10/6/2005 9:31:02 AM (GMT +2)
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor, Gideon Gono's exasperated
undertones over the continued mayhem wrought by Zimbabwe's scandal-tainted
agrarian reforms - ironically meant to uncork the economy's undoubted
immense growth potential - is understandable.
The governor pulled no punches last week when he called those invading
farms criminals. And deservedly so. Given the gravity of the implications of
the latest round of farm invasions, Gono was never to be at a loss for
words, which are both opprobrious and apt in expressing his distaste and
And it is not difficult to see why. The fresh wave of wildcat farm
seizures reported in a number of provinces come at a particularly irksome
moment for the country which is desperate to bury its reputation of
lawlessness and repackage itself as a safe and attractive investment
Zimbabwe is widely seen as a pariah state. It urgently needs to
restore the rule of law, improve on its human rights record, political
intolerance, confrontation and hatred for compromise, among others, to lure
foreign investors in the face of an unprecedented economic meltdown, rising
unemployment and abject poverty affecting well over 70 percent of the
These are the very issues that saw the country being reduced to its
current position of a pariah state. Predictably, government has protested
this as unjustified hostility and contemptuous ostracism based on wrong
perceptions. But if we might ask a purely rhetorical question, isn't
perception reality? And unfortunately, coming immediately after government
had indicated that the controversial land reform had been concluded, the
latest seizures not only give the lie to official claims that land reform
was a well-planned exercise but also expose it as a typical case where the
disposal of time was surrendered merely to the chances of incident. Hence
What is worse though is that the latest land grab orgy will neither
help the country shed its rogue state stigma nor change the negative
investor perception. Suffice to say that it is a red flag which will not be
ignored by investors, most of whom will not want to touch Zimbabwe even with
a barge pole. And need we belabour the fact that, given the fragile state of
the economy, this is something that Zimbabwe needs as much as its citizens
need holes in their heads.
Of course the official line has predictably been that land reform has
been successful. But the exercise, ostensibly meant to reduce poverty and
inequality has slipped on so many banana skins, mirrored through the
faltering economy and the country's failure to feed itself, droughts not
withstanding. And it is pertinent to point out that most of the woes
besetting agriculture should be blamed on government mistakes, lack of
foresight and its inability to expeditiously deal with critical and
sensitive issues that have a bearing on national interests. This also
explains why the land grabbers have defied government by continuing to seize
farms when the official position is that the land acquisition exercise is
That the minister responsible for land reform and resettlement,
Didymus Mutasa is, at this eleventh hour, still threatening to deal with
multiple farm owners - whom he admitted are mostly influential politicians -
speaks volumes about the lack of commitment and seriousness on the part of
government to decisively deal with some of the issues that are negatively
affecting progress in agriculture. The flagrant violation of the
government's stated one-man-one-farm policy borders on criminality. It is
corruption by any definition. Merely threatening to jail these self-centred
multiple farm owners, when their prosecution has been long overdue, is
therefore nothing but tragic failure on the part of the government. Why take
this long to deal with the mess after all those land audits whose findings
were swept under the thick, endless, woven carpet of political expediency?
Not surprisingly, government keeps on reminding all and sundry that
when it finally deals with the deplorable multiple farm ownership, it would
do so without fear or favour and without regard to the stature and status of
the culprits. Blessed are the believers! The truth of the matter is, as
already noted in our previous editorials, that there are red lines the
government will not dare cross for political convenience.
It goes without saying that multiple farm owners are taking comfort in
the knowledge that despite hollow pledges to take the "clean up" of the land
reform programme to its full expression, government will not act. This is
why they have continued to defy the government with impunity. The culprits
know that the powers-that-be are either blinded or intimidated by their
prominence, wealth or power at the expense of the common people who bore the
brunt of the liberation struggle - the very people whose rights or interests
no one remembers when a system crumbles.
And it is not far fetched to say that it is the same multiple farm
owners, who have exhibited a shocking level of greed, that have precipitated
and indeed sponsored the latest farm invasions. They have nothing to fear
because they are used to government revving its engine without moving into a
higher gear. If only government had not treated multiple farm owners with
kid gloves and instead made an example of them, then the latest farm
invasions would not have happened.
Zim Online (SA)
But Gowora’s husband could not produce the official letter from the
government offering the farm to his wife to prove his claims
Harare - The husband of Zimbabwe High Court Judge Annie-Marie Gowora on
Wednesday claimed that he was acting on behalf of his wife when he forced
white farmer, Peter Benjamin Purcell-Gilpin, off his Nyamera farm in Makoni
in Manicaland province. In an opposing affidavit submitted to Justice Barat
Patel in his chambers, the husband, identified only as S. Gowora, said that
the prime farm was allocated to his judge wife by the government under its
controversial land redistribution programme. But Gowora’s husband could not
produce the official letter from the government offering the farm to his
wife to prove his claims. Until yesterday the Judge’s husband, who seized
Nyamera farm allegedly with help of Justice and Agriculture Ministers
Patrick Chinamasa and Joseph Made respectively had been cited as the
beneficiary of the farm that is also know as Helensvale farm. Purcell-Gilpin
told Zim Online after the hearing in chambers: "We were told yesterday that
we incorrectly cited the husband because he is not the beneficiary. It would
appear the farm was offered to the Judge (Annie-Marie Gowora). We were not
aware of this as no offer letter had been shown to us at this stage."
The white farmer said he had also been told by Patel to approach the
Ministry of Lands to negotiate to be given a “small portion” of his prime
farm. Patel postponed the matter to next Wednesday to allow himself time to
cross-check with his fellow Judge Gowora whether she indeed had a letter
from the government offering her the farm as claimed by her husband. State
Security Didymus Mutasa, who is also in charge of land redistribution,
refused to discuss the matter when contacted by Zim Online to confirm
whether he had at one time issued a letter to Justice Gowora offering her
the farm. But sources at Mutasa’s department said he was adamant that he had
not offered the farm to the Judge. Under the government’s Land Acquisition
Act, blacks allocated land seized from whites are given official letters
stating which specific farms they have been allocated. "Mutasa said he had
not signed any offer letter for Gowora and has demanded to see the one the
Judge’s husband claims his wife was given by the government,” said a source,
who did not want to be named.
Gowora, who told Purcell-Gilpin that he would never get his farm back even
if he went to court, grabbed the farm together with produce that was ready
for marketing, as well as equipment valued at several billions of dollars.
He has also hired a private security firm to keep guard at the farm and
ensure Purcell-Gilpin is prevented from entering the property. Gowora has
also barred farm workers from carrying out their duties and is at one time
said to have ordered that sheep at the farm be confined to their pens
without access to water or food. The sheep were released from the pens by
the police. Purcell-Gilpin claims in his court papers that he was barred by
Gowora from preparing an inventory of equipment and farm improvements for
which he could claim compensation from the state. A new constitutional
amendment signed into law by President Robert Mugabe last month bars courts
from hearing appeals by white farmers whose land is seized by the state. But
the new law requires the government to pay compensation for improvements
such as dams, roads and houses constructed on seized farms. It also requires
the state to pay for farm equipment. More than 4 000 white farmers have been
expelled from their land by the government and its supporters under a
chaotic and often violent land reform programme that critics say
destabilised the agricultural sector causing a massive drop in food
production. Zimbabwe has grappled severe food shortages since the farm
seizures began five years ago.
