Mon 17 October 2005
HARARE - Zimbabwe opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party
leader Morgan Tsvangirai today begins a nationwide charm offensive to woo
ordinary MDC members to back him in a feud with other senior party leaders
over whether to contest next month's Senate election.
Tsvangirai, whose overruling of an MDC national council decision for
the party to stand in the election has touched off bitter wrangling
threatening to split the party, will tell party supporters to boycott the
November 26 Senate poll.
The opposition leader will also mobilise supporters to press for a new
and democratic constitution for Zimbabwe as he tries to shift his divided
party from focusing on contesting elections under flawed conditions to
demanding a democratic constitution that underpins free and fair polls, his
spokesman William Bango said.
He said: "This is a two pronged approach. We are campaigning for a
people-driven democratic constitution and against the senatorial election.
This is the same message we are taking to our people during this countrywide
Bango would not give the exact dates when Tsvangirai was going to
address MDC supporters on the Senate election only saying rallies were lined
up this week in the following provinces Manicaland, Midlands North and
South, Matabeleland South, Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and Gokwe.
ZimOnline however understands that the opposition leader will begin
his rallies today in his home province of Manicaland and will wind up his
programme in Matabeleland North province.
The sharp differences over contesting the Senate poll has brought to
the fore divisions in the MDC over what strategy to use to unseat President
Robert Mugabe and his ruling ZANU PF party.
A meeting of the national council called at the weekend failed to
resolve the impasse with insiders saying council members are insisting the
party should contest the poll.
Analysts have warned that the divisions that have been simmering for
long could see the break up of the six-year old party that has since its
formation in 1999 posed the greatest threat yet to Mugabe and ZANU PF's
25-year hold on power.
Already, deputy secretary general Gift Chimanikire has written to the
party's 12 provinces instructing them to begin nominating candidates for the
election saying this was the position taken by the national council.
The council is said to have voted 33:31 in favour of participating in
the election. But Tsvangirai insists the vote was deadlocked at 50:50 and
that he had to use his casting vote in favour of a boycott.
Tsvangirai has also written to party provincial councils ordering them
to ignore Chimanikire's instructions to select candidates.
The opposition leader last Friday wrote to the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission that runs elections telling it the MDC was not standing and that
any of its members submitting their names as candidates were doing so in
their individual capacities.
Tsvangirai - a fiery trade unionist during his stint at the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions - has vehemently opposed the Senate election saying
it will be rigged by ZANU PF and that in any event it is of no value in a
country that should be better directing meagre resources to fighting
starvation threatening a quarter of its 12 million people.
He is backed in his position by the party's key youth and women's
wings. But several other top leaders of the MDC say the party should not
surrender political space to Mugabe and ZANU PF by boycotting the Senate
poll. - ZimOnline
16 Oct 2005 17:02:59 GMT
By Rachel Sanderson
ROME, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Robert Mugabe's invite to attend the 60th
anniversary celebrations of the U.N. food agency has infuriated the agency's
U.S. envoy, who said the Zimbabwean leader's policies were helping to starve
Mugabe, who is exempt from a European Union travel ban when on United
Nations business, arrived in Rome on Saturday, having accepted an invitation
to attend the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation's (FAO) gathering on
Monday. The FAO's U.S. ambassador, Tony Hall, said he was amazed that Mugabe
had been invited.
"I believe I can speak for the U.S. government when it comes to Mugabe. They
feel he has abused his country, he has abused his people," Hall told Reuters
in a telephone interview.
"It is a mockery of the poor when a man like this comes to an event like
this. He should not have been invited."
Zimbabwe is grappling with its worst economic crisis since independence in
1980, and aid groups have estimated 5 million of its 12 million people may
need food aid this year. Mugabe's critics say his government policies have
exacerbated the hunger.
Mugabe blames Zimbabwe's economic crisis on sanctions it says former
colonial power Britain has organised in retribution for Harare's policy of
redistributing land to poor black farmers.
Hall said he would be taking up with the FAO its decision to invite Mugabe.
He said the United States had given $200 million in aid to Zimbabwe since
The latest statistics from the World Food Programme, released on Friday to
coincide with the anniversary, said 6.2 million people worldwide had died
from hunger and related diseases so far this year.
WFP Executive Director James Morris said the number of chronically hungry
was on the rise again after decades of progress.
Mugabe's spokesman was not available to comment on Hall's remarks.
The FAO's spokesman said Mugabe, like other heads of state, would have the
opportunity to address FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf and a news
conference on Monday.
The European Union imposed travel sanctions on Zimbabwean government
officials after accusations of vote rigging in parliamentary polls in 2000
and in Mugabe's re-election two years later. He is still allowed to travel
to U.N. events.
U.S. officials said last month that Washington was preparing to slap tough
travel sanctions on Mugabe, members of his government, and their extended
Mugabe made headlines on his last visit to Rome, when he shook the hand of
Britain's Prince Charles during the funeral service for Pope John Paul II.
The handshake embarrassed Britain. The royal household later said the prince
had been taken by surprise.
From The Sunday Argus (SA), 16 October
With the rate expected to be around 1 000% by Christmas, consumers are
becoming adept at calculating the many zeroes
The worst thing about inflation is counting the money. In supermarket queues
it takes ages for check-out attendants to count the money. A small plastic
bag of groceries: a litre of milk, two quart beers, 250g frozen local bream,
four lemons, and the cheapest bottle of local white wine added up to Z$520
000 on Monday. A man was so angry when this total showed up at the till, he
abandoned his bag and stomped out. The rate in rands will have changed
between writing this sentence and e-mailing it, but this pack of groceries
probably cost about R40 on the black market on Monday. At the official rate
it would be about R130. The highest denomination note, and it isn't actually
a note it's called a bearer cheque, is Z$20 000, and they will run out
before Christmas unless President Robert Mugabe allows the Reserve Bank's
red hot presses in Bulawayo to print Z$100 000 or Z$1 million notes. Or
Zimbabwe can do do what Turkey did last year by lopping off three noughts.
Hyper-inflation has been around a while, but it's different this time around
because of the scale of the increases. Two years ago, when it hit 600% per
annum, a Z$500 bar of blue soap was bad but not staggering. Now that bar of
soap costs Z$66 000. Rather than try to equate prices to rands, it makes
more sense to compare them with salaries; a teacher earns no more than Z$3m
a month, a member of parliament gets Z$12m after tax. A single stop on a bus
is Z$25 000, the same as a loaf of bread which costs eight times more than
it did in July. Cooking oil, when available, is Z$70 000 for 175ml. The
cheapest meat is about Z$138 000/kg, and mealie meal, when available, costs
about Z$80 000 for 10kg. United Nations staffers are among the best paid
foreigners in Zimbabwe and earn about R60 000 a month with allowances. They
spend up to Z$15m on an average weekly shop which includes pool chemicals.
They rent the plushest houses guarded around the clock at UN expense, buy
South African wine and Liquifruit which has doubled in price in six weeks.
They dine on kingklip, prawns, olive oil, South African cereals and Mooi
River butter, not marge. They eat cheese, a rare treat for most.
