|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
"We share the same objective," Mr
Bush said, asked about differences
between the US and South African positions on the crisis. "We share the same
President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa said: "President Bush and myself
are absolutely of one mind about the urgent need to address the political
and economic challenges of Zimbabwe."
Morgan Tsvangirai, president of Zimbabwe's opposition Movement for
Democratic Change, accused Mr Mbeki of making "false and mischievous"
statements that his party was in talks with President Robert Mugabe's Zanu
PF party aimed at a political settlement. "Since the aborted talks between
the MDC and Zanu PF in April 2002, there has been absolutely no political
engagement between the two political parties," Mr Tsvangirai said yesterday.
The US has called for Mr Mugabe to stand down. Secretary of State
Colin Powell, in Pretoria with the president yesterday, recently urged South
Africa to play a stronger role in resolving the crisis.
South Africa's government favours a negotiated settlement towards a
transitional government that would incorporate both Zanu PF and the MDC. MDC
officials have accused Pretoria of siding with Zanu PF.
Claims that talks are going on "are manifestly partisan, designed to
buy time for the beleaguered illegitimate Mugabe regime and ward off
potential brokers", Mr Tsvangirai said yesterday. But asked about South
Africa's impartiality in the process yesterday, Mr Bush said: "I think Mr
Mbeki can be an honest broker."
* The House of Representatives' foreign operations appropriations
subcommittee will today decide how much money to allocate for next year to
the millennium challenge account (MCA) - the new US overseas aid programme -
and the Aids initiative, Alan Beattie writes from Washington.
Demand for spending elsewhere has cut the subcommittee's overall
allocation by $1.8bn to $17.1bn compared with the proposed White House
budget, and some of that cut is likely to fall on the MCA.
Data, the campaign for aid to Africa, expects the committee to
allocate only $700m to $800m to the MCA for next financial year, well below
the administration's request for $1.3bn and the eventual aim of $5bn a year.
Jim Kolbe, the Arizona Republican who chairs the committee, said that
members should be happy with the amounts the committee would allocate to the
MCA and Aids - where Congress has already increased the White House's $2bn
request to $3bn.
But he warned: "I don't think we are going to be at the full amount
[the administration] requested...".
Campaigners' irritation with the White House has not been helped by
accusations of bad faith over exactly how much money it promised to fight
In its budget submission earlier this year, the White House requested
$1.3bn for the MCA in 2004. NGOs were surprised at how low the request was,
since administration fact sheets had suggested $1.7bn.
Minister besieges ZBS
Hama Saburi Deputy Editor-in-Chief
7/10/03 8:29:22 AM (GMT +2)
THE sale of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe’s stake in the Zimbabwe
Building Society (ZBS), on the cards for a year, has taken a bizarre twist
following a string of last-minute complications and technical glitches amid
revelations that the society’s former managing director and shareholder
Francis Nhema and the other founding shareholders are digging in their heels
over the ownership of the society.
News that the minister did no want to let go of the society came as it
emerged that the RBZ made a costly error by overlooking the transfer of the
society’s ownership into the Finance Trust of Zimbabwe’s (FIT) name when it
moved in with a $400 million rescue package in 1998. FIT is a subsidiary of
This meant that share certificates were still in names of the founding
shareholders even though the coming in of the central bank was suppose to
result in the restructuring of the society’s shareholding.
The shareholders are now taking advantage of this technicality.
The central bank threw the bank a lifeline after it chipped in with a
bail-out package when the building society was spiralling towards bankruptcy
after it was left in the lurch following the collapse of the United Merchant
Bank (UMB) owned by the late maverick self-styled black economic empowerment
activist, Roger Boka. At the time, the Banking Act had not been revisited
and the central bank did not have the supervisory powers it now has and only
had to use moral-suasion to take over the society.
ZBS was one of the several financial institutions to be found at the
scene of what ranks as probably Zimbabwe’s worst financial accident caused
by UMB, which issued billions of dollars worth of fake Cold Storage Company
bills. Instead of letting it twist in the air, the central bank had to
ring-fence the ZBS to protect the banking sector from the contagion effect.
The problems at the building society however brought an inglorious end
to one of the most remarkable banking careers in the country when Nhema, the
founding chief executive officer, made an unceremonious exit.
According to sources privy to the privatisation of the ZBS, which is
now in the deep-freeze, the technicality only emerged in the third quarter
of last year, in the last stages of the tendering process, when the
Privatisation Agency of Zimbabwe (PAZ), which is overseeing the sale of the
central bank’s 94 percent shareholding in the building society, inquired
about the share transfer forms — which are basically the documents that one
completes in order to effect share transfer.
It however turned out that Nhema, who, having been shown the door from
ZBS, in 2000 switched finance for politics when he was appointed the
Minister of Environment and Tourism and the other founding shareholders, had
not signed the forms.
Some of the founding shareholders yesterday confirmed that they had
not signed the share-transfer forms. The founding shareholders include the
Nicholas Vingirai-owned Transnational, Fidelity Life, National Insurance
Company of Zimbabwe now known as NicozDiamond, Continental Capital, a
subsidiary of the Zimbabwe Banking Corporation, and Real Time Computers.
The PAZ then sought legal advice before opening the four bids that
were received from prospective investors. Its legal advisers told the agency
to resolve the issue of ZBS’ shareholding first or plunge the agency into a
fresh legal battle similar to the one it fought against Ukubambana Kubatana
UKI, a company linked to business magnate, Mutumwa Mawere, derailed
the sale of the government’s stake in three former Astra Holdings strategic
business units after dragging PAZ to court last year in a failed attempt to
force it into announcing the results of a tender.
PAZ subsequently advised the RBZ, currently on the hunt for a new
governor to replace the outgoing Leonard Tsumba, to suspend the exercise,
whose winner was supposed to have been announced in February this year. This
did not only result in the privatisation clock of the building society
grinding to a halt but also placed the developments at the mortgage lender
firmly under public scrutiny as the move by the central bank to temporarily
put the spin-off on ice took both the market and prospective investors by
PAZ director, Andrew Bvumbe, refused to comment and instead referred
questions to the RBZ, saying the agency and KPMG Chartered Accountants only
acted as advisors: "We acted as advisors and we gave appropriate advice."
Acting RBZ governor, Charles Chikaura, was not available for comment
as he was reportedly locked up in marathon meetings with the Minister of
Finance and Economic Development Herbert Murerwa.
Nhema’s office said he was out of the country in Benin. But sources
said he had already requested the RBZ to give him the right to first refusal
before disposing of the society, which has assets in excess of $6 billion.
Peter Bailey of KPMG refused to comment, saying they had agreed with
the RBZ that only the central bank could comment on the issue.
"It will be remiss on my part to discuss the current status. At this
stage, as you are aware, there are a number of issues brought to the fore.
It will be immature for anybody to say anything at the moment when the RBZ
is conducting investigations of a technical and legal nature," said Zimbabwe
Reinsurance Company chief operating officer Solomon Tembo. Zimre partly owns
both Nicoz and Fidelity Life.
The privatisation of the ZBS, which was to be done through a closed
envelope auction, has been particularly difficult and unusually lengthy even
by Zimbabwean standards where the government’s divestiture programme has
been implemented piece-meal over the years.
The RBZ, which has seemingly been walking a tight rope over the
privatisation of ZBS, hinted to unspecified shareholder issues as the major
sticking point holding back the conclusion of the protracted sell-off, in
its statement announcing the suspension of the society’s privatisation.
