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US, Zim standoff


Rangarirai Mberi
Ambassador heads for Washington
THE Ministry of Foreign Affairs has handed United States ambassador
Christopher Dell a strongly worded protest letter warning him of possible
expulsion over his scathing criticism of the Zimbabwean government.

Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi summoned Dell yesterday
morning and handed him a diplomatic note - a formal letter between
governments and embassies - accusing the US envoy of alleged breach of
Zimbabwean law and warning that government would not hesitate to expel him.

"The ministry, I stated to the ambassador, takes very, very serious
exception to his conduct. We will not hesitate to invoke the appropriate
provisions of the Vienna Convention should at any time in the future the US
ambassador again act in violation of the laws of this country," Mumbengegwi
Under the Vienna Convention, governments can expel foreign diplomats for
interfering in domestic affairs.

The Financial Gazette has established that following Harare's formal
protest, Dell is heading for Washington for meetings over the matter, a
possible sign of how seriously he views government's threats.

"Ambassador Dell met with Foreign Affairs Minister Mumbengegwi this morning.
The Foreign Affairs Minister passed Ambassador Dell a diplomatic note. The
ambassador reserved the right to make an appropriate reply after
consultations in Washington," the US embassy confirmed yesterday.
Government spokesman George Charamba said the diplomatic note should be
taken as a warning to the US envoy.

"He was told to stick to his job as an ambassador. This is a serious gesture
by any host government that says 'you do it again and you can be expelled'".
Although Mumbengegwi would not disclose the details in the diplomatic note,
sources say it accuses Dell of breaking Zimbabwean law by "interfering in
the internal affairs" of the country.

Government has been stung by Dell's trashing of its repeated claims that
Zimbabwe's economic decline has been caused by drought and Western sanctions
imposed on senior ruling ZANU PF figures. According to Dell, economic
mismanagement and government's "corrupt rule" are at the root of the crisis.
Earlier this week, a spokesperson for the US Embassy told The Financial
Gazette that Dell had been forced to respond after a series of attacks on
the US by President Robert Mugabe. The spokesperson cited President Mugabe's
speech in Rome last month, in which he called US President George W. Bush
and British leader Tony Blair "international terrorists" who were similar to
Hitler and Mussolini.

On Tuesday, state television asked President Mugabe for his reaction to what
a reporter described as a "rabble-rousing" ambassador "doing the bidding of
the MDC". The President threatened: "Tell him
that I can't even spell 'Dell'. But I can spell H-E-L-L and he might be
there one of these days."
This came just as the US State Department backed Dell's comments, saying:
"This propaganda aims to distract and confuse the Zimbabwean people about
the real cause of their distress."
Mumbengegwi's formal protest to Dell marks a new low in relations between
Harare and Washington, which deteriorated further last month when armed
security officials held the US ambassador after he strayed into a security
zone at the Botanical Gardens, near President Mugabe's official residence.

Despite earlier apologies to Dell, government later accused the envoy of
deliberately entering the area in a bid to spark an "unwarranted diplomatic
the MDC". The President threatened: "Tell him that I can't even spell 'Dell'.
But I can spell H-E-L-L and he might be there one of these days."
This came just as the US State Department backed Dell's comments, saying:
"This propaganda aims to distract and confuse the Zimbabwean people about
the real cause of their distress."
Mumbengegwi's formal protest to Dell marks a new low in relations between
Harare and Washington, which deteriorated further last month when armed
security officials detained the US ambassador after he strayed into a
security zone at the Botanical Gardens, near President Mugabe's official
Despite earlier apologising to Dell, government later accused the envoy of
deliberately entering the area in a bid to spark an "unwarranted diplomatic

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New UN envoy for Zim


Njabulo Ncube

KOFI Annan, the United Nations Secretary General who last week slammed the
government over its intransigence in refusing to admit humanitarian
assistance following the devastation of the drought and Operation
Murambatsvina, will dispatch another special envoy next month.

Jan Egeland, the UN relief coordinator, is expected in Harare in early
December to assess the humanitarian crisis besetting the southern African

Egeland had initially planned to visit Harare this month but diplomatic
sources said the trip had to be postponed to December due to the Senate
elections scheduled to be held on November 26.
"I plan to go at the beginning of December," Egeland told reporters at the
United Nations on Monday. "I will look at the relief effort not only (for)
those who were victims of the eviction campaign but even more so (for) the
millions that will have to be fed in view of a very severe food shortage."

In a no-holds-barred statement last week, Annan said he was gravely
concerned by the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe as it emerged that
thousands of people were still sleeping in the open and in urgent need of
aid five months after the beginning of the government's controversial
clean-up exercise.

The UN chief, who has spurned an invitation by President Mugabe to visit
Zimbabwe after the publication of a hard-hitting report on Operation
Murambatsvina, also expressed dismay over the government's rejection of UN
assistance amid reports of homelessness and starvation in the country. A UN
report on the demolition of dwellings authored by Tanzanian Anna Tibaijuka
said the campaign, which had all the hallmarks of a military operation, had
left 700 000 people homeless or without sources of income or both, in cities
and towns across the country while a further 2,4 million were affected in
varying degrees.

The government's Operation Garikai/ Hlalani Kuhle, a successor to Operation
Murambatsvina, has dismally failed to provide adequate and decent
accommodation to victims of its roundly condemned clean-up operation.

The UN World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that 4.3 million Zimbabweans are
in need of food aid but the Harare authorities are adamant that only 2.4
million people require assistance. The WFP, which has come to the aid of
Zimbabwe during past droughts, is presently feeding one million people in
the country and making preparations to feed 2.9 million people before the
end of the year.

Last August, Egeland said that following a US$11,9 million (10 million-euro)
appeal launched by his Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs
in early July, the UN was undertaking a big humanitarian programme aimed at
reaching between 100 000 and 200 000 people.
The UN extended the aid offer to 10 000 people who were still sleeping in
the open when rains started falling last week.

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'Minister Mushohwe destroyed NRZ'


Nelson Banya

THE chairman of the recently dissolved National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ)
board, Sam Geza, this week lashed out at Transport and Communications
Minister Christopher Mushohwe, saying he was "the major stumbling block in
the implementation of the parastatal's turnaround programme."

While the minister cited failure to implement a sound turnaround programme
as one of the reasons behind the dissolution of the NRZ board, Geza in turn
accused Mushohwe of misleading Vice President Joice Mujuru, who oversees
parastatals and local authorities, and Cabinet over the utility's stalled
turnaround project.

