HARARE - Living in
the Zimbabwean capital Harare is getting harder as weary residents battle
with frequent power cuts, water shortages and the ever-rising prices of basic
Harare once boasted the nickname "Sunshine City" but in the depths
of a Zimbabwean winter, it's looking less and less that way for all
residents, regardless of their income levels.
Last week the state-run
power utility, the Zimbabwe Electricity Supply Authority (ZESA) announced it
was introducing power cuts at peak periods due to increased demand from the
cold weather and Zimbabwe's inability to find additional sources for power
imports from outside the country.
Zimbabwe imports 30% of its power, much
of it from neighbouring South Africa, but has in the recent past reportedly
had problems settling its bills.
Coinciding with the power cuts, ZESA
has started broadcasting adverts every half hour on state radio, proclaiming
"ZESA: power to the people."
"While we sit in the dark with candles
waiting for the power to come back on and women stream out of the bush with
firewood on their heads because they can't afford electricity, the jingles go
on and on and on," says Zimbabwe writer Cathy Buckle in her weekly
In several suburbs of the capital, streetlamps and
house-lights flicker off at 6 pm at night -- to be restored three hours
There are also cuts scheduled for three hours in the
"It's every night," moans one elderly resident of the
relatively well-heeled Avondale suburb, near Harare's main
"It was Thursday, Friday and then again at half-past six on
Saturday," she complains. She adds that she keeps her bath "half-full" to be
ready for water cuts - usually advertised in the state-run Herald newspaper
and on public radio.
In June some suburbs had no water for almost
three weeks. The authorities blamed pump failures at the ageing Morton
Jaffray water plant, as well as a lack of crucial aluminium sulphate used to
treat the water.
A so-called "water demand management system" was brought
in: this meant cutting off supplies to other suburbs for 24-hour
Harare's opposition-led city council says it does not have the
funds to maintain infrastructure. But efforts to hike rates have been blocked
by Local Government Minister Ignatius Chombo, who has also dismissed
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Mayor Elias Mudzuri.
A member of
President Robert Mugabe's ruling party, Chombo last month declared previously
approved increases "unjustified" and ordered a freeze.
The Harare city
council has only held two meetings in the past six months, says Jameson
Gadzirai of the Combined Harare Residents Association, leaving residents
concerned that civic governance is being frustrated by
"What the residents are feeling now is that council
decisions are not being implemented because of a broader agenda being pushed
by the (local government) ministry," Gadzirai told AFP.
other concerns. Public hospitals in the city are faring badly.
The privately-owned Standard reported this month that corpses at
Harare's Central Hospital were being rolled down the stairs from wards to
the mortuary because there was no money to repair the lifts.
delivery has been one of the biggest casualties of Zimbabwe's four-year old
economic downturn. Cases of kwashiorkor - a sometimes fatal illness usually
associated with times of war and famine - have resurfaced.
At least 621
were treated last year in the city's clinics, according to a report by the
council's director of health, Lovemore Mbengeranwa.
Price hikes too are a
worry. Although inflation rates have fallen, from more than 600% at the end
of last year to just below 400%, prices of foodstuffs and many basic goods
continue to rise.
Faced with an outcry, the country's energetic Reserve
Bank Governor Gideon Gono last week said that "the thinking that prices ought
to come down because inflation is coming down is fallacious", the state-run
ZIANA agency reported.
Gono told the conference that prices should
still be going up by about 6%.
But his figures do not square with prices
on shop shelves: bread has more than doubled in two months from around 1,200
Zimbabwe dollars (25 cents) a loaf to 2,900 (50 cents).
queues resurfaced last week. A wearying fact of life for many Zimbabwean
drivers over the past three years, the queues seemed to have disappeared
after the authorities removed price controls.
State radio said last
week's queues were due to "logistical" problems in fuel
Government battles to keep Airzim, NRZ
Business Reporter THE Ministry of Transport and
Communications is battling to keep Air Zimbabwe and the National Railways of
In a presentation to the business leaders made at
the recent congress of the Zimbabwe National Chamber of Commerce, the
Minister of Transport and Communications, Mr Chris Mushowe, talked of the
numerous challenges facing his ministry.
"Rail plays a pivotal role in
economic growth and more importantly economic development," Mr Mushowe
Rail transport has a number of advantages over the other modes of
transport and these include its bulk carriage capacity, decongesting roads
and lower service costs.
Mr Mushowe did not mince his words when he
talked of NRZ's dismal failure to execute its mandate.
"The NRZ has
failed to contribute effectively to economic growth as a result of poor
management, infrastructure and locomotive constraints.
infrastructure such as rail tracks, signalling and
telecommunications equipment has deteriorated to unprecedented levels mainly
due to vandalism, theft and maintenance backlog."
All these have
contributed to a far less than satisfactory service delivery by the national
"The tonnage moved per annum declined from 8,84 million in
2001 to 5,76 million in 2003.
"Over and above, the failure to support
industry, the quality of service has deteriorated with significant increase
in the frequency of accidents and delays in transit," Mr Mushowe
"The NRZ and Air Zimbabwe are dead," he added.
seen a downturn in both the number of aircraft and passengers into and out of
the country and this, the minister said, is a direct result of poor
Figures provided by the ministry show that the number of
flights has declined 55 percent since 1999 and the number of passengers into
and out of the country by 58 percent.
"The national airline has also
suffered a decline in market share from 50 percent at the end of 1999 to an
average of 24 percent to date. Air Zimbabwe continues to underperform as a
result of operating loss-making routes, use of wrong type of aircraft on some
routes and a huge debt overhang," Mr Mushowe said.
In light of all
these challenges the ministry recently unveiled a strategic road-map for the
sectors under its purview.
"The road-map recognises that most of the
public enterprises under my Ministry are under distress due to poor
management and that recovery of these companies depends upon an urgent
implementation of an appropriate rescue plan or turnaround strategy," the
Minister said. The turnaround strategy, which is already under
implementation, focuses on a number of things.
It addresses the
fundamental problems bedevilling public enterprises, resolving underlying
causes rather than symptoms.
"The ultimate aim of the turnaround strategy
is to re-align our companies and departments for efficient, effective and
predictable service delivery," Mr Mushowe said.
They have lost their youth, but gained enough
wealth to buy the company of many young consorts. These "sugar daddies" of
sub-Sahara African are a hot topic with researchers trying to explain the
region's alarmingly high HIV rates for teenage girls.
experts believe that dangerous liaisons between married, middle-aged men and
their clandestine lovers aged 14 to 20 are partly why teenage girls in
southern Africa are five times more likely to be HIV-infected than teenage
The girls and men in these typically brief affairs open up huge
networks of infection, Aids experts say.
"Young girls who are looking
for support are taking on sugar daddies who are HIV infected. Girls as young
as 10 are getting infected," Kay Roberts of Washington-based Population
Services International told a symposium at the six-day International Aids
Conference in Thailand.
It remains unclear how closely the infection
rates are tied to cross-generational sex, or even how prevalent the "sugar
daddy" phenomenon really is.
Some researchers suggest that high
infection rates among young women have more to do with their sexual anatomy
being more susceptible to abrasions that can allow HIV to enter the
These older men don't like condoms and prefer the younger women
partly on the belief they'll be "pure," or not infected with HIV, but also to
gain "status" among friends, according to surveys of both men and teenage
girls in Kenya, Uganda and South Africa by PSI researcher John
The girls often believe that older married men won't be HIV
infected, assuming they've been faithful to their wives, the survey
The "sugar daddies" are defined as at least 10 years older than
their partners, and the girls surveyed were 14-20. The men sometimes go out
with the girls socially but only with other men doing the same, and
the relationships otherwise are kept mostly hidden, Berman said.
relationships typically end in a matter of weeks or months when the man loses
interests. Both men and girls interviewed for Berman's survey spoke
of possible reprisals - such as rape - if the girls sought to end
In return for these liaisons, girls get money they
sometimes spend on necessities such as schoolbooks or food, but also on
luxuries like "trendy clothing, cell phones, hairstyles," Berman
"The trick is to get as much money as you can first, before you
have sex, because he might run away," Berman quoted one teenage girl in Kenya
Mercy Amba Oduyoye, director of the Institute of Women,
Religion, and Culture in Ghana, said the problem stems from societies
dominated by males, and that the girls are coerced - even if they're getting
"Defiling a minor can hardly be consensual," she
Oduyoye said it's important to enlist men of stature within
sub-Saharan communities, including the clergy, to spread the message that
preying on young women is immoral.
In Uganda, Twedese Lukandema of PSI
is spearheading a program to tackle cross-generational sex by boosting the
esteem of girls and teaching them more about their bodies and how HIV
British statistician Simon Gregson has devised some rudimentary
mathematical models to estimate the effects of cross-generational sex on a
country's HIV prevalence, finding that curbing the phenomenon would tend to
bring down transmissions.
In theory, if people limited sex partners
only to people exactly their age, all the world's sexually transmitted
diseases would end after the latest infected generation dies.
would never happen in reality, Gregson notes, and he displayed for conference
delegates a graph showing that even small deviations from this ideal can keep
an epidemic flourishing.
"Large HIV epidemics can occur even with low
levels of cross-generational sex," Gregson told the symposium.
of 1,313 men recruited at beer halls in Harare, Zimbabwe - not necessarily a
representative sample - looked at how many of them were married but had
liaisons with teenage girls at least 10 years younger. Interviews found that
6.5% of them did.
"Although data in this report are limited to beer hall
patrons, the prevalence of sugar daddies appears lower than popular
perception contends," says the report spearheaded by Sheila Jain of the San
Francisco Department of Health and presented to the Aids Conference this
"Prevention efforts addressing the age gap should be based
on epidemiological data and not on myths or misconceptions."
