February 15, 2013 in News, Politics
PARTISAN politics has marred the on-going voter registration exercise
countrywide with reports from civil society groups and MDC-T officials in
Manicaland, Mashonaland Central and Matabeleland alleging that village heads
and various registration offices are prohibiting people from registering to
vote on the basis of their political affiliation.
Tendai Marima/Herbert Moyo
The voter registration exercise launched last month by the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission (Zec) has also come under the spotlight after police
this week raided offices of the National Youth Development Trust in Bulawayo
and Zimbabwe Peace Project in Harare confiscating mobile phones and office
equipment alleging the groups were involved in illegal voter registration
Last week hordes of army, police officers and their relatives were
reportedly being bussed in from barracks and camps in Harare and Bulawayo
allegedly for forced registration.
MDC-T national spokesperson and Nyanga North MP Douglas Mwonzora told the
Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday that party supporters in his constituency
were being turned away by officials and village heads were refusing to issue
them with letters required as proof of residence.
“Most youths in my area are being turned away at the registry office in
Nyamaropa. They are not registering people at all,” said Mwonzora.
“One day people go to register and they (officials) say they are not
registering, the next day they would say they have too many people, even if
only 20 people would have come. People are not being given letters by their
kraal heads and some are charging people US$1 for the letter.”
Mwonzora further alleged there were Zanu PF supporters resident in
Mozambique crossing the Kairezi River on the Zimbabwe-Mozambique border to
register in Nyanga, while MDC supporters resident in Zimbabwe were being
Details received by the Independent on Wednesday showed in the Zanu PF
stronghold of Mashonaland Central, village heads called for meetings where
they decided to refuse to register MDC supporters.
Sources say village heads are collecting photocopies of people’s identity
documents to keep a register of those registered to vote, but residents in
these rural communities fear the photocopies could be used to track down
opposition supporters in future.
Thabani Moyo, director of Bulawayo Agenda, said there were numerous problems
in the Matabeleland provinces and blamed Zec for lack of organisation.
Moyo also said Lupane village heads were refusing to register people because
they are not accepting voter registration as a government but political
party initiative while in parts of Hwange those intending to register are
reportedly being charged US$2.
“The reports we are getting are that people in Gwanda, Lupane, Gokwe, Hwange
and Bulawayo are experiencing challenges with people accessing voter
registration because of the manner in which Zec is conducting itself,” said
“In Lupane, traditional leaders are not upfront; they are not willing to
give people letters because they say voter registration is not a national
process, but a party-driven process so people are told to go to their
parties and register.”
He added the lack of uniformity in voter registration requirements and the
registration process raised fears of a low voter turnout in the
constitutional referendum and general election due to be held this year.
“We are concerned at the lack of preparedness and we fear this will reduce
the number of people who will come out to vote.”
Meanwhile, the Registrar-General (RG) and Zec have been accused of abetting
the military’s intervention in the make-or-break polls.
Sources told this paper the RG’s Office has set up a clandestine satellite
voter registration point at the United Bulawayo Hospitals’ out-patients
department catering exclusively for soldiers.
“It is a secret unmarked point consisting of one table which is supposed to
be known only by the soldiers who are bussed in from their barracks at
Imbizo and One Brigade Headquarters to register as voters. They have letters
signed by their commanders confirming proof of residence,” said one source.
Bulawayo East MP Thabitha Khumalo (MDC-T) said it was disturbing that the
out-patients department had been turned into a voter registration point for
soldiers who are being bussed in from as far as Mbalabala in Matabeleland
South and even Manicaland.
“They (Zanu PF) have realised that it will be difficult to win, hence these
desperate measures,” said Khumalo.
The MDC aspiring candidate for Bulawayo Central Qhubani Moyo expressed
outrage over the satellite voter registration point and said he would be
filing a complaint with Zec.
“Clearly, the credibility of the elections is under threat and I will be
engaging Zec,” said Moyo. “It (Zec) must put its house in order and act on
the illegal behaviour of the Registrar-General,” he said, adding that the
electoral body should “shoulder the blame for the intervention of the
military which is trying to save (President) Robert Mugabe from defeat”.
Zec did not respond to the questions sent to them.
February 15, 2013 in News, Politics
PRIMARY elections are set to be fiercely contested across the political
divide as the new draft constitution presents new dynamics with regards to
the election of senators.
Most senior politicians had expressed their intentions to contest senatorial
positions leaving a new crop of young turks battling for House of Assembly
Some were even working closely with aspiring MPs with the hope they would
represent their respective parties in senatorial elections.
However, the new constitution proposes that the senate consists of 80
members, of whom six are elected from each of the country’s provinces by a
system of proportional representation.
Sixteen are chiefs, with two being elected by the provincial assembly of
chiefs from each of the provinces, excluding the metropolitan provinces.
There are also the president and vice-president of the National Council of
Chiefs and two elected to represent persons with disabilities.
The draft constitution says women should be given special preferences in
party lists. The new charter also states that male and female candidates be
listed alternately, with every list being headed by a female candidate.
The new constitutional requirements present a challenge for most political
bigwigs from all parties who have been propping up young hopefuls in order
to take over as MPs in their previous constituencies.
One aspiring Zanu PF MP said the new charter has forced those who wanted to
join the Upper House change their minds as senatorial appointment is no
longer in their control.
“This new requirement has presented challenges to most of us who were being
groomed to contest the parliamentary elections,” said an aspiring Zanu PF
MP. “What it means is that focus has shifted towards the primaries because
old guard officials who were eying the senate are now back in the ring.
Imagine I now have to contest with my mentor and sponsor in the primaries,”
A source within Copac said parties need to educate their members on the new
draft constitution because some party members are already on the ground
campaigning to be senators, yet the onus would be on the party to select
senators based on proportional representation.
In Zanu PF, battle lines are already drawn as the old guard is campaigning
for senatorial positions. In Masvingo Callisto Gwanetsa is gearing to square
off for a Chiredzi senatorial seat with Masvingo governor Titus Maluleke.
Retired Colonel Claudius Makova will battle it out with former Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono’s adviser Munyaradzi Kereke for the Bikita West
The Chivi senate seat is eyed by former Masvingo governor Josaya Hungwe and
Samuel Mumbengegwi, while Dzikamai Mavhaire will face competition from
Clemence Makwarimba. Whilst most MDC-T senators were strategically
positioning themselves secretly, Chisipite senator and Justice deputy
minister Obert Gutu has been openly on the ground vigorously campaigning to
retain his senatorial post.
February 15, 2013 in News, Politics
NATIONAL Constitutional Assembly (NCA) chairperson Lovemore Madhuku has
described as “nonsense” and “meaningless” the move by the inclusive
government to hold a referendum on the draft constitution in four weeks’
time, saying it gave insufficient time for people to study the document.
Madhuku said this in an interview yesterday following Wednesday’s
announcement by Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric
Matinenga that the referendum would be on March 16. Matinenga said his
ministry would hold two meetings per province while Copac would hold one
meeting in each district to explain the draft to the people in the run-up to
the referendum. But Madhuku described Matinenga’s pronouncement as
“ridiculous”, and indicated the NCA would wait for the gazetting of the
draft constitution expected today before filing a High Court application to
halt the process and allow people to get two months to go through the draft
constitution. Coordinator of the International Socialist Organisation
Munyaradzi Gwisai has slammed the constitution-making process saying it
fails to address “fundamental issues of severe poverty, gender and social
February 15, 2013 in News, Politics
ZIMBABWE Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Justice Simpson
Mutambanengwe was allegedly pushed out of the electoral body for his
outspokenness and independent views by a Zanu PF clique that viewed him as a
danger to their political survival ahead of watershed elections, according
to senior government sources.
Mutambanengwe was appointed Zec chairperson in 2010 but some Zanu PF
stalwarts expressed reservations about his suitability for such an important
Mutambanengwe’s resignation comes hot on the heels of Zimbabwe Human Rights
Commission chairperson Regis Austin’s departure under unclear circumstances.
Sources said Mutambanengwe was summoned to the Ministry of Justice and
forced to step down immediately purportedly on health grounds. His forced
resignation was said to have been immediately accepted by President Robert
Mugabe and communicated to the state-controlled daily Herald as a
“Mutambanengwe was called to Minister (of Justice Patrick) Chinamasa’s
office where he was told to resign immediately,” the source said.
“Shockingly Mugabe was said to have agreed to the resignation and the issue
was released to the Herald for publication.”
Ironically, Mutambanengwe has no known medical condition that has troubled
him in the last two years or been admitted to a medical institution during
Another source said the “resignation” was timed to coincide with the
announcement of the date of the much-awaited referendum to prevent it from
becoming the talk of the town.
Chinamasa was not immediately available for comment.