10/6/2005 9:02:11 AM (GMT +2)
BAFFOUR Ankomah, the Ghanaian editor of United Kingdom-based New
African magazine, has made startling revelations that Zimbabwean security
agencies triggered the widely condemned Operation Murambatsvina/Restore
Order as a pre-emptive move against a groundswell of public anger targeted
Ankomah, a strident defender of President Robert Mugabe who has the
ear of officials at the highest levels of government, all but confirmed
fears that the crackdown on slums and informal vending sites, which was
launched in May, was driven by a sinister motive.
The United Nations has condemned the crackdown on slums, saying it was
a disastrous venture carried out with indifference to human suffering. A UN
report compiled by secretary-general Kofi Annan's special envoy on human
settlement issues, Anna Kajimulo Tibaijuka, estimated that as many as 700
000 people were rendered homeless and left without incomes, while about 2.4
million were indirectly affected by the operation.
The authorities in Harare have, however, rejected the stinging
criticism, protesting that the operation was carried out to root out
Ankomah was in the country recently as part of a delegation of
journalists assessing Murambatsvina's hastily arranged successor
"programme", Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle.
"New African can now reveal that the operation was the brainchild of
Zimbabwe's intelligence community, which felt it had to move quickly to nip
in the bud a Ukrainian-style revolution (or street protests) then being
planned in Zimbabwe and funded by the same Western countries who paid for
Ukraine's so-called "orange revolution," Ankomah wrote in an article, which
was curiously reproduced by the state-controlled Herald this week.
He added that a tense post-election period following the disputed
March 31 parliamentary poll had ensured that conditions were ripe conditions
for an insurrection.
"Somehow, Zimbabwe's Central Intelligence Organi-sation, one of the
best spy agencies on the continent (if not the world) got wind of the
impending operation - and they must have panicked; because they chose to
deal with it in a most unusual way - nip the danger in the bud by dispersing
the slum dwellers via the demolition of their habitats.
"The security agency quickly got hold of the President, showed him the
evidence of the anger and sold him the hasty solution. With the experience
of Ukraine fresh in everybody's mind, Operation Restore Order was given
wings, without going through the normal route of Cabinet discussion and
approval. As a result, many Cabinet ministers and key government officials
who would have normally been privy to such an operation were kept in the
dark. Some, in fact, heard about it a day after it had begun," Ankomah
Ankomah, who said the Zimbabwean government, had scored some
"spectacular own goals", also revealed how government ministers and senior
officials admitted, in private, that the operation could have been carried
"They say the security services were allowed too much latitude to run
the operation, and as security people, they focused too much on diffusing
the danger and less on the consequences."
The revelations in the New African magazine, which has been steadfast
in its defence of President Mugabe's troubled rule, is as surprising as the
Herald's decision to reproduce an article that runs contrary to the official
mantra that Operation Muramba-tsvina/Restore Order was a well planned
exercise carried out with the public's best interests in focus.
10/6/2005 8:59:47 AM (GMT +2)
Young Turks livid at being ruled out
AS the jostling for the right to represent ZANU PF in the senatorial
elections intensifies, cracks are widening within the ruling party amid
revelations that the politburo wants to give the old guard the exclusive
right to represent the ruling party in the polls.
ZANU PF insiders told The Financial Gazette yesterday that while there
was fierce jockeying as aspiring senators went around their respective
constituencies canvassing support to win the right to represent the ruling
party, indications were that politburo, central committee and consultative
assembly members not already in parliament would be given priority in the
selection of candidates to represent the party.
In what is perhaps the most decisive rupture with tradition, the ZANU
PF politburo has ruled out the holding of primaries to select candidates to
represent the ruling party but will instead choose candidates "by
However, the party insiders said the forthcoming senatorial elections
had the potential to further drive a wedge within the faction-riddled party,
with so-called Young Turks unhappy over the selection criteria.
The ruling party has laid rules and guidelines for the selection of
candidates to represent it in the polls to be held before the end of
ZANU PF used its controversial majority in Parliament to amend the
country's constitution for the 17th time since independence from Britain in
1980 to allow for the re-establishment of an Upper House for which the
senatorial elections are to be held.
Only party cadres over the age of 40 years will be allowed to
represent the party after a vigorous vetting exercise and those suspended
for one crime or another are barred, a rule that leaves the six provincial
chairmen suspended after the Tsholotsho debacle in the cold.
Party insiders said yesterday so sharp were differences within ZANU PF
that in some areas like Makonde as many as 16 cadres were vying to represent
the ruling party. There is a general consensus among ZANU PF Young Turks
that President Mugabe, the party's first secretary, and his politburo
intended packing the Senate with the old guard and other loyalists. This is
also the view held by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
which has also been divided on whether it should participate in the
senatorial polls or not.
"The politburo has made a decision to allow its members and those of
the central committee and consultative assembly to stand," said a ZANU PF
"The idea is to put the old guard in the politburo, the central
committee and the consultative assembly in the senate. The senate is a
pension for loyalists. They will just sit there in the Upper House drawing
perks as a thank you gesture from the party," added the same source,
"They are not looking at a popular candidate but a candidate wanted by
the politburo. The Young Turks have no chance because the Upper House has
been created for seatless members of the politburo, central committee and
the consultative assembly," added another senior ZANU PF official.
"We are going to see one of the poorest campaigns in the history of
ZANU PF because some of these people they want in the senate are too old and
are not financially independent. Campaigning is gruelling and most of these
people are too old and cannot measure up to the candidates in the MDC if the
opposition party decides to enter the race," said another female member of
ZANU PF, who stated it was clear President Mugabe wanted the senate to
accommodate old political friends at the end of their political careers.
However, according to Elliot Manyika, the ZANU PF national political
commissar, in the absence of primary elections, candidates would be elected
through consensus at district and provincial levels before their names are
submitted to the national elections directorate.
The presidium, as in all elections in ZANU PF, would have the final
say in the selection of party cadres to represent the party in the
senatorial elections, whose actual date is yet to be announced.
10/6/2005 9:05:42 AM (GMT +2)
THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) has asked Zimbabwe to push back
the launch of the Infrastructure Development Bank of Zimbabwe (IDBZ), but
the fund has offered an upbeat review of the broader banking sector after
the crisis of last year while condemning new legislation weakening the
central bank's supervisory powers.
