|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Top-form Mugabe keeps succession pot boiling
By Tony Hawkins, Harare
Mugabe's talk of retiring has touched off a scramble for
Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe may have had a health wobble 10 days ago,
but in a series of public appearances last week he gave the lie to mostly SA
media reports that he was seriously ill. From all accounts he was in top
form at Friday's central committee meeting of his ruling Zanu PF party at
which he put the wind up many in the business community, with promises to
restructure national institutions. Number one target is the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe, which is to become "much more of a developmental institution", but
other parastatals and even his "war cabinet" will not be spared, he said.
Time will tell just what that means, but bankers are battening down the
hatches as they anticipate tighter foreign currency and interest rate
controls. The president is particularly incensed that the banks have
quadrupled prime lending rates, which reached 160% last week. He - and many
others - accuse the banks of profiteering in the parallel market for foreign
exchange and by pushing up their lending rates much more than their deposit
rates. But because inflation has doubled from 228% in March to 456%, real
interest rates continue to become increasingly negative, despite prime rate
hikes. Businessmen and bankers warn that more controls will make matters
worse, a view shared by senior officials and even cabinet ministers. But so
frenetic now is the scramble for power once Mugabe finally decides to step
down or is forced out of office by ill-health that day-to-day management of
the country and the economy is sidelined.
believe Mugabe is playing his party and the country like a
consummate violinist. His Delphic references to possible retirement,
including, according to President Thabo Mbeki, a promise to retire by June
2004, have set off an orgy of factionalism within Zanu PF. The mood is
fuelled by the vacancy for deputy president since the death of Simon Muzenda
in September. The net effect has been to create the conviction, or fear,
that if and when he goes, Mugabe will leave behind a hopelessly divided
party unable to agree on a successor. This, cynics argue, suits the
president perfectly. Parliamentary speaker and long-standing Mugabe loyalist
Emmerson Mnangagwa remains the frontrunner, but there are reports of a
stop-Mnangagwa front, spearheaded by two former military men - retired air
force chief Josiah Tungamirai and one-time army general Solomon Mujuru. They
are said to have the backing of former home affairs minister and leading
Ndebele politician, Dumiso Dabengwa. Tungamirai himself is contemplating
contesting the Gutu North parliamentary seat, previously held by Muzenda.
Also in the running for that seat, apparently, is yet another military man,
Gen Vitalis Zvinavashe, head of the army, who is due to retire soon. His
name is being touted, too, as a possible successor to Mugabe. Mujuru, a
former army chief turned farmer and businessman, is more a behind-the-scenes
powerbroker than an active player in the presidential stakes. He has often
been associated with bids to build up the standing of former finance
minister Simba Makoni (said to be Mbeki's preferred choice).
On the surface, none of these "newer"
players fits the Zanu PF mould in
which seniority is paramount. Unless this changes, Mnangagwa's main rivals
are likely to be defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi (also close to Mugabe
and a man who has held numerous cabinet portfolios since independence), and
party chairman John Nkomo. His strength is that he is seen as a safe pair of
hands, a relative moderate and a man capable of uniting some of the smaller
factions against unpopular party heavyweights - a category said to include
both Mnangagwa and Sekeramayi. The party is split on more than personalities
and regionalism. Though there is no serious ideological divide, there is a
deep split over how to handle the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC). Hardliners believe they can play the country as Mugabe has - using
the courts, the police and army, the state media, and the "green bombers"
(youth militants) to keep the opposition under control. The more thoughtful
believe this is no longer possible and instead favour a Makoni-like figure
in the hope that he would represent so radical a change from Mugabism that
swing voters would desert the MDC in droves and support the party of
experience. All of this is academic so long as Mugabe holds on to power. His
performance last week certainly suggests that he is in no hurry to move on,
and that speculation that he will quit at the party congress next month or
when he turns 80 in February, is wishful thinking.
ZCTU protest Tuesday
By Kumbirai Mafunda
THE Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) will from Tuesday
organise street protests against President Robert Mugabe’s rule and the
general decay of the Zimbabwean economy.
Top union leaders told The Standard that the ZCTU, Zimbabwe’s largest
trade union movement, has now changed its “culture of resistance” from the
largely ineffectual job stayaways to confrontational street protests.
Union leaders, including secretary general Wellington Chibhebhe, said
although the police had been notified, the ZCTU was prepared to go ahead
with the street protests with or without the requisite police clearance.
“The struggle is now into the fourth gear and the vehicle has five
gears. The government may crush the demonstration but the spirit is very
high,” said Chibhebe.
The ZCTU, which the government accuses of being an appendage of the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change, has in the past failed to mount
successful street protests.
Last month heavily armed soldiers, aided by the police and other State
security agents, ruthlessly crushed mass protests in Harare and other major
cities organised by the union to protest against mounting poverty and the
general breakdown of the rule of law.
Chibhebhe said he believed the ZCTU had turned around the corner and
that Zimbabweans were now more committed to flex their muscles against
He said the union had consulted “widely” and had taken in workers and
the civic society as well as employers in its latest showdown with the
“People are saying you are letting us down by being quiet. So as
workers and trade unionists we are prepared to go the distance,” vowed
Street protests in Harare would start with a procession from the State
Lottery Hall near Town House at 12:30 pm and workers are expected to march
along Julius Nyerere Way to Samora Machel Avenue.
They would then proceed along Samora Machel Avenue up to Second Street
where a petition outlining their proposals on tax relief would be handed
over to Finance and Economic Development Minister Herbert Murerwa at his
Munhumutapa Building offices.
The petition comes two days before Murerwa unveils his 2004 National
Budget on Thursday this week.
In Bulawayo, workers and residents are expected to assemble at the
ZESA offices and the procession will end at Mhlahlandlela Complex, which
houses government offices. The MDC said it was supporting the ZCTU-organised
The National Constitutional Assembly and Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition,
two influential civic organisations, said they would also support the street
Solidarity messages have been received from COSATU, the Commonwealth
Trade Union Council and the African Regional Organisation of the
International Confederation of Free Trade Unions.
Meanwhile, the Progressive Teachers’ Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ) has
urged teachers to down their chalks and join the street protests in large
Lack of political will fuels corruption
By Caiphas Chimhete
LACK of political drive by government, absence of a tight legislative
framework and economic hardships have fuelled rampant corruption in Zimbabwe
such that certain politicians have become “godfathers” of shady syndicates.
Addressing a Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) national
anti-corruption conference last week in Harare, National Economic
Consultative Conference (NECF) spokesman, Nhlanhla Masuku, said corruption
had become “a staple diet of the greedy and powerful” in Zimbabwe.
“Lack of political will has fuelled wanton corruption to the extent
that some politicians have become godfathers of corrupt syndicates,” said
Masuku, whose organisation has established an Economic Surveillance and
The committee monitors and polices government departments for
effectiveness in dealing with identified cases of economic crime and
He noted that lack of enforcement of the existing laws was largely
because of the absence of political will as well as loopholes in the laws,
draining the country of a great deal of money.
Although StandardBusiness could not establish the amount lost annually
through corrupt activities, it is estimated that the figure runs into
billions of dollars.
Speaking at the same conference, Chief Executive Officer of the
Deposit Protection Board (DPB), John Chikura, called for the setting up of a
legal and regulatory framework that encourages honest people while
simultaneously punishing the dishonest ones.
He said corruption was rampant in all facets of society in the
country, including the judiciary.
“You know what people say about our legal system today; ‘why pay the
lawyer when you can buy the judge’,” said Chikura.
Recent recorded cases of corruption by government officials and senior
Zanu PF political heavyweights include the VIP Housing Scheme and the War
Veterans’ Compensation Fund.
President Robert Mugabe himself has publicly admitted the prevalence
of rampant corruption within government departments and parastatals. He has
singled out the bankrupt National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim).
However, despite the wanton corruption, numerous efforts are under way
to deal with the scourge at various levels of society.
Three years ago, Parliament amended the constitution to provide for
the establishment of an Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC). TIZ director,
Andrew Nongogo, said an ACC had the potential to deal with corruption, a
phenomenon that is driving away potential investors the country desperately
“Clearly Zimbabwe is a country that is in desperate need of both
external and internal investment; however, no substantial investment can be
expected where perceptions about the country are clearly negative,” he said.
But Masuku said due to the absence of political will, no progress has
been made save for a poorly drafted Bill circulating in the country.
“The Bill as drafted is totally useless as it is silent on providing
for a special investigations unit such as the Scorpions of South Africa’s
prosecution and witness protection programme,” he said.
The Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Protocol Against
Corruption, which many people pinned their hopes on, is also riddled with
Masuku said missing from the protocol’s definition of corruption are
crimes such as money laundering, racketeering and parallel market
activities, making it a weak legislation.
“As a model law, it is too limited and does not address the modern day
anatomy of corruption,” he said.
This apart, though the government signed the protocol, it still has
not ratified it.
Already Zimbabwe is ranked among the most corrupt nations in the
world. On this year’s Transparency International Corruption Perception
Index, Zimbabwe is ranked 106th out of the 133 countries surveyed.
The index of the ratings pegs the most corrupt country at 133.
Bangladesh, Nigeria and Haiti are the most corrupt countries and are ranked
133, 132 and 131.
It is believed that corruption is set to worsen as Zimbabwe’s
political and economic fabric continues to disintegrate.
National Budget day: only divine intervention can save Zimbabwe
By Kumbirai Mafunda
WILL Zimbabwe’s embattled Finance and Economic Development Minister,
Herbert Murerwa, bow down to pressure or will he stick to his guns? That is
the question this week ahead of one of the most keenly awaited National
Budget statements of the Murerwa era.
Murerwa, as with tradition, will on Thursday afternoon announce
Zimbabwe’s budget policy for 2004.
The 40 or so pages that make up the Budget statement are perhaps the
last opportunity for Zimbabwe to address the debilitating economic mess the
southern African country is now mired in.
However, Zimbabweans of all rank and file have expressed pessimism
over Murerwa’s ability to come up with solutions to the disintegrating
Their pessimism stems from the fact that for the past four years — two
of those under Murerwa — Zimbabwe’s economy has been in the red, finally
declining by 14,4% in 2002.
Economic conditions have deteriorated, weighted down by persistent
foreign exchange shortages and a growing dependence on the thriving parallel
Murerwa, who last year pleaded with God to salvage the country,
promised to reduce inflation — the highest in the region — to 96% by
There has however been no divine intervention and inflation has
surpassed 400%, recorded at 455,5% as at end of October.
Some economists say this figure is an underestimate: they say
year-on-year inflation is now above 700% and will gallop past the 1 000%
mark come Christmas.
“If the minister is honest, he will say the government has failed. The
country cannot live on tax revenues,” says independent economist, John
Robertson, on Murerwa’s proposed Budget.
“We have an impossible situation for a minister who has no answers,”
With personal in-comes increasingly eroded by taxation and rising
commodity prices, Robertson says the only remaining source for new money is
the government’s own printing works in Msasa which will no doubt be
instructed to print more notes.
Already the government has arm-twisted the Zanu PF controlled
Parliament to allow a whopping $672bn supplementary budget to cover for
Analysts once again note that a supplementary budget is inevitable and
most likely in April because of the rate at which inflation is soaring.
So how can Zimbabwe pull itself out of the current economic mess it is
“We need a change of government. This government needs to stand aside
to let a better government take over. It cannot talk to developmental
partners such as the IMF and the World Bank,” says Robertson.
Bulawayo-based economic consultant, Eric Bloch, says Budget day on
November 20 will be a non-event.
“There are no great expectations. It is going to be a non-event
because all the rational contributions from stakeholders are incompatible
with the ruling Zanu PF government’s wishes,” says Bloch.
“The recommendations run contrary to the ruling party’s policies and
Mugabe’s wishes. Murerwa’s hands are handcuffed and his feet are tied,” he
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, which has lobbied for low
personal tax, says it wants taxes to be reduced 10% from January and by 5%
in subsequent years so that they match international standards.
Prominent banker Nigel Chanakira — like Murerwa — has been praying for
“We are in a greater political and social dilemma so we really need
wisdom from above. It is only the spirit of God that can give us wisdom.
Thus I am in prayer for Murerwa,” Chanakira says.
Chances, though, are that Murerwa will be found wanting on Thursday
and — despite all the prayers in the world there will be no divine
ZESA loses millions to illegal connections
By our own Staff
THE financially troubled Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa)
is being prejudiced of millions of dollars following a spate of illegal
electricity connections in hundreds of homes in Harare, especially in the
high-density suburbs, by its employees, The Standard has established.
Apart form prejudicing Zesa, the connections are also endangering the
lives of residents since they are being done without appropriate switches to
control the voltage recommended for each house.
A senior official at Zesa said investigations into the scandal to
establish how much the corporation, currently struggling to pay its foreign
creditors, has lost through the illegal connections have already started.
He said the illegal connections were rampant around Harare because of
an acute shortage of MCBs and electricity cables.
Preliminary investigations, he said, had revealed that most of the
illegal connections were in Harare’s high-density suburbs of Kuwadzana,
Hatcliff, Dzivarasekwa, Tynwald and Ruwa.
For the past few months, the national power utility has not been
installing electricity into newly-built homes because of the shortage of
MCBs, cables and other electrical components due to the shortage of foreign
There has also been reports of a spate of theft of electricity
components around Harare, including those of electricity cables.
For each illegal connection, desperate homeowners pay “a connection
fee” ranging between $150 000 and $300 000 to the technicians. The
connections were mostly done during the night.
The scandal came to light after one of the junior employees demanded
payment for overtime for work that was not sanctioned by his superiors.
“Further investigations then revealed that hundreds of homes were
illegally connected with electricity prejudicing Zesa of millions of
dollars,” said the source.
Two weeks ago, Zesa held an identification parade at its Kuwadzana
depot, where at least eight technicians and their assistants were pointed
out by people, who had paid them money for the illegal electricity
The identification exercise, said the official, will also be carried
out in other suburbs. Efforts to get a comment from Zesa management services
officer, Daniel Maviva, were unsuccessful while questions sent to the
company’s public relations manager, Shepherd Mandizvidza, were not responded
to by the time of going to print.
The national power utility is entangled in a web of debt estimated at
over US$200 million, of which $12 million is owed to Eskom of South Africa.
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Mozambique and South Africa
have on several occasions threatened to switch off Zimbabwe for non-payment
of electricity debts.
Fear and hunger in the TCAN
overthetop By Brian Latham
FOLLOWING the huge success of agricultural reform in a troubled
central African nation (TCAN), it has been announced that half the
population needs emergency food aid. Fortunately the other half doesn’t need
food aid, so that’s a good thing.
Instead, the half that doesn’t need food aid will be made to buy food,
though they complain this isn’t as easy as it sounds. The lucky ones will be
allowed to eat if they can find money, or if they can secure a mortgage on a
loaf of bread.
Meanwhile, a survey conducted by Over The Top has revealed that Zany
agricultural reforms may well produce enough maize – to feed the national
chicken flock. This is partly because the minister of agricultural
destruction spent a great deal of money trying to grow mealies in winter.
The mealies declined to cooperate.
Of course, ambitious experimentation in crop science was not the sole
contributor to mass starvation and possible genocide. Part of the blame must
lie with the fact that there are no farms left in the troubled central
African basket case.
While thousands of ex-farmers sit in the troubled capital twiddling
their once green thumbs, hundreds of thousands of others have been settled
on the once flourishing farms. Sadly the minister of agricultural
destruction overlooked the fact that the new settlers’ annual income was
slightly less than a bag of seed. As a consequence, some hungry settlers ate
the seed, while others wrung their hands and complained they couldn’t afford
A drive around the troubled central African banana republic reveals
that no land has been prepared ahead of the imminent rainy season. It also
reveals that before very long there will be no bananas in the troubled
central African banana republic.
Meanwhile, new farmers interviewed by OTT said they did not know why
they had listened to the minister of agricultural destruction. They said
they’d have been better off staying at home and having their homes torched,
which was the other option offered to them by the ruling Zany Party.
Still, the Zany Party insists that agricultural destruction has been a
massive success and blames hunger variously on the weather, economic
saboteurs, the British and the Americans.
Still, with great good fortune the British and the Americans have
ignored the accusations and taken on the task of feeding that half of the
population that can’t get a mortgage on a loaf of bread.
This has led to a curious phenomenon and much anxiety in the Zany
Party. Ruling party spin-doctors insist the opposition More Drink Coming
Party is a creation of unpleasant people in Britain and America who want to
re-colonise the troubled central African nation. Why they should want to do
this when it could be bought for 10 quid remains a mystery, but that’s what
Still, with food being delivered to hungry villagers in bags marked as
gifts of America and Britain, the hungry villagers assume the More Drink
Coming Party is feeding the people.
It must be so, they say, because the egg head minister of
misinformation assures them every night that these two imperialist nations
are hand in glove with the More Drink Coming Party.
