Malaysian firm-led group gets RM2.3bil Zimbabwe water
By DAVID TAN in Langkawi THE Zimbabwean Government has awarded
a US$600mil (RM2.3bil) water supply project to a joint-venture company formed
by a Malaysian firm and the Matabeleland Zambeki Water
According to Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk
Dr Jamaludin Mohd Jarjis, the Malaysian partner has an 80% stake in the joint
venture, with the Matabeleland Zambeki Water Authority holding the remaining
"The full details of the deal will be announced at a signing
ceremony on Saturday which will be witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri
Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe," he said ahead
of the opening today of the latest Langkawi International
Jamaludin said the deal underscored Malaysia's success in
making use of the Langkawi International Dialogue series to seize business
"This dialogue has matured into a platform
that enables Malaysia to take part in new and emerging businesses in the
"Malaysian corporate giants which have achieved
success domestically must take up the challenge of becoming global players.
They must make use of the dialogue to form networks with the private business
sector in African nations," he added.
Jamaludin said Malaysia must
also capitalise on the business match-making prospects offered by
"Swaziland's King Mswati III has offered Malaysian
entrepreneurs the opportunity to venture into the agriculture and
technological sectors," he added
Reporter Last updated: 07/29/2004 12:47:01 ZIMBABWE'S opposition Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) could soon be forced to abandon its election
petitions filed in 2000 disputing the outcome of several parliamentary
election results, it has been learnt.
Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa
told the Daily Mirror newspaper on Wednesday that if the cases were still
unresolved at the time of holding the next elections in March 2005, they will
be automatically dropped as Parliament would be dissolved.
cases are yet to be finalised after the MDC alleged violence and electoral
fraud, having managed to win nearly half of the contested 120 seats in the
"The law states that Parliament is dissolved before the
staging of any elections," said Chinamasa. "Effectively, there are no
sitting Parliamentarians when elections are held."
This means that the
opposition would be left without a basis for contesting the 2000 results if
their cases are not finalised.
MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai lost the
petition he had filed against Zanu PF' s Kenneth Manyonda, thereby relegating
the former to a mere watcher of Parliamentary proceedings in the run up to
his loss in the 2002 Presidential election.
Chinamasa said he had no
control over the issue as it was already in the courts, hinting that it would
not be beneficial to rush the cases.He said: "The individual petitions vary
case to case as each one has its own individual
"Sometimes the cases are slowed down for various reasons
with the very people who filed the charges being
Chinamasa added that in the event that the 2005 poll came
around before the petitions had been finalised, the cases would have to be
abandoned as the law was specific on the procedures preceding the holding of
Acting attorney general, Bharat Patel said
that he could not determine the pace at which the cases progressed saying
that they carried out their duties in a non-partisan manner. Additional
reporting Daily Mirror
Johannesburg: President Robert
Mugabe's ruling party has officially shut all doors to talks - formal or
informal - with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
The fate of talks to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis was sealed more than a week
ago when Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa, who headed a Zanu-PF delegation,
met his counterpart in the MDC, Secretary-General
Chinamasa told Ncube that the Zanu-PF Politburo
had discussed the matter and decided that the party no longer wanted any
talks with the MDC because it now commanded the upper hand in Zimbabwean
politics and could defeat the opposition in elections.
told Ncube that all options for resolving the Zim- babwe crisis, which
had been discussed during the much talked-about informal talks, were
therefore no longer options as far as Zanu-PF was concerned.
Chinamasa is said to have also told Ncube that Mugabe's proposed electoral
reforms should simply be embraced by the MDC, since they "coincided" with
what the MDC had been demanding. There was therefore no need for any further
talks. If the MDC did not accept the reforms, Chinamasa said, Zanu-PF would
implement them unilaterally.
Ncube confirmed that he had met
"Dialogue, formal or informal, is dead," said Ncube.
"Zanu-PF has shut all doors to dialogue. Any reports that keep on suggesting
that we are engaged in any kind of talks to resolve the problems here are
Mugabe's proposals include the setting
up of a new "independent" commission to run Zimbabwe's
They also involve reducing polling from two days to one,
the use of transparent ballot boxes and counting of votes at polling
Bureau THE Minister of State for Information and Publicity in the Office of
the President and Cabinet, Professor Jonathan Moyo, yesterday said Zanu-PF
would overwhelmingly win next year's parliamentary elections owing to
the confidence the public has in the ruling party coupled with the
Prof Moyo said the country had managed to
safeguard its sovereignty and was now working at improving the economy after
laying a firm foundation on the political front.
of students during a lecture at Bondolfi Teachers' College, Prof Moyo said
the agenda of the proponents of regime change collapsed with the failure of
last year's "final push" instigated by puppets of the British
"The political mood in the country at the moment is positive
and public confidence has been restored with the indications of the recovery
of the economy, which has seen inflation going down.
nationalistic spirit among the people is high after we managed to secure our
sovereignty and Zanu-PF will be re-elected next year overwhelmingly," said
He told the students that Zimbabwe had won the battle against
the neo-imperial intrigues of the British and American governments, saying
the focus of the Government at the moment was to tackle the economic
challenges facing the country.
