Eric Bloch Column
By Eric Bloch
THERE is an old fable of an emperor who appeared before his subjects wearing
no clothes. He was completely naked, but none of his subjects reacted to his
nakedness.They were fearful of his possible anger if they caused him
embarrassment by focusing upon his nudity. Instead, they all enthused
widely, praising highly his non-existent outfit. This continued until
eventually an innocent child spoke out, saying what all others were scared
to say: "The King is in his birthday suit, he's not wearing any clothes".
Life in Zimbabwe has a very great similarity, in one respect, to that fable.
Never endingly, for over 25 years, Zimbabweans have ululated with great
ecstasy at many of the pronouncements of the country's political leaders,
irrespective of whether or not those pronouncements have any substance, and
wholly disregarding the many occasions when the facts on the ground are
diametrically opposite to that which the government spokesmen state.
One of the most recent instances of widely excited reception of assurances,
promises and statements devoid of reality, occurred last week when the
president addressed a gathering of war collaborators at the Zanu PF
The crowd cheered vigorously at almost all that the president said, yet much
of the content of his address demonstrated that his advisors and minions
continue to misinform him as to what is genuinely the state of affairs in
Zimbabwe. That was clearly apparent from the extent that he repeated
unfulfilled, previously given assurances which are so overwhelming.
The president informed his audience that government was "working tirelessly"
to address the socio-economic challenges created "by a combination of
drought and sanctions" imposed on the country by Britain and her Western
In practice, neither of these factors have been significant in the creation
of the ever greater economic morass that has afflicted Zimbabwe for the past
Whilst it must be acknowledged that much of the country was the victim of
severe drought conditions during the last agricultural season, the negative
impacts of drought would have been relatively minimal had it not been for
other governmentally-created circumstances.
The first of these was that government totally mishandled the land reform
Founded almost entirely upon racialism (in conflict with the constitution,
and with international norms of justice), which racialism has been confirmed
by Minister Didymus Mutasa's vituperative attacks on white farmers as being
"dirt" and "filth", government evicted almost all, provenly productive,
white farmers from their lands. It then replaced them, in the main - but
with some notable exceptions - with those grossly lacking in farming skills
and experience, and equally lacking in resources.
It is little wonder, therefore, that agricultural output fell
cataclysmically. Government compounded this by turning a blind-eye to
widescale vandalisation of irrigation equipment which precluded the effects
of drought to being overcome by crop irrigation.
In case this was not sufficient to destroy the agricultural sector and
reduce much of the population to starvation, government then failed to
arrange the timeous availability of agricultural inputs including seed,
fertilisers, chemicals and insecticides. It has yet to explain why
fertilisers made available after harvest time failed to enhance the harvest,
or why an availability of seed for 650 000 tonnes of maize failed to produce
1,8 million tonnes!
However, the starving can take heart and comfort from the presidential
assurances that necessary steps have been taken to ensure that inputs are
available ahead of the forthcoming season.
He states that all required inputs have been, or are being, obtained, and
will be available at the commencement of the season. Unfortunately, the
information flowing from the suppliers is at variance with that "good news".
One of the fertiliser factories is on the verge of closure as it has not
been given foreign currency needed to source its manufacturing inputs.
Seed suppliers say that they only have a fraction of the volumes of seed
required. Very little irrigation equipment has been imported - again due to
inadequacy of foreign currency. And, although favoured over other consumers,
farmers have received insufficient supplies of required diesel and petrol.
Inevitably, irrespective of climatic conditions, Zimbabwe will not regain
food sufficiency in the forthcoming season. (Not that, that should be a
problem, for the president suggests that if the populace cannot eat maize,
let them eat potatoes - shades of Marie Antoinette!)
Equally, there is no substance to the recurrent attribution of Zimbabwe's
economic woes to illegal sanctions imposed by Britain and her Western
Neither Britain, nor any of its allies, have imposed economic sanctions
against Zimbabwe - legal or otherwise. The only sanctions that have been
imposed have been targetted sanctions against the presidium, ministers and
deputy ministers, permanent secretaries and the ruling party hierarchy.
Those sanctions comprise travel bans, freezing of their banking accounts and
other assets and, in isolated instances, barring access to education for
children of those subject to sanctions.
Those are the only sanctions imposed, and they cannot be held accountable
for Zimbabwe's economic disasters. Admittedly, some countries and
international non-governmental organisations have reduced or discontinued
aid to Zimbabwe, but that is not because of imposed sanctions, but to
government applying conditions to acceptance of the aid, or refusing to have
the aid restricted to non-political purposes. Government's unequivocal
conviction is that economic sanctions have been imposed, despite that not
being the case.
The president also advised the war collaborators that availability of fuel
is expected to increase within "the next few days". He said that 10 days
But the paucity of cars on the roads, and the immense numbers of cars
queuing at filling stations, notwithstanding that the tanks of those filling
stations are empty, are evidence that the advice to the war collaborators
were only wishful thinking. Moreover, the president said that the fuel
supplies will gradually improve over the next few weeks. Hopefully, that
will prove to be the case, but very few have any real expectations of that
improvement. After all, very similar forecasts of adequate availability of
fuel have been forthcoming from the president, his vice-presidents, various
minis ters and the Reserve Bank for many months, without the foreshadowed
fuel availability materialising.
If government is, as stated by the president, really working "tirelessly"
towards restoring economic developments, it needs to redirect its efforts.
One must doubt the contention of "tireless" working by government, for
government rarely works at all, let alone tirelessly.
But if it is now, surprisingly, working at addressing economic issues, then
it should work productively. That requires a substantive restructuring of
the land reform programme to realign it with that agreed at the Harare Donor
Conference in 1998, and again in Abuja in 2001, in order to put agriculture
back on its feet.
It requires real reconciliation with the international community which
requires restoration of genuine democracy or real justice, law and order.
It requires major cuts in governmental spending, starting with a reduction
in the number of ministries, postponement of creation of the Senate,
shrinking of the defence forces and much else. And it requires wide-ranging
economic deregulation, concurrently with constructively supportive policies
to complement the Reserve Bank's monetary policies, instead of undermining
It also requires an unrestricted containment of corruption at all levels of
government and within the private sector without fear or favour. And it
requires a genuinely conducive environment for investors - both domestic and
If all this is done, Zimbabwe has a great future and ululations directed at
the president and his government by the masses will be genuine, instead of
faked, as they are at present - for fear of telling the Emperor that he is
without his clothes.
By Charehwachaguma Chirombowe
WHEN the scales fell off the Biblical Saul's eyes to enable him to see
things anew, he was surprised to note how wrong he was in persecuting
At the risk of sounding blasphemous, we have a confession emanating from a
guilt engulfing the whole nation.
