Thursday, 03 May 2012 17:14
ZIMBABWEAN workers on Tuesday joined their colleagues the world over in
commemorating Workers’ Day at a time when the main labour body, the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), is riddled with divisions and infighting.
This internal strife reflects the general decline of the labour movement in
the country due to a combination of economic and political factors. The
country’s once vibrant labour movement is now a pale shadow of its former
self due to internecine leadership wrangles, an unstable macro-economic
environment, political repression and polarisation which have left it weak,
fragmented and incapable of effectively defending the interests of workers,
while playing a critical role in the democratic development of the country.
The split in the labour movement comes at a time harsh economic conditions
have resulted in rising unemployment, which stands at unprecedented levels
of around 90%.
This has forced most people into informal sector which has no representation
in trade unions. Consequently, the ever increasing trade union bodies have
to compete for the membership of the meagre 10% workforce.
The two ZCTU factions as well as the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions
(ZFTU) organised separate Workers’ Day functions, showing the labour
movement is disintegrating.
The ZCTU descended into self-destruction last year after splitting into
two groups, one led by Lovemore Matombo and the other by George Nkiwane.
The split has its roots in the dispute over the verification of some
delegates from four affiliate unions to the trade union federation’s
elective congress in August last year.
The incumbent, Matombo unsuccessfully applied to the High Court to stop the
congress, which elected Nkiwane as new president.
Matombo said although the ZCTU split over alleged “electoral fraud” by the
Nkiwane faction, “unity is possible but only if they agree to a congress
where only verified delegates will be allowed to vote”.
Nkiwane blamed the split on Matombo’s refusal to accept the results of the
congress, saying unity could only be achieved if Matombo accepted the
Former ZCTU vice-president Tabitha Khumalo believes that the problem lies in
the labour body leadership’s penchant for power at the expense of workers’
“Labour has abandoned the democratic principles of leadership and followed
the path of political parties into rigging, factionalism and jostling for
positions,” Khumalo said.
Zimbabwe National Students Union president Pride Mukono and National
Constitutional Assembly spokesperson Madock Chivasa noted the labour
movement’s divisions were worsening the already dreadful workers’ plight.
ZCTU factions admitted in the absence of unity, the workers movement had
proved incapable of meaningfully challenging low wages, poor service
delivery and controversial government policies affecting workers.
The current ZCTU, which gave birth to the MDC, is different from that of the
late 1990s which staged crippling mass stay-aways and forced government to
reverse unpopular taxes.
President Robert Mugabe later invoked the Presidential Powers (Temporary
Measures) Act banning stay-aways to stem increasing labour influence and
Apart from infighting, the labour movement was also gradually weakened by
effects of the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap) of the 1990s
and the post-1997 economic crisis which engulfed the country.
According to Professor Llyod Sachikonye of the University of Zimbabwe, Esap
impacted negatively on the labour movement through retrenchments while
disastrous economic decisions like the paying of unbudgeted gratuities to
war veterans in 1997 contributed to massive inflation which left workers
vulnerable and unable to continue as union members.
Zanu PF also weakened the labour movement through repression and sponsoring
divisions, for instance through the formation of the war veterans-
affiliated ZFTU led by Joseph Chinotimba and others.
Repressive laws such as the Public Order and Security Act, Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the use of the Presidential
Powers (Temporary Measures) Act were used to deal with trade unions and
suppress strikes, demonstrations and any forms of gatherings.
ZCTU’s fallout with Zanu PF worsened the situation. The Congress of South
African Trade Unions has profited from its alliance with the ruling ANC and
the South African Communist Party. Although Zanu PF assisted in the
formation of the ZCTU at independence, the two organisations have fallen
According to Sachikonye, divisions within the ZCTU became pronounced in 1984
over whether it should align itself with the Zanu PF or not. The issue was
only resolved at the 1985 congress when the faction that advocated autonomy
won the elections.
Issues came to a head between 1997 and 1999 when the ZCTU organised
stay-aways to protest government taxes and backed the formation of the MDC
Professor Brian Raftopolous of University of Western Cape noted that the
ZCTU joined civil society in campaigning for the rejection of the
government-sponsored constitution in a referendum held in February 2000.
However, its alliances with the MDC formations have been strained after the
two parties failed to deliver on promises to improve workers’ conditions
after joining Zanu PF in a coalition government in 2009.
Former ZCTU secretary-general and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has been
accused by the Matombo faction of habouring a “right wing” agenda and
“We will not lose sleep over Tsvangirai’s decision to side with Nkiwane,”
said Matombo. “After all, every politician will want to associate with a
weak labour movement,” he said.
Khumalo also described as “unfortunate” the fact that party leader
Tsvangirai had apparently sided with Nkiwane by attending his splinter group’s
May Day celebrations at Gwanzura Stadium in Harare on Tuesday. “It’s quite
sad because l would have hoped the two parties would have been brought
together to discuss re-unification,” said Khumalo.
However, Tsvangirai expressed his “displeasure” at the ZCTU infighting and
called for unity in his May Day address on Tuesday.
“While factions may be associated with politics, it is certainly not in the
interest of the workers to have a divided leadership claiming to represent
their interest,” said Tsvangirai.
Workers may have commemorated May Day on Tuesday but negative economic and
political factors, including infighting, has precipitated the dramatic
decline of the labour movement in Zimbabwe and further erosion of workers
rights. The decline of the labour movement has left workers exposed to
exploitation and abuse.
Thursday, 03 May 2012 16:41
WHEN the MDC emerged as a political party in September 1999, it comprised a
diverse mix of trade unionists, civil society groups, farmers, various
interest organisations and ordinary individuals.
Under the leadership of Morgan Tsvangirai and his then deputy the late
Gibson Sibanda, who had both cut their political teeth in the trade unions,
the party’s ideological leanings and activist approach were strongly
influenced by the labour movement.
However, today the MDC, in its many factions, finds itself in an awkward
position alienated from the party’s trade unionist roots because of the
operating environment and its new alliances, besides being in a difficult
political marriage with its bitter rival Zanu PF.
While describing itself as “a social democracy party”, the MDC-T in
particular has drifted away from its point of origin in the ideological and
policy spectrum in significant ways which are becoming increasingly
difficult to ignore for its trade union allies and its support base.
Analysts say while the MDC-T, which started as a broad church, has roots in
the labour movement, it has changed over the years in terms of its dominant
constituents, structure and agenda. Its sources of funding and policies
have also evolved, leading to a change its ideological underpinnings and
programmes. Its domestic and international allies have also changed, hence
the shift and new direction.
The politics and personal agendas of its leaders, both of which, according
to the party’s critics, have been infiltrated by right wing ideologues and
agendas, are instrumental in shaping its current position and vision and
what it stands for.
The operating political and socio-economic environment is also said to have
forced the MDC-T to adjust and re-align itself in a bid to survive in
difficult conditions. Critics say the party has resultantly abandoned its
roots and is now pandering to fundamentals of liberal democracy and
MDC-T critics say the its handling of Zanu PF’s land reform programme and
now indigenisation has left it exposed to more queries about its ideological
position and policy perspective.
These questions are becoming critical ahead of elections as the party stands
a good chance of winning and forming the next government. People are asking
if the party has jettisoned its labour roots and drifted right because of
the operation environment and political realities acting upon it.
However, MDC-T secretary for research and policy co-ordination Eddie Cross
says his party has not drifted to the right and in fact dismissed such
political descriptions and terminology as “outdated”.
“Our position is that we support an economy driven by market-forces not by
government,” said Cross. “People tend to classify us as rightist because of
that, but an economy is a machine designed to support the state to provide,”
However, political commentator Blessing Vava said the MDC-T’s shifted from
its labour origins towards capitalist interests. Vava says the MDC-T
“ceased to be a party representing workers’ interests, as it has been
hijacked by capital”.
“Big guys with money are in there so it’s not surprising to see some of the
policies they come up with,” he said.
While Vava is concerned about changes in the party’s interests, it could
also be argued the MDC-T’s politics of reacting to Zanu PF’s leadership and
policy agenda has undermined its capacity to develop its own ideological
perspective and approach on issues.
After all, the party was formed in 1999 in reaction to repression and
economic decline, as well as social deterioration. Over the years, the
MDC-T, which rides on protest votes, has found itself still reacting to Zanu
PF’s positions, including on land and indigenisation. For instance, its
stance on business developed in response to Zanu PF’s attacks on enterprise
through damaging price controls and youth-led invasions of mines and
Further, its agenda to “restore macro-economic fundamentals, restore
financial stability and reform” is also a response to economic devastation.
This is over and above the politics of funding and alliances seen as the
major factors influencing the party.
Secretary-general of the Progressive Teacher’s Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ)
Raymond Majongwe, a former staunch supporter of the party, launched a
scathing attack MDC-T for abandoning its roots. “Anyone who thinks the MDC
has policies is daydreaming. Right or left is neither here nor there because
they have nothing,” he said.
Vava insists: “When the MDC started, it was a party aligned with the workers
but it has ceased becoming a pro-poor party and aligned itself with capital”.
President of one of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions factions Lovemore
Matombo said the MDC-T’s has shifted from its initial leftist perspective to
more right-wing thinking, a charge Cross denies.
The MDC-T’s association with right-leaning organisations such as the
American International Republican Institute and South Africa’s opposition
Democratic Alliance has raised eyebrows in some quarters. Some says this
provides evidence of its actual ideological position than the patchy leftist
rhetoric of its leaders.
When asked about Tsvangirai’s association with 2008 Republican presidential
candidate John McCain who hosted him on his first state visit to the United
States as prime minister in June 2009, Cross said: “We try to build
relationships with anyone who will talk to us. We’ve had a rough ride since
we began and we’ve had it hard from everyone internationally and regionally.
Morgan just wants to talk to anyone who’ll talk to us.”
“For seven years, (former South African President) Thabo Mbeki isolated us
in the political negotiations and internationally we don’t have the kind of
relationship that Zanu PF has with North Korea or China, “ Cross added.
Cross said his party had good relations with the ruling party in Botswana,
Labour Party in the United Kingdom and its closest political and ideological
ally, Germany’s Social Democratic Party. He described the Germany party as
“our soul brothers”.
MDC-T critics claims the party has changed because of its foreign funding
and policy input by the funders, allegations vehemently denied. However, in
2008 former DA leader Tony Leon said in his autobiography On the Contrary
Tsvangirai was being disingenuous when he said he had not received funding
from his party. “I thought such public disclaimers of known private
realities revealed a troubling inconsistency,” he wrote.
Cross said the “international community” mainly funded MDC-T training
programmes during elections, but the bulk of the party’s funds came from the
state allocation to political parties in parliament and from its 750 000
While the MDC-T still insists it is still a “social democratic party”, its
critics say realities on the ground suggest it might be changing in
character and content, that is if it was different in the first place.
Thursday, 03 May 2012 17:34
A WATER crisis is looming in the country following revelations that 26 local
authorities cannot afford water treatment after the United Nations Children’s
Fund (Unicef) terminated a contract to supply the chemicals.
