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Tsvangirai set to reshuffle MDC ministers

Friday, 06 May 2011 17:47

Tatenda Macheka/Paidamoyo Muzulu

MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai is set to reshuffle ministers from his
party in cabinet in a move aimed at accommodating his former organising
secretary, Elias Mudzuri.
Mudzuri overwhelmingly lost the organising secretary post to former party
spokesman Nelson Chamisa at the MDC-T national congress in Bulawayo last

Newly elected party spokesman Douglas Mwonzora confirmed yesterday that
Mudzuri would bounce back into cabinet but did not shed more light.

“It’s not the end of Mudzuri. It’s true that he is coming back as a
minister,” said Mwonzora.

Chamisa denied knowledge that a mini reshuffle was in the offing but told
the Zimbabwe Independent that Mudzuri would be retained on the party’s
national executive committee through a special appointment.

“The party president’s standing committee has the capacity to appoint 10
executive members and Mudzuri will be appointed an executive member. We held
a meeting on the issue of Mudzuri,” said Chamisa.

There is widespread speculation that the impending reshuffle would see
Information Communications Technology minister Chamisa being withdrawn and
redeployed to Harvest House to work full time on reconstituting and reviving
the MDC-T’s ailing structures.

Mudzuri is lying low weighing his options on political life in the aftermath
of his dramatic fall in the movement he served for the last decade in
different senior portfolios.

A subdued Mudzuri confirmed he was in self-imposed political hibernation and
doing self-introspection over his political career in an interview with the
Independent yesterday.

“I am doing self-introspection over my career,” he said. “This is not only
about the congress but a reflection of my political career. There is no need
to rush to make a decision about the future. I am taking a brief break.”

Mudzuri’s political misfortunes are legendary. He resoundingly won the
Harare executive mayoral vote in 2002 only to be ousted two years later by
Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo on unsubstantiated allegations of
maladministration and defying ministerial directives.

After the harmonised elections in 2008 Mudzuri was appointed Energy and
Power Development minister in the coalition government only to be demoted in
a mini-reshuffle last year.

Mudzuri declined to comment about his party’s just-ended congress but wished
all those who won well in their portfolios.

“I am not ready to comment on the congress elections. It’s not for me to
judge. Good luck to the new guys who got the jobs to complete the change.”

However, Mudzuri said he stood by comments he made a fortnight ago that the
MDC-T should have a deeper look at divisions and factionalism.

“The whole congress process needs a deep analysis,” he said. “As an
organisation we should not fool ourselves that all is well. The leadership
has to address so many complaints to the satisfaction of the members.
Failure to do so will leave the party fragmented and weak.”

Chamisa laughed off talk of factionalism in the MDC-T saying this emanated
from outsiders bent on sowing divisions in his party.

“There is no factionalism in the MDC. That is a false notion. Democracy is
not factionalism and what happened shows that MDC is a dynamic party.”

He said allegations that Tsvangirai retained some youths expelled for
violence through the back door were nonsensical.

“We operate in a systematic way and our president does not make decisions
alone. We follow a democratic protocol.”

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Mugabe in a fix

Friday, 06 May 2011 17:45

Dumisani Muleya

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, plagued by serious health problems, old age and
with his political plans collapsing around him, is sinking deeper into
political trouble amid revelations that even those close to him –– except
his military diehards –– think he has now reached a dead-end.
This comes as details obtained from high-level sources close to Mugabe’s
office show that he has been advised by a key top confidant to at least
announce when he would be retiring and sort out his divisive succession

A recent detailed “advisory note” to Mugabe from his close advisors has
implored the president to take advantage of his history and incumbency to
put his house in order and announce when he would be leaving, sources said.

The sources said Mugabe (87) is now in a quandary and his advisors were
gravely concerned because of a series of circumstances which include his old
age, health problems, Zanu PF infighting, the succession crisis, collapse of
his election plans, growing impatience by Sadc leaders, events in North and
West Africa and the hardening of international opinion against his 31-year

The “advisory note”, the sources said, was written against a backdrop of his
deteriorating health and advanced age. Mugabe’s wife Grace is also said to
be ailing.

A few weeks ago one of Mugabe’s key pillars of strength, CIO deputy director
Mernard Muzariri, died of liver cancer. To make matters worse, another key
Mugabe ally, the Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander, General Constantine
Chiwenga, going through a nasty divorce, was recently taken to China for
urgent medical attention, apparently after suffering food poisoning.

Mugabe himself has of late been shuttling between Harare and Singapore in a
bid to contain his health failure. Informed sources say Mugabe would have to
import one of his Asian doctors to come to Harare during elections to keep
him under constant medical observation due to his straining political

What could probably help, sources said, if the elections are held in 2013,
would be that he might not need to frequent Asian countries for checkups as
the Chinese are building a huge military complex on the outskirts of Harare
which would have VIP medical facilities.

