The ZIMBABWE Situation Our thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.

Back to Index

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent


Mugabe - please give us a break!

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's bluster last week during the opening of the
National Consultative Forum annual retreat in Gweru that multinational oil
companies should import their own fuel for distribution instead of relying
on the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) puzzled Muckraker in as
much as it inevitably shocked fuel companies themselves.

Mugabe, in a breathtaking admission of his destructive myopia and
policy-failure, said oil companies have to import fuel for resale to spare
him "head-aches" and "stomach-aches".

"The fuel comes in the name of the government," Mugabe was quoted as saying
in the government-controlled Herald. "When the fuel comes we are worried
about its duration, whether we have enough stocks. And what do we do? We
call in multinational companies. They sell and make profits. Government does
not make any profit. Twenty-two years, 22 years of playing this foolery.
They don't suffer from the head-aches and stomach-aches I suffer."

Coming as it did from someone who initially opposed deregulation of fuel
imports, this, of course, was alarming. It appears Mugabe's corrosive
misrule and economic mismanagement - which have reduced Zimbabwe's economy
into rubble - is now haunting the author of economic sabotage himself.

Imagine a president suffering from "headaches" and "stomachaches" due to the
effects of his own astigmatic policies and gross incompetence! That's how
contagious bad governance can be.

But the issue should not be Mugabe's "headaches and "stomach-aches" (why
should we care) but the impact of the fuel crisis on the economy.

Indeed, the fuel crisis is emblematic of Mugabe's short-sighted policies and
poor leadership. For years, government insisted it would not deregulate fuel
procurement because it was a "strategic" commodity even though common sense
dictated that a rigid grip on oil imports and a commercially-ridiculous
pricing system would be unsustainable in the end.

It was obvious to all economically-literate Zimbabweans that government's
oil procurement monopoly, just like all its other ill-advised economic
control measures, would be damaging and unstainable in the long run.

But it took Mugabe 22 years to realise this. It is true that it is
"foolish", as Mugabe admitted, for government to continue monopolising oil
procurement when a liberalised system would have eased the burden of
procurement on government and ensured a steady supply.

It could as well be too late for oil companies to come to Mugabe's rescue.
Obviously multinationals won't suddenly jump on to the yet-to-be formalised
deregulation bandwagon, if Mugabe's rhetoric is anything to by, because the
whole pricing structure of fuel in this country is fundamentally - flawed
just like government's entire policy regime.

Why would anyone source foreign currency at US$1 to Z$1 500 to buy a product
which would, due to exchange rate pegging, be sold using a distorted pricing
system in which it is bravely pretended that US$1 is equal to Z$55? What
sort of company would do this except, perhaps, the headquarters of official
corruption, Noczim?

It's now a catch-22 situation. Deregulation would certainly stoke imported
inflation and the ripple effects throughout the economy would be shocking.
The current hyperinflation rate of the Weimar Republic-era proportions would
surge if oil companies import and sell the product at market prices. When
this happens, the chickens of misrule will come home to roost.

Talking of economic decay, Muckraker would want to suggest that Zimbabwe
should for some months be closed down for renovations. If not refurbished
and turned around as a matter of urgency, the country will soon be facing
liquidation. Some cynics have been saying the UN should just declare
Zimbabwe a world heritage site or a giant national park and relocate its
people elsewhere!

Still on the fuel crisis, Mugabe, who only a year ago was claiming he could
not imagine who else could have managed the economy better than him (just
come to think of it), should have known better. If he can't use his corroded
common sense then he should use his scholarship in economics. Isn't he a
trained economist? Of what use is his BSc and MSc in Economics which he
obtained from the University of London if he can't understand basic
economics? It is ironic that ignorant economics is at the centre of Mugabe's
leadership failure.

But Mugabe's CV is not entirely bad after all. Given his experience in
ruining the economy, he could still be a consultant or lecturer in economic
vandalism when he retires or when he is smoked out by gathering democratic

"For how long shall I superintend this institution of tomfoolery?" Mugabe
had the temerity to ask. Muckraker has always failed to understand why the
president at times likes behaving like a blank clown. Why is he pretending
that his well-documented dereliction of duty and ineptitude have nothing to
do with the current fuel crisis?

Yesterday he was claiming the British were hijacking fuel ships at high seas
and that fuel companies in collaboration with white farmers were hoarding
the commodity. Now he is alleging the problem is that fuel enterprises are
reaping where they did not sow and are profiteering.

Surely, this chaotic official incoherence and obfuscation cannot go
unchallenged. Muckraker wants to advise the president that policy by
resolution or muddling through with a brave face can never work.

Maybe Desmond Tutu was right after all when he observed: "Mugabe has gone
bonkers in a big way." Tutu, may you give us an update on what you think of
Mugabe. Meanwhile, the president must give us a break please!

Last week the Herald's wooden journalists, Lovemore Mataire and Tim Chigodo,
in their analysis, or was it paralysis of analysis, quoted a Zesa librarian,
Freeman Dube, claiming that Zanu PF won because the people of Insiza voted
for irrigation schemes and "not good governance, democracy, and such
loud-sounding nothing terms".

Dube even went further to claim without producing evidence the MDC wanted to
use tribalism to win votes. Ignorant ex-Polytechnic librarians, who just
re-arrange and pile books without reading them, should stop approaching
issues with their loud mouths wide open and minds completely shut!

Another journalistic neanderthal who seems to think with his stomach, for he
is a hired eulogist, is the Sunday News' Herbert Zharare. Pontificating on
the outcome of the Insiza by-election, Zharare, who was apparently booted
out of the Mirror (of all newspapers) for incompetence, claimed the MDC made
a mistake by "aligning itself with Britain.while memories of the racist
white settler regime's brutality are still fresh."

Herbert, what is still fresh in the Insiza people's minds - Rhodesian
brutality or unmitigated Zanu PF atrocities? Rhodesians, for all their
savagery, never committed genocide in that region but Zanu PF did. Why didn'
t Herbert mention that? Let's hope his mind was open when he wrote his
sponsored balderdash.

Zharare was assisted in compiling his dangerous nonsense by UZ's maths
professor Heneri Dzinotyiwei who said the MDC has to co-operate with
government to avoid irrelevance. Who is irrelevant, the MDC or Dzinotyiwei
who was clobbered by Tendai Biti during the 2000 general election? By the
way, what happened to Dzinotyiwei's one-man party, Zimbabwe Integrated
Programme (Zip)? It appears it has been zipped and maybe it's now time for
the deadwood arithmetic professor to also zip his mouth.

What is the real name for ZBC's former Radio One? When Vision 30, whatever
it is, was launched last year, the station was renamed Sport FM. Realising
the folly behind the name, it was changed to Spot FM but recently it was
given yet another name, SFM. Why can't the garrulous Ford Foundation
professor decide what he wants to call "his" radio station? Even if he names
it MoyoFM, nobody would really care because people would still know it's not
and will never be his property.

Still on the professor, we got insight on the impact of his ubiquitous and
poisonous political influence on the country's education system. In the ZBC
Kidznet schools quiz programme Passmark last month, a pupil was asked who
Zimbabwe's chief justice was. The poor boy answered confidently: "Professor
Jonathan Moyo". Now here we are. Even secondary school pupils can see
clearly how Chief Justice Moyo has subverted the judiciary.

Zupco's chief executive Bright Matonga needs serious orientation in the
basic tenets of running a business. He exposed his absolute lack of
foresight last week on the programme "Face the Nation" when he declared that
his ramshackle was not geared towards making a profit but towards providing
a quality community service. He said the current crop of transporters just
wanted to make a quick buck at the expense of the travelling public. But
what social responsibility is Zupco providing - transporting Zanu PF
hoodlums to rallies free of charge or transporting members of the alleged
rapist Madzibaba Nzira's Johanne weChishanu sect to the airport to meet
President Mugabe?

Did those who lent Zupco money to buy buses from South Africa know that they
were lending money to an entity which is not really bothered about making a
profit? What did he put in his business plan? He wants to order new buses so
that Zanu PF supporters and other parasites can travel in style.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Winter wheat rots owing to late harvesting
Blessing Zulu
AGRICULTURE minister Joseph Made will this year be off the mark again with
his winter wheat forecast as the size of the crop has been affected by late
harvesting which has seen wheat rotting in the fields.

