PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
negotiators have rejected a plan by Senegalese President Abdoulaye Wade to
intervene in the country’s crisis by engaging Britain.
Wade left Harare yesterday after closed talks with Mugabe and MDC
negotiators Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti on Wednesday. Wade suggested that
a five-member committee of African leaders be appointed to "assist in the
normalisation of relations between Zimbabwe and the United Kingdom".
However, Mugabe and the MDC rejected the plan for different reasons.
Mugabe refused to accept the offer, saying it would create "unhelpful
parallel initiatives" outside Southern Africa Development Community (Sadc)’s
own process. Sadc mandated South African President Thabo Mbeki to deal with
Zimbabwe. Wade said Mbeki alone could not handle the issue.
The MDC rejected Wade’s plan because it would divert attention from
serious issues currently under discussion to "red-herrings" on the British
and anti-imperialist mantras. "We turned down his plan because it would
distract our focus from serious issues we are currently dealing with," an
MDC official said.
This came as Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni entered the fray in a
bid to crack the impasse from another angle. Museveni’s spokesman confirmed
after the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Kampala last weekend
his boss would now be involved in Zimbabwe.
Tamale Mirundi, Museveni’s spokesman, said Brown confirmed that he was
prepared to help rehabilitate Zimbabwe if Mugabe puts his house in order.
It also follows the resumption of talks between Zanu PF and the MDC
who are racing against a new early December deadline. Mbeki was in Harare
last week to pressure Mugabe and the MDC to conclude the talks before Zanu
PF’s congress and his ruling ANC’s conference in mid-December.
Mbeki was heavily defeated in nominations for his party’s presidency
by his buccaneering rival Jacob Zuma last weekend, sparking fears among the
negotiators that this might undermine his role if he eventually loses in
Mugabe is also under intense pressure on the EU-Africa summit front
where it has been suggested by the Portuguese that even if invited, they
would be happy if he doesn’t attend because his presence would be
Already British premier Gordon Brown and Mirek Topolanek, the Czech
prime minister, have confirmed their boycott in protest at Mugabe’s
invitation. African leaders have threatened to boycott if Mugabe is barred.
However, Nigerian President Mussa Yar’Adua has broken ranks with other
African leaders, saying at a meeting in Wiesbaden, Germany: "I want to
emphasise that what is happening in Zimbabwe is not in conformity with the
rule of law. I do not subscribe to this."
Sources said Zanu PF and the MDC are now meeting "everyday" to
complete the talks, although fresh hurdles have emerged.
"We have been meeting virtually everyday since President Mbeki came
here (last week). There is now war at the negotiating table, but both
parties remain committed to the talks," a reliable source said. "We are now
at a sensitive stage and negotiations are now very delicate."
The sources said the debate is focusing on sanctions, land,
demilitarisation of state institutions, use of militias, abuse of state aid
and traditional chiefs and hostile political rhetoric. These issues fall
under the political climate, the last item on the agenda.
ZANU PF’S "one million men and women" solidarity march in the capital
today is part of President Robert Mugabe’s project to secure the
life-presidency and to close the succession battle in the ruling party.
The march from the Zanu PF headquarters to Harare Grounds in
Highfield, party insiders said, was a public roadshow for those opposed to
Mugabe’s continued stay in power that the 83-year old leader was still
The move, the sources said, was the culmination of lobbying by the war
veterans, women and youth leagues that started at the Zanu PF people’s
conference in Goromonzi last December and at a crucial central committee
meeting on March 30.
In Goromonzi and at the central committee meeting, the women’s league
headed by Oppah Muchinguri resolved that Mugabe should remain in the party
and as head of state until death.
No one in the party opposed the league’s proposal that was also
adopted as part of proposals at the Goromonzi conference.
War veterans vice-president Joseph Chinotimba and youth chairperson
Absolom Sikhosana yesterday confirmed to the Zimbabwe Independent that they
wanted Mugabe to die in office.
Chinotimba said: "President Mugabe is our leader for life. Comrade
Mugabe is a father figure to us and have you ever rejected your father
because he is old? It is only (USA President George) Bush, (former British
Premier Tony) Blair and (ex-Australia Premier John) Howard who leave office,
not our president."
He said the march was to encourage Mugabe not to quit even after
winning next year’s elections and serve his five-year term.
"We are saying Comrade Mugabe is not like Howard who lost elections.
Our president has no terms, he should rule for ever," Chinotimba added.
Sikhosana said the youth wanted Mugabe to rule for life.
"The youth should go in their numbers to demonstrate their unwavering
support to our only presidential candidate, the hero of the nation President
Mugabe," Sikhosana said. "We are praying to the Almighty God that he gives
President Mugabe good health and more days on earth so that he continues to
lead our party and our great nation till death."
He said Mugabe should be life-president if he is to achieve his goal
to "totally liberate Zimbabwe and Africa".
The only official to comment on the matter after the Goromonzi
conference was Vice-President Joseph Msika who said people must be careful
not to make emotional decisions in politics.
However, since Mugabe’s endorsement by the politburo and central
committee, there have been a lot of buy-ins for Mugabe’s project to remain
in power from various constituencies in the party.
Msika recently said Mugabe should be allowed to stay on so long as he
was serving the nation.
"We do not change leaders as fast as we change our shirts," Msika told
a Zanu PF Harare province meeting on November 17. "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."
Mugabe’s continued stay in power was being challenged by a faction in
Zanu PF led by Solomon Mujuru, which wanted Vice-President Joice Mujuru to
The Mujuru faction has since made a u-turn insisting that it never
questioned Mugabe’s leadership, and did not oppose his endorsement as the
party’s 2008 presidential candidate by the politburo and the central
committee last month.
Mugabe’s project to remain in power for life is spearheaded by war
veterans, women and the youth leagues of Zanu PF who in the past three
months have organised solidarity marches.
Rural and Social Amenities minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, another
presidential hopeful and a rival of the Mujuru camp, is reportedly the
mastermind of the marches by the war veterans to rally support for Mugabe
ahead of a special congress by Zanu PF in mid-December.
But despite Mugabe securing the endorsement, the marches continued
with insiders saying they were meant to garner support for the president to
be declared a life president at Zanu PF’s five-day extraordinary congress
starting on December 11.
While efforts to get a comment from Muchinguri yesterday were
fruitless, at a march in Chinhoyi at the weekend organised by war veterans,
women and youth leagues, placards written that Mugabe should stay in office
till death were being waved by party activists.
Didymus Mutasa, Zanu PF secretary for administration, could not be
reached for comment last night as his mobile phone was not being answered.
ZIMBABWE yesterday broke a new record by being the only country in the
world with a national budget running into quadrillions (15 zeroes),
reflecting its highest inflation on the globe, and possibly making another
dramatic entry in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Finance minister Samuel Mumbengegwi presented a $7,8 quadrillion
budget to parliament amid disbelief among MPs and the public about the
government’s chaotic fiscal policy.
Mumbengegwi, whose budget concept and delivery were widely described
as "pathetic", dramatised his failure to measure up to the task by even
failing to read budget figures before him. The minister pronounced the
figures wrongly before giving up when it became clear he was mixing up
MPs laughed while the public watched in disbelief.
Mumbengegwi’s budget was $7 840 000 000 000 000. According to the US
weights and measures system — which Zimbabwe uses in monetary issues — this
figure is $7,8 quadrillions.
However, if converted to the US dollars, it comes down to a mere
US$5,3 billion at the Old Mutual Implied Rate of US$1: Z$1,5 million. If the
official rate of $30 000 is used the figure jumps to a massive $261 billion
but this does not reflect the real value of the budget.
In US measurements, figures with six zeroes are a million, nine zeroes
is a billion, 12 zeroes is a trillion, 15 zeroes is a quadrillion.
The next figure after this is a quintillion (18 zeroes) followed by a
sextillion (21 zeroes) and it goes up to googol for 100 zeroes and then
infinite after 600 zeroes. No country has a quadrillion in the world today.
Due to hyperinflation, Zimbabwe’s budgets could soon deteriorate to
quintillions. Officially, Zimbabwe has the highest inflation of more than 14
Augustine Mukaro/ Kuda Chikwanda
THE Reserve bank of Zimbabwe is set to change the country’s currency
in the first week of December in a programme codenamed "Sunrise 2" as a way
of dealing with the current cash crisis.
The operation was supposed to have started on Wednesday this week but
encountered last minute problems that required the attention of the central
It is however expected that the new currency might be launched as
early as tomorrow.
The change-over will require massive resources in both manpower and
Highly placed sources said an RBZ management team led by Edward
Mashiringwana, the acting RBZ governor, last Saturday met to finalise
logistical issues, which they agreed required a minimum of three days
instead of the 48 hours initially suggested.
"The change-over is likely to take place beginning tomorrow
(Saturday)," one source said.
The source said the RBZ would deploy a minimum of five teams in each
district in the country, which implies that around 295 teams would be
deployed to cover the 59 districts.
"Each province (of RBZ operational teams) has submitted a proposal for
32 vehicles, which means that about 1 888 vehicles will be required for the
operation," he said.
The recruitment of retired police officers to provide security for the
operation started on Monday as the central bank entered the final stages
before the currency switch.
Shortlisted officers were informed during the weekend to report for
duty on Monday and receive their briefing on the operation.
"I was told to report for duty on Monday. We were supposed to have
been informed of the allowances we would get then," said one officer who was
A severe cash shortage has hit the country for the past four weeks,
forcing hundreds of people to spend days and nights on queues outside banks
trying to withdraw money.
RBZ governor Gideon Gono last week blamed the shortages on speculation
by foreign currency dealers. He said dealers were keeping huge amounts of
money at home.
He said as long as people stashed large amounts of money at home, thus
starving banks of cash, he would not inject new money into the system. Gono
threatened to introduce a new currency in a bid to force the public to bring
back money into the official system.
Several commercial banks which under normal circumstances permit
individuals to withdraw $20 million and corporate account holders a maximum
of $40 million a day have since reduced these limits to $5 million and $10
million respectively since the beginning of the cash crisis at the end of
TODAY’S "one million men and women march" in Harare by war veterans
supporting President Robert Mugabe’s candidature in next year’s election
will seriously disrupt critical industrial and commercial activities due to
the diversion and abuse of state resources when the economy is in a deep
The Zimbabwe Independent has it on good authority that the National
Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) yesterday suspended the movement of goods trains
which ferry coal from Hwange to various centres as well as grain to the
southern parts of the country.
This was meant to create free passage for trains expected to move
party supporters to Harare. It is also understood that locomotives for goods
trains have been diverted to haul passenger train coaches.
A highly placed source in the NRZ said technicians were ordered to
ensure a smooth passage for passenger trains from Chiredzi, Victoria Falls
and Mutare despite the usual problems with signaling systems.
The source said the suspension of goods trains would remain in place
until Monday and that this had presented logistical problems for
However, NRZ spokesman Fanual Masikati on Wednesday told the media
that his organisation was ready to transport the marchers.
"As the national rail transporter, we are geared for the event and we
have pooled together our resources to fully support this historic event," he
was quoted as saying.
Over 150 buses from the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company and private
organisations will ferry the supporters, a development that will create a
shortage of public transport on a number of routes.
The Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions is reported to have issued a
circular to companies urging employers to release workers to join the march.
However, no official comment could be obtained from the Employers’
Confederation of Zimbabwe and the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce on
Officials from retail outlets yesterday said they were not going to
open for business until after the march for security reasons, while
employees in government departments said they had been instructed to join
The route for the march, which starts near Rainbow Towers Hotel on
western end of the city through Samora Machel Avenue, down Julius Nyerere
Way, up Charter Road into Simon Mazorodze, is usually busy and a huge
traffic jam is expected.
The route map was not advertised earlier in accordance with local
Harare provincial police spokesman Inspector James Sabau said police
officers would be deployed on the route.
Harare residents and individual businessmen who spoke on conditions of
anonymity yesterday said it was a waste of public funds that would also
affect business operations and the free movement of people and traffic in
"Where is the money to transport, feed and accommodate all these
people coming from? How can we have a public enterprise like the NRZ
providing free transport to supporters of a particular political party?
"This is gross abuse of public funds by the ruling party," alleged one
However, war veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda has maintained that
funding for the marches is being mobilised from party members and
Another resident said the march demonstrated double standards by the
police on political gatherings.
"Our police force is partisan. It is always refusing to clear meetings
by opposition parties, yet it ensures that Zanu PF is well covered. When
opposition groups organise similar marches, they are crushed and people are
arrested and assaulted by the same police force.
"I think this presents a challenge for the opposition forces to
organise a similar march and see how they will be treated by the police and
public enterprises like the NRZ," he said.
THOUSANDS of failed Zimbabwean asylum-seekers in Britain face
deportation after a British court last week ruled that not all of them were
victims of political repression in Zimbabwe.
The deportation move comes in the wake of last week’s ruling by the
Asylum and Immigration Tribunal in Britain that not every deported
asylum-seeker would be at risk of harassment by security agents if returned
Justices Ockelton, Storey and Southern, said in their judgement: "We
do not accept either that all those seen as having claimed asylum in the
United Kingdom will be thought to be supporters of the MDC on that account
alone," reads 88-page judgement.
"As noted earlier, the suggestion that the Zimbabwean authorities
proceed on the basis that anyone with a connection with Britain must be
considered a supporter of the MDC is impossible to reconcile with the
significant effort put into obtaining intelligence concerning those in the
United Kingdom who do support the opposition."
The affected Zimbabweans will be coming back to a country dogged by
fuel shortages and power outages and a health system delivery that has
Most supermarket shelves are empty following a government blitz, which
slashed prices by half in July. The country lost trillions of dollars as a
result of the ill-fated price blitz.
The country’s unemployment rate currently stands at over 80% and
chances are that most of the deportees will not get any jobs.
The inflation rate is estimated at above 14 000% while the Zimbabwean
dollar is trading at US$1: $1 500 000 on the parallel market.
