|The ZIMBABWE Situation||Our
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- may peace, truth and justice prevail.
Mugabe set to meet Tsvangirai for talks
FATHER Fidelis Mukonori of the Catholic Church says President Mugabe will
soon meet MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to break the political impasse
gripping the country.
In a wide-ranging interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week,
Mukonori, who has been involved in shuttle diplomacy between Mugabe and
Tsvangirai, said he had made contact with Zanu PF and the MDC to find a
solution to the "agonisingly multifaceted" Zimbabwean crisis.
"Indeed Mugabe and Tsvangirai will be meeting soon," he said.
they meet when they are both Zimbabweans? They still have a key role to play
in the quest for a solution to the current problems."
He declined to divulge details of the meetings saying it
his "role as an honest mediator". He however said Mugabe and Tsvangirai
would be meeting soon.
The tough-talking Jesuit priest
said he had a long history as a mediator.
"Since 1974, I have always been involved in social communication and social
justice as a mediator or in other capacities, and I still perform that
role," said Mukonori.
involved in efforts to make Zimbabweans bury their differences, become
mature and find solutions to this agonising crisis," he said.
the resumption of dialogue between the two political rivals
would set the stage for an end to the crisis.
"The solution will come as soon as we
as Zimbabweans want it, as soon as
people put the country ahead of everything and share the same spirit of love
and understanding," he said.
"Finding a solution is much easier when people have the same
Everyone, right across age, political divide, culture and social status
should be involved in solving this crisis. We have done it before and
nothing can fail us."
Talks between the two parties collapsed
last year due to bickering over
issues to be discussed. Zanu PF has insisted that the MDC drop its court
challenge to Mugabe's controversial re-election last year. On the other hand
the opposition wants the issue of Mugabe's illegitimacy to be tackled as a
On the nature of
settlement envisaged between Zanu PF and the MDC, Mukonori
said it would be up to the politicians. He however mooted the possibility of
a government of national unity as a first step to a transitional mechanism.
"It is up
to them (Mugabe and Tsvangirai). It is possible to establish a
government of national unity. In life there are no permanent enemies. As
Zimbabweans they will meet one day," he said.
Mukonori said Zimbabwe's crisis was a
result of economic, political and
social failures. As such, he said, the search for a solution must focus on
"The agony which we
are suffering resulted from many causes. There are
issues of economic policies, governance and historical perspective," he
"Indeed, the land issue has always been part of the
problem and still is. It
is yet to be finalised. We don't have to focus on one person or problem in
our search for solutions. We have to tackle all the problems in our focus."
Mukonori played a major mediating role during
the liberation struggle under
the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace. He was also instrumental in
brokering the 1987 Unity Accord between Zanu and PF-Zapu to end an orgy of
civilian massacres in the Midlands and Matabeleland in the early 80s.
Mbeki steps up pressure on Zim
Dumisani Muleya / Mthulisi Mathuthu
SOUTH African President Thabo Mbeki is applying more pressure on President
Robert Mugabe and opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader
Morgan Tsvangirai to resume talks to end the Zimbabwean crisis.
High-level diplomatic sources said Mbeki was pushing Mugabe and Tsvangirai
to the negotiating table to find an amicable political settlement.
criticism of his "quiet diplomacy" as ineffective, Mbeki has become
a decisive influence in Zimbabwe's political impasse after convincing US
President George Bush early this month that his approach was working.
His current push for dialogue through Zanu PF head of the
delegation to the
talks that broke down last year, Patrick Chinamasa and MDC team leader
Welshman Ncube, is said to be gaining momentum.
said yesterday "the South Africans have been in touch with us from
time to time". Chinamasa could not be reached for comment.
A senior South
African official close to the issue said there was glacial
progress towards dialogue.
"There is progress with regard to the talks and an
announcement will be made
soon," the source said.
Mbeki has of
late been insisting that there are talks going on between Zanu
PF and the MDC. The two parties have, however, denied this.
Sources said the
drive by Mbeki - described by one source this week as a
"sophisticated and savvy political deal-maker" - has forced Mugabe and
Tsvangirai to take steps to break the ice.
In an unprecedented move, Mugabe and
Tsvangirai this week extended an olive
branch to each other. Opening parliament on Tuesday, Mugabe urged the MDC to
work with him, while Tsvangirai and his MPs made a conciliatory gesture by
going to the House to listen to the presidential address. The MDC has in the
past boycotted Mugabe's parliamentary addresses.
Mbeki is understood to have
engineered the reconciliation through contacts
with Mugabe and the MDC, which discussed the talks issue during its national
executive meeting on Saturday and at an emergency meeting on Monday night.
In response to pressure,
Mugabe and Tsvangirai now appear to have broken the
mould as far as the resumption of talks is concerned. The balance of power
in their parties seems to be shifting in favour of reformers as opposed to
the diehards who would be the first casualties of a negotiated settlement.
Mbeki is said to
have decided to bring the moderates on both sides together
to kick-start the talks. The hardliners risk being left out of the loop.
But sources said Mbeki, who machinated Mugabe's recent appointment as one of
the five African Union deputy chairs, was using a "carrot-and-stick
approach" to force the Zimbabweans leaders to talk.
"Pretoria apparently now thinks that
both Mugabe and Tsvangirai have become
stumbling blocks to dialogue," a source said. "However, Mbeki is using
different tactics to ensure his broad strategy is not derailed."
Due to the pressure, Tsvangirai is said to
be struggling to ensure that he
is not overtaken by political dynamics and remains relevant after he
recently attacked Mbeki's claims that talks were on as "patently false and
The attack angered the South
Africans who are now trying to exclude him from
the dialogue formula - based on their experience during the Convention for a
Democratic South Africa (Codesa) between 1991/3 - which they are trying to
apply in Zimbabwe as they have done in the Democratic Republic of Congo and
Although the opposition is understood to have already
apologised to Pretoria
for Tsvangirai's diplomatic gaffe, which caused a row in the party, the MDC
leader is contemplating writing a personal letter of apology to Mbeki before
the talks start.
Mugabe says 'no' to party celebrations
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has shot down plans to celebrate Zanu PF's 40th
anniversary which had been scheduled by the youth wing and war veterans for
next month in Harare.
A source told the Zimbabwe Independent that Mugabe said the party could not
celebrate in the middle of acute shortages of basic food stuffs.
Zanu PF was formed at former Defence minister Enos Nkala's
Highfield in August 1963. The celebrations this year were meant to coincide
with the Heroes Day commemorations on August 11.
however understood the plan was rejected because of divisions in the
party between the old Zanu PF and ex-PF Zapu members.
Last year ex-Zapu
members, including central committee member Joshua
Malinga, told the Independent that the anniversary celebrations would render
redundant the 1987 Unity Accord which brought the two parties together.
members who were against the idea included vice-president
Joseph Msika, ex-Home Affairs minister, Dumiso Dabengwa, deputy national
commissar, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu and Thenjiwe Lesabe.
They slammed the proposal
saying the celebrations would isolate them as they
didn't share " the 1963 outlook", a reference to the schism that took place
that year when a group led by Ndabaningi Sithole, Herbert Chitepo, Enos
Nkala and Mugabe broke away from Zapu.
"It was just a dangerous and crazy idea and we told them
that it didn't
work," said a senior politburo member.
