Njabulo Ncube and Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporte
SA leader in Harare for talks with ZANU PF, MDC
SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki arrives in Harare today for crucial
meetings with ZANU PF and both factions of the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC), as he steps up a late bid to push the two sides to
reach a settlement before next month.
Mbeki's visit comes days after negotiators for the two sides held a fresh
round of talks in Pretoria. At these meetings, discussion centred on the
prevailing political climate in Zimbabwe, and opposition threats that its
participation in next year's elections is subject to the implementation of
key agreements concerning the voters' roll and the reform of the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (ZEC).
Mbeki's spokesman, Mukoni Ratshitanga, confirmed the South African leader's
"He will have consultations in Zimbabwe during a stopover on his way to the
Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Uganda. He will meet the
political leaders of ZANU PF and both factions of the MDC for a few hours,"
Sources privy to the secretive deliberations said Mbeki intends to attend
the December European Union-Africa Summit in Lisbon, Portugal, with a
comprehensive and positive report on the talks.
MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is unlikely to meet Mbeki as he is
already on a lobbying mission in Uganda, has accused the ruling ZANU PF of
being dishonest in its approach to the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) talks.
Mbeki, who was chosen by SADC to mediate in the dialogue, met both
Tsvangirai and rival faction leader Arthur Mutambara in Pretoria last
weekend. The two MDC leaders are said to have warned Mbeki of what the
opposition believes to be a ploy by the ruling party to use the talks to
gain legitimacy while continuing its repression against opponents.
Following his meeting with Mbeki, Tsvangirai, citing alleged political
violence against MDC supporters by state security agents and ruling party
supporters, told a meeting of his party's district officials on Sunday that
ZANU PF was yet to demonstrate its commitment to the process, whose goal is
to find common ground between the ruling party and the MDC so as to ensure a
free and fair poll.
"As a confidence-building measure the MDC expects tangible deliverables from
ZANU PF such as the cessation of violence and political persecutions," said
Tsvangirai. "All hostility must stop, the opposition must be allowed access
to the public media while independent newspapers must be allowed to
The MDC also expected the Public Order and Security Act, the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act and the Broadcasting Services Act
to be repealed so as to restore key freedoms, such as the right of assembly
"The MDC wants a new voters' roll, the constitution of a truly independent
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, and the provision of technical support for
the running and conduct of elections."
The MDC said these measures must include international monitoring and
observation of elections by SADC, the African Union and the United Nations.
The MDC also demanded a transparent delimitation exercise and electoral
ZANU PF's insincerity, the MDC has told Mbeki's mediators, had been exposed
by what it claimed was continuing violence by the ruling party as well as a
"non-transparent" voter registration and delimitation exercise conducted by
what it alleges to be biased electoral bodies.
Mbeki is anxious to expedite the dialogue process and deliver a free and
fair election which would not yield another contested outcome.
But the MDC has said it suspects an attempt is afoot to deceive Africa and
the rest of the world on the kind of progress made in the talks so far.
It was too early to judge the process, the opposition has said, and it would
be "unfortunate" if the forthcoming EU-Africa summit were used to "score
cheap diplomatic points" by "prematurely rewarding President Robert Mugabe
before he had delivered anything tangible on the ground".
The success of the SADC talks would only be measured by President Mugabe's
ability to deliver a free and fair electoral environment, said Tsvangirai.
Only a free and fair poll, he said, would address the legitimacy crisis
faced by the government and would be a major step towards a resolution of
Sources say at today's meetings, Mbeki is expected to brief President Mugabe
on how he believes the impasse that has hit the last leg of the talks can be
broken. Discussion will also centre on the major points agreed by both
parties at the last meetings in Pretoria.
The MDC, according to the sources, remains concerned over security and media
law reforms, ZANU PF's use of traditional leaders and food aid to sway the
rural vote, and the denial of the vote to non-resident Zimbabweans. ZANU PF
is, they said, still keen to discuss Western sanctions.
ZANU PF, on the other hand, will use new electoral laws it gazetted last
week to show it is committed to the process.
The Electoral Laws Amendment Act bars the police and army from working for
ZEC, as was the case in the past. Police are also no longer allowed into
polling stations, except when voting or when called to maintain order.
A prospective voter aggrieved by a constituency registrar can now approach
the magistrates' court for redress, and not ZEC. Voter registration would
now be a continuous exercise, and the voters' roll would only be closed a
day before nomination.
Presiding officers at polling stations are now required to make a public
count of ballot papers delivered to their stations before voting begins, and
ZEC now has powers to order a recount of votes on request. All parties will
be allowed equal access to the national broadcaster, the draft law says.
Sources said the MDC and ZANU PF would soon issue a joint statement
supporting the latest amendments, which would be their second agreement
after Constitutional Amendment Number 18.
A source said the negotiating team has refrained from putting a firm
deadline on the talks, but there was consensus that the process must be
concluded by year-end.
Rangarirai Mberi News Editor
A NEW currency could be launched within days, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
governor Gideon Gono announced yesterday.
Gono held a meeting with chief executive officers of banks and building
societies yesterday to discuss "logistical issues" on how the new currency
operation would be executed.
Gono had appeared to dampen speculation over an imminent currency change two
weeks ago when he told the Sunday Mail that the central bank's priority at
this time was to come to the aid of an industry devastated by the price war.
But yesterday, Gono said this remark had been made only to "entrap
Gono's refusal earlier this week to intervene directly in a cash shortage
that has hit the market over the past two weeks - saying he would wait and
see where the crisis led - helped fuel speculation a currency change was
Yesterday, Gono discussed with bank chief executives and Information
Technology personnel how a second currency switch in 15 months was likely to
impact on the financial sector.
"We have closely trailed the recent trends and studied the avenues through
which cash is being kept outside the formal systems, and time has now come
that swift measures be taken," Gono said.
The police have been briefed on the plans, he said.
He did not give a timetable for when he would strike, but he was quick to
warn against immediate suggestions that this meant he was merely looking to
scare cash back into the formal system.
Gono displayed samples of the new notes and marked-out maps to convince
"diehards who think the Reserve Bank could be bluffing".
The new round of currency changes, he said, would be "short and precise",
and a lot stricter than last year.
"This time around, questions will be asked on all bulk cash deposits to
certify source. Where no convincing proof is rendered, the money will be
frozen in zero interest anti-money laundering bonds for a minimum period of
five years pending further investigations."On Tuesday, Gono said he would
not directly intervene to end the deepening cash shortages, saying he found
it puzzling that there should be a shortage given the liquidity central bank
has pumped onto the market.
He said he believed intervening with additional cash injections would only
help what he believes is growing speculative activity.
The RBZ had, in fact, earlier planned to introduce new, higher denomination
notes. The bank is sitting on $20 trillion worth of $500 000 bearer cheques
it had been close to rolling out.
At the moment, there is $58 trillion in circulation.
Under the Basic Commodities Supply Side Intervention (Bacossi), which hands
out cheap credit to shore up businesses hit by the price cuts, the RBZ has
so far ploughed $10 trillion and US$13 trillion onto the market.
There is more liquidity coming out of a battery of farm subsidies the
central bank has also been handing out since mid-year. However, one analyst
said he believed that "inflation is now simply running faster than the
printing press", causing the cash crunch.
World record inflation forced RBZ into the first currency switch last year,
as computer systems failed to read the extra zeros while routine cash
transactions became impossible due to the increasingly huge amounts of bank
The first leg of the currency reforms in July last year saw the RBZ knocking
three zeros off the currency, introducing a new set of bills. The bills are
only bearer cheques, but the new phase will see the introduction of bank
"It seems government is determined to burn speculators big time this time
around," said a bank source who also revealed that police have been put on
standby for Sunrise 11. Added the source, "Police have been promised huge
bonuses for the exercise."
