|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Ex-farm workers are in need of aid
JOHANNESBURG, 17 Oct 2003 (IRIN) -
Ex-farm workers make up the bulk of Zimbabwe's estimated 100,000 displaced
persons and are in need of assistance, the NGO, Refugees International (RI), has
The organisation added that while former commercial farm workers had been displaced by the government's land reform programme, some of the beneficiaries of the programme have also found themselves homeless.
"Refugees International visited rural areas in Zimbabwe and met with displaced persons. One group of 50 was living in a field without shelter. They were formerly landless people who had been resettled on an expropriated commercial farm three years ago. Thus, they had been beneficiaries of land reform. But three weeks before our visit, they were ordered off their land by government authorities and their houses were burned. They were told they would be given new land, but so far nothing had been done for them," the NGO alleged.
"Another group, encountered alongside a road, also reported that they had been told to leave their lands. In both cases a prominent government official desired their land. Many farmers had not prepared their land for planting in November: no seeds, they said, and no fertiliser and no gasoline for tractors. Survival tactics in the countryside include eating livestock, gold panning, poaching wild game, and - most importantly - receiving remittances from relatives working abroad," RI said.
Ex-farm workers reportedly faced continual harassment. "Many of them have been expelled from communities in which they have attempted to resettle. They are often, according to relief workers, excluded from lists of beneficiaries for food and other international assistance. Others have been re-employed by new owners of commercial farms, but farm wages have fallen," RI noted.
While most would agree that land reform in Zimbabwe was necessary - white farmers owned most of the good agricultural land in the country - "the way it was carried out has had a disastrous impact on agriculture, the backbone of the economy".
"Production has shrunk by more than 50 percent for important crops, such as corn and tobacco, and livestock have been decimated by disease and neglect. Agricultural inputs are in short supply for the upcoming planting season in November, even though forecasters predict that rains for agriculture will be adequate this year. The consequence will be a severe food shortage for 5 million Zimbabweans - nearly half the population - between now and the next harvest season in April 2004," RI noted.
The growing need for food was coinciding with a looming break in the World Food Programme's food aid pipeline in January, due to lack of funds.
Given the current situation, RI recommended that "donors come forward immediately with additional large pledges of food aid to Zimbabwe - to arrive in the country by January 2004 when the food shortage will be most critical".
Donors should also "consider additional programmes providing high-protein food, such as corn and soybeans - expensive and in short supply in Zimbabwe - to [people living with] HIV/AIDS. The HIV infection rate in Zimbabwe is about 30 percent, one of the highest in the world".
She has been brutally attacked by police, leaving her with heavy bruising and cuts on her face and body. She had called the police for assistance after being carjacked for the second time in 11 days. Instead of assisting her, the police then violently attacked her, in a police car and subsequently in Borrowdale police station. They accused her of being under the influence of alcohol, but made no attempt to breathalyse her. Following the beatings, no medical assistance was provided nor was she taken to hospital.
On learning of the attack, the IBA has immediately contacted Khembo Mohadi, Minister of Home Affairs, expressing our deep concern for her safety. We have asked that he investigate the attacks urgently and bring the perpetrators to justice. We have reminded him and his government of their obligations under international law (see below).
This is a further frightening development in the downward spiral of Zimbabwean institutions. We are absolutely outraged at this attack, and the further evidence it gives of the collapse of the rule of law. It is a particularly graphic demonstration of the role of the police in abetting the abandonment of law, instead of fulfilling their duty to offer people protection, and again it appears to be cynically targeted against those like Beatrice Mtetwa who show such deep commitment to protecting the legal rights of fellow Zimbabweans.
If you would like to contact the President of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Sternford Moyo, for comment, please phone him on:
Mobile: 263 11 600 854
Office: 263 4702 561
Extracts from the letter of 15 October of Emilio Cardenas, President of the IBA, to the Minister of Home Affairs, Zimbabwe:
The IBA is extremely concerned that Beatrice Mtetwa is being harassed as a result of carrying out her professional duties as a lawyer. The IBA would like to respectfully remind you of your obligation to under international law. Article 23 of the United Nations Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers states, "Lawyers, like other citizens are entitled to freedom of expression, belief, association and assembly." Similarly, Article 17 states that, "Where the security of lawyers is threatened as a result of discharging their functions, they shall be adequately safeguarded by the authorities."
Furthermore, the IBA would also like to remind you of your obligations under Article 16 of the UN Basic Principles on the Role of Lawyers, which states: "Governments shall ensure that lawyers (a) are able to perform all of their professional functions without intimidation, hindrance, harassment or improper interference; (b) are able to travel and to consult with their clients freely both within their own country and abroad; and (c) shall not suffer, or be threatened with, prosecution or administrative, economic or other sanctions for any action taken in accordance with recognised professional duties, standards and ethics."
Having become party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966), Zimbabwe has a duty to uphold the provisions of the Covenant and to not thwart its fundamental purposes. Article 19(2) of the Covenant states: "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice." We respectfully remind you that the ICCPR is recognised as a principle of customary international law.
The IBA is extremely concerned for the health and safety of lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa and shocked at her appalling treatment at the hands of the police. On behalf of the IBA, I respectfully request that you investigate the attacks against her immediately and bring the perpetrators to justice. I would appreciate to be informed about the outcome of your investigation. I also urge you to take necessary measures to ensure that such clear acts of intimidation against human rights defenders do not take place again. Thank you in advance for your cooperation.
Media Monitoring Project
Monday October 6th – Sunday October 12th 2003
Weekly Media Update 2003-40 CONTENTS:
1. GENERAL COMMENT
2. PANEL BEATING IMAGE
3. HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES
1. General Comment
The government controlled media’s monopoly of daily news output since the banning of The Daily News was again highlighted this week by the superficial and distorted nature of its coverage of the police crackdown on labour protests and the illegal detention of the South African High Commissioner to Zimbabwe by new farmers.
Zimbabweans no longer have any mass circulating daily alternative source of information and therefore cannot so easily assess the truth of events as reported in the government media.
But it needs no comparison to state that the accounts of both incidents in The Herald and on ZBC reflected only official opinion and reported vaguely on the two events. For example, the two media organizations played down the demonstrations by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, echoing police opinion that it was a “non-event”, virtually ignoring its nationwide nature and the brutality of the police. There was no accurate figure given to the number of arrests and no effort was made to obtain comment from the ZCTU. Needless to say, the subsequent threat to blockade Zimbabwe by the South African trade union movement if the arrested union leaders were not released was completely ignored. Such were the omissions and evasions by the government media that their coverage of the demos cannot be described as a journalistic exercise and gravely misinformed their audiences.
Only those with the privilege to access the private and international media (particularly SW Radio Africa and Studio 7) were able to obtain accounts closer to reality.
The public remained equally uninformed about the circumstances surrounding the detention of the South African High Commissioner, Jeremiah Ndou, by resettled farmers at a farm in Mashonaland West. The government-controlled media gave thin information on the issue and even tried to justify this lawless behaviour, which has characterised the land reform programme since farm invasions began three years ago.
In fact, ZBC distracted the attention of its audiences from such issues by bombarding them with excessive coverage of the Zimbabwe national soccer team’s preparations for their 2006 World Cup preliminary qualifying match against soccer lightweights Mauritania. For example, the government-controlled ZTV devoted about 52 minutes to soccer, or 40 percent of the total airtime allocated to 8pm bulletins (excluding arts, business, weather and, notably, sport segments) aired from October 7th to the 12th. The trend was similar on Radio Zimbabwe which carried 40 soccer related news items or 34 percent of the total number of news items monitored in the same period.
Such manipulation of a popular sport at the expense of other important news constitutes an abuse of the public broadcaster’s mandate and violates the public’s right to be informed. This sort of news coverage highlights the need for alternative sources of information and demonstrates how far Zimbabwe is from being a democratic society. 2. Panel beating the national image
The Commonwealth summit in Abuja, Nigeria in December has seemingly re-invigorated the international community’s interest in Zimbabwe. This was largely captured in the private media, whose reports revealed that the international community remained unimpressed with the governance of Zimbabwe and was calling for more pressure on the country’s leadership to force it to conform to basic democratic principles.
The government-controlled media overwhelmed such reports with their own characteristic rhetoric. Typical of this was the argument that Zimbabwe’s isolation would soon end because nations such as Italy and other EU and developing countries were at last beginning to realize that Britain was the main cause of its isolation. They thus superficially presented Zimbabwe as a victim of racial bigotry emanating from the White Commonwealth, particularly the Club’s secretary-general, Don McKinnon, whom they claimed was against the land reform programme.
In fact, SW Radio Africa (6/10) revealed government’s obsession with the notion that McKinnon was a major stumbling block to its readmission into the Commonwealth that it was rallying other Club members to reject his re-election bid when his term of office expires in December because of his alleged bias against Zimbabwe’s leadership. The station, quoting the London based Times, reported: “Zimbabwe and its allies have been working to have him replaced after his intervention earlier this year which led to Zimbabwe’s one-year suspension from the Commonwealth.”
The report added that Zimbabwe and its friends wanted to replace McKinnon with an Asian. A similar story under a misleading headline, McKinnon to be ousted at CHOGM, appeared in the Chronicle (7/10) the following day. The headline gave the impression that McKinnon was to be fired for allegedly demonizing Zimbabwe when in fact his term of office simply expires. Even the article itself highlighted this.
While the paper gave the impression that Zimbabwe’s campaign to have McKinnon ousted would succeed, The Zimbabwe Independent (10/10) gave an alternative view. The paper quoted New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff confirming that President Mugabe was leading a plan to oust McKinnon, but said, “There was no sign of support from other Commonwealth nations…I doubt that even were a candidate to emerge that they would have much credibility, being seen as the Mugabe candidate.”
Goff was quoted in another story in the paper saying that if Mugabe were invited to the summit, the Queen and the
Prime Ministers of Australia, Britain and New Zealand would not attend. According to Goff, Zimbabwe’s failure to abide by the Commonwealth’s key principles threatened “the glue that holds the Commonwealth together.” However, the paper failed to observe that such an opinion could be used to support Zimbabwe’s otherwise hysterical allegations that the country was a victim of British-manipulated racial vindictiveness. And the government media found plenty of evidence for this.
For example, The Herald and Chronicle (7/10) glowingly reported that Britain had failed to host the 110th International Parliamentary Union assembly next year because the union’s governing council voted against its decision to exclude Zimbabwe. According to the reports, which heavily relied on Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, all African and Caribbean countries, except Botswana, Canada, France and Belgium, among others, voted in support of Zimbabwe’s participation at next year’s meeting.
The papers’ obsession with tinting everything with racial bigotry also manifested itself in the way they derided Botswana for exercising its democratic right by voting alongside Britain. They alleged: “Botswana’s three representatives were reportedly jeered by fellow African countries and had to leave the assembly building in a huff, embarrassed by the outcome of the vote”. Chinamasa then claimed that, “the results showed the understanding by most countries of the correctness of the country’s position against that of Britain.” The comments of Italy’s Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Guiseppe Marchini Gamia, also came in handy in the government-controlled media’s efforts to circumvent Zimbabwe’s continued international isolation by presenting it as a bilateral matter between Italy and Britain. ZBC (8/10, 8pm) and The Herald (9/10) quoted Gamia as having said his country, which is the current chair of the EU, “would support all efforts aimed at opening dialogue with Zimbabwe”.
The fact that Gamia had primarily gone to Vice-President Joseph Msika to complain about the continued illegal occupation of properties owned by Italian nationals, some under government-to-government agreement, was given less prominence.
The Herald report quoted Msika criticising Italy for being coerced by Britain “to join the bandwagon of other EU countries to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe”. Taking a leaf from Msika, the Chronicle (10/10) observed: “The new European Union chair (Italy) is faced with a challenge of setting not just one record straight but several, since London has tried in the past to influence Brussels and even the French to ditch Zimbabwe.”
While the government-controlled media were at pains to convince its audiences that the international community was softening its stance towards Zimbabwe, The Financial Gazette (9/10) and The Business Tribune (9/10) revealed that their perception about the country was, in fact, worsening. In front-page articles the papers reported that according to Transparency International (TI) Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2003, Zimbabwe was now ranked as the third most corrupt country in the region and 106th out of 133 countries surveyed worldwide. The Sunday Mirror (12/10) also reported this. The Financial Gazette quoted TI as saying perceptions about a country are formed by “matters relating to political and civic participation, media operating environment, access to information, judicial independence (which is crucial to the enforcement of all rights and particularly property rights)”.
The Zimbabwe Independent (10/10) revealed that the international community’s displeasure with Mugabe was affecting food aid the country desperately needs for over five million hungry people. The paper reported that only the US, EU and Australia had donated a combined US$73 million of the US$308 million needed to feed people threatened by starvation because of “disgust with President Robert Mugabe’s government”. In fact, the paper also noted that Mugabe presented the findings of the latest Land Audit Report, which has yet to be made public locally, to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan “in a bid to convince the international community that reorganisation would take place on the farms to correct errors in the fast track land reform programme”.
However, the same paper (and Studio 7 & SW Radio Africa (9/10) also reported that Canada’s three largest political parties wanted President Mugabe tried for crimes against humanity. Studio 7 quoted Canadian MP Keith Martin as saying the call for indictment was as a result of a “state sponsored programme of murder, torture, violence, intimidation and an effort … to starve a good part of the Zimbabwean population to death, all instigated by Mugabe and his cronies”.
The government-controlled media ignored this development. 3. Human rights abuses
After closing The Daily News under the guise of upholding the rule of law, the government proved it still had not outgrown its violent nature in suppressing dissent when the police crushed the ZCTU labour demonstrations against the country’s economic chaos. The labour body was also protesting against the continued violations of human rights.
Although all media reported on the issue, it was only through The Financial Gazette (9/10), Studio 7, SW Radio Africa and the international media (9/10) that the public got to know of the alleged police brutality in crushing the protests. They reported that about 200 people, who included union leaders, were arrested countrywide during the protests. They also reported that some unionists and members of the public were assaulted, injured and admitted to hospital in Bulawayo, while others were denied medication. Studio 7 also highlighted that the police had actually picked up some union leaders from their homes the night before the demonstrations.
This kind of detail, exposing the heavy-handedness of the police was conveniently ignored in the government-controlled media, which sought to present the protests as a non-event and incident free. For example, the Chronicle (9/10), Workers ignore ZCTU demos, claimed that apart from the arrest of “two men” in Bulawayo, “the situation in the city was calm throughout the day, with business operating as usual”. This account differed from that of The Financial Gazette, which reported that the protesters had “running battles with the police” in Bulawayo.
Besides suffocating detail on the excesses of the police, The Herald (9/10) and its sister paper the Chronicle (9/10) also gave the impression that the demonstrations were only confined to Harare and Bulawayo and therefore downplayed the protest in other towns such as Mutare, Chiredzi and Chegutu. It is not surprising therefore that the papers and indeed ZTV (8/9, 8pm) only reported the arrest of 55 unionists in Harare and Bulawayo. ZTV even relegated news of this to the middle of its bulletin and merely allocated it a minute.
In fact, the unprofessional manner with which government-controlled media handled the issue was aptly demonstrated by The Herald (10/10) comment, Police action over demo laudable. Instead of viewing the police’s actions as epitomising the on-going gross violation of human rights perpetrated regularly on the citizenry through repressive laws such as POSA, the paper said, “thanks to quick thinking and swift action by police, dozens of people, including senior ZCTU officials, were arrested in Bulawayo and Harare… We commend the police for acting quickly and decisively to ensure public order and security and urge them to keep up the good work.” The comment dismissed the ZCTU’s concerns, including heavy taxation, and described reports of rights abuses as “generalisations”. It also made the ludicrous claim that the protests were staged to attract attention from the forthcoming Commonwealth summit.