Prof Moyo said the Western powers that
were advocating regime change in the country were bent on reversing the gains
of independence and the right of the country as a sovereign nation to have
control over its resources.
He said the talk of regime change was
inspired by the desire to stop the country from cherishing the legacy of the
liberation struggle and its political independence.
"We have succeeded
to defend our regime values and there will be no regime change, never. The
values will not change. The values of the liberation struggle are indelible.
What is special is that we are prepared to die so that the totality of our
culture and norms in the regime remains unchanged," said Prof.
The country, Prof Moyo said, had managed to fight and win a war
against a regime of white supremacists whose ideology was premised on
the brutalisation of the black and indigenous people. The victory brought
with it a new system of values as an independent people.
He said those
in the anti-Zimbabwe bandwagon were seeing themselves through British lenses,
pointing out that Zimbabweans had reclaimed their land four years ago without
He said Zimbabwe was the first country to be targeted for
regime change in Africa because the hopes and aspirations of its people had
unsettled the privileged position of the British kith and kin in the country,
especially with the land reform programme.
"Regime is not the leader
or government, but a regime is a system of values, fundamental values that
define who we are and what we cherish about our history, heritage, social
struggles, hopes and aspirations as a people," said Prof. Moyo.
Moyo said the British and Americans were using the rule of law and human
rights to stop the attainment of the total enjoyment of Zimbabwe's regime
values. He added that the criticism and attempts to ostracise Zimbabwe did
not originate locally, but were inspired by foreign elements opposed to the
values Zimbabwe stood for. Prof Moyo said teachers had an important role in
educating the nation about the true values and aspirations of a
The student teachers appealed to the Government to include them
in the land reform programme by allocating them land, saying they fully
supported the agrarian reforms.
Prof Moyo is today expected to address
students at Masvingo Polytechnic and Masvingo Teachers' College.
Reporter THE Zimbabwe Republic Police's Support Unit has started deploying
its public order reaction teams to all the provinces countrywide in
preparation for next year's parliamentary elections.
At least 70
police officers, after having undertaken a course in public order, will be
dispatched to the country's 10 provinces.
Another 70 are expected to be
trained next month and would be spread countrywide.
Prior to this
initiative, there were only three areas with such reaction teams and these
included Harare, which covered Mashonaland West and Mashonaland Central
provinces; Bulawayo, which covered Matabeleland North and Matabeleland
The other one was stationed at Buchwa and it covered Zvishavane,
Manicaland, Mashonaland East and Masvingo.
Speaking at the graduation
of the 70 at Chikurubi Support Unit Camp yesterday, Assistant Commissioner
Douglas Nyakutsikwa, who is the senior staff officer responsible for
operations, said they wanted to have a reaction team in every province in
preparation for next year's parliamentary elections.
"As obvious, we
would be under spotlight from the Western countries and the (opposition) MDC
has also threatened to use violence and boycott the elections next year," he
"We would like to warn the (would-be) perpetrators that the police
will be out in full force and will bring all the culprits to
Last week, President Mugabe said police should ensure that next
year's parliamentary polls were "conducted in a peaceful and tranquil
environment" since the country would be in the limelight.
He said this
was critical since the country's detractors would, as usual, seek to
deliberately misrepresent the situation and the electoral process in the
The President also warned those who were bent on indulging in
violence and any other illegal activities with a view to tarnishing the
country's image, saying that the full wrath of the law would descend upon
The graduands were trained to deal with big public events,
ceremonies and serious public disorder incidents. At least eight policemen
who underwent judo training in the past 11 months also graduated.
Comm Nyakutsikwa said the essence was to harmonise the relationship between
the police and the public by observing human rights, particularly those
associated with freedom of speech and association and the right to peaceful
"There is, therefore, a need to strike a balance between the
enforcement of law and order and the protection of these rights," he
He said equipping police with judo skills was necessitated by the
fact that a number of officers had been killed by criminals while on
THE beleaguered First Mutual Asset
Management (FMAM) company, saddled with a mountain of delinquent debt owed to
Syfrets Merchant and Corporate Bank (Sybank), has turned the heat on Royal
Bank, on which it has laid a hefty $70 billion claim.
privy to the unfolding drama, the latest chapter in the First Mutual Limited
(FML) tale of woe, indicate that the dispute with Royal Bank, which has
refused to recognise FMAM's "exceedingly exaggerated" claim, could yet
re-open a can of worms.
The case is likely to touch off a legal
minefield because Royal claims that securities worth $14.12 billion, placed
with FML, had mysteriously disappeared. But it is understood that FMAM
insists that Royal should be placed under compulsory liquidation for failure
to pay the disputed debt.
Investigations by The Financial Gazette
revealed that the debt arose from a deal struck in November 2003 during the
run-up to FML's listing on the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange (ZSE).
The exposure of the transaction, which entailed Royal Bank financing Capital
Alliance, a management investment vehicle which ultimately acquired the
biggest shareholding (20 percent) in FML, provides fresh evidence of how the
fateful deal went awry.
"FML management approached Royal Bank for
finance to purchase shares at the listing of first Mutual Limited. It was
agreed that an amount of $6.5 billion would be granted to Capital Alliance,
the management vehicle.