Geza this week described the acrimonious relationship his board had with the
minister, saying matters came to a head when he contradicted Mushohwe in
Mujuru's presence during a meeting called to review the parastatal's
"On September 7, the honourable Vice President Mujuru called for a review of
the NRZ's performance in the first six months of 2005 as well as progress on
NRZ's turnaround at her offices.

"The minister gave a rundown showing that everything was going well and on
course except for delays in the funding of the programme by the RBZ. As
board chairman, I differed with the minister, pointing out that he had
actually stopped implementation on July 13 and that there was nothing taking
place on the ground. The question that begs an answer is how often the
minister has misled Cabinet and the presidium about tthe NRZ's turnaround.
He feels sore that the chairman reported him to the vice president for
errors of commission and omission. For him, it is payback time," Geza said,
adding that Mushohwe seems intent on frustrating a turnaround strategy
approved by Cabinet in May 2005 that would have seen the NRZ being unbundled
into four strategic business units.

Geza said the minister had also rejected an earlier plan put together under
his predecessor, the late Witness Mangwende.

"The minister rejected the Mangwende approach in favour of his own version,
which the board found most contradictory and confusing. Attempts to get
clarity from the new minister were unsuccessful as he was evasive or never
available. The board sought the assistance of the then permanent secretary
to explain the minister's ideas. This only led to a crisis and the booting
out of the then permanent secretary who was accused by the minister of
ganging up with the board to undermine his authority."
Geza said the turnaround plan was stalled by a lengthy cabinet approval
process - which took over six months - as well as the minister's own

"The minister sat on the NRZ document for 10 months without obtaining
Cabinet approval.
"The NRZ produced a document on time but did not meet the requirements of
bankability. The board produced a second document in time with the
requirements of the RBZ, which also met the minister's deadline. The
chairman submitted both documents to the minister pointing out the flaws of
the Tripartite Turnaround Committee (TTC) document and requesting him to
submit to the RBZ the full requirements of the bank for the immediate
release of funds to enable the start of implementation in July 2004.

"The minister did nothing. Instead, he demanded from the chairman a copy of
the bankable document, which the RBZ governor had obtained in Bulawayo, to
be sent to him because protocol had been breached. The governor had accepted
the bankable document as meeting the requirements of the bank for funding
purposes. He had indicated that if the other two documents - externally
audited accounts for 2003, which were available at the time, and the letter
of support from the minister - reached his desk the following day, NRZ would
have been one of the first parastatals to access financing from the
Productive Sector Facility.

"The minister kept mum. Later, around November 2004, the permanent secretary
advised the board that NRZ's turnaround had to be submitted for Cabinet
approval before implementation. Clearly it was necessary for the minister to
have submitted NRZ's funding request to the RBZ to enable the utility to
obtain funding to carry on regular maintenance of equipment, infrastructure
and facilities while Cabinet considered the policy aspects of the
turnaround. As things were, the board's hands were tied in carrying out the
full implementation of the turnaround despite the fact that NRZ at the time
had only 13 fully powered locomotives out of a fleet of 175," Geza said.
Geza also expressed surprise at how George Mlilo, himself an NRZ board
member who was appointed permanent secretary in the transport and
communications ministry last month and was privy to the Cabinet sanctioned
turnaround plan, turned around and instructed the board to implement a plan
opposed to that approved by Cabinet.
On November 1, Mushowe dismissed Geza's board, which was appointed in
December 2003 following the dissolution of the previous board in the wake of
the Dete train disaster.

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Wheat farmers cry foul over non-payment


Felix Njini

THE cash strapped Grain Marketing Board (GMB) is failing to pay farmers for
wheat deliveries, prompting an outcry from the producers who are now
lobbying for the finance ministry to intervene. Farmers said the failure by
the heavily indebted GMB to pay for wheat deliveries would affect
preparations for the next season.

The startling revelations come as wheat production has continued to fall
drastically since the start of the farm invasions in 2000.

The Commercial Farmer's Union (CFU) has now appealed to the ministry of
finance to pay for wheat deliveries, some of which were made a month ago.
"Although some farmers delivered their wheat over a month ago, payments have
still not been made. This puts farmers in a difficult position, as they do
not have their workers' wages and contractors for harvesting the crop and
purchase inputs for the summer crop," the CFU said.
"We appeal to the minister of finance to release funds to the GMB so that
farmers can be paid," the CFU said this week.

Experts in the wheat producing industry have painted a gloomy picture of the
forthcoming farming season, predicting yet another bleak chapter for the
sector due to continued disruptions in the farming industry and pervasive
input shortages.
Zimbabwe requires up to 400 000 tonnes of wheat annually against dwindling
output as the crisis on the farms continues unabated. Wheat output has
fallen from 360 000 tonnes in 2001 to 280 000 tonnes in 2002 and from 150
000 tonnes in 2003 to 80 000 tonnes for 2004. Farming experts have put this
year's output at less than 70 000 tonnes while GMB officials claim wheat
deliveries will top 80 000 tonnes.

Analysts also said the failure by GMB, which has been rationing wheat
throughout the year, would result in farmers side-marketing their wheat to
senior government officials who "know avenues of exporting the scarce
GMB chief executive Samuel Muvuti said the loss making monopoly was having
"logistical and administrative problems."
"But we are trying to put our act together," Muvuti said.

More importantly, the GMB chief hinted that the parastatal's coffers had run
dry adding that they are currently waiting for a cash handout from the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).
He said the GMB needed to fork out more than $2 trillion to pay the farmers
for wheat deliveries only.
"There have been delays and we are very apologetic about that. We know
farmers are hard put to purchase inputs and foot their operational costs,"
Muvuti said.
"The central bank has agreed to release the $2 trillion in batches so that
we can pay the farmers," said Muvuti, who, however refused to disclose the
exact date when payment to the farmers would start.

The GMB's monopoly, in place since 2001 when the government abolished the
Zimbabwe Agricultural Commodities Exchange, has become an unmitigated policy
disaster, judging by the string of losses the parastatals has continued to
record, along with its failure to secure the country's strategic grain

In 2003, GMB registered a $24.8 billion loss, before the figure rose to $302
billion in 2004. Management at the parastatal has blamed the losses on a
state-imposed uneconomic pricing policy.
Analysts said the GMB has failed in its mandate to ensure food security,
particularly for staple products such as maize and wheat.

