ZABG birth pangs intensify Conrad Dube/Shakeman
Mugari ZIMBABWE Allied Banking Group (ZABG)'s problems continue to mount with
revelations that a second bank filed court papers on Wednesday, suing the
RBZ for its inclusion in the merged bank.
Trust Bank filed an urgent
application midweek arguing that its inclusion in ZABG was illegal and
should be reversed. The Trust Bank case was heard at the High Court
yesterday and will continue on Tuesday next week.
This brings to two
the number of banks that are suing ZABG and the central bank after Royal
Bank filed papers on Monday demanding that it be removed from under the ZABG
Royal's case was also supposed to be heard at the High
Court yesterday but was postponed to Monday after the respondents - ZABG,
RBZ and the curator Robert McIndoe - submitted their opposing papers
McIndoe submitted his affidavit a few minutes before
matter was due for hearing in chambers.
application, Royal's major shareholders, Jeffrey Mzwimbi and Durajadi Simba,
have sought a court interdict against RBZ, ZABG and McIndoe using the
premises, motor vehicles and other assets and placing the business, assets
or any interest of Royal under the control of ZABG.
They argue that it is
illegal to transfer customers of Royal to ZABG. They are also challenging
public announcements made by the central bank two weeks ago that Royal has
been amalgamated into ZABG or merged with any bank to form
Royal further objects that the RBZ and the curators
valued its assets at $17,3 billion, which was their price at
"This is a gross misrepresentation and undervaluation of the
assets of the third respondent (Royal)," Royal contends. "It will be
apparent that the assets of the third respondent are worth in excess of $60
They are also arguing that the respondents were selective
in applying the in duplum rule to suit their agenda. Mzwimbi and Simba said
while the curator was applying the rule to amounts owed to Royal, they have
not applied the same rule to amounts owed to the RBZ by Royal.
Zanu PF postpones campaign launch Gift Phiri THE
ruling Zanu PF party last night postponed the official launch of its
election campaign that was expected to kick off tomorrow as the opposition
mulled a legal challenge to the upcoming general election on behalf of
people excluded from the voters' roll.
Ruling party sources said
there was heated debate at a politburo meeting held at the party's
headquarters late yesterday over the conduct of primary elections held last
Meanwhile, a regional group of election observers is expected
to begin its mission early next month amid rising domestic tension and
international concerns about transparency.
Zanu PF leader Robert
Mugabe, hoping to extend his 25 years in power by beating the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) in the legislative election on March
31, had been due to kick off his party's campaign at the Harare
International Conference Centre in Harare tomorrow.
party is charging that the voters' roll is a shambles and will ask the High
Court to adjudicate on exclusions from it before the legislative poll at the
end of March.
Inspection of the voters' roll closes today with many
people in various parts of Harare complaining that their names were no
longer on the roll, MDC MP Tendai Biti said.
"Many people have
reported to the MDC that they discovered they had been transferred to other
districts, far from their homes," Biti said. "Others say their names do not
appear anywhere on the voters' rolls. We are going to court using one
well-documented example of exclusion to prove his point about the voters'
Government this week set March 31 as the date for the general
election that will be closely watched to gauge whether Zimbabwe can live up
to its pledge to hold free and fair polls. The opposition MDC yesterday
resolved to take part in the election for the 120 contested
President Robert Mugabe announced through a Government Gazette
that elections will be held on March 31. The move was immediately blasted by
the opposition party, which maintains that Zimbabwe was not ready to hold a
free and fair vote.
"This date will have the effect of disabling
the institutions that needed more time to establish themselves," MDC
secretary-general Welshman Ncube, said.
The Zimbabwe Independent
understands that a Southern African Development Community (Sadc) observer
mission to the election is finalising plans to begin its work in earnest on
March 14. The Sadc election mission was invited to send its delegation in
December, 90 days before the polling date. It was not immediately clear if
the European Union was also invited although it is understood that
accreditation is still in progress. Observers and human rights organisations
have said a wave of political violence threatens chances for a free and fair
A Sadc delegation of lawyers from South Africa, Lesotho and
Namibia - countries which form a troika of the regional organ on politics,
defence and security - had been due in Harare last Saturday to assess the
country's compliance with the Grande Baie protocol on free and fair
elections, ratified by President Mugabe in Mauritius in
Mugabe, who accuses British premier Tony Blair's government
of bankrolling the MDC, says the March poll would be an "anti-Blair
campaign" for his Zanu PF party to "bury" the MDC.
The MDC says
conditions for holding the election are flawed, citing police harassment of
their supporters and new election laws that give Mugabe the power to appoint
members to a commission supervising the vote. MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
said the poll would help end 25 years of "tyranny".
"For the first
time in 25 years, it is clear to the tormentor and the tormented that the
end is in sight," he said.
Donors spurn Zim Transfrontier Park Staff
Writer DONORS are withholding funds for the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park
until Zimbabwe restores the rule of law, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this
Highly-placed sources involved in the park said the World Bank,
European Union and conservation groups have refused to fund the Zimbabwean
component of the huge conservation project in protest against the
lawlessness in Zimbabwe.
Sources said the donors have said they
are withholding funds until government removes people who invaded Gonarezhou
National Park, which is part of the project, in 2000. Without foreign
currency reserves, Zimbabwe has not been able to develop new infrastructure
urgently needed for the megapark.
"Huge amounts of money have
started pouring into South Africa and Mozambique for the development of
infrastructure agreed when the trans-frontier park agreement was signed,"
The transfrontier park is made up of the Kruger
National Park in South Africa, Gonarezhou in Zimbabwe, and Gaza in
Mozambique. On completion, the park will occupy 3,6 million
The Independent understands that Germany has already
donated five million euros to both South Africa and Mozambique for
infrastructure developments but flatly refused to bankroll the Zimbabwean
side. Many other donors are reported to have responded positively to the two
countries but Zimbabwe has been left out.
Among the major
infrastructural developments needed, Zimbabwe had agreed to construct a
bridge across the Limpopo. It had also undertaken to refurbish and build
lodges and chalets at selected sites in Gonarezhou.
It was not
possible to obtain comment from Environment and Tourism minister Francis
Nhema yesterday as he was not answering his phone.
Zimbabwe fell out with
the donor community when Zanu PF supporters violently grabbed farms from
white commercial farmers five years ago. The rift widened when the invaders
occupied national parks, conservancies and campfire projects with government
endorsing the invasions.
The Independent understands that government
has resettled about 750 families on 11 000 hectares inside Gonarezhou.
People have also invaded conservancies such as Save, Malilangwe and Bubianna
as well as Mungwezi.
Newsnet yet to pay salaries Staff Writer NEWSNET,
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holding (ZBH)'s propaganda arm, has failed to pay its
workers salaries for January as it emerged that the organisation is not
generating enough revenue.
Newsnet workers, who include journalists and
cameramen, should have been paid last Wednesday but management informed them
there was no money.
The workers told the Zimbabwe Independent this
week that they were now not sure about when exactly they would get their
"We have not yet received our salaries for January
and we wonder how management expects us to pay rentals and take care of our
families when they are always paying us late," said one worker speaking on
condition of anonymity.
Newsnet workers were paid their December
salaries after the first week of January.
"As it is at the moment
we have not even negotiated for salary increments for the new year and the
message we are always getting is that the organisation has no money," said
ZBH chairman Rino Zhuwarara and chief executive
officer Tazzen Mandizvidza were said to be locked in meetings when contacted
However, ZBH public relations officer, Sivukile Simango,
promised to get back to the Independent with a comment on the current
situation but did not do so by the time of going to press.
last year unbundled the broadcasting corporation into separate entities in a
bid to improve revenue generation. ZBH was unbundled into units that include
four radio stations, on-air systems, Newsnet and Sportnet, among
However, sources at ZBH said the other entities were not
making any profits save for radio services, which was now funding the
operations of the whole ZBH set-up.
Dongo is back Grace Kombora MARGARET Dongo, leader
of the opposition Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (ZUD) which disappeared from
the political scene after losing the 2000 election, has hit the campaign
trail for the March election.
Dongo said in an interview on Wednesday
that she would be contesting the Harare Central constituency as an
She said her party would meet next week to choose other
candidates to run in the parliamentary election as
"We will release the names of candidates after our
selection next week," Dongo said. "Those selected will stand as independent
Dongo, who represented the Sunningdale constituency as
an independent from 1995 to 2000 after breaking away from Zanu PF, said ZUD
members would stand as independents to avoid being sucked into partisan
"Independent candidates are the think-tanks in the
development of the country," she said.
"An independent candidate
cannot be whipped into line to vote against his or her
In her campaign posters headed "Arise and Speak", Dongo,
who was a Zanu PF MP from 1990 to 1995, describes herself as a "fearless,
tried and tested politician - a rock that defies the cruelty of political
The March election is expected to see a number of
independent candidates largely due to internal problems in Zanu PF during
the recent primary elections.
Some disgruntled Zanu PF officials
could stand as independents after they were excluded from the primaries.
Information minister Jonathan Moyo, who was barred from contesting in
Tsholotsho, hinted at this when he said there were "many tickets to
However, the poll is expected to be mainly a two-horse race
between Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
ZUD, which came onto the political scene with a bang, disappeared
after failing to win a single seat in the 2000 parliamentary
Dongo said ZUD had not collapsed but gone underground due
to lack of funds and media coverage.
"The media does not give us
enough coverage and that is why the party seemed to be defunct. The media
perceive political parties as ice cream flavour. They mostly cover the
biggest parties which can remove Mugabe and the flavour for 2000 was the
Chaos in Zanu PF Loughty Dube ZANU PF has dissolved
party structures in Bulawayo for the second time in less than a month on the
orders of Vice-President Joseph Msika, as internal feuds threaten to split
the party ahead of next month's election.
Angry party members told the
Zimbabwe Independent this week that the dissolution of party structures was
being masterminded by the Zanu PF old guard opposed to former provincial
chairman and war veterans national chairman Jabulani
Msika last week dissolved all party structures starting from
cell, and then moving to branch and up to the district co-ordinating
committee level at a meeting he called at the Zanu PF provincial
headquarters in Bulawayo.
Just two weeks ago the Zanu PF national
commissar, Elliot Manyika, dissolved the Bulawayo provincial executive
committee headed by George Mlala and replaced it with a committee led by
The new committee, composed of senior party members,
has been in control of the fragmented province but its work has been
hampered by factionalism.
Contacted for comment on the latest
developments, Mlala refuted claims that his committee was dissolved and said
the provincial executive had tendered its resignation to Manyika
"This is mere politicking," said Mlala. "We resigned as the
provincial executive en masse before Manyika announced his decision to
dissolve the executive and we are saying such rash decisions by the party
leadership are going to affect its performance in the forthcoming
The Bulawayo province is divided into two antagonistic
factions, one loyal to disposed chairman Sibanda and the other to the Zanu
PF old guard led by former Zapu intelligence supremo, Dumiso
Mlala said the new people that the party leadership had
imposed were generally unknown and not popular with Zanu PF supporters in
"If we go into elections with this leadership in the
province, then we are going to fare worse than we did in the last
elections," Mlala said.
Party sources said the structures were being
dissolved to erode Sibanda's influence since as chairman of the party in
2000 he was responsible for its restructuring.
"The old guard
knows that Sibanda still commands a lot of respect in all party structures
from cell to provincial level and as a way of weakening his influence, they
want to remove all those people who came into office through his influence,"
said a source.
Sibanda fell out of favour with senior Zanu PF members
in the province after he questioned their alleged corrupt practices and was
subsequently suspended from Zanu PF for four years for
"The old guard was embarrassed when the province
refused to endorse their candidatures for the central committee, a move that
forced President Mugabe to intervene and handpick some people for the
central committee and later the politburo," said the source.
Byo's unpaid rates surge to $68 billion Loughty
Dube GOVERNMENT departments and city residents now owe the cash-strapped
Bulawayo city council a whopping $68 billion in unpaid rates and charges as
the local authority struggles to provide service.
