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Fresh trouble at Nestlé Harare plant

by Brian Chiwara Friday 19 February 2010

HARARE - Swiss multinational firm Nestlé looks set for fresh trouble at its
Harare plant after two senior managers claimed they were being victimised
because they are black.

Nestlé temporarily closed its Harare factory last December, complaining of
harassment by authorities after it refused to take milk supplies from a farm
owned by President Robert Mugabe's family. The factory was re-opened last
month after Nestlé received assurances from the government that its
operations would not be interfered with.

But the Swiss-headquartered milk processor could find itself embroiled in a
new wrangle with the Harare authorities after the black executives wrote to
the Ministry of Labour claiming they were being fired from their positions
allegedly as part of a "racial cleansing" exercise to remove all local
blacks from managerial positions.

In a letter to the labour ministry written by their lawyer, human resources
manager Saymore Gopo and supply chain manager Godfrey Dube claimed they were
being dismissed to pave way for expatriates.

They said: "The entire sequence of events surrounding this matter is deeply
rooted in the racial cleansing which is being driven by some forces in the
management of Nestlé as a company who are orchestrating a plan to eliminate
black African managers from the company.

"The former managing director designate of Nestlé Zimbabwe, one H Tilley,
has been on record for clearly bragging that they will wield the axe on all
black managers and bring in expatriates to fill their vacancies."

ZimOnline was unable to last night to reach Nestlé's Nairobi-based
spokeswoman on Zimbabwe, Brinda Chiniah, to get the company's response to
the claims of racial victimisation by the two senior workers at its Harare

But sources said Nestlé's Equatorial Africa regional head for human
resources, who they identified only as H.K Singh, was expected in Harare on
Thursday to try and resolve the two managers' case before it gets out of

Nestlé, which until last October had bought between 10 and 15 percent of
milk processed at its Harare plant from Gushungo Dairy owned by Mugabe's
wife Grace, stopped accepting milk from the farm after international media
coverage of the milk purchases put the firm under the spotlight.

Some human rights groups incensed at what they perceived as Nestlé's support
for Mugabe's controversial farm seizure programme had threatened to call on
consumers to boycott the company's products if it did not stop buying
Gushungo milk.

Grace was allocated Gushungo under her husband's chaotic and often violent
land reforms that also saw senior members of the military and Mugabe's ZANU
PF party, their friends and allies handed some of the best farms seized from

Nestlé came under immense pressure from Mugabe's militant supporters to
reverse the ban on milk from Grace's farm but they relented after the
company closed the Harare factory, putting about 200 jobs on the line, while
analysts warned the shutdown was damaging the country's efforts to attract
foreign investors to help shore up its battered economy.

Labour Minister Paurina Mpariwa, from the more business friendly MDC party
of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, is certain to give Nestlé fair hearing
in the dispute with its workers. But the allegations of racism will afford
Mugabe's allies an avenue to launch fresh attacks against the company. -

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Empowerment laws can trigger chaos: ZCTU

by Brian Chiwara Friday 19 February 2010

HARARE - Zimbabwe's labour movement on Thursday warned that controversial
empowerment regulations announced last week could plunge the country's
struggling industrial sector into chaos similar to the one triggered by
President Robert Mugabe's chaotic agrarian reforms in 2000.

Zimbabwe announced a new set of empowerment laws compelling foreign-owned
firms to cede controlling stake to locals.

The announcement of the regulations by Indigenisation Minister Saviour
Kasukuwere triggered an uproar from Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC-T
party, which said such policies were supposed to be negotiated under the
terms of a September 2008 power-sharing agreement that set up the country's
unity government.

"We believe this move that is coming under the guise of empowering
'indigenous people' has the potential to throw the country into anarchy just
like the chaotic land reform programme did," said ZCTU secretary general
Wellington Chibebe.

"Even within the inclusive government there is no accord and consensus on
this regulation with the MDC-T alleging that they were also not consulted
and involved. This is a recipe for economic and political disaster," he

The regulations that have sent foreign-owned firms into panic with threats
of imprisonment for foreign shareholders (or presumably their local
representatives) who fail to sell 51 percent stake to indigenous Zimbabweans
within the next five years, have also been criticised by the country's
business leaders.

