Friday, 03 September 2010 08:44
A FRESH row has erupted over the appointment of provincial governors, with
the three principals clashing over letters written to Sadc facilitator,
South African President Jacob Zuma, on progress made in the implementation
of the global political agreement (GPA).
In a report attached to a letter dated June 10 written by Deputy Prime
Minister Arthur Mutambara and signed by President Robert Mugabe and Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to Zuma, the three principals agreed that the
issue of provincial governors would be dealt with concurrently with that of
But Tsvangirai and his party have denied linking the appointment of
governors to the lifting of sanctions, while Mutambara and Mugabe were
adamant that the principals had reached that decision.
"This matter (appointment of governors) must be addressed simultaneously and
concurrently with that of sanctions," the June 10 letter read.
Under the issue of sanctions, the three leaders "agreed to work towards the
removal of sanctions. They endorsed and adopted the plan of the negotiating
team on how to remove sanctions."
In a statement attached to another letter written by Mutambara on August 5,
prior to the Sadc summit in Namibia, the principals reiterated that the
issue of governors should be dealt with concurrently and simultaneously with
the sanctions removal strategy.
"That on the appointment of provincial governors, while agreeing on the
appointment formula recommended to us by the GPA negotiators, we have
resolved that this matter be addressed simultaneously and concurrently with
the sanctions removal strategy," read the report.
Also accompanying the letter was an implementation matrix for the 24 issues
they agreed on. These documents formed the basis for Zuma's report, which
was adopted by the Sadc troika meeting and the summit in Windhoek.
However, Tsvangirai, according to sources, was now trying to wriggle out of
The MDC-T has accused Mutambara of falsifying the letter, with its
spokesperson Nelson Chamisa saying it was not true that the premier had
agreed to resolve the issue of governors when sanctions are removed.
Tsvangirai said last week at a launch of a new party card that there was no
link between sanctions and the appointment of governors.
"To then artificially link the allocation of governors to the issue of
restrictive measures is a blatant attempt to undermine the GPA, the
inclusive government and the will of the people," he said.
Presidential spokesperson George Charamba yesterday threatened to expose
Tsvangirai by making public a letter he allegedly signed together with other
principals agreeing that the appointment of governors should be done
concurrently with the lifting of sanctions.
He told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that: "We are slowly being pushed
to a stage where we will have to embarrass the prime minister. Such lies
raise questions of the PM's integrity and the integrity of his party. He is
denying what he endorsed."
"No one was press-ganged into appending their signatures," Charamba said.
"You can't rule on the basis of lies. Why are they recanting now? All they
are trying to do is push the matter to Mutambara and Zuma."
He added that Mutambara and Mugabe have always been frustrated by Tsvangirai
going back on agreed positions.
"President Mugabe and Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara take a decision with
the MDC-T leader and when he goes back and is confronted by hawks in his
party, he recants - he needs to take control," Charamba said.
MDC-M secretary-general Welshman Ncube yesterday said Tsvangirai and his
party had several opportunities to object to the paragraph in the statement
by the principals and in Zuma's report, which was read out at the troika
meeting, that suggested governors would be appointed simultaneously and
concurrently with the sanctions removal strategy.
"People that lie are pathological liars," Ncube said. "Tsvangirai actually
added paragraphs to the statement by the principals. He suggested that they
should not just record what was agreed upon, but also what was deadlocked,"
Giving a blow by blow account of events leading up to the letter on August
5, Ncube said the principals met and agreed that Mutambara should write the
Mutambara wrote the cover letter, statement on progress and the
implementation matrix, after which he personally met the principals to show
them the drafts.
In the initial statement, the deputy prime minister had only included
positives, which were the 24 issues they had agreed on and the
Tsvangirai, according to Ncube, then suggested that Mutambara should add
three paragraphs related to the three outstanding issues -- the appointment
of central bank governor Gideon Gono, hiring of Attorney-General Johannes
Tomana, as well as the swearing-in of MDC-T treasurer Roy Bennett as Deputy
Ncube claimed that Tsvangirai was responsible for inserting a paragraph in
the statement outlining that "as the principals to the GPA, we remain
committed to working within all the provisions of the GPA and to abide by
the country's laws, in particular those provisions reflected in Constitution
Amendment No 19".
This was meant to force Mugabe to stop making unilateral appointments, like
he did when he appointed judges and ambassadors.
"We are dealing with people who are not leaders and who can't stand by what
they have proposed," said Ncube.
After the additions, the final draft was sent to Mugabe and Tsvangirai
before it was given to Zuma's envoy Mac Maharaj, who was in Zimbabwe at that
time, to take to his boss.
Copies of the final version were then sent to the two principals.
Ncube said: "The statement was sent to Zuma and it was part of Zuma's
report. Tsvangirai didn't want any modification to that report at the troika
meeting and it is hypocritical for him to start distancing himself now. He
is the one who opposed any amendments to Zuma's report - he didn't want any
Charamba concurred saying: "At some point at the Troika meeting, Mutambara
suggested certain amendments to the report; the person who refused any
amendments was Tsvangirai."
However, a top MDC-T official said there was no agreement on appointing
governors concurrently with the removal of sanctions.
The official said when Zuma's office received the documents, they called
Tsvangirai seeking clarification on the paragraph relating to the governors.
"He then wrote to President Zuma and Mugabe saying there was no link between
sanctions and the appointment of governors," he said. "
In the same letter, President Tsvangirai reiterated his position that the
issue of governors and the issue of restrictive measures were as separate as
day and night."
However, Charamba said no such letter had been written to Mugabe.
The MDC-T top official accused Mutambara of failing to correctly capture the
minutes of the principals' meeting.
"It's the way he captured the minutes and the PM didn't notice that
paragraph - he saw the covering letter which Mutambara wrote on behalf of
the principals," he said.
The MDC-T official said Zanu PF misunderstood what the paragraph meant,
which was not to say that governors would only be implemented when sanctions
An MDC-M official said both MDC-T and Zanu PF were spinning and lying about
what that paragraph meant.
He said: "Mugabe was refusing to appoint governors and MDC-T, through its
behaviour, has been violating the GPA on sanctions. Zanu PF says MDC-T is
not sincere and bona fide on the removal of sanctions. Zanu PF wants proof
of sincerity and a bona fide status, then Zanu PF can appoint governors."
Friday, 03 September 2010 09:03
FINANCE minister Tendai Biti has officially intervened in the "vicious
corporate war" between Meikles Africa Ltd and Kingdom Financial Holdings Ltd
(KFHL), which has drawn into its vortex President Robert Mugabe and other
The involvement of Mugabe, Biti and Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono in the
intensifying battle for KFHL has left the corporate giant smouldering.
Mugabe has openly declared his support for the embattled KFHL founder Nigel
Chanakira and wants to resort to his controversial Indigenisation laws to
settle the dispute in the struggling banker's favour despite that the
companies in the dispute are already owned by Zimbabweans.
Biti says he wants a "win-win solution" in what he recently described in a
letter to Gono, which the Zimbabwe Independent has in its possession, as a
"vicious and unkind corporate war".
Gono recently said Biti and himself have had "enough of this nonsense" and
gave the two merged corporate entities an ultimatum to resolve the issue to
avoid further destabilising the fragile banking sector.
The fight between the companies has been affecting the banking sector, the
image of the country to investors, and the local securities market. New
proposals have now been put on the table to try to resolve the issue. The
two entities and their lawyers are currently discussing the latest
In a bid to resolve the issue, Biti on August 26 wrote to Gono suggesting
ways of disentangling the convoluted corporate merger. KFHL merged with
Meikles Africa Ltd in 2008 to form Kingdom Meikles Africa Ltd (KMAL) amid a
blaze of publicity to create a financial concern which had ambitions of an
offshore listing. The new conglomerate included TM stores, Meikles Hotel,
Meikles stores, Tanganda, Cotton Printers and Kingdon Bank and its
In October last year, Chanakira entered into an agreement with Meikles
shareholders, including John Moxon, to acquire 43% of KFHL after the
de-merger. However, Chanakira failed to raise the required US$15 million.
Deadlines given for payment expired. Extensions were sought and granted.
Time limits provided in the extensions also expired, but Chanakira still
failed to raise the money, setting off fresh clashes in the protracted
struggle over the KMAL de-merged matrix.
Biti says in his letter to Gono that a "win-win solution" could be found
which would "achieve the objective of stabilising the market and quashing
the noise, enabling Chanakira to hold on to his bank and unlocking
shareholder value in both institutions".
"It is self-evident from the correspondence and report you have provided
that the relationship between the parties has irretrievably broken down with
no prospects of reconciliation," Biti wrote to Gono in his August 26 letter
titled Meikles Holdings versus Kingdom Bank.
"To put it mildly, the parties are locked in a vicious and unkind corporate
war. Under these circumstances it is my opinion that the demerger of the two
entities is the proper and logical solution," Biti said. "The net result of
this is that Kingdon Bank will be listed separately. I hope and trust that
for the sake of stabilisation of our country, this advice is upheld."
In his letter, Biti makes suggestions of the way forward on the issue which
has created a storm in political circles.
"The second issue relates to the settlement of the cross-shareholding by
shareholders in both institutions. The papers before me disclose the fact
that Chanakira has offered to buy out Meikles Holdings' interest in his bank
for the sum of US$15 million," Biti says.