"I do not
think it will ever occur despite the fact that some are saying it
should take place in December in conjunction with the conference," Zanu PF
Secretary for Information and Publicity Nathan Shamuyarira said. "The
December conference will obviously take place but I don't know about these
celebrations which you are talking about."
Sources said the
idea of celebrations was mooted in 2001 after the Victoria
Falls February 21st Movement celebrations, during which the party invited
regional youths to celebrate Mugabe's birthday. The late youth director,
Lovejoy Kadungure, war veteran Joseph Chinotimba, deputy secretary for youth
affairs, Saviour Kaukuwere and national political commissar and youth
minister, Eliot Manyika, were among the proponents of the idea.
Last year Chinotimba confirmed
to the Independent that he was behind the
idea and scoffed at its detractors. He said there was nothing wrong because
PF Zapu was no longer there.
Msika orders probe into grain distribution
Vice-President Joseph Msika has ordered investigations into the distribution
of grain by the national food task force after allegations of unfairness in
the allocation of grain.
Sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that Msika ordered the probe at a
meeting in Bula-wayo two weeks ago after complaints by millers that there
were malpractices in the distribution of grain with big companies getting
Task force chairman, Retired Major-General Ammoth
Chingombe, last week
warned unnamed "big fish" against interfering with the distribution of food
in the Matabeleland area.
quoted as warning "all the big fishes (to) keep away from the
distribution of maize".
Zanu PF deputy national commissar Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, who
meeting, told the Independent last week that millers had indeed complained
to the party's leadership about grain distribution but refused to shed more
"Yes we have received many complaints from those
people (millers)," said
Ndlovu. "But there is nothing I can tell you because the task force is the
one which can speak to you. Ask them what the problem is all about."
Chingombe last week told the Independent that the task
distributing food within its jurisdiction.
is clear on this matter," said Chingombe. "We are distributing
food and we don't want to be disturbed. The suspension as we said is
temporary," he said.
The task force suspended selling of maize to millers three
weeks ago citing
rampant profiteering. The maize is now sold direct to individuals.
The millers appealed to Msika and other politburo
members during their
meeting in Bulawayo to intervene alleging that the Grain Marketing Board
(GMB) was clandestinely selling grain to millers from outside the province.
The millers alleged that there were big millers from
outside the city who
were being given preferential treatment by the task force.
"It's totally unfair because big companies from outside here
allowed to buy grain and they are stocking it in anticipation of price
increases which will be announced soon," said a leading miller from
The GMB has increased the price of maize to millers
from $9 600 to $211 756
a tonne. Wheat shot up from $30 100 to $366 584.
Govt admits failure to import maize
GOVERNMENT has admitted it has no capacity to import maize to avert mass
starvation in the country this year, the Zimbabwe Independent heard this
Zimbabwe has a grain deficit of 711 835 tonnes which should be met through
imports. Unlike last year when government imported 838 000 tonnes using its
own resources, this year it will largely depend on donor support to cover
the food deficit.
According to the government's
formal appeal document in the hands of this
paper, the country will harvest nearly 900 000 tonnes against a requirement
of 1,9 million tonnes.
A total US$142 million would be required to finance the
imports. The appeal
says the deficit could however be reduced to 600 000 tonnes because of the
World Food Programme's 120 000 tonnes of food assistance which is on its
way. The country has 284 000 tonnes in stock.
"The 600000 tonnes of possible deficit is what government is
as assistance from the donor community to procure, given the tight foreign
currency situation in the country," reads part of the appeal signed by
Finance minister Herbert Murerwa.
government is able to procure is to ensure that there is some
reserve and that the country does not feed from hand to mouth."
The formal appeal
was handed over to the UNDP resident representative Victor
Angelo on Tuesday and was presented to potential donors yesterday.
Government is also
appealing for drugs, vaccines and gases to prevent a
total collapse of the health delivery system.
"The shortage of foreign currency has limited
the country's ability to
ensure availability of essential drugs, so because of the linkage between
food security and health, government is appealing for non-food items in the
form of drugs and vaccines and gases," the appeal read.
The appeal said a recent survey by the World Health
that the country urgently needed a supply of chloroquine and sulfadoxine
assessment established that at least five million tablets of
chloroquine and 1,5 million tablets of S/P are urgently required for an
estimated 509 000 malaria cases," the appeal read.
The appeal said in light of the
HIV/Aids pandemic where more than 70% of
hospital admissions are Aids-related conditions, drugs such as painkillers
and anti-microbial drugs had become a priority.
"It is estimated that the drug requirements, excluding
this year will be US$25 million. The country does not have adequate foreign
currency to purchase these drugs," the appeal noted.
Funding of up to US$3 million is required for the procurement
anti-retroviral drugs intended to reach at least 10 000 patients this year.
Government also requires a total of 19 442 kg of gas for the sterilisation
of equipment at 753 clinics throughout the country every year.
Political considerations ruled out in takepart deal
BUSINESSMEN Kenneth Musanhi and Ray Kaukonde, directors of Takepart
Investments, were selected to take over Amzim's shareholding in Natfoods
because of their strategic importance in the agro-processing concern, the
Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
ABCH, financial advisors to Takepart, this week said the rationale
underlying the Amzim restructuring was to align its investments portfolio
with that of its parent company, Anglo American, in pursuit of being a
natural resources business with an international outlook, and the
empowerment of indigenous businessmen.
This is contrary to a report carried by the Independent
on July 4 suggesting
that Zanu PF functionaries had budged into National Foods and Innscor.
The report also mentioned Minister Nicholas Goche and Elliot Manyika as
shareholders in Takepart.
The financial advisors
said an important consideration throughout the
transfer of shares to Takepart was the continued facilitation of emerging
indigenous businesses entering the Zimbabwean mainstream economy, in a way
that better secured the future of National Foods. For that reason ABCH chose
Musanhi and Kaukonde.
"It is a fact that the Takepart consortium is led by
Kenneth Musanhi and Ray
Kaukonde," the advisors said. "As far as we are aware the two directors have
attained that status as bona fide businessmen who were willing to take the
financial risk. We do not believe that political affiliation was ever a
consideration," ABCH said in a statement this week. Musanhi owns
bus-manufacturing plant Dahmer, agricultural plant equipment merchants
Sabata Holdings and Musanhi Transport.
Amalgamated Motor Corporation among a myriad business
interests. The two businessmen are also successful commercial farmers in
their own right who started their businesses before the inception of
government's fast-track land reform programme in 2000.
No platform for govt at CFU congress
THE Commercial Farmers Union (CFU) will not give government a platform to
speak at its congress next week to avert another clash over land acquisition
and violent evictions.
CFU president Colin Cloete told the Zimbabwe Independent this week that
Agriculture minister Joseph Made and ministry officials had been invited as
a matter of protocol but were not on the programme as speakers.
"We have sent them invitations but they haven't responded," Cloete said.
"The minister and his officials
could come and listen to the proceedings or
could even make a speech if they like but they are not part of the
Last year's congress
turned into political mudslinging over land acquisition
and forced evictions of former white commercial farmers. The keynote speech
at last year's congress by Agri-SA director Jack Raath rapped government for
mismanaging the country's economy. Vice-President Joseph Msika, who was
guest of honour, responded by threatening to descend on defiant farmers
refusing to vacate their farms.
This year's guest speaker will be Professor Mark Jury, a
in South Africa.
Cloete said this year's
congress would focus on climatic changes and trying
to map a survival strategy for commercial agriculture in the country.
