|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Speaking through their lawyers this week, the directors
said they feared for
"We are being tried and found
guilty in the media. We have done nothing
wrong and are not fugitives from justice," said the directors in a statement
issued through their lawyers. "Without the necessary constitutional
assurances, it would be difficult for us to defend ourselves publicly and
fairly through the legal system," they said.
The directors, all believed to be now in the UK, said they
would "make their
next move" after getting security guarantees.
"After the requisite assurance has been made by the
police publicly, we
would be in a position to consider our next move," they said
Police spokesman Ass Commiss-ioner Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday said the
police wanted to arrest the directors.
"We do not deal with
lawyers," said Bvudzijena. "We deal with the
individual, we go for the individual. I can confirm that we want to arrest
them (NMB directors) so that we can interview them regarding their case," he
board in a statement this week said LTB was not a subsidiary of the
bank as has been reported in the media.
"Contrary to what has been reported
in the press, neither LTB Money
Transfers nor LTB Finance House are subsidiaries of the bank and the bank is
not a shareholder in either company," the statement said.
The board meanwhile has announced the
appointment of Dr David Hatendi as
acting managing director and Mario Dos Remedios as acting finance director
in the interim.
Independent esta-blished that the directors have written to
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono to complain about the
handling of their case. Insiders at the RBZ said an executive of LTB, a Mr
Friedlander, together with Mushore, met Gono in Harare last Wednesday to
explain the nature of his business and the relationship between LTB and NMB.
But investi-gations had already started.
RBZ sources said the decision by
the police to arrest NMB directors on
charges of externalising foreign currency was taken despite the fact that an
initial probe had cleared the bank of any offence.
Banking sources said the full NMB saga was not
The directors said in December last year NMB submitted to the central bank's
Exchange Control an application for permission to conduct money transfer
business in respect of non-resident Zimba-bweans through LTB. LTB collected
foreign currency from Zimbabweans abroad with a view to effecting Zimbabwe
dollar payments to named beneficiaries in Zimbabwe.
LTB disposed of its foreign currency through authorised dealers. NMB was
then provided with Zimbabwe dollar equivalent which was disbursed to
Zimbabwean beneficiaries on LTB's instructions. NMB generated an income from
the administration of the Zimbabwe dollar payments. It is believed the
arrangement brought into the country at least £3 million.
There was further panic in the banking sector this week
after it emerged
that the majority of financial institutions in Zimbabwe operate money
transfer businesses through foreign-registered insti-tutions. At least four
banks in Zimbabwe have had direct dealings with LTB.
The Independent this week heard that an investigation carried
out by Chief
Supt Nicholas Mhene of the Fraud Squad initially concluded that there was no
externalisation of forex but that NMB might have helped LTB, a
British-registered company, to trade in foreign currency. The team, sources
said, has since been joined by Chief Supt Musariri Mabunda amid allegations
that the new man has replaced Mhene as head of the investigation.
Mhene yesterday said "nothing has changed" and that he
was still in charge
of the case.
Mhene's team, together with the
Reserve Bank's investigators, Mukurazhizha
and Mathe, initially raided NMB Bank on Monday last week and took away a
number of files.
returned to the bank later in the day and took away with them
Mutsekwa, a back office manager, on the pretext that they wanted to
interview him in connection with a fraud case which occurred in Masvingo. On
Wednesday last week the bank's assistant general manager (international
banking) Cecilia Muronda and general manager (treasury) Learnmore Chatima
were also taken to Central Police Station for questioning.
Last Thursday police armed with AK47 assault rifles
visited the homes of the
directors trying to effect an arrest but failed to locate them.
The following day, police sealed the offices of NMB Bank
demanding to see
the directors who were not present. In the evening police announced on
television they were looking for the directors.
Makoni, bank sources said, was already in the United
Kingdom on holiday
while Mushore is believed to have slipped out of the country via Kariba into
Zambia, then to South Africa before he joined Makoni.
Police have since impounded Mushore's Mercedes Benz M Class
SUV in Kariba.
His two other Mercedes Benz saloons which were being serviced at Zimoco were
also impounded on Tuesday.
President tightens decree
Dumisani Muleya/Blessing Zulu
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has further tightened the decree on the detention of
suspects to ensure that no bail is granted for 21 days in circumstances
where there are prima facie grounds for a charge.
Before the decree was amended suspects could not apply for bail for 14 days
in matters where there was a prima facie case. Suspects will however still
be detained for seven days where there is no prima facie case regardless of
The first Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures)
(Amendment of Criminal
Procedure and Evidence Act) regulations were contained in Statutory
Instrument (SI) 37 of 2004 promulgated on February 13.
The latest amendment, SI 41, is said to have come into effect on
The original version says a "judge or magistrate
shall order his (suspect's)
further detention or issue a warrant for his further detention for a period
of twenty-one days (unless the charge is earlier withdrawn), and no court
shall admit such person to bail for a period of fourteen days from the date
when an order or warrant for his further detention" is issued.
According to the new one, "unless the charge or
charges against him
(suspect) are earlier withdrawn, (he shall) remain in detention for seven or
21 days, as the case may be, from the date when an order or warrant for his
further detention was issued . no court shall admit such a person to bail
during that period".
Meanwhile, lawyers for
jailed Zanu PF central committee member and Telecel
chair James Makamba, who is facing allegations of illegally externalising
foreign currency, have challenged the presidential decree.
Makamba, who has spent 25 days in detention, was arrested on February 9 and
first appeared in court on February 14. Since then he has been trying to
secure bail and a hearing on the mater continues today in the High Court.
In his application to the Supreme
Court on Wednesday, Makamba's lawyer,
Sternford Moyo, said Mugabe's recent edict was "unconstitutional, null and
(Makamba) respectfully submits that these regulations are
unconstitutional in that they allow the executive to usurp judicial
functions in violation of Section 79 of the constitution," Moyo said.
"They violate the
presumption of innocence contained in Section 18
subsection 3 of the constitution."
Moyo said Mugabe's regulations "render ineffective the
right of an accused
to be brought before a court as contained in section 13 subsection 4 of the
President Mugabe recently used
his emergency powers to amend the Criminal
Procedure and Evidence Act to ensure people arrested on suspicion of
specific commercial crimes are detained for up to two weeks without bail
where there is a prima facie case.
Moyo said the changes purported to "substitute the opinion of a
for that of a judicial officer and thereby allow the executive to usurp
"The resultant situation is injurious
to the administration of justice and
the reputation of the judiciary and the image of the country," Moyo said.
"The country will, inevitably, be perceived as a police state."
Gift to Mugabe has opened way for dialogue - Deuschle
PASTOR Tom Deuschle of Hear the Word Ministries, recently criticised for
giving President Robert Mugabe a $30 million gift, believes his gesture has
opened avenues for national dialogue and led Mugabe to admit failure.
The barrage of criticism came from Zimbabweans both
at home and abroad
following a report in the Zimbabwe Independent in January on the money
raised by the church in Harare to give to Mugabe as a present.
Deuschle led a delegation of 20 members of his church a
fortnight ago to
present the gift to the Zanu PF leader. Deuschle sounded confident in an
interview on Wednesday that his church's gesture, which he says has already
been embraced by other church leaders in the country, would lead to national
"The country is polarised," he said.
"We have a serious crisis. As a church
we should help bring peace in Zimbabwe," said Deuschle.
"By giving the gift to the president we
didn't mean to endorse his policies
but to engage him in dialogue. It is unprecedented (the gift) in this
country and the president acknowledged that. He publicly admitted that his
government had failed on the economy, the land reform and other national
issues. That is a major disclosure and confession by the head of state and
we can now move on from there."
whose church constructed a state of the art complex - Celebration
Centre - in the affluent suburb of Borrowdale, said after Mugabe's
admission, his delegation made it clear to him that a leader who ignored
God's ways was doomed to fail.
"We made it clear to the head of state that any
family head or government
that disobeys God's ways in its policies would fail and that is the
situation Zimbabwe finds itself in. But the question is how to move on from
there. Must we continue demonising each other?"
After presenting the gift to Mugabe, Deuschle said, his
church has been
engaging other church leaders to create dialogue at a national level that
includes the government, the opposition MDC and civil society.
"We have had many meetings with church leaders in Harare and
such as Archbishop (Pius) Ncube (of the Catholic Church Bulawayo Diocese).
We are trying to initiate dialogue in the country. There has been a mixed
response to our approach from members of society but we will do our best to
bring peace in this country," he said.
said that the church should be the ears and eyes of the
nation. He urged us to co-ordinate with our colleagues and play a major role
in bringing peace and restoring prosperity to the country through dialogue,"
Gono's appeal shot down
DONORS have shot down Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono's appeal for help in
implementing his monetary policy, saying government should first create a
conducive environment for political dialogue and economic growth.
Gono has been meeting diplomats in Harare over the past two
weeks to soften
donors' hard-line position on Zimbabwe and to convince financiers to open
new lines of credit as well as provide balance of payment support.
Diplomatic sources who attended Gono's luncheons said donors
meeting soon to "make a collective response" to the governor's request.
"As Zimbabwe already owes its creditors, the first thing will be to demand a
convincing debt repayment plan with government commitment," the diplomat
"We would also demand a workable plan for the
creation of a viable economy
and a return to the rule of law. We want a culture of accountability and
credibility which respects democratic values and principles."
A Japanese embassy spokesman this week confirmed
meeting Gono together with
other diplomats but would not give details of what transpired.
"We pay respect to the monetary policy and financial reforms which Gono has
undertaken and wish success of it," the spokesman said.
"However, an environment which is conducive to the
to extend its support to Zimbabwe must be developed through economic and
Sources said diplomats
were in the process of forming a taskforce that would
lobby for the implementation of their demands by the government and other
"We are proposing to set up a diplomatic
taskforce that will monitor
government's commitment and progress on our demands. The taskforce will then
recommend to the international community as and when the environment is
fine," the diplomat said.
diplomatic luncheons hosted by the United Nations Development Programme
and the Sudanese embassy last week, Gono appealed for donors' support for
what he called "self-correction measures".
Sources said Gono's appeal was
aimed at urging donors mainly in Europe,
Japan and the United States to soften their demands for a political
settlement before opening lines of credit.
Donors insist the 1998 donors conference recommendations on
should be revisited, effectively meaning that they are not accepting the
current mode of agrarian reform despite Zimbabwe's frantic efforts to
cover-up serious discrepancies through legislative changes.
'Mugabe trying to divide MDC' - Tsvangirai
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has accused President Robert Mugabe of trying
to divide his party along ethnic lines.
Tsvangirai said in
an interview that Mugabe was trying to drive a wedge
between MDC leaders from Mashonaland and those from Matabeleland for
whole strategy is to divide the MDC along regional lines. He wants to
say 'you Ndebele guys come and let's talk' in order to divide our party," he
"But it's a non-starter because our leaders from
Matabeleland know they are
national leaders and not regional barons. We can see through his political
In a pre-recorded
interview with state television last week, Mugabe said the
opposition MDC comprised "very shallow" and some "well-disposed" people who
have got depth.
