The ZIMBABWE Situation
An extensive and up-to-date website containing news, views and links related to ZIMBABWE - a country in crisis
Return to INDEX page
Please note: You need to have 'Active content' enabled in your IE browser in order to see the index of articles on this webpage

Government to amend Posa

Zim Independent

Constantine Chimakure

ZANU PF has agreed to give in to most of the demands made by the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change during the ongoing talks being
mediated by South African President Thabo Mbeki, amid revelations that its
negotiating team has made many significant concessions.

Chief among the changes which have been agreed is amendment of the
notorious Public Order and Security Act and the enactment of new electoral
laws. Zanu PF has also agreed with MDC negotiators to alter Constitutional
Amendment No 18.

Sources told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that Zanu PF had
agreed to changes to Posa and the abrogation of the current Electoral Act to
facilitate a smooth passage of the constitutional amendment through
parliament. The two rival MDC factions have been calling for a new
constitution but they have now agreed on three far-reaching changes to the
draft.

Zanu PF chief negotiator, Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa, told a
round of the talks in Pretoria on September 1 and 2 that the ruling party
would play ball with the MDC to create an environment for free and fair
elections next year.

The sources said Chinamasa stunned the MDC delegation, made up of
secretary-generals Welshman Ncube and Tendai Biti, when he revealed that
Zanu PF was ready to accept the MDC's demands. "Tell us what you want and we
will do our best to oblige," was his approach, the sources said.

They said it was during this meeting that Zanu PF and the MDC agreed
on reforms to the electoral process to be incorporated into Constitutional
Amendment No18, which was tabled in parliament on Wednesday.

The ruling party agreed on a raft of changes to create an environment
for free and fair polls.

On September 5, the Zanu PF politburo discussed and adopted measures
that were agreed in Pretoria. Yesterday, the Arthur Mutambara-led formation
of the MDC met in Harare and its national council adopted the proposed
amendments to the Bill. The Morgan Tsvangirai camp is yet to meet and ratify
the changes although observers believe there is little for them left to
object to.

Zanu PF and the MDC agreed that the issue of a new constitution was no
longer a priority considering the time left before the elections.

Both parties resolved to abolish the appointment of 10 MPs to the
House of Assembly by the president, meaning that all the proposed 210 Lower
House lawmakers would have to be directly elected. The senate would now be
composed of 93 members, up from the proposed 84. Of the 93, only five would
be presidential appointees - two representing Harare and Bulawayo while the
outstanding three would represent special interest groups.

Currently the senate is made up of 66 members. Provincial governors
and traditional chiefs would also be appointed to the senate.

The parties have also agreed that all the three elections - local
government, presidential and parliamentary, will be held concurrently on one
day.

The sources said the negotiating teams clinched a deal that another
amendment be made to the Bill to clearly state that constituency
delimitation variation should be restricted to 20%, instead of allowing
movements of up to 25%, to avoid gerrymandering.

The agreed amendments to the Bill would be tabled during the committee
stage in parliament on Tuesday.

The MDC proposed amendments to the Electoral Act which the negotiators
agreed was a "mess". They accepted the need to craft a new law altogether.

The parties were reportedly working on drafts of the new electoral
law, which they will deliberate on soon.

Perhaps the most far-reaching aspect agreed to during the discussions
is the proposed amendment to the draconian Posa. The aim will be to remove
sections that inhibit public gathering without police notification and
canvassing for political support.

Two years ago this paper quoted Chinamasa declaring that Posa would
not be amended since it was an important bulwark against those who wanted to
effect regime change. The government has since 2000 used Posa to break up
opposition rallies and to prevent political meetings organised by civic
groups.

Two other major items on the talks agenda - media laws and the
political climate in the country - are yet to be discussed even though
indications were that the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act could also be amended extensively.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Mugabe faces stormy congress

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is facing a stormy congress which could sweep
him from power unless he produces a brave performance to stem the surging
tide of growing opposition from within.

The watershed Zanu PF congress slotted for December will be a fierce
battle between Mugabe and his shrinking cabal of supporters who want to
secure his endorsement at all costs to be the party's sole candidate in next
year's election, and those pushing for him to quit now.

Sources said Mugabe and his supporters have already come up with an
agenda for congress which includes the need to endorse Mugabe as the party's
candidate; ratification of the proposed Constitutional Amendment Number 18 -
which will probably have been passed into law by then - and alignment of the
party and state constitutions in the light of these changes.

Sources said Mugabe wants this agenda for congress. The so-called
Third Way faction in Zanu PF, which includes party commissar Elliot Manyika
and politburo members Nicholas Goche and Saviour Kasukuwere, will be
fighting from Mugabe's corner.

Top members like spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira, Women's League head
Oppah Muchinguri and secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa are linked
to this group although cracks are emerging among them.

Fearing possible defeat at congress, Mugabe has now roped in the Zanu
PF faction led by senior party official Emmerson Mnangagwa and the war
veterans. The ex-combatants recently held street protests to support Mugabe
and the Mnangagwa faction was said to have been behind them.

This has led to a convergence of interests between the Third Way group
and the Mnangagwa faction as both are now fighting to keep Mugabe in power.

The other faction led by the influential retired army commander
General Solomon Mujuru is pushing to force Mugabe out. Mugabe is battling
for political survival as shown by his scramble to close ranks with
Mnangagwa when he accused him of plotting a palace coup against him in 2004.

The matrix of shifting alliances within Zanu PF and the intensifying
power struggle have raised the stakes for the congress which could become
Mugabe's Waterloo before the elections.

Although the elections are scheduled for March, well-placed sources
said they are now likely to be held in June next year after Zanu PF and the
opposition MDC agreed on the issue during talks to resolve the current
crisis in Pretoria on September 1 and 2.

While Mugabe is making concessions due to MDC and other external
pressures, he is facing more critical demands from within his party for him
to quit in December.

Zanu PF sources said main factions of the ruling party were
frantically mobilising and positioning themselves for a battle royal at the
congress where Mugabe could sink or swim in the increasingly turbulent
political waters.

Mugabe's great threat, sources say, is now the growing band of
disgruntled Zanu PF officials, particularly those led by Mujuru. The faction
is now regarded as opposition from within to the extent that Mujuru during
the Zanu PF politburo meeting last week tried to play down the issue. Mujuru
told the politburo that people were lying to Mugabe that he wanted to remove
him, but Mugabe was convinced this was true as he knew the story better,
sources said.

Mujuru's lieutenants are vowing they will force Mugabe out or block
him in the same way they stopped him in his tracks at the Goromonzi
conference in December last year and frustrated his bid for endorsement at
the crucial central committee meeting in March. The camp is said to have
deployed a crack team of senior members to work on a strategy to block
Mugabe. Two top politburo members have been charged to lead the campaign and
raise the issue at congress.

Mugabe's supporters say he will bulldoze his way through congress and
secure his endorsement as well as re-election next year. However, pressure
is mounting in Zanu PF for him to go now.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

'Mugabe feared Sadc being used by Britain'

Zim Independent

Dumisani Muleya/Augustine Mukaro

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe clashed with Zambian leader Levy Mwanawasa at
the recent Lusaka summit because he feared Britain was trying to use the
meeting to push its own agenda against Zimbabwe, the Zimbabwe Independent
can confirm.

Presidential spokesman George Charamba confirmed the clash, saying in
any debate people were bound to hold divergent views.

"Summits by their nature are open to debate and often with divergent
views," Charamba said. "Maybe in this case the president said it in a strong
way which people were not used to."

Mwanawasa clashed with Mugabe after he tried to table the Zimbabwe
crisis for debate during a closed session of the meeting. It is said Mugabe
reacted angrily to the idea and he lambasted Mwanawasa before walking out in
protest.

Charamba said Mugabe suspected that there were "foreign elements" who
wanted to turn their budgetary support into political leverage over
Zimbabwe.

"The British were pushing the Sadc states to deliver on Zimbabwe, and
since most of these governments are funded 70% from donor funds, they are
put under pressure. It is at that point that the president intervened and
said it was now time to edit the Dar es Salaam agreement," he said.

Charamba said Zimbabwe was not supposed to be discussed at the summit
because all the issues that were set out at the extraordinary meeting in Dar
es Salaam were still a work in progress. He said even the economic report
was to be forwarded to finance ministers of the different countries to see
what each economy could do to help Zimbabwe.

Charamba said the economic report by Sadc executive secretary Tomaz
Salomao did not recommend any aid to Zimbabwe but advocated promoting
partnerships and normalising trade terms.

This came as it emerged that Mwanawasa fired his vocal former Foreign
minister Mundia Sikatana as a result of his explosive row with Mugabe, not
because of failing health as officially claimed.

Diplomatic sources said Sikatana was fired by Mwanawasa after he tried
to stop Mugabe's delegation from leaving. Sikatana is said to have told the
Zimbabweans to be patient with Mwanawasa because from time to time he
experienced momentary concentration lapses as a result of a car accident.

It is understood Sikatana's references to the occasional slip-ups by
Mwanawasa was the real reason why he was dismissed days after the summit.

Mwanawasa and Sikatana are both critical of Mugabe, but the way they
handled the Zimbabwe issue during the summit led to the minister's removal.

The sources said after Mugabe stormed out of the meeting, Sikatana
tried to ensure that the Zimbabwean delegation did not walk away for good
and in the process explained that Mwanawasa could have acted the way he did
due to his erratic behaviour and concentration lapses.

Last year Mugabe also left Lesotho in a huff after Sadc leaders tried
to table Zimbabwe for discussion in a closed session. Mugabe is always
opposed to the discussion of Zimbabwe at any forum, unless he is allowed to
give his own version of events.
South African President Thabo Mbeki tried but failed to stop Mugabe
from leaving. The sources who witnessed the dramatic clash said Mbeki tried
in vain to restrain Mugabe from hastily leaving Lusaka.

Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete also tried to stop Mugabe from
walking out but to no avail as well.

"After Mugabe had walked out of the meeting, Kikwete followed him and
tried to convince him to come back. Mbeki also joined Kikwete to try to
persuade him not to walk away, but they both failed to influence him," a
source said.

Sikatana tried as well but failed to stop Mugabe's delegation from
going. Mwanawasa's office claimed Sikatana was unexpectedly removed due to
ill-health.

"I very much regret that I am terminating your services as Minister of
Foreign Affairs with immediate effect," a statement from Mwanawasa's office
said. "At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, you have been able to discharge
your duties with distinction until recently when your health appeared to be
failing."

Sikatana recently refuted Mwanawasa's allegation that his health was
failing.

Sikatana, a vocal Mugabe critic, said he was very fit and revealed
that he was forced out because of how he handled such issues as the Zimbabwe
crisis. He said Mwanawasa was now backing down on his criticism of Mugabe.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zanu PF steps up propaganda blitz

Zim Independent

Augustine Mukaro

ZANU PF has stepped up its propaganda blitz, roping in regional media
publications to bolster its campaign against what it perceives as negative
publicity and to convince the Sadc region that its policies are working.

Sources privy to the initiative said the ruling party has hatched a
plan to bring into the country scribes of publications and broadcasting
stations from friendly countries and convince them to write positive
stories.

The move is set to spruce up the government's image and counter an
array of Western-based websites perceived to be pushing for regime change in
Zimbabwe.

The plan has already been taken to Malawi, where eight journalists
from the Malawi Broadcasting Corporation (MBC), TVM and the Information
department have been invited to record programmes on the "Zimbabwe
situation".

"Journalists from MBC and TVM and the Information department officials
were in Zimbabwe two weeks ago," a source in Malawi said. "They were in
Zimbabwe to just record programmes on the situation and learn about election
reporting."

The sources said government, through the department of information,
was on a drive to invite as many "friendly" countries as possible to promote
positive coverage of its policies.

Government has been struggling to counter what it terms "negative
publicity" by Western media organisations. Among a cocktail of strategies to
counter the bad news has been the setting up of a short-wave propaganda
radio station, Voice of Zimbabwe , to operate from Gweru.

However, the project appears to have suffered a stillbirth amid
reports of self-jamming as a result of gagging equipment installed to block
broadcasts from foreign radio stations such as Voice of America's Studio 7.
The project has also been unpopular with state media journalists.

Government has also splurged over US$1 million in an image-making
campaign with New African magazine which has resorted to publishing
propaganda supplements.

Zanu PF secretary for science and technology, Olivia Muchena, on July
26 presented a report to Zanu PF's central committee on the role and
importance of information and communication technologies (ICTs), arguing
that the ruling party had no choice but to embrace ICTs to remain
"politically relevant".

"Comrades, we are all aware that Zanu PF is at war from within and
outside our borders," said the report. "Contrary to the gun battles we are
accustomed to, we now have cyber-warfares fought from one's comfort zone, be
it bedroom, office, swimming pool, etc but with deadly effects."

Muchena said Zanu PF must pause and think who is behind the creation
of "these websites", the target market, the influence and impact they have
on Zimbabweans and what the image of Zanu PF and its leadership looks like
"out there as portrayed".

Muchena said websites, the Internet and cellphones had become daily
weapons used to fight Zanu PF, adding that ICTs were now vogue platforms for
high-tech espionage - hardware, software and infrastructure that peddles
"virulent propaganda" to delegitimise "our just struggle against
Anglo-Saxons".

President Mugabe recently signed into law the Interception of
Communications Act, which empowers government to snoop on messages
transmitted through the telecommunication system, cellphones and the
Internet.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Govt introduces skills retention fund

Zim Independent

Lucia Makamure

THE government has introduced a technical allowance under the skills
retention fund targeting professional grades to staunch the brain drain in
the civil service.

In a report made available to the Zimbabwe Independent, beneficiaries
of the fund started receiving payments last month, backdated to July 1.

"Payments have been made to staff in the following ministries and has
been backdated to 1 July 2007: Economic Development, Finance, Health and
Child Welfare, Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Local Government,
Public Works and Urban Development, Mines and Mining Development, Transport
and Communication, Surveyor General's Department and Rural Housing and
Social Amenities," says the report.

Science and mathematics teachers are identified in the report as the
only beneficiaries of the fund from the Ministry of Education and they are
yet to receive their payments.

"In the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture, the required data on
all the science and mathematics teachers has not yet been provided to date.
This ministry's staff will be paid backdated to 1 July as and when all the
required information has been provided and vetted, in order to make sure
that the right staff are paid," the report said.

