Njabulo Ncube Chief Political Reporter
Mutasa threatens massive crackdown
OPPOSITION leader Morgan Tsvangirai says he is mobilising opposition groups
for a "vigorous campaign" to push for the presidential election to go ahead
as scheduled next year, thus blocking ZANU PF's bid to extend President
Robert Mugabe's term of office by two years.
The campaign, Tsvangirai told reporters yesterday, would include internal
reforms within his own faction of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC),
a drive to bolster international support for opposition to ZANU PF, and
"people power", a reference to street protests against President Mugabe's
Critics have always questioned Tsvangirai's credibility in making new
threats to "vigorously" confront President Mugabe when a series of similar
previous calls have failed to rally public support. But the former trade
unionist yesterday said Zimbabweans had become desperate, and were now
prepared to die to end ZANU PF rule. He however he did not give a timetable
for the protests, or what form they would take.
"The struggle cannot be defined within any time frame. The form of the
tactics of resistance will change from time to time. The people are really
desperate for change. We need to rally them. This is the time to act. This
is not an individual or heroic act but a personal challenge to every
Zimbabwean that change and freedom is not going to come on a silver
But State Security Minister Didymus Mutasa immediately warned the opposition
of dire consequences if it went ahead to organise protests.
"They have a programme of protests all the time. But although I don't know
what they intend to achieve, I want to warn them that I myself will be part
and parcel of those who will be stopping them from protesting," said Mutasa.
ZANU PF's annual conference last month reportedly backed the plan to
postpone presidential elections to 2010, effectively extending President
Mugabe's current term, originally due to expire next year, by two years.
The President told a Canadian television interviewer that he feared that if
he stepped down, rival camps in his party would destroy ZANU PF.
Eight out of 10 ZANU PF provinces had already endorsed the extension bid
prior to the conference, making it inevitable that the plan would be
approved by ZANU PF's central committee and sail through Parliament, where
the ruling party has a technical majority of two-thirds.
But at the press conference yesterday, Tsvangirai, whose party critics say
has become increasingly weak, said the MDC national council, which met last
Friday, had crafted a "solid agenda" to guide the opposition party through
the "murky waters" of 2007.
"The time to act is now. Our call for elections in 2008 is out of the
realisation that the national crisis cannot be extended by another day,"
said Tsvangirai, referring to ZANU PF's proposals to "harmonise"
presidential and the parliamentary elections in 2010. "The people have had
enough. The party will have to get ready for the Presidential election in
2008. This will be the central agenda in 2007, including the revamping of
our structures and strategies.
"We resolved (as National Council) we would vote in 2008 but under a new
Tsvangirai said the execution of the MDC's new campaign against ZANU PF and
President Mugabe's 27-year grip on power demanded a united and popular front
for its success. "Our energies and chemistry with our civic political
friends and partners in the Save Zimbabwe Campaign ought to be strengthened.
We endorsed the resolution of our partners in the Save Zimbabwe Campaign and
resolved to combine efforts to tackle the national crisis through a
democratic vote in 2008, under a new Constitution. The new component of our
plan in 2008 is the agenda for a public expression of our rejection of the
extension of the status quo. I know that this regime shall employ desperate
tactics to silence Zimbabweans who are against Mugabe's extension of his
rule to 2010. The regime shall confront us in the forlorn hope of imposing
its will onto the people. We must be ready for it."
However, he once again appeared to discount outright reunification with the
rival Mutambara faction, saying: "Unity of purpose is more important than a
unity of individuals."
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
THE decision by Cabinet to transfer the management of Harare City water from
the municipality to the Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa), has
affected partnerships that had been forged between the city and business,
Plans to extend Zinwa's jurisdiction to other cities and towns could also
affect long-term deals negotiated to ensure reliable water supplies to the
In Harare, companies affiliated to the Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries
(CZI) had joined forces to help alleviate the chronic water problems by
either paying their bills in advance or helping the city council to procure
relevant equipment and chemicals. Under the deals, the city council would
have reconciled rates and service charges for the involved companies by
crediting amounts equal to their contributions to their accounts.
According to local government sources, a paper milling company in Kadoma has
reportedly sealed a deal with authorities in the town to help purchase
generators and other equipment required to ensure a dependable supply of
water in the town.
In Gweru a similar deal has been negotiated between a glass manufacturer and
the local authority.
The company agreed to help fund long-term projects to improve the water
reticulation system in the city.
According to CZI, such arrangements were on the increase.
"It certainly makes sense for affected businesses to enter into such
arrangements with local authorities. In this case, companies don't even have
to notify the chamber what they are doing but it is now common for companies
to enter into such arrangements," said CZI chief executive Joseph Malaba.
Some companies had gone a step further and were financing waste collection.
"I can confirm that the change-over of water management from the City of
Harare to Zinwa has caused continuous water problems for industrial
Christella Langton Staff Reporter
Body count gets higher as doctors, Parirenyatwa bicker on
LOOKING at the tall buildings that constitute Parirenyatwa Hospital, it is
easy to be deceived into believing that this is a place where lives are
saved and wounds are healed.
But upon entering the buildings, one is greeted by the strong pall of death.
A visit to the hospital by The Financial Gazette found scores of patients
sitting on benches and in the corridors, all in pain and desperate to be
attended to. However, they wait in vain as a resolution to a month-long
doctors' strike seems nowhere in sight.
The sick mill around the hospital, wearing gloomy faces. Some lie on
stretchers writhing in pain with no doctors around to offer them attention
They are victims of a bitter wrangle between doctors and the government. On
one side are the doctors who say they too are suffering as a result of the
collapse of the health delivery system - suffering materially because of
poor pay and emotionally through watching helplessly as patients who could
be saved died because of a lack of basic equipment and medicines. On the
other side of the dispute is an overburdened and broke government that
regards the young striking doctors as greedy and selfish.
Patients and their relatives interviewed during the visit expressed alarm
over the gravity of the situation, pleading with the two parties to reach a
compromise for the sake of saving the countless lives now at grave risk.
