Zanu PF/MDC clash on electoral reforms Staff
Writers THE ruling Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) are on a collision course over the proposed electoral reforms which
the ruling party is touting as key to Zimbabwe's international
rehabilitation. The two parties clashed this week on how to proceed on the
issue. While Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira sounded conciliatory,
saying there was need for dialogue with the MDC, the opposition hardened its
position, complaining the reforms were a smokescreen behind which rigging and
violence would persist.
Shamuyarira said at a two-day conference in
Victoria Falls on electoral reforms that there was need to engage the MDC on
"We only need four votes from the opposition to form a
(two-thirds) majority and then make constitutional amendments to enable us to
implement the electoral reforms, and we hope the MDC will join us in
effecting the reforms," he said.
For Zanu PF to amend the
constitution to accommodate the setting up of the proposed Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission (ZEC), a purportedly independent body, it needs MDC support. Zanu
PF has 87 MPs, including 12 non-constituency ones, but it is almost assured
of the support of the 10 chiefs who are MPs. The MDC has 51 MPs, while Zanu
(Ndonga) has one.
Shamuyarira's statement on the need to engage the MDC
was in direct conflict with remarks by Information minister Jonathan Moyo's
department last week which claimed there were no talks with the MDC on
The statement pointed to fissures within the
ruling party over the issue.
Zanu PF and the MDC have in the past few
weeks been trying to engage each other to agree on a draft Bill to usher in
the changes. The first encounter between Zanu PF's secretary for legal
affairs Patrick Chinamasa and MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube at
Parliament Building on July 14 ended in deadlock.
the MDC to rubber-stamp Zanu PF's proposals when the Bill comes before
parliament next month but Ncube refused.
Although Chinamasa told a
recent politburo meeting that President Robert Mugabe would appoint five
electoral officers, including the ZEC chairman, to the new agencies from a
list of nine proposed by parliament, sources say the proposed Bill wants the
widely criticised Judicial Services Commission involved in the appointment
MDC secretary for legal affairs David Coltart said the MDC
would not support the reforms if they were a sham.
"If Zanu PF
chooses to pick and choose certain electoral reforms, we cannot play that
game with them," Coltart said. "If they present constitutional reforms that
do not result in a genuinely independent and powerful electoral commission,
we will not lend our support to such a proposal."
The Victoria Falls
meeting resolved that Zimbabwe's proposed reforms need to comply with
regional standards. It also said they should be agreed
Mozambique has adopted this approach insisting that
the opposition Renamo must be involved in electoral law
Zimbabwe will be in the spotlight at the Sadc meeting in
Mauritius from August 15-17 where regional leaders are due to adopt a draft
on principles and guidelines governing democratic elections.
said the MDC would not support fake reforms.
"You need to build
national consensus on these reforms. Reforms that are suitable to Zanu PF are
not acceptable. If they don't address all the pertinent issues, there is a
high probability that the MDC national executive will resolve not to
participate in the elections," he said. "We have already told them that we
will not participate in yet another fraudulent election and if they want,
they can declare a one-party election."
NGOs prepare to lobby Sadc heads on Bill Godfrey
Marawanyika DIVISIONS have emerged over the Non-Governmental Organisations
(NGOs) Bill, which, if promulgated into law, will cut off donor funding to
local civic groups involved in democratic awareness.
Some NGOs who met
last Friday to discuss the Bill wanted to lobby Southern Africa Development
Community (Sadc) heads of state meeting in Mauritius later this month to
dissuade government from the move. Others urged consultations with
Brian Kagoro, a consultant who was hired by the National
Association of Non-Governmental Organisations (Nango) to provide a critique
on the Bill, said that there was a need for Nango to lobby Sadc heads of
state in Mauritius.
"I personally believe that in Mauritius Nango
should make its presence felt. In a few days' time strategies should have
been made, but there has to be representation in Mauritius," he
"I don't think we will get anything from government but let's
keep lines of communication with them open."
legislation, which will repeal the Private Voluntary
makes it illegal for NGOs involved in issues of governance to receive foreign
The Bill will also outlaw the registration of foreign NGOs
whose "sole or principal objects involve or include issues of
The proposed law will have a huge bearing on the ability
of affected NGOs to operate since most of them are foreign-funded, critics
Civic groups likely to be affected include Crisis Coalition,
Human Rights Trust of Southern Africa, Transparency International and
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights. In the Bill, civic groups dealing with
media rights and advocacy are not covered under the definition of a
Legal experts said this could be
deliberate so those organisations like the Media Institute of Southern Africa
and the Media Monitoring Project of Zimbabwe are denied foreign
Another NGO activist who represented people living with Aids
was of the
opinion that people should negotiate with the government,
something which did not go down well with Lovemore Madhuku from the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA).
"It is possible to negotiate with
the government but I know they want to resort to divide and rule using this
Bill. That's the purpose," he said.
"We may not continue to be
together because some Zanu PF-related NGOs will not be monitored as they
would the NCA for example.
Organisations from where I come from would be
targeted," Madhuku said.
If promulgated into law the Bill will virtually
cut off aid to NGOs that deal with issues such as Aids, media advocacy and
women's and children's rights, since these also relate to governance and
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights director Arnold
Tsunga yesterday warned that the government could use Section 2 of the Bill
to close down NGOs.
"Given that the universally accepted perception
of human rights is broad enough to cover civil and political as well as
economic and cultural rights, it is clear that the government could ban any
foreign funding for any disliked NGO using this provision if the Bill is
promulgated into law," Tsunga said.
The proposed Bill also creates an
NGO council that is composed of five civil society representatives and nine
government representatives, that are all appointed by and at the discretion
of the Minister of Public Service.
Once enacted into law the Bill will
enable government to investigate finances and resources of
The government can order NGOs which get funding from outside
the country illegally to repatriate the funds or the state may take
possession of money, securities or property and pay it into a Guardian's
Fund. The NGOs can also be dissolved.
At the end of last week's
meeting a task force was formed that would deal with mobilisation both at the
international and regional stage.
Another group was formed for
constitutional challenge and community mobilisation. However, other people
who attended the meeting were of the opinion that there must be people who
should be responsible for mobilisation at the local level.
Bell tolls for Porta squatters Augustine
Mukaro GOVERNMENT last week deployed police and the army to compile a list of
Porta Farm squatters in preparation for eviction in the next
The move follows Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo's
visit to the farm a fortnight ago. Chombo told over 10 000 squatters at Porta
to wind up their operations in preparation for relocation by August
Government claims the area needs to be cleared to make way for
the construction of a sewerage plant. The squatters claim the government
wants to give the farm to a senior Zanu PF politician.
of Porta this week told the Zimbabwe Independent that Local Government
officials who visited the camp were escorted by the army and police, fearing
that the squatters might be violent.
"We were told that we would be
relocated to acquired farms in Nyabira," one resident said. "We are hearing
that government vehicles and the army will be used to transport us to the
The registration was completed last Wednesday. Two farms in
Nyabira have been earmarked for the squatters.
however lambasted government's intention to move them, saying it would worsen
"The majority of us have been employed in businesses
around Lake Chivero. The unemployed ones were surviving on fishing, so moving
us will be taking away our life-line."
Residents of Porta Farm
have been accused of massive poaching on Lake Chivero and Lake
Porta Farm squatter camp was created in 1991 when government
demolished a squatter camp in Mbare ahead of Queen Elizabeth's visit to the
Over the past four years several illegal settlements have
sprouted in the peri-urban areas. The settlements which came up as a result
of farm invasions include Hopley Estates along Highfield-Chitungwiza road,
Chenjerai Hunzvi Housing Scheme along Seke Road and White Cliff along
Tsvangirai slams Posa Staff Writer MOVEMENT for
Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai has said the Public Order
and Security Act (Posa) drastically infringes on the party's political
Tsvangirai said the repressive legislation was interfering with
the MDC's freedoms of expression, assembly and association. He said
public demonstrations and protests were effectively illegal under
"The majority of meetings are either declared illegal or are
otherwise disrupted," Tsvangirai said. "We wanted to have a meeting in Bikita
West and East on (last) Friday and Saturday respectively but we were told
late on Friday that the officer handling our application was not available.
We had to cancel the meetings at the last minute."
Writing in his
weekly message, Tsvangirai said he had to rush through his meeting at Masasa
Business Centre in Buhera South on Wednesday last week after police limited
the time for his party to gather.
"Our protests and indications that
this was not a rally but a private consultative meeting with district
structures went unheeded," Tsvangirai said.
"Posa and the Access
to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) are the two main
restrictive laws, specially promulgated with the MDC in mind. The idea is to
disturb our political activities altogether, leaving millions of Zimbabweans
without a political choice."
Tsvangirai said on Tuesday last week he
was supposed to meet party officials in Hwedza but police refused to sanction
the meeting, saying Education minister Aeneas Chigwedere, who is MP for the
area, needed the same venue for meetings the whole week.
change the venue requires a fresh application to the same police station,
submitted four working days in advance," Tsvangirai said. "We have had to
postpone the meeting."
Tsvangirai said in the run-up to the
presidential election in 2002 police cancelled nearly 100 MDC applications to
"I only managed to address eight campaign rallies
because of these legal
restrictions," Tsvangirai said. "For us to have a
free and fair election there is need for a profound rethink on the political
restrictions imposed by Posa and Aippa, otherwise we are wasting time."
Government yet to adopt judicial code of conduct Gift
Phiri GOVERNMENT is yet to adopt a code of conduct for the judiciary almost
two years after making assurances to visiting experts from the
African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) that a standard code
was on the way.
