Chiefs' benefits to gobble $27,5b Shakeman
Mugari PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe plans to spend an unbudgeted $27,5 billion
on chiefs' vehicles and other perks, in a move calculated to win their
support ahead of parliamentary elections, currently scheduled for
The Zimbabwe Independent heard this week that Mugabe had already
started dishing out vehicle loans as part of efforts to secure the support of
the country's 268 traditional leaders throughout the country.
understood that 177 substantive chiefs will be entitled to new vehicles and
other incentives offered by the Zanu PF government. The government has since
identified the Willowvale Mazda Motor Industries-assembled Mazda B1800
pick-up as the standard vehicle for chiefs. The 177 Mazda B1800 pick-up
trucks would cost $13,6 billion.
The scheme, launched by Mugabe at the
chiefs' assembly in Masvingo last week, is seen by analysts as a bid by the
ageing nationalist to induce chiefs to spearhead the ruling party's campaign
for the March 2005 election.
In the Gutu North constituency by-election
earlier this year, chiefs and other traditional leaders played a pivotal role
in Zanu PF's victory, threatening to expel opposition MDC supporters from
their areas if the ruling party lost. Some chiefs were physically restrained
by police from recording names of people who had come to vote. They ordered
voters to form queues according to their villages at polling
The government has already purchased 28 Mazda B1800 vehicles to
be handed over to the chiefs on the basis of seniority. The 28 vehicles were
acquired from Willowvale for $2 billion at last week's price of $72 519
With effect from this week a new Mazda B1800 vehicle now costs $77
151 200 million at the factory price, said an inside source
Government will also fork out an extra $1,36 billion in
insurance fees for the vehicles. Zimbabwe has 268 chiefs, 91 of whom are
still in acting capacities and therefore do not qualify for the vehicle
scheme. Once the 91 acting chiefs become substantive, government will need a
further $7 billion for vehicle purchases and an extra $700 million in
insurance for their cars.
Local Government deputy minister, Chief Fortune
Charumbira, who is also the secretary-general of the Council of Chiefs, said
the scheme was similar to the one available to parliamentarians.
not like the government will be buying chiefs cars. They are just loans for
them to purchase vehicles," said Charumbira.
He said the vehicles would
be supplied in batches.
"We have 177 substantive chiefs who qualify for a
vehicle under the scheme. We will get the cars from Willowvale Motors," said
The substantive chiefs will this year also gobble $3,2
billion in allowances from government. Currently a chief earns $1,5 million
Government has already started electrifying chiefs' homesteads
under the rural electrification programme. Figures sourced from Zesa's
Rural Electrification Agency reveal that it costs $32 million to construct a
1 km power line and install a 50KVA transformer.
Chiefs have been
accused by analysts of being used as foot soldiers in Zanu PF's campaign
machinery. They have been instrumental in the distribution of food along
party lines as part of Mugabe's plans to starve opposition supporters into
Analysts have questioned Mugabe's generosity, especially given that
the country is only 10 months away from a parliamentary election.
city councillors have dragged governor Witness Mangwende to court
for cancelling a full council meeting which should have taken place
Mangwende called off the meeting without giving reasons for
doing so, forcing councillors to take the legal route to win back their right
to hold meetings.
Councillors who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent
said the purpose of yesterday's meeting was to elect a deputy mayor and
chairpersons for committees.
"Zanu PF is playing games to protect
acting mayor Sekesai Makwavarara and ensure that its tight grip on council
affairs is not weakened," councillor Last Maengahama said.
meeting would have ushered in a new leadership in council that would take a
radical stance to government's continued interference."
of the meeting was communicated to the councillors through a circular signed
by acting mayor Tapfumaneyi Jaja yesterday. Newsnet radio bulletin on
Wednesday quoted Mangwende as issuing a notice cancelling
Cited as respondents in the application are Mangwende,
Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo and Jaja. Makwavarara was said to
be out of the country.
Temperatures boil over in volatile Lupane Loughty
Dube TEMPERATURES are running high in Lupane as Zanu PF and the opposition
MDC square up in a crucial by-election starting tomorrow.
Up to 64 MDC
youths were on Tuesday arrested on allegations of assaulting Zanu PF members
during the week. They were later released without a charge.
Election Support Network (Zesn) in a statement yesterday said the situation
was volatile in the constituency.
"The political temperature has since
risen," Zesn said, "with the unleashing of war veterans and youths by Zanu PF
and the MDC's retaliation through its youths as well."
political environment, especially when assessed from the electorate's point
of view, is that of fear, while others are keen to get over and done with
this election so that their lives can hopefully return to normal."
election is a key test for both parties on their level of support ahead of
the general election next year.
The MDC is seeking to maintain its
stranglehold on Matabeleland North where it collected all the contested seats
in 2000 while Zanu PF is seeking a breakthrough in a province where it is
regarded with suspicion if not outright resentment.
campaign period was shattered this week when Zanu PF supporters and war
veterans attacked a team of MDC activists who were putting up posters for a
The MDC candidate, Njabuliso Mguni, said he was optimistic of
victory in this weekend's election that pits him against Zanu PF's Martin
"Despite acts of intimidation by war veterans our campaign is on
course and I am confident that I will win," Mguni said this week.
however said he was disturbed that the MDC was not getting protection from
the police when war veterans disrupted several of the party's
The Zanu PF deputy national commissar, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, also
said his party was confident of snatching the Lupane seat from the
"Preparations for this weekend's election have been thorough and we
are confident of winning the Lupane seat," said Ndlovu.
"We have done
our homework, the party lost in 2000 because we were not listening to the
people but things have changed now," Ndlovu said.
He said the government,
through Zanu PF, had been developing Lupane so that it meets its status as
the provincial capital.
This week both parties held several rallies to
drum up last-minute support ahead of tomorrow's elections.
Zanu PF leaders, including Elliot Manyika, Andrew Langa and Ignatius Chombo,
addressed rallies in the constituency while MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
addressed the party's star rally at Somhlolo stadium
Zesn said Zanu PF youths and war veterans staying at
bases in the constituency were harassing and intimidating the opposition as
well as force-marching the electorate to the ruling party's
The report includes a list of incidents of violence, most of
which were perpetrated by Zanu PF supporters.
"At Mkhombo primary
school there was a base for Zanu PF youths who, when they spotted the Zesn
vehicle, stopped it and were interested in knowing Zesn's business in
Kondozi in liquidation Augustine Mukaro KONDOZI
Fresh Produce has been formally liquidated and is relocating to Mozambique
and Zambia, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this week.
In an exclusive
interview this week, Kondozi majority shareholder, Edwin Masimba Moyo, said
he had signed liquidation papers and the horticultural venture was now
"We will not waste anymore time on Kondozi in Odzi, Manicaland,"
Moyo said. "I have been rendered a second class citizen in my country of
origin so let the owners of the land take over while we take our business
Moyo said Kondozi had secured vast stretches of land in both
Mozambique and Zambia on which they had deployed management teams from the
invaded Kondozi Farm.
"The Mozambique government has availed to us 800
hectares in the Manica Province where we will be starting operations
"In Zambia, we have bought 2 000 hectares in the Gwembe Valley
area. The project is equipped with state-of-the-art irrigation equipment,
including 20 centre pivots," he said.
Moyo said the donor community
opposed to the violent seizure of Kondozi had availed US$30 million to
kick-start similar projects in Zambia and Mozambique.
international organisations, including the Industrial
Development Corporation-South Africa, Psom of the Netherlands, Tescos of the
United Kingdom and Barclays Bank International, have agreed to put in
substantial amounts as our projects make forays into the Sadc region," Moyo
Moyo said his company had stopped construction of a packhouse that
had been earmarked for Mutare. The packhouse should have housed horticulture
and fresh produce handling facilities in preparation for shipment to
"The packhouse will soon be built in Manica,
Mozambique, and it will be used as the hub of all our export activities," he
The move into Gwembe Valley was a blessing because the temperatures
allow for all-year production, he said.
"Gwembe Valley temperatures
are very high, allowing production for the whole year, giving us an advantage
over what we used to produce at Kondozi," Moyo said.
invaded during the Easter holiday, violently throwing out over 4 500 workers
from the farm village. The workers were left in the open by the roadside and
Voter registration suspicious Itai Dzamara THE
voter registration process being carried out by the Registrar-General (RG)'s
office has been described as unclear, raising fears that a shambolic voters'
roll could be used in the forthcoming parliamentary
Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede could not be reached for
comment this week as he was said to be sick. Deputy registrar-general Emily
Hera said a voter registration exercise started at the beginning of this
month across the country would be completed in two months.
reports that the RG's office has been instructed to prepare the voters' roll
for the election, which President Robert Mugabe could consider bringing
forward to this year. Mugabe has announced that the election will be held in
March next year.
"Voter registration started on May 1 countrywide and
should be completed at the end of next month," said Hera. "However, I don't
know a lot about the issue of elections, the RG would be the right person to
The Zimbabwe Independent this week visited Mashonaland Central
provincial capital, Bindura, and confirmed that officials from the RG's
office were moving around townships, villages, and farms registering people
to vote. It was established that Zanu PF officials were following the RG's
teams to sell party cards to those registered.
While registration is
in full swing in rural areas, there is very little activity in urban areas
where the electorate appears unaware of the exercise.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has alleged that the RG's voter
registration exercise is confined to known Zanu PF strongholds and is leaving
out most urban constituencies. The MDC enjoys support in urban
Officials from the RG's office going around the country
issuing birth certificates and IDs have allegedly cited lack of stationery
for failure to register voters in urban areas.
