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Mugabe, Tsvangirai strike poll pact

January 4, 2013 in Politics

PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is reportedly ready to relinquish power to Prime
Minister Morgan Tsvangirai should the premier win critical elections
expected around June this year, the Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.

Report by Owen Gagare

Sources close to the two erstwhile bitter rivals revealed that Mugabe
and Tsvangirai held a series of meetings in December over the make-or-break
elections and agreed to ensure they would be held in a peaceful environment
to guarantee a free and fair outcome thus allowing the country to move
forward. They both agreed that whoever loses should accept defeat for the
sake of political stability.

The unity government partners agreed to safeguard the smooth running of the
electoral process by meeting the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and Human
Rights Commission, both essential in the electoral process, to assess their
preparedness for the vote.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai, once sworn enemies who now seem to have found each
other courtesy of the almost four-year-old Government of National Unity,
agreed that the Zimbabwean crisis had dragged on for far too long with
devastating socio-economic consequences, and credible elections were crucial
to resolving the current political gridlock.

Presidential spokesperson George Charamba confirmed that the principals met
several times to discuss the constitution-making process and timing of
elections although “no meeting had been convened to discuss the etiquette of
winning or losing elections”.

Charamba also confirmed there was an “understanding” that victors should win
with grace and losers should accept defeat, although he said this was not
agreed at a specific meeting, but was reached as a result of constant
interaction between the inclusive government and political principals.

“That understanding is not a result of a specific meeting,” said Charamba.
“It’s the inevitable outcome of the daily interactions across parties in
cabinet, in the context of principals’ meetings and private meetings between
them. I don’t think the president sees Tsvangirai as a rival. They see each
other as contestants who can still meet a day after the elections,” Charamba

However, Charamba said Mugabe was confident of winning the polls.

“We are working flat out for a win and we are looking forward to receiving a
congratulatory message from the prime minister when we win.”
Charamba said Mugabe’s relationship with Tsvangirai had evolved with time
and the country was now moving away from the politics of rancour, bitterness
and boycotts.

Constant interactions had resulted in people finding each other and
realising they all have a duty to build Zimbabwe, he said. “My personal view
is that we have discovered in our politics that even saints have faults
while demons have friendly attributes.”

Charamba said Mugabe wanted a government in place before the country
celebrates its Independence on April 18, and by the time the country hosts
the United Nations World Tourism Organisation general assembly in August,
and was therefore pushing for early polls.

Mugabe and Tsvangirai met after sustained pressure from Sadc, which
continues to insist on free and fair elections. Sadc is the guarantor of the
Global Political Agreement (GPA) which gave birth to the present inclusive
government. This was after the disputed June 2008 presidential poll run-off
in which the military launched a brutal and bloody campaign to retain Mugabe
in power. Tsvangirai had earlier defeated Mugabe but fell short of the
required majority to assume office.

South African President Jacob Zuma, the Sadc-appointed facilitator to the
Zimbabwean political crisis and his Tanzanian counterpart, Jakaya Kikwete
who chairs the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-operation,
have been pushing hard for credible polls to end the political
logjam.Zimbabwe was represented at the meeting by Foreign Affairs minister
Simbarashe Mumbengegwi as Mugabe was attending his Zanu PF party conference
in Gweru.

Sources said Mugabe wanted to salvage his soiled legacy by delivering a
peaceful, free, fair and credible election, hence his decision to task
Tsvangirai with ensuring the proper groundwork is laid for polls. Tsvangirai
has been meeting Zec officials as part of this mandate.

Tsvangirai informed the MDC-T national executive and national council on
December 18 and 19 that he had held useful meetings with Mugabe and urged
his party to be ready for polls, which he said could be held in June.

Tsvangirai’s chief of staff Alex Magaisa said he was unaware of any deal or
an agreement on the election date, although he confirmed there seemed to be
a consensus to deliver free and fair polls.
“What I can confirm is that the prime minister and the president, although I
cannot speak on his (Mugabe) behalf, are united on the point that the next
elections should be credible and legitimate,” said Magaisa.

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Zec dalliance with Zanu PF raises eyebrows

January 4, 2013 in Politics

RECENT meetings the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) has been holding
with individual political parties have raised concerns the body is not yet
independent enough to preside over a free and fair poll.

Report by Elias Mambo/Herbert Moyo

Although Zec is mandated to provide electoral information to all parties, it
is its meeting with Zanu PF that has raised suspicions after it emerged the
body prepared a report advising the party to devise strategies to prevent
voter apathy in national elections expected in June.

Zanu PF politburo sources told the Zimbabwe Independent the party is taking
Zec’s recommendations seriously and included them in a report tabled at its
conference in Gweru last month.

“They (Zec) gave us advice on dealing with voter apathy as a way of ensuring
our success in the forthcoming elections,” said one source.
“We tabled those recommendations at the conference because we take them

Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa said there is nothing
wrong in getting reports from Zec.

“If you ask for anything from Zec they must give you their response and that
will be a report,” said Mutasa. “Any party can contact Zec and ask them what
they want to know concerning electoral issues.”
The Welshman Ncube-led MDC said Zec’s role should be limited to creating a
conducive atmosphere for elections.

The MDC-T met Zec in November over the voters’ roll. The party has been
calling for a complete overhaul of the Zec secretariat saying it is staffed
with former soldiers and security officials.

In its Minimum Conditions for Sustainable Elections report, the MDC-T says
“the new Zec must have the opportunity of recruiting staff afresh and not be
saddled with legacy issues of the past”.
In the 2008 elections Zec withheld presidential poll results for five weeks
after Zanu PF had lost its parliamentary majority for the first time since

Political observers said Zec should not hold separate meetings with
political parties since it has always been suspected of having Zanu PF

“If Zec meets political parties separately it exposes its duplicity and
partisan nature making it unfit to administer the next polls,” said Zimbabwe
Democracy Institute director Pedzisai Ruhanya.

However, Zec deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe refuted allegations of
partisanship saying her organisation has an open-door policy.

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Mugabe, Tsvangirai brace for poll battle

January 4, 2013 in Politics

ZIMBABWE is bracing itself for crucial elections this year and once again
the battle for supremacy is likely to be between President Robert Mugabe’s
Zanu PF and the MDC-T, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s, although Welshman
Ncube’s MDC may snatch enough seats to have a say on how the country is
governed for the next five years.

Report by Owen Gagare

The polls, which President Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party insist will
be in March although the MDC formations and other political players believe
the deadline is unrealistic, would bring to an end the inclusive government’s
acrimony-riddled tenure.

The inclusive government has been dominated by endless squabbles which
resulted in the MDC-T threatening to pull out in October 2009 over the
non-implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

Some of the provisions of the GPA are still to be implemented while constant
bickering over the constitution-making process, one of the key signposts for
elections, has resulted in a three-year delay.

According to the GPA the constitution-making process should have been
completed in 18 months, but has limped on with little hope of completion
since 2009.

There seems to be a realisation or a reluctant acceptance by the MDC
formations that Zanu PF would not fully honour the GPA, and some issues
would have to be addressed by the next government.

In any case, elections are also constitutionally due this year, leaving the
parties with little choice but to go for polls.

The political parties are increasingly in election mode as evidenced by the
intensifying campaigns going on countrywide despite the fact that the
parties are still to hold their primary elections.

Zanu PF has been campaigning through Mugabe’s presidential inputs scheme and
the economic empowerment and indigenisation programme, while a host of party
supporters who wish to stand on the party’s ticket are going around
campaigning and donating all sorts of goodies amid charges of brazen

The MDC-T is preparing for its primaries and candidate-confirmation process.
Potential candidates from the party have also been campaigning.

Ncube has been holding rallies almost every weekend while his team has been
very active on the social media scene, canvasing for support.

For the first time since Independence, Zanu PF lost its parliamentary
majority in the 2008 harmonised polls while Mugabe lost the first round of
the presidential polls to Tsvangirai.

He was rescued by the military, which embarked on a brutal and bloody
campaign to intimidate the electorate ahead of the June 27 presidential
election runoff.

The battle for the presidency is expected to be between Mugabe and
Tsvangirai once again.

Mugabe is still riding on his and Zanu PF’s liberation war credentials which
he has always bragged about in the run-up to previous elections, but which,
alone, can no longer assure him of sufficient votes from a hard-pressed
electorate which wants bread-and-butter issues addressed.

The role the veteran ruler and his Zanu PF peers played during the war is
however widely respected and revered in some quarters to the extent some
voters would sympathise or identify with him regardless of circumstances. He
is widely seen as a symbol of the fight against imperialism, but it remains
to be seen if his controversial empowerment programme will sway the vote in
his favour.

Mugabe and Zanu PF’s biggest problem is the veteran leader’s age. He is
turning 89 next month and has clearly been slowed down by old age and

Even high ranking Zanu PF officials are not sure he would be able to
withstand the rigours of a presidential campaign, but have not been bold
enough to ask him to step aside.

At 89, Mugabe surely does not represent the future and Zanu PF may pay
dearly for its failure to choose someone to succeed him.
The party has also been in power for too long, analysts say, and is blamed
for running down a once thriving economy, although Zanu PF insists sanctions
are the major cause.

Zanu PF would be going into the elections divided by its failure to solve
the succession issue, which has resulted in extensive factionalism.

The party has been divided into two large camps, one allegedly led by
Vice -President Joice Mujuru and the other by Defence minister Emmerson

The entry of the MDC formations into the coalition government is viewed as
one of the reasons why the economy has somewhat stabilised and that could be
a plus for them going into the elections.
MDC-T could cash-in and get a majority. The party has come up with an
ambitious economic policy, Jobs Upliftment Investment Capital and the
Environment (Juice) and it remains to be seen how the electorate will warm
to it.

