CHURCH CALLS FOR OPENING UP OF PUBLIC MEDIA Fri 8 October
HARARE - The Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference has called
on the government to open up the public media to all political parties and
said the present arrangement where only the ruling ZANU PF party had access
to the public media was undemocratic.
A free media environment
where the government and its opponents were able to market their policies to
the electorate was critical to ensuring a democratic election in March next
year when Zimbabweans choose a new Parliament, the bishops
In a pastoral letter entitled, "A Credible Electoral Process
for a Responsible and Accountable Leadership," released this week, the
clergymen 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.
"A political system that
operates in such a way that only one party (ZANU PF) has access to a proper
coverage by media cannot claim to be democratic."
state-owned Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings, which operates the country's
only television and radio station, has imposed a virtual blackout on the
main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party and other
opponents of the government.
The government's vast newspaper
empire also ignores the MDC while restrictive media laws ensure the
remaining three independent but smaller newspapers are more than guarded in
their criticism of government policy and management.
country's biggest and only independent daily newspaper, The Daily News, was
shut down by the government last year because it had not registered with the
state's Media and Information Commission.
The call by the Catholic
bishops echo norms and standards for elections adopted by Southern African
Development Community leaders last August that require, among other things,
equal access to the public media by all political parties to ensure free and
Zimbabwe's Justice Ministry has indicated all
parties in Zimbabwe will be granted access to the public media but
Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, who controls the media, has insisted the
MDC will not be granted access because he says it is not loyal. -
Zimbabwe, foreign firms seal US$60 million fuel deal Fri 8
HARARE - BP South Africa and another unnamed foreign
oil company will supply US$60 million worth of fuel to Zimbabwe in the next
three months under a deal that was expected to be signed in Harare
yesterday, sources told ZimOnline.
Zimbabwe, in the grip of an
acute fuel shortage for the last five years, will receive 2.4 million litres
of petrol and 36 million litres of diesel per month under the deal to be
signed between the two oil firms and the Petroleum Marketers Association of
Sources said BP was going to supply half of the fuel
while the unnamed foreign oil firm, which is said to be working with a
consortium of Zimbabwean businessmen, will supply the other
The two foreign companies beat several other international
oil firms to win the fuel supply tender floated last month by the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe on behalf of the petroleum association.
initial three-month supply period is a trial phase which could be extended
if Zimbabwe's petroleum association showed it was able to pay foreign
suppliers on time and consistently, according to the sources.
Association President Masimba Kambarami confirmed the deal but refused to
shed more light. He said: "We are finalising the contract which should be
operational soon but I cannot release the details of the suppliers at the
The association brings together oil firms in Zimbabwe
and is the only one now permitted to import fuel into the country which it
then distributes to its members.
The oil industry was opened up
at the beginning of the year but the government has barred individual oil
merchants from importing the commodity after several bogus oil dealers
misused close to US$113 million allocated to them by Zimbabwe's central bank
for fuel imports.
The state-owned National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) also imports fuel but only for key sectors such as
agriculture, health and government departments.
supply deals between NOCZIM, which in the past was the only one allowed to
purchase fuel for the country flopped because the state firm was unable to
raise hard cash to pay foreign suppliers.
NOCZIM owes US$171
million to several international oil companies who supplied it with
Another US$60 million fuel facility arranged between
Zimbabwe's central bank and British Virgin Islands-registered Saturn
Investments collapsed last August after local oil firms, which tapped into
the facility, failed to pay back. - ZimOnline
Cheeky thieves strike at Mugabe's rural home Fri 8 October
HARARE - Daring thieves evaded tight security at President
Robert Mugabe's Zvimba rural homestead, 86 kilometres west of Harare, and
stole irrigation equipment worth more than Z$75 million, it was learnt
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday could
neither confirm nor deny the theft and instead referred ZimOnline to
Mugabe's spokesman, George Charamba.
Bvudzijena said: "Please
talk to Charamba from the Department of Information and Publicity. He is the
person best placed to comment on presidential matters. I am sure he will be
able to furnish you with more accurate information."
office said he was busy the whole of yesterday attending "presidential
programmes" and unable to take questions on the matter.
sources said thieves sneaked into the presidential homestead last week and
made away with an assortment of aluminum irrigation pipes, sprinkler
systems, centre pivots and water pumps.
The thieves, who by late
last night were still at large, scaled a perimetre fence around the
homestead and evaded armed troops, who keep a 24-hour guard at the home, to
steal the irrigation equipment.
Mugabe and his family, who spend
most of their time at the presidential palace in Harare and only visit the
rural home mostly on weekends, were not at the home when thieves robbed
The President, however, runs lucrative agricultural projects at
the homestead which include wheat production and piggery.
security conscious, Mugabe has always ensured maximum security at all his
homes including at the multi-billion dollar residence still under
construction in Harare's affluent Borrowdale suburb.
multi-million dollar radar security system is under construction at the
Zvimba homestead. The radar system sourced from China will be linked to the
Borrowdale home and to Mugabe's palace.
Crime is on the increase in
the country as some hard-pressed Zimbabweans resort to illegal means to
survive a grinding economic crisis, which critics say is the result of
Mugabe's mismanagement of the economy. - ZimOnline
Women activists released on bail Fri 8 October
HARARE - The magistrates' court yesterday freed on bail 60
women activists arrested earlier this week for demonstrating against a
proposed non-governmental organisations (NGOs) law as police arrested 10
people during fresh protests against the draft legislation.
10 were part of about 400 members of the National Constitutional Assembly
who gathered at Parliament early yesterday morning protesting against the
NGO Bill and another law proposing electoral reforms dismissed by
pro-democracy groups in the country as inadequate.
assembly, which is campaigning for a new democratic constitution for
Zimbabwe, is a coalition of churches, labour, opposition parties, human and
civic rights groups in the country.
The assembly members, arrested
yesterday were still detained at Harare Central police station by late last
night. A spokeswoman of the assembly Jessie Majome, said: "We strongly
condemn the arrest as it is a denial of Zimbabwean citizens' rights to
demonstrate as enshrined in the Constitution."
spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena, however accused the assembly demonstrators of
assaulting a police officer who was on guard duty at Parliament and said the
law enforcement agency was looking for other demonstrators who allegedly
took part in the assault.
Later in the day, members of the Women of
Zimbabwe Arise pressure group arrested on Tuesday were granted bail but
ordered to return to court on November 11 to answer to charges of breaching
the Public Order and Security Act.
The state says the women
violated the security law when they marched for 440 kilometres from Bulawayo
to Harare in protest against the NGO Bill and also when they demonstrated at
Parliament on Tuesday without permission from the police as is required
under the law.
The NGO Bill, which was tabled in
Parliament on Wednesday, seeks to ban civic bodies from carrying out voter
education. It will also prohibit NGOs focusing on human rights and
governance issues from receiving foreign funding.
the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights yesterday wrote to the African
Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) calling on the continental
body to persuade Harare to respect human rights and to implement genuine
electoral reforms in the country.
Director of the lawyers'
body, Arnold Tsunga, said in the statement: "It is necessary that the
Zimbabwean government be taken to task on issues of addressing electoral
irregularities, which characterised the elections in 2000 and
"The African Commission must make recommendations to the
Zimbabwean government on the importance of laws that protect and promote
citizen participation and non-infringement of fundamental rights and
A report by the commission criticising human rights
violations in Zimbabwe could not be tabled at the African Union (AU)'s
summit last July after Harare successfully lobbied AU leaders to postpone
discussing the report until it had responded to the findings of the
commission. - ZimOnline
with pressure at home and abroad, Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe has
introduced a second set of electoral reforms in a month, abolishing the
controversial mobile polling stations and setting up a tribunal to settle
poll disputes. The electoral bill is the second set of poll regulations
introduced by Mugabe (pictured right) ahead of national elections due in
March. They are also an attempt by Mugabe to meet electoral standards set by
his peers in the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC).
September 10 the government published the Zimbabwe Electoral Commissions
Bill, which went through its first reading in parliament on
If enacted the bill will give Mugabe powers to appoint key
members of an "independent" commission to oversee all elections, limit the
voting days to one and open the counting of votes at polling
The new bill is also aimed at limiting the controversial postal
votes, which the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) claimed
were used by the ruling party to steal the last general election
The MDC yesterday dismissed the reforms as "piecemeal and cosmetic",
saying they did not address fundamental electoral problems. It said the
changes fell "far too short" of SADC principles governing democratic
The country's civic groups have also complained about a lack
of safeguards to ensure the independence of the electoral commission, and
fear that it might be biased.
Last week the groups told a
parliamentary committee that they were worried that the electoral commission
did not adequately address issues relating to electoral violence and
The new Supreme Commander of Zimbabwe's Defence Forces,
General Constantine Chiwenga, has declared that the army will never allow
the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to take over the country, even
if it wins an election, because it is "foreign driven".
the second time a defence force commander has threatened a military takeover
of Zimbabwe. Just before the 2002 presidential elections, Chiwenga's
predecessor, Gen Vitalis Zvinavashe, flanked by other top army generals,
including Chiwenga, who was then commander of the Zimbabwe National Army,
declared at a media conference that the defence force would never allow a
non-participant in the 1970s independence war to take over the
Zvinavashe said the army could not salute anyone who
had not fight in the liberation war, a reference to MDC President Morgan
Tsvangirai who did not directly participate in Zimbabwe's liberation
He described the presidency in Zimbabwe as a "straitjacket"
that was not up for grabs.
threats, Tsvangirai garnered 1.2 million votes, losing to Mugabe by 400 000
votes, despite having had his supporters in urban centres teargassed away
from polling stations.
Chiwenga has since been promoted to succeed
Zvinavashe, who has retired as head of the ZDF, the joint command structure
of both the Zimbabwe National Army and the Airforce of
Addressing thousands of people at a prize-giving day at a
rural secondary school, Chiwenga was quoted as saying that the defence force
was there to protect the country's achievements and would not allow anyone
to disturb these.
"I would not hesitate to go on record again
on behalf of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, to disclose that we would not
welcome any change of government that carries the label 'Made in London',
and whose sole aim is to defeat the gains of the liberation struggle,"
Chiwenga was quoted as saying in the state-run Herald
Mugabe has dubbed Zimbabwe's parliamentary elections
next year the "anti-Blair elections" saying he wants to destroy the MDC,
which he accuses of being a British creation, once and for all. -
Independent Foreign Service
MPs in travel scam Itai Dzamara MPs who represent
constituencies outside Harare are raking in millions of dollars monthly from
transport and accommodation allowances despite staying in the capital most
of the time they are attending parliamentary sessions, investigations by
Zimbabwe Independent have revealed.
