By Ann Penketh, Diplomatic Editor
Published: 04 May 2007
Britain is engaged in a last-ditch effort to prevent Zimbabwe, whose
development has been reversed by the policies of Robert Mugabe, from taking
over as chairman of the UN Sustainable Development Commission.
Zimbabwe's environment minister, Francis Nhema, is set to be elected
commission chairman next week after the African group of countries at the UN
agreed to nominate him.
UN diplomats said yesterday that Britain and other like-minded countries
were privately consulting African states, aware of the disastrous message
that Mr Nhema's appointment would send.
"Zimbabwe is not exactly a paragon of development," said one diplomat. Under
President Mugabe, Zimbabwe, once the bread-basket of Africa, can no longer
feed itself. Annual inflation is running at 2,200 per cent, millions have
been made poor and tens of thousands have died from malnutrition and lack of
The UN diplomats recognised that it was unlikely the African group would
have a change of heart at this stage. Zimbabwe's nomination as chairman was
agreed last month under a geographical rotation system. The outgoing
chairman is from Qatar.
The commission has a broad mandate, including climate change, and sees
itself as an "authoritative source of expertise" on sustainable development.
In a decision which will deal a further blow to the UN's reputation, the
last one-party state in Europe, Belarus, has been put forward as a candidate
to the UN Human Rights Council by the East European group. The council is
the successor to the discredited UN Human Rights Commission which was wound
up last year.
By Geoff Hill
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
May 4, 2007
For the first time, Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he is
ready to discuss an amnesty for President Robert Mugabe if that would clear
the way for the authoritarian 83-year-old leader to cede power.
In an opinion article published in today's edition of The Washington
Times, Mr. Tsvangirai said that he is ready to negotiate a transfer to
democratic rule in Zimbabwe, with "no preconditions except that discussion
must be aimed at bringing true freedom to the country."
Negotiators, including senior members of the South Africa government,
human rights activists and journalists have urged Mr. Tsvangirai for two
years to declare clearly that he would offer such an amnesty for Mr. Mugabe,
his generals, secret police and Cabinet ministers.
But this is Zimbabwe's "Catch-22," Mr. Tsvangirai said in his article.
"If we say we'll bring these people to justice, they will cling ever
more firmly to power," he said. "Yet, if we offer them unconditional pardon,
we sell out the hopes of their victims -- millions of people who have a
right to justice."
After 27 years in power, Mr. Mugabe's government stands accused of
ethnic cleansing, torture and, since 2000, the murder or disappearance of as
many as 300 people.
Two years ago, he ordered bulldozers to clear shacks erected by the
urban poor -- many of whom had fled to the cities in the wake of a failed
land-reform program -- and an estimated 1.5 million people were rendered
Economic collapse has ushered in the world's highest inflation, now
2,300 percent, and seen almost a third of Zimbabwe's 14 million people flee
Western governments, including the United States, still refuse to
recognize the 2005 election that returned Mr. Mugabe to power, citing
reports of widespread electoral fraud and intimidation.
Two months ago, police in the capital, Harare, stormed an open-air
meeting where thousands had gathered to pray for change. Mr. Tsvangirai was
arrested and so severely assaulted by police that had to be treated for
severe head injuries.
In his article today, Mr. Tsvangirai recalls the words of former U.S.
Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who said: "If you want to make peace,
it's no good talking to your friends; you need to speak with your enemies."
To that end, he said, if a deal to guarantee immunity from prosecution
for Mr. Mugabe and other regime officials stands in the way of dialogue, "we
could talk about that."
But he also insisted that the main points of the deal would have to be an
end to state controls of the press, free and fair elections, and an
irreversible transition to democracy.
Mr, Tsvangirai said his greatest concern is that time may be running out
for peaceful change in Zimbabwe.
"The change I talk about will come, regardless of whether Mugabe agrees
to it or not. As surely as dictatorship fell in Chile, Cambodia, Liberia,
Rwanda, Sierra Leone and the former Soviet Union, it will collapse in
Zimbabwe," he wrote.
The longer the government holds power by force, he said, the greater
will be the wrath of the people when change does come. That could make it
harder to ignore calls to put some members of the government on trial.
It is important, he concluded, to persuade Mr. Mugabe to step down
before it is too late for peaceful transition.
By Morgan Tsvangirai
May 4, 2007
On March 11, 2007, I was arrested while attempting to attend a prayer vigil
in Harare and taken to a police station where officers, whose job it is to
protect the public, beat me so badly I suffered injuries to my skull and had
to be hospitalized foralmost a week. My crime: trying to pray for change in
The world's outcry over the past two months at the brutality exhibited
by the regime of President Robert Mugabe has been heartening to the Zimbabwe
people.Make no mistake, this condemnation, both in Africa and abroad, has
had a hugeand positive effect on the morale of those fighting for freedom.
Mr. Mugabe has ruled Zimbabwe since 1980 and since that time, we
haveseen inflation spiral from virtually zero to 2,300 percent, a collapse
ofthe currency and the flight into economic exile of almost a third of our
population. True, there have been worse leaders in the world. According to
the GuinnessBook of Records, Joseph Stalin killed more than 30 million
people. Idi Amin murdered around 300,000 Ugandans while one in 10 Cambodians
perished under the rule of Pol Pot. The other dictators lived out their
lives in relative comfort and died of natural causes.
Nevertheless the world has changed. Gen. Augusto Pinochet of Chile,
propped up so shamelessly by Washington and Europe during the Cold War,
ended up on trial, stripped of the immunity he had forced the Argentine
government to give him in exchange for a transfer to democracy. On my own
continent, the former leadership of Rwanda and Sierra Leone are in the dock,
while one-time president of Liberia, Charles Taylor, is under arrest at The
Hague for crimes against humanity.
These are dangerous times for dictators. I have little doubt that one
reason Mr. Mugabe is so determined to stay in office until he dies (he's
already 83 years old) is a fear of prosecution. In the early '80s, he sent
his army into our southern province of Matabeleland, where they slaughtered
thousands of people loyal to his rival, the late Dr. Joshua Nkomo. That one
act would be enough to see him tried for war crimes, let alone the
wide-scale murder and torture committed by his government since our party,
the Movement for Democratic Change or MDC, first challenged his authority in
Mr. Mugabe was not alone. Air Marshall Perence Shiri, among others, led
the Matabele genocide; speaker of parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa oversaw it
as minister; various heads of the feared Central Intelligence Organization
or CIO, including the incumbent Didymus Mutasa must be held to account.
These individuals could be held responsible for permitting acts of torture
and abuse, not to mention the wholesale displacement of an estimated 1.5
million people when their homes were bulldozed in 2005 during operation
Murambatsvina(clear the trash).
And that's the Catch-22. If we say we'll bring these people to justice,
they will cling ever more firmly to power. Yet, if we offer them
unconditional pardon, we sell out the hopes of their victims: millions of
people who have a right to justice. With my body still in pain from the
recent beating, I am reminded of the words of Henry Kissinger when he was
secretary of state in the 1970s: "If you want to make peace, it's no good
talking to your friends; you need to speak with your enemies."
To this end we are willing at any time to sit down with Mr. Mugabe and
his ministers and discuss a transfer to democracy, free and fair elections,
an end to their rigid control of the media and a new era of freedom for
Zimbabwe. After all, we have nothing to lose and polling suggests our party
would win a landslide if people had the chance to vote without the rigging
and intimidation that have marred recent efforts. If it took immunity from
prosecution to secure change, we could talk about that.
Our side comes to the table with no preconditions except that discussion
must be aimed at bringing true freedom to the country. I will never be
bought off by offers to join Mr. Mugabe's side, or any plan that would see a
continuation of the current tyranny. The change I talk about will come,
regardless of whether Mr. Mugabe agrees to it or not. As surely as
dictatorship fell in Chile, Cambodia, Liberia, Rwanda, Sierra Leone and the
former Soviet Union, it will collapse in Zimbabwe. But the longer Mr. Mugabe
and his allies stall that change, the greater will be the wrath of our
There is still time for Mr. Mugabe to make a dignified exit, but not
much. Beatings, torture, killings, rigged elections and control of the media
may secure his position in the short term, but nothing will change the
outcome. Let's pray that Africa and the world can persuade him of that
before it is too late.
Morgan Tsvangirai is president of the Zimbabwe opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change.
May 4, 2007
Rampant inflation and currency devaluation in Zimbabwe has forced Old
Mutual, the Anglo-South African insurer, to change its local dividend payout
in just six weeks from just over Zim$20 a share to nearly Zim$1,250 a share.
The astonishing increase is a reflection of inflation which, to judge by Old
Mutual's own calculations, is running at an annualised rate of about 1,700
per cent. However that assumes that the crippled economy under its
dictatorial President, Robert Mugabe, will not deteriorate further.
Economists believe that inflation could hit 4,000 per cent or more by the
end of the year.
The dire state of the Zimbabwean economy was underlined in a short statement
from Old Mutual yesterday which set out its final dividend using revised
Just a fortnight ago, Old Mutual said that its 4.15p per share dividend
would pay out Zim$20.77 per share, based on the official currency rate of
Zim$500 for £1.
The company then factored in inflation of about 200 per cent for the six
weeks between setting the dividend and paying it out on May 31 and promised
a Zim$40.64 per share payout, bringing an equivalent annual inflation rate
of about 1,700 per cent.
But last week Gideon Gono, Governor of Zimbabwe's Reserve Bank, devalued the
Zimbabwe dollar by more than 90 per cent. Exchange rates mean that
Zimbabwean locals need about Zim$30,000 to buy just £1.
The dividend will now be Zim$1,246.49 per share, Old Mutual told the London
Stock Exchange yesterday.
Old Mutual's statement added: "No further adjustment will be made to this
for the effects of inflation between April 19 and May 31."
One economist has predicted that inflation will peak at 5,742 per cent by
September, before declining to 4,000 per cent at the end of the year.
For Old Mutual, the currency conversion will make no difference to its
actual cash payout in sterling terms.
However Old Mutual shareholders who would usually leave their cash in the
bank may find it safer to spend it as fast as possible, particularly in
Zimbabwe, where it is said that cars are the new hard currency. 36 years The
average life expectancy in Zimbabwe - the lowest in the world Source:
Fri May 4, 2007 9:42 AM IST
By Julian Linden
SYDNEY (Reuters) - Prime Minister John Howard says the Australian government
will cover any financial penalties that may be imposed if the national
cricket team boycotts their scheduled tour of Zimbabwe for political
Cricket Australia could be hit with a $2 million fine from the International
Cricket Council (ICC) if they refuse to tour Zimbabwe as scheduled later
"We would indemnify Cricket Australia for any compensation that it might
have to pay to the international body," Howard told Australian radio on
"It would not be fair to visit the cost of a foreign policy decision on a
The Australian government began talks last month with cricket authorities
about the possibility of cancelling the tour after politicians began calling
for it to be scrapped.
Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer has said the three-match tour,
scheduled to take place in September, could be seen as sending the wrong
signal to Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe.
Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe since independence from Britain in 1980, is
accused by critics of political and human rights abuses and economic
Western critics, including Britain and the United States, have threatened
economic sanctions on Mugabe and his government, which is already battling
Zimbabwe's worst economic crisis in decades, with inflation now topping
The ICC is under intense pressure to take away Zimbabwe's status as a test
PRESIDENT Mugabe has called a special Zanu PF congress this year to
shut out those opposed to his continued stay in power and to kill off
Vice-President Joice Mujuru's succession ambitions.
Mugabe, under immense regional and domestic pressure to leave office,
also wants to use the congress to demonstrate to his counterparts that he
still has the support of his party.
But there are claims in the party that the president might want to
surprise the opposition and step down earlier than expected, thereby
bringing in a "dark horse" to stand in the polls in 2008.
The party this week announced in its mouthpiece, The Voice, that it
was calling a special congress to endorse the candidacy of Mugabe as party
leader and sole candidate for next year's presidential election.
A central committee meeting has been called today to set out the
agenda for the special congress and to also deal with ructions that have
been created by the succession battle.
A special congress is usually called to elect a new party leadership
or to fill vacancies in the central committee. The last special congress of
Zanu PF was held in 2000.
A special congress being held at a time when there are no vacancies in
the leadership opens up opportunities for vacancies to be created, party
The sources said there was a huge push to replace the two
vice-presidents which would then set out a clear map for the succession in
the event that Mugabe does not bail out at the congress but instead goes, as
is now widely believed, after the 2008 poll.
Vice-President Joseph Msika is set to retire at the congress due to
age and infirmity, which creates a vacancy in the vice-presidency. The
provinces will then be asked to nominate candidates to fill Msika's vacancy.
But this holds dangers for Mujuru who is no longer Mugabe's favourite.
"They will use this opportunity to table Oppah Muchinguri's name for
vice-president," the sources say.
Muchinguri is currently Minister for Women's Affairs, Gender and
Community Development. Party sources said an influential group was pushing
home the repeal of the 2004 amendment provisions in the party's constitution
which guarantees a vice-president's post to a woman. This way they have a
chance of landing the post as Mujuru's sun sinks.
Mugabe made excoriating remarks about the Mujuru faction in his
birthday broadcast in February.
The sources said party legal secretary Emmerson Mnangagwa was in the
running to take over from Msika. But there is also strong lobbying from
political leaders from Matabeleland led by speaker of parliament and Zanu PF
national chairman John Nkomo. Even if Mugabe is endorsed as next year's
candidate, the special congress will likely tie him down to a succession
plan. The party should leave congress with a clear idea of the post-Mugabe
The sources said there was a process afoot to silence the faction
aligned to Vice-President Mujuru. The sources yesterday said a group in the
party - using secretary for the commissariat Elliot Manyika - had been
pushing the agenda for Mugabe to continue as president.
The group is pushing for the replacement of Mujuru by Women's League
chair Muchinguri who has openly supported Mugabe's candidacy whereas the
Mujurus were seen as trying to block it.
At the Zanu PF conference in Goromonzi last December, Muchinguri
caused consternation among Zanu PF leaders when she declared: "Women are
saying you (Mugabe) remain in power, that's the only way we can be
guaranteed (victory in the presidential election) because there are too many
people who want your position. We are happy you said there are no
The sources said the plan now was to ensure that provinces are
re-organised in such a way that they are in a position to propose Muchinguri
for the position of vice-president at the congress.
