failing and dangers lurk By MacDonald Dzirutwe
(Reuters) - Five-year-old Zimbabwean Felicita Munyoro fiddles with a soda
can as she plays with friends, then bends to fill it with the murky contents
of a burst sewage pipe flowing past her house, oblivious to the foul smell
and the health dangers that lurk.
Across town in the capital
Harare's leafy suburb of Borrowdale, Takunda Hove has woken up early for the
sixth day in a row, in order to drive early to work and use the shower
facilities because the water tap at home has run dry.
children here and I worry every day about the possibility of a disease
outbreak in the neighbourhood. I don't know if these problems will ever be
sorted out," says the 37-year-old father of three.
Hove plans to
drill a borehole on his property, a luxury that the majority of
poverty-stricken urban dwellers, like Felicita's parents, cannot afford.
Frequent water cuts force them to trudge to neighbouring areas in search of
a piped supply, while others resort to hazardous wells and
In Harare, authorities recently announced 18-hour
daily water cuts in most residential suburbs, blaming the cuts on a decrepit
main water pump station servicing the city.
The water shortage
is the latest scourge to hit Harare, once one of Africa's cleanest urban
centres and dubbed 'the Sunshine City', but which like the majority of
Zimbabwe's towns has seen a degeneration of basic services as an economic
Urban councils, largely
run by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), say falling
revenues and interference from President Robert Mugabe's government have
left them ill-equipped to cope with growing populations.
in then colonial Rhodesia to cater for a smaller population, Zimbabwe's
urban infrastructure is creaking under the weight of hundreds of thousands
of people who have flocked from the rural areas in search of jobs.
Road potholes lie unrepaired for years while burst water and sewer pipes are
common in most residential areas.
Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube, the MDC
mayor of Zimbabwe's second city of Bulawayo and chair of all urban councils,
says a government freeze on rates payments has crippled city
Figures show that Bulawayo needs more than 360 billion
Zimbabwe dollars (38 million pounds) for its 2004 budget, but will only be
able to raise half the amount because of the rate freeze.
"Since the freeze on rates we are suffering, we live from hand to mouth. We
are now allocating the few resources on priorities so that services do not
totally collapse," Ndabeni-Ncube told Reuters.
"We are aware of the
health threats posed by water cuts and the garbage that is sometimes
collected only after a fortnight."
MDC councillors see the rates
freeze as a deliberate ploy by Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party to woo back
urban voters who blame the government for the country's economic problems
and have largely rallied behind the opposition at elections since
RATE HIKES NOT JUSTIFIED
The government argues
that rate hikes are no longer justified because the country's economy,
grappling with one of the highest unemployment rates in the world is
rebounding under a new monetary policy which has stabilised prices and the
But most residents still have to contend with
erratic water supplies as cash-strapped councils struggle to procure
imported treatment chemicals while burst sewer pipes and mounting rubbish
piles pose a serious health hazard.
"This is not the image of a
city we want in the 21st century," said Michael Davies, chairman of the
Combined Harare Residents Association.
"The threat of diseases like
cholera is real not only in Harare but in all cities. Provision of vital
services like water and rubbish collection are the bedrock of a
With over 70 percent unemployment, unregulated street
vending has mushroomed in most cities, often in areas without the necessary
sanitary facilities like garbage bins.
Last month the MDC
announced it was withdrawing all of its councillors from the capital's
municipality, saying the government had made it impossible to effectively
run the city.
But local government minister Ignatius Chombo blames
the rundown state of Zimbabwe's cities on incompetence by an opposition
party he says has failed to live up to the expectations of the
As the political tug-of-war rages on, Felicita Munyoro
dices with disease each time she ventures out to her filth-ridden
playground, while a leisurely bath at home remains a pipedream for suburban
escape for England as Zimbabwe boycott ruled out
investigation into racism in Zimbabwean cricket struggling to make progress,
Michael Vaughan and his squad are destined to go ahead with the
controversial tour, reports Simon Wilde
TALK of Fica,
the global players' union, calling a boycott of Zimbabwean cricket has been
dismissed as "very premature" by Tim May, the union's chief executive. His
statement probably removes the last obstacle to England's tour of Zimbabwe
going ahead next month. Fica, which has never discussed a
boycott, will hold an extraordinary general meeting once the outcome of the
International Cricket Council's (ICC) investigation into allegations of
racial discrimination in Zimbabwean cricket has made its recommendations.
But given the ICC inquiry's inability to cross-examine witnesses - it has
had to be satisfied with receiving written statements from them - the
chances of the Zimbabwe Cricket Union being condemned are
May played down the possibility that Fica might
take matters into its own hands, saying it placed its trust in the racism
investigation and the ICC to handle the issue properly.
"I have never heard any talk of a player boycott of Zimbabwe cricket, and I
think I might have done," he said. "It has never been discussed at Fica
level. A lot of things would have to happen before that was considered. The
panel in control of the investigation into racial discrimination needs to
provide a recommendation to the ICC before the executive board meeting in
Pakistan (on October 16-17). From a Fica perspective, we're an interested
party in that outcome, and if that outcome indicates racial discrimina-
tion, then Fica's position would be that we'd want the ICC to act
"We've been banging this drum continuously,
because the ICC has as one of its core values in its strategic plan that the
game must be free of discrimination, whether it be through religion, colour
of skin or whatever. We expect the ICC to uphold its
I have confidence that it will handle this case
"We have had several communications with the
Zimbabwe cricketers. We are aware of the players' side of the story and are
supporting the players. There's a high level of concern for the Zimbabwe
cricketers as fellow professionals."
May said he had not
given up hope of some of the white "rebels" returning to the team. "I don't
think it's remote that some play again. I have faith in processes, and
proper processes typically bring about proper outcomes."
Geoff Marsh, who has just returned to Australia after three years as
Zimbabwe coach, said: "The whole thing is very sad. I would like to see all
parties involved get all the players back playing again because at the
moment there's too many good cricketers not playing for the country. Since
the World Cup there's been many people, non-white and white, wanting to play
the game, and it would be sad were it to continue falling from the heights
it reached five years ago. It's sad that some of the England players are not
going. They've obviously got their reasons."
Vaughan's agent, Neil Fairbrother, said the England captain had never
doubted that he would lead the tour: "He sees it as his responsibility.
(Coach) Duncan Fletcher saw him as one of the players who needed rest, but
Michael's view has always been that he must lead the side. He could not hand
the job to somebody else. It's been said he accepted through gritted teeth,
but I don't think that was the case."
support the contention of David Morgan, the England and Wales Cricket Board
chairman, that it was always "understood" by the England management that
Vaughan must lead the tour.
Given that the England players
have agreed to stick together as a team on the issue, it must be considered
unlikely that - for all the inevitable soul-searching - any member of the
14-man squad will withdraw between now and their departure on November 15.
Darren Gough has said there remains much to talk about in the next few
weeks, but he conceded: "We have to send a team, so why pass the buck?"
Flower laments possible death of Zimbabwean
ON OCTOBER 16-17, the ICC executive
board, the international governing body's real power, will convene in
Pakistan and discuss the ongoing problem with Zimbabwean cricket. If, at
this meeting they decide that the Zimbabwe Cricket Union (ZCU) has actually
pursued a policy of active racism or systematic racism, as is claimed by the
15 rebel players led by former captain Heath Streak, then the ICC will have
little option but to strip the country of both one-day and Test match
status. This will, of course allow England to abandon their own tour their
next month. It would be a brave and bold decision by the Executive Board but
there is a growing groundswell of opinion that the pitiful performances of
some of the lesser nations are starting to adversely affect the image of the
game and Zimbabwe have been one of the most inept since the departure of the
The recent Champions Trophy highlighted the problem and the
current one-day triangular tournament in Pakistan involving Sri Lanka and
Zimbabwe has already proved a tournament between two countries with the
other providing nothing more than net practice.
"What is happening at
the moment is actually going to be the death of cricket in Zimbabwe," said
Grant Flower, one of the 15 rebels and brother of Andy who famously wore a
black armband during Zimbabwe's first world cup match last year to protest
against the "death of democracy in our country".
"The side are not good
enough as it is and a lot of hard work over many years is being wasted," he
continued. "If the ICC force the ZCU to act then something can be done but
if they decide that the racism has been personal and isolated to a few
instances, then Zimbabwean cricket will really struggle."
Not that it
will involve Flower himself.
