|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
thoughts and prayers are with Zimbabwe |
- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
ruling party stalwarts are locking horns over the
succession of Robert Mugabe. Counter-accusations are emerging and inquiries
about the loyalty of others at disciplinary hearings are being set up.
Eddison Zvobgo, the Zanu-PF's prominent politician, is being
summoned to appear before the party's disciplinary committee to answer
charges that he decampaigned President Mugabe in the last presidential
election. He denies the charges and accuses colleagues of tarnishing his
name as the succession debate hots up.
There was no doubt in 1980 that Robert Mugabe was the victor and
the head of state. A bitter-armed struggle and subsequently landslide
electoral victory had preceded his ascent to power. Today, the debate on who
takes over from this man is threatening to divide his ruling (Zanu-PF)
Other senior Zanu PF politicians have thrown in their names
declaring their candidacy for the first job in the country. Joseph Msika,
his ageing vice, John Nkomo, the ruling party's national chairperson, are
among them. The maverick Edison Zvobgo is being dragged into a disciplinary
party hearing for allegedly decampaigning President Mugabe during
presidential elections last year. This week he has been telling the SABC
that it is the beginning of the struggles for President Mugabe's seat.
Many in Zimbabwe say these grey-haired politicians are now to
old for the political game and should instead consider retiring. They
believe front runners for Mugabe's post are yet to stand up.
Heneri Dzinotyiwei, a political analyst, said Zimbabweans can
only be kept guessing. There are no front runners-but dark horses. The issue
of Mugabe's successor is now a case of cloaks and daggers. Senior
politicians smearing each other as the succession debate hots up. Succeeding
Mugabe is proving costly for aspirants.
Harare sees support for talks as 'loud climbdown' by Bush
By David R. Sands
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party has vehemently denied
that it is talking to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to resolve
the Zimbabwean crisis, as claimed by President Mbeki.
The government of Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe said yesterday that
President Bush's endorsement of low-key diplomacy to resolve the country's
political crisis was a "loud climbdown" from previous U.S. demands for
out-and-out regime change.
The Mugabe government said Mr. Bush's strong statement in support of
South African efforts to broker a deal with the opposition Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) amounted to a repudiation of the MDC's tactics and
of the more confrontational approach pushed by Secretary of State Colin L.
Powell last month.
Mr. Bush, talking to reporters in Botswana yesterday, said he remained
committed to democratic reform in Zimbabwe, blaming the country's economic
and political crises on "bad governance."
But Mr. Bush's tone during a press conference Wednesday with South
African President Thabo Mbeki was sharply muted compared with that adopted
by Mr. Powell in a New York Times editorial late last month.
Mr. Powell said the time of the "violent misrule" of the Mugabe regime
"had come and gone," and called on South Africa and other regional powers to
play a role "that reflects the urgency of the situation."
The MDC has been sharply critical of South Africa's failure to take a
more activist role in Zimbabwe's crisis. Britain, the former colonial power
in Zimbabwe, also has pressed Washington and European countries to isolate
and sanction Mr. Mugabe and his top aides.
But Zimbabwe's Department of Information and Publicity said in a
statement that Mr. Bush's "fleeting and perfunctory reference" to Zimbabwe
during the press conference Wednesday was "a loud climbdown by a president
all along misled, but who now leaves the region better enlightened about the
issues at stake."
Appearing with Mr. Mbeki in the middle of a five-day Africa trip, Mr.
Bush offered a surprisingly effusive endorsement of the South African
leader's cautious efforts in neighboring Zimbabwe.
Mr. Bush called Mr. Mbeki an "honest broker" and the international
"point man" in resolving Zimbabwe's political standoff, even though Mr.
Mbeki's government has rejected any suggestion of ousting Mr. Mugabe and has
come under sharp criticism from MDC leaders for failing to condemn the
Harare government's attacks on civil liberties and its mishandling of the
"I don't have any intention of second-guessing [Mr. Mbeki´s] tactics,"
Mr. Bush said. "We want the same outcome."
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who faces treason charges lodged by the
government, said yesterday that Mr. Bush had been "misled" by Mr. Mbeki's
assurances that real negotiations were under way in Zimbabwe.
"Statements claiming that there is dialogue going on are patently false
and mischievous," he told reporters in Harare, the capital.
"The Mugabe regime has remained intractable and sustained an arrogant
and defiant program of violence, torture, murder, rape and all manner of
crimes against humanity," he added.
The MDC leader, however, softened his criticism in a later statement,
saying the opposition was "heartened by the sense of urgency displayed by
President Mbeki and Bush" in breaking Zimbabwe's political impasse.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair also has worked to rally international
opposition to the Mugabe regime.
"We must deal with the problem in Zimbabwe, because it threatens to
blight and destroy the lives of many people, not only in that country, but
all over south of Africa," Mr. Blair recently told Parliament.
Mr. Bush and Mr. Powell, in separate press briefings yesterday, insisted
that the U.S. demand for political overhaul in Zimbabwe had not diminished.
"It's a shame that the [Zimbabwean economy] has gotten so weak and
soft," Mr. Bush said.
"It's a shame for southern Africa, and the weakness in the economy is
directly attributable to bad governance. Therefore, we will continue to
speak out for democracy in Zimbabwe," he added.
John Prendergast, a Zimbabwe expert for the International Crisis Group,
said Mr. Bush's praise of Mr. Mbeki was a calculated gamble that Pretoria
will take a more activist approach if the United States pulls back.
"Essentially, we're betting that if we tone it down, they'll turn it
up," he said.
Bill Fletcher, president of the TransAfrica Forum, said the harsh
criticism by Britain and the United States in the past had proven
"Their comments ended up polarizing the situation in Zimbabwe," he said.
"They were used by Mugabe to paint the opposition as in the pocket of
He said Mr. Bush was only recognizing reality in calling Mr. Mbeki the
point man for a diplomatic solution. But Mr. Fletcher added that he doubted
the soothing words at the press conference had papered over wide differences
between the two leaders on how to handle the crisis in Zimbabwe.
Mr. Prendergast said it was still not clear whether South Africa was
prepared to take a tougher approach toward Mr. Mugabe, or whether Mr. Mbeki
could overcome his doubts about the MDC.
"If the Bush administration truly supports the current South African
policy on Zimbabwe, nothing is going to happen," Mr. Prendergast said.
He said Mr. Bush's "over-the-top" praise of Mr. Mbeki's role in the
region reflected in part tensions between advisers in the National Security
Council and the State Department, with the former skeptical of the latter's
tougher line against Mr. Mugabe and his ruling Zimbabwe African National
In what appeared to be the first test of South Africa's new line, Mr.
Mbeki failed even to mention the Zimbabwe crisis in a speech yesterday at a
summit of the African Union in Maputo, Mozambique.
With Mr. Mugabe seated in the audience, Mr. Mbeki called on African
governments to take a more active role in resolving the continent's many
conflicts, but did not name Zimbabwe as one of the countries requiring
Southern African press review
Friday July 11, 2003
President George Bush's surprising endorsement of Thabo Mbeki's cautious
treatment of Robert Mugabe divided the pundits in South Africa and Zimbabwe.
The Port-Elizabeth-based Herald was delighted that the South African and US
presidents had found time to talk about Mr Mugabe's Zimbabwe - a country key
to "southern African stability" - and relieved that Mr Bush had not thrown
his weight around. "Mr Bush did not come to change South Africa," said the
paper approvingly. "He came to facilitate new and constructive talks."
Paul Graham and Tony Reeler, writing in South Africa's Business Day , were
also pleased to see Mr Mbeki pushing for an African solution to an African
problem. "The South African government is sensible to insist on quiet
diplomacy with Mr Mugabe, who has never shown any inclination to accept firm
counsel from outside." However, they warned, "quiet diplomacy must not lapse
into silent assent" for Mr Mugabe's regime.
In Zimbabwe, the government-controlled Herald was thrilled by Mr Bush's
vindication of Mr Mbeki's approach. "Yesterday, [the Zimbabwean opposition
leader Morgan Tsvangirai] was told loud and clear that whatever he wants in
Washington must go through ... Mr Mbeki, whom he has described as a
dishonest broker," it crowed. "[Mr Mbeki] smartly told Mr Bush that Zimbabwe
... needed a homegrown solution ... The American president saw no offence in
this and agreed that he would follow the lead of Mr Mbeki."
The Daily News had a different take on the situation. "The choice for Mr
Mbeki must be made very clear," said the independent Zimbabwean daily. "He
must either stand up for democracy and good governance by acting on
Zimbabwe, or the whole world will conclude that his place is among the
In an acerbic column for South Africa's Mail & Guardian , Robert Kirby
argued Mr Mbeki's place in the tyrannical pantheon was already secure.
Although penning a mock obituary of Mr Mugabe, Kirby used the piece to
attack Mr Mbeki for his "devotion and fidelity" to Mr Mugabe. "To Mr Mbeki,
Mr Mugabe was the gibbering epitome of all that lay behind his own
scintillating master plan, Nepad: the New Partnership for African
Destruction. Mr Mbeki missed no opportunity to be photographed or televised
with his arm draped admiringly around the Mugabe shoulders."
Zim talks are denied, but they're on
agenda July 11, 2003
By Basildon Peta & Brian Latham
He said on Wednesday at a joint press conference with President George Bush that the main foes in Zimbabwe's political debacle were talking.
Mbeki's remarks, which he had made a day earlier in an interview with CNN, attracted an angry response from Movement for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who initially dismissed them
Both Zanu-PF and the MDC reject South African claim that they are taking part in active negotiations
He described them as "false and mischievous", and meant to buy time for President Robert Mugabe regime.
Yesterday, Mugabe's Zanu-PF joined the MDC in denying any talks. Two Zanu-PF officials said they were not aware of the talks referred to by Mbeki.
"I am totally unaware of what Mbeki was talking about,"
Didymus Mutasa, Zanu-PF's secretary for external affairs and a close Mugabe confidant, told the Financial Gazette newspaper.
"I have no knowledge at all about that and I do not think President Mugabe knows either. He has not said anything to that effect to any of us, so I don't believe it's true."
Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who originally represented Zanu-PF in the first talks brokered by Mbeki before they were called off by Zanu-PF last year, said he too was unaware of the talks
I'm pleased the two presidents had a meeting of minds
With the denials by both Zanu-PF and the MDC it has become increasingly difficult to understand which talks Mbeki is persistently referring to.
Prominent Zimbabwean analyst Lovemore Madhuku said that as Mbeki had declared that talks were taking place, it would be helpful if he provided more details because there was no longer anything secretive about the talks.
Madhuku said that if there were indeed any serious talks between Zanu-PF and the MDC, he saw no benefit that the two parties could derive from denying their existence.
Mbeki said South Africa had always urged Zanu-PF and the MDC to get together and tackle the issue of governance.
"The two parties are indeed in discussions. We can't allow that situation to go on for ever. We have to find a way to get a political solution," Mbeki said.
The MDC and Zanu-PF began talks in April last year after Mbeki and Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo intervened to break the impasse in Zimbabwe after the controversial March 2000 presidential election.
The talks broke off before the parties agreed on an agenda and after the MDC had filed a court petition challenging Mugabe's victory.
Meanwhile Tsvangirai said he was pleased that there had been a "meeting of minds" between Mbeki and Bush.
He hoped that Mbeki would now ensure that formal talks started within days rather than weeks.
Tsvangirai said yesterday he was looking forward to any future talks, and that the MDC was encouraged by comments made by the two presidents.
"President Mbeki is particularly encouraging when he says the two presidents are of one mind about the urgent need to address the political crisis in Zimbabwe." - Independent Foreign Service
Bush needs to match words with deeds
Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party has vehemently denied
that it is talking to the opposition Movement for Democratic Change to resolve
the Zimbabwean crisis, as claimed by President Mbeki.
Friday, July 11, 2003
arrival in Africa this week is a historic one. His
steps will be the first made by a sitting Republican president on African
soil. For this act alone Mr Bush deserves credit. Pitching up on Senegal’s
Goree island, where Africans were held before being shipped as slaves to
America, Mr Bush casts himself as successor to President Clinton’s ambitious
engagement with the continent. For many years, Africa barely counted in US
foreign policy - beyond being a battlefield during the cold war. Mr Clinton’
s 1998 visit changed all this. He soothed African resentment with American
rapprochement not least with an apology for inaction during the Rwandan
genocide. Like his Democratic predecessor, Mr Bush will promote political
reform and peace-building. True, the Bush White House has sometimes
cynically pushed the continent’s concerns to the top of the international
agenda. Sure, West Africa’s large oil reserves have helped attract the
attention of the president. And of course, the US is increasingly wary of
failed states, of which Africa has too many, becoming breeding grounds for
But Mr Bush’s optimistic view is of an Africa prepared to pull itself
out of poverty. His refreshingly sunny assessments of Africa’s untapped
potential are welcome. There is no doubt of the scale of the task presented
by the globe’s second biggest continent. The misgovernment of Zimbabwe and
the civil war in Liberia indicate starkly the size of the acute problems
Africa presents to the rest of the world. This should not obscure Africa’s
chronic difficulties. African incomes have stagnated and even declined,
while other poor nations have risen. Lifespans are shortening, in part due
to the relentless advance of Aids across the continent. While the rest of
the planet globalises, Africa appears to be collapsing in upon itself. It
contains more than a tenth of the world’s population, but little less than
2% of its income. Here Mr Bush’s answers have promised a lot but furnished
little in the way of results. Not much has emerged from Mr Bush’s Millennium
Challenge Accounts, which would have seen developing countries compete
against each other for $5bn of new American aid, announced a year ago. The
administration’s ambitious commitment to treating Aids in Africa looks to be
going the same way - with new cash not being made available quickly enough.
