HARARE - 2004 has been the annus horribilis for
Zimbabwe's financial sector which has suffered its worst crisis that left
thousands without access to their salaries and savings in banks forcibly closed
December 31 last year saw the arrest of two directors
of an asset management company for a 61-billion dollar (9.8 billion US dollar)
fraud, followed by the closure of their company by the central bank.
This set the tone for a crisis-ridden year for depositors.
year 2004 saw the arrest of dozens of high-profile bankers and the flight into
"exile" of several others facing various financial charges, including spiriting
out desperately needed foreign exchange overseas.
After the January
closure of ENG asset management firm, more banks and financial institutions fell
like a house of cards.
By Christmas Day this year, the Reserve Bank
had shut down seven banks, three of them listed on the stock exchange, and
placed them under the control of independent regulators, but several others face
an uncertain future.
The collapsed banks had all been locally-owned,
recently established as part of government efforts to fight the monopoly
hitherto enjoyed by international banks.
The financial sector has been
blamed for plunging the country into its worst economic crisis in living memory.
The central bank has warned that it will step up efforts to "smoke out
Central bank governor Gideon Gono said the
house-cleaning exercise in the banking sector "has helped a great deal to avoid
a system-wide collapse of our financial sector".
In frantic efforts to
mend the country's sickly economy and salvage the banking sector once touted as
the country's success story, the central bank introduced a troubled bank fund to
help with liquidity support while proposing mergers of ailing banks.
But both the proposed mergers and the rescue package have failed to stop
banks from falling into curatorship.
The first 'successfully' merged
group, CFX, became the latest casualty, closing days before Christmas, barely
two months after the deal was concluded.
The government now plans to
bring the troubled banks together under the umbrella of the Zimbabwe Allied
Banking Group, modelled on the lines of South Africa's ABSA and to start
operating in the New Year.
As the year draws to a close, speculation
is rife on which banks will survive the purge and which of the less than half a
dozen locally owned banks still operating will go under.
financial woes stretch back for several years when international lenders pulled
out due to disagreements with President Robert Mugabe's government.
The troubles worsened over the last three years with inflation trebling to
600% at the start of the year, poverty levels doubling and the economy
contracting 30%, with unemployment up to a record 70%. Inflation has for the
past 11 months fallen from 622% to 149% last month, but remains one of the
highest in the world.
Tsunami disaster relief
Bangladesh board pledges gate-money
December 31, 2004
The Bangladesh Cricket Board announced on Thursday that
gate-money from the forthcoming series against Zimbabwe, estimated to be
$10,000, will go relief efforts to the tsunami victims in Sri Lanka. The move
follows similar pledges of aid from Australia, England and South Africa.
The Sri Lankan government has said that more than 27,000 have
died in Sri Lanka because of the tsunamis and more than 4900 missing. The
tsunami, which hit coastal areas around Asia on Sunday, has killed more than
125,000 people in 13 countries, and has made more than one million people
Zimbabwe arrived in Bangladesh on Thursday to play two Tests
and five one-day internationals. The first Test, at Chittagong, starts next
Thursday, January 6.
Qualifier kicks off Hopman Cup action. 01/01/2005. ABC
[This is the print version of story
Last Update: Saturday, January 1, 2005. 8:33am
Qualifier kicks off Hopman Cup action
Hopman Cup action begins in Perth today with the
Netherlands and Zimbabwe vying for a spot in the main team draw.
The winner of the qualifying tie, which pits Zimbabwe's
Cara and Wayne Black up against Dutch pair Michaella Krajicek and Peter Wessels,
will win the final place in the eight team draw.
The round-robin draw begins on Sunday with Argentina set to
play Italy, while the unseeded Australian team of Mark Philippoussis and Alicia
Molik begins its campaign against the Slovak Republic on Monday.
The Slovak pair of Daniela Hantuchova and Dominik Hrbarty
is seeded third, but Molik predicts her pairing with Mark Philippoussis will
prove a formidable force.
Molik says Australia has not had the best of luck at the
Hopman Cup over the past two years, and thinks this time will be different.
"I can definitely see Mark and I on that final day, but who
knows," she said.
"I guess after the first day and the second, we have to
combine for mixed doubles as well, we haven't played together also, so it's
going to be a bit of fun. But I think we're going to do very well this
Philippoussis, ranked 109th in the world, is confident he
can return to form, and has Wimbledon on his mind.
"That's a dream, there's no doubt about that," he said.
"It's something that, when that comes along or when it gets
closer, I start getting excited and thinking about it.
"But if there's another tournament where I'd like to play
my best tennis it's in Australia, at the Australian Open, there's no doubt about
© 2005 Australian Broadcasting Corporation
Copyright information: http://abc.net.au/common/copyrigh.htm
Privacy information: http://abc.net.au/privacy.htm
Daily Mirror, 31 December
Soldiers invade Mahofa farm
Soldiers have camped on a farm in Gondwe, Gutu, belonging to the Deputy
Minister of Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation, Shuvai Mahofa, on
allegations that she acquired more than one farm in direct violation of the
government’s one-person-one-farm policy. The armed forces have since reportedly
barred the Gutu South legislator from entering or carrying out any activities on
the property. Yesterday, Mahofa, a member of the ruling party’s central
committee who was dropped from the Politburo amid speculation that she
participated in the unsanctioned Tsholotsho meeting, confirmed to The Daily
Mirror that the military had cordoned off her property. However, she denied the
property being a farm, but simply a homestead. The legislator claimed she
legally occupied the property in 1993, way before she acquired a farm last year.
"The soldiers are not on a farm, it’s a homestead. I got a lease for it in 1993
under the first phase of the government’s resettlement scheme. I occupied it
when I did not have a farm, but when I got one I was in the process of moving
out. Before I had taken out all my things, I was surprised to see soldiers
barring me from entering the property, saying I am a multiple farm owner,"
Mahofa said. She added: "Some people are saying I have five farms, but I only
have one. I am only a woman, this is politics; it’s a dirty game. We are now
approaching election time."