The prime minister’s office has expressed shock and surprise at the sudden
resignation of Mutambanengwe and is frantically seeking a meeting with him
“We were taken by surprise and we are currently trying to meet him to get to
the bottom of the issue,” said a senior staffer in the prime minister’s
A cabinet minister confirmed that moves to remove Mutambanengwe started last
year and intensified in the past few weeks.
“Mutambanengwe was asked to relocate to Zimbabwe from Namibia in December
last year or to resign from Zec,” the minister said. “When he came we all
thought he would continue, but he is said to have resigned from the blue.”
A senior civil servant close to the Ministry of Justice confirmed some
government officials were not comfortable with his independent mindedness.
“The idea of pushing him out has been in escalated motion since around
December last year. They feared his outspokenness and independence,
especially ahead of the elections,” the official said.
The sources said Mugabe is unlikely to appoint a substantive Zec chairperson
before the elections, thus leaving room for deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe
to take charge of the referendum and elections.
Kazembe was Zec deputy chairperson during the controversial 2008 elections
when the electoral body took five weeks to announce the presidential poll
Zanu PF hawks, according to sources, also never really forgave Mutambanengwe
for his support for the Nhari rebellion during the liberation struggle.
February 15, 2013 in News, Politics
THE current stampede by local politicians to represent their parties as
candidates in the next crucial elections expected later this year further
shows they view political office, not as a means to serve the public, but a
route towards business and wealth accumulation, analysts say.
While politicians claim this is democracy at work, the conduct of ministers
and MPs during the inclusive government demonstrates they are more concerned
with self-aggrandisement than service delivery.
As reported in this paper last week, ministers from the three main parties
in the coalition government are demanding exit packages consisting of houses
in leafy suburbs, residential stands and top-of-the-range vehicles which
they want delivered before the Government of National Unity (GNU)’s tenure
ends in June.
Analysts say it is the realisation that political office offers huge
material benefits which has triggered the ongoing mad rush across parties by
officials who want to contest primary polls and feature as candidates in the
Development specialist Maxwell Saungweme said the demand of houses, cars and
stands by ministers has created the ongoing jostling by senior party
officials to stand as candidates in the next elections. He also said
ministers’ requests were outrageous given their monumental failures in
“After presiding over the collapse of the education and other social service
sectors in the country, and squandering millions in dubious processes like
the constitutional review exercise, these politicians want to get pensions
in the form of houses and cars for the disservice they have rendered to the
nation,” Saungweme said.
Long-suffering Zimbabweans’ initial relief at the formation of the unity
government comprising erstwhile rivals, Zanu PF and the two MDC formations
with expectations of a new start was short-lived as hope soon turned into
despair when the three parties conspired to establish a bloated cabinet with
44 ministers, including the Attorney General who is ex-officio.
This was exacerbated by the appointment of a further 10 governors and 19
deputy ministers who enjoy ministerial perks although they do not sit in
cabinet or act as ministers when the incumbents are away.
Each of the ministers received two personal vehicles in 2009 upon assuming
office and they got a new fleet in 2011, which included Land Rover
Discoveries, latest Mercedes Benz E-class, Jeep Cherokees, Toyota SUVs and
Isuzu KB320 D-techs, among other brands.
However, Education minister David Coltart broke ranks with colleagues when
he turned down some of the executive perks on moral grounds. He said it was
untenable to squander so much money of cars while learning institutions
received paltry funding.
Finance minister Tendai Biti has complained about VIP’s endless foreign
trips, which gobble millions of dollars, with very little to show for the
These benefits were also extended to MPs and councillors at local
authorities. MPs and councillors also received perks that among other things
included off-road Isuzu and Toyota bakkies.
Their luxury is partly sustained by punitive taxation of the few operating
corporates and the estimated 10% of Zimbabweans still in the taxable bracket
of formal employment.
Analysts say politicians’ benefits and demands are not matched by service
delivery which in cases continues to deteriorate. Most residents in urban
areas often go without access to clean drinking water for longer periods,
hospitals remain inadequately staffed and under-equipped, and power cuts
continue, among other things.
To compound matters, the public transport system remains shambolic while
many roads are badly potholed.
As a result analysts say ministers’ demands are “criminal” considering
government is broke and people are overtaxed.
“If it is indeed true that ministers are demanding exit packages then they
are shameless and self-centred,” political analyst Charles Mangongera said.
“Ministers are not executives of blue-chip firms who must get golden
handshakes when they leave office. They are public servants who must be
driven by national interest, not personal gain and must therefore always
exercise frugality in their use of national resources.”
Political commentator Blessing Vava, who is also National Constitutional
Assembly taskforce member, said ministers were greedy and insensitive.
“It goes to show the greed and insensitivity of our political leaders,” said
Vava. “Theirs is the politics of their bellies rather than serving the
nation. Asking for exit packages from where and what for? Did they apply for
those jobs or it was voluntary? They should not expect any packages above
what they got already, which is too much anyway.”
Former student leader Clever Bere questioned the calibre of Zimbabwean
politicians, saying it is time the electorate looked for alternatives if the
country is to move forward. “It is incumbent upon the people to organise
themselves and campaign against this sort of abuse of power and wasteful
management of public affairs,” Bere said. “We cannot keep quiet while
politicians loot state coffers at the expense of important and what should
be priority national projects which are being sacrificed due to lack of
funding, while ministers abuse public funds to maintain lavish and
extravagant lifestyles they can’t afford.”
February 15, 2013 in Business, News
TOURISM minister Walter Mzembi says the country has missed the chance to
benefit from legacy projects which are by-products associated with
co-hosting of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO)
conference in August.
Mzembi told the parliamentary portfolio committee on Natural Resources,
Environment and Tourism this week that other government ministries had not
moved fast enough to ensure the country fully benefited from the event.
“I must say we are ready to host the conference even if we never received as
much as US$1 from treasury,” Mzembi said, adding that they would erect
temporary facilities for the convenience of visiting delegates.
The legacy projects proposed included the construction of a conference
centre as well as the upgrading of the Victoria Falls Airport.
Mzembi said although the failure to deliver these projects does not
compromise preparations, Zimbabwe was wasting a golden chance to create
legacy projects that would serve the country long after the UNWTO.
“A temporary VIP tent will be constructed next to the Victoria Falls Airport’s
holding area. The designs and costings have been completed amounting to
US$200 000,” Mzembi said.
Zimbabwe needs improvements at its ports of entry, including Victoria Falls
Airport and the Beitbridge border post, which are perennially congested.
“The OR Tambo International Airport is 20 times what it was before the 2010
World Cup in South Africa. That event planted its own legacy projects in the
form of the road network in Johannesburg and other cities, as well as the
stadia,” Mzembi said.
In contrast, the Zambian government has provided US$20 million for the
February 15, 2013 in News
After leasing two A320 Airbus planes at a cost of US$500 000 a month, Air
Zimbabwe is considering increasing frequencies in the aviation golden
triangle of Harare, Victoria Falls and Johannesburg in preparation for the
world tourism indaba in August.
Air Zimbabwe (AirZim) interim board chairman Munesu Munodawafa said this
week this would greatly enhance the airline’s market share during the United
Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly in Victoria
Munodawafa, who is also the Transport, Communication and Infrastructure
Development permanent secretary, told the parliamentary Transport and
Communication portfolio committee that the two planes would double AirZim’s
flying fleet to four, boosting the airline’s capacity to service the
domestic and regional markets.
AirZim was grounded for close to a year over its ballooning debt, which now
tops US$188 million.
“The availability of the Airbuses, particularly at the start of the new
season in April, would improve our frequencies in the golden triangle,”
“This would enable us to adequately service delegates to UNWTO who fly in
through other airlines.”
Munodawafa said despite the US$188 million debt, the country was still
better placed in the region to benefit from the expansion of the aviation
“Zimbabwe’s geographical position makes it the second natural hub for
aviation in the region. We will therefore use AirZim as a feeder to the big
airlines plying into Zimbabwe like Emirates and (Dutch airline) KLM, meaning
we will have to synchronise our timetables.” Foreign airlines, with the
exception of South African Airways, are not licenced to fly to Victoria
Falls. This creates an opportunity for AirZim to benefit. Government is yet
to take over the airline’s crippling debt because a number of procedural
matters must be tackled first.
“Government is still to table in parliament for consideration the Debt
Assumption Bill for it to take over AirZim’s debts,” Munodawafa said.
AirZim acting group chief executive officer Innocent Mavhunga said the
airline needed an urgent US$52 million capital injection from government for
it to operate at an optimum level.
Mavhunga acknowledged that the current AirZim business model was not viable
since they were using unsuitable planes on the domestic and regional routes.
“We need smaller planes for the domestic and regional routes with a
configuration of 50 to 70 seats for the business to become viable,” Mavhunga
February 15, 2013 in News
SIXTY companies in Bulawayo are on the verge of collapse and urgently
require US$73 million capital, according to a report by the Ministry of
Industry and Commerce.
The number is adding to 85 companies which closed in 2012 as the city
continues to de-industrialise.