"The suspension will allow the RBZ time to resolve outstanding
shareholder-related issues. In the meantime, the RBZ wishes to assure all
depositors, investors and creditors that it is in full control of ZBS and
will ensure that there is no disruption to its operations.
"Depositors in particular, are requested to conduct their business in
the normal manner, the RBZ is still committed to disposing of its
shareholding in an orderly and transparent manner after the resolution of
the issues referred to above," read part of the statement.
Sources said there was no guarantee that Nhema, who now has political
clout, would let go the society and leave any of the four bidders to enjoy
the fruits of his sweat.
The four bidders are the National Social Security Authority, National
Investment Trust, the People’s Own Savings Bank and the Zimbabwe Reinsurance
Whoever invests in ZBS should demonstrate capacity to recapitalise the
society. ZBS managing director, Ben Chikwanha this week said that investors
should, in addition to the price tag, pump in about $1 billion required to
recapitalise the institution. ZBS has a long drawn programme focusing on
branch expansion to increase its depositors’ base and fresh investments in
automated teller machines.
Chikwanha said: "Now we are looking for more business and we are
getting new business and need an injection of working capital to propel the
mortgage lending and growing our ordinary deposit base."
AU to suspend voting rights for defaulting member states
From Cyril Zenda in Maputo
7/10/03 8:33:02 AM (GMT +2)
THE newly launched African Union (AU), whose predecessor, the
Organisation of African Union (OAU) was owed nearly US$40 million in unpaid
subscriptions, will withdraw voting rights from defaulting members to force
them to pay their arrears, a senior (AU) official said.
Anna Nemba, Mozambique’s permanent representative to the AU, said that
the new organisation was piling pressure on the defaulting countries to
start paying up their dues.
"All efforts are being made to ensure that member states clear their
arrears," Nemba said.
"We are looking at withdrawing voting rights from some of these
members and we may also exclude them from participating in some of our
When the OAU folded last year its members owed it about US$40 million
in unpaid contributions. Two members have paid about US$1 million, reducing
the collective debt to US$39 million.
Nemba however said because the AU would want to include all its
members at all fora, it was going to allow some of the members to pay off
their arrears in instalments.
Those that fail to make payment arrangements would however face
sanctions. She could not however give names of countries that are in
The AU, launched in July last year to take over from the 39 year-old
OAU, faces the same challenges as its predecessor, especially when it comes
to getting full support from all its 53 members.
Meanwhile, Seychelles this week dropped a bombshell by announcing that
it was quitting the 14-member Southern African Development Community (SADC)
due to serious financial constraints.
The tiny Indian Ocean country said it was pulling out of SADC because
it can no longer afford to pay its annual subscription of US$500 000.
This prompted the acting chairman of the Commission of the African
Union, Amara Essy, to warn that unless the AU will work toward giving member
states value for their money, many poor countries were going to quit it.
RBZ to take over parastatals?
7/10/03 8:34:10 AM (GMT +2)
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe is proposing to fund and manage the Grain
Marketing Board (GMB), the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM) and the
Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA), which are gobbling billions of
dollars in State funds every year.
The proposals would be taken to Cabinet for discussion in the coming
few weeks, but they are likely to meet resistance from heads of line
ministries that run the parastatals concerned.
GMB falls under the Lands and Agriculture Ministry, while the Energy
and Power Development Ministry runs NOCZIM and ZESA.
A document leaked from the RBZ suggests three strategies that could be
used by the central bank to turnaround NOCZIM, ZESA and GMB.
Once approved, the RBZ will produce a pricing strategy allowing the
three entities to charge market-related prices enabling them to operate
While this would have the effect of increasing prices, it eliminates
subsidies that have been blamed for the burgeoning budget deficit.
NOCZIM, ZESA and GMB’s financial needs would be met through the
issuance of bills, which banks could hold as part of their liquid assets.
Currently, the RBZ only accepts Treasury Bills as security.
The bills can easily be converted into cash, discountable and accorded
prescribed asset status, qualities that can lure other private institutions
such as pension funds and insurance companies to participate on its take up.
"The main thrust of these proposals is to enable the parastatals to
access relatively cheap credit, as a bridge to viable operation," the RBZ
It is also proposed that a sinking fund would be established into
which proceeds from the issuance of commercial paper would be managed.
Any balances on the sinking fund will be invested on the money market,
so as to reduce the overall cost to the parastatals.
"To ensure efficient operation and management of the public
enterprises, it is further proposed that an accounting firm be tasked to run
the affairs of the parastatals, as well as managing the sinking fund.
"It is envisaged that tighter management of parastatal operations
would eventually reduce leakages and therefore, the funding requirements of
the enterprises," the bank said.
Analysts said the RBZ, which time and again, is forced to rescue ZESA,
NOCZIM and GMB with funding, was under pressure to find a lasting solution
to problems facing them.
The more the government delays in finding solutions to problems, the
greater the burden suffered by the bank in sustaining the parastatals.
At the moment, GMB requires funds to pay for the crop produced in the
GMB’s coffers have almost run dry because it has been, until recently,
buying wheat and grain at prices higher than what it is selling to millers.
Power utility, ZESA is also charging uneconomic tariffs and can only
look forward to a change in fortunes once the electricity commission comes
into effect before the end of this year.
NOCZIM is also sinking deeper into debt because the fuel price reviews
that have been awarded in the past cannot recoup costs of sourcing the
Africa splits over Mugabe
Cyril Zenda In Maputo, Mozambique
7/10/03 8:34:53 AM (GMT +2)
SHARP divisions between member states of the African Union (AU)
attending the grouping’s second summit here has led to Zimbabwe being left
out of the agenda as the organisers try to avoid anything that could further
divide the 53-member body already riven by serious disagreements.
The exclusion of Zimbabwe from the agenda of the nine-day summit which
opened last Friday with renewed hopes to silence guns and wipe off diseases
that are ravaging the African continent as well as to kick-start its
economy, meant that no one would embarrass President Robert Mugabe by asking
him uneasy questions about his political and economic governance.
"The programme is there for anyone to see," Manuel Lubisse, a
spokesman for Leonardo Simao, Mozambican Foreign Affairs and Cooperation
minister, replied curtly when asked whether there was any chance for the
crisis in Zimbabwe to be discussed at the summit. "Zimbabwe is not going to
be discussed at this summit."
However, delegates said the absence of Zimbabwe from the agenda of the
Maputo summit was because the leaders were irreversibly divided over a
number of key issues which are already putting the strength of the newly
rehashed African body under test.
"There is more disunity in the AU than unity, so the leaders are
making sure they don’t raise some issues that may lead to further
divisions," said one delegate.
Sources at the conference said so strong were the divisions and
hostilities between member states that instead of sitting in the traditional
neat alphabetical order, starting with Angola and ending with Zimbabwe,
leaders attending this summit would seat haphazardly as some of them could
not sit next to each other.
Putting Zimbabwe on the agenda would have angered many countries that
are do not see any critical situation in Zimbabwe and this could have
divided the member states further.
Incoming AU chairman, Joacquim Chissano, who was in America two weeks
ago, told the Americans that there was nothing wrong with the situation in
Zimbabwe as Mugabe was doing justice.
"Justice is being done in Zimbabwe but it is not well received by
people who are not ready to give what they have," Chissano said.
Besides, according to the charter of the AU, in the spirit of
respecting each other’s sovereignty, individual member states cannot
interfere in the internal affairs of another and the AU is only mandated to
intervene in a member country "in grave circumstances namely: war crimes,
genocide and crimes against humanity."