Chief Justice Godfrey Chidyausiku told visiting ACHPR
commissioners that he was conscious of the need to rebuild public trust. In
this respect he advised that a code of conduct for the judiciary was under
The commissioners had noted that the judiciary was
"The mission was struck by the observation
that the judiciary had been
tainted and.bears the distrust that comes
from the prevailing political conditions," their report said. "It appears
that their conditions of service do not protect them from political pressure;
appointments to the bench could be done in such a way that they could be
insulated from the stigma of political patronage," the report
Chidyausiku this week declined to shed light on when the code
of conduct would come into force. "I do not talk to the press," Chidyausiku
said. "You should communicate through the ministry or through the registrar's
High Court registrar Charles Nyatanga said the permanent
secretary in the Ministry of Justice was drafting the code. But he professed
ignorance as to when the process would be
Constitutional law expert Lovemore Madhuku said the Code
of Judicial Conduct was intended to set ethical standards for
"The Code of Judicial Conduct is not intended as an
exhaustive guide for the conduct of judges," Madhuku said. "They should also
be governed in their judicial and personal conduct by general ethical
standards. The code is intended, however, to state basic standards which
should govern the conduct of all judges and to provide guidelines to assist
judges in establishing and maintaining high standards of judicial and
The code of judicial conduct usually comprises
five broad statements called canons. The first canon is that a judge shall
uphold the integrity and independence of the judiciary. A judge should avoid
impropriety and the appearance of impropriety in all the judge's activities.
The third canon is that a judge shall perform the duties of judicial office
impartially and diligently. A judge shall so conduct the judge's
extra-judicial activities as to minimise the risk of conflict with judicial
The last canon is that a judge refrain from political
activity inappropriate to
the judge's judicial
Madhuku said the country had seen the promulgation of bad
trample on citizens' rights, the undermining of the judiciary
characterised by the loading of the bench with ruling-party cronies, and the
virtual collapse of the rule of law.
"All these have seriously
compromised the independence of the judiciary and undermined the protection
of citizens by law," said Madhuku.
"We have seen judges getting farms
as bribes from government. The code of judicial conduct if adopted would put
a stop to all this."
Madhuku said the independence of the judiciary
was the cornerstone of all laws.
"The capacity to investigate
violations and prosecute in a fair, effective, and competent manner by
relevant judicial, administrative, or legislative authorities is key to the
implementation of laws. However, the Zimbabwe government has failed to
provide for this," said Madhuku.
Police empty-handed after raid Gift Phiri IN what
is seen as an intensification of the siege mentality currently gripping
government, police from Harare's Law and Order section this week raided
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai's
Strathaven home searching for weapons.
The squad, led by one Garnett
Sikovha, alleged that Tsvangirai was keeping an arsenal of weapons including
grenades and tear smoke canisters in his house. At the end of the search,
nothing was found.
Meanwhile, police in Bulawayo this week arrested
activist Jenni Williams after raiding the Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza)
offices saying they were looking for explosives and weapons. Police managed
to find 200 whistles and scarves. Williams was taken in for questioning on
Monday and released on Wednesday after being interrogated about the source of
Tsvangirai said he was surprised that he was being
targeted for investigation when he was a victim of political violence.
"Police seem to be targeting me in order to frustrate my political work,"
The search on Saturday and Sunday stems from the
attack on Tsvangirai during a meeting with the MDC provincial council in
Mvurwi, 100km north east of Harare, last month. Tsvangirai, who was a victim
of the attack, is now being accused of having caused the trouble and of
firing teargas in the melée that resulted from the disruption of the
The MDC leader alleges that Zanu PF functionaries in six
vehicles carried out the attack and it took place at the end of a
police-approved meeting in the farming town of Mvurwi.
officers who searched Tsvangirai's home on Sunday took slightly over
45 minutes to go through the entire four-bedroomed home of the MDC
leader.Also searched was Tsvangirai's two-roomed office, his staff quarters
and other outbuildings. Tsvangirai said the officers did not produce a search
Two weeks ago, four other officers, led by one Dhowa who
once served as part of the UN peacekeeping force in Kosovo and had to be
withdrawn after rights groups protested, visited Tsvangirai at his home
saying they were investigating the Mvurwi incident. They questioned him and
later his security guards on the origins of the teargas cannisters which were
thrown at MDC supporters at the Mvurwi meeting. One of the guards was taken
to Harare Police Station for further questioning.
guard's home in Rugare, Harare, was later searched and nothing was
found.Tsvangirai said his staff do not carry any firearms, grenades
or teargas cannisters.
"On the day in question, our convoy was
thoroughly searched at a police checkpoint outside Mvurwi before we entered
the town," said Tsvangirai.
Gono fails to impress MDC/IMF Gift Phiri ZIMBABWE'S
opposition Movement for Democratic Change and the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) have said Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono's economic reforms fall far
short of what is needed to turn around the economy.
MDC secretary for
economic affairs, Tendai Biti, said a cursory analysis of Gono's monetary
policy statement exposed an extremely gloomy picture of what was going on in
"The governor has made his main platform the reduction
of inflation," Biti said. "In this, the official annual figures show a large
degree of improvement from 622,8% in January to 394,6% in June. However, this
decline still implies prices in June 2004 being five times prices in June
2003, and most consumers feel that even these startling increases in the
official CSO (Central Statistical Office) basket of goods do not reflect the
actual price increases they have had to face in their day-to-day
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) board last week
expressed "grave concern over the continued and sharp decline in economic and
social conditions", noting that GDP had fallen 30% over the past five years
and will decline a further 4-5% this year. The IMF noted that although
inflation had slowed dramatically from 622% in January to 395%, "unemployment
is very high and increasing, social indicators, which were once among the
best in Africa, have worsened, and the widespread HIV/Aids pandemic remains
"Severe food shortages have necessitated
massive food imports and donor assistance," which the IMF board blames on
"inappropriate macro-economic policies and structural changes".
particular, it says, "the disorderly implementation of the land
reform programme has contributed to a sharp reduction in agricultural
production. Concerns about governance and human rights, and the continued
lack of clarity about property rights have severely damaged confidence,
discouraged investment and promoted capital flight and
The IMF said there would be no international support for
theZimbabwe government until far-reaching economic and policy reforms were
put in place.
Analysts say Gono is tinkering at the edges of the
problem and even his well-meant reforms are starting to unravel.
Month-on-month inflation, which slowed to 4,8% in April, shot up to 9,2% in
June. And although Gono was likely to reach his year-on-year inflation target
of 200% by December, the signs are that inflation will rise again in the
first half of next year.
"Looking at the Reserve Bank's figures for
reserve money, which is an indicator of underlying inflationary pressures,
the latest figures for May 2004 show a 900% increase over May 2003," Biti
said. "A resurgence in inflation is certainly in prospect."
economic adviser Eddie Cross said the RBZ last month only managed to meet a
paltry 31% of foreign-exchange demand at its twice-weekly auctions. The
auction rate has been raised marginally from $5 350 to $5 600 against the US
dollar and Gono has remained adamant that he will not devalue
despite distress calls from exporters. Exporters are warning that they
cannot continue without further devaluation or new export incentives.
Bankers expect Gono to announce devaluation - to at least $8 000 against
the greenback - within the next few weeks. Cross said money supply figures
and especially the recent surge in lending to troubled banks would unleash
a huge inflationary surge next year.
"At the end of May loans to
banks were $2,8 trillion - or more than 12% of GDP - while money supply was
expanding at about 450%," Cross said. "On the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange share
prices have more than doubled in little more than six weeks as investors have
concluded that the RBZ is not going to allow interest rates to rise.
Investors are shunning money market investments that yield well below
inflation and are piling into the stock market, just as they did during the
hyperinflationary boom a year ago."
Analysts argue that Gono dare not
raise interest rates because troubled banks are at risk while the cost of
servicing the government's domestic debt, currently $1,8 trillion or 8% of
GDP, would bust the budget.
The UN Industrial Development
Organisation's Industrial Deve-lopment Report for 2004, published this month,
paints a grim picture of how much Zimbabwe has deindustrialised in recent
years, slipping 20 places down its compe-titive industrial performance
The UN Development Program-me's Human Development Report shows
that Zimbabwe has slipped down that league table, too, so that its human
development index is lower now than in the mid-1970s. Above all, the African
Union's damning report on the flawed 2002 presidential election and the
country's atrocious human rights record sustain the IMF's assessment that
Gono's reforms fall far short of what is needed to turn the country around.
Uncertainty grips CFU Augustine Mukaro UNCERTAINTY
continues to grip the agricultural sector as government lists more commercial
farms for compulsory acquisition.
Speaking at the 61st Commercial Farmers
Union (CFU) annual congress this week, CFU president Doug Taylor-Freeme said
continued listings had created a climate of uncertainty about whether the few
remaining white farmers should plant crops they may not be able to harvest
because of Section 8 orders.
"There are continued listings for
acquisition every week, be they Section 5s, 8s or 7s," Taylor-Freeme said.
"These listings have a huge negative influence on the agricultural industry.
In certain districts of certain provinces, there are those that say that
ethnic cleansing of white commercial farmers is taking place," he
He said every farmer was in danger of receiving a Section 8
acquisition order anytime. "It is said that certain officials are offered
bonuses for every white farmer evicted off their farm," the CFU chief
"This renders any attempt at continued production unwise, even
for those who still have access to land. An example of this was in April when
there were signals of encouragement to maximise planting of winter cereals.
Many farmers made a commitment to plant. Unfortunately, as I speak,
these farmers, despite the crop being in the ground, are being harassed
and bullied to vacate their farms by various opportunists and authorities
such as what is happening in Karoi. This does not bode well for the
summer plantings," Taylor-Freeme said.