PRESSURE is inexorably
rising on the increasingly ostracised Zimbabwe government to overhaul the
country's electoral process in line with regional norms and standards,
following the drafting of a revised set of regulations by the Southern
African Development Community (SADC), to be considered at next month's summit
to be held in Mauritius.
The revised principles and guidelines
governing democratic elections among SADC's 14 member states is seen as
specifically designed to force Zimbabwe to adhere to regional norms and
standards when conducting elections, which have been tainted by procedural
and legal irregularities.
The new guidelines come in the wake of a
chorus of angry voices from the opposition and civic groups accusing
President Robert Mugabe's government of taking advantage of flawed electoral
procedures to rig successive parliamentary and presidential
It has been charged that the most powerful weapon that
the government, which has been using the power of incumbency, has is deceit.
Independent observers in the last presidential election claim that the
voters' roll had in excess of 800 000 dead people registered as voters while
700 000 were not known at the addresses under which they were
The new principles and guidelines, to be tabled at the
heads of state and government summit in Mauritius, come against the back
cloth of largely sterile diplomatic manoeuvres by South African President
Thabo Mbeki to break the political impasse in the southern African
Mbeki has been at the centre of the delicate arbitration
between Zimbabwe's feuding political parties, the Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) and the ruling ZANU PF. His efforts have however so far drawn a
blank although he is still in touch with both parties which he continues to
meet regularly for consultations.
African states and
institutions, which previously steadfastly refused to censure Zimbabwe for
the deteriorating political and economic situation, have, in recent months,
brought pressure to bear on Harare.
Only last week, Zimbabwean
government officials made frantic efforts to avert the adoption by the
African Union (AU) heads of state and government of a damaging report on
human rights violations, prepared by the AU's Commission on Human and
People's Rights (ACHPR) and circulated in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Although the government has, in recent weeks, proposed changes to
the country's electoral laws which currently favour the ruling ZANU
PF, opposition groups and critics have argued that these were insufficient
as they focused primarily on the monitoring of elections, not the
While the proposed changes, which were approved
by the ZANU PF politburo, will mean, among other things, that voting will be
conducted in one day and that translucent ballot boxes will be used, they do
not address fundamental issues such as equal access to public media by all
parties. The ruling party has maintained an iron grip on the state media to
the exclusion of all dissenting voices.
However, the SADC draft,
which was produced on June 9, is expected to stir a lot of debate at the
Mauritius summit, which opens on August 9 and ends on August 17, as it seeks
to address some of these contentious issues.
Political analysts and
opposition political parties that have perused the draft proposals were
yesterday adamant the measures were part of diplomatic tactics being employed
by SADC heads of states, disappointed by the unresolved political crisis in
Zimbabwe, to nudge President Robert Mugabe to return the country to
"It is a way of trying to solve Zimbabwe's political
crisis by using SADC. Heads of state in SADC have failed using other avenues.
Now they are using the principles and guidelines governing democratic
elections as a way of forcing President Mugabe to at least ensure free and
fair elections," said a diplomat.
"President Mbeki has failed
dismally with his quiet diplomacy. It is thought that he has found a way to
short-circuit the process of solving Zimbabwe's problems. Maybe if there are
free and fair elections whose outcome is accepted by everyone, including the
opposition, the problem will disappear," added the diplomat.
draft states that SADC member states holding elections should ensure that
polling stations are situated in neutral places and counting of the votes is
carried out at the polling stations.
It also emphasises the use of
translucent ballot boxes, among other conditions necessary in holding
elections in a democratic state and that SADC observer missions should be
deployed at least two weeks before the voting day.
the draft, viewed as taking a sterner stance on regional states with
democratic deficits, want member states to adhere to seven principles to
ensure the conduct of democratic elections.
Some of the proposed
principles include the full participation of the citizens in the political
process, freedom of association, political tolerance, equal opportunity for
all political parties to access the state media and equal opportunity to
exercise the right to vote and be voted for.
The draft says there
should be independence of the judiciary and impartiality of the electoral
institutions and voter education in member states conducting elections in
their respective countries, aspects analysts and the opposition say are
non-existent in present day Zimbabwe.
To determine the nature and
scope of election observation and monitoring, the draft says SADC member
states should be guided by constitutional and legal guarantees of freedom and
rights of the citizens, a conducive environment for free and peaceful
It advocates non-discrimination in voters' registration
and existence of updated and accessible voters' roll.
announcement of the election dates should be timeous, and where applicable,
funding for political parties must be transparent and based on agreed
thresholds in accordance with the laws of the land.
conducting elections should facilitate the establishment of the mechanism for
assisting the planning and deployment of electoral observation
The draft also outlines the code of conduct for elections
observers and monitors that are consistent with those of the OAU/AU
Declaration on the Principles Governing Democratic Elections in
These include the principle that the observer missions must
comply with all national laws and regulations and shall maintain
strict impartiality in the conduct of their duties.
Responsibilities for the member state holding elections would
entail establishing "impartial, all-inclusive, competent and accountable
national electoral bodies staffed by qualified personnel, as well as
competent legal entities including effective constitutional courts to
arbitrate in the event of disputes arising from the conduct of
Zimbabwe's electoral bodies, solely appointed by
President Mugabe, were compromised in this regard.
further states that member states must safeguard the human and civil
liberties of all citizens including the freedom of movement, assembly,
association, expression and campaigning, prevent fraud, rigging or any other
illegal practices throughout the whole electoral process and ensure adequate
security is provided to all parties in the election race, among other
acceptable conditions in a democracy.
Unmasking the double-dealer who blew whistle on
Nelson Banya 7/15/2004 7:02:20 AM (GMT
BELEAGUERED businessman Mutumwa Mawere, who was specified by
the government last week, has come out fighting, accusing the whistleblower
who fingered him of being embittered after failing to get work within
Mawere this week revealed how John Rushton, who
is reportedly in line for a $30 billion windfall from the Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) for blowing the whistle on several prominent businesspeople
over suspected corrupt practices, wrote to him in April, looking for a
It has been established that at the time of the
correspondence, Rushton had already started giving the police, RBZ officials,
state security agents and the Anti-corruption Ministry information on a host
of alleged corrupt activities by several businesses.
letter, a copy of which is in the possession of The Financial Gazette,
Rushton, who has extensive experience in the transport and logistics
industry, canvassed for employment "in RSA or Zimbabwe".
our telephone conversation this date in Zimbabwe - I am writing to you for
consideration for employment in RSA. I have been working in Benoni for almost
a year for Cecil Muderede - but he was unable to pay for the transport
company and offices that he agreed to purchase - Nemini Carriers - I have
found it difficult to settle back in Zimbabwe and I have (a) British
"I was offered a position by the RBZ but was never paid
by them, I would like to return to RSA if you had (sic) need for a manager of
24 years in cross border transport, I have an impeccable record and much
experience in investigations too," Rushton wrote.
He also wrote
another letter to Mawere in May.
Rushton, 59, is believed to have
blown the whistle on Mawere, based on his time as general manager at Petter
Holdings, a company that held a transport contract with Shabanie and Mashava
Mines, run by Mawere's SMM Holdings.
Mawere accused Rushton of
desperation, saying the whistleblower had turned to him after his association
with the authorities did not yield the desired result.
the gentleman at the airport and he told me he was working for the Reserve
Bank to carry out some investigations, and I believe he did work with them
between January and February, during which time, I think, they discovered
that his information was confusing.
"How does a transport guy know
the intricate details of mining operations? The fact that he was now looking
for work from a company that he was accusing of illegal conduct shows what
kind of a person the authorities were relying on. Can you imagine that he
could meet the President?" Mawere said.
As part of the ongoing
efforts to combat graft and economic crimes, the government, through the RBZ
and the Zimbabwe Revenue Authority, has come up with funds for informers who
blow the whistle on offenders.
The whistleblowers are entitled to
10 percent of the total amount recovered following successful prosecution of
the alleged guilty parties.
Mawere joined the growing band of
businessmen whose assets have been frozen by the government after he was
specified last week.
The move came after the government failed in
its efforts to bring the businessman, who has been resident in South Africa
since 1995, back to Zimbabwe to face charges of violating the country's
exchange control regulations.
The government wants Mawere, who
has built a formidable multi-billion-dollar empire straddling virtually every
economic sector, to face trial for alleged fraud cases involving up to $300
THE annualised rate
of inflation has continued on a downward spiral, shedding 54.2 percentage
points in June to 394.6 percent.
Coming against a background of
extreme scepticism, the fall in year-on-year inflation, which stood at 448.8
percent in May, has already set tongues wagging as to whether the
inflationary pressures are on a long-term easing trend. Zimbabwe has had
problemss controlling its inflation and maintaining its currency at sensible
However, the increase in food prices drove the
month-on-month inflation rate 3.2 percentage points higher to 9.2 percent in
Figures released by the Central Statistical Office show that
of the 394.6 percent year-on-year rate of inflation in June, food prices
accounted for 161.4 percentage points while non-food items in the consumer
price index accounted for 233.2 percentage points.
inflation was 430.6 percent, down by 51.2 percentage points from the May
figure of 481.8 percent, while the non-food component was 373 percent, down
from 481.8 percent in the previous month.
On a month-on-month
basis, inflation rose by 3.2 percentage points to 9.2 percent.
The monthly figure has been rising steadily since the decline
recorded between March and April.
