Zimbabwe on the brink of losing Test status Simon
Briggs (Filed: 21/05/2004)
The directors of the International
Cricket Council will today take the first steps in a process that seems
certain to end in Zimbabwe's suspension from Test cricket.
At a 12.30
pm teleconference meeting, the ICC's chief executive, Malcolm Speed, will
recommend that the other nine Test-playing countries should vote to demote
Zimbabwe's two-Test series against Australia - which is due to start tomorrow
- to first-class status. ICC sources believe that at least seven of those
nine votes are in the bag, with New Zealand and South Africa the most likely
to side with the Zimbabweans. And according to the constitution, only seven
are needed to pass the motion.
Australia have already confirmed that
they see no point in remaining in Zimbabwe for the sake of a couple of
meaningless matches against a team shorn of 14 'rebel' white players.
However, while their Test squad are preparing to return home, their one-day
players will still be obliged to contest the three-match series starting on
A similar logic would apply to England's controversial October
tour of Zimbabwe. Even if Zimbabwe's demotion from Test status should be
extended indefinitely, the reciprocal tours arrangement would still require
them to fulfil their one-day obligations.
According to insiders at the
England and Wales Cricket Board, this would lessen the public relations
damage associated with the tour, but not by much. "The tour has a symbolic
impact," a source said. "No one will be paying attention to the
Speed's recommendation, which was first circulated yesterday in
an official paper, represents a major break with protocol. ICC chief
executives are not usually to be found proposing motions, let alone advising
which way their members should vote.
But patience has gradually been
giving way to exasperation at the ICC's Lord's headquarters. The turning
point came on Tuesday, when Speed's diplomatic mission to Harare ended with
the Zimbabwe Cricket Union board refusing even to meet him.
Jonathan Mbiriyamveka Government will soon give municipal police throughout
the country arresting powers, the Minister of Local Government, Public Works
and National Housing Cde Ignatius Chombo, said yesterday.
municipal police officers comprising 84 patrolmen and 14 patrolwomen at a
pass-out parade in Harare, the minister said: "It is critical that they be
given arresting powers so that they quickly enforce the law and bring
culprits to book.
"As the noble concept of municipal courts and
empowering municipal police is debated, it may be necessary that you begin to
look ahead and focus on upgrading the curricula for training municipal
He said granting of arresting powers to municipal police was
meant to ensure they were able to effectively enforce by-laws of local
Criminals arrested by the municipal police would be brought
before the courts of law.
"Crime is on the increase not only in
Harare, but in all urban centres, with the criminals acquiring greater
sophistication each day,
"A team of municipal police that can partner the
efforts of our Zimbabwe Republic Police is of total importance for peace to
prevail in our towns and cities," Cde Chombo said.
He said people
expected to be protected and it was the duty of each patrolman and
patrolwoman to ensure that peace prevailed.
Cde Chombo urged municipal
police officers to further their careers as there were plans to establish a
As Government contemplates the establishment of
municipal courts and upgrading the status of municipal police to complement
the national judicial and peacekeeping institutions, Cde Chombo said local
authorities should begin to work on training to enhance the calibre of
municipal police adequately equipped to handle the ever-increasing complex
He said internal growth and rural migration had
placed urban authorities under pressure to maintain acceptable standards for
order, cleanliness, environmental control and the general privacy of
He urged the patrol officers to guard against corrupt
activities as the profession did not allow for mistakes.
inspected a parade mounted by municipal police accompanied by Harare chief
security officer Mr Tavanana Gomo and staff officer
The crowd was treated to fascinating displays of
march past in slow and quick time, silent drill and unarmed
Cde Chombo presented certificates of competence to four patrol
officers, who included two patrolwomen and two patrolmen.
officers underwent a training course in basic law, industrial and commercial
security, investigation techniques, first aid, physical fitness and firearms
handling and use, just to mention a few.
It is hoped that the officers
would curb vandalism of council property, deal with cattle rustlers and
enforce by laws.
Harare Metropolitan Province Resident Minister Cde
Witness Mangwende, Chitungwiza Executive Mayor Mr Misheck Shoko, Harare
Acting Mayor Councillor Tapfumaneyi Jaja and Harare town clerk Cde Nomutsa
Chideya attended the pass-out parade.
Also in attendance were several
councillors, Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans' Association deputy
chairman Cde Joseph Chinotimba and council officials.
Zimbabwe peace deal collapses By MICHAEL CRUTCHER in
Harare 21may04 AGITATED officials are tonight poised to scrap Australia's
Test series in Zimbabwe after a panic peace deal broke down in the rogue
Five rebel players last night refused the Zimbabwe
Cricket Union's demand to return for tomorrow's opening match in Harare,
ensuring the International Cricket Council's member nations would probably
make the unprecedented move to withdraw Test status from the
Australia is expected to join England, South Africa, India,
Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and the West Indies in voting to downgrade
the two-match series while New Zealand is tipped to be Zimbabwe's sole
supporter in tonight's telephone hook-up.
Seven of the 10 nations must
agree for the vote to be carried and the desire to "preserve the integrity of
Test cricket" is expected to save Australia from a pointless series against a
club-standard Zimbabwe team.
Australia's one-day players based in England
have been put on notice to rush to Harare should the tour be changed to a
one-day tournament but any decision will wait until after the ICC vote. The
Tests could only be saved by a last-minute truce between the ZCU and the 15
rebel players but that crashed when dumped captain Heath Streak and another
four rebels rejected a place in the squad for tomorrow's match.
rebels, locked in a six-week dispute with the ZCU over selection policies,
agreed to return for next month's one-dayers but insisted they were not
physically or mentally ready to play Tests.
They were shocked when the
ZCU named them in a desperate bid to convince impatient Test nations that the
sport was not collapsing in Zimbabwe.
"The players think they are being
forced under duress to play cricket," said a spokesman for the rebels. "Even
if they reluctantly went back into the team for Saturday, it's probably not
going to fool anyone about the state of this game."
executive Vince Hogg admitted the ICC had made it clear its hopes of
surviving tonight's vote would be "very tough" if Zimbabwe fielded the same
team humiliated twice by Sri Lanka this month.
Cricket Australia chairman
Bob Merriman was heading to Harare for the phone hook-up and was expected to
join the strong Asian bloc in torpedoing the series.
has already indicated its players would not contest non-Test matches, leaving
a cloud over the tour. An extended one-day tournament, featuring the rebel
players, would create a logistical nightmare for Cricket Australia but it
remains one of the most likely options.
The tourists would not be
disappointed if the ICC scrapped the Test series. "You dont want to play Test
cricket against a weakened side in a whitewash," Shane Warne said.
Australians trained last night at the Harare Sports Club, not far from where
Streak, Ray Price, Andy Blignaut, Stuart Carlisle and Trevor Gripper were
meeting with ZCU officials.
The rebels agreed to return to one-day
cricket without achieving the demands of their strike, including changes to
selection policies and apologies for the behaviour of ZCU officials but they
were satisfied with a promise to settle the dispute through a different
MDC Legislator Munyanyi Charged With Public Violence
May 20, 2004 Posted to the web May 20,
MDC Member of Parliament for Mbare East Tichaona Jefta
Munyanyi has appeared before a Harare magistrates' court on allegations of
assaulting a man for being a Zanu-PF supporter.
Munyanyi (36) appeared
in court on Tuesday before magistrate Ms Sukai Tongogara charged with public
He was not asked to plead and was remanded to June 2 on $50 000
Prosecutor Mr Bright Magomeza said on Friday last week at Sister's
Night Club in Matapi, Mbare, Munyanyi, in the company of about 20 opposition
MDC supporters who are still at large, approached the man who was with
his friends drinking beer at the night club.
The State alleges
Munyanyi accused the man of being a ruling Zanu-PF party supporter and
He allegedly grabbed the man and hit him with a stick and
the other MDC supporters joined in and severely assaulted the man all over
The man sustained multiple injuries.