The disclosures come at a time when Unicef, which helped contain the deadly
cholera outbreak that hit the country between 2008 and 2009, terminated its
contract to supply water treatment chemicals to 20 urban councils on April
About 26 out of 31 local authorities cannot afford water treatment
chemicals. Sources said Chinhoyi municipality, for example, collects about
US$40 000 per month, of which 60% goes to salaries. It requires US$20 000
for water treatment. The situation, if not addressed, could reach crisis
levels similar to those in 2008 when cholera killed more than 3 000 people
Deputy Minister of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development Sesel
Zvidzai confirmed recently a number of local authorities were facing a water
treatment crisis due to lack of adequate funding.
“I carried out an exercise to check how the local authorities will be able
to manage the situation and I completed it last week. The exercise covered a
sample of 10 local authorities that include Chegutu, Bindura, Chinhoyi,
Kadoma, Chiredzi, Mutare as well as Harare and indications are that they
cannot afford water treatment,” he said.
Zvidzai said the local authorities were owed a lot of money by ratepayers,
while government facing financial problems. “We are going to make some
recommendations and liaise with the Ministry of Water and Ministry of
Finance to work together on coming up with options to handle the situation
before it reaches crisis levels. Since a lot of the local authorities still
have at least a two months supply of water treatment chemicals, we have
enough time to come up with a plan,” said Zvidzai.
“The 10 samples we carried out are a very good representative sample. We
have about 30 local authorities and I can confidently say that what was
revealed by the samples represents what is happening in other local
Thursday, 03 May 2012 16:15
AS Zimbabwe faces hunger and possible starvation due to massive grain
shortages this farming season, there is need to reflect and change the
present agricultural subsidy model to boost production and food security.
For as long as I can remember, the Zimbabwean government has been giving
inputs to farmers. These inputs have been provided in various ways, in some
cases as loans to both commercial and communal farmers, while in some
instances as hand-outs for political expediency.
Either way, they are subsidies to farmers. In most of those cases,
especially where they have been provided as loans, many of the farmers have
never paid back. This has created a dependence disease in our farmers which
is a threat to the country’s economic well-being and food security. They say
that insanity is doing things the same way and expecting a different result!
If we don’t change the way agriculture is subsidised in Zimbabwe, we will
continue to have an underperforming agricultural sector. My submission here
is not that we should stop agricultural subsidies. Many countries including
Japan, China and the United States subsidise farmers. Rather, the present
subsidy model needs to be changed.
Before going into detail, there is a need to address two critical myths
peddled in Zimbabwe for a long time. Correcting those myths is important in
locating the role and importance of agriculture in the greater economic
The first myth that has been peddled for a long time locally and
internationally is that Zimbabwe, until the land reform which started in
2000, was the breadbasket of Africa. This myth can be traced back to the
role that Zimbabwe was assigned at the formation of the Southern African
Development Coordination Conference (Sadcc), now known as Sadc, way back in
April 1980 in Lusaka, Zambia.
At that time, countries were assigned specific responsibilities which
related to their natural endowments and assumed future strengths. For
example, Malawi was assigned responsibilities over fisheries and wildlife,
and Zambia was assigned a role over mining. While it is true Zimbabwe had
agricultural surpluses for certain crops at the time, it is a fact apartheid
South Africa, which was not a part of Sadcc, produced by far more food,
including maize and wheat among other agricultural products, than Zimbabwe.
The second myth holds that land is the economy and the economy is the land.
Promoting that myth has political benefits in our country where the majority
of our folks are either poor or subsistence farmers or both. However, making
our people hold such beliefs is neither visionary nor useful. Our people
certainly need development, and we can only transform from a Third World
country to a developed one if we industrialise, and doing so means we should
transform our ability to produce goods and services through building key
skills and technologies.
No economy in this world had developed on the basis of agriculture. This is
not to say agriculture is not important. But the importance we have given it
in Zimbabwe is only good enough if our vision is to remain a Third World
Coming back to the agricultural subsidy issue, subsidies to farmers are
provided in many countries, including the two richest countries, the US and
Japan. The only country that has eliminated all subsidies to farmers is New
Zealand. So indeed to promote agriculture, it may be necessary for
governments to continue subsidies. However, what should change is the model
The current model in Zimbabwe has not been very helpful to the economy. It
has created the farmer-subsidy-dependence syndrome. This disease has become
so pervasive as to become chronic and destructive to our ability as a
country to run farms as enterprises. Our government has given farmers
everything over the years mostly for free — diesel, scotch-carts, tractors,
trailers, ploughs, wheelbarrows, irrigation pipes, combine harvesters, seed,
and fertiliser, among a host of other inputs. Yet every year, there are
reports of abuse of those inputs.
The media has even reported of some recipients of tractors using them to
transport commuters. In spite of this investment over several years, it has
become normal to hear farmers whining that the government has not given them
inputs at the beginning of every rainy season.
For Zimbabwe to develop, full and efficient utilisation of the land is
important, and we can only get to that stage if the current crop of farmers
starts looking at farming as an enterprise. This should be applicable to
both commercial and rural farmers. To achieve that, the subsidy model needs
to change. The solution to that needs to look at the farming value chain or
the farming process. The present model subsidises farmers at the input
level. This is populist and works well for politicians, but encourages
laziness and abuse of the inputs.
So how else can we subsidise our farmers in a way that reduces abuse,
encourages production and transforms agriculture? We must incentivise output
rather than give inputs. Subsidies should be moved from the point of inputs
to the point of outputs. That way, farmers get rewarded for what they have
produced and not for what they are yet to produce.
Government needs to channel the subsidies to the point of sale. When a
farmer, for example produces wheat, the government can top up a certain
amount on the price per tonne delivered. That would incentivise production.
It will enable the government to channel those subsidies to specific crops
whose output it plans to stimulate.
This concept is not entirely new. The Reserve Bank used to do it for tobacco
in the past. But that’s not adequate because it left out the non-tobacco
The biggest advantage of going this route is that it weans the system from
carrying and supporting unproductive farmers and inputs abusers. It also
stimulates production as there is a monetary incentive for increased output.
More importantly, our farmers need to understand farming should be run as an
enterprise at whatever scale.
Some might argue this model will leave out start-up farmers who do not have
resources. That is mitigated by the role of contract farming. If a farmer
has land but no capital for inputs, then he should go the contract farming
If we keep on doing the same thing and expecting different results, then we
Chinyamakobvu is a Japan-based scholar and analyst. Email:
Thursday, 03 May 2012 17:34
SOUTH African-based tycoon Mutumwa Mawere says he will re-engage former
South African president Thabo Mbeki to help him reclaim his business empire
grabbed by the government in 2004.
The beleaguered businessman has been involved in an ownership wrangle with
the government over SMMH since the state transferred his shares to
government shelf companies AMG Global Nominees and Nickdale Investments in
Mawere told the Zimbabwe Independent on Saturday he was still hopeful of
regaining control of the mines he lost after being declared a specified
person over allegations of externalisation.
After fighting a series of court battles which failed to return his
businesses, Mawere then sought Mbeki’s help in 2009. Mbeki engaged President
Robert Mugabe, who reportedly agreed to help return the mines to the
businessman, but the assets were never handed back to him.
Talks between Mawere and the government later collapsed after Justice
minister Patrick Chinamasa, Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and SMMH
administrator Arafas Gwaradzimba insisted Mugabe and Reserve Bank Gono could
not interfere with court processes since that would set a bad precedent.
Gono, in consultation with Mugabe, following Mbeki’s intervention, has been
pushing government to give back Mawere his assets.
Mawere thinks the problem is mainly individuals who want to tarnish Mugabe’s
“I have always held the view that President Mugabe is fed lies by vultures
and barbarians with a worldview that tarnishes his image and undermines his
legacy. I have no doubt that in the post-Mugabe era, both Chinamasa and
Mines minister Obert Mpofu will blame President Mugabe who may not be there
to defend himself,” he said.
It seemed as though his bid to reclaim the seized businesses had received a
major boost in 2010 when the government lifted his specification along with
that of two other business executives.
However, Mawere said he would not give up fighting a “corrupt system”
seizing private property.
“What I am fighting is a corrupt system that endorses laws that hinder
progress in the country and rob what others have worked for,” said Mawere.
“Unless and until such laws are repealed, then we shall continue to witness
decay of the economy as well as the closure of companies and organisations,
leaving Zimbabweans poorer and jobless.”
Speculation is rife Mawere’s fallout with Mnangagwa and his powerful Zanu PF
faction, to which Chinamasa belongs, is the real story behind the SMMH saga.
“Although the climb is full of setbacks and will not be easy, I would rather
fight on than give in to blackmail and obfuscation,” he said.
Thursday, 03 May 2012 17:22
THE Zimbabwe Exiles Forum (Zef) has slammed the South African and Zimbabwean
governments for failing to ensure justice and protection for victims of
political violence in the country.
Zef chairperson Gabriel Shumba said this in response to the South African
government’s refusal to investigate and prosecute high-level Zanu PF
officials accused of perpetrating violence in Zimbabwe in 2007. “We are
relying on South Africa to use the Implementation of the Rome Statute Act to
prosecute those implicated in human rights violations,” he said.
Shumba also challenged South African President Jacob Zuma’s facilitation
team to broaden its mission by engaging ordinary people, saying that would
enable it to possibly assist the victims of impunity and injustices such as
“Gukurahundi and election violence”.
This was after Lindiwe Zulu, Zuma’s international relations advisor, told
the Zimbabwe Independent that Pretoria would only act if the International
Criminal Court (ICC) issues an international warrant of arrest.
Zef and the Southern Africa Litigation Centre (Salc) launched a landmark
case before the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria on March 26. Court
records seen by the Independent show South Africa refrained from
investigating and arresting Zanu PF officials implicated in violence fearing
this would be construed as interference in Zimbabwe’s internal affairs and
cause a diplomatic rift.
Zef and Salc argued South Africa’s ratification of the Rome Statute and its
consequent enactment of the ICC Act had placed clearly binding obligations
that committed it to the investigation and prosecution of serious
international crimes regardless of where they are committed.
South African police and Public Prosecutions departments said: “The arrest
in South Africa of Zimbabwean cabinet ministers would have a major effect on
the functioning of a sensitive safety and security portfolio in that country
and it is only to be expected that this would lead to a diplomatic rift
between the two countries.”
Thursday, 03 May 2012 15:11
GOVERNMENT has rejected proposals for the compulsory blending of ethanol by
the ambitious US$600 million Chisumbanje Green Fuels company after the
consortium led by Billy Rautenbach refused to disclose figures of its
Controversial businessman Rautenbach, who is a close associate of President
Robert Mugabe, and his consortium are holding on to crucial production cost
figures which would help the government in regulating pricing of the E10
blended petroleum product.
A senior government official said the government believes that Green Fuels
wants to rip off local consumers by charging slightly below the cost of
unleaded petrol, hence their refusal to release production costs.
Ethanol blended petrol (E10) is lighter and burns faster than unleaded
petrol. It therefore follows that for the same quantities of fuel, a
motorist using unleaded fuel travels further than one using E10. For that
reason E10 should be significantly cheaper than unleaded fuel.