This process has already started to cause tremors in the party as
evidenced by the violence and chaos that obtained in Masvingo at the weekend
when the party chose a new provincial leadership.
The faction supposedly aligned to Mujuru lost the provincial polls.
Elections in Bulawayo failed to take place as supporters aligned to the
Mnangagwa faction were locked out despite insistence by Manyika that they be
The re-organisation of provinces is likely to intensify in the run-up
to the congress which should be held before November.
Provinces aligned to the anti-Mujuru plan, especially Manicaland, will
not be touched as Muchinguri holds sway in the eastern region of the
The aspiring candidates for the presidency have continued to keep
their options open. They need to have as many candidates as possible for the
House of Assembly in their respective camps to campaign for them in
presidential polls if Mugabe decides not to stand.
They also need bodies behind them is parliament if the House is asked
to choose a president.
The sources said there was an odd chance that Mugabe might anoint a
successor from outside the current crop of leaders. The name of central bank
governor Gideon Gono has been touted for this plan. He has said he does not
harbour presidential ambitions. But such a candidate has to build a support
base and convince the feuding factions to campaign for him in the polls next
year. - Staff Writers.
THE Minister of Finance, Samuel Mumbengegwi, is threatening to fire
the board and senior management of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra)
for refusing to implement government directives.
The directives, contained in the minister's letter to the authority's
board last month, were meant to restructure Zimra and virtually render it a
department in the Finance ministry which it was before transformation.
Zimra's board of directors and senior management have been resisting
the move, saying the directive is defective forcing Mumbengegwi to wield the
axe. The minister's letter directed the authority to implement government's
new policy compelling vehicle importers to pay duty and tax in foreign
Mumbengegwi also instructed the board to restructure Zimra so that it
becomes a government department. This, the minister said, would allow his
ministry to control the operations and finances of the authority.
The board is understood to have initially refused to charge duty in
foreign currency after legal advice that the move was illegal.
The board told the minister that such a policy would not stand a
chance in the courts if the authority were to be sued.
On the directive to restructure the authority, the board told the
minister his directive was defective insisting that he had no authority to
make such a decision.
The board told Mumbengegwi that such a directive would have to come
from parliament which approved the transformation of the authority in the
first place. This has angered Mumbengegwi who, sources say, is now
threatening to dissolve the board and fire commissioner-general Gershem Pasi
and his deputies.
The minister is also unhappy with the salary structure at Zimra. Zimra
officials are paid far more than government officers.
The sources said Pasi's tenure at the helm of Zimra has been fraught
with allegations which have not been proven.
"The files containing these allegations are now being dug up and
dusted off by the minister for incriminating evidence to fire Pasi," a
source said. "The plot is thickening; Pasi and his deputies could be pushed
The source said the board will also be punished for refusing to
implement the minister's directive and resisting his attempts to fire Pasi
and his team. The Zimbabwe Independent understands the minister will not
renew the board's term when it expires in July.
"That way the minister will then take total control of Zimra as is the
case at the Grain Marketing Board," the source said.
Mumbengegwi could not be reached for a comment as he was not answering
his mobile phone.
The proposed charges have a negative bearing on Zimra's revenue
THREE Bulawayo-based Criminal Investigation Department officers are
under probe for their alleged torture of a Zimbabwean suspect based in South
Africa, whom they lowered into a sewer pond among other acts to force him to
admit to having stolen R160 000 from a neighbour in Johannesburg.
The suspect, Vincent Masuku (33), was acquitted of theft by conversion
charges by Bulawayo magistrate Cephas Sibanda last year. Masuku is now
fighting for the prosecution of the detectives and the return of R8 000
which police confiscated while investigating his case.
The three detectives - identified as Detective Constables Nare,
Mabhena and Ndebele in court papers - are also being investigated for
unprocedurally disposing of the R8 000 which they had confiscated from
The three police officers are alleging that they were advised by a
public prosecutor to hand over the money to the complainant, Siphetheni
Ncube, before the matter was finalised by the courts.
Ncube filed a report at Bulawayo Central police station in September
2005 (CR 985/9/ 05) upon his return to Bulawayo on vacation alleging that
Masuku had converted to his personal use R160 000 he had asked him to keep
for him in Johannesburg.
Ncube never reported the matter to the police in South Africa until
the two were on holiday in Bulawayo, leading to the arrest and subsequent
prosecution of Masuku who was however acquitted on November 11 last year.
According to court records, Masuku revealed to the court during his
initial remand hearing that he was severely assaulted by the three
detectives during investigations to force him to admit having committed the
He sustained serious injuries all over the body including his head and
genitals. A medical certificate completed by Dr Zulu Mélange at Mpilo
Central Hospital on September 30 confirms that there is a possibility of
permanent disability on some parts of his body. According to a copy of a
letter from the public prosecutor's office addressed to the
Officer-in-Charge CID Residential, requesting police to carry out
investigations on complaints raised by Masuku, Detective Constables Nare,
Mabhena and three others are alleged to have tied Masuku's legs and hands
together, covered his head with a sack and poured water on him before
lowering him headlong into Khami sewerage pond.
The three also allegedly used clenched fists and boots to assault him
all over the body.
Reads the letter: "He says he is not seeing properly and his whole
body is itching. He has chest pains, and says his private parts were
pressed. Please investigate this and return results to PP." In his ruling
acquitting Masuku, Sibanda ordered the police to investigate the complaints
of assault by the detectives.
However, six months down the line, there has not been any progress on
the investigation and the docket is yet to be submitted to court amid
reports that the initial docket went missing.
A new docket was opened in February this year and is being handled by
one Assistant Inspector Mpofu at Bulawayo Central police station.
THE embattled Zimbabwe Mirror Newspapers Group, publishers of the
Daily Mirror and the Sunday Mirror, will remain closed owing to dire
financial constraints as the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)-owned
publication's liabilities now exceed its asset base, the Zimbabwe
Independent can reveal.
The revelation on the publisher's precarious financial position is
contained in a letter from the Mirror board chairman, Jonathan Kadzura, to
shareholders dated April 25, in which he asks shareholders to intervene by
way of recapitalisation of the group whose net liabilities have topped a
staggering $600 million.
"In pursuit of the need to keep the group operational, we commissioned
Ernst & Young Chartered Accountants on the 19th of February 2007 to, amongst
other things, carry out a valuation of the group and assess its
capitalisation requirements," reads the letter. "Ernst & Young submitted
their report on the 13th of April 2007, which indicated that the group is in
serious financial dire straits. The company's liabilities far exceed its
assets and the group is in a liquidation situation. Total liabilities as at
the 28th of February amounted to $991 804 956 against total assets of $379
137 771 giving a net liability amount of $612 667 186."
Kadzura said the chartered accountants had determined that the papers
were grossly undercapitalised and required equipment amounting to $3,8
billion plus working capital of over $500 million.
"In their assessment of the group's recapitalisation requirements,
Ernst & Young determined that the group requires equipment amounting to
$3,816 billion and working capital of $582 million which, together with
total liabilities of $992 million, gives rise to the total recapitalisation
requirement of $5,390 billion as at the 28th February 2007," he said. "Given
the hyperinflationary environment one would safely add another $1 billion to
date, a figure that continues to increase everyday."
Kadzura argued this as the basis for the Mirror shareholders
intervention in stopping the current "haemorrhage" by way of
recapitalisation of the Group. "We therefore call upon, you, as the Group's
shareholders, to urgently contribute, pro-rata to your shareholding, the
full amount of the recapitalisation as indicated above within 30 days of
Ibbo Mandaza, the legal owner of the two titles who also received a
copy of the shareholders letter, yesterday said Kadzura had no locus standi
in issuing the letter, as the papers had no shareholders other than their
rightful owners, the Southern African Printing and Publishing House,
controlled by Mandaza.
ZANU PF has rejected President Robert Mugabe's attempts to impose
provincial leaders widely believed to be sympathetic to his stay in power,
exposing the ruling party's widening rift over his succession.
The failure to strike a common understanding which characterised
provincial elections in Bulawayo and Masvingo last weekend mirrored the
vicious power struggle within Zanu PF over Mugabe's succession.
The developments show that Mugabe is gradually losing his grip as his
lieutenants fight it out for the top job.
The two factions eyeing Mugabe's post - retired army General Solomon
Mujuru's camp and that headed by Rural Housing minister Emmerson Mnangagwa -
are trying to establish strong provincial bases to leverage the ascent of
their candidates to the top once Mugabe leaves office.
Mugabe is understood to have offered to leave office after contesting
the presidential poll next year. Parliament is then expected to elect a
president, a provision that is likely to be provided for in the forthcoming
Constitutional Amendment (No 18), enabling parliament to act as an electoral
college in the event of the death or incapacity of an incumbent.
For the two factions, the one enjoying support from the majority of
members in the enlarged houses would ensure that its candidate wins the
election for president.
The feuding factions in Bulawayo - one led by Jabulani Sibanda,
believed to be backing Mnangagwa, and another linked to the Mujuru faction -
forced the party's national commissar Eliot Manyika to postpone elections at
Manyika walked out of the meeting when tempers flared after supporters
Party members at the provincial headquarters accused Manyika of
backing a group led by former Zanu PF provincial chairman Jabulani Sibanda
that was locked out of the elections venue.
Party members alleged that Manyika had held a meeting with Sibanda the
previous day and further accused him of backing Sibanda's group to take over
Manyika however denied that he met the deposed party leader and
threatened to take legal action against Mika Parira-Mpofu, a committee
member in the provincial executive, who made the allegation.
Politburo members in the region are said to have been incensed after
Manyika tried to bring party members who were locked outside the Zanu PF
provincial headquarters into the meeting.
Politburo members led by Dumiso Dabengwa openly protested the
decision, leading to Manyika storming out of the meeting.
Other politburo members who attended the meeting were Sikhanyiso
Ndlovu, Absolom Sikhosana, Eunice Sandi, Sithembiso Nyoni and Joshua
Politburo members from the region had earlier held a meeting where
they had advised Manyika not to entertain party members that were locked out
of the party headquarters but Manyika refused to budge and instead ordered
that elections would not be held on that day.
But politburo members insisted that elections should proceed. Manyika
was continuously heckled by the crowd that accused him of being partisan.
It also emerged that the group that was locked outside was the same
lot that travelled to the airport to welcome President Mugabe who was in the
city to officially open the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.
President Mugabe is said to have had a short conversation with Sibanda
when he arrived at the airport.
When contacted for comment, Sibanda said the Zanu PF leadership
including Manyika, was causing confusion in the province.
"It is not true that I had a meeting with Manyika," Sibanda said. "He
is actually causing confusion in the province. I have the support of the
people. Let Dabengwa contest against me at Barbourfields Stadium and not at
the party provincial headquarters because I have more supporters than that."
In Masvingo, pre-election skirmishes resulted in legislator Enita
Maziriri and former governor Josaya Hungwe being injured in a melee
involving Indigenisation minister Paul Mangwana's supporters.
Retired Major Alex Mudavanhu beat Mangwana for the provincial
chairmanship in the chaotic elections.
The new executive is said to be loyal to Mujuru. Mangwana, who was on
a "home coming" mission from Mashonaland West province, is said to be
backing Mnangagwa in Zanu PF's succession politics. Trouble for Maziriri and
Hungwe is said to have started after party youths loyal to Mudavanhu blocked
a bus that was ferrying Mangwana's supporters from Chivi district to the
voting centre in Masvingo.
The supporters threatened to set the bus on fire if the driver
insisted on ferrying Mangwana's supporters to the voting centre.
The disturbances soon degenerated into violent clashes with party
youths from rival camps throwing stones at each other resulting in scores of
The stone-throwing "battle" lasted close to an hour resulting in the
elections being delayed for several hours as party supporters failed to
agree on the modalities for the elections.
Manyika, the party's political commissar who was in charge of the
voting process, then called an emergency meeting with Zanu PF politburo
members Dzikamai Mavhaire and Vitalis Zvinavashe to defuse the tension.
The elections, which were due to start at 10am, only began at 6pm and
went on well after midnight. Mudavanhu polled 468 votes against Mangwana's
348 to clinch the party's top post in Masvingo.
Other members of Mudavanhu's executive committee who were elected last
Saturday are Retired Major Kudzai Mbudzi who was elected provincial party
spokesperson while Dr Paul Chimedza was elected secretary for health. Clever
Mumbengegwi was elected the province's deputy chairman.
Meanwhile, senior officials from the losing faction said they will be
filing an official complaint over the elections insisting that the polls
were seriously flawed and not free and fair.
"The elections were not free and fair," said a party official loyal to
the Mangwana camp.
"Our supporters were not allowed to vote and everything was chaotic.
We are going to launch an official complaint with the party's national
chairman, John Nkomo, to demand a re-run," said the official.
THE case in which former Information minister, Jonathan Moyo, is suing
Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo and politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa
resumes at the Bulawayo High Court on Tuesday with the defence expected to
give its evidence in chief.
The case kicked off late last year and was adjourned after days
allocated to the case were exhausted before the trial was concluded.
Dabengwa will give his evidence in chief before the two accused call
witnesses to support their defence.
Last week Moyo through his lawyer, Job Sibanda of Job Sibanda &
Associates, filed court papers with the Bulawayo High Court revising claims
against the two from $200 million he was originally suing for to $2 billion.
Moyo is suing Dabengwa and Nkomo for defamation over statements that
the two politicians alleged uttered against him soon after the contentious
Tsholotsho meeting at Dinyane school.
Moyo says the statements caused him "pain and suffering leading to his
dismissal from government".
The matter was heard before High Court Judge Justice Francis Bere but
the number of days allocated to the case were exhausted before the case was
Moyo in the case alleges that the defamatory statements were made at a
meeting the two politicians addressed in Tsholotsho soon after the Dinyane
"Take note that on the resumption of the above matter the plaintiff
shall apply to amend the amount of $200 million claimed by him and
substitute it with the sum of $2 billion," reads papers filed with the High
Cabinet ministers who include Patrick Chinamasa, Abednico Ncube,
Andrew Langa, Francis Nhema, Flora Bhuka, July Moyo and war veterans leader
Joseph Chinotimba have been lined to testify against Moyo in the case.
