Thursday, 01 October 2009 22:10
CABINET is deeply divided over the debt and arrears clearance strategy
proposal currently under government consideration, as Zimbabwe battles to
extricate itself from a huge debt trap.
The division between Zanu PF and MDC ministers has left Finance
minister Tendai Biti's ambitious debt-relief proposal facing stiff
resistance from his hostile colleagues who claim it is "ill-advised",
informed sources said this week.
Biti has produced a comprehensive document on debt and arrears
clearance which is under government discussion.
The proposal has sparked a fierce row among cabinet ministers. The
situation is fuelled by clashes in cabinet over the International Monetary
Fund (IMF)'s US$500 million liquidity bailout for the country. Biti and
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono as well as ministers are fighting over the
control and utilisation of the money.
Sources said the political battle over Biti's latest hotly contested
proposal has deepened infighting within the shaky inclusive government.
Zimbabwe's total debt including domestic and external arrears is
US$5,7 billion, of which US$5,2 billion is external and US$413 million
domestic liabilities. The external debt of US$5,2 billion includes total
arrears of US$3,6 billion.
Zimbabwe currently needs up to US$10 billion for economic recovery. It
is officially estimated the country needs US$45 billion for the next 10
years to recover to 1997 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) levels.
In his document, Biti proposes four debt and arrears clearance
options - which entail using internal revenue inflows, resource-based debt
restructuring, Paris Club debt-rescheduling, and the Heavily Indebted Poor
Country Initiative (HIPC) - for consideration by cabinet. He however
suggested that HIPC was a better alternative because the other options did
not offer Zimbabwe a "holistic and viable approach to its debt and arrears
Biti is proposing that Zimbabwe should adopt HIPC because it has some
advantages which could reduce the country's debt burden by 90% after full
delivery of debt relief. He says this is based on experiences of 35
countries for which packages have already been approved and debt servicing
declined by 2,5% of GDP between 1999 and 2007.
Biti argues debt relief would reduce constraints on economic growth
and poverty reduction imposed by the debt-servicing burden. He says before
adopting HIPC, eligible countries were on average spending slightly more on
debt than on health, education and other social services. Biti further says
the huge debt overhang is increasing Zimbabwe's credit risk profile while
undermining investment and growth.
"Once the debt is forgiven, the sovereign risk profile is reduced and
the country becomes creditworthy thereby attracting serious investors into
the economy," his proposal says.
Biti yesterday defended his suggestion and challenged those opposed to
it to produce a viable alternative. "It's a very simple issue. We have a
debt of over US$5 billion largely caused by mismanagement, corruption and
theft. Zimbabwe can't pay this debt. It would be immoral to use our little
resources to pay debts when our schools, hospitals and roads are in a bad
state," Biti said. "Those opposed to the debt relief strategy must come up
with an alternative. I need a viable alternative solution, not their
However, Zanu PF ministers said they were determined to oppose the
proposal. Their resistance is apparently informed by advice they have
received from senior Reserve Bank officials who were uncomfortable with the
issue. The central bank officials' advice note has found purchase among Zanu
PF ministers now mobilising to shoot down the proposal.
Zanu ministers interviewed this week said they were opposed to the
plan because it would turn Zimbabwe into "a desperate basket case". They
said HIPC would worsen the current situation in the long term and should be
blocked in cabinet.
"The problem is that HIPC would open the floodgates to foreign
interference, not just in our economic affairs but also politics," a senior
Zanu PF minister said. "It's likely to be used by Western countries as an
instrument of regime change."
Another minister said he was opposed to the initiative because it
would "humiliate us beyond measure".
The document by top central bank officials, circulated among
ministers, says Zimbabwe could ill-afford to declare itself a highly
indebted poor country and publicly announce this because that would increase
its "vulnerability" and credit profile risk.
Zanu PF ministers said the other problem was that HIPC depended on
multilateral creditors (international financial institutions such as the IMF
and World Bank), bilateral creditors (Paris Club) and commercial creditors
(London Club) which are controlled by countries that have "imposed
sanctions" on Zimbabwe.
"To the extent that predominantly the same countries who have imposed
sanctions on Zimbabwe are the ones that have a say on whether or not the
country would get help after the self-declaration of HIPC, there is no logic
in expecting them to show mercy and debt forgiveness," the advice note to
"To the contrary, the mere announcement by Zimbabwe that it deems
itself as a HIPC country would most likely energise those countries to even
intensify their sanctions in a bid to finally collapse the economy."
Zanu PF ministers and monetary authorities claim "Zimbabwe is too rich
to be poor". They argue the country has "abundant natural resources" and a
"world-class" workforce to declare itself as a highly indebted poor country
and go around the world carrying a "begging bowl".
But Biti said their claims were "fiction". "This is fiction, it's a
myth. The reality is we are a poor little struggling failed state," Biti
said. "Poverty is there, even in leading oil-producing countries in Africa
such as Nigeria and Angola, it's there in South Africa and China, which has
been the fastest growing economy in the world for many years."
Thursday, 01 October 2009 22:00
ZANU PF is in turmoil ahead of the party's congress in December as
rival factions fight to control the central committee, the party's supreme
decision-making body, and other critical structures.
The escalating power struggles in Zanu PF have left the party further
divided and weakened.
As the infighting intensifies, the battle for power has shifted to
Mashonaland West, the latest theatre of political warfare in the party.
The Mashonaland West provincial executive has now threatened to resign
if politburo members Ignatius Chombo and Webster Shamu succeed in imposing
their candidates in the Women's League, particularly for the powerful
position of secretary of finance. This has raised the stakes in the
jostling for control.
According to minutes of a meeting held by the provincial executive on
September 28, the executive agreed to resign if the politburo members
continue to interfere and bulldoze their way through.
"Instead of our politburo members discussing the fate of the party in
the province, they are suspending the workhorse of the party like (Sarah)
Mahoka (Hurungwe East MP)," the minutes say.
"If they want to rule this province alone, we are prepared to
surrender all our party provincial positions and go back to the cells. Who
is the leader of the province? Is it the chairman or politburo members who
were appointed by the president or the chairman who was elected by the
The meeting reversed a decision by the party's coordinating committee
in the province to suspend central committee member Jimayi Muduvuri and
The suspensions were announced at a meeting attended by senior
officials who included Chombo and Shamu. The meeting was attended by only
two of the six top provincial members. The minutes say Mashonaland West
provincial chairman John Mafa did not call for the coordinating committee
meeting and thus it was null and void.
The power struggle in the province has become vicious ahead of
congress in December and is becoming increasingly explosive due to rising
tribal tensions. Politburo members such as Nathan Shamuyarira, Shamu and
Chombo were accused by rivals of trying to flush out Karangas from the
provincial executive and district levels to replace them with Mugabe's
A legislator in that province, who preferred not to be named, told the
Zimbabwe Independent this week that at a recent meeting held in the
province, Shamuyarira and Chombo allegedly told them to remove all the
Karangas from top positions in the executive.
The main targets, he said, were Mafa, Mahoka and Muduvuri, as well
other influential Karangas.
"Shamuyarira and Chombo told us to remove the Karangas - Mafa, Mahoka,
Muduvuri and others in the districts. They said that they did not want the
Karangas there and provinces like Mashonaland Central had already removed
them, while Mashonaland East was in the process of doing so."
The MP claimed politburo members Saviour Kasukuwere and Nicholas Goche
were leading the campaign for ethnic purges in the region. Paul Mangwana was
hounded out of Mashonaland West because he is Karanga and was forced to
retreat back to Masvingo.
The September 28 minutes quote Mashonaland West provincial secretary
for lands Themba Mliswa as saying Goche and Kasukuwere had confirmed "they
dislike the Karangas and the Ndebeles". He said for example in Hurungwe
District Council a Karanga was elected chairman but Chombo kicked him out.
The legislator said there was a plot to replace Mafa, who is linked to
Karangas, with Patrick Zhuwawo, a Zezuru, to ensure Mugabe's nephew becomes
a member of the central committee.
The Chombo camp is accused of trying to block Mahoka, a Karanga, from
becoming the Women's League finance secretary to pave way for Zezurus,
senator Ratidzo Gava, Zhuwawo's wife Barbara or Virginia Muchenje. Sources
said Chombo has approached Mugabe to seek support for their candidates.
Tensions between the Karangas and the Zezurus trace back to the
liberation war where ethnic purges were common.
Chombo and Shamu are said to belong to retired army commander General
Solomon Mujuru's camp, while most of the current Mashonaland West executive
members are aligned to the Emmerson Mnangagwa (pictured) faction. Mujuru,
who is behind his wife Vice- President Joice Mujuru's ascendancy to the
presidium, is seen as a Zanu PF kingmaker.
The two Zanu PF main camps mirror the political divide between Mugabe's
Zezuru sub-Shona group, which occupies Mashonaland Central, East and West
provinces in north and northern-eastern Zimbabwe and the Karanga ethnic
group, the biggest Shona sub-group, which occupies mainly Masvingo and
Midlands provinces in the south.
For many in the Zezuru faction, the Karangas headed by Mnangagwa are
seen as political rivals.
Since power fell into the hands of Mugabe and Zezurus, the Karangas
have been complaining of political marginalisation.
After the 2004 congress, none of the top five party posts were
occupied by Karangas, despite the fact they make up 35% of the population,
with Zezurus accounting for 25%. Mugabe has also been accused of loading
cabinet and other state institutions with Zezurus. This has all combined to
create serious ethnic tensions in Zanu PF which are now playing out in
Mashonaland West province.
Thursday, 01 October 2009 21:58
MEDIA and Information deputy minister Jameson Timba yesterday slammed
his boss Webster Shamu for appointing new board members to various state-run
media institutions without consulting him. Some of the new appointees failed
their interviews for the Zimbabwe Media Commission dismally. Timba only saw
the full list of new board members for six parastatals under his ministry in
the Herald yesterday morning.
Sources who watched the main ZTV news bulletin with the deputy
minister on Wednesday told the Zimbabwe Independent that he was visibly
shocked when some of the names were announced.
"The minister was totally shocked that new board members had been
appointed to such important parastatals without his knowledge and without
his input," a source said.
"Minister Shamu did not see the benefit of my wise counsel in this
matter," Timba said.
"Ordinarily, any minister benefits from having a deputy to consult and
advise him or her. It is, however, the prerogative of that minister to seek
advice (or not) from his deputy."
MDC-T spokesman Nelson Chamisa criticised the appointments saying they
"The people were fished from Zanu PF rivers and ponds when there are
other rivers. These characters have been appointed on a Zanu PF card," he
Zimbabwe Union of Journalists secretary-general Foster Dongozi said
there was no consultation within the inclusive government.
Meanwhile, Chamisa and media analysts have lambasted the
militarisation of Zimbabwe Newspapers, the Broadcasting Authority of
Zimbabwe (BAZ), Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH), Transmedia, Kingstons
and New Ziana boards, which they described as sinister.
In addition to the appointment of several retired military personnel
to the six state-run media institutions, the most shocking appointment, the
analysts said, was that of former chairperson of the disbanded Media and
Information Commission, Tafataona Mahoso, to chair BAZ which is responsible
for issuing broadcasting licences.
"This portrays a sinister motive.The way Mahoso has behaved
disqualifies him from any institution, more so BAZ. He does not even qualify
to be chairman of a burial society," Chamisa said.
Mahoso is responsible for the closure of four publications, The Daily
News, The Tribune, Daily News on Sunday and Weekly Times.
He came near the bottom of the list of candidates in his interview for
the Zimbabwe Media Commission in August.
The director of the Zimbabwe chapter of the Media Institute of
Southern Africa (MISA-Zimbabwe), Takura Zhangazha said the appointments were
arbitrary, more political than professional, undemocratic and unnecessary.
"The army has no business in civil bodies. Because of the negative
perception of the army, it would have been preferable not to appoint them to
those boards. Militarising the media does not help anyone," he said.
National coordinator of the National Constitutional Assembly Ernest
Mudzengi said it was clear that Zanu PF opposed media reforms.
"These appointments turn the clock back in terms of reforms. I am
concerned about the militarisation of civil institutions. What is the point
of having so many military people?" Mudzengi asked.
"Is it not a confirmation that Zanu PF is still holding the reins of
power? As far as the military is concerned, it is for its own benefit?"
Dongozi said the military had no business in the media.
"Journalists don't want gun-toters, serving or not, in their
newsrooms," he said.
Thursday, 01 October 2009 21:23
THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC has proposed that a new constitution
should introduce proportional representation in parliament, limit terms of
office of the president and prime minister, abolish capital punishment and
reintroduce dual citizenship, among other human rights and governance
issues. Zimbabwe has embarked on a constitution-making process in line with
the global political agreement signed last September between President
Robert Mugabe and MDC leaders Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara.
The process has been dogged by financial constraints and disagreements
on whether or not the Kariba Draft, crafted by Zanu PF and the two MDC
formations, should be used as the major reference document.
Zanu PF wants the draft to be the sole reference document while the
MDC formations oppose that. It was against this background that the MDC-T
came up with a position paper which the Zimbabwe Independent obtained this
In the paper circulated to the party's MPs, the MDC said it had
developed key positions on what will "self-evidently be contested issues" in
the ongoing constitution-making process.
"These positions are internal MDC positions which it does not intend
to impose on anyone, but as a significant political player, it hopes will be
respected and taken into consideration in the constitution-making process,"
the paper said.
The MDC proposed that the new constitution should guarantee the right
to citizenship of everyone born in Zimbabwe and to everyone who has acquired
citizenship through secondary vehicles such as residence or marriage.
"The Constitution of Zimbabwe should allow for dual citizenship at the
very minimum," the paper said. "The Constitution of Zimbabwe should
guarantee that once citizenship is granted, it cannot be taken away."
Dual citizenship was outlawed in 1980.
The party said it wanted a constitution with a "strong and expanded"
Bill of Rights that provides for both primary and secondary rights.
