Zanu PF heavyweights insecure over primaries Augustine
Mukaro/Gift Phiri ZANU PF heavyweights are increasingly becoming nervous
about retaining their constituencies in the forthcoming primaries amid
accusations that they have not done anything for the electorate in the past
This comes at a time when President Robert Mugabe has
declared that no one will hold a ministerial post without a winning
Ruling party sources said intra-party
hostilities have drawn into its vortex Zanu PF political commissar Elliot
Manyika, Defence minister Sydney Sekeramayi, Foreign Affairs minister Stan
Mudenge, and other bigwigs.
Sources said Manyika was insecure in
Bindura where businessman Kenneth Musanhi appears the favourite
"Manyika's fears originated from the time when President
Mugabe visited Musanhi's companies and farms," sources said. "Since that time
he has been questioning and blocking any projects that Musanhi would have
pledged to finance in Bindura."
This winter, sources say, Musanhi
was approached by Bindura Provincial Hospital to donate blankets for the
institution. But Manyika allegedly blocked the donation.
was again asked to donate a duplicating machine for Bindura Primary School
but Manyika, who questioned the motive behind such donations, put the project
It was not possible to obtain comment from Musanhi as he was
said to be attending a series of meetings.
In Marondera East,
Sekeramayi has come under intense pressure amid reports that three candidates
are eyeing his constituency.
The Zimbabwe Independent understands
that war veteran, Wilsred Marimo, and Urban Councils chairman, Jerry Gotora,
are determined to unseat the Defence chief. Mashonaland East political
commissar Lawrence Katsiru, who is facing rape charges, is also said to be
eyeing the constituency.
The three are understood to have thrown
their names for selection in the primaries.
Ministers Stan Mudenge
and Paul Mangwana have reportedly been accused by aspiring candidates in
their constituencies, Masvingo North and Kadoma East respectively, of using
dirty tricks in their campaigns.
Retired Major Kudzai Mbudzi is
gunning for Mudenge's seat, while Zupco
chief Bright Matonga is
interested in Mangwana's constituency.
Ruling party insiders this
week said intra-party hostilities had intensified as jockeying for the
succession of Mugabe hots up.
Winning primaries is important for Zanu
PF bigwigs as it is a stepping stone for ascension to the
Mugabe is expected to announce his successor at the
December Congress based on the results of the primaries slated for
Kuruneri's lawyers plead with Msika Godfrey
Marawanyika LAWYERS representing detained Finance minister Chris Kuruneri
have appealed for Vice-President Joseph Msika's intervention concerning their
The attorneys from Gollop and Blank discussed the
issue with Msika after revelations that Kuruneri's health had deteriorated.
This came as Kuruneri was yesterday further remanded to August
Msika confirmed that he had held telephone discussions with
Kuruneri's lawyers. He said he spoke to Abdullah Cassim, a senior partner at
Gollop and Blank.
Msika said Kuruneri's lawyers phoned to brief
him on the jailed minister's health condition. "He (Cassim) phoned to give me
some information. I did not meet him," Msika said. "Ini handisi kupindira
nyaya iyoyi asi (I'm not involved in the case but) they just phoned me on the
Kuruneri has been fighting to get access to a private doctor
since his detention in April on allegations of externalising foreign
Kuruneri is represented by David Drury and Bruce Mujeyi,
both of Gollop and Blank, and Advocate Chris Andersen, all of whom could not
be reached for comment at the time of going to press.
failed to secure bail at the magistrates court, in the High Court and the
Supreme Court. His family and attorneys are worried about his health, an
issue which was raised when he was first remanded in custody.
month a medical consultant recommended that Kuruneri be given access to "a
proper hospital to try and control his blood pressure to avoid catastrophic
The physician who examined Kuruneri at the Remand
Prison said the minister needed access to a proper hospital because his case
was of "severe hypertension".
The physician said when he saw
Kuruneri, he was complaining of backache, a headache and general weakness.
"The backache is not recent but the other symptoms started while in
detention," the physician said in a letter addressed to the prison medical
officer. "He has not been on treatment and feels the headache is getting
This week Kuruneri was allowed to see a private
Kuruneri is accused of externalising US$500 000, £37 000 and
30 000 euros between 2002 and this year. The state alleges that he used some
of the externalised funds to invest in a property in South
He also allegedly contravened a section of the Citizenship
Act after it was found that he had two passports, which is illegal under
He is the second high-profile politician to be arrested
as part of government's anti-corruption blitz. Zanu PF Central Committee
member and businessman James Makamba was nabbed at the beginning of the year
on charges of externalising funds and dealing in foreign
Meanwhile, the trial of 70 suspected mercenaries accused of
plotting to overthrow the government of oil-rich Equatorial Guinea has been
postponed to Tuesday after defence lawyers attempted to streamline issues on
the charge sheet to avoid a lengthy court hearing.
were requesting the court to drop the Public Order and Security Act charge
against the suspected mercenaries. The trial is being held in a makeshift
court at Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison. Defence lawyer Jonathan Samkange
said the defence team was trying to limit the time that the trial would
"Considering our clients have been in remand prison for
painstakingly long, it is prudent for us to try to limit the issues in
dispute," said Samkange.
The men were detained after arriving at
Harare International Airport on March 7 from South Africa, and charged with
conspiring to carry out a coup in Equatorial Guinea with weapons bought in
Zimbabwe. They were also charged with violating Zimbabwe's immigration,
firearms and security laws.
Lawyers for the men want the trial moved to
South Africa as most of the suspects carry South African passports. They are
concerned that if the trial proceeds in Zimbabwe they could face extradition
to Equatorial Guinea, a country ranked by human rights groups as one of the
world's most repressive.
Zimbabwe and Equatorial Guinea have been
working out details of extraditing the suspects. If the men are tried in
Equatorial Guinea, they could face the death penalty.
Roy Bennett faces international lawsuit Munyaradzi
Wasosa CHIMANIMANI Member of Parliament (MP) Roy Bennett faces an
international lawsuit after Bennett Brothers Farming Enterprises, a firm in
which he holds a major stake, failed to honour a deal to supply 18 tonnes of
coffee valued at US$20 000 to a Korean company, the Zimbabwe Independent
established this week.
This follows the seizure of Bennett's
Charleswood Estate in Chimanimani district by the Agricultural and Rural
Development Authority (Arda) earlier this year. Bennett last week accused
Arda of seizing at least 160 tonnes of harvested Arabica coffee valued at
US$200 000 from his company's mills on the farm.
Arda and army
personnel have barred the Chimanimani legislatorfrom recovering his coffee
produce from the occupied farm.
Bennett Brothers Far-ming Enterprises
clin-ched a deal to export 18 tonnes of coffee to a Korean company, K&Z
International, with Scotland-based Endrick International acting as
However, the MDC MP failed to fulfill his contract
following the seizure of the farm.
"Yes, we are in breach of an
international contract and we can be sued for that," Bennett
"Arda is to blame for all this. They have removed my cattle and
now have sent coffee samples to the Grain Marketing Board (Mutare) to sell
the farm's 160 tonnes of coffee."
Bennett said Endrick was
demanding that his company fulfill the deal or face legal
"Endrick has demanded that we fulfill our end of the deal to
supply them with coffee because there are legal implications to consider if
we continue to be in breach of an international contract this big," Bennett
Bennett said Arda was looting his company's property that
includes trucks and farm equipment.
Charleswood was one of
Manicaland's major exporters of agricultural products. It has an Export
Processing Zone status but was seized by Arda all the same.
784-hectare farm was a joint venture between Zimbabwean and
British investors, namely Bennett Brothers Far-ming Enterprises, Mc-Kinnon
Africa (Pvt) Ltd and Mawenje Lodge (Pvt) Ltd.
Arnold Tsunga, confirmed the demand by Endrick but said Arda chief executive
Joseph Matowanyika did not turn up for a meeting to resolve the issue last
"We were supposed to meet Matowanyika over Arda's seizure of
Bennett's property but he did not turn up," Tsunga
Matowanyika this week did not answer questions faxed to him by
Land issue a 'political tool' Augustine
Mukaro SERIOUS disparities have emerged between the land reform policy design
and its implementation.
According to the Southern Africa Regional
Poverty Network (Sarpn)'s latest report titled Disparity Between Policy
Design and Implementation, the land issue was turned into a political tool
instead of serving its purpose of resettling landless
Sarpn said despite an elaborate institutional framework put
in place by government to implement the fast track land reform programme,
events on the ground were beyond any logical comprehension.
were characterised by nationwide farm invasions and occupations that were
initiated by war veterans and to a large extent, the farm occupations were
legally supported by government," the report said.
Sarpn said although
the fast track managed to transfer huge tracks of land to the black majority,
there were fears that the land redistribution exercise would bring permanent
food shortages to Zimbabwe. Already the fast track land reform programme has
impacted negatively on all sectors of the economy.
has seen a significant drop in agricultural production since the beginning of
farm disturbances," the report said.
It said the exercise had
resulted in a gross shortage of foreign currency through diminished
agricultural exports resulting in massive unemployment as many farms
discontinued the employment of labour and the liquidation of many enterprises
whose life depended upon the supply of raw materials from the agricultural
It said while government was claiming the programme was a
resounding success it had only managed to resettle a paltry 135 000 families
on both A1 and A2 models, a far-cry from the targeted 300 000 under A1 and 55
000 under A2 schemes.
