|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
An air of calm surrounds Sandra Nyaira. Sitting in Edinburgh’s Apex Hotel and proudly sporting an Africawoman T-shirt, she betrays no trace of anxiety about the fact that the visa which allows her to remain in Britain runs out today. Should she return to her native Zimbabwe, the chances are, she’ll be arrested. Nyaira’s crime is to exert a right that we in Scotland take for granted - freedom of speech. As a journalist on the country’s one independent newspaper, the Daily News, her work exposing corruption within the government put her directly in President Robert Mugabe regime’s line of fire. Having spent the last year on study leave in London, Nyaira had hoped to return to her role as political editor at the Daily News. But two days ago several of her colleagues were arrested as the government once more attempted to silence any dissenting voices. Add to this conflicting reports of the state of Mugabe’s health, a general strike by health workers and you have a country that is showing no signs of stability. Despite having been in the eye of the storm, Nyaira is determined to return.
The fortunes of Zimbabwe have been played out on the world stage since it won independence in 1980. Home to dramatic landscapes, not least Victoria Falls, the country was long seen as the bread basket of southern Africa, as a major food producer and the world’s third biggest source of tobacco. But the former Rhodesia has also witnessed much conflict dating back to the white settlers who dispossessed the resident population through to the recent seizure of white-owned agricultural land. This controversial land reform programme has resulted in food shortages that, combined with drought, has left millions at risk of famine. The 23 years of rule under Mugabe has seen the economy decimated and witnessed a stream of human rights violations as well as one of the world’s highest rates of HIV/AIDS infection. As Nyaira says, "You don’t get a good story from Zimbabwe, you really don’t, it’s all negative."
Having hit rock bottom, Nyaira and others like her, are determined to do whatever it takes to return their country to a state they can be proud of.
Last year, Nyaira received a Courage in Journalism award from the International Women’s Media Foundation (IWMF). In a statement, the Foundation said: "She works amid almost daily harassment in a country with one of the worst press freedom records in the world." It’s fair to say that the 29-year-old has experienced the sharp end of journalism. Which is perhaps surprising considering she fell into the profession almost by accident.
"The thing about being an African girl is you are not expected to speak out about any ills you see around you in society," she says. "You are supposed to be submissive, you are supposed to listen to what your elders say." Having spent so many years hiding her feelings, it seems there was a lot of expression waiting to come out. On one occasion, Nyaira was made to stay at home for an extra mathematics lesson while her fellow students went to a careers open day. They came back with vivid tales about the journalism stand, notably their experiences of trying out radio and television broadcasting for the first time. In a nutshell, Nyaira says: "I fell in love with the studio, before I even saw it." On leaving high school, Nyaira was accepted for a two-year course in print journalism and by 1995 she was working on a community newspaper.
"They thought it was being too critical but we were just writing what was happening in the country. I guess that’s where I really got this thing about working in the independent media."
When Nyaira talks about the early days of the Daily News, she lights up. "It was beautiful. I still feel this big sense of loss about what has happened, because I was there before the paper went onto the streets." For the pioneering journalists, it wasn’t easy - they sometimes had to go without salaries, but they were driven by the belief that Zimbabweans need an independent voice. "We were so united, saying we should carry this paper to greater heights and boy did we do it," she says. "So many people were buying the paper, getting international and local information, it was a good feeling."
Establishing the paper in 1999 was a considerable achievement, but it seems none of those involved expected the level of hostility they were soon to experience.
From it’s launch, the Daily News was consistently critical of Mugabe and his ruling party, Zanu-PF (Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front). Nyaira says the first form of resistance from the government came by putting pressure on advertisers. It wasn’t long before a concerted campaign of more direct action began. The newspaper’s offices were petrol-bombed, vendors received beatings and then in April 2001, Nyaira and two of her colleagues were arrested and charged with "criminal defamation". The cause was what Nyaira describes as a "big story" she had broken. She had uncovered and verified information about a company contracted by the Zimbabwe government to build a new terminal at Harare International Airport. It seems that the tender had been eased along by a number of substantial donations to officials within the government and a letter suggested that Mugabe was aware of the corruption. The state media instantly hit back by attacking Nyaira, branding her a liar who was being used by British Imperialists and who was trying to destroy the president.
"You can imagine your mother is at home and listening to those stories and she wants you to get out of it as soon as possible," she says, "but you don’t want to get out of it because that’s what you know how to do best, and it is what you love."
Although frightened for what might happen next, Nyaira remained defiant. She describes the government’s aggression as a process of trying to make journalists censor themselves, because they are scared of the consequences. Despite this, she remained dedicated to writing the truth for the long-term good of the country. "The human rights situation is appalling and it was the Daily News which was exposing the government for what they really were - their lack of spending, their archaic laws, the policies that have made sure that Zimbabwe falls deeper into oblivion. It will be difficult for us to get out of that." As the pressure grew for Nyaira, a colleague suggested she apply for the British Council’s Chevening scholarship scheme, which facilitates study overseas. She was accepted and a year ago enrolled at City University, London, to study for a Masters in International Journalism. Watching events unfold from afar has proved a painful process. She describes the experience of opening the newspapers each day to find yet more bad press about Zimbabwe as an embarrassment.
"You wake up in the morning, someone has been killed. You wake up in the morning, someone has been tortured. You wake up in the morning, someone’s house has been burnt because of politics, because of intolerance, because we don’t want to tolerate others." She regrets the polarisation that has emerged within the Zimbabwean media itself, whereby some of her fellow journalists celebrated the demise of the Daily News. "You have a society that is working against itself," says Nyaira.
The current crisis at the Daily News arose after a court ruled that the government was wrong to refuse the newspaper a licence. The paper went back on sale but several directors were promptly arrested and the offices closed. As the legal wrangling continues, Nyaira has spoken to colleagues who have told her that they have to don disguises to move around freely. Those arrested have also told her that her name is included on the government’s "wanted" list, meaning that if she was to return, she would most likely face arrest. However, Nyaira points out that although she is on study leave, she is also still on the payroll of the Daily News. She would be back at work now if current events hadn’t made it seem wiser to delay.
"I am hoping and praying that something will happen. But without the paper I have no protection, I have no-one to fight for me," she says. While she waits to hear if her visa can be extended, Nyaira says the one thing she won’t do is apply for political asylum. She believes that Zimbabwe needs its young journalists to use their skills to the benefit of their own nation. "Seeking political asylum is saying to Robert Mugabe ‘look you’ve won’. He must not win at the end of the day, the people of Zimbabwe must be the ultimate winners."
To secure that victory, Nyaira is prepared to do whatever it takes. "There comes a time in life when going to jail must become an honourable thing. Because we are fighting for democracy and when that independence eventually comes, we must be proud of it and say we really fought for it and we did it together. So that’s what I feel right now. I know I’m going to go back, even if they arrest me." Until that time comes, Nyaira has been putting her energy into writing for Africawoman, a publication comprising African women journalists from nine different countries. She describes it as a source of salvation as it gives her a platform to write about what is happening to people at grassroots level in Zimbabwe. Her visit to Edinburgh has involved protesting at the Education Ministers Commonwealth Conference to try and ensure that African development funds are not diverted to fund the reconstruction of Iraq, while also highlighting the need for Zimbabwe’s own budget to prioritise social services above war. Nyaira is also soon to launch and run Africawoman’s new human rights project, which will target issues such as lack of access to education, especially for girls, access to resources and basic amenities.
Nyaira makes it clear that she considers it essential that the international community does not forget about her homeland. "At the moment there’s a fatigue on issues that are affecting Zimbabwe. We are saying that if you grow weary, if you get tired then the people of Zimbabwe will be slaughtered, because no-one is speaking for them." She describes Zimbabwe as being in an abyss, but despite the damage that has been done, she is optimistic that recovery is possible. "We need to start thinking about the post-Mugabe era, what’s going to happen, what do we need to do. I know people are prepared to work for their country so that it is brought back into the limelight to being a country where people want to visit." If her countrymen share even some of Nyaira’s determination, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel for Zimbabwe.
Exporting producers also have limited access to hard currency due
regulations compelling them to surrender half their US dollar earnings to
the central bank in exchange for Zimbabwe dollars at an unattractive
official exchange rate.
President Robert Mugabe's government has maintained the official rate
at Z$824 to the US dollar since February, but the local currency trades as
high as Z$5 600 on the parallel market, prompting calls from mining
companies for the rate to be changed.
The chamber said:
"The amount of foreign currency being retained by mineral producers is
no longer sufficient to maintain, let alone grow, the sector."
The industry was also battling to contain operating costs in a
hyperinflationary environment that has pushed the prices of inputs to
"It is no longer possible to undertake long-term planning, an activity
critical to the survival of the industry," the chamber said.
Figures provided by the chamber yesterday showed that 50 mines across
the sector had closed since 1996, mainly because of viability problems.
But the chamber said it was not aware of any closures directly linked
to the fuel crisis.
The foreign currency and fuel shortages are symptoms of an economic
crisis widely blamed on government mismanagement, and also shown in food
shortages, record unemployment and one of the world's highest rates of
inflation at nearly 460 percent.
Mugabe denies that his government has mismanaged the economy and says
the economy has been sabotaged by local and foreign opponents.
JAG OPEN LETTER FORUM
Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
Please send any material for publication in the Open Letter Forum to
email@example.com with "For Open Letter Forum" in the subject line.
After all that has been written on the Forum and after all the debates that
have taken place, are we anywhere nearer to an answer? Is there a consensus
emerging, a meeting of the minds, or are farmers/ex-farmers just doing
their own thing without any plan or moral principles? At one time we could
sit down as a group, discuss a matter, come to a decision and each and
every individual would keep to his side of the bargain and honour the
agreement, often at no little cost to himself. Japie Jackson once
mentioned salt....... are we still worth our salt?