"It also appears that BancABC are prepared to pay this amount. From the
discussion with yourself it appears that only an amount of US$7, 5 million
is available. Assuming BancABC has the full amount, then I advise that the
money be deposited in the creditor's bank account at Stanbic. I see no merit
in payment of this amount to the central bank".
A row had erupted over where the money from Chanakira to Moxon should be
kept, with Reserve Bank officials saying the funds must be kept at the
central bank, and Meikles executives demanding it must go to their account
at Stanbic. Biti says the money must be paid to the creditor's Stanbic
Biti also says in his letter that he agreed with Gono that if Chanakira does
not have the US$15 million, then the shareholdings and shares in dispute
must be evaluated before a deal is done. However, Biti then says valuation
process would cause problems because "any evaluation, either professional or
otherwise, will always be subjective and in many situations fail to agree on
the persona of the evaluator".
Biti goes on to suggest that the evaluation should be left to the market if
the de-merger occurs and KFHL is re-listed on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
"In short, let the market determine the values of the shares in both
entities," he says.
On the last contentious issue of US$22, 5 million which is theoretically
held by the Reserve Bank, Biti says it was a "technical issue touching on
capital reduction and other corporate issues".
The US$22,5 million sum was lodged with central bank by Meikles in 2004. The
funds were used to recapitalise Kingdom Bank's three subsidiaries to meet
the prescribed minimum capital requirements.
"My view of the matter is that this is not an issue that should stand in the
way of a settlement. Moreover as minister responsible for the administration
of the Companies Act, I would expect that the same is complied with, in
particular Section 92. I hope the above suggestions may help you guide the
parties to a win-win situation," Biti tells Gono in the letter.
Friday, 03 September 2010 18:44
CONSTITUENCY Development Funds (CDF), critical to grassroots community
development, are lying idle because MPs are not coming forward to claim the
money, a cabinet minister has said.
Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric Matinenga said in the
capital yesterday that MPs were reluctant to apply for funds which would
benefit their constituencies.
He revealed that only two MPs, Heya Shoko of Bikita West and Shuwa Mudiwa of
Mutare West, had applied for the money despite Finance minister Tendai Biti
releasing US$4 million of the US$8 million promised under the fund.
The money will be returned to treasury if MPs continue snubbing the CDF,
warned Matinenga, whose ministry administers the fund.
“Only two applications have been received so far; Bikita West and Mutare
West,” Matinenga said. “An amount of $4 million is available for
disbursement from this fund. MPS are once again reminded to make
applications to access this money.”
Biti in December last year allocated US$8 million for constituency
development in his 2010 budget, but the money can only be released if MPs
make an official request. Each House of Assembly member is entitled to US$50
000 from the fund.
There are 210 House of Assembly seats, although over 10 of them are vacant
because of deaths, expulsions and appointments.
Matinenga said a Senator could apply for the money where the House of
Assembly seat was vacant.
“The money won’t go directly into an MP’s personal account. There is a way
to make sure there is accountability,” said Matinenga. “MPs must apply
because the money is available.”
MDC-T chief whip Innocent Gonese defended MPs who were yet to apply for
money under the CDF saying the funds were availed when most legislators were
busy with the constitution-making outreach programme.
MPs, he said, were keen on the CDF because they were committed to upgrading
the lives of the electorate.
Friday, 03 September 2010 18:42
A MINING joint-venture deal which turned sour has exposed how the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has been involved in the extraction and processing of
diamonds and gold in the Midlands, the Zimbabwe Independent can reveal.
Carslone Enterprises, a subsidiary of the RBZ, entered into a joint venture
with Gweru farmer Magiel Casper Jovner, who owns Kleimpton Farm, in 2007 to
carry out mining activities at his Mangwe Mine claim 24 for a three year
period up to June 2010. The matter is now before the courts.
Under the Tribute Agreement, Carslone was supposed to conduct mining
activities at Mangwe claim 24 from June 25 2007 until June 24 2010, which
was subject to renewal once the parties agree on an extension of the
Under the agreement, Carslone was due to pay Jovner 5% of the total gross
value of the gold and/or other valuable products from the mine.
But the deal went sour recently after Jovner refused to renew the agreement
citing the RBZ subsidiary’s failure to meet its obligations and entered into
a new three- year partnership with Shuma Mining Syndicate running from June
15 2010 up to June 14 2013.
Jovner accused the RBZ subsidiary of not meeting its obligations of paying
royalties amounting to “5% of the total gross value of the products won.”
The RBZ’s mining activities are revealed in an urgent chamber application
filed by Jovner seeking a court order to permanently interdict the central
bank’s subsidiary, its agents, servants, proxies, associates and nominees
from entering his farm and mines, including coming within 100 metres
Jovner, who is setting up a diamond processing plant which is nearing
completion at his farm located about 18 kms from Gweru along the
Gweru-Bulawayo road, says his mining activities have recently been hampered
by the RBZ’s unlawful actions in the area which include illegal mining and
trespassing, behaviour which has resulted in his mining activities being
The Gweru farmer says although he held a Tribute Agreement with Carslone,
the agreement was for Mangwe claim 24 only and not for Mangwe claim 20 and
21, where the apex bank’s mining subsidiary has forcefully settled.
Despite the expiry of the Tribute Agreement on June 24, Carslone has
continued to mine and ignored Jovner’s demand that the plant close down as
there is no Tribute Agreement in existence and that the RBZ subsidiary is
mining in wrong claims.
Jovner says Carslone has made racial threats and threatened that they would
cause his arrest and grab his farm as he has no right to own the farm and
mine, they claimed.
The farmer said at one time the police removed Carslone from his farm after
he made a police report, but the miners have since returned to his farm.
“Respondent (Carlsone) is clearly undeterred and has continued unlawful and
unauthorised mining activities,” reads part of Jovner’s urgent chamber
application filed in the High Court in July seeking to interdict Carslone,
its agents, servants, proxies, associates and nominees from mining on his
In his letter to the Mining Commissioner for Gweru, only identified as WM
Dube, a copy of which is in the possession of the Independent, Jovner said
he was surprised that Carslone is still carrying out mining activities on
his mining claims without his consent yet he had clearly indicated to the
company that he had no intention of working with them again after the expiry
of the Tribute Agreement.
In a letter written to the Officer Commanding Midlands Police, Mining
Commissioner Dube ordered the police to halt Carslone’s mining activities.
“Mr Magiel Casper Jovner has reported that Carslone is working illegally on
12400BM Mangwe on an expired agreement. If the allegations are correct,
could you stop all mining operations and instruct both parties to visit this
office for arbitration,” reads Dube’s letter dated July 19.
But on July 29 Police Assistant Inspector Jachi absolved the RBZ of
illegally mining on Jovner’s claims and instead accused the Gweru farmer of
making a false report to the police.
“It is alleged that Migel Casper Jovner reported a case of illegal mining
against Carslone Enterprises in that the said company is mining diamonds
without relevant documents from the Ministry of Mines. This resulted in
police acting upon the information and arrested persons who were found at
the mining premises. The people arrested were Carslone Enterprises employees
working at the plant. They were not gold panners. We cleared them of the
allegations since they were false,” Jachi wrote in a letter dated July 29.
In his opposing affidavit, Emmanuel Shuro, the director of Carslone, accused
Jovner of creating statements of illegality, unlawfulness, trespassing and
Shuro said the RBZ engaged Jovner as a consultant in the diamond mining and
processing venture and this saved him from being evicted from his farm which
was seized by the government under the Sour deal exposes RBZ’s diamond
land grab exercise.
“The presence of the government diamond project at the farm has made the
government to suspend allocation of the farm to landless people. That is
what has made applicant (Jovner) stay at the farm. Moreover, we pleaded with
the Governor of Midlands (Jason Machaya) on his behalf for him to stay at
the farm since he was the consultant of the project.”
The diamond processing plant, which Shuro says cost the government US$20
million to establish, would also process alluvial diamond-bearing ore from
the central bank’s Somabhula mining projects.
The value of the mined and processed diamonds could not be ascertained.
Besides mining and processing diamonds, Carslone has consolidated its
presence in the gold-mining sector by acquiring closed or struggling mines.
It owns Golden Kopje mine, in Chinhoyi, among other mines.
Friday, 03 September 2010 18:41
HOUSING and Social Amenities minister Giles Mutsekwa has failed to evict
former ministers and civil servants holding onto state properties following
the lapse of a three-week deadline he set himself to carry out the task.
Mutsekwa told newspapers, including the Zimbabwe Independent, at the
beginning of last month that he would evict the former government employees
to make way for current ministers who have no official accommodation.
This puts into question Mutsekwa's ability to remove Zanu PF officials
occupying state houses at a time when President Robert Mugabe is firmly in
charge of the coalition government.
Serving ministers have resorted to staying in flats in the Avenues area due
to shortages of official accommodation. Mutsekwa's MDC-T party formed a
coalition government with Zanu PF and political observers say Mugabe's party
wields more power than its counterparts.
Asked this week if he had succeeded in evicting the former officials,
Mutsekwa was non-committal.
He said he had finished compiling a comprehensive report of the undeserving
beneficiaries of government properties but could no longer say when he would
"I have all the information at hand now. I now know who is staying where. I
am now marching towards eviction," Mutsekwa said in an interview on Tuesday.
"I can't name people still occupying the houses although evictions are
Mutsekwa, a former co-Home Affairs minister, is one of the several cabinet
ministers without official accommodation.