A much-vaunted project, the winter maize initiative in Masvingo spearheaded
by the provincial governor Josiah Hungwe, was a monumental failure as it
yielded only 7 500 tonnes of maize - enough to feed the nation for one day.

In September, Made said the government had availed $21 billion to buy the
current wheat crop. He said the money would also be used to hire combine
harvesters to harvest the crop.

President of the Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union, Thomas Nherera, told
the Zimbabwe Independent this week that the rains will affect the wheat

"The country was expecting 250 000 tonnes of wheat this year alone," said

"The rains that have been pounding the country are set to affect the quality
of the crop as farmers have been caught in the middle of harvesting. The
time for harvesting was delayed by lack of combine harvesters," said

Agricultural experts said Nherera's estimate of 250000 tonnes could be
produced on 45000 hectares. The experts said the estimates were far-fetched
since Zimbabwe's total irrigable land is 66 000 hectares of which 20 000 ha
were under barley while about 5 000 ha were under winter maize.

Vast swathes of irrigable land in Mashonaland West were not planted this
year due to disturbances on the farms.

The wheat crop has also been affected by the rains as new farmers could not
harvest their crop due to lack of equipment.

"A lot of wheat will be bought as good quality but ultimately it will be
used as stockfeed as it will not be fit for human consumption," said former
Grain Marketing Board boss Renson Gasela who is now opposition MDC
agriculture spokesman.

A tour by the Independent of prime wheat growing areas revealed that most of
the areas were not cultivated.

The areas that are normally under wheat are Hunyani Valley, the Great Dyke
area, Beatrice and Art Farm near Harare.

Another prime area between Mazowe and Bindura had hundreds of hectares of
unharvested wheat. New farmers desperate to harvest their crop were using

The growing of winter wheat, which is a controlled commodity, has also been
affected by the attractiveness of barley.

Barley is selling for $100 000 per tonne compared to wheat which is selling
for $40 000 per tonne.

"Barley is a more viable option than wheat and maize because one can easily
recover costs as it is not a controlled commodity," said one expert.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

Local politics resemble oldest profession

IT never ceases to astound that Zimbabwe's government can believe that the
population is so gullible and so naïve as to accept as fact the endless
outpourings of economic fiction that emanates from those in alleged control
of the country. In an age of inordinate shortages, the authorities have no
lack of inventive explanations for almost every one of the innumerable
economic ills that afflict Zimbabwe. In reality, however, those explanations
are invariably founded upon such great liberty in the use of fiction, in
contradistinction to fact, that they are generally received with total

Ever since the economic decline began in the last few months of 1997, those
in authority have come up with one imaginative reason after another as to
what has been the cause of the numerous occurrences and circumstances that
have been features of that decline, and amazingly, all of those causes have
been either acts of God - such as adverse climatic conditions - or have been
perpetrated malevolently by the vast array of enemies of the government, or
of Zimbabwe as a whole, or of the country's downtrodden, oppressed people,
or by those with self-centred, vested interests irrespective of the needs of
the nation. (Actually, in many cases, the last may actually be so, save that
it is not those that stand accused of that self-interest by government, but
those in government, or protected by government, whose self-interests
contemptuously disregard the fundamental precepts of integrity, compliance
with international norms of responsible, good governance, and of national

Malicious abuse of truth is perceived by them as an outstandingly effective
mechanism for diverting and deflecting attention from facts that would
incriminate those actually responsible for the overwhelming destruction.

The foremost examples of deception and misrepresentation in recent times
included the assurances in 2001 that Zimbabwe would have "more than enough
food", the responsible Minister emphasising that he had witnessed the
considerable crops flourishing "with my own eyes".

Months later that imminent lack of food was resoundingly attributed to the
devastating consequences of drought. But no one has yet explained how
government knew, as early as October 2001, that food shortages were going to
occur, that being four months before the drought set in, and yet government
was sufficiently prescient to launch its first appeal to the international
community for food aid at that early, pre-drought stage!

Another pronounced illustration of bureaucratic abuse of fact has been the
two recurrent explanations given for immense shortages of basic and
essential commodities.

Repeatedly, the population will be subjected to intensive attempted
brainwashing to the effect that the only cause of the shortages is that
evil, self-centred, profiteering capitalists are deliberately creating the
scarcities, maliciously depriving the populace of their vitally needed

The alleged motives of these wicked perpetrators of mass deprivation are
either stated as being political, they wishing to besmirch the image of the
ruling party, or to force the failure of government's seriously
ill-considered price control policies so as to extort ever greater profits
from the unjustly impoverished. And, invariably, these wicked industrialists
and shopkeepers pursue their diabolical intents by massive hoarding of those
goods which their customers so desperately need.

In making these specious accusations, the ministers, government spokesmen,
media puppets and party sycophants intentionally disregard realities. They
ignore the harsh fact that none can afford to manufacture or trade products
where the costs of doing so markedly exceed the ludicrous selling prices
prescribed by those ignorant of economic fundamentals, or driven only by
pleasing their superiors who are only concerned with political
self-preservation. They also ignore the fact that the extent of the
ostensible hoarding is frequently of such magnitude that it could not
possibly be logistically possible, requiring hectares of non-existent
warehousing and mythical storage tanks. Despite the blatant spuriousness of
the contentions, they are repeated ad nauseum, undoubtedly in a conviction
that falsehoods restated sufficiently frequently become accepted as truths.

Last week, government unveiled its pièce de résistance. For the last three
months it has striven to convince the populace that Zimbabwe's fuel supplies
were assured. It claimed that a further full year's supplies would be
forthcoming from its dearly-beloved, caring and understanding friend Libya.

The disclosures of this spectacular diplomatic coup did not include
particulars as to how payment would be effected by a country with a foreign
currency impecunity as manifest as Zimbabwe's. They also did not include
that non-payment would result in non-delivery. Instead, when the inevitable
delivery-interruptions provoked by non-payment rapidly occurred, the
desperate motoring public, transport operators and Zimbabweans as a whole
were told that there was more than enough fuel in the country. They were
told that the "No Fuel" signs on the forecourts of almost every service
station were in consequence wholly of the fuel distributors deliberately
withholding supplies in order to force government to agree higher prices and
greater profit margins.

All evidence pointed clearly to the contrary, but that was irrelevant to
those determined to conceal their own complicity in the mismanagement of the
economy and the sourcing of economic essentials.

Last, week, at the National Economic Consultative Forum's annual retreat,
government took the unbelievable a stage further. It stated that it was
foolish for it to continue procuring fuel for the international fuel
distribution companies, alleging that those companies reaped huge profits
while the state incurred large losses. Undisclosed in the vituperative
assault upon private sector multinational fuel distributors were numerous
facts, in an endeavour to "fuel" (sorry, "fool") all Zimbabwe, including

lThe establishment of monopolistic governmental fuel procurement occurred in
the pre-Independence era of the former Rhodesian UDI, the government of the
day perceiving that to be necessary in the circumvention of international
trade sanctions.

lThe immense losses being sustained by government are primarily due to a
combination of the consequences of extensive corruption, as identified
publicly by a previous Minister of Energy and Transport, and of government's
prolonged, obdurate refusal to increase fuel prices, because of the
political repercussions of consequential inflation. Those prices, in real
terms, are virtually the lowest prevailing anywhere in the world.

lThe great profits that the multinational oil companies operating in
Zimbabwe are said to be realising are, on the one hand, the result of
innovative and entrepreneurial business diversification to compensate for
the minimal, state-controlled, profit margins realisable on fuel, as and
when such fuel is available;

lUnder present conditions, the extent to which the multinationals can
actually benefit from any profits generated by their Zimbabwean subsidiaries
is insignificant, for the only opportunities of remission of the profits to
the holding companies is through the parallel market, reducing the amounts
receivable to levels meaningless in relation to the capital employed;

The presidential call for the Zimbabwean oil companies to have the fuel
imports funded by their foreign holding companies must inevitably be
rejected for reasons of good and sound business.

Which private sector company, established to give its shareholders a fair
return on investment, would apply its resources to supplying product to a
Zimbabwean subsidiary whose margins are unrealistically regulated by the
authorities, who are unable to pay for the supplies due to non-availability
of foreign exchange in an economy severely distressed by disastrous
governmental economic policies, and unable to distribute even the
parsimonious after-tax profits as may be achieved, because they too are
affected by the lack of foreign exchange.