The Central Statistical Office this week said it had delayed the release of
October inflation numbers owing to difficulties in gathering data arising
from commodity shortages. However, Gono himself has said he expects
inflation to rise sharply over the short to medium term before any slowdown
can be expected.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
POLICE have obtained a warrant to search Attorney-General (A-G) Sobusa
Gula-Ndebele's office and home, as the screws continue to tighten on the
government's final prosecuting authority, The Financial Gazette established
A senior Harare magistrate, according to highly placed sources, this week
issued the search warrant against the A-G, who is facing serious allegations
of abusing his office.
But a few legal technicalities have delayed the police, who three weeks ago
recorded a statement from Gula-Ndebele, from pouncing on the former freedom
Police say Gula-Ndebele met former NMBZ Holdings deputy managing director
James Mushore and assured him that that a warrant for his arrest would be of
Mushore, who is facing charges of violating exchange control regulations and
the Immigration Act after fleeing from pursuing police through an
undesignated route, is out of custody on bail.
The issuing of the search warrant represents an escalation of the pressure
being brought to bear on the A-G to resign, which The Financial Gazette
reported on last week.
Gula-Ndebele is an ex-officio member of Parliament and Cabinet.
The A-G's lawyer, Welshman Ncube, yesterday denied knowledge of a warrant to
search his client's offices or residence. Police do not comment on warrants
issued against suspects.
Senior judiciary sources however, said a warrant had indeed been issued,
authorising the police to seize any documents they deem useful in
incriminating government's top law officer.
A source said the police hope the searches will yield enough evidence to
level and make more charges stick on the A-G.
Critics see Gula-Ndebele's problems as being part of ZANU PF's factional
ZANU PF insiders point out that Gula-Ndebele's position had always seemed
shaky because of his frosty relations with his immediate superior, Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa, and National Security Minister Didymus Mutasa.
Gula-Ndebele last year authorised the prosecution of Chinamasa on
obstruction of justice charges. Chinamasa, who was later cleared, had been
accused of attempting to force witnesses not to testify against Mutasa's
supporters, who were facing political violence charges.
James Kaunye, the key witness in the Chinamasa case, was to later claim in
court that he had been coerced by the A-G to testify against the Justice
Early this month, the prosecutor in the matter, Levison Chikafu, told The
Financial Gazette that he had been accused of "belonging to the Mujuru
Chikafu was arrested in April on allegations of accepting bribes, only to be
cleared by the courts this month.
This was not the first time reports of bad blood between Chinamasa and an
Attorney-General had emerged. In 2003, Gula-Ndebele's predecessor, Andrew
Chigovera was reportedly forced out of office for failing to represent the
minister in a contempt of court case for which a warrant of arrest was
issued against Chinamasa.
This was after Chinamasa had criticised the imposition of a six-month jail
term against three Americans convicted of contravening the Firearms Act.
He had said the sentence "induced a sense of shock and outrage in the minds
of all right-thinking people", and that the "nation should know and be told
that the leniency of the sentences constitutes a betrayal of all civilised
and acceptable notions of justice and Zimbabwe's sovereign interests".
Chigovera is now the African Commission on Human Rights and People's Rights'
special rapporteur on Freedom of Expression.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
THE Kimberly Process (KP) has released a long awaited report exonerating
River Ranch mine in Beitbridge, against which allegations of diamond
smuggling had been levelled, of any wrongdoing.
But the report, which says no evidence was found to support the allegations,
has fuelled further controversy.
A seven-member team that probed allegations that vehicles registered under
the Zimbabwean office of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) had
been used to smuggle diamonds from River Ranch prepared the report,
presented to Cabinet on Tuesday.
Bubye Minerals, which is locked in an acrimonious ownership wrangle with
River Ranch Limited, was among those accusing it of smuggling.
In exonerating River Ranch and the UNDP, the report quotes Bubye Minerals
lawyer Terrence Hussein as telling the investigating team that there was no
smuggling of diamonds.
However, Hussein disputes this.
The report says: "The lawyer acting on behalf of Bubye Minerals later denied
having said that a UNDP vehicle was ever involved. The UNDP representative
believes that no employees of the organisation were ever involved in diamond
smuggling. The allegations referred to have furthermore never been
substantiated by the sources, neither have they been substantiated by any
other available information."
In a letter addressed to KP chairperson Karel Kovander, Hussein said the
investigating team refused to meet either him or his clients for purposes of
receiving proof of the alleged smuggling and statements in the report to the
effect that he had said no smuggling was taking place surprised him.
In June, Sergei Oulin, who headed the team, said he did not meet Bubye
Minerals officials or Hussein because that would have been extending his
activities beyond his mandate.
"At no time and in no manner have I ever denied that the UN vehicles were
involved at River Ranch diamond mine . . . I request as a matter of urgency
that you delete the false representation that is attributed to me as regards
the UN vehicles and/or afford the readers of your report the benefit of my
side of the story," Hussein told Kovander.
In addition, he had complained to United Nations secretary general Ban
Ki-moon about the conduct of UNDP resident representative in Zimbabwe,
Adel Farquhar, a Bubye Minerals director, has also written to Kovander,
calling on him to resign after complaining about the false impression given
by the report that she and other officials at her company had denied that
there was smuggling at River Ranch.
She wondered why the KP could say there was no smuggling after only hearing
evidence from those accused of misconduct - the UNDP and River Ranch
Limited - without getting Bubye Minerals' side of the story
Farquhar said besides refusing to meet Bubye Minerals, the probe team did
not a visit the Central Vehicle Registry where it would have accessed proof
that UNDP vehicles were involved in the racket.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
LOW salaries and poor working conditions are fuelling corruption in the
police force, a parliamentary committee said in a report that reveals things
are so bad that police officers are living in houses that have been
condemned as being unfit for occupation.
The report, by the portfolio committee on defence and home affairs, said
there was need to constantly review the conditions of service of police
officers so as to improve morale within the force.
"Some officers live in rented accommodation outside the cantonment and this
compromises their job and creates fertile ground for corruption. The
officers' poor remuneration also leads to officers engaging in corrupt
activities," the report said.
"Police officers have inadequate uniforms, and this adversely affects the
morale of the officers and the image of the organisation."
The report, which also covers the Registrar General's office, the
Immigration Department and the National Archives, said officers had resorted
to living in condemned structures due to a critical shortage of
The Members of Parliament said it was necessary for officers in the police
camps to reduce their expenses and their interaction with the public, so as
to curtail corruption.
"Under-funding is generally felt throughout the (police) department,
resulting in operations being negatively affected, including having to
operate from dilapidated infrastructure that cries out for refurbishment,"
the report said.
"There is a general shortage of accommodation leading to officers staying in
condemned houses, for example at Tomlinson Depot in Harare."
For the police force to be fully operational, it needs 15 000 vehicles, but
it only has 1 268 vehicles on the road while another 538 are damaged.
By June 30, the police force had been granted $257 billion from the
unallocated reserve, as funds allocated in the original budget were
The Registrar General's office was said to have failed to issue public
documents because of inadequate funding.
For the mobile registration exercise carried out between June 18 and August
17, funds were also inadequate, leaving the department owing a number of
service providers such as CMED (Private) Limited.
"Due to financial and other constraints, the department failed to achieve
its objectives of issuing public documents to the general populace," the
The Immigration Department was said to be failing to computerise border
posts, while the National Archives is offering "sub-standard service", also
due to inadequate funding.
