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Mugabe under pressure to deal with ‘sellouts’

Sunday, 16 October 2011 12:57


PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is under pressure to use the Zanu PF conference to
deal with officials who discussed his ouster with American diplomats with
provinces reportedly pushing for the issue to the agenda.

A renowned political commentator has also warned that Mugabe would be
“dammed if he does not take action and damned if he does”.

The secret meetings were disclosed in US diplomatic cables leaked by the
whistleblower website WikiLeaks in September.

Zanu PF’s initial reaction was that it would ignore the cables but last week
announced that Mugabe wanted a full investigation into the scandal.

It has since emerged that most Zanu PF provinces will push for an open
debate of the disclosures at the party’s 11th Annual National People’s
Conference to be held in Bulawayo from December 6 to 10.

A survey by The Standard has revealed that a number of Zanu PF provinces
have the WikiLeaks issue in their wish-list for the conference.
Analysts said this was likely to put pressure on Mugabe because almost all
the influential people in Zanu PF spoke to the US diplomats and expressed
their desire to see the 87-year-old leave office.

“One of the most important issues that we are taking to the conference is
the issue of WikiLeaks.”

Mugabe has said the conference would be a “mini-congress”, in what insiders
said was a sign that he was toying around with an idea to initiate
leadership changes.

University of Zimbabwe political scientist John Makumbe said Mugabe was in a
catch 22 situation.

“He is between a rock and a hard place, damned if he pursues the WikiLeaks
saga to its conclusion, and damned if he does not,” Makumbe said.
“There are too many senior people in his party who are likely to be
implicated including his two VPs.”

Although Nkomo was not directly implicated, one of the cables quoting the
late Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs Edson Zvobgo claimed that he was
also one of those eager to see Mugabe’s back.

“Mugabe is likely to wreck the party if he is to pursue the matter because
Zanu PF is already weak as it is and has more divisions at the top than any
other party in Zimbabwe,” Makumbe added.

“Yet it will be difficult for him not to pursue it because the party has
disciplined members in the past, for example those involved in the
Tsholotsho saga, so precedence has been set.”

In 2005, Zanu PF was forced to suspend five provincial chairpersons who
attended a meeting at Dinyane High School in Tsholotsho, which Zanu PF says
was organised to block Mujuru’s ascendancy to the VP’s post.

They favoured Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to take the post. Mugabe
believed he was the main target of the plot linked to politburo member
Jonathan Moyo.

Moyo has again featured prominently in the plots exposed by the leaked
cables but his defence is that he was out of the party at the time as it was
after he was expelled.

Makumbe said: “I think there are already vultures waiting to take advantage
of the situation by either forming a break-away party or removing Mugabe
from power.

“The party’s apparent unity is likely to be shaken by whatever move he

But indications on the ground are Mugabe will be unanimously endorsed to
represent the party in the elections.

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa on Friday said Zanu PF could not afford
to “change the captain in the midst of a storm.”

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Zimplats windfall divides Zanu PF

Sunday, 16 October 2011 13:08


A community trust set up to help the local community acquire shares in
platinum mining giant Zimplats has created fissures in Zanu PF’s Mashonaland
West structures as ordinary members charge that heavy weights want to line
their pockets.

President Robert Mugabe on Thursday officially launched the
Mhondoro-Ngezi-Zvimba Community Share Ownership Trust, which was given US$10
million by Zimplats.

A war veteran who was barred from attending the colourful ceremony accused
senior government officials of sidelining the community.

“It pains us to see how our fellow comrades in Zanu PF remain the only ones
that benefit each and every time there is something of monetary value and
they seem to never have enough,” the war veteran who requested to remain
anonymous said.

“This project should be run by the community, not some ministers from Harare
dictating everything.

“We know that these politicians have handpicked chiefs that are loyal to
them that they will use as fronts to milk this trust with no meaningful
development to this area.”

Last month Chief Nyika, whose jurisdiction covers Zimplats mine, accused
Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development minister Ignatius
Chombo, Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister Saviour
Kasukuwere and area MP Bright Matonga of sidelining him.