"There is no way
we can stop our guests and members from talking about their
day-to-day problems. Several issues will be raised including continued
evictions," Cloete said.
Officials at CFU said confrontation looked inevitable at
the 60th congress
scheduled for Wednesday next week because of farmers who were recently
evicted from their properties.
"A clash is
inevitable because the government has not stuck to its own
criteria and policy on land acquisition," a CFU official said. "People are
still being evicted up to today. We need an end to the fast track programme
to restore confidence in the farming sector."
Cloete was recently reported as
saying 50 farmers had been kicked off their
land in a fresh wave of evictions. He told Presidential Land Review
Committee chairman Charles Utete that farmers needed law and order on the
farms. He said a predictable and stable environment was necessary for the
remaining farmers to continue their operations.
Zanu PF plays down Harare Central by-election
THE ruling Zanu PF party has all but given up hope of winning the Harare
Central by-election set for the end of next month and will commit resources
to retaining the rural Makonde constituency.
Sources within Zanu PF said a meeting attended by members of the
commissariat and the party's central committee last week resolved not to
waste resources on Harare Central.
It was agreed that instead more resources should be
chanelled to Makonde
where Zanu PF holds sway.
Senior members of
the party who were approached, all declined to stand in
Harare Central until William Nhara, who of late has been masquerading as an
independent social commentator, was slotted in as a pawn.
When contacted for comment
yesterday, Zanu PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira
was evasive and accused this paper of always misquoting his party.
"That is not true. This is all
I can say. You people always write what we
haven't said," said Shamuyarira.
Nhara will battle it out against Murisi Zwizwai of the
MDC in the
by-election that was necessitated by the resignation of MDC's Mike Auret due
to poor health.
Paradza, will stand on the Zanu PF
ticket in Makonde whilst the MDC will be represented by Japhet Karemba.
The political trend over the last two
years has proved that Zanu PF has
wafer-thin chances of winning support in urban areas.
Sources this week said the ruling party would soon
descend on Makonde, with
a delegation comprising war veteran Joseph Chinotimba, Youth minister Elliot
Manyika and Information minister Jonathan Moyo to campaign for Paradza.
In the by-elections held over the last
two years, Zanu PF has won the rural
constituencies whilst the MDC maintained a stranglehold in most urban
through the use of food aid and violence failed to carry
the day for Zanu PF in the Highfield and Kuwadzana by-elections in April.
The MDC romped home with wide margins.
Govt, farmers deadlock hits tobacco sales
THE impasse between the government and tobacco farmers over devaluation has
resulted in a sharp decline in crop deliveries to the auction floors, the
Zimbabwe Independent has learnt.
Zimbabwe Tobacco Association's marketing information executive, Rodney
Ambrose, confirmed this week deliveries had declined.
"Deliveries to the tobacco auction floors
have declined by about 40%," said
He said some auction
floors were not being used at the moment because of low
"We usually have six auction floors auctioning the crop,
at the moment only
four floors are open due to low volumes," he said.
Farmers are not happy with the exchange rate of $824 to the
US$1. They want
the rate increased to about $1 600.
"There is a
lot of confusion at the moment because the government may
devalue the dollar with effect from the beginning of next month," said
Ambrose. "Those who want to sell before this date fear they might lose out.
Many farmers have therefore decided to hold on to their crop."
Farmers say inflation
has pushed up production costs after they obtained
their inputs on the parallel market at exchange rates of up to $2 500 to the
Ambrose said farmers had communicated with government on the
need to devalue
the dollar to ensure viability. Tobacco was the country's biggest foreign
currency earner before government began seizing white-owned commercial farms
Farmers have so far this year planted
134,16 kg of seeds compared to 168,12
kg last year.
farmers, through the Tobacco Industry Marketing Board, wrote to
the Ministry of Finance calling for a revision of the exchange rate but
there has been no response to date.
Zim assures Libyans of fair fuel deal
THE Libyans who were recently in the country to negotiate the stalled US$360
million fuel deal with Tamoil Trading Ltd have left with assurances that
they will acquire a significant equity of the National Oil Company of
Zimbabwe (Noczim) in Petrozim.
Official sources said government
had allowed the Libyans to buy 25% of
Noczim's 50% equity in Petrozim which is jointly-owned by Lonrho and the
state fuel procurement agency.
Sources said fuel from Libya was now on its way but that
would depend on Noczim's ability to pay US$5 million to Tamoil every month.
Zimbabwe needs US$40 million a month to buy fuel but government has failed
to raise this amount to stem the four-year-old fuel crisis.
Efforts to source fuel from Kuwait, Angola, Sudan, United
Arab Emirates and
Iran as well as South Africa, Nigeria and Botswana have failed due to
government's failure to pay.
Noczim and Tamoil have
of late been deadlocked over the prices of the
state's petrol-chemical industry assets that the Libyans want to buy.
The Libyans are trying
to buy Petrozim's pipeline between Mutare and Harare
and storage tanks in Msasa before they can resume fuel supplies. The
Mutare-Harare pipeline supplies fuel to Zimbabwe from Beira in Mozambique.
Libyans have been promised Noczim's 25% shareholding in
Petrozim, the deal has not yet been sealed as Lonrho, a key stakeholder in
Petrozim, must approve the sale. Lonrho has pre-emptive rights in Petrozim.
As reported in the Zimbabwe Independent two weeks ago, government has agreed
with the Libyans that the price for the pipeline is US$60 million.
Initially the Libyans offered US$48 million while government valued the
pipeline at US$100 million.
Sources yesterday said there was a possibility that Lonrho
would come up
with its own price for the pipeline. This could scuttle the deal. The
Libyans were reportedly prepared to take over the whole Lonrho shareholding
to gain control over Petrozim.
After acquiring the
assets that they need, the Libyans want to establish a
joint venture company, Tamoil-Zimbabwe, with Noczim to enter the market on a
The Libyans want to acquire the fuel pipeline, storage
stations and rail loading facilities at Feruka to make Zimbabwe their
distribution centre in southern Africa, currently dominated by Iranians,
Saudis and Kuwaitis.
Zim lags behind in regional park project
ZIMBABWE has failed to make any meaningful progress in implementing the
ambitious Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park project, the Zimbabwe Independent
The project includes the Kruger National Park in South Africa, the Limpopo
Park in Mozambique and the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe Council for Tourism president Shingi
Munyeza yesterday told the
Independent that Zimbabwe was still at the planning stage.
"We have established a sub-committee that will work
with the Zimbabwe
Tourism Authority," said Munyeza.
Zimbabwe still had a lot to do. Zimbabwe was losing out due to
government's failure to build infrastructure in Gonarezhou, he said.
still lagging behind other countries in terms of infrastructure
development," said Munyeza.
A report by stakeholders who met recently to map the
way forward on the
project also demonstrated that the country was lagging behind. Those
represented included local authorities, non-governmental agencies and the
The report noted that there was
need to improve water supplies, upgrade
Buffalo Range Airport and to install and improve power supply. The
stakeholders also said there was need to put in place health facilities and
to establish strategic border posts.
Munyeza said there were many challenges to be overcome.
"The issue of landlines has to be prioritised. When this is
done we will
then come up with a process of dealing with other issues," said Munyeza.
Suspended Mudzuri unpaid for three months
LOCAL Government minister Ignatius Chombo has blocked Harare executive mayor
Engineer Elias Mudzuri's salary since he was suspended three months ago.
