Guardian reporter's Zimbabwe lawyer threatened with
Owen Bowcott Thursday May 15, 2003 The
The lawyer representing the Guardian's correspondent in
Zimbabwe, Andrew Meldrum, was threatened with detention herself yesterday
after she went on his behalf to the headquarters of the immigration service
in Harare. Beatrice Mtetwa, a prominent local lawyer, was there to hand in a
letter in response to the Zimbabwean government's confiscation of Meldrum's
passport and residence permit.
Immigration officials alleged earlier
this week that he had breached the terms of his residence permit by writing
about the country's political situation. Meldrum, 51, who has been covering
Zimbabwe for 23 years, was told he should write only about economics and
Ms Mtetwa was confronted by immigration officials and police
officers infuriated that she was not accompanied by Meldrum.
told she would be held until she had produced her client, despite the fact
that there had been no previous request for Meldrum to attend yesterday.
After further exchanges, she was finally allowed to leave.
Ms Mtetwa and
Meldrum, one of the last foreign reporters working in Zimbabwe, have been
ordered to appear at the immigration office tomorrow morning.
year Meldrum, an American citizen, was one of the first journalists to be
prosecuted under new media laws. A Harare magistrate acquitted him
of criminal charges of publishing false information about Zimbabwe. The law
has been criticised by civil rights groups as an attempt to stifle criticism
of President Robert Mugabe's government.
Meldrum insists he is
fighting to remain in the country not just on his own behalf, but to secure
the rights of other journalists.
"The government thinks that by trying to
intimidate or deport me, or prevent me from working, they will also prevent
other journalists who are doing great work," Meldrum said last
DATE: 15 MAY 2003 TIME: 10:00 TO 14:00 VENUE: ART FARM
ALAN BURL (Chairman)
(Lawyer) - THE LAW AND COMPENSATION
ALAN HIGGINS (Valuator) - LAND AND
ANDY LAING (Loss Assessor) - CONSEQUENTIAL, DISTURBANCE AND
DAVID SCOTT (Chartered Accountant) -CONSEQUENTIAL LOSSES AND
KERRY KAY (Counselor) - FARM LABOUR AND HUMAN RIGHTS ALL
FARMERS ARE INVITED TO ATTEND A COMPENSATION MEETING 15TH MAY 2003 ART
The Speakers will be professionals in their fields and addressing
and advising farmers on the various aspects of Compensation and the JAG
Loss Claim Document.
The meeting has been called with the support of
all the farming representative bodies in the best interests of the
Alan Burl is a well-known farmer from the
Marondera area and served as president of the C.F.U. from 1988 till 1992.
Allan has served with distinction on various other committees and is a
well-respected personality in the farming world. Allan will be the chairman
of the meeting.
Louis Bennet is a retired Lawyer with Kantor and
Immermann. Louis will address the meeting on the legal aspects of
compensation and reflect on the history of land tenure leading up to the
Allan Higgins is a valuator with Redfern Mullet and is
standing in for the chairman of the Valuators Consortium. Allan will address
the issues around valuation of Land and Improvements.
Andy Laing is a
loss assessor from Bulawayo and runs his own firm Losscon. Andy will deal
with the issue of Consequential loss or Disturbance loss or Other Losses.
Andy was involved in the setting up of the original
David Scott is currently a Senior Partner with Price
Waterhouse Coopers. He is also the current president of the Institute of
Chartered Accountants in Zimbabwe. David will explain the role of accountants
and auditors and the procedures that will be implemented.
Kerry Kay is
a well-known farmer's wife, HIV/AIDS Project Manager, and Family Therapy and
Traumatized Child Counselor. Kerry will speak on the necessity of
dealing with the gross human rights violations perpetrated against the
farmer's, farm workers and all their families.
As a Zimbabwe citizen.... it is
with deep concern and utter disbelief that I have read of your issuing an
award to the Commissioner of Police in Zimbabwe. As INTERPOL.....surely you
cannot be ignorant of the facts concerning the breakdown of Law and Order in
Zimbabwe, due largely to he and his cohorts. The police force in that
country, over the previous hundred years, have been amongst the most highly
respected, in the world. Since January of 2000 they deserve nothing but
contempt. The complete disregard for life and liberty, of ordinary
Zimbabweans, in that country over the last 3 years, by most of the
Z.R.Police, both urban and rural, has been absolutely shocking. That you, as
the arbiter of Police Forces and Law and Order, world wide, should see fit to
give Augustine Chihuri an award, of any kind, will completely destroy any
respect or faith that all the people of Zimbabwe, have ever had, in
International Law. I AM ABSOLUTELY APPALLED AND DISGUSTED.(and believe me, I
am NOT the only one)
Please read this & pass it to as many people as possible if one
family is warned & saved from a terrible ordeal it will be
On Saturday at about 5:30 pm a couple was visited by 2
extremely well dressed & well-spoken gentlemen. A third man in tow was
continuously physically abused by the two gentlemen. The couple was informed
the men were CID & they had recovered property stolen from the house some
weeks before & the third party was the suspect. The property was there in
view. The unsuspecting & happy couple allowed the 3 in only to be held up
& robbed again. The couple's pick up truck was taken full of stolen
We must all have plans in place for answering the
gate day or night. Don't take the gate keys with you find out who is at the
gate ask for I.D. police should have an I.D. & should not be adverse to
you phoning their base. Only if you are satisfied about the person at your
gate then go & fetch the keys. If you are not happy don't fetch the keys
& ask them to come back the next day. Get neighbors to come & help.
It is not being a nuisance calling someone out.