“Green Fuels has refused to hand over production costs to the government
despite the state being a partner through the Arda investment,” said the
official. “The secrecy by the consortium has caused the government to be
cautious in approving compulsory blending.”
The Green Fuels deal has been shrouded in secrecy since 2009 when it was
first brokered and some MPs have called for its cancellation, saying it does
not meet the country’s 51% indigenisation policy.
Energy minister Elton Mangoma rejected the compulsory blending of ethanol
saying it was not good for consumers. He said the government could not
formulate a policy to protect a single company.
Sources close to Green Fuels said the consortium is trying to find a
political solution to the new challenge and is even considering making an
appeal to President Robert Mugabe to reverse Mangoma’s decision.
“The consortium believes Mangoma’s decision was political and therefore a
political solution has to be found,” said the source. “They are
contemplating approaching Mugabe to have Mangoma’s decision reversed so that
the project may be saved.”
Arda board chairman Basil Nyabadza confirmed that an inter-ministerial
committee was handling the matter to try and find a workable solution to
save the project.
“The matter is now beyond our level. It is now being handled by an
inter-ministerial team comprising 11 ministers, among them Agriculture
minister Joseph Made and Mangoma,” said Nyabadza.
The Green Fuels investment had begun to change the economic prospects of the
semi-arid and poor Middle Sabi valley. The local authority has since lodged
an application to have Checheche Growth Point upgraded to a town council
More than 5000 jobs created by the project, that employs mostly locals, are
now at risk. At least 700 workers have been sent on forced leave since
Parliament is still probing into the finer details of the Green Fuels deal
as parliamentarians argue that the project is in contravention of the
country’s 51% local ownership indigenisation policy.
Rautenbach’s consortium controls 70% of the project while the remainder is
held by Arda.
Thursday, 03 May 2012 15:09
THE majority of mining companies have submitted their empowerment proposals
to the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board and these have
been on-passed to the Indigenisation ministry for approval, according to
NIEEB chairman David Chapfika.
Since the Youth Development, Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment
ministry gazetted General Notice 114 of 2011 in March last year, it had
received more than 200 indigenisation implementation plans from mining
The initial deadline was September 25 last year. However, this deadline was
repeatedly extended until Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere read
the riot act to mining companies in February this year.
“In essence every legal mining company has submitted their proposals and for
those that have not submitted it was because their plans had been rejected
to allow them to make amendments,” Chapfika said this week. He however said
compliance was a process, which would be implemented over a five year window
once approval had been obtained from the minister.
Last month, Kasukuwere said his ministry hoped to have finalised the
transfer of majority stakes in foreign mining companies to locals by the end
Prior to his announcement, the few notables that had not yet had their
empowerment plans approved were Duration Gold and Metallon.
“I would say in the main there has now been compliance and now it’s just a
question of dotting the Is and crossing the Ts,” he said at a Reuters office
In its quarterly update released early this week, Zimplats said discussions
were still on-going regarding finalisation of an implementation plan.
The Australian-listed mining house had agreed in principle to cede 51% of
its shareholding to government
Under the proposal, 10% of Zimplats’ shareholding would be held by the local
community trust, 10% by the employees and 31% by the NIEEF. The finer
details are to be addressed by a joint technical team comprising Zimplats,
the Indigenisation ministry and the NIEEF Board. The NIEEF is a Sovereign
Wealth Fund managed by the NIEEB, assisted by financial advisors.
Mimosa Platinum mine also announced last month that it was willing to comply
with the 51% local ownership requirement and discussions were now focused on
agreeing shareholder structure, valuation and funding of the share
Early this year, Caledonia Mining signed an MoU with the Indigenisation
ministry after agreeing to sell 51% of its Blanket Mine to indigenous
The stake is to be transacted at US$30,09 mln and each beneficiary of the
indigenisation exercise will not hold more than 16% equity.
Under the agreement, 16% will be sold to the National Indigenisation and
Economic Empowerment Fund, 10% will be taken up by management and employees
and 10% will be donated to the Blanket Gwanda community Trust.
In addition, the group will donate US$1 mln to the Trust after it has been
set up. The 15% remainder will be sold to private investors who were
identified on the basis of their being able to add value to operations.
The group is hopeful the transactions envisaged in the MoU will be
implemented during the second quarter of 2012. –– Staff Writer.
Thursday, 03 May 2012 14:59
ZIMBABWE needs to address the bottlenecks that are at the Beitbridge Border
post and urgently turn it into a One Stop Border point.
In a speech read on his behalf, African Development Bank Vice President
Mthuli Ncube told the ZITF International Business Conference last week that
there had been a significant growth in the value of goods and services
moving across the national borders but the Beitbridge Border Post, which was
the busiest of all the crossing points, was costly to business due to the
delays and hassles at the post.
The volume of trade across the region has risen from US $12,4 billion in
2000 to US $34 billion in 2010. It peaked at around US$36 billion in 2008
when Zimbabwe’s industrial capacity had sunk to record lows in the
However, the country loses around US$35 million annually in transit time and
Government, through the Economic Planning ministry, has been promoting
Zimbabwe as a preferred investment destination because of its central
location as it links South Africa to other regional countries. Full
advantages of the North-South Corridor can only be realised if efficiencies
are improved at the Beitbridge Border post and upon completion of the
Ncube said the Beitbridge border post had numerous checkpoints which were
costly to business. He believed the country could easily increase its
export revenues and gain from the economies of scale if the crossing point
system were overhauled.
“Zimbabwe and South Africa simply need to harmonise the customs processes in
order to minimise delays, bribes and other bottlenecks.” He added that there
was also poor infrastructure and unavailability of accommodation.
Ncube noted that any initiatives that had been followed to reduce congestion
and bottlenecks had not yielded any success, the latest of which was the
upgrade of the ASYCUDA computer system.
The Beitbridge border post normally clears about 3 300 cargo carriers and
one million people but this can go up to 12 000 and four million during the
peak seasons. About 80% of Zimbabwe’s imports are from South Africa while
63% of Zimbabwe’s exports go to or through South Africa.
Ncube said that it was necessary to duplicate the successes of the Chirundu
Border Posts which saw transit time being reduced to two hours from three
Thursday, 03 May 2012 14:56
THE economy is poised for a rapid recovery when the political landscape
becomes more conducive for business activity, since the country has shown
signs of resilience despite a constrained operating environment, says Christ
Hart of Investment Solutions.
Hart, who was quoted on the Great Indaba website said: “Zimbabwe is poised
to become one of the biggest recovery stories on the continent.”
Hart argued that there was a solid infrastructure base, although there had
been no capital expenditure for more than a decade.
“There is power, there is a road network and the education system has not
collapsed, so skills are available. And while a great deal has broken down,
there is significant institutional memory that will fast-track growth when
the political landscape becomes less obstructive,” said Hart.
Since dollarisation, the economy has steadily recovered registering growth
rates of 5,7% in 2009, 8,1% in 2010 and 9,3% in 2011. Some economists are
pessimistic that the growth is not sustainable since the economy is
recovering from a low base.
The economy is expected to grow by 9,4% in 2012. Finance minister, Tendai
Biti said that the growth will mainly be driven by improved performance in
agriculture, mining, tourism and finance.
But the 2012 growth figure has been projected to end lower since the
out-turn of the 2011/2012 agricultural season indicates a lower yield due to
prolonged dry spells in some parts of the country.
Some economists also argue that the 9,4% projection is on the premise of
firm international commodity prices and any significant fall will derail the
projection, since mining was the biggest contributor to GDP.
But Hart argued that the rapid turn of the economy to real growth would be
on the back of Zimbabwe having one of the largest reserves of platinum in
the world and a wealth of other resources, including diamonds, gold, chrome,
nickel and coal.
Hart suggests that investment in tourism, telecommunications, financial
services, transport and retail would come in relatively quickly if the
However, Professor Tony Hawkins has in the past two weeks said that
optimism in the potential of the Zimbabwean economy by Western capitals is
misplaced since the country’s policies will not change even if there is a
change of government.
"The belief in Western capitals is that post-Mugabe Zimbabwe will be a very
diffrent country. But the dynamics within Zimbabwe and the region have
changed and whoever succeeds Mugabe is not going to reverse his policies on
land and indigenisation,” said Hawkins.
Statistics from the Ministry of Finance show that during the first quarter
of 2012 declared exports shipments increased by 6,2% compared to the same
period in 2011.
Mining remained the major contributor to total exports at 70,7% and the
sector also registered significant growth in exports compared to the same
period in 2011.
Tobacco, the second major export earner, failed to maintain the 2011
momentum over the same period as exports registered a 42,57% decline in 2012
but this has been attributed to the slow export shipment and not
necessarily a decline in output.
“Indications on the ground show that the decline in tobacco exports over
this period does not necessarily reflect decline in output, as there was a
20% increase in quantities sold compared to 2011,” according to the African
Development Bank’s monthly report.
Statistics from the Tobacco Marketing Board indicate thatthe 2012 tobacco
marketing season recorded a 25% increase in sales to total 55 million
kilogrammes of flue cured tobacco on day 41 from the comparable period last
Manufacturing exports increased by more than 56% in comparison to the same
period in 2011, but only constitute only 8% of total exports.
Given the huge gap that still exists, the key to resolving the negative
trade balance can be argued to be generally hinged on the extent to which
policy strategies can be formulated to incentivise value addition for
But the full recovery of the economy has been impeded by the political
environment which has seen the country reeling under a US$6,9 billion
external debt. Biti indicated that the debt is expected to balloon to US$8
billion by end of 2012.
The fiscal out-turn for 2012 shows that cumulative government revenues for
January and February amounted to US$483,3 million, against a target of
This implies a cumulative deficit of US$61,24 million, largely emanating
from under-performance of diamond revenues where only US$5 million was
accounted for against a fiscal contribution of US$41,5 million in the first
Salary adjustments effected in January 2012, resulted in cumulative
employment costs for the first two months of US$257,4 million, which
translates to 53,3% of total revenues and 57,9% of total cumulative
Thursday, 03 May 2012 14:55
ZIMBABWE has already registered US$152, 79 million worth of export earnings
from 39 investment projects approved by the Zimbabwe Investment Authority in
the quarter to March 2012.
According to figures from the Zimbabwe Investment Authority, the projects,
whose total investment value was US$113, 118 million, are jointly owned by
both local and foreign companies. Under Zimbabwean law, foreign companies
are expected to comply with the indigenisation laws which stipulate that 51%
of any company should be held by the country’s indigenous people.
Construction accounted for US$86,6 million of the total amount invested in
the first quarter, and this was for a single project. Of that amount,
foreign partners contributed US$6,6 million plus equipment worth US$6,5
million which was brought from abroad.
The authority approved 15 mining projects worth US$32,99m. Foreigners
contributed US$20.26 million and brought in equipment valued at $10.41
million. Manufacturing foreign partners brought in US$7,077 million from
total investments of US$9,094 million. ZIA approved 14 projects in the
sector. Manufacturing is expected to grow by 6% this year. Capacity
utilisation is expected to improve with the launch of the twin industrial
Only two projects worth US$750 000 were approved in the tourism sector. More
than half (US$390 000) came from foreigners. Tourism is expected to grow
13.7% after the waiver of duty on the importation of safari vehicles and
The Zimbabwe Tourism Authority this week said it was negotiating a US$30
million facility to retool the sector.