The pleasure of watching this rather pleasant development is
heightened by the fact that almost all villagers listen to the minister of
misinformation. Not to do so could result in a large blow to the side of the
head, so the minister of misinformation finds himself in the curious
position of pumping out propaganda for the More Drink Coming Party.
It also means that the starving villagers are growing to like those
crazed imperialists who’re trying to colonise their country – and that’s
another fact that has the misinformation minister frothing at the mouth.
Council debt recovery plan riles Byo residents
By Loughty Dube
THE Bulawayo City Council is headed for a showdown with residents over
a proposed new debt recovery system that would force defaulters to sublet
their properties and the council collecting rates directly from the lodgers.
The debt recovery system, drafted by the council’s Finance and
Development Committee, also proposes that the council engages more debt
collectors to ensure a smooth collection of revenue and an easy debt
According to the new method, residents who fail to pay their rates
would be forced to accommodate lodgers who will pay their rents directly to
Bulawayo United Residents Association chairman, Winos Dube told The
Standard that the council’s decision to force lodgers into residents’
properties was shocking.
“This is going to create tension and as an association we are going to
resist because there are other debt recovery methods that council should
have explored before coming up with this ridiculous method,” said Dube.
The debt recovery proposals are part of the implementation mechanism
of the 2004 budget announced by council last week.
The council’s budget is $531,4 billion while the council’s expected
income is only $20,2 billion.
This would result in a budget deficit of $511,2 billion which council
says some of this would be offset by borrowing from the open market.
The council has in the past relied heavily on the financial market to
sustain its capital projects, the majority of whom are still at a standstill
as it awaits approval of a $60 billion supplementary budget that would see
tariffs go up by more than 80 percent.
Apart from being owed billions by residents, the Bulawayo City
Council, Zimbabwe’s second largest, is owed more by government departments
in unpaid rates.
New visa regime for Zim visitors to SA
By Henry Makiwa
DESPERATE Zimbabweans seeking to trade in South Africa or visit
relatives are now being forced to produce traveller’s cheques or bank
statements in that country’s currency following recent surprise changes in
the visa requirements imposed by Pretoria.
Zimbabwean business people and travellers are complaining that they
now have to show the South African High Commission proof that they have
R1000 in traveller’s cheques or in their own bank accounts before they can
be issued with visas.
The new visa requirements state that Zimbabwean visitors to South
Africa have to produce proof of a bank statement or traveller’s cheques of
at least R1000 at the immigration offices before they can be accorded a
The new developments have reportedly resulted in the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) accusing the South African High Commission of trying to mop
up the troubled central bank’s last reserves of foreign currency.
The South African government has however refuted the charges insisting
that the new visa requirements were universal and did not affect Zimbabweans
Jeremiah Ndou, the South African High Commissioner to Zimbabwe, said
the new visa requirements were in line with new South African legislation
that was enacted early this year.
“The RBZ has already approached us seeking a meeting to iron out the
misunderstandings which we are unaware of. All that has happened is that we
have enforced the new visa requirements in accordance with the South African
Immigration Act of April 2003,” said Ndou.
Prior to new regulations, Zimbabwean travellers only needed to show
local bank statements proving that they had a bank balance of at least $102
000 with a local bank to apply for a South African visa.
“We previously only asked for the equivalent of 1 000 rands but the
problem is that one can no longer use the Zimbabwean currency for any
financial transaction in South Africa,” said Ndou.
“It (the R1000) is not a visa charge or fee, neither is it an attempt
to prohibit people from travelling to South Africa … but a means to ensure
that Zimbabweans can sustain themselves when they get there,” he added.
However, officials at the RBZ and members of the public say the new
requirements are deliberately meant to curb the influx of impoverished
Zimbabweans, seeking to flee the country, into South Africa.
Immigration experts say between 10 to 20 per cent of the Zimbabwean
population, currently estimated at 12 million people, have left their homes
to seek jobs in neighbouring countries, most of them in South Africa.
Abou two million Zimbabweans are reportedly in South Africa which is
also grappling with the massive unemployment of its own citizens.
Besides the minimum R1 000 in cash or as traveller’s cheques,
Zimbabweans are also required to disclose the location of their residence
while in South Africa.
“All we need to know is where the holiday-makers, visitors or business
people visiting South Africa would be putting up to make it easier for us to
locate them while in South Africa,” said Ndou.
An estimated 1 500 Zimbabweans travel to South Africa officially every
week while thousands more risk their lives swimming across the
crocodile-infested Limpopo River or jump the border.
Ndou said South Africa had now devised special permits for Zimbabweans
living on the border to allow them to visit friends and relatives on the
Gold suspects on $29m bail
By our own Staff
THREE alleged gold dealers, who connived and smuggled gold worth
US$161 000 to South Africa were last week granted bail of up to $29 million
by High Court judge Tadius Karwi.
Under Zimbabwean law, no one is permitted to export gold except the
Reserve Bank and the three are being charged for contravening the Gold Trade
Ian MacMillan and Ewan Alexander MacMillan were granted $12 million
bail each while Claire Lynn Burdett, a pilot, was asked to pay $5 million.
Conditions of bail for the MacMillans are that they surrender their
passports and are to report to the police once a day between 6 am and 6 pm.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe has been also ordered to take
custody of two planes — a Cessna 210 and a Beechcraft belonging to Ian
MacMillan. The two planes were allegedly used by the trio to smuggle the
gold, said the State.
Ewan MacMillan owns two gold mills in Bindura and Shamva. Burdett’s
conditions are that she surrenders her passport and reports twice a week at
the Morris deport’s CID department, until the case is finalised
Chinos, Sibanda barred from war vets congress
By Loughty Dube
BULAWAYO — The war veterans’ association has barred former Harare and
Bulawayo chairmen, Joseph Chinotimba and Jabulani Sibanda, from
participating in its forthcoming annual congress set for Mutare at the end
of this month, it was learnt last week.
Patrick Nyaruwata, the acting chairman for the Zimbabwe National
Liberation War Veterans’ Association told The Standard that Chinotimba and
Sibanda would not be allowed to contest for positions in the association and
would be barred from attending the congress.
“The position is clear on the two: Chinotimba and Sibanda would not be
allowed to contest the elections in the war veterans’ association because
they are currently under suspension for various acts of indiscipline and
they will not be invited to the congress,” Nyaruwata said.
He said Sibanda was barred from the association for failing to attend
meetings, while Chinotimba was suspended on allegations of indiscipline.
When contacted for comment, Sibanda accused Nyaruwata of behaving like
“Nyaruwata says he is not going to invite me and Chinotimba to the
annual congress but I would not wait for an invitation from him. It is not
Nyaruwata’s birthday we are attending,” charged Sibanda.
The move to bar the two, however, is likely to create divisions within
the association as cracks have already appeared after some Bulawayo-based
war veterans heckled Vice President Joseph Msika, when he travelled to
Bulawayo to mediate in the split within the war veterans’ ranks after
One group alleges that the suspensions of Sibanda and Chinotimba were
meant to clear the way for Nyaruwata and friends to continue leading the
Nyaruwata, on the other hand, has said investigations into Chinotimba,
for instance, had shown that his liberation war credentials were bogus,
proving that he never joined the liberation struggle.
Meanwhile, Chinotimba — the self-styled “commander-in-chief of farm
invasions” and leader of a trade union, has allegedly failed to pay his
workers’ salaries over the past six months.
Some workers at Chinotimba’s Edlan security company have already
stopped going to work because they say they have not been paid for months
Soaring fuel prices push funeral charges through the roof
By Wilson Dakwa
BULAWAYO – Funeral undertakers here have hiked funeral service charges
beyond the reach of most urban poor, The Standard has established.
The undertakers said they had been forced to adjust their charges
upwards because of skyrocketing fuel prices as most of them are now
obtaining their fuel on the black market where prices had increased
dramatically over the past month.
Gone are the days when it used to cost a few thousand dollars for one
to bury a loved one.
Since the fuel crisis began, undertakers say they have been battling
to make ends meet and their businesses are being threatened with collapse
due to the exorbitant costs of buying fuel on the black market.
For a person to accord a relative a decent burial, one has to fork out
between $200 000 to $600 000, amounts which are unaffordable especially to
those living in the poor high-density suburbs.
Most undertakers interviewed by The Standard said the critical fuel
shortage and the exorbitant charges on the black market have left them
operating at a loss and they have therefore been forced to pass the costs to
Vivian Pierce, who runs Lalakahle Funeral Services, said his company
was now limiting burial services outside Bulawayo City because of the fuel
“It is risky that you can carry a body all the way to Tsholotsho and
end up running out of fuel along the way. This becomes a nightmare as the
body might decompose,” said Pierce.