He said despite farmers
showing goodwill by offering land or sub-dividing to keep their core business
operating, "there are still thugs who don't understand the business of
agriculture and are shutting them down, resulting in large numbers of
businesses lying idle, no longer contributing to the fragile economy", he
He said the new amendments to the Land Acquisition Act had
removed all farming security, security of investment and much of the personal
security that remained to the few farmers who had been allowed to carry
Chigwedere orders private schools to return
donations Augustine Mukaro EDUCATION minister Aeneas Chigwedere has
directed all schools that have requested parents to make donations to
reimburse them or credit the amounts to next term's fees. He said such
donations, raised to keep the schools afloat, were illegal.
of private schools had asked parents to donate money following government's
slashing of their fees.
A letter addressed to Arundel School demands
that the school should refund the parents their money or credit it to next
term's fees as it was a violation of the Education Act.
notion of donations which are compulsorily exacted, as in this case, is an
obvious illegality," the letter says.
"It should be noted that these
voluntary donations are not authorised by my ministry and are a clear
contravention of Section 21 (1) (a) and (b) of the Education Act.
Accordingly, all monies collected in this manner should be refunded to the
parents or credited to the next term's fees."
Arundel School had
created a Refundable Security Deposit and a Deficit Funds schemes through
which parents would donate extra funds to help the school keep
Through the funds parents were expected to pay extra fees of
up to $3,8 million.
The refundable security deposit had been
pegged at $3, 2 million, deficit fees per day pupil at $690 000 and deficit
fees for boarding at $760 000.
A similar letter has been sent to
Eaglesvale School which has sought voluntary liquidation following the
ministry's order that it can't raise any further funds.
Govt under pressure to send SOS Augustine
Mukaro GOVERNMENT has come under pressure to make a formal humanitarian
assistance appeal to the donor community as provincial governors discover
serious food deficits in their areas.
Highly placed sources said
governors from Masvingo and Matabeleland provinces last month wrote to
government asking it to authorise non-governmental organisations to resume
feeding programmes to avert mass starvation.
Masvingo, Matabeleland North, Matabeleland South and Bulawayo, which are
prone to droughts, are understood to have told Public Service, Labour and
Social Welfare minister Paul Mangwana that people in their provinces were
starving and needed food urgently.
Under government's new policy on
food aid, donor agencies can only operate in specific areas upon receiving
authorisation letters from the Social Welfare ministry. The ministry acts on
recommendations from provincial governors and is responsible for sourcing
food to be distributed in the needy areas.
said Mangwana has not yet responded to the governors' requests despite
mounting starvation in rural and urban areas.
"The governors cited
massive deficits in their appeals," one official said.
"The deficits come
to light following findings of a vulnerability assessment team that went
around the country to audit the current season's production."
vulnerability assessment team, which comprised non-governmental organisations
and government representatives, has indicated that the country did not
harvest enough crops to feed its population. An estimated between 800 000 and
900 000 tonnes of maize are expected this year.
claiming that there would be a bumper-harvest of around 2,4 million tonnes of
maize this year.
Masvingo governor Josaya Hungwe denied forwarding
any requests to the minister insisting that his province had enough
"I have not approached the minister requesting for food,"
"We have enough food for the year."
denial is a u-turn from his earlier position that Masvingo needed food
handouts following a poor harvest caused by receiving the wrong seed from
While the government claimed that the country
would get a bumper harvest, Unted Nations assessment reports indicate that
2,3 million Zimbabweans will need food assistance this year.
Msipa quits board over gay spat Ndamu
Sandu MIDLANDS provincial governor Cephas Msipa has quit as an honorary
trustee of the Zimbabwe International Book Fair (ZIBF) to escape a deepening
row over the exhibition by gays at the fair.
Msipa resigned on Monday
to protest ZIBF's decision to allow the gay rights organisation, Gays and
Lesbians of Zimbabwe (Galz), to exhibit at the annual show.
executive director Samuel Matsangaise confirmed that Msipa had resigned,
citing the gays' presence at the fair.
"Governor Msipa resigned on
Monday. He was an honorary trustee of ZIBF," Matsangaise said. "He said his
resignation was against the decision to let Galz exhibit at the book
Msipa's resignation means ZIBF now has seven honorary trustees
from across the world. George Kahari is the only remaining Zimbabwean on the
board of trustees.
The ZIBF board has 13 members chaired by
Professor Rukudzo Murapa of Africa University in Mutare.
confrontation has been looming between government and ZIBF over
Galz's participation at the fair. Clashes broke out on Monday at the fair
between Galz officials and a group apparently responding to President
Robert Mugabe's homophobia.
Members of Galz were reportedly forced
to flee after a mob pounced on them at the exhibition venue. Galz director
Keith Goddard said it was regrettable that homophobic elements were illegally
using violence to suppress other people's freedoms of assembly, association
Mugabe has personally opposed gays' exhibition at the
He is on record as saying gays and lesbians are worse than
"dogs and pigs" and a "moral outrage".
Mugabe's hatred for gays
seemed to have been worsened by his clashes with British gay rights activist
Peter Tatchell of Outrage! who tried to arrest him on two occasions in London
and Brussels a few years ago for alleged human rights abuses.
were banned by government in 1995 from participating at the fair until they
got a Supreme Court order in 1996 allowing them to take part. But government
has remained consistently opposed to their attendance.
Between 1997 and
2002, Galz participated at the book fair as part of the human rights stand.
Last year the group exhibited on its own amid hostile rhetoric from officials
and members of the public.
Official double standards were exposed
during the sensational sodomy trial of the country's first post-Independence
president, Canaan Banana, in 1998.
Testimonies from victims,
including the late Jefta Dube, during the 17-day trial revealed that the
ex-president sexually abused male subordinates who guarded him at State
Banana was subsequently convicted and jailed for a
Goddard said although Banana's trial was more about abuse than
the pursuit of sexual freedom, "it went a long way to convince people that
being gay is not a white-imported thing".
Train accident exposes RMS Godfrey
Marawanyika TRANSPORT and Communications permanent secretary Karikoga Kaseke
has slammed Road Motor Services (RMS) personnel for allowing services at the
parastatal to deteriorate.
Addressing journalists after Wednesday's
train accident in Harare, Kaseke said the service at RMS had degenerated into
Kaseke was furious that a statement on the accident
could not be produced on time, as the computers at the parastatal were not
working. RMS is a wholly owned government road haulage
After a tour of the accident scene at the central station
senior government officials went to the RMS offices which are in the railway
yard along Seke Road. Transport minister Christopher Mushowe was supposed to
issue a statement on the accident from the RMS offices but he was
"Nothing works here. Computers don't work, people don't
work, trains are involved in accidents," Kaseke said. "They are saying the
printer is not connected to the computer and the two are not interlinked,
which means the statement cannot be printed. So let me make a hand-written
Journalists and cabinet ministers waited for more than an hour
before they could get the press release on the cause of the
The delay prompted Local Government minister Ignatius
Chombo to make a long-hand draft. Ministers who witnessed the confusion
included Mushowe, his deputy Andrew Langa, and Chombo's deputy Chief Fortune
Kaseke tried to write his own statement before Chombo
However, Chombo was unable to complete it because the pen he
was using was not working properly.
After Mushowe started reading
Chombo's draft, RMS area manager Stanley Murenje produced a typed
Meanwhile, MDC secretary for Transport Silas Mangono said
the accident proved that trains in Zimbabwe had become a "death trap".
MDC wary of infiltration Loughty Dube THE
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says Zanu PF is trying to
infiltrate it by planting intelligence agents and dubious
democracy organisations in its structures ahead of the 2005 parliamentary
"The CIO were allocated a large amount of money in the last
budget and we are aware that the bulk of those funds are to be paid to
infiltrators who will be used to monitor and destroy organisations like the
MDC and others perceived by Zanu PF to be a threat to them," David Coltart,
the MDC secretary for legal affairs, told the Zimbabwe Independent this
He said the bulk of the $62 billion allocated to the CIO in
this year's budget would be used to infiltrate Zanu PF's
"We are aware that a lot of organisations have already
been infiltrated by state security agents and Zanu PF supporters and we are
already aware of such infiltrators," he said.
come in the wake of attempts by a group of purported MDC supporters calling
themselves MDC Supporters for Democracy (MSD), led by Kurauone Chihwayi, that
has in the past made a number of allegations against the MDC
The MSD gained the spotlight in the state media after it
called for the resignation of the MDC president and chairman, Morgan
Tsvangirai and Isaac Matongo respectively, before the 2005
"Anyone calling on Morgan Tsvangirai to step down is
working against the interests of democracy because Tsvangirai has contributed
immensely towards democracy in this country," Coltart said.
MSD has endeared itself with the public media that gleefully beam
all statements it makes purportedly on behalf of MDC
"The people that are causing all that commotion are
definitely not true members of the party but infiltrators paid by Zanu PF to
destabilise the MDC and other pressure groups," Coltart
Coltart said the MDC was aware that $62 billion was allocated
to the CIO this year to enable it to infiltrate organisations deemed to be a
threat to Zanu PF ahead of the parliamentary election in March next
He said the party was aware that Zanu PF would start using the
defection strategy to portray the MDC as a collapsing party.
are aware of all those tactics and we are working on countering them because
we know that Zanu PF will intensify its dirty tactics as the election date
nears," Coltart said.
Witness gives 'mercenary' case new twist Dumisani
Muleya THE court testimony of a key state witness in the trial of 70
suspected mercenaries last week supports the accused's plea that they were
not involved in the alleged Equatorial Guinea coup plot, defence lawyer
Jonathan Samkange has said.
