September 28, 2012 in News
CONSTRUCTION of a luxury tent camp within a leading tourist resort Mana
Pools has fuelled the controversy engulfing the environmentally-protected
Unesco World Heritage Site buffeted by miners who want to extract precious
minerals from the wildlife-rich area amid fierce resistance from
conservationists. Report by Tendai Marima
As reported in the Zimbabwe Independent last week, government has issued two
heavy mineral sand exploration licences to Habbard Investments (Pvt) Ltd
within Mana Pools National Park, causing a storm of protest by eco-activist
group, Zambezi Society.
The organisation, which conserves wildlife and wilderness in the Zambezi
valley, has also been campaigning against the construction of tented chalets
on the banks of the Zambezi River.
In 2010 the government invited private investors to lodge business proposals
to develop the area and generate revenue. ECIS Investments (Pvt) Ltd, a
Harare-registered company, expressed interest and the Ministry of
Environment and Natural Resources swiftly approved and signed a lease,
renting out a 1km two patches of land 45 metres from the Zambezi River.
At an estimated cost of US$94 100, ECIS began laying a wooden platform
foundation in June this year as it initiated work on a project in which it
proposes to construct a solar-powered thatched lodge equipped with a bar,
two patios, a dozen en-suite chalets, 24 single rooms for staff and a
However, stakeholders, including Unesco, have objected to the construction
of Mana Pools Safari Camp because the Management Plan for Mana Pools
National Park, drafted by the government in 2008, limits construction to
12-bed semi-permanent structures in the area. ECIS plan to build a unit with
at least 36 beds, including staff quarters.
Citing the draft plan, Zambezi Society has complained about ECIS building on
the Zambezi’s sensitive shoreline. “During the management planning process,
stakeholders agreed that further developments along the Zambezi River
frontage at Mana Pools would likely increase tourism pressure to a level
which could damage the very fragile ecosystem of Mana Pools,” the
organisation’s spokesperson Sally Win said.
“The Plan recommended there should be no further developments in the Zambezi
riverside/floodplain zone of the park and that only small (12-bed)
semi-permanent developments should be encouraged at identified sites
An Environmental impact assessment (EIA) was conducted by Vibes Consultancy
in June 2011, but environmentalist groups have questioned its validity
because of inadequate public consultation and EIA’s insufficient plans for
disposal of sewage waste and how to block wild animals from accessing the
A letter dated March 12, 2012 written by Zambezi Society to the
Environmental Management Authority expresses these and other concerns. “We,
along with colleagues representing the Unesco Mana and Biosphere Committee,
have perused the EIA for the Mana Pools Safari Camp,” reads the letter
signed by the organisation’s chairman Noah Madviza and strategic director
“The consultants obviously have no idea about access into Mana Pools for
such things as sewage disposal lorries. During the rainy season, roads are
completely impassable. No details (from Vibes Consultancy) about what will
happen if they are found to be leaking into the Zambezi River. There are
some mitigating measures mentioned for solid waste management, but they are
straight out of an EIA guidance manual, and in many cases not appropriate
for the Mana Pools environment.
“There is a very high population of elephants and hippos in Mana Pools. It
is common for swimming pools at safari camps to become a major attraction
for these animals seeking clean water to drink. Such a situation can lead to
destruction of property, with the animals becoming a menace and eventually
having to be ‘removed’ – a situation which would not be appropriate in a
National Park and World Heritage Site such as Mana Pools.”
Contacted on Tuesday on the scathing criticism of the EIA, Vibes Consultancy
refused to comment and directed all questions to ECIS Investments.
Investigations by Zimbabwe Independent have shown that the directors of ECIS
Investments include Francesco Marconati, a Zimbabwean citizen of Italian
descent of 91 Piers Road, Borrowdale, Harare and Chinese national, Ms Li
ECIS Investments was registered on July 5 2004 and also owns one of Zimbabwe’s
eight tanneries, Eagle Tannery which is based in Harare. Calls on Wednesday
to ECIS Investments about building developments were met with hostility.
“Yes there is nothing wrong with it (Mana Pools Safari Camp), what do you
want to know about it?” a company representative asked.
“I have been getting a lot of spinach about this, but you can go to
government they are the authority to speak to about this. Don’t worry about
me, I have no intention of speaking to you because the newspapers always
write whatever they want, it doesn’t matter what I say.”
September 28, 2012 in News, Politics
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe faces a new re-election hurdle if he insists on his
party’s bid to amend the contentious Copac draft constitution during the
potentially volatile second all-stakeholders’ conference where the two MDC
formations want to push for the inclusion of a presidential candidate age
limit, which they say is in the national report that Zanu PF wants presented
at the meeting.
Report by Wongai Zhangazha
The MDC parties had agreed to drop the clause on age limit during the
negotiated drafting process as a compromise, but sources say Zanu PF’s
dogged attempts to force through its 266 politburo amendments to the draft
and persistent calls for the release of Copac’s national report could bring
back those controversial issues.
Zanu PF’s revised document conveniently omits issues relating to the
presidential age limit, single farm ownership as well as devolution of power
which were raised by the people.
Devolution is particularly going to cause a fierce battle as the MDC parties
insist it must be in the draft. Zanu PF does not want devolution, but
decentralisation which is part of the status quo. Mugabe and his party are
fighting to restore the constitutional status quo, while reinstating the
imperial presidency which has helped them win past elections by hook or
According to the Copac national thematic summary analysis and national
narrative report seen by the Zimbabwe Independent, ordinary people want the
presidential tenure to be limited to two five-year terms and the maximum age
limit to be capped at 70 years.
Further, the MDC parties would also want to push for the inclusion of a
clause barring anyone who has already served 10 years as president from
seeking re-election. This was also in the first Copac draft. The age limit
would automatically rule out Mugabe, who turns 89 in February 2013, and is
serving his 25th consecutive year as president after spending seven years as
The contentious final Copac draft, to which Zanu PF negotiators appended
their signatures alongside their MDC counterparts, curtails Mugabe’s
overwhelming powers by dispersing them to other arms of government and state
However, Zanu PF’s amendments restore Mugabe’s sweeping executive powers and
expunge devolution entirely from the draft. They also delete many other
issues the party does not want.
The changes also removed the presidential running mate provision, replacing
it with the current system, with the new provision that in the event of the
office of president becoming vacant, the replacement would be chosen by the
party to which the president belonged and reposes all executive power in the
president by scrapping the provision which vests them in the president and
The Zanu PF draft also restores the current presidential immunity
September 28, 2012 in News, Politics
THE presence of soldiers in some Nyanga villages has heightened fears of a
repeat of the bloody run-up to the sham 2008 presidential election run-off
in which President Robert Mugabe contested alone after MDC-T leader Morgan
Tsvangirai pulled out, citing systematic violence and intimidation.
Report by Elias Mambo
The Zimbabwe Independent understands that soldiers from the Mutare-based 3
Brigade have been visiting traditional chiefs in Nyanga North and South
constituencies for “orientation programmes”.
The programmes seem similar to the ones in which soldiers countrywide
visited chiefs and headmen on Zanu PF campaign missions disguised as lessons
on new farming methods to boost agricultural production.
Villagers told the Independent the soldiers’ visits to chiefs had been
dubbed “orientation programmes”, although the details had not been explained
to them yet.
The Joint Operations Command, which brings together the army, police and
intelligence services chiefs, has played a strong commissariat role for Zanu
PF in previous elections, and army sources said “Operation Maguta” was being
revived to justify the presence of soldiers in most rural communities. The
operation was discontinued after the formation of the coalition government
Zimbabwe National Army director of public relations Lieutenant-Colonel
Alphios Makotore confirmed the presence of soldiers in Nyanga North
villages, but dismissed allegations they were campaigning for Zanu PF,
saying the army is involved in developmental issues in the villages.
“Soldiers in Nyanga North are there to rehabilitate the road that goes to
chief Tangwena’s homestead,” said Makotore. “They have been there for a year
now and they have nothing to do with the villagers.”
Nyanga North and South MPs Douglas Mwonzora and Willard Chimbetete,
respectively, however expressed concerns at the presence of soldiers in
their constituencies, saying it had caused unnecessary anxiety and tension
as it evokes painful memories of the violent 2008 elections.
“The military involvement in my constituency is disturbing as it is
instilling fear in the people,” said Chimbetete. “Recently, acting chief
Saunyama, who is Victor Saunyama of Nyanga South, fired three headmen —
Chifodya Katerere, Didymus Nyamahomba and Alfred Mukombedzi — and replaced
them with Zanu PF members. Mukombedzi, from Dende village ward 15, was
replaced after soldiers visited his homestead.”
Mukombedzi told the Independent there are co-ordinated efforts by chiefs and
the army to intimidate people ahead of elections expected next year.