This is partly because of the White House’s suspicion of the United Nations
and its fund to fight Aids, TB and malaria, which has proved effective in
combating diseases but lacks cash - especially from America - to do so.
Even worse has been the Republican administration’s constant siding
with the pharmaceutical industry over the issue of cheap medicines for the
developing world. Blocking the right of poor countries to get access to
inexpensive medicines means cutting short the life expectancy of Africa’s
workforce. Mr Bush has also not done enough to make America’s trade and aid
policies fairer. Washington remains the meanest donor in the world. Too much
US cash is “tied” to the purchase of American goods and services. And much
aid is bent to strategic rather than developmental goals. America’s generous
handouts and subsidies to its vast agribusinesses push African farmers out
of global and local markets, depriving poor economies of income and
employment. All this drains President Bush’s rhetoric of its good intent.
America needs to present Africa with real opportunities, not just
photo-opportunities, to make a difference. In an interdependent world,
America cannot afford to ignore Africa’s problems.
By Ugochukwu Ejinkkeonye
Friday, July 11, 2003
President George Bush begins his tour of Africa, he is demanding
that Liberia”s President Charles Taylor step down, and preparing a possible
military intervention. America is also putting pressure on Zimbabwe”s
leader, Robert Mugabe, to resign. Some thought North Korea or Iran or maybe
Syria might be next on President George Bush”s list for regime change, after
Iraq. But it now seems likely that the strife-torn former American colony of
Liberia, whose 14-year civil war has inflamed conflicts across West Africa,
will be the next to undergo American-led military intervention to bring
about a change of government. On Monday July 7th, as Mr Bush was setting out
on his first official visit to Africa, a 20-strong American military team
flew in by helicopter to the heavily fortified American embassy in the
Liberian capital, Monrovia, to assess the security situation. On Tuesday,
arriving in Senegal, Mr Bush said he had still not decided whether to send a
larger contingent, of up to 2,000 troops, to restore order——and, if
necessary, to remove Liberia’s president, Charles Taylor. As he was
speaking, troops loyal to Mr Taylor prevented the American military
observers from visiting a refugee camp outside Monrovia.
Last week, Mr Bush told Mr Taylor he must step down immediately. Mr
Taylor said over the weekend that he would accept a proposal to go into
exile in Nigeria but that he wanted to wait for America’s troops to arrive
before resigning. He has offered to resign before, only to continue clinging
to power. Unlike in the case of Iraq, American armed intervention in Liberia
has the full backing of both the United Nations and France. The French, and
several West African states, have offered to contribute to a peacekeeping
force for Liberia. West African leaders on Tuesday renewed their calls on Mr
Bush to intervene.
MR Taylor emerged in the 1980s from the training camps of his
friend——and America's foe——the Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, with the aim
of spreading rebellion around West Africa. He certainly achieved it. After
launching a revolt in his own country and establishing himself as its chief
rebel warlord, in 1997 Mr Taylor won an election for president, and started
sponsoring uprisings in neighbouring countries. He backed Foday Sankoh, a
Sierra Leonean rebel (also Libyan-trained) whose troops hacked off the limbs
of thousands of civilians, and with whom Mr Taylor traded guns for diamonds.
In 1999, the two men backed a rebellion in Guinea. Both uprisings were
abruptly stopped when Britain sent troops into Sierra Leone in 2000.
Liberians have fought on both sides in the uprising in Côôte d”Ivoire. Last
year, France sent troops there to keep the peace.
Mr Taylor”s moment of reckoning has been coming for some time now:
though they deny it, his neighbours have been backing Liberian rebel groups,
which have taken more than half the country in recent weeks and are
besieging Monrovia. In June, as he was attending peace talks in Ghana, a UN
tribunal investigating atrocities in Sierra Leone”s civil war issued an
arrest warrant for Mr Taylor on war-crimes charges. This forced him to flee
back to Monrovia, whereupon the rebels launched attacks to try to dislodge
him. Amid the worst bloodshed since the civil war”s early days in
1990——which is continuing despite a supposed ceasefire——Liberians have been
demonstrating outside the American embassy in Monrovia, between dodging
bullets and grenades, to plead with Mr Bush to intervene.
America has been reluctant to intervene militarily in Africa since
its humiliating withdrawal from Somalia in 1993, after 18 American troops
were killed. But the success of the British and French interventions in
Sierra Leone and Côte d'Ivoire shows that a fairly small number of
well-armed, professional soldiers can quickly overcome ill-disciplined
rebels. Liberia's various groups of drugged-up, drunken fighters ought, on
paper at least, to be no match for even a modest American-led force.
Liberia's troubles threaten to re-ignite the conflicts in neighbouring
countries, which is why France, Britain and the UN are pressing America to
Though American troops may soon arrive in force in Liberia, Mr Bush
and his secretary of state, Colin Powell, will not be visiting the country
on their tour of Africa this week. Nor will they visit Zimbabwe, whose
state-controlled media have attacked Mr Powell for putting pressure on the
country’s dictatorial president, Robert Mugabe, to resign, by promising that
massive American aid would be sent to the impoverished country as soon as he
is gone. Zimbabwe's main opposition, the Movement for Democratic Change
(MDC), is widely believed to have been the true winner of last year”s
elections, though Mr Mugabe declared himself re-elected. The MDC is
challenging the official election result in the courts. Mr Mugabe has
responded by putting the MDC's leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, on trial for
treason. Mr Bush will discuss Zimbabwe's deep political and economic crisis
with other African leaders, and MDC officials will lobby him to step up the
pressure on Mr Mugabe to quit. On Tuesday, police dispersed protesters in
Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare, who had called on Mr Bush to force Mr Mugabe out
Mr Bush and Mr Powell will be bombarded with demands for attention as
they tour Senegal, South Africa, Botswana, Uganda and Nigeria——from
governments and oppositions, from charities and pressure groups, from
businesses and from the UN. Besides pressing Mr Bush to intervene militarily
in Liberia, Kofi Annan, the UN”s secretary-general, is urging him to
contribute troops to a French-led peacekeeping force in the even bloodier
conflict in Congo, in which up to 4.7m people have been killed in the past
five years. In Sudan”s religious conflict, between a Muslim government and
Christian and animist separatists, more than 2m have died since the early
1980s, though progress towards peace is now being made, through American and
African diplomatic efforts. Even in Uganda, one of the continent”s
relatively peaceful countries, rebels are terrorising villages and
kidnapping children to serve as soldiers.
Africa has so many grave problems that not even the world”s superpower
has the resources to solve all of them. At least Mr Bush, contrary to
initial expectations, is showing resolve to try to tackle some: before
setting out for his Africa trip, he announced extra food aid to help avert
mass starvation in Ethiopia; and a $100m anti-terrorism programme to improve
security at East Africa”s ports and airports. Most importantly, Mr Bush will
use his trip to promote his $15 billion plan to fight AIDS in Africa and the
Caribbean. Congress has yet to approve the spending on the project but Mr
Bush says he hopes his African trip will help raise awareness in America
about the scale of the continent”s AIDS crisis.
As Mr Bush said in an interview with African journalists ahead of his
trip, ““It”s in our national interests that Africa become a prosperous
place, it”s in our interest that people will continue to fight terror
together……It”s in our interest that when we find suffering, we deal with
it.”” Given that the president has his hands full trying to rebuild Iraq,
brokering the peace talks in the Middle East and facing down North Korea and
Iran over their nuclear ambitions, it is rather surprising that he has found
the time to tackle some of Africa”s problems. Surprising but welcome.
Culled from The Economist
International Criminal Court or International Mischief?
By Tom DeWeese © 2003
The international community cried crocodile tears when the United
States withdrew its support of the UN's International Criminal Court (ICC).
Supporters of the court laughed when the US expressed concern that our
soldiers could be prosecuted for war crimes. Great Britain's Prime Minister,
Tony Blair, lobbied President Bush to reconsider US withdrawal.
The US, however, at President Bush's direction, withdrew from the 1998
Rome Statute that established the Court. The action was necessary because,
as one of his last acts of office, former President Clinton had committed
the US to the ICC, yet another totally unaccountable UN bureaucracy
guaranteed to work against our interests.
The Court came into being on April 11, 2002. Now the court is
beginning its first session and guess who is the first to come under
investigation for possible war crimes charges? Saddam Hussein? Osama Bin
Ladin? The murderous Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe, who is starving
his own people and stealing any land owned by a white farmer?
The answer: Tony Blair! The British Prime Minister now finds himself
among one of the first world leaders to be reviewed by the incoming
prosecutor of the ICC for his participation in the Iraq war. The Greek Bar
Association has announced that it will file a complaint with the ICC against
Could Blair be convicted? Would he be unable to travel to other
countries for fear of being arrested by ICC cops? Would an indictment end
his political career? Would a conviction mean the establishment of a new
order of power in the world? All of these things are true.
Americans must understand that the UN's International Criminal Court
is not a tool to fight terrorists or murderous dictators. Rather it is a
sledgehammer in the hands of the very people the rest of the world thinks
are "the bad guys." This gang of brutes, in the guise of international
diplomats, fully intends to use the ICC as an equalizer to bring down the
moral, productive nations they jealously covet and despise.
The Rome Statute that created the ICC was implemented to prosecute
"gross human rights abuses." In an odd pairing of mutual interests, the US,
China, Iraq, and Israel voted against the Statute. The view of the US was
that any such court would supersede the Constitution and directly challenge
our nation's sovereignty. This is the single, most important reason for
opposing the ICC. The next reason is that, like everything else associated
with the UN, the Court will prove to be an utterly corrupt instrument of
To back up its opposition, the US has enlisted the cooperation of
other nations, securing guarantees from more than twenty that US armed
forces personnel would not be subject to ICC prosecution. President Bush
recently revoked military aid to thirty-five nations that would not
guarantee US immunity from the Court.
At a time when the US is being called upon to expand its peacekeeping
activities, the last thing it needs is a UN International Criminal Court
ready to pounce on any excuse to restrict its operations. The United States
maintains military personnel in 146 nations around the world and in all the
oceans and seas. The ICC opens the door to the worst kind of mischief.
There is, of course, an even greater irony. The United States
underwrites nearly one quarter of the operational funding of the United
Nations. It has allocated more than $726 million to UN peacekeeping
activities and $820 million for general migration and refugee assistance.
So, while the US picks up the tab, the UN's ICC is poised to bite the hand
that feeds it.
The powers of the United States are based on the consent of the
governed. At the United Nations, "laws" are instituted by unknown, faceless
bureaucrats and adopted by the consensus of appointed delegates, only one of
whom is accountable to our citizens. Any number of current UN treaties,
conventions, and protocols claim to exercise control over the United States.
They are called "international obligations", but under the Constitution,
they are totally invalid unless approved by the US Senate.
The time has long since passed when the United States should withdraw
its support from the United Nations, in whole and in part. The UN has proven
itself not merely irrelevant, but a growing threat to the international
interests of the United States in a world of rogue nation-states and shadowy
international movements whose purpose is to destroy this nation.
The existence of the International Criminal Court is not some noble
effort to bring the real despots and dictators to justice; it is itself an
instrument of further injustice as the US puts its citizen-soldiers in
harm's way to rid the world of its worst, most evil elements.
Tom DeWeese is the publisher/editor of The DeWeese Report and
President of the American Policy Center, a grassroots, activist think tank
headquartered in Warrenton, Virginia. The Center maintains an Internet site
Copyright, Tom DeWeese, 2003
Powell Interview on CNN s Larry King Live
Friday, 11 July 2003, 2:42 pm
Press Release: US State Department
Interview on CNN s Larry King Live
Secretary Colin L. Powell Pretoria, South Africa July 10, 2003
(Aired at 9:00 p.m.)
MR. KING: Good evening and welcome to a very special edition of Larry King
Live. Later, Bob Woodward will join us. We begin in Pretoria, South Africa
with Secretary of State Colin Powell. Thank you very much, Mr. Secretary,
for giving us this time. Why Africa? Why now?
