Financial Times newspaper recently reported that even the powerful G8, the
rich industrialised nations' club is courting China to become more actively
involved in its activities.
One can see a deliberate and
calculated attempt to woo China and in the long-run China may respond
positively in order to occupy a position of influence to protect its own
interests. It does not necessarily follow that because there are
disagreements on one front, a country should pursue a policy of isolation. A
policy of constructive engagement and positive action will do much to assist
the country out of its present predicament. Otherwise while we turn away
from the West and look East, the East itself is actually constructively
engaging with the West. Where then does Zimbabwe find itself in all
Zimbabwe needs to identify its key strengths and research about
the opportunities in the East. Having identified those strengths and
opportunities the country can calculate strategies of entering into that
market more competitively. There is no reason why the government should not
be more supportive of companies such as Econet Wireless, which has made
several in-roads in different countries.
The East is very strong
in technology and helping our companies to build partnerships and open
business links will benefit the country substantially.
China is the
world's largest consumer of products such as iron and steel because of its
booming construction industry. Given that Zimbabwe is endowed with iron ore
and has in Zisco a potentially large steel manufacturing company, surely
this is one of our key strengths that we can utilise to fight for a share in
the Chinese market.
While tourism is generally a strong point,
because of the country's image it is not one of the major selling points at
present and it is too dependent on individual choice and interest. As long
as we sort our image problems, I am sure the usual European tourist market
will be available.
We have not created the necessary goodwill to
enhance our tourism
potential. Even after the catastrophic Tsunami, more
Europeans will soon be travelling to East Asia before they begin to visit
Zimbabwe and there is currently a large Western effort to rebuild confidence
in the East Asian market.
It is the Europeans that constitute the
bulk of the tourist market and just as the East to whom we are looking, we
should be doing more to enhance our image by rebuilding our political
environment which is currently considered to be a huge risk.
conclusion, there is much to commend about having an interest in the East
but it does not mean that we should completely ignore the West. It cannot be
ignored because whether we like it or not, the Western countries and
institutions wield great power in the global economy.
strategy is constructive engagement which even our friends in the East are
pursuing with the West despite their differences. Our friends in the East
will not always offer us charity - they are also in it for the
In the same way that we want the West to open their
markets we must also insist on and take active steps to open and access the
Eastern markets. The West is also making huge in-roads into that market
while taking active steps to build strategic and positive relationships to
build and safeguard their interests.
We cannot afford to spend
time on rhetoric - rather, time and effort should be spent on identifying
our strengths and ensuring that as much as we want the Chinese to invest, we
must also have opportunities to enter their markets. Otherwise we will
become net importers of cheap products which will only do harm to local
Many countries build relationships with their key
entrepreneurs yet it seems, the few that we have in African countries are
unnecessarily hounded out and end up establishing bases elsewhere. If the
Look East policy is to bear fruits, more positive action needs to be taken
at these early stages.
IT had never crossed my mind that I would one day sit down and raise
a complaint against any institution, be it a parastatal, in the private
sector or the public service.
I have travelled through Beitbridge
border post more than thrice and my experiences have been
The moment you enter the Zimbabwean side from South
Africa, you notice the difference in infrastructure, atmosphere and sanitary
facilities. The toilets on the Zimbabwean side are in bad state. Even
animals are cared for better;
I have gone there on three occasions;
once late last year and twice this year in February, trying to clear some
motor vehicles. One is made to wait for an average of four to five hours
before being attended to.
On one occasion I arrived at 8.30pm and the
whole process was finished at 12-midday the next day.
booked at a local hotel but could not have the chance to check in to sleep.
I waited at the assessing officer's door for 16 hours in vain. There were no
benches to sit on.
It took more than 12 hours to process a single
file. On the day I am complaining about, there were five of us who were made
to wait for 16 hours without sleeping.
The evening shift came and
knocked off. Another shift came in the morning and was about to leave for
home before we were attended to.
