|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
PINK bauhinia blossoms float on the trees surrounding
House, and two green-liveried soldiers stand guard in immaculate white
sentry boxes, Buckingham Palace-style.
People, hurrying past the rifle-toting marksmen at the corner of the road,
can see no indication that Robert Mugabe intends to quit his official
residence any time soon.
But that could be about to change. Sixteen miles away in Helensvale, one of
Harare’s best locales, the president has built a lavish, 25-bedroom mansion.
While last year the Zimbabwean leader urged hungry supporters to "brace
yourselves for hard times", Mr Mugabe apparently does not intend to live out
his life in penury.
Thick cypress trees hide most of the president’s new plot, on Borrowdale
Brook Road, but driving past this week, it was possible to get a glimpse of
the three-storey, white, pagoda-style building, jarringly out of place among
the low bungalows and scorched fields that characterise much of the area.
The building, just metres back from a narrow track, has dozens of dark
arched windows with a pale wooden trim and deep blue roofing tiles.
The tiles are said to have been imported from Shanghai. China has been a
vocal supporter of Mr Mugabe’s controversial land reform programme, and
Zimbabwe is keen to strengthen ties, however symbolic, with its new
The mansion is clearly nearing completion. It is said to contain a
gymnasium, office suites, computerised monitors, private entertainment
facilities and security checkpoints.
Mugabe’s wife, Grace, with her taste for luxury and shopping, has supervised
the decor, reportedly with pieces from the Middle East.
The former secretary, 38, owned her own palace just a few hundred metres
away, but was forced to sell it in 2001, amid allegations she had plundered
a low-cost housing scheme for civil servants to build it.
Surveyors estimate that Mr Mugabe’s new home has cost at least £4 million,
an enormous sum in a country where nearly half the people need food aid.
"Such opulence on the part of the leader of the country is fairly immoral,"
a political analyst, Professor Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, told The Scotsman.
"In a situation in which the general welfare of the people has been eroded
over the past three years, any extravagance on the part of those who are
supposed to be putting in place policies to make an economic turnaround is
quite shocking," he said.
Mr Mugabe is not the only ruling party official to have invested in the area
recently. As shacks and sewerless settlements mushroom on the edges of
Harare’s packed suburbs, well-heeled northern areas have seen a building
One businessman-turned-ruling party MP, Phillip Chiyangwa, openly boasts of
his new 18-bedroom mansion, complete with computerised clothing selector, in
rural Zimbabwe, which has been featured in the state media.
No such coverage has appeared about Mr Mugabe’s villa, fuelling rumours that
it could be part of a secret step-down strategy.
In April, Mr Mugabe told state television he was "getting to a stage" where
retirement was possible. His health is the subject of fevered speculation.
This month, the South African press reported that he was going to Iran to
have a urological problem treated.
The report was angrily quashed, but last week the local pressure group,
Zvakwana ("that’s enough" in the Shona language), said some Borrowdale
residents had been contacted by officials.
They "were asking residents whether they were interested in selling their
places, as if ZANU-PF wanted to take over the whole of this northern
suburb", the group said in adverts in the now-banned Daily News.
Not all analysts are convinced. "The construction might not be a signal of
anything else except insensitivity towards the suffering of the people,"
says Prof Mukonoweshuro, noting Mugabe has built at least one other mansion.
At any rate, Mr Mugabe does not seem to be banking on a peaceful post-power
existence in his villa. One report suggests that it includes concrete
Zimbabwe's Independent Paper Asks High Court to Stop Police Action
17 Sep 2003, 16:59 UTC
The Zimbabwe High Court is to hear an urgent application by Zimbabwe's only
independent daily newspaper, which wants to stop the police from seizing its
assets. The application was made Tuesday by the Associated Newspapers of
Zimbabwe, which publishes the Daily News, after armed police started packing
the company's office equipment and carting it off. The police raid follows
last week's Supreme Court ruling that the newspaper had to register with the
Media and Information Commission.
The police told Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe Chief Executive Officer
Sam Siphepha Nkomo that they did not need a warrant or court order to take
the equipment. They said it would be used as evidence in a case against him
of operating an unregistered company. The police charged Mr. Nkomo last
Mr. Nkomo says the police action is illegal and is meant to frustrate the
paper's effort to resume publication. The police are saying that the Daily
News should not have published on Friday after the Supreme Court ruling that
said it had to comply with the registration provisions of the controversial
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.