"The voter registration
has not been clear and we have raised this matter in parliament," said MDC MP
for Gweru, Renson Gasela, in a statement this week.
"For example, we have
received reports and carried out a survey in the Midlands to discover that
voter registration is not being done in urban constituencies. Officials from
the RG's office have said they don't have stationery for voter
"The same reports have also come from Matabeleland. But it
has been discovered that in Mashonaland provinces the RG's officials are
moving from door to door and village to village registering
Hera said she had not received reports concerning shortage of
stationery from any province.
Cops attack kid at MDC rally Munyaradzi
Wasosa POLICE on Saturday allegedly assaulted an 11-year-old Kambuzuma boy as
they tried to prevent people from attending an opposition MDC rally in
the suburb, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
In an interview on
Wednesday, Tsitsi Nikitai, the boy's mother, said a ZRP Defender truck
blocked their way as they were about to enter Rugare Stadium, the venue of
"About a dozen baton stick-wielding police officers jumped out
of the truck and started beating up people who were pouring into the
stadium," she said.
Nikitai and her son Richard Tiriboyi, who were going
to the rally, were also attacked.
Tiriboyi, who spoke to the
Independent in the presence of his mother, said he was wearing an NCA T-shirt
that apparently caught one policeman's attention, who began chasing
"I ran in a different direction from my mother but failed to jump
over a ditch," Tiriboyi said. "The policeman caught up with me and beat me up
with his baton stick before shoving me into the ditch where I fell
The boy sustained a deep cut on his chin after he hit a rock,
and bled profusely, before being rescued by a fleeing man who rushed him to
An angry mob led by Kuwadzana MP Nelson Chamisa
barred the police from leaving the scene of the incident.
the police blamed her for the boy's injury.
"We demanded an explanation
from the police who said we should not have been there in the first place,"
MDC president Morgan Tsvangirai addressed the rally, which
was attended by over 5 000 people.
"What kind of police force is this
which brutalises innocent children who want to attend an MDC rally?" said
Tsvangirai, holding the blood-stained kid.
Zimbabwe is a signatory to
the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. The convention
requires member states to protect children from abuse of any kind.
an interview Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure said the attack was a harbinger
of worse things to come.
"This brutal act indicates where we are going as
a nation," he said. "We have had a number of rallies in my constituency and
we never had problems with the police before."
Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena denied that the policeman beat the
"We are just as human as anyone else," Bvudzijena said. "So no
police officer would want to injure a child."
admitted that the police used force to disperse people who had gone to attend
"If they (police) observed something sinister, then there was
need for them to react and deal with that situation," he said. "When there is
need to disperse a crowd, we use what we call minimum force."
Zim strikes detainees-for-fuel deal Gift
Phiri/Dumisani Muleya IN an unusual diplomatic arrangement, Zimbabwe has
entered a US$1,2 billion deal to extradite the 70 suspected mercenaries
currently held in Harare to Equatorial Guinea in exchange for
Intelligence sources say President Robert Mugabe discussed the deal
with his Equatorial Guinea counterpart, Teodora Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, at
their initial meeting in Pretoria with South African president Thabo Mbeki
on April 27.
Mugabe and Obiang were in South Africa to attend Mbeki's
inauguration. The three leaders are said to have met over the mercenaries'
saga after Zimbabwe had earlier refused to send the suspects for trial in the
oil-rich Equatorial Guinea.
Sources said the meeting agreed in
principle that Zimbabwe would extradite the suspected mercenaries on agreed
terms and conditions. Mugabe and Obiang finalised the mercenaries-for-fuel
arrangement at a meeting in Bulawayo the following day.
leaders met at State House in the second city on April 28. After the meeting
Obiang told journalists that they had been discussing the issue of the
High-level sources said Mugabe agreed to extradite
the suspected soldiers of fortune on condition Equatorial Guinea - the third
largest oil producer after Nigeria and Angola in sub-Saharan Africa -would
supply Zimbabwe with fuel.
The sources said the deal entailed a supply
of US$50 million worth of fuel monthly for two years, split between 65
million litres of diesel and 40 million litres of petrol.
Energy and Power Development minister July Moyo said he was not aware of the
deal. "I have no idea at all," he said.
The deal is said to be worth more
than the one signed between Zimbabwe and Libya valued at US$360 million a
year, which has since collapsed.
Zimbabwe needs about US$40 million a
month to ensure adequate fuel supplies. If the deal goes through Zimbabwe
would be able to secure additional fuel worth US$10 million every month to
rebuild strategic reserves.
Sources said the new deal would start rolling
as soon as the mercenaries were extradited. Fifteen other suspects in the
same plot are currently held in Equatorial Guinea.
The men were
arrested on March 7 in Harare after they landed at the airport allegedly to
collect weapons bought from the Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI).
suspects were charged for allegedly violating the Public Order and Security
Act, immigration, aviation, and firearms laws. They, however, deny all the
If implemented, the deal would provide a temporary relief to
Zimbabwe which has been battling with an erratic fuel crisis since
Zimbabwe has tried in vain to secure sustainable fuel supplies from
Libya, Kuwait, Sudan, Angola, Nigeria, United Arab Emirates, Iran, and
other countries due to the country's poor credit rating.
sources said there were still obstacles to the deal as a result of court
developments regarding the suspects. Legal sources said it would be difficult
to transfer the men because the extradition treaty between Equatorial Guinea
and Zimbabwe was only formalised on April 23 - about 47 days after their
"Basically you cannot apply legislation in retrospect," said
Advocate Bryant Elliot of Gill, Godlonton and Gerrans legal firm.
sources also said the suspects had not committed any offence in Equatorial
They said Zimbabwe now wanted to extradite the alleged
mercenaries to avoid possible embarrassment because their lawyers had
indicated that the prisoners would expose their previous arms deals with ZDI,
accused of gun-running and selling arms to shady groups.
Smuggling syndicates rule at Nyamapanda
THE government could be losing millions of dollars
daily as goods continue to illegally enter or leave Zimbabwe through the
Nyamapanda border post under the nose of Customs officials who sometimes
appear to be part of the smuggling syndicates, the Zimbabwe Independent can
Smuggling of food stuffs such as sugar, margarine,
powdered milk and mealie-meal out of the country is rampant at the border
post for destinations in Mozambique, Malawi and Tanzania.
Customs officials are allegedly also bribed by those wishing to bring goods
into the country without paying duty. The goods brought into Zimbabwe are
mainly electric gadgets and clothing from Asian countries.
Independent visited Nyamapanda border post last week, long queues of
vehicular traffic could be observed the whole day on both sides of the entry
point. Most prominent were haulage trucks, which are allegedly used to
smuggle goods in and out of the country.
A truck driver, unaware
that he was talking to a journalist, said: "Oh yes, it is common knowledge
that a gonyeti (haulage truck) driver makes millions on every trip by
ferrying goods into or out of the country without declaring (filling in
Customs declaration forms). There are established networks that involve
Talking to Customs officials proved more
difficult as most of them are suspicious of strangers and only interact with
"well-known" connections. The Independent established that Customs officials
now scramble to be stationed at Nyamapanda border post.
good day a Customs official can make up to $1 million in addition to gadgets
such as VCRs, DVDs and cellphones," said a trader during a
A man from Harare, who had spent two days at the
border post waiting for a truck in which his tonne of sugar was stashed to be
cleared, was confident he would make it to the Mozambican capital, Maputo
where his clients were waiting.
"I have been assured (by Customs
officials) that today we will cross (the border) and I will be back tomorrow.
My clients are waiting for me in Maputo ready with the US dollars," he
The man expected to quickly come back to Harare where he said
he would pick up a consignment of rice, which he intended to smuggle into
Stop game privatisation, govt urged Munyaradzi
Wasosa THE International Council for Game and Wildlife Conservation (CIC)
has condemned Zimbabwe's deteriorating wildlife record and adopted a
resolution calling on the government to stop nationalising private game
ranches and conservancies, the Zimbabwe Independent has
At its 51st General Assembly held from April 28 to May 1 in
Bucharest, Romania, the CIC criticised the government for condoning the
invasion of wildlife areas since 2000.
"We urge the Zimbabwean
government to refrain from nationalising privately-owned conservation land,"
said the CIC.
It said government policy was destroying flora and fauna.
"The extensive and indiscriminate slaughtering of wildlife, including
endangered species such as black rhino, is a cause for concern," the CIC
"War veterans have invaded privately-owned game ranches and
There have been reports that the Zimbabwe National Army
is also involved in the indiscriminate slaughter of wild animals in protected
Since December last year, poachers in the Sinamatella Intensive
Protection Zone have killed four black rhinos, bringing the death toll of
the endangered species to 30. The black rhino is protected under the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
the conservation group, government's sustained assault on wildlife areas is
costing the country millions in potential foreign
"The privately-owned game ranches and conservancies
form a substantial part of wildlife conservation and sustainable use areas in
the country," said the CIC.
"It brings in substantial foreign currency
to support local communities through legal hunting."
organisa- tion's mandate is to raise international awareness of environmental
matters by lobbying with other like-minded groups for the protection of
Since 2000, poaching has virtually destroyed the Communal Areas
Management Programmes for Indigenous Resources in areas like Binga.
