Friday 24 November 2006
HARARE - Zimbabwe's unofficial foreign exchange is set to plunge to 4
000 local dollars against the United States dollar by year-end before
dipping further to 180 000 to the greenback by December 2007 unless there is
a drastic shift in economic policy, a leading Harare economist has warned.
The bulk of foreign currency in crisis-hit Zimbabwe is traded on the
unofficial and illegal but thriving parallel market.
In an economic paper released last week, a copy of which is in the
possession of ZimOnline, prominent consultant economist John Robertson
projects that the parallel market exchange rate could depreciate to 4 000 by
December 31 on the back of pressure from money supply growth.
The US unit is currently trading at 2 000 Zimbabwe dollars on the
parallel market being fueled by the central Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)'s
insistence on maintaining a cap on the official inter-market exchange rate.
The official rate has been pegged at 250 Zimbabwe dollars to the
greenback since 31 July when RBZ governor Gideon Gono issued a mid-year
review of the country's monetary policy.
"The fixed exchange rate will have to give way eventually, as it has
done often before, but while it remains fixed it is discouraging efforts to
earn foreign exchange, particularly now that the Reserve Bank is requiring
exporters to surrender 32.5 percent of their foreign earnings at the
official exchange rate," said Robertson.
Robertson's projections - which are premised on the assumption that
the RBZ would continue to lose the battle against money supply growth - also
show the American unit trading on the parallel market at 11 000, 34 000 and
90 000 Zimbabwe dollars by March, June and September 2007, respectively.
Inflation, which President Robert Mugabe says is Zimbabwe's enemy
number one, is also expected to track movements in the exchange rate, rising
to 1 356 percent for November and 1 636 percent by year-end.
The country currently has the highest rate of inflation in the world
at 1 070.2 percent.
The economist's inflation forecast is, however, lower than the 4 000
percent-plus rate by December being projected by the International Monetary
But Robertson sees Zimbabwe's annualised inflation peaking at 5 742
percent in September 2007 before gradually declining to close the year on
just over 4 000 percent.
"If government remains on its current track, inflation rates are
likely to rise by more than 40 percent a month in the final quarter of 2006
and the first half of 2007," said Robertson in the commentary titled The
Zimbabwe Economy: 2007 Prospects for Inflation, Exchange Rate, Interest Rate
Growth and Other Economic Indicators.
Pressure on inflation is seen coming from the cost of importing fuel,
the widening parallel market premium and unfettered money supply growth.
The RBZ has been printing money to finance its quasi-fiscal
activities. These include facilities to fund agricultural production and to
bail out distressed companies.
Gono - appointed RBZ governor three years ago and charged by Mugabe to
lead efforts to revive Zimbabwe's comatose economy - loves to print extra
cash around this time of the year to dole out to black villagers resettled
on former white-owned land in a vain attempt to boost agricultural
Civil service salaries are also another source of pressure on
inflation. The government this month awarded civil servants a 300 percent
bonus that saw teachers taking home four times their normal salaries. -
Friday 24 November 2006
MASVINGO - The unfolding fertilizer importation scam took a dramatic
turn this week when spear and axe-wielding peasant farmers stormed the
government's Grain Marketing Board (GMB) offices in the southern Masvingo
city demanding a refund for sub-standard fertilizer sold to them by the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono and Agriculture
Minister Joseph Made about three months ago used nearly US$50 million to
import 70 000 tonnes of inferior quality fertilizer from South Africa
allegedly in return for kickbacks.
The government's spy Central Intelligence Organisation is probing the
alleged scam while Parliament has said it will soon begin questioning the
RBZ and agriculture officials over the fake fertilizer part of which has
already been sold to farmers through the GMB.
In probably the first reaction by farmers to the fertilizer scam,
police had to be called in to restore order as a group of about 20 angry
peasant farmers, brandishing a variety of traditional weapons, threatened to
mete out "instant justice" to officials at the GMB's depot in Masvingo
unless they were given "real fertilizer" or their money back.
"What we need is fertilizer and not all these explanations," 60-year
old Marimba Muyana shouted back at a GMB official who was trying to explain
that the parastatal was not to blame because it had only helped distributed
the fertilizer but was not the one that imported it into the country.
"When we paid our money there were never these long explanations and
therefore what we need now is just our money or proper fertilizer," added
Muyana, who grows maize in the rural Chivi district, south of Masvingo city.
Another farmer, whose name ZimOnline could not get, claimed the
fertilizer "looked like sand and could never be good for any crop" - in
obvious exaggeration probably out of anger.
And all the while the manager at the GMB depot, identified only as Mr
Chatikobo, had long ran away from the depot in fear for his life.
Masvingo police spokesman Phibion Nyambo, who ZimOnline managed to
speak to after the incident at the GMB, however sought to downplay the
matter as a minor scuffle which did "not warrant Press coverage".