The State further
alleges that Munyanyi and his alleged gang also approached one Chakanetsa
Musonza and hit him with an empty beer bottle before shattering his car's
Musonza reported the matter to the police and Munyanyi was
subsequently arrested at Matererini Flats in Mbare.
is valued at $300 000.
In a related case, five other MDC youth activists
have appeared before the same court facing similar allegations.
Phiri (37), Chipinge Maturure (29), Goodfriday Mandizera (23), Tendai Zairo
(24) and a 17-year-old party supporter were arraigned on public violence
They were remanded to June 2 on $50 000 bail each.
alleged that the five, who are suspected to be part of Munyanyi's alleged
gang that assaulted the man at the nightclub, grouped at Number 7 Grounds in
Mbare and later went and assaulted another person.
The activists, who
were also protesting about Munyanyi's arrest, confronted police over the
The police, the State papers read, dispersed the protesters, but
the activists and their accomplices, numbering up to 20, went to Sunspun
Bananas premises in Southerton where they assaulted another man and stole two
crates of bananas, a pair of shoes and $200 000.
They also went to
Patti's Shopping Centre where they snatched a wallet containing $187 000 from
one Weston Kavhiya, the court heard.
High Court Quashes Newsmen's Conviction And Sentence
May 20, 2004 Posted to the web May 20,
THE High Court yesterday quashed the conviction and
sentence imposed on three former newsmen of the Standard by a magistrate
court in June 2000.
Former editor Andy Moyse, Clive Wilson the paper's
former publisher and reporter Chenge-tayi Zvauya had been each fined $18 000
for criminal defamation over a story incorrectly stating that the draft
constitution, produced by the Government in 2000, was printed before an
inquiry was launched.
The three appealed to the High Court against
both the conviction and sentence saying the magistrate court had misdirected
itself in finding them guilty of the crime.
In his ruling Justice
Lawrence Kamocha set aside the lower court's decision for lack of
"The appeal succeeds. Both the conviction and sentence is set
aside," said Justice Kamo-cha.
The full reasons for the judgment were
not yet available yesterday.
The trial court heard that the Standard
story headlined "Draft printed ahead of results" said the draft constitution
was printed in September 1999 and prepared before the outreach programme by
the Constitu-tional Commission was complete.
This meant that the draft
excluded the people's views.
From the story, readers understood that
members of the Constitutional Commission had lied when they said that the
draft was prepared on November 29 1999, the court heard.
of the story were said to have been defamatory of the whole commission and
that the false reports were likely to affect the interests of the State and
(AP)--Britain's minister for Africa on Thursday urged Zimbabwe's autocratic
leader to listen to his neighbors, whom he said were suffering the
consequences of the country's spiraling decline.
Mugabe "doesn't listen very much to what Britain has to say," Chris Mullin
said on a two-day visit to Mozambique. "I think he must listen to what other
African countries and other African leaders have to say."
Zimbabwe's often-violent seizure of thousands of white-owned farms
for redistribution to blacks has plunged the country into political and
economic chaos. Mugabe's government is also cracking down on dissent,
arresting political opponents, shutting down the only independent daily
newspaper and packing the courts with sympathetic judges.
African leaders have drawn criticism for not being outspoken about the
abuses, he said many were privately unhappy about the harmful effects on
their economies. Thousands of refugees have also spilled into neighboring
"I think people should be asking themselves why a
country which was once the bread basket of southern Africa and one of the
most prosperous and developed countries ... has been reduced to ruins in such
a short period," Mullin said after a meeting with Mozambique Prime Minister
Mullin arrived in Mozambique on Thursday for meetings
with political leaders on the country's upcoming elections. He also plans to
visit development projects supported by Britain.
four-day African trip also included a stop in South Africa, where he met with
the two deputy foreign ministers and civil society leaders.
Among the issues discussed were the establishment of a new international
commission aiming to tackle Africa's woes, including poverty, conflict and
HIV/AIDS. British Prime Minister Tony Blair launched the Commission for
Africa in February, and it held its first meeting in London earlier this
AI Index: AFR 46/015/2004
(Public) News Service No: 129 20 May 2004
Zimbabwe: Amnesty opposes
extradition of alleged mercenaries to Equatorial Guinea Amnesty
International is concerned by reports that Zimbabwe plans to extradite 69
alleged mercenaries to Equatorial Guinea because they will be at grave risk
of torture and unfair trial procedures, and could face the death
The 69 men were arrested, along with one other man, in Harare on
7 March 2003. They have been linked to a group of 15 men arrested on 9 March
2004 in Malabo, Equatorial Guinea and accused of plotting a coup against
the President of Equatorial Guinea, Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo.
March Amnesty International expressed concern that some, if not all, of the
15 suspected mercenaries detained in Equatorial Guinea had been
severely tortured, allegedly leading to the death of one of them, Gerhard
Eugen Nershz, on 17 March. The Equatorial Guinean authorities publicly
admitted his death but attributed it to "cerebral malaria". However, there
is reliable information that he showed signs of having been tortured and
was very ill and the prison authorities denied him prompt medical treatment.
He died shortly after being taken to hospital.
reiterates its opposition to all military, security and police transfers
which contribute to human rights violations. Mercenaries operate outside the
military disciplinary and legal system and the established military chain of
command. Accordingly, Amnesty International has welcomed efforts, such as
under South Africa's Foreign Military Assistance Act, to establish
legislative controls over mercenary activities. However, any person arrested
on suspicion of such activities has the right not to be subjected to torture
and the right to a fair trial. Amnesty International also opposes the use of
the death penalty.The 70 men arrested in Zimbabwe have been charged with a
number of offences under Zimbabwean law, including violations of aviation,
immigration and firearms legislation and with contravening the Public Order
and Security Act. Their trial in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison is at a
preliminary stage.Fears that they would be extradited were fuelled when, in
April, Zimbabwe added Equatorial Guinea to the list of countries with which
it has an extradition agreement. Since then Amnesty International has
received information that an extradition request made by the Equatorial
Guinean authorities for the extradition of 69 of the 70 men exists, and makes
specific reference to their involvement in the alleged coup plot. Amnesty
International further understands that the Zimbabwean Ministry of Foreign
Affairs has recommended that Zimbabwe should accede to the extradition
request.Amnesty International has documented for many years the routine use
of torture in detention facilities in Equatorial Guinea. Accused persons are
also subjected to trial proceedings which routinely fail to meet
international standards of fair trial. When imposed, the death penalty is
swiftly applied. In addition it is likely that these detainees will be tried
by a military court using summary procedures and from which there is no right
of appeal. The organization believes that Equatorial Guinea's human rights
record should rule out any consideration of extraditing the alleged
mercenaries detained in Zimbabwe to that country. "The Government of Zimbabwe
should not hand over detainees to Equatorial Guinea because of the serious
risk of human rights violations," Amnesty International urged. All of the 70
alleged mercenaries being detained in Zimbabwe reportedly hold South African
citizenship. The majority of those held in Equatorial Guinea hold South
Amnesty International supports the South African
Human Rights Commission's action on 11 May calling on the government of South
Africa to defend the right of its citizens detained in Equatorial Guinea and
Zimbabwe to a fair trial and humane conditions of detention.
South African government should investigate the grounds for requesting their
extradition to South Africa in terms of the Foreign Military Assistance Act
and oppose the extradition of any of the South Africans in Zimbabwe to
Equatorial Guinea," Amnesty International said.
Anti-White Protests Break Out in Zimbabwe Peta
Thornycraft Harare 20 May 2004, 18:13 UTC
A crowd of several
thousand ruling party supporters, shouting anti-white slogans, demonstrated
Thursday outside Zimbabwe's parliament and then broke into the headquarters
of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party. The target of
the protest was the MDC member of parliament, Roy Bennett, who shoved two
cabinet ministers during a heated debate in parliament Tuesday. Early
Thursday the MDC evacuated its city center headquarters after being warned
that the ruling Zanu PF planned a demonstration. Several thousand, mostly
young people gathered outside parliament, carrying posters denouncing Mr.