"The problem is that though they don’t say it openly, most African
leaders support Mugabe for one reason or the other, although they do not
entirely agree with him," one diplomat at the summit said.
"His authority cannot be called illegitimate, but can be contested, so
until the courts make a ruling on the court challenge, no one can say he is
legitimate or illegitimate," he said.
The main point of division at the summit is over who should occupy the
all-powerful position of chairman of the AU commission — the effective chief
executive officer — which has been occupied by Amara Essy, an Ivorian
diplomat, in an acting capacity since last year.
Ivory Coast withdrew Essy’s candidature from the all important post of
chairman of AU commission yesterday.
Essy said he was pulling out of the race "in line with the interests
of my country and those of my compatriots."
This effectively left Mali’s Alpha Konare alone in the race for the
post since the other aspirant, former Sao Tome and Principe president,
Michal Travoada, was technically disqualified from the race for submitting
his bid after the deadline.
Essy, who had the strong backing of the camp headed by Libya’s Muammar
Gaddafi, faced a strong challenge from the former Mali president Konare who
himself has the backing of outgoing AU chairman, South Africa’s President
Thabo Mbeki and the in-coming chairman, Chissano.
The head of states opposed to the Mbeki-backed Konare camp have
lobbied for a reconsideration of Travoada’s bid. The decision on his bid
will be finalised today.
In what was viewed as the first salvo by Konare’s camp, Mbeki at the
weekend said AU was "not a rubbish heap to dump rejects" as the mudslinging
campaign and lobbying for the unions most influential position intensified.
Voting to choose the substantive candidate for the post is expected to
take place either today or tomorrow and the camp that wins would have
effective control of the union.
Heads of states and governments started meeting last night and the
meeting will continue until Saturday.
The clash between Mbeki, who this week hosted US president George
Bush, and Gaddafi, one of Bush’s sworn enemies, does not only end on the
position of AU’s commission, as South Africa and Libya are already wrestling
to host the Pan-African Parliament.
SA had already started doing ground-work to ensure that the seat of
the Pan-African Parliament is Cape Town, when Libya — which does not even
have a parliament itself — at the weekend threw its own bid for the
parliament be to based in Tripoli.
Mugabe, together with Libya’s Gaddafi, Congo-Brazzaville’s Denis
Sassou-Nguesso, Gabon’s Omar Bongo and Togo’s Gnassingbe Eyadema observers
said constituted Africa’s premier league of despots and they would resist
any move by fellow union members to put their style of governance under the
There is also strong resentment to suggestions that the one-year AU
chairmanship goes to Madagascar next year as the suggestion is viewed by
some delegates as an attempt to atone the country which last year could not
be allowed to participate in the union because the former president had been
removed from power through unconstitutional means.
"That is what makes it very difficult for anyone to discuss Zimbabwe
here because you cannot compare Mugabe’s legitimacy with that of
Ravalomanana," the diplomat said.
"If Madagascar would go ahead and take over the honour to chair the
union, that would really set a very wrong precedent."
Madagascar was not allowed to participate in the AU at its inception
in July last year as the new government of President Marc Ravalomanana was
not being recognised by other union members.
Ravalomanana, the former mayor of Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo,
took power after leading his supporters in months of mass street protests
against Ratsiraka, whom they accused of stealing the presidential ballot of
The two camps are also likely to clash over where the crucial Peace
and Security Council will be domiciled as well as various issues arising
from the Western sponsored New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD)
which leaders of Gaddafi’s ilk have already dismissed as an attempt by the
West to re-colonise Africa.
At the beginning of the week, some member states were lobbying that
NEPAD’s peer review exercise should only focus on economic governance not
political governance and other issues such as human rights because doing so
would be a violation of the union’s charter which emphasises
non-interference in fellow members’ internal affairs.
Wholesaling companies solicit govt to import fuel
7/10/03 8:36:09 AM (GMT +2)
FUEL wholesaling companies have asked government for permission to
import the scarce product at realistic prices as the three-year old crisis
pierces through the bone of the once-vibrant Zimbabwean economy.
The request that is being digested by government, is part of a package
of proposals handed through the Ministry of Energy and Power Development in
recent weeks to end the shortage of fuel that has almost brought the country
to a standstill.
Masimba Kambarami, chairman of the Petroleum Marketers’ Association
said they have suggested the establishment of a broad-based consortium that
would import fuel on behalf of the industry.
Each of the 23 members of the association would then source fuel from
the consortium for distribution to service stations that have dried up.
"Fuel distribution will be based on a cash-core basis. We will know
how many litres each company needs and the cost of the product.
"NOCZIM (the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe) could still import
fuel, but retailers require a separate arrangement because NOCZIM has
failed," Kambarami said.
Multinational fuel wholesaling companies asked government to break
NOCZIM’s monopoly in fuel procurement which was not taken up until in
November last year when President Mugabe made a sweeping attack on the
companies at a National Consultative Forum annual retreat.
Mugabe said Cabinet was "cracking" its head over fuel supplies every
week yet foreign companies could use their own resources to import petrol
"Twenty-two years in government, 22 years of playing this foolery.
They (companies) don’t suffer from the headaches and stomach aches I suffer
from," Mugabe was quoted saying.
Kambarami said negotiations were continuing with Energy and Power
Development Minister, Amos Midzi and his secretary, Justin Mupamhanga.
A variable price, ranging between $824 and $3001 to the United States
dollar has been tabled before the two government officials.
The cost of fuel, under the proposal, would be based on two option
namely the price of sourcing foreign currency off-shore or the cost of
sourcing it from the domestic market.
Kambarami said: "We believe, this will actually help de-politicise the
price of fuel and the prices will be lower than black market prices."
He said the proposals, if adopted, could also save scores of jobs from
being lost in the fuel wholesaling sector where service stations are now
idle because of supply constraints.
Players would like the government to come up with pricing, which is
full cost recovery to enable them bring in the fuel and be able to see it at
Analysts said another wave of price increases could ensure leading to
higher inflation if multinationals use the parallel market rate source fuel.
Zimbabwe has been going through a severe fuel crisis because of the
shortage of foreign currency caused by poor export performance and the lack
of donor support.
RBZ plans to inject extra $10bln into export sector
7/10/03 8:36:45 AM (GMT +2)
THE Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) is mulling plans to inject an
additional $10 billion into the export and productive sector facilities
introduced in January last year to shore funding to $60 billion.
The facilities would be opened up to cover other sectors directly
linked to the export of goods and services, the central bank said in a
confidential document in our possession. It said that demand for revolving
export and productive sector facilities has increased significantly, hence
the need for additional funding.
Following the drastic decline in industrial activities, the government
came up with the two facilities to step up production and stop further job
losses. Exporters are accessing credit at five percent interest, while
lending rates for companies in the productive sector were pegged at 15
percent interest. Lending rates for other borrowers have since gone up to
around 90 percent because of hyperinflation.
At the moment, the two facilities are targeted at exporters and
producers in agriculture, manufacturing, mining and tourism.
"In view of the crucial role that other productive sectors play in the
economy, it has become necessary to broaden participation of other sector,
directly linked to export of goods and services.
"It is therefore proposed that the revolving facility be extended to
cross-border haulage companies, particularly for goods destined for export
markets, as well as contractors involved in cross-border construction
activities, which earn the country foreign currency," the RBZ said.
The bank also noted that utilisation of the export facility has
remained low because of the shortage of foreign currency.
More resources would be released towards the productive sector
facility, while the quantum of funds allocated to exporters would be
Banks that have exhausted their limits could be allowed to access the
pooled facility, a move that would see the abolishment of security
The bank said: "The concept of the revolving fund implies that the
size of the fund has a potential of increasing to $120 billion per annum."
