Monsters and Critics
May 31, 2007, 7:59 GMT
Harare/Johannesburg - Hundreds of residents in the impoverished Harare
suburb of Epworth invaded a local primary school after rumours spread that
diamonds had been discovered in the playgrounds, reports said Thursday.
The fortune seekers, armed with picks and shovels and some carrying babies
on their backs, disrupted classes, broke down a security wall at Chinamano
Primary School and dug up school grounds in a frenzied search for gems, the
state-controlled Herald newspaper said.
But all they found were pieces of quartz, according to the report.
School authorities woke up (on Wednesday) to see hordes of men and women
with picks and shovels combing the schoolyard to dig for diamonds, the paper
Police called in to restore order were at one point pelted with stones by
the miners who felt it was their right to mine for riches, it added.
The would-be diamond hunters were spurred on by recent stories of
desperately poor villagers in the Marange district of eastern Zimbabwe
becoming rich overnight following the discovery of real diamonds.
But Mines Ministry officials who visited Chinamano School in Epworth said
that the stones picked up were not diamonds, or anything of value, the
The rush is reported to have started after one of the pupils at the school
picked up two pieces of quartz-like stone and took them to show his
Rumours then spread that diamonds had been found at the school, resulting in
the invasion on Tuesday that lasted through the night, according to the
'I teamed up with other women in this area and we came here to find out for
ourselves,' Merjury Kunaka was quoted as saying.
Last year the government annulled a claim to a diamond field in Marange
owned by a foreign mining firm and opened the floodgates to thousands of
people, many of whom are reported to have struck it rich at the expense of
Zimbabwe's floundering economy.
Although the authorities say they have now restored order at the site, the
country's central bank governor estimates 400 million US dollars in
potential earnings was looted from Marange.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
By James Butty
31 May 2007
South African President Thabo Mbeki's role as a mediator between Zimbabwe
president Robert Mugabe and the opposition MDC is being criticized. Mbeki
is mandated by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to mediate
between the government and the opposition. But some opposition members of
South Africa's parliament say President Mbeki has shown leniency and even
favoritism toward President Mugabe.
Wetshotsile Seremane is the spokesman on African affairs for the opposition
Democratic Alliance. He explained to VOA why the opposition in South Africa
is not pleased with President Mbeki's mediation role.
"The reason is that they are putting conditions for the opposition that they
must cease being violent; they must accept that it is a legitimate
government. This is very wrong. When you mediate, you don't take sides. You
try to equalize the situation. You ask all parties that they must not be
violent against each other. But in this case when you tell the victims that
they must not be violent, and at the same time they must change their
opinion in terms of whether they regard the unfair election that were not
free as fraudulent, it is being unfair," he said.
Seremane said the South African opposition perceives President Mbeki's
mediation strategy as favoring President Mugabe of Zimbabwe.
"We are not passing judgment. We are saying whatever you do, do it on an
even-handed manner. To use the old idiom, what is good for the goose is good
for the gander. Don't try and be careless as though you have got a certain
bias to others and not to others too," Seremane said.
South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dllamini-Zuma had reportedly told
critics to stop taking a war approach to President Mbeki's mediation
But Seremane described the minister's comments as those of a pseudo-democrat
who does not want to use the tenets of democracy.
"What she is doing, she's being very reckless and childish in a sense that
people are dying there. You can report me as saying that it is absolute
nonsense and irresponsibility to say all is well let's forget about it. The
people are suffering in Zimbabwe, and they are transferring over here. And
if we fold our hands, there's going to be trouble in South Africa and the
whole southern Africa area will burn," he said.
Seremane said President Mugabe's criticism that some MDC members had been
getting training in South Africa to cause trouble in Zimbabwe is typical of
"If you look at all dictators, that's cheap propaganda they have been using.
Sometime I think that everywhere there is a tonic, it must be an enemy of
Africa. As I pointed out, there is a prophetic composer. He said our problem
that is in Africa, we keep on complaining that we are suffering. But if we
look deep into ourselves, we are our own creator of this suffering because
we are afraid to confront each other," Seremane said.
He said it is a figment of President Mugabe's own imagination that Britain
or the opposition in South Africa is seeking his overthrow.
"The opposition in South Africa wants Zimbabwe to succeed as it has the
potential to be some country that we can be proud of. But power corrupts,
and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Now we can say the police have gone
out of their minds. If you just say the government is doing this which is
wrong, you 're dead. Our Bantustans were just like that," Seremane said.
Aspen Daily News, Colorado
Nat Hentoff - Syndicated Columnist
Wed 05/30/2007 10:01PM MST
The United Nations is increasingly becoming a parody of itself while
American taxpayers last year provided $439 million to the regular U.N.
budget -- plus a headquarters in New York that the U.N. management wants to
expand. Not only has this dysfunctional and occasionally corrupt
organization failed to stop the genocide in Darfur, but on May 11, the
insatiably brutal Robert Mugabe's government of Zimbabwe was elevated by the
United Nations to chair its Commission on Sustainable Development -- dealing
with land, rural and economic development, and the environment.
Astonished, The Economist magazine (May 19) noted that Zimbabwe, once known
as "the breadbasket of Africa," has had its agriculture "largely destroyed
by its government's catastrophic policies."
This year, it was Africa's turn to lead the Commission on Sustainable
Development, and the U.N.'s African members shamefully and inexcusably
support Mugabe's government for that post.
Zimbabwe is a disaster area. The country's own Social Welfare Commission, as
reported by The New York Times on Dec. 19, found that 63 percent of the
rural population and 53 percent of the urban population cannot meet basic
Under Mugabe's rule, Zimbabwe's inflation is the highest on the planet --
more than 2,200 percent.
The African nations voting to bestow "legitimacy" on Mugabe's terrorism
against his own people closed their eyes and consciences to the fact -- as
reported by The Economist -- that "every day desperate Zimbabweans cross the
Limpopo river, braving crocodiles and occasionally drowning, to try their
luck in neighboring South Africa. Trapped into illegality there, many are
exploited and abused."
Meanwhile, the liberator of Zimbabwe from white rule into its present
wasteland is planning a 2008 campaign for an additional six-year term and a
$4 million museum (a "shrine") of his lifetime achievements (Washington
Times, May 2). Mugabe will surely win -- if not by acclamation then
certainly through long-practiced intimidation. In May, for example, he
forbade Zimbabwe journalists -- those who still risk beatings and prison for
reporting the truth -- from marching in commemoration of World Press Freedom
Day (New York Times, May 7).
While the United Nations elevates Mugabe to alert the world on vital issues
of sustainable development, Christopher Dell, who is ending a three-year
assignment as U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe, gave National Public Radio (May
15) his assessment of the living hell Mugabe has created:
"The metaphor I have is that it is like a lake. And as the waters of the
lake recede, more and more of the fish are being left to die in the mud. At
the center, the big fish are swimming around nicely and making huge
fortunes, huge fortunes."
Metaphor turns into reality in this Dec. 17 dispatch by Erik German of
Newsday from Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe:
"A few miles south from empty luxury hotels in this once dazzling tourist
spot, dozens of gaunt young men survive by scavenging food from the town
dump. Alan Sibanda, 23, has been coming here ... for the past five years,
scuffling with baboons and vultures for the least-rotten scraps. Since
midsummer, garbage has been his main source of food."
I guess the U.N. members who voted to honor Mugabe by making Zimbabwe the
head of the Commission on Sustainable Development didn't bother to interview
Sibanda before the final ballot.
To cap the current (and chronic) disgrace of the United Nations, guess who
the new officers of the U.N. Disarmament Commission are? The chair is Syria,
home of abundantly armed warring factions -- and the vice chair, believe it
or not, is Iran, the leading prospect to blow up its region of the world.
Having this proud stoker of nuclear destruction become second-in-command of
the U.N. Disarmament Commission is like springing Jack Abramoff from prison
to fill the new vacancy at the World Bank.
In one of its series of editorials, "Your U.N. at Work," the May 19-20 Wall
Street Journal said: "It's a shame the U.S. didn't respond to the outcome of
these two 'leadership' elections (including Zimbabwe heading the Development
Commission) and walk away from both of these useless U.N. outfits."
It makes much more sense for us to walk away from the United Nations itself,
period. There are other organizations that -- with more help from us and
other concerned nations -- can feed the hungry and provide medical aid for
those in need around the world. But Eleanor Roosevelt's dream of the United
Nations serving as an international beacon of human rights has become a
nightmare of millions of people's betrayed hopes.
Nat Hentoff is a nationally renowned authority on the First Amendment.
Distributed by the Newspaper Enterprise Association.
Monsters and Critics
May 31, 2007, 6:11 GMT
Johannesburg - Outgoing British Prime Minister Tony Blair arrived in South
Africa Tuesday for a two-day visit on the last leg of his farewell tour of
three African countries before he leaves office on June 27.
Blair arrived Tuesday morning in Johannesburg from Sierra Leone, where he
received a rapturous welcome for his country's armed intervention in the
West African country's civil war in 2000.
On Thursday he was scheduled to deliver a major policy speech on Africa at
the University of South Africa before meeting with former president Nelson
Mandela and visiting a Soweto hospital.
On Friday he is set to hold 'intensive discussions' with President Thabo
Mbeki on issues ranging from Zimbabwe to his reported plans for the
establishment of a foundation for Africa after he steps down.
South Africa's Foreign Ministry has described the visit as 'significant'
since it takes place on the eve of the G8 summit in Germany, at which Africa
will feature prominently. Blair made African development a cornerstone of
his tenure as British leader.
Blair told South Africa's Sunday Times he and Mbeki would 'discuss the
desperate crisis in Zimbabwe, which is causing such misery for its people.'
Mbeki has been appointed by the 14-nation Southern African Development
Community to mediate between Zimbabwe's ruling ZANU-PF party of President
Robert Mugabe and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change over the
country's political standoff.
In Sierra Leone, Blair called on Western countries to provide financing,
training and equipment for African peacekeeping missions, such as the ones
in Darfur and Somalia.
Blair's African tour also took him to Libya where he announced the return by
British oil giant BP to the country after a more than 30- year hiatus.
© 2007 dpa - Deutsche Presse-Agentur
Njabulo Ncube Chief Political Reporter
Rival factions to meet Mbeki as united front
OPPOSITION leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara of the two
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) factions quietly slipped out of the
country for Pretoria yesterday to keep the fires burning vis-a-vis Thabo
Mbeki's mediation effort in Zimbabwe as the South African leader promised
that significant progress will have been made before the end of June.
Tsvangirai and Mutambara travelled to Pretoria on Tuesday on the eve of a
meeting between Mbeki and outgoing British premier Tony Blair, who is on a
farewell trip to the African continent, spearheading European and American
pressure on the South African president to harden his stance on Zimbabwe.
Blair, accused by Harare of pushing a regime change agenda against President
Robert Mugabe's embattled government, this week said he would use his
two-day visit to hold "intensive" talks on Zimbabwe with Mbeki.