The doctors' strike shows how ordinary Zimbabweans continue to suffer
helplessly as the economic situation in the country worsens.
With the majority of the people earning wages far below the poverty datum
line of $344 000 according to government figures, it is impossible for most
of them to access health care at private clinics, whose charges are beyond
the reach of many. Doctors complain that their earnings are seven times
below the breadline, and that they are unable to fend for their own
families. They cannot afford to visit patients.
Latest talks this week between doctors and the government - which roped in
senior doctors to ease the crisis - were fruitless. Numerous previous
attempts to resolve the dispute have also reached an impasse as the striking
doctors have continued to defy government calls to return to work while
their grievances are being addressed.
The president of the Hospital Doctors Association, Kudakwashe Nyamutukwa,
said in an interview that members of his association would not go back to
work until the government bowed to their demands.
"What I know is that junior doctors are still on strike and that those who
had not joined the strike when it started have since joined us, despite the
fact that they are on internship," said Nyamutukwa.
Nurses have also joining the strike, worsening the crisis.
The standards in the health sector have deteriorated sharply due to the
economic meltdown, leading to a mass exodus of senior health specialists to
countries such as South Africa, Britain, the USA, Australia and New Zealand.
The shortage of equipment previously regarded as basic, from radiotherapy
and dialysis machines to latex gloves, only dramatise the extent of the
crisis. Foreign currency shortages make it impossible to replace old and
broken down machinery.
Zimbabweans are now being referred to South Africa for treatment. Only a few
can afford foreign trips, so television viewers are now used to seeing
countless patients suffering from a range of ailments, pleading for
assistance from well-wishers.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Reporter
TRANSPORT and Communications Minister Christopher Mushowe has been given
control of Kondozi Estates, once one of Zimbabwe's most viable horticulture
farms, government confirmed this week.
Mushowe was granted authority to take over Kondozi after a technical
committee of the National Economic Recovery Council (NERC), which monitors
the National Economic Development Priority Plan (NEDPP), recommended that
the farm be allocated to an individual farmer competent enough to revive the
550-acre estate, which employed 5 000 at its peak.
Didymus Mutasa, Security and Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement Minister
confirmed the allocation of Kondozi to Mushowe.
"I gave it to Mushowe. I signed the offer letter," Mutasa said.
Manicaland Provincial Governor, Tinaye Chigudu who procedurally should
approve land allocations in the province, said: "I heard Mushowe was given
the offer letter some time in December."
Mushowe was unavailable for comment.
Government seized Kondozi from businessman Edwin Moyo and his partners in
2004, handing it to state-run Agricultural and Rural Development Authority
(ARDA), which later ceded control of the farm to the Zimbabwe National Army
(ZNA) under its command agriculture Operation Maguta programme to grow
crops. In 2005, army personnel reportedly disclosed that looting of farm
equipment by senior government officials had hamstrung activities at the
Prior to its takeover, Kondozi was one of the country's largest
horticultural exporters, with markets in Europe and South Africa. The
property was registered as an Export Processing Zone (EPZ) with an annual
turnover of US$15 million.
The seizure saw Barclays Bank Limited failing to recover a loan it had
extended to the owners, illustrating why banks are now wary of farm lending.
The government claims its land reforms are meant to resettle previously
marginalised and landless peasants, but critics say the exercise has in fact
benefited top ruling party officials more.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
. . . as Makwavarara Commission rejects UN temporary houses
THE government-appointed Harare Commission has rejected a United Nations
(UN) offer to fund the building of more temporary housing for the homeless
who have been turning up at Hopley Farm in increasing numbers since the
onset of the rainy season.
The commission, which is chaired by Sekesai Makwavarara, has, however,
accepted assistance from the UN through World Habitat to build schools,
clinics and other social amenities.
The Government's urban clean-up in 2005, "Operation Murambatsvina", left
more than 700 000 people homeless and without means to earn a living,
according to a damning report prepared by UN Habitat executive director Anna
She said, after a visit to Harare in July last year, that the exercise had
been carried out "with indifference to human suffering." However, President
Mugabe told Canadian television in a recent interview that only 100 000
people had been displaced.
Since embarking on the operation, the Government has dithered on the
question of allowing relief aid to reach those displaced by the exercise and
now claims the provision of new temporary shelter would attract more
homeless people to urban areas.
An extract of the minutes of the Harare Commission's Education, Health,
Housing, Community Services and Licensing Committee meeting held on December
5 2006 reads: "The acting Director of Housing and Community Services
reported an undertaking made by the United Nations (World Habitat) to assist
in conducting surveys, the development of new schools, clinics and other
"He advised that council had not agreed to the funding of more temporary
structures as these were now seen as an incentive to people who had not been
affected by the (Operation) Restore Order."
The committee recommended that the commission should negotiate and conclude
a smart partnership agreement with the UN agency for the development of
infrastructure in the new housing development areas of Hopley, Whitecliff
The Housing committee recommended that the Harare Commission should "accept
a World Habitat donation for funding the survey costs for the remaining land
in Hopley and surrounding areas."
A report by a Parliamentary committee in November sharply criticized
government for its failure to fulfill its promises on "Operation Garikai",
which it claims it embarked on to build permanent homes to replace
demolished illegal abodes.
Chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Local Government,
Margaret Zinyemba (ZANU PF, Mazowe West MP) said in the report that the
government "had failed to honour its obligation that would see the project
through to completion."
Charles Rukuni Bulawayo Bureau Chief
THE Zimbabwe dollar took a new battering this week as dealers betting on
central bank governor Gideon Gono announcing a devaluation in his next
policy statement drove demand for hard currency.
In Bulawayo, the Zimdollar traded at around $450 to the rand and $520 to the
pula, a change from $360 to the rand and $410 to the pula last week. The US
dollar was quoted as high as $3 500, up from $3 000 at the start of the
Market watchers said the parallel market rates had weakened early this month
as holders of hard currency cashed in to pay school fees.
