Journalists arrested in swoop Tue 15 February 2005
HARARE - Zimbabwe state security agents yesterday arrested three senior
correspondents for leading international news agencies as the government
intensified an onslaught on the media ahead of next month's
Officers from the police's law and order section and
agents of the government's spy Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO)
yesterday morning raided the offices of Brian Latham, Angus Shaw and Jaan
Raath and arrested the three journalists.
journalists were still detained at Harare Central police station by late
last night. The police are accusing the journalists of working without being
accredited by the government's Media and Information
Raath works for Times of London, Shaw writes for
Associated Press while Latham writes for several South African papers. Under
the government's draconian Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act, the three could be jailed for up to two years if found guilty of
working as journalists without being registered.
But the trio's
lawyer, Beatrice Mtetwa, denied the journalists had violated any law and
said their arrest was a "clear case of harassment and
Mtetwa said: "They are detained at the police
station and are being accused of working without accreditation. Policemen
and CIO (agents) visited their offices in the morning.
journalists are arguing that they submitted their application forms to the
Media and Information Commission (MIC), which have never been responded to.
It seems to me to be a clear case of harassment and intimidation but we are
working on it."
It could not be immediately established when the
police intend to bring the journalists to court for trial.
arrest of the three journalists is the latest in a three-week crackdown
against the media which saw CIO agents launching a massive manhunt last week
for journalist, Cornelius Nduna. The government agents say they want to
interrogate him in connection with sensitive video tapes in his
In the same week, state prosecutors revived a
three-year old case against newspaper columnist Pius Wakatama in which he is
accused of repeating in one of his columns information gleaned from a story
that was later proved to have been false.
Under the state's
tough press laws, journalists or newspaper columnists can be jailed for up
to two years if found guilty of reporting or writing
ZimOnline broke the story of the joint CIO and police
crackdown on the media three weeks ago, quoting intelligence community
sources who said the onslaught was meant to paralyse the media particularly
the few journalists still stringing for international media in Zimbabwe
ahead of the March poll.
The sources said that the government
wanted to ensure as little coverage as was possible for possible violence
and disturbances during the election, which the government wants to present
as a successful and democratic plebiscite in order to regain international
Meanwhile, it is understood that information ministry
permanent secretary George Charamba has told the Foreign Correspondents
Association of South Africa that their members could apply for accreditation
to cover next month's election but there was no guarantee that all wishing
to report on the poll will be allowed to do so.
yesterday refused to comment on the crackdown against journalists in
Zimbabwe and his failure to guarantee South African foreign correspondents
that all bona fide journalists would be allowed to cover the March 31
election. - ZimOnline
ZANU PF takes propaganda war to new heights Tue 15 February
2005 HARARE - The ruling ZANU PF party has released a book attacking the
evils of colonialism and the main opposition party in a fresh assault to win
the hearts and minds of the electorate ahead of a crucial poll next
The book, "Traitors do much damage to national goals",
released at the launch of the ZANU PF election campaign last Friday, charts
a new course in political demagoguery by the party's propaganda arm in a bid
to sway the electorate to its cause.
President Robert Mugabe
last Friday launched his party's election campaign for the March 31 election
dubbed "the anti-Blair (British premier Tony) election".
accuses the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party of
being a front for the former colonial power Britain out to reverse the gains
of the liberation struggle and oust him from power. The MDC denies the
Couched in coarse language and vitriol, to instil anger
in an unsophisticated peasantry against ZANU PF's perceived enemies, the
book takes the propaganda war to new heights.
prepared by the government's department of information and publicity which
has waged a sustained and vicious propaganda war against the West and the
MDC over the last four years.
With no independent daily newspapers,
radio or television stations, Zimbabweans have had to endure a heavy dosage
of state propaganda harping on the evils of the "white man" from the
This is the first time ZANU PF has
crystallised its propaganda ideology in book form.
language, the book takes a shot at Catholic Archbishop Pius Ncube who has
spoken out against excesses of President Robert Mugabe's
Ncube is lumped among a new generation of traitors
in post-independence Zimbabwe who have teamed up with the enemies of the
state to return the country into the hands of the former
"Before our weary eyes have even dried up from the
astonishments of yesterday, from nowhere . . . rises an even greater phantom
of traitors, more frightening than those from the Second Chimurenga
"Pius Ncube decides to be the Devil himself. Officers of
religion, especially when they have risen so high in ranking to be
archbishop as Pius Ncube now is, are supposed to be peacemakers. The new
breed of clergymen is amazing to say the least," says the book.