Corruption allegations and Tsvangirai’s personal indiscretions may, however,
sway some voters against the party.

The MDC-T is also sharply divided over the selection criteria of candidates
with the leadership insisting on the confirmation of sitting MPs while the
grassroots are demanding open primaries.

The confirmation criteria is seen as a ploy by the party’s leadership to
ring-fence their seats but this has created discontent which may work
against the performance of the party in the polls.
It would be a miracle if Ncube’s MDC wins the presidential election or
secures a parliamentary majority, but the party’s best bet would be to
secure as many seats as possible in Matabeleland.

The party’s biggest drawback is the belief in some circles that it is
pushing a tribal agenda, an allegation vehemently denied by Ncube and his

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Coalition to fight Zanu PF, MDC-T

January 4, 2013 in Politics

THE MDC formation led by Professor Welshman Ncube, Zapu and the Patriotic
Union of Matabeleland (Puma) have signed an agreement to unite during
elections expected later this year to fight MDC-T and Zanu PF in
Matabeleland and the Midlands.

Brian Chitemba

Top level sources told the Zimbabwe Independent on Wednesday that
representatives of the political parties recently met in South Africa where
they signed documents to seal the deal.

Zapu secretary-general Ralph Mguni and MDC treasurer Paul Themba Nyathi
reached an agreement on behalf of their parties after several months of
engagement, according to a senior MDC official.

Zapu president Dumiso Dabengwa and MDC spokesman Nhlanhla Dube denied that
an agreement to unite during the elections had been sealed, but sources
insisted Dabengwa agreed to endorse Ncube as the presidential candidate
while the parties will work on a formula to share constituencies in
Bulawayo, and Matabeleland North and South.

“I am not aware of the agreement; there is nothing like that,” said

But sources said the parties agreed to keep the deal under wraps “until an
appropriate time”.

“There is also going to be a working formula of how Puma will be supported
in some constituencies by the MDC and Zapu. It’s a coalition of parties that
share a common vision and goals,” said a source.

The political parties, which are largely popular in Matabeleland and
Midlands regions, are vocal on calling for devolution of power to be
provided for in the new governance charter despite spirited resistance from
Zanu PF.

Apart from the Midlands and Matabeleland regions, the parties are also
eyeing some constituencies in Manicaland.

“The whole idea is to make sure the parties unite and win constituencies to
create a hung parliament so that Zanu PF and the MDC-T won’t have free
reign,” said the source. “This will enable Matabeleland MPs to push for
issues that are sensitive to the region like devolution of power and
Gukurahundi compensation.”

The political parties have repeatedly said the only way to topple President
Robert Mugabe from his 32-year iron-fist rule was a strong coalition to
avoid splitting votes to the advantage of Zanu PF.

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Voter registration exercise postponed

January 4, 2013 in News

IN the latest sign that President Robert Mugabe’s demands for elections in
March would be impossible to fulfil, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)’s
voter registration exercise scheduled to have commenced yesterday suffered a
still-birth due to cash constraints.

Report by Herbert Moyo

Zec deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe confirmed the delay in disbursing funds
from treasury had resulted in the postponement of the exercise which her
organisation was supposed to conduct together with the office of the

“We were supposed to have started (voter registration) yesterday but the
money for the exercise still hasn’t come. We were told the money is coming
but as you are aware the year is only starting so we will just wait,”
Kazembe told the Zimbabwe Independent in an interview on Wednesday.

Kazembe said the exercise, which would see outreach teams being deployed to
all parts of the country, is intended to “upgrade and clean up the voters’

“We intend to remove all deceased persons and add new voters onto the roll,”
she said.

Zec deputy public relations officer Tendayi Pamire recently told the state
media that their records indicate there are currently 5,5 million people
registered to vote, and urged more to come forward and register.

Kazembe also stated they expected the exercise to last at least two months,
a scenario which would see the exercise spilling into March, and therefore
making it impossible for elections to be held that month as demanded by
Mugabe. The registration exercise is just one of many impediments standing
in the way of early elections, with the completion of the
constitution-making exercise being the main stumbling block.

Zec and the Registrar-General’s office have in the past been accused of
partisanship in the running of elections, particularly from the MDC
formations who allege that the voters’ roll is full of ghost voters and
prone to manipulation.

A top research institute, the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute, recently alleged
the Zec secretariat remains wholly unreformed and full of intelligence
agents and cannot deliver free and fair elections, allegations which have
also been made by the MDC-T.

Zec has previously said it requires US$220 million for both the referendum
and elections.

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Chisumbanje ethanol set for mandatory blending

January 4, 2013 in News

THE Chisumbanje Ethanol Project is set to resume production on Monday after
the adoption of recommendations of the inter-ministerial committee chaired
by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.

Report by Brian Chitemba

After a series of visits and meetings, the cabinet committee finally agreed
on an adoption of mandatory blending starting with 5% and gradually moving
to 10% and 20%, paving way for the resumption of operations at the massive

Sources said stocks of ethanol have been moved from Feruka in Mutare to
Msasa in Harare in preparation for mandatory blending.

The inter-ministerial committee recommended that only E5 be mandatory while
that of E10, E20, E85 and E100 blends continue as optional products on the
market for vehicles compatible with them.

The committee stated that logistics and infrastructure for all blending
levels must be developed quickly and should be done from Msasa and at oil
companies’ outlets until alternative sites are in place; in particular
modifications at Feruka.

Sources said all the necessary infrastructure and logistics were in place
for operations to resume at Chisumbanje after production stopped in February
when Green Fuel failed to get government support for the 10% mandatory

The company pinned its hopes on mandatory blending to help sell 10 million
litres of ethanol it had produced.

Repeated efforts to get a comment from Green Fuel spokesperson Lilian
Muungani were fruitless as she had not responded to questions sent to her

Energy minister Elton Mangoma vehemently resisted Green Fuel’s proposal for
mandatory E10 saying there was no justification in enacting a law to benefit
one private company.

The Chisumbanje project is a joint venture between private companies Macdom
Investments, Rating and the state-run Arda. It employs about 4 500 workers
who were being paid just 55% of their salaries since operations stopped last

Green Fuel suspended production at Chisumbanje after finding itself stuck
with ethanol due to a low market uptake. The problem was further compounded
by the lack of additional storage for a third product in the form of E10 by
most fuel retail outlets.

Green Fuel believes the introduction of mandatory blending of ethanol and
petrol would make the project viable and help Zimbabwe cut its massive fuel
import bill. There are also concerns that the company is still to compensate
villagers who were displaced to make way for the project. Over 287 villagers
were forced to relocate to Mozambique.

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Zesa pre-paid metering no magic bullet

January 4, 2013 in News

AFTER many years of persistently crying foul for being ripped off by Zesa’s
estimation-based billing system, many residents countrywide have finally
heaved a sigh of relief after the power utility’s on-going installation of
pre-paid meters.

Report by Wongai Zhangazha

Zesa had for years been short-changing hard-pressed consumers by sending
them estimated bills resulting in residents paying inflated bills despite
intermittent power cuts that occasionally stretched for days or weeks in
some areas.

Consumers also complained Zesa bills were frequently late, making it
difficult to budget for power consumption.

Last year the Zimbabwe Electricity Transmission and Distribution Company
(ZETDC), a subsidiary of Zesa Holdings, embarked on wholesale replacement of
all conventional post-paid meters with pre-paid meters.

The project involves the migration of about 600 000 domestic and small
business customers from credit metering to pre-paid or “smart metering” over
a 10- month period.

As of December 2012, about 23 000 meters had been installed in Harare and

The new meters have been installed in the Avenues area, Mabelreign, the new
Willowvale Flats in Highfield and Belvedere, while in Bulawayo they have
been installed in Emganwini, Paddonhurst and Mahatshula.

Other areas earmarked for deployment of pre-paid meters are Chitungwiza,
Gweru, Kwekwe, Mutare, Masvingo, Chinhoyi, Bindura, Kadoma and Marondera.

Residents have widely applauded the project, saying they are relieved to
have the freedom to manage their electricity bills by paying for actual

ZETDC commercial director Enock Ncube said the initiative has given the
utility the capacity to deliver on its main role of facilitating the
improvement of availability of electricity to the populace, as well as the
attainment of self-sufficiency in electricity generation.

Ncube said: “The utility is a key enabler of the country’s economic recovery
under the new Medium Term Policy, and as such introduction of pre-payment
meters to customers is one of the key pillars to achieve business excellence
and turn around service delivery in the short and long-term.”

According to Zesa officials, the pre-paid tariff is lower than the metered
tariff as it eliminates meter reading, billing and postage costs.

The officials added that electricity debt on the post-paid account would be
transferred to the new pre-paid account, meaning 20% of pre-paid electricity
purchase would go towards clearing the consumer’s debt.

Although the pre-paid meters have proved popular with residents who can now
budget how much they want to spend on electricity, there are fears
installation of the meters does not address the problem of cost since Zesa
still owes millions of US dollars in power imports, or the availability of
power in the country. Zesa produces about 1 200MW of electricity against a
national demand of 2 200MW.

Installation of pre-paid meters may also result in poor households and
essential service providers such as clinics and hospitals finding themselves
without power after failing to buy electricity since the meters have turned
power into a cash commodity.

Most essential service providers depend on government and donor funding,
meaning they can only settle their bills after funding has been secured. The
pre-paid meter system does not make an allowance for most essential services
being plunged into darkness for far longer periods compared to the power
cuts era as electricity would only be restored after topping up.

