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Bankrupt ZEC requires US$240m for polls

Friday, 25 February 2011 07:21

Tendai Zhanje

THE financially-beleaguered Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) needs close
to US$240 million to bankroll the constitutional referendum, clean-up the
voters’ roll, delimit constituencies, and conduct elections if they are to
be held this year.

The estimated budget comes after ZEC chairperson Justice Simpson
Mutambanengwe’s admission on Tuesday that the commission was too bankrupt to
hold a general election before year-end as wanted by President Robert

Mugabe and some hardliners in his Zanu PF party insist that money for the
polls would be found despite Finance minister Tendai Biti’s insistence that
government coffers were empty.

According to ZEC’s five-year strategic plan, the commission needs nearly
US$94 million for the referendum, US$8,6 million for the delimitation
exercise, US$20 million for the voters’ roll and US$117,45 million for the
elections. The strategic plan was launched in the capital on Tuesday.
The US$94 million for the referendum includes money for pre-referendum
preparations, voter education, election materials and conducting the

For the delimitation, ZEC will use the US$8,6 million for logistics,
allowances, administration and compiling the delimitation report.
Their estimated expenditure for general elections includes money required
for pre-elections preparations, voter education, election materials, vehicle
hire and conducting the elections.

The commission also pointed out that they would need about US$30,5 million
if there were going to be by-elections in 2011.
Biti, currently abroad on government business, could not be reached
yesterday on whether the treasury would make available the money.
In an interview with the Zimbabwe Independent on Tuesday, Mutambanengwe said
it was improbable for ZEC to conduct elections this year given their
financial position.

“I don’t know if there is going to be enough money for elections,” he said.
“In order for us to have the capacity to hold elections this year, we need
the resources, which we do not have at the present moment…cleaning up of the
voters’ roll involves voter education, training of personnel, among other

He said the cleaning up of the shambolic voters’ roll was a “must, a
necessity” and that if resources were available it would take “at least two
to three months” to undertake the task.

Last year, Biti in the 2011 national budget allocated US$30 million for the
referendum on the new constitution and set aside $20 million for
by-elections, voters’ roll, delimitation of constituencies and
infrastructure for ZEC, although Mugabe had asked him to provide $200
million for the referendum and elections.

On Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s call for the country to adopt a
bio-metric voters’ roll as one of the steps towards attaining a free and
fair election, Mutambanengwe said: “For the time being I can’t say it’s
possible, but we will want to go bio-metric.”

He said the commission was in touch with people and organisations that can
help them set up that system.

Mutambanengwe said his commission was also looking at how other countries
have succeeded in using it.

On politically motivated violence and intimidation, which has flared up in
Harare and other parts of the country since Zanu PF launched its election
campaign, he said it was not ZEC’s responsibility to deal with it.

“Violence isn’t the responsibility of ZEC as such,” said Mutambanengwe.

The constitution-making process, which is supposed to lead up to elections,
has stalled due to lack of funds.

Mugabe has said elections would be held with or without a new constitution.
He said they can always revert to the old constitution, minus Amendment
No19, if the new constitution is rejected or inconclusive.

Tsvangirai said last week: “I want to tell you today, that executive
authority in this country is shared and the president has no power to
announce an election date without consulting the prime minister.”

He said the key to achieving a free and fair election was to ensure “a new,
biometric voters’ roll, a stable and secure environment, a credible
electoral body with a non-partisan secretariat, a non-partisan public media,
security sector reform and a referendum on the new constitution. We cannot
have an election before we achieve these key milestones”.

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Biti furious over missing US$300m

Friday, 25 February 2011 07:26

Dumisani Muleya

THERE were furious scenes at a stormy high-level government meeting on
Tuesday attended by President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai over the missing US$174 million in diamond revenues, with Finance
minister Tendai Biti reportedly breathing fire over the issue and the
intensifying internal squabbles on civil servants’ salaries.

There are also questions over U$125,8 million realised in January 2011which
has not been remitted to Treasury. In total US$300 million has not been
accounted for.

Top official sources told the Zimbabwe Independent yesterday that Biti “hit
the roof” and grilled Mines minister Obert Mpofu at the meeting held at
Munhumutapa Building over the US$174,2 million which cannot be accounted

Biti told parliament on Tuesday last week that he had not received the
US$174 million as claimed by Zanu PF ministers and more specifically by
Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) chairman Godwills

“Information on hand as supplied by ZMDC indicates that an amount of
US$174,2 million should have been remitted to Treasury, while an additional
U$125,8 million realised in January 2011 remains outstanding,” Biti told

“However, Treasury has only managed to reconcile US$62,1 million including
accruals to both Zimra (US$17,7 million) and the Exchequer account (US$42,9
million). Clearly, ZMDC and (Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe)
MMCZ are not remitting in full the revenues which they have themselves
declared as due to the fiscus.”

There are fears that the US$300 million has either been stolen or was being
kept secretly somewhere by Zanu PF ministers as a war chest for anticipated

Sources said Biti hammered Mpofu at the Tuesday meeting over the missing
funds and indirectly attacked Mugabe who recently said in Ethiopia that
civil servants’ salaries were going to be increased because there were
diamond revenues to foot the bill.

Biti’s slamming of Mpofu and firing across Mugabe’s bows was said to have
forced Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa to join the fray to rescue

“There was a deadly fight at the meeting,” a cabinet minister said. “Biti
was fuming over the issue of the diamond proceeds. The money seems to have
disappeared because no one is able or willing to account for it.

“Biti was angered by insistent and persistent claims from Zanu PF and ZMDC
officials that his ministry has been given a total of US$174 223 814,88
since January last year. He said that was a lie because Treasury had only
received US$62,1 million in collective diamond revenues. He challenged
everyone, from Mugabe to the most junior minister in there, to say where the
money is.”

The minister said Mnangagwa reacted to Biti’s remarks, saying he had no
problem with what he was saying but was bothered by insinuations that the
president had misled the nation on civil servants’ salaries.

Sources said Biti also queried Mugabe’s claims that there was no money to
pay the civil servants, saying he had no such funds. He asked Mpofu where
the money was and there was no response, it was said.

Mugabe said last month while in Addis Ababa there was money from diamond
sales to hike salaries of civil servants.

“It was a heated and tense meeting. The meeting had more questions than
answers and in the end it was resolved that Biti and Mpofu must do
reconciliations on diamonds revenues and get to the bottom of the matter.”

In the meantime, Biti has instructed the Auditor-General and the
Commissioner General for the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority to verify figures of
the diamond proceeds received so far. In addition, he has also ordered the
Comptroller and Auditor General to audit the books of the relevant
parastatals involved in the sale of the diamonds.

Zanu PF officials are resisting the diamonds revenues audit, saying Biti has
no powers to order an investigation into the issue. Biti said at the Tuesday
government meeting that if Mugabe and Zanu PF officials thought he had
stolen the money then they should agree to an audit.

“Biti argued that if there was anyone who thought his ministry had
mishandled the money then they should support the call for an audit of
diamond revenues,” a source said. “If you are accusing someone of failing to
account for monies they received then surely you must demand an audit, but
Zanu PF is opposed to it. Why?”

Masimirembwa has accused Biti of playing politics, saying he had the money
but was refusing to pay civil servants in a bid to incite an “insurrection
so that we have another Egypt or Tunisia in Zimbabwe”.

North African Arab states and other Middle East countries are currently in
flames due to popular uprisings by pro-democracy movements against dictators
and their failed policies. Former Tunisian president Ben Ali and ex-Egyptian
president Hosni Mubarak have been overthrown through street riots, while the
Libyan leader is fighting for political survival. There is sweeping unrest
in Algeria, Bahrain, Yemen and other countries in the region.

Biti has demanded the enactment of a Diamond Act to regulate the mining and
sale of the gems in Zimbabwe. “It is important that there be enforcement of
transparency in dealing with public resources such as Marange diamonds for
the common good of the country,” he said on Tuesday last week. “As I
indicated in the 2011 budget, a Diamond Act is imperative.”

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EU to review sanctions periodically

Friday, 25 February 2011 07:32

Leonard Makombe

THE European Union (EU) is willing to review sanctions against Zimbabwe and
corporations periodically, departing from the annual examination based on
real positive political developments in the country, the bloc’s Ambassador
to Zimbabwe has said.

Aldo Dell’Ariccia said last week’s delisting of 35 personalities, who
include wives of army, police, intelligence and senior government officials,
was taken in the framework of the re-engagement between Zimbabwe and the
bloc since the signing  of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) in 2008 and
the institution of the Government of National Unity (GNU) in February two
years ago.

In an interview yesterday, Dell’Ariccia said: “The important part that has
been underestimated by many observers (after the council’s meeting to review
the sanctions last week) is that the EU has declared to be ready to revisit
the decisions at any time if we receive, from Zimbabwe, the evidence of
further developments in respect of the rule of law, human rights and
democratic reforms.”

The ambassador said its decision-making process was informed by “the
 parties” commitment towards the GPA and towards the elections to permit the
will of the people to prevail.”

The delisting of 35 personalities from the sanctions list was seen by some
sectors as ineffectual especially because the spouses of army, police,
intelligence and government listed persons could transact business on behalf
of their partners.

Dell’Ariccia said the wives and other politicians were delisted in their own
capacities and they could do their own business as they were seen not to be
undermining the rule of law, respect for human rights and democratic

The review came against a background of a surge in violence blamed on Zanu
PF although the party has vehemently denied the accusations and in turn
blamed the MDC-T.

“The review was a result of the assessment since February last year; the EU
took stock of the progress in addressing the economic crisis and the
improvement in service deliveries, in particular education and health,” said
Dell’Ariccia. “Unfortunately the progress on the political front was not
equivalent and that is why we could not go any further (remove more people).
Whenever we receive a message from the country that the situation is
improving, we are ready to review the decision.”

He added that there was also a possibility of further tightening the
restrictive measures should the political situation worsen with the eruption
of political violence.

The EU slapped Zimbabwe with “targeted sanctions” in 2002 after violent
polls which led to the re-election of President Robert Mugabe.

During the election, Zimbabwe had invited individual countries from the EU
to observe the elections, but evicted Pierre Schori, then Swedish ambassador
to the United Nations, as the head of the bloc’s observer mission.

The institution of the GNU saw Zimbabwe re-engaging the bloc and in July
last year a team of ministers representing the three political parties in
the inclusive government met the EU High Representative for the European
Foreign and Security Policy, Catherine Ashton.

Dell’Ariccia said that further to that meeting, and based on the
presentation by the three re-engagement team ministers on the progress in
the implementation of the GPA, the EU had notified to the government of
Zimbabwe that 138 million Euros from the European Development Fund (used to
support development in African/Caribbean/Pacific countries) were earmarked
for Zimbabwe.

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Mubarak, Mugabe regimes: So many parallels to draw

Friday, 25 February 2011 09:19

Leonard Makombe

FOLLOWING the ouster of Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak, many Zimbabweans are
of the view that the ejected head of state and his Zimbabwean counterpart,
President Robert Mugabe, are mirror images of each other.

There are uncanny similarities between the two in terms of their policies,
time in office and relations with Western countries.

Political analysts said both leaders wielded too much power, built a system
of patronage and a culture of corruption while paying lip service to
addressing problems facing ordinary people.

Mubarak, with a strong military background, became a darling of the West
upon his ascendancy to power in 1981.