Those politicians who have advised the President have misled him. Their
advices to him, and their public statements, give the lie to the belief that
politics is the second oldest profession. In Zimbabwe it increasingly bears
a very close resemblance to the first!
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Drought to worsen next year - UN
Mabasa Sasa
ZIMBABWE'S woes are likely to deepen next year as the drought is forecast to

According to the International Research Institute for Climatic Prediction
contained in the United Nations' bi-monthly Zimbabwe Humanitarian Situation
Report, the threat posed by El Niño has gone from "weak to moderate and
continues to increase".

This will impact on the entire region, which at the moment is failing to
feed around 14 million starving people.

The report says: "On this basis, Zimbabwe is likely to experience weather
patterns similar to the previous year when rainfall was too high from
November through December and too low from January."

An earlier report by the Sadc drought monitoring centre based in Harare in
September forecast there was only a 25% chance of the region receiving
above-average rainfall and a 35% probability of normal weather.

It said the region should expect a 45% likelihood of below average rainfall.

The famine, which in the Zimbabwean context has been exacerbated by a
damaging land reform exercise, has resulted in the World Food Programme
(WFP) and other agencies stepping in with aid. It is estimated that around
six million of the 14 million people who need food aid in southern Africa
are in Zimbabwe.

In its report, the WFP revealed plans to increase its food distribution
exercise in the country.

The November distribution plan calls for approximately 50 000 tonnes of food
to be distributed to some three million beneficiaries in 35 districts.

The WFP also said it planned to feed around 5,9 million people in Zimbabwe
by January 2003 but this would be subject to the generosity of donor

The report said in the past month the number of registered beneficiaries
entitled to food aid has been doubled to over 1,9 million - the vast
majority of whom had received aid from the WFP by the end of October.

The people who have found themselves most susceptible to the ill-effects of
the drought have invariably been primary school children and those under the
age of five.

A recently completed national assessment by the Vulnerability Assessment
Committee (VAC) revealed serious malnutrition problems in children under
five and prompted the government's Social Services Cabinet Action Committee
to allocate $5 billion for supplementary feeding schemes.

But this has encountered problems as there is no food to buy.

The report said health complications had arisen as a result of the current
famine and this included an outbreak of cholera in Masvingo in August and
more recently in Bikita where another death has been recorded.

The World Health Organisation has assisted with drug procurement, technical
assistance and the provision and distribution of diagnostic equipment at the
request of the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare.

The report recommended a short-term plan which entails an increase in food
imports, and a medium- to long-term plan which envisages an enhancement of
local production capacities.

Back to the Top
Back to Index



           PARALLEL RATE
            Botswana pula
            Japanese yen
            South African rand
            British pound
            United States dollar
Back to the Top
Back to Index


      Of Bob's headache and sore tummy

      Sydney Masamvu
      11/7/02 7:01:02 AM (GMT +2)

      PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has given an unexpected insight into his
anxieties over the parlous state of Zimbabwe's economy.

      The state-owned Herald newspaper last week quoted Mugabe as telling a
meeting of the National Economic Consultative Forum in Gweru how Zimbabwe's
deepening fuel crisis was giving him "stomach aches".

      "We crack our heads on importing fuel and have reports every Tuesday
about how much fuel we have in the country," Mugabe said.

      "And what do we do? We call in the multinational oil companies. They
sell and make profits. Government does not make any profits.

      "Twenty-two years in government, 22 years of playing this game of
foolery. They don't suffer from the headaches and stomach aches I suffer

      For a man known for his toughness against adversity and his love of
swimming against the tide, the disclosure by Mugabe was sobering.

      The confession - for that is what it was - should be seen in the
context of Zimbabwe's whole political, economic and social crisis that
threatens to end Mugabe's political career.

      The fuel crisis, just like the foreign currency and food shortages, is
merely a symptom of the bigger underlying problem.

      Mugabe's remarks were really coming from deep down the heart of a
troubled man.

      But they were also a warning to long-abused Zimbabweans to ready
themselves for more pain as the government admits what everybody else told
it ages ago: that it could never be able to subsidise the cost of fuel

      For those who may not have heard him clearly, the President was merely
telling Zimbabweans to prepare for more suffering to come once the key fuel
sector is opened up and prices go up.

      It will no longer be the President having headaches over fuel
supplies; it will be ordinary Zimbabweans who must now bear the headaches as
prices go up as business and commerce pass on the increased cost of fuel to

      These are the signs of heightened pressures against a once robust
economy after three years of disastrous economic mismanagement and political

      The issue of subsidising fuel was done to secure political power but
now the chickens, as they will always do, are coming home to roost.

      The headaches and stomach aches that Mugabe is having should not be
confined to the fuel crisis only but should indeed be about the very future
of the country.

      Zimbabwe's problems are not sectorial. Like a raging fire, they are
engulfing all.

      Whither Zimbabwe, or is it perhaps whither Mugabe?

      Mugabe's headache and sore tummy make the point that most in the
country are asking: should the President, after helping liberate Zimbabwe so
many years ago, just watch it collapse during his reign or gracefully bow
out? The choice is entirely his.

      The country's key commercial agriculture sector is virtually in limbo,
thanks to the so-called fast track resettlement exercise.

      The tobacco sector, which is Zimbabwe's cash cow, has crashed as well.

      More than half the population of Zimbabwe is starving as the country
has no food and is broke.

      The repression of political opponents has only served to switch off
Western financial and donor support, which is critically needed.

      Inflation has reached record levels of 139.9 percent, unemployment is
over 70 percent. The IMF is forecasting inflation of 522 percent by the end
of next year.

      As if this was not enough, the collapse of the national currency
accelerated sharply this week. The Zimbabwe dollar was trading at anything
above $1 500 to one US dollar on the parallel market.

      Everything that can go wrong in Zimbabwe has gone wrong.

      In the midst of these problems, which are causing headaches and sore
tummies, one thing is slowing dawning: we cannot go it alone, as some people
in the leadership would want to think and believe.

      Indeed we do not eat slogans nor do we have cars that are powered by

      We may call each other names at any given time, yes it is allowed. The
time for reckoning, as is happening now, will always come.

Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent


We will pay for fuel pricing madness
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's invitation to international fuel companies to save
the country from drying out is tacit acceptance of his government's failure
to deliver to the nation.

This is but part of the bigger picture of the country's inexorable slide
towards economic meltdown with him at the helm. That he should some 20 years
later suddenly discover that international oil companies have the capacity
and financial wherewithal to import fuel according to demand speaks volumes
of his style of leadership.

Oil companies have since the 1980s been calling for the deregulation of the
industry to enable them to import fuel, in the process saving the country
millions in hard currency. But government, dogmatic as ever, turned down the
offer on the grounds the fuel sector was a strategic industry which could
not be allowed to fall into the "wrong" hands. Yet throughout the world
successful governments avoid involving themselves in the importation of
fuel. Private enterprise handles this along normal commercial lines.

Today Zimbabwe has a petrol shortage which threatens to grind the sputtering
economy to a halt. The shortages reappeared with the appointment of Amos
Midzi as Energy and Power Development minister, replacing the able Edward
Chindori-Chininga who had held the post for three years. The move reflects
on Mugabe's judgement in his choice of ministers and tells us a great deal
about Midzi's organisational skills, recently on display at the Zimbabwe
Tourism Authority.

Fuel price increases are already in the offing, with analysts putting the
figure at around $750 a litre of petrol, up from the existing pump price of
$74,47 a litre and $66,39 for diesel. While the analysts' projections may
seem far-fetched, the reality is fuel companies, without access to cheap
foreign currency, will have no option but to hike the price to that
obtaining on international markets. Fuel costs US$0,50 a litre on the spot
market and with the Zimbabwe dollar trading at $1 500 to US$1, the $750
price tag is within sight. Added to this will be the Noczim debt which could
see the price peaking the $1 000 mark. And an increase in fuel pump prices
will see a domino effect across all industry. Prices of all basic
commodities will go up in tandem, inflation will shoot through the roof,
wages negotiations will have to be restarted and social unrest cannot be
ruled out as people fail to make ends meet.

Marathon meetings held this week between government and oil industry
representatives could not agree on the way forward, and the sticky issues of
sourcing foreign currency, the level of prices and Noczim's debt were the
stumbling blocks.

All this represents a severe indictment of Mugabe's fabled price control
regime which has manifestly failed to address problems of his own making.
The shortages of basic food commodities are already biting, and are bound to
get worse. Empty shop shelves are the order of the day in most retail
outlets, and those commodities under the price control regime are the most
difficult to find.