Tight monitoring measures would be put in place to ensure that the
money goes into intended use.
Applications for funds exceeding $100 million would be disbursed
directly to supplies against submitted invoices.
Apart from routine monitoring by banks, the RBZ also undertakes
periodic field visits to determine use and performance of the actual
borrowers and to check on compliance with stipulated guidelines and
Farmers and other recipients of the funds would be required to produce
proof of delivery to marketing agents such as the Grain Marketing Board, the
Cotton Company of Zimbabwe and others.
Miners can also be monitored through the Minerals Marketing
Corporation of Zimbabwe, while monitoring in the tourism sector would be
done through TR1 and TR2 forms.
"Monitoring in the manufacturing sector, is however, much more
difficult than in other sectors.
"It is proposed that sectoral ministries, such as the Ministry of
Industry and International Trade, would be tasked to come up with specific
guidelines on monitoring production, marketing and delivery of goods and
"Prohibitive penalties will be charged on beneficiaries who misuse
these resources," the bank said.
Govt orders Mudzuri out of mayoral mansion
7/10/03 8:37:40 AM (GMT +2)
THE government has ordered Harare executive Mayor Engineer Elias
Mudzuri to move out of the mayoral mansion before the end of business today
and has also withdrawn, with immediate effect, all mayoral benefits, it was
learnt this week.
According to a letter in possession of this paper written by Local
Government and Public Works Minister Ignatius Chombo to acting mayor Sekai
Makwavarara on Tuesday this week, Mudzuri has also been instructed not to
visit his workplace during his suspension.
Chombo suspended Mudzuri in April this year on allegations of
incompetence and a five-member committee was appointed to investigate the
However, he was left with the privilege of using the council vehicle
and to reside at the posh $70 million mayoral mansion.
"In essence, I am now directing the immediate withdrawal of all
benefits that accrue to the suspended mayor, including his official vehicle,
any bodyguards or aides attached to him, and residence at the official
"The mayor is therefore required to vacate the mayoral residence
within the next 48 hours and in any case, not later than end of day on
Thursday 10th July 2003," reads the letter by Chombo.
The Harare City Council last month resolved to pay Mudzuri his salary
despite Chombo’s directive.
Chombo has also filed an application in the High Court seeking an
order to enforce the suspension of Mudzuri.
The Combined Harare Residents’ Association failed in its High Court
bid to be joined as respondents in Chombo’s application against the mayor
and the City of Harare.
Mudzuri was served with the letter while in police custody after he
was arrested for the second time in less than 24 hours on Tuesday for
entering Town House while he is still under suspension.
Mudzuri had defied Chombo’s order of suspension and went on official
leave until June 30 .
He is challenging his suspension by Chombo through the courts.
However, Mudzuri yesterday told The Financial Gazette that Chombo’s
letter did not move him because it was not written to him and vowed to
continue carrying out his mayoral duties outside his office.
Part of Chombo’s letter orders the council’s security department to
"demonstrate vigilance and execute their functions diligently, without fear
and favour" on Mudzuri if he reports for work.
"I believe politics is taking its toll because this is a fight against
an individual. Anyway, this is not my letter because it was not written to
me. I will continue carrying out my normal duties outside office because I
cannot go to the office because of the heavy police presence," Mudzuri said.
Mudzuri said the contents of the letter were unconstitutional and
Harare lawyer Farai Mutamangira of Mudambanuki and Associates said the order
was not just, considering the fact that Mudzuri cannot find reasonable and
alternative accommodation of comparable standards in the given time
Chombo was also not available for comment as he was said to be out of
his office and his mobile phone was not reachable.
Mudzuri, the first opposition mayor of Harare in 23 years, has crossed
paths with Chombo since his election last year.
Mudzuri accuses Chombo of interfering with his duties as a mayor while
Chombo believes he should follow his tail.
Envoys a burden
8:18:14 AM (GMT +2)
INTERNATIONAL support for Zimbabwe has all but evaporated,
accelerating the sweeping downturn in an economy already entrenched in
All we now have are razor-thin trading volumes with most of the
countries of the world. If the truth be said, there has been precious little
in the way of good news from the dwindling band of optimists among the
various countries in which we have foreign missions.
True, Western fund managers are still packing for emerging markets but
they have given Zimbabwe — whose shine as an attractive and compelling
investment destination has since disappeared — a wide berth. In the eyes of
the international community, Zimbabwe is a pariah rogue state with a serious
democratic deficit. And the badly dented international credibility can only
mean tough times ahead for the country.
Nothing brings closer to home the country’s isolation than the fact
that even the so-called “friendly nations” have turned their backs against
us despite their well-documented posturing. They have not said so but we
know better — a lot is said by the unsaid. In any case their actions speak
louder than words.
Surprisingly, despite all this we have envoys all over the world,
including countries that do not even know that we exist! At this rate, we
could end up having a representative in Mars!
Without even trying to cast a pall over the capabilities, suitability
and effectiveness of those privileged with representing Zimbabwe in the
various capitals of the world, we frankly do not see the economic sense in
keeping them there. Most of these envoys were posted when the economy was
firing on all cylinders, but now the pendulum has already swung too far the
We are not saying they are to blame for failing to garner support for
a country which has been ostracised by the international community for
various reasons. Nor that they do not inspire confidence. Even at this dark
hour they might still be trying to feed the international community positive
news on Zimbabwe, for all we know, but it simply does not wash. In the face
of this unprecedented international backlash, theirs is a voice in the
Given our current situation, the cash-hungry nation can hardly afford
to have as many representatives as there are countries in the world! In the
face of lingering concerns over Zimbabwe’s international standing, some may
argue that this is the time we need the ambassadors most. The fact is that
we cannot simply afford these ambassadors who continue to pressure our
public finances with no returns to talk about. As it is, we are having
difficulties in paying them and we risk the embarrassment of having some of
our embassies evicted from the premises they are operating from.
With these envoys, we are continuously pouring public funds into a
black hole. In fact as it turns out, our investment in these missions is
worthless. The situation has been aggravated by the fact that they earn in
hard currencies. The accelerated depreciation of the local unit has only
given another twist to the screws on the fiscus.
With no meaningful exports to talk about, the fall of the local
currency against the hard currencies hurts all those with external
obligations. The unprecedented and still continuing collapse of the local
unit has narrowed down the already slim margin for manoeuvre for the
Admittedly, it is difficult for any government to spend only what it
raises in taxes but Zimbabwe, currently in the throes of an economic
blizzard, should live within its own means. The government has to rein in
It is with this in mind that we feel that most our envoys should be
recalled and most of our missions abroad closed down. Only those in
strategic countries could be retained and be tasked with covering three or
more countries in the continents they are based. It has been done elsewhere.
Switzerland for example has its envoy based in Harare but covering countries
like Malawi, Zambia and Zimbabwe itself.
AND NOW TO THE NOTEBOOK . . .
8:36:32 AM (GMT +2)
When Zimbabweans were asked in March last year to go and queue at
polling stations to vote, a good many of them thought they were either too
busy or too important to do that.
They expected others to do it for them as usual because
they could not
afford time to do the dirty work of spending the whole day and night in the
queue just to put an X on a piece of paper.
They thought they had much better things to do. CZ loves to see the
same busy and important people now joining queues for hours on end daily for
nearly everything that one may think of.
