By Caiphas Chimhete and John Mokwetsi
AT a time when Zimbabwe is facing an acute fuel shortage, senior government
officials and other well-connected individuals have received huge amounts of
heavily subsidised fuel from the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim),
raising fears the fuel could have been diverted to the thriving black
The government has ordered a probe into how the fuel was used and those
found to have abused the facility may face prosecution, The Standard can
The revelations come soon after the Reserve Bank governor, Dr Gideon Gono,
pointed out in his 2005 Fourth Quarter Monetary Policy Review Statement that
farmers were abusing the fuel facility, prompting government to announce
that it had blacklisted A2 farmers.
The government did not reveal the list of the culprits.
However, after a two-week investigation, The Standard can reveal that top
government officials dominate the list of new farmers who received large
quantities of petrol at $11 000 - $13 500 for diesel a litre. The officials
are now at the centre of a probe, instituted to determine how the fuel was
An investigation into the scam has already begun in Manicaland, where police
visited the Agriculture Rural Extension Services . "The police are keen to
know how the fuel was used. They will on Monday start visiting farms," said
a well-placed source.
Topping the list of the officials is Zanu PF Manicaland Province chairman,
Shadreck Chipanga. Late last year at the height of fuel shortages, Chipanga
collected 60 000 litres on 15 November. All in all he received 66 576
Yesterday Chipanga, a former CIO boss, confirmed receiving fuel from Noczim
but claimed he used it for farming purposes only.
"I am not aware that anybody is being probed about this fuel. I used mine
for farming activities. That is what I can say," said Chipanga, who
according to a list in possession of The Standard received the largest
quantity in the whole of Manicaland province.
The Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Oppah
Muchinguri, received 12 201 litres. She could not be reached for comment
yesterday. A Mhiripiri, who owns Arbeid Farm, received 13 271 litres, while
another person only identified as Tembani received 8 002 litres. Mutare City
Council Commissioner and businessman Esau Mupfumi received 5 000 litres
while a Matongo, who owns Matongo Farm, received 9 900 litres.
Energy and Development Minister Retired Lieutenant-General Mike Nyambuya and
Manicaland Governor, Tinaye Chigudu, got 5 200 litres and 3 800 litres
respectively. Nyambuya could not be reached for comment yesterday but
Chigudu denied abusing the fuel facility.
"In 2004 I applied for fuel for my farm. I applied and completed a form and
was authorized to acquire 23 000 litres from Noczim. I only got 5 000 litres
in 2004 and another 5 000 litres was delivered in 2005," said Chigudu who
owns Maidstone Farm. He said the government should prosecute all those who
abused the fuel.
Mupfumi, who is also the Affirmative Action Group president for Manicaland,
confirmed receiving 5 000 litres of fuel last year. He said he used 2 000
litres on 35 000 -hectare tobacco crop.
He said that it was Manicaland acting area public prosecutor, Levison
Chikafu, and himself, who had called for the probe.
"What does somebody need more than 10 000 litres of fuel for? Those found to
have abused the facility should be arrested. Ngavasungwe!"
But Chikafu denied ever talking to Mupfumi, he however confirmed
investigations were going on.
"I have since approached the director of prosecution (Loyce Moyo) and she
directed me to look into the matter with the aim of prosecuting the people,"
The former deputy minister for Industry and International Trade, Kenneth
Manyonda, confirmed receiving 3 800 litres of diesel from Noczim, adding the
audit would find him "clean".
"I am aware of the government audit. Those who love their country would not
be involved. I am one of those who love their country. I don't have enough
fuel and as I speak to you now there is no diesel. I wish I had more so my
work at the farm can be made easier," said the former MP for Buhera North.
Manicaland Provincial spokesperson Inspector Joshua Tigere confirmed that
investigations into the fuel scam were in progress.
"We are investigating. I can't comment beyond that because it will
jeopardise the investigations," Tigere said.
Attorney General Sobuza Gula-Ndebele would not immediately confirm the
investigation but added his office "would prosecute anyone implicated in the
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union director Dzarira Kwenda said on average
most of the farmers planted very small hectarages.
"If there are people who got about 60 000 litres the onus is on them to
prove how they used it," said Kwenda.
By Valentine Maponga
AIR Zimbabwe cancelled its Friday flight to London, leaving many travellers
stranded, barely a day after assuring journalists that all was well at the
Another Air Zimbabwe aircraft, the latest MA60 that was bound for Lusaka,
Zambia, was forced to land immediately after take off. The aircraft, donated
by the Chinese government to Zimbabwe last month, developed technical
problems while making its first regional flight.
The Standard understands that about 10 out of 70 passengers to London were
transferred to a British Airways flight on Friday. The rest were told to
wait until (today) Sunday when they will board an Air Zimbabwe plane that is
currently in China.
The other plane on Air Zimbabwe's fleet, the Boeing 767 that was damaged
last year, is still awaiting repairs.