In his inauguration speech, Mubarak stated that he would pursue policies his
predecessor Anwar el Sadat had initiated, especially peace and
“reconciliation with Israel inside internationally recognised borders”,
which won him a lot of respect and hearts, especially at the height of the
Cold War.

To many in Zimbabwe, this reminded them of Mugabe’s reconciliation speech a
year earlier, when he said: “I urge you, whether you are black or white, to
join me in a new pledge to forget our grim past, forgive others and forget,
join hands in a new amity, and together, as Zimbabweans trample upon
racialism, tribalism and regionalism, and work hard to reconstruct and
rehabilitate our society as we reinvigorate our economic machinery.”

Mubarak, who was booted out after 18 days of protests against his rule,
served as the country’s president for 30 years after Sadat’s assassination
in October 1981.

A lot was expected from Mubarak when he took over, but last week, Middle
East analysts said he was to be known “more for what he was expected to do
than what he achieved”.

Mugabe enjoyed good relations with Mubarak, which explains why the
Zimbabwean president had a habit of stopping over in Egypt en route to the
United Nations Summits and other destinations.

Macdonald Chibika, a researcher and political analyst based in Harare, said
it was interesting to note the similarities between the two leaders.

“They (Mugabe and Mubarak) ruled for 30 years under harsh conditions and
they wanted to retain power at all costs,” said Chibika.

He added that Mugabe had used the GPA to retain power and Mubarak tried a
number of failed strategies to do the same when Egyptians marched demanding
his exit.

Dewa Mavhinga, a South African based analyst, said Mubarak’s authoritarian
rule closely resembled that of Mugabe in that he resorted to a “raft of
emergency laws and other draconian pieces of legislation to keep a
disgruntled electorate muzzled”.

“Again like his Zimbabwe counterpart, Mubarak relied heavily on the military
and the police to maintain a grip on power,” he said.

Another political analyst, Charles Mangongera said it was not necessarily
true to say the two leaders had similarities but the political systems in
the two countries were the same.

“The systems thrived on repression and the use of security apparatus,” said
Mangongera. “In most cases the police is used and at times the military when
it is necessary to do so especially during elections.”

Mangongera said the problem could be that there has not been leadership
transformation in the two countries.

Apart from the excellent relations between the two and their “autocratic
leadership”, they adopted almost similar policies.

In 1991, Mubarak embarked on economic reforms prescribed by the
International Monetary Fund and this was undertaken a year after Zimbabwe
embarked on the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme (ESAP).

Just like with ESAP, the economic reforms in Egypt saw a jump in gross
domestic product per capita based  on purchase power parity –– a comparison
of the standard of living between countries by taking into account the
impact of their exchange rates.

However, an increase in the GDP per capita based on purchase power parity
was not matched with political reforms as Mubarak continued governing the
country like a monarch and his National Democratic Party controlled all of
the 454 seats in the assembly.

Until a 2005 constitutional amendment, Mubarak was the only presidential
candidate in referendums which were held every six years to approve his
candidature for the top post.  Mubarak won by 87% in the first multi-party
elections held in September 2005 and the losing candidate Ayman Nour of the
El-Ghad Party was subsequently arrested on phony forgery charges.

While the Zimbabwe constitution did not debar presidential aspirants, there
were times when Mugabe stood unopposed after candidates withdrew from the
1996 presidential polls and the June 2008 presidential election runoff.

In 1996, Zanu Ndonga president Ndabaningi Sithole and Zimbabwe Rhodesia
Prime Minister Abel Muzorewa withdrew shortly before the election, though
their names remained on the ballot.

Sithole, who was under virtual house arrest due to charges of attempting to
assassinate Mugabe, withdrew after claiming that Mugabe’s Zanu PF was
undermining his campaign, whilst Muzorewa pulled out after the Supreme Court
turned down his bid to postpone the elections on the basis that the
electoral rules were unfair.

While, MDC-T president Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew from the presidential
run-off citing violence and intimidation during that period which MDC-T says
its lost more than 200 of its supporters while thousands others were
assaulted and maimed.

Like Mugabe, who persecuted his opponents by arresting them as he did with
Sithole and Tsvangirai who were charged with treason, Mubarak arrested Nour
in January 2005 and charged him with forging Powers of Attorney to secure
the formation of the El-Ghad party.

After a strong intervention from European parliamentarians, Nour was freed
in March 2005 and began campaigning for the Egyptian presidency. However, on
December 24 2005, he was sentenced to five years in jail and was released in
February 2009 on health grounds.

Unlike his Zimbabwean counterpart who has refused to deal the succession
issue, Mubarak, sensing growing frustration over his rule, had started
grooming his son Gamal to take over from him.

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Zim’s statistical data fails to add up

Friday, 25 February 2011 09:07

Leonard Makombe

THEY say “figures do not lie,” but in Zimbabwe statistical data is of
limited use as it is either unavailable or antiquated making it practically
impossible to measure social, economic and demographic activities taking
place in the country.

Anyone interested in getting statistics in Zimbabwe is naturally directed to
various government departments — particularly the Zimbabwe National
Statistical Agency (Zimstat), the main source of official statistics in

Zimstat, without a substantive director for close to six years, is mandated
to play a co-ordination and supervisory role within the National Statistical
System, but logging onto their website gives one the impression that
statistics do not matter in Zimbabwe.

Figures are outdated with the unemployment rate said to be at 9,3% when it
is now estimated to be at 90%, while literacy rates are at 90,5% “as at

It is almost impossible to ascertain simple statistics like the total number
of pupils leaving schools each year and how many of those get employed

This is surprising in this “information age” where all necessary data should
be readily  accessible but in Zimbabwe the only available figures are
useless, outdated or both — you mainly get data collected during the time
when the country’s statistical office was still reliable in the 1990s.

The net effect of the archaic enumeration system has been a total failure to
statistically account for what is produced, mined, sold, imported or
exported by the country.

As Tony Hawkins, a lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe Graduate School of
Management, said during a presentation two weeks ago that a substantial —
unknown — proportion of consumption spending is funded offshore.

Zimbabwe is grappling in the dark trying to quantify the amount repatriated
by its citizens living abroad.

Other countries are able to enumerate almost everything including minute
details such as the number of buttons sold during a given period but
Zimbabwe has failed to give details on how much diamond has been mined and
sold so far, leading to the recent fight between Finance Minister Tendai
Biti and Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation (ZMDC) .

Biti last week ordered an audit of diamond sales revenues. He said figures
on his desk indicated Treasury had so far got $62,1 million, while ZMDC and
the Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe indicated that he had
received $174,2 million.

Marange’s alluvial diamonds were expected to boost the country’s economic
revival but a failure to enumerate what is taking place could be a pointer
to massive leakages.

Diamonds are not the only precious stones lacking accountability. The same
can be said about gold and platinum production.

One has to muddle through other social, economic and demographical
information to come up with some data on Zimbabwe. While Zimstat has failed
on its mandate to collect data, other bodies such as local authorities are
equally inadequate as they are unable to give figures on houses constructed
or hospital admissions during a given period.

Investors could be impatient and may not be able to piece together the data
scattered across several offices in different departments and this could
prove costly to the country’s intention to attract investment.

Businessperson and past president of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of
Commerce Luxon Zembe said: “One of our biggest challenges is lack of
accurate, up to date and sufficient data.”

Zembe said knowing who was producing what and in what quantities would give
both local and international investors pointers on how much they could pour
in and be expected to get as returns.

He said in the absence of figures on how much the country consumes, it was
difficult for investors and policy makers to plan.

This basic information, John Robertson, a business consultant said was
important in decision making by local authorities and central government.

Robertson said it was difficult to establish, for example, the vehicle
population in the country yet it was important for road network development.

“An increase in traffic requires a decision to reduce congestion maybe
through road dualisation,” said Robertson.

He said the policy makers would make better decisions if they used correct

“If you guess the numbers, you are not going to achieve what you want,” said

Using the rule of the thumb in policy making and implementation comes at a
cost as figures are regularly revised leaving planners wondering where they
are going.

This was the case with tobacco production last season which was initially
projected at 77 000 000 kgs only to be revised upwards by 16 000 000 kgs.

Just when market watchers thought that was the final figure, tobacco figures
were further revised upwards to 115 000 000 kgs and by the time the season
closed, 123 000 000 kgs had been auctioned.

Analysts said players in various sectors were also to blame as they had a
culture of not taking part in data collection or data compilation.

“They do not attach value to data collection,” Zembe said suggesting that
legislation be passed to compel companies to release data. Zembe suggested
that legislation be passed compelling all businesses to fall under a
representative body which could be used for data collection.

In the absence of clear and reliable data, the country remains susceptible
to manipulation by business, prejudicing government of revenue. Government
planning is also heavily inhibited by abject failure to have reliable ways
of enumerating and quantifying all economic, social and demographic

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Zanu PF ‘steps up aggression ahead of polls’

Friday, 25 February 2011 08:27

Paidamoyo Muzulu

THE country has witnessed an upsurge in the number of senior MDC-T members,
including legislators, being prosecuted since President Robert Mugabe
announced that elections will be held this year with or without a new
constitution, analysts said this week.

The analysts interviewed by Zimbabwe Independent argue that Zanu PF has
since Independence persecuted its opponents by arresting and detaining them,
with the highest number of detentions occurring since 1999 when the MDC-T
was formed.

MDC-T legislators — Douglas Mwonzora, Rodger Tazviona and Nelson Chamisa —
have been arrested or arraigned before the courts in February facing
different charges.

The pattern, analysts believe, shows a trend of politically related
persecutions of Zanu PF opponents reminiscent of the 2000 era when many MDC
supporters and political activists were arrested and detained on charges,
which in most cases fell away before plea.

Crisis Coalition in Zimbabwe chairman Jonah Gokova said the premature
election calls by Zanu PF triggered the arrests.

“Everything happening in the country now has everything to do with the
premature call for elections,” Gokova said. “We are worried that politicians
are talking of elections even before the guarantors of the GPA have given
the go ahead for polls.”

Zanu PF leadership has expressed its intent to have elections this year,
ending the lifespan of the inclusive government formed in February 2009.

Media Centre director and political analyst Ernest Mudzengi said the
election fever has contributed to the arrests the country is witnessing.

 “The arrests are connected to the election call,” Mudzengi said, “More so,
it has to do with Zanu PF’s wish to hang on to power by whatever means.”

Since the inauguration of the inclusive government, more than 13 sitting
legislators from the MDC-T have been arrested on various charges that range
from denigrating and belittling the office of the President to politically
motivated violence and rape charges.

Among those arrested and arraigned before the courts since the formation of
the inclusive government are Tendai Biti, Blessing Chebundo, Lynnette
Karenyi, Iain Kay, Tongai Matutu, Mathias Mlambo, Pishai Muchauraya, Shuah
Mudiwa, Roy Bennett and Morgan Komichi.

The MDC-T said the arrests show that the police force is partisan and is
used to harass Zanu PF opponents every time there is talk of an election.

It said in a statement the arrests were political and intended to frustrate
it especially now when Zanu PF is pushing for an early election. They argued
that if the police were not partisan why then were Zanu PF supporters not
arrested at all for violence.

“What we find strange is that it is only members from the MDC who are being
arrested when it is very clear that it is Zanu PF that are perpetrating
political violence,” the MDC-T information department said, “Last week,
Honourable (Douglas) Mwonzora held a well attended rally in his constituency
but Zanu PF hooligans who were clearly annoyed by the high turnout of the
rally attacked MDC members at the meeting.”