Britain and other western powers have accused Harare of widespread human
rights abuses and turning one of Africa's most promising states into the
world's fastest shrinking economy with a record inflation of over 3 700
percent. The Zimbabwean government denies running down the agro-based
economy, attributing the meltdown to targeted sanctions imposed on the
country's ruling elite by the United States and the European Union.
Mbeki this week claimed to have made "significant progress" in brokering
talks between the MDC and President Mugabe's ruling ZANU PF party, saying he
would be ready to report back to leaders of the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) by the end of next month.
But as his June deadline approaches, the positions of the feuding parties
appear to be hardening as shown by the arrest last weekend of 200 opposition
activists on trumped up charges.
On the one hand, the MDC is demanding a new constitution before any further
elections are held, but President Mugabe says the opposition does not have a
popular mandate to make such a demand, reminding his opponents that they
rejected constitutional reforms suggested by his government in the 2000
"There is no way a new constitution can be written between now and March.
The opposition must have a mandate from the people for that kind of thing to
happen, and currently they haven't got it," the veteran Zimbabwean leader
was quoted saying.
Tsvangirai, a former trade unionist, was quoted last week as saying the
cause of the Zimbabwean crisis was disputed elections, and that such
disputes would continue as long as polls were held under the current
constitution inherited from Britain, but amended 17 times since independence
ZANU PF, on the other hand, blames the crisis on Blair, accusing him of
funding the opposition, claims rejected by the MDC.
A meeting of SADC's ministerial troika of the organ on defence and politics
in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania, last week reiterated its concern over Zimbabwe,
reaffirming Mbeki's mandate and a planned investigation into "Zimbabwe's
Yesterday, spokesmen for both factions of the MDC confirmed their leaders
were in South Africa.
"President Tsvangirai is attending a conference where he delivered a paper
(yesterday morning)," said Tsvangirai's spokesman, William Bango.
Gabriel Chaibva, the spokesman for Mutambara, said the former university
student leader was on a routine visit to South Africa, where he runs a
But other officials confirmed that the two leaders will privately engage
Mbeki and other members of the ruling African National Congress.
According to these officials, the opposition will also press for the
inclusion of other "democratic forces" in the proposed talks.
Yesterday, the secretaries general of the two factions, Tendai Biti and
Welshman Ncube, also travelled to South Africa.
During his meeting with Mbeki today, Blair is expected to press South Africa
to take a tougher position on Zimbabwe.
South Africa, which prefers quiet diplomacy, has already rejected such a
stance, saying western-style pressure on President Mugabe had not yielded
South African foreign affairs minister, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, indicated
this week that Mbeki's government would not be pressured into adopting a
tougher stance on Zimbabwe.
"You must not push the country over the brink, you must pull it back from
the brink. That is our approach," she told the South African parliament.
She said Zimbabweans held the key to the success of Mbeki's mediation.
"The success of President Mbeki's facilitation largely depends on the
political will of the Zimbabwean government and opposition political parties
to take Zimbabwe out of this crisis," she said.
Mbeki's previous efforts as mediator floundered, but SADC, at an
extraordinary summit in March, appointed him to play the same role under its
Regional leaders fear the contagion of the Zimbabwe economic crisis, which
has seen an estimated three million economic refugees fleeing to South
Africa, will affect their countries.
Blair, whose government previously played host to several opposition
leaders, including Tsvangirai, has pledged that the Labour Party's policy on
Africa would not change after he hands the reins to his successor, widely
expected to be finance minister Gordon Brown.
"We will discuss the desperate crisis in Zimbabwe, which is causing such
misery for its people and now having a damaging impact on neighbouring
countries," said Blair, in an interview with the South African Sunday Times.
Mbeki has appointed Local Government Minister Sydney Mufamadi,
director-general in the Presidency, Frank Chikane, deputy foreign affairs
minister Aziz Pahad, legal advisor Mojanku Gumbi, and Ntsaluba to lead his
HEALTH delivery services at Zimbabwe's main referral hospitals have
virtually collapsed, with authorities shutting down key units at the four
largest hospitals in reaction to a drastic drop in the number of staff
turning up for work.
Parirenyatwa and Harare hospitals in the capital and Mpilo and Bulawayo
central hospitals in Bulawayo have closed most departments, leaving only the
casualty wings, and are operating with skeleton staff, as health
professionals and aides fail to turn up for work due to low salaries.
Sources at the government hospitals said the situation was worsening every
week, with no sign of a solution in sight.
Officials said the maternity wing at Parirenyatwa Hospital was closed last
weekend, compelling expectant mothers to turn to expensive private
hospitals. Many more, however, have resorted to fly-by-night maternity homes
in the high-density suburbs, where sanitary conditions are said to be
Edwin Muguti, the deputy Health Minister, admitted the situation at
hospitals was critical. But he insisted the government was working to
minimise inconveniencing patients.
"There has been no improvement since the workers stopped coming to work. But
we are trying our best to keep the hospitals open and fully functional,"
said Muguti. "We are doing something for the workers, including nurses and
doctors, but we fear our efforts as far as awarding better salaries and
working conditions are concerned are being eroded by inflation. The problem
is the economic difficulties we are facing."
Angry stakeholders who called The Financial Gazette yesterday reported that
staff at Parirenyatwa and Harare hospitals were only attending to
The situation in Harare has been compounded by the closure of almost all
municipal clinics due to a lack of personnel, drugs and equipment.
In Bulawayo, the situation at Mpilo Central Hospital was yesterday reported
to be serious. A skeleton staff consisting entirely of trainees was said to
be attending to emergency cases. Things were no different at Bulawayo
In February, the government tried to mollify health workers by announcing
two salary increments within a month after a crippling six-week strike.
Nurses were awarded an additional $263 000 on top of their improved January
salaries of $195 000, bringing their monthly earnings to between $458 000
and $500 000.
Wards visited by this newspaper at Parirenyatwa and Harare hospitals
yesterday were deserted, with nurse aides, administration and general staff
having stayed away. Health Minister David Parirenyatwa admitted earlier this
month that health workers could no longer afford bus fares to and from work.
On a salary of $500 000, a nurse needs to pay an average of $840 000 in bus
fares per month.
Clemence Manyukwe, Rangarirai Mberi Staff Reporter
MINES Minister Amos Midzi and a parliamentary portfolio committee have made
sharply contrasting assessments of the Zimbabwe Mining Development
Corporation (ZMDC)'s capacity to mine the controversial Marange diamond
A report by the Mines, Tourism and Environment portfolio committee says the
ZMDC cannot viably extract diamonds in Marange without the backing of a
foreign investor. This is contrary to comments made by Midzi on Tuesday that
government would not bring in foreign capital to partner ZMDC in Marange,
saying the parastatal could "go it alone".
In a report presented to the House of Assembly last week, the parliamentary
committee said ZMDC had failed to fund adequate geological surveys.
"Your committee noted with concern that ZMDC does not have the capacity or
financial resources to carry out feasibility studies, to mine or to put a
security fence around the area."
But Midzi said the ZMDC had secured fencing from South Africa to widen a
security cordon to 12km. And while the committee found that ZMDC had not
made any meaningful surveys of the area, Midzi said the corporation had
already successfully conducted a trial mining run, increasing ore processed
to 25 tonnes per day from two tonnes in April.
Asked whether the government would seek a foreign partner to fully exploit
the mineral deposits in the area, Midzi said he was confident the ZMDC could
mine viably without foreign backing.
"We are satisfied that the diamond yield is enough to enable the ZMDC to
move to the next stage. The ZMDC has not drawn from any external source so
far, and we are confident the project can sustain itself from the diamonds
it is mining there," said Midzi.
However, the Members of Parliament said their investigations established
that ZMDC did not have a long-term plan. It also did not have the financial
capacity to survey diamond fields in the Odzi, Chirasika and Wengezi areas.
"A number of gold companies and the diamond project in Chiadzwa need
investors in order for the country to derive maximum benefits from
minerals," the committee reports. "Local and foreign investors are willing
to invest in the mining sector, but are uncertain about the policy framework
of the government."
ZMDC's activities in Marange have increased despite a legal challenge by
Africa Consolidated Resources (ACR), which says it was unfairly stripped of
the Marange claim.
Andrew Cranswick, chief executive officer of ACR, told The Financial Gazette
in a recent interview that Marange would require an investment of US$20
million for an eight-month initial development phase.
Midzi insists, however, that ZMDC's funding will come from the gems it will
export once full production begins.
The ZMDC has not exported any of the diamonds it has extracted since April
22 when its trial run began, Midzi said.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE'S tobacco growers this week swarmed the tobacco auction floors as
they frantically sought to cash in on firming prices before the erosion of
their Zimbabwe dollar incentives.
Auctioneers reported that volumes had this week significantly increased as
growers rushed to dispose of their crops early to buy assets and inputs for
the next season before prices skyrocket further.
At the Tobacco Sales Floor (TSF), auctioneers were battling to book bales
due to a flood of growers.
The government granted tobacco growers a support price of $40 000 per kg of
tobacco sold at US$1.50 and above but the farmers, who had earlier on
boycotted auction floors because of an unviable exchange rate, got a boost
after the central bank said it would buy their US dollars at an effective
exchange rate of $15 000 per greenback.
The official exchange rate is at US$1: $250.
Tobacco disposed at the country's three auctions floors - TSF, the Zimbabwe
Industry Tobacco Auction Centre and the Barley Marketing of Zimbabwe - since
floors opened in April amounted to 13.4 million kgs valued at US$27.7
Just 7.3 million kg's was sold during the comparative period last year.
"Everybody is trying to sell," said Lodwin Gatsi, an operations executive
with TSF. " The support price is not changing and on the other hand there is
inflation, so growers are selling to utilise the funds early."
Auctioneers also reported that the average selling price had firmed to
US$2.05, above the US$1.5o that entitles growers to the central bank's
"Deliveries are coming in thick and fast," said the Zimbabwe Tobacco
Association president Andrew Ferreira. "There is congestion at the floors.
There is quite a lot of heavy vehicle build up. Sales are in full swing
because of the very fair package that government announced," Ferreira said.
Chris Muronzi Staff Reporter
MINING group RioZim Limited is courting unnamed foreign investors in London
to revive its US$1,6 billion thermal generation project started in the late
1990s in the wake of disruptive power cuts that have hit the industry.
Power outages have dimmed prospects of the long sought after recovery in the
mining sector - a significant contributor to both the country's depleted
foreign currency earnings and the gross domestic product.
The power outages, cutting across domestic and industrial users, come as the
mining industry is pressing hard for a viable exchange rate to free itself
from the worsening operating conditions.
RioZim, which has full control over coal-rich Sengwa Mine, had actively
pursued the thermal generation project in the 1990s after having secured
Britain's National Power as the lead investor, but shelved it citing
unfavourable market conditions.
