TEACHERS IN ZIMBABWE: "WE ARE VERY AFRAID" Thu 19 August
2004 HARARE - The Zimbabwe government is deploying trainees in
its controversial youth training programme at all public schools, ZimOnline
The Youth Training Programme was introduced two
years ago with the objective "to inculcate discipline and patriotism in young
Several teachers across the country said they were afraid
the youths might be supposed to spy on teachers suspected of backing the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) ahead of next year's
parliamentary election. They also expressed fear the youths might seek to
influence senior students, most of whom are of voting age, to back the ruling
In circulars to school heads asking them to accept the
youths at their institutions, the Ministry of Youth Development, Gender and
Employment Creation says the youths are on community service and will perform
whatever duties they are assigned by school authorities at no cost. The
schools have not requested such help from the ministry.
such letter dated June 8, 2004, the ministry's provincial staff officer, a
Mr. J.M. Maveve, writes to the head of a state High School in Harare: "Your
good office is requested to assist (name of recruit omitted) with a place of
attachment to do community service for a period of one month."
"Feel free to assign the youth/youths any possible lawful duties in your
organisation. It is part of our training curriculum. Please note that it is a
free service to the community and the nation at large, so your organisation
will not pay the youth/youths for the period of attachment."
Youth Minister Ambrose Mutinhiri and Maveve could not be reached for comment
yesterday. Mutinhiri has in the past denied allegations that the youths
trained by the programme are committing violence against
opposition supporters. He insists the programme teaches discipline and
patriotism among the youths.
Teachers, who spoke on condition
they were not named, expressed discomfort over the presence of the youths at
schools. Especially those teachers serving at schools in rural areas were
among the worst affected victims of political violence during the run up to
and after the 2002 presidential election.
Suspected ZANU PF
militants, allegedly also including youths from the national service
programme, harassed and beat up teachers whom they accused of influencing
voters to back the MDC.
Summing up the fears of most of his
colleagues interviewed by ZimOnline, a school teacher in Masvingo (about 300
kilometres south of Harare) said: "The idea of placement of youths at schools
is that they can get information on who among school staff supports the
"Clearly the government fears that teachers, being community
leaders, are able to influence people especially in remote rural areas. And
do not forget that these are the same youths who worked with war veterans
attacking and beating anyone they suspected of not supporting ZANU PF. We are
very afraid." ZimOnline
Mercenaries' deny charges of illegally acquiring weapons of
war Thu 19 August 2004 HARARE -- 66 suspected mercenaries held in
Zimbabwe yesterday denied charges of plotting to illegally acquire weapons of
war from state arms manufacturer, the Zimbabwe Defence Industries
The alleged mercenaries were arrested in March this year
when their plane landed at Harare International Airport. The state alleges
the men had stopped over to pick up firearms meant to be used to topple
Equatorial Guinea's President Teodoro Obiang Mbasogo.
made up of mostly South African citizens, claims they were on their way to
guard a mine in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
The men, who
have already admitted to lesser charges of breaching Zimbabwe¹s immigration
and aviation laws, yesterday denied they wanted to illegally acquire arms of
war from the ZDI.
The leader of the alleged mercenaries, Simon
Mann, a British national, has already admitted to attempting to acquire
weapons from ZDI.
Addressing a makeshift court at Harare¹s
Chikurubi Maximum Security prison, where the men are being held, lawyer
Jonathan Smakange said: "The accused persons will deny the allegations. Up
to today they have not even seen the weapons they are being accused of
acquiring. How can they possess something that they didn't even know
Another 15 men, who were allegedly working with the 67
held in Harare, are awaiting trial in Equatorial Guinea's capital Malabo.
Sheraton Hotel Harare loses its shine Thu 19 August
2004 HARARE - The Sheraton Harare Hotel is in danger of losing
its franchise and thus its name.
One of the three biggest and
most prestigious hotels in Zimbabwe, the Sheraton Harare is managed on
contract by United States of America-based Starwood Hotels, the owners of the
Sheraton brand. It has failed to pay management and franchise fees and
Starwood is threatening to pull out.
The five-star hotel is owned
by Rainbow Tourism Group (RTG), a company in which the government of Zimbabwe
has 17 percent stake. A Libyan investment firm, Lafico-fca, holds 14.1
percent and French hotel operator, Accor-Afrique, controls 34.61 percent of
the Group. Local investors own the remainder.
management contract was signed in 1993 and expires in December 2005. Tourism
industry sources said the company was not likely to renew the
In a statement conceding the troubles at its flagship
hotel, RTG chief executive officer Herbert Nkala said, "RTG had deferred
payment of some management fees accrued due to the recession experienced in
the tourism industry."
"Since the decline of the tourism
industry in 2000, RTG, which has been operating under international brands
and franchises, has experienced difficulties in generating both local and
foreign currency to pay management fees for the brands."
did not say how much Sheraton Harare owed Starwood Hotels and what
arrangements had been made to settle the debt.
Nkala said the hotel
has suffered from low occupancy rates and reduced revenues since recession
gripped the local tourism industry four years ago. Once the fastest growing
economic sector, tourism nosedived as foreign visitors cancelled bookings
fearing political violence and lawlessness in the country.
expressed the hope that RTG would resolve its financial difficulties, saying
the company had sought help from top authorities: "We have engaged the
highest levels of monetary policy authorities and government who are
assisting us to deploy solutions which are sustainable and mutually
acceptable to all concerned."
Pleading with international creditors
to be patient with defaulting Zimbabwean companies, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) governor Gideon Gono said in a separate statement: "My appeal to
creditors is that they should give these companies sufficient time to pay
their obligations without taking actions that might in the end disadvantage
Gono has led efforts to pursuade millions of
Zimbabweans living and working abroad to send home hard cash, which is needed
to help companies such as Sheraton Harare meet their foreign debt
commitments. But the governor last month admitted that his efforts have so
far failed to yield much. ZimOnline
Zimbabwe will seize Conafex estates August
By Dirk van Vynck
Cape Town - Conafex
Holdings, the agriculture resource group listed on both the JSE Securities
Exchange and the Luxembourg bourse, has received notice from the Zimbabwean
authorities that its agricultural estates are going to be
The company said: "The government of Zimbabwe has advised
Conafex's Zimbabwean subsidiary, Zimcor, that all its agricultural estates
are to be compulsorily acquired with immediate effect. The implications of
this action and the matter of compensation are not yet clear."
Chris Jousse, Zimcor's chief executive, could not be reached yesterday to
comment on the impact the seizures would have on Conafex's
But according to Reuters, staff at the
company's Harare office said Conafex had "substantial" investments in
Fortunately the group has been diversifying its
operations into other areas in the region in order to free it from
This has led to the company selling Barato Holdings, its
wholly owned subsidiary in Zimbabwe, and acquiring a 17.5 percent stake in
JSE-listed Intertrading, which specialises in the procurement and
international marketing of fruit.
There was no trade in
Conafex's shares yesterday with the price unchanged at R10.50. The food
producers and processors index as 0.08 percent higher.
Reporter Last updated: 08/19/2004 09:31:21 A BIZARRE "independent poll"
released Wednesday claims Zimbabwean tyrant Robert Mugabe still has the trust
of the Zimbnabwean populace.
The poll says forty-six percent of
Zimbabweans say they trust Mugabe, compared to just 18 percent who see
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai as the most trustworthy
The bizarre poll's conclusions come despite inflation hitting
record highs of 650 percent, wanton violence against Mugabe's opponents,
unemployment reaching 70 percent and a collapsed economy.
The poll by
an organisation calling itself Afrobarometer immediately suffered a
credibilty crisis when it also revealed that 83 PERCENT of Zimbabweans said
they lived in FEAR.
The conclusions loooked even more ridiculous as the
same poll further claimed that on the economic front, rates of persistent
hunger were higher in Zimbabwe than in 15 other sub-Saharan African
It also suggested that Zimbaweans said they were
disillusioned, with 83 percent of them saying they "must often or always be
careful about what they say about politics," the poll said.
It goes on
to say "while hardly a strong endorsement of presidential popularity, trust
in the president has risen since the dismal showing of 1999 when Mugabe
enjoyed 20 percent support in a previous poll, the Afrobarometer survey
No comment was immediately available from the MDC last night.
Efforts to contact either the MDC secretary general Professor Welshman Ncube
or the partyn spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi proved fruitless as their mobile
phones were unreachable.
A total of 1 104 Zimbabweans were polled in
May in several local languages.
According to the poll, three out of four
Zimbabweans - 75 percent - say they have lost faith in political party
diversity and feel that "party competition frequently leads to conflicts,"
the survey said.
About 82 percent of Zimbabweans said they were deprived
of food at least once in the past year while more than half - 54 percent -
said they felt economically deprived.
"The present generation thinks
that they are materially worse off than their parents," said the
Once the breadbasket of the region, Zimbabwe has been in the
throes of economic collapse over the past five years and some two million
Zimbabweans, out of a population of 12 million, are expected to be in need of
food aid by year-end.
The hardships faced by Zimbabweans have been
blamed on drought and on land reforms launched by Mugabe, under which land
owned by whites has been seized and redistributed to blacks.
contrast to government claims, the survey found that only four percent
of Zimbabweans saw land reform as a national priority.
percent of Zimbabweans think that land acquisitions should be done by legal
means, with compensation for owners.
The survey was conducted by the
Institute for Democracy in South Africa, Centre for Democratic Development of
Ghana and Michigan State University.
Auburn's Kirsty Coventry checks in
from the Athens games
Aug. 18, 2004
By Kirsty Coventry Special
to CollegeSports.com From Auburn Athletics
It's great to be an AUBURN
TIGER!!! It is extremely hard to put my feelings into words. It is amazing to
have set goals and had dreams of certain accomplishments and then achieve
them! Winning two medals now is absolutely a dream come true and I must thank
all of my Auburn Family for helping me do it.
The 100 back medal was
not something I was as confident about, but instead more dreamed about. I was
in lane one for the finals and I thought I have nothing to lose so why not
just go out after it. I went out strong on the first 50 and with my training
for my 200 events this summer I was able to hold my speed over the last 50. I
couldn't see anyone because of my position in the pool so I just raced as
hard as I could. It was amazing to turn up and look at the scoreboard and see
a '2' next to my name! I had the biggest smile ever and I could see my Auburn
teammates going crazy for me in the stands. I was also very happy when I
finally noticed my time. It was a little over a two second drop from my
previous best! Getting on the awards stand was so
Again, I had fun chatting with Natalie Coughlin;
she showed me all of her family in the stands! Getting the medal put around
my neck was so cool. And the wreath.... wow! I love the wreath! It is made
from Olive branches and totally symbolizes Greece. The medal has the Goddess
Nike on it. I have been told she is the Goddess who awarded the medals in
ancient Greece - very cool. We did the walk down the deck where all the
photographers take pictures, which was of course really cool too! Kim just
got her pictures back of the ceremony and it got me excited all over again.