The protesters, shouting anti-white slogans, broke down the
front gate of the building while the police were watching.
investigation of Tuesday's scuffle in the parliament, which sparked the
demonstrations, was postponed because of continuing tension in the center of
Harare. The probe is to determine whether Mr. Bennett, who shoved two
ministers during a heated parliamentary debate, should
Elsewhere in Zimbabwe, John Houghton, the elected white
mayor of the resort town of Kariba, sent out an alert that he is barricaded
in to his home by Zanu PF supporters.
Isolated reports of other
disturbances in which whites appear to be the target are also coming in from
other parts of the country.
Zimbabwe's white population has shrunk to
between 20,000 to 30,000 in recent years and white families continue to leave
Zimbabwe to settle mostly in Australia or New Zealand.
Mugabe supporters smash opposition offices in demo
20, 2004, 19:11
Supporters of president Robert Mugabe smashed up the
entrance of the opposition's headquarters today during a protest sparked by a
scuffle between lawmakers over the seizure of white owned farms, witnesses
Roy Bennett of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) knocked
Patrick Chinamasa, the justice minister, to the floor in parliament on
Tuesday after a dispute over the government's seizure of his farm as part of
its policy to redistribute land to blacks.
Today riot police, some
accompanied by dogs, cordoned off the entrance to the MDC's offices, holding
back about 2 000 angry supporters of the ruling Zanu (PF) party who sang
revolutionary songs and waved placards denouncing Bennett.
building's glass entrance lay smashed, and witnesses said the crowd
had earlier tried to force their way inside.
The MDC has apologised
for Tuesday's incident, but said Bennett had responded to extreme provocation
and racial slurs from Chinamasa. - Reuters
Few options left for independent press - MISA JOHANNESBURG, 20 May 2004
(IRIN) - The Zimbabwe office of the Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
has slammed the arrest and detention of the editor of independent newspaper
Editor Bornwell Chakaodza and reporter Valentine Maponga
were arrested on Wednesday for contravening the Public Order and Security Act
(POSA) when The Standard published a report on the murder of a mining
The Standard had published an article in which relatives of slain
nickel mining executive Leonard Chimimba allegedly implicated government
officials in his death. Chimimba had reportedly been assisting police
investigating the disappearance of truckloads of nickel.
Zimbabwe information officer, Rashweat Mukundu, told IRIN on Thursday that
the two were questioned by police for several hours before they were released
on Wednesday night.
Mukundu said the two journalists "were released last
night [Wednesday] around 7pm, and police said they would proceed by way of a
summons, should they need to pursue the matter. The police questioned them
and they signed warned-and-cautioned statements before their
"This is the same kind of harassment we have seen the police
and army perpetrate on the private media since POSA and the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Since the closure of the Daily
News, the only independent voices are The Independent, The Standard, and the
Financial Gazette ... it's clear the intention of the government is to close
those remaining voices," Mukundu remarked.
He added: "As we go towards
elections in 2005, we are likely to see quite a lot of this kind of
harassment, to stop the private media from being critical of some policies
affecting Zimbabweans, and reporting on incidents [likely to embarrass
He noted that there "seem to be very few options left for
the media in Zimbabwe", and called for "pressure from the [Southern African]
region" to help preserve media freedom.
Roy Bennett, the MP for
Chimanimani no longer qualifies to set foot in Manicaland province because of
his recent conduct in parliament, Mike Madiro, Zanu PF's Manicaland
provincial chairman has declared. Madiro said this yesterday while addressing
thousands of ruling party supporters in Mutare, who had converged to express
outrage over Bennett's assault in parliament of the august House's leader,
Patrick Chinamasa. "Bennett has openly declared war against the province
under which his constituency falls. As such we are going to retaliate by all
possible means as a province. We no longer want him in the province and he
should never dare risk his life by coming here. It is still a fact that
Bennett is still colonially minded and still believes he can treat blacks the
same way his fellow whites ill-treated our forefathers," Madiro said. The
opposition MP pounced on Chinamasa when the latter had referred to him as "an
inheritor of looted wealth" and added that he "owned the whole of
Chimanimani." Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Civic Education Trust (ZIMCET) has
described Bennett's behaviour as "barbaric unbecoming behaviour." "Experience
has shown that violence does not solve disputes, rather it tends to
exacerbate it. ZIMCET does not believe that there is anything that can not be
solved through dialogue and therefore the actions of the MP are condemned in
the strongest terms,' said the group's executive director, David Chimhini.
Also reacting to the incident, the MDC has blamed both Bennett and Chinamasa
for the parliamentary drama adding that both MPs "must be held accountable.'
The party's spokesperson, Paul Themba Nyathi said "whilst the actions of
Bennett are not to be condoned neither should the "abusive, demeaning,
hurtful, wicked, barbaric and provocative racial and personal slurs and
insults hurled at Bennett by the Minister."
with the domestic debt which, according to Former Finance Minister Simba
Makoni, had become a " . . . heavy albatross round the neck of the country"
(2001 national budget statement, p17) as it had engendered serious
macroeconomic instabilities through high budget deficits, the government
embarked on a programme to restructure its debt in 2001.
January 5 2001, a disproportionately large amount of domestic debt of some
Z$154 billion or 94 percent of total central government domestic debt was
held in teasury bills with maturities of not more than 91 days. As a result,
the government sought to restructure the domestic debt so that at least 30
percent would become medium- to long-term, while not more than 70 percent
would be treasury bills of 91 days, six months and one
The domestic debt restructuring exercise
registered a short-term success as the share of short-term debt had, by the
end of June 2001, declined to 72 percent from 94 percent at the end of 2000.
Government debt with a tenure of two or more years increased from six percent
to 28 percent, a development that had a positive effect of reducing pressure
on servicing of government debt.
Encouraged by these results,
the government sought to intensify the restructuring exercise in 2002 by
planning to increase the proportion of medium- to long-term debt to at least
Further progress on the debt restructuring exercise did
not materialise because of the weakening of monetary policy through
lower interest rates to allow the government to borrow cheaply and
support productive and export sectors of the economy, which triggered
the hyperinflation environment that the monetary authorities are
currently grappling with.
The lower interest rates were achieved
through the creation of surplus liquidity conditions through two methods: (a)
the partial rollover of maturing treasury bills and (b) making use of the
government's overdraft facility to fund its expenditure.
Reflecting the surplus liquidity conditions on the money market, yields on
91-day treasury bills fell from 54.4 percent at the end of December 2000 to
15.5 percent in June 2001, before ending the year slightly higher at 29.6
percent. Rates on 90-day negotiable certificates of deposit ( NCDs) fell by
31 percentage points to around 24 percent during the
During the year 2002, interest rates softened
further, with the 91-day yield declining from 30.8 percent in January to 26
percent in December, while the 90-day NCD rates remained stable, rising by
only four percentage points to 34 percent during the same
In 2003, there was growing realisation and pressure for the
need to allow interest rates to rise so as to fight inflation, but this
was temporarily reversed when the President expressed his reservations about
a continued increase in interest rates.
This saw yields on
91-day treasury bills, which had increased from 25.8 percent in January to
54.5 percent in June, being kept in a narrow range of between 57 percent and
59 percent until October before tight liquidity conditions that characterised
the last quarter of the year saw rates firming to 66.5 percent in
Rates on private sector paper were, however, difficult to
contain in a high-inflation environment and very short market. As a result,
the 90-day NCD rates firmed from 38 percent at the beginning of the year to
75 percent in June. By the end of the year, the rate had shot to 350
Reflecting this weakening of monetary policy, the annual
rate of inflation, which had fallen to 56.3 percent in December 2000 from 62
percent in September, embarked on a three-year upward trend, which coincides
with the duration of the weak monetary policy period
Inflation opened the year 2001 at 57 percent and by
mid-year it had risen to 64.4 percent and further to 112.1 percent by
In 2002, inflation rose from 116.7 percent in January to
198.9 percent in December, while in 2003, it rose by an unprecedented 390.6
percentage points to 598.7 percent.
