AS starvation stalks the country, the government has turned to the army in a
bid to revive an agricultural sector ruined by the chaotic and often violent
land reform programme.
This comes as a parliamentary portfolio committee slammed government for
poor planning in the agricultural sector.
High-level official sources said government would soon launch Operation
Taguta/Sisuthi to avert looming starvation. The operation - to be run by the
army, police, prisons, and intelligence service - was expected to kick off
on November 7 but is running behind schedule.
The initiative, a clear admission of failure by the government, will be
headed by Agriculture minister Joseph Made, widely blamed for misleading the
country on food stocks, while Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi will be his
deputy. Made said yesterday he was not aware of the programme, while
Sekeramayi was not reachable for comment.
Sources said the project was conceived at the Joint Operations Command
(JOC), which brings together the army, police, prisons and the intelligence
service, and has now been finalised.
Meetings have been held between the project promoters and officials from the
Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) and the Agricultural
Research and Extension Services (Arex).
The army, Arda and Arex are currently identifying farms to spearhead the
project. Farms which are under-utilised are the main targets. Sources said
the JOC would supervise the operation, which effectively militarises
agriculture and bears the hallmarks of Stalinist agricultural planning.
Central bank governor Gideon Gono said in May command agriculture was
"Command agriculture seeks to optimise output by requiring a minimum output
of food or export crops, and is central to agriculture as well as general
economic recovery," Gono said then.
This was in the face of evidence of spreading starvation which is no longer
just affecting vulnerable social groups, but also the army itself. Soldiers
have reportedly been sent on leave to save on food supplies, and some
barracks have been partially closed.
A report compiled by the parliamentary portfolio committee on lands, land
reform and resettlement, which recently assessed the level of preparedness
for the 2005/6 agriculture season, said government had failed to raise the
needed $15 trillion to fund the command agriculture project.
It said the Agriculture ministry and Treasury lacked the capacity to
"bankroll the programme to the tune of $14,9 trillion due to other pressing
"Hence as late as September, Treasury had still not committed itself to
funding the programme."
Government had targeted farmers to produce 2,3 million tonnes of maize, 90
000 tonnes of tobacco, 49 500 tonnes of maize seed, 210 000 tonnes of
cotton, 750 000 tonnes of horticultural crops, and 8 250 tonnes of tea.
The report said these targets were not going to be met due to lack of money
and poor planning.
"This ambitious programme by government, though it looks noble on paper,
seems to be a still-birth," the parliamentary report said. "Agriculture
stakeholders including farmers unions expressed ignorance on the command
"Your committee failed to understand how government could formulate and
implement a programme of such magnitude without consulting key stakeholders
in the agricultural sector. The gap between government-set targets and the
available stocks of inputs points to a serious lack of proper planning by
government bureaucrats." - Staff Writers.
MOVEMENT for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai said yesterday
his party will resolve its infighting at its congress early next year.
He said the party would emerge stronger from the conflict which centres on
the senate election on November 26.
Tsvangirai said the congress, set for February month-end, would deal with
the ongoing strife and map a way forward. "Congress, which is coming in
February, will sort out this crisis. The issue of leadership renewal and
cohesion and the current situation will be resolved by the people,"
Tsvangirai said in an interview at his Strathaven home in Harare.
"The MDC will survive beyond this crisis. It's just a temporary setback. You
must understand the party is going through a process of self-renewal but it
will emerge stronger with or without the same leaders."
The MDC is fighting a war of attrition between camps led by Tsvangirai and
another by secretary-general Welshman Ncube over the pending senate
election. Tsvangirai's faction is pushing for a boycott of the poll, while
the Ncube group is campaigning for participation.
Tsvangirai said preparations for congress were going on well. He said if the
Ncube camp boycotted congress the event would go ahead regardless.
"Congress will go ahead. We are not going to be hamstrung by divisions over
senate. The people will elect a new leadership and that leadership will have
to move the party beyond this crisis," he said.
"We have to embark on a strategy of democratic resistance. The strategic
decision I took as party leader to boycott the senate election was precisely
designed to keep the party on track.
He conceded that the party leadership had lost the bigger picture of the
national crisis in the heat of differences over senate elections. He said he
had gone through similar situations in the past and hoped the MDC power
struggles would end soon.
"We are going through a period of turbulence and we have to survive this
situation because the real struggle still lies ahead. The regime has not
been defeated and this infighting gives it a breathing space," he said.
"All parties go through a period of turbulence, look at the ANC in South
Africa, Zanu PF, the ruling parties in Malawi and Kenya. They have internal
problems but the challenge is how to deal with such issues when they arise.
I think the MDC has adequate and strong mechanisms to deal with its own
Told that the MDC had failed to dislodge the incumbent regime in the past
and now appears even less able to do so, Tsvangirai said: "We know our
strengths, our weaknesses and our capacities."
He denied allegations of "willfully violating" the constitution, being a
dictator, a tribalist and running a mafia-style youth militia to attack
colleagues - all charges levelled in recent weeks by the opposing faction.
OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) deputy leader Gibson Sibanda
did not call for an independent state for the Ndebele-speaking people, party
spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi has said.
Nyathi said the story published in a local newspaper last week was not only
false but also a "reckless and dangerous propaganda attempt to use tribalism
as an instrument of political mobilisation".
"Not only is this allegation untrue, it also appears to be a deliberate
attempt by the newspaper to fan ethnic tensions in the MDC and the country
as a whole," Nyathi said.
"Zimbabweans do not want political leaders who play the ethnic card to
advance a parochial political agenda. Propaganda of this sort will take
Zimbabwe down the path of chaos, suffering and misery."
The Daily Mirror last Tuesday carried a story, headlined "Sibanda calls for
Ndebele state", claiming the MDC deputy leader had at a rally the previous
week said: "Ndebeles can only exercise sovereignty through creating their
state (like) Lesotho, which is an independent state in South Africa and it
is not politically wrong to have the state of Matabeleland inside Zimbabwe."
The MDC said the Daily Mirror story was a "careless and irresponsible
propaganda stunt premised on the flawed assumption that the majority of
Zimbabweans are gullible consumers of calculated but transparent lies".
A senior MDC official said there was no Mirror reporter at the MDC meeting
in Nkayi where Sibanda allegedly made the remarks.
"It was not a rally but a district meeting. There was certainly no
journalist there. The only strangers were police and CIO officers who
insisted on being present because the meeting had not been cleared by the
police," the official said.
"What happened was that an MDC district member asked a question about
problems in the party and power devolution. Sibanda answered saying there
was a need to resolve problems in the party. On devolution, he simply quoted
the MDC constitution and interpreted that in Ndebele."
The MDC official said Sibanda read out Article 3, Section 3.3 (b) of the MDC
constitution, which says: "The MDC shall seek the mandate of the people to
govern the country and work for an open democracy in which national
government is accountable to the people through the devolution of power and
decision-making to the provinces and local institutions and structures."
Another official said: "This is what Sibanda said and not those fabricated
remarks. I think the police or CIO officers at the meeting gave the story to
the Mirror. We have checked with the paper, the story was not written by any
of their journalists. It's fiction."
A column in the government-controlled Herald written by an anonymous author,
Nathaniel Manheru but often ascribed to presidential spokesman George
Charamba, seized on the opportunity to lecture the paper's readers on
Ndebele history, while effectively in denial about the existence of an
Ndebele society in Zimbabwe.
The Herald recently published a story claiming MDC official Victor Moyo had
said opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai would not be allowed in Bulawayo
because it was "Ndebele territory". Moyo has dismissed the assertion as a
fabrication. - Staff Writer.
THE Commercial Arbitration Centre will on Monday start hearings into the
suspension of the Zimbabwe Mirror Group of Newspapers CEO and
editor-in-chief Ibbo Mandaza.
Mandaza's lawyer Joseph Mandizha confirmed yesterday November 21 has been
set as the date of the start of the hearing expected to look into a number
"The hearing has been set for Monday next week at the Harare Club. It will
look into the propriety of Dr Mandaza's suspension and once you focus on
that it necessarily leads into whether those behind his suspension had the
power to do so and other related issues," Mandizha said.
The hearing will be chaired by former chief justice Anthony Gubbay. Gubbay
will be assisted by former Institute of Chartered Accountants president,
David Vincent, and chairman of the Institute of Directors of Zimbabwe, Much
The hearing follows High Court judge Bharat Patel's recommendation that a
panel, chaired by a retired judge, be set up to hear and determine the
"propriety" of Mandaza's suspension.
Mandaza was recently suspended from the Mirror by disputed group chair
Jonathan Kadzura and his deputy John Marangwanda in the wake of the
disclosures about the takeover of the Mirror titles, the Daily Mirror and
the Sunday Mirror, by the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) using
Kadzura and Marangwanda said Mandaza's suspension had followed a Ernst &
Young forensic audit report, but did not specify the nature of the report's
Mandaza and two Mirror board members, Ambassador Buzwani Mothobi and Amy
Tsanga, have dismissed suggestions of any wrongdoing on the part of the
suspended Mirror boss.
Mandizha said Gubbay would also look into the Mirror shareholding issue. The
CIO effectively controls 70% of the Mirror and Mandaza 30%.
Although the CIO has approved a proposal which says Mandaza's equity has
already been taken over by themselves, Mandaza contests he is still legally
a shareholder until such a time when all issues in dispute have been sorted
out. He also argues he is still the guarantor of all company loans and
Mandaza has proposed an evaluation of the company so that he can resell the
70% to the intelligence service and his own 30% to a consortium of local
tycoons waiting in the wings for the stake. However, the CIO want to have
Mandaza's 30% sold to their existing shelf companies which are shareholders.
CHITUNGWIZA mayor Misheck Shoko has accused Zanu PF man of plotting his
ouster from council to cover up their corruption. A loan of over $2,5
billion for sewerage upgrading was abused, he says.
In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, Shoko said the loan
was made available by the Reserve Bank in March to upgrade the collapsing
sewerage system in the St Mary's and Zengeza.
The money was handed over to the then MP for Zengeza Christopher Chigumba
but was not used for its intended purpose when he lost the March
Shoko said when he asked what the sewerage loan was used for, Local
Government minister Ignatious Chombo started accusing him of
maladministration and failure to provide services.
"The situation in Chitungwiza has become complicated because Zanu PF people
want to cover up their fraudulent activities by removing me from office,"
"Chigumba and other Zanu PF leaders abused the sewerage upgrading loan money
availed by RBZ. To clear myself, I have taken the case to the police.
"Last week, council officials including the acting town clerk were called
for questioning by the police and it is just a question of time before we
see them getting arrested."
Shoko said Chigumba was pushing for his ouster so that he could arm-twist
council into connecting water and sewerage to his housing cooperative.
"I turned down Chigumba's application to connect water and sewerage to his
Zano Remba housing cooperative because the construction was not approved by
the council from the outset," Shoko said.
"Now he is under pressure from people to complete the project."
Chigumba built more than 200 housing units in the Unit L area, popularly
known as Zano Remba Housing Cooperative.
Some of the houses that were built under the same initiative by the MP were
demolished in the urban slum clearance blitz launched by the government in
Shoko said the motive behind appointing a district administrator, Godfrey
Tanyanyiwa, was to frustrate him into leaving council.
"I am still in charge of council affairs," Shoko said. "The appointment of
the DA has nothing to do with council daily operations. He was brought in to
monitor our operations and facilitate where we have difficulties."