We both said we need to watch the whole thing on TV to make it really sink
After the medal ceremony for the 100 back I had to immediately get
ready for my 200 IM semifinal. I had about 1 hour form the end of my first
race so we were a bit rushed. I felt really good about that race. I was very
controlled on the first 150 of it, especially my backstroke, and then I
really just pushed the freestyle. Kim said I got her a bit nervous! I
qualified for finals in fourth place, which I thought was a very good
position for me. After warming down again I had drug testing then off to the
Village. I got to speak with my parents who were so excited and proud. It was
great to hear their voices. My mom was upset during the live broadcast of the
100 back because at the finish they only focused in on Natalie's win and the
had no idea who finished 2nd. After cursing the TV, she screamed and jumped
around with all my other family when they saw I had finished second! I wish
so badly they could be here but I am glad they are broadcasting live
coverage at home. I hear they stopped the TV programs to announce my finish
to the country, which made me very proud. Zimbabwe has been so supportive of
my swimming here at the Games and I am so thankful for that as
So, on Tuesday I got to sleep in and we went for a training session
here at the Village. I tried to relax the rest of the afternoon but it is
hard to keep my mind of my races to come. I've been getting my daily rub from
our physio Dorkas and taking a mid afternoon nap. We went to the pool
that night - business as usual. I felt pretty good and my goal again was to
swim for a medal. I knew my competition, Yana Klochkova of the Ukraine, and
the two Americans, Amanda Beard and Katie Hoff, are all very good and were
ready to race. I just tried to stay in my own race and not go out too hard in
the first 50, which is butterfly. I had a good backstroke split and felt
strong in the breaststroke I just didn't finish the free as well as I would
have like. I am so happy with my finish but like a lot of athletes I am
not satisfied! I love that event and really want to continue to train to
be faster in it. The awards ceremony was great again. Not as much chit
chatting this time because I don't know Amanda as well as Natalie but still
we had a good time! This time I gave my wreath to Kim and I hear she wore it
around for the rest of the evening and was quite popular because of
Our Auburn crew also did well. Fred (Bousquet), Romy (Barnier) and
George (Bovell) all had good morning swims and made it back to semis. It was
fun to watch them race. Unfortunately, they didn't make it back to finals but
we're super proud of them and look forward to Fred and George's best events
which are to come!
Today I had a wonderful day! I got to go downtown
to have lunch with my best friend Alessandra (Lawless) and her mom. We had a
nice long lunch and giggled a lot. I had a light training session and will go
back to the pool to watch finals tonight. I am really looking forward to
tomorrow. I can't wait to race with Margaret (Hoelzer). We always push each
other so well and bring out the best in one another.
Today George and
Jeremy (Knowles) swam the 200 IM. Jeremy had a solid race but just missed
semis. George had an awesome morning swim winning his heat to qualify third
for the semi finals. Looks like his strokes are on! The girls finally got to
get in and race! Jana (Kolukanova) and Eileen (Coparropa) had the 100 free.
Neither made it back and I am sure they aren't extremely thrilled with their
swims but it is so hard to keep your nerves intact, especially in your first
race. Eileen still has the 50 free so now with this race under her belt she
can let it rip!
Tonight we'll go back to watch George in the IM and my
South African friends in the men's 100 Free. Hopefully everyone will be
Brian Mangwende and
Thomas Madondoro 8/19/2004 7:34:13 AM (GMT +2)
Information Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo could be sitting on political
knife-edge as it emerged this week that ZANU PF has formed a special
committee to look into complaints against his alleged vitriolic attacks on
senior party officials in the public media.
Mugabe, the ZANU PF strongman seen as performing a delicate balancing act to
keep the party intact, Vice-President Joseph Msika and John Nkomo, the ruling
party's national chairman, make up the committee set up by the ZANU PF
supreme decision-making body to look into Moyo's conduct.
Political observers, who have always warned of the potential for cracks
prising apart the tie that binds ZANU PF, said that the formation of the
high-powered committee comprising the party's presidium indicated that the
ruling party had been noticeably shaken despite protestations to the contrary
by the party leadership.
They said that the issue of Moyo,
politically considered not only a loose tongue but a provocative one too,
which underlined the internal disputes between the so-called new generation
of young hardliners and the old guard in ZANU PF, had stirred up so much
discord that threatened to split the ruling party. Unnamed party members were
also deliberately stirring up feelings over the issue.
to key politburo members who cannot be named for fear of breaching their
party standing rules, the committee was set up at a politburo meeting a
fortnight ago, where Nkomo, who also is the Minister of Lands, Land Reform
and Rural Resettlement, protested against Moyo's alleged diatribe on his
person and ministry in the public media.
They said this touched off
a chorus of angry voices from several members of the politburo, especially
the old guard, with Moyo being the target of the bitter attacks. Moyo drew
the sharp attacks from the old guard, which in a certain sense aims to lose
as little as possible politically.
Retired army general Solomon
Mujuru, Vice-President Msika and ZANU PF information chief Nathan Shamuyarira
are said to have taken turns to attack Moyo, who the sources said remained
calm throughout the attacks.
Mujuru, seen as the king-maker in the
succession debate, challenged Moyo, who controls the information levers of
the public print and electronic media, and the other so-called "young turks"
he mentioned by name to explain how they had come into the
He also pushed for the expulsion of Moyo, formerly a fierce
critic of President Mugabe and his government, from the public service;
something sources said was highly unlikely.
They said the
presidency might opt to reprimand the information minister, who could not be
reached for comment at the time of going to press, to avoid plunging the
ruling party into further divisions.
Mujuru and other senior ZANU
PF officials, said the sources, also attacked Moyo for abusing the public
media by denigrating his colleagues in ZANU PF, who were now resorting to the
private media to hit back.
But the alternative private voice has
also been under serious threat as a number of newspapers, namely The Daily
News, The Daily News on Sunday and The Tribune, have been closed over the
past 12 months under the draconian Access to Information and Protection of
Privacy Act, crafted by Moyo.
The sources said Moyo's attacks
threatened to cause mayhem in the ruling party at a time when ZANU PF should
speak with one voice if the party is to wither a serious challenge by the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change in the 2005
Speculation has also swirled that key party members
have since threatened not to attend the ruling party's crucial congress in
December if the presidency fails to deal with Moyo.
one, phone Shamuyarira . . . he is the spokesman of the party, or Moyo
himself," said Mujuru when contacted for comment this week.
Shamuyarira also declined to comment. He said: "I cannot comment
Moyo, who joined President Mugabe's government after
performing exceptionally well in the constitutional commission in 2000, has
had stormy relations with a number of ZANU PF bigwigs who have been openly
attacked in the public media, where he wields a lot of
But the proceedings at the politburo meeting two weeks
ago signalled the real baptism of fire for Moyo, who probably for the first
time saw tough criticism replacing the initial praise he might have received
from certain ZANU PF quarters as the most effective government propaganda
chief since independence.
The information minister has had a
showdown with Vice-President Msika over the Kondozi Farm saga, where 15 000
workers were made redundant after the farm was forcibly acquired and
parcelled out to the Agricultural Rural Development Authority.
He has also clashed with his immediate boss at ZANU PF, Shamuyarira, over the
Sky Television news crew, which he claimed had entered the country illegally.
The Sky TV crew was later allowed to work, but Moyo came out attacking its
handlers after the British television network flighted an unimpressive
interview with the President.
As if that was not enough, Moyo has
also had a war of words with Nkomo, the ZANU PF chairman, over the issuance
of withdrawal letters in the ongoing multiple farm ownership
"There is confusion in the party because of lack of
understanding of what is happening. It is taboo within ZANU PF for junior
members to publicly denigrate senior party cadres," one well-paced source
There are heightened fears that the party's old guard could
be out to purge young turks. There is also suspicion that the ZANU PF bigwigs
might have a bigger plan to elbow Moyo out of the ruling party primary
elections and have him replaced by one of his superiors.
information minister has made significant strides in gaining control of the
Tsholotsho constituency, which is reportedly also being eyed by
PROBLEMS continue to
mount for Mutumwa Mawere's besieged empire, amid reports that the government
has appointed a three-member Cabinet team to oversee the turnaround of the
troubled Shabanie Mashava Mines (SMM).
The team, made up of July
Moyo, John Nkomo and Patrick Chinamasa, ministers of Energy and Power
Development; Lands and Resettlement; and Justice, Legal and Parliamentary
Affairs respectively, has been tasked to oversee SMM's frantic efforts to
turn around its fortunes as the government steps up its efforts to exert
control over Mawere's assets.
SMM now owes the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) almost $60 billion after it emerged yesterday that the mining
house, whose operations have been sustained by regular disbursements of funds
from the central bank's productive sector facility (PSF), got a further $10
billion loan this week.
SMM chief executive officer Obert Dube, who
professed ignorance of the taskforce, confirmed that the company had received
more funds from the central bank.
"We have received another
tranche of $10 billion under the productive sector facility," Dube said,
indicating that the mining firm's PSF debt now stood at $58.8
Although it could not be immediately established what the
Cabinet taskforce's terms of reference were, the move has fed into the
speculation that the government, which unsuccessfully sought the extradition
of Mawere from South Africa over alleged exchange control violations, had
trained its sights on taking over the embattled mogul's assets.
To further compound Mawere's woes, Zimre Holdings Limited (ZHL),
a diversified financial institution in which he has a major interest,
is heading for a collision course with regulators over problems surrounding
its insolvent South African subsidiary.
ZHL is currently under
an RBZ probe for suspected exchange control violations, while the Zimbabwe
Stock Exchange was reported to be mulling suspending trade in the stock,
citing non-disclosure of price-sensitive information pertaining to the South
However, it is the state of affairs at SMM,
which launched Mawere into Zimbabwean corporate lore when he took over the
lucrative Mashava and Shabanie Mines in the mid-1990s, that mirrors the
radical change in fortunes.
The mines, which formed the basis
for Mawere's expansion into virtually every other sector of the economy, have
the capacity to earn about US$40 million from exports.
they can hardly sustain their operations.