The chief said he would not recognise the trust because his people had
formed their own Mhondoro-Ngezi Community Development Foundation (MN-CDF),
which the three politicians have allegedly sidelined.

Chombo, Kasukuwere and Matonga all denied the accusations.

Mashonaland West governor Faber Chidarikire appeared to be confirming the
rift at the launch when he accused unnamed government officials of being

“We will not tolerate individualism and greed over the community share
ownership trust. Chidarikire said. “Everyone has to benefit regardless of
political affiliation.”

Meanwhile, Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment deputy minister
Tongai Matutu (MDC-T) said there was no transparency in the way the
community trusts were being set-up.

“The main problem with this community trust is the facilitation,” Matutu
said on the sidelines of the launch.

“Some of these traditional chiefs are being manipulated at the expense of
the community, there is no transparency.”

He said the MDC-T party was not against indigenisation but objected to the
way it was being handled.

“There is need to strike a balance between empowering our people and keeping
the economy going,” Matutu said.

“There is need to consult all government ministries, especially those that
deal with investment and tourism so that our ministry will not destroy the
ministries of Mines, Tourism and Industry’s efforts to get the country’s
economy going.”

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‘Soldiers plot vote rigging’

Sunday, 16 October 2011 13:22


SOLDIERS are reportedly directing war veterans and traditional leaders in
Manicaland province to record names of all people in their villages and give
them numbers which they say would be used when voting, a senior MDC-T
official in the province said.
It is not yet clear when the polls will be held, but President Robert Mugabe
says he wants them early next year while Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
insists on attaining a level electoral playing field before the polls.

MDC-T Manicaland provincial spokesperson Pishai Muchauraya said the soldiers
recently distributed notebooks to village heads and war veterans in most
parts of the province.

Muchauraya said soldiers, who are supposed to be apolitical, have virtually
turned traditional leaders into Zanu PF political commissars.

He expressed concern over the presence of soldiers in the province as well
as their involvement in the Zanu PF election campaign.

“This is the usual Zanu PF intimidation tactics and attempts to rig
elections even before they start,” Muchauraya said.

“Village heads started giving their subjects numbers soon after the soldiers
gave them the notebooks.”

Muchaurya said this exercise was being done in the whole province but was
most prevalent in Chimanimani West, Chipinge, Mutasa South and Makoni East.

Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF) public relations director Overson Mugwisi
professed ignorance when asked about the development.

He referred further questions to army public relations director Lieutenant
Colonel Alphios Makotore, who declined to comment over the phone.
The army is accused of helping out Mugabe mainly during presidential
elections in 2002 and 2008 elections, which were some of the most violent in
the country’s history.

At least 200 MDC-T activists were murdered during the 2008 polls.

In some areas of Manicaland, Zanu PF officials are distributing bicycles to
village heads, a move the MDC-T believe is an attempt to bribe them.
Last month, MDC-T accused former Chipinge South legislator Enock Porusingazi
of ordering village headmen  in his area to list all names of known Zanu PF
supporters in Chipinge.

Porusingazi, however, denied the allegations saying they are carrying out a
restructuring exercise.

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Zanu PF in bid to block violence trials

Sunday, 16 October 2011 13:28


Zanu PF MPs are reportedly making frantic moves to block further
prosecutions of their party youths accused of killing their political foes
in past elections.
The legislators who relied on the youths for their campaigns allegedly fear
that the convictions might harm their re-election chances in next year’s
A number of MPs have been linked to widespread violence against supporters
of rival parties in previous elections.

The sources said Zanu PF fears that the prosecutions will dissuade the
youths from campaigning vigorously for the party after a realisation that no
one is above the law.

The issue has been discussed in Zanu PF circles but some of the party’s MPs
want the matter raised with President Robert Mugabe so that he can use his
powers to stop the trials.

In the past, Zanu PF, which controls the police and the Ministry of Justice,
has managed to block the prosecution of its supporters accused of violence
or election-related murders.

A few days before the 1990 general elections, Central Intelligence
Organisation (CIO) operatives Elias Kanengoni and Kizito Chifamba shot the
late Gweru businessman Patrick Kombayi who was challenging the late
Vice-President Simon Muzenda for the Gweru urban seat.