ZANU PF also says the Ncube name needs cleansing as it had been soiled by
the likes of Pius Ncube and MDC secretary general Welshman Ncube, Bulawayo
mayor Japhet Ndabeni-Ncube and the MDC legislator Fletcher Dulini-Ncube "who
all seem to have decided to turn the Ncube name into an acronym for
turncoats against the Zimbabwean revolution."
The book attacks the
mayor who has in the past highlighted deaths as a result of starvation in
Zimbabwe's second biggest city. "Every death (in the city) is now being
capitalised on and politicised in order to gain political mileage," says the
The British are not spared either. Making sweeping
generalisations, which cannot stand close scrutiny, ZANU PF blames all the
problems of the world on its former colonial master.
be taken note of here that the problems that the whole world, including what
Africa is suffering under today is a result of England's diabolical greed
and disrespect for other nations created differently from themselves by God
the Almighty," says the book.
"In fact, the epicentre of Hell is in
Britain - and the Queen or King in power at that moment, is the Devil
himself or herself." - ZimOnline
High Court judge wants tribunal disbanded Tue 15 February
2005 HARARE - High Court Judge Benjamin Paradza wants a tribunal appointed
to investigate him disbanded allegedly because President Robert Mugabe
breached the law when setting up the committee.
application filed at the Supreme Court this month, Paradza said Mugabe erred
when he did not personally appoint the tribune and instead allowed Justice
Minister Patrick Chinamasa to appoint the members of the board with the
assistance of chief justices of three other countries.
application reads in part: "The decisions necessary for the selection of the
tribunal were not his (Mugabe) own but an amalgam of decisions of the fourth
respondent (Chinamasa) and the chief justices of three other countries .if,
as the applicant contends, the tribunal has not been validly appointed then
it is a nullity ab initio and its proceedings are vitiated."
Paradza is being probed for allegedly attempting to defeat the course of
justice when he phoned a Bulawayo High Court judge to release the passport
of his friend and business partner, Russell Labuschagne.
Labuschagne, who is serving a 15-year jail term for the murder of a
fisherman two years ago, was being held in remand prison awaiting trial for
the murder. His passport and other documents had been seized by the
authorities as precaution from fleeing the country.
arrested from his Harare High Court chambers in 2003 and charged with
attempting to defeat the course of justice. His trial has been suspended to
allow for the tribunal process to be completed.
Members of the
tribune appointed by Mugabe last year to probe Paradza are Justices Dennis
Konani Chirwa of Zambia, John Mroso of Tanzania and Isaac Mtambo of Malawi.
The three judges are first, second and third respondent respectively while
Chinamasa and Mugabe are fourth and fifth respondents.
contends that Mugabe should have personally handpicked the tribunal instead
of delegating the function to Chinamasa and the three foreign chief
"The fifth respondent misconceived his jurisdiction . . .
firstly, he considered that section 31 H permitted him to abdicate his power
and duty of selection to the fourth respondent (Chinamasa) (by unlawful
delegation, which he confused with lawful agency) and, through him in turn,
to foreign functionaries," Paradza said.
Chinamasa could not be
reached for comment on the matter yesterday. The matter has not been set
down yet. - ZimOnline
Attorney General revives court cases against MDC
activists Tue 15 February 2005 HARARE - The main opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) party says Attorney General Sobuza Gula-Ndebele is
reviving old cases against its activists and pushing forward fresh cases in
a bid to hamstring its campaign ahead of next month's election.