"It is only about a few farmers who did not know about what has been
happening who wanted to know about the fertilizer. We have since addressed
the problem and all is now well," said Nyambo.
It however remains to be seen whether farmers elsewhere in Masvingo
province and across thee country will quietly accept the sub-standard
fertilizer that agricultural experts say is sure to lead to poor harvests
and financial ruin for many farmers, whether or not the country receives
good rains. - ZimOnline
By Blessing Zulu
23 November 2006
A United Nations report says two-thirds of Zimbabwe's remaining health care
workers intend to leave the country, pointing to a bleaker future for a
national health system that is already overburdened by the demands of the
The report from the United Nations Population Fund said 68% of health
professionals still living and working in Zimbabwe want to emigrate.
Already, 11% of doctors and 43% of nurses have emigrated seeking better pay
and working conditions.
The state-appointed Health Services Board said the country's five major
hospitals are operating with 36 senior doctors where 145 were needed and 72
specialists instead of the 189 required. It said 44% of senior nursing
positions, 88% of primary care nurse openings and 89% of lab technician
positions were unfilled as of late 2005.
The Population Fund said the exodus has hurt the fight against HIV-AIDS.
Harare has established an "intellectual desk" in the Ministry of Higher
Education in the aim of stemming the brain drain in medicine and other
professions. It proposes to lure professionals back on a short-term basis in
medicine, mining, education, engineering and other fields. But health
experts have called this an exercise in futility.
An opposition spokesman on health, Dr Henry Madzorera, said that unless
Harare addresses the economic crisis, medical specialists will continue to
Dr Samukheliso Dube, a Zimbabwean doctor now living and working in South
Africa, told reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that the
Population Fund's projection of a 68% emigration rate might in fact be
Institute for War and Peace Reporting
Top politicians allegedly stripped state-run firm of assets, an internal
government probe has reportedly revealed.
By Joseph Chikonamombe in Harare (AR No. 84, 23-Nov-06)
In what is shaping up to be the biggest corruption scandal since Zimbabwe
gained independence more than 26 years ago, Vice-President Joice Mujuru is
said to have been named in an official report claiming that she and other
government ministers were involved in the alleged looting of the state-run
Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company, Zisco.
The report by an elite government crime investigation unit is believed to
have been suppressed, but Dumisani Muleya, the international award-winning
chief reporter of the weekly Zimbabwe Independent, claims to have been
leaked a copy marked "secret". Muleya began releasing details of the report
in the newspaper's November 17 edition, and has promised further
The title has become the main media thorn in the side of the ruling ZANU PF
party following the forced closure of four other independent newspapers and
of all independent radio and TV stations.
Dubbed "Steelgate", the tentacles of the Zisco affair spread wider with
every passing day.
Zisco is the largest steel plant in Africa outside South Africa. Based at
Redcliff, just outside the Zimbabwe Midlands city of Kwekwe, steel
production at the troubled plant has collapsed from 14,200 tonnes a month
two years ago to less than 1,000 tonnes now.
The failing company has been propped up by massive government subsidies.
It was hoped that the Indian multinational group Global Steel Holdings
Limited, GSHL, would ride to Zisco's rescue when it agreed earlier this year
to invest 400 million US dollars in the rehabilitation of the increasingly
But GSHL now appears to have abandoned plans to take on the management of
the Zimbabwean steel firm.
As leaks about the Zisco affair multiplied, the National Economic Conduct
Inspectorate, linked to the finance ministry and the Central Intelligence
Organisation, CIO, compiled a report into allegations of asset stripping.
Parliament's trade and industry committee, shocked by the withdrawal of GSHL
and suggestions of massive government corruption, opened hearings into the
At the first hearing on September 20, Industry Minister Obert Mpofu caused a
sensation when he said that ministers and members of parliament had been
looting Zisco and that this was why the Indian group had walked away from
the deal. "While they [GSHL] were here, they discovered that the company was
being bled," said Mpofu. "There were people that were making money from
Zisco. There was a team sent in by the ministry of finance to investigate
and they produced a thick document and you would be shocked if you see it.
"Some of the people are my colleagues in this chamber. Influential people
have engaged in underhand dealings that have left the company bleeding."
Panic spread through the government, which moved quickly to prevent
publication of the inspectorate's report. Intelligence officials are
understood to have advised President Robert Mugabe that releasing the report
would jeopardise the country's hopes of attracting desperately needed
As Mpofu prepared to give evidence at a second meeting of the trade and
industry committee on September 27, a clerk is reported to have rushed into
the room and said Vice-President Mujuru needed an urgent meeting with him
and his team.
The hearing was adjourned and when Mpofu returned, committee sources said he
looked chastened. He said he had been "quoted out of context... by people
with agendas" who were up to "mischief".
He went on, "I'm not aware of any particular minister or senior person or MP
or anybody [who is involved in Zisco]. Even the report was not commissioned
by me ... I have not even got that report."