The recent “advisory note” to Mugabe was reportedly informed by all these
problems around him, sources said. Power struggles within Zanu PF which now
threaten to unleash a wave of political instability and chaos if he
unexpectedly retires or dies are a major factor. Mugabe himself has said,
albeit for self-serving reasons, that Zanu PF would disintegrate if he goes.
The party, fractured and weakened by protracted infighting, is likely to
break up along its regional and ethnic fault lines.

“Pressure is mounting on the president to at least say when he is retiring
and resolve his succession predicament. It would be better if he retires, at
the very least he must start now the process of his succession or
retirement,” a senior official close to Mugabe’s office said. “Even those
surrounding him are getting increasingly jittery and impatient. Some are
genuinely concerned and that’s why they wrote an advisory note urging him to
be pro-active and to timely resolve the situation.”

Mugabe’s position is seen by those close to him and in top Zanu PF echelons
as vulnerable after his skirmishes with Sadc leaders following their
decision at a recent summit in Livingstone to rein him in.

The sources said the only people remaining steadfast in support of Mugabe
are state security service chiefs who are behind his strategy to go for
early elections.

Grouped under the Joint Operations Command (JOC), which brings together
army, police and intelligence chiefs, state security bosses are determined
to retain Mugabe in office to secure his, and concomitantly their, future.

Insiders say this is why they took a crucial decision to deploy a top Air
Force of Zimbabwe commander, Air Vice-Marshal Henry Muchena, who has
supposedly “retired”, to spearhead the Zanu PF election campaign. Muchena is
working with former CIO director-internal Sydney Nyanhongo and other
security agents to campaign for Mugabe and Zanu PF.

Top army commanders want Mugabe to stay for security of tenure and material
comfort. Fearing Mugabe was going to be defeated during the 2008 elections,
the commanders, including Chiwenga and several top generals, issued menacing
remarks bordering on coup threats warning they would not allow their
commander-in-chief to be removed even through democratic elections.

Prior to that, in the run-up to the hotly-disputed 2002 presidential
election has also made similar remarks and helped to retain Mugabe. During
that election senior army commander Brigadier-General Douglas Nyikayaramba
was deployed to campaign for Mugabe amid misleading claims he had resigned.

A senior Zanu PF official said Mugabe’s problems are getting worse because
his election plans have now collapsed. Mugabe has been pushing for elections
this year but has been thwarted by party political negotiators in the
ongoing political dialogue.

Although he was chosen as the Zanu PF candidate in the next presidential
elections at the party conference last December in Mutare, Mugabe is set to
lobby for reconfirmation since elections are no longer going to be held this
year. This means Mugabe has yet another gruelling task to convince his
restless party in December to endorse him as the candidate. In 2007 an
extraordinary Zanu PF congress had to be held to sort out Mugabe’s disputed
candidacy. This led politburo heavyweights Simba Makoni and Dumiso Dabengwa
to quit in protest.

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‘Securocrats a stumbling block to political reforms’

Friday, 06 May 2011 17:35

Paidamoyo Muzulu

SECUROCRATS and hawks in Zanu PF are the major stumbling block to democratic
and political reforms in Zimbabwe as outlined in the Global Political
Agreement, the British House of Commons was told last week.
Kate Hoey, a Labour MP and chairperson of the All Party Group on Zimbabwe
which visited the country in March, told the Commons that senior military
officials benefiting from the status quo were holding back reforms in

The all party group which visited Zimbabwe comprised Hoey, Oliver Colvile
(Conservatives), Lord Joffe, and David Banks who is the group’s convener.

“There is still massive resistance to political and economic reforms from
those in the political and military establishments. They see their personal
position of wealth and privilege threatened. We are all angry to see the
blatant dishonesty of those who are intent on protecting their power,” Hoey
told the House of Commons.

Hoey added that Britain and the EU were getting impatient with the slow pace
of reforms in its former colony.

Under the GPA, Zimbabwe is expected to undertake security sector reforms,
electoral reforms, media reforms and constitutional reforms, among a raft of
other reforms. Security sector reforms are seen as crucial in an environment
where the service chiefs and political hawks are accused of usurping cabinet

“The Joint Operations Command is composed of the high command of the
military, the police and the Central Intelligence Organisation. Many regard
it as a de facto ruling junta with the ability to overrule and countermand
decisions of ministers that run counter to the vested political interests of
the Zanu PF political and military oligarchy,” she said.

Labour MP Steven Twiggs said the world, and the UK in particular, should not
be distracted from dealing with the Zimbabwean issues by developments in
other parts of Africa.

“A number of honourable members have referred to events elsewhere in Africa
and the Middle East, and there is clearly a danger that the world and the UK
in particular will take its eyes off the ball,” Twiggs said.