“Soon after the army’s visit, I was told that people are complaining about
the way I carry out my duties and the chief said he was demoting me,” he
He confirmed that the three sacked headmen were MDC-T members.
Mwonzora, who is also MDC-T spokesperson, said although soldiers have
besieged his constituency to coerce people to vote for Zanu PF, his party
was confident of winning.
“Zanu PF is using state apparatus to send the wrong message to the
electorate, but that strategy is tired and will not work,” said Mwonzora.
Centre for Community Development in Zimbabwe’s information officer George
Makoni said the presence of the army in rural areas ahead of elections
should be addressed as a matter of urgency.
“The deployment of the military in villages is part of the Zanu PF strategy
to instil fear in the electorate ahead of elections. The disruption of MDC
rallies confirms our fears Zanu PF is planning to unleash its terror
machinery again,” said Makoni.
September 28, 2012 in News, Politics
SUSPECTED intelligence operatives last week besieged relatives of murdered
police officer Petros Mutedza at their Mukumbura homestead in Mt Darwin in
what appears to be a case of intimidation.
Report by Wongai Zhangazha
Police allege Mutedza was killed by MDC-T militants last year in Glen View,
leading to the arrest of 29 party activisits who deny the charges and are
currently fighting for bail.
The suspected Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) operatives allegedly
arrived at the homestead in two unmarked vehicles at midnight and questioned
his brother Tichaona’s wife on the whereabouts of her husband.
Tichaona recently made shocking revelations in court that his brother
(Petros)’s body had missing genital parts.
According to reliable sources, two vehicles with no number plates arrived at
the Mutedza rural homestead. One vehicle remained a distance away from the
homestead while the other drove on and a female passenger asked to see
“She asked her where her husband was and on being told he was in Harare, the
suspected agent wanted to know how he had gone to Harare and when he had
left,” said the source.
“They are obviously trying to intimidate witnesses. We know what they are
trying to achieve and I’m sure it has something to do with his testimony in
Lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, who is representing the accused activists, on
Wednesday confirmed receiving information of the visit by suspected
She said she had already officially registered her concerns.
“I was told the very same morning Petros’ father gave evidence that people
in unmarked vehicles came to their homestead at midnight and questioned
Tichaona’s wife about his whereabouts,” said Mtetwa.
September 28, 2012 in News, Politics
ZIMBABWE’s leading party in parliament MDC-T party, marks its 13th
anniversary at White City Stadium in Bulawayo on Saturday reeling from a
recent damning survey indicating a marked decline in its popularity ahead of
do-or-die elections expected next year.
Report by Herbert Moyo
For the superstitious, 13 is an unlucky number, and the anniversary comes at
a time when the party appears to be at a crossroads. A scathing Freedom
House survey stated the party’s support had declined nationwide while United
Kingdom-based Zim Vigil forecasted an electoral loss for MDC-T. The survey
said MDC-T’s support declined from 38% to 19%, while Zanu PF gained from 17%
to 31%. About 47% did not declare their preferences.
Fresh reports of in-fighting and rampant corruption within the party’s ranks
have also been of major concern and the anniversary provides the party with
a chance to tackle head-on some of the ills threatening to tear it asunder.
The party’s volatile Bulawayo province, which hosts the anniversary, is on
the brink again with disgruntled senior officials this week accusing deputy
president Thokozani Khupe and provincial chairperson Gorden Moyo of
attempting to unilaterally dissolve party structures to impose candidates of
“Bulawayo will be a litmus test of how we’ve responded to the damning
(Freedom House) survey report claiming loss of support,” said a senior party
official who requested anonymity.
“However, our cause will not be helped by the authoritarian style of Khupe
who only last week descended on the province in the company of Moyo,
(Abednico) Bhebhe and (Tabitha) Khumalo seeking the dissolution of the
Bulawayo central district party executive in order to impose people like her
Sources said the choice of Bulawayo for the anniversary is meant to give
Khupe an opportunity to restore her tarnished image and test the popularity
of the party at the heart of the MDC-T’s strongholds. Moyo said Bulawayo was
a symbol of MDC-T resistance and endurance as it is the only province where
the party continued to hold “a 100%” record since 2000. “This is a record we
wish to maintain until all our competitors finally accept that this is a
no-go area for them,” he said. “As we speak, Bulawayo is a Zanu PF-free
Party leader and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was angered by Khupe’s
failure to mobilise a sizeable crowd for his national day of prayer address
at Barbourfields Stadium in the same city in May.
Khupe had promised Tsvangirai a full house but only 10 000 people showed up
at the 35 000-seater white city stadium.
Khupe has spent the past week holding door-to-door meetings and strategising
how to flash out her opponents.
She held a meeting at the home of Pumula East councillor Ephraim Ncube in
the company of Moyo, Albert Mhlanga, Bhebhe and Khumalo last Saturday — a
move described by a party official as “quite uncharacteristic of a party
There are claims long-serving members have been side-lined in favour of
“mafikizolos” (johnnies-come-lately) such as the seconding of youth leader
Promise Mkhwananzi and little-known Agnes Mvula to Jomic as liaison
officers. However, MDC-T national organising secretary Nelson Chamisa
dismissed all talk of divisions, saying the party would “paint Bulawayo red”
“We have all our ducks in one row and all sceptics should come and witness
the show of support instead of relying on concocted stories about disunity
and dwindling popularity,” said Chamisa.
“We are one big family and naturally you can have differences but that does
not mean the family is disunited or falling apart.”
Party spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said the party had done a lot of candid
self-introspection in the wake of the Freedom House and Afro-Barometer
surveys and would emerge stronger.
“We have re-connected with our supporters and we are re-connecting with
civil society,” said Mwonzora. “We are working very hard on all the
weaknesses noted in those reports.”
However, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition director McDonald Lewanika said MDC-T
was hard-pressed to demonstrate its popularity in the aftermath of the
Freedom House survey reports and the in-fighting which sparked alleged
defections to Welshman Ncube’s MDC formation.
September 28, 2012 in News, Politics
WHILE government is failing to create jobs andsufficiently pay civil
servants languishing in poverty, latest disclosures show cabinet ministers
are increasingly becoming affluent due to primitive accumulation of wealth
through corrupt practices, including double-dipping on benefits and
Report by Herbert Moyo
Zimbabwe’s ministers are among the most opulent in the region as they get
the latest luxury vehicles, such as Mercedes Benz and Toyota Landcruisers,
as part of their packages, and also have posh houses.
Added to this lucre of expensive cars and houses some ministers,
particularly those from Zanu PF, have huge well-equipped farms and other
businesses largely acquired through abuse of office and rent-seeking
practices. Most ministers are incessant globe-trotters, attending meetings
all over the world which they often treat as holidays trips and getting
State Enterprises and Parastatals minister Gorden Moyo told the Zimbabwe
Independent last week preliminary reports from the Comptroller and
Auditor-General following investigations into operations of parastatals in
2011 had unearthed evidence of massive double-dipping in state enterprises
by greedy cabinet ministers.
The revelations demonstrate further how political office in Zimbabwe is used
as a stepping stone to the gravy train fuelled by corruption and pilfering
of state resources, amid failure by the state to hold to account those who
steal from the public.
While corruption is now a hallmark of President Robert Mugabe’s rule since
Independence in 1980, it is the realisation the Zanu PF gravy train made a
brief stop at the Government of National Unity station in 2009 to pick up
new passengers from MDC parties that would disturb the majority poor
“There is fraud involving ministers and deputy ministers, particularly with
respect to travelling expenses which they claim from parastatals even though
they get the same from treasury,” Moyo told the Independent. “They even
claim vehicles as well and I can tell you this is double-dipping which
contravenes the Public Finance Management Act.”
Moyo promised decisive action, saying his ministry would not spare any
efforts in dealing with the culprits as it would engage Mugabe and Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai over the matter.
“The cancer of corruption has already spread and we will stop at nothing to
vaccinate against it and destroy it. We will be engaging the offices of the
president, the prime minister, the parliamentary portfolio committee on
parastatals as well as the Anti-Corruption Commission to deal with the
offenders,” Moyo said.
Although the Anti-Corruption Commission has been set up and given necessary
powers to tackle venality, it is hamstrung by political interference and
reports of bribery to defeat its efforts.
Complaints of corruption in official circles to Mugabe have also been
largely ignored. The case of Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo
While Zanu PF is submerged in corruption, the MDC-T appears to be trying to
catch up as evidenced by events within most local authorities it is
Senior MDC-T officials have not been as vocal about the abuse of
Constituency Development Funds by MPs from the three parties to the unity
government as many would have expected, given that the anti-corruption fight
has been one of the party’s rallying calls.
MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said his party had remained committed to
fighting corruption to prevent looting of the public resources.
“We are tackling corruption even within our own ranks,” Mwonzora said. “The
MDC-T believes fighting corruption is a progressive thing to do.”
