SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki yesterday piled pressure on
President Robert Mugabe to speed up the pace of talks between the ruling
Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
Mbeki's push comes in the wake of a slowdown in the tempo of
negotiations between the two parties which have been engaged since May.
The two parties have missed deadlines in September, October and
November. Now they have come up with a new early December deadline which
should be met before the Zanu PF congress and the ANC's conference mid next
month. Fears linger that Zanu PF is trying to take Mbeki and the MDC down a
garden path and sink the process later.
Sources say the delays are indicative of pitfalls which lie ahead in
the talks that need to be dealt with now. Mbeki is said to have come to
ensure the talks remain on track and the parties display a sense of urgency
in their attitude as the elections fast draw closer.
Talks which had resumed on Sunday in Pretoria broke off on Tuesday
because Zanu PF chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa wanted to attend a
meeting in Lesotho and then another gathering in North Africa.
It is said MDC delegates also had other commitments although they
accepted a postponement largely because they wanted to put in order their
position paper on sanctions and land.
This falls under agenda item No 5 which also deals with issues such as
demilitarisation of state institutions, the role of traditional chiefs, use
of food aid for political benefit and foreign broadcasts into Zimbabwe.
However, Mbeki said yesterday he was "very confident" a solution to
the country's political stalemate would be found soon.
"They (the talks) have gone very well. I came to Harare today to see
the president and the leadership of the MDC so we can reflect on where we
are and to report to them (Sadc) as facilitators how the talks have gone and
also put my own perspectives on where we are going. There has been progress
indeed," Mbeki said after meeting the two sides.
Regional leaders appointed Mbeki in March to mediate between Zanu PF
and the MDC. South African Local Government minister Sydney Mufamadi is
chairing the talks assisted by Director in the Presidency Reverend Frank
Chikane and Mbeki's legal advisor Mujanku Gumbi.
Zanu PF negotiators are Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche and the MDC has
Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti, assisted by Lovemore Moyo and Priscillah
Mbeki in August reported progress to the Sadc summit in Zambia. It is
said he told Mugabe and MDC leaders yesterday that he has to report to the
Sadc troika on politics, defence and security chairman Angolan President
Eduardo Dos Santos on progress so far.
Mbeki met with Mugabe separately at State House. It is said he told
Mugabe that there was need to finalise the talks as soon as possible because
the process was lagging behind.
Mbeki is also said to have indicated that he wanted to report as soon
as possible to the Sadc troika and as a result he wants to the talks
finalised by the first week of December. Mbeki also urged Mugabe to
reciprocate the MDC's support for Zanu PF's constitutional amendment
It is said Mugabe had given assurances to Mbeki that if the MDC backs
the amendment, Zanu PF would also make significant concessions. The MDC was
told that Mugabe had agreed to remain in the process and that he would adopt
the final agreement. Mbeki and Sadc are the underwriters of the promise.
Mbeki also told Mugabe that as far as he was concerned there had been
significant progress because most of the things have largely been agreed on,
with only a few things remaining on the first four agenda items -
constitution, electoral laws, security legislation, and media laws. The
parties are currently discussing the last agenda item, which is the
The negotiating parties have already agreed upon a draft constitution
and have basically agreed on the other three agenda issues which have been
"parked" in the meantime to deal with technical issues and matters that
cannot be resolved until the final agreement is in place.
Some of these issues are transitional mechanisms and the date of
elections. While the negotiators are agreed informally that elections should
be postponed to June, Mugabe has flatly rejected the suggestion. The sources
said the date, which the MDC said yesterday is still on the agenda, could
actually become decisive, determining the failure or success of the talks.
If Mugabe insists on the March date, the sources said, the MDC might walk
out of the talks and boycott the elections, taking the country back to
They said Mbeki told the MDC leaders the same message he gave to
Mugabe. Mbeki met MDC leaders at the South African ambassador's residence.
MDC leaders present were Morgan Tsvangirai, Gibson Sibanda, Welshman Ncube,
Arthur Mutambara, Thokozani Khuphe, Tendai Biti, Priscillah
Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Lovemore Moyo.
While the MDC is upbeat that progress has been made despite delays,
Mugabe and Zanu PF took a decision in a crucial politburo meeting on
September 5 they would not accept a new constitution before elections under
any circumstances or an agreement which might lead to their defeat.
Mugabe said in that meeting that the negotiators were doing a good job
because they had managed to put across the party position in a "strong,
confident and progressive manner", it has been confirmed.
Vice-President Joseph Msika also applauded the Zanu PF negotiating
team, saying there had been "fears that they may give in to demands which
would compromise the party".
THE MDC yesterday told South Africa President Thabo Mbeki that Zanu PF
was not committed to the Sadc-initiated inter-party talks as political
violence is escalating ahead of next year's elections.
Tendai Biti, the Morgan Tsvangirai-led faction of the MDC's
secretary-general, told a media conference yesterday that both factions of
the opposition said to Mbeki that violence was intensifying against its
members. Biti said they told Mbeki, facilitator of the talks, this was an
indication that Zanu PF was not sincere about dialogue.
Biti said the MDC asked Mbeki to tell President Robert Mugabe to stop
violence against the opposition forthwith.
"We highlighted that violence against citizens occurs everyday, our
meetings are still being banned. Everyday what the government is doing is
illogical to logical intended goals of the dialogue," he said.
"We told President Mbeki that there is a big gap between what is
agreed during the talks and what takes place out there. There is no evidence
of a definitive paradigm shift on the part of Zanu PF that there is a crisis
in Zimbabwe. They are in denial. There is denial that the opposition exists
in Zimbabwe," he added.
But Mugabe, speaking to journalists after meeting Mbeki, dismissed the
MDC claims of state-sponsored violence.
Mugabe said: "That's the usual accusation from the MDC. What basis do
they have for raising that matter in the dialogue that is taking place?
Maybe he (Tsvangirai) wanted to confer to his friends whoever they are. We
wonder whether he raised the issue of the recent violence in his party
between factions of the two women and him taking sides. I don't think he
raised that issue as he told his friends about the ills of my government."
Biti said the MDC also told Mbeki Zanu PF should realise that dialogue
was the only way to end Zimbabwe's crisis.
He said the MDC wanted the talks to end the crisis of legitimacy by
ensuring that elections are not stolen and that there is a new democratic
"We want legitimacy through uncontested elections. The elections must
be acceptable to the international community and the region. They must also
be in line with international standards and norms of democratic elections,"
He said the MDC discussed with Mbeki the timeframe of the dialogue and
it was agreed talks should end by early December.
"There are critical time limits on the dialogue. When you have gone
through the process of re-writing laws and you need a gestation period to
have those laws take root in the ground, when do you have elections?" Biti
He said the parties to the dialogue were yet to deliberate on when
next year's harmonised presidential and parliamentary elections would be
held. "The elections date is still on the talks agenda. We are still to
negotiate on the matter," Biti added.
Asked whether the MDC would contest next year's elections if the talks
collapse, he said the opposition was yet to make a decision on that. "We are
committed to the peaceful resolution of the Zimbabwe crisis. The party will
make a decision on whether or not to participate in the elections if the
talks collapse," Biti said.
He said the MDC and Mbeki also discussed the expectations of the Sadc
region on the talks.
Both factions of the MDC met Mbeki at the South African High
Commissioner's residence at Highlands in Harare, with Tsvangirai leading his
team made up of his deputy Thokozani Khupe, chairman Lovemore Moyo and Biti.
The other faction was represented by its president Arthur Mutambara, his
deputy Gibson Sibanda and secretary-general Welshman Ncube.
Tsvangirai and Mutambara met Mbeki in Pretoria, South Africa, last
weekend to discuss progress on the talks.
Tsvangirai is said to have given Mbeki a document chronicling alleged
Zanu PF acts of violence against the opposition.
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono's threat that the
introduction of a new currency was imminent had failed to improve bank
deposits as cash barons continued to cling on to their holdings to trade on
the parallel market.
The cash shortages were still prevalent by yesterday with banks saying
they were not getting deposits from the market. The shortages are set to
worsen after it emerged that $30 trillion is missing from official
circulation. This means that 51% of total cash issued cannot be accounted
for in the banking system.
This leaves only $28 trillion out of an initial $58 trillion in
The latest figures beat last year's record when 22% of the country's
bearer cheques disappeared from the system on the eve of Sunrise Part 1.
This year's cash crisis comes after the central bank said it had
injected $10 trillion into the market through the Basic Commodities Supply
Side Intervention Facility meant to help revive businesses affected by a
government-sponsored price blitz in July.
The RBZ is also sitting on $20 trillion of $500 000 bearer cheques
which are yet to be issued. The central bank had also printed a new $1
million bearer cheque note which Governor Gideon Gono says will however not
because plans are at an advanced stage to launch a genuine new
"Just under half of the cash we put into circulation is still in
circulation. We believe that cash barons are holding the rest," Gono said.
He said the introduction of a new currency was imminent.
"Cash barons would be caught unawares. The cash that will not come
back into the system will be shown in the RBZ's books as profit," Gono said.
"I will simply add it to my books as profit, so I cherish the prospect
of catching them off-guard," he said.
Gono however poured cold water on hopes that the central bank would
intervene to solve the current cash shortages.
Instead he promised to launch Sunrise 2, saying the central bank was
adopting stern measures targeting all those stashing large amounts of cash.
"As monetary authorities, we say no to this callous path, and hereby
declare total war against the illegal dealers who are causing havoc in our
markets. This time around, those who do not take heed will never recover
financially, as a definite ultimate blow is being set on
While Gono said a new currency was imminent, market speculation was
that he was bluffing.
Bank executives who spoke on condition of anonymity said they were
convinced Gono was just trying to scare companies holding cash into banking
it in the formal system.
"He did promise that it would be launched without prior warning. If he
is convinced there are people breaking the law and holding onto cash, where
is the wisdom in pre-empting the Sunrise strategy?" said one banker.
THE Zanu PF Masvingo provincial executive has denounced war veterans'
leader Jabulani Sibanda saying that while they backed the marches he is
leading in support of President Robert Mugabe's candidature in next year's
elections, they want Sibanda to be treated as persona non grata in the
"As a provincial executive, we are clear of the fact that Jabulani
Sibanda was suspended from the party and still remains suspended until we
get official notification from the party's top leadership to the contrary,"
provincial executive spokesperson, Retired Major Kudzai Mbudzi, said.
Mbudzi said the provincial executive was getting agitated by Sibanda
leading the marches in support of Mugabe.
"Sibanda in some cases can be likened to a fool and a hallucinating
psychotic whistling through a graveyard while naked in the middle of the
night," said Mbudzi.
Mbudzi said the Masvingo provincial executive would not accept Sibanda's
leading role in the marches.
He said the issue of Mugabe's candidature was now water under the
"I think the issue of retaining our present presidium in next year's
landmark elections is now water under the bridge. And those who continue
marching for the same cause might probably have hidden agendas which might
be totally different from those of the party," he said.
Mbudzi said the provincial executive had taken the view that the
marches were now unnecessary.
"The effectiveness of our provincial executive is not measured by the
number or intensity of road marches or road runs in support of our top
leadership but by the efficacy in the execution and implementation of those
constitutional functions which we were mandated to perform," he added.
He accused Sibanda and Joseph Chinotimba of not being genuine war
veterans, accusing them of insulting the party's presidium, in particular
Vice-President Joseph Msika, when they took their roadshow to Masvingo.
"Some of these guys who are always on the streets have a propensity of
overdoing things and were far removed from the thick of things during the
armed struggle hence the feelings of dissonance that they might not have
given enough in return for their present appointments," Mbudzi said. "Or is
it simply an advertising venture for future appointments?"
ATTORNEY-General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, arrested three weeks ago for
alleged abuse of office, was reportedly part of former Zanla general staff
that met in Harare in March and resolved that it was time President Robert
Mugabe left office.
Zanla was the military wing of Zanu during the liberation struggle of
The arrest of Gula-Ndebele was allegedly part of Mugabe's succession
battle that signaled the beginning of a crackdown against a camp in Zanu PF
that wanted Vice-President Joice Mujuru to succeed the octogenarian.
Impeccable sources said the onslaught on the faction led by retired
army general Solomon Mujuru was aimed at whipping the camp members into
supporting Mugabe ahead of the ruling party's five-day special congress in
Gula-Ndebele is linked to the Mujuru faction.
The AG was arrested on allegations that he met fugitive former NMBZ
deputy director James Mushore and assured him he would not be arrested for
alleged foreign currency externalisation.
But the sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that the alleged
participation of Gula-Ndebele in the former Zanla general staff meeting in
March, his failure to prosecute over 50 MDC activists accused of petrol
bombings and constant clashes with Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, had
"There were two meetings of the former Zanla general staff in Harare
at the beginning of the year where it was resolved that they approach Mugabe
and tell him to quit," one of the sources said. "The meetings were attended
by Mujuru, retired general Vitalis Zvinavashe and Gula-Ndebele, among
The sources said Gula-Ndebele and an influential group of former Zanla
soldiers, who backed Mugabe to seize control of Zanu during a turbulent
period of the liberation struggle in Mozambique in mid-1970s, had reportedly
lured former Mugabe personal assistant in Mozambique, Emmerson Mnangagwa, to
see if they could confront the president and tell him to retire.
It is understood Mnangagwa refused to be part of the sensitive
The sources said Mugabe refused to meet the group and has since that
time been looking for an opportune moment for a counter-attack. It is said
as a result, a ruthless campaign is now underway to wipe out the Mujuru
During an interview to mark his 83rd birthday in February, Mugabe for
the first time uncharacteristically attacked the Mujuru faction, accusing it
of trying to oust him. He, however, said the group had lost the plot.
Since then Mugabe is said to have been fighting back all the way,
especially after the Mujuru faction frustrated his efforts to secure
endorsement during a crucial Zanu PF central committee meeting on March 30.
The Mujuru camp, riding on the crest of a wave of unprecedented
success against Mugabe at the party's Goromonzi conference in December last
year where it blocked the octogenarian's 2010 plan, thwarted the president's
bid for endorsement.
This forced party spokesmen to lie to cover up the embarrassing
Mugabe was not endorsed to be the Zanu PF candidate at the meeting. He
was only endorsed last month.