But Mr. Nkomo disagrees with the police interpretation.
"We did not understand the Supreme Court as saying we must stop," he said.
"They merely said we were operating outside the law so we tried to
regularize, there was no reason for us to stop publishing."
Condemnation of the closure of the Daily News continues to come from various
organizations within and outside Zimbabwe. The Human Rights Committee of the
General Council of the Bar of South Africa calls it an act of State
sponsored lawlessness. The International Press Institute called for the
Zimbabwean government to withdraw its police and allow the newspaper to
continue publishing and to scrap all repressive media legislation.
In a related incident, police arrested two photographers for taking pictures
of them as they seized Daily News office equipment on Tuesday. The men were
released after paying a fine for what the police called 'conduct likely to
provoke a breach of the peace.' They said they only paid the fine to avoid
spending a night in the filthy and overcrowded police cells.
Botswana Daily News
EU suspends Zim programmes
18 September, 2003
The European Union (EU) says it has suspended or re-oriented certain
financial and development cooperation programmes with the Government of
Zimbabwe because it has not complied with the provisions of the pertinent
The EU said in a press release from the British High Commission in
Gaborone that it took this action also because the political and economic
environment was not conducive to development co-operation with government
According to the EU this was not imposing economic or trade sanctions
The EU was responding to recent statements made by Zimbabwe officials
and underlined by the local press on the occasion of the recent SADC Summit
in Dar Es Salaam.
According to the statements, the "sanctions" imposed against Zimbabwe
by the EU have accelerated the economic crisis and brought about suffering
for the population.
The EU said the cause of serious social and economic crisis that
Zimbabwe was experiencing, should be sought in appropriate economic
policies, the manner in which the land reform has been carried out, drought
and the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The EU has therefore adopted measures that included freezing of
personal assets of senior governments and high-ranking officials, the
prevention the same officials from travel to EU member states and the
embargo on the sale of arms, as a result of the breakdown of the rule of law
and human rights abuses.
"None of the these measures could effect or cause any hardships to the
Zimbabwean population." In the last two years, the EU and its member states
gave 300 million Euro to the people of Zimbabwe as humanitarian assistance.
In addition the EU and its member states have funded projects in
direct support of the people of Zimbabwe in poverty alleviation, education,
infrastructure, human rights and democratisation.
The EU said it was committed to engaging the Government of Zimbabwe in
a comprehensive dialogue on difficulties experienced in the country with the
aim of restoring political, social and economic stability. BOPA
Police keep up pressure on paper
September 18, 2003
Harare - Police have been removing computers from the offices of the
Daily News as lawyers struggle to get a court hearing to stop authorities
closing the newspaper down.
"Police are camped in the offices," Sam Sipepa Nkomo, chief executive
of Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe, which owns the newspaper, said
"They took 26 computers and servers yesterday, and today they want to
remove more things," he said.
Armed police stormed into the premises on Friday and declared the
paper banned following a court ruling that said the newspaper was illegal
because it had not registered with a state-controlled press watchdog.
On Tuesday, the paper's owners filed an
application for an urgent
hearing with a judge to order the authorities to stop ransacking the offices
and allow it to resume publishing.
However, Nkomo said lawyers had been able to secure a hearing only at
about midday today..
.. The human rights committee of the General
Council of the Bar of SA
has urged the South African government to put pressure on the Zimbabwean
government to reopen the Daily News. - Sapa
ZANU PF grills Zvobgo
Brian Mangwende Chief Reporter
9/17/2003 10:11:11 PM (GMT +2)
FIREBRAND Member of Parliament for Masvingo South and former ZANU PF
legal supremo Eddison Zvobgo, one of the country’s biggest political egos
whose star is on the wane, will today appear before a highly charged
disciplinary committee on allegations that he refused to campaign for
President Robert Mugabe in last year’s deeply divisive presidential
The head of the disciplinary committee and ZANU PF’s national chairman
who is also the Minister of Special Affairs in the President’s Office, John
Nkomo, confirmed to The Financial Gazette this week that Zvobgo will be
hauled before the committee today to defend allegations levelled against
This is despite the fact that some ruling party officials are said to
be against this idea as they feel that this is an issue that risks opening
old wounds that had not healed and should therefore be dropped.
There are also fears of making something of a public mess of the
discord simmering within ZANU PF, whose officials are not singing from the
same song sheet over the Zvobgo issue.
