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Savanhu linked to Chipangano

Friday, 11 November 2011 09:08

Faith Zaba

ZANU PF politburo member Tendai Savanhu (pictured) has been linked to
Chipangano — a shadowy militia group in Mbare that has terrorised people
perceived to be hostile to President Robert Mugabe and his party. However,
the Harare businessman yesterday denied ever funding the youth militia gang.

In separate interviews with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, sources
close to Chipangano, who preferred not to be named, fingered Savanhu as the
key person behind the group. They claimed Savanhu was behind its set-up and
was bankrolling it.

However, Savanhu dismissed the allegations saying the youth militia group
was neither his creation nor a part of Zanu PF’s strategy to reclaim
parliamentary seats in Mbare the party lost to MDC-T since 2000.

Chipangano has been terrorising people perceived not to support Zanu PF. The
group has of late almost taken over Mbare making it a no-go area for none
Zanu PF supporters. The group was allegedly behind the orgy of political
violence in Chitungwiza last weekend, which resulted in the cancellation of
the MDC-T rally at Chibuku Stadium on Sunday.

A member of Chipangano, who has been part of the group since 2008, said they
started as a small group, but were now boasting of a membership of more than
1 000 youths.

“Some of the members are recruited from secondary schools in Mbare,” the
member said. “They are trained at bases where they receive political
indoctrination. We have three bases in Mbare –– at Joburg Lines, Mbare flats
and Mbare Msika,” he said.

“Tendai Savanhu is behind Chipangano. He is the one who finances us and this
is done mainly through cash, beer and some have been given stalls at
Mupedzanhamo flea market and Mbare Msika, while others are rank marshals in
charge of collecting a monthly figure from people who operate market stalls
and tables.”

But Savanhu said he does not understand why people link him to Chipangano
when it is not part of Zanu PF’s structures. He said he has also been trying
without success to find out who these Chipangano members are.

“I don’t know why they say that. We don’t have a group like that in the
party. We have our structures in the party, which don’t include a group
called Chipangano,” Savanhu said.

“I don’t know what they mean when they say Chipangano is linked to Zanu PF
and we don’t know where this Chipangano outfit came from. I admit that there
has been violence here and there, but it has mainly been between Zanu PF and
MDC-T youths. We see this name in the newspapers, which tell us that
Chipangano is linked to Zanu PF. We are also trying to find out who its
members are and where and who started it and for what purpose.”

Savanhu added that: “I called (the Harare youth chairperson Jimu) Kunaka and
asked him to explain and he told us that he was also reading about it in the

However, Kunaka has also been named as one of the leaders of Chipangano.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said in a separate interview his party was
concerned with Chipangano and would want to see it disbanded.

He said if not dealt with, this group could cost Zanu PF credibility in the
next elections when the party was sincere in ending violence. “I must
confess to you I don’t know who these Chipangano people are. Every time we
try to enquire who these people are, they never come out. We have tried to
find out about who is behind Chipangano and when we ask no one says
anything,” Gumbo said.

The Harare Residents Trust has identified Chipangano leaders as Kunaka, one
Gobvu and Onismo Gore, who now heads the Zimbabwe Home Industries and
Marketers Association. Kunaka and Gore are losing municipal and
parliamentary Zanu PF candidates.

The key members named by the Harare Residents Trusts are Namion Modern
Chirwa, Douglas Mutyoramwendo, who operates Mbare district 3, Nathan
Mapuranga, Elizabeth Madzimure and her husband Cornelius Mandizvidza Bwanya.
Efforts to get comment from those fingered as the leaders of the group were

As the name implies, Chipangano means “agreement” and implies an “oath”
among those involved. Another member of the infamous outfit told the
Independent that when the group was formed its objectives were to mobilise
support for Zanu PF candidates in Mbare, control all council properties and
make money and also to prevent the penetration of MDC-T into the area.

Currently they control the levers of financial power in Mbare, especially
the vegetable and farmers market, Siya-So and Magaba home industries, car
parks, Mupedzanhamo flea market and the Mbare bus termini.

Mbare residents live in constant fear of Chipangano members, a resident
said. They are harassed, threatened with beatings and forced to attend
meetings. Mostly, there is no notice of the meetings, but everyone is
coerced to attend.

The most recent violent clashes which have been linked to Chipangano include
an incident last week where the army had to deploy troops in Mbare to end a
disturbance when police failed to contain the clashes between members of
Chipangano and commuter omnibus operators and touts.

Trouble started when Chipangano members set up their own terminus near the
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation studios in Mbare, forcing omnibus drivers
to pay them money to pick up passengers there. The operators refused,
telling the Chipangano members their activities were illegal.

In this case, Savanhu said Zanu PF’s name was dragged into the mud, when the
issue could have just been a turf war between rank marshals and commuter

There are also reports of Chipangano scuttling a U$5 million housing project
meant for the poor in Mbare. According Harare Mayor Muchadeyi Masunda,
Chipangano is demanding that 51% of the housing units to be constructed with
funds from a donation by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation be given to
its members.

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Mugabe blocks Chiyangwa return

Friday, 11 November 2011 08:44

Faith Zaba

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe  personally blocked businessman Philip Chiyangwa’s
bid to contest the chairmanship of Zanu PF’s Mashonaland West province
despite some politburo members’ spirited fight to fast-track his
re-admission ahead of the conference next month, top party insiders revealed
this week.

The insiders told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that there was a heated
debate at last week’s politburo meeting over whether Chiyangwa (pictured)
should be allowed to contest the provincial chairmanship. The debate fuelled
internal divisions.

Tycoons, from a funding point of view, play an important role in shaping and
influencing Zanu PF internal politics. Factionalism in Zanu PF is mainly
driven by a fight for power and resources.

Chiyangwa, whose role in the succession battle was prominent before the 2004
congress, had the backing of senior Mashonaland West politburo members who
spoke strongly in support of his re-admission, saying he should be allowed
to contest the provincial elections scheduled for later this month. However,
sources say Mugabe, said to be related to Chiyangwa, scuttled their bid.

Besides getting the backing of politburo members from his province,
Chiyangwa also had the support of veteran nationalist, Zimbabwe Defence
Industries boss Tshinga Dube and Mwenezi East MP Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, among

The insiders said Mugabe reminded the politburo that Chiyangwa should not be
allowed to join the race for the chairmanship because he was still
considered a “security threat” because of the espionage case he previously

“There was a heated debate over the issue,” said one politburo member.
“Mashonaland West politburo members really tried to convince the politburo,
particularly the president, that he be allowed to contest the elections.

But President Mugabe put his foot down and reminded us of the party policy,
which we should follow. He said Chiyangwa should only be admitted into the
party as an ordinary member and that he should not be allowed to contest the
provincial elections.”

The insiders said party chairman Simon Khaya Moyo agreed with Mugabe and
suggested Chiyangwa be re-admitted but only as an ordinary party member.

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo confirmed on Wednesday that there was a
“healthy” debate on Chiyangwa’s issue but refused to give more details.
Senior party members said the debate was intense in the politburo and fierce
within other party structures.

“The only thing I can say is that there was consensus in the party that he
be admitted as an ordinary member of the party,” said Gumbo. Chiyangwa faced
espionage charges in 2004, but was cleared by the High Court in 2005.

He was accused of selling information to foreign governments, mainly South
Africa.  He was arrested with four others and detained incommunicado for
weeks in the run-up to the explosive Zanu PF congress in 2004.

At the time Zanu PF heavyweight Emmerson Mnangagwa and his faction were
accused of plotting a palace coup against Mugabe. An unprecedented number of
six provincial chairmen were suspended during the battle for the heart and
soul of Zanu PF.

Although charges against Chiyangwa were dropped, they have proved to be an
albatross around his neck in his comeback bid. Mugabe indicated that he
could not be trusted.

The insiders said Mugabe had not forgiven Chiyangwa over the issue. In 204
he said he did not care whether Chiyawngwa and others were his “relatives or
close friends”, insisting they should be punished regardless for the alleged

“It does not matter whether you are my relative or close friend; a sell-out
is a sell-out. Even my own mother’s child, if he sells out, we condemn him,”
Mugabe said then.

Chiyangwa was arrested along with former Metropolitan Bank corporate
secretary Tendai Matambanadzo, former Zanu PF deputy director for security
Kenny Karidza, the party’s external affairs director Itai Marchi and former
ambassador-designate to Mozambique Godfrey Dzvairo on charges of
contravening the Official Secrets Acts.

During his trial, Chiyangwa’s lawyers argued that passing information on the
country’s political and economic developments as was stated in charges did
not mean endangering the security of the country.

He was acquitted after a lengthy trial but he had already lost his
parliamentary seat and Zanu PF membership. Although Chiyangwa had resigned
from the chairmanship post and said he would remain as an ordinary party
member, Zanu PF proceeded to expel him leaving his then deputy John Mafa to
take over the post.

Chiyangwa had announced his intention to contest the provincial elections at
a party he held last month. Acting provincial chairperson Reuben Marumahoko,
governor Faber Chidarikire, Ngezi MP Bright Matonga, State Enterprises and
Parastatals deputy minister Walter Chidakwa and Mafa have expressed interest
in contesting the elections.

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‘Farmers need equipping’

Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:45

Paidamoyo Muzulu

THE country’s agricultural system has increased the number of people owning
land, but it needs to be supported by equipping the owners with technical
skills and enabling easy access to inputs and dependable financial support
as well as access to technical extension service, newly appointed
Agriculture deputy minister Seiso Moyo has said.
Moyo made these remarks to the Zimbabwe Independent on Tuesday in his first
media interview since being sworn in last month to replace the MDC-T’s
treasurer-general Roy Bennett, whom President Robert Mugabe refused to swear
in since February 2009 when the present coalition government was

Moyo said the government had resettled more than 200 000 families on about
seven million hectares of land appropriated from some 4 000 former white
commercial farmers since Zimbabwe’s controversial and often chaotic land
reform programme started in February 2000. However, Moyo bemoaned the
limited technical, financial and inputs support the new farmers had received
resulting in a sharp decline in agricultural production.

“It is not enough that they have a piece of land,” said Moyo. “They need
skills and inputs, not necessarily from the government but also from private
financial institutions,” he said.