The mass exodus to the United Kingdom began after the 2000 elections
and an estimated 4 million Zimbabweans are believed to be outside the
country in search of greener pastures.
It is ironic that Britain will be resuming the deportations at a time
when the country is preparing for elections when most of the asylum-seekers
had claimed to be running away from political violence in the run-up to
VICE-President Joseph Msika last week summoned Lands, Land Reform and
Resettlement minister Didymus Mutasa to explain allegations of unprocedural
issuance of offer letters and ordered their nullification plus the eviction
of beneficiaries of the unapproved offers.
Sources said Msika over-ruled Mutasa’s recent farm allocations to his
cronies and top army officials.
The meeting was attended by Minister of State for Special Affairs
Responsible for Land and Resettlement Programme Flora Buka, Policy
Implementation minister Webster Shamu, Mashonaland West governor Nelson
Samkange and Lands ministry permanent secretary Christina Tsvakwi last
Msika ordered Mutasa to implement recommendations of the Mashonaland
West provincial leadership to nullify his recent land offer letters and
evict all the new beneficiaries allocated farms unprocedurally.
"Msika demanded an instant eviction of new occupiers of Grande Parade
and Foliot farms in Karoi, both occupied by senior army officers," the
sources said. "He said cases of the two farms had been resolved a long time
Brigadier General Nicholus Dube last month forcibly moved onto Grande
Parade while Brigadier Mtisi took over Foliot farm.
The sources said Msika also made a special mention of Rydings farm,
which has been occupied by a crony of Mutasa, saying disturbances there
should stop forthwith.
Mutasa’s personal lawyer Gerald Mlotshwa occupied the farm and took
over the school.
"Msika also ordered another instant eviction of Fungai Chaeruka,
chairman of the commission running the affairs of Mutare, from Mapetu Farm
Chaeruka last week invaded Mapetu Farm in Burma Valley and
unfortunately for him, there was an uprising by villagers and resettled
farmers in the area, supporting the commercial farmer, Heather Guild, whom
they said had a good working relationship with the community.
"Chaeruka refused to move," one of the sources said. "He produced an
offer letter signed by Mutasa but had not gone through the normal
procedures. During the wrangle crops worth billions of dollars wilted after
Chaeruka’s militia disconnected water supplies," he said.
Sources in the Karoi area said the evictions of the new occupiers has
not yet started even though the directive has been forwarded to Mashonaland
West lands committee chairman, Farukai Chikomba, for implementation.
The new occupiers have taken over all the equipment and the tobacco
crop which the white farmers had planted.
Constantine Chimakure/ Lucia Makamure
THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led faction of the MDC yesterday wrote to the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) alleging that it (ZEC) was being used by
the government to rig next year’s harmonised elections on behalf of Zanu PF
through the manipulation of the voters’ roll and delimitation of ward and
constituency boundaries, among others.
In the letter signed by the party’s secretary for elections Ian
Makone, the MDC said it had pointed out to ZEC in previous correspondences
that the recently concluded mobile voter registration exercise was "opaque,
biased in favour of perceived ruling party strongholds, poorly publicised
The MDC said it would not accept the exercise.
"Given the problems surrounding the exercise and a pittance of new
voters who got registered, the MDC would like to disassociate itself from
such an exercise which was carried out in disregard of Zimbabweans’
democratic right to register as voters," Makone wrote.
He said an audit recently carried out by the MDC shows that not only
is the voters’ roll unacceptably flawed, but it was also unusable.
"It is full of dead and ghost voters," Makone wrote. "To this should
be added a significant number of people who were displaced by Operation
Murambatsvina from urban centres, which are predominantly MDC."
He said this had disenfranchised a "whole segment of our society and
your commission has a responsibility to ensure that these people are
re-enfranchised, wherever they may now be residing".
Makone also alleged that as a result of a poorly-executed voter
registration exercise, the delimitation programme would also be ipso facto
"The MDC cannot be expected to accept a delimitation exercise that is
based on inaccurate statistics of registered voters," he complained.
The party said it does not recognise the current delimitation, arguing
that this process must await the outcome of the Sadc-initiated talks between
the opposition and Zanu PF.
"In view of the above, I am directed
to advise you that the MDC will not participate in the current
consultations on delimitation. We look forward to being invited for the
consultation at the conclusion of the inter-party dialogue," Makone added.
Meanwhile, the opposition has accused the police of banning its
rallies across the country and an escalation of violence against its
The accusations were made by party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa in his
recent address to the ACP-EU joint parliamentary assembly and by Tsvangirai
in Kampala, Uganda, last week when he addressed the Commonwealth People’s
"Meetings of the opposition continue to be interfered with. As of the
month of November over 244 meetings of the opposition had either been
unilaterally cancelled or interfered with by the police," Chamisa said.
"Political violence against members of the opposition continue particularly
in the rural areas where supporters of the opposition are targeted for
harassment, intimidation and assault."
The MDC said the escalation of violence against democratic forces was
a matter raised with the government and South Africa President Thabo Mbeki
in his capacity as the mediator in the MDC and Zanu PF dialogue.
"More than 2 000 cases of human rights violations have been reported
to date within a period of six months. Democratic and peaceful expression by
civic groups such as the National Constitutional Assembly, Women of Zimbabwe
Arise, Zimbabwe National Students Union and Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions have been brutally crushed resulting in many activists being either
detained, assaulted or sustaining injuries," the MDC said.
THE newly appointed United States of America ambassador to Zimbabwe,
James McGee, has said his country will not scrap the Zimbabwe Democracy and
Economic Recovery Act (ZDERA) even if President Robert Mugabe wins a free
and fair election next year.
ZDERA was promulgated in 2002 and the government claims that the
legislation was the source of declared and undeclared sanctions against
Zimbabwe that have resulted in the current economic and political crisis.
The government said ZDERA was enacted as part of the USA’s and the
West’s efforts to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.
In a wide-ranging interview last Friday, McGee (58) said apart from
holding democratic elections, the authorities should also respect human
rights and the rule of law if ZDERA is to be lifted.
"The United States policy on Zimbabwe is not about free and fair
elections alone," McGee, who succeeded the controversial Christopher Dell,
said. "That is only one of the principles outlined in the law (ZDERA). There
is need to address all the principles before the law can be repealed, such
as upholding of human rights and the restoration of the rule of law."
The former US ambassador to Madagascar and the Union of the Comoros
denied that his country had imposed sanctions on ordinary Zimbabweans.
"Our sanctions were targeted against individuals in government. There
are no economic sanctions against Zimbabwe," McGee, who also served as US
ambassador to Swaziland from 2002 to 2004," said.
Asked why government recently claimed that it was failing to obtain
balance of payment support from multilateral organisations like the
International Monetary Fund and the World Bank because of the United States
and its allies’ interference, McGee said: "We are not to blame. Let’s deal
with facts. There are targeted sanctions against individuals. Are you aware
that Zimbabwe qualifies for the United States’Agoa (African Growth and
Opportunity Act )?"
The targeted sanctions prohibit Mugabe, his cabinet ministers and
senior government officials from travelling to the US and the European
McGee said his government was open to dialogue with Mugabe’s regime,
but added that he was not sure who should take the first initiative towards
building bridges between the two.
The career diplomat said there was no need for negotiations in the US.
"They (government) may come to me and negotiate with the US
government. I can negotiate on behalf of the US. Why should they go to the
US to negotiate?" questioned McGee whose foreign service career started in
1981 and has also served in Nigeria, Pakistan, the Netherlands, India,
Barbados, Jamaica and Cote D’Ivoire.
He said government should not expect him to change US policy towards
Zimbabwe because he was a black American and, therefore, a brother to the
"The fact that I am a black American is not an issue with your
government," McGee declared. "I don’t want your government to prejudge me
because of the colour of my skin. I am here to represent the US government
and to implement US policy."
He denied that his country was pursuing a regime change agenda arguing
that it was up to Zimbabweans to decide who should govern them.
McGee said he was not aware that the US intended to deport children of
government officials on the travel sanctions currently studying in that
"I have nothing to say on that issue. I am not aware of the plan to
deport the children," he added.
When told that Dell made a pronouncement to that effect, the
gesticulating McGee said: "My job is to implement policies as directed by
the government of the USA. As far as I know there is no change in the USA
policy on Zimbabwe. If there is change, we will inform you."
McGee, who presented his credentials to Mugabe last Thursday, said he
was "impressed" by the ageing leader.
"I was very impressed by your president," the Chicago, Illinois, born
diplomat said. "He is a very bright, thoughtful man. He chooses his words
McGee, who served in the US Air Force from 1968 to 1974 and completed
Vietnamese-language studies at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey,
California, said he was asked by Mugabe to improve bilateral relations
between Zimbabwe and the US.
Asked whether he would take the government head-on on human rights
issues as his predecessor Dell had tried to do, McGee said he was a
"If I see a grandmother homeless and starving in the streets I will
say it out. Facts are facts. You cannot deny the truth, but I am not here to
stick my finger everyday in the eye of the government," McGee, who earned
three Distinguished Flying Crosses during his duty in Vietnam, said. "If
there are abuses we will say so. US policy towards Zimbabwe cannot be
changed because I am here."
Apart from working towards improving relations between the two
countries, McGee said he would be overseeing US humanitarian assistance to
Zimbabwe. The US will give over US$$200 million worth of assistance this
It will help feed nearly one-in-five Zimbabweans from about US$170
million of food aid.
HIV and Aids assistance has increased to US$31 million this year,
including anti-retroviral treatment for 40 000 Zimbabweans.
In his testimony before the Senate in September, McGee said Zimbabwe
was once a prosperous nation now suffering under "authoritarian misrule".
He said there was a "deep reservoir of democratic knowledge, capacity,
and desire in Zimbabwe that needs continuing support to challenge the
government" to enact democratic reforms and to keep hope alive that change
"Abandoning the people of Zimbabwe to the worst effects of their
government’s misrule is not in America’s interests," said McGee. "Returning
Zimbabwe to a democratic state with a strong economy is necessary to promote
regional stability and economic growth."
He said the US would use all tools at its disposal to "achieve the
results we seek (in Zimbabwe)".
"The ZDERA and our targeted sanctions programme have increased the
pressure on those individuals that have undermined democracy and
prosperity," McGee said. "We are working with like-minded members of the
international community to increase this pressure."
He added that the US would continue to lend support to regional
efforts to help Zimbabwe to enact needed reforms.
THE 2008 harmonised elections require at least 15 000 polling stations
and 174 000 ballot boxes for the 210 constituencies, among other resources,
if they are to be run successfully in line with regional standards.
Observers say the increase in the number of constituencies from 120 to
210 and the simultaneous election of four candidates at once — president,
MP, senator and councillor — using specific ballot boxes, requires more
human, material and financial resources than was required in any previous
This is expected to cost trillions of dollars.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) projects that at least 15
000 polling stations would be ideal for the 2008 polls, although this would
be determined by the ongoing delimitation exercise and the number of
Zesn national director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava said apart from having
more polling stations, the smooth running of the polls would also hinge on
the availability of adequate polling officers, voters rolls and polling
booths, voter education and other resources to speed up the voting process.
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) public relations director Shupikai
Mashereni said there were 8 265 polling stations for 120 constituencies in
the 2005 parliamentary polls.
Simple mathematical calculations show that each constituency had an
average of 69 polling booths. If the same number was to be maintained that
would translate to 14 490 polling stations for the 210 constituencies in
In 2005, ZEC imported 50 000 translucent ballot boxes and an average
of three were distributed to each of the 8 265 polling stations to
facilitate the splitting of voters into three alphabetical categories — A-L,
M and N to Z.
A total of 5 780 912 people were on the voters roll.
If three ballot boxes were used at each polling station for the
election of a single candidate, 12 would be needed for the presidential,
parliamentary, council and senatorial candidates, which translates to 173
880 ballot boxes.
Mashereni acknowledged that more polling stations would be needed for
next year’s polls, but pointed out that the exact figures would be
determined by the delimitation exercise and the number of registered voters.
He said ZEC had submitted its budget to treasury for the elections,
though delimitation and compilation of the voters roll, which should bring
about the exact figures, was still ongoing.
"We have since submitted our bid but I am not in a position to reveal
the figures. Our budget was based on some projections. I agree, delimitation
is still on while the Registrar-General’s office is working on the voters
roll," Mashereni said.
"We submitted our bid to treasury which includes the acquisition of
more ballot boxes and other resources for the elections and we are waiting
to see what we will get from the national budget."
Apart from ballot boxes, more voting booths, ballot papers for the
four candidates, ink, ultra-violet light detection devices, voters rolls,
gas lamps used in rural areas and in case of power cuts, communication
devices, vehicles and various other items are needed to ensure the smooth
running of the elections.
The voters roll, which should be inspected by the electorate before
the polls, was yet to be finalised as the Registrar-General’s office
requires $3,5 trillion before the end of the year for the task.
In terms of human resources, there were at least 12 polling officers,
including the presiding officer, at each polling station and more would be
needed next year to ensure transparency because of the increased number of
The Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), which is mandated to provide
security during the polls, is expected to deploy at least four police
officers per polling station.
Senior Assistant Commissioner Faustino Mazango, the chairperson of the
police elections committee, was recently quoted in the press saying the ZRP
intended to boost its manpower from 29 000 to 50 000 before the polls.
"We have started a massive recruitment exercise so that we have a
minimum 50 000 police officers by the time we have elections," Mazango said.
"If we fail to get those numbers, we will use the police constabulary
because right now we have about 29 000 police officers, which falls short of
It appears that the ZRP will rely more on the constabulary as Deputy
Police Commissioner Levy Sibanda recently told a parliamentary portfolio
committee on Defence and Home Affairs that the organisation had exhausted
its 2007 budgetary allocation and this affected the force’s recruitment
Commenting on the polls to be held in one day in terms of the Sadc
guidelines on elections, Chipfunde-Vava said the efficiency of the polls
would largely depend on the ZEC’s planning.