The bank has already been launched, with officials hoping it would
revive Zimbabwe's decaying infrastructure. But IMF directors say the IDBZ
must not open until further assessment, suggesting the bank could pile
further debt on government and worsen monetary-fiscal policy overlap. "They
urged the authorities to delay the operation of the Infrastructure
Development Bank of Zimbabwe pending further review, given the risk of new
quasi-fiscal activity and potential contingent public liabilities," the IMF
The central bank must remain empowered to take timely action to
address identified weak institutions, the IMF said, criticising the recent
amendment to the Banking Act requiring the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to
consult with the Minister of Finance before granting or withdrawing banking
But there is good news for the financial sector, rocked by a crisis
"Despite the turmoil in 2004 from the collapse of a number of
insolvent institutions, the stability of the banking system was not
threatened. With the exit of weak institutions, the sector is now largely
populated by banks with high capital adequacy ratios, little foreign
exchange risk, and very short-term maturities for both assets and
liabilities to cope with fluctuating interest rates."
10/6/2005 9:00:58 AM (GMT +2)
ZIMBABWE faces economic ruin due to increased government spending, bad
governance and the effects of Operation Murambatsvina, the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) has said in a grim assessment of the state of the
The IMF sees the Zimbabwean economy shrinking by 7 percent this year
and inflation rising to over 400 percent by December, way above official
forecasts. The rate of inflation currently stands at 265.1 percent.
Unless the country immediately takes a "bold change in policy
direction", the economy faces further deterioration in the near term, the
IMF said in a scorching annual economic report on Zimbabwe released on
Zimbabwe had managed to slow the decline last year, but rising
inflation, more acute foreign currency shortages and sluggish agricultural
output have combined to speed up the pace of decline in 2005, the fund said.
The IMF report makes a bold statement that is likely to anger the
government, by pointing to bad governance as being at the base of the
economic crisis. The fund is also pressing for broad market and civil
service reforms and an end to the managed exchange rate, an earlier demand
already rejected by government.
"Exchange controls on current payments and all surrender requirements
should be eliminated, and the determination of the exchange rate left to the
market in conjunction with establishment of a strong, credible monetary
There is a significant risk that unless strong macroeconomic policies
are implemented now, economic conditions will deteriorate even further, IMF
directors say, proposing "urgent implementation of a comprehensive package
comprising several mutually reinforcing actions". Decisive fiscal adjustment
is crucial in the short term, with fiscal tightening required in the 2006
budget, they say.
"These (reforms) should include: strong fiscal adjustment; full
liberalisation of the exchange rate regime; adoption of a strong monetary
anchor; elimination of all quasi-fiscal activity by the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) and the absorption of RBZ losses by the budget; and
fundamental structural reform, including improvements in governance."
Because of high state spending, the fiscal deficit would widen to 11.5
percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2005 from 4.7 percent last
year, the IMF said, urging government to slim its deficits to 5 percent.
The IMF said Operation Murambatsvina, condemned by a United Nations
special envoy as a disastrous venture that left 700 000 poor people
homeless, would contribute to the decline.
"The substantial humanitarian and economic consequences of 'Operation
Restore Order' pose further downside risks to the outlook. Without a bold
change in policy direction, the economic outlook will remain bleak, with
particularly detrimental effects on the poorest segments of the population."
Murambatsvina, the IMF said, had damaged the informal market, slashed
incomes and caused a spike in prices. According to a 2002 World Bank report,
the informal market contributes 60 percent to GDP.
The government disputes the IMF team's dour forecasts on a range of
economic indicators. Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa has forecast negative
growth of only 2 percent, a downgrade from earlier predictions of positive
growth of 3.5 percent to 5 percent.
The government also disagreed with the IMF on inflation, and told the
fund that "in comparison to the (624 percent) peak in early 2004, inflation
had declined considerably by mid-2005 on account of (government's) policies
to turn around the economy."
Money supply growth remains a key worry, the report says. "The high
rates of money growth that have fuelled the triple-digit inflation were
mainly due to the sharp increase in the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's (RBZ)
quasi-fiscal activities during 2004 and first half of 2005 that have
resulted in mounting losses on its balance sheet. Some of these quasi-fiscal
activities have recently been reduced or discontinued."
10/6/2005 9:10:41 AM (GMT +2)
"OCTOBER," the famous author Mark Twain once said, "this is one of the
peculiarly dangerous months to speculate in stocks. The others are July,
January, September, April, November, May, March, June, December, August, and
But for Zimbabwean investors, October marks the start of a final
quarter they expect to end with the economy in deeper crisis - judging by
their mad rush for the shelter of currency hedge counters.
Analysts say by crowding into currency hedge shares, investors are
sending out their forecasts for the remainder of the year; a steeper plunge
for the Zimbabwe dollar and a stronger surge in inflation.
Stock markets worldwide are seen as barometers of business sentiment.
Convention is that they rise when investors are upbeat about the future of
business, and fall when confidence wanes. But in Zimbabwe's warped
investment system, the current bull-run is in fact a run for cover from a
President Robert Mugabe told supporters last Friday to face the pain
for a short while longer, promising to deliver prosperity soon. But few
share his optimism, and many shudder at the thought of where the economy
will stand when the year ends.
The government has thrown in its lot with traditional spirit mediums,
hoping all-night rituals will deliver some miraculous recovery by dawn.
"As the stock market is showing us, the last quarter is about foreign
currency and speculation - a lot more than what we have ever seen," one
analyst said at the weekend. "One wonders what kind of economy we will be
running by Christmas."
Top brokers Interfin Securities are forecasting inflation to end the
year at 512 percent, after rising to 380 percent in September, 445 percent
at the end of this month and 467 percent in November.
Other predictions are coming in much higher, with one economist, who
declined to be named, saying he expects inflation to hit 600 percent by
December, fanned mostly by a faster decline in the value of the Zimbabwe
dollar on the parallel market.
"The vast majority of companies are sourcing forex on the parallel
market. I don't think that, unlike in previous years, we will see the dollar
being supported by inflows from visiting non-residents. The deficit they
must have to cover just to stabilise matters will be too big because import
demand, especially for fuel, will keep rising," the economist said. He
"conservatively" expects the dollar to touch lows of $150 000 against the
yardstick US greenback.
The declining value of the Zimdollar will continue to bleed into
inflation, as industries try to offset high production costs and interest
rates by aggressive pricing.
Reformists in government are hoping that this quarter will see them
being allowed to wring some form of economic changes, hoping to speed up
those reforms next year ahead of a March International Monetary Fund (IMF)
review of the country's membership. But the senate election next month is
likely to raise temperatures and delay any reform attempts.
The IMF, giving Zimba-bwe yet another chance to reform last month,
warned that there was "a significant risk that unless strong macroeconomic
policies are undertaken without delay, economic and social conditions could
Executives of most listed firms have, with their interim profit
reports, predicted that the remainder of the year will see faster decline in
economic activity, marked by high interest rates and rising costs of
10/6/2005 9:11:20 AM (GMT +2)
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) yesterday announced the restructure
of its key organs, in a move governor Gideon Gono said was targeted at
repositioning the central bank in the execution of its mandate.
While the new organogram retains three deputy governors responsible
for the broad areas of the financial markets and the national payments
system; bank licencing, supervision and surveillance; as well as economic
research and policy enhancement - Edward Mashiri-ngwani, Charity Dhli-wayo
and Nicholas Ncube respectively - it expands and refocuses existing
Gono said the re-aligned structure was "crafted around the following
key principles: The need to elevate the prominence of monetary targeting as
a tool to fight inflation, the need for a focused strategy in supporting the
productive sectors of the economy, particularly agriculture, as the mainstay
of the country's economy, to enhance coordination among the bank's main
operating units, and with external stakeholders in government, the private
sector, civic society and the international community."