No one cared to address us and the
staff were rude. I don't know whether this is the kind of training they get;
that they should not be pleasant to customers?
I am not sure
whether they know what good customer service is. What they are not aware of
is without our money they have no jobs.
I was asked trivial questions
which did not seem to influence the decision the assessor was determined to
make. Two things were however certain: they were either seeking bribes,
simply trying to exercise power or lacked product knowledge.
example of the questions they asked is: "Why is the invoice written Mazda
323 and there is no Familia and why is the payment transfer written Mazda
Anyone familiar with cars knows that the answer lies in
having a physical check on the vehicle. If one is a vehicle assessor then he
should be familiar with cars.
The other thing which baffled me
was being told my telegraphic transfer was not authentic. As far as I was
concerned that was the proof of payment I had.
How do you prove
the authenticity of a bank tt MT199 confirmation? What you would have been
given at the bank is what you give Zimra. How then can one get controlled
stationery to create tt confirmations?
I am aware that all this may
be possible but if staff are not knowledgeable in seeing what is true and
what is false, then as citizens we will be prone to abuse and unfair
If the officer is in a bad mood they will decide that
freight has not been included and one is charged double.
up paying heavy duties simply because the assessor is tired and the victim
has nowhere to complain. People are receiving inhuman treatment at the
Power is abused, ignorance of what to do abounds and
there seems to be plenty of duplication of work. There are unending queues
yet people are paid by Zimra to man the border
Commissioner-general Gershom Pasi should please help. The
situation has now got out of hand. Just go there in disguise or send someone
to witness first-hand the mess and incompetence of your staff.
RBZ governor Gideon Gono able to help on this one? The experience is close
to hell on earth.
rural people so badly treated by their chiefs and headmen? These people are
expected to be unquestioning supporters of government yet they are treated
like slaves by their traditional leaders.
Rural folks are made to work
for nothing in the chiefs' fields, the so-called Zunde
One area where this form of slavery is prevalent is Chief
Charumbira's village. Villagers under this chief are not happy to be used as
serfs. They are forced to work because of threats of banishment from the
area by village heads and their henchmen.
This practice is
grossly unfair to villagers because they are not paid for their labour.
Neither are they fed during their toil.
They have very little time
left for work in their own small plots. If they complain about food, they
are told by the village head to collect food from amongst
As things stand right now, the villagers have very little
food for their families and they cannot spare any for the Zunde raMambo.
Villagers who refuse to work in the chief's fields are forced to pay a
penalty of $25 000, a rise from $10 000.
The village heads have
devised a cunning way of collecting these penalties: they ask for the fine
before a villager can buy maize whenever it is available.
of some unscrupulous heads, a 50kg bag of maize is going for up to $40 000.
Add this amount to the fine and the total comes to a whopping $65 000. Where
do the villagers get this kind of money?
Most villagers are forced to
go hungry because they cannot afford these exorbitant
What worries me is the greed and uncaring attitudes of the
rural authorities. Who in their sane minds can ask villagers to work in
their chiefs' fields in these drought conditions?
headmen have become very greedy. They are paid very handsome salaries while
chiefs are given new cars to boot. Sadly, the use of forced labour has
spread to schools. One such school is Chirichoga Secondary where the head
thought he had one hell of a good idea - a mammoth fish pond.
fish pond requires the use of a mechanical excavator. The intended fish
farming at the school is not necessary because villagers can get all their
fish from nearby Lake Mutirikwi.
All the same, villagers are made
to work on the pond using substandard tools. The digging alone has been
going on for more than a year now and the end of the toil is not in
Considering all this, can you understand the plight of your
fellow villagers and appreciate what your parents and grandparents are going
There are many more activities around the country where
forced labour is used. One question which begs an answer is: "where are the
fines collected from villagers taken to and who
Villagers have been so politicised by the government and
belonging to any opposition parties is a death warrant or banishment from
the village. Villagers long for their old ways of life when chiefs and
headmen protected them against adversaries.