The party's parliamentary chief whip Innocent Gonese said some of the
activists had been removed from remand but were surprised to receive
summonses last week to appear in court over cases they thought had been
Gonese, who is a lawyer and is handling some of the
MDC activists' cases, said: "We are now busy working on legal representation
and assuring our supporters that they are just being targeted because of the
"Some of the people I am representing had their cases
brought forward from March 3 to February 18. Others had already been removed
from remand but have now been summoned back to court. The whole idea is to
sabotage our campaign by making sure that our activists become afraid to
participate because of the pending cases."
Gonese could not
give the total number of MDC activists whose cases have been resuscitated so
It was not possible to get a comment from Gula-Ndebele with
his office consistently insisting since last week that he was either out of
his office or too busy to take questions from the journalists.
But officials at Gula-Ndebele's offices told ZimOnline that prosecutors
around the country had been ordered to revive charges against MDC activists
that had been dropped because of lack of evidence.
The police, who
have been accused by the African Commission on Human and People's Rights of
bias against the opposition, routinely charge MDC activists for political
violence or for breaching the draconian Public Order and Security Act. But
most of the cases are always dropped due to lack of evidence.
senior prosecutor at the AG's office, who did not want to be named, said:
"Some of the suspects have already been summoned to appear in court and
trial dates have been set for this week while others will be summoned
"The move is to bog them down with court cases. This will
cool them off and it is believed most of them will not involve themselves in
political activism if they know they are already being tried for
The MDC battles it out with the
ruling ZANU PF party in a key general election scheduled for March 31 after
the opposition party rescinded two weeks ago an earlier decision to boycott
the poll unless the political playing field was levelled. - ZimOnline
Women protesters demand violence-free election Tue 15
February 2005 HARARE - About 200 members of the Women of Zimbabwe Arise
(WOZA) activist group demonstrated in Harare on Valentine's Day yesterday
demanding a violence-free election next month.
written "The power of love can conquer the love of power", the women marched
through the streets before the police dispersed them.
last night, there were no reports of any arrests of the WOZA activists.
About 53 members of the group were arrested in the city of Bulawayo last
Saturday during a pre-Valentine's Day march for a peaceful poll next
All but four of the women arrested in Bulawayo were released
yesterday after paying admission of guilty fines of Z$25 000 each. The four
still in police custody are expected to appear in court today to answer to
charges of blocking traffic, their lawyer said. - ZimOnline
Mbeki pushes for SADC delegation to Harare Tue 15 February
2005 CAPE TOWN - South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki yesterday urged the
Southern African Development Community (SADC) to quickly dispatch a
delegation to Zimbabwe to help ensure a free and fair election next
Mbeki was last month expected to lead a high-powered team to
Harare to see whether President Mugabe had fully complied with SADC
guidelines governing elections agreed by the regional bloc last
Press reports say Mugabe was refusing to sanction the
But yesterday, Mbeki expressed optimism that Mugabe would
not stand in the way of the SADC team.
Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) party has given its powerful
trade union ally the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) the
go-ahead to blockade Zimbabwe's lifeline border post in solidarity with its
Zimbabwean trade union counterparts.
A COSATU team led by the
union's secretary general Zwelinzima Vavi which sought to assess the plight
of workers and whether conditions in Zimbabwe were conducive for free and
fair elections next month, was kicked out of the country earlier this
COSATU immediately threatened to blockade Zimbabwe's borders
ANC, which criticised COSATU's ill-fated
earlier visit to Zimbabwe, had initially opposed plans by the union to
blockade Zimbabwe's borders. This time, the ANC has given the union tacit
approval to proceed with its plans of a blockade while it pursues its policy
of "quiet diplomacy" against Harare.
COSATU is still to set a
date for the mass action. - ZimOnline
Zimbabwe's cricket greenhorns face SA whitewash Tue 15
February 2005 HARARE - Captain Tatenda Taibu and his inexperienced Zimbabwe
crew touch down in Johannesburg today facing prospects of a humiliating
whitewash at the hands of South Africa in a three one-day international
South Africa at the weekend wrapped up a one-day
international series victory over England, whose second-string side did not
raise a sweat to thump the Zimbabweans last December.
have not included any of the experienced white players who walked out on
national duty last April to protest the dismissal of Heath Streak from the
captaincy despite "promising talks" to woo the rebels back.