Nkomo and Dabengwa are expected to lead their evidence in chief before
the plaintiff's lawyer cross-examines them.
GOVERNMENT has no technical or financial capacity to extract diamonds
in Marange, necessitating the need for a foreign technical partner.
Presenting his monetary policy interim review statement in Bulawayo
last week, Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono said government should
reclassify diamonds as a national reserve asset, as is the case with gold.
Against Gono's call for foreign investors in the sector, the Zanu PF
politburo this week endorsed government's mining of diamonds through the
Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) despite a legal challenge to
the takeover of the claim.
The government took over the diamond claims from a British company,
Africa Consolidated Resources, last year. The company has since filed an
application in the courts contesting the takeover.
The ZMDC has started test mining for diamonds and is moving equipment
Gono last week however said government needed a competent technical
partner to mine diamonds.
"The continued unstructured turn of events in the diamond industry was
fast becoming an embarrassment to the country, given the clear need for
foreign currency to meet the wide ranging national requirements for
funding," said Gono in Bulawayo.
"It is for this reason that when the Reserve Bank makes clarion calls
for order to be established in the diamonds industry as a matter of urgency.
We do so with a deep desire not for the sake of wanting to be involved, but
a genuine concern that our national heritage is being plundered whilst as a
country we watch and most probably are not benefiting from such uncouth
"To this end, we urge the relevant authorities in government to adopt
a more workable formula in the diamond sector, including the floating of
transparent tenders for able investors to come in and partner with
government in the sector.
"In other regional and international countries where diamonds are
being mined, the governments there are in fruitful partnerships with
entities that have well-tested expertise in the diamond industry. This too
should be considered here in Zimbabwe," said Gono.
While commending the Ministry of Mines for facilitating the actual
mining in Marange, he called for this process to be fortified through
transparent mechanisms that ensure the achievement of fair value for the
He said given its foreign exchange management role, the central bank
would help put together relevant policies for the industry.
Since the discovery of diamonds in Marange, the exploitation has been
haphazard and this has resulted in uncontrolled leakages of the precious
mineral by ordinary citizens and top government officials.
The mining sector has been negatively affected by lack of clear
policies and a proper legislative framework to guide operations.
Recently, a top government official, William Nhara, was arrested at
Harare International Airport while trying to smuggle diamonds out of the
His case is pending before the courts.
WORKERS' Day events in Zimbabwe could be best described as a tale of
two gatherings, one backed by government which failed to appeal to workers
while the other faced government resistance but still attracted multitudes.
Tuesday's Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU)-organised
celebrations at Rufaro was poorly attended despite being afforded resources
to mobilise and bring people to the stadium.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) event at Gwanzura had the
numbers but no official endorsement.
At Rufaro, the major ZFTU affiliate was Chitungwiza municipal workers
who brought two refuse collection lorries and a tractor for displays. On the
terraces, hordes of workers wearing black T-shirts inscribed "Chitungwiza
Municipality" dominated the less than a thousand-strong crowd at the
Even the invitation of popular musicians such as Cephas Mashakada and
Hosiah Chipanga failed to lure the much-needed following. People however
flocked to the stadium later in the day for the Dynamos versus Black Rhinos
soccer match that was lined up as part of the entertainment.
Outside the stadium, a Chitungwiza municipal minibus could be seen
parked in a deserted car park.
Across town at Gwanzura, over 16 ZCTU affiliated workers unions made a
procession to the stadium displaying banners advocating the improvement of
workers' lives and conditions of service. However, they had difficulty
filling the stadium (see pic above) despite a good turnout.
Journalists made their first participation in the May Day
celebrations. The banners were then displayed around the stadium. Unions
representing workers from parastatals such as Zesa, the National Railways of
Zimbabwe and the public service joined the procession.
However, both gatherings were snubbed by government. Labour and Social
Welfare minister Nicholas Goche was among the special guests invited by the
two labour bodies to address workers but did not turn up.
Wellington Chibebe, ZCTU secretary-general said he was surprised the
minister had failed to turn up to address the workers on the deteriorating
"In our invitations, we do not discriminate as to whom we should
invite to such functions," Chibebe said. "These are functions meant for the
workers to meet those that are at the helm of their welfare. As such, we had
invited all political parties and their officials, including the minister
but he decided not to come for reasons best known to himself.
"We even invited those that butchered us, maimed some of our
colleagues, and all those that have been working to stop the struggle from
Goche also failed to show up at Rufaro stadium where the ZFTU expected
him to address workers. ZFTU vice-president, Joseph Chinotimba, said they
had sent an invitation to the minister's office but there had been no
"We did invite the minister but we did not get his response,"
Chinotimba said. "We are not sure whether the invitation was passed onto him
because we believe he is supposed to be here to update workers on government
plans on their plight."
ZCTU president, Lovemore Matombo, said the union would in the next
three months rally workers on the streets if employers and government failed
to increase wages in line with the poverty datum line (PDL). The PDL is
currently around $1,5 million per month.
"We want to make it clear today that should the employers fail to
increase our salaries in line with the Poverty Datum Line, we will once
again go onto the streets," Matombo said.
"This should be taken seriously because if the employers don't, then
they will be forced to close down because we are going to sit at home until
these issues are resolved."
Matombo said the ZCTU believed that Zimbabwe's problems could only be
solved through a change in the political leadership and the change in the
Zanu PF government's approach to the country's problems.
"We are convinced that for the country's fortunes to change, there is
no need for policies like the National Economic Development Priority
Programme (NEDPP) or the National Economic Recovery Programme (NERP) or any
other policies," Matombo said.
"Zimbabwe simply needs political reforms that will force a change in
its policies and ideological approach because failure to put these in place
will lead to a catastrophic situation. We are our own worst enemies and the
makers of our own problems. We need to find solutions to our own problems."
He also blasted employer organisations for pandering to the interests
of the ruling elite while neglecting the common man.
"Let me remind ZNCC, CZI, and Emcoz that Zimbabwe does not belong to
you and Zanu PF alone. There is urgent need to come together and find
solutions to our problems than continuously pander to the interests of the
At Rufaro, the ZFTU's Alfred Makwarimba concentrated on his
organisation's commitment to the push for a wholesale overhaul of
fundamental rights of the workers. He also said they would continue to press
for a minimum wage that is commensurate with the PDL.
In the run-up to the celebrations, police banned union-organised
gatherings in three towns as well as intimidated organisers in various parts
of the country. ZCTU information officer Kumbulani Ndlovu said police denied
clearance for parades in the towns of Marondera, Bindura and Norton,
effectively banning them. Under the current security laws, gatherings of any
sort require police clearance and recent defiance campaigns have been
ruthlessly dealt with by security forces. Last month, ZCTU called a two-day
stayaway to protest against economic mismanagement, acute shortages of food
and most basic goods and spiralling unemployment. But it attracted only
Last September ZCTU leaders were injured in police assaults as they
tried to hold a protest march that had been declared illegal by police. The
government claimed the labour activists were resisting arrest and police
used "reasonable force" to restrain them. But independent medical reports
said at least seven of the leaders suffered broken bones in assaults while
they were held in Matapi police cells.
GOVERNMENT, in a bid to tighten its grip on the operations of
non-governmental organisations (NGOs), has gazetted new regulations to
re-register all NGOs in the country.
The tough regulations gazetted last Friday - termed the "Code of
Procedures for the Registration of Non-Governmental Organisations in
Zimbabwe" - have sparked anger within the NGO community as technically the
organisations have been deregistered and will have to re-apply.
The gazetting of the new regulations followed a statement by
Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu two weeks ago that government was
deregistering all organisations. Under the new regulations, all
organisations will now have to seek registrations under a tighter legal
Under the regulations, the Registrar of Private Voluntary
Organisations "registers all private voluntary organisations to enable both
the supervision of the developmental impact of programmes under
implementation and the monitoring of organisations' corporate governance".
For international organisations wanting to register, they are now
required to sign a memorandum of understanding with government defining
their operational parameters. Geographic areas to be covered by the
originations should also be clearly stated in the MoU.
Principal officers of the NGO applying for registration are now
required to get Interpol clearance if they are foreigners and Zimbabwe
Republic Police clearance in the case of locals.
Fambai Ngirande, the spokesman for the National Association of
Non-Governmental Organisations, said it is highly likely that state agents
will be used to conduct the monitoring of NGOs.
"The new regulations say that the monitoring of organisations involves
field visits by social services officers to project areas, and the analysis
of submitted annual narrative reports and audited financial statements which
are a mandatory requirement in terms of the Act and it is likely that state
agents will be the ones used for the monitoring process," said Ngirande.
Nango said the recently gazetted regulations are attempts by the
government to instill fear in NGOs like they did just before the 2005
parliamentary elections with the NGO Bill.
"The pronouncements could also be interpreted in the context of the
2008 elections in which the government wants to reincarnate the paranoia
they instilled in civil society organisations in 2005 over the NGO Bill,"
"The monitoring of the pre-election conditions and civic awareness
raising programmes by civil society will be curtailed," he said.
According to Nango, the tough regulations will mean that democratic
space and citizens' participation in political and decision-making processes
will be further constricted and the watchdog function of civil society would
"At present civil society records and documents human rights
violations which are mainly perpetrated by the state security agents and
Zanu PF supporters," said Nango.
The regulations say NGOs are required to operate within the confines
of the provisions of the Act, and relevant policy guideline for particular
The registrar of NGOs, in consultation with the Private Voluntary
Organisations Board, may cancel the registration certificate and deregister
any organisation that fails to comply with its conditions of registration.
It has also been reported that some of the NGOs involved in food
distribution have suspended their operations while waiting for clarification
from government over their deregistering.
Last week the European Union, which is the biggest humanitarian
support donor to Zimbabwe, passed a resolution during a parliamentary
plenary session deploring the renewed declaration of intent by the Zimbabwe
government "to harass and close down NGOs it deems to be supporting
opposition and political change and sees this threat as a serious indication
of bad faith from the government in relation to finding a way forward for
TOURIST arrivals from China have remained subdued despite efforts by
government to market the country under the "Look East" policy, latest
figures from the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority (ZTA) Annual Report 2006 reveal.
Last year arrivals from China increased from 7 146 to 9 583. The
figure however also includes arrivals from Hong Kong. Arrivals from the rest
of Asia grew by a marginal 19% from 31 000 to 37 000.
Growth from the rest of the regions ranged between 47% and 217%, the
ZTA report said. South Africa registered the highest number of tourists with
1,5 million arrivals into Zimbabwe followed by Zambia with 146 000 and
Mozambique with 114 000 but most people from the region do not stay in
hotels or utilise tourist facilities but stay with friends and relatives.
There are now questions over the definition that ZTA uses to define a
tourist. Hotels have in the past complained that the ZTA figures for
arrivals, especially from neighbouring countries, do not necessarily reflect
the room occupancies. They say arrivals countries like Mozambique and Zambia
are for casual visitors who don't spend anything in the country. Even if
they do, they will use the parallel market where the foreign currency is not
accounted for in the formal market.
ZTA chief executive officer, Karikoga Kaseke said some of the arrivals
do not reflect in the tourism business and revenues because most of the
visitors from the region don't use the official foreign currency market.
"This is because some visitors don't use the formal market for their
foreign currency transactions. The report you have measures arrivals
according to the World Tourism Organisation methods," Kaseke said.
"According to the World Tourism Organisation a tourist is one who
visits a country and spends 12 hours and a night. The issue of us not being
able to account for the money they spend has to do with the exchange rate."
He said the bulk of the earnings in the sector continued to come from
the traditional market in the West.
Government is trying to create new allies and markets in the East
after it fell out with Western countries because of its political policies.
European countries and the United States have issued travel warnings on
Zimbabwe citing political violence. Kaseke admitted that the arrivals from
China had not been moving as "fast as government would have wanted".
Meanwhile, ZTA has started negotiations with several airlines for a
possible introduction of direct flights from China to Victoria Falls. Kaseke
told businessdigest tourist arrivals were expected to grow by 55% in 2007
and a direct flight from Asia was projected to inspire the rebound.
Major players have been arguing that the reported growth in arrivals
was not translating into business because their rooms remained empty.
"Given the market outlook in China if we do the right thing the
flights will be full within the first few weeks," he said. "The market is
definitely there if we carry out route development studies and promotions.
THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said Zimbabwe's official
annual inflation data have been substantially understated to the extent that
by February, when government said the annual rate had hit 1 730%, the actual
figure had, instead, surged closer to 3 000%.
In a working paper titled Lesson from high inflation episodes for
stalilising the economy in Zimbabwe released this week the IMF said Zimbabwe's
inflation is likely to be double the official figures because half the
products in the basket used to measure the Consumer Price Index (CPI) were
controlled by government. Controlled products include maize meal, milk,
bread, flour and cooking oil.
"It is worth mentioning that the official CPI in Zimbabwe is likely to
substantially understate inflation because about a third of the basket
reflects price controlled items and the consumption weights are outdated,"
the IMF said in a statement yesterday.
With the current year-on-year inflation at 2 200,2%, it means the
"realistic" inflation rate for March is above 4 000%.
"Many in the private sector believe that the true rate of annual
inflation was closer to 3 000% in February 2007," the IMF added. Last month
the fund revised its inflation projections for the yearend from 4 000% to 5
It said there were no indications that inflation will slow down any
time soon given the government excess printing of money and plunging value
of the Zimbabwean dollar.
"Monthly inflation rates in informal private indices - which are more
heavily weighted by food - have exceeded 50% for several months, to the
extent that the fall in real incomes has shifted the average consumption
basket towards food, transport, and other basic items that move in line with
the rapidly depreciating parallel market rate," the IMF said.