In what could turn out to be a
scandal to rival one that erupted in South Africa in July, it emerged that
MPs use the out-of-town allowances facility as a cash cow on a bad
It has surfaced that a lax system at parliament allows MPs to
pocket huge sums of money monthly in transport claims. There is no mechanism
of verifying whether an MP really travelled the claimed distances every time
he attends parliamentary business.
MPs are paid $2,1 million per
month while governors get $2,8 million. Ministers are paid $3 million while
the vice-president's salary is $3,5 million.
claim millions of dollars in travel allowances. The Independent this week
established that MPs from Matabeleland get $25 million monthly in transport
and accommodation allowances. MPs are also paid $180 000 per night if they
stay with relatives or friends.
The clerk of parliament, Austin
Zvoma, this week said their system only verifies whether an MP attended
sittings or committee meetings to approve an allocation for transport. He
said they also checked the mileage on MP's vehicle to ascertain whether it
tallies with the claim submitted and the parliamentary business
"It is not our responsibility to follow the MP to establish
whether he has indeed travelled from the address submitted," Zvoma
"We check the register and confirm whether the member was
present in the House as claimed or whether they attended a committee
meeting. We could only confirm whether they travelled from say Zvishavane to
Harare by stationing someone there, who would follow them all the way. The
accounts department checks MPs' vehicles' mileage to confirm whether they
have recorded the required distance."
When a member is sworn in,
he submits an address which is taken as their permanent residence. It is
these addresses that parliament uses all the time the MPs claim transport
allowances. Investigations by this paper revealed that a majority of MPs who
represent constituencies outside Harare submitted addresses in their
constituencies and claim transport allowances based on
Figures obtained from Zvoma show that transport allowances
vary depending on the size of the MPs' vehicle engine. However, most of the
MPs' vehicles - secured through a government loan scheme - have engine
capacities of 3 000 cubic centimetres, which is the highest level. The
allowance for the highest level is $11 125 per km for petrol and $11 029,82
For a trip from Bulawayo to Harare, a distance of 440 km,
the allowance for a petrol vehicle would be $4,8 million. The same amount is
allocated for the return trip. A return ticket to Bulawayo by Air Zimbabwe
costs $774 000.
A claim for a trip from Masvingo to Harare, which is 298
km, using a petrol vehicle, earns the legislator $3,3 million multiplied by
two for the return journey.
During parliamentary sessions, MPs
are usually required to attend weekly. MPs from outside the capital claim
that they go to their constituencies every weekend. This means an MP can
make four claims a month, which translates to $38,4 million for an MP based
Parliament pays accommodation allowances straight to
Sources said there had been complaints by the Ministry
of Finance over the expenses incurred by parliament, especially on transport
allowances, which they say gobble the largest chunk of parliament's annual
But Zvoma said: "We haven't had any investigated or verified
cases of the abuse of the system."
All that is required to obtain
the accommodation allowance is confirmation that an MP attended
parliamentary business. In the case of hotels, it has to be confirmed that
the MP stayed at a particular hotel, to which the money is paid
NMB in liquidity crunch Shakeman Mugari ONE of
Zimbabwe's strongest banks, NMB Bank Ltd, was yesterday feared to be
lurching into a serious liquidity crisis amid reports that several financial
institutions are in dire straits.
Market sources said NMB was trying
to secure liquidity support from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to avert
collapse. The bank, whose founding directors fled to London earlier this
year to avoid arrest, has been struggling to get stop-gap finance from the
RBZ's Troubled Banks Fund.
Sources said NMB was scrounging for $160
There is also trouble at discount house NDH, which was
struggling to pay maturities and has not been writing new
Insiders said NDH was also facing a serious liquidity
crunch. The sources said NDH was surviving on overnight accommodation from
the central bank. Although NDH managing director Ernest Matienga was not
available for comment, an official confirmed the financial institution was
facing a liquidity crisis.
"Like any other financial institution,
we are facing liquidity problems," said the company official.
Zimbabwe Independent last night heard that NDH yesterday held a meeting at
Royal Harare Golf Club with creditors over sums ranging between $50 million
and $500 million to explain the company's liquidity crisis. Sources privy to
the meeting said NDH wanted to calm the edgy creditors. The discount house
also announced it was restructuring for a possible take-over by First
Despite meeting the RBZ's capital adequacy deadline, many
financial institutions are still facing serious liquidity
Analysts say the Reserve Bank contributed to the liquidity
crisis through its treasury bills. The analysts said in June the central
bank forced banks to buy its treasury bills and promised to give them
The purchase of the bills wiped out banks'
By Tuesday this week, the market was in a serious deficit
of about $300 billion and this has seen most banks scurrying for cover.
Almost all banks are under stress and are using the overnight lending
facility to stay afloat.
Financial sector insiders say a number of
banks this week rushed to the central bank to seek accommodation and funds
from the liquidity support scheme.
David Hatendi, the NMB chief
executive, yesterday said the bank was talking with the
Panic withdrawals at NMB have been worsened by the booting out
of its chairperson, Paddy Zhanda, last week.
Last week alone the
bank had more than three meetings with Reserve Bank authorities seeking
accommodation and liquidity support. Hatendi said: "The market has been in a
short position and like any other bank we have been affected," Hatendi
"In anticipation of this eventuality we did alert the central
bank and the talks have resulted in an understanding," he said without
giving details of the 'understanding'.
Kondozi equipment goes missing Augustine
Mukaro ZANU PF politicians have taken lawlessness on the farms a step further
after they allegedly took much of Kondozi farm equipment for personal gain,
the Zimbabwe Independent heard this week.
officials and Zanu PF supporters who spearheaded the Agricultural and Rural
Development Authority (Arda)'s takeover of Kondozi earlier this year are
said to have seized much of the equipment and taken it to their
The revelation comes at a time when Barclays Bank of
Zimbabwe is failing to recover billions of dollars worth of equipment
invested in the farm in Odzi.
"When Barclays' evaluation team visited the
farm to make an assessment and put a price on movable equipment, most of it
had gone missing," sources said. "Party leaders who spearheaded the takeover
of the farm helped themselves to the equipment and agricultural inputs which
included fertiliser and chemicals."
When Kondozi was invaded in
April it lost billions dollars' worth of equipment, which included 48
tractors, four Scania trucks, five UD trucks, several T35 trucks and 26
motorbikes. Several tonnes of fertilisers and chemicals were also
In May Barclays obtained a High Court order authorising it to
repossess the farming equipment at Kondozi. The bank is still struggling to
get the equipment, which has gone missing.
After the High Court
order, Arda intimated to Barclays that it was interested in buying the
Sources said independent evaluators who visited Kondozi
Farm for assessments discovered massive looting of equipment. This scuttled
negotiations between Barclays and Arda.
"Findings of the
evaluators indicated that some of the equipment had been taken to other Arda
estates around the country while other implements could not be accounted
for," sources said. "Tractors, trucks, motorbikes as well as fertilisers and
chemicals have been recorded as missing items."
Communication minister Chris Mushowe who is alleged to have played a part in
the take over of Kondozi, dismissed allegations of looting of equipment as
"I have absolutely nothing from Kondozi," Mushowe said.
"In fact, that allegation is false and malicious. I don't even have a
tractor at my farm so when I want to till the land I actually hire," he
"I don't even understand why people drag me into Kondozi
issues. The farm was given to Arda and they should be in a position to tell
you where the equipment is," Mushowe said.
chairman Mike Madiro dismissed the allegations as a political gimmick aimed
at discrediting his executive.
"There is no truth in those claims,"
Madiro said. "If there are individual members who could have taken some of
the equipment they should be named and allow the law to take its
Madiro said there was no member of his executive who took
anything from Kondozi.
War vets 'see through' evictions plot Loughty
Dube AS evictions of newly-resettled farmers intensify countrywide, war
veterans have charged that senior Zanu PF officials are targeting former
combatants to stop them from campaigning for their colleagues who want to
contest in party primary elections this month.
The latest evictions
have seen hundreds of settlers, the majority of them former freedom
fighters, being forcibly driven off the land they occupied at the height of
the 2000 land invasions.
The Zimbabwe National Liberation War
Veterans Association recently announced that its members would challenge
senior Zanu PF officials for positions in the party in all constituencies in
the primary elections.
War veterans chairman Jabulani Sibanda this
week said the current spate of evictions was aimed at stopping war veterans
from contesting in the primary elections and subsequently in next year's
"If anyone is throwing war veterans out of
farms just because they are challenging them then those people should be
prepared to throw 14 million Zimbabweans out of the country because nothing
will stop the war veterans from contesting in all the country's
constituencies," said Sibanda.
Zanu PF sources who spoke to the
Zimbabwe Independent this week said the evictions had nothing to do with
correcting anomalies but "a shock response" by party leaders who used war
veterans as campaigners and grassroots organisers in previous
"The big fish are afraid because they realise that if war
veterans contest the primaries senior party members will lose. They know war
veterans are popular with grassroots voters," said the
The government has allowed land invaders to stay on the farms
since 2000 but just three weeks ago, it started evicting settlers from Porta
Farm. The evictions have since spread in Mashonaland West allegedly to pave
way for top government and Zanu PF officials under the A2 resettlement
Sibanda said in other areas senior party officials were
pushing war veterans out due to greed.
"Our members are being
pushed out because we openly stated that we would contest elections in all
wards in the country. But we are not going to sit back while our members are
being kicked out of the farms by some of these greedy senior party
officials," Sibanda said.
Zanu PF boycotts SA polls meeting Dumisani
Muleya THE ruling Zanu PF this week boycotted a South African Council of
Churches (SACC)-organised meeting to discuss elections in Zimbabwe. Despite
being invited, Zanu PF did not attend the crucial conference.
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) attended the meeting which
drew participants from South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The MDC was
represented by senior officials who included its secretary-general Welshman
Ncube and spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi.
Speaking yesterday after
returning from the two-day conference in Pretoria, Nyathi said the meeting
was "very helpful".
"The meeting was extremely useful because it
showed that more and more South Africans now understand what is going on in
Zimbabwe and are seriously concerned," Nyathi said.
realised how serious the Zimbabwe crisis has become because of the growing
number of Zimbabwean political and economic refugees crossing the border
into their country, both legally and illegally."
Nyathi said many
countries in the region were now aware of the disastrous economic crisis
engulfing Zimbabwe. He said human rights abuses, suppression of political
and civil liberties could no longer be hidden behind the smokescreen of land
reform and anti-imperialist rhetoric.
"Everybody now knows the
disaster unfolding in Zimbabwe is due to a failed leadership and policies,"
The conference was organised by the South African
Council of Churches in partnership with the Southern African Catholic
Bishops Conference, the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS), the Institute for
Democratic Alternative in South Africa and the Institute for Justice and
Reconciliation to help Zimbabwe build consensus on the barest minimum
standards for elections.