Electricity tariffs are likely to go up due to the wholesale installation of
pre-paid meters given that power has to be purchased from the Democratic
Republic of Congo and Mozambique, analysts said.

“It appears as though government has decided to pass on the cost (of power
imports) to the user without democratically explaining affordability of the
important energy source for many urban households and industries,” said an
analyst who requested anonymity.

“It’s a decision to privatise electricity to allow Zesa to pass on the cost
to the consumer at unreasonable rates, while at the same time claiming to be

Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association co-ordinator Rodrick Fayayo
applauded the pre-paid system for doing away with the discredited estimate
billing system.

“The relief that came with that project is that it has dealt with the
problem of estimate billing,” said Fayayo. “However, electricity will now be
turned into a commercial service rather than a basic right. If you don’t
have money then you don’t have electricity. In Bulawayo, there are many
residents who are elderly and child-headed households which cannot afford to
buy electricity. What happens to them? What is Zesa’s plan for them? I think
Zesa did not fully prepare for this initiative and had selfish reasons.”

Consumer Council of Zimbabwe executive director Rosemary Siyachitema said
although her organisation was at the forefront of pushing for pre-paid
meters, it was yet to do a proper assessment of Zesa’s initiatives from a
consumer perspective.

“We have not done an assessment yet of the progress so far over the pre-paid
meters from a consumer point of view,” Siyachitema said. “This is something
we plan to do mid-year.”

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Zimbos’ ordeal at SA detention centres

January 4, 2013 in News

AS thousands of Zimbabweans are deported from South Africa, hundreds of
migrant children awaiting deportation are being held in appalling conditions
in detention facilities near Johannesburg and Musina, despite calls from
legal and medical human rights groups to improve conditions.

Report by Tendai Marima

Immigration authorities say about 43 000 Zimbabweans were deported from
South Africa in 2012.

Among the deportees were accompanied and unaccompanied minors. Up to 600
unaccompanied minors were sent back to Zimbabwe by South African authorities
in 2012.

Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) of South Africa reported that between October
and December 2011, 86 children aged between two and 17 were deported by the

LHR is presently representing five Zimbabwean boys detained at Musina Police
Station and a Congolese teenager being held at the Lindela detention
facility just outside Johannesburg.

The minors have been detained longer than the stipulated maximum 120 days
prescribed by South Africa’s Immigration Act and Immigration Regulations.

According to LHR executive director Kaajal Ramjathan-Keogh, the South
African Children’s Act prevents the detention of children for immigration
purposes and states that they cannot be removed without a court order.

“Section 138 of the Children’s Act prohibits the unlawful detention of
children as well as their removal without a court order,” said
Ramjathan-Keogh. “The Children’s Act is applicable to all children living
within South African borders. It does not exclude children who have entered
the country through irregular channels,” Ramjathan-Keogh said.

LHR says in a report, Monitoring Detention and Immigration in South Africa,
children are often held together with adults in overcrowded cells in
contravention of immigration laws, further raising concerns about the safety
and general well-being of children.

“Conditions at detention facilities, including at the Lindela Repatriation
Centre, which shelters detained women and children, and especially detention
facilities in the Musina area near the Zimbabwean border, also remain well
below minimum standards,” reads the report.

“Regarding detention facilities in the Musina area, children are often
detained and deported with adults, even though this is against the law,” the
report says.

The report further claims detention cells at Lindela and Musina are in bad
condition as some detainees interviewed by LHR complained of inadequate
meals and sleeping in dirty cells with lice-infested blankets.

“These cells do not have the requisite capacity to hold the numbers of
Zimbabweans who are arrested and the overcrowding in the cells is a serious

“LHR continues to monitor these detentions in Musina and lobbies for
improved conditions there,” states the report.

However, the decrepit conditions of detention and the threat of deportation
have not deterred Zimbabwean minors from illegally crossing the Limpopo
River into South Africa without any form of documentation.

According to Professor Lesiba Matsaung of the United Dutch Reformed Church
who runs two shelters for boys and girls and founder of Nancefield in
Musina, up to 30 women and girls come to the shelter every week, while the
boys’ shelter has up to 50 males seeking refuge every week.

“All of them jumped the border illegally,” said Matsaung. “Some of the
females are as young as 13. When they arrive here, some tell us they were
gang-raped at the border. Some are also raped here in Musina by people who
lure them to secluded areas after promising to help them with shelter, jobs
and food,” Matsaung said.

Matsaung said the shelters provided by his church also offered counselling
to rape victims, but added that older rape victims were reluctant to report
violations partly because of fear that the perpetrators may seek revenge as
well as the stigma associated with it.

“Most of them do not want us to open criminal cases with the police because
of fear of victimisation by the perpetrators. But elderly women also avoid
opening criminal cases to avoid going to court, which means exposing them to
their families and partners,” Matsaung said.

Although South Africa is a signatory to the Convention of the Rights of the
Child, which states that unaccompanied or accompanied migrant children must
receive the necessary humanitarian assistance, Zimbabwe’s undocumented
minors hoping for a better life across the Limpopo risk being detained in
inhospitable conditions and in some cases, enduring physical and verbal
abuse from South African immigration authorities.

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Mzembi dismisses UNWTO conference fears

January 4, 2013 in News

TOURISM minister Walter Mzembi has dismissed concerns that slow progress in
rehabilitating infrastructure in Victoria Falls would result in Zimbabwe
failing to meet requisite international standards for the successful hosting
of the United Nations World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) general assembly
set for August this year.

Herbert Moyo

Observers have castigated the slow progress in upgrading the Victoria Falls
International Airport and the construction of a conference centre to house
the more than 3 000 delegates expected for the gathering, but Mzembi is
adamant all would be in place for the conference.

A visit this week by the Zimbabwe Independent to both Victoria Falls and
Livingstone, Zambia, the co-hosts of the UNWTO, revealed that both towns
have still not completed infrastructural development crucial to the success
of the event.

Mzembi conceded that the upgrading of the airport was long overdue because
“each time you land two or three planes, you have people flowing on the
tarmac and we must fix that, not just for the UNWTO but for people who will
be coming at other times”.

He, however, said there was still enough time to meet deadlines for the
construction of major facilities, especially after government started to
release funds.

Mzembi said his ministry would be receiving US$6 million from Finance
minister Tendai Biti this week as part of government funding for the airport
and conference centre which would immediately start.

He also disclosed Biti availed US$350 000 last week to enable his ministry
to participate in fairs in Germany and Spain as part of efforts to market
the UNWTO and Zimbabwe as a viable tourist destination.

Mzembi said he had secured a buy-in from the corporate sector as he seeks to
deliver a memorable world class event. The biggest single investment is US$5
million expected from diamond mining firm Mbada Diamonds.

“Mbada will inject funds towards conferencing and hosting of delegates,”
said Mzembi. “They will also sponsor the official UNWTO dinner at the
Victoria Falls Hotel where there will be 200 branded tables representing all
the nations held in the open air overlooking the Victoria Falls Bridge.”

Mzembi added that the deal was the culmination of a week of meetings held in
the resort town with top level Mbada executives.

“We also expect to conclude deals with Africa Sun and Innscor this week
which will see them coming in as strategic partners and even taking over the
ownership of the conference facility. In fact, the private sector is coming
in even more. They were waiting to test government commitment which has been
demonstrated through the release of seed funding.”

Zambia is yet to complete its infrastructural developments, which include a
new terminal at the Harry Nkumbula Airport and computerisation of the
Victoria Falls/Kazungula and Katima Mulilo border posts.

Other developments include the upgrading of ablution facilities, an
inter-city bus terminus and street lighting along Livingstone’s roads.
Zambian government officials in Livingstone confirmed that construction
would start this month and they expect to have finished everything by June.

Zambia also remains on the yellow fever alert which may scare away visitors
but Tourism minister Sylvia Masebo said they were working with the World
Health Organisation “with a view to getting the status down-listed from low
to zero risk”.

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Polls: Parties ready for ‘worst case scenario’

January 4, 2013 in News

ZIMBABWE’S political battlegrounds are likely to remain the same in 2013
despite significant demographic changes in the country as announced in the
preliminary census results released by Zimstat in December.

Report by Paidamoyo Muzulu

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) deputy chairperson Joyce Kazembe
announced that there would be no delimitation exercise ahead of elections
expected this year despite a 1,1% increase in the population figures
released by Zimstat.

“There is no delimitation this time around,” said Kazembe. “The 210
constituencies will remain like what they are now. Even in wards, we will
use what is there now.”

It marks the first time since Independence that Zimbabwe has failed to
undertake a delimitation exercise, especially with new population figures

The decision to skip delimitation smacks of political compromise and
expediency among the political elite. Zanu PF has been calling for elections
since the conception of the coalition government in 2009.

This is despite outstanding reforms that include a new constitution, Public
Order and Security Act amendments, security sector and media reforms as well
as liberalisation of the broadcasting sector.

MDC-T Harare spokesperson and Justice deputy minister Obert Gutu last week
said his party was readying itself for the worst case scenario of
participating in elections without full reforms.

“It’s apparent that the fascist faction in Zanu PF is determined to
completely collapse the process,” said Gutu. “I don’t want to sound like the
devil’s advocate but I sincerely urge all democrats to start preparing for
the worst case scenario where the make-or-break elections in 2013 might be
held under the Lancaster House constitution,” Gutu wrote on his Facebook

MDC-T policy adviser Eddie Cross shared the same sentiments, in an opinion
piece published online saying since Zanu PF has taken a position on
elections, the MDC-T too has to take one.