Last month, Finance minister, Samuel Mumbengegwi ordered the Central
Statistical Office (CSO) not to publish inflation figures for March, which
increased to 2 200%, fearing the release of the figures could trigger a
fresh round of price hikes that government fears could spark widespread
The IMF said Zimbabwe's real Gross Domestic Product is estimated to
have declined by about 30% since 1999 due to poor policies implemented by
These include the price distortions caused by price controls and
regulations particularly relating to the exchange rate, which is fixed by
the RBZ at a highly overvalued rate.
Investor confidence has collapsed as a result of the unpredictable
policies and lack of respect for property rights in the mining and
agriculture sectors, and the minimal external financing emanating from
government's poor relations with creditors and donors who President Mugabe
has told to back off.
In another paper (see Page 3A) the IMF blamed the galloping inflation
rate on RBZ's quasi-fiscal activities which it said were fuelling money
supply growth. - Staff Writer.
THE interim monetary policy statement presented last Thursday
triggered massive hikes in prices of basic commodities as manufacturers and
retailers took positions in response to the inflation figures, new exchange
rate and increased interest rates.
Although the market was aware that the March year-on-year inflation
figure was 2 200,2%, it took advantage of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono's
confirmation of the figure to increase their prices.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) this week said the inflation
figure was actually double the official numbers as government used prices of
controlled goods while the producers use the parallel market rates to
determine the prices.
Gono last week devalued the dollar by 98% from $250 to $15 000 to the
US dollar. He also raised accommodation rates from 600% and 700% for secured
and unsecured respectively. This forced to producers to raise prices to
reflect the cost of finance.
The major movers after the announcement of the monetary policy were
fresh milk, mealie meal, cooking oil, salt and beverages whose prices whose
prices have gone up by between 100% and 250%.
Fresh milk rose to $12 500 from between $3 200 last week. A 10 kg
mealie meal bag rose to $62 000 up from last week's $6 200. Cooking oil is
now beyond the reach of many consumers with two litres now costing above $75
000 from $55 000. Two litres of Mazoe drink now cost above $48 000 from $35
000. Wages and salaries have however remained stagnant as employers continue
to resist any further increases arguing that it will put them out of
Analysts in February warned of daily increases of basic commodities as
current policies can not sustain the stabilisation and sustenance of the
Retailers defended the increases, saying they were doing so to cushion
their businesses against increased production costs.
Gono said most of the problems being faced by the country including
increases in prices were of "our own making".
"Three quarters of our problems today were of our own making as
Zimbabweans because of our insatiable appetite for everything external, from
economic and technical advice to wine, food, cigarettes, milk and bottled
imported water, among many other trinkets, which can not go on unchecked
through progressive introspection," Gono said last week.
The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) this week alleged speculative
tendencies by the business community, maintaining that such conduct was
likely to become common if government failed to establish the Prices and
"Certainly, we are worried by businesses that are only out to
profiteer in an environment where consumers' disposable incomes have
severely been eroded by steep inflation," the CCZ said.
CCZ warned that if the business community continued to hike prices
arbitrarily, the country was likely to plunge into anarchy. On what could be
done to protect the consumer CCZ said it had no statutory powers to bring
realistic pricing models into the market, as such there was no way they
could compel businesses to reduce their prices.
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's continued participation in quasi-fiscal
activities affected its ability to control money supply effectively and
detracted from its core mandate of maintaining currency stability, said the
International Monetary Fund (IMF).
The IMF poured cold water on the central bank's claims that it has
ceased quasi-fiscal activities in January this year. It said contrary to
claims by the central bank governor Gideon Gono, the bank continues to fuel
the economic crisis through covert quasi-fiscal activities (QFAs).
The working paper exposes the fallacy of the RBZ belief that
quasi-fiscal operations only means funding parastatals and local
authorities. It said the RBZ can be directly linked to quasi-fiscal losses
amounting to 75% of Zimbabwe's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) - a figure which
far in exceeds the global average of 10% for most central banks.
"QFAs have limited the RBZ's abilities to control money supply
effectively and distracted it from its responsibility to promote the
internal and external stability of the currency," the IMF states in a
working paper entitled Central Bank Quasi-fiscal Losses and High Inflation
in Zimbabwe: A Note.
The RBZ says it transferred all quasi-fiscal activities for
administration and winding down to Fiscorp, a wholly owned subsidiary of the
bank. But the IMF says RBZ's subsidised credit, mopping up of excess
liquidity, foreign exchange losses through subsidised exchange rates and
multiple exchange rates have helped fuel inflation rather than combat it.
For instance the country is suffering from the multiple exchange rates which
the bank introduced two years ago.
In 2004 the central bank said exporters were supposed to retain 25% of
their export earnings at the official rate of $824 while the auction rate
was $5 200 to the greenback. Last week Gono introduced a secondary exchange
rate of $15 000:US$1 for foreign currency holders and exporters but insisted
that all other transactions be done at the official rate of $250:US$1.
"Quasi-fiscal losses of this sort, rather than conventional monetary
supply or fiscal laxity have mainly been responsible for the surge in money
supply during 2005-2007," the IMF adds.
"From a macro-economic point of view, the losses of the central bank
are a problem if they endanger the control of the monetary targets. Because
losses either lead to an injection of money or entail future cash injections
if they are unrealised, they have either an immediate impact on domestic
liquidity or influence expectations about future monetary growth," the IMF
said. The government has refused to devalue the dollar. President Robert
Mugabe is against devaluation.
The fund said buying foreign exchange at higher prices, then selling
it to state enterprises, government and importers at lower rates was the
major driver of quasi-fiscal losses.
The IMF said the central bank was also sinking further into the red by
subsidising exporters, gold and tobacco producers through support prices and
a higher preferential exchange rate. Cheap funds doled out to agriculture at
20% interest also triggered massive money supply growth, said the working
paper. It added that impact of the agricultural finance and loans given to
state companies had a huge effect on inflation.
It said Treasury bills offered to the market in 2004 at 900% per annum
and the Open Market Operation (OMO) bills offered later have been costly to
the RBZ. The bills introduced to absorb excess bank liquidity had attracted
a net interest cost amounting to 40% of GDP.
"The central bank may postpone this expansionary monetary effect by
incurring debt (issuing central bank bills) but at the cost of future
interest payments. Debt issuance combined with valuation losses lead to a
deterioration in the central bank's financial position and in turn
contribute to future losses. Thus, eventually central bank losses contribute
to money creation and inflation," the IMF report adds.
The IMF also notes that the bank has been systematically hiding huge
losses through irregular accounting practices.
Delays in recapitalising the central bank have also resulted in its
capital constituting the smallest liability on its balance sheet. The
proportion of RBZ's capital base to its entire liabilities is 0% but the IMF
says this is only so because of failure to apply a recognised accounting
"Only the failure to apply a recognised accounting framework keeps the
RBZ capital and reserve from being negative."
The IMF also said the central bank was overstating its net annual
profits and capital by deliberately excluding realised exchange losses from
the profit and loss accounts, then accumulating them in separate asset
"In Zimbabwe QFAs have demanded financial resources in amounts that
exceed the central bank's capacity to collect seigniorage. They have, in
conjunction with high operating expenses, generated large losses."
Seigniorage is the revenue that a central bank collects from printing
money and is a determinant of the nominal monetary base, the current price
level and the nominal GDP.
It has been whittled down to about 0,1% of GDP in 2005, down from a
high of 6% of GDP in 2001.
BANKS this week started adjusting their lending in line with the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)'s monetary policy which hiked overnight
secured and unsecured lending to 600% and 700% respectively.
The cost of borrowing rose to between 550% and 630% for most banks,
while banking institutions which were yet to adjust their rates indicated
they were working on doing so in the coming week.
Barclays Bank increased its rate to 630% while Metropolitan rose to
650%. Kingdom and Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG) both adjusted their
lending rates to 600%. Officials at ZABG told businessdigest this week that
the bank would push its rates to between 630% and 650%.
Stanbic Bank is yet to review its rate as it is awaiting approval from
senior management. ZB Bank are at 550% but the penalty rate is hovering
between 600% and 700%.
Analysts say the rates are likely to continue firming as long as the
market remains short. The money market opened $66 billion short yesterday.
The analysts said there were indications that the central bank wanted to
keep the liquidity.
The new rates will hit the companies which are already reeling from
the high cost of borrowing. There are indications that the investors are
shifting to the money market where returns are now more attractive than the
stock exchange. For the banking community, it will be a trying period ahead,
according to Eric Bloch. "It is inevitable banks are feeling uncomfortable,"
"The short money market has forced banks to adjust their rates.
Because of the short money market and increasing reliance on the RBZ, banks
have been forced to adjust," ZABG economist, David Mupamhadzi said.
However, the rewards to be offered by the money market are likely to
be short-term with 7-14 day investments going at around 400.
By Chris Mhike
AS the world marked World Press Freedom Day yesterday, the Zimbabwean
media faced two major challenges: harsh press laws on the one hand and
incognisant politicians on the other. The two have a direct yet
Statutes such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act (Aippa), the Official Secrets Act, the Broadcasting Services Act and the
supreme law itself - the Constitution of Zimbabwe - make part of the list of
the harsh laws.
And all the previous Information and Publicity ministers make the list
of the unhelpful politicians. All the existing media or press laws were
enacted under the undoubted direction of the politicians.
While the print media has been badly decimated by laws such as Aippa,
through the closure of publications such as the Daily News and the Tribune,
one could well argue that the broadcast media is still worse off.
Two months ago, the press postulated that the television monopoly of
the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) was about to end. The basis of
the conjecture was the announcement by a pan-African satellite television
station, GTV, that the station intended to establish itself locally by
About two years ago, advertisements were screened on the sole
television station and in the press to the effect that a new television
station was "coming soon" under the name National Television (NTV).
This week, as the world marked World Press Freedom day, there was
nothing in the public domain to suggest that either NTV or GTV would become
a reality anytime soon. Certainly not by "mid-year" of 2007.
While local labour still grieves about the lack of workers' rights to
freely express their grievances, notably through strike action, the local
press still remembers the dearth of press freedom in Zimbabwe.
Unlike the situation in other African countries, and other progressive
jurisdictions outside the continent, local politicians remain obstinate in
their suppression of the press, particularly with regard to the broadcast
The existing media laws in force in the country, notably the
Constitution of Zimbabwe and Aippa, are not conducive to the existence of a
Indeed, many African countries have constitutions that specifically
provide for press freedom. For instance, the constitution of the Republic of
Namibia specifically enshrines press freedom, noting that all persons "shall
have the right to freedom of expression, which shall include freedom of the
press and other media".
The constitution of South Africa goes even further in broadening the
press freedom provision. It provides that "every person shall have the right
to freedom of speech and expression, which shall include freedom of the
press and other media, and the freedom of artistic creativity and scientific
Theatre productions such as the banned Super Patriot would therefore
not have been forbidden in Zimbabwe if the country had a constitutional
provision for press freedom similar to the South African one.
For the print media, the Malawian constitution appears to be the most
comprehensive as it stipulates that "the press shall have the right to
report and publish freely, within Malawi and abroad, and be accorded the
fullest possible facilities for access to public information".
Imagine, even Swaziland's constitution specifically provides for
freedom of the media.
In the Zimbabwean constitution, there is no specific mention of the
press. But the absence of a constitutional clause that expressly provides
for press freedom is not an excuse for the absence of a free press.
On the subject of the possibility of the establishment of GTV locally,
one politician, Information and Publicity minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu,
reportedly dreamt that "there is no policy shift here. Government has
already liberalised the broadcasting and telecommunications sectors."
If the minister and his colleagues in government were serious in
bringing about press freedom, the dream could mature into reality, even
without the enshrinement of press freedom in the constitution.
Constitutional reform in Zimbabwe might take very long. The ruling
Zanu PF has made it clear through many of its officials that constitutional
reform is not a priority on the party's agenda.
Yet press freedom and the freeing of the airwaves cannot wait.
Zimbabwean statistics in the area of broadcasting are embarrassing and
depressing, both for media practitioners and for the viewing and listening
Morocco, Tanzania, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana,
Nigeria and Mozambique, among other African nations, have more than five
broadcasting stations each. Zimbabwe has only one station.
Several African and non-African nations also permit communities to
establish their own broadcasting stations. In Namibia, for example,
community stations include the Christian station Channel 7, the Catholic
Radio Ecclesia, Katutura Community Radio, UNAM Radio, Rehoboth's Live FM and
Ohangwena's Eenhana Community Radio.
The lists of operational community broadcasting stations in other
counties such as Zambia, Uganda and Nigeria are even longer. Yet there is
not a single community radio of TV station on air in Zimbabwe.
The country is not short of persons who are capable of setting up more
broadcasting stations. Nor is it a matter of lack of investor interest in
the broadcasting field.
Joy TV, MABC and Capital Radio all folded due to fatal legal
obstacles - bad press laws.
Today there are numerous community radio initiatives that have lobbied
unsuccessfully for the past three or more years for the liberalisation of
the airwaves. Radio Dialogue in Bulawayo, for instance, could go on air
tomorrow if the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), with authority
from the Information minister, could wake up
from its slumber and issue broadcasting licences.
All that the BAZ has done since its formation under the Broadcasting
Services Act of 2001 is to buy space in the press towards February 21 to
congratulate President Robert Mugabe for getting older, in office.
There are numerous other community radio programmes in Mutare,
Masvingo, Bulawayo and Harare. With favourable media laws, the Community
Radio Harare initiative, and other initiatives, could well transform from
the lobby groups that they currently are into "live" broadcasting stations.
The liberalisation of the airwaves would be positive for Zimbabwean
society on many fronts. For dozens of journalism and media studies graduates
who leave universities and colleges each year within and without the
country, employment prospects would be enhanced.
Media workers would have a wider choice of employer organisations to
choose from. The economy would have a wider revenue generation base. Viewers
and listeners would have greater access to information through a wider menu
of broadcast media products.
While ZBC claims that it is the "station of first choice", there
really is no first or last choice for the poor folk. Choice connotes
preference for one or more over other options. So with only one station on
air, there can't be any choice to talk about.
It has become axiomatic that local viewers and listeners are not
content with ZTV or ZBC stations alone. The ubiquity of satellite dishes in
residential suburbs is testimony to local hunger for choice in relation to
One cannot imagine that the president, his two vices and members of
the cabinet and their families are as patriotic as to consume 100% "local
broadcasting content" in their homes.
