Zimbabwe Farmers Pessimistic as Planting Season Opens
with Dzarira Kwenda Listen
to Interview with Dzarira Kwenda Interview
with Nyika Musiyazviriyo Listen
to Interview with Nyika Musiyazviriyo
Zimbabwe’s agricultural community is concerned shortages of seed, fertilizer
and fuel pose a serious threat to the planting season now at hand, while aid
organizations are worried that Harare is not responding fast enough to a looming
The planting season for tobacco – traditionally a key cash crop for Zimbabwe
– has just started, while those for maize and other staple crops begin next
But agricultural experts say that with critical inputs in short supply and in
some areas unavailable, there is no guarantee that food production in 2005-2006
will meet the country’s needs and could be even more disappointing than last
This week farming organizations, seed growers and fertilizer manufacturers
met with the parliament’s committee on agriculture. One member of the committee
told VOA that the main concern for all parties a critical shortage of foreign
exchange, without which the sector cannot secure essential materials to get its
crops in the ground.
Reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA’s Studio 7 for Zimbabwe asked Dzarira
Kwenda, executive director of the Zimbabwe Farmers Union for his assessment of
the coming agricultural season under the current difficult circumstances.
Humanitarian agencies and organizations, meanwhile, say the government must
take urgent action to fend off a looming food security crisis.
The World Food Program said in July that it might need to provide food to
about 4 million people in Zimbabwe next year, while the Zimbabwe Vulnerability
Assessment Committee estimates that nearly 3 million people or 36% of the
country’s rural population will need outside food aid.
The government has announced its intention to import 1.2 million metric tons
of maize, Zimbabwe’s staple food. But deputy director Nyika Musiyazviriyo of
Christian Care, the country’s main local aid provider, says the population’s
need is already urgent.
On a brighter note, Mr. Musiyazviriyo told Studio 7 reporter Ndimyake
Mwakalyele that 37 tonnes of maize and other food donated by the South African
Council of Churches is finally on its way to Zimbabwe after being held up for a
month by red tape imposed by Harare officials, including the testing of maize
for genetic modification.
Zimbabwean harvest crisis looms
ZIMBABWE is facing its worst agricultural season since
independence in 1980, farmers and other experts are warning.
shortages of seed, fertiliser and other agricultural goods are threatening next
year's harvest before it has even been planted, according to evidence presented
to parliament's agriculture committee. Fertiliser companies have reported empty
warehouses, while the Zimbabwe Seed Traders Association said there were only
26,000 tons of maize seed in the country, just over half what is needed.
Agricultural Dealers and Manufacturers' Association has run out of some types of
ploughing equipment for the first time in its history and there are key
shortages of irrigation piping, pumps, pesticides and other chemicals.
Walter Mzembi, chairman of the agriculture committee, said: "The information
given simply shows that there is no season."
The seizure of thousands of
white-owned commercial farms for redistribution to black Zimbabweans, combined
with years of drought, have crippled the country's economy. The United Nations
estimates that about four million people will need food aid before the next
'Millions lacking food' in Africa
Oxfam starts delivering food
to Malawi this week
Ten million people are facing food shortages in southern
Africa later this year, the charity Oxfam has warned.
Zambia, and Zimbabwe are among the countries threatened after the poorest
harvest in the region since 1992.
The charity says urgent action is needed
to avoid a repeat of the famine in Niger, which was foreseen but warnings about
which were ignored.
Oxfam called on rich countries to act now to avert
"Niger was forecast six months in advance, yet rich
countries did almost nothing until the 11th hour, " said Neil Townsend, Oxfam's
regional humanitarian co-ordinator for southern Africa.
"People died as a
direct result and now there is an impending crisis in southern Africa.
situation is very different, but the principle is the same - if rich countries
wait, once again, until TV crews arrive before giving enough money, people in
southern Africa will pay the price of their neglect."
charity, which is beginning food distribution in Malawi this week, is calling
for UN member states to commit an additional $1bn into an UN emergency reserve
fund, on top of their existing aid, so that when a country needs assistance,
money would be available immediately.
A spokesman for the Department for
International Development said minister Hilary Benn was writing to other EU
countries to urge them to respond promptly to any developing crisis.
aware that up to 10.7 million people in Southern Africa are vulnerable to severe
food shortages between now and the harvest in March 2006.
"The DFID has
already provided over £40m of humanitarian relief to Southern African countries
this year and is monitoring the situation closely."
SA loan for Zimbabwe not set in stone - Erwin
September 07 2005 at
Cape Town - No agreement has been reached on South Africa's
proposed $1-billion in financial assistance to Zimbabwe, Public Enterprises
Minister Alec Erwin said on Wednesday.
Erwin said that Finance Minister
Trevor Manuel and Reserve Bank governor Tito Mboweni were involved in "difficult
discussions" that also involved the International Monetary Fund
Erwin told reporters at a financial cluster briefing in Cape Town
that the two countries were still negotiating. The meetings were being held in
Pretoria and Harare.
"However, it is not something South Africa has to
drive," Erwin said.
While it would not be in South Africa's interest to
have a collapsed economy on its borders, he said the initiative in these talks
had to be left to Zimbabwe.
He said if and when an agreement was reached
the basic conditions would be made public, but as in all agreements certain
aspects would be kept secret. He said this was in the interest of market
During another briefing earlier in the day, Foreign Affairs
Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma said as far as she was aware the issue of
financial aid to Zimbabwe had not been finalised.