“It seems to me that they have heard the beaters start their slow drive
towards their position and are now determined to go for a confrontation with
the MDC,” Cross wrote. “On our part, we have also decided to go for it and
have agreed to go for a referendum in March and the election in June.”

According to Zimstat chairman Douglas Hoto, the country’s population as at
18 August 2012 was 12 973 808, up from the last recorded figure of 11,6
million in the 2002 census. The preliminary results show that there are
about 6 738 877 females and 6 234 931 males in Zimbabwe.

The decision to skip the delimitation exercise, Zec said, is due to the
government’s precarious financial position.

Zec says the decision to omit the delimitation exercise would reduce the
state’s poll budget from an estimated US$220 million to US$192 million. The
country changed from 120 constituencies to 210 in the 2008 harmonised
elections. Each constituency had an average population of 46 000 voters.

The massive increase in the number of constituencies meant the average voter
population per constituency was reduced to between 23 000 and 26 000. In
the past, constituency boundaries have always shifted depending on the
demographics immediately before an election.

Zimstat’s figures show that the northern half of Zimbabwe has more people
compared to the southern half.

Population distribution on a province by province basis shows Harare as the
most populous with 2 098 199 people, representing 16% of the total
population. Manicaland has 1 755 000 (14%), Midlands 1 622 476 (13%),
Masvingo 1 486 604 (11%), Mashonaland West 1 449 938 (11%), Mashonaland
Central 1 139 940 (9%), Matabeleland North 743 871 (6%), Bulawayo 655 675
(5%) and Matabeleland South 685 046 (5%).

Bulawayo is the only province to record a decrease in population with a
negative growth of -0,3%.

The political scene is now set for elections and the gladiators are staring
into each other’s eyes, with reforms taking a back seat.

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War vets: Public sympathy runs dry

January 4, 2013 in News

ALL over the world nations that endure violent struggles of liberation
remember their heroes with songs, folklore and writings that constitute
collective memory.

Report by Herbert Moyo

George Washington is revered as a hero of the 1776 war that resulted in
American independence from Britain, as is Napoleon Bonaparte whose military
conquests of other European states spanning a 20-year period from 1795 to
1815 brought glory to France.

In Zimbabwe, the exploits of the likes of Mbuya Nehanda and Mzilikazi are
recounted orally and in print and electronic media, as are those of heroes
from the 1970s liberation war who include Herbert Chitepo, Josiah Tongogara,
Joshua Nkomo and President Robert Mugabe.

According to Wilfred Mhanda, who commanded the Zimbabwe People’s Army
(Zipa) — an abortive attempt to unite the military wings of Zapu and Zanu
during the liberation struggle — a country can express its appreciation of
its war veterans “in material and other forms of genuine appreciation”.

Zimbabwe’s war veterans have been getting just that. Last month Zimbabwe
Defence Forces chief General Constantine Chiwenga is reported to have told
war veterans that Mugabe had promised them US$2 000 each in monthly payments
for nine months for their role in the liberation war.

While they helped liberate the country — as did many other ordinary people
who remain unsung and deserve a form of assistance from the state — war
vets, who arm-twisted Mugabe into paying them unbudgeted for gratuities in
1997 precipitating an economic decline which Zimbabwe is still to recover
from, are unlikely to win many sympathisers with their insatiable demands.

If anything, Chiwenga’s alleged utterances will aggravate the widespread
contempt for the ex-combatants whose association with Zanu PF’s brutal and
violent attempts to cling to power since 2000 have turned the once thriving
economy into a basket case while consigning the country to international
pariah status.

For a long time after Independence in 1980, the Zanu PF government paid lip
service to war vets’ needs, paying them pittances.

“The sums (Z$185 per month over 24 months soon after Independence) were far
short of what was required to adequately assist former combatants to ease
themselves back into the capitalist economy inherited from Rhodesia,” wrote
Zimbabwean scholars Gerald Mazarire and Martin Rupiya, in their assessment
of the demobilisation packages given to war vets soon after Independence.

Remembering the extreme hardships they had endured during the liberation
war, the former fighters were driven to form the Zimbabwe National
Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWA) in 1990 with Justice Charles
Hungwe as the founding chairperson.

In 1997, the leadership passed on to the late Chenjerai Hunzvi, a process
that also marked its transformation into a militant outfit.

Riding on a wave of popular sympathy, Hunzvi and his troops danced and
marched to State House, eventually arm-twisting Mugabe into paying them a
once-off Z$50 000 per person in 1997, education and medical benefits in
addition to a monthly government pension.

From that point on, Mugabe, now battling an increasingly restless civil
society, cunningly turned this humiliation to his party’s benefit. With the
ZNLWA torn apart by infighting, Mugabe took full advantage by persuading the
embattled Hunzvi faction to go to bed with Zanu PF.

Little did the nation know that Zanu PF had created Zimbabwe’s own version
of Frankenstein’s monster and that “trade off” between an embattled
government facing civil unrest due to economic hardships and a war vets
faction facing allegations of corruption, created the unholy alliance that
set Zimbabwe firmly down the road of political and social confrontation.

Human rights abuses on perceived Zanu PF opponents became rampant during
election campaigns from 2000, including murder, rape, torture and internal
displacement as the war vets ran the show.

Matters worsened after the defeat of Zanu PF’s constitutional review
proposals in February 2000 and the MDC gained 57 seats out of a possible 120
in the June 2000 elections.

Already involved in violent farm invasions, the ubiquitous ex-fighters
extended their reach to the resolution of labour disputes after forming the
Joseph Chinotimba-led Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions in an attempt to
counter the influence of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions, which had
broken ranks with Zanu PF and spearheaded the formation of the MDC.

Chinotimba even appeared as a guest on state radio offering his mobile phone
number to anyone who had a labour grievance and reached his zenith when
Mugabe introduced him to the then visiting Nigerian president Olusegun
Obasanjo at Harare airport.

In 2007, war vets’ leader Jabulani Sibanda organised the so-called “Million
Men March” aimed at mobilising support for Mugabe in the 2008 elections. He
followed this up with his infamous visits to the country’s provinces which
continue to this day, leaving a trail of destruction and fear.

In 2010, war vets disrupted Copac’s first all-stakeholders’ conference held
in Harare as part of the constitution-making exercise, sending MPs and
officials from other political parties scurrying for cover in the ensuing
violence, while police officers stood akimbo.

Finance minister Tendai Biti has received numerous unwelcome visits by the
rowdy war vets demanding hefty pay-outs from government and accusing him of
all sorts of economic and social crimes.

“These attacks are political,” said Biti as he castigated the police for
failing to provide security for hundreds of civil servants who were locked
inside their offices by war vets last year.

Political analyst Godwin Phiri said Zimbabweans should be worried about the
manner in which the war vets have shown they are mercenaries who can easily
be bought.

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Holidaying principals drag constitution talks

January 4, 2013 in News

THE principals’ annual leave is dragging out the on-going delicate draft
constitution negotiations as the negotiators have to constantly consult
their parties and principals on every contentious issue before making any
commitments to the draft.

Staff Writer

Constitutional and Parliamentary Affairs minister Eric Matinenga confirmed
negotiations, which missed the Christmas deadline, were still a further two
weeks from completion.

The committee worked right through the festive season, but failed to break
the current impasse.

Matinenga chairs the seven-member committee that is trying to reconcile the
three parties’ positions after an inconclusive Second All-Stakeholders’
Conference held in October last year.

Other members of the committee are Global Political Agreement (GPA)
negotiators Patrick Chinamasa (Zanu PF), Tendai Biti (MDC-T) and Priscilla
Misihairabwi-Mushonga (MDC), Copac co-chairpersons Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana
(Zanu PF) Douglas Mwonzora (MDC-T) and Edward Mkhosi (MDC).

“There won’t be any significant developments to report in the next two weeks
as we are giving the parties sufficient time to consult on the sticky
issues,” Matinenga said.However, he was quick to underplay the absence of
the principals who are on a month-long vacation saying there is a way to get
to them.

“Mechanisms have been put in place to reach them even if they are on
vacation,” he said.

President Robert Mugabe is in the Far East and Prime Minister Morgan
Tsvangirai is holidaying in Europe.

The draft constitution negotiations have been bogged down by four main
issues raised by Zanu PF, mainly the presidential powers, splitting of the
Attorney-General’s Office into two — legal advisor role and establishing a
National Prosecuting Authority — decentralisation as opposed to devolution
and opposition to dual citizenship as currently contained in the draft.

Mangwana refused to divulge the extent of progress on the negotiations when
contacted for comment on Wednesday.

“We are still working on it, but for more information get in touch with
minister Matinenga,” Mangwana said.

Mwonzora was not available for comment.

Failure to agree on the draft constitution remains one of the major
impediments to an early election as Sadc has insisted the country should
only hold elections after a constitutional referendum and under a new
governing charter as agreed in the 2008 GPA.

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Zanu PF primaries: Jostling in full swing

January 4, 2013 in News

JOSTLING to contest in Zanu PF’s primary elections has reached fever pitch
with the politburo set to finalise the selection criteria for candidates to
stand on the party’s ticket in the make-or-break elections expected later
this year.

Report by Brian Chitemba

The Zanu PF commissariat department has directed provinces to restructure
cells and any other structures that play a role in the party’s primaries.