The Sengwa project, with an estimated 2.2 billion tonnes of coal reserves,
has the capacity to boost Zimbabwe's power-generation capacity ahead of the
expiry of the existing power import agreements this year. Excess power could
also be exported to the rest of the region.
RioZim now wants resuscitate the project to ensure its mines have
uninterrupted electricity supplies, the sources say.
Contacted this week for comment, RioZim chief executive officer Josphat
Sachikonye confirmed the gold miner had revived the power project.
He said: "We are working on it. We are looking for a partner, but we have
not found a partner as yet."
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
BEITBRIDGE senator Tambudzani Mohadi says River Ranch mine has not been
submitting production records to government as required by law and that this
lack of disclosure "creates room for smuggling".
River Ranch mine is at the centre of an ownership wrangle between Bubye
Minerals and River Ranch Limited.
Mohadi's remarks were made ahead of
the visit to Zimbabwe of six inspectors of the Kimberley Process, a global
watchdog against trade in illegal gems.
The team visited River Ranch mine yesterday as part of a nationwide probe
that will also take them to the Marange diamond fields.
The Beitbridge senator, in whose constituency River Ranch mine is located,
made her remarks during debate
in the senate on the fourth report of the
parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines, Energy, Environment and Tourism
on gold and diamond mining.
"President sir, River Ranch mine is found in my constituency and there is a
legal wrangle on the ownership of this mine," said Mohadi, who is the wife
of Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi.
"There is mining taking place, but there are no records of diamond
production being submitted to the Ministry of Mines. This creates room for
River Ranch has
previously insisted it was submitting production statistics, although it was
not yet exporting the stones.
In a statement last week, River Ranch Limited chairman George Kantsouris
said: "To date, we have effected no sales and have dutifully reported our
monthly production to the mining commissioner, as required by statute."
The Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe has declined to export River
Ranch diamonds until the dispute over the ownership of the mine is settled.
The long running dispute over River Ranch led to the arrest last week of
Bubye Minerals directors Adele and Michael Farquhar. They are due to appear
in court next week to face charges of stripping the mine.
Their lawyer claims the arrest is designed to silence his clients, who have
previously accused Solomon Mujuru, a 20 percent River Ranch Limited
shareholder, of trying to use his political clout to intimidate his rivals.
Mujuru, a retired army general, is husband to Vice-President Joice Mujuru.
The United Nations Development Programme says an
independent probe into allegations that its vehicles could have been used to
smuggle diamonds out of the country is underway.
MORGAN Tsvangirai's legal challenge against President Robert Mugabe's
victory in the 2002 presidential election has been reduced to an academic
exercise because of delays his lawyers say have been engineered by
Tsvangirai's lawyer, Selby Hwacha, said the deportation last year of Topper
Whitehead, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)'s legal expert, had
stalled the process.
Hwacha concedes that next year's polls will be held before an outcome
emerges on the 2002 presidential election challenge.
"That is what will happen. The matter has, however, not been withdrawn."
Hwacha said it was necessary to press on with the challenge even beyond next
year's presidential election, as the suit would serve as a benchmark on the
conduct of future polls to choose national leaders.
"The office of the President is expiring next year, but the principle
(behind the challenge) defies time," said Hwacha.
Hwacha, and MDC secretary for legal affairs Innocent Gonese, who is also the
party's Mutare Central Member of Parliament (MP), refuted claims made last
week in the House of Assembly by acting House leader Emmerson Mnangagwa that
Tsvangirai had withdrawn his petition.
Responding to charges by Mutare North MDC MP Giles Mutsekwa that ZANU PF
elections, Mnangagwa, the ruling party's secretary for legal affairs, said:
"I would like to assist the House by informing the honourable member who was
speaking that his party and his president took our party and our president
to court on that issue, and they have withdrawn the charges after inspecting
22 constituencies out of 120 and found nothing."
The opposition claims President Mugabe has deliberately bogged down the
case, but Terrence Hussein, the President's lawyer, said on Tuesday he was
ready to resume the case anytime: "We have been ready since 2002."
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
TWO Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) bosses in Manicaland will stand
trial in September for allegedly intimidating witnesses into withdrawing
violence charges against supporters of State Security Minister Didymus
Innocent Chibaya, head of the CIO in Manicaland, and Denford Masiya, a
senior intelligence agent in Rusape, escaped detention yesterday only
because the Attorney-General's Office did not request that they be jailed
pending the start of their trial.
Chibaya, Masiya and three others - Rusape District Administrator Cosmas
Chiringa, Simbarashe Muzariri and Robson Makoni - appeared before High Court
judge Justice Anne-Marie Gowora, but their trial was postponed until all
court documents relating to the matter have been submitted to court.
"He (Prosecutor Andrew Kumire) is a very understanding prosecutor. He has
not requested that your clients be held in custody," Gowora told defence
Kumire is representing the state in a case that was previously led by
Manicaland area prosecutor Levison Chikafu, detained last month by police in
what his lawyer claims is intimidation for the prosecutor's role in the
The group would have been tried together with Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa, but the trial was split.
Chinamasa was acquitted on charges of attempting to defeat the course of
justice, and last month the A-G's office withdrew a High Court appeal
against the acquittal. The A-G's office has not given reasons for its
Chibaya's trial had initially been due to open on Monday last week, but it
was adjourned after defence lawyers demanded a transcript of Chinamasa's
trial and judgment, among other documents.
Defence lawyer Deepak Mehta said they had "made fairly good progress, but
not complete progress" in getting all the required documents to court.
Chibaya, Chinamasa and the other five allegedly intimidated war veteran
James Kaunye into withdrawing charges against 32 Mutasa supporters.
The group assaulted Kaunye as he mounted a challenge against Mutasa for the
right to represent ZANU PF in Makoni North in the 2005 general election. The
other accused person died before the trial.
The Rusape magistrate's court convicted 16 of the ruling party members, 11
of whom have since been released from prison.
Chibaya was a member of a commission appointed by President Robert Mugabe in
2004 to investigate violence between rival factions of his party.
The commission's findings were never made public. However, in December 2004,
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri said Mutasa had a case to answer.
Mutasa denies any wrongdoing.
In a recent interview with The Financial Gazette, Kaunye was evasive on
whether he would again challenge Mutasa in ZANU PF primaries for the 2008
poll. He said "the people" would decide.
THE High Court has thrown out Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi's
certificate opposing the granting of bail to Ian Makone, the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC)'s director of elections, releasing him on a $150
Makone, dubbed the "most dangerous man in the country" by the head of the
Central Investigations Department Law and Order Section, Musarashana
Mabunda, has been in detention since March 28 after being arrested for
allegedly recruiting and training "insurgents, saboteurs or terrorists".
Police claim Makone masterminded a spate of petrol bombings that hit the
country in March and April.
The state had opposed bail, saying Makone would abscond as he was facing
serious charges that carry a life sentence if convicted.
"In this respect I must point out that I do not agree with the approach
taken by the respondent, in particular by Assistant Commissioner Mabunda,
that the applicant should be kept in custody at all costs because he is the
most dangerous man in the country," ruled Justice Karwi. "This attitude
would seem to suggest that the applicant is a convicted terrorist, which
obviously is not the case. Our law presumes people to be innocent until
proven guilty," he added.
The judge said during the hearing, Mabunda had told the court that Makone
was a dangerous man who had undergone military training in South Africa for
purposes of destabilising the country.
Mabunda claimed Makone had facilitated military training for 60 activists.
"Mr Mabunda added that he had dispatched two teams of investigators to South
Africa to carry out some investigations. One of the teams was back and the
other one was still there," the judge added.
The police officer is said to have claimed that investigations were complex
and that they would be completed by July.
Besides granting Makone $150 million bail, the judge said he should report
daily to Harare Central police station and should not interfere with
witnesses. Title deeds to three houses were also surrendered as surety.
According to papers he filed with the court, Makone estimates the value of
his assets at $22 billion.
"I have taken into account the personal circumstances of the applicant. In
particular that he is 57 years old, that he is a married man of fixed abode.
That he is a man of substance, and that he has invested very heavily in this
country. He appears to have his roots in this country. He is a well educated
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
WHEN Tenson Museta took four months leave from his posting as a teacher in
the Malipati area of Chiredzi, he had high hopes of making it big in South
He packed his bags and headed for Johannesburg where he had been offered a
job as a part-time teacher at a private college. His brief was to teach
mathematics and help develop the curriculum.
On arrival in South Africa, he planned to stay with a friend, who had
promised him shelter. The
friend was true to his word and Museta found him waiting at Johannesburg's
However, the first sign that his dream was turning into a nightmare did not
take long to appear. Museta's friend informed him he could no longer offer
accommodation. As a result Museta joined scores of other Zimbabweans who
have crammed a Methodist Church building in central Johannesburg.
Armed with his degree in statistics, Museta had no problem in convincing his
would-be employers that he was the right man for the job. A week after
getting the job, he was already rubbing his hands in anticipation of his
first pay cheque in rands.
But once again, his "city of gold" dream crumbled. He was told he would not
get his weekly wages. He tried to protest, but all odds were against him.
The college threatened to report him to the immigration department.
After three days without food, Museta decided to join his friend as a
gardener in the Fourways area of Johannesburg.
"It is not easy to get a formal job legally in South Africa. There are
various processes you have to go through but as you do this you have to be
doing something to keep you going, which is why I had to forget that I am a
qualified teacher and take up this job. It is better here because I make
more money as a garden boy than I made as a teacher in Zimbabwe."
Museta is just one of the thousands of Zimbabwean teachers who now roam the
streets of South Africa in search of a better life. Many teachers are now
working as gardeners by day and waiters in bars by the night, and none of
them regret their decision to leave the once noble profession.
It is easy for teachers to make their way into South Africa, because all
they need to do is to present a government pay slip at the border to get a
visa. Although they admit that life south of the Limpopo is far from being
the bed of roses they had hoped for, they all apparently hope that Lady Luck
will smile on them one day.
"All I can tell you is that as long as you are in South Africa, you will not
go wrong. It's a matter of time, eventually you will get a job," said
South Africa has listed English and Mathematics teachers among a range of
critical skills it needs. Up to 36 000 skilled workers are required
urgently, according to the Home Affairs department.
South Africa has made no secret of the fact that it is looking to Zimbabwe
for mathematics teachers to help develop its curriculum and improve pass
rates in Matric examinations.
According to South African press reports, Zimbabwean teachers have inundated
the Department of Home Affairs to lodge applications for work permits.
In the meantime, thanks to his job as a gardener, Museta can now afford to
send his two daughters to a boarding school. He has bought his wife a
cellphone, a gadget that he could only have dreamt of on his teachers'
salary back in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwean teachers are among the lowest paid civil servants in
the country, and the majority
now spend most of their time
moonlighting, either selling sweets
or crocheting doilies for sale in neighbouring countries.
It was reported this
week that schools in Matabeleland South failed to open for the second term
because most teachers had skipped the border to South Africa.
The Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe says about
4 500 teachers left the country between January and April this year.
But the government still plays down the magnitude of the teacher exodus.
"We have no shortage of
teachers as a country, but we have problems with teachers who are running
away from remote areas," insists the Minister of Education, Sport and
Culture, Aeneas Chigwedere.
THE launching of the Media Council of Zimbabwe has been postponed
indefinitely amid sharp differences among groups involved in the project,
which is designed to allow the local media to regulate itself.
The Zimbabwe Union of Journalists (ZUJ), a major partner in the project,
fears its members, the majority of whom are drawn from the state media,
could be fired if the union endorsed an entity the government views as a
threat to its Media and Information Commission chaired by Tafataona Mahoso.
The Media Alliance of Zimbabwe (MAZ) - comprising ZUJ, the Media Institute
of Southern Africa (MISA) Zimbabwe and the Media Monitoring Project of
Zimbabwe - held a meeting on Wednesday last week in a desperate bid to
salvage the project after ZUJ had expressed reservations about proceeding
with the initiative.
The proposed voluntary regulatory body, which has been on the cards since
the 1990s, had been scheduled to be launched in Harare on Tuesday.
ZUJ vice president, Jacob Phiri, confirmed the postponement, but denied the
union had developed cold feet.
"The media council is a very sensitive issue considering that the majority
of our members are employed in the public media," said Phiri. "We support
the project, but what we are saying is that let us tread carefully so we
don't compromise ourselves."
Rashweat Mukundu, director of MISA Zimbabwe, said: "We held a meeting with
all partners involved in the project where we agreed to postpone its launch
until all the partners are satisfied that we should proceed."
Mukundu, however, was optimistic the voluntary media council would
eventually be launched once differences within MAZ are sorted out.
ZUJ last week took Zimbabwe Newspapers to the Labour Court after management
at the country's biggest publisher stopped union subscriptions for its
Harare employees. However, on Tuesday the Labour Court ruled that the
application by ZUJ was not an urgent matter and would be treated as a
Media groups say voluntary regulation, in contrast to statutory regulation,
promotes a more professional and ethical reporting environment while
guarding against media and freedom of expression violations.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
. . . as firms cut fuel costs
Thomas Kakwindi, a messenger at a Harare-based insurance company, now keeps
his official vehicle at the company's parking bay.
For deliveries - mostly taking out and collecting cheques for payments - he
now uses a motorcycle, except if the items are big or the distance too far
to travel on a motorbike.
"The company said I will only use the vehicle for deliveries as
far as Mutare and Bulawayo," Kakwindi told The Financial Gazette.
Hyperinflation has taken Zimbabwe's motorists back to bicycles and
motorcycles as fuel prices continue to soar due to the weakening of the
country's embattled currency.
The renewed demand in the two-wheeled carriers has triggered a surge in bike
Prices for motorcycles and bicycles went up 882.9 percent and 136.8 percent,
respectively between March and April 2007 but leapt up significantly
year-on-year for April by 2 755.4 percent and 3 763.6 percent, respectively,
according to statistics from the Central Statistical Office.
Dealers in motorcycles reported robust business, saying companies and
individuals were turning to motorcycles and bicycles to escape increasing
transport costs emanating from rising fuel prices.
In the last two weeks, the
price of fuel jumped from just $25 000 per litre to nearly $45 000 per
"Companies are turning to bikes for delivery because it is cheaper," a sales
representative at The Honda Centre, dealers of the Honda brand of
Suzuki and Honda bikes, which are imported from Brazil, Japan and China, are
currently retailing at between US$1 500 and US$4 500 plus an additional $3
million and $4 500, respectively, to cover duty, value added tax and other
Dealers at the Amalgamated Motor Corporation, which also sells motorbikes,
reported brisk motorbike sales.
"As you can see we have run out of stock. We are getting big orders from
companies," said a sales representative standing next to an order of
motorbikes for Pump Aid, a local non-governmental organisation.
Officials at The Honda Centre said they were battling to meet demand.
Increased use of motorcycles has also ignited huge demand for motorcycle
"Our workshop is quite busy
with people bringing in bikes for repair," said a Honda Centre
Rangarirai Mberi News Editor
WHAT do you do when you're living in some tiny mud-and-pole hut, and you're
trying to hide a bull elephant?
Maybe our government bureaucrats have the answer. They tried it two weeks
ago, but their elephant - April's shock inflation data - still came out
charging, a bunch of government securocrats and state media spin types
frantically trying to pull it back by the tail.
On Wednesday, May 16, journalists from no less than two private newspapers
and at least two international news agencies working in Harare contacted the
Central Statistical Office (CSO), hoping to get the April inflation figures.
By then, the data had already been delayed by a week. All the journalists -
plus a good number of private economists we have asked - were, as late as
1700hrs that Wednesday, fed the line: "Maybe tomorrow".
So a rumour that inflation was now testing 4000 percent remained just that,
a rumour. Until the next day.
On the Thursday, many looked past The Herald's front-page screamer:
"President Mugabe approves Incomes Act".
But, there were some readers who gritted their teeth and waded through the
story - plodding through 23 paragraphs and four crammed broadsheet columns -
only to stumble upon this absolute gob smacker: "The much awaited (incomes)
body comes as it emerged (writer's emphasis) yesterday that the consumer
price index rose 100.7 percent in April, meaning prices more than doubled
last month, and this followed a 50.5 percent increase in March."
Then to paragraph number 25.
"The corresponding annual inflation rate at the end of April," we are
casually told, "rose to 3713.9 percent."
By all accounts, this is the first time in our country's glorious history
that inflation data is said to have "emerged".
Until that day, inflation
figures were said to have
been "released", sometimes "showed", or even "reported", by the CSO.
So, disappointed that the CSO had given us their "maybe tomorrow" only to
see the figures "emerge" the next day - under a pile of, it must be said,
uninspiring news of a law against inflation, we went about last week trying
to find out why the rules had changed such that inflation numbers should now
only "emerge", and not be "released".
First, we contacted a very senior bureaucrat in the Ministry of Economic
Development, which has taken over the CSO from Finance.
He swore he had been told by CSO that the figures had been released to "the
press" much earlier than the Wednesday.
But then there were other officials in the same ministry who swear they had
seen the CSO printout as early as the previous Thursday - May 11.
But, apparently, somebody has instructed that all CSO data should no longer
come directly from CSO, but through Information and Publicity. So, these
government conspiracy theorists swear, it was agreed that the gory data be
kept in a bottle until President Robert Mugabe signed the Incomes and
Pricing Commission Act - a law setting up a pricing police.
So in the end, it is claimed, it was not from the CSO that the inflation
numbers "emerged", it was at the end of a labyrinth of red tape - each
deskbound bureaucrat taking his turn to slap a pudgy stamp over the
numbers - until they truly did "emerge" at The Herald.
Perhaps, but hands up if
you ever seen inflation
figures "emerging", even in Borat's sick vision of Kazakhstan, or Gerbunguly
Berdimuhammedow's Turkmenistan, where presidents are elected on 99 percent
Government, like most people, has developed a phobia for numbers.
So we must now prepare to see inflation figures going the way of other bits
of statistics that government has, over the years, quietly stopped supplying
Hands up if you know Zimbabwe's real jobless rate, or if you've never had to
work out the real budget deficit on your own, or if you've ever seen the
current account, if you really know how much grain Sam Muvuti, the acting
boss at the national granary, has for us.
There is a scary trend "emerging" here. Last month, March data was canned
for two weeks until central bank boss Gideon Gono let it out in Bulawayo.
This time, April inflation only "emerged" as background to a story on some
What's next? An official declaration banning the release of a number that
government, quite clearly, no longer wants anybody to see? Or, better yet,
hard-chin types - in camouflaged straightjackets and fiddling with AK
rifles - holding a press conference at Inkomo Barracks, telling petrified
reporters that inflation has slowed to 6 percent, "take it or leave it"?
What is it our ancestors said about "that which has horns" not being
possible to wrap? At 3714 percent, these are not just horns. These are
ten-foot elephant tusks.
Mavis Makuni Own Correspondent
The whole of Southern Africa is agog with excitement over the hosting of the
Soccer World Cup in South Africa in 2010.
Every country in the region is doing its best to position itself to make as
much mileage as possible in terms of tourist traffic and foreign currency
More importantly, national teams are getting down to serious business in
their 2010 preparations firstly, to qualify to represent their countries at
the world's premier soccer event and then to bring the trophy home. Those
who follow developments in soccer closely say some teams, particularly in
Europe, now employ full-time psychologists to work with players. The
psychologists' task is said to be to instill a "winning" philosophy in the
teams and convincing the players that if they do everything right, nothing
is impossible. It is safe to conclude that right now even the most poorly
equipped soccer team from the most notorious banana republic or one from a
poor country that has recently emerged from the "Iron Curtain" believes it
can go to South Africa and after giving current World Cup champions Italy, a
bloody nose, triumphantly take the coveted trophy back home.
There is something magical about the World Cup. For its duration of about a
month, the World Cup brings the world together, enabling people from various
parts of the globe to temporarily forget about wars, famine, floods,
disease, civil strife and other political and social upheavals. Every
individual who follows events on radio or watches matches on television gets
the feeling of having "been there" when a memorable moment occurred. With
its clear rules - although some people like this writer will never
understand the "off side" rule - soccer gives a glimpse of what this world
could be if leaders in all spheres of life, particularly politics, were as
rigorously held to the tenets of fair play, transparency, playing by the
rules, accepting defeat gracefully and winning magnanimously as happens in
The analogy may be tenuous but while soccer teams in Africa and the entire
world must be psyching themselves up to think positively for 2010,
opposition political parties in Africa have been bombarded with negative
advice to make the expectation to lose elections their operating philosophy.
At a workshop on electoral conflict management mechanisms held in Vumba in
the Eastern Highlands of Zimbabwe at the beginning of this month,
independent electoral commissions from southern Africa were reported to have
called on opposition political parties to stop rejecting election results
and instead accept defeat quietly. This was necessary so as to avoid
conflicts in the post-election period, said Moteka Mohale, of the Lesotho
Independent Electoral Commission at the workshop, which was organised by the
Zimbabwe Election Support Network.
"It is the nature of the opposition to complain whenever they lose an
election . Just because they have lost, they will say elections were rigged
and things were not done properly." Mohale, who as the chief legal officer
of the Lesotho Independent Electoral Commission would be equivalent to a
referee in a soccer game, neglected to mention that in most African
countries, things are indeed not done properly as far as the conducting of
elections is concerned. In many countries conflicts arise because elections
are held in an atmosphere in which the ruling party abuses its power of
incumbency. This usually takes the form of the enactment of repressive media
and other laws that make it impossible for opposition politicians to
communicate their ideas and sell themselves to the electorate. Endless
impediments are placed in the path of opposition parties.