Most of the citizens without satellite systems are in that situation
because they cannot afford Wiztech, Delsat, Fotec, DStv and other such
systems. Everyone, including the crafters of the 100% local content policy,
craves for the freedom to select media products from a wide range.
It is high time the reigning politicians realised that the freedom of
choice that they enjoy in their homes would not harm less powerful and
poorer citizens. The freedom has not hurt the politicians. It will not hurt
the povo. That freedom of choice lies in freeing the airwaves.
As this year's World Press Freedom Day drifts away, the message
remains that Zimbabwe's rulers should now change the laws and truly free the
airwaves, free the press. They should, indeed, not just on paper, free the
airwaves and free the press.
* Chris Mhike is a lawyer practising in Harare.
THE interim monetary policy statement presented last week might offer
relief to some sectors but will not change anything overall because it does
not address fundamental issues required to steer the economy back on track.
The policy, which was a crisis management tactic in itself as it came
three months before schedule, offered piecemeal measures for exporters, gold
and tobacco producers.
Central bank governor Gideon Gono devalued the dollar through the back
door to raise money for food imports under what he called the Drought
Mitigation Fund. The fund will allow holders and generators of foreign
currency to change their United States dollars at $15 000.
Even though Gono insisted that this was not a devaluation, economists
interpreted the move to mean that the value of the Zimbabwe dollar had been
knocked down by 98,3% and the market will use the new rate as the benchmark
in all foreign currency transactions.
Faced with imminent mine closures, Gono reviewed the gold support
price from $16 000 per gramme to $350 000. He said tobacco farmers who have
been holding on to their crop due to the pricing dispute will use the new
exchange rate and get a bonus of $40 000 for every bale that fetches a price
of US$1,50 per kilogramme.
However, beyond these few measures the rest of the monetary policy
statement was full of the old rhetoric that has failed to put the economy
back on track. It was a statement wavering between ambiguity and outright
emptiness, a crisis mitigation document that managed to address the
immediate problems in the gold, tobacco and export industries but lacked the
key ingredients required for economic recovery.
It says nothing about inflationary targets and leaves no indication on
how the bank will deal with the galloping inflation rate. It correctly
points out the main causes of foreign currency shortages but suggests no
means to increase inflows. Analysts say Gono's proposals on property rights,
reengagement of the international community and reduction of farm size
according to capabilities and financial resources will not happen unless
there is government commitment.
Apart from its failure to spell out how inflation can be curbed,
perhaps the biggest undoing of the monetary policy statement is its lack of
a clear and decisive plan on the exchange rate. Soon after the monetary
policy statement Gono told this paper that he had not devalued the dollar
but had "creatively tried to create exporter viability". He said all other
transactions will be done at the official rate of $250:US$1.
This will have a disastrous impact on the economy as a whole as it
will create massive distortions. The decision means that while the RBZ will
buy foreign currency at $15 000 from individuals and exporters it will be
forced to sell it at the official rate of $250. This in economic terms means
the central bank will be making a loss of $14 720 for every US dollar it
This is the same practice of price distortions that has contributed
immensely to the demise of this economy. The reason why the National Oil
Company of Zimbabwe is broke today is because it tried to boost its waning
popularity by importing fuel at high prices and selling it to the market at
a subsidised rate. Nobody was there to pick up the tab of the subsidy and
eventually the oil company sank into the red. It is still sinking.
The reason why the Grain Marketing Board is struggling is because for
one year it bought maize from producers at $52 000 per tonne and sold it to
millers at $600 per tonne. The grain company is still bleeding.
The same destructive policies are now being replicated at the central
bank but this time analysts say the result could be catastrophic,
particularly on the inflation front. The analysts say the move will
intensify inflationary pressures. Inflation is currently at 2 200,2%.
Gono does not say where he will get the money to balance the equation
but given the fact that the RBZ does not generate its own revenue to cover
that subsidy, it will have to print more money. The central bank is
therefore banking on its ability to print money to cover the deficit - a
move analysts say is highly inflationary.
"If they print money to fill that hole then it will have a severe
impact on inflation," economic commentator, Eric Bloch, said. "The problem
is that because of the scarcity only government and parastatals will get the
foreign currency at $250. This means that the central bank is subsidising
parastatals and government departments," Bloch said.
Strictly speaking this is a central bank undermining its main goal of
managing inflation. This also goes against professional advice given to the
central bank by the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank that
money printing should not be used to cover the bank's economic losses and to
fund government operations.
But that is not the only problem with the new exchange rate system.
The exchange rate review is too little and too late because the parallel
market that the central bank is trying to kill has since leapt to around $32
000: US$1. The $15 000 that Gono announced last week was actually the
parallel market rate in mid-March. There is still therefore no incentive for
people to bring their foreign currency into the official channel.
"The central bank should have devalued two months ago when the
parallel market was still within their reach. Now it is impossible to keep
up with the black market," Metropolitan Bank economist, Blessing Sakupwanya
said. "The gap between the new exchange rate and the black market is still
massive. I don't think people will opt for the official channel."
The other big problem is that Gono is dealing with a moving target on
the exchange rate. The move to devalue the dollar to help exporters will
only help in the next two months but they will soon come back for more when
the value has been eroded by inflation.
The Zimbabwe dollar will continue to lose value to reverse the gains
that exporters would have accrued within the next few months. This will
force the central bank to devalue again.
Although Gono said he will review the exchange rate periodically,
experience shows that these promises are not always kept and even if he does
adhere to them he rarely delivers on time. Trends over the past three years
clearly show that unless inflation is reduced, devaluation is like an
addictive drug for exporters. There is no rate high enough for them.
This trend has developed as a result of government's refusal to let
the market determine the exchange rate.
The devaluation will also not address the supply side of foreign
currency because Zimbabwe is not exporting much. Tobacco, tourism and
horticulture in the 1990s delivered a steady flow of forex which could be
used to import necessities such as fuel and power. Now those sectors are on
the ropes and forex is worth more than gold.
Gono once appeared to have the answers to the nation's malaise. Now he
has been sidelined by the politicians and they appear intent on making
By Tinashe Chimedza
THE government of Zimbabwe has published a 58-paged report titled
Opposition Forces in Zimbabwe: A Trail of Violence. The report is available
on the Ministry of Home Affairs website.
It is a chillingly detailed report, with colourful pictures, and is
full of minute details from all over the country. Big Brother has been
furiously at work mounting constant surveillance of citizens.
The report is deliberately titled "opposition forces" and attempts to
build an arbitrary case claiming that the "Broad Alliance" civil society and
political formations are engaged in illegal activities. The introduction
easily betrays the objective of the report which is to prove the theory of
an all powerful "Western-funded and unconstitutional force" being mobilised
to "topple a legitimate government".
The report reveals a nervous state security apparatus which has been
wielded to deny people their rights. The report is deliberately crafted in
an attempt to de-legitimise the pro-democracy movement in Zimbabwe as a
"Western creation" which is a threat to the national interest and must
therefore be thwarted by any means necessary.
The report goes to lofty heights to make a causal link between the
pro-democracy movement and the violence that has occurred in Zimbabwe,
especially the bombings and what the report calls "criminal activities". The
pictures of western diplomats at the Rotten Row Magistrates' Courts are
generously and colourfully used to support the theory that these diplomats
are engaged in unconstitutional trickery to undermine the government.
The report goes to disproportionate lengths to argue that the presence
of Western diplomats at the courts shows that these diplomats are actively
engaged in some clandestine activity to support and aid the unconstitutional
removal of a legitimate government.
The report boldly concludes: "It remains a fact that the MDC-inclined
Save Zimbabwe Campaign also known as the Broad Alliance is a puppet grouping
of Western powers who have since stepped up their efforts to effect regime
change in Zimbabwe."
In an attempt to prove its theories, the report betrays a government
that has become paranoid. Such a government searches for enemies in every
corner and some are even created.
The judiciary is not spared either. The report concludes that "whilst
arrests are made, there appears to be no support from the judiciary who
continue to either release accused persons on either free or make them pay
very small bail, allowing them to go out and continue with their illegal
This is unsettling. An executive branch of government, the police in
this case, which attacks the judiciary, is a terrifying executive. It is an
executive which threatens the separation of powers and the checks and
balances that are supposed to exist within a constitutional government. The
report intends to pile pressure on the judiciary.
First there must be a presumption of innocence and secondly the
prosecution, especially in criminal cases like the ones raised in this
report, has to prove its case "beyond reasonable doubt". If the prosecution
fails to meet that standard, the courts have no other basis and cannot
create any other basis upon which to convict the accused. The courts are
obliged to set the accused free. These are simple but robust standards that
protect individual fundamental rights and freedoms declared in Chapter III
of the Zimbabwean constitution.
Furthermore, the courts of law are structurally and principally
organised in such ways that where the prosecution is not happy with the
decision of a lower court, they can appeal to higher courts. Often, in cases
where the accused people are set free, the prosecution does not appeal
because the prosecution is perfectly aware that such appeals will not be
entertained by the higher courts. The appeals will be dismissed as
It will be a monumental sham were the courts of law to hurriedly hear
cases, ignore these simple standards, convict the accused and sentence them.
The courts would become "kangaroo courts". It would be a most despicable
affront to the common law ever carried out by a government occurring on the
watch of the chief legal officer of the country, the Attorney-General.
Frankly, Big Brother has gone insane. The report reveals a massive
effort by the security apparatus to mount continuous surveillance on
citizens engaged in perfectly legal and constitutional exercise of their
rights and liberties.
The report reveals what cars they were driving, the colour, the plate
numbers of the cars and what time they arrived and left at each of the
places that were being monitored. This is intelligence gathering gone
The state is now so intrusive, almost omnipotent that one wonders
whether to sleep at all at night. The government security apparatus records
with amazing detail what was going on around the country, on an hour-by-hour
and day-by-day account. It will not be fanciful to conclude that with this
security apparatus, with this amazing capacity, nothing could have been
known about the bombings prior to their happening.
The report is weakened by what it does not reveal. The report does not
reveal how, with such a capacity, the government can fail to track and
apprehend, for prosecution, suspects that petrol-bombed MDC activists like
Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya.
The report does not reveal why the people who cowardly brutalised
Nelson Chamisa, while on national duty, have not been tracked down.
The report displays the pictures of police officers who were badly
burnt but does not show pictures of the charred remains of Talent Mabika and
Tichaona Chiminya as they were left to burn to death with the police less
than a hundred metres away.
What about Mathew Pfebve who was battered to death at Nyakatondo
Village in Mukumbura? What about Takundwa Chipunza killed after being
tortured in Chenjerai Hunzvi's surgery? What about Lameck Chemvura beaten,
tied and thrown out of a moving train? What of Batanai Hadzizi murdered in
cold blood at the University of Zimbabwe?
The state seems to have a short, selective and deliberately forgetful
memory. We do not.
The report does not reveal how it is possible that the people who
bombed the Daily News offices, its printing press and the offices of Voice
of the People radio have never been brought before the courts?
The report does not reveal why the people who brutalised Morgan
Tsvangirai, Lovemore Madhuku, Grace Kwinjeh and Sekai Holland have not been
The report does not tell us that the so-called "opposition forces"
obtained High Court orders to have their rallies which were shamefully
disregarded by the police.
The report does not reveal that people have been indiscriminately
arrested, that some have been aducted and not seen for days, that some have
had their limbs and skulls broken while in police custody and no one has
been charged or prosecuted. At the end of the report names of accused people
are paraded for the offences they allegedly committed.
Nothing in the report is said of arrested people being denied medical
attention only to secure it through High Court orders, of lawyers denied
access to their clients. Some like Harrison Nkomo, of Mtetwa & Associates
were assaulted inside Harare Central police station for seeking, rightfully
and legally, access to their clients.
The report also reveals that the police have been arresting people for
distributing flyers to meetings and charged them. Since when has it become a
criminal activity to advertise a meeting?
The report claims that Tsvangirai "was assaulted while not in police
custody" and as for the hapless Lovemore Madhuku, the report claims the
police used minimum force to arrest him, which just happened to result in a
few broken limbs. This report is a callous attempt to portray the victims as
There is something that encouraged me in that report. The report
clearly details like never before the demands that Zimbabweans are making
and how thousands of people have been attending meetings called by the
churches and various civil society and political formations in Zimbabwe. One
poster, the report details, boldly stated: "We demand jobs". With 80%
unemployment rate that would be a logical demand.
Another poster demanded "Pay the Police". Yet another one stated that
"We Demand a New Constitution". The one we have is a mutilated Lancaster
House relic and therefore this would be a perfectly logical demand.
But hats off to the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) activists; they had
one poster that said "Choose Love Over Hate, from WOZA with Love".
The report reveals that thousands have been attending meetings across
the country addressed by pro-democracy movement leaders about the state of
the economy, the breakdown in the rule of law, the need for a democratic
constitution and a free and fair election.
The report brings out into the national, regional and international
arena, through official means and communication, the demands that Zimbabwean
citizens have been making. Here in official government reports are the
legitimate demands that ordinary people have been making. This report
excellently documents what Zimbabweans have been demanding: a new
constitution, a better life, jobs, a better education system, and the
repealing of repressive legislation like Posa and Aippa.
This reports outlines in a fashion never before seen the demands of a
people held captive by a repressive government and the level of disaffection
and social protest against that repression. The report is classic in its
value of spreading what we Zimbabweans have been struggling for, a new and
democratic constitution, a better life, the protection of our liberties and
rights and a better managed economy.
It is perfectly natural and to be expected that the state be concerned
with violence and the breakdown of the rule of law. It is a constitutional
obligation that has to be fulfilled.
But we expect the state to uphold people's rights, not trample on
them. The government must ask itself why thousands of its citizens,
especially the young, are now seduced by what the report details as the
"regime change" agenda. Considering what the report reveals it might be a
perfectly natural thing to demand.
