Thursday, 13 October 2011 17:57
ZANU PF senior politburo member and chief negotiator in talks with the MDC
movements, Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa (pictured right), says his
party cannot afford to substitute President Robert Mugabe in the next
crucial elections, as pressure mounts for the veteran ruler to quit in
Chinamasa’s remarks in an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent in Geneva,
Switzerland, where he was attending the United Nations Human Rights Council’s
universal periodic review, are likely to fuel controversy within Zanu PF,
already rocked by divisions over the issue.
In a cautionary move, Chinamasa, who was part of the Emmerson Mnangagwa-led
faction which tried to stage a palace coup in Zanu PF before its 2004
congress, said Zanu PF could ill-afford to replace Mugabe now. He likened
attempts to replace Mugabe to efforts to change a ship’s captain in the
middle of a storm.
“First of all I would like to say the issue of the candidacy of President
Mugabe is an internal matter — it should not concern outsiders. But where
we stand now the president is our candidate for future elections,” Chinamasa
“The president has indicated the next conference, in Bulawayo, would be a
mini-congress where we will confirm him as candidate. It’s an internal
matter but we will put our best foot forward and President Mugabe is our
best foot. We can’t change the captain in the midst of a storm.”
Chinamasa’s remarks, which apparently reflect the position of the Mnangagwa
faction, could help Mugabe in his bid to ride the storm during the
potentially explosive Bulawayo conference which would be “just as good as
(a) congress”. Those close to Mugabe, including Zanu PF insiders, say his
real game plan is to die in office, not to retire.
Zanu PF infighting over the Mugabe candidacy is intensifying ahead of the
party’s annual conference in Bulawayo from December 6-10. Although
conference can endorse Mugabe as a candidate, pressure has been brought to
bear on him to accept the possibility of being replaced, hence his admission
the gathering would be more like a congress, although he wants a stronger
mandate from it.
Mugabe was in 2007 forced to hold an extraordinary congress before the 2008
elections by senior party officials who wanted to replace him as candidate
but he managed to cling on with help from the Mnangagwa faction which had
burnt its fingers three years earlier. The camp led by the late retired army
commander General Solomon Mujuru desperately wanted Mugabe to go.
Asked if it was not in the interest of Zanu PF to field a relatively younger
and fresh candidate in the next elections, Chinamasa insisted: “We will not
change the captain when the ship is under threat of being ship-wrecked.”
Chinamasa suggested it would be suicidal for Zanu PF to replace Mugabe when
the party was facing the danger of running aground. Mugabe himself has said
Zanu PF will disintegrate like other former liberation movements in the
region if he goes.
On why Zanu PF officials seemed afraid of leadership renewal, Chinamasa
said: “The politburo is an open forum. Colleagues who want to raise the
issue (of Mugabe’s succession) are free to do so. Why do they only raise it
with you in the media? Debate is not suppressed in the politburo.”
Chinamasa said there was gradual leadership renewal at the politburo level
of Zanu PF.
“The majority of members of the politburo are young people. They are people,
for instance, who have nothing to do with Dare reChimurenga (Zanu PF’s War
Council during the struggle for liberation). Some of them were not even
connected with the liberation struggle. They may not be the kind of youths
that you want but they are there. That’s leadership renewal,” he said.
“In the party we have opportunities to raise issues like succession and
corruption but in the case of corruption you need evidence before you talk
Zanu PF politburo member Jonathan Moyo recently raised the issue of
leadership renewal, elections and Mugabe’s candidacy in 2013 and corruption,
among other things, in the state-controlled Sunday Mail, capturing the
raging argument that Mugabe could not realistically be a candidate in 2013.
Zanu PF is currently divided on whether to endorse Mugabe as a candidate in
the next elections or not. While some think Mugabe is the only viable
candidate for the party, others say it would not be practical or reasonable,
to field him, especially if the elections are held in 2013 when he is 89 and
also ailing. Mugabe recently said he has no control over when the polls
would be held as that would be determined by Global Political Agreement
A GPA roadmap is being worked out to provide signposts to the next
Chinamasa said he stood by his opinion that elections are likely to be held
next year and possibly in 2013.
“I’m not changing anything. Initially I said elections could be held next
year or possibly in 2013. I believe this is still the situation that
elections could be held next year. I mentioned 2013 as a possibility,” he
The Zanu PF politburo, which wanted elections this year when Mugabe is still
able to campaign efficiently although it was divided on that, reacted
angrily recently to Chinamasa’s remarks and basically telling him to shut
Chinamasa had initially said: “We need to start talking about elections next
year or 2013, assuming that the (constitutional) referendum is held in
September as we have been advised. It is my own opinion that it is not
possible to hold elections this year.”
Recent WikiLeaks disclosures show most senior Zanu PF officials want Mugabe
to go and this position had been there for the past decade having been
initially spearheaded by the late Eddison Zvobgo and his allies who wanted
to “form a party within a party” to remove their leader.
Due to internal strife and the state of the economy, Mugabe lost the first
round of the 2008 elections to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of the
MDC-T, before storming back through a campaign of violence and brutality.
(NB: the Independent will carry a full interview with Chinamasa next week.)
Thursday, 13 October 2011 17:56
THE High Court in Bulawayo has ordered President Mugabe to call for
by-elections in three vacant constituencies in Matabeleland within 14 days.
Justice Nicholas Ndou ordered Mugabe to proclaim by-election dates 14 days
after being served with the judgment, but the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
has pleaded bankruptcy.
“I hereby order that President Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission to announce elections dates in Lupane East, Nkayi South and
Bulilima East in a period within 14 days,” Ndou said in his ruling.
The three seats fell vacant after Welshman Ncube’s MDC expelled Abdenico
Bhebhe of Nkayi South, Njabuliso Mguni of Lupane East and Norman Mpofu of
Bulilima East for aligning themselves with the MDC-T. Bhebhe is now the
MDC-T deputy organising secretary.
The trio’s lawyer Matshobana Ncube said he would send the judgment to
Attorney-General Johannes Tomana’s office on Friday after which they would
wait for the by-election dates to be announced within 14 days.
“The by-election dates will be proclaimed after we serve Mugabe’s lawyer,
who is the Attorney-General, with the judgment,” he said.
Ndou said the AG’s office had earlier this year asked for two months before
the by-elections because there was general talk of possible elections this
year, and hence they would be overtaken by events.
But nothing happened and the two months the AG’s office had asked for lapsed
meaning Mugabe was in breach of Section 39 (2) of the Electoral Act which
states that after being notified by the Speaker of parliament about a vacant
seat, he has to gazette by-election dates.
Ndou ruled that he was at liberty to make a ruling that Mugabe had to comply
with Section 39 (2) of the Electoral Act so that he gazettes dates for the
by-elections as sought by the three former legislators since the AG had not
communicated after the expiry of the two months he had asked for.
ZEC chairman Simpson Mutambanengwe yesterday said although the High Court
had ordered the by-elections, the electoral body was broke and could not
finance any poll this year.
“There is no money for by-elections,” said Mutambanengwe. “We know the
former MPs have been going to court, but the issue is that even if the court
orders elections (to be held), we simply don’t have the money,” he said.
Ever since the inception of the coalition government in 2009, 18
parliamentary seats have fallen vacant because of various reasons, which
include death and expulsions.
Bhebhe and Mpofu were not in court. Mguni, who was present, hailed the
outcome as a landmark ruling which would give the people of Lupane East,
Nkayi South and Bulilima East a chance to elect their preferred
representatives in parliament.
“Mugabe has to do what he has to do so that people go for by-elections,”
said Mguni. “We are more than ready to reclaim our seats in parliament,
regardless of the fact that Welshman Ncube has tried to kill our political
Mguni has since re-joined the MDC-T.
Thursday, 13 October 2011 17:54
SOUTH African Airways has increased its seating capacity on the
Johannesburg-Harare route through the introduction of the Airbus 330-200.
SAA, which recently reduced its airfares for eight destinations, including
the Harare Johannesburg route as a way of consolidating its market share in
Zimbabwe, is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the operational problems at
At the launch of the A330-200 at Harare International Airport yesterday, SAA
country manager for Zimbabwe Winnie Mudariki said there had been great
demand on the Harare-Johannesburg route and the new aircraft will provide
efficiencies to support the airline’s profitability and growth strategies.
She said the new airbus has a seating capacity of 253 passengers compared to
157 on the A 319. The new plane seats 36 passengers in business class and
186 in economy.
SAA flights have now increased to 21 a week from 14, while flights on the
Victoria Falls route were 7 weekly.
Director of transport in the Ministry of Transport and Communications,
Allowance Sango, concurred with Mudariki that there had been a gradual
increase in demand on the route.
He noted that last year, SAA seats had started off at 3 920 per week, risen
to 4 390 and ended the year in December at 5 264. This year, seats had
increased to 5 394. Demand on the Vic Falls route had also increased to 1
680 seats from December’s 1 162.
The move to introduce the larger airbus comes after a number of airlines
have expressed interest to service the Zimbabwe route. Emirates airline,
which will ply the Zimbabwe-Zambia-Dubai route next year, will also operate
an A330-200 aircraft.
South Africa’s ambassador to Zimbabwe Vusi Mavimbela acknowledged the
competitiveness of the environment but said that the launch indicates that
SAA is riding the storm of the economic crisis when other airlines are
He said that Zimbabwe will play a crucial role in the development of the
region in future, and as such, its transport infrastructure needed to
Thursday, 13 October 2011 17:31
THE three coalition government partners, Zanu PF and the two MDC formations,
have adopted a preliminary draft constitutional framework that can be used
in drafting the country’s new supreme law. According to co-chairperson of
the Constitution Select Committee (Copac) Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, Zanu PF
came up with the framework and the MDC formations adopted it with
improvements at a meeting held on Monday.
“The framework was adopted on Monday by the select committee,” said
Mangwana. “Guided by views that came out of the outreach meetings, we
focused on the elements of what came out. Now that the framework is done, we
will look at the principles which will be allocated to various chapters at a
workshop next week. When we have agreed on the framework, we will give it to
the drafters,” he said.