I believe houses are
being burgled when people our out on routine visits I.E church every Sunday
at the same time. Going visiting at the same time try & vary your
At the risk of instructing people in egg sucking I have given
this a lots of thought in the past & if anyone would like to contact me
with home details I will give you my
Chamunorwa Editor-In-Chief 5/15/03 10:35:01 PM
IN what might be a last-ditch
attempt to revive the stalled fuel deal with Libya, Zimbabwe has cobbled up
an ambitious plan to export US$100 million ($82.4 billion at the official
exchange rate) worth of an assortment of agricultural commodities to the
north African country in a bid to reactivate the stuck-up US$90 million
The proposals that
seek to help Zimbabwe ride out of its difficulties were put on the table
between February and March this year, sources privy to deal said this
Dogged by crippling foreign currency
shortages that have taken the wind out of the economy, leaving it in a tough
and desperate situation, Zimbabwe hopes to earn enough foreign currency to
pay for its fuel imports.
from the exports would also be partly used to acquit the US$61 million plus
interests that Zimbabwe owes Libya for the fuel
Prior to this
proposal, it is understood that the Libyans had insisted that the financier
of the deal, the Libyan Arab Foreign Bank (LAFB) would not provide any
further finance to enable the Libyan oil company, TAMOIL to release fuel to
The Libyans were irked by the
fact that despite signing rescheduling agreements, the fuel procurement
company, the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) had "practically and
NOCZIM chief Webster
Muriritirwa refused to comment on whether Zimbabwe had paid part of the
outstanding US$61 million which the sources said was the last big obstacle to
be cleared before Libya could resume fuel supplies to
He referred all questions to the
parent Ministry of Energy and Power Development. The Minister of Energy and
Power Development, Amos Midzi, had not returned our calls as promised by the
time of going to press, while the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Justin
Mupamhanga was said to be out of the
It emerged this week that hoping
to strike an eleventh-hour revival of the fuel deal whose terms have not been
made public, Zimbabwean authorities have since advised their Libyan
counterparts that the country could export tobacco, sugar and beef among
other commodities, to Libya to enable it to discharge its
It could not however be
ascertained whether Libya had given the nod to Zimbabwe's proposals. The
Libyan ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mahmodu Yousef Azabi, could not furnish the
paper with any details as he said he was having a meeting when contacted on
Tuesday this week.
Zimbabwe has however in
the past failed to fulfil some of its export commitments to Libya. The
Libyans have since expressed their disappointment that Zimbabwe's earlier
export pledges were still to be realised.
Initially a local private company, Farai Meats, owned by John Mapondera and a
consortium of other black business people, was said to have clinched the deal
to export beef to Libya but this deal seems to have failed to take off
immediately. Yesterday Mapondera told this paper that his company would
commence meat exports to Libya within the next 10 days. He said the initial
exports would amount to 4 000 tonnes.
Miffed by the failure of Farai Meats to expedite exports to Libya,
the sources said, the government was now mulling plans for a new line of
supply through the Cold Storage Company (CSC). The CSC would however require
up to three months to effect delivery. The mooted exports through CSC
would however run parallel to the existing
Zimbabwe's fuel supplies
have literally run dry with chaotic, long and winding queues forming,
sometimes for days, at various filling stations that are suspected to be in
line for fuel deliveries that are still trickling
Up until the last quarter of last
year, the country has been receiving at least 70 percent of its supplies from
Libya under a US$90 million facility. The facility was dealt a hammer-blow
when Zimbabwe failed to pay US$61 million for the fuel that had been supplied
by Libya. This stiffened the hand of the fuel supplier, which immediately
halted all fuel supplies to Zimbabwe.
The biting shortages of fuel have become a millstone around the nation 's
neck as the economic fallout of the cessation of the Libyan fuel supplies to
Zimbabwe cuts across industry and commerce. NOCZIM has reportedly
since directed service stations to start rationing
Well-placed sources told this paper
this week that Zimbabwe has proposed to supply 25 million kilogrammes of
tobacco valued at US$60 million. At least half of this would be taken up by
the Libyan Tobacco Company while the remainder would be marketed by the
LAFB's appointed agents. It is understood that this has since been ratified
by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Furthermore, the sources said, Zimbabwe has also undertaken, to export 10 000
tonnes of refined sugar per month to Libya. Based on international commodity
prices, this would be worth an estimated US$15 million per month. At the time
the proposals were made, it was hoped that Zimbabwe would have supplied about
50 000 tonnes of sugar to Libya by June this year. They also added that 300
tonnes of tea and coffee were earmarked for export to
If the proposals are approved, it
is hoped that the US$90 million fuel facility would eventually become a
"self-liquidating" commitment with more exports earmarked for shipment next
By Dumisani Ndlela News
Editor 5/15/03 10:46:36 PM (GMT
THE money market this week took a
dramatic plunge from a $12 billion surplus last Friday to daily shortages of
$400 million and $800 million on Tuesday and Wednesday respectively as
interest rates strengthened ahead of Friday's release of April inflation
Money market dealers said a $10.7
billion injection from Treasury Bill (TB) maturities failed to spur a liquid
market after the central bank went on tender to raise $15 billion through a
six-month TB issue yesterday.
TB rate firmed from 78 percent to 86 percent on Tuesday's tender, while the
six-month TB rate shot up from 79.2 percent to 96 percent on Wednesday's
Dealers said wholesale market
rates - the rate at which banks sell cash among themselves - had been buoyant
during the week, hovering between 70 and 75
But they said the market would
now closely follow the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)'s key re-purchase
(repo) rate, which stuck at 56.15 percent on April 22 after a brief spell on
the run, to get an indication of the monetary controller's intention over the
direction of interest rates.
reportedly apprehension in central bank circles over sanctioning a marked
rise in interest rates, with fears running wild in the RBZ's supervision
department that a sudden and marked shift would spell disaster to the banking
Preliminary assessments by the RBZ
indicated that the banking sector had cumulative interest sensitive gaps of
negative $10,8 billion in the six months of last year alone, and a negative
$90 billion bill for 12 months which could reduce net interest income should
interest rates go up. The banking sectors exposed are commercial banks,
finance houses and discount houses.
Minister of Finance, Hebert Murerwa, has already made public the government's
desire for high interest rates to curb run-away inflation and reign-in
"Of course we don't
expect the RBZ to hike the repo until the TB rate go beyond the repo rate," a
dealer said yesterday.