Human rights report up for discussion in Dakar Gift
Phiri A DAMNING report of the fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe by the African
Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) will be discussed at the
commission's 36th Ordinary Session in Dakar, Senegal next month.
executive summary of the report was tabled at the African Union (AU) summit
in Addis Ababa three months ago amid loud protests by Foreign Affairs
minister Stan Mudenge who claimed Zimbabwe had not been afforded an
opportunity to respond to the document.
The report provoked anger
in the Zanu PF government which pledged to provide answers to the report's
accusations of human rights abuses in two weeks.
A special team of
the commission led by Jainaba Johm of Gambia prepared the report after a
fact-finding visit in June 2002. The team came to Zimbabwe after the Human
Rights Forum sent a request to the commission in 2001.
met with opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) officials, former
president of the Law Society of Zimbabwe Sternford Moyo, police commissioner
Augustine Chihuri and civic society heads.
It also met Vice-President
Joseph Msika, Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa, Zanu PF national
chairman John Nkomo and Information minister Jonathan Moyo. At the end of
the visit, Johm said her team had accumulated 20kg of documents from
evidence given by many people regarding the human rights situation in the
A draft agenda of the 36th session includes Zimbabwe under
item 13 and delegates will discuss the draft report and decide whether to
Although it was not possible to obtain comment from Justice
minister Patrick Chinamasa, government sources confirmed that cabinet
authority was being sought to send a delegation to Dakar to represent
"There are plans to send a delegation comprising Foreign
Affairs minister Stan Mudenge, Information minister Jonathan Moyo and
Chinamasa to put across the Zimbabwe case," the source said.
Forget talks - Mugabe Dumisani Muleya PRESIDENT
Robert Mugabe has told his ruling Zanu PF to forget talks with the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and railroad the proposed
electoral reforms before next year's general election.
sources said Mugabe told his party's decision-making politburo last week on
Wednesday that there was effectively no point to engage the MDC further
because informal dialogue has so far failed to yield anything useful. He is
also understood to have also indicated there was no time for renewed
inter-party talks anymore because the election was forthcoming.
politburo met on September 29. The party's secretary for commissariat,
Elliot Manyika, presented a report on the Seke by-election, the imminent
Masvingo by-election, Women's League's recent congress and party
restructuring. There was also a discussion of strategies of winning next
Sources said Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs
and head of talks with the MDC, Patrick Chinamasa, and other heavyweights
initially thought it was better to try to engage the opposition again but
Mugabe was against it.
Chinamasa was then mandated to bulldoze the
reforms - to be ushered through the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Bill
and the Electoral Bill - with or without the MDC
Following the reopening of parliament on Tuesday, Chinamasa
introduced the ZEC Bill on Wednesday and is said to be ready to push the
Electoral Bill which expected to be gazetted either today or next
The ZEC Bill will establish a purportedly independent electoral
body, which will run all elections, voting in one day instead of two, use of
transparent ballot boxes and counting of ballots at polling
The introduction of the ZEC will add to the existing bodies,
the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC), Election Directorate, Registrar
General of Elections' Office and the Delimitation Commission, which all deal
Government will also introduce the Electoral Bill
to amend the Electoral Act.
This Bill will establish constituency
centres, an Electoral Court to deal with election disputes, a
Registrar-General of Voters office and discard mobile polling stations. It
will limit postal votes, which have been a subject of dispute, to uniformed
forces and people working on government service.
The MDC has
dismissed the reforms as cosmetic, saying they do not address fundamental
electoral problems. It said the changes simply fall far too short of the
Southern African Development Community principles governing democratic
However, Zanu PF is said to be determined to proceed
unilaterally. This will further impede South African President Thabo Mbeki's
attempt to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis.
Mbeki has of late been
stepping up his efforts to prevent another disputed election and its
consequences to Zimbabwe and the region. He said recently he was prepared to
travel to Zimbabwe everyday, if need be, to deal with the
After meeting Mbeki on September 21 in New York at the UN
General Assembly summit to discuss the Zimbabwe crisis, Mugabe has however
been pulling in the opposite direction.
Police block NCA protest Gift Phiri HEAVILY armed
riot police yesterday broke up pro-democracy demonstrations in Harare, in a
week filled with protests in which more than 55 activists were
The National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), a coalition of
church, labour and civic rights groups, yesterday claimed 400 demonstrations
cordoned off Nelson Mandela Avenue to denounce the proposed non-governmental
organisations law. The NGO Bill was tabled in parliament on
The proposed law will prohibit NGOs from receiving foreign
funding for projects related to human rights and governance. Three people
were arrested during the protest which left parliament premises littered
with protest material.
Police spokesman Wayne Bvudzijena said
"the activists were arrested for taking part in an illegal
Police also fought running battles with scores of
women outside parliament on Tuesday after the activists presented a petition
to the Speaker of the House opposing a clampdown on human rights groups.
Three photographers, and 49 women - including one with a two-year-old child
- were arrested. The photographers, Howard Burditt of Reuter, Tsvangirai
Mkwazhi a freelancer and Desmond Kwande of the Sunday Mirror, were released
on Wednesday without charge while the women were yesterday remanded out of
custody to November 11.
"We have walked 440 kilometres to deliver
this petition to parliament and hope and pray that you will hear our cries
and not pass this Bill," said the petition from the women, most of whom are
members of Bulawayo-based Women of Zimbabwe Arise.
"If the Bill
is passed in its current form, it will strike at the very existence of us
and our families. We do try to survive independently but without help from
NGOs, our families and those of us who are ill shall surely fade away and
die," said the petition, which was also backed by Aids support
The Post Independence Survivors Trust, in a petition presented to
the Speaker, urged government to withdraw the Bill saying it was "patently
unconstitutional, undemocratic and therefore undesirable in a democratic
Civic society representatives from the Combined Harare
Residents Association, the National Association for NGOs, Zimbabwe Election
Support Network, and Human Rights NGO Forum were barred entry into
parliament for the first reading of the bill by police details guarding the
entrance on Wednesday.
Mnangagwa raps portfolio committees Staff
Writer THE Speaker of Parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa this week ordered
chairpersons of the House's portfolio committees to stop issuing public
statements before the compilation and presentation of their reports to
Mnangagwa said this undermined the good work of portfolio
committees in their effort to foster transparency and efficiency in the
public service. He said premature publicity created a wrong perception about
the purpose of parliamentary inquiries.
"There is an increasing
tendency by some chairpersons of committees to issue press statements or
conduct press interviews on matters that are under investigation by their
committees. In the process they express their opinion or that of the
committee before a report is drafted, considered, adopted and presented to
the House. This is clearly in violation of the Select Committee Rules cited
above," Mnangagwa's statement to chairpersons of portfolio committees
The Select Committee Rules state that "during examination of a
witness, a member shall not offer debate nor shall he/she express his/her
opinion or that of the committee on matter under discussion".
cited cases where the standing rules had been breached. He mentioned Philip
Chiyangwa's Foreign Affairs, Industry and International Trade committee. The
bulk of cases were discussed under the Public Accounts Committee headed by
Observers have said while the
Speaker's intervention was meant to preserve order in parliament, there was
a possibility that public officials were becoming sensitive about
revelations of their operations in the press.
has for years been shrouded in secrecy but the veil has been removed as
officials and politicians have to answer committee inquiries in public and
in the presence of the media," said a former senior civil
"This is disconcerting and believe me there are many a
politician who believe the committee meetings are better off without the
media. The other problem is that some MPs in their quest to name and shame
are breaking standing orders of parliament by making premature disclosures
to the media," he said.
The media has of late been awash with
stories emanating from parliamentary proceedings and interviews with members
who constitute the committees.
New farmers forced to bank-roll Zanu PF congress,
poll Augustine Mukaro ZANU PF is forcing newly-resettledfarmers and civil
servants to contribute towards the $20 billion needed to finance its
congress and the parliamentary election next year, the Zimbabwe Independent
Highly placed sources said the ruling party had written to
A2 farmers asking them to donate at least $50 000 each towards the December
congress and the March election.
"A directive was given to
provinces who circulated it to all farmers," a new farmer in the Mazowe
Valley said. "Each farmer is expected to donate a minimum of $50 000. The
amounts vary according to the production level on a particular
Each province is expected to raise $500 million to finance the
December congress and the March parliamentary poll. There are 10 political
provinces in the country. Zanu PF said some of the money would come from
fundraising activities, corporate donations and the party's own
Sources said Zanu PF had also written to civil servants
working in rural areas asking for donations.
Zanu PF secretary
for finance David Karimanzira recently said the party was seeking to raise
in excess of $20 billion for its congress in December and next year's
Murehwa North MP Victor Chitongo, whose district
has already donated $70 million, said farmers and businesspeople in the area
had voluntarily availed the money in response to the party's
"As a constituency committed to the party our new farmers and
businesspeople have responded to the call to raise money for the party,"
"The farmers and businesspeople voluntarily made the
money available and they are still raising more. The party is being
supported by almost everyone in Murehwa District."
This is not
the first time the party has arm-twisted rural people to raise money for its
"A2 resettled farmers were in April this year forced to
donate money for Independence Day celebrations," farmers said. "Last year we
were instructed to start paying rentals for land and we are now doing it
So far the party has raised $160 million, with Jongwe
Printers donating $50 million and $40 million coming from a well-wisher.
Sources said Zanu PF was also pursuing other fundraising programmes to meet
the $20 billion target.
They include a dinner dance expected to be held
in Harare next month.
CIO interrogate Byo mayor, town clerk Loughty
Dube STATE security agents and government officials last week descended on
Bulawayo executive mayor Japhet Ncube and the city's town clerk Moffat
Ndlovu to interrogate the two before demanding an explanation of
malnutrition-related death figures compiled by the city's Health
The interrogation of the two officials follows Information
minister Jonathan Moyo's threat that government would deal with Ncube and
the city's Director of Health, Zanele Hwalima, for allegedly peddling false
information on the city's malnutrition deaths.
agents from the CIO and the police's law and order department last week on
Tuesday visited the mayor at his City Hall offices and interrogated him on
the malnutrition deaths figures before leaving with several official
documents from the city health department.
The following day Bulawayo
acting provincial administrator Edson Mbedzi summoned the town clerk Moffat
Ndlovu to his office and quizzed him on how council compiled statistics
pertaining to malnutrition.
Ncube confirmed the visit by the state
security agents but said he was happy that the issue was well explained to
"We had a team from the police and the CIO last week and they
wanted to find out how we gathered the information on malnutrition deaths
and they were shocked to hear that the figures came from government
hospitals," Ncube said.