Of late the country has seen a number of items from the basket of
commodities disappearing from the shelves, only to reappear with a higher
price tag. Bread, salt, sugar, and milk are just some of the
controlled-price products which have proved unamenable to populist

Threats by regional electricity utilities to switch Zimbabwe off for
non-payment of debts must be giving Mugabe headaches as well. Even friends
like the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique's Cahorra Bassa are
clamouring for their dues. In the world of international finance there are
no permanent friends. Dollars - the greenback kind - do the talking.

Meanwhile, internal discontent is on the increase. It no longer matters if
one belongs to Zanu PF or the MDC - the suffering transcends the political
divide. There is anger throughout the country. And everyone - including
those in the inner circle - is aware of who is responsible.

"They (international fuel companies) don't suffer from the headaches and
stomach aches I suffer from," Mugabe said in Gweru last week when announcing
his policy change on fuel imports. Now he knows what it feels like.
Zimbabweans have been suffering headaches and stomach pains from the effects
of damaging economic policies that have failed everywhere they have been
applied. China long ago abandoned some of the more foolish commandist
policies adopted in recent years by the Mugabe regime.

Inflation, which has eroded the value of people's incomes, is the direct
product of a pattern of reckless borrowing and spending that has destroyed
enterprising companies and prevented new ventures. Controlling prices
without addressing the policies that lead to cost escalations in inputs is a
recipe for disaster. It produces entirely predictable economic distortions
just as a controlled exchange rate does. That Mugabe's ministers were unable
to acquaint their leader with the obvious consequences of price and
exchange-rate controls points to a paucity of both intellectual acumen and
backbone. How was he able to impose on cabinet policies that had failure
written all over them - not least because they failed here in the 1980s?

Mugabe has created his own fiscal prison and will now have to serve out his
term. There can be no parole or early release for good behaviour in this
case because the prisoner shows every sign of recidivism.

As social scientist Martin Gross said: "Government loses its claim to
legitimacy when it fails to fulfil its obligations." Mugabe's Gweru speech
was an admission of failure. It is manifestly not in the public interest for
the government to go on mismanaging the fuel sector. But if the private
sector is to be brought in, it cannot be expected to subsidise Noczim's debt
or submit to government's delusional pricing policies. Fuel will flow
feely - but at the market price and free of ministerial interference. We
will have to pay for allowing our rulers to go on getting it wrong for so
many years.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Mugabe works at securing immunity
Mthulisi Mathuthu
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, who faces the prospect of conviction for abuse of
office and human rights violations, is reportedly gunning for a two-thirds
parliamentary majority to amend the constitution to secure his immunity
after retirement.

Sources said the by-election campaigns which have seen Zanu PF deploy top
officials and its militia to secure victory for party candidates were part
of a drive to achieve a two-thirds majority to enable it to amend the
constitution and protect an embattled Mugabe from future trial.

The Zimbabwe Independent heard this week that Mugabe was keen to push
through a number of changes that would reverse the civic gains of the 1990s
and set the country back on the path to a one-party state.

Movement for Democratic Change secretary-general Wel-shman Ncube said the
current hype about by-election "victories" was part of a wider plan to
eliminate all forms of opposition.

"The real issue is about an evident fascist grand plan to obliterate the MDC
and all forms of opposition," Ncube said.

"So the two-thirds majority drive is not just about Mugabe's security but
about the creation of a one-party state."

The by-election system has helped the ruling party snatch back two seats,
Bikita West and Insiza, from the MDC bringing its majority to 94, short of
six to attain the two-thirds majority needed to amend the constitution. This
includes the 20 MPs appointed by Mugabe and 10 chiefs.

The two-thirds-majority drive involves facilitation of by-elections through
false arrests and conviction of opposition MPs.

Two opposition MPs, Flet-cher Dulini-Ncube of Lobengula-Magwegwe and
Tichaona Munyanyi of Mbare East, are facing murder charges which they have
described as trumped up. Former Zanu PF chairman for Harare province, Tony
Gara, has reportedly started campaigning in Mbare East.

Daggers are expected to be drawn between the two parties in the Kuwadzana
high-density area where a by-election looms following the death of former
MDC spokesman Learnmore Jongwe. A senior Zanu PF member confided to the
Independent that the party was registering the 17 000 squatters at
Whitecliff for the Kuwadzana by-election whose date is yet to be set.

Sources speculate that Mugabe wants Chapter 4, Section 30 of the
constitution, which sanctions legal action against him after retirement,

Zanu PF officials also suggest that Mugabe wants to work out a succession
plan which will see him bringing in a possible successor from outside the
parliamentary process.

Lawyer Brian Kagoro believes Mugabe intends to look for a successor who is
either outside parliament now or who has no constituency.

Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs, Patrick Chinamasa, said the party was
prepared to sweep all the by-elections because the MDC was already "dead"
but angrily denied plans to change the constitution.

"We will win all the by-elections but to say we want a two-thirds majority
to change the constitution is just like saying we want to do illegal things.
You are casting aspersions on us," Chinamasa said.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

South Africa "Hopelessly" Unprepared for Refugees

African Eye News Service (Nelspruit)

November 7, 2002
Posted to the web November 7, 2002

Justin Arenstein
Musina, South Africa

President Thabo Mbeki's soft-line on the growing crisis in Zimbabwe has left
South Africa hopelessly unprepared for any mass influx of either political
or famine refugees, a new hard-hitting academic research report warns.

The report, drafted by Wits University's Refugee Research Programme and
underwritten by the National Consortium for Refugee Affairs (NCRA), warns
that South Africa's refusal to commit politically on the crisis in Zimbabwe
has prevented government disaster relief agencies from accessing the
necessary funds or resources to prepare for a possible mass influx of

Senior government officials responsible for disaster planning excused their
inaction, the report claims, because preparations would have been
interpreted as acknowledging a brewing crisis in Zimbabwe and would
therefore contradict the Presidency.

"It would be interference in the internal affairs of a neighbouring
sovereign state," and "would create tensions bilaterally and within the SADC
region," the unnamed officials told researchers.

Refugee Research Programme director Hernan del Valle, who co-authored the
report, says the lack of political commitment ultimately resulted in the
finalisation of a disaster plan just one day before Zimbabwe's violent March
2002 general elections.

"But, even then, the final plan had a very limited scope, providing
assistance for only 1000 people for three days. It was presented only one
day before the elections, and even then there were still significant gaps,
such as how and by whom food, safe water, cooking fuel, electricity,
toilets, and fire protection would be provided," he writes.

"If a mass influx of refugees had indeed occurred, South Africa's response
would have failed to meet the basic needs of refugees, let alone conform to
international standards, and would thereby [dis]honour our commitments as a
signatory of international refugee conventions."

Del Valle adds that the lack of political commitment continues to fatally
undermine South Africa's attempts to prepare for any future refugee crisis
caused by growing hunger in Zimbabwe and elsewhere in southern Africa.

International agencies report that an estimated 12,8 million people in the
region are already at risk of starvation between now and March 2003. Almost
half these people are believed to be in Zimbabwe, with this percentage set
to increase in the wake of the meltdown of Zimbabwe's currency over the past
three weeks.

"Political considerations vie with logistical imperatives, and lead to a
distinct vacuum of political leadership for effective preparedness. Within
this context, it is unfortunate and incongruous that the preparedness
process in South Africa was broken off a few weeks after the elections,"
says Del Valle.

Other key failings identified by the report include South Africa's apparent
inability to appoint a lead government department or agency to co-ordinate
all disaster planning and budgets, resulting in haphazard and sometimes
ineffectual planning.

Although the home affairs department was mandated to co-ordinate all
preparation, Del Valle notes that argument about the impasse became so
heated that the public works department withdrew from all planning sessions
in protest.

The country's existing emergency relief regulations also currently don't
allow planners to access funding until after a disaster has been officially
declared -- undermining any attempts to put rapid response systems in place.

And, in a country with a propensity for xenophobia, authorities have also
repeatedly failed to consult with border communities or to publicly explain
South Africa's obligation to care for both refugees and asylum seekers.

In fact, Del Valle writes, South African police, army and home affairs
officials continued deporting Zimbabweans they believed to be illegal
immigrants during the election crisis.