Dube said despite the RBZ
loans, targeted at providing working capital for the mines which employ over
5 000 people, SMM was fast losing its market share.
is still subdued because we have gone through a bad spell and are pursuing
"We are very short of meeting demand from our customers
and our competitors have capitalised on that," Dube said.
A HWANGE safari
operator has grabbed the bull by the horns and dragged Environment and
Tourism Minister Francis Nhema to court on allegations of corruptly awarding
a lucrative hunting concession to a company whose director is reportedly
linked to the minister.
Nhema, the son-in-law of the late
Vice-President Joshua Nkomo, the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority and
Harare-based firm Asitroc Investment (Private) Limited were last week served
with High Court papers to rescind a hunting concession awarded to Marble
Dete, one of the directors of Asitroc.
Headman Sibanda, a safari
operator in Matabeleland North, wants the High Court to cancel and set aside
the lease agreement the Environment and Tourism Minister allegedly awarded to
Asitroc in Matabeleland North.
Sibanda's decision to seek High
Court intervention comes at a time when President Robert Mugabe and his
government are battling to counter accusations that the chaotic and
controversial land reform pioneered by the veterans of Zimbabwe's liberation
struggle has mostly benefited leading politicians and their
President Mugabe has cracked the whip on graft, with the
corruption dragnet claiming the notable scalps of Finance Minister
Christopher Kuruneri and ZANU PF central committee member, James Makamba, who
are battling to secure their freedoms since they appeared before the courts
in February and April this year.
It also comes against the
backcloth of the arrest and subsequent suspension of Vitalis Chadenga, a
director at the Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, following
allegations of corruptly capturing wild animals for re-sale at the country's
major wildlife parks.
There have also been allegations of rampant
poaching of animals at the national parks.
Nhema, who emerged
the major shareholder of the Zimbabwe Building Society (ZBS) a few months
ago, has in the past categorically denied allegations of corruption and
favouritism in the awarding of lucrative hunting concessions in
However, Sibanda alleges in documents, copies of
which are in the possession of The Financial Gazette, that Nhema and his
ministry officials corruptly awarded the concession to Asitroc without going
to tender, charges vehemently denied by the minister.
and Wildlife Management Authority is listed as the first respondent in the
matter, Nhema, the second respondent and Asitroc as the third
The High Court application seeks to nullify the lease
agreement signed on June 13 2003 between Parks and Wildlife Management
Authority and Asitroc. The documents state that Nhema approved the agreement
in his capacity as the Minister of Environment and Tourism.
first (Parks and Wildlife Management Authority) and second respondent (Nhema)
be and are hereby directed to invite tenders for the Deka Pool Safari area,
in terms of standing tender procedure after which an independent adjudication
committee should be appointed to process the tenders," reads part of the
draft order lodged with the High Court.
Officials at the Parks and
Wildlife Management Authority confirmed receiving the High Court papers but
refused to comment, saying the matter was before the courts.
granting of lucrative hunting and photographic concessions to ZANU PF
associates sparked off controversy early this year amid revelations
that Nhema's ministry doled out long leases to top officials outside
Matabeleland at the expense of locals.
In his affidavit, Sibanda
alleges that Nhema abused his ministerial position by ordering that the Deka
Pool Safari Area and Sengwa Safari Area concessions be granted to Asitroc
Investment and Tent Peg consortium respectively.
submit that this was unprocedural and irregular and second respondent knew
that. Indeed on the 29th of January 2004, my legal practitioners gave second
respondent (Nhema) notice in terms of the State Liabilities Act, of my
intention to bring this application before this court.
second respondent (Nhema) saw that letter, he sent a leading political figure
in Matabeleland North, Mr Jacob Mudenda to come and talk to me to try and
resolve the matter on his terms and without reversing the irregular Deka
concession. I refused to accede to his request and nothing came out of the
"I respectfully submit that I have made out a good case
for the quashing of the Deka concession, the cancellation of the agreement of
lease with the Third Respondent (Asitroc Investment) on the basis of
impropriety and breach of tender procedure and the ordering of the
commencement of proper tender procedure for all to participate in a
transparent and fair manner," reads part of Sibanda's affidavit.
THE courts have
declined an application for discharge by Paul Siwela, the president of the
fringe opposition political party ZAPU, and political activist Jethro
Mkhwananzi who are facing charges of violating a section of the Public Order
and Security Act (POSA).
Siwela, who participated in the disputed
2002 presidential election and fared dismally, and Mkwananzi, a fierce critic
of President Robert Mugabe, allegedly incited people in Matabeleland to rise
against the Zimbabwean leader whom they accused of sending the Fifth Brigade
to murder the Ndebele people.
Lawyers representing the duo
yesterday told The Financial Gazette that the state had refused to discharge
their clients on charges of inciting violence when they addressed a political
gathering in December 2002 convened by a non-governmental organisation to
discuss a document fanning tribalism that had been circulating both locally
The lawyers had applied to have their clients
discharged on the grounds that the state had no sufficient evidence to pin
Siwela and Mkhwananzi, but a regional court in Bulawayo this week threw out
the application and directed that the duo be put on their
"The court has refused the application for discharge at
the close of the state case and ordered that they be put on their defence on
the basis that the magistrate believes that the state has shown that they
have a case to answer," said Nicholas Mathonsi of Bulawayo-based law firm
Coghlan and Welsh.
"As defence, we are disappointed because we
thought we had put up a good case for the application for discharge that we
were seeking," said Mathonsi, adding that his clients had been remanded to
September 22 2004. "This is the date we will start the defence," said the
Siwela and Mkhwananzi were arrested on December 6, 2002 for
allegedly making subversive statements during a public meeting. The ZAPU
leaders allegedly told the public gathering that the Ndebele people
were marginalised and should stand up and fight using spears.
According to the court documents, Siwela allegedly accused President Mugabe
of causing unnecessary suffering to the Ndebele people and further urged the
people of Matabeleland to demand compensation for atrocities allegedly
committed by the Gukurahundi.
It is also alleged that Siwela called
on the people of Matabeleland to eject all Shona-speaking people from the
region, accusing them of occupying influential positions at
Mkhwananzi, who also addressed the same meeting, is
alleged to have said that President Mugabe scored a diplomatic coup against
the late Vice President Joshua Nkomo by "slaughtering" six tourists along
the Bulawayo-Victoria Falls highway and shifted the blame to dissidents
largely believed to have been backed by PF ZAPU. The tourists were from
Mkhwananzi, according to court documents, alleged the
"slaughter" of the tourists was meant to deceive the world into believing
that the Gukurahundi in the early 1980s was a just war against the Ndebele
ZANU PF, which is
pressing for the introduction of a 260-member bicameral parliament, is
lobbying female legislators in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to
support the proposed constitutional amendments, expected to be tabled in
parliament in the next few weeks.
ZANU PF officials were this week
tight-lipped on the details of the proposed amendments, envisaged to take
root after the March 2005 parliamentary polls.
MDC insiders told
The Financial Gazette that female legislators were inundated with calls from
ZANU PF officials to fully endorse the proposed amendments to the
constitution to allow the ruling party to increase the number of contested
seats to 150, as well as to pave way for the introduction of a 60-member
Of the 60-member senate, 40 senators would be brought to
the august House through proportional representation from 10 of the country's
political provinces. President Robert Mugabe would have the prerogative of
appointing 10 governors and 10 chiefs to sit in the senate, bringing the
total number of people in the proposed senator to 60.
Financial Gazette has it on good authority that there are also proposals to
have 50 special seats for women, again to be determined by proportional
representation, to be drawn per province through out
A draft document on the proposed constitutional
amendment to alter the present parliament with 120 elected and 30 non-elected
legislators has been presented to the executive. It is being circulated among
the members of the opposition.
MDC female legislators who spoke
to this newspaper this week confirmed that they had received overtures from
ruling party legislators and other top party officials to fully support the
proposals to overhaul the parliamentary structure.
"What ZANU PF
is saying is that it is for the good of female legislators in the MDC to
support the proposed amendments when they come to the House soon," said an
MDC female legislator who spoke on condition of anonymity.
lobby is serious because ZANU PF needs at least four legislators from our
ranks to have the required two-thirds majority to tamper with
the constitution," she added.
The MDC legislators were adamant
they would not be bullied or coaxed into supporting piece-meal constitutional
"This latest proposal to tinker with the parliament, just
like the proposed electoral reforms, will only benefit ZANU PF. There is no
way we can embrace this latest one even though they are proposing 50 special
seats for women," added another female MDC legislator.
Coltart, the MDC legal secretary, said his party's position regarding
constitutional reform had not changed.
"We have not shifted our
position as a party. We want constitutional reform but this process should
not be piecemeal as is being suggested by ZANU PF. We as a party want and
will support comprehensive reforms," said Coltart.
to introduce a bicameral parliament comes at a time when the Zimbabwe
Parliament is itself undertaking a reform process, which kicked off in
International Trade Minister Samuel Mumbengegwi's hardline stance against
re-engagement with the international community, particularly the Bretton
Woods institutions, has further attenuated industry's confidence that the
government is going all out to resolve the economic crisis.
consensus is that Zimbabwe, which has largely remained a pariah state with
friends few and far between, should mend fences with the International
Monetary Fund (IMF), its sister institution the World Bank and the greater
Critical funding from the international
monetarists has been on ice since the mid-nineties. Other donors and
financiers who take their cue from the IMF have also been sitting on the
fence, maintaining the wait-and-see attitude.
this week unanimous that although what the country would get from the IMF as
balance of payments support amounted to the proverbial drop in the ocean
considering its external support requirements, it could trigger a flurry of
international financier support for the country.
In line with
this, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which has taken a lead role in the
economic revival process, has gone all out to engage the development partners
from whom the country has been estranged for close to a decade
But the divergent voices emanating from the government
have disconcerted industry and commerce.
previously cautioned that as the country draws towards another election next
year, economic pragmatism was likely to take a back seat between now and the
first half of 2005, when populist posturing is expected to take centre
Amid the uncertainty wrought by mixed signals emanating from
the corridors of power, it has also emerged that scepticism has crept in
among captains of industry and trade.
"We do not believe the
minister's position is shared across the board, but then he is a government
minister and what he says carries weight quite naturally. So although some of
us have ceased to take him seriously, having been exposed to some of his
antics, we are not sure if the international partners also disregard
"For the most part, though, we switch off when he takes to
the podium," one banking executive who attended the Confederation of
Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) congress in Victoria Falls, where Mbengegwi, once
again, lambasted industry for its supposedly narrow view of what amounts to
an international community.