She said: "Since the electorate will be choosing four different
candidates, ZEC needs to ensure that there are adequate ballot boxes and
papers as well as polling officers to expedite the verification process.
"The period a single voter takes to go through a name-check on the
roll, ink checking and dipping, allocation of ballot sheets, which will be
four this time around, casting of the vote and depositing the ballot sheets
in the right boxes according to the candidates and alphabetical list, can
"So it’s critical for ZEC and other stakeholders to educate the
electorate on the process as well as ensuring that they are in the right
constituencies. The voters roll check, especially for names starting with
certain letter, usually takes time and this can be addressed by having more
voters roll desks and officers like what happened in Sierra-Leone."
Chipfunde-Vava said more voters roll check desks would reduce queues
and the time a voter takes from arriving at a polling station to finally
casting their vote.
She added that the provision of more voting booths in the polling
station would also expedite the voting process.
Local elections usually start at 7am and end at 7pm but in some cases
voting time has had to be extended due to various factors.
Although there is no agreed or acceptable timeframe within which a
voter should go through the voting process, South Africa’s Independent
Electoral Commission said an average of 15 to 20 minutes was ideal.
Electoral Institute of Southern Africa senior advisor Liona Tip said
the voting timeframe, however, depended on a number of factors, including
literacy levels of the electorate and the length of queues.
"Electoral administration authorities tend to work on about 600 voters
per polling station to ensure a smooth process. Actual voting time for a
single ballot can be between three to five minutes, but it can be longer if
the voter requires assistance," said Tip.
Commenting on the polling logistics, Mashereni said he was confident
that the process would go on smoothly as previous trends had shown that
polling stations were usually busy at the beginning of elections.
"Our experience has shown that by the time the polls end, polling
officers are usually free. It also depends on the number of polling stations
and the turn out of voters at particular polling stations," he said.
"Sometimes there can be voter apathy due to several factors and this
is where voter education by ZEC, election monitoring organisations and
political parties should play their role. I am however confident that the
polls will go on smoothly."
Paul Nyakazeya/Bernard Mpofu
BLACK market barons that Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon
Gono, said would burn their fingers in the pending currency change have
emerged as the major beneficiaries of the current cash shortage.
Gono last week said black market dealers who were keeping money to
fund parallel market deals risk making huge losses if they hang on to large
volumes of cash. He said the currency change was imminent and warned people
against keeping large volumes of cash.
He refused to intervene in the current cash shortage saying the
central bank would rather "watch the situation and see where it will end".
He also refused to give a specific date for the introduction of the new
currency insisting that the plan was to catch the barons unawares.
The problem is however that the barons have become so sophisticated
that they are always a step ahead of Gono. It is unlikely that the barons
will lose a cent even if the new currency was to be introduced today because
they have found a way to beat the system.
Gono’s threat seems to have had very little impact on the parallel
market dealers. In instead of suffering, those who have been hoarding cash
are now making huge profits from the cash shortages.
It emerged this week that dealers were taking advantage of the
shortages to sell cash at premiums of up to 25%.
Companies and individual write cheques or wire the money through the
RTGS system for cash. The barons then make a 25% profit on the deal.
Officials in the banking sector are normally part of such shoddy deals
as they are paid to fast track the transfers and clearance of cheques.
"It’s back to the 2003 case where the local currency was being sold on
the parallel market. This cash shortage has created a new business for us.
Now I deal in both forex and Zimdollar," said a parallel market dealer based
at corner Third Street and Robert Mugabe Road.
Companies that handle large amounts of cash like supermarkets have
also found a way of making a profit through either buying foreign currency
or selling it.
"This trend has been found manifest in almost every sector. Cash rich
establishments have seen their bank balances grow and profits increase with
no meaningful trade. Billions and even trillions have been made ahead of the
scheduled currency change through such underhand dealings," Economic
consultant, John Robertson said.
The Zimbabwe Independent this week observed how retail outlets and
furniture shops were reporting brisk business as individuals with cash
rushed to beat the RBZ’s plan to change the currency. Under normal
circumstances such a rush would have meant that Gono’s plan was working but
the problems is that the cash will not find its way back into the banking
system because it is used to buy foreign currency. The other option is to
sell the money to the barons for a premium.
Analysts said the crisis will persist until interest rates in the
banks are attractive enough and inflation has stabilised. They said the idea
of buying money was also being done to avoid questioning by the Reserve Bank
if they are to make huge deposits when a deadline is finally established.
The central bank last week said as from tomorrow, individuals would be
allowed to deposit a maximum of $50 million in cash without having to
justify the source of their money. Businesses will be allowed to deposit
$200 million a day while wholesalers and other large cash handlers have a
cash limit of $1 billion daily.
Gono said individuals and business wishing to deposit more than the
set limits after December 1 would be required to produce evidence to prove
that their income is from legal business activities.
Gono said over 52% of all the money in circulation was missing. This
translates to $28 trillion out of an issued $58 trillion.
Gono had earlier revealed that he was sitting on $20 trillion of
uninsured $500 000 bearer cheques which he would not issue. The end result
has been cash shortages reminiscent of 2003. 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.
In a statement on Tuesday, Morgan Tsvangirai faction spokesperson
Nelson Chamisa said the cash crisis was an open provocation to the people of
Zimbabwe to make them spend nights outside banks as they seek to withdraw
their hard-earned cash.
"It is criminal for any government to be the source of the people’s
agony and tribulations. People simply want to withdraw their hard-earned
money so that they can buy food, uniforms and other basic commodities for
their families. They want to buy maize seed and fertiliser.
"They want to maintain their dignity. They do not want to negotiate
for what is supposed to be an ordinary service," he said.
The cash crisis comes after the Reserve 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 cash situation worsened this week with some banks not having cash
at all while some were allowing maximum withdrawals of $5 million for
individuals and between $15 and $20 million for corporates. Central bank
officials this week said the date for the launch for Sunrise Two was being
kept a secret by Gono.
But many people remain sceptical about the "imminent" launch of a new
currency, pointing out any new currency would soon be eroded by galloping
inflation. Gono is blaming cash barons on the black market for hoarding
cash, and warned those who did not take his announcement of the imminent
launch of Sunrise II that they would only have themselves to blame when
their cash becomes worthless.
THE chairperson of the reconstituted Media and Information Commission
(MIC) team to review the case of the outlawed Associated Newspapers of
Zimbabwe (ANZ), Godfrey Chinondidyachii Mararike, was struck of the register
of lawyers in 1994 for abusing trust funds and practising without a licence,
the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.
ANZ was the publisher of the Daily News and The Daily News on Sunday
that were banned by the government in September 2003 for failing to register
with the MIC in line with provisions of the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act.
Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu appointed Mararike into the MIC
board alongside Charity Moyo, Edward Dube, Tendai Chari and Ngugi Wa Mirii
Former Sunday Mail editor Pascal Mukondiwa and Tafataona Mahoso were
re-appointed with the latter retaining the executive chairmanship.
However, Mahoso and Mukondiwa were barred from hearing the ANZ case
after several court rulings said the previous board could no longer be
trusted to decide the fate of the publishing house.
Mararike is the second blacklisted lawyer to be appointed by the
government last month to head a crucial commission after Godwills
Masimirembwa was picked to lead the National Incomes and Pricing Commission.
Masimirembwa was struck off the law register in March 1997 for abusing
trust funds and also practising without a certificate.
Information to hand reveals that Mararike was deregistered by the Law
Society of Zimbabwe (LSZ) in January 1994 after being found guilty of
"un-professional, dishonourable and unworthy conduct".
The Legal Disciplinary Tribunal, chaired by the then Supreme Court
judge Justice Ahmed Ebrahim, also convicted Mararike of practising law
without a certificate from the LSZ and misappropriating trust funds.
Mararike issued a cheque in favour of a client that was, however,
dishonoured. The LSZ instituted an inquiry into the matter, but Mararike
allegedly failed to properly account to his client.
Justice Ebrahim found in favour of the LSZ’s application for Mararike
to be struck off the register for five acts of misconduct. "The fact that a
cheque was dishonoured by the bank in circumstances where the money should
have been available to meet it can only be explained on the basis of
misappropriation," the disciplinary committee ruled.
Before he was struck off, Mararike had worked for two legal firms as a
professional assistant since his admittance to the bar in 1986 before then
High Court judge Justice Blackie.
Five years later he started his own firm, Mararike and Partners.
Mararike’s certificate of practice expired on December 31 1992, but he
continued to practise without a new one and he did not submit an audit
certificate and the prescribed fee in terms of LSZ by-laws.
Before his admittance to the bar, Mararike worked for the Harare City
Council as a legal adviser soon after completing his Bachelor of Law degree
in 1984 at the University of Zimbabwe. He completed his LLB in 1985.
Mararike yesterday was uncooperative when reached for comment. He
initially told Independent that he was having a bath and when called later,
he claimed he was busy.
POLICY Implementation minister Webster Shamu who sued the Zimbabwe
Independent for $500 million for reporting that his 2005 parliamentary
election campaign was bankrolled by white farmers has withdrawn the lawsuit.
The withdrawal comes after Shamu’s lawyers, Vasco Shamu and
Associates, failed to produce the minister’s election campaign accounts as
requested by Independent lawyer, Linda Cook.
"With regard to your request to see our client’s accounts pertaining
to the previous parliamentary election, we advise that our client does not
have such accounts," Shamu’s lawyers wrote on July 5.
"These matters were dealt with by his chief election agent and
completed long ago. In any event, we do not see why you wish to have them as
we take the view, on reflection, that they are irrelevant to the present
In response, Cook demanded that Shamu’s agent produce the accounts as
they were public records. "With respect, we are astonished by your advice to
the effect that the plaintiff cannot produce his records of funds received
for his election campaign and his accounts because his chief election agent
has them," Cook replied to Shamu’s lawyers on July 27.
"With respect, the law is clear on this point. Documents in the
possession of your client’s agents are to be produced. Furthermore, and in
any event, your client has a statutory obligation to keep such records."
However, earlier this month Shamu’s lawyers wrote to Cook advising her
of their intention to withdraw the suit saying in the next High Court term
Shamu will be busy with the 2008 election campaign.
"During the next High Court term, our client will be involved in the
impending elections in 2008, and he will not have enough time to attend to
this matter. His instructions to us, at this stage, are that he would be
happy, on a completely without prejudice basis, to withdraw his suit on
condition that each party pays its own costs."
Cook said there was no reason for Shamu to be disappointed that the
case had not been given a trial date as the case had been set down for trial
"I should add that to say that Shamu is disappointed that the case has
not been set down for trial is nonsense. The case has been set down for
trial on several occasions by Mr Justice Patel, going back to 2006,"said
The Independent edition of July 29 2005 carried a story headlined
"Zanu PF chefs exposed" in which it was reported that Shamu’s election
campaign for the Chegutu constituency was bankrolled by white commercial
FINANCE minister Samuel Mumbengegwi yesterday presented a $7,8
quadrillion budget that analysts say is inflationary and populist in nature.
Mumbengegwi went on a money dolling spree in a move analysts say is
designed to win hearts ahead of next year’s elections. Analysts said the
budget was devoid of any policies that will solve the fundamental problems
of foreign currency shortages, inflation and slumped production levels.
Zimbabwe is currently facing serious food, power and fuel shortages. The
exchange rate is still out of sync with the reality forcing individuals and
companies to use the parallel market.
Analysts said Mumbengegwi’s budget is silent on how the government
plans to solve all these problems which are at the core of the economic
For the second year running, the government failed to produce the blue
book which gives specification allocations to government ministries.
The blue book shows government’s exact expenditures in the budget.
The budget which ran into quadrillions — a shocking figure is not
often head of in world economics — clearly indicates the collapsed state of
the economy as it clearly shows.
Last year’s actual budget was $27 trillion but it grew to $64 trillion
after an additional $37 trillion which Mumbengegwi added through a
supplementary budget presented in September. This new figure translates to
an increase of 12 250% on last year’s budget which indicates that government
is anticipating that inflation will continue to gallop next year.
Mumbengegwi said the budget would be funded from next year’s tax
revenues projected to be about $6,080 quadrillion. He said the budget
deficit will be 11% while the nominal Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was $16
quadrillion. Economists said government was likely to rely heavily on
domestic borrowing and money printing.
Analysts are skeptical of the minister’s projections that inflation
will come down from 14 840% to about 1 978% by end of next year saying there
were no policies on the ground to achieve such an ambitious target. The
market is also skeptical of his projection that the economy will grow by 4%
next year on the back of increased agricultural production.
The economy has shrunk by more that 60% in real terms since the crisis
started in eight years ago and analysts say any prospects of growth are nil
unless there is a clear policy shift in government and outside help in the
form of balance of payment support.
Ambitious projections on inflation and growth in previous budget
statements have proven to be wide off the mark. Inflation had skyrocketed
and the economy has registered negative growth for the past six years. "Its
shocking empty in terms of real policies to drive the economy forward," said
an economist with a commercial bank. Mumbengegwi seemed to have a blank
cheque as he presented what he dubbed the ‘People’s Budget’.
Mumbengegwi reviewed the tax free threshold from $4 million to $30
million per month and widened the tax bands to end at $500 million above
which income would be taxed at 47,5% with effect from January 1, 2008. He
also increased tax free bonus and performance related awards to $75 million.
Non taxable threshold for retrenchment packages were also increased to $1
The budget will fund next year’s elections to the tune of $209
trillion. Line ministries were given $1,3 quadrillion. He gave $914,9
trillion to support the ministries responsible for health, education and
He gave $302 trillion for next years’ cropping, irrigation and
rehabilitation of equipment. This is despite the fact that the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has poured in trillions into the agricultural sector to
fund the mechanisation and next year’s season. Mumbengegwi allocated $80
trillion for the rural electrification programme and a further $10 trillion
to support rural communities take advantages of the electricity to venture
into income generating project.