"It is dangerous being a foreigner in South Africa. Zimbabwean immigrants,
whether asylum seekers, illegal entrants, or legal workers, are faced with
rampant xenophobia and a general atmosphere of hostility from citizens,
police and government officials. Needless to say, this atmosphere,
encouraged by institutional ambivalence, stands in contrast to the ideals of
protection and humanitarian assistance South Africa has obliged itself to
provide," says Del Valle.

Noting that the Zimbabwe election crisis was the first time South African
institutions needed to prepare for a mass influx of refugees, Del Ville
warns that any failure will severely compromise the region's only
superpower's credibility both within Africa and on the wider international

The report challenges government to learn from its bungled handling of the
Zimbabwe election crisis, and immediately implement a proposed 24 step
restructuring programme that will neutralise the impact of political
ambivalence during disasters and will create an early warning system, as
well as clearly defined lines of command, proper communication systems, and
coherent co-operation with both local and international aid agencies.

Home Affairs spokesman Lesley Masaokwe declined to comment on either the
criticisms or recommendations until after the department had studied the
full report.

Home Affairs acting director general Ivan Lambinon was also unaware of the
report on Thursday but insisted that the country's refugee planning had been
adequate and dismissed the report as 'uninformed' and 'confused'.

"We adopted a combined [responsibility] for preparations and although no
influx occurred, preparations were on the ball," said Lambinon.

The full Wits Refugee Research Programme report can be read online at
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Mugabe concedes failure on fuel

Godfrey Marawanyika

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has finally admitted government has no solution to
the fuel crisis and wants to pass the buck on to international oil firms
ahead of an unpopular, but inevitable, rise in the fuel price.

International oil companies, with no access to foreign currency at the fixed
exchange rate, will be forced to cost fuel at parallel market rates. Fuel
currently costs around five US cents a litre on the parallel market (using
$1 450:US$1) but amounts to US$1,38 when bought with forex sourced at
$55:US$1. Fuel companies could probably source fuel at below US$1,38 (it is
currently around US$0,45 a litre in South Africa) but at a straight parallel
market rate it would amount to more than $2 000 a litre.

The latest indication comes in the wake of last week's informal request to
international firms to import fuel on their own.

Despite an initial public pronouncement the authorities would not deregulate
the fuel sector since it was a "strategic industry" it has now become
apparent that government has run out of ideas on how to solve the crisis
that has haunted it since 1999. Government is currently swamped with
responsibilities which have to be financed in foreign currency. Analysts
said government wanted to concentrate on food importation hence the attempt
to dump the responsibility of importing fuel onto the private sector. Five
international players, Mobil, Caltex, BP Shell, Sasol and Engen are active
in the fuel field.

On Thursday last week, President Mugabe told multinational companies they
should now import their own fuel instead of buying the commodity from the
debt and graft ridden National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim).

Opening last week's National Economic Consultative Forum annual retreat in
Gweru, Mugabe said Cabinet was struggling to cope with the fuel crisis.

"We crack our heads on importing fuel and have reports (from Minister of
Energy and Power Development Amos Midzi) every Tuesday about how much fuel
we have in the country," said Mugabe.

"The fuel comes in the name of government. When the fuel comes we are
worried of the duration whether we have enough stocks. And what do we do? We
call in multinational companies. They sell and make profits. Government does
not make any profit. Twenty-two years in government, 22 years of playing
this game of foolery. They don't suffer from the headaches and stomach aches
I suffer from," he said.

The appeal has now raised more questions than answers among the business
community, consumers and retailers. Multinational companies want to know the
modalities of importing - what regulatory regime the government will put in
place and whether they will be allowed to determine the pump price of the

Of concern to the consumers is the possible increase of food and
transportation costs which would erode their meagre incomes, while for the
business community their concern would be that all goods would go up,
seriously impacting on profits and sales.

Analysts said even if Mugabe was not making a policy statement, the fact he
had raised the issue showed there was a crisis which his government had been
trying to dispel for the past three years. Industry watchers said the
government wanted to raise the price of fuel by removing the huge subsidy
that has seen prices depressed for over 18 months. A sharp fuel rise would
then be blamed on the private sector. Economists said there was potential
for greater problems in the fuel sector if the government was to liberalise.
They said the whole exercise hinged on the devaluation of the Zimbabwe
dollar and access to foreign currency.

"Government is harvesting 40% of forex receipts to pay for the energy
imports," one economist asked. "What will happen to that aspect when
deregulation comes in?

"How is that piece of cake going to be distributed. Who will benefit in the

Captains of multinational fuel companies based here this week said
liberalisation of the industry was likely to push some of them out of
business. They said the government was likely to come up with a quota system
that would be heavily tilted in favour of indigenous players who have been
clamouring for preferential treatment.

A Harare-based econo-mist who spoke on condition of anonymity said the
latest policy announcement is intended to push long-established oil firms
out of business as Noczim has been directed to give 75% of its fuel to new
companies while another 25% would be old, established oil firms.

"The system is so massively rigged to support the new fuel companies who
were granted licenses to import the commodity. This is a looting exercise
which will be backed by law which needs to be exposed," said the economist.

"This would give a massive advantage to other new firms at the expense of
old firms which would result in massive profits for new players as Noczim
has been directed to give priority to new companies instead of the old
existing companies." The economist said that Noczim has now been directed to
give 75% of the fuel to new companies while 25% would be made available to
established firms, adding that effectively the old companies would have to
import fuel on their own.

He described the situation as "a fascinating subject of making quick profits
at the expense of others".

In 2000, the multinational companies tried to convince government to grant
them the right to procure fuel but the government would not budge. Instead,
it gave out more licenses for fuel distribution than procurement to the
emerging locally-owned companies. Measures to open up the industry - with
the issuance of licences failed - to have the desired effect as it simply
increased the number of marketers but failed to address the key issue of

The few companies that have been able to import, like Comoil, Royal Oil and
Petraf, have to sell the fuel to Noczim which then distributes.

Another analyst this week said that although the market has been resilient
for the past one year of the fuel shortages, the government has to
liberalise all sectors.

"The market has been resilient for sometime now since last year, but the
government cannot just liberalise one sector alone. The main issue is
whether what was said by President Mugabe is practical enough," said Witness
Chinyama, an economist with Kingdom Financial Holdings.

"If the oil companies are to bring in fuel, will they agree to sell it at
the current price? It will not make sense for them to bring in the fuel and
sell it at the regulated prices." For the past three years all Zimbabwean
importers were finding it virtually impossible to buy from offshore markets
at reasonable payment terms, thus reflecting a high-perceived country risk
including Noczim.

As of October last year, Noczim was paying US$35 per barrel at a risk
premium factor.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

The struggle continues
Dumisani Madiwa Moyo
THE Zanu PF ruling minority received the outcome of the Insiza by-election
with the usual misguided and philosophically-bankrupt sentiments.

Their pronouncement that the by-election result epitomises the acceptance of
Zanu PF's programmes and the victory against imperialism can no longer be
said to be symbolic of the thinking fatigue in the party, but now shows a
complete paralysis of analysis based on party self-delusion and hypocrisy.

Who in this country doesn't know the true story about Zimbabwean elections?
Who doesn't know the Insiza story? Only the Zanu PF praise poets at Pockets
Hill and their predictable sources that are desperate for political
recognition would continue to mislead the nation to say that the Insiza
by-election means an acceptance of Zanu PF programmes by Zimbabweans.

These spurious claims by the parrot state media and its network of ruling
party apologists are nowhere near a truthful and honest understanding of the
real political and electoral situation in this country. Yet we find comfort
in that we know that this is all cheap political propaganda that can only
convince those of hard skulls and impervious minds.

So what are the lessons that serious-minded Zimbabweans can draw from the
Insiza by-election result?

The true lesson coming from the Insiza by-election outcome is that the
people of Zimbabwe should never dampen their resolve to fight dictatorship,
greed, militarism and intimidation. Zanu PF may continue to win every other
by-election through hook and crook, but neither winning an election nor
giving people land makes it a truly democratic party.

The liberation struggle itself was not about winning an election, but about
the defence of fundamental human rights values that Zanu PF keeps abusing
even today. Their mistake is to think land can be treated in isolation from
other human rights concerns. They need to know that the liberation struggle
was also a candid expression of the power of the people to defend their
civil and political rights as God-given, inalienable, immutable and
unalterable. Zimbabweans need to draw their inspiration from these values
left for us by the true heroes of our protracted liberation struggle so as
to continue to fight until the democratic dispensation is achieved.