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Govt to evict 300 farm invaders


Zhean Gwaze

THE government has pledged to evict more than 300 farm invaders settled on
timber plantations in the Eastern Highlands, amid revelations that the
illegal settlers had prejudiced the industry of more than US$22 million this

Manicaland governor Tinaye Chigudu said there was no reprieve for new
farmers who had settled on land disrupting primarily the operations of
Border Timbers, Forestry Company of Zimbabwe and the Wattle Company in

Farmers resettled by government under the A1 fast-track land reform and A2
model scheme since 2000 have been cutting down trees for domestic use and
burning grass willy-nilly.

Chigudu said he would hold consultative meetings with Lands and Agriculture
Minister Joseph Made and the Minister of National Security and Land
Resettlement, Didymus Mutasa, to sort out modalities on the way forward in
evicting the new farmers.

The Manicaland governor lashed out at the illegal settlers following United
States ambassador Christopher Dell's stinging criticism of the government's
approach to land reform.

"The government's policy of land seizures and tolerance for chaotic
disruptions on commercial farms led to the collapse in food production. The
impact of the farm invasions has extended beyond the plight of the thousands
of individual expropriated farm owners. The land grab has intensified the
suffering of Zimbabwe's most vulnerable segments of society-the rural and
urban poor," Dell said.

In response to Dell's stinging attack, Chigudu said the new farmers would be
kicked off the plantations in line with the 'corrective measures' government
was undertaking to normalise the situation on the farms.

"Government realised it was a wrong decision because some people settled
where they are not supposed to be. Here in Manicaland, we are not going to
have anyone interfering with the timber and wood industry operations,"
Chigudu said.
Chigudu's statements come amid reports that export timber worth more than
US$22 million was lost due to forest fires caused by the illegal settlers
since the beginning of this year.

Zimbabwe's Timber Producers Federation chairman Joseph Kanyekanye said
reckless new farmers who illegally occupied the plantation since 2000 have
been causing the fires.

A total of 3 233.1 hectares of trees were destroyed by forest fires between
January and September 2005. Industry players said a total of 6 655.2
hectares have been destroyed by fires since the beginning of the decade,
compared to 4 275.3 hectares destroyed by fire in the whole of the last

"Fire damage in the last four years is greater than the previous 30 years
put together," said Kanyekanye.
He accused government of turning a deaf ear to complaints.

"There is no reaction as the matter would be deemed political. The absence
of policy and related lawlessness is encouraging illegal occupation of the
plantations," Kanyekanye lamented.

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MDC rift: Tsvangirai to brief diplomats


Njabulo Ncube

WITH a damaging split inevitable in the faction-ravaged Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), Morgan Tsvangirai today meets diplomats accredited
to Harare to brief them on the state of the main opposition, amid
indications the Welshman Ncube-led faction has snubbed a national council
appointed mediation committee.

Party insiders said the mediation committee headed by the party national
chairman had met with stiff opposition from Ncube's Matabeleland-based camp.
However, sources close to the members of the mediation committee said the
committee had received a positive response from deputy secretary general
Gift Chimanikire, the legislator for Mbare. "It looks like Gift
(Chimanikire) might come back to the fold but the Matabeleland guys have
taken a hard-line stance, as evidenced by statements attributed to Vice
President Sibanda," said the source.

Eddie Cross and Thoko Khupe, the MDC legislator for Makokoba, appointed
together with party chairman Isaac Matongo to the mediation committee by the
national executive council, both confirmed they had been snubbed by the
Matabeleland group.
Investigations by this newspaper showed that not a single candidate had
heeded last Saturday's national council meeting decision for the party's
candidates registered to contest the November 26 polls to withdraw before
the set deadline tomorrow, an indication the Ncube camp was prepared to
sever ties with Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai, who is vehemently against Zimbabwe's biggest opposition
participating in the senate elections set for November 26, is scheduled to
address a Star rally in Bulawayo on Saturday to drum-up support for his
anti-senate crusade amid revelations his camp has thwarted efforts by the
Welshman Ncube-led faction to cancel the meeting at White City Stadium.

MDC insiders at Harvest House revealed yesterday that the Ncube camp had
seized control of the main opposition's purse in the hope of scuppering
Tsvangirai's campaign against November 26 polls that has seen the
beleaguered leader crisis-cross the length and breath of the country,
including Matabeleland where he allegedly received a hostile reception at
Lupane from youths his camp charged yesterday were paid to cause havoc.

The insiders, speaking on condition of anonymity in the wake of hostilities
surrounding the sharp divisions that have bisected the party, revealed that
local donors were bank-rolling Tsvangirai's nation-wide anti-senate crusade.

Ncube, his deputy Gift Chimanikire and national treasurer Fletcher
Dulini-Ncube are the three signatories to the party's coffers. "The party's
constitution does not allow the president to be a signatory to any of the
party's financial accounts. So the camp in Bulawayo is having unlimited
access to the party's coffers," added another source.
Those close to Ncube's camp said the faction moved the secretariat, which is
directly under the secretary general, to Bulawayo fearing violence at
Harvest House, the headquarters of the MDC. However sources in Tsvangirai's
camp yesterday dismissed the claims pointing out that Ncube's secretary and
Vice President Gibson Sibanda's personal assistant reported for duty at
Harvest House everyday without any incidents. William Bango, Tsvangirai's
spokesman, said the MDC leader was undeterred and would forge ahead with his
anti-senate campaign.

"We are going to the people. There is a diplomatic briefing tomorrow. On
Sunday Mr Tsvangirai is going to address a rally at White City after meeting
structures on Saturday. The campaign against the senate and for a new
constitution is going on," said Bango

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Disaster looms on the farms


Njabulo Ncube

RAINS pounded most parts of Zimbabwe this week, signalling the official
start of the planting season but the country - grappling with an economic
recession now in its sixth year - looks ill prepared to mount a serious
charge towards securing food security.

The Zimbabwe government, under the world's gaze for the past few years after
President Robert Mugabe controversially seized prime land from white
commercial farmers for redistribution to landless blacks, is desperate to
confound critics of its agricultural reforms.

However, agricultural experts and analysts who spoke to The Financial
Gazette this week said another disastrous season was on the cards.
Investigations this week also showed that the majority of the recipients of
land under the resettlement programme were battling to acquire fuel to power
tractors and other agricultural implements due to a crippling shortage of
petrol and diesel.

Most basic farming inputs, such as seed maize and fertiliser, were being
sourced at black market rates even at registered dealers as most businesses
have been forced to scour the foreign currency parallel market for critical
imports needed to replenish supplies.