By way of a test I would like to outline my scenario and then ask the Ben
Freeths, the Kinnairds, Dave Jouberts and Willie Robinsons for their
considered opinions. I must not forget of course the Taylor-Freemes and
Hawgoods of this world, their views are important too.
Here goes: We were thrown off our farm last year. Our
neighbours/friends/town-friends were superb; they helped us in so many ways
morally and physically. We lost considerably, but refused to make any deals
with the regime. And so we settled in town, our spirits dented but our
principles intact. We had been able to keep a few cattle back on a kind
neighbour's farm so we still had a tenuous stake in farming.
Sometime later I was stopped on the road near the "old" farm by one of the
war-vet squatters. He suggested I take my cattle back to the farm. He
wanted me to pay rent for the cattle and at the same time supply water to
the intruders. I was sorely missing our farm and the prospect of a partial
return was tempting, but I refused the offer. I firmly believe that it is
morally wrong to work with these criminals. In any case to do so would be
to give them a sense of legality and at the same time facilitate their
occupation of my property. I want them to struggle; I don't want to make
their stay possible let alone worthwhile.
Question: Am I being stupid?
Moving on: There were no cattle on the farm. The grazing was thick and
lush........that was until one of our local entrepreneurs, and one time
"friend", made a deal with the squatters, without my knowledge, to cut and
bale my grass. This has been going on for months, he must have reaped
thousands of bales. At nearly $2000.00 per bale he's made a fortune out of
my predicament. I had no hesitation in adding his name to the list of ZANU
PF cadres/war-vets/undesirables etc. who will be summoned to court when
this saga unfolds.
Question: Am I being unreasonable? Should I forgive and rejoice in his
ability to survive in such harsh times?
The final part of my poser arose the other day. One of my "old" neighbours
asked if he could make an arrangement with the squatters to graze some of
his cattle on part of my farm. The fact is, I refused .....my very words to
him were: "I'd rather you didn't." I then suggested he put his cattle on
the farm where our cattle had been grazing since we were actually in the
process of disposing of our herd. I have since been vilified by a third
party for using offensive language and for not helping a neighbour in
trouble. He condemned me for being "so unchristian".
Question: Did I do wrong? What would you have done in my place?
I don't want to turn your Forum into "The Dear JAG, Agony column", but I
would like to hear what other people have to say.
It is only when we stop**.
stop blaming CFU
stop pointing fingers at our neighbours for paying off the regime
stop undermining each other
stop looking behind us
and start looking forward**.
that we will be able to heal and repair*
On a trip to Harare from Mutare I happened to stop in at Macheke Motors to
buy a drink, out of curiosity I asked the attendant if he had any diesel
for sale!!! His answer was yes, but only for farmers, I informed him that I
was a farmer but all I got was an embarrassed grin, of course it is only
for farmers, but black farmers only, and the price? $200.00 a litre. What a
sham and a dreadful use of taxpayers' money. How can a farmer like us ever
hope to survive?
Letter 4: Harare Anglican Church
If I was Anglican, I am sure I would be working flat out to have this evil
removed from my church! It would appear that the Anglicans are doing
absolutely NOTHING about this dreadful blot on their copybook.
>From The Sunday Times (UK), 26 October
Anglican bishop grabs white farm in Zimbabwe
Brian Latham and Jon Swain
An Anglican bishop has seized a previously white-owned farm for himself and
his family in one of Zimbabwe's prime agricultural districts. In the
process, Nolbert Kunonga, the Bishop of Harare and a close associate of
President Robert Mugabe, has evicted more than 50 black workers and their
families to make way for his own staff. Senior figures believe Kunonga's
actions will damage the international reputation of Anglicanism. "The
Anglican Church is going to be compromised by this action. It will
debilitate our authority," said a source close to Rowan Williams, the
Archbishop of Canterbury. "Dr Williams is determined Anglicans should
provide a solution and not a problem to the crisis in Zimbabwe." St Marnock
's farm, which Kunonga has taken over, is just 10 miles from the old
stone-clad cathedral of St Mary's in the centre of Harare, the capital,
from where he officiates. Since his controversial election in April 2001,
Kunonga has been one of the most wayward figures in Anglicanism and a worry
for Williams. The archbishop has taken a close interest in Zimbabwe and was
briefed on the situation there earlier this year by Pius Ncube, the
Catholic Archbishop of Bulawayo and a critic of Kunonga. Ncube once accused
the Anglican Church in Zimbabwe of aligning itself with the "forces of
Visitors to St Marnock's said yesterday that Kunonga's son had moved into
the seven-bedroom farmhouse overlooking a dam and what were once 2,000
acres of wheat and soya bean fields, now abandoned. "I'd love to get back
there to farm again, but I can't see it happening soon," said Marcus Hale,
25, the legal owner of St Marnock's, who studied at the Royal Agricultural
College in Cirencester, Gloucestershire. "There's nothing happening there
now. The machinery is all lying useless in the sheds and they won't let me
take it. No one has done anything about planting a crop for this season."
Hale was kicked off his farm some months before the 49- year-old bishop
took it over. "I think Kunonga wants the farm because it's so close to
Harare and he thinks he can use it for property development," he said. It
is believed Kunonga was given Hale's farm as a reward for his outspoken
support for Mugabe. He has mocked the president's black opponents as
"puppets of the West". Mugabe's policy of land seizures, which has plunged
the country into its worst crisis since independence from Britain in 1980,
is largely being blamed for a two-year hunger crisis that threatens the
lives of 5.5m Zimbabweans.
Additional reporting: Christopher Morgan
All letters published on the open Letter Forum are the views and opinions
of the submitters, and do not represent the official viewpoint of Justice
Ticket scam hits NRZ
A TICKET scam has apparently hit the National Railways of Zimbabwe, with
some of the parastatal’s employees, acting in concert with some printers,
coming up with fake tickets.
Two employees were arrested after they were allegedly found with 3 000 fake
commuter train tickets in Harare this week.
The two, who were supposed to sell genuine NRZ tickets to commuters, were
allegedly selling fake tickets to unsuspecting commuters at the railway
According to the police, alert members of the public provided them with
information that some NRZ employees were selling fake tickets.
The two were arrested when they had gone to collect the fake tickets from a
They are still in police custody and are expected to appear in court soon
facing fraud charges.
It is alleged that the suspects would approach some printers who would
re-print the original tickets that they would have been issued to sell by
"The printing company would copy the original tickets using even the same
ticket numbers as the originals," said Harare police spokesperson Assistant
Inspector Memory Pamire.
She said the printers told the police that the two suspects had approached
them at least four times.
The Government introduced commuter trains to ease transport problems in
Harare and Bulawayo. Their fares of $150 for a trip to and from town, are 10
times cheaper than commuter omnibuses which are charging between $1 000 and
200 000 policies up in smoke
10/30/2003 8:57:07 AM (GMT +2)
OLD MUTUAL, the local bourse’s bellwether stock, is taking the unusual
step of prematurely phasing out 200 000 policies to ostensibly put an end to
an inflation-induced savage slump in the value of the policies — underlining
the economic fall-out and sweeping nature of run-away inflation.
This exercise that will see the insurance giant paying out $15 billion
to qualifying policyholders is being handled by Old Mutual’s individual life
portfolio whose assets are estimated at $45 billion.
A company official yesterday told The Financial Gazette that the
policies that were being phased included all those over two years old
excluding "market-linked products". This also included taxed, pure
investment products such as pure endowment policies without life cover.
The policies to be phased out are generally known as Reversionary
Bonus policies, usually taken out under various names such as education
policies or for other specific purposes as raising a deposit for a house or
"A special actuarially determined payout value has been worked out.
Depending on the length of time the policy has been on the books, this
special value could be equal to or less than the original maturity value.
Obviously, the longer the policy has been on the books the greater the
value. We believe the special payout value to be fair to the client," said
George Dire, general manager for Old Mutual Unit Trusts.
Although the plan is still thin on detail and hazy as to the
timetable, the move is most likely to leave a nasty taste in the mouth for
shell-shocked policyholders, waking up to the fact that their several years
worth of investments are now worthless. It also underscores how the
hyperinflationary environment is playing havoc with the people’s lives in
Zimbabwe today .
The deep-seated inflation crisis has been distressing to investors’
psyches, as it has been exceedingly costly to their portfolios. Except for
the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange which, being the only seaworthy vessel for
investors, continues to defy both logic and gravity, most investment
instruments have realised negative returns against the highly inflationary
Government, which itself has been roundly accused of fuelling
inflation through its insatiable appetite for funds, has failed to come up
with inflation-beating measures. The rate of inflation is conservatively
projected at just above 500 percent by the end of the year.
A significant number of the affected policy-holders might have taken
out the insurance policies during the rush to buy policies ahead of
demutualisation in the hope of getting cheap shares. Old Mutual
(demutualised) changed from a mutual association to a company some five
years ago. This effectively separated the policyholders or the customer base
Market watchers said there was credence to claims that policyholders
risked having the values of their policies completely wiped out as the
country grapples with surging inflation. But policyholders caught between
reality and insecurity could take the news with a mixture of disgust and
despair as the implications of this surprise move begin to sink in.
Old Mutual said this week that it was in the interest of the
policyholders for the company to calculate special encashment values after
which clients could purchase new products using the funds from their phased
policies, invest the money in the Old Mutual Group or leave their policies
as they were but mindful of the implications of inflation on their values.
The company said to avoid such a situation in the future, it had now
developed a new generation of products tailor-made for the Zimbabwean
economy where both life cover and premiums would grow in line with changes
in inflation. This would ensure that benefits would remain relevant at claim
stage and also that premiums kept their real value.