It emerged that while The Herald was commending the police for upholding the rule of law, the police were themselves not clear what piece of legislation they were enforcing. For example, the police initially arrested 55 unionists in Harare and Bulawayo for violating POSA, but revised this a day later, reporting that they had been charged under the colonial Miscellaneous Offences Act, before releasing them (The Herald, 10/10). Although the paper reported the alteration of the charges, it did not see anything curious with such developments.
Further, the paper and its stable-mates ignored statements issued by both regional and international organisations condemning police actions. These were only accessed by the private media. For example, Studio 7 and SW Radio Africa (9/10) reported that regional and international labour groups such as the Confederation of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) had criticised the arrests of labour leaders and threatened to take action against the move.
Meanwhile, government claims that reports of anarchy and violence on farms were fabrications of the international media, received a knock following the harassment of the South African High Commissioner by overzealous beneficiaries of the chaotic land reform programme. This followed revelations by ZBC, (ZTV, 9/10) and 3FM (10/10, 6am) that South African High Commissioner to Zimbabwe Jeremiah Ndou had fallen victim to such lawlessness when resettled farmers held him hostage at a farm in Mashonaland West province.
The government-controlled broadcaster reported that Ndou was released after the intervention of the provincial governor, Peter Chanetsa. Without fully explaining the circumstances surrounding the issue, the station then tried to give excuses for the incident by claiming that Ndou had “arrived at the farm with an SABC crew which the farmers objected to as there have been a number of stage managed situations in Mashonaland West to portray lawlessness.” The station added that Ndou had not sought permission from the foreign affairs ministry to visit the area, as required by law.
The Herald (11/10) echoed this kind of justification in its follow-up report on the issue. Like ZBC, it also tried to downplay the incident saying the envoy was “briefly held” by resettled farmers at a formerly white-owned farm in Mashonaland West and “released without incident.” The paper merely said this happened after a “misunderstanding”, without elaborating.
The Standard (12/10), quoting SABC correspondent in Zimbabwe, Brian Hungwe, said Ndou and the news crew were held for two hours. It also reported that Ndou had gone to visit the farm as a result of an appeal by its owner, a South African national.
Ends. The MEDIA UPDATE was produced and circulated by the Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe, 15 Duthie Avenue, Alexandra Park, Harare, Tel/fax: 263 4 703702, E-mail: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Feel free to write to MMPZ. We may not able to respond to everything but we will look at each message. For previous MMPZ reports, and more information about the Project, please visit our website at http://www.mmpz.org.zw/
Mugabe's men in fight to the finish
By Chris Maroleng
The death on September 20 of
Zimbabwe Vice President Simon Muzenda, 81,
staunch ally of President Robert Mugabe and veteran nationalist, has
intensified the battle about who will succeed Mugabe. Muzenda's death has
prompted the various factions in the ruling Zanu PF party to begin competing
for the vacancy. It is widely believed that the appointment will indicate
who Mugabe prefers as his successor in the party and the government. More
ominous for Zanu PF, Muzenda's death has left a power vacuum in the deeply
divided southern Masvingo province where he acted as a stabilising force,
ensuring that infighting did not get out of hand.. His death has increased
the likelihood of the party splitting in this key province, as the two
competing factions contest the vacant leadership of Masvingo. Judging by
recent statements indicating his intention to retire, many observers
speculate that the president - aged 79 and the ruler of Zimbabwe for 23
years - plans to step down from office well before his six-year term ends in
2008. But he is an astute political strategist who will act cautiously when
he appoints a new Vice President because he will not want to reveal his
chosen successor too early in the game, as this could expose the successor
to challenges from party rivals. Some analysts have concluded that a
reluctance to reveal his choice and contradict his call for open debate on
the succession issue, means that the president will not fill the vacant
vice-presidential post too soon. Fortunately for Mugabe,the constitution
places no obligation on him to appoint a Vice President to replace Muzenda.
Even though the constitutional provision may yet prove a much-needed safety
valve for Mugabe to stave off a fierce behind-the-scenes succession battle
within Zanu PF, and one that has taken on an ethnic hue, conjecture still
surrounds who the top contenders are in the battle to fill Muzenda's post
and, ultimately, to succeed Mugabe.
Since Muzenda's death, John Nkomo (Zanu PF chairman and
minister of special
affairs),who now ranks third after Mugabe and Vice President Joseph Msika,
has been acting as Vice President. Although Nkomo would appear to be next in
line for the vice presidency,the 1987 National Unity Accord between formerly
hostile liberation movements Zanu and Zapu prevents him from doing so as PF
Zapu already has a presidium representative in the form of Msika. Moreover,
when the two belligerents signed the accord in the wake of a protracted
low-intensity civil war, a convention emerged that the two Vice Presidents
should come from the two wings of the party. This was seen as a means of
creating a political balance of power between the Shona and Ndebele from
which Zanu PF and PF Zapu derived, respectively, most of their support.
Largely propelled by Mugabe's decision to allow for an intra-party
succession debate, Zanu PF is now at the stage of intense elbowing, with
factions vying for power and influence, sometimes split along
ethno-linguistic and provincial lines. The dominant faction within Zanu PF
is currently led by Mugabe.It draws its core following from the Zezuru
ethno-linguistic group,one of the principal Chishona speakers. Other leaders
of this group include political heavyweights like retired Lieutenant-General
Tapfumanei Mujuru (nom de guerre: Rex Nhongo), who is considered by many to
be a potential kingmaker because of his extensive political, security and
commercial connections. Another important player in the Zezuru faction is
defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, seen by some as a strong presidential
contender partly because of his powerful voice in Zanu PF's upper echelons
and his strong connection to Mujuru. Most analysts predict that the latter
would support Sekeramayi in a race for succession to the presidency. But for
many in the Zezuru alliance, the Karanga group (yet another of the Chishona
ethnolinguistic groups) represents a threatening force.
This is particularly true of one of the Karanga factions
(there are two),
led by Edison Zvobgo. Within this faction, retired Air Marshal Josiah
Tungamirai, who challenged Muzenda for the nomination of the Gutu North
constituency in the 1995 election, most closely supports Zvobgo. The death
of Muzenda,who helped to quell division in the fractious Karanga group and
Masvingo province,has meant that the hard fought power struggles in this
volatile province are set to re-ignite unless the vacuum is filled quickly.
In this regard, there is widespread speculation that Zimbabwe Defence Force
chief, General Vitalis Zvinavashe, 60, a senior member of Muzenda's camp,
could retire in December to concentrate on his new political career as the
leader of the divided Masvingo province. But there are doubts that he has
what it takes to unify Zanu PF in the province and dislodge the opposition
MDC from urban Masvingo. Although Mugabe wants his ally at the hub of
Masvingo politics, party sources say Zvinavashe would meet stiff resistance
from the faction led by Zvogbo and Tungamirai. The other Karanga faction,
closely aligned with Mugabe's Zezuru group, was led by Muzenda and his
protégé Josaya Hungwe, the governor of Masvingo. Muzenda's death has left a
void in this group,which relied heavily on his political clout. Also a key
member of the group is Emmerson Mnangagwa,who is thought to be a key
contender for presidential succession because of his track record as
security minister and the high esteem in which Mugabe holds him. Should
Mugabe choose Mnangagwa (known in Zimbabwe as "the son of God" because of
his close relationship to Mugabe) the ruling party's delicate pecking order
could be destabilised because Mnangagwa would become John Nkomo's senior.
Over the years, Muzenda and Zvobgo clashed over the leadership of Masvingo.
Muzenda was said to be determined to ensure Mnangagwa took his place when he
retired. This was primarily because Mnangagwa's succession would keep
long-time rival Zvobgo out of the political centre and thus destroy his
chances of succeeding Mugabe.
Most analysts agree that
should Mugabe decide to step down, he will seek an
exit strategy allowing him to retire reasonably soon without fear of
prosecution and protected from revenge by his enemies. This exit strategy
ideally would require a successor whom Mugabe can trust and who has a
relatively constant history of loyalty to him. He would also have to have
the capacity to provide the protection Mugabe requires and be considered
politically astute enough to remain in power long after Mugabe has left. The
successor would also preferably come from the dominant Zezuru ethnic group,
as ethno-linguistic considerations seem to play an important part in
Zimbabwean politics. Currently,there seem to be two Zanu PF strong men who
lead the pack: Mnangagwa and Sekeramayi. But until Zanu PF's internal issues
are addressed, the likelihood for real change through negotiation is, at
best, slim and realistically improbable.
MDC goes ahead with poll petition
HOPES for a negotiated political settlement between the ruling Zanu PF and
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) faded yesterday after the
opposition said it would proceed with its court petition against President
Robert Mugabe's disputed re-election last year.
MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said his party was geared to proceeding
with the case which opens in the High Court on November 3.
The two parties have been talking behind the scenes since March in a bid to
strike a deal to break the current impasse.
"The March 2002 presidential election is in dispute and we as a party have
done a lot of work legally and politically to ensure the case sees the light
of day in court," Nyathi said. "Unless the date November 3 disappears from
the calendar the case will go ahead."
The MDC's renewed push for the court hearing came as Mugabe
met a new team
of church leaders led by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference's Bishop
Michael Basera on Wednesday at Zimbabwe House.
The meeting was aimed at convincing Mugabe to return to the negotiating
However, the court case will almost certainly
snuff out any prospects of a
political deal or a resumption of talks that collapsed last year in May. The
two parties last met informally on July 31.
The State has filed notice in the High Court to amend the
indictment in the
treason trial of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in a bid to secure a
conviction. The trial is set to resume on October 27.
two high-profile cases should raise the political temperature and could
wreck the fragile negotiating platform which the churches have tried to
Before the informal dialogue broke down, Zanu PF and the
MDC were edging
towards an agreement on fundamental issues such as Mugabe's legitimacy
crisis and constitutional reform.
The MDC's renewed
push for the election petition came as the bid to resume
talks by inter-party delegations collapsed in confusion.
Zanu PF now seems to have
abandoned the initiative after Mugabe was banned
from attending the Commonwealth meeting in Abuja, Nigeria, in December.
The MDC appears
exasperatedover the ruling party's failure totake measures
to create a conducive environment for talks illustrated by the closure of
the Daily News and arrest of ZCTU leaders.
Tsvangirai in July attended the opening
of parliament and opposition
officials were at the late Vice-President Simon Muzenda's funeral recently.
Nyathi confirmed this was designed to reduce political tension but Zanu PF
had not reciprocated, he said.
Parallel to this process, church leaders have been battling to
PF to get serious. Bishops Sebastian Bakare, Trevor Manhanga and Patrick
Mutume have been struggling to restart talks between the two parties. It is
hoped this week's meeting between Basera and Mugabe will give renewed
impetus to the church initiative.
Utete land report a giant damp squib
THE report of the committee tasked by President Mugabe to investigate
implementation of the land reform programme, details of which are published
in this paper today, is a giant damp squib.
It was to be hoped that the committee, chaired by former civil servant Dr
Charles Utete, would provide a thorough and professional account of the land
reform process with sensible conclusions as to what needs to be done to
extricate the country from the agricultural morass in which it now finds
itself. Instead we have a document that looks suspiciously like all the
other self-serving statements emanating from the Office of the President.
The overwhelming impact of the report is its complete disregard of, or
refusal to acknowledge, the reality on the ground, in terms of law and
order, multiple-farm ownership, and localised chefs and warlords.
Its parroting of the government’s line on foreign interference, its
distortion of the Abuja Agreement, and its refusal to accept any link
between the current economic collapse and the fast-track programme makes
pointless a potentially useful document.
Similarly, its failure to recognise legal action to prevent designation as
the constitutional right of any Zimbabwean citizen underlines its similarity
to government positions where any dissent regarding state policy is regarded
This is the document President Mugabe handed to UN Secretary-General Kofi
Annan in New York recently in the hope that the UNDP would become re-engaged
on the land issue and hopefully draw in donors.
That isn’t going to happen. The Utete report is a partisan and wholly
inadequate explanation of what remains this country’s single most costly
disaster since Gukurahundi in the 1980s.
Most depressing of all is that large parts of the report are dedicated to
the establishment of marketing, research and agricultural development
systems that have been systematically destroyed over the past two years.
There is only cursory reference to the decimation of wildlife, a valuable
national resource and forex earner. And the destruction of infrastructure
built over a century, including the theft of equipment, is given short
On Abuja it is suggested Britain committed itself to a significant financial
contribution and pledged to encourage other donors to do the same. The
report also disingenuously claims the drying up of foreign exchange inflows
was a direct product of the smart sanctions being imposed against Zimbabwe’s
What are the facts? All donors agreed at Abuja in September 2001 to assist
land reform if it was lawful, transparent, aimed at poverty alleviation, and
did not disrupt production. Selective editing of the Abuja terms in the
Utete report has made it look as if donors reneged on commitments made. The
agreement, we should remind ourselves, stipulated that “the orderly
implementation of land reform can only be meaningful and sustainable if
carried out with due regard to human rights, the rule of law, transparency
and democratic principles”.
The report omits to mention that none of these terms were adhered to by
The Zimbabwe government agreedat Abuja that there would be no further
occupation of farms. Yet invasions continued unabated, including on unlisted
and delisted farms.
The report concedes that Britain gave £40 million for land reform in the
period 1980-96 although it doesn’t document how this money was spent, and it
acknowledges that a further £36 million is awaiting disbursement if the UNDP
approves a viable land reform scheme.
The report notes that in correspondence with UNDP head Mark Malloch Brown,
Foreign minister Stan Mudenge made clear the government had chosen a
fast-track approach in preference to the systematic investment-backed
approach of the UNDP and donors.
The report is less than frank on multiple-farm ownership, touted by
President Mugabe as the committee’s primary focus. In a report of 300 pages
it gets a two-paragraph mention.
Thus the rotten core of Zanu PF’s land seizures remains surgically
unattended. Instead, we are told, a special government task-force will look
into the matter. Another will examine the fate of farms which are supposed
to be protected by country-to-country agreements. Again, this is not a
matter in which the law will prevail but one in which politics will
Nor will the Buka report, which provided examples of multiple ownership, see
the light of day on the grounds that it was only a preliminary document.
Perhaps the most revealing segment of an otherwise unrevealing report is the
bit that says fast-track followed the rejection of the draft constitution in
the 2000 referendum which, we are told, was “a result of the
British-influenced political opposition”.
“The rejection of the draft consti-tution strengthened the government’s
resolve to embark on an accelerated land reform programme,” the report
Leaving aside the clumsy language of Zanu PF propagandists, this looks
suspiciously like a confession that farm invasions were a punishment for
commercial farmers for supporting the MDC. Which is what President Mugabe
himself has often suggested, most recently in an SABC interview. In the
circumstances, any debate about who reneged on the Abuja Agreement is
academic. Where the agreement makes reference to the importance of the
Harare Declaration on democratic governance in resolving the Zimbabwe land
crisis, the government has demonstrated its contempt for the right of
citizens to support parties of their choice.
