Njabulo Ncube Political Editor
Constitutional deal with ZANU PF sours relationship
THE fractious Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) is battling new internal
fissures over an agreement it reached with the ruling party this week to
tinker with the country's Constitution for the umpteenth time, which has
shaken its alliance with key civil society allies.
Influential civil society groups that had formed a formidable alliance with
the MDC yesterday said they were breaking ranks with the main opposition
party following its endorsement of controversial constitutional amendments,
which consolidate the electoral calendar and allow President Robert Mugabe
to handpick a successor.
The severance of ties between the MDC and a coterie of civic groups could
further dilute the opposition, which will face ZANU PF in next year's polls
weakened by the October 2005 split.
But their surprise withdrawal from the loose coalition may not have any
effect on the MDC, which has basically been riding on public anger against
the economic meltdown precipitated by the ruling ZANU PF government's
ruinous policies, analysts say.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) and the National Constitutional
Assembly (NCA) - the two groups that were key at the time of the formation
of the MDC in 1999 and had remained its staunch allies - yesterday led
groupings such as Crisis Zimbabwe Coalition (CZC) and the Broad Alliance in
condemning the constitutional deal struck between ZANU PF and both factions
of the MDC.
The compromise deal paves the way for joint presidential and legislative
elections next year, empowers parliament to elect a new president should the
incumbent fail to serve a full term and substantially increases the number
of seats in the House of Assembly, among other things.
The Financial Gazette can reveal that there are moves to form what is being
touted as a "Third Force", after civic society representatives yesterday
held crisis meetings in the wake of the MDC's endorsement of the amendments,
described by critics as too insignificant to dilute President Mugabe's
The Broad Alliance, a coalition of opposition groups previously supportive
of the MDC, will soon announce its severance of ties with both factions of
The MDC threw its weight behind Constitutional Amendment Number 18, saying
it had been driven by the spirit of ongoing Southern African Development
Community (SADC) efforts to break the political impasse in Zimbabwe.
Thokozani Khupe, MDC vice president of the Morgan Tsvangirai camp, said her
party had resolved to back the amendments as it kept an eye on protecting a
SADC mediation process led by South African President Thabo Mbeki.
"We supported the Bill because we do not want to see Zimbabwe burning," said
Khupe in an interview with The Financial Gazette soon after a second reading
of the Bill. "It does not mean we have abandoned our demand for a new,
people-driven Constitution. It is our understanding that it (new
Constitution) will be delivered in due course."
On Tuesday, Welshman Ncube, secretary-general of the Arthur Mutambara
faction of the MDC, sensing apprehension among opposition supporters, said
while some of them would be "alarmed" by the MDC's decision, the party had
not abandoned its stance on constitutional reforms.
But he suggested it was important to allow some compromise as part of the
process of finding a solution.
"Zimbabweans are faced with a national crisis. We may differ, but we agree
there is a crisis. Somewhere along the way we lost each other. This is our
attempt to find each other."
Ncube, part of the opposition's negotiating team, hinted that talks would
now focus on repressive laws such as the Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act, and the Public Order and Security Act.
Sanctions, he said, were also on the agenda. There is no agreement yet on
But Lovemore Madhuku, chairman of the NCA, which campaigns for wholesale
constitutional reform, said civic society had called a conference to reject
the MDC/ZANU PF deal.
"We are disgusted by the MDC," said Madhuku. "I don't see myself sitting
under the same tent with both Morgan Tsvangirai and Arthur Mutambara
discussing the future of this country. We are severing ties with the MDC
over their going to bed with ZANU PF."
Madhuku led a civic society delegation to Pretoria this week at the
invitation of President Mbeki's mediation team.
According to sources, Sydney Mufamadi, head of Mbeki's mediation team, told
the group he had only called the meeting to inform them that ZANU PF and the
MDC had reached agreement.
Arnold Tsunga, chairman of the CZC and executive director of the Zimbabwe
Lawyers for Human Rights, said the MDC had "sold out".
"We think the MDC has sold out, and it will be very difficult to work with
them in future, taking into perspective the minor adjustment they and ZANU
PF have agreed to," said Tsunga. "We as CZC and other civic society
organisations are worried by attempts to identify Zimbabwe's problems as an
issue that can be resolved by drafting constitutional amendments," he added.
The MDC and ZANU PF, he said, had only "tinkered with the Constitution,
without addressing the climate of impunity, violence, repressive pieces of
legislation, national misappropriation of resources, looting, harassment of
citizens and other human rights abuses."
The NCA, founded in 1997, has been an ally of the MDC since the party's 1999
formation. In 2000, the NCA teamed up with the MDC and successfully
mobilised against a new government-backed Constitution.
"The MDC's decision to abandon the principle of a people-driven Constitution
and opting for a process driven by political parties in Parliament is an act
of treachery," said Madhuku.
Tsunga said it was "disheartening and shocking to see MDC celebrating with
ZANU PF" on the same day state security agents abducted scores of ZCTU
leaders who were planning a strike yesterday.
The strike flopped, bolstering the argument of those who have called for a
change of strategy by militant opposition groups such as unions and the NCA.
Reacting to the criticism, Nelson Chamisa and Gabriel Chaibva, spokespersons
for the two MDC factions, said supporting the amendments was in the best
interests of the opposition.
MDC allies have found support among new camps in the opposition that have
been isolated by the compromise, with hardliners outraged by the ZANU PF/MDC
calling for a more militant approach.
Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter
TWO of Zimbabwe's leading foreign-owned banks, Stanbic and Standard
Chartered, have broken their silence on the controversy surrounding proposed
indigenisation legislation, warning the proposal would bring grave
Parliament's legal committee issued a non-adverse report on the
Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill yesterday, drawing its passage a step
But business groups have warned that foreign investment in Zimbabwe would
plunge 30 percent if the Bill were passed in its current form.
The two banks, in submissions to a parliamentary hearing, said foreign banks
could withdraw from Zimbabwe if they were compelled to sell 51 percent of
their businesses, a level they said was too high.
"We think that it is important for Zimbabwe not to implement an empowerment
process that is materially different from what other countries have done,"
Stanbic Bank said.
"The proposed indigenisation threshold of 51 percent targeted in Zimbabwe
would make our country relatively less attractive to foreign investors,"
said Stanbic Bank.
Standard Chartered proposed that the minimum threshold be revised to 49
percent, saying proposed levels would make it difficult for foreign banking
groups to remain in Zimbabwe.
"Brand name and equity is critically important to many businesses. Removal
of the possibility to hold a controlling interest may make it difficult for
existing companies or potential new investors being able to justify their
continued interest in the country," Stanchart said.
Stanbic Bank said the economic crisis means that local banks require foreign
support in securing international lines of credit.
"Once all banks are made indigenous, the current support relationships
arising from foreign control of certain Zimbabwean banks would be severed.
Currently, for example, the only banks providing offshore funding for
tobacco are the international banks. A case in point being Stanbic Bank,
which with the support of Standard Bank of South Africa, provided US$75
million for tobacco financing in 2007," said the bank.
International institutions, said Stanbic, would demand that the new majority
owners develop their own brand identities, which would not be immediately
recognised by the outside world.
The new entities could continue using international brands, but would be
charged punitive royalty fees for their use.
With the acute foreign currency shortages, it was also unlikely that local
investors would be able to mobilise sufficient funds to facilitate the
purchase of shares in the banks.
This could have the danger of being seen as expropriation, Stanbic warned.
"The empowerment drive should not be limited to just acquisition of
shareholding, but should recognise the positive work done by foreign-owned
institutions in the areas of social responsibility," Stanbic said, adding it
hoped government would "retain (the banking sector's) current profile, where
locally owned and internationally owned banks co-exist".
Four of Zimbabwe's 28 banks are foreign held: Stanchart, Stanbic, owned by
South Africa's Standard Bank, Barclays, 70 percent held by Barclays plc, and
MBCA, controlled by NedBank and its parent Old Mutual.
Chamber of Mines president Jack Murehwa said Zimbabwe now lags its regional
peers on mineral output because of a dearth of new foreign investment into
mining. The new law, he said, would only deepen concern among foreign
investors over security of their assets.
"I do not know whether this Bill is intended to undermine certainty in the
sector," Murehwa said. "Zimbabwe is already seen as a high risk destination,
because of negative perceptions over security of tenure and the rule of
Cain Mpofu, Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce chief executive, said
business was concerned at the sweeping powers granted the responsible
Minister, the timing of the Bill, and the additional tax burden placed on
companies that will be forced to fund the purchase of their own shares.
He warned: "There is a likelihood of a 30 percent drop in foreign direct
investment following passage of the proposed Bill. A decline in gross
domestic product is also to be anticipated after implementation of the
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
THE state's star witness in the violence trial of two senior intelligence
officials has claimed that Attorney General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele forced him
to nail Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and five others.