Minister of State Enterprises and Parastatals Gorden Moyo, Minister of Water
Resources Samuel Sipepa Nkomo and Minister of Public Works Joel Gabbuza are
living in a block of flats in the Avenues, Harare's haven for prostitution
Apart from former ministers, widows of the late vice presidents, Joseph
Msika, Maria Msika and Maud Muzenda are still occupying government houses.
Mutsekwa said it was "unAfrican" to evict widows of former vice-presidents
because they were occupying the properties as a result of their husbands'
former positions in government.
He said the president, vice presidents and the prime minister had houses
built for them and their families would continue benefiting even if one such
"We don't want to be seen to be evicting widows. It's unAfrican," said
Mutsekwa who is also renting a house due to lack of official accommodation.
"We should always respect the leaders even if they are dead."
The minister told the Independent last month that he would personally evict
the former ministers while other former top civil servants would be dealt
with by officers from his office. The houses would then be reallocated after
It is government policy, according to Mutsekwa, that ministers and senior
civil servants, especially from outside Harare, get official accommodation
soon after being appointed.
The cash-strapped government is splashing US$1 000 in rent for each minister
at a time when former officials are clinging to the properties.
When they were appointed, ministers from outside Harare were accommodated in
expensive hotels and were eventually pushed out as government moved to cut
Almost all MDC ministers are without official houses, and the Speaker of
Parliament Lovemore Moyo, an MDC official, is also living in a rented house.
Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was only allocated a house in Highlands
after President Mugabe refused him access to Zimbabwe House. Tsvangirai is
still living at his family home in Strathaven because the Highlands house is
Friday, 03 September 2010 18:38
CO-HOME Affairs minister Theresa Makone this week vouched for the police
saying they have turned over a new leaf as opposed to being partisan.
Her statements are in direct contradiction to what rights groups and her own
MDC-T party say about the police whom they accuse of continuing with
selective application of the law.
In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday, Makone, an MDC-T
national women’s assembly chairperson and one of Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai’s closest allies, defended the police –– a departure from her
party, which has been pushing for security-sector reforms citing partisan
policing by the police and other state security agencies.
The MDC-T has accused the police, together with the Attorney-General’s
Office, of enforcing the law in a partisan manner and has been angered by
the police’s failure to investigate, arrest and prosecute known or
identifiable perpetrators of politically-motivated violence.
Last week the Independent carried a story on the police’s failure to
investigate close to 200 murders of MDC-T supporters which occurred between
April 2008 and December of the same year.
The MDC-T said the culture of impunity by the police had remained intact
despite the signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) which gave birth
to the government of national unity.
According to the GPA, the state organs and institutions, like the police,
should not belong to any political party and should be professional and
impartial in the discharge of their duties. The state organs should strictly
observe the principle of the rule of law.
This issue is one of the 24 items which the three political principals said
in their implementation matrix should be done on a continuous basis.
But Makone said the issue has been dealt with and the police were now
executing their duties in a professional manner.
She said: “The wheels of government move slowly, at a snail’s pace. But I
can assure you that everything has been looked at and there is no more
hiding behind a finger of someone powerful.
“As I speak right now everything is being effected – all court orders are
being implemented, work is being done as the country moves forward. We are
doing our job.”
Makone went further to say that: “The ZRP (Zimbabwe Republic Police) is
doing what it was mandated to do.”
She said this when she was asked what action was being taken to ensure that
cases she highlighted in a document, which she prepared of cases involving
senior Zanu PF officials and military officers who have defied High Court
orders, were dealt with.
Makone circulated the dossier to a senior Home Affairs official linking top
officials who allegedly looted farms and she asked the official to find out
why the police had not dealt with the cases.
In July Makone said the net was closing in on Zanu PF bigwigs and security
chiefs who allegedly looted white-owned farms during the land reform
Asked when, where and by whom it was agreed that all court orders should be
enforced and if her ministry has had discussions with Justice Minister
Patrick Chinamasa, Police Commissioner-General Augustine Chihuri and
Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, Makone said she could not divulge
specifics, but invited aggrieved people whose court orders were ignored to
report their matter.
“It is not only the farmers. This applies to everyone and if there are still
people who are aggrieved, they should know that the ZRP is now doing its
job,” she said. “We intervene where the messenger of court, which falls
under the Ministry of Justice, is afraid and we go and assist. All these
issues have been dealt with.”
Asked why the police have not investigated the land scandal involving
businessman Phillip Chiyangwa and Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo,
which was one of the cases cited in the document, Makone said the matter was
Harare mayor Much Masunda and eight councillors who authored the report that
exposed the scandal were arrested and arraigned before the magistrates
courts facing criminal defamation charges.
On April 12 acting Harare Mayor Charity Bango lodged an official complaint
of corruption against Chiyangwa and two employees of the city council
(reference number IR 040725/10). On April 15 the acting mayor lodged another
report against Chombo.
But when told that this newspaper was referring to a report made by Bango,
which police sources say was not being investigated, Makone advised the
mayor to sue those not doing their job.
Friday, 03 September 2010 18:36
MUZA Fredrick's desperate situation hardly makes him recognisable as one of
the vanguards of President Robert Mugabe's often violent land reform that
has seen politically linked chefs enjoying rich pickings.
Now in his early 30s, Fredrick says he was part of youth corps who were at
the forefront of evictions that began in 2000, rampaging from farm to farm
to displace white commercial farmers who were forced to make way for
beneficiaries of the land reform programme.
Today, living on handouts, Frederick's life has become a daily struggle for
survival at Insingisi Farm near Bindura, about 80km north-east of Harare.
The returns promised by politicians who encouraged him in the invasions have
not materialised and he lives a pauper's life.
Fredrick and his friends say they have been reduced to casual labourers by
Dick Mafios, the new owner who they helped grab the farm. He now pays them
US$1,30 a day for occasional jobs.
Mafios, the Zanu PF provincial chairman for Mashonaland Central, is related
to Youth Development, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister and MP for
Mount Darwin South, Saviour Kasukuwere.
Commercial Farmers Union president Deon Theron said Collin Taylor, the
former owner of Insingisi farm, is now in Zambia after skipping the country
like most farmers traumatised by the violence accompanying the farm
Fredrick was part of a militia that invaded the farm in 2000 and stopped
Taylor's labour force from harvesting a ripening citrus crop meant for
export to make way for Mafios.
"We arrived in Bindura in 2000 after some politicians approached us and
requested that we help them grab land from white farmers," said Fredrick,
explaining how he ended up in his situation. "You know that this was the
time when we started taking our land and occupying it."
"They said 'boys come and help us take land from the white farmers' and that
is when we joined in from Mt Darwin in our hundreds as youths. We were
excited and the promise was that we would also get pieces of land which we
could farm on," Fredrick told the Zimbabwe Independent last week, likening
his situation to a hunting dog that is denied the right to even eat the skin
of its prey.
"As years went by, no land was given to us until now. If we try to raise our
concerns we are told that the bosses are also struggling as they don't have
inputs and so forth. Besides, we will never be taken seriously because the
foreman lives in such squalid conditions."
The married father of two represents the plight of thousands of youths and
militant veterans of the liberation war still loyal to Mugabe who were at
the forefront of the violent campaign, but have turned destitute after being
dumped by the new owners.
Mafios acknowledged that his farm workers had no access to clean water, but
denied that youths were taken from Mt Darwin during the 2000 farm invasions.
He said he suspected that panners looking for gold along the Mazowe River
were squatting at his farm.
"My workers usually get water from the borehole, but for the past two weeks
it had not been working and it's true they had difficulties in accessing
clean water," he said. "However, we will provide them with clean water that
we brought in bowsers."
According to research conducted by the General Agricultural and Plantation
Workers Union of Zimbabwe, youths and ordinary Zanu PF militia contributed
to most of the violence that characterised the land reforms at the farms
together with war veterans.
Thousands of militia, some claiming to be war veterans, went on a rampage
from 2000 after Mugabe declared his intention to replace white farmers with
landless blacks in a land revolution whose haphazard execution left Zimbabwe
a basket case.
They burnt houses and property, assaulted -- at times fatally - farmers and
their workers, looted livestock and vandalised equipment like irrigation
pipes and tractors. Led by the late Chenjerai Hunzvi, the war veterans
showed no mercy as they went around farms chanting slogans and singing
revolutionary songs while wielding axes and knobkerries, in an exercise that
virtually ground agriculture to a halt across the country.
Most of the farms have become derelict, as new owners struggle with finances
and expertise needed to keep production levels high.
A visit to the once flourishing Mazowe area shows a sad picture of failure.
Once vibrant agricultural fields are in a sorry state with tall grass
swamping the wheat crop and citrus trees that used to characterise this
Farm workers' houses are falling apart because of lack of maintenance while
sanitation facilities have collapsed. Actual farming is at a standstill, and
subsistence farming has replaced commercial, export-oriented agriculture.
"The owner of the farm can't even provide us with clean drinking water,"
said a resident at one of the farms. "Our families drink water from an open
source - the Mazowe River which we suspect has raw sewage that flows from
Glendale residential. We don't have any running taps, the boreholes are no
longer working. The toilets are worse as they are in a terrible state."
At Insingisi, like most neighbouring farms, neglect has taken over. Farm
workers and the youths who used to terrorise them are wallowing in poverty
induced by lack of productivity.