The police, however, denied the allegations and maintained that they are
professional in discharging their duties.

Police chief spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Wayne Bvudzijena
dismissed the MDC-T allegations that the police were a willing tool for Zanu
PF as no arrests have been made to date.

“It is a reality on the ground and if somebody commits a crime they would be
arrested,” Bvudzijena said, “If it is for Mwonzora and Tazviona they are now
both before the courts and we believe we have a strong case against them.”

Tazviona is facing charges of inciting and committing acts of violence in
the company of MDC-T activists in Kwekwe.

MDC-T, however maintained that the police are partisan and have gone on to
introduce a motion in the Senate that calls for the police to do their
duties professionally, impartially and only in accordance with the laws and

The motion was moved by Senator Morgan Komichi after demonstrations by
suspected Zanu PF- aligned youths in Harare’s central business district.

After the police-sanctioned demonstrations by Zanu PF youths that rampaged
through Harare’s central business district, no arrests have been made yet.
The youths ransacked foreign owned shops at the Gulf complex and looted
goods and merchandise in the name of indigenisation.

 Police said the ransacking that took place at Gulf Complex was not done by
a Zanu PF-aligned youth group, Upfumi Kuvadiki that had organised the

“Police approached the youth group leadership to call off the demonstration
and they complied,” Bvudzijena said, “The looters were from other groups and
thus we cannot hold Upfumi Kuvadiki leadership responsible for the mayhem.”

Upfumi Kuvadiki secretary general Tatenda Maroodza said their planned
demonstration was called off after they were advised by the police. He said
the violence in town had nothing to do with them.

“Yes, we called for a demonstration but as we waited for a police escort we
then heard that another group had started ransacking the Gulf Complex,”
Maroodza said, “Our demonstration never took off after we complied with the
police order to halt it in view of what was happening in the city centre.” 

“Other opposition political parties in the country have had no members
arrested for violence because they are not violent. Look at MDC-M, Mavambo
or Zapu.”

The MDC-T said the state, seemingly in partnership with the police and
judiciary, have perpetuated this perception of partisanship by denying MDC-T
members freedom after they are granted bail by the courts.

Tazviona and Mwonzora were granted bail earlier this week by magistrates in
Kwekwe and Nyanga respectively but the state invoked Section 121 that allows
persons granted bail to be further detained for up to 21 days as police
continue with their investigations.

 On the other hand, Chamisa was arraigned before the courts this week on
charges of negligent driving, which he allegedly committed in January 2009.
Chamisa’s lawyer, Chris Mhike, said the developments could not be
interpreted otherwise except that they are political.

“Judging by the manner the papers were furnished in the state outline, this
is a rushed prosecution,” Mhike said, “This is just an act of politics where
they are after MDC people so they can persecute them.”

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Loyalists rain praises on Mugabe’s 87th birthday

Friday, 25 February 2011 08:14

Stewart Chabwinja/Chris Muronzi

FRESH from a trip to Singapore where he had gone for medical treatment,
President Robert Mugabe this week blew out several candles to mark his 87th

He was looking rather subdued when he appeared on state television on Monday
receiving gifts from staff in his office. As usual, a big birthday bash is
slated for tomorrow, which should lift his spirits if indeed he was feeling
a little under the weather.

A day before his birthday, supporters in the political violence hotbed of
Mbare allegedly forced traders to attend a rally to mark Mugabe’s birthday,
while party loyalists and mainly state enterprises sent the customary
gushing congratulatory messages to newspapers and broadcast media.

The state broadcaster, ZBH, led the way with songs and messages in praise of
the “great leader” — the tributes taking up a sizable chunk of airtime.

A man who was interviewed on one of the programmes last Saturday and who
claimed to be from the 21st February Movement had this to say:

“Zimbabwe is blessed and Africa is proud to have President Mugabe. Not like
other leaders like the Italian Prime Minister (Silvio Berlusconi), who has
been fidgeting (sic) with teenage girls… Or Idi Amin who stole most of his
country’s wealth…President Mugabe is a philanthropist.”

Berlusconi is due to stand trial not on charges of “fidgeting with teenage
girls”, but for allegedly paying for sex with an underage girl and abuse of

Maybe the clincher came from a member of the War Collaborators Association
on the same day. His eulogy will take a lot to beat. “I only wish President
Mugabe could be born again,” he said, “and start leading the country at 10
or 15 years old so that he can defeat sanctions and silence his detractors!”

Traditional loyalists — cabinet ministers, senior civil servants and
parastatals — splash scarce money on big colour adverts mainly in the state
media, in which they glorified the president using superlatives. As
expected, it was game on last week.

Mugabe’s chief secretary, Misheck Sibanda, who last year praised the aging
leader for having “telescopic foresight,” said Mugabe had “visionary

In an advert in a state daily, Sibanda said: “Through his visionary
stewardship, the nation has remained strong in defence of its sovereignty
and independence, despite numerous challenges.

“His endurance, commitment to the ideals of national unity and peace has
helped engender an environment conducive for robust economic growth and

He added that: “Indeed through his principled leadership and commitment to
broad-based empowerment, the aspirations of the historically disadvantaged
indigenous majority to control the levers of the country’s economy are
steadily becoming a reality.”

“As we celebrate the 87th anniversary of the birth of this legendary icon,
we continue to draw inspiration from his selfless dedication in rendering
service to the nation and the peoples of Africa. May the lord Almighty
continue to shower him with more blessings.”

The National Indigenisation and Economic Empowerment Board chairman David
Chapfika extolled: “…. We therefore wish the country’s beacon many years of
good health and continued wise leadership.”

Justice and Legal Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa wrote: “Indeed, the
ministry continues to be inspired and guided by His Excellency’s illustrious
and visionary leadership. We wish you many more!”

But the president’s birthday story would not be complete without Absolom
Sikhosana, the Zanu PF youth secretary under whom the 21st February Movement
falls. Sikhosana hibernates for most of the year, only to emerge and enjoy
considerable state media attention when the president’s birthday is just
around the corner.

The 21st February Movement was established in 1986 “as a welfare
organisation for youths and as a medium to inspire youths to be well behaved
through emulating the exemplary character of their patron, President Mugabe”,
the  organisation claims.

Addressing journalists at the Zanu PF headquarters, Sikhosana was quoted as
saying private media reports that they (21st February Movement) were begging
for money were unfounded.

Either Sikhosana was just not telling the truth, or someone forgot to tell
him that his movement was regularly flighting an advert soliciting for funds
towards the president’s birthday bash. For good measure the advert gave the
account number where donors could deposit their money, and even thanked
would-be donors in advance for contributing to a worthy cause.

And as is customary, the state media published a 12-page supplement carrying
no less than 50 pictures of the president, in which mostly state
institutions praised Mugabe in glowing and all-too-predictable terms.

It carried stories pointing out that the nation’s “born-frees” were forever
indebted to the president as “children of all ages are able to hold their
heads high in any place in the world”.

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‘PM must rein in Gorden Moyo’

Friday, 25 February 2011 07:57

Nqobile Bhebhe

MDC-T Bulawayo province, which is rocked by factionalism ahead of its
elective congress in May, wants party leader Morgan Tsvangirai to order
State Enterprises minister Gorden Moyo to stop campaigning for the
provincial chairman’s post because he is not eligible to contest in party

In an interview with Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday, MDC-T provincial
information and publicity secretary Felix Magalela Mafa said Moyo only
bought his party membership card two months ago, which disqualified him from
contesting the elections.

According to the party requirements, eligible candidates should have been
members for at least two years.

He said the provincial leadership resolved last week to talk to Tsvangirai
to “rein in on minister Gorden Moyo who is causing havoc” in the province.

Mafa said the provincial leadership accused Moyo, whom they said was causing
friction within the party, of “wily nily violating protocol by causing the
arrest of party members who oppose him”.

Last week, Sibonisiwe Nyoni ,  Sikhangezile Sibanda and Sanani Sibanda
appeared in a Bulawayo Magistrates’ Court after spending four days in police
custody for allegedly threatening a party member, Caphina Maseko  (52). They
were charged with contravening Section 45 (b) of the Criminal Law
(Codification and Reform) Act and were remanded out of custody.

Mafa said: “It’s true that Moyo is eyeing the chairmanship, but as per our
constitution he does not qualify. As recent as two months ago, he bought a
party card making him a member. But his actions of late, that of causing the
arrest of party members opposed to him, is shocking.

“Possibly next week, we will send representatives to Tsvangirai to explain
the havoc that Moyo is causing in the party.”

Moyo has continuously refused to comment on the issue arguing that it was
party business.

According to Mafa, many in MDC-T in Bulawayo view Moyo as a “hired hand” by
Tsvangirai, who was now trying to hijack the province through the Bulawayo
Progressive Residents Association - an arm of Bulawayo Agenda.

Moyo is the former chairman of Bulawayo Agenda, a pro-democracy group based
in Matabeleland.

While a source in the provincial executive said: “There is a strong feeling
in the province that Moyo is less qualified for the post and they base this
on  requirements under the party’s electoral guidelines that says someone
should be a  member of the party for at least two years.

“Such incidents would only get worse towards congress and both camps are so
determined to land the post at any cost.”

Agnes Mloyi is the current provincial chairperson and his deputy, Mzilikazi
senator Matson Hlalo confirmed on Wednesday that he wanted the post but
“only when nominated by the people”.

“It’s not part of our protocol to tip yourself to any post. But when members
express their desire to elect me to chairmanship I would not turn them
 down,” said Hlalo.

In January, MDC-T Youth Assembly said ministers invited by Tsvangirai to the
party are “welcome but they should not take advantage of their invitation by
the party to usurp powers in the party”.

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Treasury will not pay for RBZ car bill –– Biti

Friday, 25 February 2011 07:45

Paidamoyo Muzulu

FINANCE minister Tendai Biti says he will not pay over US$300 million to the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for vehicles “allegedly” acquired for the
state between 2007 and 2008.

Biti told the parliamentary portfolio committee on public accounts last week
that there was no legal paper trail of the vehicles’ acquisition or
documents showing who asked the central bank to purchase them.

“Treasury will not pay the RBZ the over $300 million till we have
clarifications of who contracted them to purchase the vehicles,” Biti said.
“They also have to show where did the vehicles come from, where they were
registered and if they had paid duty to the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority
(Zimra). No debt should be contracted without parliamentary approval as set
out by Section 115 of the constitution.”

The central bank had in the past dabbled in quasi-fiscal activities, playing
the role of the treasury in allocating resources to government ministries
and departments. Such actions were only brought to a halt by the enactment
of the RBZ Amendment Act last year.

The amendment steered through parliament by Biti, among other things,
restricted the central bank to its core business of crafting monetary
policy, regulating and supervising of banks and other financial
institutions. More importantly, all resource allocation was made a sole
preserve of the treasury.

Biti added that the treasury did not have records to show how many cars were
received by the state and how they were distributed.

“Government has systems and we do not have records of the vehicles,” the
minister said. “The Central Mechanical Equipment Department (CMED) should be
able to say what happened to the cars and who was issued what.”

The minister said he was surprised that the Information and Publicity
ministry received most of the vehicles, yet most of the ministry’s
activities were “desk room operations”.

Biti said reforms at the central bank would continue and treasury was
looking at ways to retire the over US$1,1 billion debt the bank owed to
various creditors, among them foreign banks, non-governmental organisations,
exporters and foreign countries.

