DETAILS of alleged looting by senior politicians and officials
at state-owned steel-making enterprise, Ziscosteel, started surfacing this
week with a number of company officials involved in the abuse of funds being
Investigations by the Zimbabwe Independent found that a long
list of Zisco managers and their counterparts in the public enterprise's
subsidiaries in Botswana - Ramotswa Steel & Iron Co (Pvt) Ltd and Tswana
Steel & Iron Co (Pvt) Ltd - were deeply involved in the scramble for the
ailing steel giant's resources.
Senior politicians - including members of the state presidency,
ministers and MPs - also grossly abused public assets by claiming large
unaccounted for allowances from Zisco after travelling on business that had
nothing to do with the company. Others benefited through dubious contracts
and a supplies over-pricing rip-off.
Procurements were also used as a window for rent-seeking
behaviour as the process is not open to competitive bids. At the Zisco
subsidiaries in Botswana, only one person, a business manager, handles
"The Zisco scandal involves government and company officials who
had been claiming money without justification and unprocedurally for a lot
of things, including allowances, directors' sittings, and management fees,"
a source said.
"Some Zisco officials took cash for private use using all sorts
of methods for self-enrichment. Others abused credit cards, petty cash and
took gross advantage of a weak accounting system, purchases, procurement,
public relations campaigns, and the servicing and repairs of vehicles. There
was also the issue of hotel bookings and entertainment allowances in which a
lot of money was abused or siphoned."
Thousands of United States dollars were spent entertaining
government officials and their hangers-on at the Grand Palm Hotel Casino &
Convention Resort in Gaborone where they squandered public funds on
expensive drinks and food during weekends.
Sources said former Zisco group MD Gabriel Masanga, current and
former directors David Murangari, Zvichinei Churu, Dr MN Abubasuthu, Dr
Ndabezinhle Dube, George Mlilo (Transport permanent secretary), Grace
Chella, MJ Harris, Professor Alaphia Wright, and George Chikumbirike, among
others, received monies or incurred dubious expenses for the company,
raising eyebrows of National Economic Conduct Inspectorate (NECI)
A three-man NECI team investigated the issue which covered
events from 2002 to last year. It compiled a damning report at the end of
last year which has now been buried by a government fearing the corruption
scandal could rock it to the foundations.
Sources said some of the names mentioned are Zisco spokesman
Augustine Timbe and others linked to the company such as SD Chawasarira, ES
Barlow, A Mafurirano and a Mapenzauswa. They got allowances.
Sources said Chikumbirike was paid US$1 225 on July 14 2003 as
allowance through a telegraphic transfer into his ABC Botswana Bank Account
BCWHIG001CALUSD0007. He also received US$1 000 for school fees on January 23
2004 from Masanga's company facility. Masanga used P1 230,72 through his FNB
business credit card at Victoria Falls, while Murangari got R300 to pay the
University of Cape Town from the company.
Dozens of Zisco workers - including drivers - have also been
recipients of company funds for shady payments.
"For instance, a total of about Pula 26 662,85 was spent on one
driver by the name Mtinta to take Masanga's car for service in Botswana," a
source said. "About P49 225,35 was spent on another driver, Bojosi."
Businessman and former Zanu MP Tirivanhu Mudariki and an R
Makuni - who seems well-connected - have come up as some of the people who
were involved in the Zisco affair where serious abuse of public resources
has been detected by NECI.
Industry and International Trade officials V Vengesa, J
Chigwedere, FA Makombe and Mrs Nyagweta, and a host of others also received
questionable payments from Zisco.
Sources said Ramotswa/Tswana steel MD J Chininga and the
companies' business manager Shelton Chivhere were key players. The two were
interviewed by NECI in Botswana between July 24 and August 3 last year,
Thousands of US dollars were involved in payments. In the case
of the controversial purchase of Ramotswa/Tswana Steel by Zisco and now
current attempts to sell off the companies, millions of dollars in hard
currency were at stake.
Information gathered through interviews showed that on some
occasions Chininga and Chivhere had purchases made on their behalf even for
small items such as ladies' handbags.
"Chininga bought two ladies' handbags valued at P170 using
company funds. Furniture has also been bought under unclear circumstances
for the management, for instance Chivhere bought furniture for a Zisco
official known as Mafika who was in Botswana," a source said.
"When Mafika was transferred to Namibia, he took all the
furniture with him. The company lost money. In another incident, Chininga
claims that Masanga had authorised him to buy furniture for Chivhere without
the board's approval. All these things are not documented."
Sources said there were many instance of such abuses.
"The petty cash in Botswana is open to abuse as there is no
specific limit. It can be P50 000 or P100 000. Our managers claim that we
have to keep a lot of cash because banks are far away," a Zisco official
"Sales proceeds, eg from one of our companies Fullfit, are also
receipted as petty cash and stashed in a safe. The money is then used on
such sort of expenses as entertainment allowances for senior officials,
gifts for visitors, and public relations campaigns that include paying
Botswana MPs, police, immigration and customs officials."
Zisco, through its subsidiaries, has had to spend funds in a
public relations blitz that appeared to have been the entry point into the
company vault to access money for personal use.
"At one time P7 500 was donated to a Botswana MP in the name of
public relations. On March 15 P1 000 was taken, on March 19 last year P1 000
was also taken by Chininga for PR, on April 15 P5 000 was taken, on May 12
P4 000 was taken, all this money purportedly for PR," a source said.
In the end, millions in forex of public funds were spent or lost
through various loopholes and deliberate siphoning, the source said.
(To be continued next week.)
THE government has withdrawn the Interception of Communications
Bill which was meant to spy on people's messages after the Parliamentary
Legal Committee (PLC) raised strong objections to its clauses, the Zimbabwe
Independent established this week.
In an interview on Wednesday the chairman of the PLC, Welshman
Ncube, confirmed that government had undertaken to come up with a new
version of the Bill that would take into account the committee's concerns.
The climbdown on the proposed legislation came after Ncube's
committee met the Attorney-General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele and Transport and
Communications minister Christopher Mushohwe last month where the
legislative body queried the constitutionality of some of its clauses.
Mushohwe, who is sponsoring the Bill, and Gula-Ndebele, who sits
in parliament as an ex-officio member and is the government's principal
advisor on legal matters, promised to come back to the PLC with a response
to their objections.
"They accepted our objections. They said they are going to come
up with a new version," Ncube said on Wednesday.
The Bill's memorandum says its purpose is to "establish an
interception of communication centre for the appointment of persons to that
centre whose function shall be to monitor and intercept certain
communications in the course of their transmission through a
telecommunications, postal or any other related service system".
The Bill also says that the Transport minister may issue
warrants for the interception of communications on application by the Chief
of Defence Intelligence, the Director-General of the President's Department
of National Security (the CIO), the Commissioner of the Zimbabwe Republic
Police and the Commissioner-General of the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority or by
any nominee of any of the above.
Although Ncube did not state the contentious clauses, sources
said the PLC had raised objections to clauses 4, 6, 8, and 18, among others.
They said on clause 4, the committee objected to the
establishing of a centre known as the Monitoring of Interception of
Communications Centre (MICC) saying it was unconstitutional to have such a
The sources added that on clause 6, the committee objected to
the part that says "in the case of urgency or the existence of exceptional
circumstances, an oral application may be made".
Clause 8 allows courts to use information intercepted unlawfully
in prosecutions while clause 18 says aggrieved persons can appeal to the
same minister who issues a warrant for their communication to be
The Interception of Communications Bill becomes the second
proposed law to be withdrawn this year following the withdrawal of the
Suppression of Foreign and International Terrorism Bill, after the
government conceded that some of its provisions were unconstitutional.
A new version of the terrorism Bill, which critics say is aimed
at cracking down on dissenting voices, is expected to be gazzetted soon.
LEO Mugabe's clandestine bid to buy a stake in Telecel Zimbabwe
(Pvt) without the knowledge of other local shareholders has fallen on its
face after major shareholder Telecel International Ltd snubbed the
Telecel International owns 60% of Telecel Zimbabwe while a local
group, Empowerment Corporation (EC) in which Mugabe claims to have a stake,
Zimbabwe's telecommunications regulations stipulate that a
foreign company can only own up to 49% in a cellular network.
EC as a whole holds the preemptive rights to dilute Telecel
International's shareholding in Telecel Zimbabwe.
The government has for the past two years been threatening to
cancel Telecel Zimbabwe's operating licence unless it changes its
shareholding structure to reflect a 51% shareholding for EC and 49% for
Telecel International in Telecel Zimbabwe. Telecel International had offered
to sell the outstanding 11% stake to EC in compliance with the law. EC has
since started negotiations with Telecel International.
Confidential documents to hand however show that while EC are
still negotiating to buy the shares, Mugabe went behind their back and made
a secret offer to take over the stake through his company, Integrated
Engineering Group (IEG).
In his two offer letters of July and October, Mugabe told
Telecel International that he had been tasked by EC to buy the stake. He
reminded the international firm that Telecel Zimbabwe's operating licence
would be cancelled unless they disposed of the outstanding 11% to a local
company - in this case his IEG.
Mugabe, a nephew of President Robert Mugabe, offered US$3
million for the shareholding, documents to hand say. Two letters in
possession of this paper show that his secret offer collapsed after Telecel
International discovered that Mugabe did not have permission from EC to buy
the shares as he claimed.
Telecel International's interim chief executive Jim Bailey wrote
to Mugabe informing him of the complications of his offer. In the first
letter dated August 1 Bailey told Mugabe that he was "surprised that IEG had
been asked by EC to purchase the stake" because he had not received such
communication from EC.
"We have been informed by them that all communications between
EC and TIL (Telecel International) should be done through the office of the
chairman of EC, and we have heard nothing of the matter through this
channel," Bailey said. He said there was something amiss about Mugabe's
offer because Telecel International had a binding agreement with EC that
both shareholders should approve the introduction of a new partner into
Mugabe wrote another letter to Telecel International in August
repeating his offer. He said he was ready to start negotiations. He warned
them that the licence was in danger unless they sold the 11% to a local
Two weeks ago Telecel International wrote again to Mugabe
reiterating that they were not in a position to start negotiations unless he
proved that he had permission from EC to undertake such a deal.
In that letter, Bailey said he found Mugabe's claims that he has
been given the permission to by the stake "curious".
"We find it curious that although you have, as you say, been
informed by other members of Empowerment Corporation that they have no
objections to your entering into discussions with us regarding the 11%
shareholding, we have not received any notification of a change in the
chairmanship of Empowerment Corporation," said Bailey.
Bailey said Telecel International only dealt with EC's
representatives on the Telecel Zimbabwe board of directors-James Makamba and
"Accordingly, and until such time as we would receive such
proper official notification, we see no point in entering into such a
When contacted for comment this week, Mugabe confirmed he had
made the offer saying he had the permission of EC to buy the stake.
"Yes, I made the offer to buy the 11% because if we don't
correct the structure Telecel Zimbabwe's licence will be cancelled.
Apparently EC does not have the money required," Mugabe said.
It is understood that government had given Telecel International
and EC to the end of 2007 to put the structure in place to avoid losing
Telecel Zimbabwe's licence. When pressed to prove that EC had surrendered
its preemptive rights to him, Mugabe was evasive saying he needed time to
find the evidence because he was at parliament. He accused this paper of
trying to scuttle his deal.
"So you guys want to destroy my deal? Is that what you want to
POLICE in Harare on Wednesday used batons to break up a
demonstration by scores of pro-democracy activists, arresting three
protesters including National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman
Human rights lawyer Alec Muchadehama last night said Madhuku and
two other NCA members were still in police custody at Harare Central police
While Madhuku has been charged for contravening Section 24 of
the Public Order and Security Act (Posa), the other two NCA members, Marko
Shoko and Shingirayi Nyakudya, are yet to be charged, their lawyer said
"Police have promised to bring Madhuku to court tomorrow (today)
on charges of failure to give prior notice of the demonstration, but they
have yet to prefer charges against the other two," Muchadehama said.
At least 250 members of the NCA were rounded up by police in
Africa Unity Square demonstrating for a new constitution.
Ernest Mudzengi of the NCA said Madhuku was separated from the
rest of the crowd and bundled into a police vehicle before the police turned
on the rest of the demonstrators.