"I can confirm that this Thursday we will be receiving evidence on the
matter," Nkomo said. "Zvobgo will be called in to defend himself. The
allegations have to be substantiated."
Nkomo would not be drawn into elaborating Zvobgo’s fate if he was
convicted, although independent commentators believed that Zvobgo could be
written out of the ruling party’s political script and meet the same fate as
did his erstwhile colleague, ZANU PF’s former firebrand secretary-general
Edgar Tekere, who was expelled from the party in 1989 for opposing the idea
of a one-party state. Tekere has since sunk into political oblivion after
unsuccessfully trying to challenge President Mugabe as an opposition leader.
"Just like in any organisation, there are structures to deal with
disciplinary matters. I cannot speculate on that," said Nkomo, refusing to
speculate on the fate of the now largely subdued Zvobgo, once considered a
rising star in the political firmament who could challenge President Mugabe
for the leadership of both ZANU PF and the country.
Despite the potential seen in him by observers, Zvobgo, touted as one
of the sharpest legal brains in Zimbabwe, has remained a
could-have-been-that-never-was and has even publicly stated that he would
not challenge President Mugabe.
Considered something of an enigma within the country’s body politic,
Zvobgo has since dismissed the allegations levelled against him as
trumped-up charges. Zvobgo, who many thought would switch politics for law
after a run-in with his ZANU PF colleagues amid infighting in the party, is
on record as having said that the allegations were "demeaning and a pack of
lies" soon after word got out that he would be dragged in front of a
disciplinary committee. He accused his colleagues within the ruling party of
drumming up charges of disloyalty against him in relentless efforts to have
him kicked out of ZANU PF.
He attacked those "demeaning him" saying they were visitors and
strangers to ZANU PF with nothing to lose if ZANU PF is harmed. It is these
"strangers" that would be among some of the people to decide his fate,
observers said, adding that his war credentials would not serve him because,
even ZANU PF, a party accused of living in the past, had now realised that
this was no longer going to be a rallying point for the future.
Impeccable sources within ZANU PF told this newspaper that what could
have landed Zvobgo in trouble was a statement he is alleged to have made in
a local newspaper saying that he stood to lose nothing if the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) won the presidential election or lost,
adding that either way he would remain the legislator for Masvingo South
Ahead of the presidential election last year, two bitter factions
emerged in Masvingo, one reportedly led by ailing Vice President Simon
Muzenda and the other by Zvobgo who over the years has built a strong
political power base on his undoubted personal magnetism. ZANU PF, which has
previously shown a subtle flush of impatience with Zvobgo, a compelling
speaker endowed with charm and eloquence, felt that this could have
jeopardised President Mugabe’s chances of victory.
General Vitalis Zvinavashe reportedly convened a meeting with both
factions at his Tynwald home, Harare, with a view to ironing out the
long-standing differences because it was felt that ZANU PF, facing a stiff
challenge from the MDC tapping from a deep well of disenchantment of a
disillusioned populace, would perform dismally if it went to the election
Key ally S Africa turns back on Zim
9/17/2003 10:11:49 PM (GMT +2)
SOUTH Africa, a key ally of Zimbabwe which is increasingly being
ostracised by the international community, has turned its back on its
northern neighbour giving in to Nigeria’s decision to exclude the southern
African country from the Commonwealth summit slated for December in Abuja.
Both Nigeria and South Africa had been key allies of Zimbabwe, having
fought vigorously for its re-admission into the Commonwealth at the last
summit that tore the members along racial lines. But the latest development
however casts fresh doubts over prospects of Zimbabwe being readmitted into
the club any time soon.
South Africa’s sudden about-turn averted a potentially explosive row
that could have split the Commonwealth group of 54 nations comprising of
mainly former British colonies. The decision by South Africa, which because
of its diplomatic and economic power to influence the situation in Zimbabwe,
has been at the centre of sensitive arbitrage to bring about a negotiated
settlement to the country’s political crisis, came after Nigeria said that
Zimbabwe and Pakistan remained banned from the summit.
Gbenga Ashiru, the Nigerian government official in charge of regions
and international organisations, said: "Zimbabwe and Pakistan have not been
invited to the Commonwealth summit because they are still under suspension
for violating the 1991 Harare Declaration. There is no way the suspension of
the two countries can be lifted before the summit."
