By Walter Marwizi
MOVEMENT for Democratic Change (MDC) national Chairman Isaac Matongo says
the crisis rocking the party has nothing to do with the Senate elections but
it is a grand scheme to oust party president Morgan Tsvangirai and replace
him with a submissive leader who can negotiate with Zanu PF.
Speaking for the first time as the opposition party sank deeper into
problems, Matongo bared his soul to The Standard, saying the Senate issue
alone could not have divided leaders who had been in the trenches together
for six years.
He noted the key issue was the desire by some party officials to enter into
talks with Zanu PF, which had failed to materialise over recent years.
Despite nudging by local churches and regional leaders, in particular South
African President Thabo Mbeki, Tsvangirai and President Robert Mugabe have
failed to come face to face and find a solution to the country's worsening
Matongo said: "They wanted to see Tsvangirai out and then put someone who
could play to the Zanu PF tune. These are the people who want to see Unity
Accord number 2. We had reports that some had been promised to be prime
He added the Senate was just an excuse for the group in favour of elections
to openly challenge Tsvangirai.
"These people never respected the president. Every time in our meetings they
ridiculed him. Tsvangirai had to bow down to them, for the sake of the
The pro-Senate faction, however, insists that they are against Tsvangirai
because he is flouting the MDC constitution, unleashing violence on
opponents and has surrounded himself with unelected officials.
MDC Deputy Secretary General Gift Chimanikire said last week disciplinary
proceedings against Tsvangirai would start after the Senate elections.
Despite such threats, Matongo believes that Tsvangirai will emerge from the
"In the past we did not know each other in the MDC. Now the people are fully
aware of our agendas in the party. I have no doubt those who are square pegs
in round holes will be judged by the people," Matongo said.
The founding member of the MDC made the comments as it emerged that a
restructuring process had started in the opposition party, which would
culminate in the election of a new leadership at the congress, set for end
of February next year.
Insiders at Harvest House hinted that many party heavyweights, mainly those
from the pro-Senate faction, were on their way out and a new leadership
Already Harare province had given notice to the party that it wants to hold
its provincial congress during the first week of December. Mashonaland East
and Central provinces are expected to follow and there are indications that
by mid-December most of the provinces would have come up with delegates,
charged with electing new leaders at the MDC congress.
Under the MDC constitution, the top six posts - the president, his deputy,
national chairperson, secretary general, his deputy and treasurer general -
are all elected directly by congress after being nominated by the party's 12
provinces. Matongo, the national chairperson, conducts the elections.
By Ndamu Sandu
CENTRAL Bank governor Gideon Gono has defied a Cabinet decision to allow
Nkululeko Rusunungo Mining Company of Zimbabwe (NRMCZ) to become empowerment
partners of Zimbabwe Platinum Mines (Zimplats).
The Cabinet inter-ministerial committee last year chose NRMCZ ahead of
Needgate Investments and National Investment Trust (NIT). Members of the
committee were Cabinet Ministers Webster Shamu (Policy Implementation), Amos
Midzi (Mines), the late Josiah Tungamirai (Indigenisation) and officials
from the Ministries of Finance, Industry and the President's Office.
As part of the transaction NRMCZ would buy 13 390 423 ordinary shares at a
price of A$3.47 which is 69% more than the share value on the Australian
Stock Exchange (ASX).
Documents obtained by The Standard show that Gono wrote to Zimplats
imploring them not to proceed with the transaction.
Zimplats had written to Gono informing him that they were proceeding with
the transaction in line with instructions from the Ministry of Mines.
Gono wrote: "As monetary authorities, we are disturbed by this stance as we
have communicated our new role in the platinum industry, including the fact
that we are now interested and mandated to examine all indigenisation
programmes in that sector before they can be implemented."
"As I did amply indicate to the nation on 28 October, 2004, we regard the
platinum industry a strategic sector, which, as monetary authorities, we
would not want derailed by underhand or lopsided empowerment programmes that
do not leverage enough ground for significant expansion of platinum mining."
Gono ordered Zimplats to comply with the new regulations.
"It is for this reason that your company is hereby directed to comply with
the new policy framework, which seeks to consolidate growth in the sector in
a transparent and investor friendly manner," Gono said.
"Your insistence, as is loudly clear in the letter, to persist in the
contrary direction can only serve to distort and negate what we, as monetary
authorities, had hoped would be a cordial, non- distractive and smooth
Gono had in the past dismissed NRMCZ as gatecrashers into the white metal
business "riding on political connection".
The Standard is reliably informed that Gono had threatened bankers, both
local and foreign, that had shown a willingness to fund the parceling out of
the empowerment stake. As such, there was anxiety among bankers, as Gono had
not removed the embargo.
As the battle for control of the platinum industry rages on, sources said
last week that NRMCZ had written to Vice President Joseph Msika in September
outlining the impediments they (NRMCZ) had encountered in order to acquire
The correspondence was written when Msika was the acting President. NRMCZ
directors are alleged to have raised concern over the manner in which the
mines ministry was operating regarding the empowerment stake. Midzi was
alleged to have come up with the idea of a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV)
that would accommodate all the losing bidders including National Investment
Trust and Needgate Investments.
The SPV was envisaged to hold shares in the white metal producer. Indigenous
groups were supposed to hold shares in the SPV.
It also emerged last week that Shamu will on Tuesday present to Cabinet the
empowerment case among a host of other programmes, which have not been
Zimplats is a South African company, operating in Zimbabwe, registered in
the Guernsey, owned by a South African company and listed on the Australian
Gono was said to be away and due back on Wednesday.
A Zimplats spokesperson gave a snappy "No comment" response, when contacted.
NRMCZ spokesperson, Alec Manungo, promised to return the call as soon as
possible. He had not done so by the time of going to press.
By Caiphas Chimhete
HARARE and Chitungwiza authorities have no capacity to deal immediately with
the current health crisis because health and ablution facilities have
virtually collapsed, health experts and town planners have said.
The local authorities have failed to adequately supply clean running water
to residents and address the sewage problem, raising fears that the
situation could worsen with the onset of the rains.
At least 14 people have died in the past three months due to diseases such
Health experts said more deaths were likely to occur after government last
week uprooted 300 families from Mbare and "dumped" them at Hopley Farm,
where there is no clean running water, toilets or food.
"Only last week, they dumped 300 more people here but they know we do not
have any facilities. We don't have toilets, enough food or clean water,"
said a health official at the farm,accommodating about 2 000 people.
Last week, The Standard reported that at least 34 people were terminally ill
at the farm, where they live in crowded matchbox shacks without enough food
Zimbabwe Institute of Regional and Urban Planning president, Sasha Jogi,
said more people would succumb to water-borne diseases unless the councils
and government come up with a "crisis management plan" to immediately
mobilize resources to rectify the situation.
"There has been a reduction in terms of the number of doctors, nurses, drugs
and equipment in the hospitals. The councils do not have money and manpower
to refurbish sewage plants nor do they have capacity to supply residents
with clean water," he said, adding that the shortage of fuel was also
curtailing local authorities' operations.
Itai Rusike, the chief executive officer of the Community Working Group on
Health concurred, saying the two local authorities had no capacity to deal
with the health crisis because they lacked funds to revamp the sewerage
system and upgrade water reticulation.
"The situation is very bad and Chitungwiza is the most affected. The $5
billion that was given to Chitungwiza by government is not enough to deal
with the problem," Rusike said.
The government has said it would avail $5 billion for upgrading water and
As for Harare, the sewerage and water pipes were put in place many years ago
and can no longer meet the needs of the city's increasing population,
resulting in either blockages or leakages.