“The Ministerial Task Force on the revival of industry has revealed that 60
companies are under severe distress and required financial assistance in the
form of working capital and capital expenditure amounting to US$73 million,”
reads part of the report.
From the companies which closed, 22% were from the clothing and textile
sector, 74% from the motor industry and 4% from the construction sector.
Government continues to struggle to avail funds to revive industry in
Bulawayo. According to the report, government last year only managed to
avail US$5 million from the allocated US$10 million. This fund managed to
cater for only 30 companies from the initial target of 45 companies.
“Budgetary constraints militated against availing of the initial envelope,
resulting in the eventual reduction of the envelope to US$5 million, which
translates to a cut in the number of beneficiaries from 45 to 30 companies,”
reads part of the report.
The report said the availed amount would be split to cater for the 13
companies in the clothing and textile industry, representing 31% of the
total envelope, five in the food industry, 10 in the metals and electrical
industry, five in leather and footwear, four in the motor industry, five in
the wood and furniture industry, two in the pharmaceuticals and one company
in the packaging industries.
Last week the state media reported that only US$13 million had been
disbursed to companies across the country from the US$40 million Distressed
Industries and Marginalised Fund (Dimaf).
In Bulawayo, 13 companies are reported to have received funds amounting to
US$6,5 million from Dimaf while five more companies are yet to receive a sum
of US$2,9 million.
February 15, 2013 in News
A VISITING Kenyan civil society delegation has said coalition governments
are undesirable for Africa as they are expensive and tend to increase the
power of the elites over the masses.
The delegation that is on an Utetezi Exchange Programme was sharing with
local civil society and artists experiences, lessons and challenges from the
governments of national unity in Kenya and Zimbabwe.
Like Zimbabwe, Kenya has a coalition government made up of Orange Democratic
Movement leader and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and Party of National Unity
leader and incumbent President Mwai Kibaki.
The unity government was formed in the aftermath of ethnic political
violence following flawed and controversial presidential elections in 2007.
A member of the visiting delegation Maina Muhia said coalition governments
usually did not deliver as they emanate from conflict-ridden processes.
“Coalition governments are very expensive because they comprise a party that
was already in power and those planning to take over power who look for
funding from day one to eventually become the ruling party,” said Muhia.
“Those who have just got into power would not have tasted that power before
and, as they say, power corrupts. They work and seek funds for their next
election campaigns, which is not good for the people. Developments is
hamstrung; there are too many arguments and passing of bills is slow.”
The Kenyan delegation however said their coalition government brought about
checks and balances not provided for in the previous government, while local
civil society felt Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai was more of a junior
partner in the countey’s Government of National Unity.
Harare Residents Trust director Precious Shumba said: “Coalition governments
are good for ending direct conflict. They have however proved to be very
expensive to the masses. In the current set-up politicians make decisions
and release statements like they are speaking on behalf of the nation when
they are actually serving their interests.”
Muhia said reconciliation in Kenya has been ongoing for the past 25 years at
different levels due to ethnic conflicts which intensify after every five
years during elections.
“In 1992, it was politically connected people coming together to talk about
reconciliation. Then it was politically connected tribal chiefs who came
together. These efforts flopped as they did did not last for even a year.
“The reconciliation meetings did not have a time frame, compensation and
permanent membership. Reconciliation only succeeded when less politicians
were involved,” said Muhia.
February 15, 2013 in Business, News
ZIMBABWE is on an unsustainable growth path and the country’s business model
must change if it is to avoid a muddle, a leading economic expert has said.
Presenting an economic outlook paper at an Alpha Media Holdings strategy
planning conference in Harare this week, University of Zimbabwe Graduate
School of Business head Professor Tony Hawkins said pushing the country’s
growth trajectory onto a new, higher plane was contingent on tackling a
range of long-running structural problems besetting the economy.
“Meaningful socio-political change in the sense of a more committed, more
competent and more economically-oriented administration with a focus on the
population as a whole –– not a narrow elite of rent-seekers –– is the key to
better future performance,” said Hawkins. He stressed that this was not a
matter of economic expertise or even of resources, but of political will.
Hawkins pointed out five key constraints, which he said were the “big five
economic unsustainables” that needed to be addressed before the economy
could be steered onto a sustainable recovery and growth trajectory. These
were the unsustainable national budget, the hugely adverse balance of
payments position, the country’s external debt, the imbalance between
consumption and savings, and the country’s infrastructure deficit.
Hawkins singled out excessive consumption as a major economic challenge;
consumption had to fall while savings had to rise, he said. Zimbabwe was
consuming more than 90% of GDP, with half of that reflected as net
exports –– meaning foreigners were financing the difference. As the country
was not productive enough, the high demand for consumption was spilling into
the external sector as import demand, fuelling the external deficit.
“Excessive consumption which is currently financed by offshore borrowing,
aid and diaspora inflows must soon be replaced by increased savings in the
form of reduced consumption at home and increased domestic investment,”
Hawkins pointed out. He lamented that many Zimbabweans –– in both the
private and public sectors –– saw foreign capital inflows as a soft option;
a way in which to continue to over-consume while foreigners, including the
diaspora, picked up the tab.
Outlining major risks in 2013/14, Hawkins said export growth would be
constrained by weak global demand and soggy prices as well as the binding
supply-side constraints such as the country’s poor electricity supply. He
said import growth would slow down further but the signs were that the trade
gap would remain unsustainably high –– at more than US$3 billion. Hawkins
said Zimbabwe was not creating productive jobs while wages were rising
faster than productivity.
“As a result, the country is becoming increasingly uncompetitive. Wages must
be tied to productivity because, with a fixed exchange rate, Zimbabwe cannot
devalue its way to competitiveness as it did before 2009,” he said.
Zimbabwe, despite being a tiny player with a US$10,7 billion gross domestic
product in a US$72 trillion world economy, has also suffered global
turbulence which had a major impact on domestic economic performance.
“Sovereignty space” in Zimbabwe’s open and foreign-dependent economy was
very limited, both by the structure of the economy and the extent of
manoeuvrability available in a dollarised environment.
“The IMF estimates the US dollar today is 15% too strong for Zimbabwe,
making the economy highly uncompetitive. Zimbabwe, ranked 132nd on the
Global Competitiveness Index, is using the same currency as the US, ranked
seventh. How viable is that?” Hawkins asked.
February 15, 2013 in News
SOON after the formation of the MDC in 1999, the state broadcaster, Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) carried and repeatedly aired television
footage of party leader Morgan Tsvangirai gleefully clapping his hands as
white farmers queued up to sign away cheque donations to the newly-formed
Report by Herbert Moyo
Before the formation of the MDC, Zanu PF received and used money from donors
at home and abroad, including white groups and organisations. The late
British tycoon Tiny Rowland was for a long time a major Zanu PF donor.
The party still receives donations from white-owned businesses as shown by a
story in this newspaper last week.
The Zimbabwe Independent reported last week Meikles group mogul John Moxon
donated vehicles to Zanu PF last year to boost President Robert Mugabe and
Zanu PF’s bid to remain in power.
By donating the vehicles, Moxon was however not breaking new ground, but
simply became the latest in a long list of travellers along the well-beaten
path to the Zanu PF headquarters which has been traversed by many companies
Moxon’s case is all the more intriguing, given that not so long ago he was
reportedly targeted by Zanu PF bigwigs during the Kingdom Meikles Africa Ltd
demerger saga. He was specified but later the measure was lifted. Only
recently he applied for a diamond mining licence.
However, after ZBC aired its footage showing Tsvangirai receiving money from
white commercial farmers, Zanu PF went into overdrive and agog about it.
Zanu PF spin doctors claimed the MDC was a white-funded and controlled
party. From then on, all sorts of pejorative descriptions have been used
against the party: “Western-sponsored front”, “puppet”, or “running dogs of
imperialism”, among others.
Not long after that whites in general found themselves on the receiving end
of a violent farm invasions.
Legislation such as the Political Parties (Finance) Act was crafted in 2001
as Zanu PF sought to block foreign funding for political parties in a bid to
choke the nascent MDC.
However, President Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF continue to receive funding for
their party’s activities openly from local businesspeople and companies as
well as mysterious “well-wishers” as in the case of the controversial US$20
million presidential input scheme.
As elections draw closer, opaque donations will surge. This has led to
debate about whether or not these donations do not amount to chequebook
politics and their impact on elections and democracy.
All over the world — from Asia, Europe and across the Americas, let alone
Africa — party political funding is controversial.
Analysts say even if they are bitter rivals, it seems Zanu PF and the two
MDC parties agree on one thing: refusing to declare sources of their secret
“All major parties in Zimbabwe, that is Zanu PF and the two MDC formations,
agree on one thing: they don’t want to disclose sources of their secret
funding,” one analyst said.
