FRANCE and the United States of America (USA) yesterday said the
increasingly isolated Zimbabwean government's overtures to Britain will
count for nothing unless Zimbabweans first engage in political dialogue
among themselves before seeking a deeper rapprochement with foreigners. They
were unanimous that there was no dispute between Zimbabwe and Britain but a
need for Harare to address concerns expressed by the international community
such as the stifling of democratic space, the erosion of human rights, the
growing absence of the rule of law and accelerating economic collapse. This
meant that former Tanzanian President, Benjamin Mkapa - thrust at the centre
of the delicate arbitration - could only help Zimbabwe out of its deepening
crisis if he managed to convince the government to acknowledge its
responsibility for the crisis and the need for political reforms and
national dialogue. Mkapa's terms of reference have not been made public.
"The United States sees no evidence to sustain the argument that the real
and growing problems Zimbabwe faces can be resolved on the basis of
bilateral dialogue between Harare and any other country or countries. As a
sovereign and independent nation, it is up to the government and people of
Zimbabwe to recognise that the roots of the country's current crisis lie
within Zimbabwe and equally to assume responsibility for devising viable
solutions internally," said the US embassy in Harare.
Michel Raimbaud, France's ambassador to Zimbabwe, concurred that only
internal dialogue could get the country out of the nagging political crisis
in which the ruling party has flatly rejected a political settlement with
the feuding MDC. The US and French remarks come at a time when Zimbabwe,
which accuses its former colonial master Britain of pushing for regime
change, has publicly admitted that it is keen to build bridges between the
"Why not re-engage in political dialogue, as we propose, which would allow
you to resume links, which have been broken or slackened . . . And after
all, if you accept to discuss with foreigners, why not talk among
Zimbabweans as you are? . . . Of course we do wish to build bridges, we want
bridges to be built. But is it so wise and so necessary to cut first the
bridges that have been linking Zimbabwe with traditional partners, those
partners that have been, until very recently, friends of Zimbabwe . . . ",
The French ambassador's sentiments, whose country is a key member of the
European Union, make it clear that the chasm between Zimbabwe and Britain
could prove impossible to narrow. The EU members, which have imposed
targeted sanctions on the Zimbabwean government and ruling ZANU PF
officials, usually act in concert on such issues. In addition the French and
US remarks also seemed to suggest that other EU members would have to be
consulted in every move aimed at normalising relations between Zimbabwe and
Despite being a member of the EU bloc that has maintained targeted sanctions
on President Robert Mugabe and his inner circle, Zimbabwe generally
considers France to be a friendly state. France, which came under attack for
waiving travel restrictions on President Mugabe last year, gave Zimbabwe 7.6
million Euro in aid and a further 700 000 Euro in food aid in 2005.
Observers however said this week that remarks by both Raimbaud and the US
embassy, could be an indication of France and the USA's disapproval of ZANU
PF's reluctance to engage the main opposition party. President Mugabe has
refused to engage the MDC, insisting instead to talk to what he referred to
as its "principal", a reference to British prime minister Tony Blair who he
accuses of working with the opposition to effect regime change.
President Mugabe early this month announced the appointment of Mkapa to
break the impasse between Harare and London which, according to the
government, stems from a bilateral dispute over the controversial land
The British embassy in Harare has however, denied the existence of a
bilateral dispute with Harare, insisting the Zimbabwe crisis was due to bad
governance and human rights violations.
The French ambassador said his country was convinced Zimbabwe would come out
of its present political quagmire "reconciled and feeling at peace,
internally as well as internationally, without renouncing any of its
legitimate aspirations for sovereignty,, independence and without giving up
A BITTER dispute over a plush Borrowdale house, pitting deputy Industry and
International Trade Minister Phineas Chiota and a Harare woman, has opened a
can of worms for the government official, who is reported to have an
extraordinarily close relationship with a top diplomat's wife.
Biata Nyamupinga, who is married to Felix Nyamupinga, the charge de affairs
at Zimbabwe's embassy in Australia, and is central to the case, is reported
to be 'very close' to Chiota.
Sources this week told The Financial Gazette that Chiota, who has emerged
seriously damaged by the sleaze factor, was a frequent visitor to the
Nyamupingas' Greystone Park residence along Harare Drive. A telephone call
to the house this week reinforced the claims. Chiota's driver was also
reported to regularly collect the Nyamupingas' child from a primary school
The sources said following the fallout, Sarudzayi Nhundu, who was taken to
court by Chiota after she cancelled an agreement to sell her house to the
deputy minister citing his failure to use his influence as part of a deal to
give her fuel and sugar licences, has threatened to disclose details of the
Contacted yesterday, Chiota refused to explain the relationship and
threatened to sue.
"What kind of a question is that? People should not just write what they
think. Is it not in our interest to fight people in the courts," Chiota
Biata Nyamupinga referred the question to Chiota, but hinted she was related
to the deputy minister.
"Ungadzipedza here hama dzake? Anyway, I am driving and cannot talk to you,
why don't you talk to him?" Nyamupinga said.
Nhundu claims it was Biata who introduced her to Chiota.
"My friend by the name Biata Nyamupinga introduced me to the applicant
(Chiota)," Nhundu states in her affidavit lodged with the High Court. "After
the introduction, my relationship with the applicant grew stronger to such
an extent that we used to have lunch and supper together."
Nhundu says it was on one such visit that Chiota made an offer to purchase
"He gave me his offer, which I turned down because it was below the market
value. I told him that his offer was too low and the amount could not enable
me to purchase another property and inject capital into my business. The
issue of the house was left in abeyance until my friend Biata Nyamupinga
came back from Australia where she had gone for a visit. On January 24 2006,
the applicant and Biata Nyamupinga paid me a visit at my residential home.
The issue, which loomed large in our discussion was about the house. I told
them that I could not sell my house below prevailing market value and that
is when the issue of licences to sell petrol and sugar was introduced to me.
"The applicant then made an undertaking that he was going to facilitate in
obtaining the two licences on my behalf since he is the Deputy Minister of
Industry and International Trade. The applicant even assured me that I will
not run a loss in the sugar and petrol business and that Biata Nyamupinga
was going to partner me in this business and that Biata also knows people I
had assisted in that area and had succeeded," Nhundu disclosed in her
In the end, Nhundu agreed to sell the house to Chiota for $28 billion, half
the market price for the property at the time. When the abortive contract
was signed, Biata signed as witness for both Nhundu, the seller, and Chiota,
The deal was soon to fall through, however, triggering the current dispute.
"After persistence by the two, the applicant and Biata Nyamupinga, I then
signed an agreement of sale on the understanding that the applicant was
going to obtain the two licences for us. I was very alive and alert to the
issue of licences of petrol and sugar and that kept me anxious for the five
days they had said I would be having them. The issue of the two licences was
a condition precedent to the agreement of sale," Nhundu said.
The case opens in the High Court on July 27 before Justice Chitakunye.
Nikita Madya of Wintertons represents Chiota, while Tapuwa Mudambanuki of
Mudambanuki and Associates acts on behalf of Nhundu.
BANK statutory reserve ratios will come down a further 2.5 percentage points
on Monday, central bank governor Gideon Gono said yesterday, but dropped no
hints as to his intentions on interest rates at a meeting with bankers.
This is the second time that statutory ratios have been adjusted since July
3, when they were reduced to 47.5 percent from 50 percent. The RBZ had
reduced the ratios from 60 percent to 50 percent for commercial and merchant
banks and from 45 percent to 40 percent for discount houses on June 19, in
response to pleas by several top banks that they were under severe strain.
Ratios for discount houses will go down to 35 percent.
The central bank's latest move on statutory reserves, announced at a meeting
with bankers yesterday, has sparked debate on what message governor Gideon
Gono could be sending to the market ahead of his monetary policy statement.
The market has been split on how Gono could treat rates in his next
statement, with the withdrawal and quick reintroduction of 91-day Treasury
Bills having confused the markets.
At his last meeting with bankers in April, a hawkish Gono said he would
"continue to maintain a tight monetary policy stance, characterised by
maintenance of positive real interest rates and short money market
However, after inflation slowed by 8.9 percent to 1184.6 in June, observers
believe he could be tempted to ease his tight grip on monetary policy, while
others argue that he could even tighten it further given that the inflation
outlook remains poor despite the largely unexpected June slowdown.
The uncertainty has seen many investors trading cautiously. The Zimbabwe
Stock Exchange (ZSE) was marginally higher yesterday, stemming Tuesday's
steep losses to climb back above the 70 million-point mark.
"The market had been oversold, and this has been a correction," said
Donaldson Mandishora, analyst at ZABG. Mandishora however said the market
was virtually devoid of new buying orders, as investors hug the sidelines
ahead of the policy statement.
ZIMBABWE'S main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai will today hold
discussions with Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) chairman and
Botswana President, Festus Mogae, to urge the regional body to refocus on
the crisis in Zimbabwe. The opposition says the mediation efforts of former
Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa are just a ruse by the government to
divert attention from a mounting economic and political crisis in Zimbabwe.
With SADC heads of state converging in Maseru, Lesotho, on August 17, the
Tsvangirai camp said yesterday it was worried President Robert Mugabe wanted
to sell SADC leaders a political dummy through the much publicised Mkapa
mediation initiative expected to be tabled at next month's summit.
Instead, the anti-senate MDC, which analysts say has been weakened by the
October 12 fallout, would table the roadmap it intends implementing to end
Zimbabwe's political and economic crisis.