Fingaz price up
THE cover price of The Financial Gazette will increase to $1500 with
effect from November 6, Fingaz general manager Jacob Chisese announced this
Chisese said the recent huge increases in the price of newsprint and
other production costs had necessitated the latest increase from $1 000 to
$1 500. The newspaper’s cover price was last reviewed at the beginning of
Chisese said the latest increases would not immediately affect
existing subscribers. He said subscribers could renew their subscriptions at
the old rate until November 6.
Gold tycoon nabbed in SA
10/30/2003 8:58:02 AM (GMT +2)
A PROMINENT Zimbabwean business tycoon was arrested in South Africa
last week after he was found in possession of 144kg of gold worth an
estimated US$2 million (about $12 billion on the parallel market).
Acting on a tip-off, the police in South Africa arrested the
businessmen and his son (names supplied) on October 17 2003 for possessing
the bullion in their private plane, which had landed at the Johannesburg
Details of the flight seem to suggest that the private plane, a Cessna
210, had been flown from Harare via Beira.
The precious metal and the private plane have since been impounded
pending investigations as the South African police move to unravel the
jigsaw puzzle. The net closed in on the businessman as it emerged that he
has been supplying an average of 100kgs of gold per week to the South
African-based Rand Refineries.
Sergeant Sanku Tsunke of the South African Police confirmed to The
Financial Gazette yesterday that the businessman, who operates family gold
milling centres in Bindura and Shamva as well as a tyre franchise in Harare,
was discovered with the 144kg of gold.
Tsunke said the businessman and his son were then summoned to the
Johannesburg Central Police Station’s gold unit squad for questioning. The
two were later released after the police recorded statements.
"The police wanted to confirm whether there were no illegal dealings
involving the gold. At this stage we cannot say what the police findings are
because investigations are still going on," Tsunke said in a telephone
Police in South Africa have since widened the investigations to cover
other regional countries, namely Zambia and Mozambique, amid suspicions that
the two countries which border Zimbabwe could have been used as springboards
because of their lax security.
Initial findings by the special South Africa police suggest that the
export documents, which emanated from Zambia, could have been forged.
Efforts to contact the businessman at his Harare offices were
fruitless as an official at his Charter Road branch revealed that the
businessman was still in South Africa together with his son.
Police spokesperson Superintendent Wayne Bvudzijena could not comment
on the issue, saying he had no jurisdiction over South African police.
The arrest comes at a time when the government, hard-pressed for
foreign currency needed to import electricity and fuel among other things,
has launched full-scale investigations into the operations of gold miners
It is estimated that the country, which had to suspend bureaux de
change late last year in a desperate attempt to improve foreign currency
inflows, could be losing at least six tonnes of gold valued at more than
US$59 million every year through smuggling and other illicit deals.
While the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), the gold squad and the Mines
Ministry have tightened screws on gold leakages, dealers have found ways of
Under the existing arrangement, Fidelity Printers, which is a
subsidiary of the RBZ, is the sole buyer of the bullion in Zimbabwe. The
mining sector contributes close to half of the country’s foreign currency
earnings and about six percent to the Gross Domestic Product.
Mines and Energy Minister Edward Chindori-Chininga has in the past
hinted that gold mine owners who leaked the bullion would face heavy
penalties such as the forfeiture of their mines to the state or compensating
the government with hard cash for money lost.
Tsvangirai poll challenge misdirected: Mugabe
10/30/2003 9:03:46 AM (GMT +2)
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe says Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
leader Morgan Tsvangirai is misdirecting himself in trying to challenge the
validity of a number of laws through an election petition instead of just
concentrating on challenging the poll results.
In his heads of arguments filed at the High Court last week in
response to Tsvangirai’s arguments in the election petition seeking to
nullify his re-election last year, President Mugabe urged the court to
ignore a number of issues raised by the petitioner which he said were
irrelevant to the poll challenge.
However, in his arguments, President Mugabe made no reference to
Tsvangirai’s main argument that the Electoral Supervisory Commission — the
body that runs elections in Zimbabwe — was not legally constituted at the
time of the poll and, therefore, not qualified to conduct the election in
President Mugabe said some of the arguments given by Tsvangirai in his
election challenge, like a challenge to the constitutionality of Section 158
of the Electoral Act, were filed way after the statutory 30 days from the
end of the poll and should therefore not be considered.
He argued that the court was just supposed to focus its attention on
whether he was duly re-elected or not and if Tsvangirai had problems with
various other laws, he was free to raise them separately instead of doing it
through an election petition.
"The petitioner, it has been shown, in his misdirected endeavour,
sought to impugn the various laws using an election petition. This, it has
been shown, cannot be done," President Mugabe said in court papers filed by
his lawyer, Terrence Hussein, of Harare law firm Hussein Ranchhod & Co.
He said the court was only supposed to make a determination on the
order sought in a court application filed on April 12 2002 and in terms of
Section 102 of the Electoral Act, not other issues raised after this legal
"Once a petition is so filed, only the provisions of the Electoral Act
and the regulations apply thereto as regards the content of the petition,
the procedure and ultimately the manner in which the petition is
determined," he said.
"More importantly, the Act makes it clear what the court may order at
the conclusion of the hearing. Section 102 states that only one of two
orders may be handed down by this honourable court, that is, (a) that the
president was duly elected. . .; or (b) that the president was not duly
President Mugabe said there was no room in an election petition for
the court to make other orders, especially regarding some other laws and
processes that Tsvangirai is challenging.
He further argued that according to the law, the High Court can only
nullify presidential elections after a trial, not just a preliminary hearing
as Tsvangirai is misguided to believe.
"The petitioner is, therefore, with respect, over-ambitious when he
urges this honourable court, after hearing argument on the initial issues to
invalidate the election," he argued. "With respect, this is not legally
possible. Section 102 (2) of the Electoral Act clearly envisages that the
validity of an election to the office of president may only be determined at
President Mugabe said the constitutionality of Section 158 which
Tsvangirai is making a big issue out of can not be determined as part of the
election petition because it was filed out of time, but even in the event
that the court considers it, it will not affect the outcome of the election.
"It is submitted that in the event that this honourable court finds
that Section 158 is invalid, the invalidity cannot be retrospective."
President Mugabe also argues that if Tsvangirai has problems with the
present interpretation of Section 149 of the Electoral Act, he can not seek
the courts to change the law for him as the courts are only there to apply
law, not make it.
Tsvangirai has indicated that he will argue that Section 149 of the
Electoral Act, which in its present form, requires a petitioner to
"demonstrate failure to conduct the election in accordance with the
principles for a free and fair election laid down in the Electoral Act" and
also to "demonstrate the occurrence of a mistake or failure which
demonstrably affected the result of the election" is wrong.
According to Tsvangirai, the Law Reviser, the official with the
responsibility for publishing legislation passed by parliament, did not
publish the correct version of the law because the correct version passed by
Parliament required a petitioner to demonstrate only one of the defined
shortfalls in an election, not both.
"This honourable court can not make law or choose between what it
perceives as a good law or a bad law . . . in any event, it is not proper
for the petitioner to seek the setting aside of the revision in an election
petition, he should institute proceedings in the appropriate forum citing
the Law Reviser."
Tungamirai guns for Muzenda’s post
Brian Mangwende Acting News Editor
10/30/2003 9:06:28 AM (GMT +2)
RETIRED Chief Air Vice Marshal, Josiah Tungamirai, this week openly
declared his interest in the Gutu North seat which fell vacant following the
death of ZANU PF chief strategist vice president Simon Muzenda last month
although it was not immediately clear whether he will get sufficient backing
from his ruling party colleagues.
Tungamirai, who served at one time as the chief military advisor to
Josiah Tongogara, the late Commander-in-Chief of the ZANLA forces, told The
Financial Gazette this week that there was no going back on his decision to
occupy the political void left by Muzenda in Masvingo.
"I am very interested in contesting for that seat and I’ll meet any
challenge that comes my way," the former air force chief said.
"I was born in Gutu and soon after I retired from the air force, I
went back to Gutu and told the people that I was at their service. We had
brushes here and there with the late vice president, but we reconciled and
buried our differences and started working well together."
Tungamirai, a member of the party’s supreme decision-making body, the
politburo, said campaigning for the seat had not, however, started, adding
that ". . . well, it’s a bit too early since we are still mourning the death
of the vice president. But, however, there are some people who are doing
some ground work here and there, but we have not yet started vigorously
On whether the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, General
Vitalis Zvinavashe, whose name is being touted as the next godfather of
Masvingo and a possible contestant for the same seat, posed a threat to him,
Tungamirai said he was ready to battle it out with anyone.
"I am not afraid of any competition," Tungamirai, a non-constituency
Member of Parliament, said. "Whoever wants to challenge me must come out in
the open. I am ready to battle it out with anyone."
Zvinavashe is reportedly set to retire in December and embark on a
political career laid before him by ruling party bigwigs. But until he
removes the uniform, the army commander is not legible to contest the
ZANU PF’s national chairman John Nkomo said it was too early to start
campaigning for the Gutu North seat, seeing that Muzenda died only last
"It’s still too early for that," Nkomo, who has taken up the late
Muzenda’s duties, said. "Besides, what we would like to see the people of
that province do is to reach a consensus so we avoid primary elections.
People are allowed to express their interest, but the party has not focused
on that yet."
Born on October 8 1948 in Gutu, Tungamirai attended Mutero Mission
Primary School and later went to Chikwingwizha Minor Seminary, Gweru, for
his Ordinary Levels before going to the then Salisbury Polytehnic for his
Advanced Level education.
He then left the country on a long journey to Botswana, Zambia and
Tanzania where he received military training before going to the battlefront
with his first encounter being in Mount Darwin in 1972.
Later he became the political commissar for Masvingo province before
he was elevated into the ZANLA high command.