But demand for hard currency has picked up on expectations that Gono will
announce a devaluation from the current $250:USD, described by critics as
increasingly unrealistic given the inflation rate of 1281 percent.
There are expectations that Gono could allow the local dollar to slide as
low as $1 750:USD. Though this would still be well below the current
parallel market rate, it would have narrowed the gap between the official
and parallel market rate significantly.
The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has led pressure on Gono to
free the exchange rate, which has been stagnant since his last monetary
policy statement on July 31.
Prior to Gono's introduction of the volume-based exchange rate management
system in January last year, the parallel and official rates had appeared to
be drifting towards conversion, and analysts say this provides a basis for
RBZ to reverse its current policy.
Gono has previously said a devaluation would deepen the country's economic
crisis if it was effected in the absence of significant foreign currency
inflows and other key reforms.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
FIVE white farmers are to challenge the constitutionality of the laws the
government has been invoking to buttress its land reforms. The farmers will
challenge the legality of Constitutional Amendment (No17) Act, which
effectively bars the judiciary from intervening in land disputes, as well as
the Acquisition of Farm and Equipment and Material Act.
The petitioners say the Land (Consequential provisions) Act, which came into
effect last month, is a serious threat to farmers.
If successful, the challenge would seriously jeopardise the government's
current land reform approach, which leans heavily on the controversial 17th
In the first filing made on Tuesday, one of the farmers, William Michael
Campbell, argues that section 16 of the 17th amendment that came into force
in 2005 infringes on citizens' fundamental rights to the rule of law and due
Campbell, of Mount Carmel Farm in Mashonaland West, says he bought the
property in 1973 but his ownership is now threatened by the Amendment and
the Gazetted Land (Consequential provisions) Act, which came into effect on
December 20 last year.
The Act stipulates that "no person may hold, use or occupy gazetted land
without lawful authority."
The farmers cite as respondents the Minister of State for National Security,
Lands, Land Reform and Resettlement, Didymus Mutasa, and the
Attorney-General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele.
"Accordingly, it is submitted that the attempt by the Parliament of Zimbabwe
to exclude the right of the courts to settle disputes between the state and
its citizens or residents by enacting section 16 B (3) of the constitution
has grossly undermined the basic structure of the constitution of Zimbabwe,"
reads part of Campbell's filing.
"Such a provision so undermines the very basic structures of the
constitution . . . No court truly functioning independently of the
legislature and executive can accord recognition to a legislative or
executive measure which prevents it from fulfilling its constitutional
function of adjudication."
The other four farmers, through their companies Manica Zimbabwe and Chirobi
Private Limited, will also argue in the Supreme Court that the Acquisition
of Farm Equipment and Material Act is ultra vires the constitution.
The Act allows government to acquire any farm equipment not currently being
used for agricultural purposes "where the acquisition is reasonably
necessary for the utilisation of that farm equipment or material on any
The farmers say the constitution permits compulsory acquisition only when
the High Court has been asked to determine issues relating to compensation.
"With respect to the draftsman of the legislation, that is not a purpose
authorised by section 16 (1) of the constitution. Section 16 of the
constitution prohibits the compulsory acquisition of property except under
the authority of a law," the applicants argue.
Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter
POLICE have recovered 3.4 kilogrammes of bullion worth close to $60 million
in a crackdown that has seen the arrest of 24 890 illegal miners and mineral
Home Affairs Minister Kembo Mohadi said the blitz, codenamed "Chikorokoza
Chapera", has also led to the recovery of a range of other precious minerals
countrywide since its launch in November.
Police recovered 552 kg of gold ore, 123 grams of gold alluvial, 39 grams of
gold sponge and 200 grams of gold concentrate. Other minerals recovered were
7 868 pieces of diamonds, 92 pieces of emeralds and various amounts of tin,
chrome and gold carbon.
The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe's Fidelity Printers is the country's sole buyer
of gold, but illegal miners are taking the metal to the black market where
the price is 10 times higher than the official price of $16 000 per gram.
On the world market the mineral fetches US$600 an ounce and this implies
that Zimbabwean producers who get $16 000 per gramme could get more on the
parallel market. The official exchange rate stands at $250:US$1 and $3 000
on the black market. A small-scale miner said yesterday it costs $38 000 to
produce a gram of gold.
Annual gold production levels in Zimbabwe have fallen from 29 tonnes in 1999
to 12 tonnes last year. Mohadi blamed the smuggling of gold outside the
country by criminal syndicates for the decline.
Illegal gold panning is rife in Mashonaland West, Matabeleland South and
Midlands, from which the largest amount of 1 853 grams of gold valued at $29
million was recovered. Major diamond areas are in the Chiadzwa and Marange
areas of Manicaland, where 6 938 pieces of diamonds were recovered since
Mohadi warned that the blitz would net anyone "without fear or favour",
although he did not say whether anyone in authority was under investigation.
But critics were unanimous that there were red lines government would not
cross, especially where senior politicians were involved.
Mining contributes four percent to Gross Domestic Product, and 16 percent to
total foreign exchange earnings.
I WILL vote in 2008. Probably the most ridiculous statement on the face of
it, but being the melodramatic character that I am, I will reiterate that,
yes, I shall vote in 2008.
I shall vote not only because it is my inalienable democratic right to do
so, but because I know I am supposed to vote for a new and possibly better
president in 2008. And that's according to the current Constitution of
But my statement of intent is obviously fraught with obstacles, and the
typical cynic from within the multitudes of intelligent, peace-loving and
long suffering Zimbabweans will have a jolly good laugh while muttering
words like, "wishful thinking", "ZANU PF" and of course "MDC this", 'MDC
that"! But as this is an article and not a speech, I am slightly shielded
from immediate reactions to my declaration of intent.
All the same, as a result of how perplexed a reader might be by the opening
lines of this article, I shall explain both the problems I am likely to
encounter as well as how I intend to either solve them or at least by-pass
them in order to cast my vote by March 31 2008.