Petrol now costs up to $25 000 for 5 litres on the black market in
Bulawayo while the official rate is supposed to be $2 600 per litre.
Pierce said there is now a marked decrease in the number of people
utilising official funeral companies because of the high costs.
“We appeal to the government to give us preferential treatment like
they do to commuter omnibuses since we are an essential service,” she said.
Another operator, John Phiri of Crocker Brothers, said the cheapest
cost of a funeral they handle is $200 000. This covers consultation fees,
body grooming, gowns and transport to the place of burial.
“We used to handle 21 bodies a day but now this has been reduced to
three bodies a week. It is now no longer viable to run a funeral parlour as
most people in the Western suburbs, where the bulk of our customers come
from, are shunning us,” he said.
The situation was worsened by the current doctors’ strike that has
meant more people are dying at home.
Bogus undertakers have also mushroomed in Bulawayo and around Mpilo
Central Hospital where they waylay mourners coming to collect bodies and
offer them supposedly cheap, but non-existent services.
Zimsec workers strike over pay
By our own Staff
WORKERS at the beleaguered Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council
(Zimsec) are on strike over low pay and poor working conditions resulting
once again in the disruption of ongoing final examinations.
At least 120 workers at Zimsec downed tools on Tuesday afternoon
demanding a review of their pay and current working conditions after
management refused to meet them.
The strike is already threatening to paralyse the ongoing end-of-year
examinations with the worst to be affected likely to be the primary school
Grade Seven examinations.
Work on the Grade Seven results has been disrupted and the issuing of
result slips which was originally scheduled for December 2 will now commence
much later, said Zimsec sources who spoke to The Standard.
The sources also said some Ordinary level and Advanced level
examination papers which had been submitted to the Zimsec offices for
marking have been redirected back to their original schools because there is
insufficient manpower to handle them.
Officials of the National Education Union of Zimbabwe (NEUZ), which
represents Zimsec workers, allege that the examinations body’s management,
ignored their October 30 three-day ultimatum to improve salaries and working
“The skyrocketing prices of basic commodities fuelled by the
unprecedented hikes of transport fares leaves Zimsec employees with no
option but to call for an immediate redress of the situation,” said Kenias
Shamuyarira, the general secretary of NUEZ.
Shamuyarira said their demands included a housing allowance of $45
000, a basic salary of at least $600 000 and a transport allowance of $120
Addressing workers at the Zimsec offices on Wednesday, NEUZ’s
information officer Mathias Guchutu said the strike would have a ripple
effect on the entire education system.
“Grade Seven pupils will not have their results in early December as
per tradition and this will affect the secondary school first form’s
enrolment system,” said Guchutu.
Bodies pile up in Gweru
By our own Staff
GWERU — Several bodies are rotting at the government-owned Gweru
General Hospital because the hospital’s mortuary has become old and
dilapidated, it has been established.
The deteriorating condition of the mortuary, where malfunctioning
fridges have gone for the past seven weeks without repair, have forced some
relatives to abandon body viewing at funerals because of the advanced state
of decomposition of the corpses.
On Friday, a reporter from The Standard witnessed relatives of the
deceased, some without gloves or protected clothing, sifting through bodies
and some using plastic bags to carry bodies of their loved ones out of the
Zanu PF divided over Banana hero status
By Caiphas Chimhete
MAVERICK politician and former Zanu PF secretary-general Edgar Tekere
has urged President Robert Mugabe to grant the late former head of State,
Canaan Banana, a total pardon and declare him a national hero.
The call comes at a time when the Zanu PF supreme decision-making
body, the Politburo, is understood to be widely divided about what status
Banana, convicted of homosexual offences, should be accorded.
Tekere, who described Banana as “a national luminary”, said after
Mugabe’s pardon the public would be able to contend with the good things
that the theologian did for Zimbabwe.
“Everybody knows Banana erred and that’s a black spot in his history
but what he did for the nation outweighs all that. I urge Mugabe to grant
him a presidential pardon. He does not need to explain why,” he said.
Tekere said that he had been in touch with “some of my friends” in
Zanu PF on the issue but what he found out was “very depressing”.
Although the Politburo has not officially met, The Standard has it on
good authority that some members of the all-powerful Zanu PF body were
agonising on what status Zimbabwe’s first President should be conferred
Sources said there was a strong movement within Zanu PF that the
government accords Banana, who died in the UK, “a State aided funeral” and
nothing more. The sources also said Mugabe was reluctant to declare the late
Methodist Minister, who they say has been widely isolated since his
conviction, national hero status for fear that it would create controversy.
They added that the declaration of national hero’s status could also
be an embarrassment for Mugabe, known for his virulent anti-homosexual
Mugabe once describ-ed homosexuals as “worse than pigs and dogs”.
But Tekere, a former opposition leader of the now defunct Zimbabwe
Unity Movement, is not convinced that all that Banana did for Zimbabwe
should be obliterated because of his conviction.
“They are an unforgiving lot. Given Mugabe’s position I could have
described Banana in stronger language than ‘worse than pigs and dogs’ but I
could still have forgiven him,” said Tekere, himself once thrown into the
political wilderness by Mugabe for lobbying against the one party State.
University of Zimbabwe lecturer and a former work-mate of the late
Banana, Heneri Dzinotyiwei, who also strongly feels that Banana deserves a
hero status as a former State president, said Zanu PF tactically isolated
Banana after the conviction just like the other “heroes” who die like
Banana was sentenced to five years in prison on 11 counts of sodomy
and homosexual assault. He served about a year at the Connemara Open Prison
Sources who spoke to The Standard last week said Banana, who died of
prostate cancer last Monday, confirmed that he had become “a social outcast”
in Zanu PF circles despite his spirited national contribution not only to
Zimbabwe but to the world.
The government mouth-piece, The Herald, on Tues-day quoted President
Ro-bert Mugabe thanking “local medical personnel” for commendable efforts to
save Banana when it actual fact, the theologian died in London.
“Something is am-iss here,” noted one analyst. “It appears as if
Mugabe was not aware of the whereabouts ofBanana because he thanked local
medical personnel when he had been getting most of his treatment outside the
Describing him as “an internationally renowned theologian and peace
broker”, Dzinotyiwei says Banana was “under-utilised” by both government and
society at large after his conviction.
Dzinotyiwei urged government to come up with a clear role for
“distinguished” personalities, who would have vacated office to tap in their
experience for the benefit of the country.
Banana’s contribution to the country spans several decades and that
cannot be wished away, said the mathematician.
Tekere said Banana — together with the late Nolan Makombe, Nelson
Mawema and the late Basoppo Moyo — were the pillars of the liberation
struggle at the home front. “We relied on these people and were it not for
them, things could have been different and the struggle would have taken
much longer,” said Tekere.
It did not end there.
Before his conviction, Banana brokered the unity accord that ended the
antagonism between Zanu PF and Zapu in 1987, which had led to the slaughter
of about 20 000 people in Matebeleland and Midlands provinces by government
Previously, Banana had also ‘saved’ the situation when he agreed to
become a ceremonial president after former vice President Joshua Nkomo had
turned the post down.
“We were in a desperate situation because Nkomo had refused saying it
was gimmick by Zanu to swallow his party. Banana agreed and he was accepted
by the people countrywide including the politicians and churches,” said
In the 1990s Banana – the country’s first black president – was
involved in attempts to end fighting in war-torn Liberia.
And more recently in 2000, he was put forward as a possible mediator
between Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Former University of Zimbabwe vice chancellor Professor Gordon
Chavunduka dismissed the argument that Banana’s conviction disqualifies him
for hero status.
Born in 1936 in Esigodini, Banana did his primary education at
Mzinyatini Mission before moving to Tengwani High School for secondary
education. He also trained as a teacher at the same institution.
He is survived by four children and wife Janet with whom he separated
Banned skin lighteners resurface
By John Makura
• It’s back to’Fanta’ faces and “Coca Cola’ legs A GROWING number of
Zimbabweans are now using skin lightening creams, some of which which were
banned soon after independence in 1989, a Standard investigation has
In the 1970s, black women with “Fanta” (light) faces and “Coca Cola”
(dark legs) – as they were called then – were a common feature in the then
Although some men also used the skin lighteners, it was the women,
believing having a lighter skin made them more attractive, who mainly
applied the imported creams.