Other ministries and government departments that are set to benefit
include the Agricultural Engineering division, Irrigation and Mechanisation,
Agriculture, Comptroller and Auditor-General, Defence, Higher and Tertiary
Education, Energy and Power Development, Industry and International Trade,
Home Affairs, Office of the President and Cabinet, Small and Medium Scale
Enterprises Development, Science and Technology, Environment and Tourism,
Public Service, Water Resources and Infrastructural Development, Women
Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Youth Development and Employment
Creation, Foreign Affairs and Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement.

Civil engineers, electricians, builders, accountants, architects and
other professionals in the public sector have in the past years joined the
race to join more paying jobs in neighbouring countries.

Many South African companies have been advertising for manpower in
Zimbabwe and more professionals are expected to leave the country to take up
more lucrative job offers south of the Limpopo.

Recent reports indicate that there have been shortages of science
teachers in South Africa and the government in that country has indicated
that it is targeting Zimbabwe to recruit teachers.

Peter Mabhande, chief executive officer of Zimbabwe Teachers
Association, who also sits on the Apex Council which represents all civil
servants, said they were yet to receive details on the technical allowance
from the government.

"We have not been advised on who will benefit from the fund," Mabhande
said.

He also said they were not aware on how the fund was to be implanted
as it is still being analysed by the government.

Last week Finance minister Samuel Mumbengegwi allocated $650 billion
to the skills retention fund when he presented his supplementary budget in
parliament.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Home Affairs abuses funds

Zim Independent

Orirando Manwere

THE Ministry of Home Affairs, especially the Zimbabwe Republic Police
which is constitutionally mandated to investigate crime, has over the years
failed to account for public funds allocated to it by Treasury.

A parliamentary portfolio committee report tabled on Wednesday
revealed that the ministry incurred unauthorised expenditure of over $66
billion on 45 accounting items, while the abuse of funds by the Immigration
Department Fund went unchecked in the absence of clear accounting systems.

Presenting a consolidated report on the ministry's Appropriation
Accounts for the period December 31 2000 to December 31 2004, delayed
because of the absence of proper accounting records in ministry departments,
Public Accounts Committee chair, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, said the
situation at Home Affairs was so shocking that her committee wants the
accounting officer (Melusi Matshiya) and other officers relieved of their
duties.

Misihairabwi-Mushonga expressed concern that this was the 11th report
to the House by her committee on various ministries which had not been
responded to by ministers.

She said this made a mockery of the oversight role of parliament and
wondered whether the executive was serious about addressing problems
bedevilling the nation.

Remarks by the leader of the House, Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa
during her presentation that Public Accounts Committee reports were always
"for 10 years back", only seemed to confirm the lack of seriousness by the
executive to address issues of efficiency and effective running of various
arms of government, said Misihairabwi-Mushonga.

She told the House that her committee learnt from the Comptroller and
Auditor-General that during the period under review, the Ministry of Home
Affairs was qualified (found wanting) in 45 areas.

These comprised budgetary controls, unauthorised expenditure, material
scope restrictions, advances and disallowances, temporary deposits,
departmental assets, revenue received, revenue written off, outstanding
revenue, advances on travel and subsistence, receipts and disbursement,
departmental surcharges and public financial assets, among others.

"The ministry incurred unauthorised excess expenditure during the
period amounting to $66 608 636 861 on administration and general,
Immigration, National Archives and the Zimbabwe Republic Police.

"The accounting officer Mr Melusi Matshiya in evidence before your
committee stated that the poor state of financial affairs was due to high
staff attrition in the ministry. As a result, the ministry's accounts were
lagging behind by six years, a situation which was unpalatable for audit
purposes," Misihairabwi-Mushonga said.

She pointed out that although these accounts had since been submitted,
the committee noted that the accounting officer had overlooked the
chronological order of some of the disbursements which he considered
immaterial at the time of the submission and some of the information could
not be found owing to the time lapse.

She told the House that it was surprising how the ministry overspent
when it was experiencing a high turnover.

She said the Comptroller and Auditor-General told her committee that
she (the comptroller) was unable to express an opinion on the aspects of
public accountability due to the ministry's failure to provide specific
returns and statements required for her audit.

Misihairabwi-Mushonga said her committee was extremely concerned that
owing to lack of vehicles, the Immigration Department at Sango, Chirundu and
Pandamatenga was unable to timeously bank revenue collected.

"They receive quite a lot of revenue in foreign currency and they have
to go and bank the money in Victoria Falls. We are talking about a lot of
foreign currency and a lot of logistical problems, stress and that requires
serious skills to process. Your committee feels that the situation is
tempting and it may just be a matter of time before such funds are
misappropriated. Surely this is a critical area which government must invest
in to ensure that all the foreign currency is accounted for," she said.

All departments under the ministry failed to submit appropriate
returns and were subsequently qualified on various aspects, including
Criminal Investigation Department exhibits, special constabulary pay,
receipts and disbursements (ZRP), advances miscellaneous, losses and damage
to state property, revenue received, gifts, legacies and donations, public
financial assets and treasury orders.

"There is gross abuse of public assets and funds. For example, that is
why we find police vehicles carrying firewood while stations have no vehicle
to attend scenes of crime. Revenue collected from fines for example cannot
be accounted for. It's a sad situation," lamented Misihairabwi-Mushonga.

She said it was difficult to trace funds for individual departments
because they all deposited funds into one ministry account with the central
bank and departments started new financial years with no outstanding
balances.

On advances, the committee noted that the ministry had flouted
financial regulations with impunity.

Despite claims that the ministry had no advance block grant for more
than two years, it took some money from the Immigration Fund without
authority to pay temporary officers.

Upon being asked why this was done, a ministry official said: "The
problem is, since we do not have money, we cannot stop operations so we will
advise the Treasury on the issue."

The committee reports also noted that the introduction of the
electronic Public Finance Management system was rendered ineffective as
officers were not well trained and resorted to the manual system, especially
in the ZRP.

The committee recommended the urgent need for the ministry to
decentralise and strengthen its department's accounts and internal audit
sections, recruit qualified staff and regularise the ministry's expenditure
through a Financial Adjustments Act.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

'Salaries freeze unconstitutional'

Zim Independent

Orirando Manwere

THE recently gazetted presidential proclamation banning the indexing
of salaries, wages and prices of goods is unconstitutional and a violation
of international conventions, labour experts have said.

The experts pointed out that Statutory Instrument 159 A of 2007 issued
two weeks ago under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act
(Amendment of National Incomes and Pricing Commission Act and Education Act)
Regulations, 2007, was an attempt by the executive to make up for its
failure to implement sound policies to address the economic crisis
bedevilling the nation.

They said an economy could not be run by decrees. This demonstrated
the extent to which government dealt in bad faith with its social partners,
they said.

A Harare-based lawyer, Tafadzwa Mapfumo-Muvingi, said the Presidential
Powers (Temporary Measures) Act was peculiar as it gives the president
exclusive and overriding powers to make subsidiary legislation which
supersede Acts made by parliament.

"This is clearly contrary to the universally accepted principle of
separation of powers among key pillars of the state - the executive, the
legislature and the judiciary," said Mapfumo-Muvingi.

"The president is part of the executive. There is an overlap of the
Act as it gives the president more powers to make regulations for six months
without any ratification by parliament and this defeats its whole
existence," said the lawyer.

"It is also peculiar that the Statutory Instrument is seeking to amend
Acts of Parliament - the National Incomes and Pricing Commission Act and the
Education Act. This is not proper because law principles dictate that
subsidiary legislation cannot amend an Act because it is inferior. It's an
anomaly," she said.

Mapfumo-Muvingi said any amendment of an Act of Parliament should go
through Parliament which has the mandate to amend and make new laws as it is
representative of the views of the public.

"There is also a contradiction in the enforcement of the regulations
as the Finance minister approved a 20% mark-up on the prices of some goods
well after the regulations were made. This was done without any
corresponding adjustments to salaries and consideration of input costs when
prices are escalating in the wake of shortages brought about by the price
blitz launched in July," said Mapfumo-Muvingi.

She said laws could not be made to be enforced in retrospect as was
the case with the decree to revert to June 18 prices.

"Inflation has been on the increase and people have been adjusting
their budgets accordingly. So how can you make a law to criminalise
everyone? We can't have an economy run through taskforces and commissions.
What is the role of relevant ministries and their technical staff who are
supposed to look into these issues?" she asked.

In a statement on its analysis of the constitutionality and legality
of the regulations, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) legal
department said the temporary measures were illegal, unconstitutional and a
violation of international labour conventions.

It said government ratified 26 major ILO conventions, 87 regarding
Freedom of Association, 98 on the right to organise and collective
bargaining, and 105 on abolition of forced or compulsory labour, among
others. The ZCTU said Convention 87 was constitutionally protected under
Section 21 of the Constitution.

"Section 21 states that no person shall be hindered in his or her
freedom of assembly and ... to freely assembly and associate with other
persons and in particular to form or belong to political parties or trade
unions or other associations for the protection of his interests," the ZCTU
said.

"Economic interests are not listed under Section 21 as these things
that can be done under the authority of any law to justify such law as that
which is under discussion (Presidential {Powers Temporary Measures} Act).

"Moreso, the measures taken cannot be said to be reasonably
justifiable in a democratic society (section 3). Even in an undemocratic
society, such measures would not be acceptable. The economic interests are
unconstitutionally listed under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures)
Act," the ZCTU said.

The labour body said the measures taken cannot be said to be
reasonable in addressing the economic demise, "especially when we take into
account that the demoralised employees are only 10% of the workforce and
these will shrink further because of demoralisation".

It noted that the regulations were in violation of ILO Convention 87
and Section 4 of the Labour Act which the government ratified. The
convention obliges government to encourage and promote the full utilisation
of machinery for voluntary negotiation between employers and employees
through collective agreements.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Assaulted NCA activists demand $10 trillion

Zim Independent

Lucia Makamure

MORE than 200 National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) members who were
beaten up by police while demonstrating against Constitution Amendment No18
in July have demanded close to $10 trillion from the police as compensation
for assault, torture and unlawful detention.

In a notice of intention to sue addressed to Home Affairs minister
Kembo Mohadi and dated September 6 2007, the 206 NCA members who are
represented by lawyer Andrew Makoni of Mbidzo, Muchadehama & Makoni, are
seeking compensation under the State Liabilities Act.

"We are instructed to demand from you., that you pay the sum of $9 530
000 000 000 for assault, torture, pain, shock, suffering and unlawful
detention and unlawful deprivation of liberty," said Makoni in the demand
letter.

Makoni said that his clients were beaten up after they had taken part
in a peaceful march which had progressed peacefully without any incidence of
violence being witnessed.

"Unfortunately for them members of the police pounced upon them and
heavily assaulted them with open hands, clenched fists, booted feet, baton
sticks and all sorts of weaponry. They were not placed under arrest, no
charges were ever preferred against them and they were set free after the
assaults. They had to seek medical attention, for the injuries sustained,"
Makoni said.

At least four police officers were identified by name for assaulting
and torturing the NCA members at the Harare Central Police Station
courtyard.

"We are also notifying the following police officers who took part in
assaulting our clients," Makoni said. "Inspector Masenda who is officer in
charge, Stodart Police Station, who boasted to our clients that she had
beaten Morgan Tsvangirai before; Superintendent Chani, CID Law and Order,
Harare Central Police Station; Chimaka, Harare Central Police Station; and
Shepherd Machini who is based at Parliament Building.

"As they were being assaulted some members of the police force boasted
to our clients that they would not arrest our clients.

"They further boasted to our clients that they would assault our
clients to such an extent that they would never think of participating in a
demonstration ever again. The attacks were indeed gruesome," Makoni said.

"On occasions, our clients would be forced to lie prostrate, and some
members of the police force would then step on top of our prostrate clients
as they issued orders or relayed information to fellow police officers.
Ruling party members and national youth service militia were also implicated
in the assaults.

"Our clients further advise us that there were members of the ruling
party, Zanu PF, Central Intelligence Organisation and militia from the
National Youth Service who also took part in the onslaught against our
clients. The operations wing of the police was running the show," the lawyer
said.

Last month the police were served with two demand letters with damages
amounting to $5 trillion for assaults and unlawful detention of 55
Opposition and Civic Society leaders and 34 Movement for Democratic Change
activists accused of training as terrorists in South Africa.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

MZWT in trouble

Zim Independent

Loughty Dube

SEVERAL members of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Trust (MZWT), who
include Zanu PF officials and politburo member, Dumiso Dabengwa, may be
charged with contempt of court after they failed to carry out an
investigative audit of trust funds as mandated by the High Court in July
2003.

The High Court ordered the MZWT board of directors to produce audited
accounts for the organisation but four years down the line no audits have
been produced.

In a ruling on an urgent application filed by Arnold Payne, a leading
campaigner for the piping of water from the Zambezi River to Bulawayo, High
Court Judge, Justice George Chiweshe, on July 10 2003 ordered the MZWT board
to produce within 30 days an investigative audit of the organisation's
finances.

But since then no audits have been produced by the MZWT board.

The respondents in the matter were cited as Dabengwa in his capacity
as the chairman of the MZWT, and Kotsho Dube, the chairman of the MZWT
general assembly.

Payne had applied to the High Court for an order compelling the
organisation to conduct the audit after previous requests from members of
the public for financial statements were ignored.

However, this week Payne wrote to the board of directors and warned
that he was filing contempt of court charges against the board if the audits
were not produced within a week.

Dabengwa chairs the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project (MZWP), the
operational arm of the Trust, charged with the implementation of the project
to bring water to Bulawayo from the river.

"I have written to all the members of the Trust letters informing them
that I am taking legal action within the next seven days if they do not show
evidence that they have taken steps to carry out the audit," Payne said.

"It's been too long since the High Court issued that order and I think
they have not taken the courts seriously."

The decision to institute an investigation followed media allegations
of abuse of MZWT funds by senior members of the board while on a business
trip overseas.

The MZWT has in the last decade failed to implement the project
despite claims of support from the government and several false starts.

Meanwhile the city of Bulawayo has reported cases of diarrhoea as a
result of water shortages after the number of people visiting council
clinics for treatment increased in the last two weeks.

Council spokesperson, Phathisa Nyathi, however could not give details
saying only that the clinics were treating those affected.

"Residents continue to fetch water from unprotected sources as a
result of the water shortages but we are urging them to stop the practice so
that we can contain cases of disease outbreaks," Nyathi said.

The council has introduced stringent water rationing schedules after
three of the supply dams ran out of water.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zanu PF crusader blasts Christians

Zim Independent

Constantine Chimakure

FORMER Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial treasurer Jimayi Muduvuri
has launched a controversial pro-ruling party campaign that vilifies
Christians who support opposition parties.