Njabulo Ncube Political Editor
OPPOSITON Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) faction leader Morgan
Tsvangirai is in Kampala, Uganda, where he hopes to brief African leaders
attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) on the
political impasse in Zimbabwe and progress in regionally mediated talks.
Zimbabwe is no longer a member of the Common-wealth after President Robert
Mugabe withdrew the country from the Club in 2003. This was after
Common-wealth leaders meeting in Abuja, Nigeria had agreed to extend
Zimbabwe's suspension indefinitely for alleged human rights violations.
A series of civic society meetings are lined up on the sidelines of CHOGM,
which opens on Friday and will be attended by 52 heads of state.
Yesterday, aides said Tsvangirai addressed the Commonwealth People's Forum,
before holding discussions on the Zimbabwean crisis with the Ugandan
Interior minister, Ruhakana Rugunda.
In his address to the Forum, Tsvangirai implored African leaders and the
international community to ensure free and fair elections next year whose
outcome would be acceptable to all the contestants.
"A free and fair election can easily reverse decades of political
corruption, economic mismanagement, political patronage and the current
decline in our fortunes," said Tsvangirai.
"A free and fair election can win us friends and eliminate our pariah
status. A free and fair election, certified by Zimbabweans and the
international community, can help stabilise our food supply and food
security and open up opportunities for jobs and economic prosperity."
Turning to talks being brokered by South African president Thabo Mbeki,
Tsvangirai said although significant progress had been made, the situation
on the ground remained unchanged.
"We are concerned that the insincerity of President Robert Mugabe and ZANU
PF in this process is causing immense anxiety and, in some cases, national
uncertainty. While the process is underway, (President) Robert Mugabe is
still determined to pursue a destructive path through state-sponsored
violence, the abuse of state institutions, abuse of traditional leaders and
open dishonesty," he said.
Tsvangirai said the MDC had made numerous concessions at the talks, as it
believed these were important steps to take for the national good.
"But on the ground, ZANU PF is behaving differently, threatening the SADC
(Southern African Development Community) initiative. (President) Mugabe and
ZANU PF are brutalising the nation while at the same time saying they want
to talk peace," he said.
The MDC leader said the opposition supported the SADC initiative and
political dialogue in the hope that an orderly transition would lead to a
legitimate outcome. "Such an outcome is critical for Zimbabwe to come out of
the woods and to tackle the huge humanitarian catastrophe in our midst," he
THE High Court yesterday dismissed a second bid for freedom by seven men
facing charges of plotting to oust President Robert Mugabe.
The presiding judge, Justice Tendai Uchena, ruled that the alleged coup
plotters could not be released on bail.
"We are going to take instructions, but definitely we are going to appeal,"
said defence lawyer Charles Warara.
The accused persons were arrested in Harare in May, with police saying their
alleged leader Albert Matapo, an ex-soldier, had hatched a plan to seize
power and install himself as Prime Minister "in order to solve the country's
Police also alleged that the group planned to invite the Minister of Rural
Housing and Social Amenities Emmerson Mnangagwa to become president.
The accused men denied the charges and said they were seized by state agents
from a building in Harare while planning to form a political party.
Warara said yesterday the group's bail application was based on the fact
that police investigations ought to have been completed by now and that his
clients would not abscond.
The lawyer said, except for Matapo, all the other accused persons did not
have a "travelling history."
Giving evidence last week, Matapo said he was gainfully employed during his
stay in the United Kingdom and was pursuing business studies. In addition he
voluntarily promoted government programmes.
Njabulo Ncube Political Editor
RETIRED Anglican Bishop Sebastian Bakare, appointed to head the fractious
Diocese of Harare after the ouster of Bishop Nolbert Kunonga, says he has
come to the capital to stay, dismissing reports that he turned down the job
after being offered a "paltry" monthly salary of US$1 500.
Bakare, who was based in Mutare until his appointment by the Dean of the
Church of the Province of Central Africa, said through his spokesman Chris
Tapera yesterday he would stay on as the caretaker head of the Anglican
Diocese of Harare until a substantive leader was elected next year.
Sources within the church earlier in the week claimed that a Zambian
clergyman, a Bishop L. Mwenda, had been appointed to replace Bakare, a
development denied by Tapera.
"The recent developments within the Anglican Diocese of Harare have created
some unnecessary divisions among the Christians in our Church, with the
former Bishop of the Diocese Nolbert Kunonga and his misinformed supporters
making grossly misleading statements about their status in the Diocese of
Harare," he said.
Bakare and the Anglican community, said the spokesman, understood the rules
and procedures of how to conduct business in the Church and would not engage
in acts of violence to defend their position "but will seek God's guidance
during these difficult times."
Anglicans in Harare, he said, dissociate themselves from members of the
clergy still allied to Kunonga.
Tapera stressed that Kunonga, who could not be reached for comment this
week, officially left the Anglican Diocese of Harare in his personal
capacity, and did not pull out with the diocese.
"The fact is that Bishop Bakare was legitimately appointed by the Dean of
the Church of the Province of Central Africa on 7 November 2007 as the
caretaker head of the Anglican Diocese of Harare until a new one is properly
elected next year. Since his appointment, he has been conducting church
business, supported by various priests, church wardens and laity".
Kunonga, who maintains he is still the legitimate head of the church in
Harare, was fired last month after he withdrew the diocese of Harare from
the Province of Central Africa, made up of Anglican churches in Zambia,
Botswana, Malawi and Zimbabwe, citing alleged rampant homosexuality in the
These allegations have been dismissed by the Diocese of Harare.
Kunonga, who is known to be close to the ruling ZANU PF and to be a
beneficiary of its largesse, has hinted that he wanted to affiliate the
Harare diocese to the Anglican Province of Kenya.
On Saturday, Bakare presided over a meeting held at Harare Sports Club to
discuss Church business.
The meeting, attended by the Chancellor of the Church of the Province of
Central Africa, Eric Matinenga, and his deputy and Chancellor of the Diocese
of Harare, Rob Stumbles, resolved to support Bakare as the legitimate head
of the Anglican Church Diocese of Harare under the Church of the Province of
Charles Rukuni Bureau Chief
SAFARI operator Langton Masunda, who is locked in a land ownership dispute
with ZANU PF national chairman and Speaker of Parliament John Nkomo, says
the case should go to trial so that imperfections in the land reform
allocation system can be exposed and ironed out once and for all.
Nkomo is seeking to evict Masunda from a farm in Gwayi, which hosts Jijima
Lodge, through a summary judgment by the High Court in Bulawayo. He says
that the lodge, currently being operated by Masunda, is on his piece of
Masunda and Nkomo have been locked in court battles over the same piece of
land for the past two years. Masunda says Nkomo is on a fishing expedition
and is judge-shopping because he has previously sought to evict him without
He says he was allocated subdivision 1 of Volunteer farms 47, 48 and 49 in
2002. At the time he was advised by the land officers that the farm extended
up to Jijima Safari Camp.
Masunda was allocated the piece of land with three others - Zenzo Ncube,
Sithabiso Gama and Thembelani Ncube. Gama and Ncube confirmed Masunda's
claim in a written statement that when they were given the farm they were
informed that it extended to Jijima Safari Camp and as such they started
rebuilding the camp, which had been run down.
Masunda argues that if Nkomo was allocated the same piece of land in 2003 as
he claims, then his (Masunda's) application has priority by date of
application as he was allocated the land a year earlier.
Nkomo says he was offered the land by then Minister of Lands, Joseph Made.