Under the repo
arrangement, TBs constitute underlying security for borrowing from the RBZ,
with institutions without borrowing security paying up to 40 percent above
the repo rate.
This effectively puts the
repo rate, a money market instrument which allows domestic banks to cover
shortfalls in their daily needs, and determines the direction of commercial
lending rates, at 96.15 percent.
indicated that hot funds currently spurring a bull-run on the stock market
might soon shift to the short-end of the market once it regained its
Commercial lending rates, which
started the year at around 15 percent, having been making marginal gains,
still sit at a minimum charge of
Murerwa has re-affirmed
that the government wants a dual exchange rate system where preferential
interest rates are charged to the productive sector while the rest of the
market is left to lurch under market-determined interest rates for
non-essential and consumptive borrowing. This
is intended to curb consumptive borrowing in order to reign-in money supply
growth through reduced credit lending.
RBZ has not yet verified the impact of this policy on the banking sector, but
its supervision department is wont to make sure a hike in interest rates will
not have damaging effects on the financial
"The whole banking sector as a
whole is prone to interest risks especially a rise in interest rates," a
banking sector source said.
supervision sources said institutions that have high positive interest
sensitive gaps are also exposed to interest rate risk as they will face a
larger fall in the net realisable value of their assets than liabilities in
the event of a rise in interest rates.
Cost of equipping
Parkview hospital soars by 1 150%
Staff Reporter 5/15/03 10:47:55 PM (GMT
THE cost of equipping Parkview
hospital, which is at the centre of a protracted legal wrangle, has soared by
1 150 percent in the past three years to an estimated $2 billion, The
Financial Gazette learnt this week.
Bulawayo-based economic commentator, Eric Bloch, who represents the project
promoters, said $160 million had initially been budgeted for equipping
Parkview Hospital, but relentless cost increases had pushed the figure to an
estimated $2 billion.
"The increase in
costs will put a major burden on whoever will win the legal wrangle," he
said. Bloch said there was nothing to suggest
that the legal wrangle between the project promoters, Universal Health Care
Holdings (UHCH) and its financiers led by First Mutual Life would end
Sources at First Mutual, said the
investors could be forced to change the business plan in the wake of
escalating costs of hospital equipment.
Zimbabwe imports most of the hospital equipment. The devaluation of the
Zimbabwe dollar has fueled inflation and the price of hospital equipment and
There has been a tug-of-war between
institutional investors in the project and UHCH led by South African-trained
doctor, Vivek Solanki over the control and running of the
Investors accuse Solanki of
defaulting on pledges made at the start of the project, while the medical
practitioner accuses them of throwing spanners into the project to facilitate
its take-over. Over the past six years, the
investors have made several bids to buy out Solanki and UHCH from the
Bloch said both the investors and
the project promoters have lost money as a result of the protracted legal
"It is a disaster to everyone
involved in the project," he said. At one
point, investors had indicated their willingness to pull out of the project
if they were reimbursed the full value of their investment plus interest.
Problems emerged when they failed to agree with UHCH on the value of their
The institutional investors
include First Mutual, Zimbabwe Development Bank, Murray and Roberts, Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority Pension Fund, the Commercial Union and Astra
The hospital was built at an
estimated cost of $90 million six years ago, but is now valued at over $200
UHCH controls about 60 percent of
the project, while institutional investors own the
balance. There have been plans to dispose of
the building. But these hit the brick wall after the property failed to find
Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter 5/15/03 10:49:49 PM
ZIMBABWE'S winter wheat is
reportedly threatened by an acute shortage of fertiliser as the critical
foreign currency shortages continue to
Fertiliser firms confirmed
that they have now resorted to rationing their products because the supply in
the country remains critical due to their failure to import raw materials as
a result of crippling foreign currency
Some farmers interviewed by the
Financial Gazette this week said Windmill Private Limited and the Zimbabwe
Fertiliser Company (ZFC) were rationing the quantities of the product to only
five 50kg bags per customer.
managing director, Andrew Humphreys, this week confirmed that the rationing
of the product was in effect because the fertiliser situation was critical
and as a result they could not meet
"The fertiliser situation has been
critical for some months now and as a result we are battling to support the
industry. We have a backlog of orders and we are trying to supply in
chronological order, with the older (orders) ones first," he
Fertiliser has been in short supply
in the past three years. Humphreys said the
firms could not yet ascertain how much tonnage was required for the wheat
winter season because planting was determined by the availability of water
and there had been changes in the agriculture sector caused by the
government's land reforms.
say the country needs one million tonnes of fertiliser a year because of the
agrarian reform, but fertiliser firms are presently operating at below 75
percent of their capacity because of the severe foreign currency shortages,
government's price controls and bottlenecks in the transportation of the
Fertiliser companies said they
were facing problems of sourcing adequate raw materials from Sable Chemicals
and Zimbabwe Phosphate Industries. The two
firms produce ammonium nitrate and super phosphate, which are key raw
materials in the manufacture of fertiliser and are unable to supply the raw
materials at full capacity because of foreign currency constraints and
Potash, a major
ingredient in the manufacture of fertiliser, is also imported from the Middle
East, Chile and Europe and usually arrives in Zimbabwe two months after it is
ordered. As a result of the shortage, farmers
are now forced to buy fertiliser on the black market where it is trading at
more than $8 000 for a 50kg bag. The controlled price of Compound D and
Ammonium Nitrate is $5 700 and $3 000 per 50 kg bag
However, the shortage has
been described by farming organisations as unfortunate as they said it
undermines farmers' ability to utilise available resources such as irrigation
facilities and water. "The winter wheat crop
is very essential to the country's food output and this shortage of
fertiliser means we can not maximise on existing facilities. As a result, we
have to continue importing and this has negative repercussions on the
economy," said the Indigenous Commercial Farmers' Union president Davison
Zimbabwe consumes about 400 000
tonnes of wheat a year and most of it is produced locally. Last year 150 000
tonnes of wheat were produced down from 360 000 tonnes in 2001 and this
resulted in severe bread shortages. About 50 000 tonnes is normally imported
as gristling wheat. Commercial Farmers' Union
chief economist, Kuda Ndoro, said the shortage of fertiliser impacted on the
size of the crop because if a farmer failed to apply basal dressing there was
no way he could plant.
