PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's remarks on Zanu PF's explosive power
struggle in his birthday interview broadcast on Tuesday night were heavily
The editing of Mugabe's interview - to maintain a veil of secrecy on
his views on the succession debate and aspiring candidates - resulted in the
removal of what would have been a valuable insight into the president's
In the original interview - two-and-a-half hours long before being
edited to an hour for broadcasting - Mugabe bares his soul on the succession
wrangles and makes hitherto undisclosed views.
Those who attended the interview said Mugabe spoke candidly about the
issue, referring to leading succession candidates Vice-President Joice
Mujuru and her rival Emmerson Mnangagwa. Mugabe is said to have referred for
the first time to the "Mujuru side" - meaning the Zanu PF faction led by
retired army commander Solomon Mujuru and the camp led by Mnangagwa in ways
never disclosed before.
Mugabe made veiled attacks on Joice Mujuru, virtually accusing her of
plotting with former Zanu PF secretary-general Edgar Tekere and prominent
publisher Ibbo Mandaza to use Tekere's autobiography, A Lifetime of
Struggle, to undermine him while in the process promoting her presidential
Mugabe's spokesman George Charamba yesterday said there was nothing
unusual about the editing of the president's interview. "As the president's
press secretary, I'm more than satisfied that the drift of the president's
message was achieved," Charamba said. "I'm also satisfied that the ZBH board
is within its rights to delete, retain, or postpone or archive any material
they would have got from the interviewee, that is the essence of
In the ZBC interview Mugabe suggests Tekere was being used by Mandaza,
the publisher and editor of the book, and the Mujuru faction, to damage him
for political ends.
"The Tekere/Mandaza issue, ah they are trying to campaign for Mujuru
using the book.you can't become a president by using a biography. Manje
vairasa (they have lost the plot). They don't realise they have done her
more harm than good," Mugabe is captured as saying in the censored parts of
"Now, I thought people would, if they want to campaign, fine,campaign
in the provinces. The machinery is not biographies; the people who vote for
us are ordinary people of Zimbabwe. We have a congress that will decide. It
is those people who will decide and I thought this is the way we would go
about things, not the Mandaza way."
Mandaza this week refused to comment, saying: "I have neither watched
nor read Mugabe's interview."
Mugabe suggests Mujuru's ambitions to succeed him have been "ruined"
by her associating with people on a campaign to denigrate him.
Tekere's book portrays Mugabe as a reluctant leader who rose to power
through political coups and detention-camp plots. It also says some of his
leading comrades during the war viewed him as a "sell-out".
Mugabe has been angered by the book. He has publicly attacked Tekere
about it and also complained during a Zanu PF politburo meeting on January
31. The politburo resolved to expel Tekere who was only readmitted to the
party in April last year after his dismissal in 1988. While Mugabe dents
Mujuru's ambitions in the ZBC interview, he shores up Mnangagwa by speaking
about him in glowing terms. Mugabe says there are people who think he
supports Mnangagwa, but he does not.
Mugabe goes on to narrate Mnangagwa's political case-history dating
back to the early years of the liberation struggle; how Mnangagwa was
sentenced to death by the Rhodesian regime after he tried to sabotage a
train and how he was spared execution and later deported to Zambia because
he was deemed under-age, 16 years old.
Mugabe further relates how Mnangagwa later in Mozambique became Zanu's
chief of intelligence, replacing Cletus Chigowe who was in 1978 together
with Henry Hamadziripi, Rugare Gumbo, Crispen Mandizvidza and Zivavarwe
Muparuri, implicated in an attempted coup against the Zanu leadership.
Sources said the ZBC management felt the interview in its original
form would get the public broadcaster embroiled in messy Zanu PF faction
politics. Senior ZBC staff had different views on the issue.
Some wanted Mugabe censored to protect their own camp's political
interests, while others wanted his remarks fully televised to advance their
Augustine Mukaro/Ray Matikinye
GOVERNMENT yesterday intensified its crackdown on opposition groups by
extending its ban on political rallies to more areas and arresting three MDC
officials in a move which betrays its fear of potential civil disturbances
due to deteriorating economic conditions.
Police, who of late have stepped up arrests and the beating of
opposition supporters, said the banning of rallies and meetings had been
extended to the Harare suburban district for a period of three months.
MDC faction leader Morgan Tsvangirai said the banning of rallies was a
clear "declaration of a state of emergency".
"A large cross-section of society is now in rebellious mood. There is
open defiance of violent autocratic authority," he told diplomats on
Both factions of the MDC have said they will defy the ban.
Yesterday police arrested Grace Kwinje, MDC deputy secretary for
international affairs, Elton Mangoma, deputy treasurer-general and Kambuzuma
MP Willas Madzimure, on allegations of public violence.
Their lawyer Alec Muchadehama confirmed the arrests.
"I am negotiating their release with the police but nothing tangible
is emerging. It is unlikely they will be taken to court," he said.
On Saturday, police arrested MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti and
scores of opposition supporters on similar charges but released them on bail
Prior to that, there had been a series of other arrests of opposition
members, women activists and students on anti-government protests. Police
clashed with MDC supporters in Harare and Bulawayo last week before engaging
in street battles in Highfield on Sunday.
Official sources said the prohibition of political gatherings was
recently decided upon by the Joint Operations Command - which combines the
army, police and intelligence - after realising the situation was explosive.
The decision was taken two weeks ago before the current disturbances
erupted in Harare.
Police have been putting out notices in state newspapers announcing
the banning of political meetings, claiming there had been "pandemonium,
looting and destruction of property" following opposition political rallies
in some townships. The police announcements, sources said, were a result of
a decision by the state security agencies anxious to prevent civil
The state security service in 2005 unleashed Operation Murambatsvina -
a purported urban clean-up campaign - reportedly to prevent an imminent
rising similar to Ukraine's "Orange Revolution".
Zimbabwe has of late been rocked by widespread social discontent -
manifested in strikes and protests - caused by the severe economic problems
gripping the country.
FOLLOWING complaints by Judge President Rita Makarau last month about
lack of resources, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe has spent generously on a
new fleet of vehicles and computers for sitting judges.
The central bank a fortnight ago purchased 30 top-of-the-range
vehicles which include Toyota IMV trucks on behalf of the Justice ministry
for allocation to the judges.
Makarau, speaking at the opening of the first term of the Harare High
Court in January, said government was undermining the judiciary by starving
it of resources and reducing it to "begging for its sustenance".
The consignment includes 30 laptops and 30 desktop computers which
will be used by the judges and their clerks.
The pick-up vehicles are in addition to Mercedes Benz sedans which are
the official cars issued to judges.
Legal and Parliamentary Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa confirmed
that the ministry had received the donation but denied that this was in
response to Makarau's complaints about poor conditions of service for
"Yes, we got the cars and the computers which we will be distributing
to the judges soon. In fact, some of them already have their cars," said
Chinamasa. "There is nothing sinister about the donation from the central
bank because those are state funds they are using," he said.
Chinamasa said the ministry was planning to train the judges in the
use of the computers. There are about 45 judges in the country.
The donation has however caused problems in judicial ranks with
sources saying there were grumblings from labour court judges who were
demanding that they too benefit from the donated vehicles.
An official from the ministry later addressed them to allay their
"They (the labour court) had a lot of misconceptions so we had to
explain to them that they too were going to get vehicles and computers,"
Zimbabwe's judges are however still paid a pittance compared to their
counterparts in the region.
Analysts have criticised the decision to dish out vehicles to the
judges at a time when there is a lack of basic equipment for them to deliver
their judgments timeously.
Acting director of the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights Irene Petras
said it was a misallocation of resources to give judges another vehicle when
they already had the standard cars which are issued to them on appointment.
"They need a well-equipped library, more computers and more resources
that help them in the delivery of justice, not more vehicle," Petras said.
"How does an extra car improve the efficiency of a judge who does not have
access to the Internet at work, books or basic stationery?
"Zimbabwean judges don't even have the system to circulate their
delivered judgments to law firms as happens in other countries like South
Africa." The new perks for judges comes at a time when the general staff at
the courts like clerks are demoralised because of their low salaries which
are as little as $150 000 a month in some cases.
DIPLOMATS this week took MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to task over his
party's political course of action, asking for specific details of his
programme to tackle the current problems.
Diplomats who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent after Tsvangirai's
briefing on Wednesday said they expected to be filled in on exactly what he
was doing to resolve the mounting crisis in the country.
However, the diplomats say they got very little from the MDC leader
who, instead of giving them straight answers, recycled the same old
They said he gave them a generalised picture of the situation without
a specific programme, leaving them feeling there was nothing new the
opposition was doing.
Diplomatic sources said they wanted to know how much ground the MDC
had covered in forging an agreement on a new constitution, which would
enable the holding of free and fair elections.
"We wanted to know to what extent dialogue between government and the
opposition had moved in the direction of breaking the political impasse,"
one diplomat said.
"We were all disappointed when Tsvangirai flatly told us there were no
prospects of a dialogue."
Diplomats also wanted to understand how the MDC perceived the churches'
initiative, The Zimbabwe We Want. Tsvangirai said his party welcomed any
initiative that coincided with the MDC's roadmap.
The source said Tsvangirai declined to give details of his party's
immediate action plan, insisting that the MDC's roadmap was still the
guideline which the opposition was pursuing.
Tsvangirai had called diplomats for a briefing to update them on last
Friday and the weekend's demonstrations, which saw a number of opposition
officials being arrested.
In his address to the diplomats, Tsvangirai said he was aware that
people were now in a rebellious mood but did not want to do anything
"A large cross-section of the society is now in a rebellious mood,"
Tsvangirai said. "There is now open defiance to violent autocratic
authority. Teachers, nurses, doctors and the general civil service and the
public at large have now reached the limits of their suffering and are no
longer prepared to suffer silently," he said in a written statement.
"But we are not about capturing international headlines through acts
of reckless adventurism that might result in a carnage that might not
achieve our central objective. We will continue to build our resistance
movement, gauging the pace and resilience of the people," he said.
Tsvangirai said people were being pushed physically by state
repression while their material well-being was eroded daily by the
HIGHFIELD still retains a rich history as the cradle of nationalist
resistance to colonial rule and racist oppression.
Last Sunday I witnessed history repeat itself in a manner identical to
grainy pictures that people see on television. The pictures glorifying early
skirmishes involving nationalists of the early 60's to dislodge Ian Smith
are often drilled into people's minds.
It illustrated how, contrary to popular political myth, the past fight
for democracy was not more eventful than the present.
Getting off a commuter bus at Machipisa, the tension was palpable as
the place bristled with police in riot gear. They were there ostensibly to
thwart any possible outbreak of violence.
I walked towards Zimbabwe Grounds, the same venue hundreds of
thousands thronged in 1979 to welcome the emotional return of the late
veteran nationalist, Joshua Nkomo and later Robert Mugabe.
A small boy said to me: "Kune mapurisa akagarira kwamuri kuenda
ikoko." ("There are police guarding the direction you are taking.")
Naturally I took the tip. A few paces ahead I encountered a group in riot
gear, teargas canisters buckled to their hips, standing in a huddle. Their
body language portrayed a distinct lack of enthusiasm about the task they
had been assigned to undertake. From the bit of conversation that wafted in
my direction, I heard one of them say: "So, uchanzwa madhara acho opa order
yokuti tirove vanhu," ("We will soon get orders to start beating up
To which another responded: "Seriya dhara rine dzungu rechipurisa
("Like that old guy who still believes in archaic policing methods.")
I turned back when I saw an armed policeman manning the entrance.
Minutes passed. The number of MDC supporters milling around the
parking lot outside Mushandira Pamwe Hotel and OK supermarket was swelling
all the time. Almost all new arrivals wondered aloud why the people were not
inside Zimbabwe Grounds.
Police were prudently ignoring taunts from scattered groups of people,
who felt betrayed by the false sense of optimism following media reports
that the High Court had sanctioned the rally. They were feeling a sense of
outrage that the law had not been respected.
All this time the police and the swelling crowd were testing each
Someone blew a whistle from the direction of Gwanzura Stadium and a
chanting wave of people started moving towards the southern entrance of
Zimbabwe Grounds, taking advantage of the police patrol that had turned to
prowl the road on the eastern side.
And when they heard the chanting crowd, they turned back to confront
the advancing crowd.
Then all hell broke loose, probably triggered by someone shouting
above the chanting crowd: "Futi monotambira mari yandinowana ndatengesa
mazai. Muchadya tsvimbo idzodzo" ("And you earn so little which I make from
selling eggs, you will survive on those rubber truncheons.")
An attempt to move the crowd away from Zimbabwe Grounds degenerated
into running battles with MDC supporters who police tried to steer away from
the shopping centre.
At the shopping centre the police vented pent-up frustration at
roadside clothes vendors who wrongly assumed they would be spared, as they
were not part of the stampeding crowd. They kicked down the clotheslines,
beating up vendors who tried to retrieve their wares.
I saw a woman with a baby strapped on her back try to salvage part of
her wares only to be whacked on the rump by a truncheon. She ambled across
the road, baby bobbing dangerously from her back while she clutched the few
items across her bosom.
It made me recall George Orwell's remarks when he said: "The policeman
who arrests the youth demonstrator does not understand the suffering and
despair that the youths are going through. If he did his own position as a
bodyguard of the privileged class might seem less pleasant to him."
By the time the stampeding crowds got out of harm's way, police fired
three salvos of teargas to try and disperse them. Some of the smoke drifted
into homes hugging a road near the shopping centre.
That incensed the crowd which had dispersed in various directions and
people genuinely going about their daily chores or who had decided to stay
at home. The situation rapidly deteriorated into open confrontation, with
the opposition supporters driving back the group of policemen under a hail
of stones, aided by teargas drifting back into the policemen's direction.