David Mwenga, the Air Zimbabwe spokesperson, confirmed on Friday that they
had accommodated the London-bound passengers on a British Airways flight
while the rest would travel today.
"The Boeing 767 is going through a 'C' Check and like any other institution
foreign currency shortages are affecting the procurement of spare parts.
Some critical parts have been delayed and it has affected the work on that
aircraft," Mwenga said.
Sources at the national airline told The Standard that engineers had
resolved not to work overtime as a result of poor working conditions,
affecting servicing of the Boeing 767.
By Gibbs Dube
GWANDA - The Gwanda Municipality has resolved that "Operation Hlalani Kuhle"
houses which were last week allocated to residents including senior police
officers, top civil servants, children of a government minister and Zanu PF
members, be allocated to victims of "Operation Murambatsvina". In a two-hour
extra-ordinary full council meeting on Wednesday councillors were furious
that most of the beneficiaries were not victims of the government's
Gwanda councillor and deputy executive mayor, Petros Mukwena, told the
meeting: "To make matters worse, the majority of beneficiaries are outsiders
or people who once worked in Gwanda but have since been deployed outside
this town. We cannot just sit and pretend as if the allocation of the houses
was perfect. In fact, it is scandalous."
It emerged that most of the people allocated the houses by the Ministry of
Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development were government workers
staying in State residences.
In an interview soon after the meeting, Gwanda Executive Mayor Thandeko
Zinti Mkandla said councillors hoped their decision would be taken seriously
by the ministry since the municipality had the final say in allocating
houses within the municipal area.
He said the town council was not in a position to issue certificates of
occupation to the new house owners due to lack of sewer and water services
in the new suburb.
The council estimates that it would cost more than $15 billion to construct
roads in the suburb and at least $12 billion for the implementation of water
and sewer networks.
In a rare move, the Movement for Democratic Change-led council has indicated
that some top Zanu PF officials, a government minister and the Governor for
Matabeleland South Province, Angeline Masuku, have backed the council over
its decision to reallocate the houses to victims of "Murambatsvina".
Sources said the initial allocation of houses had angered the provincial
Zanu PF leadership - Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi and Masuku -
"She is fuming over the whole issue as she believes that the houses should
be redistributed to victims of Operation Murambatsvina. She summoned all
provincial heads and demanded to know why they were embarrassing the
government through allocating Operation Hlalani Kuhle houses to themselves
instead of the rightful beneficiaries," said one of the sources.
Investigations carried out by The Standard in Gwanda revealed the 246 houses
allocated to the town residents recently are inhabitable as they do not have
doors, window panes, toilets or standard floors.
Leslie, the son of the Deputy Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social
Welfare, Abednigo Ncube, said: "Although I stay in my father's house, I am
eligible to get a house if I am on the housing waiting list . What's wrong
The head of the Department of Physical Planning, Joseph Kamuzhanje, was
shell-shocked when he was asked how he acquired a house meant for victims of
"Murambatsvina" when in fact occupying a State residence on the periphery of
Gwanda central business district.
He said: "Why do you want to talk to me? Talk to the relevant authorities."
However, his colleague and neighbour in the leafy suburb, Calvin Nzima, the
head of the Central Mechanical and Equipment Department confirmed that he
had been allocated a house.
Etoile Silayigwana, the spokesman for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission,
claimed he was not aware that he had been allocated a house in Gwanda.
"There are so many Etoile Silayigwanas in Gwanda. This is a common name and
surname in this province," Silayigwana said.
The Minister's daughter, Coletta, Assistant Commissioner Munorwei Shava
Matutu and his senior colleagues, Antony Mangezi and Silence Pondo, and
several other top government officials could not be reached for comment as
they were said to be busy attending meetings in the town.
By Gibbs Dube
BULAWAYO - The majority of pensioners under the Railway Pension Fund (RPF),
currently receiving $50 000 a month, have virtually been turned into beggars
with some of them resorting to selling their household goods in order to
make ends meet.
In Zimbabwe's hyper inflationary environment, $50 000 can only buy a loaf of
bread for most of pensioners who are now too old to look for part-time jobs
or venture into income-generating projects to supplement their incomes.
A spokesman for the Railways Pensioners' Association, Valentine
Morgan-Manuel, said the more than 11 500 ex-NRZ workers "are at the mercy of
Zimbabwe's harsh economic environment with the majority reduced to beggars".
"To make matters worse, we are failing to withdraw these pensions from
almost all banks because the money is meant to cover bank charges.
Imagine, one cannot even board a commuter omnibus in order to withdraw the
money from a bank and go back home as fares have gone up to $30 000 per
trip," said Morgan-Manuel.
Faced with these difficulties, he said the majority of pensioners were now
surviving on selling household furniture in order to raise money for food.
"Life has become tough for the ex-NRZ workers and the only way of making a
living is to sell household goods in order to feed themselves. Some are even
reportedly selling their houses," he said.
The pensions were last reviewed in August last year but were not adjusted to
the current rate of inflation, which has eroded incomes of the majority of
Zimbabweans. According to the Central Statistical Office (CSO), a family of
six needs about $17 million a month to cater for its basic needs.