A US$10 million project was approved for agriculture, which relates to the
In March alone, 13 projects worth US$28, 62 million were approved. Foreign
partners contributed the bulk of this amount at US$25, 11 million. Export
earnings amounted to US$46, 24 million. The bulk of the projects were in
manufacturing, where five projects were approved.
— Staff Writer.
Thursday, 03 May 2012 14:52
THE viability of stockbroking firms in Zimbabwe is under threat as declining
trade volumes, partly owing to the absence of corporate finance activity,
has left some of them scratching around for business.
This has been worsened by the reduction in the dealing commission from 1,5%
to 1%, which has put significant pressure on broking firms’ margins.
Brokers said since the economy dollarised in 2009, there had been a rise in
competition in the industry whilst the market had not grown in terms of new
Analysts have attributed the thinning volumes on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange
(ZSE) to the prevailing negative economic sentiment which is keeping foreign
investors at bay, as well as tight liquidity conditions on the local market.
ZSE chief executive officer Emmanuel Munyukwi lamented the changing fortunes
of some broking firms, saying the depressed trading conditions were partly
due to uncertainty created by the ongoing indigenisation debate, and the
poor state of capitalisation of Zimbabwean companies.
“I do not think we can attribute the low volumes to the indigenisation
debate alone. We have good companies in Zimbabwe but unfortunately they are
grossly undercapitalised,” said Munyukwi.
The ZSE boss said whilst there was nothing wrong with indigenisation,the way
it was being implemented was creating uncertainty and keeping investors away
from the market. To understand this, one had to put themselves in the shoes
of the foreign investor.
Munyukwi pointed out that Zimbabwe had companies that had not invested in
capital assets, with some still using equipment dating back to the 1930s,
rendering them uncompetitive and unattractive to investors.
Analysing the profile of counters on the ZSE, Munyukwi also observed that a
few large firms dominated the market capitalisation of the ZSE, something he
considered unhealthy. On the other hand, there were too many penny stocks.
In terms of the stockbroking firms themselves, three out of 19 stockbroking
firms dominated 60% of the realised business, leaving the rest to fight for
the remainder. The three stockbroking firms, Lynton Ewards, Imara and IH
Securities dominated the foreign investor market share.
A senior stockbroker with MMC Capital said if one did not have foreign
clients it was difficult to stay afloat.
“There are very few local deals and it’s the brokers with foreign clients
that are making ends meet,” said the dealer.
However, trading statistics obtained from the ZSE paint an interesting
picture. Between February 2009 and December 2009, total foreign deals valued
at US$146 million accounted for 35% of trade, whilst representing 17% of
In 2010, foreigners accounted for 46% of US$180 million of value traded but
the deals were 46% of the volume of shares traded.
Foreign participation on the ZSE increased to US$343 million 2011,
representing 72% of value traded and 30% of trade volumes.
The trend has been maintained into the first quarter of 2012, where at
US$108 million, foreign deals have accounted for 91% of value and 43% of
The data shows that during this period, the total value of shares traded was
fairly stable -- US$413 million in 2009, US$391 million in 2010 and US$477
million in 2011.
The problem for some broking firms, therefore, seems to be that they need to
attract foreign clients. The data also indicates that foreign buyers are
keen on the larger cap stocks which represent the well-capitalised
The larger companies also have deep pockets and have "big brothers" who are
funding their operations, making them more attractive. The ZSE market
capitalisation is dominated by a few such firms and only 10 companies
account for 67% of the value on the ZSE.
Mehluli Mpofu, head of research at Old Mutual Investment Group, said reduced
activity by local institutional investors contributed to the low volumes on
“One finds that the outlook on most equities is negative, so fund managers
have been aiming to reduce their exposure to equities by channeling new
money to other asset classes in order to re-balance their portfolios. Its
important to remember that, prior to February 2009, portfolios were heavily
weighted in favour of equities. Buying activity on the ZSE is therefore
limited,” Mpofu said.
Another fund manager said whilst inflows from pension and life assurance
contributions were increasing, the portion available for investment after
paying benefits and claims was still negligible, hence the demand for
equities by local pension funds was still subdued.
Although there were differing views from analysts on the cause of reduced
volumes on the ZSE, there is agreement that there is a viability challenge
for most firms, given that business is at present concentrated amongst a few
firms. Most still have structures that were set up during the hyperinflation
Before the market dollarised, inflation was paying for growth of the
industry. The cost base was constantly being whittled down by inflation
whilst speculative trades were also fuelling high activity levels on the
Costs have, however, caught up in US dollar terms and there is little room
for speculative trading on the markets now. Most fund managers and private
investors now buy and hold shares for the long haul.
Thursday, 03 May 2012 14:51
THE Grain Marketing Board (GMB) is this year set to restructure
operations which will see the separation of the Strategic Grain
Reserve (SGR) function from commercial activities and staff
retrenchment to a maximum of 1 300 workers.
GMB chairman Charles Chikaura said the separation would see the
establishment of a Special Purpose Vehicle in the form of a Private
Limited company .
The organisation’s three divisions, which include Polybags
Manufacturing, Agro Processing and Farmer Support Services and
Commodity Trading and Logistics, will operate under the new proposed
The parastatal said as part of the strategic alignment process it
will reduce staffing to 1 300 permanent employees from the current 2
242. This, Chikaura said, will be done through restructuring and
retrenchment between 2012 and 2013.
Chikaura said the exercise would see staff cost to income ratio
maintained at below 30% down by half from the previous average of
“The tender for the organisation’s restructuring has since been floated.
This restructuring will result in the separation of SGR from
commercial services,” Chikaura said in a statement.
GMB is projecting to reduce its loss by 76% to US$ 1,5 million by
end of this year. Profits of up to US$ 2, 8 million are expected by end
Chikaura said the reduction in losses is attributed to improvement
in sales revenue, annual grain intake and cost containment measures
the organisation continues to implement.
Sales revenue in 2011 grew by 26% to US$ 14,7 million, up from
US$11,6 million recorded in the previous year. The organisation is
projecting a 33% increase in sales revenue to US$19, 5 million by end of
SGR support handling and storage fees contribution to revenue
increased by 563% to US$29,2 million up from US$ 4,4 million recorded in the
previous year. Contribution this year is projected to increase by 11% to
US$ 34, 1 million.
According to GMB , annual grain intake continues to improve and
this year is anticipated to increase by 20% from the 300 000mt
recorded in 2011.
The organisation said it will continue with its value addition to
improve its financial position and strategic position.
Chikaura said joint a venture proposal with a private player is still
under consideration by government and adoption is anticipated to
improve on efficiency and profitability of the organisation.
Thursday, 03 May 2012 14:46
FIRMING gold prices on the international markets are currently presenting
Zimbabwean investors with positive returns in comparison to other asset
classes in the country which have performed negatively in light of the
subdued economic outturn.
The international price of gold increased by 8,6% to end the first quarter
2012 at US$1 662,50 per troy ounce, mainly attributable to global economic
trends which include the strengthening of broad-based United States of
America (US) economic data, China’s economic slowdown, concerns and the
The World Gold Council (WGC) in its quarterly bulletin said that the
eventful quarter for the global economy saw increased volatility in capital
markets and this propelled the price of gold.
“In an eventful quarter for the global economy that saw increased volatility
in capital markets, gold finished the quarter materially higher despite a
number of headwinds,” he said.
The average price for gold was 22% higher on a year-over-year basis, as
drivers of gold demand and supply continued to support its long-term trend.
Globally, the first quarter was characterised by generally strong
performance across multiple asset classes such as equities and commodities.
“During the first quarter, global developed market equities, excluding the
US returned 11.4%; The S&P 500 climbed 12.1%, US real estate rose by 9.8%
(DJ US REIT Index) and commodities (S&P GSCI Index) rose 5% with strength in
gasoline, oil, silver and soybeans,” highlighted the WGC.
For local investors in Zimbabwe, gold outperformed alternative asset classes
like equities, the money market and property. With the advent of gold-linked
unit trust funds offered by some financial institutions, investors can now
directly tap into the gold boom since the capital and money markets are
currently not lucrative investment options.
Tetrad Asset Management’s Gold Fund realised a first quarter return of 6,1%
in line with the firming international prices. ZB Asset Management’s Growing
Gold Fund recorded a 7,14% growth in the quarter.
On the capital markets, the stock market remained depressed in the quarter
on the back of a myriad of problems which include low sentiment caused by
the government’s accelerated indigenisation drive which is a fret to foreign
Local punters in the equities market are greatly constrained by the
prevailing tight liquidity conditions which have resulted in weak stock
prices and low trading volumes. Market turnover totalled US$798,9 million in
the first quarter, driven by local buyers, mainly institutional investors.
Foreign investors activity totalled US$108 million.
During the quarter, the mining index plummeted 15% and the industrial index
shed 6 %.
The properties market has also remained a buyers’ market, and this has
ultimately led to property prices weakening,giving negative returns on
investment. The Old Mutual Securities Property Index indicates a 5,79%
decline in the first quarter.
Property consultant, Mike Juru, was this week quoted in the media
highlighting that the current economic slowdown had resulted in low
investment in real estate as evidenced by the lack of any meaningful
“The high costs of construction have made it impossible for developers to
undertake profitable projects and the non-availability of mortgage finance
has resulted in fewer transactions being concluded, especially in the
upmarket residential properties and commercial properties. This situation
has led to commercial property and upmarket residential properties remaining
subdued since 2009,” said Juru.
For risk-averse investors, the money market also attracted low interest
rates in the long end of maturities, with banks avoiding going long due to
uncertainties which include possible holding of elections. The 91 day Fixed
Deposit rate is currently being quoted between 15%-20% on an annual basis,
which translates to a quarterly return of between 3,74%;4,98%.
Despite the significant response to gold-linked unit trust funds by the
market, the funds can only absorb small investors with little capital as low
as US$100. Financial institutions are yet to develop gold linked products
that cater for huge institutional investors who may want to diversify their
Huge investors usually cause liquidity shocks and valuation problems for
unit trust funds when they buy and sell out of the funds, thus financially
engineered products must be developed to give such investors access to
investing in gold.
Thursday, 03 May 2012 16:09
IF you read the state media you would think Zambian President Michael Sata
was a stand-up comedian. Indeed that’s what they called him. One example of
his humour was his comment at Heroes Acre that more women should die to make
membership there more gender-balanced. “I think more women should die and
be buried here,” he joked.
How many people think that is funny? It is facile and tasteless.
President Sata was in Zimbabwe to officially open the 53rd Zimbabwe
International Trade Fair in Bulawayo. He told his audience in Harare that he
felt very much at home in Zimbabwe.
“I am back home,” he told the media that thronged Harare International
Airport for his arrival.
Having arrived at exactly 7pm at State House for a state banquet, President
Mugabe asked the First Ladies Amai Grace Mugabe and Dr Christine Kaseba to
join them for a photo shoot.