The report said government still needed to
rationalise development on the ground considering that even President Robert
Mugabe acknowledged that things did not go well with the land reform
Ruling party chefs have been accused of allocating
themselves more than one farm each at the expense of the intended
Human rights abuses continue despite AU report Gift
Phiri DESPITE clear evidence that government received the African Commission
on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) report, the authorities in Harare
have done nothing to address the issues raised in the document.
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum said government had the report at least by
February 5 this year although other groups say it was much earlier
Foreign Affairs minister Stan Mudenge confirmed the
report was submitted to government but claimed it was sent to the "wrong"
ministry. The report has been gathering dust at the Justice ministry for
Government has remained firmly on its course of
repression and human rights violations. It has continued to undermine the
independence of the judiciary through blatant political
Eight judges, including former Chief Justice Anthony
Gubbay, were forced to leave the bench by government through a campaign of
"Intimidation and attacks on judicial officials and
lawyers have intensified significantly since the beginning of the year," said
former head of the Law Society of Zimbabwe, Sternford
"Judges and magistrates who demonstrated judicial independence
were threatened with investigation and disciplinary action for
alleged misconduct. They were also subjected to intimidation and attacks for
rulings perceived to be favourable to MDC supporters."
judge president of the Administrative Court, Michael Majuru, this week made
sensational revelations of how Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa exerted
pressure on him to initially delay and subsequently throw out the Associated
Newspapers of Zimbabwe case.
The government last year came under fire
from the International Bar Association, a worldwide group of lawyers and
judges who monitor threats to the independence of the judiciary. After a
visit to Zimbabwe, the Bar Association said "the government was abandoning
the rule of law".
The ACHPR report notes with concern the
partisanship of the police. The government continued to intensify its misuse
of the police to suppress freedoms of expression, association and assembly.
Opposition rallies have been consistently disallowed. The few that are
allowed are marred by violence perpetrated by Zanu PF youth
Human rights lawyers said police officers committed human
rights violations, including arbitrary arrests, unlawful detention, assaults
and torture. "The police failed to intervene to protect communities under
attack by Zanu PF militia, while protecting militia members alleged to have
carried out assaults," said Moyo.
"Suspected perpetrators of these
human rights abuses who were apprehended were not brought to justice, nor
were police officers who colluded with or acquiesced in violations by the
militia. Police who acted impartially were purged from service or transferred
to inferior postings or administrative positions," he said.
African Commission report said there had been a "flurry of new legislation"
and the enactment of colonial-style legislation. The Public Order and
Security Act (Posa), enacted in January 2002, imposed severe restrictions on
civil liberties and criminalised a wide range of activities associated with
the freedoms of expression, assembly and association.
It provides for
the imprisonment of journalists convicted of "causing hatred, contempt or
ridicule of the president". It also criminalises false reporting and
statements that "incite or promote public disorder or public violence". The
Act also requires that police be notified in advance of any public gathering
of more than two people, and prohibits the assembly of people police believe
could cause public disorder.
In March 2002, the Access to Information
and Protection of Privacy Act (Aippa) was enacted. Under Aippa, journalists
and media houses are required to register with the government-appointed Media
and Information Commission (MIC).
The Independent Journalists
Association of Zimbabwe challenged the constitutionality of those sections of
Aippa that prescribe the compulsory registration of journalists and punish
scribes who write what the Act describes as "falsehoods", on the basis that
they violate freedom of expression. In a ruling handed down earlier this
year, the Supreme Court reserved judgement. The government has gone on to
amend Aippa to tighten loopholes and accord additional powers to the MIC and
the Minister of Information.
In addition to the introduction of
restrictive legislation, government intensified efforts to clamp down on
independent journalists and media houses through harassment, attacks and
arbitrary arrests. At least 90 journalists have been arrested following the
enactment of Aippa, some repeatedly.
Newspaper street vendors have
been harassed and attacked for selling independent newspapers which have
allegedly been banned in many rural areas. The Harare office of the Voice of
the People, one of two independent broadcasting organisations, was bombed two
years ago. No one has been arrested in connection with the bombing to
The report highlights government's attempts to limit civil
liberties by trying to curtail the operations of non-governmental
organisations (NGO). In September 2002, the government issued a public notice
advising NGOs to register with the government in accordance with Section 6 of
the Private Voluntary Organisations (PVO) Act.
The notice warned
that those NGOs which continued to operate without registering risked
prosecution. Although the PVO Act was enacted in 1997, it had not previously
been fully enforced.
Government has recently been attempting to
enforce the PVO Act. Top officials in the National Association of
Non-Governmental Organisations who requested anonymity said: "These are part
of an overall campaign to further restrict freedoms of association and
expression and prevent human rights organisations from investigating and
publicising human rights abuses."
Tsvangirai ruling deferred Gift Phiri THE High
Court yesterday postponed indefinitely judgement on the treason trial of
opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is facing charges of plotting to
kill President Robert Mugabe.
Justice Paddington Garwepostponed judgement
after taking into consideration concerns by assessors Major Misheck Nyandoro
and Joseph Dangarembizi. The judgement was supposed to be handed down next
Defence lawyer Innocent Chagonda yesterday said: "Assessors
have asked for a transcript of the proceedings, once they are ready they will
let us know."
Tsvangirai was charged with treason in February last
year for allegedly plotting to assassinate Mugabe ahead of the 2002
The charges hinge on a secretly videotaped
meeting between Tsvangirai and Ari Ben-Menashe, president of a Canadian-based
public relations firm, Dickens and Madison, in which the idea of
"eliminating" Mugabe was brought up.
Defence lawyers have argued
since the opening of the trial that the videotape on which the alleged plot
to assassinate Mugabe was based was defective and could not be relied
They also point to the suppression of the audiotape and
transcript that was
presented in court. Defence lawyers also argue that
the tape was missing its first 10 minutes, a defect that the state blamed on
a faulty battery.
Tsvangirai says the government trumped up the
treason charges against him in a bid to discredit him ahead of a presidential
election in 2002.
Tsvangirai is also facing another treason charge
arising from organising the "final push" in the middle of last year. He is on
remand on that charge.
Gono threatens to tame estate agencies Loughty
Dube RESERVE Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono has threatened to
take stern measures against real estate agencies charging exorbitant
Gono said he would address the issue of rentals once and for all
when he presents his second quarter review of the monetary policy in
He said he was aware of concerns over the operations of estate
agents that needed to be addressed as a matter of urgency.
agents occupy a high place in my agenda during my forthcoming address and the
issue of the operations of real estate agencies need to be attended to
because that industry has been faced with a lot of irregularities," Gono
Zimbabweans have complained of exorbitant rentals being charged
by estate agencies, some of which quote rentals in foreign
The Real Estate Association of Zimbabwe last year announced
a new rental format whereby rents would go up every quarter, citing
In Harare, properties in the prime low-density
areas fetch monthly rentals of up to $10 million, while properties in the
high-density areas are being rented out at up to $2 million.
said he could not pre-empt the measures the RBZ was taking to
remove irregularities on the housing rentals market.
would not want to pre-empt the measures we are currently taking with regards
to real estates agencies," Gono said.
Sadc Forum delegation expected Munyaradzi
Wasosa THE Southern African Development Community (Sadc) Parliamentary Forum,
which pronounced the 2002 presidential election in Zimbabwe as not free and
fair, is sending a delegation to Zimbabwe during the weekend for a
regional women's parliamentary caucus.
The week-long meeting will
focus on a range of issues that include electoral reforms, with a focus on
increasing the number of women representatives in Sadc
The delegation will on Monday meet Zanu PF and MDC chief
whips, the Leader of the House Patrick Chinamasa and the Zimbabwe Women's
Parliament said the caucus would also
discuss gender disparities manifested by the unequal representation of women
in all Sadc legislative houses.
"This session will examine and
facilitate the sharing of experiences on how women view politics based on
their experiences, and facilitate a common understanding on the need for
transformative politics which is equitable and will formulate empowerment
strategies for women," parliament said in a statement.
2000 parliamentary election, the number of female legislators in Zimbabwe
declined from 21 to 16.
The delegation is expected to exert pressure
on the leadership of both the MDC and Zanu PF on gender imbalances in party
structures on Tuesday when it holds meetings with both parties' top
Zanu PF and MDC Women's League officials will also hold a
meeting with the delegation.
A source in the opposition's women's
league criticised the unequal representation of women in the two parties.
"The composition in parliament leaves a lot to be desired," the source said.
"We will use the opportunity to put pressure on our leaders together with our
counterparts in Zanu PF."
The delegation will also hold meetings with
NGOs dealing with women's rights. Dr Kasuka Mutukwa, the Sadc Parliamentary
Forum secretary-general, is expected to address the gathering on Thursday
despite government's increasing hostility towards his
The forum was established in 1996 in accordance with
Article 9 (2) of the Sadc Treaty as an autonomous institution within the
regional body to promote multiparty democracy, good governance, respect for
the rule of law and human rights.
Zimra cracks whip Roadwin Chirara/Itai Dzamara THE
Zimbabwe Revenue Authority (Zimra) has intensified a crackdown on public and
private companies accused of perennial tax evasion, it has emerged.
Zimbabwe Independent heard this week that Zimra had been ordered by
the authorities to also widen investigations into alleged tax scams
involving Zimra officials linked to state-owned and private
Zimra spokesperson Priscilla Sadomba confirmed this week
that the revenue authority had set aside huge sums of money as an incentive
for whistle blowers on tax-related crimes.
"We are calling for
informers (to provide information) leading to the identification of companies
that have been evading tax. If your information leads to the recovery of tax
or duty, you will receive 10% of whatever is recovered," said
"During the first half of this year we have paid $108
million to whistle blowers."
