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EC ready to fund Zim land audit

by Cuthbert Nzou Friday 09 October 2009

HARARE - The European Commission (EC) is ready to fund an audit of President
Robert Mugabe's chaotic and often violent land reform programme that is a
key step to resolving Zimbabwe's thorny land dispute, a top EC official said

Head of the EC delegation to Zimbabwe Xavier Marchal said: "We are ready to
assist the government to implement an inclusive, transparent, and
comprehensive land audit . . . which should be aimed at resolving the land
issue. This is the bigger picture, which cannot be ignored if Zimbabwe's
agriculture is to become highly successful again."

Mugabe's seizure of white-owned farmland for redistribution to landless
blacks is among key issues that have soured relations with Brussels and seen
European Union member-countries cut direct support to Harare while imposing
visa and financial bans on the Zimbabwean leader and his top allies.

A coalition government formed by Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
seven months ago has promised to undertake a comprehensive land audit that
should set the stage for an orderly and equitable agrarian reform programme.
But the administration has shelved the audit because of lack of resources.

Lands minister Herbert Murerwa last month said the government needed US$30
million to carry out the land audit, but money which Harare does not have.

While promising to help, Marchal also called on the Zimbabwean government to
take responsibility for the mess in the agricultural sector triggered by
Mugabe's land reforms.

He said: "Government has to take its responsibilities. The decline in the
agricultural production is indeed related to failing government polices
associated to issues relating to the way the land and agrarian reform
programme has been conducted. These need to be addressed by government."

Mugabe, who seized white farm without paying saying the land was stolen from
blacks in the first place, denies his land reforms ruined agriculture and
instead blames poor weather and Western sanctions that he says crippled the
economy's capacity to produce fertilizer and other agricultural inputs.

But critics blame Mugabe's land reforms for plunging Zimbabwe into food
shortages after he failed to support black villagers resettled on former
white farms to maintain production. In addition, critics say Mugabe's
cronies - and not ordinary peasants - benefited the most from farm seizures
with some of them ending up with as many as six farms each against the
government's stated one-man-one-farm policy.

Meanwhile Marchal, who was addressing an EU food facility stakeholders
meeting in Harare, said the EC will provide 25 percent of Zimbabwe's
fertiliser needs this agricultural season as part of efforts to lift output
and ensure food security.

He said through the Food Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Zimbabwe would
receive Euro 15 million for fertiliser requirements.

"This year, EC on behalf of EU, will provide around 25 percent of all
fertilisers needs for smallholder farmers. Most of this is done through
 FAO," Marchal said.

He explained that the farm support programme was part of a wider programme
to moving Zimbabwe from dependency on "food aid to food security" while
building self-reliance at small holder farmer level. - ZimOnline

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Lifting of sanctions hinges on reforms: UK

by Hendricks Chizhanje Friday 09 October 2009

HARARE - Britain will only consider lifting targeted sanctions against
Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe and his ZANU PF party top brass after
Harare implements significant reforms to genuinely share power with Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC party, an embassy spokesperson has said.

President Robert Mugabe, in an address to Parliament on Tuesday, toned down
his rhetoric against Western governments whom he blames for orchestrating
the country's demise and implored them to remove the "illegal sanctions",
which he said were hurting the people and the country's economy.

Mugabe said Zimbabwe was ready to begin on a new chapter of "friendly
relations" with Western countries and move away from hostilities of the past

But Keith Scott, spokesperson for the British embassy in Harare said on
Thursday while his country welcomes Mugabe's commitment to re-engage Western
governments the decision to lift sanctions will be influenced by reforms
undertaken in the country and the full implementation of the Global
Political Agreement (GPA) that gave birth to the February unity government.

"We welcome President Mugabe's commitment to re-engage the West and the
commitment by all of Zimbabwe's leaders to implement the reforms they agreed
to in the Global Political Agreement and to deliver basic services to
Zimbabwe's people . . . The extent of Britain's future support will depend
on progress by the inclusive government in implementing the Global Political
Agreement . . . Our position on the targeted measures will only be
influenced by evidence of real reform on the ground," Scott told ZimOnline.

Scott disputed Mugabe's claims that the targeted sanctions were hurting
ordinary Zimbabweans and the economy.

"The United Kingdom has no unilateral or economic sanctions against
Zimbabwe. The current range of European Union targeted measures is directed
against those 203 individuals and 40 organisations in Zimbabwe responsible
for human rights abuses, corruption and undermining the rule of law. The
measures have no adverse effect on ordinary people or humanitarian
assistance to Zimbabwe," he said.

On Wednesday, the United States (US) reacted coolly to Mugabe's overture for
better ties, saying he should end political arrests and media censorship and
honour the GPA.

The US also urged Mugabe to end "politicised arrests and prosecutions and
often violent land seizures" as well as to replace what it described as
Zimbabwe's "corrupt attorney general and reserve bank governor".

Several Western nations including the European Union (EU), the United States
(US) and Canada imposed sanctions on Mugabe and his ZANU PF party inner
circle in 2002 protesting against alleged human rights abuses by Harare.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai formed a power-sharing government to end a political
stalemate after inconclusive elections last year and pledged to work
together to revive the economy that had been in decline for the past decade.

The unity government has undertaken to end the country's international
isolation and repair ties with Western countries including the EU, the
Commonwealth grouping of former British colonies, International Monetary
Fund (IMF) and the World Bank for possible resumption of financial
support. - ZimOnline

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Arrest Warrant Issued for Zimbabwe Minister Who Shrugs Off Subpoena

By Blessing Zulu
08 October 2009

A magistrate in Zimbabwe's Mashonaland West province capital of Chinhoyi has
issued an arrest warrant against Didymus Mutasa, minister of state for
security in President Robert Mugabe's office, who failed to heed a subpoena
to testify in a land-related case.

Mutasa, formerly Minister of Land, was called by a defense lawyer to testify
in the case of a white commercial farmer charged with refusing to vacate
state land. Mutasa was called upon to testify Tuesday, but instead sent
lawyer Itai Ndudzo to say he would not come.

Commercial farmer Robert Mckersie has refused to leave Chipungu farm in
Manghura to make way for a newly resettled farmer under the decade-old land
reform program.

Mckersie's lawyer, Thabani Mpofu, successfully sought a warrant for the
arrest of Mutasa for the minister's failure to respond to the subpoena. But
Harare lawyers said there is nothing the police can do as there is no rule
of law and Mutasa in effect enjoys impunity.

Mutasa, explaining his decision to reporter Blessing Zulu of VOA's Studio 7
for Zimbabwe, said the judicial system has been compromised by enemies of
the state.

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Mutasa says magistrate "very stupid"

October 9, 2009

HARARE- Didymus Mutasa, has said a Chinhoyi magistrate was 'very stupid' to
issue him with a warrant of arrest after the minister failed to appear in
court to testify in a case involving a Mhangura commercial farmer.

Magistrate Ngoni Nduna issued the warrant after Mutasa, the Minister of
State for Presidential Affairs,  failed to appear in court to testify as a
defence witness in the trial of the farmer, Robert Mckersie.

Mutasa had been a subpoenaed to give evidence in defence of Mckersie on
Tuesday. Instead, he sent his lawyer, Itai Ndudzo of Mutamangira and
Associates, to inform the court that he could not attend.

Mutasa said: "They want me to and give evidence against myself because, as
you know, I was the minister of lands before. I am no longer minister of
lands, and they are accusing me of refusing to give someone an offer letter.

"But my argument is how can I do that or how could I do that when in fact I
was getting land away from that person."

Advocate Thabani Mpofu, the defence lawyer, applied for the minister to be
issued with a warrant of arrest after he failed to appear in court.
Mpofu insisted Mutasa he had no plausible reason to miss the hearing as he
had been properly served with the subpoena. He argued that Mutasa was simply
disobeying it.

Mutasa is one of the staunchest supporters of President Robert Mugabe Herald
Matura, the prosecutor, argued that lawyer Ndudzo should be heard on behalf
of the minister.

But the court ruled that Ndudzo had no right to be heard in the proceedings.
Magistrate Nduna issued the warrant of arrest. By all indications, the
warrant was not executed.

Mutasa said he would go to court and argue that he could not testify against

"We are going to Chinhoyi to the same court tomorrow," he said, "and that
position will be communicated, and I hope we will be able to tell the
magistrate that he was very stupid."

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Media Reform in Zimbabwe Proceeds at Halting Pace Despite Official Agenda

By Sandra Nyaira
08 October 2009

Hopes for media reform in Zimbabwe ran high in February with the
installation of a national unity government, prompting donors such as the
United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization or Unesco
to sponsor a forum to promote discussion by editors of state-run and
independent print, broadcast and Web media outlets.

That Unesco-sponsored conference opened this week - but amidst a furor over
Information Minister Webster Shamu's unilateral announcement late last week
of appointments to six media boards which included a number of former senior
military officers.

Media observers said the appointments boded ill for reform in the sector, in
particular that of Tafataona Mahoso, former chairman of the Media and
Information Commission, responsible for the 2003 closure of the Daily News,
to head the Broadcasting Authority.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai declared the appointments "irregular,"
saying Shamu had exceeded his authority. But the minister insisted they fell
within his mandate.

Opening the Unesco meeting Tuesday, George Charamba, Information Ministry
permanent secretary and a key advisor to President Robert Mugabe, saying the
media environment has become highly politicized, threatened to arrest the
publisher of the Zimbabwe Independent and its staff if they proceeded with
plans to launch a new daily paper called Newsday.

Former Daily NewsEditor Geoff Nyarota, now publisher of the U.S.-based
online Zimbabwe Times, returned to Zimbabwe after five years exile to attend
the Unesco event. He was one of several exiled Zimbabwean invited to attend
a conference session on "Building Bridges and Closing Gaps - An Editors'
Dialogue Towards Common Ground."

For perspective on Zimbabwean media reform, seemingly stalled, reporter
Sandra Nyaira of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe turned to Zimbabwe Independent
Special Projects Editor Iden Wetherell and Bright Matonga, a former deputy
minister of information.

Wetherell said the current media environment disheartening as there has been
little real sign of commitment to reform from the uncomfortable unity
government combining President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF with the Movement for
Democratic Change formations of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy
Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.

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Former Zimbabwe Minister Defends ZANU-PF Media Laws

By James Butty
09 October 2009

Former Zimbabwe Information Minister Jonathan Moyo, architect of the
country's harsh media laws, has said if given another chance as a public
official he would have done certain things differently and even better.

But he defended the controversial media laws, saying they were created and
remain on the books because they are good for Zimbabwe.

"Clearly, there are things I would have done differently or even better, but
as to the laws, we are a democracy. Whatever the detractors say, it's not
possible in a democracy for one individual to write any laws. Secondly,
those laws.are still on our books some five years after I left government.
Surely. they are there because they are good for Zimbabwe," he said.

Moyo said criticism of the media laws he helped enact has nothing to do with
their substance but rather based on hatred for him.

"If I were to propose love as the law of Zimbabwe, those detractors would
find something wrong. Even if I gave them the Bible and said the entire
Bible is now going to be the law, as long as that proposal will be coming
from me, those particular detractors will think the Bible is a devil's
document," he said.

Moyo, who resigned from Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF party five years ago was
accepted back into the party last week.

He said while he might have left ZANU-PF in flesh, he never left in spirit.

"One gets associated with a political party at the level of ideology and
principle, and my ideological affiliation with ZANU-PF has not changed, but
there had been some misunderstandings on issues of strategy, tactics and
personality. And I had been considered to have expelled myself. So there has
never been really a formal process of the party expelling me," he said.

Moyo is the only independent member in Zimbabwe's 210-seat parliament where
the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has a slim one seat majority.

But he denied he was invited back to give ZANU-PF an additional
parliamentary seat.

"The fact of the matter is that this is an expression of my freedom of
association which has nothing to do with the numbers in parliament. I must
say though it's not true that the MDC has a majority in parliament. There
are three political parties that make up the government of national unity in
Zimbabwe. None of them has a majority," Moyo said.

Moyo called for support for Zimbabwe's unity government.

"Clearly, there has been a dramatic reduction of political tension in our
country.The fact that we have a government of national unity, which by and
large has shown the capacity and willingness for Zimbabweans to work
together means that everyone else who really means well and wishes our
country well should support it," Moyo said.

He said while "considerable effort and achievement" have been made, those
efforts and achievement continue to be undermined by what Moyo called
"illegal sanctions" by Western countries.

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Zim govt threatens to repossess unused mining claims

By: Barnabas Thondhlana
9th October 2009

Zimbabwe is conducting an audit of the mining industry with a view to
repossessing all mining claims that are being held for speculative purposes,
reports Mines and Mining Development Minister Obert Mpofu.

He says his Ministry has discovered that some big mines have liter- ally
surrendered their claims to panners and are assisting in the smuggling of
minerals out of the country.

"I know of some big mines that are in the habit of allowing panners to do
the mining on their claims," he says. "We are saying that should end. Those
who hold claims should use them or risk losing them to government and people
who are serious about mining.

"It is true that government may be losing money to these unscrupulous mines
and we are going to carry out an audit that will determine and reflect the
true picture of who is doing what, where and how. Those who are allowing
panners to mine on their claims are not only causing environmental
degradation but also loss of revenue to the State."

Mpofu adds that investigations have revealed that big mining companies in
the Midlands province, including some listed on the Zim- babwe Stock
Exchange, are holding onto mining claims for speculative purposes.

More than 300 illegal gold panners are said to be mining gold in the
Shurugwi area, in the Midlands.
Most of Zimbabwe's gold mines suspended operations last 2008, owing to the
serious economic challenges facing the country, including the world's
highest inflation rate and shortages of foreign currency, capital inputs and

Most of the mines have restarted operations, but some say they will only
resume operations after receiving outstanding payments from the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe.

The central bank owes mining houses more than US$30-million for gold
delivered to its subsidiary, Fidelity Refiners & Printers.

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Land grabs stop crop planting

Food crisis looming

Oct 8, 2009 11:31 PM | By Moses Mudzwiti

Zimbabwe's farmers' union warned yesterday that violent land invasions have
plunged the country into a food crisis.

Charles Taffs, vice-president of the Commercial Farmers' Union, said:
"Zimbabwe is facing a crisis. The only people that do not understand it are
the government."

He said land invasions had brought farming to a halt. Even commercial
farmers with title deeds to properties were reluctant to plant crops.

Spurred by the lack of real resistance, invaders were brazenly scouring
areas in search of farms. Armed with sticks and stones and carrying "offer
letters", the mobs had intensified their land grabs.

Taffs said the farm of Kevin du Boil, who appeared in a news report on Sky
television yesterday, had since been looted. The brigadier who had forcibly
occupied the farm was using soldiers to "loot" crops.

Taffs said Du Boil had called the police, but the soldiers had simply
ignored them.

About 4000 white commercial farmers have been driven off their land and the
remaining few hundred are under siege. More than 300000 farm workers have
lost their jobs and homes.

Taffs said the government should "sort out the problem" or Zimbabweans would
"starve to death".

In addition to land invasions, a lack of funding had stifled agriculture, he

New black farmers who have benefited from President Robert Mugabe's chaotic
land reform have also hit a brick wall. With the government unable to raise
money for seeds and fertilizers, their farming efforts have failed dismally.

"There is no funding," said Taffs. "They do not have collateral."

Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said on the BBC's HardTalk yesterday
that the land invasions "must stop".

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Zimsec staff down tools

Friday, October 09, 2009

By Felex Share and Fortious Nhambura

Zimbabwe School Examinations Council workers yesterday went on strike
demanding that the lowest paid emplo-yee's salary be increased from US$115
to US$400.

Zimsec public relations manager Mr Ezekiel Pasipamire yesterday confirmed
the work stoppage.

Zimsec was making a passionate plea to the Government to address the workers'
concerns in view of the impending public examinations.

"It is true that Zimsec workers went on strike yesterday demanding a review
of their salaries. They are waiting for a response from the Ministry (of
Education, Sport, Arts and Culture) after submitting the request. If these
exams are to start any time soon, this must be treated as a matter of
urgency," said Mr Pasipamire.

However, highly-placed sources at Zimsec and the Ministry of Education,
Sport, Arts and Culture yesterday revealed that some officials wanted to
keep the strike under wraps as they intended to use it as a tool to force
the Government to submit given that public examinations were about to start.

The strike comes amid reports that most schools were still to begin
registering prospective Ordinary and Advanced Level students under the
recently launched Government loan scheme to assist underprivileged families.