However, Mpofu continued to maintain that companies owned by ministers had
joined in the alleged pillaging of Zisco.
The committee, angered by Mpofu's reversal of his story, has now begun a
process in parliament for him to be charged with perjury for the statements
made during the Zisco hearings. If found guilty, he could be fined or jailed
for up to two years, or both.
Gushungo Gondo, a leading economic columnist with the weekly Financial
Gazette, lambasted the MPs for not compelling Mpofu at the first committee
meeting to name the top people allegedly involved in Steelgate.
"The committee's failure to ask probing questions was, for want of a better
expression, extremely disappointing," wrote Gono. "It was inexcusable. The
committee proved toothless.
"Why the shameless attempt to cover up? Why is the government. passive in
pursuing corruption cases that involve ZANU PF bigwigs, but intensely
aggressive when it comes to those cases involving the ruling party
lightweights and others?"
Anti-corruption minister Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana threatened that those
involved in Steelgate would be arrested if there was enough evidence to
"Very soon we will take action and police will make arrests of those who
were involved in corruption at Zisco, irrespective of their political or
social status," he said. "It doesn't matter if they are ministers or MPs. As
long as they were involved, they will be arrested. If we find that a crime
was committed by whoever, we will call in the police and provide evidence
But a short time later Mangwana too retreated, telling Voice of America
radio that he could no longer comment on the Steelgate report because it was
an "intelligence" document.
The ZANU PF party launched its own separate investigation following
suggestions that it might have lost huge sums of money from corrupt internal
practices relating to Zisco.
The party inquiry mainly targeted Rural Housing Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa,
formerly the powerful speaker of parliament, who is competing with
Vice-President Mujuru to succeed 82-year-old Mugabe as state president.
Mnangagwa was in charge of the ruling party's finances when the graft is
said to have been happening.
The ZANU PF probe was launched before leaks of the apparently suppressed
inspectorate report named Mujuru as one of those suspected of looting Zisco.
The Zimbabwe Independent, which has investigated Steelgate in as much depth
as allowed by Zimbabwe's oppressive media laws, has described the scandal as
the biggest since independence in 1980 and has alleged that it involves
members of the state presidency, cabinet ministers, MPs and ZANU PF
The state presidency comprises Mugabe, his two vice-presidents, Joseph Msika
and Joice Mujuru, and ZANU PF national chairman John Nkomo.
Mujuru is wife of former defence force chief Solomon Mujuru, one of the most
powerful men in Zimbabwe. Under the war name of Rex Nhongo, General Mujuru
led Mugabe's Mozambique-based guerrilla army during the 1970s war of
independence in what was then white-ruled Rhodesia. Since stepping down from
military duties, he has become one of Zimbabwe's richest businessmen.
Neither Mujuru, Mnangagwa nor any other ministers have commented on the
reports and abundant allegations concerning ministerial enrichment at the
expense of Zisco. But Mugabe's official spokesperson, George Charamba,
speaking to the state-owned Herald daily newspaper, denied any looting of
Zisco by government officials.
But in a radio interview, Muleya of the Zimbabwe Independent said, "There
have been a great deal of attempts in government circles to scramble to bury
the Zisco report in order to hide the disclosures that are made in it.
Ministers have been making a lot of contradictory statements to obfuscate
The alleged looting of the Zisco steelworks is said to have been achieved,
among numerous methods, by bid-rigging for contracts, and the allocation of
large amounts of foreign exchange to top government officials and their
associates who claimed to be doing business on behalf of the company. Huge
sums in foreign currency are claimed to have been lost through overpricing
by suppliers connected to big fish in government and the ruling party. Abuse
of company credit cards, management fees and directors' expenses as well as
false claims for air fares, hotel bills, purchases, and entertainment are
alleged to have further contributed to huge losses.
As the whistleblowers continue to threaten further disclosures, speculation
is rampant about how far up the stream the big fish swim.
Prior to the leak to the Zimbabwe Independent, powerful government members
appear to have succeeded in keeping the report by the National Economic
Conduct Inspectorate under lock and key. Government sources told IWPR that
ministers and others privy to the findings of the report have been ordered
not to release it in whole or in part.
However, according to the Zimbabwe Independent, some insiders say they will
not allow the authorities to sweep the issue under the carpet given the
evidence pointing to the systematic looting of public assets. The
whistleblowers argue that ZANU PF is suppressing the report because its
detailed contents could blow the ruling party clean out of the water.
John Makumbe, a lecturer in politics at Harare's University of Zimbabwe and
a local representative of the international anti-corruption organisation
Transparency International, said, "The level of asset stripping taking place
under Robert Mugabe's watch has risen to astronomical proportions. It is
unfortunate, however, that he sits there. incapable of stopping the rot, let
alone arresting and prosecuting any of the perpetrators of these heinous
Joseph Chikonamombe is the pseudonym of an IWPR journalist in Zimbabwe.