"The MDC believes that the right to freedom of life should be absolute
and therefore rejects capital punishment," the paper said. "In addition, the
right to freedom from discrimination, given our history of discrimination
and intolerance, must be broad to include the protection of personal
preferences. The MDC also feels very strongly about gender equality. Gender
equality must not be a slogan, but respected. Above this, a woman must have
preferences over her body."
The Bill of Rights, the party proposed, should be entrenched in the
constitution and no parliament should enact laws that dilute the bill.
"More importantly, all provisions of the Bill of Rights cannot be
amended or altered save through a referendum," the MDC proposed.
On the emotive land issue, the MDC said the 2000 land reform had
failed to produce a perfect outcome and, therefore, there must be a
rationalisation done through an act of parliament that provides an audit, a
maximum number of farms and a cogent form of redistribution based on the
principles of need and ability.
"The MDC believes that issues of rationalisation of land must be done
through a land commission established through an act of parliament," said
the position paper. "Having established the need for land reform, the
constitution should recognise the right of individuals to own land and
indeed the existence of private property rights."
The party said under the new constitution, executive power should
reside in the cabinet, the president and the prime minister.
The president, the MDC proposed, should be elected directly by the
people and should in turn appoint a prime minister from a party that
commands a majority in parliament.
"No person holding the office of the president and prime minister
should do so for more than two terms," says the position paper. "Parliament
must have oversight on executive powers."
The MDC has proposed the retaining of a bicameral parliament with the
powers to impeach the president. It said 50% of MPs in both the House of
Assembly and Senate should be women.
"Election to the lower House of Assembly shall be done on a hybrid
system of first-past-the-post and proportional representation electoral
systems provided that the principle of gender must guide the selection and
appointment of candidates," the party said. "The election of the upper house
(Senate) shall be done on a proportional representation based on provinces."
The party wants the constitution to guarantee the electorate's right
of recall for MPs.
The MDC proposes the establishment -- through acts of parliament -- of
independent commissions such as Human and Peoples' Rights; Gender; the
Auditor-General; Independent Electoral, Anti-Corruption; Land; Development;
Labour; Children's Rights; and the Office of the Public Prosecutor.
The party said the institutions should be independent and subject only
to the constitution and the law.
"No person or organ of state may interfere with the functioning of
these institutions," the position paper says. "These institutions are
accountable to parliament, and must report on their activities and the
performance of their functions to parliament at least once a year."
On elections, the party said the new constitution should guarantee
that they are held by an Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) whose
members would be selected by MPs after interviews, and should have limited
terms of office and should enjoy the same protection and independence as
The IEC, proposed the MDC, must be solely responsible for delimitation
"The integrity of the voters' roll must be protected constitutionally
and must be subject to scrutiny by citizens and parliament," the MDC
proposed. "Election dates must be defined in the constitution, for example
in the United States every individual knows the dates for presidential and
senatorial elections to be the second week of November every fourth year."
The party also made proposals on how public finance should be handled.
It proposed that there must be an independent financial public
protector to oversee government finances and to receive reports about the
handling of the funds.
All receipts into the state and all expenditures, the MDC said, must
be put in the Consolidated Revenue Fund which would be controlled and
governed by parliamentary approval and oversight.
"There must be an independent Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) whose
sole mandate is the determination of monetary policy and inflation targeting
as defined by treasury," the party suggested.
"The governor of the RBZ must be a technocrat and financial expert
appointed by parliament purely on financial competence, expertise and
The MDC also said it wanted the new constitution to entrench the
independence of the judiciary.
Thursday, 01 October 2009 20:26
THE inclusive government has so far performed well in trying to
resolve the country's multi-layered crisis.
This was revealed in a survey conducted by the Mass Public Opinion
Institute (MPOI) in May to measure the public assessment on how the
inclusive government was performing. Two thirds of the respondents "strongly
agree" that the coalition government which was formed last year has
performed well so far.
The inclusive government agreement was signed by Zanu PF's President
Robert Mugabe and MDC formation leaders Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur
The survey was based on a randomly selected national probability
sample of 1 200 respondents representing a cross-section of adults aged 18
years and above.
A sample of this size yields a margin of error of plus or minus 3% at
a 95% confidence level.
The survey shows that an overwhelming proportion of 87% are upbeat
about the performance of the inclusive government, giving it a positive
rating, while 8% of the respondents said the new government was not working.
About 78% of the total respondents said they trusted Tsvangirai,
compared to 36% whose trust lay with Mugabe.
The MDC-T National Council this month held a meeting in Bulawayo and
resolved that the party should engage the people on whether the party should
remain in the inclusive government or pull out.
Going by the result of the MPOI survey, the majority are supportive of
the inclusive government and might possibly tell the opposition party to
hang in there.
The survey also exposes a distinct regional divide.
The inclusive government receives its greatest support in Mashonaland
West which had 74% supporting the GNU, followed by Harare with 73%,
Mashonaland East 72% and Midlands 71%.
The Mashonaland provinces were the worst hit by election violence and
other related disturbances during the pre and post-election period in March
and June 28.
Analysts say the people in those provinces were keen to embrace any
solution that would deliver them from the dark past.
However, provinces with the lowest support were Matabeleland and
Manicaland provinces with 53% in Matabeleland North, 54% in Bulawayo, 58% in
Matabeleland South and 55% in Manicaland.
A political analyst, Eldred Masunungure who is also the director of
Mass Public Opinion Institute, said the reason could be because people in
the Western parts of the country, mostly affected by the Gukurahundi
massacres in 1980s, yearn for a government that excludes Zanu PF which they
blamed for the killing of more than 20 000 people during that period.
"The people of Matabeleland have all the reasons to be sceptical about
this inclusive government," Masunungure said. "They have been dealing with
this devil (Zanu PF) in the past and they know what they are capable of.
They still feel that some sections in the new dispensation had a hand in the
Gukurahundi massacres and should not have been involved."
He added that the people of Bulawayo desire an alternative answer to
Zimbabwe's political crisis.
Of the people surveyed, 82% gave credit to the inclusive government
for controlling inflation.
Figures from the Central Statistic Office show that the country's
inflation figures have dropped from 11,2 million percent in October last
year to 0,4% in July this year.
Thursday, 01 October 2009 18:13
COULD the clash between Harare Mayor Muchadei Masunda and Local
Government minister Ignatius Chombo be a build-up to a similar situation
that resulted in the dismissal of former Mayor of Harare Elias Mudzuri?
Should Harare residents brace for another Chombo-appointed commission, like
the one which was headed by Sekesai Makwavarara, to run the city as the
conflict between the two continues to deepen?
Mudzuri was dismissed on the grounds of being "incompetent" after he
clashed on several issues with Chombo regarding the running of affairs at
This time around it is Chombo versus Masunda.
A number of issues have been at the centre of the fight between
Masunda and Chombo and as the saying goes "when elephants fight it's the
grass that suffers" - the residents.
Residents are confused about what is exactly going on and who is
supposed to run their affairs.
At the moment the biggest clash involves the Mupedzanhamo flea market,
which the council argues should be closed because some of the people
operating there were undeserving and should be removed.
They also argue that the market stalls should be reallocated with
people like widows, the unemployed and elderly benefiting and not government
officials, business executives and former civic leaders, who allegedly
dominate the current list.
This prompted Chombo to interfere by forming a five-member committee
chaired by director of Civil Protection Unit in his ministry Madzudzo
Pawadyira to probe the operations at Mupedzanhamo and other city markets in
Chombo was reported to have said that only a government-appointed
committee had the powers to close the market if need be and the council has
since lost the fight.
Mupedzanhamo has attracted attention from a number of politicians such
as Energy deputy minister Hubert Nyanhongo, and Zanu PF politburo member
Oppah Muchinguri who have been accused of meddling in council affairs.
Asked this week by the Zimbabwe Independent about his role in the
council, Nyanhongo said as a politician he was representing his people.
Nyanhongo said: "Mayor Masunda should know that the stalls at
Mupedzanhamo were there before him. He has no right to tell us politicians
to stop defending our people. It is our duty as politicians to make sure
that our people are protected, not harassed and mishandled by other
"The idea is that if they want to remove people from flats in Mbare
they should have a provision where to accommodate people while they do their
renovations - same with the stalls."
He said Masunda should not abuse the inclusive government to do
whatever he wanted.
"He should stop thinking like a small boy," Nyanhongo said.
"If he continues doing that we will tell the people to chase him out
of our office and we have the mandate and power to do so. The Mayor is
nothing without the people. That office belongs to the people. He should be
proud of Harare residents."
The dualisation of the US$80 million Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo Expressway
(Airport Road) and construction of the US$40 million Warren Hills Golf
Estate housing project are other issues which Chombo and council are at
Council resolved that the projects be put on hold because proper
procedures were not followed and that the deals were crafted by people with
vested interests. But in revoking the council resolutions, Chombo said the
deals would benefit Harare residents.
In July the mayor and the minister differed on the calibre of special
interest councillors with Masunda describing them as lacking in capacity and
urging Chombo to appoint people with the requisite skills like strong
engineering and accounting backgrounds.
However, Chombo said he was happy with his appointments saying all had
degrees in different fields such as business, finance and law while others
were accomplished farmers and businesspeople.
There were also clashes over payment of the water bills in Mabvuku and
Tafara, with even the Minster of Water Sipepa Nkomo coming to Chombo's side
and declaring that: "I am the authority on water. It does not matter who
But Chombo has since denied interfering in council business arguing
that it was a "correction of errors".
Speaking to the Independent on Wednesday, Masunda said it was "not all
the time that Chombo has got his way".
He said: "We managed to bring back Engineer Christopher Zvobgo and
Misheck Mubvumbi despite calls by the minister not to have them back. He is
the one who created the problem that culminated in the dismissal of the two.
We implemented them without a problem."
He said a committee of the council was going to work with Chombo's
committee on the Mupedzanhamo saga.
"A relevant committee of the city council is now going to work closely
with the committee put together by the ministry. The police are also going
to get involved in the restoration and maintenance of order at the stalls,"
Masunda said. "We are not going back on our quest but we want to do so in
conjunction with what has been put in place. Clashing with ministers -
whether they are Zanu PF or MDC - are not considerations in my mind. In my
mind, the interests that are at stake are those that involve the
He said Chombo had no business to get involved in a purely
administrative matter while he suspected that Nyanhongo's involvement could
be because of personal interests.
"In the Ministry of Housing we interact with the permanent secretary,
director of urban development and director of planning," Masunda said. "The
minister should not descend into the arena concerning the micro issues of
the council. Nyanhongo used to be a councillor. He could well be one of the
beneficiaries. I don't know."
However, the mayor was reluctant to discuss whether Chombo's
counterattacks on council resolutions were acts of sabotage.
Masunda said: "We are very clear on what we are doing. It is for the
long-term interest of the city. Chombo, as a person who is in charge of
local government, should be an integral part."
"The unfortunate thing in our country is that people have tended to
mix up service delivery and politics.
There is no political will to enforce the city by-laws. In our quest
to restore sanity we have to be mindful of the human side of the equation.
That justice is not only done but is seen to be done," said Masunda.
He said there is a list of people owning the stalls from the
department of housing and community services which the councillors were
Masunda said: "I have advised the councillors that the time has come
and gone for you to make general allegations. I told them to go through the
printout and produce the names of the individuals who have had the tables or
stalls allocated to them for reasons that are not clearly indicated.
"It emerged those special interest councillors, Kizito Kuchekwa and
Lisbon Marufu, appointed by Minister Chombo, are some of the beneficiaries
who do not qualify for allocation of a market stall."
Thursday, 01 October 2009 18:08
ONCE upon a time Agriculture minister Joseph Made took a helicopter
ride to assess the situation on farms and told the nation that Zimbabwe
would have a bumper maize harvest. By the end of that agricultural season,
Made's comments came back to haunt him. The season was one of the worst the
country had experienced. After that humiliating incident of pulling figures
from thin air, he was discredited. Now, agriculture permanent secretary
Ngoni Masoka is at it again.
He told reporters in the capital on Wednesday that Zimbabwe would
produce enough food to feed itself.
Masoka said: "Last year we were assisted by South Africa with R300
million in December. We needed seeds inputs and fertilisers. We are more
prepared this year than we were last year."
Annually Zimbabwe needs 2,2 million tonnes of cereals, according to
Masoka. Of the 2,2 million tonnes, 1,8 million tonnes is consumed by
Zimbabweans while the rest goes to stockfeeds.
But Commercial Farmers Union vice-president Charles Taffs feels
government is setting the bar too high for itself given the lack of
He says Zimbabwe is not prepared although the rainy season is looming.
Taffs told delegates at an agriculture conference in the capital this
week that Zimbabwe is headed for another farming disaster saying resources -
mainly inputs - are not yet in place.
He said: "The rains are upon us and we are still talking about
agricultural finance. I have been all over the country and we are in an
unprepared state. We need to be real with ourselves. We will have a deficit
and we need to be prepared for that."
Taffs' warning, however, fell on deaf ears with Masoka arguing "we are
ahead of time".
Masoka's argument is premised on the fact that Zimbabwe only got
funding from South Africa in December but still managed to have enough food
for the country this year.
He argued: "We only got the money on 20 December last year and got the
green light to disburse the money on Christmas Eve and we did not go wrong."
From the money, Masoka said US$24 million went into inputs, excluding
Taffs said although government has secured funding from the World Bank
and donors amounting to around US$300 million, it was not enough to achieve
its target. According to Taffs, in the good years the agricultural sector
would spend at least US$1,3 billion to produce enough food.
But Farmers Development Trust chief executive officer Lovegot Tendengu
backed Masoka at the conference saying there is nothing to worry about.
Against such a background, analysts said government could be gambling
with public confidence should their projections go awry as what happened in
Asked if capacity utilisation had improved on resettled farms, Masoka
denied there were under-utilitised farms.
"There are many farms that are doing very well. In fact, much better
than the (performance of) former owners. I can take you around these farms
if you want. There is no empirical evidence to suggest that utilisation is
lower," Masoka argued.