The ZCTU chief said his organisation had noted that there was insufficient
stakeholder involvement and participation in crafting the policy, adding
that it was "just one of the top-down and populist policies being foisted on
the economy by government".

The labour body said it was unfortunate that such moves had been the
hallmark of government policy formulation for a long time with the
announcement of the regulations exposing that promoters of the controversial
law were unwilling to learn from past mistakes.

"The government does not have the money to buy the majority shareholding in
the targeted businesses and there is a risk that this will result in another
massive expropriation of businesses by ZANU PF-linked gurus along the lines
of the chaotic and negative-sum game of the land reform exercise," said

Mugabe on Wednesday endorsed the controversial empowerment laws, saying the
49 percent shareholding to be left in the hands of foreign investors was

"Forty-nine percent is a hell lot," said Mugabe after officially opening an
investment conference in Harare, adding; It's only them that are saying it's
small and it's foolish and selfish."

But the ZCTU warned the regulations would create disincentives for private
sector investment.  It said there would be no creation of new wealth since
government will simply "help itself to other people's sweat and efforts by
expropriating existing businesses".

Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) president Kumbirai Katsande last
week said business would lobby the government over the new regulations that
Kasukuwere said will become effective on March 1.

Under the empowerment regulations foreign-owned businesses operating in
Zimbabwe will be forced to sell a majority stake to locals by March 2015.

The regulations are seen as a potentially fatal blow to efforts to woo
foreign investors to help rebuild the country's economy shattered by 10
years of political turmoil and acute recession. - ZimOnline

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Zim budgets US$28m for World Cup

by Own Correspondent Friday 19 February 2010

HARARE - Zimbabwe's Tourism Ministry has submitted a US$28 million budget to
treasury for the sector's needs during the June World Cup finals in South
Africa, at a time when one team participating at the finals has agreed to
use Zimbabwe as their base.

Tourism Minister Walter Mzembi said on Wednesday the budget had been sent to
the Finance Ministry.

"We have submitted a US$28 million budget to enable Zimbabwe to fulfil its
objectives before the World Cup in June and it is currently under
consideration," he said.

He added that it was crucial that the funding be provided before the end of
this month for some of the projects to be completed on time.

So far, US$1.5 million has been secured from the private sector for the
establishment of 15 fan parks across the country.

South Africa will not be able to accommodate about 450 000 visitors expected
for the World Cup, opening up an opportunity for neigbouring countries to
benefit economically.

Zimbabwe, expecting economic benefits from the World Cup, has been busy
trying to spruce up tourist destinations, hotels and stadiums to lure World
Cup teams and visitors.

Mzembi said the government had since agreed with one team that will be
taking part in the World Cup 2010 finals to use Zimbabwe as its base while
another "brand team" was also considering using the country as its base.

He however could not be drawn into mentioning the names of the two teams
citing confidentiality.

The southern African country's tourism industry is picking up after
suffering a downturn in the aftermath of President Robert Mugabe's chaotic
and often violent land redistribution exercise that attracted negative
publicity for the country to scare away foreign tourists.

This week Zimbabwe hosted a Tourism investment Conference - that attracted 1
000 delegates from across the world, including the World Tourism
Organisation, the Regional Tourist Organisation of Southern Africa, and
tourism ministers from African countries including Ghana, Zambia, Sierra
Leone and Cameroon - to drum up foreign investment inflows for the tourism
industry. - ZimOnline

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US Congressional Delegation Meets Zimbabwe Leadership, Advances Re-Engagement

Finance Minister Tendai Biti told reporters that he hoped the U.S.
congressional delegation would recommend amendments to the Zimbabwe
Democracy and Economic and Recovery Act, the basis for sanctions

Blessing Zulu | Washington 18 February 2010

Members of a US congressional delegation met Thursday with Zimbabwean
President Robert Mugabe and Finance Minister Tendai Biti to discuss progress
in fully implementing the September 2008 Global Political Agreement for
power sharing and on reforms by the Harare unity government.

After meeting the US lawmakers, Biti, also secretary general of the Movement
for Democratic Change formation of Prime Minister Tsvangirai, said he hoped
Washington would continue to re-engage with Zimbabwe.