The latest figures
represent an increase of about $22 billion on what the government and
residents owed council at the beginning of November last
Documents from the city treasury department indicate that
residents owe the largest chunk of unserviced debt.
council a total of $51,6 billion and government departments a further $17,2
Previously, residents owed council $33 billion while
government owed $13 billion.
The largest chunk of the amount owed
by residents is in unpaid water charges that constitute about $27,9 billion
of the debt while supplementary charges and rates are next at $13,9
Other areas of debt include sewerage, land sales and refuse
Government departments' debt stems from unpaid bills
for water, sewerage and refuse removal.
The latest council
figures, submitted by city treasurer Middleton Nyoni, indicate that the
Ministry of Rural Resources and Water Development is the biggest debtor at
over $1,4 billion, closely followed by the Ministry of Health at $1,39
The Ministry of Home Affairs owes $1,37
The council recently benefited from a $150 billion local
authorities advance from the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe that will see it
complete some of its capital projects that have been in limbo for a long
Yet another bottomless pit Shakeman Mugari THE
recent decision by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe to dole out a whopping $10
trillion to ailing parastatals is tantamount to taxpayers sinking funds into
a bottomless pit unless corporate governance issues are addressed, analysts
Analysts say RBZ governor Gideon Gono's plans to revive the fortunes
of the parastatals will hit a brick-wall because he lacks the powers to
influence decisions in state companies and local authorities.
the fourth quarter monetary policy review statement presented last week,
Gono said there was need to come up with radical structural changes in the
operations of parastatals and local authorities.
He said the
parastatals were the missing link in the "economic turnaround"
"A fish bone analysis that tracks the routing of the
veins and tentacles of the parastatals and local authorities in the wider
economy clearly shows that for the country to elevate economic performance
to the envisioned levels, these entities need to be radically 'de-clogged'
to hive off structural rigidities in their operations," Gono
In what those familiar with operations in the sector say is a
highly ambitious target; Gono launched what he termed the Parastatal and
Local Authorities Reorientation Programme (Plarp).
programme, the Reserve Bank will issue medium to long-term stock to raise
seed funds amounting to $10 trillion, which will go towards implementation
of the Parastatals and Local Authorities Reorientation Programme (Plarp),"
Apparently in an attempt to widen his influence, Gono said
the central bank would establish a special division to monitor the
implementation of the policy.
However, analysts say the programme
will fail because Gono is not in the power structures of local government
and parastatals. They say the plan does not tackle the political problems
affecting the companies.
Parastatals are not answerable to the
governor but their responsible ministries who in turn answer to parliament.
Analysts say parastatal and local government issues are predominantly fiscal
issue, which are not part of Gono's remit.
They say this makes
the governor incapable of influencing the operations of
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce president
Luxon Zembe said
parastatals would continue to siphon the fiscus unless
there are strict regulations on corporate governance.
"As long as
the current model of running parastatals, in which parastatal heads report
to line ministries, remains, we will not get out of the mess," Zembe
He said politics was at the core of the two sectors. Parastatal
reform must include the setting up of independent boards in which the
majority of members are non-civil servants, according to
"Boards of directors must be empowered to make strategic
decisions without which they are useless. Their decisions must not be
subject to vetting by parent ministries," he said.
Independence senior managers and board members have been predominantly
political appointees. This has seen key positions being handed to party
functionaries. Line ministers appoint heads of parastatals.
employee who worked for the National Railways of Zimbabwe for 18 years said
the problem with parastatals was endemic corruption.
parastatals are riddled with corrupt personnel and there are serious
structural problems. You have unqualified people in key positions," he
He said government had over the years watched senior officials
accused of corruption in parastatals going scot-free.
At the core
of the problems in the parastatals is the abuse of public facilities by the
ruling party. Zimbabwe United Passenger Company buses have been used during
Zanu PF rallies. NRZ coaches have also been used to ferry party supporters
to party functions. There are reports that the Grain Marketing Board has
been heading government's "food for votes" strategy ahead of the March 31
Air Zimbabwe, which is heavily indebted, has also been
brought in to push government's "Look East" policy by taking up a costly
route to China.
All these political factors, analysts say, are beyond
The revival plan proposed by Gono last week comes on
the back of more than $200 billion doled out to parastatals under the
productive sector facility (PSF) last year.
received $50 billion while other state troubled state companies got between
$7,5 billion and $10 billion. The cheap funds have not resulted in improved
service provision. Zesa has actually raised its tariffs by more than 35% in
the last two months while it has continued its
Despite receiving $7,5 billion from the PSF,
Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings is still in financial difficulties. The NRZ's
problems have not reduced despite the cheap funds from the central
However, it is the inflationary pressures that come with such
large grants that worry economists. They say the government will need to
print more money to finance such expenditure. Economic commentator, John
Robertson, said it was highly unlikely that the government would be able to
raise $10 trillion from the market.
"They would have to print
money - that is their only alternative. And that is highly inflationary,"
Robertson said. "What has happened to the turnaround plans proposed by the
respective ministries? There is need for a report back on that
"It is dangerous to give money to parastatals without a proper
analysis of their problems," said Robertson.
strategies have failed to save the quangos. Even continuous financial
support from government has not made things any better.
still stuck with more that 30 non-performing state companies. For instance,
Ziscosteel has had more than 16 turnaround programmes over the past two
decades, while the NRZ has had more than a dozen over the same period.
Almost every new minister appointed has had a turnaround strategy for the
parastatals under his ministry.
'Zim not ready for free, fair poll' Ndamu
THE Electoral Act and the Zimbabwe
Electoral Commission Act militate against Sadc principles and guidelines on
the holding of democratic elections, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network
(Zesn) has said.
In a damning report, Zesn said although the two
pieces of legislation were crafted to aid the holding of democratic
elections, this was not borne out by facts on the ground.
The document, titled: "The Sadc Electoral Principles and Guidelines and
Zimbabwe's New Electoral Legislation", said Zimbabwe was still short on
adhering to the Sadc barometers for free and fair
The Sadc guidelines compel member states to
safeguard human and civil liberties - freedom of movement, assembly,
association and expression - of all their citizens during the electoral
"There is little in the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission Act or the Electoral Act to ensure an environment in which human
and civil rights are fully enjoyed. The functions of the Electoral
Commission are confined to registering voters, keeping voters' rolls,
providing voter education and conducting elections," Zesn
Zesn said the commission had no role whatever in ensuring
respect for fundamental human rights such as freedom of association and
expression, "which are essential to the holding of free and fair
The nearest the Act comes to dealing with the
general electoral environment is in Section 3 which sets out principles on
which elections must be held, Zesn says.
states that all citizens have the right to stand for office, to vote, to
join political parties and to participate in peaceful political activities,
and that all political parties have the right to put up candidates, to
campaign freely within the law, and to have 'reasonable access to the
media'," Zesn said.
Zesn said the Act confined itself to a
statement of those principles and did nothing to ensure their
"The lack of some means to enforce the
principles set out in Section 3 of the Electoral Act is a flaw in the
legislation," Zesn said.
"The freedoms specifically mentioned
in the Sadc principles - freedom of
assembly, association and
expression and political tolerance - are not fully respected in Zimbabwe,"
Zesn said legislation such as the Public Order and
Security Act (Posa) and the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act (Aippa) had been used to stifle freedom of the press. It said Posa gave
the police "wide powers to control public meetings and
It said Sections 38 and 103 of the Electoral
Act say that nomination of candidates for parliamentary and presidential
elections must take place between 14 and 21 days after the publication of
the proclamation calling the election, and polling must take place between
35 and 66 days after the proclamation, which was
"The minimum period of 35 days may well be adequate
for a by-election held in a single constituency, but it would probably not
allow enough time for a general election or a presidential to be held
properly," Zesn said.
Parliamentary polls are set to take place on
Zesn said the Sadc Parliamentary Forum's Norms and
Standards spelt a period of between three and four months between the
announcement of a parliamentary general election and polling, to give
sufficient time for the Electoral Commission to prepare for the election and
to demonstrate fair play.
"If the forthcoming general
election is to be held in March, as has been proposed by government, there
will be only fifty days for it to be held between the date on which
parliament resumes sitting (February 8) and the end of March," Zesn
Zesn said the president was still fixing the dates for
the elections whilst the Sadc Parliamentary Forum's norms state that
parliament should be involved in the fixing of the election
It said there was need for impartial electoral bodies to
run elections. Zesn said it was not clear how the Zimbabwe Electoral
Commission and the Electoral Supervisory Commission would operate and "which
commission has the greater authority".
The staffing of the
two commissions, Zesn said, was a cause for concern as under the Electoral
Act both commissions are empowered to take on secondment state employees
including members of the defence forces, the police forces and prison
services as well as civil servants.
Another concern raised by
Zesn was that the ministry was now approving all statutory instruments made
by the Electoral Commission under the Electoral Act before they were
"In other words the commission has no independent
powers to control elections through the making of regulations and other
statutory instruments," Zesn said.
Zesn said the
provisions regarding election observers and monitors contained in the
Electoral Act were unsatisfactory.
According to the Act,
observers will have to be accredited by a committee dominated by nominees of
various government ministries.
"There is no provision for the
monitoring of elections by representatives of non-governmental
organisations, and it seems unlikely that representatives of local NGOs will
be accredited as observers in time," it said.
that Sadc must be invited to send a mission at least 90 days before polling
day as part of the requirements of the principles.
forthcoming general election is to be held in March, there will not be
enough time to give Sadc the 90 days' notice to send an observer mission, as
required in the principles and guidelines," Zesn said.
Hurdles still litter way to March poll Ray
Matikinye LESS than two months before Zimbabwe goes to its sixth general
election since Independence from Britain in 1980, opposition parties are
agonising over whether to participate and legitimise the poll currently
tilted in the ruling Zanu PF party's favour due to existing
Opposition parties are not alone in sniping at government's
feeble measures taken to comply with Sadc guidelines governing the holding
of democratic elections. Civic groups also doubt government's sincerity and
have accused the ruling party of constantly manipulating regulations and
legislation each time an election is in the offing.
cannot claim to be fulfilling Sadc guidelines on free and fair elections as
long as repressive pieces of legislation such as the Public Order and
Security Act (Posa), Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
(Aippa) and the Broadcasting Services Act (BSA) remain in our statutes,"
says lawyer, Kucaca Phulu.
Phulu, of the Media Lawyers Association,
says it is futile for government to try and dupe the world into believing
that the forthcoming March election will be free and fair simply by
projecting a semblance of compliance when "this trilogy of repressive
legislation is in place".
"Posa, Aippa and BSA must be abolished
first before government can claim compliance because they were enacted to
prevent 'regime change'. What 'regime change' means to the ruling Zanu PF
party and government is avoiding free and fair elections at all costs,"
He says government had merely put up a smokescreen when
it knew quite well that the Sadc guidelines are ineffectual principles that
are subordinate to internal laws.
"Government can comply with
international laws but those laws mean little when they are subverted by
domestic laws which impinge on the rights of citizens. The government does
not seem to show commitment to the development of democracy as illustrated
by its introduction of malevolent pieces of legislation," Phulu
Government has hurtled down the slalom to impress its
regional neighbours that it is complying with the provisions of the Sadc
Grande Baie protocol in response to intense international and regional
pressure. It has hastened to pass the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Act and
the Electoral Act. Sadc guidelines require member countries to adopt effect
measures favourable to holding free and fair elections.
elections are scheduled for March 31 this year. But opposition parties say
the measures put in place so far are cosmetic. The Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) has yet to make a decision on its participation in the election
although indications are that it will.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai
says the forthcoming election could provide the medium through which the
people realise their cherished goals.
"We are keen to take part in
this process, provided the conditions on the ground are right," he said. "We
pledge to respect the will of the people. Whether we opt to stay at home or
not, the consequences shall push the political temperature beyond boiling
point and hasten the demise of tyranny in our country."
weekly message to the electorate this week, Tsvangirai says judging by the
mood on the ground, the MDC is ready to put an end to uncertainty, political
anxiety and fear.