The late Chenjerai "Hitler" Hunzvi was a hero of heroes, (gamba ramagamba,
iqhawe lamaqhawe) and should be declared a soldier of the nation, the fist
of the nation or alternately, the defender of the poor. Yes, Hunzvi of the
jambanja (upheaval) fame.
We never thought we would live to agree, let alone commend the Zanu PF
politburo for anything. We are forced to eat humble pie as we congratulate
the party for recognising Hunzvi's heroism. For those who may still need to
be converted to "Hunzvionism" or "Chenjism" (followers of Hunzvi) we are
glad to provide a synopsis into the man's heroics.
Zanu PF may have recognised Hunzvi's peripheral role during the struggle and
his rise to fame during the controversial land reform exercise and the
parliamentary and presidential elections of 2000 and 2002 respectively.
These to us would remain peripheral. Hunzvi's achievements were recorded in
the late nineties.
It is common knowledge that after demobilisation, the war veterans were
discarded into oblivion. It was Hunzvi who retrieved them from the dustbin
of history, dusted them off and gave them dignity.
He alerted them to the War Victims' Compensation Fund which was accessed
only by a privileged few. The fact that it ended up being looted was not his
problem because his job was not to manage the fund.
He vetted and assessed war veterans for compensation. Indeed, some got
seemingly generous assessments in excess of 100% physical disability and 90%
The fact that some of these lunatics hold positions of power and
responsibility in the party and government is not Hunzvi's problem.
He did not elect them, neither did he appoint them to the lofty positions.
We all know who did! But he was courageous to tell us the physical and
mental state of our leaders.
When the independent media exposed massive looting of the fund, President
Robert Mugabe suspended it in March 1997.
Hunzvi and his fellow war veterans reacted angrily to Mugabe's suspension of
the fund and led a series of demonstrations across the country to press him
to reinstate the fund - an unprecedented move. Hitherto disgruntled
Zimbabweans were singing the refrain: "Mugabe is surrounded by deadwood".
Even the successful paralysing civil servants' strike of 1996 had scapegoats
in Mariyawanda Nzuwa whom they renamed Mariishoma!
Hunzvi was not evasive; he identified the source of his problem and dealt
with the root cause - not wasting time and energy on symptoms!
In April, Mugabe responded by promising to pay deserving cases on a
case-by-case basis. Because of the way Hunzvi and his troops had defied and
exposed him, Mugabe, who is patron of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War
Veterans' Association, refused to meet the veterans to discuss the issue.
This irked Hunzvi who believed that elected leaders are only there to serve
and not dictate to the electorate!
In May the war veterans demanded "meaningful compensation" for their role in
the liberation struggle and started violent street protests. They demanded
that they be treated with respect.
Poor Florence Chitauro, then Minister of Labour and Social Welfare, faced
their wrath . At one point she was only saved by the heroics of her alert
and daring driver.
President Mugabe then deployed cabinet ministers to provinces to meet
ex-combatants and discuss their grievances. This proved to be an
unprofitable gamble as the ministers were held hostage for hours, abused and
chased away because they had no answers.
The war veterans were not interested in sweet nothings and idle talk of
patriotism and sovereignty from the fat cats. They wanted food, transport,
healthcare and educational facilities for their children just like their
Before the regime could respond, Hunzvi led a mob of war veterans in a march
on Mugabe's offices and residences, denouncing him as insensitive, saying
they will fight for their rights.
One protest in July 1997 disrupted a Zimbabwean/African-American business
conference. The demonstrations reached a crescendo when Hunzvi, wearing a
sixties skin hat and brandishing a knobkerry, led drum-beating war veterans
to disrupt President Mugabe's Heroes' Day speech.
Who will forget that day when the war veterans booed Mugabe, forcing him to
make his shortest speech ever at a "political rally?" Needless to say, the
nation witnessed this spectacle on ZTV. Ah those days!
Hunzvi's "persistence and consistence" in the struggle for justice and
equality for the war veterans, culminating in his Heroes' Day victory,
forced President Mugabe, who was in a tight corner, to give in and meet
leaders of the war veterans at his State House offices in Harare where he
promised each a $50 000 (then about US$5 000) one-off gratuity, and a
monthly pension of $2 000 (then about US$200). Needless to say, this was
Critics are quick to point out that Hunzvi's victory precipitated the
collapse of the economy. Such thinking is unreasonable, for Hunzvi did not
dictate the source of the funds.
Government could have taken the money from other sources like reducing the
size of the cabinet and bureaucracy, privatisation or selling off
parastatals haemorrhaging the fiscus.
In any case, Zimbabwe has had a fair share of unplanned and unbudgeted for
expenditures. Our involvement in the Congo imbroglio, Operation
Murambatsvina, galas and biras, the introduction of obscure and redundant
ministries and metropolitan governors, come to mind. Hunzvi was not
Hunzvi later dragged Mugabe, kicking and screaming, to land reform. Again
critics will be quick to say that worsened our economic situation. But that
is missing the point!
Hunzvi forced Mugabe to do what the whole nation expected, in fact demanded,
but had hitherto failed to convince him to embrace - land reform.
The fact that Mugabe did not do it properly is not Hunzvi's fault because he
was not at any point president. Similarly, the violence that ensued and the
bombing of the people's paper - the Daily News - was in all fairness a
result of the executive failing in its constitutional mandate.
But the point ought to be made that Hunzvi rose to challenge Mugabe and won.
Lest we forget, Hunzvi chased the affable and powerful Retired General
Solomon Mujuru from Chikomba constituency!
He also brought the inquiry into the fund to a stop when his colleagues
stormed Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku's courtroom.
Hunzvi did not subscribe to the one-sided justice that the authorities
practise. Until his death, the man would take on anyone, anywhere, anytime.
The association and its spirit died with him.
This would sound strange but do you remember that when Hunzvi died mourners
had to gather at Jocelyn Chiwenga's Heritage Trust offices because they
could not perch on his government flat?
Similarly, when his body was taken to his rural home, dignitaries could not
crawl into his falling huts. Despite allegations of fraud and extortion,
there was no evidence to suggest that Hunzvi lived an opulent life. His was
an ordinary life like many of us. We thus celebrate Hunzvi as a hero.
Unlike the pitiful lot of Zimbabweans, Hunzvi followed his conviction. He
mobilised the common people around "their burning issues" and not the petty
He definitely would not have allowed Operation Murambatsvina.
* Charehwachaguma Chirombowe is a Harare-based social commentator.