Everyone knows voting in 2008 was supposed to be a given, until ZANU PF, at
its national conference held in Goromonzi in December 2006 decided it was
important to 'harmonise' the parliamentary and presidential elections,
albeit without full consensus as to the exact year they will make the
election year or quite how they intend to pull this off.
And as a result of the "whatever ZANU PF wants, ZANU PF gets" political
culture in Zimbabwe, it seems very unlikely that I will be able to cast any
vote at all without the ruling party's permission.
While the pessimistic outlook of this looming political reality is
particularly depressing, I have decided that I do not need ZANU PF's
permission to vote when the Constitution says I should vote. So if need be,
I will get an independent panel of Southern African citizens to make a
ballot paper for me, and place whatever names of people that so decide to be
aspirant candidates to the presidency of this country on the ballot paper,
arrange the election date on or before March 31 2008 and then allow me to
The counting of the single ballot shall be done as transparently as possible
and the announcement of the result will be made within the shortest
Whatever the victor in the election does, if not threatened with treason
charges by Patrick Chinamasa, I will support him/her on the basis of her/his
election manifesto. I will also attend an inauguration ceremony for the
country's new leader under a new constitution.
But of course, a reader might ask me, what if the Parliament of Zimbabwe
decides to amend the constitution in order to harmonise and postpone the
elections to 2010 as well as extend President Robert Mugabe's term of office
by another two years?
While this is a valid question and point, I would stress that I would vote
under the National Constitutional Assembly's draft constitution or
alternatively any democratic constitution that has been widely accepted by
the people of Zimbabwe as the correct one.
In order to retain my right to vote I will also query where the Parliament
of Zimbabwe gets the wherewithal to extend President Mugabe's term of office
without the consent of the people of Zimbabwe who voted for a President and
not a Parliament over five years ago and are expecting to use their right to
vote to either change or (difficult to fathom) retain the President that
In short, whatever the Parliament decides, I will remind them that my right
to vote does not reside within its chambers but is derived from the
processes that brought us both independence and freedom minus issues
concerning which party is ruling or is in opposition.
So far, I am still going to vote in 2008. I see no logic let alone
democratic reason why I shouldn't do so. I don't derive my right to vote
from President Mugabe's benevolence, let alone Didymus Mutasa's wild-eyed
rhetoric on what that party did for this country's independence. I am a
Zimbabwean, I have the right to vote, and come rain, come shine, I shall
vote in 2008.
In the meantime, while I am making a lot of noise about the need for a new
democratic constitution, I shall tell my colleagues, friends and whoever
else cares to listen that this is my plan, regardless of whether there is
agreement or consensus.
Zhean Gwaze Staff Reporter
STAKEHOLDERS in the agricultural sector meet
tomorrow to negotiate new wages for farm and plantation workers, many of
whom are earning $5 000 per month.
The General Agriculture Plantation Workers Union of
Zimbabwe (GAPWUZ), which represents 250 000 farm workers, said it would meet
employers to discuss proposed new figures for the first quarter
Wage adjustments in the sector are effected on a
quarterly basis. A $5 000 minimum wage was set in the last quarter of 2006,
and players say this has contributed to shortages of farm labour.
GAPWUZ official Gift Muti would however not
elaborate on the proposed new salaries, saying doing so could spark strikes.
Retired farm workers now earn $12 900 following the increase in their
payouts from $5 000 by the National Social Security Authority.
"We have finished consultations with farm workers
countrywide and we are hopeful the employers will lend a listening ear,
considering the current economic climate. The current salaries cannot even
buy a kilogramme of meat, let alone other basics," Muti said.
The Poverty Datum Line was pegged at $344 256 for a
family of six in December, according to the Central Statistical Office.
New farmers allocated land under Zimbabwe's
controversial land reform programme employ the majority
of the poorly paid workers. GAPWUZ is negotiating
for a basic living wage, which meets International Labour Organisation
standards. Agriculture contributes about 18.5 percent to the Gross Domestic
It provides more than 60 percent of the raw
materials required for the manufacturing sector.
However, most farm workers are living in abject
poverty, which has forced a significant number of them into other
enterprises, such as the flourishing gold panning.
Charles Rukuni Bulawayo Bureau Chief
Zinwa to take over water supply
GOVERNMENT is trying to muscle its way into the Bulawayo City Council by
taking over its water reticulation and sewerage systems.
This has sparked fears that Bulawayo, hailed even by ZANU PF as the best run
city in the country, could now be plunged into the same predicament as
Harare, which this week began pumping raw sewage into its main water source.
The Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) manager for Gwayi Catchment
area, which covers Bulawayo and Matabeleland North, Mattson Chidhakwa, said
while he could not comment on the rationale for the takeover because the
decision had been made by Cabinet, he believed the city would be better off
as Zinwa was better qualified and equipped to run the water affairs of the
Bulawayo Town Clerk, Moffat Ndlovu, who retires in April, said it would be a
sad day for Bulawayo if Zinwa took over the water reticulation and sewerage
systems. Ndlovu said the city's problem was not water distribution, but low
water levels at its supply dams. It was already Zinwa's responsibility to
supply bulk water, he said.
Zinwa's move was also likely to hit the city where it hurts most - its
coffers. Ndlovu said water sales currently contributed up to 40 percent of
"Water is a very sensitive issue. We have prided ourselves on the quality of
water we provide to our residents, but with the takeover, we cannot
guarantee that our residents will continue to get the same service," Ndlovu
Council spokesman Phathisa Nyathi said he did not understand why government
wanted to take over.
"There was no consultation at all with the council. All we received was a
letter from Zinwa telling us that Cabinet had decided that Zinwa should take
over all water supplies and asking us to provide certain details," Nyathi
While Chidhakwa was reluctant to be involved in the debate, The Financial
Gazette understands that Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo
instigated the move.
His directive does not only apply to Bulawayo, but also to Gweru and
Victoria Falls, which fall under the Gwayi Catchment area.
Zinwa this week admitted it was discharging raw sewage into Mukuvisi River,
a tributary of Manyame River which feeds into Manyame Dam, one of the major
suppliers of drinking water to the capital, because its main treatment plant
had broken down.