The World Bank said it would channel US$70 million through civil
society this agricultural season and is optimistic the money will be put to
But Taffs believes the agricultural sector is struggling because there
is lack of tenure of security after the chaotic land reform exercise of
2000. Owing to lack of tenure and apparent property rights violations,
Zimbabwe cannot access foreign lines of credit.
So far Zimbabwe has secured only US$1 billion in foreign aid and lines
of credit from African financial services group such as Afreximbank and
African Development Bank.
Farmers unions said lack of funding was an area of concern this season
with speaker after speaker highlighting the need for banks to provide
A Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union official said his members were
struggling to access funds from banks.
He said: "Our members in Bindura have been denied funding by banks and
most of them are now ready to place their houses as collateral."
Capacity utilisation in the fertiliser industry is said to be around
35% on average.
Annually, Zimbabwe needs 500 000 tonnes of fertiliser. Top dressing of
300 000 tonnes is needed while the remaining 200 000 tonnes of compounds is
fed to the soil.
The electrolysis plant at Sable Chemicals has been shut, but industry
players said they would import all ammonia requirements this year.
Ammonia deliveries are limited because of transportation problems,
industry players said.
The National Railways of Zimbabwe has not been a reliable service
provider for years and road infrastructure is in a shambles.
Former agriculture permanent secretary Simon Pazvakavambwa gave an
honest account of the problem dogging the sector and what went wrong.
He believes farmers have been so crippled by the dolling out of free
inputs that they cannot be proactive.
Government over the years gave inputs to farmers in a bid to stimulate
output in agriculture, but the trick did not work. Instead the resettled
farmers abused government fuel, fertiliser and seeds.
"We spoiled our farmers so much that we disabled them," Pazvakavambwa
He added that government's monopoly through the Grain Marketing Board
worsened the struggling farmers' plight in the face of hyperinflation over
National Farmers Union president Monica Chinamasa says farmers should
ensure that there is food security at a household level next year.
Thursday, 01 October 2009 18:03
SOMETIME early this year I was in an audience where the speaker was
Professor Jonathan Moyo .
This was in a lecture theatre at some university here in Zimbabwe.
Moyo was speaking on the interesting topic of "Outstanding achievements that
have been made by Africans" and also on "The current political situation in
This covered chievements in almost every sphere of human endeavour,
such as sport, music, science, academia and so on. As usual Moyo gave an
interesting, amusing, well researched, thought-provoking and intelligent
speech. He is quite an intelligent guy, all things being equal.
During question time I asked him whether he was going to remain an
independent MP or was he going to join one of the political parties? Moyo
said that from his experience in politics one contributes more as a member
of a team than playing it alone.
He went on to say that he will one day join a party but he did not
know which one. Then he went on to cynically remark that he did not think
that Zanu PF could win an election in the foreseeable future! So I was
naturally taken aback when three weeks ago rumours started circulating about
him rejoining Zanu PF.
I was much more awestruck by the article which Moyo published in the
issue of the Zimbabwe Independent (September 25), in the analysis column.
Moyo went to great lengths (actually went to town) to justify the reason why
he has rejoined Zanu PF. He calls it his "right to freedom of association".
"What business is it to Crisis in Zimbabwe or anyone else that this
writer is rejoining the very same Zanu PF party." retorts Moyo.
This kind of justification from the professor (of all people) is lame
duck if not downright pedestrian and I am sure that even Moyo realises that
he was treading on very thin political ice when he made that statement.
I have no problem with Moyo rejoining Zanu PF. He can rejoin it a
million times over or till the cows come home, if he wants to. That's his
"right to freedom of association". However, what beats me is why Moyo has
to justify his rejoining of his old party. Could it be that he is being
"pricked" by conscience? Yes everyone has a conscience (though hard it is to
believe with some people). Why else is Moyo justifying his "right to freedom
of association?" Conscience, double jeopardy or good old political
opportunism? It is usually very lonely when you are out there alone in the
Perhaps Moyo should be reminded that, like all other rights, the
"right to freedom of association" is mandatorily accompanied by
responsibilities: responsibility to others and to one's self. Is Moyo
responsible enough to look straight into the eyes of the Tsholotsho North
electorate and say "rejoining Zanu PF is my "right to freedom of association
and after all my principles have never differed from those of Zanu PF"?
I can't help wondering what those principles are and I am sure the
Tsholotsho North voters must be wondering too. There is a big difference
between changing one's mind, doing a turnabout and being a turncoat. The
first implies a reconsideration of one's point of view/stance with the help
of hindsight. T
he second implies a complete capitulation of one's former position
while a turncoat is a downright despicable cheat or sell-out. I wonder which
of the three Moyo identifies with.
Moyo often presents his arguments in a scholarly and confident way and
I have a sneaky admiration of the way he does it even when I don't agree
with the content of the argument, but in his article Moyo ends up with egg
on his face. The whole thing about justification leaves one with a bad taste
in the mouth. It is often said that "politics is a dirty game". That's not
quite correct because I think that it is the dirty politicians who make the
Pandit Nehru, the first post-independence prime minister of India,
once remarked on the contradiction of politics in that "quite often wise
people make some very foolish decisions".
Moyo should be humble enough and be responsible enough to make a
public apology to the Tsholotsho North electorate for misleading them,
right to freedom of association or not!
As for the wisdom (or lack of it) of rejoining Zanu PF, my opinion is
that unfortunately for Moyo, this is a case of turkeys voting for an early
Nhachi is a professor in clinical pharmacology and toxicology at the
UZ and is contactable on 0912318852/ 04 705581.
By Charles Nhachi
Thursday, 01 October 2009 17:06
UGLY scenes of violence at the recent Zanu PF Women's League
conference where women fought each other for positions have puzzled many,
raising fundamental questions of the motivation behind supporting a party
that has been described by analysts as a "gravy train" or a "sunset party"
or even a "shelf political party".
Is there something more to Zanu PF that ordinary people are not aware
of? What is it that people are clamouring for? Is there something left in
that party which everyone there seems to be competing for?
The examination of these questions is necessary as Zimbabweans prepare
for the next general election to be held after a constitution-making process
to be complete towards the end of next year.
In October 2006 former Information minister and independent Tsholotsho
North MP Professor Jonathan Moyo, who has since applied to rejoin Zanu PF,
attempted to unravel why some people will never leave the party.
Moyo said: "(President) Mugabe is now a leader of a shelf political
party that exists only in name even with those seemingly high numbers in
parliament because, in real terms, the hearts and minds of the bulk of its
members have ideologically emigrated to a new all-inclusive third way beyond
current party boundaries, the so-called third force which in fact is a
people's movement, such that Zanu PF membership is now only for strategic
survival purposes in practical and not ideological terms which are
Are they really hanging in there for survival purposes?
Academic and former newspaper publisher Ibbo Mandaza says he was
baffled by what happened at the Women's League conference as he could not
understand why women fought for positions in a party that now has nothing to
offer and no capacity to pursue, articulate or defend its own ideological
He said there were two elements that could possibly explain this --
fear and patronage -- which he pointed out are the two pillars of Zanu PF.
"Violence and fear of violence - because of this people tend to keep
quiet. If you make too much noise, you can lose your livelihood -- this
includes your farm or businesses - and cars given to you. Because of fear of
being exposed to violence, they will not get out," Mandaza said.
"There is fear of being an outcast and fear of losing their patronage.
Zanu PF has survived on patronage. The question we need to ask ourselves is
what these people who are fighting for positions are going to get in
return - cars, cars, cars and/or a farm or an opportunity to use the state
to make money."
He said a lot of top Zanu PF people or businesspeople aligned to the
party have used the state to amass wealth and will continue to support it to
protect their businesses.
Moyo concurred when he said: "The rot in Zanu PF smells in government
where the cabinet has become no better than a status club in which
ministerial positions have no strategic policy value as they have become
instruments of patronage to gain personal access to national resources and
the illusion of power and influence."
One Zanu PF politburo member said his party has created this belief
that personalities are more important than institutions, laws and even
Under this culture, he said leaders owed their existence to political
patronage and loyalty to the President.
This, he said allows one to use state or public resources in exchange
for support and holding divergent views can be treasonous and punishable
through arrests or harassment or relegation into the political wilderness
People like Mandaza know what can happen when one decides to challenge
Zanu PF. He is currently embroiled in a land ownership wrangle with a major
in the Zimbabwe National Army because he contested last year's House of
Assembly elections under the ticket of Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD) movement.
About 119 hectares of his land, including a dam under construction,
has been acquired by the state and offered to Colleta Muzonzini. Mandaza now
faces possible arrest for illegally occupying the piece of land in Mazowe
and he has said the move to acquire his land, which he bought, was
Mandaza is not the only one whose land has been under threat. Another
former publisher and Zanu PF legislator, Kindness Paradza, almost lost his
farm in Makonde after he was fired from Zanu PF in 2004.
This, analysts said, was prompted by his criticism of the draconian
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act in parliament. But
according to Zanu PF, it was because he failed to produce a membership card.
While Moyo almost lost his farm after he was also fired from Zanu PF
and cabinet for standing for parliamentary elections as an independent
candidate, defying a party decision to reserve the Tsholotsho seat for a
Mutumwa Mawere is another business mogul whose fall-out with Zanu PF
resulted in him losing his empire after he was specified by the state.
According to analysts, Mawere was a front for some Zanu PF bigwigs and Moyo
described him in December 2008 in an online publication as a "Zanu PF
businessman benefiting from Zanu PF misrule".
Political analyst Ernest Mudzengi said people, especially those at the
top, will not leave Zanu PF because they need to maintain their positions in
order to maintain their priviledges.
"These guys fear because their luxury lifestyles are sustained by the
positions they hold. Even their businesses will crumble if they leave the
party because they are bad business managers who have survived through abuse
of state funds and state machinery," he said.
At Independence in 1980, most if not all had nothing but 29 years
later, they are some of the richest people owning most of the land,
residential stands and businesses in the country. They owe everything they
have to Zanu PF.
While the bigwigs have amassed wealth through corruption, what is in
it for ordinary Zanu PF supporters, who seem to worship and idiolise their
How does a portrait of someone so unpopular continue to adorn the
walls of so many public places?
Analysts have described Zanu PF as a way of life, a culture that can
be referred to as "Zanuism" -- a cult. It seems, like many North Koreans,
Zimbabweans have slowly been sucked into the cult of Mugabe.
Even at a time when there was famine, a collapsed economy,
hyper-inflation and an extremely poor standard of living, this hero worship
could still not be dampened.
The politburo member said in this Zanuism culture, the leaders demand
blind followers who do not challenge their authority.
He said Mugabe's supporters do not realise the extent to which they
have been manipulated and exploited.
How many youths were used in rural areas to beat up and torture their
own relatives and communities during the election campaigns, without
questioning such orders?
"These people are excessively zealous and have unquestioning
commitment to their leader and they regard his word -- ideology, beliefs and
practices -- as the truth and as law."
How people think, act and feel is determined by the leadership --
"that's our Zanu PF culture," he said.
This was evidenced by the enthusiasm and idolisation of Mugabe at the
just ended Zanu PF youth conference, where one could feel the energy and
excitement when Mugabe arrived at the venue at the City Sports Centre and
when he left, as the youths shouted "Mugabe, Mugabe, Mugabe".
In December 2007, Moyo, who now wants Mugabe to be life president,
wrote: "Because Zanu PF's irresponsibility has caused it to fail to protect
the national interest and because Mugabe is apparently determined to thrive
under that failure in pursuit of his personal ambition to be President for
life, it is now up to Zimbabweans across the political divide to rise to the
challenge by finding a united front to stop Mugabe and his cronies from
turning their self-indulgence into a national catastrophe."
When people like Moyo want to rejoin Zanu PF and have even gone as far
as saying Mugabe should be left to die in office, one can not help but
wonder what is it that others are not seeing which is in Zanu PF and what is
it about Mugabe that makes his followers idolise him like that.
Thursday, 01 October 2009 17:57
BUSINESS mogul Mutumwa Mawere lost a combined 100% shareholding in his
three companies Steelnet, Turnall and General Belting Holdings to FBC Bank
after the firms failed to settle their outstanding debt with the bank which
back dates to 2005. This means FBC Bank is now the majority shareholder in
the three companies after Mawere lost 60% in Turnall, Steelnet - 31% and GB
The debt accrued when administrator Afaras Gwaradzimba was appointed
administrator of Mawere's companies after Mawere was specified.
The value of shares traded in Mawere's three companies on September 14's
trading was US$9,261 million, slightly below the all time high of shares
traded on the whole bourse which was valued at US$9,415 million on July 23.
"The shares sold where used as collateral for the money borrowed from
FBC Bank four years ago, Gwaradzimba was handling the transactions. This
route had to be taken after they failed to pay back the loan," said an
official from Turnall.
FBC Securities was handed the transactions.
A total of 287 536 313 Turnall shares valued at US$7 188 407 were
transacted on the day at 2,5c per share. A total of 162 152 507 Steelnet
shares valued at US$648 610 was conducted at 0,4c while 99 million General
Belting Holding shares valued at US$495 000 were done at 0,5c.
Mawere is crying foul over how Gwaradzimba has destroyed his empire.
He has never stopped campaigning to expose how his business empire
"has been systematically destroyed and sold off by the Zimbabwean
Mawere has engaged Robert Mugabe to try and toget back his companies.
He has also engaged former Zambian and South African presidents Kenneth
Kaunda and Thabo Mbeki respectively to negotiate with government for the
return of his seized companies.
Talks between Mawere and government that commenced in May have since
collapsed after Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Defence minister
Emmerson Mnangagwa and SMM administrator Arafas Gwaradzimba prevailed over
central bank governor Gideon Gono's earlier advice to President Robert
Mugabe to return the firms to the tycoon.
The Chinamasa group insisted that Mugabe and Gono should not interfere
with court processes as it will set a bad precedent. Mawere had several
court cases against government in Zimbabwe and abroad.