Combined Harare Residents Association chairperson, Mike Davies, said the
health crisis would not relent unless residents stopped drinking
He said Mabvuku residents had been drinking contaminated water flowing from
the Circle Cement plant for the past month while those in Mbare were
sourcing their water from the sewage-saturated Mukuvisi River.
"Hundreds have been hospitalised due to diarrhoea and dysentery in Harare
and Chitungwiza. The City of Harare must address the crises around water
treatment, refuse collection, street lighting, roads and sewerage repairs,"
By Nqobani Ndlovu
BULAWAYO - Boarding and government schools around the country have proposed
increases in school fees of more than 500 percent, with $13 million set as
the minimum payment for each student a term at most institutions, The
Standard has established.
School authorities interviewed last week said the proposals had already been
sent to the Minister of Education, Sport and Culture, Aeneas Chigwedere, for
School authorities at Guinea Fowl High in Gweru indicated that they had
proposed increasing school fees to $22 million, up from $3 million a child a
term - a figure far beyond the reach of many parents.
In Harare, Churchill High School has proposed increasing fees to $17.8
million a term for boarding students, up from around $3 million.
Officials from St James' High from Matabeleland North said they had made
proposals of between $12 million and $25 million, which would be staggered.
The school this year charged each student $2.1 million a term and the
proposed increases are set to deepen clashes between the Parents-Teachers'
Association (PTA) and Anglican Church, which runs the school.
The PTA is opposed to the increases following allegations that the church
was using school funds for purposes not related to school activities.
"There is bound to be a showdown between the school authorities and PTA
because we suspect that top church members are using school fees for running
their church instead of financing school activities," said one PTA member
who declined to be named.
Church authorities could not be reached for comment yesterday but the school
administration is reported to have forwarded the proposed school fee
increases to Chigwedere for approval without consulting the PTA.
In the city of Bulawayo, Townsend High has proposed an increase from $2.8
million a child a term to $13.2 million, while Founders' High school is
expected to hike the fees from the same figure to $12 million.
Gifford High and Milton High schools are proposing increases from $9 million
to $15 million and $2.5 million to $13.5 million respectively a term a
Mission boarding schools run by the Brethren-In-Christ Church such as
Mtshabezi, Wanezi and Matopo are expected to increase their school fees from
the current $2.3 million a term to between $11 million and $13 million.
"The fees are too high as parents are earning salaries which are below the
poverty datum line. On the other hand, goods have become expensive and
schools have no alternative but to increase school fees," said a PTA member
of Mtshabezi Mission.
He noted that many parents might be forced to withdraw their children from
schools, as they would not be able to pay the proposed fees.
Jameson Timba, a spokesperson for the Association of Trust Schools (ATS), a
group of privately owned schools, last week said private schools were
reviewing their school fees in accordance with the rate of inflation.
Timba said: "Just like any other business entity, our schools review their
prices from time to time. These reviews would be based on the prevailing
The president of the National Association of School Heads (NASH), Tapu
Vincent Moyo, said schools were expecting responses from the Ministry of
Education before the end of this month.
He said all schools nationally were supposed to have sent their proposals by
the end of October.
Efforts to get a comment from Chigwedere were fruitless as he was said to be
attending various meetings in Harare.
By Caiphas Chimhete
LOCAL council authorities and companies that provide monopolistic services
such as water and electricity are grossly violating consumer rights while
short-changing them with impunity because clients have no alternative
Over the past few months, customers have complained about poor service
provision by the country's sole power utility, Zimbabwe Electricity Supply
Authority (Zesa) Holdings, TelOne and local council authorities.
The companies and local authorities, at times do not send monthly bills or
send them late, but still expect residents to pay on time.
Although residents have now resorted to paying amounts they paid the
previous month, at times, they incur shortfalls resulting in electricity or
water supplies being cut off.
This even applies to debts, which are less than 30 days old.
One Harare resident who had electricity cut off recently when Zesa had not
sent him a bill said: "I have been a victim of this trickery, and have had
my electricity switched off twice in September and October. Firstly, I was
told that I owed them $150 000 and was made to pay over $900 000 on 5
September 2005 after they had switched off my electricity."
Where services are cut off, customers are made to pay outrageous amounts in
Harare City Council charges $235 000 while Zesa require $200 000 for
reconnection of water and electricity respectively.
However, there is no guarantee that the services would be restored
immediately upon payment because providers always cite shortages of fuel for
not meeting their side of the bargain.
"What is surprising is that when a resident fails to pay bills by a day,
they come and disconnect promptly. I wonder whether they only get fuel for
disconnections only and not to provide the services," complained Godfrey
Rwizi of Kuwadzana Extension in Harare.
Zesa public affairs manager, James Maridadi, admitted that electricity bills
were taking long to reach their clients but blamed Zimpost.
"Just go and post a letter to your neighbour today and see how long it will
take to get there. It takes three months. That is why we urge people to come
to our offices and inquire how much they are supposed to pay to avoid
disappointments," Maridadi said.
He defended switching off of electricity to people with arrears as little as
$11 000 saying: "If two million people owe Zesa $11 000 it would amount to a
huge sum of money."
Other than disconnecting residents for flimsy reasons, local authorities
such as Harare, continue to charge for refuse collection, a service it
stopped providing over nine months ago, citing shortage of fuel.
If a resident fails to pay for refuse collection their water is cut off.
Harare City Council spokesperson, Leslie Gwindi, said the council would
continue collecting funds for refuse collection because as soon as the fuel
situation improves they will start providing the service.
"It's a legal obligation that we continue collecting money for refuse
collection and when everything normalises, we can resume collecting refuse.
We will disconnect anybody with an outstanding bill so people should just
pay up their bills," Gwindi said.
But the chairperson of the Combined Harare Residents' Association, Mike
Davies, urged consumers to rise up against violation of their rights. He
said the violation of people's rights was caused by the "failure of the
State" to cater for its citizens.
"It's symptomatic of the failure of the State to adequately address the
needs of its citizens from water to health and shelter," Davies said.
Even in supermarkets, consumer rights are no longer respected.
Zimbabwean customers no longer receive their change if it is less than $500.
Till operators always say that they do not have smaller denominations
thereby depriving the customers of their hard-earned money.
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) public relations manager, Tonderai
Mukeredzi, said people were legally entitled to get services they pay for.
"We are quite concerned that people are paying for refuse collection and yet
the service is not being provided. Where people are paying for a service,
they should get it," Mukeredzi said.
The CCZ official said customers should be given enough notice to pay their
bills before disconnection of services. "If the wanton disconnection of
services by monopolistic providers continues, then there will be need to
evoke the Class Services Act, which invokes taking them to court."
Mukeredzi, however, added that customers had a responsibility to pay their
bills in time.
By Godfrey Mutimba
THE aspiring MP for Gutu North by-election, Crisper Musoni of the opposition
MDC has accused the ruling Zanu PF of vote- buying after it allegedly
splashed maize in the constituency in a bid to lure votes for its candidate,
Speaking at a campaign rally at Mpandawana growth point recently Musoni, who
appears to be fighting a lone battle while his colleagues squabble over the
Senate elections, blasted Zanu PF for using food to buy votes.
Biting hunger has forced many in the drought-prone area to survive on wild
fruits. "We know that they are diverting food from other constituencies to
Gutu North which has great importance as it is not a senatorial election.
Their aim is to lure you to vote for them. You should realise that before
the elections people have been starving; now they want to pretend to care
"As MDC we want to tell you that people who only think of you when they want
something are bad. It has always been the culture of Zanu PF to exploit
people when they need something and it is high time you showed them that
enough is enough,'' Musoni said.