"We are ready to embark on a decisive road towards
the democratisation of our nation and our institutions, and to introduce a
far-reaching political culture, with freedom as the foundation for
prosperity," he says.
That is despite stifling legislation in
"The repressive Posa has stifled political activity by
opposition parties while Aippa and the Broadcasting Services Act have
ensured that voters, especially the rural electorate, are kept ignorant of
alternative policies from contesting parties," president of Zapu Freedom
Party, Paul Siwela says.
Government has often used Posa to deny
opposition parties the right to hold campaign meetings. Opposition members
complain that the police are partisan and biased in favour of the ruling
Zanu PF, often misinterpreting provisions of the Act to put all sorts of
obstacles in their way.
It has denied other political players access
to radio and television while at the same time barring non-governmental
organisations from conducting voter education in contravention of some of
the core requirements for compliance.
Siwela says the ruling Zanu
PF has abused Aippa and BSA to shut out alternative opinion other than its
own, disregarding the fact that all Zimbabweans are primary stakeholders in
national rebuilding. "That is a serious indictment of government but Zapu
Freedom Party will go to the polls despite regulations meant to stifle
national debate about the future of this nation," Siwela says.
says Zanu PF would welcome a boycott of the elections by the opposition in
order to firmly establish its cherished one-party state dream but his party
will not allow that to happen.
Moyo's lawsuit: Nkomo, Dabengwa fight back Loughty
Dube THE Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo and politburo member Dumiso
Dabengwa have filed papers at the High Court in Bulawayo to oppose an
application by Information minister Jonathan Moyo for $2 billion in
Nkomo and Dabengwa, cited as the first respondent and second
respondents respectively, filed the notice with the Bulawayo High Court on
Tuesday through their lawyers, Gula-Ndebele & Partners.
note that on February 1, 2005 at 12 pm the first and second respondents have
entered an appearance to defend in the above matter," reads the
The filing of the opposing papers by the two has set the
stage for a bruising legal battle that is set to widen divisions between
Moyo and senior politicians in the ruling party.
currently clutching at straws after he was left out of the Zanu PF central
committee and the party's supreme decision-making body, the politburo, on
allegations that he masterminded the ill-fated Tsholotsho meeting that has
seen other party bigwigs fall by the wayside.
As if this was not
enough, Moyo also failed to secure the ticket to represent Zanu PF in
Tsholotsho after the party reserved the seat for a woman
The lawyer representing the two, Kenell Chirumota of
Gula-Ndebele & Partners, confirmed that papers were filed with the
Bulawayo High Court and said he was still taking instructions from his
"Papers have been filed with the Bulawayo High Court and we
are currently working on preliminaries but as of now I am taking
instructions from my clients," Chirumota said.
He said no date
has been set for the hearing of the case.
In papers filed at the same
court on January 18, Moyo alleged that the two defamed him in statements
they allegedly made in Tsholotsho. In the summons served on the two the
government spin doctor alleges that they made statements that were "false,
wrongful, unlawful and highly defamatory" of him.
Dabengwa were served with the summons on January 21 and were ordered to
respond to the lawsuit in 10 days.
Moyo has openly attacked the two
senior politicians in the last month and has devoted considerable space in
state newspapers to abusing them.
Zim risks isolation over Cosatu deportation Gift
Phiri THE Zimbabwean government yesterday came under withering attack from
political and civic groups for deporting a 15-member strong Congress of
South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) delegation that was on a fact-finding
mission to Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe's main labour body, the Zimbabwe
Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), immediately condemned the deportation of
the leading South African unionists, saying such a move would further
"The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions strongly
condemns the insensitive and hideous decision by the government of Zimbabwe
to deport a... delegation from Cosatu," ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo
Matombo condemned "the inhuman manner in which our colleagues
from Cosatu were treated, which shows the callousness of the
It urged the government to avoid "making hasty and
dangerous decisions that might in the long-run be diplomatic blunders which
will further isolate the country", he said.
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) said the deportation of Cosatu leaders,
who have threatened a serious backlash, was "deplorable".
"This is a
deplorable act but is sadly not unexpected given this government's record of
intolerance against all those who do not share its myopic outlook," MDC
spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said.
"(Wednesday's) regrettable episode
illustrates just how repressive Zimbabwe has become. The treatment of the
Cosatu officials should clear up any lingering doubts about the government's
position on political tolerance and freedom of association - two of the key
principles in the Sadc protocol."
Cosatu secretary-general Zwelinzima
Vavi said the government's refusal to allow members of his organisation into
the country was a "barbaric and illegal act", and boded ill for the future
of the continent.
"Nepad (the New Partnership for Africa's
Development) will stand no chance if a government such as Zimbabwe's
willingly disregards its own laws in this manner," Vavi
"The continent will go nowhere if its leaders can act with
impunity."The 15-strong Cosatu delegation was turned away on arrival in
Harare aboard an SAA flight, thus preventing a meeting with their Zimbabwean
The Independent understands that the ZCTU's top leadership
will instead meet with their Cosatu counterparts at Tshipise Aventura resort
outside Musina in Limpopo province.
"We do not require permission
from the Minister of Labour to hold discussions with our counterparts," Vavi
said, mentioning that there may be future demonstrations.
African Labour minister Membathisi Mdladlana said he had warned Cosatu that
they needed to follow the "proper procedures" in visiting Zimbabwe. But
Cosatu argued that freedom of movement and association were fundamental to
Food shortages reach critical levels Gift
Phiri FOOD shortages are approaching critical levels in parts of Zimbabwe,
raising the spectre of some voters starving to death before the
parliamentary poll in March, although authorities are still locked in
Children have been fainting in schools, pregnant women
miscarrying from malnutrition and people going for days without food,
reports say. Grain and cooking oil shortages prompted by severe drought,
endemic poverty and the state-sponsored invasion of commercial farms by
ruling party supporters are beginning to bite.
A report last week
by the US-funded Famine Early Warning Systems Network (Fewsnet), a food
security monitoring group, said 5,8 million of the country's 12,5 million
people will need food aid to avert starvation before the next harvest in
But the Zimbabwe government angrily denied the report this
week charging that the statement was part of efforts by the United States to
destabilise the country ahead of legislative polls by causing unnecessary
alarm over food stocks.Agriculture minister Joseph Made claimed 370 000
tonnes of grain was now being distributed by the state-controlled Grain
Marketing Board (GMB) to needy groups around the country and another 400 000
tonnes were being held as strategic food reserves. Some food, which he
called, "carry-over stocks ordered in 2003" was also being
The government insists Zimbabwe produced a bumper harvest
of 2,4 million tonnes of maize last year, much of it still being held in
private rural granaries by growers.The country consumes about 1,8 million
tonnes of maize a year, or 5 000 tonnes a day.Independent crop estimates and
World Food Programme boss James Morris have cast doubt over the government's
harvest figure, saying about one million tonnes of food was produced last
Made said this week the famine unit report was part of a
campaign by the United States to vilify the government's sullied agrarian
reform in which about 5 000 white-owned commercial farms were violently
grabbed for redistribution to blacks since 2000. Made described the
programme as "a resounding success" despite a worsening shortage of farm
equipment, fuel, seed and fertiliser.
"God has been smiling on us
and we are lucky that in the northern parts there were some good rains in
the last few days and crops are doing well," Made was reported as saying in
the official press.
The Zimbabwe Independent understands that the
staple maize crop has dropped by nearly 50%. The United Nations estimates
that about half a million of Zimbabwe's 12.5 million people are already
going dangerously hungry, and many of them are also angry - bad news for
Mugabe who blames the shortages on drought and grain hoarding by white
farmers intent on toppling him.
In the parched south, people have
accused the government of "playing with our lives".
supermarket in Mbare, a young woman with a baby on her back begs: "Please
buy me some food. Anything. I haven't eaten since yesterday."
the country, irritated people stand in long queues for hours for small
rations of maize, and police have had to calm unruly crowds.
economic spokesman for the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said the
situation was frightening.
"Food shortages are causing extreme
hardship across the board and across the country. The political implications
are profound. I would hate to run a campaign amidst a food crisis for which
there is no solution. Also, 'war vets' are leaving commercial farms in
droves, because their crops have failed for lack of water. Zanu PF's fast
track land reform - the heart of its programme - is collapsing. People are
blaming it for their hunger."
People are most at risk of starvation
in the south, west and far north of the country, naturally arid areas where
subsistence maize crops have shrivelled with the absence of rain for nearly
two months, in some areas. An estimated 2,7 million people in Masvingo and
Matabeleland - more than half of the population of those provinces - face
extreme hardship. New figures by food industry leaders, released to the
Independent, estimate a maize shortfall of 300 000 tonnes, and stocks to
deplete by February and March. In 2004-2005, there is forecast to be a
shortfall of more than a million tonnes.
Just three years ago,
Zimbabwe was the bread basket of southern Africa, fully self-sufficient in
basic foodstuffs with surpluses for export including maize, wheat and
soyabeans. The country supplied 25% of the world's flue-cured tobacco and 8%
of European horticulture imports. Now it is a large net food importer, and
wheat, tobacco production and horticultural output are down 25% to
Most serious is the 50% fall in maize. Because maize is in short
supply, demand for bread has soared. This is rapidly depleting wheat stocks,
which are expected to run out by June.
The WFP began distributing
imported food relief to 40 000 people in Matabeleland North recently. It
calculates that 19 of the country's 57 districts are at
"The situation could get rapidly worse," says the WFP in its
As the economy shrinks, companies close, jobs are lost and
132,7 % inflation erodes incomes and causes food prices to rocket. Even
where food is available, growing numbers of people cannot afford to eat in a
country where more than a third live below the poverty line, with less than
US$1 a day to meet their needs, according to the latest Human Development
The embattled ruling party has promised people in its
reelection campaign that nobody will starve, and that 200 000 tonnes of
maize are speeding their way towards Zimbabwe from South Africa. But the
food is not coming in anywhere near fast enough.
POLITICAL uncertainty before and after the March general election
will frustrate economic growth targets set by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
governor Gideon Gono in his monetary policy statement last week, analysts
say. They said Gono failed to highlight the importance of a peaceful
election in economic recovery, only saying that a "soul lost in this
election is a piston lost in the economic engine" of the country. The
analysts noted that a violent election would decelerate progress in the
economic recovery programme and upset bilateral and multilateral investment
agreements. Gono, the analysts argued, failed to speak authoritatively on
the importance of political stability, government bureaucracy, foreign
investment and quality of life which he spoke about in 1996. "Foreign
investment is absolutely necessary if countries are to grow, and in this
regard, southern African countries must spare no effort in attracting that
foreign investment if we are to make it," Gono told delegates to an
International Herald Tribune-sponsored southern Africa Trade and Investment
Summit on Zimbabwe in 1996. He then gave an 11-point checklist which he
said investors ideally looked for before committing their funds to any
particular region or country. The checklist included political stability,
economic strength and government policies as they relate to exchange
control. Analysts are also concerned that lack of clear investment policies,
and decisive action against unruly political elements will pose more
challenges to business this year than last year and hence disrupt major
investments as investors adopt a wait-and-see attitude. "Not much
progress will be done in the first half of the year as investors sit on the
fence wondering what could happen before and after the election," Zimbabwe
National Chamber of Commerce president Luxon Zembe said. "Unfortunately
people judge us on the basis of our past elections which have been marred by
violence. "A peaceful election is one of the critical factors if we are to
attain the set targets. Gono's economic intentions also need to be addressed
at the political level to succeed," Zembe said. In his policy statement,
Gono said some Bilateral Investment Protection Agreements (Bipas) were
caught up in the fast track phase of the land reform programme, and Zembe
said this would also affect foreign direct investment which the economy
desperately needed. He said private property and property rights were
"sacrosanct" and welcomed the settling up last year of an inter-ministerial
taskforce to make sure these were observed. Economist John Robertson
said: "The governor is cautiously admitting that the land reform programme
has not been successful and that the restoration of property rights has
become important but there is need for clear action on the government's
attempts to restore property rights." Gono, who wants to reclaim Zimbabwe's
glory of yesteryear, has set ambitious targets for economic growth, foreign
currency generation and inflation. For all major competitive export
categories, Gono has set "stretch" targets chasing the 1996 foreign currency
generation levels of US$3,9 billion. Gono targets official foreign currency
inflows of US$3,1 billion this year and US$3,9 billion in 2006. The
governor expects to "consolidate the gains made in 2004, and help government
to integrate macroeconomic policies across all sectors, so as to
successfully graduate our economy into its first year of positive growth
which is projected at between 3-5%, from a 30,7% cumulative decline over the
years 2001 to 2004". Gono also wants to reduce inflation to between
20-35% by year-end from the December rate of 132,7%. Agriculture is
expected to remain the backbone of the economy, contributing about 16,5% of
total output and as much as one third of total foreign exchange earnings.