Speculation was rife most of the rebels would make a comeback following
Zimbabwe's humiliating loss to lowly Bangladesh in a Test and one-day
But a Zimbabwe Cricket board member said
yesterday the selectors had not been given the go-ahead yet to consider the
"The issue is still in the hands of an ad hoc committee
which is independent of Zimbabwe Cricket and once we are briefed on the
progress of the talks, maybe we will consider the rebels. So at the moment
we select from what we have," the director said, who preferred not to be
Zimbabwe have made three changes to the squad that toured
Bangladesh last month, with vice-captain DionEbrahim the notable
Hamilton Masakadza takes over the vice-captaincy in the
three one-dayers, but Ebrahim will be back for two Tests to be played
Meanwhile, Zimbabwe Cricket has employed a controversial
secretary who was once implicated in a US$125 000 financial scandal that
left local rugby teetering on the brink of collapse last year.
Janice Johnny, a former office administrator at the Zimbabwe Rugby Union
(ZRU), is now secretary to Zimbabwe Cricket operations manager Qhubekani
Nkala. It could not be established when Johnny started her new job at
Zimbabwe Cricket, but she has been picking Nkala's calls for the past
Johnny last year left her ZRU job after being
accused of conniving with a senior executive there to divert to personal use
part of the money given to the union by the International Rugby Union as
Both Nkala and Johnny could not be
reached for comment on the matter yesterday. - ZimOnline
THE MDC - taking a cue from Zanu PF - says it will take
stern disciplinary action against its legislators threatening to cause chaos
for Zimbabwe's main opposition party after losing intra-party primaries to
contest the March 31 parliamentary polls.
The ruling party has since
warned those who lost in the party's primary elections that they risked
expulsion if they stood as independents. Disgruntled opposition party
stalwarts, who have fallen by the wayside after losing primaries to stand
for the MDC in the crucial general elections, have become hostile towards
their colleagues and vowed to disrupt party activities in their
Gonese not amused
MDC chief whip Innocent Gonese
did not take the threats lightly. Yesterday, he said the party would crack
the whip on dissenting voices intending to sow seeds of confusion and
despondency in the opposition party that has become a thorn in the flesh for
the ruling Zanu PF. "As a party we are going to take disciplinary measures
provided for by our constitution at the right time," Gonese said. He
refused to say when the MDC would "whip" the rebels into line, saying the
party's focus now was on the parliamentary polls. "As for now, we have
not looked at any particular matter. We have not actually done anything
about it, but disciplinary action would be taken in due course," Gonese
said. A number of seating MDC parliamentarians lost intra-party polls to
select candidates for next month's election and have vowed to de-campaign
the opposition party, a development critics say threatened to tear apart the
country's biggest opposition party since the old ZAPU. Among the losers
are incumbent Mabvuku legislator Justin Mutendadzamera, Dunmore Makuwaza
(Mbare East), Tichaona Munyanyi (Mbare West) and Silas Mangono (Masvingo
Central). Munyanyi and Makuwaza lost the almagamated Mbare constituency to
the party's deputy secretary- general Gift Chimanikire. Mutendadzamera,
Makuwaza and Munyanyi have publicly declared their desire to disrupt MDC
activities in their constituencies, while Mangono has vowed to contest the
March 31 polls on an opposition ticket; despite being defeated by lawyer
Tongai Matutu in an election he alleges was "fixed". MDC President Morgan
Tsvangirai reportedly presided over the controversial poll whose results
Mangono is vigorously challenging. After losing the opposition's right to
stand in Mabvuku, Mutendadzamera threatened an "eye-for-an-eye" for his
erstwhile political colleagues. "I am going to do all I can to bar him from
campaigning in the constituency. I am a seasoned political activist who has
seen it all. The people of Mabvuku do not want him because the party
leadership imposed him on them. We are going to treat (Timothy) Mubhawu
worse than we would Zanu PF," Mutendadzamera said. Mubhawu, the
opposition party's Manicaland provincial chairman, won the controversial
primaries in Mabvuku last year and elbowed out Mutendadzamera. In Mbare,
Makuwaza, who is believed an independent, sang from the same song as
Mutendadzamera. "Some members of the national executive have manipulated the
outcome in Chimanikire's favour, and as a result I urge all our supporters
not to vote for him in the coming polls. I am not going to give in. I
declare myself the candidate," Makuwaza said. Another seating MDC
legislator, Gabriel Chaibva (Harare South), has lost the right to stand for
the opposition party in next month's elections to newcomer James Mushonga in
a poll held last Sunday. Yesterday, Chaibva confirmed losing the primary
election, saying: "We held primary elections yesterday (Sunday). I lost to
James Mushonga." Kuwadzana legislator and national youth chairman who
presided over the poll Nelson Chamisa said: "James Mushonga is the winner of
the Harare South primary election that were held on Sunday, but I do not