"We are not going
to see the normal winter crop because of the fertiliser shortage. Last year,
the total winter crop was 40 000 hectares and this year it will automatically
be less than that," Ndoro said.
A BADLY tainted image could frustrate
troubled National Oil Company of Zimbabwe's (NOCZIM) efforts to raise $60
billion needed to import fuel.
analysts said fuel bills (petrofin bills) issued by the parastatal early this
week through Syfrets Corporate and Merchant Bank, were quite attractive, but
investors were concerned about the negative image created by NOCZIM over the
"There are one or two investors
here and there with money to buy the bills, but at the end of the day it's a
question of whose paper is it?" a local dealer
NOCZIM has been ravaged by
allegations of corruption and mismanagement blamed on the fuel crisis that
has virtually brought industry to
Enos Chikowore, former
Minister of Transport and Energy, once described the rot at the country's
sole fuel procurer as "stinking".
came on the market on Tuesday seeking to raise a whopping $60 billion that
will go towards the purchase of foreign currency required to meet fuel
imports. Zimbabwe consumes 67 million litres
of fuel a month, which it has to import at a cost of about US$40
It is estimated that between $120
billion and $150 billion is needed this year alone to satisfy NOCZIM's
NOCZIM and the
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority's presence on the money market
triggered parallel market rates upwards with the United States dollar gaining
against the local currency.
which fetched between $1 300 and $1 400 in October, is now going at $2 200
against the local unit.
rates, which were quoted around 60 to 65 percent last week, could end the
month averaging 85 percent, analysts said.
They said government has, this time around, put its act together by starving
the market of new commercial paper to enable NOCZIM raise the
$60 billion. "The issue was correctly timed
because there are no competing papers on the market," said another
The Grain Marketing Board (GMB)
is expected to come on the market shortly after NOCZIM to mop up funds needed
to purchase the current maize crop.
is currently stuck with $48 billion in grain bills that it has been rolling
over for the past five years and need to be repaid to investors before it can
proceed to issue new paper. Syfrets may also
bounce back after GMB with another issue of agri-bills that would finance
farmers settled under the A2 model.
Biyam, the managing director of Syfrets, told The Financial Gazette yesterday
that the petrofin bills had a number of attractions that could entice
Apart from being guaranteed by
government, the bills have a liquid asset status that enables investors to
use them as security when borrowing.
Syfrets is targeting pension and provident funds, insurance companies, life
mutuals, commercial banks, merchant banks, financial and other public and
private institutions as well as individuals.
Biyam said the petrofin bills were the first to be issued by the merchant
bank adding that the first advertisements issued were meant to whet up
Witness Chinyama, an
economist with Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited, was confident that NOCZIM
would get the market's support, but was quick to point out that the impact on
the market could be too ghastly
"This will have a
negative effect on inflation because the demand for foreign currency will go
up, resulting in the increase in foreign exchange rates," he
Agribond to fund new
farmers falls short of target
Staff Reporter 5/15/03 10:51:01 PM (GMT
AN agribond put on the market last
year to raise $60 billion to fund newly resettled farmers has so far managed
to raise only $10 billion.
Sij Biyam, the
managing director of Syfrets Corporate and Merchant Bank (Syfrets), said the
money was raised in two parts, with the first batch of the tender garnering
$7 billion, while the second raised $3
Syfrets was appointed by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to lead about 15 other financial institutions in
raising the money on behalf of government.
Syfrets, a subsidiary of the Zimbabwe Banking Corporation, is also mulling
converting the bills, which are short-term money market instruments, into
bonds, which are long term. The money raised
from the bills is expected to help the new farmer in the acquisition of
assets like tractors and irrigation
"We are trying to convert the
instruments to agribonds so to encourage investors who have shunned the bills
to participate," said Biyam.
inflationary pressures could deter investors from supporting long-term
paper. Inflation, which reached 228 percent
last month, is expected to end the year at about 500
Biyam said the merchant bank
would continue to assess market conditions before floating new
The financing of the agricultural
sector has been affected by instability created by the chaotic land reform,
launched by President Robert Mugabe to address colonial land
imbalances. A Harare-based economist with a
banking institution said not many investors would be keen on bonds, as long
as the issue of collateral is
"The main issue that has
to be addressed is that of collateral security, mainly because of the way the
land has been distributed.
issue, which is important to investors, is that of the current
hyperinflationary environment which affects any form of long
term investments," he said.
government last year tried to force institutional investors to support the
agrobills, arguing this would help beef up their portfolios with prescribed
assets as required by law. The agribills have a prescribed asset status and
bear a government guarantee.
THE National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) is on the market with its $60 billion "petrofin bills" to
raise funds to finance fuel imports. And with a lot of money looking for a
home, it may indeed just capture enough investors in the
The jumbo issue comes on the
heels of an unforgettable round of sensitive fuel price hikes that touched
off discontent from a wide cross-section of the community. Sadly these will
amount to nothing more than stop-gap measures when what the country requires
are long lasting solutions to the fuel
These two developments are
emblematic of everything that is wrong with NOCZIM, which seems to have
turned the fuel procurement issue into something as complicated as a
crossword puzzle with only half the clues and no black squares. The country's
fuel procurement agent seems stymied for which way to look as regards the
sourcing of fuel for the country. The day-to-day running of the organisation
continues to swing like a yo-yo, with not even a single clue as to the
strategic direction the beleaguered institution is
The country has its back firmly
against the wall, the economy has suffered a bruising setback as corporate
Zimbabwe is feeling the sharpest edge of the knife, industry is laden with
gloom, jobs are being shed every single day and ordinary Zimbabweans have had
to endure queues as long as the original snake, mainly due to the persistent
It is not far-fetched to
say that come the interim reporting period in a few months time, some
companies will show breathtaking losses. Hundreds of companies' future is now
in the balance. In other words, because of the debilitating fuel shortages,
Zimbabwe is at the very deep end. No corporate body or individual is
insulated from this. Zimbabweans are gnashing their teeth. This exposes the
isolation of Zimbabwe as probably the only major SADC economy that has
serious fuel problems under which the economy can easily implode. Other
economies in the region might not be operating on all cylinders but they are
doing just fine.