"I don't think I'll play international
cricket again," he said. "I've already been told by one of the board that
even if it is resolved, they didn't want me back. That is why I've signed a
two-year contract to play county cricket in England for Essex. I'm a
professional cricketer and I have to be employed and if it is not for my
country then I have to find someone to play for."
chances of an amicable resolution are slim. Earlier this week, ICC president
Ehsan Mani described himself as "disappointed" after the initial hearing in
Harare between the ZCU and the players "did not go the distance".
two-man panel, India's solicitor-general, Goolam Vahanvati, and South
African high court judge Steven Majiedt, failed to hear oral submissions
after both parties failed to agree on whether the ZCU could have three board
members present during the submission of evidence by the players. The
process has now moved to written submissions but with neither party wishing
to concede ground on even the smallest issue, it looks set for an ICC
The situation, however, does give those England players
reluctant to tour some hope and would save the ECB further embarrassment
after having confirmed that Andrew Flintoff was missing the tour for reasons
of rest, to have him publicly state that he had informed them a week before
of his intention not to tour Zimbabwe for personal reasons. Ever since the
debacle in last year's World Cup, the issue of touring Zimbabwe has haunted
the ECB and such mistrust has developed between the players and
administrators that players are now less inclined to "toe the party line".
Flintoff has clearly stated that he was not touring, as did his friend,
Stephen Harmison. Marcus Trescothick however will be absent,
Flower will also be in England despite still owning a house in
"I still have interest in Zimbabwe but tend to be careful what
I say," he added. "What is good though is that next year I will be playing
with my brother again. When we left the field in Port Elizabeth after our
final group match in last year's World Cup, I was emotional because I
thought it was the last time I'd play with Andy, but now we are both at
Andy joined after the World Cup as an overseas player but Grant
has taken advantage of the Kolpak ruling and is playing under European Union
Up to 30 "Kolpak" players are expected to play county
cricket next season presenting the ECB with another contentious
"The Kolpak arrangement clearly benefits me," explained Flower.
"Since I was 18 I've travelled every winter to play cricket, league or
international, and as a professional player I need to earn. If that is in
England as a county pro then that suits me but I can see that it does cause
problems. If lots of spaces are being taken by Kolpak players then the young
English players may struggle. I can see the anti-Kolpak viewpoint but from a
personal angle I have to accept that it has been fought in the courts and
allows me to work. As a Zimbabwean, I have to make a new start, a lot of the
players do because of what is happening to Zimbabwean cricket, and this has
allowed me to do that."
If the dispute between the Zimbabwean players
and the ZCU is not resolved, many more may follow Flower and take advantage
of the Kolpak ruling. Streak himself is an overseas player for Warwickshire
but if his international career is over, the club may seek to strengthen
their team by playing him and signing another overseas star.
hinges on the executive board meeting in Pakistan in two weeks.
Sent: Saturday, October 02, 2004 7:13 PM Subject: Skin colour is
Dear Family and Friends
"Land to the people!" has
been President Mugabe's call for the last four years and seven months. It
was a call that saw almost a million people in the form of farmers, farm
workers and their families and extended families being made jobless, homeless
and destitute. It was also a call that saw Zimbabwe go from being a
regional seed and food exporter to a destitute beggar in less than four
years. "Our Land is Our Prosperity!" was the call that persuaded ordinary
rural peasants to go and squat on commercial farms around the country. This
call led to hyper inflation soaring to over 600% in January this year and
a massive brain drain with more than three million people streaming out of
Zimbabwe. "The Land is the economy!" was another slogan which our
government shoved down our throats while over 300 opposition supporters
were killed in political violence and foreign journalists were expelled from
the country. "Our land! Our Land! Our Land!" was the increasingly
hysterical call by the government as they clamped down on freedom of
speech, movement, association and publication.
While all of this went
on most of Zimbabwe's African neighbours have kept shamefully
quiet. Perhaps they believed the scores of hateful racist speeches that have
been spouted by our leaders or perhaps they were scared that they'd be
called racists if they criticised events in Zimbabwe. In the last three
weeks some diabolical things have been going on in Zimbabwe and yet still
our African neighbours cannot find their voices. Hundreds of black
peasant farmers and their families have been forcibly evicted from the land
they have been living on since February 2000. Evictions have apparently
been undertaken by soldiers and police who have set light to people's
homes and left peasant farmers with their wives, children, furniture and
livestock stranded on the side of main highways.
Quoted in the Zimbabwe
Independent newspaper last week, one evicted peasant farmer said: "We are
convinced that the government is now evicting us from the farms to pave the
way for Zanu PF officials."
White commercial farmers lived in fear and
were powerless when the Zimbabwean government came and grabbed their farms
in 2000. Black Zimbabwean farmers are now also living in fear for the
powerlessness that is about to engulf them as our government kicks them off
the farms too. Skin colour is irrelevant, we are all victims. Events in
Zimbabwe have surely now become the shame of Africa.
- The Politburo has endorsed the formation of a high level Zanu PF committee
tasked with coming up with strict guidelines to be used in vetting party
members vying for positions.
The guidelines will be implemented next
month before members can participate in the Zanu PF primary elections in
preparation for the 2005 general elections, The Standard can
reveal. Party sources say the move is designed to weed out new comers who are
denigrating senior party leaders as well as those trying to buy their way
The insiders said the feeling among the old guard in
the party who have come under threat from young and ambitious politicians is
that eight years of diligent service to Zanu PF be one of the conditions to
be applied in determining one's eligibility.
If approved by the
committee to be chaired by Speaker of Parliament, Emmerson Mnangagwa, such a
requirement could slam the door in the face of newcomers such as Jonathan
Moyo who have gone around their constituencies dishing out donations to the
Mnangagwa could not be reached for comment
The Zanu PF national chairman, John Nkomo referred The
Standard to Elliot Manyika, the party's national commissar saying he
(Manyika) was better placed to talk about the vetting
Manyika, who is expected to spearhead the restructuring exercise
of party provinces in anticipation of the primary elections, could neither
confirm nor deny that such a committee had been formed.
matter, please can you contact me after two weeks. I will then be in a
position to give you all the details but not everyone who wants to contest
primaries will do so," said Manyika.
Nathan Shamuyarira, the Zanu PF
spokesman yesterday said: "Deliberations or minutes of the Politburo are
confidential, so I don't have anything to say about that."
politburo member who spoke to The Standard on condition of anonymity
confirmed the move yesterday.
"We have come up with our own guidelines
and like any organisation, we want to avoid a situation whereby people
abandon the party only to return and cause confusion," said the politburo
Other party sources said the move to appoint a vetting committee
had been in the pipeline for a long time but featured on the agenda during a
recent politburo meeting after senior party officials spoke strongly about
the need to tighten the vetting process.
Party heavyweights led by
national chairman, Nkomo, have in the past few weeks come out in the open
saying they would not let new comers destroy Zanu PF.
News about the
committee comes two months after Nkomo stopped some ambitious party members
from imposing themselves as official party candidates without going through
the Zanu PF primary elections.
"A lot of young aspiring candidates are
not going to make it through the rigorous vetting process and those that
will make it are likely to contend with the Zanu PF old-guard who are easily
going to satisfy the tough conditions set out," said the source.
source said the party had resolved that those that will contest next year's
elections should have been members of Zanu PF for a period of not less than
eight years. The move is likely to throw a lifeline to the old guard facing
a stiff challenge from younger contenders.
Party insiders said those who
are likely to be disqualified from the party in primaries include members
who have been hauled before the disciplinary committee and those that are
facing allegations of corruption.
thriving fuel black market has resurfaced in the country as the crippling
shortage of the commodity continues with no solution in sight, The Standard
The situation is most critical in major cities such
as Harare and Bulawayo and enterprising individuals are taking advantage of
the crisis to sell fuel on the black market at exorbitant prices. Other
urban centres such as Gweru, Kwekwe and Kadoma are also facing fuel problems
as they have been receiving intermittent supplies.
Capitalising on the
situation, black marketers are selling five litres of petrol in Harare at an
average price of $45 000, translating to $9 000 a litre.
situation is more critical in Bulawayo where a litre of diesel has ballooned
from the pump price of $3 700 to $16 000 at the black market while petrol
costs $15 500 a litre from a mere $3 600.