However, MDC-T’s co-chairperson of Copac Douglas Mwonzora said the Zanu PF
document was rejected at Monday’s meeting but they had still managed to come
up with a preliminary draft framework.
“That (Zanu PF) document was rejected and a proper framework was debated and
adopted,” said Mwonzora. “It was rejected on the basis that it did not
relate to what came out from the people,” he said.
The Zimbabwe Independent is in possession of the adopted preliminary draft
framework and the document Zanu PF presented to Copac, as well as another
Zanu PF document outlining its position on certain issues.
While Zanu PF is pushing for a provision prohibiting homosexuality and same
sex marriage, Copac officials who attended the meeting said that position
“It is a non-issue and it will not be included in the constitution,” said a
Copac official. “There is no need to put it as a provision because it is
generally unacceptable in Zimbabwe.”
Part of the Zanu PF document reads: “No to homosexuality and same sex
marriages. The dominant view is that this practice must not be allowed and
consequently is derogation from the Bill of Rights.”
Other sections excluded in the final framework that Zanu PF wanted to stand
as chapter headings were the land issue and indigenisation and economic
Under Chapter V of the Zanu PF document titled Land, Environment and Natural
Resources, land should belong to the state and land reform should continue
until all colonial injustices concerning land were removed. It also said no
title deeds should be issued for agricultural land.
It suggested that there be 99-year leases on agricultural land, equitable
distribution of land, a land commission and no to multiple farm ownership.
On indigenisation and economic empowerment, the document said there should
be affirmative action and indigenisation and empowerment of local
The Zanu PF draft framework also suggested that there be an executive
president and two vice presidents –– a matter which is still under debate.
On electoral system and process, the party’s dominant view favoured a hybrid
system comprising first past-the-post system as well as proportional
It suggested that the number of constituencies remain at 210 and 93
Without specifying who appoints the judiciary, the document said it should
be independent and their appointment be approved by senate.
It said the predominant view was that Zimbabwe is a unitary state with
devolved power to provinces and local governments.
A note on devolution read: “The dominant view is that provincial councils
and local governments should have sufficient devolved power to enable them
to engage in development within their areas of jurisdiction. In particular,
provincial governors should have budgets independent of ministries of
national government which enable them to fund provincial development
programmes and facilitate easy access to services.”
Meanwhile, the agreed preliminary draft framework has included a provision
for a national prosecuting authority and chapters that deal with the
intelligence service and a national security council.
“In the preliminary framework, there will now be a provision that deals with
the intelligence service and the National Security Council so that we deal
with Joint Operations Command (Joc),” said a Copac official.
Joc is presently made up of all the army generals, police commissioner,
prison services chief, the Central Intelligence Organisation
director-general and the Ministers of Defence and State Security.
Under the Global Political Agreement, Joc should have been disbanded and
replaced by the National Security Council. It still remains one of the
outstanding issues in the GPA because Zanu PF vowed not to dismantle it.
Joc was reportedly behind the bloody presidential poll run-off in 2008 which
saw President Robert Mugabe contesting alone after the MDC-T’s Morgan
Tsvangirai pulled out protesting the prevailing wanton intimidation,
violence and bloodletting which characterised the campaign.
The two MDC formations have been calling for legislation to guide operations
of the CIO, which is allocated a lot of state resources, but has no legal
checks and balances controlling its operations, and is also housed in the
office of the president.
The three parties have proposed commissions which would deal with elections,
human rights and social justice, anti-corruption and public accountability,
media and telecommunications, environment and natural resources as well as
Drafting of the new constitution, which would be done by Botswana High Court
Judge Justice Moses Chinhengo, and lawyers Priscilla Madzonga and Brian
Crozier, was due to start next week, but is now only scheduled to begin
after the three parties agree on the principles and content to be embraced
by the new constitution.
Constitutional lawyer Professor Lovemore Madhuku said: “Drafters are just
technical people who will not have a significant input on the content. This
is a party driven process –– the content will be determined by the political
Thursday, 13 October 2011 17:21
THE MDC-T national executive council on Wednesday threatened to boycott next
year’s elections if Zanu PF unilaterally calls for the poll without
fulfillment of all conditions stipulated in the 2008 Sadc-facilitated GPA.
The GPA calls for reforms in the media, electoral laws and the re-staffing
of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission secretariat.
The MDC-T resolved that any unilateral poll without implementation of the
reforms would be a sham and produce contestable results.
“The party notes that any election which does not meet the above conditions
will be a sham election and the party will not have anything to do with a
sham election,” the Nec statement said.
The meeting came on the heels of President Robert Mugabe telling the Zanu PF
central committee last week that his party should gear itself for general
elections early next year since the inclusive government had become
The MDC-T listed eight issues it claimed were key to holding any credible
polls in the country after the disputed 2008 presidential election which
eventually forced the country to assemble a coalition government.
Among other conditions set by the MDC-T are the “completion of the
constitution-making process and the referendum, completion of the drafting
of a new voters’ roll, completion of the legislative reform and conclusion
of the outstanding issues on security sector reforms.
The MDC-T further demanded that “Zimbabwe should comply with Sadc electoral
guidelines on free and fair elections and the putting in place of mechanisms
to ensure that violence will not be a factor in the said election”.
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa this week in Geneva at the United Nations
Human Rights Council’s periodic review ruled out security sector reform.
Chinamasa said: “On security sector reform, Zimbabwe will not even entertain
the recommendation. Reform for who? For what? How dare they recommend that
to those who fought against colonialism and all its ugliness, ie racism,
injustices, discrimination, oppression, torture, exploitation and total
dehumanisation should go. Where? We will not be complacent and allow the
creeping in of neo-colonialism! We know how much they respect and venerate
their war veterans including reserving a day in their honour.”
However, Mugabe and Zanu PF argue that the only outstanding matters in the
GPA is the completion of the constitution-drafting process and referendum.
“Elections should come soon now that we have documents coming out,” Mugabe
told a Zanu PF central committee meeting last week.
“The reality of an election is looming and we begin to see panic in our
opposition. Definitely we should have elections next year.”
Zanu PF has even instructed its MPs not to debate any legislative reforms
sponsored by the MDC-T, such as Innocent Gonese’s Posa Amendment Bill,
currently in the senate.
Zanu PF senators on Tuesday categorically stated that they were not going to
debate Posa against the wishes of their principals.
Senator Alice Chimbudzi of Mount Darwin echoed these sentiments when she
said: “Chinamasa (Patrick) was clear that we should stay away from debating
this Bill. This is the first time we are debating a Private Member’s Bill.
On our side as Zanu PF we have been instructed not to debate.”
On the other hand the MDC-T threatened to block the Zimbabwe Human Rights
Commission (ZHRC) Bill and the Electoral Act Amendment Bill if Chinamasa
continued to steer them without taking into account the party’s concerns.
The MDC-T is against the clause in the ZHRC Bill prohibiting the commission
from investigating cases of human rights violations which occurred before
February 2009, and allows the minister to conceal certain information
received from the commission before presenting the annual report.
The party is also against the Electoral Act Amendment Bill which proposes to
create polling station-specific voters’ roll in the face of election
violence in the country.
“We are opposed to polling station-centred voters register because of
election violence witnessed in the country, particularly state-sponsored
violence,” said MDC spokesman Douglas Mwonzora.
Thursday, 13 October 2011 17:20
BULAWAYO residents will pay more in rates as council increases the 2012
budget from US$102 million to US$122 million amid revelations that
councillors would reject the budget since only nine consultative meetings
were held out of 29 wards. According to the budget, which is yet to be
unveiled but seen by the Zimbabwe Independent, council is proposing a US$122
million budget which would have to be approved by Local Government minister
Ignatius Chombo first before it can be implemented.
Of the US$122 million, council is budgeting US$69 012 764 for salaries and
allowances, representing 56% of the budget, while general expenses would
gobble up US$47 716 989, which translates to 39%. Repairs and maintenance
will take 15% of the budget or US$18 197 182 and capital charges will chew
US$11 481 499 or 9%.
The 2012 budget will see residents in high density suburbs, such as
Makokoba, paying US$22,32, up from US$12,62 in rates, while those in
Lobengula will part with US$23,16 from US$12,21. Those living in Morningside
will pay US$62,97, up from US$42,11.
Ratepayers in Ilanda will pay US$80,35 from US$29,95 and those in the
affluent suburb of Selborne Park will have their rates reviewed from
Council would collect most of its revenue from rates and supplementary
charges amounting to US$47 893 219 while licences and fees are expected to
amount to US$11 108 305 and rent will pour US$2 027 288 into council
coffers. Council rates will increase with effect from January 1 2012 while
supplementary charges for high density suburbs can only be reviewed after
Chombo approves the budget.
Some councillors yesterday said they had declined to discuss the budget at a
joint Finance and Development Committee and the General Purposes Committee
meeting attended by city treasurer Kempton Ndimande and Chamber secretary
The councillors argued that the budget could not be adopted at the Wednesday
meeting because the local authority had not called for an all-stakeholders
meeting while ward consultative meetings had not been completed. The city
fathers then agreed to hold consultative meetings this weekend after which a
special council meeting would be convened early next week to adopt the
budget before it’s submitted to Chombo before November 1.
“It’s also disappointing that council management wants to hold consultative
meetings when they have finished crafting the budget,” said a senior
councillor. “We need people’s concerns to be addressed. But although the
budget has been finalised, we have to give residents a chance to give their
input,” the councillor said.
Council spokesperson Nesisa Mpofu said the budget consultations were ongoing
and would be completed this weekend. She could not further discuss the
But the proposed rates increase is likely to be rejected by residents’
associations, which yesterday threatened to mobilise residents to
demonstrate against council.
The residents’ associations argue that ratepayers have been struggling to
pay rates and supplementary charges resulting in residents owing council
over US$8 million. Council has been on a massive water disconnection
exercise to push residents to settle their bills.
Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association spokesman Rodrick Fayayo
condemned the proposed increase of rates and supplementary budget saying
thousands of workers in the city were affected by the de-industrialisation
of Bulawayo and could not afford to pay the high charges.
“We will mobilise residents to reject the budget and I know we will do it
overwhelmingly,” Fayayo said.
Bulawayo residents are known for fierce protests, and have in the past
successfully blocked the Zimbabwe National Water Authority’s attempted
take-over of the city’s water reticulation.