February government released its Wildlife-Based Land Reform Policy that seeks
to nationalise all private game areas and conservancies. Out of a total of 88
conservancies countrywide in 2000, only about 12 are left.
l Last week we
reported that Zanu PF Matabeleland North chairman Jacob Mudenda was allocated
a hunting concession in Matetsi Unit 6 by Environment and Tourism minister,
Francis Nhema, without going to tender.
It has since come to our
attention that the concession in question was not allocated to Mudenda. The
Independent regrets the error
Army to build recruitment school Gift Phiri THE
government is setting up an army boarding high school in the Ngezi area from
which the Zimbabwe Defence Forces will draw recruits, the
Zimbabwe Independent heard this week.
Top army sources said plans to
construct the first army boarding school at Ngezi near Kadoma were at an
advanced stage, with photographic surveys having already been submitted to
the Surveyor General for scrutiny.
The school, which will enroll both
boys and girls, will serve as a recruitment pool for the Zimbabwe National
Army (ZNA). Graduands from the school will join the ZNA either as general
duty soldiers or officer cadets.
The acting director of Zimbabwe Army
Education Corps, Major Colsen Gwezhira, confirmed that plans were under way
to construct the school but referred further questions to Zimbabwe National
Army Schools and Welfare Trust chairman, Dr Sikhanyiso Ndlovu.
however not possible to obtain comment from Ndlovu.
understands that the Zimbabwe Corps of Engineers is producing the
architectural designs and the internal construction regiment will undertake
construction of the school. The institution will be built on a 500-hectare
piece of land that has been donated by the Kadoma municipality.
education that will be offered at the school will focus on
inculcating discipline, patriotism, national pride and a comprehension of the
country's history," said the source.
The Independent was told that
Mugabe is the patron of the school, Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi is the
first trustee, retired Army General Vitalis Zvinavashe is the second trustee,
and Army General Constantine Chiwenga is the president of the
The boarding school will only enroll students who have attended
one of the 12 primary schools that are currently being run by the ZNA through
the directorate of Army Education.
The Independent understands that a
fundraising committee headed by businessman Enock Kamushinda has been
appealing for donations from the corporate world, friendly states and
embassies to fund construction of the school.
The appeal is however
understood to have met with serious donor fatigue. A number of companies,
including banks and parastatals, have donated towards the fund. The
Independent was told that there were contingency measures to finance
construction of the school from the fiscus.
51% of Zim prisoners HIV-positive Gift Phiri AT
least 51% of inmates currently held in the country's 41 prisons are infected
with HIV/Aids, with limited strategies to fight its spread, a study released
last week revealed.
The sobering statistics come at a time when the
country is battling to combat the epidemic on a number of fronts amid
accusations of a slow government response to the crisis.
compiled by the independent Institute of Correctional and Security Studies,
paints a grim picture and points to an Aids disaster unfolding in the
country's prisons where more than 25 000 people are currently
"It is a sad reality," said researcher Tadesse Hussein Ali. "An
estimated 51,4% of inmates held in Zimbabwean prisons as of April 2004 were
infected with Aids," he said in the Zimbabwe Report contained in his study
into the State of Prisons in the Sadc region.
He said hundreds of
prisoners were released back into society every month - bringing infections
"The major hurdle facing Zimbabwe today is the limited access
to public health services. Unfortunately, this is the community that these
ex-convicts return to."
The report states that Zimbabwe Prison
Services (ZPS) has never carried out research on HIV prevalence in its jails,
an assertion vehemently denied by prison officials.
Last year the
Ministry of Health reported that 1,82 million of the country's 12,5 million
people were living with the disease.
Hassen Ali accuses ZPS of
downplaying the extent of HIV in the prisons. He states that since 1999,
reported cases of HIV/Aids in the country's jails has shot up by more than
500%, albeit from a low baseline.
The report also states that natural
deaths in prisons have surged by more than 400% over the same period and now
stands at more than eight per 1 000 prisoners. Most of the deaths are
attributed to Aids-related illnesses, mainly tuberculosis.
said the spread of the disease was being hastened by overcrowding, with
reports that facilities designed to handle 16 000 inmates are now housing
more than 25 000 prisoners, in some cases with as many as 50 inmates crammed
into a cell.
ZPS assistant spokesperson, Simon Kaondo, said the
correctional department had launched a number of programmes to combat the
"We are running peer education programmes, disseminating
information to prisoners about Aids. We have even started the provision of
anti-retroviral drugs in prisons," said Kaondo.
Hassen Ali urged
prison officials to distribute condoms in jails to curb the spread of the
disease. He argued that homosexuality was rampant in jails and also suggested
that prisoners should be allowed conjugal visits.
President Robert Mugabe
is on record expressing his strong revulsion against homosexuals whom he has
described as worse that dogs and pigs.
A journey into the heart of British politics Dumisani
Muleya WHEN I left for the United Kingdom about three weeks ago to receive
the prestigious Speaker Abbot Award for my professional work I did not know
what to expect at my destination - except getting the prize.
It was a
non-believer's journey for me and I approached the whole trip with an open
I left Harare on April 25 aboard a direct British Airways flight to
London. After a wonderful flight on the Club World cabin I had a false start
at the airport.
An overzealous immigration officer and a security
guard who sounded Nigerian by his English accent tried to grill me over my
visit but I simply resisted their antics. While travellers who were dead
scared of deportation seemed to entertain their unnecessary harassment I had
no time for gratuitous botheration.
After about 30 minutes of haggling
and defiance I sailed through.
At the arrival lounge I found David Banks
who was there to collect me from Heathrow Airport. He was growing somewhat
impatient at my delay.
I narrated the silly incident in a casual and
restrained tone, circumspect not to blow out of proportion what had
Banks, who had done a lot of logistical work to facilitate my
travel, took the issue as one of those fatuous occurrences.
me off at the Holiday Inn Express and we were to link up the following day
for the official start of my trip.
On Monday April 26I commenced my visit
with a courtesy call at the New Palace of Westminster - the Houses of
Parliament - situated on the banks of Thames River, a site which marks the
origins of parliament.
That marked the start of a trip down memory lane
of British history - which we study in Zimbabwe.
In the company of
Banks, I met Brian Shallcross, parliamentary press gallery chair, for a tour
of the massive parliament building that symbolises British history and
democracy. For more than 700 years Westminster has been the cradle of
democracy in Britain.
We met at the Central Lobby, the hub of the
building, where people meet to lobby their MPs.
good-natured character with a strong sense of humour, took us around the
building. Our first stop within the complex was Westminster Hall, described
by Winston Churchill as the hub of British politics.
Whilst there we
explored British history from the Stuart kings to contemporary
Shallcross told us how important Westminster Hall was to Britain.
He said only distinguished foreign statesmen were allowed to speak there. The
last person to do so was former South African president Nelson Mandela a
few years ago.
Some leaders like former US president Ronald Reagan,
current President George Bush, and French President Jacques Chirac had
visited Britain but not given the honour of speaking in that hall.
toured the House of Commons where political debate and discourse, as well as
power are centred. I had the opportunity to attend the Prime
Minister's Questions session where I saw Tony Blair squaring up with
opposition Conservative Party leader Michael Howard over Iraq and immigration
It was a stormy debate in which Blair was cornered regarding
events in Iraq and immigration developments following the accession of 10 new
countries to the European Union. Blair was nailed over those issues but still
managed to wriggle off the hook.
We also got into the House of Lords
where debates, legislation and judicial issues are considered. I attended a
session there and sat on the diplomatic gallery. It was exciting but
The lesson for me from these events was to see how
leaders there are held accountable for their actions. Blair might have defied
popular opinion by taking his country to a disastrous war in Iraq but he is
held to account.
He has to continuously defend his actions, otherwise
people would boot him out of power. He knows he has no divine right to
After a hectic schedule my day finally came on Tuesday April 27 -
the same day that South Africa celebrated its 10 years of democracy and
President Thabo Mbeki was sworn in for a second and final term.
liked the coincidence in the same manner as I have always cherished sharing
my birthday with Mbeki - June 18.
The reception at the majestic Speaker's
palace where I received the award - a sparkling diamond trophy together with
a monetary prize - was colourful and fabulous.
Speaker Michael Martin
captured the mood by drawing parallels between autocratic apartheid South
Africa and authoritarian Zimbabwe. His speech was brief and poignant, which
obliged me to do the same.
During the visit I also met government
officials such as the secretary for Wales and Leader of the House Peter Hain,
parliamentary under-secretary Chris Mullin and Tony Brennan, who heads the
Zimbabwe Section, Africa Department, in the Foreign Commonwealth Office, a
number of MPs like former minister Kate Hoey and a group Lords.
parliamentary International Development Select Committee chair Tony Baldry
and even got a rare opportunity to address his committee.
veteran journalists such Bill Hagerty, editor of British Journalism Review,
Mike Steele who works for Welsh community news service and Greg Hurst of The
Time. During the trip I met many hospitable people of substance, including
Zimbabweans who ran away from the current repression and economic
I had the chance not just to highlight the tyranny and political
dynamics in Zimbabwe, but also to voice my criticism of London's policies
towards Harare to the relevant authorities.
In the end the visit was
an educational pilgrimage and a tourism voyage!
IN Ghana there is a proverb that says: "When a leopard wants to
devour its young ones, it first accuses them of smelling like
Over the past four years the Zimbabwean government has
descended on almost all business sectors threatening to take over the
ventures under the pretext of indigenisation or black economic
First to be affected were mainly white-owned commercial
farms in the year 2000. Private properties were violently invaded, throwing
into disarray the well-organised commercial farming system. The invasions
resulted in widespread food shortages and loss of employment in the
Next to "smell like a goat" were the
manufacturing industries where unscrupulous indigenous individuals claimed to
be solving labour disputes. White-owned ventures were targeted. In the
recent turbulence in the education sector the government has threatened to
nationalise all private "racist" schools.