The annualised rate of
inflation has been in decline since peaking at 622.8 percent at the beginning
of the year on the back of concerted efforts by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe
(RBZ) to target a rate of between 170 percent and 200 percent by
Independent analysts and the International Monetary Fund
(IMF) have since stated that the central bank's target, which seemed
optimistic when it was made last year, was achievable.
has projected a year-end inflation rate of 196 percent in line with the
projections of RBZ governor Gideon Gono, who cut the image of
an anti-inflation hawk when he took over at the central bank.
THE former boss of
the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC), Anglican Bishop Peter Hatendi,
has slammed the electoral body as a toothless bulldog that not only did not
bark but actually slept on the job.
Hatendi, who quit his post as
chairman in 2000 citing endless frustrations in his "holy" plans to enhance
democratic reforms in the country's electoral system, widely viewed as
flawed, said the current electoral legislation tilted heavily in favour of
the ruling ZANU PF even with changes recently proposed by the
Zimbabwe's main political opposition party, the
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), has expressed similar views about the
proposed amendments to the electoral laws and has already threatened not
to participate in the 2005 parliamentary polls under the existing
"I quit the ESC because they are a toothless bulldog,"
Hatendi told a group of journalists who gathered in Masvingo last week at a
workshop organised by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network
"I have said this before and I will say it over and over
again. The ESC is a toothless bulldog."
Under mounting political
and moral pressure to bring about electoral reforms to suit all political
parties the government, through Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs
Minister Patrick Chinamasa, announced the long-awaited electoral changes,
which critics say seem to have done very little to appease both the nation
and opposition parties.
The changes include setting up an
independent electoral commission - the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission - for
President Mugabe's increasingly wily political party which has been accused
of pulling the wool over the eyes over of the electorate, the region and the
Other reforms are a reduction of the
voting period from two days to a day, the appointment of a chief electoral
officer and five members by the President, the use of indelible ink,
replacement of wooden boxes with translucent ones and the conduct of
verification at respective polling stations.
Hatendi said the
electoral reforms would be meaningless if the current constitution was not
amended in line with democratic electoral laws.
"To bring about
democratic elections, a new constitution and a new electoral law are
overdue," Hatendi said. "To introduce a new electoral law before a new
constitution, as suggested, is putting the cart before the horse. Elections,
being the pillar of a democratic government, must meet democratic electoral
principles. It seems the will and urgency are not there."
added: "We cannot afford delaying the happiness and power of the electorate
as well as the development of personality of citizens any longer. Where is
the voice of the conscience of the nation-state, the journalists and prophets
from the church?"
Speaking at the same workshop, ZESN boss Reginald
Matchaba-Hove welcomed the government's electoral reforms, saying they were a
starting point and that the network hoped more reforms would be in the offing
before next year's general elections.
"We should not be
pessimistic," Matchaba-Hove said. "At least we are making progress and our
electoral laws should be in line with regional and international norms and
standards. We will continue pressing until we have achieved the goals of the
Responding to Hatendi's proposal that the ESC and the
so-called independent electoral commission be separated because their roles
were different, ZESN said the electoral process should instead be
harmonised under one body to protect the legitimacy of poll
"I would like to disagree with Bishop Hatendi in that in
my experience when I observed elections in SADC, it is possible to have one
body dealing with the electoral process, instead of many
Hatendi had said: "In my opinion, the functions and
powers of these two bodies are not identical. One is responsible for
supervision and the other for administration and management of the election
However, he could not explain who would supervise the
ESC, whose key members are appointed by an interested party in the election -
Presient Robert Mugabe.
Next year's parliamentary election pits
President Mugabe's ZANU PF against Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC.
THE verdict is not
yet out but proceedings to his long-drawn treason trial are drawing to a
Still, there is no telling which way the case will go but
impatient political vultures in the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) are
already jostling to complete the critical encirclement around their
beleaguered leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Party insiders this week
said that although the courts were yet to decide on the fate of the former
firebrand trade unionist, political battling spawned by factionalism and the
resultant psychological crises had reared their ugly head within the fragile
opposition - a loose coalition of labour, human rights organisations and
various other interest groups.
The sensitive issue reportedly
boiled over on Tuesday this week when Tsvangirai got wind of the cracks
emerging within the party as a result of intensifying jostling. Sources said
Tsvangirai and MDC national chairman Isaac Matongo had a verbal punch-up over
the alleged machinations at Harvest House - the party's
Tsvangirai, who led the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade
Unions with distinction as its secretary-general before switching to politics
in 1999 as the founding leader of the MDC, is on trial for allegedly plotting
to assassinate President Robert Mugabe ahead of the disputed 2002
presidential election which the opposition claims was tainted with violence
and intimidation against its supporters.
The High Court is
expected to hand down judgment on July 29 in the case against
The MDC leader was charged alongside the party's
secretary-general and legislator for Bulawayo North-East Welshman Ncube and
Renson Gasela, the Member of Parliament for Gweru Rural.
state, however, withdrew charges against Ncube and Gasela, but maintained
that Tsvangirai, who denied the high treason charges, committed the
According to MDC sources, the political vultures belonged
to two distinct factions that have emerged along tribal lines. They said
although the factionalism was disguised as pitting so-called intellectuals
against trade unionists, the rallying point was tribal.
to the foreground by the need to take over the leadership of Zimbabwe's
biggest opposition political party, the factionalism had produced simmering
but deep-seated discord within the MDC, they said.
"At the moment,
we are, as a party, operating on the basis that he (Tsvangirai) is going to
be exonerated," MDC spokesman Paul Themba Nyathi said, "because we know he is
"I am not aware of any discussion surrounding
Tsvangirai's replacement. If there is anybody out there involved in stupid
politics, they don't belong to the MDC. Personally, I will pack my bags and
leave the MDC if I was approached to engage in destructive
"In the unfortunate event that the president is
convicted, our constitution is very clear that the vice president takes over
as a caretaker president.
"We have a struggle ahead of us. It's
about removing bad governance and tyranny in the country and making sure that
we become the next government. We are fighting so that Zimbabwe becomes a
normal progressive nation. There is no room for stupid
Confirming that jockeying among the opposition party's
bigwigs to fill Tsvangirai's shoes had intensified, splitting the party into
two factions along tribal lines, high-ranking MDC officials on Tuesday said
one faction that called itself the Karangas-wezhira comprised mainly of the
so-called trade unionists. This faction was allegedly led by Matongo, while
the other consisted of an equally powerful camp, "the intellectuals", led by
In Matongo's camp, the source said, were also the national
chairperson for the party's women's league, Lucia Matibenga, Tsvangirai's
confidante Eliphas Mukonoweshuro, MDC deputy secretary-general Gift
Chimanikire and an indigenous entrepreneur identified only as Mujikwa, among
Ncube's faction allegedly comprises spokesman Nyathi (MP
Gwanda North), Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga (MP Glen Norah), and Job
Sikhala (MP St Mary's).
The controversial Matongo, who has
always been at the centre of wrangles involving internal party elections, is
reportedly eyeing the hot seat while Gibson Sibanda, the MDC vice president,
has been tipped to take over in the event that Tsvangirai is convicted. This
is in accordance with the party's constitution.
has been said that Matongo's faction was uncomfortable with Sibanda assuming
the role of acting president for fear that Ncube would manipulate
"People have begun to set themselves up for purposes that
there could be a conviction," one source said.
"Two groups have
emerged, one calling itself the Karangas led by Matongo. That group is mainly
made up of trade unionists. The other group is mainly composed of the
so-called intellectuals. Another problem that has set in is that of tribalism
. . . the Ndebeles against the Karangas."
The source added: "Nelson
Chamisa (MP Kuwadzana and national youth leader) is problematic. One doesn't
know where he really stands. Secret meetings are already being held along
tribal lines. The scenario is explosive if it is not nipped in the bud. It
may work against us ahead of next year's elections and the results may be
"The MDC's constitution stipulates that in the event of
the president' s office being vacant for any reason whatsoever, the vice
president takes over, but Matongo's camp feels that if Sibanda takes over in
the event that president Tsvangirai is convicted, Sibanda could be
manipulated by Ncube, who will become de facto president."
THE six-month reprieve granted to Zimbabwe by
the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which was on the verge of expelling
the southern African state from the 184-member multinational development
institution, will prove critical as the period will coincide with the run-up
to next year 's parliamentary elections.
Analysts have indicated
that the grace period, extended by the IMF's executive board last Wednesday,
should provide Harare with an opportunity to put its house in order and
demonstrate commitment to turning around its economy, now in the fifth year
While the economic stabilisation currently being
pursued with religious tenacity by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) drew an
unexpected 65 percent endorsement from the IMF executive board, it remains to
be seen how fiscal policy will complement the tight monetary
Since late last year, the RBZ has vigorously sought to
bring stability to the country's financial markets by instigating
consolidations in the banking sector, stifling speculative consumption by
allowing interest rates to respond to market imperatives, reining in money
supply and, in turn, inflation.
In response to the RBZ's policy
prescriptions, money supply, a major inflation driver, has been in decline
since the beginning of the year.
The annual narrow money (M1)
growth, comprising notes and coins in circulation and demand deposits with
the banking system, fell from 632 percent in January to 504 percent in April,
while the rate of growth of narrow money plus savings deposits and time
deposits under 30 days (M2) fell to 451 percent in April, shedding 87
percentage points from 538 percent in January.
money supply (M3) growth also declined from 491 percent in January to 400
percent in April.
Year-on-year inflation has also been in decline
since it peaked at 623 percent in January. The rate of inflation slowed down
to 449 percent in May, with some analysts projecting it to decline further to
409 percent in June.