But the offer letter he is using was issued by current Minister of Lands,
Masunda queries why, if Nkomo was allocated the land in 2003 as he claims,
the offer letter for Lugo Ranch he has produced in court is dated September
20 2007, well after Nkomo sued Masunda for eviction. If the offer letter
existed, and Nkomo lost the original as he claims, he asks, why the
government could not simply give him a duplicate?
He also says that Nkomo should not rely on diagrams provided by the
surveyor-general or on records at the Deeds Office because the land
allocation exercise ignored and cut across diagrams in the surveyor-general's
"New subdivisions were created, which subdivisions are not recorded in the
surveyor-general's office," he argues. "The land reform exercise is novel in
many respects. It is without known precedents in the history of this
country. It requires many explanations as to how the allocations are made.
For instance, four people were allocated three farms. Who then owns which
portion as there is no indication that the beneficiaries own undivided
The previous owner of the farms, Aubrey James Chatham, said in a statement
in 2005 that Volunteer Farms 47, 48 and 49, which were then known as Lugo
Ranch were operating as one unit and had one title deed. They belonged to
his parents. Lugo extension was owned by his father and had its own title
He said there were no visible beacons or boundaries between Volunteer Farms
and Lugo extension. But Chatham says that Jijima Safari Camp and some
bee-hives were on Lugo extension.
Masunda says for the guidance of the courts and the public it is necessary
that evidence be led explaining the workings of the land allocation system.
"There are several pitfalls in the system. The fact that the responsible
minister found it necessary to amend the property description is but one
example of the gaps in the system," he argues. "A trial would expose, for
the benefit of all concerned the imperfections in the system, laudable as
the policy may be."
"This is certainly not an open and shut case. It has just too many holes
which hopefully a trial may cover and there would hopefully thereafter be a
certain and transparent policy," he says.
Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter
WHEN international oil prices raced towards the US$100 per barrel mark last
week, shivers ran through the spines of Zimbabweans and the entire petroleum
importing countries worldwide.
The corrosive impact of bullish petroleum prices has already been felt on
the domestic market and further surges could worsen Zimbabwe's economy
currently under intensive care.
And when the influential Organisation for the Petroleum Exporting Countries
(OPEC) descended on Saudi Arabia to look into the issue of the rampant
prices, there was strong optimism that at last, the 11-member grouping of
oil producing countries would succumb to international pressure and agree to
up oil output in order to stabilise fuel prices. That did not happen.
And for now Zimbabwe faces the daunting reality of enduring sharp fuel price
rises transmitted through relentless increases in transport costs.
The ever-increasing transport and distribution costs have been passed on to
the final consumer, feeding into inflation, which is not showing any sign of
Analysts this week said unless throughput at the US$6 million bio-diesel
plant - situated 15km northwest of the capital - reaches sufficient levels
to complement trickling fuel imports, it would be difficult to put the
country's tottering economy back on its rails.
A joint venture between a Zimbabwean company - Transload Enterprises - and a
South Korean firm, the plant was commissioned last week, with funding from
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).
When fully integrated it will produce between 90 million and 100 million
litres of diesel per annum from cottonseed, soya beans, sunflower seed and
jatropha. This translates to about 2.7 million litres of diesel a day.
The figure is within striking distance of the 3.5 million litres of fuel
Zimbabwe requires per day, including petrol. It is estimated that the
country would be able to save at least US$80 million in fuel imports every
On paper, the plan looked robust as foreign currency earmarked for diesel
imports would be invested into the procurement of petrol and other inputs
fed into the local industry.
Economic analyst John Robertson said the fact that the system has worked in
other countries is no guarantee that it will succeed in Zimbabwe.
"It will take years to achieve full production on the plant," Robertson said
"There are uncertainties in terms of climate, the environmental impact of
the project and poor jatropha yields, the main raw material of the
bio-diesel plant. We have to plant hundreds of hectares of jatropha; it is
going to take many years. So we still need to continue enjoying strong
industrial growth to be able to import fuel. The tragedy is that investors
are not prepared to come due to unfriendly policies," Robertson told The
RBZ governor Gideon Gono, who has previously hit out at what he called
"armchair critics", could have been aware of the threat of poor raw material
production for the plant.
Gono - the only visible figure at the centre of the country's economic
turn-around initiatives - unveiled $1 trillion for each of the country's 10
provinces to support the production of jatropha.
But lessons from the $2.7 trillion Productive Sector Facility doled out in
2005 showed, some farmers have been destructive. Billions of dollars of
concessionary funding were diverted towards speculative investments that
have stoked the inflation fires.
The incentive for Zimbabwe this time, however, is that with international
oil prices on the upward trend and OPEC refusing to give in to lobbyists,
the pressure from oil prices could be absorbed by gold, platinum and other
metals, which are fetching good prices on the international market.
Gono has also weighed in to support the farmers, pledging to pay part of
their earnings in foreign currency.
One billion litres of bio-diesel from the provinces per annum in the next
decade could be a dream-come-true for Zimbabwe.
But the danger is there could be the temptation to sacrifice food crops,
particularly staple grains, for jatropha and other crops supporting the
Statistics show that soya bean production in Zimbabwe has dropped from 150
000 tonnes in 2001 to about 60 000 tonnes last year.
Sunflower output declined by 50 percent from 40 000 tonnes in 1994 to 20 000
tonnes in 2006.
Groundnuts output has been disappointing, and any attempts to tamper with
these crops could trigger a major catastrophe.
This leaves Zimbabwe, unlike other leading bio-diesel producing countries
such as Brazil, South Africa and China with little option but to redirect
energies towards the extraction of biological fuels from Jatropha, which is
not expensive to maintain, and has the highest oil content at 35 percent.
Moisture content is 18 percent for cotton and Soya.
Zimbabwe Academy of Sciences president Christopher Chetsanga however, said
this could easily be dealt with.
"This concern can be met by using biotechnology derived energy crops with a
high bio-fuels yielding capacity," Chetsanga says.
"It is important for Zimbabwe to engage in the development of biotechnology
crops so that the country can quickly work towards reducing the amount of
fossil fuels that it is importing by systematically replacing it with
"Cuba is already working with a jatropha variety that can yield 1 500 litres
of bio-diesel per hectare. This is a good model for Zimbabwe to emulate. As
a country, we cannot afford to delay using biotechnology to meet our
strategic development needs," said Chetsanga.
Once a Jatropha seed is planted it does not require much maintenance in
terms of chemicals and labour except for harvesting.
The by-products of the manufacturing process can also be turned into
The other advantage is that jatropha production can be done in wastelands
such as the hostile terrains in the lowveld, which can be transformed into
productive estates supporting the bio-diesel plant.
This could be with major ecological disturbances to the current fauna and
Jatropha takes about three years to mature.
This means full throttle production at the Harare plant could only be
realised in 2010.
Chetsanga says because of the rapid increase in oil costs, as well as the
environmental concerns about the global warming from greenhouse gas
emissions from fossil fuels, bio-fuels production remains imperative and can
also help small-scale farmers.
"Important considerations in bio-fuel production are that they be of benefit
to the national economy and that the sourcing of energy crops from farmers
be of benefit to the resources-poor rural small-scale farmers," Chetsanga
National Biotechnology Authority acting chief executive Abisai Mafa sees
biotechnology as one of the few ways of dealing with Zimbabwe's worsening
economic crisis and stressed that the goal is to achieve a target where
biotechnology would contribute 20 percent of the country's gross domestic
Unfortunately, apart from South Africa, there are no progressive African
case studies for Zimbabwe to emulate.