Last week 46 prestigious
schools were barred from reopening for the second term for allegedly charging
exorbitant fees. The schools were forced to review their fees to December
2003 levels despite the spiralling cost of living and soaring
inflation. In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent last week, Education
minister Aeneas Chigwedere said the government intended to nationalise all
private schools to stop them from operating like private business
"These private schools are not playing a clean game,"
Chigwedere said. "Nationalisation of these private white racist schools is an
option we are not ruling out." Chigwedere said the private schools were
racist because they had their roots in the colonial past. He said the schools
would do anything to alienate black pupils by charging unaffordable
"The major element is that white schools like Watershed and
Lomagundi are racist. They are conspiring to throw out black pupils by
charging fees well beyond the reach of many black parents," said
Among the allegedly racist white schools were two owned
by retired army general Vitalis Zvinavashe, Tynwald primary and high
Investigations by the Independent have revealed that ruling
party chefs, including ministers, send their children to upmarket schools
such as Hartmann House - a preparatory school for St George's College -
Arundel, Heritage and Peterhouse. Analysts have questioned the
government's intention to nationalise the schools saying the state does not
have the capacity to run them given that it is failing to run its own
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) shadow education
minister Fidelis Mhashu said it was too ambitious for the government to think
of nationalising private schools anytime soon.
"The government is
failing to provide adequate facilities to pupils at its schools currently,"
Mhashu said. "How can it nationalise private schools when it is failing to
maintain its own?" Mhashu added: "The arbitrary closure of private schools by
Chigwedere in cahoots with the police is illegal.
"There is no
provision in the current Education Act that says the minister (of education)
can close schools over increase of fees." The MDC legislator said the
government should consider the educational contribution being made by private
"By nationalising these schools the government will be
failing to appreciate the contribution they have made over the years in
producing leading bankers, politicians and a number of highly ranked
personalities both in government and the private sector," he
Zimbabwe's schools are generally classified into grades. Grades
A and B are government schools, church schools are grade C, while private
(independent) schools fall under grade D.
The Zimbabwe Schools
Examinations Council (Zimsec) provided a list of top 50 advanced level school
rankings for last year's November examinations in which government schools
were said to have performed better than private ones. No government school
however made it into the top 10 category, which was dominated by private
church-run schools such as St John's Secondary School and St Ignatius
In March, Chigwedere said there was no reason for private
schools to increase their fees given that they had a "poor record" in terms
of examination results. "We have schools that are charging the highest and
are producing the worst academic results," he said, referring to private
What Chigwedere conveniently ignored was that the majority
of pupils at most private schools prefer to take Cambridge examinations
instead of local Zimsec examinations whose marketability is suspect. At St
George's College, two-thirds of the pupils wrote "A" level
Cambridge examinations and had good grades. Only a third of pupils from
private schools wrote Zimsec examinations.
Mhashu said Chigwedere
was skirting facts by saying private schools have poor academic
results. "This is a classic example of confusion on the part of the
minister," Mhashu said. "He is running away from the fact that most students
shun local examinations because of the corruption at Zimsec."
snap survey, the Independent found that most parents whose children attend
private schools prefer to have them write Cambridge examinations. It costs up
to $900 000 a term for a pupil to enrol at a government boarding institution
such as Goromonzi High School, while a private school like Peterhouse in
Marondera charges at least $3,3 million.
While fees are seemingly low
at government schools, the facilities are far from ideal. Parents fork out
hundreds of thousands of dollars for food and other essentials that the
schools fail to provide. Pupils attending government schools now have to
source their own stationery, including textbooks. They must also bring their
own food to supplement the meagre rations provided by the schools. By
contrast, private schools provide everything from uniforms to textbooks. The
reluctance by the government to increase its per-capita grants to schools is
one cause for concern.
In January the dubiety of Zimbabwe's
examinations system was exposed at Mnene Primary School in Mberengwa. It was
revealed that the school headmaster and three teachers wrote and filled in
answer sheets for dozens of grade seven pupils. The then Education
permanent secretary Thomson Tsodzo declared that results of more than 50
pupils at the school would stand as genuine. The government has ordered all
private schools that had increased their fees to revert to December 2003 fees
or they would not be allowed top re-open. "If these private schools continue
dilly-dallying and shilly-shallying," Chigwedere warned, "they will remain
Peterhouse, which had increased fees to $9,9 million, has
since slashed them to $3,3 million.
something impressive but vulgar about the architects of a strategy by which
millions of Zimbabweans will be convinced to vote for a political party that
has proved beyond all doubt that it lacks the capacity to change the fortunes
of the country.
Zanu PF has started to roll out its political
campaign strategy for the 2005 general election. It has not tried to disguise
its desire for seats in Matabeleland where the MDC reigned supreme in 2000.
It also plans to overturn the opposition's leverage in urban areas to fulfill
its quest for a two-thirds majority in parliament.
What does the
party have to offer the electorate next year? The land, its trump card in the
last two elections, won't be a major draw card in the 2005 poll, especially
to the urban voter.
Realising this, Mugabe's regime has dished out
largesse designed to oil the electioneering. That Zanu PF rigs elections is a
fact because there are six High Court rulings to confirm that. Allegations of
ballot box stuffing have been raised without evidence, but what has become
apparent over the years is the party's ability to rig the electoral process
at all levels; from voter registration, delimitation of constituencies, to
the appointment of electoral personnel and the campaign mode
The apparatus to carry out this survival operation is on the
roll. It got a test run in the Chitungwiza by-election where the party paid
supporters for attending rallies. A clinic was set up in the constituency to
treat patients free of charge. It was quietly closed down after the
There was violence which claimed the life of an MDC supporter
and there were allegations that bus loads of people were brought into the
constituency to boost the numbers. All this is allegedly being replicated in
Elsewhere in this paper we carry reports about goodies that
President Mugabe will soon be serving to chiefs. We also report on the
politics of food distribution and the not-so-transparent voter registration
process that is in full swing in Zanu PF's rural strongholds but is absent in
towns. These factors give Zanu PF a head-start in its quest to garner the
rural vote. We have yet to see the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change's strategy to counter this.
Last week state media ran
pictures of traditional chiefs lining up to shake Mugabe's hand. Like
kindergarten kids waiting to receive candy from Santa, the chiefs accepted
with glee news that they were now entitled to cars and that their homes would
be electrified. They recently received a huge monthly package of $1,5 million
in addition to other benefits accruing to them as traditional
They have already started to return Mugabe's munificence.
They last week passed a resolution at their conference in Masvingo that no
one should challenge Mugabe's candidacy for the party's top post at the
Congress in December. It is an understatement to say they have been bought
over. They have become pliable instruments of Zanu PF to act as political
commissars for the party.
There have been reports of chiefs
compiling registers of subjects as they come to cast their ballots. They have
no official mandate to perform this exercise but one can only guess that it
is meant to tell the unsophisticated voter that "you are being watched
The rural strategy should also take on board food
distribution. It was reported this week that the government kicked out a Food
and Agriculture Organisation team that was doing a crop assessment in the
country. The government has also told aid agencies to wind up operations on
the pretext that the country will receive a bumper harvest this
There are areas with grain deficits but these will be catered
for through internal distribution structures, we were told. What guarantees
do we have that the system will not be politicised to starve non-conforming
communities and to bribe the stomachs of those in Matabeleland where there
are perennial grain deficits?
There are more goodies on the cards.
We recall in 2002 that school teachers were headed to the City Sports Centre
where government announced the launch of a housing project for them. The
government last year promised urban voters houses through a new home
Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo said
government was reviving the pay-for-your-house scheme with those interested
now required to pay half the cost of constructing houses and flats. He said
the scheme under the National Housing Delivery Programme aimed to acquire at
least 310 406 hectares of peri-urban land to construct 250 000 housing units
We have not seen much any evidence of property development
as yet. In fact there was no budgetary allocation for that. But urban voters
will once again be reminded that the project is at an advanced
To complete the process, Zanu PF has total control over state
resources to execute its campaign strategies. It has put in place laws that
have been abused by the police to ensure the opposition cannot organise and
address rallies without clearance. There is also a partisan media that
has shamelessly demonstrated its bias towards the establishment.
ALL indications show that government is rapidly gearing-up for
the next parliamentary elections presently scheduled for March 2005 although
it lies in the discretion of the president to determine when the elections
take place, provided that is so within five years of the last
The elections could very well be at an earlier date. Almost
all of government's traditional actions to influence the outcome of the
elections are being intensified.
They include endless vituperative
abuse against perceived enemies abroad, with especial reference to the
European Union in general, and Britain in particular.
celebrating Zimbabwe's Independence and again when addressing a gathering of
the Council of Chiefs in Masvingo, the president vented his spleen against
Tony Blair and his government. He did likewise when addressing Zimbabweans in
South Africa. And he is vigorously supported by the state-controlled media
who unhesitatingly comply with the directives of their masters, writing and
broadcasting inconceivably far-fetched attacks which defy the imagination of
even the most gullible.