Like a pack of hunting dogs, another group who had just retreated
outside Machipisa Police station started daring the riot police, assured
that if they fired teargas in their direction it would choke policemen on
duty in the police station instead. One police officer fired a canister,
which veered off course and landed just outside a hedge round the house
directly opposite the police station, sending the family into fits of
The retreating crowd appeared to sense that there were only enough of
the canisters to go around after watching one of them fizzle and make a
fitful, unimpressive noise like the ending of a thunderstorm. The police
appeared overwhelmed, reluctant to continue chasing after pockets of youths
trying to break the police cordon.
As I walked towards Machipisa Bar in the direction of the commuter
omnibus rank, I saw a swarm of riot police clad in blue jumpsuits snap hard
on the heels of retreating residents. The riot police were taking advantage
of their long truncheons to indiscriminately lash out at fleeing victims who
were seeking refuge in the surrounding hedges and narrow alleyways.
I came face to face with a living example of the nostrum that there is
no love like a mother's love. Seeing the impending danger, a young mother on
her way to Church picked up the youngest of her three kids and threw the
toddler on her back. She then instructed the elder of the other two to hold
firmly to her brother, then gripped her daughter's hand literally dragging
her children along with her away from danger.
I fled in the same direction towards Machipisa Police station, fearful
of being trapped between the group in riot gear and the marauding one with
Just as I got past Machipisa police station, I heard the wailing of
sirens behind me.
At exactly 12.20pm almost two hours after the running battles began, a
convoy of Israeli-made crowd control vehicles with mounted water canons
whizzed past the intersection, speeding along and spraying water at every
pocket of resistance.
The scene looked much like a clone from the post-apartheid South
African movie Sarafina.
Either the operators of the machines were unfamiliar with them, it
being a test run, or the vehicles are not so effective at dealing with
scattering crowds that can duck behind walls.
From the safety of a school orchard at Tsungai primary school I saw
the spectacular display of waterpower as the vehicles showered shards of
water on the road verges where people had been standing.
As soon as the metal monsters came into view, the opposition
supporters would duck behind walls. Two road runs later, and cannons hanging
impotently above the awe-inspiring monsters, most probably because they had
run out of water, they lumbered back to Machipisa Police Station, with the
drivers ordering the crowds to go home.
I could detect a sense of resignation from the pleas made without any
sense of conviction that the opposition supporters would simply go home. It
appeared a low-profile battle of attrition.
Taking advantage of a lull, I walked to a commuter pick up point next
to the police station.
That is when I witnessed brutality at it worst.
A commuter bus was just about to stop at the pick-up point when a
truckload of the blue-jumpsuit clad brigade drew up. At least a dozen
policemen jumped off, ordered every passenger out of the vehicle including
the driver. The truncheon wielding group aged no more than 20 years ordered
all passengers to lie prone on the tarmac before taking turns to thrash them
first on the buttocks and then all over the body.
A thought crossed my mind, standing a few paces from the gut-churning
scene how the long drilling in "patriotism" had done its work. I had no
doubt in my mind that the group's behaviour was nowhere near what would be
expected of a professional policemen.
I also felt that if one of the rabid youths had broken any of their
victims' limb, he would never lose sleep any the worse because he would be
still be serving his handlers who had the power to absolve him from evil.
I, together with my age-peer stood quaking in our shoes. We decided to
stand, seeing there was nowhere to run because another group of the
"thrashing brigade" was coming from the opposite direction.
Perhaps what saved our skins was the greying hair.
But our luck did not last for long, for it never impressed a
policeman - tall and rangy with eyes that always threatened to pop out of
their sockets - who ordered us to move.
Both of us took President Mugabe's advice religiously to move when the
police say "Move!" otherwise "taizodhashurwa."
And that began the long walk through Engineering Section, Western
Triangle up to a point opposite Gazaland shopping centre to catch buses back
home. All the way angry youths were placing barriers and blockading the road
with anything they could get hold of.
No buses were getting beyond that point.
In a move viewed as an effort to stanch the running battles with the
MDC supporters from spreading to other areas, riot control police were
dispatched to suspected flashpoints and opposition strongholds where they
terrorised innocent civilians.
In Chitungwiza, the police first raided St Mary's Chigovanyika
shopping centre where they forced beer outlets to close and make all people
leave the shopping centre.
Any attempts to seek clarification or delay in responding to the
police instruction was treated as resistance and would result in an
indiscrimate and ruthless beating of all patrons in that bottle store.
People who had been going about their business scurried for dear life as the
police run riot, dispersing any small groupings at Huruyadzo Shopping
Centre. A good number were forced to abandon their meat on braai stands.
People were being beaten for allegedly having attended Tsvangirai's aborted
rally at Machipisa earlier in the day.
The terror spread to virtually all sections of the dormitory town,
Zengeza, Unit D, and Makoni, such that by 7pm all shopping centres and
drinking places were deserted. Police in riot gear kept a heavy presence
until late into the night.
The police's behaviour on Sunday conrasted with how they had behaved
when Zanu PF held its rally in Chitungwiza's Zengeza 4 area the previous
HUMAN rights groups have expressed concern over arbitrary arrests and
beating of opposition activists saying it was a violation of human rights,
in particular Articles 6 and 11 of the African's Charter on Human and People's
Article 6 says "every individual shall have the right to assemble
freely with others"
Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) said it was concerned at the
reprehensible conduct of the police who arrested more than 64 members of the
Tsvangirai-led MDC over the weekend as the opposition party prepared to hold
its rally at Zimbabwe Grounds.
"Worrisomely, police in Bulawayo acted in similar fashion, beating up
several activists who had gathered for a rally under the Mutambara led-MDC
faction," ZLHR said in a statement.
Ten of the people who had been arrested were released save for Danisa
Mpande who had been beaten severely by police. Mpande suffered lacerations
and bruises on his head, shoulder and back and had to be hospitalised at
Galen House. He was discharged on Monday afternoon.
"Police arrested 57 people in Harare and detained them at the Harare
Central Police Station. Among those arrested was MDC Secretary General and
MP for Harare East, Tendai Biti, MDC National Executive Committee member,
Last Maengahama, and deputy secretary for Local Government, Paul Madzore.
The three were arrested along with five other members of the MDC Harare
provincial executive," ZLHR said.
IT is payback time for the new farmers. When they thought they could
start settling down on their new properties, government has decided to
transfer the obligation to raise money to compensate displaced white
commercial farmers to the new settlers.
The new farmers' ability to raise money for compensation is a new
condition set by government for them to obtain 99-year leases.
Information to hand shows that government is simply transferring a
compensation claim from the evicted farmers into a fee that is supposed to
be paid by the new settlers, a development viewed as a forced purchase.
When President Robert Mugabe encouraged the land occupations for
political expediency, those who stampeded to grab commercial farmland never
imagined they would one day be asked to pay up.
Land reform analyst Professor Sam Moyo said the money being demanded
by government was in tandem with the A2 policy framework. The framework
spells out that occupied land should be a commercial entity run on a
cost-recovery basis, and that the owner should have his own resources.
"Lease fees should reflect the infrastructure the farmer has
inherited, the agriculture potential for that particular farm and the basic
fee charged per hectare and varying with regions," Moyo said.
"There is no way someone who was allocated a plot comprising a
farmhouse, barns and other improvements would expect to pay the same as a
plot-holder where there are no improvements," he said.
Moyo said this was the only way government could build up a
compensation fund to pay the evicted farmers.
Last year Gutu senator and parliamentary committee member on lands,
retired General Vitalis Zvinavashe, said government should not be expected
to use taxpayers' money to pay for property that had been taken over by
individuals for their own benefit.
Farmers who spoke to the Zimbabwe Independent complained that they
were being made to pay for infrastructure that was vandalised by marauding
war veterans who first moved onto farms.
"Most new farmers never anticipated such big figures," said one farmer
who shares Mmsoneddi Farm in the Banket area with three others. "This is
just as good as buying the farm and there is nowhere we can raise that kind
Mmsoneddi was formerly a highly-mechanised farm hence the compensation
claim by former owners runs into billions of dollars.
Observers said senior government officials and politicians would be
the worst affected after they cherry-picked highly-mechanised prime farms
throughout the country.
Although the lease document allows the beneficiary to pay for the
improvements on the property over a period of 25 years, the lessee is
required to pay at least half the amount as down payment deposit before he
signs the lease.
Sources at Ngungunyana Building said the excitement created by the
issuing out of the first batch of 99-year leases late last year had died
down after farmers realised that they could not pay the money required
before obtaining the leases.
The new requirements could see a number of non-performing settlers
failing to meet their obligations.
Government has been agonising over underutilised land wrestled from
white commercial farmers that has been lying idle for the past seven
cropping seasons. Some of the beneficiaries acquired large tracts of land as
status symbols or "weekend braai spots" which they have not been able to put
to full production, spawning food shortages currently being experienced.
In addition to paying lease fees, the farmers are required to pay an
annual rental, all levies, fees and charges as may be determined by the
A farmer who was allocated a hundred hectares but without improvements
in the Goromonzi area is required to pay around $200 000 before he can sign
"The lessee shall pay a deposit equivalent to one year's rental,"
reads the lease document. "The deposit shall be paid on the date of
signature of this lease."
The figure was broken down as $46 520 for rental, $106 310 for the
purchase of the lease and a further $47 604 as rental for the period of
actual occupation to the date of signing.
AN army major-general and his wife, a lieutenant-colonel with the
Zimbabwe National Army (ZNA), have moved onto Zimbili Farm in the Mbembesi
area of Matabeleland South province and ordered war veterans and their
families who had settled on the farm since 2000 to leave.
Almost 60 war veterans and their families have been affected by the
eviction but have said they will not leave the farm.
The war veterans and their families were resettled at the farm in 2000
at the height of the government-sponsored fast-track land reform exercise.
Major-General Nicholas Dube, the senior officer at the centre of the
row with the war veterans, is alleged to have threatened to send soldiers to
beat up the war veterans and their families if they resisted his orders.
Dube is alleged to have moved onto the farm in November together with
his wife identified as Gertrude, also a senior army officer.
War veterans at the farm told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that
the soldier had fenced off part of the farm that has a dam where livestock
were drinking water from and is now refusing them permission to water their
The war veterans also accuse Dube of moving into the farmhouse that
had been turned into a clinic for the resettled families.
"Dube wants to stay in the farmhouse that was renovated into a clinic
by the villagers and was supposed to be officially opened by Ministry of
Health officials," said Vusa Mguni, one of the farmers.
"Lack of a clinic has led to many deaths. So far three pregnant women
have died due to lack of medical attention," said Mguni.
The resettled farmers say they now travel for about 18km to Fingo
clinic for medical treatment.
Contacted on the issue, Major-General Dube refused to comment and
referred this paper to the Matabeleland South governor, Angeline Masuku, who
could not be reached for comment on her mobile phone.
"At the moment I cannot say anything pertaining to that issue," he
said. "Talk to the Governor for Matabeleland South province, Angeline
Masuku," Dube said.
Minister of State for National Security, Lands, Land Reform and
Resettlement, Didymus Mutasa, however said he was not aware of the issue and
said the major-general does not have a mandate to evict war veterans from
the farm without his knowledge. Mutasa said he would investigate the case.
"The (major)-general does not have the mandate to evict resettled
farmers from the farm without my knowledge. As for this case, I do not have
any idea about it but I will investigate," Mutasa said.
A GOVERNMENT blitz on illegal settlements in Harare and other urban
centres in May 2005 under the much-criticised Operation Murambatsvina
appears to have achieved ephemeral success judging by the sprouting of
similar settlements in the capital.
The squatter camps have left government and Harare city authorities
wringing their hands in frustration at their failure to find a lasting
solution. One such squatter camp has sprouted on a vacant sub-division of
Stand No 259 in Harare's upmarket Glen Lorne suburb owned by an absentee
The landlord, Mandy Bizure, works in Namibia as a state lawyer.
Hapless residents say the settlement has degenerated into a haven for
criminals and immoral behaviour in the tranquil environment.
They have watched helplessly as authorities drag their feet in doing
something about the eyesore.
Hidden from public view along the luxuriant Folyjon Crescent, the
settlement, comprising motley pole and reed structures, thatch or scrap
metal tin shacks, squats incongruously in the middle of affluence underneath
gnarled pine trees.
Bizure left with her husband when Namibia gained independence after
the couple had constructed a two-roomed storeroom.
She left a brother as custodian of the vacant stand until he died five
years ago, leaving it under her mother's guardianship.
A communal bathroom separates the contraption of asbestos sheeting,
hemmed in between decrepit shacks, that was initially meant to be a
storeroom for building materials during construction.
Further up the vacant stand behind tall grass lies the squatter camp.
According to neighbours, who preferred not to be named saying the
Namibia-based lawyer was "well-connected in government circles", the place
had turned into a popular brothel before police raided it.
"It has been raided more than twice - three times to be precise," one
resident said showing remnants of demolished shacks that run parallel to a
stone and mortar wall.
"Bizure occasionally comes here to see her mother, and probably to
warm relations with her connections in government."
One of the tenants, 19-year old Zvanyadza Chingoma, said she
supplemented her live-in partner's income selling opaque beer outside a
nearby supermarket. She and her 18-month old toddler started living in the
camp a month ago.
She shares one of the shacks made of metal scraps, plastic sheets and
bamboo poles that is crammed in a corner of the vacant stand with two other
Along with it, the squatter camp has brought serious security problems
for the residents of Glen Lorne.
Families living in the area complain of a spate of thefts over the
past few months. More than three families living along Folyjon Crescent lost
millions of dollars worth of household goods in the past week, among them
electrical gadgets and equipment.
Zvanyadza said some of the tenants spend most of their time in Mbare
and only come to stay at the squatter camp for brief periods.
"We had a tenant evicted (name supplied) for selling mbanje and
kachasu (illicit brew). She now lives in Mabvuku," Zvanyadza said.
Residents suspect the camp could be a safe haven for criminals who
commit serious crimes elsewhere and then lie low for some time until the
heat is off.
