SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki this week stepped up efforts to
resolve the crisis in Zimbabwe, as other groups also weighed in to get the
country back to normal.
Mbeki on Tuesday dispatched one of the members of his mediation team
to Harare, Foreign Affairs Director-General Dr Ayanda Ntsaluba, to meet
government officials and other political players. Ntsaluba was expected to
meet Foreign Affairs permanent secretary Joey Bimha who last week said Mbeki
had the full backing of government in fulfilling his mandate. He is racing
against time ahead of next year's crucial elections.
Although his visit was presented as merely administrative, sources
said Ntsaluba, accompanied by his ministry's Chief Director for Southern
Africa, Tselane Mokuena, had meetings with influential political players. He
was also expected to meet former cabinet ministers to exchange notes on
Mbeki has appointed his Local Government minister Sydney Mufamadi,
Director-General in the Presidency Reverend Frank Chikane, Deputy Foreign
Affairs minister Aziz Pahad, his legal advisor Mojanku Gumbi, and Ntsaluba
to form the Zimbabwe mediation team.
Mufamadi recently came to Zimbabwe and held secret talks with
President Robert Mugabe and his two Vice-Presidents, Joseph Msika and Joice
Mujuru. Mbeki's team has also met MDC representatives Welshman Ncube and
Sources said Zanu PF negotiators, Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa
and his Labour colleague Nicholas Goche had met with Mbeki's team.
Mbeki was in March appointed by Sadc leaders to deal with Zimbabwe,
now officially a regional trouble spot.
The African Union Pan-African Parliament which sits in South Africa
recently adopted a resolution on a motion to send a fact-finding mission to
Zimbabwe to investigate human rights abuses. The visit was later deferred to
November, apparently because Pretoria intervened behind-the-scenes to avoid
sinking Mbeki's initiative.
The AU chairman Ghanaian President John Kufuor recently said he was
embarrassed by events in Zimbabwe.
Last week he said he hoped Mbeki would crack the Zimbabwe logjam.
While Harare got a reprieve on AU pressure, the African, Caribbean and
Pacific-European Union Joint Parliamentary Assembly is pushing to send a
fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe to probe human rights abuses.
MDC MP Nelson Chamisa, who is a member of the ACP-EU forum, was in
March attacked at Harare International Airport on his way to a meeting of
the grouping in Brussels. In reaction, the assembly on March 21 released a
statement condemning the attack and calling for a full investigation.
Nothing serious has been done.
G8 chair Angela Merkel told a meeting of the African Partnership Forum
in Berlin yesterday that Southern African leaders should do more about the
situation in Zimbabwe. She warned that gains from such partnerships were at
risk because of the way the continent was seen to handle crises such as
those in Zimbabwe, Darfur and Somalia.
Yesterday the Geneva-based Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions
(Cohre) said at The Hague that Operation Murumbatsvina was a crime against
humanity and should be taken to the International Criminal Court. The group
wants the United Nations Security Council to be involved. Zimbabwe Watch, a
Dutch-based organisation, also said the perpetrators of Murambatsvina must
Mugabe and his government are also under pressure from the EU which
has expanded its targeted sanctions list to include police officers accused
of violence against opposition leaders and activists. The EU-Africa meeting
later in the year in Lisbon, Portugal, is also another pressure point for
Inside his own party, he is under growing pressure as his bid to stand
as the Zanu PF candidate in next year's presidential election falters. After
he railroaded the controversial issue of his candidacy through the politburo
and central committee in March, Mugabe is now facing fresh resistance.
A central committee meeting earlier this month shot down his proposal
for a senate whose members are not directly elected. The proposal to have a
new president elected by parliament if the incumbent is unable to continue
for whatever reason has also met with fierce resistance.
This has left Mugabe's plan in shreds. Mugabe's loyalists fighting to
retain him in power are now trying to organise an extraordinary congress in
December to endorse his candidacy, but Zanu PF officials say they will
demand a vote by secret ballot on the issue.
Top Zanu PF leaders led by retired army commander General Solomon
Mujuru are mobilising party structures to block Mugabe as they did with his
2010 plan last year. Mugabe's attempts to restructure the party to install
pliable officials has come unstuck in Masvingo and Bulawayo.
The restructuring plan stumbled last weekend in Mashonaland Central
and is expected to face more problems in Manicaland this weekend.
OPPOSITION MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who heads a faction of the
divided party, has said Southern African Development Community (Sadc)
mediation on the Zimbabwe situation is essential for free and fair elections
Tsvangirai said this in an interview on Tuesday, in which he spoke on
a wide range of issues for the first time since his brutal assault in police
custody in March.
The MDC would push for constitutional and electoral-law reforms before
the polls, he said.
The MDC yesterday filed a Supreme Court application challenging the
constitutionality of a number of controversial sections of the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission Act, setting the stage for fierce political battles
over elections ahead.
Tsvangirai said Sadc could play a decisive role in assisting Zimbabwe
to hold elections and move forward to resolve the crisis that is breaking up
He said there was an urgent need to remove an array of legal and
political impediments to impartial elections.
"We support the Sadc-mandated initiative to find an amicable
resolution of this crisis. The critical question which must be addressed in
this dialogue is why we have political deadlock in this country," Tsvangirai
"The stalemate is due to disputed elections and that's why we need
constitutional and electoral law reforms to ensure free and fair elections.
"We need these reforms to restore people's waning confidence in
elections and democratic legitimacy. There must be a roadmap to achieve this
and that is what we hope will come out of the negotiations."
He said the MDC would campaign for elections but make a final decision
on participation after seeing how the Sadc mediation process pans out.
"I have no doubt that if the elections are free and fair the MDC will
win hands down," Tsvangirai said. "That's why Zanu PF is using violent
repression and brutal attacks to try to break up the MDC."
Tsvangirai said the MDC had produced a comprehensive document for Sadc
mediator, South African President Thabo Mbeki, addressing a range of issues.
Although he refused to reveal details, sources said the document dealt with
the constitution, laws and electoral rules and regulations.
"It is gratifying to realise that President Mbeki has focused on the
issue of elections because that's where we have serious problems," he said.
Tsvangirai said regional leaders must rise to the occasion and force
President Robert Mugabe to implement the Sadc rules on elections.
"The problem is that Zimbabwe has not adopted those rules," Tsvangirai
"We should have rules accepted by all Zimbabweans. If we lose in free
and fair elections, we would be the first to congratulate the winners."
Sadc member states are required by their own rules to take measures to
ensure "scrupulous implementation" of democratic election rules.
Member states are required to establish impartial, all-inclusive,
competent and accountable national electoral bodies staffed by qualified
personnel. - Staff Writers.
THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) yesterday filed a court
application at the Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of
sections of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act.
The Minister of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Patrick
Chinamasa and the chairman of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Judge
George Chiweshe have been cited as respondents in the application.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said in the application the challenge was
made after the party agreed he would be the candidate should they
participate in next year's polls.
"The applicant therefore has vested interest in this application as it
is going to field me as its presidential candidate in the event that the
applicant decides to participate in the presidential elections to be held in
2008," the application says.
"The applicant will also participate in the parliamentary and
senatorial elections in the event that these are held in 2008 as has been
reported in the government-controlled media. It is therefore important that
all legal instruments which regulate the elections comply with the
provisions and spirit of the Constitution of Zimbabwe for there to be free
and fair elections."
The MDC is being represented by Obert Gutu of Gutu & Chikowore. The
lawyers are arguing that Section 3(1) (a) of the Zimbabwe Electoral Act
contravenes section 61(1) of the constitution in that the Act limits the
appointment of the chairman of the commission to a person qualified to be
appointed as a judge of the High Court or the Supreme Court.
The constitution in Section 24(1) provides that the chairman of the
commission shall be a judge of the High Court or the Supreme Court or a
person qualified to be appointed as a judge of the High Court or Supreme
"Given that the chairman is appointed by the president who, under the
current set-up is the president and secretary of the ruling Zanu PF party,
the section as appears in the Act leaves room for the president to appoint a
party activist from his party merely because that person might be qualified
to be appointed as a judge having regard to his educational qualifications
and experience after being admitted as a legal practitioner," said the
The MDC wants Section 15 which deals with voter education by persons
other than the electoral commission or political parties to be declared null
and void for contravening the provisions of Section 61(8) of the
In the application, Section 15(1) is under attack for contravening
Section 20 of the constitution, which protects freedom of expression. The
section makes it mandatory for organisations or individuals in voter
education to furnish the commission with a programme for approval by the
The MDC also said Section 15(3) of the Act contravenes Section 61(8)
of the constitution which does not provide for criminal or penal provisions
to be included in the Act and should be declared null and void as well as
Section 16 that makes the commission the sole and exclusive recipient of all
foreign contributions or donations for the purpose of voter education.
Gutu said his clients have presented a well-thought-out challenge
which they hope will bring them the relief they are seeking.
"We have presented a well-thought-out challenge and we hope that the
provisions we are challenging will be declared null and void and struck off
the Act," said Gutu.
"We believe that we have presented a well-thought-out constitutional
challenge and we hope to get the relief we are seeking," said Gutu.
In a related matter, the MDC on Monday filed a court application at
the Supreme Court for review and declaratory on the rally the party wanted
to hold on February 18 at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield.
The rally did not take place despite a High Court Order granting it
permission after the police banned the rally and according to the MDC
deployed regular, riot and reserve police to block the general public and
MDC supporters from access to the venue of the meeting. The Minister of Home
Affairs Kembo Mohadi, the Commissioner of Police Augustine Chihuri, Chief
Superintendent Isaac Tayengwa, Chief Superitendent Titus Chagwedera, and
Chief Superintendent Tomsen Jangara were cited as the respondents.
The MDC who are being presented by Selby Hwacha of Dube, Manikai &
Hwacha filed their review application on the grounds the prohibitions issued
by the police were null and void and liable to be set aside because their
issuance did not comply with the provisions of Section 27 of the Public
Order and Security Act.
GOVERNMENT has dispatched teams into the region to scout for grain for
purchase to stave off looming food shortages in Zimbabwe.
Sources privy to grain imports said government last week dispatched
two delegations led by Grain Marketing Board (GMB) provincial operations
managers to Malawi and South Africa to source for grain.
The delegation to Malawi is led by Podiso Mafa, GMB Masvingo
operations manager, while that to South Africa is under a Mr F Kamambo in
charge of Midlands operations.
GMB acting chief executive officer Colonel Samuel Muvuti said he was
not qualified to comment on the matter since it falls under the Lands, Land
Reform and Resettlement ministry.
"The delegations were made up of food taskforce members," Muvuti said.
"So it's only Minister Mutasa who is qualified to comment and give details
on that issue."
Mutasa could not be reached for comment.
Sources said the delegations intend to secure up to 800 000 tonnes of
maize to bridge the grain deficit caused by this year's poor harvest.
The development comes as opposition parties in Malawi accuse President
Bingu wa Mutharika of breaking trade rules by paying for maize his country
is exporting to Zimbabwe.