Oliver Colvile said the UK should assist Zimbabwe in implementing reforms
and managing President Robert Mugabe’s exit from the political arena without
rattling the securocrats.

“If we are serious about creating an environment for fair and peaceful
elections, we must provide Mugabe with a face-saving solution,” he said.
“Mugabe’s disappearance as president will not be the end of the matter, as
too many people around him, especially the army, including senior army
officials, have invested in his presidency,” Colvile said.

He argued that the army and high command have an important role to play
because they would be keen to hold on to their investments, especially their
farms and other assets.

Colvile further urged the UK administration to help fund Zimbabwe’s
electoral and electronic media reforms to create an environment conducive
for holding elections.

“The need for a new list of electors was underlined by the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission which reckons that 27% of the names on the existing
list are those of dead people. We need to ensure that there is a balance in
the electronic media and that the non-Zanu PF opposition have the
opportunity to broadcast their messages via radio.”

Colvile suggested that the Department of International Development should
consider funding a transmitter in a neighbouring state such as Botswana or
Mozambique to provide balance.

Minister for Europe David Lidington said in response  that the UK
administration would keep its eye on the ball and maintain targeted
sanctions to force implementation of reforms.

“This government remains committed to them and the EU has made clear its
commitment to the continuation of those measures. We will remain willing to
revisit them within the year, but only if further concrete developments take
place on the ground. We will not be shifted by coerced signatures on a
partisan petition,” Lidington said.

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Security forces under spotlight

Friday, 06 May 2011 17:26

Dumisani Muleya

THE role of Zimbabwe’s security forces, the army, police and intelligence
service, is expected to come under the spotlight during inter-party talks on
the elections roadmap which resumed yesterday in Cape Town, amid growing
calls by the two MDC parties’ negotiators for them to be contained.

When the negotiators signed the roadmap document after a series of five
meetings in Harare on April 22, some issues remained unresolved.

The issue of the security forces is one of them. MDC negotiators are
demanding that the army, police and intelligence service, widely blamed for
political violence and intimidation, must be restrained from dabbling in
politics and contained to barracks before elections.

The negotiators, Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche of Zanu PF, Tendai
Biti and Elton Mangoma of MDC-T, and Moses Mzila Ndlovu and Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga of MDC-N, agreed on the roadmap and signed the
document which was forwarded to Zuma last week.

On April 8, the negotiators completed the review of the Global Political
Agreement (GPA) and the Government of National Unity (GNU) before sending a
report to Zuma.

Zuma’s facilitation team of Charles Nqakula, Mac Maharaj and Lindiwe Zulu
started meeting negotiators in Cape Town yesterday ahead of an extraordinary
Sadc summit in Windhoek on May 20.

In the roadmap, negotiators only agreed that consistent with the political
principals’ agreement of June 8 last year, all parties in the GPA must
reaffirm their commitment to Articles 11 and 13 of the accord, which is the
basis of the Government of National Unity (GNU). Article 11 of the GPA deals
with the rule of law, respect for the constitution and other laws, while
Article 13 focuses on state organs and institutions.

“State organs and institutions do not belong to any political party and
should be impartial in the discharge of their duties,” Article 13 of the GPA

For the purposes of ensuring that all state organs and institutions perform
their duties “ethically and professionally” in conformity with the
principles and requirements of a multi-party democratic system in which all
parties are treated equally, the parties have agreed that the following
steps be taken:

    that there be inclusion in the training curriculum of members of the
uniformed forces of the subjects on human rights, international humanitarian
law and statute law so that there is greater understanding and full
appreciation of their roles and duties in a multi-party democratic system;

    ensuring that all state organs and institutions strictly observe the
principles of the rule of law and remain non-partisan and impartial;

    laws and regulations governing state organs and institutions are
strictly adhered to and those violating them be penalised without fear or
favour; and

    recruitment policies and practices be conducted in a manner that ensures
that no political or other form of favouritism is practised.

This was prompted by the heavy involvement of security forces in politics,
especially after 2000. President Robert Mugabe’s growing political problems
and threats to his declining rule accounts for the increased role of the
military in civilian matters.

MDC negotiators are arguing that the military is first and foremost a
security institution that directly responds to the external and internal
threats to the state, not an individual ruler and his party. They say the
army, police and intelligence services must operate within the limits of the
constitution and law and avoid interfering in partisan politics.

Following a series of meetings in Harare last month, on April 4, 6, 7, 20
and 21, negotiators agreed there would be engagements between the principals
and state security service chiefs to sort out the problem, particularly
military involvement in domestic politics, mainly elections. It was agreed
that principals would hold meetings with army commanders, the police
commissioner-general and senior directors of the intelligence service, as
well as the Attorney-General to clear the issues.