Kanengoni and Chifamba were convicted by the courts on charges of attempted
murder but were pardoned by Mugabe.

Kanengoni is now CIO deputy director general (internal).

Another CIO operative, Joseph Mwale, accused of killing MDC activists,
Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya, in the 2000 elections is still a free
The lack of action by police led many Zanu PF activists to believe that they
were above the law,  a state of affairs about which opposition and human
rights groups have complained over the years.

But last month’s conviction of Farai Machaya, the son of Midlands governor
Jason Machaya and five other Zanu FP members on charges of killing Moses
Chokuda, an MDC-T activist, is said to have sent the former ruling party
into panic mode.

Farai and his accomplices were sentenced to 18 years in jail.

Chokuda’s parents have since 2009 refused to bury his remains until they get
compensation from the Machaya family.
Another Zanu PF supporter, Norman Sibanda, who murdered an MDC activist in
2003, was recently sentenced to death by hanging.
Sibanda of Nkayi struck Zenzo Maphosa with a log and fractured his skull.

In Masvingo, five Zanu PF activists from Zaka District appeared before High
Court judge Justice Samuel Kudya last week accused of the murder of two
MDC-T activists in 2002.

Sources said, stung by the jailing of Machaya’s son, some senior politicians
in Midlands were reportedly considering approaching Mugabe to pardon the

Didymus Mutasa, the Zanu PF secretary for administration said he was not
aware of such manouevres.

Political analyst Charles Mangongera believes the prosecutions would be a
deterrent for political violence in the future.

He, however, added that Zanu PF may soon use its political muscle to stop
the prosecutions as they will jeopardise its re-election chances.
“They may soon interfere with the judiciary process by putting spanners into
the justice delivery system,” he said.

“The prosecution and convictions showed that there are still men and women
of integrity in the judiciary,” he said.

But another analyst said the prosecutions and convictions were hollow as
some of the convicts will be released and then be unleashed to lead Zanu PF’s
traditional violent campaign.

Convicted serial rapist Madzibaba Godfrey Nzira was last year pardoned by
Mugabe after serving just seven years of his 42-year sentence.
Soon after his release Nzira, the leader of Johanne Masowe WeChishano
Apostolic Church, threw a party that was attended by Attorney-General
Johannes Tomana and Information minister Webster Shamu.

MDC-T has accused Tomana of refusing to push for the prosecution of Zanu PF
members despite having been provided with credible evidence that they were
involved in violence.

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MDC-T plan to lure more voters on cards

Sunday, 16 October 2011 13:21


THE Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai is working on a massive voter registration campaign targeting
three million new voters.

MDC-T’s proposed campaign comes amid mounting complaints that the Registrar
General’s office is frustrating Zimbabweans trying to register as voters.
The department, which in the past has been accused of using the voter’s roll
to aid poll rigging by Zanu PF, is accused of using a requirement for proof
of residence to frustrate potential voters.

Registrar General Tobaiwa Mudede recently issued a notice defining proof of
residence, which said people in rural areas would need a letter from the
chief, headman or village head, farm or mine owner.

Critics, however, say this was a flawed interpretation of the Electoral Act,
which says a councillor can issue such a letter. Mudede was not available
for comment as he was constantly said to be out of the office last week.

“Zanu PF has fewer councillors in the country compared to its nemesis, the
MDC-T, hence the need to thwart the registration of those perceived to be
pro-MDC-T by denying them the proof of residence,” said the Youth Forum,
which has also launched its campaign to encourage youths to register as

In urban areas people are asked to bring utility bills in their names and
letters confirming their status from landlords if they don’t own houses.

Edwin Ndlovu, the Bulawayo provincial spokesperson for the MDC led by
Welshman Ncube said his party had also embarked on a programme to encourage
its supporters to register as voters.

But he bemoaned the fact that those who were stepping out to register were
facing numerous challenges. “The requirements pose a big challenge,” Ndlovu
said. “Most people, especially the youths, do not own houses and the bills
are not in their names.

“Sometimes the owners are overseas but still, they are told to bring letters
from the landlords.”