The mayor has not received his salary even after full council resolved last
week that he should be paid.
In an interview this
week, Mudzuri said he had not been paid from the time
he was suspended despite the fact that council has refused to endorse his
"My salary has been frozen since the day of
suspension," Mudzuri said. "This
was on the basis of a letter written by Chombo on June 16 threatening to
fire the entire council if they availed my salary."
Mudzuri was suspended on April 30 for allegedly refusing to
government's directives and for incompetence.
placed sources at council said serious differences had emerged
councillors on how to handle Chombo's directives.
councillors are afraid of dismissal," sources said. "The fear has
rendered the resolutions council arrived at last week useless as they cannot
It is also alleged that the MDC has not offered financial
assistance to the
mayor since his suspension.
neither deny nor confirm the allegation, referring questions
to the party leadership.
He said the only communication he received from Chombo
was his suspension
"Only a copy of the letter written to
council was handed over to me when I
was in police custody. The letter was ordering council to evict me from my
official residence as well as impound my official vehicle.
"The whole issue is political and there is need for
a political solution for
sanity to prevail at Town House," he said.
When Mudzuri was voted into office last year Chombo issued
all matters connected to finance and human resources go through his office.
Mudzuri has refused to follow the directives.
Mugabe ready to quit Zanu PF leadership
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe is ready to relinquish the Zanu PF leadership in
December or to hand over power to a transitional authority if a deal is
reached with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), it was
heard this week.
Sources said Mugabe assured South African President Thabo Mbeki that he
could quit the Zanu PF leadership in December during the party's annual
conference or formally announce to his party to start looking for a
successor ahead of the congress next year.
Mugabe gave Mbeki these assurances ahead of United States
Bush's first visit to Africa early this month. Mugabe also gave the same
promises to Mbeki's deputy Jacob Zuma during an Aids conference in Lesotho a
few days before Bush arrived in South Africa.
has been working on the Zimbabwe issue of late. On June 4 he met
Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon and his delegation at Tuynhuys in Cape
Town to discuss Zimbabwe. Zuma and Leon agreed the situation could only be
resolved through dialogue between the MDC and Zanu PF.
Zuma emphasised that Pretoria wants the two parties to meet soon.
said Mugabe met with Zuma in Lesotho to reaffirm the position he had
already given to Mbeki. Mugabe apparently spoke to Mbeki before and after
the Bush visit and during the African Union meeting in Mozambique.
with Bush in Pretoria on July 9 where he reportedly told his
counterpart that Mugabe had indicated his willingness to retire.
However, Mbeki, who
recently said Zanu PF was engaged in "leadership
renewal" and that talks between Zanu PF and MDC were on, last week denied
no such thing," he said. "I don't know where that comes from.
There was no discussion at all about anybody stepping down."
diplomatic sources insist Mbeki conveyed Mugabe's promises to
leave to Bush. After the Bush/Mbeki meeting, the US delegation hosted a
dinner in Pretoria where the substance of the private talks was leaked.
Mbeki gave Bush two assurances: Mugabe is prepared to quit in
December if a transitional authority deal is struck with the MDC, but if no
deal is in place he is prepared to hand over power to his own successor in
March before elections in June. Either way, sources say, Mugabe is going and
this is what Bush was told.
Sources said MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was also
briefed about the issue
by US Assistant Secretary of State Walter Kansteiner by telephone.
Tsvangirai hearing set to open Pandora’s box
THE landmark hearing into opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC)
leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s court petition against President Robert Mugabe’s
disputed re-election in March last year is expected to open a can of worms.
The hearing has been set for November.
Court documents show that the lawyers for the two rivals agreed at a
pre-trial conference on November 18 and December 2 last year to pore over
the case to determine if the election was rigged or not.
After nearly 15 months of procrastination, the High Court last week set
November 3 as the date for the opening of the trial. The case will be a
direct challenge to Mugabe’s withering political fortunes and the country’s
murky electoral institutions.
Mugabe finds himself in a worse-off position than before last year’s
election. Before the break-and-enter poll, his legitimacy was not in
question, at least from an election point of view, but now he is regarded as
an illegal or de facto president.
With loud speculation about his intention to retire soon, the election
petition couldn’t have come at worse time for the septuagenarian leader who
wants to be portrayed as a paragon of virtue. The high profile case should
focus international attention on the abuses of power that might have
far-reaching ramifications for Zimbabwe.
The subjection of section 158 of the Electoral Act, under which Mugabe
allegedly modified poll regulations to suit his interests, to a
constitutional test will take precedence in the examination of evidence. The
court will try to establish whether this section is constitutional in the
first place and if the regulations Mugabe promulgated under the provision
were ultra vires the constitution.
If so, the court would consider whether “that affords a basis on its own to
set aside” Mugabe’s election. It would also try to ascertain if Tsvangirai
has locus standi (legal basis) to challenge the constitutionality of section
158 of the Electoral Act.
Another issue to be considered during the hearing would be whether the High
Court has “jurisdiction to rule on a matter relating to a breach of the
Declaration of Rights of the constitution”. Tsvangirai’s lawyers claim
Mugabe undermined their client’s rights through allegedly extra-legal
actions in the run-up to the crucial poll.
The court would further examine the effect of the nullification by the
Supreme Court of the General Laws Amendment Act under which some electoral
regulations were made.
Mugabe circumvented the Supreme Court ruling by using his powers under the
Electoral Act to bring back electoral regulations contained in the nullified
The composition of the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC) would also be
scrutinised to find out whether it complied with the constitution and if
not, its bearing on the validity of the poll outcome.
The extension of election dates in Harare and Chitungwiza would be discussed
to see if it was “in accordance with the principles of the electoral law”
and whether this affected the “conduct and the outcome of the election to
the extent that the election can be set aside”.
Issues concerning polling stations, postal votes, registration of voters,
voters roll and the supplementary voters roll, and political violence will
also be examined to determine if their impact on the poll constituted
electoral manipulation and fraud in favour of Mugabe.
The results of the presidential poll, which Mugabe won by about 400 000
votes, came as no surprise to many. Observers witnessed the violent
political crusade and build up to Mugabe’s contentious victory, which
Tsvangirai described as “daylight robbery”.
International observers, inclu-ding the Commonwealth observer mission, the
Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum group, the
Swedish observer team, the Japanese delegation, the United States and the
European Union rejected the election as a fraud.
Ghana and Senegal, among other African countries, also said the poll was
Despite claims to the contrary by Mugabe’s supporters, everyone following
the election closely saw what happened and agreed that the election was
rorted (stolen with cheek).
In a sweeping wave of repression before the poll, the courts and judges were
intimidated, electoral agencies turned into a gallery for Mugabe’s
followers, and the countryside — where Zanu PF holds sway — was sealed to
the MDC. Violence was perpetrated extensively to coerce voters to support
Mugabe. Opposition supporters and those who resisted Zanu PF were subjected
to brutal attacks that left thousands either dead or maimed.
The main voters roll and the supplementary register were mani-pulated to
ensure the numbersfavoured Mugabe. The recorded increase of purported votes
for Mugabe in rural areas — if the counting was a true reflection of the
actual distribution of votes — was less a sign of support for the Zanu PF
candidate than the success of the repression and terror strategy.
The whole surrealistic drama was more than anything else an emasculation of
the popular will through officially orchestrated violence and monopoly, and
attendant abuses thereof, of the state machinery.