"No one would think of coming to such a place to look for criminals,"
suggested another resident.
Highlands police arrested more than 15 suspects, among them two who
live in the Folyjon squatter camp, after last week's spate of thefts in the
The May 2005 clean-up operation that affected mostly the urban poor
and left more than 700 000 people without a roof over their heads in the
working-class suburbs, was hastily halted before demolition teams could
spread to low density suburbs.
The homeless could have been persuaded to believe that whatever future
demolition blitz the government carries out would not affect the affluent
Property owners have watched, awestruck by the fact that the
mushrooming of squatter camps in the midst of leafy suburbs could devalue
their properties. The Glen Lorne camp is not the only one in Harare's
upmarket suburbs. Squatters have also established rickety structures in
Gunhill, close to the Borrowdale racecourse. There are also illegal
structures in parts of Highlands, Eastlea and Borrowdale.
However, council officials have prevaricated in following up the clean
up operation to its conclusion, which has encouraged replication of the
monstrosities elsewhere in the city.
Government has failed to repair the damage it inflicted on the poor in
its urban clean-up operation that, in some instances, helped deplete the
national housing stock.
FORMER Zanu PF secretary-general Edgar Tekere has accused President
Mugabe of attempting to betray the liberation war and of distorting events
during the struggle in Mozambique.
Tekere was hitting back at President Mugabe yesterday over claims the
president made during his birthday interview screened on state television on
The president said Tekere almost threw in the towel in 1975 while the
duo were in Mozambique to pursue the struggle for Independence.
Mugabe said Tekere woke up one morning - after the two leader leaders
crossed into Mozambique accompanied by Chief Rekai Tangweana - to tell him
that he wanted to go back to Zimbabwe. Mugabe said Tekere wanted to return
to Zimbabwe because the comrades based in Mozambique did not know him.
Tekere in an interview yesterday however dismissed the president's
account arguing that while in Mozambique, Mugabe had infuriated him by
wanting to preach the gospel of Bishop Abel Muzorewa's UANC upon meeting
with new recruits of the struggle.
Tekere referred to his autobiography, A Lifetime of Struggle, in which
he castigates Mugabe as a betrayer of the struggle.
Tekere says he was calmed down by Chief Tangwena.
"We were discussing what we would do when we met the other recruits,
and Mugabe was adamant that we should tell them that we were in the UANC,
according to the Lusaka Accords," writes Tekere in his autobiography.
"This made me extremely angry, and I said, 'what a treacherous mind
you have! We are here by decision of Zanu. I'm not part of the UANC. You are
a betrayer. I'm going to report you to those who sent us here about your
"Tangwena was with us at the time, and managed to make peace between
us, and Mugabe insisted no further. But after that, I made sure that he did
not meet any of the recruits when I was not there too, in case he began to
talk about the UANC."
Tekere said Mugabe was at pains to derail his autobiography but must
be forgiven because his age was now distorting his memory.
"Hu83 uhu hwava kumukanganisa pfungwa (His age of 83 is now affecting
his mental faculties). His memory is truly distorted."
THE International Monetary Fund (IMF) has scheduled for discussion at
its executive board meeting today the restoration of Zimbabwe's voting and
related rights to the fund, a contentious subject that nearly scuttled an
annual Article IV Consultation and foiled a board meeting last year.
An IMF mission was finally allowed into the country in December after
several scheduled visits had failed after being obstructed by President
Mugabe's administration which was angry at the board's failure to restore
the country's voting rights as well as rights to the IMF resources last
Zimbabwe, which survived expulsion after paying up outstanding arrears
in the IMF's general resources account last February, had been adamant that
its membership with the Bretton Woods institution was only nominal because
of the absence of membership rights.
The IMF, which had postponed a scheduled board meeting last September
to discuss the country's other outstanding arrears, had finally broken the
ice with the Harare administration following a visit by IMF executive
director for Africa, Peter Gakunu, who had sought a high level meeting with
President Mugabe to discuss Zimbabwe's frosty relations with the IMF.
It was not clear if that meeting, which later culminated in a visit by
an IMF mission, had agreed to persuade executive members to vote for the
restoration of Zimbabwe's rights or not.
Zimbabwe will require a 70% weighted vote of the IMF executive board
to restore its voting rights and eligibility to use resources of the Fund.
This is because it took a similar vote margin to suspend the country's
voting and related rights with the IMF.
This is in line with various amendments in the Articles of Agreement
between the IMF and its members.
Zimbabwe cleared its overdue financial obligations to the IMF's
General Resources Account (GRA) last February, but still remained with
substantial arrears amounting to US$119 million under a separate facility.
The executive board meeting today is also expected to discuss Zimbabwe's
overdue financial obligations to the PRGF-ESF Trust, as well as Zimbabwe's
cooperation with recommendations for turning around the country's frail
The Article IV Consultation report will help the board members in
making a decision on the country.
While the clearance of its arrears under the GRA facility removed the
basis for Zimbabwe's compulsory withdrawal from the fund, the country
remained suspended from exercising its voting rights and rights to IMF
resources as a member of the Bretton Woods institution.
Zimbabwe had expected that the suspensions would be lifted, creating
an avenue to secure lines of credit to support its precarious balance of
AIR Zimbabwe has hiked its international fares by close to 100% as it
battles to maintain viability amid reports it was now sourcing its foreign
currency from the parallel market, businessdigest established this week.
The hikes were quietly effected a fortnight ago just before the
appointment of new chief executive, Peter Chikumba.
Sources indicated that international fare hikes were now likely to
become more regular as they would track rates on the parallel market.
The airfare for economy class to London went up 65% to $2,8 million
for a return ticket, from $1,7 million before the hike.
The fare had been last increased last October from $358 310.
Passengers to China now pay a fare of $3,5 million for a return trip,
from $2,5 million before the increase.
A person flying to South Africa will fork out $726 250 under the new
Sources said the fares had been increased following the recent plunge
of the Zimbabwe dollar on the parallel market.
The Zimbabwe dollar is officially pegged at $250 to the US dollar.
Using these rates would mean the ticket to London now costs US$11 200,
which is highly unrealistic.
Airfares to London hover between US$800 and $1 000, depending on the
The new fares therefore match the parallel market rate, although they
remain undervalued even when using the parallel market rate which this week
reached $6 600 against the greenback after settling at $5 000 mid January.
Air Zimbabwe board chairman, Mike Bimha, on Tuesday told a
parliamentary portfolio committee on transport that the airline had made its
first profit in 10 years last year under the management of Oscar Madombwe.
About 90% of the airline's operations require foreign currency, but
Air Zimbabwe had been failing to generate enough because it is not allowed
to charge its tickets locally in foreign currency.
As a result, it had been generating 30% of its foreign currency
requirements from normal business.
RATES on the parallel foreign currency market broke open this week on
unprecedented demand for hard currency, triggering fears of an
uncontrollable wave of price hikes that could exacerbate the country's
economic woes and ruin a proposed wage freeze.
Basic commodity prices have shot up 300% since January, with cooking
oil, tissue paper and toothpaste going up the highest at 500% in what many
blame on a riotous parallel foreign currency market whose rates are now a
key factor in the pricing of products in the market.
Labour representatives have already warned they are unlikely to back
the proposed wage freeze, saying incomes were already too low for employees
to afford basics.
The local unit plunged to touch $6 600 to the greenback, from a rate
of nearly $5 000 reached last month.
It plumbed fresh depths against the British pound, moving from around
$7 000 to reach $11 000 per pound sterling.
The Zimbabwe dollar had opened the year at $3 000 and $5 000 to the
greenback and British pound respectively.
The South African rand crushed the local unit to a low of $880 from
Zimbabwe's defenceless dollar had opened the year at $350 against the
"Everyone is buying foreign currency," a parallel market dealer told
businessdigest. "There is a shortage on the market and even if you gave me
over $900 for a rand, I can't get them for you," the dealer said.
Another dealer concurred: "There is no (foreign) cash; the demand is
very high but there are no sellers. People are looking for forex."
Businessdigest could not immediately establish if the shortages on the
parallel market were related to a new directive allowing recipients of
foreign currency from offshore sources to receive money sent to them through
money transfer agencies in foreign currency.
The directive, issued by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono last month,
was meant to "promote the free flow of foreign exchange in the economy".
Recipients of foreign currency from relatives in the diaspora had been
receiving their money through unofficial channels on the parallel market,
but it was unlikely they would cash their foreign currency through
authorised dealers because of unattractive rates on the official market.
Zimbabwe is currently battling an acute foreign currency shortage that
has stoked severe fuel shortages and disrupted normal economic activities.
Gono last month refused to devalue the local unit, saying devaluation
was unlikely to result in "planeloads" of foreign currency into the country.
Eight devaluations since he assumed office had failed to give any
spark to the distressed foreign currency market, he said.
However, Gono's move resulted in a further decline in inflows on the
official market, shunned by many foreign currency holders because of the
poor exchange rates caused by the current fixed exchange rate regime.
Gono last devalued the local currency on the official interbank market
to $250 against the greenback in July, from $101 to the US unit.
Economic consultancy firm, Techfin Research, last year forecast
Zimbabwe's embattled domestic currency's fair value to reach $1 058,39 to
the US unit by this January, and to end the year at a fair value rate of $16
588,73 to the US dollar.
The fair value is the realistic value of the currency taking in to
account inflation differentials between Zimbabwe and its trading partner
It is not necessarily the official exchange rate.
Techfin Research had anticipated in its forecasts, released in August
last year, that Gono would devalue the local unit to $1 000 against the US
dollar on the official market and that the official rate could be adjusted
gradually during the current year to end at $5 200/US$1 by December 2007.
The parallel foreign currency market has been declared illegal and
several companies and individuals have in the past two years been hauled
before the courts for trading foreign currency on the unofficial market.
However, it has continued to flourish despite public outrage from
government and the central bank governor.
GOVERNMENT is expected to intensify its bid for cash through long-term
money market instruments, market sources said this week, indicating that
this money would be largely for capital projects.
Central government has so far issued three tenders meant to raise $160
billion apiece for capital projects but these have dismally failed because
of lack of appetite for long term investments in the market.
The Reserve Bank issued the third tender for the $160 billion stock on
Friday. The tender is expected to close today.
The long-term instruments are also likely to be used to restructure
government's short term debt in to long term, the market sources said.
Government is currently choking from huge interest payments on short
term borrowings made last year, most of which is redeemable this year.
Analysts said government, whose domestic debt stock rose to a new high
of $195,1 billion this months, was likely to face a huge budget deficit due
to escalating inflation.
This was likely to force it into huge borrowings.
LISTED tea and coffee producer, Tanganda Tea Company, this week said
it had registered negative output margins in most of its products due to an
acute shortage of labour plaguing the farming sector.
Businessdigest reported last month that a staff exodus has hit the
farming sector due to poor remuneration and a spate of farm invasions that
disrupted farming activities in the country.
Although commercial farming operations mainly run by a new breed of
under-funded black farmers were losing skilled and semi-skilled workers and
failing to attract unskilled employees due to poor working conditions and
remuneration, Tanganda's statement reinforced fears that even big estate
operators had not been spared by the staff flight that has hit the sector.
Last week, farm labourers in Bindura told a parliamentary committee on
agriculture that farmers were only paying $8 000 per month.
Commercial farm workers are understood to be earning between $5 000
and $15 000 per month. The Consumer Council of Zimbabwe's low income
consumer basket for a family of six is at over $458 000 per month.
The average family for most farm workers consists of six members.
Tanganda said its labour shortages had been compounded by a non-viable
exchange rate as well as erratic rainfall patterns at its plantations.
Tanganda operates tea and coffee estates and a beverages division.
But the group said it had only registered a 2% positive output in tea
from 7 773 tonnes on the prior comparative period to 8 500 tonnes in the
year to October 31, 2006.
Chairman, John Moxon said in a statement accompanying the group's
financial results that Tanganda's performance had been bolstered by firming
international tea prices to post a $999 million profit after tax from $84
million in 2005.
Moxon said coffee output declined from 170 tonnes in the comparative
period in 2005 to 113 tonnes in 2006 as older bushes were uprooted and
replaced with Macadamias and new coffee.
Beverage volumes declined by 29% due to market shrinkage and packaging
"The shortage of labour did cause problems this year," Moxon told
shareholders in the report.
"Quality suffered as (we) were unable to pluck timeously. However,
international tea prices have been significantly stronger this year and this
minimised any reduction in value realised as a result of the quality
"Although the rains started late, good rains persisted until April. As
a result, production of tea was slightly higher than the previous year at 8
500 tonnes. But the dry period from September to December 2005 curtailed our
ability to produce closer to our trend average production," he said.
Moxon said to address the problem of labour shortages, substantial
investment had been committed to increase the fleet of mechanical harvesters
to supplement hand plucking.
Tanganda said its investment in mechanical harvesters would minimise
the effects of labour shortages.
BASIC commodity prices surged by a massive 300% between January and
Wednesday this week, raising the prospect of a social upheaval in the
country, businessdigest established this week.
The rise in the prices of basic commodities has been blamed largely on
speculative tendencies in the country's frail economy, now in its seventh
year of a recession.
But economists said dwindling production levels on the back of
increased money printing had resulted in too much money chasing too few
goods, and this had been worsened by acute foreign currency shortages which
had triggered a run on the Zimbabwe dollar on a thriving foreign currency
Most companies are now using parallel market rates for pricing
A Businessdigest survey of current commodity prices revealed that
prices had skyrocketed by outrageous margins between January 2 and February
Business operators said they were battling to remain in business,
pushing prices up due to escalating inflation.
But the Consumer Council of Zimbabwe (CCZ) said speculative tendencies
were pushing prices up, hurting consumers whose incomes were not moving in
line with inflation.
"Prices of most basic commodities have increased by worrying margins,
a situation which has brought untold suffering to most consumers whose
salaries have lagged behind while prices skyrocket," said CCZ director,
Siyachitema said the consumer watchdog was pinning its hopes on a
proposed social contract to allow dialogues between stakeholders and pave
way for a stabilisation of prices.