Thursday, 13 October 2011 17:18
MDC-T Buhera Central MP Tangwara Matimba’s motion to clip Local Government
minister Ignatius Chombo’s wings by amending the Urban Councils’ Act as a
Private Members Bill is likely to face stiff resistance from Zanu PF which
views it as an attack on the executive led by President Robert Mugabe.
Matimba gave notice to the House on Wednesday that he would move the motion
to “amend the powers of central government over municipalities especially
interference by the minister who dabbles in the day to day running of
councils. In other words councils should be semi-autonomous.”
This would be the second Private Member’s Bill introduced by a backbencher
after Innocent Gonese’s Bill to amend Posa. Gonese’s bill has been gathering
dust in the senate.
Matimba said the amendments would also seek to deal with the issues of
special interest councillors and propose that councils be made up of only
Chombo has in the past fired MDC elected mayors and councils over flimsy
charges and replaced them with commissions. In other instances, he has
appointed special interest councilors only answerable to him.
Zanu PF MPs informally caucused at parliament soon after Matimba’s notice to
move the amendment arguing that it was an attack on the coalition
government, particularly on Mugabe.
“As a party, we have to make sure that we block this attempt by the MDC to
usurp the powers of the executive to bring in Bills like what Gonese did,”
said a Zanu PF MP. “Let’s make sure that we attend parliament in our numbers
to stop this when Matimba begs leave to move the motion,” he said.
Matimba can only move his Bill after receiving leave from the House since
the Standing Rules give preference to Bills from the executive.
Meanwhile, Zanu PF senators have remained adamant that Gonese should shelve
Posa amendments since they were part of the GPA negotiations.
Gonese’s amendments seek to curtail the police’s excessive powers in
determining the holding of public political meetings.
Police have been accused of using excessive force in blocking and breaking
up rallies by other parties, as well as refusing to grant them permission to
hold public meetings even though the Act simply requires them to be
Political parties and civil society argue that the law is selectively
applied since no Zanu PF rallies have ever been blocked in the past.
On Tuesday Gonese was forced to defer debate on restoration of the Bill to
the senate order paper until Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa returns to
the country after Zanu PF senators said they would not allow debate on it
until Chinamasa gives the go ahead.
“I think we have the legislature, the executive and the judiciary but the
executive is the supreme body of this country,” said Senator Nachi Mandaba.
“The negotiations were done by members of this supreme body and we do not
feel that we should be wasting our time to negotiate,” Mandaba said.
Ironically, Zanu PF MPS did not raise any objections when the Bill sailed
through the lower house last December.
Thursday, 13 October 2011 17:16
THE Zanu PF succession race has gained traction with the two main factions
led by Vice-President Joice Mujuru and Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa
hitting the campaign trail ahead of the party’s national conference set for
December in Bulawayo. The conference is likely to endorse President Robert
Mugabe as Zanu PF’s presidential candidate for elections the party is
pushing for in 2012.
Although there is no doubt that Mugabe’s candidacy will be confirmed, Mujuru
and Mnangagwa’s arch rivalry is likely to play out at the conference. In the
past month, Mujuru and Mnangagwa have held several rallies across the
country in what party insiders said was part of the ongoing power jostling.
The insiders said Mujuru and Mnangagwa’s factions would now have to contend
with an emerging “third force” being referred to as the Generation 40 (G40),
which has been quietly positioning itself as an alternative to the tainted
They said infighting was intensifying as it dawns on the main factions that
elections might be held in 2012 when Mugabe is still fit to stand as a
But if the polls are pushed to 2013 when they are constitutionally due, Zanu
PF officials said it would not be practical or reasonable to field Mugabe as
a candidate largely due to his old age and ill-health.
The party’s plan is to secure victory using Mugabe, and then press him to
resign and hand over power to a successor.
Zanu PF officials pointed out that the succession debate could no longer
remain a taboo after US cables revealed that most senior party leaders
wanted Mugabe to go.
As the party’s secretary of legal affairs, Mnangagwa has been crisscrossing
the country spelling out to supporters Zanu PF’s new rules and regulations
on primary elections.
Some party officials said these rallies were affording Mnangagwa an
opportunity to reinvent himself and showcase his leadership skills. They
said this was also his chance to present himself as presidential material.
While Mnangwagwa is using his party position to campaign, Mujuru is riding
on the sympathy factor following the mysterious death of her husband,
General Solomon Mujuru, at his Beatrice farm. Mujuru is also showing that
even without her husband, who was the rallying pillar and key strategist in
her camp, she has the courage and conviction to stand up and fight for the
Mujuru has been convening several meetings thanking supporters for the
sympathy and support they offered her during her bereavement. She has also
been meeting farmers and businesspeople.
A party insider said: “It is interesting to see how Mujuru and Mnangagwa are
positioning themselves. You can see that they are preparing us for a big
fight. But the fight will only come when Mugabe announces that he is
retiring, hopefully after he secures victory for the party. Mugabe is going
to be the party candidate for the elections, although many feel that the
Bulawayo conference would have been a great opportunity to usher in new
leadership, but as you know, no one will dare raise that issue, especially
now when many have been exposed by WikiLeaks cables.”
Another politburo official said there was a third force known as the G40,
who are preparing the ground for their candidate.
“Don’t rule out (Saviour) Kasukuwere, who if he implements the
indigenisation and empowerment programme properly, will be a force to reckon
with,” said the official. “The programme has the potential to be better than
the land reform,” he said.
Zanu PF’s campaign strategy has been to target traditional church sects,
businesspeople, the youth, women and urban dwellers in its bid to win the
polls and break free from the present coalition government and govern alone.
While its two MDC coalition government partners continue to bicker about the
election roadmap, Zanu PF is already in full election mode. Officials said
Zanu PF was already clear on what strategies to employ to win the elections.
To reclaim rural votes the party lost in the last election, Kasukuwere has
set up community trusts through which communities in mining areas would
benefit under the indigenisation and empowerment process.
All mining entities are required by law to ensure that local communities
owned 10% of firms operating in their area.
Targeting the youth, the Indigenisation ministry has set up a youth
development fund to assist youths with viable project proposals.
Through the party’s department of indigenisation and economic empowerment
and commissariat, Zanu PF is organising youths and women’s groups to produce
One such collaboration was witnessed last week when Diana Samkange launched
a CD and music video on indigenisation.
To ensure that it maintained its support base among farming communities, it
has been distributing inputs and pushing Finance minister Tendai Biti to
disburse US$40 million to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) to pay farmers for
produce delivered in the last farming season.
Mugabe portrayed the MDC-T as a party that was anti-farmers last week.
“MDC-T stands for the opposite, we want resources to be in the hands of our
people, but no, says the MDC-T – they should not belong to our people alone
but to the Europeans and the Americans so they can give us money,” said
“They are negatives, anti-people and puppets of imperialists… the MDC-T has
been showing a very negative view of the African farmer, a very negative
view of agriculture as if to say food and agriculture products do not matter
in our economy.”
Zanu PF also plans to use the “luxurygate” scandal in which Biti released
US$20 million to buy top-of-the-range vehicles for ministers, which were the
second lot they received in their two-years in office.
MDC-T leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s house scandal would be
another trump card which it wants to wave at the electorate. Tsvangirai
stands accused of misappropriating US$1,5 million in public funds meant to
buy a state residence for the premier.
Thursday, 13 October 2011 17:15
THE Commonwealth has said it looked forward to Zimbabwe’s return to the club
if the country meets certain benchmarks which its leadership is fully aware
of. Commonwealth Secretariat spokesperson Manoah Esipisu told the Zimbabwe
Independent that a report on Zimbabwe titled “Zimbabwe: Routes to Progress”
would be published when the Commonwealth Heads of Government gather in
Australia from October 28 to 30.
“We look forward to the time when Zimbabwe will return to the Commonwealth
family where it rightfully belongs,” said Esipisu. “The leadership in
Zimbabwe is aware of what needs to be done for their country to return to
the fold,” Esipisu said.
President Robert Mugabe withdrew Zimbabwe from the 54-member club consisting
of mainly former British colonies in 2003 after the organisation suspended
the country after Mugabe’s re-election in polls observers said were rigged.
Mugabe accused some countries of being “more equal than others”.
“If the choice were made, one for us to lose our sovereignty and become a
member of the Commonwealth or remain with our sovereignty and lose the
membership of the Commonwealth, I would say let the Commonwealth go,” Mugabe
said then after he made energetic attempts to stay in.
Esipisu said Sadc member states continued to play a constructive part in
bringing resolution and healing to Zimbabwe.
“The Commonwealth Organisations Committee on Zimbabwe has drawn together
civil society organisations and helped maintain links with the people of
Last week, a London-based think-tank, the Commonwealth Advisory Bureau,
suggested in its pre-summit briefing that the club could offer help to
Zimbabwe as a way of encouraging it to progress toward democracy.
“There are plenty of things the Commonwealth could do, if it so wished…It
could, for instance, calibrate a reduction in international sanctions
against Zimbabwe to match progress towards democracy and human rights, just
as it did to match progress in the Codesa negotiations in South Africa in
the early 1990s,” said the report.
However, David Howell, the British Foreign Office minister responsible for
relations with the Commonwealth, this week said the time was not ripe for
the Commonwealth to make a gesture to Zimbabwe.
“No one is going to encourage, certainly Britain isn’t going to encourage,
olive branches or anything else to Mugabe who is showing no sign of
recanting, standing down or removing some of his Zanu PF thugs from the
scene,” Howell said.
“But I think the Commonwealth certainly sees itself — when the time comes,
which is not yet — also being a leading force in helping the recovery of
Zimbabwe, the restoration of credible and properly monitored elections and
the revival of its whole economy and its role in the world,” he said.
Thursday, 13 October 2011 15:30
FINANCE minister Tendai Biti says government will issue another Diaspora
Bond after overwhelming success of US$50 million bond floated in July.
He said a follow-up instrument is being worked on and would be announced in
the 2012 national Budget. The idea of the Diaspora Bond was mooted in 2009
in a bid to enlist the services of Zimbabweans to help rebuild the economy.