Chiefs and headmen
were part of the village family and villagers worked on each other's fields
on a willing basis with field owners supplying refreshments and
If the government is for the people, let it relax its political
hold on these poor souls who only want to live their normal traditional way
WHILST I would normally agree with the sentiments expressed by M
Leppard in his letter "To lose votes...", (Zimbabwe Independent, February
18) I must point out that the situation is not normal.
People are not
permitted to express themselves freely and cannot wear T-shirts or other
party regalia at meetings, let alone in the streets. Neither can they freely
hand out leaflets or sing political songs at their meetings.
are harassed, beaten up and arrested. In fact, they cannot campaign as
opposition parties do in other countries where democratic values and the
rule of law are entrenched.
If Leppard is prepared to forego
his/her vote because of the trivial painting on walls, so be it. It is up to
each and every voter to conscientiously cast their vote. In countries such
as Brazil and Australia it is not an option but compulsory for every person
to cast their vote.
The temporary eyesore of graffiti can easily be
rectified, but the shocking devastation to our country, the economy, loss of
jobs, the collapse of the health sector, devastation of the agriculture
sector, loss of lives through lack of drugs, loss of our youth and skills,
not to mention our poverty stricken pensioners, will take a much longer time
FOR a long
time now I have read comments from important political figures of our
country saying Zimbabwe is indeed a free country.
In my opinion, the
situation in Zimbabwe is anything but 'free'.Here is the universal test of
freedom and democracy (according to Natan Sharansky, born in
"If a person cannot walk into the middle of the town square
(Africa Unity Square in our Zimbabwe) and express his/her views without fear
of arrest, imprisonment or physical harm then that person is living in a
fear society not a free society."
So, I would like to tell our
leaders that at times it's better not to talk about freedom or democracy
because many a time it's an insult to the intelligence of the cruelly
suppressed masses. May I also take this opportunity to warn the
ex-Information minister that if he is not careful with his words then one
day the monster (Aippa) that he helped create will cruelly make mince meat
of his political life (if not natural life).
Lucky for him, some of
us never got the warning when he bulldozed this morbid piece of
intrigued by VP Joseph Msika's speech at the prisons commissioner's
sundowner last week. The VP's insight into a number of issues of national
importance has at times been at variance with those of his ilk.
recall in 2001 when he berated war veterans who had gone on a crusade to
remove from government employment anyone perceived to be a member of the
He warned them: "When we fought the war, we had
discipline. Some of the things you are doing now leave a lot of question
marks. Do not destroy institutions of the government when you are part of
He also did not have kind words for war veterans who
were rampaging on the farms. At the Zanu PF conference in Masvingo he was
accused of partaking whiskey with white farmers seen as opponents of the
government. Last year he raised concern over the invasion on Kondozi Farm in
Odzi and received a bashing from overweening functionaries in the
Do other officials in his party and government listen when he
speaks? Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa should take heed of the elderly
politician's speech at the prisons commissioner's sundowner. He could have
put his government in an invidious position in his quest for judiciousness
in the area of criminal law. He spoke candidly about the unfairness of
holding prisoners for long periods of time without
"Justice delayed is justice denied," he told the prison
officers. "This is what our colonial oppressors used to do. They would put
someone in prison for a long period of time awaiting trial and we cannot
have that in independent Zimbabwe. I am a strong believer in that a man is
innocent until proven guilty," he said.
This is an unequivocal
platitude, which progressive democracies would like to be seen to be
embracing. Government's information barons have been telling us that the
Zanu PF government brought "independence and democracy". The party does not
want to be associated with relics of the colonial era, especially at a time
when it has declared the general election an anti-Blair
Msika's assertion is politically correct but I hope he
meant well. I am sure he has not forgotten that Finance minister Chris
Kuruneri is rotting in prison awaiting trial for alleged externalisation of
forex. He has been in there since April last year and his case has not gone
I would also like to believe that Msika has not forgotten
about former central committee member James Makamba who spent at least six
months in remand prison before facing trial. Can someone remind the
vice-president that Phillip Chiyangwa was abducted and held incommunicado
for more than two weeks before he was produced in court on espionage
The High Court ordered his unconditional release two weeks
The list is long. It also includes businessman Cecil Muderede who
was last year locked away without trial for seven months on multiple charges
of externalisation and fraud.