In 1982 Tungamirai transferred to the air force as air vice marshal
and later air marshal, a position he held until his retirement in 1992.
Zvobgo still in hospital
10/30/2003 9:07:19 AM (GMT +2)
ZANU PF founder member and legal supremo Eddison Zvobgo is reportedly
still hospitalised in a private ward at a clinic in Cape Town, South Africa,
where he was flown last week to receive specialist treatment on a brain
tumor he developed over the years.
A high ranking ZANU PF official in Masvingo said Zvobgo, the
legislator for Masvingo South, was suffering from a brain tumor which causes
"We are still waiting to receive information on his progress after the
operation," the official, who preferred to remain anonymous, told The
Zvobgo, who has been in and out of the news lately after he was
accused of sabotaging President Robert Mugabe’s re-election campaign last
year, was meant to appear before the ruling party’s disciplinary hearing
last month, but the move has since been suspended indefinitely.
The outspoken politician has since dismissed the charges as
"demeaning" and a "pack of lies" saying it was the work of rivals within
ZANU PF in a relentless efforts to remove him from a party he founded.
President Mugabe controversially won last year’s presidential election
in a poll marred by unprecedented violence since the country attained
independence from Britain in 1980 — results which were rejected by the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change and the international community.
Doctors strike: Final blow to dying Zim?
10/30/2003 9:09:25 AM (GMT +2)
THE crippling industrial action by junior doctors, which has since
been backed by nurses, could be the final hammer blow on Zimbabwe’s heal-th
delivery system already teetering on the verge of collapse.
Commentators this week said industrial disturbances in the health
delivery sector which has since lost a raft of key personnel that left for
pastures anew and facing a critical shortages of essential drugs, and
equipment caused by the non-availability of foreign currency, could
effectively derail efforts to breathe life into the system.
Junior and middle level doctors went on strike — the fourth this
year — last week demanding hefty salary increases of up to $30 million per
month. Health Minister David Parirenyatwa dismissed them at the weekend as
"black market salaries" that the government could not afford.
Nurses, who have similar grievances about remuneration and poor
working conditions, this week joined the strike and effectively paralysed
the country’s public health system in what analysts said could be the last
straw on Zimbabwe’s decrepit health sector.
"We fully appreciate and it is in our conscience that we are guided by
ethics in our profession, but everyone has a breaking point. If one cannot
fend for themselves, how can they professionally consider another person’s
This is what Hospital Doctors’ Association (HDA) president Phibion
Manyanga had to say as doctors and nurses took a decision to forsake the
Hippocratic oath they took when they joined the medical profession, to go on
strike for the umpteenth time within the past decade.
The medical workers who were held in high esteem as trend-setters in
social standards in the 1980s have over the past decade haplessly watched
their status eroded to leave them in no better position than semi-skilled
workers toiling in the industries to survive from hand-to-mouth.
Since 1990, doctors and nurses have had several strikes, the most
notable one in 1996, which went for a record 49 days resulting in wholesale
dismissals and en-masse resignations, a severe blow that the country has not
been able to recover to this day.
Social analyst Alois Masepe said unless the government can move in to
find holistic solutions to the problems bedevilling the whole economy, it
would be very difficult for it to find solutions to recurrent strikes by the
country’s medical staff.
"We all know that the government cannot afford to pay the doctors the
$30 million they are demanding, but a solution has to be found to keep
them," Masepe said.
"We should know that these people are very marketable . . . they are
in high demand so we should pay the price."
"The medical workers have a case which is legitimate and
understandable," said local economic analyst Lovemore Kadenge. "It is only a
question of quantum that is debatable because we all know that the
government cannot afford to meet what they are demanding."
Kadenge said although remuneration and working conditions were
generally poor within the rest of the civil service, it was important to
appreciate the fact that doctors and other health workers were in a
specialist group that needed special attention to retain them.
This, he said, was because the country cannot afford to continue
losing them to other countries in the backdrop of the HIV/Aids pandemic,
which is threatening to wipe away an entire generation.
The analysts said the challenges posed by AIDS and compounded by
growing poverty made an efficient public health system more important that
"With the growing poverty in the country, it is very important that
the public health system does not collapse because very few families can now
afford seeking medical attention from private practitioners," Kadenge said.
Zimbabwe, with close to 4 000 deaths per week, is billed as one of the
countries with the highest HIV infections in the world, but has in the past
years continued to lose key medical personnel to neighbouring and overseas
countries as they flee from searing poverty at home.
Most of the nurses and doctors are heading for neighbouring countries
like South Africa, Botswana, Mozambique, while others are going as far as
the United Kingdom and United States.
A United Nations Development Programme-funded study released this year
estimates that doctors, nurses and pharmacists constitute about 25 percent
of the 500 000 Zimbabweans in the diaspora.
"The country has become uninhabitable so that is why they are leaving.
It is a very difficult decision to leave one’s own country but at times
circumstances will force you to do it," Masepe said.
The country has just about 800 doctors, way below the required number
of about 2 200.
In the face of increasing exodus of medical staff to other countries,
the government has relied on its links with Communist Cuba and the
Democratic Republic of Congo to bring in expatriate medical staff, mainly
doctors, to maintain a semblance of order at most of its hospitals.
"It is not sustainable to continue bringing in expatriate doctors from
other countries. There are problems like language and even experience so you
will still need to have local locals," Kadenge said.
The analysts said it was also important to appreciate that apart from
poor remuneration, what is also fuelling the current exodus of medical
personnel from the country are frustrations resulting from all-round
shortages in hospitals, which make it difficult even for the most committed
practitioner to deliver.
Zimbabwean public hospitals are now synonymous with shortages of
almost anything, from drugs, to syringes, to blood, to gloves and all other
essentials due to swingeing budget cuts.
The Ministry of Health is seeking a massive $555 billion in the 2004
budget, up from a budget of $122 billion it got this year, an amount, which
it blew out in no time.
Masepe, however, said the government should simultaneously address
problems being faced by all other members of the public service such as
teachers, lecturers and uniformed forces.
New monetary policy only expected after budget
10/30/2003 9:08:09 AM (GMT +2)
A NEW monetary policy, which would be another attempt by the central
bank to deal with ravaging inflation, is now expected to come through after
the presentation of the watershed 2004 national budget pencilled for
Analysts said the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) could have
deliberately delayed announcing the new policy since June this year in order
to synchronise its monetary response with the outcome of the national
The overriding objective of the monetary instrument, said analysts,
would be to rein in excessive money supply growth and curb inflation. The
statement should also outline strategies to end the cash crunch that has
destroyed confidence in the banking system.
But without a substantive RBZ governor, it could be difficult for the
central bank to assure the market that they would be consistency in the
application of policies.
The bank has been without a substantive RBZ boss since the retirement
of Leonard Tsumba in June this year.
A restructuring of the bank is also on the cards, a situation that may
also unnerve the market.
Lovemore Kadenge, president of the Zimbabwe Economics Society (ZES),
said it was almost certain the new monetary policy would be presented after
the announcement of the budget.
He said: "Some of the issues that could be addressed by the monetary
policy should include the exchange rate, inflation, tourism, price controls
and our relations with the international community."
Among the major highlights of the current monetary policy introduced
by the then RBZ governor Tsumba in November last year was the dual interest
Tsumba also cancelled intra-day credit limits to banks, which
effectively meant that banks wishing to borrow from it to cover their
liquidity positions had to use repurchase agreements, whose rates would be
The ZES president said containing inflation from the current 455.6
percent could prove to be a difficult task for the central bank because of
underlying inflationary pressures.
Sentiment on the market is that the Zimbabwe dollar is currently
over-valued and has to be devalued to promote exports and to attract foreign
currency inflows from non-official channels.
Any devaluation of the currency would have the double-edged effect of
improving earnings in Zimbabwe dollar terms, while at the same time making
imports expensive, which is also inflationary.
The government has kept the official exchange rate pegged at $824
against the greenback, but the same unit is fetching as much as $6 000 on
the illegal parallel market.
An investment manager with a local bank said the RBZ was unlikely to
digress from its current expansionary monetary policy because it needs cheap
money for its principal — the government.
Since 2001, the government has kept interest rates low by flooding the
money market with funds as part of efforts to contain the cost of servicing
the domestic debt. The debt now exceeds $600 billion, more than half of
Zimbabwe’s total budget for 2003.
Farai Zizhou, the acting chief executive of the Confederation Zimbabwe
Industries (CZI), said the monetary policy has always been linked to the
"We cannot have a monetary policy on its own since reference has to be
made to the budget statement. So, the monetary policy would have to come
after the budget," said Zizhou.
The acting CZI boss said the new policy should stimulate industrial
production, which is expected to decline by 30 percent this year, adding
that it should also be consistent with the fiscal side.
The major problem facing Zimbabwe has been the huge budget deficit,
which basically means that the government has been spending what it does not
The economy has been in decline, while inflation has soared close to
500 percent, resulting in overall savings tumbling to levels below 9.2
percent of the gross domestic product.
Best Doroh, a senior economist with the Zimbabwe Financial Holdings
Limited, said the monetary policy should be clear on interest rates.
"As it is right now, you cannot tell whether the government is for low
or high interest rates, which has resulted in markets not having a proper
key on how things are," he said.
Doroh said although the government has been under pressure to devalue
the local unit, it is likely to ignore the call.
"If at all they wanted to devalue, they could have done it before the
end of the tobacco selling season," he said.
"The government is facing serious pressure from mining, horticulture
and other sectors of the economy that rely on foreign currency. If ever they
devalue, maybe it would be something to only $1 500 against the United
States dollar, but I doubt if they would do that."
Tobacco industry must not die
8:54:25 AM (GMT +2)
ALREADY suffering ill health after having slipped over every economic
banana skin imaginable, Zimbabwe seems headed for another disaster.