Samkange said the evidence given by
Zimbabwe Defence Industries (ZDI) group marketing manager, Goliath Hope
Mutize, helped his case. He said one of the accused, Simon Mann, had
consistently said the men were going to guard mines in the Democratic
Republic of Congo and not to overthrow the Equatorial Guinea leader, Teodoro
Obiang, as alleged.
"We did not cross-examine the state witness
because his evidence was like that of a defence witness," Samkange said.
"There is no evidence to prove the allegations against the
Mutize, an Air Force of Zimbabwe group captain presently
attached to ZDI, was closely involved in the sale of weapons by the state
arms firm to Mann and Nick du Toit, who is now detained in Equatorial Guinea
with 14 others accused of the same crime.
In his testimony Mutize
said the arms deal started after he was briefed by ZDI general manager
Colonel Tshinga Dube on February 10 that he should deal with Mann and Du
Mutize said Mann told him he wanted arms to protect a mine near
the town of Isiro in the DRC, while Du Toit said he wanted to supply DRC
rebels. The two had a certificate to buy arms which belonged to a Virgin
Islands-registered firm, Military Technical Services, issued by Armaments
Corporation of South Africa Ltd on December 12, 2002.
he gave Mann and Du Toit quotations at Cresta Lodge in Harare where they were
staying. The two promised to make a down payment of US$90 000 the following
Someone named James Kershaw flew into Harare aboard a South
African Airways flight, SA 024, on February 11 to make the down payment of
Mutize said Mann and Du Toit came back to Zimbabwe on
February 18 in a bid to collect the arms but they failed after their plane
developed a fault.
He said they then left on February 19. Before that
Mann had paid the balance of US$90 800 to clear the total of US$180 800 for
Mann came back on March 6 with two colleagues to try to collect
the arms. A plane to carry the arms was to arrive the following day. Mutize
said on March 7 he told Mann and his colleagues to remain at Cresta Lodge
where they were to be collected by ZDI factory manager, Joseph Muchapondwa,
to link up with the plane at Manyame Airbase.
He said Muchapondwa
dropped them at Manyame as the plane arrived after refuelling at Harare
airport. Mutize said the suspects were then arrested while they were
inspecting the arms in a truck before they could be loaded on to the
He said he was also arrested although he was subsequently
released. But Mutize did not say whether or not the whole drama was a sting
operation. Samkange said the testimony was helpful to his case.
State rejects Chronicle 'evidence' Loughty Dube THE
Attorney-General's office has refused to prosecute two women for allegedly
violating foreign exchange regulations on the basis of pictures of them taken
by the Chronicle as they chatted with Reserve Bank governor Gideon
A state lawyer said the two women, who are vendors at a nearby flea
market, had no case to answer as there was no evidence of wrongdoing against
them. The two were arrested three days after pictures appeared in the
Chronicle newspaper of July 17 showing them in a conversation with Gono, who
was attempting to be incognito.
The RBZ governor had visited the
Bulawayo foreign currency black market along Fort Street, dubbed the "World
Bank", to assess the extent of the practice.
Gono was accompanied
by journalists from the Chronicle to see how the black market operated. He
strolled around the area and managed to convince some women to sell him
foreign currency. The women only abandoned the deal after being tipped off by
onlookers that they were being filmed and that their "client" was the RBZ
The women, Memory Mujuru and Nokuthula Marara, were
arrested four days later on July 21 by plainclothes police. They were
subsequently detained for five days at the Bulawayo police
The lawyer representing the women, Sindiso Mazibisa of Cheda
& Partners, said in a High Court application the arrest of his clients
was a violation of the country's constitution.
"The facts of the
case evince a clear abuse of power and arbitrary arrest and detention of
citizens of Zimbabwe. It is a brazen violation of the constitution of
Zimbabwe and my clients' detention is unlawful,"
Public prosecutor for Bulawayo, Mary Zimba-Dube,
refused to defend the case.
Mazibisa said if the women were deemed to
have contravened sections of the Foreign Currency Exchange Act, then Gono was
also liable for prosecution.
"It is common cause that the applicants'
arrest is based on photographs of people whom Gono spoke to during his visit
to Fort Street," the court papers said.
"It is also common cause
that there are no witnesses other than Dr Gono as to what was discussed
"No statements were taken from Dr Gono to date and in
any event it is not a crime to have been talked to by the governor of the
RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon
Gono last week painted a largely bright picture of the country's economic
situation when he presented his second monetary policy review.
positive outlook, which claimed there was a "turnaround" in the economy -
something widely disputed by analysts - was reinforced by acting Finance
minister Herbert Murerwa's mid-term fiscal policy review, also released last
Like Gono, Murerwa said: "the recent macro-economic measures by
government are beginning to bear fruit".
The evidence cited to support
this claim included the falling annual inflation rate, the almost balanced
budget in 2003, increased deliveries of gold, the purported success of the
land reform programme, and remittances in foreign exchange from Zimbabweans
Gono and Murerwa's statements further claimed the
utilisation of manufacturing capacity had risen from a range of 30% to 40% in
the second half of 2003 to between 60% and 70% by the end of June this
year.However, a cursory examination of the evidence to back the recovery
assertions shows that they are both shallow and dishonest.
instance, the decline in year-on-year inflation is not explained and thus can
be manipulated to arrive at a conclusion which is not only political but
While it is clearly a fact that inflation - the rate of
increase in prices - has decreased, this is largely due to direct
interference in the exchange rate. For the past three months, the exchange
rate has barely changed even though the consumer price index increased by
about 25% over the same period and the less current producer price index
almost certainly rose by a wider margin.
Analysts say the fixed
exchange rate could turn out to be a very high price to pay for the
decelerating inflation rate. They say increasing numbers of exporters are now
finding that they cannot recover their production costs, but Gono's response
has been that the producers' access to subsidised low-interest rate loan
funds should allow them to survive.
Analysts say Gono's productive sector
facility has left many companies deeply indebted so that they now rely
heavily on the value of the capital amount owing being inflated. If the real
value of the borrowings become more stable because of a much lower rate of
inflation, the borrowers would have diminishing prospects of repaying their
debts, analysts argue. The banks through which this concessionary lending of
statutory reserve money was sourced would therefore be placed at risk by
rising non-performing loans.
But Gono seemed to be single-minded in
promoting this arrangement.
"It is.pleasing to note that through a
combination of monetary austerity, fiscal discipline and focused selective
credit allocation to the productive sectors, the high inflation bubble has
been burst," he said.
Gono said in the past seven months he had brought
stability to the financial sector, which he said was the key driver of
inflation and speculation last year. He also said the facility had
resuscitated the crumbling manufacturing sector, thus saving thousands of
jobs that were on the line.
Increased foreign currency inflows and access
to concessional finance, he said, were also galvanising the economy to
recovery. Furthermore, he said, manufacturing plants that accessed
concessional financing had "markedly increased their capacity by between
60-70%", up from below 40% last year. A total of $1,7 trillion has been
poured into the productive sector under this facility. Gono also produced
numbers to justify claims that foreign currency inflows had increased
drastically. Foreign currency inflows into the country over the past six
months, according to Gono, have gone up by a massive 385% to US$778,6 million
compared to US$160,7 million achieved during the same period last
The state media and Zanu PF politicians have been quick to jump on
the alleged recovery bandwagon. Armed with threadbare statements from
Gono's monetary policy document, officials insisted the economy was
However, despite the purported "turnaround", Gono also said
the economy would shrink by 5% this year. This is probably where the real
"Overall GDP (gross domestic product), which shrunk by an
estimated minus 9% in 2003, is expected to decelerate by a further minus 5%
in 2004 largely reflecting lagged effects of structural rigidities
experienced over the 12 months to December last year," Gono
Economic growth, experts say, is measured by the amount of
investment, job creation, increased national output, improved exports and
food security. But all these indicators are negative at the
The GDP is expected to plunge as exports are still at their
lowest and unemployment continues to gallop on the back of more company
Economic analyst John Robertson said there was no economic
"turnaround" as claimed by Gono and Murerwa.
"There is no evidence
that the economy is recovering. I don't see it," Robertson said. "The economy
is still in trouble. The manufacturing sector has not recovered, and there is
no hope for the agricultural sector. Other sectors of the economy are still
depressed and are showing no signs of recovery."
An analyst with a
local financial institution who did not want to be named said there was
nothing to show there was an economic "turnaround" as yet.
the annual inflation that is going down, there is nothing else Gono can use
to justify his claims," the analyst said. "Unfortunately he is using
year-on-year inflation which is not an accurate reflection of the situation.
In any case, inflation itself is not the only barometer to measure economic
Analysts argue that the month-on-month inflation is a more
realistic way of measuring economic performance. Recent figures from the
Central Statistical Office show that month-on-month inflation for June rose
by 3,2 percentage points to 9,2%. This upward trend is expected to continue,
bolstered by recent hikes in prices of basic commodities and salary and wage
In the past four months prices of basic commodities have gone
up by between 12% and 25%, indicating that for ordinary people, things are
not getting any better.
There is still a perennial shortage of foreign
currency caused by the country's export capacity, which has been nose-diving
over the last five years. The demand for the foreign currency continues to
surpass the supply. More than a thousand bids have been rejected on the
foreign currency auctions floors. Zimbabwe Confederation of Trade Union
economist, Godfrey Kanyenze, said the economy would continue to bleed because
of the foreign currency shortages.
"Gono has not addressed the supply
side. This country is not exporting enough. How can the economy recover
without exporting?" said Kanyenze. "He has not come up with a concrete plan
to increase exports. Even though the dollar has stabilised, it is still
losing against major currencies."