Mwonzora dared anyone with evidence of corruption against party officials to
come forward as they were committed to rooting out the scourge even if it
meant firing top officials, as demonstrated by the firing of councillors,
including Harare deputy mayor Emmanuel Chiroto.
Kambuzuma MP Willias Madzimure recently demanded that legislators be
involved in negotiations with potential investors to prevent corruption by
ministers who cheaply give away Zimbabwe’s precious natural resources for
Moyo’s remarks on government corruption follow hot on the heels of an
Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa report titled Corruption Cases:
Lest We Forget: Bad Leadership Examples for Accountability, Transparency and
Integrity in Zimbabwe, which said senior Zanu PF officials have fleeced
Zimbabwe of billions of dollars.
It referred to past prominent corruption cases including the looting of the
War Victims Compensation Fund, the VIP Housing Scam, the Zisco plunder,
Zupco and Willowgate scandals, and the agricultural inputs scams and Noczim
scandals, among others.
The trust’s regional coordinator Alouis Munyaradzi Chaumba says all
corruption cases should be revisited and culprits prosecuted. “I do not
understand why the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Attorney General’s
office have been consistently refusing to investigate and prosecute senior
government officials, their families, friends and associates implicated in
corruption,” Chaumba said. “All the implicated individuals should not
participate or contest in any election until they are cleared.”
Political commentator Blessing Vava said politicians’ propensity for
self-enrichment at the expense of the impoverished population was “criminal”
“What is more regrettable is the shocking nature of corruption, especially
now exhibited by the MDC-T over and above what Zanu PF has been doing, which
has reached unprecedented levels,” said Vava.
“At first we thought the MDC-T was advocating for real change but instead
they have just joined the Zanu PF gravy train and adopted associated corrupt
September 28, 2012 in News
ZIMBABWE’S education system was once among the best in Africa — with the
country at one time having the highest literacy rate on the continent before
dropping to number two after Tunisia — but now standards are declining due
to a combination of factors.
Report by Elias Mambo
Some of the reasons why Zimbabwe’s education system is deteriorating include
economic and funding problems, dumbing down of learning and examination
standards, mushrooming of poor private schools and colleges, growing number
of low-class universities, lack of commitment by teachers and students and
corruption in terms of entrance requirements, studies and examinations.
The country’s education system consists of seven years of primary school,
four years of secondary and two years of high school before students can
enter colleges and universities. Before starting school, children go to
kindergarten and pre-school.
When the country gained independence in 1980, the new government introduced
a policy of free education in a bid to educate the majority of the
population sidelined through colonial discrimination and inequalities.
Education was declared a basic human right in Zimbabwe and a non-racial
system was pursued, allowing black students to enter formerly whites-only
schools. After inheriting a good education system base and infrastructure at
all levels, the new government expanded the facilities to offer mainly poor
students an opportunity to get at least basic education.
Many children from poor backgrounds got a chance to learn and rescue
themselves from poverty.
However, since the late 1980s, government steadily introduced or increased
school fees and other demands making it increasingly difficult for poor
children to get education.
Apart from school fees, students started paying charges like development
The situation got worse at the beginning of 1991 when government adopted
austerity measures under the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme, which
encouraged reducing the budget deficit and ensuring a leaner government.
Subsidies on many things, including education, were removed.
When the economic meltdown set in after 2000, the situation got worse.
Schools and colleges started losing teachers and lecturers while students
dropped out en masse.
Besides the economic crisis and funding problems, there were problems of
localising examinations which led to corruption and cheating through the
opening and selling of exam papers, deterioration of learning and
examination standards and mushrooming of private schools, colleges and
universities offering poor quality education.
Although the political turmoil and economic collapse made headlines
worldwide over the past 12 years, the decline of the country’s once
well-regarded education system has largely been ignored. owered academic
standards, traceable to the mid-1990s, have unfortunately coincided with the
growth of a knowledge-based economy requiring workers with higher levels of
qualifications. This poses a challenge for Zimbabwe.
Since government scrapped the Zimbabwe Junior Certificate exams and
localised ‘O’ and ‘A’ Level examinations in the mid-1990s, education
standards have been plummeting.
Education departments have been lowering basic entry requirements to enrol
more students, while there is a perception that exams have become easier,
resulting in lower quality graduates.
Decaying infrastructure and onslaught on schools and tertiary institutions’
autonomy through undue political interference have had a telling effect on
the quality of the country’s education, which needs a major policy shift and
robust funding in order to get back on the rails.
At the height of the country’s socio-economic crisis, Zimbabwe lost the
entire 2007 and part of the 2008 academic years as teachers and lecturers
concentrated on meeting basic survival needs through alternative means.
Unicef asserts 94% of rural schools, serving the majority of the population,
were closed by 2009, with attendance plunging from over 80% to 20%.
Years of serious underfunding have forced the country’s tertiary
institutions to operate under the principles of economic rationalism, rather
than principles of education. In colleges and universities, students quality
is secondary to ability to pay.
Naturally, Zimbabweans are deeply concerned about declining academic
standards at all levels of education and have questioned preferential
college and university admissions and relaxed standards of curriculum,
teaching, grading and marking.
Education minister David Coltart places the decline in quality of education
on government’s misplaced priorities.
“Zimbabwe’s investment in education has drastically declined in the past two
decades due to misplaced priorities and the sector still remains in a state
of crisis,” Coltart said. “The inclusive government is spending three times
more money on globetrotting compared to education and this has compromised
the quality of education.”
Private colleges have mushroomed across the country’s urban areas as
proprietors seek to make a quick buck, raising fears that the colleges, once
frequented by those who had initially failed their public exams, were
compromising education standards. But Coltart dismissed the fears, saying
the advent of private institutions had not compromised the quality of
education because students still write the same examinations.
“It is the funding that is needed to maintain our standards,” he said.
However, Coltart’s view was contradicted by remarks carried in a state-run
daily this week in which Zimbabwe Schools Examinations Council (Zimsec)
public relations manager Ezekiel Pasipamire said they had withheld ‘O’ Level
results for a private college in order to maintain quality.
“To maintain the credibility of our examination system, Zimsec has adopted a
zero tolerance to malpractices particularly by private centres,” said
Pasipamire. “Those are the ones that give us a headache every time there are
examinations by not adhering to the standard examination procedures.”
Pasipamire warned Zimsec would de-register such centres to maintain good
Zimbabwean academic Brian Raftopoulos, a senior research mentor at the
University of the Western Cape in South Africa, said the country’s education
system continues to decline in the wake of insufficient efforts from the
coalition government to resuscitate it.
“After 2000, in the context of the more general political crisis, a whole
series of highly-politicised problems emerged in the educational sphere,”
“These problems have centred around the disciplining of teachers for their
support for the MDC, the militarisation of youth centres, politicisation of
the university entrance system as well as the struggle over the curriculum —
in particular the teaching of history,” he said.
There is also a problem of political interference where army commanders,
ministers, politicians and other influential people now enter colleges and
universities through the back door, compromising standards.
Former University of Zimbabwe vice-chancellor Graham Hill was forced to
resign in 2002 following revelations he had facilitated the enrolment of
Zanu PF Manicaland governor Chris Mushowe for a post-graduate programme in
1995 when he did not qualify.
The localisation of setting and marking of exams caused serious leakages of
exam papers, mix-ups and errors in question papers and certificates.
The late Edmund Garwe resigned as Education minister in 1996 after his
daughter was found in possession of exam papers she had accessed after he
had taken them home.
However, University of Zimbabwe (UZ) vice-chancellor Levi Nyagura, widely
criticised for presiding over the UZ’s decline, is optimistic the education
system would return to its former glory. The UZ has now been enrolling
students who do not have ‘A’ Level English, but have 15 points with passes
in subjects like Shona, Ndebele, Divinity and Geography.
“Zimbabwe’s education is on the rise again and we want to safeguard society
by providing quality students who will be effective in industry,” said
“At this institution, we aim to bring back our former glory and for the
first time, we have enrolled female law students with 14 points and have As
in ‘O’ Level English, as well as 61 first-year female faculty of medicine
Higher and Tertiary Education minister Stan Mudenge said the quality of
education remained high despite years of deterioration.
“We are now number two in Africa according to UN literacy levels and we want
to maintain those high levels,” said Mudenge.
The survey shows Zimbabwe has a 92% literacy rate while Tunisia tops with
98%, although the reality is that the quality of the education system has
September 27, 2012 in News
Alpha Media Holdings (AMH) has dismissed the Zimbabwe All-Media Products
Survey (Zamps) results released on Tuesday and reiterated its stance that
audited circulation figures should be the basis upon which the media
industry should be evaluated.
Report by Staff Reporter
Trevor Ncube, AMH chairman, in a statement said the Zamps figures were not
“just disputable, but mythical” in their quest to portray the state of the
readership of media products in the country.