Elsewhere in this issue we have a story which makes for some pretty dismal
reading on facts and figures on the performance of the tobacco industry in
the just ended selling season.
At the risk of stating the obvious, it seems that it is all gloom and
doom in the tobacco sub-sector, which is geared for the unmanufactured
international leaf market. Yet, we cannot over-emphasise the importance to
the economy of the tobacco industry, a premier earner of the greenback which
is in demand as the reserve currency worldwide.
At US$183 million, tobacco export earnings have plummeted by a
staggering 51 percent compared to the preceding year. Only half of last year
’s crop was produced during the just-ended season. This is a worrying trend
which bodes ill for the country’s economy already mired in stagflation — a
situation where rising inflation is accompanied by falling or static
industrial production and employment.
Opinions on the reasons for this disturbing trend are starkly divided.
But the two that have gained a lot of currency are: 1) The land reform
programme ostensibly meant to address historic injustices and inequality but
is now threatened with being reduced to a gravy train benefiting mostly
influential politicians and their cronies. 2) Shortage of critical inputs
emanating from lack of planning on the part of the government.
Once called the "golden leaf", tobacco previously earned well over
US$600 million only five years ago when the economy was in fine fettle,
firing on all cylinders. And as stated earlier, the faltering of the tobacco
industry will not only have serious ramifications for the economy, but could
see Zimbabwe losing its long established lucrative international market.
It is true that locally produced tobacco has had a wonderful footprint
on the international market. Having had established a reputation for
quality, Zimbabwean tobacco has enjoyed a customer pull — there has always
been a gap for the local leaf especially for blending purposes by cigarette
Be that as it may, international buyers need guaranteed supply because
they are in for the long haul and do not buy tobacco on an ad hoc basis.
They will therefore look elsewhere for fear of being wrong-footed in the
event of the local industry collapsing.
Without being alarmist, we have to point out that there is real danger
that having assessed the Zimbabwean situation, international buyers could
already be casting around for alternative suppliers to avoid disruptions to
their operations due to the Zimbabwean drag. That should be cause for
concern because it will not be easy to recapture these markets once we have
That the imminent collapse of the tobacco industry will rip through
the economy is an understatement of significant proportions especially for a
country that lost crucial balance-of-payments support when the International
Monetary Fund slammed the door on it over policy differences.
In fact, plummeting tobacco export earnings have set the stage for an
even weaker-than-expected showing from the rest of the economy. Already as a
nation, Zimbabwe is going through a severe crisis of confidence and allowing
sectors such as the tobacco industry to collapse will only help make the
situation worse by accelerating the economic meltdown.
Hypocrisy and confusion rule the roost in Africa
10/30/2003 9:23:12 AM (GMT +2)
HAVING in previous contributions discussed the various perspectives as
to Africa’s political and economic future, it is critical now to see how
these perspectives come to bear on the Zimbabwean question, culminating in
the supposed support the Zimbabwean government has been getting from other
African countries and President Mbeki’s quiet diplomacy.
Apart from the other schools of thought already discussed, NEPAD
itself, which is the continent’s "official" development strategy, does not
seem to enjoy the legitimacy and loyalty of a significant number of African
countries. This would mean by implication that these countries are therefore
free to experiment with their own social theories and strategies, and
unfortunately, our leaders seem inclined to listen to any among themselves
who comes up with what appears to be a solution.
The Zimbabwean government has not come out clear with its position in
regard to NEPAD but what is discernible is that they despise the project but
only pretend to support it because they know that President Mbeki’s support
is crucial for their own survival.
Asked sometime last year if Zimbabwe would participate in NEPAD
against a background that the political situation in the country has become
a threat to the very essence of the project, Professor Jonathan Moyo was
evasive and said: "The question of whether or not Zimbabwe will participate
does not arise because NEPAD itself is still an idea."
On several occasions, Moyo has made statements contemptuous of the
NEPAD initiative and President Mbeki’s conception of the African
Renaissance, which he has, however, subsequently denied as having been
quoted out of context. But for a careful listener, the patterns of implicit
meaning that emerge are so evident.
Presently, the Zimbabwe government is capitalising over the confusion
and hypocrisy that reigns in Africa on what should be the way forward to
address the problems of poverty and under-development. Out of political
expediency they have evolved their own voodoo socio-political theory, which
is neither coherent nor systematic, but which is supported heavily
ideologically by the President and the Minister of Information and
Publicity. Regrettably, these experiments with socio-political theories are
being done at the expense of the masses of our people.
Since the time of the liberation struggle, ZANU PF has been perceived
as a great liberating force in Africa, having accomplished heroic exploits
against colonial subjugation. After independence, the ZANU PF government
proclaimed the historic policy of reconciliation and reconstruction,
professed to follow the socialist road of development and marketed itself as
the champion of the dispossessed workers and peasants — a people’s party so
In its foreign policy, President Mugabe’s government demonstrated a
strong Pan-African tradition. You may recall Zimbabwe’s role in the
restoration of peace and stability in Mozambique, Angola, Somalia, the DRC
and even South Africa, to mention just but a few.
In recent years, despite its increasingly oppressive, repressive and
suppressive domestic policy, the Zimbabwean government is masquerading as
the champion o the rights of Third World countries where President Mugabe’s
anti-globalisation and anti-imperialist messages find greater resonance.
It is part of President Mugabe’s successful response to the crisis
that he confronted, as President of the country and a first secretary of the
ruling party, to be able to politicise poverty and persuade a large section
of the world that the crisis in Zimbabwe is a land crisis and that,
therefore, it is a bilateral dispute between Zimbabwe and its former
colonial master, Britain. An international dimension was added by arguing
that this problem is not only unique to Zimbabwe but is a common phenomenon
across all former British colonies, which is, of course, true. This is why
the Commonwealth has had difficulties in dealing with the Zimbabwe question.
Mugabe has also been exceptionally tactical in exploiting the race
card. However, it must be noted that the fundamental dichotomy in today’s
world is no longer between black and white but between the propertied and
dispossessed classes. As a matter of fact, as is evident from the dynamics
at play in the Zimbabwean question, the black-white dichotomy may be used to
obscure the more fundamental class conflict.
However, Zimbabweans know better that the crisis in Zimbabwe is not a
land crisis and that is why they fail to understand why the hypocritical and
treacherous scheme of quiet diplomacy should be employed towards Zimbabwe.
It is really puzzling to many Zimbabweans that in spite of their grounded
realities, there could be other people of relatively high regard like
President Mbeki and others who still hero-worship the regime here.
Zimbabweans know that the crisis in this country is a crisis of
governance. When students and workers rose in 1997-1998, it was not about
land; when the war veterans rebelled against the government in 1997
resulting in the President awarding them unbudgeted for gratuities which in
turn affected the economy, it was not about land; when in 1997 the
President, without parliamentary approval, decided to deploy our troops in a
hugely expensive war in the DRC which resulted in further collapse of the
economy, it was not about land; when civil society organised itself to lobby
for constitutional reform from 1997, it was not primarily to legalise land
acquisition, but to carry out an audit of the government’s democracy and
human rights record; when the government’s draft constitution was rejected,
it was not because of the land provisions therein, neither was it because
white commercial farmers and Britain urged people to vote "no".
These are issues of governance that are at the core of the crisis in
President Mugabe’s ability to reduce the governance crisis in this
country to a land crisis demonstrates the capacity of an authoritarian
regime in a crisis to repackage itself as champion of Third-World rights in
a global situation. Regrettably, this is just an attempt by him and his
likes to champion an agenda long after they have exhausted their capacity to
With his eloquence and unprecedented courage, President Mugabe has
managed to re-direct global political discourse to focus on the economic
relationship of Third World countries and the developed world. He has
menacingly challenged the supremacy of the North and the weakness of the
South. Having realised that his perfomance is better internationally than
nationally, Mugabe now directs most of his energy to global politics and has
been able to raise critical issues which earned him considerable global
His perfomance at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in South
Africa last year, the support of the African Caribbean-Pacific (ACP)
countries at the EU-ACP Summit in Brussels,the selective support of the
African American Diaspora, the support of the Commonwealth Troika on
Zimbabwe, SADC and the African Union; his election as deputy chairperson of
the AU and his recent performance at the 58th session of the United Nations
General Assembly has had enormous symbolic significance for the regime. It
has made it difficult to isolate ZANU PF internationally and allowed the
party to subordinate issues of governance democracy and human rights in
Zimbabwe to its global and continental agenda.
To put President Mbeki’s quiet diplomacy in perspective, it would
appear that while Zimbabweans are primarily concerned about the
democratisation of their political system, Mbeki and other African leaders
are pursuing a "grandeur agenda" which seeks to challenge the unjust
international economic system and to (re)position Africa on the global
political scene, and paradoxically, Robert Mugabe, with his courage and
eloquence, has to them become almost indispensable in the pursuit of this
grandeur agenda and that explains his unanimous election as deputy
chairperson of the African Union. Like the old prophets, he is honoured
elsewhere but not in his home country.
What this means is that it is less likely that South Africa, SADC and
the African Union can ever abandon President Mugabe, at least not in the
near future. If the United Nations tries to by-pass SADC and the AU and
intervene directly in Zimbabwe, this will cause serious problems. So when it
comes to democratic struggles in this country, Zimbabweans, we are on our
The sooner we realise this the better, because we will not spend our
energies on futilities, but rather, on consolidating our structures,
broadening our national base of operation and gearing up for our struggle in
a determinedly clear manner, always keeping in mind our fundamental
We must always remember that in President Mugabe we are dealing with a
wily and crafty character with considerable intellectual depth. The man is
more cunning than any of the Third-World dictators known to this world. His
regime stays in power not through the more open acts of violence and
repression, but by the symbolic power it has constructed as the bearer of
the liberation legacy and as the sole heir and broader champion of the
Pan-Africanist and Third World cause.