The shortage of foreign currency and
the overbearing control of the central bank on the rate have forced companies
and individuals to revert to the black market. Zimbabweans in the diaspora
have gone back to the black market after being frustrated by the low exchange
rate on the auctions.
"We are still in a crisis. We still face major
challenges. It's too early for anyone in his right mind to say the economy is
back on track," Kanyenze said.
Agriculture, the mainstay of the
economy, is still to recover from the disastrous effects of government's
chaotic land reform. This year tobacco has so far grossed about US$107
million compared to US$600 million at its peak four years ago. Tobacco
production has decreased 72% over the past four years.
"THERE are parties that cannot campaign and they will always blame
the police. If people do not come to a rally the police will be blamed,"
Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri said this week at a ceremony to
honour officers returning from a UN mission in Kosovo.
He was quick to
remind us that the contribution of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP)
officers under United Nations assignments was a yardstick to measure the
What deception! ZRP spokesman Assistant
Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena last year tried to use Chihuri's appointment as
honorary vice-president of Interpol as a sign of international confidence in,
and an endorsement of, the conduct of the ZRP. But Chihuri was subsequently
obliged to step down and there were no words of comfort for him from the
Interpol's secretary-general Ro-nald Noble said he
regretted that Bvudzijena had interpreted the appointment as a sign of
support for the actions of the force.
"That statement was inaccurate,"
said Noble. "The fact that a ZRP spokesman attempted to use Interpol to fight
off political criticism has caused Interpol to be unfairly and unnecessarily
Now Chihuri would like to create the myth that his men have
been unfairly criticised by what he called "political malcontents
masquerading as journalists". Parallels can be drawn between Chihuri's
attempt to portray the force as being under siege and conspiracy theories
which Zanu PF politicians have been vending to justify repressive
Chihuri is a piece in that jigsaw. He declared in the media in
January 2001 that he was a Zanu PF supporter.
"Today I would like to
make it public that I support Zanu PF because it is the ruling party. If any
other party comes to power, I will resign and let those who support it take
over," he told the Sunday Mail.
In other words he admits to a partisan
stance. And it would be unreasonable to expect his subordinates to be
impartial in the fulfilment of their duties when their chief has made his
In a democracy the public would expect their police
commissioner to serve them with impartiality and professionalism. His salary
is after all paid by the public as a whole and not by one section of it. And
the Police Act makes clear the responsibilities of those who occupy the
But it is all too clear in recent years that the force has been
badly compromised and it needs urgent depoliticisation and retraining to
restore its credibility.
ZRP officers stand accused of torturing
suspects including lawyers, of using brute force to break up peaceful
demonstrations, of hounding civic leaders and using the law to prevent
opposition parties and civic groups from assembling.
application of the Public Order and Security Act (Posa) by the police in the
run-up to the presidential poll in 2002 pointed towards this trend. The
African Commission for Human and People's Rights team which visited Zimbabwe
in 2002 concluded that the police had been politicised. The team said no
effort should be spared to avoid further subornment of the force.
police should never be at the service of any political party but must at all
times seek to abide by the values of the constitution and enforce the law
without fear or favour," the commission's report clearly states.
opposition MDC has complained that, on the rare occasions permission to hold
rallies is given, the party is not given enough time to address
its supporters. The party sometimes has as little as an hour to address
Last weekend police cancelled MDC rallies in Bikita
and Wedza citing security. They also broke up a Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions meeting in Masvingo. Secretary-general Wellington Chibebe said he was
briefing labour leaders on the outcome of a recent International Labour
Organisation meeting he attended. Is the High Court order exempting trade
union meetings from the provisions of Posa not still in force?
the weekend police also searched the home of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai for
dangerous weapons allegedly used in skirmishes which occurred in Mvurwi early
last month. The MDC this week said prior to Tsvangirai's entourage entering
Mvurwi, police searched all the vehicles in the convoy for weapons but found
none. At Tsvangirai's house over the weekend they found no weapons
Bvudzijena was quoted in the media on Monday as saying shots
fired during the Mvurwi clashes came from the MDC side. He said MDC violence
would not be tolerated. Evidence from eyewitnesses says otherwise.
are not going to tolerate any form of political violence and we are going to
recover the firearms," he said.
This would be welcome news if police
arrested suspects regardless of political affiliation and without rushing to
the media to make political statements. When United Nations security officers
warned of insecurity and crime in parts of the country they were treated to a
lengthy statement that was astonishing for its partisan nature. The same can
be said of a statement relating to a seriously injured farmer trying to
defend himself in Odzi.
The likes of Kainos Mwale who wreaked havoc in
Manicaland two years ago are still walking free despite incriminating
evidence against them.
The AU commission made recommendations regarding
the CID's Law and Order section and the CIO that have been studiously
All talk about electoral reforms is useless if the police
continue to apply Posa against the opposition during an election campaign.
The public are thereby denied access to information and are unable to make an
Never has the country more needed a professional
police force to ensure Zimbabweans enjoy the rights to which they are
entitled. And never has the prospect of getting such a force seemed more
DEVELOPED, deregulated and free economies operate a single,
open currency market that is conducted wholly through the banking system.
Almost entirely, exchange rates are determined by market forces, the only
exception being occasional interventions by the central bank, usually
motivated to maintain exchange rate stability.
These interventions are
generally limited to the central bank either selling foreign currency into
the market, or purchasing foreign currency within the market, or movement of
its base lending interest rate to such extent as will, as desired by the
central bank, attract foreign currency inflows or stimulate outflows, thereby
influencing the market's determination of exchange rates.In contrast,
Zimbabwe operates four different foreign currency markets, only two of which
are wholly lawful.
The first is a Reserve Bank (RBZ) controlled market
where exporters are obliged to sell between 15 and 25% of all export proceeds
as are not received by way of prepayments, or within 30 days of export, to
the RBZ at a grossly artificial and ludicrously low exchange rate of
US$1:$824. The extent of the mandatory sale to the RBZ is driven by the
period of time that has elapsed from date of export to date of receipt of
payment and acquittal of the relevant export authorisation (Form CD1). The
foreign currency thus received by the RBZ is sold by it to government and to
parastatals at the same rate. Effectively, therefore, this market is naught
but a vehicle whereby exporters are victimised, being forced to subsidise the
state by making foreign currency available at a rate markedly below a
realistic exchange rate. To all intents and purposes, exporters are subjected
to a highly discriminatory, and economically destructive tax.
second foreign currency market is that operated by the RBZ by way of
a "controlled" auction. Those foreign currency inflows that not
forcibly directed into the first mentioned market to serve the needs of the
State, and as exceed amounts which recipients are lawfully entitled to retain
as foreign currency, mandatorily must be sold on the RBZ's foreign
currency auctions. The seller has no option but to sell, and cannot even
specify a reserve price below which the foreign exchange may not be sold, and
is obliged to accept a Zimbabwean currency payment at the weighted
average auction rate. Purchasers of the currency are also subjected to
extensive controls, which include that they are barred from bidding for
currency unless in receipt of prior RBZ authorisation, determined according
to the intended usage of the foreign currency. The controls further result in
bid rejections in the event that the purchaser's bid exceeds a level
determined, but not pre-notified, by the RBZ, or if the intended usage of the
foreign exchange, although pre-authorised, does not meet the RBZ's
decided priorities for a particular auction. In addition, of course, bids
that are too low are also rejected.
That which is known as the
parallel market is the third of Zimbabwe's foreign currency markets. The
authorities deem trading in that market to be unlawful, and have been
descending with draconian force upon many who traded within that market.
Essentially, the parallel market comprised the sale by possessors of foreign
currency to others who were in desperate need for that scarce commodity in
order to pay for imports, service loans, and fund legitimate business
expenses such as commissions to agents in export markets. To a very
pronounced extent, the transactions were initiated by, or effected through,
registered banks. They being authorised dealers of the RBZ, there was a
widely held perception that the transactions were wholly lawful, for
authorised dealers were viewed as being duly appointed agents of the RBZ.
That perception was recurrently reinforced by the fact that it was widely
believed that the government was a very major, if not the greatest, trader in
the parallel market, sourcing much of the foreign currency required by it and
its parastatals, including Noczim, Zesa and the Grain Marketing
Moreover, there were ready and frequent references to the parallel
market in parliamentary debates and ministerial statements. But the
authorities suddenly decided, only eight months ago, to descend
heavy-handedly upon private sector enterprises and individuals who had been
engaged in parallel market operations, and subject them to prosecution. In
contradiction, banks that had been reprimanded by the RBZ, had fines imposed
upon them and licences suspended, were "forgiven", the fines refunded and
licences reinstated. Clearly, double standards of justice were applied and
they have been great contributors to the near demise of business confidence
and the exodus of many highly skilled and greatly needed executives.
Notwithstanding the authoritarian descent upon the parallel market, there are
many indications that it still exists, even if to a lesser extent. One of
such indications is the ready availability of many non-essential and
luxury imported goods of a nature as does not qualify for currency from the
foreign currency auctions.
There is little doubt that the survival of
some businesses is contingent upon continuing availability of foreign
exchange through the parallel market, albeit if accessing thereof is now far
more surreptitious and underground.
On the other hand, the directing
of foreign currency through the parallel market has two very major negative
consequences. In the first instance, such usage of the foreign exchange is to
the prejudice of importation of many critically essential imports upon which
many enterprises, if not the economy as a whole, are dependant.Secondly, the
premiums payable within the parallel market are inevitably fuellants of
inflation.Finally, Zimbabwe has a virile and thriving black
Most of the foreign currency traded in that market emanates from
tourists and other visitors to Zimbabwe, expatriates in the employ of foreign
NGOs and like bodies, from Zimbabweans abroad, and from resources
usually unlawfully accumulated outside of Zimbabwe by businesses in and
residents of Zimbabwe.