Economists said scarcity, triggered by a slump in productivity, and
increased production costs had partnered to spark swelling prices.
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono last month proposed a social
contract involving labour, business, trade unions and civic organisations to
tackle an economy that has been in recession for the past seven years.
He said the objectives of the social contract would be to come up with
wage and price freezes to allow for a turnaround of the country's economy.
Siyachitema said: "The wave of prices that we have been experiencing
in the past weeks has had a direct effect on the consumer basket and now a
family of six needs $458 000 to buy essentials every month. But the figure
is definitely going to rise soon as commodity prices continue to go up."
The Central Statistical Office (CSO) said an urban family of five
required $566 400 per month, figure higher than that from the CCZ.
Gono has publicly criticised the "unwarranted steep rises" in the
prices of commodities, saying if this was allowed to continue, the economy
would continue on a downward spiral.
"The shocking rise was done in anticipation of a devaluation which as
we know did not see the light of day," Gono said about a spate of price
increases in January.
The consumer watchdog indicated that some basic commodities such as
flour, cooking oil and sugar were not available on the formal market.
Independent economist, John Robertson said the prices of basic
commodities would continue increasing because businesses were trying to
cushion themselves against the planned wage and price freeze.
"Shops are increasing their prices to cushion themselves against the
wage and price freeze which is looming," Robertson said.
The Ministry of Industry and International Trade has warned that it
would not hesitate to unleash the police on errant business people hiking
prices without government approval.
There are fears that the price of mealie meal could increase markedly
following the increase of the selling price of maize to millers by the Grain
Marketing Board from $600 to $58 000 a metric tonne.
A RESTIVE business community on Friday made a strong protest against
the arbitrary arrest of business colleagues, telling Reserve Bank governor
Gideon Gono that there were little prospects of his proposed social contract
succeeding because of increasing hostility between stakeholders.
Business executives who attended a Zimbabwe National Chamber of
Commerce (ZNCC) breakfast meeting said the beleaguered economy was likely to
suffer extensively in the face of government-sanctioned arrests of business
people for hiking prices to remain in business.
Government had imposed price controls of selected basic commodities,
creating viability problems among firms manufacturing listed products.
The executives said government was being high-handed in its arrest of
business executives and pointed out at glaring contradictions in policy as
parastatals were allowed to increase prices for controlled products while
their counterparts were being arrested for adjusting prices to viable
"Why not arrest parastatals?" asked Mara Hativagone, president of the
ZNCC, during the breakfast meeting. "They are hiking prices by hundreds of
percentages, yet government is only arresting (executives in) the private
The country has in the past few weeks witnessed an unprecedented rise
in the price of goods and services offered by government-owned companies at
a time when the police have been arresting businessmen from the private
sector for increasing commodity prices.
Last week the National Railways of Zimbabwe hiked passenger fares by
at least 30% for urban commuter and intercity services.
The Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) also increased its urban
fares, with the minimum fare going up 40% to $1 000.
Power utility, Zimbabwe Power Company, a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings,
this month advised consumers that it would start making tariff adjustments
based on the monthly Consumer Price Index with immediate effect.
The Grain Marketing Board increased the price of maize for millers
from $600 to $58 000/tonne.
These hikes by parastatals were last week described by Minister of
State for Policy Implementation Webster Shamu as welcome.
Shamu said the parastatals were responding to Gono's call to eliminate
price distortions in the economy.
The business community, largely seen as friendly to government despite
its ruinous policies that have resulted in an unprecedented crisis in the
country, have been drifting away from a conciliatory approach towards a more
radical position following the arrest of their members in a clampdown
government says is meant to weed out speculators from the frail economy.
Recently, two managers from Blue Ribbon Industries and National Foods
Ltd in Harare were arrested for flour prices without government approval.
Hativagone queried why government had ignored the recent wave of price
hikes by state-run companies when it had refused to give the private sector
permission to increase prices on controlled products despite pleas made by
manufacturers last year.
Hativagone, now emerging as the most critical voice for business,
argued that private companies were facing high operational costs, foreign
currency and fuel shortages and could not operate viably without price
She warned that the continued decline in industrial production in the
country was pushing many businesses and individuals into speculative
activities; industries were abandoning production because it was no longer
viable to do so because of price controls.
"Some are of us becoming barons - gold barons, fuel barons and diamond
barons. Do we want to create a nation of traders? Is that the Zimbabwe we
want?" asked Hativagone.
Gono acknowledged the arrests had to stop to pave way for a social
contract and exhorted his principals to understand the concerns of industry.
"We do not believe in arresting people," Gono said.
"If people in business put a foot wrong, let's try to talk to them
first because two wrongs do not make a good," Gono said.
LAST week's blocking of journalists by a senior Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) official from hearing evidence during a parliamentary probe
into gold dealing could easily turn the fight against corruption into a dead
The information screen could undermine the sterling work done thus far
by parliamentary committees since they started to allow the press to attend
their meetings. The victim of this move is the public who have a right to
know - a fundamental facet of any democracy and a key weapon in the fight
Picture the frustration and angst of a mob about to catch a thief in
the village. Just then the community leader asks everyone to retreat,
because the loot likely to be retrieved from the burglar could cause social
upheaval in the community.
Mirirai Chiremba, the director of financial intelligence,
inspectorate, evaluation and security at the RBZ, who refused to give
evidence before parliament's special committee in the presence of
journalists set an unwelcome precedent that imperils the oversight role
vested in portfolio committees. But Clerk of Parliament Austin Zvoma this
week said this was not unusual.
"One swallow does not make a summer," he said. Portfolio committees
are meant to make government ministries, departments and ministers
accountable for their actions.
Chiremba's recent show of shyness also sounds the death knell for all
pretence government has been retailing regarding its fight against
corruption and to name and shame corrupt officials.
One useful insight of the request is that Chiremba involuntarily let
the cat out of the bag on the frightening level of corruption in the illegal
gold mining saga.
"I do not think it is suitable to have the press here. I do not wish
to say anything that will cause instability in the country," Chiremba
pathetically whimpered, evidently ignorant of his public duty.
The request to put a lid on media coverage on illegal gold mining
activities countermands RBZ governor Gideon Gono's observation: "Unless and
until a deterrent framework is put in place and is consistent across the
board, the country risks continuing to engage in disruptive brawls with
economic crimes to no avail or benefit to the country."
Media exposure is one such deterrent.
Parliamentary committees are set up in terms of Standing Order Number
151 to examine the expenditure, administration and policy of government
departments and other matters falling under their jurisdiction.
Analysts says Chiremba's actions serve to justify strong fears
expressed by some stakeholders who have appeared before the committees to
give oral evidence but have flatly refused to name names, scared of
endangering their lives.
As part of recent parliamentary reform measures to "take parliament to
the people", the media has been allowed into committee hearings over the
past few years.
But Zvoma said nothing had changed, adding that there was nothing
untoward in proscribing press coverage.
"The media is not being banned," Zvoma said in reference to the
Reserve Bank official landmark incident.
"But there can be selective exclusion for the media if any official is
giving oral evidence which they do not want the media to divulge."
He said this was in accordance with Select Committee rules.
Banning by a different name, it would appear! This is precisely the
sort of information that needs to be made public.
Zimbabwe is grappling with high levels of corruption and illegal
dealings, which have enriched a few while pushing the majority of the people
deeper into poverty.
"No one can prescribe to the committee what issues ought to be covered
by the press because of what they perceive as national importance. The
discretion rests with the committee," Zvoma said, citing Select Committee
Rule Number 16.
What made the incident more relevant for the media was how it could
expose the fat cats living off the fat of illegal gold mining, particularly
after accusations by small-scale miners recently that the RBZ had been
provided with evidence of illegal activities and the perpetrators.
Political analyst John Makumbe said the request by the RBZ official
says a lot about people in the RBZ, Cabinet and the ruling Zanu PF party.
President Mugabe on Wednesday admitted some of his ministers were
"His request was understandable," Makumbe, who is a political science
lecture at the University of Zimbabwe, said. "It is obvious that some of the
people he was supposed to name have the capacity to mess up his life. He
would be afraid for his life, or his job because some of the people his
evidence would implicate are too powerful and the press would go to town
Makumbe said even President Mugabe was afraid to name them.
He said while parliamentary committees have done a good job and played
an important role in probing corruption and other illegal dealings, they
still remained toothless.
"They write reports which are damaging but neither the Anti-Corruption
Commission, the police nor the judiciary takes them seriously. They never
make follow-ups and the committees remain a circus," Makumbe added.
While the committees provide an opportunity to expose the wheeling and
dealing, Makumbe doubted their usefulness.
"Committee members know they have no bodyguards to protect them," he
Committee vice-chair Tsitsi Muzenda told journalists after the
closed-door session that the RBZ had not disclosed names of senior
government officials involved in minerals smuggling because it did not have
By Eldred Masunungure
THE dictionary definition of harmonising is "to bring into harmony,
accord, or agreement".
The word sits rather awkwardly as a description of what is being
intended because you normally harmonise relations between two or more
people. You do not normally harmonise things to do with inanimate matter and
processes like elections.
Ideally, and in respect of elections, we should rather talk about
sychronisation or rationalisation or even consolidation. To synchronise is
"to occur at the same time or coincide or agree in time".
I note, with considerable satisfaction, that the "harmonisation"
crusade is a public admission of the irrationality of the original decision
to "disharmonise" the elections. It is an admission that political parties,
like human beings, err.
Correcting an error is salutary. It suggests that Zanu PF is now open
to admitting some of its past errors, and I think that is something
Assuming that "harmonisation" is the appropriate descriptive term of
what is intended, I also note with irony that the intended harmonisation has
immediately disharmonised society and especially the sponsoring organisation
itself, the ruling Zanu PF party.
The harmonisation project appears to have wreaked more havoc in this
party than any other single issue since the divisive one-party state project
that had to be abruptly abandoned in mid-1990s. In short, Zanu PF wants to
harmonise elections before it has harmonised itself.
I have also observed that no sane Zimbabwean who knows anything about
our political system and its elections would oppose the synchronisation of
elections. Public opinion has for long advocated this.
For instance, a pre-2000 parliamentary elections survey showed that
more than two-thirds (68%) favoured synchronisation and in fact that the
2002 presidential election should have been brought forward to be held
concurrently with the 2000 parliamentary election.
Even in the fear-ridden 2002 period, still a plurality (47% vs 43%)
favoured a constitutional amendment that would synchronise the two
In this respect then, public opinion has for long been ahead of the
While the majority of citizens prefer synchronised elections, a bigger
majority appears suspicious of the motive behind the otherwise commendable
Many people find it difficult to separate the obvious and
unquestionable rationality of synchronising the elections from the other
issue, the extensions of the presidential term by their two years.
For many, there are two imperatives at play here: the synchronisation
imperative and the prolongation of presidential tenure imperative.
The former is perfectly rational and popular. The latter is deeply
unpopular, even inside the ruling party.
President Robert Mugabe once described Jonathan Moyo as "clever but
not wise". This was on the occasion of Moyo's decision to contest the
Tsholotsho seat as an independent.
The decision or even proposition to extend the presidential term is,
to me, neither clever nor wise.
The manner in which the synchronisation issue was introduced makes it
difficult to disentangle it from what many view as the primary reason behind
the "harmonisation" project - that is the prolongation of the presidential
term by at least two years under the guise of "harmonising".
In this regard, synchronisation, which has a lot to commend itself, is
contaminated by the prolongation imperative.
Once we de-link the two - electoral sychronisation and
prolongation/extension of the presidential term - the first imperative
becomes unattractive to its chief sponsors. This is because "the people" are
for synchronisation without reservations, and for them the sooner the
better. The minority ruling elite is for prolongation and the later the
To make the prolongation agenda attractive, it is couched in the
language of sychronisation and the two are like a package. In other words,
synchronising elections without prolonging tenure is meaningless.
What is being "harmonised?"
The answer is: elections!
But which elections?
I can immediately think of five possible elections that are routinely
held in Zimbabwe, at two levels of our political system - the national and
At the national level are three elections - the presidential, house of
assembly and senatorial elections. At the local level are ward or councillor
elections in both rural and urban areas and then mayoral elections in urban
Comprehensive synchronisation of the elections would mean many urban
voters would be asked to make five different choices: for the councillor,
the mayor, the senator, the MP and for the president, making Zimbabweans
probably the most over-represented people in the world and presumably on the
same ballot paper, and presumably in one day.
Alternately the various electoral candidates would appear on separate
ballots, thus necessitating five different ballots boxes in the urban areas.
If the latter, the guarding of five boxes at each polling station becomes a
big challenge, so is the counting of the five ballots in five ballot boxes.
The administrative and logistical arrangements are going to be a real
nightmare. Where will the financial resources to but the additional ballot
boxes come from?
Then there will be the contentious issue of constituency boundaries,
which presumably will have to be "harmonised" or rationalised as well.
The boundary of the presidential constituency is the easiest - there
is normally only one presidential boundary, which is coterminous with the
boundary of the country.
The boundaries for the house of assembly and senate constituencies
will definitely need to be rationalised in two senses: in terms of physical
delimitation of the constituencies and in terms of the number of people per
The sponsors of the "harmonisation" project need to be clear. At this
point, we note that in many instances, as in Harare, Bulawayo, Mutare and
all major cities, the senatorial boundaries will be smaller than mayoral
constituencies. There can only be one mayor in Harare, but there will be
several senators in the capital. In other towns, like Redcliff and Gwanda,
the senatorial constituency will be larger than the mayoral constituency.
Each of the five elections will need a delimitation process, itself a
mammoth task that requires time and meticulous execution. If all five
elections are held simultaneously, it means every voter will be voting at
ward level in order for them to choose their councillor.
