ZIMBABWE'S Supreme Court has ruled that the appointment of judges by the
Chief Justice to the electoral court, which was established last year as
part of a series of electoral reforms, was inconsistent with the
constitution and is, thus, void.
The landmark unanimous ruling, which has significant implications for the
electoral process in this country, was made on Tuesday by Supreme Court
Justices Cheda, Malaba, Sandura, Gwaunza and Ziyambi. It renders all rulings
made by the court null and void.
As a consequence, legal experts told The Financial Gazette, that all the 16
election petitions filed by Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) candidates
following the March 2005 elections are still actionble, as is former
Chimanimani legislator Roy Bennet's challenge against his disqualification
from contesting in the election.
The ruling, written by Justice Malaba and delivered by Justice Cheda, also
effectively strikes down section 162(1) of the Electoral Act, which
empowered the Chief Justice to appoint judges to the special Electoral
The opposition MDC and its candidate for Goromonzi constituency in the March
2005 elections, Claudious Marimo, had made an application to have the
Electoral Court declared improperly constituted. Justice Minister Patrick
Chinamasa, the Attorney-General Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, Chief Justice Godfrey
Chidyausiku and ZANU PF's winning candidate for the Goromonzi constituency,
Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa were cited as respondents. The opposition
party's candidates in 16 constituencies, who had filed petitions challenging
the results of the March 31 2005 election, applied for the withdrawal of
their petitions before the Electoral Court, pending the Supreme Court
determination on the legality of the special court. However, the Electoral
Court judges declined to grant their requests. The Supreme Court found that
they had erred in this regard..
The Minister of Justice and the Attorney-General are now jointly and
severally liable to pay the costs of the application. The Chief Justice, who
did not oppose the application, was absolved.
"Under section 162(1) of the (Electoral) Act, Parliament empowers the Chief
Justice to appoint a sitting judge of the High Court to preside over the
Electoral Court which is a special court after consulting the Judge
President. It transferred the right to be consulted on the appointment of
judges of the High Court to exercise judicial power vested in a special
court from the Judicial Services Commission to the Judge President.
"Parliament had no power to do that. It was under a duty to provide that the
judges of the High Court were to be appointed to preside over the Electoral
Court in the manner prescribed under section 92(1) of the Constitution.
Failure to so provide means that section 162(1) of the Act is inconsistent
with section 92(1) of the Constitution," the Supreme Court ruled.
Section 92(1) of the Constitution vests the power to appoint judges in the
President and makes consultation with the Judicial Services Commission a
mandatory requirement for a valid appointment.
Chief Justice Chidyausiku appeared to accept the validity of the applicants'
contention on the appointment of judges to the special court and revoked the
appointment of the judges, only to reinstate them in the same letter, saying
the fresh appointment was now in accordance with the law.
"It has been brought to my attention that some of the litigants in the
electoral petition are unhappy about your previous appointment as a judge of
the Electoral Court because the Judicial Service Commission was not
consulted in terms of section 92(1) of the Constitution. In the event of my
appointment of you as a judge of the Electoral Court on 5 May 2005 not being
in accordance with the law it is hereby revoked.
"Please be advised that I, in my capacity as Chief Justice of Zimbabwe and
after consultation with the Judge President and the Judicial Service
Commission, have appointed you as a judge of the Electoral Court with effect
from this day the 1st June of 2005," Chidyausiku wrote to each of the
However, the fresh appointments were also deemed illegal as no Act of
Parliament authorised the Chief Justice to appoint the judges of the High
Court to the special court.
Chris Mhike of Atherston and Cook who, together with Sheila Jarvis
instructed Advocate Eric Matinenga and Edith Mushore, yesterday said all
decisions made by the Electoral Court had been rendered useless.
"The dismissals, rejections and verdicts that had been passed by any of the
Electoral Court judges have become meaningless," Mhike said. He, however,
conceded that the the stipulated six-month window for petitioners had
"The difficulty for the petitioners is that the six-month period, in which
election petitions had to be determined, has now lapsed while government
refused to correct the law, and electoral court judges refused to refer the
question of their appointment.
"There must be, at law, some solution or remedy to the petitioners to cure
this injustice, since the Supreme Court specifically recognised that they
were denied a fair hearing within a reasonable time by a properly
Mhike said he was still awaiting further instructions from the clients on
THE Supreme Court reached the conclusion that the Electoral Court was
improperly constituted. It follows therefore, that all the decisions made by
the Electoral Court of 2005 are null and void.
Some of the factual findings made by the Electoral Court are nevertheless
considered sound. For instance, it was found in the Makoni North Election
Petition of 2005 that, among numerous misdeeds committed in the run-up to
the March 2005 elections:
a) acts of physical violence were inflicted upon the voters of Makoni North
b) food distribution was politicised by the ruling ZANU PF
c) resettled farmers were threatened with the repossession of their land if
they voted for the MDC
Justice Rita Makarau, who was then with the Electoral Court, found that the
people of the constituency were robbed of a free election but nevertheless
the Act precluded her from offering any remedy for the situation. In the
other test trials, all the judges reached similar conclusions.
Although these and other findings are useful in judicial precedent and the
political history of the country, the determinations of the revoked
Electoral Court are not legally binding, nor of any force or effect.
The challenges on the 16 constituencies over which petitions were filed, and
the complaint by Roy Bennett about his disqualification as a candidate in
the Chimanimani constituency, therefore remain actionable.
The dismissals, rejections and verdicts that had been pronounced by any of
the Electoral Court judges have become meaningless.
The six-month period, in which election petitions had to be determined,
lapsed while government refused to correct the law and electoral court
judges refused to refer the question of their appointment.
Lawyers representing the MDC contend there must be, at law, a solution or
remedy for the petitioners to cure this injustice, since the Supreme Court
specifically recognised that they were denied a fair hearing within a
reasonable time by a properly constituted court. This was in violation of
the Declaration of Rights, as enshrined in the constitution of Zimbabwe and
in other relevant international legal instruments.
PROSPECTS of building bridges between Zimbabwe and its former colonial
master Britain are becoming increasingly gloomy as the gap between the two
countries seems to be widening.
Although diplomatic ties have not irretrievably broken down, the gap between
the Zimbabwe and its former colonial master could actually prove impossible
to narrow, if their bitter exchanges this week are anything to go by.
President Robert Mugabe said his government has defeated Britain's political
machinations to destroy the country's economy and effect regime change.
Officially opening the Second Session of the Sixth Parliament of Zimbabwe on
Tuesday, the Zimbabwean leader, accused of spurning international calls for
political reforms, added that the continued imposition of "illegal"
sanctions against Zimbabwe by the European Union and the United States was
at the behest of the country's erstwhile colonisers.
"It is however refreshing that the world has now become fully aware of the
dishonest and hypocritical anti-Zimbabwe strategy of the current British
government," said President Mugabe. "We feel proud that we have defeated
that strategy which was aimed at the collapse of the Zimbabwean economy and
an envisaged regime change. Zimbabwe will never be a colony again," he
Over the years, President Mugabe, who for the first time came close to
admitting that there is a crisis in Zimbabwe, has maintained that Britain
and its allies wanted to topple his government which they oppose not because
of his undemocratic election, but as punishment for the country's widely
condemned land reform exercise. His government has maintained that Britain,
which in the early 1980s provided 47 million pounds for land reform under
the doomed willing-seller-willing-buyer scheme, has changed its political
tune because it now wants "its man" in.
Britain, President Mugabe's favourite scapegoat for the country's myriad
economic problems and political crisis - yesterday said Harare should change
its ppractice of continuously blaming London for its woes and instead
concentrate on finding a permanent solution to its nagging problems.
Warning that Zimbabwe risked putting itself beyond rescue, the British
embassy in Harare told The Financial Gazette that President Mugabe and his
government needed to embrace acceptable economic and political policies that
would benefit impoverished Zimbabweans, an estimated four million of whom
are believed to have fled the country to the diaspora, including the UK and
Embassy spokesperson Gillian Dare - disputing the charge that her country
had an agenda to destabilise Zimbabwe, said the ball was in President Mugabe's
court to change the fortunes of the country and its people.
"There is real work to be done, if Zimbabwe is to fulfil its true potential.
Most of this needs to be done by Zimbabweans and their government," said
Dare in a press statement to The Financial Gazette in response to President
Mugabe's accusations on Tuesday.
She denied that her country harbored motives to re-colonise or effect regime
change in Zimbabwe as has been the government's mantra in the past six
"The country is at a crossroads. If it continues to take its current course,
it will put itself beyond rescue. But Zimbabwe has a choice. It can change
track, change policies and give its people the life, the prospects and
future they deserve. This is a choice only the government of Zimbabwe can
make. Policy in Zimbabwe needs to evolve in a new direction, not because
Britain, the international community or anyone else tells them to do it, but
because it is the right thing to do for the people and future of Zimbabwe,"
Other African countries, she said, were demonstrating that it was possible
to have economically sustainable, market friendly policies, and to work in
close and fruitful cooperation with international donors, while those
policies remained wholly-owned and driven by African governments and their
people. Sovereignty and cooperation were not mutually exclusive.
President Mugabe has appointed former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa to
act as mediator in the alleged bilateral dispute critics last week said was
doomed due to failure by Harare to recognise that it was part of the
political and economic problems bedeviling the country. Britain has also
flatly denied there is a bilateral dispute between it and Zimbabwe.
Said Dare: "Britain and its EU partners have not imposed economic sanctions
against Zimbabwe or its people. What all members states of the European
Union have agreed are targeted measures against limited number of named
individuals. Only those individuals are affected."
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has fired warning shots at one of his most trusted
lieutenants - John Nkomo.
Though political observers say Mugabe's sentiments at the 66th ordinary
session of his party's central committee at which he blasted senior
officials in the party for abusing their authority to amass wealth and
property were general and directed at the entire party leadership, those in
Bulawayo believe they were directed at Speaker of Parliament and party
chairman John Nkomo.
Nkomo has been involved in a wrangle with local businessman and farmer
Langton Masunda over a farm in Gwayi which includes Jijima Lodge. Masunda
was allocated the 611-hectare farm in 2002 but the offer letter was
withdrawn by Lands Minister Didymus Mutasa last month. High Court Judge
Francis Bere, however, set aside the minister's decision on July 7. Mutasa
conceded on July 13 that he had wrongfully withdrawn Masunda's offer letter
because he had not followed the proper procedure.
Nkomo had been trying to muscle his way in using his political rank, but
Masunda stood his ground. Sources say Masunda was backed by Nkomo's
political opponents who were also benefiting from the thriving safari
industry in the area.
Nkomo is the fourth highest ranking official in ZANU-PF after President
Mugabe and his two deputies, Joseph Msika and Joice Mujuru. Nkomo has been
accused of using his political position to intimidate opponents and to
acquire some running business concerns. He, however, seemed to have hit a
brick wall when his path crossed that of his juniors who are jostling for
the succession of Joseph Msika as vice-president. Msika has been ill for
some time and under the unity accord of 1987, one of the posts of
vice-president must go to a former PF-ZAPU official, should he step down.