Thu 23 Nov 2006 9:56 AM ET
By Jeremy Lovell
LONDON, Nov 23 (Reuters) - The world must step up pressure on Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe to quit as his country disintegrates and people die
in droves from disease, hunger and depression, a Roman Catholic archbishop
said on Thursday.
Pius Ncube, the outspoken archbishop of the southern Zimbabwean city of
Bulawayo, said life had become impossible for the citizens of the
once-thriving former British colony of Rhodesia.
"The world must continue to put pressure on Mugabe. He must go. Only when he
goes will there be changes," Ncube told Reuters on a visit to London.
"People are fed up. The army is fed up. The police are fed up. The young
have given up hope and either try to leave the country to South Africa or
Britain or indulge in reckless behaviour and get AIDS," he said.
"People are saying to themselves 'whether I am alive or dead, it makes no
difference'," Ncube added.
The backbone of the agrarian economy of Zimbabwe has collapsed since Mugabe,
in power since independence from Britain in 1980, began wholesale
nationalisation of white-owned commercial farms in 2000.
Unemployment is 80 percent, inflation is running at a world record 1,070
percent and life expectancy has sunk to 37 years for men and just 34 years
Mugabe says the land nationalisations were an attempt to right colonial
wrongs, and the economic crisis is a result of Western interference.
A massive shanty clearance programme last year razed to the ground the homes
of 700,000 people and destroyed their fragile livelihoods.
"A lot of people just died of depression after the demolitions," Ncube said.
While Mugabe's aim was to force them to return to the villages from which
they originally came, most have stayed put and are either living rough or
living with their neighbours causing massive overcrowding problems, Ncube
"As a result there has been a big increase in crime in Zimbabwe. These
people are forced to steal in order to buy food," Ncube said. "Many people
just can't afford life."
"It is not easy to see an end to all this. Mugabe continues to be
intransigent. He never listens to anybody except himself. He bullies," Ncube
In Britain to try to raise awareness of the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe,
Ncube, who has received many death threats for his campaigning opposition to
Mugabe, is also trying to raise funds for the Zimbabwe Benefit Fund that
"There are 1.3 million AIDS orphans in Zimbabwe. They need medication, funds
and support," he said.
Illustrating the scale of the problem facing his fellow Zimbabweans, Ncube
said the medical system had collapsed, with equipment broken and shortages
of doctors, nurses and drugs.
Mail and Guardian
23 November 2006 02:35
A leading Zimbabwean rights group on Thursday slammed President
Robert Mugabe's government for failing to ratify a United Nations convention
against torture and condoning its use by state agents.
"We don't understand why Zimbabwe is not yet a party to the UN
Convention Against Torture", unveiled in 1985, Farai Chiweshe, deputy
director for the Southern African Human Rights Trust (SAHRIT), told a
committee of lawmakers.
Zimbabwe's image has been tarnished in recent years by
allegations of torture and brute force by state security agents to crush
opposition to Mugabe's 26-year rule.
"We are concerned that Zimbabwe has not ratified the convention
when all countries in the region have done so," Chiweshe said.
"A lot needs to be done to ensure police respect human rights,"
The deputy chief of SAHRIT also castigated the Zimbabwean
government for repressive laws that critics say have become a tool to muzzle
the once-vibrant independent press, hound the opposition and stifle
"Some provisions of the Public Order and Security Act and the
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act have been deemed to be
inconsistent with Zimbabwe's obligations under international treaties,"
"These laws are unnecessarily restrictive and intrusive and
there is a need to bring the laws in conformity with international treaties
to which Zimbabwe is a signatory."
A new law is also in the offing to allow state agents to snoop
on private telephone conversations and intercept e-mails and faxes.
In September several labour leaders, including the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions president Lovemore Matombo and secretary general
Wellington Chibebe, were brutally assaulted by riot police deployed to crush
Mugabe later justified the crackdown, criticising the protesters
for "wanting to become a law unto themselves". -- AFP
By Tererai Karimakwenda
23 November 2006
A team of soldiers from the Zimbabwe National Army took over a sugar
farm in the lowveld on Monday morning even though it belongs to a foreigner
whose property is protected by the Bilateral Investment Promotion and
Protection Agreement (BIPPA). Located near Chiredzi the farm had already
been sub-divided into small plots on which the so-called A2 farmers were
resettled by government. Chiredzi farmer Gerry Whitehead said the army team,
with assistance from the Chiredzi police, forcibly evicted a French
Mauritian cane farmer named Lebot from his homestead. He added that only
about 18 white cane growers were left out of more than 50 growers that
existed before the year 2000.
The Mugabe regime has not respected the bilateral protection
agreements that government signed with foreign companies in order to
encourage them to invest in Zimbabwe. And the loss of confidence in
investing may drive out more businesses from an already ailing economy.
Whitehead said the A2 settlers who were given plots by government as
part of the land reform programme have not grown any cane. He described the
land they are on as derelict and the A2 farmers continue to do nothing.