"This is the time to make
money. We will empty this tank and sell the petrol instead of toiling for
nuts the whole day," said a commuter omnibus driver after filing his tank at
Jovenna Petroleum Service Station along Nelson Mandela Avenue in
A snap survey last week in Bulawayo indicated that major service
stations had not received petrol, diesel, unleaded and paraffin during the
past two weeks resulting in the prevalence of the black
Garage owners in Bulawayo said the crisis started on 12 September
2004 and garages which were lucky were receiving a mere 5 000 litres instead
of the normal 40 000 to 50 000 litres a day.
In an interview,
Bulawayo Service Station Manager, Audrey Kleinworth, said the prices of
petrol, diesel, unleaded and paraffin had drastically risen owing to the
At most service stations in Harare and Bulawayo, the picture is
one common during the critical fuel shortages more than a year ago, with
long queues being the norm.
Bulawayo city council expressed concern
that their operations would be severely affected by fuel shortage with the
collection of refuse being threatened.
Churches call for peaceful 2005 elections By our own
WITH just six months to the March 2005 parliamentary elections,
religious leaders say political parties should be free to campaign, while
campaigning should be peaceful.
The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops'
Conference (ZCBC) yesterday called for a "credible electoral process", whose
outcome will be a people's choice with local and international
recognition. They also said voters were entitled to peaceful times before,
during and after next March's parliamentary elections.
In a joint
pastoral letter yesterday the bishops said the period before elections was a
time for voters to assess their candidates and see if they were good
A similar message from the Methodist Church
reinforced their call. The concerns come against reports by the Zimbabwe
Human Rights NGO Forum that 52 people were reportedly assaulted while 1 061
others were tortured in connection with the 2002 presidential election. The
pastoral letter said: "Good leaders aspire to serve and not be served, are
accountable and responsible, value truth and have respect for human
The concerns by the bishops come amid reports of inter and
intra-party fighting especially between the ruling Zanu PF and the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ahead of primaries to choose
candidates who will represent the parties in next year's parliamentary
For the bishops, if an atmosphere of peace, freedom and
fairness during elections exists, Zimbabwe should really be proud to invite
both local and international observers to witness democracy in
They appealed to the media in Zimbabwe to serve all sections of
society. The bishops said: "It is important that all political parties have
access to media coverage so that they can inform citizens about how they
intend to govern if they are elected into power."
In a criticism of
the State-controlled media in the country, the bishops said: "This is an
abuse of State structures that leads to various consequences like media
propaganda, favouritism and discrimination against those seen as
They were making these observations because previous elections
were marred by "a lot" of violence leading to controversial results, they
The outgoing Methodist Church leader, Bishop Cephas Mukandi, urged
all Christians to avoid being used by politicians as next year's
parliamentary elections approach.
War vets challenge top Zanu PF chefs in polls By Caiphas
MORE veterans of Zimbabwe's liberation struggle are this year
challenging senior ruling Zanu PF party officials, setting the stage for
tough Zanu PF primary elections, The Standard can reveal.
very few war veterans contested the parliamentary elections, let alone
openly challenged senior Zanu PF politicians in their constituencies. In the
2000 parliamentary and 2002 presidential polls, war veterans were at the
centre of the Zanu PF campaign strategy, without themselves vying for
The former freedom fighters spoke to The
Standard last week and said they were tired of being used by politicians,
who forget about their welfare soon after the elections.
"For a long
time we were being used as the campaign tools by some politicians. Now we
are saying enough is enough, we also want those positions of influence. We
can't live in their shadows forever," said one war veteran, who requested
War Veterans' Association chairman, Jabulani Sibanda, said
former freedom fighters were contesting in almost all constituencies
countrywide because of the "reawakening of the revolutionary spirit" among
the ex-combatants. He said war veterans had resolved to support each other
during Zanu PF primary elections.
Sibanda said the spirit was revived
after war veterans invaded white owned commercial farms in
"After independence, we relaxed because Britain had promised to
fund the land reform programme, but after realising that what we fought for
is not coming, we decided to take the battle further by encouraging our
members to contest parliamentary seats," he said.
challenging governor Obert Mpofu in Matabeleland North. Mpofu is a politburo
War veterans are also challenging other Zanu PF
Didymus Mutasa, the Minister of Anti-Corruption, faces a
strong challenge from James Kaunye, a war veteran who was heavily assaulted
by Mutasa's supporters recently.
Foreign Affairs Minister and
Politburo member, Stan Mudenge, faces Retired Major Kudzai Mbudzi, again a
war veteran, in Masvingo North.
Even Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Zanu PF
secretary for administration who wants Kwekwe constituency is facing stiff
competition from a war veteran, Retired Brigadier Benjamin
Asked by The Standard on Friday whether he would challenge
Mnangagwa who is a political heavyweight not only in the Midlands but
nationally, Mabenge said: "Maybe yes, maybe no. I can't say much at the
moment. Anyone can be challenged. I am watching the
Another war veteran, Chinx Chingaira, has also entered the
race and is challenging Gibson Munyoro in Makoni West.
war veterans, ex-detainees and mujibhas and chimbwidos in Masvingo had
resolved to support each other during the Zanu PF primaries.
mujibhas and chimbwidos on our side, which is basically the whole of Zanu
PF, I don't know who would vote for these politicians. We cannot have people
who were not part and parcel of liberation struggle leading us," said
In recent years freedom fighters had the audacity to challenge
senior Zanu PF politicians in the party's primaries. Among the ex-combatants
who broke the 'tradition' were Margaret Dongo and Irene Zindi, who became
MPs for Sunningdale and Hatfield respectively.
championing the government's controversial "agrarian revolution" the public
broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH), has decided to practise
what it has been preaching during the last four years.
A regional, town
and country planning notice last week announced that ZBH formerly the
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation is planning to carry out horticultural
operations at Pockets Hill in Highlands, Harare. The notice says: "The
proposed horticultural use is temporary. It has been necessitated by the
current need to generate foreign currency, which is intended to sustain and
enhance broadcasting services of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting
According to the notice, the affected portion of land is
reserved for the future expansion of the broadcasting station but will not
be needed for the next 10 years.
In terms of the Borrowdale
Racecourse Local plan, horticulture is not freely permitted nor subjected to
special consent procedure of Harare City Council.
An application has been
lodged with the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works and National
Housing seeking authority to carry out the proposed horticultural
Rino Zhuwarara, the executive chairman of ZBH, was not
immediately available for comment yesterday.
Meanwhile the Zimbabwe
Revenue Authority (Zimra) has garnished the accounts of the ZBH over unpaid
taxes amounting to more than a billion dollars.
Sources at the national
broadcaster revealed to The Standard that the company has not been remitting
tax to Zimra since March this year leaving the company in a debt of $1,3
billion in unpaid taxes.
According to findings of the Parliamentary
Committee on Transport and Communications' investigations, ZBH has been
making serious losses because of political interference and dwindling
ZBH sources told The Standard that the move by Zimra
had seriously affected all the other subsidiaries.
not elaborate on the position of the company. He said everything had been
"That has since been resolved and it is not going to be a
serious problem since we paid up our dues. They (Zimra) were just collecting
revenue," said Zhuwarara before switching off his mobile
However, sources from ZTV said the problems were worsened by a ban
on adverts from companies considered "politically
"Adverts from Econet and PSI, for example, are not accepted
on ZTV because the government associates them with the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC). Imagine how much the television station could
rake in from these organisations alone," said a source.
Stop dishing cheap money, IMF tells RBZ By Kumbirai
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe should stop bailing out companies
through cheap money initiatives because such schemes promote inflation, the
International Monetary Fund (IMF) has warned.
Reserve Bank Governor
Gideon Gono, on his eleventh month in office, says he is on target to
contain runaway inflation to about 200% by December. Gono says his monetary
measures are bearing fruit as evidenced by the softening levels of inflation
since February. In August, the government's Central Statistical Office (CSO)
said it pegged Zimbabwe's inflation rate at 314%.
However, the IMF
fears cheap money being doled out by the Reserve Bank through schemes such
as the current distressed companies' funds, could fuel demand-push
inflation, which arises from increased money supply.