"As you know, Zimbabwe
has since paid some of the outstanding money (to the IMF). Perhaps this has
altered the situation."
Asked whether South Africa was prepared to
intervene with the IMF on Zimbabwe's behalf, Dlamini-Zuma said it was not
possible to intercede on behalf of a sovereign country, without an agreement
from that country.
"Zimbabwe is a sovereign country - it is not the tenth
province of South Africa," she said. - Sapa
Rich countries ignoring lessons of Niger as southern Africa
faces severe food shortages
Rich countries are failing to learn the lessons of the
Niger food crisis as up to 10 million people in southern Africa face severe food
shortages, said Oxfam today.
Oxfam started distributing food in Malawi this week. An estimated
4 million people in Malawi, 4 million in Zimbabwe, 1 million in Zambia, 400,000
in Mozambique, 500,000 in Lesotho and 200,000 in Swaziland will not have enough
food to eat over the next six months unless help is provided quickly.
The crisis, expected to peak between November and February, is
triggered by lack of rain, but the HIV/AIDS epidemic, enforced economic
liberalization and government policies are among the root causes, according to
Money is desperately needed now from rich countries so that
charities, governments and the UN can prevent the crisis from worsening. Some
donor governments have made significant contributions, however there is still a
huge funding gap.
“Niger was forecast six months in advance, yet rich countries did
almost nothing until the 11th hour. People died as a direct result. Now, there
is an impending crisis in southern Africa. The situation is very different, but
the principle is the same. If rich countries wait, once again, until TV crews
arrive before giving enough money, people in southern Africa will pay the price
of their neglect,” said Neil Townsend, Oxfam’s Regional Humanitarian
Co-ordinator for southern Africa.
Southern Africa is caught in a cycle of deepening poverty. People
in the region are used to coping when rains fail, but are increasingly unable to
do so because of the HIV/AIDS epidemic and other economic factors. A similar
crisis happened in southern Africa in 2002-2003.
“Up to 10 million people are facing severe food shortages in
southern Africa. Some people are already being forced to take their children out
of school so that they can help find food for the family,” added
Townsend. “Unlike Niger, this crisis is about HIV/AIDS as much as drought. Food
is needed now, but the root causes of the crisis, HIV/AIDS and poverty, must
also be tackled.”
Oxfam is also calling today for UN member states to commit an
additional $1 billion into an UN emergency reserve fund on top of their existing
humanitarian aid levels, so that when a country such as those in southern Africa
needs assistance, money would be available immediately.
The emergency fund is on the agenda of the UN Summit in New York
starting on 14 September, which is billed as the biggest meeting of world
leaders in history.
“Rich countries spend $1bn every day on supporting their farmers.
If they pledged the same amount every year to a permanent emergency fund at the
UN, preventable crises like Niger and southern Africa would not happen because
money would be available as soon as a country needed it,” said Townsend.
Oxfam International plans to work in the four most affected
countries: Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Mozambique. In Malawi, Oxfam will help
330,000 people. Food distribution is starting in the country this week. In
Zambia, Oxfam plans to help 80,000 people with food vouchers, drinking water and
help to buy seeds and tools. In Mozambique, Oxfam’s interventions will include
short-term livelihoods support, access to clean water and support to farmers. In
Zimbabwe, Oxfam’s response will start in October, helping 330,000 people through
distributing food, providing seeds and fertilizer, buying new animals and
improving irrigation and drinking water systems.
Zimbabwe anxiously awaits IMF
Harare - Zimbabwe is waiting "with bated
breath" to see if the International Monetary Fund (IMF) decides to expel it this
week, the state-controlled Herald reported on Thursday.
In an editorial
on its business pages, the Herald - which usually reflects the government line -
said Zimbabwe hoped its surprise payment last week of $120 million towards its
debt arrears would persuade the IMF's executive board not to expel
The board is due to meet on Friday.
"We paid. Now we
wait," the Herald said.
"Zimbabwe put aside other beckoning obligations
such as the procurement of fuel and other critical imports to raise money for
the IMF. This should say something to the fund as far as our commitment to
reducing our arrears is concerned," it added.
The struggling southern
African country, which is facing critical shortages of fuel and foreign
currency, owed a total of nearly $300 million in arrears to the IMF before last
week's payment. - Sapa-dpa
Mail & Guardian
Zimbabwe doubles petrol, diesel prices
08 September 2005 08:15
The Zimbabwe government
more than doubled the price of diesel and petrol on Wednesday as critical fuel
shortages persist, state radio reported.
"The pump price of both petrol
and diesel has been increased by more than 130% with immediate effect," the
radio report said.
Petrol will now sell for Z$23 300 (R6,01) a litre, up
from Z$10 000 (R2,50) a litre, while diesel will cost Z$20 800 (R5,31) a litre,
up from Z$9 600 (R2,27).
This latest hike may not, however, be enough to
ease the country's chronic fuel shortages, as the new price remains well below
that being charged on the black market. Petrol sold on the unofficial market
fetches up to Z$45 000 (R11,58) a litre.