have the figures, all I know is that he won." Meanwhile, the MDC
completed its primary elections in all the 120 constituencies. "We are
completing our primary elections in Rushinga today (yesterday) and are ready
for the parliamentary elections," MDC organising secretary Esaph Mdlongwa
Chinamasa invites local observers for
The Daily Mirror Reporter issue date
THE government has invited local organisations and persons
interested in observing the forthcoming general elections for
accreditation. In a statement the Minister of Justice, Legal and
Parliamentary Affairs Patrick Chinamasa, said those interested should submit
their names and constitutions to his ministry before February 18 for
accreditation by the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC). Observing
the poll, which is slated for March 31, would be at the expense of the
organisations or persons involved, Chinamasa said. Section 14 of the
Electoral Act authorises the Justice Minister to invite local
observers. "Accreditation will be done by the Electoral Supervisory
Commission (ESC) upon production of a letter of invitation from the Minister
of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, a national identity card and
the requisite fee of $100 000 per individual," said Chinamasa. Chinamasa
said accredited observers would be expected to furnish the ESC with two
reports, one after voting but before counting and another within 14 days
Students protest over food,destroy school
The Daily Mirror Reporter issue date
STUDENTS at the United Methodist Church-run Nyamuzuwe High
School in Mutoko last Friday boycotted lessons and went on the rampage,
destroying school property in protest over poor quality food. According
to sources at the school, trouble at the educational institution started at
lunchtime when students rejected food they claimed was bad. The protest comes
amid allegations that food at the school was badly prepared and its quality
not in line with fees charged. Nyamuzuwe High hiked its fees from $250 000
last year to $2,5 million this year. During last week's disturbances,
plates and other kitchen utensils were destroyed and, according to the
sources, the dust only settled after school authorities came to address
students with promises of improvements in the quality of meals. However,
students refused to go for afternoon lessons and demanded another meal that
was served shortly after 3pm. "The students only calmed down after being told
that another meal would be prepared. Friday's problem did not start with the
protest. It has been there for some time, with no one addressing it, hence
the disturbances," said one of the sources. Yesterday, the school's
headmaster could not be reached at the institution but the school's senior
master, only identified as Kaserere confirmed the incident, but refused to
give details. "I am not authorised to comment, but everything is back to
normal now," he said curtly.
Grain Marketing Board (GMB) is battling to recover household property from
former boss Martin Muchero, arguing that he bought it fraudulently in a 2000
scam that prejudiced the cash-strapped parastatal of substantial amounts of
money. Muchero, together with Harare businessman Lastworth Kadirire, have
since been convicted of the offence and fined by a magistrate's
court. They were found guilty of fraud after misrepresenting that $415 000
had been used in 1988 to buy furniture for the parastatal's boardroom, when,
in fact, Muchero had also bought his home furniture from the same
money. The property was purchased from a Harare firm, Global Systems run by
Kadirire for $229 800, but the two allegedly inflated the figures on the
invoice presented to the GMB, leading to their arrest in 2000. In an
interview with The Daily Mirror, GMB's loss control manager, Wilson Ncube
said: "We are trying to recover the property, but Muchero has refused to
give us the property. We have sent people to collect it, but he has
indicated that he will not deliver it back on grounds he wants to appeal in
the courts." Ncube could not immediately provide details regarding the
contested property. And yesterday, the personal assistant to Muchero's
lawyer Jonathan Samkange, of Byron and Venturas, who identified herself only
as Farai, said they could not comment on the issue as their client still had
other outstanding court cases pending against the parastatal. "We can not
comment because we have boxes and boxes of Mr Muchero's cases against the
GMB which are pending in the courts. Worse still, Mr Samkange is still
outside the country," she said. Muchero yesterday said: " When they came I
referred them to the judgment. It shows that I paid." Press reports on
Muchero's conviction also indicate that he subsequently paid for the
ill-gotten properties. The drama comes hardly days after reports that the
parastatal's regional manager for the Midlands, Goodwill Shiri, will be
hauled before a disciplinary hearing on allegations of abusing GMB maize
grain and trucks in his failed bid to represent Zanu PF in parliament in
next month's general elections. While Shiri has vehemently denied the
allegations, the GMB however, insists that he indeed abused his authority in
Mberengwa East where he locked horns with and lost the ruling party primary
poll to the Minister of State for State Enterprises and Parastatals, Rugare
Gumbo, the incumbent MP.