They said the government took US$300 million from the Reserve Bank of
Malawi to pay the National Food Reserve Authority for the maize it is
exporting to Zimbabwe.
Democratic Party (DP) president Kamlepo Kalua said Mutharika had
"bulldozed" the central bank into making the "suspicious" transaction. He
claimed wa Mutarika flouted Malawi's fiscal regulations by forcing the
central bank to make the payment because President Robert Mugabe is "his
friend" and that Malawi's First Lady, Ethel Mutharika, is a Zimbabwean. Wa
Mutharika also runs a farm in Zimbabwe. The Malawian government has
dismissed the allegations as "a fabrication and untrue".
Deputy Agriculture and Food Security minister Bintony Kutsaira said
the deal was a normal trade deal signed between Malawi and Zimbabwe and that
Zimbabwe's central bank governor, Gideon Gono, will pay Malawi some US$120
million for the maize.
Kutsaira said the RBZ had already made an initial US$6 million payment
for "logistics". Malawi needs about two million tonnes of the staple food,
maize, to feed its population of 12 million people. But, according to the
Ministry of Agriculture, it has recorded a surplus of about one million
tonnes. Kutsaira said Malawi expects to export some 400 000 tonnes of maize
to Zimbabwe where at least a quarter of the population needs food
Some 30 000 metric tonnes of maize has already been delivered to
By Paul Nyakazeya
THOMAS Sibanda of Budiriro 4 has become accustomed to living without
water. For the past five years the area has not had a single drop of running
water. His wife Mercy and two children have to wake up early to fetch water
in the neighbouring suburbs.
Sometimes the people in the neighbouring suburbs charge them a fee for
every bucket of water.
"When the going gets tough we have to buy the water from them because
they say their charges are now high," says Sibanda.
His five-year-old daughter can swear that she has never seen running
water from their tap at home.
Across town in areas like Tafara, Mabvuku, Marlborough, Borrowdale and
Glen Lorne the situation is becoming equally bad. Some residents in Mabvuku
have not had water since last December. On bad days they have to get water
from makeshift wells in the area.
These cases give only a glimpse of the water crisis that is unfolding
across the country. Marondera, Mutare and Gwanda have been experiencing the
A visit by the Zimbabwe Independent to Marondera over the weekend
revealed that most areas had gone for three weeks without consistent supply
of water. Almost all urban areas have suffered the brunt of the water
crisis. There are no signs that the situation will get better anytime soon.
What makes the situation sad is the fact that Zimbabwe does not have a
shortage of water. It is the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) that
has failed to supply treated water.
While people continue to suffer and face disease outbreaks the
responsible authorities have chosen to squabble over who is to blame for the
Zinwa, which took over the supply of treated water from urban
councils, blames the current power shortages for failure to pump water into
the system. Power utility, Zimbabwe Electricity Distribution Company on the
other hand blames foreign currency shortages for its failure to purchase
power equipment. But the blame game does not stop there.
Two weeks ago Zinwa accused the Harare City Council of sabotaging its
operations by giving them unqualified personnel during the transfer process.
The water authority also says it does not have foreign currency to repair
pumps and buy water-treating chemicals. Sometimes the authority blames the
ageing system for the water woes.
What is clear however is that the water system in this country has
collapsed. The number of holes dug by Zinwa in its efforts to repair burst
water pipes clearly shows the magnitude of the crisis.
A study by the World Bank says that Zimbabwe will need US$10 billion
to restore normal water services to all urban areas. Zimbabwe makes an
average of US$3 billion every year from its exports.
The study also found that Zimbabwe will need an additional US$5,1
billion to repair its road and railway systems.
Water Resources and Infrastructure Development minister Munacho Mutezo
this week said water problems across the country were caused by inadequate
funding and Zesa Holdings, which supplies electricity to water treatment
"We have a major challenge countrywide caused by Zesa Holdings,"
"In Harare we have been having problems at Morton Jaffray and Prince
Edward water works, as a result we are only pumping at about 50% of our
He said even at full pumping capacity Zinwa will not be able to supply
enough water to all areas of Harare.
Mutezo accused Zesa Holdings of not taking the issue of water
availability seriously saying senior managers at the power utility were
taking power cuts as a normal occurrence.
But the situation on the ground shows that Zinwa's problems go beyond
the power problems.
The country's Comptroller and Auditor-General, Mildred Chisi, in a
recent audit said Zinwa did not have the capacity to provide clean water
without disruptions as it does not have a section that is responsible for
co-coordinating the strategic and operational planning process for reliable
clean water supplies.
The planning section in Zinwa was instead responsible for preparing
catchment outline plans.
The section should under normal circumstances be made up of engineers,
technicians and economists who carry out infrastructural planning and
development with the authority.
A parliamentary portfolio committee report last month blasted Zinwa's
takeover of the water supply saying it had caused serious problem for the
urban councils and residents. It recommended that government reconsider its
"The cabinet should reconsider the directive that Zinwa should take
over the entirety of water and waste water services of all urban authorities
as the takeover of these services from the City of Harare had proved that
Zinwa has no capacity," said a report by the portfolio committee on Local
Zinwa is said to be pumping at just over half capacity and blames
power utility Zesa for delays in rectifying the problem.
Despite the critical shortages, Zinwa is not implementing its standing
rationing scheme or rotating water cuts, leaving most suburbs without water
for several days.
Zinwa also says it is facing power problems at both its Morton Jaffray
and Prince Edward water plants.
The general consensus in Zimbabwe was that not enough was being done
at national level to improve water supplies as evidenced by the fact that
communities living close to large or vibrant water resources like the Kariba
Dam experienced water shortages.
With its main water supply dams expected to run dry by September,
Bulawayo is planning to transport water by train from the Zambezi River,
about 400km northwest of the city. This is a clear sign of the desperate
"We are actively pursuing the idea of a water train to bring the
precious liquid, because our current supplies will be exhausted by October.
Under the plan, the train would draw water from the Zambezi River before it
is purified and distributed to residents in Bulawayo," said Bulawayo town
clerk Moffat Ndlovu.
According to the city's executive major Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, in the
just-ended rainy season Bulawayo's five dams received a total inflow of just
11 million mega litres as opposed to the 73 million mega litres of rainwater
that were received during the previous season.
Bulawayo's unreliable water supply has forced many industries to
relocate from the dry Matabeleland North province, as the city is struggling
to supply water to its 1,5 million people with the help of its dams, one of
which, the Lower Ncema, has already run dry and has been decommissioned.
Another, Umzingwane, is expected to be decommissioned in June.
Two more dams, the Upper Ncema and the Inyankuni will run out of water
in August, according to the city council, leaving the municipality dependent
on the remaining water supply dam, Insiza, which is expected run dry in
October before the onset of the rains.
The situation is said to be the same in Marondera, Rusape and Mutare.
In Gweru the water situation is said to be not as bad as in other towns in
the country as the longest time supplies might not be available is nearly
Zinwa said all of Harare's reservoirs were at critical levels with the
biggest, Letombo about 7% full and the second largest, Alex Park, 9% full.
The two reservoirs supply almost all the northern and eastern suburbs in
Harare either directly or by feeding their smaller reservoirs.
Due to this confusion and failure to work together by relevant
stakeholders, Harare alone is said to be losing between 40% and 60% of its
treated water daily and needs nearly $500 billion to refurbish its poor
reticulation system that has compounded the shortage of the precious liquid
in the city and its dormitory towns of Chitungwiza and Ruwa.
THE first signs of the feared regional power crisis have hit Zimbabwe
with many urban families enduring long periods without electricity. The
government says it will sacrifice domestic consumers to give priority to
But in most suburbs, the consequences of the blackouts have been
Families complain of the epidemic diseases associated with water
shortages because the Zimbabwe National Water Authority cannot pump water
due to the power shortages.
"This is not a life," says Monica, a resident of Mabvuku in Harare.
Mabvuku is one of the worst hit suburbs and some areas have been
experiencing water and power shortages for the past 12 months.
Monica's family has been relying on firewood for cooking, but the
price of wood has been escalating due to high demand. A bundle of wood
enough to prepare one meal costs $15 000.
"We are paying for power every month. What surprises me is that even
if we go for three weeks without power the bill from Zesa is always the
same," she said.
This week Monica's family went for three days without power.
"Meat, milk and other perishable foods have gone bad. We have suffered
three consecutive days of extended blackouts because they want to help wheat
farmers. It is a good idea but last year the farmers enjoyed similar
benefits, yet we still face serious bread and flour shortages," she said.
With the escalating prices of goods and services in Zimbabwe, some
families have resorted to bulk buying in mitigation of the price hikes but
these efforts have been affected by the power crisis.
Government had promised that industry would be spared under the
current round of power blackouts but some industrial workers could be seen
this week spending crucial production time playing ball games due to
sporadic power cuts.
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries president, Callisto Jokonya,
however says industry has benefited and government's decision to black out
domestic consumers is justified.
"I think industry is benefiting from the present arrangement," Jokonya
told the Zimbabwe Independent.
"We were consulted and we agreed the best way forward was to starve
the homes to help the productive sectors. Other than burning our power for
nothing it has been targeted at the productive sectors."
Government says it gave Zesa the nod to ration electricity to allow
the power utility to have the capacity to power winter wheat irrigation but
experts and residents blame it on a culture of leaving situations to worsen
before running around to implement ad hoc measures.
Already, despite enjoying the support, out of the 76 000 hectares
earmarked for wheat production this season, only 8 000 hectares have been
prepared, but the June 15 deadline is approaching.
Industry experts argue that while government has blamed its political
stand-off with the West for the economic crisis, the reluctant manner in
which it has handled proposals to end Zesa's monopoly was the reason behind
the deteriorating situation in Zimbabwe's power sector.
They argue that private investment has the capacity to drive the
troubled power sector out of the current crisis because it will bring
Poor foresight by government is also cited as one of the reasons for
the crisis as officials had ignored warnings of the impending crisis which
had been given through research by the Southern African Power Pool for close
to a decade. That the region was going to have a serious power shortage was
projected in 2003. Zimbabwe has the best power generating capacity after
South Africa in the region.
It has two big generators and about 200 small ones.
South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique and other countries in the region
have made great strides in investing in new infrastructure to deal with the
In Zimbabwe, scores of new power projects such as the Batoka and
Sengwa, have been on the cards for close to two decades, but no progress has
As it came into office in September 2005, the Zimbabwe Electricity
Regulatory Commission (Zerc) warned that the snail's pace of investment in
power projects would be disastrous for the economy.
Kariba South and the Hwange Power Company (HPC), Zerc warned, were in
an advanced state of dilapidation and required urgent refurbishment in
preparation for the power shortages.
Kariba and HPC generate about 750 Megawatts (MW) each but due to the
advanced dilapidation of equipment generating capacity have declined to
about 550 MW.
Apart for the infrastructure, Zesa has perennially blamed government's
grip on tariffs for its failure to purchase the necessary equipment to
increase power output.
"It costs Zesa $90 to produce a kilowatt, but the same kilowatt is
sold for $5," Zesa Holdings chairman Christopher Chetsanga said in January.