Primary elections guidelines were drawn up last year by the Zanu PF
mobilisation committee chaired by secretary for administration Didymus

A major criterion is that only card-carrying members who have served the
party for five years or more consecutively would be eligible to participate.
The five-year rule has created a storm as it is suspiciously viewed as a
ploy to bar young politicians from contesting against the party’s ageing

Senior army officers, diplomats and Tsholotsho North MP Jonathan Moyo and
maverick businessman Philip Chiyangwa have been exempted from the five-year
rule. Chiyangwa and Moyo were once expelled from Zanu PF but have been
exempted because the party believes they have the capacity to win crucial
seats for it.

The provincial chairpersons who were involved in the 2004 Tsholotsho debacle
would not be affected by the five-year rule because they were only suspended
from the party. This leaves former Manicaland and Midlands chairpersons Mike
Madiro and July Moyo free to contest.
However, their former Masvingo counterpart Daniel Shumba is barred from
contesting because he was expelled after forming his own party following his

With primary elections expected between February and March, political
temperatures have been soaring in various constituencies as aspiring
candidates fiercely jostle to represent the party in the parliamentary

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo told the Zimbabwe Independent a raft of
primary elections guidelines would be scrutinised by the politburo’s first
meeting expected end of this month.

“We are restructuring in preparation for the primary elections expected
between February and March but the date can only be set after the
finalisation of primary polls guidelines,” said Gumbo.
“A politburo committee has finished everything around the criteria to choose
election candidates, (and) the politburo will hopefully meet by end of
January to chart the way forward for primary elections.”

Gumbo said primary election guidelines would be made public early next month
after the politburo meeting.

Politburo members, sources said, were tasked with ensuring structures were
intact by the end of January to pave way for the primaries.

“We were told to make sure we have cell structures with 50 members each, and
to co-opt members into any other vacant posts in districts and provinces,”
said a politburo official.

But party bigwigs are already endorsing themselves in some constituencies
ahead of the primaries and blatant vote-buying is also escalating as the
country tilts towards the critical plebiscite.
Zanu PF national chairman Simon Khaya Moyo has managed to muscle politburo
member Eunice Sandi-Moyo out of the race for the Bulilima senatorial seat.

Khaya Moyo has publicly declared his interest in becoming a senator and
chiefs in the area have already endorsed him as their preferred candidate.

He has been donating maize meal with packaging emblazoned with his name and
image as he strives to ensure he wins the seat to remain politically
relevant in local politics after 10 years of serving as a diplomat in South

Mines minister Obert Mpofu is plotting to wrestle the Bubi-Umguza senatorial
seat from Lot Mbambo for his wife Sikhanyisiwe, while his brother Bekithemba
Mpofu is vigorously campaigning for the Hwange West House of Assembly

Mbambo has vowed to campaign to keep his seat despite a spirited effort by
Mpofu to create a political office for his wife, currently the Umguza Rural
District Council chairperson.

Public Service deputy minister Andrew Langa is battling to protect his
Insiza North seat from Patrick Hove’s challenge.

Politburo member Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, who has lost the previous three
parliamentary polls from 2000, is campaigning in Mpopoma where he has been
regularly donating an assortment of goodies since the beginning of 2012.

Home Affairs co-minister Kembo Mohadi and his wife Tambudzani are also
campaigning to keep their Beitbridge seats. Kembo is the Beitbridge MP while
Tambudzani holds the senate seat.

Tourism minister Walter Mzembi is likely to battle it out with retired
Colonel Philip Toperesu for the Masvingo South constituency, while Copac
co-chairman Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana is set to fight it out with Ephraim
Gwanongodza for Chivi Central in the party’s primaries.

Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo would be challenged by businessman
Edwin Matibiri in Zvimba North.

Elsewhere President Mugabe’s nephew Patrick Zhuwawo is facing a stiff
challenge from Central Intelligence Organisation operative Francis
Mukwangwariwa in Zvimba East.

Affirmative Action Group’s Chamu Chiwanza is eyeing the Mabvuku
constituency, which is also being targeted by Zimbabwe Mining Development
Corporation chairman Godwills Masimirembwa.

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Devolution will unlock economic growth: Ncube

January 4, 2013 in Business

INDUSTRY minister Welshman Ncube says Zimbabwe should go for devolution of
power and economic activity in order to save industry in areas outside
Harare from imminent collapse.

Report by Staff Writer

Ncube told businessdigest in an interview this week devolution, which would
decentralise decision-making and economic activity, allows for better
distribution of buying power and other resources across the country to
support industry.

“The bulk of businesses find most of their customers are in Harare and lines
of credit are mostly available in Harare,” he said.

“Decision-making is also done in Harare.”

“Apart from devolution, most importantly you need foreign direct investment
to boost liquidity and confidence among investors,” Ncube added. “For the
past two years, we have been talking about elections and people, even local
investors, say let’s wait and see what will come out of the elections first.
The moment we talk of elections investors become jittery, but if we were a
normal country elections would not be a peculiar risk.”

His remarks come after regional bank, the African Development Bank (AfDB),
said Zimbabwe’s economy was on a de-industrialisation path for cities
outside Harare as companies succumb to huge operational costs due to huge
distances from the capital.

The regional bank said in its December Zimbabwe Monthly Economic Review,
shops were also relocating from other towns to Harare, a clear signal that
distance from the capital city was proving to be a significant determinant
of production costs.

Companies in Bulawayo continue closing shop, while recently companies have
also been shutting down in Mutare.

Mutare-based Karina Textiles (Karina), which is the sole manufacturer of
carpets and hand-knitting yarn in Zimbabwe, recently shut down to join other
Mutare-based companies like PG Plate Glass, Zimboard, Mutare Board & Paper
Mills (MBPM), Hunyani Papers and Cairns Food that succumbed to a myriad of
operational challenges.

AfDB said companies with production systems requiring constant updating in
line with technological developments are failing to limit production costs
to levels below imports due to run-down infrastructure and under-investment
during the hyperinflation era.

The bank said the closure of the monopolies like Karina and MBPM has left a
void that any serious investor can easily fill after investing in
cost-cutting technology.

The bank said: “There has been an increase in the number of licensed
newspapers since dollarisation, yet the sole producer of newsprint in the
country had to close shop in the face of increased demand for newsprint.
Mutare Board & Paper Mills was also strategically located in the part of the
country where access to pulp and paper was guaranteed from forestry and

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Banks seek six-month moratorium

January 4, 2013 in Business

Banks have requested a six-month relief to implement government’s proposed
reforms, which among other measures seek to lower fees and compel banks to
pay an interest on deposits.

Report by Staff Writer

In his national budget statement last year, Finance minister Tendai Biti
said banks should, starting this month, not levy fees on deposits of less
than US$800, pay interest on deposits of at least US$1 000 held over 30 days
at 4%per annum.

But the Bankers Association of Zimbabwe (Baz) argues its members, whose
income ratio is 40%, will incur huge financial losses.

Analysts say Biti’s proposals are a form of price control and history shows
that market forces cannot be controlled without dire consequences. If
anything, margins have been trimmed and this will work against efforts being
made by players to mobilise resources to meet the new capital requirements
set by the Reserve Bank.

In a position paper, Baz says it needs a temporary suspension in order to
allow banks to change their models to the new requirements.

The association notes the solution lies in changing the banking model to one
which promotes and encourages card usage and e-banking.
“Naturally, this will need time and resources to allow banks to change to
this model, which will phase out most of the bank’s brick and mortar
operations,” Baz said.

However in the interim, the association is proposing a special low-cost
account to be called Zim Transact, which will be for maximum deposits of

Banks are proposing the creation of a spread fixed deposit account for 30,
60, 90 and 120 days to attract a higher rate of interest depending on the
quantum. They also want a higher spread to clients with a high-risk profile
or those who borrow to purchase luxury items on the spread of loans;
capitalisation of the RBZ to perform lender-of-last-resort function; that
the Finance ministry continues issuing Treasury bills but at market rates;
EcoCash and other similar mobile banking providers be included to ensure a
level playing field.

The association said 70% of individual banking customers earn less than
US$800 per month which would imply free banking for a majority of
Zimbabweans and banks currently generate 60% of their income from loans and
advances, and 40% from non-interest income.

“As at September 30, 2012 banks’ overall profits were in the region of US$90
million and therefore a reduction of US$72 milion revenue annually will
create severe viability and sustainability challenges for the banking
sector,” Baz said.

Concerns were raised that because of the low level and transitory nature of
deposits, banks would not be able to generate sufficient income to meet
operational costs and absorb the level of non-performing loans, which
currently stand at 13% if the spread on loans has a ceiling.

In his budget statement, Biti noted 40% of internally-generated money comes
from Old Mutual and Nssa and should not exceed 10% per annum when being

However, Baz argues many banks do not access funding from Nssa and Old
Mutual and therefore it is not correct to use their rates as the benchmark
for the likely movement of rates.

Baz said the 4% interest on term deposits of US$1 000 is a positive
development, which will improve banking habits and instil a savings culture.
Baz members are currently paying 2-10% interest on term deposits.

Baz says it will implement a self-regulating framework to be reviewed in
conjunction with the RBZ and the Finance ministry on a quarterly basis to
ensure bank charges and interest rates are at acceptable levels.

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Sneak peak into 2013 political soap opera

January 4, 2013 in Politics

THE year 2013 is undoubtedly a crucial year for Zimbabwe with so many
developments expected on the political front, the major highlights being the
conclusion of the constitution-making exercise, holding of a referendum and
ultimately the make-or-break elections.

Report by Herbert Moyo

Zimbabwe has been kept in election mode by President Robert Mugabe since the
inclusive government was formed in 2009 but elections seem inevitable this
year as the legislature’s term reaches its constitutional limit.