There were months of systematic efforts by Zanu PF to reduce opposition
votes through manipulative measures that were aimed at excluding certain
voters, especially those of foreign descent as they were suspected of
The disenfranchisement of the voters — along racial and ethnic lines — was
in itself a serious misrepresentation of the people’s choice well before the
election took place. The deliberate elimination of willing voters
effectively disqualified the election as democratic, let alone free and
State security agents, police, army and intelligence officers, were
illegally deployed to electoral agencies, although this was later rectified
through arbitrary backdated legislation, to ensure that a predetermined
outcome was secured.
Dramatic pay increases were granted to security forces prior to the poll to
buy their loyalty. Laws were changed willy-nilly to further tilt the already
skewed playing field in Mugabe’s favour.
In the end, Mugabe benefited from this calculated pre-election build up
which eroded the electoral process and secured him a Pyrrhic victory.
Zimbabweans only voted or, to be more precise, Mugabe held a pseudo-election
on his own terms and conditions to make sure there was only one guaranteed
winner — himself.
As a result, Mugabe, together with other respondents, seems intent upon
blocking the due process and Tsvangirai’s quest for justice.
Mugabe’s co-respondents, Registrar-General Tobaiwa Mudede, Justice minister
Patrick Chinamasa and the Electoral Supervisory Commission, have so far
refused to make full disclosure of critical information. They have withheld
crucial documents that are needed in the case despite the fact they had
initially agreed at last year’s pre-trial conference.
Mudede, accused of helping Mugabe to rig the poll, has failed to bring the
electoral materials to Harare as stipulated under the Electoral Act although
court orders have been issued against him and Chinamasa for them to comply
with the law.
MDC legal affairs secretary David Coltart said the behaviour of the
respondents showed that they wanted to impede the due process and justice.
“This can only raise suspicion in the minds of all reasonable people that
they have things to hide,” he said.
Coltart said notwithstanding these stumbling blocks his party “remains
committed and determined to press ahead with the case and is confident that
justice will ultimately prevail”.
Whatever happens in court, the case will set a precedent for Zimbabwe. Its
outcome will either legitimise Mugabe or set the country on the path to
democracy. Only time will tell.
Murerwa to devalue dollar
THE government will soon devalue the Zimbabwe dollar again in a desperate
bid to bail out struggling exporters.
In an interview with businessdigest this week, the Minister of Finance and
Economic Development Herbert Murerwa confirmed that the much-awaited
sectoral devaluation for exporters was on its way.
"We agreed that we would quarterly review the exporter's
exchange rate to
ensure their continued viability and such a course of action is on its way,"
"The review is coming soon. It was
supposed to have been made in June but we
are certainly on our way to fulfilling our mandate in Nerp - that of
reviewing the export support scheme. The deal is in conclusion."
The minister however declined to give
dates and the percentage of the
Government is always
uneasy to discuss issues pertaining to devaluation
publicly because President Robert Mugabe will hear none of it.
Murerwa's predecessor Simba
Makoni fell out of favour with his cabinet
colleagues after informing them that Zimbabwe desperately needed to devalue
the currency to get the economy back on track.
Makoni was immediately reshuffled, paving the way for
Under its National Economic Revival Programme (Nerp) government agreed to
administer and review the Exporters Support Scheme on a quarterly basis to
maintain competitiveness and sustainability in the export sector.
Government sources this week said documents for the
devaluation process had
been forwarded to Murerwa and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) for
They said government was likely
to devalue by between 80% and 100% to about
unrealistic for government to try to match the parallel market which
is currently galloping towards the $3 000 mark," a source said.
reliably understood that government would however only effect a
devaluation of between 50% to 70%.
Industry sources said exporters were demanding
a 200% devaluation to match
the parallel market but the central bank and government were unlikely to
curve in to their demands.
The parallel market is hovering between $1 500 and $3 000 to the greenback.
Government under pressure from exporters sent the dollar
crashing by 1 400%
in February in a bid to quell seething frustration from the business sector.
Exporters who are aggrieved by the current rate
also expect government to
loosen its grip on the foreign currency remitted by exporting companies to
The Chamber of Mines of Zimbabwe
this week confirmed the urgent need for
sector is in urgent need of the devaluation," an official said.
"It's all in the initial understanding of Nerp."
Last year annual merchandise
exports nose-dived by 10,8%.
Border, government dispute rages on
THE tiff between Border Timbers Ltd (Border) and government over acquisition
of its 20 000 hectares for the controversial fast track land resettlement
programme seems to be raging on.
Government however remains tight-lipped on the issue despite written
land reform programme has riled the international community,
Australia, the European Union and the United States of America - the world's
most powerful groupings - who allege it was done haphazardly, is
inconsistent and benefited a few government cronies.
President Robert Mugabe and his government insist the land programme
is fair and has benefited thousands of landless peasants.
Last year the Minister of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement Joseph
Made listed 20 000 hectares of Border land for resettlement.
Border, with a market
capitalisation of $21,5 billion on the Zimbabwe Stock
Exchange, is a subsidiary of Radar Holdings Ltd previously led by
controversial business tycoon Chris Schofield.
Border managing director John Gahadzikwa in
his statement accompanying his
June 30 2002 financial results told shareholders that several shacks had
been erected on the company's land in areas that had been harvested mainly
in the Chimanimani Estates.
Gahadzikwa insisted that all incidents were reported to the
merely recorded them, but "then did nothing further".
Border handed the matter over to its lawyers who
immediately made objections
and appeals to the Administrative Court of Zimbabwe.
Subsequent to year 2002, the Attorney General's Office
withdrew all Section
7 orders to which the objections had been lodged in the administrative
court, conceding that the properties were protected by the German-Zimbabwean
Investment Protection Agreement.
Zimbabwe's fifth largest trading partner but relations have
soured since the land acquisitions began in earnest two years ago.
"Your company now awaits official notification from the Ministry of Lands,
Agriculture and Rural Resettlement delisting all Border properties that were
originally listed for designation for purposes of resettlement," Gahadzikwa
"In the meantime, your company will employ all
avenues open to it to restore
full and unrestricted ownership. The estates that have been invaded by
settlers are Tilbury and Charter, while the areas that have been listed
comprise the majority of Charter, Tilbury, Sheba, Imbeza and Sawerombe."
Company chairman Phillip Chipudhla in his
report for the year ended June 30
2002 said for the past three years people in all sectors of society had been
saying the situation in Zimbabwe could not continue for long.
He said: "The deterioration in the economy in
general continues, and the
prospects for individuals and companies look more and more terminal," he
"We, in the business circles, can
only continue to highlight shortcomings in
the system and advise the country's leadership on how we think the economy
needs to be managed - with the hope that someone will take heed of our
advice. The future of your land at the estates remains unclear
notwithstanding that the relevant authorities have, repeatedly, stated in
public, that forest land and plantations, among other agro-industries, will
not be affected by land designations."
From the crucible
TUESDAY July 22 was an unusual day for Zimbabwe. I was able to watch
ZBC-TV's usually dreary Newshour to the end without feeling like smashing
the TV screen. On most days I can't endure it beyond the headlines. I wanted
to hear President Robert Mugabe's address to parliament and that was pushed
to the end of the bulletin.
What struck me most when the news was broadcast was the meeting of the
opposites, Joseph Chinotimba and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai sitting side
by side on the Speaker's Gallery.