Musoni also urged party members to ignore the on-going confusion in the
party saying it was a phase that will come to pass because the MDC was a
strong opposition party that will survive such skirmishes.
"Every one is aware of the on-going differences in the party. It is normal
for any political party to undergo such a situation and normally prevail.
This should not make us lose our focus. We need to fight the ruling party
and replace it with a democratic government that has the will of the people
Musoni will battle it out with Zanu PF's Matuke, who could not be reached
for a comment. The seat fell vacant following the death of veteran
nationalist, Retired Air Marshal Josiah Tungamirai three months ago.
Tungamirai succeeded the late Vice President Simon Muzenda as MP for the
By our staff
IN a desperate bid to raise funds for its congress, Zanu PF is turning to
farmers to bankroll it.
Speaking in Banket last weekend, Dr Ignatius Chombo, the Minister of Local
Government, asked farmers to donate funds towards holding of the Zanu PF
congress due next month.
Addressing both small-scale and large-scale farmers, Chombo said Zanu PF
expected them to contribute during the ruling party's time of need, "as one
good turn deserves another".
Small-scale farmers, he said, were expected to donate up to $50 million,
while the large-scale farmers could contribute up to $100 million.
However, most farmers contacted by The Standard, said they were "shocked" by
One prominent farmer, who refused to be identified for fear of
victimisation, said because farmers experienced a bad season last year, they
would not be able to raise the amounts demanded by Chombo.
But another Banket farmer advised Zanu PF not to hold the congress if it did
not have the resources.
Zanu PF is set to blow billions of dollars in hotel accommodation for its
delegates during this year's four-day National People's Congress to be held
Inquiries by The Standard have revealed that the party has already snapped
up all the rooms at Bulawayo's two upmarket hotels for the duration of the
The five-star Holiday Inn and three-star Bulawayo Rainbow are now fully
booked from 7 to 11 December for senior party officials who will attend the
Congress in Esigodini, 42 km south-east of the city.
By Bertha Shoko
THE Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa, has
expressed reservations over the recent purchase of vehicles using a grant
obtained from Round 2 of a Global Fund grant saying that he felt some of the
vehicles bought were "somewhat too posh" for HIV and Aids work.
The vehicles cost about US$430 000.
The 18 vehicles were delivered into the country early this month and were
officially handed over to their recipients more than a week ago at the
National Aids Council NAC offices in central Harare. Parirenyatwa was the
guest of honour at the reception.
Of the 18 vehicles purchased, 12 are Toyota Landcruisers that will be
distributed to 12 rural districts for use in Aids work. NAC is expected to
co-ordinate the use of the vehicles.
The districts that will receive the vehicles include Mudzi, Binga,
Beitbridge, Mangwe, Chimanimani and Chiredzi. The other six vehicles - five
Toyota Hilux Double Cabs and one Nissan Double Cab 4WD - will be to sub
recipients such as NAC, UNDP and Zimbabwe Association Church Related
These six vehicles are the bone of the contention. Many activists who
attended the launch seemed to think the vehicles were more of luxury instead
In an interview with The Standard, Parirenyatwa said although the Country
Co-ordinating Mechanism (CCM) - the body responsible for co-ordinating the
submission of funding proposals on behalf of a country to the Global Fund -
had agreed that vehicles must be purchased for proper management of HIV and
Aids programmes, he had not been aware of the type of vehicles that were
going to be purchased.
"My own feeling is that we could have purchased more modest looking cars
like the Landcruisers that we can use to gain access to more remote areas.
The Landcruisers can carry more people, more medical supplies and food to
communities. Maybe I stand corrected, but the Hiluxes look very expensive,"
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) which is the principal
recipient of the country's Global Fund grants was responsible for the
procurement of the vehicles from abroad through an international tender.
UNDP's deputy resident representative, Bernard Mokam, told The Standard on
the sidelines of the launch that the vehicles were obtained at "a bargain"
and more "extremely necessary".
By Gibbs Dube
BULAWAYO - One of Zimbabwe's largest manufacturers of drugs and various
pharmaceutical products, Datlabs Private Limited, is facing serious foreign
currency problems resulting in its factories running at low capacities.
According to the company's chief executive officer, Todd Moyo, the shortage
of foreign currency has put on hold the introduction of new products and
manufacture of anti-retroviral drugs.
"The serious shortages of foreign currency currently facing Zimbabwe have a
significant impact on the company because 80% of materials used at Datlabs
in the process of manufacturing are imported. This has resulted in our
factories running at very low capacities," Moyo said.
He said that the company had run out of foreign currency to import most of
its materials. "Datlabs is seriously affected and does not at this point
have any foreign currency to import materials.
"It has been some months since we received any allocation of foreign
currency from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) but we have continued
talking to them regarding our situation."
He said they held a meeting with officials of the central bank recently and
the officials fully appreciated the company's problems.
Moyo said as net importers, the company was affected by the shortages and
cost of foreign currency as well as high inflation rates which may soon
translate into unaffordable medicines for Zimbabweans.
"We believe in supplying high quality products at affordable prices to the
nation but the high inflation and high cost of currency might make this
objective difficult to achieve," he said.
To stay afloat, Datlabs is looking at toll manufacturing for external
companies that are expected to pay for the company's goods in foreign
External companies will be required to provide their raw materials that will
then be processed into finished products by the company. These products will
be paid for in foreign currency.
"We are already talking to various customers who are interested in such an
arrangement. We are waiting for approval of our toll manufacturing
agreements from the RBZ. Our quality standards are well known in the region
and there is interest from some companies to go into this arrangement," Moyo
"Since we are a critical industry and availability or shortages of some of
our products in hospitals can literally make a difference between life and
death to patients, we are doing all we can to ensure that we stay in
production," he added.
He was hopeful that his company would soon benefit from the recently
introduced Interbank Currency System saying that most bankers understood the
strategic nature of Datlabs.
"We also hope to win international pharmaceutical tenders as these might
assist in our foreign currency requirements," he said without specifying the
amount of money that was needed by the company to operate at full capacity.
Datlabs imports various pharmaceutical raw materials for use in life-saving
products, pharmaceutical, other healthcare and personal range products.It
also imports Viaflex bags for the manufacture of Large Volume Parenterals
(drips) as well as Anti-Retrovirals.
In March this year, RBZ Governor Dr Gideon Gono visited Datlabs factories in
Bulawayo where he was informed that for the company to make Panadol
(tablets) only, it needed 16 different ingredients which have to be
By Foster Dongozi
THE $90 billion Senate elections scheduled for Saturday will not benefit
ordinary Zimbabweans and will fuel inflation, further worsening living
conditions, analysts and politicians have warned.
When the first Senate was abolished in 1987, Zanu PF MPs broke into song and
dance, celebrating its demise.
The same people are now calling for its resuscitation in what is believed to
be a brazen attempt to return some ruling party stalwarts to the feeding
trough where posh vehicles and millions of dollars in salaries, allowances
and perks are expected to be the order of the day.
National Constitutional Assembly chairman, Lovemore Madhuku, said the Senate
in its proposed form, had no tangible benefits for Zimbabweans.
He said: "This is just an exercise designed to accommodate senior Zanu PF
officials who have fallen on hard times at the expense of the majority of
Zimbabweans. It is Mugabe's way of ensuring that all his cronies have a
piece of the cake so that when he comes to dealing with the succession
issue, there will be no disgruntlement and that will see everybody closing
ranks and supporting him."