"What I might say is that there are some good people in the
well-disposed persons who look at things differently from how Tsvangirai
looks at them," Mugabe said.
"I didn't know, it's
unfortunate that the depth of understanding and
appreciation of some of the members of the MDC is very shallow. Those of
them with deeper depth are the ones who would want discussion and we
encouraged those to discuss with our own people, progressive ideas."
Mugabe said talks were problematic because those with "shallow ideas" in the
MDC were resisting "certain conclusions" of those with depth and "this is
However, Tsvangirai said Mugabe wanted to clinch another
Unity Accord by
dividing the MDC. He said his party would resist manipulation on ethnic
"They are trying to create imaginary division in
the MDC but we are closing
ranks in light of those purported differences," he said. "He wants to divide
the party through Unity Accord II and move forward on his own terms."
Tsvangirai dismissed as fabricated recent state
media reports that MDC
secretary-general Welshman Ncube wanted to resign over the selection of a
candidate for the forthcoming Zengeza parliamentary by-election.
Ncube himself said that was false. He said such stories
smacked of "divide
and rule tactics".
MDC officials say there have
been attempts by Zanu PF since the 2000
parliamentary election to use primitive ethnic manipulation to undermine the
MDC. They say this strategy lies at the heart of unsubstantiated claims that
Ncube wants to oust Tsvangirai from party leadership.
Those who believe in ethnic
jugglery, the MDC says, think the claims that
Ncube wants to depose Tsvangirai will alienate voters in Mashonaland from
Zanu PF refutes BBC torture camps reports
ZANU PF has dismissed as "blatant lies" BBC reports that it has set up
training camps to drill youths on how to torture and kill its opponents
ahead of next year's general election.
Zanu PF spokesman
Nathan Shamuyarira said there was "no truth whatsoever" in
the BBC documentary shown on Sunday saying President Robert Mugabe's party
was training youths as terror gangsters.
"Those are blatant lies by
imperialist agents who peddle falsehoods about
our country and government," Shamuyarira said. "There is no truth whatsoever
showed in its Panorama programme what it called an undercover film.
Its correspondent Hillary Andersson said the international broadcaster and
human rights groups had talked to nearly 100 young people who had spent time
at the training camps.
About half of the girls and women interviewed said
they were regularly raped
during the training at what Mugabe's regime calls "job training centres",
the BBC said.
One woman, identified only
as Debbie, said she was raped nightly for six
months after being forced into a camp at the age of 20. She contracted HIV
and fell pregnant before fleeing to South Africa.
"They said no one can complain because it's part of
training," she told the
A teenager whose name was not
given said she was raped every night and
ordered to take part in the murder of an elderly woman.
"She was screaming. She even messed herself
until she died," the teenager
said. "I beat her also."
said: "It is all part of a horrific process designed to mould youths
loyal to Robert Mugabe and his party."
However, Shamuyarira replied: "That is
a lie which they are spreading
The opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) and human rights groups
have complained about youths trained at such places as the Border Gezi
Training Centre whom they accuse of terrorising opposition supporters.
Some training centres are in Mount Darwin, Bindura, Masvingo,
Zvishavane and Kamativi.
Government claims the centres are there to equip youths
skills, while its critics say they are there to churn out "shock troops".
The MDC has said the graduates from the centres, who are indoctrinated with
Zanu PF anti-colonial propaganda to defend government, were responsible for
the widespread political violence since 2000.
It has accused the militant youths, known as "Green Bombers"
their green attire, of helping government to rig the disputed 2002
The BBC said Mugabe had visited the camps
and was aware of what was going
The documentary said six camps
housed thousands of Zimbabweans aged between
11 and 30 and that an estimated 50 000 youths had already been trained.
MDC youths to protest for electoral reforms
AS debate rages in the MDC on whether or not to participate in next year's
parliamentary election, the party's youth wing has resolved to stage
protests demanding electoral reforms.
national youth chairman Nelson Chamisa revealed in an
interview on Wednesday that the youth league's national executive had at a
recent meeting endorsed party leader Morgan Tsvangirai's position calling
for electoral reforms.
Chamisa said the push for electoral amendments could only be
"democratic means of protest" considering the hard-line stance of President
Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF in engaging the opposition.
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa last week said there
would be no
electoral amendments ahead of the poll scheduled for March. Chinamasa said
elections would be held under the current system and alleged that the MDC
Tsvangirai has said although
consultation in the party continues over the
issue of next year's election, the party position is to demand electoral
amendments. He said the MDC would contest the election only under a set of
minimum conditions that could guarantee a free and fair election.
"We subscribe to the party
position that we should contest next year's
election but only after amendments to the electoral system that create
minimum conditions for a free and fair election," Chamisa said.
"But it is incumbent upon us as the
youth movement in the party to actively
campaign for electoral amendments. We have therefore resolved to stage,
starting soon, peaceful protests until the regime agrees to amendments."
The Kuwadzana legislator said the youth league would have to defy repressive
laws designed to close the democratic space.
"Our challenge is to disobey the instruments of repression
meant to close
the democratic space and to enable Zanu PF to rig elections. We have to go
the (Lovemore NCA chairman) Madhuku way of disobeying laws such as Posa and
engage the regime head-on," he said.
"The masses are
agitated and disillusioned," Chamisa said. "We have to make
Mugabe shift his position."
Chamisa, who was on a tour of neighbouring countries
recently, said the MDC
youth wing had been mobilising members and colleagues in Sadc countries.
"We are coordinating international pressure and
have already planned to have
demonstrations staged in countries such as South Africa and Botswana
simultaneously with our own protests in order to engage regional leaders in
this democratic struggle," he said.
Bank of England adopts new EU list on Zim
THE Bank of England (BOE) has adopted the revised European Union list on
Zimbabweans slapped with targeted sanctions over repression and human rights
abuses in Zimbabwe.
BOE on Tuesday issued an addendum to
the original notice on Zimbabwe on the
EU's renewed measures against President Robert Mugabe and 94 of his
associates who are on the 15-member bloc's black-list.
The EU unanimously renewed its sanctions on
February 25 for another year,
saying the crisis in Zimbabwe has remained largely unchanged.
Sanctions, which include a travel ban, asset-freeze and an arms embargo,
were first imposed in February 2002. They were renewed last year and last
month for a year.
BOE said its supplement to
the financial sanctions on Mugabe and his cronies
was to update the EU blacklist lodged with the bank.
"The purpose of this supplement,
which is issued in accordance with the
powers delegated by HM (Her Majesty's) Treasury, is to advise of the
addendum to council regulation no 314/2004 issued by the European Union on
25 February 2004," the bank said.
"The prohibition against making funds or economic resources
not prevent the crediting of frozen accounts by financial institutions that
receive funds transferred by third parties to the account of the listed
person or entity, provided that any addition to such accounts is also
The bank said financial institutions are required
to inform it of any such
Here is the EU list of
Mugabe and his lieutenants under targeted sanctions:
1.Mugabe Robert Gabriel - President, born 21.2.1924
2. Buka Flora Minister - of State
in Vice-President's Office, born 25.2.1968
-3. Bonyongwe Happyton - Director-General Central Intelligence Organisation,
- 4. Chapfika David - Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development
5. Charamba George - Permanent Secretary Department for Information and
Publicity, born 4.4.1963
6. Charumbira Fortune Zefanaya - Deputy Minister for Local Government,
Public Works and National Housing, born 10.6.1962
7.Chigwedere Aeneas Soko - Minister of Education, Sports and Culture, born
8. Chihuri Augustine - Police Commissioner, born 10.3.1953
9. Chikowore Enos - Zanu PF Politburo Secretary for Land and Resettlement,
10. Chinamasa Patrick Anthony - Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs, born 25.1.1947
11. Chindori-Chininga Edward Takaruza - former Minister of Mines, born
- 12. Chipanga Tongesai Shadreck - Deputy Minister of Home Affairs
13. Chiwenga Constantine - Commander Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General, born
14. Chiwewe Willard - Senior Secretary in the President's born 19.3.1949
15. Chombo Ignatius Morgan Chiminya - Minister of Local Government, Public
Works and National Housing, born 1.8.1952
16. Dabengwa Dumiso - Zanu PF Politburo Member, born 1939
17. Goche Nicholas Tasunungurwa - Minister of State for National Security in
the President's Office, born 1.8.1946
- 18. Gula-Ndebele Sobuza - Chairman of Electoral Supervisory Commission
19. Gumbo Rugare Eleck Ngidi - Minister of State for State Enterprises and
Parastatals in the President's Office born 8.3.1940
20. Hove Richard - Zanu PF Politburo Secretary for Economic Affairs, born
- 21. Hungwe Josaya Dunira - Provincial Governor: Masvingo, born 7.11.1935
- 22. Kangai Kumbirai - Zanu PF Politburo Committee Member, born 17.2.1938
23.Karimanzira David Ishe-munyoro Godi - Zanu PF Politburo Secretary for
Finance, born 25.5.1947
24. Kasukuwere Saviour - Zanu PF Politburo Deputy-Secretary for Youth
Affairs, born 23.10.1970
25.Kuruneri Christopher Ticha-ona - Minister of Finance and Economic
Development, born 4.4.1949
- 26. Langa Andrew - Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications
27. Lesabe Thenjiwe V - Zanu PF Politburo Secretary for Women's Affairs,
28. Machaya Jason Max Kokerai - Deputy Minister of Mines and Mining
Development, born 13.6.1952
29. Made Joseph Mtakwese - Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development,
30. Madzongwe Edna - Zanu PF Politburo Deputy Secretary for Production and
Labour, born 11.7.1943
31. Mahofa Shuvai Ben - Deputy Minister for Youth Development, Gender and
Employment Creation, born 4.4.1941
- 32. Mahoso Tafataona - Chair, Media and Information Commission
33. Makoni Simbarashe - Zanu PF Politburo Deputy Secretary General for
Economic Affairs, born 22.3.1950
34. Malinga Joshua - Zanu PF Politburo Deputy Secretary for Disabled and
Disadvantaged, born 28.4.1944
35. Mangwana Paul Munyaradzi - Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social
Welfare born 10.8.1961
36.Mangwende Witness Pasichigare Madunda - Provincial Governor: Harare born
37. Manyika Elliot Tapfumanei - Minister without Portfolio, born 30.7.1955
38. Manyonda Kenneth Vhundukai - Deputy Minister of Industry and
International Trade, born 10.8.1934
39. Marumahoko Rueben - Deputy Minister of Energy and Power Development,
- 40. Masawi Ephrahim Sango - Provincial Governor: Mashonaland Central
41. Masuku Angeline - Provincial Governor: Matabeleland South, born
- 42. Mathema Cain - Provincial Governor: Bulawayo
43. Mathuthu T. - Zanu PF Politburo Deputy Secretary for Transport and
44.Midzi Amos Bernard - Minister of Mines and Mining Development born