The struggle to source fuel, whose scarcity for the past five years or so
has also been blamed on the acute shortage of foreign currency and high
international oil prices, has combined with a dearth of inputs and lack of
fertilizers to present a massive challenge to agricultural productivity.

"I am afraid the country is not prepared for a successful agricultural
season as most of the land in and around the country has not been prepared,"
said Eric Bloch, an economic analyst based in Bulawayo. "The (agricultural)
sector is also short of vital inputs such as seed and fertilizer. The fuel
availed by the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) is not enough to
sustain commercial agriculture. I am afraid this agricultural season is
going to be a poor one," said Bloch, adding that some new farmers benefiting
from NOCZIM fuel were selling the commodity on the parallel market instead
of using it for their operations.
There is also a worrying shortage of manpower at predominately black-owned
farms, amid reports of poor salaries.

The unavailability of spare parts to repair hundreds of tractors and other
machinery lying idle at most farms had also not helped matters, with farmers
failing to access foreign currency to import parts.
Seed maize has also been a rare commodity, with some subsistence farmers
reportedly sowing grain donated by various non-governmental organisations to
millions of villagers across the country.

In Harare, for instance, a 5 kilogramme packet of seed maize was this week
going for $200 000 at some retail shops, while tractor owners were
reportedly charging up to $2 million to till an acre.
Fuel dealers, most of whom import the scarce liquid from neighbouring
Botswana, South Africa and Mozambique, are charging up to $120 000 for a
litre of diesel or petrol.
Zimbabwe, a former regional
breadbasket which this year has been forced to import about 1.2 million
metric tonnes of grain to augment depleted stocks at the Grain Marketing
Board, is under pressure to produce a bumper crop to avert further economic
decline and restore self sustenance.

Economist John Robertson also cast doubt on the country's preparedness to
plant enough this season to adequately feed the nation.
"I don't believe the country is prepared. There are three or four clear
things hampering agricultural recovery, namely the shortage of seed,
fertiliser, finance and fuel. Also notable is the lack of experience among
our present farmers to engage in large-scale commercial agriculture," said
Robertson. "There is still lack of highly experienced farmers to grow on a
large scale to feed the nation. We need people that know the trade. What we
are going to see at most farms are people planting enough to feed their
families," said Robertson. He added:"We will again be importing food next
year. I don't see us being self-sufficient soon when there is lack of prior
planning. There is no finance and inputs. This does not augur well for a
successful agricultural season," he said.

Fears about another disastrous agricultural season come in the wake of
revelations that the current tobacco planting season has also been blighted
by the shortage of inputs, mainly fertiliser, a pointer to another decline
in production.

The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB) last week set alarm bells
ringing after revealing that the 500 tonnes it received from fertiliser
manufacturers for distribution to farmers was far below requirements.
Tobacco farmers this season said they needed between 15 000 and 20 000
tonnes. According to TIMB officials, the 500 tonnes received so far was only
enough to cover 700 hectares of land.

The tobacco industry, which has witnessed a radical reversal in fortunes
since the advent of the government's controversial land reforms in 2000,
plans to put a total of 50 000 hectares under tobacco seed this season.
However, the plans look doomed from the start due to inadequate fertilizer
supplies, fuel, and equipment and chemicals.

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MDC urged to bury their differences


Charles Rukuni

BULAWAYO - Factions within the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) that are
squabbling over whether to participate or boycott the forthcoming senate
elections should quickly patch up their differences because neither can
survive without the other, political analysts say.

Party leader Morgan Tsvangirai should swallow his pride and publicly
apologise to the party and the electorate for causing the current confusion,
while the faction that has vowed to contest the elections should also
apologise to the electorate for making the senate elections an issue when
they are not and then pull out of the polls because there is no way they are
going to win under the present circumstances, the analysts say.

"Tsvangirai should apologise to the party and the electorate because he is
the one who caused the confusion by insisting on boycotting the elections
after the national council had voted in favour of participating," political
commentator Gorden Moyo, who is also executive director of Bulawayo Agenda

"He has very valid reasons for boycotting the elections, but he should not
have bulldozed his way after the national council had voted in favour of the
elections because he was now flouting the party constitution."
Moyo said people, especially those in civic society, were quite disturbed by
this because the MDC is trying to oust ZANU PF to restore law and order.
Tsvangirai should therefore not be seen to be behaving the same way as
President Robert Mugabe and ZANU PF who often flout their own party
constitution and national laws to suit their needs.

"If Tsvangirai publicly apologises to the people, they will forgive him and
he will emerge even stronger because very few African leaders apologise for
their mistakes. He will only be showing that he is human. He can make
mistakes. But what is more important will be that he is prepared to admit
that he too can make mistakes. People will respect him for this and he will
be assured of leadership of the party," Moyo said.

The faction that has vowed to contest the elections should also apologise to
the electorate because they have made the senate elections an issue when
there are more pressing problems that the people are facing, Moyo said.
"They have already made their point, that no one is above the law. Now it's
time to face reality. They should apologise to the people for causing
unnecessary confusion and should pull out of the elections.

"If they go ahead and contest, they are likely to lose because people are
likely to listen to Tsvangirai's call for a boycott. Once they lose they
will lose the respect of South African President Thabo Mbeki who considers
them a political force. They will also lose the respect of President Mugabe
because he will have no reason to talk to losers."
Another political commentator, Lawton Hikwa, said the two factions need to
reach a compromise because Zimbabwe needs a strong opposition.
He said both sides should back down from their positions because they were
both fighting on principles. Tsvangirai is convinced that it is not right to
participate in elections while the other faction is looking purely at the
legal side.

Hikwa said the squabbling in the MDC was giving ZANU PF time to breathe but
it was not healthy for the country because it needed a strong and viable

Asked whether he saw the possibility of either side backing down in view of
the statements that have been attributed to the factions over the past few
days, Hikwa said he was disturbed by utterances that had been attributed to
Tsvangirai at a rally in Victoria Falls.
"I am a little worried about what he said if he was quoted correctly,
because those sentiments seemed to be coming from someone who is very
dictatorial," Hikwa said.