In his 2010 Budget, Biti announced the bond, which is a co-operation between
government, CBZ Bank, and underwritten by the by the Cairo-based African
Export-Import Bank (Afreximbank).
However, due to high interest shown in the Diaspora Bond, a second facility
is on the cards.
“We have begun putting together a framework for a follow up bond but with a
different creative name. We hope to announce it in the 2012 Budget,” said
“To date, resources mobilised under the bond amount to US$42,5million and
the Diaspora Bond has benefited several companies which include Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority (US$3m), NetOne ($8m), Hwange Colliery (US$5m),
Investments (US$13m), transport and mining sector got US$5m.”
A bond is a contract to repay borrowed money with interest at fixed
Diaspora bonds have historically been crucial for raising development
finance during times of crisis in many developing countries particularly
India and Israel.
Records show that Israel has had yearly bond issues since 1951 and had
raised US$25 billion by the end of 2007, while India has had three separate
bond issues since 1991 and had raised US$11, 7 billion by the third issue in
More than three million Zimbabweans are in South Africa, UK and the US owing
to the political and economic crisis of the last decade.
Biti said the bond and several other home-grown financial instruments are a
measure of raising money from the domestic market.
“Zimbabwe is in a unique and horrible situation in that we only depend on
one fiscal instrument to finance operations, that is budget and taxation,
yet other countries rely on overseas assistance,” he said. “There is huge
money on overseas borrowing which Zimbabwe cannot access, World Bank (US$75
billion for sub-Saharan Africa), Africa Development Bank (US$30 billion),
but because of our crippling domestic debt we are ruled out.”
Zimbabwe’s national debt is said to be more than US$7 billion, outstripping
the country’s GDP, which is estimated at just over US$6 billion in 2010.
The bulk of the country’s external debt is owed to multilateral creditors
and the debt has continued to grow mainly as a consequence of interest and
penalty charges on existing payment arrears.
Thursday, 13 October 2011 15:36
STOCKS fell significantly in the third quarter in the wake of heightened
indigenisation threats by government, which dampened investor confidence and
sentiment. The key industrial index shed 6,80% to close at 155,82 with the
mining index plummeting 11,03% to close the quarter to September 30 at
Market capitalisation fell by 14,12% after foreign buyers deserted the
Foreign investors have been driving activity on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange,
given the current tight liquidity challenges facing the economy.
Foreign deals accounted for 70% of the trades on the ZSE, with local
investors, mainly institutional investors, playing a limited role.
In the same quarter, a total of US$43,5 million shares were bought by
foreign investors with foreign sales totalling US$45,2 million, a sign that
investors became very wary of the country risk and could not hold on to
their shares given the unclear investing environment.
Government in the same quarter set the deadline for submission of
indigenisation proposals to September 25, 2011, a development that put the
spotlight on mining companies such as Zimplats and foreign-owned
institutions as Old Mutual, Standard Chartered Bank and Stanbic.
In September alone, foreign activity in the market was subdued, with only
36,7 million shares worth US$7,3 million being bought against a selloff of
50,1 million shares worth US$9,1 million.
The mining index in the period under review shed 24%, with the industrial
index gaining a marginal 3%.
In the quarter, 36 counters fell while 31 counters recorded gains, and 8
counters were static.
Retail counters led the pack with Pelhams and TN Holdings Ltd both surging a
massive 400% to 80US cents and 4US cents respectively.
The introduction of credit terms on products has greatly driven sales for
retailers. Most retailers are now offering credit terms for periods longer
than six months, much to the relief of consumers who are currently facing
tight liquidity challenges.
Pelhams has gone up 700% as of end of September.
TN Holdings Ltd’s share price performance was buoyed by a set of good
interim financial results in which it made a profit of US$5,7million,
compared to a US$1,56million loss in the prior year. The growth in earnings
was as a result of a significant turnaround in the furniture business and
also a notable increase in profits from the banking division.
Falgold snatched third position following a commendable set of results in
which it posted a profit after tax of US$736 020 from a loss of US$1,9
million in the prior year. Firming commodity prices saw the price of gold
peaking above US$1 800 in the quarter mile the market welcomed news that
operations at Dalny Mine and Golden Quarry Mine had resumed.
The bottom five performers for the quarter were NTS, Rio Zim, Radar, Celsys
and Caps. Most of these companies are facing multifaceted problems which
include undercapitalisation, huge debt burdens and low capacity utilisation.
In the current quarter to 31 December 2011, the market will await the 2012
Budget statement where most companies will be anticipating policy measures
which can give impetus to their operations and hopefully turn around their
With the current bickering on elections by the major political players, it
would be interesting to note if the budget provides funding for a referendum
and elections. The holding of elections next year will continue to dampen
confidence on the stock market, since the country risk will definitely go
up, which in turn will scare foreign investors.
Thursday, 13 October 2011 15:28
THE launch last week of mobile banking services by Econet Wireless Zimbabwe
and Telecel Zimbabwe has charted a new era in delivery of banking products
to the public, analysts have observed. Zimbabwe, which has for long lagged
behind in terms of ICT development, seems to have turned a new corner, with
new forms of banking anticipated to foster financial inclusion of the
In the region, Botswana has the highest mobile penetration rate of 125%,
followed by South Africa at 102%, Zimbabwe stands at 66% and compares higher
to Kenya at 50%.
The use of mobile phones has increased in developing countries, but judging
by Zimbabwe’s mobile penetration rate, there is still a huge gap compared
to first world countries which are generations ahead in terms of ICT.
In the banking sector, Kingdom Bank and Tetrad Investment Bank were the
first innovators with their virtual mobile-banking packages. Both the
Kingdom CellCard and Tetrad’s E-Mali offered customers a platform to
transact using mobile phones.
But because of the banks’ small branch network in the country and market
presence, there was a huge gap to be filled as the majority of the
population did not have access to these products and did not know about
them. But as pioneers, Kingdom and Tetrad laid a foundation for others to
Interfin Bank marketing boss Palmer Mugavha sees the platform growing fast.
“The adoption of mobile technology is viral and the use of mobile banking
services will quickly spread,” he said.
With EcoCash from Econet Wireless, subscribers can now send and receive
money quickly and easily through mobile phones. TN Bank partnered Econet
where they will register agents who will able to facilitate transacting
using the platform.
The Telecel system, which is technically different from Econet’s EcoCash,
has the advantage of offering a wide range of products to its users due to
its strategic partnership with ZimSwitch participating banks.
“It’s like an ecosystem, where we are exploiting the core competencies of
our partners. ZimSwitch is competent at handling financial transactions and
us as banks are competent in delivery cash and managing liquidity,” said
Kevin Terry the MD of CABS Building Society.
ZimSwitch is a financial platform that is used to connect and carry out
transactions amongst banks and has been operational for the past 15 years
with 19 financial institutions connected through it.
“Together we have more than half a million customers, which is almost half
the number of banked individuals in Zimbabwe. We expect that by year-end
about 85% of banks will be ZimSwitch ready,” said Obert Mandimika, the
marketing director of Telecel Zimbabwe during the launch.
The greatest advantage of connecting through ZimSwitch for the mobile
banking service is that the banks will enjoy synergies of being already
connected to a web of institutions where users are able to send and receive
money through any ZimSwitch-ready outlet, be it a bank or an agent.
The cost of transacting under these mobile innovations is an area of concern
since bank charges are relatively high in Zimbabwe. However, ZimSwitch is
expected to lower the costs of transacting.
EcoCash transaction fees are well above normal banking charges. Analysts say
the high charges might be stemming from the cost of going solo where the
mobile phone operator incurs high IT infrastructure costs to setup the whole
Analysts say the high transaction fees will not help a new business trying
to get as many clients on the platform, especially in the face of a
relatively cheaper alternative in the competition’s financially inclusive
But the cost of transacting is expected to go down as competition sets in.
Just as in Kenya, one of Africa’s fastest growing mobile banking markets,
mobile-cellular tariffs have come down considerably due to increasing
competition between providers in Kenya. New entrant Airtel sparked a price
war and initiated fierce competition in the Kenyan market last year by
reducing voice-call rates by half and cutting prices of Short Message
Service charges (in local currency) from KES 3 to KES 1 (US$ 0,03 to US$
Other operators, such as Safaricom and Telkom Kenya, expectedly followed
suit, making further cuts to their mobile rates. The cheaper calling rates
captured new subscribers in under-penetrated market segments and made mobile
banking services more affordable.
A recent halt to any further tariff reductions was announced in May 2011 by
the Communications Commission of Kenya (CCK) and President Mwai Kibaki in
order to evaluate the impact and economic profitability of the price wars.
Analysts say Zimbabwe should have this kind of competition, adding that it
is healthy as service providers will always look at offering a low-cost
product which is affordable to the low-end market.
For instance, a charge of US$7 for withdrawing US$100 is relatively costly
to rural folk, who are struggling to earn any meaningful income from their
subsistence farming activities.
But these mobile banking platforms also need to address the issue of
security as electronic means of transacting have been subject to hacking by
fraudsters, analysts added.
Financial institutions and mobile operators need to keep their eyes on the
ball so that they continually develop security systems and features to
prohibit such occurrences.
There is no need for users to hold accounts with financial institutions for
them to be able to transact using the mobile banking facilities, but the
Know Your Customer (KYC) requirements need to be fully addressed through
relevant regulatory authorities.
Since this is a banking product, use of mobile phones makes it even easier
for money launderers to conceal their identity. Banking experts say the
Postal and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (POTRAZ) and
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe need to work together to fight against possible
money laundering activities.
POTRAZ this year reined-in on mobile operators to start disconnecting
unregistered subscribers. This move saw many subscribers providing their
personal details so that they are traceable.
Thursday, 13 October 2011 16:20
THERE was a rather revealing picture of “Bishop” Nolbert Kunonga in NewsDay
on Monday. The aisles behind him in the Anglican Cathedral were packed by
his female supporters wearing their blue and white uniforms. And what wisdom
did the “bishop” convey at his press conference given from the pulpit?
He called Bishop Chad Gandiya “a silly man” for inviting “a homosexual” to
The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, was the target of this
childish abuse. We wonder what he made of it!