War veteran James Kaunye made the charge during the trial of the heads of
the Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) in Manicaland and Rusape,
Innocent Chibaya and Denford Masiya, as well as three others.
Chibaya and the others are facing obstruction of justice charges, similar to
those levelled against Chinamasa before his acquittal last year.
The crime, the state alleges, was committed when Chinamasa and the accused
persons pressured Kaunye to withdraw violence charges against State Security
Minister Didymus Mutasa's supporters, who include ZANU PF Makoni North
chairperson Albert Nyakuedzwa.
Presiding judge, Justice Anne-Marie Gowora, has directed prosecutor Andrew
Kumire to inform Gula-Ndebele of Kaunye's allegations.
Kaunye was the state's lead witness in the three cases that resulted in
Nyakuedzwa and 16 other ruling party supporters being convicted and jailed
But in a dramatic shift last week, Kaunye said no one had ever coerced him
to withdraw charges against the ZANU PF men. He had done so of his own free
will, he told the court.
Kaunye said although Nyakuedzwa had been prosecuted for assaulting him, he
had forgiven his assailant prior to the court case. He, however, had been
forced to proceed with the matter.
"The A-G phoned me, I do not know who had given him my phone number because
I had never communicated with him. He said 'why are you forgiving Nyakuedzwa',"
Kaunye told the court.
He claimed Gula-Ndebele threatened him with imprisonment if he did not
"It is this same person (A-G) who is continuing to force us so that the
matter (against Chibaya) can proceed.
"The A-G is forcing us to give evidence, that is why I have told this court
that this matter involves a lot of politics. I am now the one who has been
sandwiched. I want to give myself and my family freedom," he said.
Lawyers Charles Warara, Patrick Takaidza and advocate Mehta Deepak are
representing Chibaya and the others.
Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter
FISSURES have emerged in the local chapter of the Anglican Province of
Central Africa following reports of the withdrawal of the Harare Diocese
from the union at a recent synod held in Malawi.
State media claimed the Harare diocese, led by pro-ZANU PF bishop Nolbert
Kunonga, had withdrawn from the union because it had failed to condemn
The reports suggested two other Anglican dioceses supported Kunonga's
But a pastoral letter released after the meeting reveals that homosexuality
was not on the agenda of the synod.
Heads of three of the Anglican church's five districts in Zimbabwe, bishops
Godfrey Tawonezvi of Masvingo, Wilson Sitshebo of Matabeleland, and Central
Zimbabwe bishop Ishmael Mukuwanda, say in the pastoral letter that gay
matters were never discussed. Elson Jakazi heads the Manicaland district.
The Province of Central Africa consists of Zimbabwe, Zambia, Malawi and
Since the synod in Malawi, Kunonga has portrayed himself as having stood
alone in a region clamouring for gay rights in the church. But it turns out
this was never the case.
"The Church of the Province of Central Africa condemns homosexuality. This
has always been the position of the Province and continues to be so. At the
just ended Provincial Synod, homosexuality was not part of the synod agenda
and no bishop, priest or layperson condoned homosexuality. No homosexual
lobbying by any one ever took place at the provincial synod," the bishops
stress in the pastoral letter.
It has now emerged from sources who attended the Malawi conference that
there is consensus in the church that if Harare withdraws from the unity,
then Kunonga should leave the Anglican Church.
"He (Kunonga) was told that if his diocese withdrew from the union, then he
should leave," a source said.
Kunonga's attempts to portray himself as a crusader against homosexuality
could be designed to forestall a decision on his future by the church, the
Kunonga has previously survived moves to have him step down by critics who
oppose his support for the ruling party's actions.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
ZIMBABWE Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) boss Henry Muradzikwa has admitted that
there is political interference in the editorial policy of the national
The ZBH boss also disclosed that
the much-vaunted digitalisation programme funded by Iran had stalled because
of Zimbabwe's failure to pay a US$3 million debt to the Iranians.
Muradzikwa told a parliamentary committee hearing this week that on being
hired by ZBH, reporters are told they should report impartially, only to see
some of their reports censored.
"We have been reporting on the basis of deception," said Muradzikwa,
appearing before the parliamentary committee on transport and
He said the Ministry of Information, which is in charge of government media,
should be clear on how it wants the broadcaster to report.
"What does the shareholder (government) want? (The shareholder) must make it
Muradzikwa said the perception that ZBH serves the interests of ZANU PF had
persisted since independence.
He told the committee that some of the expectations the government had of
the broadcaster undermined press freedom.
Muradzikwa was responding to a question from Movement for Democratic Change
Kuwadzana Member of Parliament Nelson Chamisa, who wanted to know if the ZBH
boss was aware of perceptions that the broadcaster served as the ruling
party's propaganda tool.
According to Muradzikwa, provincial governors were abusing ZBH bureau
chiefs, treating them as part of their staff. To avoid further abuse,
Muradzikwa said, journalists would be assigned to new provinces before next
A digitalisation programme backed by Iran had been halted because of unpaid
debts. "The Iranian deal has been dormant because they (Iran) are saying we
should pay US$3 million. The difficulty is that this is not a ZBH debt
alone. It was incurred by both ZBH and ARDA (Agriculture Rural Development
Authority). ZBH has paid (its) half."
Earlier, the committee heard from Obert Muganyura, chief executive of the
Broadcasting Authority of Zimbabwe (BAZ), the licensing authority for
that no independent broadcasters had yet been licensed because the
Broadcasting Services Act remained restrictive despite the Supreme Court
striking down certain key sections.
The BAZ, Muganyura said, had since sent proposed amendments to the Ministry
Committee chairperson Leo Mugabe said the committee would press for the
licensing of new players by next year.
The committee was prepared to table amendments to broadcasting laws in
Parliament if the Ministry continued to drag its feet, Mugabe warned.
The Media Institute of Southern Africa - Zimbabwe (MISA) said revelations by
BAZ on the democratic deficiencies in the BSA as well as the political
procrastination of the government in amending the BSA further point to the
fact that the ruling party and its government are bent on maintaining their
total grip on the broadcast media.
The stringent requirements in the BSA, which Muganyura described as
problematic include a ban on foreign funding and ownership, restrictions on
the number of national free to air private broadcasters that can be licensed
as well as the restrictions placed on ownership of frequency transmitters.
The BSA provides that only the government owned company, Transmedia can own
frequency transmitters and all new players have to line up to do business
As the situation stands , Transmedia is failing to provide adequate services
to one TV station; the state owned Zimbabwe Television as well as to four FM
all owned by the state through ZBH.
"Missing in the statement from BAZ is its total lack of independence to make
decisions as its plays only a secretarial role to the Minister of
Information and Publicity. Without an independent regulatory authority
guaranteed by law, the job of the BAZ will remain at the whims of
"The prevailing situation places Zimbabwe in a unique position in southern
Africa where it is the only country with a virtual state monopoly in
broadcasting. It should be noted that the closure of broadcasting space to
new players is a political decision and act meant to safeguard the interest
of the ruling elite hence the defiance of expert advice and calls by
citizens and civic society for the industry to be opened to new players.
"As Zimbabwe faces elections next year, it should become clear to all that
no democratic free and fair elections can be held in an environment where
only one political party has access to the broadcasts media," said MISA in a
GOVERNMENT has secured the release of part of the 36 000 tonnes of wheat,
which is stuck in Mozambique over non-payment, as it increased the producer
price of wheat to try and boost failing production.
Agriculture Minister Rugare Gumbo said 2000 tonnes of the wheat consignment
that The Financial Gazette reported recently to have been held in
Mozambique, pending payment of US$15 million by Zimbabwe, would arrive in
the country by tomorrow.
The wheat would augment dwindling flour supplies that have led to a serious
bread shortage and threatened 10 000 jobs as bakeries shut down.
Gumbo also revealed that the producer price of wheat would rise to $42
million per tonne from $217 913.40 a tonne, saying the increase was meant to
entice farmers who were starting to reap their crops to deliver the grain to
the state grain buyer, the Grain Marketing Board.
Gumbo said 144 000 tonnes of wheat were expected to be harvested this year,
but this would result in a shortfall of 286 000 tonnes.
He said 49 707 hectares had been put under wheat, and that 987 hectares of
the crop has been written off.
Farmers' organisations report that an estimated 5 000 hectares out of the 8
000 hectares of winter wheat were a write-off due to persistent power cuts,
which disrupted irrigation.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
IN the run-up to the 2005 general elections, President Robert Mugabe
addressed a rally at Kuwadzana 2 High School in Harare, where he made a
statement that must have come from the bottom of his heart.
Swearing by Mbuya Nehanda and his late mother, Bona, the President made a
passionate plea - which he said was his last - for urban residents to vote
for his ZANU PF party. If they did not, he said, he would give up on them.