SECRETARY POWELL: Because Africa is an important continent with many
important countries and because the President from the very beginning of the
Administration wanted to make sure that Africa enjoyed a priority. He
followed through on the instructions that he gave to me and Dr. Rice and all
of the members of the foreign affairs team to make sure that we had programs
that supported African ambitions, the desire of the African people to lead
better lives. So, we have expanded the African Growth and Opportunity Act.
We have done the Millennium Challenge Account, which is going to make a
major difference here in Africa by providing more money for aid. We have
invested enormously. The President made a major investment in the campaign
against HIV/ AIDS with his Global Fund the support to the Global Fund, as
well as the new Emergency Fund that he has created. Africa is a continent of
great importance to us and it has problems that we want to help African
nations solve. And he particularly wants to help those nations who have made
a commitment to democracy, a commitment to the free enterprise system.
MR. KING: Mr. Secretary, is this a new emphasis, or is this the George
Bush you always knew?
SECRETARY POWELL: It is the George Bush that I met during the campaign
season. It is the George Bush I talked about issues with during the
transition. From the very beginning he made it clear that Africa and other
parts of the world that are undeveloped and in need of American assistance
would receive that assistance. His visit here is for the purpose of
demonstrating his commitment.
MR. KING: How bad is the AIDS crisis?
SECRETARY POWELL: The HIV/AIDS crisis is bad -- it is a pandemic. It is a
weapon of mass destruction. Millions and millions of people are at risk and
it is not just a human issue, it is a political issue. It is the destruction
of societies, the destruction of countries, the destruction of hope for a
better life. It is something that we must all come together to fight. I
think the United States has been in the forefront of leading this effort and
we will continue to do so. The President has a passion for this issue and he
has been demonstrating that passion throughout this week in his visit to
Senegal and South Africa and to Botswana and will do it tomorrow when we go
to Uganda, then on to Nigeria.
MR. KING: Is the money that he talked about, is that committed? Is that a
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we are working with the Congress to get the
funding and we hope that the Congress will support the President s request.
We already had a large number of bilateral programs, so we were spending
billions and billions of dollars already. But the President recognized that
the need was so great that we really had to ratchet up our level of
spending. That s why he asked the American people to share our wealth, share
the benefits that we enjoy in our country with others around the world who
are in need, especially those who are suffering from the pandemic of
HIV/AIDS. And I m confident and hopeful that the Congress will provide the
funding. I know the American people support this issue and I hope that
Congress has no hesitation about giving full funding to this program.
MR. KING: Concerning Liberia, Mr. Secretary, yesterday the President said
that the United States will be involved in Liberia. Can you elaborate on
SECRETARY POWELL: Yes. We are working with ECOWAS and we are working with
the United Nations. I have talked to Kofi Annan almost every day in the past
week and ECOWAS is taking the lead. These are the African nations that are
willing to put troops on the ground to assist in the departure of President
Taylor. Nigeria has offered him a place to go. Nigeria has offered troops;
other nations have offered troops. But they will need some assistance in
getting to Monrovia and in supporting themselves once in Monrovia. The
United States will have a role to play. We will participate in that effort.
We are sending a team from the Pentagon to Accra in Ghana this weekend to
discuss with ECOWAS their needs and to see whether or not a U.S. presence is
also required. So the President has indicated a willingness to support and
participate in this effort.
MR. KING: Do you envision American troops going there?
SECRETARY POWELL: It s a possibility. We are looking at all of the options
but we want to examine this very, very carefully. We believe that ECOWAS and
the United Nations have to be in the lead. The United Nations has to put in
place the political process that will bring in a new government. And we will
wait to see what our assessment team finds out during their deliberations
over the weekend. Then I expect the President to make a decision in the
not-too-distant future about the support we will be providing and what level
of participation is required.
MR. KING: But there is no question that the United States has to be in
SECRETARY POWELL: The President has made it clear that we are prepared to
participate but exactly what that participation will involve is what we are
looking at right now, Larry.
MR. KING: And what about the call for the change in government in
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, what we have said with respect to Zimbabwe is that
President Mugabe has practiced very flawed economic policies, put in place
flawed economic policies, and we have a flawed political system where the
opposition isn t allowed to participate fully in the political process of
the country. It is a country that used to be an exporter of food. It is a
country that is in very great distress right now and so we believe that
President Mugabe should openly discuss these issues with the opposition, let
them participate and find a political solution to this crisis so that
Zimbabwe does not become the destabilizing element throughout the region.
That is the same position that President Mbeki has taken with President Bush
yesterday at the press conference as you saw, Larry. And we will continue to
speak out very sharply and clearly about this issue.
MR. KING: Do you frankly expect him to go?
SECRETARY POWELL: I can t say that now. We will have to see what happens.
There are a number of nations that are working on this issue. President
Mbeki is working on it, we are working on it, the United Nations is working
on it. We also have a humanitarian problem in Zimbabwe. They are in
desperate need of food and we are trying to do everything we can with
respect to alleviating the conditions of famine that exist in the country as
well. But I can t tell you right now how it will be resolved politically.
But there is a desperate need for the government to speak openly and
honestly and have open negotiations with the opposition.
MR. KING: Are you satisfied personally and as Secretary of State with the
President s speech about slavery? SECRETARY POWELL: I think he gave a very
powerful statement in Senegal at Goree Island. I think we recognize what
history was represented at that terrible site. He has spoken every day since
about looking at that last doorway going out to where the ships would load
the slaves. He also spoke about the triumph of the human spirit, how these
people could come to the United States, be sent into slavery, families
broken up, and yet what was not destroyed was the human spirit, the desire
to do something with one s life and how in our country in the United States
of America, we had slavery and we had to fight a great war to end slavery.
And even after that war, it took another hundred years before we could see
the equality that we enjoy in our society now. The President also recognizes
that we have much more to do in our society to remove the last vestiges of
that horrible past. So, I think he gave a powerful statement that talked
about the past and also talks about the future.
MR. KING: Some in the United States felt he should have apologized. Should
SECRETARY POWELL: No, I don t think there was a necessity for the United
States to apologize. The United States, when we came to being as a nation,
slavery was there. It took us a while to recognize that we could not live
our Constitution truly unless we eliminated slavery and hundreds of
thousands of young men fought a Civil War to end slavery. Then it took us a
long time to get rid of the vestiges of slavery and we are still working on
it to this very day. So the very fact that we have come this far and we are
working so hard, that shows that we think about slavery. That shows I think
what America has done to put this issue into the past and look to the
future. But I don t know if it was necessary for a President of the United
States to come here and apologize for the sins of those who were responsible
for slavery so many hundreds of years ago.
MR. KING: We ll be back with some more moments with the Secretary of State
Colin Powell. He is in Pretoria, South Africa, accompanying the President on
this historic tour.
MR. KING: We are back with Secretary of State Colin Powell in Africa with
the President of the United States.
What is your thinking and thoughts on this furor over the President s
admitted misstatement about the uranium purchases in Africa by Iraq in the
State of the Union address?
SECRETARY POWELL: Quite frankly Larry, I think too much is being made out
of this single statement in his State of the Union address. The fact of the
matter is that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, continued to
develop weapons of mass destruction throughout the 90 s during a period of
time when U.N. resolution after U.N. resolution told him that it had to
stop, that he had to come clean and he ignored all of those resolutions to
the point that in 1998 when the inspectors were learning even more, he
created a set of conditions that forced the inspectors out, requiring
President Clinton to go and bomb these facilities that were believed at that
time by the previous administration, to be facilities designed to produce
even more weapons of mass destruction. The international community believed
as a community that he had such weapons and I m quite confident that as we
go forward with the investigations and the searches that are underway in
Iraq now, more evidence will be found to show to the world that he was
guilty as charged of possessing these weapons.
So to single out this one statement having to do with an intelligence
picture that wasn t entirely clear with respect to what he might have been
trying to do with respect to acquiring uranium in Africa, I think there is
quite an overstatement and quite an overreaction to this one line. The
President wasn t in any way trying to mislead. It was information that got
into the speech, whether it should or should not have been in the speech is
something we can certainly discuss and debate. But it wasn t a deliberate
attempt on the part of the President to either mislead or exaggerate. That s
MR. KING: Okay. The current situation in Iraq, what do you make of it?
Somebody seems killed every day. What s your assessment?
SECRETARY POWELL: The Iraqi people have been liberated. Ambassador Bremer
and his team are doing a remarkable job in restoring the infrastructure to
the country an infrastructure that was destroyed by Saddam Hussein by 30
years of misrule. Yes, there are still dangerous areas in the country. I
regret we are still losing troops and young men and women are being wounded;
but they are being wounded by people who don t want to see the Iraqi people
free, by people who still cling to this terrible past, Ba ath party members,
Fedayeen, and others who resent the fact that the international community,
led by the United States, is there to try to create a better life for the
I am quite confident in the ability of our military forces and other
nations that will be joining the coalition and the other coalition members
who are there now to put down this level of violence. These folks that still
don t understand that it is a new day for Iraq. But they will be put down,
security will be achieved, and then we can get on with the business of
rebuilding a country and helping that country put in place a representative
form of government. I am confident that Ambassador Bremer knows how to go
about this; he is doing a great job. In the very near future, he will be
announcing political leaders, Iraqis who will start to exercise authority
under Ambassador Bremer. People will begin working on a constitution and
over time the Iraqi people will have their country given back to them and in
far better shape than we found it.
MR. KING: A few other areas. By the way, should we have expected this?
SECRETARY POWELL: I don t think what we are seeing is totally unexpected.
You never can anticipate everything that is going to happen in a
post-conflict environment. But we knew that once the regime was taken down,
there would be 25 million people roughly who we would have responsibility
for and that the existing structure that would have been badly damaged or
destroyed -- the Ba ath party leadership, the military, the police forces,
so we knew that we were in for a challenging time and a difficult time and
we are going to be able to deal with it. As the President said we are
committed; we know the challenge ahead of us is great but we are up to that
MR. KING: The front page of today s USA Today has the headline Allies Balk
at Sending Troops. Do you discount that?
SECRETARY POWELL: Well, we are working with a number of allies who have
made commitments. The Poles have already started to send in their advance
party teams. We are working with a number of nations around the world.
Secretary Rumsfeld and his team are in touch with these nations determining
what their needs are, where to integrate them, we are dividing up sectors. I
think a number of nations are planning to come forward. I can t give you the
exact number of nations or how many troops are going to be committed. The
guts of the work will still have to be done by the United States, Great
Britain and the original members of the coalition. But I am quite sure that
we will have a number of other nations joining us on the field because they
understand the importance of the mission and they too are committed to a
future Iraq that no longer has weapons of mass destruction and is living in
peace with its neighbors.
MR. KING: The last time we were together you told me how difficult, as you
saw it, the Mideast situation was and how difficult it will be to get those
people together. Are you a little more confident now?
SECRETARY POWELL: I m a little more confident and I m a little more
optimistic. I m pleased that we were finally were able to present the
roadmap to the parties. And both parties have done quite a bit already in
moving down the path laid out in the roadmap. But there is a lot of work
ahead of us. I am pleased that we have seen the transfer of Gaza back to the
Palestinians, Bethlehem as well. I hope other cities will follow in due
course. Israel, for its part, has taken down some of the unauthorized
outposts, released some prisoners. I hope more prisoner releases will be
forthcoming. We have to take this a day at a time, a step at a time. But I
am impressed that both sides realize that they couldn t keep doing what they
were doing. What was happening with the constant terror and violence and the
response to terror and violence -- that cycle that went on and on had to be
broken. President Bush, with his strong leadership at the Sharm al-Sheikh
Summit and the Aqaba Summit, showed them the way forward and they have taken
that way forward.
MR. KING: Two other quick things: Usama bin Ladin, Saddam Hussein. Must
they be caught?
SECRETARY POWELL: I don t know if they will be caught or not. I would like
to see both of them caught. But the important thing with respect to Saddam
Hussein is that he is no longer in power. There may be remnants of his
organization around but they will be dealt with in due course and he will
never be back in power. With respect to Usama bin Ladin, he is still out
there we believe. We cannot be sure, we don t know if he is dead or alive.
If he is dead, we d like to see his body to prove it. If he s alive, we will
eventually hunt him down and find him. As long as they are out there, they
can cause trouble. We are prepared to deal with that trouble and we will not
end the search until we have found out what happened to them, whether they
are dead or alive.
MR. KING: And one other thing on Africa. What has impacted the President
the most in your opinion?
SECRETARY POWELL: I think he was moved especially by Goree Island -- to
have the conditions of capturing people explained to him, and to see the
places where they were actually put and how they were treated just as cargo,
as a commodities to be sold -- I think he was deeply moved by that. I think
he was also moved by his time in Senegal and South Africa and today Botswana
to see countries that are committed to democracy, committed to reform,
committed to attacking the problems of HIV/AIDS, committed to a better
relationship with the United States. He was moved. He was moved by the
people that he has met, the leaders that he has seen. So, I think the
President will come away from his trip with a much deeper understanding of
the needs of Africa and an even greater commitment to giving everything we
can to satisfy those needs.