Zimbabwe's fuel crisis is
as tricky as it gets. On one hand very little foreign currency is going
through the central bank because of a number of factors, including the
country's skewed exchange rate policy, leaving NOCZIM having to scrounge for
expensive foreign currency on the parallel market where it is now going for
as much as $2 200 to the United States dollar. This has been aggravated by
the waning competitiveness of the country's exports on the international
market. In fact the country's export performance is pathetic. Hence the
foreign currency is not easily available.
In the not-too-distant past, because NOCZIM is a quasi-government institution
prone to interference, the institution could not price its fuel correctly for
political expediency, once again underlying how Zimbabwean politics meshes up
with business. Government refused to listen to the voice of reason when there
were calls for staggered fuel price increases as far back as 1996. It decided
in its wisdom to adopt the populist stance and forego reasonable fuel price
increases, although this was just a question of postponing the inevitable.
That was then, this is now. The government should now awaken to a sobering
It is high time the government
went back to the drawing board and adopts a more assertive approach in
dealing with the fuel issue to see what can be done to bring sanity at
NOCZIM. How are we going to rid the once scandal-tainted organisation of its
mountains of debts?
Having said all that,
the question that begs an answer is, do we need the parastatal anyway?
Shouldn't it just be disbanded and done away with? What purpose is it serving
when it cannot rise to the occasion? If it should be retained then it should
only be a regulator whose responsibility would be to ensure that there are no
malpractices in the fuel industry.
EDITOR - The
propensity for Zimbabweans to be gullible is so huge that it is not possible
for us to move forward as long as we remain so
Every time someone comes up with
a well planned idea that Mugabe might retire, we get excited and we tell the
whole world that we are going to be liberated. We start to discuss such
futile topics as exit plans, immunity from prosecution, succession, caretaker
governments, and rebuilding
Zimbabwe is one of the
most academic nations in Africa, and therein lies its problem. We like to
theorise on everything and half the time we miss the obvious facts looking us
in the face.
Mugabe knows this and uses it
to maximum effect. Jonathan Moyo knows this but is not very good at using it
in any way. The facts are plain.
Mugabe cannot leave office and also avoid prosecution. The courts can accept
a negotiated immunity deal between the opposition and ZANU PF, but that could
not include any private lawsuit raised by any private citizens whose child,
spouse, brother, mother or father have died at the hands of the Mugabe
Secondly, any immunity deal can be
reneged on by the incoming government, as happened in Chile and Zambia. It is
a matter of time before Kenya starts on the big
This is more so if it can be shown
that large sums of money were siphoned out of the country for personal
Thirdly, all the operatives around
Mugabe know that they would not be included in any immunity deal. They have
everything to lose by helping to negotiate any exit
African leaders with influence are
not interested in Mugabe leaving under the current climate. This is mainly
because that would raise the African expectation for the leader to leave
office when he/she has failed the
Of the three leaders who came to
Zimbabwe to look at the problem, Obasanjo is not without legitimacy
questions, Muluzi believes he should be allowed to rule forever, and Mbeki
contradicts his AU and Nepad rules each time he opens his mouth. What example
did they bring to Zimbabwe?
Zimbabwe is in the hands of the estimated 71 percent of the people who now
know that Mugabe is not the right man for the job, and that waiting for his
death spells the death of the nation, since the economy is depreciating
faster than Mugabe is ageing.
We also now
know that our fate is not in the hands of the United KIngdom, European Union,
United States, or the United Nations. Although their help is welcome, it
should not be paramount.
Some say that
making positive decisions means certain death from the police and army. I say
our options are few. We are currently being murdered one by one. We can
choose to be murdered in the open. The number either way is the same. Think
One could be forgiven for
assuming that the four Cabinet ministers who recently resigned from Tony
Blair's government did so on account of Zimbabwe. The jubilation with which
some people welcomed the resignations leaves one wondering what direct
benefit will accrue to Zimbabwe from
Does this mean that
Zimbabweans will start getting good governance, foreign currency, fuel, food
and everything that we so desperately
Only regimes that were feeling
threatened by the recent ouster of one of their own in Baghdad would
celebrate when British ministers quit over the handling of the Iraqi
Otherwise there is nothing worth
making a song and dance about.
of Blair's four ministers to resign is Clare Short, who tendered her
resignation this week. In her parting shot, Short used one word to describe
Blair's government. "Diktats".
this word to describe Blair's government which she said was led by people who
are accountable to nobody but themselves. To any Zimbabwean this small word
coincidentally comes handy in describing the denizens of Munhumutapa
Talking about ministers
resigning, Short and company decided to call it quits because their
conscience could not allow them to be party to actions they do not subscribe
CZ wonders when we will start getting
ministers walking out of this Munhumutapa madhouse because, in the forum of
their own conscience, this or that is no longer being done properly? People
like Nkosana Moyo, who don't believe in being plastered with silly titles
like "amadoda sibili" when they know they are not at all doing men's
Anger over donor
It seems the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP) is in trouble with mandarins at Munhumutapa
Building for allegedly working with Agric Africa, a non-governmental
organisation, to assist hapless former white commercial farmers whose farms
were expropriated by the government in relocating to our neighbouring
Although the UNDP is disputing
this claim, the allegation is a fact to the government so it is pointless for
the international body to make
These mandarins are taking
umbrage at the fact that the same UNDP refused to fund President Robert
Mugabe's so-called agrarian revolution despite numerous requests by the
What is surprising is that we
are told day and night that these same whites are merely a bunch of
unrepentant Rhodesians masquerading as commercial farmers who are working in
cahoots with imperialist forces and the opposition MDC to plot the
re-colonisation of Zimbabwe.