These can include arresting leaders of opposition parties on trumped up
treason charges so as to disable them politically and demoralise their
supporters in the run up to elections. Kizza Besigye, leader of the Forum
for Democratic Change in Uganda had such an experience in 2005 when he was
arrested in the run-up to presidential elections, which were naturally won
by 20-year incumbent, Yoweri Museveni. Besigye was released when it was
already too late to undertake any meaningful campaigning. Would Mohale say
under the circumstances, Besigye was wrong to dispute the election results
citing electoral fraud and an uneven playing field? Would he say former
Nigerian vice president,Atiku Abubakar should not have felt aggrieved when
trumped up corruption charges were levelled against him at the eleventh hour
prior to general elections in Nigeria two months ago?
Similar questions can be asked in respect of Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of
the Movement for Democratic Change in Zimbabwe, who has previously spent
three years with trumped up treason charges hanging over his head. This was
in addition to other obstacles his party had to overcome such as the
draconian Public Order and Security Act, which makes it virtually impossible
for the opposition to organise rallies and mobilise support. Under the
provisions of this law, the holding of political rallies is currently banned
in MDC strongholds. The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
deprives opposition groups, as it does ordinary Zimbabweans, of the freedom
of expression. The only "access" opposition parties are allowed in the
official media takes the form of endless attacks and denunciations casting
them as sell-outs and puppets of Western governments. If a snap election had
been held in Zimbabwe over the last two months, Tsvangirai would have had to
go on the campaign stump with a swollen face and broken body after being
battered by state agents in March. Some of his key aides and MDC legislators
would either have been in hospital or on crutches. No free and fair
elections can be conducted where such horrors are allowed to happen but
electoral commissions in southern Africa turn a blind eye on these and
continue to preach their defeatist doctrine.
Electoral commissions in most African countries are appointed by the
government and as a result are not autonomous. They know where their bread
is buttered and do all they can to avoid biting the hand that feeds them
even when the onus is on them to be fair to the electorate. This is amply
demonstrated by the fact that most opposition parties in Africa have never
won elections in their countries since the end of colonialism about 50 years
ago. This phenomenon, which defies the law of averages and is experienced
only in countries under authoritarian regimes and one-party states, should
be investigated . The call by the electoral commissions that gathered in
Vumba for opposition parties to accept defeat, means these groups must be
perpetual losers for the sake of avoiding conflict and for the convenience
of sitting governments. These commissions seem to have lost focus with
regard to the purpose of elections, which is to enable the people to vote
freely for leaders and representatives of their choice.
The main responsibility of electoral commissions is to ensure that polls are
free and fair. Instead of trying to silence opposition parties so as to make
life easy for themselves, these bodies should investigate the persistent
allegations of intimidation, vote buying, electoral fraud, state-instigated
violence against opposition supporters, skewed electoral laws, and outright
rigging that characterise elections in most African countries. The onus is
on these bodies to insist that incumbent governments play by the rules so
that elections are conducted in a conducive atmosphere and on a level
playing field as happens in soccer.
Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief
BULAWAYO - The indefinite postponement of ZANU PF provincial elections in
Bulawayo marks another interesting turn in the tug-of-war for the control of
the political turf in the volatile province.
The Financial Gazette can reveal that the restructuring of the province had
to be extended indefinitely after party heavyweights in the ZANU PF
politburo failed to bulldoze their way through elections, which would have
favoured a faction aligned to them.
It also emerged this week that the faction, which currently leads the
interim provincial executive had suspended 50 members belonging to the
opposing faction but the suspension was nullified by deputy national
political commissar Richard Ndlovu who is heading the taskforce charged with
restructuring the party in the beleaguered province.
The restructuring is meant to pave the way for elections to choose a
provincial executive, which were originally scheduled for the end of April.
The party could not hold elections after it realised that there were more
people who had been locked out of Davies Hall, the venue of the elections,
than were inside.
Though senior party officials have denied the existence of factions in
Bulawayo, those who were in the hall were mostly from the "petition" faction
which supports members of the politburo from the province while those who
were outside belong to the "godhi" faction, loyal to younger war veterans.
This faction has swept almost all provincial elections since the death of
vice-President Joshua Nkomo and the formation of the Movement for Democratic
Change in 1999. But no executive has ever completed its term. The executives
have been suspended for one reason or another.
The last elected executive was suspended after the Dinyane meeting in
Tsholotsho at which it is alleged that six provincial chairmen who had
gathered there planned to stage a "smart coup" that would have scuttled the
appointment of Joice Mujuru as vice-President and deposed John Nkomo the
ZANU PF national chairman and vice-president Joseph Msika.
Following the aborted provincial elections, the party was given until May 12
to make an audit of its structures. After that it was given another two
weeks to restructure the party.
National chairman Nkomo conceded at the weekend that there was more work to
be done before elections could be held. He extended the mandate of the
taskforce charged with restructuring the party indefinitely.
The taskforce is chaired by the deputy national political commissar and
comprises senior party officials from the three Matabeleland provinces of
Matabeleland North, South and Bulawayo.
The cover on the myth that all was well in the province was blown off on
Tuesday when it emerged that the interim executive had suspended 50 party
members for failing to attend meetings at which the audit exercise was to be
BULAWAYO - A leading supermarket chain is cashing in on its reputation for
baking some of the best bread in the city as it has been baking bread with a
sand-like substance in it but people continue to queue for its bread.
Several people have phoned The Financial Gazette complaining about the
quality of the bread. Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) regional manager
for Matabeleland Comfort Muchekeza confirmed they had received complaints
that bread from all TM supermarkets in the city had some sand-like substance
in it and had taken up the issue with the supermarket's management.
The management is said to have told the consumer council that the problem
was with the entire consignment of flour that they had received from Harare.
The management in Bulawayo said they had no authority to talk to the media
about the flour and referred all queries to head office in Harare.
Graham Jacobs a director of the supermarket chain admitted on Tuesday that
one batch of flour that was sub-standard had indeed been sent to Bulawayo.
He said they were working with the supplier to withdraw the substandard
flour, although some of it had "regrettably already been turned into bread".
He said the sandy substance was derived from the harvesting process. A sieve
in the supplier's production machinery has exceeded its useful life and
should have been replaced. This led to the retention of particles that
should have been filtered out.
Muchekeza said despite the complaints he was surprised people were still
queuing for the bread, which always sold out.
"TM has a reputation for making some of the best bread in town and people
are just flocking to buy the bread despite the complaints," he said.
Muchekeza said so far he had not received any complaints from people that
had eaten the bread on whether it was harmful or not.
"I have not heard of any people that have thrown it away, and I do not know
whether it is harmful or not. Because of the prevailing circumstances, if
the bread is not harmful, I do not see any reason why it should be
withdrawn. But should it be proved to be harmful, the flour has to be
withdrawn," he said.
Jacobs assured consumers that though the bread produced was below the
quality of their usual product it was not dangerous to people.
"Our policy at TM is to use ingredients of a good quality in any product
that we make, be it bread or any other bakery, take-away or delicatessen
line," he said.
"In the case of baker's flour, we are compelled to use a number of different
sources, as supplies can be unpredictable. The flour supplied varies in
quality. For this reason, we insist on obtaining a sample of each batch to
ensure that the flour meets our minimum quality requirements.
"Having been advised by our customers that our bread in Bulawayo appears to
contain sand we have carried out an investigation and found that one batch
of flour was not in accordance with the sample provided and was, indeed,
below our acceptable quality."
Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor
ZIMBABWE'S embattled mining sector has a deficit of over 3 000
professionals, a sector expert told a recent mining convention, indicating
that the country was losing the bulk of its key staff to African countries
Aaron Mudhuwiwa, the group human resources and external affairs manager for
RioZim, told a gathering of miners at the Chamber of Mines Annual General
Meeting (AGM) a fortnight ago that Zimbabwe's mining sector employed between
30 000 and 35 000 people and needed at least 7 000 professionals.
Currently, the sector had between 3 000 and 4 000 professional, leaving a
deficit of around 3 000.
"The situation is desperately critical especially in the technical
disciplines," said Mudhuwiwa, adding: "When mining industry professionals
started to leave, we said, and we continue to say, 'Pay them better, give
them a Nissan Wolf Double Cab, sorry rather use a Toyota Vigo 3000 TDI' and
again say to them, 'You will stay, won't you?'"
"Well is it really working . . . The mining industry is in dire straits with
regards to skills today. Do you realise that even if all the wrongs in our
economy were righted and we had a great site for a new mine - we now stand
the chance of failing to open it due to the fact that we cannot man it
skills wise, effectively," Mudhuwiwa warned.
He said Zimbabwe was losing the majority of its professionals to better
paying countries, dismissing the myth that the mining staff exodus was
"There is an almost mythical belief that we are losing our skills mainly to
South Africa. This is not really true. The fact is that our people pass
through South Africa en-route to other parts of Africa and the broad world,"
He indicated, however, that South Africa had a huge skills gap in the mining
"They (South Africans) have 15 000 vacancies in the petrochemical, mining
and power generation industry," he said.
Mudhuwiwa said it was unlikely that Zimbabwe would succeed in retaining
professional staff because of poor remuneration.
"Whatever levels of salaries we choose to pay the young professionals will
still not enable them to buy a car or work towards owning a house. As long
as the situation remains like this we will not be able to keep our own
people in our country," Mudhuwiwa said.
He said the country's tertiary institutions were experiencing a serious
skills flight because of poor remuneration and poor working conditions.
Lecturers could not afford doing research work because of a stifling
environment, he said.
"A case in point here is the infrastructural state of
the University of Zimbabwe where buildings and related infrastructure is in
a poor state of repair. With very few lecturers left, the institution can
only churn out a small number of degreed personnel for industry. People are
also now sending their children to "better universities" outside Zimbabwe.
Chances of such children coming back soon after qualifying are very slim,"
A serious skills haemorrhage has hit Zimbabwe due to the seven-year economic
recession plaguing the country.
It is believed that of the country's estimated 13 million people, four
million of them now reside in the diaspora.
As a result, Zimbabwe has been reduced to a dual role of being the training
ground for the world's bustling economies and a dumpsite for the chaff
failing to meet the grade in the competitive world.
To plug the continued loss of skills in the public sector, the government
has introduced a bonding system where university and college students
receiving grants and loans from the state will be compelled to join the
civil service for specific periods before they can be allowed to find work
THE central bank is mulling a possible relaxation of exchange control
regulations to stop massive skills loss in the mining sector.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono, who toured RioZim's
Renco Gold Mine last week, told miners that the central bank might have to
move in to avert a worsening skills loss across the sector.
Skilled mining labour is leaving the country for regional countries such as
South Africa, Namibia and Zambia where they are better remunerated.
Gono could not give a time frame for the new measures, but this would mean
that executives and key skilled people in the mining sector might have to be
paid in foreign currency.
"The country's skills base is diminishing in the sector and we should do
something. We might have to relax the exchange regime so that those who can
pay, do so because we might continue losing people," he said. "We will look
at whatever they are paid in those countries and we will match that. But
again I am thinking aloud," said Gono.