The roadmap, launched about two months ago, includes a call for an
all-stakeholders constitutional conference, the drafting of a new
people-driven constitution and the staging of free and fair elections under
"President Tsvangirai is meeting with SADC chair President Mogae of Botswana
in Gaborone to try to mobilise and galvanise regional solidarity on the
crisis in Zimbabwe, particularly considering the state of the nation and the
continued escalation of the crisis," Nelson Chamisa, the spokesman of the
Tsvangirai-led faction of the MDC, told The Financial Gazette.
"We want to put the political crisis in Zimbabwe into its proper
perspective. You are aware in the past there has been some misrepresentation
and mischaracterisations of the crisis that it is about a bilateral dispute
with Britain. Mr Tsvangirai will use this meeting with President Mogae to
try to clarify these misrepresentations. This will then bring the president
to discuss the Mkapa mediation issue and present the view of the party,
particularly where the problem is located," said Chamisa.
"There is a general consensus within the party that the Mkapa issue is an
escape route for Mugabe and ZANU PF to try and run away from the actual
problem which is a crisis of governance, leadership betrayal and a
dictatorship," he added.
President Mugabe appointed Mkapa to mediate in the crisis between London and
Harare, effectively railroading efforts by United Nations Secretary General
Kofi Annan to personally interfere in the Zimbabwean crisis.
Annan, who has in the past not hesitated to blast Harare over its alleged
excesses, has endorsed the Mkapa project, putting an end to earlier
proposals by him to visit Zimbabwe although diplomats insist the UN chief is
pulling strings behind the scenes.
Information obtained by The Financial Gazette yesterday indicates that
Tsvangirai - whose main camp of the faction-riddled Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) has designed a continental diplomatic offensive dubbed the Save
Our Country Campaign - was scheduled to leave Harare this morning
accompanied by his deputy, Thoko Khupe, deputy national organising secretary
Lovemore Moyo and Elphas Mukonoweshuro, the camp's secretary for
Although Zimbabwe has dispatched its own envoys to lobby SADC leaders to
support the Mkapa project, diplomats that spoke to this newspaper said they
were still in the dark about the former Tanzanian leader's terms of
reference and agenda.
President Mugabe is expected to officially announce Mkapa's appointment at
the Maseru summit where the issue of funding of the project will also be
The SADC secretariat this week said it was yet to draft the agenda of the
August 17 summit.
IT is now official. Zimbabwe faces yet another costly wheat deficit of
almost 170 000 tonnes, despite trillions of dollars in inputs and subsidies
having been channelled into this winter's crop. Economic Development
Minister Rugare Gumbo, who led a high-level cabinet team that scoured the
country to review wheat production, has revealed that only 53 percent of the
targeted 109 367 hectares has been cultivated, raising the spectre of huge
"From the current reports of the Validation Exercise of the 2006 winter
wheat programme, information gathered from the eight provinces indicates
that the area planted is 53 percent of the targeted hectarage. Of the total
targeted hectarage of 109 367 hectares, 57 835,8 hectares have been planted
in the eight provinces. In terms of land preparation, a total of 62 298,85
hectares have been prepared.
Figures also show that almost a third of the land was put under wheat by the
private sector (12 000 hectares) and the military (just over 5 000 hectares
under "Operation Maguta").
"Given these statistics and this trend, total production will be about 218
046 metric tons. This implies a deficit of 164 954 metric tons, which the
country has to import," Gumbo revealed in a consolidated report of the
ministerial monitoring teams.
Zimbabwe's annual wheat consumption is estimated in the 400 000-420 000
tonne range, although Gumbo's statistics suggest a lower requirement of 383
Indications are that this year's yield is smaller than the previous year's,
a fact which should worry those in charge of agricultural planning in this
country, but is certainly not a surprise to many who have always viewed
official projections with suspicion.
As late as last month, government officials still insisted 110 000 hectares
would be put under wheat, despite warnings from the three farmers' groups -
the Commercial Farmers Union, Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers' Union and the
Zimbabwe Farmers Union - that only half that was attainable. In late May,
Gumbo told a Parliamentary Portfolio committee that "at least 80 000
hectares" had, by then, been put under wheat, adding he was still optimistic
the target would be met.
In his report, Gumbo cites the critical shortage of ammonium nitrate at a
time when 80 percent of the wheat needed to be top dressed, the shortage of
equipment, labour problems, erratic fuel supplies, limited technical support
and frequent power outages.
Indeed, the disparity between the land prepared, 62 298,85 hectares, and the
area that was actually planted, 57 835,8 hectares, while appearing
insignificant, can be attributed to the dearth of inputs.
That, however, is only part of the problem. The huge incentives and
subsidies extended by government have, in a perverse way, actually served to
The government, through the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe (NOCZIM), sells
fuel to farmers at $11 000 per litre, a hugely discounted price from the
average $420 000 pump price.
This creates a huge arbitrage opportunity some of Zimbabwe's newest farmers
can scarcely resist. Earlier in the year, several ruling party officials in
Manicaland were hauled before the courts for abusing the fuel facility in a
case that is clearly indicative of a widespread malady.
As the nation once again counts the cost of the disruption of commercial
agriculture and gets ready to face more bread shortages as a result of the
wheat deficit, questions will remain as to whether the government's subsidy
policy can work to revive an industry which, in another of the government's
optimistic projections, should grow by 14 percent this year.
Top of the bill, of course is $3.25 trillion in ASPEF funds, an additional
$250 billion advanced by Agribank, US$6.5 million advanced to fertiliser
firms by the central bank and US$40 million for the importation of inputs.
Discount the costs of having 'high-level' ministerial teams criss-crossing
the country to assess how much wheat had been planted.
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe's blistering condemnation of the violence that
recently rocked the faction-riddled Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has
raised fears of a crack-down on the main opposition party.
Addressing ZANU PF's 66th Ordinary Session of the Central Committee,
President Mugabe said violence in the MDC
needed to be nipped in the bud.
"MDC violence and brutal behaviour is an evil we just have to remove from
our body politic. We can't continue to have it and they must get a warning.
No party that is dedicated to violence should be allowed to exist in
Zimbabwe. It is this violence to which we have always striven to draw the
attention of our detractors and which lies deep and inherent in the MDC,"
President Mugabe said.
He was commenting on the assault of Harare North legislator Trudy Stevenson
early this month by assailants thought to be linked to Morgan Tsvangirai's
faction of the split opposition party.
President Mugabe added: "Now our detractors have come face to face with acts
of the monster they sired, raised and pampered and yet they are either
silent or equivocating about it in their characteristic hypocritical manner.
Their behaviour is part of the hypocrisy and double standards we have come
to associate with the MDC's European godfathers, so comfortable with lies."
However, some political analysts said President Mugabe's statement could be
interpreted by the less sophisticated in ZANU PF to mean that the opposition
has to be eliminated.
But they say government would find it difficult to ban the main opposition
party, as the country was not in a state of emergency.
"This is a careless statement which could be taken seriously by zealots to
mean the MDC is banned," said Takura Zhangazha, a political commentator
based in Harare. "The MDC is too big a political entity to be ignored or
banned at this time in Zimbabwe. But the statement shows ZANU PF still
thinks it is the only party," said Zhangazha. "The history of political
violence in this country can well be traced to ZANU PF. It is the party that
needs to be lectured on the subject."
Although European countries and the United States have condemned the assault
on Stevenson and four others of the Mutambara faction, they however, have
attributed the prevalence of political violence in Zimbabwe to ZANU PF.
NOW, even the computers are having trouble making sense of all those zeros.
Some 72 representatives from commercial banks and the central bank have met
to discuss the hard time their computers are having reading the zeros on
Apparently, software - obviously written for normal economies - is now
failing to handle "transactions amounting to trillions and therefore
creating an urgent need for a solution", according to minutes of the meeting
seen by The Financial Gazette.
The meeting, held last Wednesday, considered three options to get around the
problem; increase the maximum number of digits allowed by systems, or
increase the field size so that large amounts can be handled; remove the two
decimal places in the amount field; or reduce the number of zeros in the
amount field: drop zeros, effectively dividing all values by the same
One representative said his bank's software suppliers had said they would
not change their systems to accommodate more zeroes. "He went on to say the
current cost estimate given by their supplier is US$300 000 and this is
The meeting also heard that software suppliers are not keen to change their
entire systems and programs just to accommodate users from Zimbabwe as it
does not make any business sense for them.
ZIMBABWE police yesterday arrested two journalists who were covering a
demonstration against the extension of the term of office of the commission
running the city of Harare. Ndamu Sandu, a senior reporter with The
Standard, and Godwin Mangudya, a journalist with the banned Daily News, were
rounded up in the capital alongside 17 demonstrators protesting the
deteriorating service delivery and calling for fresh elections in the
The protestors, mobilised by the Combined Harare Residents (CHRA), were
gathering at Town House building when riot police arrived and broke up the
crowd. The demonstrators had marched to Town House to deliver a petition
calling for the ouster of Sekesayi Makwavarara and condemning the extension
of the tenure of the commission running the city of Harare.
SO why does a government that loves to cloak itself in the national flag
believe that the future of Zimbabweans hinges on Britain "accepting that we
are a sovereign state"?
President Robert Mugabe's administration, which waves the patriotic flag
each time criticism of its management goes up a notch, has accepted Benjamin
Mkapa as a mediator in its "bilateral" dispute with Britain.
With most Zimbabweans wondering what that mediation is all about, government
spokesman George Charamba told The Financial Gazette this week that the
much-hyped Mkapa mediation will have the primary aim of getting the former
colonial ruler to accept that Zimbabwe is a sovereign and independent
"What we want to negotiate for is the recognition of Zimbabwe's sovereignty
by Britain," Charamba said.