It looked like they were sharing a joke. That was most
Mugabe didn't sound like the angry old man that we have become used to. He
did admit during his speech that he was our "mudhara" but he was not the
look of thunder and lightning that scares friend and foe alike since he lost
the February 2000 constitutional referendum.
Chinotimba and Tsvangirai first. It was not easy to
understand how the
commander-in-chief of farm invasions was suddenly reconciled to a man seen
by Zanu PF and the government as seeking to "reverse the gains of our
independence and give back our land" to whites. Which one of the two had
been struck by light on the way to Damascus? Had this been pre-arranged for
the camera or they simply bumped upon each other on the gallery and there
was a sense of esprit de corp as losing finalists in elections?
That could easily have passed unremarked if it didn't
create a sympathetic
fallacy for what was taking place on the floor. The Mugabe who was
addressing parliament was not the usual raging despot wielding his hammer
and threatening to crush Zimbabwe's internal and external enemies.
Sitting calmly listening was a group of both Zanu PF and MDC
MPs. There was
a mellow mood all round. It was the look of an dignified House with
honourable members all ready to serve their country.
to think that my sense of optimism was not misplaced. Somehow I
always had a feeling that the tension between the MDC and Zanu PF could not
last forever and I think we are seeing the first tentative meaningful steps
towards a calming of nerves - not another Mugabe political dummy. The nation
can't afford that.
I see that setting in parliament on Tuesday as a defeat
for the hawks on
both sides and an indictment of President Mugabe's "war cabinet". Not that
it had any purchase in the minds of the people except those who saw their
future through the tunnel aperture of a Zimbabwe in perpetual turmoil.
President Mugabe did say he was happy that the MDC had finally seen the need
to work together. It was a matter of principle, not capitulation, that the
MDC had decided to end the boycotts of his addresses to parliament.
More important on Mugabe's part was the realisation
that it is not only MDC
followers who are toiling in the chasm of the divide between the two
Every Zimbabwean is suffering. It matters not who you voted for either in
the parliamentary or in the presidential election. Inflation and other
economic problems will hit everybody. Mugabe would be less than a statesman
if he took the MDC's decision to attend parliament as a sign of defeat.
Zanu PF chair John Nkomo interpreted
it like every enlightened Zimbabwean
would have - a sign of maturity and reconciliation. That is what it was in
Zimbabwe is tittering
on the brink of a calamity because the two major
political parties have for the past three years waged a war of attrition
against each other while ignoring completely the suffering of their
electorate. The result is a Pyrrhic victory for all.
What Zimbabweans are looking for now is a
chance for peace. They are looking
for economic recovery. They are looking for social regeneration.
More importantly, Zimbabweans are looking for true leaders to emerge from
this crucible, not another pack of opportunists wanting to pass for
This has not been simply a war of
words. There are some in parliament today
whose hands are dripping with blood. There are honourable members in
parliament today whose abominable deeds during the last parliamentary
election would leave Macbeth feeling like a saint.
It was, in Mugabe's own words on another equally despicable
patch of our
history, a "moment of madness".
But it is edifying
when in the end people realise the folly of their ways
even as they stand on the cliff to take a few haste steps back and examine
themselves closely and ask: What are we doing?
It would be naïve to conclude from events in
parliament this week that we
are out of the woods. We are not and that is why we are in need of true
leaders. Out of this adversity must emerge leaders who are committed to the
welfare of the people. Patriotism can't be measured in terms of what slogans
you sing but what you can do for your country.
Zanu PF and the MDC must now work together to end the
madness we have gone
through in the past three years. There are extremists in both parties who
will have to be sacrificed for the sake of progress. That is as it should
be. We can't sacrifice the country for their selfish dreams.
Those who attended the Speaker's reception in the evening
tell me the mood
was ecstatic. Even the Speaker himself, Emmerson Mnangagwa, was in a jovial
mood as he watched people cross the political divide to talk and joke about
the events of the day.
The symbolic rapproachment
between Tsvangirai and Chinotimba might be the
low point on dialogue but it does show there is a way out of the political
and economic crisis if leaders choose to put their heads together. This is a
man-made crisis. It is not beyond our power to solve it.
Even in a guerilla war compromises have
to be made sometimes. That is how
Mugabe ended up sharing a table with Ian Smith at Lancaster House in 1979.
Are Mugabe and Tsvangirai man enough?
It’s the politics once again, stupid
PRESIDENT Mugabe is puzzled by Zimbabwe’s distorted economic performance. In
his speech opening the Fourth Session of the Fifth Parliament on Tuesday
Mugabe spoke of a paradoxical situation in which companies were doing well
in an economy that is officially in decline.
Mugabe’s observation is spot on. There are contradictions in the Zimbabwean
economy but these are consistent with the absurdities of his policies. The
economy of Zimbabwe is crumbling under his supervision and he should look no
further than Munhumutapa Building to find reason for the current morass.
Earlier this week Jonathan Moyo, who should be the voice of government,
attributed Zimbabwe’s problems to the formation of the opposition MDC. This
was in pursuit of a strategy that has become a tradition of government —
shifting the blame for our perennial problems from Mugabe’s populist and
The folly of the Zanu PF government’s policies is the major paradox that is
saddling the country. Plain as the nose on his face are incongruities in
Mugabe’s policies which are symptomatic of an off-track regime bereft of
solutions to the nation’s problems.
The paradox of the Zimbabwe economy is a direct result of bad political
fundamentals which, until they are put right, will always see key economic
players refusing to co-operate with the government.
This has been manifest in Mugabe’s quest to take Zimbabwe back into the dark
days of archaic Leninist command economic principles. Over the past two
years the government has introduced price controls and pegged the value of
the dollar at a respectable but unrealistic rate to the US dollar. The
agricultural sector has been decimated in the name of correcting a
historical injustice. This quick-fix approach to a major national resource
has been a huge disaster.
Mugabe this week said government would “adopt effective measures to address
this paradoxical situation whose destructive impact is vividly illustrated
by the impoverished condition of the common man”.
The proposed remedies are disconnected from reality.
Government wants to intensify black empowerment by enacting an
Indigenisation Bill which will force companies to cede a minimum 20% shares
to employees. How about offering better incentives to investors and
assurances that investments are safe?
The government, through Zesa, intends to buy a stake in Hydro Cahora Bassa
(HCB) power station of Mozambique when it is failing to rehabilitate local
power plants and owes regional power utilities nearly US$110 million. It
owes HCB US$22 million.
Finance minister Herbert Murerwa in his budget speech last year said price
controls were killing the economy. In parliament this week Mugabe proposed
to “strengthen price monitoring mechanisms while simultaneously encouraging
companies to increase their capacity utilisation to get more goods at
affordable prices”. How does industry reconcile the two?
Mugabe has not learnt that you cannot deal with inflation by commanding
businessmen to hold down prices. There will be three types of response:
defiance, deceit or closure.