However, the Zimsec officials claimed they were yet to be told how to
register the students.

The 120 Zimsec workers insisted they would not resume normal duties,
demanding a review of their salaries as they accused the Government of
reneging on earlier pledges.

Although the workers' representatives refused to speak to the Press
yesterday, some of the workers who spoke on condition of anonymity,
confirmed that they were on strike.

"This is the time these workers' services are needed most. They are the ones
who process the examination materials and without them, the examinations
will not be written," said a worker who declined to be identified.

Deputy Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture Lazarus Dokora
yesterday said his ministry had received the salary proposal from Zimsec.

He, however, said he was not aware of the strike.

"We received their letter recently requesting a review of their salary, but
as far as we are concerned, all is well within the examinations body," he

The strike is likely to paralyse the examination administration system after
thousands of prospective students failed to register, as their parents could
not afford the fees.

Yesterday, school authorities were still insisting that candidates pay US$10
and US$20 per subject for the November examinations.

Parents and guardians interviewed yesterday said they had only heard of the
facilities through the media, but school authorities were not registering
saying they were waiting for official communication from education offices.

"Schools are not registering prospective students at the moment saying they
are waiting for communication from their superiors on the procedures to be
followed during the registration," said Mrs Elina Chitongo of Highfield.

Under the arrangement, the students were required to register by Friday
October 16 and arrange to pay the examination fees by January.

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We didn't get time to mine diamonds: UK firm

by Own Correspondent Friday 09 October 2009

JOHANNESBURG - United Kingdom-based mining firm African Consolidated
Resources Plc (ACR) had begun work to set up a commercial mining venture at
Zimbabwe's controversial Chiadzwa diamond field when President Robert Mugabe's
government seized the field, the company has said.

ACR - whose right to the Chiadzwa claims was two weeks ago confirmed by a
Harare High Court judge - spoke as Mugabe announced on Tuesday that the
government has identified two foreign firms to mine diamonds at Chiadzwa
that is also known as Marange diamond field.

The government says it is appealing the High Court ruling in favour of ACR.

Senior government officials have on various occasions sought to create the
impression that ACR took too long to mine the Chiadzwa diamonds
necessitating the need for the authorities to seize in October 2006 the
diamond field and allocate the claim to state-owned Zimbabwe Mining
Development Corporation.

But ACR chief executive Andrew Cranswick said in a statement to ZimOnline
that the company's progress of work at Chiadzwa was in keeping with industry

Cranswick said: "ACR acquired the mineral rights over a 1 800-hectare area
over a period stretching from early April 2006 to early June 2006. The cycle
of exploration to discovery stage can take 1 month to 5 years.

"ACR took 5 months to discovery (of) gem quality diamonds and immediately
announced the find to the London Stock Exchange (where the company is
listed) and to the Zimbabwe government as required by law.

"The typical cycle of discovery from exploration to discovery is production
is 1 to 10 years and requires detailed feasibility studies and business

"ACR had commenced this exercise in Sept 2006 but was forcibly and illegally
evicted in October 2006, just weeks after discovery. Under no circumstance
would any company have undertaken production in such a short time in a
geological anomaly that was barely understood."

Interestingly, while statements by government officials have implied that
ACR overly delayed beginning mining operations at Chiadzwa - a position that
to varying degrees has been repeated many times by various publications
including ZimOnline - the state did not mention this in court as the reason
it seized the diamond field.

Harare sent the army to Chiadzwa after thousands of illegal miners descended
on the diamond field, following the controversial ejection of ACR.

A team from the Kimberley Process Certification System (KPCS) - the world
diamond industry watchdog group - that visited Zimbabwe last June issued an
interim report calling for a temporary ban on trade in diamonds from
Chiadzwa after unearthing gross human rights violations and other illegal
activities at the diamond field allegedly committed by the army.

Human rights groups say police and soldiers sent to guard the diamond field
used excessive and brutal force to take control of the diamond field and
later began forcing villagers to illegally mine the diamonds for sale on the
black market for precious minerals.

The army and police have refused to leave Chiadzwa while Harare denies
allegations of human rights abuses and says calls to ban diamonds from the
controversial diamond field were unjustified because Zimbabwe was not
involved in a war or armed conflict. - ZimOnline

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Zanu PF Power Battles Intensify

Thursday, 08 October 2009 22:07
THE Zanu PF succession race to replace the late Vice-President Joseph
Msika and possibly fill the position of party chairman if it becomes vacant
intensified this week, as infighting in Mashonaland West and Harare further
heightened ahead of the party's congress in December.

The escalation of power struggles within Zanu PF deepened internal
strife in a party already battling to prevent almost inevitable defeat by
the MDC wing led by Morgan Tsvangirai.

Zanu PF is also struggling to maintain political cohesion and avoid
the threat of disintegration after President Robert Mugabe's departure.

The scramble for power shifted to Matabeleland this week after the
party's politburo last week gave the region up to next Wednesday to select a
candidate to replace Msika.

Official meetings and behind-the-scenes gatherings to nominate a
candidate for vice-president have been taking place since last Sunday and
were due to continue today.

The process to find a candidate to replace Msika has fuelled a wave of
battles for power in the party, guaranteeing incessant bickering in the
run-up to congress. The infighting is expected to reach its climax in the
two months ahead, Zanu PF insiders say.

The battle to replace Msika came as the political situation was
rapidly deteriorating in Mashonaland West where politburo members including
Ignatius Chombo and Webster Shamu are battling it out for control with the
provincial executive council led by John Mafa who was this week openly
threatened by a rival faction for refusing to bow to pressure from politburo
members who want to wrest control of the province.

Senior Zanu PF politburo members including party chairman John Nkomo,
Didymus Mutasa, Nicholas Goche, Richard Ndlovu and Absalom Sikhosana met
with provincial leaders at the party headquarters on Wednesday to discuss
factionalism in Mashonaland West and Harare.

The Mashonaland West provincial executive meets this morning to
further review the crisis caused by clashes between provincial politburo
members and the provincial executive. Chombo wrote to Mafa on Tuesday asking
for a meeting on Sunday to tackle the problems but no agreement had been
reached by yesterday on when to meet.

Warring Harare Zanu PF leaders are also meeting continuously to sort
out the situation. The province has no substantive provincial executive due
to factionalism.

After the politburo meeting on Thursday last week, Zanu PF Bulawayo
provincial politburo and central committee members met last Sunday on their
own and chose Nkomo as their candidate. On the same day they also met with
the provincial coordinating committee members to officially endorse Nkomo -
who was recently severely damaged by sodomy allegations - as their nominee.

The provincial coordinating committees - which act as election
directorates for provinces - comprise provincial executive councils, central
committee, National Consultative Assembly, Women's League and Youth League
members, as well as chairpersons of district coordinating committees from
the relevant province.

Bulawayo politburo member Sikhanyiso Ndlovu confirmed Nkomo's
nomination but said consultations with other provinces were still ongoing.
"We met as Bulawayo province on Sunday and came up with Nkomo as our
candidate, but we are still waiting for the other provinces to finish their
processes. After that we will continue to consult and lobby so that we can
have one candidate," Ndlovu said.

"We are also consulting other provinces outside Matabeleland for input
and advice even though the position is reserved for Zapu because we want to
be national in our outlook and inclusive."

Sources said while Nkomo sailed through in Bulawayo, he was struggling
to jump hurdles to secure support in Matabeleland North and Matabeleland
South. This has created a cutthroat political contest in which the winner
will come out bruised.

Sources said Nkomo was struggling in his home Matabeleland North
province because Bulawayo governor Cain Mathema and politburo member Obert
Mpofu - who are long shots - were jockeying for the same position.

The sources said while Nkomo has an edge because he is already in the
Zanu PF presidium, he is also helped by the fact that Mathema is battling to
overcome a compromising political past of deadly clashes with former Zipra
commanders in Zambia during the liberation struggle.

Nkomo's cause is aided by the fact that Mpofu is seen as an outsider
because he crossed the political floor to Zanu early and was not a senior
Zapu official after all.

Sources said despite these drawbacks, Mathema and Mpofu were still
soldiering on.

In Matabeleland South, Nkomo is facing stiff competition from former
PF Zapu chair Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu and Simon Khaya Moyo.

Political trouble is expected to grow in Matabeleland because if Nkomo
succeeds in getting nominated by all provinces - which is still most likely
despite his battered reputation - there would also be battles over the
position of chairman.

Naison Ndlovu and Moyo are hoping that if they fail to beat Nkomo,
they could still squeeze into the Zanu PF presidium as chairman. However,
Kembo Mohadi is also a major contender for the position.

In terms of an internal Zanu PF arrangement ensuing from the 1987
Unity Accord, Msika's position and the chairmanship are only open to those
from PF Zapu.

This is because Zapu and Zanu agreed to share the top four positions -
president, two vice-presidents and chairman - equally although there was a
failed bid in 1999 by politburo heavyweight Emmerson Mnangagwa to upset the
pecking order.

Dumisani Muleya

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Govt Threatens Zimind Against Publishing new Daily

Thursday, 08 October 2009 21:52
GOVERNMENT has threatened to shut down NewsDay, sister publication to
the Zimbabwe Independent, if it hits the streets without registration,
despite lack of clarity and controversy over the current licensing

George Charamba (pictured), Media, Information and publicity permanent
secretary, this week told editors during a Unesco-sponsored dialogue that
the state would stop new players from publishing until ongoing media reforms
are completed.

Charamba said the High Court ruling nullifying the existence of the
Media and Information Commission does not preclude the ministry from
demanding licences from new players.

"What that judgment cannot do is to stop the ministry from visiting a
publication that is on the street to ask it to produce its licence," said
Charamba. "That we will do without fear or favour - get it from me because
you will be breaking the law. That we will definitely do.

"If you find yourself on the street without proper registration, ahh,
you are inviting us and we will react instantly."

He added: "We have a very funny situation where Barnabas (Thondhlana -
editor- designate of NewsDay) should be editing a paper but can't do it
because there is no registering authority. And certainly he knows that if he
goes on the street asina (without) registration, Charamba will be on him."

He said the creation of ZMC "implies an enabling law which is not yet
in place". He said new titles could still publish before the enactment of
the law but not before the issuance of licences.

"Barnabas, if you start publishing without a registration, you will be
in breach of the law," he said. "What we will do is to go to the police and
say there is a foreigner on the street, can you get his credentials and they
will come to you and ask you 'where is your registration'? If it is nowhere
to be found, naturally the police will take up the matter and ask the AG to

Following the formation of an inclusive government between President
Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur
Mutambara, publishers were hopeful that new publications would be
established against a backdrop of restrictive media laws.

But since the proposed plans to open media space, only the
government-controlled Zimpapers  group has been granted a licence to run a
new daily, the H-Metro.

Referring to a High Court order that nullified the existence of the
Media and Information Commission, Charamba said the ministry would continue
to monitor the press.

"All the pieces of law that were made by way of amending the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act and creating constitutional
amendment Number 19 did not kill off the Media and Information Commission.
The only one that came close to killing off MIC was constitutional amendment
No 19 which meant essentially MIC was there," Charamba said.

Charamba said the current transitional period of shifting the
registration mandate from the MIC to the soon-to-be established Zimbabwe
Media Commission had created a "funny situation".

"We have a very funny situation where Barnabas (Thondhlana) should be
editing a paper but can't do it because there is no registering authority.
Again you have another problem Barnabas, ZMC implies an enabling law which
is not yet in place."

He said the ZMC will come into being together with three other
constitutional commissions - Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission and Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission - are put in

The Ministry of Media, Charamba claimed, "checked" with the
Attorney-General's Office whether there were any "loopholes" that could
expedite the publication of new newspapers but the government legal advisor
dismissed that possibility. His ministry, he said, was "uncomfortable" with
the present situation.

Despite this development, Charamba said he was not "hopeless" that the
new publication would hit the street given the "quick march" in establishing
the media commission.

"It won't be long before you get your registration", he said.

Charamba's remarks have however attracted a flurry of reactions from
within government.

Deputy Media, Information and Publicity minister Jameson Timba said:
"Zimbabwe is not a police state. It is not the policy of this government
that its employees go around threatening citizens with arrest for imagined

"The alleged remarks and threats by  Secretary Charamba to cause the
arrest of Editors of  NewsDay are not only unfortunate and regrettable but
do not represent government policy and are  not in keeping with the Zimbabwe
the three political parties in government have committed to create."

Meanwhile, DPM Athur Mutambara has said the appointments of boards
under the Media, Information and Publicity ministry by Minister Webster
Shamu would be reversed because they were irregular and unprocedural.

"Those appointments are null and void," Mutambara said in an interview
on BBC's Hardtalk yesterday. "The cabinet was not consulted, the prime
minister was not consulted. We are going to reverse them."

Zimbabwe Journalists for Human Rights have also slammed Shamu for
appointing retired army officers.  To date Shamu has appointed two retired
brigadier-generals and one retired major-general to the ZBH board and at
least another two retired senior army officers to other boards.

"Why should the military and war veterans be entrusted with the
national media?" reads a statement issued by the ZJHR.

"Surely the country is not at war with anybody that government sees it
fit to militarise civil organisations. Instead of bringing guns and bayonets
to the media, the government should be allowing closed newspapers to open
and independent television stations and radios to open. The government
should be busy promoting freedom of the press by allowing new players to
come in."

The pressure group also threatened legal action against "illegalities
associated with the running of the Zimpapers newspaper group".

"It is also the view of ZJHR that media hangman, Tafataona Mahoso, who
presided over the closure of at least five newspapers and who denied
licences to more media houses, is not fit to head the Broadcasting Authority
of Zimbabwe Board (BAZ). His appointment is an indication that the
government is not interested in the democratisation and opening up of the
airwaves."-Staff Writer

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MDC Amends Constitution to Suit Tsvangirai

Thursday, 08 October 2009 21:48
THE MDC has dropped from its constitution a clause limiting the party
president's terms in office, thus extending Morgan Tsvangirai's possible
tenure to beyond 2011. In what sources in the party said was an
unconstitutional move, the MDC removed clause 6.1.3, which said the
president shall serve for a maximum of two terms.

The sources said no amendment was brought before the party's last
congress in 2006 to remove the limit.

Also missing from the constitution is clause 6.2.2, which also limited
the terms of the vice-presidents.
According to the MDC constitution, any amendment to the constitution
requires approval by at least two-thirds of delegates present and voting at

The Zimbabwe Independent is in possession of the two versions of the
constitution, the 2000 one and the other printed in May this year, which is
being distributed to party organs.

According to the 2000 constitution, Tsvangirai was supposed to step
down in 2011, paving way for his successor to take over.

What the new amendment means is that Tsvangirai will decide when he
wants to step down.

Constitutional lawyer, who was co-author of the 2000 MDC constitution,
and a close MDC ally, Lovemore Madhuku, said Tsvangirai would remain in
office until he chooses to step down.

"There is no chance of Morgan Tsvangirai being replaced in the MDC
unless he steps down. Don't expect anyone in the MDC to challenge him,"
Madhuku said.

"The MDC will not have a change of leadership any time soon. We will
have no leadership change in Zanu PF and no leadership change in MDC, but
might have a scenario of disillusioned members from both forming their own

While Madhuku was criticised for extending his term as chairperson of
the National Constitutional Assembly by amending the assembly's
constitution, he said at least it was done before their congress not like
what happened in the MDC which never brought it before the people.

An MDC top official, who preferred not to be named, confirmed that the
amendment was not brought before the 2006 congress.

He said some people proposed at an executive council meeting before
the congress that the clause be brought before the people for amendment but
Tsvangirai said it should be left as is.

"Tsvangirai didn't want to come out as if he is trying to hold on to
power. Bringing it before the congress would have raised a lot of debate and
they were worried that it might attract negative debate," the official said.
"However, the president now no longer has terms. It was not amended by the
congress. This is complete thuggery. There is a current constitution which
they are distributing and that clause was simply left out. It was simply
chopped off - it was a matter of 'highlighting, copying and deleting' the
clause. Unless you have a copy of the 2000 constitution with the clause
6.1.3 stating that the president shall serve for a maximum two terms, it's
as if it never existed."

The sources alleged that MDC secretary general Tendai Biti printed the
current constitution "under duress".

Biti and party spokesperson Nelson Chamisa could not be reached for
comment last night as they were out of the country on government business.

The MDC has been hit by reports of infighting with some alleging that
Biti is trying to upstage Tsvangirai.
The source said Biti and his people want Tsvangirai to take them into
government first and then take over from him as head of a party in power.