Prior to the CZI congress, the
minister also clashed with prominent economic commentator Eric Bloch at a
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) meeting held in Kadoma two
months ago, over the issue.
Moses Chundu, an economist with CFX
Financial Services who was also in attendance at the CZI congress, said it
was imperative that the country gets the support of international partners if
the economic turnaround effort was to bear fruit.
"We need to
speak the same language, but as far as some of us can see, there is a rift
between the central bank and the government over engaging the international
"While we take note of our history, we also need
partnership that is fair and smart. We can say no to certainly
conditionalities, but there is no need to remain disengaged," Chundu
Bloch said the stance taken by the likes of Mumbengegwi
seemed to have been buttressed by President Robert Mugabe, who is also on
record as having said Zimbabwe could go it alone.
"It should be
noted that the President has himself said that we can go it alone, like
Malaysia, forgetting that Malaysia's circumstances are different from
"I will not go so far as to say that is the common position
in government, but I know even those who see differently do not dare say
so, which is why it is commendable that the (RBZ) governor has shown courage
to publicly disagree. This has, in turn resulted in headway being
made, especially where the International Monetary Fund, which was
considering expelling us but has deferred the decision, is concerned," Bloch
The RBZ has, in recent months, moved towards a détente with
the Bretton Woods institutions following a protracted impasse.
On its part, the government has also committed to making token repayments to
the multinational development institutions owed several billions of dollars
The IMF last year initiated moves towards terminating
Zimbabwe's membership, a decision which has been deferred for six months as
officials in Washington watch the economic turnaround programme being
spearheaded by the RBZ.
Chigwe-dere, celebrated historian, author, teacher and school head, ascended
to the helm of the Education Ministry, few would have thought that his tenure
at Chester House would coincide with a startling decline in the standards of
Zimbabwe's education system, once feted as peerless on the
Critics say Chigwe-dere, whose first published work -
From Mutapa to Rhodes - chronicled the history of the Shona empire that
straddled what is now modern southeastern Zimbabwe and parts of Mozambique up
until the advent of the colonial era, has virtually turned back the hands of
time towards those 15th century days when the Munhumutapas established the
Chigwedere's appointment as deputy minister in the
Education Ministry in 2000 followed the conclusion of the Nziramasanga
Commission into Zimbabwe's education system. As a result, it was greeted with
Indeed, the new appointee himself remarked: "I feel
I have come at the most opportune moment for one main reason, that the
Nziramasanga Report which contains radical changes in education is being
considered for implementation.
"I have been clamouring for
changes in the education system. I feel I will assist the minister to forge
the education system so that the youths will benefit."
time, nothing could have prepared the nation for the "radical changes" that
Chigwedere, who was to be appointed head of the ministry within the year,
Among them was the crusade against colonial names,
similar uniforms for all schools, the proscription of foreign syndicated
examinations, and a clampdown on "excessive fees" as well as on extra tuition
Four years down the line, Caiphas Nzirama-sanga, who
led the commission, expressed dissatisfaction with the manner and pace
of implementation of the commission's recommendations.
the fourth year since the report was completed and one would have expected
half the recommendations to have been implemented," Nziramasanga said last
Instead, the ministry has gone on an all-out assault to break
the spirit of private schools, where most black professionals now send
their children, eschewing public institutions that have been run down by
years of maladministration and chronic underfunding.
combative right through the unfolding crisis, has come
Private schools are the last bastion of colonial
privilege, he charged, despite the fact that most of the children enrolled
there are blacks.
The claim was made all the more ridiculous
this week when Kirsty Coventry, a product of the very same school system
Chigwedere is trying to destroy, won Zimbabwe's first individual medal at the
Athens Olympiad, thereby raising the country's flag high above politics,
religion and creed. Coventry is a former student of Harare's Dominican
Ironically, Chigwe-dere was barred from Greece as the
Olympic hosts enforced a European Union ban on Zimbabwe government officials,
slapped after the country descended into deep-seated political and economic
However, a cursory look at Chigwedere's history betrays an
underlying desire to annihilate what he perceives to be the remnant of
Debating in Parliament in 1995, the Wedza
legislator argued that Zimbabwe's education "should be prefaced by a clear
national education policy".
"As we stand here now, I have never
known for 15 years what our national aims and objectives are in education,"
Later that year he moved a motion calling on the
government to designate "under-used" mission farms. Most mission schools,
many of which produced the country's leaders, including President Robert
Mugabe, were built on missionary farm land. The ZANU PF-dominated Fourth
Parliament shot the motion down.
Chigwedere's report card as far
as his ministry is concerned cannot be flattering. The public education
system is in a state of decay - basic teaching aids are not available, morale
has hit rock bottom among teaching staff, the public examination system has
lost credibility and the onslaught against private schools has sounded the
final death knell.
Incidentally, at the time of the presentation of
his commission's report, Nziramasanga alluded to the sad reality of
illiteracy among the ranks of Zimbabwe's school children.
is no doubt that our educational content is deteriorating. There are children
who cannot read or write. At Form 2 they could not read or
"We found children at Form 4 who could not write their
names," the veteran educationist said at the time.
could not have guessed, in all his sagacity, that a few years down the line,
custodians of the country's revolutionised examination system would not be
able to distinguish one candidate from the other.
BULAWAYO - As
Zimbabwe approaches its first quarter century as an independent state, some
political commentators have called on the country to redefine patriotism to
reflect the generational transformation that has taken place since 1980 when
the country attained independence after a 14-year bitter armed
The commentators were concerned about statements by
ruling ZANU-PF leaders which continued to bind the nation to one's
participation in the liberation struggle, something they argued inferred that
anyone who did not participate in that struggle was not patriotic enough to
lead the country.
President Robert Mugabe was recently quoted as
saying that he looked forward to being replaced by someone with a political
record of participating in the liberation struggle.
could be argued that he was talking about someone succeeding him in his own
party, ZANU PF, there are fears that he could have been referring to the
nation, as he is currently president of the country.
"I look at one
who will appeal to the people and who the people will have chosen naturally
as having the qualities of a leader . . . We must have honest leaders and
that comes first," he was quoted by The Voice, ZANU PF's official newspaper,
While political commentators agreed with President
Mugabe on this because he was giving the people the right to choose their
leaders, they differed when he went on to add: "One naturally with a record
of participation in the struggle and one who cherishes the principles
and objectives of ZANU PF and who is people orientated and knowledgeable
in other ways."
President Mugabe's sentiments were a sad
reminder of what former Defence Forces chief Vitalis Zvinavashe said in the
run-up to the crucial 2002 presidential elections.
He said the
defence forces would not accept anyone who had not fought in the liberation
struggle to lead the country.
Most people felt this was outright
intimidation to cow the electorate not to vote for Movement for Democratic
Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai who was widely tipped at the time to pip ZANU
PF leader President Mugabe.
Asked what he understood patriotism to
mean in view of the prevailing attitude within the ruling party, political
commentator Heneri Dzinotyiwei said patriotism meant "having a genuine
emotional attachment to the goals of interest to one's country and taking
positions that are always seen to give priority to such goals".
He said the goals were broad ones aimed at developing the people of
They had to be nationally acceptable and, though they
could be set by the government of the day, if it was an acceptable
government, they transcended the political divide.
words these are goals that can withstand a change of government.
"All that changes when there is a change of government is the method or pace
of implementation," he said.
Dzinotyiwei said while there was
nothing essentially wrong with looking at those who participated in the
liberation struggle, there was a need to redefine what people meant by
participation in the struggle.
"We fought a people's war.
Everybody, except a few sellouts, participated in one way or the other, so
the question of who participated must be looked at carefully," he
The same sentiments were echoed by Bulawayo historian
and educationist, Pathisa Nyathi.
"If we continue to link
patriotism and participation in politics to those who fought in the
liberation struggle, what are we going to do 50 years from now when they are
all dead?" he asked.
Nyathi said patriotism should simply be
confined to love of one's country, dedication to that country, commitment to
the nation and conviction for what the nation stands for.
not saying people should agree all the time, but where there are differences
you do not shoot down your country or denigrate it," he said.
does not mean to say you should not criticise the leadership. You must do
that instead or letting outsiders do it.
"You criticise to build
the nation, to make sure that the leadership is answerable to the people. You
do that out of love for your country just like you would criticise a friend
or a colleague, out of love."
Nyathi said it was very unpatriotic
to keep silent while the nation crumbled, adding that linking patriotism to
participation in the struggle was too narrow a definition of
"You have to leave that to the people.
"People will define what patriotism is and who they want to lead them. What
is important is not what you were carrying, but people standing
"You need to stand for your nation, defending
what is good for your country. Some struggles are not political, they are
ideological. The greatest weapon on earth is the mind, and fighting minds
will always be there."
Gorden Moyo, executive director of
Bulawayo Agenda, a trust that promotes dialogue, debate and discussion on
topical issues affecting the nation, said patriotism should be redefined to
reflect new thinking on democracy and respect for human rights.
He said as far as he was concerned there were two levels of patriotism, one
shared by the "passing generation" and the other by the
"For the passing generation of current political
leaders, who started as nationalists, patriotism means commitment to each
other, commitment to collecti-veness, commitment to the common good,
commitment to people who share the same history and culture," Moyo
"It means commitment to the values and virtues of the
"These people had a vision of liberating
the African continent and patriotism meant that one had to identify oneself
with this vision.
"This did not just apply to Zimbabwe but to the
African continent as a whole," he said.
Moyo said things had
changed. There was a new generation and a new crop of
To these people, patriotism meant commitment to the
values and virtues of democracy, and commitment to civil liberties of both
individuals and communities.
"While it is good to refer to our
past so that we can look at our mistakes and map out the future, we should
not dwell too much on the past," Moyo said.
be above mere utterances and observation of past rituals and past victories.
The past needs to be challenged and to be scrutinised whether it was good or
"Patriotism should include listening, sympathetic listening,
to the people, the poor, the middle class, listening to the concerns of the
people and bundling them up into a vision for the future."
Privileges Committee is understood to have finalised its probe into the
scuffle between opposition legislator Roy Bennett and two Cabinet ministers
and the findings are expected to be presented to the House next
Chairman of the committee and Minister of Public Service,
Labour and Social Welfare Paul Mangwana told The Financial Gazette this week
that the inquest had been completed and he was currently working on the final
draft of the outcome of the probe.