Nkomo was at one time the frontrunner, with Dumiso Dabengwa earmarked for
the post of national chairman. But this plan was later scuttled after Msika
allegedly changed his mind saying Dabengwa should become vice-president as
Nkomo was too close to Mugabe.
Nkomo and Midlands governor Cephas Msipa were the only two PF-ZAPU ministers
retained in Mugabe's government in the early 1980s when PF-ZAPU officials
were kicked out of the government of national unity following the alleged
discovery of arms caches at farms that belonged to PF-ZAPU.
Masunda's neighbours were allegedly opposed to Nkomo's entry because they
were afraid he would not pass on business to them as Masunda was allegedly
doing at the moment.
The battle to succeed Msika is understood to now include Industry and
International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu. Msika says his post is not yet up
Political observers said it was too early to rule Nkomo out because Mugabe's
sentiments were general.
"I did not follow the debate closely but I believe the President's
sentiments were aimed at the general leadership," political commentator
Lawton Hikwa said.
John Makumbe said though Nkomo was one of the targets, Mugabe could have
also been addressing people like Joseph Made and Didymus Mutasa because they
were also involved, especially in the Kondozi saga. The government took over
Kondozi farm, a leading horticultural project, from TZI, a listed company,
and the farm has since been looted of vital equipment.
"Nkomo is too close to Mugabe. So I don't think this will spoil his chances
of rising to vice-president," Makumbe said. "Besides, Mugabe's bark does not
have bite anymore. He just talks but does nothing."
ZIMBABWE'S troubled bakers appeared defiant to a government crackdown on
high priced bread by effecting yet another price hike hardly two months
after another price jack up.
Last month President Robert Mugabe's government reacted to a bread price
increase by arresting 300 bakers and shopkeepers charging them for illegally
pricing bread above the gazetted $85 000 per loaf.
But defiant bakers at the weekend still effected a 61.5 percent increase on
the price of bread pegging it at $210 000 per loaf from $130 000.
Although they have been absorbing the increases in the prices of most raw
materials over the past month, bakers told The Financial Gazette that they
had reached a stage where the gazetted price is completely unsustainable.
Bakers attributed the latest bread price adjustment to an increase in the
retail price of flour.
They said millers had raised the price of flour from $3.5 million per 50kg
to between $4 million and $6 million per 50kg.
The disgruntled bakers said since millers were not getting their weekly
allocations from the state-run Grain Marketing Board (GMB), they were now
being forced to import additional flour in the absence of local wheat
supplies to meet demand and hence had to sell the product at a premium.
Zimbabwe is grappling with a serious shortage of wheat, which was spawned by
the seizure of white owned farms to resettle veterans of the liberation
struggle in 2000.
Since the land grab exercise, the country has been recording a decline in
wheat production causing a countrywide shortage of bread while bakers have
in turn charged high prices for the commodity.
Other bakers claimed that vegetable oil processors had doubled the price of
fat and margarine while wages and salaries had also been increased during
the traditional July salary reviews.
Faced with erratic supplies of fuel on the official market, bakers are
sourcing diesel, which is used to fire their ovens, on the black market
where a litre costs $500 000.
"The bakers are reacting to rising input costs," said one of the bakers.
The price of bread, which is the second staple food after maize in this
country, has been increasing dramatically worsening hardships for most
While the government continues to set the price of bread at unrealistic
levels, bakers say producing at the current retail prices is unviable and
would threaten the sectors' 20 000 jobs.
Since 2000 when the government backed a wholesale seizure of white-owned
productive farmland, Zimbabwe has been experiencing serious food shortages.
Faced with the highest inflation rate in the world of 1 184.6 percent, the
country is in the throes of an agonising economic crisis where prices of
commodities are escalating everyday.
Other struggling manufacturers in the country blame shortages of inputs and
foreign currency for most of the price increases.
SOME police trainees failed to execute some of their shooting drills at a
training camp located just outside Harare last month because the Zimbabwe
Republic Police (ZRP) had run out of bullets, The Financial Gazette has
Sources said police recruits who spent one week undergoing what the police
term 'coin' training at Lowdale Farm in Mazowe, in June did not carry out
shooting exercises with the FN rifle. The week-long training began on June
19 and ended on June 26.
Some of the trainers said they only used Kalashnikov 47 assault rifles
popularly known as (AK47)s and a few pistols for their drills.
"There were no bullets for the FN rifles so we were just shown how to handle
the firearm," said the sources.
Under standard training exercises the recruits are supposed to accustom
themselves with any form of firearm. Police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena
could neither deny nor confirm the shortage of bullets at training camps.
"We can't discuss security issues with the media," he said in a terse
But Zimbabwe's ability to beef up its weaponry was dealt a blow by western
countries after they imposed an arms ban on Harare in 2000 in protest
against alleged human rights abuses and economic mismanagement. Zimbabwe's
former colonial master Britain has also turned down all new applications for
arms and military equipment to be exported to Zimbabwe as part of its
reaction to political violence in the country. The supply of Land Rovers to
the Zimbabwean police together with all licences for spare parts for Hawk
aircraft has also been put on hold in protests against what the critics call
a democracy deficit.
The arms embargo has forced Zimbabwe to turn to Israel and China as
WATCH out for those earthquakes, President Robert Mugabe warned on Tuesday.
The recent quakes that hit Zimbabwe "call on us to abandon our previous
laissez faire approach and become more pro-active", he said.
Later today, Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa could do just that and try to
"be pro-active" - but the markets are praying that his statement will not
set off the same earthquakes and tremors that his half-year review caused
Then, Murerwa introduced withholding taxes on marketable securities and
regulations compelling pension funds to have their prescribed asset ratios
calculated at market value.
What ensued were 17 straight days of no trade on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange
(ZSE), and bitterness all round.
This year, government remains as hungry for revenue as it was when those new
taxes were introduced.
Thankfully for Murerwa, the stage is relatively calmer this time.
At the time of last year's review, Murambatsvina's flames were still
smouldering and government wanted him to spend $3 trillion on
reconstruction, an IMF team was in town nagging him to pay up Zimbabwe's IMF
arrears, he needed to raise money to fund nine new pointless ministries, and
an even more pointless senate, while also having to earmark money for
critical grain imports.
Critics said this forced Murerwa's hand on taxation. He could not raise
personal taxes for already overtaxed workers, leaving the investment
community a sitting duck.
Although the climate is different this year, government officials admit
ministries ran down their budget allocations months ago, most of their funds
going into wages after civil servants got salary hikes as high as 300
percent in April.
Murerwa also needs to urgently raise money to fund wheat imports, which have
been put at 164 000 tonnes by Economic Development Minister Rugare Gumbo.
Despite claims of a bumper maize crop this year, maize imports continue. The
country's tax base has been shrinking while the government's need for cash
has been rising, so this could again tempt Murerwa to slap new taxes on
"That could happen, but it has been proven elsewhere that tax revenues can
actually rise if taxation rates are cut," one economist said.
Murerwa is also seen granting new tax concessions for the poor. But critics
say such tax cuts, if not backed by more solid policy, only give workers
short term relief.
"He will just tinker with a few variables in order to give the government
some breathing space but he will fall far short of addressing the
deep-rooted causes of the economic problems," said economist James Jowa.
A "state of malaise" is how President Mugabe described the condition of
Zimbabwe's economy on Tuesday, the closest he ever came in his speech to
acknowledging how far down the hole his administration has driven the
But yet again in denial mode, Mugabe blamed the usual suspects: "the
dishonest and hypocritical anti Zimbabwe strategy of the current British
Government" and "reactionary elements amongst us".
Murerwa will perhaps mention "illegal sanctions" in his speech - compulsory
rhetoric for any minister who wants to keep his or her job - but analysts
believe the minister, long seen as a reformist, will paint a less fuzzy
picture of where the economy really stands.
Still, he is expected to stick to his 2006 growth forecasts of 2-3.5
percent, and will play up the prospects of recovery under NEDPP.
Murerwa has forecast inflation to end 2006 at 80 percent, another forecast
that might well be revised.
With the financial markets apparently more fixated with Monday's monetary
policy statement by Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono than they are with
today's fiscal review, how Murerwa will play on taxation which will
determine whether or not investors will, as they did last year, be caught
out when the earth starts to shake.
THE Zimbabwe dollar came under renewed pressure this week from excess
liquidity on the market and buying pressure from speculators taking bets on
an imminent devaluation.
CFX Bank reported that the Zimdollar had traded as low as $520 000 on the US
dollar, down from $450 000 last week, while other dealers quoted
Rand/Zimdollar at R1:$70 000.
Dealers and analysts see central bank governor Gideon Gono removing some of
the controls that have put a lid on the exchange rate since January when he
makes his statemen on Monday.
"The upward movement in the parallel rate was as a result of excess
liquidity on the money market during the period and the buying pressure that
is in the market in anticipation on devaluation of the currency soon," CFX
Bank said in a commentary.
Any change in policy that allows the official exchange rate to move would
likely add momentum to the parallel market, at least in the short term, say
analysts. The exchange rate has moved only one percent - once on April 26 -
since Gono introduced measures that strictly tie the rate's movement to
actual volumes traded on a day. The gap between the official and parallel
markets, which had narrowed prior to the January announcement, has widened
since, raising calls for a new policy that accounts for the movement in
inflation in the last six months.
"There is need to come up with a workable exchange rate policy which
recognises market forces and at the same time to engage international
financial institutions for balance-of-payments support if we are to witness
the divergence of the rates. Currently many, if not all, transactions are
priced using the parallel rate and the removal of price distortions will
help to reduce arbitrage activities and possibly reducing the parallel
premium," CFX said.
Gono, analysts say, could incorporate recent proposals from the
Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) for an interim two-tier exchange
Another key measure expected to come out of Gono's statement is a repeal of
US-dollar linked capital requirements for banks, which face trouble should
there be a devaluation under current rules.
Also under close watch on Monday will be Gono's interest rate policy, which
has been aggressive over the past year.
Gono last week announced a further cut in statutory reserve requirements at
a meeting with bankers, somewhat softening his policy stance but dropping
real hints on rates.
Encouraged by the June inflation numbers and forecasts of a further slowdown
for this month, Gono is also seen sticking to his forecast that inflation
will peak at 1200 percent. But although inflation is seen slower in July,
many say the long term outlook remains poor.
THE Zimbabwe Mining and Smelting Company (Zimasco) has lost over US$1,1
million in potential revenue due to a fire that destroyed its furnaces at
Kwekwe last week.
A source at the ferro-chrome smelter said on Tuesday that the figure could
have been higher had the company failed to urgently bring some of the
furnaces back on line. The source said the losses are much higher than the
earlier reported US$900 000.
"On average, we lost more than US$1,1 million in revenue because our
production was stopped for three full days and over half of the fourth day.
On average, Zimasco rakes in US$300 000 a day and these four days really
cost us a fortune," said the source.
The company is still bleeding losses as full scale operations are yet to be
restored at the company.
Zimasco produces an average of 220 000 tonnes of ferrochrome products that
it sells to Europe, USA, Asia, Italy, Spain, France and Germany, Zimasco's
Refurbishment costs have also been put higher than the reported US$1,3
million, the same sources said and that amount will only cover replacement
of the affected transformer as well as the charge car which were both
destroyed in the inferno.