By Bruce Gemmills
THE collapse of Zimbabwe demonstrates conclusively that the primary cause of
the economic collapse was the land reform programme; drought played only a
Virtually all Zimbabweans have had their lives or livelihoods adversely
affected by this collapse, many grievously so.
This political cause has had an economic domino effect and the collapse
continues, ever downward at an exponential rate.
Even if Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor, Gideon Gono, brings to bear all
the financial wizardry he is capable of, it will be to no avail.
Metaphorically he is sticking his finger in the dam wall.
The requisite fundamentals for an economic recovery are not in place and the
most fundamental of all the fundamentals is the comprehensive revival of
Today, commercial agriculture should not be regarded as a relic of
colonialism or a construct of white privilege. It is a vital component of
the economy, it always was and it always will be.
I don't dispute it was developed during minority white rule, mainly for the
benefit of whites, so too was Lake Kariba.
When the government decided to destroy commercial agriculture, it was a
politically-inspired act of retribution. I have little doubt, but no proof,
the 2000 referendum was rejected by the farmers and their employees. The
government's fury was white-hot and out of control. This fury is responsible
for turning Zimbabwe into an economic and agricultural scrapyard.
The government cobbled together the A1 and A2 schemes based on the
presumption that commercial farming was only a combination of instinct,
commonsense, and government loans.
The imposition of this top down formula was in character with the
government's belief that it knows best. Remember when the government tried
to impose Village Development Committees and Ward Development Committees
into the communal lands - they failed.
The imposition of the A1 and A2 resettlement schemes is a continuation of
the same philosophy and mind-set. The resettlement scheme is
politically-driven, it ignores all business and agricultural essentials, it
is already a proven failure.
The government will never admit it has made an egregious blunder, that is
the nature of all dictatorships. The demise of commercial agriculture has
had a debilitating effect on communal agriculture. Supply and service
industries, agricultural research, marketing structures, banking and
provincial towns depended to a large extent on the existence of large-scale
commercial agriculture. Communal agriculture shared and benefited from these
Many post-colonial African governments also booted out their commercial
farmers. Today many of those same governments are inviting commercial
farmers to return. Why?
It is because small-scale and peasant farming has not measured up to feeding
the ever-increasing urban populations. There is a lesson to be learnt here.
Modern commercial farming is a multi-faceted business, to survive it must
observe and conform to the universal rules of business.
It must also work with nature, spreading risk through a range of enterprises
and rotational cropping. Scale of operation is also vital in order to
justify investment in complex, expensive plant and machinery.
Scale is also a factor when competing in northern hemisphere markets. Modern
commercial farming is a synchronised blend of many factors, many of these
factors being inter-dependent. It is pre-eminently business-based rather
To be a successful commercial farmer does not require academic brilliance.
It does require technical and managerial competence, an empathy with things
that live and grow, a feeling of responsibility towards the environment, a
preparedness to return profits to the business, for an extended period until
development and financial security have been achieved.
If you are looking for a fast buck or an easy life, don't go farming.
Everything to do with commercial agriculture involves a long-term
commitment, so security of title is paramount.
The white minority government kept black people away from land ownership and
large-scale commercial agriculture mainly for political reasons. It did not
want to have to reason with, and recognise a visual and coherent body of
black opinion it may not be able to control. The same grotesque logic
prevails in the present government. Only those it can control by some means
or another will it allow to occupy land.
We have become a nation of beggars, relying on other countries to grow the
food we once provided for ourselves. Under the present A1 and A2 format, it
is inevitable that agricultural output will continue to decline. It cannot
develop the capacity or capability to meet the nation's needs.
In some respects, the land reform programme is an attenuated copycat version
of Chairman Mao's Great Leap Forward.
President Mugabe has always been attracted to Marxist theory. He seems to
regard Zimbabwe as his political toy box.
Today, China has transformed itself into an economic powerhouse.Maybe after
Zimbabwe has recovered its political balance, it too can become the first
tiger economy in Africa. Only by progressing to an industry-based economy
can the needs and expectations of the Zimbabwe people be met.
* Bruce Gemmills is a farmer and civic activist
By Tendai Biti
EVER since Gideon Gono took office as Reserve Bank governor, the public has
been told what a good job he has been doing - not just by the state media
and some sycophantic acolytes, but by the man himself.
The reality is completely otherwise. Gono's inconsistent, ill-conceived
policies have been targeted at addressing symptoms, not the terminal
economic diseases that Zanu PF has inflicted on Zimbabwe.
In failing to address the fundamentals, he has actually just made conditions
in the economy much worse.
These are not just the views of an opposition party analysing weaknesses in
the government's position. The IMF, to which Gono has recently played such
court, has in the reports released yesterday slated the role of the Reserve
Bank in Zimbabwe's continued precipitous decline.
The IMF predicts that real GDP will contract by 7% per annum and that
inflation will reach 400% by the end of the year. So much for the Gono
"turnaround" and for the 80% inflation rate he promised by December -
inflation being the "number one enemy" that he claims to be fighting.
Why is the economy collapsing for the seventh consecutive year in a row only
in Zimbabwe and not the rest of Africa and inflation accelerating?
The main culprits, according to the IMF, are the steep decline in foreign
currency earnings and the lack of consistency in fiscal and monetary policy.
The failure to achieve an improvement in foreign currency earnings is
attributed by the IMF to the RBZ maintaining an overvalued exchange rate
regime which, even after recent changes, "remains highly restricted".
Accelerating inflation is fundamentally due to irresponsible increases in
the money supply, which the IMF says were "mainly due to the sharp increases
in RBZ's quasi-fiscal activities during 2004 and first half of 2005".
Gono has appropriated to himself not just the whole spectrum of economic
policy-making, but also its implementation - most notably in usurping the
fiscal functions of the Ministry of Finance.
His hubris might have been justified if he had had the ability to formulate
and execute a comprehensive stabilisation and recovery plan. Instead, the
effects of the piecemeal policies which he has introduced, then changed,
then reversed (as the IMF documents in detail in its Article IV report),
have led to a situation where the country's economic prospects could hardly
be more dismal.
In the face of the extremely tough criticism of the governor that is
contained in the IMF report, Gono seems like an errant schoolboy in his
anxiousness to win their approval. As a result, he has paid US$120 million
of IMF arrears (plus it was reported this week, another US$15 million)
thereby depriving desperate Zimbabweans of fuel, food, medicines and other
Furthermore, the foreign currency was appropriated from the accounts of
exporters, further undermining the willingness of the private sector to
attempt to export.
This statement is made despite the suspiciously detailed defence about the
origin of the IMF arrears repayment funds which Gono attempted to publicise
through the ever-willing Herald.