Gandiya is the duly anointed bishop of the Anglican church of the Province
of Central Africa, but he has been the victim of an attempted takeover by
Kunonga’s mob. They have seized the Anglican cathedrals in Harare and Mutare
and other Anglican centres such as mission schools.
Dr Williams is not as far as we know, how shall we say, light on his feet,
so why is he being called all sorts of names? Back home at Lambeth Palace
the Archbishop is under fire for having refused to endorse gay priests in
the American wing of the Anglican communion. He is in fact opposed to their
appointment. So why has Kunonga seized upon it when nobody else shares his
passion for the subject?
Quite simply this is part and parcel of a wider war. Zimbabwe has over the
past 10 years become a totalitarian state where all aspects of the country’s
life are subject to a single command. Kunonga has risen from obscurity
because he has embraced President Robert Mugabe’s “bold stance” on the
issue. He has even been rewarded with a farm we are told.
Quite clearly Kunonga is not his own man. He has become an instrument of
Zimbabwe’s party-political empire builders. Nobody except perhaps his army
of female admirers takes him seriously. He is a cog in the Zanu PF wheel.
Just as we have Lawyers for Justice, Pan-African Youth Union, Zimbabwe
Entrepreneurs Youth Action, Upfumi Kuvadiki, Exhumers Association of
Zimbabwe, Coffin Makers Association of Zimbabwe, and Destiny for Afrika
Network, so we have Kunonga and his gang of Zanu PF-inspired bigots. At
least Mugabe was able to hear the testimony of the Anglican bishops on the
extent of the violence and property seizures across the country.
Williams quoted his predecessor Michael Ramsay who spoke of how a former
ruling class clung on to the power they had seized at the expense of the
indigenous people and ignored their rights and their hopes for dignity and
“How tragic that this should be replaced,” Williams said, “by another kind
of lawlessness where so many live in daily fear of attack if they fail to
comply with what the powerful require of them.”
In this vein we were amused to see ZTV’s choice of cartoons last Saturday
morning. It was George Orwell’s Animal Farm, a particularly well-made
animated version of the great anti-Stalinist political satire.
Most readers will know the story of how the pigs took over the farm
oppressing all the other animals. Hound-dogs killed all chicken, goats and
other animals that opposed the despotic rule of Napoleon whose portrait hung
When the corrupt pigs took over they threw a banquet while the cold and
oppressed animals outside looked on. The corrupt hierarchy of pigs traded
their farm produce for a steady supply of whisky from the neighbouring
farmers. They soon got drunk. Eventually the farmhouse was liberated and
Napoleon was overthrown.
This was screened at prime-time viewing for kids. We hope they learnt a
thing or two.
And when ZTV next want to conceal the president’s visit somewhere they must
remember to maintain Joice Mujuru’s designation as vice-president and not
say she was acting president. That is a dead give-away!
We were interested to hear President Mugabe’s suggestion when opening the
Zanu PF Central Committee meeting in Harare last week that the MDC-T should
resign from the government if they oppose the indigenisation law.
Why should they resign? It is Mugabe who lost the last election, not the
MDC. There has been little or no support for the dubious indigenisaton law
which is universally viewed as a Zanu PF help-yourself scheme. It will prove
extremely damaging to the economy which is why the MDC-T opposes it.
Zanu PF zealots have been writing to the Herald suggesting that if the MDC-T
seeks to undermine the indigenisation law, the offenders must be “brought to
Haven’t they got it the wrong way round? Shouldn’t it be the architects of a
law which undermines the economy by scaring off investors and impoverishing
ordinary Zimbabweans be the ones “brought to book”?
The Indigenisation Act was on the statute book when Zimbabweans went to the
polls in 2008. They unambiguously rejected Zanu PF’s punishing policies. Why
should the winners of that election resign while the defeated incumbent sits
tight and enacts bad laws?
Another point here: the whole purpose of the Sadc intervention in 2007 was
to avert precisely the policies Zanu PF is forcing down the throats of
As if companies operating in Zimbabwe are not embattled enough, Defence
minister Emmerson Mnangagwa has called on all foreign-owned companies
operating in Zimbabwe to “clearly state where they stand on the issue of
Mnangagwa said this while addressing Zanu PF supporters at Nyama Business
Centre in Zvishavane.
He said those who do not support the “illegal” sanctions should openly
denounce them as they have “stalled the country’s economic development and
caused untold suffering” to the people of Zimbabwe.
Mnangagwa should be reminded that when you point your finger at someone,
three fingers are pointing back at you. Surely most Zimbabweans know who and
what has “stalled the country’s economic development and caused untold
suffering”. We were already reeling from Zanu PF’s poisonous policies way
before the “illegal” sanctions were put in place.
He said those companies that do not denounce the sanctions can as well go
back to their respective countries of origin.
According to ZBC, Mnangagwa also took a swipe at America, which is
“attacking its citizens and journalists in a bid to quell the current unrest
that has rocked the country for days”.
He said the violence in New York “has exposed the hipocricy (sic) of the so
called champion of democracy, which is on record as claiming that Zimbabwe
is a lawless state”.
Meanwhile, ZBC chief correspondent Reuben Barwe was on Monday angry on
President Mugabe’s behalf after some of the media accompanying Dr Williams
asked the latter about Mugabe’s health.
According to Barwe, the “embedded” journalists had the “audacity” to ask
Williams about the president’s health. Quite obviously Barwe is opposed to
journalists who ask questions!
A few words for our old friend Taffy Mahoso. It is rather unlikely that any
newspaper would refer to “shoe licking”. Where did he get that from? It is
more likely to be boots that are getting licked.
And contrary to his claims, this newspaper in 2002 challenged him to produce
what evidence he had of Walter Kansteiner’s claims that independent
newspapers were the recipients of American aid.
As far as we know, no such aid was forthcoming.
The Americans obviously thought better of it. If Mahoso thinks he has
evidence of such largesse perhaps he can produce it!
As for newspapers “gratuitously attacking” Jonathan Moyo, hasn’t Mahoso got
things a bit mixed up! Who has been doing the attacking?
A thoughtful editorial from the Financial Mail’s Barney Mthombothi caught
our attention recently. It was about Africa’s failure to confront its
“Unless we start owning up to our problems, to our culpability and
complicity, we will be nowhere near finding a solution,” Mthombothi says.
He points to famine relief in the Horn of Africa coming from Britain (£100
million, including £13 million from the public). Canada is chipping in with
C$50 million. “The South African government has come to the party with a
paltry million rand,” he says.
So far no other African country has made a donation.
“The suffering of ordinary people sadly does not often rouse our leaders
into action,” Mthombothi says. “They are more likely to spring to the
defence of people like Robert Mugabe and Muammar Gaddafi than visit the
refugee camps that the actions of these despots may spawn.”
Thabo Mbeki has been venting his spleen on the West, Mthombothi tells us. He
lays the continent’s problems at the door of the West and the UN, he says.
Mbeki flays the West for the conflicts in the Ivory Coast and Libya.
“Mbeki is an intelligent man,” Mthombothi says. “He should know that the
progress he seeks (in Africa) cannot be achieved by purveying half-truths.
It merely sidetracks people from the real issues. French intervention in the
Ivory Coast prevented a calamitous civil war stoked by its leaders while
Africa stood by.”
In Libya, he says, the UN mission was meant to avert the slaughter of
innocent people while Africa’s leaders happily sided with the murderer.
“The last time the UN sat on its hands was with respect to Rwanda and around
half a million people were hacked to death.” Paul Kagame is still making
political capital out of it.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if we blamed ourselves, starting with the
machete-wielding thugs who did the actual killings,” Mthombothi asks. “Why
don’t we look at ourselves? “Who knows, we may just collide with a solution.
“‘Look what they have done to us’ we say plaintively to those who care to
listen. We are forever victims, never masters of our own fate. But every
handout that assaults our dignity, every emaciated child who dies
needlessly, is an indictment of Africa.”
Meanwhile, Muckraker is pleased to note that South Africa’s submission to
China on the issue of a visa for the Dalai Lama to attend Archbishop Tutu’s
birthday party has exposed the emptiness of Pretoria’s claims to a human
rights-based foreign policy which ignores the country’s own constitution.
Tutu called the government’s actions “disgraceful” and “worse than the
Another blow came from Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week who
criticised South Africa’s refusal to condemn Syria in the UN vote.
“I fully accept South Africa’s decision,” the Turkish PM said, “but innocent
people are being mercilessly killed in Syria and we ought to be on their
Indeed “we ought”.
Children learning at schools where Anglican Church faction leader, Bishop
Nolbert Kunonga, is repossessing properties are safe, deputy Education
minister Lazarus Dokora recently said.
Speaking after conducting a “fact finding mission” last week, Dokora said
contrary to reports by some people, the school system was “flowing smoothly”.
The faction led by Bishop Kunonga recently evicted a priest, headmasters and
senior nursing staff at the school on the basis of a Supreme Court judgment
that gave it custody of the properties.
Dokora went on to claim that government was “unfazed” by the religious
battles as school pupils and teachers were not affected.
“We went there to find the natural conditions at the school following the
various reports”, he said. “Surprisingly, the reports are completely
divorced from the situation on the ground. The school system is flowing
normally and we met villagers, who did not recognise us and talked to them
without them knowing who we were,” Dokora said.
The fact that a priest, headmasters and senior nursing staff at the school
had been unceremoniously evicted and have had to secure temporary shelter
from the community, seems to have escaped Dokora’s notice.
Whose interests is he supposed to protect? What about the plight of the
headmasters under his jurisdiction? We wonder what will “faze” the deputy
minister if this doesn’t.
Thursday, 13 October 2011 16:15
OVER the last fortnight, the Minister of Finance Tendai Biti and his team
have been very energetically engaged in widespread consultations as to
matters to be addressed in the 2012 national Budget, due for presentation to
parliament next month.
That they are doing so is very commendable, for they cannot otherwise
possibly be aware of that which is critically necessary for the survival,
recovery and growth of Zimbabwe’s distraught economy. And it is especially
of importance because whilst one must accord approbation to the minister for
his vigorous endeavours since early 2009 to achieve a substantive economic
turnaround (with a modicum of success), nevertheless the economy is still
bedevilled with a multitude of grievous ills.