Local Government minister Ignatious
Chombo has also threatened to deal with the Bulawayo mayor for giving the
independent media "false" information on malnutrition-related
Ncube confirmed that Moffat Ndlovu was summoned to the
administrator's office and state security agents and the government
officials had been made to believe that malnutrition-related deaths records
were a council initiative.
The Bulawayo council is dominated by
opposition MDC councilors and Chombo has been trying to hamstring its
activities the same way he has emasculated the Harare City
"They were surprised to hear that we compile the statistics
from the Registrar of Births and Deaths who collect the information from
government hospitals," Ncube said of the investigating
The Bulawayo mayor has vowed not to be intimidated. He
said the malnutrition figures helped council plan its child supplementary
The council is running child supplementary
feeding programmes for 13 000 children under five years in all its clinics
in the city.
The interrogation of the two officials came at a time
when the council had
produced another report detailing more
malnutrition-related deaths in the city. The latest report indicates that a
further 12 people died of malnutrition in the last month.
latest figure brings to 173 the number of people who have succumbed to
malnutrition in Bulawayo alone.
The government has in the past
hotly disputed that people in the country are starving despite its own
initiative to introduce a feeding scheme for needy people in Beitbridge two
The government has been involved in a war of figures with
international donor agencies on the country's projected harvest for
Zim's land reform sore point for Annan Itai
Dzamara ZIMBABWE'S chaotic land reform programme is among the areas of
conflict on the African continent which the United Nations is trying to
resolve through regional groupings, UN secretary-general Kofi Annan said in
a report released recently.
Annan said the UN was working with the
Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to unravel the crisis created
by the land reform. The land issue is cites in the report released last week
titled Causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable
"Sadc and the African Union have taken the lead in
resolving the conflict in Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Sadc is also helping to find a solution for the issue of land in Zimbabwe,"
Annan said in the report.
The UN, together with donor countries, is
rendering technical and financial support to Sadc countries working on
conflict resolution in the region.
"The report notes that while
substantive progress is being made in tackling the scourge of conflicts in
Africa and in laying the foundations and creating the infrastructure to deal
effectively with the conflicts on the continent, some new trends and sources
of conflict have emerged compounding existing challenges," he
The new trends, Annan said, involved crisis of governance and
democratic principles as well as unfair distribution of resources in
politically sensitive situations.
The other countries mentioned
by Annan as being embroiled in conflict are Angola, Burundi, Cote d'Ivoire,
the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Sudan.
the UN was appointing mediators to solve the crises and relieve the
"The appointment of special mediators remains the primary
means by which the United Nations can assist member states in resolving
conflicts. My special mediators, with the support of the department of
political affairs, have been active in supporting regional peacemaking
efforts," he said.
DA appeals to Mbeki Staff Writer SOUTH Africa's
opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has called on President Thabo Mbeki to
defend SA investments in Zimbabwe following plans by government to
expropriate sugar plantations owned by mining giant Anglo American
Corporation and JSE-listed flower exporter, Conafex Holdings SA.
three sugar plantations, tucked away in Zimbabwe's south eastern Lowveld -
Mkwasine, Hippo Valley and Triangle - have been served with notices of
compulsory acquisition despite Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection
Agreements (Bippa) between the two countries. The trade pact compels the
Zimbabwe government to protect the investments and properties of other
countries from arbitrary expropriation.
The government has advised
Conafex's Zimbabwean subsidiary, Zimcor Ltd, that all its agricultural
estates are being compulsorily acquired with immediate
"The implications of this action and the matter of
compensation are not yet clear," Conafex said in a statement last
This is the second expropriation attempt on the Zimbabwean
assets of an SA-listed company, following a notice served on Anglo American
for the expropriation of the company's Hippo Valley sugar estates.Mkwasine
Estate, which is jointly owned by South Africa's Anglo American Corporation
and Tongaat Hullet, was issued with a Section 8 order on July 23. The 11
500-hectare sugar estate's notice expires in two weeks time. The order gives
management and staff 90 days to wind up operations and vacate the
Anglo owns a stake in Mkwasine through its Zimbabwean
subsidiary, Hippo Valley Estates, while Tongaat is represented through its
local subsidiary, Triangle Ltd. Hippo Valley, which also grows sugar, is
already under a Section 5 order, a formal notice of intention by government
to acquire a property under the land redistribution programme. The company
was served the notice in January.
The DA spokesperson on
agriculture, Kraai van Niekerk, warned that the proposed expropriation of
Conafex and the sugar plantations by the Zimbabwe government was yet another
"red light for South African investors in Zimbabwe".
He said this
would damage South Africans' confi-dence in pursuing ventures in other
"If the ANC government, and indeed President Thabo
Mbeki, is not prepared to defend the investments made by South African
companies in Zimbabwe and other African countries, then it will betray the
development ideals laid out for Africa by Nepad," Van Niekerk told SA's
Business Day last week.
But Nana Zenani, a spokesperson for the
Minister of Agriculture Thoko Didiza, said there was nothing the South
African government could do because the land seizures were happening in
"We cannot dictate to them what they should do,"
Zanu PF takes over at Town House Augustine
Mukaro ZANU PF has smuggled two of its top functionaries, Tony Gara and
Tendai Savanhu, into the Harare City Council despite Local Government
minister Ignatious Chombo's protestations that there was no commission
running the affairs of the city.
Chombo transferred authority to run
Harare from Movement for Democratic Change councillors to the ruling party
through the appointment of a monitoring committee chaired by James Kurasha.
The Kurasha committee is made up of five members including Gara and
Gara is a former mayor of Harare, former deputy Minister of
Local Government and 2000 parliamentary election losing candidate for Mbare
East. He lost the seat to MDC candidate Tichaona
Savanhu is also another 2000 parliamentary election loser
and former Harare commissioner. Savanhu lost Mbare West to the MDC's Dunmore
The two were brought back to the politically sensitive Town
House to ensure the ruling party's grip on the local authority ahead of the
2005 parliamentary election.
Harare town clerk Nomutsa Chideya
revealed to the Zimbabwe Independent that acting mayor Sekesai Makwavarara
was making all decisions on the city while the five-member Kurasha committee
"All decisions are being made by the acting
mayor until such a time as government puts in place a structure to run the
city," Chideya said in an interview. "The Kurasha committee is on a
Asked for details on his committee's functions
at Town House, Kurasha said there was need to get clearance from Makwavarara
and her team of officials before he could comment.
"We are a
monitoring team appointed by the Ministry of Local Government," Kurasha
said. "I can't give any details, you should get clearance from the Town
Council sources said Kurasha and his team had been
allocated offices at Town House and were attending all decision-making
meetings of the local authority.
"Kurasha now has a permanent
office at Town House while his other members spend most of their time in the
other offices in the town hall," sources said. "The committee had long taken
over the running of council even before the resignation of the MDC
Arda takes over FSI Augustine Mukaro THE
Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda) has taken over the
running of FSI Agricom farms as government moves to expropriate all
businesses owned by Mutumwa Mawere.
Highly placed sources said Arda
managers had been deployed at the FSI Agricom head office and the four farms
owned by the firm.
FSI Agricom owns Risboro, Rogate, Bosbury and
Essex farms, all in Mashonaland West. The four farms are highly mechanised
and produce cereals and maize seed.
"Operations at all FSI farms
are now being controlled by Arda," sources said. "Production activities and
the day-to-day running of the farms now fall under the agricultural
Officials at FSI head office confirmed the take over,
saying it was part of government's crackdown on Mawere's business
"The whole issue started when government took over
Shabanie-Mashava Mines," one official said. "Arda officials moved into FSI
on a government directive and they are directing everything, including
The official said most senior managers at FSI no longer
had a say in the daily running of the company. FSI farms were listed for
acquisition by the state on June 4, and served with Section 8 notices on
July 9. The farms measure a total 4 305 hectares.
Porta deaths: Amnesty rebuts police denials Gift
Phiri ZIMBABWEAN police's denial that 10 squatters died at Porta Farm
following police misuse of teargas was rebutted by Amnesty International
this week when the human rights watchdog disclosed the names of those
Police retaliated by vilifying the international human rights
organisation. Police spokesman, Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena,
branded the organisation "liars" and insisted that noone had been
"I see a lot of inaccuracies in that list of names of people
that Amnesty claims died from police misuse of teargas. I am still trying to
verify with Norton police whether it is true," Bvudzijena said on
Police last week challenged Amnesty to produce the names and
hospital records of the people it claimed were killed when police fired
teargas into homes during an attempt to forcibly evict the
settlers.Bvudzijena said: "We saw that statement (by Amnesty). But Amnesty
must provide the names of the people that it says died. If the people died
at hospital, then there should be a report from the hospital as
Amnesty International this week named the deceased after
obtaining sworn affidavits the relatives of the dead. They are Fungai
Livson's one-day-old son who had not yet been named, Ronald Job Daniel (five
months), Matilda Matsheza (five months), Yolanda Rungano (five months),
Monalisa Banda (seven months), Kuyeka Phiri (30), Viola Mupetsi (30), Julia
Nheredzo (32), Raphael Chatima (40) and Vasco John (65).
Amnesty report also said an eleventh person, Angeline Nhamoinesu, aged 46,
had since died.
"All 11 deaths were reported to Norton Police Station
or to a police post based at Porta Farm by relatives of the deceased,"
Amnesty said in a statement.
Germany expresses solidarity with Zim Staff
Writer THE German government last week sent a strong message of solidarity to
Zimbabweans struggling for democracy.
Addressing a large gathering to
mark German Unity Day last Friday, acting German ambassador Jan Hendrik van
Thiel said over the centuries his country had experienced ultra-nationalism,
racism and authoritarianism.
All of these failed, bringing
destruction, pain and suffering in their wake, he said.
not lecture any country on the ideology it should follow," Van Thiel said,
"but we cannot support abroad what we fight at home."
enjoyed multi-party democracy, a strong independent judiciary, a free press
and a vibrant civil society, he said.
"We consider the most human and
efficient social, political and economic system that based on freedom,
democracy, rule of law and social justice," Van Thiel said.
German government stands up for these values and ideals wherever they are in
danger," he said.
"We offer to all those who want to struggle with us
for those values our solidarity and support."
Van Thiel said
Germany considered Africa to be a major partner.
"We would like Africa to
be a stable, prosperous, free and united continent," he
Ambassador-designate Karin-Elsa Blumberger-Sauerteig was
present at the ceremony but did not host it as she is yet to present her
credentials to President Robert Mugabe.
Only 32% of land ready for planting Augustine
Mukaro A RECORD low hectarage is expected to be put under crop in the 2004/5
season as only 32% of land normally planted has been prepared for
Farming experts who carried out a survey recently said less
than 200 000 hectares of land had been prepared for planting in the
commercial sector while an estimated 220 000 hectares were ready in communal
and newly-resettled areas.