Moyo said agricultural production could only grow sufficiently to reach the
all-time 1997 record levels if a cocktail of interventions were immediately
implemented. He believes that agricultural growth cannot be discussed in
isolation of the macro-economic framework of the country since agriculture
was tied to the economic fortunes of other sectors of the country’s economy.

“When the basket of support is not adequately filled, you can expect that
the kind of production would not be satisfactory,” Moyo said. “Agriculture
will grow at an average 7% to 9% rate as projected in the Medium Term Plan
for the next three to four years. However, these rates are dependent on all
other sectors of the economy growing at that level.”

He emphasised that most of the new farmers had fallen victim to the erratic
weather obtaining in the country. The summer seasons are now either late or
have long dry spells in the middle which generally affects crops at their
most crucial growth stages. This could, however, be mitigated by irrigation.
However, most irrigation infrastructure was wantonly vandalised by rogue
elements during the infamous land invasions at the turn of the century.

“Due to adverse effects of climate change, it is important that the issue of
irrigation rehabilitation and development be seriously considered. It is
important that the issue of food security be seriously given attention,”
Moyo said.

The government has since enacted the Protection of Water, Power and
Communication Infrastructure to curb cases of vandalism that had become
pervasive. Farmers are failing to irrigate despite the fact that Zimbabwe
has developed many irrigation schemes and dams in the past.

Treasury this year released a combined US$75 million input support scheme
for smallholder and peasant farmers for the 2011/12 agricultural season.
Farmers would receive seed and fertiliser under the scheme to help
kick-start their operations. Some of the inputs would be swapped for the
amounts farmers are owed for grain they delivered to the Grain Marketing
Board in the previous farming season.

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‘No basis for allowance cut’

Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:44

Paidamoyo Muzulu and Nqobile Bhebhe

CONSTITUTIONAL and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric Matinenga said the
decision to suspend payment of MPs’ allowances between July 2008 and October
2011 was legally defective and could be challenged because the allowances
were an entitlement under the law.
The decision was made a fortnight ago by the coalition government’s
principals President Robert Mugabe, Prime-Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and
Deputy Prime-Minister Arthur Mutambara.

MPs were outraged by the decision resulting in the matter being extensively
debated at the MPs’ pre-budget workshop in Victoria Falls last week.
The MPs get a US$75 sitting allowance.

“MPs are perfectly entitled to feel outraged because they are owed. It’s a
negation of moral and legal responsibility and there was no basis for that
with all due respect,” said Matinenga yesterday.

The allowances are given under the Parliamentary Privileges and Allowances
Act that is administered by the Office of the President. However, due to the
coalition arrangement the decision was made after consultation among the
three principals.
“There are two issues to the allowance saga,” Matinenga explained.

“There is the entitlement to allowance which comes due the moment an MP sits
and the issue of quantum of that allowance. The principals should have only
quantified the allowances.”

Matinenga believes the principals made the decision without receiving
“sufficient argument or information having been proffered to them”.
Parliament Welfare Committee chairman and Mberengwa East MP Makhosini
Hlongwane said there was urgent  need for change in legislation  by
introducing a Parliamentary Services Commission Bill to safeguard the
welfare of legislators at a time they are battling to get their allowances
backdating to 2008.

Mugabe, Tsvangirai and Mutambara recommended that MPs should only start
getting their sitting allowances from November 1 this year.
Hlongwane said the legislators were not being greedy by demanding their
allowances because they are legally entitled to the money since they worked
for it.

“We will have to change the law by introducing a Bill in parliament that
would usher in the Parliamentary Services Commission. The public expects us
to play an oversight role to the executive, the very same people who pay us
and that’s not normal. Now the executive is refusing to pay our dues which
we have worked for all these past three years. We are not demanding money
that fell from heaven and these guys Mugabe and Tsvangirai just sign and
decide that we won’t be paid,” said Hlongwane.

He said there was a misconception that legislators should be subservient to
the executive, but “the statecraft requires that all there three arms of
government be equal and none being subservient to the other”.

According to Hlongwane, legislators should be entitled to the same financial
perks as ministers.

“The public and media think MPs are greedy but they are more conservative.
It’s not normal for ministers to get a Mercedes Benz, pickup truck and
recently a Discovery. An MP, judge and minister should get the same perks,
and the difference should be on allowances because our jobs are different,”
Hlongwane said.

Paddy Zhanda and Kudakwashe Bhasikiti, who are members of the Parliamentary
Welfare Committee, said the executive should reconsider its decision.
“It’s unfair for the executive to treat us in this manner,” Zhanda said. “We
rendered a service to this nation using our resources expecting that we will
be paid,”.

Meanwhile, Matinenga said MPs would not receive any Constituency Development
Fund (CDF) disbursements for 2011 because of fiscal space constraints. The
CDF was introduced in 2010 to spur development at constituency level with
each MP receiving US$50 000.

“It is difficult for me to say that CDF will be released this year when one
looks at the issue practically. The fund competes against demands such as
civil service salaries and social services in a continuously shrinking
national budget,” Matinenga said.

He was optimistic that funding for CDF next year would be secured “with the
developments on diamond sales”. He said his ministry would engage treasury
on the matter.

Some MPs missed the deadline to submit accounts for the 2010 disbursement
amid concerns that they had abused the facility funds. Only 173 out of 210
constituencies had submitted their returns by October 30, 2011 deadline.

The Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs ministry has started auditing
the accounts and would table a report to parliament soon.

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No nationalising Marange — Mpofu

Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:30

Paul Nyakazeya

MINES minister Obert Mpofu says he would not allow the destruction of
Zimbabwe’s mining sector by heeding calls to nationalise diamond fields.
MDC-T MP for Bulawayo South Eddie Cross, who is also the party’s policy
coordinator, last month called for the nationalisation of the Marange
diamond fields to fund the national fiscus.

But Mpofu told journalists in Harare on Wednesday that Cross’s comments were
“reckless and irresponsible” and his ministry would not be advised by the

“His party has distanced itself from his statements. Look at where he came
from, for example the CSC (Cold Storage Commission). The company will never
recover because of what he did to it. I will not allow him to destroy the
mining sector with such strange ideas. We know what we are doing. He wanted
to pre-empt results of the plenary last week in the DRC to please his
handlers but he failed,” said Mpofu.

Mpofu said Zimbabwe would go ahead with exporting its diamonds regardless of
how long it takes for the Kimberley Processing monitoring team to release a
report of their findings about the local diamond industry. The team
comprises Abbey Chikane and Mark van Bockstael.
The Kimberley process last week lifted its ban on exports of Zimbabwe’s

Should the monitors observe compliance at Marange with KP specifications,
the mining firm would then begin exporting its two million-carat stockpile.
“The team highlighted areas that they felt needed attention,” Mpofu said.
“The prospects of the final report are positive but we will not be
restricted in our exports because their report is not out officially.”

Zimbabwe’s current diamond production is estimated by volume to be in excess
of 25% of world production.
Mpofu said going by the value realised to date per carat, Zimbabwe is set to
earn in excess of US$2 billion annually in gross revenue.
He said mining was now the country’s major foreign currency earner
contributing in excess of 50% of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The
mining sector was also expected to grow by 44% this year.

Mpofu conceded that there would always be leakages when it comes to minerals
no matter how powerful a government could be or how much arsenal it had.

“You can mention any country in the world they are facing leakage
challenges, even the US has failed to control leakage of drugs,” he said.
On Core Mining and Mineral Resources director Lovemore Kurotwi’s claims that
he (Mpofu) had solicited for a US$10 million bribe, Mpofu dismissed the
allegation as a “joke”.

Mpofu said it was an insult for Kurotwi to allege that he demanded a bribe
from him.

“If you as journalist look at him, do you think he can give you US$500
dollars? His allegations are a serious joke and I am not a joke,” he said.
Mpofu said his ministry was not running a parallel ministry to that of
Finance but complementing and assisting Tendai Biti’s ministry.
“As a ministry, we have been contributing as much a US$30 million every
month to treasury. If we did not do so, Biti would not be in a position to
produce such results,” he said.

Commenting on his wealth, Mpofu said he had been a businessman for “many”
“I have never been poor. I have an expanding business which I started a very
long time ago and will not apologise for that. In fact I am even going to do
more unless you tell me that what I am doing is wrong,” he said.

He said he did not acquire his wealth when he was appointed Minister of

“Since 1993 I was into cattle ranching. I have more cattle than anyone in
Zimbabwe and am a proud owner of one of the tallest buildings in Bulawayo.
It is not the tallest as alleged by some media houses and I bought it before
I was appointed minister. One thing I can tell you is that I am not into
mining (as a business),” Mpofu said.

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Expectations high ahead of national budget

Friday, 11 November 2011 09:05

Paul Nyakazeya

FINANCE minister Tendai Biti is expected to present the 2012 national budget
before month-end amidst high expectations from different sectors of the
economy that it will guide the nation from stabilisation to economic growth
and to move from non-performance to delivering.

No firm date has yet been established for the presentation of the budget,
with various sources in the ministry quoting different dates. Biti himself
could not be contacted for confirmation of the date as he was said to be out
of the country.

Major issues raised by people at budget consultative meetings held
countrywide by the Finance ministry ahead of the budget include increases in
the allocation for the health, power, education and social sectors.

Civil servants implored the minister to look into their salaries while
businesspeople asked Biti to reduce customs duty on imported goods. The
businesspeople said they ended up smuggling goods as import duty was too

Biti is on record assuring people that all their needs will be addressed
accordingly. However, the minister asked civil servants to bear with
government when it came to the issue of their low salaries as it did not
have adequate revenue since the economy was on a recovery path. The
bureaucrats have however been promised annual bonuses, courtesy of the
Marange diamond proceeds.

Analysts said Biti should allocate more money to sectors that have strong
primary-multiplier effects on employment creation, so that the secondary
effect on government revenue-creation will equally assist in repaying loans
and put the economy on a sustainable growth path.

Biti told parliament in July that the government faces a deficit of about
US$700 million this year as expenditure exceeds revenue, particularly in
light of the salary increment granted to civil servants earlier this year.
While the 2011 budget provided for expenditure of US$2,7 billion, revenue
fell short in the first half of the year to leave a cumulative deficit of
US$65 million.