But counting out Z$15m furrows the brows of even flush UN workers at check
outs. Tellers have a common system. They count 20 brown Z$20 000 bearer
cheques into piles of 20 and then put five piles together to make Z$2m. They
count each pile at least twice and round off change to the nearest Z$500,
which doesn't even buy matches. If six people venture out to dinner at any
of the none-too-salubrious restaurants in Harare's northern suburbs, someone
has to volunteer to stay sober to do the bill which takes ages of counting
and recounting. The portions get ever smaller but a meal will set the group
back about Z$12m if they eat meat, have a beer or a cool drink and maybe a
bottle of local wine. The going rate last week for youngsters guarding the
car outside the restaurant was Z$10 000. When the Reserve Bank gives orders
from time to time to try to contain the black market, banks are restricted
to Z$1 000 notes, then one needs a suitcase to carry enough cash to pay for
a couple of burgers. Near-crumbling Chegutu, 100km south west of Harare, a
cup of tea cost Z$65 000 at a grimy roadside inn owned by the Rainbow
Tourism Group, more than double the cost in Harare even at tatty Wimpy's
which held the record for the most expensive tea in the capital.
When inflation - which went up by nearly 100% in September to 359% - hits 1
000% per annum, as it probably will around Christmas, how will the tellers
cope without money counters? One of the hardest aspects of living in
billions, besides seeing gaunt young men able to afford only one slice of
polony, is understanding value. When a house is advertised at Z$5 billion
what does it mean? What does it mean when the government estimated in August
it would spend Z$30bn on senate elections, which will be more like Z$200bn
when they take place on November 26? Cellphone calculators say "out of
range" when you try to work out how much an average UN worker earns in
Zimbabwe dollars. But at least it's been a mathematical education. Until
this year few of us knew that a billion has nine noughts, a trillion 12 and
it needs a scientific calculator to work from hard currency to Zimbabwe
dollars and those sums must be done twice to get both the official and
Imagine buying a full tank of black market fuel at Z$100 000 a litre on the
side of the road and counting the money, note by note. A brick of Z$5m worth
of notes is an ordinary amount to carry around. If one tries to live more or
less legally - driven by extreme fear of a few nights in Harare Central
Police Station's holding cells for illegally dealing in foreign currency -
Zimbabwe is expensive. Some supermarkets take foreign credit cards and the
debit shows at the official rate of exchange which makes the cost of
groceries about twice what it would cost in South Africa. Another reason
Zimbabwe looks increasingly drab is that it costs the equivalent of a
teacher's monthly salary for five litres of lowest quality PVA. Although
that was a week ago.
Maputo, Mozambique, 16/10 - Mozambican police in the southern province of
Gaza this week seized over eight tons of contraband sugar smuggled in from
Zimbabwe, national news agency, AIM, reported Saturday.
It quoted Benedito Ndeve, spokesperson for the Gaza provincial police
command, as saying 1.67 tons of the contraband was seized in the Massangena
district, and seven tons in Chokwe.
Ndeve said the seizures followed police operations along the border
Smuggled sugar is sold cheaply in Mozambique, thereby undermining domestic
industry with local producers complaining against unfair competition.
The drumming and singing could be heard from Trafalgar Square and the
dancing was joyous. It was great to have passers-by joining in - at least
one spent the whole afternoon with us. We were pleased to have Francesca
and her family with us again. She is an English schoolgirl who has taken
our cause to heart. After Kate Hoey's encouragement she has organised
wristbands "Make Mugabe History" to be made which will be available at the
We were buoyed by the decision of the tribunal yesterday that it was unsafe
to send people back to Zimbabwe but we realise this is not why we meet
outside Zimbabwe House every Saturday. We think all the time of our
families and friends suffering under Mugabe. The regime there is rapidly
collapsing - last week we saw Hushe, the caretaker at Zimbabwe House,
skulking out of the building and dumping quantities of their homelink
brochure in neighbouring dustbins.
Today was a wonderfully sunny Autumn day with people from Leicester,
Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and other places helping to make a bumper
crowd to mark our third anniversary - the biggest group ever to sing the
national anthem at the end. Thanks to Addley, Bernita and Chipo who brought
delicious sadza for the group in a shopping trolley still hot in their pots.
It was extremely tasty.
The Chair of MDC Central London Branch, Ephraim Tapa, exhorted us all to
work together for change in Zimbabwe. He accompanied us to our post-Vigil
gathering at the nearby Theodore Bullfrog pub where 40 or so discussed the
way forward. It was a useful meeting and we have many new good ideas to
consider. The Vigil was thrilled that we managed to get so much publicity
from our demonstration outside Downing Street on Thursday.
FOR THE RECORD: about 80 supporters came today.
FOR YOUR DIARY: Monday, 17th October, 7.30 pm, Zimbabwe Forum at the George,
Fleet Street, London (opposite the Royal Courts of Justice). A WEEK OF
TRIUMPH - This week two success stories: the presentation of the Vigil
petition to 10 Downing Street and the asylum and immigration test case.
Dedicated activists from the Zimbabwe Vigil and the Zimbabwe Association
will report back.
The Vigil, outside the Zimbabwe Embassy, 429 Strand, London, takes place
every Saturday from 14.00 to 18.00 to protest against gross violations of
human rights by the current regime in Zimbabwe. The Vigil which started in
October 2002 will continue until internationally-monitored, free and fair
elections are held in Zimbabwe. http://www.zimvigil.co.uk
By Walter Marwizi
DESPITE issuing a strong public protest to the American Embassy in
Harare, the government has made an about turn and apologised to the US
Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Christopher Dell, following his detention by
security agents on Monday.
Dell was apprehended by the Presidential Guard on Monday after
trespassing into a security zone in the National Botanical Gardens.
Staff at the entrance to the gardens yesterday told The Standard that
Dell got into serious trouble with the soldiers after getting into the
security zone which lies between the Natural Miombo woodland and the
Alexandra Park Reservoir.
"He got into the gardens alone and it was long before he came back.
When he did, he was in an army truck surrounded by no-nonsense looking
soldiers," said one of the guards at the entrance.
"They actually jumped out of the vehicle like they were in a war zone
and commanded Dell to get into his vehicle, guns pointed at him. Some
soldiers got into his vehicle and as he was driving, a gun was clearly
visible even to us who were outside the vehicle. He tasted the Presidential
guards' medicine," added the guard.
A US embassy statement on Friday said that the diplomat wondered into
a "poorly marked military area" located in the middle of the park.
"Ambassador Dell was detained for over an hour by military personnel
until the Ambassador's identity was established at which time he was
released," the statement said.
However, that evening,the statement said the chief of protocol
Ambassador G Gapare telephoned Ambassador Dell to express his "profound
apology" for the incident, explaining that soldiers on duty did not
understand their responsibilities in dealing with an ambassador accredited
to the country.
"The next day, the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Foreign
Affairs Ambassador (Joey) Bimha contacted Ambassador Dell and conveyed a
similar apology. Our embassy in Harare accepted these apologies," said the
official who added Dell considered the case closed.
The US Ambassador has not been taking calls since the incident.
Relations between Zimbabwe and the US have hit rock-bottom since
Washington passed the Zimbabwe Democracy Act and slapped travel sanctions on
President Robert Mugabe and senior government and ruling party officials,
charging them with rigging the 2000 and 2005 parliamentary and the 2002
presidential elections, as well as for human rights abuses. But Harare
accuses the US and the UK of hatching a plot to effect a regime change in
By Foster Dongozi
MORGAN Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
took the decision to boycott the Senate elections after it became clear that
there were members aspiring to become Senators, The Standard has
"Following a deadlock among provincial representatives, the decision on the
Senate could not be decided by the national council because some of them had
already indicated that they wanted to be Senators," he said.