However, negotiators disagreed on the need for security services chiefs to
issue a public statement committing themselves to professional and ethical
conduct in their duties.

The MDC formations had demanded that principals must “instruct the security
forces to issue a public statement that they will unequivocally uphold the
constitution and respect the rule of law in the lead-up to and following the
elections or referendum”, according to the roadmap.

But Zanu PF refused to agree to this, saying “this is not an election
 matter”. It further said “political parties have no right to direct
uniformed forces to issue political statements”.

Ironically, in the run-up to the hotly-disputed 2002 presidential election,
state security service chiefs, led by the then Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF)
commander, the late General Vitalis Zvinavashe, issued a political
statement, claiming the office of president is an institutional
“straitjacket” and they would not allow anyone without liberation struggle
credentials to come to power even if they won elections.

During that election senior army commander Brigadier-General Douglas
Nyikayaramba was deployed to campaign for Mugabe amid claims he had
resigned. Nyikayaramba is still in the army and has reportedly been involved
in electoral politics again.

More recently a top Air Force of Zimbabwe commander, Air Vice-Marshal Henry
Muchena, supposedly “retired” to spearhead the Zanu PF election campaign.

Muchena is working with former Central Intelligence Organisation
director-internal Sydney Nyanhongo and other security agents. It is said
battalions of serving troops are illegally campaigning for Mugabe and Zanu

Fearing Mugabe was going to be defeated during the 2008 elections, senior
army commanders, including ZDF commander General Constantine Chiwenga and
several top generals, issued menacing remarks bordering on coup threats,
prompting even regional governments to condemn them.

The South African government actually sent a team of retired generals to
investigate political violence and intimidation. Their report has not been
made public.

These events have fuelled demands by MDC negotiators that state security
forces must be restrained from politics as they set a bad precedent and
poison civil-military relations. MDC negotiators say Zimbabwe cannot be a
free society if it remains militarised at political and institutional

“Without restraining the military from politics and ensuring their role is
limited to participating as civilians, mainly during voting, there can’t be
free and fair elections in Zimbabwe,” a senior MDC-T negotiator said
yesterday. “For a long time the security forces have been allowed to
interfere in politics and this must now be urgently stopped once and for

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Depositors’ safety net a trifle US$1m

Friday, 06 May 2011 17:28

Brian Chitemba

DEPOSITS insurance in the country is weak and account holders do not have a
strong safety net to cushion them in the event of banks collapsing.
The Deposits Protection Board (DPB) –– created under the Banking Act Chapter
24:20 to administer the Deposit Protection Fund of Zimbabwe –– has raised
only US$1 million in the past two years and the treasury is not chipping in
with funds, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.

DPB CEO John Chikura said the money in the protection fund was raised
through premiums from banks but warned that it was not adequate to cater for
depositors if a bank closes.

In an interview on Wednesday, Chikura said the Ministry of Finance and the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) would intervene during a crisis through
releasing funds which would then be disbursed by the DPB to depositors.

“We raised money between 2004 and 2008 but the funds were eroded since it
was the Zimbabwe dollar era,” said Chikura. “We had to start sourcing funds
from 2009 and we still hope more will come into our coffers so that we
protect depositors in case a bank closes.”

This come amid recent reports that the seven financial institutions were
under distress and had failed to raise the statutory capital reserves as set
by the central bank.

The DPB was created under the Banking Act Chapter 24:20 to administer the
Deposit Protection Fund with a prime objective of offering deposit insurance
to depositors in financial institutions.

The board, Chikura said, mainly catered for small depositors against
disastrous consequences of a banking crisis.

But Chikura said the treasury had not financially supported the board
despite frantic efforts to seek assistance from the Finance ministry.

“We only got promises from the treasury that it will capitalise our board,
but it’s taking long. What we have in our coffers now may not cover many
banks but by design if the fund is not adequate, the Ministry of Finance and
RBZ will give us money,” he said.

Many account holders were affected by the 2004 banking crisis which saw some
financial institutions, including Royal Bank, Trust Banking Corporation and
Barbican Bank, being closed and had their assets merged to build the
Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group (ZABG). The banks were shut down by the RBZ
over alleged financial instability.

Chikura said DPB did not cover depositors during the 2004 crisis since the
organisation was still in its infancy.

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Health board intervenes in allowance ‘abuse’

Friday, 06 May 2011 17:24

Paidamoyo Muzulu

THE Health Services Board has intervened to halt the awarding of hefty
allowances to selected staff at Chitungwiza Central Hospital and other
health institutions.
In a letter dated March 8, the HSB executive director Ruth Kaseke advised
Health ministry permanent secretary Gerald Gwinji that the Public Service
Commission had instructed the Salary Services Bureau to cease payment of all
locum allowances until new guidelines were developed. The abuse of the
scheme seemed to have peaked from the beginning of dollarisation in February

Kaseke wrote: “It would seem there is abuse in the management of the scheme
and payment of locum allowances resulting in some institutions approving
locum allowances of over US$3 000 in a single month.”