* Tinashe Chimedza writes from Australia. He can be contacted on
By Kaitira Kandjii
THE Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) will again this year
release its annual publication, So This Is Democracy?: State of the Media in
Southern Africa in commemoration of World Press Freedom Day yesterday. This
is the 13th consecutive year in which Misa has issued this publication which
records incidents of media freedom violations monitored by Misa in the
previous year. The current edition therefore details media freedom
violations in 2006.
Misa issued 144 alerts in 2006 about press freedom violations in 11
Sadc countries. The figure marked a decrease of 7,6% from the previous year
(155). This however is an increase of 7% over the 84 alerts issued in 1994,
when Misa first began monitoring press freedom violations in the
The countries monitored include Angola, Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi,
Mozambique, Namibia, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
In the regional overview Misa's regional specialist for Media Freedom
Monitoring, Zoé Titus, points out that the death of two journalists in
Angola, Augusto Sebastiao Domingos Pedro and Benicio Wedeinge, have left a
mark on the minds of Angolan journalists.
"Official investigations are slow and, while authorities are convinced
that these are random incidents unrelated to the work of the journalists,
the incidents have left an indelible mark on the psyche of Angolan
journalists," she says.
She spoke at length about the worldwide debate following the
publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed. Supporters of the
ban on the publication of the cartoons argued that the cartoons constituted
hate speech, missing the fundamental constitutional point that the media had
the right and duty to publish the cartoons, in order to inform the public as
to the nature of the debate then raging across the world over the cartoons,
A breakdown of the 144 alerts issued last year show that two
journalists were killed, 12 media practitioners were attacked or beaten, one
had his properties raided, 22 were detained, three were sentenced, 24 were
threatened, one was expelled, 24 incidences of censorship were reported, 30
cases of legal action were recorded (where journalists faced legal action or
where legislation was passed that affected the media), 17 victories were
recorded and a further eight incidents were reported that proved a violation
of freedom of expression that did not necessarily affect the media.
Misa witnessed an overall decrease in "conventional" media freedom
violations such as physical attacks, arrests and detentions and outright
attempts to censor media workers. However, a steady increase in criminal and
civil defamation suits has created an environment where self-preservation
through self-censorship has become common practice.
The majority of criminal defamation cases in the region are in Angola,
Lesotho, Malawi, Swaziland, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe is a prime example of the criminalisation of media,
reinforced by the promulgation of the Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act (Aippa) and the Public Order Security Act (Posa) in 2002. It
is a criminal offence to publish "false" information prejudicial to the
state, or false information adversely affecting the economic interests of
Zimbabwe or which undermines public confidence in a law enforcement agency,
the prison service or the defence forces of the country. Over 80 journalists
have been arrested and three newspapers have been closed down using Aippa
Civil defamation continues to be an effective way of curtailing the
role of the press as a public watchdog by economic attrition. In all
jurisdictions in Southern Africa, there is no ceiling on the amount that can
be demanded by the plaintiff. This makes civil defamation potentially more
damaging than criminal defamation as media institutions are often crippled
by the exorbitant legal costs that are often incurred in such matters. In
this respect the media in Botswana, Lesotho and Zambia especially face the
legal threat of disproportionately high awards given to civil defamation
litigants against publishers.
There was a significant increase in violations in South Africa,
largely due to a number of high profile court battles that captured the
attention of the region. The epic Jacob Zuma trial received unprecedented
media coverage and commentary, which did not go unnoticed by the presiding
Judge Willem van der Merwe, who chastised those who had breached the
sub-judice law, thus unleashing a barrage of defmation claims from Zuma.
In all, 2006 has been a year of hard knocks for the media in the Sadc
region. Whilst numerous victories were recorded with respect to legal
judgements, these came at great cost to media institutions and individuals.
May 3 was celebrated this year at a time when the media in Zimbabwe is
facing its darkest hour. The deepening crisis in that country requires a
level of solidarity by all journalists in the region for it has become
apparent that we cannot look to our governments for relief.
Journalists and free expression activists should therefore rally
behind one another especially where it concerns the unlawful arrest,
detention, assault and torture of colleagues as these actions not only go
beyond the hazards that come with the terrain of the profession, but also
blatantly violate the charters, conventions and declarations that protect
media freedom and freedom of expression.
* Kandjii is the regional director for Misa.
AS other democratic communities commemorated World Press Freedom Day
yesterday by reflecting on the progressive steps they have taken to entrench
media freedom and freedom of expression, Zimbabwe marks this day in the wake
of relentless attacks on the media and the citizens' right to free speech.
The widely condemned Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act (Aippa), the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) and the Broadcasting
Services Act (BSA), continue to be used with impunity to muzzle the media
and harass journalists.
The intimidation, harassment and unlawful arrests, detentions and
torture of journalists going about their professional duties continue
unabated. Photojournalists Tsvangirai Mukwazhi and Tendai Musiyazviriyo, a
freelance TV producer, were on March 11 detained for two nights together
with opposition leaders after police cordoned off Zimbabwe Grounds, venue of
a planned national day of prayer organised by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign.
Mukwazhi was severely assaulted while in police custody. Gift Phiri,
chief reporter of The Zimbabwean, met with a similar fate when he was
arrested at Sunningdale Shopping Centre in Harare on April 1 under Aippa on
allegations of practising journalism without accreditation. On January 31
Bill Saidi, the deputy editor of The Standard received a brown envelope
containing a bullet and a threatening message warning him to "watch out".
The perpetrators of these unlawful actions remain unaccounted for and
continue to freely roam the country posing serious threats to journalists
who are lawfully going about their duties to gather and disseminate
It is the Media Alliance of Zimbabwe's (MAZ) firm belief that full
citizens' participation in the governance and socio-economic and political
affairs of the country is not possible where newspapers are closed at the
slightest of excuses; where the public's fundamental right to freedom of
expression and information is criminalised and where journalists and other
media workers are harassed, arrested, detained and tortured with impunity.
As we mark this day, hundreds of journalists and media workers have
been thrown into the streets following the closure of The Daily News, Daily
News on Sunday, The Weekly Times and The Tribune under Aippa.
The list of unemployed journalists whose future remains uncertain
under the prevailing repressive media environment continues to grow with the
closure of The Daily Mirror and The Sunday Mirror, which faced viability
problems following the hostile takeover of the Zimbabwe Mirror Newspaper
Group by the Central Intelligence Organisation from its founding publisher
Indications are that the situation is not likely to improve anytime
soon ahead of the 2008 elections when viewed against the recent
pronouncements by the government and most notably by the State Security
Minister Didymus Mutasa and Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, the Minister of Information
Mutasa is on record saying he wishes the widely condemned Aippa and
Posa remains on the country's statutes forever. On the other hand, Ndlovu
has threatened to close "anti-government" non-governmental organisations
which the government accuses of masterminding a regime change agenda.
MAZ, however, remains unshaken in its resolve to rescue the journalism
profession from Aippa and Posa and promote media accountability.
It is in this vein that the alliance is pushing for the establishment
of an independent Media Council of Zimbabwe in compliance with the 1991
Windhoek Declaration and Banjul Declaration on the Principles of Freedom of
Expression in Africa which the government is signatory to.
We therefore call upon the government to honor and respect its pledges
to the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights and repeal Aippa,
Posa and BSA to facilitate the establishment of more alternative sources of
information. We also implore the government to urgently transform the
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation into a truly independent public
broadcaster as envisioned under the African Charter on Broadcasting and Sadc
Guidelines on the Conduct of Democratic Elections to secure a free
environment, more so ahead of the 2008 elections.
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists,
Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe,
Zimbabwe National Editors Forum.
RESERVE Bank governor Gideon Gono last Thursday said sanctions were
relentlessly haunting the livelihoods of the majority of Zimbabweans. He
called upon all Zimbabweans, "including regional and international friends,
to help us bring to the attention of the world community the devastating
effects declared and undeclared sanctions are having on the Zimbabwean
He referred to foreign exchange shortages and how difficult it was to
secure lines of credit. He even attributed the soaring inflation levels to
This is of course the official view. And it is entirely dishonest.
Zimbabwe cannot access lines of credit because it has done nothing to meet
the IMF's call for reforms that would stabilise the economy. Instead,
runaway state spending, farm invasions, and political violence persist. So
do threats to investors.
Why does Gono think Zimbabwe's international friends should come to
the government's rescue when the government itself is unwilling to put in
place measures that would curb inflation, inspire confidence and encourage
Why has Gono failed to bring down inflation in the four years he has
been at the helm?
Sanctions are the direct product of political coercion and violence.
What steps have been taken since 2002 to engage business and civil society
in a programme of national institutional reform? Why should business leaders
who are arbitrarily arrested for attempting to recover the costs of
production sit down with ministers who order their arrest in pursuit of a
populist and highly damaging programme of price controls?
To his credit, Gono has called for a halt to such arrests and the
Reserve Bank has said price controls should go. But is the government
Why does he continue to occupy office when he is ignored?
Gono should be pointing out how incontinent state expenditure is at
the root of inflation. He should not be lending himself to a campaign of
dishonesty which will make no impact on the international community that is
only too aware of where the responsibility lies for fiscal deviance.
Gono should have the decency to admit that he has failed and to spell
out why he has failed. He cannot achieve monetary reform without fiscal
commitment from government. And there is no sign of that.
Further, what sort of impression does Gono think the savage assaults
on Morgan Tsvangirai, Grace Kwinjeh, Sekai Holland and Nelson Chamisa made
on the international community? What does the failure of the police to make
any arrests in the Chamisa case say about the rule of law in Zimbabwe?
Gono must stop deceiving himself and others. International partners
have made it clear there will be no lifting of sanctions until the state
stops its campaign of political violence and electoral manipulation.
President Mugabe's remarks threatening further "bashing" against the
opposition have done more damage to the country's image than any sanctions
could achieve. This is not a country that anyone can safely do business in.
And let's not succumb to the deceit, pumped out in the state media, that the
Chinese offer a panacea. The Chinese are not in the business of charity.
They are interested in the steady flow of minerals to fuel their burgeoning
economy. They are very happy to have Western investment and actively solicit
it. They don't scare it off.
Only Zimbabweans can rectify the structural faults that Gono blames on
sanctions. That means an end to state-sponsored violence, a stable economy,
and the national healing the governor referred to. But there can be no
healing where the government is bashing the opposition and where the state
media churns out a daily dose of hate and lies.
Who in all honesty can regard the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair as
a "resounding success"? We gather one foreign stand was exhibiting matches!
There were SME stalls where women were selling mitsvairo (grass brooms) and
clay pots - at an international trade fair!
We were interested, by the way, to read the remarks of Chinese
exhibitors at the Fair. They referred to the country's potential. Despite
the challenges the country was facing it still had great promise.
We agree fully. The country has great promise. But not under the
current regime which hasn't got a clue how to get itself out of the hole it
has been digging for the past 10 years. Do government newspaper
editorialists really believe things will get better under Mugabe? On what
grounds do they justify such foolishness?
As for Obert Mpofu, he can always be relied on to say something daft.
Everything was bigger and better, he improbably claimed. And next year
it would be even bigger and better still!
Regional and international exhibitors were able to gain a first-hand
appreciation of the prevailing situation in Zimbabwe, he said, "often
misrepresented by the foreign media".
Does the foreign media misrepresent inflation of 2 200%? Does it
misrepresent unemployment of 80%? Does it misrepresent a once thriving
economy brought to its knees by people like Mpofu?
Two weeks ago we commented on remarks made by Ayinde Hotep of Trinidad
in support of the Zanu PF regime.
Last week, calling himself Ayinde Trinicenter, he struck back.
"If the Zimbabwe Independent was against 'outsiders' commenting on
Zimbabwe, then they would have been outspoken against the interferences of
the US, Australia, other European governments and non-Zimbabwean
commentators who support the opposition," he declared.
"Clearly the newspaper is not against 'outsiders' supporting the
opposition, they are just against those who do not support their efforts to
demonise Mugabe for reclaiming land from white settlers and returning the
land to indigenous African Zimbabweans."
He doesn't quite get it, does he? Our objection is not to Caribbean
commentators posting at email@example.com in defence of land
redistribution, but to people who have no connection with this country
endorsing tyranny and criminal violence because support for Mugabe chimes
with their private war against George Bush and Tony Blair. The fate of
Zimbabwe's population for whom they claim to speak is in reality of no
interest to these web-based cheerleaders. Zimbabweans are pawns in a larger
This week we had Baffour Ankomah interviewing Mugabe for the New
African and failing to ask him a single challenging question. Mugabe
defended police violence against Tsvangirai and others on the specious
grounds that the police had been provoked. But Ankomah omitted to ask him
whether it was legal for police to assault people detained in police cells
just because they felt provoked? Isn't the Police Act of relevance here? And
what happened to the Service Charter?
Then there is the small matter of the African Commission on Human and
Peoples' Rights and the UN Charter on Human Rights. None of that was of any
interest to Ankomah because it would have got in the way of his solidarity
Mugabe offered to assist anybody in the diaspora who wanted to come
and see the situation for themselves. No doubt Ankomah will be pleased to
take up the offer of another freebie!
Muckraker was intrigued by a mail he received from the editor of an
Australia-based news agency recently. He suggests we should ask a police
chief and a number of ministers where their children are being educated
because he understands they are currently studying in Australia.
These are the kids of people who denounce Australia together with
Britain and the US at every opportunity. They are among the most fanatical
of Mugabe loyalists who fully support his depredations upon the opposition.
So if these super-patriots have any youngsters named Sylvester,
Tendai, Kudzai, Thelma, Taona, and Emmerson, please get ready to tell us why
you don't want your kids to be educated in Zimbabwe where we are enjoying a
wonderful economic turnaround.
Libya this week expressed solidarity with Zimbabwe in its quest for
economic independence, the Herald reported on Tuesday. Muammar Gaddafi's
special envoy reportedly said economic and political sanctions imposed on
Zimbabwe would not achieve the "desired results".
However, the envoy didn't say in what form Libya was "supporting"
Zimbabwe. Surely with its reported oil reserves Zimbabwe would not be in
such a bad shape if Libya's support went beyond lip-service.
To all intents and purposes, Libya literally abandoned Zimbabwe some
three years ago when it became clear that the country could not pay for fuel
supplies and that it was not in Libya's interest to be seen consorting with
a pariah state. Instead Gaddafi rushed to embrace George Bush and Tony Blair
as soon as he was offered an olive branch.