The bank used the money for farm mechanisation programmes, purchase of
vehicles and lent out to depressed companies during the hyperinflationary
era. Individual foreign current accounts and those of NGOs were liquidated
arbitrarily to save critical government projects.

“We are going to create a special purpose vehicle (SPV) to deal with the
central bank’s debts,” he said. “Some of the debt is sovereign debt like to
Malawi (US$20 million), African Development Bank (US$55 million), PTA (US$50
million) and China (US$25 million).”

Biti added that the treasury will appoint a trustee to administer the debt
and disposal of all quasi-fiscal assets owned by the bank. Revenue realised
from the sales would be used to pay creditors a dividend per dollar owed.

RBZ’s activities have been severely constrained since dollarisation of the
economy and the bank needs capital injection form the shareholder,
government. Last year, the bank was given $7 million dollars so that it can
resume its duties as a lender of last resort.

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Debt stalls Batoka station construction

Friday, 25 February 2011 07:36

Paidamoyo Muzulu

CONSTRUCTION of the Batoka hydro-power station, with a potential to generate
in excess of 3 000 megawatts daily, has stalled because Zimbabwe is failing
to settle a US$260 000 000  debt it owes Zambia for the shared Kariba
infrastructure the country inherited at Independence.

“The ultimate solution to our power energy lies in the construction of
Batoka, which will generate something between 2 500 to 3 000 megawatts,”
Biti said in a ministerial statement to parliament. “We, however, have
serious disputes with the Zambian government.”

The minister explained that the dispute revolved around an unpaid debt for
infrastructure that Zimbabwe inherited at independence from the Central
African Power Corporation (Capco) during the federation era.

Most of the physical infrastructure of Capco was located within Southern

“When this company split in 1980, we had to compensate the Zambians for the
infrastructure that was on the Zimbabwean side,” Biti said. “So, we owe
Zambia about US$260 million, which they are saying we must pay first before
they can allow us to construct.”

The issue is being handled politically and efforts to compensate the
Zambians in kind have not yielded any positive results.

“We have tried to persuade them and ask them to give us the go-ahead so that
we find money for Batoka, then we give them for free a proportionate and
pro-rata energy which is equal to the debt,” the minister explained.
“Unfortunately, as honourable members would know, the issue has become very
political as the Zambians think that Northern Rhodesia developed Southern
Rhodesia, so Southern Rhodesia should pay more. The issue has become

Investment in Zimbabwe has been subdued in the last decade as Zesa has
failed to provide uninterrupted power supplies to industries and
manufacturers. The electricity authority sometimes switches off consumers
for up to 12 hours in their haphazard load-shedding schedules.

All the power stations in the country, including Kariba, Hwange, Munyati and
Bulawayo, are generating slightly above 50% of their capacity. The country
has to rely on imports from South Africa, Mozambique and the Democratic
Republic of Congo. The power plants are producing about 1 300 megawatts a
day against a daily demand of above 2 000 megawatts.

Zesa has debts close to a billion dollars owed to different power companies
that supplied power on credit in the past.

Essar Holding from India are said to be interested in refurbishing and
developing Hwange Power Station phase 7 and 8. The company is also
negotiating with the government to buy a 54% stake in Ziscosteel.

“Essar has expressed an interest in refurbishing Hwange. This would help the
country along,” Biti said, “Negotiations will start soon.”

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Noczim to retrench 106 employees

Friday, 25 February 2011 07:35

Paul Nyakazeya

THE National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (Noczim) this month embarked on a
restructuring exercise which will result in 106 out of 379 employees being

Energy minister Elton Mangoma told journalists in the capital yesterday that
the restructuring followed cabinet’s approval for the re-organisation of
Noczim into two firms, one for trading and the other for infrastructure.

“Negotiations on the retrenchments are going on and expected to be resolved
by Monday,” Mangoma said.

The restructuring of Noczim into two companies was done on December 31 last
year and the firms started operating on January 1.

The companies have the same board members, Justin Mupamhanga (the Energy
ministry permanent secretary), Morgan Mudzinganyama (Director Petroleum) and
Ndomupei Chikonye (Director Power).

“The two new companies are being given a fresh start and a break from
mismanagement and fraudulent activities at Noczim. Substantive boards will
be put in place as soon as consultations are completed,” Mangoma said.

He said his ministry was working on building confidence in fuel suppliers to
store their petroleum products in Zimbabwe.

“The country has over 500 000 000 litres of storage facilities which are
more than double that of Beira,” he said.

He said a forensic audit conducted by Ernst & Young on Noczim revealed that
its management had committed fraud, taken third party stocks, misrepresented
facts regarding amounts due to Zimra, failed to account for strategic
reserves and debt redemption levies.

Mangoma exonerated himself from the recent corruption linked to fuel
shortages and at Zesa Holdings saying: “I am particularly allergic to
corruption, greed and patronage. Zesa will be purified. Noczim will be
sorted out. The Rural Electrification Agency (Rea) will be distilled. The
guilty are afraid and no amount of noise and vilification by corrupt forces
will stand in my way in pursuit of excellence and delivery for real change.”

He said a senior official at Rea had unprocedurally authorised three members
of management to get US$656 000 as housing loans on 3% interest over 17

“This amount was not part of the budget and therefore should not have been
paid. This is a corrupt practice,” said Mangoma.

He said Zesa needed viable tariffs to not only stabilise the current power
supply, but to invest in new capacity.

“Zesa has come up with a proposed tariff which I have put on hold whilst the
necessary consultative processes are being carried out,” he said.

There has been no investment in new power generation since the commissioning
of Hwange Power Station units 5 and 6 in 1984.

There has also been no meaningful repairs and maintenance to both the
generation plant and transmission.

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GPA implementation first before polls –– MDCs

Friday, 25 February 2011 07:32

Faith Zaba/Brian Chitemba/Paidamoyo Muzulu

THE two MDC formations yesterday told South African President Jacob Zuma’s
facilitation team that the Global Political Agreement (GPA) should be fully
implemented first  before fresh elections are held to ensure intimidation
and violence-free polls.

Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC and smaller MDC formation led by Welshman Ncube and
the Joint Monitoring and Implementation Committee (Jomic) met separately
with Zuma’s facilitation team.

A Jomic member who declined to be named said Zuma’s facilitation team said
they were concerned about the sluggish approach in implementing the GPA’s
outstanding issues.

“The facilitation team is keen on seeing improvement in interaction among
parties to the GPA,” the Jomic member said. “They want the GPA to be
implemented fully and urgently.”

MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa told the Zimbabwe Independent after a
two-hour meeting with  former cabinet ministers Charles Nqakula, Mac Maharaj
and South African ambassador to Zimbabwe Mlungisi Makhalima yesterday that
they demanded some guarantee from Zuma’s team that the process of drafting
the roadmap to elections would not be “another talk-shop and futile

The facilitation team is in Zimbabwe gathering information regarding the
elections roadmap.

“The roadmap must be an agreed document,” Chamisa said. “But we made it
clear that the GPA must be implemented to the full first before we can have
elections in Zimbabwe. Non fulfillment of the GPA undermines the roadmap to
elections. The GPA is a prescription to a free and fair and violence-free
election,” said Chamisa, who attended the meeting with MDC-T negotiator
Elton Mangoma.

MDC-T has 21 minimum conditions for a free and fair election which they
presented and these include drafting a new constitution, guaranteeing the
security of people, an end to violence, the introduction of a biometric
voters’ roll, a transparent and impartial delimitation process, full audit
of electoral processes, Sadc monitors six months before and six months after
the elections and security sector reforms and its realignment to prevent
political abuse by the military, intelligence agencies and youth militia.

It also wants media freedoms, prevention of Zanu PF abuse of state
resources, in particular diamonds in Chiadzwa, and an impartial and
professional Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.

MDC-N secretary-general Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga and Deputy Minister
of Foreign Affairs Moses Mzila-Ndlovu met the South African facilitation
team on Wednesday and made it clear that the full implementation of the GPA
was paramount to ensure a credible, free and fair election.

“We told the team that the outstanding 23 GPA agreed points should be
implemented first before any fresh elections,” Mushonga said. “We also
proposed that a team be set up to come up with a road map that would be
forwarded to facilitators and Sadc, the guarantors of the agreement.”
Some of the outstanding issues include media reforms, deregulation of
broadcasting, operationalising the Human Rights Commission, electoral
reforms, security sector reforms and constitutional reforms.

Sources close to the meetings said the facilitation team told them that
conducting free and fair elections was Sadc’s mandate and they would not
support anything short of a credible and undisputed poll.

“They were very clear – they told us frankly that Zimbabwe’s instability was
a threat to the region and they would want to make sure that elections are
free and fair and they would not accept anything less. They also told us
that we are destroying our own country and economy through violence that
erupted in recent months and they want it to stop,” the source said.

“We asked them for a reassurance to ensure that this whole exercise is not a
futile one where we agree on a roadmap and Zanu PF refuses to implement.
They told us that it will be implemented without any doubt, but they couldn’t
tell us how they will make sure Zanu PF implements the GPA and roadmap.”

Sources who attended the meeting with Jomic said Zuma’s facilitation team
said Zimbabwe was not ready for elections this year due to several critical
electoral and democratic reforms that needed to be implemented first.

The team –– led by Zuma’ international affairs advisor Lindiwe Zulu,
insisted that elections were not feasible this year.

Co-Jomic chairperson Mangoma confirmed that Zulu and her team agreed that
the roadmap for elections could not be fully implemented this year.
He said Zuma’s facilitation team said there was an urgent need for reforming
state institutions such as the army and the ZEC to make them non-partisan to
avoid officials tilting poll results in favour of certain political parties.

“The facilitation team was clear that it was impossible for Zimbabweans to
go for elections this year given that we need a new constitution, reforming
State institutions and establish laws that give power to institutions like
the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission,” said Mangoma.

Last week, Zulu said Zuma was concerned about the wave of political violence
gripping Zimbabwe, adding the current political climate was not conducive
for free and free elections. Mangoma said Zulu and her team said they feared
a repeat of the 2008 orgy of politically-motivated violence if critical
reforms were not put in place.

He said Jomic and the South African facilitation team agreed that a voters’
roll was in shambles and needed an overhaul. Earlier this year, it emerged
that the voters’ roll was shambolic with babies and the dead appearing on
the register.

Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa has said US$20 million is required for a
new voters’ roll. President Robert Mugabe has reiterated that he wants
elections this year with or without a new constitution and has once
threatened that he would dissolve parliament and call for elections.

Zanu PF has already launched its campaign across the country code-named
“Operation Ngatizivane”.

“The facilitators want to see the crucial reforms implemented before
elections and as Jomic we support that,” said Mangoma.

Zanu PF met Zuma’s facilitation team, but the Independent could not get
details of the deliberations at the time of going to press last night as the
party’s negotiators Nicholas Goche and Patrick Chinamasa were not answering
their mobile phones.

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Govt must consult on Bippas –– ZNCC

Friday, 25 February 2011 10:37

Tendai Zhanje

THE Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce (ZNCC) says government needs to
consult before signing Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection
Agreements (Bippa).
Economist and ZNCC member Brains Muchemwa was speaking before a
Parliamentary Portfolio Committee for Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration
and International Trade on Tuesday.

“In as much as the government consults business, it doesn’t take it to the
consultation tables with other countries,” said Muchemwa.

Meanwhile, the Bippa between Zimbabwe and Botswana was signed on Wednesday,
a day after ZNCC had complained at the meeting with the portfolio committee
over lack of progress on signing the agreement.