The Mujuru faction was defeated during the politburo and central
committee meetings last month where Mugabe emerged on top of the situation.
Mugabe was all but endorsed as candidate at the meetings where the
Mujuru camp not only failed to block him but also ended up tacitly
supporting him. Prior to that on September 5, Mujuru had climbed down at a
politburo meeting where he told Mugabe that there were people lying to him
saying he wanted to oust the Zanu PF first secretary.
Senior Zanu PF officials said it was the first clearest indication
they got that Mujuru and his faction were backtracking on their mission to
confront Mugabe head-on over the contentious party leadership.
Paul Nyakazeya/Lucia Makamure
ZIMBABWE Revenue Authority (Zimra) workers have given notice to go on
strike on December 3 demanding better salaries and working conditions, a
development that is likely to plunge operations at the country's border
posts into chaos and cripple revenue collection.
The workers yesterday said they could embark on the strike as early as
today after realising that their salaries, which were scheduled to have been
deposited in their accounts, had not been reflected by last night.
Zimra workers want their salaries to go up by 5 000% but management
says the revenue collection body can only afford a 200% hike as revenues
have declined drastically following government's controversial price blitz
Last month the organisation failed to pay workers on time because it
In a circular to members of staff by Commissioner General Gershem Pasi
recently, Zimra was said to be negotiating for more funding from its parent
ministry, the Ministry of Finance.
Meanwhile, workers at Avenues Clinic have also threatened to go on
strike because of poor salaries and working conditions.
The workers yesterday demanded a meeting with management to address
their salaries that they wanted reviewed.
Some of the workers at the clinic who spoke to the Zimbabwe
Independent said they would not be taking home any money this month after
deductions on their salaries to cover medical aid shortfalls.
An employee at the clinic this month received a payslip reflecting
"I do not know how they expect me to survive when they give me a
payslip indicating that I will not be getting any money from them," the
LANDS, Land Reform and Resettlement minister Didymus Mutasa has come
under attack from the Zanu PF leadership for flouting land redistribution
procedures laid down by the party at its eighth annual conference at
Esgodini in 2005.
Highly placed sources in Zanu PF said the ruling party provincial
leaderships throughout the country have raised concerns over the continued
issuance of offer letters to Mutasa's cronies, which they described as
unprocedural since they do not conform to the requirements set out by
President Robert Mugabe.
Government requires that all new land allocations have recommendations
from district lands committees, provincial lands committees and be approved
by the national lands committee before Mutasa can issue an offer letter.
"You cannot have people from nowhere coming to claim land in districts
where they are not known," a Zanu PF MP from Mashonaland West said.
The MP said Mutasa had gone on an offer letter issuing frenzy,
planting his cronies at few operating farms as a way of boosting his
"Mutasa cannot simply settle his people, resulting in the current farm
disruptions. What we are saying is that vast stretches of land are not being
utilised. Let's first ensure that the land lying idle is put to productive
use. When we see the need for more land then the maximum farm size policy
should apply before disturbing those that are operating."
The sources said all provinces have disapproved of the continued
issuance of new offer letters arguing that this was counterproductive.
"Mashonaland East, Masvingo and Manicaland came out strongly against
the continued disturbances in agriculture during last month's politburo
meeting," said one source. "They have sent delegations to make
representations to Vice-President Joseph Msika saying what Mutasa was doing
was discrediting the party ahead of elections next year."
Another source said Msika's recent pronouncements in Chiredzi that
conservancies should not be disturbed were partly in response to the
representations brought to his office.
The Mashonaland West leadership last month demanded the removal and
nullification of offer letters issued to Noma Mliswa for Summerhill Farm,
Rotina Mavhunga for Baguta Extension, Brigadier General Dube for Grande
Parade and Brigadier Mtisi for Folliot farm.
Mliswa, Mlotshwa and Mavhunga are well-known Mutasa cronies. Mlotshwa
is Mutasa's lawyer while Mliswa is the minister's nephew and Mavhunga is the
controversial diesel n'anga and Mutasa's personal consultant.
The source said the Mashonaland provincial leadership would ensure
that those with unprocedural
offer letters would be removed so that sanity prevails ahead of the
"We will seek the consent of Msika (VP responsible for land reform)
and what he says will carry the day," the MP said. "As we approach the
elections there is no need to create a disgruntled electorate who will vote
The continued issuance of offer letters has triggered a wave of
evictions throughout the country, disrupting the few operating agricultural
The sources accused Mutasa of using the land reform to plant his
people in provinces to bolster his bid for a position in the presidium.
Mutasa has openly declared his interest to become vice-president.
Earlier in the week he defended his position, describing his approach
as nationalistic and progressive in outlook, castigating some politicians
for advocating racial and tribal tendencies.
He accused some politicians of supporting white farmers for personal
THE United States yesterday said it was still committed to seeing free
and fair presidential, legislative and council elections in Zimbabwe next
Speaking soon after presenting his credentials to President Robert
Mugabe, new US ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee said he was thrilled to be
in the country and excited about the challenge ahead.
"Today's meeting with President Mugabe was the beginning of my work. I
am looking forward to working with the people of Zimbabwe during this
increasingly difficult period in their lives," McGee said. "My job as US
ambassador to Zimbabwe is to work with anyone who wants to cooperate with us
to improve the situation here. The US remains committed to seeing free and
fair elections next year through which the people of Zimbabwe can express
McGee also said an important part of his job was to oversee US
assistance to Zimbabwe.
The US will give over US$$200 million worth of assistance this year.
It will help feed nearly one-in-five Zimbabweans with about US$170
million of food aid. HIV and Aids programmes have increased to US$31 million
this year, including anti-retroviral treatment for 40 000 Zimbabweans.
McGee noted: "Today is Thanksgiving in the US. It is a day on which we
give thanks for all that we have. That makes it even more important to focus
on our programmes that help bring aid to the many Zimbabweans in need."
McGee came to Zimbabwe after three years as US ambassador to
Madagascar and the Union of the Comoros.
He has also served as ambassador to Swaziland from 2002 to 2004.
McGee began his foreign service career in 1981 and has served in
Lagos, Nigeria; Lahore, Pakistan; the Hague, Netherlands; Mumbai, India;
Bridgetown, Barbados; Kingston, Jamaica; and Abidjan, Cote D'Ivoire.
He was born in Chicago, Illinois, in 1949 and is a graduate of Indiana
He served in the US Air Force from 1968 to 1974 and completed
Vietnamese-language studies at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey,
McGee earned three Distinguished Flying Crosses during his duty in
Vietnam. - Staff Writer.
By Jonathan Moyo
WHAT are the reasons behind President Robert Mugabe's quest for
another term in office in the forthcoming general election as it is now
clear to everyone that there is absolutely nothing good or better which he
will be able to do for Zimbabwe which he has been unable to do in 27 years
Apparently, there are three reasons and all of them are personal.
The first has to do with what Mugabe sees as the "Kaunda jinx". With
old age obviously getting the better of him, Mugabe is said to be now
displaying the typical granny-habit of frequently talking to himself a lot
about all of kinds of little nothings. One such nothing about which he has
been repeatedly mumbling to himself to validate his 2008 candidacy is that
he will not leave office after 27 years like the former president of Zambia,
Kenneth Kaunda, who was thrown out of power through the polls after 27
controversial years in power.
To Mugabe, "27 years" is cursed by the ghost of Kaunda's unceremonious
exit in 1991 and for that reason he must seek reelection in March in order
to remain in office well beyond 27 years in order to set his own standard.
On this score, Mugabe is said to mumble to himself words like "Oh, they
think I am like Kaunda and I will go after 27 years. Why? They are mad. I
won't go like Kaunda. I will go in my own way and at my own time. They will
The second reason that Mugabe is said to be mumbling to himself like a
jolly good old man while rationalising his divisive 2008 reelection bid is
that he is deeply troubled by the fact that allegations that he is an
illegitimate president who stole the election in 2002 have refused to go
away. Hence Mugabe is said to habitually mutter to himself such things as,
"Oh so they think I am an electoral thief! Okay, I will show them who I am.
I will run again in 2008 and humiliate them once and for all by showing them
that the people are with me. Let them have whatever they mean by free and
fair elections and they will not defeat me. No, they just can't defeat me if
we give them their free and fair elections in March and not later."
Winning "free and fair" elections that will not be credibly disputed
by his detractors has become a legacy issue for Mugabe. Opposition and
international charges that he is an electoral thief have deeply wounded him.
This is because he believes that he is so popular with the electorate that
there is nobody in or outside Zanu PF who can defeat him in any popular
Indeed, Mugabe's determination to prove his detractors wrong about his
electoral support is one of the key explanations behind his Machiavellian if
not meaningless concessions in the ongoing Sadc-mandated dialogue between
Zanu PF and the MDC factions being mediated by President Thabo Mbeki who was
in the country yesterday in a desperate effort to salvage the dialogue that
is now clearly on the rocks.
The third and most fundamental reason that Mugabe is said to murmur to
himself as justification for his contentious 2008 reelection bid comes from
his profound fear of the "Hague Factor". Although he does not want to
discuss the issue with anybody, Mugabe is said to be only too eager to talk
to himself aloud about his fear that he would be dragged to the Hague in the
Netherlands by "imperialists or their puppets" on charges of having
committed crimes against humanity during his troubled rule through
horrendous acts such as Gukurahundi.
The murmurs he is said to make about this fear are to the effect that,
"Oh, so now they want me to step down even when the people clearly want me
to continue serving them! All because they want to take me to their Kangaroo
court in The Hague? What temerity! We shall see. They won't get anywhere
with that. After all they are the ones who have committed the worst
atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan. They are the ones who should be put on
trial, not me. Anyway, I'm not going anywhere. I will remain here serving my
people till I die."
It is telling that Mugabe's desire to remain in office for life in
order to retain his immunity lest he is prosecuted on allegations of
committing crimes against humanity is the only one of his three reasons for
seeking reelection in March which has been astonishingly picked up as a
campaign issue by some of his opportunistic backers in Zanu PF.
Two weeks ago Vice-President Joseph Msika, who all along had been seen
as a towering voice of reason against Mugabe's hunt for endorsement in Zanu
PF, shocked the nation by proclaiming at a party meeting organised by the
Harare province that Mugabe should remain in office for life.
Msika's proclamation opened the floodgates of irrationality bordering
on insanity. Last weekend the head of Zanu PF's women's league, Oppah
Muchinguri, who is also Gender and Community Development minister, made a
deathly statement while addressing a party meeting to rally support for
Mugabe's endorsement in Gweru that was also addressed by Zanu PF secretary
for legal affairs and Minister of Rural Housing Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Said she: "The late Vice-President Joshua Nkomo died in office and the
late Vice-President Simon Muzenda died in office; President Mugabe must also
be allowed to die in office."
Muchinguri's scandalous statement - which revealed Zanu PF's morbid
manifesto for 2008 - was broadcast on ZTV news on Monday. The essence of
that manifesto, whose pillars are the three reasons why Mugabe is seeking
reelection as outlined above, is that the ongoing solidarity marches and
rallies proclaiming Mugabe's endorsement as Zanu PF's presidential candidate
next year are all about trying to keep Mugabe in office for life.
As such, Mugabe's reelection campaign is all about himself and for
himself. The reactionary forces in Zanu PF and from other groups allied to
the ruling party that have been falling over each other to opportunistically
proclaim their endorsement of Mugabe's candidacy have not put forward even
just one rational explanation for their incredulous support for Mugabe
beyond scandalously profiling him as a revolutionary who must rule for life.
Yet the simple fact is that there has never been, and there never will
be, a revolution that is for and about an individual. Those who confuse an
individual with a revolution are repugnant reactionaries who pose
danger-most-serious to society and who are thus enemies of the people's
Any person who, as head of state and government, wants to rule for
life under any pretext is by definition a danger to society. And anybody and
any group that supports and endorses such a person's continued stay in
office under whatever pretext is also by definition very dangerous to
While it may be possible for some people to stop themselves from going
up, it is just not possible for anyone to stop themselves when they start
going down. Mugabe is clearly going down yet even he is pretending to be
going up through his reelection bid. He cannot and will not stop himself. He
needs to be stopped for his sake.
Those blindly supporting and endorsing his ill-fated reelection bid
must know that human beings do not get stronger, healthier and wiser as they
grow older. The contrary is true because the passing years necessarily steal
from any person one thing after another until there is nothing left. When
age is in, the wisdom is out. That is why it is a contradiction in terms to
describe an aged person, such as Mugabe, as a visionary.
It should therefore go without saying that Mugabe is no longer as
strong, healthy and wise as he may have been in the past.
Right now Zimbabweans have become hopeless and helpless as the country
continues to face three intertwined challenges that are crying out for
systematic attention, namely:
The need for a political settlement to restore national confidence in
our system of governance and legal dispensation;
The need for a rational economic rescue package to halt the
precipitous economic meltdown and to turnaround the national economy; and,
The need to end to Zimbabwe's international isolation and economic
None of Mugabe's three reasons behind his 2008 reelection bid
addresses any of these challenges. In fact, it is not possible to address
these challenges through any presidential election campaign that has Mugabe
at its helm.
The weight of the crisis facing Zimbabwe today requires an energetic
leader who is among the stronger, healthier and wiser members of our society
to lead a national people's patriotic front that brings together everyone
while addressing national and not personal issues.
Professor Jonathan Moyo is Independent MP for Tsholotsho.
By Steve H Hanke
SINCE March, Zimbabwe has been in the midst of a hyperinflation (a
rate of inflation per month that exceeds 50%). This phenomenon is rather
Indeed, prior to Zimbabwe, there had only been 29 hyperinflations.
Zimbabwe's hyperinflation is destroying the economy, pushing more of
its inhabitants into poverty and forcing millions of Zimbabweans to
emigrate. Since 1997, inflation has surged by over 1 030 217%, while living
standards (as measured by real GDP per capita) have fallen by 35%.
In addition, hyperinflation has robbed people of their savings and
financial institutions of their capital via negative real interest rates.
This form of theft occurs, in large part, because the laws and regulations
governing financial institutions (pension funds, insurance companies,
building societies, and banks) force them to either purchase government
treasury bills that yield only a small fraction of the current inflation
rate or to make deposits at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe that pay no
Not surprisingly, the value of the Zimbabwe dollar has been wiped out.