Statistics show that global bio-fuels production has been concentrated in
developed countries. This leaves Zimbabwe among the pacesetters in trying to
produce the fuels at a large scale across Africa. In 2005, the United States
produced 16 214 million litres of bio-fuels, Brazil 16 067 million litres,
China 3 800 million litres and India 1 700 million litres. South Africa was
the eighth leading producer at a distant 390 000 litres.
Other analysts warn that while the development of the bio-diesel project
could re-ignite life into the country's collapsing economy, Zimba-bweans
should be empowered to run the plant without too much assistance from the
"There are no permanent friends or enemies in international relations," said
an analyst. "The Koreans have led the assembling of the bio-diesel plant.
These are good times, but who knows what the future holds between the two
economies? It is imperative therefore that Zimbabwe accelerates the training
needs of the country's technicians to take full responsibility of the
plant," he said.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
SECTIONS of the media and political commentators were cocksure that ZANU PF's
extraordinary congress next month would produce fireworks, but all
indications are that it will be an anti-climatic affair dominated by wining
One by one, party organs and those initially thought to be gearing up for
battle are falling over each other in a frenzied race to "endorse" President
Robert Mugabe as the ruling party's candidate in next year's elections.
Two weeks ago, Vice President Joice Mujuru denied publicly for the first
time that she was eyeing the top post, years after reports that she was a
serious contender for the highest office in the land first emerged.
Last weekend Vice President Joseph Msika said President Mugabe should be
left to "stay on or even die there".
Leadership, Msika enthused, should not be changed as frequently as one would
Harare province is the latest party structure to endorse President Mugabe,
doing so at the same time that war veterans, who intend to hold a "million
man" march in support of the ruling party's first secretary, marched in
Murombedzi, near the President's rural home.
ZANU PF political commissar, Elliot Manyika, secretary for women's affairs
Oppah Muchinguri, youth league chairperson Absolom Sikhosana and his deputy
Saviour Kasukuwere attended a meeting that "endorsed" the party's leader.
The meeting was rather comical - a possible harbinger for the congress
itself - with Kasukuwere mimicking football commentary, with President
Mugabe as an imaginary and skillful striker dribbling past a host of lame
opponents, including Tony Blair and other faceless people trying to stop
Members of Parliament have rushed to lead their constituencies in the
endorsement bandwagon, the latest being Industry and International Trade
Minister Obert Mpofu, who represents Bubi-Umguza constituency.
Recently, ZANU PF Masvingo provincial chairperson Alex Mudavanhu said "every
card carrying member" of the ruling party in his province was behind
President Mugabe. Presumably, this also includes a reformed Dzikamai
Against a background of such a feverish rush to President Mugabe's side, the
question now is: Why was a special congress called if, as party leaders now
proclaim, it is game set and match for the President?
Said political commentator Eldred Masunungure: "If there is nothing
extraordinary to be discussed, then the congress cannot be called an
extraordinary one. An extraordinary congress is called for something that is
an emergency, that cannot be settled through an ordinary conference."
With President Mugabe having already secured his position, Masunungure
stressed, the "extraordinary" must surely fall away.
There are questions as to whose idea it was in the first place to call an
President Mugabe, some say, may have wanted this in order to silence
whispers by his rivals that he had failed to secure an outright endorsement
at Goromonzi last year.
His rivals, others say, would also have wanted an extraordinary congress in
the hope that they would, by then, have gathered enough courage to put an
alternative candidate forward.
After all, it was Mujuru herself who told state media while on a visit to
Cuba that the special congress had been called to elect - not endorse - the
party leader for elections next year.
ZANU PF says there are four items on the special congress agenda: confirming
President Mugabe, the 18th constitutional amendment, the farm mechanisation
programme and the state of the economy.
The meeting will obviously breeze through the first item, talk a bit about
the second, cheer a lot over the third, and say very little about the last.
Which, as has been the case at previous meetings, means that feasting, will
take centre stage.
At the party's 2005 conference in Esigodini, 2000 delegates feasted on 50
cattle, 11 kudu, five reedbuck, 17 impala, five buffaloes and 60 chickens.
Last year, the chairman of the fundraising committee said more than 140
beasts had been earmarked for the Goromonzi Indaba, with 80 being
slaughtered for the more than 3 500 delegates in attendance.
The remainder of the beasts were said to have been kept at a farm owned by a
ruling party member for use at this year's extraordinary congress.
In June, Mashonaland Central provincial governor Ephraim Masawi said the
provincial leadership had pledged 48 beasts and 44 tonnes of maize for
As at previous conferences, discussion of the economy is not likely to be as
robust as to come up with measures to pull the country out of the current
Previously, sound economic advice offered by the party's economic committee,
chaired by economist Richard Hove, was discarded outright.
Last year's report by Hove's committee blamed the economic collapse on price
controls and an unrealistic exchange rate.
"The (manufacturing) sector experienced viability problems, especially for
companies whose output faced price controls and loss of export
competitiveness on the basis of an overvalued exchange rate," the report
Previous party discussions on agriculture also failed to yield new ideas to
turn around the fortunes of the sector.
The parliamentary committee on lands and agriculture said the government was
not following some of the recommendations it had made that would have gone a
long way in addressing problems in the sector.
Besides a lack of inputs and erratic energy supplies, government had not
addressed the issue of pre-planting prices, which serve as an incentive for
farmers to prepare for a new cropping season.
"Stakeholders also cited the lack of a pre-planting price as a contributing
factor to lack of preparedness by farmers. Stakeholders that appeared before
your committee said farming was a business venture and hence farmers needed
to know if their investments would earn them attractive returns," the report
"Your committee notes with concern that despite several recommendations it
made on the same issue in its previous reports, no policy measures have been
taken by government to address the issue. As argued before by your
committee, pre-planting prices serve to incentivise farmers to produce at
Rangarirai Mberi and Kumbirai Mafunda Staff Report
ZIMBABWE'S controversial draft law compelling foreign owned mining
enterprises to cede 25 percent of their shares to the government will scare
away existing and potential investors, mining executives and economic
analysts said this week.
President Robert Mugabe's government on Monday published a draft legislation
that would require virtually all foreign-owned mining companies to transfer
majority shareholdings to local owners as well as surrendering a 25 percent
stake to the government at no cost.
But the Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines this week reacted angrily to the proposed
draft bill warning the move would be disastrous to the ailing and delicate
sector as it would drive away foreign direct investment into the capital
"We have made our position known clearly to the government. We don't agree
with the position they have taken. We want a situation that encourages
production," said Murehwa.
Murehwa, the chief operating officer at platinum miner Zimplats, which is
controlled by South Africa's Impala Platinum Mines, said the government's
move to force foreign enterprises to surrender half their shares to locals
and to the government for free would kill off any new investment.
"It is unlikely that there will be new mines. Chances of new investors
coming on those regulations are close to zero," Murehwa said.
Harare based economic consultant John Robertson warned that expansion
programmes will collapse as the government doesn't have the financial
resources to support expansion of mines.
"It (new law) is going to bring a complete end to mining investment. While
existing companies will continue new ones will not start. Expansion
programmes will be at risk because the government doesn't put any money for
development. So the existing shareholders of the mines will need to
constantly contribute capital for development. It is very short sighted and
selfish, Robertson said.
The publication of the draft legislation comes a month after the government
announced that it will force all foreign owned enterprises to cede 51
percent of their shareholding to locals under a scheme to empower
"indigenous" Zimbabweans. The government said firms will surrender 25
percent for free and pay for another 26 percent over five years.
But critics including Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono warned
that the proposed legislation would undo all efforts to bring Zimbabwe back
into the international community.