One recent such propaganda "poppycock" was
the allegation that Blair is launching a concerted campaign to discredit the
government by promoting a series of high-power visits to Zimbabwe by leading
African heads of state, including Presidents Thabo Mbeki of South Africa,
Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, Joaquim Chissano of Mozambique and Festus Mogae
Allegedly, these visits will be designed to motivate the
government to subject itself to the will of the United Kingdom. Does the
Minister of Fiction, Fable and Myth really think that Zimbabwe's newspaper
readers and radio and television audiences are so naïve as to believe that
all these heads of state are at the beck and call of Blair? I think not! More
likely is that the minister feels that he must, albeit unsuccessfully
and ludicrously, explain away the endeavours of these heads of state to
have sanity restored to the Zimbabwean situation.
election-driven actions include the drive against corruption. That
is commendable in principle! Corruption is a major contributory factor to
the bankrupt state of Zimbabwe's fiscus, to rampant hyperinflation, and to
the decline of the economy.
When its focus is concentrated
primarily upon a business community which, in order to keep business
operational, resorted to the same currency procurement methods as did the
state and its focus is also concentrated upon those who are either considered
to be enemies of the political hierarchy, or as have been so blatant in their
corruption that they cannot be ignored, the anti-corruption drive is devoid
of credibility. That credibility would only exist if there were a concerted
effort to determine the sources of untold wealth of thousands who had nought
to their name in 1980 and, without any evident basis as to how accumulated,
now possess immense assets. But spuriously suggesting to the populace that
corruption is now being contained and that perpetrators of corrupt acts will
receive their just desserts, is a good vote-getter!
Yet another of
the acts of government to maximise electorate support is its continuing and
increasing expropriation of farms and its recurrent promises to "new farmers"
of plentiful supplies of inputs and of good producer prices. And the
acquisitions continue to be justified by repeated dissemination of the lie
that the lands had been "stolen" from Zimbabwe's indigenous
All but government and its followers know this to be untrue,
for 110 years ago, this country had a populace of less than 250 000, and most
of the land was unoccupied. But billions of dollars spent on advertising, and
repeated mouthings at political rallies were all targeted to brainwash the
people. This is seen as a major harvester of votes.
attempt to maximise voter support is to create a racial divide. Despite
promises at Independence, despite the fact that almost all whites who
abhorred blacks have emigrated or died, and despite the fact that non-blacks
are now a miniscule portion of the government continue with racial abuse
against the Zimbabwean minority. They recurrently claim that whites continue
to control the economy, which is falsehood in the extreme. They continue to
claim that the minority seeks endlessly to disadvantage the majority. And
they do so in disregard for the constitution which they claim to uphold, for
that constitution specifically provides against racial discrimination and
Most recently, Zimbabwe witnessed such racial divisiveness in
the rantings and ravings of the Minister of Education Aenias Chigwedere
against local independent schools. Having forced temporary closure of
numerous schools to the prejudice of the education of Zimbabwe's youth (the
nation's greatest asset), he railed against them, alleging that they were
white strongholds who deliberately raised fees to preclude blacks from
attaining an education. The fact that none of the schools are operated for
profit and gain, that all could justify their fee levels if operations were
to be continued without a lowering of standards and virtually all had awaited
ministry approval of the fees for a very extended period of time was
Chigwedere presumably wished to impress parents with his
concern for them, thereby garnering voter support. He presumably wished to
terminate the existence of independent schools for the quality of their
education and opera-tions show government schools in a very bad light. He
presumably also wished to expand his authoritarian empire by forcing all
independent schools to lose their independence and be run by his ministry.
But, in doing so, he ignored the fact that more than two-thirds of attendees
at the independent schools are blacks, and that the teaching staff and the
boards of governors were comprised of people of all races. A direct
consequence of his actions has been a re-acceleration of the brain drain from
One of the biggest myths that government is marketing far
and wide is that the economy is improving. Not only is that not so, but the
opposite is the reality: The monetary policies introduced by the Governor of
the Reserve Bank Gideon Gono have significantly slowed down the economic
decline, but they could not, and have not, reversed it.
economy is continuing to deteriorate but at a somewhat slower pace and that
will inevitably continue to be so unless government is prepared to align
fiscal policies with monetary policies, and unless government is prepared to
discard those of its policies as are economically destructive. Those negative
policies include the ongoing land grab, the alienation of international
goodwill, tacit condonation of continuing corruption by
the politically-influential, brainwashing of the youth through the
youth brigades, nepotism, racial divisiveness, disregard for human rights,
justice and law and order and contempt for the fundamentals of
In contradistinction to the contentions of economic
recovery, Zimbabwe continues to suffer economic decline. Government supports
its contentions by drawing attention to a fall in the rate of inflation from
an all-time high of 622,8% to 593,8% (year-on-year), and that the
month-on-month rate has also reduced. But it does not mention that, overall,
prices rose by 27,63% in the first three months of
Government draws attention to its containment of the former
parallel market and black currency exchange markets but refrains from
recognition of the continuing inadequacy of foreign currency and the
resulting shortages of fuel, industrial inputs, agricultural imported
requirements, medications, and so forth. When alleging the economic recovery,
government intentionally blinds itself to rising unemployment, business
closures, decimation of agriculture and an almost total absence of investment
- domestic or foreign. Zimbabweans can take it for granted that government
will remain myopic to these circumstances for elections are just around the
corner and therefore the populace must be fooled into believing that, that
which is hell for them is actually paradise.
MUCKRAKER was shocked by the illegal complicity between the
Ministry of Education and the Zimbabwe Republic Police in the closure of a
number of private schools around the country last week. So far as Muckraker
has been able to gather, there is no law that empowers the minister or his
permanent secretary to close down a school over fees. It is still not clear
to us under what law police commissioner Augustine Chihuri deployed the
police to barricade the schools.
Not only was the action illegal,
it was an undue inconvenience to thousands of pupils, some of whom are too
young to understand what the problem is. Then on the Face the Nation
programme on Thursday evening Education minister Aeneas Chigwedere made a
nuisance of himself, claiming that government had not closed down the schools
but only made sure they didn't reopen.
Does that constitute a
material difference to the affected pupils? Masimba Musarira didn't bother to
quiz the minister on this issue. Nor did he challenge him on the legality of
his action. Instead Chigwedere was given free rein to waffle on and on about
the fee increases being racially motivated to exclude pupils from poor black
families. This despite the fact that one of the schools closed down, Tynwald
Primary School, is owned by Vitalis Zvinavashe.
In any case, we
thought the logical thing about fee increases would be for the school
authorities, such as school development associations, to discuss with parents
their expenses and agree a reasonable figure. But it looks like government is
interested in imposing arbitrary figures to bring down standards in all the
We all know how standards have virtually collapsed in most
government schools such as Lord Malvern in Waterfalls, Allan Wilson and
Mabelreign Girls High. Facilities such as tennis courts are a sorry testimony
to what government is capable of. And Chigwedere thinks it's all to do with
We were not surprised by the chiefs' resolution in Masvingo last
week endorsing President Robert Mugabe to continue leading the country. Most
of them have been bought over through the numerous perks flowing from
the ruling party one wonders if they still deserve to be called
traditional leaders. In addition to pecuniary gains running into thousands of
dollars, chiefs can now buy vehicles of their choice using a custom-desgined
scheme launched by government and some of themhave had their homes
electrified at the urban taxpayer's expense.
So Zanu PF will
obviously be expecting pay back time when it comes to the parliamentary
election next year. Chiefs will be expected to give their subjects a few tips
on what a secret ballot is all about. But more dangerous was the ignorance
displayed by these worshippers of mammon. They seem to take Mugabe as a
traditional leader whose position should not be
According to the Herald, the chiefs meeting at Great
Zimbabwe outside Masvingo said Mugabe's position as leader of the party and
government should not be contested at this year's party congress. In their
resolution read out by Chief Fortune Charumbira, they declared: "The chiefs
reaffirm their support for President Mugabe, the government and the ruling
party Zanu PF."
Which is to say they are already badly compromised as
traditional leaders by affiliating themselves to a political party. How can
they serve their subjects impartially if they don't support the same
political party? And are these chiefs still representing the interests of
their subjects or is it now the reverse, that is chiefs representing the
interests of Zanu PF to the people?
So a whole editor went to Maputo,
Mozambique to write about how brave Information minister Jonathan Moyo can be
in the face of alleged intimidation by a few unarmed human rights
Herald editor Pikirayi Deketeke, in a story headlined
"Moyo refuses to be intimidated" said the minister stood up to the challenge
of six "drunken bunch of media and political activists" who refused to be
addressed by Moyo whom they accused of "closing the Daily News and causing
the arrest of journalists".
Moyo had gone to the Maputo Press Club
perhaps to dish out his wisdom on patriotic reporting. The journalists would
have none of it. For nearly 40 minutes Moyo is reported to have remained
transfixed on his seat because the group wanted to make sure he left, which
he eventually did, without addressing them.
The bravery Deketeke
is extolling is simply that Moyo didn't run away. "Professor Moyo, who sat
throughout the 30 to 45 minutes it took to hold the meeting, was completely
unmoved by the intimidation and refused to leave the Press Club," said
But by the time the group was ejected from the meeting
room, wrote Deketeke, "it was already too late for Professor Moyo to proceed
with the press conference as he was expected to meet members of the
Zimbabwe-Mozambique Friendship Association". So who won the contest if the
intrepid Moyo was unable to address the journalists? Talk of ministerial
notoriety doing some border jumping. The guy seems to court controversy
whenever he opens his mouth.