Against a backdrop of extraordinary uncertainty ahead of the elections and a
liquidity crisis, Biti may downgrade his initial growth forecasts, or strike
a remarkably upbeat national budget, with a consistent approach to
longer-term planning focused on increased production, analysts say.

They warn that Biti‘s economic policies should focus on the country’s
longer-term interests, and not on populist appeal. They also want to see how
the Finance minister will deal with the country’s financial health and
liquidity challenges at a time when the world financial markets are still
recovering from a “destructive implosion”. This brings in the question of
where he would get money to finance the projected deficit.

“Is he going to rely on money from multilateral institutions such as the
International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to meet the budget’s
shortfalls? Is he going to set aside money for elections,”  one analyst

Economist Eric Bloch said despite Biti saying you only reap what you sow he
had failed to recognise that you can only eat that which you gather.
“Whilst limiting fiscal consumption to the funding inflows he was able to
gather, he has not sufficiently sought to increase the ability to gather
more, other than by pursuit of burdensome taxes excessively beyond the
sustainable means of the economy,” Bloch said.

“In failing to achieve significant growth in state revenues other than by
ongoing imposition of onerous taxes, and by ensuring greater national
compliance with taxation laws, he impairs attaining the objective of raising
sufficient revenue to meet necessary expenditures.”

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AirZim leaves passengers stranded

Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:22

Paul Nyakazeya

AIR ZIMBABWE passengers in Harare, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur and London were
stranded last week after the cash-strapped national airliner cancelled
flights following its failure to procure fuel. Airline officials told
businessdigest this week that the national carrier was struggling to buy

“Air Zimbabwe is failing to pay for fuel, forcing suppliers, who are owed in
excess of US$1 million, not to deliver the commodity occasionally,” said an

The flight from Harare International Airport to Gatwick International
Airport was cancelled on Sunday while the Harare-Beijing flight which goes
via Kuala Lumpur also failed to take-off last Friday. The fuel situation,
which is affecting mainly long haulage flights, had still not improved as at
the time of going to press.

Some passengers had to make alternative arrangements during the week after
the Boeing 767’s flights were cancelled. The plane carries 201 passengers.
Travellers who wanted to fly on the airline to London, Kuala Lumpur and
Beijing were also left stranded.

The cancellations could prove costly for Air Zimbabwe, which has an
international obligation to house and feed passengers or compensate them for
cancelled flights.

Contacted for comment on Wednesday, Air Zimbabwe chairman Jonathan Kadzura
said the fuel situation was a result of the financial problems that the
airline was facing.

“Air Zimbabwe requires a complete and proper restructuring which is in the
interest of the nation. Pointing figures and labelling each other is not
helping the problem,” he said

“The shareholder (government) must have interest and be responsible in all
that transpires at the national airline. That is the only way it can be
revived,” Kadzura added.

Failure by the national airline to attract passengers for domestic
destinations has also thwarted Air Zimbabwe’s attempt to resuscitate. In
September, the airline flew back to Harare from Victoria Falls with only one
passenger as customer confidence remained very low.
The airline had earlier landed in the resort town with 16 passengers on its
MA60 plane from Harare. The Chinese-made plane carries more than 60

Air Zimbabwe resumed flights two months ago after receiving US$2,8 million
from government. The airline said it had incurred a US$6,8 million loss
because of a strike by pilots.

Analysts say Air Zimbabwe may collapse if the shareholder ­— government-- 
does not chip in and re-capitalise the loss-making national carrier.
The airline, said to be currently saddled with debts amounting to more than
US$100 million, has been battling intermittent strikes by pilots since the
country adopted multiple currencies in February 2009.

Wholly-owned by government, Air Zimbabwe is grappling with an ageing fleet,
alleged mismanagement, questionable commercial decisions, a
reduced route network and over-staffing.

The airline is reported to be making a loss of US$4 million every month and
is currently locked in a wage dispute with retrenched workers who are
demanding their outstanding salaries and allowances.

Some staff members have not been paid for nearly four months.

The airline has six aircraft that are operational; three Boeing 737s, two
Boeing 767s and one MA60, with analysts estimating the combined value of the
planes at less than US$119 million dollars. One of the Boeing 737s is
currently under maintenance.

But despite the dire financial stress, Air Zimbabwe management insist  both
the management and the shareholder are committed to revamping operations at
the airline, one of the 10 state enterprises earmarked for either
privatisation or restructuring.

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Farming woes remain

Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:21

By Linda Tsarwe

ZIMBABWE yet again faces one of the most important periods for the country;
another agricultural season.  A lot depends on a successful agricultural
season: The economy is expected to grow by 9,3% this year, with agriculture
forecast to grow by 19,3% to support this growth.  The success of
agriculture is vital for the country’s food security. Once known as the
bread basket of the region, Zimbabwe’s tables have turned and the country is
now a net importer of agricultural products. Such a development is sad

Many have placed the blame on the lack of preparedness on the part of the
new farmers. Ideally, one should have inputs in place before the season
begins so that no delays are experienced as soon as the rains start. That,
however, is not the case on the ground. One season after another, the
farmers are always found wanting and the whole farming process is delayed
from the onset.

During hyperinflation, farmers found it difficult to secure inputs which,
like any other goods, were scarce. Although there was some form of
governmental assistance, it was not enough to cater for the high demand of
inputs by both subsistence and commercial farmers.

However, that is no longer the case. From input scarcity, the issue has
shifted to that of funding. The CFU immediate past president was recently
quoted as saying that a total of US$2,5 billion was needed to revive the
agricultural sector each season.  It is an interesting figure, considering
that our economy’s estimated GDP for 2011 is around the US$8 billion level.
This means that we require more than 30% of our economy to support
agriculture alone!  Although this seems like a very high estimate, the point
that the CFU president was trying to make is that the sector requires
significant amounts of funds to operate efficiently.

Another point of interest is that according to the October issue of the
African Development Bank monthly economic review for Zimbabwe, as at August
2011 bank deposits stood at US$2,95 billion, of which 91,2% were demand and
short term in nature. Clearly, our own local market cannot on its own revive
the agricultural sector with these sorts of liquidity levels.

Government only managed to allocate US$350 million for A2 farmers in the
2011 budget, which is far below what the farmers reckon would revive their
sector. The Government is working on a very tight budget as it is currently
facing  a US$700 million budget deficit.

Additionally, institutions such as the GMB have only worsened the problems
that farmers are facing. Recent reports alleged that the GMB still owed
farmers about US$40 million for grain delivered to them from the 2010/2011
season. If this is the case, then surely GMB is doing a disservice to both
the farmers and the nation. Firstly, the farmers do not have money to
prepare for next season, which compromises their success.

Secondly, because farmers now do not have any income streams to repay their
debts, this creates bad credit records for them, closing all avenues of
financing. Banks have tightened measures to minimise defaults and as such
are demanding security before on-lending funds. Most farmers do not have any
acceptable security and are unable to access the loans that the banks are

Agribank, which was mainly established to assist farmers in accessing
funding without much difficulty, has got no capital to carry out such a task
at the moment.

Farmers have not been entirely innocent in the demise of the agricultural
sector. After the land reform programme, most new farmers lacked the
know-how of commercial farming and there was a significant drop in farming

One would expect that more than 10 years after the exercise there should be
some significant improvement coming from the new farmers. Without
discrediting the ones that have done well on their new farms, some resettled
farmers misused farming equipment and inputs availed to them by government.
This contributed significantly to the underperformance of the sector.

With such a history, serious farmers are finding it difficult to source
funding from outside the country. There is a lot of risk attached to farming
and also the low performance levels that have characterised the sector in
recent years can only worsen things. Investors would rather invest their
money at a later stage of the agricultural cycle than fund it from the

Dr Oliver Hartwich, a research fellow on environmental issues at
International Policy Network, mentioned in his 2006 report that resolving
problematic issues such as rule of law and respect of property rights will
go a long way towards ensuring growth in the sector. More people are willing
to put their money into farming if they are guaranteed that their investment
is safe.

However, we cannot rule out that some outsiders might be interested in
undertaking some contract farming. Grain in particular is not an attractive
option for investors who would rather fund attractive crops such as tobacco
and cotton. The bulk of the programmes carried out for funding crops such as
grain are humanitarian-based and do not go far in reaching the levels that
would grow the economy.

Banks, on the other hand, could also venture into contract farming as an
indirect way of funding the agricultural sector. Recent reports mentioned
that BancABC has entered into partnership with Tongaat Hullett to provide
US$30million for their contract farming needs.
The bank is not directly exposed to the risk inherent in contract farming,
as its recourse is with Tongatt Hullett.  On the other hand, banks like CBZ
are on-lending directly to farmers, which increases their exposure to risk.

As things stand, the 2011/2012 agricultural season is not going to be any
better. The CFU immediate past president, Deon Theron, is quoted in the
press as saying that maize output for the 2011/2012 is forecast to be
1.3million tonnes.

This is against the national demand of about 2 million tonnes, meaning the
balance would have to be imported. The same story goes for wheat,000 whereby
the country is facing a possible deficit of 339 000 tonnes, for which
importation would be the only option to cover the gap.

Just weeks before the agricultural season starts, it is saddening to note
that not much improvement is expected in the coming season.  Farmers have
expressed pessimism and it looks like the country will continue to require
importing staples.

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‘Diamonds proceeds should revive economy’

Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:07

Brian Chitemba

THE much-hyped Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KP) approval of the
sale of Zimbabwe’s diamonds has raised hopes for the improvement of the
battered economy, but change can only be realised if the money is accounted
for through the fiscus, analysts have warned. The sale of the alluvial
diamonds was banned in 2009 following revelations of gross human rights
abuses of largely illegal miners by military personnel guarding the 60 000
hectares Marange fields, whose existence became widely known in 2006. But
the ban was lifted two years later at a meeting of the KP, an
intergovernmental group that certifies trade in diamonds, in the Democratic
Republic of Congo.