"There are a lot of things that still need to be fixed. One can talk of
conveyor belts, power cables, insulation material, the fire-proof wall, as
well as other components that we will have to purchase so that all things
can get back to normal," the company source said.
The ferro-chrome producer is reported to have raked in US $150 million from
the sale of the ferro-chrome products last year alone.
THE feud over Harare's Town House has taken a new twist with the ZANU PF
Harare province accusing Local Government, Public Works and National Housing
minister, Ignatius Chombo of foisting members of the party from his
Mashonaland West province onto the commission running the affairs of the
city of Harare.
ZANU PF's Harare province secretary for information and Publicity, William
Nhara, said there was concern among party members over Chombo's continued
appointment of people from Mashonaland West to the commission running the
affairs of the city of Harare.
Only Tendai Savanhu, a Zanu PF politburo member comes from Harare, Nhara
This, he said, was a mockery as it suggested there were no competent people
from the party's structures in the capital.
"One of the things that has created this feud is that party members in
Harare are angry over Chombo's continued clandestine appointments of people
who are supposed to be commissioners of Harare. If one is to take a closer
look at the current commissioners, all of them, except Tendai Savanhu, come
from Mashonaland West. Party members are asking therefore, whether our own
members are failures to the extent that they cannot serve on that commission
"We believe as a province, that we have better and brighter brains than
Makwavarara and her entire commission. The way we look at it is that we will
watch helplessly as our city's service delivery collapses because the person
who is there is very incapable of coming up with any plans that can turn
around the city's fortunes," Nhara said.
Nhara said that party members, even those from Mashonaland West where
Makwavarara is said to come from, were not sure of her position in the
"Everyone knows that Makwavarara was a member of the MDC. Being a political
turncoat enabled her to rise to the helm of Harare because she told Chombo
she came from Mashonaland West.
"What we know is that the card that she has was acquired for her just for
expedience. Otherwise her credentials as a member of the party are
questionable and we will definitely fight to have her out of that seat
because as far as we are concerned, she does not represent our interests,
even those of the party, but interests of an individual who in this case is
none other than Chombo himself," Nhara added.
The provincial spokesperson also questioned why Chombo was continuously
imposing people on the Harare commission without any consultation with party
members in Harare.
This, Nhara said, proved that he (Chombo) did not value the presence of the
party members from Harare, their input into the governance of their city and
province, as well as belittling them and their intelligence.
"Although he has not publicly said that he does not value us, his actions
show that he is a man who is only interested about his welfare. He has shown
us that he does not value us because if he did value our contribution to the
well being of ZANU PF as a party, he should consult us on the manner in
which we want our city and province to be governed," Nhara added.
He added: "As far as we, the Harare province, are concerned, the future of
Harare is a gloomy one because we believe that Makwavarara does not have the
capacity to turn around the fortunes of this city. What is needed is someone
with the brightest of brains who can put in place systems that would enable
her to come up with decisions that can make Harare a better city. To us,
Makwavarara does not possess those qualities and she has to go now," Nhara
The past month has seen an unprecedented outburst from the ZANU PF executive
in the capital, condemning Makwavarara's administration at Town House. ZANU
PF central committee members in Harare have publicly given Makwavarara a
vote of no confidence, but further action against her has been forestalled
by Chombo's dogged defence of her and the party's concerns over an all-out
war for control of the seat forcibly wrested from the MDC's Elias Mudzuri
barely a year after he was overwhelmingly elected Harare's first opposition
mayor in 2002.
THE political joke doing the rounds in Harare this week is that suspended
ZANU PF Hurungwe West legislator Cecilia Dausi Gwachiwa has taken
inter-party dialogue to a new plane by - according to incensed party
officials in the Mashonaland West province - cohabiting with a suspected
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) sympathiser. But details emerged
yesterday of a serious tribal turf war within the ruling party's provincial
executive. ZANU PF insiders in the faction-prone Mashonaland West province
alleged in interviews with The Financial Gazette that tribalism and
regionalism were behind Gwachiwa's latest ordeal in which the provincial
executive, led by John Mafa, is seeking her ouster from the ruling party.
The Hurungwe legislator is allegedly facing charges of "sleeping with the
enemy", Henry Juru, who is believed to live with Gwachiwa at a farm about 35
kilometres from Karoi. Sources said Juru is the manager at the said farm.
Other charges cited by Mafa on state television this week were that
"Gwachiwa was moving around the constituency with her MDC lover, benefited
from MDC money made available to her allegedly through Juru, having access
to five guns given to Juru by white farmers and going out with Juru fully
knowing that he was a married man."
Mafa's executive met in the Mashonaland West provincial capital, Chinhoyi,
last Sunday and recommended that she be dismissed from the party because of
her association with Juru.
The executive has since written to ZANU PF chairman and Speaker of
Parliament John Nkomo, informing him of Gwachiwa's suspension from
Mashonaland West and recommending her dismissal from the party.
The sources said the political developments in Mashonaland West had nothing
to do with Gwachiwa's private life but all to do with the fact that she was
viewed as an outsider as she is originally from Manicaland.
Gwachiwa trounced suspended ZANU PF Hurungwe-Kariba senator Phone Madiro to
win the ticket to represent the ruling party in the March 2005 parliamentary
polls after a violent primary election campaign, which resulted in the death
of one man.
Madiro has since been convicted for public violence stemming from the
clashes. He was fined $10 million and faced six months' imprisonment after a
Karoi magistrate found him guilty of inciting a group of 18 youths to attack
Gwachiwa's supporters. Although Madiro, who later became a senator after the
November 2005 polls, is appealing against the sentence, he is currently
suspended from Parliament.
Gwachiwa on Tuesday shrugged off her suspension and the resulting media
spotlight to attend the official opening of the second session of the Sixth
Parliament by President Robert Mugabe. She told The Financial Gazette
yesterday: "I suspect it's a smear campaign but I can't comment any further
because I have not spoken to the people that are peddling those allegations.
Maybe talking to the people would help," she said. "I might be in a position
to comment later when I have spoken to those people."
Njabulo Ncube & Tawanda Karombo
MORE than 300 companies have applied to access part of the $5 trillion
Distressed Companies Fund, but industrialists warn that saving the country's
tottering economy will need a lot more than doling out cash to failed firms.
Industry and International Trade Minister Obert Mpofu told The Financial
Gazette that only 15 applications had been approved so far and these would
gobble up a total of $900 billion.
"We are going through additional companies. We have 300 that need help at
this moment," said Mpofu. The government set up the fund recently in which
it set aside Z$5 trillion under the facility. Most of the companies that
have applied for assistance under the fund are in the manufacturing
However, industrialists worry that the fund could be used to fund
under-performing state-controlled companies.
Commentator Jonathan Kadzura welcomed the fund, saying it showed that
government realised that the economic environment was no longer viable for
several companies. Kadzura added that the fund, if properly used, would help
cushion distressed companies. He however suggested that a longer term
solution to helping industry would be a policy to stabilise the economy.
"It is commendable that the government sees that the operating environment
is increasingly becoming difficult. (However) It is important to stabilise
the operating environment when such steps are taken," Kadzura warned.
Other analysts that spoke to this paper said care should be taken in
determining which companies receive what funding.
Industrialists say much of industry is operating well below capacity - with
many companies below 30 percent capacity - due to a combination of shortages
of foreign currency to acquire raw materials and the worsening power cuts.
THE agricultural taskforce established under the National Economic Recovery
Council (NERC) has recommended the scrapping of the Grain Marketing Board
(GMB) monopoly on the marketing and distribution of grain to facilitate the
recovery of the decimated agricultural sector.
In a document entitled Summary of Issues; Agricultural Coordination, Input
Supply and Food Security presented to the chairperson of the NERC, Vice
President Joice Mujuru, the taskforce proposed an end to the GMB's monopoly
in the grain market.
It said the monopoly must be replaced by the liberalisation of the internal
marketing of grains through the establishment of the Agricultural Marketing
Authority (AMA), which has been on the cards for a long time, and the
resuscitation of the disbanded Zimbabwe Agricultural Commodity Exchange
(ZIMACE), which was scrapped when Zimbabwe introduced price controls on
"There is need to liberalise the internal marketing of grains and remove the
GMB monopoly in the internal market," read part of the recommendations send
to Mujuru recently. "The AMA must be geared towards establishing an orderly
marketing system for agricultural produce, building of cost models and the
sourcing of external funding for agriculture."
The GMB, which recently diversified into the milling and baking industry,
has since 2001 been the country's sole importer and exporter of grain and it
is a criminal offence for anyone to trade in the commodity. But critics say
the parastatal has failed to source enough supplies of grain to feed
millions of starving Zimbabweans.
The committee recommended the decontrol of prices of agricultural inputs
such as fertiliser and seed and the timeous availing of enough foreign
currency to procure these inputs, which have been under a price control
regime since 2001. The imposition of price dictates and low inflows of
foreign currency has resulted in massive shortages of these crucial inputs
as manufacturers cite unprofitability.
International crop forecasters say the input shortages are largely to blame
for Zimbabwe's poor grain harvest this season, estimated at between 900 000
and 1.1 million tonnes.
The committee also took a swipe at farm invasions which are continuing
despite a government guarantee to put a stop to disruptions on the farms.
Zimbabwe, which is in its sixth straight year of food shortages, is
projected to record another food deficit in the just-ended agricultural
season. Prior to its decimation, the agricultural sector accounted for about
16.5 percent of gross domestic product, 33 percent of foreign exchange
earnings and 26 percent of employment.
Critics say the grain deficit is largely a result of President Robert Mugabe's
controversial land redistribution programme under which he seized productive
land from whites and handed it over to landless black peasant farmers who
lack the necessary expertise and financial resources. The Zimbabwean
government flatly denies the charge.
ZIMBABWE'S beverages manufacturers will have to import 80 percent of their
orange juice requirements as the country's prime supplier Mazowe Citrus
Estates (MCE) will only meet 20 percent of their needs this year, it emerged
A spokesman for Schweppes Zimbabwe Limited (SZL), the country's largest
cordials manufacturer and marketer told The Financial Gazette that MCE,
which in June increased the price of orange juice by more than 1 000 percent
had indicated to them that it won't be able to satisfy their juice
"MCE is our local supplier and has the task of securing the orange crop
required for production of juice. The only indication that has been given to
SZL is that MCE is only meeting 20 percent of our juice requirements for the
year," said Unaiswi Nleya, SZL's marketing services manager.
As a result of a poor orange season at MCE and Citri-fruit, another juice
supplier, Nleya said SZL is being forced to import juice concentrates from
Letaba Citrus Processors, South Africa's second largest citrus processor.
MCE's orange production has been hit by the occupation of a fifth of its
land by new farmers under the government-backed land reform programme.
SZL has been hiking the retail price of Mazoe Orange Crush, a popular drink
enjoyed by almost every household in Zimbabwe almost on a monthly basis. In
June SZL effected a price increase ranging from 33.60 percent across the
product portfolio. SZL says the price reviews are necessary to continue in
The company attributes the price increases to high import content of inputs
and high interest rates financial institutions are quoting on borrowings.