Efforts to get comment from army spokesperson Ben
Ncube proved fruitless on Wednesday and yesterday, but the person who answered
the phone requested that questions be put in writing, which was done on
Wednesday. But by the time of going to print yesterday, there was no reply from
the army regarding the occupation of the property. The army’s blockade of the
property becomes the first such reported incident in Masvingo province. Similar
action has been carried out in Mashonaland West against land grabbers where the
police camped at a farms allegedly belonging to Local Government Minister
Ignatious Chombo and former Mashonaland West governor Peter Chanetsa. In July,
the media reported that President Robert Mugabe had taken it upon himself to
deal with multiple farm owners and make them accountable for their actions, but
cautiously, for fear of a fierce political backlash. Zanu PF national chairman
John Nkomo was tasked to draw up a list of the offenders to return the swathes
of land to the State. But the move fell on deaf ears, as senior party and
government officials ignored the withdrawal letters from Nkomo’s office. Nkomo
had written withdrawal letters to Chombo, Agricultural and Rural Development
Minister Joseph Made, Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa and Information
Minister Jonathan Moyo, to surrender excess land for redistribution to the
The repossession of extra land was prompted by an audit
report by former Cabinet chief secretary, Charles Utete, which exposed shocking
levels of gluttony by senior ruling party and government officials. Moyo,
currently balancing on a political knife-edge for reportedly convening the
Tsholotsho indaba with a view to allegedly topple President Mugabe’s lieutenants
in the ruling party’s presidium, took Nkomo head-on in the public media, arguing
about the meaning of multiple farm ownership. As Minister of State for
Information and Publicity in the Office of the President and Cabinet, Moyo took
advantage of the public media he controlled to demonise Nkomo and officials in
his ministry. President Mugabe was to summon the culprits, but sources say that
was not done and instead once again empowered Nkomo to deal with the issue of
the land grabbers decisively. When President Mugabe reiterated his sentiments to
deal with the multiple farm owners, Nkomo’s office was reportedly inundated with
calls from a number of senior government and Zanu PF officials on how to get rid
of the extra properties.
News24 (SA), 31 December
MDC: No decision on poll
Harare - Zimbabwe's opposition Movement For Democratic Change has
denied press reports that it will take part in parliamentary elections set for
March next year. MDC spokesperson Paul Themba-Nyathi told a Sapa correspondent:
"Reports in the Financial Gazette that we have already decided to take part are
false". He accused the paper of trying to pre-empt or encourage an outcome. "No
decision has been made. So, eight of our provinces have submitted reports on the
matter and we are still waiting for four more. The party's national executive
will then meet mid-January and make a final decision." The MDC said in September
it would boycott the March poll unless the ruling Zimbabwe African National
Union - Patriotic Front party rescinded harsh press and public order laws and
complied with Southern African Development Community "norms and procedures on
elections". The opposition says there has been no indication that Zanu PF will
meet its demands.
Zimbabwe’s fight for a free voice - Alistair Leithead
In a couple of months Zimbabwe will go to the polls in an atmosphere of
fear and repression that has driven the simple spreading of information
underground. The independent press has been silenced, people are fed a diet of
state-controlled TV and radio, and the opposition party has no way of getting
its message out. Even entering the country illegally as a BBC journalist could
be punished by two years in prison. It is up to organisations like Sokwanele,
which means "enough", to get out whatever information it can - and even just to
tell people there is an alternative voice. "Our major objective is to make
people aware of what is really happening," one of the group's leaders told me.
"You know in Zimbabwe people are not being told the correct information - they
are being fed with wrong information." After months of discussion and careful
vetting, we were finally allowed to go along to one of their meetings. It was in
a township outside Bulawayo and in the darkness we quickly darted inside the
small house where a handful of Sokwanele, or Zvakwana, members were
On the agenda was news of other members being arrested - something
that put the whole group on edge as they glanced across at the white man sitting
in the corner of the room listening. If anyone saw me entering the house they
could raise the alarm - such is the culture of fear, and of informants, that
exists in Zimbabwe. A white man entering a township house could bring the police
round and result in arrest and being held, perhaps for days, for questioning. In
the meeting they talked about the colour of paint they use to daub
anti-government slogans around Bulawayo, and the best way to distribute leaflets
at night. They are not plotting a coup, or gun running, just handing out
articles from newspapers and the internet to let people know what the
alternative voice is saying. But as the leader of the group explained, the
penalties are severe - they could be shot on the spot for handing out
information you could find in any internet cafe. "We have had enough," he told
me, "we have had enough." "You know this government is just trying to keep a
grip on power for too long. The country is now ruined. We see that there is
no-one in this country who is going to liberate it - we better do it ourselves.
Even if it is high risk, there is nothing we can do."
The state TV and radio
stations rely on propaganda - showing ample food supplies and happy people
dancing on the land. But things are not as they seem. A year ago the United
Nations World Food Programme (WFP) was feeding 6.5 million people. Now it is
down to just one million after the government cancelled this year's official
food and crop assessment mid-way through. The harvest was sufficient, they said,
and the WFP's aid was not needed. The Archbishop of Bulawayo, Pius Ncube, says
this just is not true. "The food situation is very bad because the government of
Zimbabwe told lies, refusing the WFP to feed the people and saying we have
enough harvest this year," he said. "As a matter of fact they have only 700,000
metric tons and they claim to have 2.4 million metric tons of grain." Grain has
been imported from South Africa, appearing to back up the claim of shortage.
Archbishop Ncube puts the blame on politics. "All they are focused on right now
is the elections in March next year and they want to win those at all costs, by
hook and by crook, by starvation, by beating up people, through the youth
militia - by every possible evil means," he said. "The government has a plan to
starve people so as to arm-twist them to vote for it."
Movement for Democratic Change has enjoyed a great deal of support but lost the
last presidential election and failed to get a majority in parliament. In the
next few weeks they will have to decide whether or not even to contest the
elections. The Zimbabwean government signed up to African rules for free and
fair elections. Transparent ballot boxes have been promised, along with a new
electoral commission - but opposition MP Moses Mzila says it means nothing.
"They have been threatening people that this time if you vote MDC we will be
able to see through the ballot box who you are voting for - we'll know you voted
MDC and we'll beat you up," he said. "The voters' roll is in a shambles. It has
thousands and thousands of names of deceased persons and yet there are thousands
or millions of people who are supposed to be on the voters' roll and are not on
it." Even if the rules are changed, there is a feeling the MDC will struggle to
win the support of the people. Archbishop Ncube explained his interpretation of
the problem. "For one thing we just don't seem to have a leader of a calibre
that can give people the courage to stand up for their rights even if it means
being shot. We don't have a Mandela, we don't have a Gandhi." And at the Zanu-PF
ruling party congress in December there seemed to be no sign of weakening. The
party may have its divisions, but President Robert Mugabe is still firmly in
charge. Elections or no elections, those who want change must wait for Mr
The Financial Gazette
|Kasukuwere fingered in farm row |
12/31/2004 9:20:03 AM (GMT
PETROLEUM baron and ZANU
PF legislator Saviour Kasukuwere has been fingered in a bitter wrangle pitting
temperamental fitness trainer Temba Mliswa and Harare businessman Eric
Mliswa, who was allocated Spring
Farm in Karoi under the controversial land reform, is accusing Kasukuwere of
teaming up with Nhodza to dispossess him of a service station situated on his
The controversial fitness trainer, who once tried his luck at the
troubled Dynamos FC, said he owned the service station under a fuel supply deal
concluded with the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe on November 29 2004.
Private fuel procurer and wholesaler Mobil owns the pumps at the service
station, which has a capacity to store 75 000 litres. Mobil had, in a letter
dated November 30 2004, agreed to dispose of the pumps to Mliswa.
however, government policy that infrastructure on farms designated for purposes
of resettlement becomes state property, which technically belongs to the new
Mliswa said Nhodza, who is linked to Wedzera Petroleum, an
indigenous fuel procurer, had mounted a bid to wrest the service station from
him and had roped in Mt Darwin Member of Parliament Kasukuwere to use his
“The plot has nothing to do with ZANU PF. It is instead a
plot by selfish individuals within the party who think they can use their
political positions to bulldoze their way to anything they want. Nhodza, my real
adversary, is using Kasukuwere to use his political position to take over my
farm and service station.