According to Whitehead the sugar mills were designed to handle a certain
amount of sugar cane and right now they are not being efficiently utilized.
There is not enough being grown to keep them busy. Sugar shortages, which
already exist, are bound to get worse.
A statement sent by the Zimbabwe Peace Project said farm evictions
continue to be carried out in Chipinge. It alleged that at least six
eviction notices have been delivered to farmers, including those issued to
farm owners of Busi, Whittington valley, New Farm and Sweet Acres farms. The
owners were given until December 18 to vacate their farms. The statement
said: "The farm invasions are reportedly being masterminded by the Zanu PF
District Chairman and Central Intelligence office head in Chipinge, on
behalf of Zanu PF senior officials." The full ZPP statement is on our
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Tererai Karimakwenda
23 November 2006
A total of 54 students were arrested in Harare, Bulawayo and other
centres as they marched peacefully but making a noise, by beating drums and
pots and singing on Wednesday. They were participating in the first of
several planned "noisy" protests organized by the Save Zimbabwe Campaign.
The state security minister Didymus Mutasa immediately warned against any
future actions, even though the government submitted a report this week
denying human rights abuses to The African Commission on Human and People's
Rights meeting in The Gambia.
As he has done on several other occasions Minister Mutasa warned there
would be a tough government response to any future protests. Reports quote
him saying: "If they fail to restrain themselves we will make them do so and
if we do so, they shouldn't cry." Police were caught unawares Wednesday when
protestors around the country hooted from their cars and blew whistles. Many
at home made noise, beating their pots and pans for at least 5 minutes as
they joined in the protest.
President of the Zimbabwe National Students Union Promise Mkwananzi
said 16 students were arrested in Bulawayo, 5 in Harare and 33 at Kaguvi
Centre between Kwekwe and Gweru. He said police had been making it difficult
for them to gain access to the arrested students but lawyers were now
Mutasa's response is a sign that the noise irked those in power as
intended by the organizers of the Save Zimbabwe Campaign- a coalition of
churches, students, civic and political groups which was formed to do just
that - save Zimbabwe from further deterioration. They distributed fliers
urging Zimbabweans to join in the noise making on a weekly basis. Some of
them read: "Our noise is a symbol of our distress at the way Zimbabwe has
been governed and a cry of hope for transformation."
But the arrests Wednesday and several other brutal actions against
peaceful protestors by the police this year seem to have no effect on The
African Commission. It failed again to put Zimbabwe on its agenda for the
next session in 2007 despite the well-documented humanitarian crisis that
has gripped the country for the last 6 years.
This continued impunity enjoyed by the Mugabe regime makes a mockery
of the processes put in place by the organ of the African Union empowered
with monitoring human rights. It also calls into question whether the
continent's leaders have any political will to reign in errant member states
and create the democratic environment they claim needs to exist, as they
pursue increased investment by the international community. But above all,
it guarantees that brutal assaults and the torture of innocent Zimbabweans
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
By Violet Gonda
23 November 2006
The pressure group Women of Zimbabwe Arise has announced that from 25
November to 10 December they will also embark on a 'noisy' protest campaign
in what they have dubbed 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence. WOZA
Co-ordinator Jenni Williams said the kind of violence they are campaigning
against is not just about what happens in the home but also what happens
outside. She said Operation Murambatsvina, the government clean up exercise
that left 700 000 people homeless, is another form of extreme violence.
She said not only are people are denied shelter but also the right to
affordable basic commodities. "To us those are all forms of violence and
they are being perpetrated by a government against its own people. So when
we are talking about domestic violence as the women of WOZA we are including
state sponsored violence."
WOZA invites Zimbabweans to bang pots, whistle and to honk their car
horns for two minutes at 8pm every evening during those days. The say this
is a "a step forward to have the promises of the Domestic Violence Bill
delivered and put an end to state-sponsored violence so that we can
concentrate on rebuilding our country and saving lives."
The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international
movement, which began in 1991 to commemorate violence against women and the
lack of human rights.
Williams said it's easy to remember when to start making the noise -
"when people start hearing those drums beating with the propaganda news
coming from ZBC, that should be their cue to go into their kitchens, go
outside their doors. We want them to feel free to do whatever they want,
bang pots, shake rattles, use their loud horns like they do when they are
supporting Highlanders. That's the kind of noise we want to hear. We want to
drown out the propaganda that is coming from this government until they
start to tell the truth. And we also want to send a message that we are not
happy and a hungry person is not a happy person."
According to the World Health Organization's World Health Report 2006
the life expectancy for women in Zimbabwe is 34 years, the lowest in the
world. According to the report men in Zimbabwe have a life expectancy of 37.
Women form 52% of the population in Zimbabwe and usually it is the mother
who must provide food despite a tight budget. It's reported that 60 per cent
of all murders in Zimbabwe were a result of domestic violence, with the
majority of the victims women.
SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news
Mail and Guardian
Mail & Guardian reporter
22 November 2006 11:07
President Robert Mugabe's fight against corruption is closing in
on his closest confidants. The 82-year-old leader is in a quandary and is
unwilling to pass a routine political directive for the arrest and
prosecution of Zanu-PF officials allegedly involved in illegal foreign
Police insiders have said that no arrest or prosecution of a
Cabinet minister or member of Zanu-PF's Politburo takes place without Mugabe's
sanction. It is a political formality that the police and Attorney General
adhere to, but Mugabe's selective approach has irked some of his colleagues
The police's criminal investigations department investigated
Mugabe's close ally, retired General Solomon Mujuru, husband of
Vice-President Joice Mujuru, for flouting exchange control regulations and
running Mafia-type shelf companies.
These companies would buy and trade foreign currency on the
black market with individuals and companies in which the government has an
interest. Mujuru then made weekly transfers involving billions of Zim
dollars (see "The docket").
The official exchange rate is set at Z$250 to the US dollar, but
the black market is thriving: the greenback fetches about Z$1 500.
Central bank Governor Gideon Gono has accused big business of
sabotaging his economic reforms by trading on the black market and flouting
the Exchange Control Act, an offence punishable with jail time or a fine.
Since 2003, when the exchange rate was fixed, several business
people, hoteliers and bankers have been arrested for illegally dealing in
foreign currency. However, it appears that no one has the guts to go after
Mujuru -- whom police insiders have dubbed the "Godfather" of murky foreign
currency dealings in Harare.
Mujuru's dealings have also implicated the Commercial Bank of
Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company, of which the government is the
second major shareholder.
The Mail & Guardian can reveal that a docket was opened this
year and handed to Mugabe by police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri. But no
"political directive" was forthcoming, so police put an end to the
The M&G is reliably informed that a second probe was conducted
by the national economic conduct inspectorate, a crime investigating unit of
the finance and state intelligence ministry.
The docket was made available to the M&G by a high-ranking
source in the government, who is concerned that Mugabe is "frying small
fish" and leaving his confidants untouched.
This is despite Mugabe's public assurances that he will
prosecute anyone involved in corruption regardless of "status" or "political
affiliation". In the past two years his crackdown has netted just two
The docket against Mujuru states that there are two front
companies operating from Harare's Five Avenue shopping centre: Cellular
Unique (Star all) and Longfeld Investments. Cellular Unique is mysteriously
registered as a cellphone business operating company.
Both companies use the same address -- CY3095, Causeway, Harare,
and have accounts at the National Merchant Bank's Angwa City branch
denominated in Zim dollars.
The police report indicates that Cellular Unique and Longfeld
are front companies for a parent holding company, Parlovan Investments,
owned by Mujuru. Parlovan is a registered money transfer business that made
several big deposits into Longfeld and Cellular investments accounts.
Another company, identified as AIT, is also allegedly owned by
Mujuru and, according to the docket, is used in illegal foreign currency
According to a senior government official, Gono is aware of the
docket on Mujuru and has grown frustrated with Mugabe's failure to take
action against the general.
When Gono unveiled his monetary policy statement on August 31 he
made a thinly disguised reference to companies in the Avenues area illegally
transacting in foreign currency deals. "He [Gono] has knowledge of the
police investigation into General Mujuru," said the senior government
A week later, Gono said he would not be prevented from turning
the economy around by people who were trying to intimidate him with their
"liberation war credentials".
This week, when contacted by the M&G to name these powerful
people with liberation war credentials and those masterminding foreign
currency dealings, Gono referred the newspaper to "his Excellency, the
president" and "the police commissioner".
In October Gono banned all money transfer agencies, accusing
them of breaching foreign exchange regulations. Gono believes illegal
foreign currency dealings are ruining the economy by encouraging speculative
tendencies that fuel inflation which, at about 1 000%, is the highest in the
In the docket against Solomon Mujuru, the police reveal that
"the money transfers and transactions involve large volumes of cash, such as
$40-billion a day".
The criminal investigations department's (CID) probe reveals
that "the two front companies are dealing in illegal forex business". The
dealings are done by Emmanuel Manyika, who heads both companies, with a
buyer identified as Wadzanayi.
The currency is then sold to individuals and companies,
including the Commercial Bank of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe Fertiliser
Company, of which the government is a major shareholder.
Six pages of statements from Longfeld's National Merchant Bank
accounts made available to the CID show large deposits from Parlovan
Investments during two months between December 2005 and February 2006.
Why Mugabe won't act
Should Robert Mugabe act against Solomon Mujuru, there is likely
to be an outcry from the powerful Zezuru ethnic group within his party and
government. Mujuru is a Zezuru from Chikomba district, Mugabe's first wife,
Grace's home area.
Mugabe is aware of more than 10 completed investigations into
corrupt activities by senior government officials, but he has not acted on
them. As a result there is a feeling that acting against Mujuru could open a
can of worms, with disgruntled party members spilling the beans on their
rivals. This could dent the image of his party and the government.