People still have the power to wrestle themselves free from the shackles and
tentacles of any form of bondage, including that of Zanuism. Zanu PF needs
to be awakened from its slumber to know that people are not fighting for the
MDC to win an election either, but for democracy to prevail. People want to
participate and be listened to in matters of governance.

People want accountability and transparency in the running of their
government. People are tired of corruption, economic mismanagement,
starvation and indignation.

In short, people want good governance and the respect for human rights and
dignity. So simple and clear indeed! Human rights and good governance are
complementary. It is unimaginable to think of one outside the other although
it seems for Zanu PF they want to achieve the latter without addressing the
former. Good governance directly impacts positively on both civil and
political rights and economic and cultural rights. Good governance nurtures
the right to freely associate, the right to freedom of expression and of the
press, and the right to political participation.

It safeguards genuinely-acquired private property rendering it sacred. It
creates room for political pluralism as well as the diversity of viewpoints.

Zanu PF is not and will never be capable of providing these things because
their political ideology is not and has never been consistent with
democratic governance and democratic values. Again, Zanu PF cannot provide
these because of its paranoia and commitment to a moonshine dream of a
one-party state political trajectory. If you can get democracy from Zanu PF,
then I can squeeze water from a desert stone! All right-thinking Zimbabweans
know that the crackdown on the opposition parties, the private media and
civil society has nothing to do with Tony Blair and British imperialism.

Since Independence, Zanu PF has always perfected its art for a solid plan of
creating a monolithic and closed political system. This is the political
ideology that Zimbabweans have to fight and dismantle first before all else.
So the struggle for democracy in this country must inevitably be a struggle
against Zanu PF and its archaic ideology.

The problem with the Zanu PF approach is that it is just not sustainable and
isolates everyone but themselves in participating in national debate and
development. Wouldn't it help if Zanu PF were reminded that nations enjoying
good governance are doing so not because the people are homogenous in
political thought, but because they are different and unique in views? The
voice of all Zimbabweans in the post-Independence struggle is loud and
clear: "We are not Zimbabweans because we are Zanu PF and the ruling party
must stop foolishly believing that it is the sole embodiment and
articulation of the national interest and patriotism."

Since Independence the gap of democratic governance has been yawning and now
yawns even more with the draconian attitude of government. Any party that
approximates the needs of the people shall eventually triumph regardless of
whether it is equated to saboteurs, terrorists, imperial dogs or
neo-colonialists. We know only too well that these lame and flimsy political
excuses are raised by all dictatorships that are desperate to cling to power
at all costs, but now people are wise and can see the difference.

The song about Tony Blair, imperialists, neo-colonialism, sovereignty, etc
has surely become redundant and begs for no attention from any busy ear and
intelligent mind. What is imperialistic, British or even Western about
holding one's government accountable? What is neo-colonialistic about
calling for your government to respect human rights that it has ratified in
many international charters? This is why we have to put the Zimbabwean
democratic struggle on focus. Zanu PF in its current form is a liability to
any democratic struggle. It is a one-man party that is always preoccupied
with the creation of a one-party state. The struggle for democracy should
not be put aside until the defeat of these satanic values that are
reminiscent of Stalinism, monarchism and feudalism.

Zimbabwe is a modern nation with modern and civilised citizens, we do not
want to be a pariah state engrossed in fighting primitive feudalistic
idiosyncrasies of autocracy. We want to move ahead and develop our nation.
However, national development requires governance that is democratic in both
form and substance, for the people and by the people. Until these values are
achieved, its business as usual for all who want to see a better Zimbabwe in
future - Aluta continua!

Dumisani Madiwa Moyo is a lecturer at the National University of Science and
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Editor's Memo

A country that works
Barnabas Thondhala
JUST 1 000km south of Zimbabwe is a country that works, and I mean really
works. The economy is going through a boom period. Investors are falling
over themselves to pour money into an economy that makes other African
leaders green with envy.

Investors are not moved from one office to the other when they want to
invest. In fact, the country is investor-friendly in all facets of its

It is not afraid of foreigners polluting the minds of its people, like Big
Brother up north thinks. In fact, Nigerian investors are pouring millions of
rand into a newspaper project - ThisDay - taking off on January 22.

Opportunities are galore. The young burn the midnight oil reading for
examinations knowing they will be snapped up by corporates hungry for
well-educated young executives. People of all races interact and work
together as they should. Of course there are some bad apples here and
there - like last week's bombing of railway tracks and a petrol station in
Soweto. Crime is still at an all-time high, but the government is fighting
hard to rein-in the criminals.

Only this week, the SA parliament invited cellular mobile phone operators to
appear before a committee to discuss their operations. According to Business
Day, parliament's communications portfolio committee summoned Cell C, MTN
and Vodacom to answer complaints raised by consumers in a bid to boost the
standard of services. Indulge me as I take you through the juicy parts of
the report.

"Consumers in this country deserve a better quality of service, and we have
a responsibility as parliamentarians to push the operators to offer that
kind of service," said committee chairman Nkenke Kekana.

The committee will also ask the Independent Communications Authority of SA
(Icasa) to outline its efforts to uphold consumer rights and will ask it to
conduct an annual satisfaction survey. "The regulator is supposed to act on
behalf of the public in measuring the quality of service by cellphone
operators," Kekana said.

In a submission to the committee, Icasa said it was procuring a complaints
handling system and monitoring equipment to better respond to consumer
needs. And citing a lack of resources as reason for not monitoring customer
satisfaction was not acceptable, said Kekana. An annual survey to determine
consumer satisfaction with their cellular network is well on the way.

The parliamentary committee will hold discussions with individuals and
industry-related groups on network availability, geographic coverage, voice
quality, dropped calls and reconnection fees if a caller has to redial a
number because of network failure.

"We want cellular operators to come clean about how they treat dropped
calls, and whether it is false that customers are charged when their call is
dropped because of a dead zone," Kekana said.

"We are also going to question their tariffs. They are making massive
profits but what about their obligations for customer satisfaction?"

Now how about that? We have our own problems with our network operators
don't we? Econet, Net*One and Telecel all have their own operator-specific
problems. With one you are offline as soon as you get to Newlands or
Kuwadzana Extension. The network I'm on is a nightmare to call out or send
messages from throughout the day. Come 3pm, then forget about making any
calls until maybe around 7pm. Congestion is what they say is the problem.
They have said they are upgrading and results will be there for all and
sundry to see, or is it hear?

Come on, operators. Do your customers a favour for once - customer
satisfaction should be the buzzword. Expecting our politicians to take the
operators to task is expecting the impossible. They are still bogged down
with the "Chave Chimurenga" thing.

As the plane loses height in preparation for landing at Harare International
Airport, my heart sinks in tandem with the loss of altitude. Zimbabwe can
still be made to work. All we need to do is change the driver.

As former United States president Theodore Roosevelt said: "Patriotism means
to stand by the country. It does NOT mean to stand by the president or any
other public official saveexactly to the degree in which he himself stands
by the country." It is patriotic to support him insofar as he efficiently
serves the country. It is unpatriotic not tooppose him to the exact extent
that by inefficiency or otherwise he fails in his duty to stand by the
country.Remember, a patriot is one who gives his all to protect his country
from its government!

The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems
are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology or the
president. You realise thatyou control your own destiny. Zimbabwe is still a
shining example of a country which can crest the waves of barbarism
currently engulfing it. We are a people with a passion for success. One only
has to look at the success stories of lowly-paid Zimbabweans in the new
suburbs of Budiriro, Emakhandeni and elsewhere who, against all odds, have
defied the high costs of building materials to build houses for themselves.
Against all odds. Government must not think that because they are lording it
over us the status quo will remain forever. Something is bound to give, and
it will give, mark my words. As sure as the sun rises, one of these days the
people of Zimbabwe are going to say enough is enough. We need a country that
works. Zimbabwe can work.

We are the masters of our own destiny.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Hurtling towards a Big Bang Fuel crisis
Sandawana addressed the issue of the inevitable fuel hike a month back and
now we have some kind of indication of what is going to happen ... thanks to
el President's pronouncements last Thursday in Gweru.

The skewed economic pressures have been building for months and something
has to give. Instead of putting the price up by 10% a month as government
should have been doing to defuse the magnitude of the impending crisis, we
are set for another Big Bang tadza.