"They beat the demonstrators who remained seated," Mudzengi
He said Shoko and Nyakudya were arrested on allegations that
they had stoned a police vehicle. The NCA has been at the forefront of
pressing for a new constitution and has often paraded in the streets to
press home demands for a replacement of the 26-year-old Lancaster House
Constitution that has been amended several times.
MATABELELAND North governor Sithokozile Mathuthu has started
relocating from Bulawayo to Lupane, the Matabeleland provincial capital.
Mathuthu was operating from Mhlahlandlela Government Complex in
Bulawayo and commuting to Lupane at the taxpayers' expense in travel
Government set November 1 as the deadline for Mathuthu and other
departments to relocate to Lupane.
Mathuthu this week confirmed that she was relocating to the
provincial capital of Matabeleland North.
"I think it is fair for us to relocate and start working from
the provincial capital," she said. "We were having problems commuting from
Bulawayo to places like Binga which are very far. We are relocating to
Lupane and we will use whatever resources available there. We are moving
gradually, depending on the space available," said Mathuthu.
Construction of the governor's house and the Lupane government
complex, Elitsheni, has not been completed.
Sources said construction of the governor's house was moving at
a very slow pace. The sources indicated that workers who were staying in
government houses that Mathuthu and her colleagues would take over were
"The construction of the governor's house is moving at a slow
pace and I don't think it will be completed anytime soon. The governor's
property has already arrived in Lupane and she will be occupying one of the
government houses, but the problem is they are evicting people who were
occupying these houses," said an official who did not want to be named.
Reports in August indicated that Matabeleland North, South and
Bulawayo governors were chewing over $40 000 (revalued) in travel allowances
every day due to lack of accommodation in their respective provinces.
But Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo argued that the
governors were entitled to the allowances since government was yet to build
houses for them.
"There is nothing sinister in that governors are paid allowances
for accommodation. These governors are government employees and they are
entitled to that allowance because we are still constructing their houses,"
he was quoted as saying.
Projects such as the Joshua Mqabuko International Airport,
Gwayi-Shangani Dam and Bulawayo-Nkayi road have not been completed, years
after construction started.
GOVERNMENT is yet to construct water and sewerage reticulation
infrastructure under Operation Hlalani Kuhle/Garikai at Cowdray Park in
This emerged after reports that the Bulawayo City Council had
issued eviction orders to beneficiaries of the housing project to prevent an
outbreak of diseases as the two-roomed houses have unsanitary living
The local authority said the evictions were meant to prevent
diarrhoea outbreaks and respiratory infections and at the same time enforce
compliance with the public health by-laws. The houses do not have potable
water and sewerage reticulation.
Contacted for comment, chairman of the provincial
inter-ministerial taskforce on reconstruction, Brave Matavire, refused to
talk to this reporter.
"I cannot comment on that," said Matavire before terminating the
Repeated efforts to get a comment from Cain Mathema, Governor
and Resident Minister of Bulawayo, were fruitless as his phone went
The construction, which is being carried out by the Zimbabwe
National Army, has been stalled for almost a year after government failed to
provide funds to complete the houses.
According to a recent Health, Housing and Education council
report, failure by the government to put up water and sewer reticulation
services was exposing residents to diseases.
"Developing a project of this nature and size on unserviced land
had inherent problems that in the long-run negate whatever gains may be
envisaged in providing shelter to residents," the report said.
"Lack of water and sewer reticulation compromised hygiene
standards and created a nuisance of fouling of open spaces. In fact,
residents' swapped death from exposure to the elements for death through
diarrhoea and respiratory infections as a result of unsanitary living
conditions," read the council report in part.
The council report said the houses should be occupied after
certification of occupation from the building and health inspectorate.
Operation Hlalani Kuhle/Garikai, which began last year after
Operation Murambatsvina which left thousands homeless, is moving at a
The government said the operation was meant to rid the cities
and towns of slums but the operation was condemned internationally as
another assault on human rights.
Well-placed relatives and children of government and Zanu PF
party officials have been accused of corruptly grabbing the houses while
Murambatsvina victims languish in the open.
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has come under fire for rejecting
growing calls for full constitutional reform, claming that the current
British-made Lancaster House constitution was "home-grown and sacrosanct".
Analysts said this week that Mugabe's remarks last Friday to
church leaders represented a crude attempt to falsify history and trade in
deception for short-term political gain. They observed that it was alarming
for someone who postures as a revolutionary to claim that a conservative
"cease-fire" document like the Lancaster House constitution was home-made
Political analyst Dr Ibbo Mandaza, a backroom delegate to the
Lancaster House conference from September to December 1979 in Britain, said
the current constitution was a "compromise" document in which competing
interests had to be balanced by the negotiators. He said the history of the
Lancaster House conference was well-documented.
"It was a compromise document because the Patriotic Front was
forced by circumstances to accept entrenched clauses in it that otherwise
they did not want, for example the clauses that land could not be taken for
the first 10 years of Independence and the reserved seats for whites,"
"The Frontline States pressured nationalist leaders to sign and
in the end it became a give-and-take document."
Talks broke down on December 18, 1979 between the
Zimbabwe-Rhodesian government of Bishop Muzorewa, nationalist leaders from
the Patriotic Front, and the British government represented by Lord
"However, just when the Patriotic Front delegation was packing
its bags to return to base on December 19," Mandaza recalled, "envoys
arrived from Mozambique, Zambia and Tanzania to tell (Robert) Mugabe (the
Zanu leader) and (former Zapu leader Joshua) Nkomo that they had to sign. As
a result of this and many other events, on December 22, with much reluctance
and trepidation, Mugabe and Nkomo signed."
Mugabe himself confirmed this at the time.
"Even as I signed the document I was not a happy man at all," he
said. "I felt we had been cheated to some extent and that we had agreed to a
deal which would to some extent rob us of the victory that we had hoped to
have achieved in the field."
Nkomo was also unhappy, so were other nationalist leaders. But
they too signed because the battlefront stalemate had to be broken. The
commander of Zanla, Zanu's military wing, Josiah Tongogara, was widely
quoted at the time as having insisted that: "We just have to have a
settlement. We can't go back empty-handed."
Professor Jonathan Moyo, former Information minister and
analyst, said he was shocked by Mugabe's remarks.
"It's scandalous and outrageous for Mugabe to say the Lancaster
House constitution was home-grown and sacrosanct. First, it flies in the
face of what he said after the signing of the document," Moyo said.
"Secondly, every ignoramus knows it was a compromise document.
Mugabe only changed his mind when he came to power and inherited the
repressive apparatus of the Rhodesian colonial state. After gaining control
of such brutal instruments as the State of Emergency laws, the Law and Order
(Maintenance) Act and others that he used to entrench his rule under the
cloak of constitutionalism, he conveniently forgot what he had said
Writing in the book, Zimbabwe: The Political Economy of
Transition, 1980 to 1986, Mandaza, retracing the road to the Lancaster House
Conference, said the final agreement was a setback for the liberation
"The Lancaster House Agreement constituted a substantial setback
for the Patriotic Front, at least in terms of the broad objectives that the
national liberation movement had set for itself in the course of the armed
struggle," he said.
"First, the white settler colonial state was not to be
dismantled. On the contrary.a British governor (Lord Soames) would represent
the return of British rule for a brief period to ensure that a suitable and
acceptable black government came to power. Secondly, the Patriotic Front was
now deprived of the possibility of winning undiluted and total power as
would be expected in a decolonisation process. Third, the colonial
socio-economic structures would remain intact. The land issue remained
Mugabe's rejection of constitutional reform, Moyo said, was
"He has always preferred piecemeal amendments rather than a
comprehensive reform agenda through a popular process. That's why he
initially opposed the setting up of the constitutional commission in 1999
and only agreed at the eleventh hour after which he was dragged kicking and
screaming to appoint the commission," Moyo said.
"That's why Mugabe and his party withdrew political support for
the process and did not bother to campaign for the draft. In the end the
rejection of the draft was a major victory for Mugabe - and not those
opposition and civic groups who opposed the draft without understanding the
politics at play - and he is only showing it openly now that he won."
Moyo said if the draft constitution had been adopted, political
change would have been secured.
However, Moyo said Mugabe was now celebrating the rejection of
the draft constitution - which he thinks was an attempt to legislate him out
of office - in a manner that could further damage his already battered
"To say the current constitution was home-made and sacrosanct is
inherently irrational. Many fallen heroes of the struggle must be turning in
their graves in shame over such comments," he said.
"Mugabe risks defiling whatever little remains positive in his
controversial legacy and portraying himself as a phoney nationalist or
revolutionary now betraying his true colours."
Addressing church leaders, Mugabe said the current constitution
was just as good as a home-grown one because of amendments.
"It was after the war that we got the British to preside over a
conference to transfer power (to us). It was not a British constitution; it
was not a constitution foisted on us by the British, no. We demanded one man
one vote; that's what we got," Mugabe said.
"There could never be another constitution so dear, so
sacrosanct. True there might be amendments necessary to make, let us say so,
but to say this is not home-grown is as if the British imposed this on us."
Mugabe said amendments had been made to "consolidate national
unity". He said his party was prepared to make more amendments, but would
resist another major constitutional reform process after the rejection of
the state-sponsored draft constitution of 2000.
The Zimbabwe constitution has been amended 17 times since 1980,
many of the changes aimed at enhancing Mugabe's powers, diminishing the
authority of the courts and closing democratic space. More amendments are
being mulled. Critics say the plethora of amendments show the constitution
is deeply flawed.
The United States constitution - the oldest written constitution
in the world - has been amended 27 times since 1787.
RESULTS of rural district council elections held last weekend
have illustrated that opposition parties still have an uphill task to weaken
the chokehold Zanu PF has on rural voters.
Statistics also paint a picture of an opposition struggling to
convince rural voters to take them seriously as a challenger to Zanu PF.
Out of the 1 247 wards, the combined opposition and a sprinkling
of independents chalked up a mere 84 seats, with the two camps of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) picking up 81 seats between them.
The Arthur Mutambara-led MDC won 40 seats with remarkable
successes in Nkayi district where it got 14 seats while the Morgan
Tsvangirai camp registered its best score in Binga with 11 seats.
The Tsvangirai-led camp which fielded 680 candidates registered
a 5,88% success with 40 winning candidates while their counterparts in the
opposition who fielded 206 candidates chalked up 19,9% success with 41
The results show a total rout of the MDC in Mashonaland Central,
West and East provinces that have become an impenetrable fortress of Zanu PF
support. After clinching 82 wards without breaking sweat, Zanu PF went on to
win the remaining 90 wards in a clean sweep of the polls.
Statistics show that overall the opposition won a paltry 6,7% of
the total wards on offer while it also won 9,54% of the contested wards.
Both figures are a far cry from claims by the Tsvangirai-led MDC
spokesperson, Nelson Chamisa, that 44% of the rural electorate voted for his
party despite intimidation.
"They braved massive intimidation, threats and violence to vote
for the only party that represents the last hope of a brutalised and
repressed nation," Chamisa said.
"Apathy won the polls because the electorate no longer has
confidence in the electoral system and its outcome," he said.
The opposition put up a fair fight in Matabeleland North where
it won the highest number of contested seats with 33 out of 84 and
Matabeleland South where it garnered 19 out of 80 contested seats.
Independent candidates took one each in both Matabeleland
provinces and a single seat in the Midlands.
GOVERNMENT has suspended the implementation of a draconian law
that threatens to disrupt Econet Wireless operations through termination
rates for international traffic favourable to state-owned Tel*One pending
the finalisation of a court application filed by the country's largest
The court case in which Econet Wireless is contending that
Statutory Instrument 70 is aimed at reintroducing Tel*One's monopoly
"through the back door" is expected to kick off today at the Harare High
The case was supposed to start on Wednesday but Justice Lavender
Makoni postponed it to today with the parties' lawyers consenting to the
suspension of the law that was supposed to come into effect on Wednesday.
NATIONAL Security minister Didymus Mutasa has fired salvoes at
food experts who have criticised government's centralised food management
system as a strategy to control the population through politicisation of
Food experts have attributed the current food crisis besieging
the country partly to government's failure to allow more players other than
the state monopoly Grain Marketing Board (GMB) to trade in grain.
Mutasa told the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday that such
claims were ill-founded and imperialistic. The intelligence minister said it
was incumbent upon government to provide food to the people and there was no
politicisation of food.