Shoko said the Chitungwiza problems had nothing to do with administration
but the national economic crisis and political interference from central
"Chitungwiza is one of the few local authorities with the capacity to deal
with sewerage and refuse collection problems but the main stumbling block is
the unavailability of fuel and spares to keep our fleet on the road.
"We have been paying for our fuel supplies but Zanu PF officials have been
blocking the deliveries to us. It's time to stop political mudslinging and
work with the reality."
Shoko dismissed claims by government that it has given $5 billion to
Chitungwiza saying that this was part of the debt they were owed.
Chitungwiza has been experiencing water shortages for the past two months
due to rationing by the Zimbabwe National Water Authority, while refuse is
piling up as a result of the current fuel crisis in the country.
GOVERNMENT has instructed the Attorney-General's office and the Chief
Magistrate's office to stop handling all pending land issues following the
gazetting of the Constitutional Amendment (No 17) Act.
Secretary for Justice, David Mangota, issued the directive on September 28.
But legal experts have said the directive is an example of government
interfering with the judiciary.
The instruction was given to Attorney-General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, Chief
Magistrate Herbert Mandeya and the senior administrative court president
In the circular issued to the trio, Mangota expressed concern why the courts
were still entertaining the land issues.
"The Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No 17) took away the courts'
jurisdiction of hearing matters which are related to the acquisition of land
by the state," Mangota said.
"The courts retained jurisdiction to hear and determine upon matters which
pertain to compensation for improvements only," he said.
"Reports which reach my office seem to suggest that some of your officers
are still entertaining cases on matters which relate to the acquisition of
land. I should, in my view of the foregoing, be grateful if you would kindly
issue minutes clarifying the position on this matter to your subordinates."
The amendment was passed in September. But it has yet to be legally tested.
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa said he was not aware of the directive
since Mangota had issued it.
"Talk to Mangota. He is the one who wrote that circular so he knows
Mangota could not be reached for comment.
The circular does not clarify how the issue of legal costs will be
Law Society of Zimbabwe president Joseph James differed with Mangota's
circular on matters relating to land, saying they could still be entertained
by the courts.
"I do not share his position," James said.
"Matters of jurisdiction are to be decided by the courts, and not outside
the courts. Just as it is right for one of the litigants to raise the issue
of lack of jurisdiction as a defence, it is equally the right of one of the
parties to advance his case, and explain why the recent amendment cannot bar
a court from hearing his case."
James said a party might argue that the land in question is not agricultural
"In any event, the constitutionality of Amendment No 17 is still to be
tested," he said.
"I assume that judicial officers will exercise their judicial discretion and
decide upon the issue of jurisdiction on a case by case basis."
WHOEVER coined the phrase "Land is the economy and the economy is the land"
had the genius of a lyricist to state the obvious but not enough of it to
foretell the damage that would unravel the economy because of government's
twisted agrarian policies.
"Agriculture is the mainstay of the economy and will anchor the country's
economic transformation," Economic Development minister, Rugare Gumbo, said
on Wednesday at a pre-budget consultative dialogue in Harare. "The 2006
national budget should therefore focus on increasing production."
But a series of policy shifts involving powerful bureaucrats have converged
to worsen agricultural problems for an already weakened economy, a
parliamentary portfolio committee report on the state of agriculture in
Stakeholders in the agricultural sector bemoan the steady decline in
agricultural production in the past five years due to a number of factors,
chief among them a severe shortage of foreign currency, fuel and
sub-economic producer prices.
The net effect of these constrictions to the sector, according to the
report, is that crop yields will be reduced considerably if something is not
Politicians have tended to apply gloss to the sector and even exaggerated
production figures to mask the reality of a failed land appropriation
For instance, while seed producers project a 20 000-tonne shortfall in seed
requirements which need to be imported at a cost of US$35 million, Ministry
of Agriculture officials claim there is enough seed to cater for the summer
"The information about the availability of inputs for the summer crop is
quite confusing," the parliamentary committee said.
"Such conflicting situations will have serious ramifications on planning and
production." Seed houses need foreign currency to import spares to refurbish
machinery and bolster capacity to meet demand. Their efforts to secure hard
currency on the auction floors have been unsuccessful.
That is not all.
Fertiliser companies have failed to secure foreign currency to import potash
and ammonia needed for production.
The report says companies complained that they had to scale down operations
at a critical time, considering the crucial role their product plays in
agriculture. One company had to close its plant in Msasa owing to failure to
secure foreign currency, while those operating had to resort to producing
non-potash fertiliser that compromises yields.
A proposed programme which entailed setting up production targets for
strategic crops has failed to attract takers.
In a bid to meet basic minimum production requirements, government came up
with an ambitious target-oriented model dubbed "Command Agriculture", where
each of the 10 provinces would select 200 farmers apiece to participate in
The farmers were expected to produce food security crops, livestock, and
industrial and export crops over a targeted 1,9 million hectares with a
projected production of 8,5 million tonnes of various crops at an estimated
cost of $14, 7 trillion.
Treasury could not bankroll the project, while farmers and other
stakeholders said they were ignorant of the Command Agriculture model,
neither were they consulted on the issue.
"The gap between government-set targets and the available stock of inputs
points to a serious lack of planning by government bureaucrats," the report
More importantly, a total of 33 firms, or about a fifth of Zimbabwe's export
companies, have closed shop during the first six months of the year due to
the economic crisis and land seizures, according to a government agency.
Of these, 12 agricultural firms stopped operating after their farms were
acquired by the government under the land reform programme, the Export
Processing Zone Authority of Zimbabwe said in a recent report.
"Twelve companies stopped operations after the farms they were operating on
were taken for redistribution. An additional 12 companies have closed shop
citing, among other things, unfavourable foreign exchange rate and loss of
international markets as Zimbabwe is considered a risk country to do
business with," said the report.
The company closures resulted in a loss of export revenue totalling about
$17,6 million, according to the report.
Close to 7 000 jobs were lost due to the closures in the export sector,
which employs 26 000 people.
AN ambitious plan by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to prop up declining
agricultural production by doling out billions of dollars for the sector has
backfired, forcing the central bank to garnish the Ministry of Agriculture
to recover the funds.
The RBZ has garnished the ministry for funds advanced to government to
finance an agricultural input programme at the launch of the land reform
five years ago.
In the past four years government has poured nearly $118 billion into
agriculture to boost production.
The central bank splashed out billions of additional dollars in a vain
effort to ensure its widely-condemned land appropriation programme was a
Ministry of Agriculture officials informed a parliamentary portfolio
committee on agricultural preparedness a fortnight ago that the action taken
by the central bank to foreclose on the loan funds had never been explained
at the onset of the programme.
Officials in the ministry told the committee that the agricultural input
programme was not explained to the farmers, most of whom mistook the credit
scheme for government largesse.
The committee said government needs to educate resettled farmers on the
input scheme and inculcate in them a culture of self-reliance.
Failure by the ministry to repay funds has forced RBZ to stop allocating
fresh funds for the 2005 agricultural season, at a time when there is a
severe shortage of fertilisers, seed and fuel to run tillage units.
The central bank has advised the ministry to raise money from the open
market where interest rates have soared to 300% due to inflationary
The committee said farmers were now reluctant to borrow from yet another
scheme, the Agricultural Sector Productivity Enhancement Facility citing
fears of sinking deeper into debt.
The RBZ initially charged 5% interest on loans under the scheme but reviewed
the rates to 20% midstream. - Staff Writer.
THE Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum has released a damning report on how
government failed to comply with the African Commission on Human and
Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) recommendations to stop widespread human rights
violations in the country.
The report coincides with the African Commission meeting in Banjul, Gambia,
next week, which is expected to discuss the human rights situation in
An ACHPR fact-finding mission which visited the country in June 2002
concluded that there was enough evidence of human rights violations in
Zimbabwe and that government could not wash its hands of responsibility for
all the incidents.
The mission, which was led by the vice-chairperson of the commission,
Jainaba Johm, recommended that Zimbabwe engages mediators to resume
dialogue, repeal inhibitive legislations, ensure independence of the
judiciary, avoid politicisation of the police and promote a climate
conducive to freedom of expression.
The ACHPR report was adopted by the African Commission in January this year.
The NGO Forum then undertook an audit of the recommendations to monitor
government's compliance. Its report, titled Facts and Fictions, exposes
unwillingness by government and its agencies to comply with the
recommendations, especially on national dialogue and reconciliation.
The report says it is manifestly evident that instead of attempting to
implement the recommendations of the fact finding mission of June 2002 in
order to create an environment conducive to freedom of expression in
Zimbabwe, the government has strengthened repressive laws and taken action
that has had exactly the opposite effect.
The report says even after publication of the ACHPR report, government has
failed to implement recommendations on the independence of the judiciary and
enforcement of court rulings.
"There have been five high-profile cases in which various arms of
government, including the executive, three ministries, a statutory body,
local authorities and the police, have failed to comply with court orders,"
the report says.
"This non-compliance reflects a continuing trend by government and state
institutions of failing to effect rulings by the judiciary, thus reinforcing
the perception of a continuing breakdown of the rule of law, failure to
respect the principle of separation of powers, and the impunity of state
The five cases include government's rejection of an Electoral Court ruling
nullifying the results of the nomination court for the Chimanimani
constituency in which the judge said the presiding officer had unlawfully
refused to accept the nomination papers for Roy Bennett. Elections for the
constituency were postponed pending fresh nominations, a move which was
denounced by President Mugabe.
"The president of Zimbabwe attacked the decision of the court at a public
briefing with provincial, government and party leaders at Gaza High School
in Chipinge, describing it as "absolute nonsense" and said it should be
The Forum says government has taken no steps to repeal or amend national
laws which are repressive.
"Aippa remains operational and continues to be implemented in a selective
manner to stifle the free dissemination of information and free speech
within Zimbabwe, especially through the private media," the report says.
The Constitutional Amendment (No 17) Act passed recently makes wide-ranging
intrusions into basic human rights guaranteed under the constitution of
Zimbabwe, as well as various international human rights instruments to which
Zimbabwe is a state party, it said.
The Forum report comes at a time when government faces a grilling at the
African Commission meeting in Gambia next week where civic organisations
will present a shadow human rights report exposing rampant and deliberate
rights violations perpetrated by government over the past five years.
Zimbabwe, which last presented a human rights report to the commission in
1996, decided to do so again nine years later, in a move civic groups
described as a desperate attempt to defuse mounting pressure and growing
isolation. The ACHPR requires governments to submit reports to the
The government report glosses over critical issues which plunged the country
into the current economic morass and fails to acknowledge the current
economic recession. It skates around virtually all the negative incidents
that the country went through, including the violence that accompanied the
land reform programme and all the three elections held over the past five
years. The government report is also silent on the widely-condemned
Operation Murambatsvina which left over 700 000 people homeless and without
sources of livelihood. Government mentions in passing Operation Garikai
without giving any background as to why it had to embark on the nationwide
housing construction programme.
The civil society audit exposes government's unwillingness to uphold its
primary responsibility to promote, protect and secure human rights.
It highlights numerous challenges that Zimbabwe has faced since the last
state report to the commission of 1996, including political and economic
instability since 2000, the involvement of state security agents in most of
the violent activities since the formation of the opposition MDC and the
banning of newspapers.
"Approximately 300 people have died as a result of political and
land-invasion related violence and rapes, assaults, kidnappings and torture
have occurred throughout the period," the report says.
The perpetrators of these crimes have been identified mainly as state agents
including the army, police and the central intelligence organisation as well
as ruling party militia and opposition party supporters.