The Utete report therefore unwittingly provides a useful insight into the
delinquency of the political process behind land seizures. But it will not
impress donors or indeed anyone else in the international community who will
quickly see here a self-serving document that is more propaganda than
This newspaper has been proved correct in its report of September 12 that
less than 130 000 families have been resettled under the A1 model. The
figure is in fact 127 000. This contrasts with the 300 000 repeatedly
claimed by the government. At least the Utete report was able to shine some
light on that particular falsehood. Overall, however, the report is a lost
Buka findings buried
THE government has said the Buka land audit report will not be published,
raising fears its findings could have ruffled political feathers in Zanu PF
An annexure to the Utete review committee report, which was prepared by a
ministerial taskforce, revealed the government's desire not to publicise the
contents of the report. The annexure was meant to clarify government policy
on land reform and resettlement.
report will not be published," the ministerial team said, "as it
was a preliminary report and a working document for government within the
context of the implementation of the fast-track land resettlement
The preliminary report was compiled by a
team led by Minister of State for
Land Reform in the Vice-President's Office, Flora Buka. The report caused a
stir in government circles after it was allegedly leaked to international
media when government had not finished deliberating on it. Senior government
officials initially denied the existence of such a report.
The report named senior government
officials and their cronies as having
more than one farm despite government's claim that it was implementing a
one-man one-farm policy.
the Buka report has never been made public, the ministerial team
said the discrepancies highlighted in the report were being rectified.
material shortcomings of the resettlement programme highlighted in the
report are being corrected appropriately," the ministerial team said.
The team did not however, say how the problem would be rectified.
Observers have said the findings of the Buka report were
embarrassing for the government which may explain energetic attempts to
prevent its publication.
The Utete review committee
report does not contain names of multiple-farm
owners. The report said the issue was being dealt with by a special
Commonwealth to tackle Zim head-on
COMMONWEALTH secretary-general Don McKinnon says the Commonwealth Heads of
Government Meeting (Chogm) in Abuja, Nigeria, in December will confront the
Zimbabwe crisis head-on.
McKinnon said this week during his visit to Uganda and South Africa that the
Zimbabwe crisis would be tackled vigorously and decisively.
"We want to put the Zimbabwe issue
as the first one on the agenda so that we
can deal with it once and for all," McKinnon said. "The only way forward is
through constructive engagement and dialogue."
The Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group will hold a
meeting on the eve of
Chogm to discuss simmering flash points.
McKinnon said Chogm should ta-ckle Zimbabwe at its December
5/8 meeting as
it did the issue of Rhodesia during the special Commonwealth summit - the
first to be held outside London - in 1966 in Lagos, Nigeria. The Rhodesian
question plagued the Commonwealth after Ian Smith's Unilateral Declaration
of Independence in November 1965.
was there at the Lancaster House negotiations (in 1979).
It was there for the transitional elections in 1980 and cheered the loudest
at the formation of an independent Zimbabwe. It has helped Zimbabwe
steadfastly through the many challenges of nation-building in the years that
followed," he said.
"In 1991 the Commonwealth adopted its guiding principles on
in the form of the Harare Commonwealth Declaration. Nothing pains me more,
therefore, than to see the Commonwealth being deliberately misunderstood and
even vilified over the question of Zimbabwe."
McKinnon said the land issue was important and that is why
the club had
acknowledged it was at the core of the current crisis, together with other
He said the Commonwealth was
working hard, not to perpetually ban Zimbabwe
from the group but to make sure it bounced back. Harare was suspended from
the group last year in March over electoral fraud.
McKinnon said Zimbabwe had to address five key
issues before its suspension
could be lifted.
national reconciliation and dialogue; repealing of legislation
prejudicial to fundamental civil and political liberties; ending harassment
of opposition parties and civic groups; adopting recommendations of the
Commonwealth election observer group on electoral reforms; and engaging the
United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) on land.
"These are the issues which
touch on Zimbabwe's own adherence to the
Commonwealth principles famously named after its capital," he said.
"This approach is no different to
that adopted when dealing with Nigeria
between 1995-1999. But no one can say that there has been any change of
attitude in Zimbabwe in the past two years."
McKinnon said although Zimbabweans should resolve their
international community also has a role to play.
"We cannot remain silent when independent newspapers are shut
down, or when
demonstrating trade unionists are beaten up," he said. "Sadly, our overtures
have been spurned. President Robert Mugabe's government has chosen to keep
us at arm's length."
Citing South Africa as a
Commonwealth success story, McKinnon said it was
sad to see Zimbabwe, once a beacon of hope in Africa, deteriorating into an
He dismissed reports that the Commonwealth was divided over Zimbabwe.
"Zimbabwe is not, as is commonly perceived, an issue
dividing Africa from
the rest of the Commonwealth," McKinnon said. "There's not a single African
leader I spoke to that isn't deeply unhappy about Zimbabwe. No one wants
this crisis to just carry on forever. All African leaders want to see
reconciliation in Zimbabwe."
African leaders were actually more concerned about the
"I was talking to President Thabo Mbeki the other day and he
told me he has
three million Zimbabweans in South Africa, (Mozambique's President Joaquim)
Chissano has 400 000, while Botswana hosts up to 200 000 of them," he said.
Police assault Harare lawyer
HARARE lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa was severely assaulted by police at a police
station after surviving an attack by carjackers on Sunday.
It was the second carjacking attempt Mtetwa survived in a fortnight in
Harare. The assault on Mtetwa has provoked widespread condemnation.
The International Bar
Association (IBA) on Wednesday wrote to Police
Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, the office of the Attorney-General, and to
Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi to register its concern.
The Law Society of Zimbabwe
said: "All is lost when lawlessness enters
Lawyers have said the development confirms the downward
spiral of the
country's institutions of law enforcement and the collapse of the rule of
In a statement Mtetwa said she was driving home
on Sunday night when a Mazda
vehicle overtook her and then stopped in front of her, forcing her car into
a ditch. The occupants of the Mazda jumped out and demanded her car keys, a
cell phone and some cash, which she gave them.
The carjackers fled as people from neighbouring houses rushed
to the scene.
Mtetwa said police officers who attended the scene recognised her and
accused her of being drunk.
"I was told that I
was being taken to Central Police Station for a
breathalyser test," she said.
"The police were not concerned about my motor vehicle or my
fate and I
protested at this behaviour and was recording names and offices of all those
officers I came into contact with and threatened to report them to the
Commissioner. This seemed to incense one of the police details, the one I
later learnt is Mutumwa and he started his assault on me."
Mtetwa added that no breathlyser test was done, and no statement
recorded at the Central Police Station. She said Mutumwa instead continued
assaulting her and ordered her back into the police vehicle, which headed
for Borrowdale Police Station. Mtetwa says the assault continued in the
vehicle and at Borrowdale Police Station.
She says Mutumwa
continued to assault her in the charge office at Borrowdale
Police Station and she sustained injuries to the head, face, arms, back and
After leaving the police station she was treated at
the Trauma Centre in
Harare. On Tuesday she lodged a complaint with the Officer in Charge at
Borrowdale Police Station, who allocated the case for investigation.
The incident has shocked the legal fraternity at home
and abroad as it comes
after the assault on Daily News lawyer Gugulethu Moyo by Jocelyn Chiwenga in
June - also at a police station.
has asked the police to investigate the assault and bring the
perpetrators to justice.
"The IBA is extremely concerned for the health and safety of
Mtetwa and shocked at her appalling treatment at the hands of the police,"
IBA president Ambassador Emilio Cardenas said in the letter to Chihuri.
"On behalf of the IBA, I request that you investigate the
her and bring the perpetrators to justice. I would appreciate to be informed
about the outcome of your investigations," he said.
"The conclusion that Mrs Mtetwa was attacked because she is a
defender is irresistible," Law Society president Sternford Moyo said in a
"Attacks on legal practitioners are inimical
and indeed repugnant to the
interests of the public and the administration of justice," said Moyo.
"The council of the Law Society condemns the
fact that despite the assaults
on members of the society taking place as far back as three years ago, most
of the relevant offenders have not been brought to justice.
"This does not inspire confidence in the professionalism
and commitment of
those whose duty it is to ensure law enforcement," he said. - Staff Writer.
ANZ case opens
THE Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ)'s court case against the Media
and Information Commission (MIC)'s refusal to register it as a mass media
service opened in the Administrative Court yesterday.
MIC chair Tafataona Mahoso was cross-examined over his commission's
rejection of the ANZ application for a licence on the grounds that the media
group had contravened a section of the Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act by initially refusing to register.
ANZ lawyers want the Administrative Court to order "a
of, and fresh determination on, the merits of the matter with or without
additional evidence or information".
want the court to "exercise its wide powers of appeal, hear the
relevant evidence, grant the application and direct that the respondent
(MIC) issue the appellant (ANZ) with a certificate of registration
ANZ lawyers say it was wrong for the MIC
to refuse to register the group
claiming that it had contravened the law when it had not been charged,
convicted or sentenced by a criminal court. They say this was a "lame
Hearing in the case continues today.
Train services grounded
THE cash-strapped National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ) has suspended
inter-city passenger train services with immediate effect due to an acute
shortage of diesel.
The affected inter-city services are the Bulawayo-Harare, Bulawayo-Victoria
Falls and the Bulawayo-Chiredzi routes while urban commuter "Freedom Trains"
are also under threat.
The NRZ confirmed in a
statement on Wednesday that the inter-city train
services have been interrupted as a result of the parastatal's failure to
source fuel from the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim).
The suspension of the
train services on Monday left thousands of people
stranded as the parastatal struggled to secure fuel from Noczim.
An official from the NRZ who
declined to be named said urban commuter trains
were also likely to be affected in the coming weeks if the NRZ failed to
source fuel from other quarters as a matter of urgency.
"As it is, the NRZ has enough fuel
to last for only one week for 'Freedom
Trains' but more is needed to revive the suspended services and to maintain
current 'Freedom Train' schedules," said the official.
Companies likely to be hardest hit by the
suspension of services are Zisco
and Wankie Colliery.
Zanu PF fiddles while country burns
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's ruling Zanu PF is locked in a bruising succession
struggle while the economy ominously heads towards collapse, a South African
research institute says.
In its latest report on Zimbabwe, the Pretoria-based Institute of Security
Studies says Zanu PF is preoccupied with succession politics following
Vice-President Simon Muzenda's death at the expense of the country's already
battered economy. It says the ruling elite is fiddling whilst the country
politicians fiddle around as the flames that engulf Zimbabwe grow
in intensity, the glaring reality of Zimbabwe's economic collapse is there
for all to see," the report says. "The economic gains and expanding social
services of the 1980s have been thrown into reverse."
report, quoting Zimbabwean economist John Robertson, says the economy
has shrunk by over 19% over the past year, and the gulf widens daily between
the official exchange rate (US$1 to $824) and the parallel market (US$1 to
Economic output has declined by 19,3% over the past three years
and 11,9% in
2002. The manufacturing sector declined by 17,2% last year, while mining
shrank by 7,1% with gold production plunging by 18%.
Inflation - Zimbabwe's most serious problem at the moment - is
and is expected to surge towards 1 000% in the next couple of months.
Africa's annual inflation average is 12,6%.
"The effect of
these factors together with the acceleration of company
closures, and the worsening of countrywide fuel shortages clearly indicate
that Zimbabwe's economy is now in a shambolic state from which recovery will
be arduous if not impossible," the report says.
"Inflation is too high. The Reserve
Bank cannot keep up with the volume of
cash as a result of price hikes. Bread sells for more than $1 000 a loaf,
and beef and maize for $7 000 and $300 a kilogramme respectively. When
available, fuel sells on the black market for $2 000 to $2 600 a litre."
The reports says Mugabe's ill-executed
agrarian reform programme has as yet
been unable to create a new self-sufficient class of small-scale farmers to
fill the vacuum left by evicted white farmers.
It says the controversial land grab has also resulted in the undermining of
commercial farming in the country, which in the past was the bedrock of the
"Production estimates for
key crops for 2004 are forecast to be sharply
down, which has also affected Zimbabwe's formerly robust agro-manufacturing
industry," the report says.
"The prevailing drought conditions in Zimbabwe forecast to
endure well into
the next agricultural season, together with the negative effects of the land
redistribution programme, have resulted in a severe food crisis."
The report says this has been worsened by government's
failure to secure
alternative financiers to replace vital frozen donor aid.
"It is almost certain that the rapid decline of Zimbabwe's economic fortunes
will motivate and push progressive forces within the governing party to
pursue an exit strategy for the aging Zimbabwean president," it says.
"Faced with the collapse of the economy and Mugabe's alleged
departure from power, top Zanu PF officials, who have a great personal
interest in the Zimbabwean economy, may have begun to reconsider their
allegiance to the veteran president."
Chefs protest hunting ban in Gwayi
HUNTING has been banned in the Gwayi Valley Conservancy to stem the plunder
of wildlife amidst protests by ranch owners many of whom hold influential
positions in the ruling party, the Zimbabwe Independent has heard.
The ban on all hunting of game in the area was made by National Parks and
Wildlife Management Authority director-general, Morris Mutsambiwa, last
It comes amidst concerns from conservancy organisations
over the rampant
plunder of wildlife that includes lions and over 300 elephants protected
under a Presidential decree of 1990.
National Parks directive has met with stiff resistance from safari
owners in the area. The operators have already written a letter to the
Minister of Environment and Tourism, Francis Nhema, complaining bitterly
about the ban.
"It is important to note that resettled farmers did not empower
arbitrarily to carry out sport hunting, they were empowered by National
Parks under SI 26/1998," says the letter. "Similarities between what is
attributed to your office and negative stories doing the rounds on the
Internet are of a disturbing nature," it says.
"The sources of the negative stories are the former white landowners and
they seem to be getting collaboration from your office. Whose interests are
The ban on hunting leaves photographic safaris and game
viewing as the only
activities permitted in the area.
Valley Conservancy borders the Hwange National Park and safari
ranches in the area have been allocated to new farmers under the
government's A2 model.
A list supplied to the Independent with names of A2
beneficiaries in the
area indicates that most of them have links toZanu PF. Theyinclude
theparty's cent-ral committee member AliceNkomo in Lot 3 Dete Valley, the
party's provincial chairman for Matabeleland North, Jacob Mudenda in Sekumi
Estates, Zimbabwe's high commissioner to Zambia Cain Matema in a sub-section
of Lot 3 Dete Valley, and ZBC reporter Prisca Utete who acquired part of
Dr Christopher Zishiri, chief ve-terinary
officer in Matabeleland North, got
Karna Block East. Therest of the beneficiaries are traditional chiefs who
include Chief Mabikwa and Chief Joseph Dingani.
A company registered as Eternity Trading, whose
director is listed as J
Moyo, runs Lot 2 Dete Valley.
Conservancy Trust has also named Matabeleland North governor
Obert Mpofu, in one of its reports, as one of the beneficiaries licensed to
conduct hunts in the area.
According to a small-scale safari operator in the area, the
cease all hunting in the area has incensed the "new farmers", some of whom
are said to be operating with fake hunting quotas.
Hunting quotas are issued at the beginning of each hunting
outline the type and number of animals a safari operator can hunt in a
"There has been systematic hunting using fake
quotas and in some instances,
some of the quotas signed by National Parks were blank while some of the
quotas had no client information and in some instances some quotas do not
state on what farm the hunt was taking place," said a conservationist
monitoring the region.