Take, for instance, the President’s speech at the 58th session of the
UN General Assembly. Who would doubt that the democratisation of the UN
structures is long overdue. Nor can anybody disagree that the IMF and World
Bank have become subject to the whims of the major powers and that their
economic prescriptions and conditionalities have invariably proved to be a
disaster in practice. It is also true that the UN Security Council does not
have, under the current structures, the capacity to deal with any of its
members who has become a threat to world peace and security, like what seems
to be the case with the US and their British counterparts.
The man was just hitting the nail on the head and the viciousness with
which he attacks the neo-colonial order is unsurpassed, and he has become a
hero to many African leaders, in spite of all that is going on in this
It is as if President Mbeki’s tactical and strategic approach to the
West, which is at the core of quite diplomacy, is that, "you must hear
Mugabe first before you can listen to me". If the "grandeur agenda"
hypothesis is convincing, it would appear that the idea behind it is that if
the West is going to commit itself to such diplomatic initiatives as NEPAD
and become less stingy and thus pledge realistic amounts to the project,
they should first hear the radicals and extremists of Africa.
They should first hear the socialists who advocate for a world wide
revolution against European and American capitalism/imperialism. They should
first hear the reparations activists who threaten to unleash a series of Law
suits against colonial governments, companies and banks (some of these suits
are already before the courts). They should first hear and see Robert Mugabe
’s violent style of addressing colonial imbalances. Indeed they should first
hear these radical perspectives because what they represent are options
which Africa may consider if diplomatic initiatives fail to make headway.
However, the Zimbabwean government must realise that the supposed
support they are getting from African leaders will only help to postpone the
inevitable. While the President might have won to his side one or two people
because of his ant-globalisation and anti-imperialist rhetoric, this is only
temporary because if this rhetoric is not transformed into practical
policies on the ground, it will only earn him the resentment of the masses.
He may attend the CHOGM in Abuja in December and indeed many other
international meetings and shout, "another diplomatic victory, and yet
another diplomatic victory; and yet another . . ." but if these "diplomatic
victories" do not become concrete, they will soon be hollow and the chickens
will come home to roost. Already it is clear that the government does not
have a clear, sustainable national development strategy to take us out of
the current political and economic crisis.
For African leaders to side with the regime here in the name of
Pan-African solidarity called quiet diplomacy is simply African oppression
dressed in Pan-Africanist robes, and this sort of oppression is no better
than imperial and neo-colonial oppression.
It is ironic that African leaders, most of whom have no clear record
of democracy and good governance, should be at the forefront of calling for
the democratisation of the major world bodies. It is equally ironic for the
United States and Britain to condemn African leaders for lack of democracy
while on their part, they resist firmly the democratisation of global
institutions which they dominate.
The point can never be over-emphasised that the fundamental
restructuring taking place in Africa stands little chance of success without
democratic governance. The flaws and erroneous assumptions so evident in the
NEPAD project could have been minimised had African leaders opened up
democratic space in their undividual countries and allowed the masses to
debate it and make their input. We need the input of the masses because they
are the ones who will make things happen at the end of the day.
African countries must democratise and empower civil society by
putting in place democratic constitutions and legislation that facilitates
rather than obstruct or hamper the activities of civic organisations. We
must create "an ideological free market of ideas" where our people from all
walks of life engage in critical debate about our problems and the
possibilities that we may pursue in search of solutions, otherwise Africa
will remain a "dark continent".
Political meddling in power pricing under fire
10/30/2003 10:20:32 AM (GMT +2)
SUSPENDED Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) chief executive
officer, Simba Mangwengwende, says political interference in the pricing of
power will scuttle the critical expansion of the industry before the expiry
of existing arrangements in 2007.
Mangwengwende, who has been on forced leave for the past five years
but still claims to be the ZESA boss, poured his heart out on the power
supply situation in the latest issue of The Zimbabwe Engineer.
Over the years, the power supply situation has
worsened because of the
shortage of foreign currency needed to augment local supplies.
Investors courted into the industry have also remained seated on the
fence, citing the deteriorating political environment and lethargy in the
privatisation of ZESA.
The disgruntled ZESA boss, who has worked in the power industry since
1981, said the industry should charge competitive prices to attract
investors and improve the viability of the parastatal. Poor tariffs have
been the major reason for ZESA’s failure to develop new power stations.
He said there has been political resistance to increasing tariffs to
reflect long run marginal costs that have hamstrung the privatisation
process and the extension of existing power stations or development of new
"In an attempt to break this cycle, ZESA introduced an automatic
tariff adjustment formula in August 1999 following extensive consultations
and agreement with customer representatives.
"This restored the profitability of ZESA to such an extent that in
less than 16 months, the organisation recovered from a record deficit of
over $6.5 billion to a record profit of over $700 million for the year 2000.
"The highest price of electricity of 3.85 United States cents per
kilowatt since 1990 was also achieved in 2000. Unfortunately, this level of
profitability triggered fresh political interference," he said.
Mangwengwende said contrary to popular perception, Zimbabwe has
actually saved foreign currency because of its heavy dependence on imports,
adding that the country should continue to make use of surplus power from
the Southern Africa Power Pool (SAPP) for as long as it is available at a
cost below that of developing new power stations.
"At present, indications are that such surplus capacity is available
for another four years to the end of 2007. By then, the existing surplus
capacity in the SAPP will not only be exhausted, but the country will also
have sufficient time to develop new generation capacity assuming
macro-economic stability is achieved soon," he said.
"Practically, the long run marginal cost is the price at which
electricity must be sold in order to make the expansion projects viable.
This is a fundamental issue that is dependent on the ownership structure of
"Whether the government or private sector own and develop the existing
and new power stations, the country cannot escape from the need for tariffs
to be increased significantly to reflect the long run marginal costs," he
On the Electricity Regulatory Commission that is provided for in the
new Electricity Act of 2002, he said it should demonstrate a record of
accomplishment, professionalism and independence for investors to underwrite
the investments required to avoid any future power shortages.
ZESA operates five power stations namely Kariba, Hwange, Harare,
Bulawayo and Munyati, which can only send out 1 620 megawatts against annual
energy demand which has been hovering at around 10 000GWh by the beginning
of the nineties.
Mangwengwende said only a restoration of macro-economic stability and
the establishment of a regulatory framework that makes it possible to
achieve and sustain profitability in the electricity supply industry will
provide a permanent solution to the power supply situation.
"Until then, the country needs to implement several load management
options as a matter of national urgency," he said.
The foreign exchange crisis has affected Zimbabwe’s ability to meet
its electricity import requirements while efforts to attract private
investors into electricity generation have also failed.
Over the past 20 years, Mangwengwende said, several options have been
discussed to expand power generation.
One of the options involves the installation of two 150MW units at
Kariba South costing an estimated US$200 million and two 300MW units at
Hwange costing an estimated US$550 million.
The options which have been studied extensively include the 1600MW
hydroelectric scheme at Batoka South on the Zambezi between Victoria Falls
and the upper reaches of Lake Kariba estimated to cost US$1 100 million for
the first 800MW stage.
The other option is the 1400MW coal-fired plant at Gokwe North
estimated to cost US$1 200 million.
"Existing surplus power from the Southern African Power Pool, expected
to last up to 2007, is estimated at 1 100MW, with 600MW being from South
Africa, 300MW from the DRC and 200MW from Zambia.
"After 2007, the amount available for import would depend on new power
station developments in these and other neighbouring countries.
"It should be noted that the full output of Cabora Bassa is contracted
to ESKOM and EDM, the national electricity utility of Mozambique. Our
present contract is a concession from ESKOM due to expire on 31 December
"As we would require another concession from ESKOM to go beyond this
date the additional imports are therefore deemed to be from South Africa,"
National cattle herd further depleted
10/30/2003 9:07:00 AM (GMT +2)
THE Cattle Producers’ Association (CPA) says several hundreds of
cattle valued at an estimated $675 million died last week due to the rains
and shortage of pasture, a development that has led to a further decline in
the national cattle herd.
An official from CPA told The Financial Gazette that reports received
from throughout the country indicated that up to 900 cattle died last week.
"Cattle have been dying especially in the Lowveld due to the shortage
of grazing pasture and last week we had several death reports because of
changes in the weather pattern".
"Cattle cannot cope with sudden changes from severe heat to a cold
environment," the official said.
The national herd is said to have dwindled from 5.1 million in 1998 to
250 000 this year due to drought, foot-and-mouth disease, shortages of stock
feeds and destocking by most farmers due to the land reform programme.
The official said most farmers could not afford to buy stockfeeds,
which were pegged at about $750 000 per tonne and cost up to $2 million to
Sources in the industry also said several hundreds of dairy cattle
have died in the Beatrice area because the new farmers lack expertise
Zimbabwe, once a key exporter of beef to the lucrative European Union
and regional countries, has since stopped because of the depleted national
herd and the prevalence of foot-and-mouth disease.
The CPA, however, did not say how much land it lost to the settlers
who moved in at the height of the chaotic land reforms.
The CPA official said the country was still exporting limited beef to
the Democratic Republic of Congo but could not give exact figures.
Allow free marketing: farmers
10/30/2003 9:09:37 AM (GMT +2)
THE government should allow free marketing on agricultural commodities
as an incentive for farmers to farm in the 2003/04 agricultural season,
farmers’ representative groups warned this week.
The government controls the sale of wheat and grain through the Grain
Marketing Board under Statutory Instrument 387 of 2001.