Mutasa said food production and security were part of national
security, dismissing observations by the food experts that "Zimbabwe is
among a few countries in the world where food production had become a
national security issue".
"You must not listen to those lies," said Mutasa.
"Food security has always been a national security issue. I'm
the Minister of National Security and it's not something new. There is no
country in the world where food is not part of national security."
He said government was not playing food politics with the people
as a way to control them but had an obligation to provide enough food to
feed the nation.
"There is no controlling of food and any politics involved. Imi
ndosaka makuda kupiwa sadza nemaBritish. Itai vana kwavo kwete kufurirwa
naBlair. (That is why you now want Britain to give you food. Act like
well-mannered children, and don't be fooled by Blair)."
"The GMB has been there ever since, so I don't agree with you or
that report from so-called experts,' Mutasa said.
"It (GMB) was in fact created before our time and used to
subsidise white farmers. It's a question of allowing every farmer to produce
abundantly so that the GMB ends up running out of storage space. Besides,
the population itself can produce their own food and no one forces them to
sell their produce to GMB, so where is the food control?"
Government has militarised the grain parastatal, which is run by
Colonel Samuel Muvhuti as acting chief executive. There are also reports
that soldiers were recently deployed to round up villagers ordering them to
grain to boost dwindling reserves at GMB.
As part of its grip on food production, government last year
launched Operation Maguta/Sisuthi - a project conceived by the Joint
Operations Command (JOC) to avert Zimbabwe's perennial food woes.
According to experts, the country requires about 1,8 million
tonnes of maize annually to meet national requirements and another 500 000
tonnes for strategic reserves. Contrary to government's projected harvest of
2,4 million tonnes this year, international food agencies have put the
2005/2006 harvest at between 600 000 and 800 000 tonnes.
JUDGE Gilbert Guillaume of France, Ronald Cass, former dean at
the Boston School of Law, and former Pakistan Justice minister Mohammad
Wassi Zafar, have been appointed to preside over a Dutch farmers' case
against government filed at the International Centre for the Settlement of
Investment Disputes (ICSID).
The Dutch Farmers Association, in conjunction with UK-based
Agric-Africa, registered the case on behalf of dispossessed local farmers at
the ICSID in Washington last year, demanding that President Mugabe's
government should uphold Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection
Judge Guillaume, a former president of the International Court
of Justice and a designee of the government of France to the ICSID panel of
arbitrators, will preside as the casting vote in the case.
The Zimbabwe government appointed Zafar as their arbitrator
while farmers chose Cass to represent them.
The centre was established in 1966 as an affiliate of the World
Bank to provide facilities for the arbitration of disputes between member
countries and investors who qualify as nationals of other member countries.
The Zimbabwe case is number 74 out of the 104 cases that are
before the tribunal.
A group of 11 dispossessed Dutch farmers took their case for
compensation in respect of confiscated land to the tribunal, claiming more
than US$15 million.
The case was filed by Bernardus Henricus Funnekotter and others,
and then registered by the tribunal on April 15 under Case Number ARB/05/6.
"We are claiming in excess of US$15 million as compensation for
improvements, land (title deed value) and expropriated moveable assets,"
Funnekotter said this week.
"The Zimbabwe Government will be responsible for the payment of
the claim, which at present is accruing interest back-dated to the time they
expropriated the land, and they have to pay in the currency of the
nationals - which would be euros."
He said farmers want to prove that both governments signed and
ratified the Bippa agreement and show the inappropriate methods used by the
Zimbabwe government to take possession of their land.
Funnekotter said Zimbabwe has been pushing for the arbitration
to be held in Harare citing problems of foreign currency shortages.
"The Zimbabwe government asked for the venue to be in Harare
pleading a pathetic reason as being short of foreign currency, which was
denied," he said.
"Anyway Harare would be an unfair venue for the Dutch
More than 60 Dutch farmers were forced off their properties
despite the fact that they were protected under a Bippa, ratified by
President Robert Mugabe in 1996.
There were about 1 000 Dutch nationals, 70 of them farmers, in
Zimbabwe before 2000 who grew flowers on land that was protected by the
Under the agreement, government had promised to pay full
compensation to Dutch nationals in the event of a dispute arising out of an
investment in Zimbabwe.
Should the ruling by the tribunal favour the applicants, it
could set a precedent for similar claims against government in international
courts. The centre's rulings are enforceable in 140 states that have
ratified the organisation's convention.
The Dutch claimants are being represented by Wiley Rein &
Fielding in Washington, Bishop & Sewell in London, and by Coghlan Welsh &
Guest in Harare. Agric-Africa chairman Bob Fernandes used to work as a
property evaluator in Zimbabwe.
BANK executives were this week scrambling to contain imminent
bankruptcies in the financial sector which lurched into an unprecedented
crisis following Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) measures compelling
financial institutions to take up a new form of bonds meant to mop up
liquidity on the market.
Market sources said with between 85% and 90% of deposits locked
up in bonds and statutory reserves, banks were having little room to acquire
new trading assets.
The Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (BAZ), a consortium of bank
executives, was this week understood to be mobilising market participants,
including asset management firms, against the measures which had ignited a
cash crunch in the financial sector.
They were still to come up with a position by yesterday,
according to market sources, indicating, however, that a clear position
would have been taken by the time RBZ governor Gideon Gono returned from a
trip to South Africa next week.
Sources indicated that financial institutions were this week
left washed up after paying out over $100 billion for Financial Sector
Stabilisation Bonds (FSSBs), whose take-up thresholds are determined by
balance sheet sizes.
The institutions had already splurged $65 billion to buy bonds
under initial thresholds.
They are expected to spend a further $130 billion for another
five-year bond called the Economic Stablisation Bond (ESB), a move likely to
hurl them into technical insolvency.
The RBZ, which last week increased the holding thresholds for
the five-year FSSBs for financial institutions, again increased the
thresholds this week.
Holding thresholds for the five-year FSSBs, which had been
increased from 10% of the balance sheet size as at September 30 for
commercial banks to 15%, were increased further this week to 25%, while
merchant banks, which had moved from 7,5% to 12,5%, had their FSSB holdings
increased to 22,5%.
Financial houses, building societies and discount houses, which
had their holding thresholds increased from 5% to 10%, last week, were
instructed to increase their holdings to 20% while asset management firms,
which were compelled to hold bonds amounting to 7,5% of their balance sheet
sizes after a five percentage points increase, were this week told to
increase their holding thresholds to 17,5%.
Banking sector executives indicated yesterday that there was
pandemonium in the sector as many institutions braced for what they
anticipated to be imminent closure of financial institutions as a result of
the central bank's measures.
They said with 45% of their balance sheets in bonds, most of
them were already insolvent as they were now "completely" unable to give
depositors their money back on demand because all funds were now tied up in
the bonds and statutory reserves.
The new bonds plus money locked up in statutory reserves meant
that commercial banks had very little of depositors' funds left on their
books. One analyst said the banks had locked up between 85% and 90% of
depositors' funds in the new bonds and statutory reserves, leaving them with
very little cash for business.
Sources indicated that the cash crisis was highlighted by the
fact that banking institutions were already competing for deposits ahead of
today's deadline to fully comply with the central bank's demand for
prescribed bonds holding thresholds.
"Most of the banks do not have cash and are competing for
depositors' funds to raise enough cash to buy the FSSBs to meet prescribed
thresholds. It's going to be worse when they start buying ESBs to comply
with the November 17 deadline for institutions to meet their prescribed
holding thresholds," a bank executive told businessdigest, declining to be
named for professional reasons.
BAZ president, Pindie Nyandoro, was yesterday unavailable for
comment as she was reportedly busy with crisis meetings with bankers.
Above their FSSB holdings, commercial banks will be compelled to
hold ESBs amounting to 20% of their balance sheets while merchant banks will
have to take up ESBs equivalent to 17,5% of their balance sheets. Finance
houses, building societies and discount houses will be forced to hold EBSs
equivalent to 15% of their balance sheet sizes respectively.
Asset management firms will be required to hold bonds equal to
12,5% of their balance sheet sizes. The balance sheet sizes used for ESBs
are as at October 31, while the balance sheet sizes used for FSSBs are as at
CHINESE investors have put up a strong bid to reopen Mhangura
Copper Mine (MCM), shut down in 2000 due to a host of problems, among them
poor international copper prices, businessdigest has been informed.
Mashonaland West governor Nelson Samkange told businessdigest
last week that his office has been flooded by requests for the mine despite
MCM's low reserves at the time of the closure.
Samkange said his office was working with the ZMDC and the
Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe (MMCZ) to find appropriate
investors for the former Johannesburg and Zimbabwe Stock Exchange listed
There were also promising deals to reopen Alaska Mine near
Mhangura, Samkange said, adding that during MMCZ's recent trip to China,
serious discussions were carried out regarding the closed copper mine.
"There are so many interested investors from China and other
countries who have talked to us but their offers are under consideration at
the Ministry of Mines. Whether they will be offered opportunities is up to
the government, but they are very serious," Samkange said without disclosing
MCM, a subsidiary of the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation
(ZMDC), owed substantial debts to various creditors when it closed down.
These included power company, Zesa Holdings, the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority
and rail transport operator, National Railways of Zimbabwe.
MCM's closure left about 1 500 workers out of employment while
its copper refinery plant which has the capacity to mill 4 800 tonnes per
month also winded up.
In 2000 MCM entered into a contract to treat 2 000 tonnes of
copper concentrates from Gecamines in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
and other Zambian mines but the deals were aborted under unclear
Several Chinese business delegations have toured Mashonaland
West, where the mine is situated, seeking investment opportunities since
China Aerotechnology Import and Export Company (Catic), which
sealed several deals across all economic sectors of Zimbabwe last year, has
announced its intention to invest US$400 million in the country's mining
sector in the next few years.
The rapid growth of the Chinese economy in the past decade has
unlocked high demand for copper in the mines, information technology,
automotive, construction and other industries in that country.
Chinese companies have resuscitated closed mines in Zambia's
However, there are high incidences of mine accidents in that
country, a situation analysts said had to be considered by those
spearheading MCM's deals.
About 150 workers died in Zambia last year in gas explosions in
a Chinese-run mine in the copper belt.
In 2004, 6 000 workers died in Chinese mines while 3 800 workers
were killed in Chinese coal mine accidents in 2005.
The Chinese government last year moved in and shut down 4 000
mines which did not meet the required safety standards at the end of 2005.
ECONOMIC research and consultancy firm Techfin Research has
forecast Zimbabwe's embattled domestic currency's fair value by year end at
$814,15 to the US dollar, against $250 to the greenback fixed by the central
bank in August.
The frail currency would reach a fair value of $1 058,39 to the
US unit at the start of 2007 and end the year at a fair value rate of $16
588,73 to the US dollar, the research firm's computations obtained by
businessdigest this week indicated.
The projections support gloomy forecasts made by the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) suggesting Zimbabwe's economic crisis in
likely to accelerate at an unprecedented rate next year.
The IMF expects inflation to average 1 216% this year and a
record 4 278,8% next year, with real gross domestic product (GDP)
contracting by 5,1% and 4,7% in 2006 and 2007 respectively.
Zimbabwe has experienced a cumulative GDP decline of 30% between
1999 and 2005.
Year-on-year inflation as measured by the all items Consumer
Price Index fell by 181,3 percentage points to 1023,3% in September 2006
from a record high of 1204,6% touched in August.
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono devalued the local currency on
the official interbank market to 250 against in greenback in July from $101
to the US unit and suggested that an Exchange Rate Impact Assessment Board
(ERIAB) would be established to review Zimbabwe's currency value
periodically in line with economic fundamentals.
Gono re-introduced the interbank system, which has had several
adjustments meant to curtail market-determined exchange rates, in October
last year after experimenting with the auction system which it adopted in
The auction system was meant to restore stability in the foreign
exchange market which has been overtaken by the parallel market.
While the exchange rate on the auction system was allowed to
adjust periodically, critics said it had been of little benefit to exporters
because the adjustments were not realistic and did not allow exporters to
In a mini review of monetary policy on October 9, Gono skirted
the issue of the establishment of the ERIAB and left the exchange rate
unchanged at $250/$1.
"We believe that it's necessary for the exchange rate to be
adjusted regularly in line with the inflation developments in order to keep
exports viable," Techfin Research said in its weekly report to professional
The company said it expected the exchange rate to remain
unchanged until the next policy review.