Bid to deport conservationist Rodrigues foiled
GOVERNMENT last week failed in its bid to deport Zimbabwe Conservation Task
Force (ZCTF) chairman Johnny Rodrigues who has been active in exposing the
involvement of high-ranking government officials in the illegal slaughter of
"I have been trying to put a stop to the indiscriminate slaughter of our
wildlife and this has involved exposure of top government officials who are
poaching wildlife for monetary gain," Rodrigues said.
Rodrigues this week said suspected Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO)
officers started looking for him when he was at the recent Tiger fishing
tournament in Kariba.
he received a phone call on Monday from the Department of
Immigration asking him to come to their offices with his passport.
He then sought the
services of a lawyer, Jonathan Samkange of Byron
Venturas, to accompany him to the immigration offices.
Samkange instead phoned an officer
identified only as Mugugu to say his
client would not be complying with the order to visit the immigration
Mugugu claimed Rodrigues had dual citizenship and he intended to stamp
"prohibited immigrant" in his passport and deport him.
Rodrigues says Samkange then phoned former
Minister of Lands and
Agriculture, Kumbirai Kangai, who came to Samkange's offices.
Kangai and Samkange told Rodrigues, he says, to carry on doing what he was
doing because they did not condone what some Zanu PF officials were doing
and said they needed someone like him to expose them.
Rodrigues says Samkange wrote a letter to the immigration
sent copies to the President's Office, Vice-President Joseph Msika, Police
Commissioner Augustine Chihuri, Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede and the
Rodrigues' deportation would be
unlawful because he holds a Zimbabwean
passport and has lived in Zimbabwe since 1954.
Kanengoni's faith in conflict with facts
By Magari Mandebvu
IT is not surprising that Alexander Kanengoni in his article "Who
silenced the Daily News?" (Independent, October 10) remains the voice of a
Zanu PF faithful in the independent press. I, too, was for a long time a
fervent fan of Robert Mugabe and I know how breaking with the political love
of one's life can be as painful as a divorce in marriage. So I don't blame
him for his position, but we must acknowledge that what we get from him will
be the true faith of the old-time Zanu PF stalwarts. Unfortunately, the true
faithful, like Kanengoni, seem unable to admit when their faith conflicts
with the facts.
In his article, Kanengoni misinterprets the rejection of the
government's constitutional proposals. The issue is not Robert Mugabe or
Zanu PF, but the structures of power. A change of government without
essential constitutional changes would leave the new government with as much
power, and the same temptation to misuse it, as Zanu PF, and we don't want
Modern politics tend to
encourage politicians who have an excessive
love of power: they need it to win. Therefore I wouldn't trust a four-times
winner like Mugabe and his party with the power our present constitution
gives them. I wouldn't trust his favourite enemy Tony Blair with 20 years in
power and I wouldn't trust George W Bush (or his cleverer backers) not to
rig the next US presidential election, just as they rigged the last one. I
wouldn't trust that very pleasant man Morgan Tsvangirai with the powers
Mugabe now holds. That would be too much of a temptation for anyone. The
voters showed in the referendum that they have learned that we must frame
our own constitution to ensure that the people we vote for remain, as far as
possible, answerable to us.
Voters showed they don't want government concessions that
give us an
executive president or a prime minister appointed by the president, but a
prime minister who is head of the government and answerable to parliament.
Twenty-five percent of the seats in parliament
filled by "proportional
representation" but 100% filled by some form of proportional representation,
which could mean a system that counts the voters' second and further
preferences, as is done in Ireland, Australia and Malta. What was offered
would have given a party that won 45% of the vote and no constituency seats
only 45% of the remaining 25%, ie just over 10% of the seats, while in the
German system, such a party would end up with 45% of the seats. We wanted
democracy, which means the fairest representation of the people's wishes
that fallible human systems can provide.
Voters rejected the government's proposals because after they had
consulted, their wishes on these points were disregarded.
As for the answer to his main question, "Who closed the Daily News?"
the first answer is the police using the pretext of a law that is still
under challenge because it appears to deny us certain fundamental rights
enshrined in even our present imperfect constitution, and then by removing
the paper's computers and refusing to return them when so ordered by the
courts. They must bear responsibility for the closure.
Kanengoni's argument seems to be that the Daily News provoked the
unconstitutional and illegal way it was closed. That doesn't justify
unconstitutional and illegal action by the forces who are supposed to
support the law and the constitution.
His argument is even weaker when we see that it
relies on factual
inaccuracies. The Daily News never called on outsiders to impose sanctions
on the people. If by "us" Kanengoni means Zanu PF and its closest
supporters, that is another matter. The only sanctions that have been
imposed have been carefully targeted at the leadership of Zanu PF. I don't
suffer any loss if our president and his good lady cannot go shopping in
Paris and London.
I wouldn't even suffer if Bishop
Kunonga could not go to a church
conference in Canterbury. I don't suffer because those hateful British make
a visa so expensive that I can't go shopping in London. I can't spare any
tears for anyone else who can afford the airfare and the visa, but won't be
given a visa. Until a very few years ago, none of us had much difficulty
buying what we really needed here in our own beautiful, productive Zimbabwe.
I do suffer because the country can no longer produce enough maize seed to
feed us all even if the coming rainy season is good. We all know that we
can't blame Tony Blair for the shortage of seed, and we know who we can
Now, I am aware that
anyone who falls out of love, as I did with Zanu
PF some time ago, runs the risk of turning his love into hate, but on
re-reading what I have just written I can only see facts that contradict
Kanengoni's true faith. When that happens, those facts need to be taken
seriously, which means the faith must be re-examined.
I agree entirely with Kanengoni that we
need Zimbabweans to sit down
and talk sensibly without prejudice or preconditions about our present
difficulties in order to solve them. I admit the implication in his argument
that we have some citizens, and some vocal ones, who, when they fell out of
love with Zanu PF, found the easiest way to live with the divorce was to
turn their love into hate. But are those people the only ones who are
dissatisfied with our present situation, or our present political
leadership? Who broke off the latest attempt by concerned leaders of our
churches to bring the two parties together round the conference table? The
Daily News? The MDC? Or someone else?
I could remember a
few more facts and ask more questions:
Which party had some 20 000 civilians killed in trying to suppress a
very small group of dissidents in Matabeleland in the early 1980s?
Which party committed
itself for may years to creating a one-party
state in Zimbabwe?
Magari Mandebvu writes from Hatfield in Harare.
AMA revival: another Made disaster looms
AGRICULTURE minister Joseph Made is never short of plans to wreck the
agricultural sector. The agriculturalist who is credited with the uncanny
accolade of authoring the country’s hunger, last week unveiled plans to
revive the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) and take over the
marketing of tobacco.
Made’s list of casualities in agriculture is growing and his move against
tobacco should see the industry, once the envy of tobacco growing nations,
going up in smoke. His misdirected policies have already damaged grain
production, ravaged eco-tourism and reduced production in the horticultural
sector. Zimbabwe is no longer a key grain producer in the region and the
country is set to lose its position as a world leader in the production of
The AMA, a relic of the Rhodesian government was established in 1967 and was
adopted by the new Zimbabwe government in 1980 to suit its command economy.
The government wants to bring back this remnant of regulation to justify its
pro-poor agrarian policy, which is yet to make an impact on economic
empowerment of the peasantry.
Made was last Friday quoted in the government press as saying the revival of
the AMA would help resettled farmers to adequately finance crop production
and also help them to market produce “to the best possible advantage”.
The Agriculture minister said the current auction system used in buying
tobacco from farmers did not meet the requirements of small-scale growers
who were now the main producers after the demise of large-scale commercial
agriculture. Made is proposing a contract system in which the government
fixes the producer price of tobacco while becoming the sole buyer of the
“There is indeed nothing wrong with this as it has happened elsewhere in the
world,” Made was quoted as saying. “We cannot stand idly (by) when the
auction principle has virtually become non-existent, with buyers acting like
But as has been the case with his agrarian reforms since 2000, the
revolutionary change in the crop marketing policy is bound to fail and with
disastrous effects on the country’s sophisticated tobacco industry.
Tobacco and horticultural produce, with their complex marketing systems have
generally remained out of government’s clutches. In the mid-1990s they
realised immense growth at a time when other crops were witnessing decline.
Zimbabwe has since grown into a country with one of the most sophisticated
tobacco industries in the world, which matched its status as a major
producer of the crop.
But the lustre of the golden leaf has in the past two years waned as a
direct result of government’s exchange control regulations which have made
the crop unprofitable.
The current preferential rate of US$1:$824 for tobacco farmers has remained
a source of irritation for producers who want an upward revision of the rate
to match ever-rising production costs.
As the rate remains depressed, farmers have realised lower earnings, which
Made has conveniently blamed on the tobacco floors.
Made believes centralised marketing of crops through the AMA is the panacea
to the pricing woes. While he sees nothing wrong with his envisaged new
pricing formula, history should remind him that the AMA was disbanded after
it became a huge drain on state funds.
The AMA’s single-channel marketing system operated by the marketing board
before it was disbanded in 1994, was designed to guarantee state procurement
and disposal of surplus production. The effective control of prices by
government required suppression of uncontrolled private trading that would
interfere with the aims of the official marketing system.
The AMA achieved this by mandating a state monopoly on cross-border trade.
It prohibited private movement of controlled products across district or
zonal boundaries and ensured the preferential supply of grain to a select
group of ‘vertically integrated’ industrial processing firms.
The system saw government marketing crops through four parastatals: the
Grain Marketing Board (GMB), the Cotton Marketing Board (CMB), the Dairy
Marketing Board (DMB) and the Cold Storage Commission (CSC). The government
through the AMA believed then that controlling producer prices would improve
resource allocation, promote self-sufficiency in food production, reduce
price and income instability, and retain expertise and capital within the
The AMA ensured that producer and selling prices for controlled commodities
were fixed by government following recommendations by the Ministry of
Agriculture and negotiations with producers. Cost-plus pricing was the main
method used to arrive at the price. However, the final price was derived
from interrelated factors that were weighted individually according to the
commodity in question.
But this came at an immense cost to the economy. The deficit of the four
marketing boards under the control of the AMA amounted to 51% of government
expenditure on agriculture and between 3% and 6% of total government
spending in the mid-1980s. The drain on the national purse was a major
factor encouraging the adoption of market-driven agricultural reforms in
The system of deciding on producers prices was labourious and bureaucratic
while government subsidies failed to match the financial requirements of the
agro-parastatals. The results of this were obvious. The boards soon found
themselves in huge debt and at one time the GMB failed to pay farmers for
maize delivered to the depots. The solution was to commercialise the
Reform of the marketing boards began in 1990 with the ultimate aim of full
commercialisation with CMB forming Cottco and DMB forming Dairibord, which
were both subsequently, listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
The government then attempted to withdraw from direct price intervention to
give GMB and CSC a measure of autonomy but this withdrawal was soon
reversed, especially in the maize sector.
Although the government said it was commercialising the CSC to form the Cold
Storage Company nothing tangible has happened beyond the change of name. The
company is still debt-ridden and has been forced to close its abattoirs.
The GMB is also labouring under debt, which has continued to grow mainly due
to unrealistic pricing decided by the government.
Last year Made ordered the GMB to buy maize from farmers at $130 000 a tonne
and sell to millers at $9 600 a tonne. This not only worsened government’s
debt and cut deliveries to the GMB, it also fuelled the black market maize
The quest to make the government through the AMA the sole buyer of tobacco,
analysts say, could see the illegal trade of the crop across the border to
countries operating the floor system. Unconfirmed reports say there was
already illegal trafficking of tobacco through Beitbridge to South Africa
where farmers secure better prices.
The announcement by Made last week is not surprising as the government under
the current land reform policy has already adopted the old AMA measures in
the marketing of crops.
During the AMA era government announced producer prices before season’s
planting. This it believed would boost producer incentives as it reduced
risk and uncertainty and enabled farmers to make decisions based on relative
The government at the time also announced uniform pre-harvest and
post-harvest prices, which benefited farmers in outlying areas at the
expense of those close to the market.
These measures have already become the hallmark of the grain trade since the
government introduced measures to control the trade two years ago.
Agricultural experts said the pre-planting pricing regime and
pan-territorial prices policy did not make sense in the prevailing
hyper-inflationary environment. The system only works effectively when
farmers have the requisite inputs. Currently the government input scheme has
not been translated into productivity due to lack of funding and poor
logistics. Farmers using their own resources to acquire inputs have been
forced to sell their produce to government albeit at a loss.
Making the poor even poorer through taxes
LAST week this column addressed the need for the forthcoming 2004 national
budget to contain realistic prioritisation of state expenditure. Priority
must be given to the country’s most pronounced needs, foremost of which are
health, social welfare, education, and facilitation of economic recovery and
growth, concurrently with an overdue incentivisation and enablement of
wide-ranging indigenous economic empowerment through new enterprise
As important as responsible expenditure budgeting and implementation of
sound fiscal management policies are, it is of at least equal importance
that the 2004 budget addresses some very long overdue revisions of Zimbabwe’
s taxation regime. It is inevitable that government will have to source
significantly greater revenues in the year ahead than previously, for the
combination of inflation, soaring currency exchange rates (even if only on
the parallel market, whereas a responsible government would refrain from
holding official exchange rates at unrealistic levels), and critical
expenditure needs, necessitate that government generates very considerable
But in seeking to obtain those increased revenues, government must not
intensify the immense hardships which afflict much of the population, and it
must ensure taxation policies and measures are just and equitable, and
realistically interactive with the distressed socio-economic environment.
The first and most critical issue that the Minister of Finance and Economic
Development, Herbert Murerwa, must resolve is the unacceptable position that
government is applying direct taxes upon the minimal incomes of many of
Zimbabwe’s extremely poor. Whilst the poverty datum line (PDL) now exceeds
$90 000 per month, and a basic spending basket for a family of six,
exclusive of any luxuries and non-essentials, exceeds $220 000 per month,
Zimbabwe demands income tax from anyone whose monthly income is greater than
$15 000! How can anyone justify taxing incomes which are way below the PDL?
Based upon the cost of a basic basket of family requirements, and working
upon the assumption — not necessarily valid — that both spouses are income
earners, no monthly income below $110 000 should be subject to income tax.
Moreover, once the niggardly tax threshold of $15 000 per month has been
passed, the tax bands which dictate the rates of tax rise very rapidly. In
monthly terms, the present scale of rates of income tax provides for zero
tax on income of less than $15 000, whilst income in excess of that amount,
and less than $21 666,67 is taxed at a rate of 20%. If the income is greater
than that, but less than $28 333,33, the rate on the excess is 25%. Once the
income exceeds that amount, the rate increases to 30% on the excess, up to
$35 000 per month. Then the rate rises to 35% on income greater than $35 000
and less than $41 666,67.
Thereafter a rate of 40% is applied to any additional income up to $125 000
per month, and all further income attracts a massive rate of 45%. So,
persons earning income below the PDL pay taxes at rates ranging from 20% to
up to 40% of their inadequate income. Even those fortunate enough to be
earning above the PDL, but not sufficient to fund a basic basket of monthly
needs, are paying income tax at rates of up to 40% of their income. For
many, that tax then pushes their net income to below the PDL, whilst many
others already struggling to survive below the PDL are reduced to
Although government must necessarily exact taxes from the populace to meet
the very considerable expenditures which it must incur, there can be no
justification for doing so by afflicting those reduced to a hand-to-mouth
existence. Balancing government needs against the fundamental principles of
humanitarianism and social consciousness is extraordinarily difficult but,
at the very least, the tax threshold should be raised to a level that
equates with the PDL. Allowing for continuing inflation in the months ahead,
the absolute minimum level for the individual’s income tax threshold should
be $120 000 per month, equating to $1 440 000 per annum. For the next $50
000 per month ($600 000 per annum), the rate of tax should, at most, be 10%,
for even with such an increase in the tax threshold and lowering of the tax
rate in the first band, the taxpayer’s net after-tax income will still be
less than half of a basic consumer spending basket, necessitating that the
taxpayer’s spouse be earning a like income in order that the family can
sustain itself. After effecting these adjustments, the minister must then
make consequential and appropriate adjustments to the other tax bands.