“Without making it impossible for parties to function, there is need for
clear funding laws, rules and regulations because chequebook politics is
destroying the right of voters to choose their leaders freely and eroding
In a paper done for the Institute for Democracy in South Africa analyst
Judith February says private political party funding poses a serious threat
“Why does the regulation of private funding to political parties matter and
what is the link to poverty, underdevelopment, human rights and corruption?”
“To function properly, democracies require strong, independent political
parties operating in an open and truly competitive political system.
Parties, in turn, need money in order to adequately fulfill their role.
Similarly, a well-informed electorate that can exercise equal influence over
the decision-making processes is a condition for genuine participatory
February says unregulated private political party funding distorts the
electoral playing field and hence undermines the role of the ballot in a
“Where there is no control over private funding given to political parties,
a situation of unfairness and distortion of electoral competition may arise,
ultimately undermining the equal value of each person’s vote,” she says.
“When wealth is allowed to buy influence and access by unregulated secret
donations, or the perception of such, the effect on political rights and
participatory democracy could lead to the average citizen’s voice being
“All groups, including the poor and marginalised, should have an equal
opportunity to influence the political processes through participation.”
However, parties everywhere, including Zimbabwe, have subverted laws to
receive secret funding to pay their bills and finance electoral campaigns.
Political commentator Godwin Phiri said the Moxon case shows the Zanu
PF-business nexus which existed for a long time.
“It is no coincidence that Meikles applies for a diamond mining licence
after Moxon’s huge donation to the party that we all know controls who
participates in that industry,” said Phiri. “Moxon is greasing the hands
that dish out the licences. With the same stroke, he has probably secured
his investments from the indigenisation policy targeting non-black
MDC-T treasurer-general Roy Bennett recently said: “There is a relatively
small but very significant network of whites that work closely with Zanu PF.
The message will come down from on high that ‘he is one of us; leave him
Zimbabwe Democracy Institute executive director Pedzisai Ruhanya said: “They
(whites) have to play ball or risk losing their investments. Apart from
getting contracts from government, individuals and companies also donate to
protect their investments and businesses in a hostile investment climate
where threats of company seizures are the order of the day.”
February 15, 2013 in Business
UNIVERSITY of Zimbabwe Business School head Professor Tony Hawkins says
indigenisation deals recently clinched with big mining companies amount to a
“Ponzi scheme gone mad”.
Hawkins said the transactions between companies like Zimplats, Mimosa and
Unki and the National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Fund for the
transfer of 51% of foreign-owned companies to locals were bad deals for the
country because of the unworkable and unsustainable funding arrangements
which he likened to Ponzi finance schemes.
He said under the Zimplats transaction, for instance, the country would
effectively borrow almost US$1 billion –– 8% of the gross domestic product
(GDP). All the deals made so far amount to billions, which means government
and its specially selected group of penniless investors would mortgage the
whole GDP of the country.
“These deals do nothing to create jobs or increase output and exports, but
only ensure majority domestic ownership,” Hawkins told an Alpha Media
Holdings strategy planning meeting in Harare on Monday.
“However you evaluate them, this Ponzi finance operation is a bad deal for
Typically, a Ponzi scheme is an investment scam that appears to be actually
paying high returns by disbursing supposed returns out of the affected
people’s own capital.
“Firstly, the arrangement provides for the repayment of the capital loan and
interest from future dividends. Zimplats is presently not paying any
dividend and is unlikely to start doing so in the near future,” Hawkins
Dividends are paid out to shareholders from free cash flows or net income of
a business after meeting all of the company’s other commitments. However,
Zimplats is a company that is still expanding and needs funding to finance
“Technically, a Ponzi scheme is one where you plan to pay virtually all
business expenses from uncertain future cash flows. If anything goes wrong
within Zimplats to negatively impact the future cash flows of the business,
the whole funding model will collapse on itself as the dividend flow will
dry up,” he said.
Hawkins said the problem with such models is that they “inevitably fail”
February 15, 2013 in Business
MINES minister Obert Mpofu has tightened screws on platinum miners amid
indications government will ban exports of ore in two years’ time to compel
them to establish beneficiation plants locally.
Mpofu this week repossessed 28 000 hectares of excess claims from Zimplats
amid looting and speculation concerns, a development he says is to allow
other players to invest in the sector.
He said the excess ground would be allocated to at least five new big
investors, adding this would allow the country immediate benefits from its
natural resource wealth. With the move, government intends to set the tone
for what it sees as an industry-wide remedial exercise which, among other
things, is expected to promote local beneficiation of all minerals.
The Mines minister said the decision was effective as at the time of the
announcement, and similar developments, to be followed by close state
monitoring, were expected in the next few months across the extractive
Mpofu said platinum miners had to start providing implementation plans on
how they were going to comply with the ore export ban. Platinum miners have
been arguing it is not economical to have a refinery in Zimbabwe as output
was too low.
Sources say the move is government’s tough stance to deal with players who
hold on to mineral claims for speculative purposes while cracking the whip
on miners who have been making all possible excuses to avoid establishment
of beneficiation plants locally.
A local mining expert told businessdigest the big platinum producers had
invested in extra refining capacity in South Africa on the back of their
Zimbabwean production and were therefore reluctant to make further
investment in full value-addition of the mineral locally.
“They have been giving a lot of excuses, including that there is erratic
power supply in Zimbabwe, whereas the refineries can be designed with their
own power plants to run continuously,” said the expert.
However, miners say Zimbabwe’s lack of adequate power makes it difficult
build refineries as they require lots of electricity.
Responding to questions from the media, Mpofu said government’s decision to
repossess idle claims was meant to encourage local beneficiation, plug
mineral leakages and increase revenue collection.
“You know when Zimplats bought the platinum company from BHP they had some
base metal refinery in Selous. The new buyers (Zimplats) had a refinery in
South Africa, so they chose to refine there. We have taken an action which
will remind them (Zimplats) to go back to their drawing boards and look at
locally value-added products,“ said Mpofu, adding “We can no longer continue
having our minerals refined outside the country because it is detrimental to
our economic objectives and goals.”
He said platinum producers had an option to convert Bindura Nickel
Corporation’s refinery unit into a fully-fledged beneficiation plant at a
cost of about US$60 million.
The minister said platinum is referred to as part of the platinum group of
metals (PGMs), meaning it contains a number of high value minerals like
gold, palladium, rhodium and nickel, which are not declared at the time of
export, but are extracted during beneficiation. As a result, the country had
lost out on billions of potential revenue.
Geological information indicates the total ground granted to Zimplats and
the mineral endowment therein has a lifespan of more than 400 years at an
extraction rate of one million ounces per year.
Mpofu said he was also homing in on chrome producers like Zimasco whom he
said were holding on to huge claims that were lying idle.
“Companies like Zimasco own the whole of Shurugwi and the Great Dyke, and
make our local miners who don’t have ownership their tributors and force
them to sell to Zimasco for nothing. We are going to rectify that,” he said.
“As you have seen we have cancelled licences for EPOs (Exclusive Prospecting
Orders) and new investors are taking them up. There are people who have got
coal concessions which they are not using and we will be cancelling that
too. Some have speculated and sold what is not theirs and they will be in
February 15, 2013 in Opinion
THERE was understandable excitement from some quarters after the conclusion
of the constitution-making process, albeit after intolerable delays and the
consumption of extensive resources.
Column by Wilfred Mhanda
It is, however, important to put things in their proper perspective to help
people understand the significance of this development.
Zimbabwe’s problems partly lie in its authoritarian political culture,
undemocratic processes, unaccountable government and lack of respect for the
rule of law, not merely the need for a new constitution.
These problems have driven millions of Zimbabweans into the diaspora and
they are precisely the same factors that precipitated the constitutional and
legitimacy crisis we experienced a few years ago premised on the
inconclusive electoral process of March 2008.
The political crisis culminated in the signing of the Global Political
The country’s current constitution, read together with the relevant
provisions of the Electoral Act and schedules, provided that in the event of
an inconclusive presidential election (in this case March 29 2008), the
run-off has to be conducted within 21 days from the date of election, which
would have meant it should have been held not later than April 19 2008.
However, what eventually transpired is that the presidential election
run-off was slated for June 27 2008, exactly three months and one week after
the expiry of the window period to hold it in terms of the law.
Furthermore, the result of the presidential election was only announced five
weeks after the date of the poll.
These two unlawful developments precipitated the constitutional and
legitimacy crisis as there was no longer any legitimate or lawful government
or head of state after the expiry of the legally prescribed period for the
It is noteworthy that this was a constitutional crisis and not a crisis of
the constitution, as some would have us believe.
The crisis did not emanate from the constitution per se, but from the misuse
of the institutions meant to buttress the constitution: in other words, it
was a political crisis; a subset of the much deeper crisis in which Zimbabwe
was and still is enmeshed.
Could it then be reasonably concluded the country’s constitution and
Electoral Act accounted for the crisis? Clearly no rational view would
subscribe to that.