South African-owned Stanbic Bank and UK controlled Standard Chartered Bank
have also rejected the bill, which the government calls a plan for black
Zimbabwe, which is grappling with one of its agonising economic crisis since
independence has in recent years been ranked as the worst place to do
business owing to its repressive business laws.
According to the latest draft legislation, companies risk losing all grants,
rights and licenses if they fail to comply, the draft law says.
There would be no renewal of mining grants unless "the existing shares or
any new shares issued by the company are disposed of to the state or one or
more indigenous Zimbabweans, until such time as the controlling interest in
the company is held directly or indirectly, whether through one or more
individuals, associations, syndicates, companies or otherwise, by the state
or one or more indigenous Zimba-bweans".
However, one of the most controversial provisions of the proposed law is on
how government intends to fund the "contributory" part of the stake it
According to the draft, the contributory 26 percent interest of the state in
"any mining company shall be paid for from dividends on the shares making up
the non-contributory interest of the state".
Proposing to fund the 26 percent with future earnings only really gives
government a free 51 percent stake, given that most mining companies in
Zimbabwe are in fact ploughing capital into developing their investments,
and dividends are far out on the horizon for them.
Zimplats, the country's largest platinum producer, is on a long term US$2
billion expansion plan under which it aims to lift output from the current
99 000 ounces per year to 1 million oz. Capital expenditure last year for
Zimplats amounted to US$62 million, US$40 million of which was spent on the
Phase 1 expansion project.
The company will spend a further US$340 million on Phase 1, expansion
scheduled for completion by June 2009. In 2008, planned capital expenditure
will be US$264 million. Some US$24 million is planned for a sub-station to
secure power supplies.
It is unlikely that government would, in the event that it took 51 percent
of Zimplats, make any contributions to this scale of outlay. This all means
miners would invest 100 percent of the capital, for only 49 percent of
The law proposes a "strategic energy minerals tax" of royalties of 25
percent of the total unbeneficiated annual value of the production of any
strategic mineral by each company.
However, government argues, in the Bill, that it deserves the shares anyway
"by virtue of its original ownership of all useful minerals in its subsoil".
Since a 15 percent stake of Zimplats, valued at US$31 million, was not taken
up because favoured empowerment companies could not raise the funding,
government hopes that by ruling that empowerment stakes could be funded by
dividends, it can sidestep the issue of either itself or chosen groups
having to raise funding independently.
Even for companies getting dividends from their investments, they are
putting in more than what they are getting out.
Mwana Africa got US$2.6 million on its 52.87 percent share of Bindura Nickel
Corporation (BNC) from the company's third interim dividend in February, the
same time it announced spending of US$100 million to develop a new mine at
Given BNC's valuation yesterday of around US$134 million, it would take
government some 25 dividend declarations to pay for the "contributory"
stake - while it sits around the boardroom without contributing anything.
Africa File with Mavis Makuni
REPORTS published in the press at the weekend claiming that the possibility
of invading Zimbabwe was discussed during Tony Blair's tenure as British
Prime Minister appear to have sent jitters across parts of Africa.
The report quoted a former head of the British army, General Lord Guthrie,
as saying he regularly discussed the possibility of intervening militarily
in Zimbabwe with Blair. "We used to talk about things. I could say anything
to him. The subjects discussed included invading Zimbabwe, which people were
always trying to get me to look at. My advice was, 'Hold hard, you will make
it worse'," the report quotes the general as saying.
Despite the fact that Guthrie advised against such a move, the fact that it
was discussed at all has re-ignited debate on the controversial subject,
which constitutes one of the main themes of Zimbabwe's crusade against the
West. The South Africa-Zimbabwe Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and
Security takes the matter so seriously that it has warned that Southern
African Development Community (SADC) member states face a "very real
challenge" of regime change occurring in their countries at the instigation
of foreign powers.
South African Minister of Defence, Mosioua Lekota told a meeting of the
Commission last week that regime change was a serious external threat. "We
need to share information and intelligence on activities in this area.
Working together, our reach stretches further." He said southern African
countries should speak with one voice on the issue of the United States
African Command (Africom), whose establishment will result in thousands of
American soldiers being stationed in Africa. Lekota said Africom threatened
the sovereignty of individual countries.
While African countries are justified to take umbrage against the concept of
externally imposed regime change, they seem to have steered clear of
discussing the best way to avoid giving foreign powers a pretext to
intervene in their internal affairs. External forces often go into countries
to quell disturbances and civil strife during civil wars, after coups or in
situations where the national government is accused of committing atrocities
against the population. It seems leaders guilty of human rights abuses,
repressive governance and unwillingness to hold free and fair elections have
the most to fear.
Regime change has such a pejorative ring in Africa because some leaders now
take it to encompass even legitimate agitation for a change of government by
their people. Unwillingness to countenance the relinquishing of power under
any circumstances whatsoever is underscored by cases of leaders who have
been in power for decades and still allege that any calls for change by
their own people are externally fuelled. Such leaders, who cling to power at
all costs, do not accept that there are ever acceptable circumstances under
which they should give up power. Opposition parties in countries where such
leaders hold sway are relentlessly persecuted, with their democratic right
to aspire to form the next government being criminalised and branded a
foreign concept planted in their heads by imperialists.
Yoweri Museveni, who in 2005 forced an amendment to his country's
constitution to enable him to extend his already formidable 20 years as head
of state by another five years is one of the foremost opponents of regime
change. During a state visit to Zimbabwe in 2004, the Ugandan leader
declared that regime change would never work in Africa. This was despite the
fact he himself had ascended to power through regime change in the form of a
coup in which his predecessor, Milton Obote, was overthrown.
During a visit to Mozambique in the same year, former Tanzanian president,
Benjamin Mkapa sermonised on the need for opposition parties in Africa "to
accept election results", saying accepting defeat was part of the democratic
These self-serving sentiments were echoed by Zimbabwe's former foreign
minister, Stan Mudenge, who urged opposition parties in the SADC region to
gratefully accept permanent defeat." "Do not only expect to win, be prepared
to lose." He did not say why the same dictum should not apply to ruling
parties although he made this declaration while addressing a meeting of the
SADC committee on governance, which was in the process of formulating
guidelines for the conduct of free and fair elections.
A crucial ingredient for the existence of a truly popular government in
Africa is the holding of free and fair elections in which the people are
able to elect leaders of their choice. This is currently impossible in many
countries where draconian laws result in the muzzling of the media thereby
denying voters access to facts, criticism and competing ideas.
Zimbabwe, which is to hold elections next year, has some of the harshest
media restrictions under the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act. Such media laws coupled with equally undemocratic electoral procedures
have ensured that the parties that led countries to independence in the
1960s have maintained their grip on power up to know.
Instead of merely sharing information as suggested by the South
Africa-Zimbabwe Joint Commission of Defence and Security as a way to
safeguard themselves against the threat of regime change, African leaders
should ask themselves whether the administrations they lead are popular
governments enjoying the support of their people or imposed tyrannical
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
TRAVELLING along the Harare-Bulawayo highway used to be an exhilarating and
breathtaking experience during the economic boom of the 1980s. Adorned on
either side by lush farmland interspaced by prospering industrial towns, the
route gave travellers a glimpse of a ticking economy.
Today, the billowing chimneys that were once a permanent feature of the
towns along the way are no more and adjoining farms lie fallow painting a
gloomy picture of an economy in crisis now in its eighth year.
The only sign of any remaining meaningful industrial activity along the
highway is at the Zimbabwe Platinum Mine (Zimplats)' refinery at Selous,
whose bright lights break the monotony at night and heavy-duty trucks
ferrying ore, which occasionally cruise along the 78 km Ngezi Road by day.