A survey has revealed that skin lightening creams are definitely big
business in Zimbabwe at present.
The Standard found that almost all beauty clinics in the country are
selling these creams and say their clientele base is growing.
But the quest for beauty carries a heavy price. Many of the most
popular creams contain hydroquinone, which can cause irreversible skin
damage and even lead to skin cancer, say experts.
Some creams also contain the potentially lethal mercury, banned in
cosmetics sold in Zimbabwe soon after independence in 1980.
Before independence, the most popular skin lighting cream favoured by
many blacks was called “Ambi”. These days there are hundreds others, some
imported from West African countries such as Nigeria.
Some of the most popular creams are also from the Democratic Republic
of the Congo (DRC) where both men and women have taken up the craze.
“As long as there is a market, we will sell these products. The
majority of our customers want to be attractive and light skin is attractive
to them,” said one beauty clinic owner in Harare who refused to be named.
It is understood some of the skin lightening products come in
injectable form to achieve an even result all over the body. This type is
said to be popular with most Congolese rhumba musicians who are easily
identifiable by their puffy orange complexions.
Manufacturers of skin creams in Zimbabwe whom The Standard spoke to
say the harmful creams are being imported and most of them come from as far
as the United Kingdom.
They said the local products, although they can lighten one’s skin, do
not contain harmful ingredients. Many of the more harmful imported products
continue to sell because people want quick results.
“Are you familiar with the 50-50 concept: someone who has one black
parent and one white?” asked one beauty therapist.
“When a girl like that walks into a bar all men look at her. So other
girls will do anything to be like her. The answer is skin lightening
creams,” she said.
That is a risky way to win admiration.
In the United States and throughout Europe, hydroquinone is available
only by prescription.
In small contractions, the bleaching agent poses few problems and is
often used by skin specialists to treat various skin conditions. But
prolonged use stops the reproduction of a natural pigment that protects the
skin from heat and other natural elements.
Black beauticians however say the theory of light skins being more
beautiful date back to pre-colonial times, but the craze however worsened
during the colonial era when darker skinned people felt inferior and looked
Besides the light skins being associated with enhanced beauty and
being easily appreciated, some crafty Zimbabweans planning to settle in
South Africa have added another dimension to the jigsaw puzzle. They say
they want their skins to be lighter in order to avoid easy detection by
authorities since nationals of those countries are naturally light skinned.
They also point out that many modelling agencies still shun African
shapes and prefer Western concepts of beauty such as slim hips.
Add the influence of advertising and television — the State-owned ZBC
excluded — the result is: many Zimbabweans and other Africans suddenly feel
it is better to be fair skinned.
“I know all those things about skin cancers and so forth but it doesn’
t matter how I will look three, four or donkey years to come. What matters
is how great I look today!” said Theresa, a striking young Zimbabwean woman
The Standard caught up with recently at one beauty saloon.
To satisfy the growing desire to have a light skin is surprisingly
easy, as we witnessed. For those with shallow pockets, several creams are
available in flea markets and the many cosmetic shops that have mushroomed
There are various other products which boast of “extra strength” and
can originate from “London, Paris and New York”, as per their labels.
“If you buy for your girlfriend she will look like her,” a vendor at
one flea market in Harare told this reporter pointing at a photo of a
beautiful woman on the cover of one of the creams.
So while there are adages such as “beauty is skin deep” that might
comfort some dark skinned Zimbabwean women, the rest — and most of them very
young — have decided to throw caution to wind and are using the banned skin
Zim universities lose academic lustre
By Caiphas Chimhete
THE quality of education offered at Zimbabwe’s universities is fast
deteriorating as the institutions, several mushrooming in recent years,
struggle for sustenance on paltry financial and material resources under an
increasingly inhospitable economic environment.
Academics and lecturers last week said that the high esteem in which
Zimbabwe’s universities were once held is fast floundering as the
institutions can no longer afford the resources needed to produce “real
They said due to the lack of resources, some of the universities were
churning out “half-baked graduates” who cannot easily fit into the job
The University of Zimbabwe, the country’s oldest institution of higher
learning, was once revered globally but this high regard is fast fading as
lecturers flock away to greener pastures. The pathetic situation at the UZ
in Harare is replicated at other universities throughout the country.
Over the past few years, the government has promoted the establishment
of both public and private universities to cater for the increasing number
of secondary school graduates and other people that need tertiary education.
But government’s encouragement has not corresponded with the injection
of resources to the new universities or maintaining the existing ones in
Among the recently established State and private universities are the
National University of Science and Technology (Nust) based in Bulawayo,
Selous University, Midlands State University in Gweru, Great Zimbabwe in
Masvingo, Catholic University in Hatfield, Harare and Africa University in
Former University of Zimbabwe pro-vice chancellor, Professor Gordon
Chavunduka, said the standard of university education had significantly gone
down, a situation that was exacerbated by the worsening political and
“The standards have drastically gone down due to lack of funding from
government, and the fact that donors have also withdrawn funding citing
gross human rights abuses by Mugabe’s regime,” said Chavunduka, who headed
the UZ between 1992 and 1996.
The Bretton Woods institutions – the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
and the World Bank – together with a number of Western countries, have
slapped Mugabe’s government with sanctions for gross human rights
UZ mathematics lecturer Professor Heneri Dzinotyiwei agrees that the
standards at local universities are continually falling. Dzinotyiwei, who
has been teaching at the UZ since 1980, said the current state of affairs at
local universities was “very worrying”.
“Staff wise it is disastrous and in terms of resources it is worse –
we now have lecturers who are less qualified and who need some more years to
become real lecturers.
“It’s no longer surprising to get a graduate who cannot put together a
coherent argument, let alone communicate fluently in English,” he said.
A senior Africa University lecturer, who requested anonymity, said the
falling standards at universities, compromised the country’s ability to
“If we have semi-literate graduates how could we compete in a
globalised world? The world is now a global village so we have to move with
the times,” he said.
Dzinotyiwei believes the quality of education in universities began to
fall soon after independence, when the government promoted mass education
without corresponding financial and material resources.
He said the colonial government focused on the minority whites and
very few exceptionally gifted blacks. Because the students were few, the
government had enough financial and material resources to adequately cater
However, after independence, the UZ was flooded with students but the
government could not provide corresponding resources. This led to the
deterioration and the straining of the available resources originally meant
to cater for a few whites.
“It was a racial setting which was meant for a small ruling elite and
a few blacks that happened to be enrolled were exceptionally good. But now
because of mass enrolment without corresponding resource allocation, rooms
that were meant for a single student now accommodate three or four,” noted
That apart, the students, through sheer poverty, have converted the
dimly-lit and crowded rooms into “little kitchens” because their annual
grants have become a “mockery” under the current high inflationary
Dzinotyiwei castigated the government for allowing the mushrooming of
universities without giving them the necessary support to produce graduates
“Those who are pushing for new universities have no gasp whatsoever of
the standards and what’s needed – establishing them without giving them
support is actually destructive,” noted the UZ lecturer.
With the economic downturn worsening, more experienced lecturers are
leaving the country en masse in search of greener pastures in such countries
as Botswana, South Africa and in Europe.
Currently, the UZ has only about 500 lecturers but under normal
circumstances, it should have a complement of 1 200. That apart, the
lecturers at most local universities now spend the better part of their
teaching time on strike demanding better working conditions and salaries.
Presently, lecturers at the UZ are on strike over salaries, a
situation that consumes the students’ precious learning time.
Said Chavunduka, who is also the head of the Mass Public Opinion
Institute: “The other universities are equally affected because they cannot
afford qualified staff. I know for sure the Catholic University is facing
serious financial problems.”
As a direct result of the shortage of lecturers and equipment,
universities stopped or drastically cut student enrolment for such faculties
as medicine, electrical engineering, quantity surveying, law and geology.
The faculty of medicine scaled down its intake by about 50 percent.
“The crisis of lecturers affects the sciences most than humanities.
However, the faculty of law and psychology are in problems because they are
depending on part-time lecturers, who as usual, cannot be depended upon,”
Students that are pursuing disciplines that require them to carry out
practical lessons at most of the universities have not been doing so because
of lack of funds and other resources.
“For example, we were supposed to do nine practical lessons in the
second semester but we never did any,” one student studying animal health at
the UZ told The Standard recently.
For the past few years, the handling of examinations at the UZ has
been largely flawed. For instance, just recently some students got good
passing marks for subjects they did not sit for or failed to get results for
subjects they wrote.