Zimra, working together security
agencies, said it expected to recover huge sums of money from wayward
companies and individuals after indications that there was complicity with
some of its officials to evade tax.
The tax evaders are members of
both the private and public sectors, Zimra added.
investigations started last year and it had paid $127 million to whistle
blowers to date.
Although Sadomba could not comment on recovery
figures, it is understood that Zimra has so far raised over $1 billion from
companies and institutions, including sports associations that had avoided
paying tax for years.
Sources at Zimra said only small
enterprises, mainly indigenous-owned, had so far been identified and forced
to pay. In the case of companies that had failed to pay, Zimra had attached
Zimra has issued an order requiring the Zimbabwe Football
Association (Zifa) to pay $285 million in outstanding taxes.
Wednesday Zifa had its property seized by the Master of the High Court for
allegedly failing to settle an $85 million bill with a local hotel.
Chinamasa quizzed over brawl Itai
Dzamara PARLIAMENTARY Affairs minister Patrick Chinamasa on Tuesday this
week appeared before a special committee set up to probe the recent scuffle
in the House of Assembly.
The May 18 brawl involved MDC MP for
Chimanimani Roy Bennett, Chinamasa and Anti-Corruption minister Didymus
Chinamasa confirmed that he appeared before the special
committee on Tuesday. Bennett and Mutasa appeared before the same committee
A member of the committee yesterday said they had gathered
evidence from all three legislators and a ruling should be out before
"We have gathered evidence from the three MPs and the
committee is now deliberating on the matter. The verdict should be out by 31
July," the committee member said.
The committee, headed by Labour
minister Paul Mangwana, was set up after Bennett floored Chinamasa and Mutasa
during a debate on an adverse report on the Stock Theft
Chinamasa alleged Bennett's forefathers were thieves and
murderers and that the Chimanimani MP should forget about his Charleswood
Farm, which was seized by the government.
Bennett reacted angrily
and charged at Chinamasa before he floored him. Mutasa intervened and kicked
Bennett from behind. Mutasa later told the Voice of America "I kicked him
very hard" in defence of Chinamasa.
$50b for parliament Shakeman Mugari GOVERNMENT will
spend an estimated $50 billion towards the construction of a new parliament
building at a time when more urgent capital projects are stalled due to
The multi-billion dollar project, which has been
on the cards for almost a decade, will bloat state expenditure which has been
gallopping beyond revenues.
Public Works minister Ignatius Chombo
said in an interview this week the new building would cost government "some
few billions". He said government would fork out about $20 billion for the
actual construction while the interior design would cost about the
He said government would need a further $10 billion to cover
displacement costs for people living in the Kopje area and to beef up
security. He said government would purchase surrounding buildings for
Architectural plans and designs for the new
building have been flying between the ministries of Public Works and Justice
in readiness for the start of construction work.
has appointed itself the project managers while the interior decoration and
specialised jobs will be contracted to local and foreign
"We have visited the place (site of building) more than
three times. The construction will cost between $15-20 billion. That's the
average figure we have now," said Chombo this week.
"It is however
the interior decorations, the marble and electronic systems that will cost
billions. We want to make it a monumental structure,"
Construction of the new parliament building has taken
priority over other vital national projects. Government is struggling to
raise money for the long-stalled Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project and
Kunzvi Dam, which is expected to ease Harare's water problems. Work on
Tokwe-Mukorsi Dam has been adversely affected by shortage of
Other stalled capital projects are the Harare-Chitungwiza
railway line and the dualisation of the Harare-Bulawayo and the
MUCH has been made of the downturn in the rate of
inflation in recent months, but many people do not feel that inflation is
really coming down. What are the facts?
The fact that matters most is
that the rate of increase in prices has decreased. Prices are still rising,
but they are rising less often and sharply than they did a year ago. And
because we measure inflation against the figures of a year earlier, what
happened last year directly affects the measurements we are talking about
The graph shows the course taken by inflation in 2002, 2003
and the first half of 2004, and that the inflation gap between the 2002 and
2003 figures was widening for most of the year.
In January 2003 the
measure against January 2002 was 208%, and this had widened to 598% by the
end of the year. Mathematically, the slope of the 2003 line was steeper than
that of the 2002 line. In 2004, we see that the slope of the line is less
steep for the first six months, so the gap between the lines has become
The big question is whether the gap will continue to shrink in
the coming months, or will it widen out again? Forecasting inflation under
current uncertainties is more than usually difficult, particularly as the
Reserve Bank, in choosing to define inflation as "enemy number one", has also
chosen to lock on to the exchange rate as the principal weapon to use against
As has been the case all too often in the past, they are treating
the symptom rather than the disease.
The exchange rate movements
certainly did contribute to the sharply rising rates of inflation last year,
but the pressures came from the scarcities of foreign currency that resulted
from the loss of about half the country's foreign earnings.
on the more basic causes of inflation should have attended to the problems
that caused the earlier losses of foreign earnings, but nothing was done to
keep tobacco producers on the land, to keep gold miners happy, to make
tourists feel more comfortable or look after the producers in the dozens of
other foreign exchange-earning sectors.
So inflation was driven by
scarcities of foreign exchange. The scarcities gave rise to the development
of a reasonably efficient parallel market for foreign exchange, and this
market permitted the buyers and sellers to negotiate a price - the exchange
rate - at which deals could be made. But for the parallel market, the
downturn in foreign earnings would have had much more serious repercussions
for every business in the country.
Export businesses that survived 2002
and 2003 did so because of the parallel market, and this is no less true for
those dependent on imports.
A few extra complications are affecting
businesses this year, one of which is that the strong demand for goods from
cross-border traders last year has now stopped completely.
in demand left unsold stocks overhanging the market, and many of these goods
were produced with materials that had been paid for with very expensive
money. Competitors sourcing materials more cheaply this year could easily
undercut the prices being sought by those who were trying to recover last
year's costs, so their prices had to be kept down in their efforts
to compete. That also helped to slow the rate of inflation this
Unfortunately, the stocks that were not being sold on the local
market could not be exported either, largely because of the exchange rate
that was established by the so-called auction system from January. The
exchange rates that emerged from this policy were far below those that
exporters would need, particularly if the goods had an import content of any
The "auction" rate did improve in the first few months, but
producer costs - the industrialists inflation rate - rose steeply because
wage settlements were still catching up with earlier higher inflation rates
and Zesa wanted to make up for years of neglect in its maintenance
programmes. Insolvent city councils made things worse when they stepped up
rates to slow their declines into deeper debt traps and many other increases
added to production costs.
Consumer price increases slowed, but
producer price increases appear to have carried on rising as rapidly as
before. New considerations will make sure that the second half of the year in
not a repeat of the first half. Most of the surplus stocks of consumer goods
have been dispersed, but some of them have faced a new source of competition,
cheap imports from the Far East.
For goods of this type, reduced local
production has resulted from difficulties experienced in capturing enough
foreign exchange from the highly regulated currency "auction", but scarcities
will not emerge because of the consignments of low quality production
over-runs that factories in the Far East can dump on to inadequately
protected markets like Zimbabwe's.
At the now virtually fixed exchange
rate, the Zimbabwe dollar is becoming over-valued. This means that many goods
can be more cheaply sourced from abroad if the importer can secure the needed
However, with the damage being done to export revenues,
importers' prospects of capturing these funds will become progressively
worse. Allocations of foreign currency to factories will also suffer and as
customers find they have fewer choices, the cost increases experienced by the
surviving producers will be more easily passed on to their customers, so
more inflation will be the result.
On food stocks and production
volumes, the situation is likely to be even more threatening to inflation.
Government's considerable efforts to persuade the population that food stocks
and harvests are more than adequate have been called into question by every
analyst. Evidence is emerging that the country will need to import a high
proportion of its food requirements.
The dairy, pork and poultry
industries have been cut back to little more than half their former sizes and
producers of canned foods are unable to secure steady flows of their inputs
of vegetables, fruit and meat. Grain imports might be big enough to prevent
complete stock-out situations, but it seems very probable that the
distribution of maize meal will be uneven enough to cause concern.
the first sign of localised shortages, hoarding will begin to absorb large
quantities and we should expect to see these cause more severe shortages over
more extensive areas, and more inflation as the shortages cause hoarding and
further price increases.
If this is what does happen, the rising
inflation will certainly become the target of new government measures. We
might expect, but should not welcome the re-imposition of price controls on
most foods. These will simply cause deepening shortages as black markets
develop. Not for the first time, the real inflation rate will then be much
higher than the official statistics suggest.
IN a televised interview in 1983, the then attorney-general,
Godfrey Chidyausiku, said it was undesirable for Zimbabwe to have a judiciary
that pandered to the government's wishes.
"I don't think it is
desirable that we should have a puppet judiciary," he said. "We should have
an independent judiciary rather than one that panders to the wishes of
government. We should have a judiciary that is prepared to make a decision
that will be unpopular with the government."
Nearly 20 years later, in
April 2002, Chidyausiku, now Chief Justice, at an international conference of
jurists, quoted from an address by Justice Denham of the Supreme Court of
Ireland: "Judicial independence is a precious jewel of democracy, to be
guarded and cherished for the benefit of the people it serves. It is a jewel
of the state. It is fundamental to democracy and the rule of law that the
judiciary be strong, to withstand pressure from any quarter. Yet the
judiciary should be of their times and take account of the changing society
within which judges hold office, while retaining the core principle of their
independence. The judiciary should absorb the light from the society it
Brave words from the country's highest jurist but there is a
price to be paid by judges making unpopular decisions.
former president of the Administrative Court Michael Majuru has opened up to
narrate the circumstances under which he left the country at the beginning of
If his story is true, it would be a major disclosure by a
member of the judiciary and an indictment of government's interference in the
operations of the bench.