Due to the political backing
that had been given to the low interest rate policy, just like was the case
with a strong exchange rate, it took serious lobbying by the business
community to change this perception by the authorities so as to have the
necessary political will needed to tighten monetary policy in a bid to break
the strong inflation spiral that had become entrenched.
regard, real interest rates are now positive as the Reserve Bank has
introduced a positive real interest rate policy of between 10 percent and 20
percent. For instance, if we take the April 2004 inflation rate of 505
percent, the nominal interest rate that is consistent with this inflation
rate, assuming daily compounding, is 180 percent.
Given a positive
real interest level of between 10 and 20 percent, this means that the nominal
90-day NCD rate, for example, should be between 190 percent and 200 percent.
Similarly, a compounded nominal interest rate that is consistent with the RBZ
year-end inflation rate forecast of 200 percent is 110 percent. This means
that nominal interest rates should be hovering between 120 percent and 130
percent by year-end.
It is against this background of the return of
market-related interest rates through the re-establishment of positive real
interest rates, coupled with an enforcement of the prescribed asset ratios
for pension funds and insurance companies, that I am of the view that the
domestic debt restructuring exercise might experience some
Although the two stock issues floated so far are
attractive if we go with the RBZ inflation view, which seems realistic,
investors are not keen on meeting the prescribed asset ratios in one or two
issues but a number of them so as to avoid concentration risk. This means the
RBZ should issue more stocks if it is to get the required money from
investors who do not want to put all their eggs in one basket.
At the same time the authorities should remain steadfast in their economic
restructuring exercise if they are to build confidence and trust with the
investing community and other important stakeholders in general. This
includes the continued presence of political will, and avoidance of policy
reversals. Concrete steps that point to a re-engagement with
the international donor community should continue to be visible.
THE abuse of Iraqi prisoners by
American and British soldiers has received saturation coverage
The media, including the Zimbabwean government's
mouthpieces, have been unanimous in their condemnation of the humiliation and
barbaric treatment the inmates have been subjected to.
as it should be. The observance and protection of human rights is not
optional but imperative.
Every decent human being should be
horrified when the intrinsic worth and inalienable rights of other human
beings anywhere on the globe are ignored, questioned or denied. This is an
issue when there should be no compromise whatsoever.
involvement of the coalition forces that invaded Iraq a year ago in these
heinous acts is particularly repugnant, inexcusable and unacceptable because
they went into that country to rescue a population that had already endured
35 years of Saddam Hussein's tyranny. They deserved a break rather than more
For these supposed liberators to replace the former
dictator's unfathomable cruelty and barbarism with a Western brand is a
shameful display of hypocrisy. The soldiers' despicable behaviour deserves to
be condemned in the strongest possible terms.
horrendous misdeeds were committed by soldiers representing two of the
foremost exponents of democracy in the Western world underscores the fact
that no country, no matter how mighty, is above reproach and scrutiny. In
other words, no country has a "sovereign" right to violate the rights of its
citizens or anybody else's.
However, it has to be said that the
redeeming factor in this abhorrent situation is the preparedness of US
President George W Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair to accept that
transgressions were committed. There is a big difference between atrocities
ordered by a government as official policy and those committed by wayward
In my opinion, these two leaders have shown political
maturity by being ready to eat humble pie before the whole world and
apologising for the barbarity of their military forces. They have pledged
their determination to ensure that thorough investigations are conducted so
that all culprits can be brought to book.
This is a far cry from
what happens in many countries, where tyrannical regimes do not give a hoot
about human rights and in fact ensure their political survival by subjecting
entire populations to inhumane treatment.
Take our own country,
for example. The gloating by the state media about the coalition forces'
transgressions cannot wipe our own government's slate clean. It only serves
to remind us how many skeletons this regime has in its own
The Matabeleland massacres, in which more than 20 000
civilians were killed, occurred more than 20 years ago. Yet in all that time,
there has been no single occasion when the powers-that-be have offered an
apology for the atrocities to the nation and to the families of the
Not a single undertaking has been made to investigate what
happened during this dark period of our history so as to bring offenders to
book and afford the affected families closure.
efforts have been made to suppress the findings of independent organisations
that undertook to discover the truth on this matter. Even more strenuous
efforts have been made to forestall any scrutiny of current goings-on in
The government has turned a deaf ear to persistent
charges of human rights violations and the absence of the rule of law. It has
not been brave and mature enough to do what the American and British
governments have done with regard to the Iraqi abuses.
the regime has made it clear that because Zimbabwe is a "sovereign" state, no
one else should talk about these issues.
Hiding behind the cloak of
sovereignty has enabled the government to muzzle the media by way of the
archaic Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), which
makes it a criminal offence to scrutinise and criticise government actions
Journalists who have tried to report truthfully and
objectively on the state of affairs in the country have been subjected to
harassment, arrest, violence and deportation.
And yet despite
its misguided belief that the Iraq scandal means it has been vindicated of
its own abuses, our government has many important lessons to
The first is the fundamental importance of free speech in a
democracy. It is only the existence of guarantees protecting the right of
individuals to speak freely, to organise in groups, to question the decision
of the government and to campaign openly against it that has enabled the
media in America and Britain to expose the goings-on in Iraq.
is well known that far worse horrors than the soldiers' perverse acts
occurred under Saddam's tyrannical rule. The world never got to know about
them because that dictator clamped down on civil liberties in the same manner
our government is doing. And yet no government has the right to establish
absolute standards of what is true and what is false as ours has done through
Believers in democracy insist on free speech and a free
press out of recognition that no one is infallible. Our government has yet to
learn to accept that other people can be right and it might be
Moreover, freedom of speech is not merely the right of
individuals to speak their minds or journalists to report events truthfully.
It is, more importantly, the right of the rest of the populace to hear
different viewpoints. Why is the Zimbabwean government so averse to such
a dispensation if it has nothing to hide?
John Staurt Mill, who
staunchly defended free speech in his Essay on Liberty, has said: "The
peculiar evil of silencing the expression of opinion is that it is robbing
the human race. If the opinion is right they are deprived of the opportunity
of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose what is almost as great a
benefit - the clearer perception and livelier impression of truth, produced
by its collision with error."
The search for truth is endless.
Someone has said "it involves the possibility - even the inevitability - of
According to American jurist Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes,
this means not only freedom of expression for those who agree with us "but
freedom for the thought we hate."
Another American judge,
Justice Robert Jackson, pointed out that freedom of speech is not merely
freedom to express ideas that differ from ours but on things that go to the
heart of the matter.
Against this background, it is necessary to
point out that the conduct of American soldiers in Iraq is as reprehensible
and unacceptable as the escapades of the "Green Bombers" who have been
accused of murder, torture, rape, etc. The allegations made against the
coalition forces in Iraq are as serious as those of brutality and lack of
professionalism levelled against our army and police force.
question is: why are our leaders not honest, principled and man enough to
respond to these accusations as Bush and Blair have done by ordering thorough
BARCLAYS Bank of
Zimbabwe Limited has been drawn into the evolving Kondozi saga following
moves by the police to launch an investigation into alleged foreign exchange
control violations by Canvest Farming, commonly known as
Sources told The Financial Gazette that the police had
visited Barclays' Mutare branch a couple of weeks ago but were referred to
the bank's Kurima House branch in Harare, where the Canvest account was
The former owners of Kondozi, which has been at the epicentre
of a spat involving the government's Agricultural and Rural Development
Authority (ARDA), which forcibly took over the farm last month, are now under
probe for alleged foreign currency externalisation.
an Export Processing Zone (EPZ) agro-concern and, prior to the announcement
of the new monetary policy in December, enjoyed concessions on foreign
Barclays' company secretary, Tamara Moyana,
confirmed that Canvest was being probed by police and that the bank had been
brought into the investigations.