Ndlovu said some get discouraged by the thought of engaging the landlords
over elections which are usually a politicised issue.

“We are currently on a campaign to encourage people to register as voters
but these stringent requirements discourage many who do not have much
interest in politics,” he said.

“Somebody finds it better to spend their time looking for money than looking
for a landlord and explaining to them that they want to register to vote.
“The national identity document should be enough.”

Ndlovu said the move to decentralise registration centres in Bulawayo would
have encouraged more people to register if the registration requirements
were simplified.

Registration is done at Drill Hall, Tredgold, Pumula Housing Office, Nketa
Housing Office and Mpilo among other centres in Bulawayo. Harare has only
one centre at Market Square, which is in the city centre.

A crew from The Standard last week observed that few people were visiting
the registration centre at Market Square and officers spent most of their
time idling.

This reporter was able to register in less than 15 minutes but witnessed a
potential voter being turned away because he did not have a letter from his

“The electricity bill is fine but we cannot accept this letter you have
here,” an officer advised the man.

“What we want is a letter written by the landlord or another person with a
similar surname.”

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Displaced political violence victims return home

Sunday, 16 October 2011 13:20


AT least 31 MDC-T supporters who were forced out of their homes by Zanu PF
activists in Chimanimani district early this year will finally head home
today to begin a new life.
The villagers’ return follows intervention by the Joint Monitoring and
Implementation Committee (Jomic).

Victims also lost livestock and other properties that were looted by their
political rivals after they fled their homesteads.

Jomic spokesperson Joram Nyathi confirmed that the victims would be taken
back to their homes today.

They will be escorted by Jomic’s provincial and district liaison committee
members from both Zanu PF and the two MDC formations to ensure violence does
not erupt again.

The police and Chief John Mutambara are also expected to be part of the

“That’s what was agreed in yesterday’s meeting (Thursday),” Nyathi said.

“They are likely to be accompanied by senior officials from all political
parties as well as district liaison committee members.”

MDC-T Manicaland provincial spokesperson Pishai Muchauraya said only 12 of
the 31 displaced families would be resettled because others were not readily
available as they fled to Mozambique.

The party believes Zanu PF is not sincere in their efforts to re-integrate
the displaced families.

It said the party has been sending junior officers to important Jomic
meetings knowing that they would not make binding commitments.

But Zanu PF representative in Jomic, Oppah Muchinguri said her party wanted
genuine co-existence of political parties in the whole country.

The MDC-T is also worried that Jomic meetings never addressed the issue of
compensation of the victims, all of whom lost their livestock and other
personal belongings.

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Hearings on electoral Amendment bill to start

Sunday, 16 October 2011 13:16


BULAWAYO — Public hearings on the contentious Electoral Amendment Bill which
have been postponed twice due to violence fears, are set to begin tomorrow,
according to the Parliament Portfolio Committee on Justice, legal and
Constitutional Affairs.

The hearings on the Bill that have set the MDC’s and Zanu-PF on a collision
course on various issues kicks off in Marondera before spreading to other
cities and ending in Harare on October 24.

“The public, interested groups, business persons and organisations are
invited to the hearings. The contributions made will be considered by the
Committee in compiling a report to be tabled in Parliament,” read in part a
statement released by the Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and
Constitutional Affairs.
Douglas Mwonzora, the chairperson of the committee urged Zimbabweans to
attend the hearings to contribute to the drafting of an Act guaranteeing
free and fair elections.

The hearings were initially set to begin on August 24 and later September
26, but were postponed due to fears of violence.

Public hearings on the Human Rights Commission Bill were for example, marred
by violence, which was blamed on Zanu PF supporters.

The Electoral Amendment Bill proposes a number of changes to the existing
electoral law with a view to promoting free and fair elections.

The Bill has put Zanu-PF and the MDC-T on a collision course, for example,
on the Diaspora vote.

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Security agents, activists clash over mass grave

Sunday, 16 October 2011 13:13


BULAWAYO — Suspected state security agents in Lupane, Matabeleland North
last week chased away activists from the Bulawayo-based pressure group,
Ibhetshu LikaZulu, who were trying to fence off a suspected mass grave.
The security agents reportedly threatened the Ibhetshu LikaZulu activists
with arrest on accusations that they were holding an unsanctioned ceremony
at St Paul Secondary School, where remains of people allegedly killed during
Gukurahundi were discovered last month.