Majuru resigned in January and, together with
his family, went into exile in South Africa. He was presiding over the
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe saga, which had gone to the Administrative
Court for a ruling on whether the company should be allowed to publish the
Daily News and the Daily News on Sunday.
Majuru told the media this
week that he was hounded by Justice minister Patrick Chinamasa who wanted him
to disclose how he was going to rule in the ANZ case. He also claims a
businessman allegedly tried to offer him a farm to ensure the two ANZ
publications stayed dead. Majuru said he was threatened and trailed by
intelligence operatives before he decided to resign and leave the country. He
claims that reports were planted in state newspapers to suggest that he was
working in cahoots with British organisations keen to see the ANZ papers
Allegations of governments packing the bench to get
favourable rulings are commonplace in totalitarian states. But imploring a
judge to divulge his ruling outside court is rare and outrageous. Trying to
bribe a judge with land raises fundamental questions about the partiality of
judges who received farms under the fast-track exercise. Their rulings on
challenges to farm acquisitions have sparked controversy.
Zimbabwe's judiciary featured as the least independent of 21 African benches
on the blacklist compiled by the World Economic Forum.
Majuru is not the
only member of the bench to have left in a huff. A number of senior judges
have left the Supreme Court and the High Court in the past few years to
pursue their careers outside the country.
They include Chief Justice
Anthony Gubbay who was induced to retire in July 2001 after loud criticism
from government. The resignation came five days after the Supreme Court
struck down as unconstitutional regulations made by President Mugabe which
attempted to nullify the opposition MDC's petitions against results of the
2000 parliamentary election.
The government was also critical of white
High Court judges David Bartlett, Fergus Blackie, George Smith and Michael
Justice Gubbay earned the ire of the establishment when he
handed down judgements upholding the rule of law. One such ruling condemned
violence and farm invasions.
Judges who have left the bench have not
spoken out on the alleged interference. Their silence has been used by
government to support its mantra that there has not been any interference in
the judiciary - that the re-organisation is meant to make the judiciary
relevant to the status quo.
In fact Chinamasa, whom Majuru cites as a
major source of interference in the operations of the bench, declared in 2002
that there was no government interference in the running of the
But Majuru's disclosure this week confirms the popular
perception of a deliberate purge of the judiciary to ensure the bench becomes
a pliable apparatus of the ruling order. President Mugabe's government, which
is hide-bound in a defensive mode, regards any form of criticism as
a neo-colonial plot to undermine the authority of the incumbent. White
judges were labelled denizens of the Rhodesian era while black judges who
have stood firm in the face of political pressure are treated as instruments
of destabilisation and puppets of the West.
This mindset will however
not cleanse Zimbabwe of its bad boy image, which allows state functionaries
to impugn the integrity of the bench and defy rulings of the highest court
A PREREQUISITE of economic stability and growth is that the
business community be endowed with confidence as to the economy's future,
the security of investments, and the existence and continuance of
When business confidence is high, an economy expands,
for there is then a willingness to develop and diversify existing business
and to invest in new ventures. Employment opportunities are created,
downstream spending in the economy increases, enhanced profits result in
greater revenue flows to the fiscus, import substitution and export
generation intensifies and national economic wellbeing becomes
Sound levels of business confidence also become stimulants for
foreign direct investment, for foreign investors become motivated to invest
in an environment where the local business community is instilled with a
sense of conviction that all is well with the economy and that that economy
will sustain continuing stability and growth.
Where high levels of
business confidence prevail, the potential foreign investor is attracted as
magnetically to the investment opportunities as is the domestic investor. But
when business confidence is depressed, foreign investors are the first to
discard any concepts of investment in the economy which is driven downwards
by that low level of confidence, and look for opportunities
The domestic investor has a like reluctance to invest in any
new enterprise, or to diversify and expand any existing ventures, believing
that the economic environment renders any investment insecure or
Because business confidence is so essential for a sound
economy, the future of the Zimbabwean economy presently appears to be very
bleak, for rarely has the level of business confidence in Zimbabwe been so
depressed. With very rare exception, the business community's confidence
levels have plummeted to an all-time low.
Almost all businesses are
endowed with deep-seated doom and gloom, their prognostications being that
all that can possibly lie ahead are even greater economic ills than presently
confront them. Many suggest that those ills are already of such magnitude as
place the economy beyond redemption.
Such negative perceptions are gross
exaggerations of the morass that is the Zimbabwean economy of today, and are
formulated by having regard only to the adverse conditions that prevail,
without striking a balance by giving recognition also to positive
developments and to prospects of future change. And yet, the present
adversities are so very great that it is not surprising that so many cannot
foresee anything other than further economic decline.
The erosion of
business confidence began when the government embarked upon its land
acquisition, redistribution and resettlement programme in ways which had a
total disregard for justice, equity, preservation of agricultural viability
and economic repercussions. Instead, the programme was wholly driven by
political objectives, ra-cism, bigotry, self-interest anddetermination to
stamp authoritarian control upon the country as a whole.
have been devastating.
First and foremost, the entire economy was, almost
instantly, converted from one of increasing virility to one of extreme
fragility, for agriculture was the foundation upon which almost the entire
economy was built. In a period of only four years, the government
successfully reduced the agricultural sector's contribution to the economy by
It rendered over 300 000 farm workers unemployed,
subjected them and over a million dependants to poverty and misery. It
decimated one of the country's principal sources of much-needed foreign
currency, causing frequent and massive shortages of many essentials and
fuelling rampant inflation.
And the "botched-up" implementation of the
land reform programme became an immediate deterrent to potential investors in
other economic sectors, for an almost instantaneous fear developed that if
the government was willing so arbitrarily to expropriate farms, it could well
decide to do likewise in the future in respect of mines, industries,
commercial enterprises, tourism facilities and urban
Widespread concerns developed that the government would, when
it suited its own ends, unhesitatingly resort to "nationalisation" of any
investments that it deemed fit. After all, it had blatantly disregarded all
fundamentals of justice in its determined pursuit of displacement of whites
from the ownership of their farms, even to the extent of breaching
bilateral investment protection agreements that it had entered into with many
of the countries of the international community.
business and investor communities understandably feared that equally
oppressive, iniquitous and discriminatory actions could be afflicted upon
them in the future. That first loss of business confidence was compounded by
wide-ranging and unhindered abuses of law and order.
spurious authorisation of land acquisition in terms of the oppressive Land
Acquisition Act, thousands invaded farms, intimidated and assaulted farmers -
and, in some instances, murdered them - vandalised the properties,
misappropriated moveables and livestock, and almost always did so without any
endeavour whatsoever by the authorities to contain the breakdown of law and
Instead, the government worked vigorously to modify those laws
which restricted its actions, even if only in theory in view of the
inactivity of the supposed guardians of the law, and to rid itself of those
judges as were not prepared to be accomplices to the government's abuses of
The business world knows that sound and just law, and
uncontained enforcement of such law, is essential for any economy to survive.
So as the infrastructure of Zimbabwean justice was progressively weakened by
the state, so too was business confidence.
This sorry state worsened
further as the government steadily and increasingly adopted a stance of
confrontation with much of the international community. The government
contemptuously failed to implement its agreements with that community, such
as the Paris Donor Accord of 1998 on land reform and the subsequent Abuja
Agreement in 2001, intended to address a constructive land reform
It failed to honour obligations to the International Monetary
Fund, the World Bank, and other international creditors. It embarked upon a
continuing and intensifying path of denigration and contemptuous abuse of
those organisations, and of many of the donor states that had long
The country became increasingly isolated, relying
only upon its membership of the United Nations and the African Union and like
organisations to create a veneer of ongoing cordial international
relationships, but in practice becoming an ever-greater pariah and leper in
the world community.
Business and investors have been inevitably
conscious that the growing isolation impacts more and more, in a deleterious
manner, upon lines of credit, export and import trade, technology transfer
and many other essentials for a thriving economy. Business confidence
continued to fall.
Temporarily, this year, there was some limited upturn
in the perspectives of the business community, when it witnessed the
willingness of new Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono to restore economic
fundamentals, to combat inflation, to restore probity to the financial sector
and to attempt to influence the government towards solid fiscal policies and
But that partial restoration of business
confidence was short-lived. On the one hand, an obdurate, bigoted and
destructive approach by the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture on
issues of fees had devastating effects upon the continuance of operations and
maintenance of standards of many independent schools, resulting in a very
marked escalation in the migration of essential skills from
On the other hand and at the same time, undoubtedly with an eye
on forthcoming elections, the government continued its policies of
land acquisition with even greater vigour and with intensified racist
rhetoric, despite having acquired far more than its own determined hectarage.
That did naught to revive business confidence. Instead, that compliance
was undermined further.
And then the first half of 2004 was
characterised by a witch-hunt by the authorities against businessmen who had
traded foreign currencies within what had become known as "the parallel
market". It was clearly of no consequence to the authorities that most of
those who had done so had been so engaged not in order to externalise wealth,
but in order to keep their businesses operational, their staff employed, the
It was irrelevant to the authorities that those
businessmen had only done that which the government itself had done, and as
had been resorted to recurrently by many of its parastatals. It was equally
irrelevant to them that in a majority of instances the transactions had been
effected through, or with the assistance of, registered banks who, as
authorised dealers of the Reserve Bank, were effectively its
Similarly, of apparently no concern was that such banks had, in
effect, been pardoned for theirinvolvements, having fines imposed upon them
refunded and licences reinstated. But those who were in many instances their
partners in the transactions, have not been pardoned, and instead face
aggressive investigations, prosecu-tions and potentially destroying
The business community sees itself as being harshly
victimised and, therefore, it is not surprising that what little confidence
that remained has been wiped out.