The sources said a recent document on the party's positions on the
constitution-making was also doctored after a pro-Tsvangirai camp in the MDC
executive rejected a proposal by Biti that the state president should be
elected by parliament. This, the sources said, was changed to say the state
president should be in office through popular vote.

The document was circulated to MDC MPs a fortnight ago who fumed and
questioned who the author was because they were not consulted to make their

While Chamisa admitted to an online publication recently that the
president's term was no longer limited, he seemed to contradict himself.

He said the constitution speaks of two-five-year terms without
necessarily speaking of limiting people in terms of their offices.

"We insist that the terms of office in the party are supposed to be
five years, then you go back to elections. But in terms of government, we
have said those who should serve government, they should serve a maximum of
two terms," Chamisa was quoted as saying. "Meaning to say that if someone
gets into office as president, like President Tsvangirai, he will serve a
maximum of two five year-terms each to have the 10 years as president. It's
the same thing for all cadres. That is the position that is clear in the
constitution of the MDC."

At the second MDC congress in 2006, Tsvangirai promised to hand over
power once Zimbabwe was restored to full democracy.

"It has never been my intention to hold on to power after the people
liberated themselves from this dictatorship. My contract with the people
does not extend beyond a certain time-frame," said Tsvangirai. "A new
Zimbabwe, a new beginning has no room for life presidents. My wish is to
execute our mandate in an honest and vigorous manner: preside over a
transition to full democracy and pass on the baton to another Zimbabwean. I
believe there must be an exciting life for a pensioner - whether that
pensioner is a peasant, former factory cleaner or a former president. I
pledge to honour my word."

Faith Zaba

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Parly opening: Nothing new in Mugabe speech

Thursday, 08 October 2009 21:40
A NON-PARTISIAN attitude characterised the opening of the second
session of the seventh parliament this week. Unlike the usual jeering and
interjections by MDC MPs when President Robert Mugabe last addressed
parliament, this time they behaved honourably as described by the president
at a luncheon held after the opening.

One would have thought that there was one political party in the

Political analysts have attributed such behaviour to the "fatherly
manner" in which Mugabe presented his speech, something they said he has not
done in a decade.

Describing the atmosphere in parliament during his speech, Mugabe
said: "There was discipline in parliament. Last year MPs were still raw,
they are polished now, they are dignified and they can be called honourable.
Last year they were dishonourable."

However some say there was nothing new in Mugabe's speech, but that it
instead managed to attract praise singing from the MDC formations, which if
not careful could lead to the parties being sucked into Mugabe's system.

Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said he was impressed that Mugabe
was able to deliver his speech without arousing anger and that he had
finally managed to be a true statesman.

Masungure said: "It was the demeanour and the tone Mugabe carried as
he delivered his speech. I assessed it as statesman-like and this is
something he has not done for a long time - more than a decade since this
political crisis started.

"His speech was well balanced, level headed and concurrent not only
with the letter of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) but with the GPA
spirit and the inclusive government."

Masunungure said even some MDC parliamentarians that he spoke to were
equally surprised.

"I was impressed that he was able to deliver something without
arousing anger like what happened in the first session of the parliament and
when he finished his speech he actually greeted some MP's across the

"I talked to one or two MDC-T MPs and they were pleasantly surprised.
In a way they were disarmed, it's like going into a battle and find that
after carrying weapons your enemy does not have any."

"Mugabe delivered his speech in a fatherly manner. It was a
nation-building message. The three titles that always append to his name
(head of state and government, commander in chief of Zimbabwe Defence
Forces) are national institutions so he should be a national figure. After a
long time, he has found his national voice and this is something that has to
be praised for even if you don't agree with Zanu PF."

As the tradition, Mugabe and the First Lady, Grace drove to the House
in an open Rolls Royce, accompanied by mounted police.

A small crowd of party supporters, frantically shouted "Gushungo,
Gushungo" as the car drew close to Parliament Building.

When Mugabe got into the House, unlike at the first opening session
when MDC MPs did not stand up, they all stood up.

Last year during the first session halfway through his speech when he
praised former South African president Thabo Mbeki for facilitating dialogue
with the MDC and also when he attacked rampant inflation, Mugabe was jeered
and interjected by MDC MPs.

MDC MPs shouted things like "You killed people, we know that."

When he talked about sanctions and the issue of the economic crisis,
MDC MPs shouted "Zanu-PF is rotting." and "We are together in the struggle,
no amount of beatings and killings will deter us".

On Tuesday it was the opposite. They all sat in silence as Mugabe
delivered his speech. Mugabe said Zimbabwe was ready to engage the West with
a view to normalising relations. He, however, stressed that re-engagement
should lead to the removal of sanctions.

Mugabe said: "Our country remains in a positive stance to enter into
fresh, friendly and co-operative relations with all those countries that
have been hostile to us in the past.

"We will also continue to engage our international partners on a
bilateral level through Joint Commissions of Co-operation and other
treaties, in order to drum up support for our economic recovery programme.

"Following the launch of the Zimbabwe-European Union dialogue in
Brussels early this year, our re-engagement with the European bloc is
gathering momentum. However, as our inclusive government re-engages the
Western countries, we expect those countries that have imposed illegal
sanctions which have hurt and continue to hurt our economy and the
generality of the people to remove them."

He urged Zimbabweans to unite for economic turnaround, saying national
development was a collective responsibility.

"Together, let us build the bridges of amity, forgiveness, trust and
togetherness," he said.

"Let us be the Zimbabwe united in body, mind and spirit. Only that way
can we really succeed."

However National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairman Lovemore
Madhuku said it would be a lie to say Mugabe's speech was different saying
for the past years he has never used the opening of parliament to do
anything other than that. Madhuku said: "To say Mugabe's speech was balanced
and mature is nonsense. Those are just partisan comments. There is
absolutely nothing new about what Mugabe did."

He said during the opening of the first session the jeers and heckling
were a result of what had taken place and the "one man race" in which Mugabe
won the elections after Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai decided to pull out
due to violence.

"The jeers of the last session were not based on content. They were
based on the mere fact that Mugabe was opening parliament following the
flawed elections," he said.

A number of Bills would be tabled before the second session.

Among the Bills are the Human Rights Commission Bill to regulate
matters related to the establishment of the commission, Public Finance
Management Bill to spearhead economic recovery, Audit Office Bill, Mines and
Minerals Amendment Bill, Energy Regulatory Bill, Small and Medium
enterprises bill to improve SME's operating environment, amendment to the
Education Act to address methods of payment of fees and levies, amendments
to the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act and amendments to the Railways Act to
provide for more deterrent penalties for the theft and vandalism of

The first session was criticised for closing without any significant

What promised to be healthy debates, however, turned out to be

For instance, there was a motion moved by MDC-T Masvingo Urban MP
Tongai Matutu calling upon parliament to set up a committee to probe
Attorney-General Johannes Tomana on allegations of selective prosecutions.

Matutu accused Tomana of targeting MDC lawmakers for prosecution.

Zanu PF leader in parliament Emmerson Mnangagwa has since written to
House of Assembly Speaker Lovemore Moyo saying the adoption of Matutu's
motion would create a constitutional crisis as the motion infringed on the
doctrine of separation of powers. Moyo said he would seek legal opinion on
the matter.

MPs also spent much time debating trivial issues outside parliament
such as whether or not to surrender vehicles as ordered by Finance Minister
Tendai Biti that had been loaned to them by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Masunungure said the first session of the parliament was not robust.

"They did not meet for a long time and they would break for a long
time. The parliamentarians did not do anything about the GPA. They slept on
their jobs," he said.

"Hope in this second session is that they are going to be more awake
as there is a lot to discuss. We can only hope, trust and pray that they
will be more active and also hope that they will be the watchdog of the
executive because that is their job."

Madhuku said that there was nothing much to expect from the second
session "except the beginning of praise songs for Mugabe as shown by the
parliamentarians' behaviour.

"Parliament will not have any meaningful discourse in this inclusive
government because it is dominated by one group. Parliament without
opposition will not have a meaningful discussion. In this second session we
expect more and more speeches that give praise to the president. It will be
the beginning of praise songs in parliament, something that we had forgotten

Wongai Zhangazha

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Charamba must apologise on Zimpapers board issue -- Timba

Thursday, 08 October 2009 21:31
MEDIA, Information and Publicity minister Webster Shamu last week
"unilaterally" made appointments to six media institutions which fall under
the ministry.

The appointments were roundly condemned by media organisations and the
Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC. Our political editor Faith Zaba interviewed Shamu's
deputy Jameson Timba on the issue, in which he dismissed the appointments as
illegal. Below are excerpts of the interview.

Zaba: Last week, you said the appointment of the Zimpapers board was
unlawful and that of the Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (Baz) was
unprocedural and invalid. Dr Paul Chimedza, the acting chairman of
Zimpapers, responded in a story in the Herald on Tuesday saying the
appointments were procedural because they were filling vacancies.
Permanent secretary in your ministry George Charamba in the same
Herald story seems to have apologised to you for having erroneously included
the Zimpapers Board list among the list of other parastatal boards under the
ministry announced last week. What is your comment on these issues?

Timba: Firstly, the explanations given are the biggest joke in the
corporate history of Zimbabwe. It's like a young boy who has been caught by
his mother stealing sugar and his lips are covered all over with the
sweetener, but still says I didn't do it mum. Charamba should apologise, not
to me for his acts of omission or commission regarding Zimpapers, but to the
generality of the people of Zimbabwe who through the Mass Media Trust of
Zimbabwe are the legitimate co-owners of Zimpapers. I am just an elected
people's representative who will not shy away from defending the interests
of Zimbabweans when they are being short changed.

Zaba: What is your position regarding the legality of the board?

Timba: That board is as unlawful as it was before Chimedza and
Charamba spoke and more so after they have spoken. Firstly, how does
Chimedza become an acting chairman of a board that he is no longer a member
of? The chairperson as announced is Dr (Charles) Utete. Secondly, at what
stage did he and others fill the vacancies? Was it after they had resigned
their own positions or before? What was announced was a completely new board
which excludes him and two others who were in the previous board. Thirdly,
assuming that Chimedza and three others were filling casual vacancies which
are disputed, do they have the legitimate authority to do so when their own
original appointment was unlawful?

Zaba: What do you mean by saying the appointment of Chimedza and three
others were unlawful?

Timba: They were not elected by the shareholders of the company so
whose financial interests do they represent? They were initially unlawfully
appointed by the previous Information and Publicity minister. So an
illegitimate board cannot create a legitimate one by filling vacancies.

Zaba: What is then the way forward?

Timba:  A return to the rule of law is the way forward and if any of
the people who were unlawfully appointed to this board are self-respecting
then they should distance themselves from this illegality. In addition, it
is up to the shareholders of the company to regularise their board otherwise
they will face serious problems in future if that board makes decisions that
affect their interests. The decisions of an unlawful board are a nullity and
since the members of that board do not have the protection of the law and
corporate veil because they were not properly appointed, then they run the
risk of being liable personally for any decisions they make which affect the
legitimate interests of others. As a government we should operationalise the
Zimbabwe Mass Media Trust so that it can assume its rightful place as one of
the major legitimate shareholders of Zimpapers.

Zaba:  Why then has an impression been created, including in the
Herald and other publications, that Zimpapers was owned by government and
controlled by it through the Information ministry.

Timba:  You see, the government of Zimbabwe has never been an owner of
the Zimpapers group. The owners have been the generality of the people of
Zimbabwe through a public trust irrespective of the government of the day or
political affiliation. What has been happening is that over the years each
subsequent Information minister has been abusing these papers and using them
as a private army to fight real or perceived enemies within their own party
or outside it.

Zaba: What is the position on Baz?

Timba: Before we get to Baz. Let me also tell you that the
appointments of the boards of New Ziana (Pvt) Ltd and Kingstons Holdings
Limited are also unlawful. Those two companies are not owned by the
government of Zimbabwe. They are owned by the Zimbabwe Mass Media Trust. The
trust deed of Mass Media Trust does not empower the Minister of Media to act
on its behalf under any circumstances. Only the trustees can act on behalf
of the trust. So, let's wait and hear whether officers in our ministry also
included these two boards on the published list in error.

Zaba: And Baz?

Timba: That Board is unlawful and cannot legally act on behalf of that
authority. There are two procedural and legal issues that must be satisfied.
Firstly, all board appointments which the president must make on
recommendation from either a minister or parliament to a state enterprise or
parastatal, service commission or constitutional commission can only be
valid if the appointments are done in consultation with the prime minister.
This means that the president and prime minister must agree on each
individual before the president formalises an appointment.
Article  20.1.3(p) of the 8th schedule of the constitution is clear
and it states that the president "in consultation with the Prime Minister,
makes key appointments the President is required to make under and in terms
of the constitution and any Act of Parliament''.
If that is not done then that board or commission is invalid.
Secondly, with respect to Baz, after the president and prime minister have
agreed on all the members of the board the office of the president must then
seek the views of the Standing Rules & Orders Committee of Parliament (SROC)
with respect to nine of the members although not bound by its
recommendations whilst they are bound to appoint at least three from six
nominations made by the SROC.

Zaba: From what you are saying it seems of the six boards announced,
only two are legitimate, that is the ZBH and the Transmedia boards.

Timba: To some extent there are problems with those two too. You see
government is an animal of rules. If you sidestep them you create anarchy.
In addition to the procedures listed above it is also a cabinet procedural
requirement that you cannot proceed to recommend the appointment of a board
of a state enterprise without consulting and in fact without showing
evidence of having consulted the State Enterprises and Parastatals ministry.

Zaba: What are your views about the individuals appointed to these

Timba: I am not at this juncture concerned about individuals but
processes and procedures. Individuals are a function of process and
procedures. If the correct procedure is followed then some of the
individuals will not be there. Most of the board members appointed through
the flawed process are either friends or colleagues of the recommending
authority and not necessarily the best Zimbabweans for the job.

Zaba: Have you raised any of these issues with your colleagues in the

Timba: I do not have a platform to do so. The minister and the
secretary (Charamba) hold management meetings to which they do not invite
me. They make most of their decisions and I see them in the newspaper like
every other Zimbabwean. Unless we are forced to meet because there is a
requirement to do so from another office then I am excluded. I am supposed
to be the deputy spokesperson of this inclusive government but, I am
excluded in its processes including not being given information on
government decisions which if the minister is not reachable I am supposed to

Zaba: Independent lawmaker Jonathan Moyo in an article published in
the Sunday Mail recently said you are part of a nexus that includes Jessie
Majome, Eddie Cross and Roy Bennett that ensures that Andrew Chadwick of the
Prime Minister's office is paid. What is your comment to that?

Timba: My Friend Jonathan Moyo is a seasonal rather than a serious
politician. No serious person takes him seriously in this country except
maybe those who took seriously a n'anga who says you can extract pure diesel
from a rock. Firstly, I am not part to any nexus neither is there a parallel
government in the Prime Minister's Office. Secondly, it is preposterous to
suggest that MDC is pursuing a regime change agenda.
If he says the MDC is pursuing democratic change within the inclusive
government he will be correct. Equally he will be correct to say we will
enter the next electoral race in order to win. Thirdly, I have no time to
engage Moyo on trivia such as whether Andrew Chadwick is able to pay his
bills or not. If he cannot, I will gladly pay them from my own pocket. The
only crime committed by Andrew Chadwick, according to Moyo and those who
think like him, is that he happened to be born white.

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Farming Preps Cause the Sinking Stomach Sensation

Thursday, 08 October 2009 19:28
A DRIVE around the countryside brings a sickening feeling of despair.
There is very little land preparation for the 2009-2010 farming season on
the farms, particularly the large-scale farming areas. Normally by now,
tilling of land would be underway.

When the Zimbabwe Independent, drove along the Harare-Shamva Road, an
area with some of the best soils in the country, tilling of most farms had
not even started, yet this area is considered to be one of the country's
prime farming areas.

So what exactly is the problem?

Government does not seem to learn from past mistakes. Once again,
preparations for the next agricultural season are off the rails as the
country faces serious financial problems for farming activities.

With poor planning, the country faces another poor harvest even if it
receives good rains this season.

In what appears like deja vu, there are hazy preparations for the
agricultural season which could lead to massive shortages.

Zimbabwe is targeting around 65 000 hectares of land under tobacco,
2,4 million tonnes of maize and about 150 000 hectares under cotton.

These figures appear modest when compared to what was achieved when
the country's agriculture sector was at its peak, and it is slowly becoming
clear that efforts to revive the sector are a mirage.