Pupils playing football at the school discovered bones sticking out the red
earth when the playing ground caved in.

Moses Mzila-Ndlovu, the co-National Healing minister, who has visited the
area, said the school where the human remains were found, used to be a
detention site during the 1980’s Matabeleland and Midlands massacres dubbed

Ibhetshu LikaZulu coordinator, Mbuso Fuzwayo, said the pressure group was
consulting villagers on the need to fence off the area where the skeletons
were found, only to be stopped by security agents who said the meeting was

“It is not proper for the skeletons to continue to be exposed. That is a
mass grave and as an organisation, we wanted to involve the community, to
hear from them what could be done to the area so that the skeletons are not
tampered with.

“We thought it could be best if the area is fenced off pending a proper
ceremony where there could be proper exhumations by experts and later,
proper burials. But the community is the one that was going to have the last

“We could not continue with our meeting, as some people claiming to be
security agents stopped it,” Fuzwayo said.

He said Ibhetshu LikaZulu had approached Mzila-Ndlovu’s organ on national
healing to disccuss the need to fence off the area before proper exhumations
and burials were held.

Mzila-Ndlovu was quoted last week saying there was need for “a lot of
preparatory work”, which would include “deploying counsellors and
psychologists who can move in and help communities cope with their trauma.”

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Divisions rock AAG

Sunday, 16 October 2011 13:14


FOUR provincial executives of the Affirmative Action Group (AAG) have passed
a vote of no confidence in the national executive for failing to represent
the interests of its constituency.
The provinces that want the entire national executive booted out are
Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East, Masvingo and Harare.

Their action is, however, not enough to remove the AAG national executive
led by Supa Mandiwanzira, as the position of the other provinces on the
matter remains unknown.

Apart from Mandiwanzira, the AAG executive is made up of three
vice-presidents — Sam Ncube, Themba Mliswa and Advocate Farai Mtamangira —
secretary general Tafadzwa Musarara, Elifas Mashaba (treasurer general),
national committee member, Chamu Chiwanza and the executive director,
Davison Gomo.

In a letter to the founding members, the provincial executives said while
the AAG remained a good project, “it has drifted away from its main cause
which is to assist the ordinary people of Zimbabwe to fight for their right
to development through active lobbying for opportunities for ordinary

The provincial executives said their national leaders were not interacting
with the grassroots in a letter dated October 12, addressed to the founder,
Phillip Chiyangwa.

“Our leaders meet more with foreign people than us and they talk more with
government than with us. Whose interest do they represent?”
They said the executive went to Israel and the US, but there was no feedback
to the constituency.

They said some members of the national executive belonged to other
organisations that have the same mandate as AAG and they should resign.

“Our president now sits on a board that creates conflict of interest and our
other vice-president sits on the Indigenisation and Empowerment Board, the
secretary general formed his AEDS, which we believe is in serious conflict
of our interest.

“They (must) either resign from their board positions or resign from the AAG
national executive.”

Mandiwanzira told The Standard yesterday, his executive had picked a dormant
AAG, revived it and made sure that it was relevant and at the forefront of
black economic empowerment.

“It’s a role that I and my executive have not done for commercial gain, but
out of deep-founded commitment to the agenda of black economic empowerment,”
he said.

“If my leadership of the institution has created political and economic
value that some of my colleagues now want to harvest, they can be assured
that I am ready and very willing to step aside and give them the baton to
head the organisation.”

Mandiwanzira said Mliswa was the brains behind the vote of no confidence and
he “can have this position any time”.

“I just hope that those who are desperate to take over the reins, have the
genuine interest of mass empowerment and not just their individual lot.”
Mliswa could not be reached yesterday, but Chiyangwa confirmed receiving the
letter saying he would make his position known “soon”.

He said his mandate is to preserve AAG for the organisation to serve the
needs of people and not individuals.