The price is set to be jacked up over 100% - possibly within the next few
weeks - sparking off a new round of cost-push inflation. The government has
been worried about having to put up prices, not because its cowed and
subjugated populace is likely to react with anything more than a shrug
("what can we do?"), but because an increase will not be "new farmer
friendly". That 2% minority who control the country will not be happy.

As Sandawana pointed out before, while nothing has really changed in terms
of procuring fuel at the official exchange rate at what is generally the
same price in US dollars, the government just does not have the assets to
leverage this deal if it wants to keep things running as they are, ie less
cheap forex for the chefs. The government steals more than enough money off
exporting companies at $55:US$1 to pay for fuel and Zesa, but it appears
there is not enough extra cheap forex for the chefs to go on their jaunts.
With the tobacco season ending and the economic base shrinking further, the
government either has to use the money it steals from companies at $55:US$1
just for fuel and Zesa, or it needs to bully someone else into paying for
the fuel if the chefs are to keep their cheap forex. However, Sandawana
points out that at the official rate (which is how government wants to play
it), we are already overpaying for our fuel. It costs US$1,38, while in
South Africa it is not quite 50 US cents a litre.

That has allowed Noczim to pay down its debt and get a few new Mercs in for
the execs. If we had the multinational fuel companies using official money,
they could procure the fuel for the same price as what they pay in South
Africa - around 30 US cents a litre. This means these dreadful money-making
multinationals would be able to import three times as much fuel (including
excise duties) as the management does currently with the same resources.
This arrangement was easily achievable, but it did not suit the government
at the time.

Now the government is worried about hiking fuel prices and has decided to
finger the multinational fuel companies as the villains. This means that
several things can happen, but most likely the government will announce it
will only sell fuel to indigenous concerns at current prices. This creates a
shortage and a new crisis and the government uses this to cloak-in a price

There is the even more ridiculous scenario of having a dual pricing system,
where you can get petrol, after queuing for hours, at an indigenous outlet
for $76 (while all the chefs have an "Express Queue"), and the Shells and
BPs have to sell it for anything from $500 a litre upwards. The
dilly-dallying over the past month has made matters worse. Since Sandawana
wrote about fuel a month ago, the only thing that has changed in the past
few weeks is that the price of fuel on the parallel market is now only 5 US
cents a litre and that means the margin for fuel smugglers has doubled.

An unlikely union?

TSL and Cottco, who would have guessed? Cottco and SeedCo, yes. But TSL and
Cottco? If it was culture that was the problem when it came to marriage of
CFI and Innscor, what do you have here? As brokers have said, the only thing
that the two have in common is that they are in agriculture. And they reckon
the reason the share prices of each did not shoot up on the day the joint
cautionary came out was because the broking community does not take the
chances of this union seriously. It was not long ago that TSL was holding a
briefing - within its closed period - at the stuffy Harare Club, while
Cottco prefers the choice of the noveau riche for its get togethers -
Meikles. Either way, Sandawana understands that management on both sides
appear quite serious about a tie-up. What do you have here? As overvalued as
Cottco's share price might be, it is the dream Zimbabwean company: it
purchases product in Zimbabwe dollars that have an infinitely higher value
in US dollars.

As for TSL, it has tried to direct the market's attention away from its
reliance on tobacco. Last month, TSL operations director Brendan Kennedy
said the group was trying to break the "perception" that TSL was heavily
reliant on Tobacco Sales Floors, which now only accounted for about 7% of
profit. But the ancillary business of the company is tobacco. It has a stake
in Cutrag Processors (that it may increase further), a majority stake in a
chemical company (Chemco) that is geared towards tobacco more than any other
cash crop (Rarefield Enterprises is more focused on chemicals for cotton)
and a 40% stake in Hunyani, which depends hugely on the tobacco crop for its
packaging materials. It is well known that "white" agriculture companies are
expected to be engulfed by the wildfire indigenisation sweeping through the
economy at the moment, but the market still needs to be convinced that a
tie-up is the best way forward for both companies. At the moment, TSL is
more likely to unlock value for shareholders if it is to go for a break-up
than in a merger with Cottco.

The Kingdom rights issue

Whether or not Kingdom has been seemingly rudderless over the past year,
Sandawana would choose to take up his rights in the expected rights issue.
Banks are cheap at the moment ... they are making money hand over fist in
the parallel market and we are just waiting for the timing aspect to kick
in. NMB, Trust, Century, ABC are going for mahara at the moment compared
with the rest of the market ... but as we know, it's all about sentiment.
Old Mutual remains a case in point. How this share has not jumped to $2 000
is beyond the understanding of most brokers, who are looking at other
considerations. Is it that people got burnt when they bought in at $1 150
last year and have been sitting on a loss since then? Or is it that the
share is too liquid for a consolidation rally to take place? No one really
knows, but when that rally takes place in the financials, you'll want to
have a nice long position.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

      Govt prepares new fuel policy
      Dumisani Muleya

      AS the fuel crisis refuses to go away, government is drafting a new
policy framework to enable multinational oil companies to import their own
product for resale. This follows remarks made in Gweru by President Mugabe
last week.

      Energy and Power Development minister Amos Midzi confirmed this week
government was working on deregulation after years of stubborn resistance.

      "The position is that we are currently responding to the articulation
of government policy by the president," Midzi said.

      Sources who attended a stakeholders' meeting on Wednesday said the
government would like to see a new fuel policy implemented in the New Year.

      On Monday stakeholders will meet again to thrash out the problem areas
which include how to deal with Noczim's debt in the event of deregulation.

      Currently, motorists pay a levy of $20 on every litre of fuel sold
which goes towards servicing Noczim's outstanding debt.

      The sources said government and the oil companies have to agree on a
system to ensure that the country does not default on its repayments.

      Oil companies are demanding a review of the pricing structure but
government is apparently resisting market prices, pointing out South
Africa's Engen is already importing and selling fuel at the current prices.

      Petroleum Marketers Association of Zimbabwe chair Simba Kambarami said
the preliminary meeting explored liberalising the fuel sector.

      "We set up working groups to deal with various aspects which need to
be ironed out," he said. "There are groups on legislation, logistics and
financial matters."

      Kambarami said oil companies wanted to guarantee viability.

      "We want a flexible price mechanism that will take into account input
costs," he said. "The bottom line is, whatever the outcome of the
discussions, the decisions should ensure the viability of the oil industry.

      The industry sources said government wants oil companies to start
importing fuel at the beginning of next year.

      Economist John Robertson said there were complex issues which needed
to be dealt with. He said if oil companies sourced foreign currency on the
black market (at US$1 to $1 600), the fuel price would surge to $800 per

      If a dual exchange - the official and parallel rates - were to be
applied, Robertson said fuel would rise to about $438 per litre.

      Analysts say charging market prices for fuel would mean a 500% hike.

      For the past 20 years government maintained a rigid monopoly on fuel
imports claiming it was a "strategic" commodity in defiance of market
forces. But now economic realities have prevailed over populist politics.

      The policy shift comes at a time when it is evident that the US$360
million Libyan fuel deal is collapsing.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zim Independent

Mandela's lawyer to defend Tsvangirai
Vincent Kahiya
IN a move bound to cause consternation in government circles, the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has secured the services of one of
South Africa's most distinguished lawyers, George Bizos SC, to represent its
president, Morgan Tsvangirai, in a treason trial that opens in the High
Court in February.

Bizos has represented Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress in a
number of high-profile political cases over the years. Last year he publicly
clashed with Information minister Jonathan Moyo after commenting on the
breakdown of the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

Tsvangirai's trial was set to commence this month but his lawyers filed an
urgent application in the High Court seeking a postponement and this was
granted by consent.

Defence lawyers wanted the state to postpone the case from November 11 to
November 18 to allow the state time to provide an audiotape of the meeting
between Ari Ben-Menashe and Tsvangirai in London and further particulars
spelling out the charge.

The state indicated it could not provide these by November 18 resulting in
the postponement to February 3 by consent.

Justice Charles Hungwe, who heard the application two weeks ago, ruled that
the state must make available the audiotape and a copy of the transcript of
the tape together with more particulars spelling out the charge.

The Zimbabwe Independent understands that Bizos has already been in the
country twice to discuss Tsvangirai's defence with leading Harare attorney,
Innocent Chagonda of Atherstone & Cook.

MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi yesterday confirmed the hiring of Bizos.