The accompanying figure tells the devastating story - one that is ominously
following the same plot as that taken by the mark during the great German
hyperinflation of the 1920s.
If all that destruction hasn't been painful enough, worse is yet to
come. Private sector economists expect Zimbabwe's GDP to fall by 12% in
2007, and the International Monetary Fund projects that year-on-year
inflation could exceed 100 000% by year-end.
As I conclude in my recent book, Zimbabwe: Hyperinflation to Growth,
the most rapid and reliable way to stop hyperinflation in Zimbabwe is to
replace central banking with a new monetary regime. This would signal a
clean break with the practices that have created hyperinflation and give
Zimbabweans reliable assurance that inflation will henceforth remain
One monetary regime that would stop Zimbabwe's hyperinflation is free
banking. Under this system, private banks issue notes (paper money) and
other liabilities with minimal regulation. A completely free banking system
has no central bank, no lender of last resort, no reserve requirements, and
no legal restrictions on bank portfolios, interest rates, or branch banking.
Free banking systems have existed in nearly 60 countries during the
1800s and early 1900s. Zimbabwe had free banking from the time the first
bank was established in 1892 until the government replaced free banking with
a currency board in 1940.
Zimbabwe's free banking was among the least restricted that ever
existed. At the time, the country had only two commercial banks, the
Standard Bank of South Africa and the Bank of Africa (later part of Barclays
They issued notes denominated in pounds, and kept their privately
issued pounds equal to the pound sterling - except during the First World
War and for a few years afterwards, when the local pound floated along with
the South African pound (the predecessor to the rand) against the pound
Free banking ended in Zimbabwe not because it performed poorly, but
because the government desired the profit from issuing notes.
Although free banking might be unfamiliar, the principles of
competition that underlie it are not, because they are already at work in
deposit banking. We do not usually think of deposits from different banks as
being different types of currency, but in effect they are - at least, they
are different brands of a common unit of account. By holding a deposit at
one bank rather than others, a depositor is choosing that bank's management,
portfolio and services over those of its competitors.
Free banking extends competition from deposits to notes. In practice,
multiple brands of notes have generally not created problems for free
banking systems any more than multiple brands of deposits create problems in
central banking or other systems. In a system of fully free banking, the
field includes anyone (domestic or foreign) who meets the requirements
common to other businesses (registering a place of business, stating who the
officers are, listing the shareholders periodically, and publishing
financial statements if the company is not a private partnership).
Competition weeds out firms that are less astute at delivering what
consumers want. Abundant experience indicates that depositors want assurance
that they are placing their funds with a financially solid bank.
That is why the tendency almost everywhere is for a few large but
highly competitive banks to dominate the market, though leaving niches for
small banks to serve specialised clienteles.
Under free banking, banks would have the liberty to issue deposits and
circulate notes in any currency - the US dollar, South African rand, gold,
etc. In past free banking systems, they have converged on a single unit of
account, typically gold or a foreign currency.
In Zimbabwe it is quite possible they would converge on the South
African rand. However, free banking leaves it for banks and customers to
discover what works best for them; it does not presume that the government
already knows the answers.
Steve H Hanke is a professor of applied economics at the Johns
Hopkins University in Baltimore and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute in
CORRUPTION in Africa is declining as potential bribers realise it is
bad for business, one of the continent's richest businessmen said on Monday.
Sudanese telecoms entrepreneur Mo Ibrahim said booming commodity
prices and new leadership were ushering in new growth and the Western world
risked ignoring a new era in Africa.
"I think we are turning a corner," he told Reuters on the sidelines of
an African investment conference in London.
"For the first time, we are getting a reasonable price for
commodities. At the same time, you are seeing a clear improvement in the
standard of governance in Africa."
Ibrahim, who sponsors a new US$5 million prize for African leadership
given this year to former Mozambican leader Joaquim Chissano, said the
commodities price rise was primarily due to growth in China and India.
The improved governance came from a new generation of leaders coupled
with a more vocal civil society unwilling to watch their leaders get rich
Investors had also realised that fostering corruption cost money in
the long term, he said, adding that he had never felt tempted to bribe his
"The problem with greasing palms is that once you start it never
ends," he said. "You always have to bribe another minister. The regime
changes for next year and you have to do it all again. It just erodes your
Once people realise you do not give bribes, they stop expecting them,
Ibrahim said his US$5 million prize - the largest single prize of its
kind in the world, several times a Nobel Prize - was aimed at promoting
greater leadership and transparency.
He said the outside world tended to concentrate much more on bad news
in Africa than on good, and African leaders such as Chissano - who stood
aside after leading his country to peace and democracy after years of civil
war - were not well known.
"You have limited space for Africa and so you only run two stories,"
he said. "Every man, woman and child in Europe knows who (President Robert)
Mugabe is but who has heard of Chissano?" - Reuters.
ZIMBABWE'S recently launched biodiesel project will, according to
experts, largely depend on a consistent supply of feedstock in the form of
cotton, soya beans and jatropha seed for its success, a requirement which
poses a serious challenge to players in the agricultural sector.
While stakeholders have welcomed the initiative, there are mixed
feelings on whether farmers who are failing to produce enough food crops due
to underutilisation of land and lack of inputs will be able to ensure
sufficient supplies for the project.
According to a document issued at the launch last week, the inaugural
plant at Heydon Farm in Mount Hampden has the capacity to produce "up to 100
million litres when fully integrated, supported by the availability of
sufficient feedstock of oil seeds" per annum.
The document says at full capacity, the economy requires around a
billion litres of diesel annually, which can be achieved if the 10
provincial plants, envisaged to be in place by 2010, produce 100 million
At least 500 tonnes of seed oil would be required annually to produce
100 million litres of biodiesel.
Harare-based economist John Robertson said the biodiesel initiative
was a noble idea which could only be successful if the country's
agricultural industry operated at full throttle in order to produce the
"There should be total utilisation of the land to ensure the required
feedstock supplies," said Robertson. "It must be borne in mind that we are
currently not able to produce enough food as a nation and we are depending
on imports," Robertson said.
"Part of the feedstock for biodiesel is from food crops like soya
beans, sunflower and rape and other non-food crops like cotton and jatropha
which is the main crop for the project. So, there is need to strike a
balance between food and fuel producing plants and to ensure that
plantations are well maintained by providing enough water, fertiliser and
other requirements," he said.
He said given the current state of agriculture, the project would take
a lot of time and money to be fully operational.
"It is practical to produce the envisaged quantities of biodiesel. It
is not beyond us but it is not going to be easy. There is need for optimum
land utilisation," said Robertson.
"On the other hand, there is need to ensure uninterrupted power
supplies for the processing plant and water at farms where oilseed should be
produced on a large-scale without depending on rain and that means
developing reliable irrigation infrastructure," he said.
"Although jatropha is draught-resistant, there is need to scale up
production of other oilseed crops all year round to ensure sufficient
supplies for the intended provincial plants and this is where I feel the
challenge lies," said Robertson.
The chairman of Transload Enterprises, which is involved in the
project, an SP Parirehwa, said the project was anchored on the ability of
farmers to produce enough feedstock.
"As Zimbabweans, we are fortunate that our country has rich soils and
a very conducive climate for growing oilseeds. Our farmers are therefore
challenged to grow abundant oilseed to support this plant," said Parirehwa
at the launch.
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono also acknowledged the
challenge on the farming community to produce adequate feedstock and pledged
that the bank would provide farmers with the necessary financial support for
the programme, which he said would save the country US$35-80 million per
annum in foreign currency.
Fuel costs account for 15-20% of the total production costs across key
sectors of the economy.
Estimates from the Ministry of Agricultural Engineering, Mechanisation
and Irrigation show that the overall production of various crops and
livestock for the 2007-2008 season requires 3 322 222 hectares of land and
119 458 500 litres of diesel.
An agricultural expert within the ministry, who requested not to be
named, said there was need for more land and identification of capable
farmers to produce oilseed crops for the project.
The expert pointed out the need for government to ensure early
provision of inputs like seed and fertiliser.
"If we continue the way we have been running our agriculture over the
past five years, this otherwise noble biodiesel project will be a flop," he
"We need productive farmers on the land and full support by government
in terms of incentives. Already our preparations for this season have been
affected by lack of inputs and this problem should come to an end if this
project is to succeed," he said.
Officials from two leading oil companies also hailed the biodiesel
initiative but said its success would depend on the commitment of government
and the farmers charged with producing the oilseeds.
"Obviously, that is a positive development and we hope the farmers
will be able to meet the demand for oilseed," said one official.
"At the moment all is not well in our agricultural sector and one
hopes that there is going to be better planning and coordination this time
around," he said.
According to statistics in the launch booklet, the production of
oilseeds has been in decline since 1994, mainly due to droughts experienced
in the southern African region and Zimbabwe's chaotic land reform programme.
While the country produced about 105 000 tonnes of soya beans in 1994,
the figure dropped to 55 000 tonnes in 2006.
Sunflower production dropped from 40 000 tonnes in 1994 to 20 000 in
Groundnut production went down slightly from about 95 000 tonnes to 90
000 while there was an increase from about 105 000 tonnes to 150 000 tonnes
in cotton seed production.
Since 2005, government through the Ministry of Energy and Power
Development and the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe has stepped up efforts
to promote the production of the jatropha curcas plant as an alternative
source of biodiesel to minimise fuel shortages in the country.
It established a Jatropha Growers and Biofuels Association aimed at
disseminating information, technology and agricultural inputs to farmers.
The jatropha project was launched in October 2005 in Mutoko where the plant
The National Oil Company of Zimbabwe was mandated to spearhead the
project through an outgrower scheme under which it would enter into
contracts with farmers who were willing to put at least five hectares or
more under jatropha. However, the production of the crop is still at the
experimental stage in Mutoko.
Farmers in the area would rather produce food crops than jatropha as
they still have to come to grips with the benefits of the new cash crop.
Statistics on the production of the crop are not readily available and it is
not clear how much feedstock quantities are available at the Mount Hampden
Officials in the oil industry said with commitment, Zimbabwe could
join Germany, Central American countries, Egypt, India and South Africa that
were enjoying the benefits of developing biodiesel plants.
HIGH Court judge Justice Tendayi Uchena on Wednesday denied bail to
six men facing treason charges for plotting a coup against President Robert
Mugabe after the state gave new evidence that could lead to conviction of
The six alleged coup plotters, Albert Matapo, Nyasha Zivuku, Oncemore
Mudzurahona, Emmanuel Marara, Patson Mupfure and Shingirai Mutemachani, have
been in custody since May and this was the second time they were applying
"Knowledge by the applicants that the state has gathered such evidence
would in my view induce the applicants to want to abscond to avoid a trial
at which such evidence may lead to possible convictions," said the High
Uchena said the investigating officer, Simon Mundondwa's evidence
indicated that more arrests could be made.
"Mundondwa's evidence is in fact to the effect that other arrests may
still be made," he said.
According to Uchena's judgement, the investigating officer has
gathered credible evidence.
"He (Mundondwa) had recorded statements from witnesses who were
approached by the applicant and requested to take part in the coup plot. He
mentioned in particular an Air Force officer whose evidence he recorded in
Gweru who was approached and asked to fly a plane for a particular task
during the coup plot. He also mentioned that some of the
participants/witnesses were asked to remain on duty to facilitate an easy
take over of barracks," Uchena said ruled.
The judge said Mundondwa's new evidence includes statements that were
recorded from military and government officials who were approached to take
part in the coup.
"It was argued by Mr (Charles) Warara for the applicants that no coup
could have succeeded without the involvement of the military or government
officials. That is a valid observation but only if the military and
government officials were not approached. The investigating officer's
evidence is that he has recorded statements from such officers who were
approached and asked to participate in the coup plot," he said.
He said the applicants would abscond with the assistance of Matapo who
runs a travel agency and is well connected outside the country.
He said Matapo had demonstrated his ability to evade systems as he
once travelled to the Unite Kingdom without using a passport.
THE African Caribbean and Pacific (ACP)-European Union (EU) Joint
Parliamentary Assembly which met in Rwanda this week has said universal
principles and standards, free media, minority representation and effective
opposition are vital to democracy.
Zimbabwe was represented at the assembly by Senator Clarisa Muchengeti
and Forbes Magadu, both of Zanu PF and Nelson Chamisa from the MDC.
"All states should recognise that whilst free and fair elections are a
prerequisite for democracy, they do not guarantee democratic governance.
States establishing democratic institutions and frameworks should also be
guided by the universal principles and standards in international and
regional instruments," said a report on elections and electoral processes
that was presented at the assembly.
Presenting the report, co-rapporteur, Betty Amongi (Uganda), gave a
list of prerequisites for free and fair elections. These included
independent institutional frameworks for organising them, respecting the
rights of all parties to recruit, assemble and freely associate, independent
media to which the opposition has equal access, and an environment free of
Amongi also stressed the need to "bring women and other disadvantaged
groups on board" to enable them to "access positions of leadership".
"Secret ballots, a legal framework for complaints about
irregularities, and international observer missions are also necessary," she
"We agreed that elections are essential, but not sufficient, for
democracy," said the other rapporteur, Miguel Angel Martinez, explaining
that the report seeks to go for the" whole truth".
The report said governments should establish a legal regime that
allows for an independent, free and balanced media by ensuring that the
state does not have a monopolistic or dominant position and encouraging a
wide-range of private media that is not dominated by one group or
Zimbabwe earlier this year refused to grant permission to an ACP
fact-finding mission to the country to assess the human rights situation.
Meanwhile, the 42nd Ordinary session of the African Commission on
Human and Peoples' Rights which is in session in Brazzaville has called on
Zimbabwe and Kenya, which face elections in the coming months, to ensure
freedom of expression and access to information, saying these are
prerequisites for free, fair and credible elections.
FORMER PF-Zapu members in Zanu PF in the Matabeleland region are
fuming after the government delayed conferring national hero status on
Retired Lieutenant Colonel Masala Sibanda, who was buried at Lady Stanley
cemetery in Bulawayo on Saturday.
The late conferment of national hero status on Sibanda comes barely a
week after another former PF-Zapu cadre and Bulawayo town clerk, Stanley
Donga, was declared a liberation war hero almost a month after he was
Donga was also buried at Lady Stanley cemetery.