The World Diamond Council (WDC) said companies mining in Chiadzwa  —
Marange Resources and Mbada Holdings  —  could now start exporting rough

Mines minister Obert Mpofu was quick to state that the economy would take a
sudden turn  for better.
“We are going to shock the world. We are going to unleash our worthiness.
Zimbabwe will no longer be begging for anything from anybody.”

But analysts have warned that as long as the diamond money is not channelled
transparently, the economy will continue to bleed.
It is estimated that Zimbabwe has been sitting on 4,5 million carats of the
precious stones worth US$2 billion, an amount that can turn the ailing
economy around.

Finance minister Tendai Biti is optimistic that the proceeds from the
diamond sales will boost the $3,4 billion 2012 budget, which he had
projected without taking into account the funds from the gems.

Previously, Biti has had a tough time dealing with the Zanu PF ministers who
accused him of refusing to offer civil servants a salary increment using
proceeds from the diamond sales.

Biti said about US$300 million from diamond sales never reached treasury.
Analysts fear that the same could happen again if the 4,5 million carat
diamond stockpiles are sold and whether the exchequer will not face an
onerous task getting the money into the fiscus.

“If there is transparency and the diamond money is accounted for through the
Ministry of Finance just like funds from lines of credit, then definitely
Zimbabwe will see an improvement,” said Witness Chinyama, an economist with
a local bank.

Last year Zimbabwe sold 900 000 carats of  what Mpofu said was part of a six
million carat stockpile after a protracted battle to get certification from
KP. Biti said of the US$45 million realised from the sale, the government
only pocketed US$15 million.

According to the New York-based Rapaport Diamond Trading Network, soldiers
abused villagers through torture and rape, rendering the Marange diamonds

Chinyama insisted that if the diamonds generate US$2 billion per annum, like
Mpofu claims, then the money should be channelled towards modernisation,
recapitalisation and revitalising of ailing industries.
“Even in Sadc we are lagging behind in technology and this is the chance to
upgrade antiquated industrial machinery, some of which was installed in the
1970s,” he said.

Companies are facing serious operational challenges, with firms in Bulawayo
scaling down and closing shop due to crippling viability problems. Last
year, 87 companies closed, leaving 20 000 jobless and the US$40 million
Distressed and Marginalised Areas Fund is seen as a drop in the ocean for
the myriad of challenges facing Bulawayo firms.

Chinyama said money realised from the Marange gems should improve liquidity
challenges that have been dogging Zimbabwe since the introduction of the
multi-currency system in 2009.

“The sale of diamonds will be a major breakthrough for the economy, which
will water down the adverse effects of sanctions,” he said.
Economist and long-time critic of President Robert Mugabe, John Robertson,
warned against inflating what Zimbabwe will get from the gems.
He said it was disturbing that authorities were mean with the exact figures
of the stones stockpiles, making it difficult to make realistic projections
of the impact of the alluvial diamonds on the economy.

Robertson said Mugabe and his cabal had strategically thrown around varying
figures of the diamonds stockpiles to cause confusion and continue
plundering the resources at the expense of the suffering Zimbabwean masses.

Thousands of Chiadzwa villagers were forcibly moved from their homes to
allow the exploitation of the gems which will not benefit the local
community. According to Human Rights Watch, Mugabe’s soldiers killed more
than 200 people, forced children to search for the precious stones and raped
The removal of soldiers from Marange is still pending, although a green
light was given for the sale of the diamonds.

MDC-T MP for Bulawayo South Eddie Cross recently testified in parliament
that millions of dollars from the diamond profits could not be accounted for
while rampant theft and smuggling continued unabated.

“There is no consistency on the real figures of what is being mined in
Chiadzwa. But there is likely to be continuation of plunder of the diamonds
by the elite, particularly the military and Zanu PF. The rest of Zimbabweans
will not benefit anything,” said Robertson.

Analyst Chamu Mutasa said the cash-strapped coalition government formed by
Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai would receive a lifeline from
the gems although there was a risk of Zanu PF diverting the money to
campaign for the next elections.

The inclusive government, Mutasa said, failed to resuscitate the economy but
managed to bring stability to a decade-long political and economic strife.

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Does Zim qualify for Kimberley Process?

Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:49

By Eddie Cross

WHEN I asked the Mines minister Obert Mpofu to declare to parliament the
production and sales of diamonds from the Marange Diamond fields over the
past five years he reported on July 27 that they had reached over 11 million
carats worth over US$200 million, of which US$174 million was paid to
Treasury. As these numbers were suspicious, I set out to find out for myself
just what the situation actually was. After three months of investigation I
came to the conclusion that production and sales from Marange in 2010 had
been worth up to US$4 billion and that the figures given to the House of
Assembly represented just five percent of that and that this was for five
years production and sales.

I discovered that not only had the minister failed to declare the number of
carats actually mined, but also that the value had been understated, which
had actually been nearly US$70 a carat instead of US$18.

When these facts were presented to the House in the subsequent debate,
no-one inside the House or outside questioned my estimates. They attacked
the proposal that we nationalise the diamond fields to gain control and to
achieve transparency and accountability, they attacked the allegations of
gross human rights abuse, but no-one, attacked the estimates.

In fact, last week at a pre-budget workshop for MPs, Mpofu admitted that
production and sales could reach US$2 billion a year, admitting for the
first time the scope and size of real production and sales. This compares to
the figures he gave in an earlier workshop which were quoted by a fellow MP
as being up to 600 000 carats a day. ACR gave a figure of 160 000 carats
purchased in one day on the site in 2006 from vendors on the side of the

To my own satisfaction this indicates that Marange is one of the largest
diamond discoveries in the history of the industry. Geologists who have
studied the field intensively estimate that they contain between two and
seven billion carats of raw diamonds. These have a face value, if properly
accounted for and sold in world markets of US$200 to US$1 400 billion.
Compare that to our national budget this year of just US$2,7 billion,
national debt of US$9 billion and GDP of US$10 billion, or the national
civil service wage bill of US$2 billion.

In any country, these numbers are so large that they would be significant.
In Zimbabwe they are simply astounding. If properly accounted for and sold
in open markets at world market prices, the fields could yield to the
exchequer sufficient revenue for the Finance minister to repair all our
hospitals, schools and roads. We could negotiate and pay our civil servants
a liveable wage and retain scarce skills in all sectors. It would wipe out
our current account deficit and enable us to service our debt obligations.

Over the past weekend Mpofu was able to persuade the countries involved in
the supervision of the world markets for raw diamonds that Zimbabwe should
qualify for membership of the Kimberley Club. They got a response that said
“yes” if you can comply with our standards for transparency and

My own view is that this qualified approval of membership of the Kimberley
Club is premature. Not only is the above ample evidence that on both counts
we fall far short of the standards required, but in addition there is the
issue of whether or not we comply with all the other criteria laid down for
membership. Forget the allegations about human rights abuse and slave
labour, those sorts of issues play little role in the club. It is the
possible use of these massive resources to undermine democratic states and
the democratic basis of the Zimbabwe state that is critical.

There is now ample evidence that the people who control the diamond fields
in Marange are linked to four main groups — senior figures in Zanu PF,
senior figures in the security establishment and a shadowy group of mafia
style figures who operate on the edge of global diamond and illegal gun
running substructures. The fourth shadowy group about which nothing is known
are the Chinese government-related agencies operating on the fields using
Chinese labour. This last group is also tied in with the Zimbabwe security

The existence of a “parallel government” in Zimbabwe since the GPA was
signed and the present transitional government was sworn in has been often
suggested. The mystery is how the Zanu PF-controlled ministries in the
present government are funding their activities. The allocation to the
military in the present budget was a paltry US$165 million, given the
manpower levels in these security establishments (over 45 000 men and women)
this is not enough to do much else but pay basic salaries at a very low

Then there is the obvious lavish lifestyle of those individuals linked to
the mines — the lavish lifestyles of senior security heads.
But it does not end there — this is enough money to destabilise regional
governments that differ with the Zanu PF leadership who control the flow of
diamonds and the revenues that emanates from them. It is a real threat to
the whole of the GPA process into which the region has put so much time and
other resources in the hope that they might resolve our ongoing and
interminable crisis.

In my view, that is the main reason why we should be denied access to the
Kimberley Club and in the process it should be made quite clear, that until
we put our house in order, every carat we try to sell will be regarded as an
illegal gemstone in the eyes of the world. Remember that if we put our house
in order, it would restore stability to global markets for diamonds and
would raise revenues from sales by a third or more. In addition, this is
enough money to put Zimbabwe back on its feet and to transform the lives of
every Zimbabwean. This is the goal that the Kimberley Club should be
dedicated to achieve.
lCross is MDC-T MP for Bulawayo South.

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‘Manufacturing malaise reflects economy’

Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:51

Paul Nyakazeya

ECONOMIC analysts believe that the challenges facing the manufacturing
sector are a reflection of the performance of the country’s economy as a
Zimbabwe’s manufacturing sector output has increased five-fold since the
economy was dollarised, but lack of capital and low demand for goods are
undermining industry, according to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries
(CZI). The main industrial body says capacity utilisation rose to 57,2% by
the end of the first half of 2011 from 43,7% in the same period last year.
“Notwithstanding the increase in capacity utilisation, the sector is still
constrained by several factors which include low product demand, lack of
working capital and machine breakdowns,” the CZI said.

The CZI said the cost of production also remained high, making locally
manufactured goods less competitive than imports from countries such as
South Africa, whose products have flooded the local market.

Economist David Mupamhadzi said the challenges the manufacturing sector was
presently facing were not unique to that sector alone.
“A number of companies across all sectors of the economy are currently
reeling from lack of liquidity, a situation which is badly affecting the
sustained recovery of the economy,” said Mupamhadzi.

He said Zimbabwean firms and the banking sector in particular were
struggling to raise credit lines because of the high country risk.
“The issue of high utility cost is another cross-cutting factor affecting
the full recovery of the productive sectors of the economy. However, looking
at the manufacturing sector in particular, it is failing to compete with
imports from the region and beyond, particularly Chinese imports,”
Mupamhadzi said.

He said the cost structure of producing goods and services was higher in
Zimbabwe and hence the unit cost of production was also higher compared to
the region and beyond. This was largely because of structural rigidities
which are inherent in the production chain in Zimbabwe.