The combative Madhuku said while the idea of a Senate which would check
excessive powers of the executive was noble, the one being presented by Zanu
PF was no more than a ploy to plunder and would drive the economy to the
He said: "We cannot afford to have a Senate at a time when the people are
struggling to feed, clothe and educate their children. The extent of hunger
ravaging people in urban and rural areas has not been sufficiently
publicized but there is a disaster out there."
He said in a democracy, a Senate would have the powers to approve or reject
appointments made by the President to avoid nepotism and patronage.
Madhuku said: "But in this case, the President would make his decisions with
nobody to counter him. Such an Upper House would normally accommodate
interest groups but there is no provision for minority groups like people of
mixed race and interest groups like the disabled."
Morgan Tsvangirai, president of the Movement for Democratic Change, said it
was insensitive for the government to embark on a Senate election when civil
servants were living from hand to mouth.
"Members of the police and teachers are going to be at the forefront of
conducting the Senate elections but the irony lies in the fact that they are
some of the worst paid workers. That is why I have embarked on a Senate
boycott campaign so that the money is used to raise salaries for them. Our
hospitals have no medicines; the government cannot buy drugs for people
affected by HIV and Aids. The money should go towards acquiring drugs and
feeding Zimbabweans who are suffering from hunger."
A women's pressure organization, Woman of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) issued a
statement condemning the Senate elections, which are expected to attract
record low attendances because of apathy and Tsvangirai's call for a
The statement reads in part: "Government is spending $90 billion on Senate
elections when millions of Zimbabweans are starving. The government does not
listen when we tell them we are penniless, homeless, jobless, hungry, and
thirsty and cannot afford to educate our children. So we must tell them
through our boycott that they must put the needs of millions of ordinary
people above the needs of 80 politicians and their selfishness."
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) secretary general, Wellington
Chibebe, also urged the government to embark on policies that benefit the
population and workers.
"The Senate will not benefit anybody except the few politicians who are
going to sit in that chamber. Zimbabweans in general will continue to suffer
as they would have to be taxed more in order to feed and sustain the
Senators. People living with HIV and AIDS at the moment can not access or
afford Anti-Retroviral drugs and we call on the government to consider
issues that affect more people instead of looking after the interests of a
Chibebe said a government that cared about the welfare of its citizens would
have channelled all the resources towards feeding a nation which was
experiencing food shortages.
By Godfrey Mutimba
ABOUT 2 000 cattle have died in Masvingo province in past few months because
of drought, anthrax and black leg diseases, throwing the government's
efforts to replenish the national herd into disarray, The Standard has
Masvingo's provincial herd is estimated at 8 000 cattle.
Apart from diseases and drought, the national restocking programme has also
been derailed by the shortage of foreign currency and fuel currently
affecting the country.
Masvingo provincial veterinary services director, Charity Sibanda, confirmed
last week that drought and foreign currency were impacting negatively on the
acquisition of vaccines.
"The major problem is the critical shortage of water as most boreholes are
dry, down or malfunctioning and something must be done urgently," said
She added, "The acute shortage of foreign currency is inhibiting us from
addressing the situation because we are not able to go and vaccinate the
Drought alone has so far claimed 909 cattle in Masvingo while Anthrax
claimed138 beasts. Black leg killed 789 cattle in all the seven districts of
The areas affected most by drought and anthrax were in Zaka where 514 cattle
died in a space of three months. Black leg disease is most prevalent in
Drought claimed 513 cattle in Zaka, 202 in Chivi, 80 in Chiredzi, Gutu 24,
Masvingo 40, and 50 reportedly died in Mwenezi.
By our staff
TEN families are squatting at a house in Harare's
Sunningdale suburb after the government destroyed their houses under
The yard resembles a refugee camp with make-shift
shelters and shacks fashioned from just about any material surrounding the
main house. An overpowering smell associated with an unclean environment
lingers in the air.
When The Standard visited the house last week, a
woman with a baby strapped to her back crawled from a shelter made from
plastic sheeting. From several other shacks, people crawled in and out while
children in various state of undress frolicked in the mud.
At regular intervals, water could be heard flushing
down the toilet system.
Amid reports of disease outbreaks and reported
deaths of children in many urban centres in the country, the house in
Sunningdale is a disaster waiting to happen.
A woman, who identified herself as Amai Leon,
described life at the house as a nightmare.
"I am a victim of Operation Murambatsvina and we had
no option but to come and squat at this house when our house in Chitungwiza
was destroyed," the woman told The Standard.
"The owners are related to my husband and that is
how we ended here. We are living like animals and we hope the government can
come to our rescue by providing decent accommodation," she said as she wiped
sweat cascading down her face.
She shares a shack made of polythene sheeting with
her husband and their three-year-old son.
The woman added that the conditions at the house
posed a serious health hazard to inhabitants and she feared a possible
outbreak of cholera.
Anilliah Masaraure, the Combined Harare Residents'
Association's co-ordinator said the suffering at the Sunningdale house
reflected the general conditions created by the Zanu PF government when it
embarked on the "Operation Murambatsvina" in May.
"People are suffering and it is such a sad situation
to see more than two dozen people using one toilet. This exposes them and
their children to diseases," she said.
Even though HIV and Aids pandemic continues to be a
major problem in Zimbabwe, several women at the house are reported to have
resorted to prostitution for survival.
Outspoken Harare businessman, Paddington Japajapa,
suggested government should declare a state of emergency in the light of the
deteriorating situation in the housing and water delivery situation.
He said: "President Mugabe has been spending
billions of dollars traveling all over the world. He should immediately stop
his globe trotting and channel all the money towards building houses for the
homeless and buying chemicals and equipment to improve water delivery."
Zimbabwe is facing a health disaster which has been
created by a combination of government interference in local government
administration and the after effects of the ill-conceived "Operation
Murambatsvina" now derisively referred to as "Murambavanhu" (anti-people).
The HIV and Aids pandemic is wreaking havoc on the
population with nearly one million people desperately needing
However, only 12 000 people are receiving the
life-saving drugs amid calls that the government was not treating the
pandemic as an urgent issue.
At Hopley Farm, a refugee camp for internally
displaced people, there are 34 cases of chronically ill people who are
cramped into the camp where they live under unhygienic conditions.
LAST week's acceptance of assistance from the United Nations by the
government in providing shelter to almost a million victims of the ruthless
"Operation Murambatsvina/Drive out filth" throughout the country must not
just end at people rendered homeless and destitute.
There is need, on the part of the government, to extend any assistance of
food aid to nearly half the country's population that is desperately in need
of food between now and the next harvest.
The government last week finally woke up to the reality of the paucity of
its own resources in trying to reverse the Khmer Rouge-type destruction it
unleashed in May against defenceless Zimbabweans, mainly in urban areas and
agreed to an estimated US$20 million UN programme for construction of 20 000
Initially, the government had declared: "There is no longer a compelling
need to provide temporary shelter as there is no humanitarian crisis." But
everyone else outside the government was aware the argument could not be
sustained, especially after six months of the government's failure to meet
even its own self-imposed housing targets. Thankfully last week Harare bowed
down to reality and did the right thing by asking for the UN's assistance,
even though the UN aid is already being exploited by the ruling party as a
campaign platform for next Saturday's Senate elections.
But better late than never. The people have suffered beyond imagination. But
it is hoped that the government will review its piecemeal approach to
tackling problems facing the country. The assistance and expertise from the
UN should be utilised in tackling the threats to health resulting from
inadequate supply of clean water and an overloaded and poorly maintained
sewerage system, even though these can be attributed to absence of
commitment to providing adequate services to residents and ratepayers. There
is no foreign currency required to ensure that blocked sewerage systems such
as those witnessed daily in Chitungwiza and the high-density suburbs of
Harare are attended to expeditiously.