What then were the factors that precipitated the crisis? It can be cogently
argued that the political impasse was occasioned by institutional
weaknesses. This requires some elaboration.
Had the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, the Attorney-General’s Office,
judiciary, state security sector (which subsequently unleashed an orgy of
violence against the electorate), the Registrar-General’s Office, the
state-controlled media and the traditional authority structures discharged
their constitutional mandates and operated within the framework of the law
and defended the country’s constitution, the political crisis after the 2008
elections would not have materialised.
The weaknesses of these institutions lay in their failure to discharge their
constitutional mandates and to operate within the ambit of the law.
Could it then be argued that a new constitution, like a magic wand, would
make all these institutional weaknesses disappear overnight? As long as the
institutional weaknesses that brought about the crisis subsist and are not
resolved, it would be wishful thinking to hope for credible, free and fair
elections whose outcome would not be contested.
Let us put things in perspective again in simple language. The constitution
and concomitant statutes constitute the software for governing the country
with the constitution as the operating system upon which laws run.
The laws are the software packages that have to be compatible with the
operating system and the constitution.
State institutions on the other hand are the hardware that houses the
operating system. In this day and age of information communication
technologies, it is common cause that any software without compatible and
matching hardware drivers delivers no value.
This is not to say that the focus on the constitution and legislative reform
are pointless. But such reforms would help much if the problems affecting
the hardware are not addressed.
The hardware constitutes what is known as state power. Whoever controls
state power calls the shots. The objective of the GPA was to reclaim,
restore and to democratise the control of national institutions so that they
serve the national interest, not narrow partisan interests.
State institutions are the base while the constitution and the country’s
laws are the superstructure. There is a need to strike a dynamic and
dialectical balance between the two.
Focusing on one without the other is clearly counterproductive. This is the
reason why Sadc has been insisting on both constitution and refroms that
encompass both software and hardware changes if it is to facilitate genuine
By now it should be clear that it was not the governance software that
precipitated the crisis, but the institutional hardware. More than four
years have now been wasted at great cost on barking up the wrong tree. It is
not too late to change focus however.
When calls are made for institutional reforms, they are not meant to
facilitate an MDC victory, but to pave the way for democratic rule and
practice, accountable government and laying a solid foundation for
entrenching the rule of law. Political parties in power are never
comfortable with strong institutions as they constrain their room for
They would rather have pliable and weak institutions that they can easily
manipulate to serve their interests.
It would therefore be folly and misguided to pin hopes on an MDC victory
with the notion and expectation that they would, once in power, embark on
reforms to strengthen state institutions. Doing that would be tantamount to
subcontracting the struggle for democracy and only live to fight another
day. The struggle for democracy must be citizen-driven to ensure
What is to be done in light of the foregoing, now that we have a new
constitution, however flawed? Is it enough to just entrench democratic rule?
Would it be in the national interest to call for elections before the
problems of the hardware have been resolved? Surely, that would be a recipe
Besides, as has been previously argued by Ibbo Mandaza writing in this
paper, there will be urgent need for reforms and to harmonise and
synchronise the country’s laws with the new constitution. Talk of deadlines
to hold elections becomes trite and immaterial in the circumstances.
What is required is addressing the country’s underlying problems, not a mad
rush to meet self-serving deadlines that only trigger the re-emergence of
the same problems sooner rather than later.
Effecting institutional reforms of necessity requires transitional
arrangements in terms of the timeframes, mechanisms and framework that
enable the process.
The debate should now be about reforms that guide and facilitate the holding
of credible elections and transitional arrangements thereafter.
Calling for elections now, without the requisite institutional reforms would
be tantamount to putting the cart before the horse.
Mhanda is an ex-Zanla commander whose liberation war name was Dzinashe
He recently wrote a book titled Dzino: Memories of a Freedom Fighter.
February 15, 2013 in News
I HAVE been asked to write an opinion on why the people of Zimbabwe should
vote in favour of the Copac draft constitution.
Opinion by Alex Magaisa
I must from the outset declare my interest: I was a participant in the
constitution-making process as a technical advisor to the MDC-T team. I am
now an advisor to the Prime Minister of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai.
In the next few weeks Zimbabweans will find themselves at a critical
juncture in the course of their nation’s history. They will be asked to
choose whether to vote “Yes or “No” on the Copac draft constitution.
There is no middle ground, unless one elects to abstain from the referendum.
It is an historical moment because for the second time in just over a
decade, Zimbabweans are being asked to vote on whether they want the
relevant draft to be the supreme law of the land. The first time such a
question was a put before them, they resoundingly rejected the
Constitutional Commission draft in 2000.
Therefore, while the current formal process has taken the better part of
three years, in its totality this is the culmination of more than a decade
of struggle for a new constitution.
This struggle was mainly championed from the late 1990s by the National
Constitutional Assembly (NCA) and later by the MDC, itself a political party
whose DNA is traceable to the NCA. It is therefore a moment to pay tribute
to all those who have fought for a new constitutional dispensation.
If adopted the new constitution will be no mean achievement.
While the current draft may not be perfect, it is important to always look
at it in the context of the bigger picture. A constitution speaks to power
and power is inherently political.
Constitution-making is therefore an intensely political process, which
invariably has the imprint of political players, among other stakeholders.
No doubt the content of the Copac draft will be the subject of much
commentary and academic treatises, presently and in years to come. The
courts will be called upon to interpret its clauses and these judicial
interpretations will also be subject to much scrutiny.
I have no doubt that some deficiencies will be identified and that
parliament and the people will be seized with the task of making corrections
These natural challenges notwithstanding, I believe there is much in its
favour that must persuade the people to vote for the adoption of the Copac
draft at the referendum. I will deal with the content later but the bigger
picture refers to the place of the constitution in the development of
democracy in this country.
Zimbabweans have waged a peaceful and non-violent struggle to change the
manner in which their country is governed. For the first time in 2008, they
inflicted an electoral defeat that could not be ignored – locally,
regionally or internationally.
However, they were denied the opportunity to claim and exercise their
electoral victory – the result being the compromise in the form of the
Through the Global Political Agreement (GPA), under which the inclusive
government was established, the people managed to once again place
constitutional reform on the political agenda.
Clearly disappointed by the “No” vote in the 2000 referendum, Zanu PF had
thrown a tantrum and abandoned constitutional reform as a non-issue. The MDC
consistently fought for a new constitution and the fact that the process has
taken place and that the draft constitution has been achieved is down to MDC’s
patience, persistence and resilience of the people.
I will highlight the key features that I find persuasive:
Checks & balances
Since at its core a constitution deals with the relationship between the
state and the individual and society at large, it must ensure that those who
are vested with the power to govern are limited and that those who are
governed have their fundamental freedoms protected from intrusion. The Copac
draft does a far better job than the current constitution in both respects.
The Copac draft specifies in clear terms that both executive and legislative
powers are derived from the people of Zimbabwe. The executive and parliament
only exercise these powers at the pleasure of the people who being the
primary source of power, are the ultimate principals.
In order to limit the abuse of state power, it is distributed among the
three arms of the state, namely the executive, parliament and the judiciary.
The principle of checks and balances, under which the powers of one arm of
the state are checked and balanced by one or more of the other arms, is a
critical part of the draft constitution.
Principle of term limits
The constitutional limitations on power are also evident in the principle of
term limits that will become a prominent feature of the constitution.
Hitherto, the principle of term limits has been conspicuous by its absence
in the constitution and Zimbabwe’s political culture.
Principle of non-partisanship
The Copac draft also represents a departure from militarism towards
constitutionalism – a significant movement from politicisation of state
institutions that should otherwise be neutral, apolitical and non-partisan.
Key sectors in this regard include the security services and the civil
The Copac draft makes it very clear that the defence, police, intelligence,
correctional services and the civil service must be politically non-partisan
and must serve the national interest without the constraints of politics.
Broader bill of rights
The Bill of Rights is probably one of the most persuasive aspects of the
Copac draft, although some clauses could have been improved. These
challenges notwithstanding, the Bill of Rights is conspicuous by its
wide-ranging character – for the first time covering not only civil and
political rights but also providing in good detail for socio-economic rights
such as the right to education, health, food and water, environment, etc.
The current constitution has always been criticised for its failure to
account for these socio-economic rights and the Copac draft corrects this
Civil and political rights, such as the freedom of expression, freedom of
assembly, right to personal liberty, etc have been expanded and written in
more specific terms with very minimal claw-backs. The rights of arrested and
accused persons are extensively articulated in precise terms, while new
additions are the right of access to information, and for the first time the
freedom of the media is provided for in the new constitution.
Probably the most significant feature of the Copac draft is its sensitivity
to issues of gender equality and equity. Not only is the state obliged to
fulfil the objective of gender equality, the Bill of Rights and the election
rules go a long way to advance the cause of women who have long been saddled
with constraints arising from custom and tradition that privileges
The Bill of Rights specifies the rights of women, including the rights to
equal treatment, equal pay, receive at least three months paid maternity
leave, equal citizenship rights, protection against domestic violence, equal
opportunities, custody and guardianship of children, and all laws, customs
and cultural practices that violate women’s rights are unconstitutional.