First it is a hopelessly long queue to get transport to the city
centre because fuel shortages have forced them to park those comfortable
The next is another depressing queue at the bank where chances are
that there is no cash, and if by chance the cash is there, then the next
queue lasts anything up to a week at a service station queuing for fuel that
may never come.
You always hear these people who don't want to queue shouting
obscenities at the Great Uncle while standing in the queues, but they forget
the fact that those queues could possibly not have been there had they been
patient enough to shout the same obscenities at the Uncle while queuing to
vote him out.
What was the wisdom of refusing to queue for one day and then live a
life dominated by queues for the next six years?
We queue at Granville Cemetery to bury our dead whom we can no longer
afford to take to our rural homes any more. We queue for days at public
hospitals for drugs that are hardly there. We queue to bribe Mudede's
officials to please give us death certificates for our dead relatives.
Until we learn to join the queue to decide our own destiny, the list
of basic things that we have to queue for will continue to grow and who
knows, we might soon be queuing to get into Chikurubi or even queue to die!
Succession crisis One thing seems to be certain about this country
The country may run short of anything one may think of - cash, forex,
food, medical drugs, fuel, good governance, freedom, you name it - but the
country will never run short of clowns!
One such clown is none other than the foul-mouthed Joseph Msika, Great
Uncle's deputy who, notwithstanding the fact that he is much more tired than
the present incumbent, hopes he will be the next president of Zimbabwe. My
If Mugabe is going to be replaced by someone who is much older than
him, then what is the purpose of his retirement? What is it that Msika will
offer us after 2008 that he cannot give us now - apart from shouting
obscenities from everywhere?
Instead of telling Zimbabweans what he will do for them if he was
going to be elected the next president, like what politicians in other parts
of the world do, Msika instead tells us about his life and history. God
forbid, who eats history?
Whether he was in jail for how many years, that doesn't give him a
free entrée to Munhumutapa Building because Zimbabweans want to know what
the future has in store for them, not who did what three or five decades
ago. At the moment people want bread and butter.
Jonathan Moyo owns ZBC whole and raw. We agree? Strive Masiyiwa owns
Econet. Correct? And who has ever tried getting news updates from this
curious ZBC-Econet product called News on Demand?
Most of the time CZ has tried to dial 091 166 to find out which MDC or
NCA members have been arrested, beaten or sued and which story in the Strive
Masiyiwa-owned Daily News has got the good Minister of State for Information
and Publicity in the Office of the President and Cabinet angry, he has found
only stale news.
The so-called News on Demand will not have been updated for three or
so hours and this is despite the "fact" that every time, when ever it
happens, ZBC will be there.
Jonathan Moyo's ZBC and Strive Masiyiwa's Econet doing any serious
business together! Doesn't this sound like Tony Blair and the Great Uncle
enjoying a braai together?
Strange bedfellows. Are they not? If it were a marriage, one word
would have aptly described it - incompatible. We wonder how long this
none-too-useful relationship is going to last. Until then, lets wait and
Nguva Yakwana for the rich
When CZ, courtesy of well-wisher friends, thought he had finally
managed to raise the $15 000 that was originally announced as the fee for
him and his family to join the selfless servants of God at the Nguva Yakwana
Three gospel music concept due this weekend, little did he suspect that the
devil was working round-the-clock to ensure that he does not attend this
The organisers, in their Godly wisdom, decided that the entrance fee
they were charging did not make any business sense, so they decided to
increase it. Yes, they increased it from $5 000 per adult to $8 500 because
the profit margin was not good enough, especially when they considered that
some of the performers will be coming from abroad.
Let the Lord bless them and their families for discriminating against
Poll petitions must be speedily dealt with
7/10/03 8:53:39 AM (GMT +2)
The 2000 Parliamentary elections and 2002 Presidential elections
generated local and international interest and then developed into topical
Candidates belonging to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC) filed 37 petitions and Zanu PF filed at least one known election
The party presidential candidate for the opposition MDC also filed an
election petition. That petition has also not been heard as of June 16 2003.
This situation forms the basis for the current renewed interest in the
subject. Genuine concerns have been legitimately raised on the delay in the
finalisation of electoral matters arising from the two elections.
It is about two years before the fifth anniversary of the 2000
parliamentary elections. Parliamentarians are elected for five year periods.
At the rate election petitions are being finalised, the life of the current
Parliament will end before the cases are finalised in the courts. In respect
of the presidential petition, it is realistically possible to suggest the
trend will be the same.
This saga casts a very dark shadow on our democracy and legal system.
Elections are central to democracies. They represent the voice of the
electorate. The courts are there for those instances in which one is not
satisfied with the conduct of elections.
It is one’s constitutional right to have his day in court in respect
of elections. Judicial redress of grievances involves access to all the
relevant courts in the legal system up to the Supreme Court.
The critical point is that electoral disputes must be resolved
expeditiously. The electorate is entitled to proper, valid and legitimate
representation for the duration of the life of parliament.
If not for the entire duration of the life of parliament, it must at
the very least, be for the the substantial part of the life that parliament.
Where this is not done, prejudice to the electorate is irreparable.
The voice of the electorate must be respected and given effect. In the
last American Presidential saga, there were many court appearances in lower
Federal courts and in the Supreme Court. All those proceedings were
finalised between end of November and beginning of January the following
year. The president started his term on the stipulated date.
The rate at which elections have been handled is a matter of immense
national concern. The issues arising from these observations are best
addressed by discussing the law and procedure on setting down of and
determination of election petitions in Zimbabwe. Observations on some
reported cases are then made.
In terms of the Electoral Act, chapter 2:01, an objection to an
election can be brought by way of a petition to the High Court by a
candidate or any person claiming a right to have been elected at the
election or by any registered voter. The matter is tried in the High Court.
Election matters by their very nature, are very very important and
must be dispossed of as a matter of urgency. Our law recognises this trite
and fundamental point very clearly. It specifically provides that election
petitions must be treated as matters of urgency.
From the heading and the provisions, all election matters are matters
of urgency to be set down as cases of urgency. If administrative channels of
communicating with the registrar’s office do not yield results, an order of
court must be obtained.
It must be noted that the urgency extends to the hearing of appeals.
The point being made is that the conduct of the losing Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) candidates who filed petitions is totally
ununderstandable. They have not shown confidence in their own cases. They
disregarded the express provisions of the law.
They had no thirst for justice. It can validly be said they were
exceptionally unfair to the voters who, by instituting petitions, they had
been led to believe that something was genuinely being done in good faith to
have the legitimacy of the representation of those voters determined by a
court of competent jurisdiction.
The MDC plaintiffs are lucky they are Zimbabwean. No one holding or
aspiring to hold public office in Zimbabwe is ever called upon to be
On their part, Zimbabwean politicians maintain they are the ones with
absolute knowledge and no one should interfere in how they conduct issues.
The end result is the same.
They go to the South Pole when the agreement is that they should be
leading us to the North Pole. The tragedy is the passivity of the general
Zimbabwean populace. Anyone who dares can take them up for a ride with
Electoral cases under dispute have the same governing principles in
the whole commonwealth.
“For an election to be conducted substantially in accordance with the
law there must be a real election by ballot and no such substantial
departure from the procedure laid down by Parliament as to make the ordinary
man condemn the election as a shame or a travesty of an election by ballot.
Instances of such a substantial departure would be allowing voters to
vote for a person who was not in fact a candidate or refusing to accept a
qualified candidate on some illegal ground or disanfranchising a substantial
proportion of qualified voters.”
This was said by Lord Denning, a well known practical English Judge in
the case of Morgan and Simpson published in the 1974 reports. Non-compliance
with the electoral Act does not mean mechanical non-compliance with the Act.