Tsvangirai was quoted as saying he was giving all party members who went
against his will seven days to withdraw from the senate elections or be
"VP, SG and their supporters should know that I hold the keys of the party.
As long as I am still the leader they have to do what I want since they are
my juniors," he was quoted as saying.
Party secretary general Welshman Ncube, who allegedly leads the other
faction, was adamant there was no way he would give in to Tsvangirai's

He was quoted at the weekend, after the national council meeting convened by
Tsvangirai but boycotted by the other faction agreed to a boycott, as
saying: "The only useful thing to come out of the meeting in Harare is that
a line has been drawn in the sand and the door has been closed to a
negotiated settlement. I don't know what will happen to the MDC in future,
but whatever it is we will not be going forward together and we hope no
candidate for the senate elections will withdraw."
Moyo said what the two factions did not realise was that they could not do
without each other. If the party split, it would be divided into the
Matabeleland MDC and the Mashonaland MDC. And there is likely to be a fight
for the name.

He said while at face value it might appear that Tsvangirai would have won
if the contesting candidates are defeated, this will not be the case because
the people of Matabeleland will still want to be represented by people of
their own choice.
The other faction, on the other hand, was not likely to win because ZANU PF
was likely to take advantage of the current confusion and MDC supporters
were likely to be hit by apathy.
"Those who have registered to contest the elections should simply withdraw
because at the end of the day they will lose face. If the aim is to defeat
ZANU PF, the party should contest all 50 seats, not half," he said.

Hikwa brushed aside sentiments that the MDC would be split along tribal or
ethnic lines. He said there was nothing tribal about the composition of the
warring factions.

"Chimanikire (Gift Chimanikire, the party's deputy secretary) is not from
Matabeleland yet he supports participation. This is all a figment of the
press. They did the same thing with ZAPU and ZANU in the 1980s. ZAPU was
never a party for the Ndebele nor was ZANU a party for the Shona. They were
both national parties," Hikwa said.

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Chombo stalks bigger prey than Chitungwiza


Mavis Makuni

WHEN asked on the eve of his 100th birthday what his secret to longevity
was, renowned late American comedy giant and humourist, Bob Hope, quipped:
"To stay young I interact with young people and to look young, I hang out
with people much older than me."

If Hope had not become an institution who never missed a chance to make
people laugh in a career spanning more than half a century, the interviewer
would perhaps have had the guts to point out that at the ripe old age of
100, there were very few people older than Bob Hope.

But while Hope's self-deprecating remark was meant to be hilarious, it
embodies a philosophy that deplorably, some officials in high places have
adopted as a motto, i.e. they believe that the only way to make the
government look good is to cast everyone else around as a villain and then
pose as the knight in shining armor galloping gallantly along to save the
situation. Regrettably, it takes considerable imperviousness, obsession, and
hypocrisy to sustain such a stance considering that as the prevailing
madness in the country proves, there can be very few institutions doing
worse than the government itself.

One minister has demonstrated beyond doubt over the past week how determined
he is not to allow the truth, the need to play by the rules and the dictates
of personal decency to stand in the way of the government's bid to bulldoze
its way into situations that enable the ruling party to gain an unfair
political advantage.

Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development Minister Ignatius
Chombo has taken his meddling and strong-arm tactics to new levels by
announcing the takeover by the state last weekend of the running of
Chitungwiza Town Council. The reason for the uncalled for action, the nation
was told, was that the local authority had failed to provide services to
residents of the dormitory town. As a result, the Chitungwiza District
Administrator, an unelected representative of central government, Godfrey
Tanyanyiwa, would be roped in to oversee the implementation of a "turnaround
"These are changes that will bring sanity to this municipality and there
will not be any pay rise for you until sanity prevails," Chombo told senior
Chitungwiza Town Council officials during a triumphant tour to stake the
territory for his party. What sanity is Chombo talking about when it is
crystal clear to all and sundry that amid the political madness prevailing
in Zimbabwe, there are ulterior motives for his heavy-handed interference?
The public has not forgotten how Chombo hounded Elias Mudzuri from Harare's
Town House because he belonged to the opposition Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC). It is not difficult to see why he may be planning to do the
same to Chitungwiza's mayor, Misheck Shoko, who belongs to the same party.
The ruling party is notorious for not being good losers and the endless
charades involving Chombo prove that the nation may have to wait a very long
time for a more mature and tolerant outlook.

And if any proof was needed that Chombo's vindictive and undemocratic
actions stem from a political grudge that the ruling party continues to
nurse over losing urban support to the MDC, he blasted the hapless mayor for
alleged sins and shortcomings such as visiting his party headquarters and
generally being interested in the affairs of the political organisation he
is affiliated to.

Just look who is talking! Can anyone but the most gullible believe such
hypocrisy and double standards? Chombo belongs to a government whose
ministers and civil servants have been blasted by no less than
Vice-President Joice Mujuru for neglecting their official duties and
spending most of their time attending to their farms and other personal
business. No action has been taken against them although their dereliction
of duty has more serious ramifications. And as for inefficiency and
non-existent service delivery, why has Chombo not dealt with the inept
Commission running the affairs of Harare headed by the clueless political
turncoat, Sekesai Makwavarara? Why is he not bothered by the mountains of
uncollected garbage, burst sewage pipes and trillions of potholes in the
Greater Harare area which falls under the jurisdiction of this imposed

Chombo may deny it, but he has been a busy and enthusiastic hatchet man in
spearheading his party's bullying campaign against MDC mayors in Harare,
Bulawayo, Mutare, Kariba and now Chitungwiza. His announcement at the
weekend that the government would allocate $5 billion to the local authority
to enable it to resuscitate its collapsed service delivery capability is, in
fact, a poisoned chalice. It proves that while even he and his party
recognise that the main problem facing the Chitungwiza town council was a
lack of resources to fulfill its mandate, they could not resist exploiting
the dire situation to gain political mileage. If this is not the case, the
$5 billion question for Chombo is why his ministry did not just bail the
municipality out by providing these funds without supplanting and
undermining its authority?

If the government is genuinely interested in the welfare of urban residents
who are bearing the brunt of the general economic meltdown in the country,
it should allocate funds to ease the situation without harassing and picking
fights with mayors who were popularly elected by the people.
The staged timing of Chombo's quarrelsome interventions in the affairs of
local authorities shows how much contempt the ruling party has for the
voters in this country. It has been accused of closing democratic space and
making it virtually impossible for the opposition MDC to operate,
particularly in the rural areas. And yet, the ruling party has had no qualms
about beating its chest over the victories it has "scored" in these disputed
circumstances and ridiculing the hopelessly and deliberately hamstrung
opposition for never winning the rural vote.

Let me allege that in his current campaign, the biggest quarry Chombo is
eyeing is the Bulawayo City Council, which has already been "disabled" by
endless unsubstantiated accusations, non-payment of state grants and levies
owed to the municipality by government ministries and departments and
unexplained delays in approving its operating budgets. All that is left is
for Chombo to find an excuse to deliver the final blow and re-impose the
ruling party's influence, which it lost through rejection by the electorate.
What a pyrrhic victory that will be!