The obvious follow-up question is why Zimba-bwe, this self-proclaimed last
fortress of anti-imperialist struggle, is still obsessed with getting
Britain to accept its sovereignty, 26 years on?
It is because it is interfering in the internal affairs of Zimbabwe,
government says, encouraging its European partners to slap sanctions on the
country. And, at least according to President Robert Mugabe, the British
have been - pirate Black Beard style - hijacking oil ships on the high seas
and turning them away from Zimbabwe.
Britain, government officials say, is therefore the cause of Zimbabwe's
troubles, and it is therefore, natural that it is Britain that must clean up
The crisis has nothing to do with ZANU PF types "farming" their $11 000 per
litre fuel on the black market or patchwork policy that appears designed for
no other purpose than to scare everyone away.
To charges by critics such as the French and cleric Trevor Manhanga that
government needs to first build bridges with its own people at home before
trying to get all chummy with the British, Charamba had a characteristically
"But mediation between government and the people is done through the ballot
So, the belief is that once the British accept that Zimbabwe is after all an
independent country, "able to chart its own future", inflation will slide
towards single digits, and ordinary Zimbabweans will once again know what it
is like to live in a normal country.
Makes patriots wonder, then, whether Zimbabwe has moved on in the past 26
years, or whether it has thrown itself right back to Lancaster 1979 - still
arguing that the country cannot live until Britain allows it to breathe.
These are tough times for patriots: the future of their country is now
suddenly in the hands of Britain, the great imperialist herself. Tony Blair
must drop all he's doing now - and the poor man has got a lot on his plate -
so that he can attend to the all-important duty of dishing out sovereignty
to Zimbabwe as a way of solving all its problems. Whatever happened to
"Blair, you keep your England and I'll keep my Zimbabwe"?
It's normal that politicians everywhere publicly blame others for their
problems. But it gets scary when politicians appear to actually believe what
they say, as increasingly appears to be the case in Zimbabwe.
Gondo Gushungo TO Zimbabweans the sincerity, commitment and political will
of President Robert Mugabe's government to rid the country of corruption
remains highly debatable. That is why the government has not won any
plaudits for their much-vaunted anti-corruption drive. But to a visitor from
Mars, President Mugabe easily passes for someone who takes umbrage at
corruption, if only his public statements and their elaborate tones are
anything to go by.
And when in early 2004 he controversially amended the Criminal Procedure and
Evidence Act under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures Act)
ostensibly to deal with pervasive and cancerous corruption, many thought the
revving was over and the gears were about to engage. Indeed, this move was
interpreted by some to mean that this was a tacit admission by government
that the pendulum had swung too far the other way insofar as corruption was
concerned. The country was at that time unflatteringly perched up there
alongside Venezuela, Honduras, Uzbekistan, Ethiopia, the DRC, Sierra Leone
and Moldova, among the most corrupt countries in the world.
But it also raised a furore, especially within legal circles. Critics in the
legal fraternity were of the view that in this case, the provisions of an
emergency law were being used for a non-emergency case because the culture
of corruption had been institutionalised in Zimbabwe for close to a quarter
of a century. Their view was that since Zimbabwe is supposed to be a
constitutional democracy, the wrong arm of government was making the law. To
them, there was more to it than just meets the eye.
But government insisted that this was the only way to decisively deal with
corruption. However, despite the hype, nothing much happened. It has been
anticlimactic, to say the very least. The grand total of legal charges
brought against the corruption-accused has been negligible. And what has
been the upshot of it all? People no longer have any high hopes for the
government putting a stop to corruption. The longer they waited, the less
they hoped. This has given credence to observations that government just
pays lip service to the idea of lowering the boom on corruption. But it
lacks the political will and commitment. In reality there are red lines the
government will not dare cross in dealing with corruption, probably to keep
the lid on the political dimension of the scourge.
The negative sentiment on government sincerity and commitment to deal with
corruption has not changed much. True, only last week, President Mugabe
publicly rebuked and admonished his ZANU PF colleagues for corruption but
this did not cut the ice with the critics. And they are not holding their
breath. To them, the curtains will, just like before, come down before the
theatre even begins!
If anything, President Mugabe's tongue-lashing against the corrupt in ZANU
PF raised the same old questions that have been asked time without number,
which questions are born of healthy scepticism among Zimbabweans. The
questions - chief of which is how far will government go this time around -
always reach a dead end when they are followed up? Even as the President
issued threats to deal with those implicated in corrupt practices, the video
footage showed that ZANU PF's corrupt officials who have been wallowing in
corruption like rhinoceroses in the muddy pools of the Hwange National Park
were unfazed, seemingly daring him to act. What is the big deal? The bark
has been more ferocious than the bite anyway. There would be no lucid
expose` or indictments. That is why they, for example, have reduced the
agrarian reform exercise into a senseless land grab orgy with impunity in
spite of government's publicly stated policy of one-man-one farm.
Their source of comfort seems to be the fact that despite the empty rhetoric
from the powers-that-be, the extent to which government will deal with
corruption will very much be determined by the stature, status and possibly
political party affiliation of the culprits. Evidence abounds where in the
past, the long arm of the law has tended to go for the proverbial hares
while avoiding the elephants. It would be naive to read too much into the
arrest of Chris Kuruneri in 2004. He is, to all intents and purposes, a
political lightweight with no clout and can therefore be used as a
sacrificial lamb to placate a public agitating for strong measures against
If all the other cases - such as the abuse of the VIP Housing Scheme, the
War Victims Compensation Fund, the multiple farm ownership, the abuse of
US$268 million by dubious fuel dealers and the ongoing looting of minerals
and farm equipment where trillions of dollars have silted up the pockets of
a corrupt few - are now being treated as water under the bridge, or as if
they never happened, what has changed now? Is there anything fundamentally
different between the corruption committed then and now?
I make my case by reference to facts. As can be gleaned from press reports,
prominent political figures and their cronies were tarred with allegations
that they abused the facilities cited above. But what the government knows
about this abuse remains largely off the public record. Why doesn't the
government adopt a punitive name and shame approach? Why keep a lid on the
identity of the culprits? Is it because influential senior ZANU PF
politicians are implicated in this corruption which has been feeding from
the country's deeply-rooted political patronage system? In which case,
government would therefore rather turn a blind eye than pursue the
anti-corruption drive to its full expression which it sees as a double-edged
sword that would raise the ire of the enemy within just as the matador's red
flag would get the bull raging. Already, speculation is swirling about how
the toothless, ineffective but expensive anti-corruption commission is being
prohibited from looking into sensitive cases that are proving to be
politically sticky. How then does government hope to promote public sector
accountability and transparency and serve that specific public interest by
exposing waste, fraud, abuse and criminal activity? Or are we supposed to
believe that the identifiable harm to ZANU PF of such a lucid expose`
outweighs the public interest?
These are the questions whose answers are not very obvious because
government's inaction over these burning issues has not only been
extraordinary but extremely perplexing too and hence a cause for grave
concern. And this is why the government's anti-corruption drive, for which
there is very little to show, is widely seen as window-dressing for the
public's benefit amid an outcry over the festering cancer of corruption in
I hope that President Mugabe himself sees the justice of it all as to why
critics say it will take an incredible leap of faith for Zimbabweans to
believe that his government will ever up the ante in its half-hearted fight
The truth of the matter is that the President, who in all fairness should be
blamed for failing to recognise promptly how corrupt his colleagues are, can
talk himself hoarse about how damaging corruption is to the country. But it's
like talking to a brick wall. His colleagues in ZANU PF are so remorseless
and self-centred that for them there is no limit to greed, no shackles on
avarice and no end to cupidity, if only Maxwell Newton's words can help me
say it like it is.
We are talking about the kind of people whose integrity former editor of The
Atlantic, Robert Manning said would fit into the navel of a flea and there
would be room left for a caraway seed and his heart. Thus President Mugabe
has to realise that the old adage that actions speak louder than words holds
true today as it did centuries ago. He has just said all there is to say
about the sickening corruption of his colleagues. And it's now time to act,
failure of which Zimbabwe remains very much unimpressed. This is a case
where the President should never put off to tomorrow what should have been
- email: firstname.lastname@example.org
COMMENTING on the effectiveness of the proposed African Court on Human and
Peoples' Rights, African Union (AU) Commissioner for Political Affairs,
Julia Joiner, is reported to have told journalists: "This court will
strengthen jurisprudence and contribute to the promotion and protection of
human rights in the continent."
She was speaking at the end of the AU summit held in the Gambian capital,
Banjul, about two weeks ago, during which the assembled heads of state
resolved to establish the court, which is to be based in Tanzania.
The AU leaders were galvanised into acting to speed up the establishment of
the court, first mooted in 1998, because of their anxiety to ensure that
'African solutions' are applied to deal with cases such as that of Hissene
Habre, the former president of Chad. Habre, who has lived in exile in
Senegal for the last six years, has been accused of human rights abuses,
mass killings, torture and other atrocities during his term in office, which
ended when he was overthrown in a coup in 1990.
After the courts in Senegal declared their lack of jurisdiction to try
Habre, his alleged victims turned to Belgium, which has a universal
jurisdiction law allowing its courts to try human rights offenders anywhere.
The AU is, however, opposed to the move because the heads of state believe
western courts are biased - a curious charge considering that it is not
based on any precedent of a leader from Africa having been falsely accused
A panel set up by the AU to decide Habre's fate after Belgium asked for his
extradition has said it opposes "total impunity" for the former strongman -
suggesting that some immunity will be acceptable. The panel recommended that
Habre could stand trial in Chad or Senegal or appear before an ad-hoc
tribunal anywhere in Africa. Another option is that he could be summoned to
a court hearing by any of the 45 countries in Africa that are signatories to
the convention against torture.