Ndlovu said he could not understand why the government had decided to take
over when the authority has indicated it has no money to bail out the city,
forcing it to introduce water rationing.
The Bulawayo City Council tightened water rationing measures last week,
restricting residents in high density suburbs to 300 litres and those in low
density suburbs to 450 litres a day. Industry is now required to use 65
percent of the six-month average consumption for the period up to April 2005
while those who live in flats and those who use bulk meters should use half
of their six-month average water consumption for the same period.
Even members of the ruling ZANU PF, which is normally critical of the
Movement for Democratic Change-led council, said Zinwa should not take over
Bulawayo's water supply.
Bulawayo ZANU PF spokesman Effort Nkomo was quoted in The Chronicle as
saying: "Authorities have recognised that Bulawayo has the best run council
in the country if not the whole world. It has the required capacity. Zinwa
should only pump bulk water and let the BCC (Bulawayo City Council) deal
with the task of distributing it to the end-users."
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
MILLERS have hiked the retail price of flour by more than 300 percent,
setting the stage for a new increase in the price of bread.
Bakers this week said millers had raised the retail price of a 50kg bag of
flour to $30 517 up from $7 000 after getting government approval.
But despite the increase, millers warned that the price of flour was still
too low for them to recoup production costs. They are currently lobbying the
Ministry of Industry and International Trade for another price review to
compensate for rising production and energy costs.
"If you look at the margins, they are nothing in relation to cost. So we
will be submitting an application for a price review to the Minister," said
a spokesperson for the Millers' Association of Zimbabwe.
Millers said they were incurring high transport costs for ferrying wheat
from GMB depots around the country to their mills in Harare and Bulawayo.
"Transport is a major component (in pricing) since we also have to deliver
to places like Victoria Falls."
A new bread price increase would be the second in two months, after bakers
tripled the retail price of a loaf of bread last month. Bakers expect to
raise the price of a loaf to at least $1500 from the current $825.
Stanley Kwenda Staff Reporter
THE government says it will closely watch moves by South Africa to recruit
Zimbabwean science and mathematics teachers before it can respond.
"There is no country in the world which can just say take all these
teachers, especially science and maths teachers, who are in demand. We will
however wait for South Africa to make a formal request then we can respond
accordingly. So far no communication has taken place," the Deputy Minister
of Education, Sport and Culture, Isaiah Shumba said in an interview.
The minister said Zimbabwe cannot afford to continue training professionals
for other countries.
"It is a brain drain and we cannot afford to continue like this. Movements
are not strange, it's common for people to seek greener pastures, they go to
China, Australia, South Africa and many other countries. It's a pattern. But
I don't see an easy way of stopping them because in any case they will
move," said Shumba.
"We are however trying to improve their working conditions since we would
also like to retain this critical manpower," he said.
The South African government has already made it clear that it wants to
recruit Zimbabwean teachers to boost its professional base in the two
subjects, a move expected to improve pass rates.
The South African Education Minister, Naledi Pandor, told the South African
press last week of the intended move.
This attracted a barrage of criticism from workers' unions in South Africa,
accusing the country of exploiting the situation in Zimbabwe by offering
higher salaries and better working conditions.
The government is believed to be mulling plans to bar migrating teachers
from rejoining the service if they consider coming back home.
But Shumba denied this. "I don't think it is government policy but we would
encourage them to stay and help develop the education of the country."
According to the Progressive Teachers' Union of Zimbabwe (PTUZ), Zimbabwe
lost 4 000 teachers to neighbouring countries such as South Africa,
Mozambique and Namibia in 2005 alone. An estimated 4 800 teachers left the
country last year.
Many Zimbabwean teachers have been leaving the country in search of better
salaries and working conditions. Teachers are among a band of poorly paid
professionals in Zimbabwe earning salaries below the poverty datum line.
PTUZ president, Raymond Majongwe, said government must put its act together
and stop the flight of teachers.
"We sympathise with the teachers, circumstances are forcing them to go out.
But we can not celebrate, all we can do is put pressure on government to
improve conditions of service," said Majongwe.
Clemence Manyukwe Staff Reporter
BUBYE Minerals, the company embroiled in a dispute with River Ranch Limited
over River Ranch diamond mine, has asked the Attorney General (AG) to
caution Mines Minister Amos Midzi against making statements suggesting the
mine belongs to River Ranch Limited.
Such statements are in contempt of court, Bubye argues.
Midzi was last week quoted while touring the mine as saying that he saw no
reason why River Ranch should not be allowed to sell diamonds as "the
judiciary had pronounced itself" on its ownership. River Ranch Limited's
rivals claim that any diamond sales from River Ranch are illegal as long as
the dispute over mine's ownership remains unresolved .
Bubye regards Midzi's remarks as an attempt to influence proceedings in the
Supreme Court, which is to make a ruling on the ownership of the Beitbridge
mine. Bubye says it will institute legal proceedings if Midzi continues to
make similar statements.
In a January 15 letter to Clement Muchenga, the law officer in the AG's
office representing Midzi in the legal wrangle, Bubye Minerals' legal
counsel, Terrence Hussein, accused Midzi of engaging in "unacceptable
Bubye says an appeal it filed in the Supreme Court against High Court judge
Lawrence Kamocha's verdict handing the ownership of the mine to River Ranch
Limited suspends that ruling. However, River Ranch Limited's legal counsel
George Smith disputes this, saying Bubye's appeal does not suspend Kamocha's
Hussein insists that the suspension of Kamocha's judgment means that a
ruling by judge Joseph Musakwa, which interdicts Midzi "from adjudicating
upon, cancelling or in any way interfering with the cession of the Special
Grant 1278" is still in force.
The special grant gives the holder permission to extract diamonds from the
Hussein said: "Your client (Midzi) is well aware that Kamocha's judgment was
suspended by the filing of the notice of appeal. We accordingly call upon
you to counsel your client against making statements which give the
impression that not only does he side with River Ranch (Limited), but that
Bubye Minerals has no entitlement to special grant 1278."