"The owner of the farm lends us a bucket of maize meal at US$4,50 which will
then be deducted from our monthly salaries of US$40," said a farm worker who
refused to be named. "But to be given that bucket of maize meal one should
have worked for at least 20 days. The money is not enough to look after the
families. If we try other alternatives like gold panning we are chased away
by the police. So how do they expect us to survive?"
Another resident said most of the new farmers had little knowledge of
commercial farming and were hardly in touch with operations at their farms.
"These are not real farmers from what we have seen," he said. "They come
from Harare once in a while and do not take part in the farming. As you can
see, tall grass has replaced wheat on these lands."
Another resident, Patricia Muremo, said a lot had changed since the new
farmers settled in.
"People looted and stole irrigation pipes and farming equipment," she said.
"This has really affected people like us who were left behind. Now we feel
the pinch, the taps are no longer working and we don't have clean water to
drink or proper food. We use the water in this dam to wash our clothes,
bathe ourselves and the children and also to cook and drink. We are lucky to
have escaped cholera."
Friday, 03 September 2010 15:34
THE Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (Baz) has refused to give in to salary
demands by bank employees, saying the workers could go ahead with the
industrial action planned for next week because their demands were
Baz president John Mushayavanhu on Tuesday downplayed the planned strike by
the Zimbabwe Banks and Allied Workers Union (Zibawu) despite fears of US$3
million losses in daily deposits and a paralysis of the economy.
Zibawu, a union representing 5 000 employees in the banking sector, last
week gave 14 days notice to strike to Baz over an 80% salary increment
deadlock. The 14-day notice, which excludes Sundays, lapses on September 9.
"As employers we feel that the salaries that we are offering our employees
are at par with regional salaries," Mushayavanhu told businessdigest. "They
can go ahead with the strike because no economy with a year-on-year
inflation rate of 4,1% can sustain an 80% salary increment. In fact most
banks are currently overstaffed, so this strike could have minimal impact."
He said most banks were paying a minimum monthly salary of US$490 that
includes transport and housing allowances, contrary to Zibawu claims that
the lowest paid employee was earning US$273.
Zibawu president, Peter Mutasa, however said the countdown to the strike was
still on although negotiations with the employers' association were ongoing.
When asked to comment on claims by Baz that the lowest paid employee was
earning US$273 monthly, he said: "What he (Mushayanhu) was saying is not
factual. Most bank employees do not get housing allowances because they own
their own houses. The lowest paid is getting US$273 as regulated by the
National Economic Council."
Banking sources said bank employers and the union met this week and agreed
on a "14th cheque" for April.
But the two parties reportedly disagreed on a proposed plan by the employers
association to call for one-off salary negotiations each year. Zibawu makes
quarterly submissions on salaries for its constituency. The sources said
should Baz and Zibawu agree on the new bargaining timeline, the job action
could be averted.
The workers are demanding an increment backdated to April amid massive
retrenchments in the banking sector.
Most banks have indicated various restructuring measures that include job
cuts, reduction in branch networks and streamlining of operations. Limited
lines of external credit have seen some of the country's investment banks
such as NDH "surrendering" operating licences due to depressed business.
Kingdom Financial Holdings, which this week published its financials, said
lack of credit has seen the country shifting its hope of sourcing fresh
capital to the mining industry.
Western governments are demanding full implementation of a coalition pact
between President Robert Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his
deputy Arthur Mutambara before they commit financial aid to the Southern
African nation. Zimbabwe requires at least US$10 billion to fully
resuscitate the economy.
"Zimbabwe's failure to attract international financial resources since the
formation of the inclusive government in February 2009 has forced it to look
at its mineral resources, especially diamonds, as a way of raising the much
needed working capital for its productive sectors," reads a statement
accompanying the group's interim financials.
Friday, 03 September 2010 14:59
AMONGST some of the positives to come from the economic reforms in 2009 was
the rollout of more mobile phone lines by the three networks.
The number of people with lines increased enormously from only 14% of the
estimated 12 million population in 2008 to 40% by March 2010. Prices of
mobile SIM packs fell substantially from a peak of US$100 to the current
level of US$1.
Concurrently, network coverage within the country has widened and even the
remotest areas are now covered. Disappointingly, while the coverage
improved, the quality of services on all the networks went from bad to
worse. It seemed all the millions pumped in by operators went into expansion
as the trio fought for market share at the expense of improving the service.
Incidents in which consumers felt shortchanged by the networks are plenty.
The rate of dropped calls in the country is probably one of the highest in
the world. For instance, every subscriber experiences three dropped calls
each time he tries to make a call. With a billing cycle of one minute at
first and 30 seconds thereafter, the high rate of failed calls would mean
more costs for subscribers. Of course the networks were benefiting a lot
from this distorted billing model as the huge amounts they splashed out on
extravagant advertisements - billboards, print space, airtime on radio and
television- bear witness.
Thank goodness the regulator of telecommunication services in the country;
POTRAZ, eventually prevailed over mobile service providers and implemented
per-second billing. September 1 2010, was set as the deadline for all
networks to comply. Simply put -- per-second billing means that subscribers
only pay for the seconds they have spent on the phone. This is contrary to
the previous practice whereby a fixed charge per minute is levied even if
one would have spent a lesser duration on a call.
NetOne was the first to launch per-second billing on May 1 2010, a scenario
that should have increased competition in the marketplace as a fair charging
system typically lures subscribers from other networks. However, that move
was not much of a benefit because it was only intra-network and in any case
NetOne has the least number of subscribers.
The duo of Econet and Telecel has moved to per-second billing from September
1 with the former splashing out on advertisements of the new system. In the
build up to its implementation there was a strong rumour that the networks
would let subscribers choose between per-second and per-minute billing.
According to that rumour per-second billing was supposed to carry a premium
above the standard charge. That the pioneer, NetOne, simply divided the
minute tariff by 60 when it launched in May could have compelled others to
follow suit as doing otherwise would have been seen as perpetuating the
fleecing of subscribers.
The coming into effect of per-second billing will undoubtedly change the
landscape of the local mobile industry. Consumers will obviously benefit
from reduced phone bills. On the other hand, their minutes of use could go
up, a scenario that is likely to result in network congestion. There is a
possibility that subscribers could also reduce the use of text messages
preferring voice over data. Empirical evidence reveals that the average
minutes of use in countries that have adopted per-second billing jumped by
Mobile operators will feel the full brunt in the form of reduced revenues.
There is substantial evidence that companies that implement per-second
billing experience a reduction in both revenues and profitability. This is
because any call below a minute was previously charged a tariff for a full
minute. For instance, in the past a five second call between mobile networks
would cost US23c. With per-second billing the cost will be only US2c.
Ordinarily, people do not spend much time on social calls with most
conversations being 20 seconds long. Networks will also lose revenue they
would have got on all dropped calls that were formerly charged as a full
Most companies in India which launched per-second billing in 2009 saw their
combined revenues dipping by 16,7%. Average revenue per user dipped by
between 5% and 12% when per second billing was introduced in 2009. EBITDA
margins also dipped at a time when operational costs remained unchanged. As
a result mobile telecom share prices in India plunged as investors
downgraded their profitability outlook of companies. In the six months to 12
November 2009, shares in leading mobile companies Bharti Airtel, Reliance
Comm and Idea Cellular shed between 62% and 16%. Tata Tele was the only
gainer advancing 17%.
In the light of that, it will be interesting to see how the Econet share
which has been wobbling for more than eight months will respond to this new
Interim financial results for August should be good because per-minute
charging was in place. But future earnings are likely to be severely
reduced. It's sad news for investors but subscribers will be loving it, no
Friday, 03 September 2010 14:58
TRADING on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange opened the week bearish with the key
industrial index shedding 0,45 points to close at 132,48 points, as interim
financial results fail to stimulate the local bourse.
Commentaries of companies that have released results so far say they do not
see the current operating environment characterised by liquidity challenges,
erratic supplies of utilities, high cost of finance and shortage of lines of
credit "improving much" during the second half of the year.
Consequently the selling point for some of the companies is the future
prospects and assets, making it a combination of "a future story" backed by
a strong earnings, sales and asset base.
Natfood fell 10 cents to close at 80 cents, Seed Co slipped from 92,50 cents
to 90 cents as Murray and Roberts dipped two cents to 20 cents. CAFCA lost a
cent to close at 13 cents and CFI retreated 0,79 cents to trade at 13,20
The companies, however, said they are confident of achieving their targets
powered by improved liquidity, low operating costs and increased margins in
Losses were countered by gains in Pretoria Portland Cement Company (PPC)
which rose three cents to 335 cents as Old Mutual added two cents to close
at 155 cents.
Meikles went up 1,10 cents to close at 27,10 cents, Econet was slightly up
at 466 cents and PGI advanced 0,10 cents to close at 2,90 cents.
The mining index lost 2,99 points (2,24%) to close at 130,36 points due to
RioZim which dropped 24 cents to close at 201 cents. Bindura, Falgold and
Hwange were unchanged at 10 cents, four cents and 22 cents respectively.
Analysts this week, however said short term investors were failing to
realise that there was a difference between a good company and a good
stock, resulting in buying a counter that appeared cheap. On Tuesday the
industrial index lost a further 1,56 points (1,18%) to 130,92 points. Most
heavyweight counters lost ground as Innscor and PPC were each two cents
lower at 48 cents and 333 cents respectively.