With these and many other factors
business confidence is at an all-time low, which bodes ill for the emaciated
residue of the economy, unless the government immediately pursues a
comprehensive about-turn on its policies and actions.
WHAT qualification does one need to join the Herald as a journalist?
It looks like the geography teacher Caesar Zvayi reckons all he needs is
to attack all and sundry who don't work for the state media.
this week the Herald gave him a long enough robe to expose himself. While he
appeared keen that the Media and Information Commission should enforce
ethical standards in the media, he didn't think it was necessary to be bound
by the same.
He was full of praise for an unnamed foreign delegate to
last week's Zanu PF national youth congress who claimed: "The only problem in
Zimbabwe is the media, for all the perceived problems originate and exist
Caesar then launched into a diatribe against privately-owned
media as the source of all the country's problems. Can anybody then take him
seriously as a teacher at a distinguished Harare school? All the problems
such as fuel shortages, transport, foreign currency, high inflation, water
and power outages are the creation of the privately-owned media? Is that what
he is teaching his students?
We ask this not because we don't know the
obvious answer. We are surprised that somebody talking about ethics can lie
so unashamedly in a government publication with impunity. Even Zanu PF itself
has acknowledged that the country is facing serious problems on many fronts.
Yet Zvayi wants us to believe all this is fiction. After exposing the fiction
in the "reactionary media" Zvayi concludes smugly: "The MIC (Media and
Information Commission) must ensure that standards prevail in our media by
making sure that ethics are respected in all newspapers operating on
Zvayi, with deliberate lack of hindsight, does not
believe that the story about the MDC plotting to bomb all tall buildings was
a work of fiction by the Chronicle. How about the editor of the same paper
inventing a story about what happened at an editor's meeting in Namibia?
The state media has its own set of ethics founded on the principle that you
can lie with impunity about your political opponents.
instructive that Zvayi ends his article by making contradictions that only an
ill-informed teacher can make. He says the media "is a critical institution
in any society as it shapes opinions and moulds consciousness.An ill-informed
elec-torate is a threat to democracy."
There are bound to be many
ill-informed voters if teachers deliberately seek to mislead readers and
students about the country's source of problems. And what opinions is he
giving students? Pity the poor souls abandoned to propagandists masquerading
as opinion makers!
How many people have listened to Professor
Jonathan Moyo's latest musical offering called Back2Black? The Sunday Mail's
Under the Surface columnist appears to think that the CD has been a run away
success. He says the album "comprises danceable love songs that have already
taken the airwaves by storm".
It would be interesting to know if Under
the Surface actually bought the CD or got a complimentary copy. But we are
still to find out which radio or TV station has been hit by the Victoria
By the way, nobody has been able to give us a breakdown of
how much the junket cost to produce. And who paid for the many guests who
were transported to Victoria Falls on an Air Zimbabwe plane, booked into
Elephant Hills Hotel over night before the launch of the album? Why was it
treated as if it were a state function when it was a personal project of
But we liked the extravagance of it. While Harare
residents are going without water and electricity for various reasons, and
people are reportedly dying of hunger in Bulawayo and Nkayi, Moyo can book
his colleagues into a plane to go and launch a music album away from the
madding crowd in Victoria Falls. While we lesser mortals are forced to listen
to some silly jingle about non-available Zesa power, Moyo has resources
enough at his disposal to indulge the refined taste of his ilk with
"danceable love songs". We hope the electorate will remember all this when
voting time comes.
We enjoyed the puff piece on the Agricultural
and Rural Development Authority (Arda) by one of many new Zanu PF farmers,
Emilia Zindi in the Herald on Monday. She told readers Arda was taking over
underutilised land to increase production.
An example of such
underutilised land was Kintyre Estates outside Harare. Our patriotic friend
didn't have the courage to tell her readers who is responsible for the
wasteland that is Kintyre Estates today. Isn't it one of the classic examples
of what went wrong with the so-called land reform? And what became of the
motley plots that were touted as a replacement for the once productive dairy
and maize farming project that fell victim to Zanu
According to Zindi, a drive to one of Arda's estates
in Middle Sabi in Chipinge last week showed that "indeed production is at the
highest level. The 20 000-hectare estate is a hive of activity. Estate
manager Luxmore Madzikanda took the Sunday Mail on a tour of the estate,
which has 2 500 hectares under wheat."
So 2 500 hectares out of 20 000
is what Zindi understands by "the highest level" of production? What was
happening before Arda moved in if all they can boast of is 2 500
Unfortunately embedded state media reporters are not likely to
ask inconvenient questions of their benefactors. We can also safely
conclude that there wasn't much to report about on Kondozi Farm and
Charleswood Estate which Arda has invaded.
Lowani Ndlovu is
chafing under the collar. He certainly knows a thing or two that President
Robert Mugabe and all his cabinet ministers, party supporters, the politburo
and the central committee don't know. Going by his latest instalment in the
Sunday Mail, everybody in government and the party is stupid. They don't know
what is meant by multiple farm ownership. They don't know that all
newly-acquired land is owned by the state. They don't know that if you are a
true Zanu PF supporter and can use the land productively you can have as many
farms as you wish.
So President Mugabe was wrong when he declared last
week that: "As per our tradition, a man can have as many wives as he wants as
long as he can look after them. Unfortunately the same cannot be said about
farms?" He added, for purposes of clarity: "We are going to have one-man
one-farm. Even if you have two wives, you are entitled to only one
We might add also that the policy applies even if you have sisters
and other relatives. The new policy by Lowani flies in the face of
Mugabe's pronouncement that he was working with Lands minister John Nkomo to
make sure those allocated more than one farm surrendered the
Lowani now wants everybody who has more than one farm to give up
the extra land "regardless of how and when these MDC types acquired the
multiple farms. It is also a fact that many so-called neutrals in the
business community are multiple farm owners and they all claim to have bought
the farms when closer scrutiny indicates otherwise," he
But Lowani can't be so illiterate as to fail to notice the
distinction between land allocated for free by the state and land bought by
individuals well before the fast-track land reform. Surely Lowani doesn't
think that he can muddy a simple policy issue by pretending that it is MDC
supporters and so-called Rhodies who are multiple farm owners.
fact, it does appear that his attack is aimed at Mugabe. "Besides, there' s
an obvious stupidity inherent to the proposition that any
newly-resettled farmer allocated land under the fast-track land reform
programme could be a multiple farm owner. That is just not possible because
even idiots know that the land is owned by the state," said Lowani
So Mugabe and John Nkomo are so ill-informed as to be unaware
of important legal distinctions between a freehold land tenure system which
implies title and land owned by the state? Muckraker reckons leaders in Zanu
PF and government are allowing Lowani enough rope to hang himself.
he knows people who are multiple farm owners, let him expose them.
If government has not acquired a farm that was bought before the
fast-track land reform, it means such a farm is not targeted. Let's not try
to fudge issues. As the Igbo proverb goes, an old woman feels unease when old
bones are mentioned in a conversation.
Lowani should not be allowed to
get away with cheap double standards to circumvent incovenient party
policies. He would do well to recall what he said a few weeks ago. When Nkomo
said land was going to be nationalised it was Lowani who said there was
nothing like that. He said all land held under existing tenure systems
remained as such except for land recently acquired by the state for
So why is he worried about those who bought land before the
fast-track acquisitions? In any case, what stops Zimbabwe from having two
systems running side by side - freehold and leasehold?
could not understand the Herald headline last Friday: "Water shortage looms"
with a subhead telling us "Morton Jaffray equipment rotten, broken down". Two
weeks earlier the same newspaper printed a timetable showing that nearly
two-thirds of Harare and its satellite towns were facing critical water
shortages. There has been no change in most suburbs. We wonder what the
situation will be like when the "looming shortages" finally set in.
thought that Zanu PF governors for Harare and Bulawayo would work magic where
MDC councillors and mayors had been denied resources.
the Herald also ran a story in which four companies donated equipment valued
at $150 million to Avondale police for use in the fight against crime in
Harare and surrounding areas.
Speaking at the handover ceremony, Home
Affairs minister Kembo Mohadi said: "It is encouraging to recognise that the
fight against crime is not a lone battle for the police as members of the
corporate world and the residents have come in handy to
Sitting below a picture of the minister "trying" one of the
motorcycles was a story headlined: "Cops accused of robbing gold
The story said two police officers in Chipinge had been
"arrested for allegedly robbing three gold panners of millions of dollars and
household property worth nearly $90 million".
sincerely want to hope that the juxtaposition of the two stories was purely
coincidental and not meant to impugn the reputation of our illustrious
Talking of juxtapositions and coincidences, the Herald
Business on Wednesday last week had two pictures on facing pages B2 and B3.
This is what the caption on B2 said:
"An elderly farmer leads his
mule, which is pulling a Chinese-made Cherry taxi along a street in Xi'an, in
China's Shaanxi province, hired by the taxi owner in a show of protest
against the car company for the shoddy workmanship causing the vehicle to be
repaired 100 times in one year."-AFP.