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Africa's First Ladies a controversial lot


Mavis Makuni

The death last month in rather mysterious, if not controversial
circumstances, of Stella Obasanjo, the official wife of the Nigerian
president, has trained the spotlight once more on the First Ladies of Africa
and whether they play a positive or negative role as "Mothers of the

When Stella Obasanjo died on October 24, President Olusegan Obasanjo's
spokesman, Remi Oyo, issued a terse statement announcing that she had died
while holidaying in Spain and that books of condolences had been opened at
various venues, including the head of state's home in Otta. The statement
gave neither the circumstances in which she died nor the cause of death.

However, speculation soon became rife in overseas media, such as the BBC,
that Mrs Obasanjo, who was 59, had died after undergoing cosmetic surgery in
Spain. An autopsy performed in the Spanish town of Malaga is said to have
confirmed the cause of death but did not shed any light on the sort of
cosmetic procedure the First Lady had undergone before things went fatally
In the past, questions have been raised about the huge amounts of money the
wives of national leaders spend on extensive wardrobes and other luxuries.
Mrs Obasanjo's death under these circumstances brings the issue of beauty,
its importance and its cost into focus.

How important are a First Lady's looks, for example, in a country say, where
the majority of the people cannot afford basic necessities and health care?
The death of Stella Obasanjo is certain to ensure the continuation of the
debate on how well African First Ladies' love for everything western sits
with their husbands' strident anti-cultural imperialism rhetoric.

According to a BBC World Service Radio Network Africa programme aired at the
time of Mrs Obasanjo's death, the tragedy had taken her compatriots by
complete surprise because she had not been sick and Nigerians did not even
know that she was abroad. This brings to the fore the question of how much
privacy public figures like presidents and their families should enjoy and
how much the public is entitled to know.
This is the subject of heated debate not just in Africa but in many
countries overseas where the families of public figures find the media's
insatiable appetite for information about them intrusive.
However, leaders in most developed countries deal with the dilemma by being
more open and proactive. They voluntarily issue statements about family
holidays, births, marriages, deaths etc. etc. to pre-empt inaccurate
speculation and a frenzy by tenacious paparazzi.

However, in most African countries, secrecy is still the operative word.
While some wives and offspring of national leaders are always in the public
eye other heads of state rarely appear at official functions with their
wives. Some, such as President Obasanjo himself, go solo, even during visits
to other countries.

Daniel arap Moi was president of Kenya for 24 years but in all that time
people were never sure of his marital status because he always appeared
alone in public. It has been a very different matter, however, for his
successor, Mwai Kibaki, whose wife Lucy has caused waves in Kenya with her
headstrong antics, which have led to accusations of having an inflated
opinion of her importance and abusing her role. On one occasion some months
ago, the First Lady angrily stormed into the residence of the World Bank's
country director in Kenya to complain about the noise emanating from a party
he was holding. She ordered him to reduce the volume on the music, causing a
furore when the media picked up the story.

The reporting of her confrontation with the World Bank official led to
another skirmish when Madam Kibaki stormed into the offices of a media
organisation and slapped a television cameraman who had filmed the fracas.
This caused outrage in the nation, with ordinary Kenyans saying this kind of
behaviour was unbecoming for someone regarded at the mother of the nation .
. . Kibaki endured the embarrassment of being called upon by the public to
rein in his wife.

The late Mrs Obasanjo was embroiled in similar controversy in Nigeria when
she ordered the arrest of Orobosa Omo-Ojo after the Midwest Herald, of which
he was the publisher, had run a story headlined, "Greedy Stella". She and
the Nigerian head of state, who has several other wives, once went their
separate ways but reconciled.
Some First Ladies such as Zanele Mbeki of South Africa accompany their
husbands in public and on state visits from time to time but generally keep
a low profile and devote themselves to charitable causes close to their
hearts. Before Mrs Mbeki, Graca Machel had attained the unique position of
serving as First Lady of two different African countries. Having been
Mozam-bique's First Lady as Samora Machel's wife, she married Nelson Mandela
towards the end of his incumbency in 1999. She served in both capacities
with quiet dignity.
Mandela served the greater part of his term as South Africa's first
post-apartheid leader as a bachelor after his divorce from Winnie, who no
doubt would have made the most controversial and outspoken president's wife
in Africa. Winnie lost her place as "Mother of the Nation", which she had
earned during the struggle for freedom, through the divorce. Another
presidential love story that went sour was that of former Zambian president
Frederick Chiluba and his first wife, who divorced acrimoniously. The
scorned former first lady proceeded to spill the beans about Chiluba's
corrupt financial dealings, for which he is being prosecuted.
Other presidents' wives such as Zimbabwe's First Lady, Cde Grace, are always
at their husband's side and in the public eye. Unfortunately some in this
category have attracted adverse publicity for having an insatiable appetite
for shopping sprees that gobble up millions, which ordinary people living in
untenable economic situations consider frivolous and insensitive.

But despite negative perceptions, resulting from some lapses, the wives of
African leaders have, in recent years, tried hard to cultivate a positive
image by endeavouring to make a difference through good works.

In the mid-1990s, African First Ladies who attended the Fourth World
Conference on Women in Beijing resolved to work together in the promotion of
peace. Wives of leaders from all over Africa attended the inaugural African
First Ladies Summit in Abuja in 1997. It was spearheaded and hosted by
Mariam Abacha, wife of late dictator, Sani Abacha.

Speaking on that occasion, Organisation of African Unity (OAU) secretary
general Salim Ahmed Salim, after highlighting the plight of displaced
persons, refugees, children and women maimed by landmines, rape victims and
orphans on the continent said: "I believe First Ladies can play an important
role in those countries that are unable to care for victims or have not
received assistance from UNHCR and non-governmental organisations."
Despite the controversies some of these women may be embroiled in from time
to time, there is no doubt that they have great potential to use their
positions to help the less privileged in society.

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Chitungwiza mayor Shoko arrested


Njabulo Ncube

CHITUNGWIZA executive mayor, Misheck Shoko, was on Tuesday picked up by
police for questioning over unspecified charges as a government official
appointed by Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo took charge of the
operations of the municipality.