AMH publishes NewsDay, The Standard and the Zimbabwe Independent.
The media group last year announced its decision to pull out of Zamps
because of the study’s faulty sampling, poor methodology and unscientific
“We pulled out when it became obvious that there is a cartel in the
Zimbabwean market that is not interested in international best practice, but
in maintaining the fiction around readership claims,” Ncube said in a
statement released on Thursday.
He reiterated AMH’s call for the introduction of audited circulation as the
only transparent and consistent measure of newspaper circulation and
Ncube said: “AMH is not the only one challenging the veracity of the survey,
but readers have recently come out to analyse the fictitious figures that
are being carelessly dumped onto the market by Zamps.
“Readers can follow this link, Herald Online to see what readers of the
Herald feel about the results of the survey relative to what they know to be
the reality on the ground.”
Ncube said the same public that the research purported to have spoken to was
disputing the numbers.
“Results of poorly executed media surveys have over the years also failed to
influence advertisers’ regard of media products. Advertisers place their
adverts where they see value,” he said.
“For the survey to opine that vernacular newspaper Kwayedza has more readers
than the Standard is ludicrous. When was the last time you bought a copy of
Kwayedza? No advertiser can be fooled by this chicanery.”
He said advertisers in this country know the difference between circulation
and readership. Circulation is simply the number of papers actually sold on
an average day, both through subscriptions and newsstand sales.
A newspaper’s readership, on the other hand, is almost always a higher
number, since it’s the newspaper’s total circulation multiplied by the
average number of people who read each copy. The pass-on rate for newspapers
in this country has never been clearly defined by the surveys.
“Thus, results of the survey have not in any way tallied with major changes
in our circulation figures even in instances when there has been a 100%
increase in circulation, as is the case with The Standard.
“How does Zamps claim that little weeklies whose circulation is barely 5 000
have a higher readership than titles printing 30 000 copies?” he asked.
Zamps also claims that online readership has declined and yet scientific
data available from Google Analytics, a service offered by Google that
generates detailed statistics about the visits to a website, confirms the
massive growth of AMH’s online properties and most websites in the country.
“We want to restate our position that order should be restored in the media
and audited circulation figures should be the basis upon which the media
industry sells advertising space. To ensure transparency and accountability,
print runs, sales and returns must be subjected to an independent ABC
audit,” Ncube said.
AMH last year embarked on a process of audited circulation with numbers for
NewsDay freely circulated to the public. The audited figures proved beyond
any shadow of doubt that NewsDay was the biggest daily in Zimbabwe.
September 28, 2012 in Politics
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is stepping up efforts to manipulate the Supreme
Court ruling to proclaim by-election dates in three vacant constituencies by
seeking another extension to enable him to call for early general elections.
Report by Herbert Moyo
Mugabe was initially given up to the end of August and then October 1 to
proclaim by-election dates for three constituencies declared vacant after
the expulsion of Abednico Bhebhe, Njabuliso Mguni and Norman Mpofu from the
Welshman Ncube-led MDC.
In his latest application filed on Wednesday, Mugabe showed he was delaying
the by-elections to hold out for early harmonised elections.
“The applicant’s desire is to hold elections the last week of March 2013 and
a proclamation to this effect will be made at the appropriate time,” Mugabe’s
lawyers said in the application.
Mugabe and Zanu PF have been expressing their desire for early general
elections, apparently because of continuing fears about Mugabe’s suitability
as a candidate later next year due to his advanced age, increasing health
concerns and also to capitalise on recent public opinion survey findings.
Freedom House and Afro-Barometer surveys put Mugabe ahead of his main rival
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC-T should elections be held now.
The survey showed support for MDC-T had fallen from 38% in 2010 to 20% this
year while support for Zanu PF grew to 31% from 17% over the same period.
Mugabe’s poll plans have faced hurdles, particularly from Sadc which insists
reforms outlined in the Global Political Agreement must be fulfilled first
to ensure credible polls.
As the Zimbabwe Independent reported soon after the Supreme Court decision
in July, senior Zanu PF officials at the time expressed joy that the court
decision, though appearing a defeat for Mugabe, suited their designs of
circumventing Sadc’s opposition to elections without reforms.
Zanu PF’s thinking was reflected in the state media in Nathaniel Manheru’s
opinion piece titled Zanu PF: When defeat gets so sweet.
“More dramatically and boldly, the president may use this judgment to
dissolve parliament and get the country to move post-haste to harmonised
elections,” he wrote.
September 28, 2012 in Politics
WITH President Robert Mugabe hinting in a High Court application concerning
by-elections that he wants elections held in March next year, Zanu PF is
rapidly swinging into full electioneering mode as its provincial
chairpersons recently in China returned to a series of marathon meetings,
while senior officials are trying to recruit worshippers and use empowerment
activities to garner support.
Report by Brian Chitemba
As part of its wider election strategy, Zanu PF heavyweights, including
Mugabe, his deputy Joice Mujuru and Information, Media and Publicity
minister Webster Shamu, have visited the Apostolic church sect targeting
over two million members to boost their party’s support base.
In a bid to build support from the apostolic sect Mugabe, clad in a white
robe, praised polygamous church members while attacking homosexuality in
Not to be outdone Shamu last year urged a Johanne Masowe we Chishanu
Apostolic Church congregation at Jurani-Firi Santa in Chitungwiza to rally
Destiny of Afrika Network founder and Zanu PF sympathiser Obadiah Msindo,
who enjoys publicity in the state media especially towards elections and
plays a shadowy role around the party, recently handed over 1 200
residential stands in Mutare in an attempt to entice voters ahead of
elections Mugabe desperately wants held as soon as possible while his health
and old age still permit.
Msindo, whose organisation and reputation have been tainted by controversy,
told the stand beneficiaries: “How many of you are ready to vote for Zanu
PF? Every one of you should bring at least five people to vote for Zanu PF
in the next elections and make sure that we win.”
The party is also using the controversial indigenous empowerment drive to
drum up support among the youth –– seen as a key constituency in the next
elections –– as the Zanu PF-aligned Zimbabwe Youth Council dishes out US$1
million to youths in each province.
Zanu PF is further using music and associated inducements to target the
Community share ownership schemes launched by Mugabe are also part of Mugabe’s
campaign to secure enough votes to cling to power.
It is also said Zanu PF has built a war chest using the Marange diamonds to
fight the next do or die elections. The party is already reportedly buying
cars and other important material for campaigning.
On top of state broadcasters which support Mugabe and his party, two new
Zanu PF-linked radio stations have been licenced ahead of elections.
Zimpapers, the state-controlled publishing group, also backs Zanu PF against
its public mandate.
The army, behind the brutal 2008 presidential run-off campaign that saw
Mugabe retain power following MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s pull-out
citing to violence, is playing a critical role in the Zanu PF poll strategy
with soldiers reportedly holding “orientation meetings” with chiefs and
Traditional leaders are given material benefits and are in turn expected to
mobilise their subjects and coerce them to rally behind Zanu PF.
The heavy presence of the army in rural areas, including Nyanga and Mutoko,
has already sent shivers down the spines of an electorate still traumatised
by the 2008 bloody presidential runoff. The MDC-T claims 200 of its
supporters were killed while hundreds were maimed and injured by Zanu PF
militia during the violence.
Senior army commanders have come out openly supporting Mugabe and Zanu PF.
Zimbabwe Defence Forces chief-of-staff, Major-General Martin Chedondo, has
openly declared his allegiance to Zanu PF and urged the military to throw
its weight behind the party despite the constitution stating that security
forces, particularly soldiers, must not dabble in partisan party politics.
Undeterred by the constitution, Chebundo recently declared: “As soldiers,
we will never be apologetic for supporting Zanu PF because it is the only
political party that has national interests at heart,” adding he was saying
so “because I was part of the liberation struggle”.
Major General Douglas Nyikayaramba and Major General Trust Mugoba –– who
together with Chedondo are part of the top chain of command –– have also
came out support Zanu PF.
Besides, Zanu PF is also reportedly employing dirty smear campaign tactics
against its political foes, with suspicions that state security agents took
advantage of Tsvangirai’s sex scandals to create drama around his recent
marriage and tarnish his reputation. MDC-T secretary-general Tendai and MDC
leader Welshman Ncube are also targeted through Pius Ncube-style sting
To show Zanu PF is desperate to win the next elections, the party recently
dispatched its chairpersons for a two-week visit to China where they were
trained on strategies to mobilise support for the party which a recent
survey said is gradually regaining lost ground.
The chairpersons’ trip to China followed a visit by a Chinese Communist
Party (CCP) delegation in June which met politburo, central committee and
district coordinating committee members and advised the party to address
relevant issues facing the electorate to win votes.