He added that the re-alignment process would ensure that the central
bank actively pursued six core deliverables - inflation reduction, foreign
exchange mobilisation, financial sector stability, maintaining a stable
national payments system, representation of the country on regional and
international fora and institutional stability.
At last! Bravo to Kofi Annan for launching a US$30 million humanitarian
assistance fund for the victims of Operation Murambatsvina. In doing so he
has effectively waived the customary procedural niceties of waiting for the
host country to make a formal request for assistance before the UN will act.
It is plain for everyone to see that Zimbabwe is facing a humanitarian
catastrophe of enormous proportions. Hundreds of thousands of families are
sleeping under the stars with no food, sanitation or running water - as a
direct result of government action that can at best be described as insane.
The international community has sat impotently on the sidelines for far too
long, watching this madness unfold. We applaud this unprecedented action by
the UN. Any misgivings about having dispensed with protocol in this manner
should be dispelled by the sure knowledge that, as long as they manage to
see the programme through to actual distribution of the aid, they will have
saved untold misery and thousands of lives.
What now remains, however, is to see it through. Mugabe has a history of
hijacking food aid to serve his own diabolical ends - feeding only those who
can prove to be loyal party supporters. He has demonstrated that he has no
scruples whatsoever about taking the food out of the very mouths of starving
children in order to punish their parents for any perceived support for the
opposition, or to extend his system of patronage in a particular area.
Mugabe cannot be trusted. Neither can his henchmen - the chiefs - whom he is
now saying should be responsible for the distribution of food aid. The
chiefs have always unconditionally supported the government of the day, even
when that government was a white minority oppressive regime.
Under Mugabe's rule they have been given huge salary increases and
wide-reaching powers. Many have banned the opposition MDC from operating in
their areas. They are closely guarded by fanatical green bombers to ensure
that they toe the party line. In our view they have completely disqualified
themselves from fulfilling any apolitical role whatsoever.
If the UN is now serious about helping the people of Zimbabwe they must
ensure that any aid is distributed by their own international agencies,
together with institutions such as the Red Cross and World Vision, and local
churches if necessary. Under no circumstances whatsoever should the
government of Zimbabwe be allowed to control the distribution or to prevent
it from entering the country.
We hope that the international community will respond rapidly and generously
to the secretary general's appeal. There is no time to spare. Neither is
US$30 million enough. The extent of the damage done and the human misery on
the ground in Zimbabwe has not been properly comprehended. Brave news crews
sneak in now and then and citizen reporters do their best - but they cannot
hope to show the world the full scope of the horror. Entire communities have
been devastated. Livelihoods have been demolished.
People have already started dying of hunger - both in the rural areas and in
the cities. This is no time for politicking. Kofi Annan - Zimbabwe looks to
you in her hour of need.
Email: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org
>From The Times (UK), 4 October
Fury as Mugabe uses UN food talks to defend seizure of land
By Richard Beeston, Diplomatic Editor
President Mugabe provoked outrage yesterday when he hosted a UN conference
on "food safety" in Africa and used the occasion to defend his policy of
land seizure. Speaking before 170 representatives from 47 African
countries, the President of Zimbabwe blamed African food shortages on
droughts and "weak food safety control systems". He also accused the West
of dumping genetically modified crops on the developing world. But he
defended his policy of confiscating about 5,000 white-owned farms, which
many blame for the collapse of his country's agricultural sector. Mr Mugabe
said: "Zimbabwe's much-vilified land reform programme is our response to
the challenge of empowering more of our people, and therefore creating a
wider base of farmers in the country. In our fight for freedom and
independence one of the pillars of the struggle was land grievance - land,
land, land, which means food, food, food to the people." Although Zimbabwe
once exported food, about four million people now rely on food aid to
survive. The opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) condemned two
UN agencies, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the World
Health Organisation (WHO), for giving Mr Mugabe such a high-profile
platform. The Zimbabwean leader and senior members of his ruling Zanu PF
party are banned from travelling to America and the European Union after
they were accused of using violence to win re-election. Zimbabwe was also
forced out of the Commonwealth. Renson Gasela, the MDC spokesman on
agriculture, said: "In Zimbabwe, he (Mugabe) has destroyed food security
and he is not qualified to speak about it - millions go to bed hungry every
night. I do not know what food security he could talk about." The FAO said
that Zimbabwe had offered to host the conference and that African nations
had accepted. Tom Cargill, the Africa programme manager at the Royal
Institute of International Affairs, said: "In Africa he is still seen very
much as the leader of a liberation movement that took over from racist rule
in the 1970s. There is a huge amount of support, not necessarily for the
policies he is pursuing but for his stand against the West." The UN
reported this year that about 700,000 urban slum-dwellers had been driven
out of their makeshift homes in a two-month operation.
>From The Daily Mirror, 5 October
Zim does not need food aid: official
Zimbabwe requires only 300 000 metric tonnes of maize to feed families
affected by drought until the next harvest and does not need to appeal for
international food aid, a government official said yesterday. The Director
of Social Welfare in the Ministry of Public Service, Labour and Social
Welfare, Sydney Mhishi, said this while presenting oral evidence before the
Parliamentary Committee on Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare on the
drought relief and humanitarian assistance programmes. He said the maize
deficit could be met through imports. "Total shortage of maize amounts to
220 000 metric tonnes, roughly 300 000 for distribution to families free of
charge," he said. "An appeal means you declare a state of disaster. The
magnitude of the food insecure households was such that there was no need
for an international appeal." The 300 000 metric tonnes would meet the
requirements for families that had no capacity to buy the maize regardless
of its availability in the shops, he said. He dismissed allegations that
the government had rejected aid, saying other organisations, mainly
non-governmental organisations such as Christian Care, continued with their
normal intervention programmes. The World Food Programme had pledged to
provide 300 000 metric tonnes of maize, he said, and was soon to sign a
memorandum of understanding with the government.
Mhishi said the majority of the people were able to buy food on their own,
again invalidating the need for an international appeal. An inter-sectoral
committee that included the government and the private sector did
calculations on household vulnerability, he said. Of the funds allocated to
the ministry in the supplementary budget, he said they had since applied
for $50 billion for drought relief programmes from the Ministry of Finance.
At the peak of the drought, an estimated 690 000 households required food
assistance. The country has an annual requirement of 1,8 million metric
tonnes of maize. Meanwhile, ministry officials told the committee that they
faced major logistical problems in the procurement and distribution of
relief aid to all districts. Shortage of manpower also presented a
challenge, they said. "We have vacancies in almost half of our
establishment," said permanent secretary, Lancaster Museka. Zaka West MP
Mabel Mawere chairs the parliamentary committee.
BIRMINGHAM - The people of Zimbabwe should not be exposed to the danger of
running an election to an institution whose existence has been opposed by
the opposition MDC, says the party's Birmingham Branch. And MDC legislators
should refuse to be part of the gravy-train.