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) officials said yesterday police picked
up Shoko on Tuesday morning. The mayor was still being held by yesterday
afternoon. Wayne Bvudzijena, the ZRP spokesman, expressed ignorance at the
arrest of the MDC executive mayor who, for the past few weeks, has come
under pressure from the government over alleged poor management of the
Chombo accuses Shoko's executive of embezzling about $2.2 billion provided
by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for a sewerage upgrade in the town.

Morgan Tsvangirai, the leader of the faction-riddled MDC, condemned Shoko's
arrest, which coincided with that of trade unionists who mounted a protest
this week.
"Arresting ZCTU and NCA leaders and the Executive Mayor of Chitungwuza for
claiming their universal rights by showing anger when necessary, does not
solve the national crisis," said the MDC leader. "Harassing students,
workers and unemployed graduates and school leavers who are merely seeking
relief does not strengthen ZANU PF rule.
"The regime is at its weakest and totally dependent on a parasitic
bureaucracy for sustenance and survival," said Tsvangirai.

Speaking to The Financial Gazette before his arrest, Shoko vowed to defy his
tormentors led by Chombo, whom he accuses of lying in a bid to hound him out
of office.
Shoko, whose term of office in the volatile opposition MDC stronghold ends
in March 2006, said he would 'not be tossed around' by Chombo, whose war of
attrition with MDC-dominated local authorities continues unabated.
The minister, who is believed to be intent on appointing a commission to run
Chitungwiza, has charged that the Chitungwiza municipality administration
has failed to run the affairs of the city.

Following a tour of the town last Sunday, Chombo appointed the town's
district administrator, Godfrey Tanyanyiwa, a known ZANU PF supporter, to be
in virtual charge of the town.

Chombo ordered Shoko to report to the DA or risk being fired. Sources said
the meddlesome local government minister is also gunning for the jugular of
Bulawayo mayor, Japhet Ndabeni Ncube.
On Sunday, Chombo promised to avail, through his ministry, $5 billion for
the upgrade of the town's sewerage plants.

However, Shoko accused Chombo of 'cheap politicking' saying officials from
his ministry clearly indicated in the meeting held on Sunday that the
ministry does not have that kind of money.
"The promise to release $5 billion was a political statement. The chief
financial officer in the ministry (of local government) indicated there was
no such kind of money but Chombo remained adamant, saying he would find a
way of raising it," said Shoko.

Shoko said surrendering to Chombo's machinations would be tantamount to
'betraying the people who mandated me to be in this office.'
"I cannot demean myself to that level. If anybody has to report to the DA,
it is the town clerk, not me. I am a politician and I cannot report to a
bureaucrat," Shoko said.

Over the years, Chombo has replaced MDC-led councils with people loyal to
the ruling party.
This week he reinstated 10 ZANU PF Chegutu councillors who had been on
suspension on corruption allegations.

Chombo said the 10, who form part of the ruling part's dominated council
headed by the sole MDC councillor Francis Dhlakama, have to come back to
work since time for their suspension has lapsed with no charges having been
preferred against them.

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Relaxed foreign exchange regime set to benefit gold producers


Ruramai Mutizwa

GOLD producers are set to benefit from the relaxed foreign exchange regime
and a new buying framework announced recently by central bank governor
Gideon Gono.

The new gold purchase requirements entitle the gold producers to retain 40
percent of their proceeds in foreign currency accounts (FCAs) to meet their
operational requirements. The remaining 60 percent will be sold to the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe at a market-determined interbank exchange rate.
Gold producers' viability has been impaired by a static exchange rate in the
face of galloping inflation, which drove production costs through the roof.
As a consequence, Zimbabwean gold producers have been eluded by the benefits
of surging international bullion prices.
Announcing his third quarter monetary policy review last week, Gono said a
new buying framework was to be introduced that "shows consideration for the
needs of gold producers against the foreign exchange requirements."
"Given the peculiarity of gold as a reserve asset, the buying framework for
this precious metal seeks to balance the needs of gold producers, against
the foreign exchange requirements to meet strategic national requirements,"
Gono said.
Economist John Robertson said while the new foreign exchange regime would
provide some form of cushion to gold producers, much needs to be done by the
regulatory authorities to encourage more investments into the sector.
He said: "The new foreign exchange system still does not encourage capital
investment but is relatively enough to sustain production," he said.
Despite the problems, the sector has managed to increase production and is
likely to surpass last year's total production of 20 939 ounces, having
produced 18 415 ounces to date.

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Zim stock market investors throw caution to the wind


Rangarirai Mberi

BUY low and sell high. That's the basic rule of stock market investing -
that is everywhere else but in Zimbabwe.

Stock market investors are ignoring caution from edgy analysts who believe
the market is now well overvalued, and continue to rush into stocks despite
the market being already up 1 500 percent since January.

The market is not only scoring records in terms of the one-day rises or the
level of the main index, but also in terms of daily volumes.

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono has never been a friend
of the stock market, and his monetary policy statements have always been the
source of much market anxiety.
However, the effect of his October 20 statement has in fact lifted shares, a
sharp contrast to the carnage that hit the market in April when Gono hinted
to bankers at a meeting that he was brewing a stinker for the market. Then,
the market slumped to two straight weeks of sharp falls as investors sold
and rushed to the perceived safety of the money market.

Gono's re-establishment of the albeit faltering interbank foreign currency
market has opened up fresh opportunities for stock market investors, outside
Old Mutual, PPC and Meikles, the three shares that had dominated the
pre-monetary policy statement bull run.

Analysts saw exporters as the key beneficiaries of the statement, but as the
market has since shown, anything goes.
But amid the deafening noise of rushing bulls, bearish analysts are
struggling to get investors to believe they may be buying into shares that
are a bit overvalued; the sort of shares that would be the heaviest droppers
were the market to hit a sudden and severe patch of correction and
Those batting for caution say current high valuations are not underpinned by
any fundamental strength, leaving investors exposed to the risk of major
losses should the bubble burst. The market has to correct some time, they
argue, possibly with unpleasant results for many.

But the bears are desperately outnumbered by the bulls, who argue that a
shortage of quality scrip on investment markets would keep investor interest
firmly with the stock market. Gono has said he will no longer force rates on
his Treasury Bills to track the bank rate and, combined with anticipated
surplus conditions on heavy TB maturities, the outlook for the money market
is looking increasingly poor.