Gono's comments come a few months after the Chamber of Mines raised concerns
with his office highlighting the problem across the sector.
The central bank boss held a meeting on Tuesday last week with members of
the gold working committee over problems besetting the miners, which
centered on late payments from the central bank.
Turning to the issue of outstanding foreign currency payments, Gono said the
central bank is working on expunging the payments but did not give a time
RioZim is the country's second largest gold producer after Metallon Gold.
Despite a boom in international gold prices, Zimbabwe's gold miners are
singing the blues owing to price distortions and an unstable economic
environment, which has not supported mining development.
First quarter gold production output figures dropped by 14 percent this
year, according to the Chamber of Mines..
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Reporter
Police brutality ruins tourism recovery efforts
THE weather is unfriendly - well below zero degrees Celsius - but Thembie
Mulanga, the lady at the front office of the four-star hotel in Nyanga,
about 80 kilometres north-east of Mutare, beams warmly as she welcomes a
group of over 50 visitors to this picturesque resort area.
For Thembie, having such a large group of visitors is an exciting
experience, one she had missed over seven years due to an economic and
political crisis that has blighted the fortunes of the country's tourism
For the first time in a long time, the hotel bursts into life, reminding
Thembie and fellow employees of the good old days when Nyanga was a
destination of choice for foreign visitors eager to catch a glimpse of the
beauty of Zimbabwe's resorts.
It also marked a revival of the sector, they imagined, and rightly so.
Tourism industry players had embarked on rigorous international campaigns to
regain lost confidence among foreign visitors who had grown increasingly
averse to visiting Zimbabwe due to reports of violence, torture and
lawlessness in the international press.
The government, feeling the pinch from dwindling foreign currency inflows as
a result of reduced international tourist arrivals, had assisted in the
campaigns, splurging billions of dollars in marketing campaigns mainly
targeted at Asian markets.
Foreign currency earnings from the tourism industry have slumped from US$777
million in 1997 to less than $100 million in 2005.
But a new wave of violence and state-sanctioned brutality against members of
the opposition, lawyers, human rights activists and journalists has once
again ruined prospects of revival in the tourism industry.
The United States government last month issued a fresh travel warning to its
citizens, indicating that Zimbabwe was no longer a safe travel destination
and urging Americans to shun the country.
"The security forces increasingly are acting with impunity. The government
publicly has defended its right to treat individuals roughly including those
in custody and has warned of more such abuses," the US, whose president
labelled Zimbabwe an outpost of tyranny, said in a statement.
With a presidential election scheduled for next year, analysts warn that the
country could experience an escalation of political violence.
Industry players said this could mark a new season of renewed travel
warnings by the West, something likely to hurt the fortunes of an industry
already teetering on the brink of collapse.
"It is very disappointing and it worries us that there is a renewed
onslaught (from) our traditional markets," said Chipo Mtasa, president of
the Zimbabwe Council of Tourism (ZCT). "Although we are looking at other
markets, we still consider traditional markets to be important to us," she
But Shingi Munyeza, the industrious ZTA chairman and chief executive officer
of the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed hotel and leisure group, Zimsun
Leisure, discounted the impact of the travel alerts.
"It (travel warnings) will affect those (tour operators) sitting on the
fence. But I have spoken to many tour operators who have indicated that they
are not affected. So the travel warning doesn't affect what we are doing at
the moment. It's more on political issues," Munyeza said.
However, Tony Hawkins, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe's Graduate
School of Management, said the situation was likely to make it difficult to
attract visitors from new markets.
"They (travel warnings) make it difficult to take new ones," Hawkins said.
Although the government launched a "Look East" policy more than three years
ago under which it injected huge funds for a marketing campaign in the Asian
countries, particularly China, nothing significant has been achieved from
Recently, a Chinese pop star, Chris Wong shot down claims by government
authorities and players in the tourism sector that the country's tourist
destinations were now popular in China.
Wong, who was in the country for the Harare International Festival of the
Arts, said the state-run Zimbabwe Tourism Authority still had a lot of work
to do in marketing the country's destinations.
A SECURITY industry executive this week warned of potential risks in the
sector as firms adopted desperate stopgap measures to curtail losses
precipitated by an escalating economic crisis.
Devine Ndhlukula, managing director of Securico Security Services, said the
situation in the sector had worsened during the months of March and April,
prompting mass resignations as employee morale in the sector hit rock
Ndhlukula is also chairperson of the Security Association of Zimbabwe, the
umbrella organisation for security services companies.
"Previously we had noted low employee moral due to the economic hardships
leading to an increase in pilferage and organised crime. We alerted you to
the need to review security systems and policies as a counter measure to
this new threat," Ndhlukula said in her regular note to clients, a copy of
which was seen by The Financial Gazette.
She said the situation had worsened dramatically since her last update to
"Currently the situation has deteriorated to a point where the cost of
transport and housing alone now surpass the net salary of employees in the
low-income groups. There have been mass resignations as a result and this is
why security companies are now failing to deploy fully to cover all posts,"
She warned that frustration and insecurity had crept into the market as a
result of "serious underdeployments" by security services firms.
"Security companies have responded in various ways to these challenges and
we have observed that some of the initiatives are desperate stopgap measures
that may cause further losses," Ndhlukula warned.
She said some firms were reducing training time or not training recruits at
all "as long as these recruits have received training or worked elsewhere".
They were also reducing the age requirements to as low as 18 years and
disregarding vetting procedures, which in normal cases would ensure that
undesirable elements do not join the security profession.
"We advise you to be on your guard against such practices as you may place
yourselves into potential risk," Ndhlukula said.
Nkululeko Sibanda Staff Reporter
THE Zimbabwean government has escaped regional censure for its rights abuses
because of a void in the protocols signed by African states on safeguarding
democracy on the continent, says the head of an elections lobby group.
Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, national director of the Zimbabwe Election Support
Network, said while on paper the protocols appear to be binding, no real
action can be taken against a member state that contravenes them.
Chipfunde-Vava said governments across Africa continued to sign similar
protocols, with no improvements to include stronger peer review mechanisms.
Rights groups said African leaders continue to be unwilling to take stern
action against errant fellow heads of state in the name of African
In March, the Southern African Development Community resisted western
pressure to publicly rebuke Zimbabwe over its human rights record, saying
dialogue had a better chance of achieving a solution than the sanctions and
threats favoured by the west.
"These protocols have been signed on the understanding that they are binding
protocols meant to ensure that member states instill a sense of democracy,
good governance, peace and stability in their countries.
"But what has emerged in the past is that these documents have, to a larger
extent, turned out to be documents of persuasion rather than those that are
supposed to be binding on any member states. They have not proved their
effectiveness in instilling good governance and democracy, peace and
stability in the region", said Chipfunde-Vava.
Piles of documents and protocols were gathering dust in the offices of
regional bodies, she complained.
"As for the Zimbabwean situation, these are the voids that have been
exploited by the government because it is clear that, as far as Africa was
concerned, very little could be done by the member states to hold Zimbabwe
accountable for its actions."
NO one can deny that Zimbabwe was once a beacon in Africa in the field of
education. It had one of the highest literacy rates and the quality of its
education was second to none as demonstrated by the eagerness with which
Zimbabwean expertise has been snapped up in various parts of the world.
However, of late, things have deteriorated sharply and no amount of
nostalgia or rhetoric about how things used to be can camouflage the fact
that education has now gone to the dogs. Everything that could go wrong has
definitely done so. The rot set in slowly, beginning with minor infractions
of the law by school heads and teachers such as embezzlement of modest sums
of money to real big time scandals such as the leaking of examination papers
to the wholesale sexual abuse of pupils under the noses of school
These days, reading about the woes bedeviling the educational sector in the
press is almost like watching a comedy of errors.
The changeover from Ordinary and Advanced level certificate examinations set
overseas to those set locally by the Schools Examinations Council has been
an unmitigated disaster, if the truth must be told. Examination leaks,
mix-ups, non-arrival of test papers, typographical errors, unethical
invigilation and marking have become the order of the day. Students are
regularly traumatised when they fail their best subjects and get
distinctions in those that they never sat for. Something is definitely
seriously wrong and O and A level certificates are being rapidly devalued.
The examination markers, who regularly complain of receiving peanuts and
sometimes not being paid at all, must be resorting to all sorts of acts of
sabotage. These problems will not go away by themselves.
A newspaper reported recently that a number of schools in Matabeleland had
failed to open for the second term because there were no teachers. Some of
the teachers who were interviewed for the story indicated that they could
not afford the bus fares to return to their stations and saw no point in
continuing in the profession because of the poor remuneration and conditions
of service. Another manifestation of the general disgruntlement of
professionals in this sector is the large number of teachers who have left
for other countries, especially South Africa.
What kind of education can students be getting when even those teachers who
have remained in the country are on strike most of the time? Most are
reported to be making ends meet by offering private tuition to students from
private colleges. When I was growing up, which, admittedly, was zillions of
years ago, teachers were a respected group who were held in high regard
within society. No more. Now they have to scavenge for a living like the
rest. Reports that these once proud professionals are now reduced to doing
menial jobs in neighbouring countries to support their families back home is
a sad reflection of the extent to which things have been left to slide in
The saying that a fish rots from the head is now sadly true of the education
system, which seems to have been ruined beyond repair. Recent excruciatingly
embarrassing pictures showing unchecked dilapidation at the University of
Zimbabwe, which is supposed to be the nation's premier institution of higher
learning, proved that the education sector is now a disaster from top to
bottom. Both students and lecturers at the university are disgruntled, with
the latter regularly going on strike to demand better pay. The students
regularly clash with the police when they take to the streets to highlight
their disgruntlement over the deteriorating conditions and the curtailment
of academic freedom. Similar scenes are replicated at institutions of higher
learning throughout the country.
The powers-that-be cannot continue to pretend that rhetoric about past glory
can make things right again. While it is true that the government built more
schools and made education accessible to the majority of the people after
independence, those early successes have been cancelled by the rot that was
allowed to set in. It is counterproductive to continue citing these past
achievements as an excuse to avoid acknowledging what is happening now and
formulating strategies to find long-term solutions. The government's
post-independence successes would have been spectacular if they had been
maintained and built upon.
The problem seems to be that at some point along the way, caution was thrown
to the wind and eyes were taken off the ball. As a result of corruption,
inefficiency and nepotism and political patronage under which the principle
of appointment based on merit was tossed aside, institutions were allowed to
run on auto-pilot. As things stand now, it is difficult to imagine that the
descent into chaos in almost all ministerial portfolios occurred under the
stewardship of incumbents paid from the national fiscus.
Most of what the government set out and pledged to do at independence has
turned out to be half-baked. As a result of the untenable situation in
schools and institutions of higher learning, Zimbabwe is now producing
half-baked graduates who can only hope to join the ranks of the 80 percent
The planned bonding of graduates from tertiary institutions to stem the
stampede to other countries will remain a cosmetic move unless the
authorities are prepared to address the reasons that sparked the on-going
exodus in the first place. The government needs to get its priorities right.