"Our people have already been subjected to torture and intimidation. The
state security apparatus and the green bombers are just waiting to find who
is going to be campaigning for the MDC," said spokesman Makusha Mugabe this
"And the fact that there will be so few candidates around the country also
means the green bombers and security agents will be able to concentrate on
those few constituencies."
He said the budget for the senate elections and the allowances paid to
senators would run into trillions of dollars annually, and would be
'squeezed from an already suffering povo'.
BY A CORRESPONDENT
HARARE - The state-run media has found an interesting combination of
scapegoats for the country's dire food situation - unless the authorities
are being quoted as saying everything is fine. The food problems is the
fault of businesses "linked" to dispossessed white farmers and/or of black
farmers settled on the seized land and not using it properly.
Zimbabwe's media watchdog in its report covering September 19-25 quoted ZBH
stations, for example, which had previously acknowledged an insecure food
situation, as projecting the regime has having taken great strides to
rectify the problem.
"However, none of the stories matched the authorities' rhetoric on the
matter with facts on the ground," Media Monitoring Project Zimbabwe (MMPZ)
said in its weekly report. "In fact, nearly all 70 stories ZBH carried on
Zimbabwe's food and agricultural problems diverted attention from government's
poor management of the sector by blaming it on other factors."
The MMPZ cited ZTV as saying that agro-based business "linked" to white
ex-farmers had scaled down production of agricultural inputs in protest at
losing their farms, while some millers were "sabotaging the government's
effort to feed the nation." ZTV, Power FM and The Herald all turned on the
new black farmers, too, quoting Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono saying
their inability to maximise maize yields as compared to Chinese and South
African farmers was "criminal."
Amid this general chorus exonerating the regime from blame for the food
shortages (should there be any), the private media gave a more informed
analysis. "Almost all the stories attributed the problems to government's
chaotic land reforms and skewed macro-economic policies, as well as its
continued denial of the existence of a humanitarian crisis in the country,"
said the MMPZ.
The state-run media also censored news of the latest violent farm invasions
in Chipinge and Nyazura, including a raid led by an official from the
Zimbabwe Embassy in London with 12 police officers in tow. The Standard
reported the invasions, as did Studio 7 and The Daily Mirror. But only The
Standard linked them to National Security Minister Didymus Mutasa having
said the few remaining white farmers were filth and should be cleared out.
"The failure by the government media to report these disturbing new
developments buttress arguments that they complicit in these incidents of
violence, racial bigotry and incitement precisely because they have allowed
government officials to break the law with impunity," said the report.
"This grave dereliction of duty by the public media reinforces demands for
the establishment of alternative mass media free from government control to
record accurately the realities of Zimbabwean society."
Robert Mugabe's total disdain for his hungry people was underlined by an
interview he gave denying Zimbabweans faced starvation, saying they were
"very happy" and could eat potatoes and rice instead of maize.
The Independent columnist Muckraker observed that at a stroke Mugabe managed
to combine the crudely insensitive let-them-eat-cake if there is no bread
comments of France's Marie Antoinette with boasts by the last white prime
minister Ian Smith of having "the happiest Africans on the continent."
BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
HARARE - After weeks of denials, the Central Intelligence Organisation
(CIO), has now asserted its authority and squeezed out the Mirror Group's
CEO and editor-in-chief Ibbo Mandaza who founded the company in late 1997.
The CIO, with a shareholding of 70% in the newspaper group, has exercised
its right to buy up Mandaza's remaining 30% by the end of this year.
Until the Independent broke the story of the CIO's involvement in the Mirror
group, the spy agency had been content to lie low as a sleeping partner and
allow Mandaza to continue running the show. The façade cracked however, when
CIO officials deep throated to the Independent the details concerning the
spy agency's clandestine involvement in the so-called independent Daily and
Sunday Mirror newspapers.
Once their cover had been blown they came out of the woodwork and exerted
their authority as the owners of paper and ordered a forensic audit by Ernst
and Young which is believed to have uncovered alleged diversion by Mandaza
of some Z$10 billion.
Mandaza maintains that the report was just a draft and it never mentioned
any misappropriation of funds. This battle is just another instance of the
now rampant in-fighting within the ruling party, as various factions vie for
position as Mugabe's reign of terror turns inwards.
The CIO, under Didymus Mutasa, appears to be flexing its political muscle
and trying to increase its influence within the ruling party. Apart from the
Mirror, they have also recently acquired The Financial Gazette - a formerly
independent business weekly. They have also turned their attention to the
party's weekly mouthpiece The Voice, where various factions are vying for
BY OWN CORRESPONDENT
HARARE - In the logic-defying double-speak to which Zimbabweans have become
accustomed, President Robert Mugabe this week blamed international agencies
for Africa's food shortages.
In what can best be described as a caricature of the well-known Zimbabwean
blame-dodging phrase "I am not the one" Mugabe somewhat incoherently told a
joint regional Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Health
Organisation (WHO) conference on food safety for Africa that food relief
agencies had retarded the continent's agricultural development.
Officially opening the two-day conference in Harare, Mugabe said African
governments had neglected agricultural development and ignored the need for
food self-sufficiency because of the readily-available food handouts from
groups such as FAO.
"Food aid gestures, have to a large extent, crippled the commitment and
seriousness that should attend agricultural development on the continent,"
His government's violent and corrupt land reform programme, underway since
2000, has crippled the country's economy and reduced it to a dust bowl. Half
the population remaining after 25% have fled the country require more than
more than a million tonnes of food aid this season.
The conference is being attended by agriculture ministers from Zimbabwe,
Kenya, South Africa, Zambia, Mozambique, Gabon, Angola and the Democratic
Republic of the Congo. Mugabe told them that weak food safety control
systems coupled with unpredictable droughts were also behind perennial food
shortages in the region.
In another leap of utterly incomprehensible 'logic' Mugabe said his chaotic
land reform programme was in fact the country's solution to food shortages.
Overall agricultural production fell by about 30 percent while food
production dropped by a massive 60 percent after Mugabe expelled more than 4
000 large-scale commercial farmers and gave over their farms to ruling party
bigwigs and cronies.
Farm output dropped because Mugabe - who says land seizures were necessary
to correct an unjust colonial land tenure system that reserved 75 percent of
the best arable land for whites while blacks were cramped on unfertile
soils - did not give black villagers settled on former white farms inputs
support or skills training to enable them to maintain production.
Zimbabwe, a net food exporter before Mugabe began his farm seizure programme
in 2000, has avoided starvation for the past five years only because of food
aid from international relief agencies.
But the Zimbabwean leader told the conference his "much vilified land reform
programme", was meant to create more farmers and increase agricultural
He said: "Its objective was to redress the fact of colonial injustice,
empower the majority, and proceed to improve agricultural sector performance
by increasing the numbers of our farmers."
Fri 7 October 2005
HARARE - Zimbabwe human rights lawyers on Thursday challenged in the
courts the fresh eviction of about 400 people from their makeshift shelters
set up after their homes were destroyed in a controversial clean-up campaign
three months ago.