45.Mnangagwa Emmerson Dambudzo - Speaker of Parliament, born 15.9.1946
46.Mohadi Kembo Campbell Dugishi - Minister of Home Affairs, born 15.11.1949
47. Moyo Jonathan - Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the
President's Office, born 12.1.1957
48.Moyo July Gabarari -Minister of Energy and Power Development, born
49. Moyo Simon Khaya - Zanu PF Politburo Deputy Secretary for Legal Affairs,
50. Mpofu Obert Moses - Provincial Governor: Matabeleland North, born
51. Msika Joseph W. - Vice-President, born 6.12.1923
- 52. Msipa Cephas George - Provincial Governor: Midlands, born 7.7.1931
53. Muchena Olivia Nyembesi - Minister of State for Science and Technology
in the President's Office born18.8.1946
54. Muchinguri Oppah Chamu Zvipange - Zanu PF Politburo Secretary for Gender
and Culture, born14.12.1958
- 55. Mudede Tobaiwa Tonneth - Registrar General, born 22.12.1942
56. Mudenge Isack Stanilaus - Gorerazvo Minister of Foreign Affairs, born
57. Mugabe Grace - Spouse of Robert Gabriel Mugabe, born 23.7.1965
58. Mugabe Sabina - Zanu PF - Politburo member, born 14.10.1934
59. Mujuru Joyce Teurai Ropa - Minister of Water Resources and
Infrastructural Development born 15.4.1955
60. Mujuru Solomon T.R. - Zanu PF Politburo member, born 1.5.1949
61. Mumbengegwi Samuel Creighton - Minister of Industry and International
Trade, born 23.10.1942
62. Murerwa Herbert Muchemwa - Minister of Higher and Tertiary Education,
63. Mushohwe Christopher Chindoti - Minister of Transport and
Communications, born 6.2.1954
64. Mutasa Didymus Noel Edwin - Minister of Special Affiars in the
President's Office in charge of the Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies
Programme, born 27.7.1935
- 65. Mutinhiri Ambros - Minister of Youth Development, Gender and
Employment Creation, Retired Brigadier
66. Mutiwekuziva Kenneth Kaparadza - Deputy Minister of Small and Medium
Enterprises Development born 27.5.1948
67. Muzenda Tsitsi V - Zanu PF Politburo member, born 28.10.1922
68. Muzonzini Elisha - Retired Brigadier, Ambassador Kenya, born 24.6.1957
69. Ncube Abedinico - Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, born 13.10.1954
70. Ndlovu Naison K. - Zanu PF Politburo Secretary for Production and
Labour, born 22.10.1930
71. Ndlovu Sikhanyiso - Zanu PF Politburo Deputy Secretary for Commissariat,
72. Nhema Francis - Minister of Environment and Tourism, born 17.4.1959
73. Nkomo John Landa - Minister of Special Affairs in the President's Office
- 74. Nyambuya Michael Reuben - Retired Lieutenant General, Provincial
75. Nyoni Sithembiso Gile Glad - Minister of Small and Medium Enterprises
Development, born 20.9.1949
76. Parirenyatwa David Pagwese - Minister of Health and Child Welfare, born
77. Pote Selina M Zanu PF - Politburo Deputy Secretary for Gender and
78. Rusere Tinos Deputy - Minister for Water Resources and Infrastructural
Development, born 10.5.1945
79. Sakupwanya Stanley - Zanu PF Politburo Deputy Secretary for Health and
- 80. Samkange Nelson - Tapera Crispen Provincial Governor: Mashonaland West
81. Sekeramayi, Sydney Tigere - Minister of Defence, born 30.3.1944
- 82. Shamu Webster - Minister of State for Policy Implementation in the
President's Office, born 6.6.1945
83. Shamuyarira Nathan Marwirakuwa - Zanu PF Politburo Secretary for
Information and Publicity, born 29.9.1928
84. Shiri Perence - Air Marshal, born 1.11.1955
85. Shumba Isaiah Masvayamwando - Deputy Minister of Education, Sports and
Culture, born 3.1.1949
86. Sibanda Jabulani - Chair, National War Veterans Association, born
- 87. Sibanda Misheck Julius Mpande - Cabinet Secretary, born 3.5.1949
l 88. Sibanda Phillip Valerio - Commander Zimbabwe National Army, Lieutenant
General, born 25.8.1956
89. Sikosana Absolom - Zanu PF Politburo Secretary for Youth Affairs
90. Stamps Timothy - Health Advisor in the Office of the President, born
91. Tawengwa Solomon Chirume - Zanu PF Politburo Deputy Secretary for
Finance, born 15.6.1940
92. Tungamirai Josiah T - Retired Air Marshall, Minister of State for
Indigenisation and Empowerment, Retired Air Marshall, born 8.10.1948
93. Utete Charles - Chairman of the Presidential Land Review Committee, born
94. Zimonte Paradzai - Prisons Director, born 4.3.1947
95. Zvinavashe Vitalis - Retired General, born 27.9.1943
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NRZ trains turned into brothels on rail
A TIRED-LOOKING young man enquires at the booking counter whether he can
find space in the sleeper section of the National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ)
passenger train plying the Harare-Mutare route.
bored NRZ officer tells him the section is fully booked. "Nzvimbo
dzapera musleeper tsano, endai kumbombera. Kana mozoteera mangwana. (The
sleeper is fully booked. Go into the economy section or better still try
tomorrow)," says the officer as he dismisses the young man.
Frustrated, the man
strolls through the station and hops into an Economy
coach, which is now fully packed with passengers.
As he squeezes into a seat, in comes a
young woman who offers to accommodate
him in the sleeper section provided he pays a "small fee".
Even before the train leaves the Harare station, it dawns on the young man
that not only will he pay for the sleeper, but will also be the woman's
client during the night long journey to Mutare.
As standards continue to plummet at the beleaguered NRZ,
cashing in on the collapsing system and using the sleeper coaches as
brothels on rail.
The prostitutes dis-guise themselves
as genuine travellers and use the rooms
to entertain their clients throughout the journey.
As the Zimbabwe Independent reporter who travelled by
train to Mutare last
weekend later discovered the ladies of the night only take to the train
during peak periods especially month ends.
last Friday of every month is their busiest day as they target men
visiting their families in rural areas along the railway line. During this
period the train is so full many passengers are forced to stand in the
passage way throughout the journey.
The story of the NRZ is one of a parastatal
that has been falling apart for
the past two decades.
It is a
testimony of how President Robert Mugabe's government has destroyed
the robust infrastructure and companies it inherited from the Smith regime
at Independence in 1980. On Friday last week the Independent witnessed
evidence of a railway system that is on the brink of collapse.
The stench of
urine greets the passenger as he enters the train. The
situation resembles the filthy alleys in many of Zimbabwe's cities.
"This train smells of urine. The seats are in tatters, nothing seems to
function. Things have crumbled," says one Thomas Mukoshora as he struggles
to make himself comfortable on his seat.
The truth is that there is no system to talk
about. There is no running
water in the toilets. The acrid smell of urine spreads to the coaches.
"It is a health hazard and it's only a matter
of time before we have a
crisis," says Lilian Mukoshora who claims to have used the train for the
past 26 years. "The Rhodesia Railway was never in such a mess. This is
beyond repair mwanangu."
The booking system is a
shambles and passengers literally fight for seats
whilst NRZ officials stare.
The booking clerk who seems tired of his routine job allocates
a single seat
to more than four people.
The unfortunate ones are
forced to take a nap right next to the toilets. The
Blue train introduced amidst pomp and fanfare in the late nineties is now a
pale shadow of itself with coaches in a sorry state.
The television sets that once provided
over night entertainment on the long
intercity routes have since been switched off owing to a licencing dispute
with Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC). The only entertainment in the
dilapidated coaches are the foul-mouthed drunkards who occasionally crack
The NRZ bar
has stopped operating and has been replaced by illegal beer
sellers who have invaded the trains. The intoxicated drunkards are often
abusive especially to ladies travelling alone.
The Independent witnessed one drunk man who
pestered women on the entire
journey to Mutare.
have to be careful not to be crashed in a stampede by
fighting man. On this particular night there were more than four browls on
the train that left one man badly injured. On two occasions an army officer
was called in to intervene.
Before the NRZ degenerated to its current state a journey
from Harare to
Mutare took less than 8 hours starting from Harare at 21:30pm.
However on this particular occasion it took more than 11 hours to get to
Mutare after the train was grounded for three hours in Rusape due to
"We must wait here (Rusape) until we have a
small train coming all the way
from Mutare to inform us the route is clear. Hatifambe tinozoita zvakaitika
kuDete (We can't proceed or there will be repeat of the Dete train
disaster)," explained the officer to angry passengers who were by this time
threatening to deal with him.
station master for Rusape had disappeared from the scene after
passengers had threatened to manhandle him.
along the railway line have been vandalised and the company has
failed to raise enough funds to replace them. There is no functioning signal
between Rusape and Mutare.
Over the past few years the NRZ has seen a number
fatal accidents. On all
occasions the NRZ has attributed the accidents to either human error or
failure of the signaling equipment.
Only 2% land given to ex-farm workers
GOVERNMENT has allocated a mere 2% of the 11 million hectares acquired under
the land reform programme in the past four years to former commercial farm
workers, the Zimbabwe Independent heard last week.
workshop in Masvingo last weekend to assess the situation of farm
workers after the land reform programme, Mashonaland East Farm Community
Trust of Zimbabwe provincial manager Clifford Mpande said of the estimated
350 000 former farm workers only 13% had benefited from the fast-track land
"The farm workers were settled on 2% of the acquired
land," Mpande said.
"Official statistics as of the end of March 2002 indicated that only 1 183
former farm workers had been resettled. This is in stark contrast to an
estimated 140 000 who had lost their jobs at the same time."
"It has been estimated that currently only 600 commercial
farms are still
operational across the country, out of a total of 4 247 farms reported by
the Central Statistical Office in 1997, meaning that 86% of farms have been
"Given that the average work force on a farm was
40 people, it is estimated
that with the 90% of the farms fast tracked, over 320 000 farm workers had
been laid off by the third quarter of the 2002," Mpande said.
Before the inception of the farm invasions and
fast-track land reform
programme, commercial farms used to employ over 350 000 workers and offered
shelter to over 1,5 million including workers' relatives and children. The
farming community constituted 15% of the Zimbabwean population.
Mpande said between 60 and 80% of the displaced workers were still at the
closed farms' compounds without a stable source of income while the rest had
been forced back to their rural homes.
Parliamentary portfolio committee on Public Service, Labour
Welfare acting chairman Paurina Mpariwa told participants that
infrastructure and guaranteed human component were key to propelling
Zimbabwean's agriculture-based economy.
the land reform programme had empowered historically
marginalised Zimbabweans although like all programmes of its magnitude it
had its negatives such as shortages of infrastructure and services to the
"Facilities such as schools, water and sanitation,
health institutions and a
sound road network are among the top priorities of the numerous demands and
challenges confronting the communities," Mpariwa said.
"As a committee, we are aware of the general poor living
conditions of most
farm communities but this is a mammoth task which cannot be left to
government alone to accomplish but should involve all stakeholders with an
interest in the agricultural sector."