Sibanda was a former Zipra High Command staff during the war of
He was arrested and detained by President Robert Mugabe's government
after independence on allegations of treason after arms caches were
allegedly discovered at former Zapu farms.
He was arrested together with former Zipra commanders Lookout Masuku,
Dumiso Dabengwa and Swazini Ndlovu.
Ndlovu and Masuku are also buried at Lady Stanley cemetery after the
Zanu PF-led government did not accord them national hero status.
In the Sibanda case, Zanu PF's secretary for administration, Didymus
Mutasa, wrote to the party leadership on Monday this week declaring him a
This was despite the fact that Sibanda had been buried two days
Mutasa said the delay was
because the party was facing communication problems among senior
"It's unfortunate that Sibanda has been buried but we are announcing
that he is a national hero. We cannot say there was a delay, it's just that
there was a communication breakdown with the national chairman, John Nkomo.
Phones, both landlines and mobile, were giving (us) problems," Mutasa said.
But PF-Zapu cadres who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent this week
said the issue of delaying in conferring former PF-Zapu members with hero
status was a deliberate ploy by the Zanu PF government to ensure that they
are never buried at the National Heroes Acre.
"Zanu PF does not want deserving PF-Zapu cadres to be buried at the
National Heroes Acre and the delays are only witnessed in Matabeleland while
for former Zanla cadres there are no delays. All this indicates that Zanu PF
does not take the Unity Accord seriously," said one former senior PF-Zapu
Former PF Zapu secretary-general, Welshman Mabhena, who was
unceremoniously dismissed from government, said the Unity Accord was a horse
and rider relationship and Zanu PF was benefiting more from the pact than
"It is sad that deserving heroes like Lookout Masuku, Jean Ntutha and
Swazini Ndlovu are buried at Lady Stanley cemetery when they are supposed to
be at the National Heroes Acre," Mabhena said.
Zimbabwe Liberators Peace Initiative president Max Mnkandla said
latest developments indicate that the Unity Accord was not signed on an
A PARLIAMENTARY portfolio committee will next week launch an
investigation into the cancellation of an airport construction tender by the
Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ).
The tender was for the construction of a runway at Victoria Falls
airport and had been awarded to Zimlantic Investments. The main tender for
the construction of the airport terminal was awarded to Costain Africa.
Zimlantic Investments got the tender as a subcontractor.
The parliamentary portfolio committee on Transport and Communications
wants to know why Zimlantic Investments' contract was cancelled when it had
already found a foreign financier for the construction of the runway.
Zimlantic Investments had agreed with South Africa's Nedbank to fund
the project but the deal collapsed after the contract was cancelled at the
CAAZ general manager, David Chaota, this week told the committee that
the decision to cancel the contract was made by the board of directors.
When asked why the contract was cancelled in the first place Chaota
said: "We don't just cancel tenders for the sake of cancelling them."
Committee chairperson, Leo Mugabe, told Chaota that the committee
believed he was protecting a higher authority.
"In this age of sanctions, in a situation where our country risk is
very high, it is surprising to hear that a contract which has found an
external financier is cancelled," Mugabe said.
"I think you are protecting someone here. We will have to meet you,
alone next week and get to the bottom of this matter."
A member of the committee told businessdigest that they would be
launching an investigation into the issue.
"It's clear that something is not right about the whole issue. We want
to investigate to get the real issue," said the MP. "We can't have
parastatals just canceling contracts willy-nilly when the country is already
behind schedule in the preparations for the World Cup."
The tender has since been awarded to a company called Dubai World.
The plan was to expand the Victoria Falls airport in anticipation of
increased traffic during the 2010 soccer World Cup to be held in South
The portfolio committee was informed that Dubai World had engaged a
South African-based engineering company to redesign the runway and reduce it
from 4km to 3km. Construction work on the airport terminal building has also
been stopped due to the confusion surrounding the runway's sub-contractor
and escalating costs.
When the tender was floated, the total cost of construction was $3
billion but it has since escalated to $3,1trillion plus a foreign currency
component of US$4,5 million.
Costain cannot continue to build the terminal unless construction at
the runway proceeds.
"The terminal building will not make money unless there is a runway
which provides throughput. That is why the runway is a big issue," said
During the floating of the tender, CAAZ told interested bidders to
submit financing proposals with their bids after the cash-strapped
government failed to commit itself to funding the construction works.
The main contractor and sub-contractor submitted a build pperate
transfer (BOT) financing proposal to ring fence revenues generated from the
airport and recoup investment costs.
Chaota told the committee that most works would have to be redone
because of the delays.
"We are in a worse off position because some works have to be redone
because they were weathered as they were earthworks," Chaota said.
Chaota said CAAZ had not been able to find off-shore funding for the
construction of other airports around the country.
"We have in the past engaged a number of possible partners but when we
get to the crucial stages they just disappear," he said.
Some of the World Cup projects that have stalled include expansion of
Buffalo Range Airport and the construction of a stadium in Beitbridge.
THE Minister of Finance Samuel Mumbengegwi will present the 2008
National Budget next Thursday but the market is not expecting any surprises.
Analysts who spoke to businessdigest this week said Mumbengegwi was
unlikely to come up with viable policies to revive the economy which has
been in recession for the past seven years. Zimbabwe's economy has shrunk by
more than 50% since the crisis started in 2000. Shortages of basic
commodities, power, fuel, water and foreign currency have persisted despite.
Mumbengegwi will present his budget at a time food shortages have
worsened and inflation has galloped to an all time high of 14 840,6%.
Service provision had collapsed on the back of deteriorating infrastructure
like roads, schools and health facilities. Unemployment continues to grow.
"Given the state of the economy, the market should not expect any
serious policy shift in the budget," said an economist with a commercial
bank. "It will just be a tabulation and allocation of huge figures that are
not related to revenue growth," he said. Mumbengegwi will also have problems
in distributing the government revenue which has been shrinking for the past
five years because of company closures and increased unemployment.
The government is also yet to recover from the losses it suffered
during the price blitz. As at September 31 government has lost $20 trillion
in potential revenue from income and Value Added Tax. Analysts say the loss
could increase to about $65 trillion by the end of the year. Given the
shrinking revenue base Mumbengegwi is likely to rely heavily on the
borrowings from the local market and money printing in order to cover
government's costs. In September Mumbengegwi presented a $37,1 trillion
supplementary budget which however failed to meet the request by ministries
that wanted $255 trillion.
"There is no way inflation can be contained given that budgets are
being financed through tax increases," said Genesis Bank economist, Brains
Economic consultant, John Robertson said the market expected the
minister to address the supply side bottlenecks in order to improve the
availability of commodities on the market. "The problem is that minister
will not be able to deal with this problem decisively because of politics,"
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Wellington Chibebe
said workers should not raise their hopes because previous budgets have
shown that the government is not interested in reducing the tax burden. "We
want taxes to be linked to the poverty datum line according to the Incomes
and Prices Stabilisation protocol which was signed by social partners,"
THE government and Cottco transaction on Olivine Industries (Pvt) Ltd
might be a done deal but the controversy surrounding the acquisition is far
Government used the deal to become the majority shareholder in Olivine
with 51% but invited Cottco to take up the remaining 49% after HJ Heinz
It all sounds like a fair deal considering that Cottco officially paid
US$6,8 million for a company whose value could otherwise be over US$100
million were it not for the economic crisis and the fact that HJ Heinz just
However, an investigation into the specifics of the deal reveals that
there is more to it than has been told to the market.
The market was told that HJ Heinz was paid US$6,8 million by Cottco on
August 16, 2007 but all the public announcements and statements on the deal
seem to have conveniently omitted to mention that more money changed hands
in order to make the transaction possible.
Businessdigest can reveal that government could have structured the
deal in order to benefit from a combination of tax and duty waivers that it
gave itself during the transaction.
While the agreed value of Olivine had come to about US$7,5 million if
taxes and duties are included Cottco was made to pay US$6,8 million directly
to HJ Heinz.
The difference between the actual value of the deal and what Cottco
paid to HJ Heinz went to Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) which had
negotiated the deal on behalf of government. IDC is an investment vehicle
for the government.
Confidential documents in possession of businessdigest show that
Cottco was made to pay US$460,947 to IDC using the Old Mutual Implied Rate
"The GoZ (Government of Zimbabwe) through IDC has invited Cottco, as
technical partner, to acquire 49% of the entire issued share capital of
Olivine Holdings (Pvt) Ltd and all its subsidiaries and associates in return
for which Cottco will effect payment to H J Heinz in the amount of US$6 825
000 payable in foreign currency in full settlement of IDC's obligations to
HJ Heinz arising from preamble E plus US$460 947 payable in local currency
after conversion at the Old Mutual Implied Rate," said part of the
The problem is that IDC was not supposed to get the money in the first
place because it was for taxes and duties under the structure of the deal.
The other issue is that Cottco was being made to pay using a rate
which is far more than the official rate which at that time was US$1:$250.
The OMIR is the accepted parallel market rate in business circles.
Government has in the past threatened to deal with businesses that use
parallel market rate.
Questions have been raised as to why the official rate was not used.
The third issue is that the shareholder's agreement does not state the
purpose of the extra payment that Cottco made to IDC. An official who was
part to the talks that culminated into the deal said the extra amount arose
from the fact that government did not want to extend the tax waiver in had
given itself to Cottco.
"Government gave itself a waiver on tax and duty that came with the
deal but they still went on to claim the money from Cottco. If this was a
transparent deal government should not have claimed money they did not pay
from Cottco," said the official. The waiver was for the whole deal and not
In other words government got a reimbursement for tax and duty money
it did not pay. There is yet another problem though.
Although Cottco paid the money as fees for duty and tax questions have
been raised as to why the payment went to IDC instead of Zimra as the
revenue collection authority.
This means that IDC was therefore making a profit from a waiver that
government had approved. Because IDC is 100% owned by the state it means
that government was actually benefiting from its own waiver.
The problem through is that the money was not accounted for in Zimra's
books but went to a government company which is not supposed to collect
Buy allowing IDC to make a profit from that tax waiver government was
in other words shortchanging the national treasury in order to benefit its
Although IDC and Zimra are all under government, their roles are
totally different. Zimra collects revenue which is then distributed under a
IDC on the other hand is an investment vehicle which government uses
to do commercial businesses.
IDC managing director Micheal Ndudzo denies that the money was from a
In an interview last week Ndudzo said the extra amount was meant to
cover IDC's "human resources and legal cost" incurred during the
"The place (IDC) literally came to a standstill during the
transaction. We had to push all our top managers to deal with those issues,"
On why the parallel market was used Ndudzo said: "It really does not
matter what rate was used. We used a rate that gives value."
He however does not explain why IDC as a local company had to peg its
costs in foreign currency.
Sources close to the issue insist that the extra money paid by Cottco
was not meant to cover the costs IDC incurred in the deal because each part
had foot their own bills.
Cottco had its on accountants and legal representatives. IDC has its
own team. HJ Heinz hired a consultant from Botswana to act on its behalf.
Under normal circumstances IDC's costs should have been covered by the
government which had appointed it to work on the deal.
ABOUT 90% of the country's bakeries have closed shop since the
beginning of the year after they failed to get consistent fuel and wheat
supplies from government, the National Bakers Association (NBA) has said.
Speaking to businessdigest yesterday, NBA chairman Vincent Mangoma
said 90% of the bakeries have shutdown and they were likely to remain closed
until government announces a new price that would make the baking business
"About 90% of the bakery industry has closed down according to the
calculations done by the bakers association," Mangoma said.
"The majority of the bakeries are not getting flour. Most of the small
to medium bakeries have not been receiving enough fuel from Noczim as was
the case with big bakeries," said Mangoma.
Mangoma said most bakeries were buying wheat at $1 billion per tonne
instead of the gazetted $100 million. The bakeries are also buying fuel on
the parallel market.
"The cost of producing one loaf of bread is between $400 000 and $500
000 and if bakeries are not obtaining inputs from the official market they
will not survive as the end product is controlled," Mangoma said.
Government this week increased the retail price of bread from $100 000
to $200 000. The wholesale price has been pegged at $185 000.
Bakers this week said their inputs were rising weekly and the Ministry
of Industry and International Trade was pretending as if nothing was
Mangoma last month wrote to the National Incomes and Pricing
Commission proposing that the viable standard price of a loaf of bread
should be $400 000.
He submitted that the ultimate remedy to the bread shortage was to peg
the price of bread in Zimbabwe at regional levels tracking the price of the
United States dollar.
The baking industry did not, however, specify the rate at which the
greenback should be pegged, but considering the static nature of the
official rate and its fluctuating rate on the parallel market, they were
said to be looking at the latter.
The NBA submitted that the general price of bread was US$1 per loaf
and urged the government to take a leaf from the regional pricing model for
The National Incomes and Pricing Commission which they were scheduled
to meet yesterday is on record as saying it does not recognise the parallel
market, and has ordered companies to submit import invoices to the
commission from which it would convert the foreign currency component to the
local currency using the official rate.
Major bakeries have scaled down operations drastically citing
viability problems, and calling for an expeditious determination of the
price review application.
Bread is available on the parallel market where a loaf is going for
The baking industry is also reeling from high labour and packaging
NOMSA Bere will be homeless by the end of this month. The owner of a
one-bedroom flat she has been renting in town for the past four years last
month told her that he now requires payment in foreign currency.
"He said he wanted US$100 a month but I told him that I would not be
able to afford it so he gave me a month's notice," said Bere, a receptionist
with a local commercial bank.
Bere's notice will expire at the end of this month but she has not
been able to get alternative accommodation in town.
"Everyone I ask is giving me the same figures. They want their rentals
in foreign currency." This week Bere approached someone who had advertised
to lease a bachelor's flat but she found no joy.
She was told to either offer something in the range of R450 or there
was no deal. When she tried to explain that it was against government
regulations to charge rentals in foreign currency the landlord said: "Then
go and get a flat from those guys who are telling you that. Why should I let
you stay in my flat for the Zimbabwean dollars? Go and tell whoever you
want, even the government is doing it."
It is not only individuals who are demanding payment in foreign
currency. Government has over the past eight months passed regulations
forcing people to pay for services and duties in foreign currency.
