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.
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
"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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
"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?
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.
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".
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
"The country was expecting 250 000 tonnes of wheat
this year alone," said Nherera.
"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 Nherera.
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 wheat crop has also been affected by the rains as new
farmers could not harvest their crop due to lack of equipment.
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
A tour by the Independent of prime wheat growing areas
revealed that most of the areas were not cultivated.
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 sickles.
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.
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.
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 disbelief.
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 interests).
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
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 requirements.
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
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
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
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,
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;
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
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.
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
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!
Drought to worsen next year - UN Mabasa
Sasa ZIMBABWE'S woes are likely to deepen next year as the drought is
forecast to worsen.
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
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
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
It said the region should expect a 45% likelihood of below
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
The November distribution plan calls for approximately 50
000 tonnes of food to be distributed to some three million beneficiaries in
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 agencies.
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.
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.
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
"We crack our heads on importing fuel and have reports
every Tuesday about how much fuel we have in the country," Mugabe
"And what do we do? We call in the multinational oil
companies. They sell and make profits. Government does not make any
"Twenty-two years in government, 22 years of playing this
game of foolery. They don't suffer from the headaches and stomach aches I
For a man known for his toughness against
adversity and his love of swimming against the tide, the disclosure by Mugabe
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.
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.
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 forever.
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 consumers.
are the signs of heightened pressures against a once robust economy after
three years of disastrous economic mismanagement and
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?
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
The country's key commercial agriculture sector is
virtually in limbo, thanks to the so-called fast track resettlement
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.
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.
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
Indeed we do not eat slogans nor do we have cars that
are powered by rhetoric.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
"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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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
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
The two-thirds-majority drive involves facilitation of
by-elections through false arrests and conviction of opposition
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
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
Sources speculate that Mugabe wants Chapter 4, Section 30 of
the constitution, which sanctions legal action against him after
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.
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,"
November 7, 2002 Posted to the web November
Justin Arenstein Musina, South Africa
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.
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 refugees.
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
The latest indication comes in the wake of last week's informal
request to international firms to import fuel on their own.
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.
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).
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
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
"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 end?"
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
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
"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
"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
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 importation.
The few companies that have been able to import,
like Comoil, Royal Oil and Petraf, have to sell the fuel to Noczim which then
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
"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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
safeguards genuinely-acquired private property rendering it sacred.
It creates room for political pluralism as well as the diversity of
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
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
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."
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
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
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!
Moyo is a lecturer at the National University of Science and Technology.
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 operations.
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.
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
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
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.
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
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
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"
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
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.
Hurtling towards a Big Bang Fuel
crisis Sandawana 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
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
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 increase.
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.
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.
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. email@example.com
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.
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.
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.
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
Kambarami said oil companies wanted to guarantee
"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
The industry sources said government wants oil
companies to start importing fuel at the beginning of next
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 litre.
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
The policy shift comes at a time when it is
evident that the US$360 million Libyan fuel deal is collapsing.
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
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.
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 &
MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi yesterday confirmed the hiring
"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
Bizos will be assisted by Advocate Chris Andersen and Advocate
Eric Matinenga, instructed by Chagonda.
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.
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 1963-64.
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
He was appointed by President Mandela to the Judicial
Services Commission which in terms of the constitution recommends candidates
for appointment as judges.
Zimbabwe Tobacco Prices to Fall by a Third, Financial Mail Says Source:
Bloomberg News, 2002-11-07 Author: Mkhululi Mancotywa and Antony
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.
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
''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
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.
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
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.
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 farmers.
Very few have been
compensated so far by the Zimbabwean government. - Sapa-AFP
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
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
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.
A farmer received a copy of this document.... undated and not stamped
and rumour has it that it is still being mulled???......................
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
LAND REFORM PROGRAMME POLICY
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 15th October 2002, decided that the 11 million
hectares acquired compulsorily during the Fast Track Resettlement
Programme and the 3.6 million acquired under the normal resettlement
programme since 1980, stand as acquired and now constitute STATELAND and
cannot revert back to their original status for any reason. All officers
dealing with the Land Reform Programme should take note of
District and Provincial officers have given themselves
excessive powers to make concessions with farmers without referring such
decisions to the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement who is
vested with such Land Authority powers. This must stop
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 size shall NOT be deemed as a right to any white
farmer; 3. There shall be no ownership of rural agriculture by companies and
that where 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, but 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 the names of companies; 7. A2 leases shall contain a condition
regarding Government's right to recourse in respect of the land in
question or a portion thereof; 8. Government suspends until further notice
the issuing of Certificates of No Present Interest in respect of all rural
agricultural land; 9. The subdivision of farms shall be undertaken without
any hindrance to Land 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 resettled; 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 in 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 which criteria and
procedures shall be respected; and 14. Similarly, any material policy changes
in respect of the land acquisition process shall be channeled through the
laid down procedures.
N Masoka SECRETARY MINISTRY OF LANDS,
AGRICULTURE AND RURAL RESETTLEMENT