Writing more like a politician than a
journalist, Deketeke claimed that Zimbabwean reporters who have been arrested
under the infamous Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act in the
past two years had written "falsehoods or breached the country's media
He didn't say why those who wrote falsehoods about the MDC
plotting to bomb bridges and tall buildings in Harare and Bulawayo were not
arrested although they were forced by the courts to make a grovelling public
We all know he is carrying out a political mandate, but for
the sake of his own dignity Deketeke could do with some bit of modest about
the virtues of the country's media laws. A brief discussion with Tribune
publisher and Zanu PF Makonde MP Kindness Paradza will leave him
The picture and caption on the front page of the Herald on Monday
told us all we ever needed to know about the level of theft that goes on on
the farms that government acquires for resettlement.
read: "It is business as usual at Arda Odzi, formerly Kondozi Farm, as
workers grade sweet corn and prepare it for the export market." In the
picture were startled women caught unawares by the cameraman while they were
"grading" corn. George Chisoko, who wrote the accompanying story, didn't
reveal to his readers what variety of maize the land invaders had planted
that matures in a short period of four weeks.
Zanu PF supporters
and Arda workers took over Kondozi Farm at Easter and they are already
harvesting! That is in just over a month they are ready to export their
How else are we supposed to interpret the whole business if
the Herald doesn 't acknowledge that the maize was planted by those who have
been chased out of Kondozi? Instead we are told it is business as usual!
Normalising the abnormal, to borrow an expression often used by the late
Professor Masipula Sithole to try and make sense of our incomprehensible
The 498-hectare farm produces a variety of horticultural
crops, said Chisoko. The crops are currently at different stages of
maturity. "So for anyone to doubt the authority's (Arda) capacity to
productively work on the land is a joke that has ceased to be funny,"
declared Chisoko, sounding more and more like a clone of Jonathan Moyo. There
was no shred of evidence to prove that Arda had produced anything. "Arda
boasts of a huge fleet of farm equipment that no individual farmer can ever
think of possessing," he said. It's like saying Zimbabwe possesses the best
farmland in Africa. Is that any consolation to a starving
Coltrane Chimurenga of the December 12 Movement says they are
planning a visit to Zimbabwe to help fellow blacks make the best use of their
newly acquired land holdings. Under a campaign called "Pennies for
Zimbabwe", Coltrane and his African-American tribe are urging people to
donate pennies towards this noble cause. "We started the 'Pennies for
Zimbabwe' project to help the farmers who have recently re-acquired farms and
are in need of seeds, fertiliser and tools to properly cultivate. There is
also the problem of the current drought. We plan to use your penny donations
to help women (in communal areas) purchase seeds and/or tools. This effort
allows us to make a contribution towards self-sufficiency in Africa,"
Coltrane's appeal reads.
At the rate of pennies, it will take another
century for Coltrane's beneficiaries to reap any dividend. And who told him
about a drought this year when Agriculture minister Joseph Made has already
forecast a "bumper harvest" and government is saying it won't need food aid
from donor agencies?
Is it now official policy that former white
commercial farmers whose properties were acquired by government should not
own or utilise any farmland in the country no matter however
productively? The Sunday Mail carried a report this week in which the
secretary for Agriculture Ngoni Masoka said it was illegal for government
research institutions to lease their farms to private individuals. "It is
not allowed to do so. We have since ordered these institutions to fully
utilise the farms to generate income for use at the centers,"
It didn't occur to him that some of these
institutions don't have the skills needed to farm. Some, like the Institute
of Agricultural Engineering, had, quite sensibly, leased their farms to those
who could use them productively. Government did not tolerate such
arrangements, declared Masoka.
Then the reporter tells us: "The
sources said it was sad to note that those leasing the farm (from the
Institute of Agricultural Engineering) were former white commercial farmers
whose properties were acquired by government for resettlement
purposes." So it's now a race thing, damn their skills! Meanwhile President
Mugabe has been telling anybody who cared to listen that no one who wants to
farm would be left without land. Is that what is happening on the
The Herald's acting sports editor, whom we assume to be Lawrence
Moyo, has distinguished himself as the defender of the "new-look cricket
squad" which has been giving the visiting Sri Lankans practice sessions with
both bat and ball.
In all the huge defeats the youngsters have
suffered, Moyo has jumped into their defence, telling readers the team was
not humiliated or that the players put up a gallant fight.
illustrate the valour of the players, Moyo on Tuesday produced
two scoreboards -one for the old Zimbabwe team's Test against Sri Lanka and
the new team's valiant performance.
The scoreboards showed that
the old Zimbabwe lost by 315 runs and the new-look team lost by an innings
and 240 runs. Does Moyo know the difference between losing by an innings and
losing by straight runs?
Could someone bring back Jahoor Omar to
educate Moyo who missed lessons on past tenses in fourth grade but still rose
threw the ranks to become acting sports editor. Dynamos players were
shell-shocked when Luke Masomere "through" in Tonderayi Ndiraya for Francis
Chandida. We wonder what conclusion Moyo would come up with after Ricky
Pointing's men plough threw our heroes.
IMF predicts surge in Zimbabwe's GDP Godfrey
Marawanyika FOR the first time in four years the World Economic Outlook
Report is predicting a positive gross domestic product (GDP) for Zimbabwe in
The report is compiled by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and
the prediction came after the group's analysis of Zimbabwe's monetary and
fiscal policy, which was reviewed last month. The IMF was in Zimbabwe in
March conducting its annual Article IV Consultations.
GDP is the total
amount of the country's production.
The report anticipates that
Zimbabwe's GDP, which has been on the decline since 1999, will record a 5,2%
positive growth, up from a decline of -9,2% this year. Since March the IMF
has warned that this year GDP could shrink even further.
Over the past
five years, the country's GDP has contracted by about 30%.
however raised concern over the issues of excessive liquidity growth, which
contributed to the record increases in stock prices, real estate and the
parallel market exchange rate.
The IMF also noted that exports suffered
because of the un-competitive official exchange rate and official imports
were severely constrained.
Although the IMF raised some concerns, it said
it was satisfied with some of the steps taken in the 2004 budget, the
December monetary policy statement and efforts to strengthen banking
The IMF team, which was led by Doris Ross, will present its
findings to the executive board sometime next month or early
Since 1999, up until December last year, Zimbabwe has been failing
to pay its dues to the IMF and other multilateral donors.
As of March
31 Zimbabwe owed the IMF Special Drawing Rights (SDR) 196,71 million.
Zimbabwe has committed to make US$1,5 million quarterly payments to the
Holiday allowances to bounce back Ngoni
Chanakira HOLIDAY allowances could soon be re-introduced if Zimbabweans in
the diaspora continue repatriating millions in foreign currency from
However the figure could be slashed to about US$1 000
each annually for the time being instead of the US$2 500 originally offered
before the system was abandoned.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor
Gideon Gono says the issue is still under consideration and would be handled
with caution as long as the country needed foreign currency for fuel,
electricity, drugs and food imports.
Individual holiday allowances, which
stood at US$2 500 annually, were stopped by the RBZ last year, riling
citizens who contended that it was their democratic right to go on holiday
Some top businesspeople have packages that include paid holidays
in foreign currency annually and are allowed to take their families along in
what are termed "Time share holiday schemes".
"We decided to stop
issuing holiday allowances to all and sundry because we thought that the
allowances were not a priority at the time," Gono said. "How can we have
individuals wiping away the little foreign currency available at the central
bank for holiday purposes? We decided to give preference to other more
He said the fixed auction system intentionally threw
out bids for the purchase of foreign currency for holiday purposes.
can confirm that bids for holiday allowance are being thrown out," he said.
"However when the situation gets back to normal we will review this together
with the commercial banks."
A senior Standard Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd
Treasury department official said his bank was flooded with requests from
individuals seeking holiday allowances.
Gono said the auction system,
while not being perfect, was striving to fulfill the needs of the essential
sectors in business.
However the system has riled the Confederation of
Zimbabwe Industries who continually complain that their members are being
short-changed because of the low rate offered at the moment.
said the fixed rate of $5 200 was killing the export market because it is
Gono disputed this, saying the problem with the industrialists
was that they were used to complaining all the time.
Robertson said the figure was not viable because
"Because the Zimbabwe dollar has not been permitted
to move in response to domestic inflation since the beginning of 1999, the
official exchange rate soon became a seriously misleading measure of the true
value of Zimbabwe's currency," Robertson said. "During the whole of 1999 and
up to August 2000, and again during the months from October 2000 to the end
of 2003, the official exchange rate was held at fixed levels that, because of
inflation, soon bore no relation to the real value of the
In his monetary policy statement in December last year Gono
admitted that the exchange rate management issue was as emotive as the
controversial land question and "remains so".
"Moving forward, it has
to be realised that, no business community can ever hope to succeed in an
environment of acrimony and antagonism with its government and equally, no
government can hope to function smoothly when it is at variance with its
business sector," he said.
Mugabe 'unpopular' in diaspora Ngoni
Chanakira ZIMBABWEANS living abroad say before they can channel funds to
their motherland President Robert Mugabe must quit and a new government
This emerged in an informal survey of senior
businesspersons conducted by leading bankers on business opinions and
problems in Zimbabwe as well as how to attract foreign currency from those in
The survey, known as "The market barometer - Snap survey of
issues affecting business", was distributed to business executives including
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono, at a foreign currency
conference in Harare on Tuesday last week.
Economic commentator and
consultant Eric Bloch is in charge of the RBZ team set up to harness foreign
currency from locals in the diaspora.