But President Sata retorted: “Let them wait. After all they joined us later
in our lives.”
There were more “jokes” during the signing of two Memorandums of
Understanding between Zimbabwe and Zambia.
There were two chairs vacant in front of the leaders and Zambian Foreign
Affairs and Tourism Minister Given Lubinda offered President Sata a seat.
“Why should I sit when the President (Mugabe) is standing?” President Sata
asked his minister.
He then asked President Mugabe which ministers would be signing the MOUs on
behalf of Zimbabwe.
Mugabe introduced Tourism and Hospitality Industry Minister Walter Mzembi
and Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment Minister Saviour
“That big one,” President Mugabe declared pointing to Kasukuwere.
“Ha, Mr President, but they are so young,” Sata said. “What do you need
young ministers for?” That was also deemed hilariously funny plunging the
audience into “uncontrollable laughter”, according to the state media.
During the signing of the MoU on Youth Development, President Sata looked at
the clean-shaven Kasukuwere and chuckled:
“Mr President, why does this man keep a bald head? During our days if a man
is shaven like this, it was either he was coming from jail or he is mourning
his dead wife.”
President Sata also had guests “in stitches” while delivering his speech
during the state banquet.
He addressed President Mugabe as Chief of Chimurenga.
His tour of Dairibord was also spiced with laughter. Sata chuckled why
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara had signed the visitors’ book as
“Mutambara was acting Prime Minister? Where was the Prime Minister? Why was
he acting PM?” Sata asked.
At Tyron Farm in Goromonzi, Sata approached a group of white farmers telling
them: “We are brothers, the war is over and let’s work together.”
“President Mugabe and his Zambian counterpart, Michael Sata, provided enough
humour to make any stand-up comedian grin (sic) with envy at the banquet
held at State House last week,” the Sunday Mail chimed this week.
We assume they wanted to say green with envy.
However, the Sunday Mail did not relate a “joke” that went wrong after Sata
chanted a Zanu PF slogan during his keynote address at the ZITF.
NewsDay reports that Sata raised his fist Zanu PF-style and chanted Pamberi
. . . pamberi ne jongwe (Forward with the cock — the Zanu PF party symbol)”,
drawing the ire of MDC-T and MDC officials present at the state function.
This was despite the event being organised by the Industry and Trade
ministry, headed by MDC president Welshman Ncube.
Reports say the arena became quiet as people were confused with the Zambian
leader’s utterances in support of a political party at a business function.
Zanu PF supporters and service chiefs roared with laughter and applauded
this faux pas.
For his ill-advised chant, Sata got an equal measure of flak from the MDC
MDC-T national spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora, said Sata went overboard in
his bid to impress Mugabe and “in the process turned a non-political event
into a political one”.
“Whatever Sata said after a gaffe like that therefore lost all its meaning,”
Meanwhile MDC organising secretary Qhubani Moyo was more direct saying Sata
“just got excited”.
We liked the picture of the white farmer collecting his prize in Bulawayo.
Sata must be aware that hundreds of farmers have relocated to Zambia where
they produce maize that is exported to Zimbabwe. What a nice irony that
went right over the heads of the Zanu PF chefs present at ZITF.
Visiting farms outside Harare before his departure for Bulawayo. Sata found
time to praise the performance of those VIPs who had benefited from land
seizures. But he failed to add that Zimbabwe’s people are fed from imports
from Zambia. It is a pity he wasn’t able to drive down to Bulawayo so he
could see the derelict farms on either side of the road.
It seems that it was not only President Sata who was gaffe-prone in Bulawayo
The Herald reports that President Mugabe, upon his arrival at the Joshua
Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport, took the crowd down memory lane when he
first arrived in Bulawayo as a young man. He said he admired the second
largest city, which at that time was the country’s economic epicentre.
“We could go to town and buy ourselves nice suits. My father came to
Bulawayo in 1934 and stayed for 10 years when the city had its glory. At
that time Bulawayo was the only city in the country with quality life,”
Ironically, despite Bulawayo’s fortunes having dramatically plummeted on his
watch, Mugabe was resolute in his call for fresh polls to bring his regime
back in power.
“That is why we are saying we want elections today or tomorrow so that we
can clear this mess. We want to revive Bulawayo industries to surpass their
“Now is the time to remove all the snakes on our way and ensure that
Bulawayo and the whole of Matabeleland is vibrant,” he said.
Such an utterance would have sent a shiver down many a spine. In the 1980s,
Mugabe had said: “Zapu and its leader, Dr Joshua Nkomo, are like a cobra in
a house. The only way to deal effectively with a snake is to strike and
destroy its head.”
The rest, as they say, is history!
That’s hardly what Bulawayans are looking forward to; reminders of the
horrors of the 1980s.
The Sunday Mail quotes National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman,
Lovemore Madhuku, saying some Western governments –– through their
emissaries in Harare –– had approached him to get assistance in toppling
MDC-T leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and to replace him with an
“There is a mentality throughout Western embassies that MDC-T must be led by
“They have confided in and consulted me on the best candidate to lead the
party instead of Prime Minister Tsvangirai,” he said.
Coincidentally, NewsDay reports that Madhuku has also said he will soon
relinquish his post at the NCA and venture into active party politics.
“It’s a difficult thing to do, but as soon as we get the referendum, I won’t
be there,” said Madhuku while addressing participants at a public meeting
organised by think-tank Sapes Trust in Harare last Thursday night.
“After the referendum, I don’t want to be there, I have been there for too
long. If we lose the referendum, I will not be there and I would want to
join politics after that,” Madhuku said.
Is Madhuku the “academic” he claims the West want to replace Tsvangirai
with? Only time will tell!
You have to give props to flamboyant businessman Philip Chiyangwa for his
determination to hog the limelight even if his financial fortunes seem to be
on a downward spiral.
According to High Court papers, the Daily News reports, Chiyangwa risks
losing four houses as he is failing to settle an US$8 million debt with a
Seemingly undeterred by this turn of events, Chiyangwa raised eyebrows on
Saturday evening when he pledged to donate US$1,6 million to the University
NewsDay reports that he made the pledge at a fundraising dinner organised by
DPM Arthur Mutambara and also attended by former South African President
Chiyangwa, who has also been in the news for allegedly failing to pay his
workers, stunned people who attended the dinner by offering to build a
chapel valued at US$1,6 million for the university.
“I made the commitment because I have got the money. God gives me favour
every day,” Chiyangwa said.
The garrulous Chiyangwa has been known to make fanciful promises that end up
being just that.
Four years ago, states the Daily News, Chiyangwa promised to pay fees for
hundreds of Africa University students but nothing came of it and some
students even failed to write their exams.
Last month he was at it again, this time at Midlands State University, where
he was addressing students on “Youth in entrepreneurship for economic
Flanked by an entourage of several executive members of the empowerment
outfit, Affirmative Action Group, and others from his Pinnacle Properties
Holdings, Chiyangwa made a grand entry at the university.
According to the Daily News, no sooner had he started talking than he
deviated from the topic of the day and started pursuing a new line.
Bemused students had to sit through a video about Chiyangwa entitled The
Story of a Legend.
As if that was not enough, he began asking students questions on the
Chiyangwa family. Students that got the first names of Chiyangwa’s parents
were rewarded with US$20 on the spot.
“Business and politics can never be separated. You have to be affiliated to
the correct political party and know the right people,” said a boisterous
At least Chiyangwa spells it out like it is unlike the Saviour Kasukuweres
of this world.
Meanwhile Chief Luscious Chitsinde Negomo has vowed not to give up on Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai whom he wants penalised for “marrying” in the
“sacred” month of November.
Last Wednesday, High Court judge Justice Bharat Patel nullified a default
judgment passed against Tsvangirai by Chief Negomo’s court and subsequently
erroneously upheld by a Bindura magistrate.
The chief had ordered Tsvangirai to pay two head of cattle, two sheep and a
piece of white cloth as the penalty for allegedly marrying Harare
businesswoman Lorcadia Karimatsenga Tembo in November.
The traditional leader even attempted to attach property at Tsvangirai’s
Strathaven home in Harare. Justice Patel ruled that it was legally wrong for
Chief Negomo to institute a complaint and later adjudicate it himself, and
ordered that the matter be heard afresh.
The chief’s aide, Cairo Mhandu, who also happens to be Zanu PF MP for Mazowe
North, said Chief Negomo was determined to penalise Tsvangirai for ignoring
the court’s summons and defying his court order. This is despite Tsvangirai’s
denial that he paid bride price to the Karimatsenga family, arguing he only
sent emissaries to pay damages after he impregnated Lorcadia.
All we can say is something smells fishy here.
Finally, it was great to see Zanu PF officials attending a function this
week to honour Sekai Holland’s contribution to human rights. Guests at the
function were asked to sign in, as is customary.
However, Rugare Gumbo should note, you are not supposed to keep the pen!
Thursday, 03 May 2012 16:05
SOME weeks back Indigenisation minister, Saviour Kasukuwere, was reported to
have made an allusion of himself as the modern-day Adolf Hitler. This column
contended that he was achieving, using different means, the decimation of
the economy as Hitler had done in post-1945 Germany.
However, not only has the minister assured this columnist that he never
claimed to be a modern day Hitler, but several of his colleagues have
likewise emphasised that he had been grievously misquoted. Any harm or
distress this brought to him by further disseminating the misquote is
Nevertheless, although the objectives and intentions of Hitler and
Kasukuwere had markedly different motivations, tragically the consequences
of their policies and actions are alike.
That has been reinforced by President Robert Mugabe’s statement last week
that he will not rest until 51% of each and every foreign-owned enterprise
are in the hands of indigenous Zimbabweans.
At the risk of repetition ad nauseum, it has to be said that substantive
economic indigenisation is a prerequisite for the future wellbeing of the
majority of Zimbabweans.
It is not only necessary for democracy’s sake, but is also an essential
element for the economy’s recovery.
Major economic growth will not be forthcoming without a majority of the
population being economically active. The majority’s economic wellbeing
should be able to exceed the poverty datum line.
However, that cannot be achieved when foreign investors are forced to either
pull out or transfer the controlling interest in existing enterprises to a
few well-connected people.
That cannot be a basis for any substantive economic advancement for the
majority of the population. That action merely enriches the few who are, in
most instances, already well-endowed.
Although Zimbabwe has vast potential wealth in its natural resources, it
cannot exploit them without considerable investment which is currently not
in the hands of Zimbabweans. This is coupled by a dearth in the requisite
technology as well as the technical and managerial skills.
The harsh reality is that very few people are prepared to invest their funds
and resources into ventures wherein they will have minimal control over
their investments and the utilisation thereof. They would also not know to
whom majority control will be vested, their “partners” abilities and their
Instead, they are more likely to seek for more desirable investment
opportunities elsewhere. This tragic, but understandable investor viewpoint
applies similarly to international developmental assistance, to loan funding
and supplier lines of credit. As long as government fails to recognise
that reality, the economy can only continue, at best, in its existing,
weakened and emaciated state. With time it would decline further, thereby
intensifying the misery and hardships of the masses.