But as a new election looms, support for ZANU PF among urbanites remains
And, after witnessing the savage beating of Kuwadzana residents by soldiers
last week, I wondered whether the President had indeed fulfilled his promise
and given up on people in these poor, urban parts of the country.
In the run-up to a crucial election, these residents have neither water nor
Now they are facing renewed violence, perpetrated by agents of the same
government that will be back here canvassing for their votes in a few months'
In the aftermath of the latest beatings, and listening to people who had
gathered to recount their ordeals, it was clear that the violence is
exacerbating the already deep disenchantment with the government among the
urban poor, who face food shortages, transport problems and a general
breakdown of essential services.
Not very far from where the President delivered his address in 2005, is
Kuwadzana 4 shopping centre, the hub of all black-market activities in the
Since the government imposed price cuts in June, business at that market has
surged, with illegal traders selling anything ranging from meat, bread, to
milk, in front of empty shops.
But on Thursday evening last week, a unit of soldiers attached to the Price
Taskforce spilled onto the streets. As I alighted from a bus that evening, I
suddenly found myself trapped "behind enemy lines" as hordes of soldiers
surged forward into the suburb.
I saw a man's head being slammed against the wall of a squalid toilet. Not
far from there, a woman with a child strapped to her back, ran like an
Olympic athlete to escape the advancing soldiers.
The attacks were random, as the unit beat anyone within sight, black market
trader or not.
Somehow, I negotiated my way to safety.
Along the way, I met a friend who was returning from a Salvation Army
evening service. He too had escaped being caught in the crossfire at another
I hurried along, now almost alone on the deserted streets. The full extent
of the terror only became apparent the next day.
I learnt of the horrific beating of the Kambadza family, neighbours that I
have known all my life. Their ordeal was the most talked about of all
Three soldiers arrived at their gate on the Thursday morning, and seized a
loaf of bread from a trader selling at their gate. One of the soldiers
offered $30 000 for the bread, but a small crowd protested that he must pay
$100 000 like everyone else. The soldiers flashed their army IDs, and
ominously announced that they would be back.
And indeed come back they did that night.
Many people were beaten and a number of families fled from their homes. The
most tragic aspect of the Kambadza family's ordeal was the callous attack on
the father, a 70-year-old pensioner.
The soldiers accused him of illegally selling bread at black market rates.
However, he in fact does not sell any bread at all. Traders do peddle their
wares in front of his house, but only because it is centrally located.
The soldiers targeted a family-run stall in the same vicinity shortly after
a woman had served her husband supper. The family fled. When they returned,
they found that not only had their money and goods been confiscated, the
sadza the family was about to have for supper had been devoured.
Mavis Makuni Own Correspondent
SOMETIME ago, a proposal was made for an evaluation to be made of the
various agencies and arms of the African Union (AU) to establish whether
they were functioning effectively and, if not, to identify the constraints.
The findings from this exercise will be of great interest across Africa
where there is a growing perception that organisations such as the AU and
the Southern African Development Community (SADC) have become exclusive
clubs for Africa's powerful leaders to stroke each other's egos. Leaders
have been accused of being hamstrung by the principle of brotherhood and
solidarity established under the forerunner of the AU, the Organisation of
The principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of member states
has paralysed the AU, rendered it almost redundant. Critics have charged
that the heads of state are more interested in covering up for each other's
abuses and excesses than in tackling pressing problems that impact on the
right of the people of Africa to self-determination, justice and freedom
from repression, hunger and poverty.
The leaders have been accused of not having the interests of the ordinary
people of Africa at heart because of the inertia, foot-dragging, and
hypocrisy that have characterised the approaches of both the AU and SADC to
conflict resolution in Africa's trouble spots. Despite the leaders'
insistence on non-interference by Western countries the AU has failed to
come up with viable initiatives to end the strife in Somalia and Darfur in
western Sudan .
Not enough governments have been willing to commit resources and troops to
these trouble spots and despite the posturing of leaders against
international meddling, the AU has still had to appeal for external
assistance to maintain its token peacekeeping force in Sudan. There is no
guarantee that peace talks to be held in Libya next month between rebel
groups and Sudanese government representatives will finally result in a
settlement. The initiative is being spearheaded by United Nations Secretary-
General Ban Ki-moon.
At the beginning of his tenure in January, Ban Ki-moon announced that he
would put the crisis in Darfur at the top of his agenda, saying it would
take collective wisdom and efforts to find solutions.
However, after almost nine months of dealing with the brinkmanship and
diversionary antics of Sudanese strongman, Omar al-Bashir, the UN boss must
be ready to revise his idea of African wisdom. The Sudanese president has
done everything possible to sabotage efforts to end the humanitarian crisis
in his country.
Al-Bashir, who once swore that there would be no international military
intervention in Darfur as long as he was in power (which can be for life),
would rather see more of his people suffering and dying than see reason.
He believes that any external initiative to end the crisis would mean the
re-colonisation of Sudan.
Latest reports are that during an audience with Pope Benedict XVI in Rome,
the Sudanese leader pledged to call a ceasefire in Darfur before the talks
in Libya. This is not the first time he has made such a promise. He has gone
back on his word may times since his government unleashed the Janjaweed Arab
militias to spearhead a reign of terror against Christian civilians. Despite
a death toll of more than 200 000 and the displacement of about two million
people since 2003, African leaders in the AU have failed to use their
collective wisdom and clout to rein in their errant peer.
All that African heads of state have done is look on as civilians continue
to be killed in Darfur. These leaders have been accused of exhibiting the
same lack of political will and commitment even in situations where the AU's
assistance does not necessarily have to involve military intervention or
commitment of resources but just principled leadership and vision.
The Zimbabwean situation, which both SADC and the AU have allowed to
escalate for the past seven years, is a case in point. Over that period the
AU has done everything possible to sustain a see-and-hear-no-evil stance. At
various of its summits since 2002, it has thrown out reports on Zimbabwe's
human rights record prepared by special delegations and the African
Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR).
Over the same period, the AU has ensured that attempts by Zimbabwean human
rights and media groups to present civil society's side of the story were
thwarted by standing resolutely on the side of the Zimbabwean government
rather than the generality of the people. Indeed, the Zimbabwean government
has always boasted of enjoying the support of SADC and the AU even when its
horrendous abuses have been well documented.
At every stage this support has been for the leadership rather than the
people of Zimbabwe. During her recent visit to Cuba Zimbabwean
Vice-President Joice Mujuru confirmed this connivance of the two
organisations in supporting the status quo when she thanked them for
standing by Zimbabwe at a "crucial time." Addressing African diplomats in
Havana, she said: "I want to thank you for standing by us in this trying
time of our history. SADC and the AU know the root cause of our problems
It was only at the last SADC summit in Lusaka last month that reports on the
Zimbabwean situation were belatedly formally entertained. One report,
presented by SADC executive secretary Tomaz Salomao dealt with the economic
crisis while South African President Thabo Mbeki's presentation was a
"progress" report on the political aspects of the situation. But even with
these reluctant eleventh hour moves, the two organisations are not
addressing governance issues, which are at the core of the crisis. There
have been claims and counter claims that SADC is to put together an economic
rescue package for Zimbabwe. South Africa, the continent's economic
powerhouse has, however, already indicated that it will not provide any
economic aid for Zimbabwe, raising the question of whether the plan will not
turn out to be one more time-buying ploy.
The South African Finance Minister, Trevor Manuel stated his country's
stance uncategorically a month ago when he declared that no taxpayers' money
would be wasted on Zimbabwe. "We cannot decide what kind of economy
Zimbabweans must have. They must get the prices to work, they must drive the
changes. We cannot commit financial resources", he said.
No other African country has come forward so far to say what it will
contribute towards bailing Zimbabwe out of its economic ruin. But all member
countries of SADC and the AU cheered the Zimbabwean government on or looked
the other way for years as the country hurtled towards the precipice.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
RIVER Ranch Limited, the company at the centre of a bitter row over a
Beitbridge diamond mine, was deregistered three years ago, a state
prosecutor claimed in court this week.
Law officer Chifarayi Dube made the allegation against the company during
the trial of the directors of Bubye Minerals, a rival to River Ranch
Limited, accused of asset stripping.
River Ranch Limited is partly owned by Solomon Mujuru and former ZANU PF
Harare East Member of Parliament Tirivanhu Mudariki.
Charges are that Bubye directors, Michael and Adel Farquhar, stripped River
Ranch mine of assets worth $116 million and externalised US$60 000.
Bubye and River Ranch Limited are embroiled in an ownership dispute over the
"It was deregistered in 2002 and the file has since been sent to the
national archives," said Dube, who is the prosecutor in the case.
Defence lawyer Godfrey Mamvura challenged the state to explain how key
witness, River Ranch Limited chairman George Kantsouris, could be the chief
executive of a deregistered company.
During the trial, documents, including Kantsouris' South African passport,
were presented in court.
Kantsouris said he was a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
employee seconded to River Ranch Limited.