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Governor Gono: Colossus no more

Sunday, 16 October 2011 13:25


LIKE a colossus, Gideon Gono literally reigned supreme in Zimbabwe, dipping
his fingers in every pie, be it economic or political, but now the central
bank governor’s star is on the wane.
Gono’s stature has been on the decline since the formation of the inclusive
government two years ago, but it is the leaked US diplomatic cables that
could have hammered the final nail in the coffin of Gono’s high profile and
adventurous tenure as Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) boss.

Since his appointment to the powerful post in 2003, Gono literally ran the
country, presiding over the central bank in an unorthodox manner, involving
the bank in quasi-fiscal activities and dabbling in politics, yet President
Robert Mugabe stood by his man.

The central banker was even tipped to succeed Mugabe, while others described
him as the de facto prime minister.

He always had a huge entourage and a hoard of journalists followed his every
step, as his self importance grew.

Gono’s monetary policy presentations became the equivalent of state
functions and it was almost treasonous for government ministers and
politicians not to attend.

In the process, Gono became the most prominent central banker the country
had ever had.

He doled out cash, kept the money printing presses running, he was involved
in food and agricultural inputs distribution, thereby building his profile.
But on the flipside, he presided over record hyperinflation figures, in
essence meaning he had failed the job he was actually hired to do.
The job of a central bank governor is to keep inflation figures at a bare
minimum, but Gono seemed more interested in other things. Still Mugabe did
not see this as reason to fire him but instead showed more faith in him.

At the creation of the inclusive government, the MDC formations bayed for
Gono’s blood, they wanted him fired on the spot, but Mugabe stood by his
man, a decision he may yet regret.

While the president was shielding Gono from any manoeuvres to oust him, the
crafty central banker may have been actually plotting to have Mugabe removed
from power, leaked US cables have revealed.

Gono, believed to be Mugabe’s personal banker, was very active in meeting US
embassy officials, discussing and plotting to have the veteran leader vacate
his post.

In an attack on Gono and probably signifying Zanu PF’s sense of betrayal,
politburo member Jonathan Moyo said the central banker’s actions and his
dealings with the Americans were unacceptable.

“The RBZ was on autopilot and accountable to nobody, they were involved in
monetary, fiscal issues and political issues, things they shouldn’t
ordinarily be involved in,” Moyo, a politburo member, recently told a

“While everyone else was involved on the political front, they were busy
engaging in endless discussions with the Americans and that is very

Revelations by the whistleblower website allege that among other things,
Gono discussed with US embassy officials Mugabe’s failing health.
He would discuss government policy with the Americans even before announcing
it to the public.

Moyo claims that the attack on Mugabe was three pronged with one of the
phases being the destruction of the economy in which Gono was a major

“Then we had an RBZ governor who said economic collapse was a precursor to
real change, whatever that meant,” he said.

As if to underline his diminishing stature, Gono’s public appearances are
now few and far between.

At a recent function, the Ecocash launch, Gono was hardly noticeable, his
entry went largely unnoticed and he literally sneaked out of the function,
as if into oblivion.

He has issued statements denying that he met the American ambassadors even
though cables implicating him keep mounting.

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Wildlife: A national asset under threat

Sunday, 16 October 2011 13:28

By Tarisai Shumba

Wildlife areas are largely situated in arid parts of the country, marked by
skittish and unreliable rainfalls, poor soil and, thus, mostly unsuitable
for sustainable agriculture or cattle ranching.
This is true of National Parks, Campfire areas and conservancies. Since
wildlife is the recommended and often the only long-term sustainable land
use in these areas, is it important to Zimbabwe as a whole? — The answer
must be a resounding; “YES”! Use this land for wildlife or risk destroying
it’s potential for future generations!

We can offer the Victoria Falls, the Great Zimbabwe monument and many
one-day attractions in Zimbabwe. But our complimentary and competitive
advantage asset is wildlife. Viewing wildlife, hunting, birding and fishing
are activities which make tourists stay for extended periods.

There is sufficient proof of the multiplier effect on the economy due to
tourists extended stays. Without wildlife our tourism industry would be
close to non-existent. Our exceptional wildlife areas ensure tourists stay
for weeks rather than days and ensure that they visit Zimbabwe for other
business and personal reasons, post their wildlife viewing visit.

