by Sebastian Nyamhangambiri Friday 07 May 2010
HARARE – A Harare magistrate on Thursday postponed trial of mayor Muchadeyi
Masunda and eight councillors charged with criminal defamation to month-end
to allow the High Court to make a ruling on whether the nine council
officials were properly placed on remand.
The nine council officials’ defamation charges arise from allegations of
“leaking or publishing” a report implicating businessman Philip Chiyangwa in
a scandal that saw him acquire council land without following procedure.
“We seek the provisional postponement of the trial to 26 May. The defence
has filed for a review of the placing of the accused on remand. Until the
determination (by the High Court) is made we cannot resume trial,” said
Benson Taruvinga, from the Attorney General’s office to magistrate Olivia
Mariga, before a full courtroom.
Defence lawyer Happias Zhou told ZimOnline that he had filed an application
with the High Court to review Mariga’s decision to place the nine council
officials on remand.
“We want the magistrate’s decision quashed because it was unreasonable and
irrational,” said Zhou.
Four journalists from the local Standard newspaper – editor-in-chief Vincent
Kahiya, editor Nevanji Madanhire and reporters Jeniffer Dube and Feluna
Nleya who co-authored the story that exposed the land scandal that had been
exposed by the Harare City Council’s special committee on land attended the
court after they were summoned to be state witnesses.
The journalists quoted a special land investigations report on Chiyangwa’s
The state alleges that the nine council officials leaked a report which was
published in May by The Standard, a local newspaper, and The Sunday Times of
South Africa and which portrayed Chiyangwa, a relative of President Robert
Mugabe, as a “fraudster”.
Incensed by the contents of the report Chiyangwa has since sued both council
and The Standard newspaper for a whooping US$900 million saying he had
suffered losses to his companies and damages to his reputation because of
the council report.
The 54-page report compiled by a committee of Harare city councilors alleges
that Chiyangwa and Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo – another
relative of Mugabe and senior member of ZANU PF party – with assistance of
two council employees, illegally grabbed vast tracts of prime land from the
city on the cheap. – ZimOnline
by Tafadzwa Mutasa Friday 07 May 2010
HARARE - A proposed plan by United States (US) lawmakers to soften sanctions
on Zimbabwe's political leadership and back reformists in the Harare
coalition government could stoke fresh tensions and widen divisions in the
fragile unity government that is already battling to reach consensus on key
policy issues, analysts told ZimOnline.
Some US Senators are seeking to amend the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic
Recovery Act (ZIDERA) of 2001 - the law that imposed visa and financial
sanctions on President Robert Mugabe and his top allies -- by maintaining
the punitive measures on hardliners opposed to political reform, while
rewarding ministries controlled by reformers.
The proposed amendments to ZIDERA allow for Zimbabwe to access funding from
multilateral institutions like the International Monetary Fund and World
Bank to go towards food security, health, education and infrastructure
development and becoming eligible for debt relief.
Political analysts said if the changes are passed into law, most of the
support would likely go to ministries headed by Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party officials, with
those led by President Robert Mugabe's allies left in the lurch.
Carrot and stick
"I think that is the natural thing to do, you can not reward those who are
forever opposed to reforms to take this country's forward," John Makumbe, a
longtime University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer said.
"The Americans have realised they need to be pragmatic but at the same time
use a carrot and stick approach where good behaviour is rewarded," said
Zimbabwe's unity government has failed to get the $10 billion it says it
needs from foreign donors to rebuild an economy shattered by a decade of
collapse due to slow political, economic and media reforms.
The West has continued to maintain sanctions on Mugabe's backers and has
withheld direct budgetary aid to Zimbabwe, accusing the 86-year-old leader
of blocking progress in fully implementing a September 2008 political
This forced Finance Minister Tendai Biti last month to warn that economic
growth was likely to be slower than anticipated this year and that the
country would have to rely on its resources to plug an $800 million budget
But that could change if the Zimbabwe Transition to Democracy and Economic
Recovery Bill, which is being sponsored by two Senators from President
Barack Obama's Democratic Party and one Republican Senator, is signed into
The Senators argue that ZIDERA should be amended to reflect the transitional
government and allow for debt forgiveness and restart multilateral
Zimbabwe has nearly $6 billion in foreign debt and has defaulted several
times on its arrears. Biti says Zimbabwe is unable to meet its external
obligations and would need debt relief.
"I think there is a realisation within the American political system that
continuing with the sanctions instrument in its current form will not help
achieve the desired goal of bringing democratic change to Zimbabwe," Eldred
Masunungure, chairman of Mass Public Opinion said.
"But there is an inherent problem because ZANU-PF will cry foul and accuse
United States of indirectly funding the MDC. They need to tread carefully
there, it's a dangerous terrain that could easily become another point of
conflict," said Masunungure.
Mugabe and Tsvangirai are locked in a dispute over power-sharing, with the
MDC accusing Mugabe of illegally appointing the central bank governor and
attorney general and refusing to appoint its treasurer-general as deputy
agriculture minister and five MDC officials as provincial governors.
Mugabe, who clung to power after losing to Tsvangirai in March 2008 and has
ruled the country since independence from Britain in 1980, has vowed not to
budge to the MDC demands, saying instead the former opposition party should
vigorously campaign for the immediate removal of Western sanctions and
closure of "pirate" radio stations broadcasting into Zimbabwe.
Yesterday Tsvangirai told journalists at a World Economic Forum summit in
Tanzania that the travel ban should be lifted adding that it did not make
sense that only members of his MDC were welcome in Western capitals while
Mugabe's officials were banned.
Helping MDC campaign
The state-run Herald newspaper, for long used by ZANU-PF as the party's
mouthpiece, was yesterday quick to say the amendments to ZIDERA were an
excuse to funnel money to the MDC, which ended ZANU-PF's parliamentary
majority in 2008.
"The statement from the US Congress clearly shows that they want to fund the
MDC-T. It is a form of helping them campaign ahead of the elections and it
is against the law," the quoted an unnamed government official as saying.
The MDC says Mugabe's hard line powerbase in ZANU-PF is frustrating
democratic reforms, including depoliticising state security agents and the
writing of a new constitution that should lead to fresh elections next
year. - ZimOnline.
Solar Solutions Managing Director Nyikadzino Gonese said the company started
selling the phones this week as a solution to chronic and widespread power
shortages and lack of electricity in many rural communities.
Gibbs Dube | Washington 06 May 2010
Zimbabwe company Solar Solutions Africa has launched distribution of
solar-powered mobile phones in the country's fast-growing telecoms sector,
tapping consumer frustration with chronic power outages.
Solar Solutions Managing Director Nyikadzino Gonese said the company started
selling the phones this week as a solution to frequent and widespread power
shortages and the lack of electricity in rural communities.
Gonese told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that the mobile device called
Commtiva costs about US$50 and is designed to keep working whether or not
electric power is available, though it can charge from a wall socket.
Solar Solutions hopes to push thousands of the mobile phones into urban and
rural markets, also seeking volume deals with the country's mobile providers
to offer the phone to their subscribers.
Electric power outages have continually grown more severe in Zimbabwe as the
country's power-generation plants have broken down for lack of maintenance
and refurbishment, and some neighboring countries will no longer sell power
to Zimbabwe because it has not settled its arrears for past supplies.
Thursday, 06 May 2010 23:58
SADC chairperson President Joseph Kabila of the Democratic Republic of Congo
has intervened in the current dispute between the three political parties in
the inclusive government over outstanding issues of the Global Political
Agreement which regional facilitator, South African President Jacob Zuma,
has been grappling with.
Kabila sent an envoy to Harare to press President Robert Mugabe, Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara to
implement the agreement which led to the formation of the inclusive
government last year and resolve outstanding issues.
His intervention brings to a head Sadc's diplomatic efforts to resolve
Zimbabwe's decade-long political crisis which has seized regional leaders
for years now.
Kabila's intervention came as the Zanu PF politburo rejected a proposal to
appoint deputy Agriculture minister Roy Bennett to another ministry to
resolve the current dispute over the issue.
Kabila dispatched his envoy in charge of special Sadc affairs, Leon Jean
Ilunga Ngandu, to Harare yesterday to step up pressure on the parties to
finalise negotiations and implement the GPA in full. Ngandu yesterday met
separately with MDC-T and Zanu PF negotiating teams and is today expected to
meet with the MDC-M to discuss the current GPA situation.
Sources said Ngandu is here to find out what progress has been made in
implementing what the three parties in the unity government have agreed on
and also to push them to bring to finality the outstanding issues.
During yesterday's meetings, sources said, he indicated that Kabila was
concerned with the slow pace in implementing the GPA and concluding the
outstanding issues. Kabila, whose tenure as Sadc chair ends in September, is
keen to see the three parties quickly resolve all the remaining issues.
"They discussed the current situation in government and issues agreed upon
and those that are remaining. President Kabila is not happy with the current
slow pace of negotiations and implementation of GPA issues," said a source.
Ngandu and the Zanu PF and MDC-T negotiators discussed outstanding issues
including the swearing in of Bennett, appointments of provincial governors,
the Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana,
Mugabe being the only chair of cabinet, criteria for determining heroes,
Tsvangirai's transport arrangements, security reforms, and review of
ministerial allocations and mandates.
Also discussed extensively was the removal of sanctions by the West. The
three parties have set up a government delegation to plead for the removal
of sanctions. The delegation had to postpone its meeting with the European
Union last month after flights were grounded because of the Iceland volcanic
Meanwhile, the Zanu PF politburo rejected the proposal to move Bennett to
another ministry ahead of a High Court ruling on Monday on whether to put
him on his defence or acquit him on charges of illegal possession of arms
for the purposes of committing acts of terrorism, banditry, sabotage and
The politburo agreed at a meeting last week after chief negotiator Patrick
Chinamasa presented a report on the inter-party talks that it would never
compromise on the Bennett issue as long as he is facing criminal charges and
he would only be allowed to join government if he is cleared by the courts.
It also did not move from its hard stance on issues including the
appointments of Gono and Tomana, chairing of cabinet, criteria for
determining heroes and Tsvangirai's transport arrangements.