Mugabe believes that the combination of his tainted agrarian reform and the
stillborn National Economic Revival Programme (Nerp) will revive the economy
and empower the marginalised. Evidence of the failure of the agrarian reform
is manifest. Elsewhere in this issue we report that the government this week
ran to the United Nations cap in hand for humanitarian assistance. The
government has no money to finance new farmers and to put up supporting
If anything, the government has, through the agrarian reform, created a new
class of poor landowners. Quite oblivious of this anomaly, Mugabe said the
government would once again amend the Land Acquisition Act to speed up the
acquisition of gazetted farms. What is the logic of expropriating more farms
when half the land acquired in the past three years has not been put to
There is also no popular ownership for Nerp which was formulated in the dark
corridors of Munhumutapa Building without consultation with business and
civic society and is already behind schedule. The would-be panacea to the
country’s economic problems is set to fail as were the others before it like
Esap and Zimprest.
The paradox of our economy will remain with us so long as Mugabe fails to
consult before coming up with strange decisions that drive the economy into
a blind alley. No name-calling or finger-pointing can pull us out of this
mess. Mugabe should wake up to the reality. What Zimbabwe now needs is an
“economic cabinet” that has political clout to push its decisions through
Zanu PF’s moribund policy gatekeepers — the politburo.
Privatisation yet another hollow plan
AFTER the first decade of Zimbabwe’s independence, which decade included
eight years of negative economic policies, government released the Economic
Structural Adjustment Programme (Esap). That programme was intended to
create a virile economy capable of improving the lot of most, if not all,
The initial economic programme espoused shortly after independence,
envisaged as a transitional economic development plan had failed to do so,
despite having received an immense injection of foreign exchange by way of
international aid pledged at a brilliantly executed donor conference known
as Zimcord. Billions of US dollars were forthcoming from the international
community. Some were very gainfully used in assuring every Zimbabwean child
of an extensive education, and in developing the nation’s health care
Deservedly, government received much praise and commendation for the
astounding success in raising literacy levels almost three-fold within 10
years, and in its magnificent achievement in providing almost all with
access to health care (in contrast to the present when most cannot afford
medical treatment, hospitalisation, surgery and drugs, even if they be a
prerequisite for survival).
But successes were not achieved insofar as economic development was
concerned. Driven by unconstructive ideologies which had been formulated in
the former Soviet Union, China, Tanzania and other countries that promoted
communist-based socialism, the largesse provided by the international
community was unproductively dissipated. Much was used for the enrichment of
the few and little for the furtherance of the much craved for economic
growth. The failure of the transitional economic development plan was but a
precursor for a like, if not greater, five-year development programme
released in 1985. As a result the end of the first decade showed most
Zimbabweans yearning for the improvement of their circumstances as had been
loudly promised at independence and again upon the launch of each of the
economic development plans.
So government then unveiled Esap, which was markedly different to its
predecessor programmes, for it was founded upon the principles and
objectives of deregulation, investment stimulation and facilitation, export
incentivisation and creation and like concepts, almost all of which were
anathema to exponents of Marxist-Leninist economic socialism.
However, a combination of near-total disregard by government for all those
components of the programme which were at variance with intensive state
control of all major facets of the economy, or which were in conflict with
failed ideologies, and two years of severe drought, saw the first three
years of Esap as an economic non-event. By 1993 government had little
alternative but to implement much of that which it had up until then
disregarded, although it did so reluctantly and half-heartedly.
Nevertheless, belatedly Esap began to yield positive results and therefore
it was used as the basis for the next programme, intended to be implemented
from 1996 — the Zimbabwe Programme of Economic and Social Transformation
But government’s lack of enthusiasm was such that although the programme was
to be embarked upon in 1996, it was only released to the population in
general and to investors, financiers, commerce and industry in particular in
1998 and never meaningfully introduced. So in 2000 government announced its
Millennium Economic Recovery Programme (Merp). As with Zimprest, that
programme proved to be only plentiful words and glossy papers but devoid of
any substantive implementation and it was soon cast away into oblivion.
In its stead, government announced a new programme — the National Economic
Recovery Programme (Nerp) — in February. However, with virtually the only
exception being an “exchange rate adjustment” or “export support exchange
rate” (both being euphemisms for “devaluation”), Nerp was as shallow in its
application as had been Esap, Zimprest and Merp. The economy has continued
to decline to an ever greater extent, with many believing, erroneously, that
it is now beyond redemption.
Not only has government shown remarkably consistency in its failure to
implement any of its formal economic development or recovery programmes
other than with the greatest of superficiality, but it has shown equally
great consistency in devising and implementing actions diametrically
opposite to those envisaged by the various programmes and plans that it had
so proudly placed before Zimbabweans. In so doing, it has brought the
economy to its knees. Inflation has reached an astronomic level of 364,5%
for the year to June with that month’s inflation at 21,1%, an all-time
Never has there been such a high proportion of the population without
employment. Never has there been so many suffering and facing malnutrition,
if not severe starvation, at incomes far below the poverty datum line, as is
now the case. Never has Zimbabwe been as short of foreign exchange, with
consequential devastating shortages of fuel, energy, basic foodstuffs,
industrial raw materials, agricultural and mining imports, medications, and
Agriculture has been virtually destroyed, the mining industry’s operations
heavily reduced, tourism emaciated, and the manufacturing and distributive
sectors battling to survive. And never has government incurred deficits of
the scale that are now the order of the day.
So great are those deficits that government must now present a supplementary
budget to parliament as the national budget tabled in November 2002 and the
fiscal out-turn to date have no commonality. As has become a regularity, the
spending of almost all ministries is way in excess of the votes approved by
Compounding the problems created by government’s profligacy has been the
differential in governmental revenues received as against those envisaged in
the national budget. With a withering economy, it is inevitable that
taxation receipts must fall and with limited foreign exchange the extent of
imports diminishes with a corresponding reduction in inflows of Customs
duties and import taxes.
But another significant non-re-ceipt is that in contrast to expectations in
the 2001, 2002, and 2003 national budgets, government has had very little by
way of proceeds from the intended privatisation of state enterprises.
The intention to divest itself of all but the most critically strategic
businesses owned by government has been one of the major elements of Esap,
Zimprest, Merp and Nerp. While government repeatedly failed to pursue many
of the elements of those programmes, nevertheless it did effect some
privatisations between 1998 and 2002, and with some considerable success.
Effectively and successfully, the Jewel Bank, Dairibord, Rainbow Tourism
Group, Cotton Company of Zimbabwe, and Zimbabwe Reinsurance Corporation were
privatised. Not only did government realise significant amounts from the
sale of its investments but the privatised enterprises rapidly demonstrated
substantial growth and enhanced efficiency of operations.
The privatisation programme has clearly ground to an ignominious halt and
contrary to detaching itself from commercial and other economic production
enterprise, government is increasing its involvement through some of its
Enterprises such as the National Oil Company of Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe
Electricity Supply Authority, National Railways of Zimbabwe, Cold Storage
Company, Air Zimbabwe, Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation, the GMB, and many
others have become an ever-heavy millstone around the neck of the fiscus.
Evidently, therefore, the inclusion of privatisation in Nerp is yet another
hollow economic plan of government — one devoid of substance. Pity,
therefore, the poor officials in the Ministry of Finance and Economic
Development required to formulate the supplementary budget. They have to
find ways of exacting the funds needed by government but have great
difficulty in finding any way of doing so within a derelict economy without
further catastrophically afflicting that economy and without extorting yet
more from a desperately impoverished population.
More psychiatric institutions please!