The proponents of the prevailing indigenisation policies also have many
other misplaced conceptions. They dogmatically believe that their policies
are wholly justified by virtue of the national resources availed to the
They claim Zimbabwe’s absolute right and title to the resources upon which
the enterprises which are to be indigenised are dependent.
Whilst it is indisputable that the natural resources are an integral part of
Zimbabwe, the proponents of this notion ignore the fact that more often than
not the government is not even aware of those national resources, their
whereabouts and extent. Such information is generally ascertained by
intending investors at great expense.
The proponents give no recognition to the revenue inflows to the exchequer
through investors’ ventures. These include payment for prospecting rights,
mining licences and rights, income and withholding taxes as well as
royalties at far greater levels than prevail in most other countries among
many others. They also ignore the major fiscal benefits that flow from job
creation and from the downstream economic activity that emanates from such
In fairness, it must be recognised that it is not only this stance that has
repelled the desperately needed foreign and direct investment. The endless
political instability, because of the failure to fully implement the Global
Political Agreement as well as the endless disputes on the formulation of
the constitution all contribute to investor insecurity. Added to this is
the government’s continued failure to honour its obligations under the
Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements to which it is a
Similarly, taxation policies are not conducive to investment promotion,
being unduly oppressive, and uncompetitive with other countries seeking
The policies are not only extremely harsh, and involving taxes at markedly
greater levels than prevail elsewhere, but are also almost devoid of
incentives to motivate and encourage investment. This pertains to Zimbabwe’s
direct and indirect taxes, and to the many other imposts which are suffered
by private sector enterprise.
The consequences, albeit unintentional, are very similar to those of Hitler’s
rule. Vast numbers of people are suffering immensely while many die
An economy with great potential is not realising its potential. The minister
and his colleagues may not be modern-day Hitlers, but the consequences of
their policies and actions will be somewhat similar to those Hitler
inflicted upon Germany.
Thursday, 03 May 2012 15:56
THE two MDC parties in the tripartite coalition government with Zanu PF
could find themselves in a tight spot should President Robert Mugabe defy
them and regional leaders and unilaterally announce election dates before
the full implementation of the poll roadmap, including a new constitution.
Mugabe, who has labelled his inclusive government partners as “cowards” for
resisting elections this year without reforms, has said he was likely to
announce election dates this month. He has been pressuring the Select
Committee of Parliament on the new constitution (Copac) to finalise its
process, saying he wants to proclaim dates of elections this month, with or
without a new constitution.
In addition, Mugabe, who has declared he would edit out issues he does not
want from the constitution, says the principals would now take charge of the
constitution-making process to resolve disputed issues and speed up the
process towards elections.
If push comes to shove, Mugabe has warned, he would arbitrarily call for
elections in terms of the current constitution –– negating the new
constitution, which is a central element of the GPA.
If Mugabe goes ahead on elections it would create a dilemma for the two MDC
formations. The two parties would have to decide whether to contest
elections without reforms or boycott. Both options carry some opportunities
and risks, yet they are very difficult choices to make.
Observers say if the MDC parties run and lose the elections, they would have
given Mugabe a semblance of legitimacy no matter how flawed and disputed the
polls would be.
Contesting the next elections without reforms carries with it serious risks
as has been shown by past polls since the emergence of the MDC in 1999.
Elections held in 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2008 were disputed due to violence
and intimidation, as well as allegations of vote-rigging and many other
irregularities. It would, thus, be difficult for the MDC formations to
contest elections under same conditions and expect different results.
Boycotting would also have negative implications for the parties. Mugabe,
who is battling advanced age and ill-health, would probably welcome the move
by the MDC parties and soldier on to form his own government.
In the past it would have been difficult for him to do that because of the
economic meltdown and hyperinflation.
However, now Mugabe might have the guts to be defiant because the economic
environment has changed since 2008 following the introduction of the
multicurrency regime and exchange rate stabilisation. The other game-changer
has been the Chiadzwa diamonds which are firmly under Mugabe and Zanu PF
MDC-T organising secretary Nelson Chamisa, when asked about this, was
non-committal on what his party would do if Mugabe calls for elections.
However, Prime Minister Tsvangirai has said he will fight to have elections
by March 2013. He said a new constitution and other reforms should be in
place ahead of the elections, meaning his party might not participate in
polls without reforms.
National University of Science and Technology (NUST) lecturer Lawton Hikwa
said the MDC parties were in a dilemma because their demands for reforms
prior to elections may not be addressed. He said it was likely that once a
new constitution was in place, Mugabe would proclaim election dates.
Hikwa said the only wise option for the MDC groups was to participate in the
elections but the current negotiated process leading to the polls could give
them a chance to push for elections next year.
“The MDC parties are complaining about outstanding issues but the only major
reform issue that can be an impediment is the new constitution,” said Hikwa.
Political analyst Professor John Makumbe said early elections put the MDCs
in a quandary but boycotting should be their best option.
“If Tsvangirai, Ncube and other participate in elections this year, they
will be falling into Mugabe’s trap. It’s not wise to have elections this
year but then Mugabe would like such a situation where the MDC groups
boycott and then he would remain in power for the next five years by
default,” he said.
Hikwa argued Mugabe was unlikely to call for elections this year but the
government could do so and the president, in his capacity as head of state,
would then endorse that and gazette the polls date.
The MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube has said the party has not yet
adopted a position whether to participate in forced early elections or not.
The party wants elections next year after implementation of reforms.
Party spokesman Nhlanhla Dube said chances of parliamentary and presidential
elections this year were slim because of packed calendar events. He said the
referendum was likely in the third quarter of the year after the national
population census due in August. Dube said it was not possible to hold the
referendum this month as demanded by Mugabe because the draft was not yet
complete and logistical arrangements were still not in place as well.
“Zanu PF’s talk of an election this year is purely wishful thinking because
if you look at the constitution, we will have it by the third quarter of the
year, paving the way for elections early next year,” he said.
Ncube told his party supporters in Bulawayo this week that Zanu PF should
stop talking about early elections until reforms were fully implemented.
“They must not talk of elections before reforms, including stopping
repression. They must not talk of elections before they free television and
radio stations for all parties to get an opportunity to explain their
manifestos and reach the masses,” said Ncube.
Zapu spokesman Methuseli Moyo said Mugabe was desperate to frog-march
Zimbabweans to early elections before full implementation of the GPA to pave
way for chaotic and shambolic polls which he would manipulate to his
“Mugabe knows that he is going to win if he forces elections before critical
reforms; there is obviously going to be chaos across Zimbabwe. He will then
take advantage of the dramatic scenes to terrorise and outmanoeuvre his
opponents in the same way he did in June 2008 during the presidential
election run-off,” said Moyo.
“In a chaotic situation, Mugabe may simply refuse to go even if he loses. We
are dealing with a ruthless dictator who will do anything to stay in
office,” said Moyo.
Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) leader Simba Makoni said recently that early
elections were not an option. “The electoral environment should be
conducive for the holding of credible election first. MKD is deeply worried
by the prevailing political environment in which talk of elections instills
fear among the people.”
Thursday, 03 May 2012 15:41
EVEN as it claims to have at last completed its task (after a whopping 36
months!), the Constitution Select Committee, Copac, has failed to dispel the
growing public perception that it is largely a failed and wasteful exercise.
But, as it is obvious Zimbabwe does need a new constitution, we have to
consider how best to salvage a goal that has so far proved elusive. To do so
requires, in the first instance, an analysis of the problems that have
afflicted Copac itself, with the benefit, perhaps, of some comparisons with
an earlier attempt at constitution-making, namely the Constitutional
Commission of 1999/2000.
Therefore, Copac has to be evaluated in terms of three obvious and
all-inclusive criteria: conception, process and output. With respect to the
conception of Copac, the question is: to what extent has it ensured and
enhanced the integrity of the constitution-making process or raised the
profile of constitutionalism within the Zimbabwean historical and political
To be fair, Copac has been mired in controversy from the very outset in
Copac got its mandate through Article VI of the Global Political Agreement
(GPA) wherein the three political parties agreed it should lead the drafting
of a new constitution for Zimbabwe. Herein lies the first problem: a
political tri-partisanship that has proved almost fatal for Copac and in
general accounts for the incessant bickering therein, the failure to
complete work within the stipulated 12 months and the obscene budget of
For example, even as recent as March 13, it was reported out of Copac that
the lead drafters could not start work on the final version of the draft
constitution until all issues had been finally agreed by a plethora of
structures borne out of this tri-partisanship: by the three Copac co-chairs,
Select Committee of Parliament itself, Management Committee which includes
the Minister of Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs, and the three GPA
parties’ principals, President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Tsvangirai,
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.
By comparison, the Constitutional Commission was appointed on April 26,
1999, through Statutory Instrument (138A of 1999) and sworn-in on May 21,
1999. The commission’s first working plenary was held on June 18, 1999.
That plenary adopted the commission’s method of work and thematic committee
structure. The commission was directed to submit its recommendations by
November 30, 1999 and given specific terms of reference, charging it with
the responsibility to set in motion a process the outcome of which should be
a new constitution.
The commission consisted of 400 members: 150 MPs constituted the core of the
membership; and the other 250 members were drawn from the private sector and
a cross-section of civil society. An impressive leadership bureau was
appointed: the Judge President of the High Court, now Chief Justice Godfrey
Chidyausiku, was chairman of the commission, with prominent female
statesperson, Mrs Grace Lupepe, Anglican Archbishop Jonathan Siyachitema and
renowned academician, the late Professor Walter Kamba, as his deputies.
The executive committee operated within a 15-member coordination committee
chaired by Kamba and consisting of a secretariat headed by Secretary to
Cabinet, Dr Charles Utete, with his deputy then Dr Misheck Sibanda (now
Secretary to Cabinet), as the contact person; an administrative and finance
subcommittee chaired by this writer, an academic, former senior civil
servant and head of Sapes Trust; and media and public relations subcommittee
chaired by an academic, Professor Jonathan Moyo.
Included in the coordination committee were the chairs of the thematic
committees: lawyer and jurist Rita Makarau for separation of powers
(pillars of the state); Professor Heneri Dzinotyiwei for executive organs of
the state; prominent lawyer Canaan Dube for citizenship fundamental and
directive rights; academician Dr Themba Dlodlo for levels of government;
academician Professor Rudo Gaidzanwa for customary law; social and political
activist Lupi Mushayakarara for independent commissions (pillars of
democracy); prominent businessman Eric Bloch for public finance and
management; and prominent lawyer Honour Mkushi for transitional mechanisms.
Therefore, by comparison, the leadership of Copac is a pale shadow of that
of the constitutional commission: no doubt a major factor and problem
attendant to Copac. The three co-chairpersons of Copac are less than
high-profile in their respective parties and have enjoyed little or no
tangible support from both their party leaders and the Copac membership.
Poor leadership accounts in no so small measure for the obvious Copac
weaknesses and slack coordination.
This introduces the second criterion when assessing and evaluating Copac: To
what extent has the process — or the methodology — assisted in the pursuit
of producing a sound document, including the deepening of constitutionality,
through a process-based approach that is inclusive and participatory?