MDC-M had proposed as a compromise that Bennett be moved to another
portfolio, which MDC-T accepted but Zanu PF indicated in a report presented
to the Principals and South African facilitators early last month that it
would consult the party on the matter.
According to the report, MDC-M negotiators Professor Welshman Ncube and
Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga suggested that Bennett should be sworn in as
deputy minister of any other ministry besides agriculture and lands without
having to wait for the outcome of the criminal trial.
However, after extensive discussion by the politburo, Zanu PF spokesperson
Rugare Gumbo told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that: "We discussed the
Bennett issue and took a position that since he is facing criminal charges,
he should not be sworn-in until these charges are cleared. There was a
suggestion that he should be moved to another ministry. We shot that
recommendation down. It is not right to swear him in when he is facing
Zanu PF's position is that MDC-T should nominate an acting deputy minister
until such a time as Bennett's criminal charges are finalised and that if he
is cleared he could then be sworn in.
On the other hand, the MDC-T had always said there was no legal or valid
reason for Mugabe to refuse to swear in Bennett as Deputy Ariculture
In its argument, it said the GPA did not give any party the power of veto
over a nominee of another party in a ministerial appointment.
Bennett, who returned to Zimbabwe in January 2009 after spending nearly two
years in exile in South Africa, was arrested on February 13 last year, the
day he was supposed to be sworn in.
The politburo also rebuffed calls by MDC-T for a motorcade with police
escort for Tsvangirai, arguing that he was junior to Vice-Presidents John
Nkomo and Joice Mujuru, who did not have motorcades.
"The issue of the Prime Minister's motorcade was brought to the politburo
and our view was that the Prime Minister could not have a motorcade because
the Vice-Presidents, who are in terms of structure above him, do not have.
It can cause problems - so that was shot down," Gumbo said.
Currently, Tsvangirai's motorcade has five cars, three Toyota Landcruisers,
a Mercedes Benz S340 and Double Cab Toyota Hilux, while Mugabe moves around
with a convoy of more than 10 cars, an ambulance that is equipped to be a
mobile hospital, two truckloads of heavily armed soldiers with AK47s and
On the Land Audit, the politburo also rejected a proposal by the European
Union to provide experts for the constitution-making process and land audit.
"The EU wants to send experts for the constitution-making process and land
audit, which we shot down. The constitution-making process must remain
Zimbabwean and we have not asked for any experts and we will not allow
experts from the EU to come here. We have our own experts," said Gumbo.
On the chairing of cabinet by the premier when Mugabe is away, Gumbo said it
was not an issue because the acting president chaired in his absence and not
Tsvangirai, who chairs the council of ministers.
Thursday, 06 May 2010 23:44
PUBLIC Service minister Eliphas Mukonoweshuro yesterday openly attacked
Finance minister Tendai Biti (pictured) and sided with Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai over the civil service salary freeze saga, a development
signifying the deepening of MDC-T infighting.
Mukonoweshuro told journalists in Harare that there was no government policy
to freeze civil servants' salaries. This contradicted assertions by Biti
that the government had no "capacity to pay its workers" more than what it
was already offering.
Mukonoweshuro's statement meant that the MDC-T government members have
contradicted each other three times on the same issue within a week.
Tsvangirai said as far as he was concerned government had not taken a
position on freezing civil servants' salaries.
"I would like to state unequivocally that the Prime Minister has spoken most
definitely and conclusively on the issue of civil service remuneration.
There is no government policy to freeze civil servants' salaries at
present," said Mukonoweshuro. "That is the position of the government which
at the moment is cast in stone."
Mukonoweshuro, whose ministry is in charge of the bulk of civil servants,
said Tsvangirai as the leader of government, had the last word on government
policy issues and should not be challenged by other members of government.
The policy flip-flop by MDC-T government members started with Biti's salary
freeze announcement on April 15.
On Workers Day, Tsvangirai, a former trade unionist, told workers gathered
for May Day commemorations that the salary freeze was not government policy.
Biti again on Tuesday reiterated that despite Tsvangirai's statement,
government had no money to increase salaries.
Mukonoweshuro yesterday accused Biti of behaving like a "super minister"
with a tendency of taking over other ministers' mandates.
"This government does not operate on the basis of "super ministers who may
frequently arrogate to themselves responsibilities that are neither in their
present province of competence nor designated mandate," said Mukonoweshuro,
in a clear reference to Biti.
Civil servants have threatened job action if the government fails to
increase salaries and conditions, and have said they are giving the
government time to negotiate salaries commensurate with the poverty datum
line which is at US$492.
The lowest paid civil servant earns around US$165 a month while the highest
paid gets US$250.
Mukonoweshuro, who is a close political advisor to Tsvangirai, said cabinet
ministers should not intrude into each other's portfolios as this could
cause confusion. "Every ministry receives a subvention from the treasury but
that does not mean that the minister in charge of the treasury can make
statements with regards to others. There was no such discussion in cabinet
over that issue," he said. Mukonoweshuro said the government had set up
three committees to look into the issue of civil servants' salaries and
conditions of service.
He said the Cabinet Committee on Resource Mobilisation chaired by Deputy
Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe was mandated with mobilising additional
"The second process is the setting up of a Cabinet Committee on Cost Drivers
chaired by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara. This committee is
mandated to look at all areas that routinely trigger rises in the cost of
living," he said.
Mukonoweshuro said the cabinet had set up an Inter-Ministerial Advisory
Committee chaired by Welshman Ncube, the Minister of Industry and Commerce,
to monitor all aspects of civil service salaries and conditions of service
which would report regularly to cabinet.
"This coming week, this committee (chaired by Ncube) will be engaging the
leaders of civil service unions to jointly review the situation and make
firm recommendations to government," he said.
Government employs approximately 290 000 civil servants and Mukonoweshuro's
ministry caters for about 192 000 employees who fall under the Public
Service Commission and the Health Services Board.
The other 98 000 are members of the defence forces and police and prison
officers who are paid through the Security Services Board and are barred
from embarking on strikes.
Thursday, 06 May 2010 23:40
PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday said his country no longer posed
a risk to investors and that the political crisis that destroyed the economy
“no longer exists”.
“The perceived risk on Zimbabwe does no longer exist... what country in
Africa is risk-free?” Tsvangirai told reporters on the sidelines of the
World Economic Forum on Africa.
“Zimbabwe is ready to do business. If Africa’s time has come for investment
then Zimbabwe cannot miss the boat. It must be part of that opportunity,” he
The southern Africa country is still struggling to recover from economic
collapse and a protracted political crisis that followed its disputed 2008
elections pitting then opposition chief Tsvangirai against President Robert
The two men formed a power-sharing government last year in which Tsvangirai
became prime minister, but it has been beset by political differences.
“The political crisis... no longer exists. The country is making progress
and it is time investors started looking at Zimbabwe from a different
perspective,” Tsvangirai said.
Tsvangirai said he would not enter a coalition government again, but said it
was “necessary” to work with Mugabe because the country had to undergo a
transition after the disputed elections.
“I think it is a very painful exercise... It is painful in so far as every
day you are negotiating.
“Would I do this again? I don’t think so. I think it is a bad precedent.
“It would be unfortunate if the next election is conducted in an atmosphere
of violence, in an atmosphere of undermining the mandate of the people,”
said the premier, who pulled out of the second round presidential run-off
poll because of violence against his supporters.
Tsvangirai is one of 11 African leaders gathered in Dar Es Salaam for the
WEF to discuss the continent’s strategies in the wake of the global
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara called for the complete lifting of
Western sanctions against Mugabe and his inner circle.
“We are calling for the total, unequivocal removal of all sanctions,” he
said, arguing that “capital is a coward” as no business would invest in
Zimbabwe if the country’s top officials are targeted by sanctions.
“The intended target is the individual but the impact of the sanctions is
the entire economy. No lines of credit, no investors. The brand of the
country is damaged.” — AP.
Thursday, 06 May 2010 23:33
NEGOTIATORS and facilitators of talks on outstanding issues of the Global
Political Agreement (GPA) have raised concerns that Zimbabwe’s political
principals were hindering progress by failing to implement issues already
In private briefings with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, negotiators
and facilitators said President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara were dragging their
heels on issues already resolved and complicating the situation.
Negotiators in the talks include Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche for
Zanu PF, Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma for the MDC-T, and Welshman Ncube and
Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga for the MDC-M.
One negotiator said if Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara acted fast on
implementation, the process would significantly move forward and there would
effectively be few issues left to be dealt with.
“We have agreed on a number of issues and wrote a document on the
implementation matrix which was part of the report submitted to the
principals early last month,” one negotiator said. “However, the principals
have done nothing so far to implement issues agreed upon,”
Other negotiators said they had been talking since November 5 last year and
when they closed negotiations on April 3, they expected the principals to
expeditiously implement the latest issues agreed upon.
South African President Jacob Zuma’s facilitators are also not happy with
the pace with which principals are moving. Zuma’s facilitators include
Charles Nqakula, Mac Maharaj and Lindiwe Zulu.
“We are not happy with the slow pace of talks and implementation,” one of
the facilitators said last night.
“We would like to see movement and this means that issues agreed upon have
to be implemented, while we continue to deal with outstanding issues.”
Tsvangirai on Monday confirmed that even though the principals received the
final talks report weeks ago, they have not yet met to discuss issues
referred to them by the negotiators or to work out implementation of
The facilitators, who have been shuttling between Pretoria and Harare since
November last year, met with Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutamabra last week to
press them to implement the GPA in full and resolve remaining issues.
Some of the issues which principals are not dealing with although they were
referred to them by negotiators include outstanding agenda items and matters
which now only need implementation.
A document titled Implementation Matrix, which is part of the latest talks
report, outlines issues which negotiators have agreed upon and await
implementation and those that they referred to the principals.
The document says principals and the facilitators must now deal with
unresolved issues which include the swearing-in of Roy Bennett, appointment
of provincial governors, and of Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and Reserve
Bank governor Gideon Gono.
The Implementation Matrix document says that “the facilitator and principals
must seek ways and means of resolving these issues”.
On the governors, the document says negotiators say they have agreed on the
formula to share governors and what only remains is who gets five appointees
or four plus a minister between Zanu PF and the MDC-T. It says principals
must sort this out and appoint new governors and swear them in.