"First Mutual would, in turn, place a
deposit of $6.5 billion with the bank, which amount would be used to cover
the payment for the shares," a source said.
This is in spite of
FML's earlier protestations that Capital Alliance had raised the $29 billion
required to acquire the FML stock in transactions "carried out on an arm's
length basis and no funding or guarantees were provided by First Mutual
Royal Bank still holds the shares, bought on behalf of
Capital Alliance, as security. According to sources, the $6.5 billion
deposited by FML would only be repaid upon repayment by Capital Alliance. To
date, Capital Alliance has made no payment, both of principal and interest,
which was due in May.
Apart from the $6.5 billion, another
transaction involving $7.99 billion was struck, secured by the misplaced
securities amounting to $14.12 billion.
Royal contends that the
lost securities had been bought outright and reflected as liquid assets in
"The bank has paid First Mutual amounts now totalling $4
billion, but no securities have been released to the bank.
amount being claimed is exceedingly exaggerated by the new FMAM management
and does not take into account the lost securities and understanding
regarding the underlying transaction in Capital Alliance. It is made up of 6
months interest totalling $55 billion on capital of $14 billion.
"The bank has not agreed to this amount," the source added.
which is mindful of the effects of the hefty claim on its survival, is also
claiming interest on the lost securities and holding out against further
payments until the outstanding issues are resolved.
The eruption of
FMAM's row with Royal into the public domain will increase pressure on FML,
which has already been suspended twice this year by the Zimbabwe Stock
Sources said FML management was yesterday making
frantic efforts to craft a cautionary statement to shareholders as it emerged
that Sybank, a subsidiary of the ZSE-listed Zimbabwe Financial Holdings
Limited (Finhold) group, was likely to push for the liquidation of FMAM,
whose obligation to the latter is reported to have swelled significantly due
to interest charges.
Unconfirmed reports last night indicated
that the cautionary statement would say FMAM had gone into voluntary
liquidation, citing the funds it is purportedly owed by Royal.
Finhold insiders told The Financial Gazette that the debt arose from normal
money market dealings between the two institutions.
circumstances of the FMAM/Sybank debt, which the two entities' listed parent
companies had previously kept under wraps until the simmering dispute erupted
into the open, suggests that much has not been disclosed by financial
institutions, analysts said this week.
information is glossed over and hidden under off balance sheet items. What
would explain the reluctance by the two public companies to supply their
shareholders and the market with information surrounding the debt, apart from
a premeditated plan not to disclose vital information?" one analyst
He added that FMAM's inability to settle with Sybank was
indicative of underlying problems at the firm, which is yet to be registered
by the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), now overlord over the registration of
all financial institutions.
Outside of the flagship life
business, FMAM, which managed assets in excess of $160 billion as of
December, is the second most important part of FML's business after Trust
Holdings Limited (Trust) in which FML holds a 25 percent stake.
The 60 percent owned FMAM contributed a net deficit of $16 billion to FML in
the year to December 2003 as a result of a $27 billion loss arising from
irrecoverable investments in the collapsed ENG Asset Management.
The loss triggered a bitter dispute between FMAM and Finhold's Zimbabwe
Banking Corporation (Zimbank), with the former accusing Zimbank of refusing
to cash ENG cheques made out to FMAM, resulting in gross prejudice.
FMAM contended that Zimbank dishonoured the ENG cheques despite the fact that
the ENG account had sufficient funds to back the cheques.
from the treasury function, FMAM is involved in pension fund management, unit
trusts and manages FML's property portfolio, which includes the pristine
First Mutual Park in Borrowdale, Harare, Arundel Office Park, Pearl House and
the Collonade in Msasa, among other properties.
director Wellington Zengeza could not be reached for comment yesterday,
although GFML management is expected to hold a press conference this
THE High Court
yesterday ordered Information Minister Jonathan Moyo to pay $2.5 million in
defamation charges against The Associated Newspapers of Zimbabwe
ANZ, publishers of the defunct Daily News and The Daily News
on Sunday, successfully sued Moyo following defamatory statements he
made against The Daily News and its staffers in The Herald on May 17, June
3, June 10, June 14, June 15 and June 18 2003.
The High Court
also ordered Zimbabwe Newspapers (Zimpapers) Private Limited to pay $5
million and columnist Nathaniel Manheru to pay $250 000 as the second and
third respondents respectively. Herald editor Pikirayi Deketeke claimed that
he was Manheru.
The judgment was handed down yesterday in the High
Court on behalf of Justice Yunus Omerjee. Details of the full judgment are
yet to be made public.
The defendants' lawyer, Johannes Tomana,
said his clients would definitely appeal against the judgment.
"Defendants are going to appeal against the decision within the prescribed 14
days," Tomana said.
Simon Sadoma of Gill, Godlonton and Gerrans,
the lawyers representing ANZ had this to say of the judgment: "It's a victory
for press freedom."
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
director Sarah Chiumbu said: "It's a progressive move by the judiciary
because of late the media has been receiving a lot of negative judgments. We
hope that such cases, when they crop up, are handled on merit and not
influenced by politics.