THE Harare City Council
is finally consulting residents on the draft budget it presented last week,
following complaints that the commission running the affairs of the capital
was sidelining them on decisions that directly affect their
lives. However, the Combined Harare Residents' Association (CHRA) sees the
last-minute move by the council as a nonevent, saying it was senseless to
draft the budget without the residents' input - only to consult after the
process had been completed. Critics said what the municipality did was
like putting the cart before the horse, conferring with ratepayers when
council had already endorsed the draft budget. CHRA chairman, Mike
Davies, quickly dismissed the exercise as futile, advising that council
should have consulted residents first before compiling the draft
budget. "They said the draft budget was completed last week and it doesn't
make sense to consult residents now when the whole process was completed.
This shows how contemptuous the commission regards residents," Davies
said. He was pessimistic that the residents' views would be adopted, since
the whole process had already been completed. Compiling Harare's budget
met with a number of problems, resulting in the presentation being suspended
on three occasions. Leslie Gwindi, City of Harare's spokesperson, said the
residents' views would be included in the final budget. "We finished the
draft budget last week and now we are going around suburbs to get input of
the residents before amendments are made," he said. On why they were
consulting residents now, Gwindi said: "The important thing is we are
getting their views now and the meetings we had today were successful. Their
views would be included and that's what matters." There was no time frame for
the budget to be presented to the public, Gwindi argued.
HARARE police yesterday raided the
offices of the Associated Press (AP) in the capital thrice, alleging that
the news agency harboured journalists who were involved in spying, prominent
lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa has said. Mtetwa, of Kantor and Immerman, told The
Daily Mirror the police search drew a blank. Said Mtetwa: "I was called
to the office and the police were there. They (the police) said they had
received information that the journalists were engaging in spying
activities. They searched for the evidence, but they found nothing." At
the time of the raid freelance journalist Jan Raath, and former Daily News
chief photographer Tsvangirai Mukwazhi, were in the office. Mtetwa added that
the police raided the offices on three separate occasions, and on the last
demanded press cards issued by the Media and Information Commission (MIC),
which the newsmen failed to produce. The lawyer explained that the
journalists were not yet accredited, but provided the police with receipts
showing that they submitted their applications and the MIC was working on
their papers. MIC boss Tafataona Mahoso could not be reached for comment at
the time of going to press last night. Police chief national spokesperson
Wayne Bvudzijena yesterday professed ignorance on the matter. "We do not
have any information on that effect," he said. One of the journalists who was
quizzed said the policemen wanted to confiscate their computers and cameras,
but retreated only when Mtetwa arrived. The journalists, who declined to
be named, added that prior to their lawyer's arrival the police questioned
the scribes for more than an hour. But Angus Shaw, the AP correspondent in
Harare, said: "I arrived when they were about to go. I gather they are from
CID. They went back after the arrival of our lawyer and said they would
come back." He refused to provide more details and referred all questions to
their lawyer. Since 2000 the police have pounced on dozens of journalists
on charges of violating the restrictive Access to Information and Protection
of Privacy Act (Aippa) as well as the Public Order and Security Act
Claims of Zimbabwe's economic recovery mask a
collapse in social services
By Terry Bell
Town - Zimbabwe's economic performance has improved. This is being trumpeted
by acting finance minister Herbert Murerwa and by reserve bank governor
Gideon Gono, who is playing an ever larger role in economic
"It is a fact that there has been an improvement," says
economist Godfrey Kanyenze. "But these things are relative and have to be
seen in context."