The document states that the issue of sanctions has also been agreed upon
and the principals should act. It says the principals must agree on a “work
plan to remove sanctions”. The principals are required to hold a press
conference and issue a statement committing themselves to the lifting of
“The principals to the GPA should meet and consider the issuance of a
statement and the convening of a press conference restating commitment to
the GPA, and the removal of sanctions in the context of Article IV of the
GPA and the implementation and execution of a consistent message on the
question of sanctions,” the negotiators said. “The spokespersons of each of
the parties to consistently make statements re-affirming the message which
would have been conveyed by the principals.”
Apart from sanctions, there is also agreement on media issues, including
public media reforms, hate speech and bias in the media, external radio
stations and land issues (audit and tenure systems) but the principals were
not acting. There is also an agreement on cabinet and Council of Ministers,
National Economic Council, amendments to the Electoral Act, the role of
NGOs, freedom of assembly and association and external interference but
principals have balked on implementation.
The document further states principals must resolve issues related to the
framework of government, which include the chairing of cabinet, ministerial
mandates, transport arrangements for the principals, staff and security of
principals, communication among principals, security of deputy prime
ministers, security for ministers, parallel government, national heroes and
the role of Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba.
Thursday, 06 May 2010 23:27
MEDIA, Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu has attacked
inter-party negotiators over public media reforms in a move which betrayed
his growing fear of losing control of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation
(ZBC) and Zimpapers.
Shamu's remarks also demonstrate divisions within Zanu PF over the need to
reform the partisan public media to ensure they operate independently of his
ministry and in the public interest.
The Zimbabwe Independent reported in December that Zanu PF was divided over
media reforms and Shamu's remarks this week confirmed this.
The Information ministry has a long history of blatant interference at ZBC
and Zimpapers. The two companies have been turned into exclusive propaganda
mouthpieces for Zanu PF despite being public media which should serve the
diverse interests of Zimbabweans.
The ministry's meddling in Zimpapers has been widely described as unlawful
since the newspaper chain is a public listed company with its own directors
and shareholders. The dysfunctional Mass Media Trust holds 51% on behalf of
the Zimbabwean public. The remaining 49% is owned by different shareholders.
In a move which shocked those supporting the democratic and media reform
agenda, Shamu publicly said he was opposed to the current public media
changes. Delivering a speech to mark World Press Freedom Day on Monday,
Shamu, who is also Zanu PF secretary for the commissariat, described the
reforms already agreed to by Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC-M negotiators as "one
giant step backwards".
"I am quite appalled by proposals on the media which are being suggested by
our negotiators under the GPA. Their present proposals which fortunately for
us, are still to be debated by principals, are one giant step backwards in
terms of freeing the media and improving working environment for
journalists," he said.
Negotiators Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche (Zanu PF), Tendai Biti and
Elton Mangoma (MDC-T) and Welshman Ncube and Priscillah
Misihairabwi-Mushonga (MDC-M) last month agreed on significant changes on
how ZBC and Zimpapers should operate.
Shamu and like-minded Zanu PF officials are opposed to the reforms because
he will be left redundant if his interference in ZBC and Zimpapers is
Some of the reforms which were agreed to by the negotiators are contained in
the latest report on talks and include:
* ZBC shall be converted into a public broadcaster with an independent
board appointed by the president from a list given to him by the SROC of
Parliament under provisions to be developed by the parties and which shall
be similar to those relating to ZEC, the Human Rights Commission and the
Media Commission. (subject to consultation on the appointment of members)
* The board shall be responsible for the general management and running
* The Mass Media Trust Board of Trustees shall be immediately
reconstituted in terms of the provisions of the Trust Deed.
* The Board of Trustees should thereafter play its role and exercise the
powers vested in it in terms of the Trust Deed.
* That the Deed of Trust be available to the negotiators and thereafter
further discussions to take place on how the Board could be reconstituted in
an inclusive manner consistent with the Trust Deed.
While progressive media groups and journalists welcomed the proposed
changes, Shamu claimed they were "divisive and discriminatory".
"They undermine the work of constitutional bodies put in place to regulate
media issues. They undermine my ministry by seeking to relocate its
functions to these negotiators. Above all they go against the foundational
principle of freeing the media from political meddling and control. We do
not support these proposals and have made it known", he said.
Ncube defended the reforms, saying the three principals to the GPA,
President Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Mutambara would
implement the changes which were endorsed by all the negotiators.
"There are no proposals on media reforms from the negotiators," said Ncube.
"These are agreements which were made by all the three parities to the
Global Political Agreement and if anyone thinks otherwise, they are gravely
mistaken. The agreement on that issue will be implemented by the three
parties. Nothing which has been agreed is a step backwards. The reforms are
designed to ensure that no single party can control both private and public
media. They also seek to bring independence to the public media by ensuring
that those who run them should be loyal to Zimbabwe and not political
Thursday, 06 May 2010 21:07
INCLUSIVE government leaders created the Organ on National Healing,
Reconciliation and Integration without a clue on how the national healing
process will work, a minister responsible for the organ has said.
The national healing organ has received widespread criticism from civil
society and political activists over its lack of impact and failure to
address political tensions caused by years of state-sponsored conflict.
Sekai Holland, one of the three chairpersons of the organ, said President
Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister
Arthur Mutambara failed to provide a clear mandate to the organ when they
formed the coalition government.
“When we were appointed we thought that the three principals had an idea of
what they wanted us to do,” Holland told the Zimbabwe Independent in an
interview on Wednesday. “They didn’t. They were relying on us as elders to
Other organ chairpersons are Vice President John Nkomo and Gibson Sibanda.
Apart from a vague mandate, the national healing organ has been operating
without an enabling law, Holland said.
She said the delay in legislating for a legal guide has made the organ
powerless to implement concrete policies.
Holland said in the absence of a clear mandate, the organ members were
forced to draw their own conclusions on what their work should be.
“From day one Vice President Nkomo said we were bridge builders and our duty
was to build one bridge which would take us from the conflict period of
Zimbabwe into the transition we are in today,” she said.
“Gibson Sibanda’s vision of the organ’s work was to remind Zimbabweans that
in 1980 (then) Prime Minister Robert Mugabe declared a statement of
reconciliation between Africans here and the whites. We all accepted it and
we should move forward.”
She said the organ had signed a funding agreement with the United Nations
Development Programme to facilitate grassroots work for national healing.
Thursday, 06 May 2010 20:47
THE trial of Harare mayor Muchadei Masunda and eight councillors on
allegations of criminally defaming wealthy businessman Phillip Chiyangwa
failed to kick off yesterday after the city fathers applied to the High
Court challenging their placement on remand.
Magistrate Olivia Mariga deferred the case to May 26.
In the High Court application, Masunda and the councillors said their
placement on remand was in contravention of the constitution.
Masunda and the councillors were last month charged with criminal defamation
after flamboyant Harare business mogul Phillip Chiyangwa complained that he
had been defamed by the publication of a council report on how he acquired
vast tracts of land in the capital.
Following the adoption of the controversial report, council made a police
report against Chiyangwa accusing him of land theft.
The mayor and his councillors are, therefore, arguing in the High Court that
they could not be placed on remand when they were the complainants.
Police have acknowledged receiving reports from the council against
Chiyangwa and Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo.
Five journalists were subpoenaed by the state to testify in the matter after
they broke the land scandal story.
The five journalists are Vincent Kahiya, editor-in-chief of the Zimbabwe
Independent, editor of the Standard Nevanji Madanhire and two Standard
reporters, Jeniffer Dube and Feluna Nleya. Dube and Nleya co-authored the
story that was carried by the Standard.
Freelance journalist Stanley Gama has also been summoned for his story which
was published by the South African-based Sunday Times.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai this week said the Harare City
Council land saga was now being discussed at the highest national political
President Mugabe and himself were discussing the issue and justice would be
seen to be done, the premier promised at a news conference.
Tsvangirai said he was surprised those named in the damning report exposing
alleged corruption were the ones that had sought to make themselves victims.
He said he would discuss the issue with Mugabe as soon as he was back from
the World Economic Forum meeting in Tanzania.
“We are aware of the intimidation of councillors and unnecessary threats by
some people in government.
The matter is now a political matter and I have brought that to the
attention of the president,” he said.
“As for now the issue is a political issue between me and the president and
hopefully the matter will be finalised and justice will take its course.”
Thursday, 06 May 2010 18:14
WHEN I was growing up, my grandmother, a woman with a minimum of formal
education, was my principal teacher and guide.
She instilled in me the importance of some core values that have guided me,
I hope successfully, through over six decades of life. I offer for the
reader's consideration, the values passed along to me by my grandmother.
If you steal my purse, you take money that can be replaced. If you lie to me
you take something that is very hard to replace -- trust.
The simple country folk in the small farming community in which I lived
seldom used written contracts. A promise and a handshake was all that was
usually needed. Their reasoning was this: if I can't trust a person to
keep his word, what good is a piece of paper? Your word was your bond, break
that word and no amount of fancy paper with legal language and fancy seals
would make anyone want to do business with you.
Honesty and integrity are inextricably linked. A dishonest person has no
integrity. But, it is more than merely telling the truth. Integrity is
living the truth. It is doing what is right, even in the face of difficulty.
Your reputation is what others think of you, but integrity is what you are;
it is the things you do when no one is watching. Courage is important as
I don't mean the kind of courage of soldiers in battle; this is the courage
to do the right thing when the crowd is going the other way.
The kind of courage my grandmother taught was that which allows, no, compels
you to say the truth even when you know it is unpopular and you will be
hated for it. The courage that each person needs is that which allows you to
take the road less travelled, to do the thing you have never done before,
fail, and start again at the beginning.
The hardest job becomes easy when you stick to it, doing it one task at a
time until it is finished. There's an old saying, "quitters never win, and
winners never quit".
Never forget that everything you say or do has an impact on those around
you. Feel the pain and suffering of those around you, and do whatever is
within your power to ease it. Compassion is not about giving a hand out, but
it's all about giving a hand up.
A life that is guided by these simple principles, regardless of how short,
will be a life well lived.
Charles A Ray,
US Ambassador to Zimbabwe.