Instead of posturing about solidarity, if Libya is a true friend,
shouldn't Gaddafi be telling President Mugabe about how he ended the
Talk about doublespeak!
Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu got a rough ride at the Quill
Club two weeks ago. Accustomed to the more accommodating atmosphere of the
Bulawayo Press Club, he had difficulty getting away with the usual mantras
of ruling-party politicians. "Patriotic" journalists here were not going to
have the unelected spokesman of a delinquent regime define what their role
in society should be.
But reading the Herald report of the minister's remarks you would
never guess he was challenged on many of his claims. In particular he was
forced on the defensive regarding the award of scholarships to the children
of chefs, which he seemed to think was all above board.
"Why don't they come home and share the hell their parents have
spawned", was the sentiment of some hecklers. And his definition of
"revolutionary" regimes was given a good interrogation. American patriots
conducted a revolutionary war against Britain in 1776. Does that make the US
a revolutionary regime today? He didn't think so.
And Zanu PF never accepted a cent from the imperialists, we were told.
Apart from all those millions of pounds from Tiny Rowland of course!
But apart from some raucous revolutionary elements in the audience and
the minister's inclination towards rambling responses, the evening showed
that some democratic space in our troubled nation was still alive. The Quill
Club should be congratulated for cultivating dialogue with our oppressors.
It's a chance to tell them what we think of them!
Finally, congratulations to Dr Tafataona Mahoso on his appointment as
chairman of the Zimbabwe Open University Council. Our only question is how
the other appointees who include some distinguished names in education feel
in such illustrious academic company?
By Eric Bloch
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono took much of
Zimbabwe by surprise when he suddenly announced that he would be presenting
an unscheduled interim monetary policy statement well ahead of the
half-yearly statement due in July.
Another surprise was when he decided, contrary to all his previous
presentations, that this one would be given in Bulawayo in recognition of
the second city's key role in the economy.
Gono stated that there was now a necessity for the monetary policy
framework to be reassessed and modified "to best confront the demands
arising from the operating environment", in the light of "the collectivity
of economic developments since January 31 2007" (when he presented his
previous monetary policy statement).
I unreservedly commend him for the courageousness of much of his
statement, albeit that I am also very dismayed that he was blatantly yet
again severely constrained by a self-centred, misguided, economically
It was very apparent that Gono and his RBZ team have had to resort to
diverse monetary gymnastics in endeavours to rescue the beleaguered economy
from the devastation and destruction that government policies continue to
wreak upon the economy.
The extent of the governor's courage and boldness was apparent when,
in clear disregard for the government's probable negative or irate
reactions, he said: "We need as a country to enhance and implement hard
policy decisions without delay or hesitation in an environment that nurtures
and protects private property rights."
He reinforced that comment: "We need to build an environment that is
free of disruptive policy inconsistencies."
Gono urged that Zimbabwe must gravitate towards a market-related
economy (thereby implying a need for progressive economic deregulation).
He was clearly confrontational with governmental policies when he said
that the government "needs to speed up issuing of the transferable 99-year
leases to bring stability in the (agricultural) sector", which flies in the
face of the government's rigid opposition to lease transferability.
Moreover, he said: "The issue of appropriate farm sizes also needs to
be addressed if productivity . . . is to be enhanced."
He stated further that "the matter of Bilateral Investment Protection
Agreements remains an important unfinished business that needs the
government's attention", and he vigorously urged governmental efforts to
strengthen international relations, stating with some pointedness that "some
blunt the goodness of engagement by adopting the strategy of needless
bravado, and paying a blind eye to the realities . . ."
All these elements of his statement can be classified as "the good",
as also some of the monetary policies announced, including:
* raising the support price of tobacco to a top-up to $40 000 per kg,
thereby restoring viability to tobacco growers;
* upward movement of interest rates, in recognition of the need for
inflation-related "real" rates, notwithstanding an unavoidable resultant
adverse impact upon borrowers;
* lowering of statutory reserves of building societies, so as to boost
high-density housing development;
* raising the gold support price from $16 000 to $350 000 per gramme
(although no support price would be necessary if producers were paid the
world gold price, as applies everywhere else in the world;
* increases in cash withdrawal limits to $1,5 million per day by
individuals and $3 million per day by corporates; and
* the creation of the Drought Mitigation and Economic Stabilisation
Fund (DMESF), blatantly a partial, constructive diminution of the appalling
consequences of the government's obdurate resistance to devaluation.
Effectively, the DMESF accords holders of foreign exchange the opportunity
of currency conversion at $15 000:US$l.
However, the statement also included some that must credibly be
described as "bad", including:
* the DMESF "is only applicable to foreign exchange bought for
transmission to the RBZ" and "all the other transactions will continue to be
effected at the official exchange rate of $250:US$l". This was unavoidable
pandering to the government's dogmatic determination not to devalue, no
matter how obviously necessary devaluation is (obvious to all but those who
myopically refuse to recognise facts, and shield behind misguided ideologies
In terms of Section 47 of the Reserve Bank Act, the RBZ does not have
the authority to adjust exchange rates, notwithstanding that virtually every
bank in the world is vested with that authority! In Zimbabwe, exchange
rate determination is the unqualified preserve of the government, even
though it should not be;
* statutory reserves of commercial and merchant banks and discount
houses are raised by five percentage points, to levels ranging from 35% to
But the positively ugly element of the statement was the increase in
the mandatory surrender of foreign exchange earnings of miners,
manufactures, farmers, transporters, tourism operators and service providers
from 32,5% to 40%.
While this may be sustainable by the few whose products or services
have little import content, and whose operations are not highly mechanised
(and, therefore, creating a continuous need for spares, upgrades,
refurbishment and replacement, all entailing foreign exchange payments), for
most this measure is disastrous. They cannot survive on only 60% of their
foreign exchange earnings, and as heretofore, cannot expect to access their
needs within the interbank market.
Apart from endangering the future operations of such enterprises, this
measure will inevitably intensify demands upon the alternative "parallel"
and "black" markets, resulting in massive exchange rate movements, which
will contribute to yet further hyperinflation.
By Vincent Kahiya
JUDGE President Paddington Garwe four years ago upheld a ministerial
certificate issued by State Security minister Nicholas Goche barring defence
lawyers in the treason trial of three top opposition leaders from
questioning CIO chief Happyton Bonyongwe on transactions between the
intelligence agency and a company headed by star state witness Ari
Garwe, who has since been elevated to the Supreme Court bench, ruled
that the information requested by defence lawyers "related to state security
issues" and that there was no need for the court to "go behind" Goche's
certificate to determine the validity of the minister's claim of privilege.
He said even in cases where accused persons were facing serious charges,
"the courts have to remain alive to the fact that there are matters that no
government would like to reveal in an open court. The clandestine activities
of security organisations of various countries are not matters for public
disclosure in an open court."
In his certificate Goche had averred that: "The disclosure being
sought has the potential of grievously undermining and compromising the very
existence of the (State Security) Department. The requested disclosure
would, even if done in camera, seriously prejudice the state's national
George Bizos who represented the MDC leaders protested in vain at the
issuing of the ministerial certificate, accusing Goche of abusing the court
process. He said the minister's action impinged on the accused person's
right to a fair trial as enshrined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
This sideshow in the court drama during the trial of MDC leader Morgan
Tsvangirai and then secretary-general Welshman Ncube and legislator Renson
Gasela, went largely unnoticed as the press focused on the evidence of the
comical Ben-Menashe. Goche's intervention at the time was meant to "protect"
state security, which will always remain a contentious issue in court
But this week Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi showed us that a
ministerial certificate can be used as a political tool to subvert the court
processes and nullify civil liberties. Mohadi's certificate urged the
magistrates' courts not to grant bail to MDC supporters accused of bombing
Mohadi's certificate, which has been contested by defence lawyers
stated that the minister was satisfied that the 13 accused persons had a
case to answer and that they had undergone military training in South
Africa. He said police were still carrying out investigations across the
There is a declaratory tone in this certificate. "The accused persons
have also been directly involved in the petrol bombing that rocked the
country between March and April 2007," he said.
Here is a minister - an arm of the executive - and also responsible
for the police, pronouncing a ruling on political opponents. Is it not the
job of the courts to determine this? I see the minister setting the stage
for confrontation with the courts in the event that his certificate is
The minister has already demonstrated his dislike of court decisions
against the police. Last year current Judge President Rita Makarau ordered
the release from remand prison of suspects who had been detained for long
periods without trial. Mohadi accused the judiciary of abetting criminal
activities by freeing dangerous felons.
The ministerial certificate is however emblematic of the government's
thrust that human rights can be subverted as long as the Zanu PF government
thinks that it is right to do so. The Ministry of Home Affairs' long - and
wholly disingenuous - presentation on political violence published on its
website this week pushes home a state-of-emergency agenda, hence the
issuance of the certificate.
The minister should be advised that our constitution, notwithstanding
its defects, still carries a Declaration of Rights which provides that "no
person shall be deprived of his personal liberty". The Constitution
therefore provides a degree of valuable and fundamental protection to
citizens which our government has at every opportunity tried to dilute using
spurious excuses of fighting terror.
The provision is however qualified in the Constitution which states
that the law may condone deprivation of liberty to a person "upon reasonable
suspicion of his having committed, or being about to commit a criminal
offence". But each case should be treated on its merits by a competent court
and not on the basis of political expediency. That presumption should be
applied to any accused person, including political opponents of the Zanu PF
But when it suits them, our rulers would happily want to assume the
roles of both prosecutor and judge. Former High Court judge Michael
Gillespie in 2001 castigated this intimidation of the judiciary. "I cannot
sit as an effective and independent member of this Bench," he said. "The
executive has contrived to politicise the Bench. A judge . . . who finds
himself in the position where he is called upon to administer the law only
as against political opponents of the government and not against government
supporters, faces the challenge to his conscience."
Let's hope the judiciary continue to understand their role in defence
of our liberties.
THE clock is ticking on Zimbabwe's election schedule and if President
Thabo Mbeki's mediation bid is to have any purchase it must be soon.
President Mugabe is already in election mode as he attempts to
engineer his own candidacy through the restive ruling-party's structures
including a new hurdle - a special congress to endorse him.
This follows unprecedented opposition to his attempt at Goromonzi in
December to extend his current term to 2010. When that failed to pass
muster, he sought to punish his critics by standing for another full term
beginning next March. But it now looks as if the 18th constitutional
amendment has been tailored to provide a dignified exit for the incumbent
who will then be 84.
It must be evident to even the most obtuse of Zanu PF loyalists that
Mugabe no longer has any solutions to the country's multi-faceted crisis.
Pretending all our woes can be put down to sanctions is not a viable policy
platform for the long-term.
What we see in statements coming out of government now is the way they
are pinning all their hopes on solutions such as the social contract or the
dialogue being peddled by regime-friendly churches.
It needs to be said that none of these are going to do the trick.
Obviously neither the opposition nor the trade unions can be expected to sit
at the same table as people who are intent upon doing them harm. The
state-sponsored violence that Zanu PF thinks is going to teach the MDC a
lesson will teach them only that the ruling party has failed to win friends
and influence people the legitimate political way.
Mbeki has been exchanging notes with all parties. He has been in
contact with Zanu PF and the two secretary-generals of the MDC. And he has
thought aloud about a likely agenda emanating from the preliminary
exchanges. This will from the MDC side, he suggests, entail electoral and
institutional reform and an outcome all can endorse. Their proposals will be
put to the other side for a response.
Zanu PF can't say publicly that it rejects his mediation but it is
obviously very uncomfortable with it. How can they sit down to talk with
what they see as agents of imperialism? Zanu PF spokesmen have already said
the MDC must seek the lifting of sanctions before talks can get underway.
In fact the MDC has no power to repeal sanctions which were enacted by
the US and EU, among others, in response to electoral cheating and political
violence. Those problems remain. The army is active in the electoral
process, the Independent Electoral Commission is stuffed with Mugabe
loyalists, kidnappings and abductions are routine events, and the police
appear unable to act independently or professionally.
Not a single arrest arising from an abduction or even murder has been
Then we have the Congolese ambassador, whose country has staged only
one election since independence in 1960, telling us sanctions are hurting
the country's "socio-economic wellbeing".
The country's socio-economic wellbeing is clearly being sabotaged by
those who will do anything to stay in power. And "outside interference" is
okay when it emanates from the Congo!
The MDC and its allies need in this situation to think outside the
box. Incessant calls for constitutional reform are all very well but time is
marching on. A full-scale Codesa process would be ideal but is simply not
tenable given the time-scale. What the opposition and civil society need to
do is work to an immediate agenda.
There is a compelling need to prevent further state-sponsored
political crimes by ensuring that all cases are fully documented and the
police challenged on a weekly basis to say why they are doing nothing. Sadc
leaders need to be fully informed of each and every case so they can't deny
knowledge of such events.
The electoral process needs to be cleaned up so that opportunities for
manipulation are minimised. This means making the voters roll open to all
and removing army and CIO officers - as well as Tobaiwa Mudede - from the
No election can be considered free and fair where voters are unable to
make an informed choice. With publications banned and the state broadcaster
acting as a cheerleader for the incumbent that choice is out of reach for
Rallies and meetings are fundamental liberties for all parties and no
election can proceed without them. We also need to ensure international
observers are in place weeks before the election. We can't have a situation
where insufficient polling stations are attributed to an "administrative
oversight" as the head of the South African observer mission tried to get
past us in 2002!
Notwithstanding this, unless the opposition and civil society set out
their positions soon we could be forgiven for thinking they are incapable of
articulating basic concerns. It's time for them to resolve their
differences, find their collective voice and let the public know where they
stand. That's what politics is all about!
By Joram Nyathi
"AH, personally I'm thinking that it would have a negative effect. The
man would become even more stubborn to ex-communicate him. So, I'm extremely
sceptical whether it would be effective.You see, sometimes the Church is
very careful not to use its spiritual status as a weapon; as a pressure
weapon; especially where someone might react even more stubbornly, causing
even more suffering on the local people and become perhaps even more violent
than he already is."