MR. KING: Thank you, Mr. Secretary, it is always good seeing you. Safe
SECRETARY POWELL: Thank you, Larry.
Released on July 10, 2003
The Washington Times
leave Bushes blushing
By Bill Sammon
Published July 11, 2003
GABORONE, Botswana — It was supposed to be a priceless photo-op,
showcasing the first family marveling at African wildlife on a pristine game
preserve. It turned into a sexually awkward moment of elephantine
President Bush and first lady Laura Bush took daughter Barbara, 21, on a
tour of the Mokolodi Nature Reserve in Botswana yesterday.
"It looks a lot like Crawford," said Mr. Bush, referring to the Texas
town he calls home, as he gazed across the 10,000-acre savanna.
White House press wranglers then hustled a gaggle of journalists to
positions for the day's photo opportunity. Four elephants stood in a
clearing and munched the top leaves of an acacia tree.
The presidential vehicle pulled up two minutes later and parked 15 feet
in front of the pachyderms. Mr. Bush leaned over to shake the hand of
elephant trainer Uttum Corea with an affable "How you doing?"
As news cameras began clicking and whirring to record the moment for
posterity, a male elephant named Shaka reared up and tried to mount a female
elephant named Thandi.
The journalists convulsed with laughter as Mr. Bush turned to the
cameras and smiled sheepishly. Miss Bush threw back her head in
embarrassment and covered her face with her hands.
Then Mr. Bush pulled his cap over his face to shield himself from the
impending union, which turned out to be unsuccessful.
In an attempt to relieve the tension, Mr. Corea told the president:
"Shaka has been practicing this since he was five years old. This is how
elephants learn about the birds and the bees."
After Shaka's passions had cooled, Mr. Corea said he "looked into the
elephants' eyes" and decided it was safe to approach them. One of Mr.
Corea's trainers walked over and climbed onto Shaka's back.
"Any volunteers?" Mr. Corea asked the Bushes. The president jumped out
of his truck, followed by Barbara and a Secret Service agent.
"Sir, do you really want to do that?" the agent was overheard murmuring
in an urgent tone.
Unfazed, Mr. Bush approached the elephants, stroked their tusks and
turned to face the cameras. He gestured for his daughter to come closer,
although she moved behind the president when an elephant raised a tusk.
"Good boy," Mr. Bush said as he patted a pachyderm.
"OK, darling, that's enough," called out Mrs. Bush.
"Bye, Shaka," the president said as he walked back to the truck.
Secretary of State Colin L. Powell was as diplomatic as ever when asked
whether the symbols of the Republican Party had wandered off message.
"The elephants were on message," Mr. Powell deadpanned. "We were all on
Bush backpedals in Africa
President Bush disappointed us while in South Africa on Wednesday.
Perhaps succumbing to bad counsel of his diplomatic advisers, Mr. Bush toned
down his once tough line on Zimbabwe, by failing to hold South African
President Thabo Mbeki to a firmer stance against Zimbabwe's
oppressor-in-chief Robert Mugabe. This is a shame, because only Mr. Mbeki,
the power broker in the region, has the African clout to effectively
pressure Mr. Mugabe to step down.
Kicking off his African tour with a meek start, Mr. Bush said Wednesday
during a press conference with Mr. Mbeki: "I do not have any intention of
second-guessing his tactics, we share the same outcome," adding, "I think
Mr. Mbeki can be an 'honest broker.' " His comment was far from accurate.
Mr. Mbeki's so-called quiet diplomacy toward Mr. Mugabe has been dubbed
silent diplomacy in Africa, because of its ineffectiveness. It is also
glaringly disproportionate to the scale and cause of Zimbabwe's crisis.
On the eve of the Bush-Mbeki press conference, the South African
president said that the Zimbabwean government and opposition "are talking,"
adding, "There are discussions, and I'm quite sure they will find a
solution." But the leader of Zimbabwe's opposition, Morgan Tsvangirai, said
Mr. Mbeki's comments were categorically false, since there has been "no
politically engagement" between the two parties. Mr. Mbeki's comment
outraged many Zimbabweans, who claim the South African president was
shrugging off their despair.
Meanwhile, Mr. Mugabe was measurably emboldened by Mr. Bush's
backpeddling. Zimbabwe's official newspaper, the Herald, said Mr. Bush made
"a loud climb-down by a president all along misled." Fortunately, Mr. Bush
was sufficiently roused by the Herald's "report" and dropped his game of
patty cake with Mr. Mbeki.
In Botswana yesterday, Mr. Bush said, "It's a shame that the
[Zimbabwean] economy has gotten so weak and soft . . . and that the weakness
in the economy is directly attributable to bad governance." He added,
"Therefore we will continue to speak out for democracy in Zimbabwe." While
Mr. Bush looked quite the statesman in South Africa, he seemed to remember
in Botswana that plain talk is preferable to minced words, and Stetsons to
For the people of Zimbabwe, there is much at stake. Mr. Mugabe's
murderous favoritism and haphazard land reform program has caused a 90
percent drop in production in large-scale commercial farming since the
1990s, the U.N. food organization said in a report last month. Once the
bread basket of southern Africa, Ziimbabwe now depends on food aid to feed
more than 5 million people, or about half the population. Annual inflation
is above 200 percent and three-quarters of Zimbabweans are jobless.
Unlike the crisis in Liberia, where African leaders have called for U.S.
involvement, Africa must deal with Zimbabwe. If Mr. Mbeki fails to take a
more active role with Zimbabwe in the future, Mr. Bush must not mince his
Libyan fuel deal held up
Vincent Kahiya/Dumisani Muleya
LIBYAN fuel will not be coming any time soon as Zimbabwe is still trying to
clear the issue of asset transfers as well as reviving its financing
agreement with the Libyan Arab Bank, it has been learnt.
Despite official claims that fuel would be coming "as soon as possible"
following President Mugabe's recent visit to Libya, nothing has been
released because negotiations over a new deal are still on. Libyans have
remained in the country to pursue further talks about assets and payment
Government sources this week said Harare, which
had a US$90 million
financing facility with the Libyan Arab Bank, owes the institution US$43
million. It also owes Libyan oil company Tamoil US$67 million, Independent
Petroleum Group (IPG) of Kuwait US$65 million, and Engen of South Africa
US$25 million. IPG cut supplies three months ago, resulting in the current
The ballooning of the Noczim
debt comes amid reports this week that the
Libyan delegation agreed on a price tag of US$60 million with the government
for the Mutare to Harare pipeline and storage facilities.
The Libyan delegation, which
includes officials from Tamoil, arrived in the
country last Monday and have been holding discussions with officials from
Noczim, fuel pipeline company Petrozim and the Ministry of Energy and Power
minister Amos Midzi confirmed the Libyans were in the country to
continue fuel negotiations.
"They came and are still here and we are
discussing," he said. "The
announcement on fuel was made (in Libya) and there has been no change to
that. What we are waiting for are dates and times of when the fuel will be
But sources said there were many loose ends to be tied.
Government sources said the new fuel deal
should be signed in the next two
weeks after the carrying out of a due diligence study and drawing up of
government and Libyan negotiators agreed that the total value of
the pipeline should be US$60 million. The government has agreed to sell off
half of its 50% stake in Petrozim and ancillary facilities. This effectively
means the Libyans would claim a 25% stake in the pipeline. The other 50%
stake is owned by Lonrho, which is winding up business in Zimbabwe. The
shareholding in the pipeline is believed to be Lonrho's largest investment
in the country.
"The most likely scenario is that if Lonrho decides to sell
shareholding in Petrozim the Libyans would be ready to snap it up," a
government source said. "That means the Libyans would have an effective 75%
The Libyans would like to establish a joint venture company,
Tamoil-Zimbabwe, with Noczim. The conclusion of the deal is crucial to fuel
supplies from Libya.
There are fears that the Libyans
would create a monopoly in the country if
it acquires the pipeline. This has been heightened by allegations this week
that they also wanted to control rail loading facilities at the Feruka depot
gets fuel through short-term and long-term credit financing and
cash. Before the collapse of the Libyan deal, the long-term payment plan was
through a 90-day credit financing facility provided by the Libyan Arab Bank.
The revolving facility was drawn up with stand-by letters of credit.
There was also a clearing agreement between the Reserve Bank and Bank Negara
of Malaysia. Both these facilities had back-to-back arrangements of
commodity and service exports to Libya and Malaysia.
Inflation gallops towards 400% mark
Dumisani Muleya/Shakeman Mugari
ZIMBABWE'S soaring inflation rate is expected to reach 400% by the end of
this month, economic analysts said this week. And it is likely to be fuelled
by the recent decision to print more money.
They said the official figure of 300,1% was unrealistic because the Central
Statistical Office (CSO), which calculates inflation, was using variables
that did not reflect the situation on the ground.
Analyst Eric Bloc said his calculation showed that inflation
320% but forecast it would reach 400% by month-end.
"Official inflation is always 20% less than the real
inflation rate because
the CSO uses spending patterns of the past and controlled prices of goods
whereas most basic commodities are pegged on black market rates," Bloch
"It is inevitable that inflation will
continue to rise unabated while the
government fools itself by using outdated measurements to suppress the
Analysts said the
current inflation rate did not reflect reality because it
ignored the sprawling black market. They said it overlooked the fact that
the economy was virtually operating in the underworld where prices were
almost double the controlled ones.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) last October
forecast that Zimbabwe's
inflation would soar to 522,2% this year. At the time inflation was 139,9%
but has since risen in leaps and bounds.
A German economic expert who visited the country last year to
economic situation on behalf of the Bundesagentur fur Aussenwirschaft, a
business forum that deals with imports and exports, also estimated that
inflation this year would shoot above 500%.
Inflation has become a major problem in Zimbabwe. It is
economic gains of the past 22 years and, by gnawing at the fabric of
society, fuelling social instability.
show at least 60% of Zimbabwe's population now lives below
the poverty datum line due to inflation. The worst-affected people are the
unemployed and those on low and fixed incomes such as pensioners.
Even middle-class income
earners, who constitute a significant component of
aggregate demand, are struggling to survive.
Inflation is eroding real incomes, investment,
business confidence, output,
It is also eating
away at national savings. It is arguably the biggest
single threat facing Zimbabwe today.
In a normal economy, domestic savings are supposed to
be at least 25% of the
GDP but in Zimbabwe savings have fallen to less that 9% due to fiscal
deficits, declining economic activity and inflation.
The destruction of national savings has led to a reduction
investment and economic development. In addition to inflation, low interest
rates have wiped out savings. The spread between real interest rates and
inflation continues to widen, thus discouraging savings.
Increased demand for credit and parallel market activities
fuelled by the
availability of cheap money have intensified the problem. This has been
compounded by a pattern of reckless government borrowing and spending.
Low interest rates, coupled with increasing money supply,
inflationary asset-price bubbles and artificial property market values,
especially in housing.
Stock and property asset market
prices keep rising as people avoid low
interest rates on the money market and hedge their fluid assets by
converting them into real estate.
means government's policy of trying to stimulate production and
through low interest rates will not work as the source of domestic capital -
savings - that create investment has effectively been eroded.
Finance minister Herbert Mure-rwa admitted in his budget
year that inflation had become the single most challenging problem for
"Inflation has become an interactive process
- self-perpetuating and
generating a perilous momentum of its own," Murerwa said.
"When economic agents expect inflation to persist, implicit
discretionary pricing become inevitable. This leads to more inflation as
adaptive expectations force past inflation trends to influence current and
future, as is the case now."
Government has over the
years sustained huge budget deficits that it
finances through borrowing from the Reserve Bank. This expenditure of money
on consumption rather than on productive sectors has sabotaged investment.
With its gargantuan
appetite to borrow and spend on non-productive areas,
government has also crowded out the private sector from the money market and
thus undermined private investment.
The current massive printing of money, which will
result in the injection of
$24 billion into the economy by next month, will also intensify inflation.
Kingdom Financial analyst Witness Chinyama
said increasing money supply
without a corresponding increase in economic output was highly inflationary.
"In fact, Zimbabwe is currently
experiencing stagflation - a combination of
declining economic activity and very high levels of inflation," he said.
The dramatic rise in
inflation to three digits has been accompanied by
similar growth rates in money supply. At the moment money supply growth is
160% and this is highly inflationary.
Zim on the brink of dramatic change
ZIMBABWE stands on the brink of sea change and it is now a matter of time
before the advent of a new political dispensation, the International Crisis
Group (ICG) says.