The methods of such accumulation are diverse,
including transfer pricing of imports and exports, and externalisation of
unutilised travel allowances.In other instances, the funds have been acquired
lawfully by way ofinheritances, gifts, assets acquired when non-resident of
Zimbabwe or for services rendered externally of Zimbabwe.
contradiction to parallel market trading, which has generally been effected
through interbank transfers and like transactions, the black market dealings
are almost entirely transacted by exchanges of bank notes, and the dealings
are negotiated and concluded in back streets of Bulawayo and Harare, at bus
terminii and in areas heavily patronised by tourists, cross-border traders
and other visitors to Zimbabwe.
The worst characteristic of the black
market is that most of the monies traded exit Zimbabwe. Buyers resort to the
black market in order to externalise their assets, and in order to fund
purposes which do not qualify under the foreign currency auctions, such as
holiday travel. Thus, the Zimbabwean market, which is desperately starved for
essential foreign exchange, is further emaciated by the operations of the
Admittedly, there is some economic benefit flowing from the
market in that not only do the black marketeers derive a livelihood, but in
addition, some of the funds are used for informal sector operations. However,
these economic benefits are outweighed by not only inflationary
repercussions, but also the prejudices of the diversion of the foreign
exchange from higher priority needs, and by diminished revenue flows to the
Fiscus.What is incomprehensible is that the authorities are now so
vigilantlypursuing those who transacted in the parallel market, believing
from theexamples set by the State that they were operating within the law,
and doing so in order to keep their businesses operational, their employees
employed, and the wheels of commerce and industry turning. At the same time,
and with extremely rare exceptions, they do nothing to contain the black
market but allow its operators to trade almost without hindrance.
amnesty in respect of past parallel market trading would not only be just and
equitable, and is long overdue, concurrently with determined measures to curb
the black market. The medium term objective must be the restoration of a
single, decontrolled currency market, but in the meanwhile too many markets
exist and, as a first step, the US$1: $824 exchange rate and the black
markets must be eliminated.
800 auditors flee Zimbabwe Conrad Dube ABOUT 800
auditors have emigrated in the past year for various reasons as the
profession suffers a severe brain drain, the incoming president of
the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Zimbabwe (ICAZ), Eric Bloch, has
"The emigration of the skilled workforce in the accounting
profession is appalling and a major constraint upon the economy. There is
need to intensify training and enhance professional education," said
"About 60% of the 1 400 members of ICAZ have left the counry
for various reasons. The profession has lost irreparable skills to the brain
drain due to the unfavourable operating environment," Bloch
The economist said the brain drain was so serious that filling
the gap in the foreseeable future would be difficult as only about 50 members
qualify to join the profession each year.
ICAZ is currently
training 1 100 students.
"We hope to increase the number of
qualifying auditors each year to about a 100 but not at the expense of
standards as set out in the statutes," he said.
problems facing the profession included negative perception, which has led to
scepticism on auditors, especially after the collapse of WorldCom and Enron
and the turbulence that rocked the local financial sector after the monetary
policy announcement on December 18 last year.
The collapse of Enron, and
the conviction of its former auditor Arthur Andersen for obstruction of
justice, allegations of massive fraud at global telecom giant WorldCom and
the turmoil that hit the local financial sector have exacerbated the
scepticism towards auditors, according to Bloch.
Out of the 41 local
banking institutions, five are under curatorship, two under liquidation and
three under the Troubled Bank Fund.
But Bloch said inadequacies of
"one or two accounting professionals
should not be taken as the character
of the whole profession".
Bloch emphasised the need for chartered
accountants to interact with various arms of government more
"There is need to continue to work with the Reserve Bank
of Zimbabwe, the ZimbabweInvestment Centre, par-liament and variousgovernment
ministriesand bodies in order to contribute to economic recovery and to
greater compliance by all economic sectors with principles of good
governance," Bloch said.
Bloch was speaking at an event marking his
appointment as new ICAZ president.
THE Sunday Mail's Under the Surface columnist is miffed that the
Nigerian state of Kwara is giving expelled Zimbabwean commercial farmers land
to continue to do what they do best - produce food. He says this proves
that the Nigerians cannot be trusted. He is sceptical that Nigerian
president Olusegun Obasanjo ever meant well when he tried to mediate in the
political stalemate between Zanu PF and the opposition MDC.
you see President Obasanjo appearing as if he wants to mediate in solving any
problem, then know that he is up to something bigger than help solve your
problems," complains Under the Surface.
He doesn't say what is wrong with
Nigerians appreciating talent when they see it. The Nigerian leader has not
hidden the great esteem in which he holds Zimbabwe's cast-away white farmers.
We still remember earlier this year when he said he did not want Zimbabwe's
former farmers to leave the continent because that would be a great loss to
Africa. This is unlike President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party who
would rather cut their nose to spite their face. So what would Under the
Surface have Nigeria do? Turn down offers from Zimbabwe's farmers in the name
of spurious solidarity?
Fortunately Obasanjo knows which side his bread
is buttered on.
Is there something they put in their reporters'
tea at the Sunday Mail that produces the lickspittle journalism that is the
chief characteristic of that ministerial propaganda mouthpiece?
have weekly the conspiracy theories of its political editor which appear to
have been inspired by his swollen-headed mentor and are therefore
given prominence despite being far-fetched, improbable, and mostly downright
daft! The same emasculated individual would also seem to be using the
paper's Under the Surface column to settle a few scores with journalists in
the independent press, not to mention foreign diplomats.
haven't managed to work out the point about Sir Brian Donnelly being an MI6
agent in uniform. Why would he want to be in uniform if he was an MI6 agent?
Something seems to have got lost in the translation here!
vigorously for the Sunday Mail's Bootlicker of the Year ward - in a busy
field - is young Robert Mukondiwa who last weekend supplied a loving paean of
praise to the author of the Back2Black album.
"I felt that after
listening to the grooves and words in the songs, exploring the intercourse of
sound on the album I had grown a shade darker after the experience - I had
truly and in practical essence gone Back2Black," he gushingly
Nothing that is black is ever good, Mukondiwa bemoaned. "Even in
snooker and pool, where the highest scoring ball is black and is the most
coveted, the catch is the same. The black ball has to be sunk last after all
other lighter-shaded balls and it is given its painful whack by - you guessed
it, the WHITE ball!"
Some therapy is obviously needed
Nathaniel Manheru offered a back-handed welcome to the new
British ambassador, Roderick Pullen, in his weekly column last week. In fact
he invented an entire history for himself so he could posture as the
great nationalist redeemer.
"I am sure Sir Donnelly (sic) would have
told you a thing or two about me, Nathaniel, the first son of old
Indeed, he would probably have told his successor what an old
fraud you are. Don't we recall Pikirayi Deketeke telling a judge last year
that he was Manheru? So are all the ancestors listed last Saturday his or
And they would have had difficulty fighting for the "great Queen"
in Burma when she had been dead 40 years!
Let's hope Dr Pullen turns
out to be as outspoken as his counterpart in Kenya, Edward Clay, who,
accusing the Kenyan government of arrogance, greed and corruption, told an
audience of businessmen recently that ministers "could hardly expect us not
to care when their gluttony causes them to vomit all over our
The East African Standard, one of the papers our government has
been trying to court, had this to say of Clay's remarks: "Below the
indelicate vomit imagery, beneath the usual British scepticism about us, Mr
Clay was speaking the ugly truth about the state of our country and its
And in comments that will resonate in this country, Anglican
Archbishop Benjamin Nzimbi said if the Kenya government's commitment to
fight corruption "is to carry any credibility and conviction, then it must
act firmly against the culprits in its ranks in accordance with its pledge
that there will be no sacred cows".
We were intrigued by
Jonathan Moyo's remarks that next year's general election would be aimed at
consolidating Zanu PF's gains made in 2000. Does he mean the "gains" that saw
his party lose 57 seats? Or the "gains" that have seen the country's economy
contract by 30% since?
There appears to be some confusion
"Time has come for us to deal with the puppet once and for all,"
Moyo declared to supporters at Nyahondo Primary School. The MDC had fallen
into Blair's toilet and what was left was to flush them down, he said using
the scatological metaphors now common in the ruling party.
columnist Caesar Zvayi had a better idea. "Every Zimbabwean must pledge his
ballot to kill the sellouts in our midst at the polls," he said.
the second threat made against opposition voters by this state columnist and
it is remarkable that none of our church leaders or civic spokesmen think it
is noteworthy! Why are Densen Mafinyane and Trevor Manhanga so quiet about
intimidation of this sort?
If anybody was in doubt about the
depth of the skills drain from the University of Zimbabwe, the Sunday Mail
laid everything bare this week. Out of an optimum staff complement of 1 200
lecturers, the university has about 580 as of February this year. In other
words while enrolment figures have been rising sharply, the staff required to
teach has been deserting the institution because of "poor conditions of
service". We don't know if there is a minister responsible.
shocking developments have not, of course, stopped the predatory Education
minister Aeneas Chigwedere from interfering in the affairs of the few
remaining private schools still offering quality education in the country. In
other words soon we might have another exodus of skilled teachers from
primary and secondary schools because of poor salaries and political
uncertainty in the country.
Even the patriotic Herald was on Friday
forced to concede that something was wrong with the government arbitrarily
setting limits on fees schools could charge. Not only had standards in
government schools declined over the years, it said. In a telling metaphor on
what is happening, it compared private and government school education to a
Mercedes Benz and a Mazda 323. Suppose farming doesn't need
For the first time Saturday's Herald appeared to
acknowledge that some of the land seized under the free-for-all land grab had
been laid to waste. Except that in this case it was mainly to spite the new
owner. Resettlement permanent secretary Simon Pazvakavambwa has allegedly not
paid his workers on Lynton Farm since May. Irrigation equipment and tractors
on the farm are lying idle, moaned the Herald in its lead story. "The
previous owner," it said, "Mr Mike Malzer, used to grow paprika, maize,
tobacco and ran a thriving cattle ranch and piggery."