The Zimbabwean government is reported to have spent an estimated £1,3
million to pay top class UK lawyers in England to defend their decision on
Mawere's companies. Mawere also said, the government spent a whopping £150
000 on first class airfares and 5 star accommodation for it's Zimbabwean
representatives who attended the UK courts.
These included government appointed administrator Gwaradzimba and
commercial lawyer and government purse man Edwin Manikai. Reserve Bank
Governor Gideon Gono sent four representatives.
Mawere was accused of externalising foreign currency and was specified
under the Prevention of Corruption Act, in 2004. His mines, together with
companies in finance, insurance and agriculture were seized through a
He lost his flagship business, Shabanie Mashaba Mines (SMM Holdings),
which he had bought for US$60milion from British company Turner & Newell in
1996, to the state.
Following the expropriation of SMM Holdings by the government, an
administrator Gwaradzimba, was appointed to replace the company's board of
directors and assume control of the company. Gwaradzimba is reported to have
accused Mutumwa Mawere of asset-stripping the group and starving SMM of
foreign currency, leading to its collapse last year.
Mawere was arrested in South Africa in 2004, but freed after Zimbabwe
failed in its bid to get him extradited.
Thursday, 01 October 2009 17:55
ZIMBABWE'S economic recovery could be slowed down by an increase in
private sector corruption triggered by poor government policies, an
international civic organisation has warned. A Global Corruption Report
released by Transparency International (TI) recently has placed Zimbabwe at
position 166 out of the 180 countries surveyed.
Private sector graft, the report stated was "exarcebated" by the
decade long economic recession.
"The attitude towards corruption has become a major challenge to the
economic recovery of Zimbabwe, as small-scale risks in the form of bribery,
fraud and extortion interfere in the private sector's ability to access
foreign direct investment," reads the report.
Zimbabwe, the report further read, has "serious deficiencies in
relation to holding its private sector accountable" leading to an increase
TI blamed past government policies such as the 2007 price blitz for
fueling "survival corruption" when companies were faced the unprecedented
"Survival corruption is a consequence of the Zimbabwean government's
introduction of draconian laws and the enforcement of controls on products
such as basic products", the report stated.
According to report, companies in developing countries colluding with
corrupt politicians and government officials, have supplied bribes to the
tune of US$40 billion annually.
"Fostering a culture of corporate integrity is essential to protect
investment, increase commercial success and ensure the stability sought by
poor and rich countries alike, particularly as we climb out of a historical
crisis," read the statement.
Bernard Mpofu in Berlin, Germany
Thursday, 01 October 2009 17:51
FINANCIAL constraints are a hurdle to the revival of the tobacco
industry, where output plummeted in the last seven years. There are serious
liquidity problems with financial institutions struggling to raise funds,
not only for the support of the agriculture sector, but for all the sectors
of the economy.
Zimbabwe is targeting a total 65 000 hectares for tobacco cropping
which could translate to around 80 000 tonnes at an average yield rate of 1
330 kilogrammes a hectare.
Tobacco Industry and Marketing Board chief executive officer Andrew
Matibiri confirmed that they were targeting 65 000 hectares which would be a
slight improvement on the 48 000 hectares planted last season.
"We are targeting a total of 65 000 tonnes and right now preparations
are underway," Matibiri said. "Planting of the crop would start in mid
October and that is when we would be able to tell what area is under the
Tobacco farmers used to rely on loans from financial institution, but
they now have to use own resources or enter into contract farming.
Part of the crop is now being financed under contract farming and more
than half of the tobacco sold this year was through that mode.
Past president of the Zimbabwe Association of Tobacco Growers, Julius
Ngorima, said the financing of this year's crop was still hazy.
"As tobacco farmers we are told that we can get loans from the banks,
but what is surprising is that we are not being told which financial
institutions would give us the loans," he said. "What is happening is that
we are going to rely on the contractor for the bulk of this year's crop."
Ngorima said it was only a fortnight before the start of the planting
season yet farmers were to get full details as to which financial
institutions would support them.
Contractors still get value for their investment in the tobacco
industry because there are tight regulations pertaining to the sale of the
Tobacco produced in the country has to be sold at the three auction
floors or to the contractor and this has completely eliminated side
marketing which has wiped away investments in other crops, especially
However, contract farming should complement other avenues of financing
in the agriculture sector.
Analysts in the tobacco industry said the contractors' role would have
been more pronounced if there were other players supporting the growing of
The analysts said in the absence of support from the financial sector,
it would take longer before the tobacco industry rebounds to the levels of
260 000 tonnes as was the case in 1998.
Ngorima said though the average selling prices during the just ended
selling season were slightly lower than the preceding season, there were
growers who had abandoned the crop who were now growing it because of the
pull of a stable currency.
Tobacco farmers were put off by prices which were being offered at the
auction floors especially after 2002.
There were problems as farmers were offered local currency for the
crop yet it was auctioned in hard currency.
At times there were clashes over what exchange rate should be used for
the crop that was delivered and this saw farmers either holding on to their
crop or venturing into other crops they could directly export.
Conflicts over policies and the disruptions of the farms saw a sharp
decline in tobacco production and Zimbabwe lost its position as the largest
producer of the crop on the continent.
Tobacco, at its peak production levels, accounted for more than 50% of
total agricultural exports, which was 30 percent of the country's total
exports. Export receipts from the crop ranged between US$270 million and
US$593, when the crop was on its peak.
Tobacco production in the country surged from around 125 000 tonnes in
1980 to a peak of 260 tonnes in 1998.
There was also an improvement in terms of yield per hectare, rising
from 1 951,6 kg per hectare in 1980 to 2 626 kg per hectare in 1998.
Yield per hectare has been above 2 000 kg since 1983 but there has
been massive reversal of this as it has dropped ton 1 500 kg per hectare in
During the 2008/9 tobacco season, a total of 48 000 hectares was under
the crop with a total yield of 64 000 tonnes which translate to 1 330 kg per
The crop also accounted for close to 10 percent of the country's gross
domestic product. Tobacco production also generated employment of up 117 000
long term jobs and around 100 000 seasonal hirings.
An estimated additional 30 000 were employed in research, marketing,
service and manufacture.
Thursday, 01 October 2009 17:47
MUROWA Diamond, owned by Rio Tinto Zimbabwe, has a potential to
increase production to a million carats annually, the company head Niels
Kristensen said in a report. A total of 260 000 carats of the mineral were
produced during the last financial year and there is potential to increase
this six fold, said Kristensen.
Murowa mine has not been affected by power outages since diamond
mining is not power intensive.
This has meant that the company has not been forced to scale down on
operations as was the case last year with most of the players in the sector.
"We are fortunate at Murowa that we have not had to reduce production,
and hopefully the worst is behind us," Kristensen said in the report
released last week. "The diamond market is starting to recover, but it is
early days and we will see how it plays out. The long term fundamentals are
very strong and we are in the game for the long term."
Mining companies have continued to argue that policymakers should
bring certainty in the sector which has been dogged by problems pertaining
to policy and regulations.
Diamond mining is a relatively new venture as it started at the turn
of the century, but it is expected that the mineral would soon be competing
with gold and platinum in terms of export receipts.
There are problems which have to be ironed out though, before the
country's diamond mining competes with other minerals.
Zimbabwe has been battling to remain within the Kimberley Process
after concerns were raised about the security around the Chiyadzwa diamond
fields in Manicaland where the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation, a
wholly government owned company, had moved in.
While there have been problems with the diamonds from Chiyadzwa,
activities at Murowa have been clean.
The Kimberley Process is a government regulated protocol designed to
prevent the sale of so called "conflict" diamonds which may be used to
finance civil war.
Basically it is a process of certification, backed up by an audit
trail, which assures potential purchasers that the diamonds in question come
from a legitimate source.
Rio Tinto has a 78% interest in Murowa and diamond sales and marketing
are centralised in Antwerp, with representative offices in New York and
Rio Tinto Diamonds is the third largest diamond producer in the world
by volume. -- Staff Writer.
Thursday, 01 October 2009 17:16
WE can all share with Jestina Mukoko a sense of relief and vindication
following Monday's Supreme Court judgement. Here was an entirely innocent
woman accused of terrorism who was herself the victim of terrorism -
The New York Times (NYT) on Tuesday reminded us of the events
surrounding her arrest. Taken from her home by armed men at daybreak on
December 3, barefoot and still in her nightgown, while her teenage son
looked on helplessly, she was not seen again for nearly three weeks, and
later testified that she was held in secret locations, where she was
tortured in an attempt to extract a false confession. She said her captors
made her kneel on gravel and repeatedly beat her on the soles of her feet
with rubber truncheons.
Mukoko led a civic group that documented human rights abuses. She was
accused of involvement in a plot to topple President Mugabe with
insurrectionists receiving military training in Botswana.
"The jailing of Mukoko and dozens of other activists has been cited by
Western diplomats as a sign of Mugabe's unwillingness to restore the rule of
law," the NYT said. "The Zimbabwean judiciary has been deeply compromised in
recent years, with many judges accepting luxury cars and farmland from the
Mugabe government," it added.
On Monday, despite her victory in court, Mukoko said the abuses
In June, at a hearing before the Supreme Court, a prosecutor admitted
that Mukoko had been abducted illegally. Irene Petras, executive director of
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, said Monday's decision "can be read as a
movement toward the restoration of an independent justice-delivery system".
But she said she did not want to sound overly optimistic, complaining that
the government continued to pursue trumped-up charges against the innocent.
"The office of the attorney-general should have refused to prosecute
this case in the very beginning," she told the NYT.
And what should we say about the role of Didymus Mutasa who claimed
Mukoko was a threat to state security? At least we can all see with this
ruling who the real terrorists are. And the Botswana authorities have been
vindicated. They did not supply the training facilities alleged by Harare.
It was all pure invention. What is needed now is for the terrorists
responsible for Mukoko's abduction to be prosecuted.
Mutasa was on CNN last week denouncing human rights. Support for white
farmers was indefensible, he argued. "If that is human rights, keep them
away from us," he declared. "We don't want to see them."
This is useful to have on the record, just as his court affidavit was
useful in admitting the abduction of Mukoko when the police were saying they
didn't know where she was. The next time Zanu PF columnists in the Herald
pretend that the world is being unfair to them by maintaining sanctions, all
we need do is quote Mutasa on human rights. He speaks for his party and the
world needs to hear him.
CNN is fond of parading its presenters as modern-day heroes. They are
billed nightly as being omniscient in a world where audiences are craving
their "take" on events. So-and-so "has the story", we are told.
But sadly, their stellar reporter, Christiane Amanpour, didn't have
the story when she interviewed President Mugabe in New York last week. She
missed several opportunities to land a mortal blow on our dissembling leader
who denied any responsibility for the devastation his populist policies have
It was all the fault of sanctions, Mugabe insisted. Amanpour didn't
deal with this dishonesty in a way that could be described as robust.
Instead she gave a hostage to fortune by claiming sanctions were only
targeted at individuals. Mugabe gratefully seized the opportunity given to
claim that malnutrition was the product of Zidera.
There then followed an unproductive dispute about whether Mugabe's
mismanagement was at the core of the country's problems. Only people outside
the country thought so, Mugabe claimed.
Amanpour then played a clip of Archbishop Desmond Tutu saying Mugabe
had destroyed a wonderful country. Mugabe said that, on the contrary, the
country had managed to grow enough food for itself - a rather clumsy economy
with the self-evident fact of national starvation.
Another clip was played of Mugabe saying the country was "mine".
When pressed on what he meant, Amanpour allowed him to get away with
the claim that he meant it belonged to the Zimbabwean people.
She did score a useful point by pointing out that 80% of the land that
Mugabe acquired was taken after he took office and with certificates of no
interest from government.
White farmers were not being "hounded out of the country", Mugabe
insisted. But they were still being hounded off their farms, productive
farms, Amanpour could have pointed out.
Wouldn't that be a good moment to play a clip from Ben Freeth's and
the Campbells' farm? And what do the farm workers think of their new
employers - the policemen, judges, and army officers who have taken over?
Not much, we gather.
Amanpour soldiered on. She did talk about the plight of farm workers
but mixed up their expulsion from the land with Operation Murambatsvina,
thus handing Mugabe another gift.
Amanpour didn't appear to know what Roy Bennett was charged with and
how flimsy those charges are. Mugabe at least appeared well aware of that!
"We'll obviously have to ask him about that," Amanpour replied to
Mugabe's claim that Bennett was "organising arms of war".
What she could have said was, identical charges brought against the
current co-Minister of Home Affairs Giles Mutsekwa fell apart when the state
tried to run with them three years ago. And what happened, she could have
asked, to the principle of being innocent until proved guilty?
All in all, it was a very unsatisfactory interview with neither
interviewer nor interviewee coming out with many laurels.
'Political freedom or political power is absolutely hollow without the
input of economic power, and economic power derives naturally from your
natural resources," Mugabe told the Africa/South America summit last
He didn't mention what had happened to Zimbabwe's diamond resources in
recent years. How had those resources been managed by his government and its
incompetent parastatals? How much wealth has devolved to the people from
Anyway, it was useful to have the Herald's front page pictures on
Monday of riot police laying into football fans with the heading "Fight for
The democratisation process in Zimbabwe still has a long way to go
judging by an episode reported on Tuesday where the Standing Rules and
Orders Committee of parliament had been interviewing candidates for the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
Sitting member Joyce Kazembe was asked by Minister Eric Matinenga
whether the ZEC had made an independent and objective assessment on the
environment in last year's elections as really peaceful before they compiled
It was of course a pertinent question given widespread scepticism
regarding both the independence of the commission and the claims in its
report as to the electoral environment. But first Patrick Chinamasa and then
Emmerson Mnangagwa jumped up to object to Kazembe being asked such things.
Welshman Ncube, who you may be surprised to hear is not actually a
Zanu PF member, joined in saying it was "not fair" to ask Kazembe such
questions on the conduct of last year's elections when the same was not done
with another sitting commissioner, Theophillus Gambe.