The dilapidated state of UZ’s halls of residence and the lack of
lighting in the corridors bear stark testimony of the neglect by the
authorities. But the university’s acting director of information and
publicity, Daniel Chihombori blames the students for the current state of
“They cause extensive damage during demonstrations, and the next
morning they start complaining,” said Chihombori, adding that renovations
For the other universities, the buildings are still intact because
they were built recently.
The introduction of distance education through the Zimbabwe Open
University (ZOU) has not helped much in consolidating the genre of education
that is associated with universities.
Analysts said the programme had helped increase the number of
graduates in the country, as happened in Nigeria, without really imparting
them with the necessary academic skills.
But Dzinotyiwei, gave another perspective: “It is very tricky to
assess graduates from open universities. It was going to be easy if it was
Unisa (University of South Africa) which has been in existence for some
With the economic and political situation showing no signs of
improving, it is difficult to imagine Zimbabwe’s universities regaining
their lost academic excellence.
Chavunduka said the solution was to address the political crisis that
has bedevilled the country for the past few years.
“If stability returns, then funding will also flow again and
everything will return to normalcy,” said Chavunduka.
Laughing and whingeing, Zim style
By Henry Makiwa
THE wave of roaring mirth sweeps from one end of the bus to the other.
This is all very odd because, far from being an occasion for merriment, the
South Africa-bound Tenda bus has just broken down barely out of Harare and
at least one hundred plus travellers are stranded with little prospect of
reaching their destination in expected time.
There is a reason for the feigned hilarity though. Passengers indulge
in petty social commentary to cover up their anxieties and while away the
time. The discussions switch from one mundane subject to another and as the
passengers warm up to each other, they gravitate to the more sensitive
The more vocal of the passengers lash out at the government for the
crippling economic crisis that has made life unbearable for many Zimbabweans
over the past four years.
One man boldly accuses President Robert Mugabe of being the cause of
his miseries and the country’s ongoing crisis.
“When will the old man (Mugabe) go?” the man asks no one in particular
and adds: “Come to think of it, this bus would not have broken down if he
had not plunged us into this mess ... we would have the much needed foreign
currency to buy spare parts,” he says, to much laughter.
But the subject that captures more interest is the supposed behaviour
of Zimbabwean women who are involved in cross-border trading with South
One man in his late forties charges that the women have become
“southern Africa’s notorious agents of HIV/Aids”, alleging that most of them
sleep with truck drivers while in transit.
Offended by this unprovoked attack on cross-border women traders, a
woman passenger hits back accusing the men “of his generation” of courting
South Africa, because of its status as the strongest economy in
southern Africa, has become the melting pot of all sub-Saharan peoples who
gravitate towards it to seek jobs and a better standard of living.
For many Zimbabwean women traders, South Africa is the land of great
opportunities and pleasures.
The women, who now form a very powerful economic group, leave their
families each week, to sell various locally-produced commodities in South
They deliberately dress in long frocks and use the buses or haulage
trucks that ply the Harare-Johannesburg route.
According to Anne-Maria Nhepure (33), a housewife-cum-trader, on the
journey down south, the women rarely have time to rest or eat well.
Their ultimate goal is to amass as much of the rand, the South African
currency, as possible to bring home high value household goods and lead a
Nhepure says: “Most of us can never cheat on our husbands ... look at
how we dress. What man would be attracted to us?”
Truck driver Noel Makoni however tells The Standard a different story.
“Don’t be fooled … most of these women are of rotten morals,” he says.
“They flag down our trucks hoping to get free transport all the way to South
Africa, Botswana, Malawi or wherever we will be going.”
Says Makoni: “I feel pity for their spouses because they will be
ashamed if they will see how their wives behave around us.”
Makoni however evades the question when asked if he has ever indulged
in casual sex himself with the women traders he carries on his truck.
A report on HIV/Aids prevalence rates along trade routes in southern
Africa says the disease is most rampant at border towns.
Among the worrying statistics in the study entitled Corridors of Hope
in Southern Africa, are projections that at Zimbabwe’s northern border town
of Chirundu, most “workers” are in the commercial sex industry.
At Musina, the town that borders South Africa with Zimbabwe, the
HIV/Aids prevalence rate is between 20 and 59%, a figure which is
significantly higher than the 11,5 % rate that characterises the rest of
South Africa’s northern Limpopo province.
Just across the river, in Zimbabwe’s Beitbridge town, the rates are
between 46 and 59%. This is far above Zimbabwe’s official Aids infection
rate of 24,6 % of its sexually active population.
Tendayi Kureya, an information services official at the Southern
Africa HIV/Aids Information Dissemination Services (SafAids), attributes the
high HIV/Aids prevalence rates to the long distance trafficking business.
“We have noted that this is because truck drivers tend to spend so
many days away from their families and homes and end up engaging in
commercial sex activities,” says Kureya.
Academic fraud rampant at UZ
disillusioned I was soon after I finally secured a place at the
highest institution of learning in the land.
Throughout my whole life I had dreamt and had made it my ambition to
study at the university. I allowed nothing to deter me. I was to be a
graduate. I was to acquire knowledge from the “universe”, the centre of
universal knowledge and wisdom.
Nothing however had prepared me for the reality I was to find at this
supposed citadel of higher learning.
It is not my intention to dwell on the deplorable conditions at the
institution but to focus on the academic fraud that is not only rampant at
the institution but which also appears to be condoned by the authorities.
I will cite examples of such cases that reveal not only the lack of
but actually the subversion of educational principles of learning that are
Firstly, in the Arts Department, we have the same old curriculum that
dates back to several decades. The same texts or literature books are still
being studied, and the same old assessment questions are assigned to
graduates year in year out. What does this promote – only miseducation!
Undergraduates will simply ask for “borrow or buy” a file from previous year
That file secured means that the holder can sit back and relax. It
will now be a matter of reproducing, rehashing or is it cannibalising the
work done already (the technical term for this is plagiarism).
The same scenario is duplicated or replicated in the Education
Department. Here students (dub) assignments’ notes from their colleagues.
Assignments are rotated. One look at the past examination papers is enough
preparation. The questions are altogether very predictable.
It is no surprise therefore that quite a number of our students do not
bother to attend lectures. They only have to attend the “compulsory
seminars” where some sort of attendance register is compiled.
Having been “fed” or presented with recycled material, the graduates
leave the campus armed with certificates, diplomas and even degrees which
are no testimony to their training, skills or competence.
One can be tempted to stick out his neck and say these are no more
than just “paper qualifications”.
What happened to the carbon tax?
years ago the government introduced a carbon tax, which all
vehicle owners in Zimbabwe are paying, adding to the high costs of fuels.
The carbon tax was introduced so as a mechanism to help reduce carbon
dioxide emissions and hence help reduce global warming. In principle, such
carbon tax should be used to address issues directly related to reduction of
carbon dioxide emissions from vehicles. In that sense it should be an
What is disturbing is that while pollution from vehicles continues to
escalate in our cities, contributing to our people dying from respiratory
diseases arising from breathing vehicle smoke mildly diluted with fresh air
in our cities, there is nothing on the ground to show that the carbon tax
has been used to help reduce air pollution from vehicles.
This is especially so with the wreckage that our economy has become.
When fuels and spare parts are in short supply the quality of smoke from
vehicles worsens and its becomes much more dangerous.
At this rate, even if the new environmental law is put in place, the
government will use environmental laws to raise funds for pocket money
instead of addressing the environmental problems in the interests of the
health of the people.
Gono’s appointment: Yet another mirage
Sundaytalk with Pius Wakatama
THE appointment of Gideon Gono to the helm of the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe has again raised the hopes of naive gullible Zimbabweans who are
desperately yearning for an end to our seemingly unending economic woes. He
is being touted by the government media as the “man of the moment” who is
going to perform miracles to take the country out of its economic misery.
Some of us are not that naive. We see the appointment of Gono as just
another political gimmick by our cunning President to buy himself time. As
sure as today is Sunday, Gono is going to fail like his predecessors — Kombo
Moyana and Leonard Tsumba. His appointment is yet another mirage.
Don’t get me wrong, I have the greatest respect for all these former
governors of the Reserve Bank. They were all professionals but the political
environment never gave them a chance to do what had to be done. They,
therefore, failed in that sense.
I also have the greatest respect for Dr Gideon Gono’s business acumen.
He is a self-made entrepreneur who has proved his mettle under very
difficult conditions. I totally agree with business leaders who say that his
appointment is well merited and deserved.