He told reporters in a news conference that he hoped the delegation members
would recommend amendments to the Zimbabwe Democracy and Economic and
Recovery Act, which is the basis for U.S. travel and financial sanctions
targeting Mr. Mugabe and about 200 top officials of his ZANU-PF party.

Biti noted the declared U.S. position of not objecting to the restoration of
Zimbabwe's voting rights as a member of the International Monetary Fund, and
added that he hoped for help in settling the country's debt arrears so that
it may again qualify for loans from such international financial

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks, a New York Democrat, offered an upbeat message on
restoring bilateral relations and rebuilding Zimbabwe's economy.

"We're delighted to be here again," said the African-American legislator,
whose delegation was in Harare in September 2009, "and I think that what you
will see is more members of the United States Congress coming to visit,
coming to engage and coming to work with the people of Zimbabwe so that we
can make sure that tomorrow is better than today because we understand that
the future is where we should be headed as opposed to just looking back at
the past."

Reporters quizzed the finance minister on the state of the unity government
and negotiations on the so-called outstanding issues. Biti, chief negotiator
for the Tsvangirai MDC formation in intra-governmental talks, said it is
time to put the unresolved issues troubling the unity government in the
hands of South African President Jacob Zuma and the Southern African
Development Community.

"We're going nowhere on the dialogue" with ZANU-PF," Biti said, "and
therefore it is very important for President Zuma and South Africa to step
in and step in quickly. We as negotiators have reached our ceiling - it
should be taken out of our hands because continuing to let us negotiate,
we're wasting time."

He said negotiators for the three unity parties have "reached where our own
human capabilities can take us as negotiators, therefore we need a bigger
brain, that of President Zuma, and more wisdom, that of SADC."

Christopher Mutsvangwa, a member of the ZANU-PF information committee and a
former ambassador to China, told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu that he
sees the visit by the US delegation as a significant development.

Elsewhere, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara said the government was
very concerned at the way in which the European Union extended sanctions on
President Mugabe and many other ZANU-PF officials without consultations
under the so-called EU-Zimbabwean Re-engagement Committee.

The committee includes ministers of the three governing parties and EU
envoys to Harare led by Swedish Ambassador Sten Rylander. The Swedish
diplomat declined to comment on the sanctions decision taken in Brussels.

Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara told VOA's Blessing Zulu that the European
Union displayed arrogance and must remove all sanctions.

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Zimbabwe lawmakers to visit US

HARARE, Feb 18 (AFP)

Lawmakers from Zimbabwe's three main political parties are to visit the
United States in a bid to mend relations between between Harare and
Washington, an official said on Thursday.

The visit, on dates yet to be announced, is meant to change the US
government's perception of Zimbabwe, the official said.

"It was all agreed that the US embassy will process visas for them,
irrespective of party or party affiliation," said the official after a
meeting between President Robert Mugabe and five US Congressmen.

"The meeting also agreed that the US Black Caucus will once every year hold
joint presentations in South Africa with our members of parliament."

Gregory Meeks, leader of the US delegation, said the talks with Mugabe were

"It was a very constructive meeting, we talked about improving
relationships. We look forward to working to working with him," he said.

Relations between the Zimbabwe and the United States were strained after
Zimbabwe's presidential elections in 2002 which were judged by Western
observers to have been rigged to hand Mugabe victory.

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US congressmen say Zimbabwe still unstable

February 19, 2010

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - A visiting delegation of US congressmen said Thursday that Zimbabwe
still had a long way to go in restoring political stability, although there
was some progress registered on some fronts.

"Zimbabwe does have a long way to go in terms of creating the kind of
political stability and the economic stability that can cause the country to
re-grow and to bring back a better way for life for Zimbabweans,"
Representative Bob Goodlatte (Virginia) told journalists during a joint
press briefing with Finance Minister Tendai Biti.

He, however, said that the visit to Zimbabwe by the delegation, which was
being led by Representative Gregory Meeks, had helped change some negative
perceptions the US still had on Zimbabwe's coalition government.

"It's very encouraging," said Goodlatte. "I think a lot of progress has been
made since the agreement that was negotiated by Mr Biti and others.

"The key to that is the kind of agreement that was negotiated; the
constitution that now has been worked.