The IMF, which had a team visiting the country
in March for the routine Article IV consultations, recently came around to
accepting the RBZ' s year-end inflation projection of below 200
Concerns have been expressed that the government which,
remarkably, funds the country's elections without recourse to donor funds,
might adopt some uneconomic policies in the run-up to next year's crucial
plebiscite, to be held in March.
Hefty gratuities paid to
veterans of Zimbabwe's liberation war in 1997 quickly come to mind, as do
several perks that have been proposed for traditional leaders, key arbiters
in the ruling ZANU PF party's quest to retain the rural vote.
Although there have been conflicting reports on Zimbabwe's food situation,
with the government indicating that the country would not need to import any
grain, some analysts have said it was likely that the country would, in fact
import, thereby putting a further strain on the tenuous foreign currency
Economic consultant John Robertson said the ball remained
firmly in Harare's court, adding that amortisation of Zimbabwe's debt with
the IMF, estimated to be around US$300 million, would be the only way
of re-establishing full participation in the development agency's
"We need to repay. The IMF is not a donor agency, but a
development agency. We will not get back if we do not go beyond the token
repayment we have been making, but this is not going to be easy because we do
not have the money and might have to import food, among other critical
imports," Robertson said.
He, however, said it was unlikely that
the Bretton Woods institution would expel Zimbabwe, even when the executive
board reviews its decision in six months' time.
decision to suspend expulsion) means that they are not willing to expel us at
this stage. It is not necessary in practical terms as we are not active
members anyway. There is no real need.
"We will, however, have to
show that we have changed course, but it is very likely that even then, the
suspension will be extended," Robertson said.
principal economist at the Financial Holdings group, said while the stay of
execution extended by the IMF did not amount to a blanket endorsement of the
country's economic policies, it demonstrated that the institution was taking
note of developments on the monetary side of the economy.
it brings out is that there is a degree of confidence returning. They would
want to give the RBZ governor time to see if he can come up with a credible
turnaround programme, obviously with an eye on the
"What is important is that both the monetary
and fiscal policies complement each other and that there be no policy
reversals," Doroh said.
Zimbabwe was last year divested of its
voting rights by the IMF, which then launched proceedings to expel the
crisis-ridden southern African state from the organisation.
Harare has, however, undertaken to make quarterly US$1.5 million repayments
which, analysts have noted, could take up to 50 years to settle the country's
total obligation to the IMF.
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, who those
disillusioned with multiple farm ownership under the scandal-tainted land
reform programme say should move beyond rhetoric and contemplate action, has
issued yet another ultimatum to influential ZANU PF members to surrender
"We are going to have one-man-one-farm. Even if you
have two wives, you are entitled to only one farm. Those with more than one
farm should surrender the rest and remain with one farm," President Mugabe
told delegates to his party's Fourth National Youth Congress last
The ZANU PF leader is under heavy moral pressure to give
a semblance of credibility to his anti-corruption claims by dealing with his
colleagues who have violated the government's stated one-man-one-farm
At the weekend, the President admitted that he had been
inundated with complaints concerning "amadala" (political heavyweights) in
the ruling party who continued to own many farms through
Observers this week said President Mugabe's admission that
he had been overwhelmed with complaints about deep-seated corruption in what
is increasingly becoming a controversial land reform programme underlined
the extent of frustration simmering within ZANU PF's rank-and-file over
the government's failure to act against multiple farm owners.
The frustration has deepened, especially as the revelations of multiple farm
ownership come against a background where most of the people who bore the
brunt of the liberation war, one of whose key reasons was the emotive issue
of land ownership, have been condemned to the dust bowls.
then mean that President Mugabe is now going to decisively act against the
coterie of corrupt and self-centred ruling class politicians who have reduced
what was ostensibly meant to be an equitable redistribution of the country's
key resource to correct a historical injustice into a senseless land grab
"Highly unlikely," said one political commentator, "because
there is a significant number of influential ruling party members involved in
this scandal. It is going to be embarrassing to shame members of his party
According to the latest confidential report compiled
by Special Affairs Minister John Nkomo's Land Reform Committee, business
people connected to ZANU PF have also joined the land reform gravy train,
amassing several farms, some measuring 2 000 hectares each.
total, the committee reports, 329 people had multiple farms measuring 55 513
688 hectares. These have continued to cling firmly to several lucrative
properties in a clear rebuff to President Mugabe's official one-man-one-farm
Reads part of the report: "A total of 329 people have
multiple farms measuring 55 513 668 hectares. In excess of 45 000 hectares of
land were recovered during this exercise but there continues to be some
resistance from high-ranking members of the ruling party and senior
government officials to surrender the land.
"This resistance and
the clandestine manoeuvres have a combined effect of maintaining the status
quo on the ground as regards the issue of multiple farm
According to the latest audit, there are 249 473
landless people on the Model A1 scheme waiting list and 99 971 on the A2
list. The report says double allocations riddled both schemes as the
Agriculture Ministry, headed by Joseph Made, then had no computerised data on
land parcelled out to beneficiaries.
President Mugabe has on
several occasions pleaded with his Cabinet and other ZANU PF supporters with
extra farms to surrender the properties for possible redistribution to
deserving landless blacks. It is however important to note that just like two
other government-sanctioned audits of the land reform exercise, the latest
report is silent on the identities of the 329 people with multiple
Political commentators this week however expressed fears
that the figure of 329 multiple farm owners being provided by the land audit
report could be an understatement as a majority of party "chefs" used proxies
in registering the properties.
They said the government's
inaction over the sensitive issue could suggest that there were powerful
politicians caught up in the net whom President Mugabe was wary of upsetting
by sanctioning their prosecution.
They claimed that the President
would not want to act against those who corruptly acquired land at a moment
the ruling ZANU PF was riven along factional lines ahead of the crucial 2005
Lovemore Madhuku, a critic of President
Mugabe and chairman of the National Constitutional Assembly, a constitutional
reform lobby, said the President could not remedy the corruption in the
government's "chaotic land exercise".
"The figure of 329 people
said to have more than one farm is not realistic because almost every one in
ZANU PF has more than one farm. On paper they appear to have one farm but in
reality they have more than one because most registered the farms in the
names of relatives," said Madhuku.
"When you run such a chaotic
land reform programme as done by Mugabe and ZANU PF, it is impossible to have
checks and balances because of the depth of corruption in the
"Mugabe does not have the capabilities to rectify the
anomalies . . . there was no set criterion, no independent body to allocate
the farms. It was a free for all and now it's next to impossible to truly
audit the exercise and clearly identify who owns what farm," he
The covert machinations used by officials to register
properties in the names of distant relatives, the observers said, rendered
any audit of the land exercise an onerous and impossible task.
They said President Mugabe should have moved to arrest multiple farm owners
with the same speed the veteran politician displayed in arresting businessman
James Makamba and Finance Minster Chris Kuruneri for allegedly externalising
Max Mkandla, leader of the War Veterans
Liberators Peace Initiative, a grouping of former freedom fighters advocating
peaceful elections in Zimbabwe, said President Mugabe's lenience towards top
officials implicated in multiple farm ownership was baffling.
Mkandla, who fought as a ZIPRA commander during the war of liberation, said:
"Unless he starts arresting some of the top chefs with more than one farm we,
progressive war veterans, will remain sceptical of his leadership qualities,
especially considering his age.
"It has to be noted that taking
action against multiple farm owners will not be a stroll in the park because
the audits of the land programme have shown that there was rampant
corruption. In fact, what is clear is that the majority of top leaders in
ZANU PF are corrupt," he added.
The war veteran said continued
dilly-dallying by the 80-year-old President in punishing culprits fingered by
the latest audit report by Nkomo would cast doubt on his leadership qualities
at a time the majority of people and the international community were calling
for his exit from active politics.
"He (Mugabe) is no longer the
Mugabe we knew that immediately took action against (Dzikamai) Mavhaire when
he said Mugabe must go," added the war veteran.
report shows that there were altogether 126 843 A1 beneficiaries who took up
22 976 self-contained, 102 786 villagised and 1 081 three-tier plots. Under
the A2 model, there were 12 888 beneficiaries, giving a total of 137
The latest figure of resettled people released by the Nkomo
report is similar to one in the Charles Utete land report of last
The figure clearly contradicts the government's salesmen,
who continually parrot that a total of 300 000 people have been resettled
Up until last week, it appeared that Zimbabwe
would be written off by the blundering International Monetary Fund (IMF),
with whom the crisis-hit country has had a turbulent
Indeed since June last year, speculation had swirled
about Zimbabwe's imminent expulsion from the Bretton Woods twin and it was
just a question of time as to when the international monetarists would
finally slam the door on what the greater international community now
considers a pariah state. Of course government has protested this, which it
feels as unjustified hostility, contempt and ostracism, though some would say
it is a stark reminder that perception is taken as fact!
past 12 months or so, expecting the IMF to have Zimbabwe as part of its
global plans would have been dismissed as hopefulness bereft of realism. It
would have been delusional, to say the least because, according to the
sceptics, the fences could not be mended as they had irretrievably been
broken, given the government's intransigence. The die was cast and the smart
money was on expulsion.
As would be expected, among the ruling
class politicians who have the head-in-the-sand ostrich mentality, the mooted
expulsion provoked a muted response. The politicians, whom no one seems to be
taking seriously any more, wanted the world to believe that Zimbabwe's
political and socio-economic life would remain unshaken with or without the
IMF. But nothing could be further from the truth because the country's
fragile economy felt some "tremor". As it is, the country is already feeling
the financial pinch of the IMF's continued absence.
against this background that Zimbabweans from all walks of life must have
breathed a collective sigh of relief at the revelations by the self-assured
Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono that what could have been an
inglorious exit from one of the key institutions of the world has been put on
ice for at least six months.