Moreover, whilst most of those ills are consequences of political
machinations of others in the so-called Government of National Unity (GNU),
nevertheless some are directly attributable to ill-considered policies which
have emanated from and been pursued by the minister, albeit undoubtedly in
good faith and not with ill-intent.
The harsh facts are that on the one hand, although the economy has attained
some growth, that growth has been from a low base. The majority of Zimbabwe’s
population continue to suffer extreme poverty and the marginal recovery is
recurrently hindered, and partially reversed, by appallingly conceived
political policies and statements, and by foolhardy government actions.
Admittedly, few of those are attributable to Biti and he has done much that
is constructive. Nevertheless, his fiscal role is that not only must he do
more that is right, but he must also intensify his endeavours to contain the
foolhardy, damaging actions of others insofar as it may be possible for him
to do so.
The minister’s task is a most unenviable one, for the fiscus is bankrupt,
and the desultory economy cannot possibly yield all the revenues that are
necessary to service essential needs, let alone also the very desirable
economic, social and other expenditures. It is his misfortune that not only
must he make the suit fit the available cloth, but at the same time he must
seek to enhance availability of cloth without excessively and
counter-productively shearing the sheep!
To that end, he must first and foremost ensure that the non-beneficial
outflows of many funds ceases immediately. It is incomprehensible that
almost nine months ago it was identified that the government was “employing”
over 75 000 ghost workers. If each of those non-existent or mythical beings
is earning only US$200 per month, the direct cost to government is US$180
million per annum. There can be no credible explanation for failure to
counter this erosion of Zimbabwe’s meagre resources with extreme haste. If
government in general, and the Ministry of Finance in particular, do not
have the requisite forensic skills to effectively address this ongoing fraud
forthwith, then private sector or international skills should be accessed to
In like manner, there must be unreservedly great determination to contain
the immense corruption prevailing within the public sector that is costing
Treasury (and hence the taxpayers) massive amounts that are otherwise
greatly needed for national well-being. Such corruption is very diverse,
ranging from misappropriation of supplies, unjustified travel, abuse and
misuse of state assets, receipt of supplier “commissions” for untoward
contractual awards, and much else. Obviously, not the entire government and
its employees are corrupt, but the populace is very well aware that many
are. In addition, there must be a much more vigorous endeavour to minimise
state expenditures which yield little, if any benefits (It is inexplicable
that delegations to sessions of the UN should exceed 80 persons, with all
concomitant travel expenses and per diem allowances and like excesses for
innumerable other hierarchy travels).
Similarly, how does Zimbabwe, with a resident population of less than 12
million, smaller than that of one state in the US, justify having more
ministers, deputy ministers and ancillary echelons than have the government
of US and most other developed countries? Equally, the public service has
grossly more numbers than required for a country of Zimbabwe’s size and
population. Admittedly, Zimbabwe cannot afford to pay large retrenchment
packages, but by natural attrition and attendant internal reorganisation,
numbers could progressively be significantly reduced.
Much else is required to be addressed, initially in the forthcoming budget,
but ongoing in future years. Some of the greatest priorities include:
The threshhold for individuals to pay tax MUST be raised. It is harshness
and cruelty in the extreme to tax persons on incomes below the Poverty
Datum Line (PDL). Currently, the PDL for a family of six is in excess of
US$500 per month. Assuming that family has two income earners, with one
earning marginally more than the other, the lowest tenable threshhold level
would be US$300, as distinct from the current US$250. The minister may well
say “But, I need the money”! However, that is no justification to worsen
the poverty-related hardships of so many. Moreover, if taxpayers have
greater spending power, the minister will generate much compensatory income
by way of indirect taxes, such as Vat and customs duties, whilst enhanced
consumer spending will be economically stimulatory, resulting in further
downstream tax revenues.
Similarly, in order to alleviate much national distress, any and all
importations of medical equipment, medications, and healthcare requisites as
are not locally produced should be wholly exempted from all import duties
and Vat, irrespective of whether they are being imported by individuals for
own use, or by healthcare providers or other enterprises.
Concurrently with addressing the import duties and Vat issues associated
with national health, Minister Biti needs to review other importation
imposts. Zimbabwe is desperately trying to assure the survival and
resurrection of its horrendously debilitated industrial sector, and yet in
February 2011 the Minister markedly reduced duties of clothing, footwear,
textiles and other products which compete with those manufactured in
Zimbabwe, compounding the unfair and unbalanced competition that many of
those imports have against Zimbabwean products by virtue of grossly
excessive export subsidies (in breach of the World Trade Organisation
rules), provided by the governments of some exporting countries.
The minister must raise the import duties on such products to rates which
level the playing fields and thereby support the continuance and revival of
industry. At the same time, he needs to reduce the import duty rates on
those manufacturing inputs that must be imported, because they are not
Thursday, 13 October 2011 16:08
THE year 2010 was an annus horribilis for most Bulawayo companies which were
forced to scale down operations or shut down due to serious viability
challenges and lack of lines of credit. About 87 companies were forced to
close shop resulting in over 20 000 redundancies in what was the one-time
industrial hub of Zimbabwe, and resuscitating ailing firms is of paramount
Finance minister Tendai Biti launched a US$40 million revolving fund on
Monday at a ceremony which was oversubscribed, raising fears that there
would be a serious scramble for the money to be disbursed under the
Distressed and Marginalised Areas Fund (Dimaf).
The enthusiasm exhibited during the launch of the fund displayed the drive
and commitment of business to boost operations in the Bulawayo industrial
hub of Belmont, Kelvin and Donnington, which have become ghost
At the height of industrial production, Bulawayo contributed 25% to the
country’s gross domestic product and was home to big textile, clothing,
pharmaceutical, metal and electrical firms employing thousands.
But in the last decade, the city has seen little industrial activity with
once renowned parastatals such as the National Railways of Zimbabwe
operating way below capacity and constantly failing to pay workers.
Due to the massive railway network, Bulawayo was considered the transport
hub linking several Sadc cities and towns.
A probe by a seven-member cabinet taskforce chaired by Industry and Commerce
minister Welshman Ncube indicated that US$50 million was required by 17
companies to kick-start production because most of them required new
equipment to replace the obsolete machinery, dating back to 1975 in some
cases, which they were using.
Therefore, the question is that if 17 companies required US$50 million, then
how many firms would benefit from the US$40 million set aside by government
in conjunction with Old Mutual, which contributed US$20 million to the fund.
Fears were expressed during the fund launch that some undeserving companies
would benefit, including those from outside Bulawayo.
But Biti said although the money would be disbursed through CABS, his office
would administer the fund to ensure transparency. The beneficiaries of the
fund, Biti said, would be made public in his 2012 national budget statement
More money would be poured into the fund to help companies boost operations
and re-create employment for the more than 20 000 workers left jobless at
the height of problems bedevilling Bulawayo firms.
While some industrialists say US$40 million is a drop in the ocean, many
believe that it provides some relief to cushion companies after many years
of battling to stay afloat.
Biti explained that the US$40 million fund would be lent to companies at
below average market interest rates of 15% and would be a long-term finance
scheme as part of government’s effort to create conditions of booming
“Dimaf will focus on provinces that have been lagging behind; areas that
have not been equally enjoying the national cake compared to other towns and
cities. At the beginning of next year, we will put in an additional fund,”
Captains of industry said the cash-strapped coalition government’s bid to
help struggling companies was a giant step considering a myriad of
challenges it is facing.
But industrialists have demanded a forensic inspection of companies before
disbursement of funds to ensure the needy benefited first. Confederation of
Zimbabwe Industries Matabeleland Chapter president Ruth Labode said plans
were already underway to form a taskforce to draw up a list of companies
which should be prioritised.
In the Zimbabwe Industrial Development Policy (ZIDP) adopted by cabinet a
fortnight ago, the government has identified priority areas such as food and
beverages, clothing and textiles, pharmaceuticals and metals and electrical
goods as pillars of industrial development.
The Let Bulawayo Survive report which paved the way for the release of the
US$40 million fund, would be used together with the ZIDP, which is targeting
the increase of manufacturing capacity utilisation from 45% to 80% between
now and 2015. ZIDP is also aimed at increasing the manufacturing sector
contribution to GDP from 15% to 30%.
“We are guarding the US$40 million jealously because we are aware that there
are Harare companies and greedy businessmen who are targeting the fund,”
said Labode. “Biti said the money is for Bulawayo and we don’t want
outsiders to benefit,” she said.
She said it was misleading to dismiss the US$40 million as a drop in the
ocean considering that the money was coming from a cash-strapped government.
But analyst Chamu Mutasa said the Dimaf was also likely to be used by
political parties to build their power base ahead of elections expected next
MDC-T, Zanu PF and MDC-N have been scrambling for the resuscitation of
industries which they want to use to score political points in the usually
political volatile Bulawayo.
MDC-T and Zanu PF set up committees to spearhead the development of Bulawayo
as well as the other two Matabeleland provinces. The move, Mutasa said, was
mere politicking which does not represent the genuine concerns affecting
Apart from the US$40 million fund, cabinet has also come up with a raft of
resolutions to boost industrial production, and these include scrapping of
duty on raw materials and correction of Zesa tariffs discrepancies for
The power sector should also be opened to private sector players for
transmission and distribution modes through the Public/Private Partnerships
Physical checks at border posts would also be intensified to curb high
incidents of smuggling. On judicial managers, it was resolved in cabinet
that it be limited to overseeing not more than two companies and that
companies that do not owe creditors should be immediately removed from
judicial management through provision of working capital.
Thursday, 13 October 2011 16:05
Continued from last week
The hope and aspiration of democratic forces in Zimbabwe was that the
coalition government would be a genuine transition that would create
conditions for free and fair elections and the ushering in of a new
Zimbabwe, argues Biti in this second instalment of a two-part article.
But, according to Biti, the truth of the matter is that we are nowhere near
genuine transition today than we were in 2000. He gives the reasons why:
It was Immanuel Kant who stated that “nothing straight can be made from the
timber of crooked humanity”. He may very well have had in mind the Zanu PF
leadership of 1980.