PRESIDENT Mugabe was in the Tunisian capital, Tunis, this week to attend the
World Summit on Information Society (WSIS). It is one of those bland events
where leaders spend hours discussing ideals and not achievables. For our
dear leader, though, any platform to display political machismo is grabbed
with both hands.
Sometimes it is good to have President Mugabe at such talk- shops because
his animated speeches usually stand out - not necessarily for positive
reasons but mainly as a departure from the mostly banal interventions of
other world leaders who manage to stay awake.
This is the sort of summit where heads of state usually offer generic
contributions, all pointing to the fact that the great potential of Internet
technology should spread to the developing world. President Mugabe offers a
bit of fun and his salvos against unmissable targets Blair and Bush offer
useful insights which are sometimes lost in the adulation of fawning state
media and the Mugabe fan club in the third world.
I recall one such useful observation by President Mugabe at a plenary
session of the WSIS in Geneva, Switzerland, two years ago. Part of the
presidential address included this passage which I will quote unabridged:
'Long after we have talked about the need for information and communication
technologies as tools with which to contrive the information society, we are
soon to discover that receivers and computers are powered by electricity
which is unavailable in a typical third world village. Long after we have
talked about connectivity, we are soon to discover that most platforms for
electronic communication need basic telecommunication infrastructure which
does not exist in a typical African village.
"What is worse, we will discover, much to our dismay, that the poor villager
we wish to turn into a fitting citizen for our information society is in
many instances unable to read and write. Where we are lucky to find the
villager literate and numerate, we soon discover that he or she is not
looking for a computer terminal but for a morsel of food; an antibiotic to
save his dying child; a piece of land on which to eke out an existence; in
short, looking for a humane society that guarantees him food, health,
shelter and education.
"Zimbabwe's own ICT efforts have thus been directed at developing Zimbabwe's
society as a whole in areas of education, health where the HIV/Aids pandemic
remains a problem in both elementary and advanced skills development, as
indeed in building a high-level awareness of the people's basic rights."
This was well put. But it is important to also remind readers that a year
after President Mugabe made this all-important observation, he embarked on a
campaign trail for the 2005 general election during which he donated
hundreds of computers to rural schools which did not have books, chairs and
desks, let alone electricity and a telephone.
The children who were made to cheer the computer donations did not have
three square meals a day. As the president donated computers, there were no
drugs at rural clinics and ambulances were grounded due to a shortage of
either spare parts or fuel - sometimes both.
To use the wise words from the president, the child who sat for the whole
day in the sun waiting for his arrival was not looking for a computer
terminal but for morsels of food and for a "humane society that guarantees
him food, health, shelter and education". How cruel can the world be?
Children crying every morning for food get computers instead.
It is trite that the computer donation blitz was President Mugabe's pet
project. Remember this statement in March when he donated computers in
"It is a personal initiative that I embarked on and I have been assisted by
several well-wishers like Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono." That's humane?
Whatever the intention was, the nation is yet to reap the benefits of the
donations. We now hear press reports of the computers being stolen, that
there are no qualified teachers to train kids on how to use the machines and
there is no software to load onto the computers.
Meanwhile the rural kids are as hungry as ever and the digital divide
continues to widen. This is not surprising because the digital divide can
never be bridged through half-hearted measures like our mode of computer
donations. As for shelter, the destructive trail of Operation Murambatsvina
will be with us for a long time.
It is a truism that developing countries with the greatest Internet access
have high rates of literacy, education, political freedom and service-based
economies - as well as technology infrastructure. Zimbabwe is lacking
immensely on the latter three aspects.
This is the reason Zimbabwe cannot be called a mature democracy by the
simple act of setting up the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission or establishing
an upper house of parliament. This approach is simply orderly autocracy via
piecemeal institutional modification. We await the package from Tunis.
THE Zimbabwe cricket crisis has sucked in central bank governor Gideon Gono,
who has launched a probe into allegations of irregular foreign currency
dealings at Zimbabwe Cricket (ZC).
Gono last week summoned ZC chairman Peter Chingoka and managing director
Ozias Bvute to explain how the union has repatriated the foreign currency
earned from television rights as well as lucrative sponsorship deals.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's Financial Intelligence, Inspectorate and
Evaluation Unit raided ZC offices last Thursday and searched for hard cash
before picking up Chingoka and Bvute for questioning.
Chingoka yesterday said they were cooperating with the RBZ investigators.
"We have had some very constructive meetings with RBZ officials," Chingoka
said. "ZC will continue to cooperate fully with the RBZ officials as they
guide us in ensuring compliance with their requirements."
Although Chingoka could not shed light on the investigations, Gono
reportedly descended on ZC after disgruntled provincial chairmen compiled a
dossier suggesting shady financial transactions at the cricket body.
Bvute confirmed their discussions with the RBZ unit centred on the
allegations raised by the chairmen, but could not get into the details.
"We've not been arrested. We held a meeting to clarify issues and get
guidance from the exchange control authorities," Bvute said.
The RBZ yesterday also refused to discuss the probe but did not deny
summoning the ZC officials.
"It is not our practice as a central bank to disclose whether interactions
with Zimbabwe Cricket are of a consultative, investigative or of a social
nature," RBZ spokesman Kumbirai Nhongo told the Zimbabwe Independent.
"However, we wish to advise that apart from the supervision and surveillance
of banks, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has an arm that looks into the
economic behaviours of various players."
The provincial cricket chairmen in their dossier wanted to know how ZC was
repatriating its forex from offshore accounts. They also wanted to know
whether Chingoka had repatriated a £50 000 honorarium he was paid last year
"according to exchange control regulations".
The dossier also queried rumours that a female ZC employee had allegedly
disappeared with US$75 000, raising suspicions the union might have been
stashing hard cash at its offices in contravention of Zimbabwe's tough
exchange control regulations.
Chingoka dismissed the allegations as "financial mudslinging (that) appears
to be the final strategy in the anti-ZC destabilisation campaign". He
however said he was ready for an audit.
However, indications late yesterday were that ZC would once again fail to
convene a board meeting scheduled for tomorrow where Chingoka intended to
respond to the chairmen's concerns.
"We have not received favourable responses to our desire to hold a meeting
tomorrow," Bvute said. "We have not shied away from answering their
ONE of the biggest technological developments in satellite television in
recent years has come to Zimbabwe, and is poised to revolutionise the way
viewers enjoy their digital satellite television (DStv) experience.
As a first for Africa, the personal video recorder (PRV) has been launched
in Zimbabwe and other countries across the continent, offering a wide range
of additional services to DStv viewers and creating a hi-tech means of
enhancing television viewing. Also known as a digital dual-view video
recorder or digital personal video recorder, the new device replaces exiting
single-view and dual-view decoders and facilitates recording of television
programmes to a hard disk in digital format.
Said Multi-Choice Zimbabwe marketing manager, Kirsty Brien: "The PVR has
been internationally successful and has just been released to wide acclaim
in South Africa. Its release in Zimbabwe and the rest of Africa is likely to
be equally well-received by DStv viewers and will greatly enhance their
enjoyment of the DStv experience."
As with the dual view decoders, viewers will be able to watch two channels
simultaneously in two environments, but with PVR they will at the same time
be able to record from either of the two channels being watched or from a
third channel. The PVR also records up to 80 hours of programming to its
hard drive and enables viewers to pause live television and return to where
they left off when they restart. Instant replays will be possible, a superb
feature for sports programmes in particular while for recorded content
features include fast forward pause rewind and slow motion.
Using the electronic programme guide, viewers can set recording dates and
times in advance, which, for example, makes it possible to record a series
of programmes in sequence over a period of time. Bookmarks can be activated,
so that in a recorded programme viewers can later return to the same spot at
which viewing stopped or they an revisit a favoured part or sequence. Old
format VCRs are made redundant by the radial new smart technology and
user-friendliness of the PVR, which can record programmes to the exact
second of start and finish.
The PVR helps the television equipment 'to think', enabling viewers to gain
enormous benefits from having access to more than 50 TV channels on the DStv
bouquet," said Brien.
"The PVR will be sold in Zimbabwe by DAE Communications and through the
MultiChoice accredited installers network, with the essential back-up of
after-sales service from qualified and authorised technicians."
Brien added that the new PVR will be above $60 million.
The PVRs are based on the latest international technology and have been
developed by Multichoice Africa and its technical partner UEC of South
The PVR unit comes with a unique new multi-functional remote control device
that can also be used to control television sets and home theatre or music
systems. - Own Correspondent.
GOVERNMENT is contemplating an Empowerment Act that will make it mandatory
for companies that are either winding up their operations or merging to
ensure 50% of the shares go to indigenous entrepreneurs.
The Act will compel companies to give 50% of their tenders for services or
the supply of goods to indigenous companies. For instance, a mining company
will be required to buy 50% of its supplies from indigenous-owned companies.
The same will apply to out-sourced services such as security or auditing.
In a document titled Revised Policy Framework for Indigenisation of the
Economy, drawn up by the Department of Indigenisation and Empowerment, there
will be need to amend current legislation that impedes indigenisation
"The legislation should direct all companies and individuals to do business
with a minimum of 50% of indigenous entities in respect of service provided
and goods supplied," reads the document.
The Act will also make it mandatory for government to allocate a 50% stake
to indigenous groups when it commercialises or privatises state companies.
"Government itself should arrange to secure or procure 75% of its goods and
services from indigenous firms," it says. "For example, government should be
expected to deal with indigenous banks, engage indigenous accounting firms,
The policy document was signed by the late Minister of State for
Indigenisation and Empowerment, Josiah Tungamirai.
The document cites the Liquor Licensing Act, the Mines and Minerals Act,
Income Tax Act, Manpower Planning and Development Act, Urban Councils Act,
Shop Licences Act and the Banking Act among pieces of legislation that that
need to be re-examined to speed up black economic empowerment.
"When making adjustments to the above legislation, care should be exercised
to ensure continued competitiveness, productivity and therefore viability of
both the new and existing companies," says the document.
Zimbabwe has had numerous pressure groups since independence agitating for
the empowerment of previously disadvantaged Zimbabweans.
The Affirmative Action Group shot to prominence in the early 1990s led by
Phillip Chiyangwa to facilitate the entry of black Zimbabweans into the
Before that there was the Indigenous Business Development Centre, once led
by businessman Ben Mucheche.
There is also the Indigenous Business Women's Organisation (IBWO) led by
The common thread among all the groups was on the need for clear government
guidelines and a legal framework on how to achieve their objectives.
Analysts are already advising caution, fearing that the proposed empowerment
schemes would be done along political lines as happened with the current
land reform that has turned out to be a poisoned chalice for its authors.
"Although on paper it's a good suggestion, some people will be awarded
contracts on the basis of party affiliation as has happened in the past.
That is how Mutumwa Mawere purchased Shabanie Mashaba Mines through a
government guarantee," an analyst said.
"But now that his relations with government have soured his SMM is under
virtual government control. The partnerships only work for a certain period
of time to achieve a good political image."
The government is also proposing an Empowerment Charter to ensure
transparency in the award of the contracts to indigenous entrepreneurs.
The Charter will provide a framework for the empowerment of "historically
The Act seeks to assist indigenous entrepreneurs by offering economic
incentives like tax concessions to those companies which give contracts to
THE history of empowerment in Zimbabwe is littered with examples of failure.