In fact the whole country is almost dollarised. Two weeks ago Paxton
Ndebele, a Bulawayo based businessman, received a note from the Post Office
notifying him to collect a parcel that had been sent by a friend in South
The parcel contained old clothes which Ndebele intended to give to his
workers' children as Christmas presents but when he went for collection the
post master demanded foreign currency to release the package.
"They gave me a choice to pay US$29 or 170 pula or R200 but I refused
because I am in Zimbabwe and cannot be paying for services in foreign
currency. I simply don't have the foreign currency," said Ndebele.
"I asked them to take it back and they said they would. I was supposed
to pay the initial amount and failure to do so will result in the parcel
being auctioned and the proceeds will be given to government."
Bere and Ndebele's cases are only a few examples of the hundreds of
Zimbabweans who now are now being forced to pay for goods and services in
As the Zimbabwean dollar continues to crush against major currencies,
eroding the purchasing power of consumers, businesses and individuals are
now demanding payment in foreign currency to hedge against loss of value.
Some businesses are now pegging their quotations in foreign currency as a
hedge against rising inflation. Quotations in local currency are lasting for
less than a day.
The explanation from business is that the local currency is losing
value everyday. Individuals have the same concerns but they have an extra
assurance in doing it: government is doing it too.
Companies like Zimplats have been paying their power bills in foreign
currency since last year. Mutare Board and Paper Mills, the newsprint
manufacturing subsidiary of listed Art Corp, has pledged to pay power bills
in foreign currency. Government departments have joined in the rush for
foreign currency. The registrar general has given the prospective passport
seekers an option to pay in foreign currency. Those that pay the fee of
US$220 will get their passports faster.
Zimra is also demanding duty in foreign currency for imported
vehicles, electrical gadgets and clothes. In some cases foreign currency can
be paid for food imports.
The idea has found supporters even among business leaders.
Three weeks ago Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC)
president, Marah Hativagone, threw her weight behind Air Zimbabwe's proposal
to charge airfares in foreign currency saying the country was 'awash with
United States dollars'. She maintained her position even after media
The question is whether Zimbabwe's economy has been dollarised?
"Partly so," most analyst said this week.
They said although it is still early to say the country has been
dollarised the situation on the ground indicates that Zimbabwe was
approaching that situation. With inflation now at 14 840% most people find
it unwise to save money in local currency. The logical thing is to convert
and save in foreign currency.
But there is a cost to everything.
Brains Muchemwa, an economist with Genesis Bank, said the use of
foreign currency was creating distortions.
"The existence of various goods and services requiring payment in
United States dollars creates multiple pricing distortions," Muchemwa said.
"The authorities don't wish to embrace dollarisation in its entirety
but in piecemeal approach which unfortunately does not carry with it the
full benefits associated with dollarisation."
Muchemwa said the government is concerned with losing its ability to
generate revenue out of issuing the Zimbabwean dollar if it adopts 100%
dollarisation because it won't be able to print money to finance its
"As long as the budget deficit is still very high as is the case right
now, the government will be less willing to adopt full dollarisation." The
trouble with a dollarised state is that it entails that money be generated
instead of being printed.
Economic consultant, John Robertson, said individuals and businesses
that charge in foreign currency were only taking a defensive position
against a weak currency whose value had been destroyed by government's
"We have destroyed our economy, the money has lost all its value, the
productive capacity has been destroyed," Robertson said.
"Government has lost tax revenue because it is has destroyed all the
sectors that used to generate income hence the new drive was to swindle the
few hard currency that Zimbabwean are making, said Robertson.
He said it is government that sent the wrong message to the people
when it started to charge for duty in foreign currency.
"It is government that has said it's acceptable to demand payment in
"It's because the Zimbabwean dollar is now valueless and people need
to be paid money with value. The Zimbabwean dollar is not convertible, and
no individual wants to exchange any currency for the Zimbabwean dollar,"
THE Zimbabwe Chamber of Mines has started lobbying against a proposed
amendment of the Mines and Minerals Act which will compel foreign owned
mines to sell 51% to locals.
According to the amendment government will get 25% for free while the
remaining 26% will be paid for over a period.
Chamber of Mines president, Jack Murehwa, said the Mines and Minerals
Amendment Bill H.B 14 of 2007 which was gazetted on November 16 would have a
serious impact on the mining industry.
"The second component introduces the issue of indeginisation into the
law. Regrettably the Chamber of
Mines has serious concerns about the impact of this component on the
Zimbabwean mining industry," said Murehwa said.
Murehwa said the chamber was now planning to lobby the government to
deal with the contentious clauses on the shareholding structure of foreign
"It is therefore the intention of the Chamber of Mines and mining
development on this matter with a view to seeking convergence of the
though," said Murehwa.
The Chamber of Mines has warned that the policy would put to waste all
the investment that mines had put tin to their operations so far.
It is not clear how the amendment proposes to fund the acquisitions
which have to be paid in foreign
currency. Zimbabwe is currently
facing serious foreign currency shortages.
"The government and locals will have to fork out at least three
trillion Zimbabwe dollars (US$ 3billion) to take any significant equity in
current mining operations," said Murehwa. - Staff Writer.
By Garikai Chimuka
THE current standoff between the EU and the AU regarding President
Mugabe's participation at the EU-AU summit to be hosted by Portugal next
month has raised a number of interesting points.
As it is now clear that Mugabe will attend and the summit will still
go on even if British Prime Minister Gordon Brown does not attend, focus has
now shifted to how to send a clear message to Mugabe that the EU does not
tolerate what is happening in Zimbabwe.
In whatever way the EU chooses to communicate this message to Mugabe,
it must be wary of elevating Mugabe to a martyr, for it is what he is
exactly looking for. Mugabe's strategy at the summit is to be the point of
focus through his predictable, now monotonous anti-British and anti-EU
Given that he has dismally failed at home where his self-serving
policies have spawned an economic crisis never seen outside of a war zone,
his approach will be to shift focus from domestic problems and use his usual
land rhetoric to cast Zimbabwean problems into the hands of Britain and the
He believes, that playing the victim of the British and the EU, he can
gain sympathy, particularly from other African countries and those
uninitiated about the realities of the genesis of the Zimbabwean crisis.
So if the EU formally introduces debate on the human rights situation
as has been suggested in some media reports, Mugabe will simply outsmart
them by deflating the discourse from human rights to land issue.
It is in this context that I strongly believe that the best position
for the EU to take at the summit will be to focus mainly on the issues on
the agenda and totally ignore Mugabe as if he were not there. This does not
however mean sweeping the Zimbabwe issue under the carpet but rather quietly
coming up with decisive actions behind the scenes with other African
countries to settle the Zimbabwean issue.
Obviousily, if Mugabe realises that he has been ignored, he will try
by all means to initiate a media war himself. The EU should proactively work
with the other progressive African countries to make sure that he is not
given the time to grandstand on any issues at the summit.
Chimuka writes from the Netherlands.
By Jan Raath
IT was Ian Smith's war-damaged left eye that drew people's attention
first: wide open, heavy-lidded and impassive from experimental plastic
surgery, it hinted at a dull, characterless nature. The other was narrow,
slanting and slightly hooded. Being watched by it was an uncomfortable
experience. Each eye could have belonged to a different person.
A Foreign Office official, in a biographical note to prime minister
Sir Alec Douglas Home in 1964, caught the same contradictory appearances:
"His pedestrian and humourless manner often conceals a shrewder assessment
of a particular situation than at first appears on the surface, and he
should not be underrated."
The advice was not heeded. He held the attention of a fascinated world
for more than 15 years with an outrageous rebellion against the British
Crown; created a booming economy in the face of United Nations sanctions;
and on a shoestring fought a counter-insurgency war that he came close to
His ordinariness and lack of artifice helped make him an extraordinary
leader. Farmer, sportsman and quiet-spoken church-going Presbyterian, he saw
the world into neat packets of wonderful chaps, terrorists, communists and
His cold reserve served him both as a Spitfire pilot and in the face
of a bawling Harold Wilson. His obstinacy led his personal secretary, Gerald
Clarke, to pass on to him a British complaint that "once you have stated
your position, they are unable to get you to move".
Henry Kissinger perceived honour and courage in Smith when he
delivered what were effectively the terms of Rhodesia's surrender, and he
wept. He was modest to a fault. He refused to press for the DSO and DFC he
deserved after the war, but was not awarded through oversight.
Throughout most of his tenure at Independence, his official residence,
anyone could walk down the driveway and knock on the front door.
He was the world's perfect rebel. Wilson was warned there was a strong
likelihood of a mutiny in the British armed forces if he ordered a military
suppression of UDI. Former South African foreign minister Pik Botha said
Smith could have won an election in South Africa in 1976 while Pretoria was
secretly forcing him to accept black rule.
Smith will struggle to lose the image of the arch white racist. But
black Zimbabweans after Independence admired him for his unbending, blunt
criticism of President Robert Mugabe - giving voice to opinions they dared
not utter. As economic decay set in, Mugabe would be haunted by the words of
fellow blacks: "It was better under Smith."
To dismiss his UDI as an attempt to impose a crude white supremacist
state is a serious oversimplification. He never evinced the coarse racism of
many of his colleagues. His was an anachronistic vision of a sovereign
Rhodesia that embodied the traditions and values of an unchanging empire: he
saw UDI as a short-term measure that would be quickly resolved, with
Rhodesia independent but still closely tied to Britain through the
The winds of change shattered his vision. By the time he became prime
minister, he was up against a Britain that wanted not merely to introduce
black rule, but to strip his government of the powers of self-rule granted
by Whitehall in 1923.
With the brutality of post-independence Africa vivid in the minds of
white Rhodesians, he persisted with "evolutionary, not revolutionary
Thirty-five years after UDI, the racist bogey is less clear. But he
remains condemned for ignoring the extreme disparities between blacks and
whites, and his refusal to change the situation.
Ian Douglas Smith was born in the village of Selukwe (now Shurugwi) in
central Rhodesia on April 8 1919, of a Scottish father, Jock, and
Rhodesian-born mother, Agnes. He was educated at Chaplin school in Gweru
with moderate academic achievement, captained the first XV and ran the 100
yards in 10 seconds.
He began a Bachelor of Commerce degree at Rhodes University in South
Africa in 1938, establishing an impressive academic record and rowing for
War broke out and in 1941 he joined the RAF Empire Air Training Scheme
at Guinea Fowl in central Rhodesia. He was posted to 237 (Rhodesia) squadron
in the Middle East, flying Hawker Hurricanes.
Taking off from Alexandria on a dawn patrol in 1943, his throttle
malfunctioned, he lost height and clipped the barrel of a Bofors gun. He
crashed and rammed his face against the Hurricane's gunsight. He suffered
severe facial injuries, broke his jaw, a leg and a shoulder and buckled his
Surgeons at the Fifteenth Scottish Hospital in Cairo reconstructed his
face and after only five months he rejoined his squadron in Corsica. He
realised his dream to fly Spitfire Mark IXs, carrying out strafing raids and
escorting American bombers. In mid-1944 Captain Smith was leading a raid on
train of fuel tankers in the Po Valley when he made the mistake of going
back for a second run.
The Spitfire was hit by an anti-aircraft shell, caught fire and he
baled out. Within minutes of landing, a German patrol walked past his hiding
place in a bush. He was soon picked up by the Partisani. The five months he
spent with them near Sasello, learning Italian, reading Shakespeare and
working as a peasant, he regarded as one of the best times of his life.
Near the end of the war, he and three other allied fugitives made
their way through occupied Italy to the Maritime Alps. At one point the
conspicuously tall, fair-haired Rhodesian strode unhindered through a German
checkpoint. He led his tiny group over the mountains, walking barefoot on
ice, until they reached an American patrol on the other side.
In 1946, Smith completed his final year at Rhodes where he was also
elected chairman of the students' representative council.
In 1948, he bought his farm, Gwenoro, in the plains of Selukwe,
married Janet Watts and in elections in July, became the Liberal Party MP
for Selukwe, the youngest MP ever in the Southern Rhodesian parliament.
Fundamental change shook southern African politics in 1960, when he
was chief whip of the ruling Federal Party in the parliament of the Rhodesia
and Nyasaland Federation.
Harold MacMillan's tour of Africa ended with his "winds of change"
speech in the South African parliament. Rhodesian whites saw from close up
the bloody aftermath of Congo independence. The federation was breaking up
and independence was inevitable for Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland as
Zambia and Malawi respectively - but, to Smith's bitter resentment, not for
At home, the voice of Joshua Nkomo was blowing a tide of black
resistance with the hitherto unheard of demand for "black majority rule
White opinion hardened. Smith was behind the formation in 1962 of the
Rhodesian Front which easily won elections in December the next year, with
Smith deputy prime minister and minister of finance.
He first encountered the Foreign Office at a meeting with foreign
secretary Rab Butler at Victoria Falls in December 1963. Butler grandly
declared that Britain was "very happy to agree" to independence for Southern
Rhodesia, at least at the same time as Zambia and Malawi. No minutes were
taken. Smith asked Butler for the undertaking in writing. Butler demurred
with: "There is trust between members of the British Commonwealth."
Smith wagged his finger at Butler, and said: "If you break that, you
will live to regret it."
The expression "perfidious Albion" was fixed in his vocabulary from
In April 1964, Smith became the RF's leader and prime minister. Almost
immediately, he imprisoned the entire leadership of the black nationalist
movement, and paralysed it for a decade. Wilson's Labour victory in October
that year was a drastic setback to Smith's hopes.
He rebuffed Wilson's opening approaches. It took Winston Churchill's
funeral in January 1965 to bring them together.
Smith attended the funeral, but was not invited to the lunch
afterwards at Buckingham Palace. He was at his hotel when the Queen's
Equerry arrived, and expressed Her Majesty's surprise at his absence.
Smith left immediately and was warmly received by the Queen and Prince
Philip. Wilson also buttonholed him there and asked him to come to 10
Downing Street that afternoon.
Both men surprised each other at the absence of personal animosity,
but their discussions were the first in 15 years of missed chances.
By October, it was becoming increasingly clear that Rhodesia was
heading for a unilateral declaration of independence.
Smith - reinforced by a clean sweep by the RF in an election in May -
held that illegal independence and "the maintenance of civilised standards"
was better than the chaos that white Rhodesia believed would follow an
The government was fully organised for the likelihood of sanctions.