FORMER Minister of
Youth Development, Gender and Employment Creation, Elliot Manyika, faces
claims for $135 million in connection with the death of a Movement for
Democratic Change (MDC) supporter and injuries to another during violence
which marred the Zengeza by-election held about four months ago.
The claims against Manyika, who has since been relegated to the obscure post
of Minister Without Portfolio in the President's Office, come amid a
cacophony of angry voices over the bloodshed and shootings that
have characterised Zimbabwe's elections.
Violence, which has
become a trademark of the country's elections, has been blamed on growing
intolerance for political opponents and confrontation.
claims against Manyika, the ruling ZANU PF legislator for Bindura who was
dumped from his former ministerial portfolio in the last mini Cabinet
reshuffle, are contained in High Court cases 8359/04 and 8360/04 in which the
plaintiffs Arthur Chinozvina and Aurther Gunzvenzve have filed summonses
implicating Manyika in the sudden death of 22-year-old Francis Chinozvina, an
MDC activist and the injuries to Gunzvenzve. Manyika is currently ZANU PF's
In papers prepared by Magwaliba, Mathuthu and
Kwirira Legal Practitioners and filed at in court on June 30 2004, it is
claimed on behalf of Francis Chinozvina that:
"On or about the
28th of March 2004 and at Chitungwiza near the residence of a Movement for
Democratic Change parliamentary candidate, the defendant caused to be
discharged a firearm into the direction of the late Francis Chinozvina and
"The discharging of a firearm in a public place and in the
presence of a considerable number of persons was deliberate or alternatively
grossly negligent. As a result of the defendant's conduct, one bullet from
his firearm hit the person of Francis Chinozvina causing serious and
severe injuries as a result of which he died immediately."
claimed that before his death Chinozvina was a commodity broker earning $1
million monthly and supporting several dependants including five minor
children left behind by his late brother.
The plaintiff claims, on
his own behalf and the minor children, from Manyika $20 million in respect of
funeral expenses, $30 million for his own loss of support and damages and $40
million for loss of support and damages for the minors.
second case, Gunzvenzve claims that as a result of the shooting, he sustained
a huge hole across the shin, severe wounds around the lower part of his knee
and severe damage to the knee cartilage and tendons and wants $45 million
Gunzvenzve's claim is for $20 million for medical
expenses incurred, $15 million for future medical expenses and $10 million
for damage, pain, suffering, shock, disfigurement and loss of amenities of
Manyika's address in both summonses is cited as 55 Shaneragh
Road, Mandara, Harare. Contacted for comment, Manyika said he had sold
that property in 1999 and had not had sight of the summonses.
"They are dreamers," Manyika said. "I sold the house in 55 Shaneragh in 1999.
I don't live there anymore. As far as I am concerned, that story is a
non-starter. The police have already said that I was nowhere near Chitungwiza
on that day."
In earlier press reports published in the
government-controlled media, police spokesperson Wayne Bvudzijena exonerated
Manyika, saying the Member of Parliament for Bindura was in his constituency
at the time of the incident and that his alibi had been confirmed by the
Electoral Supervisory Commission chairman, Sobusa Gula-Ndebele, police
officers at a roadblock in Mazowe, personnel at Mazowe Hotel and employees at
Bvudzijena was quoted as saying: "As much as we would
want members of the public to come forward with information, we will only
tolerate reasonable and substantive information that can be used in a court
The police subsequently arrested a 43-year-old Arcturus
man identified as Ernest Matsotso in connection with the Zengeza skirmishes.
Matsotso has since appeared at the Harare magistrates' court in connection
with the matter.
The bloody Zengeza by-election was won by ZANU
PF's Christopher Chigumba, who trounced MDC's "imposed candidate" James
Makore. Makore has since filed a petition in the High Court challenging the
outcome of the poll results, arguing that the by election was riddled with
violence. The Zengeza seat fell vacant following the abrupt departure of MDC
legislator Tafadzwa Musekiwa to the United Kingdom citing security
THE scandal-ridden Municipality of
Chegutu has produced a damning report alleging that controversial ZANU PF
councillor and deputy mayor Pheneas Mariyapera acquired 50 houses and stands
worth millions in a well-orchestrated scam that could drag in senior
government and ruling party provincial officials in Mashonaland
The report, dated June 29 2004 and sent to Local Government,
Public Works and National Housing Minister Ignatius Chombo on July 5 2004,
was compiled by the acting town clerk, Marufu Chigwenzi Zinyowera,
after residents and council workers had queried the continued decline of
services in the town.
Mariyapera, who is said to have the
backing of ZANU PF Mashonaland West provincial bigwigs, was implicated in an
earlier report by a government task force as the chief culprit behind the
disappearance of funds from the council's drying coffers as well as the abuse
of $150 million in ratepayers' money.
On the acquisition of
council stands and houses, the report said it was common knowledge that most
of the houses had not been paid for in the normal way.
deputy mayor has in his name 23 houses/stands. In addition, there are at
least 27 others registered under his family name - Vhurumundu," the report
said. "There is wanton disregard for municipal by-laws with respect to the
location of buildings. The extent of interference in management and nepotism
is highlighted . . . which shows the list of Mariyapera's relatives employed
by the Municipality of Chegutu . . . All of these buildings belong to the
deputy mayor and his circle of friends who openly boast that Chegutu is their
Zinyowera said there was an additional list of Mariyapera's
friends currently being compiled.