The sector's output is projected to increase by 28% in 2005, following an
estimated decline of 3,3% in 2004. The sector has utilised about $1, 642
trillion or 57,1% of the total disbursements under the productive sector
facility, giving the sector considerable headroom to recover, according to
Gono. But sectoral output has declined by almost 50% since the start of the
land reform programme five years ago and analysts say the decline has
affected overall economic growth and foreign currency inflows. Gono
however explained that the attainment of this recovery was predicated on the
timeous availability of agricultural inputs, financing arrangements and
technical assistance to new farmers. He stressed that the programme requires
more "sweat, blood and toil". What he did not say though was how foreign
currency inflows reached the record levels in 1996. Tobacco inflows in 1996
were US$702 million compared to last year's US$185 million and a 2005 target
of US$250 million. Inflows from manufacturing in that year of glory were
US$740 million, while last year's inflows reached US$207 million.
Manufacturing is forecast to bring in US$306 million this year. Services
raked in US$1,7 billion in 1996 in stark contrast to a paltry US$84 million
in 2004 and the 2005 target of US$101 million while the diaspora brought in
US$1,1 billion in 1996. For the economy to operate fully, the country needs
monthly inflows of at least US$250 million or US$3 billion annually, but
last year only about US$2 billion flowed into the country. Analysts
question the wisdom of comparing 1996 figures and 2005 figures in nominal
terms without zeroing in on volume and economic factors prevailing during
the two periods. They say the targets are unrealistic. Opposition Movement
for Democratic Change secretary for economics, Tendai Biti, said: "Comparing
1996 foreign currency inflows with current inflows is not the best way to
underpin targets. For instance, $200 million in 1996 is equivalent to almost
$50 million now. The governor is making nominal comparisons which do not
take into account effects of inflation." The Zimbabwe dollar was trading at
around $10 against the US dollar in 1996 but has since depreciated to about
$8 000 on the black market and $6 200 on the RBZ's diaspora
rate. Inflation in 1996 was around 20% while annual expenditure was around
50% of GDP. Inflation in December 2004 was 133% and government expenditure
is at 82% of GDP. Gono's figures are also in contrast with other
professional forecasts for this year. For instance, Finhold expects GDP to
decelerate by minus 3,5% from last year's minus 6,4%. Zembe highlighted
that confusion in the mining industry raises alarm. "Investors are not sure
of government's intentions especially with regards to terms of foreign
participation in the mining sector. Policy consistency is key in achieving
economic revival." He said it would not be possible to achieve such ambitious
levels of production when capacity utilisation in manufacturing sector was
around 50%. "If we are to export more, capacity utilisation will need to be
trebled." He added that international relations must be restored to increase
direct foreign investment. Robertson said the governor's inflation
targets were not supported by his plans on the funding of parastatals and
local authorities to the tune of $10 trillion. The $10 trillion windfall
to parastatals and local authorities under the 18-24-month Parastatal and
Local Authorities Reorientation Programme (Plarp) is three times more than
government's domestic debt of almost $3 billion, according to
Robertson. Gono said under this programme, the RBZ would issue medium to
long-term stock to raise seed funds amounting to $10 trillion, which will go
towards implementation of Plarp. He said that targeted outlays would
primarily be for the specific uplifting of worn-out public enterprise
capital, human resource rationalisation and development.
months of dithering and in some instances outright confusion, the MDC, as we
report today, will take part in the March 31 parliamentary
The decision by the party yesterday is of immense
significance even though it was largely expected that a "boycott" would not
hold. The MDC has kept the electorate guessing since August when it suspended
participation in all polls, saying government had to put in place measures
that ensured the opening up of political space for the opposition in line
with the Mauritius protocol.
Cynics would ask the MDC what has
changed since August? Have their demands been met? The simple answer is
there has been little movement in the political logjam. The MDC's demands -
much the same as those of Sadc - have remained largely unmet despite shrill
cries of compliance from the government media. This week civic groups put out
a damning report documenting Zanu PF's record of non-compliance with the
Grande Baie protocol. The well-documented instruments of coercion employed
by the state to good effect against opponents have remained in place. This
includes security laws and curbs on civil society and the media. While the
Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has been appointed, ostensibly to run the
election, the new commissioners have been subordinated to existing
institutions such as the Registrar-General's office and the Electoral
Supervisory Commission, whose record in the conduct of elections is tainted
by allegations of abetting fraud.
So if the MDC had stuck to its guns,
participation in the election would have been out of the question. However,
there is another side to this coin. While political reforms and repeal or
amendment of retrogressive laws may not happen before the poll, the MDC's
decision to suspend participation had the positive effect of focusing
international attention on Zimbabwe's conduct of elections.
whose foreign policy is firmly hinged on ringfencing Mugabe against mounting
international condemnation, has been keen to advertise the country's
newfound status as "compliant" with best practice.
self-congratulatory mantras are not good enough. There were no international
observers to monitor voter registration and the drafting of the voters'
roll. We expect Sadc monitors and others from "friendly" countries to be
parachuted in on the eve of the poll only to declare that there was nothing
amiss in the conduct of the election. But it won't wash this time. The
world is watching and Thabo Mbeki will be the first to appreciate that
Sadc's credibility is on the line.
The international pressure on
Mugabe has without doubt played a part in swaying the MDC to get into the
race, albeit with very little time to campaign and sell itself to the
electorate as the next government. This could prove to be the undoing of the
party during the rough-and-tumble contest which starts at the weekend when
Zanu PF launches its campaign. Zanu PF mandarins taking the podium to woo the
electorate will portray the MDC as an indecisive party which could not make
up its mind on whether to participate or not.
Although Mugabe has
preached the gospel of a violence-free poll with the passion of a saint, his
party has a record of vicious coercion. It would be naïve for the MDC to
believe that the youth militia will be restrained in their camps and that
hoodlums brought up on a diet of hate and aggression will lift the ban
imposed on the opposition in places like Mashonaland Central. Nor should it
expect unfettered and balanced coverage by the state media which has been
thoroughly corrupted by ministerial manipulation. Participation is a leap of
faith. The odds are in Zanu PF's favour. It is the party in office and is
therefore in charge of organising and refereeing the race.
resources are already being mobilised to put the Zanu PF programme in
motion. The presidential helicopter will be in the sky almost on a daily
basis starting next week as Mugabe reaches out to the rural electorate - at
public expense. Religious charlatans and pseudo-Christian groups have been
harnessed to campaign for Zanu PF from the pulpit while traditional leaders
have been suborned with motor vehicles and electricity. Then there is the
willing state media to carry saturation advertising of Zanu PF's
We believe by participating in the election, the MDC has a
counter plan to this all-encompassing strategy.
IT was inevitable that, as with his previous four statements on
monetary policy, some would welcome Dr Gideon Gono's pronouncements in his
2005 Monetary Policy Statement and his 4th Quarter, 2004 Monetary Policy
Review, some would be disappointed in their expectations not being fulfilled,
whether wholly or partially, and yet others would be scathingly
critical. It is impossible to please all the people all of the time, and
others even some of the time. It was also inevitable, although very
regrettable, that some would focus on his statements solely from a point of
view of attaining maximised political advantage. In that respect, the ruling
party and the principal opposition party are equally at fault, and they both
chose the Reserve Bank governor's latest statement as ideal ammunition with
which to denigrate the other or to elevate themselves with the
The ruling party's propagandists unhesitatingly lay claim to
the credit for the very significant reduction in the year-on-year rate of
inflation from its all-time high of 622,8% in January 2004 to 132,7% in
December 2004. In reality, the only minimal contribution to the containment
of inflation as can be attributed to government is that it had somewhat
greater fiscal discipline in 2004 than in prior years, and hence did not
recurrently overdraw massively with the Reserve Bank (although to no small
extent it did so at the expense of the private sector by resorting to
prolonged delays in effecting refunds of Value Added Tax, Income Tax and
Customs Duties). Beyond that, government did naught constructive to contain
inflation, and in fact may well prove to be the root cause of a possible
upturn in inflation rates in 2005. That upturn may well arise due to an
undoubted need to import quantities of food as, with its disastrous
implementation of the land reform programme, Zimbabwe has lost its
self-sufficiency in food and, as government arrogantly advised donors that
food aid would not be required, Zimbabwe may well have to fund much of the
very necessary imports, at great cost, with consequential inflationary
Government has also contributed to inflation with the magnitude
of non-performance related increments for the public service, and its
largesse to chiefs and headmen in order to motivate support in the
forthcoming elections. The reality is that the most impressive decline in
inflation was almost wholly achieved by the Reserve Bank, although at very
great cost. The principal vehicle for inflation reduction was exchange rate
containment, but that did repercuss very negatively upon the export sector,
which lost price competitiveness in export markets as production cost
increases were not adequately compensated for by exchange rate movements and
export incentives (inclusive of concessional financing
Other avenues traversed by the Reserve Bank in its vigorous
endeavours to contain inflation were to pursue interest rate reductions on
bank financing of commerce and industry, and pressure upon parastatals to
cease quenching their ravenous hunger for revenues by excessive increases in
charges. Despite the Reserve Bank's commendable efforts in that direction,
some of the parastatals irresponsibly increased their tariffs or charges to
unjustifiably excessive levels, failing which inflation may well have fallen
further, and exporters could more readily have achieved
Thus, in all material respects, government was not an
instrument in the significant reduction of inflation, and its endeavours to
claim credit for that reduction is spurious, being almost totally without
justification. That is especially so as, were it not for government,
inflation may well have fallen further. However, the criticisms and attacks
by the opposition are equally uncalled for. Its spokesman has alleged that
the 2005 monetary policies are structured as an election device for the
benefit of the ruling party. Were that the case, surely the governor of the
Reserve Bank would not have attacked the government's sacred cow, being its
programme for acquisition, redistribution and resettlement of, and on the
In no uncertain terms the governor criticised the acquisition of
farms protected by bilateral investment agreements. He emphasised that
Zimbabwe needs "to honour and respect bilateral, as well as multilateral
international investment protection agreements", and welcomed measures to
ensure " that the sacrosanct nature of private property and property rights
is observed across all sectors of the economy, in conformity with best
standards and international agreements". Similarly, it defies credibility
to accept that the statement was election-driven when regard is given to his
outspoken criticism of government's other sacred cows - the parastatals. So
forthright was he that the five ministers present at the presentation of the
statement nearly turned white with shock. Government has for all too long
regarded the parastatals as its untouchables, reversing itself on its
previous repeatedly declared intentions to privatise them. But,
disregarding their "protected" status, Gono stated categorically that: "a
fishbone analysis that tracks the routing of the veins and tentacles of
parastatals and local authorities in the wider economy clearly shows that
for the country to elevate economic performance to the envisioned levels,
these entities need to be radically "de-clogged" to hive off structural
rigidities in their operations.
He stressed that "radical
restructuring and re-orientation of the country's parastatal... sector is an
indispensable prerequisite for achievement of the objectives of the monetary
policy." He certainly did not mince his words, for in no uncertain terms he
accused the parastatals of "operational inefficiencies and generally
In that regard, he noted "with grave concern that
key institutions that ought to be at the centre of co-ordinating and
building productivity capacities in agriculture, such as Arda, DDF, Arex and
GMB, among others, are following a splintered approach that threatens to
undermine achievement of targeted positive overall GDP growth", and he
called for radical transformation. Attacking such governmental entities is
surely not a sound strategy to influence the electorate to favour the party
which comprises the government that is possessed of such mismanaged
and ineffectual, counter-productive parastatals?