Interfin was also down two cents as it settled at 20 cents in the day's
trades. Delta slipped 1,50 cents to close at 48,50 cents as Barclays shed a
cent to nine cents.
Heading northwards were Econet which pushed up eight cents to close at 474
cents and Dairibord which inched up 0,61 cents to close at 9,61 cents.
Meikles ended 0,40 cents higher at 27,50 cents and Zimplow added 0,30 cents
to close at 4 cents.
The mining index retreated 2,72 points (2,09%) to end at 127,64 points as
Hwange shed two cents to close at 20 cents.
Bindura and Falgold were unchanged whilst RioZim added four cents to close
at 205 cents.
After Tuesday's trade and mixed trading that has characterised the equities
market over the past two weeks, some analysts felt it appeared there are
three kinds of investors- those who do not know where the market is headed
and those who do not know that they do not know.
The third type of investor is the investment professional, who indeed knows
that they do not know, but whose livelihood depends upon appearing to know.
On Wednesday the industrial index gained 1,75 points (1,34%) to close at
132,67 points. The cement maker Lafarge rose five cents to 100 cents and
Seed Co was up three cents to close at 93 cents.
Border, Econet and Murray and Roberts rallied 2 cents each to close at 50
cents, 476 cents and 22 cents respectively.
Phoenix led the shakers with a 0,50 cents loss at 2,50 cents as African Sun,
FBCH, Pearl and ZBFH lost 0,20 cents each to trade at 4 cents, 2.80 cents ,
1,80 cents and 5,80 cents in that order.
The mining index went up 4,64 points (3,64%) to close at 132,28 points due
to Hwange which added two cents to close at 22 cents and Bindura rose 0,90
cents to trade at 10,90 cents.
Falgold was unchanged at four cents whilst RioZim dropped two cents to trade
at 203 cents.
Despite liquidity challenges currently prevailing in the country more than
5,2 billion shares worth US$255,5 million changed hands on the local bourse
for the eight months to August 31, ZSE CEO Emmanuel Munyukwi said this week.
There has been a steady increase in the volume of shares compared to the
same period last year largely due to a significant drop in share prices.
Last year between February 19 and December 31, 4,5 billion shares valued at
US$413 976 724 traded on the local bourse with foreign trades accounting for
35,3% of the figure.
The indigenisation regulations announced early this year, knocked down the
market significantly resulting in foreign participation on the market
Friday, 03 September 2010 18:25
I READ with shame, as a fellow lawyer, the comments attributed to Johannes
Tomana, the current holder of the office of the Attorney-General (AG), in
the Zimbabwe Independent last week dismissing an MDC-T document detailing
close to 200 politically-related murders committed during the countdown to
the June 2008 presidential-election run-off.
It reinforced a view held by many that he is not suitable for the office he
was appointed to and that he has by his declarations and by his conduct
reinforced the view that his political affiliation has rendered him unfit
for the office.
When an office such as that of AG receives complaints of uninvestigated and
unprosecuted cases of alleged murders, he has a duty to investigate and take
appropriate action before going to the media describing such a complaint as
“a love letter”.
It is callous and shameful for anyone to dismiss crimes this serious with
the kind of contemptuous politically laced language that oozes from the
story that was in the Independent.
I truly hoped that he could and should have found language and a response
more in keeping with the seriousness, judiciousness, dignity and
impartiality expected of the holder of his important office.
It is a fact known to him that none of the deaths listed have been
investigated and charges laid. It is also a fact that in many of the cases
the alleged killers and torturers are known and have been named. What has
not happened is impartial and professional investigation.
In terms of Section 76 (1) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe the AG shall be
“the principal advisor to the Government”.
He is specifically excluded from Public Service membership to give his
office independence. He obviously has many to convince that he is
In terms of the constitution, the AG must take an oath of loyalty and office
which bind him to “…be faithful and bear true allegiance to Zimbabwe and
observe the laws of Zimbabwe” and to “well and truly serve Zimbabwe in the
office of Attorney-General”.
This excludes allegiance to a political party.
In terms of Section 76 (4): “The Attorney-General shall have power in any
case in which he considers it desirable so to do… to institute and undertake
criminal proceedings before any court”. What this gives him is power to
prosecute any case without legal hindrance.
In terms of Section 76 (4a): “The Attorney-General may require the
Commissioner-General of Police to investigate and report to him on any
matter which, in the Attorney-General’s opinion, relates to any criminal
offence or alleged or suspected criminal offence, and the
Commissioner-General of Police shall comply with that requirement.” (This
goes back to 1989 and was last amended in 2007 by Amendment No 18).
The AG has routinely refused to exercise this power despite many demands by
lawyers acting for complainants and concerned NGOs.
The case of Tomana’s refusal to prosecute Jane Mutasa and at the same time
refusing to issue a certificate which would entitle the complainant to
institute a private prosecution is a recent example.
As is clear from Section 76 subsection 4(c), the AG has the power on his own
and in the case of a reasonable complaint, I submit, he has an obligation to
require the Commissioner-General of the Police to investigate and report on
any matter of alleged criminal offence. The Commissioner-General has no
discretion once required by the AG.
It being clear that the AG has the power and that two years on, victims of
crimes have not seen justice, it is tragic that a complaint as serious as
the one served on the AG triggers a partisan, contemptuous and politically
When he spoke as he did, Tomana would have been well aware of the provisions
of the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
When he mocked the complaints filed by the MDC in respect of the alleged
murders of about 200 people, he too would have been well aware of the above
quoted provisions of the Constitution of Zimbabwe. It is not a light
decision to seek the AG’s intervention, because of his publicly avowed
political allegiance, but while he holds the office of AG, he has a
constitutional duty to abide by the functions of his office.
In conclusion it must be said that the quoted responses hardly answer the
complainants in fact or in law. It is hard to characterise this behaviour
without degenerating into political insults typical of Zimbabwean politics.
As a professional one can only be embarrassed to the point of simply
saying –– what a shame! Zimbabwe has sunk very low over the years, I never
realised how low till I read this sad synopsis of utterances by the AG. Very
Bere is a lawyer in Harare and a member and holder of office in many
organisations. His views in this article are personal.
Friday, 03 September 2010 18:24
MUCKRAKER noted with interest reference by a columnist in a recent edition
of NewsDay to the embourgeoisement of Zimbabwe's military elite.
This in turn reminded us of an obituary of General Peter Walls who was
deported from the country by the Mugabe regime in its early days of power
following alleged complicity in a plot against the new government.
The obit pointed out that Walls was so reduced in circumstances in his last
days, occupying a smallholding in the Cape, that his wife had to take up
caring for the elderly in the UK in order for them to make ends meet.
The obit writer compared the fate of Walls to the wealth of Zimbabwe's
current generals who own farms and properties which they have acquired as a
result of their political connections.
One of those who did well because of his connections was buried at his rural
home over the weekend. While we will not speak ill of the dead, we need to
remind ourselves of those who abused the War Victims Compensation Fund to
get rich quick.
Then there were those who dodged prosecution by joining the Zimbabwe High
Commission staff in Canada.
Some of us recall the story of a diplomat there who savagely beat his
daughter and, despite claiming diplomatic privilege, was booted out of the
This all comes to mind because Grace Mugabe was quoted as saying her
brother, Reward Marufu, deserved to be declared a national hero, while
General Constantine Chiwenga described Marufu as "a gallant soldier who
respected the core values that define our motherland".
Indeed, he reminded us exactly what those values are. for many in the ruling
elite. Marufu was in 1997 arraigned before the Chidyausiku Commission to
testify in response to charges that he defrauded the War Victims
Compensation Fund. In his recommendations to the state to charge Marufu for
fraud, Chidyausiku said the president's brother-in-law had used false
documents to apply for compensation.
He was promptly posted to Canada as a diplomat.
Back in Zimbabwe in 2002 he seized Leopard's Vlei, a large-scale commercial
farm near Glendale, north of Harare, according to a local website.
The writer of the Herald's Nathaniel Manheru column evidently has little
time for the custom of not speaking ill of the dead. He had this to say in
reference to Gibson Sibanda last weekend.
Describing the MDC as a "quisling party", he said the role the MDC had
played since 1999 "was and remains ignoble and treacherous".
"It is a role that saw the MDC, led by Sibanda and Tsvangirai, fighting the
return of the land, taking money from sponsors of Rhodesia which resisted
and killed those lying at Heroes Acre."
Sibanda didn't try and take money from the War Victims Compensation Fund. He
didn't beat his children. He didn't seize farms. He served the cause of
liberation, like Joshua Nkomo, in the railway trade unions which were the
foundation of the nationalist struggle.
What contribution to the liberation of this country did Manheru make?
Marufu, and Hitler Hunzvi who signed Marufu's disability form, are good
examples of the "heroes" Manheru obviously admires.
We liked the Herald heading "President Scoffs at land appeals".
Doesn't he scoff at most things including respect for the rule of law?
Shouldn't he, with regard to the Sadc Tribunal, be following the advice of
his Namibian colleagues by demonstrating that Zimbabwe is a country that
allows its citizens to appeal for justice through the courts? Why should he
be the only person to have rights?
Let's remind ourselves of what Hage Geingob had to say on the issue of the
"When the ruling was made from here about the farmers people were saying
'the Windhoek ruling' as if Windhoek owns the Sadc Tribunal.