Speaking in an interview yesterday, Tsvangirai said certain provincial
representatives misled Wednesday's meeting by supporting poll participation
when they had been told to call for a boycott.
The MDC's problems come a year after Zanu PF went through a similar crisis
after six out of 10 provincial chairpersons defied President Mugabe by
rooting for Emmerson Mnangagwa, ahead of Joice Mujuru.
Sources said angry MDC members telephoned and faxed letters of protest
saying their instructions to boycott the elections had not been followed by
Angry members from Mashonaland Central and East provinces stormed the
party's offices on Friday saying their opinions had been disregarded.
Provinces that voted for participation in the Senate elections were
Manicaland, the Midlands South, Midlands North, Bulawayo, Matabeleland North
Masvingo, Harare, Chitungwiza, Mashonaland West, Central and East voted for
After the stalemate, members of the national council agitated for a vote and
those pushing for participation won 33 to 31 while two ballots were spoilt.
On the leadership of the MDC and his future, Tsvangirai said: "I am firmly
in charge. My position as MDC president is not vulnerable and the decision
that I took not to participate in the Senate elections resonates with the
people of Zimbabwe."
He reiterated his earlier call that the billions of dollars to fund the
elections should be given to poorly paid civil servants like teachers,
soldiers and policemen because participating in the Senate elections will
not solve the problems of lack of jobs, poverty and hunger.
Two major wings of the party, the youth and the women's assemblies had
The MDC congress, due to be held, shortly would prove that the people
supported boycotting the elections, he said.
"We may have differed on the Senate issue but suggestions that the party is
splitting are based on the wishful thinking of Zanu PF. I am in discussions
with my colleagues who were skeptical about boycotting Senate elections to
explain why it is best not to participate.
"We are embarking on an exercise to galvanise the people into a democratic
resistance against the dictatorship. We must therefore mobilise ourselves
into a people-power force that will, through democratic expression on the
streets and everywhere, demand the resolution of the country's many
He warned party leaders against indiscipline.
The warning comes after deputy secretary general, Gift Chimanikire,
dispatched a letter to provinces instructing them to prepare for the Senate
Chimanikire wrote the letter although his boss, Professor Welshman Ncube was
By Kumbirai Mafunda
ZIMBABWEANS were last week condemned to perpetual hardships after stubborn
inflation peaked at levels of 360 %, never seen in the Gideon Gono - era of
concerted inflation targetting.
As the economy slid deeper into calamity, Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate
vaulted to 359.8% in September, representing a jump of more than 94% on
August's figure of 265.1%.
Although the government-run Central Statistics Office (CSO) cited rising
prices of scotch carts and mobile phone airtime - as among the major
causes - critics blamed high government spending and high rates of money
They point out at last week's payout of gratuities to former political
prisoners and ex-detainees as a move that was highly inflationary.
Last week government agreed to dispense more than $36 billion in unbudgeted
funds to collaborators of the liberation struggle era - a critical
constituency as the governing Zanu PF party begins to dole out sweeteners
ahead of next month's Senate elections.
"These unbudgeted expenditures have a pumping effect on money supply," said
Tapiwa Mashakada, the opposition MDC's spokesperson on economic affairs.
While Gono, the Reserve Bank Governor, once again vowed that inflation would
reverse its upward trend, few Zimbabweans were impressed by his exuberance.
The inflation rise, which has put paid to the Governor's end of year target
of 80%, has dimmed hopes of Zimbabwe taming the inflation devil.
Last month's rise in inflation, the sixth straight rise, resulted in
economic analysts warning that the figures would remain on an upward trend
and torpedoing prospects for economic recovery.
Already the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has ridiculed Gono's inflation
target insisting inflation will spiral to 400% by the end of the year while
some independent economists told Standardbusiness that it would infact
surpass the 600% mark by December.
Though President Robert Mugabe's administration has singled out inflation as
the biggest scourge -- and while Gono has earned himself some disciples for
shooting down inflation from 622.8% in January 2004 to a record low of
123.7% early this year - critics say his attempts have largely been targeted
at the symptoms rather than the causes.
Analysts caution that Gono's last week claims of having enough ammunition to
deal with the out-of-control inflation by next month could be far-fetched.
"Inflation has become deep seated as a structural phenomenon which can only
be tackled by a serious economic reform programme," remarked Mashakada.
Industrialists say from September to December, the country would have
received the last chunk of foreign currency receipts from cotton lint
exports and even in normal years Zimbabwe runs dry of hard currency during
the festive period.
And with the liberalisation of imports from external funds, imported
inflation is expected to rise especially as the festive season approaches,
consequently pushing prices further.
The loss of export earnings has also created a foreign currency shortage
that is driving the parallel market.
That has sent the Zimbabwe dollar on a free fall. Hard currency, which is
not available on the official market, is trading on the thriving parallel
market at close to $100 000 Zimbabwe dollars to 1$US.
Another problem for Zimbabwe is that annual tobacco auctions - usually a key
period on the country's economic calendar - closed down last week on a bleak
note as growers produced yet another tiny crop that amounted to a paltry 74
million kgs - a slight increase from 69 million kgs in the 2003/ 04 season.
Labour unions say high inflation means that Zimbabweans are getting less for
Because of the rising inflation, many workers are struggling to keep pace
with daily price hikes.
Although the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe recently noted that a family of
six now needs $9.6 million to see through a month, very few of Zimbabwe's
workers earn anywhere near $5 million.
"Life has become unbearable for workers such that they are finding it
difficult to have even a single decent meal a day," remarked Wellington
Chibebe, the union leader of the militant Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions.
Though local economists and the IMF cannot agree whether inflation will
close the year at 600% or 400%, either way it won't be near any of Gono's
projections of 80%.
By Foster Dongozi
FOUR weeks ago, President Robert Mugabe raised hopes
of an improvement "soon" in fuel supplies while addressing war collaborators
(mujibhas and zvimbwidos) but shortages of the vital commodity continue to
cripple the economy.
"Fuel supply is expected to increase in the next few
days and will gradually improve in the next few weeks," Mugabe told hordes
of war collaborators.
However, despite Mugabe's assurances, urban
commuters continue to spend hours queuing for transport while others have
resorted to walking.
Exorbitant fares of between $15 000 and $25 000 a
single trip have forced some urban dwellers to walk to and from work.
As the mystery of the promised fuel continues to
mount, speculation has been rife on how the deal for the fuel trickling into
the country was struck, how it was financed and the quantities involved.
The French oil company, Total, is the only local
distributor that has been selling fuel since Mugabe's announcement.
However, Presidential spokesperson, George Charamba,
played down fears that only minute quantities of fuel are trickling into the
He said: "The fuel has been flowing in. Have you not
seen it? - Essential areas like public transporters and farmers are
receiving first priority so that they take care of your stomach. After that
we will move to joy riders."
Fuel for farmers was being distributed through the
National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, Charamba said.
He would not comment on why Total is the only
company receiving fuel and what deal enabled it to have exclusive access to
the scarce commodity saying : "That is a contractual domain, there is
nothing like friendship in business."
France has been indulgent towards Zimbabwe whose
relations with, much of Europe have been on ice since the chaotic land
reform exercise, which began in 2000.