"The final proven figure of
stands and houses owned by the clique is staggering, taking into account the
size of Chegutu.
"Unless the above areas are redressed decisively,
no amount of recapitalisation will bring normalcy to the Municipality of
Chegutu," the report said.
"There is need for the party (ZANU
PF) to launch an immediate and thorough investigation into the above and
other areas of concern," it said.
According to the damning report,
Zinyowera said to bring normalcy back to the Chegutu Town Council, issues
that needed urgent attention included greed in the acquisition of property
and stands by councillors and council employees and strategic recruitment and
placement of workers with criminal intents leading to the abuse of the home
Other burning issues, the report said, included
the wanton destruction and conversion of municipal capital equipment to
personal use by councillors and nepotism in the recruitment and promotion for
council workers and defeating the course of justice by protecting
Efforts to get comment from Chombo's office proved
for Democratic Change (MDC)'s indecision over participating in next year's
crucial parliamentary election has caused a hue and cry among a highly
expectant but now equally confused electorate.
As they struggled to
weigh the political meaning and basic significance of the MDC's announcement
that it will have to test the waters first before deciding whether or not to
participate in the poll, analysts were unanimous that the wait-and-see
attitude adopted by the country's largest opposition party was likely to
The MDC, together with other unidentified political
parties and interest groups, will this week launch the Broad
The alliance's specific brief will be to gauge the mood
of voters in the run-up to the general election, scheduled for
The alliance will also ascertain from the electorate whether
or not the MDC should participate in the poll. It is only after this exercise
that the opposition party will make its decision.
analysts said it was high time the MDC made up its mind, otherwise it risked
the danger of a serious political backlash because the long-suffering masses
whose hopes the opposition party had raised could feel cheated.
The poignant message from the analysts was that the opposition party, which
the government of President Robert Mugabe accuses of being a Western front to
effect regime change in Zimbabwe, had to make its choice now. Either it was
for the election or against it.
Failure to do this, one analyst
said, would send wrong signals that could be interpreted to mean that "deep
down the opposition party leadership knows that it does not have what it
takes to win an election against ZANU PF. This will mean that they have
decided to become career politicians who will bid for their time in some
distant future when there are electoral changes".
who had a failed flirtation with opposition politics in the early 1990s, said
of the MDC's apparent indecision over the election: "They don't have a
political strategy. Given the short time left before the election, the MDC
needs to come clean and say they are either participating or not. This is not
a guerrilla warfare issue. It's either they are participating or not. They
should stop reacting to events and start initiating them."
warned: "Their indecision will replicate itself in the electorate. The
electorate will also be hazy as to whether to vote or not, register to vote
or not. Time is running out. Right now there is voter confusion
that eventually may lead to voter apathy and the ruling party is likely to
thrive and come out the victor in voter apathy situations."
According to Masepe, the MDC, led by former trade union leader
Morgan Tsvangirai, had to make up its mind. The opposition political party,
he said, should either embrace the "cosmetic" electoral changes introduced
by the government, recognise President Mugabe as the legitimate head of
state and "hope that one day they will change things along the way or refuse
to participate completely until the electoral playing field has been
Tsvangirai has since said that unless ZANU PF made
genuine efforts to ensure that the electoral laws, which are heavily in
favour of the ruling party, were addressed in line with international
standards, the opposition party would boycott the polls. The opposition
leader recently said his party would not accept "half a loaf".
This was after the government, which stands accused of stifling democratic
space, rigging elections and systematic bullying and intimidation of voters
has proposed reforms to the Electoral Act.
Critics, however, say
the changes are not comprehensive enough. They argue that unless repressive
laws such as the despised Access to Information and Protection of Privacy Act
and the draconian Public Order and Security Act are repealed, the reforms
proposed by the government will be meaningless.
The director of
Women in Politics Support Unit, Janah Ncube, had this to say about the MDC's
political strategy: "The MDC is creating a perception that they are undecided
yet in actual fact they are readying themselves for the election. This can be
confirmed by the recent confirmation process, which has caused tension within
"I believe that the MDC has embarked on this road
(perceived indecision) as a political strategy to create a certain atmosphere
to its advantage. Although they have not openly declared to their
membership whether or not they will participate in the 2005 election, they
have sent signals that they will take part."
commentator and ZANU PF sympathiser Jonathan Kadzura said the MDC's stance
was a function of a complete loss of confidence on the part of the opposition
in its electorate, hence the need to form an alliance to gauge the mood of
the people before making a concrete decision.
supporters of the MDC were white farmers who had something to protect - land
that they thought was theirs," Kadzura said.
"The youths seem to
have lost confidence in the MDC as well. The Zimbabwe economy, which seems to
have been the main weapon against ZANU PF, has now gone through the wind
twister and is now beginning to show up against the background of a
successful land reform
PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe, wary of
civic groupings the government suspects are working in cahoots with the main
opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) to wrest political power, is
leaving nothing to chance to "bury" the opposition in next year's
President Mugabe, whose recent electoral
changes have been dismissed by critics as the beginning of the road to
nowhere, has already declared next year's parliamentary polls as a fight
against his arch-enemy, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and his perceived
"puppet", the MDC.