Now that some
people have decided, at the their own expense, to rid Zimbabwe of these
personae-non-grata who have been living in this country on sufferance, the
same patriots in the government cry tears of blood saying the UNDP is being
racist, is employing double standards this and that. So what do we
They say the UNDP and Agric
Africa should sky-jack these funds and instead donate them to our own A1 and
A2 model "farmers" who have been disastrously experimenting with land during
the past two seasons.
If indeed there is
any money meant to assist these former farmers, CZ wonders who are we to tell
the UNDP and any other NGOs how to spend their money. It is their money and
it is only them who should decide who should benefit and who should
It is a fact that since 1998 the UNDP
has been advocating for an orderly land reform, not the haphazard reform
spear-headed by the rancorous Mugabe and his rambunctious war veterans, which
condemned Zimbabweans to near almsmen.
The fact that we have failed to meet the conditions laid down by the donors
does not preclude any other group of organised people from receiving that
aid. We only have ourselves and our grandmothers to blame for failing to
qualify for this assistance!
Superstitious Chief Charumbira
Fortune Charumbira, also the deputy minister of Local Government, Public
Works and National Housing, says he is working on a cleansing ceremony to
exorcise the haunted roads in Masvingo where many lives continue to be lost
in road accidents.
Good idea, it seems,
but is this the best suggestion the good chief can
Why does our good chief want to
complicate simple issues by trying to invoke quaint superstitions? The roads
in questions are narrow and have sharp curves making them dangerous for any
user especially in the light of the high number heavy vehicles passing
through the area.
Why can not the
chief-cum-minister first try to use his influence to suggest that the roads
be widened before he resorts to juju and other such antediluvian solutions?
If the spirits continue to kill people in the areas even after the roads have
been widened, then we can give his idea a try. If it works, that will be good
for every one because we may even export it and get a lot of
CZ is not simply opposed to the
good chief's idea for the fun and pleasure of opposing it. The truth is that
in the past such all-night seances in the same area have ended up being heavy
sex orgies as some of the randy participants used the event to attend to
their carnal tastes.
Chihuri, the superstar
commissioner Augustine Chihuri, never mind his
office's record of torture, selective application of justice and the whole
host of their serious human rights crimes, continues to shine on the regional
scene. CZ wonders what yardstick those who repeatedly honour our police chief
are using. Is it an African or international
Dumisani Ndlela News Editor 5/15/03 9:41:44 PM
ZIMBABWE'S defenceless dollar
took heavy knocks from its major trading partner currencies this week as
authorised dealers invaded the parallel market to mop up hard cash for the
embattled National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) and other key
parastatals, dealers said.
dollar, which had for the past three months found a home on the 1 300 to a US
unit level on the parallel market, weakened further into negative territory
during the week to hit its lowest level ever at 2 000 to the
"There's not going to be any
reprieve to the Zimbabwe dollar," warned John Robertson, an independent
economic consultant. "It could hit 3 000 within the next few
NOCZIM has instructed its bankers
to secure US dollars from the parallel market "at any price" as it battles to
clear arrears with its international suppliers and also raise enough money
for its oil procurement obligation.
Dealers and analysts said the situation had become desperate for foreign
currency hunters as the once-thriving parallel market, which had been
offering lucrative rates to exporters compared to the official market, was
now starved since a government decision forcing exporters to surrender all
receipts to the central bank.
had been made at the same time the government announced a devaluation of the
Zimbabwe dollar from 55 to 824 to the US unit at the end of February in a
move that was designed to encourage receipts in the ailing interbank
But dealers said this week that
export receipts had dwindled to historic lows and pressure was now expected
to pile up on the government to allow a further devaluation of the local
currency on the official market at a review meeting with stakeholders this
"There is virtually nothing in the
interbank market and dealers are busy scouting for foreign currency on the
parallel market for NOCZIM," a commercial bank foreign currency dealer said.
"It's a desperate situation in the market and one that gives an indication of
Robertson added: "Exporters are
waiting for a devaluation and they are now holding on to their export
consignments. The parallel market used to be fed by exporters with excess
receipts but that changed when the Reserve Bank started capturing all the
forex from exporters."
early this year announced that all export receipts would be held by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which would compulsorily take 50 percent for
disbursement to NOCZIM and the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA)
for oil and electricity imports, respectively. The other 50 percent would be
made available to exporters on application for approved import requirements
or be remitted to the RBZ at a rate of 824 local units to the
This move meant that exporters
who used to divert their excess receipts to the parallel market at better
rates were unable to do so.
watchers said the parallel foreign currency market was no longer the hive of
activity that it used to be, but still played a crucial role in determining
the direction of the Zimbabwe dollar in a highly inflationary environment
beset by critical foreign currency
They said the main drive behind
the parallel market was now the cross-border traders, smugglers and
Zimbabweans working abroad.
ZESA this week
won a key concession with the RBZ allowing it to charge its corporate export
customers in US dollars in a bid to beef up its foreign currency account for
payment of electricity imports, but there was still mounting pressure which
could force the utility to resort to the
government has condemned the parallel market, which forced it to
unceremoniously ban all bureaux de change operations in
But privately, sources
said, it was still an active accomplice to the unofficial market, with all
its major parastatals - Air Zimbabwe, NOCZIM and ZESA, among others - buying
heavily from it.
"The dollar will continue
to suffer because there is an absence of confidence in the country," said
Lovemore Kadenge, president of the Zimbabwe Economics
THE national airline Air Zimbabwe has
introduced a $19 000 insurance fee for passengers using domestic flights and
$64 536 for all travellers on aircraft plying regional routes, an airline
The fees will act as cover
in the event of a major disaster.
Travellers to Europe would have to pay $47 000. The costs would however be
factored in on purchase of an airline
This development is in line with
new international aviation requirements to ensure travellers are compensated
in case of an accident during flight.
With the new regulations, Zimbabweans would pay a $20 000 fee, which includes
the usual $1 000 departure fee.