At the best of times, the fungibility of money makes such defences
meaningless. At the worst of times, which is where Zimbabwe is at present,
such approaches makes clear the willingness of the authorities to engage in
blatant lies in order to defend the indefensible.
Gono also tried to curry favour with the fund by introducing a dramatic
tightening of interest rates and a sharp depreciation of the Zimbabwe dollar
on the auction just before the IMF mission visited in August.
But without other elements of a coherent anti-inflationary package in place,
in particular with the enormous fiscal and quasi-fiscal deficits fuelling
dramatic money supply growth, these policies can only be self-defeating.
Higher inflation, lower export revenues, more shortages, more poverty and
despair are what are in store for Zimbabwe as long as Gono remains at the
Gono lacks both the capacity and the authority to formulate and implement
the comprehensive macroeconomic and structural reforms that are needed to
lay the basis for sustained recovery of the Zimbabwe economy. Before he can
do more damage, pushing Zimbabwe's hopes of economic recovery into an ever
more remote future, Gono should have the grace to resign.
* Tendai Biti is MDC secretary for economic affairs.
THOSE who have watched Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono
splashing trillions of dollars during his 23-month reign could be forgiven
for doubting the common saying: "money does not grow on trees".
He has been doling out money like it does grow on trees after all. Over a
period of 23 months, Gono has given out more than $23 trillion. This means
that since his appointment in December 2003, he has handed out an average of
$1 trillion every month, which translates to a massive $33 billion a day.
In December Gono will be two years old in the governor's office but with
nothing to show for it, although he has spent a fortune in his efforts to
revive the economy.
The results of this extravaganza have been disastrous because it is based on
the warped assumption that major sectors of the economy are crumbling
because they lack funding, analysts say.
However, the continued collapse of the economy, company closures and
galloping inflation show that money dished out has not translated into real
growth or at least stopped the hemorrhage in the economy.
The accelerated collapse of the economy, analysts say, is evidence that what
Zimbabwe needs is not a reckless injection of local currency, but an urgent
correction of economic and political fundamentals.
They say there is need to create a stable and predictable environment under
which business can operate.
A predictable environment, they say, means a stable local currency, clear
foreign currency laws and zero government interference in the market. It
also means policy consistence in government.
The analysts say unless the central bank and government start singing from
the same hymn book on key policies, the economy will remain stuck in the mud
no matter how much money the governor doles out.
They note that Gono can throw money at big problems but they will not go
away unless the politics of this country are corrected.
Zimbabwe has one of the highest political risk ratings because it has
continued to trample on property rights and wanton disregard of the rule of
Companies are arm-twisted to charge uneconomical prices for their products
as part of government's political gimmick to "cushion" the poor.
The political crisis and government's skewed economic policies therefore
make Gono's generous spending a waste of national resources that has since
started to boomerang with rising inflation due to increased money supply. It
has sunk the economy that he claims to be turning around.
Analysts say that Gono blundered in the first place by believing that money
fixes every problem. Almost all of the previous monetary reviews, save for
his inaugural one on December 18, 2003, have been accompanied with a new
money doling facility.
He kicked off the year 2004 on a high note giving $400 billion in liquidity
support to troubled banks, most of which still collapsed despite the capital
The figure grew more than $2 trillion with interest and was never recovered,
leaving a yawning gap in the treasury and the national savings.
Only two of the seven banks - Metropolitan and Intermarket - that received
liquidity support survived.
Trust, Royal and Barbican, some of the biggest beneficiaries of the
facility, collapsed. They were later forced into the Zimbabwe Allied Banking
Group (ZABG) whose future remains uncertain eight months after formation.
Time Bank is yet to come out of the woods while Century, which later merged
with CFX, is still limping.
Gono also gave more than $2 trillion under the Productive Sector Facility
(PSF) at heavily subsidised rates of 30%.
The money, as the governor claimed, was meant to boost production but the
situation in the agricultural and manufacturing sectors has worsened with
more companies closing shop and production plunging.
Despite receiving more than 36% of the funds under the facility, industry
has continued to collapse with recent reports from the Zimbabwe National
Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) saying capacity utilisation has slumped to 25%.
This is probably the lowest capacity level of utilisation in Zimbabwe's
industry since Independence in 1980. The lowest level hitherto was two years
ago when it reached 35%.
The agricultural sector, which has so far received more that $4 trillion
over the past two years, has continued down the cliff.
This year alone Gono has given out more than $3 trillion to the agricultural
sector but forecasts already show that Zimbabwe could have a serious food
shortage next year.
According to a document compiled by the research department of the central
bank itself, the country is going to produce about 750 000 tonnes of maize
next year against a national requirement of 1,8 million tonnes.
The document also says the country will produce less than 150 000 tonnes of
wheat this season, far less than the national requirement of 400 000 tonnes.
These shortages are forecast despite the fact that Gono has so far injected
more than $4 trillion into the sector.
Experts say no amount of money can resuscitate the aricultural sector unless
Zimbabwe regains its international market, restores property rights, stops
further land invasions and restores order in the sector.
"These are simple fundamentals that do not demand trillions," said economic
consultant Daniel Ndlela.
"It's the fundamentals that are wrong. By throwing money at every problem
they are stoking inflation, pillaging the value of the dollar, that is
dangerous," Ndlela said.
Perhaps the clearest example that money does not matter when fundamentals
are crooked, are the parastatals whose service delivery has not improved
despite receiving billions of dollars from the central bank.
Parastatals like the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings and the National
Railways of Zimbabwe have gobbled billions of dollars under the fund but
their fortunes have continued to dip. If anything, service at the NRZ has
worsened on the back of a bloated wage bill and incompetence.
Loans to the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa), the Zimbabwe Iron
and Steel Company (Zisco), Agriculture and Rural Development Authority
(Arda) and the Grain Marketing Board (GMB) have also not changed anything.
It is unclear whether these parastatals have repaid their loans.
Refusing to learn from past mistakes, Gono then came up with another $10
trillion fund, which he dubbed Parastatals and Local Authorities
Re-orientation Programme (Plarp).
Under Plarp, Gono gave out trillions to parastatals that had already failed
to service their loans under the PSF. Zesa Holdings and Zisco are reported
to be in line for a massive loan of $1 trillion each.
Ailing Air Zimbabwe, the NRZ and Arda will also receive trillion- dollar
Local authorities are also reported to have accessed funds but the service
is still atrocious. Service delivery in Harare, for example, is still
Ndlela said by pumping out money, Gono has fuelled inflation, helped
undermine the value of the dollar and reduced the value of labour.