"Zesa imports power at US 2 cents and sells it at US 0,2 cents per
kilowatt," he said.
As a result Zesa said it was failing to raise foreign currency to
settle its mounting debts.
But President Robert Mugabe's government has refused to acknowledge
its poor management of the economy and says Western-backed sanctions imposed
on his regime had caused all the problems the country is facing.
Last year, government rejected crucial foreign investment proposals
for power generation by European companies fearing criticism for "supping
with the devil", preferring Chinese companies.
Five powerful Western companies - Benadale, Australia's Africa Energy,
Perigil, Kudu Resources and Omega Corporation - in 2005 put up strong bids
to exploit uranium deposits in the Zambezi Valley.
Experts said if projects had been granted, they could cover
considerable ground towards the development of an alternative source of
But a proposal by the mining affairs body (MAB) to grant Australian
Stock Exchange-listed OmegaCorp the uranium claims in a joint venture with a
local investor were blocked due to the involvement of the Australians.
Australia is a fierce critic of Mugabe's rule.
The Kanyemba project spanned an 800 square kilometre concession which
contained 40 to 50 kilometres of unexplored prospective ground which is
projected to last 10 years.
Mugabe had previously made reference to the reserves boasting they
would alleviate the power crisis, but he has suddenly kept quiet.
A project proposal from OmegaCorp shows it was ready to throw in about
US$50 million to kick start the exploitation and transform Zimbabwe into the
second nuclear energy producer in the region.
Government failed to act on proposals from scores of foreign companies
to expand existing capacity.
China Aero Technology Import and Export Company (CATIC), which was
given the tender to rehabilitate Hwange and Kariba in 2005 is yet to start
work because Zimbabwe does not have the required foreign currency to buy
But CATIC has other investment interests across Africa which could be
prioritised as China seeks to forge stronger economic ties with oil
producing African countries.
Chinese interests in Africa have been driven by high demand for energy
in its blossoming mining and automotive industry industries.
As such Angola, Sudan, Nigeria and oil producing countries would
benefit from bigger Chinese investments than Zimbabwe.
Government's laid-back attitude, however, started after the 1996 World
Solar Summit hosted in Harare.
Participants agreed then that with dwindling hydro and thermal power
supplies across the region Africa required significant investment in solar
In Zimbabwe, solar power projects would take the weight off HPC and
Kariba by at least 20%.
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) approved a US$7 million
revolving facility 15% interest rates.
This led to the mushrooming of at least 200 solar power SMEs but the
hype that greeted the post summit era quickly died down because government
was not prepared to seriously look into the potential of solar energy as an
Successive energy ministers have never raised a word about the
significance of solar power.
One decade on, Zimbabwe remains the region's worst hit, scrounging for
35% of its power requirements from increasingly incapacitated neighbours.
Mozambique's Hydro de Cahora Bassa, South Africa's Eskom and Snel of
the Democratic Republic of Congo could stop exporting to Zimbabwe due to
increasing demand in their countries.
ZIMBABWE and Venezuela have been singled out by the World Diamond
Council, the association responsible for regulating the global diamond
trade, for failing to meet standards aimed at reducing trade in conflict
Leaders of the world diamond trade who were meeting in Jerusalem last
week said Zimbabwe and Venezuela were not adhering to the standards of the
Kimberley Process, a diamond certification process used by international
buyers to ascertain the legitimate source of diamonds and clear them for
The Kimberley Process, named after the town in South Africa where it
was first proposed, involves a certification system that tracks the origin
of virtually every diamond that is sold around the world.
The singling out of Zimbabwe comes at a time when the country is being
investigated by the United Nations over allegations, first raised in this
newspaper, that UN vehicles were used to smuggle diamonds from a mine in
Beitbridge controlled by senior Zanu PF officials.
Zimbabwe came into the spotlight of the World Diamond Council after an
ownership row involving two companies, Bubye Minerals and River Ranch (Pvt)
Ltd degenerated into a smear campaign.
Retired army commander General Solomon Mujuru and former Zanu PF
legislator, Tirivanhu Mudariki, are directors of River Ranch while the wife
of Zimbabwe's ambassador to South Africa, Sibonokuhle Khaya-Moyo, is a
director of Bubye Minerals.
The discovery of diamonds in Marange also increased the traffic of
illegal diamonds leaving the country without certification.
Uncontrolled access to Marange district saw foreigners and local
politicians descending on the area and looting the diamonds which were later
on sold outside the country. Several foreigners were arrested, leading to
the government sealing off the area.
World Diamond Council chairman, Eli Izhakoff, told delegates in
Jerusalem last week that while trade in conflict diamonds was never more
than 5% of the global figure, it was now down to about 1%.
He however said two countries, Zimbabwe and Venezuela, needed to do
more to adhere to the standards of the Kimberley Process.
"We have some problems in Zimbabwe, where the government is
cooperating in trying to put their house in order, and, hopefully, we can
resolve that situation," Izhakoff said. "One other situation that is
outstanding is Venezuela, where they have not been in compliance with the
Kimberley certification scheme. We are hopeful they will do the right thing.
But, if not, the Kimberley Process certification scheme will have to take
Trade in illicit diamonds, usually referred to as conflict or blood
diamonds, has helped fuel civil conflicts in Africa.
In Zimbabwe ruling party officials have been implicated in illegal
GOVERNMENT is not sincere about the expansion of parliamentary
democracy evidenced by its intention to increase the number of seats in the
upper and lower houses in the 2008 elections, a move aimed at ensuring Zanu
PF hegemony analysts said this week.
Analysts said the Zanu PF government was "a wolf in the sheep's
clothing" as it pretended to value parliamentary autonomy and democracy
while disregarding submissions of various portfolio committees. They said
recent remarks by Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu that government was
concerned about the manner in which some portfolio committees were
conducting themselves when dealing with certain ministers raised concerns.
Ndlovu was recently quoted in the media as saying government was
concerned that some portfolio committees were being used by the United
States in its regime-change agenda.
Analysts expressed concern that government's failure to respect the
separation of powers among the pillars of the state would reverse the gains
made so far in the implementation of the parliamentary reform programme
which culminated in the establishment of portfolio committees to have
oversight over the executive.
Bulawayo-based political activist Max Mkandla said government was not
committed to promoting democracy in parliament as it was not prepared to
adopt recommendations by legislators regardless of whether they were from
the ruling party or opposition.
"The so-called expansion of democracy through increasing parliamentary
seats as (Justice minister Patrick) Chinamasa claims is not justified at
all," Mkandla said. "The economy is on its knees and as a country we cannot
afford to further burden taxpayers to cater for extra legislators. There
have been calls to downsize the civil service which is failing to deliver
services to the people. At the moment lecturers, nurses and other
professionals are failing to report for work because of poor remuneration
and you have a government that is proposing to increase the numbers of
legislators. What for?
"The same government does not recognise and value the input of
portfolio committees which are there at the moment, so how does it pride
itself in claiming that it's committed to expanding democracy?"
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) chief whip Innocent Gonese said
the government wanted to maintain its dominance in the House so that it
could fast-track legislation and piecemeal amendments to the constitution.
He said the government has systematically rigged elections through a
flawed electoral system under which President Mugabe handpicked members of
the Delimitation Commission which determines constituency boundaries.
"I think you are aware of what happened in the 2005 parliamentary
elections when certain constituencies dominated by Zanu PF like Gokwe were
split to create individual constituencies - Gokwe East, Gokwe Chireya, Gokwe
South, Gokwe Central and Gokwe Sengwa without any justification of
demographic changes," Gonese said.
"At the same time, MDC strongholds like Bulawayo were reduced while in
Harare, Harare South and Manyame were created."
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai says Zimbabwe will not dig itself out of
the current rut unless it holds free and fair elections to pave way for
social and economic recovery.
In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, Tsvangirai
said Southern African Development Community leaders should use the ongoing
mediation on Zimbabwe as a pressure point to secure free and fair elections.
Tsvangirai, who heads a faction of the main opposition party, also
spoke on the MDC's position on the Sadc mediation, elections, talks on a
united front to confront President Robert Mugabe, and his party's policies
and prospects at the polls.
He also spoke about political beatings and arrests of his party
members, the damaging split in the MDC and his leadership style.
While Tsvangirai was dour in explaining these issues, he went down
with a laugh when asked about the possibility of a new movement in which he
would only play a supporting role and not become the leader.
"I didn't become the leader of the MDC by accident. I was elected by
the people and it's only them who have a right to remove me," he said.
"We can't have someone just coming from the streets and claiming to be
a leader without being elected by the people. We can't stop people from
indulging in fantasies, but I find it condescending for people to be talking
like that. We don't work like that.
"Let anyone who wants to lead the MDC come and let's face the people,
then we can talk business."
Tsvangirai chronicled a series of issues facing the MDC. He said South
African President Thabo Mbeki must be supported to see through his
Sadc-mandated mediation on Zimbabwe.
Tsvangirai said his party would decide whether to contest the
elections or not after the talks.
"The Sadc negotiation process will inform our decision on the
elections," he said. He said previous talks in 2003 almost worked but were
sunk by Zanu PF hawks who opposed dialogue.
He said unification talks between his faction and that of Arthur
Mutambara were going on "very well". Describing the MDC's break-up as "water
under the bridge", he said MDC factions were now working for a common
"The talks are going on very well. I can assure you there is progress.
We are now agreed on a common objective - which is to work together - and
what remains are modalities of implementation," he said.
"Everyone understands how critical the coming elections are and it's
good we now have unity of purpose. It is very important we don't lose focus
on the main task at hand, which is to defeat Mugabe's regime."
Tsvangirai said it would not be difficult for MDC camps to work
together because "we split on strategic grounds, not personal differences".
Asked if he was prepared to work with Professor Welshman Ncube, his
alleged rival, he said: "If I can work with (Gift) Chimanikire and
(Blessing) Chebundo who were denigrating me personally, why can't I work
with Welshman who I worked with for six years?"
Tsvangirai laughed when asked if he was a dictator. "If you really
want to see a dictator, go to Zanu PF, that's the home of tyranny. You will
know what a dictator is."
On his controversial "Kitchen Cabinet" blamed for ruining the party,
he said it was just a team of advisors similar to any other leader's
Critics say the MDC is now weakened and cannot defeat Zanu PF.
Tsvangirai said people should not ignore "political violence and brutality
being meted out against us". He said his party was still strong but was
under siege from the state although he vowed repression would not destroy
the MDC because "it has strong local roots".
"If we were weak, why would Zanu PF be lashing out at us like this?"
he asked. "They are arresting and beating us because they fear we can defeat
He also said the recent petrol bombings allegedly by the MDC were
"coordinated by the CIO".
"The approach is lifted straight from Ken Flower (founding CIO
director-general)'s book of tricks," he said.
THE mining sector has failed to achieve either growth or empowerment
over the past year and continues to experience declines in volumes due to
government policy inconsistencies and erratic payments by the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe, the Chamber of Mines has said.