Troubled water authority, Zinwa, was given $48 trillion to repair its
infrastructure. Two months ago the central bank gave Zinwa $14 trillion and
In what could be a pacifist move Mumbengegwi allocated $34,3 trillion
for the housing of uniformed forces and $65 trillion for the general civil
"I propose to allocate $25 trillion towards Operation Garikayi and
$42,4 trillion for the Beitbridge redevelopment programme with priority
towards completion of ongoing works.
By Tendai Biti
THE mediocre budget proposals for 2008 presented yesterday by Finance
Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi is an economic fiction that reflects the
disconnection, denial and the sense of abstraction of the Zanu PF regime.
At all material times over the years, we have always argued that the
regime is trapped in a matrix of denial and has no depth of the nature and
extent of the Zimbabwean crisis.
The suggestion by the totally talentless Mumbengegwi that the
Zimbabwean economy will grow by 4% in 2008 and that year-end inflation in
the same year will be down to 1 978% underpins the psychiatric disconnect.
The structural streak of abstraction and disreality makes Mumbengegwi
fail to acknowledge the reality of the zillion dollar budget, preferring
instead to pronounce it in terms of multiple trillions.
That this regime could present a $7, 840 quadrillion budget and fail
to see and acknowledge the reality that it has failed, is not in charge of
this economy and has no answers to this malaise is further evidence of this
reality deficit and the reified case of structural denial.
Zimbabwe is in a structural crisis and is in its 11th year of
continuous negative economic growth rates, a situation not known in a
country not in war.
The macro-economic fundamentals, in particular the inflation figures,
the exchange rates and the interest rates betray total and complete lack of
appreciation of the same by this regime.
Put simply, the economy is on a free-fall and attempts to rein in the
same by whatever instrument, be it the budget itself or the RBZ’s
quasi-fiscal fascism, merely reinforces a fiction; the fiction that Zanu PF
is in control when it is not in control.
At the core of the crisis in Zimbabwe is the fact that the state is
controlled by a coterie of gangsters and thugs who are tired and exhausted.
The limitations of nationalism are being exposed in the post-colonial
State where the nationalists controlling the State have failed to reform and
to pass on the baton.
Put simply, in the language of Franz Fanon, nationalism has become
exhausted and is surely dying.
Further, to the extent that nationalism and the state it controls have
failed to evolve, the said State has become predatory and captive. It is a
state that has become an arena for personal accumulation. It is a state with
vampire, vulture and piranha tendencies.
It eats everything in its way. It steals for the sake of stealing and
accumulates for the sake of accumulation.
However, it is a State that is fiercely loyal to one value and one
value alone; the power retention matrix.
Thus, even in its state of disconnect, Mumbengegwi’s budget does a
brilliant job for the power retention agenda, particularly given that 2008
is an election year.
No wonder, in real terms, 70% of the budget is devoted to the army,
the police, militias and patronage in the form of high allocation to the
women and the youth.
Thus, under a vote item innocuously headed Special Services in the
vote for the President and Cabinet, $87, 9 trillion has been allocated to
the Central Intelligence Organisation.
The Ministry of Defence got a staggering $374,3 trillion while the
ministry of Home Affairs got $339,6 trillion.
But the real slush fund is found hidden as an unallocated reserve
under the Ministry of Finance’s allocation in the form of a staggering
Further, a large part of the patronage funds are found hidden in
various vote allocations to the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and
The attempt to label this budget a "people’s budget" is as hollow as
it is unoriginal. For all practical purposes, this budget is arguably the
most anti-people budget since independence. We say so for a number of
reasons, both structural and normative.
At a structural level, the government anticipates a revenue of $6,08
quadrillion and an expenditure of $7,8 quadrillion, leaving a deficit of
In its wisdom, or lack of it, the government anticipates receiving
revenue to the sum of $6,08 quadrillion. This is fiction given the
continuing shrinkage of the supply side of our economy.
Indeed, the Minister of Finance himself in the same statement,
implicitly acknowledges that for 2007, actual revenue collections were 53 %
of the fiscal targets of $46, 6 trillion.
What this means is that in 2008, there is no reason to expect that
revenue collection will be anything more than 60 percent of the revenue
target of $6,08 quadrillion.
This government will certainly print and borrow more money.
That will trigger off major inflationary pressures arising out of the
increase in broad money supply (M3) and of course the inflationary effect of
the budget deficit.
More inflation means further theft on the people’s savings and
The budget is also anti-people in that it is premised on a false and
scary turnaround matrix. The government of Zimbabwe has dubbed 2008 the
"mother of all agricultural seasons".
Pursuant to this, it has invested zillions of dollars in this
agricultural season. About $1,9 trillion has been allocated towards inputs
and over $1,4 trillion has been allocated for the purchase of fertiliser,
chemicals and seed channeled through the inappropriately named Operation
Maguta. Over and above this, there has been an extensive farm mechanisation
programme which has been financed to the tune of US$25 million.
Two things arise. The first is that with a fertilizer deficit of over
50%, a seed maize deficit of over 40%, a bumper harvest is a pipe dream.
Never mind the fact that everything depends on whether or not we have
a good rainy season.
More important is the fact that an accumulation model based on
agriculture and mining is a false one. In this century, to believe that
agriculture and mining can offer a way out of supply side haemorrhage is
Even if we were wrong on this point, the fact remains that a good
agricultural season does not translate into economic salvation as long as
there is no clearly articulated ideological and developmental framework and
as long as there is no respect to economic fundamentals , even in the narrow
and neo-liberal sense.
Put simply, any budget has to be grounded on a clear ideological
policy and vision. Past budgets have been rooted in various developmental
models that were in existence eg. Zimprest, the Millennium Economic Recovery
Plan or the National Economic Development Priority Programme.
The fallacy of Mumbengegwi’s budget is that it’s a rhetorical,
contradictory mass of populist and neo-liberal matrices which are not loyal
to any basic stabilisation or development model.
Moreover, there is a complete disconnect and dysfunctionality in the
affairs of this regime.
On one hand there is an overzealous RBZ governor who at least is loyal
to a vague notion of economic stability and on the other, there is a coterie
of gangsters who impose indiscriminate price controls and fight inflation by
imprisoning captains of industry and business leaders.
The risk-taking gangsters will push in totally predatory and archaic
legislation such as the Empowerment Bill and the new mining laws.
The bottom line therefore is that the country is operating on the
basis of a structural deficit model.
The neo-colonial State, such as Zimbabwe, operates overdrawn accounts
in respect of economic sense, economic decency and truly pro-people agenda.
The only way to close this structural deficit is to resolve the
burning political deficit in the country.
This requires genuine national dialogue that will hopefully articulate
the parenthesis of a new people-driven Constitution model and free and fair
elections in terms of that model.
Quite clearly, the regime in Harare continues to play blind man’s buff
with the economy and the people of Zimbabwe.
Tendai Biti, MP is the MDC Secretary-General.
FINANCE minister Samuel Mumbengegwi’s budget yesterday showed a
deficit of $1 760 quadrillion a figure representing 4 064% of the
consolidated budget for 2007. This means that this next year’s deficit is
actually far more than the total budget of this year.
Expenditures for 2008 will come to a whopping $7 840 quadrillion
outstripping revenues set at $6 080 quadrillion.
The budget deficit is approximately 11% of the country’s Gross
Domestic Product (GDP) which Mumbengegwi set at $16 000 trillion. Even at
such huge figures in monetary terms the market believes that the deficit is
heavily understated. The International Monetary Fund said this year’s budget
deficit would rise to more than 75% of the GDP as government continues to
spend money it does not have.
Analysts say the budget will have to be funded through money printing
and domestic borrowings. Government’s domestic debt is currently at $12
Mumbengegwi said he expected the budget to drive down inflation from
current highs of 14 840% to 1 978% at the end of next year. It is however
unclear how this will be achieved when the new figure budget figures are
more than 12 000% more than this year’s budget.
Ministries and government departments had submitted expenditure
requests for $42 435 trillion which Mumbengegwi dismissed saying they were
"These bids are geared towards chasing inflation rather than reducing
it. However, the thrust of the 2008 People’s Budget is geared at stabilising
the economy and increasing output and productivity in order to put the
economy back on a sustainable recovery and growth path," said Mumbengegwi.
The minister also projected that the economy would grow by 4% and said
this growth would ride on the agricultural sector, improved industrial
performance and increased activity by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).
"The 2008 macro-economic framework is premised on a projected real
economic growth of 4%, due to the anticipated growth in the agricultural
sector, improved industrial performance and economic performance by the
grassroots, including SMEs," he said.
However, economists said the growth targets were far fetched as
Mumbengegwi had already laid the ground for the economy to shrink much
University of Zimbabwe (UZ) economist Tony Hawkins said Mumbengegwi’s
budget was based on a lot of wishful thinking and was patently misleading.
"If you look at the statement and the blue book, the figures differ.
With the level of expenditure requests made by ministries, it means next
year we are going to have quite a number of supplementary budgets. And it
obviously means the budget deficit will be much higher," Hawkins said.
Hawkins said government was clueless as to how it would get through
next year and was likely to continue with Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s
inflationary quasi-fiscal funding.
"Ministries did not get what they asked for; instead they only got 18%
of their requirements. It means we are likely to see inflation peaking," he
Economist John Robertson said Mumbengegwi’s growth forecasts were
unrealistic and said the economy was set to shrink further.
"The growth forecasts are unrealistic for a number of reasons. He
(Mumbengegwi) has already disallowed expenditure requests from government
ministries and departments for $42 435 trillion," John Robertson said.
"In the absence of such funds, it means we are going to see seriously
deteriorating levels of efficiency and effectiveness across the public
sector next year."
Mumbengegwi said his People’s Budget would try to stem skills flight
so as to ensure that government achieved economic turnaround.
"The 2008 Budget, therefore, targets the retention and attraction of
skills, through a package of incentives," Mumbengegwi said.
Robertson said this was highly unlikely as government was unable to
meet the requirements of its ministries and departments.
"Mumbengegwi only allocated less than a fifth of what ministries
requested. It means government cannot meet the requirements of its own
departments. Most of that money was set to pay better wages and replace
equipment. The people with skills will leave and those left behind will
reduce their productivity and concentrate on their own small businesses on
government time," Robertson added.
Capital expenditure accounted for only 32% of the submitted budget
statement while recurrent expenditure — a major inflation driver — is 68% of
FINANCE minister Samuel Mumbengegwi in his 2008 national budget
yesterday set aside $209 trillion to meet the costs of next year’s
presidential, legislative and council elections.
In his budget presentation in parliament, Mumbengegwi said the money
will fund operations of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), the
Registrar-General office (RG) and the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
Mumbengegwi said the government had already made available resources
for mobile voters’ registration, voters’ roll inspection and the
"Under the 2007 budget, government has already availed resources for
mobile registration, voters’ roll inspection as well as the delimitation
exercise," said Mumbengegwi.
"In addition, funding requirements, including foreign currency, for
election materials such as ballot boxes, indelible ink, tents and other
equipment have been met."
In the 2008 budget, the minister said, funding requirements include
personnel costs, vehicle procurement and other election-related costs.
In terms of resources, next year’s polls will need close to 15 000
polling stations with 173 000 ballot boxes for the 210 contested
constituencies while each polling station would require at least 12 polling
officers and four policemen.
The budget allocation for the elections is also expected to address a
critical staff shortage at ZEC, which currently has 140 workers out of the
Last week, the RG’s office, which runs the voters’ roll and handles
identity and citizenship documents, appealed for US$6 million from
government for preparations for elections and management of its computerised
The RG’s office’s chief accountant Edwell Mutemaringa recently told
the parliamentary portfolio committee on Defence and Home Affairs that the
department urgently required $3,5 trillion to print the voters’ roll.
The police are also failing to recruit additional manpower and buy new
vehicles for the elections due to lack of funds.
The force currently has 2 000 vehicles out of the required 15 000.
There are 29 000 members of the police and the force intends to
recruit 21 000 more.
FINANCE minister Samuel Mumbengegwi yesterday allocated the
Agriculture ministry $475 trillion, $165 million more than what it had
requested for in the formulation stages of the 2008 national budget.
The allocation is expected to be used mainly for grain imports,
support for both summer and winter cropping seasons, livestock support,
rehabilitation of irrigation and on-farm infrastructure as well as dam
Presenting the budget, Mumbengegwi said a vibrant agricultural sector
was essential for the revival of the economy and to ensure food
self-sufficiency as well as increase industrial production in the country.
He reviewed the rentals fees for A2 farmers to reflect the real value
of the farms, saying that farmers would be required to show proof of payment
of the rental fees in order to be eligible to participate in
He said notwithstanding the difficulties affecting the agricultural
sector, it managed to record an overall growth during the 2006/7 season.
"Notwithstanding drought conditions experienced during the 2006/7
cropping season, real growth of 4% is estimated for the agricultural sector
this year," Mumbengegwi said.
"Tobacco, horticulture, groundnut, soya beans, sunflower and tea were
among the major crops contributing to this year’s overall positive
agricultural performance. The positive performances of the above crops
offset the drought-induced decline in maize production, which fell to 953
000 tonnes compared to the 2006 crop of 1 485 000 tonnes."
He said government will continue to support the agricultural sector
through the provision of inputs and working capital, so the 2007/8 season
which has been dubbed "the mother of all agricultural seasons" has to be
accorded highest priority in the 2008 budget.
"Since the majority of our people are engaged in agriculture,
increased support for agriculture is increased support for the people," he
said. "This is why this budget is dubbed the ‘people’s budget’."
Mumbengegwi said production in virtually all crops was expected to
increase next year following government interventions with farm machinery,
equipment and inputs.
"Government interventions for the coming season should see farmers
benefit from improved access to a wide range of farm machinery and
equipment, and such inputs as fertilisers, seeds and chemicals are now in
place for the 2007/8 farming season," he said.
He said farmers were already accessing the inputs through countrywide
"In the case of maize seed, measures are in place to provide for the
estimated shortfall of the 15 000 tonnes through imports. Seed houses have
availed 35 000 tonnes of maize seed," he said.
Mumbengegwi allocated $1,9 trillion towards inputs support and maize
purchases of which $1,4 trillion was already spent at the end of October.