The 400 set up new shacks in the poor suburb of Mbare in Harare after
their backyard homes were destroyed by the government arguing that they had
nowhere to go.
But last weekend, the government began a fresh campaign codenamed
Operation Hatidzokere Shure (Operation No Going Back) to destroy the new
shacks, leading to the human rights group stepping in to stop the fresh
Zvikomborero Chadambuka of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights told
the Press on Thursday: "These are people who have nowhere to go and the
police have not told them where to go. We have filed this morning (Thursday)
for an interdict from the High Court to stop these evictions."
According to a United Nations report compiled by special envoy Anna
Tibaijuka, at least 700 000 people were made homeless after the government
destroyed houses and backyard shacks in a campaign President Robert Mugabe
said was necessary to restore the beauty of cities and towns.
Another 2.4 million people were also directly affected by the
controversial campaign, according to the UN report.
The United States, Britain and other major Western governments also
criticised the clean-up operation which they said was a violation of the
rights of the poor.
But Mugabe fiercely defended the demolitions accusing opponents of the
clean-up programme of "romanticising squalor". - ZimOnline
Fri 7 October 2005
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba this
week told senior journalists at the state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Holdings (ZBH) to shape up or risk dismissal from the public broadcaster
that is a critical component of the government's propaganda machine.
Sources told ZimOnline yesterday that Charamba, who is permanent
secretary for the Ministry of Information and Publicity, on Tuesday summoned
editors and their senior reporters to his office at Munhumutapa Building
that also houses Mugabe's offices.
Charamba told the staffers all from Newsnet, ZBH's news and current
affairs arm, that the government was not happy with the quality of news
produced by the organisation's reporters and demanded that they improve the
quality of their productions or risk the chop.
"He was particularly unhappy about the quality of news broadcasts
where he felt prominence was being given to certain individuals who he said
had nothing positive to contribute to the development of the country," said
a source who attended the meeting.
Charamba's meeting with the ZBH journalists comes a month after he
stormed the state broadcaster's Pockets Hill studio to complain about a news
report on Mugabe that he said was wrongly focused.
The President's spokesman said he had to drive to ZBH after several
calls even on the broadcaster's news hotline went unanswered reportedly
because both journalists and telephone receptionists were too busy on their
private errands to attend to Charamba's calls.
No comment about the Tuesday meeting could be obtained from both
Charamba and Newsnet chief executive Chris Chivinge.
The Information Ministry strictly controls news coverage by both ZBH
and several government-controlled newspapers with some journalists who work
for the organisations privately claiming that certain stories have to be
approved by the ministry before they can be aired or published by state
papers. - ZimOnline
10/6/2005 8:54:52 AM (GMT +2)
SO why are some people easily forgiven while others are condemned
right to their graves?
In 1963 veteran nationalist Joshua Nkomo "differed with the party in a
major way", differences that later led to serious armed clashes between
ZANLA and ZIPRA forces throughout the war of liberation. In 1980 and 1985 he
contested the elections under the banner of PF ZAPU. After that, according
to ZANU PF history records, Nkomo "masterminded" a failed uprising that
resulted in the death of more than 20 000 people. Yet today the same Nkomo
and his wife Joanna lie buried at the National Heroes Acre.
There were media reports last week to the effect that screwball
political spent-force Edgar Tekere is on his way into the re-introduced
Senate through a ZANU PF ticket. But in 1988 the same Tekere "differed with
the party in a major way" and was booted out. He contested the elections in
1990 under the ZUM ticket (and caused the death of a number of people) and
thereafter made a coruscating career out of insulting ZANU PF. Why is he
being forgiven now?
Then there are those criminals who were enmeshed in the Willowgate
scandal but have since returned to public office. Why were they forgiven?
Joy & satisfaction?
LAST week, a Namibian weekly published in German had to offer profuse
apologies after running an advert expressing "joy and satisfaction" at the
death of Simon Wiesenthal, a holocaust survivor who dedicated his life to
hunting down members of Adolf Hitler's Nazi party. A group of unknown people
planted the offending ad in the paper. "With joy and satisfaction, we take
notice of the death of the big monster. On September 20, the earth and its
inhabitants were delivered from Simon. His biggest crime was to live (for)
96 years," read the ad.
With the way things have gone badly in this country, can one really
rule out an advert of this nature in our local press in the not-so-distant
future? Don't quote CZ on this one!
STILL on joy and satisfaction, this is the same feeling which CZ got
when he learnt that a high-powered government delegation including Tourism
Minister Francis Nhema and Mashonaland West Governor Nelson Samkange got
stranded in the middle of Lake Kariba for hours on end last week after their
boat ran out of fuel.
Reports reaching CZ are to the effect that the delegation, which was
on a joy ride purportedly to mark World Tourism Day, got stranded in the
lake from late afternoon right into the night . . . until authorities ashore
finally answered their SOS and hurried to their rescue with jerry-cans of
the precious liquid.
Henceforth, Comrades Nhema, Samkange and others who were on that
ill-fated boat better appreciate the magnitude of the problem that they have
always brushed aside.
CAN someone please correct CZ on this one? Is this Eng. George Mlilo
who is being expensively congratulated by some corrupt heads of some
state-owned enterprises over his recent appointment to the post of perm sec
in the sick ministry of Transport and Communication, the same fellow who got
a humiliating pratfall at the hands of MDC's Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube in the
Bulawayo mayoral elections in 2000? Is he the same Eng Mlilo who was once in
trouble with the law for failing to look after his pigs? The self-same
person? Jesus God! Why is this particular ministry so cursed? Or has this
country really run out of credible people to fill such important positions?
SO the noisome Liz "Hotel" is now closed, thanks to an investigative
piece published a few weeks ago by two nosy journo colleagues at the Herald?
Wonderful isn't it? In recognition of the exemplary role played by the two
journos CZ, in collaboration with his partners in the donor community, are
going to give a joint award to these two - a lady and a gentleman - whose
names are yet to be made public. During the awards ceremony, special mention
will be made of the two little juicy sidepieces that accompanied the main
story. The two should keep it up!
THIS week CZ's brother at the one and only public broadcaster thought
he needed to fire back at CZ. And he thought it seemly to do so by proxy. So
he rented a fellow opportunist, this time the President of the Chiefs
Council "Chief" Fortune Charumbira, to appear on his programme, Media Watch,
to help him do the hatchet job.
Happy as piglets in a clover patch, the two decided to play CZ's
brieves and spent time and ceremony excoriating him. They called him
educated but uncultured, identity-less, a hard-nosed Uncle Tom among the
whole midden omelette of obloquies.
CZ might be educated but uncultured and so ashamed of himself and his
culture such that he is always too pleased to imitate the white man, as the
two rapscallions claimed. Fine and dandy. What about them who both have
western names, who were conversing on that particular programme in a western
language, through a western medium and wearing western attire? Who is
fooling who here?