"We are Kondozi's bankers and
the police are investigating Kondozi. We are assisting with the
investigations. I wouldn't say we have been dragged in as such because the
investigations are centred on Kondozi," Moyana said.
however, indicated that the police wanted to establish if Barclays had not
abetted the alleged exchange control violations.
comment, Piet de Klerk, one of the directors of Canvest and a co-signatory to
the account, denied knowledge of the police action.
nonsense . . . a malicious rumour. I have been with my banker this morning
and nothing of that sort has been brought to my attention," de Klerk
Observers have questioned the timing of the move to probe
Canvest which, under previous rules governing EPZ firms, was not subject
to surrender arrangements put in place by the government to bolster
the country's tenuous foreign currency reserves.
Gideon Gono last December announced that locally owned EPZ firms would now be
subject to the same surrender arrangements applicable to all other exporting
Locally owned EPZ firms raked in US$136.1 million in
2002 and, by August last year, had realised some US$35.1
Canvest is 52 percent owned by journalist-turned
horticulture businessman Edwin Moyo, while Adrian Zeederburg and the de Klerk
family own the remainder in equal parts.
acquisition of the lucrative Kondozi farm has been a divisive matter, with
several prominent ZANU PF officials finding themselves on opposing sides on
the highly publicised affair.
Vice President Joseph Msika has
openly voiced his displeasure at the acquisition, that has thrown over 5 000
workers on the streets, while Cabinet ministers Jonathan Moyo, Joseph Made
and Chris Mushowe have vigorously defended the acquisition.
THE effects of
the government's land redistribution exercise, which was formally pronounced
complete in August 2002, continue to haunt the country's once vibrant
News that a farm belonging to Sable Chemical
Industries was invaded last week by suspected ZANU PF functionaries puts the
country's sole ammonium nitrate manufacturer on the growing list
of agricultural-cum-industrial concerns whose operations have been
destabilised by the land reform.
Anglo American Corporation's
Hippo Valley and Triangle Estates, Interfresh Limited's Mazoe Citrus Estates
and landholdings belonging to horticulture group Ariston Holdings have had
their operations disrupted by invaders who, since the invasions began in
2000, have enjoyed the tacit approval of the government.
hotly contested Kondozi farm in Odzi, a multi-billion-dollar
niche horticulture venture with established markets in Europe and South
Africa as well as an extensive outgrower network, was also forcibly taken
over by the government's Agriculture and Rural Development Authority last
All this is in spite of assurances given by the government
at the onset of the divisive land redistribution exercise that
productive agricultural enterprises and estates would be spared from
Very little progress has been made in
trying to solve disputes involving former landholders and the new settlers on
the farms, with Hippo Valley suffering probably the greatest loss in terms of
sugar production, which has plummeted since the onset of the
Only last month, the government, using new amendments
to the land acquisition law, moved to expropriate 49 properties constituting
about 24 838 hectares of the total 60 165 hectares which make up the Hippo
South African firm Tongaat Hullet has also
reported a dip in earnings from Triangle, which used to contribute up to 15
percent to the Tongaat bottom line.
Interfresh, Ariston and,
most recently, Kondozi have faced invasion-related problems at a time
agriculture and industries directly related to the sector should be
recovering from the upheaval of the past three years.
week's invasion of Sable's 65 000-acre spread in Kwekwe, where management was
reportedly given 24 hours to remove all equipment at the pump station, was
even more peculiar, considering that the government, through the Industrial
Development Corporation, owns 36 percent of Sable.
TA Holdings is
the 51 percent majority shareholder in the venture, with Norwegian firm Norsk
Hydro holding 12 percent.
Any moves to destabilise the
strategically important Sable would, in a very direct way, mean that the
government is shooting itself in the foot.
Apart from being the
country's sole manufacturer of ammonium nitrate, Sable employs over 500
people and has an annual production of about 240 000 tonnes of
Sable also provides the mining industry with critical
raw material supplies.
Operations at the firm have, in recent
years, been hamstrung by debilitating price controls imposed by the
Sources close to the developments at the Sable farm say
the battle with the invaders, who have been linked to a senior ZANU PF
official by management at Sable, was over the pump station, which supplies
water to the electrolysis plant.
Analysts and commentators have
cautioned that as long as the government does not come out with a clear
position on the property rights of investors operating agri-processing
concerns on farmland, critical foreign direct investment in the sector would
not be realised.
"Almost every major agri-processing concern has
some land reform ulcers to contend with. Who will invest in such an
environment where you cannot guarantee continued operations for both the
processors and their outgrowers?
"Let us have a clear policy
which clearly indicates a break with the recent past and charts a way forward
in terms of resuscitating commercial agriculture," one economist, who spoke
on condition of anonymity, said.
AT the same time, there has been an attempt to
bring some sanity to the foreign currency market by introducing a
state-controlled auction. This effectively devalued the currency by 75
percent, bringing the official exchange rate up and the black market rate
down, at least temporarily.
But it has negatively affected
exporters, importers and consumers and will certainly fuel inflation further.
We are set for another round of catastrophic price rises. Where the problems
are essentially political, piecemeal policies cannot rescue us. A modern
economy cannot thrive in the absence of political stability, without
smooth linkages to the international players.
On the economic side,
then, 2004 is likely to bring us only misery. What of the political? It is
encouraging that through all the intimidation and violence the opposition MDC
has managed to survive, maintain its structures and has held together in
spite of a wide internal divergence of ideological positions. It contains
some individuals who have worked at great personal risk to bring
Furthermore, they deserve credit for firmly adhering to
principles of non-violence, restraining their youthful hotheads who would
prefer to answer violence with violence. It is clear, however, that elections
marked by state violence and terror will not bring change unless the
electoral ground rules are completely rewritten, and that is certainly not
going to occur in the present circumstances.
What about the mass
action route? Besides the opposition party, MDC, several civil society
organisations have raised their voices against government policies.
These include the labour federation, ZCTU, the National
Constitutional Assembly, some of the churches which have country
wide membership and several other NGOs.
All of them, including
the MDC, are divided between the activists who want to take to the streets
and the lobbyists, who want to push for some kind of "talks" with government.
Those in favour of street action are in a weak position. Last year (2003)
demonstrated that while people were prepared to protest by staying away from
work, they were not ready to take to the streets and face the riot police and
possibly the army.
Activists watched events unfold in the Georgian
capital Tbilisi with envy, but have been forced to admit that Zimbabweans are
simply not yet willing to take the risk. Small demonstrations organised by
the ZCTU, the NCA and WOZA, a group which organises grassroots women,
invariably resulted in arrests or police brutality or both.
masses have shied away from such action, and without the masses, this tactic
cannot shift ZANU PF in any way. But the bravery of the few, especially when
they are women, keeps the opposition visible and raises spirits and
Dialogue between ZANU PF and the MDC has been held out as the
solution by neighbouring African countries, particularly South Africa. The
purpose of such inter-party talks would be to agree to end human rights
abuses, re-establish the rule of law, and rewrite the electoral rules so that
a new election could produce a government accepted as legitimate domestically
Then a start could be made to repair the
economic damage. Such talks would have to be brokered by foreign mediators.
For the MDC, talks would be the best solution, but so far they have proved
elusive. For obvious reasons, ZANU PF is not interested and has deliberately
held out the impression to the South Africans that they were committed while
doing absolutely nothing. But it is now becoming clear that in the end,
this is the only way that a solution will be found.