“I have invested a lot in that farm and now
somebody just comes from the blue saying he must have the land. Those guys
believe indigenisation is just about them. They think they can just use their
political positions to bully those who don’t have,” said Mliswa.
dismissed the charges against him by Mliswa as baseless, saying he had no
interest in Spring Farm.
Said Kasukuwere: “My constituency is in Mashonaland
Central. Why would I want a farm in Mashonaland West? Besides, Temba is not my
competitor in any way that I may ever plot to frustrate him.”
not be reached for comment as his mobile phone rang persistently unanswered.
The case — IR number 120443, which is now in the hands of the Harare Central
Police — is expected to be brought before the courts soon.
Mliswa, who holds
an offer letter for the farm dated September 3 2003 which bears a letterhead of
the then Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Resettlement and signed by Minister
Joseph Made, alleged this week that the grand strategy by his foes was to
eventually dispossess him of his farm.
|Govt mulls take-over of horticulture marketing |
12/31/2004 9:11:57 AM (GMT
desperately trying to strengthen its grip on foreign currency inflows, is
mulling taking over the marketing of all horticultural products from early next
year, The Financial Gazette can reveal.
The country, whose balance of
payments position deteriorated after the International Monetary Fund pulled the
plug in 1999, is set to take up the marketing of horticultural products under
the same model of the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA).
the government would soon establish an entity with the sole responsibility of
marketing flowers and other horticultural products and would also administer
marketing contracts for private horticulture firms.
Horticulture is the
country’s second largest foreign currency earner after tobacco.
government controls the marketing of major foreign currency-earning minerals
such as gold, diamonds, nickel and is making overtures to have a grip on the
marketing of the lucrative platinum group metals.
Recently the government
resuscitated the AMA, which is meant to market directly cash crops such as
cotton, maize and wheat.
Agricultural Minister Joseph Made could neither
confirm nor deny the development when contacted for comment.
comment on that now. You can phone me next week for a comment on that issue,” he
told The Financial Gazette.
Although officials from the Horticultural
Promotion Council could not be reached for comment, sources claimed the
government was seeking to improve productivity.
“The move by government to
take over the marketing of horticultural produce is also meant to boost
production levels and increase the country’s foreign currency channels,” they
Horticultural exports have plunged by 22.53 percent over the past five
years owing to a decrease in the number of producers.
Prior to the year 2000
when the veterans of Zimbabwe’s war of liberation started land acquisitions,
white commercial farmers dominated the horticultural industry.
controversial land reform saw more than 90 percent of the white-owned commercial
farms being redistributed to the landless blacks.
At the industry’s peak in
1999, Zimbabwe earned US$142 million from exports to traditional markets such
United Kingdom, Holland, France and Germany.
The industry is now faced with
threats from a European Union directive and new regulations introduced by the
European Commission (EC).
On one hand, the EU directive requires all
vegetables and fruit imported from non-European countries to be accompanied by a
certificate of conformance issued by an approved exporting country or be subject
to a physical risk-based inspection.
On the other hand, the EC regulations
to be effected in January next year require exports to undergo thorough physical
inspection and the cost will be invoiced to the importers.
|Violence flares up at MDC headquarters |
12/31/2004 9:19:05 AM (GMT
INTRA-PARTY violence last
week rocked the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) after the
sitting Member of Parliament (MP) for Mabvuku-Tafara, Justin Mutendadzamera,
lost in the party’s primaries to Timothy
The MDC, which is still yet to
decide whether to contest the March polls after it suspended participating in
any elections in Zimbabwe unless President Robert Mugabe adhered to principles
and guidelines agreed by the Southern African Development Community, is in the
process of selecting candidates to represent the party if it rescinds its
The Financial Gazette witnessed MDC youths engaging in running
battles against each other outside Harvest House, the main opposition’s
headquarters in Harare’s central business district.
Some of the youths, who
told this newspaper they were not happy Mutendadzamera’s defeat, were apparently
drunk and threatened to damage the glass door of Harvest House.
obtained by this newspaper indicates that Mubhawu was nominated by all the wards
in the constituency, much to the chagrin of the party youths who had been
rooting for the sitting MP.
A total of 17 candidates, including the sitting
MP, had put their names for the right to represent the MDC. But Mutendadzamera
did not attend the primaries, amid speculation he was down with a stomach bug.
“I am coming back home,” said a jubilant Mabhawu after the primaries
conducted by Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the MDC youth wing who also doubles
up as the MP for Kuwadzana.
Primaries for the constituency have had to be
postponed four times since October 14 2004 due violence insiders attributed to
youths aligned to Mutendadzamara, who could not be reached for comment
MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi confirmed the election of
Mubhawu as the party’s candidate for Mabvuku-Tafara, adding that the rowdy
youths had been disciplined.
Nyathi, however, would not elaborate on the
disciplinary measures taken by Zimbabwe’s main opposition party.
None of the
violent youths outside Harvest House were arrested.
Mubhawu is one of the
founding members of the MDC, tipped to take over the party ‘s chairmanship from
Isaac Matongo at its next congress.
|Govt sacks NSSA board
12/31/2004 9:14:54 AM (GMT
THE GOVERNMENT has
dismissed the entire board at the National Social Security Authority (NSSA), the
compulsory national pensions institution whose operations have been shrouded in
The authorities, who have been
under pressure to clean up the authority in the wake of incessant criticism,
have resolved to fire the current board and replace it with a new one, which
would be announced in January.
The Edwin Manikai-led NSSA board has been the
subject of serious scrutiny for, among other issues, its failure to fill up the
position of general manager, which has been vacant for the past three years and
has been held in an acting capacity.
A Parliamentary portfolio committee on
public accounts hit out at the authority’s investment register, which it said is
susceptible to manipulation and called for a complete overhaul of NSSA.
Well-placed sources said Amod Takawira, the acting NSSA general manager,
Nimrod Chiminya, Linda Manyenga, Susan Chigwada, Enock Gwayagwaya, Michael
Bimha, George Chabururu-ka and Pedia Moyo would be leaving the NSSA board.
Although the composition of the new board could not be established at the
time of going to print, The Financial Gazette has it on good authority that
sectoral consultations of new board members were already underway.
Mangwana, the Minister of Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare said his
ministry had already compiled the list of new board
|Funding frustrates Zimplats’ partners |
12/31/2004 9:09:45 AM (GMT
which controversially lost the empowerment stake in the Zimbabwe Platinum Mines
(Zimplats), seems to have cast a bad omen on the eventual winner, who is
struggling to raise the US$32 million needed to wrap up the long-drawn
Sources told The Financial Gazette
this week that the unheralded Nkululeko Rusununguko Mining Company (NRMC), which
sensationally eclipsed Needgate from the lucrative white metal investment, has
not had it easy in the capital markets.