Directly opposite was a picture of
an Air Zimbabwe plane. The caption read: "The national airline, Air Zimbabwe,
is to acquire a long haul aircraft from China soon to ply the Asian
If you can read the first caption, you can't say you were
not warned. There is already an outcry from people buying cheap Chinese goods
at flea markets dotted across the city.
US debt relief Bill skips Zim Godfrey
Marawanyika ZIMBABWE has been excluded from a United States Bill providing
for the cancellation of debts owed to the International Monetary Fund (IMF)
by selected 50 poor countries.
The Justice and Understanding by IMF
Loan Elimination and Equity (Jubilee) Bill comes at a time when Zimbabwe is
reeling under US$220 million arrears to the Bretton Woods
If enacted into law, Jubilee intends to cancel
multilateral debts owed to the IMF by eligible poor countries, while
promoting human and economic development and poverty
"The IMF shall cancel all debts owed to the IMF by
eligible poor countries, and finance the debt cancellation from ongoing
operations, procedures and accounts of the IMF established as of the end of
the most recent fiscal year, including the Poverty Reduction and Growth
Facility (formerly known as the Enhanced Structural Adjustment Facility," the
The Bill says the waiting period for debt "cancellation
shall not exceed one month from the date of eligible poor country's
application for debt cancellation".
The Bill would have been a
huge relief to Zimbabwe which is struggling to resuscitate an economy torn
apart by a controversial land redistribution exercise and a breakdown of the
rule of law.
Eligible poor countries cited in the Bill are Angola,
Bangladesh, Benin, Bolivia, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cambodia,
Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Cote d'Ivoire, the Democratic
Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau,
Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Kenya, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali,
Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria,
Peru, Philippines, Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal,
Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda, Vietnam, Yemen and
The Jubilee Bill was authored by Democrat Maxine Waters,
assisted by Republican Jim Leach, Democrat Barney Frank, Republican Spencer
Bachus and Democrat Barbara Lee.
The Bill clearly states that a
country won't get any relief if the government has excessive military
expenditures or has repeatedly provided support for acts of international
A country can also be denied debt cancellation if its
government is failing to cooperate on international narcotics control
matters, or if the government - including its military or other security
forces - engages in a pattern of gross violation of internationally
recognised human rights.
Waters said although they could not obtain
full debt cancellation for poor countries, their efforts had led to the
development of the enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative to
provide debt relief.
In 2000, the US government passed the Zimbabwe
Democracy Act, a legislation that made it illegal for either the
administration or firms operating in the US to help Harare
Case for a single financial regulator By Alex Tawanda
Magaisa THE government of Zimbabwe responded to the financial crisis that
engulfed the country at the start of the year by introducing a plethora
of legislative changes. These laws include amendments to the Criminal
Procedure and Evidence Act, the Anti-Corruption Commission Act, the
Securities Act, the Asset Management Act and bank regulations.
of perpetuating and adding to a multiple sector-based regulatory structure,
Zimbabwe needs a unified structure of regulation with a single regulator in
the financial industry at the centre.
The phenomenon of the single
financial regulator such as the Financial Services Regulator (FSR) is not
novel. It has become a major international trend with China being one of the
latest countries to introduce a similar structure with the formation of the
China Banking Regulation Commission last year.
organisations such as the IMF have expressed support for typical
institutional structural arrangements in the UK when it created the unified
Financial Services Authority between 1997 and 2000.
Besides the UK,
other countries that have introduced a single authority include Japan, South
Korea, Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Ireland, Sweden and Luxembourg. In light of
this, it would be well in line with the growing international trend to move
towards the creation of a more unified regulatory structure for the financial
This international trend is based on strong
The FSR would be responsible for the admission and
registration of all financial entities and would set standards of regulatory
compliance, which would be a departure from the current system where the
players are licensed by a particular body and regulated by another. For
example under the current regime the Ministry of Finance and Economic
Development is responsible for the licensing and registration of commercial
banks while the RBZ is responsible for the regulation. It would be more
effective for the regulator to be in control of the licensing and
registration of players. The FSR would be charged with the responsibility of
supervising and regulating the financial industry as a whole.
coverage of its role would include traditional banking, insurance, securities
regulation, asset management, investment and pension funds etc. It would also
be responsible for countering money-laundering, promoting investor
protection, public awareness and maintaining market
Firstly, the traditional distinctions between business
sectors and products in the financial industry are becoming blurred mainly
due to the technological progress, financial innovation, globalisation and
competition within the industry. The function-based institutional structures
were traditionally designed for firms that dealt in a limited and specific
set of functions such as insurance, deposit taking, lending, investment
However, the growth of conglomerates through mergers and
acquisitions as well as internal growth means that many institutions cut
across the traditional sectoral divisions in the industry.
companies move away from focussing on limited activities
towards multi-sectoral areas such as deposit-taking, corporate finance,
insurance, asset management, investment funds, it becomes necessary to bring
the regulation under a single roof. It becomes harder to regulate on
a functional basis since firms are no longer restricted to specific
functions. Rather it is imperative to consider the financial group as whole
in order to avoid a narrow function-based assessment.
As may have
been apparent in some financial institutions during the crisis, the solvency
of a company is best measured on a broader group inquiry. The growth of asset
management firms occurred within a regulatory lacuna and authorities reacted
only when the problems had matured. With the FSR dedicated to regulation of
the sector, it would have been better able to react to these developments at
an early stage and set up proper mechanisms for their
The FSR would also bring in efficiency gains for the
regulator, the regulated and the investing public.
would reduce the number of multiple regulators involved in the different
sectors. That would also reduce potential for conflict of interest and
responsibilities between the different regulators dealing with the
same entities. It is easier for consumers and investors to deal with a
single channel of communication provided by the FSR.
better mechanisms of communication and co-ordination would ease problems in
the present structure, it becomes more complicated and difficult to manage
particularly with the blurring of functional distinctions in
It also avoids duplication of responsibilities and
complexity. Regulation is costly for firms and these costs increase when they
have to deal with multiple regulators. Most firms have had to create
compliance departments filled with lawyers who have to attend to the
regulatory issues concerning the firm. The more the regulators they have to
deal with, the greater the need for more staff and systems. Indeed that
entails the incidence of greater the expense. A single regulator would unify
systems and ensure that there is a uniform playing ground with standards that
are more systematic.
Clearly there are economies of scale to be gained
from the unification of regulators into a single FSR.
the FSR would be more accountable both politically and publicly than under
the current situation. The RBZ is more accountable to the politicians than to
the consumers and the institutions that it regulates. It uses public funds
for regulatory purposes and accounts to the government. The creation of an
autonomous regulator would make it more accountable
Like the Financial Services Authority in the UK, it
would be required to produce an annual report and would be subject to review
by legislative committees to ensure that there is
The objectives of the FSA are clearly stated in the
law and its performance is measured against those standards.
the current set up in Zimbabwe, it is also very difficult to
legal accountability of the RBZ. Although no case has come before
the courts it would be hard to succeed in a claim against the RBZ for
regulatory failures. Although Time Bank is currently suing the RBZ, it is not
precisely a case about regulatory failures. In the UK, the Bank of England is
being sued by the liquidator in a protracted legal battle arising from
the collapse of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) in
the early 1990s.
An autonomous FSR would be directly responsible for
its role as the regulator. In my view, courts are more likely to be willing
to find such an authority liable compared to a central bank.
removal of the regulatory function from the RBZ would also enable it
concentrate fully on its primary role as the monetary authority. It
would increase professional levels and reduce the potential for conflict
of interest within the bank. Under the present system, the RBZ might use
public funds to rescue firms for purposes of covering its own
regulatory shortfalls. It may also fiddle with interest rates to save ailing
banks instead of concentrating on preventing inflation at the national
The regulatory function would also get better prominence than
has been the case in recent years. That means that the single regulator will
be able to retain and train human resources suitably qualified and
remunerated for the work that they do. There are charges that in most cases
the regulatory departments of the central banks are often under-capitalised
and poorly resourced leading to general attitudes of neglect.
single regulator would be able to build capacity from a wider pool
of resources since it is the regulated institutions that primarily
contribute to its funding. The removal of the regulatory function does not
entail that the RBZ would be totally removed from the scene. It will still be
necessary to retain key communication and co-ordination channels but it is
far better for the RBZ to do that with one authority than with multiple
regulators in different sectors of the industry.
The trend towards
establishing a single regulatory authority in the financial industry has
gained prominence in most countries. It is reflective of the dismantling of
sectoral boundaries and international barriers. Traditional banks are no
longer the only intermediaries that take money from the public.
are more players and instruments such as asset management
companies, insurance, investment units and while the protection of the
uninformed investors is a key aspect of regulation it is not adequate to
concentrate only on traditional banking institutions.
the creation of a single authority brings in economies of scale and
simplifies the regulatory platform for both the regulated and the consumers.
The authority may be a government agency as in China but preferably it would
be an autonomous organisation with primary funds coming from the regulated
entities to which it is accountable. It is just a small step in restoring and
developing the credibility of Zimbabwe's financial system and bringing it in
line with the growing international standards.
Magaisa is Baker & McKenzie Lecturer in Corporate & Commercial Law at
The University of Nottingham, UK. He can be contacted at: Alex.firstname.lastname@example.org
Zim drags heels on Nepad Shakeman Mugari ZIMBABWE
continues to drag its heels in fully embracing Nepad, raising fears the
country could be reluctant to undergo the African economic
recovery blue-print's key peer review prerequisite.
Zimbabwe's lack of enthusiasm for the New Partnership for Africa's
Development (Nepad) programmes is a clear indication the country has not yet
addressed its tainted human rights record and restore the rule of
Zimbabwe might miss out on donor funding expected to pour in for
those African countries that have fully embraced Nepad and its stringent
peer review mechanism.