"SZL pays upfront for all key inputs and raw materials which is financed
mainly from borrowings at an average interest rate of 350 percent," said
Besides juice, SZL also imports coal, concentrates and resin, which is used
in the manufacture of bottles.
"Resin is the only material required for bottle production with the
additional conversion cost constituting the full cost of manufacturing a
bottle. Packaging accounts for a significant share of the cost of production
due to the fact that resin is imported," said Nleya.
In June the government sparked an outcry from the Beverage Manufacturers
Association after hiking duty on imported orange juice by 40 percent, up
from five percent.
Besides SZL, softdrinks manufacturer Delta Beverages is also importing
concentrates from Swaziland. At one time the company had to suspend
production due to the failure to import concentrates.
A NEW cut on statutory reserves and a promise to "look into" unpopular US
dollar-linked capital requirements are central bank governor Gideon Gono's
bait for banks to take up his plea to boost farm lending, but analysts doubt
advances to agriculture will see an immediate and significant rise.
At a meeting with bank CEOs last Wednesday, Gono told bankers that he wanted
to see them "playing a bigger" role in the financing of agriculture in the
coming season, clearly hoping that their increased involvement can
compensate for weak state support for thousands of poor resettled farmers.
Blessing Sakupwanya, economist at CFX Bank, says there are two factors that
will determine future bank support for agriculture. First, security of
tenure will have to return to agriculture. Secondly, agriculture lending
must make business sense for banks. This means banks should not be driven
into giving concessionary loans to farmers, while their own cost of funding
"Any additional participation of banks (in agriculture) will have to be
viable. Banks will be ready to support agriculture provided that the cost of
funds is low enough to match the rates at which banks are expected to avail
credit to farmers," said Sakupwanya.
This means farmers would not get credit at concessionary rates, contrary to
government pleas that banks provide cheap lending for farmers. The Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) has itself, ironically, withdrawn a range of farm
subsidies and cheap funds for farmers.
The risk of default is high, so provisioning has to match that risk - and
this can come at the expense of profit. Agribank, the state-controlled
agriculture lending bank, provides the starkest evidence of just how risky
farm lending can be.
Agribank had $519 billion in non-performing loans in December. Bad and
doubtful debts rose from $31 billion in 2004 to $401 billion in 2005, blamed
on crop failure and input shortages. The bank made a provision for doubtful
debts of $434 billion, up from $36 billion in 2004. Loans and advances to
farmers stood at $1.53 trillion, with the bulk of that loan book in 91-day
to 180-day maturing loans. Tellingly, Agribank had no 365-day loans on its
books. The bank wrote off $3 billion in bad debts in 2005, up from $415
million. The heavy provisioning hit profits, which came in at $77.4 billion,
up from $16.3 billion.
However, this has not stopped larger banks from lending into farms, although
using completely different lending practices and being more surgical
choosing whom to lend to. At CBZ, the largest listed bank and the second
largest retail bank overall, agriculture accounted for 35.8 percent of
advances in 2005, up from 17.6 percent in 2004. However, at the bank's
earnings presentation in April, group CEO Nyasha Makuvise made it a point to
stress that the bank had strict security in place over its farm loans.
An RBZ official, declining to be named, told The Financial Gazette earlier
this week that the central bank wants to see financial institutions involved
on "many levels; not only via direct lending". According to the official,
banks must look to arrange lines-of-credit for inputs and to support farm
infrastructure. However, given that Zimbabwean agriculture has not exactly
come out of the swashbuckling style of land reform smelling of roses, it has
become increasingly tough for local banks to arrange any lines-of-credit at
all, not least those specifically targeting agriculture.
ZIMBABWE'S main trade union body, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions
(ZCTU), has raised the prospect of pulling out of the Tripartite Negotiating
Forum (TNF) over the tabling of a report by the government recommending the
prosecution of its leaders over alleged financial irregularities.
In a new assault on the powerful umbrella labour body, Public Service,
Labour and Social Welfare Minister Nicholas Goche, who barred journalists
from the private media from last Wednesday's press briefing, said the probe
into the affairs of the ZCTU had concluded that the labour body had flouted
exchange control regulations and violated provisions of its constitution by
operating a two-tier financial reporting structure and maintaining bank
accounts run by unauthorised signatories.
Goche reportedly told state media journalists that he will personally deal
with charges of an administrative kind while charges of a criminal nature
would be referred to the police for possible prosecution.
"In view of the foregoing, I wish to advise that after further consultations
appropriate action will be taken in accordance with the recommendations of
the investigation report," said Goche.
But leaders of the militant labour federation this week told The Financial
Gazette that the government's resolution infringes on the tenets of social
"When you have these things they tend to scupper the whole process of social
dialogue," said ZCTU president Lovemore Matombo. "We just have to review the
whole process," he added.
The government appointed Tendai Chatsauka, chief internal auditor at the
Mines Ministry, to investigate alleged corruption, breaches of the
constitution and financial irregularities at the ZCTU's head office in
Harare in December 2005. The probe into the financial affairs of the labour
body came about after several ZCTU affiliates, which the labour union's
leadership believes to be under the sponsorship of the government, raised
charges of financial impropriety against the union's executive and the
ZCTU secretary general Wellington Chibebe this week accused the government
of attempting to neutralise the union's influence among workers by levelling
the allegations on the eve of planned mass protests.
"We are not surprised and we are not worried as our financial report and the
General Council report were approved by the congress. So which congress
constitution was violated?" questioned Chibebe, whose organisation
previously pulled out of the TNF in 2003 after the government unilaterally
hiked the retail price of fuel without the consent of the other partners.
Matombo said the allegations which were raised by the probe report had been
dealt with at the labour body's congress in May.
"Those issues were raised and debated exhaustively at our congress by the
union's governing council which has the legal right to question anything
considered abnormal," he said. "So Goche's action is tantamount to direct
interference which violates convention 87 of the International Labour
Organisation (ILO), which stipulates freedom of association and the right to
organise," added Matombo.
The threat to pull out of the TNF comes barely a week after two United
Nations bodies, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and ILO
moved last week to thaw out frozen relations among the social partners in a
fresh bid to speed up the crafting of a lasting remedy to Zimbabwe's
festering economic crisis.
A REPORT in The Financial Gazette of July 20 2006 titled Zim's zeros baffle
computers, further shows how fraught the Zimbabwean economy has become. In
the report it is said that computers are having trouble making sense of all
those zeros and staff in various banks are having a sweltering time and the
banks were contemplating a number of strategies, all of which have dire
implications. This underscores the seriousness of the situation in a country
formerly referred to as the breadbasket of Africa. A solution must be found
quickly. In my opinion, changing the currency given the highly unstable
circumstances is least advisable.
The currency has lost so much value and the government has responded by
printing more notes each time a higher denomination bearer cheque is
introduced to keep up with the ever rising prices.
I am equally sure the price of printing those notes has far surpassed their
value and the burden on the consumer of carrying bags of notes is
overwhelming. Until a lasting solution is found, consumers will continue to
suffer and therefore the central bank must adopt measures to cushion
consumers. I suggest that the central bank adopts and encourages the use of
plastic money which includes credit and debit cards, as an alternative for a
number of reasons.
Before I delve deeper into the nitty-gritties it is important to note that
bearer cheques wear out quickly. They are also fairly easy to counterfeit -
despite the security features such as the watermark and the metallic thread.
The emergence of high resolution colour photocopiers and scanners has made
it easier to reproduce them. I wouldn't be surprised to discover that a
substantial number of those notes are fake.
Plastic money or credit cards are the most popular mode of payment in the US
today and in other parts of the world. The use of notes is fast becoming
not-so-common and it is quite possible that someone might survive with no
note in their wallet. So what is it that makes credit cards so indispensable
for all and sundry in the US? Let me examine a few factors here:
lA matter of convenience. This is the most important factor. Imagine
stashing cash in all your pockets as against just a small piece of plastic.
If you don't have a credit card, you have to dress up for shopping in a way
that maximises the pockets in which you can carry cash. With all that cash
stashed everywhere on you, even your body movements are restricted, thus
causing even more inconvenience.
lSafety as they say. Carrying a lot of cash is never safe. This becomes even
more important when traveling. Bearer cheques are not only easily visible
from the bulge in your pockets but also the most liquid form of money i.e.
stolen cash can be easily used without detection. Contrary to this, credit
card transactions are detectable and traceable. Moreover, each transaction
is authenticated for the user who is carrying out the transaction. More so,
cash carrying cash can invite trouble in the form of muggers and leads to
physical harm as well. So it's more prudent to avoid the display of cash and
instead use plastic as a substitute.
lBuild credit rating. Credit cards are a good way to establish
creditworthiness in the market. Based on whether you make timely payments or
default on them, the credit card companies maintain your history and build
your credit rating over a period of time. This can be shared with other
financial institutions who want to check your creditworthiness before
conducting financial transactions with you. This rating can also become
handy when you are applying for loans or mortgages.
lSaves time. No need to worry about whether you have enough cash on hand or
not. No need to spend time withdrawing cash from the ATM. Just carry your
credit card with you and all is taken care of.
lFall back option when overseas. I have tried without success to change
Zimbabwean dollars. I guess people are afraid to take them because they lose
value the moment they exchange hands. Plastic money, if internationally
recognised like the Visa and Master card, are treated as money when
overseas. When one runs out of traveller's cheques they can rely on their
credit card as a fallback option.
With so many benefits, credit cards can no longer be avoided. Above all,
besides being convenient, plastic money will save expenditure on printing
new notes on a daily basis. I am challenging the Reserve Bank to consider
this alternative if they share the agony of most Zimbabweans and serious
about the economic and social well being of the Zimbabwean folk.
lAsher Tarivona-Mutsengi is a research scholar at the University of Texas at
Austin, College of Natural Sciences. He can be contacted through
NO HOLDS BARRED
ZIMBABWE, the once great African country, is in difficulty and uncertainty.
Some would say great danger. Resources and goods have become hard to come
by. An estimated 80 percent of the population is in a poverty trap - living
below the breadline.
The mounting problems are insuperable. And that is what I call a crisis.
Yet the country's ostrich government, known for turning logic on its head,
continues to deny that there is a crisis in Zimbabwe. This is even more
extraordinary in light of revelations by a South African weekly that close
to 300 Zimbabweans are being deported from that country on a daily basis.
The Sunday Times this week carried the heart-rending story about scores of
Zimbabweans being deported by South Africa which, with the influx of
Zimbabwean economic refugees, is bursting at the seams. In a lead article
that obviously left a painful impression, the paper called these Zimbabweans
who have been stripped of every human being's most cherished possession -
dignity - illegal immigrants.
For the six months up to June more than 50 000 Zimbabweans fleeing from the
socio-economic difficulties spawned and aggravated by the ruling ZANU PF
government's mistakes had been deported from South Africa whose authorities
seem not ready to receive economic refugees from Zimbabwe, let alone
acknowledge the existence of a deepening crisis in their northern neighbour.
This has given me food for thought. For crying out loud! How does the ruling
ZANU PF political leadership, the author of this crisis, live with itself in
the face of this crying shame? Doesn't it have a conscience that can prick
it? Last year alone an estimated 100 000 Zimbabweans were deported from
South Africa, 30 000 more than the preceding year. And the numbers are
soaring from Botswana and the United Kingdom as well.