Should elections be held, Mugabe would be one of the oldest presidential
candidates ever at the ripe old age of 89, which he turns next month.

Mugabe will square up against leaders of the MDC formations, Morgan
Tsvangirai (MDC-T), Welshman Ncube (MDC) and Job Sikhala (MDC 99), among
other presidential aspirants.

Sikhala, a former student leader and MP for St Marys, would be writing his
own piece of history as the youngest presidential candidate at 41.

But doubts persist as to whether the elections would be held, as they are
predicated on the completion of political reforms agreed to by the main
political parties under the auspices of Sadc and outlined in the Global
political Agreement (GPA).

Of these, the adoption of a new constitution is a major milestone but
currently the process is deadlocked and it is unlikely there would be a
breakthrough before February given that Mugabe is on holiday the whole of

Analysts believe even if a deal on the draft constitution was to be reached
in February, it would only mean a referendum in March after which time would
be required for parliament to pass the constitutional Bill.

That would begin a process where all other laws would have to be re-aligned
to conform to the new constitution, and as the Kenyan experience
demonstrated, it is a lengthy process that might even take more than a year.

“The process is likely to be as long-drawn out as was the case in Kenya
where it has taken almost two years to synchronise the old laws with the new
constitution,” wrote Ibbo Mandaza of the Sapes Trust’s Policy Dialogue

Institute for a Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe public policy and
governance manager, Jabusile Shumba, concurred with Mandaza saying state
institutions like the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec), the military and
state media would have to be reformed so elections do not produce a disputed
outcome like those of 2008.

“Zec still has the same officials accused of partisanship and the military
remains a major player in the electoral process instilling fear in voters
and issuing reckless statements,” said Shumba. “In essence, the
infrastructure of coercion remains in place so there is no way an election
outcome that is universally acceptable can be realised under such
conditions,” Shumba said.

Given the need for reforms which Sadc has consistently set as a
pre-condition for elections, Mandaza and Shumba agreed elections might not
even be held this year.

“Instead, a transitional government, or GNU (government of national unity)
II, under the leadership of Mugabe and his principals (including Ncube) will
steer the country until the date of the election in 2015,” said Mandaza.

Shumba said: “The parties will extend the life of the GNU to 2014 through
transitional clauses in the new constitution or further amendments to the
old constitution.”

Apart from election time-frames, it would be interesting to see how the
political parties shape up for the electoral contest.
In a move likely to rile its so-called “young turks”, Zanu PF would be
fielding old horses in various constituencies.

As a party with an aging leadership, it is unlikely rejuvenation would come
from recycling old horses like Philip Chiyangwa and Jonathan Moyo.

Having languished in the political wilderness ever since the 2004 abortive
palace coup in Tsholotsho where they allegedly sought to replace Mugabe with
Defence minister Emmerson Mnangagwa, these politicians have come back into
the party chastised and ready to accept the continued leadership of Mugabe.

It remains to be seen whether Tsvangirai, Ncube and other leaders would
forge a common front and field one presidential candidate to defeat Mugabe.

Education minister David Coltart (MDC) last week added his voice to calls
for an electoral pact to field one presidential candidate “to fight a common
enemy”, adding the 2008 election was lost because of split votes.

The MDC-T has to resolve the issue of who will contest legislative elections
as tension mounts over the party’s plans to protect incumbents from
challenges by confirming sitting MPs instead of subjecting them to primary

Added to this are demands by its youth wing for 25% of all constituencies to
be reserved for its members (the youths).
The pending Supreme Court decision on the Welshman Ncube-Arthur Mutambara
leadership wrangle may see further twists in the political soap opera,
especially should the outcome favour Mutambara.

Sadc has already endorsed Ncube’s leadership, a position which appears to be
at variance with Mugabe who has refused to elevate Ncube to deputy prime
minister in place of Mutambara under the convenient pretext of the latter’s
pending court challenge.

Zimbabwe’s legislators also have to do more to deliver on their legislative
mandate after a woeful performance in 2012 where they only sat for 54 days
and passed five bills out of a possible 23.

Their reputation took a heavy battering following reports of corruption,
selfish demands for money, cars and other luxuries, and with their term
drawing to a close, this would be their last chance to rescue their legacy
and enhance their quest for re-election.

All in all, Zimbabwe is poised for significant political developments that
may see a democratic dispensation or further descent into chaos that has
engulfed the country’s political climate since 2000.

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A tale of two different Zimbabwes

January 4, 2013 in Opinion

RETURNING from the Christmas and New Year’s holidays, particularly for those
that make the journey from the urban to the rural sectors, a question that
generally lingers is whether or not there are two Zimbabwes.

Opinion by Takura Zhangazha

And it has been a historical question due to the fact that we have had to
live with what academics refer to as “circular migration” since the days of
domestic and cross-border migrant labour before and after Independence.

Consequently, it is quite indisputable that our major national holidays
illustrate the legacies of such migration, where a majority of Zimbabweans
leave their urban abodes to visit their rural or peri-urban “areas of

This trend is as noble as it is indicative of our diverse but largely
migratory backgrounds as citizens. This includes our ever expanding
diasporans which continue to view the entirety of Zimbabwe as

However, the reason why this is an important national issue is not so much
to prevent migration or the linking of the perceived and preferred urban
with the assumedly backward rural. Instead, it is more about how there
remains a distinction between the two livelihood spheres both at law and in
relation to the political economy of Zimbabwe.

It is well documented through a seminal study by renowned Ugandan academic
Mahmood Mamdani that historically, the “urban” has always been treated as
the abode of true citizens while the rural has been treated as that of
lesser subjects. This is primarily a direct result of the former colonial
state’s distinction between customary and civil law, and the British policy
of indirect rule.

The Zimbabwean government, 32 years after Independence, has been complicit
in perpetuating this bifurcated legal regime, and as a result failed to
adequately eradicate the challenge of separate development for the country’s

Such an inability on the part of government is what has in part led to the
primacy of political violence in rural and somewhat remote areas from the
urban centres since Independence.

This is also because of the continuation of the patriarchal role of chiefs
and other forms of ‘traditional’ authority which would otherwise not be
applicable in urban or ‘centre’ society.

It is therefore important to observe that given the fact that the majority
of the country’s citizens live in the rural areas, there should be a more
integrated approach in ensuring that the law applies equally to everyone,
and that the urban ceases to have preferential treatment over and above the
rest of the country.

It is this dual legal and political economic system that has unfortunately
informed most government policies concerning rural development, which has
tended to be more top down and undemocratic in approach.

From the initial post-Independence policies of attempting to urbanise the
rural areas by establishing growth points, through to the setting up of
largely ineffective Rural District Councils, there has been no coherent
intention to ensure frameworks that urgently deal with rural poverty and

This is also the attitude that has informed our mineral wealth and
extraction policies in areas such as Chiadzwa where diamonds have been more
of a curse than a blessing for the rural residents of that particular area.
The nature of their displacement and inadequate compensation is more
reflective of colonial era policies where rural folk are treated more as
subjects than citizens.

The same remains true for the national indigenisation policy and what have
been referred to as Community Share Development Trusts, where there is the
integration of traditional leaders with assumedly eminent personalities from
the urban areas to distribute whatever wealth accrues from mines on behalf
of the rural folk. The system is not only impositional but generally
undemocratic as it perpetuates an elitist (and borderline colonial)
understanding of rural development.

Even in relation to matters concerning the provision of basic services to
rural areas such as water and electricity, the government rarely acts with
urgency. Projects for water retention such as dams are geared largely for
the urban or large-scale farming projects at the expense of the rural (such
as the Tokwe Mukosi project where people are still living in the middle of
excavation sites with limited talk of compensation). When one looks at
health service provision, the major referral hospitals are primarily in
urban areas (even if they are poorly equipped), a reality that has obtained
since the country became Independent.

It is these challenges that must inform us on our next visit back
“ekhaya/kumusha”. Not least because we may feel privileged to be part of the
urban, but more because wherever one resides, we should all have access to
the same basic rights and services in the country.

It is also imperative that the current and any future government of Zimbabwe
be pressured into ensuring an integrated framework for the enjoyment of
rights and development by all citizens in the country.
This would include a thorough and democratic review of our dual legal system
(customary and civil) in order to make it much fairer and to rid it of the
legacy of “late colonialism” as described by Mamdani.

Furthermore, it is important government integrates fundamental tenets of its
development policy by making the entire country a priority, not just the
urban. Where access to water is a challenge for Bulawayo, it must also be
equally urgent for rural Gwanda or Mwenezi.

Preferential treatment of the urban must not merely be based on proximity to
“civility” as though we are still in the colonial era. Where we begin to do
this, many of us that visit our rural homes may become less messianic (in
person and in politics) and simply be a part of an equal and general
citizenship, without others being treated as though they were subjects.

Takura Zhangazha is a media activist and writes here in his personal

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Road carnage: Just where is the police?

January 4, 2013 in Opinion

AT the beginning of the festive season, the police promised the nation to be
out in full force on the country’s major highways with a zero tolerance
approach towards all traffic offences.

Candid Comment by Dingilizwe Ntuli

However, each time the force issues such warnings, more Zimbabweans
needlessly perish on our treacherous roads.

More than 180 people were killed in road accidents since December 15, with
Sunday, December 23 making headlines for the deaths of 18 people after a
container truck with 63 passengers overturned several times in the Honde

Where were Zimbabwe’s finest and their so-called zero tolerance approach in
this melee? How a truck could carry 63 passengers from Harare until it
killed them in Manicaland boggles the mind.