It cannot hope to reverse the rot by playing to the gallery rather than
Education has gone to the dogs, the health system is in intensive care, the
legal system has been compromised, agriculture is in ruins, the press is
gasping for air, the police force is corrupt and brutal, the army is
starving . . . the list is endless. With things having fallen apart so
badly, one would expect the authorities to concentrate on finding ways to
revive the institutions that have been run to the ground. But apparently,
government logic does not go that way. Despite failing to fund existing
tertiary colleges and universities adequately, the authorities continue to
moot the construction of new ones. It must be prestigious for politicians to
boast that every urban centre in Zimbabwe has a university, but it does not
make any sense when most of them have become dysfunctional
A newspaper reported that the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is to provide funds
for the construction of 62 technical colleges to produce half a million
ox-drawn carts and ploughs to enhance agricultural production. Against a
backdrop of the prevailing chaos, it will be a tall order to get these
institutions up and running. A question that comes to mind immediately is
why these new colleges are needed when the nation has been told ad nauseam
that the national youth service training programme produces graduates armed
with those exact skills?
IF there is anything Zimbabweans are now known for, it is their misdirected
zeal in prescribing solutions for others to implement while they struggle in
their backyard to put out fires razing their homes to the ground.
Instead of facing up to the real issues at the crux of the country's
problems, even if it puts them in bad light, Zimbabweans would rather bury
their heads in the sand - ostrich style - in the hope that a Messiah will
emerge from somewhere or the passage of time will take care of their
Like a cancer, this ostrich mentality now pervades social clubs,
cooperatives, churches, institutions, communities, and has laid siege to
central government where, despite the high-sounding blueprints churned out
time without number over the past two decades, the devil has always been in
But as the powers-that-be dither, the country's troubles have refused to be
With each delay comes the multiplier effect that has compounded Zimbabwe's
woes and it is now clear that with the intermittent electricity blackouts
further impairing capacity utilisation in industry, which has sunk to below
20 percent, the centre cannot hold for long. And yet those in positions of
authority continue to postpone the inevitable.
Obert Mpofu, the Industry and International Trade Minister is among the
coterie of government officials making a lot of hype about nothing. The
line-up of Commissioners paraded by Mpofu to the media this week to direct
the course of the National Incomes and Pricing Commission saps the little
hope consumers had in the latest government project meant to stabilise
runaway prices and put a lid on what ZANU PF's well-fed politicians allege
to be profiteering.
How Mpofu aims to put an end to the deeply entrenched inflation expectations
and win public confidence by cramming the Commission with people with no
known track record in pricing, surveillance and some with allegiances to the
very same constituencies the state-run agency intends to rein in defies
Fatigued and dazzled by the occasion as they appeared on the front page of
the daily Herald on Tuesday, the line-up does not show any seriousness on
the part of government and can only provide some comic relief were it not
for the fact that there is nothing remotely funny about it. Is that the best
Mpofu could do?
In our opinion, the Commission will change nothing. It will simply suffer
the same fate as the other commissions and task forces which failed to live
up to expectations because the very people that established them did not
want them to succeed. It's called politics!
For starters, the Mpofu Commission is barking up the wrong tree. For as long
as it skirts around issues at the heart of industry, i.e. chronic foreign
currency shortages, hyperinflation, crippling production costs and the
exchange rate, which renders exports uncompetitive, there won't be any
respite for the suffering masses.
With its limited scope, the Commission has no teeth to discharge its mandate
effectively and will soon be caught up in the rigmarole characterising
As if to vindicate our suspicion, the Commission is chaired in the interim
by the head of the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ), which falls directly
under Mpofu's ministry. The CCZ is known for parroting the views of its
parent ministry and has done little to shield consumers from unfair trade
The government, it would appear, is now out of its depth in dealing with the
country's multi-faced political and economic woes and all it is doing is to
buy time. Subcontracting this responsibility to Thabo Mbeki of South Africa
will not help either.
With the elections around the corner, political heavies will be falling over
each other to safeguard their jobs and one sure way of doing so is to be
seen to be delivering the votes. But shying away from the real issues and
focusing on trivia, as they will soon discover, counts for nothing in the
grand scheme of things.
From the time the country's economy started heating up, the powers-that-be
have been heaping blame on soft targets. Suggesting otherwise is seen as an
unforgivable offence met with threats and a torrent of abusive language.
Speculators were fingered for the November 1997 crash of the local unit even
though it was quite clear efforts to defend the currency had come unstuck
owing to the declining foreign currency reserves. Then it was the
imperialists, particularly Britain, for their role in reversing the gains of
the liberation struggle. A number of other soft targets have also been put
on the sacrificial altar but that has not changed anything.
In other countries, economic ministries, i.e. those in charge of industry,
finance, agriculture and mining, are taken quite seriously and rarely do
their guardians open their mouths unless they have SOMETHING to say. Opening
mouths for political expediency or for the sake of saying something to
assuage the Tsunami caused by their collective actions is a disease that has
not done the country any good.
It has only served to deepen scepticism about fighting inflation as all and
sundry figure out that the authorities have nothing new to offer. Silence
can be golden at times.
National Agenda with Bornwell Chakaodza
GOING by the programmes and news bulletins currently served up by the
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH), the new short-wave radio and
television station recently launched by our only broadcasting station must
clearly carry a government health warning: It could drive you crazy and
nuts - with deadly boredom!
My question to the Minister of Information and Publicity, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu
and ZBH chief executive officer Henry Muradzikwa is: Why subject Zimbabweans
at home and in the Diaspora to yet more torture and cruelty?
There are too
many things that Zimbabweans in the Diaspora would rather do than listening
to the new Voice of Zimbabwe broadcasting station.
There is a pressing need to transform the fortunes of Pockets Hill here in
Harare and stations elsewhere in the country without adding another station
that a few or none will listen to or watch. Who does not know that ZBH has
been in terminal decline and is in need of urgent fixing?
Audience figures have waned. Viewers have switched off or switched over to
Zimbabwean radio stations based outside the country and other international
broadcast networks such as SABC, BBC, CNN, and SkyNews.
Our local news on television and radio here in Zimbabwe does not reflect
reality on the ground because of lack of editorial independence on the part
of ZBH among other reasons.
What is this "true Zimbabwean story" that Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and Henry
Muradzikwa keep on telling us day in and day out? For me, the true
Zimbabwean story is that things are broken in this country and need urgent
fixing. This is the real story of Zimbabwe.
It is naive and rather bizarre on the part of ZBH to think that they can
project a true Zimbabwean story about such an unhappy country - a country,
which, to all intents and purposes, is in a state of economic collapse.
According to the general manager of the new station, Voice of Zimbabwe,
Happison Muchechetere, broadcasts will be intended to reach target audiences
in South Africa, Australia, the UK and the United States.
The question that immediately comes to mind is: Why did those Zimbabweans
flee their homeland in the first place? Why is there a feeling in government
and ZBH circles that history is in the making by launching such a damp squib
of a radio station? Are the protagonists of such a project living in cuckoo
land or what?
What is most important at this stage is to get ZBH back on its feet. It has
been down in the dumps for many years now. ZBH needs to face this truth. ZBH
needs to become a truly public service broadcaster and not a government
mouthpiece as it is at the present moment. It is crucial that it tries to
cater for the interests and tastes of the great variety of audiences if it
wants to be taken seriously by Zimbabweans both at home and abroad. There is
really nothing special about SABC, BBC, CNN or other outside broadcasting
stations such as SW Radio and VOA Studio 7. It is not as if they have some
special interest in our problems here. No. It is just that they report news
that is not allowed to be broadcast by ZBH.
In other words, by denying ZBH editorial independence, fairness and
impartiality, the government of Zimbabwe has made Zimbabweans easier targets
of domination by the Western mass media.
Western journalists can become seemingly authoritative interpreters of our
events here in a week's sojourn in Harare when in fact they are far from
authorities by any stretch of imagination.
By suppressing ZBH and Zimpapers, the government must never think that they
can suppress news. It only makes western reporters become false authorities
on our situation and enables them to report on our news to our own people
with much greater impact.
In any event, the Internet has opened up a whole new world anyway. We are
living in an information age in which information flows instantaneously, in
which rumours and leaks are the order of the day and they go on the
Internet, online publications and websites with no concern for the accuracy
and fairness of it all.
By trying to project a so-called "true Zimbabwean story," ZBH would have
shamelessly joined this bandwagon.
The job of ZBH is to give Zimbabweans both at home and in the Diaspora real
news. Non-stop propaganda campaigns of showing Zimbabwe in a positive light
and broadcasting sunshine stories when the reality on the ground is very
different will get us nowhere.
This nation is in need of healing, as the governor of the central bank,
Gideon Gono, never tires of saying and as the recent pastoral statement by
the Roman Catholics Bishops in Zimbabwe made it very clear.
This may all seem self-evident to many people but it needs to be said all
the time until our current national crisis is over. We need to address the
root causes of our crisis, not just dealing with the symptoms.
So to Happison and Henry, I would say that it should not be a question of
propaganda for government and ZANU PF. It should simply be a matter of the
new Voice of Zimbabwe radio station keeping the Zimbabwean public as fully
and accurately informed as possible about what is happening in our country
and the world, of analysing our crisis and of providing a genuine platform
for a genuine public debate and finding a way out of this quagmire that we
find ourselves in.
If the station can do that, I will be the first to tune in to it - never
mind those in the Diaspora - and shout "Hallelua", and sing the song
"Courage brother, do not stumble."
IN this final part of the presentation made to the Forum of Energy Ministers
in Maputo, Engineer Simba Mangwengwende and contributing author Dr Njeri
Wamukonya analyse the weaknesses in regulation and the reforms instituted so
far to avert a seemingly inevitable power crisis in Africa.
THE challenges facing the African power sector are a microcosm of the many
problems facing the continent that are rooted in its economic and social
Consumption of electricity is low due to low GDP and electricity access
Fortunately there is strong political will to break with this life of
poverty in the midst of plenty and this is reflected in the many national,
regional and continental institutions engaged in the search for a lasting
This paper has highlighted the continent's large energy resources that are
under-utilised while the people suffer from limited access to
electricity and frequent power supply outages.
Distribution losses are much higher than in other regions. Financial
performance of utilities is poor and characterised by negative rates of
return and poor cash collection.
Many utilities do not even bother to provide financial reports. Power sector
reforms have only succeeded in providing for emergency generation through
IPP's but have marginalised the poor and the local private sector.
Regulatory agencies are weak and countries have not managed to attract the
levels of private sector investment anticipated.
Although some of the problems in the power sector are attributed to such
externalities as drought and steep increases in prices
for oil importing countries, the root causes of these problems lie in
weaknesses in planning and regulation. There are many wish lists of
priorities that reflect a desire for a better future but there are very few
bankable projects to make that future a reality.