Thursday, 06 May 2010 17:28
ON May 4 2010 the volatility index (VIX) rose sharply by 4,8 points to 24,6
points after averaging less than 20 in the past two months. For investors,
this should be a cause of concern but it is hardly surprising. A rising VIX
worries investors because it signals growing uncertainty about future prices
which usually prompts investors to unwind long positions or alternatively
short the markets. In recent days global markets have been jittery because
of anxiety over the financial turmoil in Greece and the fraud charges
levelled against Wall Street bank, Goldman Sachs, by the US SEC.
Pledges of aid packages to Greece by its European peers and the IMF brought
some short-lived relief as other members of the block are feared to be in a
similar, if not worse, fix. This is putting the euro under immense pressure
and it has lost 10% against the dollar since early December 2009. Charges
against Goldman, on the other hand, once again bring to the spotlight the
role played by the banks in causing the global financial crisis.
These two and other comparable negative news such as high US unemployment
make the sustainability of the latest world economic recovery questionable.
This inevitably pushes the VIX higher.
The VIX, also known as the "fear factor" is an index calculated by the
Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) to measure the volatility, or price
fluctuation, of Standard & Poor's index options. It foretells the rises and
falls of the markets over the next 30 day period. Markets tend to swing up
and down when there is uncertainty which implies that a high VIX indicates
bearish sentiment while lower percentage points denotes bullishness.
Its historic peak was 89,53 points on October 24 2008 and the more
discerning market followers would know that this was when the financial
crisis worsened. Before then the peak was 38 points recorded on August 8
2002. The current level of 24,6 points which from the chart looks set to
rise higher might be signalling another significant wave of risk aversion in
the global markets in the next months, at least.
Well, Zimbabwe is barely affected by world trends and that could count for
good news if the VIX continues to drift upwards.
But that is as far as the good news goes. The local market has its own fair
share of problems different from what the whole world experiences. Our "VIX"
has been high for more than five months propped up by negative political
developments. The market peaked at US$4 374.76 million on November 11 2009
but is now 14,75% lower. The widely hyped recovery of the economy has not
happened as earlier anticipated.
Most companies reported very weak earnings in 2009 with growth in the
current year only expected to be marginal unless access to capital improves.
This left several companies overvalued relative to their earnings potential.
To maintain equilibrium, share prices had to be offered lower. The
correction coincided with the introduction of empowerment rules and the
subsequent withdrawal of foreign money from the market. In the end the "fear
index" was pushed even higher.
Summing up the earnings from the most recent corporate financial statements
gives after tax profits of US$146 million, 77% of which came from Econet.
This figure is arrived at after annualising half year results which may be
unfair for seasonal companies such Seedco. But that is beside the point.
What is apparent is that the market maybe overvalued at capitalisation of
US$3 469 million as of May 5 2010 unless players expect dramatic increases
A historic market p:e of 23,8x in US dollars makes investors worried in
other territories, more so here where the economy is expected to grow by
only 2,2% in 2010 and remain stagnant in 2011, according to latest IMF
Total dividends paid since dollarisation amounted to US$26,4 million with
only four companies, namely, Colcom, Econet (94% of the total), Innscor and
Zimplow having paid out something to their shareholders. This gives a market
dividend yield of 0,76%, once again a disappointing statistic relative to
alternative markets in the region.
Having said that, there are some very exciting stocks, few though, on the
ZSE with promising futures. Without naming names, any counter trading at 10
times, or under, its historic earnings maybe worth short listing for further
analysis. Admittedly not too many will pass this hurdle.
The few that do so on the back of core earnings (take off accounting profits
like tax credits, fair value and non recurring items) have a better chance
of growth in their share prices even as the VIX remains firm. In other
markets, a high "fear factor" usually prompts shorting, a practice that is
outlawed in this country.
Thursday, 06 May 2010 17:28
TRADING in shares on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) fell by 21% last
month after indigenisation regulations unnerved already wary investors.
Official figures show that trades in April dropped to US$30, 5 million from
US$39 million in March.
The total value of stocks that have changed hands to date are now just over
Indigenisation and empowerment minister Saviour Kasukuwere earlier this year
gazetted regulations that compel foreign-owned companies valued at US$500
000 or more to cede 51% stakes to black Zimbabweans.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai went on a collision course with the
empowerment minister over the modus operandi of the empowerment drive,
declaring the regulations "null and void."
But recent media reports say Kasukuwere will revise the regulations to come
up with a sector by sector approach to determine shareholding thresholds.
The ZSE, however, has opened the month of May on a high after Econet's
financial results beat analysts' expectations that showed US$113 in net
earnings and other gains recorded in blue chip counters.
"There were also gains in other heavyweights like Delta, Barclays and Hippo
as investors' attention once again shifted to the market, said Kingdom
stockbrokers in a weekly stock market report.
"The market had been bearish for quite some time as a result of companies'
general poor performance as well as issues surrounding the Indigenisation
and Economic Empowerment Act which was gazetted in March 2010."
Radar gained 48,1%, bringing its share price to 40 cents, followed by Mash,
up 33,3% at 1,6 cents and Starafrica, up 28,6% at 9 cents. Seedco and Trust
completed the week's top five performers. There were 27 movers in the week.
Losses were recorded in Medtech, down 47,4% at 0,1 cents, followed by
Willdale, down 44,4% at 0,1 cents and Hunyani, down 42,.6% at 2,.01 cents.
Interfresh and CFX completed the week's top five shakers. There were 25
shakers this week.
KSB said the stock market remained subdued despite a steady growth in bank
deposits in recent months, a development analysts say show an exit from the
ZSE by foreign investors to other markets. Statistics show that foreign
investors accounted for 40% of trudes on the ZSE following the formation of
the inclusive government. ZSE Chief executive officer Emmanuel Munyukwi was
this week quoted in a business weekly saying foreign investors were now
"taking their money elsewhere" following the gazetting of the controversial
KSB, however, expects the ongoing tobacco selling season to improve
liquidity on the market.
"Lack of liquidity will continue to affect the market. Indications are that
deposits have marginally increased to $1,4 billion from $1,3 billion in
December 2009, a sign that the stock hasn't been receiving as much funds as
we would have wanted. The current tobacco selling season is expected to help
improve liquidity in the market, with 77 million kilogrammes of tobacco
expected to go under the hammer," the report said.
Thursday, 06 May 2010 17:27
ZIMBABWE has raked in US$117,4 million from the sale of 37,9 million
kilogrammes of flue-cured tobacco in both contract and auction systems since
the beginning of the 2010 tobacco marketing season in February, according
to figures released by the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board (TIMB) this
Tobacco sales grew by 5,6% from $106 million realised from the sale of 35, 9
million kilogrammes last year. Prices of tobacco are relatively firmer than
last year with the seasonal average floating at US$3,09 per kg against
US$2,84 per kg in the same period.
According to the figures, tobacco prices are falling as deliveries improve
on the auction floors.
The downward trend on prices began in week five through to week nine from an
average of US$3,45 to the current average of US$3,10.
Tobacco deliveries have considerably increased from an average of around 420
000 kilogrammes a day in the first four weeks of the season to an average 1,
4 million kilogrammes. Another contributing factor to the price fall is the
small number of buyers against improved supplies.
A total of 77 million kilogrammes of tobacco is expected to be delivered to
the sales floors this season after more farmers planted the crop on the back
of high prices last year. Last year tobacco was voted the best paying crop.
Government hopes that internally generated sources of funding like tobacco,
diamonds and other metals' sales will play a critical role in improving
market liquidity and stabilising interest rates.
Kingdom Stock Brokers this week said interest rates would remain higher,
given tight liquidity on the market. Deposits in Zimbabwe's banks increased
by 15% to US$1,4 billion this month from US$1,2 billion in December last
year, according to latest statistics from the Bankers Association of
Total deposits on the local financial sector stood at around US$300 million
when the multi-currency environment was officially introduced n February
Thursday, 06 May 2010 17:26
HWANGE power station is expected to be operating at full capacity by the
last quarter of the year after the country’s power utility dealt with issues
constraining growth in power generation, Zesa Holdings says.
In an interview with businessdigest on Wednesday, Zesa Holdings spokesperson
Fullard Gwasira said they are repairing six generators that should be
operational by the end of October.
Gwasira said: “We have put in place all the necessary mechanisms to ensure
that there is increased production at Hwange by the end of October, this
means all six units will be working.”
Zimbabwe received US$40 million from Namibia in 2007 to refurbish and expand
Hwange power station in a bid to boost power output and reduce power-cuts in
Under the same deal, signed between the two countries when President Robert
Mugabe visited Namibia in March 2007, Zimbabwe agreed to export 180 MW for a
minimum of five years.
Incessant breakdowns at Hwange have forced Zimbabwe to continue exporting
the little energy the two power plants generate.
When the agreement was signed, Zesa hoped the four units at the station
would be fully repaired by August 2008. Although Hwange has an installed
capacity of over 750 MW, the plant is operating below 10% capacity. Only two
units have been operational.
Gwasira said the NamPower deal, to last until 2011, was the “only decision
government had” in the wake of an economic crisis charecterised by high
inflation and foreign exchange shortages. Zesa blames its low output on coal
shortages and old equipment. In February, Finance minister Tendai Biti
allocated US$10 million to Zesa to “kick-start” repairs at Hwange.
“It is a small cake (US$10 million) but will go a long way to speed repairs.
If all consumers could pay their bills, repairs will be faster and load
shedding reduced,” Gwasira told businessdigest.
Zimbabwe relies on Kariba’s hydropower plant that is producing an average of
740 MW daily. In addition, it imports about 160 MW from neighbouring
Mozambique, Zambia, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo. ––
Thursday, 06 May 2010 17:22
ZIMBABWE'S mobile phone operators have rolled up their sleeves to tap into
the lucrative market rejuvenated by the dollarsation of the economy and an
increasing appetite for new technology among locals.
As far back as April last year, Telecel Zimbabwe, then the smallest operator
after Econet and NetOne, promised its customers that the company is going
"forward with confidence and renewed hope for the future" in an
advertisement titled: "Do you remember?"