Government's Far East export drive suffers major setback
THE government's export drive in the Far East has suffered a major setback
after its Singapore Expo Centre closed down because of mounting operational
It also emerged this week that most of the business deals signed between
Singaporean and local businessmen had failed to take off due to lack of
commitment from the Zimbabwean side.
The Singapore Expo Centre, officially opened by President
Mugabe two years
ago, closed in December because the promoter, Metropolitan Bank, was facing
escalating maintenance costs.
chairman Enock Kamushinda, a major architect of the Asian
initiatives, confirmed in an interview on Wednesday that the centre had shut
down in December.
"We shut it (the Singapore Expo Centre) sometime in
December due to mounting
costs. We are going to incorporate that into the one in Malaysia. But we are
still in business," said Kamushinda.
Kamushinda denied claims that he used the Malaysian Expo
Centre to persuade
the host government to give him a banking licence. Kamushinda got the
licence around July last year.
Independent is reliably informed that the Expo Centre in
Malaysia could also have been shut down. But Kamushinda said the Expo had
only been moved to new central offices.
"We want to make it a one-stop shop. That is why we
are centralising the
centres," he said.
Despite Mugabe's many
business trips, trade between Zimbabwe and the Asia
Tigers remains minimal. An agreement between with Malaysian business people
to build a TV/DVD assembly plant in Zimbabwe has not been implemented. There
are now fears that the agreement might fail to take off.
The Independent understands
there has been no progress despite numerous MOUs
signed with Malaysia for various business proposals. Malaysia is understood
to have agreed to construct a PC assembly plant and an egg production
facility. These are yet to be implemented due to lack of commitment from the
Malaysian government and the local businesspeople.
Zimbabwe's foray into the Far East is part
of the Asia/Africa Investment
Technology Promotion Center launched as a Tokyo International Conference on
African Development (Ticad) initiative last year.
The programme is funded by the government of Japan and
the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation headquarters in
The South/South initiative under the Ticad
programme envisages closer
co-operation between African countries and South East Asian economies in the
areas of trade and investment.
has for the past three years promoted investment and trade with South
East Asian countries like Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand but there has
been very little to show for it.
Japanese ambassador to Zimbabwe Tsu-neshige
Liyama last week said he was
happy with Zimbabwe's progress under Ticad. He said Ticad was not just about
trade and investment but was a replica of New Partnership for Africa's
"The concept is the
same," said. "It is a twin of Nepad. We support the
Nepad concept because it is a sister programme of Ticad. Ticad is Nepad made
in Japan," he said.
War vets take over NRZ department
WAR veterans have taken over the security department of the National
Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) amid allegations that the parastatal is losing
millions of dollars in property claims from customers.
According to information that came to light during an outreach programme by
the Portfolio Committee on Foreign Affairs, Industry and International
Trade, the war veterans are allegedly interfering in the smooth operations
of the parastatal.
Moses Mzila, a member of the portfolio committee that
visited Bulawayo this
week, confirmed that they had received disturbing information on the
presence of the war veterans at the troubled parastatal.
"Workers at the NRZ brought their complaints to the
portfolio committee but
management says it is not aware of the presence of the war veterans. The
question to ask is who is paying these people if management is not aware of
their presence?" said Mzila.
contact NRZ corporate affairs manager Misheck Matanhire proved
fruitless by the time of going to press.
Mzila said members of the public told the
committee that war veterans
operate from an office at the parastatal's HQ and have been allocated a
vehicle that they use for their operations.
"The war veterans are operating from office number 402
and they were
allocated an NRZ vehicle number 558 and we are saying this is a case of
complicity by some parties in management and the war veterans who are also
said to be involved in the disappearance of goods from wagons," Mzila said.
"We have asked the police to arrest these criminals because
this is a simple
case of mischief by people who have no mandate to be doing what they are
doing at the NRZ."
NRZ workers who made
representations to the team said they were at times
assaulted by war veterans whom they accused of stealing goods from wagons.
"The reports we have
received on the war veterans are alarming and what
makes this whole issue grave is management that is supposed to be in charge
says it is not aware of the presence of these people who have been stationed
around that office for months now," Mzila said.
A worker at the NRZ said the war veterans number about 10.
The NRZ does not have a security officer at the
moment, as the post was not
filled when the former incumbent left a couple of years ago.
Gono's success hinges on politics
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono has been meeting diplomats in
Harare in a bid to soften donors' hardline position on Zimbabwe and to sell
his monetary policy. The plan is to convince financiers that the country's
economic fortunes are changing for the better.
It appears Gono has been roped in by government to push its changing policy
position from "we can go it alone" to courting Western financiers. But there
are a myriad problems along the way for Zimbabwe.
Gono in his monetary policy statement launched last December said he would
engage the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
"We will engage whoever we owe money. Yes we will approach the IMF and the
World Bank to work out a plan to pay what we owe them," said the governor.
Gono would like to widen his scope and approach traditional donor states
like the European Union countries, the United Kingdom, Commonwealth
countries and the United States.
However for Zimbabwe to get the much-needed balance of payment support from
these countries there has to be a strong indication that President Robert
Mugabe's government is now committed to the rule of law and democracy.
Diplomats from donor states who attended one of Gono's meetings last week
said they were preparing an "appropriate response". They said donors were
looking beyond the monetary policy - towards government offering a total
package that would include breaking the political impasse in the country and
making a far reaching deal with the opposition before the holding of free
and fair elections.
Economist John Robertson said Gono should concentrate on the exchange rate
and boosting exports before approaching donors for balance of payments
"We cannot ask donors to be giving us foreign currency when we should be
earning it from exports," said Robertson.
He said the local currency was overvalued, which was killing exporters both
big and small.
"We want donors to provide forex which we are failing to earn from exports.
Once the exchange rate is right and exporters are happy we will need to
borrow less," he said.
Government wants a strong Zimbabwe dollar against the United States dollar.
But analysts say this can only happen with improved availability of foreign
currency to trade on the auction system.
"For now there will not be a sudden deluge of forex in the formal sector of
the economy, which means someone has to fill in that gap," an economist
This week agency reports quoted Information minister Jonathan Moyo - who
usually mirrors Mugabe's mind - as saying Zimbabwe would pay its US$270
million debt to the IMF to raise the country's credit rating.
Ziana this week quoted Moyo as saying the IMF was impressed with Zimbabwe's
economic reforms and that he was confident the country would not be forced
to withdraw its membership from the fund - another volte-face.
In his birthday interview with Newsnet two weeks ago, Mugabe said Zimbabwe
could work with the World Bank and not the IMF.
"The bank can help us immensely, and we are working on how we can regain the
assistance of the World Bank," said Mugabe.
"I'm not sure with the IMF whether we are on good terms with them.
"I mean in financial terms, and we have paid our debts, whether we could go
back to them and invite them to come and help us. I doubt because their
ideas are completely wrong," he said.
Analysts this week said Moyo's statement was an admission that the country
could not deal with the current economic crisis without bridging finance
from multilateral lending agencies and donors.
But the changing mood won't be enough to appease international financiers as
long as President Mugabe's government refuses to abandon its muddled
policies which have seen the president taking cheap shots at the IMF, the
World Bank and Western donors whenever it suits him.
Gono's success with the Bretton Woods institutions and international donors
depends on how these lenders are prepared to overlook Mugabe's populist
rhetoric about imperialists and their supporters and focus on the country's
President Mugabe's government has defaulted on external debts of more than
US$3,5 billion, while Mugabe has told the IMF "to go to hell".
Analysts this week said Mugabe, whose party is facing an election in 12
months' time, has been painted into a corner by growing dissatisfaction
among the urban poor and the working class on the one hand, and the demands
of Western financial institutions and the international community.
Mugabe, they said, was likely to continue pouring scorn on the West, the IMF
and the World Bank and hope to open new markets among Asian Tigers, African
and South American allies to shore up his image as a champion of the third
But there has been very little to show for this "look east" policy and
South-South co-operation mantra as the country desperately seeks balance of
payment support which started to dry up when Mugabe dragged the country into
the DRC war in August 1998.
The situation was exacerbated when government embarked on an unplanned
seizure of white commercial farms four years ago to stem an opposition MDC
onslaught ahead of a parliamentary election in 2000. Donors took flight when
government breached the principles of the October 1998 land donors'
conference which stipulated that land reform should be carried out in a
transparent manner and aimed at poverty alleviation if it was to receive
Then in September 2001 the IMF declared Zimbabwe ineligible to use funds
under its poverty reduction and growth facility. On June 13, 2002 the
executive board of the IMF adopted a declaration of non-cooperation with
Zimbabwe and suspended technical assistance to the country. A year later the
executive board suspended the voting and related rights of Zimbabwe in the
IMF. Last December a further ban started a process which could ultimately
result in the compulsory withdrawal of the country from the IMF.
During this process, Zimbabwe will have ample time to improve its relations
with the IMF to reverse the economic slide and meet its overdue financial
On the other hand the European Union in 2000 announced an immediate freeze
on bilateral high-level contacts. In 2002 it imposed targeted sanctions on
Zanu PF politicians and officials considered to be Mugabe's cronies. This
has widened the gulf between Zimbabwe and the EU which last month extended
the targeted sanctions and put additions to the list of those banned from
travelling to Europe.
Zimbabwe has been excluded from the United States' Africa Growth and
Opportunity Act (Agoa), which seeks to put preferential terms on some
African products entering the US. Zimbabwe is slowly being left out of the
Nepad initiative in which African countries are committing themselves to the
precepts of good governance as a way of promoting trade and investment from
All these international measures against Zimbabwe have coalesced into trade
embargo that will take time and skill to unravel. But there are fears Gono's
efforts could be sabotaged by Mugabe's government which is already in the
While Gono has been given the greenlight to talk to the Bretton Woods
institutions and other donors analysts say the timing is most inauspicious.
He needs a political gambit to take to the negotiating table.
Where are all the political hyenas?
WHEN the ENG scandal was first exposed at the end of last year nobody could
have foreseen its ramifications. Nor could Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono
have realised that he had opened a Pandora's box. The ripple effects on the
banking sector have been devastating amid calls by President Mugabe for a
broad anti-corruption campaign.
The question people are asking now is whether Gono is up to the task and
whether he has the resources needed to deal with a crisis of this magnitude?
The stakes went higher when at the weekend the Reserve Bank released a long
list of companies that have not remitted their foreign currency earnings for
last year and are under investigation. But this appears to be only the
tail-end of a whale.
If Mugabe is serious about fighting corruption the inquiry should suck in
all those who were involved in unethical deals that led to the closure of
bureaux de change. It must also scrutinise politicians selling fuel on the
black market. What is going to happen to those who externalised the local
currency, leaving banks almost redundant because they didn't have cash? The
inquiry would not be complete if it didn't examine businessmen and
politicians who sourced subsidised grain from the Grain Marketing Board and
sold the mealie meal at extortionate prices to the hungry masses. That's
To execute such a task we need an independent prosecutor in the mold of
Kenneth Star in the Bill Clinton inquiry, answerable only to parliament and
beyond President Mugabe's further power. The independent prosecutor should
have his own investigators and a broad mandate to probe suspected cases of
money laundering, illegal dealing in foreign currency, minerals, and insider
trading on the ZSE. He should have enough power to tackle politicians and no
patent crime should be set beyond the ambit of law enforcement agencies.