It means compliance with the principles associated with a political
contest in an election held in a democratic country by ballot. All material
factors for the holding of free and fair elections are relevant.
The basis for challenging the election can be any or all of them. In
addition, the section includes failure to observe the provisions of the Act
. Between them, these provisions cater for any eventuality.
The important cases on elections in this country which show the
approach are Pio vs Smith a 1986 decision of the Supreme Court of Zimbabwe,
Dongo vs Mwashita a 1995 decision of the High Court. There are other cases
governing municipal and mayoral elections. They will not be refered to as
they have the same principles.
The only one worth reporting is that of Makamure which noted that “a
proper application of the provisions of section 149 of the Electoral Act
will ordinarily require the leading of oral evidence.” Reliance on
affidavits is not proper where there is a dispute.
The reported cases pursued to the end of 2002 show that apart from odd
cases, the usual section 149 was employed as the basis for overturnig
Most petitions in the 2000 elections brought by losing MDC candidates
sought to establish history by pursuing electoral challenges under section
124. It is difficult if not impossible to prove a case under this section.
Most improprieties in electoral activities are not conducted by candidates
or their agents.
Agents are persons who act with ones knowledge and consent. The reason
for the revolutionary approach taken by litigants is not known. It can only
be observed that it is a very ill fated decision. It would be a monumental
legal disaster if the presidential election is also based on that section
It might be that this is all due to an oversight. Oversights can
determine history. Historians are aware that the British Empire has been
referred to as a domain created in a moment of world absent mindedness.
The important thing is what one does after noticing an oversight.
This brings to my mind the story of a very experienced priest who
forgot to read the gospel during a mass celebration. It was on one of those
days dedicated to the rememberance of a departed saint on whom he had a lot
He went straight into his sermon and after that proceeded with the
mass. When a senior parishioner reminded him of what had happened he
publicly apologised, went back to read the day’s readings and then proceeded
to complete the religious rite in a proper and regular manner. He did what
had to be done, that is very important.
This full script of this paper was originally prepared for a private
audience who needed an analysis of the subject. The paper is published with
the knowledge, consent and encouragement of the audience.
lAugustine Runesu Chizikani writes under the auspices of The
Consultancy Centre which conducts research and consultancy work.
consecentre @ hotmail.com
Hunger saps resolve for popular revolt
7/10/03 8:54:37 AM (GMT +2)
As solutions for the end to the Zimbabwe’s deepening woes become more
and more elusive, more pressing questions as informed by experiences in
other countries that were bedeviled by the same obdurate regimes are
presented to the discourse about the country’s future.
For example, in the aftermath of the “failed” million man march to
state house, will an uprising in the form that brought down Ferdinand Marcos
and Joseph Estrada in the Philippines be successfully effected in Zimbabwe
and this when the people have no energy to take to the streets in their
Because there was no collective uproar for example when the leader of
the opposition was thrown into the cells only to be released a fortnight
later, could then that be a pointer that the Robert Mugabe regime will never
be given a hard kick in the butt by the long suffering masses here no matter
how much it bullies them around?
It could be that the gnawing hunger, after the ruling party seemingly
successfully turned food into a political weapon, has sapped all the
strength for popular revolt.
As some have sung rather tongue-in-cheek, you can’t make love on a
hungry belly, one has to therefore imagine the more physically taxing
undertaking where street protestors are greeted with booted feet, sjamboks
and teargas by the security forces and sent scurrying for cover.
One would seemingly need more than just a militant spirit, but indeed
a very full belly.
But because the food has made its own disappearing act, it has
therefore meant that the enervating hunger has dictated to the people how
they respond to the present crisis.
It could be further argued however that it is that hunger itself that
must drive the people into the streets in their millions, but the most
pertinent question would then become, why hasn’t this happened seeing the
hunger has stalked millions here for a long enough period for the people to
have made their discontent felt?
Some would easily point to the government’s huge arsenal of riot
police and the army as the major factor, but if hunger has been known to
drive people into all kind of shenanigans outside the
law well knowing they could end up in filthy cells, meeting the
security forces head on, who themselves are just as scrawny looking and
famished, would not be a worse prospect.
Another school of thought however, would also say that, if the people
are not hungry, and therefore supposedly well fed, they would have no reason
to ask for the ouster of the regime that is responsible for their full
pantries and shiny bellies.
Events here however offer any cursory systematic study for any field
of academic interest many migraines because here every order of things as
would obtain elsewhere has been profoundly controverted.
As watchers of the tragedy in Zimbabwe gape without any idea how to
tackle the greatest challenge offered to Southern Africa in recent years,
they will be hard pressed to find answers on why what was seen in other
oppressive regimes has taken a lethargic pace here, that is if the Robert
Mugabe-led government will eventually come under mass protests which even
army, the police and other ruling party activists would never be able
It is interesting that despite seeing the road to doom coming, there
were no collective efforts to duck or take the ruling party to task
especially after the rejection of the Draft (daft) Constitution and the
onset of the bloody farm invasions.
Looking back, it makes one ask hard questions about the nature of
Zimbabweans, how far they will take abuse before they decide they have had
it thus decide to act.
Obviously, hopes were pinned on the legitimate way which for the
civilised world is an open poll, but because this has many a time shown to
be but sheer waste of time and resources as long as the ballot papers also
include Zanu PF, it has meant somewhat rather eerily that an election
contest with Zanu PF is
never a foregone conclusion that the party will lose
despite its mass unpopularity.
As seen in the Philippines primarily, and to a smaller extent,
Madagascar, though in the island nation you could
still find fanatics vowing their undying allegiance to Didier
Rastiraka that unrepentant despot.
In a sure sign that there is a painful dearth of solutions on how to
give the ruling party one hard kick to political oblivion, the blame game
has set in, indeed a sure sign that people have been bamboozled by ruling
It in fact began after the
opposition lost the presidency, and desperate for relief, critics have
heaped blame on the MDC that its leadership has run out of steam, and has no
foggiest idea about how to bail out millions of oppressed Zimbabweans from
the misrule of Zanu PF.
In all fairness, some who have criticised the opposition have
manifested traits that do not present them as impeccable or convincing
For starters, it would be interesting to know how anybody would have
fared given an opponent like Zanu PF, for who hitting below the belt is part
of the game and not
an offence punishable by disqualification.
The MDC leader, has had the unenviable task of being viewed with that
awe that presents him as an avatar, and this perhaps is itself not misplaced
loyalty, but in the interest of fair debate one has to consider the
political history of first this continent, and second that of Zimbabwe
While some would see the resumption of talks as the way forward and a
logical starting point toward the end of the country’s woes which are
worsening by the day, would anybody engage Zanu PF seeing it is still
obsessed about ruling for just a little bit longer, and this against the
background of the country’s first post-independence inter-party talks which
gave birth to an enlarged Zanu PF after PF Zapu was swallowed?
What would be the terms that the ruling party is willing to work under
in its constructive engagement with the opposition?
And the opposition itself, what bargaining chip would it take to the
round table seeing that all it has presented to the ruling party as
preconditions for talks has been treated with disdain?