Commercial Farmers Union president Douglas Taylor-Freeme told The
Financial Gazette that the government should immediately introduce
incentives that will boost the agricultural sector, which is on the verge of
"My organisation believes that free marketing of agricultural produce
is the biggest incentive for farmers to produce.
"We experienced a boom in the production of wheat and yellow maize in
the 1990s when the products were decontrolled."
The call comes at time when the country is expected to produce only 44
percent of national maize requirement this year due to the biting shortages
of inputs. Taylor-Freeme said member of his association were reluctant to
farm this year due to uncertainties of the land reform exercise.
Indigenous Commercial Farmers Union president Davidson Mugabe agreed
decontrolling agricultural produce would increase the number of players in
Market liquidity to continue setting interest rates
10/30/2003 9:14:35 AM (GMT +2)
AS the date for the presentation of the 2004 National Budget on
November 20 2003 draws nearer, most investment effort has virtually stopped
as people want to know the government’s policy direction so as to be able to
make informed investment decisions.
Equity investors, for example, are keen on knowing the future
direction of interest rates, as it is key in determining their investment
strategies. If the monetary authorities manage to put in place a mechanism
that will make market rates move towards policy rates of around 57 percent
(yield on the 91-day Treasury Bills), then we know that equities would have
been given a boost.
However, if the authorities continue with their fight to control
interest rates by rejecting higher bids by banks, then it means policy rates
will just become symbolic as money rates will continue to be determined by
This mechanism is basically the authorities’ ability to deal with the
market shortage that currently stands at around Z$84 billion. If the
authorities do not do anything on the market liquidity shortage, then market
rates will continue to firm. But if they take measures to clear it, then
rates will fall significantly. This week, I take a look at these money
market developments and see if some interest rate direction can be
On the money market, although there was some activity on the Treasury
Bill (TB) primary market recently when the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
managed to sell some TBs to the market, the general outlook is that the
market wants higher rates on those TBs. As a result, the Reserve Bank has
been rejecting most of the bids by banks at its traditional weekly TB
tenders and other ad hoc ones. Although the yield at the last successful
tender came out at 56.47 percent, the rate is not consistent with market
expectations, which are based on inflation developments. On the other hand,
these rates are in line with what the RBZ has been showing since May 2003 as
the 91-day TB yield has been hovering between 55 and 57 percent.
The perception of the monetary authorities now seem pretty certain —
they do not want interest rates to rise. The reasons are clear — to support
the productive and export sectors of the economy and keep Government debt
low through low interest payments.
Although the Government’s view on interest rates is clear as noted
above, what is happening on the ground is different from the policy
intentions. In a bid to buttress the low interest rate policy by keeping
policy rates low, the Reserve Bank has been rejecting higher bids by banks.
This fight for the control of interest rate direction between the
monetary authorities and banks has seen a significant reduction in TB
holdings by the banks. This progressive thinning of TB holdings by banks has
seen them being unable to access cheaper funds at the Central Bank through
the overnight window. If a bank has the security of TBs, it can borrow from
RBZ at 70 percent, that is, five percentage points above the repo rate of 65
percent. If it does not have security, it can borrow at 75 percent, that is,
10 percentage points above the repo rate.
Now the trick lies in the unsecured borrowing. The RBZ is not offering
the unsecured window meaning that it is not performing the
lender-of-last-resort function. As a result, given that banks do not have
enough TBs to pledge as security when they go to borrow from the RBZ for
overnight accommodation as they have been unable to access them due to the
myriads of unsuccessful tenders, they have no option but to go to other
banks for accommodation.
Given that the market is very short due to lack of TB maturities
which, in turn, is a result of lack of successful TB tenders as the RBZ
rejects higher bids by banks to press for low interest rates, market rates
have risen significantly. This means that any bank that has no security of
TBs and by implication fails to access money from the RBZ at 70 percent will
have no option but to get it from the market at rates as high as 130
This increase in the cost of funding for the banks has seen them
revising upwards their minimum lending rates to more than 120 from 90
percent in August.
We do not expect the current situation on the money market to change
in the near future unless the RBZ decides to offer unsecured accommodation.
This, however, is unlikely as it means an injection of money into the
economy that is not backed by an underlying asset, which implies an increase
in inflation. An increase in money supply that is not inflationary should
only be allowed if it is backed by an increase in GDP.
However, if the RBZ does the unthinkable of injecting liquidity into
the money market, then market rates will fall and gravitate towards policy
rate levels of 70 percent for accommodation rates and 57 percent for
This means a weakening of monetary policy, which implies an
uncontrolled increase in inflation. This will be good news for the equity
market and other inflation-hedged investments like property and foreign
currency markets including parallel markets.
If we assume that the RBZ will not offer unsecured overnight
accommodation, then interest rates will continue to be determined by
It is against this background that Treasury managers need to watch
closely their maturity profiles and be able to forecast future liquidity
developments to help them in asset pricing. In the meantime, it is safe to
play at the short end of the market so as to be able to quickly turn the
portfolio in case there is a sudden policy change that may see interest
rates moving in either direction.
Mazoe threatened with loss of land
10/30/2003 10:26:32 AM (GMT +2)
Mazoe Citrus Estates, currently experiencing acute water shortages, is
further threatened with continued loss of land and irrigation equipment to
The nation’s sole citrus producer has said it has since lost
significant hectarage traditionally planted under maize, soya and wheat.
The loss of land affected produce in the last season for the estate,
which remains listed for acquisition under the land reform programme.
The situation was further complicated by the fact that irrigation
equipment lost to settlers within the occupied areas was not recovered.
The resultant loss of production volumes may have a marked effect on
future earnings for the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed Interfresh, which
owns the group.
A shortage of water has further crippled the future production volumes
for Mazoe Citrus Estates, with demand by resettled farmers downstream along
the Mazoe river, taking its toll on overall water supply.
"The situation on the ground has now been exacerbated by the acute
water shortage in the dam, currently sitting at only 21 percent," Interfresh
said last week.
The company did not, however, say how much land it had lost to the
settlers who moved in at the height of the fast-track land reform programme.
The chief executive officer of Interfresh, Evan Christophides,said "I
cannot comment on the issue" when asked to indicated the amount of land the
company had lost to settlers.
"We continue to pursue positive dialogue with government at all
levels, in an attempt to map a mutually beneficial way forward for all
stakeholders on the estates," he said.
Parks Authority in huge anti-poaching campaign
10/30/2003 10:27:10 AM (GMT +2)
THE Parks and Wildlife Management Authority (PWMA) has embarked on an
anti-poaching campaign which saw the arrest of more than 100 poachers in the
month of September alone.
The authority has since acquired 21 Land Rover vehicles at a cost of
over $8 billion. Nine of these vehicles are already in use with the rest
expected in the country before the end of the year.
"We are aiming at purchasing about 120 Land Rovers and we hope to make
the purchase in the coming months. Land Rovers are ideal for maintaining the
much-needed security within the parks," said Morris Mtsambiwa, the managing
director of PWMA.
Zimbabwe is experiencing a resurgence in poaching and an estimated 2
355 people are needed to ensure security within the parks. The authority
has, however, so far recruited 1 615 of which 600 are rangers.
The authority, which owns 59 of the national parks and fishing
resorts, is planning to renovate infrastructure in a bid to ensure a viable
transport network to its locations around the country.
Cyclone Eline and Cyclone Japhet destroyed roads and bridges beyond
repair, mostly in the Eastern Highlands.
Africa should solve Zimbabwe problem: Fischer
October 30, 2003, 07:17 PM
Africa should solve the Zimbabwean problem in the interests of that
country's people and the continent as a whole, Joschka Fischer, the German
Vice-Chancellor, said today. "What we try to do is to encourage all our
friends in Africa to solve this problem, this crisis, based on common values
and in the interests of the Zimbabwean people," he told reporters in
Pretoria. "We will continue with these discussions because we believe that
with Zimbabwe on a democratic track, on a track of development, the positive
influence (for) this region but also for the whole continent will be very
Fischer was speaking after co-chairing the fourth session of the South
Africa-German bi-national commission with Jacob Zuma, the Deputy President.
He said Germany believed that South Africa and the southern African region
should be the cornerstone for peace, stability and development in Africa.
South Africa was one of the most important, possibly even the most
important, voice in Africa and the world, Fischer said. "Zimbabwe could be
in a similar situation. Its potential is great and it is a pity, a real
drama, the situation in which the country is."
He declined to go into the details of discussions held on the issue. Also on
the agenda was the role of German pharmaceutical companies in ensuring
easier access for people in developing countries to HIV/Aids drugs. "We have
the political but also the moral responsibility to do the utmost and to
bring all the pharmaceutical possibilities to the developing countries,"
Fischer said. Other issues discussed included the need for effective
multi-lateralism and United Nations reform, the New Partnership for Africa's
Development, regional and international conflicts, and co-operation between
European Union and African Union. Both men described the talks as positive
and fruitful and not mere lip-service. - Sapa
Don't Panic, Investors On Zimbabwe Stock Exchange Advised
October 30, 2003
Posted to the web October 30, 2003
STOCKBROKERS have advised the investing public not to panic because of the
volatile trends on the market that have largely witnessed bearish trading.
They maintained that the trends were merely a passing phase because of the
large number of speculators who have invaded the market.
Most investors, who have realised significant profits during the bull run,
have offloaded their stocks and shifted the funds to the more secure money
market in order to preserve the value of their investments.
This is also characteristic of the last quarter of the year when the
national budget is presented and investors generally park their money in the
money market and go on holiday awaiting any policy changes.
"The weakening in the equities market is due to the selling pressure as
investors reap on earlier gains while others remain on the sidelines
pondering their next move as we approach the announcement of the 2004
"Most of the investors remain in the safety of the money market where they
feel they can preserve the value of their money in the next six weeks before
they can start coming back to the stock market" said a weekly report from a
stockbroking firm in Harare.