"That is very, very important to ensure the rights of individual citizens,
that Zimbabweans have a stable government regardless of who wins elections
and that the government will respect the rule of law and that the ability of
people to come in and invest money in this country will grow and those who
want to invest here internally will have a system that will protect their

Representative Meeks said the Americans were encouraged that Zimbabwe's
coalition government was beginning to find that its role was not to fight
but to work together for a better Zimbabwe.

"That's a tremendous change in the way we perceive what the inclusive
government was all about," he said.

On his part, Biti said he had appealed for increased integration of Zimbabwe
into the international community.

During his briefing with the American delegation, Biti said he also
highlighted the challenges the inclusive government continued to face.

He added, "The major point we have highlighted is that it is critical for
the sake of Zimbabwe that the United States in particular reengages fully
with Zimbabwe."

Biti is also secretary-general for Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's
mainstream MDC.

"I have also had occasion to thank them for the support that we have
received from the United States of America vis-ŕ-vis the support towards the
restoration of our voting rights," he said.

Later in the afternoon, the US delegation met President Robert Mugabe at
State House and Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe.

The US delegation flew into Zimbabwe Wednesday for a series of meetings with
government officials, the civic society as well as touring some projects run
by the American government in Zimbabwe.

It is the second visit by the US delegation of congressmen in five months.

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Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Said to Renege on Deal to Surrender Assets for Auction

Farmtec attorney Davison Kanokanga, said the deputy sheriff has made several
fruitless trips to the RBZ seeking to have the property in Mutare and
Nyanga, Manicaland province, handed over to auctioneers

Gibbs Dube | Washington 18 February 2010

The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has reneged on an agreement with the Office of
the Sheriff to deliver assets under judicial attachment to settle a US$2.1
million debt to Farmtec Supplies and Implements, sources said Thursday.

Farmtec attorney Davison Kanokanga, said the deputy sheriff has made several
fruitless trips to the RBZ seeking to have the property in Mutare and
Nyanga, Manicaland province, handed over to auctioneers.

Kanokanga told VOA Studio 7 reporter Gibbs Dube that in light of the central
bank's failure to deliver the movable assets to the sheriff in Harare,
auctioneers are now expected to sell them in on spot in Nyanga and Mutare.

He said he had instructed the deputy sheriff to attach more movable property
as the property already attached, including computers and other office
equipment, will not be sufficient to cover the judgment against the central

"We are now looking at attaching more office equipment, motor vehicles and
other RBZ valuable assets," Kanokanga said.

He said the attached property would be auctioned early next month.

The Office of the Sheriff has attached five buildings belonging to the
central bank that may also go under the hammer if Farmtec is not paid.

The deeply-indebted bank, believed to be insolvent and close to collapse,
ordered 150 tractors from Farmtec as an implementing agent for the Farm
Mechanization and Agricultural Support Enhancement Facility under the
previous ZANU-PF government of President Robert Mugabe.

Farmtec supplied some 60 tractors worth US$2.1 million and the remaining 90
were to be delivered once the bank paid for that consignment.

More recently, the Reserve Bank failed to redeem as scheduled bonds it
issued to mining companies in lieu of cash payment for gold it received from
mining companies between 2007 and 2008.

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Biti calls for South African intervention

February 19, 2010

By Our Correspondent

HARARE - Finance Minister Tendai Biti has made an appeal to both South
Africa and the SADC to help break the deadlock that continues to trouble
Zimbabwe's inclusive government.Speaking to journalists in Harare Thursday,
Biti, who is also secretary general of the mainstream MDC, led by Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, said negotiators from the two MDC parties and
Zanu PF had irredeemably failed to resolve their differences.

"We are going no where on the dialogue and therefore it is very important
for President Zuma and South Africa to step in and step in quickly," Biti

"We as negotiators have reached our ceiling. It should be taken out of our
hands. Continuing to let us negotiate we are wasting time because we have
tried. We have been negotiating since the 14th of May 2007.

"I think we have reached where our human capabilities can take us as
negotiators. Therefore we need a bigger brain - that of President Zuma and
more wisdom that of SADC."