The UNDP has denied charges by Bubye that it facilitated the smuggling of
diamonds from River Ranch mine. The allegations triggered a probe by the
Kimberly Process. The findings, which were supposed to be made public in
August, are still under wraps.
Meanwhile, the Farquhars have hired top South African lawyer, Wim Trengove
to represent them in their suit against the Master of the High Court and
others they accuse of trying to manipulate the judiciary to the detriment of
Trengove has previously represented former South African president Nelson
Mandela, and the late former South African cricket captain Hansie Cronje, in
his failed bid to overturn a life ban imposed after a match fixing scandal.
In Zimbabwe Trengove represented Econet in 1996 in its battle to be
MINES and Mining Development Minister Amos Midzi expects to push through new
mining legislation on foreign ownership before March next year.
Responding to questions in the House of Assembly on the fourth report of the
Parliamentary Committee on Mines, Energy, Environment and Tourism on gold
and diamond mining, Midzi said the country's mining policy was in tandem
with the Indigenisation and Empowerment Bill.
The Empowerment Bill, read in Parliament for the second time on Tuesday,
aims to hand at least 51 percent of "every public company and any other
business" to locals or the government.
In its report, the mines committee had indicated that it was necessary for
the government to state its empowerment policy clearly. In response, Midzi
said: "The amendments have been concluded by all organs of government and
now await to be brought to Parliament. "
"The mining policy is in conformity with the Indigenisation Bill, which
stipulates that 51 percent goes to indigenous persons and 49 percent goes to
foreigners, and indeed honourable members are aware that the relevant
Minister has already introduced the relevant Bill to this House."
The current session would expire in March next year after the dissolution of
parliament for elections.
Zimbabwe Platinum Mines, the country's largest platinum producer, recently
raised concern that the empowerment bill was silent on standing agreements
reached between government and the industry.
Government has previously agreed on a scorecard system, under which the
level of social investment made by a company will determine ownership
Following a recommendation by the committee that the review of gold prices
should not be the preserve of central bank alone, Midzi announced a plan to
revive the Gold Pricing Committee.
The portfolio committee also recommended that a certain quota of diamonds
mined in the country be reserved for the local diamond industry.
Responding to the suggestion, Midzi said: "The Ministry is already in
dialogue with local diamond producers. All producers agree to the retention
of a quota for the local cutting and polishing factories (that are yet to be
Midzi said delays by the central bank to pay foreign currency due to gold
producers was causing cash flow problems for mining companies, resulting in
their failure to adequately recapitalise operations.
The delays had also worsened negative investor perceptions, he said.
Personal Glimpses with Mavis Makuni
WHEN a storekeeper consistently fails to sell a line of merchandise, he
knows he must do something to move the goods.
The only thing he needs to do in most cases is to reduce the price
substantially and the goods will usually be snapped up. It is an unusual
entrepreneur who prefers to keep unsold goods in his warehouse indefinitely
rather than revise the price and other conditions.
It is a rather tenuous analogy but the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Authority (BAZ)
seems to be behaving like the storekeeper who is prepared to hoard goods
that no one buys. BAZ has put itself in an invidious position by
consistently failing since its establishment about four years ago to issue
any licences to new broadcasting stations.
BAZ chief executive officer, Obert Muganyura, told the Parliamentary
Portfolio Committee on Transport and Communications recently that no new
players had been granted licences because the conditions for registration
were too stringent.
"We gave the projection that we would by this time license new players on
the understanding that the Broadcasting Act would have been amended but it
has not yet." Muganyura, who described the conditions applicants are
required to meet as "problematic" said despite invitations being extended to
applicants, none of them had met the criteria for obtaining a broadcasting
licence. This situation has gone on since 2004 when BAZ was set up, raising
the question of whether the body was set up to serve the public interest or
to thwart it.
In most progressive countries government regulatory bodies serve as
protectors of the public interest rather than as a hindrance. When disputes
arise, stakeholders are supposed to turn for help to the government as the
fair umpire. But in the Zimbabwean scenario it is government agencies that
are the stumbling blocks. The stringent requirements that have made it
impossible for any new stations to qualify for licences are a disservice to
If there was any seriousness about opening up the airwaves, those
responsible for drafting these stringent conditions should have gone back to
the drawing board to formulate fairer criteria. This is the only way of
ending the state broadcaster's monopoly. It is a double injustice to deny
radio listeners and television viewers access to alternative channels and
then saddle the taxpayer with the burden of financing BAZ, which is to all
intents and purposes, a smokescreen to disguise the government's aversion to
While BAZ has given lame excuse after lame excuse for not granting any
licences, the powers-that-be have been quick to continue curbing electronic
media diversity, restricting the choice of ordinary Zimbabweans to the
ennui- inducing offerings of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation.
Last year the directors of Voice of the People were arrested after being
accused of operating without a licence but subsequently nothing was heard
about what BAZ was doing to facilitate the group's compliance with
requirements. The sole purpose of the Broadcasting Service Acts so far has
been to curtail, rather than promote diversity.
Radio stations operated by Zimbabweans such as Voice of the People and SW
Radio Africa resorted to beaming broadcasts from abroad precisely because of
the restrictive media laws in this country. But even then, the authorities
have punished them by resorting to Soviet-era style jamming, which
nevertheless did not succeed in keeping the populace in the dark about
government abuses and excesses even behind the "iron curtain".
It is aberrant thinking for the authorities to believe that the people of
Zimbabwe can be duped in a much more technologically advanced world than
that which existed when Joseph Stalin presided over a totalitarian tyranny
in Russia. The irony and hilarity of jamming its own new international
propaganda station while trying to silence SW Radio and other external
channels should have convinced the government of the futility of its
The perception that the government has become paranoid about shutting out
all other viewpoints so that only its version of the truth can prevail is
not restricted to those in the private media who are often regarded with
suspicion ... Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH) boss Henry Muradzikwa is
quoted in a story published elsewhere in this issue confirming that there is
political interference in the editorial policy of ZBC.
He told the same parliamentary portfolio committee that the Ministry of
Information and Publicity needed to state clearly how it wanted the
broadcaster to report on events in Zimbabwe. "We have been reporting on the
basis of deception", he declared. "What does the shareholder want? The
shareholder must make it public."
Muradzikwa's admission that the ZBC is now an outright propaganda tool of
the government comes as no surprise to Zimbabweans who have had to put up
with its amateurish attempts to misinform them and misrepresent glaring
As gratifying as it is to get confirmation from the horse's mouth, the
public has a right to ask Muradzikwa why he thinks ZBH should increase
licence fees as announced recently when it knows it is shortchanging
listeners and viewers. And after seven years of full-on and relentless
government propaganda through the electronic media, state newspapers,
magazines as well as the official ZANU PF mouthpiece, The Voice, it is time
for the powers-that-be to admit that their brand of deceptive and combative
spinning does not work.
Even the father of propaganda, Josef Goebbels, once admitted that the dark
science could not be a substitute for sound policies and corrective action.
It is scandalous for the government to continue pouring tax dollars down the
drain in a bid to force the people to believe the falsehoods it peddles in
the face of the overwhelming evidence of their own eyes and experiences.
Right now for example, even if the government had the sleekest wordsmiths as
its spin doctors (it actually has some of the crudest), there is no way it
can convince Zimbabweans who are starving as a result of its botched up and
vindictive "price war" that everything is hunky-dory.
Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter
WHEN Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi proposed that he would allocate
$1,2 trillion in the 2007 supplementary budget to cover the procurement of
drugs and other medical supplies, as well as running expenses of health
institutions, Health Minister, David Parirenyatwa, smiled, cynically.
Considering the intensity of the crisis dogging the country's paralysed
health sector, Parirenyatwa was obviously anticipating a huge cash outlay
for a quick recovery of the public health delivery system, crumbling under
acute drug and food shortages and despondent health professionals flocking
into neighbouring countries to escape poor remuneration.
Moreover, an HIV/AIDS crisis has stretched the public health delivery system
to the limit, with the sector failing to meet swelling demand for
The allocation, therefore, was a drop in the ocean.
Although now lower at around 18 percent, Zimbabwe's HIV prevalence rate is
still very high by global standards.
The crisis in the health delivery system epitomises the general
deterioration, and in certain cases total collapse, of social services due
to poor funding and an economic recession now in its eighth year.
Rural schools are collapsing and children are learning under trees and
examinations have often been called off.
But the impending problems are easy to determine: out of bids amounting to
$255 trillion from different government ministries and departments,
Mumbengegwi unveiled a paltry $37.1 trillion supplementary budget a
But still, that was also way above projected revenue earnings for the
supplementary budget period.
At $838 billion, the Ministry of Education had one of the highest votes but
that allocation could have come at the expense of the country's
long-suffering teachers whose salaries have been frozen.