Analysts in the agriculture sector said more than US$2,5 billion is
needed to ensure a successful season, but what has been raised so far is an
insignificant US$280 million.

Of the US$280 million available for the 2009-10 agriculture season,
US$210 million is meant for commercial farmers and would be administered
through banks while the other US$70 million was mobilised by
non-governmental organisations for communal farmers.

Farmers' organisations said preparations were still hazy.

They said chaotic preparations for the agriculture season are a threat
to the country's food security as well as efforts to revive industry which
is stuttering at around 30% of capacity.

By now, preparations for the production of both food and cash crops
should have been concluded but it appears set targets might not be met
unless there is a sharp change in policy and coordination of efforts to
revive industry.

Paul Zacharia, director of the Zimbabwe Farmers' Union, said: "There
is nothing clear yet and what we thought was going to the communal farmer
has been diverted and is now available to the commercial farmers through the
Grain Marketing Board. Commercial farmers should have gotten loans from

"Communal farmers need up to US$800 million to meet their needs during
the year yet we have had promises of US$70 million and this is far short of
what is needed."

Worsening an already dire situation is the fact that there is
confusion over who should play what role to stimulate the sector which
drives the entire economy.

It appears that policy makers have not learnt anything from the
failure of the last season, which was largely due to poor preparations.

There is not much in terms of land preparations at most large scale
farms as farmers who had enjoyed subsidies from government are still
grappling with the reality that they now have to finance their farming

While commercial farmers appear to have been catered for through the
US$210 million loan facility, there are problems with accessing the finance.

Bankers said they have to follow a meticulous process of identifying
farmers who would be able to repay.As such, there is need to have collateral
which is a problem since farmers cannot borrow against their 99-year leases.

President of the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe John Mangudya said
this is the month when land preparation should be completed and they were
looking for the best way forward.

"The best way forward is that each farmer approaches the bank and an
assessment to check if the farmer would be able to pay is done.

"Once the loan application has been approved by the bank, the farmer
takes a bank cheque to the GMB for the purpose of payment of inputs," said

Farmers are then expected to repay the loans after nine months.

While it would take farmers nine months to repay the loans, the banks
are expected to have repaid the loans they have received through lines of
credit by March next year, thus there is need for bridging finance.

It is therefore imperative that banks recover their loans after
farmers have harvested. The banks also have a duty to ensure farmers deliver
their crops to the GMB.

"We are expecting minimum security so that the farmers would be able
to secure the loans and we are looking at asset-based lending where the
farmers can borrow against the crop which was realised last year, or against
their livestock," said Mangudya.

"We are also lending against some of the equipment that the farmers
received last year and it would be a pity if the farmers refused this.
Farmers with first class properties may also be able to borrow against

These loans are specifically for inputs, meaning farmers have to
source finance for fuel, power, wages and other necessities.

This presents a problem as banks are not in a position to give much
since they are also caught in a liquidity crunch and at the same time the
farmers do not have the collateral that is needed.

Speaking at a media briefing that was called by the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe and attended by several executives of banks, ZB Financial Holdings
chief executive Elisha Mushayakarara said it was a pity that not much
progress had been made.

"It is a pity that we are already in October but we are not agreed on
where we are really going.

"It is not easy but the agricultural season is upon us, the rains will
come and again they will be gone and next year we will sit here again with
nothing to eat," said Mushayakarara.

He urged the banking sector to work together for the success of the
coming season.

A failure to produce enough food would see the country importing food
once again and this would put pressure on the financial resources which the
state is struggling to mobilise.

This would be made worse if the country fails to produce cash crops
such as tobacco which contribute significantly towards Zimbabwe's export
receipts. In a good season, agriculture accounts for 18% of the country's
gross domestic product and 41% of Zimbabwe's export receipts.

Zimbabwe's agriculture industry also accounts for around 15% of formal

Leonard Makombe

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RBZ Freezes Nestlé Accounts

Thursday, 08 October 2009 21:18
THE Reserve Bank has reportedly frozen Nestlé Zimbabwe's bank accounts
and ordered a forensic audit into its dealings, amid reports that government
was hitting back on the firm after its decision to stop buying milk from a
farm owned by the first lady Grace Mugabe.

Central bank governor Gideon Gono last night confirmed the bank was
probing the company on "two transactions".
There were two or so transactions which were made which we thought
were irregular," said Gono. "These have been explained and things are back
to normal. We have to be on the look out for any irregular transactions."
Gono said the probe had nothing to do with the Nestlé's decision to
stop buying milk from Mugabe's farm.
"It (the probe) has nothing to do with anything. We do that all the
time where we think that there are irregularities," he said.
However sources at Nestlé Zimbabwe told businessdigest last night that
two of their five banks had confirmed receiving directives from the central
bank to freeze the accounts pending forensic audits.
The company, the sources said, had been under pressure from various
quarters since its announcement last week that it had stopped buying milk
from Arda Gushungo - a farm owned by Grace.
"We use five banks and we were today (yesterday) informed by two of
them that our accounts had been frozen on the instructions of the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe," a senior official at Nestlé Zimbabwe said. "We understand
the bank intends to carry out forensic audits. The bank is yet to inform us
on their decision to freeze our accounts and the nature of the probe they
intend to undertake."
The sources said a senior government official (name supplied) on
Monday phoned the company and told the firm that its decision to stop buying
milk from Grace's farm was an "extension of European Union and the United
States sanctions on the first family".
The suspension of the company's accounts, the sources said, would lead
to a delay in payment for milk deliveries and it also means that the firm
will not be able to use the money in their accounts without the approval of
the central bank.
This would cripple the operations of the company.
"The decision to stop accepting milk from Arda Gushungo has been
viewed by certain individuals as an extension of sanctions to the first
family and they may now want to get angry on behalf of the first family,"
another source said. "We are sure that this is aimed at crippling the
operations of the milk processing company."
A number of accusations have been made against the company including
allegations that it was only accepting milk from white farmers and shunning
new black farmers.
However, it is reported that the company's largest supplier of milk is
Lovemore Mugabe, a black Wedza farmer who is not related to the president
Nestlé Zimbabwe accepted milk from a sizeable number of farmers last
year after other players in the sector had failed to pay for milk delivered
which posed a threat to the survival of the milk sector in the country.
Their acceptance of milk from these farmers was done to save the
industry and it was not a permanent arrangement.
While the issue may have started as a political one, there are likely
to be economic interests from certain individuals who may be seeing an
opportunity pounce on the company.
This is a company that won the 2009 Confederation of Zimbabwe
Industries exporter of the year award and there are suspicions that monetary
authorities may want to look at loopholes pertaining to remission of foreign
Nestlé Zimbabwe is a wholly owned subsidiary of Nestlé which is
headquartered in Switzerland.
The Swiss Confederation on the behalf of the milk processing company
13 years ago entered into a bilateral agreement with the government of

Leonard Makombe

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New Dawn sun sets on South African venture

Thursday, 08 October 2009 21:17
NEW Dawn Mining, the owner of Turk and Angelus, has dumped its South
African venture to focus on operations in Zimbabwe. This is in "light of
substantial opportunities now present in Zimbabwe".
In a statement on Wednesday, the company said: "New Dawn intends to
focus exclusively on expanding output at its Turk and Angelus Mines in
Zimbabwe, furthering exploration on its options claims in Zimbabwe, and
pursuing acquisition opportunities in Zimbabwe that are value accretive.
"In pursuing its Zimbabwe focused growth strategy, management has
determined that its Blue Dot Mine Development Project in South Africa is no
longer a part of the company's corporate focus.
"As such, New Dawn has shut down the Blue Dot Mine Development
project, and has decided to place Blue Dot into provisional liquidation, a
legal process under South African law that provides for an orderly sale,
liquidation or winding up of the business."
A provisional liquidation would allow New Dawn to effectively manage
the disposal of the asset.
Turk mine has been enjoying the improved environment and has seen gold
output steadily increasing since May this year.
This followed the reopening of the mine in the first quarter of the
year after most mines closed last year as a result of viability problems.
In commenting on its South African Project, New Dawn said the Blue Dot
Project had not generated any revenue from gold sales that were sold to them
from the two Zimbabwean entities.
"As such, New Dawn confirms that gold sales and production figures as
generated from its Turk Mine in Zimbabwe will not be affected in any way as
a result of the Blue Dot closure," Ian Saunders, president and chief
executive officer of New Dawn, said. "We have a producing mine in Zimbabwe
in which output has increased for five consecutive months and we are well on
our way to increasing output and continuing to examine other value accretive
opportunities in a country where our expertise lies and significant
opportunity is present in an ever-improving political and economic
New Dawn is a Zimbabwe-focused junior gold company which is currently
involved in gold production at its Turk and Angelus Mines.
It also explores for gold, identifies and pursues other development
projects, as well as actively assessing opportunities in Zimbabwe.
New Dawn owns  the mines in the upper southwest area of Zimbabwe that
has the potential to produce an estimated 35 000 to 50 000 ounces of gold
per annum.  - Staff Writer.

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Zim a Governance Black Sheep

Thursday, 08 October 2009 21:09
AN international foundation on governance has ranked Zimbabwe as one
of the black sheep of the Southern African region and the continent during
the past year ahead of strife-torn Somalia and Chad.
According to the Mo Ibrahim Index of African Governance released on
Monday, Zimbabwe was placed 51 out of the 53 African countries judged for
their commitment to four pillars of governance - safety and rule of law;
participation and human rights; sustainable economic opportunity and human
The latest index became the first since its introduction in 2007 to
include 53 African countries following previous criticisms over its
exclusion of North African nations.
Zimbabwe had an overall score of 33,3 out 100. In the region Zimbabwe
was ranked the worst performer.
The index also measures the delivery of public goods and services by
government and non-state actors.
"Eighty-four indicators are used making the Ibrahim index the most
comprehensive collection of qualitative and quantitative data that accesses
governance in Africa," the foundation said.
Simply put "governance" means: the process of decision-making
and the process by which decisions are implemented (or not
Mauritius was ranked the top performer with an overall score of 82,8
out of 100. Cape Verde was second with 78, while Seychelles was third with
77,1. Fourth and fifth positions went to Botswana (73,6) and South Africa
Somalia was ranked the worst performer at number 53 with a score of
15,2. Chad was number 52 with a score of 29.
Recently the terms "governance" and "good governance" are being
increasingly used in development literature. Bad governance is being
increasingly regarded as one of the root causes of all evil within
Major donors and international financial institutions are increasingly
basing their aid and loans on the condition that reforms that ensure "good
governance" are undertaken. Zimbabwe's governance has over the past 10 year
been classified as "bad" due to the unstable economic environment which has
been breeding ground for corruption unaccountability and ineffectiveness.
Universally good governance has eight major
characteristics -participatory, consensus-oriented, accountable,
transparent, responsive, effective and efficient, equitable and inclusive
and follows the rule of law.
It assures that corruption is minimised, the views of minorities are
taken into account and that the voices of the most vulnerable in society are
heard in decision-making. It is also responsive to the present and future
needs of society.
Mo Ibrahim is the founder of Celtel International and one of Africa's
most successful business leaders. Originally from Sudan, Ibrahim is a global
expert in mobile communications with a distinguished academic and business
The foundation traditionally confers an annual US$5million African
leadership award to former prime ministers and presidents.
The prize committee, chaired by former United Nations secretary
general Kofi Annan, will later this month award the US$5 million to a
president or premier who demonstrated excellence in leadership during their
time in office.
The prize winner will in addition receive US$200 000 annually for life
Former Botswana president, Festus Mogae won the record award last year
while Mozambique's second post conflict leader Joaquim Chissano became a
laureate in 2007.
"The prize money is designed to work in conjunction with billions of
dollars of development spending, foreign investment and national resources.
If a country is well governed this means there will be a significant
increase in the effectiveness and impact of all funds in the country," the
foundation said.

Paul Nyakazeya/Bernard Mpofu

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Of principles and hypocrisy – Response to Jonathan Moyo

Thursday, 08 October 2009 21:27

THE Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Youth Committee would like to respond to an article written by Jonathan Moyo, independent MP for Tsholotsho North in the Zimbabwe Independent of September 25 where he castigated the coalition for not respecting his rights to free association. Firstly, it should be noted that the coalition is not an appendage of the Movement for Democratic Change, rather it is an amalgam of over 45 civic organisations formed in August 2001 in response to the serious political, economic, and social crisis and human rights violations that engulfed the country from 1998.

It is a serious misconception that any civic society organisation in Zimbabwe that finds itself in congruence with the MDC is vilified as a regime change agent, a lapdog of the West and a formation of the USAid or any other such international agencies.

Moyo must know better that the idea behind civic society organisations is to become mirrors of the state and ask critical questions around accountability, the promotion of good governance, and the protection of human rights.

Unless Jonathan Moyo would like to mislead Zimbabweans by arguing that it is illegal, and unwarranted for the coalition to carry out such noble causes. Moreover, just as much as the honourable MP has a right to associate with any political party of his choice, the coalition also has a right to freely express its views and opinions about political activities of public office bearers such as Moyo.

The coalition’s youth committee is fully aware of the fact that the right to free association is well entrenched in the Zimbabwe constitution (not that it has mattered much under the Zanu PF leadership), the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the International Covention on Civil and Political Rights as an inalienable right. Naturally, the coalition’s youth committee would not have any problems with any Zimbabwean joining any party of their choice.

In fact, this is what the coalition stands for in terms of its work –– promoting and respecting other people’s views and enhancing tolerance in Zimbabwe.

However, The coalition’s youth committee is convinced that it has every right to ask public officials such as MPs critical questions of accountability particularly when Zimbabweans are under siege from serious propaganda from political turncoats like Moyo.

The MP must not think that he can mislead Zimbabweans by writing verbose articles in the press defending the indefensible and denigrating the coalition. Moyo was voted into office by the people of Tsholotsho on the basis that he was opposed to tyranny, corruption, lack of rule of law, and state-sponsored violence –– all characteristics of Zanu PF from which  he defected.

It is an act of serious treachery and betrayal to the masses from Tsholotsho who endured brazen violence from Zanu PF supporters and state security agents in 2008 for him to suddenly change track and turn back to Zanu PF.

In our view, there is nothing principled, strategic or tactical, as Moyo would like to argue, about joining Zanu PF. Whilst he is free to do that, the coalition challenges him to vacate his seat which he gained on the basis of his stance against the “unprincipled, unstrategic and untactical” ways in which Zanu PF has ran the country in the last few years. Instead of Moyo ranting about nothing, he must start questioning himself and ask the same question the coalition and many other Zimbabweans asked two weeks ago: “What has changed honourable MP?”

Nothing has changed for Zanu PF as a political party unless if Moyo would like us to believe that there was anything strategic, principled and tactical about the following actions executed by Zanu PF as the ruling party.


  • More than 20 000 people died in the Midlands and Matabeleland between1982 and 1987 (Gukurahundi) at the instigation of the Zanu PF-led government and nothing has been done about those responsible most of whom are now senior government officials. Nothing at all has been done for the victims of such violence;

The brazen violence and farm invasions that followed Zanu PF’s 2000 loss in the constitutional referendum;

  • The killing of MDC supporters such as Tichaona Chiminya and Talent Mabika during the run up to the 2002 Presidential election by CIO operatives including Joseph Mwale who have not been prosecuted;
  • The banning of independent newspapers and the bombing of The Daily News’ printing press;
  • The Introduction of repressive pieces of legislation such as the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (2002), the Public Order and Security Act and the Broadcasting Services Act;
  • The ruthless manner in which Operation Murambatsvina was carried out; destroying peoples’ livelihoods in most urban areas in Zimbabwe under the guise of wanting to rid the cities of crime. It is not news that the operation was meant to disenfranchise the many opposition supporters in the urban areas;
  • The hundreds of murders and extra judicial killings of MDC supporters by Zanu PF supporters and state security agents, human rights defenders and other civilians in the pre and post 27 June 2008 period;
  • The abduction of hundreds of Zimbabweans including Jestina Mukoko on allegations of terrorism which were dismissed by the courts and
  • The brazen disregard for the rule of law through the failure to abide by court decisions in numerous cases at the domestic and international level.
  • Chamunogwa is Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition Youth Committee chairperson.