In an advertisement in the Herald yesterday, Muduvuri said he was
sponsoring the Heal Zimbabwe Campaign whose main theme is that "Christians
who support opposition parties were practising false religion".

The theme was taken from a booklet of the same title created by
television soap, Small House Saga, writer Collins Mazivofa Mukosi. Making
reference to chapters in the bible, the advertisement said the first
opposition leader in the universe was Lucifer and should, therefore, not be
followed by Christians.

"If the system of opposition was started by Lucifer, then it means
there's a spirit of 'Luciferness' in all opposition parties in the world
over," read the advertisement.

"Voting for an opposition party is like voting for Satan."

The campaign claimed that there was no democracy in heaven.

"If democracy is such a good system why did they reject it in heaven?"
questioned the advertisement making reference to Revelations 12. The
campaign asked Christians to be wary of words beginning with the letter D
such as devil, divorce, death and democracy.

"Let every person be subjective to governing authorities for there's
no authority except from God," added the advertisement.

The Muduvuri-sponsored campaign is expected to spread throughout the
country ahead of next year's elections.

"Pastors, conferences on this campaign are coming to your towns soon.
Watch the press for details because you are all invited for an explanation
on this wonderful revelation," read the advertisement.

Muduvuri is not new to controversy.

During the countdown to Zanu PF's primary parliamentary elections in
December 2004, he reportedly bought bras, panties, petticoats and shoes in a
bid to garner support from female voters.

Muduvuri was also accused by rival Ishmael Mutema of unleashing an
orgy of violence and barring residents from attending his rivals' rallies.

Mutema claimed that the Macsherp Holdings owner had a terror gang
called the "Top 11" that was barricading roads and preventing rival Zanu PF
supporters from attending meetings.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zanu PF officials convicted

Zim Independent

Jesilyn Dendere

THREE Zanu PF officials who forced beneficiaries of Operation
Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle houses at Whitecliff Farm to withdraw fraud charges
levelled against them were last week convicted of attempting to defeat the
course of justice.

They were each sentenced to six months in prison.

However, Harare magistrate Lazarus Murendo suspended the jail sentence
on condition that the Zanu PF officials, Passyway Mubaiwa (28), Nolia
Ndhlovu (40) and Blasio Mauka (35), do not commit a similar offence in the
next five years.

In addition, Murendo fined Mubaiwa $4 million, Ndhlovu $3 million and
Mauko $2 million.

The three were convicted for violating provisions of the Criminal Law
(Codification) and Reform Act.

Murendo acquitted Colleen Mgijima (40) - a commissioner of oaths -
initially jointly charged with the trio.

The state case was that early last year, Mubaiwa, Ndhlovu and Mauka
allegedly used their positions in Zanu PF to solicit bribes from settlers at
Whitecliff Farm whose shacks were destroyed during Operation Murambatsvina
in 2005 in exchange for houses built under Operation Garikai.

The trio were later arrested and while they awaited trial they forged
affidavits they authenticated with Mgijima in September 2006, claiming that
the complainants had withdrawn charges against them.

This led to their arrest.

Editor Mavuto prosecuted while Mubaiwa, Ndhlovu and Mauka were not
legally represented.

In July last year, Harare provincial administrator Justin Mutero
Chivavaya and Harare West district administrator Nelson Mawomo were arrested
and arraigned in court facing allegations of corruptly allocating 300 houses
and 115 stands to undeserving people at Whitecliff Farm

The two are still on bail awaiting trial.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Five AirZim planes turn back in 2 weeks

Zim Independent

Kuda Chikwanda

AIR Zimbabwe had five air turn-backs in the past two weeks alone
raising alarm over the safety of the airline, aviation sources have said.

Although Air Zimbabwe spokesperson David Mwenga made spirited denials,
businessdigest was reliably informed that the turn-backs had occurred in the
last week of August and the first week of September.

An air turn-back occurs when a plane is cleared for take-off but turns
back mid-air soon after departure after the detection of an anomaly by the
cabin or ground crew.

The sources said the problem was largely because the airline was
losing skilled technical personnel and was left with newly qualified
engineers and other technical staff who were still learning the ropes.

"We had five turn-backs in the space of two weeks. This is alarming as
the new guys are still familiarising," said one of the sources.

"Most of them still use huge manuals when doing their duties. They are
not yet that familiar with procedures and are bound to miss a thing or two
thus compromising security," .

Mwenga disputed the claims saying the airline had made five air
turn-backs in three months and said the turn-backs had been necessitated to
safeguard passenger lives.

"It is not true that we had five (turn-backs) in two weeks. We had
that many in three months. We do not apologise for that. The primary issue
is that we want to keep our passengers safe. This is a technical animal we
will be flying and when we feel that something is wrong, then an air
turn-back will occur," Mwenga said.

Mwenga said 16 engineers had left the airline in the past 12 months
because of the worsening economic crisis.

"Sixteen engineers have left the airline in the past 12 months because
of the challenges in the economy, and the majority of the 16 in the past six
months as the challenges increased," Mwenga said.

He said the current Air Zimbabwe group chief executive officer Peter
Chikumba had worked hard to improve the remuneration of engineers resulting
in only 11 of 40 remaining engineers who had been offered jobs from South
Africa and the Middle East leaving the airline.

"Not withstanding, the airline is well aware that more engineers, just
like a lot of skilled personnel elsewhere in the economy, could still get
tempted to leave given the economic climate in the country and the healthier
packages being offered elsewhere," Mwenga said.

Civil Aviation Authority of Zimbabwe (CAAZ) chief executive officer
David Chaota refused to comment.

"I don't want to talk about that. It is a security matter. Your sister
paper (The Standard) refused to respect that it was a secret matter when
they phoned me last time, so I will not tell you anything," said Chaota.

The Standard revealed two weeks ago that CAAZ was investigating one
air turn-back in an Air Zimbabwe Boeing 737 plane chartered by retired
General Solomon Mujuru which had to be called back to Harare International
Airport after it was discovered that it had been allowed to take off with
some of its panels open.

The troubled state airline has been faced with numerous challenges
which include biting fuel shortages that have taken their toll on the
airline.

This week 11 passengers found themselves stranded at Harare
International Airport after they were told that the flight from Harare
servicing the Kariba-Victoria Falls-Johannesburg route was fully booked.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

No easy money on the Zim Stock Exchange

Zim Independent

By Admire Mavolwane

INVESTING on the stock market, particularly the local one, is not for
the faint-hearted and it appears most punters who should be aware of this
precept are not.

Even those with weak nerves cannot resist the temptation of making a
quick buck that they believe can be made in shares.

As a self-reassurance measure, most of them seem to have adopted a
"simple" trading strategy which enables them to make some money although not
maximising on the profits.

The strategy is to follow the trend by buying when prices go up and
selling when prices go down.

This strategy if adopted by a large number of investors creates a
phenomenon described by Wall Street whizzes as the "impala mentality". It
also breeds a positive feedback that leads the market to accelerate its
movement, soaring or nose-diving, in which case of course it crashes.

The folly of this strategy lies in its simplicity, as making money on
the stock market is not that easy. There are no guarantees that scrip will
be available when one needs to buy the shares on their way up and neither is
there an assurance that there will be takers for the stock when one needs to
exit.

This leaves individuals, mostly speculators, at the mercy of
professional fund managers, many of whom employ contrarian strategies of
selling when the stock is on the ascendance - known in the industry as
taking profits -- and buying when prices have come down by a "determined"
amount.

While great strides have been made in eliminating ignorance and
superstition in medicine and in weather forecasting, there is still a long
way to go in reducing the naivety associated with making mounds of cash
through the stock market.

Neither has the tendency by investors to wait for official
confirmation of statistics such as inflation been eradicated.

Prior to the recent fiscal policy, the market was lethargic with
analysts pointing to poor fundamentals vis--vis price controls, reduced
company profits and general uncertainty.

In the aftermath of the fiscal policy investors are pointing to the
huge inflationary pressures likely to be stoked by the $37,1 trillion
supplementary budget, with some detractors indicating that the actual bill
will amount to the $255 trillion that line ministries had requested.

The equation is said to be out by a wide margin, as revenue
collections are likely to be depressed due to lower-than-expected company
profitability, reduced collections of stamp duty and withholding taxes
arising out of the depressed trading volumes on the ZSE in July and August,
foregone PAYE emanating from the tax bracket creep announced recently and
consequences of the Statutory Instrument 157A of 2007 which imposes a freeze
on salary increases.

Investors seemed to have reached an unholy conclusion as to how this
funding gap will be bridged. They then sought refuge in shares in their
quest to be a step ahead of anticipated future inflation.

But the question is who did not know this, when as early as April, it
was being stated that a supplementary budget was in the offing and it would
exceed the original budget by a wide margin?

The rush into shares brought forth by this sudden acquisition of
wisdom saw the market gaining 12,29% the previous Friday, Monday, 14,89% and
Tuesday, 18,67% to reach an all-time high of 68 108 881,90 points before the
selling started on Wednesday pushing the market 3,10% down.

Large parcels were exchanging hands showing that there could have been
a lot of institutional selling. Yesterday the selling turned wholesale and
those whose strategy is to buy on the way up were caught again as the
industrial index lost 7,59% to close at 60 989 737,03 points.

Investors are now waiting - yet again -- for the monetary policy
statement. In the meantime a number of punters are nursing their wounds. One
hopes they do not have to wait long before the market goes for another run.

One stock that has been a disappointment is Zimre Property Investments
(ZPI) which has been trading at around the IPO price of $1 500. Most
investors have taken a position to sell the moment the counter goes to $2
000.

However, experience shows that no downtrodden stock ever returns to
the level which investors have decided they will sell. Thus the stock is
probably doomed to several weeks of teetering below $1 900 before it
probably somersaults to $1 300. This painful process can take a while.

World renowned investment banks have dedicated Mergers and Acquisition
teams who breathe and sleep deals. The banks make their money from taking a
percentage fee based on the value of the deal. Thus the mooted US$93,4
billion Barclays/ABN deal has many salivating.

The same however could not be said of the Cottco/IDC/Olivine
Industries deal.

When Heinz Corporation partnered government in October 1982 to buy out
the company from the Margolis Family, it invested US$13,5 million for a 51%
stake. So in essence Olivine Industries was valued at roughly US$26 million.
According to a report on Zimbabwe by Eurostat published in 1990, by 1988
Heinz's investment was worth US$79 million.

In its 1988 annual report, Heinz indicated that it planned to expand
its investments to US$263 million by 1994. In an apparent fulfillment of the
promise, Chegutu Canners was established in 1992.

In the 2004 annual report, the United States-based corporation valued
its investments at US$110 million and in 2006, the Heinz board decided to
write off the US$111 million valuation that it had ascribed to its
Zimbabwean interests.

It is not surprising for some that Heinz let go of its investment at
only US$7 million, particularly since the investment had been written off
anyway. Added to this, Heinz with a market capitalisation of US$14,7
billion, receiving US$7 million for an investment that had been written off
is neither here nor there.

The question that arises surely is why would IDC sell the 49% stake it
had acquired from Heinz for US$6,8 million, when it can be reasonably
assumed that the stake could have commanded a value as high as US$55
million? Obviously we cannot begrudge Cottco, with a OMIR market
capitalisation of US$60 million on August 31, acquiring an asset worth that
much for only US$6,8 million. Investors seem to have concluded that Cottco
is now acquisitions "savvy" hence the re-rating of the company on the ZSE.

Mergers and acquisitions whizkids from institutions like Lazard or
Goldmann Sachs will attest that IDC could have extracted more US dollars out
of Cottco, unless of course there are other facultative considerations
behind the transactions which are not in the public domain.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

CZI says govt has no capacity for price controls

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

THE Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) have proposed urgent
pricing mechanisms that protect consumers and providers of goods and
service.

In a document dated August 23 and addressed to the chairperson of the
cabinet Taskforce on Price Stabilisation and Monitoring, Obert Mpofu, CZI
said it was not possible for government administrative machinery to
determine all prices.

It said that even the National Incomes and Price Commission (NIPC) did
not have the capacity to fully research and determine prices.

The document said while business should implement the June 18 base
line as directed by the taskforce, September price adjustments should be
based on the June monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) figure of 86,2%.

This means that no adjustments from the June 18 level would be more
than 77,6% during the same month, which translates to 90% of the monthly
inflation of the month under review.

"The October increases should be based in the July inflation figure.
The percentages excludes products whose prices have already been determined
by the Task Force," reads part of the document.

"The need for a self-triggering mechanism cannot be overemphasised.
For example sugar, is a raw material in some products and it has been
awarded a price increase.

"If there is no immediate corresponding movement in the price of a
product in which sugar is a significant raw material then that product's
price will clearly be affected negatively," said CZI.

The document said retailers should continue with the 20% mark up plus
15% Value Added Tax while the mark up for wholesalers was set at 12,5% for
essential consumer goods, excluding luxury ones.

"For all other product businesses (both private and public) they
should have the freedom to (determine) prices provided monthly price
increases do not exceed 90% of monthly CPI as published by CSO or such other
percentages as agreed by government and business leaders having regard to
prevailing market conditions," reads the document.

Business leaders said this was an interim solution, which could only
work while a robust and market-related pricing system was being put in place
as pricing below monthly CPI would ensure deceleration of inflation.

"Anyone requiring an increase of more 90% of CPI in any one calendar
month to submit application to NIPC who would make a determination within
seven days," the industrial body said.

Where the cost of manufacturing products is affected by the movement
in the price of controlled and monitored products which are part of a
producer's value chain, there should be an automatic trigger mechanism for
the pricing of the affected product.

"For the above recommendations to be effective foreign currency and
fuel have to be available for all producers within the formal, official
system," the CZI proposed.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Edgars closes 19 branches

Zim Independent

Jesilyn Dendere

INDUSTRIAL retail giant Edgars is reportedly closing 19 of its 55
branches and 220 employees are set to lose their jobs as the clothing retail
giant faces serious viability problems directly attributable to government's
disastrous price blitz.

businessdigest has established that Edgars will be closing down five
of its branches in Bulawayo, Gweru, Chitungwiza, Highglen and Gwanda.

Edgars will also close 14 of its Express shops in Harare, Bulawayo,
Marondera, Rusape, Chitungwiza, Bindura, Chegutu, Chiredzi, Plumtree, Gokwe,
Karoi, Mutare, and Kwekwe.