With no clear indication as to the direction interest rates will take, the
market is hoping that the budget will give some guidelines on money market
In the meantime, the market rates will continue firm on the back of tight
The equity market is expected to continue fluctuating as investors take
profits in counters that would have risen significantly and re-invest in
other counters or shift to other investment vehicles.
There is still great upside shift in the equities market, though.
"If there is to be a comparison between the rate at which the inflation rate
is going up with the performance of the local bourse, the only major worry
at the moment is the 2004 national budget.
"Investors are anxious to know what the new monetary policy will be and its
effect to the investing public. We, however, feel that there will be no
material effects as the major factors that drove the equities will still do
so going forward" the report added.
Other stockbrokers have urged the investors to take positions in those firms
that have good looking future prospects such as those that are going through
some restructuring in order to maintain value and unlock shareholder value.
Examples of such firms include Mashonaland Holdings, Clan Holdings, British
America Tobacco, Tedco Holdings and Radar, among others.
The Mashonaland directors are proposing to recapitalise the company by way
of a rights offer to raise approximately $26 billion which will be utilised
to acquire properties. The initiative will transform Mashonaland Holdings
into a property investment and development company.
Stock market analysts have recommended that shareholders vote in favour of
the proposal and follow their rights at an extraordinary general meeting to
be held today.
National Economic Consultative Forum (NCEF) Convenes Crucial Meeting
The Herald (Harare)
October 30, 2003
Posted to the web October 30, 2003
Leonard Makombe And Brian Benza
SPIRALLING price increases of commodities have forced Government, labour and
the business community to convene a crucial meeting.
The meeting aims to find ways of alleviating the suffering of ordinary
people whose disposable income cannot match the ever increasing prices.
The meeting, to be held next week under the auspices of the National
Economic Consultative Forum (NECF), will consider several issues, among them
the macro-economic situation prevailing in the country.
It comes at a time when Government, labour and the business community are
disagreeing on the best way forward in stabilising prices.
Government is anxious to ensure that prices of basic commodities are
stabilised while labour is pushing for higher disposable incomes to increase
the purchasing power of ordinary workers.
However, the business community has continued to ignore calls by Government
to keep prices at affordable levels citing increases in operational costs.
Consumers got a reprieve at the beginning of the year when Government,
labour and business, under the banner of the Tripartite Negotiating Forum
(TNF), signed the Prices and Incomes Stabilisation Protocol.
It was spelt out in the protocol that prices would only be increased after
negotiations by the three partners.
However, the TNF was immobilised after labour, withdrew accusing Government
of making unilateral decisions.
Labour's bone of contention was that the 200 percent increments in April
were made without the matter being discussed by the three partners.
The vice chairman of the National Economic Consultative Forum, Mr Nhlanhla
Masuku, confirmed that a meeting of major players would be held next week to
discuss the issue of prices.
Mr Masuku said they were frantically trying to get labour back to the
He expressed optimism that trade union leaders would not miss the
opportunity of finding ways of alleviating the suffering caused on their
"We are very concerned about the increases in prices of almost all products.
It is in this vein that a meeting has been called to discuss strategies that
may lead to the stabilisation of prices of basic commodities.
"The meeting will be attended by a variety of players," said Mr Masuku.
Mere anarchy has been unleashed on the market by unscrupulous businesspeople
with some prices now doubling or even trebling every week or fortnightly.
The unprecedented price increases come at a time when most of the workers
last had a salary increase in July after the collective bargaining exercise.
A labour expert, Mr James Mugwere, said some companies were, however, trying
their best to alleviate the suffering of their workers by regularly
reviewing their salaries.
"Quite a few companies are adjusting the salaries of their workers on a
monthly or quarterly basis.
"The review is quite necessary, as it will cushion the workers against the
ever-increasing prices," he said.
An investigation by The Herald Business indicated that supermarket workers
were now assigned to change prices almost on a daily basis.
"We are just asked to change the prices and in most cases there is no
"Actually, managers decide as and when to change the prices and most of us
do not understand the actual reasons behind the increases," said one worker
at a city-based supermarket.
A kilogramme of meat now costs an average $15 000 up from around $5 000 in
June this year. Increases of similar margins have been witnessed on other
Dairy products, especially milk, have also increased from $1 200 for 500
millilitres of fresh milk at the beginning of the month to $1 800.
The price of a loaf of bread increased last week from $1 200 to $2 000.
Other bakery products have followed suit.
Retailers say the price increase is a chain reaction to increases which
would have been effected at the production level.
Consumers have different views.
"The major bone of contention are unscrupulous businessmen who increase
prices willy-nilly, including on old stock.
"There should be a system in place for monitoring the prices," said Mr
Patrick Nhari, a consumer.
He blasted the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe for its indifference at a time
when consumers badly needed the organisation.
Some analysts said it made sense to increase the prices but it was
irrational to increase them by large margins.
Price increases are not only restricted to foodstuffs as other goods such as
kitchenware, clothes, footwear, electrical appliances, furniture and motor
parts have also shot up in recent weeks.
There were others who said if prices continue to increase at the prevailing
rate, then it would not be long before they reached a point of saturation.
A point of saturation is when consumers cannot afford to buy some of the
commodities and would opt to use alternatives.
This would see the prices either stabilising or drop.
Officials from the Ministry of Industry and International Trade could not be
reached for comment at the time of going to press yesterday.
Nurses call off strike
31 October 2003
Nurses who had been on strike in Harare and Bulawayo are back at work,
ending three days of industrial action.
Vice president of the Zimbabwe Nurses Association, Mrs Oslinah Tagutanazvo,
said nurses had resolved to call off the strike after a meeting with the
Minister of Health and Child Welfare, Dr David Parirenyatwa.
She said Minister Parirenyatwa promised to look into their grievances, thus
the calling off of the strike.
The strike affected operations at most referral centres such as Parirenyatwa
and Harare hospitals in Harare and Mpilo and United Bulawayo hospitals in
Dr Parirenyatwa commended the decision taken by the nurses saying his
ministry will look into their grievances as a matter of urgency.
Meanwhile, striking junior, middle and casualty doctors who were supposed to
meet at Parirenyatwa hospital have postponed the meeting.
Hospital Doctors Association president, Mr Phibion Manyanga, confirmed that
the meeting had been postponed.
The government has however urged the striking doctors to return to work
while they look into their grievances
Propaganda Blitz Futile
October 30, 2003
Posted to the web October 30, 2003
Before being booted out of power in multi-party elections in 1994, Malawian
dictator, Hastings Kamuzu Banda, attended a summit of the Non-Aligned
Movement in an Asian country.
Banda, who was in his 90s, had been ailing for sometime and because Malawi
was a closed society at that time, no official information had been released
to the press pertaining to the state of his health.
As a result, there were all
sorts of rumours, including that the autocrat
Consequently, when he showed up at the NAM summit, his mere presence was a
big news story in its own right.
I remember watching a news clip on television in which a reporter commented
rather uncharitably that while the rest of the delegates were grappling with
important issues, the Malawian nonagenarian's main objectives was to prove
that he was still alive!
The report was accompanied by film footage showing the tiny, stooped figure
of Banda leaning heavily on a can, seeming unsure where he was and why he
What a shame, I thought at the time, that by clinging to power into his
dotage, the only impact Banda could make on the international stage was
merely to be present at the venue of a conference.
Sad to say, six years after the Malawian strongman's death, the absurd and
aimless quality of his irrelevance to international discourse now applies to
my own country.
Apart from the serious issues that have earned Zimbabwe the embarrassing
distinction of being a Pariah state, the country is also now best know for
its belligerent, unremitting propaganda which is characterised by torrents
of denunciations, threats and declarations of invincibility.
These usually reach a crescendo in the build-up to important intentional
gatherings such as the Commenwealth Heads of Government Meeting in Abuja in
December, from which Zimbabwe has been barred.
Don't get me wrong. The point I am trying to make is not that Zimbabwe has
no right to present its case and be judged accordingly.
I am merely arguing that the thrust of its propaganda campaign should
involve the communication of facts and opinions that are credible and
realistic enough to enable, as John Milton once said, "the truth to emerge
in the market place of ideas."
Novelist and essayist, Aldous Huxley in Propaganda in a Democratic Society
highlighted the power in all human beings to respond to reason and truth,
not subterfuge and contrivance.
The problem I have with the propaganda offensive mounted on behalf of this
country by Jonathan Moyo is that it is limited to harping on entirely
irrelevant themes, such as the machinations of the West and Zimbabwe's
sovereignty. If past experience is anything to go by, we should get ready to
cringe in embarrassment in the coming weeks as we are bombarded with boasts
on what countries support Zimbabwe, which racists are plotting against it
and why inspite of what everybody else says, the government of Zimbabwe is
right to adopt its stubborn stance.
That most self-evident fact, this country's sovereignty, will be advertised
ad nauseum as though it were something unique.
The Vatican, with a total area of 108.7 acres and the principality of
Monaco, which measures 0.75 square miles, are two of the smallest states in
Yet both are confident enough of their moral standing in the world to submit
to international scrutiny (even the Pope is criticised) without ducking
behind the smokescreen of sovereignty.
Zimbabwe is not in trouble because anyone is questioning its sovereignty but
because of serious issues for which its own citizens and the international
community demand answers.
These include human rights abuses, lawlessness, lack of democracy, muzzling
of the press and suppression of dissent.
The country's propaganda machinery should throw some light on what
improvements have been made in these critical areas instead of bombarding us
with inane slogans like "Howard the Coward" or any of the tired anti-Tony
Former United States Senator William Fulbright has been quoted as saying,
"There is something basically unwise and undemocratic about a system which
taxes the public to finance a propaganda campaign aimed at persuading the
same tax payers