Chamber of Mines president Jack Murehwa said the fixed exchange rate,
shortages of fuel and power cuts are contributing to the demise of the
Speaking at the chamber's annual general meeting, Murehwa said the
mining sector which is the country's largest foreign currency earner has
been depressed for the past 12 months and that there were no signs that the
situation will improve any time soon.
"We achieved neither the growth nor the empowerment to the extent we
had anticipated and it is sad to note that our industry experienced and
continues to experience declines in volumes in the production of most metals
and minerals despite the very buoyant metal/mineral prices which prevailed
throughout the past eighteen months," Murehwa said.
"Over the past two years the mining sector has desperately continued
to operate under an environment of inconsistent fiscal and monetary
policies, which have resulted in perennial shortages of foreign currency,
misaligned exchange rate, hyperinflation, high wage demands, power supply
interruptions and skills flight, and hence decreasing levels of production,"
He said it was sad that the metals and minerals that has survived
economic decline thus far now risk stagnation because of government's policy
flip-flops. Most companies have put further development on hold as they wait
for the government to clarify the proposed new mining laws which seek to
give the state 51% in foreign owned mines.
"When I take stock of what our industry achieved last year, it is sad
to note that, compared with other mining sectors elsewhere in the world, it
is only our industry which has failed to boom in these times of high
Murehwa revealed that Zimbabwe's gold production had plunged to its
lowest in 90 years.
Figures made available by Murehwa showed that up to March this year,
gold production fell to the equivalent of eight tonnes per annum. In 1916,
the country mined 29 metric tonnes of gold. In December last year
the country produced 10 metric tonnes of gold.
Murehwa said the world price for gold rose from about US$275 an ounce
in 2001 to more than US$600 last year. Nickel, platinum and copper prices
also firmed on the international market but Zimbabwe has not benefited much.
"What excuse can our industry give for not benefiting from this
worldwide boom in metal prices?"
Murehwa blamed "policy inconsistencies" in the economy that has led to
hyperinflation, acute shortages of fuel and foreign currency for equipment
and spare parts. Regular power outages and an exodus of skilled mining
personnel also contributed to the decline.
Despite the high world prices, investors in mining have stayed away
According the Reserve Bank, overall foreign investment declined from
US$444,3 million in 1998 to just US$50 million last year. It cited
"perceived risk" and worries over security of ownership as the main
disincentives for investors.
GOVERNMENT has been violating the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act when it
exceeded its borrowing limits, resulting in domestic debt continuously
rising over the past five years to reach a new all time high of $1,3
trillion early this month.
Addressing parliamentarians last week, Reserve Bank governor Gideon
Gono, admitted that government had been exceeding its overdraft facility on
numerous occasions, but the Ministry of Finance acted on time to formalise
the excess borrowings through confirmation letter to Reserve Bank auditors.
"Government borrowing from the Reserve Bank through the overdraft
facility is limited to 20% of the previous year revenue outturn (Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe Act Chapter 22:15 Section 7(2) a).
"Thus, the outstanding at any time should not exceed 20% of previous
year revenue. It is imperative to note that this statutory limit has on
numerous occasions been exceeded but the Ministry of Finance acted on time
to formalise the excess borrowings through confirmation letter to the
Reserve Bank auditors," said Gono.
Government has over the years financed its expenditure through revenue
collection by the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) as well as
supplementary borrowing from the market or the RBZ.
The new debt levels means that with an estimated population of 13
million, every citizen now owes $100 923 to local banks and financial
Treasury bill interest payments account for $903 billion of the debt
while the principal treasury bill debt amounted to $330 billion.
Analysts said the high debt was evident that the solvency of
government was already seriously compromised with the current interest
rates, and technically government finances will not be better with even a 1%
rise in interest rates.
The increasing government debt stock raised fresh fears of renewed
turbulence in the crisis-sapped economy, battling with high inflation
currently topping 3 713,9% for April.
Analysts said the debt stock was likely to rise further on increased
borrowing by government to finance the import of wheat, maize, debt
repayments, buying fuel and salary hikes for civil servants which are
scheduled for July.
Most ministries have exhausted their budget allocations and are likely
to increase domestic debt when they seek more money.
This means that government is likely to return to parliament for
additional funds through a supplementary budget which sources said was
likely to be announced next month.
The huge appetite for cash was also likely to spur increased money
printing, pushing money supply growth to new highs and again exacerbating
the inflationary environment.
This would be worsened by the fact that Zimbabwe has no access to
international capital and therefore government would rely exclusively on the
domestic market for debt.
FRESH attempts to control inflation through the National Incomes and
Pricing Commission Act will hit a brick wall as long as government does not
address the fundamental causes of inflation, analysts warned this week.
The Act, signed by President Robert Mugabe last week, empowers the
commission to regulate the implementation of policies related to the
determination of incomes and prices by undertaking research and analysis of
pricing and production costs.
It will also develop periodical pricing models.
There were arguments this week that some of the functions that have
been given to the commission were already being carried out by existing
institutions like the National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF).
The Prices and Incomes Stabilisation Committee has also been tasked to
look into the problems of price distortions.
Business chambers have already warned that the establishment of a
separate commission will be a waste of government resources.
"We suggest that we strengthen the price stabilisation committee
rather than setting up a commission because once the problems are over it
becomes irrelevant," said the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce in a
submission to parliament last year.
"The commission will be counterproductive to foreign investment. Do we
really think foreign investors would be comfortable with price controls?"
the chamber said.
Like the proposed mining industry policy that will give locals control
of foreign-owned companies, the new Act has the ingredients to frighten
potential foreign investors because it will impose what they charge for
It empowers the commission to "monitor price trends of goods and
services through comprehensive surveys and inspections, producing periodical
price monitoring reports and initiating corrective measures in cases of
unscrupulous business practices affecting Zimbabwe's pricing systems".
The commission will also have the powers to "consider, approve or
determine requests for price adjustments of price monitored or controlled
goods and services and the impact thereof on the economy of such
But there were fears that while the Act seeks to protect consumers
from greedy producers who are profiteering in the current hyperinflationary
environment, it would be susceptible to abuse by government for political
The monitoring of prices and controls has been at the heart of the
perennial clashes between government and manufacturers who blame officials
for delaying price reviews.
Manufacturers have argued that the hyperinflationary environment and
unstable prices movements required regular price reviews to boost revenue.
But government has been hostile, arresting and detaining managers,
fighting escalating costs of production costs for charging viable prices.
Section 26 of the Act empowers government to arrest and imprison
people who will obstruct authorised persons under the Act to enter and
inspect companies, or delays in producing company information as required
shall be guilty and liable to imprisonment for a period not exceeding five
"This is tantamount to managing businesses through the courts,"
charged an industrialist yesterday. "This is precisely the reason why fuel,
bread, mealie-meal and sugar are readily available on the black market.
Companies cannot continue to produce at a loss and expect them to survive."
Potential investors will also be discouraged by a section that
empowers the commission to consider prices and industry mark-ups and trade
margins in relation to price-monitored or controlled goods and services and
investigate price violations.
Business leaders argued that with the prevailing acute input shortages
controlling of mark ups will present serious problems to manufacturers
sourcing raw materials from various countries.
Imposing uniform margins could seriously impact on cashflows, they
said. Industrialists have also demanded that the commission should be given
powers to review prices in response to fluctuations of production costs.
SMALL-SCALE miners have blasted the central bank governor, Gideon Gono
for creating a whistleblower fund on the smuggling of precious minerals
saying the money should have been used to increase the support price they
are getting from Fidelity Refiners and Printers.
The miners said the fund is a waste of resources as the delivery of
precious minerals to Fidelity Printers will continue plummeting due to the
low prices offered by the RBZ.
Gono in his interim monetary policy statement last month introduced
the whistle blowers fund under which the whistle blower will be paid 5% of
the value of actual processed recoveries from their reported cases.
But this week the Zimbabwe Miners Federation (ZMF) blamed the decline
in gold deliveries to late price reviews by the RBZ and a reduction in small
scale miners operations after Operation Chikorokoza Chapera.
ZMF president George Kawonza said: "The introduction of a whistle
blower fund is a waste of time and resources and won't help in any way as
there are no precious minerals being smuggled out of the country.
"The main reason why there is continuous reduction of gold deliveries
to the Fidelity Printers is the late price reviews and that money should be
channeled towards addressing that area.
"Operation Chikorokoza Chapera also had a huge effect since most of
them were forced to shut down."
Kawonza said other countries economies were succeeding because their
authorities first consult all stakeholders especially those on the ground
before policy implementation which affect their economy
He added: "The other problem with authorities in the RBZ is that they
wait for the industry to collapse before they start to make efforts to
address the problems."
"The problem with the RBZ governor is that he wants certain sectors of
the economy to collapses first before reviving them to earn the messiah
Gold deliveries last year fell 18% to below 11 tonnes compared to 21
tonnes compared to 2004.
Zimbabwe risks losing its accreditation with the London Bullion Market
Association (LBMA) which allows it to sell gold directly to the
international market, if it fails to produce 10 tonnes required by the
association for it to remain a member.
Gold producers this week told the businessdigest that it was highly
unlikely that Zimbabwe will produce the 10 tonnes required by the
The country has so far managed to produce just less than two tonnes of
gold and there are no prospects that the output will increased anytime soon.
Loss of the accreditation would means that Zimbabwe will have to use an
agent to sell its gold.
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) says it plans to lobby parliament
to introduce by-annual audit report for parastatals by private audit firms
to enhance accountability in the state companies.
Governor Gideon Gono said the RBZ will work with the parliamentary
portfolio committee on public accounts to make sure that the companies
produce audited accounts.
Parastatals have failed to submit their audited accounts to parliament
as required by law. Pleas from the committee to relevant line ministries
have fallen on deaf ears, as the ministers concerned have also refused to
press the parastatals falling within their control to submit the audited
financial statements to the committee.
Gono said the only way to make parastatals submit their accounts
expeditiously would be to deny them funding until the line minister
concerned gave an account for the parastatal's failures before the
"The relevant minister has to account to the public on why his actions
militate against the board, if a parastatal does not do well," Gono said.
He said both ministers and parastatal heads had been taking advantage
of a statutory clause requiring parastatals to be audited by the Auditor and
Comptroller General's office, which he said was not adequately resourced.
"It is wasting taxpayers' money for parliament to be looking at
financial statements for the past ten years," Gono said. "I suggest we
employ private accounting firms to go into the parastatals and check their
accounting systems. In fact they should publish every six months, audited or
not. After all they have money to splash on adverts."
Parastatals are responsible for 40% of Zimbabwe's Gross Domestic
Product (GDP), with the figure in the region of US$1,28 billion.
Government has refused to privatise the loss- making bodies despite
their huge drain on the fiscas.
Parastatals and local authorities have been the major beneficiaries of
the RBZ's money printing spree over the past four years.
They are the major recipients of quasi-fiscal programmes such as the
Aspef fund for agricultural activities and the Parastatals and Local
Authority Reorientation Programme.
Gono has come under fire from the IMF for clandestine quasi-fiscal
operations, despite being committed to ring fence the unorthodox funding
under a special purpose vehicle called Fiscorp.
