UNITED Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan has slammed President Robert
Mugabe over the government's rejection of international aid as millions of
people grapple with the twin scourges of starvation and homelessness
following the demolition of slums last May.
In what diplomatic sources in Harare described as a no-holds-barred
statement, Annan said he was gravely concerned by the humanitarian situation
in Zimbabwe as it emerged that thousands of people still slept in the open
and in urgent need of aid, five months after the beginning of the government's
controversial Operation Murambatsvina clean-up exercise.
"The United Nations continues to receive reports that tens of thousands of
people are still homeless and in need of assistance, months after the
eviction campaign began in May 2005," Annan's spokesman Stephen Dujarric
said in a statement this week. "He (Annan) is particularly dismayed to learn
that the government of Zimbabwe's Ad-Hoc Inter-Ministerial Cabinet Committee
has rejected offers of UN assistance," said Dujarric.
In an official communication to the UN, Local Government Minister Ignatius
Chombo stated that it was the government's position that "there is no longer
a compelling need to provide temporary shelter as there is no humanitarian
Chombo also claimed that government had addressed the most urgent shelter
needs in Zimbabwe after it put into place Operation Garikai, the successor
to Operation Murambatsvina.
Dujarric said this "directly contradicted the report by the Secretary
General's Special Envoy on Human Settlement Issues in Zimbabwe, Anna
Tibaijuka, as well as most recent reports from the United Nations and the
humanitarian community in Zimbabwe."
Tibaijuka, a Tanzanian national, spent two weeks in the country on a
fact-finding mission after the government launched its controversial and
widely condemned clean-up exercise. Tibaijuka reported that at least 700 000
people were rendered homeless about six months ago after the government
demolished thousands of houses and backyard shacks in an exercise she said
was a disastrous venture carried out with indifference to human suffering.
According to Tibaijuka, another 2.4 million people were also directly
affected by the exercise, which President Mugabe said was "necessary to
restore the beauty of cities and towns."
"A large number of vulnerable groups, including the recent evictees as well
as other vulnerable populations, remain in need of immediate assistance,
including shelter. Furthermore, there is no clear evidence that the
subsequent government efforts have significantly benefited these groups,"
Annan's spokes-man added.
"The Secretary General notes the government's decision to decline assistance
comes despite extensive consultations on relief efforts that ensued in the
past months between the United Nations and the government. Meanwhile, the
impending rainy season threatens to worsen the living conditions of the
Annan is said to be disturbed by the continued suffering and appealed to the
government "to ensure that those who are out in the open, without shelter
and without means of sustaining their livelihoods, are provided with
humanitarian assistance in collaboration with the UN and the humanitarian
community in order to avert a further deterioration of the humanitarian
The scathing criticism of President Mugabe's government comes after a
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government, which toured
Hatcliffe Extension, Whitecliff, Hopley Estate, and the Jo'burg Lines in
Mbare revealed the government had failed to meet targets set for its
Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle.
A PUBLIC row erupted this week between Agriculture Minister Joseph Made and
his deputy, Sylvester Nguni, over declining output from the country's farms
since the advent of land reforms in 2000.
Made reacted angrily to Nguni's candid assessment of the state of the
agriculture sector, which has declined sharply since the government embarked
on the controversial land reforms.
Addressing a Zimbabwe Farmers' Union congress in Bulawayo last week, Nguni,
who until his appointment to the ministry in April was head of the country's
most profitable agro-industrial businesses, the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe,
said the government had made mistakes in its allocation of land, which saw
some people without "the faintest idea of farming" getting vast tracts of
"We have a few people that are really committed to production while many
others are doing nothing on the farms. The problem is that we gave land to
people lacking the passion for farming and this is why every year production
has been declining," Nguni was quoted as saying.
Zimbabwe has witnessed reversals in tobacco, maize, milk and horticultural
production, losing its erstwhile position as the sub-region's breadbasket.
Tobacco production, which peaked at 200 million kilogrammes in 1999, has
sagged to levels of around 80 million kilogrammes while dairy and
horticultural production has almost fallen by 50 percent.
Although the region has been hit by a series of droughts in recent years,
some countries such as Zambia have managed to produce surpluses to export to
Zimbabwe, reversing the previous trend.
Nguni also charged that key stakeholders in agriculture, including
government, "were not telling the truth when it came to matters afflicting
agriculture yet the truth, however unpalatable it might be, forms the basis
for moving forward."
"The truth of the matter is that the maize price is not very attractive.
Even if we did not have a drought we were still going to import as farmers
turn to more lucrative crops - and that is the truth," Nguni said. He went
on to attack the government's endless audits of the land reform programme.
Nguni's statements drew sharp and immediate criticism from Made, who charged
that the deputy minister was advancing arguments long held by "detractors"
of the land reform exercise.
In response to Nguni's suggestion that government cedes institutions such as
the degenerating Agricul-tural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) -
which, incidentally, Made used to head before his ministerial appointment -
to individuals and organisations with capacity, Made said: "The deputy
minister should come up with recommendations on how best to assist these
institutions so that farmers can get the best out of it."
Made also repeated the government's mantra that the decline in agricultural
production has been brought about by a series of droughts and "illegal
sanctions imposed by Britain and her allies."
Made, who has been accused of frequently misrepresenting the country's food
security situation and must have been stung by Nguni's charge that both the
government and industry were being economical with the truth, is believed to
have an uneasy relationship with his deputy, with whom he frequently clashed
when Nguni was still at Cottco.
The agriculture minister also attacked industry for "not moving inputs to
farmers on time" and former white commercial farmers for "vandalising
property on the farms."
Last August, the permanent secretary in the agriculture ministry, Simon
Pazvakavambwa, earned himself a reprimand after revealing that the Grain
Marketing Board - the sole grain procurement body in the country - only had
three weeks' stocks of maize left in its silos. At the time, grain imports,
which had averaged 15 000 tonnes per week fro several months, had virtually
The government has since stepped up grain imports from South Africa.