The point I am making is that post-Independence leadership in Zimbabwe put a
premium on lack of a vision and direction. The Zanu PF leadership in 1980
lacked a dream to aspire to. Perhaps there is truth in what Ibbo Mandaza has
argued in the preface to Edgar Tekere autobiography: “The vision of a
democratic society in which the violations and denials of the colonial era
would be a thing of the past and a new meritocracy established. Almost half
a century into post-independence, Africa as a whole has demonstrated a
glaring (economic and political) incapacity to fulfil this vision.”
The question I pose is: What vision of a Zimbabwe did the post- Independence
leaders have? How did they see Zimbabwe in 1990, in 2000, in 2010 and 40
years later in 2020?
I wonder how Morris Nyagumbo would have answered this question in 1980. My
suspicion is that he would have foreseen a prosperous Zimbabwe, a modern
stable and competitive democracy. The truth of the matter is that wherever
he is, his dream has been betrayed.
Indeed the truth of the matter is that all nationalists had a dream for a
free and equal Zimbabwe, not the one in which we are held hostage to the
romanticism of the struggle as if there is not one black Zimbabwean who did
not participate in this struggle in one form or another.
The fact of the matter is that the revolution has failed. Hope and
expectation were hijacked and the last 31 years have been a wasteland of
pain and missed opportunities. Indeed, as Langston Hughes dramatically put
it in his poem A Dream Deferred, we must all ask: “What happens to a dream
deferred? Does it dry up like a raisin in the sun? Or fester like a sore —
And then run? Does it stink like rotten meat? Or crust and sugar over — like
a syrupy sweet? Maybe it just sags like a heavy load. Or does it explode?”
The truth of the matter is that bad leadership has put a premium on this
country. I have often wondered how this country would have been had Herbert
Chitepo not have been assassinated in March 1979. The same applies to great
visionaries like Parirenyatwa, Nikita Mangena, Jason Moyo and Josiah
My suspicion is that things would not have been what they are now. For the
past 31 years we have been prisoners to a leadership that has done nothing
but concentrate on how to gain power, how to maintain power and how not to
However, no one should be surprised that the post-Independent Zimbabwean
state has been a failure. As shown by the brilliant Wilfred Mhanda in his
unparalleled autobiography, “even before independence and during the
liberation struggle, the dominant leadership did not have a vision but was
concerned with power and its reproduction and their personal reproduction”.
The plots and counter-plots, the schemes and counter-schemes that Mhanda
discloses in his book Dzino are true evidence of this power retention
The pursuit of the gospel of power has resulted in the emasculation of the
state resulting in a personalised and militarised vampire state. The vampire
state has had no respect for constitutions, institutions and the rule of
law. The vampire state has used violence to reproduce itself.
This brings me to the dynamics of the GPA and the inclusive government. The
hope and aspiration of democratic forces in Zimbabwe was that the coalition
government would be a genuine transition that would create conditions for
free and fair elections and the ushering in of a new Zimbabwe.
But the truth of the matter is that we are nowhere near genuine transition
today than we were in 2000. Genuine transition will only occur when the old
order can trust the new order and is ready to transfer power to the new
order. Genuine transfer will only occur when a turning point has been
reached when an old order realises that its old ways and thinking are no
longer sustainable. Moreover there are instances when the old order knows it
is on its way out but will fight back.
Holmquist F and Ford M put this point succinctly in a 1992 article in Africa
Today: “...transitions from authoritarian rule are inevitably fraught with
uncertainty and danger. It is not democracy or elections that are so
dangerous but rather the mayhem that sitting regimes are capable of
fomenting in their efforts to squeeze the most out of eroding power
Does that mean that the situation is unsalvageable? In my respective view,
there is light at the end of the tunnel even though the tunnel might be
longer. The people of Zimbabwe are hungry for change and will not allow this
dream to be deferred. Testimony to this is the continued relevance and
support for Morgan Tsvangiari and the MDC brand. Witness the thousands of
people that have attended our rallies recently. Thus the existence of a huge
mass of people that is ready for real change.
Secondly is the desire and quest for change in Zanu PF itself. Virtually
every Zanu PF minister, MP or leader that you speak to confirm the
fundamental reality that things cannot go on as they are. The WikiLeaks
exposures have not told us anything that we did not know. The challenge in
Zanu PF is whether or not their internal succession mechanism will be able
to generate a core-group of individuals that can be shareholders in a new
The greatest danger facing Zanu PF is that there is a small but powerful
component of hardliners that are in or linked to the military who have
abrogated to themselves the guardianship of national good as defined by
themselves and will do anything to stop real change in Zimbabwe.
The third area of comfort lies in the millions of Zimbabwean that are in the
diaspora. This huge population has been exposed to sophisticated systems and
values that put the citizen first. They remain loyal to Zimbabwe as
evidenced by their blogs and nocturnal activities on facebook and twitter.
In this group of Zimbabweans are scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs,
millionaires and billionaires. Surely with such a group of people the
country will be in good hands.
Fourth is globalisation and Zimbabwe’s integration. Zimbabwe is part of the
international village and cannot stand in isolation for long. Therefore
Zimbabwe cannot continue to exist and remain impervious or immune to
developments happening around it. If leadership renewal takes place in the
Ivory Coast and elsewhere Zimbabwe cannot continue to be an innocent
Fifth, international law and international institutions such as Sadc, UN, AU
and indeed the entire infrastructure of modern international jurisprudence
has moved since the days of Article 2.7 of the UN Charter when everything
that happened in a country was entirely the business of that country. As the
late and great Kader Ismal has pointed out in his autobiography Politics In
My Blood, “International law has become a tool not only in the liberation of
people but in the entrenchment of fundamental human rights”.
Thus, “the orthodox and conservative” approach to international law which
conferred on states the exclusive rights of sovereign management of its own
affairs is gone. What happens to your neighbour is no longer foreign policy
but domestic policy. Sovereignty is no longer absolute. International bodies
such as Sadc and the UN will not allow the madness of June 2008 or the
continued deferment of the people’s dream of real change in Zimbabwe.
However, the biggest hope for our nation is that dialogue is taking place
and we have learnt to appreciate dialogue. The truth of the matter is that
in churches, boardrooms dialogue is taking place. This dialogue must
continue. There must be the deepening of dialogue between political parties,
civil society and government, business and labour. A nation that forsakes
dialogue opens itself to the uncertainly of a jungle of suspicion and
Indeed the dialogue amongst Zimbabwe and major political parties must
graduate from the folly of power sharing agreement to the genuine
foundations that will midwife a new Zimbabwe and guarantee the existence and
actualisation of the vision expounded by Tapiwa Mashakada in his medium term
policy of a “modern, stable democratic developmental state”.
So maybe this generation will leave the new Zimbabwe that Nyagumbo, Chitepo,
Nkomo, Learnmore Jongwe, Jason Moyo, Mangena, Tenjiwe Lesabe, Tongogara and
Solomon Mujuru never saw.
Biti is Zimbabwe’s Finance minister and also secretary-general of the MDC-T.
Thursday, 13 October 2011 16:02
THE height of the Zimbabwean crisis saw the Zimbabwean economy shrink by a
third, unemployment ballooning to over 75%, and health and education and
other basic services collapsing. The inclusive government has brought a
measure of socio-economic stability. We should not forget that at the height
of the crisis schools were closed for almost a full year with teachers on
strike and government departments in a perpetual go-slow mode due to
inadequate remuneration, poor work ethics, endemic corruption and chronic
incapacity to deliver.
In order to move forward as a country we have to take stock of the
incremental changes that have occurred over the past three years even though
this has not translated into steady economic growth, infrastructural
development, increased access to basic services, or sufficiently increased
wages and salaries accompanied by better standards of living. We are still
many years from achieving socio-economic transformation as the country is
still in transition and is likely to be in such a state even beyond a new
constitution and elections.
Change is not an event but a process, and a painful one too. Whilst it may
be easier to change the faces of those who are ruling, delivering real
change which impacts lives and livelihoods is a difficult proposition.
The economy has stabilised but it may take five or so years before we
experience real economic growth and another 10-15 years before such economic
growth is necessarily accompanied by corresponding human development
indicators such as access to health services, water, electricity, housing
and a decent standard of living.
The change of government may happen speedily but transformation takes
longer. The constitution-making process may give birth to a new constitution
but the process of grounding the new constitutional institutions, processes
and values will take time as these are subject to the evolution of political
culture and behaviour. Likewise it will take time to change the work ethic
of government departments and service providers and a new government may not
practically translate to a change in the bureaucrats that run government.
The inclusive government has brought in fresh brains, positive policies and
for the first time several ministers who are actually accountable to the
people. This of course has been blighted by the “Luxurygate Scandal” which
saw the government recklessly splashing millions of dollars on luxury
vehicles for government ministers and expenditure on what Finance minister
Tendai Biti describes as “useless things’’ such as foreign travel .
There is, however, a silver lining in the cloud and at times it is that
which should give us hope. A new breed of ministers has injected new ideas,
energy and policies in the past couple of years. These have included the
likes of Moses Mzila Ndlovu, Gorden Moyo, Professor Welshman Ncube, Tendai
Biti, David Coltart and Walter Mzembi. Even the controversial Arthur
Mutambara has come with some good ideas on Private-Public Partnerships.
These ministers from across the political divide have achieved some
measurable deliverables under very prohibitive circumstances. These
deliverables include but are not limited to:
The possible resuscitation of the iron and steel industry through a
strategic partnership deal with foreign investors. The recovery of the iron
and steel industry will have a ripple effect on industry and the economy at
The allocation of US$40 million to ailing industries in Bulawayo largely
through the efforts of Industry and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube with
the able support of Moyo and Biti and with the consent of the entire
The formulation of a corporate governance framework for parastatals and
Marginally improved fiscal discipline under Tendai Biti who has irked some
of his colleagues in the MDC-T and Zanu PF with his tight-fisted control of
the country’s finances.
In very difficult political circumstances epitomised by the emergence of
divergent centres of power, conflicting government policy, uncertainty,
selective application of the law as well as lack of institutional reform the
country has still managed to move forward albeit at snail’s pace. However,
if viewed in the context of both history and posterity the country is making
incremental strides forward which will only be measurable with hindsight in
Admittedly the inclusive government has been a spectacular failure in
implementing over 20 provisions of the Global Political Agreement including:
The setting up of an all inclusive economic advisory body.