However, I am rather sceptical about what he will be able to achieve
under the present political leadership. I don’t at all agree with the chief
executive of the Merchant Bank of Central Africa, David Hatendi who in The
Sunday Mail of November 8, 2003, enthused: “Dr Gono’s appointment is a
breath of fresh air and should spell a new era at the RBZ.”
I for one will not join the list of those congratulating Gono. In
fact, I sincerely commiserate with him even though he, at present, does not
seem to be aware of the misery awaiting him around the corner – if he is
going to try to bring in a new era, that is.
Apart from blaming everybody but themselves for our economic woes, our
president and his loyal lieutenants are adept at raising the hopes of
Zimbabweans over and over again by appointing commissions and task forces to
solve this problem and that by appointing well qualified people to solve
this and that problem. Unfortunately, the “saviours” who are appointed amid
loyal media fanfare are never given free reign to do what they know best.
They are stifled by politicians (the president being chief among them)
who have their own agenda which does not include solving the economic
problems the country is facing.
We all remember the excitement following the appointment of “Young
Turks” into the “Cabinet of technocrats.” What did they achieve? Nothing.
Some of them joined the gravy train. Simba Makoni tried to solve the real
problems and was promptly fired. Nkosana Moyo took the gap in frustration.
At the Reserve Bank, Leonard Tsumba took the “Scapegoat of the year,” award.
I will keep quiet about the “war Cabinet”. We all know what it
Zimbabwe may be starved of foreign currency and food but it is
well-endowed with highly educated and professional leaders capable of
solving our economic problems and leading us into the promised land.
Our problem is that our leaders in various sectors are effectively
muzzled by the political monolith (or should I say monster) which is Zanu PF
and its glib leader, President Robert Mugabe. He uses all manner of
gimmickry to cling on to power and is not averse to the use of force to
maintain the same.
It does not take a man like Gideon Gono to solve our economic
The solution is there for all to see and has often been repeated on
these pages by those who are not afraid to tell the truth. The real issues
are the exchange rate, tourism, price controls and mending our relationships
with the international community through democratic elections, respect for
human rights and good governance. This coupled with sound market-oriented
economic policies is the real answer to our problems.
Gono’s appointment as the Governor of The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
maybe a breath of fresh air but as long as these real fundamentals are not
dealt with head-on, all his prescriptions will amount to nothing but hot
air. If he insists on tackling the real issues I can bet you he will find
himself on the rubbish heap like his predecessors.
The very same media and Zanu PF moguls who are singing his praises
today will shamefully turn round and call him “a reactionary tool of
imperialists.” Just wait and see!
Whatever Gono will prescribe to bring foreign currency into the
banking system will not work. It will continue to be traded on the black
market with the banks watching with salivating months. I laughed, albeit
mirthlessly, as I read about the Zimbabwe Republic Police swooping at Harare
’s Roadport and beating up and arresting hundreds of foreign currency
The only thing I enjoyed about the exercise is that the majority of
the money changers being so harassed are members of the Apostolic Faith who
are ardent Zanu PF supporters. I am sure we will now miss these white sobbed
“holy people” at future Zanu PF “national” functions and rallies. Well and
No amount of police action, no matter how brutal, will stamp out the
black market in foreign currency as long as the official bank rate of
exchange for a $US is Z$840 (the black market rate which is the real rate is
Z$6 000.) At this rate only an idiot will take his precious foreign currency
to the bank. Zimbabweans are not stupid.
Police action will, therefore, not stamp out the black market to bring
foreign currency flowing into the banks. It will only serve to drive the
illicit trade deeper underground with the criminal activities which are the
usual by-product of underground activities getting into top gear.
If he is going to be serious, Gono should face the issue of the
exchange rate and prescribe that market forces take charge. Any other
prescription will be like putting a band-aid on a gangrenous limb. Soon the
whole body will rot and the patient will die.
As it is, Zimbabwe is rotting and in a coma. Only major surgery can
revive it. As my fellow Mbare home-boy, Arthur “Fruga” Nhari often says:
“Zimbabwe yaora.” (Zimbabwe is now rotten to the core). Coming from him,
this means a lot for he is a former staunch ruling party supporter and
In previous contributions, I have written on the issue of price
controls and those with ears to hear heard. If the spirit so moves, I will
try to discuss the issue of tourism next week.
He who has ears to hear, let him hear.
London rebels and ‘gay gangsters’
Shavings from The Woodpecker
Lonely man THE death in the UK of former Zimbabwean president Canaan
Banana has once again exposed the double standards employed by the ruling
elite in Zanu PF.
Banana, who in his last days was a near recluse because of the
treatment he suffered from his former close friends and colleagues in Zanu
PF after the Japhet Dube affair – President Robert Mugabe included – died a
bitter and lonely man.
When he fell ill about a year ago, it was up to his sons and other
close relatives who in the end had to hasten his departure from Zimbabwe,
where the hospitals themselves are in the intensive care unit and the
doctors on strike over low pay, so that he could seek proper treatment in
South Africa and the United Kingdom.
But as usual, it was soon “wafa wanaka” and the State media who took
their cue from Mugabe and suddenly bombarded Zimbabweans with tearjerker
eulogies that extolled the virtues of the former Methodist minister who
became independent Zimbabwe’s first president.
We were now told how Banana was actually the brains behind the 1987
Unity Accord between Zanu PF and Zapu.
We were once more reminded of Banana’s selfless dedication to peace in
Africa: his missions as one of the then OAU’s “eminent persons” that
brokered peace in war-torn Liberia.
We were even told that the soft-spoken man of the cloth had at one
time tried to broker peace between — of all countries — North and South
Such noble deeds, were of course, rarely mentioned by the same media
when fame and fortune deserted the former head of state.
THAT Banana’s death in UK was a tremendous embarrassment to Uncle Bob
and the lying Herald newspaper is there for all to see.
The Herald, which has lied to Zimbabweans without compunction in the
past, reported that the former president had died in Harare while in fact he
passed away in London at Charing Cross Hospital.
Even Uncle Bob was taken up by the whole charade, thanking doctors and
nurses who had looked after the former president, presumably in Harare,
while in actual fact it was British doctors and nurses – and perhaps
Zimbabwean medical personnel in London – who had looked after Banana in his
The irony of it all though, is that despite telling the whole world
that Banana had died at a local hospital, The Herald and ZTV did not even
issue statements to say they had initially got it all wrong.
That only confirms how standards have deteriorated under Moyo-Manheru’
Down and out in US
STILL on the issue of bumbling State sycophants, were those two
musketeers thrown out of the US after all?
Although it was difficult to get independent confirmation, the
grapevine says Puff Diddy and his fellow renowned bootlicker, Munyaradzi
Huni – Moyo-Manheru’s two stooges whom Woodpecker exposed falling over each
other to get to the “hated” US – were thrown out of that country after it
was realised who they exactly were.
Sources say there was pandemonium within the diplomatic community when
it dawned on authorities that P. Diddy and his sidekick, some of the most
vocal supporters of Uncle Bob, had evaded the travel bans on all those close
to the ruling party leader.
They were soon bundled out of the US after it was realised that their
presence at some dubious conference did more harm than good, say impeccable
It is said that both gentlemen sheepishly declined to comment on their
US trip when inquisitive colleagues at Herald House tried to find why they
had returned earlier than planned.
Uncle Bob must be feeling very happy with himself that his statement
that “Tony Blair and his gay gangsters” were out to make him jobless,
following the emergence in the UK of a ragtag army of so-called Zimbabwean
army deserters planning a military coup.
Why the so-called Zimbabwe Freedom Movement chose Peter Tatchell of
all people to front their launch in London is anybody’s guess.
What is clear though is that by appointing Tatchell, an
internationally known gay rights’ activist who is extremely hated by Mugabe
and Zanu PF, the so-called army dissidents have, in that act alone,
dismissed themselves as serious political players in the events unfolding in
Woodpecker is convinced, and so are many others who phoned, that
nobody in Zimbabwe really takes Tatchell seriously, especially when it
involves overthrowing a powerful military machine such as the one Zanu PF
My brother’s keeper
Events unfolding in Uganda is that Yoweri Museveni’s Cabinet has paved
the way for senior figures, including his brother, to be tried for
corruption and wasting state resources.
The officials are accused of wasting millions of dollars buying two
unusable second-hand helicopters from Belarus. Lieutenant General Salim
Saleh, Museveni’s brother, now faces a court martial in a military court.
According to reports, the helicopters cost Uganda close to US$13
million but were of such poor quality that they could not fly.
Talk of being sold a dummy!