"The court is your court that is based here," he told Sadc leaders.
"We signed the Sadc Treaty. Zimbabwe signed, and if you sign there are
obligations that come with signing and we will say this to Zimbabwe, but
diplomatically of course."
So, it seems, Zimbabwe's stance did not go unchallenged. Are Manheru and
Tafataona Mahoso aware of this?
Mugabe has also been "scoffing" at advocates of gay rights. He took the
visit of the wholly unknown Anglican Bishop Walter Roberto Crespo from
Ecuador, to denounce homosexuality as "dirt" and "filth". President Mugabe
was "revered" in Ecuador we were told. We wonder how many Ecuadorians have
actually heard of him?
Present at this celebration of mutual bigotry was none other than
"Archbishop" Nolbert Kunonga, Zanu PF's Anglican agent.
The president's remarks contrast with those of Rwanda's foreign minister.
She said that her government will not enact laws which discriminate against
Muckraker noted a few weeks ago that Rwanda had joined the Commonwealth and
speculated what the government in Kigali might do to annoy the hell out of
Now we know.
Speaking on August 4 in London, Rwandan foreign minister Louise Mushikiwabo
said that "acceptance and tolerance" were among the basic principles of the
government following the 1994 genocide in which about 800 000 people were
killed within a few weeks.
"It is not for our government to decide on matters of sexual preference,"
Mushikiwabo said in answer to a question from ENInews. "Gays and lesbians in
Rwanda are citizens like anybody else. It is the official position. We are
on the record as a government that will not discriminate against anybody for
their sexual preference."
Bishop Richard Holloway, the former leader of the Scottish Episcopal
(Anglican) Church, who has publicly supported religious and political rights
for gay people, told ENInews the statement is "good news".
"Whole societies, as well as religions, can so easily be taken over" by
extremists, said Holloway.
Britain, we read, has raised four billion dollars for its Pakistan relief
fund. This is a noble project given the floods that have inundated the
country causing widespread misery as crops and livestock are destroyed.
But has anybody pointed out that the Pakistan government is unable to assist
its own people because huge sums have been spent on the country's nuclear
Nowhere has this been said. Nor has the salient point been made that
Pakistan's population at Independence from Britain in 1947 was 34 million.
Today it is 175 million.
The big issue of this century will be that of people vs resources, not Zanu
PF vs the MDC!
Only seven weeks ago South Africans were celebrating their successful
hosting of the World Cup. In particular they were pointing to their national
example of harmony. Now just a few weeks later they are engulfed in division
and strife. Newspapers and TV stations have reported nurses and doctors
being violently evicted from operating theatres while volunteers, saving the
lives of new-born babies, have been assaulted by striking workers.
It is not a pretty picture. And newspapers who were only recently
congratulating their country on a great achievement have been humbled.
We don't take pleasure -- schadenfreude is the word - in any of this. But it
does underline the need for media workers to be sceptical of messages they
are sold, especially when they involve rose-tinted spectacles! Meanwhile if
South Africa is to avoid Zimbabwe's fate on the media front, the ANC's
attempts to obscure its career in corruption by introducting a statutory
media appeals tribunal and Protection of Information Bill need to be
contested on all fronts.
Cosatu general secretary Zwelenzima Vavi warned South Africans that: "We are
heading in the direction of a full-blown predator state in which a powerful,
corrupt and demagogic elite of political hyenas increasingly controls the
state as a vehicle for accumulation."
In Zimbabwe, elements in the transitional government are actively blocking
attempts to promote media freedom in the country, ensuring that Zimbabweans
are "overfed on government propaganda", a report by Gender-Links, published
Describing the country's media landscape as a "wasteland", the report,
Taking Stock: Southern Africa Media Progress Study (Zimbabwe), said the
publicly-funded media was not fulfilling its mandate because of political
"Zimbabweans remain overfed on government propaganda," the report says.
"The country's media wasteland is further demonstrated by the fact that
though Zimbabwe's constitution guarantees all citizens the right to freedom
of expression and information the public media is still shackled to
political control, still enjoys a de facto monopoly of the news market and
presents a narrow perspective of the Zimbabwean story, in complete violation
of their mandate to serve all shades of national opinion."
As Unesco today hosts an important media conference, the first such meeting
since Kariba, we can only agree with this disturbing conclusion.
The whole nation was given a good laugh by the lead letter in Tuesday's
Herald. It was headed "Don't use funerals for politicking" and was signed
"Mwana Wevhu". It should of course have been signed "hypocrite".
Finally, here's a Confucian thought: A Lion will not betray his wife but a
Friday, 03 September 2010 18:22
SPEAKING at last week’s opening of the 100th Harare Agriculture Show,
President Robert Mugabe said that “financial support for the agricultural
sector remains a sore challenge, with limited resources being availed as
costly agricultural loans”. He continued: “Thus, the need for properly
planned agricultural financing still calls on all of us to put our heads
together and come up with appropriate strategies and solutions.”
The reality is that the creation of viable financing for agriculture is
almost entirely in the hands of government. That does not imply that
government must provide the funding (in its bankrupt state it would be
unable to do so). But the creation of an enabling environment, which would
make ready access to funding for agriculture possible, lies firmly and
squarely in government’s hands, and it should not seek to abdicate its
responsibility to do so by striving to place the onus upon others. If
government would urgently and constructively modify the disastrous
agricultural and economic policies which it had myopically pursued for most
of the past decade, the financing required to ensure a virile agricultural
sector would progressively become readily available.
First and foremost, government needs to adjust its land reform programme and
attendant policies for, more than any other factor, those policies are the
greatest constraint upon accessing funding for agriculture. As if it did
not suffice for the state to destructively expropriate all land in
contemptuous disregard for property rights (in many instances for
commitments under Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements),
it then speciously claimed to issue 99-year leases to “new farmers”.
However, whilst several thousands received and accepted 99-year lease offer
letters, to date only an estimated 128 farmers have actually received
written leases, although great numbers have settled on the offered land.
Moreover, although the issued leases are stated to last for 99 years,
government retains a right to terminate them upon three months’ notice.
Thus most of the farmers have no written assurances of continuing occupancy
and usage of the land, and the few that do are at risk of losing that
occupancy and usage at short notice.
This negative state is markedly worsened by the fact that the rights of
occupancy and usage, whether documented by leases or not, are
non-transferable. As a result, the farmers cannot avail themselves of their
land as collateral security to support borrowings of the working capital
that is a prerequisite for the productive usage of the land. This is
catastrophic as, on the one hand, lenders invariably require security for
funds advanced, and very few of the “new farmers” have any resources which
they can utilise as security. If government wishes its land reform to
succeed, it must forthwith issue leases to all that it has accorded usage of
the land, which leases must endure for 99 years under all circumstances
other than in the event of non-remedied defaults by the occupant.
In addition, the leases should be freely transferable and negotiable, save
and except for restriction that the recipient must not already be a farm
lessor (pursuant to the principle of “one man, one farm”!). If leases are
properly documented, of genuine 99-year tenure and capable of cession and
transfer, they become tangible collateral to support borrowings. This gives
the new farmers some opportunity to obtain desperately needed capital to
fund inputs, operating costs and, in some instances, essential farm
development and acquisition of equipment and implements.
While addressing the capital needs of the farmers, government must make it
possible for the financial sector to obtain the funding required to service
those needs. Zimbabwe’s money markets are catastrophically lacking in
resources. To a major extent, the magnitude of non-availability of funds in
the banks, building societies and other financial institutions is due to the
constrained state of the economy, and is intensified by a wideranging
(although mainly unjustified) concern amongst the populace as to security of
funds placed with those institutions. As a result many businesses and
individuals are holding funds in their businesses and homes. However, to an
even greater extent, the lack of money market funding is due to the
miniscule extent of international lines of credit, matched by an
insufficiency in foreign investment, and by the relatively minimal extent of
Zimbabwean export proceeds generation.
The near-total absence of international lines of credit, and the low levels
of foreign investment are almost wholly because of the perceptions, beyond
Zimbabwe’s borders, that security of loans and investments is limited. That
sense of insecurity is founded upon pronounced concerns that there is
ongoing political instability, that the economy is not only adversely
affected by destructive government policies, but also by grievous
inadequacies in utility service delivery by parastatals and local
authorities. Investment security is endangered by legislation prescribing
mandatory disinvestment to an extent of forfeiture of investment control.
In addition, there are fears of government recourse, yet again, to excessive
economic regulation and control.
Revitalisation of the money market and hence creation of access to
much-needed working capital for mining, manufacturing, tourism and the
distributive and service sectors necessitates that all outstanding issues of
the GPA be unreservedly implemented. Concurrently, the indigenisation and
economic empowerment legislation requires substantive amendment, according
investors with a credible sense of investment security. In addition,
government must speedily and vigorously pursue its recently reiterated
privatisation intent, wholly or partially, of parastatals, so as to access
working capital and technological skills critical for the revitalisation of
Of equal urgency is that government ceases its endless berating of Western
countries, restoring harmonious interactions and relationships with those
countries. This will facilitate access to much-needed developmental aid.
Linked to that repair of the impaired relationship of Zimbabwe with the
international community is the need for Zimbabwe to acknowledge liabilities
in terms of Bippas.