This also means that each ward will have at least four voting booths
in areas with mayoral elections. The administrative, human and logistical
resources for this will be massive and unlikely to be available.
Also opportunities to cheat are enormous and as we all know the
willingness and inclinations to do so are readily available. The multiple
electoral frameworks simply multiply the chances to cheat. In addition,
observing and monitoring such elections will be a mammoth challenge.
The second option will be to stagger the elections by having two local
government elections on one weekend and the three national elections the
following weekend. For the former, one would need to be in one's ward; for
the second, you need to be in your parliament constituency.
If the synchronisation is to be a permanent feature of our elections,
then the tenure of various office holders will also have to be harmonised
too. That means synchronising the tenures of the councillor (presently three
years), the mayor (presently four years), the MPs (presently five years) and
the president (presently six years). The relevant legislative instruments
will have to be amended accordingly.
What is being harmonised?
Five elections are now a feature of Zimbabwe's electoral calendar and
all five elections have sparked controversy each time they are held. In
other words, there is something defective about the electoral infrastructure
and the quality of the electoral outcomes.
If this is so, and I think there is generalised consensus about this,
why do we need to harmonise defective projects? Harmonising bad things does
not produce a good thing. What Zimbabweans want are quality elections where
one's vote counts and where the votes of voters really count and equally.
Presently it's a case of all votes being equal, but some votes are more
equal than others.
In short, Zimbabweans want votes that count and count equally. If
harmonising does not produce this result, then harmonisation on its own is
So, the slogan must be: no harmonisation before constitutional and
electoral reforms, including and especially cleaning the voters roll.
In light of the above, it becomes irrelevant whether elections are
harmonised and held in 2008 or 2010 because if it is the quality of the
electoral outcome that counts, then we must get the electoral infrastructure
right in the first instance and all other things will follow.
This also means that elections cannot be held as scheduled, that is,
in the first quarter of 2008. This suggests that we need a transnational
period with transnational mechanisms to be activated at the end of the
present presidential term and ending at the end of the parliament of
Zimbabwe in early 2010.
We need a transitional interlude that will also act as a cooling off
period. The two-year cooling-off period will provide a perfect opportunity
for devising or crafting "The Zimbabwe We Want" and a time to come up with a
political formula that will fix our problems on a more or less permanent
basis and in the national interest.
In short, 2008 is too early for credible elections where people's
votes count and count equally.
Lastly, I have observed that there are two projects at play here: the
harmonisation project and the presidential prolongation project. One is
explicit while the other is hidden. In whose interest are the two projects?
One is in the national interest while the other is at best in the
ruling party interest and at worst in the interest of the prince. In either
case, the prolongation project is not in the national interest.
So to me it makes perfect and obvious sense to drop the prolongation
agenda while retaining the harmonisation agenda but that must follow the
cleansing of the constitution and electoral framework. This is: we throw
away the bath water (tenure prolongation) but retain the baby (electoral
* Dr Eldred Masunungure is a political scientist at UZ.
By Brian Raftopoulos
THE Zimbabwean crisis has reached the point where a number of factors
are combining to introduce a new political dynamic into the current
situation. These include the confluence of drastic economic decline, growing
internal dissent within the ruling party, a renewed wave of labour and civic
activism and the continued isolation of the regime by Western countries.
In the face of these growing challenges, the response of President
Robert Mugabe has been to seek an extension of his presidential mandate
until 2010 in order to seek more time to deal with the destructive
succession debate in the ruling Zanu PF party, ensure his own immunity from
possible prosecution and create more frustration for the divided opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).
The economic challenges facing the Mugabe regime are immense.
In a statement responding to the monetary policy statement by the
Reserve Bank governor, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) painted
a gloomy picture of the indicators of economic decline. These included
hyperinflation of 1 600% as at December 2006, a cumulative economic decline
of about 50% over the past seven years, an unsustainable budget deficit of
43% of GDP, chronic shortage of foreign currency, sporadic availability of
fuel, skills shortages, and mass unemployment and the collapse of real
earnings of workers.
In this regard there is anecdotal evidence of numbers of workers
preferring not to continue working in the formal sector because of the high
cost of staying in employment, preferring instead to engage in various
informal sector activities.
The ZCTU and both factions of the MDC agree in characterising the
contemporary Zimbabwean economy as based on "rent-seeking" and speculative
behaviour. Distortions created by developments such as price controls and
foreign exchange controls create rents.
As Zimbabwean economist Rob Davies writes, this "creates an incentive
for people to devote resources capturing rents, rather then using them for
Tendai Biti, the economic spokesperson of the Tsvangirai MDC, observes
that at the core of the crisis is the crippled supply side of the economy.
"The scenario of non-existent supply," notes Biti, "creates fertile ground
for middlemen and the rule of rent-seeking activities."
Evidence of this rent-seeking behaviour abounds in the Zimbabwean
economy. The Grain Marketing Board (GMB) was, until last week, buying maize
at $52 000 per tonne and selling it to select millers at $600 per tonne.
Politically connected individuals were able to buy the subsidised
maize from the GMB, get it milled at commercial millers and then sell it at
Similar speculative activities take place in the fuel and fertiliser
sectors where the new farmers who have benefited from the land occupations
are receiving subsidised inputs from the state and selling them rather than
using them for productive activities.
As Arthur Mutambara, leader of the other MDC faction, states: "The
distortions in our economy create opportunities for arbitrage."
In such an economy the emphasis of many of the emerging business
individuals is on fast-track accumulation through such speculative
activities, exploiting the breakdown of the rule of law and the corruption
of the state to accumulate vast profits through unproductive activities.
This is a key constituency that has been created by the authoritarian
politics of the Mugabe regime, and the indigenisation of economic activities
has largely been carried out through this means.
Moreover, an important part of the battle for succession within Zanu
PF has been fought over access to various such rent-seeking activities, and
the fortunes that then become available for further political consolidation
within the party.
In the midst of these activities there are no doubt businesspersons
who continue to think about the longer-term need to maintain and build up
productive activities both in the industrial and agricultural sectors.
The problem however is that this parasitic accumulation model is
taking place within a broader context of endemic poverty and a steady
decrease in the percentage share of wages in the gross domestic income.
The standard of living of workers has reached desperately low levels,
fuelled by a general ruling party antipathy to urban workers, and epitomised
by the massive human rights violations of the "urban clean up" Operation
Murambatsvina in mid-2005.
The result has been a renewed wave of labour, student and civic
protests since the beginning of the year.
In the field of labour protests, public sector workers have led the
response to the state. Junior doctors earning $56 000 per month, nurses $35
000 and teachers $84 000 have come out on strike or go-slows.
Even unions that have had less confrontational relations with the
state, such as the Zimbabwe Teachers' Association and the Public Services
Association, have threatened to take industrial action in the next week if
their salary demands are not met.
Other protests from the constitutional movement, women's organisations
and students have created additional pressure on the state.
These protests resemble the labour unrest in the second half of the
1990s, also triggered by the 1996 public sector strike that was the first
indicator of the force of labour that would play a major part in challenging
the state during this period.
There are however some differences with this current period of unrest.
In the late 1990s the structures of the labour movement were much stronger,
developed through strong organisational and educational capacity in the
The effective use of consultative labour forums ensured greater
ownership of collective actions by the union membership. Additionally during
this period the labour movement was able to "speak for the nation" in their
messaging and demands and build effective alliances with other civic groups.
In the current period the structures of the labour movement have been
weakened by a combination of structural changes in the labour force, state
repression, decreased organisational and educational capacity and a
leadership that has placed more emphasis on the ZCTU taking actions on its
own with less emphasis on building broader civic alliances.
Part of the explanation for this more narrow focus of the ZCTU can be
found in the difficult relations that have arisen between the labour
movement and both the MDC and the civics. The labour leadership perhaps
feels that it has been used and marginalised within the broader political
processes in the opposition.
However, this recoil from coalition building is likely to encounter
limits very quickly given the need to develop a broad front against Zimbabwe's
authoritarian state. It is thus unclear whether the militancy of the present
leadership will translate unto a broader participation by the union
membership and the general public in mass actions.
There is little doubt also that the division in the MDC that took
place after October 12 2005 has weakened both sides of the party and created
confusion and demoralisation among its supporters and in the civic movement.
Over the last year there have been attempts to heal the breach in the
opposition and this has led to the signing of a code of conduct between the
two formations, designed to lessen their public hostility and violence. This
has certainly been a step forward for both sides, but urgent efforts need to
be taken to strengthen the strategic and electoral cooperation between the
two groups, whether there is a presidential election in 2008 or 2010.
Both formations at present belong to the Save Zimbabwe Campaign led by
church leaders, and also bringing together all the major civic groups in the
country. The major demand of this campaign is that there should be a
presidential election in 2008 under a new constitution, thus opposing Mugabe's
move to delay this election to 2010.
One of the consequences of both MDC formations working under this
umbrella is that one or both factions may feel less need to pursue the
possibility of re-unification, but instead use the momentum of the campaign
to push their separate agendas. This is likely to be a mistake in the longer
term as closer cooperation between the two MDCs is essential to confront
It is against this background that the recent monetary statement by
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono needs to be understood. In many ways the
statement is an admission of a policy dead-end and recognition that the
primary problem in the country is the political blockage being created by
In the statement, Gono desperately called for the establishment of a
social contract between the government, business and labour, seeking to use
this vehicle to attempt to achieve what the political leadership is
unwilling to attempt.
Clearly in the present political conditions the call for a social
contract is unrealistic, given the unwillingness of the state to confront
the political challenges around democratisation, which would be essential to
a workable agreement between the three legs of a tripartite arrangement.
Gono's call for a social contract in Zimbabwe is not new, as the ZCTU
proposed it, under different circumstances, in its 1996 document "Beyond
Esap". Instead the government set up the National Economic Consultative
Forum in 1997 and the Tripartite Negotiating Forum in 1998 which, in the
words of the Labour and Economic Development Institute of Zimbabwe, "have
either become talk-shops or their decisions have been largely ignored".
Both Mugabe's attempt to extend his presidency to 2010 and Gono's
attempt to draw other social forces into a social contract should be seen as
Mugabe's attempt to control change in Zimbabwe under his tutelage and that
of his party.
The recent cabinet reshuffle confirmed Mugabe's need to maintain the
support of his loyalists as he attempts to get his proposal for a 2010
extension of the presidential election confirmed by the Zanu PF politburo.
Under this proposal it is likely that Mugabe would appoint a prime
minister who would still be responsible to him, as his position as a
purportedly "ceremonial president" provides him with continued immunity from
possible prosecution for crimes against humanity.
Such a move could then possibly be a precursor to small reforms in the
political and economic arenas, as a prelude to an election in which Mugabe
would hope to defeat the opposition under a new candidate, and prepare the
way for a "normalisation" of his regime.
However, Alexis de Tocqueville's warning that the "most dangerous time
for a bad government is when it starts to reform itself" should be a
reminder to Mugabe that once small reforms are introduced it is often
difficult to control the change.
Under the present political conditions Mugabe's government, as with
all authoritarian regimes, must continue to choose between compromise and
repression, or more specifically the particular blend of both.
It is likely that in the short term Mugabe will continue to emphasise
state coercion in dealing with dissent in the country.
However, the continued availability of this option will depend among
other factors on the capacity of the opposition and civic forces to mount
more effective popular resistance to the regime, the continued loyalty of
the police and army in the face of deteriorating economic conditions for the
armed forces, Mugabe's capacity to contain and resolve the succession debate
in his party and the ongoing pressure and isolation from the West.
Mugabe is likely to be acutely aware of the transition dangers that
befell the authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe after 1989 and the
lessons of his Chinese friends at Tiananmen Square.
All the indications are that 2007 will be a crucial year marking the
If Mugabe continues to deploy authoritarian strategies in response to
the political opposition, both the economic and the political conditions
will deteriorate further, and the international isolation of the regime is
likely to continue.
On the other hand if Mugabe attempts a controlled reform process, the
new political spaces opened are likely to provide additional momentum for
the political and civic opposition, and the internal threat to Zanu PF will
Caught between an unproductive confrontational strategy that he would
prefer and a reform strategy whose consequences he is unlikely to be able to
control, Mugabe is faced with a very difficult political dilemma.
On the other hand Zanu PF's capacity to re-invent itself in part
should not be dismissed, especially if the opposition forces facilitate this
option by further strategic blunders.
It would not be the first time that authoritarian regimes have carried
out a semblance of reform while retaining the core of the former government.
There are several such examples in both Africa and Eastern Europe.
Such an outcome would not be unfavourable for a South African
government that has always been more concerned with the "stability" of its
neighbour than with a more profound democratic transition.
* Brian Raftopoulos is head of the Africa programme at the Institute
for Justice and Reconciliation in Cape Town, South Africa.
By Morgan Tsvangirai
MAY I take this opportunity to place on record a growing political
mood of defiance evident in the past week as our struggle for change takes a
On Sunday, the people of Harare showed a deep sense of maturity as
they confronted hired gangs of thugs who defied a High Court order barring
the police from interfering with our rally.
May I acknowledge the powerlessness of senior members of our
professional police force who failed to execute their constitutional mandate
to respect the rule of law and to observe a legitimate High Court order.
Sunday's events in Highfield exposed the existence of a dangerous
political oligarchy, which has since usurped the ship of state and taken
charge of Zimbabwe.
Robert Mugabe and Zanu PF are at their weakest level; they have lost
confidence in our professional police officers and other traditional state
structures. Mugabe is now heavily dependent on a rogue militia and partisan
paramilitary forces in his war against the people.
Zimbabweans are a peace-loving people. That they have painfully
avoided anarchy, chaos or arms of war to resolve the crisis demonstrates
their faith in an orderly political transition and a sovereign right to
change. We shall see democratic change through peaceful public expression.
All indications show that the hour for action has come.