When the new interbank currency market was first announced, there were
investors who sold in anticipation of spreading their portfolio into the new
formal currency market. But that market has never run, forcing investors to
rush back to shares.
Besides, the bulls say, current lofty valuations may not exactly be as risky
as they seem. Although the index is up 1500 percent since the start of the
year, it has in fact been lagging behind annual inflation.
The bears are concerned that in their rush not to get left behind and to get
in on the act, and because of the huge buying demand against light selling,
investors may be tempted to buy anything that is thrown at them. But there
is little evidence to suggest that, despite the mad rush, investors have
abandoned prudence in their buying.

While much of the market has been surging ahead, a few counters have been
ignored by even the most bullish of investors. Fidelity, Celsys, Willdale,
Medtech and Zimnat have remained stuck on the bottom of the floor and
lagging behind the broader market, leaving their shareholders to wonder what
it is that their executives have been missing.
October inflation data out next week will likely prod the bulls to run
further, if the dominant forecast of another big jump in prices numbers is
proven correct. Given Gono's stance on rates, higher inflation figures would
mean even less attraction to the money market, even if there is another big
rate hike.

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Air Zim in shock 400% fare hike


Munyaradzi Mugowo
Travellers to UK to cough up whopping $140 million
NATIONAL airline Air Zimbabwe has hiked airfares to shocking levels
following radical exchange rate movements brought about by the floatation of
the local currency last month.

The fare schedule released by the ailing parastatal, which is struggling to
service its routes and has had to rent out planes due to crippling foreign
currency shortages, last week pushed prices up by more than 400 percent.

For instance, a return flight from Harare to Johannesburg now costs between
$36.1 million and $45.6 million, an increase of more than 300 percent from
the prevoius $10 million to $15 million range.
The Harare-London route fares have also jumped from between $30.5 million
and $54.5 million to between $140 and $166 million, while domestic
travellers will now have to fork out about $21 million to fly from Harare to

Air Zimbabwe managing director Tendai Mahachi and spokesperson David Mwenga
could not be reached for comment yesterday, but an official at the airline
attributed the huge fare hikes to runaway overheads associated with the
weakening local currency.

Some of Air Zimbabwe's planes have been grounded by a debilitating fuel and
spare parts crisis triggered by persistent foreign currency shortages
bedevilling the country.

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe last month dismantled the foreign currency
auction system and revitalised the inter-bank foreign exchange market where
the local dollar subsequently crashed from Z$26 000 to Z$ 90 000 against the
US dollar.
In the mid-term fiscal policy review in August, the government decreed that
parastatals should wean themselves from the fiscus by adopting efficient
cost-recovery pricing policies.

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Chombo is the problem



ANY individual who cares would not hesitate to take a terminally sick horse
to the back of the barn and pull the trigger.

The same applies to a government minister or any holder of public office for
that matter committed to nipping in the bud widespread corruption,
management ineptitude and cronyism among other ills that are directly
responsible for plunging the country's public service delivery into a sorry
If that was the case, then Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo would
get plaudits for sincerity, seriousness, strategic vision and clarity of
thinking given his post-haste intervention in the affairs of the dormitory
town of Chitungwiza where, admittedly, the centre does not hold anymore.
Unfortunately this will not be the case because Zimbabweans do not have a
short memory. They know that contrary to his pretensions Chombo, who hates
opposition-dominated municipalities with a passion, is not altruistic but
politically deceptive. Otherwise the point that German philosopher Georg
Hegel made when he wrote that history teaches us that people have never
learned from history would be so true of this country.

The extremely sceptical public will not be swayed, and understandably so, by
whatever platitudes Chombo advances as his reasons for his intervention in
the affairs of the Chitungwiza Council. They have learnt not to confuse real
life with political intrigue and gamesmanship. This is why they will find it
very difficult to believe that Chombo's concern for the Chitungwiza
ratepayers is genuine. It, in the court of public opinion, is a falsity if
his past handling of issues concerning other municipalities is anything to
go by. The historical parallel in the happenings in Chitungwiza and what
happened elsewhere in the not-too-distant past as well as Chombo's shameless
hypocrisy and double standards would have certainly attracted the attention
of an inquisitive observer and exposed the minister for what he really is -
someone using the right excuse for the wrong reasons.
True, Chitungwiza's service delivery system is, to all intents and purposes,
on the brink of collapse. Not only that but the authority has also failed to
balance its books, amid reports of deep-seated malfeasance. This should be
condemned in the strongest terms possible. And it is well documented that we
have been in the forefront of calling upon government to deal decisively
with graft in all areas of public life that have largely remained opaque and
unfriendly to scrutiny. Suffice to say that the case of Chitungwiza is no

Be that as it may, there is an inescapable impression that Chombo's belated
actions, coming on the eve of the self-serving Senatorial elections, are
nothing short of a threadbare politically-motivated, populist intervention.
It is a vote-buying gimmick, whatever the authorities, infamous for their
wasteful and ruinous pork-barrel projects, may choose to call it. Just like
it was when the same minister, ahead of the March 2005 Parliamentary
elections, shot down a proposed 70 percent rate hike by local authorities
only to ratify the hikes after the elections because it was a politically
convenient but unrealistic and wrong-headed stance! This is not a theory but
a cold hard fact.

The only good thing to come out of this political madness is that from past
experience, the people now know that in Zimbabwean politics, nothing is
really what it seems and that in the case of Chitungwiza, just like Harare
before it, there is nothing more than politics at play. Zimbabweans need no
reminding of the long-drawn out wrangling that had become the order of the
day at Town House and how popularly elected mayor, Elias Mudzuri, was
regularly pilloried in the media by ZANU PF heavyweights and subsequently
hounded out of office, making way for Sekesai Makwavarara and company, to
cap Chombo's grand political plan.
This proved Chombo - who we have in the past said erroneously thinks that
his brief means political intrigue, deception and planting ZANU PF
charlatans everywhere - to be the one government minister who takes the
biscuit when it comes to pressing the lid tight on the steam boiler but
retreating into scapegoating when insuperable problems arise!
As the long suffering residents of the decaying city of Harare would know,
it is over two years now since the government took over the running of the
affairs of the capital city. But has it fared any better in terms of service
delivery, as Chombo would like to make us believe? No, not by a long shot.

Service delivery has gone from bad to worse under the stewardship of the
government-appointed commission. Burst sewer pipes, pools of raw sewage,
critical water shortages, mountains of uncollected refuse and collapsing
infrastructure have become permanent features in the erstwhile sunshine
city. In a word, the smell of death and decay hangs over the city. And yet
Chombo still speaks glowingly about these commissions. Which leaves us with
the impression that government opposes certain local authorities not because
of their failures but because they simply want to get their men in. How

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