Despite the negative political
sentiments however, in just two days last week, US$1,7 million had gone into
the RBZ coffers from Zimbabweans abroad.
Bloch says although numbers
could not be established with absolute authority, on the basis of diverse and
informed sources, it was established that there are approximately 3,4 million
Zimbabweans in the diaspora for various reasons.
He said of these 1,1
million are in the United Kingdom, 1,2 million in South Africa, 450 000 in
southern African countries, 200 000 in the United States and Canada, 300 000
in mainland Europe and 150 000 in Australia and New Zealand.
Resources (Pvt) Ltd chairman David Harrison, whose company carries
out research for top companies and government, says Zimbabwe has already
lost close to 60% of its accountants to the diaspora.
He said the
reasons varied from low remuneration, job dissatisfaction, failure to command
high standards of living in Zimbabwe and
Departing from the written presentation,
Stanbic Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd (Stanbic) head of the Treasury department Weston
Makwara, said Zimbabweans living abroad regularly asked when President Mugabe
President Mugabe says he won the last election and therefore
is "democratically" allowed to see his term of office through. The term ends
in 2008 but speculation is rife that he could step down
Makwara said when compiling the data it was also discovered that
Zimbabweans living abroad were generally unhappy with the present government
and its policies and most of them had left the country because they were
being frustrated in their efforts to contribute positively to the
The locals abroad said they felt even more isolated
after being refused the vote in parliamentary and presidential
Those who have departed for the diaspora include doctors,
nurses, teachers, accountants and commercial farmers.
Followed up on
the issue Bloch said there were a few "rabble rousers" in the diaspora who
"spoke louder than everybody else".
"We have just received US$1,7 million
from serious Zimbabweans living in the diaspora and the money is coming in
ever since we began tapping it from them," Bloch told businessdigest in an
"Some of those individuals making those statements either had
failed in Zimbabwe, or are just rabble rousers trying to throw a spanner into
the works of our programme. I would not take those sentiments seriously
and representing the majority of those in the diaspora."
the survey's key conclusions were that industry needed to take advantage of
the RBZ's open door policy to submit contributions to help
"They need to work together, not so much being seen
together, but mutually supporting each other," he said. "Free enterprise
needs to continue to have free rein and to flourish."
According to the
survey, issues that affected business in Zimbabwe in 2003 prior to Gono's
monetary policy statement included runaway inflation, inaccessibility of
foreign currency, rising and ultimately very high interest rates, and cost
containment challenges. He said any set of financial statements was witness
Makwara said current issues were that there was a very
predictable way of allocating foreign currency but not enough available.He
said the survey had discovered that interest rates seemed stable allowing
some semblance of planning while the extension of productive sector validity
had been hailed.
"We need the demand, goods are there but there is no
demand," he said.
He said market perception about Zimbabwe were factors
such as is inflation now under control vis money supply issues and the impact
this would have on the wage bill.
Zimbabwe's month-on-month inflation
that averaged around 18% last year, and reached a peak of 33% in November,
slowed down to 13,7% in January, 6% in February and 5,9% in March.
country's year-on-year inflation, according to the RBZ, has declined from a
high of 622% in January this year to the current 583%. However prices of
basic commodities such as bread, sugar and milk continue to soar. So
have those for electricity, water and fuel.
Makwara said investors
also querried would the exchange rate be managed in relation to major trade
partners' figures and the projected impact this would have on inputs, as well
as the fact that in the absence of donor support would Zimbabwe be able to
have a stable exchange rate?
He said the survey had also raised issues
such as could dampened local demand coupled with the auction rate drive
exports and bring in much-needed foreign currency, as well as were the
diaspora initiatives a step in the right direction?
He said investors
were worried about the tourism industry and declining agriculture
"No matter what may be one's political perspective, almost all
who live in Zimbabwe and a very great number of people outside this country,
do not wish the already gravely devastated, deeply distressed economy to be
totally destroyed," Bloch said.
"They may wish for major political
changes, as I very much do, but they do not wish to achieve it by
intensifying poverty, misery, malnutrition, ill health and death for millions
and millions of innocent people, and for children, the aged, the infirm and
the disabled, in particular. Moreover, they wish that when the eventual
political changes occur, which I firmly believe will happen, there should
still be an economic foundation and framework - no matter how fragile - on
which to rebuild and carry this country forward to the prosperity and
well-being that it greatly needs and deserves."
He said if only 10% of
Zimbabweans abroad avail themselves of the new structures, to an extent of as
little as US$100 a month, the country would access US$34 million
"That alone would suffice to meet all Zimbabwe's fuel
importation costs," Bloch said.
Image - fact and reality By Shingi Munyeza OVER the
past four years most of the tourism communication had to refer to "bad
publicity and poor national image".
At some point it sounded like a
broken record and personally I stopped referring to the notion of "negative
publicity", because it offered a crutch, which validated a resigned attitude
in all of us.
As the government-led land reform took centre-stage in 2000
in the manner that it did, we in the tourism industry sought to address the
resultant negative image. We formed the short-lived Tourism Recovery Task
Force and we asked President Robert Mugabe to launch it at the Harare
International Conference Centre. This was the last we were to hear of the
Tourism Recovery Task Force because our objectives in the private sector were
different from government.
In the month's that followed we found
ourselves in a blame war between government and private sector. We didn't
learn quickly that no one wins in a blame war, actually the situation
deteriorates. Tourism operations began to close down, retrench, bankrupt and
making unprecedented losses.
Meanwhile the rest of the world started
worrying about safety concerns, which were not the reality in our resort
areas. This further deteriorated into a moral objection. We later learnt that
dismissing a moral objection is more difficult than dealing with a safety
In about 2002, the private sector realized that if we did not
positively engage government, our fortunes in tourism would be lost forever.
We also realized that the earlier we understand government's objectives we
would continue to waste resources. This marked the end of the blame war and
the responsibility attitude settled in. We began to see both government and
the private sector demonstrating responsibility for what was going on in
tourism and the national image.
Hate messages from shareholders to our
traditional source markets began to reduce and more condor prevailed between
government and the private sector. This allowed the private sector to put
their concerns through to government in a spirit that would bring positive
response. As a result, governmentand the private sector are working on a
National Tourism Policy, which will allow the tourism sector to positively
engage other stakeholders.
For example it is hoped that once the tourism
policy is finalized it will enable the tourism sector to engage institutions
such as the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority, Department of Immigration,
Air Zimbabwe, ZRP and many others to ensure we all worked together in
bringing about an enabling environment for tourism. Only in the recent past
we have had conflicting objectives with some of these stakeholders thereby
threatening the tourism sector with collapse.
Some positive outcome
has been the establishment of a tourism police unit in Victoria Falls, which
will soon spread to other centres.
When all stakeholders begin to pull
towards the same goals and objectives a positive image is then created at
home among the stakeholders. This is then easier for the tourism industry to
communicate a positive message to our source markets.
is about a sense of national pride, which comes from personal pride of being
a true Zimbabwean. Image is positively influenced by allowing divergent views
to prevail in an environment of mutual respect. A positive image is sustained
by being adversaries rather than enemies. A positive image is enforced when
colour, creed, race, origin or background does not take centre
Currently, we are a wounded and divided nation and unfortunately
this is what gets to our source markets. A message of hope and love need to
start coming out of all Zimbabweans. No visitor wants to visit people who
are considered hostile to each other. We have had maximum publicity as a
nation and now is the time to turn this publicity to our
Confidence building starts by admitting to our shortcomings,
accepting our differences, dealing with reality and coming up with common
goals and values. I believe we need to develop a critical mass of
committed nationalists, who have a national agenda.
As the old saying
goes - ''A journey of a thousand miles starts with one step''. We should
start by working on the things that we agree on and then deal with areas of
disagreement. Eventually we should know that it is the drop that fills the
ocean. No one is insignificant.
l Shingi Munyeza is president of the
Zimbabwe Council for Tourism (ZCT) and chief executive officer of the Zimsun
Rebuilding confidence in Zimbabwe By Alex Tawanda
Magaisa ONE of the key challenges facing Zimbabwe is to rebuild and
inspire confidence among its citizens and within the wider global
As long as confidence in the country remains at the prevailing
dismal levels, chances of succeeding on the economic front are very slim.
There are at least three key areas of improvement that Zimbabwe ought to
focus on in order to regain the confidence of the local and global
Firstly, at the risk of stating the obvious, it is necessary
to sort out the politics because the economic problems are direct products of
political problems that have grown over the last four years.
it is necessary to revive the key institutions of the state that in principle
ought to remain outside the dynamics of party politics.
probably most crucial, citizens' rights must be sufficiently protected and
more particularly, there must be a restoration of property rights
Much has been written about the politics of this country and
undoubtedly, a lot needs to be done to ensure that the political game is
played fairly and freely before the rest of the world, including our friends,
can take us seriously again. At present the single greatest factor inhibiting
confidence and investment in the country is political risk arising from years
of uncertainty and relative instability For various reasons, Zimbabwe has
been a high-profile developing country and consequently its problems have
been highlighted all over the world.
The images beamed across the
world hardly inspire any confidence. While the political issues have received
much attention elsewhere, this article is mainly concerned with the need to
maintain the integrity of the key institutions of the state and the
importance of recognising and enforcing rights to property for the revival of
There are several institutions of the state which have a
life beyond the government of the day. The idea of a civil service is that
people are employed by and to serve the state and its life-span or
composition does not depend on the incumbent government. For example,
diplomats owe allegiance not to political parties but to the state which they
can serve even beyond the tenure of their respective parties in government.