Edgars' branch roll out of 55 is divided into 27 Edgars Stores, 21
Express Stores and seven ExpressMart stores.

Edgars' officials this week said the reduction of prices had created
an artificial increased demand. They said the company had found itself in a
precarious position where it was restocking at much higher prices only to be
forced to sell at low prices in line with government's June 18 directive.

"In June, the Minister of Industry and International Trade announced
new measures to monitor and control the price of all goods and services in
the country. All this was done through the press making it impossible to
guess what precise action business was required to take. It was only on July
6 2007, after several arrests, that Statutory Instrument 142 of 2007 (SI
142) was published in the Government Gazette," said Edgars in its 2007
Interim results.

The group said SI 142 had negative effects on retail companies and
said they had already communicated to government the problems they were
faced with owing to SI 142.

"SI 142 as being applied currently, has huge ramifications for the
future of formal retailing in Zimbabwe. The current restrictions make it
difficult to run a formal retail business. We have communicated to the
authorities the various problems that are being encountered," Edgars added.

As a result, Edgars' stock levels went down to just four weeks cover
instead of the usual 10 to 12 weeks cover by the end of July.

Coupled with a current serious debt mortgaging exercise affecting 42,4
% of its balance sheet through short term borrowing of $132 billion, the
company's long term prospects appear very bleak.

Edgars is currently shouldering high finance costs of between 550% and
600% which are obtaining in the market and these have posed a very serious
threat to both its short and long-term profitability.

The company incurred finance costs amounting to $62 billion for the
interim period ending June 30.

Repeated efforts to get in touch with Edgars' managing director,
Raymond Mlotshwa were fruitless with his office saying he had been called to
South Africa by parent company Edcon to chart the way forward.

However Edgars insiders said some of the branches would be closed
permanently while others would re-open when the situation normalised. It was
not immediately clear which branches had been earmarked for permanent shut
down.

"The idea generally was to streamline the group and reduce the number
of Express shops so that we concentrate on the Edgars line," a source within
the company said.

They added that the recent move by the government to increase all
goods by 20% was inadequate and could not warrant the group's continued
survival.

"Government is saying, all goods have to be increased by 20%, It is
not feasible, as it cannot cover costs such as transportation and other
expenses incurred in running the business," the source said.

Edgars recorded a historical $245,5 billion turnover, registering an
increase of 9 510%. However, unit sales fell by 26% during the same period.

The Edgars chain grew by 8 798% while Express inclusive of Expressmart
increased sales by 9 595%. Unit sales in Edgars fell by 35% whereas units
sold in Express including Expressmart fell by 13%.

Earnings for the period rose by 68 165 to $74,5 billion. Interest
played a significant part on profitability and the financing expense of
$61,9billion was 12 756% higher than the same period last year.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Minister says walk to save fuel

Zim Independent

Pindai Dube

THE Minister of Energy and Power Development Mike Nyambuya said
motorists should get used to being pedestrians to save the scarce drops of
fuel available in the country.

Speaking at the official opening of the National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe (Noczim) service station in Matshobana on Wednesday, Nyambuya said
motorists should adjust to being pedestrians as the supply of fuel was not
improving.

"The country is facing critical fuel shortages and as government, we
encourage all Zimbabweans to reduce the number of cars on the country's
roads and walk to save the scarce fuel we have," Nyambuya said.

Analysts said Nyambuya's statement was an admission that government
was failing to find a lasting solution to the country's fuel problems which
started in 1999.

Nyambuya said the new Noczim service station had the capacity to hold
55 000 litres of petrol, 55 000 litres of diesel and 10 000 litres of
paraffin.

"In most developed countries, especially in Western countries company
executives wearing expensive suits use public transport or walk to work but
here in Zimbabwe one person wants to have 10 cars on the road each day,"
Nyambuya said.

Zimbabwe has been facing serious fuel shortages on the formal market
after the government in June gave the cash-strapped Noczim a monopoly to
import fuel after the imposition of a freeze on prices.

The Energy minister said his ministry is pursuing the development of
alternative fuel sources like bio-diesel from jatropha and the blending of
petrol with ethanol to ease fuel shortages.

In Zimbabwe, ethanol is produced only by Triangle Ltd, a sugar estate
in the Lowveld area of Chiredzi.

Zimbabwe consumes 3,5 million litres of diesel, three million litres
of petrol and five million litres of Jet A1 daily. It needs about US$130
million a month to import fuel.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Property sector to continue reviewing rates upwards

Zim Independent

Pindai Dube

THE Estate Agents Council (EAC) says the property sector will continue
reviewing property rates upwards as the sector is not affected by the
presidential decree outlawing price increases.

EAC chairman Oswald Nyakunika told the businessdigest this week that
the sector would invoke the 1983 Statutory Instruments' definitions of fair
rent to review their rates.

"Section 17C of that Statutory Instrument refers to leases and appears
basically to re-emphasise the fact that Statutory Instrument 676 of 1983
(Commercial and Industrial) and Statutory Instrument 32 of 2007 are still
operational and, therefore, definition of fair rental as contained therein
still applies and it further states that permitted increases (expenses) or
recurrent expenditure can be passed on to tenants," said Nyakunika.

President Robert Mugabe through the Presidential Powers (Temporary
Measures) Act recently imposed a six-month freeze on salary and price
increases across the board, in a move the government says was necessary to
control inflation.

Nyakunika said nothing contained therein prohibits rental negotiations
and, therefore, rentals cannot be indexed according to the Consumer Price
Index (CPI).

Real Estate Institute of Zimbabwe last month said it had submitted the
property price formula to the government for consideration, but the
authorities have remained mum on the issues which led to the sector facing
collapses.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim dollar weakens

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

ZIMBABWE'S foreign currency market was this week struck by a fresh
wave of turbulence as the local unit plummeted to a low of $280 000 to the
greenback on the parallel market due to renewed buying pressure and also in
response to the devaluation last week.

The 99,2% devaluation in the Zimbabwe dollar exchange rate against the
US dollar from $250 to $30 000 by the Minister of Finance Samuel Mumbengegwi
when presenting the mid-term fiscal policy and supplementary budget last
week has given a spark to the export sector creating renewed buying pressure
on the market.

The local unit had been trading at $250 to the US dollar since July 31
last year.

The country's defenceless dollar which opened the year at $2 900 to
the greenback crashed to fresh depth this week on the thriving parallel
market reinforcing gloomy forecasts of an unprecedented acceleration in the
rate of inflation currently at $7 634,8% for July.

Other major trading currencies - the British pound, the South African
rand and Botswana pula, were moving around the benchmark US dollar rate.

The local unit was trading above $490 000, $44 000 and $39 000 to the
British pound, the Botswana pula and the South African rand respectively on
Thursday.

The local currency had opened the year trading at $5 100, $400 and
$380 to the British pound, Botswana and South African rand repectively.

The crush of the dollar against major currencies erodes the purchasing
power of consumers who were already reeling from high prices and shortages
of basic commodities.

Considering exchange rate relationships, an exchange rate of US$1 to
$280 000 measures in part how much of a US good (for example one loaf of
bread) is paid in the US relative to the price paid for the same good in
Zimbabwe - the Purchasing Power Parity.

The progression of the Zimbabwe dollar exchange rate is a reflection
of the progression of real prices on the ground in the country relative to
prices of the same good in US dollars.

It can be observed that the parallel exchange rate of US$1 was $2 900
on January 2 shot to $280 000 as of yesterday, but the price level of goods
purchased in the US remained at US$1 between January and September 6, while
the price level for the same goods over the same period in Zimbabwe moved in
relative terms, from $2 900 to $280 000, representing 9 655,1% inflation per
annum.

Bank economists this week said the Zimbabwe dollar was still battling
to find a bottom on the parallel market due to escalating demand from both
institutional buyers and individuals trying to escape inflation-induced
losses on local currency holdings.Economists also said the dollar would
crush further on the parallel market in response to the devaluation by
Mumbengegwi.

Economic consultant John Robertson said parallel market rates would
continue to rise until foreign currency inflows improve and major sectors of
the economy start performing.

"The hyperinflationary environment had made it unattractive to hold
the local currency when costs for goods and services go up almost everyday,"
Robertson said.

Independent economic analysts this week said the frail currency would
reach a fair value of $1,5 million to the US unit by December.

The fair value is the realistic value of the currency taking into
account inflation differentials between Zimbabwe and its trading partner
countries.

It is not necessarily the official exchange rate.

The projections support gloomy forecasts made by the International
Monetary Fund (IMF) suggesting that Zimbabwe's economic crisis in likely to
accelerate at an unprecedented rate next year with inflation likely to
average 100 000% by December with real gross domestic product (GDP)
contracting by 4,7%.

Apart from demand and supply, the direction of the movement of the
local currency to the US dollar had been triggered by policies adopted in
the monetary policy, increased maximum cash withdrawals, the Reserve Bank
buying foreign currency on the parallel market, adjustment of the exchange
rate and availability of fuel.

Zimbabwe is currently battling an acute foreign currency shortage that
has stoked severe fuel shortages and disrupted normal economic activities.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Investors respond positively to budget

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

INVESTORS are reacting positively to last week's mid-term fiscal
policy statement and 2007 Supplementary Budget as they frantically looked
for an inflation-proof home for their investment funds.

The industrial index gained 21 505 954,67 points to reach 65 996
610,02 points on Wednesday from 44 490 653,35 points whilst the resources
index shot up to 53 462 034,42 points from 28 702 535,36 during the same
period.

The Minister of Finance Samuel Mumbengegwi presented a $37,1 trillion
budget to be allocated to various sectors of the economy despite initial
submissions of $255 trillion by the ministries.

This means that the budget has "significant" inflationary consequences
despite the current price controls, a development that will force a
correction in equities otherwise they will become undervalued.

Since the beginning of the year short term investors have been
pocketing millions of dollars on the stock market largely due to rising
inflation.

Given investors' quest to hedge their assets against the
wealth-destruction effects of inflation, the outlook for equities in the
long term will depend on the degree to which the various counters are able
to profitably operate in this environment of price controls. Although
Mumbengegwi dismissed the $255 trillion request as "beyond government's
domestic financing capacity", bank economists this week said government
would be forced to spend more than the $37,1 trillion.

An investor who might have bought 200 British America Tobacco shares
at $90 million last week on Wednesday could pocket $150 million if he had
sold the same shares on Wednesday.

200 Old Mutual and ABCH shares bought during the same period at $123
million and $12 million would be sold at $160 million and $22 million
respectively if sold during the same period.

During Wednesday's afternoon trade the industrial and mining index
retreated slightly, briefly reflecting profit-taking by investors as they
await new information to be presented by Reserve Bank governor, Gideon Gono
in his monetary policy statement expected before the end of the month.

The monetary policy framework has already been set by the expansionary
nature of the supplementary budget presented last week.

Given that the $2,4 trillion budget deficit for the first half of the
year was funded from domestic borrowings that saw local debt shooting to
$8,1 trillion due to high interest charges of $6,1 trillion compared to the
borrowed amount of only $1,96 trillion, the authorities are expected to keep
the treasury bill rate at 340% so that government continues to borrow
cheaply.

Economists who spoke to businessdigest this week said the $37,1
trillion which is seven times below initial submission of $255 trillion
would force the Reserve Bank to print more money to cover the gap as
borrowing from the financial sector was insufficient due to the unattractive
nature of public debt mobilisation instruments such as the treasury bill
which stands at 340% per annum against an annual inflation rate of 7 635%
for July.

While the inflationary budget has revived a bullish trend on the
equities market, the devaluation of the dollar gave further boosted
exporting and mining counters.

Exporters' exchange rate was devalued by 50% from the Drought
Mitigation and Economic Stabilisation Fund (DMESF) rate of $15 000 to $30
000.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Budget pushes fuel prices up

Zim Independent

Kuda Chikwanda

FINANCE minister Samuel Mumbengegwi made life harder for the business
community and ordinary Zimbabweans as fuel shot up from around $250 000 a
litre to between $320 000 and $350 000 a litre. Importers immediately
cushioned themselves from increases to the price of fuel made Mumbengegwi in
his mid-term fiscal budget by pushing increases to the price of fuel to the
end user.

Mumbengegwi increased the customs duty on petroleum products, the
National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) debt redemption levy and carbon
tax to $5 000, $2 500 and $5 000 a litre respectively.

However importers reacted by passing on the cost to the customer
resulting in the price of fuel on the parallel market - the only place where
it is currently being found. Prices shot up to between $320 000 and $350 000
a litre this week.

The increases reflected some form of government turnaround from its
stance that price increases were unjustified but there was no progress on
the front of negotiations with business over price increases in excess of
20%.

Government has already stated that it believes in blanket mark-ups of
20% to all commodities and has stressed to the business community that it
believes that the 20% markup will provide "healthy" profit margins.

Business has argued that as long as government cannot guarantee
sufficient foreign currency resources for the business community and also
secure adequate fuel supplies, businesses will be forced to source them from
the parallel market and prices will continue to increase.

The increases in duty, carbon tax and the Noczim debt redemption levy
are likely to yield nothing for government, the business community and
end-users for as long as fuel remains a scarce commodity in the country.

Government is battling to secure adequate fuel imports but has failed
repeatedly with suppliers refusing to continue supplying Zimbabwe over
non-payment of debts.

Zimbabwe needs over US$130 million a month to secure sufficient fuel
for the nation's requirements.

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Callisto Jokonya
said businesses had been sourcing their foreign currency and fuel
requirements on the parallel market for over five years now.

Jokonya said in their view the parallel market was supposed to be
called the free market as it was the only market where market forces
interacted freely.

"I call it the free market and not the parallel or black market
because it is the market where free market forces interact. And business has
operated on the free market for the past five years, in that period never
got our foreign currency or fuel from the official market."

Jokonya said while the increases would hurt industry owing to fuel
being a major cost driver, business had become accustomed to paying through
the nose for foreign currency and fuel supplies.

He added that Mumbengegwi's adjustments to fuel prices was a clear
admission by government that it was impossible to hold the costs of
commodities down in Zimbabwe's prevailing inflationary environment.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

70,1 million kg tobacco sold

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

A TOTAL of 70,1 million kg of tobacco valued at US$164,3 million
($118,5 billion) were sold at the close of the 2007 selling season figures
obtained yesterday from the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board revealed.

During the same period last year a total of 54 173 445 kg were sold,
the figure rose to 55,5 million kg following 1,4 million kg which were sold
during the two clean up sales which were done after the close of the
official selling season.