Of course, the rule should be that sitting members who glossed over
the events of last year in their misleading report should be asked as many
questions as possible. And those questions should be searching. They should
explore every aspect of the process including why it took five weeks to
count votes in the first round of the presidential poll.
If Ncube's claim that the report was a collective and not an
individual effort was adopted for such interviews, nobody would be
responsible for anything!
As Matinenga pointed out in response to this partisan fury, his
question was relevant because it stemmed from Kazembe's response to a
question on what she understood an independent commission to be.
Needless to say, the Herald which covered the exchange didn't tell us
what that understanding entailed!
'The Chinese government and people value its traditional friendship
with Zimbabwe," we are told by ambassador Xin Shungkang. He was speaking at
a function to mark the 60th anniversary of the Chinese revolution.
Our question is, which Chinese people? How many were actually
consulted or even have a clue where Zimbabwe is?
The International Herald Tribune last week carried a story from
Namibia on a large low-interest loan from China in 2007 which the Namibian
government soon tapped to buy US$55,3 million worth of Chinese-made cargo
scanners to deter smugglers.
It was a neat illustration, Chinese officials said, of how doing good
in Namibia could do good for China.
Or so it seemed until Namibia charged that the state-controlled
company selected by China to provide the scanners - a company until recently
run by President Hu-Jintao's son - had greased the deal with millions of
dollars in illegal kickbacks. When Namibian investigators asked for help
looking into the matter, China threw up the barriers.
Acting Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge, wearing his other hat as
a local historian, reminded his audience at the 60th anniversary event that
"we used to export huge volumes of gold and ivory (to China).That was a time
associated with the glory of Zimbabwe."
So what is the present time associated with, Stan? And what
commodities do we pay tribute in now?
Finally, we can be sure that Elton Mangoma's remarks to a visiting
German business delegation went down like a lead balloon.
He assured them that Zimbabwe respected property rights but pointed
out that the land issue "should be understood in its historical context".
"We have always respected property rights, except on land which has
its own history," he said Zanu PF-style.
Indeed it does. That is a very recent history, dating back one year to
the formation of the government of national unity. Since then there has been
a systematic escalation of land seizures, many involving violence and theft.
The response of people like Mangoma has been to do nothing except to
offer the limp excuse of "history".
A history of colonial land seizures does not mean every single abuse
needs to be repeated, especially when, as South Africa has shown, other
remedies are available. German investors have been notable victims of Bippa
violations. Now we have apologists like Mangoma saying to the Germans - and
he hasn't denied the Herald's report - that you can come and invest in
Zimbabwe in all areas except land. If you invest in land you are likely to
be subject to unconstitutional expropriation!
The Germans are already making it clear this is an entirely
unsatisfactory situation. Any country that allows land seizures and violence
of the sort going on at present will get a yellow card from investors.
Latest developments include, according to the South African Sunday
Times, Reserve Bank deputy governor Edward Mashiringwani forcing South
African farmer Louis Fick off his pig and crocodile farm putting livestock
worth US$250 000 at risk; tobacco farmer Murray Pott savagely assaulted when
he tried to prevent a "war veteran" from taking over his land and charged
with public violence; and cattle farmer Mark Surtees convicted for failing
to vacate his farm.
At least 233 farmers are being charged with the same "offence".
These are productive farmers trying to make a contribution to Zimbabwe's
recovery. Their fate will provide an object lesson to German and other
According to the Sunday Times, citizens of 14 countries have had their
farms grabbed with predictable consequences for production. In 2000 Zimbabwe
produced two million tons of maize. Last year that figure was down to 450
000 tons. Let's see Mangoma explain that away.
Among those touting Zimbabwe as a good environment for investors was
Simbarashe Mumbengegwi who said the political parties were determined to
implement the GPA in its entirety!
The Germans should have asked him if that included media freedom,
respect for human rights, and the rule of law. Apparently not!
Thursday, 01 October 2009 17:11
THIS columnist recently had occasion to visit Windhoek, Namibia, and
was astounded to witness the very considerable numbers of tourists who were
enjoying themselves, viewing the sights and attractions unique to that
country, patronising its hotels and lodges, its many and diverse
restaurants, curio and souvenir shops, and much else. Overwhelmingly, the
tourists were from Germany and elsewhere in Europe, from the Far East (and
especially China and Japan), and from the US, although some were from
neighbouring states such as South Africa.
The hotels were remarkably full, and some restaurants so busy that
advance reservations were essential. Many of the hotels and restaurants were
of internationally-recognised high quality, as were the tour operators and
A manager of one hotel complex of over 300 rooms informed me that he,
his directors and management, would develop major concerns if average
occupancy declined below 70%.
Comparisons with the circumstances of Zimbabwean tourism were
inevitable, with most hotels in the Zimbabwe tourist areas reporting average
occupancies of less than 30%. Whilst in no manner belittling and denigrating
Namibia's tourist attractions, many of which were magnificent, spectacular
and near unique, it is undeniable that Zimbabwe has an immense amount of
extraordinary tourist attractions.
These include the amazing splendour of Victoria Falls, the grandeur of
the Matobo Hills, the mystic of Great Zimbabwe, the beauty of Nyanga, Bvumba
and Chimanimani, the vast scenic and other attractions of Lake Kariba, a
wealth of wildlife of innumerable species, and much, much else.
And yet Zimbabwe, which was renowned for its very considerable
tourism, is now eclipsed by the numbers of regional and international
tourists that direct their custom to Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique and other
countries in East, Central and Southern Africa. So great is the disparity
that inevitably one must ponder why it is that Zimbabwe's pronounced
destination role of the past is no more, whilst others are enjoying a surge
Recently, the perception of many is that the decline in Zimbabwean
tourism in Zimbabwe was primarily attributable to alleged economic sanctions
against Zimbabwe. In fact, no country imposed travel bans precluding their
nationals from travelling to Zimbabwe (although, on occasion, some countries
did issue travel warnings, cautioning the possibilities of tourists
More recently, the paucity of international tourism patronage has also
been attributed to the global financial recession. Whilst, undoubtedly, the
impacts of that recession will have curtailed the international travel of
some, the hard fact is that many international tourists continue to visit
other countries in Africa.
Clearly, therefore, that recession cannot be a primary cause of the
decimated tourist support for Zimbabwe. Instead, bearing in mind the very
great amount that Zimbabwe has to offer the tourist, there must be other
reasons which create the proportionately low volumes of tourist arrivals in
In fact, the reasons are many. First and foremost is the very negative
image that Zimbabwe has as a safe destination. The world at large is not
only very aware of the frequent Zimbabwean malabuse of law and order, with
inordinately frequent unjustified and very prolonged arrests and grossly
excessive assertion of authority by some of the "guardians of law and order".
And that awareness is intensively exacerbated by the recurrent,
incontrovertibly well-founded, reports of violent farm invasions,
encompassing brutal attacks upon farmers and their families, and
highly-condemnatory destruction and theft of property.
Inevitably, even if without substantive foundation, potential tourists
fear that they can become like victims of Zimbabwean authorities' contempt
for the fundamental principles and norms of international law, of human and
property rights, and of Zimbabwe's own laws.
In like manner, they are conscious of the innumerable police
roadblocks on all major national roads, and that whilst it does not always
occur, there are all too often instances of spurious allegations of traffic
or other law breaks, devised solely in order to exact bribes (or so-called,
unreceipted, spot fines).
Zimbabwean contempt for law causes a widespread perception of Zimbabwe
being an undesirable tourist destination.
These tourist concerns are intensified by fears that Zimbabwe will
undergo intensified political unrest, with concomitant adverse repercussions
upon "innocent bystanders", including international tourists.
The recurrent confrontationalism demonstrated by much of the hierarchy
of the former ruling party, the divisiveness promoted by state-controlled
media, and the belligerence demonstrated internationally, such as the
pronounced antagonism to the international community and against whites as
characterised by the President's interview on CNN last week, have all been
deterrents to international tourism, and continue to be.
Other factors also discourage tourist patronage, of which one of the
foremost is the grievously defective reliability and quality of service
delivery of Zimbabwean parastatals, of various arms of government, and some
The tourist does not wish to suffer the discomforts of recurrent
interruptions in electricity supplies, uncertainty and irregularity of water
delivery, and of horrendously defective and inadequate telecommunication
Similarily, the tourist is appalled when he or she has to expend
anything between six and fifteen laws to complete border processing
procedures at Beitbridge, when there is only one Immigration official on
duty at Harare International Airport, and other hurdles to entry into, or
exit from, Zimbabwe.
The tourist is similarily dismayed, and often disgusted, when airport
toilets are without water, toilet paper or soap. In like manner,
encountering innumerable potholes in city roads and on national highways do
not accord comfort or satisfaction to tourists.
Most of the tourist industry vigorously endeavours to maximise service
quality and delivery, but are hampered in so doing by not only the
disastrously poor services of most parastatals, but also by working capital
inadequacies, and by frequent losses of skilled personnel to neighbouring
countries and further afield.
Thus, despite the endeavours to provide quality comfort and service,
most hotels, tour operators and restaurants have undergone lowering of
standards (without concomitant lowering of charges!), and thereby have
contributed to the extent that tourists have been favouring destinations
other than Zimbabwe.
If Zimbabwean tourism is to attain real and substantive recovery,
regaining its place as a foremost African destination, government, the
tourist industry, commerce, the financial sector, parastatals, and others
must strive intensively to remove the fears of tourists, with credible
assurances and evidence of real security, and to upgrade service delivery.
If the existing massive barriers to tourist expectations are not
removed, Zimbabwe's tourist industry recovery will be minimal, whilst
Zimbabwe's neighbours will thrive more and more.
Thursday, 01 October 2009 17:32
THE ruling by the Supreme Court which permanently stayed prosecution
in prominent human rights activist Jestina Mukoko's case on Monday has
brought into sharp focus the issue of torture of suspects. The highest court
of appeal ruled that the case would not go ahead and therefore the case is
now closed. The court said reasons for the judgment would follow.
The case fell into a familiar pattern in which the state failed to
prove its allegations of treason and banditry, although the suspects have
been abducted and tortured during the process. There are several examples of
this in Zimbabwe.
While Mukoko and other accused human rights activists may have reason
to celebrate the end of their horrendous ordeal, their alleged torture in
detention remains a compelling issue of public interest. Mukoko is seeking
damages amounting to more than US$500 000 against state agents implicated in
her illegal abduction and torture last year. Mukoko alleges "illegal
abduction, disappearance and torture at the hands of state players",
according to her lawyers.
Zimbabwe has a long history of torture dating back to colonial times.
However, what is worrying is that a number of senior government officials
who were victims of torture during the liberation struggle are now presiding
over a government which stands accused - and has dismally failed to make a
plausible denial - of using torture as an instrument of state policy.
The victims of state-sanctioned torture since 1980 are many. Most of
them were arrested, detained and tortured on all sorts of apparently
baseless allegations, which is why they were acquitted by the courts.
The damage inflicted on them physically and psychologically would
however have been severe and at times life-threatening.
Despite its illegality and immorality, torture still remains prevalent
up to this day in Zimbabwe. Lawyers have complained of severe abuses of
suspects and highly coercive methods of interrogation in detention.
Government has never hesitated to sanction torture and this has gone
on for far too long. Even heroes of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle such as
Joshua Nkomo, Dumiso Dabengwa, Lookout Masuku, Welshman Mabena, Edward
Ndlovu, Kembo Mohadi and many others were subject to physical and
psychological torture during the 1980s on allegations similar to those faced
by Mukoko and others.
Masuku died as a result of brutality in detention on allegations which
were dismissed by the courts. Most of government's cases which often lead to
torture of suspects or prisoners usually collapse before the courts due to
lack of evidence, but the agents of repression and torture who have
inflicted systematic pain on innocent victims are not held to account. This
has allowed torture to persist as an instrument of state policy.
Politicians who have also been victims of political persecution and
state-sanctioned violence bordering on physical or psychological torture
include Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his former aide Ghandi
Mudzingwa, among others.
Tsvangirai was undoubtedly subjected to psychological torture as a
result of numerous treason charges which he faced although the state failed
to substantiate them. He was also heavily assaulted in police custody in
2007 in a move which horrified Zimbabweans and the world.
There have also been scores of civil society activists - the latest
being Mukoko, her colleagues and MDC activists - who have been victims of
torture. Individual citizens have also been abducted, detained and tortured
on all sorts of often unfounded allegations.
Although there has been an inclusive government since February,
nothing seems to have changed. Political repression and evil methods of
interrogating suspects, including torture, remain. This is disturbing,
especially at a time when the country is expected to introduce political
reforms which should consign such barbaric practices to the dustbin of
In terms of the 1984 United Nations Convention Against Torture, the
word "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether
physical or psychological, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such
purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a
confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or
is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third
person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such
pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the
consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an
Torture is a crime under the UN Convention Against Torture, adopted by
the General Assembly in 1984, and other relevant international frameworks,
and is similarly defined in the national legal codes of many of the UN's
International humanitarian law prohibits torture and other forms of
ill treatment at all times and demands that detainees be treated according
to the rules and principles of international humanitarian law and other
The collapse of the Mukoko case and her subsequent legal action to
demand damages for torture should awaken the country and the international
community to the continued existence of this wicked practice in Zimbabwe.
Thursday, 01 October 2009 17:28
WE heard again in last week's CNN interview of President Mugabe in New
York that sanctions and regime change are the main, or indeed the only
reasons for the disasters in Zimbabwe. How far are the problems we face due
to these two factors?
Zimbabweans have faced the following problems: The horrendous
inflation of 200 000 000% before the Zimbabwe dollar was unceremoniously
dumped; the dependence on food aid; election violence including torture, the
burning of houses, the theft of cattle and other livestock, the killing of
over 200 opposition political activists etc. How far are these specific
problems due to sanctions and regime change? And what are the exact
remedies for these problems?
A proper analysis should lead directly to an effective strategy. It
is well known that the main cause of the inflation was the reckless printing
of money. Once printing stopped, inflation also stopped.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) was responsible for the printing of
money, and this cannot be blamed on sanctions.