Charamba only disclosed that the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (IBZ) had funded the acquisition of the fuel.
On suggestions that the fuel had been sourced to
calm the nerves of restive voters ahead of the Senate elections next month,
Charamba said: "The aim is to ensure that everything operates normally so
there is no politics in that. Why would people be suspicious of any
government intervention? In any case, the bulk of people who vote for Zanu
PF use their feet to move around."
He insisted the fuel had been sourced through the
RBZ, which had also raised money for fertilizer and food.
Total Company's public affairs director, Stanley
Hatendi, referred all questions to the RBZ.
"I think if I comment I would be talking out of
line. Talk to the RBZ people. I told them about the questions that you are
asking and they said you should talk to them."
However, the RBZ did not respond to questions
submitted by The Standard.
Sources at Total said the company initially wanted
to sell the diesel at $45 000 but had been arm-twisted by the government to
sell it at $23 000 a litre.
NOCZIM public relations manager, Zvikomborero
Sibanda, said fuel was being sent to farmers and public transporters.
"NOCZIM has in the past months been prioritizing
allocation of fuel to farmers for the 2005-2006 summer cropping season. The
amounts being allocated have, however, been below required amounts. The
company has also been prioritizing public transport, Zupco and the National
Railways of Zimbabwe."
Sibanda said other priority areas were essential
services such as ambulances, grain transporters, funeral parlours,
government departments and quasi-government institutions and local
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union President,
Davison Mugabe, said a facility to supply farmers with fuel was in place.
"This time of the year is a peak period in terms of
demand for fuel as farmers are preparing their fields. However, we have not
received fuel for some time," Mugabe said.
By Valentine Maponga
CIVIL engineering students at Masvingo Polytechnic have been commandeered
into the construction of houses under "Operation Garikai" as the government
trails its self-imposed targets, The Standard has learnt.
Students last week said they were instructed to go and help in the
construction of houses under the ambitious project as part of their
"We are being forced to go and help build the houses at the farm and we have
been told not tell anyone from the media or we will face expulsion. Our
lecturers told us that this was part of our practical learning," said one
student who declined to be named for fear of victimisation.
He said the affected students missed their August holidays because they were
building the houses under "Operation Garikai".
The houses in Masvingo are being constructed at Victoria Ranch near
Runyararo West high-density suburb on stands that are yet to be serviced.
College Principal, Barnabas Taderera, on Friday confirmed that the students
were involved in the construction of the houses under "Garikai" but denied
that they were being forced.
"It's part of their practical learning and we just want them to get involved
with the real things on the ground. No one has been forced. Instead of them
building fake structures and then destroying them, we thought they should go
and help," Taderera said.
He said the students were learning much faster because they are getting
hands-on-experience. "Some students are going there on attachment and those
who are still in college go for the electrification, planning and building.
It's all meant for them to get the real feel of their chosen professions,"
The government is struggling to meet its target of building 4 000 houses
under "Garikai" in Masvingo due to a critical shortage of building materials
and lack of funds.
By Godfrey Mutimba and Valentine Maponga
IN a bid to supplement their meagre salaries, two soldiers based at 4.3
Infantry Battalion in Rutenga went on an armed robbery spree along the
Masvingo-Beitbridge road, The Standard has learnt.
Stephen Mbengeni (25) and Sibangiliswe Moyo (24), both soldiers, and Misheck
Chakanyuka (54) of the NRZ appeared before Masvingo magistrate Daisy
Makamure facing five charges of armed robbery.
State prosecutor Dan Ndebele told the court that on five different
occasions, the two junior officers connived with the NRZ security officer
and launched a spate of raids on illegal fuel dealers.
The state alleged that the two who were clad in their military uniforms
smuggled an assault rifle from their work place and used an NRZ Toyota Hilux
registration number 549-462Q to rob fuel worth $22 million, and cash from
black market dealers.
The court also heard that on 24 September this year, the three patrolled the
Masvingo-Beitbrigde road and at the 133-km peg, assaulted Wonder Mushavira
and then stole 400 litres of diesel from him at gunpoint.
On the same day, it is alleged that the three encountered Shylock Meshayi
and again stole 280 litres of diesel before robbing Lisias Nyanga of $500
The court was also told that on 6 October, they returned to the same road
and robbed Jaston Chiwire of $1.5m before looting another 200 litres of
diesel from Johnson Nyanga.
The court alleges that the trio sold the diesel to a fuel dealer identified
as Isaac Tawanda.
The matter was reported to the police on 10 October, leading to their arrest
the following day. They were remanded to tomorrow.
Meanwhile, reacting to reports indicating that a number of soldiers were
detained at Chikurubi last month, Lieutenant Colonel Aggrey Wushe said:
"That rumour started some weeks ago but nothing like that has happened. I
actually went on to investigate the matter with the military intelligence
and I have found out that that story is a clear fabrication."
Wushe also denied allegations that soldiers were not being allowed to retire
as authorities feared they could not control them after leaving the army.
"People are retiring everyday. In fact, the majority of the army personnel
have reached their retirement ages and they are going. It is impossible to
deny someone who wants to retire the opportunity to do so."
Sources had earlier in the week told The Standard that the soldiers from
army barracks around Harare were arrested last month and detained at
Chikurubi after making it clear that they could not survive on the meagre
salaries they were getting.
"In the past, the soldiers used to rely heavily on food rations from the
barracks but now they are being forced to stay at home meaning that they
have to dig deeper into the meagre salaries," said a source.
General duty soldiers earn less than $4 million a month.
By Nqobani Ndlovu
BULAWAYO - An enterprising Hwange farmer has been given two weeks to vacate
Leefontien Railway 55 Farm in Lubongwe, Hwange, to make way for a
Chief Shana, Zondani Jonah Melusi, who sits in parliament, is alleged to
have recently shown interest in the farm currently occupied by Gifton Dumani
after the Hwange businessman had introduced irrigation facilities and
refurbished the property.
The farm had been vandalised after the previous owner left it during the
invasions of commercial farms.
The Ministry of Lands and Resettlement has already served Dumani with a
letter, dated 27 September 2005, instructing him to vacate the farm and pave
way for the chief.
Dumani has been occupying the farm since 21 June 2004 after he acquired it
through the Ministry of Lands.
Misheck Marandu, an Agricultural Research and Extension Services (AREX)
official in Hwange confirmed that the chief would soon occupy the farmhouse.
Marandu said Dumani had been living at the farm temporarily, adding that he
had since been served with an eviction order.
"The chief will occupy the farmhouse. They (Dumani and his family) were
staying at the place on a temporary basis. We know that his family has been
staying there for the past two years. However, he has to make way for the
chief who was given permission by the government to occupy the farmhouse,"
He referred The Standard to the District Administrator, Moses Mbewe, who was
not immediately available for comment.
Efforts to get a comment from Chief Shana were fruitless at the time of
going to press but Dumani told The Standard he had been taken by surprise
and did not know what action to take.
He said what pained him most was that he had poured millions of dollars in
renovating the farmhouse, installing electricity and kick-starting the
irrigation project, in the hope that he had been permanently allocated the
"I was told to leave the place after I was given two weeks, starting from 1
October and I do not know what to do next and where to take my belongings,
farming equipment and livestock.
"It is not true that I was supposed to occupy the house on a temporary basis
because I applied to the Ministry of Lands to occupy it after the previous
farmer had left. The place was vandalised and I poured millions of dollars
in refurbishing it," he said.