How was it allowed to go through the many roadblocks strewn along the
highway? Just exactly what do the police check for at roadblocks if the
truck was allowed to transport hapless travellers to their deaths?

Why are road fatalities increasing despite the heavy presence of law
enforcement agencies? Could it be that our traffic officers are playing
Russian roulette with innocent motorists and passengers?

Although most accidents can be attributed to excessive speed, dangerous
overtaking, unroadworthy vehicles, and drink-driving, increasing roadblocks
alone cannot be the solution to curbing the increasing blood flow on our

After all, these roadblocks have been used to swindle motorists of money
instead of enforcing traffic rules and regulations.

Fire extinguishers, reflective jackets and triangles have never prevented
accidents, but these are surprisingly the only things our overzealous cops
check for whenever they stop motorists.

Most unroadworthy vehicles pass this favourite police checklist and as long
as the cops continue to elevate accessories over the actual state of the
vehicles, more carnage can be expected come Easter. Worse still, roadblocks
and speed cameras are situated at known spots on all highways.

It’s high time traffic authorities take additional measures to prevent road
accidents, not only during the holiday period, but all year round.

Measures should include increased mobile patrols on our highways to regulate
and control the movement of traffic, with particular emphasis on violations
related to excessive speed, dangerous overtaking, not wearing safety belts
and driving under the influence of alcohol.

Police commanders must re-organise the highway patrol unit by acquiring more
patrol vehicles for effective policing. More resources should be deployed to
this unit if road accidents are to be reduced. And the motoring public
should be discouraged from driving at night. It’s known that whenever there
is a police car on the road, motorists drive more carefully.

The lack of police patrol presence on the highways is one of the chief
causes of most road accidents. It’s very rare to see police cars just
patrolling and making a presence on the road whenever one is driving.

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Biti forecasts not realistic

January 4, 2013 in Opinion

In his state of the economy address last month, Finance minister Tendai Biti
continued to croon the upbeat refrain of better economic prospects this
year, lauding government for living within its means.

Zimbabwe Independent Editorial

“By the end of the year we would have reduced our primary balance to zero,
in other words, our books will balance and we are not going to carry a
deficit in 2013,” Biti said. “For a Finance minister, this is pleasing
because we are eating what we are killing.”

While sheer fiscal discipline is commendable, it belies a huge crisis that
is unfolding in the country because of crop failure in last year’s harvest
and poor rains this current farming season. There are already reports of
serious food shortages in rural households in Masvingo, the two Matabeleland
provinces, parts of Manicaland and the Midlands.

As hunger stalks the country, Biti’s zero primary balance posturing is set
to evaporate in the heat of need. Government will have to find money to put
food on the table in thousands of homes. Of major worry to Biti is the fact
that drought mitigation by the state is required in a fiscal environment of
projected reduced revenues this year.

He has a big fight on his hands to bring in the US$3,2 billion required to
finance the cash budget in the wake of slower economic growth. The subdued
growth reflects the challenges facing the economy including limited
resources and the high cost of capital and labour; policy inconsistencies
with respect to empowerment and indigenisation regulations; failing
infrastructure; outdated technologies in the manufacturing sector; and
frequent breakdown of machinery.

Biti last year appeared nervy about declining revenue inflows relative to
demand and had to revise growth targets twice in less than one year. In his
2013 budget statement presented last November, Biti scaled back his 2012
growth forecast from 9,4% a year ago and 5,6% in July to 4,4%.

This is the least growth since dollarisation of the economy in 2009. In the
next three years he says growth should slow down to 5% a year, but other
official and private sector forecasters warn that even this may be too high.
The International Monetary Fund has projected a 4% annual output growth.

What should be more unnerving for Biti is that there is no provision in the
current budget to cater for food shortages. Aid agencies are forecasting the
number of food-insecure people in the country is 1,7 million in the period
January to March, an increase of about a million people compared to the same
period last year
A projected food deficit is not the only cooler.

A referendum and harmonised elections in the first half of the year should
see a further decline in economic activity as investors take up positions in
the wings while assessing risk. Economists and investment analysts have
already started talking about more corporate failures this year due to the
poor operating environment.

Biti was right last November when he said: “The 2013 outlook also looks
bleak — blighted by a miscellany of factors that include a deeper global
outturn, the continued capital deficit, financial sector instability and a
poor business climate, amid other challenges.”

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Key requirements for economic recovery

January 4, 2013 in Opinion

TRADITIONALLY, New Year is the time for making resolutions, with a real
intent to achieve their fulfilment.

Column by Eric Bloch

Undoubtedly the key resolution of most of Zimbabwe’s politicians is to do
everything they can to be re-elected when Zimbabwe goes to the polls this
year, including resorting to unlawful or immoral means to conjure up the
votes they need.

However, if they really love Zimbabwe, have genuine caring and concern for
its people, and wish to serve those people positively and constructively,
their re-election is of less importance to taking the necessary steps that
will assure substantive and rapid economic recovery and meaningful growth,
assuring the well-being of the majority of the presently
economically-oppressed population.

Admittedly, since 2009, Zimbabwe has enjoyed some economic recovery, but the
extent thereof has in real terms been marginal.

The necessary actions required for a comprehensive economic recovery and,
thereafter, continuance of a thriving economy, are many.

However, first and foremost is to motivate and facilitate substantial
Foreign Direct Investment (FDI); for that assures creation of employment
opportunities, and addresses the negative Balance of Trade that is one of
Zimbabwe’s economic afflictions, where monetary outflows greatly exceed

FDI also accords Zimbabwe access to international markets and
state-of-the-art technologies. In addition, it will be a motivator for many
in the diaspora to return to their homeland and families, hence rebuild and
strengthen the national pool of skills.

After struggling over the years, government’s task of attaining significant
FDI, to revitalise the economy is not an easy one.

For so many years Government has pursued policies and measures which were
major deterrents to FDI such that a reversal of those policies and measures
with new and constructive ones will undoubtedly be initially perceived by
potential investors as a façade and a scam to attract and then expropriate
investors’ resources.

Government will not only have to strive to convince such investors of its
genuiness and credibility, as well as its intention to continue with the
FDI-related policies, but will also have to be seen to honour those
policies. This should be backed by international protective measures for
the investors, including unreserved honouring of Bilateral Investment
Promotion and Protection Agreements (Bippas).

Among key requirements for achieving substantial and ongoing economic
recovery is restoration of assured investment security by numerous measures
and actions, including:

Evidence of genuine and real political stability, which has been almost
absent throughout Zimbabwe’s 32 years of Independence, save for the first
four years, and again briefly after the 1987 Unity Accord. The first step
towards meaningfully demonstrating such political stability to the outside
world must be that this year’s Presidential and Parliamentary elections be
conducted in a transparent manner which is incontrovertibly free and fair,
devoid of harassment, intimidation, and vote-rigging, and of any
militaristic interventions.

Restoration of a pronounced regime of unequivocal adherence to
internationally-recognised principles of law and order, including of the
absolute containment of unauthorised land and other property acquisitions,
and of any violence associated therewith.

A very substantive, realistic, and constructive modification of Zimbabwe’s
indigenisation and economic empowerement legislation, and a total cessation
of confrontational, provocative public statements relating to that
legislation and to policies of Indigenisation and Economic empowerment.
Concurrently, positive and economically non-destructive measures must be
introduced which will progressively assure real, widespread, economic
empowerment of Zimbabwe’s indigenous population, operating side-by-side and
co-operatively with non-indigenous and foreign investment economic entities.

According collateral value to rural lands, either by reinstatement of title
deeds, or enabling transferability of leases, thereby enabling “new farmers”
access to the working capital resources critically necessary to achieve
reinstatement of viability and productivity of the agricultural sector
(which, until the millennium was the foundation and mainstay of the economy,
comprising more than 300 000 farm workers, their families and other

Modification of import duties to eliminate unfair competition of imported
products against those manufactured in Zimbabwe, and eliminating inflation
costs of essential imported inputs for Zimbabwe’s manufacturing sector.
Although Zimbabwe’s industries should not be overly-protected against import
competition, they should be enabled to compete on a “level playing field”,
instead of being confronted with immense competition of imported products
which have been heavily subsidised by the governments of the countries of

Reintroduction of export incentives, although such incentives should be
wholly within the parameters presecribed by the World Trade Organisation
(WTO), thus enabling Zimbabwean products to be fairly competitive in export
markets, and evenly balanced against products of other countries in
competing for custom.

A meaningful and rapid privatisation and recapitalisation of major
parastatals, including the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (Zesa),
National Railways of Zimbabwe (NRZ), Air Zimbabwe and TelOne, among others,
in a manner which will accord those parastatals access to technological
skills, enabling them to provide consistent, reliable and regular supplies
and services to the economy.

Very determined containment of unproductive governmental expenditure, which
has been the primary contributor to Government’s recurrent, massive

These have led to the State’s virtual bankruptcy, and its inability to fund
essential services, infrastructural maintenance and development, and other
essential expenditures. It is incomprehensible that a country with a
resident population of only 11,6 million (per the 2012 Census) should have a
Parliament and Senate of mote than 200 politicians, and in excess of 40
ministers and deputy ministers.

This has resulted in a grossly excessive number of employees in the Public
Service, endless and excessive travel expenses, innumerable houses, motor
vehicles and other resources, all far beyond Zimbabwe’s financial means.

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Sanctions: Zanu PF concedes defeat

January 4, 2013 in Opinion

‘Monday declared holiday as travellers flood Beitbridge,” the Herald stated
last Friday.