John Robertson, an independent economic commentator, predicts the crisis in
the education delivery system could worsen, but said the various allocations
meant that government would force the central bank to run the printing press
to raise additional cash to fund a huge budget deficit.
"They will have to print the money, but this will cause inflation,"
Apart from the tragedy of collapsing education and health systems, the
country has the invidious task of raising cash to buy food to feed millions
of starving people, particularly in drought-affected rural areas.
Most children are going to school on empty stomachs, or failing to attend
lessons because of hunger.
Mumbengegwi said 600 000 households are in urgent need of food relief
This translates to about 3,6 million vulnerable people.
Only $347 billion was allocated for grain imports to feed these people.
When natural calamities like drought strike rural constituencies, rural
folks have normally turned to their working relatives in urban areas for
But urban workers are struggling to make ends meet due to poor salaries.
Although Mumbengegwi tried to give the workers something to cheer about,
workers still feel the tax-free thresholds, moved from $1.5 million per
month to $4 million, remains paltry given the high inflation levels in the
Trade unionists insist an additional $2,5 million per month into the pockets
of workers will not make a difference.
Bread alone costs $1,8 million, even without factoring the latest round of
price hikes sanctioned by the government's taskforce of prices, while
rentals have gone past $1 million per month for a single room in the high
Monthly transport costs have raced towards $8 million because government has
not addressed the fuel crisis.
Yet the majority of the country's workforce, according to labour unions,
take home less than $2 million per month.
Robertson, however, feels it will make "a little bit of a difference," but
again warns: "But it will cause frustrations among workers" because they
will have the money but there would be nothing to buy on the market.
Supermarket shelves have been empty since a government crackdown at the end
of June on retailers and manufacturers forcing prices down by at least 50
"Even if they get that little, where do they buy the commodities from? Shops
are empty. It will be helpful if they had somewhere to buy. Most goods are
on the black market and they cannot afford," Robertson says.
The predicament for urbanites has blossomed beyond the hunt for food.
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (ZINWA) has collapsed, raising the
spectre of water borne diseases, again creating a major strain on the health
delivery system. There have already been reports of cholera outbreaks in
most urban areas.
Mumbengegwi allocated $1,4 trillion to ZINWA, an organ falling under the
Ministry of Water Resources, "to restore water supplies in Harare,
Marondera, Bulawayo and Beitbridge".
Experts project $1,4 trillion to be insufficient just for a single town like
Mumbengegwi allocated $500 billion to the rural electrification programme.
One economist suggests this to be a generous offer, but for most rural
folks, whose crop failed in the last season because of poor rains,
Mumbengegwi should have improved his vote on food relief, which amounted to
"But the ultimate solution to the problem of the budget deficit, the water
and food crisis, would be to re-establish relations with multilateral
lending organisations for the provision of balance of payment, support and
other lifelines. As it stands, the country has no capacity to finance the
growing demand for financial resources needed by people," the economist
ZANU PF'S willingness to reach a deal with the opposition has won it rare
plaudits from critics, with some already predicting even further concessions
being made to the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) before next year's
But there are notes of caution. There is scepticism over whether this deal
guarantees free elections, and questions why ZANU PF, which thrives on
intransigence, has reached an accommodation with the opposition. And, what
will the MDC have to give up in return for the concessions?
Analysts say the concessions imply a surprise shift in ZANU PF strategy and
recall that the ruling party has always regarded the MDC as a Western puppet
bent on illegal regime change and averse to negotiation.
Eldred Masunungure, a professor of political science at the University of
Zimbabwe, says he is shocked by ZANU PF's willingness to amend the original
Amendment Number 18 draft Bill, saying that this could be a harbinger of
"These amendments may appear trivial, but I think they are nonetheless
important in that they indicate ZANU PF's preparedness to meet the MDC
"They (concessions) may look minor, but they are pointing to a more
conducive environment in the present dispensation before bigger
The deal was surprising, he says, "especially from a party which, to me,
thinks it has a divine right to rule this country forever."
The law merges the electoral calendar, and revokes electoral laws the
opposition has previously charged gave ZANU PF an unfair advantage.
But there could be pitfalls for the opposition.
Takura Zhangazha, a political commentator, has cautioned the MDC to be wary.
"ZANU PF might seem to have conceded to some demands due to these
amendments, but the MDC runs the risk of being roped into the ruling party's
Zhangazha found it incredible that the MDC had agreed to the staging of all
the elections in one day.
"How they agreed to have the presidential, parliamentary and local
government elections held in one day, when it was proved in 2005 that this
country has no capacity to manage elections in a single day, is a mystery.
There was chaos in 2005 with hundreds of thousands of people failing to cast
President Mugabe won by just 400 000 votes after similar chaos in 2002.
An interview granted to The Financial Gazette by a senior ZANU PF Politburo
member yesterday suggests the ruling party has more up its sleeve than a few
concessions to its bitter opponents.
The official, who would not be named, said after a list of MDC demands was
shown to members of the Politburo at a recent meeting, it was decided a deal
should be agreed "since it really does not touch (President Robert) Mugabe
in any way."
But to push the deal through, President Mugabe had to overcome both hawks on
his own side, who opposed any contact with the MDC, and rivals who want him
out. He can now also choose his successor, outflanking his internal rivals,
while on the other hand, he can now respond to questions over his legitimacy
raised by external critics.
The agreement also shows how low ZANU PF rates a divided MDC's chances at
the polls next year.
Should he manage to pull off a violence-free election, which is to be held
under the electoral system agreed with the MDC, and win, President Mugabe
would be in a position to reduce Morgan Tsvangirai's influence, as the
opposition leader has used disputed election results to validate his own
Western pressure already appears to be easing, with Commonwealth head Don
McKinnon and the International Crisis Group, both strident critics, now
calling for an end to President Mugabe's isolation.
ZANU PF would have noticed this, and a deal with the opposition gives it a
chance, however remote, to redeem its international image by appearing to be
Appearing to agree with the opposition was also important to help President
Mugabe maintain the fragile alliances in the region that have protected him
from sterner Western action.
Still, the MDC will have to give something away in return for the
concessions it squeezed out of the ruling party this week.
"The MDC demanded a repeal of POSA, AIPPA and other laws. We are yet to
discuss these, but we have given them something, and we expect something in
return," said the ZANU PF official.
A Politburo meeting on October 3 will debate how the ruling party will
respond to the MDC's demands on the security and media laws, the politburo
source said. It was likely, he added, that ZANU PF would repeat calls for
the MDC to convince "its western allies" to end targeted sanctions, among
THE 2007/08 farming season, which will be upon us in a few weeks' time, will
be a litmus test for the country's agricultural sector in that it offers the
world yet another opportunity to see if indeed a measure of progress has
been achieved in restoring Zimbabwe's breadbasket status as claimed by
Despite predictions by meteorologists of high chances of normal to above
normal rainfall throughout the country after a devastating dry spell last
season, a sense of trepidation is emerging quite strongly in the court of
public opinion. It is again feared that the country, neck-deep in the throes
of an economic recession blamed on the controversial land seizures
spearheaded by the war veterans in 2000, may not pass the litmus test for
the umpteenth time.
These fears, coming as the government struggles to feed an estimated 2.1
million people facing serious food shortages due to crop failure and
escalating poverty, are predicated on an assessment of the country's state
of preparedness ahead of the onset of the rains around November, which is
pointing to a poor season. Another poor season will certainly worsen the
plight of ordinary Zimbabweans, who are feeling the sharpest edge of the
economic meltdown that has persisted for the past seven years.
Seven years after the emotive farm expropriations, which government claims
influenced European and western states' decision to slap President Robert
Mugabe and his close lieutenants with targeted sanctions, the rough edges
are still to smoothen for indigenous farmers who settled on the farms
wrested from the minority whites. Uncertainty continues to hang over the
security of tenure, amid reports of fresh farm seizures, acute shortages of
tillage facilities and inputs such as fertilisers, seed and chemicals, which
could minimise yields.
The shortage of these important inputs impacts negatively on land
preparation and consequently on crop yields and production. Out of the
national requirement of 600 000 tonnes of fertilisers, only less than a
third of that has been produced. It means, therefore, that the downward
trend in output, which started at the height of the land reforms in 2000,
Reports that Iron Duke, Zimphos and Dorowa Minerals, the producers of
essential inputs used in the manufacture of fertilisers, stopped production
last month owing to power cuts and raw material shortages are another
indictment on the country's failure to plan ahead. As it is, tobacco
planting, which has begun in earnest, has been off to a rough start.
Another bad year will be too ghastly to contemplate for the country, which
is scrounging for foreign currency to cover food deficits and mitigate the
Government, which has declared war on inflation - fingered as the number one
enemy - needs to get its act together, first by laying a strong foundation
in agriculture upon which efforts to turn around the country's economy can
be anchored. It is only logical that the country increases agricultural
output to dampen underlying inflationary pressures since food commands the
biggest weight on the consumer price index, used to measure inflation.