The shift in South Africa’s position comes against the backdrop of a
police clampdown on Zimbabwe’s only independent daily newspaper, The Daily
News, and its recently launched sister paper, The Daily News on Sunday,
whose office equipment worth millions of dollars was confiscated by the
police this week.
"We must realise there is a lot of politics involved in this," South
African President Thabo Mbeki’s spokesman, Bheki Khumalo, told The Financial
Gazette by telephone yesterday. "We criticised the Australians for going
public on this matter because we believe the decision lies with the
Nigerians. We will respect whatever the Nigerians decide."
Asked if South Africa was going to lobby Nigeria to invite Zimbabwe to
the Abuja summit, Khumalo said: "There is no need to lobby anyone. Whatever
conclusion the Nigerians make, we will respect."
Australia has championed a campaign to ban Zimbabwe’s President Robert
Mugabe from attending the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM)
in Abuja. Zimbabwe was suspended from the club of former British colonies in
March last year for violating the 1991 Harare Declaration on human rights,
rule of law and the principles of democracy.
The suspension was extended to December when the Commonwealth leaders
are scheduled to meet and decide on its re-admission.
Australian Prime Minister John Howard told Australian Radio that
Zimbabwe had to remain suspended until President Mugabe is pushed out of
office, stirring anger among the Zimbabwean leader’s inner circle.
"It’s quite unacceptable for Zimbabwe to continue to participate or to
be allowed to resume participation in Commonwealth affairs until there is a
complete change of approach, and that can only happen with the disappearance
of the Mugabe government," Howard said.
President Mugabe’s government insists it is being treated as an
unequal member of the Commonwealth club and describes Howard as a racist.
Sad chapter in history of Zimbabwe media
9/17/2003 10:18:10 PM (GMT +2)
THE surprise closure of the Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ),
publishers of The Daily News, which has brought an abrupt and inglorious end
to a vibrant newspaper has raised a hue and cry from a wide cross section of
There are heightened fears that government, subjected to unprecedented
scrutiny, could be girding its loins for renewed assault on access to
information and right to free expression.
While views on the reasons for the closure of the company which also
published the weekly Daily News On Sunday have been understandably starkly
divided, media observers were unanimous that the closure of the company is a
sad chapter that will have a cathartic effect on the country’s robust media
Without questioning the legality of government’s unusual step to close
the company, the observers said that good judgment should have led the
authorities to let the company continue publishing in view of the country’s
dented international credibility.
The closure of the company will worsen what is viewed as a backlash of
intolerance for a country already increasingly facing international
condemnation and isolation as a pariah state in a world among whose vital
concerns are the need for a free and assertive press as a cornerstone of
efforts to build democracy.
Although ANZ owners were currently nursing burnt fingers, the
observers were agreed that the government should have considered the plight
of an estimated 1 350 permanent and contract workers who are caught in
between the reality of the closure of the company and the inherent
insecurity brought about by uncertainty surrounding the company’s future.
"This is a disaster for the media in Zimbabwe," said Zimbabwe Union of
Journalists (ZUJ) president Matthew Takaona. "Although the company might
have been wrong in refusing to register, we don’t think closing it will do
anyone any good."
He said it would be sad if the powers-that-be choose to be too harsh
as to permanently close the newspaper, which so many people toiled to build
for years and had become an alternative source of information.
"The fact that the circulation of The Daily News had grown so fast
shows that it has a large following among Zimbabweans, so it would be very
sad if these people were suddenly to be denied their source of news,"
The ANZ was closed last week shortly after losing a Supreme Court
challenge to the draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act (AIPPA) which, among a whole gamut of debilitating requirements, demands
that all media houses register with the government-appointed Media and
Information Commission (MIC).
Since the requirement became effective last year, the company had
defiantly refused to register with the MIC, saying it would only do so after
the outcome of its Supreme Court challenge.
After last week’s ruling by Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku that by
remaining unregistered, the company was operating illegally, police moved in
swiftly to shut the company while they started efforts to seek the
prosecution of the company.
ANZ was this week making frantic efforts to get registration amid
public pronouncements by the MIC chairman Tafataona Mahoso that his
commission was in no hurry to consider the application.
ANZ chief executive Sam Sipepa Nkomo said from the look of things, the
government is determined to ensure that the company folds altogether.
"They are determined to shut us down," Nkomo said this week as heavily
armed police details ransacked the company’s premises seeking to take its
equipment to the court for use as "exhibits".