For everyone's information, CZ does not copy anyone . . . Charumbira's
antediluvian beliefs or the West . . . because his grandpa - who is much
wiser than the two patch-work moralists combined - told him since he was
knee high to a tinker's donkey that mimicking others cost the toad its
10/6/2005 8:52:28 AM (GMT +2)
The return of the popular 30-day Tb's have caused shortages in the
market as financial players took short positions ahead of the September
inflation figures due by the end of next week.
Investors continued to opt for short tenors as the September inflation
figure is forecast to break the 300% barrier after inflation had been
retreating in the last months of 2004.
However, the Reserve Bank has not been consistent in its 30-day
treasury bill tenders as a way of managing market positioning.
The central bank continues to issue 91-day Tb's in spite of the lack
of support for the long dated paper as a way of laddering its obligations.
Lately the bank had been floating the 91-day paper in the mornings and the
30-day paper as the last tender of the day.
This has created uncertainty among market players, as the tenders are
not certain as they are announced at intervals. The central bank should
continue issuing the short dated paper as long as there is minimal support
for the 91-day paper.
Tenor preference will only change after the release of the September
inflation figure if the market perceives that the inflationary spiral has
lost steam and that inflationary pressures have eased.
The problem with high inflation levels is that inflation tends to
breed inflation. The Governor has indicated that he will devalue the
Zimbabwean dollar relative to the consumer price index and this create
further price pressures as firms pass the cost to consumers.
The central bank is likely to step up its war on inflation in order to
stabilise the macro economic environment. Foreign currency mobilisation
should be at the top of the list given the current capacity constraints
bedeviling the productive sector. The monetary authorities are also likely
to scale down concessionary funding to the private sector as part of their
undertaking to the Bretton Woods institutions.
Investment rates on the short term firmed on the back of the high
yielding 30-day paper and the intra day market shortages. Trades in the 7 to
14 periods were being quoted around 100% per annum and 30-day investments
were averaging 150% per annum. Trades on the long end of the market were
largely unchanged given the lack of movement in the 91 treasury bill yield.
Investments in the 60 day period was averaging 180%, whilst 91 day
investments were attracting rates slightly above 200% per annum.
A Tale of Two Counters
The Zimbabwe stock exchange breached the 7 million mark as Old Mutual
and PPC rallied unabated on the back of the continued depreciation of the
Zimbabwe dollar. Old Mutual closed 16 500 and PPC at 2 500 000 for the day
on Tuesday. The rally of the stock market has not been across the board as
the gains are mainly attributed to the two counters, which trade on the JSE
and the London Stock Exchange and are tracking the movement of the currency
in order to achieve purchase power parity. CFI continues to be the jewel in
the pack as it closed 2 700, up 38% on Tuesday's trading. The market
continued on its upward trend on Wednesday as it reached the record breaking
7 596 245.21, up 6.08% on the previous days trading, with Interfresh, Cairns
and Zimpapers leading the charge.
10/6/2005 9:33:39 AM (GMT +2)
On a comparative basis, this exceeded total foreign grant and loan aid
to the region, 40 percent of exports from SADCC and 10 per cent of their GDP
for the five year period. In fact, the SADCC estimates appear to be low;
$12-13 billion is still a conservative figure.
By 1985 the annual loss was running at $4 billion, about $70 per
capita for a group of countries whose average annual output was perhaps $500
per capita. By 1986, for Mozambique the costs exceeded 50 per cent of GDP,
and for non-oil GDP in Angola the share was close to half. The cost to the
region up to1985 is in the order of $16-17 billion. The economic costs did
not stand alone for there was a huge loss of life, displacement of people
There are many readers who requested me to articulate further the
niceties of the relations in question. Lincoln, a manager for an engineering
company in the UK wondered if I was saying that present day South Africa has
something to fear from a democratic Zimbabwe and concluded that if that is
the case then SA does not know what is in its interest because the region,
including SA can only prosper when there is democratic governance. This
observation was made by other readers and some, like Rachel from Australia,
sounded puzzled what it was in Zimbabwe that threatened SA so much, and
especially apartheid South Africa, to warrant such aggression.
Apartheid SA's outward-looking approach was designed to protect the
political economy of apartheid by keeping opponents far from the frontiers
and by reducing to rubble the economies of unfriendly neighbours especially
those which contain alternative outlets to the sea and little SA investment.
Everything else apart, Zimbabwe's geopolitical position can determine
whether trade from landlocked Africa flow through Mozambique or South
Africa. Pretoria faced a dilemma in the case of Zimbabwe because dependence
was not only one-sided.
Destroying the communications routes through Angola to the west and
Mozambique to the east ensured dependence on SA for trade routes for the
landlocked countries of the regional hinterland. But Zimbabwe located to the
immediate north of SA commanded and still commands these access routes to
Malawi, the DRC and Zambia. Of necessity, the destabilisation of Zimbabwe
had to be on a less devastating scale. Pretoria's policy planners faced
their greatest dilemma in just how far to go in destabilising Zimbabwe.
To date, SA is envious of Zimbabwe's economic potential and that is
why I argued in the first part to this series that SA, for its own selfish
reasons, seems bent on exacerbating internal conflict in Zimbabwe and to
keep the Zimbabwean economy, whose potential is the biggest threat to the SA
economy, off balance. But again SA has a dilemma in this regard in that it
can not afford to let the Zimbabwean economy collapse to certain levels
without having ripple effects for the South African economy itself.
That is why when prospects were high that Zimbabwe might be expelled
from the IMF, SA was more than determined to hurriedly advance a loan which
would cover part payment of Zimbabwe's debts to the global lender to starve
off expulsion. With Zimbabwe's expulsion swayed, we may see less
determination and even an insistence on political conditions knowing very
well that Zimbabwe will not accept conditions just to give the impression
that SA is doing something about the Zimbabwean crisis.
In fact, this may be the end of the whole loan debacle unless SA is
convinced that Zimbabwe may not be able to escape expulsion after its grace
period. So the likelihood is that for the next six months we may just be
hearing about negotiations for the loan without anything tangible
materializing until the eleventh hour, depending on Zimbabwe's prospects for
expulsion or otherwise.
As to what it is that made Zimbabwe warrant so determined aggression
from apartheid SA the answer lies in the political economy of the region and
the historical strategic struggle for regional hegemony between the two
countries. But perhaps what was specific to the country was the fact that
ZANU PF's victory in the 1980 elections had left a cast of embittered
politicians in Zimbabwe and embittered members of the Rhodesian army in SA.
Many white supremacists in the Rhodesian army, the police and the secret
service and in particular the Special Branch which was notorious for
mysterious disappearances, kidnapping and deaths during the war migrated to
SA and were incorporated into the SA Defence Force, the police and the
National Intelligence Services (NIS).
For South Africans the outcome of the election was shattering because
they had invested US$300 million in the Rhodesian war against the
nationalists and they had invested heavily in the election campaign against
ZANU PF. But more importantly, they sought the creation of a Constellation
of Southern African States (CONSAS) which they would economically and
technologically dominate. Whereas some of the other election contenders
might have been presumably malleable, Mugabe certainly would not be despite
his country's heavy economic and geographic dependence on SA. To start with,
he advocated socialist principles based on Marxism-Leninism. Secondly, he
was an outspoken critic of apartheid. Thirdly, he was determined to reduce
Zimbabwe's dependence on SA and re-route his country's trade back to its
traditional lines through Mozambique.