"We talked and talked with
members of the committee, coming up with various suggestions on the way
forward," Mangwana said.
"But after the discussions we made a
decision. I am currently drafting the report, which I will then hand over to
members of the committee for approval before they give me the green light to
table it in Parliament."
However, Mangwana, a lawyer for the past
19 years, refused to disclose the committee's decision, saying he was gagged
by parliamentary rules.
"Our decision will come through Parliament.
I am gagged by parliamentary rules, so I am not in a position to disclose
that information. But our decision is going to be tabled in Parliament next
week, if the committee is satisfied with my report."
members of the committee include Chief Jonathan Mangwende, the Minister of
Water Resources and Infrastructural Development, Joyce Mujuru, and Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) MPs for Harare East and Bulawayo North East
Tendai Biti and Welshman Ncube respectively.
Bennett lost his cool
after he was verbally attacked by Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
Minister and Leader of the House Patrick Chinamasa while discussing the Stock
Irked by Chinamasa's vitriolic attack, the Chimanimani
lawmaker stood up, charged at the minister and floored him.
Didymus Mutasa, the Minister of Anti-Corruption and Anti Monopolies in the
President's Office, was also involved in the brawl.
ALARM bells are ringing once again in
the agriculture industry following moves by the government to target estates
owned by South African horticultural firm Conafex Societe Anonyme Holdings
The government has notified Conafex's Zimbabwean
subsidiary, Zimcor Limited, that it will effect immediate seizure of its
entire agricultural assets in the country.
This comes barely
three months after the government, whose land reform programme has torn the
country's once thriving agricultural sector apart, expropriated Kondozi farm,
where a lucrative horticultural project was run on a joint-venture
Reports from South Africa indicate that notices extending to
all of Zimcor's agricultural assets have already been served on two of
Zimcor's most productive estates, Trelawney in Banket and Hybury in
Conafex is listed on the Johannesburg Securities Exchange
and the Luxembourg Stock Exchange.
In a cautionary statement
issued this week on the JSE, Conafex notified shareholders that all its
agricultural assets had fallen victim to the Zimbabwe government's seemingly
unending disruptive land reform programme.
Societe Anonyme wishes to advise shareholders that the government of Zimbabwe
has advised shareholders that all its agricultural estates are to be
compulsorily acquired with immediate effect. The implications of this matter
and the matter of compensation are not yet clear," read part of the
The firm is reported to have been making diplomatic
representations through the Luxembourg embassy in Zimbabwe in a vain attempt
to fight the compulsory annexure.
Conafex depends solely on its
Zimbabwe operations, which are worth US$8.5 million, the larger chunk of the
company's total US$13 million assets, according to its 2003 financial
Conafex, which has been writing down its portfolio in
light of the risks associated with the disruptions on the farms in Zimbabwe,
last year made a Z$1.1 billion profit, up from Z$165 million.
Zimcor employs about 963 workers.
The group has been shifting its
regional headquarters to South Africa, where it has acquired a 50 percent
stake in Cape Town-based Coffee Tea & Chocolate Company, while selling
its stake in the Zimbabwean company Barato Holdings Limited for US$1.1
Barato's sole asset was an 18 percent pole-positioning
shareholding in leading horticultural group Ariston Holdings, which is listed
on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange.
Conafex has however long stated
its desire to shift investment from Zimbabwe to elsewhere in the
The latest move by the government has sent jitters down the
spines of South African agro-investors, who include Anglo American, which
owns Hippo Valley sugar estates and 50 percent of Triangle Sugar. Diversified
resource group Tongaat-Hullet owns the remaining 50 percent.
Triangle, Zimbabwe's largest sugar producer, has not been served
with acquisition notices, while Hippo Valley sugar estates' future hangs in
the balance since January this year when Anglo American was served
with expropriation notices by the government.
Disruptions in the
horticultural sector have seen exports shrink by 23 percent since
The sector contributes six percent of total agricultural
output and eight percent of foreign exchange earnings.
earnings have shrunk from US$142 million in 1999 to US$110 million in
Output from the horticultural sector, which for 10 years
before 1999 had registered average growth rates of 15 percent annually, is
expected to fall by 50 percent in 2004.
Industry and International Trade
Minister, Samuel Mumbengegwi, known for his antics and fits of temper, was at
it again a fortnight ago. Clearly incapable of being serious the minister
waxed enthusiastic and lyrical about how he had been able to bust so-called
targeted sanctions to attend meetings in Brussels, the seat of the European
According to the minister, Zimbabwe is doing just fine in
isolation (Please God help us) and captains of industry attending the
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries annual congress in Victoria Falls were
wrong to say that the country has suffered breathtaking losses because of the
ostracisation which has aggravated the unprecedented economic
Instead of being concerned with constructive engagement,
the self-absorbed, conceited and arrogant Mumbengegwi displayed his
unbelievable crassness when he started off by saying since he is a government
minister whatever he was going to say should not be questioned. Business
leaders were all of a sudden reduced to children of kindergarten age. Only to
be seen and never to be heard! He then had the temerity to insult the
business community further by telling them in no uncertain terms that they
"have an obscure notion of what consists of the international community".
That the business community could draw sharp attacks for such a logical and
inescapable conclusion speaks volumes about the calibre of our
The statement by Mumbengegwi not only worsens and adds
to the sharpness of the Zimbabwean crisis. It also gives food for thought. To
what extent do Zimbabwean government ministers take their jobs seriously?
Such questions are inevitable because sometimes one cannot help but wonder to
no end how President Mugabe chooses some of his ministers. They are only
good at pressing the lid tight on the steam-boiler but retreat into
a scapegoating mode when insuperable problems arise!
which is feeling the sharpest edge of the knife in this isolation, had said
and rightly so, that no country is, metaphorically speaking, an island and
Zimbabwe could not therefore continue on this isolationist path. It has to
re-engage the international community. But in a response that obviously must
have provoked a sharp intake of breath among the business leaders,
Mumbengegwi, like the proverbial birthday skin naked emperor who sees nothing
wrong with it despite a cacophony of shouts to alert him to his nudity,
insisted Zimbabwe is doing fine. Really! From what planet is Mumbengegwi
That the country is caught up in a lengthy economic crisis
is inconsequential. So is the fact that foreign direct and portfolio
investment have plummeted by 95 percent and 83 percent respectively over the
past eight years. Added to this, the country is facing a serious crisis of
confidence, its credit rating has been reduced to junk status,
critical balance-of-payments support to stabilise public finances has
evaporated, the trade deficit has widened, industry is laden with gloom and
jobs are being shed everyday. And worse still Zimbabwe is now widely seen as
a pariah state although government has protested this as unjustified
hostility, contempt and ostracism, seemingly oblivious of the fact that in
such circumstances as Zimbabwe finds itself in perception is largely taken as
fact. And, according to Mumbengegwi, this is nothing to lose sleep over. It
is a normal situation despite telling and luminous evidence of a nation in
distress. If this is not a profound insult to Zimbabweans for whom the
continued ostracisation evokes a desperate sense of trepidation, then we
don't know what is.
Now, we understand that the Zimbabwean
government has its back against the wall. Clutching at straws for political
survival, it is bound to react like a cornered animal. We also appreciate
that contrary to the laws of physics, any pressure in politics spawns a
strong reaction. But given that the present state of the relationship between
Zimbabwe and the international community leaves a painful impression, the
temperamental Mumbengegwi is, for want of as better word, wrong to pretend
that the consequences of the isolation are not being felt.
minister's tragi-comic posturing should be dismissed with the contempt it
deserves. The angry-sounding minister is a clown whose antics have long
ceased to be funny if ever they were. Such unfortunate posturing by someone
who should, as the head of the all-important Ministry of Industry and
International Trade, be a symbol of the Zimbabwean economic pre-eminence,
could be laughable were it not for the gravity of its implications. What
signal is he sending to the international community? Wake up and smell the
coffee minister. No matter how much of a bitter pill it might be, we need the
international community. But it does not need us nor does it owe us a
True, we have been in isolation for some time now. But have
we fared any better, as Mumbengegwi would like to make us believe?
Unfortunately no. This is why we feel that re-engaging the international
community as already advocated by the more sensible and practical arms of
government such as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe will be a victory for
pragmatism. Together with our own home-grown efforts to put a fresh heart
into the stricken economy, herein lies the main direction of maintaining
stability and sustainable growth in the economy based on the calculation and
understanding of events taking place in the global village that the world has
It is indeed a tragedy that Mumbengegwi, under whose
stewardship Zimbabwean exports have hit an all-time low, is clearly lacking
in strategic vision and clarity of thinking which could help bolster the
country's faltering economic fortunes. He ignores reality, basic economic
laws and common sense. That is why he speaks so glowingly of the look-east
policy, which at most has brought very little from the limping Asian tigers
and at worst nothing!
The fact is that there is a fork ahead on
this road of Zimbabwe/international community relationship. It is either a
deeper rapprochement with the greater community of nations or deeper
conservatism and isolation, being advocated by the likes of Mumbengegwi,
which will be ruinous for the country.
EDITOR - I have nothing for or
against the West. And when there is something to emulate, even in an
enemy's deeds, those who are wise do so without being blinkered by foolish
I am talking about a civilised way of campaigning for and
As I write, Americans John Kerry and George W
Bush are locking horns in a political battle for the White House. When I
watch their election campaigns, it is as if I am watching a debate between
brothers. It is a fierce battle without swords, no words of hatred, no
violence, no blood.
They do not attack each other's person: they
focus on issues.
The other time I watched Kerry, with a large bus
clearly labelled John Kerry, on a campaign crusade and I wondered what would
happen if Morgan Tsvangirai did the same in Zimbabwe. He would not move half
an inch before the petrol bombs rained.
My heart bleeds at the
culture of political violence promoted directly and indirectly by those who
are supposed to sow seeds of peace, progress and prosperity in
our country. Every election time innocent people have to make an extra
budget for tears, coffins and food in anticipation of death and
Why can't we Zimbabweans tolerate each other and work
for the progress of our country? Why do our leaders continue to
torment the souls of the brave men and women who lost their lives fighting
for peace for everyone in Zimbabwe regardless of colour, political
orientation and history?