Unfortunately the reckless inflation has led to the total loss of
savings by everybody, in particular pensioners. We changed from
trillionaires and billionaires to paupers.
The dependence on food aid - what happened? The answer is simple:
Communal farmers who have fed Zimbabwe since the mid 1980s could not find
seeds or fertiliser. We failed to plan for adequate seeds and fertiliser,
either by producing them in country or by importing them. Again this cannot
be blamed on sanctions and regime change.
We were of course short of foreign exchange, but we did not prioritise
seeds and fertiliser. Instead we bought expensive tractors and combine
harvesters given free to political supporters of Zanu PF.
Our priorities were wrong: we know very well that for the past two
decades communal farmers have produced maize for the country. Why did we
not make sure that seeds and fertiliser were available to them on sale? No
seeds and no fertiliser meant no food.
This was not due to sanctions and regime change. It was due to RBZ
and government prioritisation which excluded investment in seeds and
Election violence preceding the presidential run-off of June 2008 was
extreme and particularly shameful as it was directed in particular at Zanu
PF's own supporters. These supporters voted for Zanu PF in the March 2008
elections, but "kicked the ball outside the field" in the presidential
elections. This means they voted for Zanu PF parliamentarians, but not for
the Zanu PF presidential candidate. Again it cannot be said that this
political violence was caused by sanctions. Was it caused by regime change
There is little doubt that the US and the West in general openly
desired regime change. Their reason for this was the land resettlement
programme of 2000, when over 10 million hectares of land formerly owned by
their companies and their nationals were taken over.
Nevertheless, there is a universal consensus that land resettlement
was absolutely essential in Zimbabwe, and that it was long overdue by 2000,
20 years after Independence.
There is wonder and speculation about why the Zanu PF government
waited for 20 years before addressing this critically important issue.
The Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act (Zidera) passed by
the United States House of Representatives and Senate in 2001 is the
document which most clearly outlines the sanctions.
Zidera states that the US will not support any multi-lateral or
bilateral loans or grants to Zimbabwe unless there are specific reforms
regarding ownership of property, the rule of law, and the use of political
Zidera specifically seeks collaboration of the European Union in the
enforcement of these sanctions. What this has meant in reality is that
Zimbabwe has been deprived of grants and investments from the West for the
Zimbabwe received an average of about US$350 million in aid and
investment in the 1980s and 1990s.
This stopped abruptly in 2001. Aid and foreign investment came to
about 10-15% of Zimbabwe's export earnings at that time. It is important to
analyse why the removal of this 10-15% of foreign exchange should have led
to the collapse of the economy.
Had Zimbabwe become so aid dependent that it could not survive without
it? It is to be remembered that the Ian Smith regime actually managed to
industrialise and become food self-sufficient under much worse sanctions
over the period 1965-1980.
Clearly the anti-sanctions strategies followed by the Zanu PF
government over the last decade were seriously deficient, if they existed at
all. The sanctions included targeting the personal accounts and travel
arrangements of some 200 top Zanu PF officials, and most of government and
Zanu PF rhetoric and activities were centred on this strategy, whilst
totally neglecting the real issues of economic survival and growth.
Expansion of the monetary supply and use of foreign exchange for
finished goods intended to buy political support were the main observable
strategies. Both of these strategies proved disastrous.
Sanctions were and are real. The wish for regime change was and is
real. Nevertheless the reality is that probably sanctions and regime change
strategies account for only 20% of the Zimbabwe's political and economic
Zanu PF's internal disintegration cannot be blamed on the West. The
neglect of seeds and fertiliser in order to concentrate on luxury goods
cannot be blamed on the West. The rampant corruption cannot be blamed on
the West. The neglect of the poor and the wild enrichment of the political
elite cannot be blamed on the West.
Chung is a former Education minister and currently a member of the
interim national executive of the Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn party.
Thursday, 01 October 2009 17:18
WHEN Zimbabwe became independent in 1980 President Robert Mugabe
promised "Education for all by the year 2000". Schools were built everywhere
to ensure that every child had a school within walking distance. Secondary
schools were added to primary schools in rural areas and tertiary education
was also expanded, with the hope of ensuring that there was at least one
university in each of the country's 10 provinces.
To cater for adults who had not been able to receive education, the
government's department of Adult and Continuing Education focused on those
who wanted to continue studying. In addition to adult literacy classes, free
correspondence modules were supplied to villagers with no access to formal
Mugabe managed to create an education revolution, raising literacy
rates in Zimbabwe to 98% by the late 1990s. The education system in Zimbabwe
was named the best in Africa. But all this is now coming to nought -- and
nowhere is this more evident than in the country's rural areas.
According to shocking findings from the Rapid Assessment of Primary
and Secondary Education report by the National Education Advisory Board
released recently, an increasing number of pupils who enrolled for Grade 1
did not proceed to secondary school. In some provinces, like Matabeleland
North, "the dropout rate was high, with over 50% dropout from Grades 1-7".
Unicef estimates that the Grade 7 examination pass rates declined from
53% in 1999 to 33% in 2007, while 50% of Zimbabwe's children graduating from
primary school were not proceeding to secondary school. To worsen an already
dire situation, close to 70% of students who were supposed to sit for
Ordinary and Advanced Level examinations failed to meet the September 25
deadline to pay their exam fees.
In what can be described as a heartless response to the crisis,
Education minister David Coltart this week said it was too late to do
anything about the pupils' plight. He went further to say any changes would
disrupt the "smooth running" of the public examinations. How can they be
smooth when 70% of students will have their four to six years of education
thrown out of the window?
What angers most is the fact that Coltart is even aware that less than
half of prospective candidates had registered. While he is estimating that
slightly over 50% failed to register, teachers' unions have put the figure
at around 70%.
Coltart added that they are sticking to their deadline because the
examinations had already been delayed enough by an earlier week-long
extension on registration. Honourable minister, how were you expecting
impoverished families in rural and high density areas to raise the US$10 and
US$20 per "O" and "A" Level subject respectively in a week when they failed
to raise that money over months.
Rural folk are already struggling to make ends meet. They rely on
selling their agricultural produce to the cash-strapped Grain Marketing
Board (GMB) and other such institutions.
Most farmers have harvested their maize and other cereal crops but
they are not happy with the prices that are being offered by the private
buyers. The prices are too low and farmers are not able to break-even or to
recapitalise in preparation for the next cropping season. The GMB is buying
at US$265 a tonne but does not have ready cash and growers have to wait for
a long period before being paid. The farmers are now being forced to buy
from private buyers at low prices such as US$165 to US$180 a tonne.
Did the government take these factors into consideration? -- Obviously
According to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, the country's
unemployment rate is over 90%.
Those formally employed earn an average US$150 a month. The minister
needs to explain to the nation how they arrived at the US$10 and US$20 a
subject considering the country's economic situation and employment levels.
When Zimbabwe decided to localise examinations in the 1990s, the main reason
was to make it affordable since examinations set by the Cambridge
examinations board were expensive.
While the government is charging US$10 a subject for "O" Levels, it
costs US$15 a subject for Cambridge examinations. One does not need to be a
rocket scientist to see that there is no way the government figures can be
described as affordable. Isn't this tantamount to privatising the education
system in the country?
If the government can source funds to buy luxury vehicles for
legislators, how could it not try to raise money to subsidise the poor
families in our societies. The reason for the extension was because they had
realised that a significant number of students had not paid.
Did anyone hear of any talk of government trying to find ways to
ensure that the 30 000 plus pupils write the examinations? It is clear that
there were no such efforts. Is this the bright future for the education
sector which Coltart was talking about at the launch of the Basic Education
Assistance Module recently?
The minimum requirement is five "O" level passes to proceed to "A"
level or to qualify for an apprenticeship or gain admission at nursing and
teachers' colleges. Most jobs also require a minimum five "O" level passes.
So what future do these children have?
Instead of making noise about outstanding Global Political Agreement
issues the inclusive government should seriously sit down and find ways to
ensure that the affected students write their examinations.
What is shocking is the deafening silence by all the parties.
President Mugabe -- what happened to your dream of education for all and
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai -- what happened to the promise you made at
the signing ceremony of the GPA in September last year to prioritise
October 2, 2009
Zimbabwe's fortunes seem to have improved. That is if the estimates of the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) are taken at face value. The IMF's World
Economic Outlook forecasts growth of 3.7 percent this year and 6 percent
A turnaround is taking place, now that the country's worthless currency has
been replaced, mainly by the US dollar, and once again there is food on the
Of course, growth is off a very low base - after a 14.1 percent contraction
last year and a 6.9 percent contraction the previous year. But how realistic
are the IMF projections? As Reuters pointed out yesterday, the IMF figures
are in line with Zimbabwe's own forecasts, announced in July.
John Robertson, an independent economist in Harare, says they are off the
mark: "I can't find any evidence to support it."
He said estimates of this year's crop are in fact overestimates - possibly
deliberately so. And he doesn't expect next year's crop to be much better
because "farmers don't have the money to start cultivating".
As a result, although the rainy season is due to start, the farmers are not
ready to plant. "The commercial farms are likely to perform dismally," he
Robertson said an earlier IMF survey showed it "wouldn't take much to fix
our infrastructure, but we haven't even started fixing it". As to the food
in the shops, Robertson said: "We're importing everything, where we used to
produce everything ourselves."
Zimbabwe was once known as the bread basket of Africa, but its economy has
been destroyed by gross mismanagement and land grabs that turned productive
farms into failing enterprises.
The economy won't come right until it receives a massive injection of
capital - and that won't happen as long as Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe
clings to power because both investors and donors know that it will end up
in the pockets of Mugabe and Co. page 4
Quality matters most
On Tuesday evening, the ANC held a debate on the proposed National Health
Insurance (NHI) at the Westville campus of the University of KwaZulu-Natal.
The participants were Olive Shisana, the chairwoman of the ANC's NHI
technical task team, Zweli Mkhize, the chairman of the ANC sub-committee on
health and education, Sibongiseni Dlomo, the Health MEC for KwaZulu-Natal,
and Ngubekhaya Gobinca, the managing director of Qualsa Healthcare. The NHI
debate sought to encourage stakeholders in the health care industry and
ordinary South Africans to engage the ruling party on the proposal.
While illustrating that the medical aid schemes were not sufficient because
funds were exhausted before the end of the year, which meant those people
became the burden of the state, Dlomo told a story of how he had to pay
Entabeni hospital R6 000 last week because he had to take one of his
"My medical aid has run out for this year. Fortunately I don't have a sickly
family and I have not been to a doctor in the last two years."
Dlomo has a democratic right to use any health care facility that he wants
and he probably took his child there because Entabeni Hospital was
best-suited for the kind of treatment that the child needed.
But this is perhaps another indication that contrary to what the politicians
say about "not all is bad" at public hospitals, they also lack faith in the
It is also an admission that the very same private hospital industry that
has been criticised is doing something right.
Shisana also said the government did not regulate the public sector like the
private sector and this would need to be corrected when the accreditation
process was done for NHI facilities.
That did not necessarily mean that the facilities would need to look like
"five-star hotels" as the private hospitals have been referred to. "We are
talking about the quality of service, not necessarily the nice bed," he
Some would argue that it has never been the nice bed that meant quality
service, but rather the attitude of the staff, clean facilities,
availability of medication and the required equipment.
Taking a hit
The repercussions of Eskom's stalled process to procure electricity from
independent power producers have resulted in delayed payment on a Standard
Bank loan to Ipsa, the London- and JSE-listed independent power producer.
The £15.8 million (R194m) loan was due to be repaid today, but Ipsa said
this week it would be unable to do so unless it sold turbines originally
earmarked for its open-cycle gas turbines project at Coega.
The group has been trying to sell the four Siemens Westinghouse 501 DU
turbines since the end of last year, after it became apparent that the
procurement process would be delayed beyond the plant's envisaged mid-2009
start-up. It hopes to realise £100m.
Ipsa is indebted not only to the local bank, but also to manufacturers for
refurbishing the turbines to the tune of £10.7m, and to a firm controlled by
its chief executive, Peter Earl, to the amount of £800 000.
At Ipsa's gas-fired plant in Newcastle, KwaZulu-Natal, delays in signing a
power purchase agreement with Eskom have forced Ipsa to seek commercial
clients to allow the plant to restart.
The first-mover advantage that should have been enjoyed by the likes of Ipsa
and developers of the 1 200 megawatt Mmamabula energy complex in Botswana
(which is also awaiting the outcome of Eskom's funding model for clarity on
a power purchase agreement) has turned into a drawn-out wait-and-see
scenario as a result of the regulatory hiatus, combined with a constrained
Standard Bank may share this view as it has taken no action to enforce
security on the loan. But it must take a lot of teeth-gritting to express
optimism given the constraints at hand.
Edited by Peter DeIonno. With contributions by Ethel Hazelhurst, Slindile
Khanyile and Ingi Salgado
Friday, 02 Oct 2009
Zimbabwe government said that it had short listed 6 companies, most of them
from outside the country, to take over Zimbabwe Iron & Steel Company.
The government owns a majority stake in Zisco, but wants to off load this to
an investor willing to revive the company's operations and take over its
huge debt of USD 300 million.
Zisco, which has shut down operations due to lack of capital and other
difficulties, is the first company to be earmarked for privatization by the
country's new coalition government. The government wants to raise USD 8
billion to revive Zimbabwe's shattered economy.
Mr Welshman Ncube industry minister of Zimbabwe said that six bidders, most
of them from South Africa, had been selected and the winner would be
announced shortly. He added that "The government will only come up with a
winner after a technical team tasked to look into Zisco has presented its
findings. The technical team is expected to submit the results of its
findings before the end of the month."
It may be noted that among the bidders are ArcelorMittal and Murray and
Roberts, both of South Africa and steel companies from India.