"We have been working with him for the past two months and he is going to be
the lead counsel in the case," Themba Nyathi said.

Bizos will be assisted by Advocate Chris Andersen and Advocate Eric
Matinenga, instructed by Chagonda.

Tsvangirai, MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube and Renson Gasela are
facing treason charges arising from an alleged plot to assassinate President
Mugabe. The charges arose from audio and video footage provided by Canadian
lobbyist Ben-Menashe that purports to expose the plot to assassinate Mugabe.

Bizos was part of the International Bar Association (IBA) team that visited
Zimbabwe last year and filed a damning report on the country.

The report was immediately denounced by Information minister Jonathan Moyo
who said Bizos had joined the IBA mission with preconceived ideas about
Zimbabwe. The no-nonsense lawyer immediately shot back saying Moyo lacked
credibility and was a liar.

"Minister Moyo is not telling the truth. He is a liar and he should stop
lying. He has no right to question my credibility. People should judge my
credibility against his. Moyo has no credibility," Bizos was quoted as
saying at the time.

Bizos rose to prominence when he was part of the team that defended former
South African President Nelson Mandela in the Rivonia treason trial of

He was also counsel to Winnie Mandela. He was counsel at the inquests into
the deaths in detention of anti-apartheid activists Ahmed Timol in 1971,
Steve Biko in 1977, and Neil Agget in 1982.

In 1990 he became a member of the ANC's Legal and Constitutional Committee,
and at Codesa he served as adviser to their negotiating teams and
participated in drawing up the interim Constitution of South Africa.

He was appointed by President Mandela to the Judicial Services Commission
which in terms of the constitution recommends candidates for appointment as
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Zimbabwe Tobacco Prices to Fall by a Third, Financial Mail Says
Source: Bloomberg News, 2002-11-07
Author: Mkhululi Mancotywa and Antony Sguazzin

Intro: Zimbabwe's tobacco prices may fall by a third next year to $1.50 a
kilogram (2.2 pounds) because of a lower quality crop, the Financial Mail
said, citing the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association.
President Robert Mugabe's program of seizing white-owned land for
distribution to blacks has slashed the tobacco crop and sparked farm
invasions that led to the murder of some farmers and farm workers and the
destruction of crops and tobacco curing barns.
Back to the Top
Back to Index


Zimbabwe slaps travel ban on senior Britons -TV

HARARE, Nov. 7 - Zimbabwe imposed a travel ban on top British officials
including Prime Minister Tony Blair on Thursday and slapped a visa
requirement on all Britons after London imposed a visa regime on Zimbabwe.
       Britain earlier in the day made visas compulsory for Zimbabweans to
stem what it called growing ''abuse of immigration controls.''

       ''The Zimbabwe government has imposed a travel ban on British Prime
Minister Tony Blair, his cabinet, junior ministers and heads of his
government departments as part of its efforts to safeguard the country's
sovereignty,'' the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation said.
       It added that it was ''making it mandatory for all persons travelling
to Zimbabwe on British passports to apply for visas prior to travelling or
making their journeys with effect from tomorrow (Friday).''
       Earlier this year, Zimbabwe's ruling elite including President Robert
Mugabe were banned from travel to the EU after Britain and other Western
powers condemned Mugabe's disputed re-election in a March presidential poll.
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Mail and Guardian

Zimbabwe wants UK to compensate white farmers


      07 November 2002 14:30

Zimbabwe Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge said on Thursday the government wants
Britain to compensate white farmers in the southern African country for land
seized under a contentious land reform programme.

"We have completed the land reform programme, and it is now up to the
British govermment to assume its responsibility to compensate the commercial
farmers," Mudenge told journalists at an EU-SADC meeting here.

Mudenge said the compensations could be made directly to the farmers,
through Britain and Zimbabwe, or even through the United Nations. "We just
want justice for the white farmers," he said.

Mudenge was speaking on the sidelines of a two-day meeting of government
ministers from the 14-member Southern Africa Development Community (SADC)
and the European Union (EU) in Maputo, Mozambique.

Zimbabwe is currently embroiled in a land reform programme which has seen
the seizure of most of the properties belonging to the country's 4 500 white

Very few have been compensated so far by the Zimbabwean government. -
Back to the Top
Back to Index

Business Day

In the mirror of Zimbabwe

IN THE article, Mugabe has us fighting each other (Rainbow View, November
4), Jethro Goko raises some pertinent issues, such as the fact that
contemplating Zimbabwe's present woes makes one wonder how similar SA's own
future will be. The fact that no-one is putting it so blatantly stems from a
psychological denial of the frightening possibilities. Set aside all this
"think positively" nonsense and consider for once the realities of where we
are headed.
The second point is Mugabe's tyrannical rule has not lead to the empowerment
of the previously disadvantaged blacks, but has in fact impoverished and
disfranchised them further! Are we not making the same mistake? On the
whole, poverty has just dug its claws deeper into the fabric of our society
causing further racial tensions and anger on both sides of the fence.

Are we not reserving jobs for blacks through affirmative action in much the
same way as "arm blankes" were guaranteed jobs through apartheid policies
that we now acknowledge as being clearly ludicrous? Is cheap housing not
being erected and given away to today's "arm swartes" in much the same way
as the group areas act ensured economical housing for the whites?

Be realistic, should we not use the best resources (irrespective of race) at
our disposal to build the strongest possible economy, sports teams,
education and so on, and in this way ensure that we retain the valuable
human and financial resources to ensure a stable future? By educating our
people we can build our human potential; by being an attractive investment
to the rest of the world, we can create employment opportunities; by
aggressively fighting any form of discrimination, we can live past our
flawed past to mutual acceptance.

Politics is about power, and not about the people's rights. Just look at
Zimbabwe. Unless we get a strong and sensible government the poor will get
poorer and the rich richer.

D BreeKrugersdorp
Back to the Top
Back to Index

A farmer received a copy of this document.... undated and not stamped and
rumour has it that it is still being mulled???......................

Attention :

All Provincial Governors
The Secretary of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing
The Secretary of Rural Resources and Water Development
The Secretary of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
All Provincial Administrators
All Provincial Chief Land Officers
All District Administrators
All District Land Officers


The Fast Track Land Resettlement exercise has been a mammoth task, which has
had many challenges.  Cabinet, at its meetings of 17th September 2002 and
October 2002, decided that the 11 million hectares acquired compulsorily
the Fast Track Resettlement Programme and the 3.6 million acquired under the
normal resettlement programme since 1980, stand as acquired and now
STATELAND and cannot revert back to their original status for any reason.
officers dealing with the Land Reform Programme should take note of this

District and Provincial officers have given themselves excessive powers to
concessions with farmers without referring such decisions to the Minister of
Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement who is vested with such Land
powers. This must stop forthwith.

Cabinet has also resolved that :

1. Resettled farmers shall NOT be evicted from the 11 million hectares they
have settled on;
2. White farmers affected by the above-cited position shall be accommodated
elsewhere where they MAY be allocated portions of land which are UP TO the
relevant maximum farm size and the allocation of the relevant maximum farm
shall NOT be deemed as a right to any white farmer;
3. There shall be no ownership of rural agriculture by companies and that
such transfers have occurred in the recent past, such transfers shall be
rescinded by Government;
4. Rural agricultural farms shall not be regarded as assets of a company,
must stand on their own and shall be registered in an individual's name;
5. Rural land under the A2 model shall be leased;
6. All A2 leases shall be in the names of individuals and shall not be in
names of companies;
7. A2 leases shall contain a condition regarding Government's right to
in respect of the land in question or a portion thereof;
8. Government suspends until further notice the issuing of Certificates of
Present Interest in respect of all rural agricultural land;
9. The subdivision of farms shall be undertaken without any hindrance to
Officers or influence from the white farmer who may be allocated any of the
resultant subdivisions;
10. White farmers shall not be grouped into an enclave as and when they are
11. The planning, demarcation and resettlement of farms with orchards,
horticulture and agro-industries to be done with speed and requisite care;
12. The policy of one person/household on one plot or one farm still holds
the interest of equity, justice and fair play and shall be enforced;
13. Future acquisitions and gazetting of rural agricultural land for
resettlement shall follow the already laid down criteria and procedures
criteria and procedures shall be respected; and
14. Similarly, any material policy changes in respect of the land
process shall be channeled through the laid down procedures.

N Masoka
Back to the Top
Back to Index