That over three million Zimbabweans - the largest refugee statistic from a
country not at war, itself a bizarre phenomenon - are living with the
indignity of being refugees throughout the world means that something has
gone terribly wrong despite official government assertions to the contrary.
Not without reason, Zimbabweans have been leaving in their droves. They are
running away from ZANU PF's terrible legacy - obsolete socio-political and
economic structures, acute shortages of food and fuel, the disastrous state
of the health delivery system, the absence of basic rights and freedoms,
joblessness, rising inflation and falling industrial production. In short,
they are running away from the resultant dehumanising effects of grinding
poverty and squalor.
The severe socio-economic hardships are largely a direct result of the
ruling ZANU PF government's destructive policies such as the land reform
exercise, which has touched off an unprecedented economic meltdown, policy
reversals as seen in the stop-go sell-off of state-owned assets or where
Bilateral Investment Protection Agreements (BIPAS) are not worth the paper
they are written on, policy uncertainty where government continuously
threatens to nationalise privately-owned investments such as is happening in
the mining sector at the moment and outright policy contradictions, among
In a nutshell, this is what has condemned the Zimbabwean economy into
historic contraction and seen millions living in the diaspora. It should not
be forgotten that business perceptions of the political process have a
significant impact on business confidence and long-term investments in the
private sector. Thus a growing economy and political reform are
In Zimbabwe, where political measures are continuously suggested as a remedy
for the economic woes and national disintegration, foreign investors
critical to infrastructural development do no see a political dispensation
that upholds certain key values to business and to society as a whole. This
explains the stampede for the exits by foreign investors seen over the years
and their current wait-and-see attitude.
It is instructive to note that the South African Chamber of Business
(SACOB), at the dawn of a new political era in the country in 1994, spelt
out their vision for a new constitution in South Africa. Among others, they
pointed out that while an economic system or policy cannot necessarily be
entrenched in a constitution, certain concepts fundamental to a market
economy and to business confidence need to be safeguarded.
They placed special emphasis on the law of persons, the law of property and
the law of contract. SACOB did not end there. It also stated that the
entrenchment of the independence of the judiciary, the principle of equality
before the law and the principle of non-discrimination were also essential.
Unfortunately all of this seems to be lost on Zimbabwe hence the tragic
consequences the country finds itself in where the economic problem is now
something akin to a crossword puzzle with only half the clues and no black
squares. And yet it needs not be that complex.
Thus millions of Zimba-bweans have either been condemned to abject poverty
or reduced to economic refugees due to the depressingly lengthy economic
crisis whose prospects for a quick turnaround remain grim. Their leaving for
countries where they have accepted the most odd and mundane jobs just to eke
out a living should be seen for what it is - a general disillusionment of a
people frustrated by social depravation. Thus, this dispersion, though not a
result of deliberate governmemt policy but a forced one due to the untenable
economic meltdown at home, is acting as a safety net for what could be a
very dangerous situation.
Yes, the enterprising Zimbabweans that have decided to do something about
their lives have provoked political ridicule and scorn whereby ZANU PF
politicians, the very architects of the economic refugees' terrible
predicament, poke fun at them for demeaning themselves by cleaning
geriatrics where the sun never shines. But were it not for their
never-say-die attitude, the millions of Zimbabweans scattered around the
world could have, just like those suffering back home, thrown their hands up
and wondered why - that is to say stand on the sidelines and passively
accept their fate. An alarming thought because that would mean their lives
crumbling to pieces and starving their families, given the stagnation and
misery characterising Zimbabwe today where doing without the creature
comforts is now considered the norm rather than the exception.
So they decided to flee and face the humiliating prospect of being refugees
in countries which, in some instances, have turned their backs on them. It
must be a most humiliating experience for anyone to be turned into
second-class citizens the way those being deported from South Africa or
elsewhere are. I can only imagine the psychological crises and horror of
such an experience to these multitudes of disenfranchised Zimbabweans. Not
to talk of the gradual disintegration of the Zimbabwean society's
traditional values which threatens the very fabric of society as families
live apart for years on end and wives are turned into bed-sheet adornments
for some lecherous men or downright sex slaves.
Whichever way one looks at it, most of the Zimbabweans cannot stand on their
dignity in the foreign lands. Sometimes it is difficult to preserve a sense
of your own importance and value when you have no job and no home, even in
your own country. What's more in a country where you are considered an
And all this should be blamed on no one but the ruling ZANU PF government,
which the international community has, to all intents and purposes, left to
its devices. Whatever spin the government, which is always looking for
someone to blame, will try to put to this is neither here nor there. The
bottom line is that it is its policies that have caused the severe economic
and social dislocation. And it should take full responsibility.
- email: email@example.com
LETTER FROM AMERICA
MY long time friend, Fabian Mabaya explained a new Zimbabwean economic
terminology. It was called "shrinking." He introduced me to two Roman
Catholic sisters of Don Bosco in Masvingo. The sisters worked with Zimcare
Trust to take care of 135 disabled kids at Ratidzo School. Sisters Manyawi
and Charuma had not expected ever to be called upon to feed 135 children
with five loaves and two fishes.
The Board conversation went something like this. Long time trustee Mr. John
Cumming was in the chair and Mabaya was the treasurer. Apparently they had
heard these stories before, and there was an air of desperation. Something
must give. The sisters had been allocated $168 million three months
previously, and they had 135 kids to feed and clean up. The five loaves from
Lobels were shrinking and fluffy instead of expanding as they were supposed
to. The two fishes had done a disappearing act.
The sisters recounted with an air of quiet desperation how they were short
of soap, detergents and disinfectants. Some children wet their blankets.
Most children have one pair of clothes. These they must wash and dry
overnight (chiomandikupfeke). They had been to see the Dutch Aid people for
porridge, but they had been rebuffed. Mealie meal was running short. Their
desperate voices were strengthened by faith, though sometimes they wiped
tears from their eyes. Now their treasury was virtually empty and they did
not know where to turn. BEAM (a government agency that supplements fees for
poor children) owed them $380 million.
"Ken, we are going through a shrink-down," Mabaya schooled me like a
schoolboy. The lights of the schoolroom blinked and there was a slight air
of discomfort. In today's Zimbabwe, lights go on and off at odd times. I was
to see this more often at my mother's house. Lights went off when she was
cooking sadza but the clever woman had a pot full of coals ready (mbaula) to
take up the slack.
More importantly, Mabaya explained his fears as treasurer. Money owed for
six months shrinks and is unable to buy goods that it could have bought six
months ago. Prices for building materials are only good when they are
printed. A week later prices have changed.
I went to Harare to do more research about Zimbabwean charities. I met a
lovely Swedish family and their pretty nine-year-old daughter. They had
returned to Zimbabwe after a period of four years absence. They were going
to work in Zone 72 in Chiredzi on a programme to empower cotton farmers and
a support system for AIDS networks. They needed an office and were actually
beginning from scratch. They had left Zimbabwe in 2002. The Swedish
government's spokesperson, Pekka Johansson, explained in 2001 "only a
restoration of the rule of law and full democracy could reclaim for Zimbabwe
the support of donors and development partners." This was a reaction to the
farm invasions of the previous two years and the reaction by the government
to register only friendly non-governmental organisations.
The significance was that non-governmental foreign aid, which was used to
support the majority of Zimbabwean charities, began to shrink. After that
statement, there was a 45 percent drop in foreign aid. The Germans alone
redirected U$400 million to other avenues. It was the Germans who had built
Masvingo Technical College as well as Ratidzo School for the Disabled. The
Swedish SIDA (development agency) was one of the most generous agencies with
an estimated input of over one billion US dollars over the previous 10
"Could the Zimbabwe organisations fill in the gap?" I asked. Dedicated men
like John Cumming and Zimbabwean chambers of commerce were working valiantly
to keep such houses like Ratidzo open. But the Zim dollar was shrinking, and
joblessness had reached 80 percent. As their pockets shrank, and their
dollar shrank, they had very little to give. Mr Cumming had travelled eight
kilometres for the meeting. His car was disabled by lack of petrol. The
petrol, if available, cost $450 000 a litre. I drove him home. I had filled
my Corolla with petrol in Harare for $30 million, a teacher's wage for one
I kept on hearing this word, "shrink" and I began to figure out that it
brought insane fear into the people. An agro trader explained it to me.
"Sooner or later," he said, "even when you are doing well, the shrink will
catch up with you and you are done for." He had bought fertiliser bags at $7
million a ton the previous year and sold it at an insane price, quadrupling
his price. He had called his friends to rejoice at this windfall blessing.
Then two months later, he was shocked when the suppliers announced a new
price for fertiliser at $45 million a ton. He was practically out of
A ZANU PF patriot was sending his son to a private college. First term he
paid something like $120 million. I used the words "something like" because
he was asked to pay a "top up fee" of some $50 million. Then the great
shrink came. The college announced its coming semester fees, $275 million.
He was wiped out. Many parents were ruined and in tears.
The circle of our friends is shrinking, our money is shrinking, our
electricity is shrinking, our capability to source petrol, a vital resource
is shrinking, and the people's waistlines are shrinking. Only the sisters'
faith was as steady as a rock.
AT about this time last year, Anna Tibaijuka, a United Nations Special Envoy
who was assigned by UN boss, Kofi Annan, to assess the impact of the
government's controversial clean-up exercise, Oper-ation Murambatsvina,
became a household name in Zimbabwe when her visit was the dominant story in
the media for months.
There was intense interest in the Tanzanian-born technocrat's visit because
both the implementers and victims of the demolition spree that left almost a
million people without shelter and another two million without means to earn
a livelihood, pinned their hopes on her to vindicate their positions.
Tibaijuka's subsequent scathing report declaring that Murambatsvina was
"indiscriminate and unjustified, conducted with indifference to human
suffering, illegal under domestic and international law and had caused a
humanitarian crisis of unprecedented proportions" gave its victims hope that
their plight would be addressed and alleviated. Little did they know the
state would thwart all attempts by well-wishers to ease their suffering.
Tibaijuka's determination to "tell it as it was" enraged the establishment.
The government, which had initially swooned over and feted the executive
director of UN-Habitat in the hope that it would successfully hoodwink her
to believe the tale that Murambatsvina was undertaken so that a massive
reconstruction exercise would be implemented, now turned against her.
She was denounced in the official press as an agent or puppet of the British
and their allies who were accused of orchestrating an international outcry
over the demolition orgy because they wanted Zimbabweans to remain in
"squalor and shanties". This was after the authorities, as a damage
limitation move, had hastily embarked upon Operation Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle -
which civic groups and commentators described as a big hoax at the time - to
build houses for more than a million victims of the crackdown within a
Tibaijuka's damning report caused such tumult in official circles that she
and another UN envoy, Jan Egeland, who reached the same conclusions on the
humanitarian crisis after a visit to Zimbabwe, were denounced at the ZANU PF
National People's Conference held in Esigodini in December last year. A
resolution was passed, stating the conference "Is convinced that the
Tibaijuka report was a direct product of some anti-government
non-governmental organisations operating in Zimbabwe, but the UN envoy
ignored the government's protestations on the report and maintained the UN
accepts the Tibaijuka report."