So determined were
some to belittle the statement and to perceive it as being an election ploy,
that they even implied that its delivery had been intentionally delayed,
with barbed insinuations that the delay was driven by sinister
electioneering motives. The reality is that the 3rd Quarter Monetary Policy
Review was on October 26 2004, and the now maligned recent statement was on
January 26 2005. So it was no later than the predecessor statement and, in
fact, all statements since the governor came into office were in the
second-half of the month following upon quarter's end.
PATIENCE Nyangove of the Herald recently had an inconvenient
encounter with the real ZRP. She said she was picked up outside Queen
Elizabeth nightclub around midnight and accused of "loitering for purposes
of prostitution". She claimed to have been sitting on the pavement outside
the nightclub with a colleague when she was picked up by a plain clothes
policeman. If she got into the city centre at 11:30pm, then proceeded to
Herald House as she asserts, that means by the time she got to the nightclub
on Julius Nyerere Way and Robert Mugabe Road it was well after
She spent "some minutes in the nightclub" before deciding to go
and sit outside. She doesn't say what time it was by then. But that is
when a ZRP officer allegedly pounced and dragged her by the collar to Harare
Central. Attempts to plead her innocence were met with verbal abuse, she
says. Her explanation that she was coming from a late assignment did not
help. Not even her press card. She was told the fact that she worked for the
Herald was no insurance against arbitrary arrest.
experience is only one in a myriad of other cases whereby women are
wrongfully arrested and traumatised for alleged loitering for the purpose of
prostitution by some ignorant and rogue police officers," protested Patience
in the Herald on Saturday. Considering the time we are dealing with, we beg
the right to suspend belief. It will take some serious persuading for
Muckraker to buy Patience's alibi that she was still waiting for transport
in that seedy part of town well after midnight.
At least she now
knows a thing or two about the breakdown of the rule of law that other human
rights campaigners have had to endure at the hands of a repressive police
force that has become a law unto itself. Far more important is the fact that
the state media always want to proclaim that such and such a law has been
broken when perceived enemies of the state are arrested. Shouldn't she be
praising the police for doing their duty against women who break the law on
prostitution? Are they "rogue police officers" only when state media
reporters are inconvenienced during their nocturnal trysts?
the Herald carried a great story appropriately headlined "Harare hospital in
intensive care". In short this is what the story said: five of the elevators
have broken down, toilets and sinks are blocked, the ceiling is leaking,
laboratory equipment and anaesthetic machines are not functioning while
incubators and dialysis machines are out of order. One wonders why it is
still called a hospital at all. We also wonder who the scapegoat is going to
be for the collapse of the institution? Shouldn't that make us sober as we
reflect on the country's silver jubilee instead of the sanitised reports we
read of Zimbabwe's unparalleled achievements?
Nathaniel Manheru can
produce a shocker. This week he was angry that there was so much pressure
from within and outside the country for Zimbabwe to comply with Sadc
guidelines on the holding of democratic elections. He said there wasn't
similar pressure when Botswana, Mozambique and Malawi held their elections
last year. Then the shocking claim: "I happen to know that most of the
systems running elections in Sadc are fashioned after Zimbabwe's inimitable
Really? So why is government in such a hurry to be seen to be
democratising its electoral laws if they are already better than the Sadc
principles? Why is the state media always anxious to broadcast even the
tiniest tinkering that will show that it is complying with the Mauritius
terms? Manheru's anger appears to have been sparked by reports that there was
a Sadc troika coming into the country to check on compliance and he wants to
know why the team didn't go to Botswana or Mozambique.
answer to Manheru's puzzlement is that Zimbabwe is a known rogue state that
has never complied with its own laws when it comes to elections. It has a
shocking record of violence, which is why it has become a pariah state.
There are also fatuous claims that the country is democratic because it has
the biggest opposition in parliament in the region. What Manheru refuses to
acknowledge is the MDC won the 57 seats despite the widespread violence and
electoral manipulation, not because the country is democratic.
Why is the
opposition being denied access to the state media which is publicly funded?
Why are Zimbabweans in the Diaspora being denied the right to vote when
government is keen to lay its dirty hands on every pound sterling or US
dollar earned overseas? How cynical can one get?
Holdings has joined the civilised world. Whether this will have a civilising
effect on the station remains to be seen. It is now available on channel 104
of DStv. According to state media reports, joining DStv will enable Zimbabwe
television to broadcast clearer pictures and to reach a wider audience
across the country. We wonder who this wider audience craving to watch Hondo
Yeminda is. And how many Zimbabweans who can afford DStv subscriptions still
bother to listen to or watch ZBH propaganda? Is it true that viewership is
confined to Zimbabwe? Surely, why would those already enjoying free Botswana
television reception revert to vapid Zanu PF falsehoods?
Hondo Yeminda, Zanu PF is launching its election campaign tomorrow. The
centrepiece of the campaign will be the same hate theme against British
prime minister Tony Blair. The party's national commissar Elliot Manyika
will be the centre of attraction at the launch in Harare with his
hate-filled Nora that fuelled the orgy of violence during the 2000 and 2002
elections. In addition to Nora that became the theme song at the party's
nightly torture bases across the country, he has added more songs. One of
them calls on the people of Zimbabwe (read Zanu militia and war veterans) to
"vanquish the enemy". The song Musha Unemabhunu is clearly intended to
incite violence against MDC supporters who allegedly work in cahoots with
Tony Blair. The long and short of it is that Zanu PF has not abandoned its
violence. While in public they want to give the outside world the impression
that they are reforming and complying with Sadc protocols on the holding of
democratic elections, there is no such thing on the ground. If proof were
ever needed of this violent tradition, nothing gives away the trick better
than Manyika's album which will be given saturation airplay.
understand why the likes of Nathaniel Manheru are nervous about Sadc's
troika that is visiting Zimbabwe to verify compliance with the Grande Baie
protocols. There is simply no intention to ensure the election in March
"reflects the will of the people". That Sadc troika, if it does its job,
should attend Zanu PF's campaign launch and assess whether there is any need
for the opposition to give a patina of legitimacy to a criminal
Lovemore Mataire's Candid Brief in The Voice made interesting
reading this week. Headlined pompously "Why young people like us support
Zanu PF", Mataire claimed the MDC was a "retrogressive force" while Zanu PF
represented the "new thinking in terms of economic development" which is
being adopted by other African countries as a model. Needless to say no such
country could be found on the African map - not even Namibia despite Sam
Nujoma's embarrassing and shameless antics at the world summit in
Johannesburg two years ago.
Then we were treated to some overweening
and infantile political orientation. He said he supported Zanu PF for
"personal and ideological" reasons. "My mother and father were combatants
of the liberation struggle and I was the product of their courtship at
Chimoio camp in Mozambique," explained Mataire naively as if that makes him
a war veteran.
Is Mataire saying the liberation war was won in
Mozambique? Is he saying being a refugee in Mozambique gives him special
privilege over those who participated in the war here without running away
to some refugee camp outside the country? We all know the role of a party
mouthpiece, and Mataire should stick to the party brief. We are not
interested in his trite history.
'US steps up anti-Zim campaign," the
Herald proclaimed on Monday. The US had intensified efforts to destabilise
Zimbabwe ahead of the March election, we were told.
And how was this
nefarious strategy to be fulfilled? By warning of food shortages, it would
appear! The claims were made by Joseph Made who, one would have thought, the
Herald would have avoided quoting at length given his poor credibility
record after a series of misleading food forecasts in the past. The public
might well prove sceptical about any declaration emanating from such an
unreliable source, a sensible editor would have concluded.
the Herald went on to quote the minister at length as he tried to joke about
Condoleezza's Rice's name (Dr Mupunga), claim that Zimbabwe was the victim
of a campaign of vilification, and in the same breath suggest all this stems
from the ruling party's anti-Blair campaign. "The claims from the West are
simply because we have embarked on an anti-Blair campaign for our elections
and they can see the land is in our hands," Dr Mad Made said. So the
vilification is aimed at the British prime minister? And land is in the
hands of ministers?
This is all useful to know. As for the claim that
"God has been smiling on us and.the land reform is a resounding success",
that is not what was said at the Zanu PF congress when Made gave his report.
Ask Cde Chikowore!
Just when you thought the police might be addressing
concerns about their independence and professionalism by avoiding political
statements, Deputy Commissioner Levy Sibanda comes to the rescue with a
pronouncement that removes any doubt as to where the police
stand. Speaking at a belated end-of-year party in Masvingo, he castigated the
UK and US for giving refuge to fugitive businessmen. "Ironically, only a few
days back the UK acknowledged that there is no evidence of political
persecution in Zimbabwe and this only goes to show how desperate the UK has
become always shifting goalposts and imposing immoral sanctions against our
leaders under the guise that there is no rule of law in Zimbabwe." Perhaps
it should be spelt out for the deputy commissioner that in a society
governed by the rule of law, those upholding the law should be seen as
independent of partisan politics. That means avoiding the repetition of the
ruling party's childish claims about Britain and the United
He should also understand that politicians who manipulate
elections or employ violence as an electoral tool are likely to find
themselves isolated on the world stage, even if they have more recently
renounced violence. Furthermore, foreign governments won't cooperate in the
return of "fugitives" where they see the police as partisan, detention
without trial as routine, and the courts as suborned.
amused to hear of a recent incident involving a minister and one of his
media minions. Apparently, sensing the minister's receding authority, the
minion, an important figure in his own right, proved reluctant to attend one
of his boss's endless policy meetings aimed at ensuring everybody sings on
message. The minion sent a little message of his own to another senior
official expressing relief when the meeting was cancelled. But it was then
suddenly revived and the minion was embarrassed to be reminded by the
minister that, despite his recent setbacks, he was still master of all he
surveyed in his ministry with the power to hire and fire! The minion's
text messages had been going straight to the minister's mobile instead of to
the intended recipient. There is perhaps another message here. When next
hiring key officials, the minister should at least ensure they are
Tourism masterplan out Godfrey
Marawanyika GOVERNMENT has come up with an empowerment plan that will see the
tourism industry opening up to more indigenous players, businessdigest can
The new indigenous players will be guaranteed financial
assistance from government.
The plan is contained in a policy
document by the Ministry of Environment and Tourism titled, "National
Tourism Policy: Government of Zimbabwe".
The draft document says that
the development of tourism will be based on four broad policy objectives -
environmental, economic, social/cultural and organisational.
tourism plan comes hard on the heels of another policy by government which
seeks to increase indigenous participation in the mining
"In line with the national government policy of
indigenisation, this policy seeks to open the tourism industry to the
participation of the majority of Zimbabweans, bearing in mind the high entry
costs particularly for the hospitality sector," the policy plan
"The government of Zimbabwe will facilitate access of tourism
resources to the majority through land leases, permits and financial
resources. The government will develop and implement capacity building
programmes for local communities and local investors," it
The document notes that the country's tourism sector has grown
on the guiding principle of "high value low volume" tourism, catering for a
small segment of the market and heavily dependent on traditional
Under the new plan, government expects to get support from the
Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, Parks and Wildlife Management Authority, Air
Zimbabwe, the private sector and the media.
The plan aims for
"diversification and new initiatives towards making tourism the catalyst for
economic development. It will guide in opening up the sector to new source
markets, diversifying the product base and encourage participation by the
majority of Zimbabweans."
According to the plan, Air Zimbabwe would
be allowed to privatise.
"The national airline offers access from source
markets and to local destinations," the document says.
"It is a
vital link towards the development of tourism. To achieve this, the airline
should be encouraged to fly to those markets targeted by the local industry
and to the local destinations within Zimbabwe". It should be "encouraged to
form strategic alliances with other global players in the aviation industry.