Where they have sailed through, the empowerment deals have created elites
who became super-rich at the expense of the majority. These skewed policies
have served to confuse investors.
For example there is confusion in the mining sector as to how much should be
allocated to indigenous groups in mining ventures. While President Robert
Mugabe insists that local business people must be given 50% in mining
ventures, the Finance minister, Herbert Murerwa, is on record saying that
30% should be set aside for locals.
However, the National Investment Centre (NIC) has a 40% figure on its
website and pamphlets marketing Zimbabwe as an investment destination. Since
the government proposal, last year, that locals should hold at least a 15%
empowerment stake in all mining concerns, no indigenous consortium has
successfully acquired any stake.
Zimplats has offered a 15% empowerment stake to Nkululeko Rusununguko Mining
Company (NRMC), a local consortium which has however failed to pay for the
shareholding. Anglo American Corporation Zimbabwe (AmZim) is also offering a
15-20% empowerment stake in its billion-dollar Unki Platinum Project but the
company has not come up with an empowerment partner for more than a year
The land reform, which government cites as the hallmark of its economic
empowerment, has become a national disaster. Production has slumped to the
lowest levels. Before that United Merchant Bank headed by the late
empowerment guru Roger Boka collapsed due to serious financial
Locally-owned banks like Trust, Royal and Barbican have since been taken
over by government. Government is currently finalising the take-over of
Shabani Mashava Mine (SMM) which is owned by Mutumwa Mawere. - Staff Writer.
SWEDEN will next year increase its humanitarian assistance to Zimbabwe by
over US$2 million, but none of this aid will go towards government's housing
project Operation Garikai/ Hlalani Kuhle.
Operation Garikai is largely seen as a cosmetic project which President
Robert Mugabe undertook to cover up the destruction caused by the
widely-condemned Operation Murambatsvina which robbed over 700 000 people of
their shelters and sources of livelihood.
Göran Engstrand, Minister for Development Co-operation at the Embassy of
Sweden in Harare, revealed the aid package during a tour of the Swedish
International Development Agency (Sida)-funded child rights projects in
Murehwa last week.
Sida earlier this year approved 20 million Swedish kroner to fund
development projects in Zimbabwe.
"Admittedly, most of the allocation will be targeted at those affected by
the recent Operation Murambatsvina through NGOs and multilateral agencies,"
said Engstrand. We will also not lose sight of some of the ongoing work
benefiting over two million children throughout Zimbabwe.
"Consequently, some of the support will boost the support already received
by organisations dealing with child rights such as Sahrit, the Scripture
Union and the Farm Orphan Support Trust," he said.
Engstrand refuted recent claims by state media that "Sweden was also looking
at how best it would assist in Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle Phase Two
(housing programme) that government launched".
"This is not correct. The correct position is that we will continue working
with NGOs and other multilateral agencies to alleviate the plight of those
affected by Operation Murambatsvina," said Engstrand.
Sweden's humanitarian support is funnelled through multilateral agencies and
Last month Japan chipped in with a 150 million yen (US$1,3 million) aid
package for the purchase of 3 600 tonnes of maize to help Zimbabweans
affected by food shortages.
Sweden's refusal to support Operation Garikai comes on the back of United
Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan's criticism of President Mugabe for
rejecting international aid to help thousands of people facing starvation
The plight of the homeless is set to worsen with the onset of the rainy
season. The slum clearance exercise that began in May left many informal
settlers in the cold during winter.
Government is trapped in a Catch-22 situation as Operation Garikai struggles
to complete 200 000 housing units countrywide with few resources on the
ground. This seems to suggest it will fail to meet the December target it
BUSINESS leaders this week bared their teeth and snarled at government's
economic policy confusion at a pre-budget conference held on Wednesday.
For the first time, business leaders stopped their double-speak and
praise-singing to launch a scathing attack on government for destroying the
economy. Zimbabwe's business leaders are well known for singing praise to
the government in public while attacking its policies in private. Some chief
executives have complained to newspapers, especially the Independent, for
quoting them criticising the government and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
There is often a wave of fear among business leaders who ironically feel the
heat of the economic problems as they battle to keep their companies afloat.
But on Wednesday that prevarication was gone.
With rare but brutal frankness the business leaders took off their gloves
and lambasted the government at a pre-budget seminar organised by the
National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF.)
Former president of Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries Kumbirai Katsande
said Zimbabweans were their own worst enemies. "As we sit right here I do
not hear any senior government official condemning the farm invasions which
are taking place across the country. Maybe only with the exception of Gideon
"It's criminal when we do not do what we are supposed to do," Katsande said.
The meeting was attended by Economic Development minister Rugare Gumbo,
Finance minister Herbert Murerwa, two permanent secretaries, Andrew Bvumbe
and George Mlilo, and other senior government officials.
Deputy Finance minister David Chapfika also attended the meeting.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president Luxon Zembe said real
patriots should go beyond party politics.
He implored government to take decisive action on the visa requirements on
Zimbabweans by the South African government.
"A government messenger does not need a visa to go to South Africa, but Joe
Mtizwa, the chief executive officer of our very own conglomerate, would have
to go and queue for a visa at the South African embassy," Zembe said.
Zembe also questioned why government was afraid of liberalising the economy
and restoring international relations. "Truly patriotic people are not Zanu
PF or MDC but the question is whether Zanu PF people are patriotic as they
claim to be?"
Concerns were also raised over the sorry state of the agriculture sector at
a time when the RBZ had poured trillions of dollars into the sector. NECF
chairman Robbie Mupawose said he was worried that government had failed to
announce producer prices early.
"We are now in November and the central bank governor has put in trillions
of dollars to finance the agriculture sector but we are still to see the
deliverables," Mupawose said.
"Command agriculture does not solve our problems. Command systems do not
solve anything. We are in serious problems. I don't know why we hide from
some of these basic facts."
Under siege from the executives Murerwa could only say he "had tried to
identify some of the critical challenges that require attention through the
"More importantly, the economy needs right policy prescriptions that promote
sustainable growth, that is brought about by increased investment, exports,
value addition, public-private partnership and increased employment
opportunities and overall productivity of all economic sectors," Murerwa
"Price distortions are currently constraining the budget as well as
adversely affecting the operations of most public enterprises. It will be
necessary that we remove all price distortions and target subsidies to
Gumbo however maintained government's defensive stance, reminding the
delegates that the country was under sanctions.
"We are under siege of targeted sanctions," said Gumbo, parroting the
self-serving government line.
"Let's not be simplistic about these things and move beyond these text book
materials. We are operating under extremely difficult conditions."
But Mupawose was not intimidated.
"I often question what we are doing about these sanctions," he said.
"Surely, sanctions can be circumvented. We are suffering from the
consequences of our own actions," he said. Despite the tense atmosphere, the
meeting also had its lighter moments.
Black empowerment activist Keith Guzah said it was necessary for business
leaders to be enrolled for National Youth Service programmes.
"Maybe we need a Border Gezi adult literacy programme because of lack of
patriotism amongst some of our business leaders," he said.
Former Finance minister Simba Makoni advised both government and the
business leaders to have clarity of policies.
"Even if Zimbabwe is looking east, whilst east is looking west, there is
need for clarity in our policies," Makoni said.
"Today we are for individual enterprise, and tomorrow we are for collective
enterprise. We all know what has to be addressed."
The budget will be presented on December 1.
ABOUT 60% of the funds government allocated to the agricultural sector
disappeared before they reached the farmers, a parliamentary report has
said. The report, compiled by the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on
Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, revealed that about $70,8 billion of
the $118 billon that government had set aside to fund the agricultural
inputs cannot be accounted for.
The report follows the committee's July fact-finding mission on the State of
Preparedness by the Agricultural Sector for the 2005/2006 summer crop.
According to the report, between 2000 and 2005 the government has availed
$118 billion to finance the agricultural sector. "Farmers representatives
also alleged that only 40% of funds availed by the government to the
agriculture sector reached farmers on the ground," the report said.
"As a result, the funding channelled to agriculture for the last five years
has not made any significant impact on turning around the fortunes of the
sector. Stakeholders are urged to revise its financing strategies and come
up with appropriate and comprehensive financing models in order to achieve
The committee chaired by Walter Mzembi, the MP for Masvingo South, said the
current summer season was no better than previous seasons due to limited
stocks of inputs and foreign currency shortages.
The committee found that lack of a clear financing models, coupled with the
late release of funds and bottlenecks experienced by farmers at lending
institutions were a major hindrance to full agricultural recovery.
The central bank has since come up with a successor facility to the
Productive Sector Facility (PSF) known as the Agricultural Sector
Productivity Enhancement Facility (ASPEF).
Farmers' representative organisations expressed reservations about the ASPEF
"They (farmers) said they would sink deeper into debt as they were already
reeling under the 50% interest rate," the report said.
"This financing model was a short-term measure with a repayment period put
at six months. As a result, those farmers that ventured into 12-month cycle
crops could not pay back the loans at the stipulated time. At the expiry of
the repayment period, the RBZ immediately applied commercial interest rates
of 300% to loans drawn from the PSF."
The committee received oral evidence from Ministry of Agriculture permanent
secretary, Simon Pazvakavambwa, and Stuart Hargreaves, principal director
for livestock and veterinary services.
The committee also received inputs from Agribank head Sam Malaba, central
bank governor Gideon Gono, Noczim director Zvinechimwe Churu and farmers
representatives and seed houses.
According to the report, government under its command agriculture model, was
working on a target of 1 500 000 hectares to produce 2 250 00 tonnes of
maize at a cost of $5,967 trillion.
But the report says the gap between government's targets and the available
stocks of inputs points to a serious lack of planning at state level.
"It is your committee's considered view that this lack of coordinated
approach will not yield the desired results," the report said.
The committee comprises chiefs and MPs namely Chief Show Bushu, Chief George
Chimombe, Joel Gabbuza, Shuvai Mhofa, Aqualinah Katsande, Sabina Mugabe,
Edward Mkhosi, Margaret Pote and Gilbert Shoko.
I HAVE the daily heartbreak of driving along Lomagundi Road where, in the
past few weeks, over 70 trees have been cut down in the 2km between Harare
Drive and the cattle pens.
I eventually established that it was the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply
Authority doing the damage but the manager of Zesa Westgate was very quick
to quote me the regulations: "No trees within 6,5 metres of a power line."
Despite my protestations, it would appear irrelevant that none of them
actually touched the power line or were even likely to do it in the next 10
years. They must come down en masse, thereby creating a dreadful impression
of wanton destruction to those few foreign visitors that we have travelling
I have a few questions for Zesa:
Why, if you are so concerned about branches touching the cables and the
potential threat to power supply, have you not cut down the only thing that
does touch them, the very large bougainvillea, 500 metres after the Westgate
roundabout, into which the cable disappears on one side only to re-emerge on
Could it be that it is much more difficult and thorny for comfort and
doesn't have the side benefit of free timber afterwards? You have cut down
everything else for at least a kilometre before and after this bush!
Why are you so concerned about "regulations" concerning overhead power
cables, when you completely ignore those regulations regarding demarcating
and protecting the public from the gaping holes you leave on the verges of
roads when you do "temporary repairs"?
There are three within 100 metres of my flat in Kensington. Two have been
there for over a year now and the third was dug five weeks ago.
Your workmen managed to erect four "branches" that could only be described
as twigs, around which they wrapped some red tape. This pathetic effort
lasted less than 24 hours before everything fell over and the hole is now
completely unprotected just like the other two.