This is likely to be in December soon after the budget proposals
Techfin Research said it expected Gono to devalue the local unit
to $1 000 against the US dollar on the official market and that the official
rate should be adjusted gradually during the year to end at $5 200/$1 by
The domestic currency is currently trading at $1 500 to the US
dollar on a thriving parallel market.
ANNUAL broad money supply continued on an upward trend, rising
to 862,6% in July from 779% in June driven by an increase in domestic credit
which grew by 924,7% to $154,8 billion during the period.
Analysts said the high money supply growth and increased credit
expansion was likely to fuel inflation, already topping 1 000% year-on-year.
Statistics released by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe this week
showed that the country's money supply, which opened the year at 520%, had
increased by 342,6 percentage points inside six months to record 862,6%.
"It's an understatement," said John Robertson, commenting on the
new money supply figure. "The figure does not include the $120 trillion
printed to buy foreign currency to pay the IMF (International Monetary
Robertson's comment reinforced entrenched fears among economic
players that official money supply growth figures, as well as inflation
figures, have been understated by a bureaucratic system to understate the
gravity of the country's economic woes and subdue any potential for social
Money supply is the generation of new money - in other words, an
addition to stock of money already in circulation.
While the major reason for such growth in Zimbabwe has been
credit to the government, banking institutions have become major
contributors to government debt through statutory reserve requirements and
recently introduced economic and financial stabilization bonds.
The large chunks of money from banking institutions at the
Reserve Bank have largely been lent to the government to meet its expenses
or used by the central bank in quasi-fiscal operations propping up ailing
parastatals or the struggling agricultural sector.
Gono has previously said high growth in money supply had been
occasioned by money printing to buy foreign currency to settle foreign debts
or pay for critical import bills.
"Net claims on government contributed 53% of the domestic
credit, mainly in the form of Treasury Bills," the central bank said in a
report accompanying its latest figures.
Quasi money and narrow money for the period under review also
shot up to 892,1% and 868,9% respectively, from 769,6% and 763,2 June.
Metropolitan Bank's group economist, Brains Muchemwa, said the
new money supply growth were high.
"The large increases are a reflection of how the monetary bases
in the economy are ballooning," said Muchemwa.
He said high domestic credit to government had been the major
driver to increased money supply growth. Analysts said money supply was
likely to grow at an unprecedented rate next year due to increased domestic
borrowing by government to meet its expenditure commitments unlikely to get
enough from shrinking revenue streams.
A CONFEDERATION of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) board member has
accused Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono of expropriating
foreign currency proceeds from exporters despite assurances that there would
be no forced liquidation of foreign currency accounts (FCAs).
CZI national executive board member Julie Bonet told
businessdigest the industrial board was disappointed by Gono's latest
directive demanding 7,5% of exporters' receipts stashed in FCAs.
In his mid-year monetary policy review, Gono said exporters and
gold producers could retain 70% of their foreign currency proceeds in FCAs
indefinitely, rather than for 30 days under ruling currency retention
regulations then under which they were obliged to liquidate any unused
balance into the interbank market.
Gono had said the measures, aimed at bringing normalcy to the
country's operating environment, would enable "all exporters, including
horticulture and gold producers.to keep their FCA balances indefinitely
without fear of forced liquidation by either the central bank or authorised
"Our main disappointment was the governor's recent appropriation
of 7,5% from exporters. This is another clear indication of continued
shifting of goal posts," said Bonet.
Bonet said the new measures, part of Gono's mini policy
adjustment two weeks ago, had resulted in severe foreign currency
procurement problems for industry in the import of raw materials.
"Whilst we appreciate the dilemma governor Gono and government
find themselves in, we however find it increasingly difficult to maintain a
steady forecast that enables the purchase of raw materials and inputs
required for both local and export markets," said Bonet, adding: "We are
told the 7,5% is for fuel and energy, but where is the infrastructure to
enable exporters to access government-procured fuel?"
In his mini policy review, Gono said the country's energy sector
required redress to support productive activities and proposed the
establishment of an Energy Sector Stablisation Fund which would receive its
proceeds from exports.
Gono said he would direct 10% of all exports towards that fund.
"Because of the absolute necessity to guarantee electricity and
fuel availability, we should ensure that the country had adequate fuel and
power," Gono said.
Zimbabwe is currently going through its worst crisis in history
characterised by acute foreign currency and fuel shortages that have
disrupted the normal functioning of the economy and stocked inflation to
record high rates.
Gono said in his mini policy review that fuel remained
"inadequate for everyone, particularly for leisure requirements, though
there is enough for critical elements of the economy such as agriculture".
Many motorists have been grounded due to the acute fuel
shortages. Parking of vehicles for weeks in long queues at fuel stations in
anticipation of fuel deliveries has become a common feature in the country.
THE philosophy of economic integration has for long been the
ultimate goal of the Southern African Development Community (Sadc).
And like other economic blocs such as the Common Market for
Eastern and Southern Africa (Comesa), it has been driven by the desire to
become a strong player in the global economy.
Sadc is striving for similar achievements as the European Union
(EU) in the establishment of a eurozone in 1992.
But economic commentators say in the case of the EU, the ideal
was successful because the 25-member grouping had stable economies and the
political will to support the integration process that took decades to
Sadc appears sapped by a plethora of problems as member
countries are at various stages of economic growth.
Zimbabwe, a key member of the economic grouping, has also
suffered six years of instability caused by rampant economic mismanagement,
corruption and political abuses among the ruling elite.
Those impediments need to be removed before any significant
headway can be made towards hanging together as a regional trading bloc.
There are several stages that Sadc has to achieve before
establishing a free trade area (FTA), which analysts say could be delayed by
the situation in Zimbabwe. These include the establishment of a customs
union, a common currency and harmonising exchange rates.
If these plans are rolled out by 2008 when Sadc's 14 members are
expected to form a FTA, the plan will turn the bloc into one big economic
family similar to the EU.
Such moves would do away with many barriers to inter-state trade
such as visa requirements and tariffs.
But with economic and political refugees stampeding into
neighbouring countries from Zimbabwe, the hosts might feel opening their
borders as part of FTA could open the floodgates and degrade the quality of
life of their citizens.
Countries making up Sadc are Zimbabwe, Mozambique, South Africa,
Botswana, Namibia, Angola, Zambia, Mauritius, Tanzania, Malawi, Madagascar,
the DRC, Swaziland and Lesotho.
Analysts say a lot of work has to be done for the 14 countries
to achieve an FTA in the next two years. These countries have to adhere to
strict deadlines that they set for themselves.
The deadlines include the establishment of an FTA by 2008, a
customs union by 2010, a common market by 2015 and a common currency by
Last week, Sadc leaders met at an extraordinary summit in South
Africa to review progress towards the establishment of the FTA as the
countries move towards streamlining their investment policies.
Zimbabwe, Botswana and Swaziland signed the protocol on trade
and foreign investment at the summit, bringing the signatories to 10.
While the treaties have been signed and progress appears to be
on the horizon, the economic crisis in Zimbabwe has provided an obstacle as
some member countries still feel that the country's economic indicators will
make integration impossible.
Commentators say integration can only be smooth if the economies'
budget deficits are not higher than 5% of gross domestic product. The
central banks of integrating countries' financing of budgets must not exceed
10% of the previous year's budget.
"There are so many requirements for integration into the FTA.
But looking at the situation, Zimbabwe's ability to meet the requirements
will be elusive," said Isaac Kwesu, lecturer in the Graduate School of
Management at the University of Zimbabwe.
He said it would be difficult, for instance, for Zimbabwe to
achieve single digit inflation by 2008 given the deepening crisis.
Inflation must be in single digit figures and to allow for
smooth integration, member countries' gross foreign currency earnings must
secure three months' import cover while central banks must be autonomous.
Zimbabwe has failed to stock enough foreign currency.
The country hardly manages foreign currency reserves to keep it
running for a month.
Unlike most Sadc countries, Zimbabwe's central bank is facing
mammoth challenges in controlling foreign currency inflows, speculation in
banks and in capping interest rates.
It is also forced to finance annual subsidies for the country's
corruption-ridden parastatals, bloating budget deficits.
Zimbabwe's financial services sector is coming out of a two-year
crisis, a position analysts say could militate against the swift convergence
of banking regulations across Sadc as the regional grouping moves towards a
common currency scheduled for 2018.
Kwesu said the Sadc integration project would face similar
barriers as encountered by Comesa, whose integration into an FTA might start
materilising at the end of 2007.
Business leader and president of the Zimbabwe National Chamber
of Commerce Mara Hativagone this week said industry was pinning hopes on the
FTA, which is seen as a solution to the resentment local companies are
facing in neighbouring markets, especially in Zambia, Malawi and Botswana.
In 2002 Zambian companies campaigned to block cheap commodities
like sugar, tea and cement from Zimbabwe that threatened the survival of
In 2003, Malawi made frantic efforts to halt Zimbabwean exports
into that country, raising excise duties from 15% to 20%.
Mineral-rich Botswana has been hostile to cross border trade
These are signals that Zimbabwe's isolation, which started with
the European Union and the United States, is silently spreading into
"Barriers are there but remember there are bilateral trade
agreements between Zimbabwe and other countries in the region," Hativagone
said. "Sadc is not yet an FTA but we are moving towards the FTA. So we will
benefit from the relaxation of trade controls."
Although there were attempts to gloss over these shortcomings in
South Africa last week, Zimbabwe's six-year economic crisis is wreaking
havoc on the region's stability.
Sadc is worried that plans to boost economies would be hurt by
negative sentiments towards Zimbabwe, but Sadc chairman Pakalitha Mosisili
dismissed the concerns.
He said Sadc would develop programmes to offset any contagion
from Zimbabwe's economic crisis.
"We are saying we need to be seen in total as a region, instead
of the outside world singling out the one member and saying because of
member X we will not invest in Sadc," he said.
Southern African economies are at various stages of economic
development with Zimbabwe battling with negative economic indicators.
Inflation is hovering at 1 023%, the budget deficit at 56%,
interest rates of around 400% and crippling shortages of fuel, food and
other key requirements.
The International Monetary Fund predicts Zimbabwe's inflation
could hit 4 000% by the end of 2007.
So, as President Robert Mugabe put pen to paper in South Africa
last week, his advisors should have reminded him of the implications of his
signature - that Zimbabwe's economic indicators are out of sync with the
Across the region, inflation is between 3% and 17% while
Zimbabwe's figure stands at over 1 000% - an unsustainable discrepancy.
By Pedzisai Ruhanya
ATTEMPTS by some sections of the church led by Zanu PF religious
sympathisers to legitimise the norm-violating regime of President Robert
Mugabe by crafting what they view as the solution to the crisis in Zimbabwe
through their so-called National Vision document should be interrogated,
demystified and rejected on the basis of its failure to locate causes of the
country's national decay.
While some leaders of the church have a right to rehabilitate
the decadent Zanu PF regime that has authored the national crisis, they
should not mislead the country into believing that their sectional interests
reflect the national mood.
Firstly, the misguided church leaders and Zanu PF praise-singers
miss the point by failing to understand that the country has numerous people
with vision bar the Zanu PF leadership. It is therefore clear that the
country has visionary leaders and what is needed is a constitutional and
institutional framework to implement the abundant vision Zimbabweans are
There is therefore an urgent need for a constitutional overhaul
in the country in order to create a Zimbabwe that everyone can be proud of.
A constitutional framework is necessary to implement that vision because a
regime whose powers are not restrained is a danger not only to the country
but even to itself.
This is so because governmental power which is essential to the
realisation of national values including the so-called vision that the Zanu
PF-associated church leaders are calling for should be controlled in order
that it should not be destructive to the national values that any civilised
and democratic government is established to promote.
There is no governmental restraint in Zimbabwe and most critical
institutions in the country are appendages of the executive. This is what
Zimbabweans should concern themselves with in constitutional reforms.
The principle of constitutionalism rests on the idea of
restraining government in its exercise of power. The abuse of human rights
in Zimbabwe is a result of an unrestrained government.