Muchemwa said the signing of the Bippa would ease the burden on both
business and the country to access credit.  Zimbabwe has not been able to
access lines of credit from the traditional creditors, World Bank and is
also struggling to get Foreign Direct Investment.

“We had hoped that the Bippa would make it easier for business to access
lines of credit that could come handy as Zimbabwe is failing to get it and
banks are giving expensive short term credit,” said Muchemwa.

Committee chairman, Tapera Mukanduri, said that there was nothing much his
committee could do as some of the matters raised by ZNCC were the
responsibility of committees to do with finance.

“You can give us your questions and we will put them across to other
ministers and raise them in parliament, because Bippas don’t fall under our
jurisdiction and lines of credit falls under the committee that deals with
Finance and the Ministry of Industry and Commerce,” said Mukanduri

ZNCC also raised concern over the influx of genetically modified products on
the Zimbabwean market, a development that has seen the market flooded with
cheap products.

“Local producers are not allowed to use GMOs. These GMO products are causing
a competitive challenge on our local producers as they are unable to produce
as much as the foreign companies who produce bulk in such a short time,”
said Muchemwa. “The domestic manufacturing sector may also be wiped out
because of these GMOs since we don’t have the technology and expertise to

He called on the Standards Association of Zimbabwe to adequately certify
goods that enter the country especially sensitive products that deal with
mass consumption.

“SAZ is not well capacitated to deal with issues of standards and quality
control.  Its role has to be redefined in a manner to regulate standards of
what comes into the country,” said Muchemwa.  He called on the government to
make sure that SAZ controls all the products that enter the country through
border posts.

“SAZ should evaluate the quality of foreign products and how they are making
their way into Zimbabwe,” said Muchemwa.

Mukanduri said that SAZ falls under other portfolio committees but added,
“SAZ will not have the capacity to man all the border posts.”

He assured ZNCC that their queries will be tabled in Parliament.

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Sanctions: Will business take cue from Zanu PF?

Friday, 25 February 2011 10:29

Chris Muronzi

BARELY a month after Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa threatened foreign
owned companies who did not castigate the imposition of sanctions on Zanu Pf
officials and family members, TA boss Shingi Mutasa’s remarks appeared in

And strangely so.

Mnangagwa gave foreign businesspeople  few choices; castigate sanctions or
lose shareholding, a whole lot of it.

Analysts discounted the threat as a desperate bid to have President Robert
Mugabe and party heavyweights removed from United States and European
imposed sanctions.

“We will ask them if they support sanctions or not,” Mnangagwa said. “Those
who indicate that they do not support sanctions will be asked to go live on
national radio and tell the nation and the rest of the world their company
does not support sanctions.”

The money realised from the 90% share takeovers would go into a new
“anti-sanctions fund”, Mnangagwa said.

The fund would be used to finance a campaign against restrictive measures
and “all foreign companies operating in the country (would be) compelled to
assist,” he said.

While many could have dismissed it as mere talk then, Mutasa’s comments two
weeks ago could just be the beginning of a long list of corporate leaders
coming out against sanctions.

His comments met Mnangagwa’s dictates; it has to be public and the message

And Mutasa’s remarks were just that: public and clear.

“The sanctions issue is very real. It’s not a fake issue, it is real. I
personally think that the issue of sanctions is wrong. We shouldn’t be
having sanctions in this country. It’s something that is an issue,” Mutasa

This, analysts say could see corporate leaders parroting Zanu PF’s line in
order to keep their business, if Mnangagwa’s threats are anything to go by.
But Mutasa’s circumstances are a bit different.

He said Masawara plc –– which holds a 40% stake in Joina City and 30% in
diversified concern TA Holdings –– nearly failed to list on the Alternative
Investment Market (AIM) of the LSE and lost a key investor after a company
linked to him was accused of holding shares in a formerly blacklisted local

Masawara, an investment company, eventually undertook an IPO last August
raising US$25 million after legally defending the allegations.
But the point had been made; sanctions are not cool for business.

It was not all parroting.

He told delagates that Zimbabwe had tight exchange control measures in
Zimbabwe that could frustrate companies seeking capital abroad.

Official figures put the number of white and foreign-owned companies still
operating in the country at around 500. Mnangagwa’s comments came after
Mugabe warned European companies with operations in the country could face
takeover unless sanctions were removed.

“We have been far too good for malicious people for countries which seek to
destroy us,” Mugabe told a Zanu PF annual meeting last year. “Why should we
continue to have 400 British companies here operating freely with Britain
benefiting from us?

Zanu PF views sanctions as punishment for its land reform policies.

The party claims sanctions are at the centre of economic problems that
characterised the economy in the last decade.

Western countries say sanctions target only senior government and Zanu PF
officials accused of rights abuses as well as those stifling democracy and
the rule of law.

Zanu PF has also accused its partners in the unity government –– MDC-T— of
not doing enough to have sanctions removed.

Analysts say the latest push to involve the corporate world in its sanctions
fight is mainly meant to target European companies in the country, for long
the target of takeover under indegenisation and empowerment regulations
gazetted last year.

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Manufacturing sector poised for growth

Friday, 25 February 2011 10:26

Bernard Mpofu

ZIMBABWE’S manufacturing sector is poised for growth on the back of a
firming South African Rand which is expected to subdue demand for imports
despite driving year-on-year inflation, an independent research has shown.
A report compiled by Renaissance Capital projects prices for basic
commodities predominantly imported from South Africa will rise this year.
The investment firm expects the Rand to trade at ZAR7,00/US$1 from an
average of ZAR7,30/US$1.

Zimbabwe’s imports from South Africa according to ZimTrade — the country’s
trade development and promotion organisation — grew by 53% between 2005 and
2009 during a command-type economy which accelerated economic decline and
company closures.

SA imports, official figures show, rose to US$2 billion in 2009, accounting
for 60% of Zimbabwe’s imports.

The manufacturing sector, currently operating at an average of 45% capacity
owing to limited capital inflows and high operating costs, last year grew by
2,7%, a distant third from agriculture and mining which averaged 30%.

Household consumption expenditure, according to the report,  will soar
driven by “a sizeable wage hike for civil servants”, an increase in foreign
exchange remittances from Zimbabweans living abroad and a recovery in
consumer finance.

These developments, Renaissance Capital further said, would ease the
liquidity problems facing the economy, which Finance minister Tendai Biti
expects to grow by double digit figures by year end.

Treasury last year announced that the public sector, accounting for 250 000
of the country’s workforce, would this year have a 40% increase on its wage
bill, a figure much lower than government workers expectations.

The downside of the firming Rand according to Renaissance Capital would
inflate the cost of inputs and equipment.

“Although the agriculture sector has exhibited a strong recovery over the
past couple of years, this has been off a very low base. This implies that
the agriculture sector is not yet able to meet the manufacturing sector’s
requirement for inputs, so manufacturers still rely on imports,” the report

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Zisco-Essar deal hinges on subsidiaries’ disposal

Friday, 25 February 2011 10:17

Nqobile Bhebhe

INDUSTRY and Commerce minister Welshman Ncube has said the finalisation of
the deal to buy Zimbabwe Iron and Steel Company (Zisco) by India’s Essar
African Holdings now hinges on the disposal of the steel making firm’s

Ncube told businessdigest the Attorney General’s office is currently sifting
through the draft agreements. 

“The draft agreement is now with the AG’s office and they have since raised
issues which I have not been fully apprised of, for which they need
explanations,” Ncube said. “But one of the other issues is to do with the
disposal of subsidiaries which are owned by Zisco which they want us to deal
expressly with.” 

Buchwa Iron Mining Company is one of the subsidiary’s which owns and
operates several iron ore mines and limestone quarries. 

Ncube said the objections raised would impact on the finalisation of the
much-awaited deal.  

“We wanted them (AG) to finish going through the paperwork before end of
month so that we can sign the agreement soon. But it appears it would take a
bit longer,” said Ncube. 

Last week, State Enterprises Restructuring Agency (Sera) executive director
Edgar Nyoni told the State Enterprises and Parastatals Management
parliamentary portfolio committee that it would “take a little longer to tie
up the deal”.

 Nyoni said Essar representatives had since gone back to their headquarters
for further consultations. 

He said differences in evaluating how much Zisco was worth had held up
progress while Essar thought that iron ore resources were part of the deal.
Ziscosteel, once a major foreign currency earner, is the largest steel works
in the country but over the years the company has faced many operational
problems and has been dogged by corruption scandals.

Full scale operations came to a grinding halt in 2008 at the height of
Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown after the company had accumulated debts of
around US$300 million, which Essar intends to settle as part of the deal.

The Zisco/Essar deal has been on the cards since last year when the
Mauritian-based company agreed to buy 54% of the company for a reported
US$60 million. The company will also assume Zisco’s liabilities.

Essar Energy Holdings Ltd operates as a holding company which, through its
subsidiaries, engages in exploration and production, refining and retailing
of petroleum products. It is a subsidiary of Essar Global Ltd.

The company is reported to have a market capitalisation of US$10 billion and
is said to be planning a listing on the London Stock Exchange.
 Government has been looking for investors for the iron and steel company
since it disbanded a $400 million deal with Global Steel Holdings Limited of
India years back.

 This followed disagreements over operational modalities between the two

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Zimplats threatens to take Zimra to court

Friday, 25 February 2011 10:16

Taurai Mangudhla

ZIMBABWE Platinum Mines (Zimplats) management has vowed to take legal action
against the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) if it insists on a further
US$26, 9 million increase on Additional Profit Tax (APT) liability.

In a move described by Zimplats as “incorrect interpretation” of provisions
of the 22nd and 23rd Schedules of the Income Tax Act, Zimra’s audit section
reviewed the APT assessment and concluded that the deduction of income tax
assessed losses in the derivation of net cash receipts, on which APT is

The effect was that Zimplats would have to pay US$50,4 which is a further
US$26,9 million from the US$23,5 million for the period 2001 - 2007, which
the company had already paid for in full.

Zimplats CEO, Alex Mhembere, said his company would fight to the end against
the proposed move by Zimra.

“Shareholders are aware of the long drawn dispute between Zimplats and
government on whether or not Zimplats was liable for APT in view of the
written undertakings given by Government in 2001 that the company would be
exempted from the tax,” he said.

“Management and the company’s tax advisers strongly believe that Zimra’s
interpretation of the deduction provisions of the 22nd and 23rd Schedules of
the Income Tax Act is incorrect and accordingly, an objection to the amended
assessment has been lodged,” said Mhembere.

Zimplats which is 87% own by Implats was last year accused of owing
government US$260 million in taxes and penalties by Washington based, Alex
Stewart International.

Alex Stewart International was contracted by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe in
2006 to conduct an audit of the country’s mining sector.  The company has
representatives across the world in the field of operational auditing of
mining concerns and hydrocarbon producers, the certification of mineral
imports/exports, the inspection and analysis of foodstuffs, the control of
medicines and pharmaceutical products, customs revenue optimisation
services, and procurement auditing.

In a letter to the country’s Finance minister Tendai Biti, Alex Stewart
International president and CEO, Enrique Segura wrote: “During the time that
we provided services to the government of Zimbabwe we achieved the following
excellent results… we were able to identify and report to the Reserve Bank
on taxes and penalties due by Zimplats to the government, on the final,
reviewed amount (exchange of correspondence) of US$260 million.”