"Government also provided resources amounting to $98,6 billion for the
purchase of fertiliser, chemicals and seeds, through Agribank and Operation
Maguta," he said.
He said the Reserve Bank has also supported the effort through the
mechanisation programme and provision of incentives in order to encourage
"By October 2007, over 2 500 tractors and other farm machinery were
allocated to the farmers under this programme," he said. "Over 70 000
ox-drawn implements have also been availed to communal farmers."
He said government disbursed resources amounting to $958,6 billion in
support of wheat production, of which $500 billion was for wheat purchases
which has seen over 70 000 tonnes delivered to the GMB.
He said attention has been given to other sectors that directly
contribute towards the success of agriculture, which include inputs such as
coal, electricity and fuel where the providers of these resources need
"Included in the areas of agricultural production under focus is
livestock production," he said. "This requires budgetary support in terms of
the veterinary services and loan scheme for the rebuilding of the national
"To augment these efforts to support agricultural production,
government will work out and implement cost-plus pricing for agricultural
commodities with two objectives of ensuring farmer viability and
productivity as well as affordable food crop prices to the end consumer."
He said his focus was consistent with the current initiatives such as
the ongoing agricultural mechanisation, Aspef as well as operation Maguta
and is a direct strategy for reducing inflation.
THE Minister of Finance Samuel Mumbengegwi yesterday made minor tax
concessions to hard pressed workers which, analysts say, will soon be eroded
by rising inflation.
Mumbengegwi increased the tax-free threshold to $30 million from $4
million, an amount which is only enough to buy about 6kg of the low grade of
"I propose to review the tax-free threshold from $4 million to $30
million and also to widen the tax bands to end at $500 million per month,
above which income is taxed at 47,5% with effect from January 1 2008," said
In August Mumbengegwi had reviewed the tax-free threshold from $1,5 to
$4 million during the mid-term policy review.
"In order to support households during the festive season and their
preparations for other expenditures such as new tern school fees, I propose
to increase the tax-free bonus and performance related award to $75 million
with effect from November 1," he said.
Mumbengegwi also reviewed the non-taxable threshold of retrenchment
packages to $1 billion or one third of the retrenchment package, whichever
is greater, with an upper limit of $10 billion effective January next year.
Tax credits have reduced the tax obligations on the blind and
physically challenged persons in order to increase their disposable incomes.
Mumbengegwi increased tax credits for the blind and physically challenged
persons to $25 million per month with effect from January next year.
The minister said commercial imports by unregistered traders were only
liable to customs duties at the port of entry.
All other taxes that were liable after resale of such commercial
imports such as tax on realised profits, Value Added Tax and other related
taxes currently remain outside the tax net.
"I propose to levy a 10% withholding tax on the value of all
commercial consignments imported by traders who are not registered with the
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra)," he said.
Mumbengegwi said upon registration of the business with Zimra,
withholding tax paid will be credited against tax payable on submission of
an income tax return.
Income tax on motoring benefits granted to employees were said to be
an additional income that should be grossed to their salaries for purpose of
taxation in line with the principle of equity and fairness.
Against this background, tax on a vehicle with an engine capacity of
up to 1 500cc was reviewed from $600 000 to $40 million. An engine capacity
of over 1 500cc but not exceeding 2 000cc was raised to $60 million from $1
million. A vehicle with a 2 000cc engine but not exceeding 3 000cc capacity
was reviewed to $75 million from $1,25 million while an engine capacity
exceeding 3 000cc rose to $100 million from $1,6 million.
The minister said a low registration threshold strained the capacity
of tax administration, since small-scale enterprises will be compelled to
register for Value Added purposes.
"I propose to adjust upwards the threshold for VAT registration to
$120 billion per annum with effect from January 2008. The proposed threshold
will not apply to registered VAT operators," he said.
Mumbengegwi said value added tax would be levied on all goods disposed
of through a registered auctioneer, regardless of whether they belong to a
registered or unregistered company or individual with effect from January
Due to the absence of a time frame within which capital gains tax paid
should be remitted to Zimra, the time before remittance was in most
circumstances too long resulting to tax collected losses value.
Mumbengegwi then proposed the remittance of capital gains tax to be
made to the tax authority within 30 days after transfer of the property.
"Provision for penalty and interest for failure to pay or delayed
payments will also be put in place to enforce compliance," he said.
Customs duty on fuel which was pegged at $5 000 per litre of diesel or
petrol was reviewed upwards to $100 000 per litre effective tomorrow.
A presumptive tax on hair saloon at a rate of $50 million or 10% of
gross income per quarter whichever is greater.
FOUR public utilities whose performance is crucial for the restoration
of production capacity across key sectors of the economy have been allocated
$146,4 trillion in the 2008 national budget.
Presenting the 2008 budget to parliament yesterday, Finance minister
Samuel Mumbengegwi said the money would be shared between Zesa Holdings, the
Rural Electrification Agency, the Zimbabwe National Water Authority and the
National Railways of Zimbabwe to address structural bottlenecks in energy,
water and transport sectors, among others.
On Hwange, which is key to industrial production and electricity
general, Mumbengegwi said government would work with stakeholders to
mobilise resources for its recapitalisation, coupled with a timely review of
coal prices to reflect production costs.
Zesa, which is failing to meet local production and finance power
imports from neighboring countries, was allocated $5,5 trillion for ongoing
rehabilitation and expansion of power generation works.
Mumbengegwi said this would be complemented by demand management
measures that would include periodic tariff reviews to reflect costs as well
as energy conservation awareness campaigns.
A total of $80 trillion was allocated towards the rural
electrification programme and $10 trillion for electricity end-use
infrastructure development to encourage income-generating projects and
irrigation in rural areas.
The development of alternative energy sources, including bio-diesel
and ethanol, solar and bio-gas, received $5 trillion.
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority that is failing to ensure water
supplies in urban centres due to ageing infrastructure, lack of spares and
equipment for repairs, was allocated $48 trillion.
Mumbengegwi allocated $2,2 trillion to the NRZ for upgrading rail
He said this would be complemented by targeted provision of foreign
currency by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to procure more wagons, locomotives
and refurbishment of signaling and telecommunication networks. The NRZ’s
signaling system has been blamed for a number of train accidents.
THE country’s domestic debt has ballooned to $12,5 trillion as at
October 31 from $8,1 trillion in September, a 54,3 % rise.
Presenting the 2008 national budget in parliament yesterday, the
Minister of Finance Samuel Mumbengegwi said continued reliance on domestic
financial borrowings was the reason behind the continued increase in the
He also revealed that the country’s external debt stood at US$4,1
billion of which external arrears were US$2,7 billion.
"Increased reliance on domestic financial borrowings had seen total
domestic debt rise significantly, especially against the background of high
nominal interest rates. Reflecting this, total domestic debt has
progressively risen to the current levels of $12,5 million as at end of
October," Mumbengegwi said.
The figures have a huge bearing on the returns that investors will be
getting from the money market.
The market was bound to continue issuing investors with negative
returns in the short-tem to minimise the harmful effects of the huge
interest cost component on the debt figures.
The Reserve bank has since January said interest rates which
constitutes over 90% of the country’s domestic debt would be a burden on the
fiscus if government continues to rely on domestic borrowing.
The bank said increased borrowing had tied up a high percentage of the
Analysts said the domestic debt would continue to soar due to the
necessity to fund various imports such as electricity, grain and fuel.
"We have managed to restructure our domestic debt profile, which
though mainly still comprised of short term debt profile, which, tough still
comprised of short term debt is now constituted of 35,8% instrument of three
years maturity with the remaining 64,2% being 365 day treasury bills,"
Indications are that the restructuring exercise was likely to be
unsuccessful due to the market’s lack of appetite for long-term investments.
It was evident that the solvency of government was already seriously
compromised by the current interest rates, and technically government
finances will not be better with even a 2% rise in interest rates
Mumbengegwi said the country was experiencing deficits between foreign
currency inflow and outflows.
"The situation was reflective of constraints being faced in the
economy because of sanctions, drought and sagging national ego or mindset,"
The debt stock was likely to rise further on increased borrowing by
government to finance unbudgeted expenditure and the need to meet its
projection of a 4% growth in the economy.
THE MDC’s preparedness for the 2008 elections is uncertain as the
party continues to delay the launch of its campaign for the historic joint
presidential, parliamentary and council polls next year with very thin
activity on the ground.
Analysts have said divisions rocking the opposition have exposed the
party’s ill-preparedness for the elections, a development that might give
away the much-awaited polls to Zanu PF.
The MDC is fighting on all fronts, from the women’s assembly, the
talks with Zanu PF and over candidates for the elections. The divisions have
seen the opposition diverting attention from canvassing electoral support
and shaping a convincing campaign strategy for the watershed elections to
Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said the turbulence in the MDC
was caused by an uncontrolled search for power.
"The MDC are shooting themselves in the foot because instead of
consolidating their support base, they are alienating it," he said. "They
have a penchant of pressing a self-destruct button at a wrong time. It is
evident that their attention is facing inward, trying to solve intra-party
problems. They need to put their house in order and refocus their strategies
towards a common enemy."
The MDC has failed to use the worsening economic crisis, the July
price blitz, and food shortages as opportunities to advancing its cause.
"The MDC is failing to harness public anger into support. Instead of
working to capture more support for itself, it is sowing seeds of confusion,
a development which might force supporters to stay away from the elections,"
He said the MDC lacked a unifying factor for supporters and the
leadership beyond personalities.
"Unlike Zanu PF, the MDC lacks a unifying force and an ideology which
glues the leadership and supporters to one common goal. Their politics is
the politics of poverty. It is politics of survival whereby those seeking to
be elected to be MPs or councillors have not achieved anything in life.
Politics is the only industry they know," he said.
Zimbabwe Peace Project chairman Alouis Chaumba said democratic forces
were worried by the developments in the opposition, which he said were
killing the momentum to unseat Zanu PF.
"It has become a tradition in the opposition that whenever they are
faced with a crucial election, they find themselves disagreeing over petty
issues," Chaumba said. "Their focus then changes from facing the common
enemy and resolving national issues to personalities, thus giving away the
Chaumba said failure to resolve internal politics should ring alarm
bells for the leadership if they entertain hopes of forming the next
"Conflict in general is not bad but what becomes wrong is the failure
to deal with the disagreements internally," he said. "It casts doubts on
whether the party is prepared to embrace democracy at national level."
Other analysts said the opposition should be rolling out campaign
strategies for the elections, which are only five months away, identifying
constituencies and rallying their supporters at the grassroots level.
The analysts said the opposition should not wait for Zanu PF to set
the tone of elections.
However, the Morgan Tsvangirai faction of the MDC said it has set in
motion its election preparations by setting up a poll directorate to vet
candidates for the presidential, legislative and council elections.
Tsvangirai last week met over 200 provincial and district leaders of
his faction at Harvest House where the directorate was announced.
Party spokesman Nelson Chamisa said the directorate, headed by
national chairman Lovemore Moyo, will select and vet next year’s election
candidates, among other things.
"The election directorate has been tasked to finalise the vetting of
candidates who submitted their curriculum vitae for selection," Chamisa
said. "It will also be involved in key preparations for the election in both
logistical, administration and technical support."
The directorate is expected to finalise the list of candidates for the
election before the party’s annual conference next month.
To boost its election bid, the MDC has already imported more than 300
vehicles for its provincial and districts structures. The vehicles are
easily identified by the party’s open palm symbol.
Chamisa said the MDC was confident of winning despite a hostile
environment. "Notwithstanding the hostile environment, we enter the race
from a position of strength," Chamisa said. "We are confident of victory
because people have suffered enough. We are confident that we shall win the
MDC deputy organising secretary Morgan Komichi said his party’s
preparations were at an advanced stage because they had already invited
applications from prospective candidates for the elections.
"We are going to field candidates in all constituencies," Komichi
said. "We have already invited applications for candidates, which have
received an overwhelming response so we will hold primary elections in most
of the constituencies."
He said his party was just waiting for the delimitation of
constituencies to announce its candidates.
Komichi said the divisions that rocked the MDC last month were just a
hiccup. "That was just a temporary hiccup," he said. "The president has
explained it and everybody has accepted the process."
He said his party had already deployed vehicles and campaign teams
into constituencies to canvass for support.
All this activity has however been overshadowed by intra-party
fighting which has rocked the party from the time of the 2005 split to the
latest spat which saw Chamisa, former Harare mayor, Elias Mudzuri, deputy
secretary-general Tapiwa Mashakada, Kwekwe MP Blessing Chebundo and youth
leader Thamsanqa Mahlangu, condemning Tsvangirai’s action.
Political analysts said the instability in the MDC ahead of a crucial
election against Zanu PF could tilt the scale in favour of President Robert
They say while it is agreed that Zanu PF is weak now given internal
rivalries and an economy in free-fall, the opposition appears much weaker in
a number of respects.
Mugabe is under siege from a collapsing economy blamed on
mismanagement, internal wrangling in Zanu PF and internationally isolation.
Tsvangirai is battling to re-establish himself as the undisputable
leading opposition politician after the split of his party in 2005. While he
has in a way managed to reclaim that mantle, divisions persist.
IN recent weeks war veterans have marched through the streets across
the country to show solidarity with President Robert Mugabe who is fighting
to thwart dissenting lieutenants within his party eager to see him
Questions have been raised as to why the veterans of the 1970s war of
liberation — who have also been impoverished by the economic meltdown
spawned by Mugabe’s misrule — have chosen to hold these solidarity marches
at a time when Mugabe’s support in the party is at its lowest ebb.
Zanu PF insiders say the pro-Mugabe marches — spearheaded by war
veterans leader Jabulani Sibanda -— are an attempt to silence factions in
the ruling party pushing for a new leader to be selected at the party’s
extraordinary congress in December.