In its latest report, Decision Time in Zimbabwe, the ICG says President
Robert Mugabe's time has come and gone and the country is nearing a turning
"Change is in the air in
Zimbabwe," the ICG says. "Its citizens no longer
talk about whether it will come, but rather when. All acknowledge, however,
that the road will be dangerous, possibly violent.
"Zimbabwe's internal situation has
continued to worsen," it says, "producing
increasingly destabilising effects in southern Africa through refugees and
economic chaos and damaging the entire continent's efforts to establish new
political and trade relations with the rest of the world through the New
Partnership for Africa's Development initiative."
The ICG, a Brussels-based multinational
organisation that monitors conflicts
around the world, says South Africa has an important role to play in
unscrambling the Zimbabwe crisis.
says efforts by the European Union, Southern African Development
Community, African Union, and the Commonwealth, as well as the US and South
Africa could resolve the problem.
"There is a way forward for Zimbabwe, if the
international community -
especially and most directly the US - works with South Africa," ICG adviser
for Africa, John Prendergast, said.
"Acting separately and at variance ensures the crisis will
indefinitely, with increasingly grave repercussions in the country and the
The ICG says an urgent solution is needed to
avoid the spread of the
MDC slams delays
THE opposition MDC's challenge to the disputed parliamentary election
results three years ago is now an academic exercise, the party's
secretary-general Welshman Ncube has said.
"The delays in dealing with the cases has made them a mere academic
exercise," said Ncube.
The MDC challenged 39 seats won by
Zanu PF in the June 2000 parliamentary
election, alleging harassment and intimidation of its supporters. It has
been successful in six of the cases. These are Buhera North, Hurungwe East,
Mutoko South, Chiredzi North, Gokwe North and Gokwe South. It lost 31
Paddington Garwe is yet to deliver judgement in the Makoni
East case. In the Goromonzi election petition Justice Ben Hlatshwayo
dismissed the MDC petition without giving his reason.
The six Zanu PF candidates who lost their
cases immediately appealed to the
Supreme Court and their cases are still to be heard.
Ncube said three years to decide an electoral matter means
there is need to
re-visit the electoral rules.
Most of the MPs
under challenge are almost three fifths into their terms, he
Constitutional law expert Dr Lovemore Madhuku said the delays
cast a shadow
over the country's judicial system.
challenge is an urgent matter," said Madhuku who called for
election tribunals to deal with urgent matters.
Govt blamed for thriving black market
Augustine Mukaro/ Blessing Zulu
GOVERNMENT is fuelling speculative trading of maize and wheat on the black
market by increasing prices of the two commodities to millers by an average
1 600% last week, agricultural experts told the Zimbabwe Independent this
They said the Grain Marketing Board's decision to raise the selling price of
maize from $9 600 to $211 756 and that of wheat from $30 100 to $366 584
would force millers to seek alternative ways to obtain grain.
"Government has targeted the wrong end of things," a miller said this week.
"It should have increased its
buying price as a way of encouraging farmers
to bring in more grain. This would have increased its intake as well as
killing off the black market."
An industry source said millers would respond to the new
price regime by
going directly to farmers and offering them slightly higher prices thereby
cutting off the already thin delivery currently going to the GMB.
"Millers and other grain dealers will offer gate prices of
between $150 000
and $180 000 a tonne which will entice farmers," the source said.
The GMB pays farmers $130 000 a tonne and it takes up to two
farmers to receive payment. Grain dealers buying maize straight from farmers
usually pay cash on the spot.
Industry sources said
millers had already written to the Ministry of
Industry asking to revise the prices for both wheat and maize products.
"Millers want to increase
the prices of mealie-meal and bread by between
700% and 1 000%," a source said.
Bread went up to $1000 a loaf this week. Under the proposal, a
5kg packet of
mealie-meal would jump from $380 to $2 925, the source said.
Blue Ribbon Foods managing director Mike Manga confirmed that
submitted proposals for price reviews to the ministry.
"We have submitted our proposals and it's premature to comment," Manga said.
Opposition Movement for Demo-cratic Change
Agriculture spokesman Renson
Gasela said the new selling price of grain would dry-up deliveries to the
GMB whose prices have always been lower than those charged on the black
"Farmers are already selling their
maize to millers for $250 000," Gasela
said. "The price of $130 000 is far too low to entice a farmer to sell to
the GMB. Prices of inputs have gone up such that the two cannot be
Instead of solving the
prevailing food crisis, the increases have resulted
in prices of basic commodities, particularly mealie-meal and bread, going up
sharply this week.
Land audit reveals arbitrary seizures
Itai Dzamara/Dumisani Muleya
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's land audit team appointed last month to review
government's land reform programme has submitted a preliminary report that
reveals a pattern of corruption and ad hoc seizures in the allocation of
Official sources said the committee, headed by former Secretary to Cabinet
Charles Utete, submitted its initial report recently. When it was appointed
in May it was ex-pected to submit a comprehensive report within two months
The preliminary report is said
to be similar in form and content to Minister
of State for Land Reform, Flora Bhuka's report that unearthed gross
irregularities and multiple-farm-ownership in the land redistribution
"There is already a preliminary report
that details the abuses by ministers,
top government officials, senior Zanu PF members and higher ranking civil
servants," a source said referring to the Utete committee.
"Mugabe's comments last week-end in Chivi that those
who have amassed land
would lose the extra farms were based on that report."
The Bhuka report, which was suppressed in the corridors of
power in March,
named ministers, governors, senior military officers and civil servants as
having grabbed more than one farm in violation of government's own
The report of the
parliamentary portfolio committee on Lands, Agriculture,
Water Development, Rural Resources and Resettlement also exposed grave
abuses in the land reform programme.
The report, presented to parliament last month, was
compiled between January
"Regarding aspects of land
acquisition, planning and allocation, the review
acknowledges the unprecedented levels of property gazetting which are,
however, proceeding against sluggish legal confirmation amidst a flurry of
contestations," the report says.
The report noted that politicians usurped the powers of
the executive and
management institutions tasked with implementing the programme and seized
many farms and parcelled them out to their families and friends.
Although not identifying names, it said "prominent
government leaders and
politicians" were involved. The report alludes to the issue of abuse of
political power and multiple farm ownership.
is very clear that senior politicians do not respect these
resulting in some of these politicians appropriating the functions of the
Identification Committees by deciding what farm must be settled," it says.
"In some cases, they also decided who must be
settled even on properties not
identified for resettlement."
report gives the example of Matabeleland South province where a
prominent politician directed that small pieces of land owned and used by a
businessman as a filling station and hotel should be acquired for settlement
by his spouse.
It also refers to newspaper publisher and businessman Ibbo
farms that he controversially acquired in Matabeleland North province for
private projects. Mandaza also appears in the Bhuka report.
The report highlights the environmental and wildlife
destruction caused by
the land reform programme, which it describes as "a ticking time bomb".
Tsvangirai reads riot act to acting mayor
Augustine Mukaro/Blessing Zulu
MOVEMENT for Democratic Change leader Morgan Tsvangirai yesterday read the
riot act to Harare acting mayor Sekesai Makwavarara for breaching the
party's position not to implement government directives without full council
Makwavarara on Wed-nesday issued dismissal
letters to Mudzuri's bodyguards,
aides and a protocol officer and sent his driver on forced leave on the
orders of Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo.
Makwavarara's actions caused a furore in the MDC-dominated
prompted Tsvangirai to intervene.
The MDC took a
decision in May not to recognise mayor Elias Mudzuri's
suspension, the Zimbabwe Independent heard.
Tsvangirai yesterday summoned all Harare
councillors to an urgent meeting at
which Makwavarara's decisions were declared null and void.
One of the councillors who attended the
two-hour meeting said Makwavarara's
actions were unprocedural and did not represent council's position.
"A full council (meeting) should be
given time to deliberate on the issue
and it is only after those deliberations that such a decision can be taken.
Her decisions were by a one-man band and therefore null and void."
The councillor also said
the directive to withdraw the mayoral benefits were
unconstitutional because they were not spelt out anywhere in the Urban
Act says the minister can only suspend the mayor but it is silent on
his benefits. This leaves the directive subject to challenge in court," he
Mudzuri's lawyer Beat-rice Mtetwa said the suspension of
"If the minister wants to withdraw
those benefits he must first have a court
order," said Mtetwa.
"The mayor will not vacate the mayoral mansion since the
sought by Chombo did not include that," she said.
Mudzuri was arrested twice this week for turning up for work at
after the expiry of his official leave. On both occasions he was released
"During the second arrest police warned
me that I should not report for work
saying that I would cause commotion. I will always be reporting for work
until the court makes a ruling and I have actually ordered council officials
to bring all my work to me," said Mudzuri on Wednesday.
Mudzuri said he was sent a copy of the letter written
by Chombo to council
ordering his eviction from the official residence and the withdrawal of his
Call to review land policy
THE Zimbabwe's few remaining members of the Commercial Farmers Union (CFU)
will next month gather for their 60th annual congress at which they will
once again urge government to review its land policies to revive the
CFU vice-president Doug Taylor Freeme said his members remained committed to
offering their skills to anyone who wants to produce for the nation.
"Most of our members are no longer farming but are prepared
to offer their
services," Taylor-Freeme said.
"We want to urge
government to hold a policy review which will allow our
members to return to their properties and produce for the country."
Unlike in its heyday
when the CFU congress was a grand affair hosted at five
star hotels, only a handful of members are expected to attend this year's
event at Art Farm outside Harare on August 8.
The CFU's membership has been decimated
by the resettlement programme which
has left only 15% of its original members still active.
According to the latest CFU impact assessment survey,
an estimated 485
commercial farmers out of about 3 291 operating in the country as of January
2000 have remained on the land.
the CFU said the union now has about 2 050 paid up members, the
majority of whom are not on the farms but are trying to return.
farmers are operational in one way or another while 1 567 are not
certain about their future but prepared to come back to their farms and
start the business all over again," said one official.
Indigenisation train bypasses Zim’s marginalised
Zimbabwe’s indigenisation programme has been on a roller-coaster since its
inception in 1992. At meetings held at the Victoria Falls and the Sheraton a
group of local businessmen sold their empowerment programme to a government
in search of a policy.
Zanu PF, bereft of its socialist mantras after structural adjustment,
decided that if there was to be capitalism in Zimbabwe it should be
capitalism with a black profile. They bought the package being touted by the
Indigenous Business Development Centre (IBDC), the first flag-bearer of the
Although the IBDC later fragment-ed amidst much rivalry, indigenisation has
remained a central thrust of government policy. But how successful has the
policy been in terms of Zimbabwe’s growth and diversity?
The majority of the founding members of the IBDC are now successful
entrepreneurs running billion-dollar empires including banks, transport
firms, telecommunications concerns, as well as exporting entities.
They include Ben Mucheche (Mucheche Investments (Pvt) Ltd — a transport and
farming empire), Strive Masiyiwa (Econet Wireless Holdings — a telecoms
empire), Enoch Kamushinda (Metropolitan Bank — a commercial bank), John
Mapondera (Farirayi Quality Foods and Fiat Uno — a major exporter and
vehicle supplier), and Chemist Siziba (Cosmos — a telecommunications
services and equipment supplier).
In its hasty endeavour to allocate portions of the economy to indigenous
businessmen, government has often been hoodwinked by its officials taking
advantage of privileged information to enrich themselves.
Yet indigenisation was meant to be a way of balancing the efficient
management and competitiveness of the economy with opening up equal access
to business opportunities.
It has been used successfully in other developing countries to reduce
poverty and to transfer knowledge to once-marginalised people. Malaysia’s
programme of empowering Malays in an economy dominated by ethnic Chinese is
an example of diversifying skills and ownership.
But in Zimbabwe the indigenisation thrust seems to have ushered in a new
breed of entrepreneurs who owe their new-found wealth to their proximity to
a politically-connected elite.
Parastatals which had been slated for privatisation continue to be run by
individuals who owe more to their links to government and the ruling party
than business acumen. They are incurring billion-dollar losses monthly but
blame the economic climate.
Analysts say for indigenisation to work it should be carried out in a
transparent manner through the intermediary of independent institutions
because it is supposed to economically empower indigenous Zimbabweans
generally, not a favoured handful.
They say economically empowering the population could be done by increasing
indigenous business ownership of productive investment thus creating wealth
which would allow disadvantaged Zimbabweans to participate in economic
development by being directly involved in wealth-creating enterprises.
The analysts say democratising the ownership of the economy could also be
achieved by affording the majority an opportunity to participate in economic
activities, thereby eliminating racial and class differences arising from
Major international conglomerates including mining giant Anglo American
Corporation (Anglo) and soft-drinks heavyweight Coca-Cola Central Africa
have offloaded huge chunks of shares to various consortia in Zimbabwe.
Locally, blue-chip firms such as Delta Corporation Ltd, TA Holdings Ltd,
Zimbabwe Sun Ltd, and Haddon & Sly Ltd also allowed their shares to change
hands in a bid to concentrate on “core business”.