THE four founding directors of NMBZ Holdings Limited have teamed up with key
shareholder and ally Yusuf Ahmid to ward off a Nick van Hoogstraten takeover
at the bank's rights offer, The Financial Gazette can reveal.
Senior Business Reporter
Julius Makoni, James Mushore, Francis Zimuto and Otto Chekeche, initially
seen as not following their rights, "have indicated their intention to
follow their rights and will be in a position to make an irrevocable
undertaking to this end", according to correspondence seen by this paper.
The offer closed yesterday.
The four founding directors collectively own 35 percent of the bank, and
earlier reports of their family trusts not following their rights had raised
the prospect of the lead underwriter taking control.
NMBZ named Syfrets as the lead underwriter, but the institution, a
subsidiary of Financial Holdings Limited (Finhold), will apparently yield
extra shares to Ahmid, who is based in England.
"NMBZ would have a preference for a well known 'name' to head the
underwriting, and have raised the possibility of your organisation
fulfilling this role. A fee for acting as the conduit for the underwriting
would be payable and would involve no financial outlay," a letter written to
To secure all extra stock, Ahmid, a 14 percent shareholder, will take up all
unclaimed shares, the documents show. However, another source said this week
a new arrangement, designed to "make sure that all the shares are not left
in the hands of one shareholder", has subsequently been agreed.
Van Hoogstraten had made an offer to underwrite the bank's rights issue, but
NMBZ management and board, aware that the crafty British investor was
looking for the extra shares he needs to gain a majority share of the bank,
turned him down.
But van Hoogstraten has apparently been actively buying NMBZ letters of
allocations (LAs), which went up on the market on October 17, in a separate
strategy to rustle up as much stock as he could get.
NMB LAs hit an unprecedented $400 on strong bidding, up from $20 only two
weeks ago. The share price rose 98 percent to $800 yesterday..
Ahmid, through his Palisades Limited and Kurper Limited investment vehicles,
has secured the alliance of another group of shareholders, which controls a
further 6 percent.
Old Mutual, the 20 percent controlling shareholder, followed its rights.
More than 80 percent of NMBZ shareholders-including Messina-had expressed
their support ahead of the offer. Ahmid bought into NMBZ in 2003 via an
off-the-market deal that angered Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) authorities,
resulting in a two-day suspension of the counter from the bourse, lifted
after the deal was clarified to the satisfaction of the ZSE.
NMBZ is raising $64 billion for NMB Bank, its core division that returned to
profit in the third quarter.
"The rights issue route is one generally preferred by the ZSE in that it
allows all current shareholders the opportunity to participate in the
exercise to re-capitalise their bank, so as not to dilute their respective
Furthermore, the process is the most transparent and equitable in fixing a
realistic rights issue price without prejudicing existing shareholders, who
have a pre-emptive right to maintain their stakes," NMBZ says in its offer
THE faction-riddled Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) holds its
make-or-break national council meeting on Saturday where the party's future
is expected to be decided, amid indications party leader Morgan Tsvangirai
is looking to throw down the gauntlet by calling for an extra-ordinary
congress before Christmas.
The Financial Gazette can reveal that as part of Saturday's agenda the
embattled Tsvangi-rai, would recommend to the national council the expulsion
of suspended St Mary's legislator Job Sikhala. The legislator's case would
feature on the agenda, along with other disciplinary cases.
However, top on the agenda is the state of the party, the fate of candidates
who registered for the senate elections, leadership cohesion and the message
from the MDC to the Zimbabwean electorate.
Also on the agenda is an update on the congress process that is envisaged to
be held as an extra-ordinary congress before the end of the year where only
two items, the MDC constitution and leadership would top the bill. Insiders
said yesterday Sikhala would not attend the Saturday national executive
meeting, as he would be serving his suspension.
It emerged yesterday that some senior party officials in favour of
participating in the November 26 senate elections have been urging
provincial chairpersons not to attend Saturday's national council meeting.
Deputy secretary general Gift Chima-nikire raised prospects of another
abortive meeting early this week when he issued a statement contradicting
It is, however, understood that Tsvangirai has asked deputy provincial
chairpersons to be on stand-by to attend the national executive meeting
expected to chart the way forward for the faction-ravaged party. Tsvangirai's
spokesman, William Bango, dismissed assertions the national executive
council would flop.
"There is so much interest in this particular meeting following the fall-out
on 12 October," said Bango.
"Council members are anxious to chart the way forward. They are feeling the
heat from the structures, particularly those provinces which initially
conducted a flawed consultative process and in nominating candidates for the
senate elections. Structures are urging their representatives to present the
true picture on the ground."
BULAWAYO-Council has approved a $3.8 trillion "maintenance budget" for 2006,
which will see charges increase by an average of 250 percent but still leave
a deficit of $1.3 trillion.
The budget was approved by the council on Monday but still awaits approval
by the Ministry of Local Government. This year's budget was only approved in
April when the council had already lost $5.3 billion in revenue. It was also
trimmed from $775 billion to $515 billion.
Presenting the budget for 2006, the chairman of the Finance and Development
Committee, Clr Thaba Moyo, said there was an urgent need to speed up
approval of the budget because total income at current levels of charges
would only amount to $738 billion leaving a deficit of $3.1 billion.
Clr Moyo said during budget consultations, residents had said priority
should be given to the provision of water, followed by health, sewerage,
housing and roads.
Bulawayo has been under water rationing since July and some suburbs,
especially those on higher ground, have at times gone for weeks without
The city has had no new sources of water since 1976 when the population was
about 250 000. Bulawayo had a population of 677 000 according to the 2002
census but this figure has been disputed.
The council has set aside $100 billion as its contribution towards the
harnessing of water from the Mtshabezi Dam and the Zambezi Water Project.
The provision of water is the responsibility of the Zimbabwe National Water
Authority but so far it has failed to deliver.