Kaseke confirmed abuse of the scheme in an interview with the Zimbabwe
Independent but hastened to add new guidelines have been put in place.

“There were some inconsistencies in some claims that were brought forward
for payment prompting the investigations. We suspect some managers did not
understand the locum allowance circular resulting in higher claims.”

“We have since clarified the guidelines stating maximum hours a day and
maximum days a month permissible for locum allowances. People should not get
more than double their monthly salaries under the new scheme.”

Some staff members at Chitungwiza Central Hospital confirmed that payments
were taking place at the institution and only a few individuals were
benefiting from the windfall.

“The allowances were selectively given and approved by the CEO (Obadiah
Moyo). There was no clarity on who qualified and at what rate allowances
were paid,” said a source at the hospital.

Moyo was not available for comment and the acting CEO Edward Tadros was said
to be in a series of meetings. A senior official at the hospital said: “The
hospital administration handled the matter on the locum allowances and we
have complied with the order to stop payment of the said allowances until
new guidelines are developed.”

Meanwhile, staff at the hospital are riled by Moyo’s approval of the setting
up of a private pharmacy, a coffee shop and kiosk at the hospital’s main
reception area.

Chitungwiza Hospital spokesperson Audrey Tasaranarwo confirmed the
operations of private enterprises within the hospital, but said all was done
above board.

“The administration floated a tender for the pharmacy and it was awarded to
Balloon Flight, a Kadoma-based pharmaceutical company. The coffee shop and
kiosk are run by the hospital as income generating projects,” Tasaranarwo

She said the ideas for a coffee shop and kiosk were mooted by Moyo after one
of his European trips where he observed that many large hospitals had such

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Zesa to distribute six million energy-saving bulbs

Friday, 06 May 2011 17:23

Nqobile Bhebhe

ZESA CEO Josh Chifamba says the struggling power utility will distribute six
million energy-saving bulbs worth US$12 million for free countrywide in the
next three months.
Chifamba said this was part of a demand management side project.

“Close to six million CFL bulbs will be distributed for free countrywide to
replace incandescent light bulbs,” said Chifamba.

He revealed while addressing the Zimbabwe Business Conference at the ongoing
Zimbabwe International Trade Fair in Bulawayo under the theme “Reviewing the
Zimbabwe Energy Scenario, Practical Steps to achieve energy efficiency to
support growth of the Zimbabwe economy”.

As a result, Chifamba said close to 250 megawatts of peak capacity relief
energy would be made available daily.

“In the next three months, we would have built a virtual power station which
would produce quick power of about 250 megawatts at a cost of $12 million,”
he said.

Chifamba said it would cost $60 per kilowatt to build the virtual power

Incandescent light bulbs have been banned in other parts of the world but
there have been complaints that energy-saving bulbs are not as bright as the
incandescent ones.

Zimbabwe has an electricity shortfall of 400 MW of the 2000MW required

The power utility intends to cover the deficit through the introduction of
energy-saving legislation.

Zimbabwe currently produces 1300MW and imports 300MW, leaving a shortfall of

Chifamba did not reveal where the power utility would procure the energy
saving bulbs only saying this would aid consumers in lowering their bills
and reduce carbon emissions, among other things.

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Zim elections ‘in 12 months’

Friday, 06 May 2011 17:22

ELECTIONS in Zimbabwe will probably be held in the next 12 months, Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai told journalists at the World Economic Forum on
Africa in Cape Town yesterday, but they were unlikely to take place this
This, Tsvangirai said, was subject to the “fulfilment of certain benchmarks”
including the finalisation of a new constitution, a referendum and then an
agreed date for the elections.
It was of critical importance to ensure that the right conditions existed so
that when the elections were held, the results would be “no longer
contestable”, said Tsvangirai.
“Having gone through the experience of violence,” Tsvangirai said, “the next
election must produce a legitimate government so that we don’t have the
losers trying to negotiate their way back into power through some form of a
coalition like a government of national unity.”
The outcome of the election must be legitimate, credible and must be
conducted to the satisfaction of the Southern African Development Community
(Sadc), the African Union and the international community, he said.
Mugabe had called for elections this year to end the power-sharing rule
formed in 2008, after a disputed presidential vote marred by violence.
But he has appeared to back away from his insistence on the polls, after
Sadc leaders insisted in March that Zimbabwe draft a new constitution and
come up with a clear roadmap to the polls.
On April 27, Tendai Biti, the Finance minister from Tsvangirai’s party, told
local media that the country did not have the money to hold the proposed
elections in 2011.
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa was last week quoted in the state media
saying elections this year were doubtful because of many reforms that should
take precedence over  polls if they were to be free and fair. — M&G