Another question that has not been answered by those appointed to
speak on behalf of Zanu PF is why President Mugabe and his ruling party have
mysteriously chosen to hold an extraordinary congress instead of the
traditional annual people’s conference which could still deal with all items
which the party officials say have necessitated the extraordinary congress.
Observers say President Mugabe has grudgingly agreed to an
extraordinary congress as demanded by the powerful central committee of his
party with a plan to tactfully impose his candidature while taking the
opportunity of a congress to silence dissenters.
While all Zanu PF spokesmen are adamant that the main agenda of the
December congress is the "confirmation of President Mugabe as the Zanu PF
candidate for next year’s presidential elections" it is becoming clearer by
the day that there is something that the ruling party officials are not
If it is true that according to the Zanu PF constitution Mugabe’s
candidature cannot be opposed at the extraordinary congress in December how
is it possible that, conversely, the same congress will be mandated to
endorse Mugabe’s candidature?
Can it be possible by any stretch of constitutional provision that the
Zanu PF extraordinary congress — which happens to represent the highest
decision-making body of the ruling party — is only required to endorse the
candidature of its leaders but not empowered to do the opposite?
It may be important to highlight that there is no difference between
an ordinary congress and an extraordinary congress of the ruling party in
terms of composition and fundamental powers. Both congresses are attended by
exactly the same number of delegates who represent similar structures and
portfolios of the party.
The only difference is that by constitutional design an ordinary
congress of the ruling party is held once every five years while an
extraordinary congress is held as and when it is necessary to do so as
requested by a majority of party provinces or the central committee of the
It follows therefore that the Zanu PF extraordinary congress to be
held in Harare this December should have the power not only to endorse
Mugabe but also to elect a new leader if it becomes necessary.
Under normal circumstances it is the ordinary session of the Zanu PF
congress that is empowered to elect new party leaders including the first
secretary and president who becomes the automatic presidential candidate in
any general election falling within his term of office as party leader.
There would be no need for an extraordinary congress between
congresses to endorse the party leader as presidential candidate unless the
incumbent loses the support or confidence of party members as may be
indicated by a majority of provinces or the central committee who would
proceed to request for an extraordinary congress.
Calling for an extraordinary congress to confirm Mugabe as the ruling
party’s presidential candidate clearly means he has lost both the support
and confidence of party members and a congress has to make a new
determination on Mugabe’s leadership and candidature.
Contrary to public claims by Zanu PF spokesmen, the December
extraordinary congress has the power not just to endorse President Mugabe,
but also to reject him.
By listing the confirmation of Mugabe’s candidature as the main agenda
of the extraordinary congress the party is inadvertently opening Mugabe’s
position for contest.
The question to answer is what will happen in the event that congress
delegates refuse to endorse Mugabe as the ruling party’s presidential
Will Zanu PF delegates pack their bags and leave the congress without
a presidential candidate just because "electing a new leader is not part of
the agenda" even when the same delegates also constitute the ordinary
congress with the powers to elect new party leaders?
Mugabe is alive to this reality which poses a catastrophic threat to
his future at the helm of the fractious ruling party no wonder his desperate
decision to resort to the expelled but energetic Sibanda and his convenient
constituency of gullible war veterans to intimidate and terrorise dissenting
party members and whip them into line before the crucial December congress.
The shenanigans by Sibanda, his deputy Joseph Chinotimba and the
ex-combatants should be understood in this context.
What started as an opportunity to show public contrition by an
expelled but ambitious member of the party has ostensibly become a national
project involving the highest offices in both Zanu PF and government.
Zanu PF national commissar Elliot Manyika last weekend annnounced that
the "million men march" originally mooted by Sibanda and scheduled for
October 30 was now being organised "under the guardianship of the party and
the office of President Mugabe".
The war veterans chairman has previously warned that "any party member
who does not support this revolution will be considered a sell-out". Ealier
on, Sibanda even had the temerity to accuse senior Zanu PF leaders in
Matabeleland who did not attend the solidarity march in Bulawayo of being
"against President Mugabe".
It is not a coincidence that after the targeted threats by Sibanda
senior Zanu PF leaders and party structures are falling over each in trying
to publicly demonstrate their support of President Mugabe to the extent of
hijacking Sibanda’s "million men march" ahead of the extraordinary congress.
The stakes are high for President Mugabe and those who have worked
with the Zanu PF leader are aware of the near-fatal concequences of "selling
out" in such critical situations.
Mugabe’s whims will eventually prevail come December largely because
he is surrounded by spineless cowards who are already singing for their
supper following the on-going threats by pro-Mugabe ex-combatants.
But if Zanu PF is truly democratic and Mugabe wants to test his
popularity at the extraordinary congress in December the party should allow
all the 4 000 delegates to endorse him through a secret ballot asking them
to vote YES if they support his candidature and NO if they oppose his
After the final vote count Mugabe will be lucky to pull more than five
votes out of the 4 000. The same people who opposed his candidature at the
party’s annual people’s conference in Goromonzi last December will be in
Harare this December to repeat the feat.
Zanu PF members who are marching against their conscience in support
of Mugabe’s candidature today are doing it out of fear of the dire
concequences of publicly opposing the vindictive octogenarian.
We know that the chief organiser of the pro-Mugabe marches —
Sibanda -— does not support Mugabe from the bottom of his heart.
Mugabe belongs to the old guard of unpopular and failed Zanu PF
politicians that Sibanda was eager to replace with the Emmerson Mnangagwa
led faction as proved by his alligience to the Tsholotsho declaration which
resulted in his expulsion from the ruling party in 2004.
Taking his cue from his ally and confidante, Jonathan Moyo — who was
rewarded with a cabinet post in 2000 for defending Mugabe when the whole
party had abandoned him — Sibanda realises that as things stand Mugabe is in
a lonely corner and desperately needs energetic, charismatic but shameless
commissars to fight from his camp.
Jacob Rukweza is a sub-editor on the Zimbabwe Independent.
By Phillip Pasirayi
AT a time when we expect fair-minded people to cringe at the levels of
hopelessness, poverty and deprivation in Zimbabwe authored by the Zanu PF
government, we still hear people who continue to declare that President
Robert Mugabe must be a life president.
Some of the people who make these remarks, like Oppah Muchinguri, the
Zanu PF secretary for Women’s Affairs, look respectable at least until they
open their mouth.
The levels of desperation and discordance in government and Zanu PF
have reached fever-pitch levels as exemplified by groups declaring President
Mugabe as the Zanu PF candidate for elections scheduled for March next year.
What this means is that the centre can no longer hold and even those
groups and senior politicians declaring Mugabe the candidate are not even
confident and do not believe that they are doing the correct thing.
They know that beyond the rallies which masses are forced to attend,
particularly women and young children, Mugabe’s support is at its lowest ebb
in post-Independence Zimbabwe.
The question that many people ask today is why groups and individuals
are falling over each other to endorse Mugabe’s candidature in newsrooms, in
the streets and at rallies and not waiting for the proper procedure at the
party’s annual congress.
It is clear that Mugabe had lost the plot to factions within his party
who are in touch with reality and want change of leadership. There is ample
evidence that there exists a group in Zanu PF that is opposed to Mugabe’s
grand plan to be life president.
This group thinks that although Zanu PF’s policies have led to the
collapse of the country’s economy, the party can still be rehabilitated
through change of leadership and injection of new blood.
So far Mugabe has shown that he is capable of dealing with any form of
dissent within Zanu PF because of the many channels through which his system
of patronage continues to feed and thrive.
Today Mugabe’s government is surviving on patronage leading to the
many feuds between various camps that try to outwit each other and curry
favour with the president. Mugabe has been shrewd in playing the various
camps against each other rather than against him.
This astuteness is exemplified in having many people directly report
to the president and not through the various heads of government
For instance the director of the Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO) Happypton Bonyongwe reports directly to the president, the
Vice-Chancellor of the University of Zimbabwe, Levi Nyagura reports directly
to the president, the governor of the central bank, Gideon Gono reports
directly to the president, police chief Augustine Chihuri reports directly
to the president and the list goes on.
The system of governance is weak and open to manipulation by the Head
of State for his selfish interests. In this system, a Minister of Finance
may be less influential than say a governor of the central bank.
For instance, the Minister of Finance may not even know when and how
decisions to change the country’s currency are taken because the central
bank governor would have discussed it with the president. So apart from the
much talked about Emmerson Mnangagwa and Joice Mujuru camps, I posit that
there are various camps in Zanu PF which all seek to win Mugabe’s attention
for appointment to key government posts.
It is true that the people who have spoken the loudest and declared
Mugabe the candidate arguing that he still has got "unfinished business"
that he must be allowed to finish are doing so not for the good of the
country but for selfish agendas.
These people know too well that a Mugabe win in next year’s election
spells disaster for the country and its people. The current levels of
foreign currency shortages and the scarcity of electricity, fuel and food
will worsen if Mugabe is declared the winner of next year’s elections.
Apart from looting what is left of the national coffers, the regime in
Harare has run out of ideas about how to fix the economy and provide food to
the starving masses.
But the question that we ought to ask ourselves as Zimbabweans is why
Mugabe who has been in power since we attained independence from Britain in
1980 still wants us to give him another chance to ruin our lives?
What does he want to achieve in the next five years, especially with
all odds working against him, chief among these being the increasing
disapproval of his rule at home and an "unfriendly" international community?
These questions are mind-boggling but can only be understood by
tracking Mugabe’s trail of human rights abuses since 1982 such as torture,
murder and disappearances for which he will certainly be prosecuted if he
leaves office today.
Last week, Professor Jonathan Moyo noted that, "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
by definition very dangerous to society."
Long and overdue incumbency is inimical to democratic practice. Mugabe’s
continued stay in power is an endorsement of the human rights abuses his
regime has been instigating against civil society and opposition. Mugabe’s
re-election means that those who used to have one meal per day will have
none and those who used to have electricity three days per week will have it
once a week.
The people of Zimbabwe must refuse to be duped into voting for Mugabe
whose policies have ruined lives of young children and those that are yet to
Even if a new government comes into power, the process of rebuilding
our public institutions and to restore confidence in them is going to take
time and a lot of resources. The people must refuse to be held to ransom by
a bunch of people who are enjoying whilst the majority of people are
The people who support Mugabe as the Zanu PF candidate next year want
to be rewarded with cabinet posts or retained in their current positions and
not for the good of the country.
These people include Oppah Muchinguri and Saviour Kasukuwere who will
obviously have no meaningful roles to play in the post-Mugabe era because
they have survived through bootlicking the president.
Phillip Pasirayi is a Hubert Humphrey scholar at the University of
North Carolina, USA.
GOVERNMENT has gazetted the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill which
seeks to redistribute the country’s mineral wealth. This is a piece of
legislation which follows hard on the heels of the Indigenisation and
Empowerment Bill which went through parliament almost three month ago.
President Mugabe is yet to sign the Bill into law and there is
speculation that the legislation could be reintroduced in another form. A
reformist alternative proffered by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono in his
mid-term monetary policy statement in September raised hopes that the Bill
might not become law.
The introduction of the Mines and Minerals Bill however could be a
sure sign that government is going ahead with its not-so-well thought-out
indigenisation plan. The two laws are inseparable.
Of significance this week however was the spin that the government is
now vending regarding the implementation of the Mines Bill. Mines minister
Amos Midzi said government was not proposing to give away mines for free but
that beneficiaries should demonstrate an ability to raise capital to acquire
stakes in mines. He also said government would repossess claims being held
for speculative purposes.
"Those who do not use their claims will simply lose them," said Midzi.
"The principle will be applied without fear or favour."
Two key issues arise from this explanation by Midzi. Firstly, the
government is keen to allay fears that this will be another free for all
crafted on the template of the fast track land reform. The worry which
gripped the industry is understandable because of careless statements by
senior government officials when advertising the impending tabling of the
Bill last year. Ministers — in a threatening manner — said after the farms,
government was angling for the mines. The effects of the destruction of
commercial agriculture after the fast track land reform programme are still
Secondly, the minister tried to sound reassuring by saying that
unproductive claims would be repossessed and given to those with resources
and knowledge to exploit them productively.
These are promises which we have heard before. When the land reform
started, government promised that no farmer would be left landless. It said
the land would be given to those with the resources to utilise it.
Lately there has been talk that land lying fallow — which is the state
of the majority of resettled farms — would be repossessed and given to
deserving farmers. The government has also talked of a one farmer on farm
policy — another fallacy. All these promises have been broken with impunity
to the extent of enacting legislation to legitimise the departure from
original policy guidelines.
The failure of the land reform programme — manifesting itself in food
shortages and very low production of primary goods — is going to be the bane
of any future government plan to indigenise the economy. It would be naïve
to believe Midzi’s assurance that there will be order in the quest to
increase local ownership in the mining sector. Verbal assurances are not a
sufficient guarantee that productivity in the sector can be enhanced through
the transfer of assets to black owners.
There has been failure by black businessmen to raise the requisite
capital for them to participate in empowerment facilities; a notable one
being the 15% stake reserved for black players in Zimplats.
Problems are set to arise if indigenous people cannot raise capital to
participate meaningfully in the mining sector. Government on the other hand
will not allow a situation where it finds itself stuck with redundant
empowerment legislation because would-be beneficiaries do not have the
History has shown that the Zanu PF government, when faced with such a
scenario, starts to cut corners. In the case of agriculture, the judiciary
was suborned, laws protecting property rights were trashed, compensation for
loss of assets became subservient to the need to transfer assets to black
There is nothing at the moment to dispel fears that this will not
happen in mining, which requires much larger investments — huge chunks of it
in foreign currency. The land reform programme was a very poor advert of
government’s indigenisation plan. The government now finds it very difficult
to build trust between itself and business.
All plans in that realm will be judged against the soiled stencil in
farming. The success of the indigenisation thrust in industry, commerce and
mining will be determined by government’s ability to pick itself up and lead
a revival in agriculture.
THERE was a conference in Berlin, Germany recently to discuss current
relations between Africa and the European Union (EU) in the run-up to the
EU-Africa summit in Lisbon, Portugal next month.