Nepad, a brainchild of South African
President Thabo Mbeki and Nigeria's Olusegun Obasanjo launched three years
ago, has received strong backing from the international donor
Zimbabwe adopted the initiative in 2002 after initially
indicating Nepad was a neo-liberal programme biased towards Western nations
which the country is fighting.
However, two years after embracing
the concept, Zimbabwe is yet to implement a programme under the partnership,
raising doubts over the country's commitment to the
Zimbabwe is now seen as a major problem in the
implementation of Nepad in the region.
Other African countries
have embraced the initiative and have taken steps to meet the stringent
measures under the Nepad programme.
South Africa, the most active
member in the programme, has set up Nepad divisions in each government
ministry. Ghana has a ministry responsible for Nepad programmes while other
member countries have departments to coordinate the activities of the
Zimbabwe is still to establish an office to deal with
There is also policy contradiction on Nepad by the
government. Former Finance minister Simba Makoni was pro-Nepad while
President Robert Mugabe and several ministers remained sceptical about the
The government has also confessed that it is not ready to be
scrutinised under the peer review, a mechanism used by member countries to
measure compliance with good governance, the rule of law and human rights
In an interview last year, Finance and Economic Development
minister Herbert Murerwa said Zimbabwe was not prepared for a peer
"Our position is that this is a voluntary and individual
choice by someAfrican
countries," said Murerwa. "And we have chosen
not to be reviewed. Weare not prepared. It will be a government decision.
When the government decides the time is ripe we will volunteer for
Analysts say Zimbabwe's reluctance to come under the
spotlight shows itsnon-compliance with democratic norms. They say the
government is aware that ithas not improved its human rights record and
delivery on democracy.
"Zimbabwe has ground itself into a rut. It is
deliberately unwilling to be reviewed," said human rights activist and
political commentator, Brian Kagoro.
"They are not willing to be
reviewed for political reasons. They know that they will not meet the
standards set out under Nepad and they will open themselves to regional
criticism which the government does not want at
Ghana, Rwanda and Mauritius are currently being
subjected to the peer review process by other member
Recently, Malawi, Tanzania, Angola, Lesotho and Sierra
Leone opened their doors for peer review into their systems of
This brings to 23 the number of countries that have
volunteered for peer review.
Mugabe blasts local business Staff Writer PRESIDENT
Robert Mugabe has criticised Zimbabwe's business community for its continued
over-reliance on Western markets at a time the country has seen an increase
in tourist arrivals from Asia.
Opening the Fifth Session of the Fifth
Parliament on Tuesday, Mugabe said although he had encouraged the business
sector to break the spell towards the West for investments, imports, exports
and loans, none had headed his calls.
enterprises that have shaped and defined our thrust are, in the majority of
cases, unambitious subsidiaries of major companies in South Africa, Britain
and America, caught in a time warp and hopelessly hide-bound," Mugabe
"Consequently, enormous possibilities presented by the
burgeoning third world economic regions doing much better than much-vaunted,
yet risky and even declining, West have escaped us."
announced that government had stopped the policy of blind privatisation, and
the expectation was that parastatals - once reformed, commercialised and
properly re-oriented - would be the cutting edge of the country's economic
The president's comments come in the wake of a recent policy
paper by the Privatisation Agency of Zimbabwe which states that it has
targeted nine parastatals for complete restructuring by
Mugabe said tourism had remained one of the country's pillars
of the economy, adding that the sector had since recorded growth from
"Already, statistics show an increase of 40% in
arrivals from that region following the establishment of tourism promotional
offices in Beijing and Kuala Lumpur," he said. Although there has been
concern about the government's land-based wildlife management, which gives
conservancy owners 25-year leases, Mugabe defended the move saying this was
part of indigenisation.
Inflation - no deflation here: price increases By
Addmore Chakurira LAST week, the Central Statistical Office (CSO) released
the June 2004 inflation figures.
Headline inflation has continued its
decline from a high of 622,8% in January to 448,8% in May, and then to 394,6%
This can be attributed to a tight monetary policy, depressed
demand and prices coming off a higher base.
Of the 394,6%
year-on-year rate of inflation, food inflation accounted for 430,6% (down
51,2 percentage points on the May rate) and core inflation 373% (slowing by
56,8 percentage points on the May rate).
The 430,6% was mainly
attributable to increases in bread and cereals (723,1%), condiments and
confectionery (509,5%), meat (437,7%), and fruit and vegetables
However, month-on-month headline inflation, which has been
on a downward slide since January, jumped from 6% in May to 9,2% in
Notable increases were recorded in bread and cereals, fruit and
vegetables, meat, beverages and public transport. The figures released do not
factor in the recent increases of soft drinks, postage rates and telephone
Lies, damn lies and statistics?
There has been
considerable debate on the accuracy of the reported official figures, with
some believing that the figures are stage-managed.
It needs to be noted
that inflation is an increase in the overall average level of prices (of
consumer goods and services) and not in an increase in the price of any
specific product, measured using the Consumer Price
The CSO uses the Income, Consumption and Expenditure
Survey (ICES) to determine a representative bundle of goods and services
purchased by a typical household. The survey is carried once after every five
years, thus fixing the basket of goods and services allowing only the prices
The CPI measures the cost of purchasing a market basket of
goods and services by a typical household during a time period relative to
the cost of the same bundle during a base year; currently the base year is
1995. Results of the latest ICES done in 2000 are not yet out due to
The CSO records average prices for a
"market basket" of different items purchased by the typical family, on a
monthly basis. Price collectors contact retail stores, homeowners, and
tenants in the 10 provinces around the country. The weights, which are used
to calculate the index, are based on the pattern of household expenditure
derived from the ICES. Because the market basket and the weights are not
revised often enough, they might not be reflective of the current situation
especially in this hyperinflation environment.
The CPI only covers
a portion of the economy and distortions are inherent due to the current
discrepancies in the economy (wide gap between the haves and have-nots). With
the data collection problems the CPI can understate the impact of inflation
for certain groups. During the price control era (late 2002 to early 2003)
only official prices were used for calculating the CPI, even when the goods
were not available on the shelves.
There is also a considerable time
lag in collecting the actual data, eg. school fees, are generally collected
twice a year. With greater stability in the consumption basket's composition,
measures of the CPI make more sense. That said, some of the data problems are
truly insoluble, and we have numbers, which are more or less useful but in no
sense precise measures as a result of technical issues as opposed to a desire
to misrepresent facts.
Real incomes under siege
real incomes have been dwindling as the rate of inflation has been greater
than the rate of income. For example a nominal income of say $1 million in
2002 would equate to some $3 000 after adjusting for inflation.
volatile food inflation indicator has spiked up exerting a lot of pressure on
wages. The current wage and salary adjustments might result in a wage spiral
as companies try to remain afloat to the detriment of inflation and the
economy as a whole.
Business can also contribute to cost-push
inflation by raising prices to increase profits especially the monopolies
and/or oligopolies. Because the current tax system set rates on nominal
income, people are paying higher marginal tax rates.
The tax the
government imposes on nominal interest on investments creates another cost of
inflation for savers. The authorities should consider changing the tax system
to index income for inflation. This means that the income level at which
higher marginal tax rates apply floats upward based on inflation
The indexation might eliminate bracket creep. This will help
in keeping demand at acceptable levels to the benefit of industry, which is
faced with reduced demand and is operating below capacity. Productivity,
which is a key variable to economic recovery, is hard hit by depressed local
The markets and the populace at large eagerly await a review of
the tax system.
Inflation remains high
strokes on producer and consumer prices continue skyrocketing. Inflationary
pressures still exist in the form of a weak local currency, rising world oil
prices, spiraling local costs, shortage of power in the region and high money
supply. That said, inflation is generally expected to ease in the long run
aided by the reduction in inflation psychosis, depressed demand and a tight
However, the months of July/August might steal
momentum from the inflation slowdown as inflation might spike up due to the
recent price hikes.
herein has been derived from sources believed to be reliable but is not
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Minutes of the Methodist Conference of 2003 relating to
Zimbabwe read: "Conference has heard of the difficult situation in
That pathetic response to a major international crisis causing
intense suffering to millions of Zimbabweans provoked at least four districts
around the Connexion to take a closer look at the tragedy in Zimbabwe and to
move strongly to persuade the Conference this time around to adopt a stance
both more realistic and prophetic. Alas, their efforts proved futile against
a determined staff who contrived to prevent the Conference from listening
(for just three and a half minutes!) to the sound track of a recording of one
who truly speaks for the voiceless in Zimbabwe - Archbishop Pius
The resolution acknowledging a commitment to speak out
prophetically against the oppression being visited upon the suffering people
of Zimbabwe was "not put" and in the end the Conference settled for a
meaningless resolution to set up a talk shop called the Zimbabwe Reference
My concern is with the intense suffering of the people of
Zimbabwe under a fascist dictatorship which is in effect waging an undeclared
war on its own people. My concern is that the Methodist Church should listen
to the cries of a suffering people, and let their response be shaped by what
those suffering people are saying rather than paying heed to others who have
shown themselves to be compliant with a godless regime and even benefit
materially through their complicity.
Two things strike me about
the reports I have received of the carefully choreographed proceedings, the
all-too limited debate which took place and the hopelessly inept resolution
to which the Conference was led.