The council said it would have to increase tariffs and rationalise staff to
reduce or eliminate the $1.3 trillion deficit.
Other ways of expanding its revenue would include commercialisation of some
services, venturing into horticulture, reviewing rentals of council
properties and adjusting fees and licences to full-cost recovery or
BULAWAYO - Central bank governor Gideon Gono may have got his exchange rate
policy right this time but this could be derailed by commercial banks that
have now decided to play god in the market as well as by the serious
mismatch between the monetary and fiscal policies.
Zimbabwe abandoned the foreign currency auction system on October 20 and
replaced it with an open market system under which foreign currency was
supposed to trade on the inter-bank market with market forces determining
the exchange rate.
But instead of allowing the market to determine the exchange rate,
commercial banks last week set a mid-rate of $60 000 to the greenback,
prompting market analyst Witness Chinyama to query why they had assumed the
role of price-setters when they did not possess the foreign currency and
were not its users.
Writing in his weekly column in The Financial Gazette, Chinyama said: "If we
are serious about harnessing the parallel market and making it (foreign
currency) accessible to everyone so as to ameliorate the foreign currency
crisis currently prevailing in Zimbabwe, surely we should give exalted
status to the major stakeholders in the generation and usage of foreign
"Banks should not collude and hold these stakeholders at ransom, as this
initial stage is very crucial in getting the necessary confidence and trust
from holders of foreign currency as it is a very rare chance that has
presented itself to improve foreign currency inflows."
Bulawayo business consultant Eric Bloch concurred. He said while Gono had
made it clear that market forces should dictate the exchange rate,
commercial banks were now playing the role of god. He said while under the
previous system the central bank dictated the exchange rate, commercial
banks were now directing it.
Bloch said if this anomaly was not quickly rectified, exporters would remain
unviable so there was likely to be no improvement in foreign currency
He said using the 2003 exchange rate and adjusting it for inflation, the
dollar should be trading at $75 000 to the greenback. Most banks are trading
at below $60 000.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president Luxon Zembe said he was not
worried about the fact that the dollar had plunged because it was still
trying to find its level but he added that the currency should not trade at
the parallel market rate. As such, the new exchange rate needed a stabiliser
in the form of balance of payments support otherwise the local currency
would just plunge as it has been doing on the parallel market.
"Our currency should not trade at the parallel market rate but rather at the
purchasing power parity level. This is why we need a stabiliser.
Without a stabiliser, the market will just go haywire. The dollar with trade
at the parallel market level and continue to fall," he said.
The Zimbabwe dollar was pegged at $26 000 to the greenback on the auction
floor but traded at up to $100 000 on the parallel market. It was officially
trading at $5 735 to the greenback at the beginning of the year.
"Since we cannot get balance of payments support from the traditional
sources - the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank, we need
to speed up talks for a bilateral loan with South Africa," Zembe said. "The
talks have been dragging on for too long and people are beginning to lose
Zimbabwe entered into bilateral talks with South Africa more than four
months ago. It was reportedly seeking a loan of up to US$1 billion, part of
which was supposed to be used to clear its arrears with the IMF which was
threatening to expel the country from the organisation.
Zimbabwe had arrears of US$295 million but paid US$135 million at the end of
August just days before the IMF was to deliberate on its fate. There were
questions about how it had raised such a huge amount when its coffers were
empty but Gono said the money came from free funds and published a list of
The skewed exchange rate has seen a slowdown in inflows which had picked up
from a paltry US$301 million in 2003 to US$1.7 billion last year. Foreign
currency inflows declined from US$1.2 billion in the first nine months of
last year to US$1 billion during the same period this year. The biggest drop
was in remittances from Zimbabweans abroad. It shot down from US$39.5
million to US$17.1 million.
Observers believe that this did not mean that Zimbabweans were no longer
sending money home but simply that they were no longer using official
channels. It is widely believed that most Zimbabweans abroad were now
sending money to their relatives through agencies in neighbouring countries
where they could get hard currency, which they would then cash on the black
market at home.
Zembe said while Gono had made the right move, his monetary policy urgently
needed to be buttressed by a complimentary fiscal policy otherwise all the
gains from the monetary policy would be wiped out and then reversed. There
was, therefore, an urgent need to address the discrepancy between the
monetary and fiscal policies to improve productivity and viability of
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa, he said, should have announced fiscal
measures to compliment the monetary policy instead of waiting for his 2006
budget, which will only be effective from January, which is three months
"We have to accept that the monetary policy alone will not solve our
problems. It has to be buttressed by the fiscal policy. Right now, we are
already faced with a disastrous time lag that is likely to create a lot of
distortions. For example, manufacturers are now buying foreign currency at
the interbank rate while prices of their products are still controlled. This
gap is disastrous. Murerwa should have announced some policy measures to
move in tandem with the monetary policy."
Zembe said the government should remove price controls and take into account
the cost of production otherwise those with vast sums of cash will buy all
available products on the market and put them on the black market where they
are sold at exorbitant prices.
"Our biggest problem is that we are addressing our problems on a piecemeal
basis. This should be a package with the monetary policy moving in tandem
with the fiscal policy. Right now, it's like someone driving a car with one
foot on the accelerator and the other on the brakes," Zembe said.
KONDOZI Farm - wrested from Canvest Farming and transferred to the
Agriculture and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) last year - has lost
lucrative export markets, which the government had hoped to inherit from its
A highly placed ARDA official said the authority, which muscled its way into
Kondozi in April last year, had failed to penetrate the niche markets that
had been secured by Canvest Farming through negotiated contracts.
Substantial export receipts have slipped through ARDA's fingers as a result,
plunging the parastatal, which had borrowed equipment on the strength of
projected foreign currency inflows, into serious external arrears.
Soon after forcibly annexing Kondozi farm, ARDA ambitiously exchanged
signatures with the governments of Malaysia and Iran in machinery import
deals worth over US$100 million to ramp up production.