While the national wildlife herd has been destroyed by some 75% — yes, three
quarters of our national wildlife herd has been eliminated! — in the last 12
years, wildlife is doing well in those areas and conservancies, which have
not been invaded and destroyed.

The role of private conservancies is recognised by most Sadc regional
governments. President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai,
and many other members of Cabinet understand and support the role of
wildlife for the benefit of the country and the specific and complimentary
role of conservancies within the wildlife industry.

Of great concern are statements made by the Minister of Higher Education, Dr
Stan Mudenge who earlier this year advised that Chinese interests would
convert conservancies into cotton farms, the animals present would be driven
to Gonarezhou National Park and the remainder would be barbecued!

This statement made for personal political benefits undermines Zimbabwe’s
once proud reputation for conservation and shows a lack of regard for
government policy not to resettle people in Region 5 where erratic and poor
rainfall makes dryland farming unsustainable.  Resettling people in areas
with poor soil and rainfall shows a lack of respect or concern for their and
their children’s future.

Apart from these uninformed suggestions, one wonders what drives the
minister, Governor Titus Maluleke and several MP’s in Masvingo other than
finding yet another avenue for personal enrichment.  Settling people in
marginal areas, asking them to farm in such a highly vulnerable habitat, is
setting them up for failure.

To bring such flora back to its original state invariably takes between 30
to 50 years. However, if the topsoil has been removed through erosion, which
is too often the case, the land in question may never recover and will
become a desert instead, destroying all future employment potential and
creating a cycle of poverty and dependence on food aid.  Certainly a
lose-lose situation.

Zimbabwe needs long term, pragmatic wildlife policies based on experience
and the knowledge which it has already.  Both its people and wildlife will
benefit from such policies.

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Biti tells govt to give farmers long leases

Saturday, 15 October 2011 16:10


FINANCE minister Tendai Biti says there is need for long leases that can be
used by farmers to borrow from the banks among a host of recommendations
designed to make agriculture a viable business. This, according to Biti,
will allow farmers to go directly to the banks after government has realised
that budgetary support alone is not the solution to the problems facing the
agriculture sector.

“Wherever I have gone, farmers are crying about the absence of collateral
and you can’t have collateral without securitised long leases,” he said.
“The Attorney General has completed the work and it’s now up to
(Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development) minister (Joseph)
Made and Minister Murerwa (Herbert). It’s important that security of tenure
and collateral is there because farming is a business and every farmer must
have a business model,” Biti said.

“Nowhere in the world does government support agriculture. it can come with
a few subsidies here and there and can look at its vulnerable sectors, but
government can’t look after agriculture.

“Long leases will allow the return of a land market in Zimbabwe. there isn’t
a land market and if you can’t trade in land, it becomes dead capital. A
commodity needs two issues: use value and exchange value. So far our farms
have use value, but no exchange value.”

The Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (Baz) recently said they want lenders to
be given the same rights as the government in the ownership of land to
resolve the issue of collateral.

Banks argue that by having the same rights as the borrowers, they can
recover the debts.
Government has amended some clauses to the 99-year leases to entice banks to
accept them as security.

Baz said Clause 17.1.1 states that the lessee cannot cede, assign,
hypothecate or enter into a working partnership without the authority of the
lessor and that the lessor has six months to respond, which does not work
for debt recovery.

Biti said with liberalisation measures instituted by government in 2009,
prices should be determined at the floors like what happened at tobacco and
cotton auctions.

“This year the price of maize was US$285 per tonne, but in a liberalised
environment government should leave that role to a commodity exchange and
the ministries of Agriculture and Industry have put a grain commodity
exchange,” he said.

“Once you have a producer price, a floor price that is not equal or
consistent with import parity, you have got a problem. Our price this year
was US$285 per tonne, but people are bringing maize from Malawi and Zambia
at US$190 per tonne.”

Biti said the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) will only buy grain for strategic
reserves. GMB used to have a monopoly on the marketing of grains, but that
stopped in 2009.

The absence of a commodity exchange means that farmers are not getting value
for their produce.