Arnold Chamunogwa

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Muckraker: When leaders prove they are a big joke

Thursday, 08 October 2009 19:58
'Namibia is a land of the brave," former president Sam Nujoma said
recently, "but not for jokes and laughter". That's because there's only one
joke in Nambia and it's Nujoma.  In fact Namibia is a one-joke state.
The Herald last month carried a statement by Nujoma attacking whites
in the vitriolic language of Mugabe. The US and Britain imposed sanctions on
Zimbabwe because people demanded their land back, he claimed. It is because
of the Western powers that opposition parties were formed in Africa, he
said. Nothing of course to do with the incompetence and avarice of those in
New Era, the fawning Namibian newspaper that is as bad as the Herald,
published these remarks by Nujoma made at a Swapo rally. They mostly
concerned a black mamba.
"Whites are dangerous, just like a black mamba," he declared. "If they
oust Mugabe, they will oust another president." Can you imagine a Western
leader getting away with such crude racism? The world would be on his case
in no time.
What New Era didn't tell us, and of course nor did the Herald, was
that Nujoma tried to hang on to office for a third term but was told by his
party to go.
Then he became something of an embarrassment by remaining as party
chairman and interfering wherever he could. In the end the Namibian
political leadership devised an inspired solution. Nujoma, not known for his
incisive intellect, was sent back to school. Here, it was hoped, he might
discover something of life beyond the struggle and present a more
sophisticated impression to Namibia's friends and neighbours.
Despite this sensible move, he continues to give Namibia a bad name
with demagoguery of the sort reported in New Era. Namibia has been out of
step with its Sadc neighbours by backing Mugabe's continuation in office and
his assault on civil society - when they weren't prepared to keep their own
leader in power when younger and more able men such as Hifikepunye Pohamba
wanted to take over the reins.
Like President Mugabe, New Era slavishly wrote, "Cde Nujoma is also a
veteran of the struggle who comes from the same revolutionary school."
Really? Did he also have trouble getting into the training camps? The
only difference is that Namibians didn't allow their leader to mess things
up before getting rid of him. They got him before he could get them!
Which reminds us of the old joke. "Are you ready to say goodbye to the
people of Zimbabwe?" Mugabe was asked. "Why, where are they going?" he

Muckraker was interested to note the views of new South African Chief
Justice Sandile Ngcobo. He was sworn in last week. In an address to a
conference of judges a couple of years ago, the Sunday Times reminds us,
Justice Ngcobo argued that the exercise of judicial power included not only
management of cases but also giving judges control of the budgets of courts.
"Independent court administration underpins the independence of the
judiciary and reduces the potential to interfere with the functioning of the
courts," Ngcobo said. "It is for this reason I would put court
administration on top of the agenda for change."
We wonder if members of our own bench, beneficiaries of farms and
flat-screen TVs, read those remarks.
Our only point of departure with the Sunday Times report came when it
said Justice minister Jeff Radebe "could not conceal his glee" at the
meeting of the Judicial Service Commission where Ngcobo was interviewed.
Judges should beware when ministers can't "conceal their glee" at
their appointment!

Zimbabwe's editors made a rod for their backs this week. Minister
Webster Shamu had been due to open a Unesco-sponsored round-table meeting
but he suddenly remembered it was the opening of parliament that day. So
perm sec George Charamba had to step in.
Charamba admitted he was "hired by politicians to make them look
pretty". But he was clearly unimpressed by the GNU.
"I'm in the kitchen, there's lots of smoke but hardly much cooking
going on," he said.
He spoke of "unproductive divisions" in the media, "barren antagonism,
extreme unreasonableness often translating into ruinous camps".
The Voluntary Media Council of Zimbabwe in particular came in for a
good sticking. Charamba spoke of "fundamentalism in the media" which came
with "sickening name-calling". Muckraker's ears were burning!
"You have been polarised by politics not because you are victims of
politicians but because you have become political yourselves," he
He also scorned the media's pretensions to what he called
What he didn't mention were his own pretensions to being apolitical.

It will be recalled that at the outset of the GNU there was agreement
by all parties that permanent secretaries should stay at their posts because
they were seen as "professional and apolitical".
The naïve MDC was left to rue that decision as Charamba has on
numerous occasions demonstrated just how partisan it is possible for a
permanent secretary to be. Here is somebody speaking for a leader who was
decisively rejected by voters last year - together with his discredited
mantras - but who nevertheless lectures the media on what their role should
Meanwhile, while his bosses talk up investment opportunities in the
country, Charamba detects foreign conspiracies everywhere. "The public media
has kept jobs, sustained families," he boasts.
Its political masters have also presided over the closure of private
papers and the emigration of a whole generation of journalists.
We should thank Charamba for reminding us that it is the function of
newspapers in a democratic society to ensure powerful public servants do not
exceed their role as advisors to ministers. Above all they are required to
exercise an independent and professional mind. That means discarding those
outfits adorned with Mugabe's portrait at Zanu PF rallies and also
discarding the shibboleths that go with them.

By the way, whose fault was it that the names of those Zimpapers board
members were released together with the names of board members for
The government has been pretending that Zimpapers is not a parastatal
of late so this was a particularly embarrassing gaffe. But the perm sec, in
an agile demonstration of the buck not stopping here, blamed his officers.
The Zimpapers list got mixed up with those from "different
 parastatals" which the ministry was also processing, we were told.
An enlightening episode!
Meanwhile Muckraker is getting word that the malevolent Mahoso is
about to be moved again following strong objections to his appointment as
chair of BAZ by GNU partners.
This is not altogether good news. If he is evicted from BAZ because he
knows nothing about broadcasting, he could end up on the ZMC! Come to think
of it, what does he know about the media?

Finally, our congratulations to Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono on
the award of the prestigious Ig Nobel prize for Mathematics. The award,
announced during a ceremony at Harvard University, lauded Gono, according to
the Sunday Times, "for giving people a simple everyday way to cope with a
wide range of numbers, from very small to very big, by having his bank print
notes with denominations ranging from one cent to one hundred trillion
Gono was unable to attend the ceremony.

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Eric Bloch: Managing the Debt Burden

Thursday, 08 October 2009 19:56
ALTHOUGH not publicly released, a comprehensive assessment of Zimbabwe's
considerable debts, and possible ways of addressing them, has apparently
been prepared by the Minister of Finance, Tendai Biti, according to various
authoritative sources. Last week's issue of the Independent reported that
the minister's detailed evaluation of Zimbabwe's backbreaking debt burden,
and of ways of reducing it, is presently under governmental consideration.

However, indications suggest a massive divide in the political
hierarchy as to the pursuit or otherwise of minister Biti's recommendations,
and that (as is unfortunately usually the case in Zimbabwe) the divide is
fuelled by self-interest on the part of some politicians, instead of the
best interests of the Zimbabwean people.

Zimbabwe's accumulated debt approximates US$5, 7 billion, of which
US$5, 2 billion is foreign debt.

Of Zimbabwe's external liabilities, US$3, 6 billion is considerably
overdue for settlement, and Zimbabwe's coffers are presently so barren that
there are no prospects of Zimbabwe remedying its payment defaults in the
foreseeable future. Commendably, the minister is very concerned at this
distressing circumstance, and is cognisant of the need to resolve Zimbabwe's
arrear status as rapidly and effectively as possible. To that end, if the
"informed leaks" have substance, he has identified four alternative
strategies, being:

Applying government's revenue receipts, to a material extent, towards
progressive reduction of its debts. However, he is very conscious of the
relatively minimal extent of revenue inflows, which do not suffice to meet
the ongoing costs of government.

Concurrently, the state cannot even fund full payment of public
service salaries, let alone the costs attendant to provision of the people
of Zimbabwe with education, healthcare and social welfare, to ongoing
administration costs and innumerable other governmental costs.

Resource-based debt restructuring: Regrettably, this strategy cannot
readily and expeditiously be implemented as, on the one hand, all resources
are desperately needed as vehicles for the critically-needed economic
recovery and, therefore, diverting them to support debt-restructuring would
be an impediment to achieving that recovery.

On the other hand, any negotiations for such restructuring of debt
would inevitably be very protracted, and yet the debt arrear issue needs
resolution as rapidly as possible, in order that Zimbabwe regain an
internationally acceptable credit rating, attain international support and
be accepted as a desirable investment destination.

Debt rescheduling, negotiated via the Paris Club. The world's major
creditor nations constitute the Paris Club, and have aided various heavily
indebted nations by restructuring and rescheduling debt.

However, with the magnitude of the political differences that continue
to characterise those in authority in Zimbabwe, there is no certainty that
the Paris Club would agree a programme of Zimbabwean debt-rescheduling,
especially so as the international community justifiably remains uneasy at
the pronounced disregard for law and order, and for human and property
rights in Zimbabwe.

There is also the continuing defaults in honouring Bilateral
Investment Protection and Promotion Agreements (Bippas). In addition, the
Paris Club negotiations would, in all probability, be extended, whereas
Zimbabwe urgently requires resolution of its debt crises.

Recourse to the Heavily Indebted Poor Country initiative (HIPC),
whereby the major lender states could, if applied for and satisfactorily
negotiated, effect very considerable debt-forgiveness, which could reduce
Zimbabwe's total external debt by up to 90%. To date at least 35 of the
world's heavily indebted countries have substantially benefited under HIPC.

It is widely reported that minister Biti strongly contends that HIPC
is the best option for Zimbabwe, stating that the alternatives do not accord
Zimbabwe a "holistic and viable approach to its debt and arrears problems".
In this contention minister Biti deserves unequivocal support.

He rightly emphasises that HIPC debt relief would yield a "holistic
and viable approach" to Zimbabwe's debt circumstances, significantly
diminishing the extensive current restraints upon economic growth and
poverty reduction. Adding to this, he rightly contends that following upon
debt forgiveness, Zimbabwe's sovereign risk profile would be greatly
improved, resulting in Zimbabwe becoming creditworthy and able to attract

Acknowledging realities, he said that it would be immoral to use
Zimbabwe's limited resources to pay its debts, "largely caused by
mismanagement, corruption and theft when our schools, hospitals and roads
are in a bad state".

Despite the irrefutable substance and merit of the minister's
recommendation, various Zanu PF ministers are reported to be determinedly
opposed to it, on grounds that doing so would "open the floodgates to
foreign interference", not just in Zimbabwe's economic affairs but also in
its politics.  They contend that an HIPC initiative would "be used by
Western countries as an instrument of regime change".

With that contention they demonstrate yet again their extreme paranoia
and, even more so, their intractable determination to remain in power,
irrespective of the negative consequences upon the country and its populace
of not pursuing the only practical way of dealing with the country's
crippling burden of debt.

They are once again proving that they are readily willing to sacrifice
the best interests of the nation to protect their own desires and wishes.
Concurrently, they do not even suggest any practical alternative paths to be
followed to deal with the gargantuan debt arrears that they caused Zimbabwe
to accumulate.

And undoubtedly they have decided - consciously or unconsciously -
that as the economic recovery is hindered by the country's ongoing
debt-servicing default, they will attribute all culpability to the
international community. They will deliberately contend that the tardiness
of economic recovery is partially attributable to the continuing huge debt
arrears, and will strive to deflect any suggestions of their being even
remotely responsible for continuing national poverty and suffering.

Presumably, it is mainly this circumstance which provokes minister
Biti to reject proposals of the African Export Import Bank (Afreximbank) for
Zimbabwean settlement, over a two year period, of arrears of US$55,95
million, notwithstanding that if such proposals were accepted, Afreximbank
would immediately advance US$300 million as a strategic sector facility.

The minister's reluctance is understandable, for he recognises the
immorality of Zimbabwe once again making debt-settlement commitments which,
based upon past performance, it may not be able to honour.

And yet it is also tragic, for the offered new loan is desperately
necessary as one of the fuellants of Zimbabwe's accelerated economic

Were the minister not confronted by the Zanu PF destructionism to his
proposed pursuit of an HIPC debt-forgiveness initiative, he could in good
faith agree to Afreximbank's proposals, and combined, such initiative and
proposals would be major contributors to the long-awaited, intensified
economic recovery.

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Mukoko's or Deal Inconsistent With Democratic Order

Thursday, 08 October 2009 19:25
ON September 28 the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe confirmed what many with
the exception of a few in Zimbabwe have come to accept - that the state has
been transformed into an instrument of injustice and intimidation.  The
court ordered a permanent stay in Jestina Mukoko's prosecution. This no
doubt brought to a partial end her ordeal that began on December 3 2008 when
her freedom was temporarily taken away by the state -without any involvement
of the courts - on allegations of terrorism.

Only a few believed she was so dangerous to the state as to warrant
the kind of action that was taken. She was taken at daybreak by armed state
actors who held her in secret locations where she was tortured in an attempt
to force her to confirm that she was a danger to society.

Her persecutors knew as they have done before that the framing of her
alleged misdeeds had to fit into what they believe their principal,
President Robert Mugabe, needed to hear.

All that is and was required is to frame one as an economic or
political saboteur to justify the activation of the state machinery to
deprive one of freedom or rights enshrined in the constitution.

As expected, Mukoko was accused of being involved in a plot to topple
Mugabe and such an allegation need not be investigated in contemporary
Zimbabwe before the accused is arrested.

More importantly, such allegations need not be tested before an
independent tribunal as required under the constitution of Zimbabwe.

She is one in many who have faced similar accusations. In fact, Deputy
Agriculture minister-designate Roy Bennett faces similar allegations and
notwithstanding the ruling of the Supreme Court, it is unlikely that the
state, albeit in the framework of an inclusive government, will be persuaded
to change its way of doing business.

When, for example, James Makamba was accused of externalisation, the
laws were changed to deal with his unique circumstances where the state
rushed to arrest him before even completing investigations.

Under the new law passed using state-of-emergency powers, popularly
known as the Makamba Law, the state could detain suspects for extended
periods without charging them before a court of law.

Makamba, Muderedi, Kuruneri and others were kept on remand for more
than 48 hours.

In the case of Makamba, in order to justify the temporary deprivation
of freedom the state had to reconstruct normal exchange control violations
into serious economic crimes. This was evidently necessary to convince not
only Mugabe that Zimbabwe's crisis was a direct consequence of the
indiscipline and alleged corruption in the private sector.

As a result, all that was required was to point a finger at a suspect
and the state machinery could be used to demonstrate that draconian and
unorthodox measures were what the country needed to lift itself up.

The Prevention of Corruption Act was accordingly amended to achieve
that which was not intended by the constitution.  The state could and can
use this instrument to deprive temporarily and even permanently the rights,
title and interest of citizens to property let alone freedom.

Once a person has been identified by the state with no assistance of
the judiciary as culpable, the state has given its actors powers that can
only be valid and enforced in an undemocratic constitutional order.

Mukoko, like many before her endured at a high emotional, physical and
financial cost until the highest court in the land pronounced its opinion on
a case that never was.

The mere fact that the executive branch of the state felt confident
that their actions were justified must be a cause for concern.

No lower court could see through this abuse let alone the Attorney
General's office. To the extent that state actors enthusiastically
prosecuted Mukoko using illegal methods to extract confessions, one can
safely conclude that the system has been sufficiently compromised to accept
and condone state abuse of citizens in the name of protecting a misplaced
sense of sovereignty.

The lower courts could not come to the assistance of Mukoko as they
have failed to do so in other cases of human rights abuses. What does this
say about the health of Zimbabwe's constitutional democracy?

It would be naïve for one to conclude that the end is near just
because of the ruling. Nothing can be done to restore Mukoko to the position
that she was in on the morning of December 3 last year.  To the extent that
her freedom was temporarily taken away as a consequence of an act of state,
who should make good on the injury to Mukoko?

One would have expected the President to take action to restore the
confidence of citizens in the state. Appointing a commission of inquiry to
look at all cases of state abuses could be a good starting point. I do not
believe that the judiciary is sufficiently equipped to handle these kinds of
cases that clearly involve political meddling.

The complicity of the lower courts in giving life to the kind of abuse
that has become customary in contemporary Zimbabwe is also an area that
needs investigations because it should not be acceptable for one to be
exposed to the treatment that Mukoko and others have been subjected to in
the name of protecting national interest and sovereignty.

Makamba, like Kuruneri, languished in remand prison until the courts
acquitted him. The journey to freedom was long and tortuous. Bennett is on
the same journey, as are many others.

At least Mukoko's journey is complete but the scars will remain
forever and no doubt legitimate questions would need to be answered for her
to get some closure to this. Who was behind her ordeal? How far up the state
ladder was this action conceived and executed?

It may very well be the case that Mugabe is not fully in control of
the state, suggesting that there may be a few in the system who know what
their boss wants to hear.