Zimbabwe is in the throes of its
worst fuel crisis to date. Many fuel stations have not received supplies for
weeks, and dusty cars wait outside garages in parts of the capital, Harare. --
Mail & Guardian
Police raid Hillbrow immigrants
Stuart Graham | Johannesburg, South
08 September 2005 07:48
Dozens of bleary-eyed
immigrants were marched out of their bedrooms by the police early on Thursday
morning in a raid on what was once an upmarket hotel in Hillbrow.
immigrants, who were from countries such the Democratic Republic of Congo,
Nigeria and Zimbabwe, were herded on to O'Reilley Street outside the Coronia
Gardens building at 3am.
First they were fingerprinted, and then they
were loaded into police vans, headed for the Hillbrow police station.
checked their fingerprints on the electronic database to see if any are wanted
criminals," police spokesperson Inspector Kriban Naidoo said. "Once that is
done, they will be charged and taken to Lindela [the repatriation centre near
Krugersdorp for illegal immigrants]. There are about 34 nationalities living in
The raid came a day after officers from Booysens police
station were shown on a television programme taking bribes to free illegal
Naidoo said the raid was not a public-relations job in
reaction to the footage.
"This raid was planned a long time ago," he
The head of the Hillbrow police station, Director Danie Louw, said
before the raid that gangs are making R345 000 a month from collecting rents
from the building's tenants. The new owner of Coronia Gardens, he said, wants to
bring the building under control.
"This is a lot of money. These guys
aren't going to give up easily," he said.
Two Hillbrow building managers
were assassinated in July by alleged building hijackers.
Louw also warned
the police to be on the lookout for a squint-eyed murder suspect.
stormed throughout the building, kicking down doors and searching rooms. In one
of the rooms, dozens of cockroaches were inside the fridge and on the
Many of the immigrants, who did not have documents, voluntarily
walked down to the building's lobby. Some carried babies and young
One man escaped after jumping out of the first floor of the
building on to a mattress on a roof. Another tried to run past the police, but
was tackled on to the ground and tossed into a police van.
lot of the building, which smelled of urine and had a mountain of trash in the
middle, was also searched. A mattress was stuck in one of the trees outside of
Around the corner, a young man climbed a tree to hide from
"What is he doing?" a police officer asked.
from South Africa, but he is scared of the police," a passer-by
A few blocks away, the police followed up on an
intelligence tip-off about a drug den at the Prospect Place building. Armed with
automatic rifles, police officers climbed several flights of stairs and burst
into a flat.
The flat was empty, but on the floor were hundreds of
packets, razor blades and glass bottles, used when selling cocaine. There were
also bags of bicarbonate of soda and washing powder, which the police say is
used to add quantity to pure cocaine.
Outside, a car hooted
"That's the warning car," one officer said. "There is a
strong communication network here. Information is power in
Outside the building, the police arrested a Zimbabwean man who
was wearing blood-stained denim pants and carrying a revolver.
believe he was involved in a robbery at a supermarket.
night, the police arrested more than 100 illegal immigrants. They confiscated
three unlicensed pistols, a bag filled with Ecstasy, Mandrax and eight cocaine
Four men were arrested for dealing in heroin and marijuana. The
squint-eyed murder suspect was not arrested.
Two South African men, who
pay R18 a day to live at the nearby African Sun building, stood on a street
corner watching the events unfold.
"The police are doing a good job
here," one of the men, named Sipho, said. "These days there aren't as many
gunshots in Hillbrow as there used to be." -- Sapa
Gazette and Herald
Pub's rescuer is toast of village
of Everleigh, near Pewsey, are cock-a-hoop after the Crown Hotel was saved from
conversion to housing.
|TO THE RESCUE: Cyril
Zimbabwe-born entrepreneur Cyril Weinman has taken over the derelict
hotel/restaurant and is in the process of returning it to its former historic
glory with the help of his wife Dawn, sons Wayne and Lance and daughter Tracy.
He said: "It is a lovely old hotel and we want to keep it as a hotel. The
place has had its ups and downs over the years but we want it to become the
centre for community activity as well as attracting passing trade."
Mr Weinman will introduce some Rhodesian cuisine, including the famous braai,
The restaurant will be called the Flame Lily, Zimbabwe's national flower.
The Weinmans are holding an open evening at the Crown on September 15, from
6pm, and hope that local people will have a look around and tell them what they
are looking for in a local pub.
Mr Weinman said: "We don't want to do anything that will upset anybody. So,
if people want live music, we will have it, but if that will annoy the
neighbours it won't be on the menu."
Parish council chairman David Beaton said he and his fellow councillors were
over the moon to have their village pub back.
He said: "We fought very hard against the application for change of use to
housing and had everyone on our side. So we were aghast when the application was
passed at Kennet, by just one vote.
"If this chap's going to make a go of it, he'll get every support from the
local community. It is very good news for Everleigh."
Former proprietor Gary Marlow sued rock star Van Morrison after the Irish
musician cancelled a concert at the Crown at very short notice in August 2002.