However, it is also necessary that the minister radically reviews income tax
credits, for the impact of inflation of well over 400% in the past year has
rendered the existing credits almost meaningless. The elderly person credit
is a parsimonious $20 000, which does not even cover two loaves of bread a
month. Many of Zimbabwe’s aged are in desperate straits. Pensions which were
considered adequate only a few years ago have had their purchasing power
eroded by hyperinflation to such an extent that pensioners are reduced to
selling their beds, their clothing and other personal effects to live
another month. Similarly, many aged who were able to retire from decades of
hard work with expectations of a reasonable livelihood from income on
accumulated savings now find that the interest they earn is so far below the
rate of inflation that they have only been able to survive by using capital,
progressively rendering them penniless.
At the very least, the elderly person’s credit must be raised to $100 000,
although even that amount will still be inadequate.
The same applies to the credits for blind, mentally and physically
handicapped persons, who currently receive a credit of $20 000, whilst they
should receive one of at least $100 000. And the minister should consider
changing the credit granted in respect of medical expenses and medical
appliances, and for medical aid contributions, all of which qualify for only
50% of amounts expended. As almost all medications and appliances have an
extensive import-content, the upsurge in parallel market exchange rates have
radically escalated their costs, which are further inflated by the Zimbabwe
hyperinflation, which has also radically increased the costs of health care
The ill and the infirm have also suffered the introduction of “co-payments”,
in terms of which a portion of the charges for health care must be paid by
the patient instead of by that patient’s medical aid society. For all but
the very wealthy, costs of medical care have risen to a prohibitive degree,
resulting in many reluctantly not having recourse to such care and instead
reconciling themselves to continuing ill-health and potentially accelerated
death. In such a situation, the least that government should do is to allow
an income tax credit equal to 100% of the amounts expended on medical
expenses and appliances.
Another taxation issue that requires review as a result of inflation is the
iniquitous capital gains tax, which should actually be totally repealed.
There are very few instances when taxpayers are realising any substantial
capital gain. In practice, in almost every case, the so-called gain is
actually only a numeric appreciation due to inflation and, therefore,
capital gains tax is actually an inflation tax. As it is highly improbable
that government will repeal the Capital Gains Tax Act, even though it
should, the fiscus should rise to the occasion by introducing
inflation-indexing, as has very successfully been done in a number of
countries. With great magnanimity, the annual allowance for capital gains
tax purposes was increased in January, from 30% of cost to 50%, but
inflation in 1999 was 58,5%, in 2000 was 55,9%, in 2001 was 71,9%, in 2002
was 198,9%, and is now running at almost 500%. Thus, an allowance of 50% per
annum is grossly deficient and can only be described as miserly, stingy and
In like manner, as long as government persists with Death Duties (in the
main assessed on assets acquired from income already subjected to tax, and
therefore in practice being a form of double taxation), it is urgently
necessary that the rebate levels be markedly increased. When the
non-dutiable levels were raised last year to $5 million in the case of
decease without leaving a surviving spouse or minor children, and to $10
million in instances of a surviving spouse or minor children, those levels
may have seemed reasonably generous, but that is no longer the case.
Effectively, those levels currently equate to approximately $1 million and
$2 million respectively. Equity suggests that such non-dutiable levels need
to be at least $25 million and $50 million respectively, in recognition of
the extent of inflation in the last year.
There are many other provisions of Zimbabwe’s tax legislation which must be
modified to accord recognition to the massive inflation of the past year,
and the undoubted continuing high inflation in the year ahead. If the
minister recognises the straitened circumstances of most Zimbabweans, he
will give due recognition to the impact of inflation, irrespective of the
repercussive effects upon revenue collection. Those effects must be
countered by privatisation of parastatals, containment of corruption, strong
fiscal management and expenditure controls, and indirect taxes on
Welcome to the club Comrade Ndou
MUCKRAKER would like to welcome South African High Commissioner Jeremiah
Ndou to the club.
What club? The club of tens of thousands of Zimbabweans who have been
victims at one time or another of state-sponsored lawlessness. In other
words those who have been clubbed!
At a time when Information minister Jonathan Moyo has been bleating on about
the rule of law, the government’s supporters on occupied farms illegally
held Ndou against his will.
Their excuse? “There have been a number of stage-managed situations in the
area aimed at portraying lawlessness in Zimbabwe,” the settlers on the farm,
previously owned by South African investors, said.
So, in order to correct this impression, the settlers got a tractor and
barricaded Ndou’s car, warning him they would mobilise more people if he
tried to leave. An SABC reporter on the scene said a policeman present could
not do much to help.
We believe it. At last the South Africans have some idea of what the
government means when it speaks of the rule of law. Some of their officials
have been describing the closure of the Daily News as falling entirely
within Zimbabwe’s laws. Thankfully, the illegal detention of their high
commissioner was plastered all over the South African press last weekend so
they can have no illusions about the nature of those laws. Ndou was only
last week telling bankers about the forthcoming bilateral investment
agreement between South Africa and Zimbabwe.
This same, very able, diplomat is currently mediating in the inter-party
talks. He was due to complete his tour of duty in June but stayed on to be
of help. This is how he is rewarded!
He then had to undergo the indignity of being summoned to the Foreign
Affairs ministry to be told he should not have proceeded beyond the 40km
cordon that has been placed around the city for foreign diplomats.
That cordon is a clear violation of the Vienna Convention to which Zimbabwe
is a signatory. Diplomats are at liberty to go wherever they like without
restriction. The government’s claim that its advice to diplomats is designed
to ensure their safety tells us all we need to know about the security
situation in Zimbabwe today. Diplomats are not “safe” from Zanu PF’s
marauding gangs unless their visits to rural areas such as Lion’s Den have
first been cleared with the Foreign ministry, it would seem.
Ndou was the victim of “a misunderstanding” with a Mr Tsvakwi, one of the
newly resettled farmers on Hillpass Farm, the Herald disingenuously informed
us. And what of other people travelling to Lion’s Den and Chinhoyi en route
to Kariba and Zambia? Do they need to notify the government in advance to
avoid “misunderstandings” with Zanu PF supporters? Tourists should be
informed of what precautions they need to take before travelling.
And what will happen to those settlers who held Ndou captive? Will the rule
of law be mobilised against them? Or can we safely assume nothing will
Other victims of Zimbabwe’s “rule of law”
are Italians who owned properties
in this country.
The Italian ambassador was told recently that properties belonging to
Italian nationals who had acquired them before 1980 were distinct from those
protected under a governme-nt-to-government agreement signed more recently.
In what looked suspiciously like an effort to ingratiate himself with
Vice-President Joseph Msika, Ambassador Guiseppe Marchini Gamia said the
dispute between Britain and Zimbabwe was an entirely bilateral matter. In
other words the strong stance taken by the European Union, which Italy
currently heads, on democracy and human rights in Zimbabwe, was of no
concern at all!
We appreciate there may have been some distortion in the Herald’s account.
But this sort of abdication of responsibility looks bad by any account.
And why is Msika bothering to make a distinction between farms acquired
before and after Independence when even those Italian-owned farms under an
investor protection agreement are swarming with illegal occupants?
Italy was accused of joining the “bandwagon” against Zimbabwe by imposing
sanctions. But judging from the ambassador’s remarks we can be sure Zimbabwe
has nothing to fear from the Italian presidency of the EU!
Msika, by the way, told the ambassador that “mistakes had been made” during
land reform. But these do not appear to have been the mistakes of violence
and lawlessness. They were the mistakes of a handful of chefs helping
themselves to a whole fistful of farms and getting caught.
“We are changing that,” Msika assured the ambassador.
But how long does it take? And why, week after week, have we not been given
the names of the offenders? If there is a rule of law, how long does it take
It is sad to read what President Mugabe’s bootlickers are obliged to say
nowadays to maintain their jobs.
“Mugabe is no Sani Abacha,” one of them wrote last weekend, “and the white
settler farmer is no Ken Saro Wiwa…indeed Mugabe is no Musharraf. He is a
deeply evocative figure, a powerful and resonant fo’c’s’le of the Third
World, a potent symbol whose meaning expands beyond the foundational
race/liberation template of the 70s and 80s to encompass anything,
everything that the Third World must gain through bold struggles against
this torridly neo-liberal unipolar world with an Anglo-Saxon imprint.”
It is not difficult to detect the author of this torridly over-written
prose. When Nathaniel is taking a rest, he steps in to advertise that a
little learning is a dangerous thing, especially when it’s acquired by
courtesy of British sponsorship. But next time he attempts humour along the
lines of “Feel Goof” (it doesn’t get any better!), he should be told in
clear Anglo-Saxon terms to “Fo’c’s’le off”.
Another bootlicker of note, Lovemore Mataire, was doing a hatchet job on the
Daily News recently. Let it never be said of the Herald and Sunday Mail that
they are reluctant to kick a man when he is down. The Daily News was “doomed
from the start”, Mataire asserted in the style of his informational masters.
Its agenda was premised “on the pedestal of wanting to remove a system of
government from power… The paper started with wishy-washy articles that in
most cases were written in a decontextualised manner but its true identity
began to manifest when it started to write libellous articles against the
president, cabinet ministers and Zanu PF officials.”
This was done in a “systematic way to discredit the government”.
“Decontextualised” is the Mahoso code for failing to attribute national
collapse to external forces. In other words, it is heresy to suggest Zanu PF
’s record of criminal misrule may be attributable to a parasitic political
class in Harare. The Daily News committed the unpardonable offence of
holding politicians to account and exposing their hypocrisy. This is what
Mataire thinks is libellous. Why shouldn’t President Mugabe be allowed to
build his mansion while half the country is dependent upon donors for their
survival? Why shouldn’t the government waste billions on a war in the Congo
nobody wanted while hospitals and clinics at home collapsed?
In a sense Mataire is right about the Daily News wanting to remove a system
of government. The paper shared with other independent papers and civil
society — ie a majority of Zimbabweans — a desire to remove by democratic
means a cruel and corrupt dictatorship. It shared with them the need to end
politically-directed violence and establish independent electoral
institutions where people have the right to make informed choices. It shared
with them a desire for professional policing and independent courts.
Mataire works for a paper that systematically misleads the public about the
health of its rulers, the success of the land reform exercise, and Zimbabwe’
s standing in the world. Any fool can do that. Confronting the rogues in
power with the consequences of their misrule takes courage and commitment.
Mataire is not half the man the journalists at the Daily News and Daily News
on Sunday are. We suspect he knows that himself.
Muckraker was interested in the comments of Murray & Roberts chairman Paddy
Zhanda in the company’s annual report. M&R has performed well this year but
faces huge obstacles, he said.
“Economic activity in all areas of the economy is declining under the burden
of flawed economic policies,” Zhanda said. “The policy of maintaining
artificially low interest rates has entrenched a culture of consumptive
spending which sustains the inflationary expectations in the economy. This
has decimated savings and all but eliminated any infrastructure development
so necessary to create employment and sustain future growth.”
Zhanda, it should be recalled, is a loyal Zanu PF adherent. His remarks show
that, in business circles at least, the Pollyanna perspectives of the
Department of Information have made no headway.
There seems to be some confusion at Mabelreign Girls High School as to what
books are supposed to be studied for the English Literature exam. The Herald
said the “anormally” was discovered after a teacher tried to make a
last-minute switch in the curriculum.
Students were supposed to study Waiting For The Rain by Charles Mungoshi and
I Will Marry When I Want by Ngugi waMirii. But for some reason they ended up
with Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart and Charles Dickens’ Great
Now “anormally” we might detect an official hand guiding students towards
Great Expectations despite its imperialist origins. After all, we have great
expectations of an agricultural miracle. And after this week, it is no
longer true that we are waiting for the rain. But how do we explain Things
Fall Apart continuing to take pride of place in the curriculum?
The answer, as we said in relationto Zhanda’s remarks, is that certain
realities are no longer possible to conceal!
Moyo wades in to bank-note brawl
WHILE Information minister Jonathan Moyo insists that government will not
print higher denomination notes despite the country's hyperinflationary
environment, bankers say the notes will bring back sanity to the troubled
financial services sector.
Moyo, chief government spokesman in President Robert Mugabe's office, last
week told participants attending a financial services seminar that
government would not introduce higher denominations because they would
"worsen the current serious cash situation".
He said individuals calling for their introduction were
doing so because
they were benefiting from "shady deals" on the parallel market.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) last month introduced
bearer cheques and
traveller's cheques in various high denominations of $5 000, $10 000, $20
000, $50 000 and $100 000.
The central bank also
introduced a $1 000 note - the highest since
said the cheques would continue to play the role of cash because
individuals were hoarding notes instead of sending them through the normal
The minister, who took a swipe at the banking sector, said
printing of higher denomination notes was tantamount to allowing
unscrupulous individuals to continue sabotaging the economy currently on its
Insiders pointed out that government did
not have money to print notes and
had found the cheques to be a much cheaper way of getting around the
embarrassing cash debacle.
Holdings Ltd (Century) yesterday said Zimbabwe needed higher
denominations in line with the general increase in commodity prices.
denominations are needed in line with the general increase in the
price of commodities," Century said.
"The introduction of bearer cheques in
denominations, of $5 000, $10 000 and
$20 000 has had a significant positive impact in the market as the long
queues have disappeared. This indicates that the bearer cheques have passed
the test, thereby lending weight to the fact that the government should
print actual notes for these denominations as bearer cheques do not appear
to be as durable."
institution said the new notes should be in circulation
alongside the new $500 and $1 000 notes.
"The $20 and $50 notes should be phased out as
their intrinsic value
vis-à-vis their extrinsic value no longer makes economic sense," Century
"The concept of bearer cheques
should not be dropped at this point. In the
face of galloping inflation, higher denominations in the value of $50 000
and $100 000 should be printed to sustain large transactions and enhance
In an interview, Stanbic Bank of Zimbabwe Ltd head of
Kereke, said printing higher notes could help solve the problems currently
"The bearer cheques have
markedly improved the cash situation, to a point
where it has become quite clear that the market requires higher
denominations as a lasting solution to the cash crisis," he told
are also an indispensable requirement given the
circumstances of acute foreign exchange shortages. At current high levels of
inflation, if Zimbabwe is to stick to the current low denominations, the
foreign exchange requirements for restocking of cash would be so high and
out of reach for the country's meagre foreign exchange resources."
Kereke said higher
denominations would thus come as an integral part of
Zimbabwe's efforts to try to work and live "within its means".
He said the link between
inflation and currency denominations could be
there, but often highly drummed up by those "opposed to introduction of
"Inflation is influenced by the volume of money
supply in circulation in the
market regardless of the denominations that quantum of money supply is in,"
Kereke said inflation
stabilisation was only feasible if focus was placed on
causes of inflation, and not end-results/symptoms of inflation.
He said the causes of
inflation were high money supply growth, increase of
production costs, and shrinkage in national output (gross domestic product).