Under normal circumstances, crop
production should take up 1,3 million hectares.
The survey by
agricultural experts said the fall in land planted would be exacerbated by
the high degree of uncertainty prevailing in the sector.
evictions of both commercial and newly-resettled farmers would result in a
substantial decline in the planting of major crops such as maize and tobacco
in the coming season.
Hectarage in the commercial farming sector has
been in decline since the government embarked on the arbitrary land reform
programme in 2000.
Planted land in newly-resettled areas would also
decline as government evicts A1 settlers to make room for A2 farmers
throughout the country.
The survey said the 2004/5 season could be the
worst in Zimbabwe's agricultural history, as all factors are unfavourable to
"Tractors available for tillage have slumped from over 30
000 to below 10 000 including those owned by farmers, firms and
quasi-government organisations like the District Development Fund (DDF) and
the Agricultural and Rural Development Authority (Arda)," the survey
If all the tractors were operational, they could till up to 400
000 hectares but over half of them have broken down and some have been
The government's DDF, which normally offers tillage to
communal farmers, will not get close to last year's 100 000 hectares due to
lack of spare parts for most of its tractors.
Trust (TGT) past president Thomas Nherera said draught power remains the
major stumbling block forcing farmers to reduce the area under
"So far TGT has brought 242 tractors into the country and
their capacity is a maximum of 10 000 hectares," he said.
ideal situation would be about 100 000 tractors. All farmers would be
assured of access to a tractor to till land. Tobacco farmers alone need to
plant up to 75 000 hectares."
The Commercial Farmers Union (CFU)
estimates that about 500 of its members remain on the land either fully or
partially operational out of some 4 500 before the land seizures
"Reductions in commercial plantings since the beginning of the
land reform programme in 2000 are: flue cured tobacco by 72%; maize 72%,
cotton 95%, and soyabeans 70% including hectarage planted by A2 farmers,"
the CFU August report said.
"The total area of crops grown has
dropped from normal levels of around 530 000 hectares to approximately 220
000 by last season. A further considerable plunge in cropping activities is
inevitable this year."
With less than a month to go before the first
rains are expected, the availability of fertiliser and seed is still dogged
Local manufacturers have for the past three seasons
failed to meet demand as foreign currency shortages have hampered imports of
Inputs expected in the market are likely to be
inadequate for even half the traditional hectarage put under crop.
'Sweden to insist on democracy' Staff Writer SWEDEN
will continue demanding respect for human rights, democracy and good
governance in its partnership with countries and organisations, Swedish
ambassador to Zimbabwe Kristina Svensson said last week.
opening the Sida Day during the Water Resources, Sanitation and Hygiene
(Warsh) Fair last week, Svensson said her country will strive to reduce
poverty and promote "peace, democracy and good governance".
Sweden would also seek to enhance investment in children and young people,
economic growth and equitable distribution of income and resources and
Diplomats who spoke to the Independent said such a
position is likely to dash any hopes of the resumption of closer relations
between Zimbabwe and Sweden.
They said the government has
continued to subjugate civil liberties and perpetuate the breakdown in the
rule of law.
"The drought of democracy in Zimbabwe continues to
produce serious violations of internationally recognised human rights," a
diplomat said. "The freedoms of assembly, association and expression, which
are fundamental to the existence of a functioning democracy, are not being
Svensson said the new policy on global development is
premised on the principle of "shared responsibility" and targets poor
"Development co-operation will support and complement the
efforts made by poor people and countries themselves to overcome poverty,"
Sweden was one of the first countries to freeze
bilateral support to the Zanu PF government after the deterioration of human
rights in the country. Over the past three years, Sweden has provided
development aid to Zimbabwe through United Nations bodies and legally
constituted civic society organisations.
The Warsh Fair was meant
to promote cooperation between members in water and sanitation matters and
assess progress made towards reaching the Millennium Development Goal of
halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water and
basic sanitation by 2015.
Zisco needs US$200m to avoid collapse Gift
Phiri FINANCIALLY beleaguered Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Zisco) needs
over US$200 million for recapitalisation before year-end to avoid
The state enterprise's management however says it is finalising
plans to engage a strategic partner in a move aimed at pooling investment
The Zimbabwe Independent understands the country's sole iron
and steel manufacturing firm urgently requires working capital to import
spares, purchase wagons and coke oven batteries, and to maintain conveyors
used to transfer coal and coke to blast furnaces.
It also needs
funds to service its debts estimated at over $30 billion and to boost
production levels, which have slumped to less than 20% of normal
In an exclusive interview with the Independent at the
giant steelworks in Redcliff last week, Zisco managing director Gabriel
Masanga, while admitting that there was need for massive recapitalisation,
denied that Zisco was teetering on the brink of collapse. He said management
was looking for a strategic partner to turn around the company's
He said the company was already in talks with potential
suitors and was likely to move into a partnership "very soon". An
extraordinary general meeting held two weeks ago approved amendments to the
company's articles of association in line with the envisaged alliance, he
"The next step is to look for a strategic partner," Masanga said.
"There are a number of organisations interested in taking up equity in
Zisco. We are just waiting for the major shareholder to decide which
strategic partner it is comfortable to work with."
declined to disclose names of foreign companies that could be engaged as
external partners. An unnamed consultancy firm has been hired to audit the
steelmaker ahead of the injection of fresh capital.
said Johannesburg Securities Exchange-listed Iscor had expressed an interest
in partnering Zisco. A Chinese firm, Shougang International Trade and
Engineering Corporation, is also being touted as a prospective strategic
partner. Previous government-brokered deals involving the two companies have
been shrouded in secrecy. Masanga confirmed that Zisco had been working
closely with the Chinese in the refurbishment of blast furnace number
He said the biggest constraint at Zisco was raw materials,
mainly coal and electricity, which were in short supply because the company
had not been able to pay suppliers. He said support infrastructure to the
plant needed either replacement or repairs.
He said he was
optimistic the company would soon get its regular supplies of important raw
materials and would be able to save itself from bankruptcy to become one of
the country's major foreign currency earners.
"From the investment of
the new equity partner we think that we can turn around the company for the
good," Masanga said. "We don't want to continue going to our majority
shareholder, the government, asking for cash injections. We want to use our
returns to retire our debts and also post good profits."
has a potential to export products worth US$105 million per year when
operating at full capacity. The company, one of Africa's biggest integrated
steelworks, has been a perennial loss-making entity for the past decade,
exerting huge pressures on the fiscus. Because of its strategic importance,
the government has been sceptical about opening it up to foreign investors.
But its persistent failure to make profits has forced the state into a major
TeleAccess turns to farming Conrad Dube ZIMBABWE'S
prospective second fixed telephone operator, TeleAccess, has turned to
contract tobacco farming and mining to raise US$160 million needed to import
equipment for its network operation.
TeleAccess, owned by Distinguished
Ownership (Pvt) Ltd in which Daniel Shumba is the controlling shareholder,
will need earnings from the agricultural and mining sectors as foreign
exchange shortages bite in the country.
advisor, the Jewel Bank, has contracted tobacco farmers and miners to
provide assurance to Chinese firm, Huawei, a potential equipment supplier,
that TeleAccess will be able to pay for the equipment in hard
The Chinese supplier has requested TeleAccess to provide
security in the form of tobacco, chrome and platinum products before they
can supply more than US$160 million worth of telecommunications equipment
for the project to take off.
Jewel Bank chief executive Nyasha
Makuvise told a parliamentary portfolio committee on Transport and
Communications on Monday that farmers would produce the tobacco that would
be sold to raise the forex.
Makuvise said potential equipment
suppliers were reluctant to accept payment in local currency, which has been
depreciating against major currencies.
He said delays in implementing
the project had been partly due to changes in the regulatory process and
policy shift in the parent ministry had also affected the bank's efforts to
issue a private placement to fund the project.
"The delays have
caused implementation costs to shoot up while several negotiations between
Potraz and our client have been going on over the period. At the prevailing
auction rate of $5 600 per green back, almost $890 billion is required,"
He said the suppliers, wary of Zimbabwe's foreign
currency shortages, had asked for a share of the country's tobacco
They also want a share of chrome and platinum earnings as
payment for the equipment. Makuvise said the suppliers also wanted other
minerals beforethey could de-liver telecommunications equipment for the
project and to assure Sinosure, Huawei's insurance agents, that payment
would be in hard currency.
He said the potential suppliers wanted a
20% down payment before delivery and the other 40% after delivery, with the
balance payable after the launch.
Makuvise said if the contractual
agreements are concluded the company would deliver the "equipment in two to
Jewel Bank is now structuring a deal in which
TeleAccess will contract tobacco farmers to grow the forex-earning
The parliamentary committee was seeking to understand the
mystery surrounding the delay in the implementation of the project, which is
of significant national interest.
Makuvise said negotiations
between the Chinese company and TeleAccess had been stalled by the Postal
and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe (Potraz)'s delay in
allocating frequencies to TeleAccess and the numbering plan to distinguish
Makuvise told the parliamentarians that Huawei
wanted confirmation from Potraz that TeleAccess would be allocated
frequencies and numbers for the service provider.
He said there
would be a private placement to raise part of the required
In the fundraising project, the bank was looking for
both loans and equity, he said.
TeleAccess was licensed in
January 2003 by Potraz to become the second national fixed line telephone
Telecommunications regulations had stipulated that the
company was to roll out its network within six months of getting the
The telecommunications company has complained that Potraz
had delayed in allocating them numbers for their system.
said the rollout would be as soon as the interconnection agreements were
signed and the authority approved the numbering plan.
undertook to connect 60 000 lines in its first year of operation.
Zesa hikes electricity tariffs Godfrey
Marawanyika THE Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa) last Friday
raised electricity tariffs by 18,9% citing increases in postal charges. The
power utility has also promised that more increases are coming anytime
subject to cabinet approval.
Obert Nyatanga, Zesa's general manager
for corporate affairs, said the parastatal had been forced to revise the
rates from $37/KWh to $44/KWh because of the increase in postal services
"That increase has been caused by the hike in postage
fees by Zimpost. We do not absorb the postage fees," Nyatanga
"We will be implementing our own hikes, but we are still
waiting for cabinet approval. The proposal for the gradual increase is with
effect from September 1.
Zimpost increased its postal fees from
$2 300 to $4 600 for an ordinary letter with effect from October
The last time Zesa hiked tariffs was in February, when electricity
users were slapped with a 400% increase.
The power utility was
later forced to grant a temporary tariff relief of between 29-45% after an
outcry from consumers and industry.
The tariff relief was applicable
from the March consumption.