It didn't say
why a productive farmer was chased off the land, of course. "Workers on the
farm said the farm used to be very productive but was now run down and feared
for their future as the new owner was allegedly not committing himself to
farming," disclosed the Herald.
That's what happens when resources are
allocated to people for free on the basis of political affiliation.
Meanwhile, less jaundiced investigations by the Herald could reveal that the
new wastelands go well beyond Lowani Ndlovu 's petty quarrel with Minister
John Nkomo over the Tsholotsho constituency.
There are multiple farm
grabbers who are refusing to surrender extra properties despite President
Mugabe's repeated appeals to these greedy fellows. Muckraker understands one
judge who seized what used to be a hugely productive estate in the Chinhoyi
area has reduced it to a two-donkey affair. Nobody knows what happened to the
tractors and combine harvesters on the farm.
Hell hath no fury
like a columnist whose newspaper group has been ordered to pay damages for
defamation. Lowani Ndlovu was furious that Justice Yunus Omerjee found for
the banned Daily News after they were defamed by Information minister
Jonathan Moyo in his many reckless articles published in the Herald in 2003.
The Herald and its shadowy Nathaniel Manheru were also ordered to pay
What struck Muckraker as contradictory beyond description was
Lowani's howls about democracy and freedom of expression. It has a jarring
feeling like chewing sand. In comments that verged on contempt of court,
Lowani pronounced Justice Omerjee's judgement the worst ever made by the High
Court and a direct attack on freedom of the press. He said of the
"It is a naked and rather crude attack on freedom of
expression that should never ever be allowed to stand in any constitutional
democracy because it is unreasonable and unjustified in such a
Really Cde Lowani? Since when have you become a spokesperson
for those seeking to reclaim their right to freedom of expression and freedom
of the press?
While he was attacking Justice Omerjee's judgement, he
could not miss the chance to gleefully refer to the Daily News as "defunct".
It is no secret that it is the likes of Lowani and other
charlatans in the state's propaganda armoury who orchestrated and celebrated
the closure of three newspapers and the arrest of dozens of journalists in a
space of two years. Not even diabolical Ian Smith could match that. Not in a
But then Lowani is a clever fellow who can hedge his
bets. While he was bitter about Justice Omerjee's judgement, what better way
to attack it than mask his assault as a defence of freedom of expression?
That should forestall a possible contempt of court charge as an infringement
on his freedom of expression. Let's see how this one pans
Meanwhile, Lowani's alter ego in the Sunday News, Mzala Joe
in Bulawayo, had a go at Zanu PF chairman and Resettlement minister John
Nkomo. Nkomo's sin was an interview he had with the Zimbabwe Independent in
which he said the ruling party had been infiltrated. The Independent was
gratuitously labelled an opposition mouthpiece "that never ever publishes a
single true or good thing about President Mugabe, Zanu PF, the government and
We are not going to waste our time defending the Independent
from Mzala Joe Lowani Ndlovu who, for some very strange reason, sees himself
as the people, the government, Zanu PF, the state and President Mugabe all
rolled into one. The court of public opinion is out there to make a verdict.
The real issue is that Lowani and Mzala Joe are two faces of the same coin.
The attack on Nkomo was transferred to Bulawayo to accommodate the attack on
Justice Omerjee's judgement in Lowani's "colonised" Sunday Mail. That's
as threadbare and flyblown as the trick can go. The source is exactly the
Control of the state media has become a personal passion, a one-man
struggle for access to public attention. We have said it before that only one
person now is able to speak through the state-controlled media. Aggrieved
Zanu PF officials cannot use the state media unless they are attacking Tony
Blair or the MDC. When some evil laws were promulgated to muzzle the media or
to close down certain newspapers, Zanu PF MPs voted with their feet
because they thought it was an opposition thing. Now while the likes of
Lowani are shedding crocodile tears about freedom of expression, all he is
crying for is a licence to attack all and sundry because he is guaranteed
space in the state media. Nobody else enjoys that "democracy". In fact
everybody else has been relegated to The Voice, which nobody reads.
it was that Nkomo committed the unpardonable sin of granting an interview to
the opposition press. And in Lowani's logic you cannot use the private press
without being a traitor. He holds the key to the state media.
hypocritical Mzala in the Sunday News: "The fact that Cde Nkomo chose to
speak through a paper that everyone knows is opposed to President Mugabe,
Zanu PF, the government and Zimbabwe itself raises eyebrows and leaves Cde
Nkomo open to criticism that he used that paper fully knowing that the
outcome would be negative on President Mugabe, his own party, of which he is
national chairman, and the government of which he is a
Has Mugabe grown so old that he is supposed to be
seduced by this kind of cheap flattery by people in Zanu PF who don't want to
surrender the extra farms they looted during land reform? So if you steal a
farm all you need to do to keep it is to pretend to love Zanu PF and the
president and you are as safe as a leech?
How do you describe
an organisation that still calls itself the best employer in the country
after its workers go on strike demanding a pay rise? Such is the phenomenon
that is Zimpapers. Its workers downed tools on Monday over salary increases
and this was described by management as an act of sabotage.
definitely an agenda behind this illegal sit-in," fumed the group' s acting
chief executive Oswell Matore. The Herald then bragged that "Zimpapers
employees are currently the envy of many organisations".
executive Justin Mutasa recently also bragged that they were buying their
senior employees "state-of-the-art" executive vehicles. Two weeks down the
line the employees cannot take any more of this forked-tongue double-speak.
It's called the ostrich mentality.
We hope young Tommy Deuschle
and his fellow-student from Celebration College, Andrew Irish, benefited from
their visit to the US where they were due to attend the Global Youth
Conference. They were also due to visit the World Bank, Wall Street and the
United Nations, we were told. Last we heard, they were seeking donations for
While we wish the two lads all the very best, we can't agree
with Tommy that "it's our duty to cast Zimbabwe in good light" while in the
States. Surely their first duty is to tell the truth!
Govt to keep eye on prices Godfrey Marawanyika THE
government says all goods produced locally will now be monitored for price
adjustments to make sure producers don't profiteer at the expense
Industry and International Trade minister Samuel
Mumbengegwi last week said the move was being undertaken to ensure that
producers were not profiteering at the expense of consumers.
goods that are produced locally are now being monitored for pricing because
some firms here believe that if they do not make a profit of 600% then they
are not making anything," he said.
"I have heard some arguments that
some manufacturers' machines are being affected by wear and tear but that's
useless. All goods are now permanently being monitored for price adjustments.
In short, manufacturers want to benefit at the expense of
Maize meal, flour and agricultural products are already
Government in 2002 introduced price controls which led
to massive shortages of most basic commodities which could only be found on
the black market.
Consumer Council of Zimbabwe spokesperson, Tonderai
Mukeredzi, said as a consumer watchdog they welcomed government's decision,
but warned that the monitoring should not be done arbitrarily otherwise it
would lead to product shortages.
Mumbengegwi also attacked the
local business community's continued export of raw materials without adding
value to them, saying this undermined the country's export
"For example, of all our cotton production, only 25% is
processed locally and the rest is exported as raw lint, then locally there is
nothing to produce," Mumbengegwi said.
"Can you go into a shop and
buy a 100% cotton shirt today? No you cannot. So locally there is a permanent
scarcity of cotton. At this rate some people will go naked.
Documents go missing at Agribank Ngoni
Chanakira MYSTERY surrounds the whereabouts of documents at Agribank
containing names of beneficiaries of the controversial government's $60
billion dollar loan disbursed through the land bank last
Although management has decided to keep a tight lip on the issue
because of its sensitivity, insiders told businessdigest that it was now
"proving difficult to find some files about borrowed funds".
revelation comes as the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has moved
into Agribank to try and help it recover the money.
currently undergoing various structural and management changes.
bank recently appointed former RBZ deputy governor, Sam Malaba, to take over
from Taka Mutunhu as chief executive officer.
Agribank, which was set
up to service the farming community, was restructured from the beleaguered
Agricultural Finance Corporation (AFC), a former loss-making parastatal that
milked money from the fiscus.
Malaba recently confirmed that Agribank
was now scrutinising all activities and potential clients with a view to
rectifying the issue of loans dished out to mainly new small-scale farmers
under the fast-track land resettlement programme.
Insiders say the
loans were being abused with some individuals buying luxury vehicles,
residential and industrial stands and properties instead of inputs and
agricultural equipment such as tractors.
"The bank is now asking for
several things before one is given a loan," a customer said. "Many
applications are now being rejected with those who received monies being
asked to account for it."
RBZ governor Gideon Gono in his monetary
statement review confirmed that there was a "scam" within the agricultural
sector and individuals were abusing loans because of a "poor accounting
system in place".
This is not the first time confidential documents
have disappeared in state entities.
Files have gone missing when
senior officials were alleged to have abused facilities and disappeared with
billions of taxpayers' money in various other scams.
Homelink forex receipts dip Shakeman Mugari FOREIGN
currency receipts through money transfer agencies related to the Homelink
initiative this week took a knock following moves by the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe to stop the agencies from making payouts in
Gono said last week all MTA were no longer allowed to
make payouts in foreign currency. All payouts under Homelink would now be
made in local currency at a rate of US$1: $5 600.