But after a year of rhetoric and spinning, even the most devoted government
propagandist would have to admit that Tibaijuka and all those who were
branded detractors of the Zimbabwean government were right about
Murambatsvina and Garikai/Hlalani Kuhle. After all the hullabaloo, there is
very little on the ground to justify the stealth, suddenness and
vindictiveness with which the programme was embarked upon. The government
has not met the reconstruction deadlines and targets it announced initially
and the victims of Operation Murambatsvina are likely to become just another
statistic rather than beneficiaries.
At his controversial meeting with some heads of churches last month,
President Robert Mugabe admitted that the way the demolition of dwellings
and other structures deemed illegal under Operation Murambatsvina was
carried out was wrong. What he did not say is that after the insensitive and
vindictive operation, it is inexcusable for his government to try to spin
its way out of its responsibility to ease the plight of the victims of its
actions. The attempt to wiggle out of a mess of the government's own making
began when the Esigodini ZANU PF People's Conference was reported to have
"underscored the fact that the UN seems to overlook the fact that there are
various safety nets in Zimbabwe and that most of those affected by the
clean-up exercise have rural homes and farms they can return to . . . "
The authorities must be reminded that when they destroyed abodes and market
stalls, their explanation was that the government wanted to build better
houses and facilities for its people. Now that it has failed to do so, it
should not resort to deception and subterfuge but allow those who can assist
to come in. There is no point in pretending that Operation Garikai/Hlalani
Kuhle has benefited the millions who were rendered homeless and destitute by
the clean-up exercise when it has been a spectacular failure.
From the word go, the scheme was mired in corruption, duplicity and was
hamstrung by a lack of commitment and seriousness on the part of government,
giving credence to observers' characterisation of Murambatsvina as a
retributive strike against urban voters for spurning the ruling party. As if
this was not bad enough, greedy officials in President Mugabe's government
have sought to benefit from the misery and suffering of fellow citizens by
hijacking the scheme to make a quick buck or to allocate houses and stands
to their relatives and friends. When is President Mugabe, who has been
breathing fire over official avarice and greed of late, going to discipline
his errant lieutenants?
There have been so many irregularities and shady dealings with regard to
this exercise that instead of being called Operation Garikai/ Hlalani Kuhle,
it would be more appropriate to rename it "Operation Deceive the People for
Personal Gain". It was reported only on Monday that government was
intensifying investigations into allegations of graft and impropriety after
receiving reports of nationwide abuse of the housing scheme by greedy
government and ruling party officials. Funds that should be channelled
towards reconstruction now have to be diverted to pay the salaries and
allowances of Anti-Corruption commissioners deployed to various parts of the
country. In a way, over-burdened taxpayers are being forced to fund
The housing scheme joins farming as another haphazardly implemented
programme characterised more by abuse of the facility by those in high
places than by pursuit and achievement of its declared goals. In a bid to
deflect international and domestic condemnation of the callousness of
Murambatsvina, the government has claimed ad nauseam that both the clean-up
exercise and the subsequent reconstruction phase were well thought out and
planned in advance. As things stand today however, no amount of rhetoric and
downright fabrication can mask the government's spectacular failure to
deliver on its pledges.
The snags and setbacks that have beset the exercise such as rampant
corruption and non-allocation of adequate funding and building materials
confirm charges that there were never any noble intentions when the army and
police were deployed to demolish abodes in urban areas in the middle of
winter last year. Tibaijuka, who wept when she first came face to face with
the handiwork of the people's government in July last year, has been
vindicated. So have the human rights groups, analysts and sceptics who saw
through the smokescreen the government tried so hard to put up.
THE GEOFF NYAROTA COLUMN
THE media fraternity of Zimbabwe is afflicted with what the Germans call
schadenfreude; to derive dubious pleasure in the misfortune of others.
A soul-burning jealousy flows through the arteries of Zimbabwe's beleaguered
media when any of its players seem to be surging ahead professionally. For
more than three months, going back to the launch of my now regular column in
The Financial Gazette, I have suffered in silence from constant persecution
by fellow journalists.
While delinquent politicians are the regular targets of my acerbic pen, the
most vitriolic reaction to my articles has come from esteemed colleagues in
the media fraternity. I am fully aware that the potential threat to life and
limb is an occupational hazard of journalism and I would not raise this
issue publicly, unless I was convinced it had become a matter of public
In articles appearing in the Zimbabwean press and on the internet I have
been ruthlessly attacked, persecuted, humiliated, defamed and falsely
accused of a thousand and one misdemeanours. The most heinous offence I am
alleged to have committed is that, as editor of The Chronicle in Bulawayo, I
mortally sinned against the people of Matabeleland during the Gukurahundi
atrocities of the 1980s. Accusations and threats have also reached me via my
email address. I have been accused of urging Five Brigade to slaughter
innocent Ndebele peasants. I have been accused of transforming The Chronicle
into a Shona stronghold where Ndebele people were effectively excluded. For
good measure, I am also accused of stealing the story of an enterprising
reporter and winning international acclaim and glory through the celebrated
A cyber-based kangaroo court has been convened. It has prosecuted and found
me guilty. I have not been offered any opportunity to defend myself. Now
they bay for my blood in articles disseminated on the Internet.
"Geoffrey Nyarota is hereby kindly asked by all progressive Zimbabweans to
please apologise for his sins in Matebeleland and the Midlands during his
editorship of the Chronicle," a thread posted on New Zimbabwe.com demanded
unequivocally last week.
"The fact of the matter is this that Nyarota is a tried and tested
tribalist. He is a tribalist in fact and in appearance. He is not only a
noted tribalist, but is seen to be so by progressive Zimbabweans."
No shred of evidence is offered to corroborate these scurrilous allegations.
Presumably all the allegedly progressive Zimbabweans already know.
This vicious campaign was initiated on New Zimbabwe.com, a largely
Ndebele-based news and information website. The editor, Mduduzi Mathuthu,
was a rookie reporter on The Daily News in 2002 when the recently appointed
Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe (ANZ) executive chairman, Sam Sipepa
Nkomo, dispatched him to the United Kingdom to further his studies in
journalism. This arrangement was made without the knowledge or sanction of
myself as the editor-in-chief, Davison Maruziva, the deputy editor or
William Bango, the then training editor of the Daily News. On any
professionally run newspaper, such as The Daily News was, the training of
journalists is normally the primary responsibility of the editorial
It is pertinent to point out that Nkomo and Mathuthu both belong to the
Ndebele ethnic group. Nkomo was recently elbowed out of ANZ after he stood
for election to Parliament and to the Senate. He failed on each occasion. He
is currently on trial for multiple counts of fraud allegedly committed when
he was the Chief Executive Officer of the Mining Industry Pension Fund. The
alleged fraud was exposed by my editorial team in The Daily News in 1999,
three years before Nkomo miraculously became Executive Chairman of ANZ in
2002. He never challenged the Daily News story.
Subsequently, it was my own turn to be unceremoniously dispatched from The
Daily News by the same Nkomo, but into what, presumably, was expected to be
professional oblivion. In 2004 I circulated a document in which I stated
that the then MDC secretary general, Professor Welshman Ncube, and the then
information and publicity secretary, Paul Themba Nyathi, were plotting to
overthrow the party's president, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Official reaction appeared in the columns of New Zimbabwe.com. For the first
time I heard myself being accused of collaboration with Gukurahundi.Mathuthu
then invited me to defend myself. In the absence of any specific charges I
declined his kind invitation and requested him to come up with specific
instances of my alleged complicity.
Three years later, not a single shred of evidence has been published to
sustain the allegation that The Chronicle urged Fife Brigade and celebrated
when innocent Ndebele peasants were massacred during that horrendous
campaign. The onslaught against me intensified early this year after The
Financial Gazette introduced a regular column under my name. Articles which
were not exactly complimentary were published on New Zimbabwe.com and in The
Zimbabwe Independent. The ferocious intervention of one mysterious
Johannesburg-based correspondent, Herbert Mtungwa, was the most notable.
The campaign intensified after I exposed in the column details of the
campaign to establish the breakaway Republic of Mthwakazi in Matabeleland,
and when I exposed the duplicity of Professor Ncube in shedding crocodile
tears in public over the Gukurahundi campaign after he had cast Five Brigade
in a somewhat positive light in a book published in 1988. I had stirred the
veritable hornet's nest. I was vilified on New Zimbabwe.com, while hate mail
was posted to me through my email address. A substantial reward was offered
on a New Zimbabwe.com forum for "Nyarota dead or alive".
The question that has baffled many is why an aggrieved Ndebele person, who
lost loved ones during the Gukurahundi atrocities, would suddenly vent his
or her spleen on the erstwhile editor of The Chronicle, while virtually
exonerating the known perpetrators of Gukurahundi. These are Five Brigade
commander, Air Marshall Perrence Shiri, President Robert Mugabe, the then
Prime Minister, to whom Shiri reported directly, Ndebele politician, Enos
Nkala, who openly incited Gukurahundi against the Ndebele people, and
Emmerson Mnangagwa, the then minister of State Security. In this new
campaign for justice these names are, surprisingly, never mentioned.
Last week, after he published a scathing article in The Mthwakazian a new
internet-based newspaper, I pleaded with the writer to produce evidence that
I incited Five Brigade to commit atrocities against the Ndebele. He
immediately responded. He submitted an article apparently earlier published
on New Zimbabwe.com under the name Brilliant Mhlanga. I will quote verbatim
from the article:
"The people of Matabeleland are aware of his active role, in complicity, by
clearly stating in his editorial comments in The Chronicle during the
Gukurahundi era that, '. . Hit them hard', referring to the innocent
civilians who were being butchered by the Fifth Brigade (Gukurahundi), at
the behest of Zanu-PF, the
party Geoff Nyarota belonged to at the time. "It is worth noting that
Nyarota's response then was a show of solidarity following Robert Mugabe's
speech just before and at the commissioning of the Fifth Brigade (in
1982/3), when he said, '.the time has come to show the people of
Matabeleland that we have teeth, surely we will bite.'"
This is the first time any so-called evidence has been offered in support of
my alleged complicity with Gukurahundi. For the record Five Brigade was
commissioned in September 1982.
The headline "Hit them hard" actually appeared, according to information
posted on another Mthwakazi.com website, not in The Chronicle, but in The
Herald in 1985. In any case, in the absence of the actual text of the
editorial, it is not possible to determine whether the writer was referring
to the Ndebele people or to the dissidents who were roaming the countryside
and causing havoc in rural Matabeleland at the time. More importantly, I was
not the editor of The Herald.
When Mugabe spoke at the commissioning, I was nowhere near the editorial
offices of The Chronicle. I was then the editor of The Manica Post in
Mutare. It is, therefore, patently false that I ever expressed any such
solidarity with him.
In my Financial Gazette column I have targeted politicians from different
parts of Zimbabwe for criticism whenever I genuinely believed that their
conduct left a lot to be desired. I have challenged President Mugabe,
Didymus Mutasa, Ignatius Chombo, Joseph Made, Jonathan Moyo, Emmerson
Mnangagwa, Welshman Ncube, Arthur Mutambara, Morgan Tsvangirai and Phillip
Chiyangwa, to mention some.