Zanu PF Matabeleland North acting chairperson and Governor Sithokozile
Mathuthu who led the delegation to China on Wednesday declined to discuss
the issue, insisting it was a Zanu PF internal matter.
But Matabeleland South chairman Andrew Langa said the chairpersons “learnt a
lot from the Chinese and also took time to exchange political ideas”,
without elaborating. “It was an exciting and educative trip; that’s all I
can say,” he said.
Other chairpersons were mum on the trip, citing a gag on the details.
Fears abound that the Zanu PF chairpersons could import repressive methods
used by the CCP under its one-party state system to mobilise and coerce
September 28, 2012 in Opinion
THE Sunday Mail afforded its readers a peek into the psyche of
excommunicated Anglican Bishop Nolbert Kunonga and it was not a pretty
The interview with Munyardzi Huni revealed Kunonga’s disturbing delusion of
grandeur which culminated in his declaration that “I am not controversial. I
am the controversy”.
Asked about his feud with Bishop Chad Gandiya, Kunonga described him as a
“little man I have never considered to be significant”.
“It’s an insult that people say I am fighting Gandiya. Even (Bishop
Sebastian) Bakare, he is no equal to me. I am fighting Archbishop Rowan
Williams. That’s where these people are making a mistake. I am not fighting
any black man. I am fighting Britain and America,” bellowed Kunonga adding
that “I am not petty. This is where they misunderstand me”.
“One of the reasons why I succeed is that I don’t operate outside the law,”
smirked Kunonga despite subverting the law by evicting headmasters, teachers
and priests for allegedly aligning themselves with Gandiya’s diocese.
On his failure to maintain properties they took over, Kunonga retorted:
“Like which property? No. Those are all lies.”
The shocking deterioration of standards at schools taken over by Kunonga
such as St Augustine’s Mission, St David’s Bonda, St Faith’s and St Anne’s
Goto High Schools was conveniently ignored.
Kunonga’s right hand man, Elson Jakazi, recently conceded the schools’
infrastructure was in a deplorable state. Jakazi has been accused of
interfering with the running of the schools and demanding large levies.
However, he still had the temerity to accuse parents concerned about the
schools’ deteriorating standards of trying to “politicise” the issue
whatever that means.
Speaking of embedded church leaders, it seems Bishop Johannes Ndanga, who
doubles as the executive president as well as chairperson of the Apostolic
Christian Church Council of Zimbabwe, has a lot of time on his hands judging
by the fact that he is always at ZBC’s beck and call, commenting on any
issue under the sun from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s love life to the
In March Ndanga demanded that Zanu PF provides vehicles and allowances to
church leaders spearheading its elections campaign.
He claimed that “real bishops” had more Zanu PF followers as compared to
traditional leaders, hence the need to award them cars and cash allowances.
“Bring me Chief (Fortune) Charumbira here. We want to see who commands more
supporters than the other. Real bishops from indigenous churches can draw
more Zanu PF supporters than chiefs. It is against this premise that we
(bishops) should be given vehicles just like the chiefs.”
However, Musavengana Tawa, leader of the Zion Church in Masvingo distanced
his church from Ndanga’s demands stating that he is chasing away members
from the congregation by supporting the discredited Zanu PF and giving the
impression that the rest of the congregation supports the same party.
“In the church we do not want bishops to be too political because the
congregation is comprised of members of various political parties. Some
political issues might bring about violence within the house of God,” Tawa
We are always amused by how some of the most undemocratic nations are at the
forefront of calling for reform and democratisation of the United Nations.
The Herald’s Caesar Zvayi who attended the United Nations (UN) General
Assembly in New York claimed there was a groundswell from world leaders for
reform of the body.
Among the most vocal advocates was Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who
according to Zvayi “raised the bar” in his address to a high-level plenary
on the rule of law on Monday as he called on world leaders to reform the
structure of the UN to provide for “a democratic and fair framework” for
other emerging nations.
“Effective steps must be taken toward reforming the structure of the UN in
order to establish a democratic and fair framework in this organisation,”
This clamour for democracy seems confined to international fora and not
their home nations given countries like Iran’s appalling human rights
Meanwhile Zvayi claimed President Mugabe’s address, slated for Wednesday,
was “highly anticipated”.
A bit over the top don’t you think Cde Zvayi? Peharps Zvayi forgot to add it
was highly anticipated by himself!
The writer of the Herald’s Nathaniel Manheru column was conspicuously absent
The dreary duo of Bowden Mbanje and Darlington Mahuku stood in for Manheru
who was probably in New York with the president at the United Nations. The
column was finally published on Monday accompanied by an apology attributing
it to a “technical” problem.
We are keen to hear what Manheru says about this when he comes back.
Zanu PF politburo member for Environment and Natural Resources Management,
Francis Nhema, has urged Zimbabweans to vote for leaders who have the people’s
interests at heart and are willing to see the development of the nation.
He said Zanu PF is a “revolutionary” party with the people at heart, adding
that the electorate should vote wisely in the forthcoming elections and
avoid a situation where people with selfish interests find their way into
office. The irony was clearly lost on him.
The very same Nhema recently directed that owners of the Save Valley
Conservancy take on board 25 individuals who are mostly senior Zanu PF
officials, despite already being beneficiaries of the land reform programme.
Chiefs in Chiredzi then issued a statement accusing the party leadership of
engaging in a land-grabbing spree and of being greedy.
“The same people now being allocated our conservancies are multiple
beneficiaries of sugarcane plots, as well as ranches and farms,” the chiefs
“The option that the governor (Titus Maluleke) and his clique have adopted,
under which they partner sitting tenants, has caused a lot of destruction to
wildlife. For example, Mrs Shuvai Mahofa and company are harvesting game
meat for sale without hunting permits.”
Nhema should be careful what he wishes for. Otherwise his appeal for voters
to avoid leaders with “selfish interests” might end up boomeranging on him
and his party.
The loud and hyperactive Destiny for Afrika Network (Danet) leader
“Reverend” Obadiah Msindo has finally emerged from his rare hiatus after
being embroiled in an agricultural inputs scam early this year.
Msindo was forced to reimburse communal and commercial farmers from whom he
had collected money promising to supply them with maize seed and fertiliser.
Danet collected amounts ranging between US$40 and US$1 600 from individual
farmers but did not deliver the inputs. The matter was reported to the
police and eight Danet employees, including a manager identified as Tiki,
were picked up and released after undertaking to reimburse the farmers,
With elections looming, it was only a matter of time before the
not-so-reverend Msindo surfaced again with yet another vote-buying scheme.
SW Radio Africa reports that Msindo is at it again, this time dishing out
free housing stands to home seekers in Mutare on condition they vote for
President Robert Mugabe and his party’s candidates in the next election,
while persuading others to do the same.
Comparing Mugabe to the Biblical David, Msindo distributed 1 200 residential
stands, urging the hapless residents to vote for Zanu PF.
“How many of you are ready to vote for Zanu PF? Every one of you should
bring at least five people to vote for Zanu PF in the next elections and
make sure that we win,” said Msindo.
What happened to the R1 billion loan from a South African financial
institution Danet claimed to be procuring to fund its “housing” projects?
By the way what does Msindo really do?
Police Inspector Tadius Chibanda has replaced Chief Inspector James Sabau,
whose tenure was characterised by a “hands-off” approach as Harare
provincial spokesperson. His usual refrain was to express ignorance over any
issue he was asked saying he would “investigate” the matter.
When a Zanu PF official was assaulted by touts after confronting them on
behalf of kombi operators, Sabau professed ignorance on the incident. He
could only say those beaten up should report to the nearest police station.
“People who are assaulted have to report to the nearest police station or
police officer. I would be able to comment if the soldiers had lodged their
complaints with the police,” said Sabau.
“They (kombi operators) should find a way of dealing with their rank
Another quotable quote from Sabau came when he was asked to comment on the
alleged harassment of women by police on the grounds of loitering,
soliciting and prostitution. Sabau said they don’t just arrest everyone,
saying they arrest women with the “regalia” meant to lure clients.
“I would love these women to come on wearing the regalia that they will be
wearing when they are on the streets. It’s unfortunate when you see them, it’s
very different from how they look during the night.”
Let’s hope Inspector Chibanda will be more helpful than this.
A figure, US$40 million, was being bandied about this week albeit for
different reasons. In the first instance, Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani
Khupe and Harare mayor Muchadeyi Masunda clashed over the deputy premier’s
push to scrap maternity fees at council clinics.
Khupe said she had sourced US$40 million to subsidise maternity costs under
the Health Transition Fund while Masunda described the move as
The second instance this amount was mentioned was by Zimbabwe Defence Forces
commander General Constantine Chiwenga’s estranged wife Jocelyn who is
demanding US$40 million from Chiwenga’s new spouse as damages for “offending
her feelings” and cohabiting with her husband after the army general left
the matrimonial home.