"We have tried by all means to ask for better pensions from the Railway
Pension Fund but the relevant authorities have given us a cold shoulder.
"We are now going to approach the relevant ministry in order to tackle this
issue," Morgan-Manuel said.
He said: "It is an insult to get $50 000 per month. What can one buy with
this kind of money? We are suffering. There are several individuals with
children working outside the country who are living a decent life. Most of
our members staying in Mbare, Makokoba, Sizinda and other high- density
suburbs in Zimbabwe's urban areas are beggars. They are being looked after
by neighbours or survive through the grace of God.
"These are the people that were the backbone of the Rhodesia Railways (now
NRZ) but are a forgotten lot. Medical aid contributions were recently
increased by 15 percent while pensions have been stagnant. The NRZ owes the
pension fund almost $500 billion in unpaid subscriptions while pensioners
are living from hand to mouth."
NRZ authorities could neither confirm nor deny that they owed the fund
billions of dollars supposed to cater for the needs of pensioners.
Relevant authorities in the fund declined to comment, referring all
questions to the chairman of the organisation, Thulani Thebe, who is
currently on holiday in the United Kingdom.
By our staff
BULAWAYO - Speaker of Parliament and Zanu PF chairman, John Nkomo, has lost
a High Court bid to evict his neighbour, Langton Masunda, from a
multi-billion dollar lodge left behind by a commercial farmer at the height
of farm invasions.
The Zanu PF chief was battling to acquire Jijima Safari in Lupane,
Matabeleland North province, from Masunda arguing that the lodge belonged to
him on the basis that it is located at his Lugo Ranch Farm.
Nkomo says he got an offer letter for Lugo Farm from the Ministry he was
heading in 2003.
The ranch in the Gwayi River Conservancy and the wildlife rich Matabeleland
North province adjoins Volunteer Farms 47, 48 and 49 given to Masunda in
Handing down his judgement last Thursday, High Court Judge, Justice Francis
Bere, dismissed with costs Nkomo's application to evict Masunda from the
lodge arguing Masunda had valid arguments to take the case for trial in
other aspects of the lawsuit.
"Having heard the submissions, I am satisfied that the respondent should not
be silenced . the application for summary judgement is dismissed with
costs," said Justice Bere.
Nkomo filed the lawsuit last year in September and was demanding Z$5 billion
In addition he sought the courts' assistance in getting an additional $500
million for losses in rentals suffered from 2003 to date and $50 million a
month for damages "with effect from the date of issuing of summons for
eviction to date".
By Nqobani Ndlovu
BULAWAYO - Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan
Tsvangirai has hired top legal firms to defend him against a $100 billion
defamation lawsuit filed by members of the pro senate faction. The embattled
MDC leader has hired Honey and Blanckenberg Legal Practitioners and
Calderwood, Bryce, Hendrie and Partners to defend him against the lawsuit in
a court case likely to gobble billions of dollars in legal costs.
Tsvangirai is alleged to have told diplomats and the media that some of his
former colleagues had hatched a plot to eliminate him with the assistance of
Tendai Biti, MP for Harare East and a partner with Honey and Blanckenberg
Legal Practitioners, confirmed that they had since filed a notice to defend
Tsvangirai against the lawsuit.
"We have since filed a notice to defend the MDC leader against the $100
billion lawsuit. We filed our papers two weeks ago," Biti said.
The pro-Senate faction represented by Coghlan, Welsh and Guest legal
practitioners filed the $100 billion lawsuit at the High Court early this
The plaintiffs in the case are MDC vice president Gibson Sibanda,
secretary-general Welshman Ncube, treasurer Fletcher Dulini-Ncube, deputy
secretary-general Gift Chimanikire and information secretary Paul Themba-
The five had initially filed a $50 billion dollar lawsuit but later revised
it upwards citing the extent of defamation damages after the alleged full
defamatory statement was published widely in local and international
newspapers and on the Internet.
The plaintiffs argue that the $50 billion lawsuit was as a result of the
fact that the alleged statements had only appeared in the South
African-based Star newspaper.
They are now demanding $20 billion each from Tsvangirai.
By our staff
THE Prevention of Corruption trial of ZUPCO board chairman, Charles Muchemwa
Nherera, who is also the Chinhoyi University Vice-Chancellor, has been
provisionally set for 7 March 2006.
The trial is expected to attract a lot of attention as it has sucked into
its vortex, the Minister of Local Government, Ignatious Chombo, and deputy
minister of Information and Publicity, Bright Matonga.
The charges facing Nherera are that between August 2004 and January 2005,
the board chairman corruptly solicited for a US$5 000 bribe from Jayesh Shah
of Gift Investments for each of the 18 Swaraj T3500 mini-buses that ZUPCO
wanted to purchase from Gift Investments.
The total amount of the bribe demanded was US $90 000.