It also does not require considerable effort and resources to ensure that
more boreholes pumping water from the Nyamandhlovu aquifer are rehabilitated
so that industries and residents of Bulawayo have improved access to water.
It also does not require specialised knowledge to realise that the problems
of water in the capital can be linked directly to the lack of commitment to
undertake construction of the Kunzvi Dam, which was mooted nearly a decade
ago. Both the Nyamandlovu aquifer and Kunzvi require commitment from and
implementation by the government.
An example of the lack of commitment from the government was demonstrated by
the Minister of Health and Child Welfare last week. Confronted with an
outbreak of dysentery and diarrhoea in Chitungwiza and Harare, the minister
proposed the establishment of an inter-ministerial committee to look into
the public health crisis. A committed response would have been to send in
teams to deal directly with the burst sewerage system, while investigating
why the local authorities are so lethargic in responding to reports of
blocked or burst sewerage systems.
Harare Central Hospital recorded 74 cases of diarrhoeal diseases since
August while Chitungwiza Central Hospital registered 43 cases of dysentery
during the last few weeks. That is enough evidence to mobilise all available
resources to deal with the emergency immediately, while ensuring improved
water supplies to the area because recourse to shallow wells is partly the
reason for the sudden increase in the outbreak of diseases.
Another demonstration of lack of political will and commitment to improving
what this country inherited at independence was the unwitting admission by
the Minister of Information and Publicity, Dr Tichaona Jokonya, while on the
Senate campaign trail last week. Addressing voters in Chikomba constituency,
Jokonya said: "I know some of you were saying where is the person we
elected, but I was not feeling well.
"The President asked me why I don't go to South Africa for treatment. I went
there and stayed for three weeks. I want to thank President Mugabe too, I am
now ok." That was an admission that the government has all along led the
nation up the garden path with its professed time-specific commitment to
"Health for All by the year ." slogan.
In suggesting that the government extends acceptance of UN assistance to
food aid, we are driven by increasing reports of children and the elderly
and sick who are fainting at school, and dying of malnutrition-related
illnesses respectively throughout the country. Children are dropping out of
school because of hunger and because they cannot concentrate on lessons.
We all know the government does not have the resources to buy food on the
international market. There is no difference between the humanitarian crisis
spawned by "Operation Murambatsvina" and the widespread reports of hunger.
Zimbabweans deserve better. The government should have the courage to ask
for UN assistance in feeding the estimated 5 million Zimbabweans at risk.
IF an epitaph were to be written about the Harare Municipality, the words
would be germane: "Here lies the once robust council, that was the golden
hand behind the Sunshine City of the eighties, which proudly embraced an
indigenous motto - Pamberi nekushandira vanhu".
Today the same can not be said of our city. The city now labours for the
town clerk and his executives.
What a shameful way to celebrate our silver jubilee, with the city in a
comatose state - thanks to the man at the top at Town House, the town clerk.
The city has gravitated from the milestone it used to be in comparison with
other proud African cities to the present day millstone.
A millstone, because back in the 1980s and the early 1990s, the city was run
smoothly by an erudite team of executives, patriotic enough to put the city
first and also paying city workers wholesome salaries, as well as taking
care of their health and safety needs in various council departments. A
millstone because, the city workers got their pay slips a week earlier but
also made amendments with the salaries section if there was anything wrong
on the pay slip.
Indeed, a millstone because back then, the council workers union worked in
harmony with the town clerk and his executive, which at times gave more than
what the union bargained for, hence the worker had no option or reason not
to deliver. That was then, and look at the picture today. The council is
desolate and has become a millstone.
It is a millstone, because the town clerk and his executive only think of
themselves first. The city council works for them. They have usurped the
title "City Father". The Harare City Council is, rightfully speaking, their
They are ransacking the city on a daily basis; look at the amount spent on
an unproductive trip to Moscow. Almost US$30 000, while workers are being
paid peanuts amid the ever-rising cost of living. To add salt to the wound,
the town clerk and his executive have an executive payroll, which has
awarded them open-ended salaries and perks each such as billion-dollar
Prados, or 4 x 4s, transport allowances, housing allowances, school fees for
The town clerk and his entire executive are a walking disaster. They need
reminding that in order to provide clean water you do not need politics but
professionalism. Equally to pay better salaries to fellow employees no
political will is needed. Surely one cannot state that council can only pay
a sympathy percentage of 25 - 30%. What sympathy when workers provide a
service? Council is not a humanitarian organization.
It is fallacious for the town clerk to say council cannot honour the 120%
awarded by the Labour Tribunal, while the same council forks out billions
for a trip to Moscow, who knows one day the town clerk might fork out money
to go to the moon? Welcome to reality. Pamberi nekushandira town clerk nema
Tired and frustrated worker
THIS is an open letter to the Vice Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe.
For too long students at this oldest and highest institution of learning
have been anticipating positive change.
They have watched in anguish, profound pain and pity, yet their concerns
have been met with deafening silence.
The administration has turned the University of Zimbabwe into a "House of
Hunger". The administration has managed to oppress, suppress and repress the
students in an endeavour to transform the institution into a high school.
The ancient voices of Judah and the blood of Hope and others call on us to
rise from our deep and slumberous oppression. Let it be known to the Vice
Chancellor that when the students respond, it shall be with the venom of a
puff adder, coupled with the strength of a hippo.
You may wonder why students harbour such hard feelings and ideas, but our
question today and tomorrow remains: Where, amidst the economic situation in
this country can a student survive on $1.9 million for four months? At the
current rate of inflation, how many days can a non-resident student come to
attend lessons and how come the Vice Chancellor is oblivious to all these
Has the Vice Chancellor ever bothered to pause for a moment about the plight
of our brothers and colleagues who had to abandon their studies and return
home because they could not secure accommodation on or near the campus?
Has the Vice Chancellor ever bothered to check where some of the students
are putting up in order to make ends meet? For his information, some are
sleeping in the basketball and tennis courts or the unhealthy common rooms.
The Vice Chancellor will be unaware of this and I don't think he cares,
because if he does he would long have taken steps to do something about it.
The fact that he has not speaks volumes about his concern for the welfare of
students on campus.
It is a shame that those in administration can go about in expensive
state-of-the art vehicles when students confront such hardships. One of the
reasons for this neglect is that most of the children of our leaders do not
go to local universities; otherwise the Vice Chancellors would have been
aware and most probably would have acted on the hardships that students
By Ndamu Sandu
THE venue was the deluxe Sheraton Hotel. The occasion - the pre-budget
meeting organised by the National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF).
Sit back relax as business leaders fire a salvo on government. Business
leaders were all over the show blasting government for its poor planning and
inconsistencies. NECF chairman Robbie Mupawose set the tone in his opening
remarks saying there was no proper planning to revive agriculture.
"I don't believe we will get the turn around if agriculture is not
performing," Mupawose said.
The NECF boss said the pre-planting price was still to be announced contrary
to recommendations made by Charles Utete in the land review report.
"There are trillions given to agriculture but where is the money," Mupawose
Economic Development Minister Rugare Gumbo blamed Zimbabwe's economic
problems on economic and travel sanctions imposed the Washington Brussels on
President Robert Mugabe and his lieutenants.
Gumbo said: "Lets not be simplistic about these things. Let us bare in mind
that we are operating under unique conditions."
But Mupawose retorted: "I often wonder what you are doing about those
sanctions .surely sanctions can be circumvented. We are suffering
consequences of your inaction."
Then enter Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa with his keynote address.