Fellow Zimbabweans, our nation is firmly agreed that unless we unite
against this dictatorship, we are headed for an abyss. Across the political
divide, we are all convinced that the status quo is untenable; our destiny
as a people could be in tatters; and unless we get out of this deep hole, we
risk our values and our common humanity.
I am pleased to note that those who previously vilified us are now on
our side, having experienced what it means to live in a criminal state.
There is nothing left in the feudal Zanu PF plate to maintain a patronage
system; the propaganda war against the people has run its course; it is now
clear to all that we must act to save Zimbabwe from collapse.
A criminal state, run by a gang of criminals and a military oligarchy,
cannot negotiate itself out of chaos. A criminal state cannot enter into
social contracts with the people. A criminal state cannot run credible and
A criminal state cannot be expected to respect the rule of law, adhere
to the principles of good governance and craft coherent policies for
Zimbabwe. It is a state without a nation. For 27 years, Robert Mugabe and
Zanu PF have abandoned the nation. Our country has long disintegrated into a
loose coalition of clans and tribes, all desperate for a single national
identity. From Nyanga to Chipinge, right through Chiredzi, Masvingo, Gwanda
to Binga and Omay, the people feel neglected and abandoned by the regime in
Harare and are subsisting on their own.
Mugabe has marginalised millions of people in the southern and western
half of the country; all our urban areas, our mining settlements and any
other centres of valid economic activity. It is true that Zimbabweans across
the political, ethnic and racial divide, strongly feel a sense of exclusion
from the national and natural benefits of their birthright. We wish to deal
with this fragmentation and build a nation based on unity, fairness,
compassion, solidarity and inclusiveness.
For 27 years, our quest for national integration remains an elusive
dream. And, over the past seven years, the regime has sought to divide the
people further, pretending to empower a new class of citizens from within
its ranks. That experiment has failed as evidenced by the chronic food
shortages, record unemployment, a collapsed economy, policy distortions and
For the past seven years, Zanu PF and Mugabe have abandoned the social
agenda and masterminded the collapse of national institutions - all in the
name of preserving political power through criminal means. The period saw
the imposition of a totalitarian state, using an ageing squad of serving and
former senior military officers.
The period saw the political injection of senior military officers
into civilian administration and other state institutions. By so doing,
Mugabe formed a reckless military oligarchy whose main task is to run bogus
elections and to suppress the people of Zimbabwe. The idea is to push
Zimbabwe to a civil war and to avoid accountability in a post-Mugabe era.
Fellow Zimbabweans, the replacement of the civilian state with
partisan Mugabe loyalists from the military oligarchy has far-reaching
implications for our nation. The military oligarchy has created a militia
whose task is to deal with civil society and the opposition.
This military oligarchy destroyed commercial agriculture; the military
oligarchy has taken charge of fuel supply and distribution, wildlife
management, trade and commerce, transport, agriculture inputs, food
distribution and other strategic locations - all designed to prop up Mugabe
and manage election outcomes.
The regime has had to print money to meet the unending demands of this
new administration, which shuns free markets, and standard norms of commerce
for distributing goods and services. All public works have been shelved. All
social services have succumbed to political opportunistic infections from
the military oligarchy. The rule of law has long been abandoned. The people
As was clear in Chiredzi in the just-ended election campaign,Zanu PF
and Mugabe desperately need the services of the military oligarchy to remain
in power. Examples abound where reliance on a military junta for civilian
administration and governance matters always ended with unkind results to
Added to our existing political morass is Gideon Gono - the governor
of the central bank. Gono's latest political statement capped it all:
failure is now certain. Gono literally threw in the towel. The crisis in
Zimbabwe is political. No amount of tinkering with phony cash and excessive
controls shall address the root cause of the crisis of governance.
Our message to Gono is simple. By pushing through a dispensary of
painkillers, you are wasting our time and delaying the resolution of the
Give way to political alternatives. Our message to Mugabe is equally
simple. Allow the people to exercise their sovereign right to introduce
viable political alternatives.
A social contract is impossible when workers and their leaders are
denied opportunities to express themselves. The social contract is already
dead, as long as workers are brutally attacked whenever they wish to
assemble and talk to each other. The social contract is history when
journalists and newspapers are banned from public service and ordinary
people are refused access to a free market of ideas.
Co-operation among political players and other stakeholders for
whatever national programme is only possible in a healthy climate in which
tolerance, respect for differences and a non-partisan approach to national
affairs are part of the game. With millions of Zimbabweans languishing in
the Diaspora, denied a basic right to vote and determine the fate of their
country, Zanu PF and Mugabe can forget about any meaningful social contract.
Instead of wasting time talking about social contracts in a
totalitarian state, let us focus our attention on a new constitution. The
rest immediately falls into place. The national crisis is now beyond Zanu PF's
ability to attend to alone. The solution lies in our proposals, enunciated
through our roadmap whose signposts for progress require sincere and open
dialogue, a nationally accepted transitional arrangement, a new
constitution, a confidence-building window and a free and fair election.
We are going into a presidential election in 2008 convinced that the
election shall give us a superb opportunity to reverse the chaos before us
and embark on a massive reconstruction, rehabilitation and healing process.
We are determined to get into the presidential election under a new
constitution in order to restore confidence in the electoral process. We are
against elections under conditions which produce contested outcomes. Our
call for elections in 2008 is out of the realisation that the national
crisis cannot be extended by another day. We have had enough. We say thus
far, and no further.
Our priority shall reside in the resuscitation of fundamental
institutions of governance, the restoration of the rule of law and the
introduction of an accountable and caring government. The actions by
workers, activists and all professionals on the ground are commendable and
more is on the way.
We believe the time to act is now. We make no apologies for organising
and harnessing the power of the people. We must express ourselves out of the
crisis through action.
* Tsvangirai is leader of the opposition MDC.
GOVERNMENT this week banned demonstrations and rallies in most of
Harare's high-density suburbs on the grounds that police had insufficient
manpower to deal with public disorder at political gatherings in these
The prohibitions, which were conveyed to the public in press adverts
on Wednesday, follow the police's brutal suppression of a planned opposition
rally in Highfield on Sunday and attacks on innocent residents in
surrounding townships by armed law enforcement officers.
In essence, the ban on rallies using the infamous Public Order and
Security Act, successor to the Law and Order (Maintenance) Act, is a partial
imposition of a state of emergency by President Mugabe who has become afraid
of his own people. Sections 25 and 26 of Posa grant the police wide powers
to prevent and break up public gatherings if they are deemed to endanger
But we question this new role of the police at political gatherings.
The police are expected to preoccupy themselves with crowd-control and not
breaking up meetings.
This is ample proof that Mugabe now requires brute force to protect
his throne. As pointed out by Crisis Coalition this week, the Zanu PF
government is committed to the use of violence as a tool of governance.
Mugabe's power should never be challenged even by his peers in the
party, he seems to think. He says the door is shut. Anyone trying to open it
has to go past police riot control vehicles, teargas, water cannons and
rubber truncheons. There was a clear demonstration of this in Highfield,
Glen View, Glen Norah, Budiriro and Chitungwiza over the weekend.
Mugabe, who has become hostage to his thirst for power, always
pretends in public to be a fatherly figure adored by all his subjects. He
does not see the dark side of his political intolerance.
His interview flighted on national television on Tuesday night once
again exposed this presidential subterfuge which has bred a culture of
impunity among security forces.
Asked about the issue of Western sanctions, President Mugabe,
appearing to be unaware of his country's poor human rights record,
responded: "What evil have we committed to anyone?"
To him, the butchery of farmers and opposition supporters and the
accompanying torture of fellow countrymen by security agents that occurred
in the run-up to the 2000 parliamentary election did not constitute acts of
evil. This spirit of denying the existence of a huge human rights deficit
stemming mainly from the impunity with which the law enforcers operate is
the spur that they require to continue to violate basic liberties. It is the
kind of impunity that has given police powers to use force unnecessarily
during the course of their duties.
Stories have been told of riot policemen telling victims that they are
only trained to beat up people and not to arrest and take statements. It is
the same cruel effrontery that drove the police on Sunday to firstly defy a
High Court ruling to allow the opposition to demonstrate, and the violence
that ensued in Highfield as law enforcers prevented people from attending
the MDC rally.
During a Chamber hearing of the MDC application to be allowed to hold
the rally, the police had argued that they did not have enough personnel to
effectively police the rally because of the force's involvement in Operation
Chikorokoza Chapera. That the police in defying the High Court ruling
managed to mobilise almost 1 000 officers, water cannons, attack dogs and
trucks, speaks volumes of President Mugabe's view of opposition to his
hegemony. Despite this, he calls himself a democrat.
Breaking up rallies and demonstrations is part of his democratic brand
of governance. This is why he has the audacity to ask the question: "What
evil have we committed to anyone?"
We can respond to this by saying there are many today who bear the
scars of torture and graves where victims of Zanu PF-sponsored violence are
entombed. The evil that his government has done is creating an environment
that has allowed perpetrators of political violence to be feted as heroes of
the Third Chimurenga. It is closing the democratic space and criminalising
opposition politics. It is allowing the police to beat up civilians and
torture suspects while in custody. It is ignoring court orders and
subverting the rule of law. That is the legacy he passes on to Zimbabweans
in his 84th year. And it hangs like a dark cloud over the land.
By Joram Nyathi
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai missed a big lesson last week. If you
want to get your way in Zimbabwe's poisoned and corrupt world, you must play
big or sound important. After the High Court granted his party an order to
hold its rally at Zimbabwe Grounds on Sunday, he didn't need further
authorisation from the police. The issue is simple. The police barricade the
entrance, you look for their boss, wave the court order in his face and tell
him candidly: "The information I want to reveal will compromise national
security if told from outside the stadium. So let me in to address the
people in privacy."
With that one has a chance to open the black gates to State House.
This trick worked in an incident last week when a senior Reserve Bank
official told the parliamentary portfolio committee on Mines and the
Environment that he could not give his oral evidence in the presence of the
media because this would "compromise state security".
Mirirai Chiremba is the RBZ's director of financial intelligence,
inspectorate, evaluation and security.
"Because of the nature of my job," Chiremba warned the committee, "I
do not think it is suitable to have the press here. I do not wish to say
anything that will cause instability in the country."
The oral evidence he was supposed to give concerned the possible
involvement of senior government officials, including RBZ officials, in
illegal gold mining activities which have led to the arrest of over 30 000
When such an important man speaks the media must be very afraid. The
parliamentary committee, chaired in an acting capacity by Gweru-Shurugwi
senator Tsitsi Muzenda, also cringed and opted to hear this destabilising
information in camera. This decision was taken "after consultations" among
committee members, which means the worthy MPs must have agreed the
information was important, sensitive and could destabilise the nation.
Two weeks ago police deputy commissioner Godwin Matanga told the same
committee that "senior politicians" were involved in illegal gold mining in
Kwekwe and Kadoma. On February 9 leader of the Gold Miners' Association of
Zimbabwe, Wonder Chanetsa, refused to name politicians involved for fear of
being killed. Zimbabwe Women's Mining Association president Evelyn Mushava
was blunt, telling chairman of the committee, Gabuzza Joel Gabuza, that he
would "be stunned" if told the names of the "powerful politicians".
"Even if we were to tell you the people involved, you will not act
because you will also be afraid of them," she said. Both leaders were
suspicious of the protection promised by the committee. The committee
members were enraged.
Guruve South MP Edward Chindori-Chininga said arresting small-scale
miners was addressing symptoms while letting the real culprits "go
scot-free". He cited the example of a 22-year old man arrested in Zambia on
his way to Dubai with 22kg of pure gold from Zimbabwe.
Bikita West MP Claudius Makova weighed in saying politicians involved
in "corrupt" activities should be exposed. "Let's go down, let's go down
deep there," he said, to which Muzenda chimed in righteously, declaring
"there should be no sacred cows" as this would undermine government's fight
All this was before they met the actual sacred cows. They duly put on
their holy men's long white robes and sojourned to Kwekwe and Kadoma. From
the summit of the mountain, lo and behold the glittering city below and the
men labouring in it. They returned with the Pandora's box and its treasures
but were all dumb like Zachariah for scoffing at the angel Gabriel's
heavenly message. They were "stunned".
When Muzenda regained her voice, she told the media still waiting
outside that "no names of politicians or business people had been revealed"
by the RBZ's Chiremba. "Honestly they (RBZ) are saying there are really no
godfathers," said a lachrymose Senator Muzenda. It's all under oath, and
given what happened to Roy Bennett in 2004, our parliament is not the League
of Nations of 1919.
Muzenda didn't say what state security information Chiremba was
hiding. What is evident though is that the RBZ, government and the
parliamentary committee on Mines and the Environment have enough big names
corruptly dealing in precious minerals to "cause national instability". But
they will not release them, never mind the expectation and excitement they
arouse in society by promising what they can't deliver. In the end the media
are accused of hiding information as if we were magicians. It happened after
the Zisco debacle.
The implications of the parliamentary committee's actions are
frightening - that high level corruption in Zimbabwe is so rampant that
there are people who enjoy absolute freedom to loot national resources
because they are assured of absolute immunity from prosecution. The edifice
of the Zimbabwe government is held together by a thick mortar of corruption
that nobody dares scratch lest the whole structure collapses, for all
associated with it are stained and fall short of the scrutiny of the law.
Quite conveniently, University of Zimbabwe lecturer Claude Mararike
has been appointed to chair a research unit "on the causes and definition of
corruption" in Zimbabwe. He appeared on ZBC TV on Monday saying this would
be a long process and that people should be patient. My fear is that by the
time these diversionary pursuits are done there maybe nothing to recover.
Toni Yengeni is welcome to Zimbabwe.
One thing is clear though. Unlicensed gold dealing is "illegal" for
the poor and hungry and "corrupt" for the rich and powerful and we don't
have a definition for what is corrupt. So let the orgy continue while we
look for the definition. I think we need more prisons for the poor.
Otherwise what does the Anti-Corruption Commission and the Minister for
Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies do for a living?