The precipitous fall in export earnings, triggered by an unforeseen loss of
the farm's markets - most of which were still controlled by Canvest, which
has since migrated to Mozambique - has left both Kondozi and its new
proprietor wallowing in debt.
A consortium of business tycoons - Edwin Moyo, Adrian Zeederburg and the De
Klerk family - owned Canvest Farming, a former Export Processing Zone
agro-firm that had secured markets for flowers and other horticultural
products in Canada and Switzerland.
"It was hoped that the capital expenditure would boost ARDA's horticultural
output and push earnings up. It was also hoped that ARDA would easily pay
back the loan with earnings from horticultural exports. But this turned out
to be a grievous miscalculation because ARDA failed to inherit the markets
to which Canvest Farming exported because they had been secured through
"There was no choice for ARDA, but to look for new markets and that has been
a nightmare. The major problem was the political takeover of the farm; it
affected business confidence and resulted in a loss of existing and
potential markets," said the source.
Joseph Matovanyika, the chief executive officer of the parastatal, could not
be contacted for comment. Sources however, said Kondozi has been forced to
scout for new markets in Belgium and other European countries.
THE crash of the Zimbabwe dollar against major currencies on the official
market, from $26 000 to around $60 000 against the United States dollar, has
pushed up the costs of importing by more than 130 percent, setting the stage
for steep wholesale price increases.
Analysts said the latest exchange rate movement - the result of the central
bank's decision to float the local currency - is going to put further
pressure on the costs of production, dampening any prospects of industry
increasing its capacity utilisation.
They also expressed fears that the current impasse on the interbank market,
which has seen no meaningful trade since the policy intervention due to
haggling over the mechanism, could further compound the situation.
Analysts also said in the short-term, this move is likely to further strain
capacity utilisation, which is down to 20 percent from around 60 percent
during the same period last year.
Market watchers said underutilisation is, in turn, likely to fuel inflation,
which was measured at 360 percent in September.
A market analyst with Zimbabwe Financial Holdings (Finhold) said there is
likely to be more cost-push inflation emanating from the recent relaxation
of the foreign exchange market.
"The likely introduction of foreign currency denominated import duty may
result in higher import costs for firms, which have a higher import content
in their production process. Such costs will be passed on to the final
consumer in the form of increased prices for goods and services," Finhold
This might also result in the central bank failing to meet its inflation
target of between 280 percent and 300 percent.
Analysts said importers' demands for foreign currency, which has been
increasing during the past months, is likely to shoot up in the coming weeks
as merchants and industry stock up for the coming festive holidays.
Because of the high risk factor associated with doing business in Zimbabwe,
importers are no longer getting the 90-day credit facilities they used to
Eric Bloch, a chartered accountant, however said the movement of the
official rate to around Z$60 000:US$ would have minimal impact on importers.
Bloch said very few importers were using the phased out auction rate due to
foreign currency unavailability. "There will be very little impact on
inflation because most imports were being financed by the parallel market,"
Rates on the thriving black market have surged to around Z$100 000 against
the greenback, the British pound is attracting rates of up to Z$130 000
while the rand is now hovering around Z$14 000.
Analysts also said the much vaunted economic takeoff would remain a mirage
given the burgeoning inflation differential between Zimbabwe and its major
trading partners as well as high interest rates that local producers have to
They said the harsh macro-economic climate affected the ability of
Zimbabwean exporters to produce enough goods to satisfy both the domestic
and export markets.
Swingeing input costs being propelled by the cost of foreign currency on the
parallel market have made it almost impossible for the local exporter to
penetrate foreign markets, especially those with single digit inflation and
For instance, analysts cite production costs in South Africa, Zimbabwe's
biggest trading partner where inflation is less than five percent versus
Zimbabwe's 360 percent, which is showing signs of rising even further.
Bloch said that the rate that has been pegged by banks (Z$60 000:US$) is
'too low to bring exporter viability.'
"They should not fix it, it should be market driven. There will be big
problems if they continue suppressing the rate because the black market will
continue to thrive, pushing up costs and inflation," said Bloch.
Analysts also note that any signs of reversal of the new foreign currency
dispensation would attract wrong signals to the market.
"In fact, there should not be any direct control of the system by the
authorities. Such moves will simply promote the further existence of the
parallel market," Finhold said.
Independent economist John Robertson also said there was confusion on who
should peg the interbank rate.
"The rate is being suppressed but the central bank is saying they are not
exercising any form of controls, so it must be the bankers themselves who
are holding down the rate," Robertson said.
THE current tobacco-planting season has been blighted by the shortage of
critical inputs, mainly fertiliser, pointing to yet another decline in
The Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board (TIMB), which recently received 500
tonnes of fertiliser from Windmill for distribution to farmers, has sounded
alarm bells, saying the quantities were far below requirements.
Andrew Matibiri, TIMB's technical services director, told The Financial
Gazette that the 500 tonnes of fertiliser is far below the 15 000 to 20 000
tonnes required by farmers this season, but said more fertiliser was
expected from the Zimbabwe Fertiliser Company (ZFC).
"The 500 tonnes of fertiliser can only cover 700 hectares of land, which is
far below what the farmers require.
"We are expecting some more from ZFC so that the farmers can commence with
the planting season to avoid delays," Matibiri said.
The tobacco industry, which has witnessed a radical change in fortunes since
the advent of the government's controversial land reform programme in 2000,
plans to put a total of 50 000 hectares under tobacco seed this season.
However, inadequate fertiliser supplies, fuel, equipment and chemicals
shortages have wreaked havoc on all previous production targets set in the
past few years.
The shortage of inputs has seen farmers delaying in planting their seed,
which in turn leads to low yields at the end of the season.
"Most farmers have suspended their planting because they do not have the
fertiliser and fuel or tillage and other inputs. The earlier the farmers
start to prepare the more the yields will improve.
"Dry land tobacco farmers are failing to prepare for the season citing the
shortage of diesel," said Matibiri.