Strangely, when I criticize politicians from Mashonaland, Zezuru journalists
do not rush to their defence. Likewise, when I target the politicians of
Manicaland, Manyika journalists do not cry foul. When I zero in on the
politicians from Masvingo, Karanga journalists never rally to their support.
But whenever I challenge Ndebele politicians and those aligned to them, such
as Arthur Mutambara and David Coltart, all hell literally breaks loose, as
the journalists of Matabeleland rush to vilify and castigate me, while
accusing me of being a tribalist and a supporter of Gukurahundi.
An impression is created that certain sections of Zimbabwe's polarized
media, now seek to achieve what our authoritarian President has failed to
accomplish - to censor me. In so doing they seek to elevate the politicians
from the western regions of Zimbabwe to the status of sacred cows, never
mind how asinine their utterances or initiative may be.
I have on a previous occasion effectively squashed the contemptible
allegation that I stole the Willowgate story from a reporter. When I proved
beyond any shadow of doubt that this was a patently false and completely
unfounded accusation, my persecutors merely dropped it and created new
falsehoods. When they discovered I was working on the manuscript for my
recently published book, Against the Grain, they went into a frenzy. It must
be one of the few books in the history of publishing ever to be reviewed and
attacked while still only a manuscript.
Far from turning The Chronicle into a Shona stronghold, where Ndebeles were
effectively excluded, the facts point to the contrary. During my time the
assistant editor of the paper was David Ncube, a naturalised Ndebele of
Manyika origin. He was the most senior black journalist on the paper when I
arrived. Jonathan Maphenduka was the business editor. He is a full-blooded
and proud Ndebele, one of Zimbabwe's most respected journalists. Nick Landa
and Jameson Ndlovu were branch manager and accountant, respectively and both
were Ndebele. Other journalists of Ndebele origin on the editorial staff
were Lincoln Nkala, Lazarus Sibanda, Welcome Mpofu, Gibbs Dube, Soul Gwakuba
Ndlovu, formely a ZAPU spokesman in Lusaka, Lewis Sibanda, Luke Mhlaba, who
later worked for the United Nations, Costa Manzini, Godfrey Moyo and,
briefly, Dr Tota Mpofu,
My excellent personal assistant was Patience Mzeya Ncube. I persuaded
Mhlaba, a lawyer, to join The Chronicle. He thus became the first trained
lawyer to work as a journalist in Zimbabwe.
I remained the editor of The Chronicle for more than a year after the
signing of the Unity Agreement in 1987. Strangely, during that period there
was never any protest that I had supported Gukurahundi and The Chronicle
continued to grow in circulation. During my tenure as editor the paper grew
from 43 000 to 89 000 copies printed and sold a day. By the time of the
Willowgate Scandal we were selling 115 000 copies. I understand that today
The Chronicle struggles to sell about 20 000 copies a day.
When, as editor-in-chief of ANZ I introduced The Dispatch, a weekly
newspaper for Matabeleland in 1998 the paper was widely accepted and became
very popular. Nobody accused me of having supported Gukurahundi. When I
introduced The Daily News to Matabeleland in 1999 I was not accused of
having expressed solidarity with Mugabe during Gukurahundi. The paper was
very popular, especially in Bulawayo. The editor of New Zimbabwe.com,
Mathuthu was a reporter in the Bulawayo office of The Daily News. Until his
departure for the United Kingdom he never raised any issues about
Mathuthu invited me early in 2006 to contribute to New Zimbabwe.com. He
expressed no concern about my alleged Gukurahundi links. I turned down his
magnanimous invitation, opting instead to write for The Financial Gazette. I
have not had a moment of peace since then.
Saying of the Week
"I didn't realise that women are also capable managers and I am so
pleased." - Minister of State for National Security, Lands, Land Reform and
Resettlement, Didymus Noel Mutasa, while congratulating Jocelyn Chiwenga
(formerly Jacobsen, nee Mauchaza), the wife of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces
Commander, General Constantine Chiwenga, after she received the Golden
European Award for Quality in Paris. (The Herald, July 17, 2006)
AS we await Finance Minister Herbert Murerwa's presentation of his Mid-Term
Fiscal Policy Review Statement today and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor
Gideon Gono's latest monetary policy review on Monday, it is important once
again to restate the issues really at stake in our present situation.
The two gentlemen are facing an economic climate which has incredibly
deteriorated since their last reviews seven months ago. All their optimistic
forecast and targets at that time on any front whether inflation, economic
growth, foreign currency inflows or reduction of deficits have been
completely off the mark.
For, example the rate of inflation had been expected to decline to around 80
percent by the end of this year.
1 185 percent officially but much higher unofficially, one shudders to think
what this rampaging monster will be at in the months ahead. We all know how
prices of basic commodities, goods and services are being changed upwards on
a daily basis in shops, supermarkets and elsewhere.
In his 2006 budget statement, the Minister of Finance had naively forecast
that the economy would grow by between two percent and 3,5 percent this
current year. But far from growing, the economy is crumbling and crumbling
all the time. Economics is a study of human action, not of numbers and
rhetoric. Zimbabweans can see how things are spiraling out of control and
are daily being weighed down by the problems.
The anticipated improvements in the foreign currency generation has not
materialized. Foreign direct investment is dead in the water. Tourism has,
to all intents and purposes, collapsed. Despite promises to firmly deal with
corruption regardless of "social status or political affiliation" the
scourge continues to rear its ugly head among both the lowly and highly-
placed in the Zimbabwean society. Indiscipline on farms and disruption of
farming activities continues unabated despite calls to put a stop to them.
In general, agricultural production has plummeted to unimaginable levels.
All this and coupled with more than 70 percent unemployment, Zimbabweans
leaving the country in droves, fuel woes and power cuts for hours on end a
day and the country's deteriorating health delivery system, is there any
reason to be optimistic this time round about these fiscal and monetary
policy reviews? For those of us who have followed the reviews on a
continuing basis, I think this is the question that naturally comes to mind.
Of course, it is important to see all these problems as Governor Gideon Gono
does, not as tragedies but as challenges to be confronted head-on. But in
confronting these challenges, it is equally important to diagnose their root
causes. A superficial analysis of the challenges can only lead us to a blind
alley in the search for solutions. The correct diagnosis will give us the
What is the context? The seed of the crisis, whether we like it or not is
firmly located not in
monetarism or the economy but in the politics of the country. Period! People
have been saying this for a long time now; unfortunately it has been falling
on deaf ears. Everybody, including the energetic central bank Governor knows
what it takes to turn the tide against this crisis.
Even President Mugabe and those who surround him know in the heart of their
hearts what needs to be done. They are aware of this very simple and obvious
fact that the profound crisis that this country is undergoing at the moment
can not be resolved - not really resolved - by fiscal adjustments and tight
monetary polices alone. Without broader political dialogue in the country
and a total buy-in of the result and political settlement by all Zimbabweans
and the international community, no full economic recovery will be possible.
In my humble opinion, based on my reading of the situation and conversations
with concerned and perceptive Zimbabweans l believe that this is the clear
message that Gono in his quiet and unassuming way has been sending a warning
to the powers-that-be. The Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor is on record as
having impressed upon the authorities the need to respect the sanctity of
private property, re-engage the international community and halt the
seemingly unending farming invasions in order to restore confidence in the
But there have been no takers for such friendly advice because of selfish
interests and the fear of losing all the privileges and sweetness that go
with political power. For it is a well known fact that men and women engage
in politics in order to have life without scarcity. Hence the continued
grabbling with people's lives in their relentless quest for self-enrichment
Talking about the economic crisis in the context of the so called bilateral
dispute between Zimbabwe and Britain is to divert the public's attention
from the real issue. This is a self-inflicted problem on the part of the
ruling ZANU PF. It is not as a result of illegal economic sanctions imposed
by the West. Thankfully, the majority of Zimbabweans have not bought into
this fundamental fallacy. We have had just about enough of this kind of
reasoning which is fundamentally flawed.
Combating inflation, yes, but let us do it in the context of workable
solutions that take in to account a holistic understanding of the
fundamental interconnectedness of all the things in our economic crisis.
Politics is at the heart of our predicament and that is what we have to deal
with first. There should be no pretence about this. If we cannot get to
grips with the issues so urgently needing to be addressed, Zimbabwe will
remain lost in the long grass.
The truth of the matter is that negative publicity and targeted sanctions
(not wholesale sanctions) is not the main cause of economic meltdown.
Rather, these are symptoms of what basically has gone wrong with the way we
govern ourselves. This goes beyond party politics. It affects us all.
Will we therefore acknowledge our connections to one another or not? Will we
accept responsibility for the consequences of the choices we make or not?
Can we find ways to work together as Zimbabweans or will we insist on
selfishly exploring the limits of human pride and arrogance? How can we come
to see in the faces of others our own hopes and dreams for the future? Why
is it so hard to recognise that we are all part of something larger than
These questions have now assumed a new urgency precisely because Zimbabweans
have lost confidence in fiscal and monetary polices - polices which have
failed not only to achieve their targets of economic turnaround and the
bring down of inflation but have totally failed to make headway in anything
that one cares to think of. A massive disappointment all round!
Is it not a shame that President Mugabe and the ruling ZANU PF day in and
day out are engaging in a willful refusal to take responsibility of the
consequences of the choices they make. Both the interview he held a
fortnight ago with State Public Relations Officers masquerading as
journalists and some of the things he said two days ago when he was
officially opening the Second Session of the Sixth Parliament of Zimbabwe
testify to this.
Words such as 'We will soldier on' in the face of such enormous suffering
are not helpful at all. Neither is the meaningless mantra 'Zimbabwe will
never be a colony again'. I do not know whether to laugh or cry whenever I
hear or see such things. Worse still, the relentless applause from the
gromless and sycophantic battalion of MPs and Senators - really mind
boggling! The message that l want to leave with these praise singers is that
you will not lose your seats if you decide to remain a normal human being.
President Mugabe does not have powers to sack MPs or Senators. In
conclusion, I want to underscore the fact that no amount of aligning fiscal
and monetary policy reviews to the much - talked about National Economic
Development Priority Programme (NEDPP) in the absence of an all inclusive
political solution will do the trick on the on-going efforts to fully revive
our economy. There is no magic pill or quick fix for this. The Zimbabwean
economy is not under siege from anywhere other than from the political
leadership of this country.
Comparisons with some countries which have experienced the same kind of
problems are a non-starter. Political environments and root causes of these
cresses are different in different countries anyway. The point that must be
driven home to all and sundry is that it is not a question of instilling
discipline in our economy. Neither is it a question of merely stabilizing
the exchange rate or tightening the monetary policies. To see our problems
and challenges in that narrow perspective is to continue to place the
monetary authorities between a rock and a hard place or to impale them on
the horns of a dilemma. There is always a division of labour in these
matters and what Gideon Gono needs is an enabling political environment in
which to situate the monetary policy.
For what is important in the final analysis is for President Mugabe and ZANU
PF to make a quantum shift in their thinking and actions and to seek a
holistic solution to our crisis. Only then can we hope to bring about the
positive results we urgently need to save this, our once beautiful country.