First there was little sense of the
ferocious evil that Zimbabweans are now facing on a daily basis. And, closely
related, there was no real sense of urgency about the matter.
the Conference aware when it refused to do anything more than set up a talk
-That opposition forces in Zimbabwe are being terrorised and
that politically-motivated torture, rape and murder are now touching the
lives of thousands?;
-That President Mugabe had just rammed through
parliament a Bill which introduces preventative and punitive detention
provisions reminiscent of the worst of the South African apartheid
- That at the same time as the Conference was deliberating,
Amnesty International (South Africa) published an open letter to the South
African president, Thabo Mbeki, expressing the urgent need "to intensify
efforts to publicly signal to the Zimbabwean government that the violation of
human rights is unacceptable"?;
- That a few days later an African
Union report surfaced at the AU summit in Addis Ababa, in which the Mugabe
regime was lambasted for flagrant human rights abuses?;
- That the
United Nations estimates that nine out of 10 Zimbabweans are living below the
poverty datum line and that international aid agencies reckon that at least
three million people will need food aid before the year is
Little wonder then that last month James Morris, the UN's
special envoy for humanitarian needs, remarked: "What is happening in
southern Africa represents the most serious humanitarian crisis in the world
today. The crisis dwarfs even that in the conflict-ridden Sudanese region of
I cannot believe that if the Conference had been aware of
these realities it would have been satisfied with the response put forward.
But as the South African government has hitherto attempted to shield
President Mugabe from international censure through the now-threadbare policy
of "quiet diplomacy", so the leaders of our Methodist Church have taken it
upon themselves to exercise their own form of quiet diplomacy to protect
from criticism those in the church in Zimbabwe who are compliant with
a tyrannical regime. And this form of ecclesiastical diplomacy has tended
to shape their whole policy towards the sister church, preventing them
from exercising an objective judgement or offering that form of
constructive criticism which "speaking the truth in love" would surely
require of them.
Make no mistake, this is not a matter of emphasis
leadership style or even party allegiance as some have suggested. It is a
matter of the truth against a lie, goodness against evil, light against
darkness - in stark terms, the life or death of a nation.
It is a
question of finding the courage to confront an evil so monstrous that, if
unchecked, will create a human catastrophe of major proportions and make a
spiritual wilderness of what Julius Nyerere once called "the jewel
I can only record my own profound dismay at the
Conference's conspicuous silence. In such a situation, is not a silent church
a contradiction in terms? Those courageous Zimbabweans who are daily risking
life and liberty for the sake of the values of truth and justice, did not ask
you to remain silent, and frankly they deserved better of
Just a few months ago Desmond Tutu said of the situation in this
country: "The silence of those who will not speak out makes them complicity
in the evil." That judgement applies as much to a silent church in Britain as
to a silent church in Zimbabwe.
ZIMBABWE has a very strong civil society sector, yet except for
Misa, the NCA, Crisis Zimbabwe and Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, very
few others have cared to challenge the sustained assault on, and erosion of
the precious few rights we enjoy.
The action against the Mail &
Guardian last week is an extension of that taken against foreign news
correspondents and local newspapers such as the Daily News, the Daily News on
Sunday and The Tribune.
The raid on the Mail & Guardian bank
account is the first step in seeking a stop to the newspaper's circulation in
Zimbabwe. I therefore do not understand whether the silence by civil society
organisations suggests that they prefer a situation where only state-run
newspapers are the mirrors of our society.
We know of their
superlative efforts at distorting reality and our condition. I can't imagine
a more insidious threat to our freedom of expression as well as to the right
to receive and impart information.
If our silent civil society
organisations believe the action against the M&G will stop or end there,
then they need to reflect on who ever believed the action against Joseph
Winter (BBC), Colin Blair (The Telegraph) and Mercedes Sayagues (M&G)
would end with expulsions.
The ultimate targets are the publishers of
the Independent and the Standard.
The "fishing expedition", as the
M&G publisher Trevor Ncube rightly describes it, has the intention of
ferreting out something - anything that will stick against the Independent
and the Standard before the Media and Information Commission pronounces the
closure of the papers, depriving Zimbabweans of an alternative news source
ahead of next year's parliamentary election.
It is for this reason
that civil society organisations need to meet and consider this threat. It is
time to tell the authorities: "Zvakwana, we have had enough abuse!" If we
don't, we have none but ourselves to blame.
rates have just been increased again, this time about fourfold.
airmail letter weiging up to 10 grammes to Europe now costs $17 000 to post
against $4 200 last week. It is interesting to note that a 10 gramme airmail
letter posted from Switzerland to Zimbabwe costs CHF1,80.
this by the current auction exchange rate and you get about $7 700! We are
being asked to pay 2,2 times as much for postage in forex than a first world
country - almost twice as much if one uses the parallel
Who is ripping off who? Would the director of
Zimpost like to comment before consumer resistance creates yet more
unemployment in Zimbabwe.
ON Sunday my cousin was
attacked at gun-point by four men in Cranborne at around 2pm as she was
walking to a friend's house.
A black Japanese Corolla with tinted windows
and bearing no number plate drove past and stopped a little way in front of
her. Suddenly the men in their mid thirties jumped out and grabbed
They removed her wedding rings and gold chains and also grabbed
her hand bag.
As if that wasn't enough, they grabbed her by the
neck and forced her mouth open. They battled to open the top of a small
bottle that they carried but a man who was walking by distracted them. They
let go of her, rushed into their car and drove off leaving behind the small
bottle containing a liquid.
The labs confirmed that the solution was
used by doctors to drug patients when they went for surgery.
drug would knock one out and instantly put him to sleep. One can only wonder
what would have happened had they managed to drug
PRESIDENT Mugabe opened parliament on Tuesday amid the
traditional pomp and ceremony, steeped in the British pageantry of wigs and
The opening of the House, as has become the norm, lived up
to its prosaic billing as the usual presidential blood and thunder was
countered by tradition and ceremony.
Our octogenarian leader
on such occasions has to stick to the written speech, which does not afford
him the sabre-rattling opportunity to brandish his fist and utter choice
expletives against opponents.
Thus the major highlight for the
forlorn crowd seated in the Africa Unity Square was the very colourful sight
of horses, the vintage Rolls Royce, and the procession of black judges in
shoulder length curly white wigs led by the Sergeant-at-Arms carrying the
ceremonial mace. The practice of carrying maces dates back to the 14th
century and Sergeants-at-Arms were armed with maces and sworn to protect the
King's person. In modern-day parliaments the mace is said to represent the
authority of the speaker.
The ceremonies around the opening of
parliament and the conducting of its business are rooted in the British Royal
ceremonies, which were then passed on to Commonwealth
But the British themselves have started to discard
some of the paraphernalia and ceremonies associated with the
In October last year the British Lord Chancellor broke
with centuries of tradition by ditching the elaborate costume worn by his
predecessors at historic ceremonies. Lord Falconer donned an ordinary suit
for the judges' service marking the start of the legal year.
In 1998 Queen Elizabeth II dropped 14 worthies from the royal procession at
the formal opening of the legislative session - all victims of the
modernisation of the monarchy.
Perhaps Zimbabwe should start by
dropping the wigs and replace them with a more appropriate headdress. The
mace can also go and be replaced by the Nyami Nyami walking stick! Remember
Mugabe received a leopard skin in 1996 during his inauguration as president.
Should he not wear this on state occasions in addition or instead of the gold
chain and sash?
Lest we forget, Zimbabwe left the Commonwealth
in December last year because it is "evil and racist". Justice minister
Patrick Chinamasa has spoken of the need to remove vestiges of colonialism
from the country's institutions including the judiciary.
must begin to exorcise from all our institutions the racist ghost of (former
Rhodesian leader) Ian Smith and we do so by phasing out his disciples and
sympathisers," he said in 2001, just before the reorganisation of the Supreme
Should he not be thinking of exorcising the ghost
of the Bench's regalia - especially the white wigs?
there are also Zimbabwean traits that have become synonymous with the opening
Thousands of Harare residents got to work late
on Tuesday morning because police decided to check the face of every person
driving into the city. This might sound ridiculous but I did not understand
what they were looking for at roadblocks set up on all major roads leading
into the city.
Along Robert Mugabe Road just before the Vehicle
Inspection Depot, a visibly tired policeman appeared unsure of his
Standing in the middle of a lane leading into the
city, he would stop all vehicles travelling in the inner lane and signal a
dozen in the outer lane to pass. He continued the routine alternating between
the lanes. Three other policemen were chatting on the
I did not see a vehicle being searched for dangerous
weapons or unroadworthy contraptions being taken off the road. An old
Landrover truck carrying about 20 standing passengers went
through the roadblock unchallenged.
The result of this
policeman's pointless exercise was a traffic snarl-up from the roadblock to
Braeside shopping centre.
There was a moment of immense danger
on the level crossing along Chiremba Road when the Freedom Train from Mabvuku
rolled through, missing by a few inches a number of vehicles stuck in the jam
near the railway line.
My seven-kilometre drive from home to
work, which normally takes 10 minutes in the morning rush hour, took an hour
and seven minutes. We now await the police to tell us how many saboteurs and
criminals were nabbed in the huge operation. Not to mention manhours lost as
most employees were late for work.
I was in Murehwa on
Monday where I had been subpoenaed to testify as state witness in a case
before the court there. After attending court, a police constable told me to
go to the office of the clerk of court to be reimbursed for my transport
expenses since I was on state duty.
"We pay 70c per kilometre,"
the court official said with a straight face. The journey from Murehwa and
back is 180 km, which would have made my compensation 12 600c or $126. Is
Chinamasa being paid this rate when he travels on government