"Successive droughts have imposed an enormous challenge to the economy,"
But Ariston MD Kumbirai Katsande could not believe Murerwa. He dismissed the
drought card saying, "Israel has been producing food in the desert. We
continue talking about the drought . it is irritating and it shows that we
are not serious". Katsande further questioned why there has been no board
Commenting on the land tenure, Katsande said: "I have not heard any
government official saying about it other than the RBZ Governor."
Luxon Zembe, the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) president said
there was need to liberalise the rest of the economy other than the exchange
rate. Zembe blasted the skewed policies whereby civil servants had access to
visas to travel to South Africa as compared to business executives.
Zembe said: "A messenger in government does not need a visa to go to South
Africa but Joe Mutizwa Delta CEO can go and sleep in the queue to get a
Affirmative Action Group (AAG) President Keith Guzah implored government to
cut on the civil service and have a small group, which it can pay
handsomely. But Guzah had something up his sleeves calling for Border Gezi
camps to be introduced for business executives "because of lack of
Zembe responded: "Business does not need Border Gezi camps for we have
bodies that deal with us. If it is corporate governance the Institute of
Directors can deal with us."
Former Finance supremo Simba Makoni said Zimbabweans had to be honest and
truthful. Makoni differed with Murerwa on the drought blame saying, "last
year we (Zimbabwe) got more rains than 1992 but in 1992 we produced more.
Routinely we resolve to do things and routinely we don't do things we
resolved to do."
He said there was need for the creation of an environment where there is
clarity in government policies.
"Today we are not privatising and tomorrow we are privatising," Makoni said.
Makoni said Zimbabwe's index of diversification was plummeting reducing the
country to primary producers. Responding to the high levels of
de-industrialisation David Chapfika, deputy minister of Finance said: "You
(Makoni) made true but disheartening observation on de-industrialisation."
Chapfika adopted the blame game saying the advent of MDC came with some
pains to the economy. When Makoni asked for an elaboration, Chapfika said
the MDC was "campaigning for sanctions on Zimbabwe saying there were land
invasions and takeover of companies".
"Who was believed, you (Chapfika) or the MDC," Makoni further asked.
Chapfika replied: "We won but there was visible hostility."
As delegates trooped out of the plush hotel after a three -course meal what
was ringing on their minds was whether their views would be incorporated in
the 2006 budget. If Murerwa does not walk the talk on 1 December Wednesday's
consultative meeting will just be another talk show.
By Ndamu Sandu
AIR Zimbabwe board last week read the riot act on management in the first
step towards the resuscitation of the ailing parastatal.
Board members Mike Bimha (chairman) and Luxon Zembe (chairman of human
resources committee) met Air Zimbabwe top management and spelt out what
should be done to arrest the accelerating decline in the performance of the
The Tuesday meeting was the result of the board's decision a fortnight ago
over the manner in which the parastatal was operating.
A fortnight ago, the national carrier's board held its inaugural meeting
where it was felt that the parastatal was not properly run.
The new board was appointed in July with a mandate to steer the Air Zimbabwe
ship. Other members are Virginia Mudimu, Andrew Bvumbe, Jonathan Kadzura,
Betserai Madzivire, Judith Madzorera, Phillip Mhike and Joyce Kazembe. Bimha
told Standardbusiness last week that the board had instructed management to
shake up or ship out.
"We felt that we needed to appraise management on a number of issues and we
told management that they had to perform or go," Bimha said.
"Those who do not want to perform will have to go," he added.
Bimha said the board also raised its concern on the changes in flight
schedules without the consent of the board and prior announcement to
Bimha said: "We have had complaints from passengers and stakeholders on
unexplained delays and changes in flight schedules which the board and
passengers didn't know."
Bimha said the board felt there was need to do a cost benefit analysis on
"We will evaluate the regional stations to see whether they are giving us a
return and if they do not we will close some of them to reduce costs," he
Bimha said the Air Zimbabwe board was now meeting monthly instead of
quarterly indabas as it (the board) felt more work needed to be done to
restore glamour at the airline.
"We are having monthly board meetings and board committees are meeting twice
every month," Bimha said.
Air Zimbabwe has been in the news, albeit for the wrong reasons. In May the
airline broke aviation records by flying a single passenger from Dubai.
The 205-seater Boeing 737 plane flew to Dubai with 49 passengers against 120
passengers the airline needs to break even.
The move drew the ire of Vice President Joice Mujuru who is in charge of
parastatals. At a charged meeting at her Munhumutapa offices, Mujuru
threatened that heads would roll if the national carrier did not reform.
Nothing has happened so far six months down the line.
Sundaytalk with Pius Wakatama
ACCORDING to Zanu PF, life is what you make it and those in the ruling party
have made it, especially the chefs. Phillip Chiyangwa was in the know.
Long ago, he told us: "If you want to be rich, join Zanu PF." Who can beat
his rags-to-riches story? He must have misstepped somewhere because we don't
hear much from his loud and bombastic self these days.
Yes, Zanu PF is all about acquiring, by fair means or foul, as much material
wealth as possible.
When the freedom fighters came back from the bush and were hailed as true
heroes, they had nothing. The majority of them wore tattered clothes and put
on ill-fitting hand-me-downs from well-wishers. Today, two and half decades
later, if you look at their before and after pictures you will swear they
are not the same people. They are well-dressed, well-fed with fat necks like
Those who are regarded by the Big Man as "Amadhodha sibili", real men are
still joining up to grab the few remaining productive farms from
"unrepentant Rhodesian white farmers". They are, in this way, instant
millionaires and billionaires. The Governor of the Reserve Bank, Dr Gideon
Gono can scream himself hoarse about them being "criminals who are
destroying the economy" but nobody is taking him seriously.
He was brought in to give the rogue government a sense of respectability to
hoodwink the International Monetary Fund and the international community
into believing that Zimbabwe was at last embarking on the path to
transparency and economic reform. Gono bragged that as far as he was
concerned failure was not an option.
Now that he has failed dismally his face is all egg. The government is not
behind his so-called turnaround policies and strategies.
Unfortunately Gono has made enemies of hard-working and honest Zimbabweans
who have lost billions and billions of dollars because of his rash closure
of indigenous banks.
Suddenly dealing in scarce foreign currency on the parallel market was a
crime when for years; the government had turned a blind eye to such
necessary activities. Since he was a banker himself, one wonders how he
could have kept himself clean. One day the truth will come out, especially
if he insists on calling Zanu PF stalwarts, who grab farms, they perceive to
be rightfully theirs, criminals.
Does Gono know that Zanu PF chefs are above the law if they are in good
books with you-know-who? Didn't he read The Herald headline which some
months ago screamed: Mutasa has case to answer. Since he now meddles in
everything, why doesn't he ask what happened to that case?
I could go on and on and talk about other more serious cases which
disappeared into thin air, but what's the use?
To sum up the lawless Zanu PF mentality and culture of impunity I will
repeat a story I have often told. This guy had been arrested for selling
dagga (marijuana/cannabis). While being taken to the police station in a
police truck he saw a relative and asked the driver to stop. He then shouted
to the relative: "Pitiros! Pitiros! Kana waenda kumusha unovaudza kuti
ndakasungwa nembanje. Asi ngavarege kutya zvavo nekuti kadhi reZanu
Translated, he said: "When you return to the rural areas, tell them I have
been arrested for having dagga. But, they should not worry because I have my
Zanu PF membership card." Yes, the Zanu PF membership card is now a licence
to break the law with impunity. It is also a ticket to the much sought after
maize meal at the Grain Marketing Board depots.