"The closure of The Daily News will seriously affect the media in
Zimbabwe and diversity of opinion will be severely curtailed," said Lovemore
Madhuku, University of Zimbabwe law lecturer and chairman of the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA).
"In the absence of an alternative daily newspaper like The Daily News,
the government, knowing it as we do, will be encouraged to do or not do
certain things because it will know for sure that no one will be there to
expose it and this may even worsen human rights violations in Zimbabwe,"
The government of Zimbabwe is listed as one of the most repressive in
the world as a result of the way in which President Mugabe uses brute force
to crush the growing opposition to his 23-year rule.
British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw this week said the closure of the
ANZ was a direct assault on a free and independent press in Zimbabwe.
"ZANU PF may claim that it’s draconian media legislation justifies
this latest act. The outside world will see it for what it is —an attempt to
stifle independent scrutiny and silence democratic voices in Zimbabwe."
Straw said the British will continue to support all those in Zimbabwe
who are working for a return to a democratically-elected and accountable
government which respects human rights and the rule of law.
The government, led by the Minister of Information and Publicity in
the Office of the President and Cabinet, Jonathan Moyo, has not hidden its
dislike for The Daily News and other privately-owned papers, accusing them
of joining the international media in soiling the image of Zimbabwe.
To countervail the damage that the government claimed was being done
by the privately-owned media in their reportage of the government’s violent
farm seizures and election campaign, Moyo cobbled up the AIPPA "to enhance
professionalism" in an industry that he alleged was thriving on
exaggerations, half-truths and blatant falsehoods.
More than 60 arrests under the AIPPA have been made since the law came
into force last year. All the arrests have been on journalists working for
private and foreign media but no conviction has been secured in any of the
cases yet. The law prescribes heavy fines and lengthy jail terms for
journalists found guilty of publishing "falsehoods".
Madhuku said The Daily News also served an important purpose in that,
in some cases, the government only got to learn about some crucial issues
skirted around by the state media in the privately-owned paper which, since
its formation in 1999, left no stone unturned in its quest to expose
official corruption among other ills in Zimbabwe.
"Without another daily paper to counter the propaganda published by
the state media, some people will rot in prisons when they are arrested by
the police because no one will be there to expose such things," Madhuku
The Zimbabwean Chapter of the Media Institute of Southern Africa
(MISA) said: "The Daily News occupies a distinctive place in the media
landscape of Zimbabwe, having firmly established itself as the first
independent daily paper during a crucial period . . . The paper plays a
crucial role in the day-to-day lives of Zimbabweans and is recognised as a
leading player in disseminating information and for its role in providing a
public platform for discussion of various issues."
Inflation set to hit 500% by October
9/17/2003 9:12:57 PM (GMT +2)
INFLATION, which reached an all-time high of 426.6 percent last month,
could hit the 500 percent mark by the end of October as massive fuel price
adjustments and shock price hikes experienced in recent weeks filter through
Inflation, which mirrors the rate at which a currency loses its
purchasing power is, however, unlikely to breach 1 000 percent by December
as had been widely projected amid accusations that the Central Statistical
Office (CSO) could be manipulating the figures.
The annual inflation rate for the month of August shot up by 27.1
percent from 399.5 percent in July because of a new wave of price increases.
Prices of most commodities measured in the Consumer Price Index (CPI)
have been going up in response to the devaluation of the local currency.
Zimbabwean manufacturers and suppliers have been raising prices to
keep up with rising costs of production.
Analysts this week said the latest inflation figure did not include
the shock price increases of recent weeks and the massive fuel price hike
that followed the partial deregulation of the petroleum industry.
The impact of the price increases could be felt in October, but is
unlikely to push the inflation rate beyond 500 percent.
In its August report, the CSO said the latest increase in inflation
was accounted for by increases in the average prices of beverages, bread,
cereals, meat, rent and rates.
"Of the 426.6 percent year-on-year rate of inflation in August 2003,
increases in food prices accounted for 164.5 percentage points, while
non-food items in the CPI accounted for 262.1 percentage points," the CSO
said in its report.
The month-on-month inflation rate, that indicates the monthly
percentage change, rose significantly from 17.0 percent in July to 17.6
percent in August.
"This means that prices as measured by the all items CPI increased by
an average of 17.6 percent from July to August 2003."
Analysts said the inflation rate would continue rising as long as
money supply growth continues unchecked.