Now, that a little sunshine is
breaking through the dark clouds for what could be a deeper rapprochement
between the IMF and Zimbabwe is cause for celebration (although sceptics
would say not just yet) for Zimbabweans, who only know too well what
expulsion would mean, especially at this irksome moment when the economy is
crisis-hit and the country has a battered international credibility where our
creditworthiness has been reduced to junk status.
As we have
said before, we hold no particular brief for what the IMF, with its sometimes
misplaced missionary zeal for fiscal rectitude, stands for or what it has
done in the past. But the harsh reality is that it is a key and influential
institution from which other international financiers take their cue. The
stark fact is that we can only ignore it at our own peril. In other words we
need the IMF but the Fund does not need us. It is as simple as
Admittedly, what we get from the IMF as balance of payments
support amounts to the proverbial drop in the ocean. But we need its seal
of approval by way of that support. Expulsion would have sent a damning
and ominous signal to the international community that Zimbabwe has its
needle well and truly stuck. This would stiffen the hands of those other
financiers that have been sitting on the fence because no one would want to
touch Zimbabwe even with a barge pole.
This is why we feel that
the better-than-feared decision by the IMF to give Zimbabwe a six-month
reprieve is a confidence-bolstering move which is the clearest sign yet that
although it abandoned Zimbabwe midstream in the late 1990s, the IMF's
confidence in what used to be Southern Africa's reassuringly resilient
economy has not completely evaporated.
Of course we are mindful of
the fact that though the reprieve could buy Zimbabwe some vital breathing
space, it is temporary. Still, the move not only offers prospects for a
breakthrough towards the resumption of balance of payments support to
stabilise public finances, if Zimbabwe does not play hard ball. But it might
just provide the much-needed fillip to the circumspect foreign investors,
financiers and donors, following their stampede for the exits over the
Now that all hope is not lost on Zimbabwe,
the regional-bread-basket-turned-basket-case, the pressure is now on
the government to shed the rogue state stigma with a view to being
reintegrated into the community of nations. This it can do by: improving its
human rights record, a major point of bitter attacks by the international
community, and resolving the political crisis born of growing intolerance,
confrontation and hatred for compromise which in itself has tended to spoil
everything good coming out of Zimbabwe. The country also has to remain on
good terms with its lenders such as the IMF, which it owes US$300 million,
This would be a victory for pragmatism because, as
we stated in our editorial of December 11 2003, no country is an island. This
is what we would call listening to the voice of reason and the influence of
realities - something hitherto alien to the local breed of politicians. We
can only hope against hope, that the men and women who constitute our
government will exhibit that exceptional personal responsibility and put
national interests ahead of political expediency.
KAYANJE FARM, Zambia - After a decade
of ruin in the 1990s, Zambia's agriculture sector is enjoying a renaissance -
due partly to an influx of white farmers from neighbouring
From Zambia's point of view, the timing could hardly have
Its policy of providing land to local and foreign
farmers - part of a strategy to broaden the country's economic base -
coincided with a controversial land reform programme in Zimbabwe that put
many commercial farmers out of business.
"They have come to live
here as equals . . . the new farmers have come to jump-start agriculture . .
. they have boosted tobacco production in a short time," said Agriculture
Minister Mundia Sikatana.
Ejected from Zimbabwe, 56-year-old Chris
Thorne is one of several such farmers helping to lead Zambia's agricultural
recovery. In 2003, the Zambia Investment Centre said 125 farmers had settled
in the country, with investments totalling US$107 million.
Tobacco Association of Zambia estimates that around 75 Zimbabwe tobacco
farmers and their managers have settled in southern and central parts of the
"Everything is pointing towards Zambia's success (in
agriculture) due to good government policies," said Thorne at Kayanje farm,
50 km northeast of the capital Lusaka.
"This farm is a huge
expansion project . . . this coming season we will produce half a million
kilos of tobacco. This year we are going to sell 220 tonnes of tobacco and we
will also grow 40 hectares (100 acres) of wheat next year."
Under a 10-year project pioneered by Barclays Bank Zambia, a unit
of London-based Barclays, and Africa Leaf Tobacco (Zambia), a subsidiary
of Universal Leaf Tobacco Co, farmers like Thorne get money to grow
their businesses and pass on their skills to locals as part of the
The scheme is expected to spur a big jump in
Chimwemwe Mtonga, Barclays Bank Zambia head of
agriculture, said the country's total tobacco output was estimated at 16-18
million kg this year, of which 10 million kg would be contributed by the new
farmers. Zambia's tobacco output in 2003 was around 7.2 million kg and 3.0
million kg the previous year.
The expansion also means an
increase in much-needed agricultural jobs and investment. On Kayanje alone,
the current staff complement of 400 will rise to 600 in the 2004/05
"We will (slightly) raise the area for maize production
from 240 hectares in the 2003/04 season to just about 250 hectares the coming
season . . . this farm was not utilised for more than 25 years," Thorne said.
In the previous three years, only 50 hectares was farmed on
It is not all plain sailing. High inflation and continuous
fluctuation of the kwacha currency worry the farmers.
profit margins are being reduced by high inflation as a result of a re-valued
rand," said Thorne in a reference to South Africa's currency. Farmers buy the
bulk of their raw materials from South Africa.
concerns, Zambia is confident that agriculture will soon be a major economic
driver for the country as it diversifies away from copper and cobalt
Thousands of hectares of virgin land are being offered free
to local and foreign investors for agricultural activities.
"There is no doubt agriculture is the future of Zambia and land will be given
to anyone interested in growing cash crops," Lands Minister
Judith Kangoma-Kapijimpanga said.
As well as boosting its
tobacco industry, Zambia plans to launch year-round maize growing in the
country's vast wetlands and aims to increase output by around 40 percent to
two million tonnes in the 2004/05 season.
Sikatana has said
preliminary indications suggest this year's maize harvest would exceed 1.4
million tonnes, from 1.2 million tonnes in the previous season.
"Our aim is to increase maize production to two million tonnes in the coming
season (2004/05) and thereafter we will be increasing our output by one
million tonnes every other season," he said.
The contrast with
Zimbabwe's fortunes is striking.
Once the breadbasket of the
region, Zimbabwe is battling one of the world's highest inflation rates and
widespread unemployment, a situation that many critics blame on government
mismanagement, including its land reform programme.
Zimbabwe told international donors in May it would not need emergency food
aid on predictions of a bumper harvest, many analysts and Zimbabwe commercial
farming groups have said the country could face a shortfall.
Zambia, on the other hand, has bounced back from severe food shortages that
affected more than 14 million people at their peak early last year.
African leaders finally ready to take off their
7/15/2004 7:29:10 AM (GMT +2)
release of a two-year-old report on human rights abuses in Zimbabwe compiled
by the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) gives
Zimbabweans a glimmer of hope that finally, African leaders could be ready to
take off their blinkers.
The report, which covers the run-up to and
the aftermath of the 2002 presidential election, was tabled at the third AU
Summit in Addis Ababa last week. It is scathing in its criticism of "blatant
human rights abuses, a flurry of repressive legislation, political violence,
torture and arbitrary arrests of journalists, opposition Members of
Parliament and human rights lawyers."
Despite fighting mightily
to forestall the release of this document into the public domain, Foreign
Minister Stan Mudenge failed spectacularly. This despite a helping hand from
South Africa's Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who once again
demonstrated beyond doubt how cosy things have become under Thabo Mbeki's
In the end, Mudenge pledged that Zimbabwe would
respond to the charges within seven days. And unless the government of the
Republic of Zimbabwe is to be allowed to continue to behave like a spoilt
brat, Mudenge should not take this task lightly for a number of
The first is that since the ACHPR report was compiled,
political violence has continued unabated and abuses in all the categories
cited have escalated. Moreover, the situation is bound to deteriorate further
as preparations for next year's general elections gather
Zimbabwe's response to the ACHPR report should therefore
not be a cavalier academic exercise to get critics off the government's back
on the international stage while it continues its various crackdowns and
assaults on civil liberties at home.
How Mudenge handles
condemnation of abuses from two years ago will be a barometer of the
government's commitment to introducing reforms to restore democratic
governance. All existing undemocratic practices must be dismantled whether or
not they are cited in the ACHPR report.
The second reason that
should influence Mudenge to think twice about continuing to try to pull the
wool over everybody's eyes is that this deceptive strategy has failed. The
fact that his fellow African Foreign Ministers would not be swayed in Addis
Ababa when he tried frantically to prevent the tabling of the scathing report
should tell the Foreign Minister the tide has turned. Crying wolf no longer
Gimmicks and diversionary tactics such as the minister's
claim that he did not see the report earlier because it was sent to the wrong
ministry will raise further uncomfortable questions. If it is indeed true
that the Ministry of Justice received and sat on such an important document
for months on end, what picture does that paint of the workings of
this government? Does the right hand know what the left is
Mudenge should also know that the inevitable but now tired
and thoroughly nauseating tirades scapegoating the opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) resorted to by some government officials do
nothing to help his cause.
Who, for example, can take seriously
the ridiculous claim by the government's information department that the MDC
"smuggled" the ACHPR document onto the AU agenda at the behest of British
Prime Minister Tony Blair?
Rather than represent credible
protestations of innocence, these illogical claims that shy away from
commenting on the substance of the report actually serve to confirm the old
adage that "a guilty conscience needs no accuser". The issue is not how the
report was released, but what the government of Zimbabwe has to say about the
charges of gross human rights abuses levelled against it.