Zimbabwe managing director Rambai Chingwena said that the insurance was not
only being charged by Air Zimbabwe but by
insurance is not being charged by Air Zimbabwe alone but airlines across the
world," said Chingwena.
"The decision to
make customers pay for insurance came after what happened on September 11
On that date two airlines which had
been hijacked by terrorists rammed into the Twin Towers in New York, United
States, killing all passengers aboard.
Airlines across the world experienced a major decline in travellers due to
the tragic event.
Zimbabwe has experienced
a drastic decline in traffic due to the perceived risks in the country
associated with the turbulent economy and political
Many European Union
governments, including the United States and Australia, have issued warnings
to their nationals against travelling
Chingwena said that the
money paid as insurance is not handled locally but submitted to a pool of
"When a major tragic
event like what happened then (September 11) takes place, the cost would not
be passed to an airline but the insurance fee paid out would come in handy,"
"Once the funds are paid they are
submitted to a central depository fund which administers
Reporter 5/15/03 10:09:35 PM (GMT
+2) STOCKFEED prices this week went up by
between 24 and 84 percent, worsening the crisis in the livestock industry at
a time the country is battling to rebuild the national
Industry players said this week the
recent hike would trigger a sharp rise in the price of beef, already beyond
the means of many of the country's restive
They said what had
particularly pushed the stockfeed prices up was the increase in the cost of
soyabeans, the main input in the manufacture
"The price of soyabeans
has gone up tremendously from $210 000 a tonne to about $383 000 and any
stockfeeds with a content of more than 40 percent soyabeans were greatly
affected and are now the most expensive," a senior official at Agrifoods,
Zimbabwe's largest stockfeed producer,
The official, who declined to be
named, said that the non-availability of milling offals and fuel for
deliveries, which they were sourcing from the black market, were also key
contributors to the increase.
A 50kg bag
of high performance fattening meal (beef feed) now costs $13 170, up from $5
955 while the same quantity of broiler mash now costs $23 995, up from $21
Miscellaneous feeds such as horse
meal have gone up by between 40 and 50 percent while all concentrates have
gone up by more than 61 percent.
output dropped by 28 percent to 50 000 tonnes this year, against Zimbabwe's
annual requirements of 120 000 tonnes.
Analysts said the country might this year be forced to import soyabeans but
wondered if this would be possible given the country's acute shortage of
foreign currency. Besides, any move to complement the country's shortfalls
with imports would push the cost of stockfeed up, they
But if imports fail to materialise,
further production cutbacks were envisaged at a time when stockfeed
manufacturers are meeting less than 50 percent of farmers'
Livestock producers said the
shortage of stockfeed had contributed to a decline in output, already low
because of instability in the
The national beef
herd currently stands at an estimated 250 000, a drop from 6.5 million two
years ago, while pork products had declined as the number of slaughtered pigs
fell from the normal 250 000 a year to 95 000 last
The drop has been largely blamed on
the government's controversial land reform exercise that resulted in the
displacement of scores of commercial white
Effect of real
interest rates on savings, pension
5/15/03 10:25:33 PM
INTEREST rates have moved up
sharply in the past month, much to the alarm of those who believe the cost of
borrowing should be kept very low
The government led the
way in this thinking when it cut interest rates to a fraction of the rate of
inflation at the beginning of 2001, after trying to keep them roughly equal
to the rate of inflation for the previous eight
But now, with interest rates having
doubled to about 50 percent, questions are being asked about the need for the
The government, the biggest
borrower by far, did not want the costs of servicing its Z$350 billion debt
to rise and no borrower in the business community actually wants to pay
lenders more money.
Lenders, on the other
hand, see the problem very differently. They have seen the return on their
savings drop so much that a large part of the value of their savings has
disappeared. With the capital repayments plus interest, they do end up with
more dollars than they lent in the beginning, but the buying power of those
dollars has fallen a long way short of the buying power of the money they
For the borrowers, that is not much
of a problem to start with and they believe it is not their problem anyway.
But after a time it becomes a very big problem. Because costs are rising with
our worst-in-the-world inflation rate, they usually want to carry on
borrowing ever increasing amounts.
the lenders no longer have the quantities of money needed, simply because
they have lost so much of their capital while the interest rates were being
kept to such a small fraction of the inflation
Lenders have not received much
sympathy from the public, but that reflects a major - and costly -
The public believes the
lenders are the banks and other financial institutions and the pension funds.
They see that the finance houses are making bigger profits than ever before
and that the pension funds own most of the biggest buildings in every city.
But these organisations are just the "middlemen". They are lending money that
does not belong to them.
It belongs to
you. It is your bank deposits and your pension contributions, including your
contributions to the National Social Security Authority. It is your endowment
policy premiums, your POSB savings, your annuity payments and even your
And over the past two
years and four months, you have been robbed, systematically and ruthlessly,
through the deeply negative real rates of interest. To calculate the real
rate of interest, simply subtract the interest rate from the inflation rate.
For March 2003, the answer will be roughly minus 180
The annual inflation rate at the
beginning of 2001 was 57 percent. By January 2002, it had doubled to 116.7
percent, but lenders had been compensated less than 20 percent over the
period. At an average of 71.9 percent inflation and a negative real rate of
interest of about 60 percent, the interest earned by lenders fell 42.5
percent short of the amount needed to restore lenders' purchasing power at
the beginning of 2001.
By January 2003,
inflation had reached 208.1 percent and the average rate for 2002 was 133.2
percent. Lenders had been compensated less than 25 percent through the year,
so the effective interest rate was minus
The buying power of your
money, which was lent to the government in January 2002 for 12 months, and
repaid with 25 percent interest in January 2003, had been reduced to 40.5
percent of its original value.
preserve the buying power of their existing capital and savings, people in
business, the corporate investors, directed attention to speculative
commercial activities that usually involved smart trading deals and, in
particular, deals in foreign exchange. For those who were active
and knowledgeable in certain markets, the strategies often proved
successful, for them.
however, these same activities led to a deepening scarcity of foreign
exchange and a steep fall in the parallel market exchange rate for the
Zimbabwe dollar. These changes added further to inflation and to the
difficulties experienced by those on Zimbabwe pensions or dependent on
interest earned on their savings.
those able to step up their prices or demand higher salaries, the rising
inflation has been a less serious challenge than for those on fixed incomes.