"What he has done is to pillage the value of the labour that one puts into
the eight hours at work. In real terms, Zimbabwean workers now earn almost a
third of what they earned in January," said Ndlela.
Economist John Robertson said by throwing money at every problem Gono was
only dealing with symptoms of a broader crisis that needed a drastic policy
shift to solve.
"Lack of money is only a symptom. He has to deal with the problems that have
wrecked the economy in the first place," Robertson said.
"Companies in this country are suffering because there is no foreign
currency, fuel and power.
"No matter how much Zimbabwean dollars you give them, this problem will
never go away. It might postpone the problem but it will still be there."
He said Gono's profligacy has accelerated inflation. There are fears in the
market that inflation could increase to 500% by year-end.
Year-on-year inflation is around 265% and judging by the trend in the
economy, it is unlikely to end the year below 80% as predicted.
AS we wait for central bank governor Gideon Gono to announce his 2006
monetary policy statement this month, the IMF this week issued a damning
report on Zimbabwe, painting a bleak future for a country that has remained
mired in an intractable crisis for over five years.
Gono, a proponent of a now apparently delusional process of recovery, has,
despite all his feverish activity in trying to bring change, transparently
failed and there is no hope for his next monetary policy succeeding. The
nation has become tired of his blood and thunder speeches, veiled threats to
industry and commerce and war cries proclaiming "failure is not an option".
His number one enemy, inflation, has not been defeated but is rapidly
gaining ground. The country is in freefall as shown by all key economic
indicators: inflation which was 130% in January is now 264,8% and GDP should
fall by 7%.
Gono in January told us inflation figures of 50-80% were achievable by
year-end. That is not going to happen in the next 12 weeks before New Year.
The IMF has said in its report that inflation could rise to over 400% by the
end of the year. There is no greater illustration of failure, whatever the
excuse. Failure is indeed no longer an option. It has become a stark reality
and it is time for the governor to raise the white flag.
In his next policy, Gono should not pretend that things can work out in the
current political environment. He should not pretend that the economy is
turning the corner because of the country's reduction of arrears to the IMF.
Evidence abounds that life is much tougher than it was in January when he
presented his 2005 projection which promised us a better standard of living.
There is no need for intricate scientific formulae to prove this. In
January, a loaf of bread cost $3 500. Today, workers, especially civil
servants whose salaries have not moved since then, need to fork out $26 000
for the same loaf. Milk was $3 720 and now costs up to $20 000. Commuters
were paying $3 000 to get to work; they now need $15 000 for a single trip.
Those in Norton need as much as $50 000 for a single trip. That is an
economy on the recovery path? Only for the completely delusional.
The IMF is clear on what needs to be done. It has said Zimbabwe needs a
broad package of economic policies and reforms to lower inflation and boost
"Without a bold change in policy direction, the economic outlook will remain
bleak, with particularly detrimental effects on the poorest segments of the
population," the IMF said.
We do not expect to see a bold policy decision that will have a bearing on
this economy as long as the government pursues knee-jerk policies which only
provoke international condemnation. Since the passage of the Constitutional
Amendment Number 17, state agents, diplomats and politicians have reportedly
led fresh invasions of farms. Gono has described the invaders as "criminals"
but no one has been arrested. These criminals act with impunity and are
directed at the highest levels.
With less than a month to go before the onset of the rainy season, Gono's
"command agriculture" scheme as set out in January, is way behind schedule.
All projections seem to suggest that preparations for the 2005-2006 crop are
a shambles. His wish to have full uptake in the A2 sector and full
utilisation of machinery has remained an illusion. There was even more chaos
on the land last week when the courts ruled that all offer letters issued to
resettled farmers were null and void following the constitutional amendment.
In January Gono announced plans to boost exports to surpass last year's
earnings figures. We recall the promises by the central bank to come up with
a balanced approach to "restore exporter viability, at the same time
minimising inflationary impulses and import costs". Successes on this front
are minuscule as industry is relying on the parallel market to finance
imports of inputs and machinery. It is most unlikely that the foreign
currency receipts will reach the projected US$3,1 billion mark.
The governor's wish to contain the budget deficit has remained unfulfilled
as government's appetite to spend has remained high. Elsewhere in this
edition we carry the story of government's spendfest on motor vehicles to be
paid for in forex when the country does not have fuel.
At the end of his policy speech in January, Gono reminded us of the pains of
2003 and 2004. These included "fuel queues that had become a permanent
feature in our cities", electricity blackouts, delayed departures due to
unavailability of Jet A1 fuel, shortages of basic commodities and the
rampant parallel market.
He told us: "Surely as a committed, a dedicated and united people, we cannot
afford to, nor allow ourselves to go back to this dark and sad era of our
time, at a time when history will record that the nation's morale sank to
its lowest point ever recorded, a period when all hope seemed to have
evaporated in thin air."
Well, we're back there now.
The gullible cheered his every word and endlessly repeated the refrain about
turning the corner. But are we not where we were in 2004 if not worse? It is
one thing not to know what to do and fail but quite another to know what to
do and not be allowed to do it. Gono undoubtedly knows what has to be done
but the ignoramuses around the president have stuck to their poisonous
Mr Governor, no more promises. Stop misleading the public on the true state
of the economy. Either fix it or go.
By Denford Magora
PRESIDENT Mugabe's retirement in 2008, as announced by him twice now, is
actually a non-event.
It is a non-event because he has also said that he will not be retiring from
politics "until the Almighty says enough is enough".
This means, even after he stops being president, Mugabe will remain "active
in politics", an issue which calls for debate. It is important because Zanu
PF is likely to continue running the country even after President Mugabe
leaves the presidency.
If, after he retires, Mugabe remains an active politician as he is
threatening, then the dangers of this move should be fully explored now.
If Mugabe remains active in politics, it means he will remain active in Zanu
PF. He will be active in shaping party policy as he seeks to secure his
legacy from outside of Munhumutapa Building.
He will, as a result, still retain the power to make or break careers in
Zanu PF and, by extension, also in government.
Within the party Mugabe remains a towering figure, with massive, almost
(almost, I said) unanimous support within the ranks of Zanu PF members.
Personally, he can count on the allegiance of the armed forces and virtually
all of the power factions within the ruling party. His influence over these
organs and factions of the state is unlikely to be diminished by leaving
It means no one will get into office if an ex-president Mugabe does not want
them to. No one would even dream of becoming president of the party or the
country without his blessing.
Knowing the man as we do, we can also be certain that he will continue to
influence government policy from beyond "retirement", as long as Zanu PF
continues in power.
Any minister or bureaucrat who pushes through policies a "former President
Mugabe" disapproves of will certainly lose their job.