Gift Investments has been supplying buses to ZUPCO since 1998 and in that
year, the bus company ordered 250 buses from General Motors in Kenya and
Swaraj Mazda in India through Gift Investments.
The buses were later delivered and ZUPCO bought part of the consignment
leaving out 75 buses - 55 Isuzu minibuses and 20 Swaraj minibuses.
In October and in the company of the then ZUPCO chief executive, Matonga,
Nherera went to Gift Investments to discuss the purchase of 75 buses.
ZUPCO later purchased 55 buses.
Gift Investments later asked Matonga to consider the purchase of the
remaining Swaraj minibuses.
A meeting between Nherera and Shah was arranged and that was when it is
alleged Nherera asked Shah to be real and behave like a businessman and
establish a smooth working relationship if he wanted to continue doing
business with ZUPCO.
When Shah sought clarification on what he meant by this, Nherera allegedly
revealed that other bus suppliers were paying him US$5 000 ($750 million)
for each bus that ZUPCO purchased.
He then allegedly demanded to be paid US$5 000 for each of the 18 minibuses
to be bought by ZUPCO from Gift Investments.
Nherera then allegedly told Shah to charge US$35 000 for each bus instead of
US$30 000 so that the difference could be his "cut".
When Nherera allegedly continued to make bribery demands, Shah taped their
conversations and disclosed the soliciting at a ZUPCO board meeting on 21
By Walter Marwizi
A WORKER for a company jointly owned by Zimbabwe Defence Forces Commander,
General Constantine Chiwenga and his wife, Jocelyn, languished in police
cells for five days on "high orders" from the two, according to court
Never Munhumayengwa was only released late on Friday after his lawyer,
Harrison Nkomo from the Legal Resources Foundation (Public Interest Unit)
lodged an urgent High Court application to have him released.
Court papers reveal that Munhumayengwa, a former accountant of Dokson
Investments, was bundled into a truck belonging to Jocelyn by soldiers. "He
was severely assaulted by the said soldiers," says his founding affidavit
filed by Nkomo.
Munhumayengwa was thereafter detained without any charge preferred against
him at Msasa Park Police Station.
A day later he was taken to the Criminal Investigation Department's Fraud
section where he was again detained, now charged with defrauding Dokson
Investments of $522 million.
On Wednesday Munhumayengwa was brought before a Murehwa magistrate, this
time facing charges of stealing $8 million. However, the court papers say,
the area public prosecutor declined to prosecute for lack of evidence and
ordered his immediate release.
"It is pertinent to note the malice involved in this case in that the
respondents (police officers) and even the complainants are aware of the
rules relating to jurisdiction. Applicant was arrested in Harare and
according to the rules of jurisdiction he should have been arraigned before
a Harare Magistrate Court," said Nkomo in the founding affidavit.
Nkomo says he tried to get information on the charges that were being
levelled against his client, but failed.
Nkomo added that a Detective Constable Nyoni and the Officer in Charge
Gavaza, who are cited as the first and second respondents respectively,
revealed the continued detention "was being perpetuated because of high
orders from Constantine Chiwenga and Jocelyn Chiwenga".
Despite the release of Munhumayengwa, the application is expected be heard
in the High Court tomorrow.
By Caiphas Chimhete
SEVERAL blocks of flats built by government in the late 1980s in Harare and
Norton remain unfinished and unoccupied even though "Operation Garikai" has
been launched, The Standard has established.
The housing project was initiated by the late Enos Chikowore, who was then
the Minister of Local Government, Public Works and National Housing under
the Pay-For-Your-House Scheme.
In Harare, the vacant blocks are in Mbare and Dzivarasekwa Extension and can
accommodate more than 200 families. In Norton, the blocks of flats were
constructed near Ngoni Suburb. They all require finishing touches.
Several people who spoke to The Standard last week blasted the government
for failing to complete the flats and not accommodating some of the people
displaced under its so-called "clean-up" exercise.
Tapiwa Rugare (43), who now stays on the banks of Mukuvisi River in Mbare,
said the failure by government to accommodate people in the unfinished flats
showed its vindictive nature.
"They should have just first completed building the flats and accommodated
people there than starting to build houses which they are failing to
complete again," said Rugare, who used to stay adjacent unoccupied flats in
Dzivarasekwa Extension in Harare.
The government last week said people who had the capacity to finish off
building the "match-box houses" they were allocated under "Operation
Garikai" were free to do so using own their own resources.
The call clearly shows that the government has no money to continue funding
the "Garikai" project, which received a partly $800 billion.
While the flats remain unoccupied, the majority of nearly one million
families who lost their homes through "Operation Murambatsvina" are living
in shacks, in places where there are no ablution facilities.
Harare City Council spokesperson, Madenyika Magwenjere, said the local
authority had nothing to do with the flats.
"Government owns those flats and we have nothing to do with them. Talk to
the Ministry of Local Government," Magwenjere said.
Norton Town Council chairperson, Bybit Tsomondo, last week confirmed that
flats in the town were still vacant.