INFORMATION minister Jonathan Moyo naively believes Zimbabwe’s problems will
simply vanish by blaming them on the opposition MDC. He told a rented crowd
in Bikita West on Monday the formation of the MDC had brought about the
current “economic and social hardships” so that people could blame President
Robert Mugabe and his government. Only the most naïve like Moyo believe such
The truth, as everyone knows, is that the MDC was in fact formed as a result
of the hardships the country is experiencing. The economy was in freefall;
the Aids scourge was taking its toll on the youth while the cost of living
soared without anybody seemingly in control.
“The MDC is a threat to growth and development because they believe in
economic sabotage as a manifesto. They are saboteurs,” declared Comical Moyo
apparently without any sense of proportion.
If Zanu PF were a capable party the MDC would evidently not have garnered
nearly half the vote from the electorate in the parliamentary and
presidential elections that they got. If Zanu PF were not a party of
economic saboteurs the country would not be in this mess. Everybody knows
fully well who sabotaged the country’s agricultural base. We are fully aware
of who has destroyed industry and commerce and reduced business to a black
Olley Maruma was last week at pains to paint a grim picture of the war to
liberate Iraq, giving us facts and figures, all culled from the same Western
media we are always told fabricate stories when reporting either on Zimbabwe
or on Africa in general. This time, because their “graphic descriptions”
served his purpose, the reporters were introduced as award-winning writers
whose accounts should be taken as gospel truths.
The question one must ask is why we can’t get the same “graphic stories”
from Maruma and his ilk in the government-controlled media about the
violence unleashed on innocent civilians by government after it lost the
“Yes” campaign in the February 2000 constitutional referendum? Is it
possible to get the same graphic accounts about the violence that
accompanied the presidential election last year?
Let’s talk about “gruesome atrocities” that took place under Maruma’s nose
committed by a government or its mercenaries against its own people. Why is
Maruma not keen to chronicle such incidents to show the world his sincerity
about the truth? Of course such material would not see the light of day in
the government media. And he would have to seek political asylum elsewhere
after he is labelled “an enemy of the state”.
Maruma wrote disparagingly in Herald about “Zimbabweans who, in the name of
democracy, human rights and the rule of law, think that what happened in
Iraq should happen to their country”. First of all, no Zimbabwean wishes any
such thing on their country. Second, it is because the British media that he
quotes with such gusto enjoy “democracy, human rights and the rule of law”
that they are able to write the way they do about the actions of their
government. Can the same be said of Maruma’s favourite media?
Third, Maruma is afraid even to mention that — the weapons of mass
destruction propaganda aside and the oil factor in — many Iraqis had become
fed up with Saddam Hussein’s tyranny. That explains why we didn’t see the
“mother of all wars” threatened by Saddam before he cowardly disappeared
from his presidential palaces into the stinking slums of Baghdad. Not a
single soldier of the much talked about Republican Guard was prepared to
risk his life for a ruthless dictator whose single consuming desire was to
stay in power at any cost. And it didn’t suit Maruma’s agenda to question
how it came about that as many as 14 000 patients were confined to a single
psychiatric institution in such a small country! One only needs to read
state media for bizarre incidents of violence and murder in this country to
see where we are headed. More psychiatric hospitals please!
Talking of the bizarre, the Herald reported on Saturday that a mortician and
his assistant in Chitungwiza were pawning corpses to desperate motorists
wishing to buy fuel. The two allegedly issued out fake burial orders and
lent corpses to black market fuel dealers so that they would not have to
queue the whole day for the scarce commodity. This must certainly rank as a
The problem is that those claiming to have the mandate to run the affairs of
this country appear to have all taken a long holiday from duty. The country
is on autopilot and Muckraker wonders why Robert Mugabe is keen to be
recognised as president. Is there any pride in presiding over this moral
Things don’t seem to be working for the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and
government. More money printed, no money in the banks! There were more
queues in the banks than in the shops this week as people tried to get the
little money there was, or hoped there was. At one Barclays branch in the
city centre in Harare last Saturday Muckraker spotted a disconsolate Joseph
Chinotimba moving from one counter to another in search of the elusive
dollar. All along we thought this currency crisis was a disease only for the
But more seriously, how does a country with so much potential run out of its
own currency? It has nothing to do with trying to contain inflation because
noone in government thinks about this scourge except Finance minister
Herbert Murerwa. So where has all the $24 billion released into the market
in the past few weeks gone?
Muckraker reckons Ignatius Chombo would be better engaged there to suspend
or fire somebody and leave Harare executive mayor Elias Mudzuri to do his
work. Of course that is merely a wish. In the Zanu PF scheme of things
people are hired more for their incompetence than their skills. Which
explains why Amos Midzi still drives his official Merc as Minister of Fuel
We felt sorry for poor Joseph Katete, a correspondent for the Herald who is
unable to get a passport because the laws in this country classify him as an
alien. He has been in the “queue” for two months waiting to submit his
application form for a passport.
When he turned up at the Passport Office last Friday, according to his own
account in the Herald, not only was he rudely told to queue again, he was
also asked to “denounce” his foreign citizenship.
“After filling the forms renouncing your foreign citizenship you then apply
for registration as a citizen of this country and you will be required to
pay $30 000,” Katete was told. The whole process takes about six months.
The reporter’s crime is that although he was born in Zimbabwe, his parents
were not. We feel sorry for him because if he had a claim of citizenship to
another country his choice would be very simple. Zimbabwe’s own children are
skipping the border in droves, with the British High Commission alone
receiving 18 000 applications since November last year.
Katete should be grateful that he has a medium through which to relate his
ordeal. Most victims of the same faceless office are not so lucky.
Nevertheless, if Zimbabwe was still a habitable place it would be cheap at
$30 000. Just a few loaves of bread for the registrar-general.
“The battle to get that document (passport) continues”, says Katete, “and it
seems the war is still far from over”. Dead right. And you are not alone in
the war to rid the country of pernicious laws promulgated by a regime under
Lording it on US Secretary of State Colin Powell was Nathaniel Manheru in
the Herald on Saturday who appears to have been imbibing too much of Leopold
Sedar Senghor’s verses for his own good. Whole metaphors and symbolism from
Senghor’s poems about slavery and colonialism were pilfered with liberal
self-indulgence that amounted to plagiarism. Powell’s crime was one of
omission, according to the self-important Manheru. He was accused of “not
speaking during (President George) Bush’s entire African visit” two weeks
“He failed to make a case for a continent for so long so wronged and injured
without repair by the white world, both in history and contemporary
politics,” raved the rabidly racist Manheru who seems to think the mere
biological fact of being black confers virtue. Conspicuous by its absence
was the point that Powell talked very strongly against dictators who make it
their mission to torment and starve their people. Never did Powell in his
New York Times article call Zimbabwe’s problems a race issue, a black versus
white thing. The issue is one of good governance and the rule of law.
Muckraker was shocked by Donald Mukota’s crude behaviour on 3FM last
Thursday evening. During a programme called In Focus in which he and two
other panellists were discussing measles and their causes, a
distraught-sounding young man telephoned to say his elderly father had just
arrived in Harare but might not be able to find his way around. Could
somebody who might see the old man phone him.
Mukota, who promotes his slots as “the station for the new millennium”, was
not amused. He turned the young man’s request into a browbeating contest.
“This is not a programme for messages,” he said. “We are discussing measles
control here, what station do you want?”
If Mukota’s measly mind could not help, at least he could have spoken to
the young man off-air instead of parading his insolence to the public. How
does Jonathan Moyo expect such neanderthals to take us into the new
millennium when they can’t help people who pay their wages?