An IMF report titled Central Bank Quasi-fiscal Losses and High
Inflation in Zimbabwe: A Note, released three weeks ago said the central
bank can be directly linked to quasi-fiscal losses amounting to 75% of
The IMF argued that quasi-fiscal activities have limited RBZ's ability
to control money effectively, thus fuelling inflation.
EFFORTS to fully expose the extent of state violence in the country
were frustrated this week after government made veiled threats against
pro-democracy NGOs at the 41st session of the African Commission on Human
and Peoples' Rights in Ghana.
Analysts said government was keen to silence any voice opposed to its
destructive policies. Over the past seven years government has been using
violence, intimidation, unlawful arrests, detention and torture to deal with
dissenting voices. They have been accused of pushing a regime-change agenda
sponsored by the Western powers.
Zimbabwean non-governmental organisations with observer status at the
ACHPR session in Accra, Ghana, refused to address the commission on the
human rights situation in Zimbabwe citing security concerns following
remarks by Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa who is leading the government
At least five NGOs from Zimbabwe, among them the Media Institute of
Southern Africa (Misa-Zimbabwe), Human Rights Trust of Southern Africa
(Sahrit) and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR), were expected to
deliver statements on Saturday, May 19. Instead, they released a joint
statement through the Civil Liberties of Nigeria in which they expressed
concerns over statements made by Chinamasa.
In a live radio interview from Accra, Chinamasa branded Zimbabwean
civic society organisations regime-change activists sponsored by the British
"The remarks by the minister place accredited non-governmental
organisations from Zimbabwe in a position where they cannot publicly, and
without fear of retribution, address this commission, as is their obligation
in updating the commission on the current situation prevailing in Zimbabwe,"
reads the statement.
"In light of these threats, we would want to urge the . commission to
challenge the government of Zimbabwe to demonstrate its sincerity in
suggesting that the human rights violations in the country are imaginary,
not real, and exaggerated, by making an undertaking that they will not
subject any of the participants to this forum to some form of harassment,
intimidation or such other harm only on account of having participated
legitimately and lawfully in the proceedings of this session. We request
that this undertaking be made public," it said.
"In the absence of such undertaking, we request that the African
Commission, through its Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders should
take all precautionary measures to ensure that all those who enjoy observer
status and have participated in this session will not be subjected to
harassment, or attack on account of their participation, whether here in
Ghana, or upon their return to Zimbabwe."
Presenting a government statement on the human rights situation in
Zimbabwe, Chinamasa called locally-based NGOs regime-change activists. He
said problems in Zimbabwe were being caused by Western countries which had
allegedly provided resources to political malcontents and NGOs for purposes
of destabilising the country.
Chinamasa also made the same allegations when he appeared on a Joy FM
live radio interview on May 18.
Reacting to an interjection by Misa-Zimbabwe's legal officer Wilbert
Mandinde, who said that the Zimbabwean government was persecuting
journalists and has also refused to open the airwaves, Chinamasa retorted:
"I want to attack Mandinde, I mean respond to what he has said. Mandinde is
a regime-change activist who works for a British and an American-funded
organisation on the regime-change agenda."
The International Bar Association (IBA) contested the content of the
submission by the government to the African Commission.
The IBA's report titled Attacks on the Rule of Law, counters
government's portrayal of recent events in Zimbabwe. It catalogues how the
impartiality of the legal profession in Zimbabwe has been severely
compromised through the persistent harassment and intimidation of judges and
It also emphasises how these attacks on the profession have undermined
the authority of the courts, resulting in serious violations of due process
and greatly limiting the access citizens have to the justice system.
"It is hoped that, despite the positive picture depicted by the
Zimbabwean government in its own submission, such assertions surrounding the
country's human rights record will be found to be inconsistent with the
realities on the ground," the IBA report said.
"The events of the past month further compound the gravity of the
situation and it is hoped that the African Commission will take this
opportunity to strongly condemn the violations highlighted in this report
and hold the Zimbabwean government to account for the serious breaches of
The report further exposes the climate of impunity, and documents,
with particular concern, violations of the African Charter committed by
Zimbabwe's national police force, including the right to security of person
and the right to freedom from arbitrary arrest. IBA said the government was
directly responsible for the police force, and that these agents must act in
accordance with domestic, regional and international law.
"The IBA's Human Rights Institute has taken the unprecedented step of
joining with other renowned international NGOs to submit this report on
Zimbabwe to the African Commission," stated Mark Ellis, IBA executive
"I urge the commission to hold the Zimbabwean government to account
for grave breaches of the Charter. The arbitrary arrests and violent beating
of members of the legal profession by the police further compounds the
evidence collated in the report," he said.
Analysts said the attack was yet another attempt at silencing any
alternatives voice ahead of a watershed joint election next year.
In the run-up to the commission's session, African NGOs Forum had
called on the Zimbabwean government to desist from the wanton arrests,
harassment and torture of journalists.
The Forum had also expressed concern over the situation of journalists
and freedom of expression activists in Africa, especially in Zimbabwe,
Eritrea, The Gambia, Ethiopia, Sierra Leone and Somalia, and called upon
these states to respect provisions of the African Charter, the Declaration
of Principles on Freedom of Expression in Africa and their various
constitutions on the right to freedom of expression.
Civic organisations however wanted to present "shadow" reports that
counter the government report. The NGOs' reports were meant to expose
government's unwillingness to uphold its primary responsibility to promote,
protect, and fulfil human rights. They sought to present government as the
leading perpetrator of rights abuses in Zimbabwe.
"Government's report to the African Commission was denying all
allegations of human rights abuses and blames external forces for the
deterioration of the economy," one NGO said from Ghana. "It was not taking
responsibility for anything, including the demolitions of houses during
Operation Murambatsvina and the recent brutal attacks on the opposition
Government is pursuing the legislative route to gag the NGOs after
realising that they have been gaining momentum towards calling for the
repeal of draconian laws.
The Private Voluntary Organisations Act requires that each NGO should
sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with government ministries relevant
to their area of technical operation. The signed MoU is submitted to the
Registrar of Private Voluntary Organisations for vetting. The Act subjects
the NGO to the mercy of the minister and registrar on whether they should be
registered or not and consequently any groups deemed not to be politically
correct might not get the MoU.
By Joseph Jordan
ON August 27 1980, I was a graduate student in African Studies at
Howard University. That particular moment was quite different and much more
significant than any other I'd experienced during my studies. I waited
impatiently, along with many others who had also pushed and clamoured for
space in the auditorium.
Finally, the source of our excitement took the stage. Prime Minister
Robert Mugabe, leader of Zanu PF and the newly independent nation of
Zimbabwe, arrived and received a standing ovation as he approached the dais.
But he drew the most enthusiastic response when he noted that Black
Americans had supported and worked for the freedom of Zimbabwe. He followed
that pronouncement with words I have never forgotten: "Come home,
therefore." In one movement all in attendance jumped to their feet and the
shouts and cheers were deafening. Mugabe was at home with his extended
family and, in our eyes, he was a hero.
Now, almost 27 years later, Mugabe and his Zanu PF party still rule
Zimbabwe, but much of the gloss of the revolutionary struggle has long been
dulled by the difficult work of nation-building and by troubling news of
increasing government repression and intolerance of dissent.
Out of Zimbabwe's struggle a new nation and national identity has been
established, ostensibly on the rule of law and on the idea of the
inviolability of the human rights of its people.Today, however, even the
most stalwart supporter of Zimbabwe's government should be compelled to
speak out given the latest evidence and reports of unprovoked violence on
the part of its police and the military.
Mugabe's and Zanu PF's rule and leadership recalls the old question of
succession in the African state and the tendency, in some cases, for rulers
to cling to power long after their leadership has been shown to be
Disturbing and credible reports continue to pour in from human rights
agencies that have monitored the day to day situation in Zimbabwe. Those
reports highlight random beatings and intimidation of persons who are
members of, or suspected members of, the opposition. Many have been
reluctant to criticise Mugabe and argue that old enemies in the country and
Western nations long dissatisfied with the path Zimbabwe has taken are the
source of most of the criticism.
Yet the evidence is mounting and has, for at least the last year, been
clear and unequivocal.
Most will certainly point to conclusions of the special emergency
summit by the Southern African Development Community (Sadc), a 14-nation
regional bloc of which Zimbabwe is a member, reached in March in Tanzania.
The communiqué from the summit rebuffed the most radical calls for Mugabe's
ouster and directed President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa to mediate between
Mugabe and opposition forces.
Yet, Philip Alston, a United Nations special rapporteur joined the
growing list of human rights officials to call Mugabe to task. He called on
Zimbabwe's government to immediately halt the use of lethal forces on
members of opposition forces.
Alston identifies several specific cases: "the killing of Gift
Tandare, and the shooting of Nickson Magondo and Naison Mashambanhaka at
point blank range". He states: "Mugabe owes the Zimbabwean people a speedy
and impartial inquiry into these and other instances of violence and
Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) and a recent victim of a police beating, has announced his
support for Mbeki's mediation and has indicated willingness to trust his
Another test for Mugabe and Zanu PF looms ahead as the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions has begun to organise mass stay-aways of workers to
bring more pressure on the government to address wage and other issues.
These actions are likely to further test the already strained relations
between the government and civil society.
What is the appropriate response of the solidarity community? What
responsibility do we have, and to what historical processes do we tie our
First, we must be sure that our response should be a measured one that
acknowledges the difficulty of the transition to stability after centuries
of colonial rule. Second, we must recognise that we have a greater
responsibility to honour our covenant with the people of Zimbabwe.
It is these articles of faith that require us to speak out directly
against the violations of human rights that have marked the rule of
President Mugabe over the past few years. Perhaps it was our fault that we
did not maintain the intensity of contact first established during those
long years of the armed struggle.
Maybe we could have been more materially involved. It would be easy to
dismiss our critique as misguided at best, and complicit with Western (ie
US, Great Britain) powers that have long shown disdain for Mugabe's rule.
Neither of these is as important as the protection of the rights of
Zimbabwe's people. It would be both unethical and disastrous to remain
As responsible and committed activists we must press Zanu PF and
Mugabe to restore the full protection of all agencies of government to all
of Zimbabwe's people without qualification. If we remain silent we break the
covenant we entered 27 years ago in a small auditorium in Washington, DC.
* Dr Joseph Jordan is senior policy advisor, TransAfrica Forum, and
director of the Sonja Haynes Stone Centre for Black Culture and History at
the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
By Chris Mhike
THE recent physical attack on Law Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ)
councillors -- Beatrice Mtetwa, Colin Kuhuni, senior lawyer Terence
Fitzpatrick and myself - on the outskirts of Harare, and the assault of a
host of other distinguished lawyers in the city centre was brutal and
Equally barbaric was the treatment that lawyers Alec Muchadehama and
Andrew Makoni received from the state apparatus in the first week of May.
The latest act of state barbarism involved the arrest and prosecution of
lawyer - Jonathan Samkange.
The reigning rogue regime, the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), the
prosecution system and, to some extent, the magistracy in the country have
all taken part in the barbaric persecution of the legal fraternity.