It should be allowed to privatise and run autonomously."
are expected to take a lead in the protection of the natural habitat and
wildlife in the safari areas and the facilities, and opportunities given to
the public for camping, hunting, fishing, photography and the viewing of
Last month National Parks hiked wildlife and operation
leases by between 350% and 850%, a move which could force a number of
operators out of business.
The department is now demanding an
annual rental of between $36 million and $85 million.
of visitors coming into the country has been on the decrease over the past
five years, negatively impacting on safari operators.
and September 2004 tourist arrivals slumped by 29%.
A total of 1 271
904 tourists visited Zimbabwe, representing a 29% decrease compared to 1 793
128 during the same period in 2003.
Under the plan, government says
priority will be given to tourist projects that benefit local communities
and ensure environmental protection.
The masterplan says that as part
of accounting for funds generated by tourism, government will develop
tourism satellite accounts in association with Central Statistical Office so
that this revenue is reflected in national accounts.
says government will lease out state land with "high tourism potential to
"The government will establish tourism financial
mechanisms so as to facilitate the meaningful participation of the local
Falgold on brink of closure Roadwin Chirara/Ndamu
Sandu GOLD producer Falcon Gold (Falgold) says viability problems will force
it to shut down all its mining operations in Zimbabwe despite the gold price
review announced last week by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).
governor Gideon Gono last week reviewed the price of gold to $130 000 per
gramme, up from last year's $92 000 after serious lobbying from the mining
Gono said producers who wanted to retain part of their gold
proceeds in foreign currency would sell 60% at the going support price, and
40% at the international gold price and retain the foreign exchange proceeds
in their foreign currency accounts (FCAs).
But Falgold said the
price increase made last week was still not enough to keep their mines
Falgold's financial director, Garry Perotti, told
businessdigest this week that the company could shut down in the next six
months if the situation does not improve.
"Looking at figures, it
does not look good for the company, we might have to close down. I do not
think the company will still be operating by the next monetary policy
review," said Perotti.
He said high operational costs continued to
erode the company's revenue. Perotti said the cost of electricity and labour
had increased significantly.
He said the new minimum wage for the
industry, currently pegged at $735 000 per month was too
The new wage structure had to be backdated to April. A 33%
increase was awarded from April 1, another 33% awarded from July 1 and a
further 53% increase was awarded from October 1.
Falgold had made representations to the Chamber of Mines on its current
operational problems and had recommended a price adjustment in an effort to
break even. He said the company was currently looking at raising the $4,7
billion which is required for operational costs this year.
situation has been worsened after potential offshore investors refused to
inject more funds to save the company. The investors cited the high risk
associated with the sector.
"The lack of investor confidence is
worsening the situation as investors are not willing to invest because of
the uncertainty on their investments," Perotti said.
Perotti said, was currently mining low-grade ore because of the lack of
funds to mine deeper where higher grades of ore are found.
our operating finance from the mines and if the qualities from the mines
remain low, then really the situation is one where we have to take the only
appropriate action," said Perotti.
Founded in 1991, Falgold operates
Dalny Mine (Chakari), Venice Mine (Kadoma) and Golden Quarry &
Camperdown Tribute (Shurugwi).
Monetary policy review - too early to say . By Admire
Mavolwane LAST Wednesday's statement turned out to be the proverbial fuel to
an already raging fire. Since then the stock market has gained 31%, this
despite weakening by 31 150,88 points this Wednesday to close at 2 125
The cut in the bank rate from 110% to 95% for secured
lending, and further reductions being envisaged that by June 1 2005 should
see the main rate in the country at 70%, left investors with no option but
to switch from the money market into shares.
The governor dangled
an even bigger carrot, with those non-horticultural companies acquitting
their CD1s within 90 days retaining 70% in their FCA and liquidating the
balance at the full auction rate. Horticulture's carrot was a bit smaller at
45 days. The stick remained at 10% at $824 after 90 days. In effect the
stick part of the scheme has been deleted from the equation.
immediate impact of this initiative is to increase companies export revenues
by 9,5%.With the virtual abolition of the $824 exchange rate, the focus then
shifted to exporting counters Cottco, Tanganda, Ariston and Interfresh which
gained 60%, 42%, 36%, and 28%, respectively.
Few captains of
industry, however, have either the time or the inclination to read the whole
of a 210-page document containing nearly 100 separate items with 3 annexures
giving information on 10 troubled banks and lists of over 120 contributors
or advisors to the statement. Even fewer are likely to devote their
attention to the details of exchange control administration directives or
production targets and extortions on improving efficiency, particularly when
they related primarily to the public sector and local
The area to examine for what practical implications
the statement has for the conduct of business are thus likely to be
delegated to specialists and advisors so that it will be some time before
the contents of such a massive work will be fully digested.
may, admittedly, be to the disadvantage of some enterprises or individual
firms in some sectors but it suggests that the Governor does not do himself
any favours by attempting to cover so much territory at one time. His
efforts may therefore fall short of his very lofty expectations for
promoting a speedy economic turnaround.
Narrowing down the
analysis to manageable proportions, so as to facilitate concentration upon
what can be gathered about the three generally accepted concerns of monetary
policy, namely, money supply, interest and exchange rates, initial reaction
must be that little has in fact been changed despite the massive commentary
represented by the January statement.
With regard to money supply, the
basic objective is to reduce annual broad money (M3) growth from an
estimated 150% in December 2004 to 60% by mid - 2005. Since most people
believe, with varying degrees of conviction, that the rate of growth in
money supply has a bearing on inflation the Governor's proposals in this
respect will be generally welcome.
A degree of uneasiness, however,
creeps in once the likely extent of public sector spending growth in 2005 is
taken into account. Spending in terms of Parastatal and Local Authorities
Reorientation Programme (Plarp); increases in civil service remuneration;
budget tax concessions; quasi fiscal support for selected exporters; the
establishment of the Zimbabwe Allied Banking Group; the Productive Sector
Facility and the facility proposed through the agency of the Energy, Housing
and Infrastructure Development Bank together constitute an additional $23-25
trillion expansion in spending this year.
This is considerably more
than the $19 trillion increased expenditure proposed in the budget estimates
suggesting that the true budget deficit will be much more than double the 5%
of GDP envisaged. This looks hardly likely to reduce money supply growth or
The projected over 30% reduction in the structure of
interest rates, while undoubtedly welcome to borrowers and spenders is
unlikely to reverse the shift of resources from investment to consumption
and will also boost money supply growth which cannot all be neutralised
through statutory reserve payments or open market operations without
negating the whole purpose of the reduction in rates.
arithmetical case can be advanced for an "exporter friendly" exchange rate
of 595% in 2005 the indicated extent of the decline in inflation is
increasingly questioned by professionals and at variance with a growing body
of empirical evidence which suggests that even export sector profitability
has not been growing at anything like that rate in real terms and that the
viability of the non exporter and public sectors is increasingly being
The situation cannot be held together indefinitely by the
extension of what are in fact even more multiple exchange rates - this time
to platinum producers - without introducing even more distortions in
resource allocation inimical to the effective workings of the economy as a
Dear Ms Makwavarara TO say that I am disappointed
with your ability to deliver as mayoress of Harare would be too expectant of
your capabilities. I have always doubted your aptitude to lead the capital
whether as mayoress or chairperson of that patently improper commission you
However, even if many share my sentiments about your
ineffectiveness, you at least have to do something to justify your presence
at Town House.
Dr Gideon Gono, to remind you, is still in
Father Christmas mode and last week he released a plan to ensure that Harare
and other local authorities receive cheap financing from the central
You might be aware that Harare is entitled to $200
billion out of the $1 trillion availed to local authorities countrywide.
Gono believes that the money would help councils, including Harare, overcome
a number of handicaps they face.
Gono, in his Comprehensive
Programme for Municipal Reform, interestingly identifies the role of local
authorities in sabotaging national recovery efforts.
".operational inefficiencies and rigidities inherent in municipalities,
mainly as a result of accumulation of debt obligations and inadequate
strategic programme design and execution, stand as a significant hurdle to
smooth transmission of fiscal, structural and monetary policies to the
corporate and household sectors," his RBZ programme document
Gono has hit the nail on the head. What stands as a
"significant hurdle" to service delivery in Harare at the moment is the
"inadequate strategic programme design and execution" by the team of
commissioners which you currently lead. It is not exactly your fault because
Harare, unlike Bulawayo, does not have a tradition of adequate service
delivery. I do not therefore expect you to do any better. Records at your
office, I am sure, are replete with details on the failure of the Chanakira
Commission and the administration of the late Solomon Tawengwa. Your
performance to date belongs to the same files.
Am I being
unfair here? Perchance there are remarkable achievements to your credit
since your largely expected defection from the MDC to join Zanu PF where you
are now couched in the arms of Central Committee heavyweights. The perks
include a farm and chairmanship of the commission.
As far as I
am concerned, you, together with town clerk Nomutsa Chideya, were not handed
a poisoned chalice by the previous administration. You willingly partook in
the brewing of the bitter concoction in the cup. I understand that you had a
hand in kicking out elected executive mayor Elias Mudzuri because he did not
dance to Minister Ignatious Chombo's discordant tune. Is it called Don't
Listen To Ratepayers? Whatever it is called, you have mastered the dance
routines with stunning agility.
All this however is supremely
unimpressive. Your most notable achievement to date, if I may say, is the
towing away of double-parked vehicles in city centre streets and the
extortionate penalties your administration is demanding before releasing the
vehicles back to their owners.
Otherwise all I see is that
the rubbish piles in high-density areas have grown into mountains. I propose
naming a notorious one at the vegetable market in Mbare Mt Makwavarara in
What has happened to refuse collection? Your
official excuse has been shortage of diesel, which is currently plentiful.
Let's hear the next excuse please.
Close to Mt M, emergent
entrepreneurs sell fresh meat along Ardbennie Road. City by-laws forbid
this, I believe. You would rather not deal with this potential health hazard
but tow away vehicles. That's conventional wisdom.
dedicating Mt M and shopping at the street-side butcheries, please visit the
footbridge spanning Julius Nyerere Way. Could you please find out why the
public no longer use the bridge. Take Joseph Chinotimba with you since he is
experienced in visiting allyways which have been turned into public toilets.
His experience in Glen Norah would be invaluable. It's next to your office
so the Merc can stay in the car park.
The potholes on our roads
are bad enough but your workers must not add to the already existing danger.
Could you please advise council workers that when they dig a hole in the
middle of the road, they should not leave the scene without either covering
the hole or putting in place proper detour signs. I was last weekend nearly
ensnared in a crater along Kenneth Kaunda Avenue opposite Farm &
I have also noticed that more and more robots at
intersections are not working. It gets worse when police who are supposed to
control traffic in those situations add to the confusion or simply give up.
Two cops in reflective clothing stood by the roadside the other day at the
corner of Seke and Cripps roads when the robots were malfunctioning. They
were only triggered to life by the passage of the presidential
The police are not your responsibility but who is
responsible for your dysfunctional equipment?
I am also
urging you to visit the council banking hall at Rowan Martin during month
ends when people are paying their rates and charges. Is it your policy that
cashiers should take long lunch breaks, leaving one or two officials to
attend to hundreds of people? Is this not an advertisement for
If it's not, please tell me what it is? I offer
this space for your response at your convenience. Let's see how long that
takes in coming.
Your disgruntled resident,
*PS: Repair the burst pipe along Wyatt Road in
Avondale West. It's been like that for over a year. What about gaping holes
on pavements in the city centre, laundry in First Street, tall grass in
suburbs, there was no water in Chadcombe.
Media stifled by harsh laws and thuggery By Gugulethu
Moyo BARELY one month into the New Year and with a general election looming,
it comes as no surprise that Zimbabwean president Robert Mugabe's first new
law of 2005 tightens the noose around the neck of the country's
Silencing opposition by passing undemocratic laws and unleashing
strongmen and thugs, particularly against journalists, is part of the
charter of the Mugabe government for remaining in
Amendments to the Orwellian Access to Information and
Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa), signed into law by Mugabe at the
beginning of the year, dictates that journalists who work without the
approval of a state-appointed media regulator can be imprisoned for two
years. Another law awaiting only the president's signature will introduce
jail sentences of up to 20 years for anyone convicted of communicating
ill-defined "falsehoods" deemed prejudicial to the state.
adjustments to the original Aippa 2002 legislation affirm the one immutable
constant of Zimbabwean journalism -- the Mugabe government will stop at
nothing to silence criticism. And those who dare to speak out against the
government will be punished.