"The real test
of the robustness of the solution is however going to be over
the festive season (bonus time)," he said. "We await with optimism."
bankers, who refused to be quoted, said Moyo should stick to politics
and leave banking to bankers.
Lending rate hit 100% mark
COMMERCIAL banks have hiked their Minimum Lending Rates (MLRs) to surpass
the 100% mark, further dampening economic prosperity prospects of already
Analysts said customers would now spend more time repaying interest on
borrowed money than actually repaying the original amount borrowed. They
said by year-end customers would be asked to pay 200% in interest for monies
borrowed from commercial banks.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which has been accused of
blind eye on the commercial banking sector activities, has allowed the
financial institutions to slap the huge amounts on customers.
The move comes less than a month after the 150-member
National Economic Consultative Forum (Necf) said it was making "frantic
efforts" to curb and arrest "rapid expansion in money supply to about 150%
by December 2002 and unsustainable rates of inflation that accelerated to
228% by March".
Commercial banks have been
increasing their MLRs almost every month now,
claiming that this was in tandem with the hyper-inflationary environment.
inflation figure, which stood at 426,6% in August, shot up to
455,5% for September.
Analysts say the continued skyrocketing inflation figure
could result in
commercial banks charging 200% before year-end, making Zimbabwe a "no-go
area" for investors.
The latest MLR figures show
that Kingdom Bank Ltd, Standard Chartered Bank
Zimbabwe Ltd First Banking Corporation, and NMB Bank are charging 120%, up
from the 98% charged last month.
Other banks are still charging 98% but are mooting increasing
the figure to
120% before month-end.
How Japan rose: lessons for Zimbabwe
BETWEEN current Zimbabwe and the postwar situation in Japan there are
Starvation, the runaway unemployment rate and galloping inflation are part
of the situation that is prevailing in Zimbabwe.
After the devastation of the atomic bomb that saw Japan
succumb to the
allies in 1945, there were severe food shortages, rising inflation and
rampant black marketeering.
Companies were shut
down, domestic demand plunged and the business
environment became hostile. This is the same situation prevailing in
apart from the loose synergies the comparison ends there.
The rest are telling details on what the crisis-ridden country can learn
from the rise of Japan after the Second World War.
Unlike the Zimbabwean government,
which has set out to jettison the private
sector, Japan harnessed the sector with impressive results.
Japan also utilised international support
from the United States in the form
of rehabilitation aid.
rapid expansion of Japan's economy from the late 1950s through the 1960s
was powered by the vigorous investment of private industry in new plant and
The high level of savings of Japanese households
provided banks and other
financial institutions funds for investment in the private sector.
The upsurge in capital spending was associated with
the introduction of new
technology, often under licence from foreign companies.
Modernisation made Japanese industries more competitive on
the world market,
created new products, and brought Japanese enterprises the benefits of mass
production and improved productivity per worker.
Another factor behind Japan's economic growth during this
period was the
availability of an abundant highly educated labour force.
Large numbers of young people entered the labour force every
with heavy migration of agricultural workers to manufacturing and service
About five years after the war the gross
domestic product had returned to
booming and the domestic demand growing owing to the rapid
Almost two decades after the war Japan became the second
largest economy in
the world after the United States.
from 1955 to 1960 the economy was recording a double-digit
Despite the trade conflict with the US in 1971 and the fuel
shock two years
later the economy continued on a growth path. It also withstood a negative
growth rate recorded in 1970.
There was a
bubble economy in the two decades to come with land prices
ballooning. The financial sector rallied behind the property development
firms and estate agency.
The bubble however burst in 1990 when house and land prices
financial services companies exposed.
folded and other merged to spread risk.
Now the economy is on the upward trend again buoyed by reforms.
On Monday Heizo Takenaka, Japan's
minister in charge of economic and
financial services said the world's second biggest economy would accelerate
after expanding between 0,5% and 1% this year and in 2004.
"This is the time of adjustment," Takenaka told a
World Economic Forum
meeting in Singapore. "After that, the pace of growth may rise to 2% or
Japan's exports, which accounted for a
fifth of its 1% economic growth in
the second quarter, have risen five straight months to August.
The unemployment rate fell to 5,1% in
August from 5,3% in July.
Back home the economy of Zimbabwe is poised for further recession on the
back of government interference in the private sector.
Government has gone on a massive drive to cow investors by
The results have been a scale-down in
business by key companies.
It is anticipated that manufacturing industry will slip by 35% this year
while the economy will shed 7,2% in the same period.
About 500 companies are expected to have folded in the last
condemning thousands to the informal market.
also face starvation. President Robert Mugabe's calls to turn to
Asia could include learning from those countries instead of continuously
begging them to bail Zimbabwe out of its current crisis.
Mugari was recently in Japan
as a guest of the Japanese government.
Cash shortages: new banking trends emerge
THE Central Africa Bui-lding Society (Cabs), the country's largest building
society, says banking trends changed drastically due to the recent cash
Zimbabwe has been afflicted by a severe cash crisis, which Finance minister
Herbert Murerwa says was attributable to cash hoarding, inflation, parallel
market activities, negative real interest rates, high bank charges on cash
deposits and speculative behaviour.
The cash shortages disrupted business and economic
activities and heavily
inconvenienced the general public as well.
The country's cash situation remained tight for quite some time
government introduced traveller's cheques, bear-er cheques and $1 000 notes.
"Cabs has seen a change in banking trends due to the cash
"The number of cheque transactions
went up from 11 276 in May to 19 635 in
June and up to higher levels for July. This has placed a strain on cheque
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) on the other hand said with the new
measures implemented recently, the situation would change.
Acting RBZ governor
Charles Chikaura told businessdigest that as of now it
was not feasible, however, to determine in precise terms how much of the
existing $500 notes had been returned to the banking system, since money
constantly flows in and out.
Government introduced a new $500 note replacing the existing
$500 one last
It then threatened individuals and
organi-sations holding Zimbabwean
currency outside the country's borders that if they did not return the cash
it would become "worthless".
number of cash withdrawals was only marginally down from 344 227 in May
to 284 952 in June," Cabs said.
"The number of ATM withdrawals over the
same period went down from 258 265
to 43 290 due to unavailability of cash in ATMs while the number of point of
sale transactions went up from 237 909 to 362 657."
The building society said in October last year it received
a total of $450
million in cash from its bankers.
In May this year however Cabs received $50 million and in June $280 million.
the monthly rate of inflation into account these figures indicate
the severity of the cash shortages being experienced by Cabs," the
"Exacerbating this shortage of cash is the fact that many
are not depositing cash in banks or building societies because cash can be
sold at a premium. While understanding and sy-mpathising with the
inconvenience caused to clients, Cabs is unable to control the cash
Murerwa said in a bid to solve the cash crisis
government outlawed the
repatriation of cash outside Zimbabwe through the gazetting of Statutory
Instrument 163 of 2003.
To prevent cash
hoarding and unlawful trading in cash, both by traders and
individuals, government gazetted Statutory Instrument 171 of 2003 meant to
ensure accountability of all cash generated and result in the re-channeling
of deposits back into the banking sector.
Fires destroy Border property
BORDER Timbers Ltd (Border) yesterday said two significant fires had
destroyed 930 hectares at two of its plantations, which could affect the
company's operating capacity for the next eight years.
Border, a subsidiary of the Radar Holdings Ltd (Radar) group, has a market
capitalisation of $55,8 billion on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange, while the
parent firm stands at $37,4 billion.
published a cautionary statement informing shareholders of
the tragedy and its consequences. It did not however, quantify the amounts
"Shareholders are advised that two significant
fires have recently occurred
on Border Timbers property that will materially affect the operating
capacity of the company," Border said.
"Approximately 230 hectares of plantation were lost at Charter
Estate in the
first fire which was initiated outside Border property."
The company said a second fire occurred on Sheba Estate
700 hectares of plantation had been destroyed.
"This level of destruction will have significant negative
effect on the
company's results for the next eight years in view of the age of the timber
burnt," Border said.
"The fires have been
extinguished and causes of the fires are yet to be
established. The company wishes to extend its appreciation to all involved
in assisting with the controlling and extinguishing of the blaze.
Shareholders will be advised should there be any further developments."
Meanwhile, the tiff
between Border and government over acquisition of its 20
000 hectares for the controversial fast track land resettlement programme is
Last year, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural
Made, listed 20 000 hectares of Border land for acquisition for resettlement
Border managing director
John Gahadzikwa in his statement accompanying his
June 30 2002 financial results told shareholders that several shacks had
been erected on the company's land in areas that had been harvested mainly
in the Chimanimani Estates.
Gahadzikwa insisted that all incidents were reported to the
merely recorded them, but "then did nothing further".
Border handed the matter over to its lawyers who
immediately made objections
and appeals to the Administrative Court of Zimbabwe.
Subsequent to year 2002, the Attorney General's Office
withdrew all Section
7 orders, to which the objections had been lodged in the administrative
court, conceding that the properties were protected by the German-Zimbabwean
Investment Protection Agreement.
Zimbabwe's fifth largest trading partner but relations have
soured since the land acquisitions began in earnest about two years ago.
now awaits official notification from the Ministry of Lands,
Agriculture and Rural Resettlement delisting all Border properties that were
originally listed for designation for purposes of resettlement," Gahadzikwa
Kanengoni should give up his pretence
IT is high time that Alex Kanengoni gave up his jovial pretence that we live
in a democracy where healthy debate is the norm. He remembers gleefully the
"raging debate" his 100 days with Robert Mugabe generated.
This was hardly of great national importance, and the Robert Mugabe of
Kanengoni's fond memory bears little resemblance to the despot who "governs"
us today, other than the fact that he rarely smiled. What exactly is he
advocating in his opinion piece "Who silenced the Daily News?" (Independent,
Kanengoni tells us that had we all, like good citizens, accepted
constitution in 2000 everything would now be just fine. Our first mistake
was to dare to say no. Never mind that the constitutional exercise was
hijacked from the NCA in the first place. Never mind that the people's views
about the draft constitution were largely ignored. Consulting the people
meant embarking on an extensive and expensive exercise, entrenching Jonathan
Moyo in the process and then handing the whole thing over to the President
for final touches - in other words rewriting it the way he wanted it. Big
Brother knows best and we didn't really mean it when we said we didn't want
an executive president with such sweeping powers as the current incumbent.
We were misguided.
As for writing into a constitution a
financial commitment by a foreign
power - well since when could we legislate for the British, or any other
foreign nation for that matter? We can barely legislate for ourselves.
Which brings us to Aippa.
stating that Aippa is law because parliament passed it ignores completely
the sham that parliament has become. Zanu PF has its majority because of 30
unelected seats - all the President's Men. Kanengoni takes no cognisance of
Aippa's skewed passage through parliament - the number of times it had to be
returned and rewritten because of its vagueness in application and because
of concerns that it did infringe the basic rights inherent even in our
In spite of this, Aippa was
"fast-tracked", our new euphemism for riding
slipshod over the wishes of the people, and at the same time "amendments"
were promised as a sop to Nigeria and South Africa's concerns that perhaps
finally the Zimbabwean government had gone too far.
Kanengoni has lived too long in an undemocratic
society. He has forgotten
that people have a right to challenge the constitutionality of a law. He
says the Daily News had declared the law unconstitutional by refusing to
register and describes their appeal to the Supreme Court as "cheek." And
what is the Supreme Court's role here? I am also not a lawyer, but according
to Geoff Feltoe (who is one): "All legislation passed by Parliament must
conform to the Bill of Rights provisions of the Constitution. If a
legislative provision is inconsistent with the Bill of Rights the courts
will declare it void and of no force and effect. This function primarily
vests in the Supreme Court. When there are doubts about the
constitutionality of new legislation persons affected should be entitled to
obtain a ruling from the Supreme Court as to whether or not the legislation
This the Daily News attempted
to do - well within their rights and nothing
to do with any "angry, prowling ghost". Any ghosts that are prowling would
much more likely be lurking in the corridors of the Media and Information
Commission and behind the shoulders of government officials.
The government media has been responsible for
much more reckless and
baseless reporting than the independent press. How often has Aippa been
invoked against irresponsible reporting from the government-controlled
Kanengoni states that there seems to
be a heartening convergence of thinking
as evidenced by the President's "sons of the soil" speech at Heroes Acre.
This is to be welcomed, but is after all the very first sign of
acknowledgement of the MDC as a Zimbabwean political party after years of
vitriolic diatribe. At the same time, the treason trial of Morgan Tsvangirai
is about to resume and now MDC spokesperson Paul Themba Nyathi is to stand
trial for attempting to overthrow a "constitutionally-elected government".
Jonathan Moyo calls the
remaining independent papers "running dogs of
imperialism" and Tafataona Mahoso - the "non-partisan" head of the Media and
Information Commission is no doubt looking for ways to deregister the
remaining voices. Not so heartening for healthy debate and the airing of
Needless to say the silencing of the Daily News denies the
majority of our
population any information as to what is actually going on in Zimbabwe. Most
of us know who has "blood on their hands" and really - is it the Daily News?
The wasted years
I TRY to attend as many national days as I can. They enable me to meet
diplomats and civil society leaders with whom I can exchange views and learn
something that hopefully enhances this newspaper’s perspectives.
On Tuesday it was Spain’s national day. Last year Ambassador Javier
Sandomingo commented on Zimbabwe’s failure to respond to initiatives and
opportunities provided by Spain and other European Union member-states. This
year he chose instead to concentrate on Spain’s recent history.
Spain has a history of political intolerance and internal conflict, he
pointed out, of which the civil war of 1936/9 was only the most recent
damaging manifestation. After that bruising conflict the country retreated
into dictatorship and isolation, unable to take advantage of Europe’s
dramatic post-World War II recovery.
But all that changed after the death of General Franco in 1975 and the
adoption in 1978 of a democratic constitution. Today Spain, a thriving
democracy, is not without internal problems of regional secessionism.
But those problems are being addressed by a rapidly growing economy and the
concession of local autonomy. Spain’s King Juan Carlos is the model of a
constitutional monarch who has contributed much to the post-1975 democratic
consensus in his country.
Spain today is a prosperous member of the European Union which it joined in
1986. It plays a full and important role in the councils of the EU and is
part of the wider international community. As Spaniards celebrate the 25th
anniversary of their 1978 constitution, they know from experience that
political tolerance and constitutional governance provide rewarding
dividends. Apart from a handful of stalwarts, there are few nostalgic
memories today of the Franco era when Spain wasted 36 years wallowing in
unproductive nationalism and isolation.
Mr Sandomingo’s remarks were apposite. The large audience attending the
national-day event understood perfectly his point. What a pity that, as part
of Zimbabwe’s retaliation against its perceived enemies, ministers and Zanu
PF luminaries are unable to attend EU functions. They would have learnt so
much from Spain’s experience. But burying their heads in the sand is part of
the job description I suspect!
I have no doubt when this nightmare is over, we shall look back with grief
on the wasted years of misdirected nationalism and isolation when all around
us in the region were prospering.