The increase by Zesa follows massive tariff
hikes by another government-controlled entity, Net*One, which raised its
rates by 385%. Industry has said the hikes would raise the cost of
production, which would be passed on to the consumer.
said once Zesa obtained cabinet approval, it would implement tariff
adjustments in line with an independent evaluation which was done by
consultancy company, Sad-elec of South Africa.
"Once we have
obtained the approval we will have the new rates effected," he
Following the outcry on the tariff increments earlier in
the year Zesa appointed Johannesburg-based energy consultancy firm, Sad-elec
to conduct an energy pricing study.
In its pricing report
submitted to government and Zesa in August, Sad-elec recommended that for
Zesa to operate effectively its tariffs had to be revised upwards.
Ugandan minister lectures Zimbabwe on black
market Godfrey Marawanyika UGANDAN Minister of Tourism, Trade and Industry
Edward Rugamayo this week offered Zimbabwean businessmen and government
officials a few tips on how to deal with the black market.
was responding to businessman Steve Margolis who wanted to know if Uganda
had foreign currency shortages and what incentives foreign investors got for
investing in Uganda.
"We do not have any restrictions on foreign
currency or what you can get from the banks," said Rugamayo. "We do not even
need receipts or to know how much forex you have or what you have
purchased," he said.
"We now have a problem with the shilling
appreciating against the United States dollar. But all I can say is that we
have plenty of forex."
The revelations by Rugamayo stunned Zimbabwean
business executives who were attending a breakfast meeting organised by the
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries.
"Uganda had inflation
figures almost comparable to what you have here. We had two foreign currency
markets - the official one and the black market," he said.
have unbundled some of our enterprises, such as the electricity and hotels.
We said we want to liberalise the money sector, it was really painful. For
example, we had 1 000 000 shilling, but government decided to delete two
zeros from that one million and we were left with 10 000
From the 10 000 shillings, he said, government took
30% of the value, leaving 7 000 shillings.
"That wiped out the
Rugamayo was part of a Ugandan delegation that accompanied
President Yoweri Museveni to Zimbabwe this week.
Museveni was in
the country on a three-day state visit.
Rugamayo told the meeting that
they wanted investment in the leather, aviation, pork and textile
"We have two million pigs in Uganda which we roast in the
pubs everyday. We would be glad if we could develop a pork processing
plant," he said.
"All our leather is exported mostly to Pakistan as raw
hides, we lack value addition," he said.
"I am told that
Zimbabwe's national airline has plans to go to Teheran, and we would be glad
if it can make a stopover in Uganda because we also do a lot of business
At the meeting, Native Investment Africa chief executive
Phillip Chiyangwa complained that because of the war in the Democratic
Republic of Congo in which Zimbabwe and Uganda fought on opposing camps, he
had lost a contract to supply 500 wagons to Uganda.
FORGET smart partnership and South-South
cooperation, a new form of colonialism is developing in Zimbabwe although
this time around it has nothing to do with territorial occupation. Chinese
entrepreneurs are dumping their substandard goods on Zimbabwe - from clothes
and toys to toilet tissues.
Over the past four years,
Zimbabwe has been trying to strengthen its relations with countries in the
Far East after its fallout with the West. This has seen Zimbabwe struggling
to consolidate its partnerships with China and other Asian
President Robert Mugabe is battling to promote his
"Look East" policy in a bid to find new trading partners as traditional
Western economic ties show signs of severe strain.
cue from the president's call, business trips have been organised to China,
Singapore and Malaysia to promote new trade links. However, this policy has
so far largely succeeded in reducing Zimbabwe to a dumping site, especially
of Chinese products.
Chinese entrepreneurs are taking up office
space and retail outlets and have opened restaurants in residential areas.
In the Harare CBD some butcheries have been converted to retail
Shoes, electrical goods and clothing are the main products
entering the country. Others include toothpaste, toothbrushes, pencils, pens
As a result, Zimbabwe's retail and manufacturing
sectors are battling to survive under a flood of substandard Chinese
products that are being dumped on the Zimbabwe market.
Analysts say if this influx continues it will force many local manufacturing
and retail outlets out of business. This could lead to massive retrenchments
as companies battle to survive due to loss of market share that has been
taken by Chinese products.
Over the past three years, Chinese
outlets have mushroomed in Harare's central business district and in the
process marginalised local firms.
It's a new form of
colonialism, the analysts say.
The government believes that the
new strategy is paying dividends.
Recently it received tractors
from China and last year Malaysians promised Zimbabwe large quantities of
fuel after Mugabe's visit.
Despite the well-publicised promise
which was supposed to see supplies transported via Beira, nothing has so far
Also the Chinese government has promised to
support the land reform. Businesspeople in Zimbabwe have however remained
sceptical of the initiative. They argue that the relationship is
Their claims have been proven right if the current
situation is anything to go by. Asian products have invaded the
Independent economic commentator Eric Bloch said the
country was yet to benefit from the policy shift.
believe that we have really benefited from the Asian products, especially
from China. There has been some limited investment in the form of bricks and
other things but the country has been flooded with low quality products
which have prejudiced our industry," he said.
"We are unable to
compete with these products because they are heavily-subsidised," he said.
"What is happening is that Zimbabwe has been recolonised through these Asian
Since holding the disputed 2000 and 2002
parliamentary and presidential elections the Zimbabwe government has been
pushing for business with the Asian tigers.
opening of the Fifth Session of parliament this year, Mugabe reiterated the
need for the country to do business with the Asian bloc.
One of the major problems that has been cited with products from Asia is
lack of durability.
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions acting
secretary-general Colleen Gwiyo is not at all pleased with the influx of
products from the East, which he says has led to widespread worker
"Most of the workers who work for these Asian
orgnisations are paid very low wages. Government is to blame for this
crisis," he said.
"For some strange reason they just opened up
markets under the guise of economic liberalisation yet they do not know the
Gwiyo said some of the industries affected by the
influx of products from Asia are leather and textiles.
disturbing thing is that most of these products do not last more than two
months. Most of the products only have a shelf life of two months, whilst
others last for a month."
Despite the outcry from labour,
business and the general populace, Mugabe's Industry and International Trade
minister Samuel Mumbengegwi says the concerns are not
He argues that since consumers are benefiting from
the availability of cheap products, concerns by industry can be
Black empowerment activist Paddington Japajapa last
month wrote a letter of complaint to the portfolio committee on Foreign
Affairs, Industry and International Trade on the influx of Asian products
and what he termed "human trafficking".
complained of marriages of convenience by foreigners to obtain resident
permits and citizenships.
Japajapa's letter led to a
fact-finding mission by the parliamentary task force which last week said
that they were greatly worried about the influx of the Asian
Phillip Chiyangwa, the chairperson of the
parliamentary committee on foreign affairs and trade, refused to comment on
the problems industry is facing.
"I cannot comment on that
issue because that would be making pre-emptive statements which will not be
proper," he said.
"Once the fact-finding mission is completed I
will be able to comment on that matter."
Under the "Look
East" policy Zimbabwe has been given some agricultural equipment in the form
A bank economist who spoke on condition of
anonymity said that the trading environment between Zimbabwe and the Asian
countries was heavily skewed in favour of the latter.
problem is that everything has been politicised at the expense of fair
trade," the economist said.
"There is political expediency.
Politicians do not care, but I believe local industry is not doing enough to
highlight their plight. The greatest shortcoming we have is that
parliamentarians are used to rubber-stamp agreements without first doing a
proper economic analysis of what the country will get."
economist said that the major problem MPs were facing was that most trade
agreements only received ratification after they had already been
MDC economic advisor Eddie Cross said Zimbabwe was
failing to make use of the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to protect her
"All we know is that some local products have suffered
immensely; these Chinese products are coming into the country at very low
prices," Cross said.
"Most of these products are
substandard and these guys are exploiting the vulnerability of the
Zimbabwean market. Since China has joined the WTO we should be able to use
international trade rules to protect ourselves, but we cannot do that
because of the political link between the Zimbabwean government and the
Chinese," he said.
THIS week Health minister David Parirenyatwa announced that
health personnel trained at government institutions would be bonded to the
state for a period equivalent to the time it took to train them to stem the
The haemorrhaging of skill in the health sector has been
problematic for Zimbabwe, which has over the past five years lost a large
number of doctors, pharmacists and nurses. Aggressive recruiting of health
professionals by Europe and North America and countries in the region is
depriving Zimbabwe of vital skills.
Statistics are anecdotal at
best because doctors leaving the country do not seek to have their names
removed from their professional registers. Studies have however shown that
of 1 200 physicians trained in Zimbabwe in the 1990s, only 360 were left by
2001. The rate of emigration has accelerated since then as graduate doctors
escape the harsh reality of living in a class way below their qualifications
and status in society.
Even without specific figures, the extent of
the brain drain is easy to fathom. Paediatricians, neurologists, specialist
surgeons, cardiologists and dermatologists have become an endangered species
in the country. In government hospitals patients can wait for days before
they are attended to by specialist staff.
ratio continues to balloon. The United Nations Development Programme's Human
Development report for 2004 says Zimbabwe has about six doctors per 100 000
people. It says the country is committing less than 3% of its GDP to the
health delivery system. Up to 39% of the population is undernourished, it
There are more not-so-good indicators. In 1975 life expectancy
was 56 years but the figure has since dropped to 33. Zimbabwe's infant
mortality, once the envy of most African countries only five years ago, is
going up and is believed to be above 7,5 of all live births.
week Health permanent secretary Elizabeth Xaba said maternity mortality in
Zimbabwe was too high at 695 per 100 000. Government has proffered ox-drawn
ambulances as a solution to pregnant rural women's access to healthcare. Not
in the 21st century please Elizabeth!
Then there is the high HIV
infection rate of 24%, which has pushed the already overstretched state
hospitals to the wall.
The deteriorating health conditions are in
sync with the growing deprivation of an already poor population. The sad
reality is that poor health status keeps the poor in poverty and poverty
keeps them in poor health, thus worsening the vicious cycle. Poverty is one
of the main causes of reduced life expectancy in Zimbabwe. As much as 70% of
the population is living on below US$2 a day.
accommodation has resulted in overcrowding which has increased the spread of
respiratory diseases such as tuberculosis and asthma. The risk of diarrhoeal
diseases has also increased in urban areas due to poor water quality, as
there is no foreign currency to import chemicals for water treatment. Waste
disposal in urban areas has become erratic due to inefficiency and lack of
equipment. Unemployment has pushed female juveniles into prostitution with
its attendant dangers.
Government's resettlement programme has not
helped the situation either as new farmers do not have access to primary
healthcare. Child immunisation programmes have suffered major setbacks in
Public health institutions are offering limited
services due to poor funding, worsened by lack of balance of payment
support. The cost of accessing health services has meanwhile continued to
rise. Only this week private doctors increased consultation fees to as much
as $400 000 per visit.