Clearly we are living in different worlds in this country where some people
can demand US$40 million for having their feelings offended while others are
unable to pay for the most basic of needs.
Finally we can always count on “flamboyant” businessman Philip Chiyangwa for
a good chuckle. Chiyangwa is currently engaged in a scuffle with Masunda
over a private clinic he is building.
The NewsDay reporter who sought Chiyangwa’s comment over the issue got more
than she bargained for: “This is my money my sister, it’s a problem when you
don’t have money, they should make their own money.”
Despite being taken to court for failing to pay his workers, Chiyangwa
further declared: “I am filthy rich my sister, if I put you in a room with
my money you will be buried in it. You make us lose money with these false
stories that you write.”
It would be interesting to know if the “filthy rich” Fidza honoured his
pledge in April to donate US$1,6 million to the University of Zimbabwe or
paid his debts.
September 28, 2012 in Comment, Opinion
THE media silly season is upon us following the release of the latest
Zimbabwe All Media Products Survey (Zamps) results which always provoke a
storm of controversy as self-interested organisations engage in popularity
contests, while singing self-praises in a bid to consolidate their market
Report by Dumisani Muleya
For the record, we have always been sceptical about Zamps even when its
findings are favouarable to us. So this is certainly not a new concern but a
Daily newspapers, in particular, like engaging in self-serving
interpretations, with dubious extrapolations and inferences, about Zamps
which seek to measure what people buy, watch, listen to and read.
The state-controlled daily Herald, in the market since 1891 although badly
struggling with fledgling competition, sought to make the most of Zamps, via
a front page story, editorial and cartoon, in a silly way which betrayed its
deep-seated insecurity, yet insulting the intelligence and wisdom of its
While the Herald has a right to claim to be the most read newspaper in the
market (if we are to believe Zamps), what it concealed from its readers is
that the same survey shows its readership since the last review has plunged
by a huge 10%, showing it’s on a slippery slope.
It fell from 41% to 34% during the last survey and now from 34% to 31% –– a
massive cumulative plunge. But all that was hidden in a dishonest pursuit
for bigger readership and super-profits.
For years now, we have been arguing among colleagues about the accuracy, let
alone the relevance, of Zamps statistics. You only need to have a rough idea
of the print runs and circulation figures of different media groups in this
market to appreciate the reality gap between Zamps and what’s happening on
Of course, readership and circulation are different but surely there is a
correlation, which Zamps always ignores. That is why the Zimbabwe
Advertising Research Foundation (ZARF), which commissions Zamps, must do an
audited circulation of all the newspapers so that Zamps findings can be
tested and verified, to prevent them being used as hostage to fortune by
mostly dailies hooked to puerile posturing.
What is probably off-putting about this self-glorification is not just the
childish boasting part of it which doesn’t make any real difference in terms
of credibility (the media’s core asset), advertising and viability, but that
it’s vainly done in the name of readers who may disagree given an
ZARF and Herald editors might be interested in reading online comments by
readers of Wednesday’s scandalous front page story headlined Herald the
“most complete, balanced newspaper”. The comments are interesting and
revealing. That’s why it’s healthy to be sceptical about Zamps.
The Herald’s delusions of grandeur, legitimised by Zamps, form the footrest
of its self-praise fuelled byself-doubt. If indeed the paper is “most
complete and balanced” why does it have to be surprised and crow about it?
If it is common cause, why is it newsworthy? The reason why this is hyped is
because everybody knows it’s not true.
This ridiculous claim can only be true if the inherent assumption is that
the paper is dealing with stupid readers. For the definition of stupidity
sometimes is that of someone who reads, sees and experiences the truth but
even then still believes lies.
It might be helpful for Herald editors, whom we know are knowledgeable and
competent guys despite state shackles around them, to remember bragging is
not a sign of confidence. It always proves counterproductive when it is
communicated to a well-informed, rational and enlightened population like
ours. Self-praise occasionally succeeds with ignorant and gullible
audiences; rarely with those who are knowledgeable.
The point is simple. ZARF and Zamps have lost credibility. Even if there are
serious shifts and changes in the market in terms of print runs and
circulation, their results are always more or less the same. It’s a
The underlying assumption by Zamps is that there is no correlation between
circulation and readership. Surely, this sort of deception and ineptitude is
There could be a reason why this is happening. Conspiracy theories aside, a
former ZARF/Zamps employee once told us the problem is not so much about the
methodology but manipulation of the research and fabrication of data. He
also said quantitative interviews allegedly conducted are mostly imagined
stuff and cooked up. We don’t know, but anything is possible in this sort of
What we do know, however, is that we need audited circulation figures. To
ensure transparency and accountability, print runs, sales and returns must
be subjected to an independent audit. This is international best practice,
not this brazen Zamps fraud.
September 28, 2012 in Comment, Opinion
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe this week took the opportunity presented to him at
the United Nations General Assembly to rail at the West for what he termed
its hypocrisy and unilateralism.Independent Comment
Mugabe is apparently now stuck in a time warp where he has remained
inconsolable after seeing the demise of Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi and
Osama bin Laden. He has not forgiven the West, especially the United States
for its role in the death of particularly Gaddafi, his former ally, with
whom he has not shied from being identified.
In New York Mugabe –– albeit with a dint of sarcasm –– condemned the killing
of US Ambassador to Libya Chris Stevens, saying it was a “tragic death and
we condemn it” but he quickly turned on the US whom he accused of the
“barbaric and brutal death” of Gaddafi.
“As we join the United States in condemning that death, shall the United
States also join us in condemning the barbaric death of Gaddafi? It was a
loss, great loss to Africa.”
He added: “The death of Gaddafi must be seen in the same tragic manner as
the death of Chris Stevens.”
Mugabe loves to use the UN platform to rant at the West. We recall his 2009
speech at the General Assembly when he attacked US President George W Bush
saying; “His hands drip with innocent blood of many nationalities…He kills
in Iraq. He kills in Afghanistan. And this is supposed to be our master on
Mugabe on many forums, including at the UN this week, has purported to speak
on behalf of the African continent. He still believes that he is perched at
the apex of international diplomacy as a champion for the cause of Third
World countries in their quest for emancipation from the West. But those
days are long gone. Mugabe is a forlorn caricature of his great past when
auditoriums rang in adulation during his addresses. Age and longevity in
office do not entitle him to retain that father figure status on the
continent. He forfeited that right to strut his stuff on the grand stage
after spectacular failures at home.
He can accuse the West of hypocrisy, murder and human rights abuses but that
coming from a political gladiator like him –– far from being a saint –– is
mere deceptive rhetoric that has only helped to expose his own duplicity.
Mugabe has joined the refrain on the continent to call for the reform of the
United Nations and the need for the democratisation of the international
body. We have not heard calls couched in equal zest from him for reform back
In fact, Mugabe’s leadership has been one dominated by political anachronism
and resistance to reform and change despite clear leadership and policy
failures. Mugabe’s use of security laws to crash political opponents,
frustrate freedom of association, assembly and expression as well as other
political and civil liberties is well documented.
This is a leader who is in charge of a country where security arms of the
state still use torture to force confessions and to punish political
opponents. The torture of a defenceless woman like Jestina Mukoko by
intelligence officers, which was recently confirmed by the Supreme Court
recently, is emblematic.
Mugabe’s government has not ratified international instruments banning the
use of torture. What is his commitment to human rights? Zimbabwe’s
government has also gained notoriety for its disregard of international
charters. Civic groups in the country have taken the government to the
African Commission on Human and People’s Rights to ensure the regime abides
by the dictates of international instruments.
That is not all. There is a long list of reforms, agreed under the Global
Political Agreement, which have remained outstanding largely because Mugabe’s
Zanu PF does not want them. These include proposed changes to media laws,
electoral laws and security laws.
Mugabe has presided over a government that has meted out violence on its
people through internal para-military operations to fight, kill and maim
unarmed civilians, destroy and expropriate property, and to torture.
No amount of political rhetoric and posturing on the international arena can
launder Mugabe’s image at home as long as he does not show commitment to
domestic reform and change.
His to-do list is long and this does not reflect well on a leader who never
misses an opportunity to flaunt his credentials as a liberator. We can no
longer trust him with our country and well-being any longer given all his
failures and atrocities. His increasingly stale rhetoric is not fooling
anyone any more.
September 28, 2012 in Comment, Opinion
ZIMBABWE has truly become a nation of crises, and these seem to get worse by
the day. Most will recall how catastrophic the fuel crisis was, beginning in
the early 2000s.
Report by Itai Masuku
No doubt we’re still feeling the impact of the lost production time in our
economy. Linked to the fuel shortages was the foreign currency crisis, which
saw the development of black, grey and khaki markets for the same.
Then came the shortage of local currency, where the now defunct Zimdollar
itself became a rare commodity as inflation constantly outstripped the
currency’s value. Estimates of inflation range variously from a million to
billions percent per annum.