They said NRMC, which switched to
the Amalgamated Bank of South Africa (ABSA) after being spurned by Stanbic Bank,
is yet to make an impression on ABSA, amid fears that its bid may encounter the
same fate suffered by the National Investment Trust (NIT).
The state-run NIT
became the first institution to lose the 15 percent empowerment stake in
Zimplats after failing to raise the required fund, forcing the government to
invite other suitors.
Sources said the South African bank, which had put
together an intricate funding structure for Needgate, is not keen to venture
into territories spurned by Stanbic.
“There are ethical considerations that
have made ABSA hesitant. Ethically, it doesn’t sound proper to give NRMC
something that had been put together by another competitor (Needgate),” said the
While Prisca Mupfumira, the head of NRMC, could not be contacted for
comment, the operations director of Needgate, Paul Chimbodza, said his
consortium was not happy with the unfolding events.
Needgate had been
designated as the preferred investor in the lucrative white metal business, but
the government flip flopped on the issue, blessing the unheralded NRMC’s bid.
As far back as September 2003, Zimplats had announced that it had finally
found Needgate as an empowerment partner, resulting in the consortium roping in
ABSA into an intricate funding structure.
“It is theft of intellectual
property and has serious legal implications. I hope it is not true that they
approached ABSA and if it is true, the format they want to use is a result of
two years of work for us and I don’t think they will succeed,” said Chimbodza.
Chimbodza said as far as Needgate is concerned, it is the most preferred
suitor for the Zimplats stake.
“As far as we know, the 15 percent stake is
ours because we have the agreements with ABSA, the government and Zimplats and
no one has informed of us of anything to the contrary,” he added.
this week said the bickering over the Zimplats stake would put a big dent to the
controversial indigenisation programme.
“The loser in this case is the
indigenisation thrust and Zimbabwe because the money raised from the 15 percent
stake was for expansion, which has been stalled for the past 12 months,” said a
mining expert interviewed by this newspaper.
|A war lost before it even began |
12/31/2004 9:15:53 AM (GMT
BULAWAYO — When
high-profile ZANU PF politicians and business executives Phillip Chiyangwa,
James Makamba and Jane Mutasa were arrested at the beginning of the year
following the turmoil in the financial sector and the crackdown on
externalisation of funds, most people thought that the country was dealing with
corruption at last.
As if to show his commitment to
eradicating what is undoubtedly the country's number one enemy, President Robert
Mugabe appointed what he termed an “anti-corruption Cabinet” in February.
said he was abandoning the “war Cabinet” because “the war is getting less and
less political, vis-a-vis Britain and America. Those we have defeated. It is now
the internal war to fight corruption and tendencies to access wealth through
One of the newly appointed ministers, Christopher Kuruneri,
became the first casualty of the anti-corruption drive. But that was it.
cases against Mutasa, Chiyangwa and Makamba have crumbled like a deck of cards.
The suspects have either been acquitted on all the serious charges or convicted
of minor ones that attract small fines.
But to maintain a semblance of
pressure on graft, the same people have been arrested over and over again on
spurious charges. Kuruneri remains in remand prison.
Observers believe the
big fish have escaped the net. This is, however, not surprising. It has been the
pattern since the first major corruption scandal in 1982 when businessman
Sampson Paweni was arrested for swindling the government of millions of dollars
in drought relief funds.
Though Paweni was convicted and jailed for the
offence, most of the big names mentioned escaped the net. The same applied to
the Willowgate scandal of 1988. Though it cost the scalps of five or so
government ministers, the rest escaped.
Since then, the war on corruption
seems to have been totally lost as not only senior government officials and
ministers perfected the art, but juniors joined their ranks.
became so rampant that some people began to believe that it promoted
development, according to a survey carried out by Transparency Interna-tional
Zimbabwe in Chitungwiza.
Their argument was that a corrupt person used the
proceeds to go into business and create employment. In that sense, corruption
The respondents of the survey should be excused for
that warped thinking because practically that is what is happening. Corrupt
officials are now among some of the most “successful” business executives. And
no one is asking how they got their starting capital.
There were no major
casualties after the plunder of the War Victims Compensation Fund. The tender
for the construction of the new Harare International Airport went ahead despite
glaring anomalies that amounted to palm-greasing. And those who made millions
through corrupt oil procurement by the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe are
All the culprits arrested after the massive corruption at the
Grain Marketing Board, including then Minister Kumbirai Kangai, have got away.
Those who corruptly obtained land also got away with it and now those who nearly
milked the country to death last year are getting away.
People talk and ask
questions: How do you explain an ex-traffic policeman running a fleet of buses
and haulage trucks, a former ZIMRA clerk running a fleet of haulage trucks, a
former district administrator running a chain of hotels?
importantly, how do you explain how some of the most wanted executives skip the
country when the net is closing down on them?
Former High Court judge John
Manyarara argued a few years ago that one of the reasons why corruption
flourished in Zimbabwe was because politicians and government officials were no
longer accountable to the people.
The same sentiments were expressed in a
report by the Centre for Public Integrity.
“The intimate involvement of
important political figures in business, officially and informally, weakens the
will and capacity of government to combat corruption," the report said.
spite of the occasional official inquiries into corruption, and judicial
exposures and condemnation, Zimbabwe is relatively highly tolerant of deviance
in public office,” the report added.
Corruption seems to have worsened as
the country’s economic fortunes tumbled. In 1998, for example, Zimbabwe scored
4.2 points in the Transparency Inter-national Corruption Perception Index. It
was ranked 43 out of 85 countries.
By last year it was down to 2.3 points
and was ranked 106 out of 133 countries. This year it was ranked 121 out of 146
A report in April 2001 said US$5.45 million (about $33.8 billion)
was changing hands in corrupt transactions annually in the public and private
sectors in Zimbabwe.
What was even more damning about the report was the
statement that: “The police do not seem to be aware of the extent to which
organised criminal syndicates are involved in corruption in Zimbabwe, although
there is awareness that a high proportion of corrupt transactions involve
functionaries at senior levels of government.”
Manyarara said it was quite
easy to solve this scourge. There only problem was that there was not enough
“Corruption would disappear from government departments if the
incumbents and their superiors had to account fully to the general public for
their conduct and the salaries and perks they receive for the work they are
supposed to be doing.
“But,” he added, “any move in that direction would be
crushed by the persons concerned because of its implications for good
governance, and they have means of crushing it.”
“Lest anyone doubts the
extent of this power, a government minister once told local journalists
attending a press freedom workshop in Harare that unauthorised publication of
even the number of cups of tea he drinks would be a contravention of some
provision of the Official Secrets Act,” Manyarara said.
One of the major
handicaps in curbing corruption could be that top officials already think they
are doing something about it.