Ministers will be made to pay for any transgressions against the former
president at the Zanu PF Congress, where they could easily be voted out into
the political wilderness.
More worrying though, is the risk of an alternative government forming in
the shadows. With the former president still active in politics, he would
most likely attract a motley crew of hangers-on. These people in his
immediate circle will make it known to ministers, civil servants and the
"leadership" of the country at that time what the old man is happy about or
not, what he supports and what he opposes, who he likes and who he does not,
what he wants and what he wants done.
The consequences of defying the former president will be known to all. If
need be, examples will be made out of some hapless souls just to drive the
In essence, therefore, the risk is that the president will, even in
retirement, remain de facto president of both the party and the state. But
only if he allows it.
The determining factor will be how the president himself views his
"retirement". All indications at the moment are that he would retire from
running the country only in name. He will move to the background, from
whence he would direct the affairs of the party and the state.
Unfortunately, if the president decides to remain active in politics "until
the Almighty says enough is enough", it means he becomes the puppet master
behind the curtain of power and our problems with the rest of the world will
I have said it before and I think it bears repeating: Zimbabweans have shown
that they do not have the stomach for a fight, no matter what is done to
them. The shortages, inflation, breakdown of civil services and amenities
and everything negative we have seen so far would have driven any other
people to embark on a war of attrition with their rulers.
Any other people would have brought the nation to a halt and directed all
their efforts at ridding themselves of those who are putting them through
hell. But in Zimbabwe, people cry that their hands are tied, they do not
want to die "for nothing", they are powerless etc.
And this means that our rulers now know that they can get away with
Zimbabweans, even if they should attempt to protest, will be beaten up just
once and immediately retreat to their homes, from where they will write
eloquently insulting letters to the editor. That will not change much. So,
another Zanu PF president knows exactly what he has to do to retain power.
Mugabe will still be there to give pointers on how this should be done,
under the guise of "remaining active in politics". The army will still be
there for Zanu PF, as will the police and all the other organs of state that
have been loaded with Zanu PF loyalists.
By hook or by crook, therefore, Zanu PF will remain the party in power even
after the president has "retired".
By hook or by crook, they will hang on to that power, doing what they have
to do to make sure that the people remain as timid, cowardly and miserable
We should also forget about the rest of the world coming to our rescue. The
West has played all its cards. It has nothing left to offer the people of
Zimbabwe. The only card they have left is the imposition of comprehensive
sanctions against a Zimbabwe no longer ruled by Mugabe but still ruled by
But widening the scope of the sanctions will certainly not bring any joy.
Those in power will use the little resources still available to the state to
widen the scope of their patronage, ensuring that the army, the police and
other organs of the state remain faithful to the Zanu PF administration at
Because Zimbabweans are cowardly, they will allow this to happen and simply
try to outdo each other in enjoying the patronage. Those with no access to
the patronage will continue suffering, pleading tied hands, repression and
For this reason, I believe that the president, if he is really serious about
retiring, should be seen to be doing so. His involvement in politics after
retirement should only be at the invitation of the new government - whether
it is Zanu PF or any other party.
He should publicly make it known that he will not seek to influence the
running of the country after he has retired. He should also make it known
that, after he retires, no one will be entitled to speak for him, whether in
private or in public.
He should inform the nation that, when he has something to say, he will say
it himself and anyone asking for things to be done "for the old man" will be
talking rubbish and should be ignored by the party and the state.
He should thank the army and the war veterans and the police for their
support of him and tell them that their loyalty after he retires will lie
with the state and its new rulers.
Better still, the president could (and, in my opinion, should) make it known
what he means by remaining active in politics. What limits will he set for
himself, knowing full well that a new Zanu PF president would not dare defy
What would he be prepared to do and where would he draw the line? Will he
expect the country to be run as though he is still at the helm, or will he
allow a new Zanu PF and state president to be their own man or woman, to
make decisions without fear of repercussions except from the people, in whom
true power lies?
What of it, Comrade President? Will you publicly disown any future
pretenders and charlatans who would attempt to use your name to get things
done in certain ways in government?
Will you, after you retire, allow your name to be used to advance personal
agendas and to promote factionalism in the state and in the party?
Or will you allow the new leaders a free hand.
* Denford Magora is a Harare-based marketing executive.
IN a development that is likely to have a major bearing on the health
delivery system in Chipinge, the only remaining doctor in the area has been
forced to abandon her patients after being chased off her farm.
Speaking at a function to mark German national day on Monday, Karin
Blumberger-Sauertieg, the German ambassador to Zimbabwe, announced that the
only doctor in the eastern town had left.
Blumberger-Sauertieg expressed concern at the deteriorating economic
situation in the country.
"Last week the only doctor in Chipinge, German national Dr Petra Clowes, was
chased away from her home and her patients," Blumberger-Sauertieg told
Although she did not tell her audience who had evicted Petra from Chipinge,
it has since emerged that Clowes was the wife of a farm manager on one of
"As long-standing friends of Zimbabwe we cannot hide our great concerns
about the present situation and the difficulties Zimbabwe is facing and we
would like to express our hopes that all men and women in Zimbabwe will
again be able to enjoy the welfare and the wellbeing they deserve and the
wisdom and dedication of their leaders in order to achieve this aim," she
She reminded her audience that Lutheran Protestants were celebrating the
30th anniversary of the foundation of the Lutheran Church in Harare with its
motto: "Be tolerant with one another."
"What a wonderful guideline for all Zimbabweans - whatever their political
orientation, whatever the colour of their skin - in the spirit of dialogue
and mutual respect," the ambassador said.
She commented on the presence of German products in the country but lamented
their gross underutilisation, especially vehicles. She said: "The label
'Made in Germany' stands for experience on the world's markets and top
quality products. I am happy to see so many fast German cars on Zimbabwean
streets - unfortunately there is not enough fuel to keep them running,"
"Since Independence the German taxpayer contributed more than 1 billion
euros for bilateral and multilateral programmes. Until recently my country
was the third largest trading partner."
She noted that today, the people from her country wrote one of the "most
beautiful chapters" in history after they defeated a vile dictatorship and
won their fight for freedom.
She said German reunification in 1989 marked the end of the cold war, which
changed Europe as Germany turned from a frontline state to a position in the
heart of Europe.
"Without our neighbours and friends we would never have achieved it. West
Germany brought us a positive contribution to unification - its close
integration in the western community of values, solid democratic
institutions and economic power while East Germany brought with it an
overwhelming desire for transformation and change," she said.
"Today, not all the problems are solved, unemployment is still high, but our
country has a good name in the world: it stands for hard work and
organisational talent; for a great cultural nation and its masterworks."