Column by The Muckraker

This followed a pronouncement from President Mugabe declaring Monday,
December 24 a public holiday.

“Workers no longer have to worry about returning to work before going back
on holiday for Christmas Day and Boxing Day,” the Herald helpfully added.

This was clearly a populist move. If the government was really so concerned
about the welfare of workers, why did it take a whole year to express that
concern? It seems logical that Monday, December 24 should be a holiday given
the need of many people to travel to their rural homes and then back to
urban centres. But why wait all that time before making the announcement and
causing havoc in the banking and commercial sectors? People couldn’t access
their bank accounts on Monday except via ATMs and many stores and food
outlets were closed.

This is no way to run a country. Business people need to plan ahead and help
their employees do the same. Only in Zimbabwe does the government wait all
year and then suddenly decide an extra holiday would be a useful gift to a
hard-pressed population. This was just one of several yuletide inducements.

On the hoof decision

We had the same fiasco in education where the authorities appeared unable to
make up their minds as to which day the new term would start. Education
minister David Coltart was sure of his dates. But the authors of the
Government Gazette weren’t. They had pupils starting lessons a week later!

Was there no liaison between the arms of government? Couldn’t somebody pick
up a phone and decide on the date?

As for travellers “flooding” Beitbridge, they have been flooding Beitbridge
for 30 years but nothing has been done to ease the congestion. Beitbridge is
a case study in incompetence and confusion.
An assortment of government departments and agencies headed by Zimra compete
to see who can cause the most inconvenience to travellers. Nothing appears
to be done to assist the hard-pressed travellers.

And then, with many people having waited up to two days in the torrid
conditions of the lowveld, Zimra pounces on unsuspecting travellers as they
approach Masvingo. Double jeopardy!

If it’s any consolation, visitors to Zambia are fleeced of US$300 when
crossing at Chirundu. If governments in the region insist upon
inconveniencing visitors and returning residents they will get the
reputations they deserve.

And Karikoga Kaseke will have to continue insulting our intelligence with
claims of poor “perceptions” about Zimbabwe as if this is an invention of
the Western press.

All talk scant action

Government is “concerned” with the increased number of deaths compared to
2011, Transport minister Nicholas Goche declared this week, as if they had
just realised it. It seems government never gets tired of singing from the
same hymn sheet at just about this time every year.

Goche’s “solution” to the carnage on our roads lay in the deployment of more
vehicle inspectors.

“In this respect, I want to point out that we have since increased the
presence of traffic safety council personnel to remind the public on the dos
and don’ts of driving,” Goche said.

Police Assistant Commissioner Kenny Mthombeni chipped in saying they would
continue to heavily deploy officers on the roads until “sanity prevailed”.
Clearly we are in for a long wait!

Goche attributed most road accidents during the festive season to
un-roadworthy vehicles, reckless driving and fatigue. Curiously the
appalling state of the roads seems to have escaped his notice while he was
busy apportioning blame to motorists alone.

It is no wonder accidents are increasing given the snail’s pace with which
the roads are being repaired.

Road repair crews along the Harare-Masvingo road abandoned their
workstations during the holidays, the most inopportune time, forcing
motorists to take detours along hazardous side roads.

Considering the revenue Zinara is accruing at tollgates, the horrendous
state of our highways is totally unacceptable.
We demand less “concern” and more action Cde Goche!

Zanu PF concedes

It seems Zanu PF is now resigned to the fact that the European Union (EU)
sanctions imposed on President Mugabe and his coterie over human rights
abuses are not going anywhere.

The “illegal” sanctions would not be removed as long as Prime Minister
Morgan Tsvangirai was not in power, squeaked Zanu PF secretary for
administration Didymus Mutasa.

“The sanctions were imposed to install the MDC and Tsvangirai into power. I
know the sanctions are going to be extended until after elections (this
year). We are not going to have elections before February and this means the
sanctions are going to remain in place until 2014,” Mutasa said.

This is despite spirited attempts by Zanu PF to arm-twist the EU into
revoking the embargo. Remember the National Anti-Sanctions Petition Campaign
which was formed after “ordinary people expressed outrage at the continued
imposition of the sanctions”, at least according to the Herald.

Sanctions brick wall

Despite the campaign gathering “over two million signatures”, it hit a brick
wall with the EU saying the issue was “simply not up for discussion”.

When persuasion failed, Zanu PF tried to sue the bloc with Attorney-General
Johannes Tomana promising to “throw these illegal sanctions right into the
face of the EU”.

Tomana’s claims ultimately boomeranged on him as he was forced to wait to be
summoned by the EU on the issue conceding that “there have not been any
developments on the case since we filed the lawsuit”.

Mutasa this week acknowledged the anti-sanctions drive is a lost cause: “It
is naïve to think that the sanctions will be removed this February. The EU
might, just as a face saver, remove the sanctions after February 2014, not
because the MDC–T will have won — of course Zanu PF will win — but will be
ashamed to continue having them in place.”

It is quite clear who should be ashamed here!

Ncube offside … again

As far as daft comments go, Welshman Ncube took the cake last month with his
declaration his party is ready to participate in elections even without a
new constitution.

While the Sadc-appointed facilitators were urging the inclusive government
to ensure Zimbabwe becomes “a normal society again”, Ncube said his party
was ready for polls even if they were to be called this month.

“So our position is that if it is not possible to have a democratic
constitution, then let’s have elections without a new constitution. We can
always fight for one after that exercise,” said Ncube.
Not for the first time, Ncube has lost the plot.

The fact that the current constitution makes the playing field uneven in
favour of Zanu PF is but one of the reasons we need a new one.

Bippa about-turn

Finally we have notification in the Herald that the government will no
longer tolerate Bippa violations.

For 10 years President Mugabe’s supporters have been waxing defiant on this
issue saying there will be no going back.
Now we are told there must be no further seizures. So what occasioned this

Zimbabwe is due to resume negotiations with the EU in Brussels soon.
Top of the agenda will be the Bippa properties which have been arbitrarily

The EU has said it will not proceed without resolution of this matter.
Property rights are fundamental to the reform process.
So let’s not hear any more of this “no going back” claptrap from Zanu PF.

Reform is coming whether it likes it or not.

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2013: Year to return to normality

January 4, 2013 in Opinion

IN keeping with global tradition, Zimbabweans certainly have New Year
wish-lists reflecting their hopes and aspirations over the next 12 months,
lists no doubt also informed by the plethora of obstinate challenges that
continue to dog the nation.

Editor’s Memo with Stewart Chabwinja

The international community in general, and the Southern African region in
particular which has partly borne the brunt of “regional hotspot” Zimbabwe’s
destabilising socio-economic morass, also have New Year wishes for Zimbabwe.

The regional hope was this week articulated by the facilitation team of
Sadc-appointed facilitator to the country’s crisis, President Jacob Zuma,
which challenged principals to the Global Political Agreement (GPA) to
ensure a free political environment that ensures Zimbabwe becomes “a normal
society again”.

In an interview with our sister paper, NewsDay, straight-talking
facilitation team spokesperson Lindiwe Zulu — whose forthright approach has
earned her a few brickbats from a prickly Zanu PF — said Zuma remained
committed to resolving the Zimbabwean political impasse.

“We are taking a short break, but the (Zimbabwean political) issues are
never out of sight and we hope this year will be better and all the parties
(Zanu PF and the two MDC formations) will have a new resolve on implementing
the Global Political Agreement, and bring Zimbabwe back to normality so
people can go about their day-to-day lives in a normal way,” Zulu said.

Indeed, life in Zimbabwe is far from normal as the country still fails to
tick a sufficiency of the right boxes in diverse international economic and
social surveys despite the formation of the unity government. Nor has it
been “normal” for more than a decade, and counting.

The country continues to grapple with decaying infrastructure, falling
capacity utilisation, failure to adequately supply basic services like
potable water and power, while ancient diseases like cholera continue to
wreak havoc.

Fundamental rights like freedom of assembly and speech are still trampled
upon, with the military occasionally issuing incendiary statements in
support of the former ruling party Zanu PF, in flagrant disregard of the

The return to normality is predicated on full consummation of the GPA, a
precursor to the unity government, which among other deliverables seeks to
stabilise the economy while levelling the political playing field through a
mélange of far-reaching reforms.

It is thus most perplexing that the opposition has effectively yielded to
Zanu PF intransigence over outstanding reforms rather meekly, instead
allowing itself to be stampeded over polls despite the benefits it and the
entire nation stand to accrue from change.
MDC leader Welshman Ncube was quoted as saying his party is ready for
elections even under the current constitution that skews the political field
largely in Zanu PF’s favour.

“… Our position is that if it is not possible to have a democratic
constitution, then let’s have elections without a new constitution,” said

The MDC-T formation is in sync with Ncube, as Justice deputy minister Obert
Gutu last week said his party was readying itself for the “worst case
scenario” of participating in elections minus full reforms.

To disconcertingly cap it all was Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s
965-word Christmas and New Year message to the nation. While Tsvangirai made
pertinent references to key 2013 issues such as peace, the new constitution
and polls, he glaringly omitted to mention the outstanding GPA reform
agenda. Not a word on that!

It may well be that after so many years of the abnormal, even politicians
from the MDC formations are so inured that the abnormal now appears normal.
Normal life has become a distant memory, as the daily grind to eke out a
living takes its toll on Zimbabweans.

Yet reforms are a must for present and future generations. To that end, the
GPA remains a crucial prescription. Pity, though, the MDC — apparently
putting all its eggs in the new constitution basket — is now complicit in
Zanu PF’s refusal to swallow bitter but efficacious reform medication.

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