The case was dealt with out of court, but the experience led Mr Marlow to
apply for change of use so the pub could be redeveloped for housing.
|Zimbabwe, SA relations in
perspective (Part 3) |
9/8/2005 8:55:02 AM (GMT
AS the discussion
continues, this week I look at the general strategies and tactics used by
apartheid South Africa to ensure continued economic dependence by Southern
Perhaps I should remind my audience that we are still trying to understand
the dynamics at play in the proposed SA loan to Zimbabwe in the context of the
political economy of the region and the historical strategic struggle for
regional hegemony between Zimbabwe and South Africa.
objectives, as identified in the first part, are interlocking and therefore
require a strategic approach to achieving them, and not an episodic tackling of
one incident without regard to the broader picture. SA has traditionally used
several tactical strategies simultaneously or in sequence to achieve its goals
in relation to particular countries or sectors and it has traditionally employed
multi-purpose strategies suitable for furthering several elements of its
strategic goals simultaneously or in sequence.
Historically, and now, SA
does not act in an identical way towards countries in the region. Dominant
strategic elements and tactics differ markedly, and are used in different
combinations. Apartheid SA used a policy of destabilisation which was often
violent as, at its best, it involved use of the military. It is important to
note that not all tools used to preserve politico-economic hegemony were
necessarily violent. The customs union, export credits, and discount rates on
rail traffic are in any normal sense non-violent. But they are all instruments
used to maintain an exploitative regional economic supremacy.
As noted in
the second part to this series last week, the bottom line in blocking the
implementation of SADCC's transport liberation has always been sabotage. Both
SADCC and SA perceived transport to be vital. For SADCC countries, transport was
the key to liberation; to SA, it was a tool for continued domination. SA has
used sustained violence, as well as direct economic means, to ensure that the
transport links to Lobito Bay, Maputo, Beira and Nacala have been intermittently
available, limited in capacity, or closed entirely. The war on the
Beira-Zimbabwe transport links was a manifestation of a war about economics as
well as about politics.
South African political dominance was linked to
economic hegemony in a dual relationship_ at least in the sense of ensuring that
independent states do not seriously pursue economic liberation, successfully
mobilise international pressure on apartheid Pretoria, or provide effective
external support to the SA liberation struggle. Since disengagement was costly
in the short term, it could only be carried out by a government with a clear
It was apartheid South Africa's strategy-using whatever
means possible from economic incentives through sabotage deterrents- to ensure
that such programmes are not pursued on a sustained basis. Thus influential
groups in neighboring countries had to be convinced that disengagement from
South Africa was not in their interests so that such programmes would lack a
firm national base, and would even cease to be canvassed seriously.
Apartheid SA used at least five strategic elements and these were not
totally consistent in the abstract: economic incentives, economic threats and
penalties, a dual outward-looking approach involving a forward or "strike
kommando" policy coupled with one of "constellation" or politico-economic
domination, and an inward-looking "laager" approach.
The strike kommando
policy involved the destabilisation of SADCC economies. It made use of economic
sabotage against targets such as bridges, dams, railroads, pipelines, mines and
oil installations; and it also made use of general economic destabilisation
through direct actions by the SA Defence Force (SADF) combined with surrogate
activity. Thus, the cost of this policy to the target states and their people
was very high, in both military and economic terms.
The other aspect of the
outward-looking approach was politico-economic , that is, complete South African
regional hegemony as articulated in P.W Botha's 1979 Carlton Centre presentation
of the "constellation plan". This strategy sought a "co-prosperity sphere" with
common economic policies, coordinated security, and at least tacit acceptance of
SA political leadership in a region stretching from the then Zaire through
Mozambique and from the Cape to the Ruvuma and Congo rivers. Could this have
influenced Mbeki's conception of NEPAD?
The Southern African Customs Union
(SACU) where railway income, import duty, and other related charges are
collected jointly and distributed by South Africa to other members (Botswana,
Lesotho, Swaziland and now Namibia) was a by-product of the constellation plan.
So were the various arrangements providing locomotives, wagons and technical
assistance to southern African state railways; and preferential rail rates
offered to exporters and importers using South African Transport Services (SATS)
railways and ports. The provision of rolling stock and technical assistance to
railways also serves South African interests in that it creates an incentive to,
and a body of lobbyists for, using South African routes, and it improves the
efficiency of the Southern African railways using SATS (now South African Rail
Computer Corporation Ltd).
Export credit was another "carrot" used against
SADCC countries by apartheid SA. It should not be assumed, however, that the
incentive element of the overall strategy was benign. In the first place,
benefits to one southern African country could be highly damaging to the
economic interests of others and could increase the difficulty of operating a
regional project of politico-economic liberation. The customs union, for
instance, protected SA exports to Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland from
competition from other SADCC states (except for Zimbabwe and Malawi). South
African credit facilities greatly hampered Zimbabwean exports to Zambia even
when they were substantially lower in cost. The contract rates on external
traffic were carefully tailored to under-cut those of the Mozambican rail and
These "positive" incentives have always been combined with
"negative" aspects, such as penalties and deterrents. The threat or reality of
the withdrawal of the incentives was in itself a powerful "stick", as typified
when in 1980-81 SATS withdrew locomotives loaned to Zimbabwe. As with
incentives, deterrents were varied. Cutting back on the hiring of migrant labour
or reducing the terms of transfer of earnings are weapons which have been used
against Mozambique and, less systematically, against Lesotho.
interruption of the flow of key goods_ especially petroleum products,
fertilizers and grain_ to SADCC states assertedly for "technical" reasons has in
fact been linked to political and security demands. All of the SADCC states,
except Angola and Tanzania (which do not import via South Africa), have been
beaten with this stick more than once since the formation of SADCC in 1980.