Telecel continued in the advert: "During the challenging times, we kept you
roaming, and our contract customers remained unaffected without switching
packages or being forced to pay something upfront. We believe this is what
makes for our valued relationship -- in good or bad times."
The statement seemed to be aimed at Econet, who switched contract
subscribers to the pre-paid platform at the height of Zimbabwe's economic
crisis. Econet management had made a decision in November 2008 to migrate
contract customers to the pre-paid platform because the mobile operator
could not invest in a new billing system at the expense of other key
components of the network.
A year later, Telecel has doubled its subscriber base to more than a million
to become the second largest operator in the country. Econet, on the other
hand, has added millions more to its network.
At a function to celebrate Telecel Zimbabwe's signing on a million
subscribers, managing director Aimable Mpore had a few words for his
competitors; a revolution in the telecommunications sector has just begun.
He took his audience back to the past where subscribers paid US$15 for
starter packs, comparing it to today's situation where the same mobile phone
chip costs US$2. When he joined Telecel, Mpore says he was "shocked" by the
He says when Telecel initially reduced the price of sim cards to US$5,
competitors thought it was just a promotion and ignored it but the response
from the market was "overwhelming" that Telecel decided to lower the price
even further. But Mpore is proposing an even lower price. In fact, he says
Telecel may one day give away starter packs and sell a handset.
"By the end of next year, Telecel would have signed on an additional 1,5
million subscribers," he says. But the company's focus is no longer on voice
and text services as they are investing in 3G technology. Management hopes
the service will be up and running inside the third quarter of this year.
The company is in the process of getting a submarine link, which will change
the face of internet for customers.
"When we launch 3G in August, it will be working perfectly and will change
connectivity as you know it," Mpore says.
Only Econet and Powertel Wireless offer the service but Telecel is winning
on other fronts. Calls to international destinations cost 25 cents, the
equivalent of a local call.
There is also a sweetener for Telecel subscribers. A mega juice card that
came on the market last month is also playing in favour of the second
Under the mega promotion, airtime worth a dollar carries an additional US$2
worth of airtime. But there is a catch; it has to be used inside two days.
This is aimed at stimulating calls.
Econet is, however, not taking punches face-down. The operator is running
discounted calls from 10pm to 6am. Instead of paying 23 cents for a call
from the stipulated time, subscribers on the network pay only 12 cents
including value added tax. This is also intended to stimulate the volume of
calls. To counter Telecel on the international market, Econet is offering
bonus airtime for every international call beyond two minutes.
Econet and Telecel are also digging up trenches towards Beira, Mozambique
for the installation of optic fibre links.
This is the first step towards setting up subsmarine link. Although Telecel
might be comfortable with sharing facilities with Econet, the latter will
not be willing. Econet's argument will be simple one; Econet has spent too
much on capital expenditure and there is no legislative instrument
compelling it to do so.
According to Econet's financial statements, the group spent over US$160
million on network upgrades and expansion in the year to February and will
spend an additional $300 million this year. Part of the capital came through
By the end of June last year, Econet had spent over US$100 million on base
stations and other equipment. Over 200 new base stations were installed, and
this deployment resulted in a massive 200% growth in coverage.
Econet is not stopping there. The company has stepped up its expansion drive
through the proposed installment of 90 base stations in 90 days. By
Wednesday, the group had covered close to a third of the groundwork and
seems to be sticking to its deadline.
While much has been made of Econet's profit, the company's Capex to EBITDA
margin of 89%, and its high debt-to-equity ratio show that, in fact, most of
the money is going back to building the network.
Against such a background, Telecel will have to part with money to grow
coverage on the back of funding from Orascom. Mpore says his company has
already installed base stations in 16 rural areas and plans to install nine
more in remote areas in a bid to widen network coverage in the country.
While battle lines seem to have been drawn between Econet and Telecel --
once at the tail-end in terms of subscriber base and market perception -
government-owned mobile phone company, NetOne, continues to be handicapped
by lack of funding.
Apart from promotions -- electronic entry of the lotto jackpot, weather
update and other services -- NetOne brags of pioneering the "call me back"
The "call me back" is a free sms service where a subscriber on the same
network can request the operator to relay a call me back message to another
Businessdigest understands that the company is caught between bureaucratic
forces. On one hand, government officials are pushing for a new investor to
help NetOne wade the waters while treasury is understood to be resisting the
move arguing that the company should go public through an initial public
offer on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
Chris Muronzi/Bernard Mpofu
Thursday, 06 May 2010 17:18
A STATEMENT from the revised King Code and Report on Governance for South
Africa (King III) report released on September 1 2009 set me thinking.
The statement reads "As with King I and II, none of the members received
remuneration or reimbursement of expenses. The only value driver for members
was the service in the best interest of corporate South Africa". Seeing the
King Code is primarily crafted to serve the interests of corporate South
Africa, an assessment of its relevance to the Zimbabwean context is
imperative. King III is undoubtedly an excellent document that addresses
pertinent governance issues that are correlated to emerging global dynamics.
The need for a home-grown corporate governance code is imperative judging
from the current salaries debacle playing out in the quasi-government
circles. A careful analysis of the thread running through the "remuneration
scandals" reveals a failure of governance or a lack of sound institutional
moral authority. Common sense dictates that failure at delivering on the
organisational mandate should not be rewarded with hefty salaries and perks.
What is clear based on this discrepancy or corporate hypocrisy is the fact
that the current corporate governance system is broken and is in need of
urgent fixing. A few tips can be picked from the King III code which came
into effect on March 1.
We will celebrate the areas King III has done well-in my opinion.
First, the compliance approach suggested by King III is a stroke of genius.
Having witnessed the ineffectiveness of the Sarbanes-Oxley (SOX) Act of the
US in preventing the occurrence of the corporate shenanigans that birthed
the current global financial crisis, it has been argued that the "comply or
else" approach on which the US corporate governance compliance is premised
is flawed to the core.
The SOX Act was a knee-jerk reaction to the corporate scandals personified
by Enron. Legislating corporate governance compliance has serious
limitations and can reduce the competitiveness of a country as the boards of
directors will spend their intellectual and executive capital on compliance
instead of directing that capital towards value-creation. In sharp contrast,
King III embeds flexibility into the application of the codes through the
"apply or explain" approach.
Under the "apply or explain" compliance regime, organisations are not forced
to comply with the practices and principles, except for those that are
subject to acts of parliament. Put crudely, firms are allowed to "pick and
choose" the practices that best serve their interests. At face value this
might appear as condescending and self-defeating.
However, the organisations are obliged to explain in full the reasons for
not applying the suggested practices. Effectively the "apply or explain"
approach will cajole organisations into making full disclosure of their
corporate governance practices by presenting a well reasoned case for
non-compliance. There is merit for a Zimbabwean-grown governance code to
embrace the "apply or explain" approach.
A few organisations in Zimbabwe have already made public pronouncements to
the effect that they will be embracing King III. One sensitive issue which
organisations in Zimbabwe might find difficult to embrace is encapsulated in
the Recommended Practices 2.26.2 and 2.26.7, which respectively require the
disclosure of the salaries of the three most highly paid employees who are
not directors and justifying salaries above the median.
On the basis of the "apply or explain" premise those organisations in
Zimbabwe that purport to embrace King III have no option but to explain
reasons for non-disclosure. Since King III requires the board to give a
clear statement to the effect that the integrated report (financial and
non-financial) has applied King III, the room for side-stepping certain
issues through "corporate silence" is not there at all. If only these
principles could be extended to parastatals, we might get headway as a
nation in correcting the current service delivery-remuneration misalignment.
Secondly, King III emphasises the harmony between the law and corporate
governance, effectively reminding the chieftains of the corporate world
their legal duties to make sound decisions informed by due regard to care,
skill and diligence.
The buck stops with the board member. Failure to discharge their legal
duties can result in personal liability at law, with the prospect of serving
jail time being a stark reality. A Zimbabwean governance code also needs to
establish this linkage with the law.
Highlighting the attendant risk of not taking governance issues seriously
should encourage those sitting on boards to review the quality of their
participation and value-add through a sober evaluation of the risk-reward
Corporate mischief as reported recently in the media whereupon some board
members are conniving with their executive team to furnish authorities with
falsified information should be handled decisively by a corporate governance
code that ties corporate governance with the law.
Thirdly, King III now applies to both the listed and unlisted companies as
well as the not-for-profit organisations. This is a milestone that deserves
commendation. By combining elements of good corporate governance as
recognised in the South African law with the voluntary and non-legislated
corporate governance best practices, King III is effectively spreading
corporate governance into virtually every organisation in South Africa.
This route is highly recommended for Zimbabwe, to help entrench good
governance in quasi-government institutions, where glaring corporate
governance gaps are evident as evidenced by the current executive pay
Embedding corporate governance into the Zimbabwean way of doing things, not
only builds brand Zimbabwe, but also enhances the individual organisational
brand - universities, hospitals, parastatals, listed companies and the like.
Leveraging off good corporate governance practice, Zimbabwe as a whole can
pass the "wallet test", transforming Zimbabwe from the paper tiger to the
African tiger status.
Fourthly, King III got it right in terms of bringing into prominence
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) as a hallmark of good corporate
governance. The litigious culture so prevalent in the American culture
represents lost opportunities to engage in creative dialogue. Creation gives
rise to things that did not have prior existence.
Instead of parties to a dispute rushing to the courts to assert their rights
and seeking to enforce obligations, smart organisations leverage on the
power of seeking the third alternative, a superior solution to the one
sought by either of the disputants.
That makes business sense in terms of huge savings in legal fees and the
protection of each disputant's corporate brand. Arguing that investors look
at the economic value of the firm and not the book value, King III points to
the fact that the wallet holders assess the firm's ability to create value
tomorrow. ADR is an approach which a Zimbabwe governance code should
embrace. The tendency of employers and employees to wash their dirty linen
in public when a stand-off arises will soon become a public sign of poor
Zimbabweans from different persuasions need to come together to catalyse the
development of a home-grown corporate governance code and give it traction.