He added: "I find it very saddening that a chief will want to take away
things that I have invested a lot in."
By our staff
BULAWAYO - Essential city council services in Bulawayo are collapsing
because the local authority's hands are tied and nothing can be done to
address the deteriorating situation, says Bulawayo executive mayor Japhet
Speaking during a recent breakfast meeting, Ndabeni-Ncube told clerics that
the local authority "is under the grip of the government and cannot do
anything to try and provide solutions to the city's problems".
The ruling Zanu-PF government has always been against MDC-led councils,
accusing them of failing to provide essential services. The accusations led
to the former MDC Harare mayor Elias Mudzuri and his Mutare counterpart,
Misheck Kagurabadza, being ejected from office.
Bulawayo City Council is facing a host of problems - a crippling water
crisis, lack of vehicles for refuse removal and serious shortages of fuel.
The shortage of fuel has forced the council to suspend refuse removal
services and the distribution of water using bowsers to clinics, schools and
suburbs worst affected by the water crisis.
All the 20 trucks providing water are idle because of the fuel crisis. To
make matters worse, the council cannot afford to buy fuel on the parallel
At the onset of the water crisis in August, the local authority requested
the government to declare it a water shortage area to help it mobilise
resources aimed at solving the problem but the government has been dragging
its feet over the issue.
Declaring the city a water shortage area would, among other things, enable
the council to suspend or amend any water permits, make orders in relation
to the abstraction, appropriation, control and diversion or the use of
"To be honest, we are facing a crisis and we don't know what to do,"
Bulawayo Agenda executive director, Gorden Moyo, said the government was
watching with keen interest the collapse of the city for political
Moyo said the water problems were a result of the water politics that have
been in the Matabeleland region since independence.
"There are two dimensions to the crisis . there is water politics and the
government being against the MDC-led and run councils and as a result they
don't want to help.
"In Matabeleland there is a long history of water problems and people have
called on the government to intervene but up to now nothing has been done. I
wonder what has happened to the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project?
"The government is also not willing to help the MDC-run local authorities
simply because they are saying if they chip in they will be helping the
opposition. They are looking at the crisis with a political eye and not a
humanitarian one. In Bulawayo they are waiting for a disaster to strike
before they can lift their hands and help," Moyo said.
Ndabeni-Ncube, like any other mayor in Zimbabwe, has been stripped of the
powers to make decisions that relate to the running of the city.
Almost all services, which need local authority approval, have to pass
through an inter-ministerial committee.
By our staff
BULAWAYO - The Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (ARDA) has
failed to pay more than 200 workers in Matabeleland region during the past
three months resulting in "untold suffering" among the affected employees.
The parastatal, a major player in Zimbabwe's land reforms, last paid its
workers at the various estates it operates in June this year.
According to some of the affected workers, life has become unbearable as
they are living from hand to mouth although the organisation is generating
billions of dollars a month through various agricultural activities such as
horticulture, beef and dairy farming, summer and winter crop cultivation and
"We are failing to make ends meet. We have been reduced to beggars because
ARDA has failed to pay us during the past three months. We have not been
given genuine reasons why the parastatal is failing to pay our salaries,"
said one of the affected workers who declined to be identified for fear of
contravening sections of the Official Secrets Act.
He said: "The situation is really bad in all the estates in Matabeleland
region and most of the affected workers are failing to fend for their
families. To make matters worse, we cannot afford to buy basic necessities
and our children have stopped going to school because we haven't paid their
Other affected workers echoed his sentiments saying morale was low at
Antelope, Segdwick, Jotsholo and Balu ARDA estates.
Arda chief executive officer Dr Joseph Matowanyika was said to be visiting
various estates and therefore could not be reached for comment.
By our staff
BREAD manufacturing concern, Lobels (Pvt) Limited, has embarked on a
retrenchment drive that will see more than half of its workforce redundant
by the first quarter of next year, The Standard has learnt.
Apart from the retrenchment, the company has also drastically reduced the
quantity and quality of bread it bakes citing the increasing cost of diesel
and the shortage of wheat.
Only last month, about 100 of the remaining 900 workers countrywide were
laid off while those with 18 leave days were asked to take some days off.
The exercise is being carried out in phases and more are still to be laid
off, officials in the company said.
Of the 100 workers that were retrenched, 37 faced charges of stealing from
the company but when the management failed to prove the allegations, it
dropped them, and opted instead to retrench the workers involved.
"We spent two nights in cells at Mbare Police Station but because there was
no case we were released. This is when the company said it was retrenching
us," said one of the workers, who requested anonymity for fear of
jeopardizing his retrenchment package.
But Lobels' chief executive officer, Burombo Mudumo, said in a statement:
"As to the reports on employees retrenched, those are negotiated agreements
to part ways with a group of employees on realizing that there was loss of
trust between the parties (employer and employees).
"This was based on a case where the police, investigating a suspected theft
racket, picked the 37 employees. The details of who was involved and how
they were stealing bread were obtained through the company's suggestion box
system. Instead of going to court, we agreed to negotiate with the employees
through their lawyers to amicably part ways on the basis of substantial loss
of trust. They were paid fully according to the laws of Zimbabwe."
On bread, he said the government controlled the price of bread and a
standard loaf of breadwas still gazetted at $7 500. Negotiations were in
progress in order to seek a review of the price.
The government, however, does not control the prices of fancy and premium
loaves of bread and this is one reason why bread is available on the market
at prices of $25 000 and above a loaf.
Mudumo, the winner 2004 businessman of the year award, said: "The cause of
the high prices is purely because bakers are buying diesel at $90 000 a
litre and flour is averaging $8 million a tonne. Over and above that, all
other input costs have gone up and bakeries are just trying to survive and
stay afloat in this very difficult environment."
WATCHING the conflagration called "Operation Murambatsvina" and the
subsequent fire-fighting and anachronistically named "Operation
Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle" all amid a din of galas and more recently biras, I
cannot help recalling the tragic-comic story of the clearly unhinged Emperor
Nero - in the first century. Like a man possessed, with the help of
overzealous and ingratiating city planners, and to the accompaniment of
music - is said to have, by commission or omission, allowed Rome to burn to
the ground in order to pave way for a palatial residence and leisure park.
One lesson that can be extrapolated from this sordid historical footnote
which gave currency to the saying fiddle while Rome burns, is that
politicians, as if living in cloud cuckoo-land, have this unfathomable or
shadow boxing habit of imperiously preoccupying themselves with symptoms
instead of addressing causes of crises.
Any C grade (average) secondary school student will tell you that squatting
(or so-called illegal structures) is symptomatic of rural-urban migration, a
situation which in our country's case was exacerbated by a non-performing
economy, in which populist policies and programmes, have all but killed the
goose that once laid the golden egg.
Globally, it has been seen that it is not sustainable, even in the former
welfare states, for governments to even contemplate, let alone attempt to
build and dish out houses like confetti, without recovering the attendant
Governments, unless they are determined to punish the financially anaemic
taxpayers, should only play a facilitatory role to ensure a stable
macro-economic environment obtains that, among other things, allows workers
(where they exist) to be gainfully employed and, more importantly, be able
to borrow non-extortionist loans or mortgages to finance their housing
Looking at government's track record in relation to among others, education,
health and now housing, I am reminded of my school days when naïve sprinters
who were used to running short distances would, despite lacking the
necessary conditions and stamina, decide to take part in a gruelling
marathon, only to collapse and end up prostate mid-race.