Wanted: another Edmund Garwe
12/31/2004 9:17:33 AM (GMT
The controversy that led
to the resignation of Britain’s Home Secretary David Blunkett made me realise
how rare it is in Zimbabwe for public officials to voluntarily offer to resign
Blunkett resigned from Tony Blair’s
Cabinet more than a week a go over allegations that he had abused his
ministerial powers to help his mistress.
He was accused of having issued
instructions to officials in his ministry to speed up the visa application of a
woman from the Phillipines who worked as a nanny for a married woman Blunkett
was having an affair with.
I followed the story of Blunkett’s troubles in
the scandal dubbed “nannygate” with particular interest.
I must confess I
secretly admired Blunkett and somehow saw him as an underdog in the rough world
of dirty politics. I privately saluted Blunkett, who is blind, for his ability
to hold his own in an environment where gestures such as a nod, a wink or a
frown can convey a thousand words around a conference table.
This man had to
run a ministry by having faith in people from whom he could pick very few
non-linguistic clues and nuances.
I also marvelled at Blunkett’s cheek in
going ahead to conduct a lengthy illicit love affair with a married woman with
whom he is now locked in a legal battle over the paternity of her son. The
former home secretary now claims he is the father of the boy.
strongly of public officials who, instead of setting a good example, involve
themselves in adulterous and extramarital affairs. And as we all know,
conducting such affairs is an endless game of deceit to keep everything under
Blunkett must once again have had to rely on sighted aides and
friends to keep his love affair with a married woman a secret for years.
However, Blunkett’s affairs of the heart are not the main focus of this
piece. What caught my interest in the “nannygate” affair is that despite
protesting his innocence, Blunkett tendered his resignation from Blair’s
He did this on principle, saying that he needed to take full
responsibility for the controversy because he did not want anyone else in his
ministry to carry the cane.
This is in complete and stark contrast to the
situation we have here at home, where the idea of ministers and other public
officials offering to resign when they are embroiled in scandals or
controversies is still an alien concept.
The “Handiende” (I won’t go)
philosophy is still so deeply ingrained in local politicians that we have only
had a handful of resignations since independence. This is despite the fact that
in the last 24 years the nation has been rocked by scandals of all kinds
involving public officials.
The Willowgate car scandal of the 1980s was the
last controversy to result in the resignation of several government ministers
and officials. This was after they were implicated in the vehicle racket by the
Sandura Commission, which had been set up to probe the matter.
A few of the
resignations to occur after “Willowgate” include those of Enos Chikowore over
fuel shortages and Edmund Garwe who was Minister of Education. By resigning
voluntarily on principle, these two men did something rare on the local scene.
After admitting that his 14-year-old daughter had leaked a Zimbabwe Junior
Certificate examination paper at her high school, Garwe made it clear he simply
had to go.
Speaking in a manner we have not heard since, the now deceased
Garwe said: “Professionally, there’s no other way. Even if it were not the
exams, I, Edmund Garwe, would have taken that course of action. But the question
of exams is very important because we are going to localise these exams.”
There’s no doubt that this was a decision Garwe made in accordance with the
dictates of his conscience. He did not, as many officials do, seek to shift the
blame to someone else. Buck-passing has become the order of the day.
1996 when Garwe made this decision, there have been numerous cases of
corruption, inefficiency, bungling and greed that should have resulted in more
public officials tendering their resignations.
Some of the most recent cases
of impropriety that come to mind include the multiple farm ownership scandal.
But in this case, not only have the culprits refused to give up the extra
farms they acquired corruptly. These wrongdoers are actually thumbing their
noses at authority and saying: “We can do this with impunity.” In fact, these
people are such moral imbeciles that even wild horses would not pull them out of
On an individual level, Minister Joseph Made should have
been another obvious candidate for resignation over the debacles in his
important ministry resulting from his inept approach to his ministerial
It can only be in Zimbabwe where a minister can mislead
the nation about its food security and survive to engage in more bungling!
We need more Garwes and our own local Blunketts to lead the way in
cultivating a culture where public officials take responsibility for their
actions by learning to utter the simple words: “I resign.”
We need to hear
these words more often, judging by what and how much is wrong in this country.
Kenya murders point to growing global dangers |
12/31/2004 9:17:02 AM (GMT
The brutal murder of
seven women from Zimbabwe in Kenya at the beginning of this month is a
disturbing sign of the global dimensions of violence against
The seven Zimbabweans were among 20
victims from four Africans countries who were lured to Kenya by a man who
purported that he could help the women to get jobs in Canada. The other women
were from Zambia, Malawi and South Africa.
The killer used a trick that is
disturbingly being made possible by modern technology. The women travelled to
Kenya in response to an advertisement the man placed on the Internet.
since become apparent that the man could have been linked to an organised crime
syndicate dealing in human organs.
The area where one of the Zimbabwean
victims was buried was said to be frequented by sailors interested in buying
It is a well-known fact that women and children are the main
victims of criminal gangs involved in today’s “modern” crimes such as human
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s,
Europe was hit by a woman trafficking epidemic. Women who were victims of
unfavourable economic conditions in their own countries were lured to other
countries under false pretences.
Most of them believed they were being
helped to travel abroad to get jobs. They later discovered that their supposed
benefactors had helped them to leave their countries so as to be put to work as
By the time they made this heartbreaking discovery it was too
late and they were too helpless to free themselves from this bondage.
Internet has also been instrumental in fuelling child sexual abuse. Paedophiles,
rapists and other sexual perverts have relied on this technology to identify and
lure young children into dangerous situations.
Women’s organisations in
Zimbabwe have been fighting to get the Domestic Violence Bill passed into law.
It would now seem that in addition to creating awareness among women regarding
the local situation, these organisations must also draw attention to
The Women's Coalition, which organised the 16 Days of
Activism Against Gender Violence from November 25 to December 10, drew attention
to the fact that this was a human rights issue.
During the 16 Days of
Activism Against Gender Violence, the Women’s Coalition encouraged Zimbabweans
from all walks of life to take an interest in the programme.
being encouraged to sign a petition in support of the passing of the Domestic
Violence Bill, Zimbabweans were encouraged to stop violence in their individual
A call was also made for the public to report any cases of
gender violence to the police and other relevant organisations. But as the
brutal murders of the 20 women in Kenya show, women’s organisations campaigning
against gender violence may have to spread their wings to cooperate with
activist organisations in neighbouring countries.
This is because, like drug
trafficking and other international crimes, trafficking in human beings can only
be curbed through regional and international cooperation.
In the case of the
targeting of women for human organs, which has reared its ugly head in Kenya,
African governments need to be lobbied to crack down on the crime syndicates
|ARDA fails nation’s expectations |
12/31/2004 9:16:29 AM (GMT
THE Agriculture and Rural
Development Authority (ARDA), established to spearhead the government’s
development projects in rural areas, has failed to live up to expectations as
political meddling wreaks havoc on a once vibrant
Arda, founded during the colonial
era as the Tribal Trust Land Development Corporation, has seen its operations
taking a nosedive after independence.