The Human Capital Telescope
By Brett Chulu
Thursday, 06 May 2010 17:17
ZIMBABWE needs to import wheat worth over US$128,8 million to meet an
expected shortfall of 339 000 tonnes, which bakers say could cripple
Farmers, hamstrung by lack of capital, high costs of inputs and continued
land ownership wrangles, expect to produce 11 000 tonnes of winter wheat
planted on 3 100 hectares, according to the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU).
This is against a national annual demand of 350 000 tonnes, says CFU
President Deon Theron.
“We (Zimbabwe) will have to import the wheat at an import price of US$380
per tonne and this translates to US$128 820 000, given our shortfall,” said
This would be the ninth consecutive year that the country would be importing
Money to finance past wheat imports came from the fiscus, Non-Governmental
Organisations and food aid agencies.
Food imports, which have become inevitable over the past decade because of
dwindling farm production, continue to put a strain on the government’s
Theron said other problems facing farmers were inconsistent electricity
supplies, high cost of water and expensive loans.
“Regarding loans, most farmers do not have anything to offer as security and
this is worsened by the liquidity problems affecting the country in
general,” said Theron.
Most resettled farmers who previously benefitted from subsidised inputs have
failed to raise money to buy essentials such as seed, fertiliser, chemicals
and fuel to power generators in the face of crippling electricity cuts by
power company, Zesa Holdings.
National Bakers Association (NBA) president Brumwel Bushu said the 11 000
tonnes of wheat expected this year would only last a week, meaning Zimbabwe
would continue being a net importer of wheat.
“Zimbabwe needs about 10 000 tonnes of wheat and 8 000 tonnes of flour per
week. In other words this is as good as saying there would be nothing
(locally) this year,” he told businessdigest this week.
“Government should assist farmers reach optimum production levels.”
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union President, William Nyabonda, said his
union had proposed that government should avail funds to buy generators for
winter wheat farmers because the electricity situation remained dire.
“The electricity issue is not a new thing. They (Zesa Holdings) have told us
that they will provide us (wheat farmers) with power three times a week,
which is not enough,” Nyabonda said.
Zesa spokesperson Fullard Gwasira said in an interview on Wednesday that the
power utility would provide 12 hours of uninterrupted power three times a
“Our idea is not to punish them (winter wheat farmers). It is important for
everyone to note that our resource is scarce and that we are not only
catering for wheat farmers, but the whole country. There is increased demand
for power during the period,” he said.
The country has relied on handouts from international donors since 2001 when
war veterans and some of President Robert Mugabe’s supporters began taking
over white-owned farms.
The Famine Early Warning Network, a USAID funded organ that provides
vulnerability information, says aid agencies fed 3,5 million Zimbabweans,
about a quarter of the population, during this year’s peak hunger period
between January and March.
Thursday, 06 May 2010 17:52
WE were intrigued by the president's remarks in an interview with the People's
Voice. He said while Zanu PF's enemies were the imperialists -- the British
and Americans, for the MDC-T the enemies were Zanu PF and the people of
Isn't that the same people who rejected Mugabe and his party in the 2008
election? Why didn't the People's Voice reporter ask him about that
discrepancy? And what is remarkable is that the stale old blandishments that
lost Mugabe the last poll are being resuscitated for use in the next one.
You would have thought Mugabe's advisors would have devised new positions
for the party given the refusal of the people to swallow Zanu PF's previous
In fact it could be argued that the people, having judged Zanu PF's
threadbare claims, decided the "imperialists" would do a better job feeding
them and helping to rebuild the economy.
Mugabe has yet to understand voters' priorities which don't include empty
How can he claim Zanu PF wants to "defend the people's sovereignty" when his
policies consign the same people to penury?
Here is another example of a partisan press not asking a single challenging
question while the president makes all sorts of disingenuous claims.
What use is a newspaper that doesn't ask the questions?
Meanwhile, the People's Voice should ask how the people can "determine their
own future" when they get beaten or even killed for supporting the MDC-T.
And then we had Rugare Gumbo proclaiming the EU would not be allowed to fund
the constitution-making exercise.
Why not when they are providing agricultural support? If they can feed us
why can't they provide expertise in constitution-making? But Gumbo should
not worry. Constitution-making is underway. And the land audit will soon be
operational so all those owning more than one farm will be exposed.
And what is the Zimbabwe delegation doing in Brussels if not seeking funds
for GPA projects?
It is a bit baffling that Zanu PF is sabotaging its Brussels mission by
allowing those opposed to reform to speak for the country.
Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Refugees and former Irish
president, was in Zimbabwe last week and met President Mugabe at his
Munhumutapa offices in Harare.
The Herald reported Robinson lauded Mugabe "for his efforts to improve women's
status in Zimbabwe".
"The president emphasised that women now have the benefit of a strong
platform, the inclusive platform and that women's voices right across the
board are understood," Robinson said.
Thanks to the Sunday Times we were we able to have an insight into how
Mugabe's trusted lieutenants treat women.
Marian Chombo, the estranged wife of Ignatius Chombo, has appealed to Mugabe
to help her salvage something from the minister's vast estate.
"Marian (50) says her husband (58) has been harassing her, confining her to
the house and at one time getting her 'locked up' by the police for 'trying
to steal fuel'," the Sunday Times reported.
She now wants President Mugabe to intervene as "a father" and "a leader" so
she can escape her "miseries".
Let's hear what Robinson says about Chombo's treatment of Marian. We hope
next time Robinson will also ask Woza about the treatment of women under
Nigerian football authorities are fuming about the low standards of the
hotel where their senior national football team will camp during the World
They want to meet Fifa officials in an attempt to dump a KwaZulu-Natal hotel
contracted to serve as their team's base camp during the World Cup football
showcase which kicks off next month.
Nigerian Sports Minister, Ibrahim Bio and Super Eagles coach, Lars Lagerback
flew into Durban last Wednesday after a media storm in Nigeria over the
suitability of the three-star Hampshire Hotel in Ballito.
"I am concerned about the noise. I am very unsure of the security of this
place. It's important that our boys are secure," Bio said.
Are these the same guys who allowed Zimbabwe's Confederation Cup
representatives, Caps United, to be booked into a down town two-star hotel,
the BB Hotel in Warri, two weeks ago?
Apart from being close to noisy seedy beer halls and crowded markets, power
cuts are a regular occurrence in the area.
The inhospitable conditions Caps United players and officials endured
included sleeping on the floor at the domestic airport for more than two
hours while waiting for Nigerian football authorities to welcome them.
Winston Churchill, Britain's World War Two leader, once said that the
civility of a country is measured by the way it looks after its prisoners.
We got insight on how we have been looking after our prisoners from the
Zimbabwe Prison Services Deputy Commissioner for Human Resources, Vincent
They have been starving all these years. Now an idea to keep them well
nourished while they serve time has suddenly been found.
"Ndhlovu said the prisons have realised that prisoners can work for
themselves rather than starve while sitting behind bars, so they are
teaching them to farm which will help them even in their lives after
completing their sentences," the Herald reported on Monday.
This, he said, to our amazement, will help turn around the economy.
"He boasted that ZPS would never complain of hunger again neither would
there be any stories of starving prisoners in Zimbabwe," reported the
Herald, without questioning why such an initiative took so long when
prisoners were dying of hunger on a daily basis.
The Herald gave us a good demonstration of how the state media fails the
reading public when it reported Media minister Webster Shamu's address on
the occasion of World Press Freedom Day on Monday.
We have no quarrel with the address which appeared helpful to the media. But
the Herald's report terminated with the conclusion of the minister's
remarks. The paper declined to report the speech of UN Secretary-General Ban
ki Moon or the Unesco representative at the Rainbow Towers ceremony. It also
omitted to report the remarks of the ZUJ Secretary-General and other
This was, among other things, a betrayal of the profession. It was an
illustration of why a captive media cannot be trusted to provide the public
with accurate news. So they remain uninformed.
In this case they were not allowed to hear what the UN Secretary-General had
to say about freedom of the press and its importance to democratic
governance. That is a deliberate policy by those managing the public media
to keep the public in the dark. Which of course represents an egregious
disservice to the public it is supposed to serve.
And is it true that the Broadcasting Authority is in place, as the minister
said in his speech? We thought the president was asked about that at his
meet the press briefing in March and said if it was the case that the
authority was improperly constituted, then it needed to be put right.
As it is Tafataona Mahoso currently heads the authority and is also CEO of
the ZMC secretariat. This anomaly obviously can't be allowed to persist
although, it must be said, Mahoso seems a lot friendlier than he used to be!
It was good to see our old friend and colleague Bill Saidi speaking at a
World Press Freedom Day ceremony hosted by the US embassy Public Affairs
section on Monday evening at Gallery Delta. He kept the large audience
entertained with his anecdotes of an earlier era in journalism.
But Bill is in urgent need of an editor. However entertaining, his speech
lasted about 20 minutes longer than it needed to. Messages passed to him by
the organisers were ignored as he fulfilled a golden opportunity to tell a
captive audience the story of his life which included walk-on roles for
Harold Macmillan and Richard Nixon.
Next time Bill should tell us how life at the Herald today contrasts with 25
years ago when the editor locked him in an office and threw away the key!
Anyway, it was good to see him back in the trenches, defending the freedoms
he has done so much to uphold at the many papers he has been fired from!
There were scenes of pandemonium when snacks were served both before and
after the speeches at Gallery Delta. The French caterer, doing a good
impression of Basil Fawlty, had great difficulty keeping the hungry hordes
away from the food table until the starter's flag went down. His was an
unenviable task. No sooner had he chased off marauders at one end of the
table than another gang appeared at the other end.
Eventually American peace-keepers had to intervene and persuade the
increasingly volatile chef that it might be a good idea, if he valued his
life, to let the hungry hacks get at the food.
It must be said, the resulting melée was not an edifying sight. The
collective noun would be a "flock" of Gannets! But in this case vultures
might be more appropriate. But at least all were happily fed and "watered",
courtesy of Uncle Sam and Misa, and the standard of the snacks was
Among those attending the event was Deputy Media minister Jameson Timba who
demonstrated why he is regarded as the most erudite and accomplished public
speaker in the country. We should add "honest" to that.