Any prospects for a quick turnaround would be doomed for as long as
agriculture, whose contribution to the gross domestic product had risen to
about 18 percent, is not firing from all cylinders. Being the backbone of
the country's economy, it is critical that agriculture gets all the support
it requires. But what has been happening on the farms of late bears no
resemblance to the zeal witnessed when thousands of landless blacks poured
onto the farms, with so much promise to transform this critical sector.
Some of the country's most productive farms have since been turned into
braaing spots or leisure resorts where farmhouses have been converted into
lodges of some sort for flirting chefs and their concubines. But it would be
unfair to heap all the blame on the farmers, as government, banks and other
institutions involved in agriculture have also taken their feet off the
In the absence of support from these critical pillars, farmers have not
received essential agricultural inputs on time, financial incentives have
been little and far in between, extension services are inadequate and
returns have been sub-economic. Poor pricing of inputs, power and foreign
currency shortages have also combined to worsen the plight of both the
farmers and institutions that support agriculture.
In the end, it has become difficult for farmers to cover escalating
overheads let alone reinvest in production, particularly now that the
government has maintained a tight lid on prices. No wonder why most farmers
have moved away from the production of crops such as maize, cotton, sugar,
coffee and oil seed whose prices have been kept below economic levels.
The import of all this is that the writing is already on the wall:
Zimbabweans should brace for another poor harvest, which means more food
imports, rampant inflation and rising poverty.
vConstitutional Amendment Number 18 sounds death knell
IN 1985, I was a grade four pupil at Tapfuma Primary School in Marondera and
President Robert Mugabe was an energetic man in his early 60s and he
happened to have been campaigning to be retained as the head of state in
I was one of the lucky few to have greeted him at Rudhaka Stadium, and for
two days I refused to wash my right hand despite threats of a serious
thrashing from my vegetable vendor mother. President Mugabe went on to win
as usual and life went on as usual till 2000 when the Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) led by Morgan Tsvangirai rattled President Mugabe.
I got to know Tsvangirai years later when I was a student at the University
of Zimbabwe. We admired his fiery May 1 speeches. May 1 was a date each
student looked forward to as we could march and sing all the way to Rufaro
Stadium and get inspired.
I was part of a group of students who were addressed by Tsvangirai at the
University of Zimbabwe Great Hall around 1998-1999. The call was that he
should join politics, and his premonition was, will the people follow should
he take this route. I am sure he can answer that now.
The paths of two post-independence political leaders who have become the
fiercest rivals were to cross in 2002. It is a public secret who won that
election, despite what the 'official results' say. Zimbabwe has never been
the same again since 2000.
Others say the fact that President Mugabe had such a fierce hatred for
Tsvangirai meant that Zimbabwe would go down the drain if none of the two
gave up. None has given up but something has, and it is end game for the two
On September 18 2007, the Zimbabwe parliament passed the 18th Amendment to
the transitional Lancaster House constitution.
In the amendment President Mugabe made piecemeal concessions, nothing
substantive, and nothing concrete to cause a sea change in the political
fortunes of Zimbabwe. The MDC, in its wisdom or lack of it, says it supports
the process to build bridges. Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa says
Zimbabweans have come of age. But what is in it for the two bitter rivals,
President Mugabe and Tsvangirai?
ZANU PF realises that its future is a dead-end should it continue on the
current path but there is no one with the guts to change the status quo.
President Mugabe has centralised power around himself since 1980.
Nonetheless he has become a liability and his time to go, has without doubt
come, but how?
Constitutional Amendment Number 18 is the most likely strategy to exit with
his head high. He has "defeated" Tsvangirai, he has "defeated" Britain and
Tony Blair. He has "defeated" the great United States of America and Bush.
He has shown the rest of Africa how to deal with imperialists, more
importantly President Mugabe has defeated the palace coup plotters.
President Mugabe will be allowed to "choose" his successor, and go in grace
with his tail up. He has written a new chapter in African politics by
remaining at the helm of a virtually collapsed country.
Who ever is the chosen one will without doubt make the seemingly concrete
concessions. Maybe the Daily News will come back, maybe the Broadcasting
Services Act, the Public Order and Security Act and the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Act will be amended. Maybe the youth
militia camps will be closed, maybe the war veterans will go back to their
poverty in urban and rural areas.
The chosen one will reach out to the international community through Thabo
Mbeki and SADC and say "here you are, human rights have been restored, hail
to Thabo, please pass us on the money".
Zimbabwe will be another "classic" case of how Africans have come of age in
resolving a crisis. Quiet diplomacy will be adopted in political science
curricula and the UN will appoint an ambassador and Permanent Representative
of Quiet Diplomacy. President Mbeki might give a lecture on this.
For Zimbabwe at least, President Mugabe will be gone, and that to others, is
While President Mugabe's fate is clear, that of Tsvangirai is a classic case
of betrayal. Tsvangirai is not a Member of Parliament and is likely to be
the MDC candidate in an unwinnable election. MDC supporters are likely to
question him, and accuse him and his team of selling out. Some youths will
still sing, Morgan Tsvangirai Ndizvo, achasunungura Zimbabwe. But the boat
seems to have passed Tsvangirai already.
The MDC leader faces hard questions in explaining the events of September
18, when ZANU PF and the MDC unanimously agreed to amend the Constitution,
to the majority of his supporters. Especially what bridge has been built,
what this bridge means for the ordinary citizen, to Chiminya and Mabika, to
Ndabanyana and hundreds of others who lost their lives for the MDC. He will
also owe an explanation to th the majority of Zimbabweans whose lives have
been ruined because of ZANU PF's policies.
The likely scenario is that Tsvangirai is the unwilling sacrificial lamb,
sacrificed at the altar of quiet diplomacy and the quest for power by those
inside his 'cabinet'. Tsvangirai, as the situation stands, cannot win an
election next year under the present electoral laws and environment and
without a parliamentary seat his fate is sealed.
Arthur Mutambara will be 'magnanimous' and give Tsvangirai a shot at goal,
while he runs as an ordinary MP or Senator and win. Tsvangirai, come end of
2008, will be out and come the MDC congress a few years later, will be gone
The MDC has no leverage to push ZANU PF to implement what ever Chinamasa
promised apart from cooption, the path the party has already taken. The rest
of Zimbabweans will continue to scratch the ground for survival, after all
are we not Africans like the Somalis and Congolese. Let the regime change
and transition that Zimbabwe has been waiting for begin.
Rashweat Mukundu is the director of MISA-Zimbabwe
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE has once again fared badly in six key dimensions of governance with
the World Bank Institute (WBI) ranking the troubled country alongside Cote D'Ivoire,
Belarus and Venezuela.
A new report, Governance Matters 2007: Worldwide Governance Indicators,
1996-2006, authored by the WBI, indicates that the quality of governance in
Zimbabwe has sharply deteriorated in the last 10 years and that corruption
had become more prevalent, compromising economic growth prospects and
The report represents a decade-long effort by researchers to build and
update the most comprehensive cross-country set of governance indicators
currently available to the public in 212 countries.
"Governance in Zimbabwe and Cote D'Ivoire has deteriorated sharply on every
dimension.On average the quality of governance around the world has not
improved much over the past decade, despite individual country
"For the countries that have done well, there have been a similar number
that have experienced deteriorations in a number of governance dimensions,
including Zimbabwe, Cote D'Ivoire, Belarus and Venezuela. And in many other
countries no significant change in either direction is yet apparent," read
part of the report seen by The Financial Gazette.
In making its assessment, the WBI considered six key dimensions of
governance, namely control of corruption, rule of law, regulatory quality,
government effectiveness, political stability and voice and accountability.
The WBI said donor agencies and international financial institutions were
increasingly and explicitly tying aid transfers to governance outcomes
because development assistance was more effective in countries with good
The WBI also warned that countries such as Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea
with voice and accountability challenges tended to have much more
While Zimbabwe and Cote D'Ivoire ranked dismally in good governance
indicators, it was a different story for other African countries such as
Angola and Kenya, which made significant strides on the path to good
"Over the period from 1998 to 2006, Kenya, Niger, Sierra Leone have shown
marked improvements in Voice and Accountability, while Algeria and Liberia
have strengthened their Rule of Law. Countries like Algeria, Angola, Libya,
Rwanda, Sierra Leone have made significant improvements in Political
Stability and Tanzania has recorded gains on Control of Corruption."
"The hopeful news is that a considerable number of countries, including in
Africa, are showing that it is possible to make significant governance
progress in a relatively short period of time. Such improvements in
governance are critical for aid effectiveness and for sustained long-run
growth," said Daniel Kaufmann, co author of the report and director of
Global Programs at the World Bank Institute.