Mudenge himself could also not resist invoking Tony Blair's name by accusing
the authors of the ACHPR report of being "Blair's messengers" it will be
interesting to compare how he fares in dealing with a situation similar to
one the British Prime Minister and American President George W. Bush have
I refer of course to the abuse of prisoners in Iraq
by American and British soldiers. When the ugly revelations about these human
rights abuses exploded, the British and Americans did not try to shift the
blame to anybody else.
Instead, they acknowledged that something
terrible had occurred and undertook to investigate every incident so as to
bring culprits to book. As I recall, officialdom in this country went ape in
expressing self-righteous indignation against Bush and Blair over these
violations of Iraqi prisoners' rights.
Now that it is Zimbabwe's
turn to address similar accusations, we wait with bated breath to see whether
the government will accept full responsibility for what took
Will it be principled enough to order investigations into
the incidents cited in the report so that perpetrators can be prosecuted?
Will it be prepared to introduce reforms to remedy some of the problems cited
in the report or will it continue to resort to its well known tactics
of evasion that say: " Don't look there, we have something terrible to
IT has been stated before and it must be
reiterated that the fundamental business of law from a capitalist standpoint
is to ensure justice and equity.
People can only take pride in
their legal system if the system serves its purpose well. However, there is
one aspect of our law that is deeply worrisome because of the way it
threatens the justice delivery system.
A case in point is the
chaotic state of affairs in our statute law as relates to almost all clauses
that provide for payment of fines by offenders.
are commonly referred to as penalty clauses and almost every statute has
them. They are put in place to ensure compliance with the relevant statute by
punishing offenders either through imprisonment or payment of
The dangerous scenario is that almost all fines provided for
in the various legislations currently in existence have been rendered
irrelevant and ludicrous by the harmful effects of inflation.
The hyperinflation caused by economic mismanagement has tremendously reduced
the value of our currency, so much so that what used to be a fair and
reasonable penalty years back is no longer so today.
It must be
observed that every sentence imposed on an offender must be reasonable, fair
and commensurate with the gravity of the offence in question. Only in
barbaric and undemocratic judicial systems do you find excessive or too
trivial sentences which are disproportionate to the offence in
A fine that is either too low or too hefty leads to an
injustice and in the process undermines the purpose of punishment, which can
either be rehabilitative or retributive.
In view of this
observation, it becomes obvious that judicial officers handing down sentences
in statutory crimes have a grave difficulty before them.
illustrate the point, the Miscellaneous Offences Act provides that a person
found loitering for purposes of prostitution shall be liable to a fine not
exceeding $100 as an alternative to imprisonment. It is apparent that payment
of a fine of $100 in the present economic circumstances is highly nonsensical
and grossly out of touch with reality.
This scenario is common
across the whole spectrum of our statute law.
A trial magistrate or
judge who finds himself trapped in this dilemma faces the possibility of
opting for a custodial sentence, thereby causing an injustice where the
accused would ordinarily have been in a position to pay a fine.
On the other hand, magistrates are guided by rules of procedure and cannot
hand down a sentence that falls outside the provisions of a statute. Such a
sentence would be incompetent and unlawful. So, in strict compliance with the
law, a magistrate must either order payment of the trivial "fine" or order
incarceration of the offender.
This existing scenario poses a great
danger not only to the administration of justice in general but also to
people's right to liberty and equal protection before the law. It illustrates
one banal way in which state-orchestrated injustices continue to be
perpetrated. It is an extreme travesty of justice to haul an offender to gaol
because of a legal mess created and sustained by politicians.
The bitter irony is that the same law that is put in place to ensure justice
and equity at the end of the day, due to administrative incompetence,
bureaucratic bungling and oversight, ends up becoming a hazard to people's
The blame for this anomaly must first fall on the office
of the Law Reviser in the Ministry of Justice. It is this office that is
tasked with ensuring that all our law is synchronised and is in tandem with
economic and general societal transformations. This is because the law as an
institution is never static, but is always in motion, responding to changes
shaping our society.
It is perplexing why the responsible office
has not taken drastic step s to ensure that our statute law is compatible
with currency realities.
But again, the mammoth responsibility of
revising and reviewing all our law can never, and must never, be left to one
man who operates in a poorly equipped office.
individuals deserving blame are our politicians. They are the ones who have
mismanaged the economy, creating the legal mess that is before
There is one reason why the government may have taken time
to intervene: this is because of its preoccupation with engineering
oppressive legislation to safeguard its hegemony.
abundantly obvious that most statutes promulgated in the last few years are
unconstitutional, oppressive and extremely alienated from core developmental
issues. This is most unfortunate because law must be used more to create an
enabling economic environment for the sake of development rather than
obsessively dwelling on abrogation of the rule of law and depriving citizens
of their rights.
The responsibility of overhauling our statutes in
the above-stated regard is burdensome, and likely to face insurmountable
Finding a solution to this colossal problem is onerous and
it would appear the solution can only come from politicians. This is because
until the economy improves and inflation stabilises, the problem will only
invite piecemeal results that might further compromise our legal
It is suggested that the government, with the assistance of
all stakeholders, introduce a quarterly or regular review of all
active statutes. Such reviews must, in the end, ensure that all existing
penalty provisions bear a worth that is closer to existing currency
As an aside, the government also appears to be unaware that
it is high time the Internet sector was regulated. The provisions of the
Postal and Telecommunications Act 4 of 2000 are inadequate in their attempt
to regulate this valuable sector.
As observed earlier, the
government's interest is only aroused when it concerns issues that threaten
its existence. It springs into action and vigorously employs every legal or
illegal trick available to save its soul.
This can be observed from
its recent attempt to circumvent the constitution by entering into private
treaties with Internet service providers -treaties that are patently illegal
because they violate provisions of the supreme law of the land.
At law, these agreements are known as contracts in fraudem legis, meaning
that they are in violation of the law. Such contracts are unenforceable by
virtue of their being illegal.
It is hoped that a fuller discussion
will be made of how our law has responded to the Internet
lVote Muza is a legal practitioner with Gutu &
Chikowero law firm in Harare. He can be contacted on e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.
WE are in
desperate need of another politics. But it is no longer the politics of the
clenched fist, the power of the punch.
Ours is the politics of
interlaced fingers, a politics that develops when the "I" and the "You" come
together as "We", when people clasp their hands, warm palms touching, fingers
woven together, to build a rebellion that deeply interconnects us. A
rebellion of relationships that embrace differences, a rebellion that desires
to share rather than to take power. (From the book We Are
The kind of politics employed in the Zimbabwe and
Africa of today is a horrendous reminder of simpering bootlicking, disastrous
back-biting and unhelpful mudslinging as has been aptly revealed by the
African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) report and the
suppression of its exposure of the Zimbabwean revolution.
ZANU PF managed to squash the unflattering ACHPR report on Zimbabwe and how
the whole African Union suffocated the human rights atrocities therein, is a
serious cause for concern owing to the following reasons:
fact that it was only Zimbabwe's human rights issues that were strangled
shows that the ruling party has a much more powerful, vice-like grip on
Africa and its Union than the illusions we all held before.
ZANU PF is able to conceal revelations of scary human rights abuses committed
during the last election is testimony that it is a party that has not
repented and will continue to haunt and dehumanise the electorate in next
year's crucial election.
lLastly, it is crystal clear that ZANU PF
grossly lacks transparency, accountability and reliability as a government
that is willing to rule in a fair, just and democratic manner.
It is foolhardy to suggest that the commission that drafted the report was
working in cahoots with British Prime Minister Tony Blair because that was
clearly the work of African brothers who saw things through an
African microscope and fortunately had the audacity to lay bare what's been
swept under the carpet for too long a time.
The core crisis in
Zimbabwe is not only about land, not only about human rights abuses but about
both and how miserable Zimbabweans have become because of the
ZANU PF chose to build its economy on the land and it is this
land issue that has brought about human rights abuses as the party battles
to force the significance of land on unwilling non-farmers.
with gloomy reports about imminent starvation, ZANU PF must be mindful of the
fact that they sowed the land and must therefore prepare hard and fast to
reap the sand storm.
The human rights abuses in this country can
only be linked to the British and the Americans, in that the ruling party
manipulates these countries' sympathy for the opposition to dehumanise those
against its policies.
The human rights abuses are real because
they are a testimony from brutally victimised black brothers detailing their
forgettable experience to other black brothers.
It is baffling
that when the BBC documentary on Zimbabwe's youth national service was
screened in media forbidden within these borders, ZANU PF was quick to show
us that it was a documentary imbedded with several untruths and
Why can not the same be done with the ACHPR report?
Did they stumble on something too close to reality?
nonsense of linking the MDC as willing collaborators to that ignoble report
is paranoid madness. ZANU PF has been caught with its pants down,
In fact the exposure of the report must be a wake-up call
to ZANU PF to promptly repent and vow to cast such terrorist activities at
the back of beyond.
No matter how much the public media might
fervently apologise through idiotic viewpoints from equally pathetic
sympathisers; kindergarten children will tell you that this would be the
first ever smoke without fire.
The Zezurus will soundly explain it
thus: avhunduka chati kwatara hunge ane katurike.
A plethora of
ZANU PF sins is being swept under the carpet and the few we are exposed to
have been allegedly committed by insignificant victims like Chris Kuruneri
and James Makamba.
That report has perforated a soft spot within a
ruling party scared stiff of documented international exposure.
The fact that ZANU PF has not been able to respond to the report within the
stipulated time is a convincing indication that this time, it was a slash
below the belt.