After Independence, the Zanu PF government killed thousands of
innocent Zimbabweans in the Midlands and Matabeleland provinces because
Mugabe's regime was answerable to itself and not even to the Zanu PF
controlled parliament. More recently, especially after 2000, many
Zimbabweans have died through state-sponsored violence while some of the
culprits such as the Central Intelligence Organisation operative Joseph
Mwale still remain free because of executive protection.
Zimbabwe needs a total overhaul of its governance structure
through constitutional reform, not the so-called National Vision document
that the church leaders linked to Zanu PF are talking about. Contrary to
what the church leaders that visited Mugabe are saying, it is critical that
there be regime change in Zimbabwe because without a fundamental change in
the institutional and governance structure of the country, the national
crisis will continue.
The church leaders need to appreciate that when people talk of
regime change, they are not necessarily saying the government or President
Mugabe should be overthrown. This is a parochial definition of regime change
that is associated with bootlickers of the regime. A regime is a set of
rules, norms and values by which a society or government is organised.
When Zimbabweans say they need regime change, they are talking
about governance changes which include constitutional reforms. The regime
that we need to change in Zimbabwe is a regime that celebrates and values
murder, violence, rape, militarisation of state institutions such as the
Grain Marketing Board, electoral manipulation and other vices.
If the leader of the country and his government celebrate or
entrench such vices, then they will be part of the regime change. Surely any
Zimbabwean who argues that the country should not change a violent regime
that encompasses murder in its governance structures needs urgent medical
If the church leaders want to convince Zimbabweans that regime
change is wrong, then there is a need to question their religious intentions
in this matter. They need to appreciate that regime change goes beyond the
mere removal of a leader and the government, it goes to the heart of
governance. This means a leader of the government such as Mugabe can effect
regime change although it is impossible in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe can do so by working with others in the country to
overhaul the institutional and governance regime in the country through the
establishment of a democratic state via constitutional reforms and sea
changes in the political culture of Zimbabweans where people desist from
creating political enemies among each other and where political diversity is
celebrated in the country and not denouncing others on phantom allegations
of selling-out the country as a cover up for political failure.
These church leaders' aim is to make the people of Zimbabwe
accept that the Zanu PF government is the legitimate authority in Zimbabwe.
It could be lawful or legal but definitely not legitimate.
It has been argued in political science discourse that power can
be said to be legitimate to the extent that it conforms to established rule,
the rules can be justified by reference to beliefs shared by both the
dominant and subordinate, and there is evidence of consent by the
subordinate to the particular power relation. Those who argue that the Zanu
PF government is a legitimate regime must satisfy these criteria. In my view
the current political situation since 2000 indicates that the Harare regime
is not legitimate.
The first and most basic level of legitimacy is that of rules.
It is argued that power can be said to be legitimate in the first instance
if it is acquired and exercised in accordance with established rules. These
rules may be unwritten, as informal conventions, or they may be formalised
in legal codes or judgements. In the case of Zimbabwe, during election
times, rules are broken with impunity, judges are harassed, lawyers are
beaten up while journalists are banned and newspapers bombed. A government
that is born out of such a process cannot be called a legitimate regime.
These are the issues that the church leaders need to make Mugabe appreciate
in order to gain legitimacy both at home and abroad.
It is therefore plausible to argue that on its own, legal
validity is insufficient to secure legitimacy, since the rules through which
power is acquired and exercised stand in need of justification. Power is
therefore legitimate to the extent that the rules of power can be justified
in terms of beliefs shared by both dominant and subordinate, the governors
and the governors. In Zimbabwe, there is dispute over how Zanu PF acquired
its power and therefore the regime cannot be said to be legitimtate
For power to be fully legitimate, then, three conditions are
required: its conformity to established rules; the justifiability of rules
by reference to shared beliefs; the express consent of the subordinate or of
the most significant among them, to the particular relations of power.
In the case of Zimbabwe, the leader derives power through
violence, fear and other vices hence my contention that the Zanu PF
government is illegitimate because it fails to meet the criterion of a
legitimate government. A government that disenfranchises its citizens living
abroad, that harasses judges, bans newspapers and forces its citizens to
vote for it cannot be called a legitimate government.
The church leaders need to deal with this illegitimacy by
encouraging Mugabe to return the country to democratic legitimacy before
they talk about their national vision document.
* Pedzisai Ruhanya is a human rights researcher.
By Ellen Kandororo-Dingani
THE strength of any democracy depends on citizen participation
in issues of governance. In a democracy, governance and attendant issues are
the people's responsibility. Voters have a duty to hold their leaders
accountable primarily as citizens and moreso as taxpayers. Therefore,
failing to vote is tantamount to an abdication of one's democratic right and
The recent rural district council elections - including the
Kadoma mayoral poll where a paltry 8 000 people voted out of 42 000
registered voters - were characterised by monumental voter apathy. This
brought into sharp focus the critical issue of voter apathy in our electoral
In order to appreciate the importance of voting, the electorate
must know the critical issues and understand how the governance system
works. Citizens have to be able to work together to be effective
politically; they have to be involved enough to know the importance of their
vote and to convince others to do the same.
It is an old democratic tenet that the voting habit is learnt
through civic involvement. This raises the difficult issue of how to
convince people to spend time getting involved in isues concerning their
local community if they can't even take part in the less burdensome activity
The answer is to ensure that involvement is directly linked to
decision-making. Voter apathy dilutes the value of democracy hence the need
to encourage participation. The challenge is how to achieve this when there
are so many hindrances to participation.
Of late there have been much deliberations on voter apathy.
There are various factors affecting levels of voter turnout throughout the
Some of the factors as cited in a working paper (June 2006)
drawn up by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral
Assistance were weather, length of time between elections, electoral system,
physical access to the polls, the nature of the electoral event - where for
instance turnout is lower in local authority elections and referendums as
compared to national elections, though not invariably the case.
In Zimbabwe there are a number of issues contributing to voter
apathy. During some of the community workshops that the Zimbabwe Electoral
Support Network (Zesn) has been holding, participants cited factors such as
fear, threats and intimidation, lack of knowledge as well as dissatisfaction
due to deception and false promises by candidates as responsible for apathy.
Deception by candidates recurred at most workshops as another
major factor among socio-economic problems including poverty and lack of
confidence in the electoral system. Some cited the lack of integrity of
election results, ignorance, discontent with the electoral playing field and
Disenfranchisement of voters has become an endemic problem
facing electoral processes in developing countries, Zimbabwe included. For
years, Zesn has been lobbying for the postal voting system to be extended to
all Zimbabweans outside the country. An estimated population of more than
3,5 million Zimbabweans are in the diaspora. This suggests that Zimbabweans
outside the country have no right to determine the destiny of their country.
As if that was not enough, in September 2005, Constitutional
Amendment (No 17) Act, declared certain categories of people as non-citizens
who would not be able to vote in the senatorial elections and any other
future elections. These were classified as aliens, people who since December
31 1985 have been regarded by virtue of a written law as permanently
resident in Zimbabwe.
In addition people born of foreign parentage or one of whose
parents was born out of the country and did not renounce their alleged
foreign citizenship in terms of Section 9 of the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act
(Chapter 4:01) as amended by the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Amendment Act,
2001, (Act No 12 of 2001) and the Citizenship of Zimbabwe Amendment Act,
2003 (Act No 12 of 2003). People who by any other means are citizens of a
foreign country and did not renounce their foreign citizenship in terms of
Citizenship of Zimbabwe Act were also
Those affected were mostly descendants of migrant workers who
came into the country as labourers or domestic workers on white-owned farms
and in suburban homes and Zimbabweans of European descent. Media reports
showed that, by the time the senatorial elections were held last year, the
Act disenfranchised over 150 000 voters.
During the 1999 Botswana general elections, in an effort to
widen the franchise, the voting age was reduced from 21 to 18, usually an
enthusiastic age group, though politicians argued that the youth have no
idea whether, or for whom to vote. But the effort itself is commendable and
is worth emulating.
The decline in voter turnout has been seen as reflecting a
relatively uncompetitive period of national politics. There is no reason not
to expect voters to participate in greater numbers once elections become
more competitive and more meaningful. A theory supported by the notion is
that those people who say there are no important election issues at stake
are much less likely to vote.
The apparent refusal by government to extend postal voting to
Zimbabweans in the diaspora has lowered turnout and the apparent reluctance
in applying proposed reforms by civic organisations are certainly steps
Anything which persuades people to voluntarily engage in the
democratic process should certainly not be dismissed and this also includes
ensuring that there are no long queues on voting days, registration periods
are continously open as well as making people realise that politics is
important in their everyday lives by providing them with adequate
information. Unless politics becomes more relevant to people the big picture
still looks bleak.
Much thinking on participation seems to have limited relevance
to the reality of what it means to be a citizen in a mature democracy. We
still hold a rather quaint notion that people should participate because it
is a good thing to do; it makes us better citizens. This may have been
alright in ancient Greek politics, but research has shown that this does not
wash in modern democracies.
The appeal of politics and voting should not be made on the
grounds that it is a higher need, we need to recognise that it must compete
with other pressures. It needs to become as relevant, attractive and
rewarding as watching football or going out for a meal. This is not a call
for making politics more gimmicky, its relevance should be based on what it
can deliver for the individual and their community.
A major long-term issue then is how do we lower the barriers?
How do we make our system one that encourages people to vote? I never use
the term apathy in regard to voters because, generally, I don't think it's
the voters' fault. I think our government has the first responsibility to
make the system one that welcomes people.
As is the case in Zimbabwe, for instance, voters' registration
as provided for in the Electoral Act is a countinous process, but it is only
publicised and open for inspection when there is an election. However, this
fact is not well publicised and as a result people who want to register as
voters only do so when the voters' roll lies for inspection and moreso, some
fail to inspect because of transport problems, ignorance on the importance
on this exercise among many other issues.
A positive first step would be to identify those issues which
tend to excite the public and invite them to the debates. A truly
independent electoral commission should be put in place, and with the help
of interested local civic bodies, intensively educate the electorate on the
importance of participating in elections, voting in particular or conduct
what I call "voter maximisation campaigns". Such publicity should be taken
to the so called grassroots and every one above the age of 18 should have
access to such crucial information. Reasons of participating in governance
issues should be clearly laid out to the electorate.
* Ellen Kandororo-Dingani is a journalist and Zesn's media and
IT came as a surprise to hear early this year that men of the
collar are taking it upon themselves to "help" the nation out of the mess
that it is currently in.
Hopefully, they are all on the same political front because one
dreads to think what would happen if they were to be of different political
However noble their efforts might seem to be, they cannot change
anything despite how thick the document they presented to the head of state
Don't take me for a pessimist, but we by all means try to be
realistic, churchmen are for the pulpit and not politics.
Politics breeds hatred between the contending parties and the
main Christian attribute is love, thus the two are just like water and oil,
one cannot mix the two with any success.
Churches that have left politics ought to be commended for they
do not risk muckraking God's name by either of the two contending parties in
the Zimbabwean political spectrum.
Have these churchmen that have resorted to "solving" political
problems facing the country forgotten that Christians look to God's Kingdom
as the solution to human problems and not human governments?
Come Sunday these clergymen will be saying their common prayer:
"Let your Kingdom come, let your will take place on earth as it is in
Oh what a striking paradox - mere parroting, their acts show
that these words do not come from their hearts when they say them. If these
priests-cum-politicians' service is to remain "spiritually clean", they
ought to choose their side.
If Jesus said that "My Kingdom is not of this world", then why
are His followers sticking their noses into politics?
It's time that these men cut their proverbial tails if they are
to gain respect from the general public.
* Learnmore writes from Belvedere, Harare.
"THIS document is an invitation to all Zimbabweans and all
friends of Zimbabwe to dialogue with us so that we can together define a
national vision of the Zimbabwe we want, and agree on strategies on how to
get there," the document drawn up by Zimbabwean churches and presented to
President Robert Mugabe last Friday, states.
"The document holds no brief for any political party or
preconceived political agenda," it says. The vision the document seeks is of
a "Zimbabwe that will be shared by all, owned by all, and loved by all its
citizens regardless of religion, tribe, race, gender or political
The discussion document explains in its preamble the problems
that the country has faced since Independence and how the national decline
"assumed exponential impetus" with the launch of the hurried and unplanned
land reform programme.