MORE farmers were this week ordered off their properties in the Glen Forest
area north of Harare as the fresh wave of farm invasions intensifies.
In several cases the farm invaders are said to have claimed to be members of
the Land Audit Committee.
Groups of people appeared at farms in the Glen Forest, Welston area, north
of Harare, demanding that the owners hand over keys to various dwellings and
According to a Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) update, affected farmers
contacted Mashonaland Central governor Ray Kaukonde, who initially gave
instructions through Arex that the invasions should cease forthwith.
The invasions stopped for a short while, but resumed later, prompting
affected farmers to make further appeals to the governor.
The CFU said two farmers had been ordered to leave their properties by the
end of October in the Bindura district.
Only 15 of the original 40 farmers in the Headlands, Rusape and Nyazura
areas of Makoni district remain after a cabinet minister in the area ordered
that the rest must cease operations and vacate their farms.
Another farmer, a Mr Barnard, was ordered to leave his property by today.
Five farmers in the Chipinge district have been forced off their properties.
They were given only a few hours in which to pack up personal possessions,
and they were not allowed to remove any of their farm equipment. One farmer
was severely beaten and another assaulted.
The uncertainty among farmers following notices to vacate their properties
has affected land preparations.
Currently, there has been very little land preparation for the coming summer
due to the severe fuel shortage. Fertilisers and chemicals are also in short
supply although there are promises that the situation will improve.
The invasions have erupted hard on the heels of a landmark judgement
delivered recently by Justice Patel in the High Court in favour of Kenmast
Farming (Pvt) Ltd nullifying offer letters issued to individuals for
specific land or property before the confirmation of their acquisition by
the Administrative Court or prior to the September 14 Constitutional
THE Media and Information Commission (MIC) has been hit by serious
differences on its board over the closure of newspapers, resulting in the
resignation of commissioner Jonathan Maphenduka, the Zimbabwe Independent
Maphenduka, a career journalist and former Chronicle staffer, was nominated
to the MIC rather controversially as a representative of journalists.
His resignation letter, dated August 18 and sent to Information permanent
secretary George Charamba, said the decision to close down newspapers "does
not add strength to Zimbabwe's case for democracy".
He described the MIC's actions as "ill-advised and counter-productive".
The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), under which
the MIC operates, was being applied in a "flawed manner", he said.
Maphenduka said Zimbabwe was under siege from the "rabid hostility" of a
"group of allies which are determined to bring this country to its knees".
But this didn't justify denying newspapers the right to publish, he said.
MIC executive chairman Tafataona Mahoso yesterday insisted that Maphenduka
was still a board member of the commission.
"We have not been told (by the Ministry of Information) that he has
resigned," said Mahoso. "In any case, it (resignation) is not automatic. He
has to serve a notice period and the parent ministry must accept his
"As far as I am concerned he is still a member of the board," said Mahoso.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Maphenduka said: "My resignation letter of
10 August stands but I have not received a response from the Ministry of
He said denying newspapers the right to publish was wrong.
"Without suggesting in any way Zimbabwe should meekly throw in the towel,"
said Maphenduka in the letter, "I do not however subscribe to the idea that
denying newspapers the right to publish, amid this hostile environment, is
the best way of counteracting the rabid hostility besetting our beloved and
He added: "It must be obvious to all that the decisions of the commission
regarding these newspapers at this most opportune time are shorn of
discretion and are therefore ill-advised and counterproductive."
The MIC has cancelled operating licences for the Tribune and the Weekly
Times and denied Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe licences to publish.
Maphenduka said he supported the idea of regulating the media through Aippa
as long as the system was not flawed. "Is the letter and spirit of Aippa
such that it leaves the commission no option to be judicious?" said
Maphenduka. "I cannot therefore with a clear conscience continue to serve as
a member of the commission, and hereby tender my resignation." - Staff
THE Media Institute of Southern Africa (Misa) has challenged government, the
Mirror group and deposed founding editor Dr Ibbo Mandaza to come clean on
the involvement of the Central Intelligence Organisation in the media house.
In a statement, Misa-Zimbabwe chairman Thomas Deve said they had been
following with great concern and anxiety the unfolding saga at the Daily
Mirror and Sunday Mirror on the alleged covert operations by the CIO to
control the "privately-run" Mirror Newspapers Group.
"The government, group chairman Jonathan Kadzura and Dr Mandaza owe the
nation, the Mirror group's workers and journalists, and the entire media
community an explanation as millions of taxpayers' money could have been
channelled into the Mirror group through the alleged involvement of the
CIO," Deve said.
"It is also our strong view that it is Dr Mandaza's professional and ethical
obligation and responsibility to come out in the open and set the record
straight, more so in the wake of his suspension from the publishing
He said that in the spirit of fairness, transparency and accountability, it
was indeed a great betrayal of the Mirror group's workers, taxpayers and the
nation at large to continue to be kept in the dark as this only fuels
speculation and suspicions that someone has something to hide.
"Our concern has been heightened by the lack of verifiable information
pertaining to events at the beleaguered newspaper group which has seen the
suspension of the editor-in-chief Dr Ibbo Mandaza, and his deputy Alexander
Kanengoni, after the Zimbabwe Independent broke the story of the alleged CIO
involvement," Deve said.
"Given the sensitive nature of the allegations and inherent ramifications
for media freedom and editorial independence, one would have expected a
swift response from Dr Mandaza, the Media and Information Commission and the
responsible ministry, to allay any fears and suspicions."
He said as the founding group CEO and editor-in-chief, Mandaza's seeming
dithering and prevarication on the true nature of events at the newspaper
group had only served to add to the mystery.
"Suffice it to say the alleged involvement of the CIO vitiates the 1991
Windhoek Declaration ratified by Zimbabwe on the need to promote free,
independent and pluralistic media," he said.
"Misa-Zimbabwe reiterates that the government and the security arms of the
state have no business taking over privately-owned newspapers as they play a
vital role in fostering diverse views in the service of democracy and
development," Deve said. - Staff Writer.
PROMINENT academic and publisher Ibbo Mandaza was recently taken to task by
state security agents for allegedly writing the damning United Nations (UN)
report on Operation Murambatsvina which exposed the government to
This comes against a background of disclosures this week that the Central
Intelligence Organisation (CIO) was behind the catastrophic demolition
An article written by government's overseas spin-doctor, New African
magazine editor Baffour Ankomah, carried by the state-owned Herald, said the
CIO designed the widely condemned operation which the UN said displaced at
least 700 000 people and affected 2,4 million.