Why do our leaders turn their
attention away from addressing bread-and-butter issues and instead waste
precious energy singing stories of Western conspiracies as if that
would bring progress to our people? Could someone give me an
Zimbabweans, that schizophrenic southern
African people that the whole world is struggling to understand, are at it
again . . . this time they are going to throw the longest kongonya dance
party that will land them in the Guinness Book of Records, one more
Believe me, some 60-plus sybaritic Zimbos calling themselves
The Neighbourhood Crew are planning to throw the longest of all dance
parties the world has ever seen . . . a dhindindi that will run for a cool
five days and four nights at the Harare Gardens from August 26 to August
About nine medical doctors have already been engaged to ensure
that Neighbourhood Crew's kongonya dance party surpasses the 52-hour record
set by some Americans in Ohio last year.
Killjoys at ZESA have
been warned against any power-cut mischief. And besides, a generator will be
on standby to ensure Zimbabweans feature again in the world book of
At least this augurs very well with the culture of
"official" galas that is being inculcated among us.
Jonah Mungoshi narrowly missed being entered for giving the longest speech in
the world, we can still boast that we are current holders of the longest
lecture and, at one time, if not until now, holders of another record - that
of producing the youngest university lecturer.
Besides, we have
several other dubious world records that are not yet official . . . we are
the only country in the world that can insult the British and their American
cousins and get away with it. We are proud that our own Great Uncle is the
most travelled statesman in the whole world . . . and we are also the only
poor country in the world that gives donors conditions under which they can
A Cabinet minister, now dismissed, once built a
nine-roomed house in one day at his Guruve home when his father died just to
save very senior party members who were going to attend the funeral from
suffering heart attacks! Isn't this enough for
And the war veterans last week
decided to lock the ZANU PF offices in Masvingo, unhappy with the way Daniel
Shumba is running (down) the party business in the province. The rambunctious
former freedom fighters charged that they were not too happy with the
leadership style of the former army-man, who they claimed did not want to
address some pertinent party issues.
We are not sure whether
these allegations are true but what we are sure of is Cde Shumba's response:
"I don't have time to attend Kangaroo courts!"
We wonder where he derives his power from.
And by the way, what is
the latest on that stillborn project called Telefone Access (TeleAccess)?
What happened to the claptrap about COMESA projects and all that
At the weekend, Comrade Shuvai Mahofa
announced that she had set up a trust fund to fundraise billions for the
Zimbabwe women's national soccer team, the so-called Mighty Warriors, who
will be participating in a continental soccer tournament in South Africa in
December. That is not much of a bad idea at all . . . if only it was not for
But Mahofa and her equally well-meaning colleagues
should be reminded that an investigation is currently underway at ZIFA House
to take care of serious accusations of a mighty sexy scandal allegedly going
on in the Mighty Warriors' camp.
We are told that the sex
scandals have been rampant for a long time now - almost as old as the Mighty
Warriors itself - and also that cases of lesbianism are rampant in this
outfit . . . a lot is reportedly happening there. Anyway, this should not be
surprising at all, especially in cases where some male adults pretend to be
donating their services to the women's team under the name of patriotism and
So, Cde Mahofa, what if we make generous donations
to the trust and after that it is established that the whole team is made up
of homosexuals and other sex perverts? Would we not feel fleeced by creatures
"worse than pigs and dogs" so that they can perform their perverted sexual
act in poshy South African hotels under the guise of a soccer
Although Cde Mahofa is herself also not a stranger to
canal scandals, CZ doesn't think that it is the right thing for her and her
colleagues to involve themselves with this scandal-tainted Mighty Warriors at
this time. GALZ might be very happy to chip in!
And CZ wonders
whether the on-going investigations at ZIFA will also involve outsiders as
well because a number of sports journalist colleagues are rumoured to be
heavily involved in this sex scandal!
consumers can now please look forward to the Candid Brief from the Editor
column in ZANU PF's refurbished mouthpiece, The Voice, which is threatening
to make their Sundays very good ones. Here the combative young editor is
showing that he will not be intimidated by other men in the party, moreso
those in the Department of Information and Publicity in the Office of the
Great Uncle and his Cabinet who seem to have a propensity to create enemies
even with their own grandmothers!
This week's Candid Brief was one
good one. During the editor's recent interview with the Great Uncle, it
emerged that all the five copies of The Voice intended for his office were
never getting to him and everyone wondered who might be this person playing
the unsavoury role of saboteur.
"Indeed who is the saboteur? Your
guess is just as good as mine and I shall not say anything more for I will be
accused of all sorts of names (sic)," said the editor who was recently
dismissed by the Department of Information as "ideologically
He added: "There is nothing more exhilarating and
reassuring for an Editor to (sic) realise that the President and First
Secretary of the Party is supportive of your efforts. I am quite aware that
there are others who have cast aspersions about (sic) the Editor in an effort
to discredit him, my message to them is that I was born in the struggle, grew
in the struggle and I am still in the struggle. This is my identity, I can
not reinvent myself. I am not like others whose history in the party does not
go beyond the media institutions they are working for . . . "
There you are. A man asserting his authority.
We all hope against
hope that at the December congress, one professor will not emerge full-blown
as ZANU PF's secretary for information . . . there could be gnashing of teeth
at Shake-Shake Building. Don't say we didn' t warn you!
the good pictures that appeared in the Brief, especially the one in which the
editor is holding the Great Uncle like his "small-house", colleagues in the
fraternity tell CZ that although his is a party paper, that habit is not
encouraged in the noble profession.
Information is the lifeblood of a democracy and
it is also the lifeblood of journalism.
The free flow of
information is crucial to the enjoyment and protection of a whole range of
other rights and freedoms and that is why freedom of information is often
described as the touchstone of all freedoms.
Much stress is
justifiably laid these days on government transparency and
Without access to adequate information about
government, it is not possible for people to participate in any meaningful
way in social interaction and development activities.
style of government allows Parliament, civil society, the media and
interested members of the public to participate in the formulation of policy
and in decision-making in general at all levels.
A result of
openness in government is that the quality of decision-making may be improved
because more discussion and debate will go into it.
In order to
ensure accountability of government officials, information relating to
government activities must be freely and easily accessible.
exceptionally should government be allowed to keep official information
History clearly shows us that abuses of power and
corruption thrive when power holders are able to carry out their activities
Yet the dominant culture in government systems and the
private sector is one of secrecy.
Most governments hide
information in their possession which will show them in bad
The more a government has to hide, the more it will resist
moves to have a functional system of easier access to government
For media practitioners the perennial problem is how
to gain access to information that governments do not want them to know
Corrupt and inept governments will seek to conceal all
information which will expose their incompetence and corruption.
The same applies to information about private corporations.
Globalisation has vested too much power in private corporations and there is
now greater need for accountability and transparency on their part.
The rule should be that people have a general right of access to official
information and access should only be denied where there are compelling
public policy reasons for doing so on the grounds of necessary protection of
genuine and essential public interests or legitimate
In other words, public officials should be
legally duty-bound to disclose information except that which falls under the
exemptions and the exemptions must be precisely and clearly
This is the position in Sweden, Australia, Germany, Norway
and the United States.
Unfortunately concepts of public order,
security and interest, etcetera, are nebulous and elusive and can be
manipulated and abused by government officials to cover scandals, for
example, in the awarding of government tenders.
If the media is
unduly constrained from supplying information to the public by repressive,
vaguely worded laws shielding public officials from criticism such as laws on
so-called subversive statements, seditious libel, defamation and contempt of
Parliament, the democratic process suffers because the public does not have
access to information, and so cannot make any meaningful contribution to the
public discourse as is expected in any participatory democracy.
The Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act undermines the right
of citizens to government information.
Modern ideas emphasise the
duty of government to allow the media and the citizenry in general reasonable
access to information held by government officials.
though, is subject to certain exceptions which must be reasonably justifiable
in a democratic society.
As presently formulated, AIPPA and the
Official Secrets Act (OSA) go way beyond what would be accepted as legitimate
and justifiable protection from disclosure of government
The exemptions in AIPPA are exceedingly and
frighteningly wide in scope to the extent that the legislation just gives a
theoretical right to information but the exemptions have the effect of
effectively watering down that right.
It is not very clear from
the Act but it would appear that only journalists accredited in terms of the
Act, and not the general public or any other person, can apply for access to
information held by public bodies.
The rationale for the compulsory
licensing of journalists and of making a distinction between a professional
journalist and any other citizen in terms of the right to access to
government information is difficult to follow.
The practice of
professional journalism cannot be differentiated from freedom of
On the contrary, both are obviously intertwined, for
the professional journalist is not, nor can he be anything but someone who
has decided to exercise freedom of expression in a continuous, regular and
So the main problem with AIPPA is the breadth of the
exemptions, which are wide and vague, and the fact that with many of these
exemptions there is no independent check to ensure that government officials
do not use these exemptions to conceal government abuses.
legislation fails to statutorily create, institute and entrench an appeal
process or review mechanism which is independent of government to determine
whether or not privilege is genuinely claimed, save for a further appeal to
the Administrative Court.
In order to extract information about
matters of public administration the media has to go through lengthy
bureaucratic procedures and officials are able to cover up illegal and
unacceptable conduct by simply refusing to allow the press access to relevant
Where the media have little access to official
information, there is a danger that it will end up publishing stories based
on rumour or speculation and these stories may turn out to be fallacious and
Journalistic experience reveals that generally,
persons in public office in Zimbabwe are barred, as a matter of practice,
from giving information to the media unless authorised by their
Journalists are hampered by this secretive style of
A reporter wishing to get information
from a government official or a quasi-governmental body is often met with a
curt "no comment" or asked to submit his questions in writing to the
"appropriate authority" but not infrequently a written request for
information receives no reply or the information supplied is too little or it
may be supplied after a very long time.
The result is that
official information to the press is entirely dependent upon official
Another shortcoming in our access to information
legislation is that there is no whistle blower provision to give government
officials immunity from legal and disciplinary action when these officials
act in the public interest by revealing corruption, dishonesty and
maladministration on the part of other government officials.
OSA, and in particular section 4 thereof, specifically makes it an offence
for any person employed in government to give out information to the press
without specific authorisation, including the receipt of such information
where such receipt is with the knowledge that the information is being
provided in contravention of the Act.
The catch-all provisions of
the section and the Act in general are absurdly broad in scope, rendering
criminal all unautho-rised disclosure of information from official sources,
regardless of whether the public interest demand secrecy or not.
Such indiscriminate legislation is a fertile breeding ground for abuse by
The fact that this Act is rarely invoked does not make
it any less offensive because its mere existence on our statute books poses a
potential danger to our liberties.