The health delivery system is sick and
Parirenyatwa, who got the poisoned chalice from his predecessor Timothy
Stamps, has continued to treat the symptoms.
believes tethering doctors and nurses to hospital beds will improve the
country's health delivery system and reduce the emigration rate. This is not
the first time government has promised to bond health personnel. As way back
as 1997 when the exodus started to pick up, government said it would bond
nurses. The president of the nurses association then, Clara Nondo,
responded: "That will not work as long as government does not address the
primary causes why professionals in the health sector are trooping out of
the country daily. Bonding will not stop the brain drain because it's about
bread and butter issues and not patriotism."
emerge as the single most important pre-disposing factor for health
professional to leave. Salaries of health workers have remained poor while
working conditions have deteriorated, as equipment and protective clothing
are not being replaced. Doctors working long hours have complained that they
are exposed to dangerous situations as fatigue-induced errors can result in
them contracting diseases.
The government has taken every opportunity
to denounce those leaving the country as sell-outs. It is a dangerous
The long and short of it is that bonding doctors by itself
will not staunch the brain drain so long as the working conditions and the
political situation in the country remain unstable.
WHEN the then newly appointed governor of the Reserve Bank, Gideon
Gono, presented his first Monetary Policy statement last December, he
foreshadowed that the year-on-year inflation rate would decline to 200% or
below by December. Most economists, analysts and businessmen received his
projection with great scepticism and cynicism.
Inflation had been
burgeoning at an ever greater pace since 2001. At that time the populace was
already wilting, for inflation (based upon the Consumer Price Index) rose to
a then inconceivable level of 71,9% at a time when first world countries had
inflation within the range of 2-4%, and virtually all countries within the
African sub-continent had inflation levels well below 20%, and many below
But despite having reached what were perceived to be the
unattainable pinnacles of inflation, the rate continued to surge upwards,
reaching 133,2% in 2002 and a horrendous 619,5% by November 2003.And, with
inflation having uncontrollably soared upwards, despite recurrent pronounced
assurances emanating from government that the necessary measures were being
pursued to bring the rampant inflation down sharply, and none of those
assurances materialising, it was inevitable that most received Gono's
prognostications as being devoid of realism and as empty of substance as had
been all the unfulfilled promises of government that inflation would
That the whole Zimbabwean population, with very rare exception,
could not give any credence to Gono's prophecies and targets was very
understandable. Almost all were suffering severely from the hyperinflation
which had set in and was believed to be endemic to the economy. A consumer's
average spending basket in 1995 of $100 had a cost increase to $190,10 in
1999, rising to $469,60 in 2000, to $1 883,10 in 2002 and, by 2003, that
which cost $100 in 1995 cost an unbelievable $8 757,10. To quote from a
publication of the National Economic Consultative Forum (NECF): "If a
domestic worker earned an annual income of $12 000 in 1995, for the same
standard of living the same domestic worker by 2003 needed an annual income
of $1 032 000, or 86 times more than his/her income of
And, if only the most essential components of an average
consumer's spending basket were assessed, the inflation impacts were, in
most instances, even greater. At least $645,95 was required in December,
2003 to buy the same food as could be purchased for $100 in December, 2002.
Accommodation costs (by way of rent, rates, fuel and power) as amounted to
$100 in December 2002 amounted to $455,11 a year later whilst, in the same
period $100 of medical expenses equated to $669,06 in December, 2003. Even
more stunning and frightening for consumers was that $100 of transport and
communication costs in December, 2002 rose to $1 210,55 by December
The scepticism was reinforced by awareness that the many causes
of Zimbabwean inflation included continuing profligacy of government, with
its never-ending spending far beyond its means and consequential immense
recourse to borrowings, many of which emanated from the Reserve Bank which
resorted to the inflation creative excessive printing of money. How on earth
was the Reserve Bank governor going to curb the government spending
excesses? A further very great contributing factor to inflation was the
gargantuan levels of corruption that pervaded all sectors of government and
the private sector, and there were no indications that government was
genuinely motivated to do anything to curb corruption, albeit that it had
talked of doing so for many years.
Inflation was also fuelled by
the massive depreciation of the Zimbabwean dollar - not at official rates of
exchange, which were virtually static, but within the parallel and black
markets, which were extremely active and virtually the only source of
foreign exchange to fund imports. Commodity shortages were similarly
triggers for ever greater inflation, for many essentials such as petroleum
products were only available from unofficial markets at enormous
In such an environment, hardly any could imagine that the
"new broom" governor could possibly achieve an almost miraculous decrease in
inflation to an extent of two-thirds rate reduction within one year. This
columnist was one of the vast majority who, whilst admiring the governor's
aspirations, believed they were unrealistic in the extreme. I believed that
he was succumbing to wishful thinking which could not be transformed into
reality. But now, nine months later, the signs are very clear that all the
sceptics, myself included, were totally wrong in our disbelief and doubts.
Although the governor's target has not yet beenreached, it is becoming
increasingly apparent that the prospects of his forecast proving correct are
now very great and that, in fact, the target may well be surpassed. Gono
has, so far, proven that he was potentially right in his inflation
In the first full calendar month after the
governor's initial Monetary Policy statement, year-on-year inflation rose to
622,8%, being an all-time record high. But since then it has fallen in each
and every month.
The achievement is remarkable and widely commended,
including very positive comments from as authoritative a body as the
International Monetary Fund. The astounding reduction in the rate of
inflation is attributable to various factors, one of which is purely
technical. The rate is calculated according to the movement in the CPI, by
comparing the index for a prescribed period against the base of the prior
period. Thus, the August, 2004 inflation rate is determined according to the
extent that the CPI at August, 2004 exceeds that at August, 2003 in the case
of year-on-year inflation, and exceeds that of July, 2004 in the case of
month-on-month inflation. As the CPI had been rising at an intensely
accelerating rate, the base upon which the rate is determined has been
rising. Thus, measurement has progressively been against a higher base,
resulting in a falling rate.
However, the lowering of inflation
cannot only be ascribed to atechnicality. A very major factor has been that
not only has the foreign currency exchange rate been almost static for some
time, minimising escalations in import costs, but in addition most imports
in 2001 to 2003 were funded with foreign exchange sourced within the
parallel and black markets. By December 2003 the rates in those markets were
in the region of US$1:$7 600, whereas the rate at which, until recently,
imports were mainly funded was that determined in the foreign currency
auctions of the Reserve Bank, which recently, were only marginally above
As a result, in many instances, the cost of imports has,
in Zimbabwean dollar terms, fallen, and this has contributed significantly
to the decline in the inflation rate.
Almost immediately after
taking office the governor has promoted a theme tune that "there is no gain
without pain", he trying to prepare the populace as a whole, and the
business sector in particular, for negative and adverse side effects of some
of the monetary policies.
Regrettably, the greatest sufferers of that
pain have been Zimbabwe's exporters and, as a result their employees,
suppliers, shareholders and other stakeholders. With continuing inflation,
although at a substantially lesser rate than previously, exporters have been
faced with continually increasing operating costs.
LANDS minister John Nkomo at the weekend disclosed that 397
people had so far been identified as multiple farm owners. He didn't say
what kind of people they are, their social status or their positions in
government, the party or business. Still, Nkomo reiterated his determination
to enforce party policy of one-man one-farm.
"There is a lot of
resistance but I can assure you the process (repossession of extra farms) is
going on," said Nkomo.
Unfortunately the minister appears to see this
as a personal task and in the process leaves out of the fight what should be
his key ally - the public, the people of Zimbabwe who are keen to know who
took what and what is happening to them. Naming and shaming should be more
effective than clandestine whispers in the ears of thieves. Does Nkomo have
any names to protect?
A donor organisation has helped build
an A-level classroom block in Saviour Kasukuwere's constituency in Mt
Darwin. As required by political etiquette, the NGO asked the local MP,
Kasukuwere, to be the guest of honour at the official
That was their blunder. He told the villagers, SFM reported
last week, to be wary of NGOs that come with sinister agendas pretending to
help. He said they should accept donor help "with a suspicious mind". He
then thanked the particular NGO that built the classroom block, which was
It's called looking a gift horse in the mouth Cde
Shouldn't Zimbabweans be more suspicious of those who
distribute computers, pairs of shoes, trucks and bicycles just before an
election? What is the motive here Cde Kasukuwere? Isn't it every
government's duty to make these things available all the
This is the same MP who is so fascinated with blair toilets
that in 2002 he gave "Toilet" Tambaoga $200 000 for his toilet song but
forgot that pupils in his constituency needed a classroom block. And he has
the effrontery to question the motives of those who can identify a genuine
Jonathan Moyo's "patriotic" Southern Times reported last
week that Zambia would be celebrating 40 years of "freedom and pride" this
month. Vice-president (until his abrupt removal this week) Nevers Mumba said
South Africa's Thabo Mbeki had been invited to the occasion along with
Zambia's past two presidents - Kenneth Kaunda and Frederick
Mumba observed that "unlike in most neighbouring countries"
Zambia had enjoyed peace from one government to another.
government would launch the independence week from October 16 to 25 "with
activities from non-governmental organisations, religious groups, cultural
centres, diplomatic missions and the private sector".
The same cannot
be said of Zambia's benighted neighbour where partisan galas have been
turned into a national pastime, where national days have been reduced to
From preliminary reports, there is no indication
that an invitation has been extended to a neighbouring president suffering
from an acute and very infectious disease called Blair fever - with symptoms
similar to Bush fever. Muckraker understands the Zambians are afraid of
catching the contagion and spoiling their 40th anniversary.
same afflicted fellow is reportedly uneasy when issues of transition from
one government to another are mentioned. It is against the cultural and
liberation values of his country for a president to voluntarily leave power,
Muckraker is reliably informed.
We hear his friend of the Namib
Desert last week received a special honour from French President Jacques
Chirac after he decided it was time to pass on the baton. Although he has
been a staunch admirer of our leader, he has not gone on to destroy his
country in solidarity. Don't they say that imitation is the most sincere
form of flattery?
Mozambique's Joachim Chissano has also launched a
valedictory expedition with his "Don't cry for me, Mozambique" tour. It
looks like friends are dwindling. Which perhaps explains why our leaders
have felt the need to find new ones.
Welcome Yoweri Museveni.
Let's put the small matter of the Congo war behind us so we can shake our
fists at the West together. But we suspect Yoweri will meanwhile quietly
remain Blair's best friend, just as all our neighbours have!
note that despite invitations to Museveni to criticise Tony Blair, he
declined to do so preferring to talk about Britain's colonial legacy. As for
regime change not being for black Africa, when did Museveni decide that:
before or after he toppled Milton Obote?