Biti made the remarks when he met a visiting US delegation of congressmen
who came to Zimbabwe Wednesday to assess progress in the country's coalition

The MDC is agitated by the continued refusal by President Robert Mugabe to
follow through on his part of the bargain as per Global Political Agreement
signed 2008 by the country's three major political parties.

Key among the MDC's demands is the refusal of the unilateral appointments by
President Mugabe, of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono and
Attorney General Johannes Tomana.

The MDC also wants to see commitment by Zanu-PF on the restoration of the
rule of law in Zimbabwe and the reformation of key government institutions
and security services which continue to discharge their duties with bias.

Also among the MDC's demands is the speedy liberalization of the media
landscape which is still firmly under the control of President Mugabe's

Zanu PF is adamant it will not make any more concessions to MDC claiming it
has fulfilled everything expected of it under the GPA.

Instead, Zanu-PF wants the MDC to influence the lifting of western imposed
sanctions targeted at some of its top officials, associated businesses and
those seen as stifling the rule of law in Zimbabwe.

The MDC is adamant all parties to the inclusive process should participate
equally in forcing the scrapping of sanctions.

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Striking Zimbabwe Civil Servants Return to Harare Gardens to Map Way Forward

Chairwoman Tendayi Chikowore of the Apex negotiating panel for public
workers told VOA that there is no end to the strike in sight as the
government has not been engaging unions and other public service

Marvellous Mhlanga-Nyahuye & Patience Rusere 18 February 2010

Organizations representing Zimbabwe's striking civil servants met today in
the capital, Harare, to evaluate their two-week-old labor action.

Chairwoman Tendayi Chikowore of the Apex negotiating panel for public
workers told VOA that there is no end to the strike in sight as the
government has not been engaging unions and other public service

Chikowore told VOA Studio 7 reporter Marvellous Mhlanga Nyahuye that the
Apex Council has called a mass public meeting of civil servants on Friday at
Harare Gardens in central Harare to discuss the way forward.

The strike was called on Friday, February 5, during such a mass meeting of
state workers whose representatives had previously set a deadline for action
by the strapped national unity government on low public salaries.

Civil servants earn a maximum US$200 a month, though the Consumer Council of
Zimbabwe says a family of six needs a monthly US$520 dollars to get by.

State workers want a monthly base salary of US$630, insisting the government
could afford to boost wages if it would tap diamond revenues.

To examine the demands of state workers and the impact of the strike, VOA
Studio 7 reporter Patience Rusere turned to Executive Director Abel Chikomo
of the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum and Acting Program Officer Lorraine
Mupatsiri of the Combined Harare Residents Association.

Mupatsiri says school children have been affected most by the strike, which
includes most primary and secondary school teachers.

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Zimbabwe Inflation Rising as Disinflationary Effect of Hard-Currency Move Fades

Though the annual inflation rate is still negative, the 4.7% increase in
prices in the past two months is likely to concern economists, though the
rolling three month average of 1.5% remains far from hyperinflationary

Blessing Zulu | Washington 18 February 2010

Zimbabwean consumer prices rose 2.9 percent in January after a 1.8 percent
monthly gain in December, leaving the 12-month inflation through January
at -4.8 percent, the Central Statistical Office said Thursday.

The annual inflation rate in December was -7.7 percent, but a hefty 2.3
percent decline in prices in January 2009 combined with recent rising prices
for basic goods eroded that legacy of disinflationary forces early last year
resulting from the adoption of a monetary regimen of mixed hard currencies -
primarily the U.S. dollar, the South African rand and the Botswana pula.

Though the annual inflation rate is still negative, the 4.7% increase in
prices in the past two months is likely to concern economists, though the
rolling three month average of 1.5% remains far from hyperinflationary

Harare economist John Robertson told VOA Studio 7 reporter Blessing Zulu
that higher prices are in store this year after disinflation in 2009.

The inflation news emerged one day before the International Monetary Fund in
Washington was to consider reinstating Zimbabwe's voting rights, suspended
in 2003 over debt arrears and disagreements over macroeconomic policy.

IMF spokesman David Hawley told Reuters that the restoration of voting
rights would not mean that Zimbabwe regained access to multilateral credit.
"Access to general resources would depend on Zimbabwe clearing its arrears
to the (IMF) Poverty Reduction  and Growth Trust," Hawley said.