The party's apparent arrogance of sickeningly
boasting that they are "not in a hurry to respond" is a forlorn attempt to
conceal satanic revelations that are set to dearly cost them in the next
Here is a party that has created infinite
enemies locally, regionally, continentally, internationally and even within
its own Cabinet, politburo and central committee.
Here is a
party playing ball in its own half as it frantically makes efforts to defend
an unpopular winning streak and strategy whose end is more nigh than the
birth of a child conceived today.
The time of the oak, the clenched
fist, the power of the punch, of violence, of torture, terrorism is seeing
its last days.
African brothers are taking the onus of repudiating
one of their own who still insists "he can still punch".
should just open that Pandora's box whether or not our fiercely defensive
foreign ministry responds or not.
It's election time again, we must
ensure it never happens again.
Zimbabwe is one country on earth where one can
never cease to be amazed. Unless one is dead, surely they will find something
amazing in Zimbabwe between sunrise and sunset - especially if they care to
watch the owners of this country playing their politics . . . or is it
Ever heard of a cruel stepmother who put red-hot
charcoal on a child's palm and asked the kid to carry it with
Look at this one. Aeneas Chigwedere, a historian who
-possibly because of a critical shortage of skilled personnel -also doubles
as a Minister of Education, Sport and Culture! Don't ask if he himself is
In his accustomed wisdom, this man imposes a blanket
freeze on fee increases on all schools, because "they are racist and they use
astronomical fee regimes to discriminate against children from poor
In this hyperinflationary environment, these schools,
per force, have to apply for ministerial permission to increase their fees .
. . or else they risk being closed and the defiant authorities
And this permission is never granted to any school. This,
we are told, is aimed at protecting our children's right to education. Never
mind the quality of education that is resultant from a situation where money
is never enough for anything . . . food, books, let alone equipment for use
in practical subjects!
We will not as well mention the mess that
he and other glory-seekers have caused in soccer as they try to endear their
regime to thoroughly bored Zimbos by inviting themselves into the popular
And in another ministry, one for Local Government, Public
Works and National Housing, Ignatius Chombo, after disembowelling the Harare
City Council, goes on to impose a freeze on all municipality
No matter how much things seem to be getting out of hand
because of inflation, he argues that the rate increases are "not justified".
Apart from the hyperinflation, we wonder if the minister would accept any
justification whatsoever, no matter how genuine.
Never mind the
rate freeze, the local authorities are still expected to perform . . . pump
clean water into homes, collect rubbish and keep roads user-friendly, among
other things, or else the minister will sack them for "gross incompetence,
insubordination" and such other high-sounding, but hollow,
In another ministry, that of Agriculture, the
"technocrat" there, Joseph Made, continues to play monkey games with
everyone's life. But farmers and cotton merchants are at the moment the ones
closer to the flame.
Because this season was better than the past
three, cotton farmers produced a good crop. But merchants, citing the
vagaries of international prices, cannot pay more than a measly $1200 per
The resulting standoff is a good opportunity for those
marathon but barren meetings involving the minister. And the 'technocrat", in
his wisdom, start ratcheting threats of possible "intervention" to help the
farmers get what he says is enough to allow them "to go back to the fields"
this coming season.
So these cotton merchants have no option but
to buy the crop at the price that is much higher than that which they will
sell it - the GMB way. Remember GMB buying maize at $30 000 per tonne and
selling it to millers at about $9 000 per tonne?
It sounds more
curious that this minister shows a lot of concern about cotton farmers going
back to the fields, but the same seems not to be the case with grain
After a thumb suck, the minister imposed a producer
price of $750 000 per tonne, which the farmers say is too low to meet their
input costs, let alone allow them to go back to the fields. These complaints
have been falling on deaf ears as the minister's GMB is moving around
expropriating grain and giving the poor farmers dud cheques!
cannot help but wonder for how long this populist way of running a country
will go on.
Last weekend saw the launch of a double music CD by
our own Info Minister, the all-rounder, Cde Jonah. This was at the
magnificent Vic Falls, amid excess pomp and fanfare, which included a boat
cruise and lots of bacchanalian revelling. And so many joined in the
First, we got from the brainy minister a double
cassette, and now we have double CD . . . 26 good tracks all composed by a
We all hope and pray that
"entertainment-starved" Zimbos will find the music sweet enough to spend
their hard-earned Zimkwacha on.
usual, Zimbos are asking which donor so generously bankrolled this project.
Hopefully not our exchequer as has become the tradition!
still on websites, it would be not so much of a bad idea if one would also
make regular forays into this other new website: www.zimonline.co.zw. This is a good one .
. . lots of juicy stuff about everyone and everything! Try it.
But then, the only problem is that we are not sure of the veracity of the
Hear, hear, hear . . . the rumour mill has it that a
woman is the cause of the great schism in Mashonaland West province. Yes, a
woman, of all the things on earth, is the source of the war that has sucked
in the Great Uncle and chiefs and is threatening to rend structures of the
great revolutionary party apart! For now, please don't quote me.
Scandals aside, CZ would like to pass his commiserations to Cde Fidza over
the theft of his two executive suits by his maid. We are really
The fortunate part of it is that, courtesy of his
computerised wardrobe, the flamboyant and showy MP managed to discover that
something was missing and recovered the loot from this maid before it found
its way to Mbare!
CZ's only wish is for God to give him a
similar wardrobe - even a second-hand one -and he would be happy all his life
like a puppy with two tails!
News reaching CZ is that young
Makhosini Hlongwane, that noisy ZBC reporter who wanted to outdo Cde Reuben
Barwe in their unique style of reporting, is now girding himself to battle it
out with two other ZANU PF heavyweights for the eucharistic ticket to
represent the ruling party in Mberengwa East in the coming
We wish him all the best. For now, the advice that we
can offer him is that he should talk to Kindness Paradza first.
ONE of the problems with going overseas is
coming back, if you get my drift! You see, the appalling state of our roads
and the general lack of maintenance such as garbage collection is all the
more obvious when you've become accustomed to the standards maintained
Frankly, there's no proper excuse for the shambles that
is evident all over Harare. The number of potholes grows and grows just as
the number of non-lit lamp posts exceeds those that do work. Take a drive
down Harare Drive between Borrowdale Road and Drew, and you'll see (if you've
got good night vision) what I mean.
It's positively dangerous if
the truth be known, and it is something which the Zimbabwe Road Federation
has been taking up with the City of Harare, along with other issues such as
the overdue introduction of roundabouts, the lack of road maintenance and the
excessive number of commuter omnibuses which create parking chaos in Harare's
But the problems are not unique to Harare. On one of my
bi-monthly visits to Gweru, I was horrified at the state of the road between
the Snake Park and Turnpike Service Station, not to mention the patchwork
quilt which greets you in the environs of Kadoma and Kwekwe. And then there
was the simply ludicrous speed limit posted near Turnpike Service Station
which exhorted motorists to drive at 40 km/h and then 20 km/h. We won't
worry about the lack of road markings as their absence is common on any road
you drive on.
What does get my goat is the incessant policing of
carbon tax and ZBC licence payments. It's impossible to drive any distance
without being asked for proof of payment of these iniquitous "taxes." At one
such inspection point near Chegutu, I was pulled over in a brand new car
while dilapidated vehicles, one of which didn't have any form of red lighting
lens attached to its behind, were glibly waved through.
if the manpower can be found to check tax payment, it can also be found (or
diverted) to attend to more pressing matters such as KK "long distance buses"
travelling at 130 km/h with a full load of passengers.
as regular readers will know, constitute one of my favourite subjects as they
are, mostly, so much more effective than traffic lights. The Zimbabwe Road
Federation feels the same way, but its efforts to spur the introduction of
these devices appear to be resisted by the City of Harare on cost
I find this excuse tenuous to say the least as I'm certain
that a good proportion of the costs can be recovered by letting the
structures to commercial concerns who in turn would be responsible for
overall maintenance and upkeep in return for advertising rights.
EDITORIAL July 15, 2004 Posted to the web July 15,
The foreign currency market has experienced a
significant increase in the demand for foreign currency since April, a
situation that is feared to propel the parallel market.
The amount of
bids, which averaged US$14.45 million and US$11.93 million in April and May,
respectively, shot up to $19.97 million in June and further to US$29.8
million during the first 12 days of July.
As a result, the amount of bids
rejected which averaged US$6.45 million and US$3.76 million in April and May,
respectively rose to US$11.2 million in June before shooting up to US$20.3
million this month.
Although the Reserve Bank increased the amount of
foreign currency on offer to the auction market, the amount has fallen short
of the demand.
Having offered an average of $8 million since 29 January,
the central bank increased the amount to $8.5 million on May 24 and $9.5
million on June 24, a situation that shows that there is a significant
The monetary authorities should take these
developments on the foreign currency market seriously as they threaten to
reverse the gains that have hitherto been made with respect to inflation -
the country's number one enemy.
Annual inflation, which stood at 622.8
percent in January 2004 declined to 448.8 percent in May while monthly
inflation declined from 13.7 percent to six percent during the same period.
In addition to the fiscal and monetary measures introduced in the 2004
National Budget and the Reserve Bank's Monetary Policy Statement, this
inflation deceleration was due to the stability in the foreign exchange
market since the inception of the auction system in January this
Supply side policies meant to create positive supply responses in
output, employment and foreign currency generation especially with regard to
the concessional productive and export finance facilities also
contributed towards the dampening of inflation.