The entity, which has more than 20
estates under its ambit, has drastically scaled down its involvement or totally
abandoned some rural development projects started in the early years of
The pulling out of donors from all government-related
developmental projects at the inception of the controversial land reforms in
2000 has worsened Arda’s situation. The land chaos triggered by government has
left half the population in need of imported food.
It has also cut, by 50
percent, production of the staple maize, soya beans and tobacco, further
deepening the economic crisis.
Some of Arda’s projects which have been
scaled down or virtually collapsed include the Mashonaland East Fruit and
Vegetable Development project, Manicaland Smallholder Coffee and Fruit project,
livestock development projects, the land use projects, development projects for
rural areas in Kariba District (Kanyati and Gatshe Gatshe Land Use project and
Omay Land Use project) and irrigation projects of the Dande Smallholder
Irrigation Development Project.
Although no official comment could be
obtained from Arda chief executive Joseph Matovanyika, a senior official said
the main objectives of the horticultural projects had been to bolster the
production and marketing capacity of producers in the communal areas.
Financing was geared at extension services, transport of the final produce,
establishing marketing links and equipping farmers with technical skills.
The European Union (EU)’s pulling out has reduced the project to a white
elephant despite having embarked on an export programme of mangetouts peas, baby
corn, edible beans, potatoes and a variety of vegetables.
statistics from the Central Statistical Office (CSO) indicate that production of
crops such as flue cured tobacco, tea, wheat and soya beans went down from 1996
to 2000 while production of sorghum, non-productive teas and groundnuts has been
Production of wheat, which had risen steadily to 18
393 tonnes in 1999 from 9 000 tonnes in 1996, fell to 16 542 tonnes in 2000.
Flue-cured tobacco, grown mainly for the export market, fell from 228 tonnes in
1996 to 73 tonnes in 2000 while tea production declined from 1 072 tonnes in
1996 to 774 tonnes in 2000.
Production of edible beans, an industrial crop,
also fell during the period under review from 435 tonnes to 83 tonnes.
has succeeded in destroying previously viable farming projects . . . that is its
sole achievement despite gobbling billions of dollars in taxpayers’ funds,” said
economic commentator Eric Bloch.
In Manicaland, Arda had targeted increasing
household incomes through smallholder commercial production through setting up
of fruit and coffee projects.
Sources said the projects had successfully
transformed a number of backyard orchards into full-fledged commercial orchards.
When the project was later handed over to the farmers in 1996, more than 9
000 tonnes of fruits such as bananas, citrus, apples, avocados and more than 300
tonnes of green coffee were being marketed.
The pulling out of the EU
sounded a death knell for the project and reversed gains which had made as Arda
failed to market and transport the produce on behalf of the farmers.
the outgrowers have since dumped Arda for other horticultural firms to market
The same applies to the Arda’s livestock projects in
Matabeleland and Kariba where ranches covering 10 000 hectares in Tuli and 57
000 hectares in Dodieburn and Manyolo had been developed with paddocks, game
fencing and modern water facilities.
Villagers from the surrounding areas
have since invaded the farms and brought down the fencing.
According to the
CSO, Arda’s total beef herd declined sharply from 34 772 in 1996 to 4 259 in
2000. Total dairy cattle herd also declined from 2 219 in 1996 to 1 651 in 2000.
“It is the gross mismanagement synonymous with all parastatals. Government
does not mind when parastatals lose money for 25 years,” Bloch said.
the solution lies in privatising Arda or instilling a culture of professional
management in the institution.
Bloch said Arda had limited chances of
succeeding in its stated goals, let alone beefing up the country’s food
Arda has also abandoned the Intergrated Rural Development
Programme, which was aimed at establishing viable production and support systems
in below average rainfall areas of Gutu and Zaka districts in Masvingo.
Robertson, an economist, said Arda was not likely to make any profit as long as
there was political meddling. He, however, noted that there had been some
successes in some of Arda’s estates in the Middle Sabi.
“Arda has become a
feature of the political policy making. It is not longer an agriculture system
which yields good results,” Robertson said.
“The institution needs to be run
by agronomists, scientists and professional managers and not politicians,”
Analysts said government, through Arda, should step in and
fill the yawning gap in agricultural production left by white commercial
“Arda cannot succeed where government is failing, especially now
when it is operating like a communal farmer,” said an agro-economist at the
University of Zimbabwe faculty of agriculture.
“There is too much
interference from head office. Though they say each estate is autonomous and
because of this, no Arda estate will ever make a profit,” said the economist.
Produce from Arda estates such as wheat, maize and seed maize is sold to the
Grain Marketing Board, a government monopoly, at sub-economic prices.
|Econet meets on Mascom
12/31/2004 9:18:04 AM (GMT
SHAREHOLDERS of Zimbabwe
Stock Exchange-listed Econet Wireless Holdings Limited (EWHL), the holding
company of Zimbabwe’s largest mobile network operator, meet in Harare today
(Friday) to approve a multi-billion-dollar transaction by EWH to dispose of its
14 percent stake in Botswana’s largest mobile network, Mascom Wireless, for
US$14 million (over Z$85 billion).
Once approved, as is largely
expected, EWHL would be able to raise hard currency funding to accelerate
network expansion by Econet Wireless Zimbabwe (EWZ), the country’s largest
mobile network operator by subscriber numbers.
Under the transaction, EWHL
is selling its stake to UK-incorporated Econet Wireless Limited, which is in
turn wholly owned by Econet Wireless Group , a company domiciled in Botswana, in
which JSE Securities Exchange-listed telecommunications company Altech has
acquired a stake worth US$70 million (over Z$427 billion).
The disposal of
the Mascom stake was one of the conditions that was precedent before the Altech
investment in EWG could be finalised.
In a circular sent to shareholders
ahead of the extraordinary general meeting to be held today, Econet said the
sale of EWHL’s stake in Mascom was crucial in order to finance the network
expansion in Zimbabwe to more than double the subscriber base to about 500 000
before the end of 2005.
Once completed, the company would further
consolidate its dominant market position as the country’s largest
telecommunications player based on subscriber numbers.
“EWZ has already
invested in the upgrading and expansion of the switch and base station
controllers, which has created capacity for additional subscribers.
“However, this investment is presently underutilised because of the need to
procure, install and commission base stations. EWZ is unable to finance this
expansion programme because of the foreign currency shortages the country is
experiencing,” said Econet.
It said the disposal of the Mascom stake would
raise foreign currency required to import and install base stations and other
related equipment, resulting in additional subscribers being taken on the
network and also significantly reducing congestion.
Econet would also be
able to lower network expansion costs by avoiding local or foreign borrowing,
which would in turn benefit subscribers through affordable network tariff
“The access to foreign currency arising on the transaction will
avoid the foreign currency exposure to EWHL and Zimbabwe at a time when the
local currency continues to depreciate against the United States dollar and
other hard currencies due to balance of payments pressures,” Econet said.
“The disposal of Mascom shares will provide immediate relief and allow EWZ
to import equipment required for the network to take on new subscribers and
better accommodate existing subscribers,” the company said.