Of the 70,1 kg million, BMZ handled 9,1 million kg valued at US$22
million, TSL and ZITAC processed transactions of 11 million kg and 8,6
million valued at US$26,7 million and US$21,1 million respectively. Contract
farming accounted for 41,3 million kg valued at US$94,5 million.

The 70 million kg is a far cry from the impoverished country's glory
days, when tobacco production reached a record high of 236,13 million kg.

TIMB acting chief executive Andrew Matibiri said the industry was
targeting to increase production to 120 million kg next year, following the
purchase of seed enough to cover 95 000 hectares.

"We intend to have 60 000 hectares of land under tobacco to produce
120 million kilogrammes of tobacco next season. Although we have the usual
problems of lack of inputs such as fertiliser and power outages we are
confident we will be able to reach next year's target," Matibiriri said.

Zimbabwe Tobacco Association chief executive Rodney Ambrose said the
just ended selling season was one of the best in terms of marketing due to
support from the government and the Reserve Bank.
Government disbursed a support price of $5,1 trillion this year.

The opening of this year's selling season was however marred by a
dispute over pricing between farmers and buyers as growers withheld their
crop in protest over prices.

Tobacco growers wanted an adjustment on the exchange rate to US$1 to
$180 000 and that the retention scheme be either raised or maintained.

From April 25, tobacco growers who sold leaf tobacco at the auction
floors to July 31 were entitled to a 35% delivery and early delivery bonus.
The support framework was based on the actual value of tobacco sold on the
auction floors.

RBZ governor Gideon Gono said the cut-off of July 31 took into account
unanticipated logistical challenges experienced by growers during the
preparation of this year's crop for marketing. Gono said sales made after
the cut-off date and before August 31 would attract a reduced delivery bonus
of 15%, after the date a delivery bonus did not apply.

He said under the new framework tobacco growers would be paid for all
tobacco sold at the auction floors at the prevailing interbank rate. As a
result the 15% Tobacco Growers Retention was discontinued.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Finance Bill almost through

Zim Independent

Paul Nyakazeya

THE Finance and Appropriation Bills 2007 this week passed through
senate without amendments and is now awaiting President Robert Mugabe's
assent.

If passed the Bill will give effect to the fiscal measures announced
by Finance Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi in his maiden mid term fiscal policy
and supplementary budget last week.

Mumbengegwi said the Finance Bill would, among others, amend clauses
of the Finance Act that fixed rates of tax, duty, levy and other charges so
that these could be altered through Statutory Instruments when appropriate
instead of waiting until parliament ratified them. The Bill would also allow
adjustment of the minimum taxable incomes.

The Bill also seeks to allow ministries to draw funds allocated in the
supplementary budget from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

Mumbengegwi said apart from benefiting workers, measures contained in
the budget were also meant to stimulate production.

"Once we stimulate production, our economy would be on the road to
recovery," Mumbengegwi said.

Some ministers and senators this week accused Mumbengegwi of
allocating less money to "important ministries" at the expense of those
which did not require much money.

Minister Mumbengegwi defended the allocations, saying due
consideration was made with relevant ministries before funds were allocated.

An analysis of budget statistics shows that government was living
beyond its means as recurrent expenditure was greater than current tax
revenue.

In principle recurrent expenditure should be entirely financed from
current revenue such that any deficit to be reported would have been
incurred through expenditure on capital projects.

Movement for Democratic Change Secretary General Tendai Biti said
government's claim that the supplementary budget would not exceed the
original budget presented in December 2006 by 800% betrayed a "lack of
elementary understanding of the nuts and bolts of economics".

"Even more importantly, it exposes the fact that the regime has no
control over this failing economy and worse still, that they do not care,"
said Biti.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Commissions run Zimbabwe

Zim Independent

Constantine Chimakure

OVER the past 10 years, President Robert Mugabe's government has
established more than a dozen commissions to run various arms of government.

Some of the commissions have taken over the powers of permanent
secretaries and cabinet ministers to run parastatals, but little has taken
place to turn around the fortunes of the quasi-government companies.

The government has over the years established, among other
commissions, the Zimbabwe Electricity Regulatory Authority, the Competition
and Tariffs Commission, the Anti-Corruption Commission, the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission, the Harare Commission and the Media and Information
Commission.

But it is the latest commission that has stolen the thunder from the
rest. The new commission has rendered most ministers superfluous.

It is the National Incomes and Pricing Commission that took over
powers formerly vested in ministers to approve, among others, school fees,
tariffs and charges by government departments, state universities, statutory
bodies, including statutory professional associations, and companies where
the state is a majority or sole shareholder.

All fee increases by non-governmental schools since June 18 were
forbidden and have to be approved by the new commission.

Simply put, the commission took over the powers of the secretary for
Education, Sport and Culture in approving and setting fees at
non-governmental schools. It has also taken over the powers of the
ministries of Labour and that of Industry in negotiating with employers and
manufacturers salaries and prices of goods and services respectively.

The commission was also charged with the power to make pay awards and
fees and price increases of goods and services by the private sector.

The commission was given sweeping powers just over a week ago under
the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act which fall away in six
months unless parliament amends the Commission Act and the Education Act.

All this was done as part of government's price blitzkrieg that
started in July and saw manufacturers, wholesalers and retailers forced to
slash prices of goods and services by 50%. The blitz has left many shops
empty.

The government also implemented these measures in a bid to bring
inflation down since all increases would be less than the current inflation
rate.

However, this week analysts said the establishment of commissions was
a clear sign of a government in desperation.

They argued that the powers of the National Incomes and Pricing
Commission reveal that it was now indeed running the show in Zimbabwe -
albeit for only six months.

"We have so many statutory commissions in this country," argued
political analyst Michael Mhike. "Some are for regulating the electricity
industry and others to fight company monopolies. The commissions have done
little, while others nothing at all for the benefit of the country besides
drawing huge sums of money from the fiscus which could have been channelled
towards social development."

Mhike said the introduction of the National Incomes and Pricing
Commission with sweeping powers rendered ministries useless.

"The commission is like a mini-cabinet and will run the show in the
ministries of Labour, Education and Industry for the next six months using
the powers it was granted by the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures)
Act," Mhike added.

Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Wellington Chibebe
said the introduction of the commission was contrary to the spirit of the
three protocols under the social contract signed on June 1.

"Indeed, the new commission is too powerful and to us it is against
what we signed for on June 1. We never agreed on a salary freeze. In fact
the agreement was that salaries would be pegged to the poverty datum line,"
Chibebe said.

"The new commission is no longer going to be made up of social
partners as agreed during the social contract talks."

The major objective of the social contract was to stabilise incomes
and prices, restore industrial productivity and management of foreign
currency.

Three protocols were signed under the social contract - Incomes and
Pricing Stabilisation Protocol, Restoration of Production Viability Protocol
and the Protocol on Mobilisation, Pricing and Management of Foreign
Currency.

But Minister of Industry and International Trade Obert Mpofu sees
things differently.

He told The Herald recently that the setting up of an all-powerful
National Incomes and Pricing Commission, among others, was aimed at
addressing national concerns.

"The measures the government has taken are measures that were agreed
to at our (Zanu PF) conference in Goromonzi. They were endorsed by the
politburo and adopted by the central committee," Mpofu said. "Detractors
will find that what they were trying to do has come unstuck."

While Zimbabwe is busy coming up with various commissions to eclipse
the powers of government ministries and departments, across the Limpopo,
South Africa is consolidating commissions to, among other things, cut costs
of running them, lack of administrative and financial independence and
removal of duplication of duties.

According to a 260-page report by an ad hoc committee set up by the
government of South Africa to be tabled in parliament soon, there was need
for a single umbrella body to replace the many commissions in the country.

The committee wants the Commission on Gender Equity, the Public
Service Commission, the National Youth Commission, the Human Rights
Commission and the Commission for the Promotion and the Protection of the
Rights of the Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, among others,
merged.

In what was termed a bold move in the South African media, the
committee proposed the establishment of an umbrella body to be called the
Commission on Human Rights and Equity, and in addition to improving ease of
access, it would also make parliamentary oversight simpler.

It, therefore, remains to be seen whether Zimbabwe will continue to
churn out new commissions to the detriment of its flagging economy or adopt
what appears to be South Africa's more rational move to merge commissions
and thereby get better value for money.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

SABC in media war

Zim Independent

BELOW we publish edited excerpts from an August 31 letter from South
African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) group CEO Dali Mpofu to Jovial
Rantao, chairperson of the South African National Editors' Forum (Sanef) in
which Mpofu announces the SABC's withdrawal from the forum over its stance
on the Manto Tshabalala-Msimang medical-records furore.

Our breakfast meeting last Tuesday, 21 August 2007 refers.

I have since been contemplating your request for the SABC to restore
its active participation in Sanef .
I indicated to you that despite our strong objections to some of the
stances previously taken by your organisation, especially those individuals
who can clearly be identified with the dominant right-wing conservative wing
of your organisation, my personal belief was that in the new democracy, it
was incumbent on all who treasure our freedom not to leave any uncontested
space for those who seek to undermine or misrepresent it.

I added that the time for boycotting these institutions was over and
that it was a duty of democrats to populate and transform them.

After outlining some of the frustrations we experienced in the past
with the unfair and sometimes malicious treatment of the SABC at the hands
of your organisation and your members, I accepted your assurances that your
new leadership intended to transform the organisation for the better and in
turn I promised to revert to you with a considered view as to the extent and
nature of our future participation in or cooperation with Sanef .

Coincidentally, the period of my own contemplation of our discussion
as well as consultation with the Group Executive Committee coincided with
some disturbing developments on the side of your organisation, yourself and
the mainstream of your membership core, particularly around the matter of
the actions of Mondli Makhanya and the Sunday Times regarding the medical
records of the health minister.

This episode has unfortunately rubbed salt into the wounds which
characterise the relationship between our two organisations.

Literally on the day of our breakfast I saw you, acting in your
capacity as Sanef chairperson, on our evening SABC television news
unconditionally justifying the appalling behaviour of the Sunday Times,
presumably including their participation in or benefiting from the theft of
medical documents .

The following day, Monday, 27 August 2007, happened to be our monthly
Group Executive Committee meeting.

I raised the issue of our future participation in Sanef and received
the unanimous view that we should terminate and withdraw from any remaining
or possible future relationship with Sanef. This was in line with my
recommendation to that effect. This decision was yesterday conveyed to and
received the full support of our board.
It is clear that Sanef has reached some consensus around a particular
conservative, self-serving ideological position on the issue of the role of
the media in our society. It is a consensus which is diametrically opposed
to our stance, which is based on a contextual interpretation of our
constitution and the values underlying our bill of rights, which form the
foundation of our freedom and our hard-won democracy.

The nonsensical view that the media is absolutely "free" to trample
the privacy and dignity of any citizen offends against the SABC's own
values.

As editor-in-chief of the SABC, it is my duty to inform you that we
will no longer stand idle whilst we are being made a whipping-boy and a
scapegoat by the profit-driven media.

Even less are we prepared to associate with the enemies of our freedom
and our people. We cannot remain quiet while our mothers and our
democratically-chosen leaders are stripped naked for the sole reason of
selling newspapers. This in Women's Month!

When you and the Raymond Louws of this world justify criminal theft
you must know that you are not speaking for the SABC and the majority of
South Africans.

The same people who at the beginning of the year were frothing in the
mouth about how soft the government is on crime are now flag bearers for the
theft of medical records, which might actually result in endangering a human
being's life and her future treatment!

How inhumane and how far removed from the basic value of ubuntu.

Shame on all of you, especially those who have turned their backs on
your own cultural values for 30 pieces of silver, pretending to be converted
to foreign, frigid and feelingless "freedoms".

The parameters of our freedom will be determined by the people who
brought that freedom about and not the apologists for those who inherently
resent it and its foundational values.

Please note that our decision to break ties with your organisation is
based on the epidemic deterioration of journalistic ethics within your ranks
and disrespect for our people.

The decision is with immediate effect and will stand until such time
that you address these issues openly and to our satisfaction.

Are black editors savages incapable of comprehending the intricacies
of 'foreign' values such as press freedom? The Sowetan Editor Thabo Leshilo
reacts to Dali Mpofu's comments.

I developed an uncanny ability to detect racist slurs and stereotyping
very early in life.

To me, the most demeaning caricature remains that of black Africans as
subhuman savages who missed the evolutionary bus.

Sadly, that stereotype persists to this day in the idea that black
people are concerned only with fulfilling their immediate basic needs.

And many black commentators perpetuate the backward notion that we
black people should not be concerned with such esoteric and European issues
as global warming or media freedom. Last week's letter from SABC CEO, Dali
Mpofu, to Sanef is the most explicit display I have yet encountered of the
racist notion that genuine concern about the erosion of press freedom is
nothing but a bourgeois indulgence or a white pastime.

Freedom of the press was so sacrosanct in our liberation struggle that
we enshrined it in the constitution. The SABC bigwigs suggest that freedom
of expression is the concern of a few white men, such as veteran media
freedom fighter Raymond Louw.

They maintain that those black people who squander time on media
freedom in the face of our huge social and economic crisis are the black
surrogates of the right-wing enemies of the democratic government.

They count among these surrogates Sunday Times editor Mondli Makhanya,
Mail & Guardian editor Ferial Haffajee and myself.

Well, things are not yet perfect in our fledgling democracy, even if
we have by far the freest media in Africa.

The democratic government recently launched an assault on our media
freedom in the form of pre-publication censorship contained in the Films and
Publications Amendment Bill.

Let me defer to Oom Ray. "Despite the constitutional guarantees of
media freedom in South Africa, there are signs the government and its
diehard allies are slowly but surely imitating repressive governments' ways
in their quest to hinder freedom of the media and freedom of expression,"
Louw said last year.

"This is reflected in the conduct of their officials in seeking to
restrict the media. Access to information is not as readily available today
as it was in the glow of 1994, which has rapidly faded.

"We now see spin-doctoring, if not downright lies, when uncomfortable
and embarrassing information is to be dealt with, and much withholding of
information."

His observations are glaringly true to all working journalists - and
all freedom-loving South Africans should be concerned.

The campaign against media freedom tries to portray independent media
as being motivated solely by profit, and therefore unqualified to hold
public officials accountable.
Walk lightly there, my friend.

Mpofu forgets that he gorges royally at the public trough.

We in the independent press have to prove our worth to the public on a
daily basis.

What's more, Mpofu seems to forget that SABC advertising revenue comes
from commercial enterprises. Another favoured missile launched at the
independent media is articulated by Mpofu himself, who says that in a new
democracy it is "incumbent on all who treasure our freedom not to leave any
uncontested space for those who seek to undermine or misrepresent it".