Of course, the latest revelations confirm there is little correlation
between the purported outreach exercise and the resultant draft
constitution. At one of the Sapes Trust’s Policy Dialogue Sessions a few
months ago, Professor Welshman Ncube asserted that, given the numerous
problems attendant to the Copac exercise, the latter would have to resort to
the ‘‘negotiation’’ method if a draft constitution was to emerge at all.
In short, Copac has so far succeeded most in affording constitution-making a
negative image. A laughing stock perhaps! But Zimbabweans in general are no
more informed about constitutionality under Copac than they were in 2000
when the draft constitution was rejected, for the wrong reasons, in that
referendum. To be fair, people have become cynical about
constitution-making, let alone about Copac.
By comparison, the constitutional commission was instructed, mandated to
gather evidence through its own organisational structures which it was free
to create, hold public hearings throughout Zimbabwe to receive oral and
written submissions and to ensure the new draft constitution would be
informed, as far as was feasibly possible, by the views of the people. The
president further informed the commission that after its submission on or
before November 30, 1999, the draft constitution would be put to the people
in a referendum and, if accepted, would be brought into force through the
appropriate Legislative Act.
On November 29, 1999, the commission submitted its report in the form of a
draft constitution to the President of Zimbabwe after it had fulfilled its
mandate within the stipulated time-frame of five months, at an (audited)
cost of US$7 280 652 (or, at that time, the equivalent of Z$297 196 900).
Indeed, Copac should have paid more attention to the work and output of the
constitutional commission. And if, as is now obvious, Copac’s output in the
form of a draft constitution remains not only tentative and incomplete after
36 months, then there is urgent need to salvage this constitution-making
process through another constitutional commission.
In other words, the constitution-making exercise has to have a legal basis
as opposed to the largely political context within which Copac was conceived
and operates. The new constitutional commission should likewise be
time-framed, no more than three months (June to August, 2012) given that a
lot of work has already been done through previous exercises, including the
NCA draft, the Kariba one and Copac itself.
In general, the model of the constitutional commission of 1999 remains the
only possible alternative to ensure Zimbabwe has a new constitution before
the next elections are held.
Mandaza, an academic, author and publisher, was an executive member of the
Constitutional Commission of 1999/2000. He is currently convener of the
Sapes Trust’s Policy Dialogue Forum.
Thursday, 03 May 2012 15:38
By Dumisani Nkomo
AS Zimbabweans we need to get past our fixation with Robert Mugabe and Zanu
PF and begin to forge a very clear path to the future characterised by
economic growth, improved service delivery, access to basic services such as
health, education, water, energy and availability of jobs, steady incomes
We should not allow hatred for individuals and personalities to cloud a
shared national vision and defined strategies of how Zimbabwe can emerge
from economic stagnation and place herself on the solid path of
socio-economic growth. Besides addressing the usual governance challenges,
we need to start reflecting on at least five critical areas or sectors which
the government and the nation should focus on in order to catalyse economic
growth and development. It may not be possible to revive many of Zimbabwe’s
ailing industries and instead more effort should be made in facilitating the
development of new, viable and competitive companies.
In building on Zimbabwe’s competitive strengths and advantages it would be
essential to focus on five primary pillars of growth namely rehabilitation
of the transport sector, development of the energy sector, the extractive
sector, water development and enhancement of the country’s fibre optic
It will be crucial to ask ourselves whether our industries are competitive
enough for the global market and make tough decisions about which sectors we
should focus on. Rapid global advancements in technology, policy
inconsistency, lack of capital and high operating costs are making it
increasingly difficult for industries in Zimbabwe to compete.
This is exacerbated by stiff competition from emerging economies such as
China, Brazil and India which have affected industries even in countries
such as the United States and Britain. In the US, for instance, computer
giant Dell had to close one of their plants and relocate it to China due to
cheaper production costs in that country.
While Britain’s post-World War II economy was heavily dependent on
manufacturing which accounted for over 40% of GDP, the current British
economy is now heavily dependent on the service industry. Competition from
China and other emerging economies has taken their toll on many economies,
resulting in these countries having to readjust their competitive advantages
to concentrate on their strengths instead of their weaknesses.
De-industrialisation is a global phenomenon.
In Zimbabwe, the big question is can we reverse the tide of
de-industrialisation? Or should the country focus on industries and sectors
that are viable and competitive globally instead of reviving collapsed ones?
The obsession to revive Bulawayo’s industries to what they were 30 years ago
is actually misplaced because some of those industries cannot survive in the
new global environment. We need to be thinking of what Bulawayo and indeed
Zimbabwe would be like in 50 years’ time and which sectors of the economy
will enable us to get there. We should not be merely occupied with reviving
old industries but organising for new frontiers. Critical questions need to
be asked about the competitiveness of industries which form pillars of our
economy and how to take advantage of our strengths. Failure to appreciate
this could lead us to invest in our weaknesses, not new opportunities and
If we fail to do so we may try and inject resources into industries that
may only be able to survive at subsistence levels or on subsidies. Yet
depending on the sector and type of company, revival of some old industries
may help economic recovery.
Some of the industries that closed down may never be able to survive in this
new global environment epitomised by phenomenal growth in technology and
automation. Nationally, whilst the operating environment may be extremely
harsh, the situation may even be more challenging globally. The introduction
of tariffs to protect local industry while being a very noble initiative
may, as Professor Tony Hawkins noted, be problematic because of trade
agreements at regional and international level. It is for this reason that I
would like to suggest that we expend our energies on what can give us the
most mileage, benefit and advantage.
Broadly Zimbabwe needs to invest in infrastructure and frameworks that
provide a solid foundation for the development. Investing in five key
strategic engines of economic growth and these five primary pillars would
then build a concrete base for the development of related and
inter-dependent industries and sectors.
Some of the critical areas include overhauling the transport sector,
exploring the potential of sustainable alternative energy sources and
development of a sound fibre optic network to boost Information
Communication Technologies (ICTs). Critically an enabling environment with
incentives for value-addition and beneficiation for the extractive sector
could unlock value in mining which can become the engine of economic growth.
Development of water sources for industrial, commercial and agricultural use
is key. Priority should also be placed on the development of tourism. We can
make it but not unless we think and do things differently.
Dumisani Nkomo is Habakkuk Trust CEO and a political analyst. He writes in
his personal capacity. Email: email@example.com ; blog
Thursday, 03 May 2012 15:36
IT might be too early to make any conclusions, but it looks quite possible
that historians will look back at President Robert Mugabe’s hour-long speech
on Independence Day two weeks ago and conclude it changed our politics
Already that dazzling speech has set in motion a political tremor that could
shake Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai off the political stage — for it is
now Mugabe who is seen as the agent of change.
Very few people expected Mugabe to speak so passionately about human rights
and the importance of guarding against their erosion. Indeed, until the
afternoon of April 18, it was easy to find fault with the way Mugabe had
responded to some of Zimbabwe’s most serious concerns.
Well-founded allegations of violence and coercion during elections had
constantly been brought to his attention and, despite the fact that these
deeply shamed Zimbabwe as a nation and caused great damage to his reputation
as a leader, action was thin on the ground.
Then on April 18 (Independence Day) he called for political tolerance in a
way that stunned his enemies and supporters alike, drastically transforming
the political landscape in Zimbabwe. Eloquent and confident, he spoke with
The importance of his message lay not so much in the significance of the
occasion as in the sincerity of his tone.
In fact, a senior MDC-T official told me soon after the president’s speech
that after listening to Mugabe he was convinced, for the first time,
Tsvangirai might never rule this country and that the inclusive government
was about as far as he had gone.
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Between now and the next
election, Zanu PF will be subjected to a rigorous and microscopic
examination. Generally, Mugabe’s party has made some achievements, not the
least the on-going indigenisation drive.
Yet some very troubling questions remain for Zanu PF. A few months ago, many
in Zanu PF, including this writer, condemned the worrying levels of
corruption, sleaze and greed currently being displayed by officials from
Tsvangirai’s party. Of course we were right in pointing this out. But there
was something very hypocritical about our criticism. We spoke of corruption
in the MDC-T as if Zanu PF itself was sanctimonious.
And it is here that Mugabe’s call for change will be tested. At the
attainment of Independence many in his government were acclaimed for their
strong belief in public service. They were well aware of the difference
between public office and private life. They put the nation ahead of self,
duty ahead of greed. In short, they did not join government so they could
Yet in the recent past we have seen public funds being used for private
purposes and, with it, the deterioration of public life. The recent
diversion of farm inputs meant for the less privileged graphically tells the
Repeatedly, money has changed hands and tenders have been awarded without
due process. National wealth has been used to benefit only a few selfish
And as those who belong to this league of shame have lived lavishly, the
entire nation has suffered. Little wonder this country is without
electricity, jobs, safe water and good roads.
Of course there are few men and women of definite integrity in Zanu PF whose
names remain uncontaminated and it would be a little unfair to paint them
with the same brush. But there is no doubt something has gone horribly wrong
with our political system. It is now incumbent on Mugabe to reverse it.
Unfortunately there is very little time remaining between now and the next
election for Mugabe to put things right. Yet a lot could still be achieved.
Mugabe needs to show some steel and get rid of ministers implicated in
corruption and there are no fewer than 20 such names. Not only have these
wicked souls done terrible damage to the party, they have destroyed this
once great nation in an almost unforgivable way.
Admittedly it might be too dangerous for Mugabe to ditch his loyalists at
this stage, but that’s a risk he will have to take for the sake of this
nation. He needs to demonstrate he is as genuine as he appeared on
Independence Day. Should he fail, he will soon be treated with contempt
again and that would be desperately sad.
Psychology Maziwisa is a Harare-based legal advisor, political commentator
T William Bango...
Mr Chairman, ladies and gentlemen, The Bornwell Chakaodza memorial lecture, to
which all of you and I have been invited, offers us an opportunity for
introspection and a chance to observe the journey we travelled together with him
during the past 32 years.
At Independence in 1980, our revolutionaries promised us a society where all can take part as equals in politics and in political debates; and where all were assured a voice and an audience without the nest of Rhodesian-type spooks and snoopers listening in for wicked purposes.
At Independence, our revolutionaries promised us a nation that guaranteed personal growth, the right of all citizens – black and white, young and old, to fashion out and to raise our arguments freely; a nation that pledged to help us to grow our skills based on equal opportunities; and a nation poised to expose our real personalities. The promise was to be premised on free speech, before and after delivery, as a way to build, to be happy, to shun narrow-mindedness and injustice; and to fight corruption.
Great promises, indeed. But they never saw the light of day!
The organisers of this occasion could, perhaps, have chosen to celebrate Chakaodza’s memory for something else other than the fight for media freedom if the promises of 1980 were honoured. We could all be in a totally different country with a level of advancement unmatched, certainly, in Africa.
Celebrated writer Dambudzo Marechera was unfortunate to become one of the first casualties of what was to come. Marechera was roughed up and detained early 1983 when he questioned the size and length of the official motorcade as one of our nation’s new leaders arrived at the Kingston’s Bookshop in the then corner of what is now Jason Moyo Avenue and Second Street for the official opening of the Zimbabwe International Book Fair.