Finance minister Tendai Biti is due in Washington on Friday. He previously
told VOA that Germany, Britain and the United States have assured him that
they will not oppose the restoration of Zimbabwe's voting rights.

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93pc drop in Zimbabwe prison deaths

18/02/2010 00:00:00
by Lebo Nkatazo

ZIMBABWE'S prisons have seen a 93 percent drop in the death rate and are now
under-populated by 24 percent, Deputy Justice Minister Jessie Majome
revealed in parliament this week.

The shock revelations came as Majome took questions from MPs, a year after a
power sharing government was sworn in to cool political tensions and ease
the country's economic crisis.

Prior to the coalition pact between President Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF party
and rival MDC factions led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his
deputy Arthur Mutambara, Amnesty International said 1,000 prisoners were
dying every six months in Zimbabwe's overcrowded jails.

Mugabe pardoned 2,500 prisoners last year, including terminally ill inmates,
and Majome says that move coupled with an improving economic environment has
caused a decline in deaths.
Zimbabwe's prisons have a capacity to hold 17,000 inmates, but as of
February 8, 2010, they were holding 13,361, Majome said.

That number includes 3,687 remand prisoners awaiting trial, 9,671 who are
serving their sentences, three who are undergoing civil punishment and two
who are awaiting sentence.

Majome told parliament: "As of 2009, we had a dark time as a country but we
are encouraged to note that as of January 2010, the deaths were just SEVEN
... a 93 percent drop in the death rate.
"The death rate of 2009 was also a result of the economic environment the
country was facing, so the prisons were not spared."

In answers to MPs, Majome said the major cause of death was
"immunosuppression", and appealed to non-governmental organisation to step
up aid to the prison service with most government finances committed to
other departments.

Majome tinctured the good news with an admission that the Zimbabwe Prison
Services (ZPS) is failing to transport prisoners to and from court - with
the whole country served by ONE TRUCK.

"The Minister is currently seeking funding to correct this and we are
exploring the possibility of actually moving the mountain to Mohammed, but
we have challenges," she added.

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Might is not always right

February 18, 2010
John Robertson

THE world's reactions to the latest attempts by Zimbabwe's political masters
to rectify what they insist are huge distortions caused by the country's
colonial experience have dropped off to barely suppressed yawns.

There they go again, this small number of inadequate people who so deeply
envy the success that anyone else has achieved that they never stop hatching
plots to gain control over their assets. If these politicians can think up
half an excuse to resent the very existence of those whose assets they want,
they will turn the acquisition process into a national crusade.

Their basic assumption is that, by over-throwing the colonial government,
they - the top politicians - could rightfully claim ownership rights over
everything in the country. But as a few inconvenient laws stood in the way,
such as property rights and civil rights, a few laws had to be changed or
new laws written to overcome these handicaps. And if the targeted owners
could claim the protection of the constitution, the answer was simple: amend
the constitution.

Another assumption is that every Zimbabwean is either happy with the idea of
latching onto the assets of others, or can be persuaded that, as the
interests of important people are being well served by the process, it would
not be their own interests to interfere. This distinction does separate the
Zimbabweans who are grasping opportunists from those who feel an obligation
to work for what they want. However, so far the assumption that none of them
will raise objections to the process has proved fairly sound.

Even so, the important distinction between those who jump at the chance to
take what they can get for nothing and those who feel they should work for
the things they want to own has to be recognised. The vast majority of
Zimbabweans have a keen sense of what is fair and just, so the vast majority
did not scramble onto the commercial farms to loot the homesteads,
warehouses and workshops as soon as the ruling party declared that the
farmers no longer enjoyed the protection of the law.

Of course, the few thousand who were delighted to make the most of the
opportunity were more than enough to do a thorough job. Most of the farms
acquired by the State have ceased to function and most of the looted items
also soon dropped out of use. Looters and scavengers do not often make good
managers and producers.

The vast majority that did not participate in the destruction were keenly
aware that what was happening was wrong. Now a very high proportion of them
are even more keenly aware that they have been directly and severely
affected. Even if their own source of income was a long way downstream from
agriculture, they might be among the many that have lost their jobs.