These people will testify that
justice delayed is justice denied. They were not held for long periods by a
colonial government but a government that claims to have brought democracy
and the rule of law to Zimbabwe! Is that so, Mr VP?
do you recall that last year your party brought to parliament legislation to
amend the Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act which gave the police
authority to arrest and detain suspects in serious commercial crime cases
for up to 21 days without them appearing in court?
I am sure the VP
was in the House on July 1 last year when the Bill was passed. That
legislation is not in sync with your sentiments. I share your sentiments
that a man is innocent until proven guilty.
MDC legislator David
Coltart called the amendment "the most fascist legislation passed by this
parliament yet, reminiscent of the worst apartheid-era
Can I also remind you that the judicial system in
Zimbabwe has not yet finalised challenges by the opposition MDC of Zanu PF
victories in certain constituencies in the 2000 election. Is that not
justice delayed or is it denied?
A number of Zanu PF MPs whose
mandate in parliament is under challenge will complete their terms and they
are lining up to contest another poll at the end of the month.
use your own words VaMsika, "we cannot have that in
Zimbabwe". Let not only justice be done, but it must be seen
to be done if we want the world to take us seriously.
LAST week's Zimbabwean press coverage devoted
nearly as much space to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) as the
state-controlled media devoted to lambasting the political opposition and
British premier Tony Blair. Only the never-ending listings of farms being
expropriated - so as to further destroy agriculture? - exceeded the space
allotted to stories related to the IMF. Some of the articles were
focused yet again upon the long overdone denigration of the IMF. As with the
fox of Aesopian fame who denied any wish to have the grapes after he had
struggled in vain to reach them, so the pro-government press in Zimbabwe
unhesitatingly derides the IMF whensoever it appears that that
institution will not support the country. However, this is not
unique to Zimbabwe, but is a characteristic of almost all those countries in
Africa as are in debt default with the IMF, and therefore cannot avail
themselves of monetary assistance from that Bretton Woods body. The
basis of the castigation of the IMF and, therefore, of denying any wish for
IMF assistance, is invariably founded upon the allegation that the
organisation is naught but a vehicle of imperialistic and colonising
developed countries to dominate the undeveloped and lesser developed states
and subject them to the yoke of the economically powerful. The IMF
policies are belittled and scathingly dismissed as being weapons to gain the
economic enslavement of Africa. In Zimbabwe, the most frequently cited
example of the alleged bad faith of the IMF is the supposed failure of the
Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) of the early 1990s.