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‘Mineral smuggling, leakage a threat to economy’

Friday, 25 February 2011 10:13

Taurai Mangudhla

MINES and Mining Development deputy minister Gift Chimanikire blasted mining
companies for lack of accountability that has seen Zimbabwe incurring
massive economic losses.

Speaking at a meeting with small scale miners in Mazowe District on Tuesday,
Chimanikire said smuggling and leakage of minerals were a threat to the

“Whether you are talking of Mimosa, Blanket Mine or How Mine, declaration of
produce is not being done,” said Chimanikire.

Chimanikire added that minerals were not being accounted for, especially in
Marange where miners are reported to be bribing law enforcement agents to
smuggle the precious stone to neighbouring Mozambique.

“This (smuggling of diamonds to Mozambique) draws back national development.
Look at Botswana; they have managed to develop growth points into towns,” he

To counter mineral smuggling, government last year proposed a Zimbabwe
Diamond Act, meant to specifically regulate alluvial diamonds deposits in

The proposed law would not only give the state exclusive diamond rights, but
establish criteria for the selection of mining partners and set a policing
and anti-smuggling framework.

The Diamond Act, meant to forestall leakage and smuggling, comes in the wake
of revelations that Zimbabwe could have lost more than US$30 million worth
of diamonds mined in Marange as of last year.

Chimanikire said government was looking at provisions to allocate 10% of the
Marange proceeds for community development and economic empowerment.

“We want to empower our people, illegal miners should register and become
small scale miners, small scale miners should become medium scale miners and
medium scale miners should be the large scale miners,” he said.

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Global open market system crucial

Friday, 25 February 2011 09:30

By Andrew Mitchell/Vince Cable

WE live in a world where we are more connected than ever before. The United
Kingdom is linked to Zimbabwe through ties of business, friendship, and a
wealth of common interests.
These international connections offer huge potential for growth in trade and
investment, as long as markets are open and countries are able to trade
freely with one another.

The fastest growing countries tend to be those with the fewest trade
barriers.  So to realise our potential we must commit to open markets
globally.  We must not slip back into protectionism.

That is why the British government published on 9 February its Trade and
Investment White Paper: an ambitious strategy to nurture international trade
and investment relationships, strengthen the multilateral system, build up
our domestic business environment, and enable developing countries to build
their own paths to growth.

The paper demonstrates that trade and investment are critical for the UK to
achieve strong, sustainable and balanced growth in the future.

It makes the case for open markets and the dangers of protectionism,
removing trade and investment barriers and improved market access for
British business within the EU and beyond; helping to conclude the Doha
Development Round of trade talks in 2011; working to strengthen the World
Trade Organisation; supporting the early conclusion of priority EU Free
Trade Agreements; supporting trade and regional integration in Africa; and
working with G20 members towards these goals.

Our most immediate task is to finalise the Doha trade negotiations.  This
historic agreement, once signed, will boost the world economy by US$180
billion.  So we must all move quickly to make 2011 the year that the Doha
trade talks are finalised.  Momentum is building.  We will be working on
plans and roadmaps to meet this goal.

A result here will benefit us all.  Trade is not a game where some countries
win and other countries lose, quite the reverse.  We all become richer when
trade increases.  This helps people to pull themselves out of poverty.

That is why the UK is also redoubling its efforts to enable developing
countries to follow their own paths to growth through trade and investment,
and to build the capacity for this, especially in Africa.

We will do all we can to support African leaders to implement their plans
outlined in the 1991 Abuja Treaty— to develop Free Trade Areas in each
regional economic community as building blocks for a continent-wide customs
union and ultimately an African Economic Community.

We are launching an African Free Trade initiative to help break through
trade barriers like bureaucracy and prohibitive tariffs.  In Zimbabwe, we
have already helped facilitate regional trade through funding a “One Stop”
border post at Chirundu.

We will support Africans in making trade in Africa faster and easier, and
encourage African entrepreneurs to grow their businesses by opening up
access to new markets. We are pleased that trade between the UK and Zimbabwe
is increasing — in 2009, Zimbabwe’s exports to the UK were worth almost £50
million — but we want to expand this further.  However, we cannot promote
global trade alone and we call on international partners to join us in this

We also want to provide greater market access for the poorest.  The UK urges
all G20 countries to provide 100% Duty Free Quota Free Access to their
markets for least developed countries.  This could increase their exports by
over 40%.  We call on all countries to join us in pressing for this.

And all of us need to ensure all developing countries can negotiate trade
agreements, and that global trade rules reflect needs in all countries, and
not just a select few.

Finally, we want to build the networks that help us grow in partnership, and
to get behind businesses to support them in trading with the world.  British
government ministers have embarked on a programme of overseas visits with
business delegations for exactly this reason.

We have visited all partners in the major emerging markets, as well as the
US and our partners in Europe.   The business leaders that accompanied us
say that this opens a huge number of doors to them for trade and
collaboration with businesses in other countries.

Investment is the other side of the coin. The UK is an international hub for
investors and currently the world’s second biggest investor.

We welcome overseas investment.  The UK has more European headquarters than
any other country, and is one of the easiest places in the world to do
business.  We plan to remain so by cutting regulation and corporation tax.

So a big challenge is before us.  It is to keep building an open global
economy and trading system that benefits us all.  This will drive growth,
jobs, and create wealth around the world.  We are confident this is a
challenge which the UK, side by side with its international partners,
including Zimbabwe, is able to meet.

This article was written jointly by two British government ministers, Andrew
Mitchell MP, Secretary of State for International Development, and Vince
Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills and
president of the Board of Trade.

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Zanu PF’s use of violence futile

Friday, 25 February 2011 09:24

By Eddie Cross

IN 1983 I received a call from a Catholic nun who told me that she was
speaking from the district of Lupane in Matabeleland and that an army unit
was creating havoc in the district with hundreds of people injured or worse.

It was the start of Gukurahundi, a four-year campaign to crush the spirit of
the Ndebele people and wipe out Zapu as a political party. Thousands died in
the subsequent campaign, which used violence and torture, killings and mass
starvation. In 1987 the leadership of Zapu conceded and the “unity” accord
was signed and Zanu PF’s goal of eliminating this long-term rival was

I sat in my truck watching the people of Lupane vote, 20 years later, after
yet another tough and violent election campaign. Villagers walked out of the
bush from all directions and reported first to their village headmen who
were seated in the shade about 200 metres from the polling station. They
then walked down to the school, passing a large pile of 50kg bags of maize
that had been dropped there by the Grain Marketing Board five days before.
On the top of the pile was a policeman with an AK 47.

Inside the polling station were several policemen, some known CIO operatives
and in front of these the peasants had to give their names, see them checked
off the register, then collect a numbered ballot, fill it in behind a screen
and then put it into the box. They then had to go back to the headman to
confirm they had voted. The people had been told: “We know whom you vote
for. If your area votes for MDC, the maize goes back to the GMB and you
starve and we will then return and repeat what we did to you in 1983/4”.

They voted for the MDC.

There is a limit to the value of violence as a political tool and after a
while it is actually counter-productive. Matabeleland has always voted
against Zanu PF — first because they voted for Zapu and then simply because
they could not forget what Zanu PF did to them in the 1980s. The hurts are
real and deep and are not forgotten or forgiven and are now translated into
support for anyone who is opposed to Zanu PF rule.

Zanu PF has a political culture that has violence at its epicentre — in the
1960s the government banned both Zanu PF and Zapu, not so much because they
were a threat to the status quo but because of widespread violence and
intimidation — against each other’s supporters. Our gardener carried both
party cards — when confronted he would pull out one or the other and give
the appropriate slogan; if he got it wrong, the result would be a beating.

Today Zanu PF has metamorphosed into factions, one is in favour of violence
as a means of avoiding an election that they now recognise they cannot win,
others are for an election using their old tactics —  manipulate the voters
roll, distort and control the delimitation based on a distorted roll,
control the balloting and the counting and if necessary (as in 2008) simply
falsify the results.

This faction would also use violence and intimidation — targeted killings,
disappearances, beatings and torture, threats to family, destruction of
property and even banning people from their homes.

Such tactics and plans were far advanced in 2010.  They have not resulted in
an election or in the failure of the Global Political Agreement government
simply because of regional pressure. Recent violence has its origins in both
pro and anti election factions. The former because they really believed that
they could get away with a snap election — first in October 2010 and then in
May 2011. They set up the structures, deployed the thugs and leadership and
have simply not been able to curb their eagerness to get started.

The violence planned by the other, more radical group is much more serious
and sophisticated and was best illustrated by the so-called riots in Harare
on Monday. This group knows full well that they simply cannot win an
election — not even if they are allowed to get away with all the nonsense
that the other faction has planned. They therefore want a solution that
would leave power in their hands.

So first they planned a strategic assassination, followed by a declaration
of a State of Emergency and the arrest of MDC leadership, the formation of a
Government of National Salvation as a front for a thinly disguised military
junta. Headed off by the region they now want an “Egypt” solution.

I am astonished at the naivety of those who see in the riots and protest in
Egypt a model for change in Zimbabwe. What do we have in Egypt today — 48
hours after the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, a military junta
with a civilian facade.

For the hardline faction of Zanu PF today such an outcome is exactly what
they want to see happen here. The engineered riots on Monday were a clumsy
effort to evoke a response from the people of Zimbabwe and they had hoped
that in the subsequent mayhem they would find justification for a crackdown
and the abandonment of the GPA and its wretched road map to elections.

I hear that even more violence is planned and that this will be more
serious, not just looting stores and allowing the young Zanu PF thugs to
keep what they can steal. This time I would not be surprised if they burn
down some big buildings and engineer some real street battles.

The problem is that we are not buying it. The MDC is telling its supporters
to keep cool and stay out of it. Do not retaliate if attacked or provoked.
This is not weakness but real strength and discipline. We decided 12 years
ago that we wanted a peaceful, legal, democratic transfer of power to new
leadership. We are not about to change our stance.

We knew the GPA government would not work, we did not even like the
arrangement, but we accepted it because it was the only deal on the table
that would take us to a free and fair election. This time, violence will not
help Zanu.

Eddie Cross is MDC-T MP for Bulawayo South.

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Muckracker: Zanu PF’s friends going out one by one

Friday, 25 February 2011 09:09

THIS is the time of year when sychophancy plays its distasteful role in
heaping praise upon our venerable leader. Public officials, party leaders,
government departments and paraststals compete with each other to see who
can deliver the most lickspittle paean of praise to the president on his

This year’s winning entry in the Herald’s line-up of slavish adulation came
from their own columnist, Kurai Masenyama wo recalled the triumphant arrival
of the Mugabes at the funeral in Orlando of Walter Sisulu.

The entire stadium erupted when Zimbabwe’s first couple arrived, we are
told. South Africans literally forgot about Madiba, Zuma and Mbeki with the
Mugabe magic sweeping across the packed stadium.

What makes Mugabe so distinctive as a leader, Masenyama asked himself? And
what makes his name resonate with Africans across the continent and with
black people around the world?

The answer, he claims, lies in the fact that Mugabe is “the de facto
empowerment leader of black people and has for decades been at the forefront
of the fight against racism, imperialism, neocolonialism, global financial
apartheid and generally the oppression of the developing world by the West”.

It is a pity his own people don’t see him in such generous terms. “Since his
emergence on Zimbabwe’s political terrain, which he has largely dominated
for 40 years, President Mugabe has been a true revolutionary, consistent and
articulate cadre of the liberation movement.”