A ruling Zanu-PF party Politburo member told the Mail & Guardian
that Mugabe's loyalty to Mujuru dates back to 1976, during the liberation
struggle. It was Mujuru, then known as Rex Nhongo, who formalised Mugabe's
leadership of Zanu's military wing in the presence of the late Tanzanian
leader Julius Nyerere.
Before joining the struggle Mujuru had worked as a tyre salesman
at Dunlop in Bulawayo. In 1976 he worked with the late former Zanla
commander, Josiah Tongogara, to have Mugabe accepted by the liberation
fighters in the struggle.
Back then, there was deep-seated distrust between the liberation
fighters and the political leadership. The leadership had been accused of
selling out the struggle, but Tongogara and Mujuru forced the liberation
fighters to accept Mugabe during a turbulent period that saw countless
fighters killed and others detained for mutineering.
A senior official said that despite becoming "disdainful" and
"very annoyed" by Mujuru's business dealings and lack of party commitment in
the past years, Mugabe is reluctant to send him to prison given his war
Although Mujuru is part of Mugabe's supreme organ, the
Politburo, over the past years he has not been active in party affairs. But
last November he played a crucial role in elevating his wife to the
vice-presidency, fighting off a challenge by presidential aspirant Rural
Housing Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Tue 28 November - 7.30pm - Frontline Club (13 Norfolk Place, London W2
NEW ? Insight with Daniel Howden - Zimbabwe - a Country in Meltdown - ?5
The Independent?s deputy foreign editor, Daniel Howden, who has just
returned from Zimbabwe, describes a country in meltdown. Moderated by George
Zimbabwe is forbidden territory for most journalists. Robert Mugabe?s regime
has made it extremely difficult for reporters, especially those from
Britain, to get into the country at all.
Howden saw a country whose recent deterioration is alarming. More than 85
percent of the population live in poverty, 80 percent are unemployed, 90
percent of military personnel are HIV positive and female life expectancy is
the lowest in the world. Inflation is currently running at 2,000 percent a
Numbers only tell part of the story, however. Join us as Howden describes
the people behind these appalling statistics.
Daniel Howden is The Independent's deputy foreign editor. He has reported
extensively on southern Africa, Latin America, Eastern Europe and the
Balkans. Formerly with Reuters in Athens, he has been a contributor to the
BBC, the Sunday Times, Politiken and the Christian Science Monitor.
George Alagiah is an author, broadcaster and presenter of the BBC Six
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All money collected at the door goes to the Frontline Club Charitable
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Championing independent journalism
November 23, 2006
By Savious Kwinika (CAJ)
NEWLY resettled farmers have indicated that they are not happy with
Zimbabwe Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono's statement that there are
adequate fuel supplies for this farming season.
In a recent press briefing last week, Gono sought to assure farmers
of adequate fuel supplies for the season highlighting that over 80 million
litres of fuel had been paid for and was already in the country.
"We do not have faith in what our Central Bank Governor is saying.It
has always been like that in the past and we have always been assured that
there will be no shortages of fuel, only to be disappointed at the end,"
said Kudzayi Zvandaziva, a Bindura-based farmer.
Another farmer in the Murombedzi area, a rural and ZANU PF stronghold
of Robert Mugabe,indicated that Gono was just making these statements to
please the ruling party hierarchy and hoodwink the international community
that all was well in Zimbabwe.
"We know for certain that no fuel will be available when we come to
the full planting season. These guys must learn to tell the truth, rather
than lure us into a false sense of security," said Ephraim Katiyo, from
Mabvure in Zvimba.
Gono made the disclosure that there would be adequate fuel for the
farming season while appearing before the National Economic Recovery Council
(NERC) on Monday last week.
"I would like to reaffirm the reserve bank's undertaking that all the
necessary fuel required to propel this season's farming activities will be
timeously made available," said Gono.
"In this regard, I'm pleased to report that over and above the 61.68
million litres of diesel and 24.4 million litres of petrol that we briefed
to the NERC meeting on 25 September, 2006 as having been paid for with some
deliveries already in the country. We have since secured another US$10
million for additional fuel to support our farmers."
The central bank chief added that the country's bank was upbeat that
fuel supplies will be adequate for this farming season, which has started
albeit at a slow pace following the start of the rain season this week.
"We, therefore are upbeat that this season adequate fuel will be
November 23, 2006.
By Savious Kwinika (CAJ)
THE Zimbabwe Diaspora Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) Forum is
faced with uphill challenges in helping shape and economically empower the
scattered Zimbabwean community currently living abroad.
Among other challenges that hinder close co-operation among
Zimbabweans living in the Diaspora relate to tribalism issues, political
affiliations, power struggle within the civic society organizations whilst
some newly emerging civil society organizations are bogus and financed by
the state security of the CIO.