"This conduct by your client is tantamount to contempt of court. This also
gives the unhealthy impression that he is trying to influence the outcome of
the Supreme Court case through the official media," said Hussein.
Muchenga is yet to respond.
Christella Langton Staff Reporter
THE Zimbabwe National Water Authority (Zinwa) has begun bottling and selling
water in order to fund the purchase of water purification chemicals and to
relieve debt, Water Resources Minister Munacho Mutezo has said.
The water authority needs at least 130 tonnes of aluminium sulphate on a
daily basis, and is saddled with heavy debts to Zesa and chemical supplier
Mutezo said the water bottling project had already passed Ministry of Health
requirements on water purity.
The water would sell under the brand name "Kumakomo Springs", Mutezo said,
and would soon be on the already crowded bottled water market.
The Standards Association of Zimbabwe (SAZ) estimates there are more than 20
different brands of bottled water on the local market, many of them
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed companies Tanganda, Delta and Cairns are
among some of the major companies which have invested in the bottled water
Tanganda's water brand is Tingamira, Delta sells its own product under its
Mr Juicy range, while Cairns' water product retails as Border Streams.
The bottled water plan is part of Zinwa's strategy to raise cash to fund a
range of new responsibilities. Starting this month, Zinwa will issue water
bills, a job previously done by city councils. Farmers would also start
paying water bills for the water they are using for irrigation to Zinwa.
"We will make sure the bills are paid before they are due, in order to raise
enough revenue to acquire chemicals and better equipment for water
purification. The bills are still being paid at the city council's
facilities," said Mutezo.
"All farmers are going to pay water bills for the raw water they are using
on irrigation and other farming activities. We are going to work with
provincial governors and other local leaders to see to it that farmers pay
Mutezo said he hoped suppliers would be able to meet demand from Zinwa, so
the authority can avoid imports.
Kumbirai Mafunda Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE'S tobacco output is expected to rise to 70 million kg this year, up
some 26 percent from its record lows in 2006, the country's largest growers'
association has forecast.
Zimbabwe auctioned 55.5 million kg of tobacco in the 2005/06 selling season,
its smallest crop since independence, generating revenues of US$110.7
million. These earnings were down from the US$118.1 million achieved in 2005
for a 73.4 million kg crop that year.
But the Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA) said this week preliminary
assessments show that the 2007 tobacco crop will jump to 70 million kg, up
from 55.5 million kgs in 2006. The ZTA's forecasts are based on increased
"Output (in 2007) is going to be much bigger than 2006. There is more
tobacco planted and everyone started with full dams. If the season is kind
to us it could go up to 70 million kg," ZTA president Andrew Ferreira said.
Ferreira hailed this year's irrigated flue-cured crop - the leaf mostly
grown in Zimbabwe - as an excellent crop. Growers had put between 45 000 to
50 000 hectares under tobacco, said Ferreira.
He however warned farmers against late planting.
"A lot of tobacco is being planted on the late side. Individual growers have
to be conscious of the bushy top virus," warned the ZTA boss.
Rangarirai Mberi News Editor
THE High Court has issued a summons for civil imprisonment on Trans-Zambezi
Industries (TZI) shareholder Edwin Moyo to force him to repay a loan he
received from Intermarket Discount House (IDH) to acquire control of the
group three years ago.
IDH has also sought to seize all of Moyo's assets, including share
certificates giving him title to his TZI stake. However, TZI's share
certificates have no tradable value as long as the company is suspended from
the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE). This, however, suggests Moyo could
immediately lose control of his company once the suspension is lifted.
The court issued the summons to enforce a ruling late last year that Moyo
owed $8 million to IDH, in loans advanced to his Chadwick Enterprises to
purchases the majority share in TZI. Moyo, in his defence, had argued that
his "failure to pay the amount was not willful", blaming government's 2004
seizure of Kondozi Estates for default.
Moyo owned 52 percent of Kondozi, with Adrian Zeederberg and the de Klerk
family owning the other 48 percent.
Said Moyo, through lawyers Atherstone and Cook: "The amount was supposed to
have been paid from the costs of the facility which had been applied for
from African Export and Import Bank. Regrettably, the facility which was
about to be approved was withdrawn following bad publicity arising from the
invasion of Canvest (Private) Limited, trading as Kondozi Farm."
But following a July 20, 2005 ruling against Moyo by Justice Chinembiri
Bhunu, the registrar of the High Court last month issued summons against
Moyo "to explain why you have not paid it and to show cause why an order for
imprisonment should not be made on account of your failure to pay."
"The court will conduct an inquiry into your financial position and,
depending on the circumstances, it may not commit you to prison but instead
give you further time to pay the sum due or direct you to pay it in
instalments over a specified period."
Documents show a dispute had arisen between the two parties over Moyo's
attempts to apply the in duplum rule on a loan, despite his earlier consent
in an acknowledgement of debt agreement that he would pay all interest on
the principal debt. But his lawyers later argued that illegal interest of
$10 382 120 596.74 had been charged as it had exceeded the capital debt.
Currently, TZI's only confirmed assets are Swandale Roses of Norton, which
TZI owns through Moyo's 99 percent held Wadstar Ltd, and mixed flower farm
Glen Forest, controlled 50 percent via East Rising Investments, also owned
TZI asked for ZSE suspension in 2004 after inflated sales and debtor
balances were uncovered at its 54 percent Zambia arm Agriflora, which later
went into receivership. TZI also lost its 50 percent stake in Fresca.
Moyo has been looking to gather assets to back his re-listing bid. Early in
2006, Moyo said he had raised US$16 million from a Swiss bank syndicate to
acquire new assets in four countries. At the time, he forecast the new
businesses would give TZI annual turnover of US$150 million by end-2007 and
US$250 million by December next year.