After 29 years in power, Mugabe is yet to be convinced that he has
acted improperly let alone that the state has failed its citizens. He has,
as would be expected after that length of stay in office, been transformed
into a prisoner.

There is no doubt that Mugabe was told that the MDC was up to mischief
and the temporary stay of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in Botswana after
the elections was aimed at consolidating a regime change strategy and plan.

Notwithstanding the inclusive government, Mugabe has been convinced
that Zimbabwe is just too important to the West hence the media coverage and
the regime change allegations are just too real.  - ZimOnline.

Mawere is a Zimbabwean-born South African businessman.

By Mutumwa Mawere

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HIPC Status Never Self-humiliating

Thursday, 08 October 2009 19:18

The article “Biti: Stop asking for sympathy from the devil” published in the Sunday Mail of September 20 by Professor Jonathan Moyo was disgusting to say the least. While the article discussed what he chose to term “three alarming developments”, it is his reckless spewing of venom on the proposed External Debt Clearance strategy by the Minister of Finance (Tendai Biti) that smacks of someone who is benefiting from the current sorry state of the country, and wishes to defend the status quo even if it means doing so at the expense of the majority.

Or is it because he had to criticise anything that the Finance minister does to appease his erstwhile club members and build his credentials prior to submission of his application letter for readmission into Zanu PF? Whatever the reason, we are now sure it was not for the benefit of the majority and I will explain why.

According to Moyo, Zimbabwe would humiliate itself “permanently” if it seeks debt relief through the Heavily Indebted Poor Country (HIPC) initiative.

I wonder whether Zimbabwe is not already humiliated by, for the past 10 years, defaulting on its external obligations. Rather than viewing it as an instrument to humiliate the country, the HIPC initiative will instead extricate the country from membership of the undesirable axis of defaulters, a grouping that also have war-torn Sudan and Somalia as members.

His ranting goes on to allege that Biti’s motives smack of a person facilitating the takeover of day-to-day administration of Zimbabwe by the US and Britain through IMF and World Bank “as their control-instrument of choice”.

Uganda and Tanzania, our fellow African brothers (even Zambia, Malawi and Mozambique) went through the whole HIPC process and had a substantial chunk of their debts cancelled but have retained their sovereignty. Their economies are doing well and they can afford to spend more on poverty reduction programmes.

Let me share with readers what the HIPC initiative entails and then point out attendant benefits that would accrue to countries upon accession and full implementation of the initiative.

The HIPC initiative was launched in 1996 by international creditor (lenders) institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank (WB), in an effort to address perpetual external debt overhang problems of heavily indebted poor countries.

The initiative gave (and still gives) countries with high debt burdens a platform to engage their major international creditors and lobby for reduction (or cancellation) of their debt stocks and flows to sustainable levels. Central to this initiative is the theme “no poor country should face a debt burden it cannot manage”. A country with a high debt burden spends a large portion of its hard-earned annual income on servicing these debts as they fall due. The result is that very little, if anything, of the country’s annual income goes towards investment in social services like health and education, with the attendant social effects of unemployment, HIV and Aids, hunger and destitution getting worse.

In the HIPC Initiative, creditors agree to erase the debts so that the huge resources that would have gone into debt servicing are channelled towards poverty reduction programmes. The gist is to ensure that the financial resources unlocked from debt cancellation are spent on programmes that benefit the poor. That is empowerment, isn’t it?

The whole initiative thus revolves around the development and implementation of a credible Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme. This pro-poor thrust makes the HIPC initiative more appealing to governments that believe in the concepts of equality of opportunities and broad-based empowerment.

To be considered for HIPC initiative assistance, a country must fulfil the following conditions:

  • Be eligible to borrow from the World Bank’s International Development Agency (IDA), which provides interest-free loans and grants to the world’s poorest countries, and from the IMF’s Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility, which provides loans to low-income countries at subsidised rates;
  • Face an unsustainable debt burden that cannot be addressed through traditional debt relief mechanisms. The benchmark for this is a debt-to-export ratio of at least 150% or 250% of fiscal revenues. Zimbabwe is well above these ratios and its debt is therefore unsustainable;
  • Have established a track record of reform and sound policies through IMF and World Bank-supported programmes and;
  • Have developed a Poverty Reduction Strategy Programme through a broad-based participatory process in the country.

Once a country has met or made sufficient progress in meeting the above criteria, IMF and World Bank formally declare the country’s eligibility for debt relief, and other creditors make commitments to reducing debt to a level that is considered sustainable. Debt is considered sustainable if it can be serviced inter-temporally without compromising the future social and economic development path of a country. This first stage under the HIPC initiative is referred to as the decision point. Once a country reaches the decision point, it may start to receive interim relief on obligations falling due.

A country qualifies for full and irrevocable debt relief from participating creditors upon reaching the completion point.

The completion point is triggered by progress (measurable indeed) made on the implementation of the PRSP (for at least a year) together with continued track record of satisfactory performance on an IMF program. Some triggers relate to progress in social areas such as health and education, while others may relate to fighting corruption to give donors sufficient confidence that debt relief assistance is spent on programmes that benefit the poor.

So far, 24 countries have reached the completion point: Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Ethiopia, the Gambia, Ghana, Guyana, Honduras, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Niger, Rwanda, Sao Tomé and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia.

On March 28 2006, the Board of International Development Assistance (IDA) approved IDA’s participation in the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative (MDRI). The MDRI provides HIPCs “that have reached the completion point irrevocable, up-front cancellation of 100% debt owed to IDA, the African Development Fund, the IMF, and the IADB”. This is in addition to debt relief already committed under the HIPC Initiative.

We are not short of examples of African countries that benefited from these debt relief initiatives. Our fellow Sadc brothers in Tanzania have received a whopping US$5,3 billion debt cancellation (US$1,5 billion under HIPC and US$3,8 under MDRI) while Uganda had more than US$2 billion of its debt cancelled just like that. Ghana received more than $3,5 billion of debt relief through the HIPC initiative in 2002. Moreover, they retained their sovereignty too!

With HIPC and MDRI, all financial resources unlocked from debt cancellation go towards tackling the high poverty levels in the country. It is my considered view that the freed resources from debt cancellation and other forms of debt relief, if properly invested, would trigger real economic growth that should eventually lead to nation building.

Remember nation building does not happen haphazardly hence as a nation we need to have carefully formulated, time consistent and credible development plans.

That is what the IMF and World Bank programmes stand for, not regime change. Rather, the upfront and irrevocable cancellation of eligible debt stock under the HIPC and MDRI enables the country to graduate from the economic supervision of the IMF and World Bank.

This may result not only in enhanced domestic fiscal space but also in the expansion of national policy space to enable our beloved country to design appropriate development strategies for economic growth and poverty reduction.

There we are, fellow Zimbabweans. Why not go the HIPC-way and get a fresh start as a country? Do we want to keep this burden over our heads when we can pass it on, even to those that we may consider evil? Shall we sacrifice the health and education prospects of 95% of our have-nots brothers and sisters because 5% of our affluent leaders feel humiliated by declaring our country a heavily indebted poor country? Had we not already slid into the bracket of poor nations when we failed to provide ourselves with medical care during the cholera epidemic? Or are we still in denial? Let us be real, accept our unfortunate situation, and have a new start. I do not believe we are “too rich to be poor”.

With the kind of thinking unfolding from those that are supposed to lead us, chances of ever eradicating poverty in Zimbabwe seem very remote, if not zero in our lifetime.

Not only is the country incapable of clearing its huge debt arrears of US$3,1 billion but is also struggling to pay salaries for its civil servants who are currently subsisting on less than US$5 per day (even senior RBZ employees’ pittance salaries are paid in envelopes and they are not given payslips, neither do they have bank accounts).

As Zimbabweans, it is incumbent upon us to say no to those that wish the perpetuation of the status quo, where 95% of the population remains poor while they accumulate more wealth. Otherwise we risk being judged harshly by future generations for having allowed those individuals to push us into abyss poverty.

Don’t you think those resources that you insist should clear arrears are rather better channelled towards buying books for pupils in secondary schools like Chasiyatende down in Chivi? For the parents of these pupils genuinely cannot afford to send them across the Limpopo for a decent education.
Why challenge the HIPC when it prioritises them?

Tivy Chinyange

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Candid Comment: Problem of fundamentalism in the media

Thursday, 08 October 2009 20:50
ADDRESS to Unesco Seminar for Editors: Building Bridges and Closing
the Gaps -- An Editors Dialogue Towards Common Ground at St Lucia Park,
Harare, on Tuesday.
AS I sat down to put together a few points for this event, my mind
never stopped wondering why Unesco did not think of a peace-keeping force
between the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity and the media,
principally the private media. We need to regain our peace, don't we, dear
And which organisation other than a UN agency to do peace enforcement
and then keeping ensuring that our mutual egos are satisfied that indeed
ours has been a cosmic conflict threatening international peace and
security! For the truth of the matter, Sir, is that you are dealing with two
professions where high egos drive and consume matters. Politics is a big-ego
field. So is journalism. As a student of the media, I often wonder whether
these two species realise how much they look alike, warts and all. Their
deformities are remarkably shared. So is the damage they wreak on mankind,
whether in partnership or as soon-to-reconcile contrarieties. If truth be
told, in our highly mediased world, politics plays out through the media.
This is why I am here as your permanent secretary. I was hired by politics
to make them pretty. I am politics' technician. I need you. Often, I demand
In our highly politicised environment, the media is politics, raw
politics, which is why you are here as little, imperfect shadows of
bickering politicians, hoping -- thanks to Unesco -- to broker your own GPA
as titles, as editors. However the talks go, please never create an
inclusive government! I am in the kitchen. There is lots of smoke but hardly
much cooking going on! Like me you have been hired by political publishers
to become their technicians to either defend and deepen the status quo or to
challenge and change it. You need me, the only difference being that some
need me alive while others need me in a coffin. Whether as a competent
communicator or a cold cadaver, you have me here and now.
Unesco has put together this roundtable to deal with the problem of a
polarised media. It is not an imaginary problem. It is real. Let us
acknowledge it. We in the ministry have acknowledged it. In fact the thesis
of a polarised media came from the ministry when all of you in the media
were still wondering what it was that afflicted you. But acknowledging a
problem is not accepting it. I take it this gathering is your statement of
rejecting continued polarisation. Your ministry has already rejected that
polarisation by way of the media indaba we held in Kariba and to which
Unesco was invited. This was our first tentative step towards rebuilding an
inclusive media industry in the country.
We intend to consolidate on the spirit of Kariba.
But let us be clear on what ailment we intend to cure. The problem is
polarisation which to me suggests unproductive divisions, barren antagonism
and extreme unreasonableness often translating into mutually ruinous camps.
My paper, my reporter, my story, my source, my editor, my publisher, my
principal/donor right or wrong: that attitude is what is wrong and
A problem of fundamentalism in the media; that to us in the ministry
is the problem. What is worse, it is given to sickening name-calling,
vicious "othering" or profiling.
It is the bane of unthinking egocentrism. Interestingly, Zimbabwean
editors have not lost one another over professional questions. The fury has
not been over training, remuneration, ethics, escalating input costs,
distribution, advertisers, tax regime, media financing, market depth and
efficiencies, or the ever-growing threat of an all-flattening Western global
media network. No! All these matters have been shunted aside, real and
pressing though they are. The fury has been over who makes a better prince
of power Robert Mugabe or Morgan Tsvangirai; over what makes a better party
Zanu PF or MDC-T. You have been polarised by politics, not by journalism.
Let that truth be acknowledged so we all know where and when the rain began
to beat us.
You have been polarised by politics not because you are victims of
politicians, but because you have become political yourselves. The
phenomenon of pressman-turned-political activist hit our newsrooms about the
same time of land reforms, itself another political milestone, not a
journalistic one. And when you bring in a dry log full of ants, expect a
visit from the lizard, Chinua Achebe reminded us.
My first postulate was that politics have become highly mediased and
that the media have become highly politicised. When you attempt to re-draw
the chasm that divides you, you discover it neatly coincides with the chasm
that splits the politics of the country. That tells you how political your
newsrooms are, or the obverse, how much of an enormous lie your pretensions
to apoliticalness is. The trouble in joining the political fray instead of
reporting it as you should comes particularly when the bickering politicians
begin to like or even love each other. You risk getting trampled upon as the
game of mad love begins. In Kariba my minister posed a question which he
never meant to be rhetorical. He asked: "If yesterday you differed over us
politicians, who are you still differing over, now that we politicians have
joined hands in the inclusive government? Whose army are you? Where is your
general? This question appears more poignant with each day that passes. When
Prime Minister Tsvangirai says 98% of the issues under GPA have been
overcome, how come only 2% have been overcome in the media? Is polarisation
a domestic question or an external one? What is the role of the persistently
unresolved EU/America--Zimbabwe dynamic in stoking the fires that burn
bridges? What is the role of foreign media donors typified by OSISA and its
various localised vehicles here in stiffening polarisation?
Why is a country so dubbed an investment black-hole such a roaring
attraction for the usually fastidious and choosy media funders and
investors? Let us not forget this very important foreign factor in our
search for solutions.
I place another dynamic on the table. Is partisanship the same as
polarisation? Is partisanship a problem for journalism? Is it desirable even
for all media to be pro-one thing? A campaign to get the Herald to become
the Independent or the Independent to become the Herald cannot be
media-related. It can only be political, bad politics at that. A sound
body-politic always has fissures and fissures come from institutions of
dissent, institutions that dare go against the spirit of the age. Whichever
part of the world you turn to, the media are organised along partisan lines.
Just last week, Rupert Murdoch's Sun decided it will shine on the
Conservatives. I was there in the UK as a student when the same Murdoch
decided way back in 1996/97 that the same Sun shines on Tony Blair and his
New Labour. As Murdoch flips to this party, flops to that other party, the
firmament of the British media industry does not fail! Quite the contrary
the industry remains both strong and united.
More important, as the Sun takes a political position, the editor and
his staff do not begin to overrun facts, create them even. The trouble
begins when you are in the habit of damning facts to damn politicians. There
is no necessary conflict between partisanship and professionalism, no
necessary link between partisanship and polarisation. Let the Herald remain
the Herald, the Financial Gazette the Financial Gazette, each marked off
against the other simply by contrasting perspectives. If that fundamental
position is granted by you here, your publishers will forthwith cease to
chase unattainable goals such as wishing or hoping for the destruction of
the other in the hope of editorial plenty. After all its Swiftian wisdom
that nothing is great or small except by comparison. Let us move away from
quality-implying name calling such as "government controlled" this or that.
Surely reverse logic will then demand that you match this by saying
"Trevor-controlled, Wilson-controlled, Curling-controlled, OSISA-funded.?"
Editorial differences need not polarise us.
It is a prerogative of an employed editor to wonder why this or that
organisation is in the media, or has grown into a behemoth. To an unemployed
media graduand, the cat catches the mouse. And as it turns out, the public
media has kept jobs, sustained families. Let us not create false issues.
With the changes in the media and laws governing the media, the only factor
which most likely will attract new investments in the media will be the
unresolved question between us and the British over land. Once that gets
resolved, the false effervescence in the media will die down. The public
media has been the source of stability and the growth there has been in the
industry. These are bare facts.
Going by a dominating ethic certainly does. We have witnessed, often
with alarm, bodies which are created in the name of the media by interests
and even personnel with nothing or little to do with the media.
There are councils, there are forums, which are just an obscenity by
founding, funding, goal and composition. You guys have tended to be
organised by money, never by promptings of your own minds, to adapt a
Shakespearian saying. The Voluntary Media Council will never come right
until and unless it abolishes itself, to again found itself as a genuine
media effort.
As if you have nothing to fear! The recent changes to the constitution
are ominous to the media and should have, one would have thought, galvanised
the industry into creating genuine, consensual bodies reflecting your will,
never of the external other. It scares me stiff when violent opposition to
the Media and Information Commission (MIC) is cured by a poor recreation of
the same MIC with greater powers implied by the aura of constitutionalism.
The raw message coming through the constitutional Zimbabwe Media Commission
(ZMC) is that better be misgoverned by gods than by mere mortals! That
bizarre logic prevailed because you were divided and were giving negotiating
politicians conflicting positions. You were unclear about what you did not
like, woefully even less clear about what you liked. I hope you are now
clearer about the media you want, lest you again miss the
constitution-making window to right things.
Greater fear for you must come from the inclusive government.
It gets worrisome when brand new ministers lean heavily on the
ministry to do "something" to the public media each time the news from there
is not quite flattering. It gets scaring when you editors echo the same
desire against your own simply because it is the Herald, the Sunday Mail,
etc. From my little stay in the house of politicians, no politician fears
the people. Politicians fear whoever it is that puts thoughts into the mind
of the people. With the inclusive government in place, there is a real risk
of consensual misgovernance, which is why you need to see and operate beyond
false boundaries.
But I have also said the inclusive government has done one thing which
is wonderful. It has clarified matters. In a situation where Zanu PF and MDC
formations are now in government, it means issues are no longer simplified
to this party's position or that party's position. Never has there been a
time in the history of this country that it has been possible to identify
and quantify the national interest which to me is what should be uppermost
in your minds. Increasingly hitherto warring politicians will have to share
glory, endure same blame. You as editors can only do so from a vantage point
which lies outside Zanu PF or MDC formations. That position can only be a
national one.
Lastly, the operating environment has been a very harsh one. Vital
inputs like newsprint have been hard to come by, harder to pay for. Printing
costs have been escalating. Distribution costs have been rising all the
time. Training costs have followed the same upward trend. Meanwhile the
reader had become more and more of a reluctant client much as we remain a
voraciously reading society.
Sooner than later, your publishers have to jump the chasm to share
these costs by building economies of scale. As your secretary, I cannot wait
for that time in the evolution of the media when I begin to tackle with you
these dangerously underestimated factors which to my mind have claimed more
media jobs than Aippa and Posa multiplied by a factor of 10.
Let me conclude by making a point or two on media legislation. I
making the point, I am fully conscious of incongruities I am creating for
myself. After the constitution of ZMC, and with the announcement of the new
board for Baz recently, the ministry will have little to do in respect of
enforcing rules of the media game. If anything, its role will trim down to
making policy, itself a residual role. What will enlarge is its role as a
media proprietor, which is why I deserve a seat on this table! We have
already accepted the Kariba recommendation to split Aippa into two laws
dealing with access issues and regulatory issues. From the tenor of
discussion and issues raised at Kariba, I do not anticipate a legislative
seismic shift. The shift will come from implementation and of course the
coming on stream of new actors. Had it not been for the freezing interim
judgment in the High Court, this programme of more voices would have already
There are two matters I do not agree to which have been done by the
inclusive government, specifically by the Finance ministry without any
consultation. I do not agree that Wilf Mbanga's Zimbabwean or the South
African-published Sunday Times must come into this market free of charge.
Meanwhile newsprint imported from South Africa is made to pay duty. Mbanga
pays nothing except what it takes to ship in his product. Trevor (Ncube)
pays all-round: from rates to NSSA, only to meet a footloose Mbanga at the
stalls. Ncube creates jobs here. Mbanga takes them to England. He does the
same with his sales. Let's not build market chasms. The practise of cover
tax is worldwide. It is meant to encourage growth and diversity in the home
market. Similarly, you cannot start piling dollars and concessions on
cell-phones while starving organs of mass communication such as the radio.
After twiddling with your blackberry, you still need to know how the world
has been beyond the internet. Personalised ICT builds on working platforms
of mass communication. The two measures are not developmental and we will
definitely be engaging Finance on these two measures. Had it not been for
our inventiveness, ZBC signal would have shrunk to well under 20% reach. How
do you talk about constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression when you
cannot impart of receive information simply because platforms have decayed
or gone obsolete through non-investment?