The IMF urged the
RBZ to allow market forces "be permitted to determine interest rates" and
that concessional lending to selected borrowers be phased
Through the much-lauded Productive Sector Fund (PSF), the central
bank has been parceling out funds to stressed sectors of the economy at
concessionary rates to cushion producers and exporters against high bank
Since its inception, the RBZ fund has dished out nearly
$1,5 trillion to mainly private companies. The facility initially attracted
a highly negative interest rate of 30% but was later reviewed to
Free market economists contacted by Standard Business shared the
IMF's concern although others said its recommendations suggest chopping down
the tree on which the progress of a country depended upon.
cheap money initiative) should be gradually removed and relegated to small
to medium companies," says Witness Chinyama, Kingdom Financial Holdings
Already there are reports that several beneficiaries of
the funds are abusing the programme by investing and committing the cheap
money into non-core projects and investments.
Besides the PSF
facility, borrowers have also helped themselves to a $60 billion
agricultural loan facility that was administered by the State's
The central bank say 200 farmers have been identified as
having abused the loan facility by purchasing luxury vehicles and houses.
Other beneficiaries have offloaded the funds on the money market to hunt
higher returns before they repay the loans.
The PSF facility runs up
to June 2005 for exporters and December 2004 for non-exporters.
the main beneficiaries of this facility is the manufacturing sector which
chewed up to $683 billion, agriculture $522 billion, mining $115 billion
while transport accounted for $69 billion.
Couple loses fight to evict lawyers from farm By our own
A Chinhoyi magistrate has reversed a peace order granted to an
elderly farming couple against Harare legal practitioners, Johannes Tomana,
Joseph Mandizha and Wilson Manase, stopping them from interfering with
operations at their Maryland Farm in the Darwendale area.
had sought and was granted a peace order stopping the lawyers from going to
the farm, but the lawyers filed opposing papers. The magistrate said in
applying for the peace order, the couple had sought to involve the court in
settling the farm acquisition dispute, which was before the Administrative
"In other words, this court is not convinced that this is a mere
application for a peace order as it incorporates several issues that stand
to be determined by the Administrative Court.
"The applicant would
want this court to rule that they be allowed to stay on the farm, a farm
that has been acquired for resettlement purposes by government but this
court has neither the jurisdiction nor the inclination to decide such a
According to papers filed at the Civil Law section at the
Chinhoyi magistrates' court, the lawyers went to the farm, which has been
divided into three blocks and told the farm manager, Pieter Gertenbach, that
they were the new owners of the property.
The farm also boasts three
Part of the affidavit signed by Gertenbach says: "On
3 September 2004, Mr Tomana and his relatives threatened to have us arrested
if we remained on the farm. On 19 September in the morning, Matthew
Chaminyoro and Tichaona Chitika arrived at the farm together with some
youths and blocked the gate leading to my house. The group sang and beat
their drums through the night until morning of 20 September. This group was
under the influence of Johannes Tomana who stayed at the gate through the
Kestell Bezuidenhout, the owner of the farm said in August he was
arrested on charges of violating sections of the Land Acquisition
"The police officer was driven to my home in Avondale, Harare, in a
BMW vehicle, which belongs to a legal practitioner, Mr Johannes Tomana and
driven by his son."
Bezuidenhout 76 and his wife aged 71 wrote an
impassioned plea to the Minister of Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement,
John Nkomo objecting to the compulsory acquisition of their
They said their farm was in full production, producing tobacco,
seed maize and beef.
The farm, which the couple bought in 1983,
employs 230 people.
"Eleven years ago, it was found that I have cancer of
the bladder. Five years ago I had a cardiac by-pass. My wife also has a
heart condition. We are too old to start elsewhere," reads part of the
statements made by Bezuidenhout.
"Honourable minister, please give
your kind consideration to the delisting of Maryland Farm. Everything we as
a family have worked for over all these years is tied up in this land,
improvements and machinery," pleaded Bezuidenhout in his letter to
Health disaster looms as water crisis persists By our own
FAILURE by the Harare City Council to address the water crisis is
impacting negatively on the day-to-day running of public institutions as
well as private companies and posing a serious health hazard in the
For days, hospitals, clinics, schools and companies in high density
areas and the industrial areas go without water, The Standard has
established. Most of the officials from the institutions who spoke to The
Standard said the situation could soon develop into a health
Jameson Gadzirai the spokesperson for the Combined Harare
Residents' Association (CHRA), said the situation was getting out of hand as
the city council was making no effort to inform the residents about the
interruptions to water supplies.
"Residents are not informed about
the water cuts. Water is just cut at random. This is because the council is
concentrating on party politics,"Gadzirai said.
He said that despite
complaints from the public on a daily basis the "city council has remained
He blamed the failure by the city council to resolve the water
crisis on leaders who are more concerned about staying in power while
ignoring "genuine concerns".
Tonderai Mukeredzi, the spokesperson of
the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) said: "The Consumer Council of
Zimbabwe would like to call for a permanent solution to the water crisis in
Harare so that consumers get value for the rates the are
"There is need to regularise the quality of water in Harare at
"Water is a basic need and human right and the city fathers
have continued to violate consumers' rights to safe, clean and uninterrupted
supply of water with impunity.
"CCZ condemns the intermittent water
cuts in the absence of contingent measures such as the provision of water
bowsers. We believe this amounts to poor sanitation which may in turn cause
Mukeredzi also said the CCZ wants the government to
treat water supplies seriously by "prioritising resources" and funds
allocated to water development.
Sipiwe Ngwerume, programme
co-ordinator at Chiedza Home, an HIV and Aids patients sanctuary in Glen
View said the centre was sometimes without water for up to four
"For the past week, we were without water from Monday to Thursday.
Everyday in the morning we are sometimes without water and life is becoming
very unbearable. Can you imagine dealing with patients without water? It's
very unhealthy," said Ngwerume.
She said they were queueing for hours
with other desperate residents at Glen View Hall.
Schools in the
high-density areas with enrolments of more than 2 000 also complained of
water cuts saying they were unable to maintain a healthy environment without
A teacher at Tafara High 2 said the problem was serious and at
times they were forced to send children back home.
"We have raised
concern with the city council over the issue and they promised to improve
the situation but nothing has been done. At times we are forced to disrupt
classes yet it is the third term of the year, when students should be
writing their final examinations," said the teacher.
In other schools,
the city council has promised to provide water bowsers after they complained
but these are still to be delivered.
Investigations by The Standard
revealed that most people from low-density suburbs were sinking their own
boreholes in order to complement the poor supplies from the
Sibongile Chuma of Glen View said although they had constant
interruptions to water supplies almost on a daily basis, their bills
continued to be very high every month.
In Mabvuku, Tafara, Msasa
Park, Glen Lorne, Greendale and Cranborne among others, the situation has
remained desperate with residents going for days without water.
Moyo slammed over arrests By our own
INFORMATION Minister Jonathan Moyo should have investigated
the facts before ordering the arrest of Zimbabwe Independent journalists in
connection with a story they wrote about President Mugabe's use of an Air
Zimbabwe plane earlier this year, a senior lawyer told a magistrate's court
Describing Moyo's actions as "overzealous", Advocate Edith
Mushore said Moyo could have caused "embarrassment to the President" by
sensationalising a true story on Mugabe's use of an Air Zimbabwe plane
carried by the Independent earlier this year. The story published on January
9 said Mugabe had "grabbed" an Air Zimbabwe plane during his Far-East
holiday and business trip.
Mushore said that former Independent
editor, Iden Wetherell, ex-news editor, Vincent Kahiya, and reporters
Dumisani Muleya and Itai Dzamara did not defame Mugabe as alleged because
the story was essentially correct.
She said Moyo contradicted himself in
his angry denial of the article by claiming the story was a "fabrication",
while in the exact same piece he effectively confirmed it was true. The
journalists were arrested on January 10 on allegations of criminal
defamation against Mugabe.
"There is no reasonable suspicion that the
four accused committed the offence of criminal defamation based on the
factual reporting," Mushore said. "It was established in The Herald of the
following day (January 10) when Minister Moyo had conducted his own enquiry
into the story that the facts were true, and when he confirmed that the
story emanated from Air Zimbabwe itself, and that the President did take the
plane to the Far East."
Moyo told The Herald that Air Zimbabwe sources of
the story would be dealt with.
Mushore said that Moyo himself
confirmed that the story was not "fictitious", but then referred to the
story as being "blasphemous", in the following day's publication of The
Herald. She said former Air Zimbabwe managing director Rambai Chingwena also
confirmed the story as being true, in The Herald but tried to play it down
by focusing on protocol matters.