Key appointees may leave the civil service upon the departure of the
incumbent government whose policies they are meant to implement but by and
large, the generality of the civil service remains in place.
departure of the civil service would cripple the wheels of the
state. Institutions such as the judiciary, the central bank, police, and
central intelligence also fall within the same bracket. Persons might come
and go but the integrity of those offices must be maintained at all
For instance, the central bank is the key institution in the
formulation of monetary policy and regulation of the finance and banking
industry and its independence is vital. It is important to ensure that these
key institutions retain independence and integrity in the eyes of the general
public. In some collapsed states, these key institutions either do not work
at all, or at best they serve in a partisan fashion that fails to inspire
confidence. Due to excessive political interference in the workings of some
of these institutions, Zimbabwe risks crippling the wheels that drive the
The politicisation of key institutions of the state is one of the
gravest errors in young developing countries. The levels of interference
and manipulation mean that those who use the institutions no longer
have confidence in the system. In my view, whatever political views we hold,
we should not be ruining the institutions upon which the state is
The lack of independence has meant that these institutions cannot
retain or recruit key personnel with skills that are necessary for their
proper functioning. This is because people no longer view the institutions
as separate from the ruling political party and therefore tend to
associate working for these institutions with sustaining the ruling party.
Yet in fact there would be nothing wrong with working with and for these
institutions if the political parties did not meddle in their
It is precisely for this reason that when renowned economic
consultant Eric Bloch became part of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe-backed body
to harness foreign currency from Zimbabweans in the diaspora, he invited a
barrage of criticism from some members of the society. Yet, in my view, in
principle there is nothing wrong with taking steps that help and sustain
key institutions of the state. If someone has an idea for the improvement of
the welfare of these key institutions, then they should be allowed to put
Both the ruling party and the opposition ought to desist
from politicising affairs of key state institutions. Whether it is Zanu PF or
the MDC that is in power tomorrow, it must always be clear that state
institutions remain largely apolitical. There is no point in destroying
important institutions of the state when fighting for political office
because when you get to power you will need to have those institutions in
If the South African anti-apartheid movement had gone on a rampage
and destroyed key institutions, they would have had serious challenges when
the time came for them to ascend to positions of power. When we write
and critique policies of the RBZ, judicial judgements, police actions, it is
not because we are attacking the officers personally. In fact, we are trying
to place ideas in the marketplace, to hold them accountable for their
actions and to ensure that the institutions that they serve function in the
best way possible. It is necessary to keep those who run our key institutions
on their toes so as to deliver as best as they can. They have in us,
best friends whose key interest is to preserve the integrity of the
institutions and act as sounding boards for their ideas and policies.
Unfortunately, some do not take it in that light, and tend to dismiss
criticism as sabotage.
Property rights are key instruments in a market
economy. They are necessary for the processes of exchange that take place in
the market. Individuals cannot be expected to pay or work for things to which
they cannot assert their rights. The right to property enables an individual
to use and expend a thing without undue interference from others. Any
reasonable investor expects that the law adequately protects rights to his
investment. Part of the reasons for the success of the commercial farmers was
that they had secure title to property and were therefore able to use it in
many ways, including as security for loans and were able to venture into
long-term farming projects with greater commercial benefits.
insecurity over property in Zimbabwe has not only caused capital flight and
reduction of asset values but it also deters potential investors.
The expansion of Zimbabwean companies to other countries in the region is
not simply a result of any newly found entrepreneurial ideas but is
largely motivated by the desire to protect investments in more stable
environments where property rights are better protected. In fact, most of
these companies are slowly divesting from Zimbabwe and placing their assets
in other countries and with the passage of time, they will totally dispose of
local operations if things fail to improve. In an environment where people
make inflammatory statements that threaten property rights and assets
of commercially viable enterprises such as Kondozi and Charleswood are
usurped wantonly, confidence cannot be expected to flourish. Instead of
laying down arms and beginning the process of nation-building, there seems to
be an insistence on breaking down all forms of property
Despite all the familiar rhetoric, economically Zimbabwe
cannot go it alone in this globalised world.
need to access loan and credit facilities in the global markets and political
risk is a key aspect in assessing the credit-worthiness of a borrower in
those markets. In fact, most Zimbabweans living abroad are a potential source
of investment. Ghana has started well, marketing itself and harnessing the
wealth of its citizens living abroad for investment in their
Whatever their shortcomings, international financial
institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund
remain important sources of funds for aid and development in the world. Their
willingness to engage generally gives positive signals to other potential
sources of funds. That is why we ought to continue to engage them and the RBZ
governor Gideon Gono is well aware of that. All this support, from citizens
abroad, foreigners and international institutions depends on goodwill. The
goodwill in Zimbabwe has diminished significantly over the last few years.
After the chaotic land redistribution exercise, the institution of property
rights has been fundamentally undermined and citizens' rights are generally
insecure. The rights in property previously held by commercial farmers have
not been replaced by new rights to those people in current occupation of the
land. The commercial value of that land has diminished drastically in
the marketplace because it cannot be properly delimited and valued nor is
title secure enough. As a result of the prevalence of lawlessness the image
of the country is unattractive.
In order to regain the confidence, it
is necessary to protect property rights, restore the independence and
integrity of key institutions of the state and sort our messy politics. That
will be the beginning of rebuilding the goodwill of the nation and an
important part in the platform for greater development and prosperity. It
matters not whether one is Zanu PF or MDC - the wheels of the state must be
kept in motion, for the state is greater than partisan party
In his efforts to rebuild the stability of the economy and lay
the ground for better prospects, Gono must persuade the politicians that the
image of the country must be improved drastically. To do that, lawlessness
ought to cease and there must be greater respect for property rights and
the sustained integrity of key institutions of the state. Building confidence
is a process, and a lot will need to be done in the case of
l Alex Tawanda Magaisa is Bake & McKenzie Lecturer in
Corporate & Commercial Law at the University of Nottingham. He can be
contacted at email@example.com
IN the ongoing onslaught by the Minister of Education Aenias
Chigwedere on the fees being charged by private schools, there has been a
very deafening silence emanating from the office of the president.
could be forgiven for thinking that with three children of school-going age,
all attending our elitist private schools, a comment would have
been forthcoming from him, as this disgraceful saga has directly affected
Given his stand on the provision of education to the children of
Zimbabwe, his feelings and thoughts are very pertinent to the scenario
currently being played out.
Is the minister's position in fact his
own? I would hate to think that the president is hiding behind the minister's
cloak on this matter.
I do not believe that the minister would have the
gall or the gumption to have done that which we are witnessing without the
necessary go-ahead from a higher authority.
It is unbelievable that a
parent can stand aside while his children's future is being destroyed by a
minister who in his tenure has so far done nothing to improve the lot of
government schools and has only succeeded in courting controversy.
the previous issues he has raised, the minister has quickly backed down when
faced with the public's ire.
It seems to me that the minister is intent
on trying to hide his own deficiencies in running a ministry of such
importance and being unable to produce the desired or stated objectives - a
populace able to face the challenges of the world with an educated and
Scandals as occurred at Zimsec are being swept under
the carpet and the spotlight turned to efficiently run schools with
unwarranted accusations as their continued successful existence only serves
to highlight his and government's failure.
I would suggest the
minister cleaned up his own house first before proceeding to destroy that
which continues to function as it should.
Education is the single most
important reason parents remain in Zimbabwe and try to sit out our moments
(or should I say years) of madness.
OUR cricket is in disgrace, our private schools were assaulted by
a government minister and above all, the recently concluded
Zimbabwe International Trade Fair resembled nothing more than a tuck
God help us. Are we going to tolerate another five years of torture
and humiliation under this most damaging dictatorship? The coming months
are critical; do we allow the status quo to extend beyond 2005 or do we
urgently begin a process to stand up to Zanu PF's stranglehold on our
The MDC will be trounced if it dares contest the
next elections on Zanu PF's terms. We need to address the constitutional
issue first and foremost. It has to be completely overhauled if we are ever
going to have conditions for a free and fair elections.
The MDC should
face facts: would Nelson Mandela have accepted to contest an election under a
"reformed" apartheid constitution? He wouldn't.
The South Africans
dismantled apartheid. We Zimbabweans can only rid this country of the present
dictatorship and misrule by insisting that a new democratic constitution be
put in place. This is our top priority. The onus is not just on the MDC but
on the entire population.
is truly a land of contradictions. The economy is booming although the May
food and cash crop harvests are only 35-55% of normal requirements. The
countryside is growing mainly grass and weeds (with almost no cattle to eat
the grass which is flourishing).
Anyone who travels anywhere in the
country will attest to the extremely low level of crop production.
IMF and the international community seem to have struck a secret deal which
has brought food back into the shops and foreign exchange back into the
The government, Zanu PF, President Mugabe and even the infamous
Information minister are largely keeping quiet, minimising political
So why is the government not allowing the UN's Food and
Agricultural Organisation delegation to inspect food production and food
storage? Why do they insist that Zimbabwe has almost enough food to feed
herself without any assistance from the World Food Programme?
answer, as usual, may lie in politics. A general election is looming early
2005 (which rumours say may be brought forward even to
Although Zanu PF are experts at electoral fraud, they also
intimidate and coerce prospective voters.
This makes them feel
powerful. The non-availability of commercial and/or free food supplies is an
extremely powerful weapon of mass destruction.
The big question is - what
will the international community and the IMF do about it? Probably