This will obviate the need for the president to use "patently
unconstitutional" instruments such as the Presidential Powers (Temporary
Measures) (Amendment of Criminal Procedure and Evidence Act) regulations as
is the case now. Such an approach will not only broaden the scope of
investigations but will also speed up the prosecution process to avoid the
long detention of suspects.
Making the independent prosecutor answerable only to parliament does not in
any way impugn President Mugabe's own commitment to fight corruption. What
it does is give the campaign a national character. Rather than the
anti-graft campaign being viewed as a Mugabe election gambit, people need to
feel that they own the process, that it is enduring and fair. As it is there
is a lot of scepticism about the timing ahead of a crucial parliamentary
Nor is it healthy for Gono to be seen as settling scores with old rivals in
his clean-up of the financial sector. A victim complex is being allowed to
develop. The aspersions against Gono are not helped by the fact that most of
the victims of his monetary policy have so far been banking institutions.
This was to be expected as it is a field in which Gono has a lot of
But that is also the source of his limitations.
An independent prosecutor and his multi-skilled investigators should come in
handy. There are lots of hyenas looting gold quarries across the country and
others slouching on ill-gotten farms they cannot use. The parastatals are a
major drain on the fiscus while civil servants have all but turned
government offices into mini-fleamarkets. A major clean-up is long overdue.
If Mugabe wants to be believed he has to state categorically that violence
will not be tolerated as a means to power. It is not enough for him to
denounce only people using money to buy their way into power. If the
anti-corruption campaign is a time for a new hope and national regeneration,
it must cover all facets of our social, economic and political life.
Most skilled people are leaving the country en mass because of the current
crisis and the anxiety associated with our often violent elections. So long
as people in the Diaspora feel that the money they send home through the
official channels will abet Zanu PF tyranny, there will be very little of it
flowing into the system. And we need tonnes of forex.
No amount of sunshine journalism about a resurgent economy can hide the fact
that there is very little foreign currency to trade on the auction system.
In essence problems of fuel, electricity, transport and drug shortages will
be with us for a long time. Gono cannot solve problems of lawlessness and
human rights abuses that rightly should be the domain of politicians. ENG
cannot be blamed for our current political and economic problems.
Economy still on a downward spiral
ALTHOUGH improbable, one must hope that the knowledge of law of the Minister
of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick Chinamasa, is somewhat
greater than his awareness of economic affairs. Last week, he demonstrated
that he very clearly does not appreciate or understand the circumstances of
the Zimbabwean economy. Confronted with the fact that he has withdrawn
government's request of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for
$127 billion of funding for Zimbabwe's 2005 general elections, he stated
that the reason for that withdrawal is that with the upturn in the economy,
Zimbabwe is able to fund the election without international assistance. (Of
course, if he says that is the reason, there couldn't possibly be any other,
such as that UNDP would wish to evaluate the legitimacy of Zimbabwe's
electoral process, could there be? No, of course not!).
But if Chinamasa believes there is an economic upturn occurring in Zimbabwe,
he either does not understand anything relative to economics, or is a victim
of governmental self-delusion, for far from there being any upturn
whatsoever, the economy is continuing in its seemingly endless decline.
Maybe the minister and his colleagues have been misguided by the momentary
fall in inflation in December last, when the year-on-year inflation
diminished by 3,36%. However, if they were duped by that almost unique
decrease (!!) in inflation, they must have overlooked that in January,
inflation resumed its upward climb, rising from 598,7% to an all-time record
high of 622,8%.
There is much, much more that evidences the intensely distressed state of
the economy. It is estimated that at least three-quarters of Zimbabwe's
employable population is currently without gainful employment. That is
despite the fact that the employable population has diminished by about 3
million people, being those who have sought employment in South Africa,
elsewhere in southern Africa, in the United Kingdom and mainland Europe, the
US, Australia, Canada and various other countries. Nevertheless, more than 4
million Zimbabweans desirous of employment remain in Zimbabwe, but are
either unemployed or only partially employed. The unemployed include
hundreds of thousands of displaced farm workers, many retrenched miners as
the mining industry was progressively forced to curtail operations, due to
rising costs and inadequate revenues, and vast numbers of contract workers
laid off by industries suffering from shrinking domestic markets and loss of
competitiveness in export markets.
An even more horrifying statistic is that more than four-fifths of Zimbabwe'
s population is barely subsisting, at levels below the Poverty Datum Line
(PDL), and more than half of those poverty-stricken Zimbabweans are so
impoverished that their very survival is in doubt, they existing at levels
below the Food Datum Line (FDL). They are grossly under-nourished and
suffering the ills and pangs of grievous malnutrition.
Zimbabwe needs 1,8 million tonnes of maize per annum to feed itself, but the
current crop inclusive of production in the communal lands, is unlikely to
amount to even 300 000 tonnes. Minister Made will attribute the inadequate
crop to climatic conditions, but the realities are that the government has
brought commercial farming to its knees, has only belatedly - and
inadequately - made inputs available to new farmers, and that even in
optimal climatic conditions, total maize production would have been most
inadequate. So too will be this year's production of wheat, and of many
Perhaps Minister Chinamasa bases his contention of economic upturn on the
fact that the provisional estimates of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2003
reflect a negative growth of 15%, whereas forecasts for 2004 suggest that
GDP will shrink by 12%. But it stretches credulity too far to interpret a
marginally lesser contraction of the economy in 2004 from that of 2003 to
indicate an economic upturn! And if one is to accept Chinamasa's statement
that the economy is now in recovery mode, it is necessary to ignore the fact
that present estimates suggest that government's fiscal deficit will, this
year, be about 15% of GDP, raising government's borrowings by many, many
billions of dollars, which will in turn fuel further inflation.
The allegedly reviving economy is in such a state that many exporters are
teetering upon the precipice of collapse. This is partially a direct
consequence of certain of the prevailing monetary policies of the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ). Although those policies were formulated with the
best of intentions, and after wide-ranging consultation by RBZ's governor,
Gideon Gono, some of them are having dire repercussions upon exporters (and
upon many other industries and economic sectors). Exporters, who were
dependent upon a realistic, "blended" exchange rate late last year of about
US$1: $4 800 to achieve viability in an operating environment of
continuously rising costs, are suddenly faced with a "blend" rate of about
US$1: $3 200. At that rate they cannot survive, and particularly so as their
costs of production continue to rise, and concessional interest rate loan
facilities do not suffice to close the gap between operational costs and
revenue receipts. Exporter circumstances are worsened further in instances
where their foreign exchange needs exceed the foreign exchange that they are
entitled to retain from their export proceeds, forcing them to buy currency
in the foreign currency auctions, generally at a higher price than that at
which they had to sell export proceeds.
As if the survival of export enterprises is not sufficiently in jeopardy,
they are further afflicted by the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority
(Zesa) not only applying unjustifiable, draconian tariff increases, but also
demanding payment in foreign currency (and having the unmitigated gall to
apply the spurious US$1: $824 governmental exchange rate, instead of the
weighted average auction rate (of US$1:$4 138 as of the second of last week'
The conditions confronting exporters are such that many have had to
discontinue export operations, and this must result in a contraction of the
amount of foreign currency as will be available at future auctions, after
whatsoever small currency stockpile as the RBZ governor has been able to
accumulate has been exhausted. Already, the amounts bid for at each auction
are at least 50% greater than the foreign currency available at each
auction, and that despite the fact that the auction committee is restricting
bids in accord with a priority listing. The prospects, in the very near
future, are bleak, for the amount of foreign currency as will be available
will be well below national needs. As a result, Zimbabweans can anticipate
recurring shortages of fuel, medications and many other imports, and
increasingly frequent and lengthy episodes of electricity load-shedding.
So stupendous (sic!) is the economic upturn that almost all wholesalers and
retailers enjoyed (sic!) low levels of trade in December last. Whilst
normally the weeks and days ahead of the festive season are times of
greatest trade volumes for the distributive trades, with the populace
applying year-end bonuses, leave pay and other emoluments to the purchase of
long-desired goods, that was not the case at the end of 2003. So great had
been the inroads of inflation throughout almost all of that year, that most
consumers resorted to the shops only for essential consumables, foodstuffs
and the like. Those fortunate enough to have any remaining funds after those
purchases, held them to pay school fees, municipal rates, and the like in
The result has been massive overstocking of furniture, clothing, textiles,
footwear, and many other products, and therefore the orders placed upon
industry after the end of the annual industrial recess were few and far
between. Retailers are desperately trying to dispose of excess stocks and,
in an attempt to do so, are reducing prices considerably, and in some
instances below cost, in order to generate greatly needed cash flow. These
reductions may have had some impact upon inflation rates in February, but
that impact will be short-lived, for rising costs of imported inputs for
commerce and industry in response to progressively increasing exchange rates
at the foreign currency auctions, due to a growing scarcity of foreign
currency, rising wages and other costs will all shortly fuel inflation
upwards once again. Is that the economy which the honourable minister
alleges is in upturn?
In lotto a miss is as good as a mile
Media and Information Commission chair Tafataona Mahoso thinks there is "an
immense ideological war" going on in Zimbabwe. "The corporate sector and its
sponsored media do not want the popular nature of the current fight against
corruption to become clear. They prefer the opposite impression, which their
media are working hard to create, the impression that the fight against
corruption is or should be strictly elitist, technocratic and managerial."
wrote Mahoso in the Sunday Mail this week.
Mahoso wants to give the impression that the private media have been trying
to shield corporate malfeasance and would rather that it was not exposed.
Far from it, Zimbabweans from all walks of life have been calling for
tougher measures to deal with corrupt elements in our body politic. Until
President Mugabe decided it was time up, the impression had been created
that so long as you stayed under the protective arm of Zanu PF you could
behave as you liked.
It was only after the exposure of the monumental fraud at ENG Asset
Management Company that government started to get serious about fighting
corruption. That in part explains why there are more Zanu PF chefs than
anybody else being dragged to the courts. It is possible that cases of
impropriety may be going on in the corporate sector without being reported
because they are difficult to detect. But people are more readily irked by
such cases in the public sector, not to spite Zanu PF but because they are
financed from the public purse.
We all know about the Willowgate motor vehicle scandal, the Pay For Your
House scandal, the War Victims Compensation scandal and the amassing of
farms by well-connected Zanu PF officials against government's own one man,
one farm policy. Mugabe in July last year ordered those who had grabbed more
than one farm to surrender them within two weeks. There was no response to
that ultimatum. Minister for Special Affairs in the office of the President
responsible for Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement John Nkomo last week
said those who ignored calls to surrender extra farms faced possible
prosecution. You can be sure most of those refusing to surrender the extra
farms are Zanu PF chefs. Just wait till we get the list.