The conference was attended by European and African bureaucrats,
former ministers and MPs, opposition party leaders, academics, diplomats and
journalists. I was one of the participants. The conference was organised by
the Frederick Naumann Foundation in partnership with the German Institute
for International and Security Affairs.
At the 1884 Berlin Conference, European powers divided Africa among
themselves and accelerated colonialism which was to define the unequal
relations between the two continents for hundreds of years to come.
During the Scramble for Africa, European states staked claims to
virtually the entire continent at several meetings held in Berlin, London,
Paris and other Western capitals.
In partitioning the continent without much knowledge of its history,
Europeans destroyed African monarchies, kingdoms, chiefdoms and culture.
Nearly half of the new frontiers imposed on Africa were geometric lines —
lines of latitude and longitude which left chaotic contours and thousands of
cultural groups fractured.
Against this background, the conference held in Berlin early this
month debated how to redefine relations between Europe and Africa for mutual
Under the main topic, From Object to Subject: Sub-Saharan Africa and
Europe’s Relations, participants discussed how to transform relations
between the continents now interlinked by history, geography, language,
culture, trade, and transport and communication routes to ensure shared
It was clear at the conference Europe wants to restore its grip on
Africa to regain access to its natural riches, including precious minerals
and energy resources, particularly in view of Chinese and American
encroachment onto the continent. China’s advance into Africa was mentioned
by many participants. The US was also mentioned as a force moving onto
Africa, with special reference to its newly established Africa Command
Just like Europe, the US and China are not strangers to Africa. The US
was entangled in Cold War proxy conflicts and diplomacy all over the
continent, while China was involved largely in supporting the African
However, it now appears that three powers, the EU as a bloc, the US
and China are involved in a new scramble for Africa for resources,
Now we have the EU-Africa summit; the US-Africa Business summit and
Sino-Africa summit — all clearly designed to secure spheres of influence for
the major powers.
The US imports a lot of oil from Nigeria, while China gets significant
supplies from Sudan. South Africa, Angola, DRC and Zimbabwe have a lot of
minerals and are thus strategically and geopolitically important to the EU,
US and China. Other swathes of Africa are also full of natural resources
that are a major source of attraction to global powers.
At the recent Berlin meeting there was a general consensus among
African participants that faced with such a demand for its resources, Africa
must reposition itself and leverage its resources to get what it needs from
It was pointed out Africa mainly needs investment, technology, access
to markets, favourable terms of trade, modern infrastructure and value
addition in production to move forward. Africa also needs peace and
security, it was said. This could be achieved by limiting the sale of arms
by the EU and other countries to Africa, as well as strengthening
state-building projects to reinforce state structures and institutions.
Participants said Africa has to bargain using its comparative
advantages to get fair value for its resources because Europe does not
hesitate to use its own advantages to secure its interests. Most
participants said that aid and debt relief to Africa were not the answer to
questions of underdevelopment, poverty and disease. Improved production,
trade and economic growth are necessary to get the continent out of the
There was also a reference to former British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s
Commission for Africa. The Blair Commission for Africa was established to
provide impetus for development in Africa. Its objectives include the
generation of new ideas for development and to deliver implementation of
existing commitments to Africa.
The commission released a report in 2005 which was used by G8 leaders
at their Gleneagles summit in Scotland pledging to double aid and make
significant extensions of mulitateral debt relief. But the summit failed to
deliver on what the commission had demanded on trade — including an end to
agricultural export subsidies by rich nations.
The summit did, however, promise to implement 50 of the commission’s
90 less high-profile recommendations including: training 20 000 more African
peacekeepers; tightening controls on the trade in small arms; working more
closely with the African Union and its New Partnership for Africa’s
Development; urge rich nations to ratify the UN Convention on Corruption;
put in place measures to return cash looted by dictators from Western banks
to the legitimate owners; and using export credits to clamp down on Western
companies who pay bribes.
These issues came up for intense debate at the recent Berlin
conference and it was agreed the forthcoming EU-Africa summit must go beyond
promises and be action-oriented.
LAST week I met new US ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee, a day after
he presented his credentials to President Mugabe.
The answers he gave to questions at the press briefing showed that his
coming to Harare was not going to usher in a new epoch in the US/Zimbabwe
He said he was here to implement US policy and not necessarily to make
any personal changes. That means speaking out on issues of human rights and
the growing democratic deficit in Zimbabwe.
I asked him how he was going to react to government’s expectation that
he should behave differently because he was a black. He was taken aback.
"Why? What does colour have to do with this?"
He said he was first and foremost a US citizen and his mandate was to
implement his government’s policy as a diplomat and not as a black, white or
That is easier said than done. The government is expecting him to
behave differently from his predecessor, Christopher Dell, whose sharp
criticism of President Mugabe made him an unwanted diplomat in Harare.
McGee said he was not here to "poke his finger into the eye of
government all the time" but also that he would not be coy about speaking
against the violation of human rights in the country. This is the ideal
expected of any diplomat.
But there is no doubt that there will be more than just one
yardstick — that he is an American diplomat — to measure McGee.
He is going to be viewed through the jaundiced eyes of a regime that
believes that black brothers must stand together to fight the white
colonialists. He is going to be labelled an Uncle Tom, a traitor or
something worse for simply doing his job of representing his government.
Former US Secretary of State Colin Powell was often labelled a sellout
for accepting to serve under the Bush administration. The most pointed
attack on the former Chief of Staff came in October 2002 when Blues singer
Harry Belafonte took to shortwave radio to slam Powell.
Belafonte said Powell was like a plantation slave who moves into the
slave owner’s house and only says what his master wants him to say.
"There’s an old saying," Belafonte said, "In the days of slavery,
there were those slaves who lived on the plantation and were those slaves
that lived in the house. You got the privilege of living in the house if you
served the master... exactly the way the master intended to have you serve
"Colin Powell’s committed to come into the house of the master. When
Colin Powell dares to suggest something other than what the master wants to
hear, he will be turned back out to pasture."
Powell responded on CNN’s Larry King Live: "If Harry had wanted to
attack my politics that was fine. If he wanted to attack a particular
position I hold, that was fine. But to use a slave reference, I think, is
unfortunate and is a throwback to another time and another place that I wish
Harry had thought twice about using."
This was not the first time Powell had been attacked by fellow
brothers for working at the White House.
A month earlier at the Earth Summit in South Africa, he was heckled by
a coterie of anti-globalisation lobbyists and hirelings from Zimbabwe who
waved placards labelling him an Uncle Tom. One of his crimes was criticising
President Mugabe at the summit.
We got a teaser of what is on the menu for McGee on the leader page in
the Herald this week when he was crudely reminded that he is "descended from
That is not the only challenge to hand for the new diplomat. Mugabe
last Thursday at State House said he wanted to work with the diplomat to
improve bilateral relations between Zimbabwe and the US.
There is still a flicker in Mugabe’s mind that Zimbabwe can build
bridges with the West but he believes this is only possible when targeted
sanctions against him and his lieutenants are lifted.
On the other hand, McGee wants to work "with like-minded members of
the international community to increase this pressure" on Mugabe. In fact
McGee has said Zimbabwe has to meet certain conditionalities of
democratisation before sanctions are lifted.
Both parties have dug in into their entrenched positions. There is a
diplomatic logjam here. Noone wants to take the first step.
The government expects McGee to start mending fences because he is a
brother. He should not be another Powell or Condoleezza Rice.
Mr Ambassador, our rulers here believe a black brother should be blind
to acts of misrule, corruption and repression. We wait to see another
diplomatic drama unfold.
BISHOP Nolbert Kunonga was in Kampala, Uganda last week to defend
President Mugabe’s policies at the start of the Commonwealth Heads of
He made two startling claims for any bishop. First, he said the West
should stop demonising Mugabe as he was democratically-elected. This is an
extraordinary claim given that Mugabe’s election in the 2002 presidential
polls is still the subject of court challenge amid claims by the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change that he rigged his way back to State House.
The other claim was even more scandalous. "There are no human rights
abuses in Zimbabwe at all," declared Kunonga. "There are problems which
every African country faces, but these problems are being exaggerated by the
West led by Britain," he said.
Is it the considered position of the Anglican Church that there are no
human rights abuses at all in Zimbabwe? Are those the views of his
congregants who dare support opposition parties against Zanu PF’s hegemony?
We must indeed get worried when churchmen use their positions of
authority to mislead the world about what happens under their nose. We also
must ask questions about who paid for Kunonga’s trip and what his real
mission was. Is the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe prepared to prostitute its
religious integrity in the service of dubious political ends?
Zambian Airways has decided to stop daily flights between Lusaka and
Harare from December 1. The airline cited "rough business" as a major
constraint to viability.
In particular the airline cited high fuel costs and extreme currency
fluctuations in Zimbabwe as a key negative factor.
This is bad news for Zimbabwe, coming so soon after the withdrawal of
British Airways this month.
Contrary to official claims about African solidarity, it does appear
like Zimbabwe’s circle of friends is getting smaller by the day, that is if
the jaunt to Mozambique this week for the handover of Cahora Bassa is an
expression of solidarity.
Meanwhile Namibia’s Health minister Richard Kamwi said Sadc fully
supported Zimbabwe and called for the immediate lifting of Western
Speaking at the launch of the Sadc Malaria Week in Victoria Falls, he
said: "Sadc has resolved that I affirm that we stand by Zimbabwe. I affirm
that we continue to stand by Zimbabwe and value the immense contribution of
this blessed land to the southern African region in particular and to the
rest of the African continent in general."
Indeed Zimbabwe has made an immense contribution to the region by
training health staff who now man hospitals in the region including in
Namibia. Poaching staff from poor Zimbabwe is the cheapest way for regional
countries to develop their health sectors. It is shameful that this is all
Zimbabwe can hope for at the moment — a pat on the back when its own
hospitals do not have personnel and drugs.
President Robert Mugabe was on hand to boast about how Zimbabwe has
managed to reduce the Aids prevalence rate from 18,1% to around 13%.
He didn’t explain fully how this had been achieved although claims
abound that this may be due to people leaving the country or death. He did
not also reveal the contribution of American money in the form of USAid in
providing cheap condoms and running campaigns.
In his latest diatribe against European civilisation in the Sunday
Mail, Media and Information Commission chair Tafataona Mahoso says Africans
have failed to fully study and understand Europe.
He says a majority of Africans have brought from Europe foreign
currency without any critical understanding of the continent from the point
of view of Africa’s strategic interests.
"Africans have brought back from Europe white husbands or white wives,
still without much critical understanding of Europe and white ‘civilisation’
to serve and protect African strategic interests," he says. Perhaps Bright
Matonga might care to comment, or someone closer to the professor.
Power outages a result of wet spell," announced the Herald on its Page
4 on Tuesday.
Zesa Holdings spokesperson Fullard Gwasira said of the power outages
in the city centre: "We would like to apologise to our valued customers for
the loss of electricity service in the central business district of Harare
due to multiple cable faults, which occurred at the City Intake and Harare
The power utility would like to advise its valued customers that
generally, due to the advent of the rainy season, there is likely to be a
significant increase in rainfall-induced electricity faults due to
water-logging and trees falling on or interfering with powerlines."
This must take the trophy as one of the most brainless excuses of any
utility, especially given that a majority of the people who are expected to
believe this facile baloney have sometimes gone for months on end without
electricity in their homes without any explanation.
It’s also a primary case for the police who we hear are arresting
people for peddling falsehoods. So what should we expect now that the rains
appear to have begun in earnest? A return to the Dark Ages!
Are there no Geneva conventions governing the treatment of new
diplomats in their host nations?
We ask this question in the light of the way the new United States
ambassador to Zimbabwe James McGee has been abused in the state media
without being given the right of reply. He has been called slave, house
nigger, black and many other demeaning epithets, all for simply being sent
to represent the American government in Zimbabwe. We find this not only
insulting but also disrespectful of President Mugabe the state media is
pretending to support.
First of all, the fact that the American government is sending a new
ambassador to Zimbabwe ordinarily should show they acknowledge the
"legitimacy" of the government although they may differ on what qualifies as
a "democratically-elected" president. Otherwise why send an envoy here if
they didn’t recognise the regime in Harare?
Secondly, President Mugabe received McGee as the American ambassador
and was duly accredited together with the Australian ambassador. So why
after this should it be the duty of overzealous acolytes to abuse accredited
diplomats simply because once there was one Christopher Dell whom they didn’t
Caesar Zvayi, writing in the Herald on Tuesday, went further than the
rest in that hopeless journalistic stable, weaving from childish bullying to
infantile advice about how McGee should execute his diplomatic duties. To
him even plain humanitarian assistance has become a perpetuation of
Is that the attitude of the 40 000 poor urban and rural folk receiving
ARVs we wonder? What would fat Zvayi rather have them get and from whom?
And the silly patronising epithet: "After all you are black like me."
Is that meant to be a compliment? Meaning what? That blacks can’t feed or
take care of their sick!
What a brew of Zimbabwean hospitality?
Zimbabwe was last week named among the top four "must visit"
destinations along Egypt, Kenya and South Africa, the Herald reported on
Wednesday. This showed that a "spirited four-year marketing strategy by the
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority" was beginning to bring "significant returns to
the country", we were told.
The source of this starry-eyed wonder was ZTA area manager for China,
one Taka Munyanyiwa, who said the nation should brace itself for a surge in
"The latest ratings have put us among the top four African
destinations now viewed by the Chinese as a must," said Munyanyiwa.
"I am only worried about our capacity to handle these arrivals because
it is indeed going to be an upsurge," he said.
Let’s wait for this deluge from the East and see if this is going to
be reflected in foreign currency inflows. And the big irony, it’s all to do
with Karikoga Kaseke and not President Mugabe’s "Look East" policy? What
Talking of hospitality, the chairman of the Japanese Association of
Travel Agents, Toru Furusawu reportedly told journalists in Victoria Falls
last week that Zimbabwe was a safe tourist destination despite negative
Western media reports. Furusawu is trying to promote Zimbabwe as a safe
destination ahead of the 2010 soccer World Cup.