Officials in the
money transfer sector this week confirmed that business had been hit by the
A senior official with a leading money transfer agency
said business had been affected by the new regulation. "We have noticed a
downward trend in the receipts from the diaspora since the governor made an
about-turn on the Homelink," said the official. "Business has been low of
late. Perhaps it is because people in the diaspora are still digesting the
effect of the governor's decision."
A manager with a bank that is
part of the Homelink family told businessdigest that foreign currency
receipts had gone down following Gono's announcement. "It seems as if people
are holding on to their money. We have noticed a general dip in receipts
since the monetary policy review," said the manager.
Prior to the
recent policy shift, about 70% of the money sent through Homelink from the
disapora was paid out in hard currency, a situation Gono last week said was
driving the parallel market.
Analysts have also warned that Homelink
might collapse if the new decision is allowed to stand. They say the move is
likely to force people in the diaspora to use other irregular means to send
money back home. This would provide a large pool of foreign currency to
sustain the parallel market.
CZI acting chief executive Farai Zizhou said
it was a self-defeating move which would worsen foreign currency scarcity.
"People will now go back to the methods they were using before Homelink wase
introduced," said Zizhou. "The auction and the diaspora rate are still not
attractive. And if the central bank says they are not paying out in foreign
currency then people will stop sending money through
The parallel market is on the rampage with the ailing
Zimbabwe dollar trading at US$1: $7 500. It has also lost ground against the
strengthening South African rand.
"People will stop sending money
through Homelink. There is no incentive to do so," said economic commentator,
Loans gobble auction money Ngoni Chanakira THE
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) says from the US$778,6 million it has received
from the weekly auctions, the majority has gone towards repayment of
RBZ governor, Gideon Gono, said US$151,1 million had
been used for central bank loans and "other" priorities.
"other" priorities were not, however, specified.
"In carrying out its
function, special attention is placed on the pressing
needs of the
productive sectors, so as to stimulate a meaningful supply response," Gono
said when presenting his monetary policy statement review for the second
quarter to June 30.
"In terms of usage, US$778,6 million was received
during the first half of the year."
Raw materials accounted for
the second highest amount of the foreign
currency allocations, taking up
"As your central bank, part of our statutory
mandate is to discharge the efficient management of the country's foreign
exchange resources, ensuring that there is optimal allocation of the scarce
resource among competing needs of the country," he
Government ministries gobbled US$90,1 million from the auctions
for various items.
Gono did not specify what these items
"It is important to note that over and above the total foreign
exchange availed to the productive sectors through the Reserve Bank via the
auction system and other direct allocations, the productive sectors had
access to additional foreign exchange through utilisation of their foreign
currency account (FCA) balances under the foreign currency retention system,"
Sectors that received a substantial amount of foreign
currency include machinery US$38,1 million, spares (US$29,9 million), motor
vehicles (US$17,9 million), chemicals (US$11,1 million), loan repayments
(US$6,8 million) and gold producers (US$24,7 million).
He said the
first six months of the year had seen a considerable stabilisation of the
energy supply situation throughout the country.
"Shortages of fuel
had caused untold suffering to the commuting public as well as impaired
business operations," Gono said. "Against this background, the Reserve Bank,
in close consultation with the Ministry of Energy and Power Development,
attaches immense priority to fuel procurement."
supplies have been haphazard and the country is still not receiving the
Some service stations have gone for weeks without
receiving any supplies from their normal sources.
Gono said over
and above the US$80 million allotted for fuel imports on the foreign exchange
auction, the RBZ availed an additional US$51,8 million to Noczim over the
period December 2003 to June.
He said the increased involvement of
the private sector in procurement of fuel was expected to enhance stability
in fuel supply.
"Lasting stabilisation of the fuel sector also
requires that the country effectively utilises the existing Beira pipeline
infrastructure," Gono said.
The struggling Zimbabwe Electricity Supply
Authority was given US$22,6 million from the auction, while the Grain
Marketing Board received US$700 000.
Zesa utilised the amount for
long outstanding debts to neighbouring creditors such as Mozambique, South
Africa and the Democratic Republic of the Congo as well as for the
importation of power and spare parts.
"Given the central nature of
electricity energy to the achievement of economic growth and development
aspirations of the country, greater priority is being given to Zesa in terms
of foreign exchange allocation," Gono said.
IMAGINE it is
five minutes to 8 o'clock in the evening and you have just arrived from
Tired, hungry and in the midst of your cooking, electricity
supplies are cut off.
You quickly light your candle and resort to
your paraffin stove and continue cooking.
You also switch on your
battery radio and just before Newshour you hear the Zesa yauya zvine power
jingle. So irritated will you be I am certain, that you wish you could kick
the radio to stop the song.
With the blackouts we experience now and
again, and with several unelectrified places countrywide, shouldn't it be
Zesa yaenda nemagetsi?
Zesa has gone down the drain with the incessant
blackouts leaving the country in the dark.
Windshield smash Vincent
Kahiya THIS week President Mugabe returned from the Langkawi International
Dialogue in Malaysia where leaders of developing countries sought business
deals with the rich Asian nation, considered an icon of
Mugabe and his entourage have always brought back
promises of fantastic projects from their escapades in the East. This time
around the trip was supposed to bring back bucketfuls of water for the people
of Matabeleland who have been waiting for the fruition of the Matabeleland
Zambezi Water Project for decades.
But Mugabe did not append his
signature to the agreement for Malaysia to provide the US$600 million for the
construction of the pipeline. The deal could not be sealed because Mugabe had
not taken his "water people" to Langkawi.
How did Water and
Infrastructure Development minister Joyce Mujuru miss the trip when a US$600
million water deal was on the table? Did someone fail to remind the president
that a major spin-off from the trip would be the
Perhaps Science and Technology minister Olivia
Muchena, who did attend, was following up on technology transfer deals
announced two years ago. Had Agriculture minister Joseph Made, who was also
there, gone to assure the Malaysians that $2,5 billion agro-exports were on
their way after this year's bumper harvest? Perhaps Stan Mudenge went along
in search of another diplomatic victory for the country!
will be no gargantuan deals to splash in the media because the water people
did not make the trip. But the non-water delegation evidently had a good time
on the island resort.
"The hospitality is abundant. I have expressed
our gratitude to your Prime Minister for hosting it and for the hospitality
that we have received," Mugabe told the Malaysian media.
could have spoiled the party are statements which have followed Mugabe on his
last two foreign trips calling for good tenets of governance such
as power-sharing and transparency.
Malaysian Prime Minister
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi urged leaders gathered for the smart partnership
dialogue to adopt a new mindset and attitudes which embrace openness and
"Genuine power-sharing between different groups in the
country should be considered as an important element in nation-building,"
said Badawi. "Nations should develop and implement a positive approach to
ethics and integrity."
So this is no longer an imperialist ploy as
we have been tutored by our rulers here? Mudenge will argue that this was not
aimed at Zimbabwe.
Last month at the AU summit in Addis Ababa United
Nations secretary-general Kofi Annan opened up on intractable rulers on the
"Let us pledge that the days of indefinite one-man or
one-party governments are behind us," Annan said to applause. "There is no
greater wisdom and no clearer mark of statesmanship than knowing when to pass
the torch to a new generation."
Mudenge told the media in Addis
that this had nothing to do with Mugabe. The minister should be reminded that
when the winds of change start to blow some build windshields and others
Mudenge may continue to erect windshields but this is not
the last time that Mugabe will encounter similar sentiments at international
fora. It will become increasingly difficult for Zimbabwean rulers to market
their brand of democracy built on political intolerance and suppression of
At the Sadc summit in Mauritius this month
the Zimbabwean delegation will hear about international best practice in
governance, transparency and power sharing.
reconvenes next Wednesday for the final session before the general election
in March next year. This is the last opportunity for legislators to make
meaningful contributions in the House instead of emulating Innocent Chikiyi
who had to be ejected from the House for using vulgar language against a
As usual there will be the tepid debate on the
presidential speech where MPs will fall over each other in singing praises to
their dear leader. The debate on the presidential speech is supposed to
mirror societal discourse on key national issues and influence policy
formulation. The Zimbabwean parliament has fared badly on
The danger is for the House to be bogged down in petty
discussions which give excitable MPs the opportunity to prance about like
This session of parliament bears immense significance to
the country's future as legislators have to debate crucial pieces of
legislation. The House will consider changes to the electoral law. There is
the contentious NGO Bill and a repealing of the Witchcraft Suppression
The proposed amendments to the electoral system - which could
entail the repeal of sections of the constitution - should be the focal point
of legislators, some of whom have endorsed Bills they have never set eyes
The electoral legislation that will come out of parliament will have
a huge bearing on the conduct of the general election next year, which will
chart the future for the country. The current tension between Zanu PF and
the opposition MDC stems largely from the issue of Mugabe's legitimacy.
The opposition claims Mugabe was elected on the platform of a flawed
electoral system hence questions about his legitimacy.
power-drunk politicians have been known to sacrifice common sense on
the altar of political expediency. That has been accomplished with perfection
by Zanu PF legislators. The record speaks for itself: the Public Order
and Security Act, the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act,
and the Land Acquisition Act and its attendant amendments.
this record, it is hardly surprising they now want to repeal the Witchcraft
Suppression Act in the coming session!
l Last week we informed
readers that the judgement in Morgan Tsvangirai's treason trial, initially
due on July 29, had been postponed to give the assessors a chance to go
through the trial transcript. The court's registrar took issue with our story
and sent us a statement to publish which you may have already seen in the
Herald. It appears in full (opposite, top) on this page.
place it on record that contrary to the registrar's contention, we did not
suggest that the Judge President had already prepared a judgement. Nor was it
our intention to do so.