By Vincent Kahiya
WHAT is becoming clearer by the day is that the failing economy now
presents a greater threat to President Mugabe's government than the
political opposition and pressure groups all put together.
I will not delve much into the efficaciousness of our opposition other
than to say that the parties once again advertised their weakness at the
poll in Chiredzi South last weekend. Even before the holding of the poll,
the opposition's script about an uneven playing field and the propensity of
President Mugabe's party to rig had already been authored. But in the end,
can members of Arthur Mutambara's fragment of the MDC pat each other on the
back and look at the election statistics with satisfaction and say "we did
well under the circumstances guys, we got 674 votes"?
Or perhaps Morgan Tsvangirai's corner will all the same feel satisfied
in that they performed better than their Mutambara opposition by virtue of
posting 3 300 votes.
They were nowhere near Zanu PF's 10 401, whatever the excuse.
The opposition's campaign in Chiredzi was dead in the water right from
the start. It does not make much sense for opposition parties to venture
into the rural areas only when there is a by-election.
Can Mutambara honestly say that the people of Malipati knew that the
MDC had split into two and that he could convince the people there to vote
for his faction and not Zanu PF?
The loss of the opposition in the southeastern lowveld is emblematic
of the changing nature of our politics today in which the economy has become
Mugabe's biggest nemesis. Political scientist Eldred Masunungure aptly
captured this phenomenon in a recent interview with Reuters.
"It's (the economic collapse) driving the current spate of strikes in
the absence of real political opposition," Masunungure said. "Although there
is no coherence in the protests they could degenerate into political
There is all the evidence that Zanu PF's misrule has slowly shaped a
new opposition in the form of impoverished workers and a legion of the
unemployed. These are being recruited into this new league of opposition to
President Mugabe as the economy deteriorates further.
There were more recruits this week in the form of poor teachers and
government office workers who did not receive the much-anticipated salary
adjustments this month. The composition of the group is even broader. It
includes soldiers and policemen whose salaries last only a week.
Striking doctors and nurses, kombi drivers being forced to charge
sub-economic fares, businesspeople being harassed by police daily and even
senior Zanu PF officials whose businesses have been hit by the recession
have become part of the opposition movement.
These various constituents are all united by poverty which they blame
on Zanu PF's misrule. This is a group whose collective conscience cannot be
bribed by Zanu PF's cheap shots against Tony Blair or George Bush.
They want food on the table, school fees, a decent pair of shoes and
not false patriotism and infantile promises of an economic turnaround.
Which brings me to Finance minister Samuel Mumbengegwi's maiden public
pronouncement on the economy since he took over the portfolio a fortnight
It would be exploring uncharted echelons of naivety to have expected
Mumbengegwi to espouse any novel ideas to deal with the economic malaise.
Addressing army officers at the Staff College in Harare on Monday, the
minister stuck to convention and said exactly what we expected him to say -
He said government was working on "mechanisms" set to reduce inflation
by year-end while at the same time facilitating socio-economic development
and macro-economic stability. Mumbengegwi said government would closely
monitor public expenditure and put in place a mechanism that will spearhead
industrialisation and effective reduction of surging inflation.
His speech would not be complete without the Zanu PF cliché on Western
sanctions which he blamed for the economic collapse. Through something he
calls "collaborative efforts", he expects major growth in all sectors this
This kind of toadying by Mumbengegwi is not of any help to us. The
economy is not going to be mended by repeating the sanctions mantras (ask
Gideon Gono) or blurting out empty statements about collaborative efforts
and mechanisms which have failed in the past.
Meanwhile, as the economy drops further, opposition to Mugabe is
growing and no amount of water cannons or teargas canisters can stop it. The
country cannot be harassed out of its poverty.
THE opposition should thank the police for advertising the absence of
the rule of law in Zimbabwe. On Sunday evening BBC World carried film
footage of people gathering to attend the projected MDC rally at Zimbabwe
Grounds earlier that day. It had Morgan Tsvangirai showing police officers
his court order allowing the rally to proceed, and their response that the
rally could not proceed. Tsvangirai turned to the cameras and said the
police would not allow the rally to go ahead so it had to be postponed.
Here was an unambiguous demonstration that Zimbabwe is a police state
where court orders are ignored. A perfectly legal rally had to be scrapped
because the police, for what appeared to be political reasons, deemed it
inconvenient. If there was any doubt about the political dimension, Chief
Superintendent Thomsen (Toddie) Jangara, officer commanding Harare South,
made things crystal clear.
In his opposing affidavit he argued that police manpower was depleted
while MDC supporters had "violent tendencies".
"Clearly therefore considering the violent tendencies of the applicant's
supporters.I was satisfied that it was only prudent .to postpone the rally."
What have the police ever done to address the "violent tendencies" of
the ruling party? What have they done to arrest Joseph Mwale and all those
other people accused of political murders? And despite the best efforts of
the Herald to portray the MDC as violent, including a rather suspicious Page
1 pic, it was clear from all the reports that violence only erupted in
response to police attacks on opposition supporters.
As a result, news agencies around the world were able to carry reports
headed "Cops break up legal rally in Zim", "Police use water cannon on
marchers", and "Mugabe bans all rallies as unrest spirals".
How does that make the country look?
Home Affairs minister Kombo Mohadi said he could not comment on the
contempt of court. But you can bet your bottom dollar everybody else did.
After all, government propagandists are constantly telling us opposition
claims that Zimbabwe is a lawless state are "lies".
Which is why it was so entertaining to see Zanu PF apologists like
Tafataona Mahoso trying to explain France's refusal to invite President
Mugabe to the Africa-France (not France-Africa by the way) summit as
Mugabe and Mahoso have constantly argued that Africa supports Zimbabwe
in its quarrel with Britain and the EU. But a report in the Herald of
February 15 reveals that Zimbabwe's attempts to extract solidarity from the
African Union were fruitless.
Sadc and AU foreign ministers declined to take a stand at last month's
AU summit in Addis Ababa. The AU executive council reportedly considered the
matter "too hot" and referred it to the assembled leaders. They in turn took
the view that this was a bilateral matter between Zimbabwe and France.
Of course, the AU may take a different view over the Africa-EU meeting
projected for Lisbon in April. But as it stands, Zimbabwean diplomacy has
suffered a significant reverse. And no amount of blathering from the usual
suspects can hide that.
And by the way, if you hear anybody saying Britain "arm-twisted"
France, you can be sure they know nothing about Anglo-French relations! It
was actually the EU that told France it had a duty to abide by the EU
"common position". And the trade unions played an important role.
"As the crisis in Zimbabwe worsens on a daily basis," the unions said,
"the lead taken by the French trade union movement has shown that no EU
country should be a haven for Mugabe and his brutal regime and that no EU
leader will again get away with sanctions-busting."
Portugal should hear this message, they said.
Meanwhile, unelected Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu said the
renewal of sanctions was a "non-event". Could he then explain why government
has been working day and night to have them lifted? Why they have lobbied in
every conceivable forum to get them removed? And why they have instructed
the state media to use the silly term "illegal" when referring to them?
We experienced the same dishonesty over Commonwealth membership.
Zimbabwe's leaders worked frantically to have the country's suspension
lifted at Abuja in 2003. And then when that didn't happen an equal amount of
energy was invested in pretending Zimbabwe didn't want to be a member
Have any readers out there tried calling South Africa or countries
overseas recently? Last week it was virtually impossible to get through to
cellphone subscribers in Johannesburg. Telecoms Operators Association chair
Douglas Mboweni explains the problem in terms of termination fees which are
sub-economic for Zimbabwe-based operators.
Every time a local subscriber makes an international call, Mboweni
explains, local operators are billed for the call by the foreign operator on
whose network the call was received. But the rate doesn't reflect the real
cost of the call.
As a result people were taking advantage of cheap calls from Zimbabwe
to stay on the line for as long as three hours a day, Mboweni said.
He doesn't appear to understand the first rule of business: never
blame the customer. The problem lies with local operators not bringing
sufficient pressure to bear on Potraz and Tel*One.
Potraz announced this week it was approaching the issue "as a matter
Meanwhile, there should be a moratorium on new lines until Econet,
Net*One and Telecel can service their existing customers. Econet's current
claim that "Now you can make more calls, to more people, in more places" is
simply not true. Never has it been more difficult to make those calls!
Muckraker was intrigued to note two recent interviews in the state
press that seem to have been "inside jobs".
First on February 9 there appeared in the Manica Post a hagiographical
account of Irene Zindi, deputy chair of the Mutare Commission, commercial
farmer and former MP for Hatfield. She wasn't asked a single challenging
question by her biographer, Tambudzai Zindi.
Three obvious things to ask were: "You seem to have done a lot of
running during the liberation war. How do you keep fit now?" "How did you
lose your Harare seat?" And: "What do you think you are doing usurping the
functions of a democratically elected council?"
Let's hope Tambudzai is not a relative because we would then have an
obvious ethical problem where no relationship is disclosed in the text.
Next, the Chronicle of February 12 carried an interview with Didymus
Mutasa by Salatiel Mutasa, conducted at the minister's Rusape home, in which
he claimed the country was not facing food shortages as the government had
imported more than 200 000 metric tonnes of maize.
Again, not a single challenging question from the person with the same
name and no disclosure regarding a possible relationship.
What will we see next: "Mugabe has every right to remain in office" by
South African mining company, African Pearl Mining is set to invest
more than US$100 million in diamond projects through its local subsidiary,
Better Mining (Pvt) Ltd, Business Herald reports.
It seems that Better Mining's idea of better mining is to give $1
million to the 21st February Movement.
Other observers might suggest this is one way of getting business done
in Zimbabwe. We have no doubt it amounts to poor corporate governance.
Here is a company seeking to ingratiate itself with a regime that has
presided over decline and impoverishment. Instead of trying to improve the
business climate, its contribution will simply add to the impression of
cronyism and sleaze. Better Mining had better wake up to what is required
for mining to improve. That is investor confidence and the rule of law.
Let's watch Better Mining function in the absence of those.
Company director Rhody Munyoro thinks "the Zimbabwean media should
portray a good image of Zimbabwe. We should not criticise what the
government is doing as it is meant to bring the economy into the hands of
the indigenous people."
We note constant references in the state media to MDC supporters being
"sponsored". How then do we describe the large amounts Zanu PF is seeking
from business for its mendicant 21st February Movement?
And we were interested to see one of the first public corporations to
advertise its loyalty to our leader was Noczim. How appropriate!
Arda, which the president believes "has gone to the dogs", also joined
in the toadying. The parastatal's advert reminded Mugabe that "Arda has a
vision of a prosperous, food secure Zimbabwe. . ." But Mugabe knows that
Arda "yakaora kare-kare."
Then there was the GMB which advertised a range of products no longer
available in local supermarkets.
Rita Marley, Bob Marley's widow, has added her voice to those of
Mugabe's one-time admirers who feel betrayed by his descent into tyranny.
Asked by The Weekender newspaper in South Africa about African leadership
and the way Zimbabwe is being managed today, she said her husband "would not
feel good at all".
"And I don't feel better about it either," she added. "We were
together on stage in Zimbabwe when the (British) flag was brought down to
make place for the Zimbabwean flag.It was for us a victory. Zimbabwe is one
among many examples of bad leadership across the continent." What a suitable
Tazzen Mandizvidza should learn some basic interviewing techniques
when confronted by important personalities. Firstly, he should not be
impressed or amused by the person he is interviewing. He is there to extract
important information, not to giggle like a school-girl at what the
president evidently thought were amusing anecdotes.
Secondly, he must learn to cut in. Mugabe spent eight minutes
responding to the first question and seven-and-a-half minutes to the second.
What sort of interview is that? Why when he castigated politburo members for
getting into bed with diamond companies was he not asked about his own
properties? There have been reports of a luxurious home built for him in
Helensvale. Who paid for that?
When expressing disappointment with cabinet colleagues, why was he not
reminded of his 2005 promise not to appoint unelected MPs to office?
It also didn't help having other people present in the room
chortling - probably the same ones who referred slavishly in ads flighted
during the programme to his "sublime leadership qualities" as the country
goes down the tubes! It meant Mugabe was constantly playing to the gallery
which doesn't make for good television.
Tazzen, do you want the respect of your colleagues or not? That was a
pathetic performance by any standard.
Eric Bloch Column
A LITTLE more than three weeks ago, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ)
governor Gideon Gono presented his 2006 year-end monetary policy statement.
The pivotal feature of that statement was his contention that economic
recovery was not attainable by recourse to piecemeal measures. Instead, he
said if wellbeing was to be restored to the Zimbabwean economy, a holistic
programme was essential, addressing all key issues governing the economy.
He unhesitatingly identified numerous concerns that would have to be
dealt with dynamically and constructively.
These included curbing inflation, the removal of the innumerable
distortions that characterise the economy, reducing state spending to
manageable and affordable levels, effective interest rate policies,
discontinuance of RBZ involvement in quasi-fiscal operations, restoring
viability to the agricultural, manufacturing and tourism sectors,
privatisation of parastatals, foreign exchange mobilisation, investment
facilitation, exchange rate management and much else.
The statement was an overwhelmingly frank acknowledgement of very many
pronounced ills afflicting the Zimbabwean economy in need of very urgent
attention. That acknowledgement was reinforced by outlines of the actions
required to address those ills effectively.
However, the governor also recognised a need for an enabling
environment which would be conducive to such actions being taken and pursued
In doing so, he was clearly very conscious of the vast extent that
Zimbabwe's pronounced hyperinflation (the highest in the world) permeates
through every facet of the economy and that, therefore, it would have to be
very positively and rapidly dealt with if there was to be success in dealing
with all Zimbabwe's other economic problems and needs.
In recognising that, he was demonstrably also aware that there are
numerous causes of that hyperinflation and that, therefore, diverse steps
would have to be taken to bring inflation under control.