Amid all the hard questions about the way forward, the truth will
remain that the ruling party has never presented itself as interested in
salvaging the country from this present crisis. For if it were
interested, it would not have sacrificed the whole country by
sanctioning the chaos in the farms, or reneged on the agreements made in the
1998 Land Conference.
It would not have spurned international efforts to broker peace
between it and the opposition MDC. But, then what would be important in the
here and now is how do you deal with this regime before things really get
out of hand — as if they haven’t already! Because Mugabe has not
convincingly shown he is willing to go despite all the media excitement
generated since the interview with Supa Mandiwanzira and also the SABC for
if he was he would have done so long ago; and because the polls have shown
that they are not what will give Zimbabweans a new political dispensation;
and the Nigerians and the South Africans have left Zimbabweans to be
battered and bruised; and the Americans have been all talk and no action;
the sole option that would be left open to Zimbabweans would there become
the Zimbabweans themselves.
A transitional government is put in place while preparations are made
for fresh polls, but excuse the pessimism, can Zanu PF be trusted not to rig
that poll again? Would the ruling party agree for some other body to
organise the elections?
However, on Zimbabweans doing it themselves, it would be argued on the
premise of past events informing future course, that they have failed to
rise to that occasion.
What makes the picture different is that the present hardships have
bordered on the extreme. Even the 1998 food riots came at a time when
commodities were comparatively affordable. Zimbabweans have never had it
To start with, there is a limit on how far the police and the army can
go in taking brutal orders from those whose sins against their own fellow
countrymen are many.
It was seen in the Philippines where soldiers refused take orders from
Marcos, for example, when protestors took to the streets. Of interest about
events in the Philippines is that the protests were led by powerful members
of the clergy, and it would have been an international scandal for the
regime’s soldiers to have taken orders to shoot to death members of the
Christian ecumenical movement. The Philippines is a Catholic country, and
Catholic prelates therefore took center stage in the march for democracy.
What the people would need in any time of crisis is leadership outside
the political spectrum, moral leaders who stand favourably in the public
Martin Luther King Jr did what no politician could have done; Cardinal
Sin in the Philippines became the model of pro-democracy activism; Dorothy
Day in early 20th century America became an international symbol for
suffragettes; in Vietnam, Cardinal Nguyen van Thuan valiantly — and
defiantly- fought communists, and proposed his famous 8 beatitudes for
Or Nobel peace prize laurel Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo in East
Timor known for leading the resistance to Indonesian rule. These are just
some of many icons who stood with the people, but who themselves could not
be described as politicians.
Alongside the gnawing hunger, what is needed are moral leaders who
will take over from the pace that has been set by the opposition which
meanwhile will be in a long wait for the political promised land simply
because its bitter rivals define it as political opposition. Anybody else
who would lead the people would not act because they aspire for public
office, but out of genuine concern for the country and its people.
Of course no patriot would pine for civil unrest, but Zanu PF has long
sown the seeds of anarchy. The people’s hunger remains the only piece of
Zimbabwe’s puzzle that will author the ruling party’s demise.
.. Marko Phiri is a freelance writer.
‘Govt should put in place stable pricing policy’
7/10/03 8:45:46 AM (GMT +2)
ZIMBABWEAN farmers’ organ- isations should lobby the government to put
in place a stable and consistent pricing policy to encourage long-term
investment in the agricultural sector, a local economist said this week.
Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce economist James Jowa told the
Financial Gazette that direct and indirect government involvement in
agricultural marketing has led to excessive price rigidities and distortions
with the parastatal Grain Marketing Board remaining the only sole buyer and
seller of grain.
The producer price offered by the parastatal have not been accepted by
most farmers and are also subject to approval by Cabinet, making the pricing
process bureaucratic and very inflexible.
Jowa said despite efforts by the government to revive the sector since
1995 through policies such as ZIMPREST, Millennium Economic Recovery
Programme (MERP) and the New Economic Revival Programme, the viability of
the sector has worsened during the reform period from being a breadbasket of
The food security situation has also been worsened by exogenous
factors such as periodic droughts and the cost of carrying out farming
operations which has risen significantly.
Under the MERP project, the government was supposed to reduce tariffs
and duty for strategic inputs such as fertilisers and stockfeed but this has
not been the case. Fertiliser prices recently went up by more than 100
“Any policy formulation, implementation and monitoring must be
transparent and must include all stakeholders involved or affected. There is
need to promote private trade development through appropriated incentives
such as credit and training,” he said.
Jowa said the national beef herd is likely to remain subdued if there
is no comprehensive national restocking programme to revive it. The national
herd dropped from one million to 400 000 cattle due to disturbances caused
by farm invasions.
He said that although the government had launched the winter maize
facility with a lot of hype, the project’s total production of 10 000 tonnes
could only last two days.
The Commercial Farmers Union said that the winter wheat hectarage was
also likely to fall from about 50 000 to 10 000 hectares because of the
drastic increases in the price of inputs.
Vandalism of irrigation equipment and the decrease in the number of
wheat farmers due to the land reform would also affect production.
“Government must aim at intervening proactively in order to maximise
net social benefits from smallholder agriculture and desist from the
promotion of narrow and partisan interests,” Jowa said.
Indeginous Commercial Farmers Union president Davidson Mugabe said
that policy review was necessary if the agricultural sector is to remain
Mugabe said the prices of farming implements had gone up several times
while producer prices are reviewed after long periods.
Bush putting up a façade
7/10/03 8:44:39 AM (GMT +2)
If US President George W Bush hopes to resolve Zimbabwe’s crisis yet
he excluded it from his itinerary then the American daydream of re-elections
and the restoration of democracy in this country will remain just that.
Bush, the unofficial Planet Earth President, is set to visit South
Africa, Botswana, Uganda, Nigeria and Senegal and hop over Africa’s trouble
spots such as strife-ridden Liberia, and embattled Zimbabwe.
Ironically the latter two are the countries he was, as a matter of
policy, supposed to have visited first and then go on holiday to the other
countries if he wished.
It’s folly for Bush to think that he can solve Zimbabwe’s problems via
South Africa. President Thabo Mbeki’s position on that one is very clear —
leave Zimbabweans to solve their own problems, period!
The only logical thing for Bush to harangue about is Mugabe’s asylum
in South Africa. Mbeki should simply be persuaded to offer Mugabe asylum
just as Nigeria’s Olusegun Obasanjo offered Charles Taylor of Liberia.
If Bush’s visit to Africa was really in earnest, he would have been in
Harare today urging talks between the ruling ZANU PF and the opposition MDC.
Zimbabwe is drowning in economic debris and all Bush can do to help is
watch from a distance and try and push Mbeki to the forefront of manoeuvring
an amicable settlement for the beleaguered Zimbabweans.
The problem is that there is nothing at stake for the Americans in
Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is not Iraq. It does not have oil, in fact this country
is experiencing the worst fuel crisis in living memory. There is therefore,
not a chance in hell for Zimbabwe to tempt the Americans insatiable taste
We do not have weapons of mass destruction either, but perhaps brains
for economic desolation as the ruling ZANU PF’s trophy of hyperinflation
glitters for all to see.
Americans will be Americans.
If their interests are not threatened, then they have no interest in
whatever venture — not even the Zimbabwe crisis.
Questioned during an interview with SABC television filmed at the
White House on July 4 (America’s Independence Day) about the war against
Iraq, and the reaction this had drawn from, among others, former South
African president Nelson Mandela, Bush said: “I did the right thing. My job
is to make sure America is secure. And if some don’t like the tactics, that’
s the nature of a free world where people can express their opinion.
“I admire Nelson Mandela ... I just happen to disagree with him on his
view about how best to secure America. But you can rest assured that if I
think America is threatened, I will act,” he said.
There just has to be something American about the Zimbabwe crisis for
Bush to act, short of which his calls for a return to democracy in this
country will continue to be routine.