Supreme Court decision re ANZ
REPORTABLE (13) Judgment No S.C.20\03 Civil Application No 7\03
ASSOCIATED NEWSPAPERS OF ZIMBABWE (PRIVATE) LIMITED
(1) THE MINISTER OF STATE FOR
INFORMATION AND PUBLICITY IN THE PRESIDENT’S
(2) MEDIA AND INFORMATION COMMISSION
(3) THE ATTORNEY-GENERAL OF ZIMBABWE SUPREME COURT OF ZIMBABWE CHIDYAUSIKU
CJ, CHEDA JA, ZIYAMBI JA, MALABA JA & GWAUNZA JA HARARE JUNE 3 & SEPTEMBER
A.P. de Bourbon S.C., for
J. Tomana, for the first and second respondents
C. Mudenda, with him C. Muchenga, for the third respondent CHIDYAUSIKU CJ:
The applicant in this matter is a corporate company that owns and
the Daily News. The principal object of the applicant is to acquire, publish
and circulate or otherwise deal with any newspapers or other publications.
The applicant contends that it is entitled to enjoy the freedom of
expression set out in section 20 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. It is the
view of the applicant that the Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act, Chapter [10:27] (hereinafter referred to as the Act) in general
terms interferes with and unduly restricts the enjoyment by the citizens of
Zimbabwe of their freedom of expression. In particular the applicant impugns
sections 39, 40, 41, 65, 66, 70, 71, 79, 80 ,83 and 89 of the Act, and S.I.
169C of 2002, made thereunder. It is contended that the above provisions are
unconstitutional. The first and second respondents have raised the point in
limine that the applicant has dirty hands and is not entitled to approach
this Court for relief. This allegation of dirty hands arises from the fact
that the applicant is in open defiance of the law which it is seeking to
impugn. The first respondent’s contention is set out in paragraph 3 of the
opposing affidavit which reads as follows:- “3. I have read and understood
the Applicant’s founding papers and respond thereto in opposition as
follows:- Firstly might I be permitted to state that the Act in question was
law in this country at the date of the instant application. 3.1.1 I am
advised that unless and until a piece of legislation is either repealed by
an Act of Parliament or declared unconstitutional and therefore nullified by
this Honourable Court, such piece of legislation retains the force of law
obliging all citizens to obey and respect it. 3.1.2 The Applicant and its
journalists are required by the Act to register and be accredited after due
compliance with the regulations promulgated as SI 169C/02. 3.1.3 The
Applicant has taken the choice not to apply for registration and the
Applicant’s journalists have not applied for accreditation. Applicant is
therefore by choice operating a media business in contravention of the Act.
3.1.4 In other words the Applicant has taken the place of Parliament and
this Honourable Court, adjudged the Act unconstitutional and proceeded to
ignore the same completely. 3.1.5 I know of no country where a citizen has
the option to respect a law if it suits such citizen or ignore the same with
impunity if the piece of legislation fails to meet the expectations of such
citizen. 3.1.6 This in fact, is what Applicant has done. 3.1.7 I am however
advised that this too is not acceptable in this country and in particular
that this Honourable Court will not tolerate such an attitude from any of
the subjects of the laws of Zimbabwe. 3.1.8 Applicant approaches this
Honourable Court with dirty hands. Applicant is simply approaching this
Honourable Court for a rubber-stamp of its prior decision to disrespect the
Act which is an existing Zimbabwean piece of law. 3.1.9 I accordingly urge
this Honourable Court to register and restate the Zimbabwean position on
this lawless attitude by refusing to entertain this application. 3.1.10
However in the event, that this Honourable Court chooses to condone the
deliberate decision by Applicant to disobey the Act, I respond, in
opposition, to the merits of the application as follows.” The second
respondent associates itself with the attitude of the first respondent. The
Chairman of the Commission makes the following averment in paragraph 2 of
his affidavit:- “2. I confirm that I have read and understood the Applicant’
s papers. I have also read the 1st Respondent’s opposing affidavit the
contents of which I fully associate myself with.” The applicant’s response
to the above averments are to be found in paragraph 3 of the answering
affidavit, part of which reads as follows:- “3.3.1 I do not accept as
correct the view that First Respondent expresses regarding the laws whose
validity is being lawfully challenged. If the Applicant’s view that the
provisions of the Act which it is sought to have declared unconstitutional
are indeed unconstitutional, then Applicant and any other persons affected
by those provisions are not obliged to comply with them. In any event First
Respondent very significantly and blatantly exempted the mass media services
controlled by him from these provisions of the Act. (underlining is mine)
Section 66 of the Act, in terms of which the applicant is required to
register, provides as follows:- “Registration of mass media services (1) A
mass media owner shall carry on the activities of a mass media service only
after registering and receiving a certificate of registration in terms of
this Act: Provided that this section shall not apply to – the activities of
a person holding a licence issued in terms of the Broadcasting Services Act
[Chapter 12:06] to the extent that such activities are permitted by such
licence; or a representative office of a foreign mass media service
permitted to operate in Zimbabwe in terms of section ninety; or in-house
publications of an organisation which is not mass media service. (2) An
application for the registration of a mass media service whose products are
intended for dissemination in Zimbabwe shall be submitted by its owner to
the Commission in the form and manner prescribed and accompanied by the
prescribed fee. (3) The Commission shall, upon receiving an application for
registration, send a notification of receipt of the application to the owner
or person authorised by him indicating the date when the application was
received, and the Commission shall consider such application within a month
of receiving it. (4) A mass media service shall be registered when it is
issued with a certificate of registration by the Commission. (5) A
certificate issued in terms of subsection (4) shall be valid for a period of
two years and may be renewed thereafter. (6) The registered owner shall
start circulating his mass media’s products six months from the date of the
issue of the registration certificate, failing which the registration
certificate shall be deemed to be cancelled.” The applicant has not complied
with section 66 of the Act because it contends that it cannot do so in good
conscience. The applicant contends that it or any other persons affected by
the above provisions are not obliged to comply with the above provisions if
they should be found to be unconstitutional. It is not disputed, therefore,
that as of now the applicant is operating contrary to the provisions of
section 66 of the Act. The applicant now approaches this Court seeking the
relief that section 66 and other sections of the Act be declared
unconstitutional. Mr Tomana for the first and second respondents made a
number of submissions in support of the first and second respondents’ point
in limine. He submitted that the applicant is approaching this Court with
dirty hands and is not entitled to relief from this Court. He submitted that
the applicant admits that it chose not to apply for registration because, in
its view, the provisions requiring registration of Mass Media Services are
not constitutional. It was Mr Tomana’s further contention that among all the
Mass Media Service providers in Zimbabwe only the applicant chose to
disrespect the law by deliberately refraining from applying for registration
as prescribed because it unilaterally resolved that it cannot, in its
alleged conscience, obey such a law. Mr Tomana argued that it was not for
the applicant to judge any law of this land as unconstitutional. That
function was for the Constitutional Court. He also argued that every Act of
the legislature is presumed to be valid and constitutional until the
contrary is shown. Even in those cases where the constitutionality of the
Acts are in doubt all such doubts are resolved in favour of the validity of
the Acts. Where an Act is fairly and reasonably open to more than one
construction, that construction will be adopted which will reconcile the
statute with the Constitution in order to avoid the consequence of
unconstitutionality. For the above proposition Mr Tomana cited the learned
author Black, The Construction and Interpretation of Laws . The cases of
Growell v Benson and Zimbabwe Township Developers (Pvt) Ltd v Lou’s Shoes
(Pvt) Ltd were also cited in support of the above proposition. In the case
of Zimbabwe Township Developers (Pvt) Ltd v Lou’s Shoes (Pvt) Ltd, supra,
GEORGES CJ (as he then was) at 383A-E had this to say:- “Many neo-Nigerian
constitutions permit derogation from the declared rights defined provided
that these derogations are, to use the phrase in the Zimbabwean
Constitution, ‘reasonably justifiable in a democratic society’. Even where
the Constitution does not make it clear where the onus lies as the Zimbabwe
Constitution does, the onus lies on the challenger to prove that the
legislation is not reasonably justifiable in a democratic society and not on
the State to show that it is. In that sense there is a presumption of
constitutionality. As LORD FRASER OF TULLYBELTON stated in Attorney-General
& Anor v Antigua Times Ltd  3 All ER 81 at 90:- ‘In some cases it may
be possible for a court to decide from a mere perusal of an Act whether it
was or was not reasonably required. In other cases the Act will not provide
the answer to that question. In such cases evidence has to be brought before
the court of the reasons for the Act and to show that it was reasonably
required? Their Lordships think that the proper approach to the question is
to presume, until the contrary appears or is shown, that all Acts passed by
the Parliament of Antigua were reasonably required.’ In that sense the
presumption represents no more than the Court adopting the view that a
legislature, elected by universal adult suffrage and liable to be defeated
in an election, must be presumed to be a good judge of what is reasonably
required or reasonably justifiable in a democratic society. But situations
can arise even in such societies in which majorities oppress minorities, and
so the Declaration of Rights prescribes limits within which rights may be
restricted. It is only in cases where it is clear that the restriction is
oppressive that the Court will interfere.” Mr de Bourbon, for the applicant,
on the other hand, submitted that the respondents’ contention that the
applicant has come to court with dirty hands and, therefore, should not be
heard is without legal foundation. He submitted that the applicant had not
sought to be registered in terms of the Act because the applicant considers
that the registration provisions of the Act are unconstitutional. The
essence of Mr de Bourbon’s submission is crisply set out in paragraph 4 of
his heads of argument wherein he submits:- “It is correct that the Applicant
has not sought to be registered in terms of AIPPA. The Applicant considers
that the registration provisions of AIPPA are unconstitutional. It considers
that, despite the presumption of constitutionality, see Zimbabwe Township
Developers (Pvt) Ltd v Lou’s Shoes (Pvt) Ltd 1983 (2) ZLR 376 (SC); 1984 (2)
SA 778 (ZS), that it cannot in conscience obey such a law.” In the same
paragraph Mr de Bourbon also refers to the remarks of the Late Martin Luther
King which, in my view, have no legal significance in casu. Mr de Bourbon
has also argued that even if the applicant had sought to be registered it
might not have been possible for it to do so because certain administrative
mechanisms were not in place to enable it to register in terms of the Act.
There might have been substance in this argument had the applicant’s case
been that it was unable to register because of administrative difficulties.
That is not its case. He also argued that the applicant’s conduct is not
tainted with any moral turpitude such as fraud or dishonesty and is,
therefore, entitled to approach this Court for relief. In paragraph 10 of
his heads, Mr de Bourbon makes the following submission:- “But at the end of
the day the fact of the matter is that the Applicant has made no secret of
its attitude towards AIPPA; it has made full disclosure to this Honourable
Court. It considers the legislation to be unconstitutional, and was not
prepared to make an application in terms of section 66 of AIPPA for
registration. It has continued operating, and the question that has to be
determined by this Honourable Court is whether its attitude in that regard
was correct. It is respectfully submitted that it cannot be denied a hearing
because two of the three respondents seek to enforce what might well be
unconstitutional legislation.” (the underlining is mine) Mr de Bourbon made
the further submission that the applicant has locus standi in terms of
section 24 of the Constitution and should, therefore, be heard by this
Court. I agree with Mr de Bourbon’s contention that the applicant has locus
standi in terms of section 24 of the Constitution. The issue to be
determined as Mr de Bourbon himself has submitted is whether the applicant’s
attitude in refusing to obey a law pending the determination of the
constitutionality of such law is correct. Is such an applicant entitled to
be heard on the merits of the challenge while in defiance of such a law? The
issue of whether a citizen should comply with a law whose validity it
challenges pending the determination of the validity of such a law was
considered in the case of F. Hoffmann-La Roche & Co A.G. and Others v
Secretary of State for Trade and Industry . The facts of that case were
briefly as follows. The F. Hoffmann-La Roche, a pharmaceutical company
(hereinafter referred to as the company) was selling some drugs at a certain
price. The Secretary for Trade, (“The Secretary”) issued statutory orders
reducing the selling price of the drugs sold by the company. The company
contended that the statutory orders were ultra vires and, therefore,
invalid. The company indicated that it was not going to obey the orders. The
company was going to raise the prices so as to restore them to the level
obtaining before the orders were made. But it would pay the difference into
a bank account to await a decision on the validity of the orders. The
Secretary applied for an injunction to restrain the company from charging in
excess of the prices specified in the order. The Secretary sought an interim
injunction pending the determination of the matter. The company was prepared
to submit to the interim injunction, keeping the low price provided that the
Secretary gave an undertaking in damages so as to recompense the company if
the orders were afterwards held to be invalid. The Secretary was not willing
to give that undertaking. WALON J, in the court of first instance, dismissed
the Secretary’s application for the interim injunction mainly on the basis
of his refusal to give an undertaking and that in any event the company was
paying the money in a trust account to be refunded to purchasers in the
event of the decision going against the company and the orders being held
valid. The Secretary appealed against the judgment of WALON J. The appeal
was upheld. Lord DENNING M.R., in allowing the appeal, had this to say at pp
321H-322A:- “The Secretary of State has made, under the authority of
Parliament, an order which compels the plaintiffs to reduce their prices
greatly. That order has been approved, after full debate, by both Houses of
Parliament. So long as that order stands, it is the law of the land. When
the courts are asked to enforce it, they must do so.” Lord DENNING M.R.
further observed at p 322B-C:- “They argue that the law is invalid; but
unless and until these courts declare it to be so, they must obey it. They
cannot stipulate for an undertaking as the price of their obedience. They
must obey first and argue afterwards. I would allow the appeal and grant the
injunction as asked without requiring any undertaking from the Crown in
damages.” The company appealed to the House of Lords but the appeal was
dismissed. Thus the principle that a citizen who disputes the validity of a
law must obey it first and argue afterwards is founded on sound authority
and practical common sense. The applicant’s contention that it is not bound
by a law it considers unconstitutional is simply untenable. A situation
where citizens are bound by only those laws they consider constitutional is
a recipe for chaos and a total breakdown of the rule of law. I am not
persuaded by Mr de Bourbon’s submission that the principle of dirty hands
only applies to those litigants whose conduct lacks probity or honesty and
those litigants whose conduct is tainted with moral obliquity such as fraud
or other forms of dishonesty. For the above submission Mr de Bourbon sought
to rely on the case of Deputy Sheriff, Harare v Mahleza & Anor 1997 (2) ZLR
425 (HC). In that case Mrs Mahleza had purchased goods in the name of her
husband’s company in order to avoid the payment of sales tax. The goods were
subsequently attached at the instance of the company’s creditors.
Interpleader proceedings were launched. The court, mero motu, refused her
relief until such time as she would have paid the tax. Mrs Mahleza had been
candid with the court as to why she purchased goods in the name of the
company. Mahleza’s case, supra, is certainly an authority for the
proposition that a litigant with dirty hands will be denied relief. That
case does not seek to define the extent of that principle. It certainly is
not an authority for the proposition that denial of relief will be confined
only to those litigants whose conduct lacks probity or honesty or is tainted
with moral obliquity. In the cases of S v Neill and S v Nkosi the court
refused to hear appeals of appellants who had absconded or failed to comply
with bail conditions. Such conduct does not, in any way, involve moral
obliquity. Defiance of a court order does not involve dishonesty or moral
obliquity yet litigants in defiance of court orders more often than not are
denied relief by the court until they have purged their contempt. In my view
there is no difference in principle between a litigant who is in defiance of
a court order and a litigant who is in defiance of the law. The Court will
not grant relief to a litigant with dirty hands in the absence of good cause
being shown or until such defiance or contempt has been purged . In the
present case Mr de Bourbon has advanced two reasons why the court should
exempt the applicant from the application of the dirty hands principle,
namely,:- that the applicant has made an open and candid disclosure of its
conduct; that the applicant is acting in response to its conscience. I am
not satisfied that these two reasons are sufficient to justify this Court to
grant relief to the applicant who approaches it while in open defiance of
the law for a number of reasons. The mere fact that the applicant has
disclosed to the court its defiance of the law is totally inadequate to
purge the applicant’s contempt of the law. In many of the cases where relief
was refused and, indeed, in the present case, the facts are patent and the
litigant has no choice but to make such a disclosure. In the present case
the applicant did not apply for registration in terms of the Act. Its
failure to do so is a matter of public record and easily ascertainable.