"Technical problems" in relation to moving exports, such as Zimbabwe steel and
Botswana beef were the complement to similar import delays. A variety of other
tactics have been used such as "fighting rates", or cut-price contracts,
designed to off-set the advantages of Mozambique rail and port routes. This
was a particularly potent weapon in relation to Zimbabwe.
The emergence of
fighting rates had been facilitated by SATS's increasingly commercial
orientation and by the increasing over-valuation of Mozambican meticais and
undervaluation of the rand.
In late 1985 and early 1986, as the Mozambique
government moved to offer counter-rates, the rand rose from US$0.35 to US$0.46,
under-cutting the SATS campaign.
One of the major tactics in the transport
sector was a less evident one — clearing and forwarding. Renfreight, a South
African company, dominated not only SA clearing and forwarding but also that of
the landlocked SADCC countries and of Mozambique. This is still the case.
Renfreight is a multi-purpose instrument. At the simplest level it earns
profits and foreign exchange because clearing and forwarding are lucrative. It
is also in a position to route freight via SATS because, in practice, shipping
agents have wide latitude in recommending and choosing routes for their clients.
The internal commercial logic of a regional clearing and forwarding company
meant that data on cargo by nature, bulk and weight, value, source and route
must be on a computer in Johannesburg. Effectively, this meant it could be
available, through one means or another, to SA authorities for analysis and,
when desired, as a means of implementing selective delays and/or sabotage.
The last strategic element was the inward-looking or "into larger" approach.
This element sought to concentrate SA strength within its borders, behind strong
defences and with minimum dependence on external sources of supply.
conclusion to this part, I wish to emphasize that the tactical instruments used
to implement apartheid South African strategy are numerous and varied. Even at
present, tactics vary in channels of operation and therefore in degree of
co-ordination and control. For instance, the customs union arrangements are
government to government, regularly reviewable and instantly terminable. In
contrast, a significant proportion of existing SA investment in other African
countries is historically determined and owned by private enterprises whose
interests may or may not be consistent with present day Pretoria's strategic
lIsaya Muriwo Sithole is a lawyer, independent political
consultant as well as a human, civil and political rights activist. He can be
contacted on: firstname.lastname@example.org
|Britain sends pobe team to
9/8/2005 8:33:26 AM (GMT
THE British government,
whose diplomatic relations with the Zimbabwean government have broken down over
the past five years, has sent a team to assess the political situation in the
troubled southern African country.
Sources told The Financial Gazette
that the assessment by officials drawn from the Home and Foreign offices in the
British government would form the basis of a decision on the planned deportation
of over 100 failed Zimbabwean asylum-seekers.
Apparently, the government has
kept the visit low-key, raising suspicion Harare might quietly want to mend its
relations with the former colonial master.
British embassy spokesperson
Gillian Dare confirmed the development yesterday, saying it was a "routine
"I can confirm that officials from the British government are
currently visiting the British Embassy in Harare. This is a routine visit by
officials from the Home and the Foreign Office. The visit is concerned with a
range of immigration and nationality issues," Dare said.
government yielded to pressure and suspended the deportation of the failed
asylum-seekers last July after judges, legislators, opposition parties and
pressure groups lobbied against the move, citing Zimbabwe's chequered human
The detained asylum-seekers went on lengthy hunger strike in
protest against their impending deportation, alleging that they would be
persecuted upon their return to Harare.
At the height of the debate, Home
secretary Charles Clarke said there had been "no substantiated reports of
mistreatment" of repatriated asylum-seekers, drawing the ire of opponents of the
government's asylum policy who accused Tony Blair's administration of double
The Blair government has been one of the most strident critics of
President Robert Mugabe's government, accusing it of a seri-ous democracy
deficit and human rights abuses and has put in place targeted sanctions against
the ruling ZANU PF elite.
President Mugabe, on the other hand, accuses the
British government of plotting to oust him from power for redistributing
previously white-owned prime farmland to landless blacks.
Dare said the
touring party would meet Zimbabwean government officials before leaving at the
end of the week.
"They will be calling on the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,"
The team is also expected to meet members of the Non
Governmental Organisation (NGO) community among other contacts.
|Fresh war vets threat |
9/8/2005 8:32:22 AM (GMT
Party heavyweights see
sinister agenda in new force
ZANU PF's supreme decision-making body,
the politburo, is sharply divided over a proposal by former ZANLA and ZIPRA
commanders to transform the legion of war veterans into a militarised reserve
force amid fears that its proponents might want to use the boisterous former
liberation fighters for sinister agendas.
The latest twist in the dilemma
facing ZANU PF in taming the vociferous war veterans, whose total number runs
into tens of thousands, confirms the deepening mistrust within the party as
heavyweights fight to succeed President Robert Mugabe who might retire from
active politics at the expiry of his sixth term of office in 2008.
three-member committee led by ZANU PF politburo member and former ZIPRA
intelligence supremo Dumiso Dabengwa has proposed roping in the former
liberation war fighters into a reserve force to instil discipline and rein in
the sometimes rogue group that masterminded the violent farm seizures of 2000.