The mine is, itself, a reminder of yet another sad chapter. Broken Hill
Properties burnt its finger in the late 1990s, forcing it to transfer
ownership of the mine to Zimplats, whose mining methods have paid dividends.
The journey into Zimbabwe's industrial and agricultural decline starts at
Norton, where a farm once operated by Kintyre Estates and was a delight to
behold when its vegetables were thriving and flowers in the horticulture
section were in bloom, is now a mere collection of patches. The estate has
since been subdivided with no activity-taking place on some of the plots.
Further along, in Chegutu, the armies of vendors lining the highway selling
various items and inundating the few operating restaurants give an insight
into the joblessness spawned by reduced productivity on neighbouring farms.
David Whitehead, the textile company, is yet another disheartening example
A huge David Whitehead logo at the main entrance of the textile monolith is
the only reminder that this was once a thriving company providing employment
for the majority of residents from the Chegutu community.
David Whitehead's demise blamed on under-capitalisation and corporate
governance deficits has had a devastating knock-on effect on the now
A new investor has since assumed 51 percent ownership of the giant textile
concern, but only time will tell whether new money can awaken the sleeping
town of Chegutu.
One can only imagine what a place like Kwekwe, home to several heavy
industries, would look like today if the industrial sector there had not
Kwekwe and neighbouring Redcliff are home to the Zimbabwe Iron and Steel
Company - the country's largest steelworks. It also boasts of the Zimbabwe
Iron and Smelting Company, the largest ferrochrome producer, and one of the
biggest power processing plants, ZESA Munyati.
But the engines, blast furnaces and turbines have fallen into a deathly
Redcliff, once a thriving centre, is now a ghost town, deserted by banks and
large department stores that once catered for its well-off population.
The Midlands city of Gweru induces more despair. With many heavy industries
in the city collapsing, the story of Bata Shoe Company is the saddest of
A huge signpost along the highway is the only remaining vestige of a company
that was once one of Africa's biggest shoe manufacturers.
The firm had been struggling for years as a result of foreign currency
shortages but the government-ordered price slashes in June seem to have
driven the final nail into the coffin. Bata Shoes outlets in Gweru, like the
rest across the country, are empty.
A few kilometres out of Gweru is the National Railways of Zimbabwe control
station, Dabuka. Once, it was abuzz with rail traffic, but now there are no
trains to attend to and the traffic controllers must think of ways to kill
The government's response to the collapse of industry has been characterised
by contradictions. On the one hand, it has announced a scheme to "mechanise"
farms, has provided funding to prop up ailing industries, and most recently
has announced a plan to set up bio-diesel plants in each of the country's 10
But on the other hand, critics point out that while it has been doing all
this, the government has stuck to policies - such as the continuing price
war and tacit approval of farm disruptions - that only serve to kill the
industrial sector along with the towns that thrived as industrial hubs.
Analysts cite inflation as the biggest challenge militating against
government's efforts to resuscitate collapsing industries.
Inflation, the highest in the world, reached an all time high of over 14,000
percent in October.
"It's (inflation) out of control now, and they have to bring it back in
control," a foreign newspaper quoted John Robertson, a local economist,
saying. "We are reaching the steepest slopes of the process. They say they
can fix prices but the things that cause price increases come from so many
different directions that the government can't control them all," added
Robertson, a fiery government critic.
In its 2007 report, the Index of Economic Freedom blamed the economic
meltdown on tariff and non-tariff barriers that have combined to stifle
investments into the country.
"State influence in most areas of the economy is stifling, and expropriation
is common as the political executive pushes forward with its resource
redistribution by-angry-mob economic plan.
"Political interference has wrecked the once-prosperous financial market and
the state has made a point of not welcoming foreign investments," read part
of the 2007 report.
ZIMBABWEANS have become increasingly restive due to an economic crisis now
in its eighth year. There is growing despondency, and people are
increasingly appealing for the intervention of the divine hand of the
Almighty God for a solution to the crisis.
There is an acute shortage of fuel: diesel, petrol, coal, etc - basically a
shortage of every essential commodity. And the economy is in free fall, with
gross domestic product (GDP) expected to contract a further six or seven
percent this year, which would bring the cumulative GDP decline since 2000
to about 40 percent.
National days of prayer have been held, with tacit support from a paranoid
government. The powers-that-be have reached a breaking point, although,
publicly, they will not admit it, and will also not acknowledge that the
crisis Zimbabwe is facing is now out of hand.
That admission, obviously, would require of them to humbly give up power or
pass on the baton to others, more able or better placed to deal with the
situation confronting the country.
Indeed for many, the country has reached a point where, like the Israelites
in Rephidim, faced with thirst, grumbled against God and their leader Moses,
resulting in God asking Moses to "take in your hand the staff with which you
struck the Nile, and go. I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb.
Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink".
You get that sense of dejection among Zimbabweans today; they have lost
faith in all state institutions, and are grumbling against their leadership
and appealing to God for that water to quench their thirst.
But just how desperate can the government get to splurge billions of dollars
of taxpayers' money on a hopeless "spirit medium" to get diesel gushing from
a rock because of the people's "grumbling"? And how desperate can the
government get to parcel out land to a bunch with no history or clue of
farming. Those who lost lives in the struggle for land must be turning in
There is no denying that Zimbabwe's economic crisis presents the biggest
headache - nay heartache - to government, battling to extend its incumbency
by hook or crook, but even a kindergarten kid would laugh at the gullibility
of a whole politburo and Cabinet agreeing to claims that a Chinhoyi-based
"spirit medium" had power to cause a rock to pour out huge quantities of
diesel to sufficiently supply the country with the scarce commodity.
Yet this is exactly what our country's leadership did. The Financial Gazette
reported last month that the government had squandered $5 billion worth of
taxpayers' money and given away a farm to a pseudo spirit medium, Rotina
Mavhunga, after she had claimed she could extract diesel from a rock by just
pointing her magical stick at it.
Should it be surprising therefore, that some of the senior politicians
holding government posts today claimed disability levels as high as 80
percent, as they ransacked the War Victims' Fund in the mid 1990s?
A provincial governor, Nelson Samkange, later told the nation that the
government and its numerous state agencies had accepted Rotina's lie because
"the government and the President believe in African culture and in spirit
mediums". "She said the diesel was coming from our ancestors so we had to
pursue it," Samkange said.
President Robert Mugabe later reaffirmed Samkange's claim, but angrily
demanded that Rotina, who has been arrested on charges of being a criminal
nuisance, and her accomplices should be punished for fooling him and his
entire Cabinet and the party politburo.
The President has highly learned individuals in his Cabinet, some of them
scientists who should know better that diesel is extracted from crude oil
through a purification process; there was no way this fuel could have gushed
from a rock, even under the alleged mystical powers of a grade three school
Samkange would have the nation believe that if Rotina's claims had not been
pursued, she would have blamed the government for the fuel shortages. Now he
wants to be a key state witness because she "took the government for a
ride". Indeed extra state resources are being marshalled to punish Rotina
through the court prosecution system.
But who will hold the powers-that-be to account for their naivety? Who will
hold them to account for spending so much money on a wild goose chase, so to
speak, on a non-existent bargain from a fake spirit medium? For how long
will Zimbabwean taxpayers pay for the foolishness of a government
desperately battling to defend itself from collapse?