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Union militancy watered down by unemployment

Friday, 06 May 2011 18:39

Paidamoyo Muzulu

ZIMBABWE joined the rest of the world in marking Workers’ Day on May 1 with
growing rumbles of discontent from workers, particularly civil servants,
concerned about the increasing gap between the rich and the poor.
Workers have stuck to their hopes of keeping their jobs in a shrinking
economy and politically fluid environment. They have stoically borne the
brunt of cuts in almost all areas of everyday life of the working class,
including redundancies, pay cuts and even shorter weeks.
That commemorations to mark Workers’ Day were muted in a country with an
estimated unemployment rate of close to 90% is in itself a wonder.
Union leaders were at pains to explain to workers why they still earned
paltry wages and faced poor working conditions since dollarisation of the
economy in February 2009. Workers’ lifestyles have largely remained
unchanged, except that goods are now available although still inaccessible
to the ordinary masses.
The government is the single largest employer and battling to contain its
wage bill in the face of other competing interests. Civil servants take home
wages of US$200 a month, which is far below the poverty datum line of US$504
for a family of six.
One would have thought that higher unemployment might suggest more potential
activism, in part because there are more people with time on their hands to
organise, to mobilise and protest. But in Zimbabwe’s case, it seems that
those still in employment are reluctant to participate in industrial action
for fear of putting their jobs at risk.
The unemployed are also not well integrated into the trade union movement.
There is a lot of populist rhetoric from union leaders but no action on the
ground to back it up. Three times since February 2009 have civil servants
threatened to embark on nationwide strikes to push for better salaries and
three times they did nothing.
Government has continuously promised a review of conditions of service and
remuneration once its revenues improved but an economy with an industrial
capacity utilisation hovering below 50% means that promise remains a pipe
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) acknowledges the hard times
facing workers and has continuously engaged employers seeking improvement of
working conditions and salaries. However, the trade union movement concedes
that negotiations have not produced the best for workers largely due to
economic depression.
ZCTU acting Secretary-General Japhet Moyo said that the prevailing economic
and political factors were militating against the union to use its
traditional protest strategies.
Moyo said: “With over 90% unemployment, it’s difficult for workers to engage
in industrial action. There are so many people prepared and ready to take
their jobs even in those pathetic conditions. This has watered down the
unions’ militancy.”
Moyo argued that it was much better for the workers to keep their jobs and
use other strategies to improve their conditions.
“Workers would rather stay employed since this gives them an opportunity at
least to do other activities to make money while using the employer’s
resources. That is what has kept most workers going,” said Moyo.
Labour unions have since 2000 complained that the state used excessive force
to crush public demonstrations and industrial action.
“The union militancy has been greatly curtailed by police brutality and
government’s heavy handedness in dealing with demonstrations. This has been
a major factor,” Moyo said.
Labour and Economic Development Research Institute of Zimbabwe director
Godfrey Kanyenze argued that unionism had less space to move in a depressed
economy.Kanyenze said the starting  point was for government to rationalise
civil service in relation to its strategic economic development interests.
“The Government should convene an all-stakeholder conference to deliberate
on the findings of Ernest and Young (India) skills and payroll audit. The
audit report’s recommendations should be used as the basis of way forward in
restructuring and streamlining of the civil service and lead to improvement
of salaries,” Kanyenze said.
“The role of the state needs to be redefined in line with its resource
envelope. The government has an option to continue with a bloated and
underpaid workforce or rationalise it and create a lean, efficient and
properly remunerated civil service.”
Labour remains adamant that retrenchments have been inept since 1990. It
claims that the civil service workforce had greatly diminished from an all
time high of 1,6 million in 1996 to 578 000 in 2011, but wages remained low
for the majority. The ZCTU has taken a new route of seeking legal recourse
to settle disputes and this strategy seems to be producing favourable

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Presidential pardons: There should be transparency