The IMF critics claim that Esap was imposed upon Zimbabwe against the better
judgement of the government. They claim that Zimbabwe only embraced Esap
because it had to access funding from the IMF, and the availability of that
funding was conditional upon the adoption of Esap as the programme for
Zimbabwean economic development. This was repeated ad nauseum by
the government and its newspapers in the late 1990s in order to justify
discontinuance of Esap - notwithstanding the intensive eulogising of that
same programme when it was first announced and in the years that it was
launched. Repeatedly, the programme was said to be a Machiavellian strategy
of subjugating Zimbabwe's economy to those of the all-powerful first world
countries. The actualities were very different. In 1989, with the full
blessing of President Robert Mugabe and his cabinet, then Finance minister,
the late (and extraordinarily able) Bernard Chidzero, established "task
forces" to assess the needs of the country's various economic sectors and
how those needs could best be addressed so as to assure the development and
growth of those sectors. There was extensive and very wide-ranging
interaction between the task forces and the key players in each of the
economic sectors of agriculture, mining, manufacturing, tourism, wholesale
and retail trade, and of finance and services. After in-depth
inquiry and evaluation, a framework of economic reform and enhancement was
formulated. Thereafter, Chidzero required his advisors to assess the extent
to which the proposals were similar to those applied in other countries
under like circumstances, and to seek advice of those within the
international community with experience and expertise in achieving
successful economic structuring. Based thereon, the government formulated
Esap and then solicited international support, inclusive of funding from the
IMF, the World Bank and others. Thus, clearly, Esap was not imposed
upon Zimbabwe, but was conceptualised and devised by Zimbabwe, albeit also
with input and advice from beyond Zimbabwe's borders and including
recommendations from bodies such as the IMF. Initially, Esap failed
or, at best, had very little success, for the government's implementation
was half-hearted and without conviction. There was selective implementation
of some facets of the programme and disregard for others. Thus, for
example, although the architects of Esap had recognised that implementation
would inevitably occasion some hardships, they were necessary evils for the
greater good. However, to minimise the hardships, Esap was to include
the establishment and operation of a Social Dimensions Fund. That barely
happened, with only minimal consideration of creating such a fund, and even
more minimal operation of the fund. Zimbabweans suffered the foreshadowed
hardships, but were not aided with the intended compensatory
medication! Because of the lethargic and apathetic approval to Esap by
the government, the early years of the programme yielded little of the
targeted benefits. Eventually, when it had no alternative, the government
reluctantly intensified its implementation of the programme, resulting in
some significant economic upturn from 1994 to 1997. Then political
objectives intervened once again, resulting in non-adherence to the
substance of Esap, and that fuelled a reversal of the economic gains and an
escalating economic decline from late 1997 to the present time. But the
government could not accept culpability, for it perceives itself as
infallible. In denying responsibility, it necessarily had to find
others to blame, and the IMF was a ready victim to be the recipient of that
blame. This was especially so as it had become fashionable for all other
countries as could not qualify for the IMF support to direct endless vitriol
at IMF. The virulence of Zimbabwe's disparagement of the IMF
intensified exponentially as the magnitude of Zimbabwean debt arrears
increased. The greater the extent of Zimbabwe's default in servicing its
debt, commensurately greater and more vociferous were its attacks upon the
IMF. This became particularly pronounced when, as prescribed by the IMF
constitution's provisions in respect of debt default, Zimbabwe's membership
was suspended, and even more when the IMF commenced consideration of
possible termination of Zimbabwe's membership. Then Zimbabwe, very
belatedly, embarked upon economic transformation, although limited to some
extent, as the government remained obdurately and determined to continue its
economically appalling land reform programme, and reversed itself on
previously declared intents to privatise parastatals. Nevertheless, and
very substantially as a consequence of the determination of Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono, Zimbabwe modified its monetary and fiscal policies.
Moreover, at nominal levels only, but indicative of good faith, Zimbabwe
commenced payment of its debt arrears. One result was that the IMF did not
expel Zimbabwe, and instead only continued suspension of its membership,
subject to six-monthly reviews. Suddenly, in the eyes of Zimbabwe - or
in particular the government and the state media - the IMF was no longer so
evil, even if not yet perceived as being a valued friend, which it could
well become once more. Last week's press headlines emblazoned a joyful "IMF
reprieve for Zimbabwe", instead of yet again vituperative
belittling of the body.
ZANU PF must be paying very well. It has one ardent supporter called
Don Muvhuti who dishes out propaganda every Sunday in The Voice. This week
he was calling for the ban of the MDC which he labelled a front for
imperialism. Muvhuti claimed the European Union had renewed targeted
sanctions against both the Zanu PF and government leadership at the behest
of the MDC and therefore its MPs were not fit to represent Zimbabweans in
parliament. He obviously doesn't know that MPs are elected and not
appointed. There is a difference between chiefs and governors appointed to
parliament by President Mugabe and MPs elected by the people. Nor do
people buy the lie that Zimbabwe is under sanctions because of the land
reform programme. Those sanctions were meant to punish individuals accused
of perpetrating widespread violence during the 2002 president election.