Analysts and industry expects have forecast the production costs for this
season to range between $80 million and $150 million per hectare.
In the just-ended selling season, just about 80 million kilogrammes of
tobacco was sold, against an earlier projection of 160 million kilogrammes.
At its peak, the country used to produce over 200 million kilogrammes of the
A COMPANY owned by Vice President Joice Mujuru's family has taken control of
brick maker Willdale, one of the main suppliers to government's Operation
Garikai housing programme.
Dahaw Trading now controls 40 percent of Willdale, after apparently buying
shares previously held by Intermarket Nominees and Trust Merchant Bank (TMB)
Nominees, formerly the top shareholder.
However, the family is said to hold an even larger stake through separate
stock held by nominee companies.
The Mujuru family took control after buying stock in special share deals on
the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE) over the past several months. Dealers say
that Dahaw bought most of its shares from Intermarket Nominees, although
there was no confirmation of that speculation this week. Intermarket
Nominees has since cut its shareholding from 22 percent to 1.26 percent. TMB
Nominees has sold its entire shareholding in Willdale.
Willdale is the cheapest share on the ZSE, currently selling at around $24.
Dahaw Trading was incorporated in October last year, and lists Solomon,
Nyasha and Maidei Mujuru as its directors.
Old Mutual is a distant number two shareholder, with 15 percent. Scaiflow, a
major investor on the ZSE, holds 2.84 percent.
Ray Kaukonde, the Mashonaland East governor, bought 11.5 percent in Willdale
in November 2003. Although he is reported to have since reduced his
shareholding, it is unclear how much of the company he still owns.
Willdale is a former Mashonaland Holdings subsidiary, but was later spun off
from the group. After conversion of Willdale's convertible shares and
debentures, Mashold first diluted its 100 percent control to 27 percent,
before finally easing out.
Trust's involvement in Willdale, in which it made available financing
facilities for the company, was later used as one of the reasons for its
closure. Mashold's had an $18 billion investment in Intermarket frozen last
year after the financial institution had three of its subsidiaries placed
In 2001, Willdale's poor trading position and uncertainty about future
viability delayed its listing plans, resulting in the company only being
listed two years later.
Most of Willdale's business is in the housing sector, but competition from
cheaper imports has seen Willdale's market share contracting.
The company recorded an operating loss of $1.2 billion at the March half
year due to depressed demand. But Operation Garikai, government's ambitious
housing plan, has raised industry hopes for increased demand for building
PG Industries, the country's largest building material maker, and Turnall,
an asbestos piping company, have said Operation Garikai could help lift
construction companies, hit by a sharp dip in new construction business.
Operation Garikai - under which it is aimed to build up to 2 million homes -
is seen as government's attempts to atone for Operation Murambatsvina, the
slum demolition campaign that displaced the poor and drew sharp censure from
a United Nations housing envoy in July.
WITH sweat cascading from her brow in the glare of the scorching summer sun,
Tsitsi Zhou emerges from her plastic shelter at Hatcliffe Extension,
clutching her meagre belongings.
Zhou, a single mother of two, forced into this sordid settlement at the
height of the government's controversial clean-up operation about six months
ago, is visibly angry, hungry and exhausted. "I am out of here," says Zhou
as she points to her plastic dwelling, one of hundreds of such ramshackle
and temporary structures dotted around Hatcliffe Extension.
"There's no food, water, toilets. There's nothing. These people (the
government) lied to us that we would have decent houses by August. Now the
rains are around the corner and we are still living like this," she says,
once again pointing to the plastic structures, which she says turn into
baking ovens due to the prevailing hot weather conditions.
"The government still has a lot to do to improve the lives of people here.
To say we are suffering is an under-statement. This is Sodom and Gomorrah.
Very soon people will perish here due to diseases. There are no toilets. We
use the bush (to relieve ourselves)," she says, somewhat embarrassed.
She is not alone in this predicament. Shupikai Gore, uprooted from Mbare
Majubeki Lines to Hatcliffe Extension, vowed never to return to the holding
place, referring to the settlement simply as Hell.
"It's a miracle how people are surviving in those plastic shelters in these
conditions. I would rather sleep on the pavements, " said Gore.
Were it not for the generosity of UNICEF and to some extent the Catholic
Church, which provided the plastic shelters, water and food handouts, Zhou,
Gore and thousands of other people displaced by the clean-up operation would
still be hungry and sleeping in the open.
"It is clear the government has failed to deliver and the targets they set
for August are all hot air," added Gore.
When it launched Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle amid pomp and ceremony, the
government said it would build enough houses to accommodate all the people
displaced by its widely condemned exercise which, according to a United
Nations report left about 700 000 people homeless after state security
agents allegedly masterminded the destruction of thousands of houses and
President Robert Mugabe defended the controversial operation, stating
categorically that it was necessary to restore the beauty of cities and
towns which he claimed had become havens for corrupt activities, a charge
critics vehemently dismissed, alleging the scheme had been designed to get
back at urban dwellers for voting for the main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC).
According to the hard-hitting UN report compiled by Special Envoy Tanzanian
Anna Tibaijuka, another 2.4 million people were also directly affected by
the operation that the US and other major Western countries strongly
However an unmoved President Mugabe, accusing critics of romanticising
squalor by denouncing the operation, announced a massive $3 trillion
However the tour this week by this paper and the Parliamentary Portfolio
Committee on Local Government revealed a different story - the government's
funds had done little to improve the lot of people displaced by the
Poor planning, lack of finances and fuel, among other things, were
bedeviling the operation which critics still slam as ill-conceived, and
People at the designated sites spoke of abject poverty, builders spending
days and nights idle and corruption in the allocation of the few houses that
have been roofed but not floored. They spoke of the threat of diseases due
to lack of sanitary facilities and clean piped drinking water.
The tour confirmed the government had dismally failed to meet set targets
and deadlines because of a severe shortage of cement, the government's
financial incapacity to construct houses without outside help, the poor
conditions at the settlements and their inhabitants and the exposure to
diseases due to lack of sanitary facilities.