Contrary to claims by Mahoso that the fight against corruption "has exposed
the imperial forces and their stooges as the real enemies of the ordinary
Zimbabwean", people are wondering why it took government this long to launch
the fight? Zimbabweans are wondering whether it will get real "bloody" to
expose the big fish. Is Zanu PF capable of self-regeneration or is the
current hype about corruption Mugabe's electoral plank as we approach
another parliamentary election?
We were startled by a new political outfit calling itself MDC Supporters
for Democracy, which until last week was unknown to most of us, clamouring
for MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai's head. Sunday Mail political editor
Munyaradzi Huni claimed this was a "powerful arm of the opposition party".
Why has it remained virtually unknown for this long we wonder? Its leader,
one Kurauone Chihwayi, is a frequent letter writer to the Sunday Mail. All
along he has been calling himself president of some obscure debating
society. Presumably this was to camouflage his deep involvement in
Huni might care to explain to us what position Chihwayi occupies in the MDC
since its formation four years ago. "While we agree with all of you (who are
these?) that democracy in Zanu PF is non-existent, we also believe we must
take an audit of democracy in our own party, MDC. The status quo within the
MDC is continuously taking a nose-dive and we seem to be facing more
problems than Zanu PF," wrote Chihwayi in his letter which he decided to
forward to Huni.
Probably the MDC will have enough time to answer Chihwayi's questions. But
with founders such as Chihwayi, we are not surprised the likes of Huni are
having a field day over alleged splits and factions in the MDC.
Zimbabwe's ambassador to Austria Tirivafi Kangai was roped
in this week to
sing for his supper after the European Union last week renewed targeted
sanctions against the country's political leadership. The EU said Zimbabwe
failed the test in five key areas: politically motivated violence,
commitment to free and fair elections, commitment to a free press, an
independent judiciary and an end to invasion of private properties.
In an article carried in the Herald on Monday, Kangai claimed there was no
legal basis for the allegations because Zimbabwe was not given the chance to
defend itself. "Talk of politically motivated violence does not hold water
anymore," said Kangai. "There have not been any significant cases of
political violence for the past two years."
It is the first time that a senior Zanu PF official has acknowledged that
there was ever politically motivated violence in the country. Why the past
two years? What was happening all along?
A lot has been said about the verdict passed by the Zimbabwe Election
Support Network (ZESN) concerning the conduct of the Gutu North
parliamentary poll. Everybody pronounced them peaceful and that they set an
auspicious precedent for future elections. The impression was given that
Zimbabweans have a propensity for violence, all that is needed being an
election to act as a catalyst. What is not explained is the role of the
candidates themselves who take an electoral challenge as a declaration of
war. Which is why nobody, especially in the Zanu PF camp, wants to explain
why there was only limited violence in Gutu North.
What we are not told is that Josiah Tungamirai (Zanu PF) and Casper Musoni
(MDC) are relatives and agreed from the outset that there would be no
bloodshed over a political post. The Standard carried a story on February 15
of Tungamirai ordering war veterans leader Joseph Chinotimba and his band of
violent thugs out of his constituency after they harassed Musoni's staff at
his Zouma café at Mpandawana.
Govt abuses overdraft facility
GOVERNMENT has contravened the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act by over shooting
its overdraft limit from the central bank as stipulated by law. This week
businessdigest established that government had side-stepped stipulated
regulatory requirements on its overdraft from the central bank, as it had
been availed $80 billion.
This is more than the stipulated $228 billion in a space of a week. This
effectively means that government accessed $308 billion.
The move is in direct contravention of the Reserve Bank
Act which states
that government cannot exceed more than 20% of the previous year's revenues.
Last year the estimated revenue and international
grants amounted to $1,141
The central bank's State of
Assets and Liabilities documents for January
indicate that there were loans and advances amounting to $789 trillion made
as of January 16.
This was up from $480,trillion as of January 9.
Director of finance and administration Peter Mujaya compiled the
Although the advances are normally used either for liquidity support and
loans to banks during that period there were no advances made to such areas.
Investigations have since revealed that the increases
were due to huge
increases of overdraft borrowing by government.
According to the Reserve Bank Act, the central bank shall
not lend or
advance "moneys to or directly buy, discount or rediscount bills, notes or
other obligations from the State or any Fund established by the State so
that the amount outstanding at any time exceeds the equivalent of twenty per
centum of the previous year's ordinary revenue of the State".
The regulation however excludes government stocks and
purchased on the market for monetary policy purposes.
This regulation effectively means that since last year's
International Aid Grants amounted to $1,141 trillion, government had to
limit itself to only $228 billion, but instead ended up gobbling $80 billion
more in a space of a week.
The over-expenditure by
government flies in the face of RBZ governor Gideon
Gono's claim during his monetary policy announcement that while the private
sector accounted for a greater part of credit creation in the economy,
government access to the Reserve Bank overdraft was within approved
continued appetite for easy cash by government is set to worsen
inflationary pressures, which the central bank is battling to contain.
The failure to rein in on government's quest for money has been problematic
over the years as it has been failing to live within its stated policy
Analysts said although the central bank had not
justified such huge quench
for funds, the money could have been used to pay for civil servants'
salaries, who recently got a 250% salary hike.
The Act however is silent on penalties to be exacted in case
surpasses the limits.
74 exporting firms blacklisted
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has blacklisted 74 exporters who failed
to meet last week's deadline to remit their export earnings.
The firms have been barred with immediate effect from
currency on the auction system.
firms are among the initial 200 companies which failed to
remit a total of US$175 million in export earnings when the deadline expired
The latest development comes against a backdrop of the central
line stance against defaulters a fortnight ago in which it published a list
of 220 firms accused of non-acquittal of the regulatory Currency Declaration
(CD1) forms and not repatriating export earnings by the December 15
A central bank spokesperson this week
confirmed the classification of the
firms, adding that the latter have again been barred from accessing foreign
currency through the auction floor system.
"By the end of Sunday February 22, at least 74 exporters had
responded," the spokesperson said. "As indicated in the media, all exporters
that did not respond at all by February 22 would be handed over to the
National Economic Conduct Inspectorate (Neci), Zimbabwe Revenue Authority
(Zimra) and the police for further investigations with the aim of
"Exporters who fail to fully comply with the
Reserve Bank's directive will
not be allowed to access foreign currency from the auction floors and their
other exchange control requests will not be attended to until they clear
their record of overdue export payments."
Although the decision was taken to publish the list of
defaulting firms not
all the published names had not yet repatriated their money to the RBZ by
the end of last year.
This has however been
blamed on bureaucratic banking procedures.
The central bank said the offending parties were causing foreign currency
shortages and pain to the innocent public.
Despite the amendments of the CD1 forms in 2002 by
the central bank this has
failed to stop the continued hemorrhaging of foreign currency, which was
largely caused by the distorted foreign currency system as exporters were
under-invoicing their products.
central bank this week published another set of firms which had not
complied, bringing the total number of firms published so far to 340.
Following the RBZ's meeting with the companies concerned the central bank
has so far received US$5 million.
"Some exporters have
pledged to repatriate another US$15 million in the next
seven days," the spokesperson said.
"Over US$36 million was cleared and work is
underway to reconcile with other
"All those exporters
who responded or are making significant efforts to
clear their CD1 non-acquittals or immediately call for payments of overdue
amounts, will be allowed to continue exporting but under the close scrutiny
of the RBZ, Zimra and Neci."
The list of firms that had not responded to the RBZ
parastatals, Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed firms as well as prominent
The businesses had utilised
facilitites offered by virtually all the
country's commercial banks.
NGOs to get preference on forex
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is developing a special scheme for
non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and embassies who access foreign
currency for some of their operations.
An RBZ official
said the scheme was intended to lessen delays in allocating
foreign currency to NGOs and embassies now that the central bank had
tightened the operations of financial institutions.
NGOs and embassies also use the prevailing
auction rate as quoted by
authorised dealers to charge for services denominated in foreign currency.
The move comes less than three months after the RBZ introduced its foreign
currency auction system largely meant to solve the country's crippling
The foreign currency
auction system began on January 12 with suppliers
offering US$20,6 million for auctioning.
The system has resulted in the Zimbabwe dollar being
devalued in disguise
from $824 to about $4 138 against the United States dollar as of Thursday,
Sixteen auctions have been held so far.
The foreign currency supply had largely been from the
mandatory sales to the
auction upon receipt of foreign exchange by exporters, auction offers from
exporters and other suppliers of foreign exchange, FCA liquidations after 21
days and other market purchases.
foreign exchange auction system has unlocked substantial amounts
of foreign exchange, which was hanging speculatively outside the formal
system, it has now met resistance from exporters because of the low rate
Individuals are still selling money on the parallel market
at much higher
rates than the RBZ.
The RBZ has accused exporters
of still securing money from the parallel
"This is not
on," RBZ governor Gideon Gono told chartered accountants last
month. "Those who get caught with their hands in the till will only have
themselves to blame. They were borrowing from the parallel market and now
expect to be bailed out by the RBZ."
The RBZ said it was now conducting a
sector-by-sector investigation to try
and find out which sectors needed help.
"Some sectors are benefiting from the system yet they are not
their prices," Gono said. "They should ensure that benefits also filter
through to the people. We have given manufacturers a 30% window to try and
cushion them against problems that they have been facing. This should go a
long way in helping them."
In terms of the monetary policy
statement announced by Gono on December 18,
the central bank advised that concessionary finance at a maximum all
inclusive interest rate of 30% would apply to all productive and export
Under this facility,
statutory reserves contributed by financial
institutions were made available to commercial and merchant banks for
on-lending on a revolving basis.
Eligible productive sectors were agriculture, mining,
construction, transport, communication, and tourism.
All small and medium-scale enterprises were eligible for funding.
Sectors not being supported by the scheme included financial
financial organisations, individuals, non-governmental organisations,
parastatals and quasi-governmental institutions, and passenger transport
Gono said the facility was for productive
use such as plant and equipment
for industrial and agricultural purposes and professional equipment, working
capital, refinancing of existing debt for eligible expenditure, excluding
offshore loans, as well as pre-and-post shipment financing.
Meanwhile foreign exchange inflows have risen
from below US$11,7 million in
November last year to US$85,4 million last month.
So far about US$60 million has been received by the RBZ for
Parallel market very much alive
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ's) foreign currency auction system
introduced two months ago continues to play second fiddle to the parallel
market which has continued to flourish.
The auction system has failed to curb the
parallel market that continues to
mop up the bulk of the foreign currency from individuals in the country.
Zimbabweans abroad continue to feed the black market with money sent into
the country through money transfer facilities.
The rates on the auction floors also continue to lag
behind the black market
rates which remain the most viable foreign currency exchange facility in
Market watchers said they feel the
auction is not a proper representation of
the situation on the ground.
They say holders of small quantities of foreign currency feel
by the auctions where the RBZ strictly controls rates.