Most pensioners have suffered a very serious fall in their standards of
living. However, those people who have to live on interest earnings have
suffered much more as their incomes have been cut to a fraction of their
The recent increase in
interest rates has not saved them, simply because inflation has also
increased. The negative real rate of return, still at about minus 180
percent, is no better than before. Many have had to resort to using their
capital to meet day-to-day expenses, further reducing their interest income
and guaranteeing a quicker slide into
Far from respecting and rewarding
those who have contributed their life's work to Zimbabwe, the country is
generating a class of impoverished senior citizens whose capital is being
of people are being added to this class every day, and they have to watch
helplessly as the value of their savings is rapidly eroded as a direct result
of a seriously flawed, but deliberately chosen government
If the negative interest rates
remain in place, the same fate will await future pensioners as well.
Everyone's contributions to their future pensions are being rendered
progressively less valuable as their pension funds continue to invest these
vital savings on these damaging terms.
effect, the government is forcing our senior citizens to subsidise the
servicing of the nation's domestic debt through an immoral process that is
reducing defenceless people to penury. The same process is also destroying
the pension fund industry, which was previously a principal source of
investment funding for the business sector and loan capital
By forcing the
dissipation of the effective value of the nation's savings, the government
should take seriously the fact that it is undermining its own source of
capital to fund future budget deficits.
The country's ability to support its own economic recovery in due course is
also being badly undermined. This will make inflows of foreign capital - the
savings of other nations and other nationals - essential if any future
recovery is to be successful.
the immediate victims and casualties of this process, Zimbabwe's own
pensioners, desperately and urgently need
The government's decision to
pay them a rate of return that effectively confiscates three quarters of
their capital over two years is, without doubt, an immoral use of authority.
In many countries, such a practice would be illegal. It should be made
illegal in Zimbabwe too, and the government should accept its responsibility
to pay compensation to the lenders.
John Robertson is a past president of the Zimbabwe Economics
WHAT dialogue did Thabo Mbeki,
Olusegun Obasanjo and Bakili Muluzi try to re-initiate by having separate
talks with Robert Mugabe and then Morgan Tsvangirai, instead of providing the
fora for them to meet face to face?
or Tsvangirai are not having any problems with South Africa, Nigeria or
Malawi, but the problems are between themselves so the logical relevance of
the troika is to chair the talks and not to act as frivolous middlemen who
run with a message from one party to the other until their ultimate purpose
The tragedy of the ill-fated ZANU
PF/MDC talks is that both Tsvangirai and Mugabe are communicating via the
media or via South Africa, Nigeria or Malawi and yet the problem is right
here in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe should be humble
enough to confront Tsvangirai, and straight to his face, ask for recognition
as legitimate President. It's no use telling the world and all who will care
to listen that he will not entertain any dialogue with the opposition leader
unless he legitimises him and withdraws the poll court
Tsvangirai cannot and will never
legitimise Mugabe. Tsvangirai does not have the mandate to legitimise Mugabe
and this is what Mugabe should know before opening his
In all fairness, it is apt to say
it is this guilt inherent in the President that he is illegitimate that has
not given him the willpower to rescue the tattered economy of this country.
The President is being nagged by an ever-persistent conscience, which like a
ghost, is haunting him indicating that nothing good will come of a stolen
By imploring Tsvangirai to
endorse him, Mugabe is at once signalling his fear of what the MDC election
petition might reveal - that not only were the polls heavily flawed but also
human rights abuses are rampant in
for the inter-party dialogue to commence reveal an acute sense of panic and
desperation. There can be no guarantee that once the talks are in progress he
will not demand other conditions for them to continue. It is therefore
prudent to say that as long as Mugabe is president, nothing good can come out
of those talks.
Even though Tsvangirai may
recognise Mugabe as president, it will not wash away the guilt, panic and
desperation Mugabe feels and will continue to feel for the rest of his
Even if Tsvangirai withdraws the
election petition from the courts, that will not increase the number of
ruling party supporters in the disputed constituencies - indeed it would
actually increase Tsvangirai's support base for being a mature political
The opposition leader should
not be drawn into trying to make demands that will render the inter-party
dialogue impossible. In fact he should make as many compromises as will
ensure that he is brought to the same table with the ruling party leader to
map the way forward for this bleeding
Tsvangirai should bear in mind
that time is running out for him as well and if he is not seen to be doing
something such as dragging Mugabe to the negotiating table or administering
the "final push" as he calls it, then he is likely to face a
must be clear to Zimbabweans that dialogue is certainly out of the question
before the "final push", which will take the form of street protests, can
Already many people are in a
dilemma as to what will solve the Zimbabwe
Dialogue has been attempted before
but it came to nought and so it will not come as a surprise if this second
effort to talk Zimbabwe out of the dire plight it finds itself in hits yet
another brick wall.
Stayaways have been
tried as well, but the government has simply ignored their repercussions and
instead gone on to increase the price of fuel by over 200
The ZCTU called for another
stayaway to protest against the fuel price hike but Energy Minister Amos
Midzi dismissed their efforts as a dream. And a dream it was for after the
stayaway we woke up to find that indeed the trebled price of fuel was there
The only other option that the
MDC has never dared to engage in is the street protests which its leader has
dubbed the "final push".
Perhaps it is the
best option at the moment for it might bring us back to an option that has
failed - the inter-party talks.
clear that these talks have never really been successful because there has
never been a major meeting of the minds between the two parties. On the other
hand although Mbeki, Obasanjo and Muluzi havae recognised the MDC as a force
to reckon with, Mugabe still belittles them and in fact feels he must not
sanctify the opposition by engaging it in dialogue for the national
Well, a child will only know that
fire is dangerous when he gets burnt.
At 79, Mugabe mustn't be a child as that "final push" is bound to come,
sooner or later.