"The other aspect which shocked most of us in the Committee is that major
beneficiaries are civil servants and that some people perceived to be
supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have been
flushed out of the dwellings," said a committee member, who spoke on
condition of anonymity.
"We were also shocked to see that people are still staying in the open
without any solution to their plight," added the legislator.
Independent investigations revealed that the set target of 2 010 houses, 54
factory shells and 17 vendor marts for the four sites identified in Harare -
at Hatcliffe Extension, Hopley, Hatcliffe and Prospect - were a pipe-dream.
However statistics provided after the tour to these sites by the Committee
released this week, show that only 70 units had been built and roofed at
Hatcliffe Extension compared to a target of 520 which was envisaged to be
met by the end of August.
Thirteen houses at Hatcliffe Extension are still at window level while 221
are at foundation level. At Whitecliff, the government blamed lack of
progress on "a lot of boulders which had impended progress as there was lack
of blasting material, making the project more expensive." There are plans to
relocate people living in plastic shelters to Hopley Farm as only 277 houses
have been roofed out of a target of 1 448 units under Phase 1. Six units
were at wall plate level, 18 at window level and 10 at foundation level, a
far cry from the target. Phases 2 and 3 at Hopley Farm are still to kick-off
due to what officials claimed was lack of financial resources. The
government statement also confirmed the project was far from meeting set
"The challenges being faced by the programme range from increase in prices
of building materials due to the prevailing hyperinflation, erratic supply
of cement and timeous release of funds from the government for payment of
materials and services," reads part of the statement released by parliament
IT has been reported but not yet denied that President Robert Mugabe is
mulling a cabinet reshuffle.
Coming, as it does, against an unprecedented economic meltdown, news of the
reshuffle would, under normal circumstances, be welcomed by those who
understand the depth of the abyss from which Zimbabwe now has to find a way
out. A farewell to the ministers responsible for the country's obsolete
social and economic structures could be farewell to mediocrity and failure.
The wish of the people, who fully understand the scale of the catastrophe
that has befallen Zimbabwe, would not be for the President to simply remove
unwanted politicians from ministerial posts. It is one for enhanced and
effective public resource management that will make it possible to return
the country to the pre-2000 situation. This is the major reason for which a
change in the composition of the Cabinet would be eagerly awaited.
Sadly, over the years Zimbabweans have become accustomed to seeing the same
old and uninspiring faces being recycled. The generality of Zimbabweans
understandably now consider any talk of a Cabinet reshuffle more as a time
for political musical chairs than an opportunity to enhance performance. And
it is difficult to escape the impression that, despite the depressing
situation in the country, which calls for a complete overhaul of the
Cabinet, people feel that the situation will not be different this time
around. They have been waiting for this to happen over the past 25 years of
independence. But it never did. And they no longer have very high hopes for
Be that as it may, we still feel that when he finally exercises his
prerogative to reconstitute the Cabinet, this provides President Mugabe with
the opportunity to overcome the inertia of ZANU PF's encumbering politics of
liberation struggle ties. The occasion should signal the dawn of a new era
and a decisive rupture with the long gone past. This means he has to drop
and not merely reshuffle even so-called party heavyweights who have become
part of the furniture in the government offices that they occupy, their
perceived political clout notwithstanding. That is if the President is to
avoid bequeathing a terrible legacy to Zimbabwe. It is either this or deeper
conservatism, which we are afraid will be ruinous for the country. The
political meaning and basic significance of our proposition is that Zimbabwe
will be rid of the deadwood and gravy-train riders with whom it has been
stuck as if it is something the country's historical situation prescribed.
As it is, a lot of damage has already been done.
Other than the introduction of universal adult suffrage and the now reversed
gains scored in the education and health sectors, Zimbabwe is as far from
bettering the lives of the historically marginalised blacks as it was in
1980. True, the government has repossessed land ostensibly to empower the
historically disadvantaged blacks. That is however all there is to it
because the much-vaunted back-to-the-land idealism has almost come unstuck.
The country is not only failing to feed itself but agriculture, which
previously made the single biggest sectoral contribution to the country's
GDP, is not adding value to the economy despite its undoubted potential.
The foregoing imponderables should partly be blamed on the incompetence of
some of those ministers who bear birthmarks of Zimbabwean politics - lack of
common sense, ignoring economic laws, arrogance, conceit, scapegoating and
lack of accountability despite their pretensions to speak on behalf of the
people. They might not necessarily have caused the socio-economic
difficulties but they are as sure as hell responsible for aggravating them.
Most of these ministers have outlived their usefulness. It is difficult to
understand how they have remained in government this long.
Admittedly, in appointing a new cabinet President Mugabe should not throw
away the baby with the bath water. But it is high time the President - not
known for sacking incompetent Cabinet colleagues who when they take a
position on anything, Zimbabweans automatically take the opposite one and
know they are right - let these ministers fall by the wayside and leave the
chips to fall where they may.
Given the state of affairs in a number of public sectors, it is not
difficult to come up with a list of those ministers that should be dropped.
Top of the list should be the most unenergetic minister of energy in the
world, Mike Nyambuya, Joseph Made, whose handling of agriculture has
provoked a sharp intake of breath from the not-so-easily shocked
Zimbabweans, Aeneas Chigwedere, who has almost destroyed what was left of
the country's education system with a single swing of a political blade.
Herbert Murerwa and Rugare Gumbo of the key ministries of Finance and
Economic Development, respectively, both of whom are conspicuous by their
defeaning silence in the face of the deepening economic crisis.
SOUTH Africa has tightened its strict visa requirements for Zimbabweans in a
bid to forestall a deluge of immigrants as the economic crisis across the
Pretoria this month said it would no longer require transit visas for
several nationalities but said the system would remain in force for
Zimbabweans and nationals from 16 other countries.