Government must also swallow its misplaced pride, seeking debt relief and
rescheduling under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries conventions, in order
to address its cripplingly accumulated debt of more than US$5,7 billion,
thereby restoring access to funding from the Bretton Woods institutions
including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.
Friday, 03 September 2010 18:20
BUSINESS Leadership South Africa takes as its departure point that freedom
of the press is the lifeblood of both markets and democracies and the free
dissemination of information and debate of opinion are the bedrock of a free
The media play a key role in democracies of holding to account all actors in
society, from both the public and private sector, including business.
It is for this reason that media freedom is enshrined in the South African
Two instruments have been proposed by the African National Congress (ANC) to
deal with perceived shortcomings of the media and access to sensitive
information. The media appeals tribunal and the Protection of Information
At present, the tribunal is an idea proposed in a resolution of the ANC's
Polokwane conference in 2007. The resolution calls for an investigation of
the establishment of such a body.
It also directs that the investigation "consider the desirability that such
a (tribunal) be a statutory institution, established through an open, public
and transparent process, and be made accountable to parliament".
The idea of a statutory body, created by law and appointed by the political
executive raises the prospect of a media answerable to political bosses.
The necessary tension between media and politics is well illustrated by the
recent exposure (using leaked documents) by a single newspaper of British
parliamentary expense abuses.
If that paper were "answerable to parliament", the exposure may very well
never have happened.
The balancing of freedom of expression with the rights of both governments
and citizens is not easy. There are other areas of society where similar
difficult balances must be struck.
As president Jacob Zuma noted in his recent weekly letter: "All
institutions, even parliament, have mechanisms in place to keep them in
check. Almost all professions have similar mechanisms from teachers to
architects, doctors, engineers, politicians, lawyers and others."
Indeed, South Africa has a rich tradition of self-regulation, rather than
statutory regulation. The models of self-regulation vary. In some cases, the
regulators are appointed by the industry or profession itself; in others
they are fully independent of the parties being regulated, as in the case of
the ombudsman for the life insurance industry.
The press council has the job of ensuring that the print media abide by a
detailed code of conduct, and offer adequate redress to parties when
newspapers have not observed this code.
Equally, the Protection of Information Bill does not have the checks and
balances that other democracies have in dealing with the question of
sensitive public information, and the definition of key concepts - such as
the national interest - is so wide as to allow all tiers of the government
to keep from public scrutiny any information that they wish.
The government has just launched a commendable initiative to root out
corruption in the public sector. However, this cannot and will not be
successful unless it is subjected to public scrutiny, with the media playing
a central role.
Business should be, and is, subjected to the same scrutiny as the public
sector - whether it be for competition offences, unethical behaviour,
corrupt tendering or abuse of black economic empowerment. Business leaders
are just as tempted to avoid scrutiny and are often as angry and frustrated
by poor or inaccurate media coverage.
However, they are no more justified than their public-sector counterparts in
shooting the messenger.
US Ambassador to South Africa, Donald Gips, has reminded us of US president
Barack Obama's recent remarks to the Young African Leaders Forum: "One of
the wonderful things about the US is that . there are often times when I get
frustrated, when I think I know more than some of my critics. Yet, we have
institutionalised the notion that those critics have every right to
criticise me, no matter how unreasonable I think they may be."
As business leaders, we are opposed to media supervision or regulation in
which the government or parliament is involved. Print media in South Africa,
as is the case in most industrial democracies, should regulate themselves.
But we would like to hear the print media acknowledge that they could do a
much better job of it and make concrete proposals in this regard. Reporting
standards are often poor and the print media's capacity for introspection is
Newspapers seem unaware of the personal damage and pain that inaccurate
reporting can cause, especially to people who cannot easily defend
themselves in public.
In South Africa's young democracy, the risks of the statutory control of the
media seem unacceptably high. We would urge both politicians and the media
to debate the existing system of self-regulation and how this could be made
more effective. Precisely to build on the spirit of national unity evident
during the Fifa World Cup, this debate needs to clearly affirm the freedoms
enshrined in our constitution and seek systems of accountability and
responsibility fully consistent with these freedoms.
The proposed media appeals tribunal and the excessively restrictive clauses
in the Protection of Information Bill are not good starting points for this
debate, and they should be withdrawn.
A second public controversy that has invited the doomsayers back to our
shores has arisen around disputes in the awards of mining licences. As with
media regulation, the issues here are complex. The law provides for
different licences in respect of mineral products. Often the process of
mining does not. This is a complexity present in all mineral rights
The process of converting old order rights to new order rights has added to
this complexity and has also imposed a huge administrative burden on the
Department of Mineral Resources.
The controversy over the allocation of prospecting rights has undermined the
sense of investment security - not just in mining, but in the country as a
What is needed in mining, as with all sectors of our economy, is a clear and
transparent set of rules, applied consistently with disputes (which are
inevitable) resolved relatively quickly and transparently through our
The move of the Department of Mineral Resources to clarify the law, and also
review administrative processes will, with full industry and stakeholder
involvement, move us in this direction.
All countries face the problem of avoiding, detecting, exposing and
punishing corruption all the time. Corruption is a cancer that undermines
public morality and destroys the competence of and confidence in public
institutions. Corruption begins when citizens - individual and corporate -
offer to reward political interference in public administration.
There is much that governments can and must do to prevent this.
However, an at least equal responsibility rests on the shoulders of citizens
not to seek such influence.
l Spicer is CEO and Godsell is chairman of Business Leadership SA. --
Friday, 03 September 2010 18:17
NEXT week by September 8 most of Zimbabwe’s next generation will have
started the final school term of the year. For a good number of parents that
may have managed to make enough savings to, at least, pay part of the School
Development Association/Committee levies, it should be a family affair. But
for those who have not managed, it will be a negotiated or highly indebted
For this, the reasons will be many. The national salary scales for civil
servants would be the most prevalent, while other reasons may put the blame
on irresponsible parenthood and an increasing lack of family/social values.
The key matter however is that the education system in Zimbabwe is still on
the verge of total collapse. And the government is being dishonest about
handling this serious national problem.
The responsible ministers in the inclusive government will probably avoid
blame and point to the downturn of the national economy in the last 10 years
as a primary cause for the chaotic nature of our education system. They
will —as they have done in some instances — argue that indeed the situation
is better than what was obtaining by 2007 with students being turned away
from schools. This may be true enough but that was only symptomatic of the
real cause of the problem which was and still remains the lack of a coherent
and a welfarist government national education policy.
Policy documents that the ministries of Education, Higher and Tertiary
Education or even the Ministry of Science and Technology have do not point
to the fundamental importance of government ensuring education for all.
Instead, the template that they have returned to is one that was arrived at
under the auspices of various ministers of Finance as well as Education
between the years 1990 and 2006. These templates essentially pointed to
state disinvestment from education in favour of privatised education.
The current responsible ministries have decided that a return to the past is
their panacea to our education problem. Their keenness on outsourcing the
education of the country’s children to School Development Associations or
semi-private college/university boards, which are in and of themselves a
form of both commercialisation as well as privatisation of our education
system, is astonishing.
Had it been that this was permitted where mainly the affluent of society
sought to set up private school associations and committees, it would be
well and good. The difference is that it has begun to affect all sectors of
society to the extent that it is increasingly strangling access to education
for Zimbabwe’s next generation, especially for those that come from
marginalised or poorer components of our society. And the ministries
responsible no longer question either the political legitimacy or public
acceptance of the process of this hidden privatisation of the right to
education that is implied in progressive international treaties that are
domestically ratified by our parliament.
There are now so many incidents and stories of children dropping out of
early secondary level education due to the intransigence of SDAs and
Ministry of Education officials. Many job application curriculum vitaes end
at either only a grade seven or form two formal educational qualification.
Where they advance further it is at great expense to the parent/taxpayer
with minimal, if any, state input. Where the government has reverted to the
Basic Education Assistance Model (Beam), the resources placed there have
been sparse even for the orphaned as had been originally intended.
In state-owned higher education institutions such as the polytechnic,
teacher training colleges and universities, the focus on the pocket of the
parent is now glaringly apparent. The administrations of these ostensibly
government-owned institutions have decided to literary milk the academic
ambitions of many young minds with impunity. It borders on emotional
blackmail to charge an average of US$600 in academic fees for college
students, many of whom come from the lower income bracket of our society.
Some may argue that indeed the SDA and the pocket of the parent must always
be seen to be playing a greater role in the education of children. This
would be fine were Zimbabwe a stable society. What is being missed by many
in government, civil society and SDAs is that a country without a firm
education system that is grounded in the principle of access for all, will
remain patently unequal and exploited. It will also border on not having a
clear plan for generations to come.
The point is not to have the state declaring every student its own. It is
instead imperative that the state provide for education across all levels,
especially in the midst of the breakdown of the education system. Those
parents that can afford to pay the exorbitant fees of the SDAs or the truly
private schools may retain their option of doing so. Those that cannot
should not be left to chance because if they are, they will take the easier
route which is to take their children out of school and send them to the
mining fields of Chiadzwa or elsewhere.
The relevant ministries that deal with our education system, in tandem with
parliament, need to declare that all education, at least up to the initial
tertiary level, is free. They need to reassess the methodology of teaching
and resource availability at all state-owned educational institutions and
desist from over politicising a matter that will affect our country’s next
generation. It’s not only about past mistakes; it is about the future of the
Friday, 03 September 2010 18:33
THE increase in the price of bread over the past week reflects the way
Zimbabwe is falling into line with international developments on the world
market. By responding to developments in Russia, where about a third of that
country's wheat crop was wiped out by the worst drought in a century,
Zimbabwean millers and bakers have illustrated that Zimbabwe does not exist
in a vacuum, but conforms to international trends, contrary to the "let me
keep my Zimbabwe" mantra.