Failure to institute an independent land audit.
Liberalisation of the airwaves.
An effective and ornamental national healing organ and dysfunctional
Selective application of the law and partisan policing by law enforcement
The socio-economic agenda of the inclusive government has also operated in
fits and starts with the Short Term Emergency Recovery Programme (Sterp),
the unity government’s economic blueprint being replaced by the Medium Term
Policy before it had fully achieved its objectives.
The Government of National Unity (GNU) has presented the country with
breathing space to recover from the pre-2008 madness, stabilise and once
again move forward. Obviously the inclusive government is not permanent and
is likely to come to an end by 2013, but in the absence of viable options it
appears to be the only practical solution for the next 12 or so months.
A post-GNU government should be able to build on the successes of the GNU
without the hindrances of conflicting and confusing centres of power. The
inclusive government can best be described in the words of Charles Dickens:
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was an age of
wisdom, it was an age of foolishness, it was an epoch of belief, it was an
epoch of incredulity, it was a spring of hope, it was a winter of despair,
we had everything before us we had nothing before us.”
Dumisani Nkomo is an activist and CEO of Habakkuk Trust.
Thursday, 13 October 2011 17:06
IT is now three years since the principals to the Global Political Agreement
put pen to paper, giving birth to the current inclusive government.
The agreement was finally inked after protracted negotiations among the
three parties bringing relief to a nation that was on tenterhooks. Hope and
expectation abounded that the agreed-on issues would be implemented paving
the way to credible elections. The parties were in agreement, so we thought.
Alas, three years down the line nothing of substance has been achieved
except endless bickering and point-scoring. The end product has been a
dysfunctional government that has spawned confusion and frustration, not
only among Zimbabweans but investors and the international community as
It has become clear that this marriage of inconvenience should end sooner
rather than later.
However, having said this, there is an urgent need to have substantive and
meaningful reforms undertaken before the elections to avoid a repeat of the
shambolic 2008 presidential election run-off.
To their credit the MDC-T this week awakened from their deep slumber and
inept leadership and demanded the full implementation of the GPA and related
The party’s national executive on Wednesday made it crystal clear that they
would not participate in any election unless certain benchmarks are met.
The completion of the constitution-making process and the referendum;
The completion of the drafting of a new voters roll;
The completion of media reform;
The completion of legislative reform;
The conclusion of outstanding issues at the dialogue table on security
sector realignment and staffing of Zec;
The compliance by Zimbabwe of the Sadc electoral guidelines on free and fair
The putting in place of mechanisms to ensure that violence will not be a
factor in the said election.
The prevailing situation in the country is a loud clarion call for enactment
The voters roll is a shambles, full of dead people, children under the legal
voting age of 18 and dozens of people who were born in 1897. Above all it is
subject to manipulation.
The state media, especially the sole broadcaster Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Holdings, has become a mouthpiece of Zanu PF with numerous jingles praising
President Robert Mugabe and castigating the MDC-T as stooges and puppets.
The need for security sector reform cannot be over emphasised. Zanu PF
thugs in June beat up MPs and journalists in front of police officers at a
public hearing on the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission Bill. Despite
overwhelming evidence of the identity of the perpetrators, not a single
arrest has been made. Those perceived to be MDC sympathisers including an
MDC councillor Victor Chifodya, were beaten up as Mugabe preached peace at
parliament building again in front of police officers. Service chiefs have
said they will not salute a president chosen by Zimbabweans if they do not
meet their set criteria.
The Zec Electoral Commission secretariat is more or less the same one that
was responsible for delaying the results of the March 2008 presidential
election for five weeks, as well presiding over the sham run-off in June the
The prevailing scenario strongly indicates the need for the MDC to remain
steadfast on the demand for reforms for the good of the nation.
However, we are also concerned with the MDC-T’s capitulation on the
appointment of Roy Bennett as Agriculture deputy minister. For MDC-T leader
Morgan Tsvangirai to finally succumb to Mugabe’s resistance to swearing-in
Bennett for the post by appointing Seiso Moyo shows weakness.
For the MDC-T to have fought for Bennett for so long only to capitulate now
sends the wrong signal, casts doubts on their principles and greatly
encourages Mugabe and Zanu PF to be more obstinate.
Such weakness cannot be repeated if the party is to remain credible and
relevant in the national body politic.
Thursday, 13 October 2011 17:04
“LOANS, loans, loans,” screams an advert in one newspaper. “Instant cash
loans available,” screams another. Yet another advert reads “Loans for civil
servants”. At various workplaces, representatives from established banks
make presentations to market their banks to employees. And how do they
entice them; what do they offer? You guessed right, loans.
However, in the editorial sections of the newspapers in which these offers
appear, a running theme is the lack of liquidity on the market, leading to
companies failing to access loans to finance their operations. On the same
pages, financial analyses talk of badly managed quoted companies that are up
to their neck in debt, with one leading company owing up to US$50 million.
In the meantime the Reserve Bank governor is to table how much he and his
companies owe to several local banks.
Those who claim to be in the know say this one-time de facto prime minister
of this country might also owe in excess of US$50 million. Not to be
outdone, clothing retailers are now offering their customers more than six
months to pay. But that pales against motor vehicle showrooms that are now
offering up to 36 months to pay for the purchase of vehicles, whose average
prices range from US$35 000 per unit. And yet we have a credit crunch!
From where are those companies in debt distress borrowing? Where are the
banks that are enticing new customers getting the money? And we know retail
stores can’t simply offer terms if they have no financial backing and
neither can our car dealers. Where is that money coming from? Perhaps we
can safely say that there isn’t a liquidity problem as such. The question is
on the distribution of the liquidity. To use Karl Marx’s words, the funds
are “being concentrated in a few hands”.
What is clear is that there are some financial institutions with what are
slowly becoming slush funds, whether these are customers’ deposits or lines
of credit. The fact that the banks, car dealers and retailers are now
offering longer pay back periods means they can sufficiently cover
themselves for that period. Of course, the banks are making a killing on the
interest rates. As mentioned elsewhere, with lending rates of 25% and
deposit rates of 12%, against inflation of 5% or less, the yields are quite
good for the finance houses. If the current credit terms continue, the next
things is interest rates will go down as the financiers fight for the
business. And this might just be so, as consumers in the developed
countries, who are still smarting from the last global financial crisis (we’re
told we’re getting into another one) and the last thing they want to have
are some more loans.
Anyone who’s analysed life overseas will see that it is heavily dependent on
credit. That’s why your cousin in the diaspora drives the latest “Beema” but
cannot afford to buy you a drink if you visit him. As debt peddlers look for
new markets, this might see more lines of credit to countries such as ours
where there are takers. And when that happens we’ll have finally integrated
into the global financial system, and any if its potential crises.
The last ones have affected us not directly but consequentially. In other
words, we’ve been affected by the crises, eg the eurozone crisis but we are
not part of them. With our integration into the global financial economy
imminent, this means that other initiatives like the much talked about
fourth money (M4) become redundant, whether or not they were feasible.
Debt, or credit is the fourth money. Reader beware.
Thursday, 13 October 2011 17:05
ZIMBABWE presented its national report on Monday at the United Nations Human
Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) in Geneva, Switzerland,
claiming to be fundamentally protecting and promoting human rights in
profound ways which are creditable and commendable.
The UPR is a process which involves a review of the human rights records of
all 192 UN member states once every four years. So Zimbabwe had a perfect
opportunity to give a candid assessment of its situation, pointing out areas
of success and progress, while admitting problems and constraints.
Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa in his report painted a glowing picture
of the situation, declaring Zimbabwe was upholding human rights. He said the
only problem was sanctions and lack of resources.
Chinamasa presented his report with aggression and grit, as if to scare away
critics and gloss over the situation.
His report contained a lot of “evidence” in the form of the normative and
institutional framework, national policies on human rights, enforceability
of human rights before the courts, national human rights institutions,
regional and international human rights instruments and “protecting of human
rights on the ground” to prove Zimbabwe was a civilised and democratic
country safeguarding and upholding human rights.
The theoretical framework of his report sounded credible and convincing, but
only if you are a stranger to Zimbabwe’s history and politics. Many
self-protective and gullible diplomats, mainly those who are not familiar
with Zimbabwe or who know the truth but are dishonest, bought into it and
defended the government as if their very lives depended upon it. The
sanctions mantra was wheeled out and condemnation from the West reverberated
with equal intensity during the review.
Chinamasa doggedly defended Zimbabwe’s human rights record, while slamming
targeted sanctions against the country which he argued had caused hardships
and violated citizens’ human rights. He also claimed Zimbabwe had amended
the constitution 19 times to improve the human rights situation, adding the
ongoing constitution-making process would address human rights issues.
However, Chinamasa’s report was problematic. Although the minister is a
jolly good fellow, his performance was unhelpful and left many convinced
Zimbabwe is a rogue state. His delivery was unrefined and too war-like,
betraying desperate efforts to frighten critics and airbrush the situation.
Instead of pointing out areas of progress and problems to paint a balanced
picture of the situation, Chinamasa used sanctions as a pretext to exonerate
government on human right abuses and went for the jugular against Western
countries. That made constructive dialogue impossible and predictably the
report was divisive. The session became divided mainly on ideological lines,
reflecting the polarised trends in global politics and international
That is why in the end Zimbabwe was mainly supported unshakably by the
“outposts of tyranny” — including Iran, Cuba, North Korea and Burma. In
scenes reminiscent of the Cold War politics, Zimbabwe also got support from
parts of the former communist bloc although Russia was cautious. Syria,
widely criticised for human rights abuses, and Venezuela, also supported
In Africa, Namibia was loyal, while other countries made measured and frank
comments. South Africa was mild but demanded an investigation into the 2008
killings. It was supported by many countries. The United States and its
allies slammed Zimbabwe for human rights abuses.
Although government appeared to have partly whitewashed its awful record
through deception, the reality is Zimbabwe is a dungeon where people are
harassed, intimidated, brutalised, and silenced for holding different views
from Mugabe and his cronies.