"We are working on modalities to move in people in a week or two," said
Tsomondo, who could say why all along nothing had been done or how many
people could be accommodated in the flats.
She added that people who needed to occupy the flats in Norton would first
get a letter from Norton council, which will be forwarded to the Ministry of
Local Government, Public Works and Urban Development for "approval".
Acting Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Local Government, Madzudzo
Pawadyira, said government was in the process of allocating the unoccupied
flats to people without accommodation.
The government has since independence in 1980 initiated housing projects
that failed to benefit the ordinary people because they fell victim to
plundering by ruling party politicians.
Most of the ordinary civil servants who contributed to the
Pay-For-Your-House Scheme still do not have roofs over their heads, a decade
and half after the project commenced.
Newsfocus by Walter Marwizi and Davison Maruziva
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, who turns 82 this month, remains determined to
shield himself from commoners who catapulted him to power even when
Critics say this shows increasing paranoia by a leader who behaves in sharp
contrast with other veterans of Africa's liberation movements who assumed
ordinary citizen statusA once they left office.
When he left office, Tanzania's founding President, the late Julius Mwalimu
Nyerere moved back to his childhood home village of Butiama in western
Tanzania, while former South Africa President Nelson Mandela retreated to
Qunu, his home village when he left office, more than half a decade ago. He
also has a private residence in Johannesburg's suburb of Houghton Park,
which is not ring-fenced by any security zoning.
As he was about to leave his position to the then deputy President Thabo
Mbeki, a humble Mandela said: "I will count myself as amongst the aged of
our society; as one of the rural population; as one concerned for the
children and youth of our country; and as a citizen of the world, committed,
as long as I have the strength, to work for a better life for all people
everywhere. The long walk continues."
It is unlikely this will be the case with Mugabe, who has ruled Zimbabwe for
more than 25 years.
Three weeks before he reaches 82, Mugabe is still keeping people guessing
about his rAetirement plans and whether these will define his legacy and
future as one of a growing core group of the continent's elder statesmen.
Mugabe's SADC counterparts in Botswana, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, South
Africa, Tanzania and Zambia, have made the transition from being heads of
state to senior private citizens of their respective countries.
His government has already given indications that when Mugabe does finally
leave office, he won't stay among his much-loved povo - the common people.
Mugabe's lavish rural home in Zvimba could be a perfect retirement residence
but the opulent mansion in Borrowdale Brooke, built at an estimated cost of
over 5 million pounds is most likely to provide sanctuary to a man who
should be retiring to tranquil surroundings to reflect on his legacy of the
immense contribution he made to the liberation of this country, Namibia and
the advent of democracy in South Africa, as well as be on hand to offer
advice to his successor.
And the government seems determined not to take any chances about his
security after he leaves office. It has already put in place measures to
acquire homes adjacent to the mansion in a manner that has rattled property
owners around the oriental mansion.
More than a dozen property owners have been served with notices to move out
of the area, which was designated a security zone last year.
The notices will pave way for the government to acquire the prime
properties. There are fears Zimbabwe's "aristocratic village/ cantonment"
may emerge in Borrowdale, with top security and government officials taking
up the acquired properties.
Although many Zimbabweans had not anticipated this would happen, it appears
Mugabe had planned the move in advance.
In April last, the Ministry of Home Affairs issued the order in terms of
Section 5 of the Protected Places and Areas Act, published in the government
The order, which did not attract the attention of many, designated the area
At the time, residents felt that apart from the occasional roadblocks, they
could only be inconvenienced if Borrowdale Brooke Road was closed to
motorists during the night as is the case with roads near the State House
and Dzibahwe - Mugabe's official residence.
Little did they know that they would become undesirable elements once the
heavily guarded mansion was completed.
One of several residents, who called The Standard last week, said: "It came
as a shock .We thought he (Mugabe) would just come and live in that big
house without antagonising us. We now know we are not wanted here even
though we were the first to settle here."
Lawyers, The Standard spoke to, said the notices are "improper and illegal".
They said if it was a security issue the notices should have come from the
Ministry of Home Affairs and not that of Local Government.
The Minister of Local Government, Ignatious Chombo, was said to be in
meetings when The Standard approached his office for comment. The Acting
Permanent Secretary for the Ministry told The Standard that he had not seen
the objections from property owners near the retirement villa and referred
questions to the minister.
The issue has struck fear in the hearts of many with a senior official from
the property sector telling The Standard: "That is a very sensitive issue.
To be honest with you, that is something I don't want to be involved in."
But critics last week said they were not shocked by the move.
"Mugabe committed a lot of crimes against many people, political opponents,
farmers and others. He is being haunted by his past crimes and so it is not
surprising that he is determined to stay away from these people," said
Nelson Chamisa, spokesperson of the MDC anti-Senate faction.
"When you abuse power, you will never feel secure."
By Bertha Shoko
FISH vendors along the Harare - Bulawayo highway, desperate to make a living
from selling fish, have resorted to selling the commodity hidden under their
skirts to avoid prosecution by municipal police.