They might also have shared the dismay of their children when their schools
were rendered ineffective or when they failed to find employment, and they
might have lost loved-ones when the hospitals ceased to function. And they
will all have lost their life's savings when the government's post Land
Reform behaviour destroyed Zimbabwe's currency.

Unfortunately, the Zanu-PF-supported smash-and-grab brigade has responded
differently to such setbacks. With no feelings of guilt or shame and with no
expressions of remorse, they are now lining up to participate in the latest
raid on the property of others. When asked whether they think a repeat of
the process is a good idea, their answers show that they remain as selfish
as ever and totally indifferent to the suffering their actions might be to
thousands or millions of other people. They remain a tiny minority, but
their capacity for destruction is as intense as ever.

The architects of the previously damaging sequences dismiss accusations of
failure with the blunt observation that "It was theirs, now it is ours. That
is success". If the subject of the disappearance of production is raised,
the questioner is accused of changing the subject.

Just how incredibly shallow their thinking is, and how unbelievably selfish
and callous they are as people shows up particularly well when they defend
the Land Reform policies. The loss of Zimbabwe's commercial agricultural
production was at the expense of 350 000 farm worker's jobs and of the
housing and security of their families, totalling nearly two million people.
More than a million children lost their places in the schools provided by
the farmers.

These farms were highly productive and they helped Zimbabwe acquire the
reputation of dependable suppliers of valuable food and non-food
agricultural exports. These export revenues, in turn, inspired confidence
among international bankers, who showed this by extending generous lines of
credit to Zimbabwean banks that could therefore offer considerable
assistance to local businesses.

When the commercial farm output was cut to a fraction of former levels,
forcing a loss of export earnings and also forcing Zimbabwe to import food
that it had formerly produced in abundance, the country was soon unable to
service its debts. Its debts remain unpaid - nearly US$6 billion - and the
lost tobacco production alone would have been more than sufficient to pay it

Despite all that, believe it or not, the Zanu-PF heavyweights still believe
that Land Reform was a glorious success. The few dozen party officials who
enriched themselves in the smash-and-grab exercise could not care less about
the welfare of the millions affected. As for the unpaid debts, they are now
trying to argue that Zimbabwe should qualify for debt forgiveness!

The new schemes that they believe will legalise their right to acquire the
property of others, this time in the form of the majority of their shares in
their businesses, appears to have made a few of the Zanu-PF supporters
concerned. Perhaps they have been persuaded that the effects on highly
technical factories will be the same as the effects on highly technical
farming operations, and the end result will again be a collapse.

Or perhaps they have now decided that they should join the majority who
believe that the idea is fundamentally wrong, and who have no doubt at all
that merely having the power to force policies into operation does not make
the policy-maker right.

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Mugabe legacy: Ruining Africa’s jewel

by Edith Kaseke Friday 19 February 2010

HARARE – Zimbabwe’s once showcase education and health sectors are in a
state of accelerated decay, in a vivid reminder of how a jewel so tirelessly
built by President Robert Mugabe’s government after independence has been
shattered and its ruins a hallmark of the veteran leader’s controversial
rule, especially in the last decade.

Opponents of the ageing leader say he has run one of Africa’s most promising
economies to the ground, through mismanagement, controversial populist
policies and a patronage system that rewards political loyalties at the
expense of competence.

A parliamentary committee report this week showed that the massive brain
drain, which has heightened in the last decade, has left the University of
Zimbabwe (UZ), the country’s premier education institution, edging towards

Less than 500 lecturers, all underpaid, now remain at the university, a
figure less than half the required full compliment of around 1 200,
resulting in some programmes in the sciences faculty being suspended.

State of decay

The sciences faculty requires 211 lecturers but only 32 are available,
clearly amplifying the state of decay that has gripped what was once an envy
of the continent.

“This is all concrete evidence of the government’s failures over the years,”
John Makumbe, a political science lecturer at the UZ said.

“But is it not ironic that all that ZANU PF (Mugabe’s party) built they have
made sure they have destroyed and it is that destruction that people will
remember most and will surely be Mugabe’s legacy?” Makumbe said.