It was barbaric for ZRP officers to drag the four lawyers from Harare's
New Government Complex, which houses the Attorney-General's offices. It was
barbaric of the state agents to drive the attorneys out of the city centre
for the sole object of bashing them without the invocation of any laws.
It did not matter to the state agents that the lawyers were in their
courtroom attire, and that all four were expressing their constitutional
freedoms of expression, assembly and movement.
The state agents' failure to spare Fitzpatrick (70) from the beatings,
at least out of respect for his advanced age, is clearly barbaric. The
assailants were unashamedly happy to lash a woman - Mtetwa.
Scores of other lawyers including Mordecai Mahlangu, Irene Sawyer,
Irene Petras, Tendai Biti, Chris Seddon and others in the city centre were
apparently clobbered for walking away from the anti-riot troops, instead of
The reason for the abduction and subsequent assault on the councillors
remain a mystery. The ZRP officer commanding Harare alleged at the New
Government Complex that Mtetwa, Kuhuni, Mhike and Fitzpatrick had tried to
be "clever". But that can hardly be a reason for assault.
The four were never taken to a police station. They were never placed
under arrest. They were not formally advised of the basis for the assault.
A week before the battering of the lawyers, Muchadehama and Makoni had
been locked up over the weekend at Matapi police station and at Stoddart
police station (in Mbare). Their "crime" was their presentation to court
clients' cases in bail proceedings.
It is barbaric for the state to fail to appreciate the axiomatic
reality that it is a lawyer's duty to represent citizens in criminal and
Even with three High Court orders that declared the arrest of the
lawyers to be illegal, a less authoritative court, the Harare Magistrates
Court, still decided to exercise jurisdiction over persons who had been
illegally arraigned before the magistrate's court.
In a democratic society, it is barbaric for anybody to ignore the
orders of a High Court, or orders from any other competent judicial
The arrest of Samkange by the police was premised on allegations that
he had breached immigration laws. The state withdrew charges against the
lawyer not long after the matter had been presented in court, reportedly on
the realisation by the prosecution that the state did not have sufficient
evidence against Samkange.
The ZRP had arrested to investigate instead of investigating to
There have been numerous incidents over the past few months when
scores of lawyers have been chased away from police stations, without just
cause. Police officers and other authorities have often refused to allow
lawyers access to clients.
Threats to the lives of human rights lawyers have been issued by the
police and by intelligence agents in recent weeks. Many legal practitioners
are now scared of delivering court documents at police stations. It has
increasingly become difficult for lawyers to carry out their duties freely
The concerns of the lawyers are being taken to the relevant offices by
leaders of the Law Society, but for now the legal profession is under
extraordinary siege. It is barbaric for any society to erect impediments in
the way of lawyers. Almost every person needs the services of a lawyer at
one point or another in life.
The assaults of the LSZ councillors and other lawyers, the
incarceration of Muchadehama and Makoni and the raid on their offices as
well as the premature arrest and prosecution of Samkange are worrisome.
The verbal attacks on LSZ president Mtetwa and the society that she
leads by Nathaniel Manheru (whoever he might be) in the state-controlled
Herald newspaper and Tafataona Mahoso's feasts on the LSZ in the Sunday Mail
are shameful. All these and other forms of harassment of lawyers by the
state make up a bundle of barbaric conduct.
The punishment that lawyers have recently suffered is unacceptable
because it is not premised on law. Even the ancient Romans who existed many
centuries before our current generation knew that nulla crimen, nulla poena
sine lege. That is to say there can be no crime, no punishment without law.
The suffering lawyers did not break any law, yet they met with very
painful punishment. If ancient generations were civilised enough to respect
lawyers and the rule of law, there is no reason for modern Zimbabweans to
treat each other with so much barbarism, in 2007.
It is therefore up to the executive arm of the state, up to the ZRP,
up to the Attorney-General's office, up to the magistrates and judges and up
to all other persons and offices that wield political and judicial power to
* Chris Mhike is a Harare-based lawyer.
'DECLARE sanctions illegal," Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa was
quoted as urging the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights in
Ghana last week.
But we thought sanctions were already illegal? That is what government
spokesmen have told us ad nauseam.
Journalists from the state media have even been instructed to put the
word "illegal" before any mention of sanctions against Zimbabwe. So how come
Chinamasa now feels the need to seek AU solidarity? This was in order for
Africa "to avoid being seen as acting in complicity with the neo-colonial
machinations of the West", he claimed.
So, quite obviously Africa doesn't already see the sanctions as
illegal. It may not agree with them, but it understands that the US, EU and
others have every right to enact laws regarding their response to misrule in
And as there has been a deathly hush in reply to Chinamasa's call for
solidarity, Africa would appear to be in no hurry to brand sanctions illegal
or affirm its solidarity with the delinquent regime in Harare.
Things generally are not going Zimbabwe's way, it would seem. That
very revealing report by the African Commission's fact-finding team of five
years ago is still knocking around. And there will now be a follow-up as
Zimbabwe once again comes under the spotlight.
Chinamasa's attempt to exploit the memory of Patrice Lumumba and Kwame
Nkrumah will cut no ice. Zimbabwe is widely seen as having betrayed its
nationalist legacy. As for his appeal to have shortwave radio stations
closed down, Chinamasa should first provide access for Zimbabweans to their
public media in line with court rulings. So long as that avenue remains
blocked people will be left with no alternative but to have recourse to
radio stations that are open to all. Chinamasa should surely be able to see
the logic of that.
Meanwhile, government should ensure that ZBH provides a more
professional service. At present it remains partisan, clumsy and
discredited. Listen to Reuben Barwe commenting on EU ambassadors last week
and it will be immediately obvious that there is no professional supervision
at the "national" broadcaster. Henry: Do something quickly before all five
of your remaining viewers abandon ship. Apparently just about everybody in
Mbare now has access to a DStv dish!
Still with sanctions, the state media is having a competition to see
who can make the rudest remarks about John Howard. Given the
rough-and-tumble of Australian politics, he is unlikely to feel particularly
hurt by the juvenile invective of Zimbabwe's state commentators.
We were for instance shocked to hear that Herald commentator Godwills
Masimirembwa is actually a lawyer and not a Form II pupil. He sees it as his
patriotic duty to accuse the Australian government of all sorts of
atrocities against Aborigines without worrying too much about similar
practices taking place right under his nose.
He claims for instance that Aboriginal children torn from their
parents were subject to "rape, abuse, torture, murder and all forms of
inhuman treatment imaginable". So why doesn't he care that "rape, abuse,
torture, murder and all forms of inhuman treatment" have been taking place
right here in Zimbabwe since 3/11? In other words, just the other day, not
Why are these hypocritical state apologists more concerned with
Australia's "brutal human rights record" than their own government's? At
least Australians can publicly debate their country's record without getting
hit over the head with a police baton.
It is also instructive that state apologists can only blame Howard for
the sins of his forebears whereas we have live actors committing egregious
atrocities as we enter what has been dubbed "Africa's century".
And how about this for absurd logic: "Some of our confused brothers
and sisters.adore racist whites so much that a baton stick beating from a
white constable is venerated while that from a black constable is considered
an abuse of human rights."
Is this the best he can do? Would you want this guy representing you
Meanwhile, Howard has enjoyed a sudden surge of popularity around his
decision to bar the Australian team from coming to Zimbabwe. At the same
time ICC boss Malcolm Speed, an Australian, has come in for a drubbing.
Here's the view of one website host who reflects the sentiments of
many Australians on the role of the ICC: "The ICC apparently sees the issue
of playing cricket in Zimbabwe as a political one and absolves itself of any
responsibility other than on 'cricketing issues'. This is nonsense - and
offensive nonsense at that.
"Just as corporations are expected to think beyond the narrow confines
of their business and consider the impact of their actions on all
stakeholders, so should sporting administrators. The ICC should have said
many years ago that to play cricket in or with Zimbabwe whilst Mugabe's evil
menace casts a shadow on everything in that country, is just plain wrong.
"This would not have been a political decision but simply a moral one.
And the 'spirit of cricket', which the ICC hypocritically claims to uphold,
would have been much enhanced if they had placed principles before profits.
But that is always far too much to ask of the ICC."
Let's note that despite virulent denunciation of Australia in
government circles, some of the country's most prominent personalities are
keen to have their children educated there. Strange isn't it?
We liked the Herald heading: "Give Zim a chance say African MPs."
We read the article excitedly to see how many MPs had spoken up for
Zimbabwe. All three of them it transpires! And the Ethiopian ruling party MP
felt Zimbabwe should be given "space" to sort out its "challenges".
Did he think of asking the government to give civil society space, or
indeed anybody apart from Zanu PF? How much space was Morgan Tsvangirai
given to express his party's views? And we couldn't help but notice the
"cacophonous" chuckle Nathaniel Manheru had with his police colleagues over
the fate of Beatrice Mtetwa. And then he can't understand why his "image
promotion" doesn't work!
Price, Incomes Act hailed," the Business Herald told us on Monday. In
fact the only person hailing it was Jonathan Kadzura. Others were more
"The problems we are facing," Kadzura claimed, "are mostly emanating
from speculation. This is a speculative economy operating on rumour .hedged
on clear sabotage."
He didn't tell us how much "sabotage" could be attributed to
government spending money hand over fist. Why doesn't Kadzura spell out the
impact of money-printing on inflation? He needs to understand there will be
no "soberising" of speculation so long as government refuses to curb its
expenditure. And there cannot be one rule for the private sector, preventing
it from recovering costs, and another for parastatals hiking charges at
Let's return to this spot in three months time and see whether Kadzura's
enthusiasm for an unworkable prices and incomes body is still holding up. We
suspect not. But he will then no doubt be cheering on whatever new
initiative ministers dream up as their next panacea.
Perhaps the most ludicrous implication in the whole sanctions
red-herring is that were it not for sanctions, Zimbabwe's economy would be
functioning smoothly; that there would be no inflation, no agricultural
collapse, and no shortages of any sort.
All we need do to test the accuracy of that claim is to examine the
situation from 1997-2002, ie the immediate pre-sanctions era.
How well-managed was the economy then? Does anybody remember the
unbudgeted handouts to war veterans; the warnings by the IMF; the president's
disregard for the rule of law and the violence that accompanied the 2000
poll? Remember also the costly flight of megalomania that led us into the
DRC. Is it seriously suggested that Zimbabwe would have been better managed
or more prosperous today?
Anybody trying to attribute our current problems to sanctions is
guilty of gross dishonesty and a short memory.
We were interested to see the problems Sydney Mufamadi is
experiencing. This is the man President Thabo Mbeki has chosen to head his
mediation team in Zimbabwe.
As Minister of Local Government Mufamadi was responsible for ignoring
the wishes of the people of Merafong municipality in Khutsong township on
the West Rand who made it clear they did not want to be transferred to North
West province. They wanted to remain with Gauteng where their prospects were
At public hearings the residents overwhelmingly favoured the retention
of Merafong within Gauteng. So did the demarcation board. Mufamadi ignored
There has subsequently been an outbreak of violence in Khutsong as
residents resist incorporation into North West.