Bankable projects pay dividends, repay loans and therefore attract
The local private sector will be able to attract much more FDI than what
governments are able to. Bankable electricity projects are produced from
coordinated economic and energy planning, promotion of manufacturing
industry and regional integration driven by demand of the regional economic
powers and exploitation of economies of scale.
Regulation must focus on attracting local private sector investment. The
local manufacture of distribution equipment is an essential part of national
Electrification programmes that have succeeded have had strong state
direction and material support, and significant financial support has come
from the profitable operations of the utilities.
There is a positive correlation between regulation and financial performance
of the power sector. Although specific roles of regulators vary from country
to country their overriding function is to enhance the country's investment
There is need for institutional role clarity because many existing
institutions have overlapping responsibilities and blurred accountabilities.
The relative roles of national, regional and continental institutions also
There is need for a continental institution to coordinate activities of
power pools. Effectiveness and sustainability of the institutions requires
motivated and skilled staff supported by local funding for administration
expenses so that donor money is directed to specific projects and
The Forum of Energy Ministers in Africa (FEMA) is uniquely positioned to add
value to existing institutions by coordinating their activities and
facilitating inter-regional and international cooperation in energy issues.
Recommendations for addressing the identified challenges facing the power
sector can be summarised as follows:
1. Development of Bankable Projects
n Establish an easily accessible national energy and electricity database
that has sufficient information to facilitate research and planning; the
database should include all relevant economic, social, technical and
financial information and data on the energy sector in general and the power
sector in particular.
n Establish an inventory of major planned economic and social programs and
projects together with the energy and power requirements. This will help
planners to produce bankable projects instead of wish lists.
n Establish an inventory of national projects and development programs based
on feasibility-level studies and explicit security and import dependency
criteria. This inventory is to facilitate the development of least-cost
regional power development programmes.
n Compile and publicise list of bankable national projects that are part of
the least-cost regional development programme.
2 Attracting Investment
n Establish regulatory policies that ensure that an efficient state
enterprise or local private sector operator can make money for providing
quality electricity products and services. This will create a more efficient
way of attracting FDI into the country.
n Establish local manufacturing capability for distribution equipment as
part of a national electrification programme.
3 Implementing Policies and Projects
n Establish institutions that make efficient and effective use of scarce
skills e.g. multi-sector rather than single sector regulators, using former
public sector employees as consultants to produce bankable projects and
n Finance administrative costs of institutions from own resources to ensure
sustainability and commitment to institutional objectives.
FEMA has the unique opportunity to facilitate regional, continental and
international cooperation in the African power sector by undertaking the
following support functions:
1. Facilitate the development of an energy database to support research and
2. Coordinate the work of existing continental institutions
3. Facilitate the creation of an African Forum of Power Pool (AFPP)
4. Peer Review
Remove the log in your eye first
EDITOR - The deteriorating social, economic and political situation in our
country calls for a holistic approach in finding a solution.
That our country is on the brink of collapse is beyond doubt. It is very
naive for the government to blame all our problems on the western world and
at the same time ignore the extent to which local factors such as corruption
have led to the economic mess that we find ourself in.
Only recently a high ranking government official (May his departed soul rest
in peace) was arrested at the airport attempting to smuggle diamonds. This
embarassing event was met with defeaning silence from the authorities. This
can be taken to mean that the government tacitly approves of corruption
within its own circles and is not serious about tackling it.
On the other hand, the government must accept its own role in the collapse
of the economy as a starting point to a complete revival of the economy.
A case in point is that of the so-called 99-year leases given to new
farmers, which the government is trying to force down the throat of banks as
adequate security when everyone knows that leases are not acceptable as
The government must swallow its pride and give the new farmers title deeds
as a step towards reviving the agricultural sector and engaging banks as
For now the government is prepared to bury its head in the sand and ignore
this fact yet its impact on the economy is significant.
Our country surely needs healing in order for us to dig ourselves out of
Computer illiterate MPs
EDITOR - With all the hype that has been made about ITC and the donations of
computers and other IT equipment, it's quite scary that none of our MPs and
Senators have email addresses that make them readily accessible to their
constituents from wherever they are.
I think its time that our leadership got a little serious and moved into the
21st Century without blaming the Americans or Europeans for everything. The
time has come to be progressive and to shape our own destiny, not to always
seek salvation and solutions from outside our own countries!
Why bond us at all?
EDITOR - It is with dismay that I read in a local paper that the government
is planning to bond us as they are funding us. I personally feel the excuse
they are using is not called for because if my memory serves me well, last
year we were paying $25 000 as fees and out of that amount the government
was paying just $5 200.
My question is why would you want to bond someone you are not even assisting
fully. There are no resources at state institutions and the lecturers are
always on strike. Am I missing something here? They can only expect us to
agree if they start addressing civil servants' problems, otherwise we will
look for other ways to get the certificates.
No rocket science here
EDITOR - It does not take a rocket scientist to know Zimbabwe is in a
financial mess and the Zimbabwean population is sucking up the mess. Please
help the ordinary men in the street.
People like us who are living abroad would like to come home if all is well.
I do not think it will be worth going back home to such a mess. I am worried
about my children and my grandchildren if they have to have a future in
Zimbabwe. Please revive the old Zimbabwe.
George K. Dombokah
Women must humble themselves
EDITOR - Thank you for allowing me space to air my views concerning violence
perpetrated on wives by their husbands. If women had become the woman
created by God, obedient to the husband, not being too proud because she
earns more than the husband, realises that he is the head and the woman is
the helper - maybe husbands would protect and treat their wives as queens.
If wives stopped wanting to be equal with their husbands and accepted they
were created to be helpers, husbands would keep their wives under their
wings, next to their hearts and not let any harm come to them. How can the
husband protect his equal when they are the same? We're all humans but he
still is a man. Maybe if you give your husbands the deserved respect and be
more humble, things would be better for all.
The people have suffered enough
EDITOR - I find it hard to believe that ZANU PF wants to rule the country
for another six years. The majority of people are living in poverty, and
apart from the suffering, most people are beaten and tortured everyday for
claiming their democratic freedom.
Let's look at the economy. It is the worst in the world with the highest
inflation rate. Can somebody give me a good reason why ZANU PF wants another
six years under the circumstances? What more can they offer the country if
the people can't enjoy the freedom to express their views?
So many Zimbabweans sacrificed a lot to gain our independence and so many
died during that struggle. At the moment how can we justify the deaths of
those patriots who died for this country? I can only say that all those who
died are happy that they do not have to see that they died in vain.
ZANU PF has made a lot of mistakes, some from men and women who wish to fill
their own pockets instead of helping millions of people who are in need of
I just want to urge all Zimbabweans to sit down and talk like brothers and
sisters. All this fighting and suffering that the people are going through
is not worth it.
Morgan Tsvangirai must start acting like a real leader and take the first
step to help the people. Demostrations will not work, since at the end of
the day it is the ordinary people who suffer.
I'm very proud to be called Zimbabwean and all I wish for is to see all the
people working together. I don't think it's hard for the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) to agree on some sort of a power sharing deal with
ZANU PF to pull the country out of the abyss.
As things stand the MDC will not win the election if they are not united.
ZANU PF, on the other hand, needs new blood to change things - new blood to
work with all the people regardless of which party they support or their
veiws. Of course this is my dream, but it does help to try as the people
have suffered enough.
Byo left out again
EDITOR - I am wondering why in Zimbabwe's SA 2010 plans you have no projects
for Bulawayo, which of course is near South Africa just like Masvingo? It is
great news that Masvingo will benefit from this, given its location on the
Joburg highway from Harare. On the other hand Bulawayo, which is between Vic
Falls and Jo'burg appears to be getting a raw deal. Why is there no stadium
being upgraded in Bulawayo? We need answers. In the past Bulawayo has always
been sidelined from national development and beacuse it happens all the time
people now think this is not normal. Well, it's not.
Most of the decision-makers are not from the Matabeleland region and as a
result they don't give a heck. We do. Call me what you want but the fact is
Bulawayo also needs a fair share of the cake.
Touts will give us a bad name
EDITOR - This is an open letter to the Ministers of Home Affairs, Transport,
Environment and Tourism and Her Highness The Mayor of Harare.
It is a blessing for Zimbabwe to have the 2010 Soccer World Cup being hosted
in neighbouring South Africa only if Zimbabweans work towards attracting and
wooing both new and returning visitors to our country. To think that because
we have the Victoria Falls, Great Zimbabwe, Hwange National Park, and other
holiday resorts, therefore, we will benefit from this event without sweating
falls short of the efforts that are needed for our country to get maximum
benefits from the biggest football showcase in the world.
First, I do not think visitors and tourists who have experienced and
witnessed the barbaric touting that occurs at the Greencroft and Avondale
rank located at the intersection of Mbuya Nehanda and Albion Street would
want to visit Zimbabwe again.
I witnessed an elegantly dressed woman losing a top-of-the-range cellphone
when it smashed to the ground because several touts were simultaneously
pulling her, her groceries and luggage in different directions in an effort
to lure her into their kombis. Reporting to the police yielded no results as
the offenders all disappeared in different directions as soon as a member of
the police force arrived.
Why can't we have one kombi loading at a time so that commuters do not get
harassed and confused by the touts? At the Avondale rank you will see
commuters being asked to board one kombi and the next minute a different
person rudely orders them to get off and board a different one.
Amidst all this mayhem, the "bullying group of kombi drivers" will be
reversing their vehicles against the flow of traffic in both Albion Street
and across its intersection with Mbuya Nehanda street, posing a danger both
to other motorists and pedestrians. There is chaos at this intersection. I
thought a one-way street sign is a regulatory sign that should be obeyed at
all times but no one is enforcing the law at this intersection.
I have seen municipal police and the ZRP using this intersection, but they
proceed with their business as if nothing is happening. Can you imagine what
will happen if foreign motorists who will be following our road traffic
signs religiously use this intersection?
When I tried to find out why there is confusion all the time at this rank, I
was told it's because of a few kombi drivers who bully other kombi drivers
by not wanting to join the queue. The bullies are the ones who jump the
queue by reversing across Mbuya Nehanda Street against the flow of traffic
and parking in front of the kombi that is supposed to be boarded. Logically
the next batch of commuters will board the kombi that jumped the queue
because if they board the kombi that is behind the "queue jumper" their
vehicle will not leave the rank since the "queue jumper" will be
deliberately blocking the way. This is why you find at times commuters are
endlessly transferred from one vehicle to the other.
I am surprised that the traffic police have decided to turn a blind eye to
the mess at this intersection. The "queue jumpers" and their touts verbally
and sometimes physically harass any member of the public who warns them of
the dangers of their behaviour. I ask you Honourable Ministers and the Mayor
to help the relevant ministries and authorities in taking action so that we
clean our city of these rude touts and drivers who work against our efforts
to attract tourists and visitors.