The CZI said the high cost of production coupled with the low levels of
capacity and inferior product quality had largely rendered Zimbabwe’s
manufactured products uncompetitive on international markets. As a result,
levels of exports have remained depressed, with export destinations being
limited to the southern Africa region.

Volume of output production over the last three years has continued to
increase. The rate of increase decelerated with 2011 recording a percentage
increase of 14% compared to 34% recorded over the same period in 2010. There
has also been a decline in terms of the supply of raw materials, both local
and imported.

Locally sourced raw material supply declined by 8% from the second half of
2010 to the first half of 2011.
The price of sourcing raw materials has also increased significantly, with
the cost of local raw materials increasing by 7%, while that of imported raw
materials increased by almost 100%.

CZI president Joseph Kanyekanye says the cost of labour is greatly impacting
on the cost of production.
Wages and salaries as a percentage of total expenses range from 12% to as
high as 60%.

“In an economy where inflation levels are averaging 4%, the continued
awarding of salary and wage adjustments in excess of 20% is only serving to
render business unviable in the medium to long run,” said Kanyekanye.
Kanyekanye said working capital has remained one of the largest factors
impacting on business performance. This had hampered the retooling of the
manufacturing sector.

Even though survey results showed an improvement in the number of firms that
have undertaken capital investments, the level of investment still falls far
short of what is required.

Economist Brains Muchemwa said long tenured lines of credit, reasonable cost
of funding and labour, optimal import duty levels on raw materials and
functional public infrastructure were some of the key issues that would help
ensure that capacity utilisation in the manufacturing sector continued to

“However, it needs to be noted that some sections of the manufacturing
industries can no longer stand the global competition and only those that
are able to tap into our most competitive advantages will be able to remain
relevant in the face of global competition and continue to see capacity
utilisation rising,” said Muchemwa.

Most analysts believe that the state of the manufacturing sector was in a
precarious position. Although there have been vast improvements on the
economic front, the challenges enshrined within the economy have continued
to hinder the full growth potential.

Ultimately, the effective and efficient functioning of any single economy
depends on the policies and regulative mechanisms that give guidance to how
the sectors operate respectively and in tandem.

Economist John Robertson said government should put in place policies and
regulations that focused on the effective operation of the manufacturing
industry because it was the wealth-generating sector of the economy.

“It is important to appreciate that the effective management of such an
important sector as manufacturing begins with the implementation of
broad-based economic policies,” said Robertson. “Adoption of appropriate
economic policies by the government is useful if complemented by the
adoption of parallel and relevant regulative mechanisms.”

Following a decade of economic stagnancy in the country, most companies are
still grappling with establishing a strong financial base for their
operations, with some opting to retrench as a means to make the most of
their capital output.

Initially, direct subsidies from government may be an effective way to
ensure that new indigenous manufacturing enterprises emerge and continue to
operate viably within the prevailing economic dispensation that largely
seems to favour cheaper imported products.
However, the companies quickly need to wean themselves from such dependency
if they are to grow.

What is important, the analysts argued, is for government to adopt a
protectionist approach for local productive industries to remain competitive
when the forces of globalisation are bludgeoning the industries of
developing nations.

Zimbabwe’s current rate of importation of ready-made goods is tantamount to
de-industrialisation as the local industry is failing to cope with foreign
competition, especially relating to the issue of pricing.

Protectionist policies include customs tariffs, exchange rate regulations,
direct subsidies and import quotas, and they function to protect local
manufacturers and at the same time encourage import substitution.

Although protectionism has lost favour, analysts believe it should be
categorically stated that it was still the best economic approach that could
be adopted by developing countries such as Zimbabwe.

Most of the areas in which the country still retained competency in
manufacturing are facing stiff competition from cheap imports available on
the market. Some of these cheap imports include foodstuffs, alcohol and
tobacco, clothing and footwear, chemicals and petroleum products, and metals
and metal products.

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MuckRaker: Why give Zanu PF an election gift?

Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:04

LINDIWE Mazibuko, parliamentary leader of the Democratic Alliance, in her
first speech to the House in Cape Town, gave a forceful rebuttal to
President Jacob Zuma’s claims that there should be no “encroachment” of one
arm of the state on the terrain of another.

“The executive must be allowed to conduct its administration and
policy-making work as freely as it possibly can,” he said in welcoming new
Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng.

“The powers conferred on the courts cannot be regarded as superior to the
powers resulting from a mandate given by the people in a popular vote.
“We must not get a sense that there are those who wish to co-govern the
country through the courts when they have not won the popular vote during
elections,” Zuma said.

Mazibuko replied that the drafters of the constitution understood that
limiting the abuse of power was the key to preventing a recurrence of
“They sought to ensure that the law will never again be used by the strong
to oppress the weak,” she said.

“There are some in our country who believe they are above the law, who
believe that might is right. They enrich themselves at the expense of the
poor and use race to divide South Africa’s citizens. They wish to destroy
our constitution,” Mazibuko said. “They are the bullies of our time.”

Amazing isn’t it, that the president of South Africa doesn’t understand that
the role of the courts is to defend individuals from an overweening
If South Africans want to see what a country looks like that has had its
judiciary undermined by the executive, they need travel no further than

It seems that church business is big business these days. And with any gold
rush, opportunism is not far behind. The Standard reports that musician
Hosiah Chipanga, who claims to be a great prophet, said he would attract a
following bigger than another popular prophet, Emmanuel Makandiwa’s

Chipanga said that as soon as his church, Messiah Apostolic Prophetically
Inspired People’s Institution (Mapipi), is granted space and facilities by
Mutare city council he would begin “working miracles”.

He said Makandiwa is preparing people for heaven but he is going to
establish that kingdom on earth –– in Zimbabwe.
“I will be greater than Makandiwa who has a large following now because he
is preparing people for the heavenly kingdom. Mapipi will establish the
kingdom of God here on earth,” said Chipanga.
All we can say is Mutareans be warned!

As if that was not enough, the Standard also reports that former Zifa chief
executive officer Henrietta Rushwaya, who lost her bid to represent Zanu PF
in the 2008 harmonised elections, says she has quit politics and intends to
become a pastor. Rushwaya’s bid for a political comeback had suffered a
major blow when she was disowned by the Affirmative Action Group after an
announcement that she was set to become the organisation’s vice-president.
Rushwaya had also been kicked out of Zifa for maladministration.

Rushwaya, who according to Zifa may face arrest for alleged match fixing,
said she has “turned to God”.
“I am turning to God and becoming a born-again,” she said. “I intend to go
for pastoral training at a theological College.”
Rushwaya will no doubt join the ranks of “Reverend” Obadiah Musindo whose
place of worship is still a mystery to Muckraker.

Meanwhile Muckraker was intrigued by Zanu PF chairman Simon Khaya Moyo’s
sentiments in an interview in the Saturday Herald.
Asked about the WikiLeaks issue, Moyo claimed to “know very little” about

“I only hear about them, read about them but certainly I have not taken time
to digest their content and implications,” Moyo said.
The reporter further probed, asking whether those mentioned in WikiLeaks had
escaped censure. To this Moyo responded by saying: “I am not responsible for
that. I am only national chairman of this revolutionary party and the issue
you are raising is not part of my mandate.”
This is puzzling! Moyo seems not to know much about the WikiLeaks when
senior party officials had supped with the “enemy” and talked about regime
change. What then is his brief as national chairman if such things elude

Moyo was also asked about the 2008 harmonised elections and how  the
president got less votes than the local MP at the same polling statiion.

“I wouldn’t know how widespread that phenomenon was, except to say it’s
certainly anomalous…
“On our side we attribute that to imposition of candidates and this should
never be repeated in the coming elections.”

We couldn’t agree more Cde Moyo, particularly the top-most candidate, who it
seems Zanu PF supporters also don’t want.
Moyo was also asked about the Generation 40 concept to which he replied: “I
know nothing about that, absolutely nothing.”
We thought that was party policy, as Jonathan Moyo would have us believe!

‘Violence reared its ugly head again when MDC-T and Zanu-PF youths clashed
in Chitungwiza yesterday,” the Herald reported on Monday.
They “attacked each other”, we are told, “with stones, knobkerries and iron
Residents in the neighbourhood were forced to stay indoors to avoid being
caught in the crossfire.
However, Zanu-PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo, had his own version of events
saying that MDC-T youths had provoked the situation by forcing people to
attend its rally.

“I was briefed of what they were doing on Saturday night and I think this
morning (Sunday) they met their match in the form of angry Chitungwiza
residents who did not want to go to the rally,” Gumbo said.
NewsDay reported that the infamous Chipangano militia group,had forced MDC-T
to abandon the rally scheduled to be addressed by Prime Minister Morgan

The Chipangano youths, who had been bused-in, turned Chibuku Stadium and the
nearby Unit H residential area into a war-zone as they fought running
battles with riot police.

Police spokesperson Chief Superintendent Oliver Mandipaka on Monday said
they were “still investigating” the violence.
We see a pattern here: When Zanu PF attacks MDC-T supporters, the police
seem keen on “investigating” until the issue dies a natural death. Remember
the attacks on MPs at parliament building; on MDC-T supporters at the
official opening of parliament as well as in Highfield in September?

In this connection, what does Morgan Tsvangirai think he is doing agreeing
with President Mugabe that elections “are the best way forward”. He said
there was “tension in the country” as evidenced by increasing violence. Zanu
PF ministers refused to report to him, he complained, or attend the Council
of Ministers. The inclusive government was malfunctioning, he said.

If that is the case, why does he think he should be giving Zanu PF a gift
such as elections? Those elections, as we all know, will under current
circumstances be manipulated to give Zanu PF a false victory. Is that what
Tsvangirai wants? The law enforcement process has been suborned, the
resources of the state have been placed at Zanu PF’s disposal including
diamond revenues, the so-called public media has been transformed into a
clumsy and unprofessional agency of partisan propaganda while MDC-T cannot
even hold a rally to get their message across.