To this end, the veteran leader - whose claims
to a popular mandate to rule Zimbabwe are bitterly disputed by the opposition
- is already pushing forward stringent legislation to regulate the operations
of non-governmental organisa-tions (NGOs).
legislation is envisaged to be passed into law when Parliament resumes
sitting in August. The measures are seen by analysts as tactics to push out
NGOs and civic organisations likely to drum up political support for the MDC,
especially in the rural areas, the ruling party's stronghold.
one hand, most of the NGOs in Zimbabwe, just like in most Third World
countries, are funded from the West. On the other, the MDC is accused of
being a Western front being used to effect regime change in the
The government claims that Western countries, led by
Blair, sponsor most of the NGOs indirectly through various shadowy
intelligence organisations linked to their respective
The West, on its part, makes no secret of its
impatience with President Mugabe. It has just come short of demanding that he
resigns as it believes that a new man at the helm could do better than the
It is against this background that President Mugabe
accuses non-governmental organisations of meddling in Zimbabwe's domestic
politics and now wants to outlaw funding of NGOs by foreign sponsors or
donors, among other proposed stringent measures. This is widely seen as an
attempt to thwart groups seen as sympathetic to the Morgan Tsvangirai-led
"Non-governmental organisations must work for the betterment
of our country and not against it. We cannot allow them to be conduits
or instruments of foreign interference in our national affairs,"
President Mugabe said during the official opening of the Fifth Session of the
Fifth Parliament of Zimbabwe.
"My government will, during this
session, introduce a Bill repealing the private Voluntary Organisation Act
and replace it with a law that will create a Non-Governmental Organisation
Council, whose thrust will be to ensure rationalisation of macro-management
of all NGOs," said President Mugabe, much to the delight of ZANU PF
The proposed Bill, a draft of which has been seen by
The Financial Gazette, has sent shivers down the spines of local NGOs, the
international community and the opposition, who view the envisaged
legislation as another assault on democratic forces in Zimbabwe.
Many rights groups say the proposed Bill, if enacted into law in its present
state, would close a majority of NGOs operating in Zimbabwe in the same
"crude and cruel" fashion the Access to Information and Protection of Privacy
Act (AIPPA) shut down three private newspaper within 12 months.
"The proposed NGO Council is an MIC (Media and Information Commission) in the
making," said an NGO representative, speaking on condition that he is not
named. "Just like AIPPA, the proposed Bill reeks," he added.
draft Non-Governmental Organisations Bill, 2004, when it is passed into law
by Parliament in which ZANU PF enjoys a majority, prohibits local NGOs from
receiving outside money, carrying out activities relating to governance - a
general term for human rights issues - and civic education.
Analysts said it would be extremely difficult for local NGOs to operate
without foreign funding and the National Association of Non-Governmental
Organisations (NANGO) has issued "Bill alerts" advising its membership on the
draconian nature of the proposed law.
The draft of the Bill, which
is now circulating among NGOs in Zimbabwe, states that foreign
non-governmental organisations involved in human rights and civic education
will not be registered.
The proposed Act will also provide for the
creation of a Non-Governmental Organisations Council as well as the creation
of a new position of a registrar of NGOs.
The draft states that
all NGOs must be registered with the state council and no foreign
organisation could operate "if its sole principle or objective involves or
includes issues of governance".
It reads in part: "No local
non-governmental organisation shall receive any foreign funding or donation
to carry out activities involving or including issues of
The proposed NGOs Council's main function will be "to
consider and determine every application for registration and every proposed
cancellation or amendment of a certificate of registration."
council, to be made up of five appointed NGO representatives and eight
appointees from different government departments as well as from
the President's Office, will also formulate a code of conduct for
Registered NGOs will be required to submit to the registrar a
copy of audited accounts for a year. Inspectors, appointed by the Ministry of
Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare, will have the right to examine the
books of any NGO.
The minister, wielding the power to
de-register or dissolve any NGOs, will also rule on appeals brought by
Brussels-based Amnesty International, a human
rights watchdog, has categorically slated the latest manoeuvres by President
Mugabe to interfere in the operations of NGOs. It said the proposed
legislation had been crafted specifically to silence President Mugabe's
critics among civic groupings.
"As with other legislation in the
past two years, the government will use this new Bill to silence critical
voices and further restrict the right to freedom of expression. It is a clear
attempt by the government to suppress dissenting views as parliamentary
elections scheduled for March 2005 draw closer."
International called on President Mugabe to immediately repeal or amend all
legislation which violated the right to freedom of expression, association
The organisation said President Mugabe should bring
national legislation in line with the International Covenant on Civil and
Political Rights, the African Charter and other international human rights
WHEN Reserve Bank of
Zimbabwe (RBZ) governor Gideon Gono took over the mantle from Leonard Tsumba
last December, many thought the distinguished banker and turnaround expert
had taken on a challenge that would do untold damage to his
Indeed, Gono himself would, in jest, ask the multitudes
who jostled to congratulate him on his appointment, if it was not more
appropriate for them to extend their commiserations.
eventful months on, the affable Gono's boundless energy has been emitted
throughout the financial sector, while his unfailing optimism has spilled
beyond the borders - to some of the most unlikely corridors
There is also an unmistakable stubborn resolution
and seriousness, nay, austerity, that belies the governor's outward bonhomie,
as most banking executives will testify.