In the political field, 60 seats in the parliament are reserved exclusively
for women and where seats are allocated on the basis of proportional
representation, such as in the senate, a method of selection that favours
women candidates is provided for.
The Copac draft protects from erosion the rights of persons who are citizens
by birth. Parliament has no power to prohibit dual citizenship in respect of
citizens by birth.
It is important to note that the Copac draft has an expanded definition of
citizenship by birth to include persons who are born outside Zimbabwe where
one of the parents is a Zimbabwean citizen. This means that persons who may
have been regarded as citizens by descent under the current constitution may
actually qualify as citizens by birth if they satisfy the conditions.
Further, it must be emphasised that even in respect of citizens by descent
or by registration, the Copac draft does not specifically prohibit dual
citizenship. Finally, the Copac draft guarantees restoration of citizenship
by birth to persons born in Zimbabwe who may have previously lost their
citizenship on the basis of laws that affected the so-called aliens.
Devolution of power
By far the greatest transformation to the structure of governance is
contained in the provisions for devolution of power. This is a radical
departure from the highly-centralised governance structure under the current
constitution. It ensures that people will be able to govern themselves more
effectively at the local level.
The provisions respond to widespread calls for the distribution of power
across the state to enable local governance and prevent marginalisation.
Dr Magaisa is the secretary for legal affairs in the Office of the Prime
Minister and was the MDC-T technical expert during the constitution-making
February 15, 2013 in Opinion
The Chiefs’ Council recently called for peace and tolerance during the
forthcoming referendum and elections.
Column by The MuckRaker
The chiefs, reports ZBC, resolved to preach the gospel of peace and
tolerance in their communities to complement the GPA principals’ efforts of
ensuring a violence-free referendum and harmonised elections.
Chief Fortune Charumbira, Chiefs’ Council President, said chiefs were
by-standers in the electoral process but said in the forthcoming polls, they
will be in the forefront calling for peace and tolerance.
“We have made a position that we should be actively involved in preaching
the gospel of peace, we want our people to tolerate each other so that we
can build our nation. We have been able to agree on the draft constitution
and that the process should go on smoothly,” said Charumbira.
Charumbira went on to declare that a peaceful referendum and election will
“put to shame” the country’s detractors who “peddle falsehoods” during any
Meanwhile at Mubaira Growth Point in Mhondoro the youthful war veterans
leader Jabulani Sibanda described Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai as an
“agent of the devil” warning traditional and church leaders against
accommodating MDC-T supporters, NewsDay reports.
“As traditional leaders, you should make sure that you don’t have anyone
with MDC-T cards in your areas,” Sibanda snarled. “We should work hard to
ensure that we restore the country from the MDC-T. They don’t believe in our
own God, but in Satan. I am shocked there are pastors who are in MDC-T
Despite accusing the MDC-T of being Satanists, Sibanda went on a blasphemous
tirade, likening Zanu PF to the biblical “first fish” from where Jesus
Christ’s disciples fished a coin when they ran out of cash.
“Zanu PF is your first party. (President Robert) Mugabe is your first
leader. Jesus said the first fish, not second, third or fourth. President
Mugabe is your salvation. He represents the people’s interests, while
Tsvangirai, Welshman Ncube (MDC leader), Dumiso Dabengwa (Zapu) and all the
other parties are puppets of the West.”
Curiously chiefs Chivero, Ngezi, Mashayamombe and Ziruvi were in attendance
as Sibanda spewed his pungent vitriol. So much for chiefs no longer being
Zanu PF chairman Simon Khaya Moyo has told the United States and Switzerland
the country’s political leadership will not allow any West-sponsored forces
to interfere in the forthcoming referendum and elections to be held this
year, ZBC reports.
It seems Cde Khaya Moyo is out of the loop considering the principals have
tasked Finance minister Tendai Biti and Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa
to hold out the begging bowl to fund the referendum and general elections.
In last week’s edition, Biti and Chinamasa revealed Zimbabwe only has a
combined budget of US$25 million with the two processes estimated to cost
Moyo, however, unperturbed by this state of affairs boisterously told-off
the US and Swiss envoys Bruce Wharton and Luciano Lavazzari respectively.
Zimbabweans, Khaya Moyo declared, do not expect continued interference by
the West in the country’s affairs through NGOs, “which instigate violence to
tarnish the country’s image”.
Khaya Moyo’s ominous attack on NGOs comes amid a renewed onslaught on civil
society with the police storming the offices of Jestina Mukoko’s Zimbabwe
Peace Project on Monday. On the same note Khaya Moyo would also want the
repeal of the “illegal” Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic Recovery Act
(Zidera). He obviously wants his cake and to eat it too.
However, Wharton was unequivocal in his response saying while his ambition
is to have Zidera removed, his hands are tied as the embargo was “put for a
‘Public’ media abuse
In as much as we commiserate with Information minister Webster Shamu over
the loss of his mother, the shocking abuse of the supposedly national
broadcaster cannot go unmentioned.
The bulk of Monday’s main news broadcast was dedicated to Defence minister
Emmerson Mnagagwa and ZDF commander Constantine Chiwenga’s visit to the
Shamu homestead to pay their condolences.
Mnangagwa and Chiwenga were away last week on national duty in Mozambique
and Sudan respectively, ZBC dutifully explained. The duo went on to describe
the late Gogo Shamu as a “unifier, pillar of strength and an advisor who
showed love to everyone”.
For more than five minutes viewers were barraged with an ad nauseam oration
of the virtues of Gogo Shamu. Strange isn’t it we are only hearing about
Gogo Shamu and her wonderful deeds now!
Since the burial we have been told of one group or another “consoling” the
Shamu family. On Tuesday we had the Johane Masowe church from Rusape sending
a delegation to the Shamu homestead to pay condolences.
Considering the minuscule coverage other parties in the inclusive government
are allotted, it clearly smacks of abuse. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai
can only dream of getting such coverage on our so-called “first and
Media reforms cannot come soon enough!
One of the oft abused words in the Zimbabwean lexicon was once again in
action with ZBC having received two “state-of-the-art” digital outside
broadcasting units donated by the Chinese government to “enable the
co-operation (sic) to meet the digitalisation thrust”.
They must have meant corporation!
“The new equipment includes the latest outside broadcast van equipped with
8-plus-1 high definition cameras with a super slow replay facility and a
high definition satellite uplink van,” a beaming ZBC employee stated.
“The outside broadcasting equipment is capable of bringing live coverage of
events between two points linking them to viewers as they occur.”
The equipment, we are told, “will improve the quality of transmission while
bringing events to the people as they happen”. Haven’t we heard this before?
In the same week that ZBC was announcing its broadcast prowess, the
corporation ran 20 minutes of news without the sound.
A stunning achievement!
What’s in a name
Malawian President Joyce Banda has taken flak for a costly directive to
print new portraits to accommodate her new doctoral title.
South Korea’s University of Jeonju awarded Banda an honorary doctorate in
economics for her achievements in “furthering global peace, economic reforms
and furthering the dignity of mankind in the world”.
The initial portrait has a “Mrs” on the title but with the new accolade the
Malawian government intends to replace thousands of portraits with those
bearing the new title of “Dr”.
Defending the move Malawian Information minister Moses Kunkuyu said it was
important that the president’s new title be featured on the portrait as it
was an “honour to all Malawians”.
Former president Bingu wa Mutharika also spent millions of Kwacha to change
his portrait bearing the title “Dr” to accommodate “Professor” soon after a
Chinese University recognised him.
A few months into office, Banda had already coined a lengthy title of: “Her
Excellency the State President and Commander in-Chief of the Malawi Defence
Force and Malawi Police Service, Minister responsible for the Public
Service, Statutory Corporations, Civil Service Administration, National
Relief and Disaster Management and Nutrition and HIV/ Aids.”
No guesses where the inspiration for all this came from.
February 15, 2013 in Opinion
For many years the world has been aware that “Diamonds are forever!” This
stemmed from advertising by De Beers, who for a long time were the world’s
largest producer of diamonds.
Opinion by Eric Bloch
It is correct that diamonds are virtually indestructible. But this has no
substance for those who believe that a country’s diamond resources are of
Ultimately, all that can be extracted from the diamond fields will have been
taken out and the resource will cease to exist.
That was wisely foreseen by Sir Seretse Khama when diamonds were discovered
in Botswana, whereupon he vigorously sought that that country’s diamond
revenues should be applied to the development of other economic resources,
to assure the country’s continued economic wellbeing as far as possible once
the diamond fields had been fully mined and denuded of their deposits.
There is also a grievous misconception that the finding of diamond fields is
an immediate trigger for bountiful national wealth.