"This has manifested in the denudation of professionals and
skilled personnel through a massive brain drain into the diaspora,
hyperinflation, widespread shortages of essential inputs and basic
commodities, decline in agricultural and manufacturing productivity,
shortages of foreign currency, escalating corruption, flight of foreign
investments, rampant black marketeering in anything ranging from foreign
currency to scarce commodities, declared and undeclared sanctions and
dwindling tourist arrivals," the document says. All this has translated into
a growing population of urban and rural poor, which has in turn led to
"national despair and loss of hope".
We found the document unusually forthright coming from an
ecumenical organisation in pointing out the ills afflicting our society. It
condemns "political intolerance, violence with impunity and lack of
transparency and accountability" as major obstacles on the road to
democracy. The clerics point out the problems caused by laws like Posa and
Aippa when they note that "legislation that inhibits peaceful assembly and
the free flow and exchange of ideas impairs the efficacy of participatory
They also point out the almost inevitable deficiencies of the
Lancaster House constitution which they say "was not inspired by the
collective consent or consensus" of the people of Zimbabwe.
We were therefore shocked when President Robert Mugabe declared
that the Lancaster House constitution was "sacrosanct" and "non-negotiable".
This was most strange coming from Mugabe who likes to lecture
the nation on home-grown economic polices and a home-grown opposition. But
soon it was clear. The clerics were right so long as they mentioned all
other ills under the sun except "circumscribing" the president's term of
office. All the 17 amendments to the constitution have served to entrench
Mugabe's power and it has therefore become sacrosanct.
Which people is President Mugabe talking about when he says "we
fought and people died" for the Lancaster House constitution?
Unfortunately there are many people who have not read the
clerics' discussion paper but have started showing the same polarised
intolerance that they condemn in Mugabe and his government.
The bishops stated categorically that the document was no more
than a position paper for Zimbabweans to discuss the kind of nation they
want without being dogmatic about anything. But we are witnessing irrational
prejudices being allowed to cloud reason about their motives.
It is not for the church to say Mugabe must go. It is enough
that they have called for a new constitution and a limit to presidential
terms, which is what infuriated Mugabe after he was presented with the
At the risk of going beyond their mandate, they pointed out most
of the egregious laws that all opposition parties and civil society groups
say need to be repealed or amended. Why should people want the churches to
adopt a confrontational position with Mugabe when what is needed is national
dialogue? What have all the pseudo-radical formations and political parties
that have declared Mugabe "illegitimate" achieved in the six years since the
But there was something even more significant in the prelates'
paper. By calling for national dialogue the church has shown that it is
looking beyond Mugabe. The vision that they envisage, one of democracy,
tolerance, accountability, plenty and of a Zimbabwe that is loved by all and
tolerates a diversity of opinion, is well beyond Mugabe. He can no longer
see beyond his current office. That is why he doesn't tolerate challenge.
But he cannot prescribe to the entire nation the Zimbabwe we should want.
More than that, Mugabe cannot stop the nation discussing the future it wants
for itself. He certainly can keep his "sacrosanct" constitution but that's
not what Zimbabwe wants.
Those prematurely attacking the church document need to exercise
caution. By tying our future to the removal of Mugabe from office we risk
throwing the baby out with the bath water. Just as there is life after State
House for Mugabe, there is life for Zimbabwe beyond Mugabe himself. Let's
all go back and read the document before we mislead people and excite
passions against the clergymen for collaborating with the establishment.
By Joram Nyathi
SUDAN is not all about the "long nightmare" in Darfur or the
Janjaweed militia. It is not all about General Al-Bashir's long dictatorship
and his fight with the SPLA of the late John Garang.
A Sudanese-born entrepreneur has set up a fund for African
leaders who dedicate their tenure to the betterment of the lives of their
people. It is the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership,
named after the multimillionaire entrepreneur who made his fortune in the
telecommunications industry in Britain.
Ibrahim is a worried man, like most thinkers who have watched in
horror as the hopes and expectations raised by the advent of Independence in
Africa have been dashed and national resources have been personalised and
squandered by a few people in the leadership.
Many have looked in shock as liberation heroes have transmuted
into unconscionable, predatory despots as poverty and tyranny got
entrenched. Beyond the slogan of one man, one vote, many Africans have never
enjoyed the prosperity that Independence promised.
Ibrahim seeks to achieve two things: first African leaders must
commit themselves to the welfare of their people. So far, he believes, many
of them want power for its own sake or to enrich themselves.
The purpose of the fund is to reward leaders who score highly on
an objective index of performance indicators such as sustainable economic
development, human development in health and education, participatory
democracy, integrity, respect for human rights and the rule of law to ensure
the security of the person.
He says Africa is in its current mess because it lacks a
visionary leadership that cherishes ethical behaviour, frowns on corruption
and is keen to lift Africa beyond a beggar continent.
The second focus is to encourage African leaders to relinquish
power at the end of their terms of office. He believes that most African
leaders face the spectre of poverty after they leave office, hence the
obsession with amending constitutions to prolong their rule. Too long a stay
results in unethical behaviour and corruption. The aim of the fund is
therefore to assure such leaders that there is life after State House.
The prize will be offered every year to a leader who excels in
the performance indicators and is ready to leave power after his term. The
leader will get US$5 million a year for 10 years. This is followed by US$200
000 a year until death. He is also entitled to US$200 000 annually for
Ibrahim praises especially Botswana for its attempt to foster a
strong democratic tradition from the time of Independence in 1966 to today
despite its limited natural resources - diamonds. This, he believes, is a
result of a leadership committed to peace and the belief that national
resources belong to all the people.
The country has been rewarded by having its previous president
Sir Ketumile Masire appointed to chair the African Leadership Council which
will award the first Mo Ibrahim Prize next year.
Under successive governments from Sir Seretse Khama to incumbent
President Festus Mogae, Botswana has won praise for its stability, adherence
to the rule of law, respect for civil liberties, tolerance for diversity and
plurality of opinion and fostering entrepreneurship. This is in sharp
contrast to a number of sub-Saharan countries that have been subjected to
dictatorships of varying degrees from Hastings Kamuzu Banda of Malawi to
Uganda's Idi Amin.
Ibrahim has known the depredations of despotism at close
quarters coming from a country where General Al-Bashir has been in power
since the 1989 coup. He has enough experience of conflict over resources as
a result of the protracted war waged by the SPLA in southern Sudan over oil
The current crisis in the western Darfur region is but a part of
the trauma that Africa's largest country has gone through since
"Mo Ibrahim has a vision to promote and recognise good
governance that will drive Africa's political and economic renaissance,"
said former South African president Nelson Mandela of Ibrahim's attempt to
make the African continent livable for its 800 million people.
But there are still problems ahead despite these sweet
inducements. Africa has many leaders who have no qualms about emptying
national coffers for personal enrichment and then want to rule until death
for fear of prosecution. Others believe ruling forever is the prize the
nation must pay for its "freedom". They are the only capable guardians of
the nation's sovereignty. This appeals to the egocentric leader who believes
he is indispensable.
While it is possible that some leaders may strive to win marks
for delivering on education, health and employment creation, Ibrahim is
arguably wrong in thinking that the long stay in power has anything to do
with poverty among African leaders. Quite the contrary, most of them stay on
as an insurance against prosecution for corrupt self-enrichment, as we have
seen with many of Nigeria's rulers or Frederick Chiluba in Zambia, or for
human rights violations in the case of Charles Taylor of Liberia. The
culture of selfless service is still alien to African politicians.
In addition to a robust civil society movement, Africa needs
strong parliaments that are able to defend the country's laws against a
self-serving executive. A vibrant concept of separation of powers should
manifest itself in significant tension between the three arms of state with
each fighting against undue encroachment to defend its turf. The Zimbabwean
parliament's current coquetry towards the executive only entrenches the
perception of a rubberstamping institution. The judiciary is no better,
which is a disaster for democracy and a serious drawback for Mo Ibrahim's
By Vincent Kahiya
TOOK time this week to read through the National Vision
discussion document prepared by three ecumenical groups in Zimbabwe and
presented to President Mugabe last Friday.
After reading the 50-page document, titled The Zimbabwe We Want,
I was left in no doubt that some of the critics of the initiative by the
churches, especially those having a go at individual prelates, had not read
the whole document. The attacks were bereft of substance largely because the
critics have not focused on the contents of the document but have elected to
critique the process by which the paper was created.
The critics have also premised their objection on the fact that
the authors of the documents had tea with President Mugabe. They have
therefore become allies of the regime. There is no doubt that some of the
clerics deify President Mugabe but this deity was not at all very pleased
with the document.
Government spin-doctors have, as expected, tried to make the
document appear to be a celebration of Zanu PF's rule and an outright
endorsement of President Mugabe's omnipotence. It is not.
For example state media reported on the criticism the document
levels against unpatriotic Zimbabweans. They quoted: "Some Zimbabweans have
unfortunately become very unpatriotic in their thinking, words and
behaviour. They refuse to see any good in their nation, or to work for the
welfare of that nation. This may be in part because we have not taken the
development of national values seriously."
This nugget was however conveniently omitted: "Patriotism does
not mean that we develop uniformity in our thinking, culture or political
party. Citizens should be able to constructively criticise their government
without fearing that they will be accused of being unpatriotic."
It is definitely not the sort of document that will send the
president into ecstasy. As a discussion document designed to trigger
national debate on the future of this country, the ecumenical submission
contains useful detail for national discourse. The tragedy of Zimbabwe today
is that the quality of national debate has been prejudiced by our failure to
study issues. We are enmeshed in the politics of personalities: Who authored
the report? Who presented it to him? Who was sitting next to the president
at the presentation ceremony?
To some, the same document would have been acceptable if it had
been authored by the Christian Alliance or the opposition who have both
ironically raised a vast array of issues contained in the ecumenical
These include the need to repeal Aippa and Posa, guaranteeing
the Independence of the judiciary, respecting the rule of law, political
tolerance and the setting up of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The
clerics also want a fair electoral system in which the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission is seen to be "impartial and not amenable to political pressure".
One aspect that Mugabe found offensive in the document was the
churches' call for a home-grown constitution which would among other
measures "circumscribe" the powers of the president to deal with Zanu PF's
The president's fist-waving last Friday and pronouncements about
the constitution falling in the realm of "non-negotiable" interests are a
precursor to how the presidency will respond to the document as a whole.
"We fought for it (the constitution), our people died for it.
There could never be another constitution so dear, so sacrosanct," Mugabe
The president's statement is significant in that it sends the
message that the destiny of this country should not be decided by the
people, but by the willingness of those in authority to parcel out power.
The people cannot demand power.
Isn't it amazing that the same President Mugabe who has told us
that the people will decide on the political future of this country has the
temerity to tell us that the issue of a new constitution is
While the clerics have come up with a template for the Zimbabwe
we want, President Mugabe is keen to preserve "his" Zimbabwe. Remember the
September 2002 speech at the Earth Summit in Johannesburg.
In his Zimbabwe, a new constitution is not welcome because it
would not only dilute his power but also make him appear like he is
succumbing to the whims of the National Constitutional Assembly.
Demonstrations are not permitted in his Zimbabwe hence he
condones the beating up of labour protestors by "his" security forces.
In his Zimbabwe, Posa is crucial to deal with any dissent.
"We cannot amend Posa when we are under an onslaught from
institutions which are causing mayhem and anarchy in the country," Justice
minister Patrick Chinamasa told this paper two years ago.
That is not the Zimbabwe we want. The Zimbabwe we want is one
where citizens are allowed to be forward-looking and demand to be governed
diligently. Will a new constitution wipe away the fact that there was a
protracted armed struggle in Zimbabwe?
Church-going Zimbabweans who believe this country's problems
cannot be resolved until there is a change of regime should say so when they
next meet their faith leaders.
According to reports published in the Herald after they met
President Mugabe last week "the church leaders reaffirmed their commitment
to Zimbabwe as a sovereign country and expressed their opposition to illegal
Did they? Did they say the current regime which beats up and
tortures its opponents is okay with them? Did they say a regime that has
induced nationwide poverty and rendered thousands homeless is also okay with
And do they not understand that by using the language of the
regime ("illegal regime change") they are discrediting their project?
"They emphatically distanced themselves from Reverend Levee
Kadenge's Christian Alliance describing it as a fringe organisation," we are
Did they also dismiss the whole democratic movement as a fringe
organisation, we wonder?