Fuel stocks were built up and other essential commodities distributed. Smith
had secured the support of South African prime minister Hendrik Verwoerd and
Portuguese president Antonio Salazar, for the continuity of Rhodesia's trade
routes through South Africa and Mozambique.
There followed a series of last-ditch shuttles. Smith went to London
on October 5, but his talks with Wilson ended with a communique concluding
that their positions were "irreconcilable". Wilson went on television with
his grave appeal to Smith: "Prime minister, think again."
Ten days later Wilson was in Salisbury, with fresh proposals, which
There was an unexpected personal understanding between the two men.
They were on first-name terms, and Smith remarked afterwards "he was closer
to us than he was to them" (Nkomo and Sithole whom Wilson met on this trip).
Wilson also betrayed his sympathies with his remark: "I don't think
Rhodesia is in a position to have one-man, one-vote tomorrow."
On November 5, Smith declared a state of emergency. His cabinet met on
November 10 to discuss final arrangements for UDI. At 7.30 pm British high
commissioner Jack Johnstone was allowed to present the meeting with an
appeal from Wilson. Wilson telephoned Smith at 8.30 the next morning, when
the cabinet was about to take the final vote. For 30 minutes, Wilson pleaded
quietly. Smith told him it had already gone too far.
He returned to the cabinet room and told them of his discussion with
Wilson. He asked each of his 15 ministers in turn to say "yes" or "no." It
was a unanimous yes.
The declaration was signed in a nearby conference room, beneath a
portrait of the young Queen Elizabeth, and for the first time since American
independence in 1776, a British colony was in rebellion.
Smith delivered his radio address, telling a stunned and frightened
nation: "So far and no further". Then he went home to bed.
"I was immensely upset," he wrote later. "There was within my whole
system a very strong desire to preserve my links with the history and
tradition and culture I had been brought up to believe in. It was a terrible
In December 1966, with Wilson's forecast of UDI being "a matter of
weeks rather than months" firmly buried, Smith, with British governor Sir
Humphrey Gibbs, was in an RAF Britannia on its way to Gibraltar and the
frigate, HMS Tiger, for the first contact with Wilson in over a year.
Smith was given a spell at the controls. For 25 minutes rebel prime
minister was alone in the cockpit of a British aircraft with Her Majesty's
governor aboard, while the crew had a break. Aboard the frigate, Wilson
tried to humiliate Smith. He took the admiral's cabin and put the Rhodesians
in non-commissioned quarters with a shared toilet.
In their first meeting, he shouted at Smith. Smith rose, stared out at
the Mediterranean for interminable minutes and then told Wilson to behave
himself. Back in Salisbury, his cabinet rejected the proposals.
Wilson and Smith next met in October 1968 aboard HMS Fearless. This
time Wilson, on the advice of his secretary, Lady Falkender, treated Smith
hospitably, but resolution remained elusive.
Edward Heath's Conservative government in 1970 made far more progress
with Smith and an agreement was ready for conclusion, pending only the
approval of the black population. Unrest and overwhelming resistance greeted
Lord Pearce's mission to assess black opinion, and the bid failed.
The ensuing 70s ended the complacency of booming, peaceful UDI
Rhodesia. Guerilla forces opened their long war against Smith with an attack
on Altena farm in Mount Darwin in December 1972. In April 1974, the
right-wing regime in Portugal was toppled in a coup. In October 1974, South
African prime minister John Vorster launched his policy of "détente" with
He demanded that Smith release the black nationalist leaders in
detention. Smith gave in and agreed, and the relationship with his most
important ally was suddenly undermined.
Without warning Smith, Vorster removed the contingent of South African
police guarding the northern border against guerilla incursions. Smith was
shocked. One could expect this from the British, he said, but now with the
South Africans, "there was obvious deceit".
Vorster kept on squeezing Smith. The supply from South Africa of fuel,
munitions and aircraft spares for what was now a substantial war began to
dry up. The Rhodesian war effort was severely curtailed.
Smith's impotent anger was clear in his remark then: "I longed for
those carefree days when I was flying around the skies in my Spitfire,
saying to myself: 'let anyone cross my path and he will have to take what
comes his way'." Vorster's first attempt to bring Smith and the black
nationalists together was in August 1975, in the majestic setting of South
Africa's luxury White Train parked in the middle of the bridge over the
Smith laid down his position, the nationalists barked demands and they
broke up in a muddle after about an hour.
His trip to Pretoria on September 18 1976, to meet United States
secretary of state Henry Kissinger, signalled the final stage of his
rebellion. A few months before he had made his famously regrettable
statement: "I don't believe in black majority rule ever in Rhodesia, not in
a thousand years."
The trip began inauspiciously. At a rugby test match between the
Springboks and the All Blacks, Vorster had the Rhodesian delegation shunted
to the side of the VIP stand, well away from his own group. "We were on our
own," Smith said.
The meeting in the American embassy in Pretoria was an event of great
emotion for both the Rhodesian farmer and the world's most powerful
diplomat. Kissinger proposed black majority rule in two years, and any
subsequent proposals would be infinitely worse.
As he spelt out the situation, he was wiping tears away from his eyes.
"This is the first time in my life I have asked anyone to commit political
suicide," he told Smith. "You have no alternative. I feel for you."
Smith was sunk in despair, but awed by Kissinger. "He spoke with
obvious sincerity and there was great emotion in his voice. For a while
words escaped him," he said.
Kissinger's ultimatum was "the coup de grace", he said. "We were
rudderless after that."
In September 1977, Smith did the unthinkable. Without consulting his
cabinet, he flew to Lusaka in the private jet of Lonrho chairman Tiny
Rowland, for a day's talks with Kenneth Kaunda, a few kilometres from a
major guerilla base. The Zambian president "couldn't have been kinder", but
the initiative failed.
Smith again tried to settle without the rest of the world and pursued
a settlement outside the military alliance between Nkomo's and Robert Mugabe's
Patriotic Front. On March 1978, he signed the "internal agreement" with
Bishop Abel Muzorewa, the Reverend Ndabaningi Sithole and two tribal
The country's first one-man, one-vote elections in April 1979 drew a
63% turnout, were won by Muzorewa's United African National Council and the
country became Zimbabwe-Rhodesia. Nearly no-one recognised it and the war
continued. Smith vacated his office and Independence for Muzorewa on May 31
1979 and moved into a plain double-storey in the suburbs.
Margaret Thatcher's Conservative victory in May finally resulted in
the Lancaster House constitutional conference in London under foreign
secretary Lord Carrington.
Smith was irrelevant at Lancaster House, raging fruitlessly against
the "treachery" of almost everyone from Carrington to members of his own
delegation. When they voted in November on the proposed constitution, Smith
was the only dissenter.
He boycotted the post-agreement party, and went to dinner instead with
former RAF colleagues and Douglas Bader. He refused to attend the
"nauseating" signing ceremony on December 19. On March 2 1980, near the end
of vote counting in the just-ended election, it was clear that Zanu PF was
heading for an overwhelming victory. Smith was surprised to receive a call
to meet Mugabe at his house.
Mugabe assured Smith he would adhere to a private enterprise economy
and to retain the confidence of the whites. He referred to the country as
"this jewel of Africa".
Smith went home in astonishment and told Janet he hoped he had not
been hallucinating. Mugabe "behaved like a balanced Western gentleman, the
antithesis of the communist gangster I had expected," he said.
Zanu PF won 57 out of the 80 black seats created by the new
constitution, but the RF won all 20 white seats, with Smith still the party
leader. For the Independence celebrations on April 18, he went on holiday to
South Africa, telling Mugabe it would be "the tactful thing to do". The two
men met several times, until in 1981 Smith criticised his plans for a
one-party state. Mugabe stopped the meetings.
In December 1982 Smith was briefly arrested, his Harare and Gwenoro
homes were searched and he was forced to surrender his passport. To Mugabe's
chagrin, Smith was returned to parliament in the 1985 elections, but a year
later was suspended for denouncing black majority rule, and again in 1987
for dismissing Mugabe's threats of sanctions against South Africa as "a
waste of time". Before he could return, the constitutional provision for 20
reserved white seats was abolished.
Smith leaves behind two stepchildren, Robert and Jean, from Janet's
previous marriage. His and Janet's own son, Alec, died of a heart attack in
London last year, to Smith's deep grief.
By Denford Magora
AMBITION is not necessarily a bad thing, but when it is ambition for
its own sake, the consequences can be enduringly devastating. This is why
some among us have always expressed our disquiet that the mission of the
opposition MDC seems not to be the delivery of a better Zimbabwe.
Rather, it appears that the purpose of the MDC's existence as defined
by its leaders and their die-hard cohorts is to replace the ruling Zanu PF
at Munhumutapa Building. This replacement has become an end in itself.
Viewed in this context, the fratricidal infighting within the MDC
makes perfect sense: Morgan Tsvangirai is not motivated by the desire to see
a better Zimbabwe. Rather he is driven by an overarching desire to be
president, regardless of anything else really.
Of late Tsvangirai and his followers have demonstrated they are
willing to walk to State House on a carpet of the dead bodies of free speech
and a free media. Lacking the authoritative power to silence the media that
points out the inconvenient truths, MDC supporters have recently been
attempting to intimidate observers into silence.
Trevor Ncube, the publisher of this paper, is now apparently a Zanu PF
apologist, according to some who have responded to his musings on the way
forward for our battered nation. His crime: pointing out that the fight the
MDC has been engaged in is unwinnable on the terms that it set out for
Advocating compromise, Ncube is immediately called a traitor. But a
traitor to whom? To the ego of the Tsvangirai faction of the MDC?
Then certainly Ncube should wear that badge with honour. And he can do
so with the knowledge that, since 1998, we have been pursuing a pipedream
engineered by the MDC leader and his followers. Still, there is no end in
Time is running out because the longer we continue to dig, the harder
it will be for us to clamber out of the hole we find ourselves in. The
nation cannot afford the MDC "strategy" of letting Zanu PF implode in the
hope that in picking up the pieces, we will also then pick up our salvation.
We will not be sacrificed on the altar of Tsvangirai's ambition. We
will not go quietly into the night. If Tsvangirai and his followers want to
rule sheep, then they should be farmers, not politicians. People, on the
other hand, are another matter entirely.
Much as it may surprise the followers of Tsvangirai, his bit of the
MDC does not have a monopoly on brains. We also think. We can also reason.
We can see when we are being led like lambs to the slaughter and it is our
right to refuse to play along. When we so refuse, it serves no purpose to
force us to think like lemmings. The days of blind loyalty, unconditional
belief in the wisdom of political leaders and collectivism in everything
including thought died with the Iron Curtain.
Unless, of course, the MDC is a club of like-minded people like the
Masons. In which case, the club must speak only for its members and stop
claiming to be speaking on behalf of the whole nation. If that were the
case, and the MDC were not staking a claim to our conscience, then we would
let them bludgeon each other in peace.
But that is not the case. The MDC says it stands for the people. That's
me. And Trevor Ncube. And every person who carries a Zimbabwean ID or has
the right to one. When it sabotages itself, the MDC is doing so in my name
and in the name of every person who wants a better Zimbabwe.
So it is quite alright for Ncube to be entirely dissatisfied with the
way the MDC is conducting its affairs and to offer suggestions and make
observations. So why should we not have a say? And having a say is by no
means only confined to nodding our heads and turning a blind eye.
This country's future belongs to all of us. At birth, we each bought a
share in the company Zimbabwe Inc just by virtue of being. The value of our
shares in this country is being eroded every day from both sides of the
political divide and we have reason to not only be disappointed but to also
openly express our dissatisfaction. After all, freedom of expression happens
to be the dividend from our shareholding in this country.
We must, therefore be alarmed when the MDC and its agents appear to
fear the power of ideas, for we subscribe to the belief that our future
should be one where different ideas are explored, if not embraced. But never
Even as the MDC leader is busy pumping bullets into his own foot, his
blind followers insist that we should ignore the fact that they are pointing
to him as the man whom we should send off to fetch us water.
Our faith has been solely sorely over the last decade and our thirst
is so great and the least we can do is speak out and demand better
representation and protection of our interests. This is one inalienable
right we claim and which nobody, even God, has no right to take away.
Indeed, it is the premise of the Christian faith that God gave man choice.
Man can choose to worship Him or to worship Satan or indeed to worship no
one at all. If God recognises the right of man to make his own choice and
speak his own mind, then when the MDC denies us this right it is making
itself out to be bigger, mightier and morally superior to God.
At the root of our problem, then, is the fact that we are faced with a
double calamity. Those who want to replace the failed people in government
do not themselves inspire confidence. If anything, they are displaying
alarming signs of being no better than a different face of the same beast.
Ncube is not advocating the destruction of the MDC, so there is no
justification for calling him a Zanu PF apologist. Instead, he is calling
for the strengthening of our nation.
It just so happens that, to some people, the strengthening of our
nation is equivalent to the destruction of the MDC. Hence these people snipe
at the heels of every person who demands that the national interest be put
before the interests of the MDC. In which case it becomes not only valid but
imperative to ask the question: do we need the MDC? If so, what for?
If the argument, as one so often hears, is that the mere removal of
Robert Mugabe from power is enough to guarantee the redemption of this
nation, then it follows that almost anybody will do.
We must then ask: with all the repressive, intolerant traits evident
in the way the MDC is conducting its affairs, why does it have to be them
and no other?
They have no programme apart from the begging bowl out, in the process
perpetuating our nation's status as the street kid of the global village.
They have no specific vision apart from whatever meaning they choose to
attach to the words better and change.
So again we ask: do we need the MDC?
Denford Magora is a Harare-based writer.
By Magari Mandebvu
HEROES don't last very long these days. That can be good and it can be
The good side of it is that it makes us less likely to trust anyone
unconditionally. The hero won't save us all on his own without asking for
If the reward for removing an unpopular president or is that the hero
gets the presidency - hokoyo!
He may be very good for a while, but unquestioned power is bad for
anybody - Robert Mugabe or Morgan Tsvangirai. We need, at least, to question
our heroes - often.
As a wise man once said, "the price of liberty is constant vigilance".
The bad side of this tendency is that, as soon as we discover that our
hero has some fault, however small, in the media and in a lot of people's
estimation, he goes instantly from hero to zero. Or hero to villain. Or, if
he is lucky, he only goes from hero to bumbling incompetent.