Musician and war
veteran Dick Chingaira wants to dislodge Gibson Munyoro as MP for Makoni
West. Chingaira says the constituency is now worse than it was in colonial
"The constituency is now underdeveloped and it is much more
worse than it was during the liberation struggle," complained Chingaira to
He said potential investors were being "turned away by the
state of the roads".
To dramatise the sorry state of affairs in
the constituency, Chingaira says he has composed a song titled "Campaign,
Win and Forget" in which he exposes truant MPs who are seen only around
election time. Once they are elected they disappear into the crowds in
It looks like the truth is getting too stark to be concealed
when war veterans start drawing parallels between Ian Smith's Rhodesia and
Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe. Especially when these comparisons are being made
just before the country celebrates its silver jubilee of
The Voice's editor Lovemore Mataire, in his weekly
column about the "resurrection of Cde Tongo" only portrayed the late
commander of Zanla as being intrigued by the new street names. He didn't say
if he would be impressed by the general state of decay across the
How was it possible for Tongogara to walk into town from
Tongogara Avenue to Samora Machel Ave without crossing Herbert Chitepo Ave?
Was this a genuine oversight or were you making a statement about the
latter's death? And why would Tongogara rush to see the nondescript Harvest
House and miss Shake Shake Building whence emanate all the policies that
have caused the ruin of so much potential in this country? Wouldn't he want
a cockerel for a meal?
By the way, when did Tongogara die? December
1976 or 1979?
We would also have loved to hear Tongogara's views on
the Chimoio Solidarity Bash. Would he have approved of adults and youths
shamelessly commercialising the mass murder of refugees in Mozambique to
bribe the nation to forget the daily deprivations of the most basic
Cde Goings On at the so-called Sunday News - which
never has any - seems a tad miffed by our nomination of him for Bootlicker
of the Year award. He attempts to even the score by casting all sorts of
aspersions about people working at the Independent. Trevor Ncube is not the
real owner of the paper, he darkly suggested.
If Cde Going Going
Gone, who styles himself a journalist, knows who the "real" owner of the
Independent and Standard is perhaps he could tell us. What is the point of
calling himself a journalist, advertising a hot story and then declining to
disclose it? What a tease!
We liked Munyaradzi Huni's latest
conspiracy report in the Sunday Mail. "Controversial" UNDP resident
representative Victor Angelo is being recalled amid reports that the world
body is "furious" with his "meddling" in Zimbabwe's internal affairs. So
"furious" are they that they are offering him a "higher post", we learn.
This will result in him "being used" by Britain and Germany, Huni
But it would appear he has already been "used". He worked
closely with former British ambassador Brian Donnelly, Huni tells
In fact, anybody following this issue will know that Angelo went
rather further than many Western diplomats were comfortable with in trying
to help Zimbabwe out of the hole it had dug for itself. He tried to get the
UNDP involved in land reform, indigenisation, and electoral
capacity-building, in each case trying to rehabilitate a recidivist regime.
Angelo was Zimbabwe's friend. But such is the blind and obdurate nature of
its rulers that they couldn't see that. Very simply he got in the way of the
demagogues in our midst.
We can all therefore safely conclude
where the Sunday Mail story came from: the same person who appeared to be
having a go at John Nkomo last week over the "disastrous" implementation of
farm evictions and who authorised a hatchet job on Didymus Mutasa recently
while President Mugabe was out of the country.
These are the
"dirty hands" that Mutasa referred to in an interview with the Independent
last week. Their prints are evident in any story that has a bearing on the
Finally, we were surprised to see Dr Timothy Stamps,
who grandly styles himself "Health Advisor in the Office of the President
and Cabinet", writing to the editor of the Sunday Mail in response to a
letter in the Independent.
Clearly, although he may appear confused
about which paper he should be writing to, he has not been idle in his
current post. He has evidently been absorbing some of the melodramatic
language that is the speciality of that august department of
Stamps describes our correspondent's letter as "disorganised,
dishonest, deceitful, defamatory" and "prejudiced".
He then prays
that God may heal the writer of his "bitterness".
We can be sure that
the last thing our correspondent wants are the prayers of somebody who
kneels aboard the gravy train. But from a public-interest point of view,
does Stamps' portfolio apply to all members of the Office of the President
and Cabinet, or just its chief beneficiary?
And can you imagine the
sheer stupidity of this same office complaining to the Media and Information
Commission about publication of a picture of President Mugabe hoisting up
his pants at the Harare Show when he was surrounded by journalists and
This is a blatant abuse of Aippa by Mugabe's
apologists. What will the next step be: no pictures of the president unless
they have been first vetted by his office to ensure he is doing nothing
Nothing could have been more calculated to invite the
world to laugh at the foolishness of Zimbabwe's control freaks. They deserve
all the publicity they got.
Museveni's mission Vincent
Kahiya THE last time Airport Road was festooned with flags and portraits was
in July 2002 when Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi was here. The visit
was immediately turned into a propaganda junket and upgraded to a state
occasion despite Zenawi being a prime minister and not a head of
Zenawi's government has been clamouring for the extradition of
dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam to face charges of genocide.
week President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, who not-so-long ago claimed to
"differ profoundly" with President Mugabe over the DRC conflict, was here on
a state visit. Hundreds of women carrying President Mugabe's bespectacled
face on their bums and chest were bussed to the airport to receive another
true African son who had come to "learn" about Zimbabwe's successful land
reform programme. The Zimbabwean model of land reform has been praised by
benevolent regional heads who have however conveniently avoided implementing
it in their own countries.
President Mugabe told us that the two
leaders had buried their "transient" differences, which stemmed mainly from
the DRC conflict in which the Zimbabwean and Ugandan armies fought on
Museveni's trip was therefore presented to us as an
illustration of African brothers' ability to make up and kiss for the sake
Museveni described the conflict over the DRC as a
"little misunderstanding" and said Zimbabwe and Uganda had "always worked
together". This is notwithstanding the thousands of soldiers and civilians
killed in the conflict and the devastation to economies.
parallels between Museveni and Mugabe. The two leaders in 1998 sought glory
from foreign military adventures at the expense of their national
Like Mugabe, Museveni was heavily criticised for taking
troops into the Congo. Both Uganda and Zimbabwe were implicated by the
United Nations in the plunder of resources in the DRC. But there was a
difference in the handling of the UN report by the two
Mugabe in his now commonplace mode of disdain frowned at the
report, which he dismissed as the work of those bent on poisoning the good
relations between Zimbabwe and the DRC.
Museveni on the other
hand immediately set up a judicial team to probe the findings of the UN. The
team implicated his brother Salim Saleh and senior army officials. Museveni,
after cabinet approval, ordered a full probe, which resulted in Saleh's
resignation from government and government approving his prosecution in
December last year. Zimbabweans implicated in the plunder of the Congo have
political patronage to thank for their escape from censure.
does not however make Museveni a white lily. It shows the deficit of
transparency in our leadership. Museveni still has his blemishes, especially
his insistence that Uganda should be a non-party state.
the two African presidents survived polls which attracted world attention.
Mugabe's Zanu PF won a narrow majority in the parliamentary election which
was followed by every TV viewer worldwide. President Museveni won the
important referendum, saying that Uganda should continue being a "non-party
state", thus blocking multi-partysm.
His supporters say he is right
in one aspect. Peace is still fragile in Uganda, and the country does not
need leaders who thrive on ethnicity, regionalism or class. But Uganda also
needs democracy and charismatic leaders and popular parties which can give
all Ugandans a feeling of being represented.
But Museveni is a
man on a mission to create employment and boost economic growth. Last year
the country recorded growth of 6% compared with Zimbabwe's negative growth
His business delegation was looking at securing business
opportunities and I bet they saw plenty of them here. There are companies
which have mothballed expansion projects until Mugabe's government comes up
with a coherent economic policy and a durable political
The Ugandans were taken to Dairibord, which is struggling
milk supplies from farms ravaged by the resettlement
programme. How about Dairibord setting up a milk processing plant in the
liberalised dairy sector in Uganda? We hear the dairy sector contributes
about 20% to Uganda's food processing sector.
The delegation went
to Varichem, which has started manufacturing ARVs. That would augment the
vibrant HIV/Aids campaign back home.
Museveni, a strong supporter of
the United States' Africa Growth and
Opportunity Act, last year spoke of
his passion to secure markets on a trip to the US.
demanded aid, aid, aid. I don't want aid, I want trade!'' He is seeking and
getting trade for his country while Mugabe wants acclaim and personal
adulation for stage performances.
Mugabe has been on many business
forays whose benefits to the nation have remained encrusted in rhetoric.
There is nothing to show for it except trade attaches and diplomats deployed
across the globe to only raise the Zimbabwean flag every morning. Now we
have substandard merchandise from Asia.
Museveni says Uganda does
not need to set up an embassy in Zimbabwe unless there is tangible evidence
of business between the two countries.
"An embassy is not a decorative
feature to be used for wining and dining," he told state media on
How many restaurants is the Zimbabwean government running
across the world?
Dear sisters and friends of
WOZA, We were shocked to learn that you were arrested and inhumanly treated
when performing a peaceful democratic protest against the proposed NGO
bill. We want you to know that you have an international attention and a
special focus from women in your sister city Munich. We condemn the
oppressive acts of your government, join your protest, admire your civic
courage and pray with you for a good future,
Vera Murschetz, Sarasota,
Fl, USA; Lucille Klein, Sarasota, Fl, USA; Prof. Dianne Chambless,
Philadelphia, PA, USA; Vivian Golden, Philadelphia, PA, USA; Dr. Lisa
Rhodes, Philadelphia, PA, USA; Anne Domenach, Paris, France; Dr. Louise
Stern, Paris, France; Anna Farfante, Rome, Italy; I nga Berkhan, Rome,
Italy; Sabine Picking, Berlin, Germany; Dr. Isa Klein, Berlin,
Germany; Karin Leppien, Bonn, Germany; Eva-Maria Behrens, Hamburg,
Germany; Helene Meier, Hamburg, Germany; Marlis Proksche, Wertingen,
Germany; Ilona Poos, Munich, Germany; Gaby Beltermann-Kamper, Munich,
Germany; Angelika Doubrawa, Munich, Germany; Ariane Schilling, Munich,
Germany; Dr. Brigitte Kern, Munich, Germany; Eike Paschek, Munich,
Germany; Charlotte von Tettenborn, Munich, Germany; Caroline Beltermann,
Munich, Germany; Martina Nebi, Munich, Germany; Dr. Elke Schmidt, Munich,
Germany; Antje Hettler, Munich, Germany; and Dr. Antje
Wolters Adalbertstr. 104/V 80798 München Tel +49 (0) 89-271 65
63 Fax +49 (0) 89-272 18 64 Mobil +49 (0) 170-8313135 Email firstname.lastname@example.org <mailto:email@example.com>