Ankomah said the CIO designed Murambatsvina to pre-empt a foreign-induced
uprising against President Robert Mugabe's regime after initial moves to
incite a revolt in reaction to accusations of electoral fraud in the
aftermath of the disputed March general election failed.
Sources said Ankomah, who visited Harare in an all-government paid trip in
August, was briefed about the CIO plot by a senior official in the
Information ministry. The CIO was angry with the official, it was said.
Opposition MPs have called for a commission of inquiry to ascertain the
architects of the operation and have them prosecuted. Independent MP
Jonathan Moyo said yesterday the CIO had through Murambatsvina - which he
described as a "military operation" - revived a "reign of terror reminiscent
of the Gukurahundi days".
Sources said Mandaza was quizzed by telephone by CIO director-general
Happyton Bonyongwe over allegations that he wrote UN secretary-general Kofi
Annan's envoy Anna Kajumulo Tibaijuka's report on the operation.
Sources said Bonyongwe called Mandaza on August 2 to grill him over the
report which riled Mugabe and ministers. Mandaza, difficult to interview
since the Mediagate scandal, yesterday confirmed the issue.
"The issue was highlighted at the highest level and I was questioned by the
state security agents by telephone during the Heroes Day holidays," he said.
"I was asked whether or not I had met Tibaijuka while she was here. I said I
did not meet her nor was I able to speak to her even though it is true that
we tried to contact each other because she was my student at the University
of Dar es Salaam.
"I heard the allegation that I had written the report or assisted in its
writing but that's entirely untrue and baseless. What is true is that I met
some members of her team because they wanted to see me after reading my
articles and books," he said.
Mandaza said he only helped the Tibaijuka team to contextualise issues.
"I told the team that it was not true the operation was only targeted at
opposition supporters because Zanu PF members were also affected," he said.
"But the allegation persisted and there seems to be a connection between
that claim and attempts to remove me from the Mirror newspapers."
ZANU PF's printing flagship, Jongwe Printers, is reeling under financial
stress following the abuse of a $17,5 billion loan facility from the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for the purchase of a printing press.
Former managing director, Tawanda Murerekwa, was dismissed for bungling the
purchase deal which saw the company acquire a printing press limited to
printing school exercise books using local paper.
The press can only print newspapers using expensive imported paper.
Jongwe Printing & Publishing (Pvt) Ltd, a company run by the ruling party,
received the first loan installment of $12,5 billion under the Public Sector
Fund (PSF) meant for the purchase of a printing press. Three months later in
April it received an additional $5 billion for the same purpose.
Sources say Murerekwa, who ran the company single-handedly before he hired
three other people to assist him, made several trips abroad to source a
printing press. One of the financial managers, Febbie Shonhiwa, also
On other trips he would take along disgraced Zanu PF Manicaland provincial
chairman, Mike Madiro, to look for a printing press.
Madiro was part of the Jongwe Printers board.
The trips resulted in the purchase of a press unsuitable for producing
Sources say Jongwe Printers then went into producing exercise books under
the Genius brand name. The venture collapsed despite an extensive
advertising campaign on both radio and television for the schoolbooks.
A large stock of unsold exercise books remains piled in a warehouse at the
printer's premises, the sources say.
"What has surprised many people at the company is that soon after Murerekwa
was dismissed in March he imported six long-haul vehicle horses which he
collected from Durban. The party has not done anything to recover the money
borrowed from the RBZ under PSF," the source said adding: "the company is
reeling under serious debt stress."
An equal number of light trucks purchased purportedly for newspaper
distribution remain unacccounted for since the managing director's
Zanu PF secretary for publicity, Dr Nathan Shamuyarira, who is the sole
signatory to cheques and payments made by Jongwe Printing & Publishing
Company, refused to shed light on the printing press deal. Neither would he
comment on the PSF loan or the circumstances under which Jongwe Printers
parted ways with its managing director.
"Ask Murerekwa. We wrote him a letter of dismissal and I cannot comment
beyond that," Shamuyarira said when asked what action the party was taking
to rationalise the bungled deal.
Sources say one of the three managers hired by Murerekwa, a Mr Gundu, was
contemplating resigning as well but it was not clear at the time whether the
resignation is linked to the intricate scam that led to Murerekwa's
Last month Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono revealed that several
companies, which had borrowed money under the PSF facility, had not repaid
their loans. Gono was reacting to criticism expressed by captains of
industry at the recently ended CZI congress fingering RBZ of failing to
provide foreign currency to commerce and industry.
IN what appears to be an admission of his botched land reform, President
Robert Mugabe says he has learnt "a host of lessons" from the land seizures
which have ruined the country's agricultural base with output continuing to
Mugabe said the best lesson he has learnt was the need to use scientific
methods to enhance agricultural productivity and economic development.
"Having restored land to the people," said Mugabe. "We have learnt a host of
lessons, all pointing to the challenge of ensuring food security for the
Mugabe was speaking at the just-ended food security conference attended by
African ministers, including representatives from the Food and Agriculture
Organisation (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO) on Monday.
He added: "Chief among these is that of engaging more scientific methods to
ensure greater productivity of all the resettled land. The droughts I have
made reference to earlier have raised the need for us to plan and embark on
a systematic national irrigation development programme."
His remarks, which came against a background of food shortages, are widely
seen as a tacit admission of the mistakes made during the disastrous land
redistribution exercise that has precipitated an economic and agricultural
Irrigation systems have been vandalised or stolen. Due to haphazard land
reforms, the country has been transformed from being a net producer of maize
and other grains to a net importer of grains.
At least two million people have been surviving on donor food aid which
Mugabe derided at the conference. He said food aid programmes caused
food-borne diseases. Food agencies came to the rescue in the aftermath of
The country is facing another poor agricultural season after below-capacity
seed production and planting, thus throwing out prospects of a meaningful
harvest. According to a document on "Financing and Pricing of Maize and
Wheat" prepared by the central bank last month, the country requires about
1,8 million tonnes of maize a year to meet national requirements. The
central bank projects a gloomy output for this season set at a paltry 750
000 tonnes, giving a massive deficit of 1 050 000 tonnes.
While claiming to have learnt lessons from his land reform programme, Mugabe
also defended the exercise, saying it was designed to "enhance food security
and empower our people". He added that land reform was not intended to
dispossess "those who through colonialism were in possession".
However, the punitive Constitutional Amendment Bill (No 17) which Mugabe
recently promulgated into law, is set to derail government's so-called
efforts to revive agriculture since land has been turned into a state asset
and is likely to be appropriated on the basis of political patronage.
Please ignore this story which was erroneously released on 6 October. It contains factual errors and has been deleted from IRIN's web site.
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