The South African facilitators are only too aware of the structural failure
of the inclusive government. But they lay the blame squarely at Zanu PF’s
door. If Tsvangirai and his party now go for elections when the voters roll
is still a shambles, when they have no freedom of expression and no freedom
of movement, then Tsvangirai will be giving a hostage to fortune with his
naďve call to arms.

The time is manifestly not right for elections. He hasn’t even got his
supporters on the voters roll. Zanu PF are serial losers. Why should
Tsvangirai help them win the next election when they don’t command popular
confidence and when they promise to inflict on the nation more of the
punishment and misrule that is their hallmark.

US Assistant Secretary of State Johnnie Carson told the House Foreign
Affairs Committee, Sub Committee on Africa, last Wednesday that “politically
motivated harassment, intimidation and violence continue and state
institutions are beholden to partisan agendas.”

One area where a state institution is “beholden to partisan agendas” is the
Zimbabwe Media Commission. We warned some time ago when commenting on a
complaint from Emmerson Mnangagwa that there was a danger of the ZMC
becoming an agent of state control in the media sector.

Further evidence came to light this week when the ZMC announced it would
notify the responsible authorities to effectively ban foreign publications
from entering the country after the lapsing of a deadline given to them to
regularise their stay.
ZMC chair Godfrey Majonga gave the warning at a meeting in Bulawayo. In a
throwback to the totalitarian era of eight years ago, Majonga confirmed the

“Yes, the commission recently passed a resolution compelling all media
houses in the country to register in line with the media laws of the
country,” he said. “Those that are not registered face closure while foreign
publications that are coming into the country were required to have a
representative office where complaints could be laid in the event that they
cross their professional line of reportage.”

Why does Majonga think it is OK for him to arrogate to his commission these
powers? Why does a newspaper need a representative office to function in
this day and age of the Internet? Mathew Takaona who sits on the ZMC said
the Bulawayo meeting was held to find the best route for a hotch-potch of
conflicting regulatory instruments.

“Some were suggesting the Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe was the way to
go while some felt that the statutory Media Council  (the complaints arm of
the ZMC) should take effect.
“We are not saying we are out here to completely effect a ban on the VMCZ.
We are saying let’s help each other and see how we can complement each

“I know for certain that media practitioners are behind VMCZ,” Takaona added
in a remarkable example of detective work, “but we are worried about its
effectiveness and capabilities.”

Takaona should be careful here. We are worried about his effectiveness and
The statutory body has a credibility problem because of its relationship
with the state at precisely the moment the state has stepped back onto the
path of delinquency.

Banning newspapers is the worst thing he could do. Why does Zimbabwe always
have to look bad? Why is it the only country in the region that bans
newspapers? Consider the lost revenue to vendors and their families as well
as to the state in terms of lost registration fees. Everybody will lose in
Zimbabwe thanks to the ZMC.

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Eric Bloch Column: An industrial mirage

Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:56

LAST week’s newspaper headlines and those on television and radio enthused
vociferously on an alleged substantial upturn in the productivity of the
manufacturing sector.  Tragically, the reality is that such upturn is naught
but wishful thinking and misinterpretation of statistics. Very few recognise
that statistics bear a remarkable likeness to the bikini; they are very
revealing, but conceal the essentials! Based upon the media reports, the
latest survey of the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industry (CZI) shows a marked
increase in industrial activity.  That is undoubtedly correct, insofar as
pertains to many of the respondents to the survey, but that does not give
comprehensive recognition to the innumerable enterprises that did not
participate in the survey.

In the past 18 months, at least 87 industrial enterprises ceased operations
in Bulawayo and, although a lesser number, many others have done likewise in
Harare and elsewhere in Zimbabwe.  In addition, innumerable manufacturers
have considerably downsized operations from the levels that they were
operating at only a few years ago.  As a result, and notwithstanding that
some industries have attained growth in their production volumes since 2010,
the overall levels of output of the manufacturing sector have undoubtedly
declined or at best remained at approximately the same levels as applied in
the equivalent period of last year.

The causes of the general paucity of industrial production are many, and to
an overwhelmingly great extent, the removal of those causes is contingent
upon government adopting as well as vigorously and unhesitatingly pursuing
remedial policies, notwithstanding the extent that such policies may be
political anathema to it.  Foremost amongst the necessary actions to redress
the industrial decline are:

Ensuring adequate capital availability for industry. The world
record-breaking hyperinflation  that prevailed in 2008 eroded almost the
entirety of the working capital resources of almost all sectors of the
economy, including manufacturing.  Although government successfully halted
that hyperinflation in 2009, reducing Zimbabwe’s inflation levels to amongst
the lowest in Africa, it did not reverse those that had been sustained.

The erosion of their working capital was exacerbated in February 2009 by the
demonetisation of the Zimbabwe dollar, albeit that that demonetisation was
very necessary.  For many, the depletion of their capital was further
worsened by the non-payment to them by the Reserve Bank of the proceeds of
their export sales.

In an orderly economy, replenishment and enhancement of working capital
would be attained by recourse to borrowings from banks and other
institutions, or by sourcing new investment, or by a combination of such

However, the ability of industry to do so has been minimal.  The financial
sector is devoid of the resources with which to fund the required borrowings
other than on occasion and on a short-term basis, due in part to their own
capital erosion, partially because of pronounced and prolonged absence of
confidence in the security of the sector on the part of many potential

This is also in part due to minimal international loan funding forthcoming
to the banking sector because of worldwide scepticism as to the future of
Zimbabwe’s economy, and as to the security of such loan funding. It is also
because of the central bank’s inability to operate as a lender of last
resort.  Such limited funding as can be provided by the financial
institutions is generally only available for very short-terms, and at
exceptionally high, non-viable rates.

Similarly, investment funding availability is exceptionally limited as few
potential investors perceive Zimbabwe as a secure investment destination,
having regard not only to the generally distressed state of the economy, but
also because of the pronouncedly counterproductive legislation and
regulations to attain economic indigenisation and empowerment.

The never-ending deterioration in parastatal and local authority service
delivery is a further negative factor impairing industrial productivity.
Recurrent non-availability of energy supplies, the incapability of National
Railways of Zimbabwe and of Air Zimbabwe to service the needs of industry,
erratic water supplies, poor sewerage and refuse removal services, erratic
telecommunications, and the absence of many other essential services, all
impact adversely upon the ability of industry to operate productively.
Recently, a further ill has been the inability of the Zimbabwe Revenue
Authority to effect import clearances timeously, jeopardising the
expeditious receipt by manufacturers of essential inputs.

Consumer demand for all but absolutely essential basic commodities remains
at very low levels, with more than four-fifths of the population struggling
to survive on incomes below the poverty datum line (PDL).

That consumer demand insufficiency is intensified by the extent to which
imported products are available at markedly lesser prices than the
locally-produced goods, mainly as a result of the magnitude of export
incentives provided by the exporter countries, by unrealistically low
customs tariffs on such goods and by the magnitude of goods smuggled into
Zimbabwe to evade the very same low duties.

Most industries also suffer poor productivity levels because their plant and
machinery is old and financial constraints preclude adequate maintenance,
refurbishment and replacement thereof.  In addition, the industries have
suffered a considerable loss of skills, due to the gargantuan “brain drain”
over the past decade.

Most industrial labour is exceptionally demoralised and demotivated, for
incomes are far below the PDL, albeit that the employers cannot afford to
pay greater salaries and wages due in part to their financial constraints
and in part to the consequential worsening of ability to compete in export
markets as well as against imported products.  The demoralisation and
demotivation leads to low levels of productivity and in much output being of
substandard quality.

Zimbabwe has great industrial potential, especially with regard to its
considerable and diverse high quality resources to which industry can effect
substantive value addition, and due to the country’s geographic location
which can be the fulcrum for major export trade throughout the region and
further afield.  However, realisation of that potential is contingent upon
government belatedly recognising realities and therefore setting aside
political and self-centred objectives in order to pursue the common good. It
therefore needs to do all that which is necessary to bring about a virile,
vibrant economy.

This includes curtailing its own expenditure, concurrently with creation of
a conducive, nationally-beneficial taxation structure. It also includes
genuine investment security in order to attract much-needed foreign
investment and lines of credit and ensuring the efficiency of operations and
service delivery of parastatals. There is also need to motivate and enable
export competitiveness whilst levelling the playing field between imported,
and locally-produced, goods and facilitating development of new skills,
reconciling and collaborating with the international community.

Of particular urgency is to ensure availability of industrial capital.  This
includes depoliticisation of the Distressed Industries and Marginalised
Access Fund, realistic, substantial capitalisation of that fund instead of
the minimal, notional, endlessly cited amount of US$40 million. The fund
needs to be made operational instead of only endless talking about it. Its
modalities and application processes are still not in place, more than a
month after it was “launched”, and more that three months after it was first
announced as the intended industrial rescue vehicle.  Until all those
actions materialise, upward industrial transformation remains a mirage.

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Fractured course for media reform

Thursday, 10 November 2011 16:10

By Wallace Chuma

THE recent public interviews convened by the Broadcasting Authority of
Zimbabwe (BAZ) featuring four shortlisted applicants competing for two
available commercial radio licences betrayed the fractured course of media
reform in the country in the wake of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
For the nearly three years of its existence, the coalition government’s
attempts at media reform can best be described as kukiya-kiya — an urban
lingo that loosely translates to “survival by hook or crook”. But allow me
to digress a bit.

If you happened to be in Zimbabwe early May 2009, with loads of time to kill
and a fast car with a full tank, you would have probably ended up  at
Kariba, especially if teaching media studies and keeping a sort of awkward
relationship with journalists is what paid your bills.

The much-hyped “All Stakeholder Media Conference”, organised by the Media,
Information and Publicity ministry in the newly-minted Government of
National Unity (GNU) was too promising to miss, even if one was not an
invited delegate!

And so I went to Kariba. Inside the Carribea Bay Hotel — that seductive
piece of Mediterranean architecture — I sat for hours through fierce and
often highly polemical debate about the future of the country’s media policy
in the context of the new dispensation.

The GPA, signed eight months earlier, had made a bold promise of media
reform as a matter of urgency. There was a justifiable sense of expectation
all around. But the content and meaning of such reform was up for profound
contestation. In fact, the contest was bifurcated.