Admittedly, Mugabe's officials were feeding the Herald with
their spin on events and sections of the National Vision such as those on
democracy, good governance and participation are well-crafted. But one can't
help but feel there is an element of naivety, if not open collaboration, in
much of the project.
For instance, we have this facile statement: "Some Zimbabweans
have unfortunately become very unpatriotic in their thinking, words and
behaviour. They refuse to see any good in their nation or to work for the
welfare of the nation. In order to develop patriotism certain features of
the nation must be regarded as a common heritage of all Zimbabweans. These
must include our history, our heroes, the national constitution, flag,
national anthem, defence forces, the civil service national holidays etc."
If that is true, the project is doomed from the outset. The
country's history is a matter of intense debate, as recent statements by
Vice-President Joseph Msika show. How many educated people accept Zanu PF's
version of events? Must we accept the likes of Chenjerai Hunzvi as a
national hero? And the crafting of a new constitution is the aim of all
Zimbabweans apart from Mugabe and Zanu PF. So is depoliticisation of the
defence forces and civil service.
(Mugabe's propagandists told us in 2000 that constitutional
reform was a vital national necessity if we were to throw off the debris of
colonialism. When he lost the referendum his ministers told us reform was no
longer a priority. Now Mugabe tells us the Lancaster House constitution is
We hope the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, which is riddled with
collaborators, the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, and the Evangelical
Fellowship of Zimbabwe understand these obvious objections and are not
allowing Zanu PF to hijack their enterprise with its discredited and
The ongoing land redistribution process is "irreversible", the
clergymen say. Does this mean Zanu PF chefs get to keep their ill-gotten
gains? Does it mean army and police chiefs, judges and journalists get to
hold on to farms they have been awarded for their assistance to the regime?
And do the church leaders really believe that the 17 amendments
to the constitution "signify efforts to address the shortcomings of the
Lancaster House Constitution"?
We need to know these things. At least they got it right when
they said issues of human rights and governance had impacted negatively on
the image of the country and that a credible independent land commission was
essential to ensure transparent, equitable and fair land redistribution.
Apparently, Mugabe waffled on for 75 minutes. His written speech
was full of sweet reason. The rest was the usual posturing. He doesn't
appear to know that the expression "majoritarian" is now regarded as
What do the churchmen think they can gain by talking to the EU
about sanctions? What can they do to remove the political violence and
electoral manipulation that led to those sanctions?
It looks to us very much as the prelates have compromised their
mission by attacking clergymen committed to democratic reform and allowing
Mugabe to impose his own narrow frame upon the exercise. He talked about
consensus emerging "some day". Exactly when is that?
You have got to hand it to the Herald. They manage to see a
silver lining behind every dark cloud. They have now convinced themselves
that Britain has arm-twisted all 25 EU countries to follow its lead on the
sanctions issue; that most EU countries are opposed to sanctions but Tony
Blair cracks the whip and they all fall into line!
That leads Herald editorialists to state that the constraints of
group solidarity prevent member states from "telling Mr Blair to build
bridges with Harare".
What this tells us is that Herald writers have absolutely no
idea how the EU works or what the sentiments of the various members are.
Yes, it is true that countries like Portugal are "wobbly" on the sanctions
issue. So are Greece and Italy. They always have been. But is it seriously
suggested that Blair carries such enormous clout in Europe (and the
Commonwealth for that matter) that his word is law? Is the Herald unaware of
the rivalries that are constantly at play in the EU and how many states miss
no opportunity to have a go at the Brits because they are not "European"
And can you imagine the French easily succumbing to anything the
British propose? Very simply, for any country to get a consensus on policy
is a Herculean task and it can only be done if there are good grounds and a
reasonable measure of majority support. Don't take our word for it. Ask any
But Britain has an important ally in its sanctions policy -
President Mugabe. Just when Zimbabwe looks like it is slipping off the
political radar and the sanctions momentum is faltering, London can rely on
Mugabe to make a speech like he did in Cairo a few weeks ago which appeared
to endorse police violence against trade union leaders. That will make it
impossible for the French, Portuguese and others who say sanctions don't
work to speak up the next time the issue comes up for consideration.
No EU government is saying to the British "build bridges with
Harare" at the present time because there is no pressure from their various
publics to do so. On the contrary, there would be stiff resistance.
Meanwhile, Blair's spokesmen will no doubt be delighted to hear
that their boss is viewed in Zimbabwe's official media as the Master of
Europe. This will come as news to the British public. And Jacques Chirac may
have something to say about it!
Two cellphone stories in the Sunday News caught Muckraker's
attention this week. The first involved pupils at a Hwange school who were
caught exchanging answers by phone to their Integrated Science paper during
an "O" Level exam. The school has informed Zimsec but doesn't seem to know
what else to do. Perhaps they should call somebody. Meanwhile, Muckraker
would like to know if this is a first for Zimbabwe: an Integrated Science
practical involving cellular communication!
The other story involved a man who had a puncture at Mbembesi
and used his phone to summon help. He had difficulty finding a signal at
first but then discovered that if he sat on the railway line he could get
through. Sadly, he didn't hear the Bulawayo-bound train coming.
NRZ spokesman Fanuel Masikati offered his condolences but said
he managed to welcome people aboard the train.
"They were all fine and arrived safely."
This sounded a bit like: "And apart from that Mrs Lincoln how
was the play?"
Joke of the week: Tafataona Mahoso's claim in the Sunday News,
referring to the so-called Media Ethics Committee, that "the overwhelming
majority of the people of Zimbabwe, when we went around the country, wanted
regulation including the journalists themselves".
You can imagine thousands of people in Nkayi and Buhera carrying
posters saying: "We demand media regulation."
Mahoso refers to the Unesco Declaration of 1978 without telling
us what happened to it, a significant omission. And he criticises the local
media for not doing enough to promote the "Look East" policy. That, in all
seriousness, is what he thinks newspapers should be doing!
He also has no time for journalists who say people are cutting
down firewood instead of farming but can't prove it because they have no
car. Why can't they hop on a bus, he asks?
This is the same Mahoso who drives around in a 4X4. He claims
ZUJ was the first to challenge the legality of Aippa. In fact it was IJAZ.
And can he prove his claim that IJAZ was a beneficiary of Dutch aid?
We were amused by his claim that the Independent Xtra section of
our newspaper which he says carries pictures of "Madonna and some people
from overseas", is being challenged by Zimpapers' Trends magazine which
features local content such as gospel musicians and dancers from the galas.
We took a look at Trends and liked the article headed "My
breasts are real - Dolly Parton".
Mahoso thinks Phillip Chiyangwa should be involved in setting up
newspapers rather than "floating" (flaunting?) his wealth by importing a
Regarding further regulation of the media, such as the Internet,
Mahoso said "anything that is digitalised can also be controlled. It is just
a question of getting the technology".
Don't say you weren't warned!
The Sunday News interview, while a tad long, contained much that
was useful. However, the interviewer could have enlightened us further by
asking Mahoso what contribution he thinks he made to the liberation of
Zimbabwe. And why certain aspects of his Sunday Mail column, African Focus,
appear to mirror views expressed by his colleague Nathaniel Manheru? We hope
the ex-Poly professor is still able to think for himself. We would not want
him to become Polly Parrot!
We enjoyed the story on the front page of The Voice in which
Zanu PF's information secretary Nathan Shamuyarira was "outraged" by a
report in the Standard alleging members of the ruling party's politburo were
not happy with substandard goods from China.
Shamuyarira might be right that the politburo never condemned
Chinese goods as substandard. Unfortunately that alone doesn't make them any
better. He said such reports "were malicious and outrageous" as the Chinese
"have always been our friends".
Needless to say "our friends" refers to Zanu PF politburo
members only, not workers in the textile sector and Bata shoe company who
have lost their jobs because Shamuyarira's friends have dumped their
substandard products on Zimbabwe. Significantly, one such product is a gift
MA 60 that apparently sits like an ostrich at Harare airport.
By the way, we hope Shamuyarira's indiscretion about Zanu PF
giving consideration to allowing Mugabe to stay on until 2010 also turns out
to be false.
We were struck by Harare Commission chair Sekesayi Makwavarara's
"dare me" look in the Herald as she swore to tell "the whole truth and
nothing but the truth" to the parliamentary committee on transport and
communications. She didn't tell anything to the committee until she was set
free. Let's see if there will be any change after the two weeks she was
given to return and explain what's going on at Town House.
Nelson Chamisa was right. "If the confusion that is being shown
in (Makwavarara's presentation) is the confusion in the city council, then
the residents are in trouble," he said.
We only wonder why it takes our MPs so long to appreciate voters'
By Eric Bloch
THE government has been vigorously opposed to devaluation of
Zimbabwe's currency to such an extent that when President Robert Mugabe
opened the 2002 mid-year parliamentary session, he said "advocates of
devaluation are saboteurs and enemies of the state".
There are undoubtedly many occasions when it is contrary to the
economic interests and the wellbeing of a country, but equally there are
occasions when devaluation is an essential element of economic adjustment,
which must be pursued if there are not to be immensely negative
repercussions upon an economy and, therefore, upon the populace dependent
upon the economy.
Regrettably, that incontrovertible fact has been repeatedly
disregarded by the government, and any suggestions that Zimbabwe devalue its
currency are scathingly castigated with insinuations that they are driven
only by personal interest, as distinct from those of the nation, and that
they are therefore verging on the thresholds of treason.
There are probably three key reasons for the government's rigid
opposition to devaluation.
The first is a deep-seated conviction that devaluation fuels
massive inflation, to the prejudice of the populace, of commerce and
industry and of the government. That conviction is normally not devoid of
foundation, for an immediate consequence of devaluation is that the landed
cost of imports rises commensurately with the devaluation.
However, for every rule there is an exception, and that is
certainly so in the case of the impacts that devaluation would have had upon
Zimbabwean imports since the millennium. The government studiously
disregards that the overwhelming majority of Zimbabwe's imports are not
funded through official currency markets, but through the alternative
"parallel" and "black" markets.
The premiums payable for foreign currency within those markets
are gargantuan, and therefore the feared devaluation- created inflation is
already sustained. Therefore, devaluation would have had only relatively
minimal inflationary impacts, and those would be more than offset by
compensatory factors, which are addressed later in this column.
The government's second ground of resistance to the pressures
for devaluation is that it is a major user of foreign currency, be it for
military imports, requirements of many prostates, funding of the numerous
embassies and missions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, inordinately
great foreign travel, or for many other purposes. If Zimbabwe's currency is
devalued, the cost of all those expenditures would rise exponentially,
severely swelling the state's mammoth deficits and recourse to borrowings.
The probable third reason for endless resistance to devaluation
is one of ego, for the government believes that devaluation is evidence of
economic failure and, as it believes itself to be omnipotent and infallible,
admission of failure is not an option, even if only an implied admission.
Governmental maturity is not sufficiently great to place national interest
ahead of its self-image, pride and ego.
However, when a country is critically dependent upon foreign
currency generation, because of its high import needs, and its economy is
suffering the ravages of hyperinflation, it cannot afford not to devalue its
currency, whether by way of exchange rate management, or by allowing market
forces to determine required rates.
The hard fact is that if the national currency does not devalue
to the extent of inflation, all exporter profitability is fast eroded, and
very rapidly none can afford to export. Since Zimbabwe last devalued
(relatively marginally!) its currency on August 1 to US$1: $250, inflation
has been at least 85%. With production costs of industry, mining and
agriculture, and operating costs of tourism, having risen by at least to the
extent of that inflation, and in some instances to an even greater extent,
the exporter now needs to generate approximately $470 for every US$1 to
cover the increased costs, and to be effectively in the same situation as
pertained three months ago.
The absence of inflation-related devaluation is the assured
death knell for exporters. Bankruptcy, closure of business, increased
unemployment, loss of downstream economic flows and cessation of fiscal
revenues become the unavoidable result of the failure to effect necessary,
ongoing, devaluations until inflation has been fully controlled and
And Zimbabwe's parlous insufficiencies of foreign exchange can
only intensify to even more horrendous levels than presently is the case.
The government regularly refutes those contentions, by charging that
whomsoever it has devalued Zimbabwe's currency, there has been no
enhancement to foreign currency inflows. It fails to recognise that that
enhancement cannot materialise overnight, and that three is a significant
lead time until forthcoming.
Once devaluation occurs, only if adequately so, the exporter
must first woo back the support of lost customers, and obtain export orders.