He said it himself that his job is to make sure that America is secure
and not Zimbabwe.
He said it himself that he will act if he thinks America is threatened
and not when Zimbabwe is threatened.
The Zimbabwean crisis needs better meaning people to deal with it than
the Bushes and Mbekis of this world.
Zimbabwe is not on Bush’s itinerary because as far as the stubborn
American pride is concerned there is nothing worth while for the US in this
There is, however a lot to gain from South Africa which threatens to
be the leading economy in the continent given that all major businesses are
on a “great trek” from Zimbabwe to the southern neighbour.
Bush can afford to stop in Botswana because of the virgin diamond
fields in the thinly populated country. Uganda, reported as one of the
bootlickers who were made mercenaries by the Americans in their loot of
diamonds in the Democratic Republic of the Congo could also not have been
excluded from the itinerary.
Senegal has the only Africa President who dared to denounce Mugabe’s r
e-election and Nigeria has oil. This goes to show how conveniently
systematic for the US Bush’s visit to Africa is.
Zimbabweans, the MDC in particular, should not expect Bush to act just
yet, unless of course American interests are threatened by say, Mugabe’s
troops bombing the White House in the fashion of the September 11 attacks.
Or perhaps it will take a civil war for the world to realise the
discontent Zimbabweans are going through.
Bush and his cronies are just putting up a façade otherwise, because
no American interests are threatened in this country, all is well in
Remember even during WWII, US made a late appearance only when its
interests were threatened by the Japanese bombing of its Pearl Harbour in
The war had begun in 1939 and until the Pearl Harbour bombing it was
largely a European affair against a German madman called Adolf Hitler.
Zimbabweans, especially the opposition must not put so much faith in
the likes of Bush, Mbeki or the AU.
For instance the AU did not even bother putting Zimbabwe on the Maputo
summit agenda. Many, including the likes of Mauritius have said Zimbabwe
should fix its own problems. This goes to show that which ever way we turn;
our crisis is being dismissed as domestic — hanzi ndezvemumba medu saka
tinofanira kupedzerana imomo.
The MDC may appeal all it wants to the international community but
there still won’t be any flicker of light at the end of the tunnel.
The ball is back in the court of the opposition and civil society to
look for fresh ways to break the stalemate.
If the opposition is, as it claims, still in the phase of the “final
push” then at present its push is painfully flimsy.
How does it expect to push Mugabe to the negotiating table by pushing
Bush to push Mbeki to push Mugabe?
There must be some direct push from the MDC, especially now, when the
world’s attention is academically focused on Zimbabwe.
Dedicated Zimbabweans did their part in sport and so in politics they
As Bush continues to shamelessly put a façade of trying to help us,
the nation anxiously gnashes its teeth for another MDC dinner to be served?
Hyperinflation and the cash crisis in Zimbabwe
7/10/03 8:19:22 AM (GMT +2)
HYPERINFLATION is just inflation at an extremely high
rate. This means inflation is out of control and its level is not precisely
This is the quagmire that Zimbabwe is currently in. The
source of the hyperinflationary pressures is a long story. It is not the aim
of this paper to dwell on causes of inflation, but the cash crisis that the
economic agents are grappling to come to terms with.
The domestic currency crisis is at least four months old
now. We are all left guessing how the economy has plunged into all sorts of
crises — fuel, foreign currency, food, cash etc. Below is a snapshot of
factors that we believe could have contributed to the cash crisis in
An unstable macroeconomic situation characterised by high
levels of inflation, fiscal budget overruns, declining real sector
activities etc. Simple monetary economics primers tell us that economic
agents demand more money for transactionary purposes in a high inflation
The Yugoslav and German hyperinflationary experience bear
testimony to the havoc that skewed fundamentals can cause for an economy.
The value of the domestic currencies fell drastically, the social and
economic infrastructure collapsed, there was increased dollarisation of the
domestic economies. This is essentially what is being experienced in
Zimbabwe where most commodities e.g. fuel and real estate are being priced
in United States dollars.
Severe shortages of hard currency, fuel, basic food items
etc in the formal markets, which have been attributed to poor pricing policy
implemented by the government through its various arms e.g. the Central Bank
and other relevant ministries. However, these commodities are only available
on the “black” market where prices are far above the official prices that
goods are supposed to sell on the official market. Individuals need to be
holding onto huge cash balances or they can forgo the “product” if they
happen to come across it.
Low interest rates on deposits. Interest rates on accounts
have remained static over the past three years at between 5 percent and 15
percent per annum, while the minimum lending rates have continued to surge
and now sitting at more than 80 percent per year.
Banks, in a bid to boost their non-interest income, have
started levying charges, ranging between 0.5 percent and 7.5 percent on
deposits and withdrawals. For cash-strapped economic agents, this is a
disincentive to save or transact through the banking system.
The growth in the size of the “informal” sector, which has
resulted in a number of transactions taking place outside the formal banking
system. Because of the current economic turmoil, the “formal” sector is
largely becoming informal. Individual economic agents are weary of being
inconvenienced at the time they want to transact. The transaction costs of
going through the banking sector are unbearable — long queues, bank charges,
extremely pathetic deposit rates, high probability of failing to access one’
s own money, among others.
The other factor that we believe has contributed to the
liquidity crunch in the banking sector is the waning confidence in the
banking sector by the banking public. For example, the banking public is not
kept informed about the developments in the banking sector as far as the
cash situation is concerned. Is the Z$24 billion to be injected by the RBZ
the amount required to restore sanity on the market? What has been the
impact of the Z$4 billion injected so far on easing the pressures on the
demand for cash?
Surprisingly, it appears the situation has further
deteriorated, with banks now reducing the limits on withdrawals from the
banking halls and automated teller machines (ATMs) from around $10 000 to $5
000, and $60 000 to $40 000 per day respectively.
The queues outside the banking halls are becoming longer
by the day. A number of business people are now uncomfortable with dealing
with cheques. They are insisting on cash. Such are the telltale signs of the
magnitude of the cash crisis in Zimbabwe.
These developments have significant implications for the
lThere is likely to be a vicious cycle where new
injections are likely to quickly disappear from the formal banking setup.
lThe financial intermediation role is likely to be
affected adversely. This will inevitably have an adverse impact on the
banking sector’s source of extremely cheap source of finance — deposits.
lThe tax base is likely to diminish which will further
worsen the fiscal budget overrun. At a fairly general level, bank profits
may not grow to their full this year, unless banks as innovative as they are
known to be come up with cash substitute products. Transactions that are
supposed to be attracting sales tax etc have also been constrained.
In light of the causes and effects alluded to above, we
feel the prescription to the problem is to restore macroeconomic stability —
a famous suggestion!
However, there haven’t been any clear suggestions on the
specific policy recommendations. We attempt to provide a menu of policy
prescriptions from which we believe the RBZ and the Treasury can develop
into a coherent policy to manage the current situation.
There is need to rein in inflation. There is therefore
lA credible monetary policy to reverse inflationary
lClear communication of policy intentions to the public,
lTo convince the public of the authorities’ resolve to
stop inflation and restore macroeconomic stability. The authorities should
come out in the open and tell the general public how much money is needed to
end the queues.
The domestic cash and foreign currency crises are closely
related. However, we would hasten to say the parallel market for essentially
all commodities and the skyrocketing inflation levels have been responsible
for the cash crisis.
The recommendation is the winning of public confidence.
Fire fighting approaches will not take us anywhere. Let’s have a clear
programme that is well communicated to the public!
Lovemore Kadenge is the president of the Zimbabwe