Let’s get the “pirate” radios out of the way first, said the one camp, and
create a media system that safeguards our “sovereignty” as a country. Such a
media, the argument went, should be patriotic, support the gains of the
“revolutionary” struggle(s), expose the West for what it is, and so forth.
The other camp, thinly represented following the decision by civil society
and independent media journalists to boycott the conference, argued in
favour of a wholesale liberalisation of the airwaves, the creation of a
public service broadcaster in the place of a state broadcaster, the lifting
of the ban on international media in the country, and the repeal of
restrictive legislation, among other things.

The presentations were spirited, if often theatrical. And so were
interventions from the floor. Some presenters were cheered and jeered in
almost equal measure. They were drawn from a cross section of public life:
pastors, lawyers, academics, politicians, journalists, activists and
possibly the Cee Ten (CIO). The tension was palpable throughout the day,
despite the conciliatory note that the Information minster (Zanu PF) and his
then deputy (MDC-T) struck at the commencement of the conference.

As the proceedings of day one drifted toward the end, it became clear to me
that there was never going to be a common position on media reform among the
“stakeholders”. It felt like a complete waste of time. And so, nursing a
bout of nihilism, I bolted out and headed back to Harare at dusk.

But it turned out that I was probably too pessimistic. Two days later, the
state media reported that the conference had been a “resounding” success and
commitments had been made to push for an accelerated reform process,
especially in areas of licensing new players in both the broadcasting and
print sector, media law reform,  and self-regulation, among others. There
was even talk of a Kariba “declaration” outlining these preferred policy
interventions, but I never got to see it despite sustained efforts to get
the document from the Information ministry.

As I write, nearly three years later, the only semblance of “reform” since
then has been the licensing of newspapers, a process that dragged so slowly
and painfully it was akin to the extraction of teeth. The creation of a
Zimbabwe Media Commission, though done through Parliament, was arguably an
exercise in political horse-trading between the two major parties when it
came to the selection of personnel driving it.

While media policymaking is inherently political, policy implementation
should ideally not be. This allows for both impartiality and continuity.
Even if the ZMC had not been a political creature, the fact that its mandate
is limited to licensing newspapers and journalists renders it largely
peripheral to any substantial media reform in Zimbabwe.

The newspaper as we know it is a medium in its death throes world over and
Zimbabwe will not be an exception. The brief frenzy of licensing within the
past two years has yielded just two national daily newspapers: Newsday and
Daily News. Several other licence-holders are yet to launch (if they are to
launch at all, given the declining economics of the newspaper business), and
I suspect a couple of community/provincial would-be newspapers are headed
for stillbirth. Already one recently licensed newspaper, The Mail, has had
its premature rendezvous with fate.

Regarding the ZMC’s other task — licensing journalists — the less said the
better. There should be no need for licensing in the first place.
It strikes me that for most of 2011, media reform was largely kept off the
political radar except for an occasion or two. This way, momentum was lost,
and any loss of momentum on a subject like this represents victory for the
status quo.

Much of the public imagination in 2011 has been exercised around the issues
of elections, the constitution-making process, indigenisation laws,
President Robert Mugabe’s health and of late, increasing levels of urban

The issue of media reform came up a few months ago when BAZ invited
applications for two commercial broadcasting licences. And then it’s back
again now, with the convening of public interviews for the shortlisted
candidates. We are told 14 applications were received. What criteria was
used to select the four for interviews out of 14 is anybody’s guess. But if
you suspect that the successful applicants to be awarded licences will be
drawn from the ranks of the nomenklatura, then you’re not alone.

The four shortlisted candidates include AB Communications, Zimpapers Talk
Radio (yes, Zimpapers!), Hot Media/Kiss FM, as well as Vox Media
Productions. During the interviews, Kiss FM told the panel that it will run
ZBC news in its programming, a laughable negation of the whole idea of media

Then there was Supa Mandiwanzira, representing AB Communications. He told
the panel that his station’s programming would “uphold national values and
sovereignty and will respect national events, Zimbabwe’s security concerns
and economic interests”. Anybody who’s been following Zimbabwe’s politics,
even remotely, will know which political party this sort of drivel has been
associated with over the past decade.

The BAZ still has not explained to Zimbabweans how it came to the conclusion
that only two national commercial licences were needed in the country now,
when technologically it is possible to have dozens of commercial and
non-commercial (community and public service) stations.

Even the way the BAZ itself is constituted is hugely problematic. The
political loyalties of its chairman Tafataona Mahoso and majority of its
members are public knowledge. You can hardly expect a partisan broadcasting
regulator to superintend over a media reform process that creates a
genuinely pluralistic and diverse media system.

Dr Chuma is Senior Lecturer, Centre for Film & Media Studies, University of
Cape Town, South Africa. This article was first published on

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Elections: Violence, bribery and fraud

Friday, 11 November 2011 09:26

THE eruption of political violence at an MDC-T rally in Chitungwiza on
Sunday was not surprising given recent events which include the banning and
disruption of rallies, as well the country’s history of brutality and
bloodshed, mainly around elections.

Judging by the recent events, including the violence and intimidation
witnessed on Sunday, it is clear Zimbabwe is heading for yet another round
of blood-spattered sham elections. Sunday’s disturbing events were a
harbinger of worse things to come. The cycle of political violence has not
been broken and things can only get worse.

Unless the GPA and the elections roadmap are firmly implemented, reinforced
by key political reforms and fundamental changes in the environment, we are
going to have a throw-back to the 2008 polls marked by brutality, killings
and bloodshed.

It is clear the state security forces, whose unlawful interference in
partisan politics has always created upheavals, are still pulling the
strings behind the scenes.

Certainly, as elections loom they will again aggressively dip into politics
in a bid to influence the outcome to protect their own self-serving
interests and possibly front their candidate as a future national leader.
This seems to be the game-plan of a ruthless and go-getting clique
straddling Zanu PF and state structures.

Recent events have clearly shown there is a Fifth Column at work in this
country comprising ambitious elements from the state security forces and
Zanu PF opportunists trying to influence the direction of politics and
future of the country.

This group — trying to undermine the will of the people - is however
motivated by a narrow agenda and self-aggrandisement — the Marange alluvial
diamonds being one of their major motivations.

The stakes in the battle for the future of Zimbabwe are now very high
because of the diamonds factor. That is why it would be naďve and even
dangerous for those struggling to remove Mugabe and steer the country
towards a democratic course to under-estimate Zanu PF and its leaders. They
are going to fight to a bitter end.

The battle is going to be bruising given that Zanu PF now relies
considerably on state structures, including those of the military, for
survival. The inexorable decline of President Robert Mugabe’s power and
rule, as well as the subsequent growth of a power vacuum has emboldened some
elements in the military and their civilian backers to try to subvert
democratic processes and grab power.

Recent political statements by prominent figures within the security forces,
followed by political violence and intimidation, show there is a militarised
group operating behind the scenes to seize the initiative and shape of
events. It is encouraged by deteriorating civil-military relations.

Whereas the institutional boundaries between civilian government and the
military were initially blurred, now the distinction has been lost
altogether, hence the military’s direct interference in politics.

This group, which is against the continued existence of the GPA and GNU, as
well as the crafting of the elections roadmap, seems to think the two main
Zanu PF factions have also failed to sort out Mugabe’s succession issue.

It is thus looking beyond Mugabe in all this, although it would conveniently
continue to use his name to push their agendas. While other parties spend a
substantial fraction of their resources in attracting voters through
ideological exhortation and manifestos, Zanu PF, now hijacked by this group,
is putting more emphasis on coercion to win elections.

Thus given Zanu PF’s dramatic decline and the high stakes, it is not
surprising, although appalling, to realise the political economy of
elections in Zimbabwe is now characterised by open violence, bribery and

While Zanu PF has used ideological arguments to make its case before
elections, it has also used violence, especially in recent years, as a tool
of mobilisation.

Brutality has escalated as the party’s popularity declined due to leadership
and policy failures, exacerbated by corruption and incompetence. Besides
violence, bribery and ballot fraud have also been the stock-in-trade of Zanu

The party has systematically employed vote-buying and ballot fraud to cling
to power. Now as Mugabe faces his last major battle in post-Independence
electoral politics and Zanu PF faces disintegration, violence, intimidation
and fraud are bound to worsen ahead of the next elections.

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Zimbabwe: Chance for democracy or conflict?

Thursday, 10 November 2011 15:47

BELOW is an edited testimony by the US assistant secretary of state Johnnie
Carson to the Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee on Africa, Global
Health, and Human Rights last Wednesday in Washington DC.

Zimbabwe  is a country of enormous economic, agricultural and regional
potential. Unfortunately, a history of fiscal mismanagement, poor governance
and a culture of political violence have limited that potential for nearly
15 years. While some visible improvements have been made, serious challenges

After a deeply flawed and violent election in 2008, Zimbabwe’s former
opposition parties are now part of a transitional coalition government that
has lasted nearly three years. This coalition government was established
under the stewardship of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc)
as a key tenet of the Global Political Agreement, which was negotiated
between the opposing parties to end political violence and move past
contested elections.

Although significant challenges remain on the political front, there has
been progress. A tri-partisan parliamentary committee has sought input for a
new draft constitution from millions of Zimbabweans. Zimbabwe’s economy,
which dollarised in 2009, has made a remarkable recovery. The International
Monetary Fund  estimated that Zimbabwe’s gross domestic product grew at 9%
in 2010. Humanitarian need has decreased significantly since 2009, when
seven million people received humanitarian aid. In January 2012, the number
of people needing humanitarian assistance is projected to be just one

Schools and health clinics previously closed due to a lack of staff and
supplies have re-opened and are providing vital social services to the
Zimbabwean people.

At the same time, substantial progress has been impeded by censorship, weak
rule of law, and the continued politicisation of state institutions.
Politically motivated harassment, intimidation and violence continue, and
state institutions are beholden to partisan agendas.

The US has always supported the people of Zimbabwe’s aspirations to create a
country that would truly empower its citizens. In the 1960s and 1970s, we
supported UN efforts to pressure Rhodesian authorities to accept majority
rule. The US  was the first country to extend diplomatic relations to the
newly independent Zimbabwe in 1980.