The GMB has been failing to pay for grain delivered and is offering some
farmers inputs instead of cash as payment for their produce.
Zimbabwe does not have an operating commodity exchange. A commodity exchange
launched in January is still to take off nine months on.
Biti promised to ensure that the exchange is kept running to ensure fairness
in prices.

Over the years, farmers have waited for government support as they cannot
access the financing from financial institutions.
In addition to that, the GMB has been unable to pay for deliveries to the

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SundayOpinion: Open letter to Morgan Tsvangirai

Sunday, 16 October 2011 13:32

By Annanius Nzou

Mr Prime Minister, I would like to congratulate you for presiding over the
only party (MDC), which is known to have shown tenacity in dealing with the
intransigent Zanu PF. However, I think you do not mind an outsider
highlighting one or two things that your party seems to be overlooking,
which may unnecessarily cause more suffering among the people, in the coming

You and your party have been labelled stooges of the West. While I admire
your composure and ability to ignore such silly accusations, I feel it is
extremely important to keep telling the general public that it is actually
Zanu PF members who are the real stooges of the West. For instance, it may
be necessary to help people to appreciate that if MDC was a sell-out party,
the Wikileaks would by now have exposed all its underhand dealings with
America. It is actually Zanu PF  that has been caught with more revelations
in dealing with US, more than any other political party in this country. All
that is needed would be for those in the publicity department in your party
to actually get all the Wikileaks details concerning Zimbabwe and distribute
them as widely as possible, for people to know who the real sell-outs are in
this country. What incites violence against your party is the label that has
been stuck on it, suggesting its Western connection, to people like
Nyikayaramba and the ordinary peasantry.

After such publications, you would then need to provide your clear
manifesto, in preparation for the next general elections. People do not know
exactly what MDC stands for, other than that they seek to remove Zanu PF
from power. At least there should have been a document detailing MDC
policies on governance, showing how the MDC would have handled governance
issues without Zanu PF. It seems your party is too comfortable to be in the
inclusive government, which could be the reason why even the President also
said so. The security atmosphere may actually be better than was the case
before March 2008, considering that you are now in government. But your
party seems to be fast-asleep and oblivious to what Zanu PF is up to. Your
party should, instead, be using the advantage of ministerial portfolios to
campaign vigorously, for the next elections. This is the time that your
party should work harder than ever before, if the real change to democracy
is to materialise, instead of getting stuck in thinking about the loot.

There is a very strong possibility that this country may easily slide into
another Somalia. Would you, if that happened, still be comfortable with
blaming Zanu PF, instead of taking full responsibility, and ensuring that
people are not hoodwinked to pursue such sinister motives by a party whose
leadership is afraid of the consequences of losing in the next general

I am extremely disappointed by the lame excuses in your defence of the
purchase of the ministerial vehicles, at the expense of other more pressing
issues in the country. This includes your silence about publication of
corruption cases that have been levelled against MDC councillors, throughout
the country.

I do not think it is wise to take comfort in being Prime Minister, Ministers
or MPs and councillors in a government such as this one, at this stage.
Everyone knows that MDC does not have any say in what is going on in this
hopeless inclusive government arrangement. While the most reasonable minds
take it that the struggle for democracy is still on, the behaviour of your
ministers leaves a lot to be desired. The electorate wants to know why your
party seems to be losing focus and concentrating more on the ministerial
vehicles. Is the issue of driving posh vehicles the purpose of being in
government? If that is the case, why would you want to convince the
electorate that your party is different from the Zanu PF government?

You seem to be ignoring issues that may lead to your eventual downfall, Mr
Prime Minister. I do not think that where some of your people sight possible
shortcomings on your leadership, there would be a need to take offence.
Wisdom implies using criticism to correct shortcomings and grow. You may
actually not be the right person in the position of leadership, but wisdom
may even expect you to identify another suitable candidate while you step
aside, than clinging onto power and eventually causing more suffering among
innocent people in the end, as exemplified by Zanu PF. Kindly think more
about the suffering people out there and only consider your own welfare when
the democratisation process in this country would have at last been
Annanias Nzou is not the writer’s  real name

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