In any case, it can actually
be invoked in the run up to next year's elections as what happened to the Law
and Order Maintenance Act (LOMA), which is now POSA.
the constitutionality of many of the offences under OSA is highly
questionable because many of the provisions restrict the right to receive and
impart information guaranteed in section 20 of the constitution and they go
very much further than is reasonably justifiable in a democratic society to
protect interests such as defence, public safety and the economic interests
of the state.
Zimbabwe needs to transform the whole information
order from a closed one to a far more open system so as to counter
obstructionist tactics by government departments and private
It is difficult to see how a closed system of
government can be labeled democratic, with contemporary emphasis on
In the legal arena, the fundamental issue
in transforming the information order is to include in the constitution a
specific guarantee of access to information as with the Namibian and South
By including such a constitutional
guarantee, together with an explicit guarantee of the freedom of the press,
the courts will then be able to interpret and measure all existing laws
against the guarantees and strike down any laws inconsistent with the
constitution, to the extent of their inconsistency.
Muriwo Sithole is a Harare-based legal practitioner.
industry, which took a heavy battering at the height of the government's
chaotic land reform in 2000, will this year contribute two percent of gross
domestic product (GDP).
Industry players said the industry, which
at its peak in 1999 earned the economy US$770 million, will contribute a mere
Z$3.4 billion this year.
Direct employment in the sector has also
fallen from 128 244 in 2003 to 42 748 workers in 2004.
to the World Tourism Council, Zimbabwe's industry has a potential to
contribute more than 12 percent of GDP, which is the total value of goods
produced by a country.
The sharp drop in tourism industry earnings
comes amid revelations by players in the sector that the much-touted "Look
East" policy would need more than 12 months to bear fruit.
has been established that tourists from Asia, mainly China, which the
Zimbabwe government has targeted as one of its potential source markets, were
coming at concessionary rates.
Chinese visitors, whose spending
patterns are far much lower than those of tourists from Europe and the United
States, also travel in groups of 12 to 16 to get discounted
Players in the tourism sector said on average, a single
Western tourist spent about four times the amount of money a Chinese visitor
Zimsun Leisure chief executive officer Shingi Munyeza
said Chinese tourists were being charged US$30 per room while other visitors
from around the world were being charged at rates more than US$60 per
This was mostly because the Chinese, who are not big
spenders, had been complaining about punitive rates in Zimbabwe.
Average expenditure per Chinese tourist is about US$1 350 per eight-day trip,
tourism industry players said.
"The Chinese market is getting the
rates they want. We also look at which hotels would be suitable for them,
depending on their own values. Since these people come in large numbers, the
yield will just be the same with tourists from our traditional markets,"
Munyeza said it would take more than 12 months for
the Chinese market to start making meaningful contributions to the
The government has been harping on about the award of
approved destination status (ADS) by China to Zimbabwe.
benefits could elude Zimbabwe, widely perceived unstable, because China has
also approved ADS to other African countries such as Egypt, South Africa and
"Arrivals from the traditional source markets such as the
United Kingdom, America and Australia continue to decline as the hostility
between these countries and Zimbabwe continues," Munyeza said.
Africa enjoys a 0.5 percent market share of more than 12.1 million travellers
Analysts pointed out that the much expected Chinese
tourist source market was failing to make an impact mainly because of travel
Whereas most international airlines are flying into
South Africa, Zimbabwe is only being served by two.
also seen the multi-billion-dollar Harare International Airport being reduced
to a white elephant, observers say.
"Direct flights to tourist
destinations such as Kariba and Victoria Falls are not available from Harare.
Victoria Falls airport needs lengthening, while the Hwange airport is in need
of refurbishment," said Munyeza.
The cash-strapped Zimbabwe
government has allocated a paltry $20 billion to the Civil Aviation Authority
of Zimbabwe to revamp international airports.
'Hyperinflation to remain entrenched in Zim
Dumisani Ndlela 8/19/2004 7:45:31 AM (GMT
A SOUTH African bank has warned that Zimbabwe would remain in
the hyperinflationary zone next year, despite the slowdown in inflation
prompted by an aggressive monetary policy by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
In a report issued last Friday, Standard Bank said the
country was likely to see inflation, which had been heading towards the 1 000
percent territory before RBZ governor Gideon Gono's monetary policy measures
sent tremors in a market that had become largely speculative, settling below
the 200 percent range by the end of the year.
This is in line
with Gono's forecast made in his first monetary policy statement as the new
RBZ governor last year. The bank said that Zimbabwe's inflation was showing
early signs of levelling off, but hyperinflation would remain entrenched in
the economy despite the downward spiral.
The year-on-year inflation
rate for July slumped to 362.9 percent from 394.6 percent in June, although
it edged up month-on-month to 9.5 percent from 9.2 percent in June, spurred
by increases in non-food items in the consumer price index.
inflation declined 378.4 percent year-on-year for the month of July, from
430.6 percent in June.
"Inflation pressures are clearly still
evident, particularly in non-food inflation categories. However, we expect
inflation to decline to below 200 percent by the end of the year and average
380 percent in 2004 and 150 percent in 2005. Inflation will still be at
hyperinflationary levels and will necessitate further monetary tightening,"
the bank said in its research report on Zimbabwe.
battling its worst economic crisis in history, and the RBZ has targeted high
inflation levels in its fight to bring sanity to a market that had been
haunted by speculative behaviour.
While much of the speculative
behaviour was a result of the uncertainties created by the highly
inflationary environment, much of it was a result of greed and poor corporate
governance as evidenced by the crisis besetting the financial services
At least four financial institutions have closed down since
Gono's appointment last year and a fifth has been placed under
The insurance industry, long held to be a bell-weather
sector, has been caught up in the economic shake-up precipitated by the RBZ's
tough monetary policy.
Insurance giant, First Mutual Life, is
teetering on the brink of collapse and is under a government-appointed probe,
which has resulted in the institution being barred from writing new
FALLS - Transport and Communications Minister Christopher Mushowe has said he
is going to wield the axe at the crumbling National Railways of Zimbabwe
(NRZ), which he said was stuffed with "little devils which need to be
Mushowe, who also said he was working on a turnaround
plan for the national rail operator, which is currently "off rail", blamed
management for some of the operational constraints at the state controlled
The NRZ has been operating at less than 40 percent of
capacity, resulting in its failure to service various sectors of the economy.
The net effect has been that industry has resorted to using road
transportation, which is four times more expensive.
operational and financial problems are being experienced despite the fact
that NRZ's wage bill gobbles up 140 percent of the company's revenue, Mushowe
"The NRZ is sick. It is on a life-support machine. But how do
you explain the wage bill of a poorly performing company taking up 140
percent of the revenue base?" queried Mushowe.
For the past
three months, the NRZ has been paying its workers mid- month and Mushowe said
the company was the last to be paid after all other creditors had been
The firm, which used to transport more than 12.3 million
tonnes of goods in 1999, now ferries just 5.8 million tonnes.
NRZ's local debt has also ballooned to more than $50 billion.
Mushowe said management at the firm was the major culprit in running down a
once vibrant organisation.
"There is a combination of little
devils, which need to be exorcised, such as ageing infrastructure and lapses
in management. In fact management is the major culprit," Mushowe charged,
adding there would be a complete overhaul in all NRZ operations.
Mushowe, whose ministry is said to have embarked on major
turnaround programmes at more than 11 state-controlled firms under its ambit,
warned that it would no longer be business as usual at NRZ, whose chaotic
state was underlined by yet another accident involving two commuter trains,
which collided and injured scores of people.
The company is
casting around for resources to be able to transport up to six million tonnes
of goods by the end of 2004 and nine million tonnes by the end of
Observers point out that the government lacks the resources
to effect a momentous change and its turnaround framework risks being thrown
into the trash can as has previously been the case.
which has been hit hard by the incapabilities of the rail utility, accuses
the government of paying lip service to the need to revamp the ailing
parastatal, saying that a lot needs to be done to staunch the bleeding at
Industry players advised the government to consider shedding
some equity in return for fresh capital injection.
government has been calling on local industry to partner the NRZ in the
refurbishment of some of its wagons and locomotives.
Mining and Smelting Company (ZIMASCO), a local ferrochrome mining firm, last
year assisted the NRZ in refurbishing 755 wagons and 13 locomotives, Mushowe
Industry, which is reeling from the effects of the ailing
economy, could only chip in with resources if the government pledges
non-interference in management at NRZ, that the firm will be run on a
commercial basis and if NRZ management produces externally audited accounts,
said a local industry player.
BULAWAYO - The mother
of an eight-year-old girl at a private school in Bulawayo will never forget
the day when she ran out of smaall change and gave her daughter a $5 000
The little girl, who usually got a daily allowance
of $500 or $1000, depending on her mother's mood, discovered that with the
bearer's cheque, she could buy ice cream, snacks and a drink, and remain with
When her mother gave her the usual $500 the following
morning, she rejected the money insisting she wanted a bearer's cheque. Her
hard-up mother had to give in after the little girl went into a
Zimbabwe's currency, which until the end of 1982 was
stronger than the United States dollar, the rand and the pula, has lost so
much value that some Bulawayo residents are questioning the rationale for the
continued existence of the coin mint factory in the city, which the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe refuses to acknowledge is now a white elephant.
Launched with pomp and ceremony on August 31, 2001 when the
government introduced a new $500 note and $5 coin, the aluminium and glass
fronted building along Jason Moyo Street is too quiet for
When the $500 million mint was commissioned by President
Robert Mugabe, it was argued that it would save the country $50 million in
foreign currency because it was costing the country 150 cents to import a
10-cent piece, for example.
The mint, which had six presses,
could churn out 240 million pieces a year when the country's annual
consumption was only 130 million pieces. The mint could, therefore, be used
to mint coins for other countries.
Less than three years down the
line, both the $500 note and the $5 coin are virtually useless. While,
according to the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ), a $5 coin could buy a
packet of tomatoes to feed a family of six in October 2001, a child will not
even pick up the coin today.
He or she would even consider it an
insult to be given anything less than $500 as this is not enough to buy a
The central bank, which is spearheading the country's
economic recovery programme, insisted that the mint was manufacturing coins
"as per demand" because coins were still legal tender and were in
The bank said although it had stopped producing one
cent and five cent coins, they were still legal tender.
who had problems disposing of them could have them exchanged at the central
bank for other denominations without loss of face value.
no longer accept coins. Some building societies do not even accept $20 and
$50 notes, even for banking. The central bank declined to disclose whether it
was minting coins for other countries to sustain the factory only saying "the
mint will continue to compete with other mints worldwide for
"Currency is a security item and therefore it would not
be prudent to publicise any information relating to any of the mint's
customers," it said.