PF appears to think that they have outwitted the opposition and can
hang on to power until 2005, when they will conduct an even more violent and
dishonest election which will see them clear for another
Even now they are making preparations. A new
Presidential decree has introduced the power of detention without bail, on
mere suspicion, where there is no evidence of wrong-doing. Youth militia
training is being stepped up to provide a reserve of shock troops. The United
Nations was asked to provide funding for the election, but the request was
quickly withdrawn when they proposed to send a delegation to study the
situation on the ground.
The MDC, under severe constraint from
forces of terror, unconstitutional laws, and a compliant judiciary, and the
unwillingness of their members to engage in civil disobedience, is hobbled.
It can not do much more than to hold its supporters together, plan policies
to implement if they do gain power, and work hard, as they are now
doing, to persuade African governments, particularly that of South
Africa, to apply pressure for internationally accepted
Hence the deep despair of the population. Most
Zimbabweans face the year with little hope for any early solution. But there
are signs that the logic of economic failures may finally bring the whole
edifice crashing down. Maybe enough Zimbabweans will decide that "enough is
enough" and provide the critical mass in the streets to topple ZANU
The "war on corruption" has now exposed the rot at the core and
could develop into an uncontrollable internecine struggle. The distortions in
the Zimbabwean economy have impacted heavily on the region. President
Mbeki, like Obasanjo in December, might finally decide that it is not worth
the embarrassment of continuing to support President Robert Mugabe,
whose galloping paranoia occasionally turns on Mbeki himself.
"An idea whose time has come cannot be stopped." The time for democratic
change in Zimbabwe has not yet come. But time does move fast in Zimbabwe. The
unexpected occurs on a daily basis. While today we may see little hope,
tomorrow or next week will surely be different, for ultimately time is on our
lThis article first appeared in Pambazuka News, an
electronic newsletter for social justice in Africa, www.pambazuka.org
Mugabe, whose political future has of late become a subject of heightened
speculation, has moved to patch up the cracks emerging in his ruling ZANU PF
over the emotive succession issue by announcing a distant departure
In doing so, President Mugabe, an object of bitter attacks
from Western governments led by former colonial master Britain, has confirmed
the widely held view that he was seeing out his fifth and last term in
"I want to retire from politics. I have had enough. I am
also a writer and would like to concentrate on writing after this term of
office is over. I have not even completed this term, I have four more years
and I am not so young, you know. I need to rest from politics and do
something else, like writing," President Mugabe told a visiting journalist
from the East African Standard of Kenya.
The incumbent's term of
office runs to 2008.
President Mugabe's announcement comes at a
time when there is a chorus of angry voices for him to go from both Western
governments led by Britain and the local opposition led by the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
They have been calling for his exit to
save the economy that has collapsed into a recessionary heap under his
The West, which the government accuses of wishing to
effect a regime change in Zimbabwe, believes President Mugabe no longer
enjoys public confidence and that a new man at the helm would do a better job
They also accuse President Mugabe, who became a darling
of the West when he pronounced reconciliation to heal the wounds of the
bitter war of liberation, of having become a dictator.
Zimbabwean government, which claims the economy has since bottomed out,
however, maintains its stance has not changed. If anything has changed, it is
the West's political yardstick, the government claims.
Mugabe's latest statement, political observers said, could have been prompted
by intense internal jockeying by ZANU PF bigwigs for his position that is
likely to split the party through the middle.
effectively weaken ZANU PF ahead of crucial 2005 parliamentary elections in
March next year.
The President's surprise announcement was
therefore calculated to send a clear signal to his feuding lieutenants who
had long coveted the top job that he was not, as widely expected, about to
Of late, fissures have erupted within the ruling party,
which is now riven along factional lines as members jostle for the top
President Mugabe seemed to give credence to this line of
"They are fighting and some are even consulting n'angas ,"
the 80-year-old leader said.
"It is very interesting to note
that even educated people are consulting n'angas (witchdoctors) to enhance
their chances of landing my job."
President Mugabe has in the
past decried some of the tactics employed by those fighting to step into his
shoes, saying they would divide the ruling party.
For the better
part of President Mugabe's precarious tenure, infighting in ZANU PF over the
succession issue has been subtle, mainly because succession has always been
considered to be a political hot potato.
Debate on the issue had
been largely muted until last year when President Mugabe said the party could
Prior to that, the octogenarian leader, who has ruled
Zimbabwe since 1980 after a bloody and bitter war of independence, had kept
his exit plans a closely guarded secret.
Opening up the
succession debate was the closest he ever came to hinting on his imminent
Political analyst Heneri Dzinotywei said: "The year 2008
is still far away and by announcing he would retire when his term expires, he
is merely trying to quell the potentially explosive situation in ZANU
"He wants to calm the atmosphere. He wants people to realise
there is no need to start jockeying for his position now because it's too
"It's a message to his members that he is not leaving
"So instead of wasting time jockeying for his position, they
should come together and strengthen the party."
picture is, however, emerging within the ruling party insofar as President
Mugabe's succession is concerned. There is no telling who the front-runners
for the presidency of the party are.
Parliamentary Speaker Emmerson
Mnangagwa, who was said to be President Mugabe's confidante, was at one time
thought to be the heir-apparent. His political career has, however, been on
the wane and he has since reportedly appeared before a five-member team
probing ZANU PF companies.
Others tipped to make it to the top job
include the quiet Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi, and the affable Special
Affairs Minister John Nkomo, who now ranks third in the party's hierarchy
after Vice President Joseph Msika.
Observers, however, say
President Mugabe, a shrewd politician, could settle for former Finance
Minister Simba Makoni, widely viewed as the rising star in the political
They say although Makoni might have been dumped from
Cabinet, he remains President Mugabe's favourite.
had this to say this week: "There is a general misconception that whoever
takes over from Mugabe will automatically rule the country.
a national level, if Mugabe retires before or when his term expires, we go to
"But as for ZANU PF, their constitution is very clear on
the party hierarchy. Should Mugabe step down, the next man in line for
promotion is Msika, and after him comes Nkomo.
"If they are
jockeying, it's because they want a radical change
"They probably want to inject new blood. That's
why they are fighting each other, otherwise internally they don't have a
problem in terms of the party's constitution."
Transparency International Zimbabwe and political analyst John Makumbe said:
"I think that announcement has demoralised members of the ruling party. It
has probably shocked them.
"Come 2008, ZANU PF members would have
stabbed themselves in the back so much there may be no one
"It has dealt a heavy blow to the succession debate. I
don't think his (Mugabe's) colleagues can stand another five years of
"Most of them would have vanished by
"The economy can't also stand a further five years of
IT was good to learn that after last week's
regional food meeting in Dar es Salaam, our very own Zim was honoured with
the responsibility of providing advice to other countries in the region on
how to implement successful land reforms.
We are made to believe
that what this effectively means is that we are no longer going to chaperone
only our sheepish Namibian brothers through their own land reform, but the
entire SADC region! What an honour!
After our costly
trial-and-error land reform exercise, we are now suddenly expert enough to
lecture the whole region on how to go about "revolutionising" their
CZ cannot help but just wonder what the
students will learnt from our very own Cde Dr Joseph Made!
just hope that they will not be taught about setting up needless bureaucratic
behemoths like the Agricultural Marketing Authority which the Cde Dr is
always spouting forth about day and night these days.
We just hope
that they will not be taught to muster the art of surveying national harvests
from aeroplanes and telling the world and their girlfriends that you have
more than enough when you do not even have enough to last a quarter of a
We hope the regional counterparts will not be taught how best
to seize productive farms from "enemies" and give each other 10, as well as
their best friends, their uncles and their concubines all in the name
of empowerment . . . we mean dishing out millions of hectares
through newspapers to people who do not even own a sickle, let alone a hoe,
and expecting maximum production!