Friday, 06 May 2011 18:38

Wongai Zhangazha

THE 1988 Willowgate scandal will probably go down as one of Zimbabwe’s
biggest and most celebrated examples of rampant corruption.
The scandal involved underhand dealings in which government ministers and
other high profile individuals purchased vehicles from Willowvale Motor
Industries at cheap fixed rates and resold them at a substantial mark-up.
President Robert Mugabe set up an inquiry headed by Justice Wilson Sandura,
but he went on to grant amnesty to all government ministers who were
But one of Mugabe’s senior ministers, Maurice Nyagumbo, could not stand the
shame and took his life.
Another top Zanu PF official Fredrick Shava, who was the Labour, Manpower
and Social Welfare minister, was sentenced to a jail term but was pardoned
by Mugabe without spending a single night in prison.
Today Shava is Zimbabwe’s ambassador to China.
This marked the beginning of a litany of presidential pardons which Mugabe
used to gain loyalty from members of his inner circle and consolidate his
grip on power.
In 1990 the late Patrick Kombayi escaped death by a whisker when he was shot
and seriously injured by then Zanu PF youth leader Kizito Chivamba and state
security agent Elias Kanengoni during a heated election campaign.
Kombayi’s only crime was to contest against the late Vice-President Simon
Muzenda for a parliamentary seat in the general election on an opposition
Zimbabwe Unity Movement ticket in Gweru.
Chivamba and Kanengoni were charged and convicted of attempted murder, but
again Mugabe intervened and pardoned them. Chivimba is now an MP
representing Chiwundura in the Midlands while Kanengoni is a top spy and
Zanu PF Mashonaland Central provincial member.
The most recently scandalous pardon was the one granted to convicted rapist
and self-styled prophet Godfrey Nzira, popularly known as Madzibaba Nzira.
Nzira, who is the leader of the Johanne Masowe weChishanu, was convicted on
seven counts of rape and one of indecent assault involving two women at his
shrine in 2003. He was subsequently slapped with a 42-year jail term.
Ten years were suspended on condition of good behaviour leaving Nzira to
serve an effective 32 years.
Nzira dabbled in Zanu PF politics as a way of gaining favour and protection
before his conviction and sentence.
He would preach Zanu PF mantras at his gatherings as well as routinely order
his congregants to attend the party’s rallies.
Zanu PF, with its political appeal waning, remembered Nzira, who had
languished in jail for seven years, and granted him a pardon on medical
Nzira was quickly set free in January and the convicted rapist threw a
lavish “homecoming” gig at his shrine in Chitungwiza.
It was no surprise then that Nzira’s “homecoming” event was attended by
Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and Information and Publicity minister
Webster Shamu.
The self-styled prophet told hundreds of his flock that he was going to
fight against the “illegal sanctions imposed by Britain and her allies” and
also “fight to death to see the empowerment of my people” despite his
failing health.
His preaching of the Zanu PF campaign gospel has raised eyebrows in human
rights circles leaving many questioning whether Nzira’s pardon was purely on
medical grounds.
Lately, Zanu PF has been targeting indigenous churches for support as it
braces for a general election set for next year.
Mugabe has graced a number of church gatherings where some church members
were made to sign Zanu PF’s anti-sanctions petition.
Last week, Vice-President Joice Mujuru, who is a Salvation Army member, and
Zanu PF politburo member Cliveria Chizema attended a Johanne Masowe
weChishanu prayer convention clad in the church’s white robes.
The MDC has charged that Nzira had been specifically pardoned by Mugabe to
“embark on a Zanu PF campaign trail, targeting members of his sect to
support Mugabe and Zanu PF in the event of an early election”.
Director of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Irene Petras said pardons in a
political situation such as Zimbabwe’s were “dangerous”.
Petras said: “There is a long history of controversial presidential pardons
that have happened over the years. These pardons are very dangerous in the
sense that they give a culture of impunity and a feeling that others benefit
even if they have perpetrated human rights violations.”
“There should be a transparent record,” she said. “People need to understand
what was wrong with Nzira. One minute he was coming out of prison looking
very ill and then we see him later campaigning for a (political) party. Then
it brings back the issue of people
questioning the need for him getting the pardon.”
Petras said the fact that Nzira had not even served half of his sentence for
raping seven women set a bad precedent for realisation of women’s rights and
protection of women.
“This is a blow for the protection of any rape survivor,” she said.
Some activists called for the review of the presidential powers in the new
constitution to close loopholes for abuse.
The Law Society of Zimbabwe in its submissions of its own model constitution
to the constitution select committee proposed that parliament be
strengthened and presidential powers which Mugabe widely enjoys be
Constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku attacked Nzira’s pardon as a
brazen abuse of presidential powers by Mugabe.
“That was purely an abuse of the presidential pardon which we know is not
anything new,” Madhuku said. “Mugabe has always used presidential pardons
for political reasons. He has been abusing the constitution from day one. In
a new constitution there is need for a presidential advisory body that will
work together with the president in issuing pardons.”