As we entered the multi-currency regime, we did not leave the crisis
syndrome behind. Zesa took over and to date we have a power crisis. However,
we now seem to be facing the mother of all crises.
Several media have been publishing stories about water shortages in various
parts of the country. One newspaper had a photo of Bulawayo residents lining
up for water at a borehole.
Reports from many of Harare’s high density suburbs paint a grim picture of
the situation regarding this vital liquid of life, with some being told they
can only flush their toilets at 7.30pm on particular days.
That’s a real crisis. Frankly speaking, there is no need to be experiencing
water shortages in Zimbabwe. We generally have sufficient effective
rainfall annually except in the intermittent drought years which a study by
the Zambezi River Authority way back in the 1950’s on the country’s
hydrological cycle can more or less accurately predict.
As correctly pointed out by the online Water Guide: “In many countries of
sub-Saharan Africa, water scarcity is caused by too little human
intervention. This occurs when natural supplies are sufficient to meet
demand but fail to reach users due to shortcomings in distribution or
That’s the cause of our water shortages. The water crisis here is man-aided.
It simply shows how much we do not plan. The population census conducted a
decade ago surely showed the trends in population growth and we should have
been prepared for that.
Those in charge of conducting censuses must know that the usefulness of the
exercise lies in being able to make projections of future population growth
and what needs to be done ahead of time. The census is not for enumerating
the population for purposes of political elections, i.e. for constituency
delimitation and gerrymandering.
May the true figures of the latest census be forwarded to the economic
ministries so they can plan for things like water?
The current situation where we are using aquifers and boreholes is not
sustainable in the long-term since they will eventually exhaust those
underground reserves, and please note, reserves.
Experts say if withdrawals exceed the natural rate of recharge, the level of
an aquifer or borehole will fall, eventually drying up altogether. We’re
told the minister currently responsible for water is attending a water
conference in China.
No sir, our solution lies in building more dams and increasing our
harvesting of rainwater. It lies in improving our distribution network, the
resources for which are in the country.
Reports say there are 48 000 large dams in place around the world, with many
more under construction. I don’t believe the last part refers to Zimbabwe.
We’ve been hearing rhetoric about the Kunzvi Dam, Tokwe-Mukosi and the
Zambezi Water Project ad nauseum.
Without electricity and particularly without water, all this humdrum about
economic growth and prosperity are more farcical than Charlie Chaplin. Time
to get real.
September 28, 2012 in Opinion
THE Supreme Court of Appeal in South Africa last week ruled against Zimbabwe’s
appeal against North Gauteng’s High Court registration and enforcement of a
ruling by the Sadc Tribunal that Zimbabwe’s land reform laws and policies
were racist in nature, and that displaced farmers were entitled to full and
proper compensation for their expropriated farms.
Eric Bloch Column
The ruling confirmed the validity of attachment of property owned by the
Zimbabwean government in Cape Town, to be disposed of by public auction with
proceeds going to the three former Zimbabwean farmers deprived of their
farms and initiated the legal actions with the Sadc Tribunal, and
subsequently to the North Gauteng High Court.
In 2000, Zimbabwe embarked on land reform, pursuant to enabling legislation
promulgated almost a decade previously. In terms of the legislation, all
rural lands became state property in total disregard of prior ownership
rights and title deeds.
The state began eviction of non-Zimbabwean indigenous occupants of the farms
without any consideration of the consequential near-collapse of agricultural
production, converting Zimbabwe from being the regional bread-basket to
becoming heavily dependent on non-affordable imports.
Similarly, government failed to consider the resultant loss of employment
for over 300 000 farm workers, reducing them and their dependants to immense
poverty and deprivation. Almost two million Zimbabweans were reduced to
extreme hardships and endless struggles to survive, over and above those in
other economic sectors similarly jeopardised by downstream economic
prejudices triggered by the substantial collapse of agriculture.
With the state-enforced dispossession of thousands of productive,
non-indigenous farmers, many war veterans, politicians and those with strong
political links took advantage of the circumstances for self-enrichment.
They forced non-indigenous farmers off properties which they had for decades
operated productively, and reduced those properties to desolate barren
lands. In all too many instances the land invaders resorted to violence to
achieve their objectives, and having gained occupancy of the farms sought
temporary enrichment by selling equipment thereon, such as irrigation pumps
and pipelines. They thus deprived the farms of essentials necessary for
viable agricultural production.
Attempts by the displaced farmers to seek justice in Zimbabwe proved totally
fruitless, and eventually some sought recourse in to international courts.
Such actions included placing the issue before the Sadc Tribunal, with 77
affected farmers seeking justice through the court.
The court ruled in November 2008 that Zimbabwe’s land reform was racist, and
the affected farmers were entitled to full compensation. Government ignored
the court’s findings, resulting in the Tribunal issuing a contempt ruling
and awarding costs against it, but again the Tribunal’s ruling was ignored.
This resulted in three of the distressed farmers applying to the North
Gauteng High Court in South Africa for an execution order, which was
granted, enabling the attachment of property of the Zimbabwean government in
South Africa. This led to Zimbabwe’s appeal to South Africa’s Supreme Court
of Appeal, but the court of five judges unreservedly ruling against the
The economic impact of the judgment will be pronounced. In the event that
government belatedly acknowledges the criminality of its actions, it will
now have to address payment of just and due compensation to all that were
deprived of that for which they had worked for most of their lives.
Inevitably, the payment of compensation would have to be phased over a
period of time, for by its own recurrent admission the Zimbabwean fiscus is
Justice (frequently anathema to government), also dictates that the
compensation should include market-rate interest, calculated from dates of
farm expropriations to dates of payment of the compensation.
However, in order to fund the compensation and interest payments, government
will either have to curtail other expenditures (many of which are in any
event unnecessary), or increase taxes (many of which are already excessive).
Such increases would be beneficial as they will enable the state to
progressively settle its debt, but would be prejudicial to the beleaguered
Another option for government, which it would be reluctant to pursue, is to
dispose of various state assets including many of the parastatals, surplus
state-owned residences, and innumerable motor vehicles. Yet a further
option that government could pursue is to reduce the number of ministers,
the public service, and the international travel expenses it incurs.
Government must also anticipate that, unless it now acknowledges liability
to the thousands of displaced farmers, it will undoubtedly be confronted by
further litigation by displaced farmers, with concomitant attachment of
other external assets and those in Zimbabwe.
Such legal actions would not be confined exclusively to the South African
courts but in diverse international courts, which would indisputably have
regard to the determinations of the Sadc Tribunal and the South African
Supreme Court of Appeal.
September 28, 2012 in Opinion
LAST week cabinet added yet another measure to its growing list of
high-sounding policies gathering dust in its offices by approving a new
agriculture plan aimed at providing much-needed cheap lines of credit for
farmers and ensuring suppliers distribute inputs countrywide well ahead of
the farming season.
Report by Brian Chitemba
Farmers are currently being charged steep interest rates ranging from 11 to
28% per annum, which the policy seeks to tackle through the provision of
cheap credit. Zimbabwe’s new black farmers, who took over formerly
white-owned land courtesy of the controversial and often-violent land reform
programme beginning in 2000, perennially complain about unsustainable
production costs caused mainly by high costs of fertilisers, chemicals,
labour, water and fuel.
Finance minister Tendai Biti said under the new policy farmers would buy
inputs directly from suppliers instead of waiting for government to buy on
their behalf as this disturbed their plans due to late delivery of supplies.
He said he is negotiating with donors to ensure vulnerable farming
communities get necessary assistance to ensure improved production and food
Biti’s assurances came against the backdrop of widespread complaints from
farmers’ unions over delays in payment for produce delivered to the
state-run Grain Marketing Board.
But farmers — in the past promised assistance only for government to fail to
deliver leaving them hopelessly stranded — will at best welcome the policy
with guarded optimism. Government has a long record of policy formulation
only matched by its inaction when it comes to implementation.
The three-year old coalition government has not fared any better, drafting
and launching several ambitious policy frameworks which have been hardly
The Industrial Development Policy, Short-Term Emergency Recovery Programme
and the Medium-Term Economic Development Plan are among the major policies
drafted and adopted by the unity government, over and above numerous other
policy blueprints crafted by the previous Zanu PF regime.
This has created the belief that some of the policies are only produced to
give the false impression government is doing something to address
multifaceted socio-economic problems facing the nation.
Critics thus say it is highly unlikely government would deliver on its
agricultural promise and it would be folly for farmers to base their
preparations on government promises. This is despite the fact that
agriculture contributes between 15-18% to the Gross Domestic Product as well
as 40% of national export earnings and 60% of raw materials to the
More than 70% of the country’s population relies on agriculture for
survival, but lack of a comprehensive enabling policy has adversely affected
general productivity, resulting in the country importing grains it used to
be self-sufficient in prior to the disastrous land reform programme.