We just hope these people will
not be foolish enough to be taught how to give farming inputs to lazy party
cadres who in turn sell them off to get some money for dagga and few "scuds",
all under the name of black upliftment . . . or how to pay sub-economic
producer prices in the hope of encouraging more farmers to produce
We just hope that when these people come to learn from the
Zim example, they will be keen to learn more of the things they should never
do than they should copy.
Our otherwise somnolent
Parliament is promising to get much more lively in the run-up to the
make-or-break 2005 elections as this week some arrogant ministers of justice
got instant justice right within the House - the way parliaments in other
democracies like Kenya, Britain, Taiwan and many others operate: where MPs
pulverise each other's faces over the smallest of issues!
commiserate with the Honourable Minister for the mortifying experience and
only hope that from now on, he will learn to use much cleaner language. We
also hope another foul-mouthed minister has also
We also commiserate with the "Rhodie" because
after this week's events in the House, he will definitely learn that mwana
wevhu haarohwe . . . that farm is now history to him and "the party's" youths
will make sure that he doesn't set his foot in Chimanimani again! Not with
ZANU PF yeropa!
Our sages always enjoin us that while it is good to
be brave and fearless, oftentimes we stand in the compound of a coward to
point at the ruins where the brave man used to live. This wisdom rings true
in all this madness!
CZ is increasingly getting
worried about the behaviour of none other than the VP, Joseph Msika, who
seems to be clashing with members of his adopted party at every
Is something going wrong in his ageing mind or, because of
old age, is he now losing that needless rancour that seems to be filling most
members of his ruling ZANU PF and is beginning to see things much clearer
Is it that he is now beginning to base his judgments
on reason rather than on raw emotion . . . hence his clashes with almost
One day he was opening a big supermarket in Mazowe and
in no time the owner of that supermarket was in all sorts of fertilisers . .
. we have since forgotten he exists!
The next time the VP was
captured on our one and only TV station telling some war veterans that the
fact that they fought for this country does not give them the right to behave
in the rambunctious way most of them do. He said some of them were actually
behaving like counter-revolutionaries.
And then came the hot
Kondozi issue. Up to this day, the old man is arguing that it was wrong to
throw away thousands of families working on such an intensive production farm
simply to please a few individuals!
Only last week, when he got the
opportunity to be acting President, he was in Mazowe again, this time
assuring some agro-industrial firms that their farms would not be
expropriated by the government, as well as advising them to beware of some
rowdy war veterans who may like to seize some shareholding in those
We wonder whether the VP is no longer attending the same
Cabinet meetings where some of the zany and warped decisions are taken and
THE very existence of all state-owned
companies has been precariously hanging in the balance for a long time now.
And it is with this in mind that we feel that the government's eleventh-hour
efforts to improve the operational efficiency of these ailing parastatals,
most of which have been exhibiting classic warning signs of collapse, were
Part of the stringent conditions recently laid down
by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe for the funding of state-owned companies
could be the fastest route to bring the parastatals, which have been
operating below the red ink line, back to the black.
conditional funding could be a cathartic turning point in the country's 20 or
so year quest to turn around the companies. This approach will make it clear
to whoever is running these enterprises that they are on notice to perform.
It means that unlike in the past, the government will not just dole out large
tranches of funds from the treasury and throw the public money into these
bottomless pits. Appointing a commission of inquiry to look into the
operations of these enterprises, as the government might have been tempted to
do, would have been not only pointless but simply bureaucratic. After all,
previous appointments of such commissions, whose findings have never been
made public and whose recommendations have never been implemented, were
emblematic of everything wrong with our system.
are part of the reason the black hole in public finances continued to grow
over the years as the government increasingly found it difficult to balance
its books. Squeezed by deep-seated corruption, which spawned underhand deals
and inefficiency, rising delinquent debts, falling revenues and politically
motivated boardroom squabbles, the parastatals continued to pressure public
finances. They drained the fiscus by remaining on a life-support system
courtesy of a government subsidy. Yet they should have contributed to the
fiscus instead of sucking it dry as has been the case.
thread runs through all the crisis-hit parastatals, underlying how
all-embracing the malady in these institutions is. Be it the ZBC, AirZim,
NRZ, NOCZIM, GMB, ZESA, Tel*One or the perennial industrial loss maker,
ZISCO, it is the same old gloomy picture. Their financial performances have
been disastrous. They are characterised by malfeasance, complacency and
downright management ineptitude, all of which have added strain to their
corporate credibility and performance. Their operations, just like many areas
of public life in Zimbabwe, have remained largely opaque and hostile to
scrutiny. Added to this, they are all clearly at sea as to how to shed their
financial handcuffs, dealing a body blow to local economic pride and
Not only that, but in almost all cases there has been
extensive political interference. Influential politicians have been accused
of parachuting their cronies into top jobs at the parastatals. Without
either the requisite qualifications or what it takes to run the institutions,
these cronies found themselves at the heart of corporate maelstrom. This
probably explains why previously, there did not seem to be any keen appetite
to reform the parastatals: it is because the politicians wanted to
cut themselves a slice from the earnings of these companies on the back
of influence-peddling and back-scratching relationships. Suffice to say
that the consequences have been tragic and disastrous.
only the Industrial Development Corporation led by Michael Ndudzo that has
remained that odd shaft of light in the dark sea of public sector corporate
failure although it has one or two non-performing assets. The sprawling
conglomerate, though a government investment vehicle, has become something
close to a byword for industrial productivity and corporate solidity. In the
12 months to December 2003, it notched up a profit of $65.5 billion. This is
an incredible performance compared to other parastatals that have rounded off
successive years with banana skins.
Hence the need to clean up the
other state-owned companies by way of a radical surgery to staunch the
seemingly never-ending haemorrhaging at those monoliths which have become a
national symbol of business corruption and greed.
even cast around for possible offshore white knight bidders for strategic
link-ups, it is imperative that these organisations fix their strategic
Admittedly, strategic alliances will be the natural next
step in the evolution of these companies for technology transfer purposes.
But any attempt to dispose of them in their current state would see
bargain-hunting foreign predators snapping up the family silver for a song.
As things stand right now, their state is rather anxious and that is not the
easiest bargaining position to start from.
It is also important
to point out that settling for technical partners after turnarounds would
afford Zimbabwe the luxury of selecting strong strategic partners who would
add value to the businesses rather than having to necessarily settle for the
on the banks of the river Beaulieu in Hampshire is a rambling house named
Inchmery. Today its eight hectares of pasture are placid, but half a century
ago they were a training ground for Polish paratroopers preparing for D-Day.
When an old pine tree blew over in a storm several years ago it was found to
be riddled with bullets from the Poles' target practice. For a man in search
of a life less ordinary, the intrigue attached to the property must have
seemed irresistible. In 1997, Simon Mann bought it.
Spring may be turning
to summer, but Mann can only imagine the clear views across the mouth of the
Beaulieu river and the Solent to the Isle of Wight. Since March 7 his home
has been a 4m by 1,5m solitary confinement cell in Chikurubi prison, a
maximum-security facility outside the Zimbabwean capital of Harare, where,
his lawyer claims, he has been tortured, assaulted by prison officers,
suffered lice, inedible food and general deprivation.
Mann is accused of
planning to overthrow the government of Equatorial Guinea by leading a
mercenary force into the capital, Malabo, and kidnapping or killing the
president. His lawyers are fighting a formal extradition request from the
West African country, where, it is safe to assume, prison conditions will be
It is a story with implausible characters and plot twists.
There is the alleged cannibal dictator, his playboy son and scheming
relatives. There is the offshore oil waiting to make millionaires out of
those audacious or desperate enough to seize it. There is the exiled
politician and the Chelsea plutocrat. There is the planeload of mercenaries
stopping in Harare to pick up weapons. And, at the heart of it all, there is
Simon Mann. How the plot went awry and landed this unusual Englishman in
manacles may come to be judged as the end of an era of white buccaneers who
thought they ruled Africa.