(Sourced from www.africanmanager.com)
By Patience Rusere
01 October 2009
Thousands of Zimbabwean ordinary and "A" level students could be prevented
from taking completion exams this year because they cannot afford to pay the
The education system charges US$10 for an exam in one ordinary or "0" level
subject; many students will take exams in eight subjects at a cost of US$80
dollars, while "A" level students must pay US$20 a subject resulting in an
often prohibitive cost of US$160.
The Progressive Teachers Union of Zimbabwe said 80% of "O" and "A" level
students could fail to take their exams this year and thus be blocked from
Deputy Education Minister Lazarus Dokora said in an interview with the
state-run Herald newspaper that the government is aware of the problem but
is trying to balance the affordability and the quality of exams. Fees go to
examiners who grade exams.
For a closer look at the latest crisis in Zimbabwe's schools reporter
Patience Rusere turned to Israel Mabhoo, head of the Chiedza-Nkanyiso
community based schools program in Harare, a chief examiner, and headmaster
Tererai Hove of the Mkoba One High School in the Midlands capital of Gweru,
a member of the Zimbabwe Schools Examination Council.
Hove said fees must be charged to cover the exam paper printing costs and
examiners, who in the past have boycotted the grading process because they
have not been paid.
by Andrew Moyo Friday 02 October 2009
HARARE - Zimbabwe's government is appealing against a ruling by the Harare
High Court last week confirming UK-based mining firm African Consolidated
Resources Plc (ACR)'s right of title to claims on the notorious Marange
"We have appealed against that judgment, that is what the AG (Attorney
General) has been working on. That is the government position," Mines
Minister Obert Mpofu told ZimOnline on Thursday.
Mpofu, a stalwart of President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF party that is in a
power-sharing government with Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party,
would not say when exactly the appeal was lodged with the Supreme Court that
is Zimbabwe's highest court of law.
He referred questions on the matter to AG Johannes Tomana, who was not
immediately available for comment.
In a statement following its court victory last week, ACR said it was
committed to "dialogue with the Zimbabwe government", in what the market saw
as an olive branch suggesting the UK firm's could be willing to partner the
government in extracting the Marange deposits.
The Harare government seized the Marange diamond field from ACR in October
2006 and allocated the claim to the state-owned Zimbabwe Mining Development
The government moved into the controversial diamond field after thousands of
illegal miners descended on Marange, which ACR had held for some time but
apparently without any production.
A team from the Kimberley Process Certification System (KPCS) that visited
Zimbabwe last June called for a temporary ban on trade in diamonds from
Marange after unearthing gross human rights violations and other illegal
activities at the diamond field allegedly committed by the army.
Mugabe sent the army to Marange in 2008 to flush out illegal miners and
dealers from the diamond field. But human rights groups have accused
security forces of using brutal force to take control of the diamond field
and later forcing villagers to illegally mine the diamonds for resale on the
black market for precious minerals.
However the army and police have refused to leave Marange while Harare
denies allegations of human rights abuses and says calls to ban diamonds
from the controversial diamond field were unjustified because Zimbabwe was
not involved in a war or armed conflict. - ZimOnline
by Andrew Moyo Friday 02 October 2009
HARARE - Zimbabwe's largest mobile phone company Econet Wireless on Thursday
announced a surprise pull out of embattled Kingdom Meikles Africa Limited
(KMAL) that is entangled in a bitter de-merger wrangle that has drawn in
political players aligned to President Robert Mugabe's ZANU PF party.
Econet Wireless Limited said it had offloaded its 10 percent stake in KMAL
to unnamed investors who it said had paid US$17 million for the shares, in a
transaction that the market interpreted to mean souring relations between
KMAL CEO Nigel Chanakira and Econet founder Strive Masiyiwa over the
increasingly messy de-merger effort.
"Econet Wireless has sold its shareholding interest in Kingdom Meikles
Africa Limited (KMAL)," Econet said yesterday. "The US$17million from the
sale will be directed towards network expansion," the company said, adding
24,537,480 shares had been pushed to the mystery investors.
KMAL is one of Zimbabwe's biggest companies with interests spanning several
sectors including banking and financial services company, agriculture, hotel
and retail industries.
But sources said Econet had become increasingly frustrated by the infighting
between Chanakira, who is accused of influencing the specification of the
group, and KMAL chairman John Moxon, which has cost shareholder US$410
million after shares plunged by 450 percent since listing in 2007.
Chanakira and Moxon have drawn daggers at each other over how to split up
KMAL following differences between the two.
An extraordinary general meeting (EGM) called last Thursday apparently to
eject Chanakira from KMAL because he was allegedly blocking the de-merger
process was stopped when Chanakira's wife obtained a High Court order
against the meeting, while riot police were summoned to ensure shareholders
did not meet.
Chanakira has alleged that that the EGM was part of a larger plot -
allegedly driven by Moxon working in cohorts with Econet Wireless Holdings
Limited - to clandestinely clear Moxon of charges of externalising US$22
The KMAL chief collapsed last week and is hospitalised in South Africa in a
development his lawyers said had been inspired by frustrations linked to
efforts by the moves to eject him from the company.
Chanakira became CEO of KMAL following the merger of his Kingdom financials
services company and the Meikles group that operates banking, investment,
supermarket, agricultural and retail interests, and a leading Harare hotel.
Kingdom Financial Holdings Limited, Tanganda, Cotton Printers and Meikles
Africa merged in 2007 to fulfill a 2005 law that white-owned businesses have
51 percent black shareholders but the union has since turned sour.
October 2, 2009
THE Editor and concerned colleagues;
We have taken note of the contribution by Roget Chamutengure that referred
to one of our campaigns focusing on Zimbabwe and on electoral reform in
We recommended the setting up of an independent commission of enquiry into
the conduct of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) following our
investigations, which made the following findings;
1- ZEC failed or deliberately neglected to execute its mandate in a fair,
independent, professional, transparent and impartial manner;
2- Violence that occurred in Zimbabwe before, during and after the 2008
elections was directly and/or indirectly triggered by the conduct of the
3- A corrupt relationship existed between ZEC, Zanu-PF and the executive arm
of the government of Zimbabwe;
4- Flawed election processes in Zimbabwe produced an illegitimate leader,
who is Robert Gabriel Mugabe;
5) Political parties, candidates and other institutions of state power
interfered with the work of the ZEC; and
6) Poor management of elections led to voter apathy.
ACT-Southern Africa wrote to President Mugabe on 16 February 2009 and our
letter appears hereunder
Our Ref: AFRI/R01/2009/CHAIR/Zimbabwe/1/2009
16 February 2009
Mr Robert Gabriel Mugabe,
Office of the President,
Samora Machel Avenue,
RE:- REQUEST TO SET UP A COMMISSION OF ENQUIRY INTO THE CONDUCT OF THE
ZIMBABWE ELECTORAL COMMISSION (ZEC) IN THE 2008 GENERAL AND THE PRESIDENTIAL
We are glad to bring to your attention a report that was produced by the
Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACT-Southern Africa) in January
2009, pertaining to the conduct of the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK)
and the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) in the management of free and
fair democratic elections.
As you are already aware, the elections in the two countries were
problematic since they triggered violence that resulted in loss of life,
internal displacements and extreme levels of insecurity. In Kenya alone, the
violence left more than 1 200 people dead and close to 350 000 uprooted. In
Zimbabwe at least 160 people were killed and about 30 000 were internally
displaced. Other effects of the bungling by the ZEC is that the state was
left paralysed and with no government in place from March 2008 until
However, in Kenya, the Government of National Unity (GNU) has taken
progressive steps to address the situation in the spirit and mood of
reconciliation. Two Commissions of Enquiry were set up to investigate the
bungled elections and they have long since produced reports on the same. One
of the commissions was led by Justice Johann Kriegler and six other members
who were appointed to hold a public inquiry into allegations of electoral
fraud during the 2007 elections.
Justice Kriegler was assisted by Horacio Boneo, an Argentinean election
expert, and Tanzania's Justice Imani Daudi Aboud. The setting up of the
commission follows an agreement between Mwai Kibaki's Party of National
Unity (PNU) and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM). Both sides identified
two representatives while the panel of eminent persons led by former UN
Secretary General Kofi Annan picked Justice Kreigler and two foreign
In our report, we have recommended that the Zimbabwean Government of
National Unity (GNU) should consider the following actions in the spirit of
a) The setting up of an independent commission of enquiry into the conduct
of the ZEC on the elections held on 29 March 2008, and the Presidential
run-off election that took place on 27 June 2008. If an enquiry is made, we
recommend that the findings of such an enquiry should be made public and its
recommendations fully implemented, and
b) Investigate fully and prosecute all those responsible for the abductions
and killings of political activists, human rights defenders and electoral
officials such as Mr. Ignatius Mushangwe, a ZEC official who was abducted
and killed in June 2008.
Please refer to our report, attached hereto, for more information about the
conduct of the ZEC and other recommendations made to political parties, ZEC
officials, law enforcement agents, the AU, the SADC and United Nations.
Also please feel free to contact the undersigned for any further
clarifications pertaining to this request.
We look forward to your co-operation.
Norman Tjombe (Mr)
Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa
Cc: Mr. Morgan Tsvangirai- Prime Minister
Office of the Prime Minister,
Samora Machel Avenue,
Mr. Kembo Mohadi- Minister of Home Affairs
Cnr 4th Street/ Livingstone Avenue
Hon. Lovemore Moyo - Speaker of Parliament of Zimbabwe
Nelson Mandela/3rd Street
Box CY 298, Causeway
Harare. Fax 252 935, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Justice George Chiweshe - The Chairperson
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission
Causeway, Harare, Fax:- +263 4 781903/770660
In view of the above, members of ZEC, be it commissioners or staff should
not or at all be allowed to be part of the IZEC until an independent
commission of enquiry is carried out.
We would like to thank Roget Chamutengure for raising this issue.
by Patricia Mpofu Friday 02 October 2009
HARARE - Zimbabwe's journalists should not accept government media
control through a statutory regulatory body the coalition government is
setting up but must forge ahead with an alternative self-regulatory
authority, media experts have said.
The call to ignore the Zimbabwe Media Commission (ZMC) - whose board
members President Robert Mugabe is still to announce despite Parliament
forwarding to him a list of 12 short-listed candidates over a month ago - is
one of several recommendations by media experts who carried a survey on the
state of broadcasting in Zimbabwe.
The findings of the survey, jointly undertaken by Africa Governance
Monitoring and Advocacy Project (AfriMAP), Open Society Initiative for
Southern Africa (OSISA) and the Network Media Programme (NMP), were unveiled
in Harare on Wednesday.
Under the inclusive government, the ZMC would, among other things, be
charged with licencing media players and journalists.
But there is vehement opposition over the imposition of the statutory
body by independent media players who in 2007 set up the Voluntary Media
Council of Zimbabwe (VMCZ) - a professional media self-regulatory body that
was endorsed by all media stakeholders.
The survey recommends that the provision in Constitutional Amendment
19, which facilitated the formation of a coalition government in February
between Mugabe and former opposition MDC leaders Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai and Deputy Premier Arthur Mutambara, to set up the ZMC must be
repealed without delay.
"When the statutory media commission is established with the right to
take disciplinary action against journalists, the media fraternity in
Zimbabwe should follow their peers in other African countries such as
Botswana, Uganda or Nigeria by not recognising this commission as a
complaints body and offering the public their own effective Voluntary Media
Council as an alternative," reads part of the recommendations.
Mugabe and his ZANU PF party are understood to be flatly opposed to a
self-regulatory body for the media, preferring to retain tight government
controls on the media.
Journalists working for state-owned media that remains under the
control of ZANU PF allies despite formation of the unity government have
been prevented from registering with the VMCZ.
The survey also recommended that all laws inhibiting the free
operations of the media be repealed.
Zimbabwe has long been regarded as one of the most difficult countries
for the media because of its tough media and security laws designed to
stifle criticism of Mugabe and his ZANU PF party who have ruled the country
alone for all but the last seven months and are blamed for the spectacular
collapse of its once brilliant economy. - ZimOnline.
Volume 56, Number 16 · October 22, 2009
By Joshua Hammer
The arrivals lounge at Harare International Airport in Zimbabwe once
provided a sinister foretaste of life under the Robert Mugabe dictatorship.
In every corner lurked agents of Mugabe's Central Intelligence Organization,
his domestic spying agency, on the lookout for Western journalists, human
rights workers, democracy activists, and other perceived enemies of the
regime. It was here that Tendai Biti, the outspoken secretary-general of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), the country's main opposition party,
was arrested by security agents in June 2008 upon his return from a trip to
South Africa and charged with treason, which carries a death sentence.
(After international protests, he was released on bail two weeks later.)
Correspondents trying to slip into the country on tourist visas could expect
to find themselves interrogated here by CIO operatives; then they would
either be detained or put back on planes for Johannesburg. Most elected to
enter the country through the backwater airport of Bulawayo, an opposition
stronghold, or overland from Victoria Falls. "If you come through Harare,"
one Zimbabwean colleague told me last year, "chances are good you'll be sent
back-or go to jail."
Thus I was pleasantly surprised when I arrived in Harare on a South African
Airways flight from Johannesburg in late August, six months after Mugabe had
been forced to cede partial power to Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC leader. The
CIO seemed to have disappeared: the atmosphere was as laid back as that of a
small-town airport in the United States. A friendly immigration official
issued me a tourist visa on the spot for the usual $30, no questions asked,
then winked as I gathered my documents and headed toward baggage claim.
"Welcome to the new Zimbabwe," he told me.