Although it is obvious
that the amount of foreign currency on offer is less than what is required to
the extent that some requests like the purchase of motor vehicles and other
luxury items are not even considered by the Reserve Bank, the sudden increase
in the demand during the said period is very suspicious.
coincidence of this increase in foreign currency demand with the rally in the
equity market means that, in the presence of negative rewards on the money
market, some easy money is being made somewhere somehow reminiscent of a
speculative attack on the exchange rate.
Given that the official market
rates are stable within a range of between $5 300-$5 350 to the US dollar,
the attack could only happen to the alternative market due to the said long
In other words, the parallel market is likely to be
back with a bang, hence the sudden increase in the demand for foreign
currency on the auction market.
As already noted, the authorities need
to something about it in order to sustain the current positive inflation
Proceeds from the bullish equity market due to low money
market yields can also be used to fund parallel market activities.
is against background that it is quite in order for the monetary authorities
to want to know the usage of the foreign currency that is being sourced from
the auction as it is should be used to fund productive activities only, not
speculation. Faced with such a challenging economic situation what is the way
Current positive fiscal developments need to be maintained while
efforts to ensure that the productive sector regains its locomotive role as
the engine of economic growth should be maintained as increased growth of
goods and services in the economy is a very potent way through which
inflationary pressures can be dissipated.
The Zimbabwe Cricket Union has agreed to the ICC's
arbitration process to resolve its differences with the 15 rebel players,
though the players themselves are yet to agree to the plan.
ICC's system, which was specifically devised as an alternative to the drawn
out disputes resolution process, involves a three-person tribunal, sitting in
Zimbabwe, whose decision on the matter will be "final and binding". One
member will be nominated by the ZCU, the other by the players, and the
chairman by the two nominees.
The ICC will meet with Chris Venturas,
the players' legal representative, tomorrow (July 16), but has made it clear
that it is not willing to wait much longer for their decision on whether to
accept the arbitration process.
"The ICC has advised the players of
its strong preference to have this matter dealt with as quickly as possible
and has expressed its reluctance to provide this extension which would leave
these matters unresolved," said a statement issued on Wednesday. "It has now
asked the players to fast-track their decision on whether they will agree to
this proposal to allow the matter to move to the next
However, Venturas has said the rebels were already
involved in the formal ICC disputes resolution process and were reluctant to
abandon that method. "Whether we actually go to arbitration at this moment is
an issue," said Venturas. "We have a dispute mechanism pending with the ICC
as we speak and we are not happy to withdraw it yet. We might relinquish
certain rights and remedies if we withdraw that ICC dispute resolution which
we initiated two months ago."
Venturas added that the players
would prefer a domestic resolution to the problem, saying: "It's a Zimbabwean
issue and we want Zimbabwe to sort it out. But if my clients are better off
proceeding in this courtroom in the UK then we'll have to abide by
Most of the rebel players are currently in England touring as
a side called the Red Lions. They played the first of six games on the
three-week tour yesterday, against Lashings, a celebrity cricket
However, Stuart Carlisle, who is captaining the Red Lions, has
said in the past that it would be difficult for the players to resume a
working relationship with the ZCU because of the damage caused by the row
between the two.
"Some of the individuals in the ZCU that have
helped cause the problems have to be booted out of cricket completely," he
said. "The cancer must be cleansed. If that happens then I'm sure we can work
Reporter Last updated: 07/16/2004 04:17:15 OPPOSITION Movement for
Democratic Change legislator Priscilla Misihairabwi has been arrested for
contravening a section of the Miscellaneous Offences Act, her lawyer
Charles Maunga told Zimbabwe's independent SW Radio Africa that
the firebrand Glen Norah MP is accused of threatening an unnamed
complainant, and in another incident of being in possession of a gun when she
visited her constituency earlier this week.
The MDC's information
department said Misihairabwi was ordered to report at Harare Central's Law
and Order Section just after 9am. She was immediately arrested on
Misihairabwi spoke to SW Radio on Tuesday after ruling party
militants went on a rampage in her constituency, assaulting opposition
supporters. She lodged a complaint with the police but no arrests were
Misihairabwi was recently confirmed as the MDC candidate for Glen
Norah constituency for the forthcoming parliamentary elections to be held in
March next year.
The ruling Zanu PF is said to be fielding notorious
war veterans leader Joseph Chinotimba who is reportedly criss-crossing the
constituency trying to garner support.
Chinotimba has reportedly been
distributing free goodies and has also arm-twisted the State controlled
Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) into diverting several buses to the
Zim, Zambia in statue feud 15/07/2004 14:23 -
Lusaka - Zimbabwe has refused to give the
David Livingstone statue, which stands in the town of Victoria Falls, to
Zambian tourism minister Patrick Kalifungwa asked the "Visit
Zambia 2005" committee to negotiate for the statue to be taken to Zambia, as
the Scottish missionary first saw the world-famous falls from the Zambian
side of the river.
National Heritage Conservation Commission (NHCC)
director, Donald Chikunbi, visited Zimbabwe last week and was told that
Zimbabwe was not willing to part with the statue.
sighted the falls, then known as Mosi-oa Tunya (the smoke that thunders) by
the local Leya people, in November 1855 and later visited it again in 1860
and named it after Queen Victoria of England.
Next year, Zambia
celebrates 150 years since Livingston first saw the falls and 100 years since
the town of Livingstone was established.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ---- GILBERT
Muponda and Nyasha Watyoka of ENG Capital Management were the
first casualties of a financial sector 'clean up' instituted by Reserve Bank
chief Gideon Gono. Muponda has skipped bail and made a dash for freedom.
Here, he writes exclusively for New Zimbabwe.com, explaining why he believes
ENG could have survived and his arrest was motivated by 'other
reasons' ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- ----
Gilbert Muponda Last updated: 07/15/2004 21:40:56 IT has been widely
reported that I sat on the ENG board. It should be made clear from the start
that I was not a Director of ENG ASSET Management P/L.
It should be noted
that ENG Asset Management P/L was one of the Companies within a group of
companies which employed more than 300 people. ENG HOLDINGS was the holding
Company which owned/controlled various business entities including Century
Holdings, Century Discount House, Allied Conveyors, Hybri Premium Finance and
Secondly ENG ASSET MANAGEMENT P/L did not collapse but it was
voluntarily wound up in response to a changing operating environment. This
fact has never been reported on to the public .ENG management approached the
High Court and sort and secured a winding up order and this simultaneously
served to secure all the creditors of ENG ASST MANAGEMENT P/L.
decision was made after a careful analysis indicated that this strategy will
result in all creditors being paid in full, should the liquidation be done
transparently and diligently. Even up to now that Company can fully pay back
its capital commitments. Therefore no creditor will be prejudiced.
allegations being levelled against the Company it is clearly a matter with
which most Zimbabweans are now familiar. It is a public secret how
many Institutions failed to pay maturing investors. Several Institutions
failed to pay amounts bigger than ENG ASSET Management's, yet there were
The RBZ only responded by dishing out tax payers' funds to
these institutions. It's not clear how this will be recovered and what
criteria was used as other institutions were left to collapse and others were
put on life support.
ENG ASSET MANAGEMENT P/L was much better off as
the management had made a comprehensive plan which secured the creditors .So
it is clear that the allegations and the arrests were motivated by other
reasons other than failure to pay maturing investment contract.
COUNTERFEIT Asian goods which have flooded the local
textile and clothing industry since market reforms introduced to Zimbabwe
under the economic structural adjustment programme, continue to force local
players out of the market.
This, economists say, has eroded Zimbabwe's
comparative advantage in the textile industry, linked to its rich raw
material endowment seen as a guarantee of low production costs and an
incentive for raising output and economic growth.
Speaking at the
National Export Strategy Conference held at the Harare International
Conference Centre last week, clothing and textile industry players said the
market was rapidly moving towards a situation of predatory pricing, which
adversely affected local manufacturers.
They said policies had to be
devised quickly to counter the proliferation of fake Asian goods and help
local firms reclaim their diminishing market share.
Zimbabwe's leading textile concern, is currently negotiating a possible
merger that should help it consolidate its market position.
say the merger may be a last-ditch attempt to save the troubled textile
company from imminent collapse, a development that would feed Zimbabwe's
already high unemployment rate of 70 percent, in addition to undermining the
country's gross domestic product.
Efforts to get clarification from the
company's management were futile because David Whitehead has entered a window
period during which it cannot divulge information until publication of its
Economist Eric Bloch blamed the government for failing
to come up with a comprehensive policy to ensure local companies stayed
afloat even in the face of external competition, while at the same time
challenging the huge transnational corporations on the international
He said it was sad that local manufacturers were increasingly
being elbowed out of their own market by outside firms.
"We must have
an even playing field. We don't seem to regard it as important to gazette
incentives and subsidies for our manufacturers here.
"By contrast, Asian,
especially Chinese, textile and clothing firms are heavily subsidised and
produce their goods at low labour costs. Cushioned by these subsidies and
incentives, Chinese textile and clothing manufacturers can afford to produce
and sell at a loss," Bloch said.
"Competition must be based on quality
and not on foreign subsidies," Bloch added, urging greater intervention by
Long winding queues can be seen on a daily basis at
Chinese and Lebanese shops, particularly in the capital Harare, as
Zimbabweans, hard-hit by a recession now in its fifth year, jostle to buy
imitations sold at sub-market prices.
The incessant queues have only
served to encourage further importation of the fakes.
Zimbabwean manufacturers were also hamstrung by unfavourable government
policies, including bureaucratic customs clearance of basic production
He said subsidies, price support and other production incentives
could help stop shady market practices such as predatory
Predatory pricing, where price is administered below the average
costs of local manufacturers, often prevents expansion of the home companies,
with some even being forced to close.