"The accused were arrested and detained
at the behest of the complainant, who clearly was the minister not the
president," Mushore said. "The police had acted excitedly when they arrested
the four accused, as they recommended to the AG's office that bail be
"When the matter was brought to the Attorney General's Office,
sanity prevailed after a proper consideration of legal principles," she
said."This was after the four accused had spent the entire weekend in Police
"The AG's office agreed on a low bail of $100 000 for each of
the accused. This Honourable Court immediately brought that figure down to
$20 000 for each of them thereby demonstrating to the complainant the
triviality of the matter and thereby suggesting that the State would have
great difficulty in securing conviction." Mushore said the media had an
important role to play by informing the public and holding public officials
A ruling on Mushore's application for the journalists to be
removed from remand will be made on November 1.
'Green Bombers' terrorise Manicaland By Caiphas
NOTORIOUS Zanu PF youth militia and war veterans have imposed a
"curfew" in parts of Manicaland as politically motivated violence rocks the
province ahead of next year's parliamentary elections, The Standard has been
Political violence is rampant in Makoni West and East, Mutare
Central as well as Chipinge North and South, where some opposition
supporters have fled their homes, six months before the general
elections. Several Zanu and Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters
were last Saturday brutally assaulted by "Green Bombers" in Chipinge after
they refused to attend a Zanu PF restructuring meeting held at Mabhiza
"People in the area told the youths that they would not
attend Zanu PF meetings because they were denied food. That is when hell
broke loose. That night, they moved from house to house beating up people,"
said a source.
The Standard last week reported that youth militia and war
veterans were denying non-Zanu PF members maize meal which is only available
at the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) depot in the district.
Saturday's victims, Nyeredzi Simango and Denis Macheka, both of Mabhiza
village, were hospitalised at Chiredzi Hospital after the attack.
official at the hospital confirmed they admitted the two.
"They were in
bad shape but are recovering. One had a deep cut to the head, while the
other had wounds all over the body," said the official on
Chipinge South MP Wilson Kumbula also confirmed that Zanu
PF youths and war veterans injured several people from his constituency
during an attack. He said eight supporters who retaliated were later
abducted, beaten up and handed to the police, where they were charged for
public violence under the Public Order and Security Act (Posa).
lawyer, Langton Mhungu, said the eight MDC activists who, on Thursday,
appeared before Chipinge magistrate, Thembelani Khumalo, facing charges of
public violence, were out on a $30 000 bail. They will appear at Chisumbanje
Circuit Court tomorrow (Monday).
Since the Zanu PF restructuring
meeting, the "Green Bombers" have imposed a curfew in Chipinge, prohibiting
free movement after 8:00PM.
"They patrol every night and if they come
across you, you know you are in trouble. We have received a lot complaints
from our members there," said Pishayi Muchauraya, the MDC spokesperson for
In another incident of politically motivated
violence, Wilson Vhuso was attacked by suspected Zanu PF youths who asked
him why he worked for Kumbula and not for the ruling party.
my workers (Wilson Vhuso) was severely assaulted by the police. It is
useless to report the cases to the police because Chinyoka (the
officer-in-charge at Chisumbanje) does nothing about it," said
Chinyoka could not be reached for a comment.
said it was increasingly becoming difficult for opposition supporters to
live a normal life in Manicaland because of violence.
police in Chipinge are behaving like Zanu PF activists because if an MDC
supporter goes to report after an attack they arrest him or her instead of
arresting the perpetrators," he said.
In Chipinge North, Muchauraya said,
Zanu PF youth militia and war veterans last week torched two huts belonging
to opposition party supporter, Takasiyiwa Majede, in Musani
"One of the victims is Takasiyiwa Majede of Musani who was
severely beaten together with his wife before they set his house on fire. We
reported the matter at Chipangayi Police Station, giving the names of the
people involved but no one was arrested," said Muchauraya.
also been reports of violence in Makoni East and West, where some MDC
supporters now fear for their lives. In Mutare Central, several homes
belonging to MDC supporters have been attacked during the past two
But Zanu PF Manicaland provincial chairman, Mike Madiro, said he
was not aware of the latest wave of violence in the province.
to check on the specifics if ever it happened. But Zanu PF as a party does
not condone violence. We want people to campaign peacefully," said Madiro,
who added that Zanu and MDC might be concocting stories of violence because
they know "their days in province are numbered".
Allegations of selective
arrests by the police come barely two weeks after Police Commissioner,
Augustine Chihuri, declared that he would arrest all perpetrators of
violence despite political affiliation.
Police blitz leaves commuters stranded By Valentine
A police blitz, which put out of operation nearly 1 400 commuter
buses, has left residents of Harare and Chitungwiza stranded for transport.
Commuter buses found with inadequate papers or being unroadworthy were taken
off the road and sent to the Vehicle Inspection Depot for
While the police say they have arrested 1 382 operators
and raised more than $37 million through fines, the cost to commuters is
considerable. They are never at work on time or reach home late at
Margaret Mawere of Chitungwiza wakes up at 4.00AM everyday to
prepare breakfast for herself and her two primary school children before
leaving for work.
Mawere, a secretary at a consultancy firm in Mount
Pleasant, says going to work every morning has become a frustrating struggle
"By 6.00AM I have to be at the bus station to catch a commuter omnibus
to Harare. If I am lucky, by 7.30 am I could be in Harare where I then must
find transport to Mount Pleasant."
After knocking off at 4.30PM, she
begins another "struggle" to get back home. "Due to transport shortages, I
usually get to the city centre at 6 PM before battling to get to
Chitungwiza. I get home late at night usually at around 10 PM and this means
I rarely see my children in the evenings because every time I get home they
After going to bed at 11PM, she only has five hours to sleep
before repeating the daily grind of going to work and returning home to her
For Mawere and thousands other commuters getting transport
to work has become a daily nightmare because most commuter omnibuses are
grounded due to shortages of spare parts or the police have not impounded
the vehicles because they are not roadworthy.
The problem is more
evident during peak hours when available commuter omnibus drivers opt for
shorter routes, leaving commuters bound for Chitungwiza, Mabvuku and
Gregory Mlambo also of Chitungwiza, narrated his
daily ordeal to find transport to and from work.
"When I get home, I
just eat and sleep because I will be very tired from standing in the long
queues for transport. The problem continues because we have to wait for
transport again every morning. You will be very lucky to get to work on
time," he said.
Every evening, thousands of people line up along major
roads flagging down the few commuter buses still on the road and private
Many risk being run over by vehicles as they jostle to be first on
any bus or vehicle which stops. And when it gets very dark, they risk
falling prey to thieves, who prowl bus stops.
Tambudzai Makwara of
Kuwadzana says she has become a stranger to her family. "I have been here
since half past five. It is almost two hours since I joined this queue and
its getting dark. This is a real disappointment because there are no buses,"
said Makwara who now arrives home each day to find her two children
A number of workers, who stay in surrounding suburbs such as
Mbare, Warren Park, Arcadia, Belvedere and Eastlea, now resort to walking to
and from their workplaces.
Lovemore Zimuto, a welder at an electrical
company in Harare's Workington industrial area, said he walks because he
cannot afford to be late for work. "I feel I should be able to get a bus
home and rest because I work very hard, but I've got no choice. I walk,
because I want to keep my job," said Zimuto, who stays in Warren Park.
BULAWAYO - The Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) has failed to
pay about $8 billion to monitors it engaged for the mobile voter
registration exercise held in the country a few months ago, an ESC official
The government-funded commission recruited 800
monitors from around the country's 10 provinces between April and July this
year to monitor the voter registration, deaths and births registration
exercise that began on April 28 and ended on July 15. The ESC is yet to pay
them. Some of the disgruntled monitors who spoke to The Standard on condition
of anonymity said each province had about 80 monitors. Each of these, they
said, was owed about $10 million by the commission.
"When the ESC
engaged us in April, our initial agreement was that we would be receiving
the sum of $130 000 a day with our payments coming once every two weeks. We
honestly and faithfully did our work but surprisingly, the ESC is not
forthcoming and we are very disappointed," said one male monitor based in
Another monitor said: "We are not so sure as to whether we will
be able to recover our $10 million a person because the coordinators of the
mobile voter registration exercise are scattered all over the country. Maybe
the solution is going to the courts."