Financial Gazette 31/12/04
|ZANU PF shuts door on mafikizolos |
12/31/2004 9:13:52 AM (GMT
Minister Jona-than Moyo is just one of the ZANU PF newcomers whose aspirations
to contest in next March’s parliamentary polls on the party’s ticket were dashed
this week following the announcement of strict criteria for
Elliot Manyika, ZANU PF’s secretary
for the commissariat, annou-nced the new party guidelines for eligibility to
stand on the party’s ticket which, among other provisions, restricts candidature
to members of the party’s provincial executives, the national consultative
assembly and the central committee.
“Provincial executive members, national
consultative assembly and central committee members are the only party members
eligible to stand as party candidates in the 120 constituencies.
Members of Parliament who do not meet this criteria and have no disciplinary
cases against them are eligible as well,” Manyika said.
Party members who
were precluded from holding positions in the party by virtue of their posts in
the civil service would also be eligible, according to the new guidelines.
Moyo, previously a strident ZANU PF critic who turned to become one of its
fiercest defenders, heads the list of a raft of ZANU PF newcomers who do not
qualify under the guidelines annou-nced by Manyika .
minister, who led a government crackdown on the independent media, is seen as
the biggest loser.
Moyo, who was eyeing the Tsholotsho seat, has not only
spent heavily in courting the constituency, but is seen as harbouring ambitions
to climb the political ladder.
The ZANU PF hierarchy regards the contentious
Tsholotsho meeting convened by Moyo and attended by several party provincial
chairpersons, among other party notables—allegedly to scupper the presidium
President Mugabe wanted—as the biggest sign of unchecked ambition.
used his strategic control of the government-controlled media to raise his
profile, unsettling the ZANU PF old guard in the process. He has had highly
publicised clashes with Vice-President Joseph Msika, ZANU PF national chairman
John Nkomo and information chief Nathan Shamuyarira this year alone.
ZANU PF presidency, made up of President Robert Muga-be, Msika, Joyce Mujuru and
Nkomo, vetoed Moyo’s central committee nomination and dropped him from the
politburo—the party’s Soviet-style ultimate decision-making body.
who brought Moyo and other unelected young ZANU PF members into his “war”
cabinet in 2000, has said he will not appoint non-constituency Members of
Parliament (MPs) in his next cabinet.
Other notable parliamentary aspirants,
who were expected to throw their hats into the ring in the ZANU PF primaries to
be held on January 15, include economic commentator Samuel Unde-nge, former
Zimbabwe United Passenger Com-pany (ZUPCO) chief executive Bright Mato-nga,
Eddison Zvobgo (Jr), as well as several party functionaries facing disciplinary
action in the aftermath of the highly divisive central committee and politburo
Six party chairpersons- July Moyo of Midlands, Daniel Shumba of
Masvi-ngo, Themba Ncube of Bulawayo, Lloyd Siyoka of Matebeleland South, Jacob
Mudenda of Mate-beleland North and Mark Madiro of Manicaland- have been
suspended for six months for attending the now infamous Tsho-lotsho meeting,
which is proving to be many ZANU PF politicians’ waterloo. They automatically
become ineligible to stand in the primaries.
Also in a spot of bother is war
veterans leader Joseph Chinotimba, who covets the Glen Norah seat in Harare,
where the ZANU PF provincial executive has passed a no-confidence vote in him,
reportedly for his unexplained role in the Tsholotsho tryst. Former cabinet
minister and Mbare legislator Tony Gara, who is eyeing a return to parliament on
the Mbare seat, also finds himself in the same predicament.
The return of
Masho-naland West adversaries Philip Chiyangwa and Kindness Paradza to
parliament is also uncertain.
The former is currently held in custody by
state security agents, reportedly on espionage charges, while the latter was
this week arrested for allegedly fanning intra-party violence in his Makonde
constituency. Paradza became the second ZANU PF MP to be arrested in connection
with politically motivated violence, after Phone Madiro of Hurungwe West.
The party, long accused of using violence to influence the outcome of
elections, has of late made pronouncements against coercion.
Chiyangwa’s case, however, which would embolden the ZANU PF old guard in its
quest to return to the centre of the party and to systematically cull uppity
Nkomo has in the recent past voiced concerns over “infiltration”
of ZANU PF by elements intent on destroying the party from within.
infiltrated by a few termites, which began their long journey of burrowing
through our core values of liberation, discipline, unity, respect and loyalty.
“They also began a process of recruiting from among our members,
ring-fencing those that they would take into captivity, to work as slaves in
building their own new empire.
“They took some captives from among the
leadership and the general membership, spawning a process of counter-revolution
that has destabilised the very foundation of our party,” Nkomo recently wrote in
his weekly column carried in ZANU PF’s Voice
|Bennett to remain MP
12/31/2004 9:18:31 AM (GMT
POLITICAL vultures eyeing
jailed Chimanimani Member of Parliament (MP) Roy Bennett’s seat will fly back to
their nests with disappointment after Parliament ruled out the possibility of a
Deputy Clerk of Parliament Helen
Dingane told The Financial Gazette yesterday that the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) legislator was still an MP since he was not convicted in a criminal
“He is still a member of the House in as far as I know. Bennett was
sentenced by Parliament and his case cannot be treated as a criminal court
conviction. I would have to consult the minister responsible,” Dingane said.
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa had
earlier on referred this reporter to Parliament, saying the House was in better
position to comment.
Bennett was slapped with a one-year jail sentence for
contempt of Parliament after being convicted of assaulting Chinamasa and
Minister of Anti-Corruption and Anti-Monopolies Didymus Mutasa during a heated
debate in the House.
The jailed MP has since taken his case to the Supreme
Court after Parliament barred the High Court from hearing his application for
the court to overturn his sentence.
Pro-government economic analyst Samuel
Undenge and Wankie Colliery Company board chairman Munacho Mutezo and a member
of the ruling ZANU PF’s central committee, who lost the seat in the 2000
parliamentary race, had been cited as contenders for Bennett’s seat.
contenders for the position were Misheck Beta, a twin brother to Shadreck, a
prominent businessman in Manicaland, retired Major Matsikinyere and Major
Only last week, Parliament spared jailed Finance
Minister Christopher Kuruneri the boot pending the completion of a court case in
which the minister is facing allegations of externalising foreign currency and
breaching the Citizenship Act.
Under normal circumstances, Parliament ejects
legislators absent for at least 21 consecutive sitings, paving the way for a
by-election to replace the incumbent.
Early in the year, Parliament filled
up the seat left vacant by former MDC legislator Tafadzwa Musekiwa, who skipped
the country and sought refuge in the United Kingdom.
|Gono’s delicate balancing
12/31/2004 9:44:10 AM (GMT
Speaking in military
metaphors soon after his appointment, Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor
Gideon Gono said inflation was, for Zimbabwe, public enemy number one. The
runaway triple-digit inflation, which mirrored Zimbabwe’s economic malaise, was
at that time, to all intents and purposes, inching towards the 1 000 mark.