Which is why Gono's
bold declaration during Tuesday's monetary policy review statement that "the
worst is over" did not elicit the sort of sniggers it most probably would
have just six months ago.
Yet the facts on the ground, coupled with
the trusted assessments of institutions such as the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) and South Africa's Stanbic Bank, do seem to give credence to the
The inflation scourge has since been decidedly tamed.
Monthly inflation, which peaked at 34 percent in November 2003, averaged 6.6
percent between February and June 2004.
peaked at an all-time high of 623 percent in January, but has since declined
by 228 percentage points to 394.6 percent as of June. RBZ officials and
neutrals alike believe the 200 percent year-end target is
"Relentless efforts will continue to be applied to
extinguish the inflation scourge from the economy in line with our targets of
200 percent by December 2004 and further down to double digits by mid- 2005,"
On the exchange rate front, the anticipated collapse of
the $824:1US$ surrender rate and the weighted average auction rate did not
materialise, much to the predictable chagrin of the exporting
While the revision of the diaspora floor rate, from $5
200 to $5 600 against the US$ is likely to see the auction rate creeping up
from the current $5 300, exporters are not likely to be
Instead, the RBZ has refined the carrot and stick export
retention scheme, effectively reducing the portion of export proceeds to
be surrendered to the central bank at the much-loathed official $824:1US$
Exporters making pre-payments will continue to retain 80
percent of their export proceeds in their foreign currency accounts (FCAs),
with the remainder being converted at the ruling auction rate.
Acquittals made within 30 days will now attract a 75 percent retention level,
with no funds liquidated at the official rate, meaning the remaining 25
percent will be converted at the ruling auction rate, currently about $5300
to the greenback.
Export proceeds acquitted within 31 to 60 days
will see exporters retaining 70 percent of their earnings in FCAs, while 15
percent will be converted at the official rate and the remainder at the
For acquittals made during the 61 to 90-day period,
exporters will retain 60 percent in their FCAs, while 15 percent is converted
at the official rate and 25 percent at the auction rate.
Separate conditions have been set for the horticulture sector,
whose acquittal periods have been compressed, while the sector has been rid
of the surrender arrangement at the official rate.
support price has been adjusted from $71 000 to $85 000 per gramme while
tobacco merchants have retained the right to keep 100 percent of their export
proceeds, to the extent of draw downs made on the relevant offshore
The new gold price roughly adds up to US$430 per ounce,
against the current international bullion price of US$394.
the banking sector, currently comprising of some 41 institutions, Gono
expressed satisfaction over the calming waters after the first
quarter tempest that threatened to sweep away several locally owned
"Out of the 41 banking institutions, five are under
curatorship, two under liquidation and four are still under the Troubled Bank
Fund, but we are pleased to report that as of yesterday (Monday) one bank
settled its obligation and is now out of the fund, leaving just
"On the balance, therefore, Zimbabwe's financial sector
remains highly stable, with 73 percent of banking institutions being in a
solid, safe and sound condition," Gono said.
information was let out concerning Trust Bank Corporation, which got over
$200 billion from the Troubled Bank Fund, but whose obligation to the RBZ has
since ballooned to about $1 trillion through interest charges, there was an
indication that the authorities were looking to resolve the issue and that of
other banks remaining on life support, in the next quarter.
While most economic players and analysts have been won over and bought into
the Gono prescription which, by his own admission, has some unorthodoxies not
to be found in economics journals and textbooks, it is also insightful to
note that some foreign investors are beginning to take a keen interest in
South African mining mogul and big deal maker, Mzilikazi
Khumalo, who was in attendance at the RBZ on Tuesday, professed to taking a
sunny view of the environment across the Limpopo.
"I must say
the governor has done very well in bringing about positive changes," said
Khumalo, who also revealed that his Metallon group, which owns the
Independence Gold Mining group, was looking at expanding its
Congolese businessman Kalaa Mpinga, who led
his Mwana Africa consortium in taking over the Zimbabwe Stock Exchange-listed
Bindura Nickel Corporation (BNC), was also in attendance and shared Khumalo's
optimism, doubtless impressed by another new RBZ innovation - the Accelerated
Foreign Direct Investment Window (AFDIW).
The window, which
opens with effect from September 1 and closes in December 2006, will have
several attractive concessions which include unfettered access to foreign
currency proceeds and full remittance of dividends in foreign
In the event of political risk, the investors will have
the option of activating emergency exit options, with the RBZ making
available foreign exchange equivalent to the original
The facility will apply to all new FDIs in
infrastructure development, mining, manufacturing and other agro-based
processing industries and export generating ventures.
Khumalo and Mpinga, who have given the novel initiative the thumbs up, could
well be just two swallows who cannot necessarily make a summer, they are two
big swallows who hold much sway and are some of the most significant among
the precious few foreign investors to commit funds to Zimbabwe in recent
The jury might well be out, but the verdict looks set to be
far from the certain failure many predicted when Gono became independent
Zimbabwe's third RBZ governor.