So how do we explain his rejection by the electorate in 2008? Wasn’t it
precisely because he had over-stayed his welcome, Mubarak-style, and lost
the confidence of the nation?

African-Americans have deserted him in droves. Black South Africans would be
unlikely to repeat their Orlando welcome today.

Muckraker met Sisulu in 1994. He was a genuine veteran of the struggle and
at the same time a thoroughly principled and decent individual. And if it
were true that the Orlando crowd “literally forgot about Madiba” to salute
Mugabe, he would have been mortified.

Watching the event on TV that evening it is true that the Mugabes got a
rousing welcome. But so did all the other heads of state attending! And the
house did not “literally break down,” as Masenyama laughably suggests.

Mugabe had initiated presidential scholarships, Masenyama tells us. And who
paid for those scholarships. Was it not you and I?

As for the significance of that rousing welcome, it was fascinating to watch
Col Muammar Gaddafi being greeted by his fan club in Tripoli on Sunday
night. Here was another revolutionary hero who had passed his sell-by date,
and who claimed to be the authentic voice of Africa. Now his subjects are
dispensing with that claim.

It was great to watch the crowds  massing against their erstwhile ruler in
Tripoli, Gaddafi’s headquarters. Tens of thousands of them. And now Iran is
rising to the call of freedom.

Zanu PF’s friends are going down like tenpins one by one. And there are no
tears here!

Meanwhile Tafataona Mahoso continues to regurgitate the tired old tale about
thousands of whites flooding back into the country in 2008 because they
thought the MDC had won.

Indeed, most people thought they had won! So did the South Africans and our
other neighbours. Which is why we have a government of national unity.

But Mahoso, who remains on the board of the Media Commission, is using that
platform to reconstruct the events of 2008. The free press should insist
that he attends to his bureaucratic functions and stops telling whoppers.

Why is he still there?

Two crazy statements recently demonstrate what a dysfunctional society we
have. Major-General Paradzayi Zimondi was quoted as saying the food served
in prisons matched that served in society as a whole.

“I find it disheartening,” he said, “that detractors always want to paint a
bad picture about our prisons without looking at the bigger picture.”
At the height of our economic woes some media reported that the government
had neglected prisoners, Zimondi said. (Actually it was a High Court judge.)

“They did not mention that the situation in prison is also changing for the
better,” he said. “If the country survived on vegetables prisoners will also
eat vegetables. He denied that prisons were over-crowded.”

Meanwhile, ZMDC chair Godwills Masimirembwa has hit out at Tendai Biti for
not selling diamonds.

“It seems Biti is not interested in us selling our diamonds,” Masimirembwa

“His statements are political. He is trying to get an excuse for not paying
civil servants. He should instead audit his own actions. He wants an
insurrection so that we have another Egypt or Tunisia in Zimbabwe.”

Is this the same Masimirembwa who was responsible for emptying supermarket
shelves? Whose economically illiterate policies on prices drove the country
to the cliff’s edge?

Perhaps he should shut up for a while before we wave goodbye to the ZMDC.

Muckraker is intrigued by the logic of the EU in lifting sanctions on the
wives of some of the most reactionary officials in the country.

They are not a threat to democracy, we are told. That’s good to know. And
they will tell us when they are, we suppose! Meanwhile, ZUJ has “slammed”
the EU’s continued sanctions against state journalists who deny the
existence of torture in Zimbabwe and portray the country’s woes as the
product of “illegal” EU and US measures.

Next, ZUJ will tell us why it is OK for journalists to accept land as a
reward for their partisan devotion

Our political “analysts” were conspicuous by their silence in their usual
quest to “explain” to us the events unfolding in North Africa. The likes of
Chris Mutsvangwa and Goodson Nguni who, at the height of protests in Egypt
that led to the toppling of Hosni Mubarak, had attributed these developments
to Mubarak’s” pursuing Western interests for the past 30 years at the
expense of the Arab world”.

Mutsvangwa, ZBC reported, said the events in Egypt should come as a wakeup
call to US pawns across the globe.

It seems they have been left tongue-tied this time around in trying to
comprehend events in Libya where Muammar Gaddafi’s 42 year rule is hanging
by a thread. The Mutsvangwas and Ngunis surely cannot accuse Gaddafi of also
pandering to the dictates of the West. The puppet tag cannot stick on
Gaddafi since he was a thorn in their backside for so many years.

Naturally as events in North Africa take a familiar twist, the “analysts”
take the convenient quiet route lest they get on the wrong side of political
correctness. In fact there are many similarities between Tripoli and the
regime in Harare. Both regimes have used brute force over the years to
suppress any form of dissent and both use the banner of African solidarity
and anti-West rhetoric as a ruse to gloss over their abuses.

Both view their respective countries as personal fiefdoms where they hope to
rule for eternity despite the protestations of the majority.

Mutsvangwa had also reminded ZTV viewers that the people can only rise
against a party that is against the wishes of the people. It seems, however,
that Zanu PF has realised it is indeed a party that is against the wishes of
the people judging by their swift arraignment of Munyaradzi Gwisai and 45
other social and human rights activists for playing video footage of the
Egypt uprising allegedly “to inspire and motivate people to demonstrate
against the government”.

According to their lawyer, Marufu Mandevere, they were just exchanging views
on the situation in North Africa. It seems that it is no longer permissable
anymore with police spokesperson James Sabau saying police would “not allow
any plots to take Zimbabwe the Egypt way” and would clamp down mercilessly
on plotters of any sort.

As was expected the state media boldly stated that “Nation celebrates
President Mugabe’s 87th birthday” with congratulatory messages coming from a
“cross-section” of people.

“We wish our president many more years,” said one. “This is mostly because
he has been a true Pan-Africanist, an exemplary statesman, whose leadership
qualities can never be questionable.

“We commend the president for spearheading the economic empowerment drive
and because of his dedication to see Zimbabweans become masters of their own
destiny, we say long live President Mugabe,” said another.

“As Zimbabweans, we boast of the highest literacy rate on the continent
because of President Mugabe’s dedication to educating the nation. He,
himself is so educated, his desire is to pass the legacy of education to all
Zimbabweans,” said one University of Zimbabwe student.

Perhaps he can read this: “Time to go!”

Muckraker’s favourite greeting came from Zinwa where water supplies were
switched off to mark the president’s birthday (with a little help from the
City of Harare).

What amused Muckraker was the fact that this “cross-section” of people
interviewed by ZTV all seemed to reside at Zanu PF headquarters. They were
all interviewed at different locations in the building. Muckraker wonders
whether interviewing the real cross section of Zimbabweans would elicit less
favourable responses and hence the safer route: Zanu PF activists posing as
ordinary people.

But no matter how hard ZTV managed to work up a patriotic froth around the
president, it will be those crowds in Libya that remain etched in the memory
on February 21.

Zanu PF can no longer pretend that all is well when history lessons are
available on every TV screen across the nation. That is the reality ZTV is
so keen to escape.

Al-Jazeera vs ZTV. Take your pick. Who do you believe?

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Elections: Zanu PF drags nation along familiar path

Friday, 25 February 2011 08:48

ZANU PF “youths” are on the prowl. Moving around neighbourhoods door-
to-door style and in their numbers, they demand the names of those eligible
to vote from households so that they can update their party’s records, and
for the purposes of “issuing party cards and marking registers at future
neighbourhood party meetings”.

The Zanu PF jingles are receiving airplay ad nauseum; political violence is
on the increase with Zanu PF, the police and the state media laying the
blame on the MDC; members of the opposition and civil society are being
arrested with some being charged with treason; and a sustained, rancorous
smear campaign of Zanu PF’s opposition is in top gear in the state media.

Unmistakably the tell-tale whiff of yet another election is in the air. Zanu
PF has clearly decided that it has made the most of the time it bought to
pause and reorganise itself courtesy of the Global Political Agreement, and
is in a haste to campaign for and hold elections. This election mode is
maybe the clearest indicator yet to Zimbabweans and Sadc — guarantor of the
GPA — that Zanu PF has virtually thrown the accord out the window.

Zanu PF, as voters have repeatedly found out,  does not take rejection
lightly as most recently proved by the 2008 presidential run-off which
turned bloody after the MDC’s Morgan Tsvangirai had outpolled President
Robert Mugabe. It would appear in Zanu PF’s version of democracy the people
have a choice: They can only vote for Zanu PF!

While there is a predilection for violence in Zimbabwean politics, it is
Zanu PF that has made it its stock-in-trade; the motif that stands out in
each and every one of its election campaigns. It is little wonder that
Tsvangirai has since blamed Mugabe for the resurgence of violence.

Last week Sadc facilitator South African President Jacob Zuma condemned the
politically motivated violence and intimidation that has flared up since —
revealingly —Zanu PF launched its 2011 election campaign despite there being
no clear indication as to when the elections would be held.

And in what has also become a familiar refrain, Zuma earlier in the week
dispatched his facilitation team to Zimbabwe yet again, to check on the
progress in implementing outstanding GPA  issues and  assist in the drafting
of a clear election roadmap. Given the lack of progress after several such
visits, Zimbabweans can at best only be guardedly optimistic. The team will
have to contend with a party — Zanu PF —which is on record bragging that the
country is a democracy merely because it has held elections regularly and on

Hopefully, the recent outbreak of violence will serve as the direst warning
yet that Zimbabwe is not out of the woods yet and the spectre of a bloody
and disputed election still looms large. The crucial reforms thus need to be
implemented without any further ado.

Local government ministers from Sadc who were attending a forum in Luanda,
Angola, were this week reported to have reiterated the need to “immediately
lift illegal sanctions imposed on Zimbabwe”, saying they were hindering the
country’s development.

While it is Sadc’s prerogative to speak out against sanctions, it should be
even more vocal about the non-negotiable nature of far-reaching reforms as
outlined in the GPA as anything less is a recipe for another Zimbabwe

Without a doubt, Zanu PF’s shenanigans in regard to the above is tantamount
to a middle-finger gesture to the GPA it signed — ostensibly in the national

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Eric Bloch Column: Funding remains scarce for business

Friday, 25 February 2011 09:17

IT is widely acknowledged that one of the many constraints upon Zimbabwe's
economic recovery is the lack of funding available to enterprise.

Almost all businesses have a pronounced insufficiency of resources to
finance operations in general and, in particular, to maintain and increase
volumes of production and sales, let alone adequately maintain fully and
enhance holdings of operating stocks, plant, machinery and equipment, or
even to pay adequate salaries and wages.

Expansion and diversification is far beyond the means of most, and very few
can even contemplate new investment.  The paucity of finances not only has
severe limitations upon the businesses, but also has negative downstream
economic repercussions. These include minimal consumer spending power due to
the inadequacy of employee remuneration, and poor inflows to the fiscus by
way of direct and indirect taxes.

The initial trigger to the monetary drought was the cataclysmic
hyperinflation that prevailed in 2008.  Inflation soared upwards at an
accelerating pace never before experienced anywhere in the world. So great
was that inflation that the then Central Statistical Office  became unable
to determine its extent after July 2008, at which time it had assessed the
annual rate of inflation to be 231 million per cent.  By November, 2008 some
estimates placed inflation as high as more than 650 trillion per cent
(highlighted by Zimbabwean currency denominations being as great as 100
trillion dollar bank notes).

That rampant inflation necessitated that all required many trillions more
working capital to fund holding of manufacturing and other operating inputs
and stock in trade than they had previously required, and they were almost
wholly unable to access such funds, let alone to fund the extension of
credit to customers.