But I digress. Where was I? Yes, I was talking about "Amadhodha sibili", who
are tough and don't care about anybody but themselves. Not weaklings like
Jairos Jiri, who never made it to Heroes' Acre. He died a poor man when in
his lifetime he handled millions, if not billions of dollars. No, he did not
recklessly squander the money. He worked hard and begged for money to house,
feed, educate and seek medical treatment for Zimbabwe's disadvantaged
children. Most of them are now productive and highly educated members of our
society. When he died, the whole country and indeed the world mourned him.
He is Zimbabwe's most known philanthropist. However, he was not buried at
the Heroes' Acre because our Zanu PF government has other values. He did not
physically fight in the war of liberation.
To me and to most level-headed Zimbabweans, Jiri was a true hero. Another
one of my unsung heroes is my old friend, the jovial Professor Stanlake
Samkange. He was a key founder of Nyatsime College - the first and only
black-run secondary school in the colonial era. Starting, funding and
running the school was a Herculean task in the colonial era. Under
repressive white rule the obstacles were many. Today, Nyatsime graduates are
leaders in all spheres of life in Zimbabwe and abroad.
Just before independence Dr Samkange and his witty African-American wife, Dr
Tommy Marie Samkange, co-authored the book Hunuism/Ubuntuism, which is
indeed a masterpiece. It is definitely not about our present day "Amadhodha
sibili". The thesis of the book is that Zimbabwe has an indigenous political
philosophy or ideology imbedded in its culture which can best guide and
inspire thinking in this new era. They believed that this philosophy or
ideology of "Hunhu/Ubuntu" could serve the new nation of Zimbabwe better
than foreign ideologies of capitalism, socialism, fascism or
Marxist-Leninist or Maoist Communism.
In the book, they say: "In spite of everything, we are heirs to a great
inheritance - a magnificent country. Nature and the sweat and toil of all
our people - black, white and brown have bequeathed to us and made us
custodians of one of the finest countries on God's earth. Our problem,
indeed most of the problems of the human race, stems from our inability to
accept the brotherhood of man regardless of colour, creed or race. The
destruction of the psychological, legal and all artificial barriers that
divide us, as human beings, into antagonistic black, white and brown must be
the first priority. Unless we eradicate the myths that divide us, we condemn
ourselves to eternal fratricide. Our aim must be to build a single nation of
free men and women: black, white and brown enjoying a way of life enriched
by the diversity of their backgrounds."
The meaning of "Hunhu/Ubuntu" is summed up in the saying in Shona," Munhu,
munhu nevanhu" and in Ndebele, "Muntu, umuntu ngabantu". In essence this
means a human being is human or humane in as much as he regards other human
beings and having the good qualities of human beings as kindness, mercy or
compassion and respect for the law.
I sincerely believe that had the indigenous philosophy or ideology of
"Hunhu/Ubuntu" been discussed, propagated and tried, we would not be in the
mess we are today. Because we have lost "Hunhu/Ubuntu" we have lost our
humaneness and therefore we now live by the violent law of the jungle, like
Because of our lack of "Hunhu/Ubuntu" we are surely destroying one of the
finest countries on God's earth. The whole world now looks at us aghast. The
only thing which is growing in Zimbabwe is the list of our real and mostly
First, it was the local white farmers, then the British, the Americans, the
European Union, Australia, New Zealand, the Commonwealth, the African Union,
Nigeria, the United Nations and lately South Africa. Who will be next on the
He, who has ears to hear, let him hear.
sundayopinion by Priscilla Mishairabwi-Mushonga
WHEN I became active in the women's movement one of the people I found in
that space was Everjoice Win, who over the years has become a close friend.
Then, her favourite statement was: "Sweetie, decisions are made by those who
That statement compels me to participate in the current debate about the
developments in my party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
On the other hand the debate on the decision to participate or not in the
coming Senate elections is a simplistic way of addressing symptoms of other
underlying problems and not-so-public issues within the party.
While one cannot deny that there is general lethargy and dislike of
elections, largely as a result of fatigue from electioneering, the trauma
that elections in Zimbabwe have caused, I still have considerable
difficulties appreciating arguments proffered by those calling for a
Firstly, the proponents of boycotting argue that participating in the Senate
elections is legitimizing Zanu PF. The question that I ask is: If the past
three elections did not achieve that for Zanu PF, what is it about these
elections that will change world opinion on the government of Zimbabwe.
The second commonly argued position is that the senatorial elections are a
costly exercise. The whole rage is purportedly justified in that those who
support participation are supporting the squandering of scarce resources
that the country desperately needs but which could be channeled towards
improvement of civil service salaries, health care and fuel.
Without these Senate elections, goes the logic, Zanu PF will make a saving
and patriotically allocate the resources to the needy areas and that Zanu PF
will not buy luxury cars for the Senators and that no celebrations will be
held for winning the Senate seats unopposed. I need convincing that this
government, with its history of prioritizing selfish and self-serving
projects will now invest in health care, fuel, food, water if we boycott the
Senate elections. Dream on!
The other argument, which for me is classic is that because President Robert
Mugabe already has 16 seats, there is therefore no point in participating
when you know you cannot secure a majority. While this is true of the seats
already in the kitty, I ask what then the merits were for participating in
the 2000 and 2005 parliamentary elections where a similar arrangement, 30
seats reserved, existed. Most fundamentally, the overriding principle in
this argument is that the MDC should only participate in elections in which
they are assured of becoming a government.
Our detractors have, with some degree of success, told the world that those
of us in the MDC are only driven by one motive - that of removing Mugabe
from power. I want to argue that the quest for change for some of us is
embodied in our slogan "Chinja Maitiro". The change referred to is not
confined to only changing leaders or the Constitution, but changing systems
and values. It is about being at the centre of creating a new Zimbabwe.
What we also don't seem to get from those arguing for a boycott is, what is
the alternative strategy other than agitating for constitutional change if
elections are not an option. What would be our position in the event that
Mugabe resigns and calls for an election? Will Joice Mujuru get in without a
The period before the 2005 elections witnessed robust debate on the same
question: participation or not participating. The difference with the
current debating space is its intoxication and degeneration into
name-calling, abuse, death threats, the violence and the utter viciousness
The only logical explanation, in my view is that what is at stake is not a
few individuals in Parliament, but the control and ownership of the MDC.
What we are witnessing are power games at play. The real issue is political
The MDC congress is set for February next year. Congresses are about
elections and consequently about leadership change. The period before
congress is for canvassing, lobbying and jockeying for positions. By nature
this results in alignments and realigning based on a number of factors,
including gender, class, background and more dangerously regional alliances.
The Senate elections come at the peak of political maneouvering. Whilst
campaigning for political power is expected and accepted, what becomes
important is how individuals and institutions manage that period in a manner
that reflects the inherent values not only of individuals but the
institutions. How individuals seek to either maintain or change the power
politics in the organisation reflects and provides useful insight into how
they would manage political contestation at a national level.
There certainly has been an attempt by some individuals to privatize the
struggle. Utterances such as: "I am the MDC, without me there is no MDC",
are in fact anti-free choice and deny people their right to choose a leader.
Is this any different from the utterances of the former defence chief
General Vitalis Zvinavashe who on the eve of the 2002 elections declared
that the defence forces of Zimbabwe would not salute anyone who does not
have war credentials.
It is scary that in the name self-preservation, MDC members are now singing
the same songs that, in the past, were targeted at the MDC, with the only
difference this time being that they are targeting party colleagues. There
is just a certain vocabulary that we do not need in MDC. Sell out,
mafikizolo, puppets, among other words, should never constitute the
vocabulary for persons wishing democracy to prevail.