In expressing confidence that the AU court would fulfill its mandate, Joiner
said, "It means you have another level where states and people can seek
recourse before the African Commission on Peoples' Rights (ACHPR) and
prosecutions can be made, not just judgments and resolutions." However, the
inertia and collusion of African leaders in the past when they should have
dealt decisively with reports on human rights abuses in given countries does
not give ordinary Africans reason to believe that things will be any
different under the proposed new dispensation.
A case in point is the report on the human rights situation in Zimbabwe
which the AU has aggressively and persistently refused to discuss for one
unconvincing reason or another over the past four years. The report was
compiled by an ACHPR delegation headed by Professor Jinaiba Johm of Gambia,
which undertook a fact-finding mission to Zimbabwe in 2002.
On his return from the AU summit in Gambia a fortnight ago, Zimbabwe's
Foreign Minister, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, waxed lyrical about the victory
the government had scored in Banjul. In an interview with Zimbabwe
Broadcasting Holdings chief correspondent, Reuben Barwe, Mumbengegwi could
hardly conceal his satisfaction as he responded to fawning leading questions
posed by Barwe about what had happened to the ACHPR report. Mumbengegwi said
Zimbabwe had effectively dealt with the matter and it was now dead for good.
Mumbengegwi, who used to be Zimbabwe's ambassador to Britain, inherited the
issue of the ACHPR report from Stan Mudenge, whom he succeeded as foreign
minister last year. Mudenge was equally proud of how he had succeeded in
blocking the tabling of the report at various forums where it should have
been debated openly. Every trick in the book was used to prevent the report
from seeing the light of day.
The subterfuge included at one stage a claim that the ACHPR report was sent
to the wrong address in Harare - the Ministry of Justice and Parliamentary
Affairs - and therefore the government had not "seen" it. At last year's AU
summit in Khartoum, it was announced the Council of Ministers had thrown the
report out because, among other things, it resembled versions that had been
submitted on other occasions.
It is therefore a slap in the face for ordinary Zimbabweans for the minister
to exude a sense of achievement for having blocked their voices from being
heard by a continental body that is supposed to be working to ensure justice
and a better life for all.
Mumbengegwi would have been entitled to be pleased with himself if after
exhaustive and open discussion of the ACHPR report, the AU had exonerated
Zimbabwe and shown that it was being falsely accused of violating human
rights, muzzling the press and crushing dissent. That Mumbengegwi is proud
that the government was allowed to deny the people of Zimbabwe the right to
seek redress through the AU does not inspire confidence in the new set up.
The government of Zimbabwe has indicted itself by displaying the same
aversion to scrutiny and intolerance for divergent views at the continental
level that it has been accused of at home. Under normal circumstances,
Zimbabwe's antics in forestalling AU scrutiny of its controversial conduct
with respect to Operation Murambatsvina and alleged human rights violations
should have made the continental body more determined to get to the bottom
of these matters.
But alas, the AU heads of state have been over-eager to let the Zimbabwean
government off the hook. Rather than using the AU platform to facilitate the
tackling of issues affecting ordinary people continent-wide, the leaders
continue to regard the organisation as a personal fiefdom existing solely to
serve their interests by granting each other immunity for acts of tyranny
against their own people.
In view of the fact that reports such as the one on the human rights
situation in Zimbabwe could not even clear the first hurdle, - its tabling
before the heads of state - it is difficult to see how the proposed AU court
can be effective when the attempts of ordinary Africans to seek redress are
thwarted by the very leaders at whom accusing fingers are pointed. As far as
these heads of state are concerned, African justice and solutions are
euphemisms for impunity, collusion and covering up for each other. The
western bias they have complained about is not against ordinary Africans but
tyrants guilty of genocide, war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other
Things fall apart
ZIMBABWE is now beginning to count the cost of the destruction of commercial
agriculture through a badly managed and rushed-for-political-expediency land
Agriculture, once the mainstay of the economy is, for want of a better
expression, going to hell in a handcart. Nothing seems to be falling in
place in the key sector. It is hard to believe that this is the engine that
once powered the erstwhile reassuringly resilient economy. As we pointed out
in our leader of last week, the government's much-vaunted radical land
reform exercise was a prelude to economic disaster. Thus the law of the
unintended has taken hold. We have our reasons for saying so.
The very unreliable Ministry of Agriculture headed by Joseph Made earlier on
claimed that A1 and A2 farmers would put two million hectares under maize in
the 2005/2006 season which could have produced a surplus to national
requirements. Hell's bells, the country, which by March this year had forked
out US$135 million to finance grain imports, faces yet another deficit for
the staple maize!
No less than four independent and credible bodies - the Food and Agriculture
Organisation, the European Space Agency's Global Monitoring for Food
Security Project, the United States Department of Agriculture and FEWSNET -
have all disputed the maize forecasts by the government which seems to guess
the facts about the situation without enough information.
The four organisations are forecasting a yield of between 900 000 and 1.1
million tonnes of the staple crop, well below the projections by government,
which has hardly been a credible source of information where forecasts on
food production are concerned. This means that Zimbabwe will need at least
U$35 million ($15 trillion on the black market) to import maize to make up
for the deficit at a time when foreign currency is coming into the country
in dribs and drabs.
The independent organisations blamed this scenario on sub-optimal
utilisation of land resulting from shortages of critical inputs spawned
largely by a biting foreign exchange crunch. Added to this, most of the "new
farmers" to whom the government dished out farms like confetti have neither
the financial wherewithal nor the farming expertise.
Not only that, but in a rare moment of truth, the government which - for
political reasons has previously lied to the dregs of infamy about the
country's food security situation and usually has a conniption fit over any
talk of a failed harvest - last week begrudgingly admitted that the country
has once again failed to produce enough wheat to meet national requirements.
According to figures provided by Economic Development Minister, Rugare
Gumbo, Zimbabwe will have to import close to 170 000 tonnes of wheat.
The sad story does not end there. The country's erstwhile premier export
earner, tobacco, geared for the unmanufactured international leaf market, is
to all intents and purposes teetering on the verge of collapse. Tobacco
production for this year is just about 45 million kg - a mere 18 percent of
its pre-crisis levels when the country produced 250 million kg in 1999. That
was when tobacco, then known as "the golden leaf" earned upwards of US$700
million even when prices on the international market were relatively soft
due to a rise in the global supply of tobacco.
The terrifying decline in the production of the three crops cited above is a
microcosm of falling production in agriculture in general. The same can be
said of beef, which had a reputation for quality and was previously in great
demand on the lucrative EU market, horticulture which at one time was the
fastest growing sub-sector and dairy to mention but a few.
It is disappointing. But it was not unexpected given the chaotic nature of
the agrarian reforms. This is why critics say that the unfolding crisis in
the agricultural sector which has in turn accelerated the unprecedented
economic meltdown reads more like a chronicle of a catastrophe foretold. Not
only is Zimbabwe, the regional breadbasket-turned-basket case failing to
feed itself but it now risks losing its traditional export markets for
commodities such as beef, horticulture and tobacco, which was in demand from
international cigarette manufacturers for blending purposes.
We said it before and we will say it again. International businesses need
guaranteed supply because they are in for the long haul. They do not buy
these commodities on an ad hoc basis. And given what is happening in
Zimbabwean agriculture right now, there is a real danger of them looking
elsewhere for fear of being caught flat-footed in the event of local
agriculture collapsing. That it is a matter of prudence for any business
that supplies of raw materials or even finished products be constantly
reliable, cannot be over-emphasised. These businesses cannot risk
disruptions in their operations because of the Zimbabwean drag.
NATIONAL Security, Lands and Land Reform and Resettlement Minister, Didymus
Mutasa admitted at the weekend that his ministry's attempt to evict Bulawayo
businessman Langton Masunda from land previously allocated to him so as to
make way for a senior government official to take over the property was
Mutasa said the ministry had used the wrong procedure to nullify an offer
letter given to Masunda in 2002 authorising him to take over a hunting
concession and Jijima Lodge in Matabeleland North. Mutasa conceded that an
error had been made and promised that the situation would be rectified only
after a high court judge had ruled in the businessman's favour a second
time. This was after Masunda had filed an urgent court application
challenging the decision to kick him out of the lucrative concern to make
way for Speaker of Parliament, John Nkomo. Justice Francis Bere's ruling,
dated July 7, ordered Masunda's reinstatement "in his occupation and use of
land he was allocated by Cde Mutasa and to his occupation of Jijima Lodge
and its environs."
Mutasa withdrew Masunda's original offer letter on June 7 on the pretext
that he was hunting on the property without following procedures. And
despite a ruling by another high court judge, Justice Nicholas Ndou for
Nkomo and his agents to stop interfering with Masunda's operations, Mutasa
persisted in ordering his eviction in defiance of the court ruling. "Please
be advised that the Minster of State for National Security, Lands and Land
Reform and Resettlement in the President's Office is withdrawing the offer
of land made to you. You are required forthwith to cease all or any
operations that you may have commenced thereon and immediately vacate the
piece of land", said Mutasa's letter to the businessman.
The timing of Mutasa's latest comments about the Masunda case is
interesting. His statement was made last Friday, the same day President
Robert Mugabe blasted ZANU PF bigwigs for abusing their authority to amass
wealth and properties corruptly and unfairly. The President castigated these
greedy chefs while addressing a meeting of the ruling party's central
committee in Harare when for the first time he used the combative and
disparaging "Pasi nemi" (down with you) slogan that he normally reserves for
the opposition and other politically undesirable elements, against members
of his own party.