THE increasingly isolated Zimbabwean government never ceases to amaze. It
continues to do the very things for which it has come in for a lot of flak
from the press, the democratic forces and the international community at
large. Suffice to say that this harms its cause at a time it is seeking
reintegration into the broader community of nations.
Among these are the restrictions, limitations, bullying and intimidation of
the private media, particularly through the provisions of the objectionable
Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act (AIPPA). This, the
government whose friends are few and far in between, does for no other
plausible reason other than the desire to suppress dissent and stop the free
flow of information. Yet there is no denying that a free media is a
cornerstone of any democratic dispensation.
As we have said before, far from glorifying journalists, especially those in
the private media - for we know only too well that they are the messengers
and not the message - we have to state that harassing the media
practitioners touches on the very core of democracy. It is not possible to
establish a vigorous democracy without two of its cornerstones - access to
information and the right to free expression. Without these two, it can be
anything else but democracy.
This is why, as observed by Thomas Blanton, author of White House E-Mail:
The Top Secret Computer Message the Reagan-Bush White House Tried to
Destroy, the concept of freedom of information is changing from the purely
moral stance as an indictment of secrecy to one with a more wide-ranging
value-neutral meaning, chief of which is bringing about a more efficient
administration of government.
This also explains why the world frowns upon those authoritarian regimes
that pursue media censorship with reckless abandon, holding on to the
chain-laws that reinforce it. AIPPA, which the government has selectively
used to target journalists it considers to be politically dangerous, is a
case in point. That is why the closure of the Daily News, The Daily News On
Sunday and The Tribune as well as the persecution of journalists under AIPPA
has provoked severe criticism.
Yet the government was at it again last week when it arrested two
journalists who were covering a demonstration against the extension of the
term of office of the incompetent government-appointed commission running
the City of Harare whose ineptitude has become legend in the corridors of
power. If this is not tantamount to shooting itself in the foot, then we do
not know what is, especially coming as it does at a time when government's
relentless efforts to muzzle the media are widely seen as an assault on
democracy - which is what it is.
The question is, if the punitive media laws have been one of the major
points of bitter attacks against Zimbabwe by the international community,
why then does government which claims to be seeking a deeper rapprochement
with the same international community continue on this destructive path
where it treats journalists going about their legitimate business of
exposing government failures, corruption, greed, crime and dishonesty in
high places, as "dangerous criminals against the state?" And then the
government officials wake up the following morning and cry wolf over what
they claim to be bad publicity. Please!
This madness heightened during the tenure of the litigious Jonathan Moyo as
the country's chief censor and propagandist. This was the darkest of
Zimbabwe's historical periods during which crusading journalists exposing
corruption and other forms of wrongdoing in the political sphere were
stigmatised as willing tools in the government's imaginary Tony Blair/George
Bush regime change grand plan. Just what calling a spade a spade has to do
with regime change befuddles us.
Thus this arbitrary attack on the private media and the laws that it gave
rise to such as AIPPA had, contrary to what the government said, nothing to
do with hatred for falsehoods. It had everything to with hatred for freedom
of the press, free speech and free spirit of the people.
It was hoped against hope, that with the inglorious exit of Jonathan Moyo
from the government, the situation as regards the media operating
environment would improve. But nope! Nothing of that sort happened. If
anything, the government seems hell bent on tightening the noose on the
media - not only underlying Jonathan Moyo's baleful influence in government
but also the ZANU PF government's long-standing obsession with curtailing
people's right to express their feelings, fears and dreams at a time when
the country's misery index tells a very sad story. What an own goal!
Remove deadweight of zeros from our currency
Livison Kahondo, Australia
EDITOR - Local currency to lose three digits was a headline story in a
newspaper last week. I am amazed that the authorities and the Press have
only awaked to this proposal now when last year I put forward the same
proposal and invited comments from finance gurus and the regulators, but
none came forward or I was dismissed as they may have noticed I am not an
I highlighted the same arguments that these numerous zeros are a deadweight
which gives unneccessary headaches and accounting challenges to firms and
individuals when we could easily do away with them as the Zim dollar is only
used in Zimbabwe and nowhere else.
I engaged other diasporans in this argument but all they could spout were
bookish economic theories which did not bear any resemblance to reality on
the ground. Surely if we are to account for the fraud and mistakes made when
one deals with these chains of zeros, its a serious matter and a big loss to
businesses and individuals. I recall the CABS managing director commenting
on the same issue last year after the case of one Ndlovu who is alleged to
have defrauded CABS. There are many cases which have gone unreported because
of these zeros. And it won't surprise me if one day, when these zeros are
removed, some companies will realise the were making losses instead of
profits as the chain of zeros conceals a lot of fraud and mistakes.
I hope the relevant authorites shall take urgent steps to resolve this
problem. I am not advocating for a revaluation of our dollar but simply
stating that this currency is meant for our internal trading and exchanges
so there is no splitting of hairs whether I am given a chain of zeros when
the value is the same. What I mean is that if the zeroes are slashed, the
number of notes to be used which are expensive to print, is greatly reduced,
risks of mistakes are reduced, so will some common thefts/robbery as people
will not have to carry wads of cash which are open targets for thieves. In
addition to what captains of industries have mentioned, challenges of
accounting software and all that is involved. This is an extraordinary
situation which calls for extraordinary measures.
Good article on fraud but . . .
Nhamo Nyakambangwe, Harare
EDITOR - I have just read Ernst & Young's article headlined Fraud: Six myths
that hold companies back (final part) and I should say it was a very good
article from a fraud persective.
However I think it can be a bit misleading when you consider what IT audit
is. There is a general misconception that having ACL gives you comfort or is
some form of IT audit. ACL is a tool used in the process of IT audit as most
people who have the skills in ACL are usually programmers who have minimum
appreciation of business objectives and the control environment. IT audit
however is the process of identifying IT-related business risks and devising
controls to mitigate those risks while building shareholder value. It is sad
that most of the experienced IT auditors have left or are leaving the
country but it is still pertinent that all the companies who have
computerised operations invest in the education of their IT auditors.
Nyarota sulking like a spoilt child
George, United Kingdom
EDITOR - Geoff Nyarota's article "Encounter with Mutambara in the Rockies"
refers. Nyarota is aware that his is a man of considerable national
influence with the ability to influence national opinion.
It therefore surprises me that he does not careful weigh his public
statements before making them. I was very disappointed to read the piece in
question and get to the end without finding any point to it other than to
let the reader know that he recently travelled to the US and to make a
personal attack on Arthur Mutambara.
The article also smacks of wounded pride after Mutambara failed to praise
Nyarota's book. The tone of the letter was such that it could have passed
for Nathaniel Manheru's column. I fail to grasp why a national leader of
Nyarota's stature would dedicate an entire article to letting the nation
know that Mutambara failed to greet him. It is, after all, common cause that
no love is lost between the two and I do not believe that anyone would be
surprised that one failed to greet the other. It is shameful that our
so-called luminaries are descending to the same levels of pettiness as the
oppressive and intolerant leaders in government today.
Police brutality disgusting
Madock Chivasa, NCA spokesperson
EDITOR - The behaviour that was portrayed by police at Harare Central police
station when they arrested National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) members
should be condemned in the strongest terms. NCA members were arrested on
Wednesday last week and were illegally detained by the police who released
them to go to court on Sartuday.
During this illegal detention the police brutalised and tortured them. A
senior police officer in the PISI department gave instructions to the junior
police officers to beat the NCA members and he was also personally involved
by beating the arrested.
It's unfortunate for senior police officers to behave like they are in a
military state. As a civic body we also question a system that ends produces
such kind of people in the police force. What justification is there for
police to put in custody mothers with babies who are less than 12 months
old? The government has failed to feed people in police custody and yet they
continue to use flawed laws to mismanage the economy. At Harare Central
police station, an NCA member, Evidence Johns, collapsed due to deplorable
conditions in the cells. NCA lawyers were denied access to her to take her
to a private doctor after the police decided to take her to Parirenyatwa
where she could not get treatment because doctors were on strike.
In Mutare police behaved as if human rights do not exist and subjected NCA
members to inhumane and brutal treatment. One of the NCA members in Mutare
is battling for his life after he was assaulted by the police. They accused
them of compromising the gains of independence and selling out Zimbabwe to
the West. Who is selling to the West - the NCA members who are rejecting the
use of a constitution that was crafted in the West and the police who beat
these people for rejecting the continuous use of a flawed document?
The police are some the most poorly paid civil servants and it's pathetic
that they defend and protect a collapsed system of governance. Police should
not vent their frustrations on ordinary Zimbabweans.
It's shocking that the police were still battling to find a charge for NCA
members two days after they had arrested them. The police are now charging
them under the new Criminal Law Codification and Reform Act. The specific
section which they are being charged with prevents people from blocking
roads or pavements. This kind of laws are only constitutional but they are
very undemocratic and .As NCA we condemn the use of police brutality and we
will take suitable legal action to deal with the police officers who were
involved in this barbaric act.
Adopt the rand
RTD, South Africa
EDITOR - We need to do away with our worthless currency if we are serious
about getting a grip on inflation. The most obvious currency to temporarily
adopt is the rand and its use will immediately stabilise government
expenditure, interest rates and inflation. We will not be the first country
to do this.
Mozambique, Argentina, Namibia, Botswana etc have gone down this road and
they have a lot to show for it. We do not eat sovereignty and if we can't
handle it, then we don't deserve it! Time to swallow our pride and get this
country back on track.
Men of the cloth lose plot
Busani Moyo, Bulawayo
EDITOR - Your correspondent Mavis Mukuni wrote about men of the cloth who
have hatched a plan to bear false witness against the suffering people of
Zimbabwe. I found that article quite inspiring.
It is true that these so-called men of the cloth have decided to dump the
long suffering people of Zimbawe in exchange for the privilege of dining at
the country's highest tables. They have chosen to support a government that
has been accused of gross human rights abuses. They smile all the way to
State House yet the people of Zimbawe suffer every day.
They endorse the lie that Zimbawe is under sanctions yet they know clearly
well that the problem in Zimbabwe is a problem of poor governance and a
leadership that has decided that it and it alone shall rule Zimbabwe untill
the cows come home.
One thing l have realised about the church in Zimbabwe is that it belongs to
two broad camps. The first camp consists of chancers like the ones who went
to State House. The likes of Bishop Trevor Manhanga and Rev Peter Nhemapare.
This camp comprises men who preach for the sake of fortune and fame. Men who
have become super-rich and own the fastest cars and the best villas in the
country. These are men who have lost touch with the people as they bask in
the glory of being worshipped themselves.
These men and women's main brief is to become popular.They say things that
will make the ruling elite look at them more favourably and they usually end
up in politics themselves. Statements like: ''We know we have a government
we can support'' come from these leaders. These church leaders will not only
be judged by the court of history but also by God.
I wish to celebrate the brave men of God among us like Archbishop Pius
Ncube. Men who have secrifised their lives for the sake of the greater
majority. Men who walk in the footsteps of great leaders like Desmond Tutu
and even Jesus himself.
The church should begin to play its role. Playing this role is not simple
especially in a country where repression is the order of the day. But in a
situation like this, the men will be seperated from the boys.