Last year at this time Zimbabwe looked very different. In March 2008, Morgan
Tsvangirai defeated the deeply unpopular Mugabe by a majority vote in the
presidential election, promising -it seemed-an end to a brutal,
twenty-eight-year dictatorship that had brought the country economic ruin
and international isolation. Mugabe refused to recognize the result and
forced Tsvangirai into a runoff, then unleashed his security forces and
pro-government militias on a campaign of torture and murder. At least
seventy MDC activists were killed, several hundred disappeared, and 25,000
people fled their homes. Then South African president Thabo Mbeki and other
regional leaders stood by, refusing to intervene or even to condemn Mugabe's
tactics. Tsvangirai withdrew from the runoff on June 22, 2008, calling it a
"violent sham." Five days later, Mugabe, running unopposed, declared himself
Mugabe's victory, however, was not absolute. The continued implosion of
Zimbabwe's currency, combined with a spreading cholera epidemic, global
revulsion at the ruling party's violence, and growing impatience from the
Southern African Development Community (SADC)-the regional group of nations
led at the time by Mbeki-forced the dictator to enter talks with the
opposition leaders last fall. After tortuous negotiations and several
walkouts by the MDC, the two sides in September signed the Global Political
Agreement, preparing the way for a "unity government": Tsvangirai became
Zimbabwe's prime minister; Mugabe retained the presidency. The MDC received
sixteen of thirty-one ministries-including the Ministry of Finance, giving
the party some power over the country's wrecked economy.
In the months since then, top officials in Mugabe's ZANU-PF (Zimbabwe
African National Union-Popular Front), who once enjoyed absolute power, have
been forced into awkward proximity with their former enemies-talking with
them at cabinet meetings, having meals with them, even sharing suites in
cabinet retreats in the Zim-babwean bush. Still, as Human Rights Watch
recently reported, Mugabe retains much control, even if ministries are
officially under the authority of the MDC.
MDC officials, including Tsvangirai, argue that such grudging and partial
cooperation is evidence that Zimbabwe is slowly building democratic
institutions, establishing the rule of law, and laying the groundwork for a
new constitution and free and fair elections next time around. "I see it as
a process, and I believe the process is on track," I was told by David
Coltart, a constitutional lawyer, MDC member of Zimbabwe's Senate, and the
newly appointed minister of education. Coltart has reopened thousands of
schools that had been abandoned during the Mugabe dictatorship because their
teachers went unpaid. Coltart concedes, however, that the current $155
monthly teacher's salary is barely enough for basic essentials, and members
of the Zimbabwe Teachers Association, the largest of three unions, went on
strike in early September to protest living in "abject poverty and perpetual
Nor does everybody share Coltart's optimism. In a huge series of concessions
by the MDC that many within Tsvangirai's own circle opposed, the ZANU-PF
still has control over the army, the police, the courts, the jails, and the
Ministry of Information, which regulates the press. Thus Mugabe's henchmen
have kept their hands on levers of coercive power, including the ability to
harass and detain their enemies. "Mugabe was beaten in an election, he came
back through violence, and...I think he is having the last laugh," I was
told by Farai Maguwu, a human rights activist in Mutare, in eastern
Zimbabwe. Indeed, there is ample evidence that the MDC has been
outmaneuvered by Mugabe and his cronies, and that the former dictator,
rather than being diminished, has walked away from the deal with his power
and his privileges largely intact, and his legitimacy-to some
Tendai Biti, the MDC leader and new finance minister, exemplifies the
cautious optimism-or, critics would say, naiveté-of the MDC today. Biti
works out of a corner office on the fifth floor of a dilapidated high-rise
on Samora Machel Avenue, the main thoroughfare in Harare. A tall, burly
figure with a booming voice, Biti was once one of Mugabe's fiercest
opponents; he called Zimbabwe under the dictator "a predator state
characterized by tolerance for violence." Last fall, Biti urged his MDC
colleagues not to enter into a power-sharing deal, arguing that Tsvangirai,
as the clear winner of the March 2008 election, should form a new government
without Mugabe. He was ignored. "I cried when the national council of the
MDC took the decision to participate [in the unity government]," he told me.
"I wanted to resign. And Morgan spoke to me, and I decided to stay." Since
then, Biti has become a supporter of the alliance.
Biti has rolled back some of Mugabe's most pernicious economic policies. His
biggest target has been the national reserve bank, run by Gideon Gono, a
Mugabe protégé. During his heyday, according to human rights workers,
journalists, and MDC politicians, Gono ran the bank as a personal slush
fund. He printed up trillions of Zimbabwean dollars, which he used to pay
the security forces, purchase agricultural equipment for rural communities
to bolster support for the ZANU-PF, distribute loans to party insiders,
allegedly buy diamonds in newly discovered fields in southeast Zimbabwe
(which he then smuggled out of the country for hefty personal enrichment),
and trade for hard currency at official government rates, which diverged
wildly from black market rates. Gono's money policy fueled a
hyperinflationary spiral: in March 2008, the Zimbabwean dollar was valued at
25 million to the US dollar; two months later, it had fallen to one billion
to the dollar. Factories stopped producing goods. Long lines of people
stretched around city blocks in front of ATM machines, waiting hours to
withdraw the equivalent of US $3-the maximum allowed by law.
In April, Biti abolished the Zimbabwean dollar and made the US dollar legal
tender. (The US dollar was already widely used in Zimbabwe, though
unofficially.) The move brought the inflation rate to near zero, revived the
stock market, put goods back on supermarket shelves and gasoline in the
pumps, and allowed commercial enterprises to establish budgets and return to
business. Last spring ministries began to pay their employees in US dollars,
which has drawn thousands of teachers, doctors, and other civil servants
back to work-though many on the new government salaries are still scraping
Biti couldn't help the millions of Zimbabwean citizens whose pension funds
and savings accounts had been wiped out by hyperinflation. One
sixty-year-old Zimbabwean colleague told me that he had recently cashed out
his 75-trillion-Zimbwabwean-dollar pension fund-and received three US cents.
And the shortage of US bills in circulation has forced some people in rural
areas to barter for goods-paying in grams of gold, crops, or even animals.
(The Associated Press carried a story about a woman in a rural area who
boarded a bus to Harare and offered the driver a trussed, live chicken in
lieu of bus fare.) But overall, he argues, dollarization has restored a
measure of normality to Zimbabwean society.
Other Zimbabweans I spoke to supported this view. In Mutare, a town near the
border with Mozambique, I met Ched Nyamanhindi, a young researcher for the
Center for Research and Development, a human rights advocacy group.
Nyamanhindi used to have to travel across the border to Mozambique two or
three times a week to buy essentials like food and gas, because shops in
Zimbabwe had been stripped bare. But now, he told me, "You have money, you
can budget, you can plan, you can walk into a supermarket and buy food for
your family. There's no more running across the border to buy goods.
Zimbabwe food products, like cooking oil, rice, sugar, salt, mealy meal, are
coming back to the markets."
Some people, however, seem determined to turn back the clock. Gono, who was
appointed-and can only be fired-by Mugabe, recently announced plans to bring
the Zimbabwean dollar back into circulation. Biti says it will never happen:
"I don't have the authority to get rid of him," he told me. "But he can't do
anything without our consent." In July, a package arrived at Biti's home in
Harare containing a nine-millimeter bullet and a message to "sort out your
will." Biti was shaken, though he vowed to continue his reforms.
Mugabe's security forces continue to carry out acts of brutality. The worst
such case took place in Chiadzwa, a vast field of alluvial diamonds that was
discovered in 2006. Immediately after the discovery, diamond panners from
across Zimbabwe-and other parts of Africa-descended on the area, some of
them becoming rich overnight. Following the 2008 elections, Mugabe and the
generals decided to crack down. In Operation Hakudzokwi, or "you won't come
back," two helicopter gunships and hundreds of ground troops attacked the
panners and, over a two-month period, killed several hundred of them,
according to human rights groups, then cordoned off the fields with military
checkpoints. "They shot the miners and left their bodies to rot in the field
for days," the human rights activist Farai Maguwu said, as we stood in front
of what he said was a mass grave at a Mutare cemetery. It contained the
bodies, Maguwu told me, of eighty poor diamond panners, shot down by an army
brigade last November.
Today, the troops augment their paltry incomes by smuggling the diamonds
across the border to Mozambique and selling them to Lebanese buyers. The MDC
has demanded that Mugabe withdraw the army and turn the fields over to a
reputable mining company, in order to bring transparency to the hunt for
diamonds. But nothing has yet happened, and the smuggling goes on. Biti
admitted that the fields-under the authority of the army and the
ZANU-PF-controlled Ministry of Mines-were beyond the reach of his authority
and that the government is now losing any profit from the diamonds. "We are
getting zero," he said.
In other areas as well, the MDC remains powerless. Mugabe's police have
arrested more than a dozen MDC parliamentarians-including ten seized in late
August in a mass arrest during a meeting at the Ministry of Finance-on a
variety of charges ranging from disturbing the peace to abducting a
twelve-year-old girl. In July, the police jailed an MDC deputy minister on
charges of stealing a Nokia cell phone allegedly owned by Joseph Chinotimba,
leader of the Zimbabwe war veterans-who have seized thousands of white-owned
farms, often at gunpoint, in a radical land-reform program initiated by
Mugabe in 2000.
Meanwhile, the land reform falls under the authority of provincial
governors, all of them Mugabe appointees, and of the ZANU-PF-controlled
Ministry of Home Affairs. Seizures of white-owned farms continue, though by
now there are only a few hundred left. (Biti told me that he wanted to stop
the seizures, but that the government would not return land that had already
been confiscated. "You can't reverse the land-reform policies. You cannot
have minority ownership of any resources in the country.")
The Central Intelligence Organization-despite having been withdrawn from
Harare's airport for cosmetic reasons-is still a near-ubiquitous presence in
the rest of the country. The Ministry of Information is still denying
newspapers licenses, arresting journalists, and refusing to accredit others.
Angus Shaw, the Associated Press bureau chief in Harare and a Zimbabwean
citizen, has been working without accreditation for a decade, which can make
him subject to detention at any time. Last month, he told me, he attempted
to attend a press conference held by Morgan Tsvangirai-and was ordered to
leave by a CIO agent lurking around the entrance. "He said, 'if you don't go
now, your next destination will be the police station,'" said Shaw, who has
been writing about the country for nearly forty years.
Such harassment and continuing lawlessness have made a mockery of the MDC's
participation in the unity government-and of Tsvangirai's conciliatory
statements toward Mugabe. (Tsvangirai recently told The Guardian that he had
developed "some chemistry" with the man who had once put him on trial for
treason and threatened to kill him.) "The MDC has sanitized and legitimized
ZANU-PF, and they continue to do so," said Derek Matyszak, a director of the
Research and Advocacy Unit, a human rights organization in Harare. Mugabe
loyalists, Matyszak says, are biding their time, "building up a war chest,
and waiting for the next election." Unless the government comes together,
ratifies a new constitution, and establishes a new date for general
elections, the next parliamentary and presidential vote will take place in
2013. At that point, he believes, the country could experience a new wave of
violence and terror.
By 2013, there is also a good chance that Mugabe, who is eighty-five, will
have faded from the scene. The succession battle continues to play out
inside the ruling party, with attention focusing on two candidates, Joyce
Mujuru, who is vice-president and also the wife of former armed forces
commander Solomon Mujuru; and Emmerson Mnangagwa, currently the minister of
defense. Both are members of Mugabe's Shona tribe-the country's dominant
ethnic group-and both are considered to be hard-liners who stood firmly
behind the campaign of intimidation and violence against MDC supporters and
activists in the spring of 2008.
Neither of them, however, is believed to be a favorite of South African
President Jacob Zuma, who has taken a more critical position toward Mugabe
and his henchmen than his notoriously passive predecessor, Thabo Mbeki. Zuma
is believed to be taking a close interest in the struggle within the ruling
party to succeed Mugabe as president, though it remains unclear just how
strongly he will throw his weight behind Morgan Tsvangirai. (On the other
hand, Mugabe and his party, the ZANU-PF, are so widely unpopular in Zimbabwe
now that Zuma would badly damage his credibility if he is seen to be
meddling in internal ZANU-PF rivalries.)
This spring both Morgan Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti traveled across Western
Europe and to Washington, seeking financial support for the unity
government. Their efforts were largely unsuccessful. President Obama met
with Tsvangirai at the White House in June and pledged $73 million to
Zimbabwe, a relative pittance. He also refused to place the money directly
into the hands of the government, channeling it instead through aid
organizations and United Nations agencies. The funds will go to specific
ministries, such as health and education, that are run by the MDC. Other
Western leaders have refused to support the new government, despite cautious
approval of Tsvangirai personally. In September, a European Union delegation
traveled to Harare for its first talks with Mugabe in seven years, but
refused to lift sanctions, citing continued lack of progress in human
rights. "The default position among the donors is 'sit back and do
nothing,'" I was told in Harare by a Michigan State professor and native
Zimbabwean who arrived in the country in August to conduct a research study
for the World Bank. "Nobody wants to contribute funds that might end up
propping up the old guard." Western donors have established a set of
benchmarks that the unity government must meet-including establishing the
rule of law, respect for democracy and human rights, and commitment to free
and fair elections-before the money begins flowing. A US diplomat told me
that "the government hasn't come close" to meeting them.
For their part, regional leaders, including Zuma, who pushed hard for the
formation of a unity government last year, have eased off Mugabe in the last
few months, glad that the sense of crisis has faded and apparently eager to
return to business as usual. At a gathering of southern African heads of
state in Kinshasa in early September, the leaders repeated a call for
lifting sanctions against Mugabe and his cronies, citing improvements in
human rights and the economy.
Biti and Tsvangirai were hoping to emerge from their trips with pledges that
would allow Zimbabwe to pay off its loans from the World Bank and
International Monetary Fund. "I think the donors are being selfish," Biti
told me. "They are sulking. They are unhappy that Mugabe is a part of this
inclusive government. They wanted proper and pure regime change. But when
you are fighting a dictatorship, using nonviolent means, whatever you do is
gradual." Already, he said, "People can put on MDC T-shirts right now
without violence, people can get on with their lives without any reprisals."
I asked Biti about Mugabe cronies who had benefited from ZANU-PF hegemony,
and who were desperate to avoid the possibility of judgment in The Hague or
some other court. "They are not powerful enough to derail this process," he
insisted. Like the Western donors, he said, "They can sulk and sulk, but we
are going to do what we have to do to give our people a chance." The trouble
with such statements is that they are made under the still heavy shadow of
Mugabe and his goons.
-September 23, 3009 [sic]