Charamba is Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Media, Information
and Publicity.

George Charamba

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Comment: Charamba's tune out of sync with unity government

Thursday, 08 October 2009 20:46
THERE were two significant events on Tuesday: the opening of
parliament by President Robert Mugabe and an address to editors by his
spokesman George Charamba. In parliament on Tuesday morning, Mugabe sought
to paint a picture of partners in the inclusive government working well
together. He spoke of the need to build bridges to the West saying the
"re-engagement with the European bloc was gathering momentum".

"Together let us build bridges of amity, forgiveness, trust and
togetherness," he said.

Across the city at St Lucia Park in Marlborough Charamba, who stood in
for Media minister Webster Shamu, told editors that the inclusive government
was not working.

"I am in the kitchen," said Charamba. "There is lots of smoke but
hardly much cooking going on."

Charamba, who described editors present as "imperfect shadows of
bickering politicians", and later on as media "fundamentalists",
extinguished all government pretensions to media reform when he threatened
with arrest editors of new media titles which want to come onto the market
without registration. He acknowledged that there was no authority at the
moment to register media outlets but then added chillingly: "If you find
yourself on the street without proper registration, you are inviting us to
act. and that we will do."

This would result in the police being sent to close the paper and
prosecuting reporters and proprietors.
This kind of thinking must be condemned as it belongs to the old order
of repression and crass intolerance. It has nothing to do with government
policy as expounded in the Global Political Agreement.

In this vein, it must be argued that the role of the Information
ministry should be to facilitate the opening of media space by actively
championing the revision and repeal of media laws which have abridged media
workers' ability to operate freely thereby stifling investment in the

We believe that the role of Charamba as a senior official of
government should be to advise his minister and government on how to promote
media plurality and remove obstacles to media reform by ensuring laws such
as Aippa, Posa and the egregiously unconstitutional sections of the Criminal
Law (Codification and Reform) Act are excised from the statute books.

But in his current form, we wonder what advice Charamba is proffering
to government with regards to media reform. Is it to close newspapers, to
stifle the coming on stream of new publications or crudely frustrating the
reform agenda for political expediency?

In light of his statements this week, we cannot trust Charamba as the
accounting officer in the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity to
superintend the transformation of media in this country. His were the sort
of utterances that relegate Zimbabwe to the league of international bad boys
and, with it, a threat to any attempts at international re-engagement.

More strikingly, Charamba appears to have all the answers and excuses
on why new players cannot join the fray. There is no licensing authority in
place is the common one. On Tuesday he said "had it not been for the
freezing interim judgement in the High Court (declaring the old MIC
redundant) this programme of more voices would have already started." How

So Charamba, in the absence of a licensing authority, sees his
ministry taking the enforcer role to ensure new players are killed off. That
enforcer role did not appear to apply to Zimpapers - in which government has
a controlling stake - publishing a new title in an environment where there
is no licensing authority! Charamba's excuse this time - that H-Metro had an
old licence issued by the MIC even if it was not utilised before the
six-month expiry period. He again had an excuse for this aberration:
Zimpapers took advantage of the absence of the MIC to publish because there
is no authority to enforce the law.

This is Charamba's own interpretation of the law. He wants us to
believe that this is the only correct explication. He wants to use his
influence to apply this interpretation as an edict from a deity and use the
police to enforce it and fight off any contestation. Is this not the stuff
that nourishes dictatorships? And what is a senior public servant doing
pursuing media policies at variance with declarations made in the GPA, the
Kariba conference, the Victoria Falls ministerial retreat, and numerous
investment meetings?

A government which wants to be seen to be opening media space does not
find excuses at every turn to stifle privately-owned media while allowing
pliant titles to circumvent a captive bureaucracy. What is more striking
about it all is that the same government playing the role of enforcer is
also a media proprietor seeking to expand its space. It is doing this by
putting roadblocks in the path of private players.

This cannot be allowed to carry on. This country deserves better
leadership and not crocodilian bureaucrats with parochial agendas conducting
rear-guard operations against agreed government policy.

We want to hear from partners in the inclusive government whether it
is a shared view that government will use strong-arm tactics to close new
titles which come on board without licences. We also want to know from
President Mugabe if the inclusive government has become an impediment to
media freedom or if individual officers are tree stumps on the road to
reform? Is this the amity and togetherness we aspire to as a nation?

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Editor's Memo: Zanu PF Must Stop Tribalism

Thursday, 08 October 2009 20:06
AFTER carrying a front-page story in our last edition about power
struggles and tribalism in Zanu PF, some angered politicians from the party
complained bitterly about the charges of ethnicity levelled against them by
their own colleagues. Fearing they would be stigmatised as reactionary and
divisive because of promoting ethnic divisions in this day and age instead
of seeking a new form on inclusive and nationalist politics, the politicians
made feeble protests about the report in a bid to distance themselves from
the problem.

The story was basically that Mashonaland West Zanu PF politburo
members who are mostly Zezuru have launched a campaign to weed out Karanga
politicians who are mainly from Masvingo province. The article was based on
a string of sources, including minutes of a Zanu PF Mashonaland West
provincial executive meeting held on September 28.

The official minutes of the meeting indicated that there were
politburo members in Mashonaland West - President Robert Mugabe's home
region - who are pushing an agenda of political ethnic purges in their areas
to restore Zezuru influence and dominance.

The minutes said there were in particular two politburo members who
have openly said "they dislike the Karangas and the Ndebeles" and as a
result they must be hounded out of the province. The minutes also said
recent suspensions of some senior members of the provincial executive were
based on tribal considerations.

While we accept that those named in the report were not found to give
comment on the allegations and that they have a right to complain, we do not
accept the attempt to obfuscate issues and intimidate journalists from doing
their work. The main point of the story was that there are complaints,
including in official party meetings, of tribalism within Zanu PF,
especially ahead of the party's congress in December.

Just like race issues, it is difficult and sometimes painful to
discuss tribal issues due to the emotions and reactions they often trigger.

Debate around these issues is usually seen as divisive and even
dangerous to the survival of a stable political order, but the reality is
that tribalism and other forms of prejudices including racism and gender
discrimination exist within our midst.

Some would prefer to suppress the problems, while other would want to
confront them head on. However, it is always better to have careful and
measured debate to ensure progressive engagement.

Tribalism south of the Sahara remains the dominant political force,
and with it poverty, exploitation by internal and external players and
genocide, still hold back the region's development.

The history of the problem can be traced back to ancient tribal
societies and colonial manipulation of those structures and rivalries.
Politicians have become the main agents of tribalism in modern African

Tribal grievances in Zanu PF are not new. There have been several
cases of tribal political contestations in Mashonaland West province in the
recent past. The case of Paul Mangwana who was allegedly chased out of the
province because he is Karanga is a telling example.

Of course, tribalism is not an exclusive Zanu PF enterprise and
monopoly. It exists in other political parties in Zimbabwe. It is common
cause that the main political parties in this country reflect certain ethnic
biases and influences which aggravate rather than tone down the problem.

Zanu PF has always been bedevilled by ethnic tensions and tribal
conflicts, especially during the liberation struggle. A number of
high-profile nationalist leaders and fighters died in tribal conflicts.

Writers like the late Masiphula Sithole in his book, Struggle within
the Struggle, and Ibbo Mandaza in his introduction to Tekere's
autobiography, A Lifetime of Struggle, wrote about the history, dynamics and
experiences of Zanu PF's parochial nationalism which was tinged with tribal
bigotry and ethnic infighting.

Despite Zanu PF being founded on the basis of nationalism and the need
to liberate the country from colonial rule and engage in serious nation
building, ethnicity has however remained entrenched within its structures.

After Independence in 1980, it soon became clear that Zanu PF, like
many other African nationalist movements, was largely shaped ideologically
by the basic anti-colonial sentiments with little substantive philosophical
content relevant to the day-to-day life of ordinary Zimbabweans in the
post-colonial state.

Zanu PF simply failed to provide the country with a compelling
intellectual, social, and political vision to ensure socio-economic
prosperity. Once in power and following extended years of leadership and
policy failures which led to economic collapse, Zanu PF's continued
anti-colonial discourse became irrelevant.

Its undeveloped ideological vision and shallow nationalism were
exposed as its government rapidly degenerated into an authoritarian regime
characterised by political repression and manipulation of the institutions
to serve the interests of the ruling political elite and their cronies.

A ruthless consolidation of power by tribal cliques within Zanu PF
also followed after Independence, while tribalism was institutionalised.
Political dissent, sometimes defined by ethnicity due to tribal frameworks
of governance, was brutally suppressed.

Much state activity was devoted to the pursuit of variously defined
forms of "economic development", but such development proved elusive and the
much-desired economic fruits of Independence generally failed to ripen. That
growth which did occur was usually to the benefit of the dominant political
class and possessed little popular appeal.

So it is unhelpful for Zanu PF politicians to try to intimidate
journalists when they raise these issues. What they should be doing is to
tackle the problem, together with racism and other forms of discrimination,
to cleanse their party and state institutions of these reactionary

Just as Kwame Nkrumah, Julius Nyerere, Kenneth Kaunda and Nelson
Mandela fought ethnicity within their movements and countries, with varying
degrees of success, Zanu PF leaders must rise to the occasion and fight
tribalism in their party, state institutions and anywhere else it is found
in Zimbabwe.

Dumisani Muleya

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Zim Independent Letters

Local Potato Prices a rip off

Thursday, 08 October 2009 20:25
POTATOES are to me what mealie meal is to most Zimbabweans -- staple
food.    When I was last in Messina a 10 kg pocket of potatoes cost 20  rand
which at the time equated to US$2.   They were sold in Harare at
approximately US$10, the same price as locally grown ones. Importation of
potatoes is no longer permitted by the government, obviously in order to
protect local farmers.

So what do they do? They escalate the price by some 50% to US$15,50 a
pocket or US$ 1,95 a kg for inferior quality produce covered in mud, often
"green" and chopped by badzas.

Talk about exploitation of the gullible public!   I for one will let
them rot in the supermarkets and hope the growers go bust.


Passport Office Must be Business-minded

Thursday, 08 October 2009 20:18
IN any economy and business "cash is king" and so is the customer.
This appears not to be the case at the passport office. The long snaking
queues have started again especially for the US$143 two-week passport.

The natural response of any business or government to such a welcome
upsurge in business is to increase resources especially on the payments

I have been to the passport office at least twice with the intention
of submitting my own applications for a cool $286, but gave up as the queues
hardly move.

It is as if the passports are for free or Zimbabwe dollars yet people
are paying hard-to-find United States dollars which the very same government
claims to be bankrupt of.

It should not cost too much to have five payments cashiers clearing
those queues.

To make matters worse the payments collections office closes early,
turning back people with greenbacks home.

I would estimate the amount of cash that the passport office fails to
collect daily could be in excess of US$10 000.

The current scenario at the passport office is fertile for
rent-seeking behaviour from government officials that see an opportunity to
line their pockets.

The amount of time those at work or business will lose to get in a
passport application is immeasurable on an economy we are trying to get back
on its feet.

We are paying real money and the passport office is not doing us a
favour. We deserve service.

Sober Capitalist,

Teachers Need to be Appreciated

Thursday, 08 October 2009 20:16
MONDAY October 5 was World Teachers' Day.   It is a day when we
appreciate the role played by teachers in the development of the world, and
in our case, in the development of Zimbabwe.   Teachers played a key role in
the liberation struggle for Zimbabwe.  Both Zanu and Zapu, the two
liberation movements of the 1960s and 1970s, placed great emphasis on
education, and ran schools in Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia.
Tens of thousands of young people attained their primary and secondary
education whilst they were refugees in these countries.  Thousands of
freedom fighters were also able to improve their education whilst they were
in base camps in these countries. The two liberation movements sent
thousands of young people to university, mainly in African countries, such
as Botswana, Lesotho, Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Algeria and Libya amongst
many.  Teachers played a noble role in the intellectual liberation of the
After Independence, teachers again came to the fore.  With only a
third of children able to obtain primary education and a mere four percent
able to obtain secondary education before Independence, teachers played a
monumental role in bringing about primary education for all in the 1980s and
1990s.  They provided good quality secondary education under very difficult
conditions.  It is through their dedication that Zimbabweans today are able
to find jobs all over the world.
More recently teachers in Zimbabwe became victims of political
violence.  Things became even worse by mid-2008, when education was almost
totally disrupted, as Zanu PF youths took over schools, and in the process
stopped educational activities from being carried out effectively.  Teachers'
houses were torched, and many teachers were forced to flee from the rural
areas.  How did the teachers who fought for the liberation of Zimbabwe and
built up the education system become the victims of the very youth they were
supposed to educate?
The answer can be found in what has happened in Zimbabwe over the past
decade and a half. Having achieved a high level of education for the
majority in the 1980s up until the mid-1990s, things began to deteriorate.
By 2000, 196 000 children who had enrolled in grade one eight years earlier,
had dropped out of school.  That is a lot of drop outs, and without
secondary education these young people have little hope of a good future.
There are few jobs in Zimbabwe for them, and they will not be able to find
good jobs in the Diaspora without secondary and tertiary education.
Tragically these young people, who have been forced to leave school through
lack of fees and through the deterioration of the education system, have
been victimised.  They have been misled to vent their anger on teachers.
They have utilised violence, including rape, on so-called "sell outs", many
of whom were teachers.  Teachers were blamed for the large voter turnout for
the two MDCs and Mavambo Kusile Dawn (MKD), against Zanu PF.  In actual
fact, teachers had little to do with the results of the March 2008
Elections.  People, especially those in former Zanu PF strongholds, such as
Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Mashonaland West, who were
specially targeted for violence, were actually organised by their leaders
within Zanu PF to vote for the Zanu PF parliamentary and senate candidates,
but not for President Robert Mugabe.  This strategy of theirs was known as
"kicking the ball out of the football grounds".  How can teachers be blamed
for a strategy which came from the divided Zanu PF itself??
Meanwhile the rapid devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar pauperised
almost the whole population, in particular teachers who did not have land to
grow their own food.  By the end of 2008 teachers were being paid the
equivalent of US$2 per month. In the rural areas, parents had to provide
food for their teachers.  By September 2008 teachers had gone on strike,
protesting against the fact that they could not feed themselves or their
On World Teachers' Day, it is incumbent on all Zimbabweans to focus on
what is good for the nation as a whole, rather than what is good for a small
privileged  group who are prepared to exploit and criminalise unemployed
youths to further their corrupt hold on power.  Teachers should concentrate
on their key role of building a better Zimbabwe through education.  They
must ensure that the 196 000 dropouts a year are not forgotten, but can
catch up educationally.  They must also help in the education of the
communities they live in.  The nation as a whole should concentrate too on
building a better Zimbabwe, and supporting our teachers who are aiming at
the same goal.