ESC spokesperson, Thomas Bvuma,
confirmed to The Standard on Friday that his organisation had failed to pay
the monitors. "It is true that we have not paid these monitors but we are
busy running around in order to raise their money from our sponsors, he
government and the ruling Zanu PF are pursuing and implementing between now
and March next year will be dictated by fear of losing the 2005
This suggests its alliance with the war veterans
cannot be relied on to deliver total victory. The decision behind the
move to pay millions in gratuities to former political prisoners, detainees
and restrictees is prompted by Zanu PF's fear and uncertainty about its
prospects of being re-elected for another term. There are several precedents
of vote buying by the government and ruling party to support this
In the early 1980s and 1990s it was the promise of land, free
education, health and housing for all, as well as violence if the first four
"carrots" did not appear to produce the expected outcome.
the late 1990s after failure of the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme
(ESAP) all pretence at enticing voters was dropped in favour of brute force,
spearheaded by war veterans, who had benefited from the government's hefty
The alliance with war veterans ensured the ruling
party of foot soldiers for its campaign for the 2000 parliamentary elections
and the 2002 presidential poll. The strategy helped the ruling party back
into the driving seat and hence recourse to the same tactics ahead of next
year's parliamentary elections.
Last week the government gazetted the
Ex-Political Prisoners, Detainees and Restrictees Bill, which seeks to dole
out billions of dollars to those, who in one way or another were involved in
the struggle for independence.
In addition it is proposed that there be a
scheme providing free education at a State or government primary, secondary
and tertiary educational institution; a medical and dental scheme offering
free medical and dental treatment also covering spouses or dependents of the
ex-political prisoners, detainees or restrictees.
The Bill also
provides for a funeral assistance and a monthly pension payable to an
ex-political prisoner, detainee or restrictee, which shall not be less than
the minimum salary received by a member of the Public Service at any time,
and a monthly survivor's or child's pension payable to
The intention behind this strategy is to create another
layer of people, in addition to the war veterans, who will campaign and are
committed to ensuring that Zanu PF wins, because its victory will safeguard
But uncertain whether this will guarantee the
victory it desires, the government is compulsorily acquiring 40 farms and
properties surrounding Harare for urban housing development. While this is
presented as a move expected to address the critical housing shortage, in
reality it is a strategy to wrest the capital from the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC).
It is instructive to note that in both
the case of the vetting, confirmation and pay out processes in relation to
ex-political prisoners and others on the one hand and servicing of stands on
farms bought for urban housing on the other these are unlikely to be
implemented before March 2005.
The voters will only realise when it is
too late that the promised payments or stands will remain unrealised and
unachievable. If the government were genuinely committed to compensating
former political prisoners, detainees and restrictees it would not have
waited 24 years. Additionally, provision of housing would not have been
forgotten after 2000.
Both the government and Zanu PF are determined to
abuse voters once more for their own selfish ends, namely securing an
In order to establish how genuine the government's
concern for the plight of the ex-political prisoners and others is, it is
important to consider the plight of widows of national heroes. They are
But the government also makes these promises and decisions in
order to complicate matters. In the event that it loses the parliamentary
elections, the intention is to create expectations that will form the basis
for possible discontent for any administration that might come after
The lesson is that the government and the ruling party use voters and
freely discard them whenever it is convenient. The fate of families at
Whitecliff Farm and settlers who invaded farms in 2000 is a case in point.
They are now being asked to move out because they served their purpose and
must now be deployed as cannon fodder in another election campaign.
Alternatively the evictions could be aimed at moving voters to
constituencies where the outcome of a poll can be predetermined.
these are desperate times and people are being driven to extremes in order
to keep the wolf from the door. One of the lessons learnt from the War
Victims' Compensation Fund is that a lot of undesirable and undeserving
characters end up abusing the fund. The same fate awaits the fund for
ex-political prisoners, detainees and restrictees.
characters will access the fund, while others of questionable standing
within the associations representing the ex-political prisoners, detainees
and restrictees will see this as an opportunity to make easy
In the case of stands, the majority of people queuing up will
be those already with houses elsewhere. They will put forward names of
relatives and friends, for a fee, while claiming ownership of the stands
where they will construct rented accommodation.
Those desperately in
need of houses right now do not even have the resources for building houses
because of the prevailing economic hardships - thanks to the government's
policies that have thrown millions of people out of jobs and appear
determined to transform the economy into one huge informal
Let no one be fooled by Zanu PF's concern for ex-detainees
and those without a roof over their heads. It is all part of the strategy to
win votes. Then after the win - forgotten!
Let them eat hamburgers overthetop By Brian
THE government of a troubled central African nation has said there
will be no shortage of food this year, despite startling evidence to the
Still, authorities say that, faced with highly unlikely food
shortages, the people could always eat hamburgers. Scientific evidence
provided by 250 million overweight Americans showed that hamburgers staved
off starvation, particularly among poor inner-city populations. But when
contacted for comment, hamburger giant MacDonald's said it had no plans to
venture into the food aid business. Nor was it considering opening a new
franchise rumoured to be called Zany Mac's Hamburger Hut.
deeply troubled central Africans wondered what their government knew that
they didn't. Promises of abundant food seemed unlikely to materialise given
an unprecedented low level of deliveries.
An anonymous spokesman from the
just functioning Can't Farm Union said that the figures were "positively
alarming" and indicated looming shortages for the fourth year
This was dismissed by the ruling Zany Party where a spokesman
said, "Well, they would say that, wouldn't they?" The Zany spokesman said
that the Can't Farm Union was not qualified to comment on the issue because
its members can't farm.
Meanwhile analysts told Over The Top that it
could well be true that there would be sufficient food in the troubled
central African basket case.
But they said the food would be imported
from places like Argentina.
"It is obvious that one result of our
glorious agrarian revolution has been the skill with which Argentinean
farmers are able to make us self-sufficient in food," said an
"All the packaging and all the labels saying 'Produce of the
troubled central African nation' and 'Gift of the Zany Party' will have 100
percent local content," the analyst added.
Zany insiders said it was
of paramount importance that the troubled central African nation maintains
its self-sufficiency in food supply until next year's general
It is thought that the troubled central African country's last
election may have been unduly influenced by bags of food labelled "Gift of
the USA" and "Gift of the European Union."
Both the United States and
the EU have been accused of being allies of the opposition More Drink Coming
"The treasonous More Drink Coming Party is trying to turn the
troubled central African nation into a colony," said a Zany insider. "It is
better by far that the people depend on us for their food and that they show
proper gratitude by voting for us."
Meanwhile the troubled central
African nation's confused agriculture ministry said it would end all future
food shortages by forcing new farmers to grow a minimum hectarage of maize.
It did not say how it would enforce this strange regulation, or whether it
would guarantee sufficient rain to make it grow.
Still, it said by
forcing farmers to grow maize for next year, it was not admitting there
would be a shortage this season. Instead it claimed there was more than
enough food to feed hungry troubled central Africans, but that it was taking
the measure to make certain that there was even more than enough in years to
Meanwhile more serious analysts said they were deeply worried.
Serious predictions based on production figures in previous years indicated
that the troubled central African country would be importing food "for some
time to come."
crisis has been raging on for about five years now. Various attempts at
resolution have been tried at different levels to no avail. The first
significant attempt was the Abuja Agreement of 2001, which unfortunately
reduced the crisis to a conflict over land between Britain and
After the controversial 2002 presidential election, Zanu PF
and MDC tried unsuccessfully, despite prodding by Presidents Thabo Mbeki of
South Africa, Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria and Bakili Muluzi of Malawi to
engage in dialogue. The Commonwealth also tried to mediate to no avail.
Throughout these attempts, Zimbabwe succeeded in embarrassing her friends,
losing international goodwill and isolate herself. In 2003, in a
submission to The Zimbabwe Independent, I wrote that for any progress to be
made civil society had to be involved as a third force for it was observed
then that the reasons for the breakdown of the "talks about talks" between
the two major political parties bordered on trivia. It was also observed
that the Zimbabwean crisis was bigger than the two parties combined and that
any attempt to resolve the crisis that left out civil society was bound to
I do not seek here to celebrate my vindication but rather lament
our penchant as a nation and people to miss opportunities and
Barely six months before the next parliamentary election,
Zimbabwe is still saddled with the crisis and in much need of a political
settlement. After the fallout with much of the international community,
Zimbabwe's last pillar of defence appears to be SADC.
abide by the recently adopted SADC principles and guidelines on democratic
elections would be suicidal for Zimbabwe. Despite statements to the
contrary, Zimbabwe and the Zanu PF government in particular crave
international recognition, approval and solidarity.