The danger to the public and the potential for being sued for negligence
must surely increase dramatically once the rains come.
Why does Zesa not prioritise the jobs it has to do, and employ some common
sense at the same time?
AS a Zimbabwean, I'm not sure when the government will threaten to expel me.
Unlike United States ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, I have no
other home. But speak I shall.
The threats to expel Dell show the duplicity that characterises the Zanu PF
leadership, especially President Robert Mugabe.
The reaction to Dell's criticism exposes Mugabe's hypocrisy. He is allowed
to say all sorts of things against others - George Bush and Tony Blair, for
example - but he feels offended when others express their views about him or
Mugabe is old enough to be my grandfather, but I'm sure when someone
criticises me or speaks negatively of me, I would not react in such a
deceptive way. I must say Mugabe has really gone bananas with age.
He naively believes attacking Bush and Blair will gain him international
support and recognition in other countries. I remember him proudly telling
the CNN that he is popular among the masses in South Africa and Africa in
general. This is the foolhardiness of an old man.
Okay, does his popularity bring petrol home?
If other leaders praise him for his outbursts, he should know that they now
consider him a political tool when it comes to international politics. They
are using him to advance their cause because they are intelligent enough to
know that if they say the wrong things against world powers, their economies
and people would suffer.
Mugabe should just shut up. He can't keep insulting young and admirable -
many Zimbabweans admire Bush and Blair - men who do not even respond to his
Have you forgotten the saying "never argue with a mad man, people may not
notice the difference"? That's what Blair and Bush are always telling
themselves after his speeches.
By the way, Mr Mugabe, please stop calling us your people because we don't
belong to you.
IT is interesting to note that the government talks of sabotage when ills
besetting Zimbabwe squarely lie with them. Take for example the shortage of
staple maize in the country. Is it an issue of poor planning or drought?
The white farmers foresaw the impending drought of 1992 and resorted to
irrigation of early maize fields - only to be described a decade later by
Agriculture minister Joseph Made as saboteurs and racists who wanted to
resist the land reform.
Right now an enterprise of growing maize for sale to the Grain Marketing
Board (GMB) is a farce (Zimbabwe Independent, October 14). Maize needs heavy
topdressing but the commodity is not there.
What will happen to the yield then? The floor price being offered by GMB
cannot cover even transport costs. Yet drought is blamed.
The people in Vice-President Joice Mujuru's constituency face starvation.
To make matters worse, the government is adding another burden by
introducing a senate. Payment for the mujibhas is due in January. The next
move will be the payment of the chiefs in foreign currency to enable them to
JUST thought I should share a crazy scene with you and anyone else bothered
to read this.
On October 28, my wife and I went to Five Avenue Spar (Athienitis) to buy a
couple of things on our way home. Among the few things were a few slices of
The ham was priced at $500 000/kg and the slices we got were worth $220 000.
At the till, I noticed the total for all the goods was more than I had
anticipated. On double-checking I saw that the ham was now worth $308 000.
I asked the till operator how this could be, when the price on the pack was
clearly marked $220 000. She then said: "The price probably went up while
you were walking to the till."
I know things are far from good in Zimbabwe, but that was the most absurd
excuse I have ever heard for daylight robbery. She called a supervisor who
at first started by basically saying there was nothing he could do. Pressed
further he said it was such a process to change the price that we were going
to be there for a long time.
He then tried to take off with the ham - I suspect to re-pack it - to which
I refused. He was suggesting he needed the whole pack to change the price
and I was maintaining he only needed the price tag. Seeing I was not budging
he then took the tag, and hey presto he was back in all of four minutes.
Like I said, things are far from good in Zimbabwe, but is it possible for a
price to change during the couple of minutes it takes to walk from the deli
to the till or these shops are just putting different prices on the shelf to
those they are charging at the till? If you do not double-check each and
every item you will get ripped off!
RECENTLY I drove to Mazvikadei Dam, situated just north of Banket. To my
horror, vast tracks of once wooded lands had been stumped clean by Chinese
Why this entire bush-clearing while acres upon acres of cleared land remain
unused? The latter being after all the very best lands, once upon a time
farmed commercially and denied to the people.
Through your paper, I ask the following questions:
* If no diesel is available to plough and harvest liberated land, why are we
allowing the use of this precious liquid to open more unnecessary land?
* If no diesel is available to ferry coal from Hwange for tobacco curing,
why are the Chinese burning all these thousands of stumped trees of many
years? One of these stumped trees would suffice a Zimbabwean family a whole
week to cook its food.
* If previously farmers chose not to cultivate these areas, could it be that
they had deemed these soils not desirable to culture?
* Having undermined our country's commercial traders, are these very Chinese
now going to be left to do the same to our agricultural sector?
* Could both the relevant ministers of Agriculture and Environment please
enlighten the nation on this costly and unnecessary destruction?
THE fight between the two MDC factions over participation in the forthcoming
senatorial election is no longer over principles. The fight has just turned
too personal, much to the marvel of Zanu PF, which is enjoying the
mudslinging by people who should be fighting for entrenchment of democratic
values in Zimbabwe.
We have read in the state media about factions belonging to the so-called
"academics" and the so-called "trade unionists" and we thought it was all
propaganda but it seems that the truth is out for all to see.
We have Job Sikhala calling the party president a "goblin" and saying "mai
vako" to whoever wants to remove him from the party. Those words are not
words of principle but words of anger and dislike to a person who should be
On the other hand, we hear of Isaac Matongo accusing the pro-senate camp of
trying to "murder" the party president during Morgan Tsvangirai's treason
trial last year. This is not entirely true because Tsvangirai himself was
careless in putting trust in everybody he met and claimed to believe in his
vision and that of the MDC.
Paul Themba Nyathi has also been very ruthless in his statements. Since the
beginning of the problems facing the MDC, this man has been sending the most
inflammatory statements of the two camps. He forgets he is the party's
spokesman and equates Tsvangirai to the state president in being a
He doesn't even see that he is also behaving no better than Jonathan Moyo,
who left a legacy of splashing reckless inflammatory statements when he was
Minister of Information. He should learn to forgive and Tsvangirai of all
people is mortal and also makes mistakes.
Nyathi should be more diplomatic in his statements as this can save his
When the senate elections are over and if the two factions iron out their
differences, cleansing time won't spare these lesser officials. Tsvangirai
needs Ncube and Sibanda the same way Ncube and Sibanda need Tsvangirai for a
more focused MDC.
The truth is that Tsvangirai flouted the party constitution and will not win
the case in any fair court of law. He should be able to swallow his pride
and say he erred when he vetoed the MDC national council decision on October
12. He should have engaged his colleagues and tried to convince them about
not going into the senatorial elections.
Now we hear Tsvangirai wants to change the party constitution to suit
himself. Instead of changing the constitution to give himself "more powers"
he should give the people power by going back to the grassroots if leaders
are in a stalemate.
He argues that senatorial elections are a waste of money and a senate is
worthless in the current Zimbabwean set-up. Then the question is: why is he
going around convincing MDC supporters only not to participate in the
senatorial elections and leaving out Zanu PF supporters?
On the other hand, the Ncube faction has the constitution on their side but
are they certain that they have the people at heart? They too should have
put on hold personal glory and asked themselves whether they were supposed
to go ahead and campaign for senate seats after "winning" the national
council vote or they should have gone back to the people on the way forward.
Is it because Tsvangirai is too "dull" to believe in the people's support?
The Ncube faction may be full of educated people but they alienate
themselves from the people by thinking that they are too educated. They
forget that Zanu PF and PF Zapu won the liberation struggle by having
managed to pull the masses to their side.
Can't they learn from Abel Muzorewa's demise? He lost it because he thought
people fancy intelligent ideas like ministerial posts for blacks without
No, people want real politics that will deliver them from the abject poverty
they are in today. They can only be liberated through politics and not the
Yes a constitution is important but it should serve the people and not the
leaders' interests only. Eddison Zvobgo said about the 1987 amended
constitution that "the same document can be executed in 70 different ways".
Even the MDC constitution must please the people and protect the people and
not the leaders. So before they became too bigheaded about a legal document
and isolating senatorial elections to a few districts of the country, this
faction should have sought a national mandate for participation or risk
turning the MDC into a district party like Zanu (Ndonga) and Egypt
Dzinemunenzva's African National Party.
Stop washing your dirty linen in public!
MOST Zimbabweans -- both urban and rural - welcomed the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) when it arrived on the political scene in 1999. Of
course Zanu PF then went on to intimidate all people to "rein in the
This it successfully did because Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF have defeated the
MDC in all presidential and parliamentary elections since the opposition
However, even then in the presidential election of 2002, 41% of the
electorate supported the MDC despite the violence perpetrated against them.
That was a significant figure because the atrocities unleashed against MDC
supporters have never been seen on a national scale in this country.
The people saw in the MDC a change to the inept, undemocratic and corrupt
leadership of the past 19 years.
Six years after the party was formed we have a sad scenario where the leader
of the party has refused to uphold democratic principles because a decision
went against him. This is his undoing because that is what posterity will
now remember Morgan Tsvangirai for.
What he has done is aligning himself to the Zanu PF/Mugabe ideology that
does not accept dissenting views - a sad turn of events for one who was held
in such high esteem.
Recently the leader of the oldest democracy in the world, Tony Blair, lost a
vote in parliament that he invested his personal authority in. A vote that
he personally drove but saw about 48 of his own MPs voting against him.
Blair did not say that he did not care if the party split. He took on the
collective democratic responsibility that says even if I'm in the right and
they are wrong, if the majority has spoken then let it be. If one has failed
to convince the people, then let it be.
Blair did not say that because the majority of the "dissidents" were
Scottish or Welsh, there's a tribal agenda. No, he respected the will of the
people, even though he went on to publicly declare that those who had voted
against his plan were "out of touch with the will of the people".
Blair said "he would rather lose and be right than win and be wrong". Wow!
Going on further with the example of Blair, his defeat has sparked what
analysts are calling a leadership question. Since this is Blair's first
defeat, is it time for him to leave the leadership of the party? One defeat
and his future is in jeopardy.
The MDC under Tsvangirai has suffered three national defeats - a
presidential poll and two parliamentary elections - and soon a senate
election. It is time to seriously consider replacing Tsvangirai.
The MDC president has become a liability to the party. We are all very
disappointed with you Tsvangirai, not because you stood for what was right,
but because of your undemocratic tendencies. That is your legacy - emulating
Mugabe in his quest to create a society of subservience.
By Bill Saidi
AROUND this time last year, I was at Old Trafford, the Theatre of Dreams,
watching Wayne Rooney score a briliant goal against Southampton. Thirty
years earlier, I had watched George Best mesmerise the Liverpool defence in
a game they drew 1-1 with their perennial rivals.
For that game, I was in the VIP section at Old Trafford, a guest of my
Last year, I was in the terraces, courtesy of a ticket offered to me by a
I was in Manchester to make a modest contribution to Visions of Zimbabwe, an
exhibition at the Manchester City Gallery, featuring such famous Zimbabwean
artists as Voti Thebe, Tapfuma Gutsa, Berry Bickle, David Brazier,
Chikonzero Chazunguza, Alice Tavaya and Chaz Maviyane-Davies.
I was one of three journalists taking part in the exhibition, with an
improvised shebeen den, which I said was popular as a meeting place for
journalists and politicians in the 1960s, when nationalist organisations
It had genuine 60s furniture, an old radiogram and the music of the Dark
City Sisters, from my own record library.