"Zimbabwe is a safe tourist destination although the media depict it
as an unsafe country," he said. "The hotels are beautiful and it’s not as
portrayed in the media."
There you have it. If you want to prove that there is no political
violence in Zimbabwe and that no one is starving you simply get into the
nearest hotel and make your assessment from the balcony. It’s fairly
revealing what pacifism can do to a nation.
Still on the Japanese, one of their key brands has been adopted by
Zanu PF. Last weekend party supporters and war veterans demonstrating in
support of President Mugabe in Mashonaland West carried posters inscribed
MADZA on them. Horror, shock?
Has the Japanese motor company been roped into the marches? No. It’s
just a new acronym for a Zanu PF punch line: Mugabe Achatonga Zimbabwe
Dakara Afa (Mugabe will rule Zimbabwe till death).
This is not the sort of publicity that Mazda, which has just launched
a new bakkie here, wants to be associated with. Look out for more MAZDA
posters during the million men march today.
Uganda’s president Yoweri Museveni was moved into a royal rage this
week when asked by British premier Gordon Brown to "intervene in the
Zimbabwean crisis", reports the Herald.
That could not be done, countered Museveni, because President Mugabe
"is a revolutionary who fought to emancipate his people. When you are
talking to a revolutionary you listen to his points rather than give him
We all know how Museveni came to power in Uganda; we know how he deals
with opposition politicians in his country.
There is a cliché that birds of a feather flock together. It makes
perfect sense that he understands so well a fellow wayfarer.
Eric Bloch Column
NEVER-ENDINGLY, government demonstrates that it has a death wish, not
only for itself, but for the Zimbabwean economy and the Zimbabwean people as
well. It ceaselessly pursues policies which can yield naught but total
That government will be the indisputable catalyst of a Zimbabwe
apocalypse clearly accords it no concern, for it has so resolutely convinced
itself of its omnipotence and infallibility that it cannot even momentarily
contemplate that any of its policies could be counterproductive and
Concurrently, having been a pronouncedly battered victim of extreme,
biggoted racial discrimination in the pre-Independence era, its deep-seated
bitterness, entrenched determination for revenge, and pursuit of
self-conviction that it has overcome the evil racial oppressions and now
reigns supreme, myopically blinds it to the devastatingly disastrous
consequences of its policies.
In part, these policies are centred upon an endless castigation of
those countries which were the so-called "oppressive, murderous, racist"
colonialists of days gone by, Britain being in the forefront of the
recipients of ongoing Zimbabwean governmental vitriol. In addition, any
possessed of wealth in Zimbabwe are automatically castigated for that
wealth, provided that they are not indigenous Zimbabweans, or that they are
non-resident investors in Zimbabwe and, in particular, are residents of
previously colonialist countries, or of countries with blatantly more virile
and successful economies than that which the government of Zimbabwe has so
blatantly decimated. Not only are they recurrently attacked and abused for
having attained that Zimbabwean wealth, but they are constantly berated for
alleged accumulation of that wealth by stealth of Zimbabwean resources,
oppression of Zimbabwean people, and diverse, equally diabolical alleged,
but unfounded, allegations of grievous misdeeds.
In particular, Zimbabwe’s government seeks to right those supposed
injustices by depriving the recipients of the wealth that they have
accumulated, substituting therefore government’s constantly spewed-forth
hatred. Wheresoever possible, those who constitute the government, or are
relatives, friends, or others well-connected, seek that that wealth
deprivation should be achieved by transferral of the wealth to themselves.
The first drive at these policies was the pursuit of land reform. None
can credibly contest that in the pre-Independence era land ownership was
governed by horrendously unjust discrimination policies, which precluded
land ownership by black Zimbabweans.
The ruling party, and the government constituted by it, continuously
claimed that the land had been "stolen" from their ancestors. That some of
the land had been sold by King Lobengula, and that most of the remainder of
the land was wholly unoccupied and unutilised, was completely, and
So too was the fact that much of that land which was in use had been
stolen by the then "indigenous" blacks who came from both north and south of
Zimbabwe’s borders, from the San people, who were driven out of the country,
into Botswana, by them.
Also ignored was that much of the land had been purchased in the post
Independence era by whites who had been recipients of governmental
"Certificates of No Interest", whereby government consented to the sales to
those whites, declaring no interest on its part to acquire that land. With
equally contemptuous disregard, government cavalierly breached may bilateral
investment protection agreements, entered into between it and the countries
that it now viciously condemns.
Dismissing all these factors, government continuously claimed, and
still claims, that all the land had been stolen, had to be returned to the
"rightful" owners, and pursued implementation of that policy without any
consideration whatsoever for actual property rights, for justice and equity,
and in a way that destroyed the foundation of the Zimbabwean economy.
The economy’s base was agriculture, which fed the nation, the region,
provided vast employment, generated considerable foreign exchange, made
major fiscal contributions, and much more.
Now the economy is derelict, the nation is starving, and Zimbabwe’s
disregard for property and human rights, and for the fundamentals of law,
have rendered it an international pariah.
That did not suffice to satisfy government’s arrogant, masochistic and
rapacious pursuit of nation annihilation. For years it spoke of introducing
legislation to achieve "indigenisation and economic empowerment", and
finally determined to convert its enunciations into action.
But the legislation that has been enacted by parliament does not seek
to achieve economic development, and create a facilitation mechanism for
increased participation of the people in economic development.
Instead, it seeks to apply the Robin Hood approach of taking from the
rich, to give to the poor, so that the poor become temporarily rich, and the
rich become permanently poor, save and except when given to the favoured
rich, to make them richer. In doing so, government has frightened away
almost all investment, from foreign and domestic investors alike, has
deterred almost al development and expansion of existing enterprises, and
gravely destroyed morale and confidence throughout the Zimbabwean business
community, and emaciated the economy further.
Still government is dissatisfied. It is so masochistically intent upon
self-destruction, concurrently with the destruction of Zimbabwe, its economy
and its people, albeit that that is not an acknowledged objective, and the
economy has been so resilient that, although tragically afflicted, it has
not wholly collapsed, that government unrelentingly continues with its
catastrophic pursuit of the annihilation of property rights.
It has now published a bill, to be enacted by the legislatures,
obligating all mining enterprises to "gift" one-quarter of their equity to
government. Not only are the mining investors being bludgeoned into donating
that substantial portion of equity whilst still also confronted with the
provisions of the indigenisation empowerment legislation, but they are being
obliged to do so in favour of the most undesirable partner possible, being
government, instead of being accorded opportunities to select their
equity-holding partners. This measure will undoubtedly be a final nail in
the coffin for the motivation of investment in Zimbabwe by private sector
investors, be they domestic or foreign.
Government has once again shot itself in the foot, and concurrently
has shot Zimbabwe and its economy, and therefore its people, in the heart!
Sibanda, have you no shame?
THE so-called million men march by some genuine war veterans and some
dubious characters scheduled for today will never help us address problems
bedeviling the country.
Jabulani Sibanda and Joseph Chinotimba are funny fellows who are
force-marching some dubious war vets for personal rewards from Mugabe.
Marching, crawling, singing or toyi-toying 27 years after independence
demonstrates lack of focus and the need for
rehabilitation on the part of Sibanda and Chinotimba.
It is really painful to see genuine former fighters and civilians
being commanded into the streets by Sibanda and Chinotimba, a character
whose liberation war credentials are still questionable.
Sibanda is one man who suffered heavily in the hands of Robet Mugabe.
Remember that there was nothing called "Unity Accord" of 1987. Whoever
assists Mugabe to hold onto power in 2008 is irresponsible and does not know
what is needed at this point in time.
Any normal person with Zimbabwe at heart should abandon the idea of
useless marches meant to propel Sibanda and Chinotimba to the top. By the
way, can the two make known their liberation war credentials?
I also doubt a million people will turn out today. It is too huge a
The two former comrades are wasting our time and resources. Sibanda,
have you no shame?
Let's regulate ourselves
LET me thank you for the response you gave in last week’s Independent
edition to the article I wrote in the Sunday Mail. I value the discussion
and debate the article has aroused.
My desire was to get the church community to take an introspective
look at what is going on within our circles.
In no way am I advocating for the "Talibanisation" of the church in
Zimbabwe, neither am I asking for government to come in and regulate us. I
am asking us to regulate ourselves, because my fear is that if we don’t, we
may face regulation from outside in the future.
I know that issues of faith are very subjective, but I do believe that
there are universal standards that we can all agree to adhere to.
The right to worship or freedom of religion in my humble estimation
should not be a licence for me to take advantage of innocent people who come
to the church in need of help.
Too much is going on under the guise that it is the "Lord’s work"
which is spiritual and therefore should be left alone. I find that difficult
to accept especially with some of the behaviour and experiences we are
This is where I am coming from, and like I said, thanks for your
valued opinion, it adds value to an important discussion and for that I am
Bishop Trevor Manhanga,
MDC must swallow pride
THE sqabbles that have recently emerged in the MDC are a cause of
extreme concern to the Kwekwe community and the leadership should suspend
any motives, corrective or otherwise, that will promote the degeneration of
the situation to irreversable proportions.
The leadership should adopt a totally inclusive attitude in their camp
to insulate their membership from forces eager to cause total collapse of
The party should avoid the temptation to sideline other members,
especially at this juncture and instead concentrate on issues relevant to
the coming elections next year.
Do not expose some of your membership to opposition forces who will
polute them without delay to the detriment of your organisation. Zimbabwe
needs your committed support and the sooner you regain your collective
sanity the better it will be for the whole nation.
It is not time for machismo but time for selfless service to the
Douglas T Savanhu,
Manhanga must stop this nonsense!
I READ with great disdain the article by Trevor Manhanga on the
proliferation of churches. This article must be received with great caution
by the very public which he claims to want to protect.
There is a much greater sin than all the sins that Manhanga says the
public should be protected from. The public is in danger of falling prey to
religious monsters who thrive on clever diplomatic heresy of which I am
convinced Manhanga is one of them.
The rather clever "bishop" assumes that whoever will be the custodians
of this regulatory mechanism are religious figures whose interests are
genuine. It is amazing that Manhanga has risen through the religious ranks
without any mechanisms checking the purity of his objectives and now he
wants to assess the purity of other people’s objectives.
His comparison of Christianity and medicine or law reveals his
religious bigotry. Christianity is not competing with these other
institutions of the secular world. Jesus was not accredited by any Bible
school neither were the 12 apostles or the chief apostle Paul, so where does
Manhanga borrow his doctrine on servants of God being accredited at some
theological institution before they can serve the purpose of God?
Manhanga claims that the purpose of this monitoring mechanism is to
bring order and accountability in religion. Whose order? Accountability to
whom? Why does Manhanga suddenly see problems in a system that has seen him
rise to the apex of religious leadership?
I am very suspicious of characters of the likes of Manhanga, it seems
now that he has found himself in a position of probable influence (heads of
all Christian denominations) he has further discovered that most of these
churches are not in any way compelled to listen to him or recognise his
authority so he wants to create mechanisms that would otherwise legitimise
his authority and influence in the affairs of other people’s lives and
church doctrines in the name of protecting the public.
He must remember that the public is well protected by God and the laws
of the country. Any rapist or charlatan must be handed over to the law for
prosecution, there is no need to create a body where Manhanga or any
religious persons of like mind will establish and monitor such systems in
the name of protecting the public.
Manhanga seems to be driven by selfish interests and the public must
be wary of such "shepherds". Am I protecting lawless religious heretics? No!
As I have already highlighted the laws of the country are designed by
legislators to protect the public and where an individual has taken
advantage of the public such an issue must be reported to the appropriate
law enforcers who will take appropriate action.
Is Manhanga claiming that the law is not sufficient in dealing with
religious charlatans? Does not the Bible deal sufficiently with issues of
the nature of which Manhanga is proposing? Is the Bible not sufficient as a
Any God-fearing individual must fear to be a part of this body lest it
degenerates into a body that judges men and yields condemnation for itself
before God and for its victims. The creation of such a mechanism further
gives persons like Manhanga undue influence over other person’s relationship
with God and this is the worst interference that a person can be subjected
If men like Admire Kasi stand guilty in the eyes of God then it is
without doubt that the same God will deal with them. Manhanga claims to be
protecting the image of the church. The church and its Christ have never
depended on a good image for its effectiveness in soul-winning. God has
demonstrated throughout the ages his indisputable power by using Christ and
the church effectively even in times when either was rocked in controversy.
Now Manhanga the religious spin doctor has come up with a strategy to
rid the church of "unnecessary controversy" in order to make it effective?
The church has been there long before Manhanga and will be there long after
The public must be careful of such men who speak with the form of
godliness but are without God’s authority. I encourage Manhanga to seek God’s
Spare us Zesa
THE current power cuts gripping the country are unhealthy and
Appliances worth trillions of dollars such as TVs, decorders, fridges
and hi-fis have been damaged thanks to Zesa.
Zesa and its subsidiaries have totally failed the nation. Instead of
sticking to prescribed load-shedding periods, there is haphazad
load-shedding. What precedent are they setting.
Of late, parts of Harare/Chitungwiza have received only 30 minutes to
one hour in terms of power availability to per day.
Ironically, other areas have 12 hours per day in terms of power. Such
an arrangement is pathetic to say the least.
The Zesa board of directors and responsible minister must resign
immediately in the interest of the nation. They would be a liability to the
electorate in the future. Government is encouraged to put proper
load-shedding and stick to the times.
Lincoln's wise words
THE other day I came across these wise words from Abraham Lincoln and
I would like to share them with the nation.
"You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong.
You cannot help small men by tearing down big men.
You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich.
You cannot help the wage earner by pulling down the wage payers.
You cannot keep out of trouble by spending more than your income.
You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatreds.
You cannot establish security on borrowed money.
You cannot build character and courage by taking away a man’s
initiative and independence.
You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and
should do for themselves."
Very pertinent to our situation I think!