In the three years I worked as legal
adviser to the now-banned Daily News, Zimbabwe's only independent daily
newspaper, journalists were charged with all manner of catch-all criminal
offences that were difficult to disprove but which were punishable by jail
terms under several oppressive laws - insulting the president; undermining
public confidence in state institutions; engaging in threatening and abusive
conduct; and inciting illegal demonstration.
The state persecuted
Daily News journalists and others by dragging out pre-trial processes for
months or even years. Those that were charged were charged purely in order
to frighten them - none were ever convicted under the aforementioned vague
However, these mechanisms of intimidation proved
inadequate for Mugabe's grander designs - the elimination of particular
independent newspapers and radio stations, or the redirection of their
It was to get over this problem that Mugabe had the
national assembly legislate Aippa in March 2002 as his most powerful and
Aippa effectively made the continued publication of
newspapers and the practice of journalism contingent on government
To obtain the legal right to practice as a journalist under
Aippa, an application must be submitted to a Media and Information
Commission - a regulatory body whose head is known in Zimbabwean media
circles as the "hatchet man" because of his allegiance to the ruling party
and his diligence in instituting the repressive policies of the
Under Aippa, three newspapers have been forced to close. These
include the Daily News, the country's most popular daily, which was read by
just under a tenth of Zimbabwe's 11,5 million population. Scores of
journalists have been forbidden the right to work lawfully under this
legislation and hundreds more have lost their jobs because of the newspaper
Aippa, together with the draconian Public Order and Security
Act, which limits the right of assembly and association, is a grotesque
mimicry of legislation, crafted by a government skilled in its use of the
law to pervert the law. These Acts negate the fundamental right to freedom
of expression and are devoid of the essential qualities deemed necessary to
make them law at all in most functioning democracies. They have
attractedworldwide condemnation from human rights organisations and media
Ironically, these are similar laws to those
used by Ian Smith during the Rhodesian era to oppress the liberation
movements and prevent people gaining independence from the colonial
However, all the harshest laws of the modern Zimbabwean state
fall short of silencing all journalists. The state therefore reverts
unashamedly to unlawful means when the law fails to silence its targets. In
May 2003, after the state failed to secure a conviction against foreign
correspondent Andrew Meldrum under Aippa, he was forcibly abducted and
deported with only the clothes he was wearing. Meldrum, an American, had
reported from Zimbabwe for 22 years for the London papers The Guardian and
The Observer. With Meldrum's removal, there were no foreign correspondents
left in Zimbabwe: all others had already been thrown out.
occasions in early 2004, police invaded the premises of the Daily News and
prevented its journalists from going to work.
From its launch in
March 1999, a watershed year for Zimbabwean politics when the opposition
Movement for Democratic Change was founded and quickly gained popular
support, the title was a thorn in the side of the Mugabe
While the state-controlled media increasingly propped up the
government, Daily News reporters sought out dissenting voices and by March
2000 sales had overtaken those of the Mugabe-approved newspapers. It was a
real rejection of propaganda by Zimbabweans.
intimidation and harassment started. The Daily News offices and printing
press were bombed in 2001 after the government's zealous Information
Minister Jonathan Moyo - known among journalists as "Mugabe's Goebbels" -
said the newspaper was "a threat to national security (and) had to be
silenced". Assassins were hired to kill - without success - editor Geoff
Thousands of newspapers were destroyed on the streets by
government supporters and vendors and readers were terrorised and assaulted.
One reader was murdered simply because he possessed a copy of the Daily
News. Police stood aside as all this happened.
If the government
did not like a story, journalists would be picked up and "persuaded" - often
violently -- to modify their views. Police would make the arrests without
knowing what the "suspects" were to be charged with. It really did not
matter, since there was a big raft of repressive legislation to choose
During my first week at work in 2002, the Daily News editor and
two journalists were arrested and charged with publishing a falsehood. They
were jailed for two days and faced two years' imprisonment, though never
convicted. Several weeks later, three Daily News staffers went to cover an
opposition rally to mark International Youth Day. They were beaten up,
dragged off to the police station and held for 48 hours while the
authorities decided on the charges. Eventually, a charge of engaging in
threatening and abusive conduct was settled on. The case was eventually
dismissed, but not before one of the journalists suffered a broken arm and
the other a broken finger at the hands of their captors.
also assaulted by the police. My crime? I was the lawyer for the Daily
The Daily News staff were incredibly courageous people.
They had a job to do and persevered, despite the constant terror under which
Many continue to operate in defiance of all the
Denied a licence by the Media and Information
Commission for daring to dispute the legitimacy of Aippa and other laws, the
newspaper has never been able to reopen, although a skeleton staff of about
15 remain and publish a Website report from outside the country. Court
challenges to Aippa are continuing, but if the Daily News is ever allowed to
publish again I cannot imagine many journalists will want to return to a
place that was the site of so much trauma.
Despite what is
happening, information still gets out of Zimbabwe. There are weekly
newspapers that continue to publish and, as best they can, criticise the
injustice they see around them. However, they reach a far smaller audience
than the Daily News did. Many former Daily News journalists have left the
country to set up, or write for, foreign-based publications, working to
expose human rights violations taking place in Zimbabwe, a service more
crucial than ever as elections approach.
The fact that people
continue to do this despite the danger, and despite the fact the government
still feels the need for further deterrent measures against the press, is to
me a sign of hope. As long as Mugabe and his followers feel threatened by
the written word there is hope.
*Gugulethu Moyo is a former legal
adviser to the Daily News and is now a media relations adviser for South
African Studies at the International Bar Association in London.
The corruption of Zimbabwe's value system By Chido
Makunike IN evaluating how we are doing as a country, the easiest parameters
of measurement are those we can put at least approximate numerical values
to. For instance, what the rate of inflation is today compared to a year ago
gives a rough guideline of one variable that is important to the quality of
But if there has been such a drastic drop in inflation as it is
said there has been in the last year, why is there no collective sense of
euphoria in the country? Why is the general "mood" of the country no better
now than a year ago when inflation was ten times today's
One obvious answer is that inflation is only one measure of how
a country is doing. Many of the other immeasurable parameters of the quality
of life have not changed for the betterment at all.
life" is a broad concept that encompasses far more than just economic
parameters, important as they are. So the general feeling about the decline
in inflation is relief at the return to a very relative "normality" in this
important but limited regard. But no one has any illusion that it means we
are anywhere near where we would like to be as a relatively normal,
peaceful, confident and hopeful society.
One way that is not
easily measurable of how in recent years we have strayed from many of the
things that were positive about Zimbabwe is the distortion of our value
system. For instance, we have gone through periods in this country where
violence was very much state policy against groups of citizens. This began
during the days of Rhodesia but there was a presumption that Independence
and majority rule would mean a "people's government" that would rule by a
higher standard and value system than the Rhodesian one. In the 1980s we had
the massacres in Matabeleland that the ruling authorities only grudgingly
admitted to having been " a sad chapter" many years later.
belated admission did not mean that those tactics had been learned from and
put behind us however! Just five years ago we again experienced a situation
where the government and its various arms sanctioned and instigated
widespread violence against certain groups of citizens.
to election season, 2005. Much has been made of how President Mugabe has
called for "zero-tolerance" of violence and for a peaceful poll. The rest of
the state machinery has dutifully taken up this call. But this is sending
very confusing signals to society.
Which is the real Mugabe? The one
who has previously boasted of his capacity for violence and sanctioned its
use against groups of citizens who disagreed with him as is their right, or
the now "peaceful" Mugabe who has sometimes been said to be a "devout"
Catholic? Has he seen the error of his ways in this regard and been "born
again", or is this just the latest in a long line of tactics to control,
confuse and oppress us? How does one reconcile the Mugabe who spews
frightening hate and inciteful invective against citizens merely exercising
their democratic rights when it suits him, but then the next minute switches
to playing the role of great peacemaker? What is the value system of the
president of the country, if any, and what effect does it have on the
Obviously the contradictions are too stark to be reconciled.
This blatant hypocrisy of the whole power structure in relation to the
citizenry and the mixed signals it sends out is what I mean when I say that
at an intuitive level, society realises that they are being manipulated.
There is plenty of evidence to justify their skepticism about how genuine
the calls for "peace" are. How can the man whose incitement of his
supporters and the organs of the state to violence have caused so much
dislocation, dispossession, impoverishment, rape and murder now attempt to
re-incarnate himself as a great peacemaker and expect to be taken seriously?
The fact that our fear of the president and his whole support structure
forces us to act as if we don't see these glaring incongruities is just one
of many ways in which we are a deeply abused and wounded
All this is part of what I mean when I say our basic value
system has been distorted and corrupted. We are a society abused by those
who should actually be protecting us! This cannot be changed overnight, nor
is it affected by how much inflation has gone down or how some other
economic parameter has improved.
We have recently seen a
predictable upsurge in the arrests of opposition party MPs and other
activists in the run-up to the election. Very often the charges against them
are so flimsy as to cause the arresting authorities to be viewed with
contempt by the public. Other times there are no charges even brought,
making it clear the intent of the arrests is pure harassment and
intimidation. And yet on the ruling party side we actually have aspiring
candidates whose main claim to fame has been their adeptness in recent years
at violence and intimidation on behalf of the government and the ruling
party. No charges are brought against them or their cases are simply not
processed, allowing them to act as if they are perfectly respectable members
There is not even an attempt to try to cover up these
obvious contradictions in the way rules are applied, perpetrated by the same
system we would normally hope to appeal to for fairness and reprieve from
abuse. What does it say about our value system when someone is jailed for
rape in one circumstance, but in another circumstance and time widespread
rape is considered a perfectly legitimate political tool, as was the case
around the time of the last general election?
Cases of thievery
are some of the most popular human-interest stories in the papers, and they
have clearly been on the upsurge in recent years. But what does it mean that
a bank teller, store clerk or security guard is jailed for theft when the
ruling authority admits that there is far bigger and widespread corruption
within its ranks? How then can we possibly have any respect for that ruling
*Chido Makunike is a regular Zimbabwe Independent
Disappointed by Biti's selective use of truth Denford
Magora I FIND I can not let Tendai Biti's article ("More self-congratulatory
lies", Zimbabwe Independent, January 28), stand.
The MDC secretary
for economics lays into the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Gideon
Gono, accusing him of unbridled personal ambition and lying. And, as we have
now come to expect from the MDC, the criticisms are neither substantiated by
fact nor backed with alternative policies to the ones that Biti is tearing
To start with, let us look at the growth forecasts that Biti
says are "fanciful". I am truly sick of the MDC embracing statistics when it
suits them and rejecting them when the truth appears inconvenient to the MDC
Let me remind Biti that last year the IMF forecast a GDP
growth rate of 5% for Zimbabwe. This is even more optimistic than the 3%
forecast by Gono.
Yet, Zimbabwe did not hear Biti accusing the IMF of
being a "functional acolyte" of the Zanu PF regime. The IMF did not base its
forecasts on the assumption that the MDC will assume power in 2005. In fact,
they made their forecasts on the assumption that it will be business as
usual in the Zanu PF sense in Zimbabwe.
More alarmingly, Biti
promotes a barefaced lie by stating that when Gono took office, inflation
was under 100% and Gono took it to 900% with his policies.
can a man who aspires to be a minister of finance in this country be so out
of touch with reality? Does he think we are stupid? Does he think we all
recently emigrated to Zimbabwe from some other land this year?
December 2003, inflation was NOT under 100%. If Biti thinks it was, then he
was leading a more comfortable life than the struggling MDC supporters he
wants to hoodwink.