In other words, all black journalists and editors should rally behind
him in the SABC's imaginary war against "black haters" who hide behind press
freedom to "hijack our democracy".

Sorry, Dali, I'm unavailable for this intellectual buffoonery.

Similarly, you have only yourself to blame for your inability to
understand that Sanef could accept funding from the SABC and still criticise
it. That is what happens in a democracy.

Mpofu and his cronies want to ram down our throats their sycophantic
brand of "patriotic journalism".

This non-journalism would have us extol the expertise of the surgeons
who successfully implanted Manto Tshabalala-Msimang's new liver to show that
we have world-class medical expertise.

The Sunday Times is today the most hated newspaper in government
circles because it dared tell the public that she is a convicted thief whose
ineptitude has ruined our public health system.

Mpofu tells us that such reporting in the public interest is inhumane
and inimical to the values of ubuntu.

He pours scorn on Sanef for defending the newspaper's right to bring
us these stories, saving his worst vitriol for Sanef's black members,
accusing them of having traded their integrity for money and "pretending to
be converted to foreign, frigid and feelingless 'freedoms'".

There we go again: because we are black, we cannot believe in the
freedom of the press, but only pretend to be converted.

We are, after all, savages incapable of comprehending the intricacies
of such "foreign" universal values as press freedom in a free society.

.Thabo Leshilo a member of Sanef. He writes in his personal capacity


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Budget loyal to power retention

Zim Independent

By Tendai Biti

POOR Sam Mumbengegwi! Some men are gifted enough to hide their
mediocrity or at least to hide the mediocrity of their work. But alas, the
talentless Minister of Finance possesses neither attribute.

The supplementary budget he presented on September 6 is an indictment
not just of the person of Mumbengegwi but of the regime in Harare.

That the supplementary budget can exceed the original budget presented
in December 2006 by 800% betrays a lack of elementary understanding of the
nuts and bolts of economics. But even more importantly, it exposes the fact
that the regime has no control over this failing economy and, worse still,
that it does not care.

The very appointment of Mumbengegwi as a replacement of the affable
Herbert Murerwa is a reflection that President Robert Mugabe does not give a
hoot about basic economic housekeeping fundamentals such as budget balancing
and macro-economic stability.

A number of critical issues arise with this supplementary budget. The
first is that as a supplementary budget, it is not located in any policy
framework. The budget is a major fiscal tool that should be grounded in some
major policy framework.

The existing fiscal planning tool that this regime is nominally bound
by is the National Economic Develeopment Priority Programme (NEDPP) launched
in March 2006. The budget therefore should have been a complementary tool
for the objectives and roadmap designed in the NEDPP. Sadly, the
supplementary budget is not anchored in this. Instead, it is a hotchpotch of
contradictory and self-defeating policy tools.

Stripped to its bare bones, the supplementary budget betrays the
contradiction in the Zanu PF state between, on the one hand, the need to be
loyal to basic economic fundamentals and, on the other, the power retention
agenda in which state resources will be spent without reason, logic or limit
purely for the purposes of maintaining and reproducing power.

Thus, while Mumbengegwi implicitly acknowledges the catalpetic effect
that a huge budget deficit has on inflation and fiscal discipline, he
nevertheless succumbs to the power retention agenda by producing a
supplementary budget that is loyal to this cause and this cause only.

One finds that the amounts allocated to the President's Office (which
houses the notorious Central Intelligence Organisation), the Ministry of
Defence and the Ministry of Home Affairs are a staggering $12,662 trillion,
which is 33% of the supplementary budget.

If one adds the traditional government slush fund - the unallocated
reserve under the Ministry of Finance vote - of $2,4 trillion, then in fact
the amount being allocated to the securocrats is 43% of the supplementary
budget.

The net effect of the expansionary fiscal deliquency is that there
will be a major increase in the stockpile of domestic debt from $8,1
trillion to at least $16 trillion, in our view.

Furthermore, while a huge budget deficit does not necessarily have to
be destructive, ours is, given that more than 70% of that budget consists of
consumptive recurrent expenditure in the form of interest payments and
wages. To the extent that the budget deficit and the debt are financed by
domestic borrowings, the government has yet to engineer negative interest
rates with the consequent debilitating effect on savings.

What it means right now is that Zimbabwe is experiencing negative net
savings of -5% of gross domestic product (GDP). Without savings being at
least 30% of GDP, there is no way this regime, or any other government for
that matter, can resolve the supply side of the economy through use of
domestic resources.

What it means, therefore, is that Mugabe's policies have made this
country more dependent on foreign inflows for the recovery of our economy.

Put simply, the regime that has made sovereignty its national mantra
has stolen the economic sovereignty of this country.

A key question to be asked is: how will this government finance the
supplementary budget?

In answering this question, one must recognise the minister's
admission that of the cumulative revenue of $3,4 trillion collected up to
June, 30,3% came from value-added tax (VAT). But since June 18, when the
government embarked on its crackdown on prices, or ginyanomics as we called
it, the receipts from VAT have shrunk by more than 80% as a result of that
ill-advised adventure.

The situation is going to get worse in view of the enactment, through
presidential powers, of the new price control regulations, SI 159A/2007.

However, one does not need to be a rocket scientist to understand that
the regime has set itself up for further printing of money. With all the
disastrous consequences associated with this treasonous act, the act of
printing money has unashamedly been glorified to the status of a
revolutionary achievement!

Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono, defending the same in
the latest edition of the banal New African magazine, states as follows:
"Only the bullfighter knows what goes on in the ring . . . We are guided by
conviction and not convention, and where convention meets conviction, well
and good. What drives us is the belief that we are doing the correct thing .
. ."

That is Zanu PF economics for you!

Moreover, the fact that the supplementary budget is presented without
disclosing the estimated revenue is quite clearly dangerous and
unacceptable. In any case, it is an implicit breach of the provisions of
Section 103 of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, which requires full disclosure
of both the revenue and expenditure components in an Appropriation Bill.

A further glaring contradiction of the budget statement is the
devaluation of the Zimbabwe dollar by 99,2%. As we have argued before, any
devaluation done that is disconnected to an overall supply side strategy
engendered by a comprehensive fiscal and monetary policy is meaningless. It
will simply exacerbate the crisis. The same is true of the devaluation.

Firstly, it is unrealistic given that the parallel market rate of the
Zimbabwe currency is $250 000 to the US unit. There is no chance therefore
that the latest move will have any meaningful effect towards the stimulation
of exports. All it will do is to add further distortions to the exchange
rate matrix.

The same is true of the move to increase the minimum tax threshold to
$4 million. Given that the poverty datum line is $8,5 million, $4 million
becomes an insult. Moreover, another pertinent question is whether there is
still a significant number of people in formal employment.

The supplementary budget fails to acknowledge the quasi-fiscal
activities that have become a favourite pastime at the RBZ, which
quasi-fiscal activities have never been scrutinised by parliament. In the
2006 financial year, the amount of money spent by the RBZ in quasi-fiscal
activities was $370,9 billion, which was at par with the national budget
presented by Murerwa, who then paid a price for the full disclosure of those
activities by being fired.

Quite clearly, the out-of-depth Mumbengegwi has neither the courage
nor reason to demand full disclosure from the RBZ. The point being made is
that the national debt and the budget deficit in real terms are much higher
than what has so far been disclosed.

Furthermore, it means that the push on inflation and the further
impoverishment of the ordinary Zimbabwean will increase. Put simply, we are
in a rut!

One cannot run an economy on the basis of throwing lots or consulting
sangomas. At least under Simba Makoni there was an element of comprehension
of rudimentary economics.

Clearly, the task at hand is beyond the overfed fellows at number 80
Samora Machel Avenue and at Munhumutapa building. As we have argued before,
only a political solution, predicated on a new, people-driven constitution
and free and fair elections, is a starting point to the resolution of the
multi-faceted Zimbabwean crisis.

Otherwise this house has fallen!

Tendai Biti is MDC secretary-general and MP for Harare East.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zanu PF bribes traditional chiefs

Zim Independent

THE Zanu PF bribery show took centre-stage once again on Monday when
Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo doled out luxury double-cab Mazda
vehicles to 48 chiefs in a desperate bid to bribe traditional leaders ahead
of a critical election.

The MDC is aware that the vehicles are meant to be the traditional
leaders' boarding passes on the Zanu PF gravy train.

The regime is staring rejection by the people in next year's election.

It is no coincidence that the vehicles are being handed over now.

The regime has simply gone back to its rigging manual by extending
this largesse to unassuming traditional leaders in order to persuade them to
do Zanu PF's bidding in the run-up to the watershed plebiscite.

The handing out of luxury vehicles comes just weeks after the regime
squandered billions of taxpayers' money on scotch-carts and ox-drawn ploughs
to be given to headmen and chiefs ahead of the elections.

The MDC condemns the continued abuse of traditional leaders by a
regime that has lost all moral and political legitimacy to govern.

Traditional leaders are the custodians of our moral and cultural
values.

They are our respected elders chosen not because of their political
affiliation, but because of their role in cementing relations and solving
civic disputes in our communities.

The Zanu PF regime has torn this moral code of conduct of our
traditional leaders by coercing them to adopt its discredited agenda. The
MDC is aware that most of our chiefs are a noble people.

They are against their continued abuse but are also aware of the
legendary Zanu PF vengeance against those who speak or act against it.

In the new Zimbabwe, we will look back with disgust and say never
again should a government commit the cardinal sin of coercing respected
traditional leaders to dabble in politics.

In the new Zimbabwe, no government should abuse civic institutions and
our respected elders for selfish political ends that are inimical to their
traditional roles.

An MDC government shall restore the dignity of the chiefs as the
custodians of our moral and cultural values and not as an appendage of the
ruling elite.

We have to start afresh as a nation. We have to restore our lost
dignity as a nation and as a people.

A new Zimbabwe is not a dream. It is a reality about to happen.

MDC Information and Publicity Department


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Is social contract dead?

Zim Independent

Comment

WE can safely assert that government acted unilaterally when it
decreed in July that prices of all goods and services should be reduced by
half, or at the very least, cut to June 18 levels.

This decision was taken without sufficient consultation with business,
in the interests of the social contract as envisaged in the three protocols
signed on June1.

Although the price reductions could have been a boon for labour given
the low wages most workers earn, the unintended consequences by way of empty
shelves were entirely predictable.

We can again safely say that government acted in breach of the same
protocols in relation to labour when President Robert Mugabe used the
Presidential Powers Act to freeze all wage reviews until the end of the year
when most workers' earnings are already far below the poverty datum line and
the inflation rate of over 7 600%.

More than that, the workers would not have accepted such a decision,
even if they were consulted, given that the prices of most basic commodities
are rising daily in both the formal and the informal markets.

The implication is that salaries and wages have not been frozen but
have in fact been reduced in inverse proportion as prices of commodities
have gone up. This does not augur well for the social contract which, it was
hoped, would help economic recovery.

While it is premature to conclude that government is acting in bad
faith with its social partners, one cannot avoid that temptation given the
heavy-handedness with which it has dealt with businesses which have been
accused of defying its price decree.

Unfortunately, both business and labour have reacted amateurishly to
government's gangsterish bullying. There are unconfirmed reports of firms
not restocking goods to avoid being burnt twice.

Labour for its part has announced a two-day stayaway next week to
protest the wage freeze. In other words both are reacting individually,
rather than nationally, to government's irrational behaviour.

To us this response is only correct as a political gesture. Both
business and labour want to be seen to be doing something rather than
actually doing something that will force government to change its ways. Both
are reacting in a way that seeks to exacerbate the spirit of confrontation
rather than alleviate the fermenting national crisis. The consumer and the
worker always come out worse off.

In the case of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), given
claims that over 80% of potential workers are unemployed, how many workers
are they expecting to heed the call to stay away? Does this include civil
servants? Does this include informal traders who take such occasions as a
chance to make money? How many people need to heed the call for it to be
deemed a success?

So far the only certainty about the ZCTU stayaway is that it is going
to be two days on September 19-20. What happens after the second day given
that any government worth the name won't yield to anything less than massive
industrial action? Do they return to the same double-prejudiced employer to
ask for a salary adjustment, where they will be told to "go and talk to your
government"?

What is the impact of a few workers staying at home on the two days
and then returning to work afterwards still empty-handed? If you want to be
taken seriously as a labour union, you cannot engage in a war of attrition
with government in an economy in which the worker is starving.

Last year ZCTU leaders were rounded up outside Town House where they
wanted to march against low wages, lack of access to antiretroviral drugs
for its members and high taxes, and were severely assaulted in police
custody. There is no doubt that circumstances have deteriorated further
since then. What is in doubt is whether the ZCTU leadership has itself
changed strategies and tactics to avoid a similar fate this time around.

Then of course there is the issue of the social contract. Is it dead?
Is it alive? Who has met his side of the bargain among the three partners?
There is no use blaming government for its collapse when labour and business
can't demonstrate that they have been faithful to terms of the protocols. It
simply exposes them as equally culpable.

Has there been any attempt to engage government or the responsible
commission on the salary freeze before resorting to the economically
damaging industrial action? We have seen businesses being allowed to review
their prices to a point where a loaf of bread now costs more than $130 000
from about $30 000 two weeks ago. Has the ZCTU tried to present its case
within that context before engaging in a fight it is certain to lose?

At times one detects in the responses of labour and business the same
lack of resourcefulness and mature leadership that have been the hallmark of
Zimbabwe's political opposition for the past seven years. Their actions are
more designed to posture and win public sympathy than to advance a
transformative agenda from the status quo.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Banking on a false pregnancy?

Zim Independent

Candid Comment

by Joram Nyathi

THE talks between Zanu PF and the MDC are becoming a veritable
conundrum. South African president Thabo Mbeki told the recent Sadc summit
in Lusaka that there was progress in the talks. Zanu PF's pointman at the
talks, Patrick Chinamasa, trashed the subject at the same summit, saying
there was no need for constitutional changes because "Zimbabwe is a
democracy like any other democracy".

The MDC had made a new constitution one of its key demands at the
talks although no one seriously believed they would get one before next year's
synchronised presidential and parliamentary election. It was a demand with
more tactical value than electoral advantage.

Then on Friday it was reported that the Zanu PF politburo was happy
with the progress of the talks. They were responding to a report on the
issue by the same Chinamasa.