Those directly affected cannot visit the countries in which they have been
prohibited, whereas the rest of Zimbabweans can travel freely everywhere
they like. But then for someone paid to lie, one must find something to fill
Another confusionist is Tafataona Mahoso of the Media and
Information Commission. Writing in the same publication this week, he said:
"The MDC should not be allowed to promise a better life for Zimbabweans
while also supporting EU and US sanctions against the same people." We
hope by people he is not talking about Zimbabwean voters who have made sure
Zanu PF remains banished to the rural areas. At least there they can coerce
people to vote for them beyond the glare of media publicity. Evil always
thrives under cover of darkness.
Meanwhile, Mahoso claimed Miss Tourism
World pageants were in the country for "six weeks" and there were no
incidents of violence despite the United States warning its citizens to be
very wary when travelling to Zimbabwe. Not that we expected the girls to see
or hear anything negative about their host. But it is revealing that peace
or lack of it is now measured in terms of what visitors have to say or don't
say about Zimbabwe. Can any situation be more desperate? But then we have
become pastmasters at shooting ourselves in the foot. It was during the same
period that Mahoso himself decided to flex his flabby muscle by shutting
down the Weekly Times and launching a vicious attack against The Zimbabwean.
Not that the two publications offended morality or any national interest,
but because they allegedly infringed a self-serving law that has no place
whatsoever in a free society, a strange aberration called rule by the law,
instead of the rule of law. They couldn't have missed that.
Parirenyatwa should count himself lucky. He has won the primaries in Murehwa
North to represent Zanu PF in the parliamentary election at the end of the
month. Luck because he is certain to win and go to parliament. But there is
nothing to show for his performance since he was appointed as Minister of
Health. The Herald recently reported that Harare hospital was "in the
intensive care unit" because nothing was functioning. The Saturday Chronicle
this week reported on delegation that toured Gweru provincial hospital only
to be met by two skeletons that no one could account for. According to the
paper, the bodies were believed to have been "forgotten" in a disused
mortuary in 1997. The paper also said the refrigeration system in the
supposedly "new" mortuary "is now obsolete and bodies are said to be going
bad". What was the point of touring the old mortuary if the new one is also
not operating? Meanwhile the same paper reports that a clinic constructed by
the Bulawayo city council in Mahatshula suburb in 1999 still lies idle
because there are no medical staff and equipment. Why do the people of
Murehwa North think Parirenyatwa will do better after he is elected into
parliament? What legacy does the good doctor want to leave
President Mugabe is about to show us how he is boss of all.
He has assured his party followers who lost in the primary elections that
their continued loyalty will be handsomely rewarded after the parliamentary
election. He said those who lost should support the winners to make sure
Zanu PF wins the election. Losers in the primaries would be smuggled
through the back door into the Senate, he assured them. What does that
tell us about democracy in Zanu PF? If people said "no" to the losing
candidates it means they don't want them. Only recently Mugabe talked about
respecting the wishes of the people but now he turns around to reappoint the
same non-performers who have been rejected by the people. Aren't these clear
contradictions? Headstrong fellows like Jonathan Moyo can kiss goodbye to
this presidential largesse.
On Monday the president took over the
role of spin-doctor, perhaps realising the boys in the Information
department are lethargic. The Herald reported on Tuesday that Mugabe told
the Mashonaland West provincial leadership that the MDC was trying to divide
the ruling party. He had "read in the newspapers" that the MDC "was bent on
dividing the winners and losers" in the Zanu PF primary elections so as to
weaken the party, we were told.