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Zimplats set to conclude BEE talks with govt

Thursday, 05 May 2011 17:03

Paul Nyakazeya

ZIMBABWE Platinum Mines Ltd (Zimplats) expects to conclude talks about local
ownership proposals with government next week, according to CEO Alex
“We expect the talks to be complete within two weeks,” Mhembere said.
Zimplats is Zimbabwe’s largest platinum producer.
The deadline for all mining companies to submit their indigenisation and
black empowerment plans as per government’s law is Monday next week. The law
requires all mining companies to dispose 51% of their equity to designated
entities that in theory will house those shares on behalf of indigenous
“There is a big appetite for a stake in Zimplats by people in business and
political office. We will reveal their identity when the right time comes to
ensure that all is done in a transparent manner,” he said.
Zimplats, together with Anglo Platinum and global miner Rio Tinto, are some
of the foreign mining companies that have operations in Zimbabwe and will be
expected to comply with the indigenisation laws.
The mining company also said it was on target to meet its full-year output
target of 180 000 ounces this year, a figure they said would be maintained
until 2013.
Zimplats’ revenue  was  US$130 million in the third quarter ending March 31,
7% lower than the previous quarter’s US$139 million.
“Operating profit declined by 12%  to US$65,6 million from US$74,7 million
in December last year,” Mhembere said.
He said metal prices had remained buoyant underpinned by some recovery that
has been recorded in the major world economies. Unit Cost performance was
adversely affected by higher fuel prices as well as the costs of scheduled
plant maintenance.
Cash cost of production per 4E oz increased by 10% to US$702. Operating
margins declined from 53% to 50%.
CFO Patrick Maseva-Shayawabaya said output of metal concentrate had dipped
to 84 000 tonnes for the quarter to March 2011, from 92 964 tonnes the
previous quarter, after maintenance work on its mine.
Mhembere said Ngezi Phase 2 Expansion Project had commenced and was
currently on schedule.
Zimplats said it invested US$163 million in social responsibility projects
in the first quarter. It had invested US$68 million in community
infrastructure development, including a US$25 million 330-kilovolt
electricity sub-station at Selous, US$19 million on Selous-Ngezi Highway and
US$13 million on a 132-kilovolt Zesa power line from Selous to Ngezi.
The mining company also invested US$10 million on the Ngezi Road
Rehabilitation, US$17 million on Island Dam construction and US$30 million
in employee housing construction.
Other social investments included US$3 million on Zesa control centre
computer upgrade, installation of a fibre optic line to Ngezi, switching
equipment for TelOne valued at US$1 million and a US$1 million Ngezi
Agro-industrial project.
The group said it was awaiting commencement of the process of debt
assumption by the government concerning its US$26 million the company was
owed by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.
Last year, parent company Implats invested US$500 million in Zimplats.
However, Implats chief executive David Brown said the holding company would
take a cautious approach in developing its Zimbabwean assets due to the
uncertainty created by the indigenisation

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‘US$70m facility to recapitalise local companies ready’

Thursday, 05 May 2011 17:03

Nqobile Bhebhe

FOUR local financial institutions are ready to disburse nearly US$70 million
as part of a US$100 million Africa Import and Export Bank (Afreximbank)
facility to recapitalise local companies, Industry and Commerce minister
Welshman Ncube has said.
TN Bank,   FBC Bank, BancAbc and NMB Bank would handle the facility.
Ncube said: “These banks have already signed agreements with Africa Import
and Export Bank (Afreximbank) on how to operate the facility. Local
companies may access the funds through the Industrial Development Bank of
Zimbabwe (IDBZ), Post Office Bank (POSB), Agribank and ZB bank. It is up to
industry to use these financial institutions to access the resources.”
Ncube was addressing delegates attending a one day International Business
Conference at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair on Wednesday under the
theme: “Key issues that need to be tackled to re-equip the Zimbabwean
industry into a high tech and volume output competitive manufacturing sector
in the region centre.”
Ncube urged companies to take advantage of potentially large markets within
the Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa) and South African
Development Community (Sadc) as preferred destinations for exports.
“As the region prepares for the grand tri-partite free trade area, more
access to market opportunities would emerge and more competition would
result,” said Ncube.
Comesa and Sadc are in talks aimed at setting up a single monetary union and
a free trade area by 2016. A tripartite summit is scheduled for South Africa
this month.
Alhough Afreximbank has availed considerable resources for local industries,
the pace of disbursement could be slow in relation to industry requirements,
Ncube said.
“Government appreciates the efforts of these banks in making lines of credit
available. Internally government originally availed US$20 million under the
Special Drawing Rights (SDR) for distressed companies fund which was
subsequently leveraged by US$50-70  million and transformed into ZETREF
(Zimbabwe Economic and Trade Revival Facility),” he said.
Ncube said the current situation where 80% of retail shelves of
basic commodities was taken up by imported goods was not only unhealthy but
unsustainable in the long-term, given that 60% of the manufacturing sector
inputs are from agriculture.
On imports, Ncube said the economy continued to absorb a disproportionately
large amount of finished products, with the latest balance of payments
projections showing total imports rising from US$$3,2 billion in 2009 to
US$3,6 billion in 2010.
“This imbalance is further aggravated by the fact that the composition of
exports is highly concentrated on raw materials, with mining contributing
52% of total exports in 2009, agriculture 13% and manufacturing contributing
18% in the same year,” he said.

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