The long awaited Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe monetary policy alluded to
by Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa in his 2003 supplementary budget speech,
could give some pointers on the direction money supply could take
Economic pundits predict the monetary policy could turn out to be just
another statement that only exists on paper if previous experience is
anything to go by.
"l don’t see the current inflation rate declining or stabilising any
time this year. Infact, l see it rising to around 600 percent by December,"
said Best Doroh, an economist with The Financial Holdings Limited.
Exporters would continue to play second fiddle in foreign markets as
long as the inflationary scourge continues unabated. High inflation means
that local companies are experiencing high productions costs than their
international competitors, which makes their products less attractive.
Exports have already gone down drastically, resulting in a crippling
shortage of foreign currency dramatised by Zimbabwe’s failure to import
fuel, electricity and other essential raw materials and capital goods.
Doroh, however, said it was highly unlikely for the year-on-year
inflation rate to reach the 1 000 percentage point by December as predicted
by most economists .
"The persistent high inflation rate is arising from increased money
supply growth. The increased levels of money circulation will trigger the
inflation rate to keep on rising," he said.
Murerwa admitted in his budget speech that high rates of inflation
were eroding incomes, disrupting business and contributing to the crippling
shortage of banknotes.
Analysts were sceptical about the imminent introduction of the new
$500 and $1 000 banknotes saying the new injection would only worsen the
But David Mupamhadzi, an economist with Trust Bank, said the injection
of new banknotes could stabilise inflation if the right market forces
"Inflation can actually stabilise because the introduction of higher
denominations might actually outweigh the shortage of cash thereby
increasing economic activity and production.
"Big companies that were failing to have their cheques cleared in time
and individuals that were otherwise forced to do business using personal
cheques will now have cash," he said.
He said the July/August wage adjustments and discretionary pricing by
most companies contributed to the high inflation rate.
"Most companies made wage increases that had strong inflationary
ramifications as the increases filtered into the economy.
"Another critical factor that could have contributed to the recent
inflation rate was the deregulation of prices as it fueled discretionary
pricing due to the withdrawal of a strong monetary mechanism that left the
economy susceptible to dealers."
He said most companies were capitalising on the deregulation of prices
by basing their pricing on the replacement cost of goods and not on the
actual production costs.
"In terms of pricing, most companies and businesses still base the
prices of most products on the old black-market fuel prices and this
contributes to inflation.
"It is most likely that the inflation rate for next month will be much
higher as all these factors combine to inflate the prices of most products,"
one analyst added.
Civil service overhaul long forgotten
Hama Saburi Deputy Editor-in-Chief
9/17/2003 10:17:02 PM (GMT +2)
A CRACKDOWN on laxity in the civil service promised by President
Mugabe after winning the disputed March 2002 presidential ballot has all
been forgotten as the ZANU PF government ducks critical issues that could
dent its waning support base.
The whittling down of the bloated civil service has proved to be a
tall order for the government, which has never taken the exercise seriously
since adopting the now abandoned International Monetary Fund-backed economic
reforms in 1991.
Seventeen months have elapsed without a sign of the restructuring that
came out among the major highlights in President Mugabe’s sixth-term
inauguration speech in March last year.
The 79-year-old leader of Zimbabwe’s liberation struggle who had
survived a stiff challenge from Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
candidate Morgan Tsvangirai, said then the restructuring of the civil
service was vital for a time-framed and result-oriented economic revival.
"We cannot afford the luxury of dilatoriness and bureaucratic sloth
and indecisiveness. Our civil service will have to be gingered up.
"In fact, we will restructure it for speedy execution of plans and
that means those who cannot perform or take time to perform will have to go.
"The day is gone and gone for good when the business of the people
could be half done, postponed inordinately or even recklessly and
irresponsibly set aside," Mugabe was quoted as saying.
Analysts this week said the threat of a major overhaul was a mere
veiled attempt that was meant to cow civil servants seen to be sympathetic
to the MDC.
The 300 000-strong civil service is largely bloated because of the
large numbers employed in the army and police. The government, which has
been accused before of abusing its control over the police and the army, is
unlikely to trim down the two forces because of the potential of dissent in
the politically charged environment.
It also appears that the restructuring of the civil service could have
been shelved because of the massive exodus of skilled and professional staff
to neighbouring countries.