Readers would be forgiven for thinking that they were reading
President Thabo Mbeki's defence of his "quiet diplomacy" in his approach to
the Zimbabwean political crisis. It was in fact Archbishop Pius Ncube.
In keeping with the radical approach which is now the fashionable
gospel when talking about President Mugabe, Violet Gonda of SW Radio's Hot
Seat, asked Ncube if the Catholic Church would consider "ex-communicating"
Mugabe since he is a Catholic. It is probably a question Ncube had never
thought about as a starting point in the radicalisation of the Catholic
Church into liberation theology in Zimbabwe.
I found his answer most interesting in its substantive defence of
Mbeki's so-called quiet diplomacy.
A question which Mbeki has often asked those who attack his approach
is whether they expect South Africa to send its soldiers across the border.
He has never been fully answered. One of the MDC leaders was asked the same
question recently while in South Africa. There was no straight response. He
said South Africa knew what it was supposed to do.
I don't know what South Africa or Mbeki is supposed to do in practical
terms if the opposition in Zimbabwe doesn't know. But I found in Archbishop
Ncube's response one of the most eloquent defences of quiet diplomacy. To me
the philosophy is simple: Unless we have the option of force, we cannot
close the door to dialogue.
Those who have advocated gunboat diplomacy have been told to "go hang"
and have in the process lost the leverage to influence events locally.
Mbeki, like Ncube, is too close to the crisis to take that risk. The
difference between the two is that Mugabe doesn't care politically about
what Ncube says. What I find particularly telling on the other hand is
Archbishop Ncube's fear of the implications of ex-communicating Mugabe.
It is a fear which has haunted Mbeki and informed his approach to the
Zimbabwean crisis. I doubt that such fear has anything to do with his
support for Mugabe personally or for Zanu PF in particular, or fear that the
ANC might in turn become a victim of Cosatu in South Africa. These to me are
peripheral compared to his fear of being told to "go hang" and being unable
to respond in practical ways that end the crisis. It is being told to "keep
your South Africa and I keep my Zimbabwe".
That would then put the solution to Zimbabwe's crisis beyond South
Africa's influence although it is the country bearing the brunt of the
economic collapse. It is a painful dilemma which Mbeki's critics either don't
realise or choose to ignore because they are focused on personal short-term
First, Mbeki is aware that he is dealing with a "stubborn" autocrat as
Ncube points out. Mugabe is not swayed by international opinion or isolation
as events of the past few years have demonstrated. He is not averse to
taking drastic action against local opponents, including arbitrary arrests,
beatings, detention and torture. What then stops him from telling Mbeki to
shut up if he becomes too inconvenient and, as Archbishop Ncube fears,
"reacting even more stubbornly, causing even more suffering on the local
people and become perhaps even more violent than he already is"?
Second, military force is not an easy option for anybody, not even
Tony Blair or George Bush or the African Union. It is unprecedented. Mugabe
is not leading a settler "minority" regime in the conventional sense. It
might be a minority only in political terms according to those who believe
the past presidential and parliamentary elections were stolen. It is a hotly
contested position to rally the international community towards an Iraq
Third, Mugabe has played his anti-imperialist propaganda in a way
which the opposition has dismally failed to counter. That is why Mugabe has
eager listeners in the developing world and is winning converts in people
like Hugo Chavez. We might want to dismiss all this as propaganda, but it is
propaganda which dictators use to stay in power, to rally people, claiming
that the country is under siege.
Fourth, Mugabe has been able to subvert claims of human rights abuses
because they are being raised too late after they were accepted as a culture
in Zanu PF. Cleverly, Mugabe talks about bringing independence and freedom
to Zimbabwe and not human rights which strangely became only a major selling
point with the formation of the MDC and the seizure of white commercial
farms. The early history of Zimbabwe's independence when up to 20 000
civilians were massacred in Matabeleland and the Midlands didn't have human
rights. I am shocked that even local intellectuals who should know better
often pretend that Mugabe only became a murderer after 15 years in power.
Before 1995 he was everybody's darling.
Until Zimbabweans themselves begin to face reality we are bound to
keep stumbling on and engaging in sterile rhetoric about the way forward.
Whether Mbeki makes progress in his current efforts at dialogue will depend
largely on both Zanu PF and the MDC recognising their individual limitations
and putting the interests of the country first. Attacking Mugabe may be
fashionable, but it is not a solution to Zimbabwe's crisis.
No one wants to colonise us
MOST observers of the Zimbabwean disaster in the making are beyond
being bored to death by the rants of Zanu PF solidarity "comrades" and their
These "comrades" have nothing left for their propaganda distributors
to articulate other than to repeat extinct and lying claims that everyone
else but themselves are to blame for Zimbabwe's final meltdown.
We often hear about alleged "illegal sanctions". In whose eyes are the
travel restrictions against listed Zanu PF evil-doers illegal?
In desperation Zanu PF clowns claim that others want to "re-colonise"
Zimbabwe. What a joke!
Not even the Chinese would want to lay claim or inherit the enormous
debts, poverty, corruption and evil that Zanu PF has brought to the nation.
Notable now is that the Reserve Bank governor, perhaps out of eventually
exposed failure and despair has come out of his once disguising closet for
being an alleged "visionary and realist" to finally lift his flag and to
show himself as being a real Zanu PF comrade.
He hallucinates that the churches will persuade nations of the world
to lift "illegal" sanctions.
Gono, along with his comrades have yet to realise that local and
foreign investment is related to national stability and business confidence
as founded on proven and established civilised principles.
The meltdown will continue until all the crooks have run away when
their loot, troughs are empty and the International Criminal Court beckons
A sad loss
WITH utmost shock and sadness, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
learnt of the death of one of the illustrious sons of the labour movement,
Matongo, a veteran trade unionist and Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) national chairman started his trade union activism in the late 1980s
when he was elected the vice-president of the National Engineering Workers
Union in 1988.
He was elected as first vice president of the ZCTU at the 1990 ZCTU
He stepped down at the 2001 ZCTU congress to concentrate on his
political career. Matongo's death is not only a loss to his family, but also
a loss to the nation, the labour movement and those within the opposition
We express our deepest sympathy and pass our condolences to his wife,
children, grandchildren and the MDC on this sad loss.
May his soul rest in eternal peace.
MDC can only dream of winning polls
THE electoral system in Zimbabwe at the present moment is such that,
if we were to put it in the UK today, and Robert Mugabe is one of the
contestants, he would automatically win the polls, whether people there know
him or not. It is virtually useless for the opposition to dream of winning
the elections in Zimbabwe.
It is a situation whereby Mugabe, the one competing, chooses the way
the elections are to be done, chooses the observers and runs the whole
process including the counting of the ballots and determines who is to vote
and not to vote. In other words, everything is controlled by Zanu PF. In the
coming 2008 parliamentary and presidential elections, nothing can stop Zanu
PF from repeating what they have done before.
Perhaps a recap to what transpired in the past three elections from
2000 can serve as a reminder to everyone and especially the opposition.
The 2000 elections saw Zanu PF loosing half of the seats in parliament
and look at what happened in the presidential election in 2002. There was
increased brutality from the state agents. They were increased polling
stations in rural areas and a sharp reduction of them in towns so that very
few people in these areas could vote. I remember people in towns had to wait
in extremely long queues, which made it virtually impossible for everyone to
vote, and this frustrated the electorate. The addition of an extra day for
some areas did not help, even then many people failed to practise their
democratic right. Contrary to that, in rural areas, almost every school was
a polling station and there were added mobile poling stations. If you were
in the village, you could wake up any time and go to vote freely while in
towns some had to sleep in the lines.
When we came to the 2005 parliamentary elections we helplessly saw the
constituencies being doctored for the benefit of the ruling party. The
constituencies in towns were reduced, while in rural areas where there was
one constituency, they created more knowing that the ruling party has a
stronghold support in rural areas. In addition to that, many people with
Zimbabwean citizenship were told that they were not Zimbabweans.
Do you think such things are not going to happen this time? In towns,
it is a torrid time to be able to vote, what of proofs of residences they
demand. How many people own the houses in which they stay?
Now Sadc says that the elections are going to be held according to its
principles. This is to the great joy of Zanu PF. Sadc observers, chosen
directly by Mugabe have blessed all the past elections mentioned. Sadc as a
body cannot be trusted on this, they have bias and they are not objective.
By Mary Revesai
Last updated: 05/04/2007 08:29:17
IN THE Bible, St. Paul wisely advises those wishing to communicate with
their fellow men: "Except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be
understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? For ye shall speak into
The Apostle Paul may not have had any country in mind when he offered this
advice centuries ago, but Zimbabwe's latest aspiring spin doctor, Sikhanyiso
Ndlovu, needs such a reminder.
Since taking over as Robert Mugabe's "Josef Goebbels" some months ago,
Ndlovu has taken government propaganda to new depths of denial, deception
While as Zimbabwe's trailblazing propaganda warrior, Jonathan Moyo, relied
on distortion and exaggeration in his bid to defend the indefensible, Ndlovu
has chosen to resort to an outright refusal to acknowledge objective
This of course, is heart-of-stone Mugabe's long established modus operandi ,
but one would have expected Ndlovu to bring a more humane and realistic
perspective. But lo and behold, the renowned educationist did not even give
himself time to pause and take stock before jumping in headlong to embrace
"the big lie".
And while younger men like Moyo and his former sidekick, George Charamba,
can hope to live down the spectacle they have made of themselves in the
service of Zimbabwe's despotic ruler, what chance is there for a 70-year old
man to retain his dignity and credibility after a similar stint?
When Ndlovu was appointed Minister of Information and Publicity after a
recent cabinet reshuffle, some hoped he would bring sanity and moderation to
the portfolio, which has become one of the most unpopular arms of government
because of the ministry's adversarial approach in dealing with the media and
other stakeholders. Alas, this was not to be and Ndlovu has been willing to
defend Mugabe's paranoid ranting with almost juvenile gusto.
He seems totally unaware that communication starts with a climate of belief
built by performance and reflecting a sincere desire to serve the interests
of the receiver. An unbridgeable credibility gap is created when a
communicator loses the respect of stakeholders as Ndlovu has rapidly done
through his perplexing eagerness to be his master's voice regardless of what
a fool he makes of himself.
A simple lesson for Ndlovu is that words must mean the same to the receiver
as they do to the sender. The Mugabe regime's utterances are no longer in
sync with established realities and rules of logic. Take the argument about
the imposition of targeted sanctions, which the Mugabe regime is clumsily
trying to turn on its head. Being clueless on how to reverse the economic
ruin and confusion they have wrought upon the country, Zimbabwean
authorities believe they can now dupe everybody by attributing the
prevailing chaos to "illegal sanctions".
The first question is, illegal by whose criterion? It is a bad piece of
propaganda for a country where lawlessness is rampant to insist on legality
on the part of others. The targeted sanctions have been imposed on Mugabe
and his lieutenants for the flagrant human rights abuses and brutal
atrocities they are perpetrating against a defenceless populace.
Ndlovu has been at the forefront in trying to put a spin on the targeted
sanctions, which must be biting to be such a sore point for the
globe-trotting Mugabe. He can no longer fly to Western capitals at the drop
of a hat as he used to do, hence his bitter assertions that the sanctions
must be lifted. Ndlovu has swallowed this drivel hook, line and sinker.
Instead of advising his boss to address the governance issues that
necessitated the imposition of the measures in the first place, he has been
singing for his supper in a sickening way for a man of his age.
One moment Ndlovu says the sanctions are a "non-event" and supposedly
therefore of no consequence but in the next breath he blasts the West for
causing the misery and deprivation that Zimbabweans are enduring. Ndlovu
recently claimed that by "harping on economic hardships" in Zimbabwe the
American government was confirming that it imposed sanctions against the
country. The sanctions were, however, doomed to fail, Ndlovu gloated. What
doublespeak! The people are not fooled and are fully aware who is
responsible for causing their suffering and pauperisation.
There is no earthly reason for them to feel any sympathy for their
tormentors as implied by Mugabe's taunt during the last independence
celebrations that Zimbabweans should "unite against sanctions" .If Mugabe
and his regime genuinely cared about the plight of the people they would be
addressing the issues that have rendered a once thriving country a pariah
and failed state.
Ndlovu seems to forget that the economic problems in Zimbabwe are
self-inflicted and are a result of corruption and mismanagement. They can be
traced directly to the mishandling of the land reform programme, which has
resulted in the ruination of the agricultural sector.
No amount of spinning on Ndlovu's part on tired themes like sovereignty and
the inane claim that "Zimbabwe will never be a colony again" can change the
fact that Mugabe and his avaricious cronies have destroyed the country
through corruption, inefficiency and selfishness. They are in government
only to enrich themselves and do not give a hoot about the needs and
aspirations of the people.
On the eve of the last independence "celebrations" on April 18, Ndlovu made
the astonishing statement that independence and sovereignty meant that
Zimbabweans were now free to walk along First Street in Harare.
Firstly, it is not true that blacks were barred from any part of the capital
during the reign of the Smith regime, so this is an outright lie. Secondly,
Ndlovu neglected to mention that roaming the streets on empty stomachs is no
fun for those outside the ZANU PF political patronage system. Some
Zimbabweans venture into the centre of town not to walk proudly with heads
held high but to beg.
If Ndlovu had taken a walk in the centre of the capital on April 18, he
would have found some pavements impassable because of uncollected garbage.
Is this what freedom is supposed to mean for the ordinary man and woman
while for chefs like Ndlovu it means exclusive and unlimited access to
national resources and facilities that should benefit all Zimbabweans?
Commenting on an American government statement on increasing tyranny and
repression in Zimbabwe, Ndlovu was quoted as saying the United States had no
right to lecture other countries on democracy. "In Zimbabwe, we do not run
our country or need American praise commendations at all, we do what we do
as a sovereign, independent country."
What he neglected to say is that the Mugabe regime does not listen to
anybody - including the people of Zimbabwe. This is why Mugabe needs people
like Ndlovu, who despite their mature age, experience and assumed "Ubuntu"
or "Hunhu" are prepared to bear false witness against the people by spouting