While they were patting Chinamasa on the back, MDC faction leader
Morgan Tsvangirai was thanking Australia's John Howard for a job well done
in piling pressure on the Zanu PF government to change, and for expelling
the children of government officials studying in that country. Is there any
sense that these people share a common vision for the future of Zimbabwe?

Closer to home, Mbeki insisted from the onset that he would not be
discussing anything with MDC "factions". So the two pointmen, Welshman Ncube
and Tendai Biti, go to South Africa as representatives of the MDC. But back
home the two MDCs can't sit around the same table. So what do they tell
Mbeki when they meet in Pretoria? What do they talk about when they meet
Zanu PF's Nicholas Goche and Chinamasa?

But that is not the end of the jigsaw. It is common knowledge that
Mbeki and Howard don't see eye to eye because of Mbeki's sin called quiet
diplomacy, which in part explains why Tsvangirai said what he said to
Howard.

Howard wants President Mugabe out yesterday while Mbeki and his Sadc
comrades prefer a well-managed transition. So what is the substance of the
"progress" in the talks, especially on the MDC's part?

Then Tsvangirai reports that he has postponed the launch of his
presidential campaign pending the outcome of the talks. I don't know what
this means in terms of election strategy. Perhaps he will soon elaborate.

What is evident though is that time is not one of Tsvangirai's allies.
What is it to be this time? To vote or not to vote, depending on what it is
hoped Mbeki can wring out of a false pregnancy? The more tactical blunders
the MDC leaders commit, the more reckless Zanu PF seems to get, seeing there
is no imminent threat to its hold on power.

Why should Zanu PF negotiate to share power with the MDC when the MDC
is too arrogant to talk to itself? Pressure for Zanu PF to change needs to
come from a united MDC, not from Australia, the UK or Sadc. A fractured MDC
is unlikely to get any significant concessions from Zanu PF. They should not
expect Mbeki to tell them this elementary reality.

Why should it be Mbeki's unenviable burden to parachute the MDC to
power through a new constitution when the party can't decide whether it
wants to get there through the ballot or jambanja? When is the momentous
decision going to be made? We know Zanu PF is already in campaign mode, with
chiefs and war veterans at the forefront - something not even a new
constitution can change.

In short, it is not Mbeki who will decide the outcome of next year's
elections through a new constitution, but those Zimbabweans who are
registered to vote. Is this banal fact beyond the MDC's grasp? How does it
hope to win the election if it is still wedded to the myth that communal
areas are Zanu PF strongholds?

Which leaves the MDC leadership in a fine dilemma: to take part in the
election with little preparation and lose the vote or to continue its
national boycott and lose both relevance and credibility.

The MDC will have to make the best of a terrible situation, making
late electoral preparations with many odds stacked against it; the biggest
being a penchant for fighting itself instead of the foe.

It's a pity that the faction leaders are too arrogant to acknowledge
this fact and they have surrounded themselves with insecure sycophants who
see the MDC as the only sure way to power and wealth.

In this they believe that foreigners, in this case Thabo Mbeki and
John Howard, are better placed to pave the way.

All said, if the MDC decides to fight the election as factions, the
outcome is a foregone conclusion, itself rendering an unflattering verdict:
that they are unworthy of the presidency of this nation, a nation in sore
need of a leader to move it from liberation war politics to accountable
governance.

So far, unfortunately, Zanu PF has no more than spineless schemers;
the MDC pretenders who have atrophied before maturity. The best
determination that the MDC/Zanu PF talks can give us though is that the
elections are conducted in peace and that the parties abide by the outcome
of the vote.

We have had the longest electoral dispute of any country not in a
civil war: which should be cause for grievous shame to any leader.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Defending repression

Zim Independent

Editor's memo

by Vincent Kahiya

AFRICAN politicians, especially the post-independence type, have this
proclivity to control freedoms and rights of their subjects under the
spurious premise that they won the freedoms on behalf of the people.

The rulers, including our own here, have often masked this demagoguery
in high sounding terms like "power belongs to the masses" or "people's
freedoms" or that "the people will determine the fate of this country" and
so forth. But which people?

Last week SABC boss Dali Mpofu wrote a letter published in the M&G
announcing the broadcaster's pulling out of the South African Editor's Forum
because of the Sunday Times' "appalling" handling of the Manto
Tshabalala-Msimang issue (See page 16).

Mpofu in the letter deposited a fawning thought, the stuff demagogues
spew indignantly in defence of repression.

He opined: "The parameters of our freedom will be determined by the
people who brought that freedom about and not the apologists for those who
inherently resent it and its foundational values."

Mpofu not only uses the same language as politicians, he also believes
that SABC speaks on behalf of the "people who brought that freedom" and not
those who opposed the said freedoms.

Oftentimes, when political leaders with dictatorial tendencies talk of
the "people" they mean a coterie of self-anointed powerful rulers who
believe that they are infallible because they delivered freedom from
colonialism.

Because of their exaggerated liberation credentials, post-liberation
war rulers in Africa believe that they are the owners of freedoms that
accrued from the demise of colonial regimes.

They see their roles as father figures who by right dispense the
freedoms to the people in carefully prescribed doses.

The people should forever be grateful of their prescriptions and are
not allowed to ask for more.

Dissenters are branded running dogs of neo-colonialists or what Mpofu
calls "apologists".

The point that Mpofu misses is that entities like SABC or our own
ramshackle ZBC are suborned media outlets which do not deserve the title of
a public broadcaster. They have become appendages of strong political forces
in ruling parties.

Their PR role, especially the quest to praise-sing failure, has seen
state-owned broadcasters being frowned upon by the public they pretend to
represent. So the talk about "people" does not wash.

I also believe that it is important to declare at this juncture that
that freedom is not necessarily the same as democracy.

In fact, democracy can be shown to be inimical to freedom.

The counting of heads, or the will of the majority, in no way protects
or guarantees freedom.

In fact, freedom can be utterly savaged under democracy as the rise of
Hitler's National Socialist party proved.

Let me not talk about democracy here but concentrate on freedom.

The foundation of freedom is the principle of self-ownership.

Freedom can be measured by the yardstick of exactly how much
self-ownership is permitted.

So it's quite possible to talk of one country having more freedom than
another.

As in the case of Zimbabwe and South Africa, they both claim to be
democracies but they have varying levels of freedoms.

The relatively greater freedom in South Africa, as is the case in a
number of African countries, is under threat from what is termed
Zanufication of the ANC.

Writing for the New Statesman in March, veteran South African
journalist and author William Gumede aptly captured the extent of
Zanufication.

"The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) has complained to
the South African Broadcasting Corporation, the public broadcaster, over its
failure to cover the Zimbabwean meltdown. Although the ANC in South Africa
and Zanu PF are light years apart, the spectre of 'Zanufication' haunts
South Africa, raising the question: 'Is there something inherent in the
political culture of liberation movements that makes it difficult for them
to sustain democratic platforms?'"

If media freedom is a key pillar supporting the so-called democratic
platforms in South Africa, then Mpofu's moral high ground is a threat to the
integrity of that political superstructure.

Gumede's article quotes a senior national executive member of the ANC,
Blade Nzimande, warning of the danger of South Africa backsliding: "We must
study closely what is happening in Zimbabwe, because if we don't, we may
find features in our situation pointing to a similar development."

Dr Tafataona Mahoso will soon be having good company down South.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

'Sellouts' are those you defend, Mahoso

Zim Independent

MuckRaker

WE were shocked by the arrest of Morgan Tsvangirai last week. His
offence? Touring a wholesale store. He was charged with "disorderly conduct"
under the Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act.

And what did this "disorderly conduct" involve? Touring shops to
assess the impact of a government directive to manufacturers and retailers
to slash the prices of goods by 50%.

This reminds us of the days when Communist regimes used to describe
their opponents as "hooligans".

The MDC put out one of its long, wordy statements. But the salient
point was this: "The primary concern of any caring government lies in
improving the lives of its citizens and not arresting innocent people simply
because they decided to assess the magnitude of the national crisis."

Indeed, isn't it the function of the leader of the opposition to draw
attention to the failure of government policies?

And doesn't Tsvangirai have a constitutional right to tour shops if he
should want to do so?

It would be interesting to know who ordered his arrest. This was a
political move by any definition. Government spokesmen should not be
surprised when Zimbabwe is branded a rogue state when the leader of the
opposition is arrested for doing his job!

And why was the harridan who accosted and abused him and then set upon
a photographer not charged with disorderly conduct? What sort of double
standard is this?

Another illustration of the country's descent into lawlessness could
be found in a newspaper report last weekend regarding the case of Margaret
Joubert who was forced to flee to South Africa because of threats to her
life.

She was recently granted a High Court order to return to her farm in
Matabeleland North that was occupied by police officers. The police defied
two High Court orders to vacate Portwe Estates in Bubi district which they
occupied earlier this year, the Standard reported.

In the latest case Justice Nicholas Ndou on August 16 ordered the
police to vacate the farm and return the property, including two vehicles
and a computer they seized from Joubert when they forced her off the farm at
gunpoint in July.

She went to stay with relatives but, the relatives say, was forced to
flee after further threats.

"She left a fortnight ago since she had nowhere to stay after all that
she had worked for was forcibly taken by the police," a relative told the
Standard. "They continued to threaten her with arrest."

Home Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi said he was too busy to comment.

So a law-abiding citizen seeks the protection of the courts, which is
granted, but continues, her relatives say, to be harassed by police officers
occupying her farm and is in the end forced to seek refuge in South Africa.

Isn't this an emblematic case? Newspapers should every week ask Wayne
Bvudzijena why the police are not complying with the court orders.

It would demonstrate to the world that Zimbabwe is a lawless state
where innocent citizens are harassed and the courts are rendered impotent.
Worse still, the minister has lost his tongue and is unable or unwilling to
justify this egregious abuse of power taking place under his nose.

Meanwhile, the talks between Zanu PF and the MDC are making progress,
we are told. But will any of the electoral reforms they have agreed carry
any meaning if law-enforcement remains politicised?

Have you noticed, by the way, that any criticism of the regime is now
described as "anti-Zimbabwe"? So we see individuals and organisations
classified as "anti-Zimbabwe" when of course they are merely critical of
Zanu PF. The same goes for regime change.

This label is tagged on to anybody favouring change. As most of the
country is crying out for change we can expect to see more and more of this
one littering the pages of the Herald.

Muckraker has a few questions about various projects around the
capital. Who benefits from the systematic chopping down of conifers along
Steppes Rd? Is this a council project? Who is building the Newlands bypass
and at what cost? The council surely can't afford it.

Can we have some transparency here please.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs used to charge $5 000 to authenticate
documents such as police clearance for a student visa. Since July 1 they
have been charging $500 000.

What other examples are there of the state not obeying its own edicts?

Eric Bloch thinks it is "grossly improper" for anyone, including
Tsvangirai, to "fight fathers through their children". This follows the
deportation from Australia of a gaggle of chefly progeny.

"Education is a right that children deserve to be accorded anywhere in
the world despite which political party their parents belong to . . ."

We think it is "grossly improper" for Bloch to lend himself to state
propaganda in this way. Education should indeed be a right afforded to all.
But that is to miss the point.

What we have here is a post-liberation aristocracy waging a war of
invective against the UK, US and Australia but preferring to educate their
children in those countries because a good education can no longer be
obtained at home.

Why is Tsvangirai wrong to ask chefs to have their children share the
experience of their compatriots back home and put up with the conditions
spawned by their delinquent parents?

Why is it Zimbabwe's politically privileged have no wish to put their
kids through the country's educational system?

And why do they persist in attacking the very countries where they
send their children to benefit?

Bloch is mistaken. Education may be a right. But Zimbabwean children
have a right to a good education here.

They have no right to an education elsewhere simply because their
parents have grown rich on the proceeds of power and, having condemned the
youth of this country to a life of poverty and ignorance, want to help their
kids escape from the consequences of their misrule.

So, now all is clear. Muckraker had been wondering why the regime's
spokesmen were frothing at the mouth last week over Gordon Brown getting
pally with Nelson Mandela.

Up until then they had been keeping studiously quiet over the new
incumbent at No 10, in the hope no doubt that London may decide to "build
bridges" with Harare and ignore the human rights abuses and lawlessness
taking place across the country.

As we anticipated, that has proved a forlorn hope. Foreign Secretary
David Miliband told EU colleagues last weekend that Brown would boycott the
forthcoming Africa/EU summit in Lisbon in the event of Mugabe's attendance.

"I don't think anyone wants to be part of a media circus," Miliband
was quoted as saying. "We are all very, very concerned about the situation
in Zimbabwe."

That has dashed the hopes of the myopic bridge-builders and explains
the sudden venting of spleen towards Brown that readers of the state media
were recently forced to witness.

After all, it is something of an irony that the much-hated Blair had
said he would not object to Mugabe's attendance in Lisbon while his
successor, from whom much was expected, is trying to block it.

But Miliband has a point. If Mugabe attends the summit he will be the
object of frenzied media attention while Africa's problems are sidelined.

It will be a train smash for the Portuguese who want to redeem
something from the 2003 debacle when they had to cancel a similar summit.

Reports that a Zimbabwean vice-president or minister would be welcome
at Lisbon have not been confirmed. But that's clearly the face-saver the
Portuguese are seeking.

Tafataona Mahoso, who we are told is a social commentator, is in
witch-hunting mode.

"There is a need for all patriots and their liberation movement in
government," he writes in his long-winded Sunday Mail column, "to carry out
a who-is-who exercise. Who is standing with Sadc and the patriotic majority
against the illegal economic war being waged upon us?"

In particular, he is bitter about the "foreign regime change lobby and
its internal collaborators who have now shown their hand which is anchored
in the yet unliberated manufacturing and retail sectors of our economy".

What we do know is that the "dollarised African elite" Mahoso refers
to are the same people who have benefited from land seizures, made even more
money from fuel distribution and now have their eyes firmly set upon the
companies and banks that have survived the state-sponsored crisis the
country is going through.

They are the same people that have run down parastatals such as Air
Zimbabwe and Zupco yet ride around in 4x4s.

We don't need a Mahoso-sponsored investigation to find out who they
are. They are the same people whining about the unfairness of having their
children expelled from Australia when they have wrecked the educational
sector here.

This is the "patriotic majority" Mahoso claims to speak for. Included
in this self-serving definition are the deceitful newspapers which lie to
the Zimbabwean public, suggesting that our problems are the product of
sanctions and not the damaging policies enacted by an incompetent and brutal
regime.

Worst of all are the apologists for this regime, those who are paid to
pretend that were it not for the UK/US machinations Zimbabwe would be a
prosperous and stable state.