Local authorities banned the sale of foodstuffs from undesignated points
citing health concerns after cholera outbreaks in parts of Harare and
Chitungwiza, which claimed at least 14 lives recently.
But the same local authorities have not been able to accommodate all vendors
in the city council stalls, making it difficult to stop illegal vending.
Also having fish vendors selling their commodity at one central point is not
as lucrative as selling motorists along the highway, according to some of
Investigations made by Standardhealth in Norton last week exposed the extent
of the desperation of some of the women trying to eke out a living, albeit
through unorthodox ways.
In this game of "hide and seek" the fish vendors sit close to the road,
along the highway waiting for potential customers driving past. On hearing
the sound of a vehicle they get up and brandish the fish for sale.
But when the vendors see vehicles from the local authority doing rounds in
the area, the women vendors either move away from the road or sit down and
hide the dishes containing fish under their skirts, while pretending to be
doing other things. But the Norton municipal police say they are not duped
One municipal police officer, who refused to be named, said: "We know that
this is their game. We now know their faces and they know us too. They are
very clever and know we cannot go and lift their skirts to confiscate the
"Most of the time we leave them. We don't arrest them because we understand
where they are coming from. They are our mothers and sisters trying to
survive. But sometimes when we are ordered we have no choice but to arrest
them and make them pay fines to save our jobs."
Fish has become a popular relish because of the high cost of beef. Half a
dozen fish cost $240 000 while beef now costs between $300 000 and $500
000/kg. A family of six can get by with half a dozen fish for two days while
the same family can use up a kilogramme of beef for only one meal.
Mercy Mambo, a vendor from nearby Kuwadzana high-density suburb, said: "I
have been selling fish ever since 1999 and this is the only way I have
always supported my two children since their father died in 1990.
"They claim we are causing cholera but if you go around the suburbs and look
at the amount of uncollected rubbish then you will know it is not vendors
who are causing cholera. Where we sell our stuff we burn our litter. We are
not causing cholera. They are, "she said.
THE greatest threat to societies striving to become democratic is hindrance
to free flow of ideas and information and access to these. In August 1991
President Robert Mugabe broke ranks with other leaders on the continent and
in the developing world when he blasted pieces of government legislation as
He declared: "As you can see, I have decided to join in the (don't tax
Speaking during the announcement of the winner of the Noma Award for
Publishing in Africa - then a key feature of the Zimbabwe International Book
Fair - Mugabe's central theme was that taxes on books were a barrier to
accessing information and acquiring knowledge by the majority of the people
and consequently an obstacle to the nation's development aspirations.
Most autocratic leaders in the developing world are happy to keep their
citizens in the dark, because that way they remain uninformed about their
rights. As long as the ruled are unaware of their rights the rulers can rule
untroubled and as long as they wish.
Last week saw the psychological $100 000-barrier in the cost of newspapers
being broken. The Zimbabwe Independent, our sister publication, and The
Financial Gazette now cost $120 000 - the cost of three loaves of bread.
With effect from today, The Standard's cover price will be $100 000.
There is no guarantee how long these prices will hold because since the last
quarter of 2005 price escalations in the cost of newsprint and printing
costs have been on a weekly or fortnightly basis.
However, it is no secret that recently the government has made known its
displeasure with the private media still operating in this country.
The Minister of Information and Publicity, Ambassador Tichaona Jokonya,
charged during a recent function in Harare that the private media were
agents of foreign forces hostile to the government and that they were a
conduit for efforts at regime change.
When Jokonya was appointed to Cabinet last year he demanded "patriotism"
from the media.
The minister in charge of National Security, Didymus Mutasa, last month
raised fears of government repression of the domestic private media, after
he declared the government's determination to harass the country's remaining
few alternative sources of information. Mutasa told the State-run Manica
Post that the government . "will not sit on its laurels" and watch a "crop
of journalists" sell "the country to the enemy by writing falsehoods" with
the "intention" of "undermining national security".
These developments inform our suspicions that there could be more to the
escalations in the cost of inputs in the newspaper production sector with
the primary aim being to curtail access to private newspapers by the greater
majority of Zimbabweans.
One of the reasons that lead to the closure of The Daily News in particular
was the government's concern that a greater number of Zimbabweans than those
reading the government's media were being exposed to an alternative view -
one that was unflattering to the government and the ruling party because it
was a view that unmasked inconsistencies and the record of unfulfilled
election campaign promises.
The government would be happy with fewer people reading the alternative view
on the Zimbabwean condition and its architects.
In pre-independence Zimbabwe, the Rhodesia Front government allowed the
Catholic-run Moto magazine, which was critical to Ian Smith's administration
because its influence was limited. There were similar examples in the former
Eastern Europe were publications critical to the governments were allowed
because their influence was limited.