Building houses is definitely not going to be a stroll in the park. Signs of
fatigue in the housing marathon are already evident, with the government
calling for smart partnerships with the private sector. But then, if one may
ask, whose "smart" idea was it to demolish the so-called illegal structures
in the first place?
The biggest post-independence tragedy is that the government has shown this
suicidal proclivity of engaging in self congratulatory revelry, pretty much
like a career arsonist who celebrates extinguishing infernos that he starts.
It is now belatedly sinking in that by simply expecting, instead of actually
demanding a government that is accountable to the electorate (and not one
that regards itself as a deity) we, as a nation have over the years turned
the other cheek and in the process created a monster of Frankenstein
TO fellow Zimbabweans, wherever we are, it's time for us to work out
practical ways of ending the suffering we are being subjected to.
How long are we going to pretend that we can sustain this way of life where
prices are going up daily, unavailability of essential goods, services and
inputs is the order of the day, while laws which force everyone into
operating as criminals continue to be formulated.
As Zimbabweans, do we not realise that we are being forced to direct our
frustrations towards each other instead of confronting the uncaring
government responsible for all our suffering.
Workers turn against employers, demanding ridiculously high salaries beyond
the cost of living or the Poverty Datum Line, but forgetting that the
employers themselves, due to the prevailing economic situation can't meet
these demands as their revenue hasn't increased 30-fold in real terms since
the beginning of the year.
Parents' Associations and School Development Associations/Councils are at
each other's throats due to the need to increase fees. Councils and rate
payers don't see eye to eye as service delivery continues to deteriorate
against a background of higher rates. Fuel dealers continue charging
exorbitant unstable prices, crippling both individuals and businesses with
no solution in sight to the crisis.
Can we shift the way we think and ask ourselves whether this is not our
problem and how we should solve it so that we stop moaning day in and day
out. Suggestions can be sent to progressive newspapers or whatever effective
mode of communication employed.
Our dignity and social fabric are being torn to shreds while we watch. If
the United Nations had not intervened, Sam Levy's Village would by now be in
ruins, and I ask: For what reasons?
No sacrifice No gain
I AM a civil servant and suffering just like most Zimbabweans resident in
the country. I would like to contribute to debate on the controversial
Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC President, is right that it serves no purpose to
participate in the Senate elections. I am convinced I am representing the
majority of MDC supporters and the general populace when I say it is against
the wish of the people for the party to preoccupy itself with representation
in the Senate, which will account for a large proportion of taxpayers'
money, when the masses are starving.
Let us get serious with the struggle. Mind you, we are at a ripe age for the
final phase of the revolution. All the signs are there for you to see. There
is no reason to steer the ship off-course at the last minute. You had rather
not legitimise this regime by dancing to their tune. There is no democracy
when the results of an election are pre-determined.
You know exactly what percentage of seats is deliberately reserved for you
to give the government an appearance of being very democratic. We, the
people, feel the so-called intellectuals are greedy and that is the reason
why they want senate positions at the expense of our wishes. Please, do not
take us for granted. This party enjoys the limelight thanks to the support
it receives from us. Take heed. We shall not follow you blindly!
Why did you not consult the people like you did, together with the National
Constitutional Assembly in 2000? Thereafter, announce your collective
decision after a meeting of the national council, rather than the discordant
Any action taken must be done, not as MDC but as MDC, the civil society, NCA
and the people. We are ready for action. Some of us are already on go-slow
in preparation for real action.
A Civil Servant
By our staff
PROPERTY baron Nicholas van Hoogstraten has pounced into the tourism sector
after acquiring key equity in the Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG).
Standardbusiness heard last week that the business mogul, reputed to be an
ally of President Robert Mugabe, had swooped on Zimbabwe Stock
Exchange-listed RTG following the unwillingness by other shareholders to
follow their rights. Last month RTG made a renounceable rights' offer to
shareholders in a bid to raise $80 billion.
The offer opened on 19 September and closed on 30 September.
According to RTG's new share register Van Hoogstraten's Messina Investments
has 2.17 % with 35 727 640 shares.
Foreign investors - notably Accor Afrique and Libyan Arab African
Investments Company (LAAICO) - have reduced their stake in the hospitality
concern to 9.08% and 3.65% respectively. Initially Accor Afrique and LAAICO
had 34.20% and 13.84% shareholding respectively.
Initially, Accor Afrique had 34,2% but now has 9,01%, whilst LAAICO had
13,83% but now only has 3,65%.
Existing shareholders took up 42% of the rights offers shares, rights offer
shares taken up by underwriters and subsequently placed with institutional
investors accounted for 52% while underwriters took up 6% of the rights
offer shares. The new RTG shares issued in terms of the rights offer listed
on ZSE on Monday.
Rights offer proceeds will be used for refurbishment of the group's
facilities, which will gobble $45.6 billion.
RTG has indicated that Touch the Wild lodges require investments in both
furnishings and entertainment facilities " in order to make them suitable
for the newly identified local corporate and leisure market".
Working capital financing will chalk up $13.6 billion of the proceeds,
regional investments and IT upgrade will account for $8 billion apiece with
expenses of the rights offer taking up $4.8 billion.
While there are new shareholders into the hospitality group such as chairman
Ibbo Mandaza (0.35%) and optician Solomon Guramatunhu (0.23), Van
Hoogstraten's acquisition has consolidated his grip on ZSE stocks. The
business magnate has over 30% shareholding in Hwange Colliery Company, about
7% in CFI Holdings and is the single largest shareholder in NMB.
Van Hoogstraten - who has relocated to Zimbabwe from the UK - has courted
controversy internationally by describing President Mugabe as "100% decent
He is also alleged to have boasted "the only purpose of creating great
wealth like mine is to separate oneself from the rif-raff."
sundayfocus By Chikwambo Chatunga
A chikwambo is a spirit of the dead under the malevolent control of the
living. The only purpose for which a goblin is useful is the destruction of
the livelihoods of targeted living persons, for whatever reason its
psychopathic controller deems fit. A chikwambo is destructive and
particularly unreasonable. One can purchase it from any reputable
Looking at the track record of President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, I cannot
help suspecting that Zimbabwe is being run along similar lines and has gone
out of control. Once upon a time he could pass for a liberator. We applauded
him, not knowing that we were stroking a demon and approving a signature we
will live to regret - mayhem and a predilection for vacuous populist mania;
except that soon enough the populism became divorced from its intended
beneficiaries and the chaos engulfed a whole nation.
Bereft of legitimate enemies the demon has long turned on its children, for
that is what we are. We have become nails for the carpenter whose only tool
is a hammer.
Seriously, it never was only about vanquishing the evil Ian Smith regime,
nor was it ever about liberating the children of the soil, it now seems. It
is certainly not now about economic transformation and turnaround. To the
demolition man, purpose is fulfilled in seeking out, and often creating,
enemies and destroying them; be they white or black, rich or poor, visible
or invisible. He is intoxicated with the arrogance of power. Solutions
deprive him of purpose. They make him appear weak - to himself, of course.
The enduring ruler and his coterie of hangers-on must prevail as the only
measure of potency.