The parallel market is currently hovering at around US$1:$5
500 and there
are indications that it could firm further if the auction rate continues to
The Reserve Bank has the power to
decide the rate appreciation and
fluctuation on the auction.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union's chief economist Godfrey
Kanyenze said the
parallel market would continue to exist until government and the RBZ address
the issue of supply through increased production.
"We haven't done anything," he said. "There is still an
absolute shortage of
foreign currency. We need to look at the issue of supply."
Kanyenze said the acute foreign currency shortage would
continue to sustain
the parallel market.
"There remains a shortage
in the market and that gap is being filled by the
black market," he said.
The market attributes the increased activity on the black
market to an
increased number of rejected bids on the auction floors.
The central bank has thrown out more than 800 bids since
inception of the
Officials privy to the auctions
say most of the rejected bids were for
holidays. This, according to the market consensus, creates a viable market
for the dealers who offer the foreign currency at premiums.
The central bank however insists that
the rejected bids were for less
Zimbabwean dollar has begun to take a bashing on the auction floors
rates being on the slide for the past three weeks.
past three weeks the Zimbabwe dollar has lost ground against almost
all major currencies.
After initially firming to about US$1:$3 600 the Zimbabwe
dollar has now
plunged to US$1:$4 214.
Major parallel market spots
for traders in Harare this week continued to be
a hive of activity despite government's intensified blitz on them.
Harare's Africa Unity Square, now a popular market for traders, has
continued to supply the capital city with the greenback, South African rand
and Botswana pula.
the Apostolic Sect (Mapositori) sect are still trading despite
heavy police presence.
The Road Port Station also remains a conducive hiding place for the traders.
Informal traders from neighbouring countries
continue to off-load their
foreign currency onto the black market, instead of the official banking
channels riling the RBZ.
Forex issue: Bloch has lost the plot
DO you have an aspiring Zanu PF apologist disguised as an eminent economist
contributing a regular column?
I ask this question in
respect of Eric Bloch and my question is based on his
recent lengthy pontification on the subject of foreign currency auctions.
Does he really believe that Zimbabwe is now operating an honest, transparent
and open foreign currency exchange system? Perhaps he does, as he also seems
to believe that Gideon Gono's new monetary policy (a "veritable tour de
force" according to Bloch) will eliminate inflation, restore the external
value of the Zimbabwe dollar and restore the Zimbabwean economy. He also
appears confident that Zimbabwe will now be able to re-engage the IMF and
the World Bank.
Perhaps Bloch also believes that the appointment of Didymus
Mutasa as a
Minister of Anti-Corruption (another veritable tour de force) will eliminate
or even significantly reduce the corruption that is so prevalent throughout
Bloch, it seems, has lost
the plot - both politically and economically.
Let me remind him that the single most important reason for the precipitous
decline of the Zimbabwean economy is the disastrous policies and practices
of the regime that has (mis)governed this country for the past 23 years.
Because of its
policies the productive base of the economy has been
significantly eroded, if not destroyed.
Has Bloch forgotten that the fundamental and most
important purpose of any
economy is the creation of wealth? Is he unaware that this government has
deliberately destroyed or neglected its infrastucture (eg agriculture,
transport) misallocated resources to non-productive purposes on a massive
scale (examples too numerous to mention), rewarded incompetent acquisitive
cronies rather than creative entrepreneurship (examples too well-known to
need repeating) and institutionalised corruption etc?
Does he really believe that Gono
can wave some magic wand called "new
monetary policy" and somehow restore the productive capacity of Zimbabwe's
really believe that the appointment of Mutasa will remove the cancer
of corruption? Where should he start his anti-corruption drive? When Nero
was fiddling and Rome was burning would the Roman firefighters have dared
criticise the emperor's negligence?
Get real, Mr Bloch, the
only way that the Zimbabwean economy can begin the
long, slow, and painful process of recovery is after the removal of the
regime that has brought it to its knees.
As has been stated often, the beginning of the restoration
of the Zimbabwean
economy will be when there is a change of government -and I do not mean some
meaningless recycling of failed Zanu PF cabinet ministers. They are the
problem - they are not part of the solution.
I can do
no better than refer Bloch and other Zanu PF fellow travellers to
his fellow columnist Chido Makunike's comments (Independent, January 9):
"The most tragic way we cheat ourselves as a society in crisis and decline
is by pretending that there can be any appreciable way to arrest and reverse
our fall as long as Mugabe, his regime and all the negative values that they
represent rule Zimbabwe. There can be no regeneration of a genuinely free,
peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe until not just the head of the system, but
the system itself is overhauled."
Perhaps we now have the
explanation for Bloch's opposition to "stay aways"
or any serious attempt to peacefully remove this regime - he is part of it.
What is Bloch's excuse for working with Mugabe?
Dear Editor, ERIC Bloch's column "Economic destruction not the path to
political change" (Zimbabwe Independent, February 27) made some interesting
and puzzling reading.
I have had the pleasure of
interacting with him in many respects as a
journalist, networking partner and a resident of Bulawayo.
He has (I am not so sure that this still
holds true) established himself as
an authority on economic, social and political matters. Many a time people
questioned me on the gentleman's grasp of socio-economic issues and why the
media found so much fascination about quoting and interviewing him. Although
I had no answer to this, one academic described Bloch as nothing more than
"that Bulawayo-based bookkeeper".
Reading through his article I was amazed at how
perilously close he came to
confirming this perception. In a nutshell, Bloch is in the auction committee
just to do that - see whether we can balance the books. The moral, social
and political cost of doing so or the mechanisms of doing so are of no
consequence to him.
But then who can blame him
for being another prominent askari from
Matabeleland following closely on the footsteps of Jonathan Moyo? It is not
clear what framework of fixing the economy he is working within. It is not
the people who are working in the diaspora who have caused the economic
problems that the country is facing.
It is not their relatives either who have given Zimbabwe a
bad credit rating
but the Zanu PF government. If Bloch were to proceed from a cause - effect,
problem - solution-basis he would realise that no matter how many auction
meetings he attends the problems facing the country will not go away.
Somebody needs to point out some facts to Bloch regarding the
have been raised with regard to sourcing funds from people in the diaspora.
The primary reason why Zimbabweans have found
themselves working in the
diaspora, legally and illegally, is because of the calculated misrule and
economic sabotage that has been perpetrated by the government of Zimbabwe
that Bloch wants to support.
The amount of
income they will generate from them is nothing compared to
what the mines, farms, factories and holiday resorts of the country are
capable of generating. Zimbabwe was never going to be run on migrant income
remittances, even Wenela failed.
The only way to eat an elephant is by taking one
small piece at a time but
surely that does not include its droppings!
Secondly, Bloch needs to realise that there is no greater
tsotsi that the
people in the diaspora fear more than Zanu PF. They know fully well that
foreign currency is required to support and finance either directly or
indirectly the activities of the disputed presidency of Robert Mugabe.
The middlemen that they have dealt with before ensured that
had food to eat, could pay for medication, buy clothes and bury their kith
and kin. So the question of who is fooling who is resolved.
If the foreign currency is required for business purposes,
the market is
already settling that. Yes, there was a market called the black market - it
was the market - period. If Bloch does not think this is true he can go and
ask industry executives, energy and telecommunication utilities or he can do
some quick arithmetic to establish how much we paid the Libyans for the oil
to get a rough idea of what the market rate was. The government has
basically come in to try and cheat the market.
Of all people
Bloch should know better that his justification does not wash.
There is no way that the Jewish community in Germany would have stood up
during the Second World War to fix the economy and loudly say what the Nazis
had done was wrong but that the important thing was to strengthen and
The only exception to this would be the pipe-smoking Thabo
Mbeki who has
decided to side with Mugabe regardless of the weak moral, political and
social arguments for doing so.
I trust Bloch does
not get me wrong. I am not against the economic recovery
of Zimbabwe. I am against the illogical reasoning by those who seek to help
the Mugabe regime tidy up the mess that it has systematically created over
the years. I suppose Bloch's conscience has not allowed him a good night's
sleep over the last few days and has been forced to explain why he is doing
what he is doing.
When he has tried to, he has made a big mess of
Everybody has an excuse for being part of the committee. It could be that
they are protecting their jobs which they hold courtesy of Zanu PF or they
are Mugabe's homeboys or in fear of their lives. What is Bloch's genuine
If you intend to work with the auction committee
please go ahead and I wish
you all the best. There is no need for you to stand up in public and justify
your deeds. If you are going to be charged for eating a portion why not eat
the whole goat?
WHILE President Mugabe and 14 other G15 leaders sat in the
air-conditioned auditorium of Caracas last week the Venezuelan National
Guard was engaged in pitched battles with protestors.
The ZBC and Herald news crews
who accompanied Mugabe to Venezuela did
not tell us three people were killed and up to 50 injured, including two
journalists, in the clampdown.
Troops firing tear gas and plastic bullets stopped
protesters from marching to the venue of the summit to demand a recall
referendum against Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez.
Reports say Chavez backers in distinctive red berets were allowed into
the venue of the summit despite a ban imposed by Interior minister Lucas
Rincon. The supporters were escorted by a National Guard tank.
months after the opposition umbrella group, the Democratic
Co-ordinator (CD), gathered more than three million signatures for a
referendum against the leftist Chavez, Venezuela's electoral authority was
poised to reject the petition.
The only way to revive the referendum, guaranteed
under Chavez's 1999
constitution, would be for hundreds of thousands of signatories to reaffirm
their intentions - an option that seemed certain to be rejected by the CD as
impractical, hence the demonstration.
The demonstrations did not however deter Mugabe
from piling accolades
on Chavez whom he praised for taking a hard line against perceived Western
enemies. After Cuba's Fidel Castro, Chavez is poised to be our octogenarian
president's key ally in the fight against imperialism.
Mugabe's choice of friends should be beneficial to
the whole nation
though and we hope Chavez will be a worthy ally. His country is a major oil
It is not surprising that Mugabe
was at his best in praise of Chavez.
In his speech, Mugabe made it clear that all the problems in Venezuela and
Zimbabwe were the fault of the United States and the United Kingdom
reports that Chavez bestowed Mugabe with a replica of
South American independence hero Simon Bolivar's sword.
"I give you a replica of liberator Simon Bolivar's sword," Chavez said
last Thursday after the two leaders signed an energy cooperation agreement.
"For you, who like Bolivar, took up arms to liberate your people. For
you, who like Bolivar, are and will always be a true freedom fighter,"
Chavez said. "He continues, alongside his people, to confront the
pretensions of new imperialists."
Journalist Francisco Toro writing from Caracas
said Mugabe in his
speech hit an "emotional high talking in heart-rending terms about how
transnational capitalism robs the children of Zimbabwe of their food".
Toro was quick to attack Mugabe's posturing by pointing out who was
making Zimbabwe's children go to bed empty.
"I didn't know that I could despise any political
message more than I
despise Chavez's," said Toro.
today, I was proven wrong. Robert Mugabe's speech to the G15
summit was a document of such far-reaching criminal cynicism it made JVR
(Fifth Republic Revolutionary Youth, an affiliate of Chavez's party) look
like a grammar school kid, and Chavez himself like an amateur."