That can be so, depending on the magnitude of the available diamonds and
upon the available quantity thereof over a period of time, but this cannot
be the fuel for vast economic transformation overnight.
And yet that has been the general misconception by the Zimbabwean government
and the majority of the populace following the discovery of the Marange and
Chiadzwa diamond fields.
Although some diamond resources in Zimbabwe have been known and exploited
for many years — near Zvishavane and in the district of Beitbridge — it
cannot be gainsaid that the finds in the eastern districts, a few years ago,
were of far greater magnitude.
Moreover, there are almost undoubtedly other diamond fields in Zimbabwe that
are yet to be identified and exploited.
Immediately following the discovery of the Chiadzwa diamond fields in
Marange, a nationwide anticipation of an economic metamorphosis developed
within the corridors of government among the residents of the eastern
highlands, and to a very significant extent within other economic sectors,
and amongst the population in general.
But, as yet, that has not happened, and it was an immense misconception of
most to have expected that to occur instantaneously.
This erroneous expectation was especially pronounced in government in
general, and within the Ministry of Finance in particular, and demonstrated
a total absence of appreciation of realities.
First of all, before substantive extraction of the diamonds could be
achieved, the diamond fields had to be developed, entailing considerable
time-consuming labour and very considerable expenditures on development and
Secondly, customer markets had to be accessed and reciprocally beneficial
relationships cultivated. Doing so necessitated vigorous constraints to
contain inevitable misappropriation and smuggling of the diamonds, which was
irrefutably existent from the moment of the first discovery of the diamond
At the same time, in order to deal and transact with reputable and up-market
diamond customers, it was a prerequisite that Zimbabwe attain Kimberley
Process Certification (KPC), only available upon irrefutable evidence of
intense containment of smuggling and on the diamonds not being “blood
diamonds” from war or like events.
Thus, the indisputably advantageous discovery of the diamonds could not, and
did not, trigger an immediately strong and viable economy, and a relief to
the immense poverty which has afflicted the majority of Zimbabweans for far
Notwithstanding, the discovered diamond fields and those yet to be found
will progressively become very major elements of a virile Zimbabwean
economy, and of the wellbeing of many Zimbabweans.
The misplaced expectations of huge inflows of diamond revenues into the
fiscus, ameliorating the state’s gross inadequacies of funds, were as
intensively misconceived as the erroneous anticipations of most of the
Over and above the fact that treasury received no direct revenue from the
proceeds of smuggled diamonds, it could also not do so until the formalised,
KPC-approved sales commenced.
Once those sales were being achieved, the fairly rapid fiscal inflows could
only emanate to the extent of 15%, being the legally prescribed royalties
payable on all diamond sales.
Moreover, the pipeline for the inflow of the diamond revenue inflows was,
and is, an extended one, as such royalties are payable in the first instance
to the Minerals Marketing Corporation, which in turn must onward transmit
them to treasury. In time, other diamond-related revenues will accrue to the
fiscus, primarily in the form of income taxes on profits from the diamond
But taxable profits only materialise once the operators’ revenues exceed
their operational costs and the tax allowances on expenditures incurred on
plant, equipment and other assets that were used to make the fields
Indirect revenues will also progressively accrue to the state, such as taxes
on salaries and wages of the employees, and from the increasing numbers
employed within the country as a whole as the economy surges upwards in
response to downstream operations. This includes increased employment
created by the expenditures of the diamond field operators and their
Similarly, that downstream economic beneficiation becomes a stimulant for
greater inflows of value added tax on the enhanced consumer spending, and of
income tax on improved profits of the businesses benefitting from the
increased consumer spending.
In due course, once the diamond field operators have recovered their
establishment and developmental costs and are realising meaningful profits,
the fiscus will also benefit from the withholding taxes on dividends
declared by the operators to their shareholders.
Further, massive economic benefits will be forthcoming once value-addition
operations in respect of diamonds come into being.
When Zimbabwe is no longer only selling uncut, unpolished diamonds to world
markets, but has established the long talked-about diamond-cutting and
polishing industry (that could possibly include the production of diamond
and gold-based jewellery) many further revenues will inflow into the
economy, and to the exchequer. But, despite the apparent issue of some
licences that has yet to occur, there will be a transitional period before
such projects become significant economic contributors.
Also key to the diamond finds being catalysts of economic growth and
stability on an ongoing basis is that, as was the case with the late Sir
Seretse Khama in Botswana, it must be recognised that the diamond resource
will progressively be depleted and that, therefore, some of the wealth that
will flow from the diamond fields operations must be injected into the
development and creation of other fields of beneficial economic activity,
including agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, and infrastructure
The diamond revenues must not be used exclusively for the funding of
recurrent governmental operational expenditures. If this is assiduously and
constructively pursued, then indirectly Zimbabwe’s diamonds will be
February 15, 2013 in Opinion
ZIMBABWE is currently emerging from a decade of severe economic slowdown,
and is beginning to look forward with ever increasing confidence.
Opinion by Mthuli Ncube
The country is intent on recovering and rebuilding on the gains it
registered after independence, particularly the progress in reducing poverty
and inequality, and joblessness.
The economy had been in decline since 1996 and recorded negative economic
growth at a time when most African economies were booming.
Disruptions in agriculture due to land reforms explain the decline in
agricultural production, while manufacturing went into decline mainly due to
a shortage of foreign currency. Hyperinflation, which peaked in 2008,
poisoned the investment climate and ravaged the economy.
Alongside this downturn in productivity came a sharp fall in disposable
incomes and employment. The decline of employment in low skill sectors like
agriculture and construction caused unemployment to rise, especially among
low income households, some of whom are still caught in the poverty-trap.
During the recent years, and in response to the more stable and liberalised
economic environment, real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is expected to
continue showing positive growth into 2013 and 2014, contrasted to a decline
of about 14% in 2008, for instance.
The recovery is underpinned by the restoration of business confidence and
anticipated recovery in agriculture and manufacturing. Hyperinflation was
brought to a halt; inflation is expected to remain in single digit for the
next two years while the United States dollar remains the base currency
mostly in use under the multicurrency regime.
1: Zimbabwe – Gross Domestic Product
Recognising the centrality of a sustainable economic pattern, policy-makers
should embark on an inclusive-growth agenda where recovery generates
improvements in the economic and social conditions of the people of
Zimbabwe, especially in job creation and food security.
In the projections to year 2050, estimates for Zimbabwe show that GDP per
capita, although relatively low, would reach US$927 in 2050, and US$ 780 in
2030, compared to US$595 in 2010. Over the projection period, real GDP per
capita is projected to increase by around 40% to reach US$673 in 2050
compared to US$483 in 2010.
Zimbabwe has experienced rapid increases in poverty and declines in survival
indicators. Due to the economic and social conditions in previous decade,
the prospects of achieving most of the Millennium Development Goals remain
weak. The poverty rate increased significantly and inequality is high.
2: Zimbabwe – Population and 3: Zimbabwe: Life expectancy
During the same time, the HIV/Aids epidemic remains a dominant reproductive
health issue. A combination of rampant unemployment, social and political
tensions simply provides an environment that fuels the epidemic, with the
overall situation making it difficult to mobilise a consistent, effective
response to spreading infection. These factors have contributed to the
deterioration of Zimbabwe’s human development indicators.
In the decades ahead, the challenge facing Zimbabwe is highlighted by
prospective trends in population and demographic indicators, which
constitutes essential factors in boosting economic growth.
Projections to year 2050 show that Zimbabwe’s population is expected to
reach 20,6 million, compared to a level of 12,6 million in 2010, assuming a
moderate slowdown of fertility rates.
In fact, Zimbabwe’s progress on health seems to have stagnated in recent
years and provision of key public services also suffered as the government
failed to keep critical services such as education, health and
But, Zimbabwe has experienced a decline in fertility of almost two births
per woman over the past two decades, with the fertility rate falling to 3,3
births per woman in 2010, which would reach 1,9 births by 2050. With the
HIV/Aids pandemic, life expectancy at birth in the country has fallen to
about 50 years. The estimates for decades ahead, show modest progress and by
2050, a baby born in Zimbabwe could expect to live to 65,7 years.
4: Zimbabwe – Under-five, infant mortality rate
Similarly, infant mortality is a critical issue in Zimbabwe. Information for
2010 indicates that infant mortality rate was 53 deaths per 1000 live
births, while the under-five mortality rate was 83 per 1000 live births.
Child mortality is consistently lower in urban areas than in rural areas.
The impact of the Aids epidemic is also evident in child mortality rates,
with more than half of all deaths among children under age five due to Aids.
Meanwhile, on the reproductive health front, Zimbabwe has had one of the
most successful family planning programmes in sub-Saharan Africa. In
parallel with the demographic trends reported above, under-five mortality
rate is expected to decline clearly over the next decades from 83 per 1000
live births in 2010 to 46 in 2030 and then to 32 per 1000 live births by
5: Zimbabwe – Urban/Rural population
The context of a rapid urbanisation in next decades exposes policy-makers to
further pressures in terms of proper urban planning and provision of
services to cater for the growing cities.