Indeed at the centre of his maiden
monetary policy agenda, along with bolstering faltering exports and stabilising
the exchange rate regime, was ridding the economy of hyperinflation. The
inflation scourge, blamed, among other things, on government profligacy, was
crying out for urgent attention.
It was and still is the millstone around
the economy’s neck. It destroyed jobs and undermined productivity gains. This is
why individuals as diverse as gilt-edged stock investors interested in real
returns and house wives alike are now, more than any other time, paying more
attention to inflationary trends.
All sectors of the economy felt the
inflation pinch, which wreaked havoc across the economy. Businesses were
increasingly finding it difficult to plan even a month ahead while consumers
expected large automatic price increases month-by-month, if not day-by-day. Even
at the current levels, companies have to factor inflation when deciding how to
invest their capital. Yet business planning would be much easier if companies do
not have to factor inflation into their models.
A well-documented case of
how inflation can destroy economic pride and promise, dreams and aspirations was
only last year when insurance giant Old Mutual phased out an estimated 200 000
policies worth a whopping $15 billion to arrest a savage inflation-induced slump
in the values of those policies. There was the real risk that policyholders
could be left holding on to insurance policies that were not worth the paper
they were written on! If nothing else, this cruel twist of fate, which caught
many policyholders unawares, underlines the economic fallout and sweeping nature
of debilitating inflation.
Zimbabwe also needs to bring its inflation rate
in line with its major trading partners. This is because high inflation normally
leads to depreciation of a currency, hence the speculative funds we have seen
moving out of the country as a bet on the fall in the value of the local unit,
which has lost considerably against the hard currencies.
That is why Gono
has set his sight on achieving price stability. He believes that holding the
line on inflation is key to economic stability whereas inflation imposes a speed
limit to economic growth. He is not alone in this belief. The chairman of the US
Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan, probably the most influential person in the
global financial markets today, also does. So did his predecessor Paul Volcker.
That is why they marshalled all forces of monetary policy towards taming
“. . . Inflation interferes with the efficient allocation of
resources by confusing price signals undercutting a focus on the long run, and
distorting incentives . . .” said Greenspan in his Federal Reserve Semiannual
Monetary Policy Report presented to the US Senate on February 26 1997. And he
could not have said it any better.
On his part, Gono has been working with
characteristic zeal to ensure that monetary policy can best foster the highest
rate of sustainable growth possible. And so far so good. Three-hundred,
sixty-five and a quarter days down the line after he fired the first salvo, the
enemy is in retreat with the governor slowly emerging as an old-school
anti-inflation hawk of the traditional economy.
It is however imperative to
point out that while the central bank has won the battles, surprisingly
breaching its own self-imposed inflationary targets, the war is still far from
over. Admittedly, his monetary policy provided something like an electric jolt
to an economy that had collapsed into a recessionary heap. Consequently, the
past few months witnessed an accelerated decline in the rate of inflation but
inflationary pressures have not eased much. They are still simmering beneath the
surface. That is why, the fact that there is a psychological component to
inflation notwithstanding, inflationary fears are not receding. And Gono, who in
a short one year has become a symbol of Zimbabwean economic pre-eminence, has
admitted as much.
The once reassuringly resilient economy is still caught up
in stagflation — even at 149 percent, inflation is still high, while industrial
activity and employment levels are falling. Which is why we feel that it is not
yet time for the central bank to take its foot off the pedal.
major player, the government, which over the years has shown that other than
fuelling inflation it is incapable of tackling what now seems to be a complex
problem, also has to play ball, for nothing short of tough remedial action could
enable the central bank to bring down inflation — the suppurating national ulcer
— to single-digit levels.
The powers-that-be must indeed bite the proverbial
bullet and continue with austere anti-inflation measures no matter how unpopular
they might be. True, Zimbabwe is facing a watershed parliamentary poll where
political expediency could force the government, facing a deep well of
disenchantment from a deprived electorate, to exploit the power of incumbency by
seeking recourse to political measures as a remedy to economic woes.
would, however, be counter-productive for the government to persist with such
kind of folly. It is no longer time for populist policies but for pragmatism.
And therein lies the delicate balancing act for Gono and his team at the RBZ for
which they require stakeholder support. While the government might have been
cooperative by reining in expenditure over the past year, it would be quite a
task to instil fiscal discipline in a government facing a tough election.
that as it may, the governor, a staunch defender of a tight monetary policy to
keep inflation under control, who has also the advantage of being listened to in
high places, should press on with his missionary zeal for fiscal rectitude for
the government to control its insatiable appetite for cash. It is well known
that government profligacy has for years been stoking the inflationary fires.
The situation as regards the Zimbabwean inflationary problems reads more
like a crossword puzzle with only half the clues and no black squares, so to
speak. It is not only excessive government expenditure fuelled by politically
motivated unbudgeted spending that is an issue here. There is another Catch 22
situation. While there is need for a tight monetary policy to further bring down
inflation, the economy would also have to be pulled out of a severe recession
through, among other measures, reduction of interest rates to stimulate economic
activity. This in itself is a contradiction in terms. Not an insurmountable task
but by no means an easy one for someone like Gono whom Zimbabweans look up to,
to ensure the availability of money for business, consumer loans, job creation
and overall economic growth.
Business Day Zimbabwe wins bid to host Miss Tourism World
Zimbabwe has won a bid to host next year's Miss Tourism beauty pageant to be
attended by contestants from 72 countries, state media said on Thursday.
According to ZIANA state news agency, Zimbabwe "was
selected ahead of strong contenders, China and Thailand, to host the event which
will see 72 contenders from around the world converging" at the prime resort
town of Victoria Falls.
"The central thrust and over-arching principle of Miss
Tourism World is simply to promote tourism across the world and particularly in
those parts of the world in dire need of tourism promotion," John Singh,
president of the Miss World Tourism Organisation was quoted as saying.
Zimbabwe's tourism has suffered a huge slump in recent
years due to an economic and political crisis experienced since around 2000 but
government has placed the blame on negative reporting by international media.
The first half of this year saw the number of tourists
drop by at least one third compared to last year.
Zimbabwe's tourism authorities foresee the hosting of
the beauty pageant boosting the industry which once brought in 12.5% of
Zimbabwe's gross domestic product and about 11% of total foreign exchange
"What appeared as a far-fetched dream has become a
reality ... and it is a great chance for Zimbabwe's tourism to flourish," said
Shingi Munyeza, chief executive officer of a leading group of hotels.
"It is a chance for the world to see that Zimbabwe is a
safe tourist destination," said Tourism Minister Francis Nhema.
Singh said organisers had initially raised security
concerns about Zimbabwe but "we have come and we have seen and we are totally
satisfied that the reports we all read about Zimbabwe in the media are not
exactly what (the situation) is on the ground".
The spectacular northwestern Victoria Falls and the vast
game reserves have been Zimbabwe's prime tourist attractions.
Miss Tourism World has been running for 20 years. Of the
72 countries taking party in February 2005, 37 are European, 11 African, 11
Latin America, seven Asia countries.