Because of this,
Zanu PF has to a very large extent governed or ruled by the law no matter
how unjust, bad or skewed that law is. It should also be noted that Zimbabwe
has been quick to identify, on paper that is, with good international
principles and conventions. As has become common our country has always come
short on practice. It could be argued that as before, Zimbabwe can still
violate the SADC protocol with impunity. This would be foolish and suicidal
as the world is fast losing patience with Zimbabwe.
It has been pointed
on countless times that Zimbabwe needs the world more that the world needs
Zimbabwe. This is the cold reality. It becomes more poignant given the fact
that Zimbabwe is a small, landlocked and disease ravaged country that is
prone to droughts.
Since the manifestation of the Zimbabwe crisis, the
world had been very patient with Zimbabwe. In recent months there has been
growing impatience with Zimbabwe as demonstrated by being sidelined in
different meetings and fora. The country has also lost out on hosting any of
the African Union's (AU) prestigious institutions. Our hasty departure from
the Commonwealth and escape on a technicality from censure by the AU are
indications of growing isolation.
While an all people's conference
remains desirable and the best way forward, it is most unlikely now given
the timing. Zanu PF would not want to be seen to be capitulating to any form
of pressure a few months before a major election.
However, the fact
remains that talks are indispensable. A perfect opportunity presents itself
in the form of electoral reforms. The nation and the region expect the 2005
parliamentary election to be held under a new electoral regime. Zanu PF and
the government of Zimbabwe indicated long before Mauritius their commitment
to reform. Talks between the two major parties in parliament over
constitutional amendments should not raise suspicion. In the absence of a
new constitution, we feel this is the best option.
At a recent
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) regional workshop on electoral
reforms, Dr Shamuyarira pointed out the need to engage the MDC if electoral
reforms that the governing party was considering were to be effected. Dr
Shamuyarira's reforms, which mirrored in some sections the proposal by civil
society and other progressive forces, centred on constitutional
The MDC responded by demanding changes that go beyond the mere
administration of elections but also challenged the environment of the same.
They demanded the repeal of POSA, AIPPA, BSA, the return to professional
conduct of the security services etc. and the withdrawal of the NGOs Bill.
This in my view is the basis for negotiation.
Soon after the SADC
meeting, ostensibly at the lack of progress by Zanu PF, MDC announced
withdrawal from all elections until after the SADC principles (read their
concerns) were adhered to. Zanu PF responded by gazetting the NGOs and the
It should be pointed out that the Bills kill both the spirit
and letter of the SADC principles. Critics would point out that Zanu PF is
used to swimming against the current and they would proceed with the reforms
without sanction. As submitted herein it would be suicidal as the world has
changed so much since 2000.
The flexing of muscles by the two parties
could be viewed as another level of negotiation albeit at a very informal
and unhealthy level. It should be pointed out that this is not the time for
Mugabe has declared the 2003 to 2004 agricultural season a "bumper harvest",
but what is of concern is that the provincial governors of Masvingo,
Matabeleland South and North were recently reported in the press appealing
for urgent food relief because the lives of the masses were at
Not even Joseph Made, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural
Develoment, who has always struggled to pretend that his ministry is doing
fine to return Zimbabwe to its status as bread basket of Southern Africa can
disguise the impending food crisis. Playing politics with food is
tantamount to burying people alive.
Right now the greater part of Chivi
district in Masvingo province is under serious threat from famine following
a poor harvest, but what I find disgusting is that when Care International,
a non-governmental organisation (NGO), was ready to make sure no one dies of
hunger, it was eventually booted out of the district on political
I understand there were some problems with the NGO, but in my
view it didn't warrant the kind of action taken against it. All it required
was correction, perhaps through negotiation.
When was the last time
the President visited Binga? Is hunger and starvation there new to him?
Almost each and every season people in Binga end up scrounging for roots to
save themselves from starvation. Who cares about the reported and unreported
cases of death by starvation occurring in that God-forsaken area?
say this because of President Mugabe's uncalled for attack against the
Bulawayo Archbishop Pius Ncube for allegedly exposing starvation to which
the President said: "Where are you getting all that! Where in Zimbabwe have
people died of hunger?"
I believe that all the claims about a bumper
harvest are just but a move by the old man to try and bolster the impression
that the controversial agrarian reform was a remarkable success hence there
is enough food for the nation.
MP for Guruve (Zanu PF) Edward
Chindori Chininga, made what I consider a commendable move when he recently
urged the government to conduct an urgent food assessment survey in the
country in order to establish areas that are seriously in need of relief
food. So was the Minister of Public Service, labour and Social Welfare, Paul
Mangwana, who was reported as telling the Parliament that the country needed
177 000 tonnes of maize to feed people. Does this prove Mugabe
Finally, the President's continuous attacks on the NGOs at the
height of such starvation can only be made by a government insensitive to
the plight of its
Mining problems loom as 3000 get retrenched By Kumbirai
MORE than 3 000 employees have been forced out of employment in
the mining sector in the past four years and more employees face a similar
fate if government presses ahead with forced cessation of mining shares to
promote black empowerment.
Since 2000, most mines predominantly those
owned by the government, have been laying off workers as viability
constraints worsen in the capital-intensive sector. Of the 3 006 workers,
2 811 were working for public-owned mines run by the Zimbabwe Mining
Development Corporation (ZMDC), which represents the mines owned by the
government, while 255 were employed by multinational companies. ZMDC, which
had 10 mines in operation at its inception, has since closed four, namely
Mhangura, Alaska, Kamativi and Joyce. Three mines Sabi, Elvington and
Munyati have retrenched massively.
Worker representatives say the rate of
retrenchment has increased by approximately 45% since the early
The latest report on retrenchments in the mining sector
commissioned by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, say the demise of the
ZMDC reflects a public policy that has gone wrong. The loss of viability
arising from lack of cheap finance and the unstable macro-economic
conditions were also cited as the main causes of the
"Gross mismanagement coupled with poor corporate
governance and the inauspious economic conditions have conspired to
undermine the viability of ZMDC," reads the report.
say the number of employees in the sector has shrank to 38 000, down from an
average of 55 000 due to a combination of compulsory retrenchments and
The exodus in the sector, miners say, is reflective of the
freefalling economy, which is limping from a 314% annual inflation and hard
Well drilled mining experts among them geologists,
metallurgists, electricians, electrical and mechanical engineers are finding
ready jobs in countries far afield as New Zealand, Australia and the US
lured by better remuneration. Some are trekking into neighbouring countries
like Zambia, South Africa and Botswana.
The Chamber of Mines has
already warned the interference in the privately-run mining sector could
spell the end to the country's only remaining prosperous sector.
just adds more problems. Even the government must know that," remarks Rob
Davies, an economic consultant.
A new mining Bill meant to lay claim to
nearly half ownership of all the country's privately-owned mines, has sent
shivers down the spines of most investors and awaits approval by
The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says the
job creation sectors of the economy have been a major casualty of the ruling
Zanu PF government's emotional behaviour and political greed.
nationalisation of mines will be the last straw to break the back of the
horse," says Tapiwa Mashakada, the opposition party's shadow finance
The contribution of mining to both Gross Domestic Product
(GDP) and employment has steadily deteriorated over the period 1980 to 2002.
In 2002 the mining sector only contributed a paltry 1,4% to GDP down from
8,8% in 1980. Although the mining sector used to employ 6% of total formal
sector employment this figure has sharply declined to a measly 0,8% in
Miners say production is slowed down by the support price, which is
lagging behind operating costs creating cash flow problems for
The unending shortage of foreign currency and the inefficiency of
the gold pool facility is also disrupting production. As long as these
issues are not dealt with decisively production will decline persistently,
Zim to miss out on UK debt forgiveness By Kumbirai
ZIMBABWE, burdened with a staggering external debt, looks set to
miss out from a debt cancellation initiative being considered by the United
Kingdom government to help impoverished and reforming
Gordon Brown, the UK Chancellor of the Exchequer, last week
pledged London would write off its share of debt owed by the world's poorest
countries. Brown's initiative will free the governments of poor countries
from the debt burden and allow them to devote a higher proportion of their
budgets to education, health and economic development.