He launched into a scathing attack on high-ranking officials who were
evicting ordinary people from farms and those who threw their weight around
to demand first preference when business stands or houses built under
Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle were allocated. The President warned, "We
shall now be bound to have a campaign of cleansing the central committee."
Most cynical Zimbabweans must have retorted "too little, too late," because
corruption has been left for too long to permeate every facet of public
life. The stony-faced silence that greeted the head of state's
podium-thumbing indignation was a dead giveaway that even his normally
sycophantic and vociferous supporters knew it was pointless to threaten to
close the door long after the horse has bolted.
The wrangle between Masunda and the Speaker of Parliament over ownership of
the hunting concession had raged since last year when Nkomo first instituted
moves to have Masunda kicked out. Claiming he had 'lost' an original offer
letter issued in 2003 when he was in charge of land distribution, Nkomo now
produced a letter dated September 2005 signed by Mutasa to justify the
ejection of Masunda after three years on the property. The case highlights
the reasons why the chaotic atmosphere besetting the agricultural sector is
unlikely to improve any time soon so that normal productivity can be
The most glaring is the hypocrisy and greed of the leadership. Mutasa and
Nkomo's vindictiveness in ganging up against Masunda, is not reflective of
principled senior ruling party officials anxious to promote the success of
the land reform programme for the benefit of the generality of the people.
Their actions are not in any way influenced by patriotic or revolutionary
zeal but by a desire for self-aggrandizement. Mutasa in particular cannot
hope to preside over the successful completion of an orderly land
redistribution exercise when he is at the forefront in sabotaging its
progress by abusing his ministerial position to accede to the under-handed
demands of those wishing to reap where they did not sow. All a chef who
covets a successful concern run by a hard-working individual or group has to
do is to get an offer letter from Mutasa and hey presto, the ordinary person
who has toiled all season is bumped off and the big fish claims the harvest.
The Masunda case is not the first in which Mutasa has failed to act firmly
and fairly and has instead chosen to collude with fellow chefs to corruptly
eject individuals already operating on thriving farms. Last year, Midlands
Governor Cephas Msipa took over Cheshire Farm in Gweru after "surrendering"
an offer letter which entitled him to another farm in Zvishavane and getting
a fresh document from Mutasa. Commenting on the turn of events, the former
owner of Cheshire Farm, Graham Ingle said, "I told them that I don't think
that a system which allows government to dispossess people of their farms
willy-nilly is good for business or investment."
Recently, the press reported on another dispute in which some war veterans
lost billions of dollars worth of crops they had toiled to cultivate because
Higher Education Minister Stan Mudenge secured an offer letter from Mutasa
for their land as the former fighters prepared for the season's harvest.
What will Mutasa do to rectify this and other anomalies that have resulted
from his belated dishing out of offer letters to people who are attracted to
certain farms by the size of the homestead, the equipment and infrastructure
available and ready-to-harvest crops?
It is pertinent to ask if Mutasa would have seen anything wrong with the
unfair treatment of Masunda for the benefit of Nkomo if the President had
not attacked such practices at the central committee meeting. The answer is
no and sadly it applies to the way the majority of those in government
ZIMBABWE'S state-run broadcaster, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings (ZBH), this
week embarked on a countrywide licence blitz on defaulting viewers and
listeners in a desperate bid to enhance its depleted revenue base.
Faced with empty coffers, the loss-making broadcaster began sending teams of
inspectors accompanied by members of the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP), on
a countrywide radio and television licence inspection.
In Harare the joint crack teams were deployed in the high-density suburbs of
Highfield, Glen View, Glen Norah and Budiriro while in Bulawayo they are on
the prowl in Cowdray Park, Pumula, Mpopoma and Luveve.
ZBH says the crackdown will later spread to other areas as it aims to
collect enough revenue to finance its operations by forcing viewers and
listeners to sign up to its lacklustre service.
The discredited state broadcaster has for a long time been facing cash flow
and viability problems due to inefficient revenue collection methods.
A number of senior journalists and radio presenters have left the national
broadcaster citing poor salaries and deteriorating working conditions and
more are contemplating leaving.
Because of poor programming, ZBH has been losing its audience to foreign
The national broadcaster, which enjoys a monopoly of the airwaves also risks
falling foul of the Iranian financiers of its digitalisation project due to
problems in the amortisation of a five million euro ($655 billion at the
official rate) loan advanced by Tehran.
To date only Zimbabwe Television (ZTV), Newsnet and Power FM have been
digitalised, while SFM, Radio Zimbabwe and national FM are yet to be
An ambitious project to launch another television station, National
Television (NTV) was abandoned due to lack of funding.
Presently, the Ministry of Information and Publicity headed by acting
Minister Paul Mangwana, who was appointed following the death of the then
Minister Tichaona Jokonya says it will 'soon' unveil a leaner set-up at the
state broadcaster whose bloated structure of nine companies was dissolved
and merged into two companies in June to restore viability to the ailing
(THE GEOFF NYAROTA COLUMN
"WHEN you see an owl flying in broad daylight," the celebrated Nigerian
writer, Chinua Achebe, opines in his famous Things Fall Apart, "you know
something is after its life."
When a series of unusual events occur in quick succession, chances are that
certain prodigious happenings are either under way or are about to take
place. A fine example of such an unusual event would be the sudden
acquisition of an impeccable command of the Queen of England's language by
an otherwise semi-literate Harare municipal policeman-turned-politician.
Hard in the wake of that most regrettable and mind-boggling incident, the
violent attack in Mabvuku on opposition politician Trudy Stevenson, the
Member of Parliament for Harare North, a series of strange events occurred.
Stevenson immediately identified her alleged assailants by name. The MP for
Mabvuku, Timothy Mubawu of Morgan Tsvangirai's MDC was accused of having
organised the attack. This revelation was made at a press conference which
raised eyebrows on account of the speed with which it was organised,
considering the nature and extent of Stevenson's injuries. Professor Arthur
Mutambara's breakaway faction of the opposition MDC, the political
organisation to which she belongs, responded swiftly. Through statements
issued by secretary general Professor Welshman Ncube, considered by many to
be the de facto leader of the party, and Gabriel Chaibva, the secretary for
information, Tsvangirai was fingered as having orchestrated the dastardly
attack. Also fingered was MDC official Eddie Cross, who was accused of
having harboured some of the culprits in his Bulawayo home before they were
allegedly spirited out of the country and out of the reach of the long arm
of the law.
Not that the said long arm of the law was proving effective back in Harare,
where rather miraculously, those members and officials of the mainstream MDC
identified by Stevenson and duly exposed in the media as having attacked her
were allowed to remain at large for four days.
Meanwhile the case was publicly tried in The Herald and elsewhere. In the
process, the self-confessed Godfather of Jambanja or violence, Joseph
Chinotimba, one of the masterminds of the ferocious farm invasions which
left scores dead, hundreds either maimed or homeless and our economy in
total ruin, crafted a lengthy and eloquent statement which he caused to be
published in The Herald.
"Members of the European Union (EU), George W Bush and Tony Blair,"
Chinotimba waxed lyrical in his expressive treatise, "I would like to bring
to your attention the recent act of violence by the Tsvangirai-led MDC
faction that attacked the MDC legislator for Harare North constituency Trudy
Stevenson and four other high-ranking officials of the Mutambara faction for
allegedly turning against Tsvangirai.
"The recent violent acts by Tsvangirai's faction can at best be described as
barbaric and intolerant conduct and such attacks should be condemned with
all the admonition they deserve."
This cannot be the same Chinotimba who marched in front as war veterans not
only caused loss of life but also created total mayhem on the commercial
farms before he personally stormed the dignified chambers of former Chief
Justice Anthony Gubbay, causing him to resign almost immediately thereafter.
In his published statement Chinotimba assumed the mantle of chief justice
and hastily cast to the wind any question of the matter being sub-judice.
"It is apparent," he said, "that Stevenson was only exercising her right to
join a political party of her choice and Tsvangirai is denying her, her
Even Stevenson must have squirmed at this rather unexpected show of
solidarity from a person who is not exactly renowned for his respect for the
rule of law. Chinotimba's bone of contention was that neither Washington nor
London had criticised Tsvangirai for attacking Stevenson.
"Can we interpret this to mean that you are allowing whites to be attacked
by your 'good boy' in Zimbabwe?" he asked.
With this simple question, the now supposedly erudite Chinotimba unwittingly
gave away the whole plot. The prodigious length and rare eloquence of
Chinotimba's dissertation prompted speculation that the ruling ZANU PF party
had pooled all its linguistic and literary skills and resources to craft the
said critique. Tsvangirai may have to call a press conference to explain why
he rendered the task of his rivals so easy by orchestrating an attack on
Stevenson at a time when they were desperately hunting for evidence that he
was prone to violence.
The citizens of Zimbabwe do not want any politician with a disposition
towards violence to aspire to be President. If Tsvangirai is, indeed, a
violent person, as alleged, then he must be exposed. The focus of any police
or journalistic investigative work is the establishment of the motive for
any criminal or reprehensible conduct. Which political organisation stood to
benefit most from an attack assigned in broad daylight by Tsvangirai on a
frail white politician belonging to Prof Mutambara's breakaway faction of
Prior to Chinotimba's outburst ZANU PF has rarely been known to articulate
any principled condemnation of political violence. When thousands of
innocent and unarmed peasants were massacred by the Five Brigade in
Matabeleland and the Midlands ZANU PF did not protest. When MDC activists
Talent Mabika and Tichaona Chiminya were brutally murdered in broad daylight
in 2000 in full view of police officers at Murambinda in Buhera neither
Chinotimba nor ZANU PF uttered a word.