"Having helped these processes into play," the Johannesburg Sunday
Times says, "Mufamadi lit the metaphorical fuse when he totally ignored the
board's recommendations and went ahead with the incorporation of Merafong
into North West."
The paper condemned the violence that has erupted in the area. "But,"
it says, "our strongest condemnation is reserved for Mufamadi, the man who
lit the fire and walked away."
Let's hope his hearing has improved when he next visits Zimbabwe.
e liked a Comment in the Sunday News last weekend urging Zimbabwe to
take advantage of the opportunities provided by 2010 World Cup.
"We can say without apologies that Zimbabwe could easily capitalise on
South Africa's high crime rate," the editorial said.
Indeed, travellers can expect a vigorous welcome at Harare airport
where criminals recently assaulted a departing MP with iron bars. Then there
is the welcome visitors may receive outside the High Court or in Africa
Unity Square. Try supporting Zimbabwe's lawyers or civil society and see
Wherever they go, tourists can expect to see our officials at their
most hospitable. Ask Sekai Holland or Grace Kwinjeh.
And then of course there is the small matter of power and water.
Visitors must get used to the idea of showering with cold water - in the
dark. But it's just one of many "challenges" that make a trip to Zimbabwe so
By Eric Bloch
ANYONE determinedly bent upon the total destruction of an economy
could do so no more effectively than is being done by Zimbabwe's government
(irrespective of whether or not that is its intent). That which could
readily be the second strongest economy in southern Africa, and possibly
even in sub-Saharan Africa, has over the last 10 years been progressively
brought to its knees, rendering it now one of the weakest economies in the
No other country is sustaining hyperinflation of the magnitude of
Zimbabwe. Prices are doubling in as short a period as one month, while
year-on-year inflation soared to over 3 700% last month, according to the
Central Statistical Office - but actual inflation suffered by most is very
Foreign exchange is becoming an almost extinct species, severely
exacerbating the economic crisis, for Zimbabwe is unavoidably a very
import-dependent country. The infrastructure is collapsing, with most being
deprived of electricity almost daily, water supplies being erratic and
inadequate, telecommunication facilities being less effective than tom-toms
or smoke signals, skilled persons flooding out of the country, businesses
fast collapsing, economic crime intensifying exponentially, corruption
becoming endemic and investment now almost non-existent.
As often addressed in this column, all of these dismal and
catastrophic economic circumstances are incontrovertibly the consequence of
governmental acts of commission and omission, of obdurate adherence to
proven disastrous polices, of dogmatic rejection of well-intended, sound
advices from the private sector, the international community, and others, of
rigid pursuit of a command economy, and unreserved rejection of economic
fundamentals. But despite all these, the economy has not yet been totally
destroyed, demonstrating a very remarkable resilience which has so far
enabled its survival, although horrendously weakened and shrunken.
Unfortunately, the government patently has an inability to recognise
realities. It has an unshakable obsession that it can do no wrong, and that
it is positively omnipotent and that, therefore, culpability for the abysmal
economic circumstances falls wholly upon others. Among those others, it
perceives a prime culprit to be the business community. Continuously
government berates commerce and industry for price escalations, angrily
accusing almost all in those sectors of the diabolical crime of
That such price increases are almost entirely necessitated by
endlessly surging costs is totally disregarded. Those in business are
confronted with price increases as greatly as is the populace as a whole.
They have to increase salaries and wages continuously, in part to alleviate
the ravages of inflation upon their employees, and in part because of the
escalating brain drain, and consequentially increasingly great scarcity of
skilled persons. They are faced with soaring increases in charges of local
authorities, parastatals and the government itself.
By way of examples, postal charges were increased last week by 800%,
having been increased only three months ago, and the official inflation rate
for those three months being less than 400%.
This week the fee for registration of a company rose from $5 000 to
$500 000 - so much for the government's espousal of facilitating economic
The cost of a passport rose from $500 to $150 000!
Petrol prices have risen, over two months, from about $12 000 per
litre to $36 000.
State-controlled newspapers have increased their prices almost monthly
this year and, undoubtedly entirely coincidentally announced those increases
on the same pages as contained their vitriolic criticisms of retailers and
industrialists for increasing prices.
Because, in its vigorous endeavours to deflect blame from itself, the
government has so pronouncedly blamed the business world for Zimbabwe's
cataclysmic inflation, it has completely convinced itself that that is so,
it has now decided to take even stronger actions than previously against
those as it contends (almost completely without foundation are the cause of
Previously, it foolhardily and ineffectually imposed selective price
increases, thereby stimulating shortages and fuelling a virile black market.
When those failed to curb inflation, the government resorted to excessively
recriminatory actions, inclusive of unjustified arrests and prolonged
imprisonment pending release on bail.
But those actions also failed to contain inflation, for the real
causes lay almost wholly with the government, inclusive of profligate
spending in excess of resources, destruction of productivity in agriculture,
mining, industry and tourism, failure to do anything constructive to contain
inflation, gross economic mismanagement, and much else.
Those stronger actions are founded upon the promulgation of the
National Incomes and Pricing Commission Act. Having passed through
parliament and the senate, it almost immediately thereafter received the
The commission will comprise an economist (as chairperson), two
persons from the business sector, one from each of labour and the Consumer
Council of Zimbabwe and a lawyer. In part, the commission's function will be
to monitor prices and incomes, and to give advice thereon, and none can
credibly fault that.
However, the Act goes much further, for it provides for draconian
actions of prosecution and excessively severe sentences for alleged
over-pricing of goods and services, and facilitates imposition of yet
further economically destructive, highly inflationary, price controls.
Experience has been defined as "making a different mistake next time",
in which event the government must be regarded as extraordinarily
inexperienced, despite having been in office for over 27 years. Instead of
making different mistakes, it recurrently makes the same mistakes again and
again, obtusely blinding itself to the appalling consequences of the
multitudinous errors it has endlessly made.
The government fails to take the constructive actions that would
reverse the accelerating economic collapse, but instead repeatedly depresses
the accelerator of ruination more and more. It steadfastly refuses to accord
any cognisance to economic fundamentals.
It rigidly pursues ever-greater control of the economy, resulting in
the economy continuously shrinking, until ultimately it will have nothing to
control. It persists in its constant intimidation of, and threats against,
private enterprise, failing to recognise that none can survive if forced to
sell at non-viable prices.
Moreover, its constant recourse to ever greater control, instead of
deregulation, its oppressive economic governance, instead of trade
liberalisation, and its ongoing vituperative abuse of the captains of
commerce and industry, further discourages much-needed investment, both
domestic and foreign.
It discourages entrepreneurship, and it motivates intensified
circumvention of law, with resultant ever-greater alternative markets'
inflationary operations. It will bring about further business closures, and
yet another flood of skills (from the lesser numbers of skilled still in
Zimbabwe) to other countries, which have healthy, growth economies and just,
equitable, productive governance.
The National Incomes and Pricing Commission Act is yet another nail in
Zimbabwe's coffin, but the government neither has the maturity to modify or
repeal that legislation, or to reject its addiction to total control.
By Dumisani Muleya
AS our troubled nation hits its lowest point of depression,
economically as well as psychologically, it is becoming increasingly clear
that a New Deal that addresses fundamental issues is needed to get us out of
the current morass.
There is an urgent need for a total package of measures that deals
with a gamut of issues - socially, politically and economically - that are
part and parcel of the problems facing this nation today.
This means that the form and substance of the change that Zimbabweans
now seek must be comprehensively debated honestly in order to, firstly,
properly define the problems, and secondly find solutions that address their
A proper historical and contemporary context of our situation must be
adequately outlined. There are various overlapping historical and current
issues which define what Zimbabwe is and ought to be. This does not mean
people must get caught in a time warp and lose focus on the future in the
process. This is simply required to help in finding the right solutions to
the problems we face.
More often than not we tend to deal with the present problems either
in a blatantly revisionist way or simply out of context. For instance, a
number of our political players often claim that our problems only started
seven years ago. This sort of diagnosis does not help in resolving the
crisis. Selective amnesia and manifestly dishonest explanations of issues
make it more complicated to resolve the situation.
While it is clear in the minds of ordinary Zimbabweans that this
country was a much better place to live in - at least for some people -
between 1980 and 2000, it is also true that it was during that period that
the seeds of tyranny and attendant problems were sown. Some of the seeds of
current problems were of course sown before 1980.
Human rights abuses, for instance, have always been there in this
country. The only difference is the publicity current abuses receive.
Another related case in point, repression of the opposition and suppression
of civil and political liberties, and dissent have always been a
stock-in-trade of this regime. They did not start in 2000.
When President Robert Mugabe came to power in 1980 proclaiming the
dawn of a new era, he inherited a settler colonial state and its
institutions - including its repressive laws - and failed to transform it
into a new society. Instead, and surprisingly for someone claiming to be a
revolutionary, Mugabe kept the colonial state apparatus and the laws to use
against his erstwhile comrades in the liberation struggle. The state of
emergency for instance remained in place.
The repressive apparatus was used to consolidate and maintain power.
It is now clear, in particular in retrospect, that Mugabe's main
objective - and virtually an end in itself - was to ruthlessly pursue and
maintain power at all costs.
This was made worse by the fact that Mugabe had no coherent vision,
hence policy inconsistencies and their consequences.
Mugabe's regime failed to come up with a practical agenda for social
and economic transformation of the colonial order, except for the expansion
of the public sector, to increase growth and employment opportunities. It
had no programme to add value to our vast agricultural and mineral
resources. Today Zimbabwe is poorer, while it is potentially one of the
richest states in Africa.
Zimbabweans, especially opinion leaders, have a responsibility to set
the historical record straight and establish the context of current problems
to honestly address issues. Revisionism and selective amnesia will only
compound our situation. Political parties stand indicted in the court of
public opinion for failing to explain the root causes and context of our
problems. We face another obsession with power for its own sake.
In the post-Mugabe era, Zimbabwe needs a New Deal (not necessarily the
Roosevelt version) to ensure a thorough-going transformation. We need a new
democratic constitution with a strong Bill of Rights, a new system of
governance - not just a new government - and a progressive political and
economic paradigm. We need to shift our mindsets and have a new philosophy
to guide us into the future.
This requires that certain retrogressive practices be stamped out: a
culture of intolerance, tyranny, state brutality and political violence. We
must also stop bad practices such as putting corrupt and incompetent people
in public office simply because they are homeboys. We need to deal with
nepotism, tribalism and greed.
Divisive ethnic rivalries and cultural oppression must stop.
The us versus them mentality must also stop if we are to move forward
as a united nation.
The ongoing looting of public resources by the politically-connected -
guided by the culture of wolfish individualism - has to stop now.
A New Deal is urgently needed to address this critical situation. It
must be comprehensive in thrust and purpose. Otherwise, change for the sake
of change will not help us.
RESERVE Bank governor Gideon Gono is most probably right when he says
he is facing problems that none of his predecessors faced in his current
job. He is probably right also in asserting that he needs to adopt different
strategies in dealing with a fast-shrinking economy and challenges unique to
Zimbabwe's land reform programme. These are obviously problems which
previous governors didn't encounter.