Mavis Makuni Own Correspondent
IN June last year, with the health delivery system continuing to collapse
around him, Health and Child Welfare Minister, David Parirenyatwa, resorted
to the diversionary tactic of blaming scapegoats for problems that the
government has been unable or unwilling to tackle.
On that occasion, the health minister blasted the public for being
ungrateful for the wonderful work doctors and nurses were doing under very
difficult conditions. Parirenyatwa implied that public ingratitude for this
dedication was to blame for the stampede by health professionals to
countries in the region and abroad that offer better remuneration and
working conditions. Parirenyatwa fumed: "I am disappointed that with the
tremendous work being done by health workers, the public is not being
grateful." Instead of admitting honestly that it was the government that was
ungrateful and impervious to the grievances of health professionals,
Parirenyatwa said: "Harare Hospital has about 600 patients admitted and it's
a lot of work to look after these people but the public never appreciates
their efforts but continues to insult the nurses and doctors."
Six months on, with the health delivery system still in the intensive care
unit and a full-scale strike by junior doctors and nurses on his hands, can
the good doctor still blame the public? I think not. If anyone is insulting
both the doctors and the public, it is the Ministry of Health and Child
Welfare, which has failed to deliver on its endless promises to improve the
conditions of service of doctors and nurses. Each time these health
professionals have gone on strike, the minister has assured the nation that
their grievances would be attended to and urged them to go back to work.
They have heeded these appeals countless times without anything tangible
subsequently happening. The minister should know that there is a limit to
how often enlightened professionals and nurses can be taken for a ride. The
health delivery system has steadily collapsed under Parirenyatwa's
stewardship, but he has not been honest about the causes of the catastrophe.
It is rampant corruption within the public sector, which can no longer be
concealed by resorting to subterfuge, which has become the favoured modus
operandi within government. One would have hoped that Parirenyatwa, a
medical doctor who has taken the Hippocratic Oath, would fight harder to
ensure his portfolio did not exist only to justify a bloated bureaucracy but
to take care of the nation's health.
When Parirenyatwa embarked on his tirade against the public last year,
Vice-President Joseph Msika had just returned from South Africa where he had
been receiving treatment for a stomach ailment. Msika resorted to seeking
treatment out of the country because there was no diagnostic equipment in
Zimbabwe to conduct the necessary tests. The lack of medical equipment,
drugs and the general decay of infrastructure are the issues that should get
Parirenyatwa fired up, not the frustration of the public with his ministry's
failure to deliver. How wonderful it would be to have a health minister who
was so dedicated to taking care of the nation's health needs and was so
outraged by the constraints placed on him that he would refuse to preside
over the death trap that the health system has become. He would resign. This
would hopefully jolt the rest of his colleagues in government from their
slumber and nonchalance.
Dr Parirenyatwa is not unaware of the hopelessness of the situation he
presides over. There is an acute shortage of drugs, hospital fees are out of
this world, there is no equipment to enable doctors to undertake life-saving
interventions . . . it is an endless list of woes. The bottom line is that
there is very little health delivery taking place under the vast system
Parirenyatwa presides over. He has known about the widespread and justified
discontent among doctors and nurses for a number of years but has chosen to
soldier on amid the shambles by resorting to the propagandistic tactics
politicians use to buy time. His portfolio deals with life and death matters
that allow very little latitude for time-wasting but he continues to play
hide-and-seek with the people whose services are crucial to the operation he
The new salary scales the Ministry of Health has announced in a bid to end
the impasse in negotiations with striking health professionals betray a
continuing lack of seriousness in tackling the situation. It may sound
generous to announce a 300 percent increase but it is ridiculous in reality
because a high percentage increase based on a risible salary still yields
peanuts. The striking doctors want a minimum salary of $5 million but are
being offered $210 000, which I would hazard to guess, was not enough to
feed one delegate per day during the ZANU PF people's congress held at
Goromonzi High School last month, one of whose highlights was the sumptuous
What are doctors expected to do with the $200 000 they are being offered,
which is below the poverty datum line? The doctors have been unfairly
accused of lacking compassion for their patients but I say the real cruel
culprit in this sorry scenario is the government that continues to pursue
upside-down priorities. It was announced recently for example that the
government has established a body or council to look into ways of stemming
the brain drain that has deprived Zimbabwe of skilled professionals in
various fields. This would be a noble idea if the reason for this exodus was
a mystery. But since everyone knows what has caused this stampede into the
diaspora, the question to ask is why the funds being wasted on such futile
initiatives are not re-directed to critical areas such as the health sector.
The government has printed trillions of dollars for various initiatives,
which have however, found their way into the pockets of some corrupt and
greedy influential people. How is it that the health delivery system, which
is so high in the hierarchy of national needs, has never been considered to
be one of these emergencies? Dr Parirenyatwa, not me, should be asking his
colleagues in government these questions.
Mavis Makuni Own Correspondent
AFRICA FILE received its fair share of brickbats over an installment in the
January 4 issue of The Financial Gazette which dealt with the execution by
hanging of former Iraqi dictator, Saddam Hussein after he had been convicted
The piece, which cited a number of African dictators who have been similarly
accused of genocide, war crimes or crimes against humanity, suggested that
they too should be brought to justice for these atrocities. The writer
suggested that Saddam's execution should serve as a warning to other tyrants
who have turned their countries into killing fields with their own people as
the hunted prey.
What a hornet's nest that statement provoked. In a Letter to the Editor of
this paper, Dixon of Harare wrote: "Mavis Makuni's article shows the depth
of ignorance there is among your journalists. Saddam did not receive a fair
trial and was executed by a sectarian mob loyal to the Shi'ites. Even the
pro-death penalty lobbies in the US and UK are embarrassed by what
transpired. And yet we have an African seeing it as a lesson for dictators."
This writer was similarly attacked in a state-controlled publication. The
tone of these critics' comments was a case of a guilty conscience needing no
accuser as it was never suggested that Saddam's death should be a lesson for
African tyrants only. Moreover, they did not say what was so wrong with
drawing important lessons from the execution so that no more ordinary people
anywhere in the world would have to be massacred, tortured or oppressed by
heads of state who are supposed to protect them.