The committee, put together by President Mugabe late last year to look into
the restructuring of the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association
(ZNLWVA), recommended that the freedom fighters be placed under the control of
the commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces (ZDF), as opposed to elected
chairpersons, who have assumed great influence in recent years.
the reserve force, to be paid an unspecified call-up allowance, would be
expected to report to command centres on a quarterly basis for a period of five
days "for the purposes of training or briefings when necessary." They would be
provided with special uniforms for use during call-up periods as well as during
district, provincial and national ceremonies, it was recommended.
in our possession indicate that the proposals sparked mixed reactions within the
powerful ZANU PF politburo early last month with some senior members expressing
discomfort at the idea crafted by the former ZANLA and ZIPRA commanders -
Dabengwa, retired army general Solomon Mujuru and former ZDF commander Vitalis
Sources noted that Mujuru, Dabengwa and Zvinavashe belong to the
same camp that clashed with the Emmerson Mnangagwa-led faction in the fierce
battle to fill the second vice president's position left vacant by the death of
Senior ZANU PF politicians opposed to the proposal fear that
the trio could be looking to consolidate their faction's position by building a
strong constituency of war veterans ahead of what is shaping up to be a messy
succession battle in the party.
ZANU PF heavyweights such as Mnangagwa, Vice
President Joice Mujuru, ZANU PF national chairman John Nkomo, State Security
Minister Didymus Mutasa and former finance minister Simba Makoni are touted as
possible candidates to succeeed President Mugabe once he retires.
is also the Speaker of Parliament, expressed concern over the political
implications of the proposed structure, adding that precautions must be taken to
avoid establishing a structure that would work against ZANU PF's interests.
"The national chairman observed that some war veterans were involved in
opposition politics and wondered whether there would be a mechanism to ensure
that these undesirable persons were not included in the reserve force,"
impeccable politburo sources revealed
Questions were also raised over the
motive behind setting up such a force whose structures would be linked to those
of the ZDF.
"The deputy secretary for economic affairs (Makoni) inquired
whether the key proposal of the report was the establishment of the reserve
force. He further observed that the report of the committee offered a civilian
structure and a political military structure of the war veterans' organisation."
Makoni is said to have further noted that the plan was not explicit on the
description of the structure and the "day-to-day activities and roles therein."
Under the late controversial ZNLWVA chairman Chenjerai Hunzvi, the war
veterans had become an indispensable and powerful constituency that first
demonstrated its influence in 1997 when the Polish-trained medical practitioner
led the former combatants in demanding $50 000 gratuities and $2 000 monthly
pensions from the government.
Having cowed the government, the war veterans
proceeded to make all sorts of demands and proceeded to launch an aggressive
land redistribution programme, which is largely blamed for the current economic
According to ZANU PF insiders, the war veterans had become difficult
to control, especially under deposed ZNLWVA leader Jabulani Sibanda, a former
personal bodyguard of the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo.
committee has also proposed structures at lower levels, that is, Provincial War
Veterans Command Centres, District Command Centres and Provincial and District
Projects. All command levels of war veterans, it has been proposed, should be
filled with selected members to be appointed by the War Veterans Board.
was further proposed that the Defence Act be amended to include members in the
war veterans' register that did not serve in the ZDF so that they could be
accommodated in the Reserve Force.
"All the command levels would be filled
by selected members. A War Veterans Board shall be appointed by the Minister of
Defence on approval by the President and First Secretary and should ideally be
made up of senior retired generals and some selected ex-combatants," the
Dabengwa has also proposed further amendments to the Defence
Act to make it compulsory for any retired members who were involved in the
Liberation Struggle from 1992 to 1979 to join the Reserve Force.
members who were never attested into the ZDF but are required to serve the war
veterans organization as full-time employees should be mobilized into active
service under the Ministry of Defence as Reserve Force members on active
The establishment of a separate vote to bankroll projects of war
veterans has also been proposed. The committee added that the fund should fall
under the Ministry of Defence and shall be superintended by a projects officer
to be allocated within the war veterans organizations' headquarters and
reporting directly to the Director of the War Veterans Organisation.
report to the politburo, Dabengwa said it was envisaged that some of the
negative activities associated with the war veterans could be minimized if all
the war veterans were involved in meaningful projects and or call-up activities.
|The sheer genius of selling
fuel in forex |
9/8/2005 8:50:55 AM (GMT
WHEN you are freezing to
death, it matters not whether the fire that warms you is of wood or car tyres.
So, what is this nonsense from the state media against fuel being sold in United
States dollars? Perhaps those who are making these noises fail to recognise the
sheer genius of this scheme.
The advantages to the state of this
no-questions asked facility are enormous, the implications for the economy truly
The US dollars that the central bank buys at service stations
selling fuel in foreign currency costs the government no more than $10 000 per
US dollar. That is the current cost of a litre of fuel in Zimbabwe. By selling
the same litre for one US dollar, the Reserve Bank is, then, essentially getting
the forex cheaper than it can even at auction, never mind the black market.
This state of affairs is even more attractive when you consider the
following: The central bank is getting speculators to spend their own Zimbabwe
dollars buying foreign currency on the black market. The forex is bought by
these speculators at anything up to $60 000 (perhaps more now) per US dollar.
This foreign currency is then surrendered to the service station by the
speculators for "goods" worth $10 000, meaning that the speculator surrenders
each US dollar he has to the Reserve Bank for the price of a litre of fuel. Is
that not genius?