Their funding needs were therefore further intensified by the fact that most
of their suppliers could no longer provide them lines of credit.  These
greater working capital needs applied to virtually all within the economy,
irrespective of whether they were engaged in manufacturing, wholesaling or
retailing, farming, tourism or any other economic activities.

The under-capitalisation circumstances of 2008 intensified when on February
3 2009 Zimbabwe’s currency was demonetised, and a multi-international
currency system came into being.

What little monies were still held by enterprises were effectively rendered
worthless, conversion to hard currencies being at an effective rate of Z$20
trillion: US$1!  At that stage, virtually the only capital resources
remaining for businesses, in all economic sectors, were their fixed assets
(such as land and buildings, plant machinery, furniture, fittings and
equipment), and the limited trading stock that they still held.

Primarily because of the demonetisation of Zimbabwean currency and the start
of the international currency regime coupled with a belated — but
nevertheless commendable —  recourse to partial fiscal frugality, Zimbabwe’s
horrendous hyperinflation ceased in 2009.

That year’s inflation rate was less than 4%.  But that did not reverse the
hyperinflation created need for vastly more business working capital than
that required prior to the hyperinflation era.  It merely halted the
escalation in funding needs.

However, other circumstances have continued to impose a growing need for
greater business funding.  Most businesses had been sustaining losses in the
years preceding the slow economic recovery that began in 2009.

The economic upturn enabled a slow diminution in the extent of the losses,
but for many did not suffice to eliminate losses entirely and bring about
profits.  On the one hand, the working capital limitations prevented
businesses being able to operate fully, and as a result further losses were
sustained, which yet further eroded capital resources.

Losses also resulted from there still being constricted consumer spending
power and the resultant limited domestic market demand.

Concurrently, export market competitiveness had markedly decreased as the
hyperinflation and low production rendered many Zimbabwean products
non-price competitive against products of other countries.In desperation,
business looked to the financial sector for funding, but availability has
been extremely limited.

Not only had the sector also experienced the hyperinflation created erosion
of its capital resources, but in addition the inflow of deposits from all
economic sectors, and from the populace in general, was miniscule.  On the
one hand, many were devoid of funds to deposit and, on the other hand, most
were very wary of placing such monies as they had into the banks.

They feared that Zimbabwe would reconvert to its own national currency, with
the depositors forfeiting any foreign currency held on their behalf by the
banks.  Many also feared that there would be a recurrence of Reserve Bank or
governmental expropriation of their foreign currency holdings, without due
compensation being forthcoming, as is still the case of many funds of
exporters, NGOs and others that were held by the Reserve Bank in the period
prior to 2009.

These “expropriations” included the funds which were replaced with allegedly
tradeable gold bonds due for redemption almost two years ago but still not
redeemed because of the Reserve Bank’s bankruptcy, and the failure of
government as yet to assume the debts.

On the other hand, the financial sector has had very limited access to
critically needed international credit lines.  There are many international
finance organisations, banks and other institutions that are willing, in
principle, to provide substantial credit lines to Zimbabwean banks.  But
that willingness is muted and contained by Zimbabwe’s exceptionally low
creditworthiness rating, it being perceived as a very high credit risk, and
most credit insurers being unwilling to insure against that risk.

That lending reticence has been exacerbated and intensified over the last
year.  In part, that is due to the recurrent confrontational berating of the
international community by some of Zimbabwe’s political hierarchy, in part
by Zimbabwe’s prolonged default in settlement of debt arrears and, over the
last year, by Zimbabwe’s declared intents and legislation for economic

Understandably, there is a profound reluctance to lend to enterprises whose
ownership and management may change to unknown parties whose business
integrity and operational ability is unknown.

In like manner, most foreign suppliers to Zimbabwean businesses are fearful
of extending credit to those businesses, being concerned that the country’s
financial circumstances, and its policies, may well prevent timeous payments
being forthcoming — intensifying the possibility of the suppliers sustaining
bad, irrecoverable debts.

This is yet a further intensification of the capitilisation needs of almost
all businesses, whatever their fields of operation in the economy.

Until Zimbabweans, and the world at large, feel assured that Zimbabwe will
not revert to its own currency until it has a fully stabilised and thriving
economy, and that the politicians will place the needs of the economy and
the populace ahead of their megalomaniac and racist beliefs, substantial
foreign funding, credit lines and supplier credits will not be forthcoming,
and the monetary inadequacies of the economy will continue.

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Editor's Memo: President’s health a matter of public interest

Friday, 25 February 2011 08:46

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe turned 87 on Monday amid growing speculation about
his health.

The issue, which has been badly handled by his spin doctors, is creating a
great deal of discomfort in the corridors of power, including within Zanu PF
ranks and securocratic structures.

It’s not difficult to understand why. The issue raises so many fundamental
and sensitive political questions which authorities would prefer not to
discuss, at least in public. The matter also lies at the heart of local
politics and the future of the country.

Given Mugabe’s role and footprints in Zimbabwean politics since he joined
the liberation movement around 1960, the issue of his health becomes
critical, apart from his family and relatives, to the survival of Zanu PF
and well-being of the nation.

Even though Mugabe and Zanu PF’s anachronistic ideology is fast eroding, and
the myths and symbols of their system becoming increasingly unstable and
gradually collapsing, he remains an influential figure in local politics and
his continued presence or departure would shape the future of the country in
significant ways.

The careers of so many influential political and even business elites in
Zimbabwe are tied to Mugabe’s future and they would naturally become anxious
about the discussion. Their economic fortunes and even security depends on
his well-being. That is partly why Mugabe’s health is such a touchy subject
to them.

Upon his return on Sunday from far-flung Singapore, Mugabe did not waste
time before circuitously dealing with the matter.

After his spokesman claimed he had gone all the way to Singapore for a
review after a “small medical (eye) procedure” last month during his annual
holidays to remove a cataract, Mugabe weighed in to contain the debate and
douse the fires.

Reacting to reports that his travels on health grounds were now disrupting
government business, Mugabe said if there were people who thought “we have
lost pace” cabinet could meet twice a week. Cabinet was postponed last week
because of Mugabe’s trip to Singapore, which meant that by that time it had
only met once – on February 8 — since the beginning of the year. Ministers
say they are getting edgy about the issue.

However, there are some people around Mugabe who are not comfortable to
openly discuss the issue. Mugabe’s state media hacks are also showing
growing anxiety over it. One only needs to have read the ranting and raving
in the last editorial comment of the state-controlled Sunday Mail, headlined
Long Live President Mugabe!, to understand this.

With all due respect to the editors there, the comment was based on
contextual misrepresentations and an undisguised Straw man argument. It was
also laced with North Korean-style propaganda and excessive vitriol. The
editor of The Voice (Zanu PF’s mouthpiece, and equivalent of Pravda) would
have been green with envy after reading it. But then that’s beside the
point. The real issue is that the health of a head of state is an issue of
uncontestable public interest. Few things, if any, demand greater
accountability to Zimbabweans than the president’s state of health.

The fiasco which surrounded the deteriorating health and later death of
Nigerian President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua should teach us a lesson. The
president and his spokesmen denied for two years he had any health problems
and even threatened to sue the media, but then we now all know what happened

So let’s not have a boiling frog syndrome when dealing with such serious

In the United States they have had to find a way of striking a delicate
balance between the public’s obvious interest in the health of its next
president and the candidate’s need to retain some measure of privacy.

Questions about the health of a prospective president are more acute with
age. John McCain, who has suffered bouts of skin cancer and was 72 in 2008
while contesting against US President Barrack Obama, had to release 1 173
pages of medical records spanning eight years to reassure the public he was
fit for office. This material was on top of copious medical records —
including psychiatric evaluations — which McCain had made available to the
media during his 2000 campaign.

History counsels that, as a general rule, the public’s interest should be
paramount. Franklin D Roosevelt’s failing health as he ran for a fourth
term, John F Kennedy’s Addison’s disease and Paul Tsongas’s recurrence of
the lymphoma, which would have killed him during his first term, are some
examples, among many, to learn from.

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Comment: In a word, Libya!

Friday, 25 February 2011 08:36

IT seems like a regime a day, tumbling in deference to the demands of
democratic demonstrators.

At first there was Tunisia, arguably one of the most prosperous of the North
African Arab states with its thriving tourism sector whose rulers flaunted
their immense wealth, even plundering the central bank before departing and
then suffering the humiliation of being rejected by France which inspired
the national elite to live the sweet life.

After President Ben Ali and his kleptocratic family had settled in Saudi
Arabia, Egypt, the most powerful and influential of the Maghreb states,
faced the demands of over a million demonstrators. Its octogenarian ruler,
Hosni Mubarak, at the helm for over 30 years, tried to hang on by promising
the multitudes a new start. But the overwhelmingly young insurrectionists,
equipped with Twitter and Facebook, weren’t buying it. They had a tryst with
destiny that they were not about to betray.

When Mubarak finally gave way, retreating to his estate at Sharm el-Sheik,
it was only a matter of time before the foundations of another desert
fiefdom began to tremble.

It wasn’t Algeria where the army has a firm hand; nor Jordan or Morocco
where monarchs enjoy a measure of popularity and could, as in Bahrain, buy
time with strategic concessions. It was the most unlikely candidate of all —
Libya where the one-man rule of Col Muammar Gadaffi ensured no departure
from the totalitarian script.

His discomfort was first advertised by an address in support of Ben Ali
warning Tunisians not to push him out.

The heat was turned up by Mubarak’s departure which showed the much smaller
Libyan population that anything was possible.

Gadaffi has since then conducted a vicious counter-revolutionary policy that
has involved attacks on demonstrators from the air. In so doing he has
attracted the wrath of the Arab League and the UN. Two airforce pilots fled
to Malta with their jets rather than kill their countrymen. Then Gadaffi and
his son gave demented TV speeches to the nation which convinced many
observers that the wheels were coming off. Indeed Libya’s ambassadors to
several far eastern countries resigned their posts after listening to the

Zimbabwe is a close ally of the Libyan autocrat. They work closely together
in the UN and AU. So long as Gadaffi survives Zimbabwe will stick by him.
Sadly the MDC doesn’t seem to have a foreign policy. If it did it would be
able to stand up for freedom and democracy in North Africa. Because what we
are seeing now is a new form of protest; not the burning of US flags and
fists waved at the West Iran-style, but genuine movements in favour of

For North Africa this is a monumental sea change. But there are comparisons
with Zimbabwe. The repression that ignited the revolution in Tunisia and
Egypt, and now Libya, has become a feature of Zimbabwean life. People have
been arrested and detained for exercising their constitutional rights.

Munyaradzi Gwisai and 45 colleagues have been arrested and incarcerated for
watching videos of events in Egypt. Nyanga North MP Douglas Mwonzora and 24
MDC-T activists remain incarcerated on charges of political violence,
vicitims of the iniquitous Section 121, designed to thwart court rulings on
bail. No Zanu PF activists have been arrested despite their cited role in

Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights has said it is worried by the seemingly
partial behaviour of the police in handling cases of political violence.
Executive director Irene Petras said the partisan behaviour was a trend
observed over the years in which supporters of one political party and human
rights defenders were being prosecuted and charged but the prosecution never

Zimbabweans are witnessing almost daily cases in which rights are trampled
on and law-enforcement is arbitrary, partisan and unprofessional. That is
the terrain for profound public dissatisfaction. And for those elements of
the state that believe they have successfully coerced the country into
obedience, we have one word: Libya.

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