To illustrate this; first it was the evil Smith regime that got demolished;
then through a series of typically devious and brutal moves (proprietary
"politics", he calls it), Zapu and its supporters were frog-marched into
The war against Renamo and the DRC war against Rwandan and
Ugandan-controlled rebels drew from the same visceral motivation, although
couched, again typically, in high-minded principles that few of us could
Small fry Ndabaningi Sithole (who for some reason haunted Zanu PF until he
was interred ignominiously), Edgar Tekere, Eddison Zvobgo (who held a party
card), Dzikamai Mavhaire, Jonathan Moyo, Henry Hamadziripi and a long list
of others which continues to grow even now, were quickly neutralised under a
barrage of invective and harassment.
Had they not been the erstwhile liberation hammer, the war veterans would
have faced the same demise in short shrift, although by now they are none
the wiser for it. After the gratuity, their call for land restitution
reminded the intoxicated destroyer that the evil Smith regime had only gone
underground in the countryside after all.
What followed is breaking news: a precipitous economic collapse (Even Mum's
street-corner vegetable stall, which paid for our school fees, is gone)
owing much less to imperialists than to dogged, supernatural incompetence.
How else can the most educated government ever superintend the worst
performing economy in history, where every miserable contrivance to fix
things only makes them worse! How come these learned gentlemen fail to see
that political sovereignty cannot exist outside of economic stability; that
there is a strong case for humble pie in an interdependent, shrinking world?
Why, even muscular George W Bush reluctantly subsists on swill every now and
My point is that Mugabe is only at his best destroying things. He does not
build anything of his own volition, nor has he ever. He only reacts to
fast-moving threats. The outcome is always fatal. He lacks the soft touch,
the diplomatic tact, the human respect and humility, or the selfless
detachment required to build enduring socio-economic structures.
The only structure that endures is him. It's all about him. While he may at
times have given Africa at large a sense of dignity (New African's "No. 3
Greatest African of All Time"), he invariably unwinds his position at home.
He cannot be Father of the Nation by any stretch. His cold, hateful,
vengeful personality hangs like a pall of smoke across this land.
On a dark night you can almost make out his ominous visage across the
Zimbabwean firmament. He is a severe, humourless man. As the Machiavellian
chaacter that he is, he would rather be feared than liked. Someone did him
unforgivable wrong in his misty past and he cannot remember who. But he is
in charge. He owns this place and all its minions.
Cowardly smart alecks may pontificate endlessly about desirable monetary,
fiscal, structural, macro-economic and other high-minded scholarly policies,
ad nauseum, that could reverse Zimbabwe's socio-economic decay, but the
Demolition Man must please go first.
Development matters are not demolition jobs. Revolutionaries are not the
best custodians of the revolution. Visionaries are seldom effective
strategists. Let him weave his Senatorial parachute and depart.
By Reyhana Masters
BEFORE I am labelled in the usual manner that Zimbabweans are an opposition
activist, a Zanu PF sympathizer or some such other thing, let me explain why
I write this.
I listened to story after story after story of incredible violence against
very ordinary people who were unable to find justice anywhere. There has not
been any retribution and it is very unlikely that there will be retribution
against those who committed these crimes of violence. It was difficult to
listen to these accounts of brutality and this was more so difficult because
I could offer nothing in return.
But maybe I can give voice to these people and so I write this because I am
outraged and I am articulating the deep frustration felt by the people who
have suffered and continue to suffer.
Five years ago incredible violence swept through this country. It came in
many forms and the attacks seemed random but it soon became apparent that
the violence was strategic, well planned and deliberately carried out.
Farm workers had their homes destroyed, their possessions burnt and they
ended up displaced and destitute. Some of them have never recovered.
Teachers were brutally beaten up and discarded. Students were terrorized.
Property was burnt or destroyed. People were left homeless. All that
violence was numbing.
As I travelled around the countryside I would hear the hair-raising stories
of people having narrow escapes. Most often there was no escape. For many of
the villagers the attackers would come in the night. There was a knock on
the door, followed by banging. Family members who answered - usually a child
or wife were harassed, humiliated and most often beaten up. These villagers,
many of whom had spent years sacrificing much and building their lives
suddenly lost everything - their crops, their food, their livestock and
Women were raped - often brutally and in the presence of family members.
Many of them ended up HIV positive. Many pregnant women repeatedly told
their stories of how they were beaten up and had miscarried as a result.
Women and children lost their fathers and brothers. Men and children lost
their wives and mothers respectively. There are those who had their ears cut
off or parts of their bodies mutilated. There are those who just
disappeared. There are those who died. The stories go on and on.
All of this was done in the name of politics. Opposition politics to be
precise. For the first time there was a formidable opposition. And it was
the people of Zimbabwe who paid the price.
But they did so with courage and with conviction. Despite the threat of
danger at every corner there were those who braved the environment.
As we all have witnessed, the violence intensified and the repression
continued. What always struck me when people narrated stories of the
violence inflicted upon them was the fact that they did so in a very
matter-of-fact way. What always came through was how brave determined they
were to continue supporting the MDC. As I often sat listening to the
harrowing tales of violence I sometimes felt that their faith was misguided
but how could I offer my cynicism to the wave of hope that people felt.
Five years later I am outraged on behalf of Zimbabweans who have suffered
and the Zimbabweans who have lived through extreme difficulties. As I write
we all may try to bury our heads in the sand and pretend otherwise but there
is great suffering, extreme poverty, hunger, ill health and uncertainty
facing this country.
So how devastating for all those who risked life and limb, to now be faced
with an opposition that is so conspicuously divided. The decision by the MDC
to contest/not contest the senate polls leaves the general public confused,
uncertain and without hope. Morgan Tsvangirai quite accurately says:
"Democracy in Zimbabwe is still a farce." But the manner in which the MDC
has made its decision and the way in which they imparted that information is
farcical and absolutely ludicrous.
The fumbling and inept manner in which critical decisions such as this are
made is devastatingly disappointing. Do people who have put up with so much
deserve to be rewarded with an opposition that dithers and dawdles over
major decisions with no clear vision of what and why they are doing
I am probably naïve and idealistic, but I am sure that all the people who
have suffered over the years including MDC MPs themselves would have wanted
different. You want to know that you have suffered for a reason.
Zimbabweans know that decisions in our particular environment are not easy.
Often we are caught between a rock and a hard place.
This country is in desperate need of clear and strategic thinkers. It needs
people who make decisions with absolute conviction. The country needs people
who know what they are doing and know why they are doing it.
The MDC has to make it clear to the general populace throughout the country,
why a certain decision has been made and what the implications of that
decision are. When a final decision is made have the courage to stand
together and confirm this decision with all the conviction you can muster.
People need a party that knows what it wants and is clear that the stakes
are high and the risks are even higher.
If MDC continues bumbling along as they have when critical decisions have to
be made, there is no doubt that they too will have committed the crime of
exploitation and they too will have done so in the name of that which is
righteous and just.
Zimbabweans have had enough of that!
sundayopinion By Sure Mataramvura
I remember an incident that took place when I was walking along Rezende
Street in Harare eight years ago. There was a small group of people making
enough noise to attract any passer by. I could hear shouts of "Ndahwina!" (I
have won!) from a distance.
I investigated and sure enough, there was a group of boys and two women with
children on their backs and one smartly dressed lady with a purse. The
smartly dressed lady started to gamble and she "won".