The fact of the matter was that when Gono took
over at the RBZ, inflation was already approaching the 100% mark and the MDC
was hoping and praying for a complete meltdown. The fact that Gono rescued
the situation is actually cause for concern within the ranks of the MDC if
this half-baked article by Biti is anything to go by.
his friends in the executive of the MDC wanted to ride into power on the
back of a completely destroyed economy, that can be the only explanation for
the vitriol that he pours on Gono. Biti and the MDC argue that, but rescuing
the situation, Gono is propping up President Mugabe.
He may be, but
the more important result of Gono's passion is that he rescued the situation
for many ordinary Zimbabweans. Reality confirms this: commercial banks are
actually reducing their interest rates from a peak of around 900% when Gono
took over, to under 150% today. This is still unacceptably high, but it is
an improvement on the situation. The man in the street knows this and will
not be hoodwinked by Biti and his lies.
Then Biti jumps to the
defence of the banks that had developed a culture of impunity before Gono
cracked the whip. Although I agree that the way Gono dealt with the banking
crisis was neither transparent nor confidence-inspiring, it did achieve
When he came onto the scene, there were banks I know
personally that had a portfolio of close to 300 low-density houses in Harare
alone. I had witnessed a bank executive use depositors' funds to pay $900
million for a house whose asking price was $450 million. To a large extent,
this behaviour fuelled inflation. Gono, upon taking office declared
inflation Enemy Number One. If he was serious at all about reducing
inflation, he had to tackle the banks which were driving prices up
everywhere as part of their speculative activities.
Gono did not
precipitate the banking crisis as Biti states in his article. He simply
exposed it for all to see unless Biti is saying he was more comfortable with
the old regime where taxpayers' money was lent to these banks on a daily
basis with no questions asked.
The banking crisis was a result of
irresponsible banks finding that their speculative activities had run their
coffers dry. They then approached the RBZ for liquidity support and Gono,
very sensibly, put the proviso that no one should access public money unless
they could demonstrate that they were conducting business in the interests
of the nation and to the benefit of all its citizens.
banks that collapsed did not agree, they could simply have opted out of
liquidity support. Gono did not cause the liquidity crisis within our banks.
That's fact. But Biti thinks Zimbabweans are stupid.
I agree whole-heartedly with Biti. But I am afraid the tone of the rest of
his article makes one think that his very sensible comments on parastatals
are more of a case of Biti shooting wildly and hitting something by pure
chance rather than a case of deductive reasoning and passion for excellence
in our public enterprises.
The same applies to Biti's comments on the
Zimbabwe Amalgamated Banking Group (ZABG). Unless forced, no one is ever
going to willingly walk into a ZABG branch to open an account. People have
suffered for close to a year with their monies locked up, only to be forced
to become shareholders without even being consulted and the strength of
public animosity against the ZABG has been grossly underestimated by Gono
and his people. It is an exercise in futility that should just be left to
die a quiet death. But, all these valid points have been discredited by
Biti's selective use of the truth in his attempt to hoodwink
I repeat that I am extremely disappointed by this piece
of fiction from someone who hopes to become a minister of state, controlling
the fate of the economy. If he has problems with facts and the truth now,
what will happen when he gets into power?
RETIRED General Vitalis Zvinavashe's
nephew William, was evicted on Wednesday from Turnpike properties in a
bitter ownership dispute that has been raging for more than three
years. Recently, the Supreme Court struck off its register Zvinavashe's
appeal against a June 2004 High Court ruling, which blamed him for
improperly acquiring the properties from owners Kenneth Greebe and his wife
Sheila in 2002. The takeover deal was concluded when the Greebes wanted
to retire to South Africa. The Greebes contend that they received no
payment for the properties that include Turnpike Service Station and a
lakeside mansion overlooking Lake Chivero, while Zvinavashe maintained he
paid his dues. The highest court on the land threw out his appeal on January
24, on the grounds that his heads of arguments had not been submitted within
the stipulated 15 days. A subsequent application in the High Court last
week seeking to stop his eviction was also thrown out because the higher
court had struck off the matter. Yesterday, Zvinavashe's lawyer, Aston
Musunga of Musunga and Associates admitted the eviction was within the
parameters of the law, but noted that they had applied to the Supreme Court
to reinstate his client's appeal. He explained that he did not personally
work on the case, because Zvinavashe had instructed another advocate to do
it. "We acted professionally on the matter, but the eviction was within the
law," said Musunga. He exonerated his law firm from Zvinavashe's loss
saying the latter switched lawyers, and they only took over his case well
after the deadline for submission of the heads of arguments. However, in
the Supreme Court appeal on January 26, Zvinavashe said he delayed to file
the papers because of problems in getting the evidence that he indeed paid
for the properties. "I experienced problems in getting the further evidence
which the applicants had been informed was essential to proving our case in
the form of proof. This application in the main is for reinstatement of the
appeal which was struck off the roll on January 24 2005 for the non-timeous
filing of substantive heads in the appeal," reads part of Zvinavashe's
founding affidavit. Zvinavashe also cited the lack of ample time to
submit the same evidence in the appeal. Greebe's lawyer, Jonathan
Samkange of Byron and Venturas could not be reached as he was said to be out
of the county.
From Our Correpodent in
Mutare issue date :2005-Feb-04
THE future of the MDC-led Mutare City
Council is uncertain after the Ministry of Local Government, Public Works
and National Housing started probing the municipality for alleged
maladministration. David Munyoro, the ministry of local government secretary,
last week appointed a four member team to carry out an administrative
systems audit of the beleaguered council following recommendations by
Manicaland provincial administrator, Fungai Mbetsa to do so. The probe
team is made up of Makoni district administrator, Cosmas Chiringa
(Chairman), Mutare district administrator, Justin Chivavaya (member),
Ministry's senior internal auditor, E. M. Mhlanga (member) and an
administrative officer in the provincial administrator offices W Mashava
(Secretary). According to impeccable sources in the council, the team was
tasked to probe the local authority on alleged shoddy corporate governance,
financial mismanagement and human resources mismanagement, among other
misdemeanors. The finding of the team would be handed over to Local
Government Minister, Ignatius Chombo next week for consideration. A
correspondence letter in possession of this newspaper on terms of reference
for the team forwarded to the PA by Munyoro on January 14, reads in part:
"With regard to your brief on the purported poor state of affairs in the
management of Mutare City Council, I have duly appointed a team to carry out
an administrative systems audit of Mutare City Council." The sources said the
local authority's future hangs by a thread as indications showed that a
series of irregularities were unearthed. City executive mayor, Misheck
Kagurabadza could not be reached for comment, as his secretary said he was
too busy to entertain The Daily Mirror. However, authoritative sources
maintained that moral was at its lowest ebb at the Civic Centre as both
councillors and management awaits the results of the probe. "All is
not well at the civic centre; everyone is shivering and since Monday
councillors and managers had held a series of marathon meetings to try and
come out with strategies to challenge an imminent ousting," said an official
who requested anonymity. Relations between the council and its parent
ministry took a nosedive since April last year, after Chombo froze the
hiking of rates and tariffs.
THE Grain Marketing
Board's (GMB) Midlands regional manager, Goodwill Shiri, who stood in Zanu
PF primaries for Mberengwa East and lost, is being investigated by the grain
utility for allegedly abusing the parastatal's maize and vehicles to win
votes. Shiri initially won the poll in the constituency against the Minister
of State for State Enterprises and Parastatals, Rugare Gumbo, but the latter
appealed against the outcome on the grounds that counting had not been
conducted at two polling stations - Urasha and Mbuya Nehanda. Gumbo's
appeal was successful, and when counting was done at the two stations, he
went on to narrowly beat Shiri. However, allegations have emerged against
Shiri that he moved an unknown quantity of grain from other areas in the
Midlands province to the constituency where which he was eying. GMB
vehicles are alleged to have been used in the movement, with one of them
being involved in an accident that resulted in one of the employees (name
supplied) sustaining injuries that he had to be hospitalised for days. On
Friday, the GMB's acting chief executive officer, Samuel Muvuti confirmed
the incident. "We have summoned him and sent an investigation team to
establish what really transpired. We heard that maize was moved from a
certain area of deficit to another area of deficit," Muvuti said under
normal circumstances, the GMB's logistics and distribution manager is
supposed to sanction the grain's movement. When contacted yesterday Shiri was
evasive. " I am not aware of anything. There is nothing amiss. Why don't you
wait for the conclusion of the investigation if you want the truth?" he
said. He, however, confirmed that grain was indeed moved to Mberengwa East,
but added that the trucks were hired ones, as the grain utility did not have
any vehicles. "Mberengwa, Zvishavane and Chirumanzu are drought prone
areas. People there would be hungry whether there is an election campaign or
not," added Shiri. Gumbo said he had been aware of the alleged abuse during
the campaigning and had at one time warned Shiri about it. nIn Mutare,
the Zanu PF Manicaland provincial deputy youth chairman and parliamentary
candidate for Mutare South, Freddie Kanzama, is under fire for allegedly
politicising the distribution and sale of maize grain in the
constituency. Villagers in the constituency told The Daily Mirror that
Kanzama - using Zanu PF structures - had hi-jacked the distribution of grain
from the GMB and sold it only to Zanu PF card-carrying members. Ruling
party members with old cards, the villagers further alleged, were ordered to
obtain new ones introduced last November or risk being excluded from the
benefit. Last week, Zanu PF Zimunya district chairperson, a Gupa, declared
that maize grain would only be sold to villagers whose produced party's new
card. Said Gupa to the villagers: "Aka ndiko kekupedzisira kutengesa chibage
kune vasina makadhi eZanu PF. Uyezve tinoda makadhi matsva chete. Izvi
ndizvo zvatakawirirana necandidate yedu. (This is the last time for selling
maize grain to non Zanu PF card holders. We will consider only the new
cards. That's what we agreed with our parliamentary candidate)." Efforts
to get comment from Kanzama over the past week were blocked by his
THE Chinhoyi's magistrates'
court has issued summons against 10 white commercial farmers in Mashonaland
West province who allegedly defied Section 8 orders, which compelled them to
vacate their properties. Sources in the province said some of the affected
farmers remained on the farms arguing they had no were else to go. The
farmers' lawyer, Edmore Jori of Harare law firm, Wintertons, confirmed to
The Daily Mirror yesterday his clients would appear at Chinhoyi Magistrates
Court on different days starting February 14. The lawyer added that the
summons were issued sometime towards the end of last year, but could not be
drawn into saying much. "I will hold meetings soon with the farmers to
prepare their defence outline. At the moment it's a bit too premature to
disclose anything," Jori said. The Minister of Lands, Land Reform and
Resettlement, John Nkomo yesterday declined to comment on the matter saying
he was busy. The government's land reform programme, which started in 2000,
has been met with resistance in some quarters, due to differences in its
implementation. The programme was also dogged by controversy, with some
senior government officials accused of grabbing more than one farm at the
expense of the landless majority.
Our Correspondent in Bulawayo issue date :2005-Feb-04
organisations based in Bulawayo yesterday urged the government to declare
March 31, 2005 - date set for parliamentary elections - a public
holiday. Felix Mafa, the executive director of the Post Independence
Survivors Trust (Pist), a civic organisation which promotes human rights,
said since March 31 would be a working day it would be ideal to declare the
day a public holiday to give workers an opportunity to
vote. "Traditionally all previous elections in this country have been held
during weekends when the electorate has amble time to cast their votes.
Fixing the elections dates on a Thursday is tantamount to depriving a number
of people the opportunity to choose candidates of their choice," said
Mafa. Mafa said his organisation is concerned that some apolitical employers
might refuse to release their employers to go and vote on a Thursday. "I
am appealing to all political parties and civic organizations to approach
the courts because holding the elections on a Thursday is undemocratic as
well as unconstitutional. The date will disenfranchise urban voters,"
said Mafa. His sentiments were also shared by Max Mkandla, the president of
the Zimbabwe Liberators Peace Initiative (ZLPI), a coalition of
ex-detainees, war veterans, war restrictees and war collaborators. He said
the only option was to declare the day a public holiday.