Fayking Chung, This e-mail address is being protected from
spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Zou Tuition Fees Exorbitant

Thursday, 08 October 2009 20:10
I AM not a regular letter writer but I have been prompted to write  by
the shocking tuition fees being demanded by the Zimbabwe Open University
(Zou). I appreciate that tertiary education should not be cheap but I think
this time they have gone too far. In our department we are being expected to
pay US$90 per subject and in my case I am supposed to pay for three. Add to
this since I am supposed to pay off my research project which is another

According to Zou I can pay 60% of these amounts this month which
roughly amounts to US$200 and still this amount is highly prohibitive.

I am a civil servant and my net salary does not even reach the amounts
I have stated above and it will require a miracle for me to be able to
register this semester.

I am therefore appealing to the responsible authorities, particularly
the Education minister, to reduce the fees to manageable amounts so that we
can finish our programmes.

Government needs to come in and subsidise Zou so that we may continue
learning. I am sure I speak for many who will be able to register this
semester because of the fees.

Shepherd Makoni,

SMS The Zimbabwe Independent
Thursday, 08 October 2009 20:09
I AM quite amazed by the ignorant ministers who refuse to accept that
Zimbabwe is already a desperate basket case. They continue to live in luxury
while the rest live in extreme poverty. They run around in their expensive
cars and then pretend to understand the needs of the people on the ground
foraging for the next meal. Tendai Biti should keep pushing for these
changes and I hope by some miracle they get through.
Zviko Chigumba.

THOSE opposed to the HIPC are burying their heads in the sand and
misunderstanding the state the country is in. If Zimbabwe can persuade our
debtors to cancel our debts that is what we should do with vigour. This
schizophrenia that the West is out to get Zimbabwe is a minority view held
by the very people who destroyed the economy in the first place. The country
needs to restore basic services, like education and infrastructure.

THE MDC has managed to bring about economic stability in six months,
something Zanu PF had failed to achieve in a quarter of a century.

HOW sad that a political party as big as Zanu PF has failed to replace
their octogenarian leader. Does that mean that there is none that can
replace Robert Mugabe? I wonder what will happen if he were to die.
Royal Ruuku, Banket.

SECURITY chiefs are becoming too big for their own boots. They think
that they can hold the nation to ransom with their partisan stance. In
future they will stand to regret their actions.

THE land allocation process is full of surprises. Five to 10 offer
letters are given for one farm or plot coming from the same office
allocating the land. There should not be any confusion in that process and
all Zimbabweans regardless of race must benefit.
T Munyanyi.

ZANU PF and their sidekicks are the worst hypocrites. They harass,
torture and maim  political opponents and activists such as Jestina Mukoko
on spurious charges. After they are cleared by the courts, the perpetrators
are the first to announce to the whole world  that there is rule of law in
Chibox, Marondera.

WHY are we being asked to top up for passports we applied for in 2006
in Bulawayo?
POLITICIANS should not be allowed to get away with silly statements.
Whilst Jonathan Moyo is free to rejoin Zanu PF, he should not patronise the
nation by saying that the facts have changed. He also displays a lot of
arrogance in implying that those who do not agree with his opinions need to
see a psychiatrist.

JONATHAN Moyo is a sickening example of how low politicians can go to
get back on the gravy train. How dare he speak of democracy and the freedom
to associate in justifying his misdeeds?

I BELIEVE the people of Tsholotsho North deserve more than just an
apology from Jonathan Moyo. They voted for an independent candidate, not a
Zanu PF one and like the other constituents who were represented by the
dismissed MDC MPs, they should have a right to choose another candidate of
their choice. Moyo can re-enter the elections as a Zanu PF candidate and we
will see how he fares.

EVERY Zimbabwean residing in any part of the world should not be
denied the right to vote and I hope that the constitution has this sacred

WOMEN from Mupedzanhamo flea market are allowed to demonstrate and
even given police escort yet Woza members were thoroughly beaten for doing
the same in Bulawayo. It seems some animals are more equal than others!

CONSTANTINE Chimakure's article calling for transparency in the Prime
Minister's Office made me love the Independent. I have become sick and tired
of MDC-T praise singing much like what the Herald does where Zanu PF is
Baba Chemwandoita.

FAITH Zaba's Editor's Memo made a very important observation; David
Coltart is not an educationist and should consult widely with those who know
better in the field. We are fed up with his confusion.
Frustrated teacher.

WHY are teachers' associations deducting money from teachers' salaries
without informing us first?
Teacher Kybee.

WHO is going to take Zesa to task over their extremely high tariffs?
We wait to see the one who will stand for the poor and the vulnerable.
Herbert Mugwagwa.

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Bill Watch Special of 8th October2009 [Reserve Bank Amendment Bill]


[8th  October 2009]

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Amendment Bill

This Bill was agreed to in Cabinet and was gazetted on the 14th August.  It could be introduced into Parliament at any time after the Houses resume on the 20th October.  [Electronic version of Bill available on request – also copy of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act showing the effect of the amendments proposed by the Bill.]  The House of Assembly’s Portfolio Committee on Budget, Finance, Economic Planning and Investment Promotion has the duty to consider the Bill and to table a report before the House of Assembly when the Bill has its Second Reading [House of Assembly Standing Order 105].  This portfolio committee could well meet during these next two weeks before Parliament sits again.  The committee clerk has said that it is hoped that there will be a public hearing, but this is not certain, so it would be advisable for stakeholders and interested members of the public to submit any representations they may have on the Bill to the portfolio committee now. 

Outline of the Bill

According to the Bill’s explanatory memorandum, the Bill seeks to bring the powers of the Governor of the Reserve Bank under the control of the Bank’s Board, to clarify the Bank’s functions and to increase the Bank’s reserves.  These objectives are to be achieved in the following ways:

A. The Bank’s powers and functions will be limited by:

1.           divesting the Bank of the function of furthering the Government’s economic policies [clause 2];

2.           restricting the Bank’s power to deal in gold and precious metals.  It will be allowed to do so “only to the extent strictly necessary to comply with its international obligations” [clause 3] [but does the Bank — as opposed to the State — have any such obligations?];

3.           preventing the Bank from opening credits and giving guarantees [clause 3] [this will be a considerable reduction in its powers];

4.           preventing the Bank from borrowing foreign currency on its own behalf;  it will be able to do so only on the State’s behalf and only to the extent that its reserves are not adversely affected [clause 3];

5.           restricting the Bank’s power to lend money [clause 5].  In this regard:

a.                       it will be allowed to lend money to the State and parastatals only if:

§   the loan [presumably this is the total of all loans — the Bill is not clear] does not exceed 20 per cent of the State’s revenues in the previous financial year;

§   the loan is denominated in Zimbabwean currency [it is not clear how this applies in the present multi-currency situation];

§   the loan is repayable within, at most, two years;

§   in the case of a loan to a parastatal, the loan has been approved by the Minister of Finance and is either repayable within a year or converted into State-backed securities;

b.                       the Bank’s function of lender of last resort to banking institutions will be limited to three-month loans given with the approval of the Minister of Finance to support banks’ daily lending business [It is not clear if these limitations will override the Bank’s lending powers under the Banking Act  – this Act available on request];

c.                        the Bank’s power to lend money to its employees will be limited to loans that are commensurate with those given by commercial banks to their employees;

6.           divesting the Bank’s Board of power to determine Zimbabwe’s monetary policy, to ensure price stability and to fix interest rates;  those powers will be transferred to a Monetary Policy Committee consisting of the Governor and his deputies, and other members appointed by the President after consultation with the Minister of Finance [clause 13];

7.           requiring the Bank to maintain reserves to cover all its liabilities to the public in Zimbabwe;  at present its reserves need cover only 40 per cent of its foreign liabilities [clause 17];

8.           requiring the Bank to give the Minister quarterly statements showing the state of its reserves, and obliging the Minister to table the statements in the House of Assembly [clause 17];

9.           divesting the Bank of all the subsidiary companies through which it carried out its “quasi-fiscal activities”.  The only companies it will retain are the two that print currency notes and deal in gold.  The Bank’s shares in all the other companies are to be transferred to the State, apparently without compensation [clause 19].

B. The Bank’s internal procedures will be improved

The Bank will be obliged to establish an audit committee [clause 13].

C. The powers of the Minister of Finance over the Bank and its officers will be enhanced by:

1.           obliging the Bank to follow the Minister’s instructions when representing Zimbabwe’s interests at foreign meetings and in international organisations [clause 2];

2.           ensuring that any instructions given to the Bank by “the State” are conveyed to it through the Minister [clause 4] [so the President will not  officially have independent access to the Bank and its Governor];

3.           requiring the Board to consult the Minister before appointing an acting Governor if the Governor’s office falls vacant [clause 6] [currently the President appoints an acting Governor in such circumstances];

4.           making the Minister’s permanent secretary a non-voting member of the Bank’s Board [clause 8];

5.           obliging the Bank’s Board to send the Minister copies of minutes of all its meetings [clause 11];

6.           setting up an oversight committee consisting of the Minister’s permanent secretary and all other Board members to conduct a twice-yearly review of the Bank’s performance [clause 13];

7.           most importantly, empowering the Minister to give general policy directives to the Bank’s Board, which the Board will have to carry out “with all due expedition” [clause 18].

D. The Governor’s powers will be limited:

1.           the Governor will no longer be able to appoint a deputy to act for him in his absence;  this power will go to the Board [clause 6] — though, somewhat contradictorily, the President rather than the Board will appoint a deputy chairperson to chair its meetings in the Governor’s absence [clause 10];

2.           the Governor’s wide power to delegate functions to officials in the Bank will have to be exercised subject to the Board’s directives [clause 7].

E. Board members to disclose assets

The Bill will oblige all members of the Bank’s Board to disclose their assets to the President within a month after the Bill becomes law [clause 19].  [Regrettably, there is no provision requiring the President to publish the lists of assets so disclosed.]

Merits and Demerits of the Bill

The Bill has been criticised in the Press on the grounds that it reduces the Bank’s independence and, while limiting the Governor’s powers, gives excessive powers of oversight to the Minister of Finance.  In particular, the proposal to allow the Minister to give directives as to the policies the Bank must pursue is criticised as being contrary to international best practice, which requires central banks to be independent.  And finally, the Governor of the Bank is reported to have protested at the State’s acquisition of the Bank’s shares in its subsidiary companies, on the ground that depositors’ money was used to acquire the shares and the acquisition amounts to an expropriation of that money.  There is substance in some of these criticisms.

A. Independence of Bank

It seems to be generally accepted that central banks should be given a large measure of operational independence.  The draft SADC Model Central Bank Law, for example, seeks to enshrine the principle that central banks in the region should “act independently and without fear, favour or prejudice or direction from any authority or institution”.  Internationally, the more effective central banks are those with the greatest independence:  the U.S. Federal Reserve, for example, and the European Central Bank.  The powers that the Bill will give the Minister, in particular the power to give policy directives to the Bank, will make it impossible to say that the Bank is truly independent.  It may be in practice, of course, because the Minister may choose not to control the Bank.  But potentially he will be able to do so, which means the Bank will be subject to direction and control by the Government.  And experience has shown that Ministers who are given powers tend to exercise them.

B. Bank’s functions

In clarifying and reducing the Bank’s functions, the Bill is sound.  The scope for engaging in “quasi-fiscal activities” will be greatly reduced, and the Bank will be confined to its core functions:  setting monetary policy and ensuring price stability.  The Governor is reported to have welcomed the clarification, saying that it is noble for RBZ to focus on its core business.

C. Reserves

Similarly, the statutory controls which the Bill will impose on the reserves kept by the Bank can only benefit the country.  The Bank will no longer be able to run down the reserves to nugatory levels.  It should be remembered that they are not the Bank’s reserves:  they are the country’s reserves and the country, represented by the Government, must have a say in how they are maintained.

D. Reduction of the Governor’s powers

The Governor’s powers will undoubtedly be reduced by the Bill.  He will no longer be able to delegate powers to subordinates without the Board’s permission, and he, like the Board, will have to obey the Minister’s directives.  This reduction in the Governor’s powers is no bad thing.  While one may accept that the Bank itself should be independent, that is no reason for giving its chief executive officer overreaching powers within the Bank’s structure. 

E. Corporate Governance

Some of the changes to the Bank’s corporate structure will be beneficial – that the Bank will be required to establish an audit committee is in line with international best practice; and the provisions that the Board should send its minutes to the Minister, to keep him or her abreast of what the Bank is doing, and that the Bank’s quarterly statements are presented to Parliament will increase transparency.  On the other hand, the establishment of a committee to formulate the country’s monetary policy, to ensure price stability and to set interest rates, seems to leave the Board of the Bank with little to do.  The committee’s three functions comprise the main functions of any central bank.  If those functions are to be handed over to a committee, what role is the Board to perform?  Similarly, the new oversight committee — which is really the Board chaired by the Minister’s permanent secretary — is unnecessary.  Why should the Board have to reconvene itself into a committee, with a new chairperson, to consider reports from the Bank’s audit committee?

F. Seizure of shares

It is doubtful if the Government’s proposed expropriation of the Bank’s shares in subsidiary companies is constitutional.  This clause may, therefore, attract an adverse report from the Parliamentary Legal Committee.  It would have been better if the Bill had simply required the Bank to divest itself of the shares.  [The clause’s unconstitutionality lies in the fact it makes no provision for compensation, or for notice to be given, or for an appeal to the Administrative Court, or for any of the other procedures required by section 16 of the Constitution.  The proposed expropriation of shares would be permissible only if they were “held by a body corporate established directly by law for a public purpose in which no moneys have been invested other than moneys provided from public funds” [section 16(9)(b) of the Constitution].  The Bank is certainly a body corporate established directly by law for a public purpose, but according to the Governor it has been engaging in “retail banking”, accepting deposits from embassies, NGOs and parastatals, etc., and some of their money was used to purchase the shares.  Whether the Bank was entitled to engage in such banking business is itself doubtful [the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Act does not seem to allow it] but presumably the Government expressly or tacitly permitted the Bank to do so.  Hence it may be hard for the State to maintain that no money other than public money has been invested in the Bank, which it must do, if the acquisition of shares is to be brought within the provisions of section 16 of the Constitution.] 


The Bill will undoubtedly improve the internal workings of the Reserve Bank.  It will make the Bank more open and more accountable, and will restrict the Bank to its core functions.  But it will also reduce the Bank’s independence.  However, those who oppose the Bill on this ground have to face that independence can lead to the Bank and its officials becoming less accountable to the people, whom they are appointed to serve and that independence does not guarantee that the Bank will perform its functions competently.  While the Bank was independent, its Governor and Board permitted Zimbabweans to suffer the highest level of hyper-inflation seen in modern times, and permitted the value of the Zimbabwean dollar to collapse to nothing.  If Government oversight is the price we must pay for accountability and competence, it may be a price worth paying.  The ideal would be to achieve a balance between independence and accountability.


Veritas makes every effort to ensure reliable information, but cannot take legal responsibility for information supplied.


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