Urdice Sno, an academic based in Holland, who specialises on forced
migration met with the Zimbabwe Diaspora CSOs Forum leadership, among them
Daniel Molokela, Savious Kwinika, Luke Zunga and Sox Chikohwero to map out
possible strategies for bringing Zimbabwean think-tankers together before
chanting the way forward.
"I discovered that some organizations here are tribalistic, others do
affiliate to certain political parties in Zimbabwe, power hungry, some are
financed by CIO whilst some emerging ones, which pop up economic reasons.
"Worse still, I realized that there is serious lack of understanding
about how the Zimbabwe Diaspora CSOs Forum would achieve in the new
Zimbabwe", said Sno.
She urged Zimbabwean Civil Society Organizations to stop competing for
space, donor funded resources and put emphasis on the future of Zimbabwe
Responding to Sno's comments, the Zimbabwe Diaspora CSOs Forum
Treasurer, and author of three economic books, Luke Zunga said his
organization was in no competition with anyone as they were thriving
Zimbabweans to be organized abroad." We are not competing with anyone, but
trying to build a strong Zimbabwean Nation abroad".
"We have to bring all the great think tanks together, identify capable
leaders to takeover Zimbabwe in the event of Mugabe quitting politics. The
Zimbabwe Diaspora must have solutions to political and socio-economic
challenges the country if facing today", said Zunga.
The Zimbabwe Diaspora CSOs Forum Chairman, Daniel Molokela, said his
organization was working tirelessly to try and engage all the Zimbabwean
communities living in South Africa.
Molokela said the CSOs Forum would engage Zimbabweans in Cape Town,
Port Elizabeth, Durban and Pretoria to build the Zimbabwean nation abroad.
The Zimbabwean Diaspora CSOs Forum was formed to operate in the
Diaspora, as a civic organization whose vision is to strive for a united,
free, democratic and prosperous Zimbabwean community in the Diaspora. -
November 23, 2006, 06:30
A Zimbabwean high court judge has reserved judgment in a case in which the
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is challenging government's
decision to bar Zwelinzima Vavi, the Cosatu secretary general, from entering
Aleck Muchadehama, the defence lawyer, argued that Vavi's deportation in May
this year was unprocedural as no papers declaring him a prohibited immigrant
had ever been served. "No such prohibition ever existed because he was not
given any notice of prohibition, he was not served with any papers and they
did not produce any proof of such service."
The outspoken Cosatu leader was deported on arrival at Harare International
Airport as he led a delegation that was due to meet the ZCTU leadership to
Muchadehama added that when government initially barred the Cosatu official
from entering the country in 2004, Vavi was already in South Africa and they
did not accord him the chance to give his side of the story. He says
government's reasons are unclear. "The minister refused to disclose reasons
for his prohibition and he actually issued a ministerial certificate to that
Vavi has accused the Zimbabwean government of infringing workers rights and
failing to abide by the rule of law.
From The Financial Gazette, 23 November
Kumbirai Mafunda, Senior Business Reporter
A Harare motorist spent four nights in police custody last week for
allegedly blocking President Robert Mugabe's motorcade. Simba Mabasa, a
driver employed by quasi-state organisation, the Tobacco Industry and
Marketing Board (TIMB) was arrested and detained at Harare Central Police
station last Thursday after he allegedly interfered with President Mugabe's
motorcade along Julius Nyerere Way in the capital.He got into hot soup
because he allegedely failed to give way to the motorcade. The convoy was on
its way from the Harare International Airport after the presidential party
arrived from a Common Market for East and Southern Africa (COMESA) meeting
in Djibouti. TIMB is a statutory body, which issues licences to tobacco
auction floors, buying companies and tobacco contractors. In addition to
arresting Mabasa, police impounded the TIMB shuttle bus that he was driving
after ordering all passengers to disembark. Workers at the TIMB said Mabasa
was released on Monday after four nights of rigorous interrogation. The
impounded bus was returned to the organisation on the same day. "They
(police) said his docket is being worked on," said one worker at TIMB who
requested not to be named.
An apprehensive Mabasa confirmed his release when contacted by The Financial
Gazette on Tuesday, but refused to answer further questions. Under Zimbabwe's
tough security laws, which include the amended Road Traffic Regulations
(2002), it is an offence for the public to say or do anything "within the
view or hearing of the State motorcade with the intention of insulting any
person travelling with an escort or any member of the escort." Police
spokesperson Oliver Mandipaka could not confirm the incident. "It is an
incident that I am not aware of. I will have to find out".It has become
routine for President Robert Mugabe's security personnel to terrorize
motorists and pedestrians accused of obstructing the Presidential motorcade.
In 2005 three armed policemen interrogated and assaulted a motorist who had
allegedly interfered with President Mugabe's motorcade during a State visit
by former Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa. A number of citizens have also
been arrested and assaulted for allegedly insulting the President, which is
a criminal offence under the General Laws Amendment Act.