We have also voiced our concern when the liberation-era leadership has taken
actions that posed a threat to Zimbabwe’s stability, prosperity, and
development as a modern democratic state. The US sanctions programme is the
most visible manifestation of that concern, as it targets 121 individuals
and 69 entities pursuant to executive orders issued to address the
undermining of democratic processes or institutions in Zimbabwe.
These sanctions began in March of 2003. Much has changed in Zimbabwe since

Over the past year, the Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign
Assets Control has modified the sanctions list, adding or deleting names on
the list to reflect some of those changes. The administration will continue
to ensure the targeted sanctions programme  remains meaningful and accurate.
At the same time, the US is working to help develop a strong, democratic,
market-oriented Zimbabwe and respond to humanitarian needs. We have provided
nearly a billion dollars in assistance from fiscal year 2006 through fiscal
year 2011.

We are mindful of the current fiscal climate and the existing legal
restrictions on our assistance and we will continue to consult closely with
Congress, especially with this committee, on any proposals to change our
assistance programme to Zimbabwe.

The next two years will be a test for Zimbabwe, and the world will be
watching to see if its political leaders stick to the commitments they made
and hold free and fair elections according to a roadmap negotiated with the
assistance of the Sadc.

Zimbabwe’s future will not depend on the actions of any one individual or
even one political party. It will depend on the collective decisions
Zimbabwe’s people make to replace a legacy of political violence and
one-party rule with a culture of tolerance, reconciliation, and the
de-politicisation of state institutions. We are contributing to empowering
Zimbabweans to build the markets and institutions necessary to determine
their own future.

The US values partnerships with nations whose leaders demonstrate a
commitment to the rule of law and the free flow of information. These
features form the foundation of stable, growth-oriented democracies all over
the world, and will be a key factor governing our relationship with the
government of Zimbabwe in the years to come.

If Zimbabwe’s political parties implement the commitments that they
themselves have made in the GPA and the electoral roadmap, there will be a
clear imperative for the US to reconsider our current sanctions policy.
Specifically, this would mean the holding of free, fair, and internationally
monitored elections. It will also require state institutions to be de-linked
from Zanu PF.

The Department of State will continue to press for the protection of human
rights and accountability for those who abuse them while acknowledging
progress where it is made. Zimbabweans have already enshrined these rights
in their own laws, constitution, and international obligations, and we will
continue to stand by Zimbabweans who are working to protect these rights.

We are also doing what we can, within the confines of the targeted sanctions
programme, to promote Zimbabwe’s economic recovery and to highlight
opportunities for investment that will benefit US and Zimbabwean businesses
alike. We will continue to provide guidance to US businesses interested in
taking advantage of opportunities in Zimbabwe about how they can move
forward in a way that complies with US law.

I would be remiss if I did not mention Zimbabwe’s importance to the southern
African region. Zimbabwe shares borders with South Africa, Botswana, Zambia,
and Mozambique. It is a critical transport hub, a rich resource of talent,
and a country with great economic potential. Unfortunately, as we saw in
2008, the unstable political situation in Zimbabwe affects all the countries
around it.

Partisan influence over elements of the security sector and the use of these
forces for violent actions against political opponents has led to a
darkening of the security sector’s reputation, both at home and abroad.
Zimbabwe’s neighbours are still feeling the effects of the refugee flows and
economic collapse.

It is important to note the areas of concern and stalemate, as we often do,
but also to recognise progress and change in Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is a young
nation with a long colonial legacy to overcome. Social, political, and
economic advances do not happen quickly, nor will they necessarily follow an
American or western model.

Implementation of the Global Political Agreement has been problematic from
the beginning, but Sadc takes its mediating role seriously, and I am
confident  that they will not allow elections to go forward if it appears
that the prevailing conditions will lead to a repeat of the 2008 crisis.

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Candid Comment: Go ahead and surprise us all minister Mpofu!

Friday, 11 November 2011 09:24

THERE has been so much said about how the Chiadzwa diamonds will be the
panacea for Zimbabwe’s ills. Civil servants will get bonuses from the sale
of diamonds, Zimbabwe’s debt will be wiped out by the sale of diamonds,
diamonds may fund elections; the list is endless.

Of course the most euphoric appears to be the Mines minister himself, Obert
Mpofu, whose eyes sparkle like the precious stones when he imagines the
magical effects of the diamond wand.

“We are going to surprise the world,” Mpofu said when the Kimberley Process
Certification Scheme allowed Zimbabwe to resume exports of the stones. Yes
please minister, please go ahead and surprise us all.

Surprise us by actually telling us the truth as to exactly how much diamond
stockpiles our nation is sitting on. Surprise us by actually accounting for
the sales of the stones prior to the KPCS and surprise us by telling us the
truth about where our money from the sales of those diamonds of ours went.
Above all, surprise us by telling us who the true owners of the companies
running the Chiadzwa mines are. Don’t we all love surprises, pleasant
surprises at that?

Mpofu is elated that the mining sector will now account for 50% of Zimbabwe’s
GDP. I’m sure many others, including players in the mining sector, share
this excitement.

It’s always great to know that you’re the one who brings home the bacon.  It’s
like being the top scorer in a team. However, for as long we continue to
make primary production the cornerstone of our economy, we’ll perennially be
facing problems.

The objective should really be to reduce the proportion of the contribution
of the mining sector and extraction industries and increase the proportion
of the value-adding industries.

Countries such as South Korea, which were once weak economies like ours,
have now anchored their economies in value addition, and so have many of the
so-called South East Asian Tiger economies. Our friend Malaysia, for
instance, was once a monoculture economy, mainly exporting rubber.

That clearly would have not got it where it is, even if the prices of rubber
shot up to the same as those of diamonds. Closer to home, Mauritius was yet
another monoculture economy, centred on sugar production. But it has since
transformed itself.

Zimbabwe instead seems to be heading the other way.  At Independence,
manufacturing (value addition) accounted for 26% percent of GDP; this has
since more than halved. But that’s not the only worrying part. Mpofu then
raps Tendai Biti for allocating his ministry what he terms a meagre
budgetary allocation. He doesn’t’ state exactly what he wants more money
for, but more likely than not, it’s for recurrent expenditure.

This is where the biggest threat to the diamond issue lies. It’s good that
as the minister says, we will never need to borrow from anybody. Coming from
a cabinet minister, we take it to mean that “we” refers to government.
Correct, before the discovery of diamonds, government used to borrow to
finance its budget deficits, and we know what the consequences were. Now,
the government will finance its deficit from the diamonds proceeds.

The moral of the story is there seems to be no more drive to curtail
expenditure.  So the government can now safely be profligate unchecked; more
shopping trips outside the country, bigger delegations to international fora
(including, perhaps, housemaids).

Lest we be misunderstood to be against the lifting of the ban on diamonds,
we are merely saying now that it is the case, let’s put the proceeds to good

Itai Masuku

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Editor's Memo: Is Mugabe still in charge?

Friday, 11 November 2011 09:21

THE quest by Zanu PF hardliners to attain political papacy for President
Robert Mugabe at all cost is plunging the country into anarchy rendering the
spirit and letter of the global political agreement (GPA) unattainable.

The GPA was inked in September 2008 to deliver a legitimate government
through a free and fair election, but the re-emergence of political violence
has created a toxic environment that will culminate in the nation sliding
back to the disastrous period prior to the signing of the pact which was
characterised by murder, rape, torture and numerous other vices.

Clearly thought-out benchmarks were tabulated in the GPA on how to achieve a
violence-free poll, where the wishes of the electorate would be upheld and
respected. Among the benchmarks are national healing, media reforms, the
cessation of violence, a non-partisan security sector as well legislative
reforms. Most of these reforms have not being undertaken, largely as a
result of Mugabe and Zanu PF’s intransigence.

Talk of elections next year has reignited the political violence powder keg
as Zanu PF functionaries have gone into the trenches to secure victory by
hook or by crook. The situation is made worse by Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai and his deputy, Arthur Mutambara’s agreement with Mugabe that we
must have elections soon. They are once again playing into the hands of the
wily old fox Mugabe.

Since June we have seen political violence rearing its ugly head. We
witnessed supporters and members of the MDC-T assaulted in and at parliament
despite Mugabe’s calls for an end to violence. Rallies of both formations of
the MDC have been banned by the police for no apparent reason. In some cases
the police ignored court orders sanctioning the rallies.

Last weekend’s orgy of violence in Chitungwiza pitting Zanu PF and MDC-T
youths brought to the fore the fact that Zimbabwe cannot have free and fair
polls any time soon unless and until real reforms are put in place.

Why has Mugabe’s calls for an end to violence fallen on seemingly deaf ears?
Why is the 87-year-old ruler failing to order the police to arrest
perpetrators of political violence regardless of the party they belong to?

These questions put paid to the notion that Mugabe is not really in charge
with other dark forces now running the government. There is absolutely no
doubt that Mugabe is now a prisoner of the hardliners.

Early elections, minus reforms, would be tantamount to ruin. Our leaders
should not be so preoccupied by the end-state but the process.
Rashly-arranged polls are a poisoned chalice for Zimbabwe which will result
in a bloody and contested poll.

The likely result is another hollow victory for Mugabe as happened in June
2008. He might get legal legitimacy, but not political or moral legitimacy
and then another round of talks, ending with another inclusive government,
will ensue. No sane Zimbabwean would want another political cul-de-sac.

There is no doubt that we have been seized with a Machiavellian moment,
where each of the political leaders has set their sights on attaining power.
The winner will literally walk over bodies to State House.

As stated time and time again, to create an atmosphere for free and fair
elections the benchmarks agreed in the GPA should be met. The police should
not be attack dogs of Mugabe and Zanu PF, hence the need for their urgent

Selective application of  the law has been the major source of the
escalation of violence. Reforming the security sector doesn’t entail a
change of guard, but introducing professionalism. Cases of political
violence should not be bailable as a deterrent to would-be perpetrators.

Numerous lives were lost needlessly in 2008 and unless Mugabe walks the talk
his pleas for peace will be meaningless and he will be guilty of complicity.
The ball is in his court!

Constantine Chimakure

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