"We will pay
our share of the multilateral debt repayments of reforming low-income
countries," said Brown in a speech to 400 debt-relief and fair-trade
activists gathered at St Bartholomew's Church in Brighton, UK.
economic analysts said the six year-old frosty relationship between London
and Harare could rule out Zimbabwe from benefiting from the
President Robert Mugabe's administration is battling its
worst political and economic crisis since independence from UK in 1980 and
accuses the British government of promoting a "regime change" in Zimbabwe by
supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
international community are linking debt forgiveness to economic performance
and Zimbabwe is internationally unaccepted. So the potential lies in the
medium-to-long term and not at this moment," observes Eric Bloch, a
respected economic pundit.
Although the central bank has resumed symbolic
debt repayments to institutions such as the IMF, economists warn this will
further cripple Zimbabwe's economy and strangle funds needed for vital
Presently, Zimbabwe is weighed down by total external
debt of about US$4 billion in 2003, and which might have shot to levels
above US$6 billion. The failure to service debt is blamed on the drying up
of foreign financing.
The UK holds about 10% of the total debt owed by
Zimbabwe to the World Bank and other development banks. Besides the UK,
Zimbabwe also owes bilateral public debt to the US and several European
So bad is Zimbabwe's debt position that multilateral lenders
such as the IMF, World Bank and the International Finance Corporation (IFC)
have severed ties with Harare.
'Comfort zone' behind Zanu PF reforms Sundayopinion By
ZANU PF, by agreeing to electoral reforms, whether
democracy activists believe them to be progressive or merely cosmetic, has
reached its "comfort zone". It is confident that these electoral reforms
obviously do not pose a significant threat to its hegemony in
If anything, the electoral reforms, instead of strengthening
democratic transition in Zimbabwe, will ultimately serve to assist the
ruling party assert its legitimacy in the region, the continent and to a
greater extent, stall the international pressure put up against it. The
ruling party is so confident of itself that it probably does not view the
opposition as a serious political threat anymore. It has won all of the
parliamentary by-elections held this year and the opposition has, in return
responded with protestations that do not significantly affect the domestic
political dynamics of the country, and therefore the ruling party has
limited reason to be panicking.
This is what constitutes Zanu PF's
comfort zone; a zone that has emerged from its ability to harness not so
much political support or inactivity from other African governments, but
more from its ability to diminish, through legislation, ideological output
(in the form of resurgent nationalist patriotism) and patronage systems
sustained by food aid, Sate funds and anti-corruption crusades. Zanu PF has
also managed to stifle the opposition's ability to mobilise and continue the
struggle for democracy in Zimbabwe.
At the risk of giving the Soviet
style State embedded intellectual Tafataona Mahoso petty opportunity to take
empty pot-shots at me, Zanu PF's "comfort zone" has not been because of any
spectacular political calculation let alone the political genius of
President Robert Mugabe.
If anything, this comfort zone has emerged
largely through the inability of Zanu PF to practise political genius but
instead to consistently resort to brute force to push its weight around on
the domestic political front. At the same time, and it must be said, the
opposition has allowed itself to lull Zanu PF into a comfortable state of
political being by mixing up too many issues and strategies all accompanied
by a strong element of inconsistency thus offering Zanu PF the opportunity
to encroach on political gains made by pro-democracy activists.
intention here however is not to analyse the whereto's and wherefores of why
the opposition movement's strategies have faltered, because that would be
giving away too much to the enemy. Instead the purpose of this discussion is
to demystify Zanu PF's "comfort zone" and expose its serious vulnerabilities
and thus step up knowledge of the struggle for democracy by the people of
One of the over-reported and perhaps, difficult issues to
understand is the issue of Zanu PF's succession debate. The numerous
allegations both in public and in private that Zanu PF faces a succession
problem is to say the least, exaggerated. Even though Mugabe has promised to
retire after his term of office expires, there is ample evidence that Zanu
PF is taking it one step at a time and that the tensions do not run as deep
within the entirety of the party as they do among a number of leaders
The electoral reforms that are being proposed by Zanu PF, even
though their final and actual content will not be clear until they are
brought before parliament, indicate a party if not on the resurgence, then
at least self-assured of victory in the next parliamentary
The capitulation of Zanu PF to these reforms has not
necessarily been attributed to either the opposition or Zimbabwe civil
society. Instead they are largely attributed to the pressures that SADC
under the tutelage of South African President Thabo Mbeki and Mozambique's
President Joaquim Chissano have put on Mugabe's
However, the ease with which Zanu PF announced these
reforms is frightening to say the least. It is a sign of a very confident
political party that can afford to continually ignore the national
significance of the opposition and engage in fights about internal primary
elections as well as allow debate over who succeeds its current First
Secretary, Robert Mugabe.
The succession issue therefore becomes mere
speculation, almost idle play within a confident resurgent party. This is
the case especially now where there is no urgency within the entire
structure of the ruling party to see a transition process and even if there
was, discussion on it is dependent upon the pronouncements made, not by the
Zanu PF Central Committee let alone its annual congress, but by the
incumbent, Mugabe. This may all sound rather simplistic but there are
critical factors to be considered here.
The contestations between what is
called the old guard of the party, mainly represented by the likes of Vice
President Joseph Msika, Special Affairs Minister John Nkomo, and Members of
Parliament Kumbirai Kangai, with the latecomers, in the form of Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa, Minister of State for Information and Publicity,
Jonathan Moyo and Minister of Labour, Public Services and Social Welfare
Paul Mangwana, is more a battle for legitimacy, accruement of wealth and
Legitimacy, in the sense that the likes of Moyo seek to come
of their own in the political environment of Zanu PF, to wean themselves of
their appointed status and even in the process enhance their legitimacy with
Mugabe by becoming elected members of parliament.
wealth, in the sense that is represented by the Kondozi farm saga, as well
as the continued accusations that senior Zanu PF persons acquired more than
one farm from the chaotic land reform exercise. Seniority in the sense that
Mugabe's appointments to his cabinet of virtual unknowns has ruffled the
feathers of the old guard and therefore conflict with these "young ones" is
only but an expected consequence.
Zanu PF's comfort zone therefore begins
to derive from the abstract speculation about succession which is really all
about bump and grind politics before a parliamentary election.
other words, the succession issue must be dressed down to its bare
necessities. I do not think that Jonathan Moyo harbours, for once, the
ambition of becoming the President of Zimbabwe immediately after
He seeks to secure his own political future in the event that
Mugabe leaves office given his precarious dependence on the latter for
legitimacy in Zanu PF. This is the same for Speaker of Parliament Emmerson
Mnangagwa, who after losing an elected seat in the 2000 parliamentary
elections, has been struggling for relevance in the party.
that people in Zanu PF are such long term schemers as to project taking over
in 2008 when Mugabe retires, is highly speculative both of political events,
as well as the intelligence and vision of those people cited as potential
successors to Mugabe.
Zanu PF's pleasure with itself and its survival
strategies is seen in the utterly simplistic promises made about electoral
reforms. The issue of voting in one day as well as having transparent ballot
boxes is both token and insulting to the opposition.
It is a big
political statement of confidence and surety of a foreseen victory by Zanu
PF which hopes that the opposition, regional leaders and the international
community are naļve enough to believe this makes the elections free and
In its comfort zone, Zanu PF is attempting to simplify Zimbabwe's
ongoing struggle for democracy as being one about electoral mechanisms.
Electoral mechanisms are one thing, defining political processes are
another. Elections tend to make power seem as an end game of competing
parties and Zanu PF is comfortable with portraying the opposition as just
another player in a zero-sum game. This of course is far from the
The people of Zimbabwe are fighting for democracy, albeit with
numerous setbacks and the opposition is the vanguard in this struggle. Zanu
PF seeks to subvert the vanguard stature of the MDC and thus appropriate for
itself the eternal legacy of having led the one and only struggle in
Zimbabwe, that of independence.
There are many other issues that have
not been raised about Zanu PF's comfort zone, especially in relation to
Minister of Local Government Ignatious Chombo's arrogance in dealing with
local councils. This may be the subject of another discussion.
intention here has been to indicate how the electoral reforms being proposed
and most likely to be implemented by Zanu PF are the symptoms of a party in
a comfort zone, a party that is sure of itself and confident of a victory in
next year's parliamentary elections.
South African President Mbeki and
Mozambique's Chissano have never had influence over the Zanu PF regime to
argue that Zanu PF is capitulating to regional pressure. The opposite could
possibly be true, regional pressure is capitulating to Zanu PF and the
latter's confidence oozes as it easily concedes to reforms that it knows
will not result in its being voted out of power.
Pius Wakatama was
unable to write his column this week due to cricumstances beyond his