The rhetoric from the government and escalations in input costs in the
production of newspapers appear to suggest that attempts are underway to
curtail the free flow of ideas and access to information, consequently
disempowering Zimbabweans ahead of a possible succession outcome or the next
Yet without a free and pluralistic media neither democracy nor good
governance are possible. The existence of a free Press is also a
pre-condition for development.
By our staff
EMBATTLED Zimbabwe will be under global spotlight as it began a countdown to
the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Executive Board meeting to decide
the fate of the southern African nation on 8 March. A team from the Fund was
in the country from 25 January for a one-week mission.
Although Zimbabwe offered a sweetener by paying US$5 million during the
course of five-member delegation's brief visit, the team was evidently not
distracted as it went on to produce a damning report.
In its report, the IMF mission team said that in the absence of a
comprehensive and immediate policy package, Zimbabwe's economic prospects
IMF noted that a cocktail package Zimbabwe had to adopt included: strong
fiscal adjustment; full liberalization of the exchange rate regime for
current account transaction and elimination of quasi-fiscal activity of the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. The lending institution called for structural
reforms that included price deregulation, public enterprise reform,
strengthening of property rights, and improvements in governance.
Unmoved by a scathing story planted in the government-controlled weekly that
accused the Fund of shifting goalposts, the IMF implored Zimbabwe to
eliminate quasi-fiscal activity of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and the
adoption of a structural reform that included price deregulation and public
The revelation by the IMF puts Zimbabwe in the invidious position when the
IMF Executive Board meets next month.
Besides the GRA arrears, which attract expulsion, Zimbabwe owes the lending
institution US$125 million under the poverty reduction and growth facility
account. The former Czechoslovakia (axed in 1954) is the only country to be
booted out of the 184 -member group in the history of the lending
Unlike in September last year, when Zimbabwe made a surprise US$120 million
payment ahead of the Executive Board meeting, the staff mission read into
Zimbabwe's tactics and refused to recognise the US$5 million sweetener.
While the September Executive Board meeting gave Zimbabwe a six- month stay
of execution to mend fences with the Bretton Woods institution, embattled
Zimbabwe this time waits with bated breath for the meeting next month. And
in the meantime the IMF report subjects Zimbabwe to global spotlight as the
countdown to 8 March begins.
By Deborah-Fay Ndhlovu
ZIMBABWE is moving towards embracing biotechnology in a development that
shows a shift in government' s attitude but scientists have warned that the
decision could divide the country.
The country has been treading on fears of side effects of biotechnology on
health and the environment with the government leading a campaign against
But when it rolled out a red carpet for Professor Thomas DeGregori, a
visiting lecturer from the US sentiment was that it had changed its view.
The Biosafety Board is also being transformed into a National Biotechnology
Authority to facilitate the adoption and use of biotechnology.
Scientists, however, warn that it still has to convince the public on the
safety of using biotechnology.
A local scientist who declined to be named said: "There is no question on
the importance of using biotechnology especially when it comes to issues of
food security. The problem would be convincing the end user given all the
hype and controversy surrounding the subject."
Biotechnology refers to the scientific process of manipulating living
organisms. It covers cloning and the development of genetically modified
organisms, among others.
Researchers are themselves divided on the way forward given the indications
that there could be transference of genes from Genetically Modified
Organisms to the natural environment, threatening the existence of flora and
The dean of the Faculty of Science with the National University of Science
and Technology, Dr Eddie Mwenje, said results of a research on the
possibility of introducing genetically modified sorghum were not favourable.
"The issue was to understand whether genes could escape into the wild. We
have started doing our analysis and results so far show a higher possibility
of genes being transferred to the natural environment," Mwenje said but
maintained that he is still in support of developing GMOs.
"The impact it would have on insects and wild animals would be huge because
it's changing their nutrient components."
Scientists raised fears that biotechnology could compromise the immune
system, increase the probability of developing new diseases and activate
genes for plant toxins causing allergic reactions. The business community on
the other hand is worried that exports could fall.
However, other scientists said using biotechnology especially in agriculture
would increase productivity and reduce famine.
They also said that forbidding the use of biotechnology in Zimbabwe would
mean taking DNA vaccines and insulin for diabetics off the shelves.
"Biotechnology can be deployed to address fundamental challenges that
include drought, pest diseases, climatic change and nutrition (quality of
our diet). For example we can come up with a programme where maize can be
modified to provide additional nutrients other than carbohydrates," said the
Registrar of the Biosafety Board, Abisai Mafa.
"Food insecurity is a reality but with biotechnology a farmer can grow more
on small pieces of land and have disposable income at his table. Think of
weasels and how much grain is lost at the post-harvest stage. Crops rot but
if we can fish out those problem genes that can be delayed. If we produce a
better quality product that means we can be more competitive on the
international market and get better prices and foreign currency to import
what we do not manufacture locally."
But even then scientists believe that it would be hard to implement the
Mwenje said: "Farmers would have to be taught before biotechnology can be
released. The best regulation would be to restrict the use of biotechnology
to some regions but that approach has to be done cautiously because even
then people can just transport GMOs to other regions without detection."