"This policy is to be implemented with immediate effect and an immigration
directive to this effect will follow in due course," the home affairs office
said in a statement without giving reasons.
The development comes at a time when the Southern African Development
Community (SADC) is negotiating a visa-free treaty.
It is estimated that over 500 000 Zimbabweans have sought refuge across the
Limpopo to escape a recession now in its sixth year.
Ironically, despite the fallout between Harare and other former friendly
states, South Africa has been solidly behind President Robert Mugabe's
government, in power since the country's independence in 1980.
Excluded from the transit visa exemption requirement are Zimbabwe,
Bangladesh, Cameron, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Ethiopia,
Ghana, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan, China, Russia, Sierra Leone,
Somalia, Sudan and the Ukraine.
WHEN is corruption not corruption? Apparently, in the KwaZulu-Natal province
of South Africa at least, corruption is not corruption when the perpetrator
or culprit is a member of your ethnic group!
These are the rather unusual findings of a study conducted by Research
Surveys, a South African organisation, on the sacking of former
vice-president Jacob Zuma.
According to the survey, whose findings have been widely reported in the
media, 63 percent of the population supports the way President Thabo Mbeki
dealt with the situation after Zuma was implicated following the conviction
of his former financial adviser, Schabir Shaik, of corruption. Zuma is due
to appear in court soon to face charges stemming from his relationship with
Schaik, which South African judge Hilary Squires described as having been
The survey findings come in the wake of charges by Mbeki's detractors that
he acted vindictively when he fired Zuma as his deputy in June. They alleged
that the South African leader acted high-handedly to remove Zuma from the
political scene ahead of the end of his current term of office in 2009. It
was claimed that despite being limited to two terms of office by South
Africa's constitution, Mbeki was eyeing a third term as president and
therefore acted in advance to eliminate his strongest challenger.
Despite being far-fetched, this argument persisted and the pro-Zuma lobby
appeared to enjoy majority support because powerful blocs such as the
Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), the South African Communist
Party and both the youth and women's wings of the ruling ANC vociferously
threw their weight behind the corruption-tainted former vice-president. When
they warned of dire consequences if he was not reinstated, one was left
wondering how corruption would ever be eradicated in Africa in the face of
such contradictions and double standards.
The leaders of many African countries where corruption is rampant cannot
take decisive action because they are hamstrung either by their own
complicity in the plunder of national resources or the need to protect
relatives and cronies. Mbeki's bold move against Zuma, which underscored the
fact that there should be no sacred cows in the fight against graft, should
have set an example to be emulated by others.
But despite vindicating Mbeki overall, the survey findings, which show that
the stiffest opposition to his decision to dismiss Zuma was recorded in the
Zulu-speaking provinces of KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga, raise the spectre
of ethnicity colouring perceptions on national issues and problems. The
survey showed that while 70 percent of respondents interviewed in all other
South African provinces approved of Mbeki's handling of the Zuma affair,
only nine percent Zulu speakers saw things the same way. The overwhelming
majority believed Zuma was unfairly treated and got a raw deal.
The Zuma case however, shows why no form of corruption should ever be swept
under the carpet regardless of the status, ethnicity or political
affiliation of the culprit. Just as Mbeki has refused to buckle under
pressure in the face of Zulu opposition to his actions, he should show the
same steadfastness, if say, he had to deal with a corrupt heavyweight
belonging to his own Sotho ethnic group.
A head of state is in office to look out for the interests of all sectors of
the population and he should endeavour to establish a track record of
consistently doing so without fear or favour. It is only this way that
selective perceptions based on tribe, colour, or political affiliation can
eventually be rendered irrelevant in the fight against corruption.
Despite the acrimonious atmosphere that has surrounded the Zuma affair since
Mbeki took the unprecedented step of firing hid number two, I think the
South African leader has still set an example that should be emulated by his
peers across Africa. The corruption ratings recently announced by
Transparency International which showed most African countries faring
atrociously, confirm that corruption is a cancer that African leaders can no
longer pretend to wish away. A concerted effort is needed to tackle it.
Officials in Zimbabwe, unfortunately, also need to get their act together if
our country is to be rid of this scourge. These days, hardly a week goes by
without a major scandal surfacing in the public or private sector. Last
week, this paper published details about the incredible abuse of motor
vehicles at a government ministry where a permanent secretary is reported to
have a fleet of eight luxury cars for his and his family's use.
It is when you read horror stories like this that you wonder what the
Ministry of Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies is doing when it cannot
detect serious irregularities of this magnitude going on right under its
nose. A few weeks ago the same ministry was conducting workshops and
appealing for information on corrupt dealings and activities. But how can
its appeals for tips be taken seriously when it chooses to ignore burgeoning
corruption in the public sector? As Mbeki has shown, one has to be prepared
to be unpopular with some sections of the community in order to take a
principled stand against the cancer of corruption.
FAMISHED magistrates who thought the presence of (In)Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa at their recent AGM in Gweru was a chance to sweep clean
all the dark corners of their hearts got more than they had bargained for.
Really much more than they had asked for.
Guess what the foul-mouthed Chinamasa told the magistrates when they
complained that they could no longer survive on the slave wages they are
getting from their employer? "It's better for one to resign if you can't
make ends meet within the wages you receive as magistrates." And the
ministry's perm sec David Mangota chimed in: "I don't like to believe it is
poor salaries that cause corruption, but greed. People who are poor usually
accept their lot and don't engage in corruption."
What a way to tell someone to bugger off!
So those unpatriotic doctors, nurses, teachers, magistrates, policemen and
others who are leaving the public service in their droves could be right
after all! It is now official . . . if you are unhappy with your pay-cheque,
just resign because no one will do anything about it. It's a
Surely, how can one even dream of improved conditions of service if it is
with this attitude that the government comes to the negotiating table? So
like Chinamasa said, the best thing is to just leave (you don't eat
patriotism), except obviously those who "accept their lot," as Mangota said.