But hold on a moment. Is real life made up of only those extremes?
Is everybody either a hero or a zero? What if you treated your family
like that? How long would your marriage last if your spouse had to be either
perfect or useless?
I won't ask how long your children would be allowed to stay in the
house if you were to throw them out the first time they gave you problems.
If that was your attitude, you would have thrown your spouse out long
before you could produce children capable of disobeying you.
Yes, we do have more ways of resolving problems with those close to us
than we do with political leaders, but why should we expect all our
politicians to be either angels or devils? They are human.
Like the rest of us, they have a bit of the angel and a bit of the
devil in every one of them. That means that very few of them can ever be
accurately be summed up in a newspaper headline or a radio "soundbite".
And that means we must not rush to judge them until we are sure we
have enough facts. It also means that we have to learn which imperfect
politician is less dangerous than his or her rivals. After all, we know that
any man who has been married for years and says his wife is perfect is a
The same goes for any married woman's judgement of her husband. Both
have to learn to live with the less than perfect spouse they have. It doesn't
mean they would have been any happier married to somebody else.
Now, I am not arguing any political line, but I do want to offer a few
questions that might make us all slow down when newspaper headlines seem to
say that another hero has fallen to the depths. It might be less provocative
if I start by talking about someone who is no longer with us. My questions
are my own. You may have your well-considered answers, based on more facts
than I have, on this one.
I have heard people, even during the struggle, question the late
Herbert Ushewokunze's dedication to the socialist ideals he preached.
Yes, we know he had big faults, but he tried harder than others I know
to teach those ideals. As Minister of Health, he worked hard to create a
system that served the people.
We know the stories about how, if he heard poor people were badly
treated at some clinic, he himself went there, in an old suit and manyatera.
If he, looking like a poor villager, was treated badly, he returned
the next day in his ministerial car and sacked the people responsible.
Now stop and ask yourself: don't you know other people, maybe a man
who seriously tries to follow the rules of his church but is likely to lapse
from them seriously from time to time?
You might be careful not to let your daughter near a man like that, or
not to offer him alcohol, but those who know him know he is trying to
overcome his problem.
Was the late Ushewokunze that kind of socialist? As I said, you might
be better able to answer that question than I am, but it seems worth asking.
Now to a more topical question. Because it is more topical, it will be
more controversial, but I feel it must be asked before we all rush into
hasty judgement. We heard of the rather sudden elevation of Therese Makone
within the MDC, and then of her being dropped because she was a friend of
Stop a moment and ask yourself: is my enemy's friend always my enemy?
Or is my friend's friend always my friend? Makone and Chiwenga could have
become friends because they were neighbours.
Must they break all contact because they now support different
political parties? Must I refuse to talk to somebody because I disagree with
Would not a real friend of someone who has gone wrong, even very badly
wrong, look for opportunities to advise and criticise, as a friend? Though I
myself have broken with an old friend over differences: not because he
joined the cabinet, not because he was sacked for corruption, but because he
bounced back from that unrepentant. If he's never listening, why talk to
On the other hand, if Makone behaved like Chiwenga, even if she wouldn't
know her from a bar of soap, that wouldn't offer any hope that, given the
chance, she would improve on the system we groan under now.
Anyone who behaves like that should be drummed out of any party that
claims to have the people's interests at heart.
So nobody is accusing Therese Makone of being that bad? I'm glad to
hear it. But is there any strong reason to say she would be better heading
the MDC women's wing than Lucia Matibenga?
If there isn't, there are a lot of other good posts where someone with
her undeniable drive and energy could be very useful. That opens a lot more
questions and don't blame the press if you don't get all the answers on a
plate, or in one edition of even this paper.
The trouble is that fast modern communications lead to more demand for
fast, immediate and spectacular news.
It is more difficult for anyone to publish real, in-depth analysis.
But we do need it. We have to work harder to keep up that vigilance that is
the price of freedom.
One closing question: why has Tsvangirai attracted so much criticism
recently? Is he considered a failure because he hasn't got into State House
yet? He's got nearer to it than anyone else in nearly 30 years - and before
that he wasn't ineffectual. Didn't he significantly help that Zanu PF
invention, the ZCTU, to become an independent labour movement?
That takes skill; has he lost all that skill? I am not suggesting
answers to any of these questions, but they do seem to be questions that
need to be answered.
If anybody out there has answers, I don't suppose that I am the only
one who would be glad of a little enlightenment.
Magari Mandebvu writes from Harare.
RESERVE Bank governor Gideon Gono this week scored a point against
evil. Whether that ultimately translates into a policy victory against
unnecessary encroachment by the establishment in what amounts to the
day-to-day running of business remains to be seen.
After weeks of anxiety and uncertainty across all sectors of the
economy, Gono on Tuesday announced that there would be no second price blitz
to force importers of basic commodities to charge unrealistic prices. He
said a wrong impression had also been created that government wanted to ban
the importation of basic goods.
In the light of the scarcity of goods on the formal market, Gono said
"we welcome imported goods and products in our market as we wait for local
products to fill those shelves. If we take out the products without
replacing them, all that we would have created are empty shelves," Gono told
a press conference in Harare.
The good thing is that the author of all the uncertainty and anxiety
among producers and consumers alike, National Incomes and Pricing Commission
chair Godwills Masimirembwa, was sitting next to the governor. It was
Masimirembwa, in a moment of "irrational exuberance", who gave companies
stocking foreign goods an ultimatum to clear them by November 22 or face a
mass invasion as happened in July.
Over the past few weeks since his appointment to that ivory tower
post, Masimirembwa has not pulled punches, showing how power can suddenly
breed dangerous arrogance in a man.
He has rejected pleas by business that often they fund some of their
key components through imports obtained at onerous black market rates and
therefore cannot adhere to prices that his commission plucks from the air.
In fact, he is demanding that businesses justify their prices, but will not
listen when they explain what they are doing.
Masimirembwa told The Voice newspaper last week that another price
murambatsvina was on the way. "Definitely there is going to be another price
blitz as we have discovered that shops are now filled with imported goods
which are substituting essential local products," he said. "The local
products are supposed to be cheap, but they are not in the shops and are
only found on the parallel market."
This week he was forced to recant, pretending he always knew that
imported goods acted as a "buffer to complement internal production levels".
He said mistrust and suspicion had been created among stakeholders
about what needs to be done: "Consistent with this, I wish to clarify that
it is not factual that NIPC had or ever contemplated banning the sale of
imported goods in our shops," said Masimirembwa on Tuesday. "To the
contrary, the imported goods are essential to complement internal production
But even that misses the essential point, which is that the country is
relying on imports because local manufacturers are not allowed to charge
economic prices for their goods. Manufacturers can also not produce freely
when there is constant fear of company takeovers by a predatory state.
On the other hand, shop owners face a serious dilemma - they cannot
stock sufficient goods when there is fear that they may be raided without
warning and have all their goods looted to punish "profiteering" or "errant
businesspeople", as Masimirembwa calls them. When they take the risk and
stock the goods, they are not allowed to recover costs. In short, we have
come to a point where businesses are treated like charity organisations
which survive on donor support.
Masimirembwa and his principals might be right that many basic
commodities which are missing from the formal market are found in abundance
on the black market. This is because the same people they are trying to
protect, the poor, loot the cheap goods from the shops to sell them to
fellow sufferers at satanic profits. Unfortunately, they don't produce.
Then of course there is the fundamental issue that price controls per
se cannot provide a sustainable solution to the crisis of inflation and high
consumer prices. Instead of the pricing commission harassing producers and
retailers, they should be monitoring people given free seed, fuel, ploughs
and tractors that they are putting these to productive use. This is the root
of all our problems: until we increase productivity on the farms we shall
continue to run in circles and targeting the wrong people for blame. Gono
should make this elementary truth clear to his principals, and Masimirembwa
should revert to his role as a fulltime Herald columnist and stay out of
THE story of Rhodesia has been told and retold many times by
historians and those who seek to understand the country's dramatic history.
Former Rhodesian premier Ian Smith, who died on Tuesday, features
prominently in that story.
The history of Rhodesia spans colonial invasion, repression,
exploitation, suffering, rebellion, war and independence.
It is also a story of economic prosperity at one time, greed and
corruption by a white ruling elite that monopolised the economy while
marginalising the black majority. After independence, efforts to transform
the economy led to the enrichment of a clique of the political and business
elite, while impoverishing the masses.
But it was Smith's UDI rebellion against Britain in 1965 which
propelled the then colonial backwater led by parochial racists on to the
Rhodesia under a hardnosed Smith became a long tragedy punctuated by
melodramatic events - fierce clashes between rival armies, confrontational
rhetoric and false promises, secret meetings and negotiations, angry
encounters on ships, sham elections, and eventually the final resolution.
Smith, whose colonial regime could not and would not see beyond white
supremacy, fashioned and presided over a violent and repressive state. He
crafted draconian laws and put in place a repressive state apparatus used to
dominate the oppressed and maintain power at all costs.
His arsenal of autocratic legislation was so formidable that it could
easily quash the opposition and stifle liberties. There was
institutionalised discrimination and terror.
Those opposed to Smith were frequently arrested and detained mostly
under the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act and Emergency Powers Act. Curfews
were commonplace. The reliance on military and police repression and the
neglect of civilians' hearts and minds was most pronounced, especially in
rural areas, the principal theatre of war during the 1970s. That was Smith's
However, there is an interesting irony we cannot escape about
President Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe. Mugabe inherited a colonial legacy in
the form of a violent state, repressive laws and political intolerance. He
also inherited a strong economy from Smith, which he is destroying with
Instead of transforming the repressive Rhodesian state, Mugabe kept
its key institutions largely unreformed, including military and security
personnel. For instance, Peter Walls remained commander of the army, while
Ken Flower headed the CIO, a largely unreformed Rhodesian creature. The
Rhodesian era Joint Operations Command remains up to now.
Smith's repressive laws were later used by Mugabe to arrest and detain
his former liberation struggle allies, mostly Zapu leaders. The bitter irony
is that Mugabe used Smith's laws and jails to deal with Zapu leaders - the
same laws used against him and them during the liberation struggle.
Gukurahundi atrocities were largely perpetrated through the Fifth
Brigade and Rhodesian state security structures and laws. The brutality
under Mugabe during the 1980s was in some respects the same as the
repression under Smith if not worse.
Ordinary people who did not agree with Mugabe's one-party state agenda
also fell victim of the laws inherited from Smith. Up to this day, the
repressive apparatus put in place by Smith is still being viciously used to
arrest, detain and silence Zimbabweans - the same people who supported
Mugabe on his way to power.
This reminds me of Frantz Fanon's insightful book, The Wretched of the
Earth. From here onwards Fanon takes over: The people who for years on end
have seen their liberation leader and heard him speak, followed his contests
with the colonial power, put their trust in this patriot.
Before independence, the leader generally embodies the aspirations of
the people for independence, but soon afterwards the leader will reveal his
inner purpose: to become the general president of that "company of
profiteers impatient for their returns.
In spite of his frequently honest conduct and his sincere
declarations, the leader loses contact with the masses. The leader asks the
people to fall back into the past and to become drunk on the remembrance of
the epoch which led up to independence.
From time to time, however, the leader makes an effort; he speaks on
the radio or makes a tour of the country to pacify the people.
The leader is all the more necessary in that there is no party. The
party has sadly disintegrated; nothing is left but the shell of a party, the
name, the emblem and the motto.
Opposition parties are liquidated through beatings and stonings. The
opposition candidates see their houses set on fire. The police increase
This party, which used to call itself the servant of the people,
hastens to send the people back to their caves.
It becomes, in fact, the tribe which constitutes itself into a party.
This party which proclaims to be national, and which claims to speak in the
name of the totality of the people, sometimes degenerates into a tribal
dictatorship. Ministers, ambassadors and civil servants are chosen from the
same ethnic group as the leader, sometimes directly from his own family.
This imposture and intellectual and spiritual poverty does not cause anger
Such leaders are the true traitors in Africa, for they sell their
country to the most terrifying of all its enemies: stupidity. It's Fanon
speaking, not me!
THE issue of worship is often an emotive subject that has caused
conflict - both subtle and physical - among nations and individuals. In all
forms of worship there are certain basic tenets expected of followers.
These include respect for the sanctity of life, upholding moral values
to do with sexual relations, marriage, respect for elders and so on.
In the Christian faith - which I am more familiar with - the Bible is
the key manual of values and principles which have also been adopted by
individuals and groupings who do not necessarily want to be labelled
followers of Christ. Such is the wholesomeness of the Bible that it forms
the foundation of many laws in many countries including ours.
But Christian groups have enforced biblical principles with varying
degrees of tolerance and strictness.
There are sects which believe that sinners should stand atop the
nearest soapbox to confess their transgressions publicly.
There are others who believe that the same act of confession can be
done in front of a pastor who "intercedes" between the sinner and God, while
others feel that confession can be done quietly through meditation and
I have been to a congregation where a philandering gosa (deacon) was
forced to spell out in graphic detail his exploits with a single mother from
the same denomination.
The confession, punctuated by shouts of "Amen" and "God is good", as
far as I saw it, provided great entertainment value to the perverted spirits
in the church who urged the poor fellow to reveal more.
All this in the name of building the body of Christ, I wondered? In
the end there was great celebration, tears and prayer. The pastor declared
that the poor guy's sins had been forgiven and he had "been purified by the
blood of Jesus".
Among other Christian groupings it's a sin to watch television, seek
medical treatment, take contraceptives or to put on make-up. Others enforce
the rule of tithing with military precision - to the extent of applying a
The differences in the enforcement of values and principles are a
matter of degree. There are sects which see nothing wrong with polygamy or
marrying minors. Others prohibit the playing of drums and instruments in
church while others see prayer en-mass as demonic.
There are those whose ministries have been built around magical
episodes of healing and casting out of demons.
Others see nothing wrong with drinking alcohol and smoking. They all
say they worship the same God. In all these congregations, people willingly
become members and they will confess that their lives have never been the
same since their association with the sect.
Amid such variations to worship, Bishop Trevor Manhanga, in an article
in the Sunday Mail this week, proposed that religion should be regulated to
rid the Christian faith of rogue pastors and churches which he believes have
He says regulation should punish errant churches, pastors and leaders
because there is so much evil happening in the name of religion.