The only countries in the region where coins
are still of any value are those in the Southern African Customs Union, which
comprises South Africa which plays a central role, surrounded by the
satellite states of Namibia, Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland.
There has been a run on the Zimbabwe dollar over the past three years which
has sent the currency tumbling as inflation soared from 76.1 percent when the
mint was commissioned to 363 percent last month, having peaked at 623 percent
Although inflation is declining, prices have continued
to escalate. For example, one needs $41 319 today to buy goods one would have
bought for $847.70 in August 2001.
According to the Consumer
Council of Zimbabwe, a family of six comprising a father and mother and four
children, required only $21 503.11 in October 2001 for their basic
requirements. Today the family requires $1.3 million for the same
The CCZ monthly basket comprises 2kg of margarine, 40
kg of roller meal, 6 kg of sugar. 500g of tea-leaves, a pint of milk every
day, 4.5 litres of cooking oil, a loaf of bread every day, 2 kg of flour, 2
kg of salt, vegetables everyday and 8 kg of meat.
includes the cost of transport for 23 working days, 4 tablets of bathing
soap, 4 bars of washing soap, 4 packets of washing powder, rent for a
three-roomed house and provision for household goods, heat and maintenance,
health and education, and clothing and footwear.
While the food
items cost the family only $6 463.11 a month in October 2001, the same food
items now cost the family $696 400.
Non-food items, which cost the
family $15 040 in 2001, now cost the family $635 680.
basket is, however, for someone living at the poverty line because, a loaf of
bread for example, is hardly enough for six people, especially the quality
that is being baked today which crumbles as one slices it.
escalating poverty line makes a mockery the tax concessions recently made by
acting Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa which will be effective from next
While they will provide some relief because the tax
threshold was raised from $200 000 a month to $750 000, the threshold is
barely enough for the food needs of an average-size family, which stood at
$696 400 in July.
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions had
recommended that the tax threshold should be raised to $1 000 000. Using its
argument that the tax threshold should not be below the poverty datum line,
the tax threshold should now be $1.3 million.
The ZCTU had also
recommended that no one should be taxed at 45 percent as this was too much.
It said the highest rate should be 30 percent and should apply to those
earning above $4 million a month.
At the moment anyone earning more
than $375 000 a month is taxed at 45 percent.
continuing decline of the dollar, it will become increasingly difficult to
justify the existence of the coin mint unless it starts manufacturing high
denomination coins, replacing the present $10, $20, $50 and $100 notes with
Other countries in the region with high denomination notes,
such as Zambia and Tanzania, have stopped printing notes below K500 and
considering banning Zimbabwe-bound fuel tankers passing through its borders
as they are damaging that country's roads and posing an environmental
The ban would be a serious blow to the country, which is
still to fully address the national fuel shortage. The fuel crunch, dating
back to 1999, is one of the most visible signs of an economic crisis squarely
blamed on the government's mismanagement.
The government, which
has not taken kindly to the intended move by Mozambique, has been holding
marathon meetings with Mozambican Transport Minister Andrew Langa, who made
the startling announcement.
While admitting that Mozambique, which
is recovering from a decade-long civil war, had a right to ban Zimbabwean
tankers from using its roads, July Moyo, the Energy and Power Development
Minister, said the intended move would have disastrous effects on Zimbabwe's
precarious fuel supply situation.
Moyo last week urged fuel
importers to use the Beira pipeline but the pipeline has not been used for
more than a year because of the huge debt Zimbabwe owes the
Mozambique-Zimbabwe pipeline Company.
Fuel shipments have remained
erratic despite a government move in August last year to relax regulations
and allow private oil companies to import the commodity, ending the monopoly
of state-importer, National Oil Company of Zimbabwe.
consumes more than 70 million litres of fuel a month, which it has to import
at a total cost of more than US$50 million.
Most of the petroleum,
apart from that transported by rail, is ferried by road.
"Mozambique has said it is going to ban road tankers in its country. They are
damaging their roads, hence the need for us to use the pipeline," Moyo
"Mozambique has a right to ban Zimbabwe-bound fuel tankers,"
Transporting fuel by road also poses a major
environmental hazard, players in the industry said.
Kambarami, Petroleum Marketers of Zimbabwe chairman, said the country has to
find alternative well-coordinated ways of transporting fuel.
said the pipeline was a cheaper means of transporting fuel compared to road
haulage, which costs US3 cents per litre more than the pipeline.
"Road haulage damages infrastructure and the leaks also pose an environmental
hazard," Kambarami said.
"We have to use the pipeline, which is
being partially utilised at the moment.
"The decision on road
haulage can only be resolved at government level," Kambarami
Zimbabwe is in the throes of a crippling fuel shortage
spawned by swingeing foreign currency shortages, which have rocked the
country for the past four years.
has no place in a democracy: Recent announcement in the press about the
intentions of Government of Zimbabwe to enact a piece of law that will make
it difficult for NGOs (non-governmental organisations) to operate must be
viewed with worrying spectacles.
Commenting on the Access to
Information and Protection of Privacy Bill, in 2001, the respected ZANU PF
Member of Parliament for Masvingo South and chairman of the Parliamentary
Legal Committee, Eddison Zvobgo said something to the effect
"The Bill in its current form, represents the most calculated
assault on our liberties."
When Zvobgo said this in the House of
Assembly, the meaning of his statement had far reaching effect; timeless in
effect and very reasoned. A couple of years down the line, another Bill is in
the offing. Its net effect is to do what AIPPA did to the Daily News and the
Tribune as well as subject NGO activists to the same culture of harassment
that AIPPA subjected journalists from the private press.
closer look at the intentions of the government in this Bill betrays the very
sinister motives by some members of the ruling elite. The desire to enact a
one-party state, or in the words of prominent human rights lawyer, Brian
Kagoro, "the attempt at reenacting Rhodesia" is evidently demonstrated in the
intentions of this Bill. The NGO Bill as presently constituted must be
closely analysed and then rejected. It is clearly
anti-development, unhelpful, and will complicate the current multi-layered
and multi-pronged crisis in Zimbabwe.
The government needs to be
collectively seized with the preoccupation of recovering the economy, not
undermining it, mobilising not alienating its citizens, integrating not
marginalising its people, rebuilding not further destroying the national
fabric and generally promoting national consolidation.
only do this if it gets its priorities right, creates an enabling environment
to energise the population so that the creative potential of Zimbabweans can
be unleashed for national development. Human beings, if left free, can be
innovative and enterprising. The culture of achievement is very Zimbabwean
and the government as an executive authority must create the bridges for
national innovation, freedom and enterprise. That is the sole responsibility
of government. It is not to police people and their units, families and
associations as if they were school kids and the government was a collective
Laws such as AIPPA, POSA, the Broadcast Services
Act and the upcoming NGO Bill have no place in a modern society seeking to
develop its people to compete with other countries in the region and on the
globe. Spending time trying to enact a Bill which runs counter to both the
national constitution and civilisation at this juncture in the history of
modern Zimbabwe is clearly a demonstration of priorities that are wrong.
Zimbabwe faces real challenges that need to be urgently addressed. Available
data indicate that upward of two million people will need food aid this
Zimbabwe faces many other challenges needing urgent attention
from the government. Unemployment is estimated at around 80 percent. Poverty
levels rose from 62 percent of the population living under the poverty datum
line in 1996 to about 85 percent in 2003. A quarter of the population is
HIV positive, while a million orphans are in the midst of the nation and
the numbers are rising. The economy has declined by 25 percent in the last
Notwithstanding self celebration antics that tend to
overemphasise the fact that inflation is going down, mothers still buy the
same bar of soap at a price much higher than the time when inflation
supposedly started going down. There is no correlation between the so-called
inflation climb-down and the power of disposable income.
families cannot afford three meals a day. Many school leavers cannot get
jobs. They are flooding the bursting river of unemployment. Companies are
According to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries
in a study of the State of the Manufacturing Sector, in 2001 alone 400
companies closed down in the manufacturing sub sector, a development that
negatively affected 10 000 jobs. This trend has not improved in the
Clearly Zimbabwe faces challenges that require
attention of government on solving economic problems, restoring a culture of
the rule of law, respect for citizens' rights, a constitutional order, a free
press, free judiciary and an engaged private sector.
stage, Zimbabwe needs confidence building measures. It needs critical
leadership that harnesses the energies of the population and not divisive
pieces of law that resemble Rhodesia.
NGOs are, as the name
suggests, non-governmental entities ranging from small women's savings clubs,
banking clubs, small cooperatives, youth groups, to middle and larger
entities such as development associations, credit units and associations,
environmental groups, landless groups, human rights and governance watchdogs,
anti-corruption watchdogs, residents' associations, women's groups, economic
think-tanks, business associations, para- church institutions, lawyers'
groups, engineers, doctors, nurses,, teachers' associations among
The non-governmental sector is almost a stand-alone pillar
responsible for coordinating, marshalling and mobilising resources that
governments and the private sector are unable to have for the benefit of the
NGOs have access to people in the community that government
is unable to reach. We have seen in Zimbabwe that NGOs have been historical
partners of government in the enterprise of development.
the colonial days, NGOs' contribution to human welfare, charity, education,
health and development can not be underestimated. Reconstruction efforts at
independence were led by government, but with immense support from the
non-governmental community. The churches, development trusts, international
NGOs and trade unions played an important role in reconstruction, education
Funding from foreign governments and sources played
an instrumental role. It is common cause that even the liberation movement
benefited immensely from Scandinavian dollars, not just in Zimbabwe but in
South Africa and Namibia to mention but a few countries.
the advent of the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme and its failures
in the 1990s, NGOs began to articulate rights-based discourse and approach to
development. This discourse naturally challenged the intellectual basis of
governance, policy- making by government, and naturally mobilised people
around a critique of government policy- making processes and policies
themselves. The period saw an emergence of a new kind of NGO calling for
participation of citizens in economic and political decision
Women's groups, environmental, organisational, youth and
civic education types of organisations emerged. Their contribution
to democratisation debate, accountability and good governance was immense.
This is important to a democracy and to economic development. Societies are
not monolithic. They are diverse, and to the extent that this diversity
is displayed, citizens and nations will prosper.
To be continued
Tongai Muchena is an independent writer and member of
the Zimbabwe Economics Society. Views expressed do not necessarily reflect
those of the Society.