It was a hit with many visitors to the exhibition.
The other journalists were Grace Mutandwa, formerly of the Financial
Gazette, and Andrew Meldrum, correspondent of The Guardian who had been
based in Harare for 22 years, until his deportation a few months earlier.
My contribution in the catalogue of the exhibition was on the plight of the
journalist in Zimbabwe. It was a rather personalised account of a career in
the trenches, beginning with my induction as a cadet reporter at the African
Daily News in 1957, and almost ending with the shut-down of The Daily News
The exhibition was put together by Raphael Chikukwa, who wrote in his
introduction to the catalogue: "When words fail, art speaks."
Most of the pieces were critical of a Zimbabwe in real turmoil, with itself,
with the rest of the world - almost - and with its unfulfilled promises of
freedom after independence from colonial rule.
There were controversial photographs by a former colleague at the Daily
News, Tsvangirai Mukwazhi, some of which we had published. They illustrated,
in stark, graphic detail how the promises of 1980 had been ignored by Zanu
All the participants had to fend off questions from the local media about
the presumed danger of returninng to our homeland after taking part in an
exhibition so critical of the government of President Robert Mugabe.
Most of us said we had no hesitation in returning home. "Would we not be
bundled off to prison as soon as we landed at the airport?" we were asked.
To be sure, among the visitors to the exhibition, in the heart of
Manchester, were people from the Zimbabwean embassy, disguised either as
indigent Zimbabwean exiles anxious for any handouts or news from home, or as
journalists from the thriving black-conscienceness media in the UK.
At the time, it did not occur to me that the government would worry about us
to the extent of actually arresting us on our return.
Months later, of course, the government announced there would be a new law
under which citizens who travelled abroad and spouted criticism of the
government would have their passports withdrawn.
I should be thankful for small mercies, it would seem.
I doubt that any vigorous campaign will be launched to force the government
to abandon this heartless assault on the freedom of the citizen to travel.
Recently, I have come to the sad conclusion that we Zimbabweans really don't
deserve democracy. Certainly, we don't deserve a free press. Although most
of us fought colonialism to bring democracy to our country, once
Independence was achieved, we lacked the cojones to fight for that democracy
and even for a free press.
This may sound farcical, but I am always reminded of an old reggae hit by
Third World: "Now that we have found love, what are we gonna do with it."
For "love" substitute "Independence". Since 1980, the government has
trampled recklessly on the people's fundamental rights without so much as a
whimper from the citizens. There is much evidence that we lack the courage
to stand up to the government when it introduces such legislation as the
Public Order and Security Act (Posa), the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), and the Constitutional Amendment No 17
which created the monster called the senate - a glorified junkyard for
Since I am naturally concerned with the rights of the journalist, I want to
refer to a recent attack on the media by the governor of the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe, Gideon Gono.
In his latest quarterly monetary review, the most strident he has delivered
so far, he chastised the media for joining the alleged enemies of the state.
In short, he assailed their tendency of not accentuating the positive in the
now headless-chicken turnaround programme.
Not once did he acknowledge that, as facts are sacred to journalists,
accentuating the positive is possible and plausible only when the facts do
If they don't, the journalist who creates a positive spin in the absence of
the facts knows what his colleagues call him.
There is a chasmitic difference between journalism and public relations,
although there are people, particularly politicians and civil servants, who
tend to confuse the two for their nefarious purposes.
Gono, as the typical "establishment praise-singer" he has become, would not
acknowledge that the media in Zimbabwe is under siege. He would not mention
the ban on four newspapers: the Daily News, the Daily News on Sunday, the
Tribune and the Weekly Times. He spoke as if the media landscape was
The jackboot of Aippa has squashed the life out of newspapers. There is a
tight rope around the necks of all editors and reporters. One small mistake
and that rope could be tightened enough to squeeze the life out of them.
Gono is not alone in viewing the media landscape with equanimity. A recent
workshop on the fight against HIV and Aids featured activists advising
journalists on how to be more effective in their coverage of the pandemic.
Not one of them decried the absence of four soldiers in the fight - the
newspaper banned under Aippa.
Not one of them would acknowledge that under Aippa a journalist could be
jailed for five years if, in the opinion of the custodians of that law, he
had published a "falsehood" relating to the campaign against HIV/Aids.
Not many people appealing to the media to do this or that acknowledge that
since Independence, journalists have been terrorised by this government. Not
many mention the terrible fate of Willie Musarurwa, an outstanding defender
of the country's right to Independence and the right of the people to enjoy
that Independence to the full.
Hardly any of them mention the name of Mark Chavunduka, a young man in his
30s, who may have died of natural causes, but like Musarurwa, had been
thoroughly traumatised by the government terror campaign against
Citizens who know that the fight against colonialism was waged so
relentlessly because they too wanted to enjoy the freedoms enshrined in the
United Nations Charter are silent when those same rights are trampled
underfoot with breathtaking impunity by the government.
The same citizens will not raise a hue and cry when the government
promulgates laws such as Posa and the Constitutional Amendment Act No 17.
In the late 1980s, before the tenth anniversary of Independence, Edgar
Tekere complained that "Democracy was in the intensive care unit." His
outrage led him to speak out so loudly against the government Zanu PF
expelled him from its ranks. When I read he had been picked as a Zanu PF
candidate for the senate election, I was alarmed. I have known the man for
more than 30 years and I wondered what had happened to him.
When it was announced he had been "dropped", I was massively relieved.
Zimbabwean democracy, by now, is not only in the intensive care unit but has
challenged the most qualified physicians in the world to help it evince even
a spark of life.
The men and women in charge of Zimbabwe can be described as inveterate party
animals. To celebrate the Silver Jubilee of Independence, they pulled out
all the stops.
Later, it was publicly acknowledged that the government had spent so much
foreign currency during this bash there was not enough left over to buy any
So, in planning the celebrations, the government sat down and decided that
even if it meant there would be no money left over to buy fuel, this shindig
had to be the biggest since 1980.
And that is how it happened. Nobody raised a finger in protest. How do such
people deserve democracy? Or a free press?
* Bill Saidi is editor of the banned Daily News on Sunday
By Brilliant Mhlanga
FOLLOWING what has now become the daily diet of Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) politics, one wonders whether the party will ever go back to
ideals of democracy they always purported to purvey.
The MDC leadership is busy on a massive crusade of name-calling. I challenge
all well-meaning Zimbabweans to revisit the terms used in this pejorative
process of name-calling and unwarranted behaviour. Imagine some one being
labelled a "goblin", then the other being referred to as "smelly", while he
retorts and describes the other as having suffered from "diarrhoea".
The question that quickly comes to mind is: do Zimbabweans really need this
We have had enough, ranging from the comic Vice President Joseph Msika to
the recently hilarious head of state, President Mugabe. We definitely do not
expect the opposition to expose us to this kind of foul language. One
wonders whether this is the kind of democracy they were going to display had
they ascended into power in 2002. This is not only cantankerous but serves
to show MDC's lack of political maturity.
I submit the argument that the MDC has departed from its original founding
principles, therefore has become questionable and thoroughly lacks
plausibility. What we are seeing is in fact enough for us to know that MDC
has never had any founding principles. They also never had an ideology. If
they at least had some principles, we would expect the echelons to arrest
this ugly face they are showing.
Morgan Tsvangirai's failure to bring together his mad house and the
subsequent spill over is enough for the nation to realise the bankruptcy of
political leadership and extreme levels of political mediocrity. It even
confirms the hollow fallacy associated with the attempt to see MDC as having
had founding principles. A party whose formation is primarily rooted on the
anger of the masses does not last.
One major truth is that anger cannot and will never be substituted for a
political principle. A principle should be closely linked to the ideological
motivation of the party, together with the wisdom of forestalling such
ludicrous behaviour in the event that there are setbacks in the future. The
solid foundation on which any meaningful group of people base their future
focus and the course of action which follows thereafter, leading to the
ultimate taking of power from the ruling party must be guided by a strong
principle and political will.
The major founding principle should be people first. Of course not the Zanu
PF warped way of seeking political fortunes for the ruling thugs, who later
turn against the same people they purport to be representing and destroy
their source of livelihood. That is not anywhere close to a political
The MDC's political weaknesses are not different from that of Zanu PF. Maybe
the only difference is that Zanu PF is enjoying the benefits associated with
incumbency. Both parties have a culture of political patronage, a serious
disease Zimbabweans must shun, if change is to visit us any time soon.
Patronage is a serious mustard seed for disaster. The verbal slurring
currently enveloping the MDC is a result of the works of political patronage
which the leadership inculcated. They created a "nearer to thee my God"
character of a president, who now wallows in political sanctity never to be
paralleled. This political creation has led to the failure of all MDC
structures and now that he is being challenged, any form of challenge is
seen as lack of respect for the leadership which must be decisively dealt
with, in the Zanu PF political style - mudslinging. This is what usually
happens when people create a political figurehead and make him believe his
role has to equal Mugabe's patronage in order to offset him. Zimbabwe does
not even need another Mugabe. It does not want anyone who seeks to equal
Mugabe, but an institutional overhaul.
To avoid political patronage, it must be clearly laid down as a principle
that no one is more equal than others. It must also be clearly stated that
the constitution is the supreme law of the land. Respect for the party
constitution cannot be over-emphasised. Zimbabwe does not need patronage any
more. We now need a leader who will undertake to operate within his
constitutional mandate. This implies that Zimbabwe still has to go through a
rigorous constitutional reform. The impetus for a new constitution is due to
the untrustworthy nature of human beings. And so because we don't trust any
human being, let alone a big entity like MDC, we enact constitutional
frameworks to ensure that the continued participation of the masses in
fashioning the democracy they want is not curtailed. This ideal has failed
in the MDC, the leadership has done everything they can to disturb their
organisational structures. The masses are very doubtful they can trust the
MDC with national structures.
I therefore conclude that Zimbabwe no longer needs thr MDC. In my view, Zanu
PF is better off with the MDC for an opposition party than is the ordinary
Zimbabwean. In fact, Zanu PF badly needs the MDC at this stage; they are
even better off with Tsvangirai as the leader with his headstrong ways. The
existence of the MDC serves to indirectly install Zanu PF's illegitimate
regime and its continued hold on power. The MDC is by all means proving to
be politically hopeless and serving as a Zanu PF plant in the broader
Zimbabwean politics meant to impede other political players from taking the
stage and obviously unseating the ruling party.
This madness must not be allowed to continue for long. Otherwise people
cannot afford to hide behind silence and blame it on these opposition
leaders. Yes, these leaders are wrong, but it is the duty of responsible
citizens to remind leaders of whatever kind that they are from the people.
For now the wrongs of the leadership are conjured up by our sins of silently
watching when they embark on acts of madness.
* Brilliant Mhlanga is a human rights activist.
A TICKLISH quip about the late Ugandan leader Idi Dada Amin instructing his
army commander to go and shoot inflation on sight if he ever came across him
for the havoc it was causing among the civilian population should have
resonance among Zimbabwe's monetary authorities.
Runaway inflation, rated among the highest in the world, has thrown
Zimbabweans into the league of paupers with more that 80% of the population
living way below the poverty datum line.
The economic scourge has also eroded disposable incomes while national
savings have been wiped out, killing whatever remained of the culture of
saving among the populace.
Millions of Zimbabweans have been reduced to a hand-to-mouth existence,
without any hope about the future
The country's working population can no longer afford the benchmark of US$1
a day - equivalent to about $60 000 on the official market and approximately
$100 000 on the parallel market.