Insiders point out that this is healthy and normal in an unpredictable
economic environment such as that prevailing in Zimbabwe characterised by
hyperinflation, and foreign currency, electricity, and fuel shortages.
They say, however, because international conglomerates usually need the
go-ahead from the host government, it is easy for senior government
officials to quickly form consortia to snap up shareholding in such
Anglo disposed of shares worth $3,2 billion (US$3,9 million) in its gold
subsidiary, the company’s pyrite operation, Iron Duke Pyrites, as well as
the loss-making National Foods Holdings Ltd (Natfoods).
Anglo sold 21% of Natfoods to Takepart Investments (Pvt) Ltd, a company
owned by a consortium of indigenous businessmen who include prominent
Anglo also sold 52,9% in loss-making Bindura Nickel Corporation Ltd to
another consortium known as Mwana Africa Holdings (Pty) Ltd for US$8
million. Coca-Cola offloaded its Schweppes subsidiary, also to a consortium
of indigenous entrepreneurs.
Observers are quick to point out that while it is not a crime for cash-rich
individuals to move in whenever an opportunity arises, it becomes extremely
unfair when this is done at the expense of small entrepreneurs trying to
venture into business and eke out a living.
Since the introduction of indigenisation, political heavyweights and those
connected to them have flexed their muscles and wrestled away various
projects from small entrepreneurs to feather their own nests.
Of late a number of indigenous businessmen have bought shares on the
Zimbabwe Stock Exchange in a move described by observers as “cleaning money”
The observers say a number of businessmen who benefited from government loan
facilities over the past two years have used it for speculative purposes,
including buying shares on the ZSE.
There are also others who looted property and machinery from farms at the
height of farm invasions to amass wealth which is now being laundered on the
There was an uproar in parliament this year when the so-called $100 billion
fund for small-scale entrepreneurs set aside by Herbert Murerwa in his 2003
national budget was allegedly parcelled out to individuals with links to the
While Shuvai Mahofa, the deputy minister responsible for allocating the
money to deserving individuals, denied that there was favouritism in the
fund’s allocation, eyebrows were raised as to why the money was being
disbursed from Zanu PF offices where the “vetting” was also being conducted.
Zimbabwe’s indigenisation programme has been guided by various economic
recovery policies crafted by government almost every four years to tackle
the economic malaise.
These policies have included the Economic Structural Adjustment Programme
(Esap I and II) (1991-1995), Zimprest and the Millennium Budget announced on
October 21 1999, the Millennium Economic Recovery Programme (Merp), the
National Economic Recovery Programme (Nerp), as well as the latest National
Economic Revival Programme (Nerp).
Former Industry and International Trade minister Nkosana Moyo, before he
quit government, stirred a hornet’s nest when he said: “Divisions, party
political one-upmanship and any abuse of influence — be this by government,
the private sector, civil society, or by the labour movements — with regard
to commitment to and the implementation of these programmes, will only serve
to deepen the hole into which we — as a nation — have dug ourselves.”
Moyo said for Zimbabwe to stop sinking the country simply “needs to stop
The major opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which government
accuses of being “overly pessimistic”, says after 23 years of Zanu PF rule,
Zimbabweans are poorer now than they were in the early 1970s.
The MDC says the much talked about indigenisation and privatisation
programmes only benefit individuals aligned to Zanu PF and government.
The United Nations ranks Zimbabwe as one of only five countries in the world
whose Human Development Index is lower today than in 1980, when Zanu PF took
Government, on the other hand, continues to insist that the playing field is
even and its indigenisation programme a success. However, critics insist
that crony-capitalism has not broadened the economic base of the economy or
made a material contribution to recovery. Rather it has become part of the
Only man afraid of Bush is Mugabe
WHO’s afraid of the Big Bad Bush? Robert Mugabe it seems.
How else do we explain his repeated references to the US president’s visit
to our region this week?
Would a leader confident of his position feel the need to keep reassuring
his followers that he had nothing to fear from the visit? After all,
Zimbabwe had no oil, Mugabe reminded us — as if we needed any reminding!
There is of course always the jerrycan he brought back from Libya. What
happened to that?
Mugabe appears to think he has some control over Bush’s itinerary.
“If Mr Bush is coming to seek cooperation then he is welcome,” he told
villagers in Masvingo, “but if he is coming to dictate what we should do,
then we will say: ‘Go back home Yankee’.”
But Bush has been telling Mugabe what to do: Hold free and fair elections.
And he only went home when he was ready.
The days when Mugabe gave other leaders their marching orders have long
since passed. The only people who listen to him now are gullible rural folk.
Who — apart from Sunday Mail reporters — would swallow the fiction that
“government was working towards ending the relentless price hikes and the
prevailing acute shortage of both local bank notes and foreign currency to
bring immediate relief to the public”?
Why is Mugabe suddenly able to do that when he hasn’t been able to all year?
But we are pleased to hear that he now accepts the need for sitting
presidents to be brought before the International Court of Justice “to
answer charges of genocide”.
Needless to say, he wasn’t referring to his own case in Matabeleland but
those of President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair in Iraq. But we are
sure Mugabe wouldn’t want to be accused of gross double standards, so we are
delighted that he now accepts the need for all such accused persons to stand
The Sunday Mail’s political editor Munyaradzi Huni has again been fulfilling
his murky mandate as a presidential apologist. In a vain attempt to justify
Mugabe’s self-indulgent 1000% pay hike, he points out that salaries for
chief executives have doubled with most getting between $3 million and $10
million a month.
What he doesn’t say is that these salaries are performance-related. Can we
say the same for Mugabe?
How long would he survive as chairman of any self-respecting business board?
Can you imagine any chief executive lasting at the helm after driving his
company into the ground and pauperising its shareholders?
Huni has also been defending Zimbabwe’s participation in the Congo war. He
appears piqued that President Bush congratulated Thabo Mbeki for his role in
brokering a peace agreement in the DRC.
Doesn’t he know that Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia helped restore peace in
the DRC, Huni spluttered indignantly?
Apparently not! And another thing getting Huni’s goat is the fact that
President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal referred to Mugabe bending the electoral
rules in March 2002.
“There were many deaths,” Wade said. “Electoral laws were changed days
before the election. We can’t call that an election.”
“No one knows where President Wade was getting all this wrong information
from,” Huni complained, pointing a finger of suspicion at Bush.
But what appears to have irked Huni most is the fact that Wade addressed
Mugabe as “Mr Mugabe”. All other African leaders addressed him as “Cde
Mugabe”, Huni haughtily told us.
Really? Who does? Every reference by Thabo Mbeki has been to “Mr Mugabe”
according to our records. The same goes for other leaders, except perhaps
the Namibians and Angolans.
Is Olusegun Obasanjo likely to refer to “Cde Mugabe”? Somehow we don’t think
so. Nor Bakili Muluzi.
We feel sorry for the Editor of the Herald. There he was trying to brighten
up his Saturday edition and along comes Nathaniel Manheru dumping a whole
heap of garbage, called “The Other Side”, right in the middle of its
But not content with five columns of vitriolic diatribe, mostly directed at
the US/UK and rival media houses, the editor has now been obliged to make
room for another column on the same page, called “Out of the Haystack with
the Chatterbox”, which looks suspiciously like the same person offloading
stories that he was unable to squeeze into “The Other Side”. Letters to the
Editor were sacrificed to make room for Cde Haystack.
Henry Olonga, Reuters’ Stella Mapenzauswa, the Daily News and Muckraker all
came under fire last Saturday. And it looks as if there was more abuse lined
up which couldn’t be fitted because a heading which said “What damnable
nonsense” only advanced six lines before being cut off at the legs by an
over-zealous sub-editor. We never did discover what the “damnable nonsense”
was, apart of course from most of the column’s contents.
Can we expect a story this Saturday about a sub losing his head? And the
funny story we are served up each week about Mrs “Kainsterner” being a
Rhodie. Could there be some confusion here with Mrs (Chester) Crocker? Given
its obsession with Walter “Kainsterner” and “house nigger” Colin Powell,
Muckraker’s heading for Manheru’s next column would be “Uncle Tom’s Other
As for Manheru’s violent hostility to a transitional government, one can
only understand this in the context of the diehards around Mugabe who are
becoming as nervous as hell about their future prospects.
“Transitional governments always follow coups,” we are told. Those who are
calling for such a government seek the unconstitutional removal of President
Do they? What is to stop parliament approving such a government? And why is
Manheru obsessive about this prospect? The answer is obvious. His neck is on
the block and every week he squeals like a pig!
Anyone for pork?
‘I’m ready for presidency,” Vice-President Joseph Msika is quoted as saying
in last Saturday’s Herald. “If people choose me, I will have no option but
The problem is, nobody has chosen him. He has not been popularly elected to
his current post. And his prospects of election to anything are as dim as he
is. Will voters want somebody who called them “wretched dogs” during the
2002 campaign? Is he as tolerant or non-racist as he claims to be? Welshman
Mabhena might have a different view!
Whatever the case, can you imagine Zimbabwe led by Msika as president and
Didymus Mutasa as vice-president? What joke is the Herald going to play on
us this Saturday as it lines up more improbable contenders?
It is sad to see what the government’s propaganda department has been
reduced to in the way of editorial writers. The Herald this week carried a
leader-page article by Simon Atawenah who describes himself as “an African,
a researcher, and analyst of African affairs based in Washington DC”. But he
is evidently not much of a researcher or analyst. He attributes the “rider
and horse” analogy to Sir Roy Welensky who is described as “a British
colonial ruler”. And he evidently hasn’t been following the land reform
“Currently around 4 000…whites remain in Zimbabwe controlling 75% of the
land,” he confidently asserts. “This is in contrast with nearly 20 million
Zimbabweans who are left to scramble for survival on the remaining pieces of
arid and less productive land”.
What is remarkable about all this is that nobody in the commissioning
department came to his rescue. Rather like the “300 000” resettled farmers,
perhaps fiction is preferable to fact! (Mugabe, by the way, still thinks
there are 100 000 whites left in the country which shows how long he has
been on another planet.)
But we did like the picture of the last tourist in Masvingo. Accompanying an
article saying “heinous and rogue elements” had “badly tarnished” Zimbabwe’s
image “through corrosive acid aimed at portraying the country as lawless”,
the picture, taken over 60 years ago of an elderly bespectacled gentleman in
a pith helmet and several layers of clothing, propped up by a walking stick,
was a “flashback” to happier times when Masvingo used to attract this type
At least the Herald has now stopped pretending there is a tourism revival.
But it is pretending that the Warriors’ victory last Saturday had something
to do with land reform. A Form II cartoon by Innocent Mpofu showed a fan
jumping up and down shouting “after 23 years and foreign coaches, it’s
something to do with a homeboy and land reform”.
We can safely assume Nigeria’s success under Westerhof in 1994, Senegal
under a French coach last year, and Cameroon’s under a German coach were
entirely fortuitous? Did those countries have land reform programmes to
inspire them? Or were they simply professional teams?
We recall Zimbabwe failing to organise a major tournament in 2000 soon after
land reform commenced. Clearly it didn’t inspire its team or administrators
then. So long as management is the problem and politicians play offside, no
amount of land reform will help our lads score.
Chinondidyachii Mararike, Zanu PF apologist and regular columnist for the
state-owned press, found a bomb in his front garden in England last weekend,
the Herald reported. Without quite saying so, the Herald implied that there
were political motives behind the find, according to ZWNews.
“He is outspoken in his political views and makes clear his support for
Zimbabwe’s land reform programme and of President Mugabe’s anti-imperialist
stance,” said the Herald. “He has since written to the police demanding an
assurance about his safety and that of his family. He also sought an
explanation on how such a lethal weapon came to be in his garden.”
Mararike, who despite loud protestations of patriotism lives in Doncaster in
South Yorkshire, said the bomb disposal team had told him that the bomb was
big enough to destroy five houses — had it exploded. They were not
forthcoming with details, he claimed, adding to the air of conspiracy.
“It’s not information we can give out to people we do not know,” the police
were reported by the Herald as saying in a telephone interview. “We do not
know you and we are not sure that you are actually a journalist.”
But a spokesperson for the South Yorkshire Constabulary told ZWNews a
“We have no record of having received an enquiry from a reporter at the
Herald,” the spokesman said, “and I do not believe anyone in our press
office would speak to any member of the public in that manner. I can confirm
that a bomb disposal team was called to an address in Crooks Road, Doncaster
at 6:20 last Saturday. A cylinder, 35cm long and 10cm in diameter was
removed from that address. The bomb disposal officers were unable to
determine whether it was primed or not, so it was taken to open ground where
it was destroyed in a controlled explosion.”
Mararike can now rest easier in his bed. There was no MI5 conspiracy. Only
the German Luftwaffe a little off target 63 years ago.