More investment in water and sanitation services, urban housing, electricity
provision, health services, urban transport, and ICT services, among others,
is required. Zimbabwe is ranked among the lowest countries in the world on
information technology. Compared to other countries in the region, Zimbabwe
has been slow in harnessing the commercial and governance potential offered
by the new ICT developments.
This can be attributed to a weak investment climate. Growth of the ICT
sector in Zimbabwe, although slow, will accelerate, with respect to mobile
telephony and through new and innovative services like mobile-banking. The
potential for this industry to generate jobs is already evident and
policy-makers will embrace such developments, especially if they improve
6: Zimbabwe: Communication indicators and 7: Zimbabwe – Electricity
Prospects for Zimbabwe generally look bright for the next few decades to
2050. However, certain policy choices need to be made to keep and sustain
the current recovery momentum.
Professor Ncube is Chief Economist and Vice President of the African
Development Bank Group. He is former Barbican Bank CEO and Dean of Wits
Business School, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa.
February 15, 2013 in Opinion
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono and Finance minister Tendai Bit have been
on a crusade of financial inclusion.
Candid Comment with Itai Masuku
They mean the same thing but perhaps for different reasons. For the Reserve
Bank financial inclusion refers to the “unbanked”, basically people who do
not have bank accounts.
Reasons for this may vary from not having readily accessible banking
facilities, as might apply to rural areas or simply not earning enough to
justify a bank account. On the other hand treasury is more interested in
getting those funds into its own coffers.
Both men have a problem with the fact that at any given time, for the same
amount that circulates officially in Zimbabwe, through the banks, almost an
equivalent amount is circulating outside the system.
That means neither Gono nor Biti have access to those funds. Blue chip
Innscor has an axiom that goes; “follow the money”. And as anyone can see,
these guys do follow the money.
Following that maxim, one decided to examine where the money has gone and
found what one may liken to Charles Dickens’ Tale of Two Cities. In one
aspect of our country we have the classical Marxist Leninist scenario where
wealth (and in our case liquidity) is concentrated in the hands of a few.
This is the economy of the people whom we see speeding around in huge
automobiles with V8 and four-litre-plus engines running on petrol at that.
Many of them live in mountain-built mansions, are in the process of building
some or are renovating them for the umpteenth time.
If we call to mind what ended up being dubbed the “Warren Buffett tax
proposals” that US President Barack Obama mulled on for the better part
before his re-election campaign, we can draw some parallels with our own
situation at home.
These super rich pay a very small proportion of their income towards tax. In
fact, the supercars and mansions may be means of avoiding tax. This leaves
the only remaining tax base as the “unbanked”. This is the second part of
our tale of two countries.
It’s now difficult to call them the working class, or proletariat, given the
dismal unemployment levels in the country. Experts tell us those in formal
employment in the country amount to 800 000 people, out of Zimbabwe’s
approximately 12 million, a mere 6,7% of the populace. The rest are the
unemployed, semi-employed, or self-employed.
The last category therefore constitutes the remaining tax base. I call this
the dollar economy because here, most things are sold for a dollar or less.
If government wants to follow the money immediately, this is where they
should go. However, morally this is unsound as it implies robbing the poor
to give to the rich.
Politically this is calling the devil from the vast deep. But there are
proposals to amend Zimbabwe’s tax laws, and a cursory glance suggests, like
the Buffett proposals, the net may be closing in not so much on the bottom
tier economy but on the fat cats who have enjoyed the reverse of the Robin
February 15, 2013 in Opinion
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) chairperson Retired Justice Simpson
Mutambanengwe’s resignation this week — officially on health grounds amid
reports he had been forced out by Zanu PF — compounds the severe credibility
deficit bedevilling the controversial electoral body ahead of the referendum
on the draft constitution and general elections.
Zimbabwe Independent Editorial
Zec’s role in the electoral system is central and critical so its
credibility must be solid and unassailable. Elections run by a body
perceived as partisan and lacking integrity cannot produce credible outcomes
respected by the contestants and voters.
In fact, they create a legitimacy crisis for those claiming victory. Without
the consent of the governed, rulers effectively become dictators imposing
themselves on the people against popular will. Their mandate would simply be
illegitimate and thus open to challenge in the courts and the streets.
In this connection, the last thing Zimbabwe — still struggling to resolve a
decade-long political stalemate which triggered serious economic problems —
needs is another disputed election, but as matters stand the country is
hurtling down that familiar path.
While government officials say the referendum is in March and elections in
July, the reality is that the political situation and electoral environment
has not significantly changed.
Zec is still the same organisationally, structurally and administratively.
It is still staffed by the same officials who in 2008 spent five weeks
withholding results of the first round of the presidential election which
President Robert Mugabe had lost.
Their credibility took a knock as a result of that, especially after the
presidential election run-off which was marred by violence, intimidation and
all sorts of irregularities which forced Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to
drop out of the race, leaving Mugabe to claim a dubious victory.
While officially it is said Mutambanengwe resigned on health grounds, we
have information to show he was pressured to go by Zanu PF officials who
never wanted him because he is perceived as opposed to the party’s policies
and had unfinished business with the current leadership dating back to the
He may well have been ailing, but political pressure was brought to bear on
him to quit. This has serious implications for Zec’s standing and conducting
of the next elections.
The constitution requires that Zec commissioners be chosen for their
integrity, experience and competence in the conduct of affairs in the public
or private sector. However, while Zec has some people of high moral,
academic and professional standing, it is also staffed with personnel with
In other words, those who worked for the security forces — police, CIO or
That is why the issue of Zec was subject to party political negotiations for
The issue of the secretariat and staffing was debated, but there was no
The MDC parties wanted new staff appointed, but Zanu PF refused in the way
it opposed security sector reform. This is a recipe for yet another disputed
February 15, 2013 in Opinion
REPORTS show Zanu PF’s controversial indigenisation programme is riddled
with serious problems characterised by client politics — which have a strong
interaction with the dynamics of identity politics — and corruption in the
form of extortion, bribery, cronyism and patronage.
Editor’s Memo with Dumisani Muleya
These reports intensify our persistent worries that although the empowerment
drive is necessary, this current model has been discredited by its
implementers who have reduced it to a rent-seeking campaign.
Architects of the indigenisation and empowerment programme claim they want
to overhaul the economic structure and correct historical imbalances in
economic ownership, control and benefit. They say it’s a transformational
agenda which is an expression of the ideals of the liberation struggle that
included land reform.
Engineers of indigenisation — who are also basically proponents of resource
nationalisation — say the liberation struggle was not simply about majority
rule but also economic freedom.
However, their critics argue that although the principle of indigenisation
is justified, its execution and the motives of those behind it are
questionable and must be interrogated. They fear that if implemented in an
opportunistic and chaotic manner — in other words without a structural
approach — it would destroy the economy struggling to recover from an
unprecedented meltdown in the decade preceding 2009.
Critics also say the trouble with this model is that in its current form, it
amounts to rent-seeking. They view it as some sort of a Ponzi scheme on a
framework dependent on unknown events and calculations open to manipulation
Those spearheading the programme are widely seen as opportunists trying to
make money like Russian oligarchs during the end of the Soviet era under
Mikhail Gorbachev, later Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin.
The oligarchs — known by some as billionaires from nowhere — emerged as
well-connected entrepreneurs who started from nearly nothing and got rich
through participation in the market via connections to corrupt senior
government officials during Russia’s transition from a command to a
In the Zimbabwean case, Zanu PF officials are trying to use their power and
influence to redistribute wealth to themselves through political lobbying
and collusion rather than creating new wealth and increasing overall
efficiency of the economy, while creating jobs.
This is the trouble with this indigenisation process.
To start with, it is highly politicised and is designed to serve the
political and specific electoral agenda of Zanu PF. There is nothing wrong
with Zanu PF campaigning on that platform, but if the execution is seen as
designed to benefit the triumvirate of the party’s elite, a narrow clique
for that matter, their partisan business collaborators and military chiefs
then it becomes a problematic issue.
Had it been well-articulated, sold to politicians across parties, business
and the public in a non-partisan manner and explained in a way that it is
seen as a programme to fulfil the people’s aspirations, it would have stood
a better chance of being embraced on a national scale.
But Indigenisation minister Saviour Kasukuwere and his clique has tended to
make inflammatory statements, undermining their cause while sending shivers
down the spines of investors.
As a result, the indigensation debate has poisoned national economic
discourse, with populists insisting they can build a new economy with a wide
ownership base through an equity model while critics argue this rent-seeking
approach to empowerment will not only fail to create new wealth, but also
have a disastrous impact on the economy leaving the intended beneficiaries
more impoverished and miserable.