Disclosure of what is patent and obvious is not something for which the
applicant can claim credit. Indeed, in Mahleza’s case, supra, the litigant
disclosed in her affidavit that she had used another person’s name to
purchase her goods in order to avoid payment of tax. That disclosure did not
help her. If anything it was as a result of such disclosure that the court
mero motu raised the principle of dirty hands. In my view, it would not have
helped the litigant either if she had alleged that the law imposing the tax
was unconstitutional, which brings me to the next reason advanced by Mr de
Bourbon as to why this Court should grant the applicant the relief it seeks.
The applicant argues that it could not, in good conscience, apply to
register in terms of the Act because in its view certain provisions of the
Act and, in particular, section 66, requiring such registration was
unconstitutional. I am not impressed by the good conscience argument for a
number of reasons. Firstly, section 66 of the Act is not blatantly
unconstitutional. At worst its constitutionality is debatable. If the
impugned section was patently unconstitutional the court might be persuaded.
Indeed the licensing of the media, particularly, the electronic media has
been adjudged constitutional in some jurisdictions . A perusal of the other
impugned sections reveals that they are not totally repugnant and would need
careful consideration to determine their constitutionality. Secondly, it
would appear that of all the publishing companies the applicant was the only
conscientious objector. If the Act was as morally repugnant as the applicant
would have the court believe one would have expected more than one
conscientious objector. This Court is a court of law, and as such, cannot
connive at or condone the applicant’s open defiance of the law. Citizens are
obliged to obey the law of the land and argue afterwards. It was entirely
open to the applicant to challenge the constitutionality of the Act before
the deadline for registration and thus avoid compliance with the law it
objects to pending a determination by this Court. In the absence of an
explanation as to why this course was not followed, the inference of a
disdain for the law becomes inescapable. For the avoidance of doubt the
applicant is not being barred from approaching this Court. All that the
applicant is required to do is to submit itself to the law and approach this
Court with clean hands on the same papers. Compliance with the law does not
necessarily mean submission of an application for registration to carry on
the activities of a mass media service. It certainly means desisting from
carrying on the activities of a mass media service illegally. In the result
the point taken in limine succeeds. The applicant is operating outside the
law and this Court will only hear the applicant on the merits once the
applicant has submitted itself to the law. No order as to costs has been
requested and none will be made.
CHEDA JA: I
ZIYAMBI JA: I agree
MALABA JA: I agree
GWAUNZA JA: I agree
Gill Godlonton & Gerrans, applicant’s legal practitioners
& Tomana, first and second respondent's legal practitioners Civil Division
of the Attorney-General’s Office, third respondent's legal practitioners
(1911 p 110 paragraph 41H)
(1931) 285 US 22 at 62 1983 (2) ZLR 376
 AC 295 1982 (1) ZLR 142 1963 (4) SA 87
Hoffman-La Roche v Trade Secretary, supra Athukorale & Ors v
Attorney-General of Sri Lanka (1997) 2 BHRC 610 PAGE 2 S.C. 20\03
Public Transport Sector Faces Collapse
(Harare) The government has previously said that 300,000 black farmers had been given
land seized from whites in the past three years.
But a report prepared by Charles Utete, a close ally of President Robert
Mugabe, puts the figure at 127,192, according to leaks in two local newspapers.
The report also said that bureaucratic failings and political interference
had hindered the process.
One part of the land reform programme was meant to create 50,000 black
commercial farmers but just 7,260 families have been given land under this
scheme, according to the privately-owned Financial Gazette.
Government critics blame this on the disruption of the land reform programme
Mr Mugabe blames a plot by western powers opposed to his reforms.
The government has seized some 8.6m hectares of land on 4,324 farms, the
It says that 1,323 white farmers remained on their land - far above the 400
estimated by their representatives.
Although the government published clear and well-defined criteria for who
would lose their farms - absentee landowners, those who had multiple properties,
those near already black areas - the lists of seized farms often did not respect
Even some properties already belonging to the state were listed for
Many of those properties seized had previously been given a certificate,
saying that the state did not want to acquire them, the report said.
"Many of these (properties) would, not infrequently, then be delisted via the
same Government Gazette and the same newspapers in which they had been listed in
the first place," the report says.
These failings have resulted in many of the white farmers who have lost their
land appealing to the courts.
"As the committee went about its work, it could not fail to be struck by the
number and the variety of legal issues that still required a resolution," the
October 17, 2003
Posted to the web October 17, 2003
ZIMBABWE'S public transport is in a crisis and if nothing is done to improve
the situation, the sector will collapse.
"We have a big problem," says Gordon Christie, the managing director of
Tauya Coach Services, one of the country's leading public transport
"We have problems from A to Z. I can even spend the next three days talking
about them ."
The gravity of the transport crisis does not need a "rocket scientist" to
A number of operators have grounded their fleet and operators say only less
than 40 percent of the fleet is now left on the roads.
In the Willowvale, Prospect, Waterfalls and Ardibennie industrial areas,
yards of space stretching two kilometres can be seen jam-packed with broken
down buses, a reflection of the sorry state of the transport sector.
Operators are failing to access spares, fuel and a host of other vehicle
accessories, which require foreign currency.
The result points to a waste of resources.
Buses with no tyres, windscreens, engines and other spares lie idle, rusting
and are soon going reduced to scrap yard material with no economic value to
"I don't need to say much," says Batsirai Nyakuvambwa, a manager for the
Kukura Kurerwa Bus Company.
"There is a long stretch of broken down buses from there to there. And there
is another long one of buses in a queue for fuel at our next garage."
"Nyamweda (a bus operator) was here and he says if you want to see another
stretch of a grounded fleet you can come."
He says the situation is critical.
"The transport sector is collapsing and by next year many people will be
forced to walk to work."
The public transport system is now operating on a skeleton fleet largely due
to the unavailability of foreign currency to buy spares, the shortage of
fuel and rising operational costs.
"You do your costing today and tomorrow things change," says Christie.
"The goal posts are always changing. I don't see any solution in sight until
the economy stabilises."
Fuel shortages have gripped the country in the last four years because of
foreign currency shortages.
Most public transport operators say the allocation they were getting was
inadequate and at times they can spend three or more days waiting to get
"We get 4 000 litres of fuel a day to run 50 buses," says Christie.
"We consume 13 000 litres a day and we have to import 9 000 litres a day.
This is just a third of our requirement and we have to import 70 percent of
Operators say the landed cost of fuel is US 37 cents per litre, roughly $2
300 for those who import on their own and others who are unable to import
have to buy fuel at a rate of $2 600 a litre.
Nyakuvambwa says his company needed at least 30 000 litres a day for its 425
"We get 11 000 litres per day, that is if it comes," he remarked.
"The supply is erratic. We don't import because if it comes the price is
slightly higher and we cannot pass the cost to the commuter."
Almost every accessory that operators buy has an imported element, which
requires foreign currency.
This ranges from spares, batteries, aluminium, tyres, glass and an array of
other essential elements.
Operational costs were rising fast every day and operators say they are
failing to cope.
They have in most instances succumbed to the distress in the sector.
A single bus tyre now cost up to $3,5 million and an operator has to cough
up a whooping US$70 000 ($392 million) to buy a new bus in addition to
labour, overheads and other financing costs.
Interest rates had also risen sharply in recent months to more than 120
percent and if an operator borrowed $392 million to buy a bus, he would have
repaid nearly $1,3 billion over five years at this rate.
For a 35km trip to Chitungwiza, Christie says when financing costs are
factored in, it cost the operator up to $2 700 per km way above the $771
return per km using the $300 fares paid by commuters.
A bus in a reasonable condition, consume a litre of diesel for every 2,5km
travelled and using the Harare-Chitungwiza route, a single bus would burn 14
litres of diesel at a cost of $32 000 a trip, about $2 000 more than the
On average, an operator gets $30 000 a trip out of a bus carrying about 100
"The operating costs range between $30 to $40 per km and yet the commuter is
paying $10 per km in urban areas and only $30 per km in rural areas," says
"Its not viable to us."
There has been a sad development in the commuter bus sector where there has
been a flight of investors.
Operators were now investing heavily into the lucrative cross border truck
"The truck business is now the cash cow of the transport sector," says an
"We are using it to finance the loss making bus transport division, but we
can't continue financing loss making divisions."
Most operators were not too keen to talk about the truck business.
They feared this would flare a simmering battle between the Government,
which wants truckers to channel the large amounts of forex they received to
the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and truckers who are not so keen to release
foreign currency to the Government.
It's a Catch 22 situation.
"They want our foreign currency but when you apply to get foreign currency,
you won't even get a penny," says one operator.
The Government desperately requires every unit of foreign currency realised
by cross border truckers to finance fuel procurement, essential drugs and
other critical commodities.
What has irked the operators, are the bus fare controls, which they said had
resulted in operators failing to keep pace with rising costs of spares,
labour and other overheads.
The acute shortage of foreign currency, fuel and galloping inflation which
has soared in recent months to more than 430 percent has seen the public
transport system teetering towards total collapse.
"To break even, we need to charge $945 for a single trip to Chitungwiza,"
"Theoretically, the fare should now be around $2 000 just to make it
"Everything you put is foreign currency-based. The local Zimbabwe dollar
contents for salaries only and everything else is US dollar-based.
"Our local currency has depreciated sharply in the last four years from a
US$1 to ZD$16 four years ago to US$1 to ZD6 000 as of now on the black
"This is a decline of 375 times of what it was four years ago," Christie
Commuters should ideally pay 375 times more than they used to pay four years
Fares to most routes in and around the capital ranged from $1,50 to around
$5 a couple of years ago and when depreciation was factored in, commuters
should now be expected to pay at least $1 875 a trip.
But the Government argues differently.
It says operators' demands are at times unreasonable and that they could
absorb costs while charging reasonable fares.
Commuters have paid dearly as both the operators and the Government trade a
war of words.
Long queues, which were a common feature in the 1980s and the early 1990s
have resurfaced in recent months in most rural and urban parts of the
Commuters wait endlessly at bus terminuses, while others had resorted to
walking or cycling to and from home.
The operators added that there was no diesel and they had no option but to
ground their fleet.
"The alternative is even worse," says Sungayi Mhuriro of Zengeza.
"People have taken to walking or cycling long distances to their homes.
Those who can afford it pay two or three times more by using taxi cabs,
kombis or trucks which drop them half way."
"We have waited for new fares for a long time," says Nyakuvam-bwa.
"It's becoming increasingly difficult to sustain the transport business.
"Fares should be deregulated for the sector to cope with rising costs,
otherwise, the state will have nothing to control in the next two years or
so with the way things are going. There will not be any operators."
He says operators are withdrawing their buses from both rural and urban
routes citing viability problems.
"The crisis is there in rural areas too. We can't replace the fleet
anymore," he says.
"The cost of a new bus is way beyond the fares we are getting to enable us
to recoup our costs."
Christie says every month Tauya Coach Services pays its workers a total of
$500 million and this is rising every time workers demand new salaries.
"The future is very bleak for the industry," says Nyakuvambwa.
"People will walk to work in the coming few months. Workers in the industry
are also likely to lose their jobs as the industry is going down."
Most operators say they have had to pay workers huge amounts of money
although they were not doing a day's work.
"Last week, we had no fuel for three days but we still had to pay the
workers," Nyakuva-mbwa says.
"Many people will lose their jobs and this is the most worrying dimension to
The downside to this whole issue is that there is no solution in sight to
the transport woes.
No amount of political talk will solve the crisis. Populist statements are
not going to work either.
"What I'm telling you is not propaganda or lies. We are not in any way
working against the Government.
"But we are very transparent in our business and the facts we are giving you
are state of the industry as it stands today," said an operator.
"The quicker the Government realises the need for a lasting solution to the
crisis, the quicker will everybody get back on track. It's got to be a
lasting solution and not piece-meal solutions."
Zim tobacco up in smoke
17/10/2003 18:23 - (SA)
The government has previously said that 300,000 black farmers had been given land seized from whites in the past three years.
But a report prepared by Charles Utete, a close ally of President Robert Mugabe, puts the figure at 127,192, according to leaks in two local newspapers.
The report also said that bureaucratic failings and political interference had hindered the process.
One part of the land reform programme was meant to create 50,000 black commercial farmers but just 7,260 families have been given land under this scheme, according to the privately-owned Financial Gazette.
Government critics blame this on the disruption of the land reform programme to agriculture.
Mr Mugabe blames a plot by western powers opposed to his reforms.
The government has seized some 8.6m hectares of land on 4,324 farms, the report says.
It says that 1,323 white farmers remained on their land - far above the 400 estimated by their representatives.
Although the government published clear and well-defined criteria for who would lose their farms - absentee landowners, those who had multiple properties, those near already black areas - the lists of seized farms often did not respect these.
Even some properties already belonging to the state were listed for compulsory seizure.
Many of those properties seized had previously been given a certificate, saying that the state did not want to acquire them, the report said.
"Many of these (properties) would, not infrequently, then be delisted via the same Government Gazette and the same newspapers in which they had been listed in the first place," the report says.
These failings have resulted in many of the white farmers who have lost their land appealing to the courts.
"As the committee went about its work, it could not fail to be struck by the number and the variety of legal issues that still required a resolution," the report said.
Harare - Political uncertainty cast a shadow over Zimbabwe's
auctions, traditionally the country's biggest foreign currency earner, with
growers reporting expected sales of $191m as trading wound down Friday.
Growers blamed some of the lowest production levels in decades - just 78.5m
kg, down from 237m kg in 2000, when President Robert Mugabe began often
violent seizures of white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to
Oliver Gawe, spokesperson for the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association, worried that
international buyers would abandon the troubled Southern African country if
production fails to pick up.
"That could spell doom for the industry," Gawe said.
The government has confiscated some 5 000 white-owned farms over the past
three years, forcing hundreds of farmers off the land. Many of those who
remain won't risk planting the expensive cash crop.
"Farms are still being taken over, and many of them are tobacco farms," said
John Robertson, an economic consultant. "Farmers are worried they will not
be able to see crops through to harvest."
The Financial Gazette, owned by a group of pro-Mugabe businessmen, reported
this week that large swaths of productive land are lying fallow.
The paper, citing a leaked government audit, said just 134 000 black farmers
had been allocated plots under the redistribution program, compared to the
300 000 claimed by Mugabe. Of those, 40% had failed to work their land, the
Government officials were not immediately available to comment on the
Jerry Davidson, chief executive of the Commercial Farmers Union, called the
farm seizures "a chapter of broken promises that has killed production."
Unskilled black farmers were being "dumped in the bush" with no water,
housing or support to get the land working, Davidson said.
Small-scale black farmers produced just 12m kg of tobacco this season, Gawe
There was a sombre mood on the last full day of sales on Friday. Two small
groups of white farmers ate a moody breakfast at a restaurant overlooking
one of three cavernous trading floors, while an elderly black farmer in
patched clothes haggled with an official.