Zimbabwe, which last received financial aid from major multilateral
financial institutions in 1999 has ranked poorly on most global economic
competitiveness rankings such as the World Economic Forum (WEF)'s Global
Competitiveness Index (GCI) and the WEF's Global Information Technology
Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor
ZIMBABWE'S inflation rate declined to 6 592.8 percent year-on-year for
August, helped by a government blitz on the business sector that forced
prices down by 50 percent at the end of June, figures from the Central
Statistical Office (CSO) indicated.
The inflation rate receded after initially touching a record high of 7 634.8
percent in July.
Month-on-month inflation slumped to 11.8 percent in August, from 31.6
percent in July.
The CSO said the decline in the inflation rate, likely to bolster
government's price control measures that have resulted in widespread
shortages in the economy, was due to a sharp slowdown in prices for food and
Zimbabwe is currently grappling with its worst economic crisis in history,
characterised by runaway inflation, acute fuel and foreign currency
shortages that have disrupted the normal functioning of the country's frail
economy, and severe food shortages.
Since the government's clampdown on the business sector, commodity shortages
It was not immediately clear what basket the CSO had used to come up with
the new figures, as most of the basket products are not available on
supermarket shelves, from where the CSO gleans its data for compilation of
It could as well be that the CSO had used figures compiled by the government
for the prices of most of the products, which are not available on the
Despite the slowdown, the inflation rate for August remains the highest in
Before the price blitz, people were quickly converting their Zimbabwe
dollars into food or other essential commodities because of the erosion of
value caused by the inflationary crisis.
However, because of the current shortages, most people are rushing to the
parallel market for foreign currency or to the stock market for shares.
Both the equities and parallel foreign currency markets have outperformed
inflation during the past eight months of the year.
Evidently, the inflationary cycle has made it unattractive to hold the local
currency when costs of goods and services are increasing on a daily basis,
or the goods are unavailable as is the case under the current regime of
tight price monitoring.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
Heinz denies selling stake to Cottco
MYSTERY over the contentious purchase of a controlling stake in Zimbabwe's
troubled food manufacturer Olivine Holdings deepened this week after H.J.
Heinz denied selling its shareholding to the Cotton Company of Zimbabwe
Cottco, the country's largest cotton processor, claimed in a statement to
shareholders early this month that it had purchased Heinz's 49 percent
shareholding in Olivine for US$6.8 million.
The statement, issued by the Cottco board of directors, stated that the
cotton processor had acquired Heinz's 49 percent stake through the
Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) in a transaction meant to add
critical mass to the company and diversify its revenue streams.
But Heinz this week denied selling any of its shares to Cottco, adding an
intriguing piece to the Heinz-Olivine jigsaw puzzle, which has baffled the
market since news of the transaction broke early this week.
"Heinz did not sell its 51 percent stake in Olivine to Cottco. Heinz never
had any interaction with Cottco. Heinz sold its interest to the Zimbabwe
government," Michael Mullen, the Heinz spokesperson, told The Financial
The Financial Gazette questioned Cottco's statement just after the cotton
processor announced its purchase of Heinz's shares, stating that it was
startling how Cottco had come into the picture, as it had been the IDC that
had earlier confirmed direct negotiations with Heinz for the stock.
At the time of the purchase of the shares, Cottco did not give details of
what the corporation itself would get for its role.
One other missing piece of the puzzle is an outstanding two percent stake in
Olivine. In its briefing to shareholders Cottco, announced buying 49 percent
of Heinz's 51 percent stake.
Whoever bought the balance has not yet been announced to the market.
Dumisani Ndlela Business Editor
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono is expected to
unveil the long-awaited mid-term monetary policy review any time soon, with
indications he is in a tight corner - a hostage to an uninspiring fiscal
policy review and supplementary budget two weeks ago, and a price blitz
embarked upon by the government at the end of June.
There is little or no room for manoeuvre: at the behest of central
government, Gono is likely to be forced to keep the printing press hot
during the year, busy raising funds for additional expenditure requirements
under Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi's supplementary budget.
That would make the task for the economic turnaround, for which Gono was
appointed as champion, an invidious one, not least because he is battling
rampaging inflation that looks no closer to receding to reasonable two-digit
figures, but because all policies that should be complementary to the battle
against the scourge are damaging to the cause.
The government's order forcing retailers and manufacturers to reduce prices
by 50 percent at the end of June threw into turmoil a proposal Gono had
mooted for a holistic approach towards dealing with the country's economic
woes, and take the country back on a recovery path.
Now, Gono will present his mid-term policy review with no social contract
deal to talk about, although a number of his own efforts had culminated in
the signing of at least three social contract protocols by stakeholders.
There was hope, following the signing of the key protocols to the social
contract, that the partners would share the same vision - to stabilise the
country's economy through measures that will boost productivity, reduce
inflation and generate employment - in order for economic recovery to be
But much was still to depend on the government, which has over the past
years been accused of fuelling inflation through profligate spending and
increased money printing.
The government was to be bound into limiting its expenditure under a
credible fiscal policy - Mumbengegwi two weeks ago showed this was
Government had made certain commitments.
These included rolling out a strict cash budgeting framework for line
ministries - all ministries would be compelled to spend within set budgets
and only to the extent of actual cash revenue available; implementation of a
comprehensive public sector debt restructuring programme; and optimisation
of fiscal revenue collection.
As Gono had previously said, this was going to fortify the effectiveness of
any measures to be agreed upon by partners under the social contract.
So, it was crazy to have faith in the government, it later turned out.
Industry and Trade Minister, Obert Mpofu, proclaimed that the blitz on
retailers and manufacturers, which buried all prospects for a social
contract, would go down in history as "the fastest way of reducing
Gono apparently did not approve of this approach, which resulted in
widespread shortages in the economy.
Apparently, the chief cause of inflation, as he has pointed out before,
includes an increase in the amount of money in circulation.
For example, if the central bank prints more notes and increases the amount
of money in circulation, this diminishes the value of the domestic currency.
Gono, who has been under pressure from a profligate government to print more
money for grain imports and other obligations, indicated he would rein in
money supply growth to control inflation during his last monetary policy
The price blitz has resulted in acute shortages and there has been a strong
demand for almost all basic and non-basic commodities in the country, yet
companies have scaled down production and are operating below capacity. This
effectively means people have to pay higher prices to get what they want
because they are competing for few goods.
Production costs have gone up, mainly due to the diminishing value of the
domestic currency, which has weakened against international currencies, as
well as demands for higher wages and salaries.
Businesses have passed the cost of production to the consumers, pushing up
prices and triggering high inflation.
Moreover, businesses have been sourcing foreign currency from the parallel
market, which is very expensive.
The recent slowdown in inflation, from
7 634.8 percent in July to 6 592.8 percent year-on-year for August,
represents an artificial decline in prices caused by the shortages:
essentially, there was nothing to price in the supermarkets, and so
inflation could not rise, creating history, as Mpofu pointed out.
It would have been good if this was a job half done for the governor.
Shame Makoshori Staff Reporter
Gesture a strong signal 'Look East' policy stumbling
THE government has acknowledged the European Union (EU) as a crucial market
for Zimbabwean products, sending out a signal that its "Look East" policy
President Robert Mugabe's government embarked on the "Look East" policy,
which has seen the country sourcing most of its products from the Asian
countries, particularly China, after European countries and the United
States cut commercial ties with his government over allegations of human
But in a gesture seen by trade analysts as an offer of dialogue to the EU,
which has announced its intention to cut preferential sugar prices from
African-Caribbean and Pacific countries (ACP), including Zimbabwe, Industry
and International Trade Deputy Minister Phineas Chihota recently described
the EU as Harare's "strongest trading partner".
Chihota said this during a plea to members of the House of Assembly to
ratify international trade agreements on sugar sales, which expire in
"The country is benefiting from trade with the EU, and the EU is by far the
most important donor to this country," Chihota told the House of Assembly
before the presentation of the supplementary budget by Finance Minister
"Zimbabwe exports 55 000 tonnes of sugar to the EU every year. Our companies
are benefiting from sugar exports," Chihota said in recommending the
ratification of the ACP-EU partnering agreements signed in Cotonou in 2000.
The agreements provide for the revision of trade provisions after every five
He said the ratification would ensure the country was not excluded from
exporting 57 000 tonnes of sugar, its export quota to the EU.
The EU says low cost producers like Zimbabwe and Malawi stand to benefit
immensely from the proposed liberalisation of the world sugar trade market.
Despite the political standoff with the EU and the US, official statistics
indicate that Zimbabwe's imports from the United Kingdom and Germany, the
biggest members of the EU, totalled $10 trillion in 2006.
Exports to the two countries ended the year at about $3 trillion, while
tourist arrivals from the EU and the US closed the year at about 140 000 in
This figure is four times that of arrivals from the Far Eastern markets,
which recorded 37 000 arrivals during the same period.