But there followed a series of losses for the lady gambler. In short, she
lost all her money. Midway into the game she discovered that she had been
conned of all her money and started crying. She decided to abandon the
gambling forthwith. She started crying and telling everyone who cared to
listen that she had been conned, but there was no one to help her. All the
boys and women with children had dispersed in different directions.
I raised my head and realized that they were some shabby looking guys with
blood-shot eyes watching and telling me that I would die if I dared
volunteer to be a witness. I quickly left. This is the game they call
"feja-feja". In probability theory it is called a biased game. The outcome
is known and favourable to the designers of the game. But surprisingly the
game looks very genuine.
I have recounted this personal experience with the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change MDC in mind. Right from the formation of the MDC, the
party was very confident that it would win elections especially given the
situation on the ground where everything seemed not to be working for Zanu
The economy was not doing well. But the MDC forgot one thing; that it was
the Zanu PF government which was running the elections. Unfortunately, it
was too early to doubt that the elections in Zimbabwe were like "feja-feja".
This is where the MDC missed their cue.The outcomes of all previous
elections are no different from the little story that I recounted at the
beginning of this contribution.
The optimal thing for the MDC was to fight for a level playing field before
the 2000 parliamentary elections and to threaten to boycott them at that
stage. Once they participated, they were in the shoes of the smartly dressed
lady in my "feja-feja" story. They "won" 57 seats as a motivation to
continue playing. Now they are on the losing trek. At this stage Morgan
Tsvangirai is asking his multitude of supporters whether it is sensible to
continue gambling. The outcome is known, he tells everyone. He is very
right. The outcome was known even before and it will continue to be known.
Now he has to decide as chief executive of the party on what is optimal to
either protect the small "loot" (41 seats) left for him half-way in the
game, or continue participating in the elections hoping to gain more but
risking to lose even more credibility as a major opposition party. That is a
catch-22 situation and to be honest "feja-feja" games have no theories and
no one can best advise the MDC on what to do on the Senatorial elections:
that is, whether to participate or not because both outcomes bring
He can decide to sulk but in Shona they say "waramwira gudo munda". The
assumption is normally that sulking will cause the other side to give in.
Zanu PF does not care. They would rather watch human bodies rotting in
mortuaries while channelling money to Senate elections.
They destroyed people's homes in an operation they named "Murambatsvina".
They removed the MDC mayors of Harare and Mutare accusing them of
incompetence and replaced them with their supporters who are many times more
corrupt and incompetent. University lecturers are earning less than $4m a
month in real terms. Driving is now a luxury in Zimbabwe but its business as
usual for Zanu PF and their apologists. So would they lose sleep becuse the
MDC is boycotting the elections? Definitely not. They do not care about
Zimbabwe. They care about themselves. There are some people who write
articles to newspapers telling us that the MDC is confused and is failing to
gain ground on the political scene. They forget that there is no ground to
be gained in the first place. Zimbabwe is not a democracy. Period. There is
no point pretending that one day any political party will win under the
current situation. It was the same with Ian Smith's Zimbabwe-Rhodesia
elections in 1979. If Zanu PF had participated in those elections, Bishop
Abel Muzorewa's party was going to "win".
That is why Zanu PF went on a serious campaign to discredit those elections
until proper ones were conducted in 1980 under international observation.
This is what the MDC failed to do - to campaign vigorously before the 2000
elections that the playing field was not even and that the UN be involved in
conducting the elections.
Zanu PF then, was ill-prepared to bar organizations from monitoring
elections because they wanted to appear genuine. The following is my opinion
on why the MDC lacks such foresight and strategies.President Robert Mugabe's
government tells everyone who wants to listen that it has successfully run
many democratic elections in the country. They argue that they do not need
anyone to lecture them on how to run elections. They are fair elections,
they argue. They however forget to tell the same people that they are lying
because if they were not, then why would they ban discussion of politics in
the country through POSA.
In fact with the current situation where they won technically more than two
thirds, which would imply statistically that there is no more threat to
their governance, why would they plan not to give visas to all Zimbabweans
who want to travel outside and why would they arrest people who are walking
to work? The reason is that in "feja-feja" there are the red-eyed boys who
have to watch those who want to blow the whistle. That is why I was almost
in trouble in Rezende Street for trying to stand a witness to what the
conned lady went through.Finally, let me give my opinion on why the MDC
leadership is remaining behind in strategies as opposed to Zanu PF. Forget
about the infiltration by Zanu PF, which of course is a contributing factor.
One of the major reasons is that the MDC leadership is a union and not an
intersection. By definition, a union is a collection of sets with or without
common elements in them, whereas an intersection is a collection of common
elements in different sets.
This should explain why Munyaradzi Gwisai was quickly shown the exit door
because after forming the union, they now wanted to find a common
intersection. That has proved too complicated for the party leaders. Zanu PF
also has had its share in this. Many leaders have fallen by the wayside
after differing with the Great Leader, Uncle Bob. The only difference is
that Zanu PF has the State media to do public relations for it even at its
lowest ebb, whereas the MDC can easily be portrayed as a divided party each
time they expose their differences.
At present, the reality is that Zanu PF is more divided than the MDC but the
perception created by the media is the opposite. That is how powerful the
media is and that's why the CIO is interested in owning more.Secondly, the
MDC leadership lacks forward planners. Picture this; the MDC knew about the
Senate elections since Mugabe hinted on it ages ago, even during the time
when it was a plan by Patrick Chinamasa. It was at that time they should
also have planned in advance, looking at all possible scenarios. They should
have come up with resolutions and said that if Zanu PF pushed its idea of a
Senate, they would take action. Such a plan must have been there to avoid
bickering at the last minute.
At present there is plan to extend the president's term to 2010 through some
constitutional manoeuvres. The MDC should sit down and plan ahead for that.
As a result such lack of foresight puts the MDC in the same category as Zanu
PF's lack of planning when it comes to economic issues. The country has been
left in the doldrums economically only for them to try and find a solution
when the problem is already out of hand. Once some idea comes out, ministers
then rush to the State media to tell people that this problem will be a
"thing of the past". In most cases it ends as an idea. As a result, the MDC
needed such people like the late Learnmore Jongwe ,former Highfield MP Gwisa
and current St Mary's MP Job Sikhala to mention but a few , in as much as
Zanu PF needed such people like Eddison Zvobgo and Edgar Tekere during and
immediately after the war.
These individuals are generally radicals in party language but because of
their radicalism, they often get into trouble with those in power and they
quickly think of a way out. They are thus the party strategists and forward
planners. They are good at "jambanja" when called for. At present the MDC
leadership is composed of smart guys who put on ties and jackets. These guys
are only good in peace time. Every revolutionary movement must have in equal
proportions the radicals and the gentlemen. The danger though, is that after
winning the battle, the radicals must be safely accommodated far away from
power because they can easily become leaders and dictators. The ANC bought
most of them out by giving them money to start projects through Black
Empowerment. They are very quiet. So the MDC needs to go back and
re-strategize.Lastly, political opportunists are already preying on the
desperate Zimbabweans. I almost laughed when I heard that Professor Jonathan
Moyo wanted to form or was linked to a new party but I realized that
Zimbabwe is in trouble. Under normal circumstances, he should be humiliated
for what he did to the Zimbabwean media. He should be feeling the rejection
of the people but lo and behold, he is safely negotiating his way to
becoming the new hero.