A useful indication of the Herald’s grasp of current affairs could be found
in its statement on Wednesday that “efforts to contact US embassy
spokesperson Mr Bruce Wharton” over an MDC petition due to be handed in to
the embassy were “futile”.
This is hardly surprising. Wharton left the country at the end of May to
take up the post of deputy ambassador to Guatemala.
Hundreds attended his farewell party including many journalists. Didn’t
anybody tell the Herald?
Bank managers come under pressure
THE cash fiasco seems to have taken a new twist as bank chiefs allege they
are now being arm-twisted by political heavyweights needing money for their
financial obligations abroad.
Speaking on condition of anonymity fearing victimisation, some bank heads
confirmed that the money crisis was more serious than was being openly
admitted even by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).
The officials alleged that some ministers
were visiting bank heads seeking
foreign currency or local cash for their obligations at a time when the
country was facing serious shortages.
They said failure to comply was resulting in some of them
members of "the opposition".
opposition is the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
which government regularly accuses of sabotaging the economy in a bid to
topple President Robert Mugabe's 23-year-old rule.
The officials said representation
had been made to President Mugabe to
remove some banking heads deemed members of the opposition.
Several ministers have family members including
their children based in
first world countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom,
Australia and South Africa studying at prestigious universities.
Back home however the same ministers continuously give
the Western countries
regular tongue-lashings, accusing their governments of sabotaging Zimbabwe.
The ministers, who also operate offshore
accounts, are allegedly bullying
bank managers whenever it is time to pay up the fees for their offspring.
Zimbabwe is facing a foreign currency
shortage caused by low exports and
dwindling inflows from all sectors of the economy such as agriculture,
mining, tourism, as well as manufacturing.
The bankers said another worrying development on the
financial crisis was
that the RBZ was dishing out the same amount of funds to all commercial
banks yet their requirements differed.
that this scenario was leading to a scam within the banking
sector where some banks were now "selling" money to clients because their
allocation was more than they needed.
On the other hand, it was leading to bad blood
developing between some
leading banks and their top clients who required large sums of money
especially for wages at monthends.
said the cash crisis was being further worsened by the fact that
Fidelity Printers and Refiners (Pvt) Ltd, an RBZ subsidiary, were
experiencing nightmares trying to print money for the financial sector.
promised to inject $24 billion into the collapsing financial sector
but this was proving extremely difficult because the Zimbabwe Electricity
Supply Authority (Zesa) was introducing loadshedding in Msasa, regularly
disrupting operations at the mill.
A Fidelity official yesterday confirmed that
load shedding had been on and
off in Msasa, including at the printing firm, and this had led to stoppages
to the print run.
load shedding because suppliers were reducing supplies to
Zimbabwe citing the country's failure to make timely payments to them.
Cahora Bassa (HCB)'s supplies were curtailed from 400
megawatts to 250 megawatts for peak period.
The company has also given notice to
terminate its supply contract unless a
payment plan is put in place.
South Africa's Eskom now demands advance payment for their
power and have
classified Zesa an interruptible customer due to payment problems.
Eskom is now charging a 12% penalty per month for defaulting on payments.
"We have had load shedding, but the last time was about a
week ago," the
Fidelity official said. "However, I think arrangements have now been made
whereby we are being spared by Zesa because of the serious need for money."
Zesa is facing problems paying its US$109,7 million
arrears to South
Africa's Eskom (US$11 million), HCB (US$22 million), Zambia's Zesco (US$4
million), and the Democratic Republic of the Congo's Snel (US$5 million).
Death knell for tobacco
ZIMBABWE'S foreign currency woes are set to worsen with revelations this
week that tobacco - the golden crop - won't chalk up the billions normally
expected for the country's coffers.
In fact, bankers pointed out, this could be the last major harvest from
commercial farmers because the crop being delivered to the auction floors
was grown during the previous farming season - before the land was parcelled
out to new farmers by government.
commercial farmers who grew the tobacco have now been served with
Section 8 Notices, ejecting them from the land.
"Most of the crop that is
currently being delivered to the auction floors
was grown by commercial farmers before they were served with Section 8
Notices," said a banker. "We definitely will witness less tobacco being
delivered to the auction floors next year when another season begins.
Tobacco is very expensive to grow and commercial banks are very cautious
about loans to that sector right now."
The banking sector has reduced lending to agriculture, citing
its high risk
because of the uncertainty surrounding ownership of the commercial farms.
On the other hand, some new farmers allocated
tobacco-growing farms have
decided to diversify into maize production, with the blessing of President
Mugabe has addressed
several rallies urging farmers not to abandon maize
production in order to feed the nation.
In its report for June 2003 released this week, the
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) said as of May 30, cumulative tobacco sales amounted to 7,7 million
kilogrammes, at an average price of US$1,87 per kilogramme.
The RBZ said this compared to 15,6 million kg sold at the
same average price
of US$1,82 per kilogramme, during the corresponding period last year.
Tobacco is Zimbabwe's largest foreign currency earner but
less earnings are
expected this year due to fewer deliveries to the Tobacco Sales Floors, the
Zimbabwe Tobacco Auction Company and the Burley Marketing Zimbabwe Floors.
Last week tobacco heavyweight firm, Tobacco Sales
Ltd (TSL) said urgent
attempts needed to be made to revitalise tobacco production over the next
The company said latest
estimates of this year's tobacco crop indicated a
volume of approximately 80 million kilogrammes, less than half of last
"The prospects for next year's crop are similarly poor,"
TSL said. "However,
TSL is pursuing strategies to stimulate tobacco production. A successful
outcome will obviously have a major beneficial impact on the fortunes of
many group companies."
Bankers said they
were astounded by "impressive tobacco figures" being
thrown around by government when the situation on the ground pointed to
dwindling production levels.
They said the tobacco issue could be likened to that of maize
Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Joseph Made assured
the nation that he had taken a flight and saw large tracts of land with lots
This, however, proved to be untrue and the
nation is currently importing
maize from neighbouring countries such as South Africa and Zambia.
Insiders said on the back of constraints such as
inhibitive input costs and inadequate financial resources for infrastructure
development and working capital, agricultural production was expected to
remain well below normal levels in 2003.
Last year agricultural production declined by an estimated 25%.
We are surviving by the grace of God
THE executive in senile Mugabe, the arm-twisted judiciary and the belittled
and mesmerised legislature are all in a terrible muddle.
Mugabe is however not at all at the helm now but rather at the fiery hottest
and deepest end of it all.
It does look like his
flock of cronies is not at all prepared to rescue him
but is only interested in feathering its nests.
My own analysis of the Zanu PF fiasco of
breeding lawlessness meant partly
to ease their land-grabbing, as their greed surpasses imagined heights, is
that it leaves us with but one sound resolve - that of gleefully watching
the moribund Zanu PF monster crumble into oblivion as predicted by none
other than "Johnny The Moyo" about a decade or so back. It is all unfolding
and no-one will bail them out this time round.
As a poor but typically resilient teacher, for some good old
family today survive by the grace of the Lord, unamused by my
presidentially-publicised civil service salary to be effected in July which
rampant inflation will have eroded then, leaving the poor fiscus void.
Zimbabweans should have nothing to fear anymore but God, for
that which we
feared most in this land is just on the verge of self-termination.
My conviction is that expressed by US Secretary of
State Colin Powell
(surprisingly somewhat clearly quoted in the Herald, June 26), that Zimbabwe
will take its place among the progressive states, but if and only if the
people of this land have spoken through democratically transparent means -
the ballot. It can not be long from now.
Land of plenty reduced to desert
NEARLY 35 years ago I stood on the north bank of the Zambezi looking
enviously at the land to the south. I saw a land of plenty with law and
order regulated by what was reckoned to be the best police force in the
There was fuel, albeit rationed, work, electricity, food for all, and
primarily no corruption.
I entered this Shangri-La in
1970 intending to work, pay my taxes, prosper
and see my days out.
In 1980 Independence came along and thanks to a then perceived
government, life improved and the majority of Zimbabweans prospered. A new
enigma for Africa. Opportunity for all despite the Marxist-Leninist doctrine
which thankfully was only half-heartedly embraced.
There were a few hiccups such as Willowgate scandal which
was dealt with in
the legal framework and the world looked upon us as a new example for
Africa. Apartheid still reared its ugly head but we overcame that and
business flourished, farmers were given letters of no interest, crime was
relatively low, work was available, salaries were equitable to the cost of
living and we were happy.
Unknown to most of us, clouds were
gathering on the horizon. Government was
living beyond its means, chefs were ageing but were not wealthy enough, and
the unenfranchised wanted businesses. But except for a few, they had not the
gumption, know-how or patience to start from scratch despite government
population was under 15 and would require jobs and pressure was
mounting. Panic and fighting fires instead of order and planning became the
order of the day.
However, more serious problems were about and two
devastating diseases: Aids
and corruption were about to take their toll, followed closely by a
catastrophic wake-up call to the hierachy, the constitutional referendum.
The chefs who had paid little heed to
their people discovered their
vulnerability and massed their war machine against the very people who had
entrusted them with their well-being. The rest is for the historians to
I now stand on the south bank
of the Zambezi looking enviously north. Our
deposed farmers have promised us food and our tourists flock there.
Electricity, fuel and living necessities are available and in abundance.
Too old to start again, I
sit in the sunshine (something the government are
unable to regulate), my pension diminishing by the hour wondering how I
could have been so deceived.
Hoax and fantasy - from land to bank notes
By Michael Hartnack
FOR 25 years, while Zimbabwe sank into its present mess, the true nature of
Robert Mugabe's Zanu PF party was ignored. Gross human rights abuses in the
party began even before Independence in 1980, and since then Zanu PF has
used the rhetoric of socialism and black empowerment to gain control, for
the party, of the entire economy.
The aim is simple - to make it impossible for an independent-minded person
to hold any job from street sweeper to chief justice.
It was not until 1998 that the
Western diplomatic world was forced to face
the fact that, in Zanu PF, it was dealing with a political entity that was
something between a con-artist and a pathological fantasist. At a specially
convened conference in Harare, the Zimbabwean government accepted a UN
Development Programme plan for reviving land redistribution, backed by
Western funding. The agreement, freely signed by Mugabe's government,
recognised that the main cost of successful reform was providing
infrastructure for incoming settlers, not compensating the departing white
Mugabe's administration also
implicitly conceded that efforts since 1980,
which had received £47 million, had faltered due to diversion to the urban
elite of land bought by donors for the rural poor. However, Zanu PF, in
tones of passionate sincerity, continues to tell the world that Britain
"reneged on 1980 promises to support land reform"- and many, especially in
South Africa, still unthinkingly accept this.
Again, apologists accept Zanu PF information secretary Nathan
claim, repeated last week, that Zimbabwe's shortages and rapidly
accelerating inflation arise from American, British and European Union
"sanctions". The fact is that Western agencies, the United States and
Britain, are pouring food and other humanitarian aid into the country.
Only the foreign bank accounts of the political elite have been frozen,
together with their right to travel. The "sanctions" alibi is thus a
downright fraud. The latest deliberate official hoax was a warning issued
through the state-run media that the largest denomination bank-note - $500 -
was being withdrawn from circulation ahead of the release of new $1 000 and
$10 000 notes. The public was urged to surrender $500 notes before they
ceased to be legal tender.
Bank notes, especially $500 ones,
have been in desperately short supply
since May as the regime ran out of imported paper and ink to produce
sufficient to keep up with runaway inflation. Many banks have limited
clients to withdrawing $10 000 (10 loaves of bread, in real terms), and riot
police were called to control angry people who waited all day, vainly hoping
to cash their June pay cheques.
Bank executives went to the back doors of supermarkets
pleading to "buy"
their cash takings for more than the face value. In other words, even money
is being traded on the black market. The $500 hoax was perpetrated, with
complicity of the state media, just as the presses were printing the first
$4 billion of $24 billion in new $500 notes.
The prosecution of retired High Court judge Fergus Blackie was
criminal fraud, finally exposed last week. Last September, police snatched
the 65-year-old jurist from his Harare home in the early hours and forced
him to spend three nights in a filthy cell. The pretext was a spurious
charge that he showed racial bias in upholding a white woman's appeal
against a year-long prison sentence for theft.
motive was revenge. Lies were invented that the judge had an
affair with the woman (whom he had never met, and who was not in court when
her appeal was argued). These allegations were contained in a remand docket
which was leaked to the state-controlled media. The charges, withdrawn last
week in the presence of international observers, were utterly without
substance. The persecution of the retired judge was as unlawful and
unconstitutional as the three-year state-sponsored reign of terror which has
claimed the lives of at least 200 opposition supporters.