Makuni's critics and other commentators in various local and regional media
were disturbed by the fact that Saddam had not received a fair trial and had
been denied justice. That is their view and they have every right to express
it. Those who see things differently are equally entitled to their opinions
and are not necessarily ignorant as Dixon, referred to above, has charged. I
want to challenge Dixon's statement, "And yet we have an African seeing it
as a lesson for dictators." He did not say why a person hailing from a
continent that has seen its fair share of genocide, civil wars, mass
displacements of populations, ethnic cleansing and other atrocities, should
be precluded from reaching the conclusion that African dictators
perpetrating these atrocities should be warned. Dixon's intolerance for the
expression of a view that is based on realities would have been
understandable if Mavis Makuni was from a region of the world that was
immune to brutal dictatorships but that is not the case.
Millions of innocent Africans have perished at the hands of human rights
abusers and dictators such as Pieter Willem Botha of apartheid South Africa,
Idi Amin of Uganda, Hissene Habre of Chad, Charles Taylor of Liberia, the
various dictators of Nigeria, Mengistu Haile Mariam of Ethiopia and Omar
al-Bashir of Sudan where hundreds of innocent civilians are still dying
every day. Does Dixon want Africans to pretend that such things are not
happening and have never happened? Last month, Mengistu was convicted of
genocide for the killing of about 15 000 people during his tenure as
Ethiopia's ruler. The development was received with thunderous silence from
Dixon and others who have rushed to Saddam's defence. Why are they not
saying anything about Mengistu, whose trial in absentia was conducted under
the auspices of the Ethiopian government and not the Americans? Why are
these critics tongue-tied about the on-going civil strife in Darfur which
has claimed the lives of more than 300 000 people? Their stance suggests
that they want the ordinary people of Africa to turn a blind eye to genocide
and other atrocities and only be outraged by the fate that befalls the
perpetrators when they are brought to book.
This writer has found her critic's impassioned arguments for justice and
fair play for the "Butcher of Baghdad" but not for the victims of his
brutality disturbing. Saddam Hussein was known to stop at nothing to
preserve his own power. Many civil wars and political upheavals in Africa
are also the result of greedy leaders clinging to power at all costs. Saddam
Hussein's acts of unfathomable cruelty and brutality such as gassing entire
communities with cyanide, ordering summary executions of suspected enemies
or opponents and the draining of marshes on which an ethnic group in his
country depended for their sustenance, are well documented.
He was so cold-bloodedly brutal that he ordered the killings of his two
sons-in-law and his wife's brother. Those incarcerated in Saddam's jails
faced the prospect of having private organs amputated, nails driven into
their bodies or being thrown into drums of sulphuric acid to dissolve and
vanish without trace. New United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon has
urged the world not to forget the victims of Saddam's victims but some
commentators seem concerned only with defending the perpetrator of these
unspeakable crimes against innocent fellow human beings.
THE deafening calls for the devaluation of the local unit - which for years
has been searching for a bottom against hard currencies - have reached a
crescendo ahead of the presentation of the central bank's Monetary Policy
Statement any time this month.
It is hard to pick a newspaper today and not read about the ever present
need for downward adjustment of the currency's official par value. There are
even pockets of industrialists who believe that the greenback is worth
whatever the markets are prepared to pay for it and are therefore calling on
the government to bite the bullet and move to a free-float strategy to allow
the dollar, whose problem over recent years has been one of weakness rather
than strength, to find its own level. They believe that such a strategy
would provide the means for avoiding the ineffectiveness of direct controls
and allow the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) to implement monetary policy
far more effectively.
We are not sure whether the proponents of devaluation, who in the past have
always been treated with suspicion by the ruling ZANU PF government, can
hold sway over a government that believes that it can continue acting in the
same old way regardless of changing circumstances. But one thing is for
certain: given the unrealistic exchange rate and an all-time high rate of
inflation, the economic case for devaluation is overwhelmingly compelling.
Indeed, under the current circumstances devaluation is a must if only
government listened to the voice of reason, reckoned influence of realities,
did not have trouble recognising that with pragmatism things could work
better and accepted that you cannot control what you don't have.
Admittedly, currency devaluation and the country's dented international
credibility will inevitably mean tough times ahead for Zimbabwe which will
find it particularly difficult to seek recourse to international financiers
to cushion the blow of the devaluation. Indeed, there are some who view
devaluation as a double-edged sword especially as it can feed through into
higher consumer prices. But that is the short-term cost of a long-term
solution! It would be difficult to deal with this issue without causing any
unpleasant effects as it would be next to impossible to make an omelette
without breaking eggs. In any case,what choice does government have?
We have said it time without number that one of the more puzzling and
confusing issues in terms of formulating economic policy relates to the
choice of exchange rate regime. Over the years, the traditional dichotomy
between fixed and floating exchange rates has always sparked heated but
sterile debate over whether there is a link between the choice of exchange
rate and macroeconomic performance.
But the Zimbabwean experience is instructive. The government's favoured
fixed exchange rate has not worked for the country. This, in our own
estimation, provides incontrovertible evidence that while exchange rates can
be influenced by other macroeconomic variables, the choice of an exchange
rate regime has implications for economic growth. As can be seen from the
Zimbabwean situation, the country's exchange rate policy has, to all intents
and purposes, been counter-productive. How so? It has increased
protectionist pressure, distorted price signals, prevented the efficient
allocation of resources and created a parallel market which has ended in
victory for speculators and illegal currency dealers, among other negatives.
Thus pegging the exchange rate has not been an effective tool. And given the
fundamental factors, the Zimbabwe dollar has remained over-valued. And that
is precisely why we feel that it is high time the government allowed the
value of the local unit to be established by market forces. And that would
be victory for pragmatism - something for which Zimbabwe is not known.
Government has in the past adopted a very rigid position as regards
devaluation to the extent that matters concerning devaluation have assumed
weighty political and nationalistic connotations. But where has this got the