CZ would like to commiserate with Cde Edgar Tekere, whose comeback to the
(mis)ruling party hit a brick wall recently when his name was "forgotten"
from the final list of those who will represent the party in the forthcoming
Tekere seems to conveniently have a very short memory. He thinks every other
person also has such a rotten memory? So he thought his readmission into
ZANU PF was automatic simply because he thought it should be?
But there is really no way that the party could just take him back like
that. He differed with the party "in a major way" in 1988, contested the
1990 general elections under the ZUM banner, and went on to make a career of
hurling insults at the party. Hasn't he seen it happen to others before? So
why does he think he is so special?
IN the interest of openness and transparency, both of which form the very
foundation of Operation Integrity, some concerned Zimbos have asked CZ to
please ask on their behalf how much progress has our Cde Chinos made in
raising the $30 billion that he threatened the hapless victims of Hurricane
Katrina with? How much - in both cash and kind has been raised - and when
can the beneficiaries start rubbing their hands in anticipation? Hopefully
these were not just addled threats . . . the usual empty spiel of a spawning
SO Cde Koga's new duties at the staid Zimbabwe Tourism Authority include
running national beauty pageants? Wonderful. Isn't it? If whosoever seconded
the man to that tired organisation thought he was punishing the wayward
fellow, then they got it all wrong. It has turned out to be a promotion in
disguise . . . since there seems to be more featherbeddings in the new
position than before. Heaps and lots for that matter!
Remember some cases in recent history? It is always rumoured in Harare bars
that the reason why the late former president, the Reverend Canaan Banana,
got away with an open prison jail term was that in its wisdom, the court
realised that for a man like that a custodial sentence could have been
three-and-a-half heavens rolled into one!
LAST week Dunlop Zimbabwe MD, Phil Whitehead, rubbished reports that his
company had been given foreign currency by the government to sustain its
operations, and instead pointed out that the said funds were specifically
meant to produce tyres for the Great Uncle's ever-lengthening motorcade and
his army of gluttonous hangers-on. Think of it!
Traditionally, this is not the done thing, for some matters pertaining to
the mystic lives of the rulers are left unsaid.
So this week the fellow passed on. What a coincidence! Don't quote naughty
CZ. It's the hand of God.
Mail and Guardian
03 November 2005 09:49
The Zimbabwe government says United Nations Secretary General
Kofi Annan does not have a "factual position" on the country and is being
misled by people in his office, a government spokesperson told the
state-controlled Herald newspaper on Thursday.
President Robert Mugabe's spokesperson George Charamba told the
newspaper that Annan should wait until a top UN humanitarian official visits
the country before issuing statements on the plight of Zimbabweans made
homeless by an urban clean-up campaign earlier this year.
"There was a commitment by Zimbabwe to play host to the UN
humanitarian coordinator this month, and the UN secretary general cannot
have a factual position on the situation in Zimbabwe until that coordinator
comes and makes his assessment and reports back to him," Charamba said.
On Monday, a spokesperson for Annan issued a statement saying
that the secretary general was "deeply concerned" by the plight of tens of
thousand of Zimbabweans who remain homeless after police in May mounted a
blitz that saw the demolition of houses, shacks and flea markets throughout
The blitz, which the authorities described as an urban renewal
campaign, received widespread international criticism.
"There are people working in the secretary general's office who
mislead him," Charamba said.
Charamba said the UN had been influenced by recent reports from
the BBC on Zimbabwe.
"What has prompted the statement, which purported to be coming
from Mr Annan, is a documentary aired by BBC's [South Africa-based
correspondent] Hilary Andersson," he said.
"Comrade Charamba said Mr Annan cannot rely on the BBC as a bona
fide media organisation to speak on Zimbabwe because Zimbabwe and Britain
has a diplomatic war emanating from the land question," the Herald added.
In his statement, Annan also expressed dismay over the
government's refusal of UN offers of temporary shelter to the displaced.
The statement from Annan's office insisted that a "large number
of vulnerable groups, including the recent evictees as well as other
vulnerable populations, remain in need of immediate humanitarian assistance,
But Charamba told the Herald the government does not want
"If the UN and donors are keen to assist in augmenting
government efforts, they should assist in constructing permanent structures
and not temporary structures," he said.
The government has promised to build tens of thousands of new
houses over the next few years. But the ambitious programme is being
hampered by reported shortages of cash and building materials. Independent
economists say Zimbabwe's tightly stretched economy cannot afford such a
Jan Egeland, the UN's under-secretary general for humanitarian
affairs, is due in Zimbabwe at the end of November. -- Sapa-DPA
Last Update: Thursday, November 3, 2005. 6:00pm (AEDT)
The Federal Government says it will continue to pressure other countries to
"stand up to" the Zimbabwe Government in light of fresh reports about the
Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer has seized on media reports that
Zimbabwe's Deputy Agriculture Minister has admitted that food has run out in
his country because land has been given to people with no passion for
Mr Downer has told Parliament 4 million people need food aid, but the
Government in Zimbabwe this week rejected a United Nations offer of help.
"We will continue to do what we can to pressure the international community
to take further action against Zimbabwe," he said.
"To pressure countries like South Africa to be more robust in standing up to
President [Robert] Mugabe, to pressure members of the Security Council to
consider a referral of President Mugabe's regime to the International
The Zimbabwean Government's program to clean up slum areas has also caused
However, President Mugabe has told ABC News (America) that reports of
thousands of Zimbabweans still being homeless are "nonsense".
"Anyone who wants facts should come and see what's happening. We removed
them from slums and put them in new places," he said.
"Obviously when you destroy slums, even as you prepare new places for them,
there is a dislocation, disorganisation of the family for that moment."
It is unclear when the interview took place.
President Mugabe's Government refused aid from the UN because of the world
body's description of the demolition program as a humanitarian crisis, and
over calls for the prosecution of those who led the campaign.
"Thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands. You go there now and
see whether those thousands are there... Where are they? A figment of their
imagination. They exaggerated," he said.