Then the exporter must source foreign exchange for required production
inputs. Thereafter the exports must be produced, shipped to the customer,
and payment obtained. Thus devaluation-stimulated foreign exchange inflows
can realistically only be anticipated to be forthcoming, at least four to
six months after devaluation. Moreover, in view of that lead time, the
exporter cannot afford to commit to customers solely on the strength of
devaluation, but needs to be assured that the exchange rate will continue to
move, in alignment with inflation, failing which the ongoing inflation
erodes all benefits of the devaluation between the date thereof and the
dates of execution of the export orders and receipt of payments. Exchange
rate constancy cannot be applied until such time as inflation is minimal in
The government also needs to recognise that the more it consigns
exporting and other foreign exchange generation to extinction, the more it
is fuelling inflation (to a far greater extent than any inflation as could
be attributable to devaluation). The lesser the availability of foreign
exchange within the official market, due to diminishing export revenues, the
greater is the dependency of the economy upon the alternative markets to
satisfy essential foreign exchange requirements, driving up the exchange
rates in those markets, with consequential enormous inflationary impacts.
In addition, the inadequacies of foreign exchange, due to
inadequate export revenues, result in low levels of productivity, with many
industries unable to source sufficient inputs to enable continuing, high
levels of production. Rising fixed costs have to be funded from reduced
volumes of production, sharply raising unit costs and, therefore, selling
prices. The inflation occasioned by those costs, and by the movement in
alternative market rates, due to non-devaluation, or inadequate devaluation,
vastly exceeds the inflation as would be the result of devaluation.
Over a period of time in which inflation has risen by over 1
000%, the exchange rate accorded to exporters has moved by less than 200%.
And that is despite the declared intent, in July, to establish an Exchange
Rate Management Board.
Since the announcement of the intended creation of that body,
nothing has happened other than that more and more exporters have been
brought to the verge of collapse, the economy has continued to decline,
foreign exchange availability has worsened markedly, inflation has continued
to sky-rocket, and nationwide poverty has become increasingly endemic. It is
long overdue for the government to remove its blinkers, discard its
ill-conceived misconceptions of devaluation, recognise realities, and
appreciate that devaluation has become a must for survival.
Unfairness of monopoly press evident at funeral
THIS week we buried one of Zimbabwe's most illustrious sons,
Ephraim Wise Chamba Kadyamatimba.
At his funeral Webster Shamu, Minister of Policy Implementation
in the President's Office, movingly narrated how Chamba had helped to shape
Zimbabwe by training broadcasters, musicians and dramatists at the then
Rhodesia Broadcasting Corporation, including the minister himself.
We all know how the minister's smooth voice, as Charles Ndlovhu,
moved this nation to greater sacrifices during the liberation war as he
broadcast from Mozambique. Chamba trained that voice.
Isn't it tragic that this same Ephraim Chamba who we all
recognise as a hero, died a disappointed and frustrated man? For well over
six years he, leading a small band of dedicated Christian men and women, had
worked hard to establish a radio station called Community Radio Harare.
Everything was in place, except government permission to start broadcasting.
Our intransigent and misguided government firmly refuses to open
the airwaves to private Zimbabweans. It jealously guards its monopoly over
the airwaves even to the most patriotic Zimbabweans who could really help to
educate, entertain and inform the people.
Chamba was deeply disappointed because he believed that for any
nation to develop and prosper, a free press and media are indispensable. I
know this because he had roped me into working with him as a member of the
Board of Trustees of Community Radio Harare.
I could not refuse because I believe in a free press as he did.
Also he was my advisor as a writer. He encouraged me a lot when, after being
arrested, I wanted to give up. He said to me: "Pius keep writing. Don't be
afraid. As long as you are telling the truth the Lord will protect you."
An example of the unfairness of a monopoly press is that at
Chamba's funeral I spoke together with Shamu and his words were reported
verbatim on ZTV in the evening. When my turn came, people just saw me
gesticulating, my mouth opening and closing like a mad person. They could
not hear what I said because it was blocked out. Is it fair that Zimbabweans
are not allowed to hear the truth?
Hazvinei. Famba zvakanaka yahwe. Fambai zvakanaka Maongera (It
doesn't matter. Go well pal). Go well Ephraim Chamba of the great Maongera
clan of Zimbabwe. The Lord will surely give you your deserved rest.
Those with ears to hear, let them hear!
Why are these exempt from Operation Murambatsvina?
EVERYONE witnessed the brutal assault last year on poor
people's dwellings by the city of Harare
together with central government under Operation
The lame excuse given for the horrendous operation at that
time was that they were targeting for demolition buildings and businesses
operating without the permission of the city council's planning authorities.
People's dwellings were mercilessly razed under this
excuse, but lo and behold, in the middle of the operation we have two
oriental restaurants - one Chinese at No 7 Kenny Rd and another Korean one
at No 9 in the same road operating in Kensington.
I know for a fact that residents in this street were never
consulted about this (as they should be according to the city by-laws)
conversion of hitherto residential homes into businesses and with all the
attendant alcohol-drinking and noise (karaoke) which is part of these
Are we to assume therefore that Operation Murambatsvina is
only applicable to locals - and poor ones at that - or that there is some
collusion between the city officials and owners of these institutions since
they are operating in brazen contempt of the city planning regulations?
Vision document will only delegitimise its authors
ATTEMPTS by elements of the church to go it alone,
ignoring their erstwhile partners in civil society, to engage with the
criminal and illegitimate regime are reactionary, collaborationist and
The fawning attitude demonstrated towards President Mugabe
by Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe bishop Trevor Manhanga are an insult
to those who are struggling for a new Zimbabwe.
The bishop is deluded if he thinks that Mugabe is capable
of engaging in genuine negotiations. Mugabe only uses such initiatives to
distract, delay and divide. He has no intention of addressing the crisis in
this country since that would require an end to his denialism and an
admission of culpability.
He will continue to mouth empty slogans and to blame the
blameless. The only outcome of this vision document will be to delegitimise
those churches and their leaders who are wasting their time engaging with
the criminals who have destroyed the country, its economy and its people.
The bishop and his colleagues would do better to pray than
to engage in false initiatives that serve no-one except the author of our
Pius Ncube remains a shining example of principled church
leadership that refuses to be co-opted by the regime.
The initiative is stillborn.
chairman, Combined Harare Residents' Association.
We surely can't suffer for Zinwa's sins
WHEN we condemned the formation of the Zimbabwe
National Water Authority (Zinwa) to run the water affairs of Harare, Town
House cried foul and accused residents of unfairly demonising the
Zinwa officials were invited to attend various
residents' associations' meetings in different wards but failed to fulfil
We thought it was too early to criticise the water
body and decided to give it time to produce positive results.
Today, Harare is running dry, thanks to our
"reputable" water body and the inefficient commission running the city.
When we consider the fact that Zinwa's first move
towards "improving" water services in Harare was to hike water rates to
unreasonable amounts, one would expect the water situation in the city to
have improved by now.
The exorbitant rates imposed by Zinwa and the city
of Harare are ridiculous and highly-unjustified to say the least.
The provision of water services in the city has
worsened since the animal called Zinwa was given the mandate to manage
Most residential areas in the city have been going
without the "drop of life" for weeks yet Zinwa was not even ashamed to
publish its timetable for water-cuts.
The Reserve Bank had to embark on a capital
injection programme to snatch the city from the jaws of hell, a situation
brought about by the dismal failure of Zinwa to deliver.
One wonders where all the money from the ratepayers
has been going if Zinwa is failing to pay for the treatment of water and
maintenance of its infrastructure.
How can we be told that there is a shortage of water
in Harare when the city is littered with numerous burst pipes of clean water
which have been left unattended for months, even years?
Water is being wasted through these burst pipes and
residents have been calling on Town House and Zinwa to attend to this
problem, but the two allies have turned a deaf ear to their pleas.
Whose fault is it then that a water shortage is
looming in Harare?
As residents we should refuse to suffer for the sins
of Zinwa. The unholy alliance between Zinwa and Town House has brought
Living without adequate water supplies is a health
and environmental hazard, and if this problem is not solved as a matter of
urgency, the city will be plunged into an environmental mess.
The performance of Zinwa leaves a lot to be desired
and the overzealous water body has clearly demonstrated its ineffectiveness
and irrelevance in management of water services.
As residents we want continuous water supplies
because we pay for it and it is our basic right.
The fact that water is in short supply is not our
problem but Zinwa's.
Leaders of Mutasa's ilk shouldn't be allowed
anywhere near public office
THE fact that our country is on a downward
spiral to becoming a failed state is indisputable.
With such tired ministers like Didymus Mutasa
(National Security) who have a propensity for shooting themselves in the
foot, one can only fear for the worst.
Asked recently about the fate of white farmers
in Karoi, Mutasa was quoted as saying: ".anybody with no permission to farm
will be prosecuted ."
Do people like Mutasa know what they are
doing? Are we not killing the goose that lays the golden egg?
When South Africa was under apartheid with PW
Botha at the peak of his reign, Chimurenga musician Thomas Mapfumo, sang:
"Botha anotaura seakasika munhu." (Botha brags like a creator).
And Mutasa is behaving exactly like that!
In a new Zimbabwe, with a new beginning, with
a new constitution, parliament should be given powers to vet, grill and
confirm ministers. People like Mutasa should never be appointed to any
Majonga was right, CBZ robbed itself
CBZ Holdings wasn't robbed by anyone but
itself as suggested by Darlington Majonga in his column, "CBZ Cup robbery"
(Zimbabwe Independent, October 27).
CBZ should not have sponsored the knockout
cup in the first place, but the league. Yes, you heard me correctly.
In as much as the league has its many
problems, there are several league matches that pull crowds, especially
those involving Dynamos and Highlanders not to mention the mining teams.
The problem with sponsoring cups is that you
run the risk of having big teams being knocked out in the early stages of
the tournament and then you lose out on the mileage that you had
It's as simple as that and there is no way
the league will be won by a "small team". It's "the big teams" that will win
They should have sponsored the league full
Great job chaps!
THE Zimbabwe Under-19 rugby team has done a
great job by qualifying for the World Cup and the nation should surely rally
behind the gallant Young Sables.
The team's technical department is as strong
as they come. Those guys (Brighton Chivandire, Godwin Murambiwa, Mzi Nyathi)
have been around rugby circles for so long and they are no doubt tried and
tested in rugby administration.
I played in the same team with the chaps
during Old Harareans' great years and their love for rugby is out of this
All the best chaps!
Muradzikwa not good material for CEO role
By G Mpofu
THE appointment of Henry Muradzikwa as chief
executive of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) has been met with
silence in the privately-owned media except for a letter "Corporate incest
at state media houses", (Zimbabwe Independent, October 20).
The only other reference in the state-owned
daily provided nothing more than reportage of the appointment. Muradzikwa's
role can be described as being responsible for the finances of the
corporation, the overriding management of divisions and staff and the ZBH's
public image, and its relations with those in government.
Muradzikwa is a journalist by profession and
will therefore find it difficult to exercise his authority as CEO.
It does not matter that he has held senior
positions in other media houses. Instead, he should have been appointed
Newsnet editor-in-chief. His familiar and comfortable territory will be the
broadcasting of news and current affairs, an area where he will obviously
easily interfere with the authority of the editor-in-chief.
He is likely to be phoned by the authorities
about what should be broadcast by ZTV and Newsnet rather than the financial
state of ZBH or the strategic manner in which it should be run as an
The relevant ministry should have appointed
a manager or administrator in the technical sense, someone with an
accounting/marketing/economics background as a first degree and a masters
degree in management and relevant experience as a senior executive.
Another mistake has been committed. The
previous CEOs, executive chairmen or director-generals (as previously
referred to) have been persons of journalistic training yet their day-to-day
activities involved dealing with structures, finances,
marketers/advertisers, licensing and ordinary management activities.
A media house would do well administratively
if its CEO is a seasoned professional manager.
Relatedly, ministers in Zimbabwe are busy
micro-managing state-owned institutions under them. They have failed to work
through the board of directors they appoint. Much of what they spend time
saying or doing should be done either by the board of directors or the CEOs.
If the board of directors and the CEOs are
not capable of performing adequately, one wonders why they were appointed or
kept in their positions.
* G Mpofu writes from Harare.