To date, Joseph Mwale, a CIO operative and Kainos Kitsiyatota Zimunya, a
ZANU PFelection campaign activist, the alleged perpetrators of the dastardly
act, have not been brought to book. When Macheke farmer, David Stevens was
killed in cold blood by war veterans in 2000, ZANU PF never expressed any
outrage. When Martin and Gloria Olds were brutally executed by war veterans
on their ranch in Bubi-Umguza in Matabeleland North in 2001 Chinotimba never
issued any statement. When former Gweru Mayor, Patrick Kombayi, was disabled
in a vicious attack by a CIO agent and a ZANU PF activist his attackers were
tried, found guilty and sentenced to prison terms. President Robert Mugabe
immediately pardoned them. Chinotimba was apparently still too illiterate to
pen any eloquent and effusive protest for publication in The Herald.
The Stevenson case highlights a remarkable deficiency of Zimbabwe's
present-day body-politic; an absence of professional police investigators,
as well as a total lack of a cadre of skilled and dedicated investigative
journalists to unravel such mysteries. There appears to be a new breed of
journalist in Zimbabwe whose professional creed is:
"Why allow logic and the facts to stand in the way of a damaging scoop." A
combination of too many unsophisticated politicians, especially within the
ranks of the opposition, and a rather gullible public at large compounds the
The simple-mindedness of politicians such as those who so very easily jump
to conclusions and instantly make public such conclusions has no place in
the Zimbabwe that we must build after Mugabe.
To place the issue of violence such as the recent attack on Stevenson in its
proper perspective it is necessary to take a trip back into the history of
political violence in post-independence Zimbabwe. In spearheading this
exercise my objective is to illustrate how ill-advised it is for observers
of acts of political violence to jump to instant conclusions in seeking to
identify the alleged perpetrators.
During the run-up to the first democratic elections leading to our
independence in 1980 the infamous Selous Scouts and other agents of Ian
Smith's Rhodesian Front regime mounted a relentless campaign to stage-manage
acts of violence in a bid to discredit Zanu-PF and its armed wing, Zanla, as
well as the organisation's leader, Robert Mugabe, just returned from years
of exile and struggle in Mozambique.
Because the ultra-efficient Rhodesian propaganda machinery had portrayed
Mugabe as a Marxist terrorist bent on destroying the Christian faith in
Zimbabwe after independence, the Selous Scouts mounted a campaign which
targeted Christian churches for attack.
Two operatives, Lieutenant Edward Piringondo of Mbare and Corporal Morgan
Moyo, blew themselves to smithereens when the explosives they carried in the
back seat of their car detonated prematurely as they approached St
Michaels's Church, Runyararo, in Mbare. An official Rhodesian security
forces communiqué announced, amid much official embarrassment, that two
Selous Scouts had died in action in Mbare. Mbare had not been the scene of
any military action during the just-ended war. The incident occurred, in any
case, at a time when all Rhodesian troops, as well as both Zanla and Zipra
guerillas were confined to their barracks or to the assembly camps,
respectively, in terms of the ceasefire agreement then in force.
Had the explosives destroyed St Michael's Church, as intended, with
Piringondo and Moyo making good their escape, Mugabe would never have been
able to convince anyone, least of all the local and international press that
Zanla had not been responsible for the attack on the church. The story would
have hit the headlines in Harare, London, Washington and elsewhere.
A similar masterpiece was hatched in the Midlands capital of Gweru, where a
fake issue of Moto newspaper hit the streets. The allegations published in
the fake issue in question against the Zanu-PF leader, Mugabe, were so
scandalously defamatory of him that I dare not repeat them in the columns of
a respected business and family weekly.
Under cover of darkness on that ill-fated night, two agents approached the
premises of Mambo Press, the publishers of the newspaper. They carried heavy
explosives in their car. The plot was to destroy the press that had printed
the newspaper that had made mincemeat of the Zanu-PF leader. No sane person
would have failed to jump to the conclusion that the enraged Zanu-PF leader
had commissioned the attack.
As fate would have it, just before the agents reached their target their
payload detonated prematurely. Both men died in the explosion. To the mortal
embarrassment of both the government and the security forces, one of the
deceased turned out to be a full-bloodied Selous Scout of Caucasian origin.
Had this particular mission succeeded, it most probably would have signalled
the end of Mugabe's political career and Zanu-PF might have lost the 1980
elections to either Dr Joshua Nkomo's PF-Zapu or Bishop Abel Muzorewa's
United African National Council (UANC).
Zanu-PF's alleged campaign of violence, as orchestrated by the Selous Scouts
in 1980, was not entirely without its moments of hilarity.
A bomb was planted outside the Roman Catholic Cathedral along Fourth Street
in Salisbury, as the capital city was then called. The device failed to
explode and was defused. Scattered at the scene were several posters which
bore the hastily scrawled legend: "Pamberi neMugabe", meaning "Hail Mugabe".
For some inexplicable reason, white Zimbabweans learning to speak the
indigenous Shona language have a problem distinguishing between the prefix
"ne-", which means "with an object" and the prefix "na-", meaning "with a
Even Joseph Chinotimba, with his severe handicap in terms of literary
skills, would never write such a grammatical aberration as "Pamberi
neMugabe." But for this tiny error in the execution of the plot Mugabe would
never have been able to explain his way out of an attack mounted on a church
by assailants who extolled his virtues in written posters deposited at the
scene of the crime.
In any case, by that time the majority of the Zimbabwean electorate, eager
to go to the polls for the first time in a free and fair atmosphere, had
become politically circumspect. They had learnt never to jump to conclusions
in trying to establish the identity of perpetrators of acts of political
violence. When the elections were held they voted overwhelmingly for
Zanu-PF, despite the massive propaganda mounted against the party in the
One cannot help but wonder whether the successors to the Selous Scouts in
the current Zimbabwean security establishment did not inherit some of these
stratagems that can befuddle gullible politicians and members of the public,
who have a tendency to jump to conclusions at the slightest excuse.
Saying of the Week
"It is a tragedy that this Mabvuku attack has enabled Zanu PF to point
fingers at the MDC." - Trudy Stevenson (New Zimbabwe.com, Monday July 17,
ONE lesson I have learned over the years but reinforced during my recent
sojourn in Banjul, The Gambia, is that the world does not owe anyone a
The world may and does help but in the final analysis it is the people of a
given country who have to help themselves. So it is with our crisis here in
Zimbabwe. None but ourselves can solve our own problems. It is just that
The pressing need for Zimbabweans to get their own house in order and not to
rely solely on outside forces was driven home to me and my colleague and
brother, Nyasha Nyakunu at the just-ended African Union (AU) Summit in
Banjul, The Gambia.
Two events in relation to the Zimbabwean tragedy stood out like sore thumbs:
President Robert Mugabe's meeting with UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and
the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) damning report
on Operation Murambatsvina and other human rights violations in this
Both events showed the extent to which continental and international
organisations such as the African Union and the United Nations are unable to
make decisions or take risks, their desire to keep everything as it is and
the refusal to confront reality. The tendency towards avoiding the truth
until the eleventh hour when there is bloodshed and the resulting crisis
management appears to be the hallmark of these organisations.
Take the meeting between President Mugabe and Secretary General Annan for
example. It was more of a chit-chat than a formal and serious meeting. It
took place in an open area where all and sundry were criss-crossing. Given
the acuteness of our crisis one would have thought that a room conducive to
serious discussions would have been found for the two leaders. But alas No!
The informal meeting lasted for no more than 40 minutes. President Mugabe
did most of the talking while the UN Secretary General was nodding his head
all the time. The atmosphere was undoubtedly very friendly. Nyasha and I
wondered what Annan was nodding to. Whether he was nodding approvingly or
politely-African style, we could not figure it out. But President Mugabe
seemed to be in charge of the show all the way.
In attendance on President Mugabe's side were of course his errand boys:
Foreign Affairs Minister Simbarashe Mumbengegwi, Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa, Central Intelligence Organisation director General Happyton
Bonyongwe, among one or two others. On the secretary general's side were UN
Under Secretary General, Ibrahim Gambari and one other official. None of the
officials spoke at this meeting, which bore all the hallmarks of being a
hurried and off-chance meeting.
The outcome of the meeting is now common knowledge. The outgoing UN boss is
no longer coming to Zimbabwe and former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa
is now the mediator between President Mugabe and Britain, as if the
Zimbabwean crisis is a bilateral dispute between the two countries when in
fact it is nothing of the sort. In closing the chapter that never was, Annan
said at his press conference:
"There is room for only one mediator in this matter and I will give time and
space for President Mkapa to do his job".
What a far cry from the excitement and hype that was created by the media
here in Zimbabwe and elsewhere before the Banjul Summit. Annan was seen as
the last hope to resolving the Zimbabwean crisis and now Mkapa is being
touted as a saviour of sorts in some circles. Such naivety on the part of
supposedly normal human beings boggles the mind. The lessons of failure of
Presidents Thabo Mbeki and Olusegun Obasanjo are completely lost in the
misplaced eagerness of Zimbabweans to clutch at any straw that is thrown
their way. May God convert us from such foolishness!
Have we been so mercilessly beaten by ZANU PF that we can no longer separate
hype and falsehoods from substance and reality? Has the situation become so
hopeless that we can no longer separate the chaff from the wheat? If that is
the case I suggest that we fall back on our African culture, which has
served us so well in the distant past.