Speaking on the setting up of the Zimbabwe Media Commission he said that
"collectively as a government we have failed the nation. The delay in
establishing the ZMC was inexcusable and government should acknowledge
He went on to admit that government mistakenly regarded press freedom as a
gift to the people. "It is our responsibility as government to ensure that
it exists," he said, pointing out that it was in government's interest as
well as the people's to have a free press.
That should be spelt out in bold letters.
All in all, it was a great Press Freedom Day. Just a pity the public media,
whose reporters were present, were not allowed to report what was said.
Thursday, 06 May 2010 17:49
IN common with all Zimbabwean economic sectors, the textile industry's
operations and viability was critically impaired by the severe decline in
the Zimbabwean economy during the years 2002 to 2008.
The progressive decline in consumer spending power, and consequential
decline in demand for textile products, surging increases in operational
costs as a result of intense hyperinflation, declining availability of
essential utilities, pronounced insufficiencies of foreign exchange to fund
imports of essential inputs, and marked contractions of export demand,
together with diverse other factors, impacted very negatively upon the
textile industry (as it did on many other industries).
All of the aforesaid factors very significantly affected the industry in
2008. In particular:
lConsumer demand for textile products became almost non-existent, as
inflation surged from an annualised rate of approximately 50% to 231 million
% in the first six months, and to trillions per cent in the second-half of
Consumers were, with very rare exception, unable to fund basic commodities
and other life-essentials, let alone to purchase textiles and clothing.
Thus, the textile sector sustained an immense contraction of production,
concurrently with massively increased fixed costs (in consequence of the
lThe aforegoing was negatively compounded by a national scarcity of foreign
exchange which considerably hindered the textile industry's access to
essential operating inputs, including chemicals and dyestuffs, synthetic
yarns, consumable spares, packing, and numerous other operational
lIn addition to these adverse circumstances, the textile industry's
operational efficiencies were substantially jeopardised by recurrent
interruptions in essential utility supplies, and especially of electricity
and water, erratic and inadequate availability of coal, diesel and petrol,
and deteriorating rail and road services;
lCompounding these circumstances, the textile industry sustained a
considerable decrease in export market demand.
The principal export market, being South Africa, was flooded with textile
imports from China, India and elsewhere in the Far East.
Suppliers in those countries could provide the South African market's needs
at considerably lower prices than those required by Zimbabwean
manufacturers, such suppliers benefiting from the "economies of scale"
attained by very high production volumes, from the exceptionally low wages
payable to their workers, and as a result of extensive governmental export
Zimbabwean prices were highly uncompetitive, compounded by the
hyperinflation driven significant escalations in production and operational
costs. The result was that, with very few exceptions, most operators in
Zimbabwe's textile industry sustained very considerable losses in 2008, and
those losses in turn occasioned substantial erosion of operating capital.
Although 2009 witnessed positive upturns by way of slow restoration of
domestic consumer demand, responsive to the containment of inflation, and by
some increase in export demand as a result, primarily, of a diminution in
sourcing of products from the Far East, these positive upturns were offset
by four major negative factors, being:
lAlmost all Zimbabwean textile manufacturers were very considerably
under-capitalised, in part as a result of losses sustained in prior years in
general, and in 2008 in particular.
Under-capitalisation considerably intensified by the redenomination of the
Zimbabwean currency (encompassing the slashing of 12 zeros), and by the
subsequent "dollarisation" of the currency, followed by the demonetisation
of the Zimbabwean dollar.
Almost all manufacturers had an insufficiency of capital to fund effective
operations and, moreover, they had been unable to address the capital
deficiencies by recourse to borrowings, due to the illiquidity of the
banking sector, and to the prohibitively high costs of borrowings in such
rare instances as loan funding was available;
lThe highly disruptive impact upon productivity, and therefore upon
operational viability, of erratic utility supplies, intensified
exponentially, with especial regard to electricity and water supplies,
resulting in very considerable operational losses, but prospects of
improvement in the foreseeable future are now significant, provided
government, parastatals, and labour realistically, positively and rapidly
address the key issues impacting upon industry;
lZimbabwe has been subjected to a flood of imported textiles and clothing
(including secondhand clothing) and other goods, from the Far East and China
Much of it appears to have been imported without being subjected to custom
duties and other import taxes, and which products are marketed at prices
substantially lower than the cost to Zimbabwean industry of producing like
products, resulting in severe containment of domestic market demand for the
Zimbabwean industry's products;
lDespite increases in consumer demand, most retailers having sustained
capital erosion in like
circumstances to those which impacted upon the Zimbabwean textile industry,
the retailers can only purchase from industry if accorded credit terms, but
industry's under-capitalisation minimises the extent that such terms can be
extended, and therefore many potential sales do not materialise;
lThe many years of inadequacy of foreign exchange, and the operational
losses sustained, precluded industry from adequately maintaining plant and
machinery, and effecting requisite refurbishment, rehabilitation and
replacement, and this has impinged adversely upon productivity and upon
product quality, thereby intensifying operating costs, and minimising sales.
Survival of industry is now contingent upon funding such refurbishment,
rehabilitation and replacement, and any operational cost increases must
inevitably impinge thereon, thereby jeopardising the future of industry, to
the potential prejudice of all stakeholders, including shareholders,
suppliers, customers and workers, and to the prejudice of the economy as a
lOperational viability of industry has also been weakened by very
considerable increases in charges by parastatals, and particularly so in
respect of electricity and water supplies (albeit erratically and
irregularly supplied), telecommunications, rail services, and charges by
lIndustry, and its operations, has been severely affected by the "brain
drain", with a very considerable exodus from Zimbabwe of the technically
skilled, with resultant decline in productivity and product quality, and
concomitant decrease in operation viability.
The impact of the aforegoing, and other factors, has been the closure of a
considerable number of textile and other enterprises, and almost all those
which have not closed had to resort to "down-sizing" of their operations.
Many had to reduce employment to "short time", whilst others had to send
workers on unpaid leave, and yet others sought (and generally were granted)
NEC wage exemptions. From an aggregate of 8 694 workers in the textile
industry, 4 270 were subjected to NEC wage exemptions, short-time working,
or staggered back pay.
Re-penetration of export markets, and industrial survival, in contrast to
extensive further closures, is materially contingent upon wage level
constraints, and particularly so until industry is able to achieve adequate
recapitalisation, and until there is significant further national economic
recovery. It is also dependent upon government constructively addressing
the magnitude of parastatal and local authority charges, and upon it
creating a political environment which would be conducive to access to
international lines of credit, and to foreign investment.
Also essential is that government levels the playing field between imported
and domestically-produced products, by imposition of appropriate import
tariffs, and containing unlawful importations.
Thursday, 06 May 2010 17:45
DAVID Mutambara, chairman of the Institute of Directors of Zimbabwe, made
the following speech at the recent Director of the Year Awards function:
“HAVING been introduced in 2005, the IoDZ’s interest in launching this award
was to create a platform to profile your key role as directors in conducting
your onerous duties and responsibilities. The successes and failures your
companies and organisations are a reflection of your and other directors’
commitment, skill and dedication in discharging your duties.
“The importance of your responsibilities is highlighted by the global
financial crisis which, as Professor Mervyn King, in the King III report
observed: ‘The credit crunch, and the resulting crisis among leading
financial institutions, is increasingly presented as a crisis of corporate
“Our country is heralding the dawn of re-engineering our economy, hence our
theme this evening. The basis for our success will be determined and
defined by how our private sector will perform. As a result you shoulder a
mammoth responsibility of not just directing your companies through this
crisis period but also the weight on ensuring that this country’s economy
grows and prospers.
“Our position, as the IoDZ, on governance during this period, is very clear
that now more than any other time corporate governance is not just an
essential but a necessity.
“We will be able to measure the rate of our contribution to the survival of
our companies and the national economy on quality of our directorship and
level of compliance to corporate governance principles and practices.
“As we fight to reposition ourselves in the global economic arena, we
ironically have to be more dependent on it to pull us through. This
interesting paradox means each one of us must appreciate the high level of
risk of not complying to best practice corporate governance.
“This will be demanded of us if we are to attract the much needed resources
and confidence to recapitalise our companies. We do not have to be guided by
best practice to appreciate this, we should be guided by the necessity to
enhance re-establish and grow our companies. This is expected and demanded
of all of us by our shareholders and our people in general. We owe it to
“The Director of the Year Awards is informed by this national imperative. By
celebrating the achievement of excelling individual directors; their
individual contribution, we hope to stimulate the interest of all of you to
emulate and excel beyond what they have achieved.
“The need for this stimulus is evident. When you consider that over the
five years the level of nominiees for this award and particularly this year
has been low.
“It reflects that the boards and their directors are not fully confident of
their excellence in directing the companies you lead. It may also show the
limited interest is networking and showcasing individual companies’ best
practice in governance.
“I challenge all of you to look into the mirror and review your own
performance and ask the question ‘Can we stand to scrutiny and be the best
we can be to inspire others?’ I hope that next year you will be able to
prove me wrong and say ‘Yes! We have done it’
“As the out-going chairman of the IoDZ I feel privileged that this product
has been launched and grown during my term of office initially as executive
director and later as chairman.
“I must pay tribute to all the people who have inspired and worked hard to
make this possible, the dedicated past chairpersons, Muchadeyi Masunda and
Boyman Mancama, all members of the IoDZ council who have put their full
weight on this, the various corporates who have sponsored and supported this
event, the IoD UK which has inspired us, the different luminaries who have
the occasion, the past winners who have been very good ambassadors for the
award and all the people who have attended this function over the past five
years, we thank you. You inspired us!
“For tonight’s occasion I wish to recognise my personal appreciation to our
guest of honour, Alex Mhembere and his wife for supporting us; our main
sponsors, Barclays Bank Zimbabwe Ltd, Rainbow Tourism Group, Ernst and
Young, Air Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Independent. Special thanks go to our
people in the trenches, the adjudicators, Mark Oxley, Nqaba Mkwananzi and
Divine Ndlukula and the lovely entertainers. Thank you for a job well done.
Thursday, 06 May 2010 17:40
A BID to woo World Cup teams to train in the country and shore up tourism
credentials has provided the clearest sign of how Zimbabwe's national
healing and reconciliation processes have failed.
The reclusive North Korea -- the only country to accept an invitation to
train in Zimbabwe -- is the same country that trained a military brigade
that butchered thousands in Matabeleland and the Midlands in the 1980s.