Zimbabwe Farmers’ Union spokesman Tinashe Kairiza said while the new policy
framework was progressive, farmers were anxiously waiting for government to
implement the measures to boost productivity.
“Government is facing a serious liquidity crisis, so provision of cheap
lines of credit and subsidised inputs is highly unlikely although it would
boost agricultural output,” he said.
Economist John Robertson said farmers’ demands would not be addressed by the
new policy because government was well known for failing to deliver on its
promises. He also said government had repeatedly promised to pay farmers on
time but has consistently failed to do so.
Robertson further pointed out government was cash-strapped and it would be
almost impossible for it to fund farming from its resources, unless it
relied on borrowed money despite its onerous debt. Zimbabwe’s total debt is
about US$10,7 billion.
However, Zimbabwe appears set to secure US$100 million in budgetary support
from neighbouring South Africa, part of which would be used to finance
agriculture and boost productivity. South Africa has previously helped
Zimbabwe with funds for inputs.
“The new government scheme to assist farmers is difficult to implement
because government owes a lot of money to seed producers and fertiliser
manufacturers,” said Robertson. “Government has promised farmers money
before but they failed to access the funds. The fact is government simply
doesn’t have the money. Even if it borrows from South Africa, the money has
to be paid back and that will depend on how local farmers service the
Robertson said only a handful of farmers with collateral were likely to
secure lines of credit. Most new farmers do not have title deeds for
collateral against bank loans.
Since most of the new farmers got farms through political connections and by
virtue of being war veterans, they did not have title deeds and hence could
not borrow money from banks, he said.
However, economic analyst Eric Bloch said although government’s coffers are
empty, it could divert funds from other sectors to boost agriculture since
the majority of Zimbabweans rely on farming. He said the new agriculture
policy was likely to be implemented fast given forthcoming elections next
“Politicians are aware agriculture is an important sector of the economy
hence they will seek mileage by approving and implementing relevant
policies,” said Bloch.
While farming preparations have often been scuttled by an acute shortage of
farming inputs resulting in poor harvests, Biti said the new policy would
resuscitate the virtually dead agricultural sector — the economic mainstay —
and restore Zimbabwe’s breadbasket status in the region.
Biti said the new policy is meant to help farmers end the unproductive
dependence syndrome, while security of tenure on land would assist them to
AgriExpert economist and consultant Peter Gambara wrote in the Zimbabwe
Independent recently that government should invest in input schemes targeted
at the small-scale farmers and provide more resources to extension agents.
Agriculture financing has always favoured large-scale commercial farmers who
can use title deeds to access funding from banks, while communal farmers
with user rights struggle to get funding.
Erratic power supplies and high tariffs have also contributed to poor
production, with farmers calling for subsidised electricity supplies.
Farmers say government should revert to the preferential rate of 55% of the
electricity tariffs in place before 2009.
While farmers and stakeholders are justifiably sceptical government’s new
policy will be fully implemented, politicians are likely to pull out all
stops to deliver, given the looming crucial elections.
September 28, 2012 in Opinion
IN this ninth instalment of his article on succession and the Zanu PF
constitution, Derek Matyszak looks at how the Mujuru faction outfoxed the
Mnangagwa camp in the battle to secure the post of vice-president.
The promotion of Joseph Msika to the vice-presidency left the position of
national chairperson open, and Emmerson Mnangagwa threw his hat into the
ring for this position. Had he succeeded in this quest, he would have been
in pole position to succeed late Vice-President Simon Muzenda, also a
Karanga, and within reach of the presidency after Mugabe’s departure.
It was apparently astute political manoeuvering by the late former army
commander General Solomon Mujuru, however, that secured the nomination of
John Nkomo, a Ndebele, from eight of the 10 provinces. As a Ndebele, Nkomo
was an unlikely rival to Mujuru’s choice for the presidency when the
opportunity arose — as it did with the death of Muzenda in September 2003.
The Tsholotsho saga
With the vacancy now occurring in the Zanu PF wing of the vice-presidency,
the appointment of the replacement was never going to be smooth. The
fractious nature of the process is indicated by the fact that the vacancy
was not officially filled until 15 months had passed, at the Zanu PF
congress of December 2004. A bruising battle took place between the Mujuru
and Mnangagwa camps in the intervening period, from which Mujuru emerged
Before then, the grouping around Mnangagwa appeared to have been on the
ascendency in the provinces for several years prior to Muzenda’s death, and
seemed likely to muster the support for nomination from the required six
provinces for the vice-presidency. To further Mnangagwa’s chances, his
supporters sought to advance the principles expounded in what became known
as the “Tsholotsho Declaration”.
Jonathan Moyo, a prominent fickle politician, was a key player in the drama
which unfolded. He has written in detail about the events. In his account,
Moyo maintains that the Tsholotsho Declaration is made up of four
that all the country’s four major ethnic groups, Karanga, Manyika, Zezuru
and Ndebele be represented in the presidium;
that the position of president should not be monopolised by one ethnic group
but rotate among the four major ethnic groupings;
that the filling of positions in the presidium should not be by imposition
by the party hierarchy, but through democratic elections done by secret
such positions must be filled in accordance with the party constitution.
Since the Mujuru aspirant to the position, Joice, is Zezuru, already
represented in the presidium by President Robert Mugabe, support for the
declaration was seen as support for Mnangagwa as vice-president. Those
supporting these principles envisaged a presidium with Mugabe, a Zezuru, as
president, Mnangagwa, a Karanga, as one vice-president with a Ndebele
co-vice president, and “young Turk” legal advisor to Zanu PF Patrick
Chinamasa (Manyika) as national chairperson.
The declaration threw down the gauntlet to those who believed the top three
positions in the presidency were inviolable until a vacancy occurred and
that two of the top four positions should be occupied by former PF Zapu
members. Among them was Mugabe who did not intend to be hampered by the
inconvenience that there was nothing in the Zanu PF constitution which
supported his views.
After a series of meetings in August 2003, headed by provincial chairpersons
and provincial governors and presided over by the national political
commissar, it was clear Mnangagwa had the support for the vice-presidency
from all except three provinces — Mashonaland Central, Harare and
The Mujuru alignment, which included elements from the three disaffected
provinces, came together shortly after these meetings began. A strategy was
devised whereby a sudden sensitivity to gender issues was to be used to
undermine the Mnangagwa group. The Mujuru camp thus latched upon a
resolution, first put forward by the women’s league at its August 1999
meeting in Victoria Falls, that one of the four members of the presidium
must be a woman. The women’s league was prevailed upon to repeat its demand
at its plenary meeting of September 2 2004.
Accompanied by his wife, Grace, Mugabe attended the meeting and announced he
supported this demand. The Mnangagwa faction was unimpressed. The date for
nominations to the posts in the presidium from the provinces was November 21
2004. Under cover of an invitation as guest of honour at Dinyane High School
for a prize-giving ceremony, Mnangagwa prepared to go to Tsholotsho on
November 18, where, not coincidentally, chairpersons of the provinces would
be present to hear his speech.
Austin Zvoma, who would play a key role should the combined houses of
parliament sit as an electoral college to determine Mugabe’s successors,
facilitated the crafting of the speech for Mnangagwa by George Charamba. The
Tsholotsho meeting could not be seen as anything other than a direct
challenge to Mugabe’s authority.
It was clear Mugabe’s intention was that the vacancy left by Muzenda’s death
be filled by Joice Mujuru. The Tsholotsho gathering appeared intended to
counter this by advancing the Tsholotsho principles.
Mugabe called an emergency politburo meeting for the same day (November 18).
The result of the meeting was that the politburo declared it had “amended”
the party constitution to include the demand of the women’s league that one
of the vice-presidents be a woman.
Less widely publicised, but of even more significance, was the amendment
providing that provincial electoral colleges would no longer be the
44-member provincial executive councils, but the much larger provincial
co-ordinating committees. The election would thus be conducted under the
watchful eye of the central committee members from the province, some of
whom would undoubtedly be politburo members who had agreed to the amendment.
The latter amendment was clearly designed to neutralise the Mnangagwa
faction’s control over the provincial executive councils in seven provinces.
With perverse cynicism, Mnangagwa, as secretary for legal affairs, was given
the task of drafting the necessary amendments to the Zanu PF constitution.
This required the alteration of only a few words, but, deciding that
discretion was the better part of valour, Mnangagwa pleaded this commitment
to stay well away from the meeting in Tsholotsho. As Zanu PF secretary for
administration in the politburo, and, in what was to be one of his last few
acts as such, he was also given the task of writing to the provinces to
explain the new nomination procedure.
— To be continued next week.
Matyszak is a former University of Zimbabwe law lecturer, constitutional
expert and researcher with the Research and Advocacy Unit.