At least one million Zimbabweans now reside in South Africa, Botswana,
the United Kingdom, the United States of America and Australia among other
countries because of political violence, the economic recession and other
"Under the circumstances, you cannot restructure when there is an
urgent need to replace key personnel in the education and health sectors,
which have been hit hard by the brain drain," said a political scientist
with the University of Zimbabwe.
Bulawayo chartered accountant Eric Bloch said President Mugabe and his
government were caught up in a Catch-22 situation where the fear of the
unknown has put spanners in the whole exercise.
The government is torn between maintaining the status quo at a heavy
cost or risk losing its shrinking support base, particularly in the urban
Bloch said: "He (Mugabe) doesn’t want to alienate any of them (civil
servants) because of the vote. There is also the high cost involved."
Proponents for reforms in the civil service argue that the process
would lower consumptive expenditure gnawing the biggest chunk of the
For example, the total wage and interest bill for 1996/97 constituted
71 percent of total revenue or 57.5 percent of total expenditure, leaving
only 29 percent of revenue available for discretionary expenditures,
including the public sector investment programme.
At the moment, a lot of money that could have gone towards
infrastructure development is going towards financing inefficiency and red
tape in the civil service.
Bloch said the government would have to spend a lot of money in
setting up appropriate monitoring and assessment procedures before
undertaking the reforms.
"There is probably a lot of resistance in the civil service. There
could be empires which they don’t want to upset," he said.
"A very large number of the civil servants are not good enough to get
jobs in the private sector, which is a recognition of lack of their
John Robertson, a local economic consultant, said it would be
difficult for the reforms to kick off without sufficient funds to pay the
The Public Service Commission, which employs the civil servants, is
currently stuck with employees retrenched following commercialisation of the
Central Mechanical and Equipment Department, now CMED (Private) Limited.
The only way to get out of the trap, Robertson said, would be for the
government to revive the economy so that industry will contribute more to
the fiscus in terms of taxes that can be used to finance the exercise.
Robertson said the lack of resources, particularly in technical
ministries such as tourism and public construction, has de-motivated the
remaining civil servants.
"Let us bring back the ability to get them (civil servants) to work.
Economic revival has to start first so that it can finance the
restructuring," said Robertson.
Nkomo opens up on power struggles
10:18:40 PM (GMT +2)
AS solutions to the current political impasse continue to elude
Zimbabwe’s feuding main political parties — ZANU PF and the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) — BRIAN MANGWENDE, The Financial Gazette’s chief
reporter, interviewed ZANU PF supremo John Nkomo on a wide range of issues.
In this Question and Answer, Nkomo, who is ZANU PF chairman, opened up
on the reported power struggles within the party, the tricky succession
debate and speculation surrounding the future of the Unity Accord brokered
by the late vice-president Joshua Nkomo.
QUESTION: As the national chairman of ZANU PF and a nationalist, may
you give us your perspective on the current political and economic situation
in the country and how do you think it can be solved?
ANSWER. The long and short of it is that for any development in a
country to take place and indeed in the world, there has to be a stable
political environment. The solution to our problems lies in dealing with the
political environment. Our people need to look at themselves as Zimbabweans
and look for a Zimbabwean solution to any of our problems. As Zimbabweans,
we have the capacity to differentiate between a problem and a symptom. My
view is that the former colonial master has not facilitated or promoted an
environment for development. Among us, there are those who believe the
answers to our problems must come from Britain. Those who have remained in
the country must understand that it’s a collective responsibility and must
be devoid of any negative thinking. You can’t address the economic problems
without addressing the political climate because political instability will
scare away investors. Finally, let’s avoid inviting outsiders to come and
prescribe solutions to our problems. There is a need for engagement among
and between Zimbabweans.
Q. What is ZANU PF’s exact stance on the revival of talks with the
opposition MDC with a view to finding a lasting solution to the current
political impasse? Are we likely to see a breakthrough soon?
A. We in ZANU PF have always said we are ready to discuss with anybody
without exception. We have the desire to create a sustainable environment.
Let’s bury the differences. If we had differences in January, why should
they interfere with us in September? We live in a dynamic world and we need
to move not to get glued on unnecessary issues. We are discussing with
everybody at various levels including the churches and other institutions.