According to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe, a basket of goods for a
family of six last month cost $11,9 million from $9,6 million in September.
A majority of workers in Zimbabwe earn far less than that a month.
A good barometer of how bad things have gone in a country once touted as
having the greatest potential for growth at Independence in 1980 is a
comparison of what one could buy in relation to the value of the local
The price of bread, a basic commodity, is now about $40 000, enough to buy a
house in the leafy Greendale suburb of Harare in the 1980s.
The price of bread doubled less than a month ago from $22 000 a loaf. Prices
of most brands of mealie-meal have gone up tenfold over the last month and
experts say the surge is likely to intensify as national food stocks shrink.
Last week, the Central Statistical Office (CSO) announced an increase in the
year-on-year inflation by 51,2 percentage points to 411%, further dampening
any hope of salvation through the much-touted economic turnaround.
The CSO said the October annual inflation rate, a key economic indicator,
was 411% after increasing from September's rate of 359,8%.
"This means that on average goods and services normally purchased by
households for final use in Zimbabwe were 5,11 times as expensive in October
2005 as they had been 12 months before, in October 2004," the CSO said.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono has shifted his inflation
forecasts for year-end from between 20-35% earlier this year to between
35-50% and later to 50-80% before recently climbing down again to settle for
In his monetary policy last month, Gono all but admitted failure to rein in
inflation as he appeared to be losing the war against an unrelenting
But he put on a brave face insisting that "failure is not an option" even
though all social and economic indicators seem to conspire against his
Year-on-year inflation rose from 265% in August to 359% in September before
climbing to 411% last month.
In a report last month, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) said inflation
would rise above 400% by year-end.
Non-food inflation accounted for 414,7%, a 23,3 percentage points increase
on the September figure of 391,4%, while food and non-alcoholic beverages
inflation was 407,5%, a 99,3 percentage points rise on last month's rate.
On a year-on-year basis, items that recorded the highest increases in prices
were bicycles, postal services and hairdressing salons.
By comparison, on a month-on-month basis regional airfares, electricity
charges and railway fares recorded the highest increases.
The continued rise in inflation appears to reflect a deepening economic
crisis although government officials have been talking about an upturn since
The country has been buffeted by foreign currency shortages that
have in turn spawned severe fuel, power, drug and spare parts shortages.
The IMF said Zimbabwe's economy would shrink by 7% this year, after a 4%
contraction last year and 10,5% in 2003.
The central bank claims the economy will grow by 2-2,5% even though it
cannot support its assertions with credible evidence.
While Gono insists that the inflation rate will be within the 280-300% range
by December and decelerate in the first quarter of next year, economists
forecast the rate to hit 600% by February.
They say the increase in inflation has killed the nation's spirit of saving,
will worsen labour disputes, widen the gap between rich and poor and make
Zimbabwe an unattractive investment destination.
Disposable incomes have been completely eroded and the population cannot
make any savings for a rainy day.
Economic analyst John Robertson said the gap between the rich and the poor
would widen because interest rates offered on savings only benefited those
with large amounts of money.
"People with ordinary savings are being robbed of their money as its value
is eroded by inflation which cannot be compensated by interest earnings,"
He said labour disputes were also going to worsen, as employees demand more
frequent salary reviews against dwindling company revenues.
Civil servants, who now constitute more than 50% of the workforce in the
country, were last awarded a salary increment in January when inflation was
Robertson said it would be difficult for employers to give salary increments
that match inflation as they are also exploited through a poor exchange
rate, foreign currency shortages and an exporters' tax of 20%.
"We are receiving no foreign direct investment," Robertson said.
Foreign direct investment is one of the major economic drivers of developing
nations. Zimbabwe has not received significant external investment over the
past five years due to poor governance and lack of the rule of law.
Investors have shied away from Zimbabwe because of its unstable political
and economic conditions.
Instead, major investors in the country like BHP and Lonrho have closed down
operations and several others have relocated to neighbouring countries that
offer better prospects.
Falcon Gold, once one of the largest gold producers in the country, has
threatened to close down due to high operational costs.
According to a Platinum and Palladium 2005 survey by London-based GFMS,
Zimbabwe's costs of mining platinum shot up by 55% last year, making it one
of the most expensive places to mine in the world.
Robertson said unlike Malaysia that is always touted as an example to
emulate, the Zimbabwe government lacks discipline and cannot take difficult
Explaining his government's experiences in economic empowerment at the
Sheraton in Harare last week, former Malaysian prime minister, Mahathir
Mohamad, said his government did not randomly seize farms and companies that
were in the hands of neocolonialists but managed to achieve what Zimbabwe is
trying to do without upsetting the applecart.
Unlike Zimbabwe which acquired land haphazardly from white commercial
farmers, Mohamad said his government initiated resettlement schemes on land
that was not occupied to build local capacity.
He said the Malaysian government did not nationalise companies that were
foreign-controlled but waited until a time when they had enough money,
formed a company and started buying shares in the companies and ultimately
became majority shareholders.
He said his country wanted foreign companies to continue operating
profitably and above all made foreign investors feel safe in Malaysia.
Local companies are operating under a heavy burden of taxes, foreign
currency scarcity and high interest rates which translate into a high cost
of borrowing against controlled prices of basic commodities.
Eric Bloch Column
THE seemingly endless decline of the Zimbabwean economy since 1997, and the
consequential continuing intensification of hardships for ever greater
numbers, has resulted in almost all of the population desperately craving
change. In turn, the yearning for economic transformation has resulted in
the population moving constantly from one crisis of expectations to another,
anxiously striving to grasp some hope that the long-awaited economic upturn
will be triggered into being.
That is driven by government's ceaseless assurances that an economic
metamorphosis is imminent, notwithstanding that time after time those
assurances have proved to be baseless and naught but empty words. So
desirous is the populace for the critically needed change to the distraught
economy that despite all government's past promises and predictions of
economic transformation having proved to be unfounded, nevertheless each
time there is to be any governmental announcement of an economic nature,
there is a surge of expectations.
That was the characteristic of most of Zimbabwe prior to the Reserve Bank's
third quarter monetary policy statement, presented by governor Gideon Gono
on October 20, but no matter how substantive some of its measures, overnight
economic revival could not materialise, and has not done so.
However, another potentially significant economic policy event now lies
ahead, being the presentation to parliament (and thereafter to the
unnecessarily created, and unjustifiably costly, senate) of Zimbabwe's 2006
budget by the Minister of Finance, Herbert Murerwa. He will be tabling that
Budget in Parliament in less than a fortnight's time, on December 1, and
subsequently, on a yet to be determined date, to the senate, and rapidly
more and more Zimbabweans are speculating upon its likely contents, their
desperation fuelling their hopes for a budget which will constructively
reform the economy and ease the lot of the distressed majority. But, at the
same time, the numerous past crises of expectation failed to deliver, and
therefore the present crisis of expectations is muted by a growing
pre-conviction that the budget will, in practice, be a non-event.
In particular, there is a justifiably widespread belief that although
Minister Murerwa undoubtedly knows what is necessary to be done, he will yet
again be prevented from doing the necessary because governmental ideologies
and political objectives will, as heretofore, override national need.
Interestingly, whilst in prior years there has been extensive pre-Budget
consultation between the Ministry of Finance and numerous representative
bodies of diverse economic sectors, the recent run-up to the Budget has not
only included such consultations, but also interactions with "the
man-on-the-street". Undoubtedly the minister has been given far greater
insight than in the past into the public's needs and expectations, but there
is widespread scepticism that he will be able to react substantively to that
insight, for political dogmatism of his masters will inevitably override the
best interests of the poverty-stricken masses.
From a taxation point-of-view, the two most prevalent "demands" are that
the taxation thresholds and bands be realistically adjusted, and that in
similar vein the tax credits and allowances be meaningfully increased. At
the present time, employees pay income tax on monthly income in excess of
$1,5 million, at rates moving upwards from 20% to a ceiling of 40% on income
in excess of $9 million per month. Inflation having pushed the Poverty Datum
Line (PDL) for a family of six to over $12 million, such taxation is
untenable. How can it conceivably be justified to exact tax on an income of
only an eighth of PDL, and to apply a maximum, horrendous rate of 40% on
income above three-quarters of PDL?
It is unconscionable to extort such tax from the poor! Moreover, much of
the niggardly remaining after-tax income of the oppressed taxpayer then
disappears in direct taxes, such as 17,5% value added tax (Vat) on much of
the spending of those remnants of income, Customs Duties built into product
prices, and the like. Allowing for the probability of two income earners in
poor families, the minimum tax threshold should be $6 million per month, but
more justly at least $8 million per month, and even that does not give
recognition to the inevitable inflation over the year ahead.
Similarly, tax credits and allowances require radical review. How on earth
can government justify limiting tax credits for blind persons, mentally and
physically disabled, and the elderly to an amount equating to less than ten
loaves of bread per annum? It is as unreasonable, and verging on the unjust,
to limit the tax deduction for pension contributions to a niggardly $1 440
But modification of Zimbabwean taxation should not relate only to impacts
upon the poor. Very correctly, a year ago Murerwa motivated a change to
allowances for capital gains tax, intending that the tax should apply to
actual gains, as distinct from the notional gains occasioned by inflation.
But, having fairly prescribed that each year's allowance should equate to
that year's inflation, the legislation was (and still is) vague and capable
of misinterpretation, in that Zimra restricts the allowances to each year's
inflation without applying the compounding effect that in fact pertains to
inflation. Equity dictates that this should be rectified (with
In his 2005 budget statement, Minister Murerwa was emphatic that further
representations for Vat exemptions and zero-ratings would not be
entertained. However, economic circumstances dictate that he should
reconsider that stance. In particular, medical and educational services
should not be Vat exempt, but should be zero-rated. By so doing, health
services providers and educationalists can recover Vat paid by them on goods
and services, claiming those payments as input tax. In that event they would
not have to treat the Vat they pay as operating costs which they must
recover in the fees that they must charge. So many Zimbabweans can no
longer afford health services, and are calamitously embattled in trying to
fund their children's education. Government can give a little alleviation to
them by zero-rating health and education.
Of overriding concern is that the 2006 budget should demonstrate a real
intent by government to cut its spending markedly. The magnitude of
government's over-spend, year after year, and its resultant recourse to
gargantuan borrowings, has been one of the greatest contributants to the
intense hyperinflation that has plagued Zimbabwe. Government needs to move
towards a balanced budget, and to adherence to that budget. It is all very
well that it talks of reducing the swollen public service, but with 80% of
civil servants being nurses, doctors, teachers and the like, the extent of
possible reduction is limited.
Moreover, unless the reduction is achieved by natural attrition, the
retrenchment packages will be crippling. Public service reduction must be
pursued, but so should cut-backs in Defence spending, in supporting an
excessive number of embassies abroad, in endless trips by monstrously large
delegations, in huge cavalcades and the like. Zimbabwe must swallow its
pride and accept food aid, instead, of funding massive imports from debt.
Government should also reconsider, yet again, its position on the
privatisation of parastatals. Not only would the economy benefit from the
efficiencies and greater productivity generally forthcoming from
privatisation (as proven in innumerable instances in the United Kingdom,
much of mainland Europe, USA, Australia, South Africa, Malaysia and
elsewhere), but government would be progressively relieved of debt and
guarantees, and in some instances would generate revenue inflows from the
disposals of assets.