Russia, the major exporter of the grain, is selling only limited quantities
to prevent inflation and ensure supplies for its citizens and livestock. The
ban and drought in the neighbouring Black Sea region countries, Ukraine and
Kazakhstan, sent wheat prices to a two-year high of nearly US$8 a bushel,
from just about US$4,50 in early June. The drought is a temporary phenomenon
whose end should see the prices easing, in a normal economy.
However, the behaviour of the bakers and millers fell short of international
standards when they seemed to mimic the dreaded and despised price cartels
that have in the past been accused of influencing increases in prices of
basic commodities, which invariably play a big role in pushing up the food
price index, one of the indicators in determining inflation.
By ganging up against consumers to announce the bread price increase,
players in the industry exhibited some kind of oligopoly that is not
acceptable in liberalised economies where business entities are supposed to
compete. Their behaviour gives the impression that bakers and millers in the
country have similar production costs and therefore an increase in the price
of flour justifies connivance. It is common cause that business executives
are able to manipulate their cost structures so that they remain on top of
the game in the dog-eat-dog world of business.
Although the National Incomes and Pricing Commission has already raised
concern about the possible manipulation of the effects of the Russian
factor, it is surprising that the Competition and Tariffs Commission has
said nothing on the issue. Although the commission has done a good job on
entities such as Zesa, which stood accused of fleecing its customers, it
should act swiftly in investigating such bread-and-butter issues as this
oligopoly. If indeed it was necessary to increase the price, consumers
should have seen a struggle for market domination through the implementation
of different cost structures.
If the competition commission does not send a clear message to the business
community, this trend is likely to be repeated in other sectors such as
those dealing in oil products, where the price fluctuates. It is the duty of
these commissions to protect the public from abuse and ensure that where
business people use international events to justify price increases, the
same should apply when the international prices drop. Zimbabweans will not
forget that bakers used the Russian drought as an excuse for increasing
prices. When the situation stabilises in Russia, they will expect the price
to go down and this should apply to all like-minded entrepreneurs.
Friday, 03 September 2010 18:32
LOOKING at the country's indigenisation policy, especially the
Indigenisation and Empowerment Act, leaves one with a feeling of having
experienced déjà vu of some sort. It is an Act that aims to put into effect
a policy which on the surface sounds good, but the goodness is only in the
sound as the implementation would expose what the actual aim was in the
Post-Independence Zimbabwe has witnessed a number of high-sounding policies
which have been used as window-dressing by politicians and those in high
places to grab material benefits from ordinary Zimbabweans, who should be
War veterans would bear testimony to this after the War Victims Compensation
Fund only benefited the chefs, the Low Income Housing Fund was used to build
mansions for top politicians and civil servants and at the turn of the
century the "land hungry" peasants were used to drive away commercial
farmers, making way for the chefs who now occupy the most fertile land.
Most peasants are yet to reach the promised land, yet others are already
enjoying the benefits. The same administration which promulgated these
policies and laws came up with the Indigenisation and Empowerment Act which,
given the trend since Independence, would, without doubt, benefit only a few
There are a number of issues which the Act raises, especially after the
gazetting of the Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment (General)
Regulations earlier this year. One question is who qualifies to be an
indigenous Zimbabwean? According to the Act, an indigenous Zimbabwean is
defined as: "any person who, before the 18th April, 1980, was disadvantaged
by unfair discrimination on the grounds of his or her race, and any
descendent of such person, and includes any company, association, syndicate
or partnership of which indigenous Zimbabweans form the majority of the
members or hold the controlling interest."
If you do not fit this grid and you have a company capitalised above US$500
000, then be prepared to lose more than half (51%) of the stake to those who
were previously disadvantaged.
Apart from the semantics of disposing, ceding or selling, if one looks at it
from the point of view of those who are supposed to benefit, it is clear
that the majority are not in a position to buy any stake. Zimbabwe has no
solid middle class with the capacity to purchase such companies. Civil
servants usually constitute the middle class of a nation but in Zimbabwe
they have been reduced to levels lower than shop floor factory workers in
terms of salaries. Thus, if these regulations are implemented, a legitimate
question has to be asked: Who will buy? And one need not be a business
studies professor to see that it is a very small clique which benefited from
the deregulation of the economy in the 1990s and the mad quasi-fiscal
intervention of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe between 2004 and 2008. It would
be another public policy for private gain. Already the sharks are smelling
blood and the Kingdom Meikles saga has presented an ominous rehearsal of
what is likely to happen as the politicians take a political position and
then struggle to stretch the country's laws to justify such actions. Which
other company is going to face the same fate we wonder?
It is clear that the indigenisation of the economy, something that has been
on the lips of the administration for so long, means nothing more than
legitimising the reaping of assets by a clique which has been getting the
biggest share of the post-Independence cake. There have been amendments to
the regulations since February this year but this has been a mere fig leaf
as what people want is a transparent implementation of the policy. This
would address issues of who qualifies to be indigenous, what percentage has
to be disposed, what is in store for the communities and who is going to buy
As it stands, policy makers have been the major beneficiaries of various
policies in post-Independent Zimbabwe, and the indigenisation policy could
be joining the growing list. It needs to be cleansed from such manipulation
through establishing respected bodies to deal with all issues which are
likely to arise. Zimbabweans have been taken for granted for too long and
they want an assurance that the policy will benefit them and not those
As it stands, there is every reason to take these regulations as nothing
more than another strategy to further enrich the chefs and the fat cats who
have been plundering the country at tremendous cost to national development.
Friday, 03 September 2010 18:27
IT is a hard feeling to think of coalition government partners as Zimbabwe’s
most dishonest citizens.
These are three men who run the affairs of the country. The fortunes of
millions of Zimbabweans depend on their goodwill. Yet events time and again
force back the view that indeed these men are more economic with the truth
than some of the citizens spending time in the hell that Zimbabwe’s jails
The Sadc heads of state summit that ended in Namibia last month is a case in
Both President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s parties
celebrated the breakthrough when mediator Jacob Zuma tabled a report showing
that they had agreed to 24 of the 27 disputed issues. A 30-day
implementation matrix to give effect to the agreements was the supposed
“We would like to express our gratitude to the leadership of Sadc, the
vision of the facilitator and the Sadc secretariat,” was MDC-T
secretary-general Tendai Biti’s response to the Sadc resolutions on
Zimbabwe. “The people of Zimbabwe have long suffered and quest for real
change. The Sadc roadmap is an excellent foundational stone towards the
fulfillment of this vision,”
Mugabe’s party expressed similar hope that Sadc had finally unlocked the
Weeks after the summit, and with no movement to show implementation of any
of the agreed positions, the parties have changed their tune. Before the ink
on the Sadc resolutions has dried, signs are that the implementation matrix
will not get serious attention.
Tsvangirai is disputing that he agreed to contents of a letter he is
supposedly party to and on whose basis Zuma compiled his report. He rejects
the contention that the text binds him to an agreement that ties the
appointment of multi-party provincial governors to the lifting of sanctions.
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, who penned the disputed letter on
behalf of the three principals insists the premier did see a copy of the
letter and agreed to the provisions.
Mugabe, on his side, has told his party members he will not give in to any
further power-sharing concessions before the lifting of sanctions imposed on
his family, and political and business associates by Western countries.
“As Zanu PF we have no intention of reneging on
our commitment to the GPA. But as you all
know, we have a resolution passed at the 2009 congress which says the party
must not move an inch until sanctions are removed. Sanctions should go
before we discuss the issue of governors,” Mugabe told members of his
central committee, barely a week after the Sadc summit.
So Zuma’s report is out of the window. It was all a farce to excite
Zimbabweans and regional leaders about agreements which in essence are
non-existent. Zimbabweans, aware that continued power-sharing disputes are
dragging their lives down, are not sure who to believe. The cost of this
bickering to the economy is staggering.
Unlike the politicians, the economy does not lie. Jobs are being lost.
Financial institutions, including the central bank, have shown the most
visible appetite for retrenchments. The political environment should be
stable and predictable for them to attract foreign money and grow the larger
Banks’ financial statements for the half-year ending June 30 reveal the
margin of this cost. The economy, which promised recovery in response to the
early confidence ushered by the formation of the coalition administration,
is grinding to a halt because government has become moribund.
Investors are still waiting on the edge, uncertain about how the unstable
politics might affect their money if they dash in.
“Many companies are still faced with a number of viability challenges. The
country is struggling to shake off the international perception on Zimbabwe’s
perceived risk profile. The country’s inability to tap into the global
capital markets for the much needed external lines of credit means that a
sizeable number of companies have been deprived of the much-needed long-term
funding for retooling purposes,” said BancABC in its 2010 first-half report.
“As a result, the local industries have struggled to increase their capacity
utilisation beyond the prevailing levels of 30-40%,” said BancABC.
These are the harsh realities that coalition government principals have
chosen to ignore. An election is not on the horizon, at least not next year
despite public posturing by both Mugabe and Tsvangirai. What it means:
Zimbabwe is stuck with this crop of lying leaders for a while.