Mugabe, if Human Rights Watch is to be believed, you are the
one who makes sure your children go to bed hungry at night, and quite
literally," he said.
Civic groups and the media in Venezuela were quick to
President Chavez, accusing him of borrowing Mugabe's tactics in dealing with
"In the last 72 hours, Venezuelans
have seen thousands of soldiers
round up on a large peaceful protest firing hundreds of tear gas canisters,
plastic pellets and, on occasion, live ammo - and leaving two dead and 30
injured," said an Amnesty International release.
"They've seen tank and troop movements through many
ill-understood reasons. They've seen President Chavez praise Zimbabwe's
President Robert Mugabe as a freedom fighter and immediately turn around and
implement some of his tactics. For the first time, Chavez blamed all of the
country's problems on the US bogeyman."
Financial Times this week reported diplomats in Caracas as saying
Chávez was attempting to fan nationalist sentiment at home and set up an
external distraction to domestic political troubles.
"Chávez is playing
the rebel, using the old Latin American mythology
of the tough comandante fighting US imperialism," a diplomat in Caracas
Such is Chavez's hatred of the United States that he fired choice
insults to George Bush at a huge rally in Caracas on Sunday. Chavez accused
the US of backing opposition efforts to topple his leftist government. He
accused Bush of heeding advice from "imperialist" aides to support a brief
2002 coup against him."El muy pendejo se lo creyó (He was an asshole to
believe them)," Chavez roared.
The offensive word pendejo in the lexicography of
could translate to "moron", we have been told.
Chavez is learning fast. Remember our "Howard is
genetically-modified kangaroo" and the Blair toilet!
Why Mugabe retained old guard
By Chido Makunike
WE have had a lot of recent pointers to how seriously Zanu PF is
taking the MDC challenge in the general election scheduled for a year away
from now. If the ruling party was caught off guard last time by the stunning
performance of the MDC despite state intimidation and brutalisation of its
members and supporters, this time they are going all out to make sure that
doesn't happen again.
President Mugabe's retention of a
lot of his oldest guard in his
recent cabinet reshuffle makes a lot of sense seen from this perspective.
Many have decried the recycling of deadwood of not only dubious ability, but
of doubtful honesty despite a window-dressing effort against corruption. The
anti-corruption effort of the last few months suffered its first and most
severe setback with the re-appointment by Mugabe of some of his dodgiest
The mistake many of us have
made though, is to evaluate those cronies
in the context of their ability to bring about an economic turn around.
While any sign of at least a slowing of the sharp decline of the last few
years that we can largely thank comrade Mugabe for would be welcome to him
and everybody else, that is far from the most pressing issue for him and
Zanu PF. Not at all. The main issue is to "win" the election at virtually
any cost. Any positive developments in the political, economic and
diplomatic sphere that can be manipulated to this end are welcome and will
be used to maximum effect, but in their absence increased repression,
beatings, murder will do just fine as alternative tactics.
So while it is ridiculous to expect the likes of
Ignatius Chombo, Herbert Murerwa, Patrick Chinamasa and other Mugabe cronies
to do anything to solve problems they had a lot to do to bring about in the
first place, they can certainly be expected to do whatever it takes to
ensure the good times keep rolling for themselves by going all out to do
whatever it takes to ensure a Zanu PF "win" in the election. They have the
excellent, highly motivating incentives of their personal fortunes and
overall well-being to do what needs to be done.
from this perspective, Mugabe's choice of the slowest, most
dubious but most loyal characters in his inner circle to take the party into
the election makes perfect, brilliant sense. When your two or three freely
acquired farms and other benefits of patronage are on the line, you are
likely to defend the authority who made it possible for you to acquire them
with far more enthusiasm! It is such brilliantly simple psychology by the
old master manipulator that we tend to miss it by over-analysing and
over-intellectualising it. Basically, you identify those personal foibles
and control them. What could be more diabolically, beautifully simple and
This would be the wrong time to appoint young
who have illusions about the most pressing issue at hand - being some
nebulous fixation with "turning around the economy," democracy, press
freedom and human rights. Hell, who cares about all this when the regime's
very existence is threatened? This is no time to call upon the country's
best and brightest, this is the time for the perhaps decrepit but certainly
unquestioning, compromised and therefore loyal old guard!
Even the retention of the controversial,
ruthlessly bungling propagandist Jonathan Moyo makes sense. It could have
been reasoned that since he was such an eloquent, erudite, sharp and
seemingly principled opponent of Mugabe for many years before he
capitulated, he is the best person to attack and bludgeon his former
ideological soulmates in the independent press, civil society and in the
donor community that he did rather well for himself working for for many
years! It is interesting to note the contradiction between the ruling
party's rhetoric of confidence versus its actions of panic. If the "Third
Chimurenga" and its many purported positive offshoots had been the boon that
it is claimed they were for Mugabe and the ruling party, there would be no
need for the many other tactics of intimidation we are witnessing. Members
of the judiciary have hanging over their heads the sword of trumped-up
charges and allegations against them being blown up in the Herald to keep
them in line. More ex-military men have been appointed to governorships and
other blatantly political positions to unabashedly act as tools of more
effective repression, in exchange for their personal and business interests
being protected and bolstered. The devastatingly effective Daily News has
been thrown into disarray and possible oblivion by a combination of setting
up confusionists within, as well as expensive and time-buying,
time-consuming legal battles before a compliant, scared and compromised
Traditional leaders, through a
combination of outright bribery and
menacing intimidation have been roped in to have personal reasons and fears
to be agents of the ruling party in their rural areas of control. Under the
guise of fighting corruption, there is under way a virtual pogrom of centres
of wealth that are thought to be sympathetic to the opposition so that the
MDC fights the election financially hamstrung as well as weak in every other
way. There is an aggressive campaign of divide and rule against the MDC's
leaders which has begun to bear fruit.
Leading lights of the opposition who are spiritually and
weak have been compromised in their positions by the dangling of perks.
Beatings, rapes and where necessary killings, with the police either too
busy with preventing simple demonstrations to help or better still, unable
to intervene "because that is a political issue, we do not have permission
to touch it", will continue and increase.
innovative ways will be found to compromise and neutralise
independent thinkers and regime critics. For instance, I hear prominent
Zimbabwe Independent columnist Eric Bloch has been induced into being a
roving world ambassador for the regime of Mugabe that he has been bravely
taking on for many years now! He will be enjoying state-sponsored trips to
the glamorous capitals of the Western world to persuade Zimbabweans seeking
shelter there from the tyranny of Mugabe to send their hard-earned dollars
to the regime from which they are running! I do not know if he will be
accompanied by Jonathan Moyo or not.
Please Eric, get me a new fuel pump for
my car while you are in New
York and any other luxurious trinkets and toys you can afford with your
presumably generous hard currency per diem.
I have said before, and I repeat again, the stakes are
very high for
the regime of Mugabe in these, its last days, and it will leave no stone
unturned to hang on to power before it is eventually kicked out. As we are
already seeing, there will be many casualties in the struggle before final
victory is achieved and Zimbabwe can get back to a period of peace, sanity
and reconstruction in the aftermath of Mugabe.
Makunike is Harare-based regular contributor.
In memory of those who shouldn't have died
By Cathy Buckle
THE end of February marks the end of Zimbabwe's fourth year of chaos and it
is a month which will always be remembered as the time when the madness
For exactly four years I have been writing weekly
from Zimbabwe and on this
anniversary I thought it would be appropriate to take a few sentences from
my articles in each of Zimbabwe's first four February's in the 21st century
to show that it is political power and not race or land that took us from
breadbasket to begging bowl.
lShortly after the referendum in 2000 in which the people of
against constitutional changes proposed by President Mugabe's government, I
described the invasion of our Marondera farm.
war veterans had come. My son was barely out of the driveway. My hands
were shaking so badly that it seemed to take me forever to clip the padlock
closed. I ran into the house, begging my dogs to follow me. And then they
started, hondo, hondo, hondo (war) the war veterans shouted, again and
again. Then they started whistling and singing. The dogs were going mad,
barking and howling and scratching at the doors to get out. I closed all the
curtains and locked myself in my study, sat down on the floor and put my
hands over my head, sobbing and shaking."
l In February 2001,
journalists protested the bombing of the printing
presses of the Daily News, pressure mounted on Chief Justice Anthony Gubbay
to resign and foreign correspondents Mercedes Sayagues and Joseph Winter
were declared prohibited immigrants and thrown out of Zimbabwe. While this
was happening, I was witnessing the agonising death from Aids of my ex-farm
employee Emmanuel. Neither he nor I could afford anti-retroviral drugs and
Emmanuel's quality of life had collapsed since we had been forced to leave
Saying "goodbye" to Emmanuel is not something I want to
remember. As I
embraced him, I could feel every rib and hear his gasping struggle for
breath. I knew I would never see him again. "Go well Manuel," I said, as his
father and I lifted him into the car. "Stay well Mrs Cathy," he whispered in
response. That was the last time I saw Emmanuel and although he died shortly
afterwards, his memory will always be a part of me.
In February 2002, two weeks before the presidential election,
violence and intimidation had engulfed the country. At least 15 people had
been murdered in January, electoral laws had been changed, priests had been
arrested and militant youths manned road blocks country wide demanding that
people prove their allegiance to Zanu PF by showing ruling party membership
cards. One night my neighbour's house was petrol-bombed because he was an
opposition activist and I wrote: "I ran out of my back door to see a huge
fire consuming the house three doors away. A massive orange glow lit the sky
and there were continuing explosions for the next hour as windows and other
items heated and exploded. I ran inside to call the police and the fire
brigade, but they would not come."
l In February 2003
hunger was widespread, the shops were empty of staple
food and the petrol stations were dry. Queuing was a part of everyday life
as were attempted protests, riot police and tear gas. World Cup Cricket
matches began in Harare and I wrote about the death of 29-year-old Edison
Mukwasi who was an opposition supporter and had been beaten and tortured
whilst in police custody, first in 2001 and again in February 2003.
"Edison and others were arrested by police for protesting at a cricket match
in Harare and allegedly tortured whilst in police custody. He was released
without charge and died shortly afterwards. Edison is survived by his wife
Gladys and their two-week old daughter Nyasha."
l That takes me to February this year.
Life expectancy in Zimbabwe is now 37
years. Well over half of the population need food aid, inflation is over
620%, the daily free press has gone and every month judges in our courts
resign from the bench.
Mugabe has just turned 80 and when asked how close talks were with
the opposition he said: "The devil is the devil, we have no idea of supping
with the devil."
Looking back on it all, I can hardly believe Zimbabwe has
survived, but we
have, secure in the knowledge that nothing is forever. Those of us that can,
have stayed, waiting for the time when we can pick up the pieces of our
shattered country, heal the wounds, and start again. I write this letter in
memory of Emmanuel and the hundreds of others who should not have died.
-Cathy Buckle is an author and human rights activist based