I share Bishop Manhanga's concerns that there is growing worship
without God but who then is the paragon of virtue to lord it over errant
Christians and enforce discipline? Can it be humanly done in
this world where all have sinned and will continue to sin?
Bishop Manhanga's plan is bereft of moral grounds of execution. He
tries to equate religion with medicine and law where strict regulation is
enforced and culprits punished by law.
I believe Manhanga is head of a church because of a calling and not
the law. He does not practise religion because of training but because he
committed his life to saving souls, he will confess to this. He should
concentrate on this ministry and not invite government to regulate religion.
Manhanga falls short of saying there should be a law to ban errant
Christian leaders from practising religion or that they undergo
reconstruction and rehabilitation. Under whose stewardship I ask?
What has happened to the right to worship as enshrined in our
constitution? I am even more worried about the mechanisms of setting up
It is not only Christianity whose ethics require scrutiny. There is no
common ground of ethical issues among Christians, Moslems, animists,
Nazarenes and so on.
Also, people are free in this country to form churches and register
them. That is how Manhanga's church came into being, legally that is.
Instead of trying to awaken government to a possible nascent avenue of
control, he should be worried about how the church in Zimbabwe is slowly
being suborned to the state with leaders pushing slogans in support of
tyranny and misrule.
In the Bible, was it not the role of prophets to caution transgressing
leaders instead of consorting with them?
I shudder at the prospects of a political appointee deciding between
good churches and bad ones.
Which ones will be the good ones? Those that sing loudest in praise of
the incumbent? Those that troop to the airport to meet our dear leader or
those who owe their existence to state largesse?
VP Joseph Msika has added a new item to the country's luxuries. He
told Zanu PF supporters at the weekend that there was no need to remove
President Mugabe from office so long as he continues to serve the people.
"We do not change leaders as fast as we change our shirts," said
Msika. "In Zimbabwe we do not accept that. So the issue of changing a leader
after a specified period is out of the question. It is a luxury we cannot
afford. If they are still serving the people, then they should stay on or
even die there," Msika said with a straight face despite the grinding
poverty in the country.
Although he said Zimbabwe has continued to excel despite so-called
Western-induced sanctions, he didn't have a shred of evidence for his
captive audience, except inflation of nearly 15 000% and unemployment now
estimated at 80%. That's all the evidence one needs to show how far removed
from reality Zimbabwe's leaders are.
But this new template for Zimbabwe's leadership shows us more: that
none of those in the Zanu PF presidium wants to leave office alive unless
they are forced to do so. One wonders what price is enough for Zimbabweans
to be freed from the arthritic clutches of these octogenarians.
Another minister living in cloud cuckooland is Information minister
Speaking at a function for vocational training in Bulawayo last week,
he said Zimbabwe's unemployment was being exaggerated by the country's
detractors. He said a woman selling potatoes or tomatoes by the roadside
could not be called unemployed. The same applied to youths selling
cigarettes, he said.
If this is not desperation to defend the indefensible, then we don't
know what is. And this is what Msika means by Mugabe still serving the
people and therefore deserving to remain in office for another five years?
Finally Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono speaks. He said they had
adopted a wait-and-see attitude regarding the shortage of cash at banks.
He also said there will be no second price blitz as threatened by
National Incomes and Pricing Commission chairperson Godwills Masimirembwa.
"We want to allay fears borne out of the speculation that the country
was heading back to the blitz as was seen some weeks back," said Gono.
"The rumours and speculation themselves seem to have emanated from
misquotes of what the NIPC had said in respect of all imported goods," he
With that, Gono said there would be no price blitz on imported goods.
But the anxieties were not entirely due to speculation and rumour. According
to the Zanu PF mouthpiece, The Voice, Masimirembwa said it.
"Definitely, there is going to be another price blitz as we have
discovered that shops are now filled with imported goods which are
substituting local products," Masimirembwa told The Voice of November 11.
"These local products are supposed to be cheap, but they are not in
the shops and are only found on the parallel market."
He didn't care then that a new price blitz would have as disastrous
consequences as the first one in July, which Gono had opposed to no avail.
Apparently after some stern warning by Gono, Masimirembwa was forced
to beat a haste retreat, unctuously telling reporters at the joint press
conference on Tuesday that the NIPC had "never contemplated" banning the
importation of goods.
"In an environment of mistrust, suspicions among stakeholders, it is
very easy for negativities to be multiplied and spread like veld fires," he
And negative is all he has been since that mighty leap from the pages
of the Herald to the top of the NIPC. We can only hope that he has learnt
his lesson about negative emissions.
The MDC must be a hell of an unfortunate opposition party. At every
stage some one wants to infiltrate it to make life rosy for the bundling
The party hasn't recovered from convulsions it suffered when some of
its members were bought by Zanu PF and enticed to break away. In the past
few weeks it has been fighting for its soul after one of its most trusted
lieutenants in the form of Lucia Matibenga was infiltrated and turned
Lucifer by challenging her removal as head of the vociferous women's
She lost her case in court, and there were celebrations in the party.
Her issue became "water under the bridge" following the restaurant cabinet
meeting in Bulawayo which chose Theresa Makone as its leader.
But that became not all. At the weekend there were reports of more
fighting in the party. Matibenga's ghost was seen making its way towards the
party headquarters at Harvest House. It was only the swift reaction of the
party's vigilant militia that saved Morgan Tsvangirai from mortal danger.
The vigilante "kicked, kneed and felled" the group of women who were
making their way to meet the party leader over some unresolved "issues",
according to state media reports.
This time even the MDC's organising secretary defended the leader's
"unacceptable" sacking of Matibenga, saying the youth wing had been
infiltrated. Whatever the case, said Elias Mudzuri, those who beat up
"friends of Matibenga" were not bona fide MDC youths.
So which wing of the party is not yet infiltrated by the enemy we
here was a hilarious report in the Sunday Mail this week in which we
were told that Zimbabwe was more than ready to counter a British invasion.
Former British armed forces boss Lord Charles Guthrie is said to have
"revealed" that Britain had considered invading Zimbabwe on several
occasions. The paper said the plan had not been executed for fear of
Zimbabwe's military capabilities.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba spun out of control, saying
a plan had been operationalised.
"We were also aware that short of a full-fledged invasion, the British
were and are still contemplating the elimination of our political leadership
through a number of assassinations," he said.
The report said former British premier Tony Blair had been told the
Zimbabwe Defence Forces was "a very capable" army. The evidence for this
reputation were the wars in Mozambique and the DRC more than five years ago!
A delusional "defence source" also tried to demonstrate that Zimbabwe
had defeated the British during its liberation war of the 1970s. "Britain
also indirectly fought Zimbabwe's two liberation movements during the
Rhodesian war and was thus aware of Zimbabwe's defence establishment from
this historical experience," the defence source warned.
We were reminded of Italy's Benito Mussolini fooling his fellow
gangster Hitler that he could mobilise a thousand aircraft just before the
Second World War when in fact he didn't have more than 300. What is the
basis of Zimbabwe's military capability we wonder when its soldiers are
starving in the barracks?
Speaking of which, Retired Lieutenant Colonel Masala Sibanda who died
last week and was buried in Bulawayo at the weekend must be turning in his
grave. It was announced on Monday that Sibanda had been declared a national
hero, which means his body must be exhumed and buried at the National Heroes
Acre in Harare.
Explaining the bungling, Information secretary George Charamba said
the delay in conferring Sibanda with national hero status was caused by the
formal consultation process.
"Owing to this delay related to the scattered fixtures of most
politburo members," said Charamba, "Cde Sibanda had to be buried at the
weekend in Bulawayo well ahead of both the consultations and the official
programme which envisaged interment on Wednesday November 21 at the National
Heroes Acre in Harare."
This makes for curious reading given that most senior politburo
members from Matabeleland region, including party chairman John Nkomo and
Dumiso Dabengwa, attended Sibanda's burial at Lady Stanley cemetery.
Writing of the Sibanda, the Herald says: "His name and activities are
well-recorded at decisive moments in the struggle for national liberation."
So why would consultations about his status take longer than normal?
There is obviously more than meets the eye here, something to do with
efforts to rewrite the history of the liberation struggle. Perhaps George
could explain further.
Rotina Mavhunga has earned herself a place in Zimbabwe's history as
the villager who fooled a whole government into believing "pure" crude oil
could be extracted from a stone. She is now famously known as the diesel n'anga
for her feat.
But President Mugabe was apparently angry with this cheap hoax. He
said he ordered her arrest after some of his cabinet colleagues started
talking about the woman's beauty. He said government wants to get to the
bottom of the whole thing to find out who had planted the idea of diesel in
the woman's head.
That is the million dollar question. Muckraker doesn't believe a poor
rural woman who dropped out of school at Grade 3 could have spun this yarn
on her own.
But we can safely conclude that whatever eventually comes out of these
inquiries, the level of superstition reflects badly on government. No wonder
we are in this mess.
Unfortunately that is not the end of the story. On Monday the Herald
ran a story in which a group of traditional healers expressed their desire
to continue working with government, especially the Ministry of Health.
"We therefore urge government to take stern measures against bogus n'angas
who have brought our profession into disrepute," said the group. Fine point.
They need to talk to Didymus Mutasa first before they can think about
Eric Bloch Column
GODZILLA was a fictional, maniacal ape that strove to destroy the city
of New York.
I would not have the temerity to suggest that the chairman of the
National Incomes and Pricing Commission (NIPC), Godwills Masimirembwa, is
Godzilla reincarnate, and especially so because he is not.
Nevertheless, he is determinedly destroying Zimbabwe's already
severely emaciated economy as Godzilla sought to destroy mankind, cities and
Although there is some similarity in names, Masimirembwa is not
Godzilla, but his actions are pronouncedly reminiscent of Godzilla's, to an
extent that it appears that Godzilla is striking yet again.
Only a few weeks ago, not long after Masimirembwa was appointed, this
column expressed grave concern at his first policy enunciations, which
demonstrated a gross unawareness of economic realities and, if implemented,
such policies could only grievously exacerbate the distraught state of the
economy, and the consequential extreme hardships and suffering of almost all
of Zimbabwe's oppressed population.
This column was not alone in voicing those concerns, which were
emphatically expressed by most of commerce and industry, economists, and
Clearly, however, all those forebodings of encroaching intensified
catastrophe went unheard, and hence went unheeded, and the disastrous
policies have been progressively pursued.
And, as they were implemented, so the foreshadowed economic decline
As a result of the abysmal determination to pursue endlessly policies
which have naught but negative consequences, product scarcities have
intensified, inflation has soared, an increasing number of businesses have
been reduced to minimal levels of operations, whilst others have closed,
unemployment has become ever greater in extent, the brain drain continues to
gain momentum, both foreign direct investment and domestic investment have
virtually ceased, fiscal revenues have markedly diminished in real terms,
and these are but a few of the repercussions of the hearing disability of
government, of NIPC, and of its chairman.
Not satisfied with the extent that NIPC, aided and abetted by its
governmental master, has accelerated the implosion of Zimbabwe's economy, on
November 9, Masimirembwa informed businesses that they have until November
22 to dispose of any stockholdings of imported products, at the then
existing prices, whereafter a new pricing model would become effective,
based upon the official exchange rate.
Concurrently he stated that the practice of sourcing foreign currency
on the black market, and factoring the costs thereof into selling prices,
would "no longer be acceptable".
With astounding naivety he said that "it is the duty of companies to
generate foreign exchange rather than expect handouts from central bank",
and demanded that prices should not be indexed using parallel market rates.
He further, very commendably, stated that "NIPC is keen to work with
business", but regrettably the actions belie the words for, in reality, the
stance of NIPC is one which can only assure the demise of almost all
Masimirembwa failed to explain to business how they can fulfill their
"duty" to generate foreign exchange when they are obliged to sell 35% of
that foreign exchange to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) at a specious
rate of US$1: $285 000.
Admittedly, RBZ has valiantly striven to minimise the prejudice of a
government which steadfastly refuses to effect realistic currency
devaluation, and which very belatedly, 10 weeks ago, devalued to a niggardly
and ludicrously unreal US$1: $30 000.
However, even RBZ's courageous rate adjustment did not suffice to
address the extent that Zimbabwe's currency has actually devalued.
According to the Central Statistical Office, inflation for the year to
October 31 was 14 840, 6 %, but the exchange rate has not moved by 14 840, 6
% in that year.
If businesses' costs have risen to such an extent, does Masimirembwa
seriously believe that they can export without a commensurate exchange rate
movement? Surely not!
In like manner, he is being ingenious in the extreme if he believes
that businesses can afford to sell imports at a 50% mark-up, and that
manufacturers can be viable by using "an investment window", as a basis for
costing, which translates to 270%.
Even if businesses do not source their imports through alternative
markets, which most have no choice but to do in the absence of export
viability, and with absolutely no allocations of currency from RBZ, that
decreed costing base is grossly disparate to actual, inflation driven costs.
If manufacturers and importers are precluded from selling their goods
at prices which wholly recoup the costs thereof, fully recover operating and
finance costs, yield a reasonable return upon investment sufficient to
maintain the real value of that investment, plus an inflation-related return
thereon, then they are forced to discontinue operations.
In consequence, the already near-bare shelves of Zimbabwe's
supermarkets and other shops will be even emptier, that emptiness
intensified by non-availability of imported products to substitute for those
no longer locally produced.
The worsened levels of scarcities can only result in two things, the
first being ever-greater discomfort, suffering and misery for more and more
of the population, and the second being that the black market will thrive
even more than heretofore.
As the virility of the black market intensifies, with demand
progressively outpacing supply to an ever greater extent, inflation will
become even more than presently the horrendous, highest in the world,
circumstance further decimating the economy, crippling the already insolvent
fiscus, and reducing Zimbabweans to all-time lows on the scale of economic
Deaths through malnutrition, non-treated health deficiencies, and the
like, will increase, and the economy will be reduced to one reminiscent of
the stone-age era of barter only.
The only positive results will be that NIPC will cease to exist, for
there will be no incomes or prices to control and Masimirembwa will be out
of a job.
If he wishes to avoid those results, he and his colleagues as well as
government as a whole, must get real!