Movement for Democratic Change legislators opposed the approval of the
agreements, arguing that they needed time to look into them before giving
They were however overwhelmed by a "yes" vote from ZANU PF Members of
Parliament, leading to the ratification of the agreements.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Reporter
ZIMBABWE'S state security agents moved swiftly to
stop militant workers at Border Timbers Limited (BTL) and Karina Textiles in
Mutare from taking part in a two-day work boycott called by the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), threatening unspecified measures against
those taking part in the strike action.
Workers at the two companies have usually rallied
behind the ZCTU's calls, courting the ire of the government.
The ZCTU, the country's largest umbrella labour
body, this week called for a two-day work stay away beginning yesterday to
protest deteriorating economic and working conditions.
The strike action has largely been unsuccessful,
with major businesses opening for business.
Workers at both BTL and Karina told The Financial
Gazette yesterday that state security agents had convened and addressed
workers in Mutare ahead of the job action, warning them to ignore the
"They addressed workers in Mutare and intimidated
them from heeding the stay away," Chibebe said.
Workers at the Mutare-based timber producer said two
state security agents visited BTL early this week demanding an audience with
BTL managing director John Gadzikwa over the pending job action.
However, the two state security agents were referred
to Patrick Jambwa, the customer services manager as Gadzikwa was not present
during their visit.
The workers said Gadzikwa on Tuesday issued out a
memorandum advising all workers not to heed the ZCTU's protests and to
report to work after being briefed of the CIO's demands.
"Gadzikwa wrote a memo telling workers that if they
abscond from duty on Wednesday and Thursday they will all be disciplined
accordingly," the workers said.
In April workers in the eastern border town largely
heeded the ZCTU's call for a two-day protest by not reporting for work, but
the CIO intervened on the last day of the job boycott by ordering workers at
BTL to report for work.
The state security agents allegedly tortured BTL
union leaders for encouraging workers to boycott work and accused them of
supporting the opposition Movement for Democratic Change in its "regime
Unanswered questions . . .
EDITOR - Where ignorance reigns supreme, wisdom becomes a stupid employment.
The question to ask is: Are we really sure of what we are praising here in
Are we really sure that Obert Mpofu is the best we can offer as Industry and
International Trade Minister? Are we saying that there are no able people or
economists who can do better than Mpofu?
Are we saying the principle of demand and supply is fake? Are we saying that
the costs of inputs cannot determine the price of the end product?
Are we saying that only land can empower the people? Are we saying to
foreign investors bring your investments here and we will tell you how much
you should charge for your products?
Are we saying breaking up big farms into smaller plots is a prerequisite for
Are we saying China has no imperial interests and only the West can be
imperialistic? Are we saying neo-colonisation by the Chinese is better than
that of the West?
Are we saying the West is not importing from Zimbabwe?Are we saying the West
sent us into the DRC war and bars private players in the monopolised
Are we saying people who voluntarily fought for our liberation (war vets)
must be paid? What role other than the so-called 'custodians of culture' do
Posh cars, big homes not the real Zim
EDITOR - Zimbabwe is getting worse. A fortnight ago my friends - a
pathologist, a physiotherapist and a male nurse who, like millions of other
Zimbabweans fled the country to seek refuge or a better life - returned from
a three-week holiday in Zimbabwe.
For some obscure reasons, they thought Zimbabwe is doing well. My friends
and I have always concurred and conceded the fact that our country is
descending into a humanitarian crisis, but this time my friends had embraced
a different trajectory of thought. They told me that while they travelled
around Zimbabwe, they saw a lot of people driving posh cars such as BMW X5s
and many more. They also recounted that a lot of people were buying plots or
building palatial houses in nice suburbs.
To put it in context, they were convinced that the type of cars or the
number of houses built in a country can be used as an index for judging
whether a country is doing well or not. I disagree.
Zimbabweans who share such an insular view need to be mindful of the fact
that the expensive cars and the nice houses we see are not indicative of a
country, which is doing well. They belong to either the elite or a handful
of individuals, particularly those in the diaspora, those who are lucky to
live where there is true democracy, good governance and a successful
The performance of a country is judged on national statistics: Zimbabwe's
GDP is estimated at -5.1 percent, inflation is leaning towards 10 000
percent and it is predicted to have reached 1.5 million percent by the end
of this year. Unemployment is close to 90 percent, the average life
expectancy has plummeted, and there are no basic commodities in our shops
and antiretroviral drugs in our pharmacies. People are so desperate; they
are turning to the flea markets where they are buying fake drugs.
Clearly, our country's performance is abysmal and to suggest that it is
doing well is preposterous, if not buffoonery. People in the rural areas
such as Chitswiti, Matetsi or Chitange in Mt Darwin do not even dream of
these big cars and mansions. They need basic commodities such as salt,
sugar, soap, paraffin and diesel to grind their maize.
In Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe, Bondamakara or Chomutukutu they need affordable
transport to travel to hospitals and to the grinding mills, not cars and
properties, which are owned by a few Zimbabweans who occasionally come on
holiday from Gaborone, Ottawa or London. The 4x 4s and/or the beautiful
houses in the Grange or in Mount Pleasant Heights, Harare can never be a
solution to the misery purveyed by Operation Murambatsvina.
Mind you, these cars need petrol and the houses need electricity, both of
which are rare in Zimbabwe.
The fundamental questions are, if Zimbabwe is doing so well why are our
compatriots not afraid of being mauled by crocodiles in the Limpopo River as
they attempt to cross into South Africa? Why are they not ashamed of being
asylum seekers living in Langa Township, Cape Town, or detainees at Yarl's
Wood Refugee Camp in Bedford, UK instead of being a farmer or a headmaster
in Sadza or Kanyemba?
Let the Czechs go
EDITOR - I would like to respond to a recent story in The Financial Gazette
on the closure of the Czech Republic's embassy in Zimbabwe because of what
Karel Schwarzenberg, the Minister of Home Affairs called the "crazy policies
of the government of Zimbabwe" without elaborating further or even
mentioning the policies that affected the running of their embassy.
The Czech minister went on to say that his government would also close
embassies in Singapore and Uruguay. Does Schwarzenberg mean that these other
two countries have "crazy" policies like Zimbabwe?
According to the article, the "crazy" Karel says that the Czech government
will save more than US$5.8 million a year after closing the three embassies.
The Czechs maintain diplomatic relations with more than 85 countries. If it
is a question of crazy polices where does the saving issue come in?
The Czechs should not be embarrassed to admit that their budget can no
longer sustain the running of its embassies. Since the birth of the Czech
Republic from the former Czechoslovakia, the Czechs have made integration
with Western institutions their chief foreign policy objective. What can one
expect from such a country vis-ą-vis the current relationship between
Zimbabwe and the West? Anyway, I don't see Zimbabwe benefiting from the
presence of these peolpe here. Let them go as we do not need them anyway.
Raw deal for visually impaired UZ students
EDITOR - The accommodation crisis at the University of Zimbabwe (UZ) has
created difficulties for physically challenged and visually impaired
The decision to evict all students from the halls of residence has
exacerbated the plight of the physically challenged and visually impaired
students. The UZ administration has instructed the students, through the
Disability Resource Centre (DRC) that 17 visually impaired students
currently staying at Georgette Hostel along Kwame Nkrumah be relocated to
Montrose Hostel in Five Avenue.
The plight of the other 53 physically challenged students has been
trivialised as no attempts have been made to alleviate their predicament
given that their disability compromises their capacity to be mobile to
It will be a traumatising experience for the visually challenged students to
negotiate their way from Montrose Hostel to Mbuya Nehanda Street to board
commuter omnibuses to campus. Currently, only three out of the 17 students
have canes to use, which are literally the eyes for the visually challenged.
The students have to walk a distance of a kilometre crossing two of Harare's
busiest roads, Samora Machel and Herbert Chitepo and given that a pupil from
Girls High School was run over by a car along Samora Machel less than a year
ago, the university administration is exposing these students to great
Yet still, the majority of the students virtually have no money to commute
to and from college as ommuter omnibuses are charging $50 000 and the fares
may be hiked soon as fares for other routes such as Borrowdale now have been
hiked from the government imposed $20 000 to $100 000, in clear defiance of
the ill-fated price controls.
The parents of these students, as is the case with most Zimbabweans, are
living well below the poverty datum line and cannot afford to underwrite all
At Montrose Hostel, unlike previous arrangements at UZ before the July 2007
student evictions, there will be no catering services and the students face
starvation. A plate of the staple meal, sadza and stew, costs around $1
million in some restaurants in the city centre.
Another challenge faced by these students is that at Montrose Hostels their
personal assistants who normally assist them with reading services will not
be accommodated meaning that there will be virtually no learning.
Montrose Hostels and Georgette Hostels used to be reserved for social work
students who conduct most of their lectures at the School of Social Work in
the city centre. The visually impaired students have expressed their
reluctance to deprive social work students of accommodation previously
reserved for them.