Ex-policemen who have fled to
Britain have started telling newspapers there
how they were ordered to pervert evidence to make victims look like
criminals. In much the same vein, the state media last week claimed that US
Secretary of State Colin Powell's article on the Zimbabwean crisis, printed
in the New York Times ahead of President Bush's African trip this week, was
written by Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Walter Kansteiner "to
protect white farmers". As well as carrying a tirade of racial abuse against
Powell, the state media also alleged that Kansteiner's wife was "a Rhodesian
with links to the notorious Selous Scouts". This fabrication may have been
inspired by some vague memory that Chester Crocker, Kansteiner's predecessor
in the post from 1981 to 1989, is married to a member of the well-respected
Baron family of Bulawayo lawyers. - ZWNews.
l Michael hartnack is a veteran Zimbabwean journalist and foreign
Purpose of Bush's visit deliberately distorted
By Obediah Mazombwe
GOVERNMENT-OWNED media have gone full throttle to discredit US president
George Bush's trip to Africa this week as an imperialist foray into African
affairs. George Bush and Tony Blair are perceived as post-modern imperialist
ogres on a mission to bring Africa and its resources under Western control.
This perception defies all logic and is refuted by American and British
actions on the ground in relation to the state in which Africa is today.
Most of sub-Saharan Africa outside South Africa
constitutes a politically
and economically "dying" continent, with calamitous levels of poverty and
human suffering, accompanied by political and economic repression of the
powerless by the ruling elite.
Zimbabwe are already in free fall. All that powerful
industrial nations like the US and Britain would need to do, if they really
had grand imperialist and neo-colonialist designs on them, is simply to be
as indecisive as institutions like the United Nations and the African Union.
Simply sit back and do nothing.
Left to their own designs in total "sovereignty",
most of these African
states will simply self-destruct. All the imperialists would need to do then
is move in and reconstruct the countries in the Western image. Or they could
just sit back and let Africa's inter-party, inter-tribal, and cross-border
wars decimate millions whilst famine and disease mop up the rest.
One does not want to sound like an apologist
for the West. The West is far
from perfect and, in my opinion, there remains a significant imperialist and
hegemonic streak in their outlook. But they are increasingly aware of the
contradictions in their stances and are confronting these, struggling with
them and agonising over them continuously.
Tony Blair's "scar on the conscience of the world"
speech represents real
soul-searching rather than a trick to "con", let alone force, Africa into
some subservient position to the West. Too many African countries are
already over-dependent on the benevolence of Western countries for their
survival in spite of their grandstanding and theatrics at various
Many Africanists and other watchers
had expressed the fear that since the US
was tied up in Iraq and the Middle East, it would not devote much attention
and resources to Africa.
It is indeed remarkable, as President Festus Mogae of
Botswana has noted,
that even as America is under threat in Iraq, with American soldiers coming
under attack almost daily, the US president has still taken time to attend
to African issues. Indeed, the UN, with Ecowas' urging, has requested that
the US leads any UN peace-keeping forces in Liberia.
George Bush has made clear his government's position on
problems faced by
Zimbabwe, Sudan, the DRC and Liberia. It is serious business when an
American president commits his country to a war situation. He has to justify
the war not only to Congress, but to the general public. He has to justify
it, not only before commitment, but literally every day during engagement.
The death of every single American soldier sends shock waves throughout the
establishment. This is a far cry from what obtains in some African
Here the president can simply wake up one morning and order the army into
some multi-billion dollar war in a foreign country. Worse still, the
president can declare war against his own people and send the national army
It is critical that Africa views
the Bush visit in its fullest context.
There is nothing wrong with African analysts pointing out whatever hegemonic
undertones they might reasonably read in the visit. This trip is part of a
radical change in America's approach to foreign relations and Africa needs
to take note.
objective reading of on-going processes and the internal dynamics at
major Western think-tanks and strategy centres like the British Foreign
Policy Centre and the US Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,
particularly in the post-September 11 era, will be educative to Africanists.
It reveals an eagerness on the part of some Western thinkers to re-order the
world for the benefit of all humanity.
Most inspiring is Tony Blair's persistent
theme that Western approaches to
international relations should no longer be exclusively determined by narrow
Western national interests, but should take into account broader human
interests in a rapidly globalising world.
This new Anglo-American interest, and its associated
"reordering" the world is a fact. The question is how, we, as thinking
Africans, should interpret it.
Rather than being an
imperialist trick, it is, hopefully, a new realisation
by the West of the commonality of all humanity, compelling a more
humanitarian approach to global management. At worst it can simply be a
realisation by the US and the UK, following September 11, that Western
national interests can only be assured by addressing the interests and
security of all humanity.
Whether the motive is humanitarian or realpolitik, it is
African think tanks, where these may exist, constructively engage with the
African governments, in spite of
their sharp differences with the West,
should still constructively engage with the US and the UK. There is
something sinister in some African governments' insistence that current
Western interests regarding Africa are all imperialist and ill-intended.
Certainly the notion that "only
Africans can resolve African problems", or
"only Zimbabweans have the solution to their problems" are only correct to
the extent that they mean Africans must be an active part of any workable
solutions to their problems. It is not sustainable beyond that point in much
of sub-Saharan Africa in its current state.
It is a fact that the modern nation state that
Zimbabwe aspires to be is
modelled on a concept that has its origins in the West.
Paradoxically the African ruling elite, particularly
Zimbabwe's, in spite of
their constant vilification of the West, simply adore things Western. Many
Zimbabwean government officials' children have studied or are studying in
the US or in the UK.
There are two fundamental
truths regarding the African and the Zimbabwean
The first is that our rulers' psyche is "sick". It suffers
corruption, from an insatiable lust for personal political and economic
power, from an amazing preparedness to inflict immeasurable pain on fellow
Zimbabweans who stand in their rulers' way to personal gain.
The second is that countries like Zimbabwe cannot improve the
standards of their people in the way that such improvement is understood
today without the cooperation and partnership of developed, industrialised
Western countries like the United Kingdom and the United States.
It is in this context that Zimbabweans should view George
Bush's visit to
Africa. His insistence on good governance and the observance of Zimbabwean
citizens' human rights should all be seen in this context. Even his call for
regime change through a process in which Zimbabweans (not Americans or
anybody else) select their rulers in a free and fair election should be seen
in the light of the above.
l Dr Obediah Mazombwe is
a lecturer in languages, literature and media
studies at Zimbabwe Open University.
Government has no shortage of scapegoats
AS is known to all, Zimbabwe is a country which by now is possessed of very
little other than shortages. Petroleum products have been in short supply
for more than six months, notwithstanding that when they first occurred
government tried to convince the populace that the scarcity of fuel was of a
very temporary nature, and that the situation had been occasioned by the
malevolent acts of others, in no manner related to government’s management
of the economy.
Basic foodstuffs, essential for the nation’s wellbeing, are in short supply.
Virtually the only maize meal in the country is that provided by
humanitarian food aid programmes which, despite the very considerable
generosity of donors, at the very best meets half the minimum needs of the
populace. Similarly, bread supply is very limited. Of course, government
claimed that it was in no manner responsible for the national food distress.
First it attributed the shortages to the malicious failure of the white
farming community to deliver crops to the Grain Marketing Board. Government
did not explain how it would have been possible for white farmers to do so
when they had been forcibly evicted from their farms, in some instances
before crops could be planted, and in other instances before the crops could
Of course, white farmers had demonstrated themselves — over more than a
hundred years — to be so innovative, constructive and productive that mere
forced eviction should not have precluded their providing for the nation’s
food requirements! When the allegations against the white farmers proved to
be devoid of credibility, government changed its tune. The lack of food
production was due to the drought conditions which had afflicted Zimbabwe!
When it was brought to government’s attention that much of Zimbabwe had such
extensive water storage resources through a widespread network of dams,
that, therefore, many farming districts could have grown the maize and wheat
needed to feed Zimbabwe, it once again sought to escape culpability by
accusing the former white farmers of victimising the nation by removing
their irrigation equipment. That the farmers had been deprived of almost all
they possessed, and that most of them had to realise their few remaining
assets, including irrigation equipment, to pay retrenchment packages to
workers, legislated after their farms had been taken from them, was
irrelevant. Once again they were held to be responsible for the nation’s
However, when government was — with the effluxion of time — criticised for
not having resolved the alleged non-availability of irrigation equipment and
of agricultural inputs and thereby causing inadequate food production, it
responded that there had been more than adequate production but that
white-owned companies had acquired vast quantities of maize meal and flour
and were guilty of hoarding it. Once this was proven to be spurious,
government reluctantly acknowledged the inadequate volumes of production,
but subtly implied that the scarcity was only a transition syndrome, soon to
be remedied by massive escalations in GMB prices and by state provisions of
inputs (yet to be evidenced to any material extent on the part of
Presumably, as the next season approaches, the president, the Minister of
Land, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement and others are mouthing daily
prayers for another drought to absolve themselves of any blame.
Sugar, too, is in short supply. That this was in part the result of
irrational price controls only recently removed, and to a major extent
because of state-driven expropriation of sugar fields for the production of
minimal quantities of winter maize was irrelevant. So too was the fact that
much of Zimbabwean sugar was being purchased by known members of the ruling
party at the controlled prices, for illicit export. No, according to the
state propaganda machine the scarcities were due to deliberate withholding
of supplies by traders to force revision of prices and due to hoarding by
When this soon lost its credibility, the propaganda machine crawled into a
shell of silence to ponder upon whom next to blame.
The most recent shortage has been that of $500 bank notes. All rational
persons accepted the credibility of the Reserve Bank explanation that market
requirements for the notes had increased as a direct result of rampant
hyperinflation which is by now Zimbabwe’s most unique characteristic,
compounded by the cash requirements of black market currency traders, and
exacerbated by the inability of the Reserve Bank to print the bank notes,
although it had planned to do so. Immediately, the Reserve Bank and its
governor received unfettered abuse from government and the more vociferous
members of Zanu PF. They castigated the governor (who was indisputably the
best Zimbabwe had had since Independence) for allowing the crisis to occur.
The fact that the crisis was not of the making of the Reserve Bank and its
governor was of no import. Someone had to be blamed, and who better to blame
than the evil Reserve Bank and its governor.
The fact that the Reserve Bank was unable to print the needed bank notes
because government had directed that all available foreign currency be used
to fund imports of fuel, food and energy, and pay presidential travel costs,
instead of payment for security bank note paper and inks was irrelevant.
Someone had to be blamed, and the Reserve Bank was a prime and credible
target, as it was the responsible authority for the provision of bank notes
even if government had usurped that authority with its ongoing reluctance to
provide the central bank with the autonomy and independence necessary for
effective monetary policy management.
However, after government had manipulated a premature, two-month ahead of
schedule departure of a very capable governor, the bank note shortage not
only continued, but intensified. Government was faced with a critical
situation. Its unfounded attacks upon the Reserve Bank and Dr Leonard Tsumba
were proved to be bogus. In fear that the truth may be exposed, showing the
culprit to be government itself through its shambolic handling of the
economy and its devious manipulation of monetary policies, a new target for
blame was urgently required. Having had many years of experience at creating
mythical targets to be accused of anything that would otherwise be directed
at government, the Minister of Fiction, Fable and Myth and his propaganda
infrastructure had no difficulty in exposing a new, supposed cause of the
bank note crisis.
Disregarding all its previous allegations against the Reserve Bank, the
state media proclaimed that the massive shortages of bank notes was due to
“some large companies and corporations hoarding cash”. The state’s
television screened pictures of bank notes in the custody of security
companies, ignoring that it is normal practice for major retailers to use
such companies to convey their cash from their many branches to their
bankers and, pending banking, to hold the cash in a secure environment.
The necessity for such security has increased as Zimbabwe has steadily
fallen prey to increased lawlessness, with the state unable or unwilling to
enforce law and order.
Other businesses have increased their holdings of cash substantially. They
have not done so for untoward reasons, but in recognition of the potential
non-availability from the banks of the cash when required to pay wages or
for other normal business purposes. But because of the cash shortage crisis
and its repercussions upon the economy and upon all sectors of the populace,
this is not acceptable to the authorities.
Although there is no law directing the banking of cash or release of cash
into the economy, and although the accumulation of cash has been driven by
sound business strategies to address the consequences of bank note
shortages, those in power blame commerce and industry because they need to
blame someone to divert attention from themselves.
Only last week the chairman of the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on
Budget, Finance and Economic Development, David Chapfika called for a review
of laws governing the circulation of money, saying: “It is preposterous that
companies should be hoarding cash at a time when there is such a shortage.
That is an act of sabotage … if someone is keeping the money for purposes of
sabotaging the economy, then I think there is need for legislation to deal
This is sheer paranoia. Those holding cash do not do so to sabotage the
economy, but to assure their own continuing operations and address the needs
of their employees. Government needs to recognise and address causes, and
not symptoms. It needs to achieve economic recovery, in which even shortages
will become history instead of the over-riding feature of daily life.