IT is a noble idea for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) delegation
currently led by Isaac Matongo, comprising of Nelson Chamisa, Thokozani
Khupe, and Ian Makone to engage Zimbabweans in the Diaspora on matters of
national interest. There is a significant trans-national Zimbabwean
community out of the country which will always welcome fellow Zimbabweans
who believe that it exists, and make an effort to reach out to them.
It is the first time in this century for a Zimbabwean political party to
engage people abroad in this way, and that has to be commended. These
meetings have been well advertised and they are not being attended by people
who are just there to sing praises, but rather raise those difficult
questions and giving people the opportunity to speak their mind.
It is hoped that, the MDC delegation will document and take into account all
the views from abroad to inform their approach when they go back home. The
meetings will no doubt have an emotional content as people engage in frank
discussions, but the point should not be missed that these are people who
have decided to share their story with fellow Zimbabweans.
There is an important message for people in the Diaspora as well as the
touring MDC delegation to remember. When you attend these meetings please do
so with an open mind, realising that the politics of truth is a political
mine-field. I urge Zimbabweans to see the need to see the positive side of
those they disagree with, especially in these difficult times.
Morgan Tsvangirai has dispatched a team to listen to people's feelings and
no doubt anxieties. This is a positive development and indicative of his
appreciation of the fact that even his faction cannot go it alone. There is
a battle "for truth", or at least "around truth" and specific effects of
power attached to the truth.
The people of Zimbabwe are desperate for the change of governance, not just
the government, and this message resonates with Zimbabweans across the
world. Dr Gideon Gono has aptly summarised the feeling in the Diaspora
during his monitory policy review. "If ... we do not resolutely stamp-out
growing corruption, especially among us people in positions of authority and
influence ... we will soon discover, too late, that policy formulations,
implementation and decisions have been based on self-interest, racial
overtones, regional and tribal considerations at the expense of national
Conflicts are part of life and certainly, politics is a game of compromise
and you will never say never in politics so it hoped that the message from
the Diaspora will encourage unity of purpose and an opportunity for
reflection within the MDC. Criticism will come but let us hope that time
will be taken to consider those views which will not only be for the MDC but
the country as a whole. Let me borrow Gono's recent wisdom and observation
to say: "As Zimbabwe, we cannot go it alone, and it is imperative that we
seek to work with other international business partners, particularly those
that see the virtues and sincerity of our efforts and wish us well."
Zanu PF cannot go it alone if Zimbabwe cannot go it alone and it is common
cause that Zimbabwe is more than the ruling party.
To the two MDC factions, there is a view in the Diaspora shared by many at
home that a strong opposition is vital for democracy and that both parties
should postpone their congresses and come together as once again, the world
and members will understand.
Professor Welshman Ncube and Tsvangirai have to make this tough decision as
part of their leadership challenge. It is not too late to listen to each
other, angry and disappointed as people on both sides are. It is no longer a
question of being right or wrong, or even the truth, it is a matter of
It is better to have a delayed and united congress than a hurried and
divisive congress. Some people agree with Ncube on one point but disagree
with him on another, and the same goes for Tsvangirai.
Both Tsvangirai and Ncube and their followers are not necessarily wrong or
correct on everything. To press ahead with the two separate congresses as it
is will give a hard time to people who respect both leaders but who will be
forced to choose one. It is like forcing children to choose between their
father and mother.
Tsvangirai and Ncube have to think again; some people still consider and
respect them as their leaders. It is hoped that people will not continue to
be put in this awkward position between their leaders. The new parliamentary
caucus set up is yet another scenario putting MDC MPs in a very difficult
and trying position of choosing between pragmatism and moral positions when,
in fact, they need both in politics.
May be it might well be that the leaders reach a point that requires people
to lead them. In such a situation the leaders will have to respect the
possibility that the ordinary members might want to have the final say. The
MDC is a party that prides itself for consulting its membership so the
question is: "Has the leadership consulted the people before taking such a
serious decision of splitting a party which they were given as one six years
ago, and worse still when their mandate has already expired?
No one can, of course, pretend the so called restructuring that was done
after 12 October was more of strategic positioning of loyalists than a
proper renewal of the party, but such is politics.
HOW can men stand by and watch a 70-year-old woman being robbed and yet do
absolutely nothing at all? I stopped for a few seconds to look into a shop
window and a man in beige overalls and hat snatched a gold chain and small
pendant - a gift from my mother 30 years ago - from my throat.
I was either followed or one thief called another on his cellphone to mark
me. I went to the police but they were absolutely not interested.
What sort of a city do we live in that the majority of my friends will not
come into the city centre because they are afraid of the breakdown of law
that now exists?
THE current power struggle between Chester Mhende and Nomutsa Chideya, in
which Sekesai Makwavarara appears to be taking a low profile, shows just how
hopeless the situation in Harare has become.
Can we expect anything good to come out of this bunch of clowns? As Harare
residents, we are not amused that we pay through the nose for these guys to