Kanyenze and a team at the Labour and
Economic Development Research Institute feel there will be further
improvements in the various economic indices, but at even greater cost to
the already impoverished majority of the population.
out that the government is managing to improve its economic performance but
is cutting back still further on social spending.
"Cost recovery is
now the name of the game," says Kanyenze. "This concept was employed in the
health sector and has now been extended to schools. These institutions have
simply been told that they now have to pay their own way."
because the majority of Zimbabweans can no longer afford health services,
the revenue base for hospitals and clinics has all but
Even the slavishly pro-government Herald newspaper
recently admitted that the once prestigious Harare general hospital was "in
There are no accurate figures, but it is generally
admitted that increasing numbers of children are dropping out of school as
the fees become prohibitive.
However, there has been no backing
off the statement made in November by Murerwa that even examination fees
should be subject to "cost recovery levels".
These moves, as
well as better control of the foreign exchange market, mean that the
government can truthfully boast that economic indicators have shown marked
Year-on-year inflation, for example, officially stood
at 622 percent in January last year. By last December it was probably
comfortably within the initial target of 200 percent.
now announced that the economy was on track to lower inflation to between 30
percent and 50 percent by the end of the year and to dip into single figures
This has been described as "pure fantasy" by Tendai
Biti, the shadow finance minister for the opposition Movement for Democratic
Kanyenze's assessment is slightly more diplomatic. He
notes: "On the basis of the evidence, I would say it is extremely
Gono's projections appear to be based on
what seem to be wildly optimistic assumptions published in Murerwa's 2005
budget statement. This assumes a 28 percent increase in the performance of
the agricultural sector this year.
Other assumptions are that
there will be a surge in productive investment and that the foreign exchange
position will improve with an projected increase in tourism.
These factors are supposed to see Zimbabwe's gross domestic product (GDP)
rise by 5 percent.
Last week the reserve bank admitted there was a
gross shortfall in agricultural production and called for a move to "command
agriculture". But the projections remain unchanged.
country with virtually no national savings to draw on and where real GDP
declined by a cumulative 28.4 percent between 1999 and 2003, the idea of a
rise in GDP does seem fanciful," Kanyenze agrees.
He also points
out that economic growth has continued to decline over the past two years,
although at a slower rate.
"But now we have the 'Look East' policy.
Perhaps China is supposed to provide the investment," he says.
There are no accurate crop estimates, but even before the reserve bank's
latest revelation, it was privately agreed in government departments that
there would again be a large shortfall in the production of staples such as
Tourism has also collapsed, with some hotels reporting
occupancy rates as low as 12 percent. Attempts by the government to stamp
out the thriving parallel foreign exchange market have also had a negative
Hotels have now been instructed that all foreign visitors
must pay their bills in US dollars, sterling, euros or rands. This is done
at a rate of exchange lower than the official rate, which, in turn, is
nearly half the rate offered illegally "on the street".
parallel market is any guide to the real value of the Zimbabwe dollar, the
exchange rate for the rand varies from Z$1 500 to Z$1 800, while the US
dollar fetches up to Z$10 000.
"It makes for an economic and
political situation that is like a piece of elastic that has been stretched
and stretched," says Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general
"It becomes harder to stretch it more before it
snaps, and if and when it does, Africa will face a major disaster."
12, 2005 Posted to the web February 14,
MANUFACTURERS, service providers and other market
players have come under attack from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
governor, Dr Gideon Gono, for inducing inflationary pressures in the economy
through unwarranted price adjustments.
This comes in the wake of a
rise in the rate of inflation for January by 0,9 percent to 133,6 percent at
a time when monetary authorities had hoped to maintain the deceleration that
began last year.
The Central Statistical Office attributed the rise to
increases in food prices, rents and rates, education fees and
Commenting on the statistics, Dr Gono said such a trend
would not be tolerated.