We have remained committed to the resumption of talks. But there are two
things for any talks to be meaningful. All sides must have a commitment to
achieving. You don’t just talk for the sake of it. The second is you make
reference to the MDC whose members are made up of Zimbabweans and,
therefore, Zimbabweans must talk. As I see it, we don’t have a structured
system for the talks. Members of ZANU PF and MDC should discuss and talk
about finding solutions to Zimbabwe’s problems. ZANU PF and the MDC can’t
resolve this alone, we need to engage businessmen and all other
stakeholders. The more you talk, the more you identify problems. I am
satisfied that people are talking and ZANU PF is talking to other people
either individually or in groups. I have no doubt in my mind that there will
be a breakthrough soon. What may be left now is a pronouncement of the
breakthrough. If only the press can help us in projecting these things, they
would have done much more than any individual can do.
Q. Given a chance, would you accept to become President
If yes, why and if not, who would you tip to be the next head of state in
the event that President Robert Mugabe leaves office?
A. The time has not come because the seat is not vacant.
Q. There have been reports of a power struggle within ZANU PF along
factional lines, which has raised fears that the party could disintegrate if
President Mugabe steps down. What is your comment?
A. As the national chairman of ZANU PF, I would like to add my voice
in calling for our people to desist from engaging in any divisive
activities. ZANU PF is a national party whose members come from all corners
of the country without regard to tribalism, race, creed or regionalism. We
believe we are servants of the people and the people would want to see us
respond positively to their wishes. ZANU PF should avoid proceeding like
small minds that discuss people. Promotion of a conducive environment for
development is of paramount importance where there is no division along
tribal lines. We must discuss ideas in promoting national activities.
Q. Since the signing of the Unity Accord
between ZANU PF and PF-ZAPU
in 1987, the people of Matabeleland have cried foul saying their party’s
leadership, including yourself, had betrayed them. What do you have to say
A. Quite a number of people think the 1987 Unity Accord was an event.
It was not. Although they had been a split in 1963 of the national ranks,
the period between 1963 and 1987 saw a lot of activities towards accepting
that united we stand, divided we fall. There was an exercise in 1970
undertaken by the British under Lord Pierce, where members of ZANU PF and
PF-ZAPU came together to campaign against proposals, whose ultimate
objective was to keep us oppressed. Both parties stood together and even as
that was happening, here at home, our liberation forces out there headed by
Jason Moyo and Herbert Chitepo were coordinating their efforts. Then came
attempts to resolve our problems. ZANU PF and PF ZAPU constituted a
delegation to the Geneva, Malta and later Lancaster House conferences. We
saw immense advantages in working together because we had a common problem.
After that we formed the Patriotic Front of Zimbabwe. Coming back home, we
had our teething problems and it was unfortunate that there was friction
among us. It quickly became necessary for the two parties to converge and
remind each other of the liberation movement. We had to convince ourselves t
hat we were one. That 1987 Unity Accord in an independent Zimbabwe was meant
to correct an unstable environment so people could unleash their energies
for the development of the country. So anyone who says they were betrayed
probably doesn’t understand the basis of the agreement.
Q. When is the Politburo expected to meet over the issue of President
Mugabe’s succession in ZANU PF?
A. No comment.
Q. Are those who were allocated more that one farm, but later
relinquished them, likely to be brought before a disciplinary hearing or the
party will simply put the issue to rest?
A. These are the people we are telling that in terms of our national
policy on land, it’s one man, one farm. We have instances where when we
began with the A1 resettlement scheme, some applicants who had already
benefited under the fast- track land reform programme also benefited. Some
people had applied in various provinces and some were successful. And now it
’s only natural for them to give up the others and remain with one.
Q. There have been media reports that you are the proud owner of more
than one farm in Matabeleland which you benefited under the land reform.
What do you say to this?
A. I have not applied for any land in Matabeleland South nor has
anybody cared to inform me that they were allocating me land. I have not
been allocated any government-acquired farm. I am still to identify and seek
to be offered.
Q. Anything else you would like the nation to know minister?
A. I would like to say to the nation that in any country or family,
there will always be problems and divergent views. Given that Zimbabwe has a
democratic environment, open discussion of matters affecting us should be
encouraged. We should never deceive ourselves that there will never be
Q. And lastly, what do you have to say with regard to the October 1
deadline given to ZANU PF by MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai on the talks?
A. There should never be any deadlines. The MDC must be mature in
their approach. Sometimes, time is a doctor. In my view, rhetoric that has
no meaning should be avoided, especially when we have pressing issues. We
are prepared to discuss with them. The fate of Zimbabwe is what concerns us
the most. People must avoid playing to the gallery.