Reading his address to senators and MPs last week, we detected a sense
of desperation in Gono's remarks, more strained than when he first made the
declaration that failure was not an option nearly four years ago.
We are not concerned about calls for him to quit. That is an entirely
personal decision. What we do find worrying is that more and more of his
actions are assuming a direct political slant as the economic crisis
As a result of the crisis the country is going through, he finds
himself responding to competing urgent demands for scarce foreign currency
from various government departments and parastatals. These are
understandably pressures which his predecessors didn't have to confront on
the same scale given the availability of foreign currency reserves and a
fairly healthy economy then.
Since he took over the reins at the Reserve Bank with a clear task to
reduce inflation, it has spiralled out of control. This is in part because
of the RBZ's deep involvement in quasi-fiscal operations which Gono says is
a matter of necessity, but also because despite pouring huge amounts of
money into various ministries, key sectors like agriculture have been too
slow to respond. More importantly, there is no clear indication that
government as a whole has the same passion to achieve the targets that Gono
is fighting to achieve.
While he says he is ready to do the "unorthodox" to meet the requests
of ministries and parastatals, it is not evident that he has everybody's
support, which undermines his chances of success.
How much subsidised fuel set aside for agriculture actually goes into
production? How accountable are the parastatals to whom he dishes out money?
In fact he answered that himself when he indicated that most of them were
far behind with their books of accounts compared to private companies.
Then there is the question of continued disruptions of farming
activities by people claiming to have been issued with new offer letters to
occupy farms already under productive use. He has warned in the past of
senior government officials who had become career land-occupiers moving from
one farm to another. Have these activities stopped? Evidently not judging by
remarks from people like Didymus Mutasa. So how does Gono hope to "turn
around the economy" without certainty of tenure by those already producing?
What we found most worrying however is Gono's assertion that: "We have
no remorse when we do the unorthodox. We offer no apologies and remorse for
taking this stance."
It is a dangerous statement loaded with more political content than
economic sense. Unorthodox methods simply mean you cease to be accountable
to anybody. It means the RBZ reserves for itself the sole discretion to use
national resources the way it sees fit regardless of their implications for
other sectors not so favoured with its largesse. These are precisely the
actions which have been blamed for fuelling inflation which Gono long ago
declared the nation's Number One enemy. There is no doubt that the enemy now
finds nourishment from RBZ policies, whatever Gono's defence of those
But the issue of unorthodox actions goes beyond the Reserve Bank
itself. It takes away from Gono the moral high ground he claimed for himself
when he forced the closure of several banks after his arrival at the RBZ in
2003. He said most of them were operating in violation of RBZ regulations
and outside their scope of business. In short they were engaged in
Their reasons were varied, but most likely they were responding to the
demands of the time - high inflation, shortages of foreign currency which
they had to source from the black market and a skewed exchange rate. They
apparently had realised much earlier than Gono that the environment they
were operating in demanded more than textbook economics.
Unfortunately these explanations did not, declared Gono, allow them
the latitude to break the law even though in many cases they had been aided
and abetted by the Reserve Bank itself. Now, by claiming the right to be
unorthodox he emulates the president's objection to "bookish" economics and
opens the floodgates to every financial institution to follow his example!
How is the Reserve Bank going to police other financial institutions
when it willingly adopts unorthodox business and operational practices whose
efficacy is dubious at best and damaging at worst? If anything, printing and
splurging money on wasteful ministries and parastatals have done the most to
defeat everything Gono set out to do - turn around the economy. Or were we
misled as to his mission? Whatever the case, he has still not told the
nation what it needs to do to curb inflation in a language ordinary people
can understand. What are his targets? Where is he unable to make progress
and why? Or has he simply given up?
By Joram Nyathi
PROFESSOR Walter Kamba died on May 18. It was exactly a month from
Zimbabwe's Independence anniversary celebrations on April 18, a day he
helped so much to bring to fruition at Lancaster House with his legal
acumen, but which he was not able to attend this year due to ill-health.
Having made his contribution to the deliberations which gave birth to
Zimbabwe, Kamba was rewarded with the University of Zimbabwe
vice-chancellorship in 1980 and quietly left politics to politicians - and
what a fine mess they have made of those hopes and aspirations!
I first came face to face with Professor Kamba as a first year student
at the UZ in March 1983. He addressed us in front of the Library in his
ringing voice, telling us: "You are now adults. You have come to learn.
There is no headmaster and you will be your own supervisor." Anyway, words
to that effect.
We listened, mesmerised as we had just come from high school and were
"fortunate" to be admitted to this awesome institution to further our
education. Coming from far flung rural settings, everything looked majestic,
from the imposing library building itself to the lecture theatres and halls
of residence. Food was aplenty and a matter of choice.
It was during Kamba's tenure that enrolment spiralled from hundreds to
We set about our work. Lecturers were revered then. Students competed
to be the highest in class. I think there was only one strike action in my
first three years there, during which I won two prizes. There was plenty of
tribal politics but things were kept under control. Politicians competed to
come and address students on what was going on in the country. There was a
turf war on campus between Zanu and PF-Zapu. Matabeleland and the Midlands
were on fire and drenched in blood.
Edgar Tekere was one of the politicians whose lectures I attended
because of his characteristic fiery speeches. He declared before a mixture
of terrified and ululating students that the "problem in Matabeleland needs
a military solution". That is all I remember. I was sure the tales I was
hearing from relatives in Bulawayo were true and part of government policy.
It was the last time I attended those poisonous and intoxicating lectures.
I still don't know whether the 1987 deal between Zanu PF and PF-Zapu
was a political or military one. But looking at the way the opposition and
the ruling party relate, I can say we haven't made a paradigm shift in how
we handle political differences.
Still, the university remained a place of relative peace if you kept
out of active politics, and Kamba managed fairly well.
Things have since changed. Kamba did not just "retire" but left the
University of Zimbabwe a bitter man. He watched with disgust as politicians
corrupted and compromised the quality of education. I still recall when he
left in 1990, protesting against "too many unprofessional fingers
interfering" in university affairs. He felt what was happening impaired the
integrity of the university and that there was no more "free inquiry" by
students, something which universities the world over seek to foster.
From there Kamba was involved in a lot of "consultancy" work in and
out of the country. With his keen legal mind, he must have watched in
despair as the country slipped into lawlessness and the University of
Zimbabwe was reduced to a kindergarten where the riot police have become
frequent visitors, student halls have no windowpanes, ablutions don't work,
girls engage in prostitution to pay fees and to buy food and the Library has
Vice-Chancellor Professor Levi Nyagura recently told a parliamentary
portfolio committee that the university had less than half the required
lecturers. There were around 600 lecturers when the university needs about 1
200, he said. The rest have left the country for the proverbial greener
pastures while those still holed up in there have been on strike for longer
than they have been in the lecture rooms.
Professor Nyagura fell short of saying some faculties had shut down.
This is not something Kamba would have been proud of as he contemplated his
legacy in the past few weeks - that all his efforts in transforming the
University of Zimbabwe from a small colonial institution to a national
centre of learning had collapsed under a black government. Ugandans were
quick to forgive Idi Amin for the ruin of Makerere University because he was
regarded as a buffoon.
More than that, Kamba would have been bitter that his contribution to
the rule of law and the integrity of the judiciary is appreciated more in a
foreign country - Namibia - than in his land of birth. To crown the insult,
it is possible that Kamba may not have dreamt of a burial at the Heroes
Acre, but it must be galling that a foreigner he met only in the 1980s found
the time to write his obituary out of all the Zimbabweans whose lives he
touched and possibly transformed.
To that foreigner belongs the last word. Swedish ambassador Sten
Rylander said of Kamba: "He was not one of those who looked back or who
remained in the past. His main concern was not that Zimbabwe would be a
colony again. He had foresight; he always looked forward - for constructive
solutions and initiatives that could break the negative spiral and put
Zimbabwe on a more positive path."
May his soul rest in peace.
A govt that has outlived its usefulness
IF anyone had any doubts left in their minds that our government has
outlived its usefulness, I'm sure the answers are now evident for all to see
You see, a government that fails to provide the most basic of needs -
water and electricity - has outlived its "Go by" date.
Everyone, whether rich, middle class or the poorest has been reduced
to feel the effects of a country that is just coming out of war, albeit that
there has been no war for over three decades. From Borrowdale Brooke suburb
to Kuwadzana 3, the situation is the same. No water, no power.
That our taps are dry and our lights are constantly off leaves much to
be desired of the responsible parastatals, Zesa and Zinwa. I am a
professional and it is shameful for me to carry around a 20-litre container
to bring water home from my place of employment, if the water is available
It is shameful for Zinwa and the City Council to be slinging mud at
each other about who did what and who didn't do what while we are being
deprived of a basic good. What even stinks more is that we are willing and
are actually paying for the non-existant services.
Has Zinwa ever thought of the hazard they are posing through their
mismanagement? What happens at schools and hospitals that have to do without
Zinwa employees seem not to know their mandate. Burst water pipes go
for days on end gushing out precious water before Zinwa attends.
Zinwa's minister, Munacho Mutezo and his deputy, Walter Mzembi, top
the list of those clueless about what's expected of them during their tenure
in office. It must be spelt clearly to Mutezo and Mzembi that it's not about
touring water works in those white lab coats and helmets or pretending to be
clever in front of the camera.
Another lie we are told is that Zesa wants to ensure that winter wheat
farmers have uninterupted power supplies so the rest us must grope in the
dark for 20 hours. However, we also hear from the Agriculture ministry that
only about 10% of the needed wheat has been planted. So, where is the rest
of the power?
Zim has nothing to contribute to UN, ADB or Comesa
THE government has been excited in the last few weeks after it landed
three "top posts" namely;
* To head the United Nations Commission for Sustainable Economic
* The executive board of the Africa Development Bank (ADB);
* The Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa)
Whats all the noise about from government? What the man on the street
wants to know is how is Zimbabwe heading all these bodies going to bring
down inflation and fix our economic woes?
What I also want to know is what is Zimbabwe going to contribute to
Francis Nhema has been accused of invading a farm and running it down,
He is a minister in a government that has reduced its populace to levels of
poverty we never thought possible in this country. Are these the examples of
sustainable economic development that Zimbabwe would like to teach other UN
As the head of that UN body, Nhema will also have to approach rich
countries to source for donor funds. With the corruption record Zimbabwe
has, who will entrust their foreign currency with Nhema.
What can Zimbabwe teach the ADB? Maybe lessons on mismanagement will
be what we can do best.
As for Comesa appointing a country with the highest inflation in the
world, all I can say is - shameful!
These appointments bring the credibility of these three bodies into
serious doubt. Did they think about the implication that Zimbabwe brings to
There is a serious political crisis in Zimbabwe. The concerned
parties, Zanu PF and MDC cannot even sit down and talk. We have had to
enlist the services of Thabo Mbeki to mediate.
Zimbabwe government leaders cannot teach other African countries
anything outside of corruption and mismanagement.