That historically, South African strategy is flawed and its tactics
unevenly balanced- or on occasion even counter-productive- is no reason to
write it off as insignificant or easy to overcome. Its identification of its
own interests may be flawed but that is a result of insoluble and rather
irreconcilable contradictions within South Africa itself and between it and
the southern African region. These contradictions are often quite
antagonistic and this partly explains the complexities implicit in SADC
policy towards Zimbabwe.
lIsaya M. Sithole is a lawyer, independent political consultant as
well as a human, civil and political rights activist. He can be contacted
10/6/2005 9:09:51 AM (GMT +2)
Zero investment spells doom ahead of regional power deficit
AT a time when most regional countries are moving into high gear and
securing their power requirements ahead of the 2007 regional deficit, two
firms which carry Zimbabwe's hopes of energy self-sufficiency- ZESA Holdings
and Hwange Colliery Company Limited - are still groping in the dark.
It is increasingly apparent that Hwange's ambitious $2 trillion
recapitalisation exercise will not materialise, just as much as it is
increasingly obvious that ZESA's two power stations at Hwange and Kariba
South will not secure the much-needed foreign capital injection in time to
avert disaster in less than two years' time. The two projects are currently
valued at US$900 million and due for completion by March 2009.
Zimbabwe's energy crisis, dramatised by acute fuel shortages since the
turn of the century and debilitating power cuts, has compounded problems for
the ailing economy, which has shrunk by as much as 30 percent since 2000.
The impending power deficit will render the region's major power exporters -
South Africa, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Mozambique, on which
Zimbabwe has frequently counted on to provide up to 35 percent of her power
requirements - unable to export.
This spells doom for the stricken Zimbabwean economy and signals
coming out of the corridors of power do not show any understanding of the
urgency of the situation that confronts the country. Zimbabwean government
officials have not gone beyond showing token awareness of the problems at
the odd energy or power conference they address.
Meanwhile, officials at both Hwange and ZESA are, with good reason,
getting frantic as the 2007 approaches.
ZESA executive chairman Sidney Gata is on record saying the
state-owned power utility requires no less than a US$2 billion investment to
avert disaster, come 2007. This is no mean feat for a country that is faced
with a litany of critical imports - medicines, fuel and food top the bill.
The kind of foreign currency investment required to boost the capacity of
ZESA's two power stations requires foreign investment, which has been
elusive over the past few years and for very obvious reasons too.
Even the much vaunted Chinese investors, who have shown an unsettling
lack of commitment to investing in plant and equipment in the country, have
given out mixed signals in terms of their commitment to the power projects,
despite numerous memoranda of understanding.
Hwange, on the other hand, could see its blockbuster rights offer
failing to fly as key shareholders do not see value in committing more funds
to a venture whose viability has been impaired by a price monitoring regime
imposed by none other than the biggest shareholder in Hwange itself - the
However, management, in a draft letter Hwange shareholders are yet to
see due to the delay and possible abortion of the recapitalisation project,
stresses the critical importance of injecting fresh capital into the
"Hwange Colliery's strategic position within the coal mining industry
in Zimbabwe is however under threat as a result of its undercapitalised
mining operations. The trading environment in Zimbabwe continues to present
challenges to Hwange Colliery. The company is currently operating against a
background of obsolete plant and equipment, which poses additional costs
arising from downtime; a challenging working capital position and a foreign
currency denominated debt, which has imposed a potentially huge exchange
risk burden onto the company's balance sheet.
"These internal factors have combined to result in declining tonnage
of raw coal mined, itself resulting in significant loss of revenue. Coupled
with this, the company's products continue to be sold under a
price-monitoring framework, the result of which is that any price increases
by Hwange Colliery require the prior written approval of the relevant
government ministry," Hwange directors state in a circular intended for
In advancing their argument for a rights issue of the magnitude they
proposed, the directors warned that "a retention of the status quo would
mean that the foreign currency-denominated debt in Hwange Colliery's balance
sheet would continue to present challenges in servicing the same on the back
of the huge exchange risk imposed on the company."
The directors, who would have wanted to float the additional 703
million shares, all things being equal, next Monday, also considered both
local and offshore loans as an alternative funding option, but discounted
the idea as they did a proposal to sell off the company to a third party.
The company's US$10 million debt was to be serviced by $260 billion
raised through the rights issue, going by the $26 000:US$ exchange rate
currently obtaining at the central bank's managed foreign currency auctions,
but analysts have warned that the company was chasing a moving target as the
rate is now being adjusted in tandem with inflation, which came in at 265.1
percent in August and was expected to breach the 300 percent mark in
While Hwange is grappling with enhancing its capacity to extract its
considerable coal resources, hopes of capitalising on the vast reserves of
coalbed methane gas have waned.
A Harare-based energy expert this week said Zimbabwe had lost its
"world class coalbed methane expertise to Botswana and Zambia as a result of
being ignored and rebuffed locally."
"The colliery will have to change its approach if it is to climb out
of the morass. It is surrounded by billions of clean burning, high energy
cubic metres of methane gas worth approximately US$3 billion a square mile
and rising," the expert, who requested anonymity for professional reasons,
It is a full decade since Zimbabwe's untapped methane reserves
generated excitement, even at international energy symposia, but precious
little has been realised.
World-class methane experts from Amoco, South Africa's Sasol and
Conoco visited Zimbabwe at the time, with one John Oehler of the Texas-based
Continental Oil Company declaring that Zimbabwe had the best coal-bed
methane on the continent.
Hwange's is reputed to have clean burning energy gas with enough
reserves to feed the power station for a century.
In comparison, Zimbabwe's southern
neighbour, South Africa, has transformed what was first known as the
South African Coal, Oil and Gas Corporation and later the South African
Synthetic Oil Limited (Sasol) into a fully fledged, highly profitable
industrial force through foresight and the requisite investment. According
to Paul Hollaway, Zimbabwe's coal reserves in the Sengwa field have just the
right quantities for Sasol's gasification process.
While Zimbabwe can only envy its southern neighbour's well diversified
energy sources, South African power utility Eskom commissioned a study into
ways of preparing for the power deficit.
Ezekiel Madzikanda, a Zimba-bwean electrical engineer who is working
on an Eskom-commissioned research into ways of managing power consumption,
says the power industry in Zimbabwe has to wake up from its slumber and
devise ways of ensuring the sustainable use of electricity.
"The South African government, through the Department of Energy, has
tasked Eskom to look at ways of reducing power consumption and also ways of
increasing power production.
"They are currently working on several options but two are more
feasible at this moment. The first is demand side management. Demand side
management is, in layman's terms, reducing power consumption. The other
option they are looking at is that of re-mothballing of "mothballed" power
stations. In simple terms, there are power stations that had been put off
production sometime back and are now being refurbished and put back into
production. All these efforts are being done to reduce the impact of running
out of power come 2007," Madzikanda said.