In a usual style, Marechera pronounced his disgust, on top of his voice while standing at the entrance to the building: “What kind of democratic leader is this? Why should a popular leader need such a security wall around him?” Although he lived in Harare Gardens at the time, on this day he spent a night as a guest of the state at Harare Central Police Station.
The Minister of Information and Tourism then quickly withdrew Marechera’s accreditation card and declared him an “an enemy newsman”.
Two years later, Gordon Matatu, suffered a similar fate after his story highlighted state excesses in an attempt to contain rebels in western Zimbabwe.
Both Marechera and Matatu continued to write and to work for their publications, nevertheless. The only disadvantage they faced was that they were no longer allowed into government buildings and at government functions where an accreditation card was always demanded as some kind of journalistic passport.
Their colleagues could always record, on tape what happened there and pass on the material to them, making the whole exercise total futile and ineffectual. So much for official media regulation!
But those journalists whose ancestry was deemed foreign simply because they happened to be white, including Aubrey McDowell, the Deputy Editor of The Herald and Bill Hipson, the paper’s crime reporter, and Jan Raath, then working for The Times of London, were initially detained and later deported. Jan Raath returned home soon afterwards, but Aubrey and Bill never set foot on Zimbabwean soil again.
It dawned on all of us, during these early years of freedom, that ordinary people and their media representatives, in their diversity, were never actually meant to be part of our national discussions as we had been promised at the beginning.
What later happened to Willie Musarurwa, Henry Muradzikwa, Geoff Nyarota and Davison Maruziva, Nyika Bara and Robin Shava, to name a few, during the first decade of a new Zimbabwe, and dozens of others, in subsequent years, are well known cases.
As Adam Smith stated in Theory of Moral Sentiment, 1759, one needs leather shoes and starched white shirt to be taken seriously at a political meeting, meaning one what has to combine substance and means to be heard. Because of their poverty and lack of leather shoes and starched white shirts soon after attaining their freedom in 1980, the people of Zimbabwe sincerely looked up to the media as their messenger and protector.
When the media came under attack, they people lost out.
At the time Zimbabweans were too either busy picking up the pieces scattered by the liberation war; to rebuild their lives; or, in the case of Matabeleland, they were totally confused about a new political hurricane that had hit them, in the form of black-on-black oppression; and were just too weak to raise their heads.
In any case, no-one was prepared to listen to them anyway, least those in authority.
By the year 2000, the whole country watched with horror when those who, for two decades, had subjected the people to a raw deal suddenly
turned into aristocratic snobs, in rare show of unity against anything that moved in the opposite direction. The results are clear to all today.
The few villagers who landed on small pieces of fresh earth as lucky settlers are always the first ones to call for food assistance. They neither have schools nor roads leading to their mud shacks and rudimentary shelters, 12 years after their supposedly and newly found treasure.
In the decade I have been away from mainstream journalism, I have come to realise that the elite have succeeded in dividing Zimbabwean journalists and, by extension, the society they are supposed to survey, as a survival mechanism.
I sincerely believe and subscribe to the contemporary and universal view that government ministries of information should be disbanded and turned into repositories of public records. As regulatory authorities, together with their side-kicks such as the Zimbabwe Media Commission and others, their performance history leaves a sour taste in the mouth.
Ladies and gentleman, a visitor to Zimbabwe today can easily be excused, upon reading local newspapers or listening to any radio news bulletin or watching television, to assume that the country has two or more governments on the verge of a war.
There appears to be a general portrayal of two societies baying for each other’s demise; societies led by two different national leaders with separate governments.
A picture is often painted showing the two countries rolling apart, with leaders trying to outdo each other at the earliest opportunity. A lot of this confusion appears to be deliberate as message conflicts take centre stage.
The material which is supposed to fall under the definition of news, commentary and analysis in our crowded media market today, including that which is available on a large bouquet of Internet sites and blog-spots, is so speckled and mottled at best, and totally puzzling, at worst.
What stands out of this potpourri of discordant voices are intolerance; open bias and sloppy editing; inadequate news sourcing; a weak ethical string; and a strong reliance on a select, heavily soiled and desperate coterie of partisan “analysts”.
The people are often talked to; they are coached on what to say; they driven into the kind of action they least understand, including – for example – being forced to sign documents, officially known as petitions against our perceived enemies!
As a result, the combined collection of what it means to be a Zimbabwean appears to have been lost in the mire of political propaganda and misinformation, camouflaged as journalism out of fear of official censure.
Sadly this is happening at a time when the professional communicator faces a dilemma caused by the ends of gaps s/he is expected to bridge through journalism.
The scenery is changing so rapidly, requiring constant adaptation to an equally changing body of knowledge a communicator must use to remain relevant, again, to an equally changing expectations of a society s/he must serve.
The scenery before us makes official regulation and enforcement of rules and codes hatched elsewhere to act as a midwife, referee or general supervisor of today’s information flows, totally impossible and unnecessary.
Official regulators enforce compliance, declare and manage penalties, ensure the delivery of obligations and impose levies and duties.
Unlike the media, they are not interested in public service. That journalism whose core mission is centred on public service is supposed to co-exist with such a regulatory craft, industry meant to enforce conformity at the slightest opportunity, beggars belief!
Official regulators define and restrict liberty and freedoms out of their job description; they always use force and the law in their daily routines; and can even ban speech or kill journalism at the drop of a hat. They are mandated to cite regulations or the law in their actions; yet edicts or laws – on their own cannot think!
Communication demands thinking; speaking, as an activity, reflects our thoughts.
These restrictions are rarely imposed on a nation’s enemies in times of war; they are used on a country’s own people, in the interests of a privileged interest group. This undoubtedly, as Bornwell Chakaodza often pointed out, inflicts deadly blows on, and directs poisoned arrows at the heart of the quality of life in a democracy.
Official regulators are normally selective on which approach to deploy, and when to attack. As we saw in the last decade, the choice of methods for procuring compliance was biased and highly partisan, leading to the immense suffering of hundreds of workers and their families associated with the privately owned media.
To make matters worse, those appointed to hold the hangman’s noose were rarely independent, whether that independence is enshrined in law or through some statutory edicts. Their assigned responsibilities could never match voluntary, publicly contracted accountability and sensitivity centred on broader customer satisfaction and genuine public service.
Chakaodza and his colleagues subscribed to the view that public and inter-personal communication and self-expression enhance our common
humanity. Freedom of expression, as a natural right, can never policed by a paid officer – who is normally a societal misfit and a failure -- under the direction of social and political engineer.
Over centuries societies understand that self-expression and messaging, through human, can easily become inhumane if deemed to threaten specific interests and sectored privileges. In our case, regulated forms of communication and journalism have tended to take on our reality and our generic rights.
When communication becomes inhumane, there is a universal ethic -- straddling across cultures – that sees such behaviour running against
the grain of common sense and common decency. It distorts our values, impairs our vision and directs poison at our sensitive aspects of dignity and self-esteem.
The essence of good journalism is, and has always been, unfettered publicity. If the stimulus for professional growth through journalism is right, and I believe Zimbabwe is still a huge story, official media regulation and subtle censorship are the main impediments to professional advancement and quality service.
Gone are days when secrecy was the hallmark of good government. The extensive menu of controls to protect state secrets, known to shackle women and men of ordinary nerve as a public control mechanism, has outlived its usefulness.
With the current digital revolution, the place of lily-livered and pliant stenographers of the elite who masquerade as journalists is fast fading as people search for alternative views using the new communication tools at their disposal.
With our experience in Smith’s Rhodesia, where faith, trust and confidence in the public media was next to zero, we never expected a new Zimbabwean leadership to be persuaded to follow Rhodesian information control systems. Well, that is the contradiction of African nationalism.
It fights hard against the oppressor using the need for a system change as a rallying cry, only to embrace the oppressor’s governance template upon victory. When nationalism adopts an oppressor’s model, common sense instantly ceases to be common.
The result is a national story that differed substantially from the reality.
For that reason, there continues to exist a huge disconnect between what the power elites want to see and hear and what ordinary people witness, see and hear in their homes and in their communities. Chakaodza and most of us here today are still yearning for a day and time when the clouds could clear for media professionals to be allowed to seize control of their professional lives without official hindrance.
The complex sets of struggles within our nation have often been blurred, as personal and community experiences remain buried deep inside our chests, out of genuine fears of potential retribution and official censure, merely for speaking out.
Un-muffling the African drum as a traditional communication tool; standing up to official and deliberate distortions of reality; and to be guided by common sense and common decency are among the numerous values that guided Chakaodza, through his work.
Chakaodza believed in his chosen role as early warning sounding board for dangers along Zimbabwe’s path.
Through official controls Zimbabwe lost a golden chance to develop a national publication of record in a nation in the making, and in nation that was, and still is, facing its most trying time. A heavily polarised media environment has since sunk in, making it difficult for consumers to separate biased opinion from sacred fact.
Through a surfeit of stories and incisive opinions and academic policy papers, Chakaodza and dozens of professional colleagues of his generation fought tirelessly for journalistic excellence, resulting in the formation of the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe.
The rallying point maintained by Chakaodza has always been the need for a media service that is totally free of official, business and elite interference and meddling.
With a number of colleagues, Chakaodza spearheaded the formation of a voluntary media council out of a strong belief that the media was just
as reasonable and responsible to manage itself and to be guided by a shared definition of what constitutes legitimate public interest.
The media, in their view, had a cardinal public duty and obligation to pursue the ideals of truth-telling, honesty and fairness as openly as possible while constantly avoiding a potential collision at any intersection of these ideals with the potential to inflict harm on innocent individuals and to society at large.
An accountable media must be anchored to a culturally defined covenant with the people for it to be able to renew and to review its public performance and public behaviour.
With the public interest in mind, perhaps the time has come for voluntary media councils to undertake system, performance and quality control audits of their members to show their seriousness.
Such a media is likely to grow and insist on specific norms and standards to enhance its credibility. Relevance on the media market is determined by behaviour, a clearly spelt out public service mission and public sensitivity.
Only a robust voluntary media council, keen to strengthen democracy through open debates and discussion, would help its members to meet
Effective voluntary media councils always go beyond the “Agony Aunt” syndrome neither are they mere reception areas for protests, or storerooms of public grievances and corporate complaints.
Effective media councils assist the industry and its professionals to understand the overwhelming impact of their soft power on the innocent, the voiceless and the vulnerable.
They could work as additional circulation builders through the publication of regular, transparent ratings of the conduct of their members.
Voluntary media councils, in concert and in consultation with the people, must lead their constituencies in defining what is both human and humane. Such councils must be entirely voluntary: this means they should never come into being because of threats of statutory regulation.
Being totally voluntary would enable such councils to play a down-to-business role; to monitor and assess media standards; to mediate on fall-outs; to lobby for a conducive operating environment; and even to train and, even to discipline, their members.
They must be impartial, non-partisan and professional; enjoying public trust and public confidence.
We owe it to Chakaodza and his colleagues to overcome the burden of official media regulation in order to allow the people to do their business in an open and honest environment.