This sounds like Munyaradzi Huni kind of
propaganda. We have come to expect him to dream up all sorts of conspiracies
against the opposition, not a president. This is the same president who has
been talking about "witches" and "spies" in his own party. We hope he won't
be telling us next that the Tsholotsho meeting was in fact the work of the
MDC. The divisions in Zanu PF have been there for much longer. We are not
new to the factionalism in Masvingo dating from well before the MDC was
born. Manicaland has not been a Garden of Eden either. Recent cases include
Jonathan Moyo's clash with VP Joseph Msika over Kondozi Farm in which the
latter was embarrassingly browbeaten. After that Moyo went on to openly
clash with party chairman John Nkomo over multiple farm ownership. He didn't
hide his contempt for party rules if they appeared to get in his way. But
that was not all.
When Zanu PF Information secretary Nathan Shamuyarira
allowed a Sky News TV crew into the country, Jonathan Moyo was livid. He
countered the Sky team with his sycophants from Kenya who wrote glowing
accounts about himself. In all this President Mugabe assumed the role of a
later-day Nero who fiddled while Rome burned. He appeared to enjoy the drama
from the guarded safety of State House. His silence was not only
embarrassing, but irritating for his senior party officials. Moyo was a
demigod overnight, an untouchable who could defy all and sundry with
What the opposition needed to do, were it not in deep
slumber, was merely to accentuate these manifest divisions in Zanu PF. But,
as we have said, the MDC was comatose. To now accuse them of driving a wedge
between different factions of Zanu PF is to give them the credit they don't
The Tsholotsho indaba was supposed to be the coup de grace, the
final assault on State House. That is when Mugabe realised the gravity of
the situation and intervened. It definitely had nothing to do with the MDC,
which even at this late hour could not capitalise on the divisions to push
forward its agenda. It's hard to be master and spinner rolled in one, Mr
President. Mugabe nevertheless said this time around Zanu PF wanted "to win
with a difference". He didn't elaborate. We believe the only win that makes
a difference is one that gets the country out of its current isolation.
Anything short of that won't get us anywhere.
Zanu PF political
commissar Elliot Manyika reacted angrily to claims last week by Jonathan
Moyo that Mugabe was surrounded by "deadwood and tribalists". Nor was it
true that Moyo had single-handedly rescued the party from collapse, Manyika
protested at a politburo meeting that endorsed Moyo's expulsion from the
party. He said Moyo could not have covered 120 constituencies alone. Which is
true is way. But Moyo made sure the party got saturation coverage in the
state media with those Sendekera jingles while the opposition MDC was
attacked incessantly and accused of murders, which could not be proved in
court. Manyika also accused Moyo of "going back to his old ways" of attacking
his seniors and government. Well, one doesn't have to be rocket scientist to
know he never reformed. He is a hypocrite. He only admitted there was no
democracy in Zanu PF after he was blocked from contesting in Tsholotsho. Yet
he spent five years defending the party and government with venom while he
lobbied for laws that made it an offence to criticise President
Lowani Ndlovu says his party Zanu PF has been grievously hurt.
Its manifesto has been plagiarised by the MDC, he moaned this week. The
idea, he says, is to hoodwink voters so that the two "parties do not differ
materially in their approaches, principles and strategies". The difference,
Lowani notes sagely, is that the MDC is silent on the "historical" context
of the country's problems. But Lowani doesn't want to admit that Zanu PF is
trying to solve problems it created in the first place. Much is being made
of inflation coming down without any admission that the Zanu PF government's
economic mismanagement pushed inflation out of control. Zanu PF cannot hope
to benefit from correcting a problem it created. The MDC is right to point
out this trickery.
Zanu PF messed up the land reform programme and it
must live with the consequences. Mugabe himself recently said his party
promised the people of Zimbabwe "its tried and tested leadership" that will
ensure the country "will never be a colony again". As we have said in the
past, this is a tired subject that nobody believes. Instead of talking to
the people of Zimbabwe the president is addressing himself to British Prime
Minister Tony Blair. Does he seriously believe Blair is responsible for all