What political leaders thought were old wounds have turned out to be fresh,
largely because of the neglect victims have suffered from government, say
pressure groups whose threats of protests forced the government to rethink
using Bulawayo as North Korea's training venue.
Groups and individuals that survived to narrate tales of how the North
Korean-trained Fifth Brigade wiped out whole families and decimated
communities said the invitation was provocative.
Civil society organisations such as the Women's Coalition of Zimbabwe say
the backlog in justice for human rights abuses provides fertile breeding for
Impunity and the continued use of state institutions like security organs in
violence rendered the country's latest attempt at reconciliation -- the
national healing process initiated last year -- into a farce, the
Take the example of Regis Chaunda, a 71-year-old former headman in
Muzarabani, who still lives with the trauma of the 2008 violent election
campaign allegedly led by state security agents on behalf of President
Dragged by a mob from his hut in his home village to a Zanu PF campaign base
at Hoya Business Centre at midnight, Chaunda met the worst nightmare of his
life for supporting then opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Youths, whom he suspects were drunk or drugged, whipped him using barbed
wire until flesh dripping with blood was ripped off his back.
Today, people who tortured Chaunda - most of them from his own community -
still walk free.
Chaunda, carrying the scars of the 2008 electoral violence, has again become
a victim of fresh political violence.
Last month, suspected Zanu PF supporters burnt a Pentecostal Holiness Church
building that Chaunda and several villagers seen as anti-Zanu PF were
Angry and apprehensive, Chaunda says the coalition government leaders'
pledge to embark on an effective national healing programme was falling
"We live in constant fear. The people who beat us seem untouchable," said
Chaunda, standing beside a heap of rubble which signifies the only remains
of the church building.
"When the church was burnt I joined others fleeing to the mountain for
safety. I struggled with the climb but my biggest fear was a repeat of what
happened to me in 2008," Chaunda told the Zimbabwe Independent on a recent
visit to Muzarabani South.
Civic groups, ordinary people and political parties fear that the delayed
constitution-making outreach programme will further entrench tensions.
The Organ on National Healing, Reconciliation and Integration that should
deal with cases such as Chaunda's is now viewed as a waste of taxpayers'
John Nkomo, now Vice President, Sekai Holland and Gibson Sibanda,
representing the three political parties in government chair the organ.
Holland told the Independent on Tuesday that the national healing organ was
still working on plans to avoid a repeat of political violence during the
constitutional outreach programme.
"The current issue that is emerging is how we assure safety of people during
the constitution-making process. We are going to go into intensive dialogue
with the security service about how they will implement the Citizens
Protection Charter," she said.
But villagers who daily live with the threat of more burnt houses and bodies
say they can longer stand talk of plans that are still on paper.
Human rights organisations and some political parties have continued to file
reports of politically-motivated violence and arrests on a regular basis,
while noting the lack of justice.
The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), which records human rights violations,
said politically-motivated violence, especially in the form of of abusive
language and threats were on the increase.
ZPP latest figures show that recorded human rights violations, including
violence, rose to 979 in February from 779 in January this year.
Analysts, however, noted that it was not only the lack of justice that has
inflamed political tensions, but that community-based national healing has
Mandla Nyathi, a senior lecturer at Buckinghamshire New University in the
United Kingdom, said it was "mythical" to think that justice would lead to
reconciliation and that this in turn would lead to national healing.
"Forgiveness is not conditional to justice. Co-operative national healing is
bound to fail hence the need for an individualised approach to the subject
of national healing - you and I doing something at a local level that will
lead to an overall national healing success story," Nyathi, who teaches Risk
and Resilient Management, wrote in an online opinion piece.
Thursday, 06 May 2010 18:12
THE apparition of elections, since the fraudulent June 2008 presidential
run-off, has haunted Zimbabwe, yet politicians from both the MDC-T and Zanu
PF argue that another go at the polls would solve the country's problems.
Both President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai have on
several occasions spoken on the imminence of a general election as a way of
disentangling the country from the current political logjam as well as a
wobbly and stuttering economy.
Most Zimbabweans agree that there should be a solution to the political and
economic problems facing the country. They also believe in free and fair
elections. But they are at variance as to how this could be achieved.
Zimbabwe's political problems are centred on the issue of legitimacy which
is a result of the elections almost two years ago and despite a political
fig leaf in the form of the Global Political Agreement, the country remains
a pariah state as seen by how the international financial institutions have
hesitated to offer support.
Both Zanu PF and MDC-T have torn off this political fig leaf, highlighting
the "outstanding issues" which to a great extent have held the country to
ransom. Zanu PF insists that sanctions should be removed while the MDC
argues that the appointments of Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and Reserve
Bank Governor Gideon Gono should be reversed and that party treasurer Roy
Bennett be sworn in as Deputy Agriculture minister.
The political parties have been stuck over these issues for more than a year
now and the argument that another general election would clear the air makes
sense at face value.
However, while a general election would clear the way for a revived economy,
the country should be cautious and examine the conditions under which they
would be held. It would be wrong to say elections should be held immediately
after a new constitution because no matter how good the final document,
there are other factors which would count if the elections are to be free
and fair. A new constitution is drawn up without institutional reforms may
only serve to confront a new administration with the same problems that the
present government is facing.
Lessons should be learnt from the signing of the GPA which was thought to be
the turning point in the revival of the country.
It is thus important to address issues such as national healing, reforming
the police and judiciary, and reforming all institutions concerned with
holding elections. A new constitution may not address the issue of national
healing and having another election without concluding this or without
reforming law-enforcement agencies would be a recipe for disaster.
The country is injured, there should be a deliberate effort to make sure
that the injuries, some caused by state-sponsored violence, are healed for
us to start collecting the broken pieces and walk tall again as a nation.
This would be the first steps towards nation-building, something which we
forgot to undertake in the euphoria of the time. This is the area in which
the otherwise dormant Organ on National Healing has to play a big part
instead of being reduced to mere spectators in the unfolding drama where
they only collect information which gathers dust in offices without any idea
of what to do with it. The same criticism can be applied to Jomic which has
achieved nothing over the past year.
Another issue that has to be addressed before another election can be held
is to make sure that soldiers are kept in their rightful place - the
barracks. The military has no business in campaigning for a particular
political party or running elections or any other body that is tasked with
administration of polls. There are issues which may be addressed in the new
constitution, such as the body responsible for registration of voters, the
duties of the delimitation commission and how it would operate, the number
of seats and the parliamentary system.
However, no matter what the constitution says about the above, it is not an
end in itself. There must be a sense of responsibility and trust in such
institutions and this cannot be built on the platform of a constitution
alone. Confidence-building may take time, especially coming from a
background where these institutions were complicit in the flaws of the
country's elections. Even after all these issues have been addressed, there
still remains a hurdle as the country has to do a cost benefit analysis on
whether to hold elections at a time the coffers are empty and the public
service is restive as a result of poor salaries. What should come first, an
election which may or may not bring the country back on track, or mobilising
resources first and then hold elections later.
It would be ironical if the political leaders suddenly say they have the
financial resources to have a general election when there are more than 15
constituencies which have spent more than a year without representation
after they lost their MPs. By-elections have not been held in these
constituencies because of lack of resources and respective political parties
have chosen to ignore the whole issue while preferring to talk about the
next general election.
Thursday, 06 May 2010 17:58
LAST weekend Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai went back to his roots, the
He addressed the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions on Workers' Day.
Tsvangirai told workers that his unity government was sympathetic to their
He more than any other politician should have known all ears would be
listening keenly. Here was the premier with more than a year in the unity
government speaking on issues affecting the common man.
Tsvangirai declared: "There is no government policy on wage freeze. If ever
there is going to be such a policy, it must also take into consideration the
Underpaid government employees - by far the largest group of workers in the
country - were left confused by Tsvangirai's declaration that salaries of
civil servants had not been frozen.
Finance minister Tendai Biti, a senior member of Tsvangirai's Movement for
Democratic Change, last month announced a freeze on all salaries for
government workers. They presently earn between $150 and $250 a month.
Could it have escaped Tsvangirai that a senior colleague in his party and
government had said exactly the opposite a few days earlier?
Biti had explained that the wage bill for civil servants was taking up "70%"
of the unity government's rather limited revenue.
Both men, Biti and Tsvangirai, belong to the same teams in government and in
Therein lies the problem.
Was Tsvangirai just being nice to his hosts by telling them their depressed
salaries could be raised even though his colleague Biti said this was
Understandably, the state-owned media latched onto the anomaly and claimed
the MDC was heading for another split.
With talk of a possible election next year, any MDC split - real or
imagined - would bring a measure of comfort to President Robert Mugabe and
his Zanu PF party - via of course the state-owned newspapers, radio and
It was right Tsvangirai made a public declaration that his relations with
Biti were as good as
ever and the internal strife in his MDC party was being probed with an
intention to deal with the problem.
Besides, in a proper democracy different interpretations of the same event
are not necessarily taboo or a sign of anarchy.
Biti was obviously speaking as a government official privy to the meagre
contents of the national purse when he announced the "wage freeze". Biti
also gave a proviso that the situation could be reviewed once government
The fact that this week Biti sat next to Tsvangirai while he explained that
there was no rift between them seemed to escape the jaundiced eye of the
It is common practice for politicians all over the world to speak their
minds when they are addressing specific audiences - the devil always remains
in the detail.
If Tsvangirai was speaking to ZCTU members as president of the MDC he should
be given room to express his party's position - even if it seems contrary to
the position stated by government.
Biti's wage freeze pronouncement was made after it had been reportedly
tabled in cabinet making it a government matter.
Right thinking citizens do not expect the Finance minister to spend all the
government's money on paying civil servants, many of whom behave as if the
people they serve are their servants.
This storm in a teacup offers ordinary citizens an opportunity to see how
party politics can be different from government policy.
In other words the unity government may have policies designed and forced
onto the public by the stronger party, which has ruled over Zimbabwe for
By extension the MDC cannot always be in sync with the shared government it
Only when the MDC has achieved equal power in the unity government can we
expect to hold Tsvangirai to account for every government policy.
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