To believe that you must either be on a generous state handout or very
stupid indeed.

Finally, a salute to Pius Ncube who had the courage to do the right
thing and step down. What a contrast with those who orchestrated his fall
and will hang on to power no matter what abuse they commit.

They must be feeling pleased with themselves this week.

But will the Bulawayo public be saying: "What a brilliant manoeuvre by
Zanu PF! What a great party they are!

"We must all rush and vote for them in March?"

Somehow we don't think so.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Another cloud cuckoo-land budget

Zim Independent

Eric Bloch Column

LAST week the Minister of Finance, Senator Samuel Mumbengegwi made his
maiden budgetary presentation to parliament, preceded by a mid-term Fiscal
Policy Review.

Both that budget and that review were so detached from recognition, or
acknowledgement of realities, that one must hope that the presentation was
the minister's first and last one, unless he undergoes a remarkable
transformation before the 2008 budget is to be presented in less than three
months' time.

In fairness, however, one should not unduly castigate that minister,
for the inability to recognise facts, admit to them, and react effectively,
whenever those facts are anathema, it is a characteristic of the Zanu PF
government as a whole, and not only of the minister.

At the outset of the Fiscal Policy Review, the minister focused upon
the hyperinflation that has been endemic in Zimbabwe in 2007.

Very correctly, he observed that there had been "incessant price
increases by most of the business community during the first half of this
year", and contended that these price adjustments had been unwarranted.

Not very surprisingly, he repeated the canard which so very spuriously
has been stated ad nauseum, as being the motivation behind the price
increases, being a contention that the price increases are "attempts to
effect regime change by the former colonial powers through the use of prices'
instability".

He reinforced this endlessly repeated, specious allegation by
attacking those who have resorted to major and frequent price increases,
describing them as "unscrupulous businesses engaged in such unethical
behaviour".

If there were any substance whatsoever to these recurrent, ludicrous
contentions, which have been made repeatedly by President Mugabe, the
Minister of Industry and International Trade, Minister Without Portfolio
Elliot Manyika as head of the government task force, and many other
ministers, one must ponder why amongst those who have resorted to
substantial price increases are government itself (as demonstrated by the
magnitude of increases in tuition fees of several universities, draconian
increases in Zimra clearance charges, and the like), many parastatals, such
as Zimpost, enterprises controlled by the state, such as Zimbabwe Newspapers
Ltd, companies owned by the ruling party, and innumerable business owned by
senior members of Zanu PF.

Does government really believe that it, its parastatals, the
enterprises it controls, and the senior members of Zanu PF are all anxious
to achieve a regime change, and in order to achieve that change connive and
conspire with the former colonial power and others in the international
community to bring about regime change?

Surely not! The mind boggles at the thought that government and the
party are vigorously and voluntarily engaged in self-emasculation.

It is time that government gives unreserved recognition to the
undeniable facts which have been the underlying drivers of immense price
increases. Those facts are very many, including:

lAn insufficiency of foreign exchange within official markets,
compounded by an inability for most exporters to retain enough of export
proceeds to service their import needs, forces businesses to source
essential inputs by accessing "free funds", at considerable premiums, or to
purchase the inputs from those with access to foreign exchange, at
substantial premiums, or to resort unlawfully to alternative foreign
exchange markets, all of those methods of accessing essential inputs
involving very considerable costs which must, if the businesses are to
survive, be recovered in selling prices.

Moreover, as demand for foreign currency far exceeds supply not only
in the official market, but also in the unofficial ones, the costs thereof
surge continuously upwards.

A ridiculously unrealistic exchange rate accorded to exporters
rendered most exports non-viable.

This not only compounded foreign exchange scarcity, but also very
markedly reduced capacity utilisation within the manufacturing and tourism
sectors.

A consequence is that lesser utilisation has to bear the fixed costs
of the enterprises, necessitating higher per unit of production or
utilisation allocation of those costs in effecting price determinations;

lProductivity has also been very severely constrained by declining
domestic market demand, in consequence of falling "real" incomes, and of
diminishing production levels, yet further increasing per unit costs of
actual production, necessitating yet further price increases.

The productivity decline is also highly attributable to inordinately
frequent, often unscheduled, interruptions in energy supplies, inadequate
supply to industry of coal, and - in Bulawayo - very pronounced suspensions
of water supplies;

Inevitably, salaries and wages have been subjected to repeated upward
reviews, in view of the devastating impacts of hyperinflation upon all
employees of commerce, industry, and other economic sectors.

In addition, the gargantuan brain drain to which Zimbabwe has been,
and is, subjected, has resulted partially in enterprises having to incur
significantly greater than normal training costs, as repeatedly new
personnel have to be engaged and trained, and the massive scarcities of
skilled persons has enabled the few that remain to demand higher than
inflation salary escalations.

All these employee costs must unavoidably be incorporated in price
determinations;

As unemployment and poverty has intensified, so too has corruption and
crime, with more and more reluctantly turning to such activities to ensure
the survival of themselves and their families.

These activities have vastly escalated the costs of most businesses,
yet again creating impacts upon prices.

There are but a few of the innumerable causes of the so-called
"incessant price increases" in 2007, and the never-ending claims of
conspiracy to achieve regime change are devoid of any credibility
whatsoever, and therefore also erode any limited credibility that government
may have.

Still in the course of the introduction to his Fiscal Policy Review,
the minister intensified his attack on the private sector by saying that
price increases were "taking place soon after the signing of the three
protocols under the social contract obligating labour, government and
business to work together towards stabilising prices, promoting increased
productivity and foreign exchange generation".

The minister seems to have conveniently overlooked, or ignored, the
old saying that "it takes two to tango!" and that on the one had there had
only been partial signature of the protocols by labour, secondly that the
protocols were effectively only declarations of intent to reach agreement on
a social contract, and not an actual such contract, which has yet to be
agreed and, on the other hand, government has unhesitatingly breached the
spirit of the protocols repeatedly with increases in prices and charges.

Space constraints have limited this assessment of the Fiscal Policy
Review to the minister's focus upon the escalations in prices. Assessment of
other aspects of the review and of the supplementary budget will be
addressed in next week's column.


Click here or ALT-T to return to TOP

Zim Independent Letters



Breaking point is approaching

IT is obviously not enough to starve your nationals of their democracy
and freedom of association and choice; the government has now seen it fit to
starve the electorate, literally.

If you considered that the shops were bare in July, the state of
affairs now in September is positively grim.

A term has been coined for TM - "MT"! With the exception of a
competing brand whose outlets appear better stocked, albeit with mainly
imported goods, the situation is dire and sounds the death knell for the
majority of Zimbabweans.

A well-heeled friend admitted the other day that with all her
connections and contacts, she had not put a drop of milk to her lips for the
better part of two months.

A young mother who is due to return to work from maternity leave is
distraught because, while her desire is to provide breast milk exclusively
to her infant, she does not produce enough to express. Consequently she
needs normally readily available formula substitutes - but none are to be
found.

Easy-to-digest porridge premixes would be easier on the infant's gut
than mealie-meal porridge, but neither those nor local grain meal are
available. Not only that, she struggled to find nappies, towels and clothing
for the baby.

Each time I see a pregnant woman now, in spite of the fact that for a
woman this should be a happy time of expectation, my heart bleeds because I
know that her labour will not end in the ward dedicated for this birth
experience.

This is a good candidate for the return to pure animal instinct. She
is most likely to bare her fangs should any harm approach her offspring.
Consequently, she is likely to do whatever it takes to secure a tin or two
of formula, whatever it takes . . . so beware!

But then, this situation has bred or brought to the fore these
animalistic instincts. It has created scavengers and hunter-gatherers out of
hitherto sophisticated urban dwellers.

It is no longer unusual to see women carrying firewood on their heads
(and for security guards bundles of firewood from well-wooded northern
suburbs on the bicycle carriers), buckets of water, grain for the grinding
mill, and so on. Scenes, which previously brought a nostalgic hankering for
the simple rural life, are now commonplace in cities.

A number of adaptive shopping practices have emerged: those who set up
camp outside supermarkets, an all-day affair, in the hope of being first in
the queue for any delivery; others rely on now corrupt employees to set
aside "loot" in exchange for anything from a smile, a gift, a squeeze of a
firm breast, or more; yet others are still "privileged" to receive calls or
text messages from store managers, still clinging onto the marketing
practices of the past and the 80:20 principle.

The big guns simply stroll into an outlet generally believed to belong
to a vertically challenged MP who appears to be exempted from prosecution
under the June 18 price directive.

What is clear is that the previously comfortable middle-class are not
at all happy about being sandwiched in a queue between gardeners and other
persons of the blue-collar brigade whose poor personal hygiene emanating
from erratic water and soap supplies renders perfume and cologne powerless.

Not only have we been meticulously stripped of our birthright and
dignity, we have also been pushed into a zone where time has neither value
nor meaning - productivity means nothing. This is a development consistent
with a government for whom productivity has not been measured for 27 years!
So whether it takes two hours or two years, or two people or 20 people to
complete a task, the end justifies the means.

So whether you are a guardian faced with the task of providing
nutritious meals to children with compromised immune systems, or in charge
of an institution for the aged, or a boarding school for active growing
teenagers, or a hotel group striving to meet world-class standards for
international visitors, the challenges are the same.

And yet an eerie peace hovers over the nation. Divine, perhaps, or
prophetic.

As our lives are undermined, daily, our reservoirs of resilience and
tolerance appear to receive an inexplicable auto top-up in direct
proportion. But the breaking point is approaching; the string is at its most
taut and cannot, nay should not, be stretched any further.

"Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit . . . says the Lord,"
Zech 4:6.

FM,

Harare.

-------------
Home is best

I WISH to welcome back to Zimbabwe the eight students recently
deported from Australia. Home is always best.

Your deportation is a non-event. It was inspired by a racist
government bent on disrupting your academic progression.

Shame on the Australians! I will ask Manheru to do a scathing piece on
this sad event.

In the interim, you will be enrolled at one of our many universities,
where the quality of education is second to none. Eventually, we will send
you to colleges in friendly countries such as China and Malaysia. After all,
this is in line with our "Look East" policy.

During your short stay in Zimbabwe, you will contend with the
"challenges" we encounter on a daily basis: empty shelves in supermarkets,
dry fuel pumps, water and electricity outages, to mention a few.

A brief stint at the Border Gezi "college" will do you good. We need
to debrief you all - one cannot trust the Aussies. They could have
brainwashed you with all the trappings of good living.

Not to worry, you will adjust and adapt.

Joseph Mhlanga,

Dublin, Ireland.

-----------
Ncube selfless

IN resigning Archbishop Pius Ncube has shown strength of purpose,
integrity and a selfless commitment to the Catholic Church and Zimbabwe.

He leaves office an honourable man, setting an example not only to his
multitude of supporters but to the very detractors who have tried so
desperately and unsuccessfully to discredit him.

Mike Rook,

Surrey, England.

---------
True patriots not hypocritical

THE move by Australia to deport children of Zimbabwean politicians is
to be praised.

It is hypocritical that they should be allowed to share the
democracies of other nations while back home their fathers preside over a
system that denies many other parents and children the same liberties.

Is that why we have allowed our institutions of higher learning to be
eroded to such desperate levels, because we can send our children overseas?

Maybe now the lawmakers and policy implementers can appreciate the
desperate state of affairs at state institutions, persistent strikes by
lecturers, lack of accommodation and food, inadequate teaching materials
and, worse still, unemployment after completion.

Let us rebuild the pride in our institutions and country. True
"patriots" can not be hypocritical to the extent of entrusting the future of
their children to "hostile foreign" nations.

The sanctions should be extended to the US and UK. Let them come back
and we can start the process of rebuilding our country "together".

CKM,

Harare.

-----
Rukweza spoils reasonable advice

YOUR columnist, Jacob Rukweza, in his opinion piece of September 7
("Imperatives for the MDC before 2008 elections"), makes some interesting
suggestions regarding what the opposition party should do to enhance its
chances of winning the next year's plebiscite.

Unfortunately, he spoils what could pass for reasonable suggestions by
"intractably" burying his head in the sand with respect to the status of the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

Contrary to Rukweza's assertion, there are currently two MDCs using
the same abbreviation, the same symbol, the same campaign songs and in some
respects the same slogans.

These two MDCs are led by Arthur Mutambara and Morgan Tsvangirai. Both
these formations held separate congresses where constitutions were adopted
and various office bearers duly elected.

When I last checked, Tsvangirai's formation had 21 MPs, while the
Mutambara-led formation had 20 MPs. At the last local government elections,
the Mutambara formation won 44 contested council wards while the Tsvangirai
formation won 41. Both formations have mayors. While the Mutambara-led
formation has seven senators, the Tsvangirai side has none having boycotted
the senatorial race.

In view of these realities, why would Rukweza insult the Mutambara-led
formation by describing it as comprising "intractable defectors"?

Why would anyone seek to ignore a political party that boasts some of
the best brains in the land?

Mutambara is one among very few opposition politicians who are willing
to stick their necks out by pronouncing policy positions in order to define
the Zimbabwe they are striving to achieve; rabble-rousing can never be a
substitute for coherent policy.

Had Tsvangirai not rejected the coalition framework that was crafted
by the two formations' negotiating teams, the opposition would be going into
next year's elections a lot stronger.

Dare I conclude that with the sort of advice that Tsvangirai gets from
the likes of Rukweza, unity of purpose among opposition parties will always
be a mirage?

Victor Nyoni,

Harare.

-------
Service is just garbage
I LIVE 300 metres up the road from the Marlborough Medical Centre.

I would say that this private healthcare facility is the primary
source of medical assistance for the large portion of the northern suburbs
of Harare.

I do wonder, though, how the centre continues to function.

It is over 18 months since I moved into the house I am in. In this
time garbage has only been collected twice on Woodhall Road - in the week
prior to Christmas.

For over five months, I have left a bin full of rubbish on the road
outside my gate and it has not been emptied once in this time.

Our usual routine of water supply delivery for the last year has been
24 hours with water and 24 hours without.

For August, electricity supplies were off for over 150 hours and water
has been off for 287 hours.

Factor in that each home and business that can afford it has a
generator that uses at least US$1 per hour during power-cuts and we have a
huge forex drain right here.

Had this money (and that used to purchase the generators) been
allocated - or included in Zesa tariffs initially - then we would not be
facing these massive productivity blows in our businesses.

Rodolph S,

Harare.

Back to the Top
Back to Index