Look, no matter what the market (speculator) does to or
with that US dollar, no matter what he or she does with that litre of fuel, that
US dollar will always end up in the hands of the RBZ for no more than Z$10 000
per US dollar. Even if the price of fuel goes up in Zimbabwe, it is unlikely to
ever reach the same level as the price of a US dollar. Already, at US$1 per
litre, our fuel is more expensive than South Africa. But that is the genius of
this scheme. Those who have forex and are unwilling to hand it over to the
central bank at auction, thereby undermining economic recovery, now essentially
pay dearly for their short-sightedness and greed.
If the RBZ sticks with
this genius of a concept, it may prove more beneficial than anyone ever thought,
especially the shrill, jealous voices coming from the state media houses. The
RBZ may actually end up filling our coffers with enough forex for some form of
crude economic order to return to Zimbabwe. With, obviously, the added bonus
that this forex will come into government possession at a discounted price of
Z$10 000 per US dollar.
The implications are staggering. The government
could, through this measure, collect a huge amount of grey money at a more than
50 percent discount. Money saved. The savings can then go to other worthier
We should all be rejoicing in this state of affairs because we are
shareholders in Zimbabwe Inc. Any government should ideally behave like the
executive management of our company. If their actions and decisions save the
company money in operational expenses, then more power to them.
being equal, every government should also distribute dividends to its
shareholders (you and I) at the end of each year, or even half-yearly. This they
do through tax breaks, building and maintaining an excellent infrastructure and
encouraging as much capital expenditure as possible.
So perhaps we can stop
the whining already. It's a good thing for you and I if government buys forex
cheaply from speculators who would have paid much more for it on the black
market. Those buying fuel at one US dollar per litre do not feel hard done by.
This is important for psychological reasons. Because it is when a person is
forced to sell his or her forex at Z$825 to the US$ that they turn against the
system. They can withdraw their foreign currency from the formal market because
government is not the only entity able to pay Zimdollars for the forex.
is a different matter altogether. It is only the government and the Reserve Bank
at the moment with a ready supply of the commodity. If a speculator with foreign
currency wants, they can access the commodity at the quoted price. If not, they
can go off and sell their foreign currency on the black market.
the way the fuel situation is at the moment (and for the foreseeable future) is
such that, eventually, that US dollar will end up with the RBZ through these
filling stations selling fuel in forex.
Better then for the state media to
abandon its hysteria and jealousy and look on the brighter side of the whole
If anything, the RBZ should designate more service stations to
sell fuel in foreign currency. They should continue taking the Z$60 000 US
dollar and paying an effective Z$10 000 for it to the speculator.
addition, the central bank should also publish monthly figures of takings from
these designated service stations to offer hope and transparency to the nation,
because buy-in from the population is an integral part of how this nation will
perform economically in future.
Above all, the bitter and twisted voices
that are railing against this facility should bear in mind that the foreign
currency from fuel sales is bonus foreign currency.
Were it not for the sale
of fuel in foreign currency, this money would never have found its way into
It is also particularly satisfying to note that the RBZ
is using Zimbabwean speculators' short-term and blinkered thinking against them.
The speculators' minds in Zimbabwe is such that, having given over the foreign
currency to buy fuel, they fail to realise that they are digging their own
Eventually, government will cobble together enough foreign currency
to meet the demand for such commodities as fuel and other imports. When that
happens, fuel will be freely available and anyone still holding on to foreign
currency or even to coupons from the Reserve Bank will find that their
speculative days are over.
For this reason, government must continue. Get
the speculator to use his own money to buy foreign currency at an inflated
price. Keep the pressure on the fuel supply side as long as possible so that
those private citizens willing to travel as though everything is normal in the
country will have no option but to pay the high price for foreign currency,
which they have no option but to willingly surrender to the RBZ at the service
station for no more than Z$10 000 per American dollar.
We need every US
dollar we can get and the state media should see this. Campaigning for
government to "do something" about alleged illegal activities in the sale of
fuel in forex will only lead to the country sliding ever backwards.
|Battle for control of state
9/8/2005 8:32:55 AM (GMT
INFORMATION chiefs Nathan
Shamuyarira and presidential spokesman George Charamba could be headed for a
clash in a fierce tussle to control public media outlets - Zimbabwe Broadcasting
Holdings (ZBH) and the Zimbabwe Newspapers (Zimpapers)
Sources confided in The Financial
Gazette this week that there was bad blood between Shamuyarira, ZANU PF's
spokesman, and country's first information minister and gatekeepers at the
Information Ministry over the impending overhaul at state media institutions,
particularly ZBH, following the inglorious exit of former government
spin-doctor-in-chief Jonathan Moyo about six months ago.
irreconcilable differences had emerged between Shamuyarira, who retired from
government and active politics in 2000 and Charamba, the Information and
Publicity Permanent Secretary, over planned changes at the state-run
broadcasting monopoly and Zimpapers.
Shamuyarira - backed by some senior
ZANU PF heavyweights - is reported to be agitating for the return of veteran
broadcasters elbowed out of the loss-making parastatal during Moyo's reign,
while Charamba, who has previously voiced concern over the laissez faire
attitude at ZBH, is believed to be pushing for reorganisation with minimal
A slanging match between Charamba, unmasked by Moyo as the author
of the vituperative Nathaniel Manheru column in the government-controlled Herald
and the Voice editor Lovemore Mataire that spilt into the newspaper pages last
week, became the first clearest sign of the simmering tug-of-war between the
information Tsars. Mataire reports directly to Shamuyarira and is widely
perceived to reflect the veteran journalist-turned-politician's views.
week, Charamba laid into Mataire for what he termed a "dozing editorial
tradition" in an indirect attack on Shamuyarira, who was instrumental in the
appointment of the former Zimpapers scribe to the post of editor of the ZANU PF
mouthpiece in 2004.