This leads me to the point of ethnic dimension the debate has assumed. In
analyzing the voting patterns at the last MDC council meeting, what is
striking is those provinces that have experienced the most vicious brutality
by Zanu PF such as Matabeleland and the Midlands - especially during the
Gukurahundi era - voted for participation. Even in the initial "yes" vote
from Manicaland, a province that traditionally has experienced both
political and development marginalization, one notes a peculiar pattern.
I argue that while these areas have endured Zanu PF brutality they also have
a history of contesting and controlling political space and scoring
victories. The ZAPU and Ndonga eras bear testimony to this. It did not
matter to them being a minority but what was important was showing
resistance, hence politics of boycott are a new phenomenon to them and not
easily understood and accepted.
While most of Manicaland and Masvingo have always experienced total Zanu PF
domination, ceding political space to Zanu PF, is a more attractive option.
Clearly voting patterns have nothing to do with people being sell-outs or
revolutionaries. They are informed by lived realities; they are about past
experiences and engagements with the status quo.
What is of concern, however, is the abuse I have heard in recent days
directed at Ndebeles. People who during the past campaigns would speak so
highly of the late Dr Joshua Nkomo have now started calling Professor
Welshman Ncube "a Joshua Nkomo, a sell-out, a compromiser". How can anyone
who has been to Nkayi and witnessed the trauma those people have gone
through in challenging Mugabe, have the audacity to even begin to insinuate
that their victory was a donation.
Most fundamentally the way the Matabeleland issue has been handled in this
debate raises unresolved ethnic issues of the relationship between the
people from Mashonaland and those from Matabeleland, their role in the MDC
and overall the space accorded to them as Zimbabweans and full citizens.
Pretending these are not issues is behaving like an ostrich.
My final point is on the role of Zanu PF in the crisis and how it has used
the media to divide and ultimately destroy the MDC. The State media has only
one role, which is to advance the interests of Zanu PF and ensure that Zanu
PF becomes the one and only political party in this country. If featuring
Paul Themba Nyathi, and writing about Ncube expedites the split in the MDC
they will do it. It was a calculated high level intelligence operation. It
started at the formation of the MDC and indeed the media has kept its eye on
the ball. An example is how in the recent days the State media has sought to
misrepresent the South
Continued on Pg 11
African visit and make it look like a collusion between Ncube and Mbeki, yet
that was partly a Mbeki agenda, aimed at remaining relevant in the Zimbabwe
crisis, albeit by being seen to be concerned about MDC.
Having set that context, four issues emerge from that political
contestation: Congress agenda campaigning and leadership change; Leadership
style and values; Ethnicity; and Zanu PF's role and the use of the State
From a purely feminist perspective, both my private and public position on
participation in the Senate was that it served no real purpose in advancing
the women's cause. I felt that among its other evils, the fact that Zanu PF
had chosen to disregard an inclusion of either a quarter or for proportional
representation, which would allow for more women representation was a
demonstration of how unimportant the issue of women's rights and empowerment
was to Zanu PF. I made this point both outside and inside the MDC.
However, like many others who were anti-participation I lost when the vote
was taken in the National Council. Why then are those who are
anti-participation considering me an undesirable element. I argue that it is
precisely because the current events are not about the Senate.
sundayfocus ByTakura Zhangazha
THE President of Zimbabwe attended the World Summit on Information
Society (WSIS) in Tunisia, with what one might assume is a straight face.
The State-controlled Herald newspaper noted on its front page on 15
November 2005, that the President has been in the forefront of ensuring that
"information and communication technology reaches all corners of the country
by donating computers and accessories to primary and secondary schools."
I suppose it is well and good that the President was keen on attending
the WSIS perhaps in recognition of his philanthropic spree across his
favourite parts of the country, yet there seems to be a catch, if not a
coincidence to this charade. First of all, the President's donations of
computers ( and please don't read this to mean ICTs in the WSIS sense) are
said to have had the setback that there seems to be no electricity, let
alone functional telephone connections, in some of the schools they were
donated to! Interesting, then, that the President, for all his advisers,
might not have had the foresight to see the necessity of having electricity
or telecommunication in order for his technology crusade to take effect.
Added to this, is the ostensible truth that the President's efforts
are a far cry from what the WSIS actually set out as targets to be achieved
both by the year 2005, (the summit of which he has now attended) as well as
before the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG's). And this
is perhaps what needs to be explained both to the President, government and
those who write stories in newspapers, in a celebratory manner without
understanding the significance of the summit or conference the Head of State
The World Summit on the Information Society is an initiative of the
International Telecommunications Union (ITU) as well as the United Nations,
through its Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (UNESCO). Its
fundamental principle is to "build a people-centered, inclusive and
development oriented information society, where everyone can create, access,
utilize and share information and knowledge, enabling individuals,
communities, and peoples to achieve their full potential in promoting their
sustainable development and improving their quality of life, premised on the
purposes and principles of the Charter of the Untied Nations and respecting
fully and upholding, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights".
This, unbelievably, is a principle that Zimbabwe purports to uphold in
its laws and the practices of President Robert Mugabe's government. The
truth of the matter is that there is limited scope within which the
president of Zimbabwe can attend the WSIS summit and claim to be pursuing
the principles of the WSIS as well as its Plan of Action with the vigour and
commitment that UNESCO and International Telecommunications Union (ITU) had
in mind. Added to this, the government of Zimbabwe clearly is pandering to
international platforms by going to such a globally significant summit, and
once again attempting to hog the limelight.
All of this, whilst the computers of its President still have no
electric power and whilst the rest of the country is force-fed Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Holdings propaganda, with the only publicly owned
telecommunications company getting rid of public telephones, celebrating
astronomical costs of the internet and the majority of Zimbabweans without
access to a telephone connection.
Put more bluntly, the government of Zimbabwe and its leader, have no
moral authority to go to the WSIS against the backdrop of the manner in
which they have controlled the media and telecommunications in the country.
The literature on the repressive nature of the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA), the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA), the
Postal and Telecommunications Act (PTA) makes one shudder to even think that
these people have the temerity not only to attend, but try and lay claim to
credentials as purveyors of freedom of expression and information at this
Perhaps, and I only say this with the full knowledge that only the
Central Intelligence operatives will read this, it is important to attempt
to inform the government on what needs to be done in order for Zimbabwe to
meet the agreed to principles and plan of action of the WSIS. To begin with,
there is an urgent need to create new regulatory laws on the media and ICTs.
This would entail a merger of the broadcasting, telecommunications sector to
be regulated under an independent authority that will issue licences and
frequencies for all types of telecommunications in the country. This would
mean that all radio and television broadcasting, the Internet, telephones
and satellite broadcasting issues are regulated under one independent
statutory body established through a democratic and transparent Act of
Parliament. Such a situation would require the repealing of any legislation
that infringes on the right to freedom of expression/information as
enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and as according to
the principles of the WSIS.
In addition to this, there must be the fostering of a democratic
culture around information and access to it, especially if it is in the
public (not government) interest.
There is need to stop couching the use and availability of ICTs within
the framework of the pursuit of profit by either multinationals or their
representatives in Zimbabwe. Instead there must be a drive to retain public
obligation on the part of both government and the private sector in ensuring
they become a part of the drive to entrench access to information, freedom
of expression within the everyday lives of Zimbabweans.
Further still, and in conclusion, the government of Zimbabwe must
disabuse itself of the notion that ICTs refer solely to computers. When the
President travels half the country to distribute computers to schools and
claims to be leading an information revolution, he is not being honest. ICTs
are about radio, television, the Internet and telephones (fixed or mobile).
They are there for the people to use for the betterment of their lives
and not for the celebration of benevolence by a Head of State whose
government should, by now, have created a democratic environment for the
proliferation of freedom of information and expression.