When a member of the Shona and Ndebele people encounters a situation where
there appears to be no hope, he invokes the spirit of his ancestors for
their wisdom and strength to come to his aid. It could be we have long
resisted asking for our ancestors' guidance preferring national prayers
fearing that an appeal to the long departed might be taken for weakness and
backwardness. Perhaps we should come to understand this is not necessarily
The media is also to blame big time in our misplaced
optimism in the ability of international mediators to fix our problems. In
times of crisis like this we find ourselves in right now, there is always a
strong appetite for news, any new. Journalists, who by nature of their work
are at the forefront of the intelligentsia, who have clarity and super
literacy at their fingertips, must be careful always. When the media become
focused on a story like the Annan/ Mugabe story, we sometimes find ourselves
driving it, not just reporting it. We must be very careful and we must get
better at what we do. Essentially, we are dealing with African dictators who
are doing nothing but diverting the public's attention from real solutions.
The media therefore must be on its guard - always.
As media practitioners, we must always progress with the growing conviction
that the pen and the camera are indeed mightier than the sword. We must not
therefore dissipate our energies on the wrong things like the Mkapa
initiative as if it is going to provide the long awaited panacea to all our
ills. As a journalist of long standing myself, I just happen to know that
journalists say things they know are not true in the hope that if they keep
on saying it long enough, they will eventually become true! In many
instances, it is not always the case.
As pointed out earlier on, the Banjul Summit was also notable for the
holding back by the AU executive council of foreign ministers of the African
commission of Human and Peoples Rights report on the human rights situation
in Zimbabwe. For the umpteenth time, the damning report was never passed on
to the Heads of State and Government from the tables of the foreign
ministers. I doubt myself if the report will ever be tabled again at any
future AU summit - signalling once again the failure of African leaders to
rein in colleagues who violate human rights in there own countries.
Patrick Chinamasa gave a spirited defence of the indefensible in the
executive council of foreign ministers citing the usual mantras of legal
technicalities and requesting more time to comment despite the fact that the
same report was tabled at the previous summit in Khartoum, Sudan. In this he
was supported by other authoritarian and totalitarian regimes notably
Swaziland. Chinamasa and other African ministers went to the extent of
saying that the report was a product not of the African commission on Human
and People's Rights but of Amnesty International.
Identical sentences, phrases and words found in the Amnesty International
reports were given as examples. Poor chairperson of the ACHPR, she proved no
match for these African dictators- reflecting the need to strengthen this
commission in every way possible. At least she could have emphasised the
global human rights standards by which all governments the world over have
signed on and sworn to abide by.
Be that as it may, it was clear from the conversations that Nyasha Nyakunu
and I held with some of the African officials and their reading of our
materials we had distributed to the Summit that, in the heart of their
hearts, they were unhappy with the fact that Zimbabwe had once again escaped
the censure by the commission.
Perhaps this has to do with the fact that a number of African leaders have
something in common with our own dear leader here - hence walking hand in
hand and turning a blind eye to human rights violations.
President Yahya Jammeh, the host of the Summit is no exception. The Gambia
is one of the six countries on the African continent including Zimbabwe,
Swaziland, Ethiopia, Eritrea and Tunisia which constitute the hotspots of
extreme violations of human rights and press Freedom. This was amply
demonstrated by the Gambian authorities when they banned a forum on Freedom
of Expression in Africa, which was supposed to take place in Banjul prior to
the summit and to which Nyasha Nyakunu and myself were invited. It is indeed
a very sad reflection of a mindset or a culture on our continent which says
bugger- all misgovernance or violations of human rights in some African
countries, I will stand by my brother president right or wrong!
By way of conclusion, I would like to re-emphasise the folly of pining all
our hopes on external mediators such as Benjamin Mkapa. The real problem is
not between Zimbabwe and Britain but between President Mugabe and the people
of Zimbabwe. This is the brutal truth and the bottom line.
Outside forces can help but in the end it is dialogue among all political
parties in Zimbabwe, political will and commitment on the part of the ruling
Zanu PF Party, and in the absence of all these things People Power (call it
whatever you will), that will eventually make a difference to the lives of
all Zimbabweans. It is my hope and prayer therefore that the people of this
country have enough sense to know that in their hands lie the answers to
this nation's crisis.
BINDURA Nickel Corporation (BNC) says it has struck a deal with an unnamed
investor to undertake the US$100 million Hunters Road project. BNC plans to
construct a new open cast mine in the Midlands, where some 30 million tonnes
of nickel deposits have been discovered.
BNC spokesperson James July confirmed the deal, but said the identity of the
new partner would remain confidential as both parties were still tying up
contractual and other agreements.
July said US$100 million would be required to kick-start the project. Nickel
deposits in the Midlands, seen as being of superior grade, will provide
additional feedstock to BNC's refinery.
Besides the Hunters Road project, BNC has other capital projects planned,
including an oxygen injection project and a shaft re-deepening at both
Trojan and Shangani mines.
BNC recently played a central role in a US$50 million fuel deal signed
between the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) and French bank BNP Paribas,
where BNC's future output will be used to secure the facility.
At that signing, BNC managing director Fred Moyo said he hoped his company's
involvement would see BNP supporting some of its future expansion plans.
Financial Gazette (Harare)
July 20, 2006
Posted to the web July 20, 2006
WE have all the seen the headlines in the various national print media:
"Minister named in scandal, Ministers accused of looting farm equipment,
Tender procedures flouted, Board chairperson accused of bribery, Director
commandeers company vehicle, CEO arrested on fraud", and so on. Some people
are probably thankful that they have escaped the net and were not the
subject of a newspaper story.
The level of greed and self aggrandizement in Zimbabwe has reached alarming
levels to an extent that President Robert Mugabe has openly castigated some
senior party and government officials who were abusing their authority to
amass property and wealth and stressed that such leaders should be weeded
out of public office.
The President has said "NO" to corruption, abuse of power, self
aggrandizement and other forms of unethical practices. "Tagarwa neiko?",
(what has gotten into us) His Excellency publicly lamented recently in his
Corruption has not only reared its ugly head in the public sector, it has
also spread its tentacles to the private sector.
Corruption is rolling down the hill like a mud slide. Be warned.
Tone at the top
In this article I am going to stray a little bit from my usual approach to
the subject of corporate governance.
I strongly believe that we cannot look at corporate governance in isolation
from national governance. National governance sets the tone, the so called
"Tone from the top". Tone at the top means continued and repeated emphasis,
followed by commensurate behavior by government ministers and other top
officials, on the importance of good governance to both our public and
Tone at the top means government ministers and top officials should lead by
example, by adherence to good ethical standards.
Tone at the top has an overwhelming influence on corporate governance.
Good corporate governance can only thrive in an environment where both the
public and private sectors follow and foster a culture of responsible
There is a relationship between national and corporate governance. The
latter heavily depends on the former. The sustainability of our economy and
the success of our corporate entities (which create wealth and employment)
depends on this relationship.
As the President highlighted last week, government ministers and other
public office bearers should lead by example.
They should set the tone for good governance by upholding high ethical
Government ministers are responsible for formulation and implementation of
national, social, political and macroeconomic policies. Government ministers
also have statutory oversight functions over strategic state enterprises and
other public institutions.
As such, ministers have an onerous responsibility to be the torch bearers of
When some of these people who are supposed to be national leaders and
harbingers of good governance are repeatedly found on the wrong side of the
law, it sends negative messages to the entire economy.
Recent corporate failures and scandals in Zimbabwe have shown that
corruption is a big issue in our economy.
Some company directors, CEOs and senior executives, driven by greed and self
aggrandizement, have extended their hands into the investors' funds.
Investors entrust their assets to company management and expect company
directors to oversee management so that their investments can be protected.
Instead some of these people entrusted by investors have turned into thieves
and have looted shareholder investments.
In addition some company directors and executives have garnered substantial
compensation packages for themselves even as their companies face collapse.
These corporate scandals have caused a lot of public anger at the failure of
our governance systems to protect investor interests.
The result has been the breakdown of public trust, a decline of confidence
in the integrity of our financial and capital markets and overall loss of
confidence in the manner in which our corporations are governed.
Furthermore some professional advisors to companies such as lawyers,
auditors and consultants in various fields have also compromised good
corporate governance by failing to provide balanced and independent advice
and professional judgement to protect their business interests.
This is the time to take tough measures to promote good governance in both
public and private sectors.
We can talk and preach about good governance at conferences but if we do not
address and weed out corruption, our efforts will be futile.
Corruption will derail our efforts to promote good governance.
People have called for enactment of tough legislation to deal with
However it has often been said that no nation can legislate against
corruption. Tough legislation may be put in place but it may not stop graft.
Legislation does not fully address issues of corporation. My personal view
is that we need to pursue a number of initiatives simultaneously. Tough
laws, on their own, will not usher good governance.
Ethics is a central nervous system for good governance. Leaders in all
sectors of our economy should take business ethics seriously. They need to
preach and lead by example. Leaders should take personal responsibility for
their own actions. According to Professor Paul Sulcas, in his article on
Corporate Crime published in the South African BoardRoom magazine 4/2005,
every organization should be guided by good business ethics as charecterised
by the following attributes: Discipline, Transparency, Independence,
Accountability, Responsibility, Fairness, and Respect.
These attributes are cornerstones of good business ethics and should be
embedded in the day-to-day operations of all organizations. This will go a
long way in preventing future major financial debacles, concluded professor
Sulcas in his article.
We have a lot to learn from our friends south of the Limpopo. South Africa
has responded to corporate scandals and failures by coming up with the King
1 and 2 Reports on Corporate Governance.
Although the King Report is not a piece of legislation, it has been adopted
into the rules of the JSE, as has happened in the UK. The current review of
the Companies Act in SA is expected to adopt some of the recommendations of
the King Report into law in an effort to strengthen good governance.