We had the case of Ari Ben Menashe a few years ago, who was paid huge sums
of money to pin down opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai in an alleged plot
to topple President Mugabe from power through the barrel of the gun. Despite
spending hugely on a court case against the opposition leader, the case
collapsed like a deck of cards, but Menashe went all the way to the bank
What rank madness!
Our leaders are too self-centred
EDITOR - It appears there is no end in sight to the current crisis
bedevilling our country. The Zimbabwean situation is unrivalled anywhere in
the world including countries where civil wars are raging at the moment.
The problem is that our leaders are full of their egos and do not realise
that nation building is not centred on a few individuals.
It was interesting to read last week's edition of your satirical column,
Cabinet Files where the writer raised the issue that most of the
officials/members in ZANU PF today are so rich that just one of them can
fund the party's extraordinary congress.
My worry is that with such rich people in our midst, the situation in the
country continues to spiral out of control. No food, no work, no medicine in
the hospitals, education standards have plummeted with teachers and
lecturers leaving in droves for other countries.
Even some of us who are working hard towards higher academic qualifications
see no future in this country.
I say so because the systems have been destroyed and it will take at least
two decades, all things being equal, to recover from the malaise.
The President has the power to stop all this madness going on in the
country. All he needs to do is to publicly tell his minions to stop all
their corrupt activities and order all those who have occupied farms and are
not utilising them to vacate them.
He must also instruct the police to be impartial and limit the army's
involvement in civilian matters of governance.
Once he does that he should act. He should not show any fear or favour
because he owes his position to the people of Zimbabwe and not individuals.
At the moment, the President has encouraged these institutions (police and
military) to be partisan.
They are supposed to protect the nation but alas, they protect only a
privileged few. They only pander to the whims of the rich and the ruling
They are prepared to sacrifice the lives of ordinary citizens in order to
buttress their masters' hold on power.
By the same token, they have tested the sweetness of power sand they,
especially the military leadership, are deeply contemplating dethroning
winners of the next election if they are not ZANU PF.
To them the current status quo has been a God-sent opportunity to make
However, people need to remember that despite all the flirting with material
things that we do day-in-and-day-out in our lives, there is a limit to what
that can do for us.
The more material things we have, the more miserable we become. Money cannot
buy happiness or an extra measure of life. It is time that we start thinking
as a nation what we are really benefiting by destroying the systems and
infrastructure of the nation.
For some in ZANU PF, history will judge them harshly for turning the freedom
they brought to the nation, into a nightmare.
As we head into the New Year, let us reflect especially on the course we
should take with regards to the current status of our nation.
The nation is above political parties and individual differences. We owe all
future generations of Zimbabweans a decent and stable country.
McLytton N. Clever
The height of desperation
EDITOR - I read with complete dismay comments by the President that justice
ought to be done to the n'anga who misled the nation about diesel oozing out
of rocks in Chinhoyi.
According to The Herald, the government was "forced" to send a taskforce
comprising Cabinet ministers and senior government officials to verify
claims that diesel was oozing out of rocks at Maningwa Hills in Chinhoyi.
Okay, reality check. We are a 21st century nation seeking solutions to the
country's problems from a n'anga? Shame on us!
I don't know what other people think, but this is perhaps one of the most
embarrassing stories to come out of our country.
We really have sunk that low haven't we? Superstition (and that includes the
version wrapped up as religion) is understandable at the individual level,
but for men and women tasked with the duty of leading a nation to resort to
a n'anga for solutions in the 21st century is a serious tragedy. I'm short
United States of America
He tricked me
EDITOR - I would like to remind Albert Matapo (the suspected coup plotter)
that what goes around comes around.
Matapo tricked me that his organisation could help bring my husband to the
United Kingdom in 2003 after he had been diagnosed with cancer.
I paid his organisation the few pounds I had after a British organisation
had referred me to his Charity Zimbabwe Association, saying I should seek
help from my own people.
I later discovered that Matapo was only interested in my money yet he had
been given a grant to form the association in order to assist Zimbabweans in
need. But instead, he made the association his own cash cow at the expense
of innocent Zimbabweans.
Where are you now? I think if you read this you will remember all those you
Sack this man
EDITOR - If the facts as reported in the press are accurate, how can Mr
Godwills Masimirembwa continue to occupy his position as National Incomes
and Pricing Commission chairman? He should resign immediately. Failing this,
the ministry should sack him. Have they no shame?
EDITOR - Government talks a lot of nonsense about the parallel market.
Without it, where would we get fuel? Or food?
There is not a single person in the country who has not somehow been
involved in the parallel market. This applies in particular, to all the
ruling party chefs.
Robbed of Christmas
EDITOR - It is tragic to realise that the majority of our citizens will not
have a happy Christmas. Gone are the days when this once beautiful nation
was a heaven whenever the festive season approached.
November was the month when our fathers used to receive a 13th cheque and
our houses would be awash with groceries; new clothes for Christmas and the
mood would be a merry one in most townships.
Some opted to spend the Christmas holidays in the rural areas with their
parents and they could still afford to buy them groceries as well. But this
year we will have Christmas with a difference - no chicken, no bonus, no
sugar, no beer, no sweets, no electricity, no cooking oil etc.
Our dear leaders who are clinging on to power like wounded tigers have
largely caused all these problems. I wonder what their children are going to
eat during Christmas. The country is facing its worst economic and political
crisis since independence.
Failed policies by government officials who continue lying to us that
inflation is going down are the order of the day. And as if that is not
enough, we are still being fooled that the biodiesel project will end the
fuel crisis. This also goes to show how they were duped by that diesel
Promises that our shelves will soon be full also show how they are playing
with the suffering people of Zimbabwe. We certainly hope that the Lord's
hand will remain the only solution to this crisis.
Former Student Union president
The sewage has hit the fan
EDITOR - As I write, the residents of Mbare's Matererini flats have not had
electricity since Monday last week. Coupled with the unbearable lack of
proper sanitation, thanks to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority's (ZINWA)
legendary incompetence, it is not difficult to imagine what life must be
like in these overpopulated dwellings.
And the residents are well aware that the responsible authorities are not
about to restore electricity, let alone give an explanation. Silence has
become government policy in Zimbabwe, a clear sign of cluelessness and
incompetence. If any heads must roll, it is the heads of those who criticise
Nearby, several home industries like welding, furniture making, hair salons,
phone shops, spray painting and service stations have no doubt lost billions
in this busy metropolis. Not that anybody at Munhumutapa cares. After all,
these are small-scale businesses.
But with 80 percent unemployment, these small people matter. They hold the
economy together. When they lose business, they lose money. No money, no
cash to pay bills, and nothing to deposit in the banks.
We now live in a country where we have to contend with ZESA and ZINWA bills
that are based on the rule of thumb, simply because someone is too lazy to
get off their bum to read the meter.
I'm tempted to agree with someone who said the other day: It's a black
thing. The sewage has hit the fan.
By continuing to be silent on matters of public interest, the ruling party's
merry band of wishful thinkers keep deluding themselves that they will wake
up one day to find that everything has sorted itself out. Reality check: To
sit back hoping that someday, someway, someone will make things right is to
go on feeding the crocodile, hoping he will eat you last - but eat you he
will. (Ronald Reagan, former US President.)
The unfortunate thing is that government's policy of silence has spawned a
vacuum that has been quickly filled by the people's ability to survive. Just
like they survived Operation Murambatsvina, Operation Sunrise 1 and
Operation Dzikisa Mitengo, they are surviving Operation Blackouts and
Operation Dry Taps - by chopping down trees and digging boreholes.
The country has stopped functioning, all because those brains elected to run
it are well past their sell-by date.
"When a palm-branch reaches its height, it gives way for a fresh one to