Hailed as an African democrat at independence from Britain in 1980 when his
government rapidly improved education, health and social infrastructure for
the historically disadvantaged blacks, Mugabe now stands accused of being an
aged dictator illegally hanging onto power.

Skilled workers in the education and health sectors have fled Zimbabwe in
large numbers to search for better paying jobs in the region and as far as
Britain, United States and Australia.

The dawn of a unity government last year, formed by rivals Mugabe and Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai brought euphoric optimism that the economic and
political nightmares of the past decade were about to end.

The government was to provide a quick fix to the country’s ills, Zimbabweans
hoped. But the administration has only been able to improve some aspects of
life for the majority while the major problems are yet to be fixed. For
example, public hospitals remain under-funded and understaffed with the
barest of drugs’ stocks, and so are schools and universities.

Little confidence

Bankrupt and divided, the coalition has failed to attract back lecturers and
key staff to the country’s state universities and state health institutions,
suggesting that Zimbabweans have little confidence that the political
arrangement could ever give birth to a secure future.

Many continue to look beyond the borders for salvation.

“I am currently working on my papers to go to Australia, I don’t think
things will ever improve here as before,” said 26-year-old Grace Majome, a
nurse at Parirenyatwa Hospital.

According to the International Organisation for Migration, hundreds of
Zimbabweans continued to leave the country every week in search of jobs,
with South Africa being the destination of choice after Africa’s largest
economy relaxed visa requirements last year.

Only last week, South Africa’s northern Limpopo province said it wanted to
hire 600 Zimbabwean teachers to fill in vacant positions for mathematics but
observers say more local teachers continue to be quietly hired in public and
private schools there.

State employees, who get an average salary of $160 every month have been on
strike for nearly two weeks, in a blow to the unity administration’s efforts
to shore up health and education, the pillars of social services.

Public infrastructure like roads and sewer systems and electricity
generation has not improved in Zimbabwe despite the formation of the new
government last February.

To restore public infrastructure, the country needs $2.5 billion and another
$800 million just to bring existing power stations to full capacity. The
government has put a $10 billion tag to rebuild the economy – money no one
is willing to lend the bankrupt administration.

Stymieing reforms

No wonder Zimbabweans are growing increasingly impatient and angry over the
government’s failures and have watched in horror as the decay continues,
with Western donors holding onto to critical funding, accusing ZANU PF of
stymieing democratic reforms.

“I don’t think I want to work here when I finish college, I am thinking of
going to Botswana or to the Middle East where I hear the salaries are far
higher,” said Simba Chitambo, a second year Agricultural Economics and
Extension sciences student at UZ.

“If I stay here I will only be working in government for $150 a month and I
don’t think I want to spend four years in school so that I will earn that

This week, Harare authorities said city residents would receive water once
in three days because the main pumping stations could only produce 60
percent of the required provisions and of that 40 percent was being lost
through leakages because of outdated piping.

The council says it needs $250 million to restore water to Harare, money it
does not have and bad news for institutions like the UZ, which have shut its
halls of residence.

On Sunday Mugabe, who is one of the longest serving and oldest leaders, will
turn 86 years and will be deep in the sunset of a long political career in
which he has divided supporters and foes alike.

To many in the teaming cities and towns that have borne the brunt of
Zimbabwe’s economic collapse Mugabe is a villain they hold directly
responsible for deepening poverty and rising unemployment in the country.

Historic elections

But there are still many especially in the rural areas and on resettled
former white farms who in spite of economic hardship remain fond of Mugabe –
if the results of the historic elections in 2008 are anything to go by.

Mugabe and ZANU PF lost the March 2008 vote against the then main opposition
MDC-T party and its leader Morgan Tsvangirai but managed to garner enough
votes to prevent a landslide by the hugely popular MDC.

On his part, Mugabe accepts no blame for the collapsed roads, sewers, power
shortages, brain drain, economic rot and high unemployment in Zimbabwe.
Mugabe blames Zimbabwe's spectacular failure on a plot by Western countries,
led by the UK, to oust him because of his seizure of white-owned farms.

Makumbe, a long time critic of the Zimbabwean leader disagrees: “Mugabe is
yesterday’s man, he has turned a success story into Africa’s shame, and that
will be what most Zimbabweans will remember him for,” he said. – ZimOnline

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