Those causes range from soaring costs of imports, driven by
insufficient availability of foreign exchange, to declining productivity,
excessive governmental spending and recourse to the printing of money,
corruption in both public and private sectors and many other inflation
But the governor was also cognisant of the incontrovertible fact that
one of the greatest causes of Zimbabwe's hyperinflation is inflation itself.
Almost all in commerce and industry now determine selling prices not on the
basis of sustained costs, and a profit margin thereon, but on anticipated
replacement costs, plus that profit margin.
Many contracts (such as property leases) are inflation-indexed. Wage
negotiations invariably centre upon total compensation for sustained, and
foreshadowed, inflation, and salaries are regularly inflation-adjusted.
Thus, while not the only cause of inflation, inflation is one of the
greatest causes, especially so when the extent of inflation is immense (in
other words, when extreme hyperinflation prevails).
In view of this, the governor's statement recognised that a
prerequisite for a successful holistic economic recovery programme is to
attack inflation vigorously in numerous ways but, first and foremost, to
halt inflation driving up inflation.
He therefore drew upon the lessons of history for, almost without
exception, every successful recovery of economies from hyperinflation has
been founded upon one common platform, that platform being known as a social
Germany anchored its recovery, from annualised inflation of 814 000
000% in 1923 to 4% in 1924, upon a social contract. Hungary used a social
contract as the foundation for inflation containment from 19 800% per month
to under 8%, while Bolivia similarly brought down inflation, in little more
than one year, from 23 447% to less than 5%.
Similar successes have, at different times, been achieved in the USA,
Israel, Peru, Venezuela, Italy and many other countries, in every instance a
social contract being the base upon which all the actions to contain
inflation were founded.
A social contract is, in essence, one wherein government, business and
labour agree upon a freeze, for a transitional period of time, of all
governmental taxes and other charges at existing levels, a like freeze of
all prices for goods and services, and also a like freeze of all salaries
Thus during the continuance of the social contract (being probably for
a period of six to 12 months) the purchasing power of the populace would
neither grow nor shrink, no matter how adequate or inadequate it may be at
the commencement of the social contract.
During the continuance of the contract, people would neither be better
off, or worse off, than at the beginning of the social contract, and the
same would apply to government and to businesses.
The only exception would be in instances of increased costs of
imports, for it is not possible to freeze those costs, and therefore the
social contract would allow for price increases to cover such import cost
increases, but would also provide for formula-driven, pro rata increases in
salaries and wages.
The effect of the social contract would be to halt inflation fuelling
further inflation, thereby enabling appropriate measures to be determinedly
implemented to deal with all the other drivers of inflation, concurrently
with actions to address Zimbabwe's other economic recovery needs.
For nearly three years there have been intermittent attempts to
negotiate a social contract, through the medium of the Tripartite
Negotiating Forum, but without success. Each attempt has been frustrated by
one or another of the negotiating parties obdurately refusing to reach
On occasion the government has demanded that the contract be preceded
by upward adjustment of some of its imposts, in order to reduce its
At other times it was the representatives of business that insisted
upon price adjustments as a precursor to the social contract, and on yet
other occasions labour was insistent that minimum wages be aligned to the
poverty datum line, before commencement of such a contract, disregarding the
inability of most businesses to pay such wages, and that if the demand was
fulfilled, many businesses would collapse, with consequential intensified
Drawing upon the experiences of history, and upon the logics of the
social contract concept, Gono called upon all stakeholders to ensure that
such contract comes into being by March 1. In doing so, he made it very
clear that he was not proposing a social contract in isolation, but as the
first step of a very comprehensive economic recovery programme.
Since then, the national press has been filled with numerous columns
of editorial and vast numbers of readers' letters supporting or opposing the
More recently, the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has
published a press statement claiming to support a social contract, but only
after other matters, such as economic distortions, have been addressed.
In other words, CZI wishes to place the cart before the horse, instead
of the other way around as envisaged by the central bank governor and as
proven repeatedly in history to be the successful way of dealing with the
economic problems confronting Zimbabwe.
Last week, President Robert Mugabe publicly committed his government
to support the social contract and also to support the very many other
measures which Gono tabled as required immediately following the
commencement of the contract.
That is a major breakthrough which must not be frustrated by business
or labour. Preconceptions, rigidity of policies and dogmatic
self-centredness must all be set aside, and for once a national unity is
required to support Gono's call, failing which the Zimbabwean economy is
It is time for a long-overdue social contract, instead of
misconceptions condemning the economy to ongoing, irrecoverable, decline.
Walk Gono through politics
FROM what I remember of Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono's latest
monetary policy statement, he focused on distortions in the economy,
attempted to give a history lesson, and suggested that all will be well if
Zimbabweans "buy in" to his policies.
Given his awareness of the various distortions in the economy and
their negative and corrupting influence, is it not surprising that he did
nothing to correct the two most obvious distortions: the official price of
fuel and prices of foreign currency?
However, given that both of these government-created price distortions
provide daily opportunities for the chefs to further enrich themselves, Gono's
lack of action is hardly surprising. Wrong - yes, but not surprising.
A couple of other distortions that Gono might care to reflect on:
chefs buying expensive Mercedes Benz vehicles and building absurdly
ostentatious mansions at a time when the vast majority of their fellow
Zimbabweans are living well below the official poverty line; weekend farmers
living the good life and paying their farm workers what can only be
described as slave wages.
George Orwell's book, Animal Farm, would need substantial updating and
amending if it were to adequately reflect on how badly the Zimbabwean
revolution has gone wrong.
Liberation, socialist? I think not.
Gono's attempted history lesson fell rather flat given that he
referred to far away countries in far away times.
One wonders why he did not rather focus on the experience of Rhodesia
from 1965 to 1980. After all, Gono continues to parrot the
politically-correct (in Zanu PF circles) fiction that our economic troubles
have much to do with imposition of "illegal" sanctions.
It would have been of interest for Gono to examine how and why the
Rhodesian economy did more than merely survive under genuine international
Had Gono dared to compare the Rhodesian economy under sanctions with
the Zimbabwean experience, he might have been forced to the conclusion that
the present government - of which he is an integral part - is far more to
blame for the destruction of the economy than any so-called sanctions.
Gono emphasised that countries were most successful in overcoming
hyper-inflation and other economic problems when people gave their full
support to government policies.
Perhaps he needs a lesson in politics as he is obviously unaware that
most Zimbabweans are unlikely to buy in to his policy prescriptions because
they are of a government that has imposed itself on the people for the past
When people buy in to a government's policies, it will be because they
accept that the government represents their expressed wishes. That can only
happen in a functioning democracy, something which Zimbabwe has ceased to
Global economies de-mystified, satirically
DESPITE causing untold suffering to many, turbulent global
economies have their funny side too that could evoke laughter.
* Socialism: You have two cows and you give one to your
* Communism: You have two cows, the government takes both and
gives you some milk;
* Fascism: You have two cows, the government takes both and
sells you some milk;
* Nazism: You have two cows, the government takes both and
* Bureaucratism: You have two cows; the government takes both,
shoots one, milks the other and throws the milk away...
* Traditional capitalism: You have two cows, you sell one and
buy a bull. Your herd multiplies and the economy grows. You sell them and
retire on the income;
* An American corporation: You have two cows, you sell one and
force the other to produce the milk of four cows. Later, you hire a
consultant to analyse why the cow dropped dead;
* A French corporation: You have two cows, you go on strike
because you want three cows;
* A Japanese corporation: You have two cows, you redesign them
so they are one-tenth the size of an ordinary cow and produce 20 times the
milk. You then create a clever cow cartoon image called "Cowkimon" and
market them world-wide;
* A German corporation: You have two cows, you reengineer them
so they live for 100 years, eat once a month, and milk themselves;
* An Italian corporation: You have two cows, but because you don't
know where they are, you break for lunch;
* A Russian corporation: You have two cows, you count them and
"learn" you have five cows. You count them again and learn you have 42. You
count them again and learn you have two. You stop counting them and open
another bottle of vodka;
* A Swiss corporation: You have 5 000 cows, none of which belong
to you, so you charge others for looking after them;
* A Chinese corporation: You have two cows and 300 people
milking them. You claim full employment, high bovine productivity, and
arrest the newsman who reported the numbers;
* An Indian corporation: You have two cows and you worship them
* A Zimbabwean corporation: You have two cows and you eat both.
Cursed be the looters
IT is the greatest of indignities to stand powerless and
watch our leadership rampage through our land like a band of bloated baboons
snatching food from our children's mouths as they make themselves "richer
Their threadbare cloaks of respectability, honour and
righteousness have trampled the squalor we live in.
May the wasted spirits of all those who died of the
savagery and neglect of those who grabbed what was never theirs, haunt them
and their beneficiaries beyond the end of this terrible time.
Cry for probe
DO fellow readers realise that they cannot get
passports because there is no requisite paper, and that they cannot get
drivers' licences because there is no suitable metal?
We just can't get anything here yet we are told that
the social contract will solve everything.
Why isn't there an investigation by MPs into
problems encountered in obtaining these basic documents?
Now we hear some "misguided" official saying drivers'
licences should be renewed every five or 10 years. Give us a break please!
Gone to the dogs,
Let's not be conned again
AS a Bulawayo resident, I was dismayed at the
government's plan to take over from Bulawayo City Council through Zinwa the
supply of water.
What justification does President Mugabe and
his Zanu PF government have to administer Bulawayo water supplies when they
have failed to get the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project off the ground,
let alone service boreholes in the Nyamandlovu aquifer?
The trail of Zanu PF failure in Matabeleland
is well-documented, cases in point being the Bulawayo/Nkayi road where only
30 miles have been constructed in nine years and failure to connect
Mtshabezi dam water to the Bulawayo water supply chain.
They have even failed to administer water
supplies in Harare. Over the last 15 years some companies have relocated to
Harare, citing water problems and the government has done nothing about it.
If anything, it wants to drive the last nail
into the coffin of Bulawayo through this senseless takeover and only makes
empty promises during elections. We have been conned before, let us not be
Let's join forces - Zanu PF, MDC,
industrialist, worker, young, old, to and say NO! to this lunatic idea.
'Take over fuel for price freeze to work'
THE social contract proposed by Reserve Bank
governor Gideon Gono is quite a noble one given the escalating prices of
There has been unprecedented increases in
prices of basic commodities which have contributed to the runaway inflation.
If all partners play their part, come June,
inflation would have gone down. There is something I however feel might make
the fight against prices difficult: fuel.
Fuel prices are dependent on the rate of the
rand or pula on the parallel market. For as long as people source funds to
procure fuel from the parallel market, the prices of commodities will be
difficult to pin down.
Government has kept a tight monopoly on
maize - a locally-produced commodity - and I see no reason why it should not
take over the responsibility to procure fuel.
Fuel is of such strategic importance that it
should not be left in private hands. In any case, service stations are not
meant to make much profit on the sale of fuel, but from the sale of oils,
vehicle servicing and small marts at their service stations.
This is the reason why their buildings were
never called fuel stations but service stations.
In this context, for the proposed price
freeze to succeed, government should take over the procurement of fuel as
this will render needless the excuses to increase prices of commodities.
Help avert collapse of health sector
By Retiring Physician
AS our economy shrinks and moves into the
terminal stage and we face disaster in the face, this is an appeal to anyone
who can exert influence on government to recognise the disaster which is the
healthcare system in Zimbabwe.
Years of neglect and lack of funding have
reduced our once-efficient hospitals to crumbling ruins.
Everywhere one looks, one sees neglect:
leaking pipes and crumbling walls or stacks of unserviceable electronic
The dispensaries have bare shelves while
patients lie dehydrating and dying on the floors because there are neither
drips nor beds.
Year after year, bids by the Ministry of
Health and Child Welfare for more adequate funding have been reduced to only
cater for basics while state security has been prioritised. And there has
been lavish spending on ego trips and travelling the world-over.
Striking doctors who walk off the wards,
leaving patients to die have been condemned yet government should take the
flak for creating circumstances which have led to their collective decision
to down tools.
The inadequacy of the doctors' salaries has
been well-publicised over the weeks the strike has raged, yet instead of
rectifying the situation, government has threatened punitive measures and
even to sack them.
Government is apparently driving away the
doctors from the country, probably never to return, while our Aids epidemic
statistics gather momentum. To ensure that the deterioration continues, we
now learn that medical students are being forced to drop out of medical
school as the fees have now risen to over half a million dollars a term with
government helping with a payout of a paltry $8 000.
There should be no greater priority in
present circumstances than to salvage something from what remains of the
health system before it too crumbles into ruins.
The international community, whose
repugnance of the regime is well-known should channel help to these
essential medical facilities to save the people of Zimbabwe.
* Retiring physician is a pen name for a
Harare-based writer who has been working in the heath sector now on the
verge of retirement.
Nyathi spoilt an otherwise brilliant piece
I THOROUGHLY enjoyed Joram Nyathi's Candid
Comment, "Charamba's ethnic snobbery stinks", (Zimbabwe Independent,
Every word was right, every turn of phrase
spot-on. If some people do not look at themselves and change their behaviour
after being told such truths about their warped deeds, they should consider
if they still want to continue to be classified human beings.
But sadly, Nyathi mars an otherwise magnum
opus with this regrettable paragraph:
"In this obsession (Charamba aka Manheru) he
has the unwavering support of one Geoff Nyarota who never tires of telling
the whole world that the Shona constitute 80% of the Zimbabwean population,
but does not explain why in their masterly majority they have failed to free
this country from post-colonial tyranny."
Is this not like Charamba's tribal bigotry,
sir? I will be the first to hope that it's not.
My other disgruntlement with Nyathi is his
needless, opportunistic and surprise smear at Nyarota, who like Nyathi, is a
fine writer who I believe students of journalism should be learning from.
Isn't Charamba too much on your hands
already to have the reputable Nyarota as your "enemy"? Surely there is every
ground for reconciliation, if there is need for any at all, between Nyathi
* PJS writes from Mutare.