"The January 2005 annual inflation outcome of
133,6 percent, underpinned by a monthly inflation rate of 14,1 percent,
comes as an unfortunate disappointment to monetary authorities as this has
marginally reversed the inflation-reduction gains, which had seen annual
inflation decline to 132,7 percent by December 2004," said Dr Gono
The steep price adjustments witnessed of late threatened to
derail the gains made on the inflation front so far. The central bank would
soon engage market players on the matter.
"The economy cannot
continue to be saddled by these unjustified price increases by service
providers as much of the increases are largely exerting a tax on consumers
for inherent service provider inefficiencies, as well as going towards
bloated profits in some instances.
"Where malpractices are detected, the
relevant Government authorities will be called in to ensure redress,"
quipped Dr Gono.
He reiterated the need for stakeholders to exercise
restraint on prices and incomes policies to ensure a successful
In this regard, RBZ employees and management had
agreed on a 95 percent salary increase for the whole of this year "as a
modest contribution to the need for a social contract to stabilise inflation
The rest of the financial sector, industry and commerce, among
others sectors of the economy were encouraged to follow
"Equally, we call upon producers and retailers of goods and
services to calibrate their price adjustments to underlying costs, and not
index price increases to imagined, unrealistic benchmarks that can only be
justified as sheer profiteering."
Further tightening of the money
market liquidity conditions would be expected to weed out speculative
trading activities and non-productive demand for credit.
for the banking sector to expertly manage their funding positions to avoid
disruption to the banking public.
Furthermore, the Parastatals and Local
Authorities Reorientation Programme currently underway would also be
expected to rid the productive system of inflationary rigidities and supply
bottlenecks to boost the economy's overall supply response.
also promised to review the total foreign currency made available for
importers on the auction to encourage more productive activities.
remained resolute that the inflation target for this year would be
"As monetary authorities we are confident that the current
measures, supported by responsible pricing and wage demands for this year,
will see us collectively reduce annual inflation to the targeted range of
between 20 percent and 35 percent by December 2005 and to single digit
during the first half of 2006," said Dr Gono.
significantly reduced from 622,8 percent in January last year to 132,7
percent in December.
This was largely attributed to tight monetary
conditioned maintained last year supported by fiscal
Initiatives to increase production capacity, largely through
the Productive Sector Facility, also contributed to burst the inflation
Staff Reporter Last updated: 02/15/2005 13:10:14 ZIMBABWE'S government on
Monday dished out more than a US$1 million to the country's two main
political parties as part of the annual grant they are entitled to under
State radio cited Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa as saying the
ruling Zanu-PF party received about Zim$3,3 billion (US$530 000) while the
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) got Zim$3,1
Under the country's Political Finances Act, a political party
has to have a minimum of five percent of the total parliamentary seats to
qualify for the State funding.
The MDC has slighly more than 30% of
the total parliamentary seats in the 150-strong legislature, dominated by
the governing party.
Zimbabwe holds parliamentary elections on March 31
in which President Robert Mugabe's party aims to further consolidate its
nearly 25-year-old stranglehold on power.
HARARE, Feb. 14 (Xinhuanet) --
Zimbabwe's industry should come up with ways and technologies of adding
value to products so as to earn more foreign exchange, Science and
Technology Development Minister Olivia Muchena said here on
Export of unprocessed products was not beneficial,
while products such as minerals had by-products that could be used for the
country's benefit, said Muchena when addressing a two-day strategic planning
workshop under the theme "Consolidating Science and Technology toward the
Attainment of Sustainable Development 2005-2010."
a systematic approach of unleashing the power of science and technology to
'leapfrog' development in the country," she said.
value addition would minimize the number of cases in which Zimbabweans
imported expensive goods made from Zimbabwean raw
As the Zimbabwean economy was based on economy,
there was need to find out how to use technologies in value added products
such as soya beans and small grains, she said.
presenting the fourth quarter monetary policy, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
Governor Gideon Gono said "focus on increased value addition is also
strategic in terms of employment creation, as well as raising the general
level of internal resource utilization." Enditem