Most of all, the 2006 budget statement needs to evidence a genuine intent of
government to be investment facilitative. That would be a major factor in
achieving the so long desired and greatly needed economic turnaround. It
would strengthen the taxation base, by the creation of more taxable
entities, expansion of existing ones. It would create employment, resulting
in more domestic trade. That facilitation must include evidence of a real
intent to honour Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements
(BIPPAs), to enter into further double taxation treaties, creation of
meaningful investment incentives, reconciliation with the international
community, and providing investment protection guarantee insurance through
internationally-recognised facilities (such as the World Bank's MIGA
The crisis of expectations exists, but weakened by little hope that the
expectations will be met.
HAVING witnessed the rich irony of President Mugabe addressing meetings on
food security in Harare and Rome, we were last week treated to the equally
ludicrous spectacle of him addressing regional leaders on democracy.
"Democracy (in developing countries) is still under the great burden of
trying to prove itself to Europe," he told a gathering of the Southern
African International Dialogue in Maseru. Zimbabwe would stand firm in
refusing to have its elections unfairly judged by Britain, he said.
The list is a bit longer than that. In fact the only countries that will be
permitted to judge elections in Zimbabwe are those that can be guaranteed to
ignore rigging such as China, Russia, the AU and Sadc.
But the incongruities did not stop there. The assembled leaders, who
included Mugabe's old pal Dr Mahathir Mohamad, former prime minister of
Malaysia, proceeded to lecture the press on its role in society. They even
found some fool, calling himself a "former Western journalist", to stand up
and say he was very sorry for "things we have not done right".
His name was Andrew Taussig, for the record.
Then we had a litany of complaints from these unaccountable leaders about
how they had been treated at the hands of the media. Lesotho premier
Pakalitha Mosisili said journalists "could even disrespect elders and
leaders in their reports".
Surely not! Actually treating these self-important, self-imposed,
self-serving creatures to the scrutiny they deserve? Did any of the
reporters present, for instance, ask what goodies Mahathir had brought along
for the Mugabe family home?
We recall him encountering embarrassing questions from opposition MPs in the
Malaysian parliament when he donated timber to Mugabe.
Then we had George Charamba telling stories. He claimed that Western
journalists were trained "in the context of national values which inculcated
in them the need to defend national interests".
What examples can he give of such training? Did he experience such
"inculcation" when he was the beneficiary of a British scholarship?
Has he ever read any articles by Gary Younge or Polly Toynbee in the
Guardian? Is he unaware that significant segments of the British media are
loudly opposed to Britain's role in Iraq? Can you imagine anybody at the
Herald daring to criticise Zimbabwe's role in the Congo?
The most notable thing about the Southern African International Dialogue is
this yawning chasm between rhetoric and reality. Here is an organisation
based on the concept of smart partnerships between governments and the
private sector. Mugabe is able to fly to Lesotho to pontificate on the need
for such cooperation when his ministers such as Didymus Mutasa and Chris
Mushohwe are busy threatening farms and businesses with seizure.
While Mugabe was at SAID in Maseru, state-sponsored raiders were plundering
farms in Mwenezi of tractors and irrigation equipment, the product of years
How smart was that? And the state media here needs to be educated on how
self-sufficient Malaysia was when it rejected IMF prescriptions in 1998. Its
leaders had built it into a dynamic modern economy, the very opposite of
Zimbabwe whose leaders have reduced it to a basket case dependent upon
This is what the Sunday Mail's Munyaradzi Huni, who invariably appears
anxious for somebody to worship, had to say on Zimbabwe's predicament: "The
country's economic turnaround programme seems to have gone off the rails,
but great statesmen like Dr Mahathir know that 'failure is not an option'."
And that's the best he can do!
Meanwhile, the conviction of former finance minister and deputy prime
minister Anwar Ibrahim, seen as a political threat to Mahathir, was
overturned by the country's federal court in September 2004, nearly a year
after Mahathir's departure from office.
Anwar had been charged with sexual assault but, in a ruling that will sound
familiar to Zimbabweans, the state's key witness proved unreliable and was
described as a police accomplice.
He claimed the assault had taken place in an apartment block that had not
been built at the time. The original trial court allowed him to change his
evidence. In so doing it had misdirected itself, the federal court ruled.
Anwar's release from prison six years to the day since his dismissal from
government was greeted with jubilation by his supporters. His continued
detention had become an embarrassment to the government of Dr Abdullah
Badawi who has attempted to put some distance between himself and the
22-year rule of his autocratic predecessor, news agencies reported.
"You've got to recognise the fact that his predecessor wouldn't have made
this judgement possible," Anwar told reporters after his release.
No wonder Zimbabwean officials are saying "Dr M" has much to teach us!
The president's nephew, Leo Mugabe, has been much in the news of late. But
it's not the sort of publicity he would want.
He is accused of reselling subsidised flour across the country's borders in
what many in the ruling party may call private enterprise. What interested
us were reports that at the time of his detention Leo complained bitterly
that Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights had not taken the slightest interest
in his case.
"Where are all the human rights lawyers?" he was heard to complain.
And his wife Veronica couldn't understand why Leo had been singled out when
commodities trading was very much a family business!
Is Harare town clerk Nomutsa Chideya a card-carrying member of Zanu PF? You
would certainly think so from his remarks about the Combined Harare
Residents Association. He described them as "people who get foreign funding
and want to please their masters by making unnecessary noise.
"They should not use opposition parties to attack the operations of local
authorities but should learn to take up ownership of the city," he was
reported as saying in the Sunday Mail Metro.
"What we expect from residents with the city at heart is to look at all
fundamentals and find a possible way forward."
He certainly hasn't found a way forward despite being kept in style by
ratepayers over a number of years. We recall that house in Milton Park. And
what sort of arrogance is it that a paid official tells Harare residents
what he expects of them?
This is what happens when long years of service to the regime leads
functionaries to conclude that they can say - and do - what they like.
What has Chideya done to improve water supplies, road conditions, street
lighting and refuse disposal? How does the city look now compared to when he
first took office?
Official arrogance and non-performance are very much a part of Zimbabwean
public life. The two seem to go together!
Mr Chideya, get off your backside and achieve something for Harare before
you lecture ratepayers on what they should or should not be doing. And who
believes for one minute that "networking" with Russia is going to produce
anything, as you seem to think?
Chideya said he placed adverts in newspapers about the supplementary budget
because the city only had nine commissioners who did not have the capacity
to visit all residential areas to hold consultations.
Why does he think anybody wants to see these incompetent Zanu PF stooges?
The residents want the return of their elected council and they want it now.
Hopefully, when democracy is restored the first thing the elected council
will do is booting Chideya out.
By the way, how much is that Milton Park house costing and who is paying for
Congratulations to the Harare commission and the Zimbabwe National Water
Authority for their inimitable diligence. After years of painstaking inquiry
this week their efforts were handsomely rewarded.
The Sunday Mail Metro reports that the commission and Zinwa have discovered
that the city's "perennial water problems" are due to "poor infrastructure"
at water treatment plants. This made it "impossible" to pump water
efficiently, the paper reported. This had left many residential areas
without water for weeks on end.
Adding further to our enlightenment on the city's water problems, Chideya
discovered that the increased number of residents was "putting a lot of
pressure on reservoirs".
After this miraculous discovery can we expect to see an improvement in
service delivery? Can we expect an apology or a reinstatement of Harare
executive mayor Elias Mudzuri, falsely accused by Ignatious Chombo of
mismanagement of council affairs?
Meanwhile, unlike the Herald, we were not surprised by the conspiracy of
silence by both the Harare commission and Chitungwiza council on the
outbreak of dysentery in the two cities. The paper said the two councils had
an ethical and legal responsibility of keeping their residents informed of
There could be three possible explanations why they couldn't be bothered. It's
the first time in many years that we have heard somebody raising issues of
ethics in Zanu PF operations. So perhaps that word is not in their
vocabulary. Secondly, both commissions can't have a legal obligation towards
residents who didn't elect them. Their first obligation is to the minister
who appointed them.
The more probable reason for the silence is the culture of denial in
government. They don't want to admit that their master is failing to run the
Surely the Herald hasn't forgotten that such simple home truths nearly cost
Bulawayo mayor Japhet Ncube his job when he said several residents had
starved to death in the city. President Mugabe went so far as to ask
Archbishop Pius Ncube to produce the bodies of the deceased.
So who would want to be called a saboteur and a puppet of the West by
exposing such inconvenient truths?
Finally, will somebody please pay for some spelling lessons for the
president. He says he can't spell Dell. But he can spell hell.
The reason he can spell hell is that he uses it all the time. "Practice
makes perfect". Everyone can go there, he thinks. But Dell is a bit more
problematic because the president hasn't come across it before.
Muckraker is sure that with a bit more use our very educated leader will get
a grip on it. The US ambassador must provide the homework for this
presidential self-improvement exercise by speaking out more often.
Other words the president has difficulty with are democracy, rule-of-law,
good governance and economic recovery. But being a slow learner he is
unlikely to grasp these before 2008.
* In our edition of October 7 we referred to a report on ZimOnline that
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa had taken a second wife. The report
claimed this had caused complications with his first wife.
Chinamasa's lawyers have since written to say that the report is false and
tarnishes their client's "good name, fame, reputation and esteem".
This is a matter we believe the minister should take up with ZimOnline. But
in the meantime we are happy to publish an apology as requested by him if he
feels his good name, fame, reputation and esteem have suffered as a result
of the reference to the report in this column.
November 18 2005 at 12:02AM
The intelligence ministers of South Africa and Zimbabwe took exception
to a reporter's question on human rights at the signing of a bilateral
agreement in Cape Town on Thursday.
Zimbabwean minister Dydimus Mutasa called on defence and security
officials from both Zimbabwe and South Africa to pray for the forgiveness of
the journalist, who accused Zimbabwe of human rights abuses.
It arose during the signing of two agreements between South Africa and
Zimbabwe in which they agreed to establish a joint commission of defence and
security and for Zimbabwe's flying instructors to train South African Air
The journalist asked intelligence minister Ronnie Kasrils how South
Africa, with a "good human rights track record", could sign agreements with
Zimbabwe, who was said to have a "poor human rights record".
A clearly embarrassed Kasrils immediately apologised for the
journalist's question. But Mutasa said the question was to be expected.
"I just want to say that he (the reporter) doesn't have to apologise
to us and that perhaps the best (is) that all of us here should agree to say
to our honourable reporter is simply, to pray for him.
"Lord forgive him for he does not know what he is saying," Mutasa said
at the inaugural meeting of the South Africa/Zimbabwe joint permanent
commission on defence and security.
"The liberation struggle was much more painful than the insults we are
getting from some of these misguided creatures," Mutasa said.
Kasrils berated the media.
"I find it rather insulting that you (the reporter) should level such
a question here at us with this delegation from Zimbabwe.
"I apologise to them that they have to sit here on an historic
occasion when we have signed two agreements which are so important to the
security, stability, the development of both our peoples and countries,"
He stated South Africa was committed to working with its neighbours
and with Zimbabwe.
"They have very daunting challenges. They are very frank about the
kind of problems they have to deal with.
"We agree with them fully when they situate those problems within a
context related to the colonial status of Zimbabwe, which for so many years
had the name Rhodesia thrust upon them."
The question was bound to come, Zimbabwe's deputy home affairs
minister Sydney Sekeremayi told the gathering.
"All our lives... was dedicated to fighting for freedom and it's an
insult to say we are abusing or violating human rights." - Sapa