‘Regime change’ no, genuine transition yes
IN the light of recent developments including the emergence
shadowy organisation calling itself the Zimbabwe Freedom Movement whose
reported aim is to topple the government, and the flurry of diplomatic
activity ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in
Abuja, Nigeria, it is important to restate once again, the case for
Yes, Zimbabwe is a country in distress. For the people of this country
it is hell on earth. Things have really fallen part. It is not worth living
any more. The dead are in fact better off than the living.
More than 90% of Zimbabweans have been reduced to abject poverty
literally scavenging to keep body and soul together. They are surviving by
the grace of God. A once thriving economy is in terminal mode.
President Mugabe and his ruling Zanu PF party are living in denial of
the consequences of their greed, power, arrogance, political egotism and
bravado. How a man who was once revered as a genuine revolutionary can run
down his country like this is mind-boggling.
And yet in the midst of all this, talk of ‘regime change’ is anathema
and abhorrent to most Zimbabweans. Even in a situation in which the 2002
Presidential election was stolen in broad daylight. Why? Because the
consequences of a ‘regime change’ are too horrendous and too ghastly to
contemplate. The scope for potential disaster will be huge.
The stakes will be too high, the political terrain too complex and the
actors and interests far too many and interwoven for a simplistic notion
like replacing one leader and one regime with another to work. It is,
instead, to the idea of a negotiated transition and bargained outcome that
we must look to in Zimbabwe.
‘Regime change’ and a negotiated political settlement might have the
same result – the removal of a post-colonial despotic leader and
kleptocrat — President Mugabe — but the two differ in many crucial respects.
‘Regime change’ is based on the false assumption that simply replacing
one individual (President Robert Mugabe) with another (opposition leader
Morgan Tsvangirai) equates to democracy. Even if we accept that President
Mugabe is seen as the personification of all that has gone wrong in this
country, we are nevertheless not taken in by such an over-simplification of
History is replete with many examples where this is not the case. One
only needs to look next door at the Zambian case to see the serious
limitations of such an approach.
Negotiated political transition, in turn, places a lot of emphasis on
mutual outcomes and seeks to accommodate the positions of all sides. They
stress win-win, not zero-sum outcome. Most Zimbabweans have a vested
interest in the political stability of the country and that peace and
stability can never be brought about by ‘regime change’. More importantly, a
negotiated settlement seeks to spell out clear rules of the game by which
the participants in the transition are expected to live.
There are enough men and women of goodwill in the ruling party who are
committed to dialogue and a negotiated outcome and who want to see that
commitment followed by concrete action.
It is in the context of re-building a Zimbabwe free from civil strife
and instability that Presidents Mbeki and Obasanjo are striving for a
negotiated transition in this country — although of course nothing tangible
or concrete has been seen on the ground yet.
What is needed in Zimbabwe is a kind of soft landing and not a hard
and violent one. To most Zimbabweans, this is the only road of hope. They
understand that a negotiated political settlement will ensure that the
change when it arrives (and it is inevitable) will not arrive like a
destructive storm but a pleasant gust of refreshing wind. Fortunes in the
country can then be turned around in an atmosphere of peace and stability.
And it is our plea and hope that those non-African external powers who
are addressing and actively engaged in the issue of restoring democracy in
Zimbabwe such as Britain , Australia, Canada, US and the EU are guided only
be a desire to encourage a genuine transition rather than ‘regime change’.
There is no doubt that there is an important role for external forces
to encourage, persuade, apply pressure and even adopt some punitive
measures, but the intention must remain that of helping trigger a
well-planned restoration of democracy.
Indeed, the need for a carefully crafted changeover to a new political
and economic order that would be based on democratically decided rules which
would be able to sustain democracy well into the future cannot be
President Mugabe, for his part, must appreciate that human destiny is
a choice and that his selfish, arrogant and greedy quest for status based on
a permanent hold of power has had terrible consequences for Zimbabwe and its
people, the Southern African region and the entire world.
You might hate Morgan Tsvangirai with a passion, Mr President, but as
Zimbabweans you need to work out the grammar of co-existence with him. In
any event, Zimbabwe is much bigger than any individual including you Mr
Mugabe. You do not normally negotiate with your friend, you negotiate with
your ‘enemy’. It is just that simple!
And please take advantage of people who are trying to assist and
facilitate the process. Stop blaming outside forces. Nobody owes Zimbabweans
a living. You now have a very narrow window of opportunity at least to begin
to stem the tide.
As you are now in the sunset of your life, please Mr President,
negotiate your exit and give other people a chance to make mistakes as
well — minus of course the Jonathan Moyos, the Mades, the Chinamasas and
Chombos of this world.
From The Financial Mail (SA), 14 November
Bill Saidi's penchant for annoying leaders
By Abdul Milazi
Veteran journalist was
hounded by Ian Smith and now Mugabe
Author and veteran Southern African journalist Bill Saidi should be enjoying
the fruits of the liberation he so fiercely fought for as a young reporter
on the African Daily News, Rhodesia's only black daily in the early 1960s.
But the bitter irony is that Saidi (66), editor of the Daily News on Sunday,
is being crucified by his first editor and mentor, Nathan Shamuyarira, now
Zimbabwe's information minister. A tinge of mischief lights up in Saidi's
eyes when he talks about African governments. He seems to have a penchant
for annoying leaders. He was sought by Rhodesia's Ian Smith on treason
charges for inciting black people against the government. While in exile, he
was fired from the Zambian Times on orders from President Kenneth Kaunda in
1975 for his "anti-establishment" reports. Recently, Saidi was detained
without trial for defying President Robert Mugabe's decree that all
journalists be licensed to practise their craft. Defiant as ever, Saidi says
aspects of the Access to Information & Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA)
violate the right to freedom of expression guaranteed in the constitution.
Licensing journalists is tantamount to censoring and controlling the flow of
information, he says, because Harare can withdraw at will the licences of
journalists judged to have published the "wrong" information.
On October 25, police raided the Daily News
offices and arrested him and 17
colleagues on charges of running a newspaper without a licence. The paper
had been shut down in September by armed police, leading it to challenge the
AIPPA in the supreme court. Saidi quotes Zimbabwe's constitution: "Except by
way of his consent or by way of parental discipline, no person shall be
hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, that is to say,
freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart ideas and information."
Further, he says, s ection 3 states that the constitution is the country's
supreme law and that "if any other law is inconsistent with this
constitution that other law shall, to the extent of the inconsistency, be
void". That was the basis on which his paper appealed to the supreme court
in September. "The court refused to hear our argument," he says. "It instead
ordered that we should comply. The next day the police shut down our
business and confiscated 127 of our computers, which are still at Chikurubi
Yet Saidi and holding company Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) CEO
Sam Nkomo were not about to give up. They applied for a licence from the
Media & Information Commission, which was rejected outright. "We appealed to
the administrative court on October 24. It ruled in our favour and allowed
us to publish while we waited for a licence, to be issued on November 13,"
says Saidi. The next day Saidi and his staff went back to work and printed
50 000 copies, which sold out in two hours. The police again shut down the
newspaper and arrested its employees, then all ANZ directors. But the battle
to get the Daily News back on the streets continues. "Our next step is to
file an application to the administrative court for its October 24 order be
enforced pending the appeal. This would allow us to publish while the appeal
process was proceeding." Though they have been released, the charges against
Saidi and the 17 journalists are still pending. "We are now expected to be
engaged in a protracted legal battle to get the paper back on the streets, "
forced into exile, in Zambia, in 1963, where he witnessed that
country's independence the next year. "In Zambia, Mugabe and the late Joshua
Nkomo visited often and gave us hope that Rhodesia would soon also be free.
We continued the fight from outside the country. When Ian Smith's government
took over, we were devastated," says Saidi. He returned to Zimbabwe at
independence in 1980 and joined The Herald as assistant editor. The new
Zimbabwe government bought the paper from the Argus group, now Independent
Newspapers. He then joined the Daily Gazette as editor, where he broke the
story of Mugabe's affair with his secretary, now his wife, and was fired as
a result. He joined the Daily News in 1998. Saidi says he doesn't
deliberately look for trouble, but trouble seems to follow him everywhere he
goes. "I saw a dead body for the first time when I was 10 and it traumatised
me. There was a general strike and the dead man had been killed by strikers
for supporting the system. That people could kill someone for not agreeing
with them unsettled me and I began to think a great deal. My mother told me
always to be my own man and to stand up for what I believed in. I guess that
made me a bit dogmatic about right and wrong," he says. Saidi's message is
that the situation in Zimbabwe should not be allowed to set the tone for