Our neighbors have also gone further by coming up with Governance Guidelines
for state enterprises, i.e. Protocol on Corporate Governance in the Public
Sector. A Business Ethics Institute was also set up in SA to further bolster
initiatives for good governance.
We in Zimbabwe should not just talk of corruption and end there. Rhetoric
will not address the threats to good governance.
We need a balanced approach that involves the following: legislation and
regulation, active government participation (right tone at the top),
promotion of self regulation governance mechanisms such as corporate
governance codes, massive campaigns on ethics, strengthen governance through
activities of bodies such as ZSE, IODZ, promote shareholder activism and
On another front we need to strengthen law enforcement and the judiciary
system to ensure compliance with our laws and regulations. If we don't do
this, good corporate governance may remain an illusion in Zimbabwe.
Financial Gazette (Harare)
July 20, 2006
Posted to the web July 20, 2006
I SUSPECT this is the first time I have penned such a sub-title in the past
half year. The reason being that the stock market had fallen out of favour
vis-à-vis the money market. Again we are finding the RBZ at a crossroads,
regarding the national debt.
Whether to keep churning out lucrative, albeit unaffordable, paper to the
market or allow the governor's nemesis, the stock market (apparently he
thinks the stock market should not react to any piece of rational news) to
hit the roof in light of low interest rates.
Fighting with nature and reason has never helped many people in life; most
notably the church of old during the times of Copernicus and Galileo.
In spite of being chastised by the church which refuted their conviction
that the earth was round, today's church, realizing the weaker reasoning of
their predecessor happily embraces their findings as fact.
The governor's futile fixation with a burgeoning stock market can only yield
high blood pressure on his part and here is why.
When the central bank brought in the high yielding paper on the market,
players like FBC Holdings took varying positions on the money market.
Whether or not the positions were a result of a leak from RBZ is better left
out of this argument.
All we know is that a few banks yielded a lot of money in the process as
some had placed significant portions of their capital into the paper.
What then happened is that a few players like the one aforementioned, made
obscene and unsustainable amounts of interim profits.
Now that the central bank is wary of its own medicine investor money,
financed by the high yielding paper, is now finding its way into the same
counters that have benefited from the high yielding paper in order to double
What has now happened is that out of nothing industrious, money has been
created for the benefit of punters and central bank insiders.
In short one can double their money (already doubled courtesy of the central
bank) by betting on a company that has doubled its money courtesy of the
Now any sane person with minimal economic literacy will tell you the scales
that hitherto cover their eyes have been lifted.
Actually, they would infer, the central bank has been a big player not only
in printing money, but also in multiplying it without any production backing
The conclusion, of course, is that had the central bank left the market to
play on its own the stock market would not have gone to where it is now.
Because they intervened, the stock has backfired by getting excited.
Wither now the incongruent talk of inflation being the number one enemy?
After the central bank resoundingly rejected both six-month and 1 year paper
bids, one is left wondering what to do with their cash.
Maybe the only thing is to buy a bit of tangibles which, I must hasten to
add; will cause one more headaches by way of looking for extra cash to
Think of buying a car as an inflation shield. If one can afford one in this
day chances are that they probably have another already.
That means either more fuel to please that extra family member or more money
to hire some retrenched guy next door to protect it from man-vultures.
Now with a routine service for a so-so car licking at least $50 million off
your wallet, one starts thinking of the benefits of securing value in
Or maybe there is forex.
But then there is the risk of theft.
Tsvangirai must get to the bottom of this
EDITOR - The violence perpetrated on Trudy Stevenson by supporters of the
Tsvaingirai faction of the MDC should be condemmed as a cowardly act of
prehistoric barbarism that should never be allowed to happen again given the
democratic principles upon which Zimbabwe's opposition parties claim to be
It is not enough for Morgan Tsvangirai to condemn the perpetrators, but he
should call for them to be brought to book and to be punished in the
severest possible way by the courts of law. Tsvangirai's party should, if
they are not accomplices to this act, publicly distance themselves from such
uncouth activities and roundly condemn those that still seek to use force
upon others to think and act in predetermined ways.
If Tsvangirai's party is involved in this as widely believed, then he should
expect some people to withdraw their allegiance to a party that preaches
democracy but practices anarchy and blood-letting. Some of us are extremely
disturbed by this and the hope we had of the MDC turning things around for
Zimbabwe wane on account of such events.
We want to hear a stronger condemnation of this dastardly act and hope that
the message will be repeated at every possible opportunity in the foreseable
If the opposition find themselves doing the same things they seek to
overturn, where then is the logic and basis for change? Chinja Tsvangirai,
Why blame ZANU PF this time?
EDITOR - Your article in last week's issue of the Fingaz about American
comments on the attack on Trudy Stevenson refers. What truth does America
want as regards to what happened to Trudy. She personally said ZANU PF had
never hurt her nor attacked her since her entry into politics.
Why does America want to blame ZANU PF for the MDC's internal problems?
While America may have issues against Zimbabwe, I have no problem with that
but to try and blame everything on ZANU PF worries me a lot. Trudy was
attacked by her own colleagues and she says so.
Isn't it correct to say that when ZANU PF defends itself and blames
everthing on the so-called Zimbabwe Democracy Bill (whatever it is called,
because I have never given myself time to bother about this racist piece of
legislation) Zimbabweans should also listen.
This draws me to a case of kidnapping that happened in occupied Iraq a
couple of months ago. When Jill Caroll, a journalist, was released by her
captors, she personally made a statement to the Bush administration to pull
out of Iraq. You know what the Americans did? They said she made the
statement under duress. Even after her release she has never retracted her
Americans believe in freedom of expression but when that expression does not
suit their whims they cry freedom from a different angle. Be careful of
these Americans. My comments are as I see the world. America is not the
Zimbabwe is the boss
EDITOR -The future of Zimbabwe is in the hands of the people, not the
government. This government has failed and will continue to fail because it
is the same brains at work now as 25 years ago. They are now mentally
exhausted and incapacitated.
ZANU PF may have the majority in Parliament to make the irrational
constitutional changes they desire. But the people of Zimbabwe hold the
majority when it comes to determining how their country is to be run,
whether it be through elections or just standing up for their right to live.
Even though this government feels that it was legitimately elected to
represent the common man, it has failed to carry out this mandate (a command
from the people of Zimbabwe). With this in mind the people of Zimbabwe carry
the power to pass a vote of no confidence.
After this government was employed by the people it recruited the CIO,
police and army to exercise force and instill fear in its bosses. Weird.
Zimbabweans must stand up and fire these incompetent individuals. Do this
for your children and your children's children. They need to taste what
absolute freedom to live is. The face of Africa will only change when those
who love it take responsibility for it. The people who were previously given
this task have shown where their hearts are: To bring Africa to it knees.
Jason Rily Olson
Some causes are worth dying for
EDITOR - I would like to know whether Financial Gazette journalists are
still reporting from Zimbabwe or if they are now based in South Africa. I
have been in America for five years and I rely on your paper for information
on what's going on in Zimbabwe. But I'm now beginning to wonder if you guys
are in Zimbabwe and how it is possible for a Zimbabwean paper which sounds
very independent like you to operate in Zim.
I was reading your article "No politician worth killing, dying for"
(No-Holds-Barred), and I think it was very insightful, but I was left
wondering: Are their causes worth dying for?
Let's suppose Morgan Tsvangirai was a genuine leader in pursuit of freedom
(be it political, economic, freedom of speech etc, is that not worth giving
one's life for?
I am being a hypocrite because I am very far away but any chance you could
explore that line of thought, which if you really think about it, is what
maybe our problem. Zimbabweans (in the ZANU PF camp and now apparently MDC)
are willing to torture and kill for the cause of corruption and
dictatorship. Shouldn't we be willing then to defend our right to live in
freedom even if it means giving it our all?
I believe there are "causes worth dying for" but it's just a thought which
mainly stems from the fact that I am disappointed with us Zimbabweans
because we seem to be willing to tolerate abuse and we are not putting up a
fight for what is rightfully ours -Freedom.
No logic in having more varsities
EDITOR - THE ZANU PF government in its perennial culture of making disatrous
decisions seems to be pressing ahead with mistaken intentions of
establishing more universities probably as many as there are mosquitoes.
There are plans that each region will have a university. Proposed
universities are Lupane, Tsholotsho, Matabeleland South, a university in
Bulawayo, another in Marondera and in Chitungwiza.
My opinion, which I know many educationists will agree with, is that this
development will only serve to destroy further the deteriorating education
standards. It is a total antithesis to meaningful educational and economic
development for a number of reasons.
It's a stubborn fact that infrastructural developments and the staff
complement in current universities is not the least impressive. We have the
case of the National University of Science and Technology where buildings in
this supposedly state-of-the-art university have remained uncompleted for
over a decade. Plant and machinery are lying idle, accruing costs which the
taxpayer will be expected to make good. The completion of these buildings,
namely the library, residence halls and lecture rooms is in limbo.
The Midlands State University is another case in point. To date not a single
building has been built ever since its transformation from a teachers'
college into a university. The same situation prevails at Bindura, Masvingo
and Chinhoyi universities.
The Lupane University like the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project, will
remain a pipe dream only to be resurrected each time there is another
Over the years we have witnessed a painful deterioration in the education
system, which was once the envy of many countries but is now the laughing
stock of the region. Crucial examinations were localised without adequate
resources and preparation.
Corruption is rife at ZIMSEC with officers doctoring results for their
girlfriends and relatives. We need a clean-up of the system before
commitment is put on projects the government cannot handle.
The introduction of more universities will be a death knell for the
education system. Close monitoring of standards and quality of education in
individual universities will be difficult. Zimbabwe and its people deserve
University of Texas, USA