The 51-year-old has spent most of his
career in the murky world of special forces and the mercenary. He is an
establishment deviant. The son of an England cricket captain who made a
fortune from the Watney's brewing empire, he was educated at Eton and
Sandhurst and joined the Scots Guards, one of the more pukka regiments of the
royal household. But he hungered for something more. He passed the gruelling
selection procedure for the SAS at the first try and became a troop commander
in 22 SAS, specialising in intelligence and counter terrorism. He served in
Cyprus, Germany, Norway, Canada, central America and Northern Ireland. So
far, so conventional; he was not out of place among the dukes and earls of
White's, London's oldest club, where he was a member.
But in 1981 he
left the army. "I think he wanted a new challenge, and after a while some
people find army life a little bit mundane," says a former colleague. The
adventures on which he embarked as a result would lead him, eventually, to a
cell, decked in khaki prison garb, his life in ruins. He has authorised the
sale of his Aerostar jet to pay for defence lawyers and parcels of food,
toilet paper and toothpaste for himself and his co-accused. "Amanda [Mann's
wife] worries the house may also have to go," says a friend in South
Unravelling the riddle of Simon Mann is not easy when even
relatives were kept ignorant of his activities. "I only really know as much
as you," his father-in-law, Maurice, a retired accountant from north London,
tells The Guardian. "I know nothing about his business -- it was as big a
shock to me as to you." But enough fragments emerge to build a picture of a
complex character, part thrill-seeker, part businessman, who mined Africa's
wars for profit before coming unstuck in a deal too far. If convicted on
firearms and public-order offences, Mann may shuffle out of Chikurubi prison
in his 70s. If extradited to Equatorial Guinea he could face the death
penalty. Last month, one of the alleged "advance party" of mercenaries died
in Black Beach prison in Malabo. Authorities there blamed malaria, but local
reports said he had died after being tortured.
Mann began his
post-army freelance career quietly enough, selling supposedly hack-proof
computer software. But he soon moved into the security business, reportedly
providing bodyguards to wealthy Arabs to protect their Scottish estates from
poachers, before briefly being persuaded back into uniform in 1990 to serve
on British Gulf war commander Sir Peter de la Billiere's staff in Riyadh. In
1993 he set up a mercenary outfit, Executive Outcomes, with the controversial
entrepreneur Tony Buckingham. It made a fortune protecting oil installations
from rebels in Angola's civil war.
In 1995 when EO became too
high-profile, he set up an offshoot, Sandline International, with another
ex-Scots Guard, Lieutenant-Colonel Tim Spicer, and shipped arms to Sierra
Leone in contravention of a UN embargo. "Mann would not have been one of the
front-line guys in choppers, more the businessman in the suit," says Will
Reno, an American politics professor who specialises in African
An estimated $10-million made, Mann stepped down a gear.
According to the land registry, he bought Inchmery, a former residence of the
Rothschild family, in 1997 in the name of Myers Developments, a firm
registered in the offshore tax haven of Guernsey. Under the advertisement,
"Is this the most beautiful beach house in the country?" he then rented it
out and moved to Cape Town.
Already with three children from two
previous marriages, Mann had another three with his new wife, Amanda, and
settled at 18 Duckitt Avenue, a R2,4-million Cape Dutch gabled house in
Constantia, a secluded suburb beloved by British expatriates such as Earl
Spencer and Mark Thatcher. He went fishing, bought sculpture and threw dinner
parties for a small set of friends. "They seemed very happy," says Donald
Greig, a jeweller who knew the couple. But no one seemed to know Mann's
source of income. "He was a very private sort of person," says Rupert Wragg,
a schoolfriend who also ended up in Cape Town.
But not, it seems,
entirely private. In a bizarre twist, Mann agreed to play the part of Colonel
Derek Wilford, commander of the paratroopers who fired on marchers in Derry,
in a gritty television reconstruction of Bloody Sunday. In an interview with
this newspaper in 2002, Mann suggested he had taken part in the film partly
to defend the army (though he admitted Bloody Sunday was a "cock-up"), and
partly, he said, to aid the peace process.
The director, Paul Greengrass,
found Mann one of the most interesting, thoughtful and courageous people he
had ever met. "He is a humane man, but an adventurer. He is very English, a
romantic, tremendously good company."
What happened next suggests that
the adventurer did not fully grasp how easily things can go wrong, though his
motives may have been pragmatic -- it is rumoured that Mann needed the money.
Whatever the reason, Mann embarked on a monumental blunder.
Guinea is a small, malarial country in west Africa ruled by a tyrant, Teodoro
Obiang Nguema Mbasogo, who pockets vast profits from offshore oil drilling.
He wants his favourite son, a dangerous playboy known as Teodorin, to succeed
him, a prospect that frightens powerful relatives. Severo Moto Nsa, an exiled
opposition politician who claims the president has eaten human testicles,
also feels threatened by the succession.
President Obiang accuses Ely
Calil, a Chelsea-based tycoon, of plotting a coup to vault his friend Severo
Moto into power in return for oil concessions. Both men rubbish the
allegation. Details are murky but there is strong evidence of a two-pronged
plot. Since last year, Nick du Toit, a South African former mercenary, has
forged ties with one faction of the ruling clan involving fishing rights and
customs control. It is rumoured that his real task was to somehow nobble the
military, especially the president's Moroccan bodyguards, to clear the way
for a small invasion force.
The second prong was to be led by Du
Toit's former commanding officer at Executive Outcomes, Mann. Allegedly
promised $5-million at meetings with Calil and Severo Moto last year, he
recruited 66 veterans of apartheid South Africa's bush wars, many of them
black mercenaries from Angola and Namibia. They are thought to have trained
at a farm south of Johannesburg. The alleged plan was to collect a
consignment of AK-47 rifles, mortar bombs and 30 000 rounds of ammunition and
fly to Equatorial Guinea.
At 7.30pm on March 7 a Boeing 727-100 recently
purchased by Mann's company, Logo Logistics, was impounded after arriving at
Harare. The crew and passengers were arrested, as was Mann, who had arrived
several days earlier and was waiting at the airport. Soon afterwards, Du Toit
and 14 others were arrested in Malabo and the governments of Equatorial
Guinea and Zimbabwe were boasting about foiling a coup.
those in Harare say that the men were on their way to Congo to guard diamond
mines, so there was nothing sinister about the $190 000 Mann has admitted
paying the state-owned Zimbabwe Defence Industries for weapons. "They were
set up," says Alwyn Griebenow, their lawyer. However, a written confession
purportedly from Mann and dated March 9, which was leaked to a South African
newspaper, admits the coup plot. Griebenow says it had no legal standing and
prosecutors had not cited it. In the only public hearing so far, Mann
rebuffed journalists with the words "I have nothing to say." One observer
said he looked like Richard Burton in The Wild Geese.
Doubters of the
coup plot point to anomalies. Some of the arrested men were in their 60s and
unfit. Many had good jobs and did not need the money. The flight plan went
only as far as Burundi. These are intriguing points, but explainable by haste
and incompetence: "Amateur hour. It was doomed to fail because they had
absolutely no respect for operational security. Everybody knew it was
happening," scorns one aquaintance of Mann, one of several security sources
who claims to have known of the coup months in advance.
One version is
that South African intelligence infiltrated the group and tipped off Harare
and Malabo. Another is that Mann's arms deal was not squared with key players
in Zimbabwe who therefore sabotaged it. Another is that the plotters were
manipulated by Malabo's ruling family.
For all his sophistication, Mann
appears not to have read the hidden agendas, or realised that Africa is no
longer the pushover it once was, argues Reno. "Good lord, what idiots, the
whole thing seems inept. Are they just ignorant about what goes on in these
places?" States are stronger than they were a few decades ago. So too is
regional cooperation through bodies such as the African Union, which makes it
much more difficult, though not impossible, for mercenaries to topple
governments. "I think this story marks the end of an era," says