"He (Mataire) is one who makes a headline out of
sunrise on a dry savannah spring," said Charamba in a scathing attack on the
editor of the Voice. Before being appointed editor of the Voice, Mataire used to
work for the Herald as chief reporter.
During his tenure at the state-owned
Herald, Mataire also used to enjoy cordial relations with the department of
information in the president's office. His fallout with Charamba started soon
after he assumed the editorship of the Voice.
Charamba also made a startling
revelation of how ZANU PF covered up crimes allegedly committed by some of its
Charamba alleges that the party covered up a homicide case in
which Mataire was involved in a fatal accident which claimed the life of a
member of the Central Intelligence Organisation and cost Mataire's lady
companion an eye last year. Mataire is also alleged to have wrecked a brand new
"You recall the fatal accident you were involved in which
claimed an innocent motorist? And cost a lady companion and eye? And cost the
party a brand new vehicle that was a complete write off?"
Sources said the
war of words had escalated after the Voice alleged that the former information
department abused public funds.
It's all doom and gloom |
9/8/2005 8:52:23 AM (GMT
WILL we ever get it
right? That is the question as regards agriculture, the erstwhile backbone of
the economy. We have had to ask this pertinent question time without number. And
not without reason.
Far from questioning neither the
rationale nor the need to address the historical injustices and inequality
through land reform which government itself admits has been fraught with abuse
by uncouth politicians with bloated self-interests, ours has been genuine
concern for the previously robust agricultural sector, which anchored a
reassuringly resilient and stable economy. We are frightened, as indeed are most
Zimba-bweans, by what seems to be the imminent collapse of Zimbabwean
agriculture because the repercussions would be incalculable.
It is an open
secret that the scandal-tainted land reform programme, packaged by the country's
political leadership as a successful way of intervention for guaranteed food
security and economic empowerment, has a terrible aura. Its goals have largely
remained a pipe dream. Instead, the back-to-the-land idealism has spawned
bewildering complexities that have seen the critical agricultural sector which
fires the local economy slip on so many banana skins. This is primarily a
function of lack of critical forward planning, upside down priorities and
certain government policies that have no basis in reality whatsoever.
now we find ourselves having to return to this topic again because the country's
economy, already pushed into historic contraction, cannot afford another failed
agricultural season. The economic fall-out of such a worst-case scenario would,
for want of a better expression, be too ghastly to contemplate. It would
aggravate the accelerating economic decline, not to mention a human crisis of
Yet leading seed producer Seed Co only last week
warned about imminent seed shortages. This would be an embarrassing and
disturbing debacle considering that government has been pushing the line that in
agriculture lies the seed of economic prosperity and self-sufficiency. What is
worse is that there is no telling what the situation is as regards the
availability of other inputs such as fertilisers and critical chemicals given
that the responsible minister's word cannot be trusted. Add biting fuel
shortages, lack of tillage facilities and financial wherewithal for most of the
newly resettled farmers as well as government's eleventh-hour crisis management
approach and it is all doom and gloom.
But it is not as if government was
not warned about this disaster. Much as it is not our intention for this comment
to be underlined by the we-told-you-so gibe, it should be noted that about two
months ago we published an editorial entitled "Sense of déjà vu" which not only
emphasised the overriding need to prioritise agriculture but also warned the
government about the looming shortages of vital inputs. Our comment was premised
on concerns from various key stakeholders.
That the agricultural sector has
been plunged into an unprecedented crisis points to the fact that Joseph Made
has dismally failed the nation. If what is happening in agriculture today is
anything to go by, then the minister does not seem to have a guiding vision and
he lacks that all-important sense of purpose which generates passion for
And therein lies the problem. This only means that the
agricultural sector is in desperate need of hard-nosed spark plugs with clarity
of thinking and vision. We say so because in our own estimation, the sorry tale
of Zimbabwean agriculture, mirrored in the shrunken state of the economy to
which the sector made the single biggest contribution, should be blamed squarely
on the unsophisticated rhetoricians who are supposed to run the country's
Nowhere is this more tellingly demonstrated than by the
recurring shortages of critical farming inputs for which there is no excuse
whatsoever. Why does this unacceptable and unforgivable situation keep on
recurring if those responsible for running Zimbabwe's agriculture have been
doing what they are supposed to do? The mind boggles. If the land is indeed the
economy and vice-versa as the authorities claim, why didn't the government
invest in capacity building in terms of seed production? Or is this the best
Made can possibly do? Then God help us because no one else will!
said it again and again: with the persistent agricultural input shortages that
have been with us since the fast-track land reform commenced some five or so
years ago, what the new farmers gained on the swings, they lost on the
roundabouts. They are neither improving their individual economic standing nor
adding value to the national economy. That is hardly cause for celebration. But
this is Zimbabwe and it is no surprise that ZANU PF politicians have endlessly
engaged in an orgy of self-congratulation about the supposed success of the most
radical change in land ownership on the African continent. It would have been a
pleasant surprise if they had not.