BULAWAYO - A
parliamentary portfolio committee tasked with assessing the current food
situation in the country nearly two months ago has not yet met, despite the
urgency of the matter.
And it is likely to be reconstituted, with
new members coming in, when Parliament resumes sitting on August
The 11-member portfolio committee on lands, agriculture,
water development, rural resources and resettlement, chaired by ZANU PF
Member of Parliament for Zhombe Daniel McKenzie Ncube, was tasked with
investigating the food situation in the country following conflicting reports
about the availability of grain.
The government, which has been
accused of playing politics of the stomach to force people to vote for the
ruling ZANU PF, claims that the country has enough food, while donors and the
West insist that Zimbabwe faces a massive deficit.
asked the committee to investigate the issue after Movement for Democratic
Change (MDC) shadow minister for agriculture Renson Gasela asked Agriculture
Minister Joseph Made to prove to the nation that Zimbabwe, a former regional
bread-basket-turned- basket-case, indeed had enough food.
government critics maintain should not be trusted as he has misled the nation
before over the country's food security situation, said the portfolio
committee, comprising two chiefs and four MDC members, could carry out its
Gasela, who is a member of the panel, said the
committee had not done anything yet because of the adjournment of Parliament.
He said it had, however, written to the Grain Marketing Board (GMB), the
country's granary, requesting information but the parastatal had not
"They probably don't have a reply because the
situation is pathetic," Gasela, a former general manager of the GMB who
joined the MDC after falling out with the government, said.
"Only last week I was in Mhangura, which is the hub of maize growing, and I
only noticed something like 10 000 tonnes. The depot there usually handles
between 50 000 and 60 000 tonnes and by this time it should have around 40
Gasela said the committee's work could be further
delayed because the panel was likely to be reconstituted when Parliament
resumes sitting. This meant that some members might be dropped, with others
coming in. But he would definitely be in the committee because of his
position as a shadow minister for agriculture.
about whether Zimbabwe has enough food or not has been tossed around since
the beginning of the current marketing year in April.
government said the country would harvest about 2.4 million tonnes of maize,
more than adequate for national consumption.
It allegedly stopped
the United Nations' World Food Programme (WFP) from carrying out an
assessment survey of the food situation, leading to an outcry from donors and
the West that Zimbabwe did not have enough grain but wanted to use the little
available as a political tool ahead of next year's election.
Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which was working in conjunction
with the WFP, said this year's maize harvest would only be 708 073 tonnes,
against a national requirement of 1.8 million tonnes.
would, therefore, have to import 995 927 tonnes and still remain with a
deficit of 315 927 tonnes.
The FAO/WFP figures were, however, based
on an assessment of three provinces, Mashonaland West, Manicaland and
Matabeleland North. The survey said 30-40 percent of the farmers would run
out of food from their own stocks by the end of this month
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS), a United
States Agency for International Development-funded programme, on the other
hand, said about 2.3 million people would require external food assistance
of about 178 000 tonnes.
It said 22 of the country's 57
districts had a deficit. Manicaland had the highest number of food-insecure
people while Mashonaland West had the least.
pointed out that absolute figures obscured the fact that the two Matabeleland
provinces had the highest proportion of food-insecure people in relation to
their total rural populations.
In his official opening of
Parliament last week, President Robert Mugabe insisted that the country had
"Regardless of what our detractors may be saying or
doing, the relatively good agricultural season has given full play to our
agricultural potential already enhanced by our land reforms," he
"Except in those parts of our country which are
traditionally susceptible to precarious harvests, we have, in the rest of the
country, managed to reap a good harvest, certainly one good enough to meet
our needs and food requirements until the next season."
editorial after President Mugabe's opening of Parliament, Voice of America,
said to reflect the views of the United States government, the major donor of
maize to Zimbabwe during the past few years, said: "Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe's
President, says he expects his country will produce more than enough food to
feed Zimbabweans this year, with enough left over for export. Mr Mugabe is
lying - and Zimbabweans will suffer the consequences."
budget deficit, which has averaged 10 percent of gross domestic product for
the past decade, shows no sign of abating unless swift remedial action is
taken against the government's insatiable appetite for funds.
Indications are that the government, facing competing demands on the fiscus,
is unlikely to bite the bullet and sate its appetite for spending, which has
fuelled inflation and a ballooning domestic debt.
rampant spending, worsened by the need to import food, fuel and fund
elections, is expected to widen the budget deficit beyond its $1.41 trillion
In his mid-term fiscal policy review, acting Finance
Minister Herbert Murerwa said the budget deficit stood at $678 billion after
the first half of the year, against a full-year target of $1.41
Economic analysts raised fears that public expenditure
would shoot beyond the target, citing the government's record of fiscal
indiscipline, the forthcoming elections and continued parcelling out of
billions of dollars to pathetically performing parastatals in the form of
Murerwa, who did not give details as to where the $678
billion had gone, hinted that the fiscus was under pressure from some
"While government remains committed to
prudent expenditure management, as demonstrated in the first half of the
year, the budget continues to be confronted by numerous requests for
additional unbudgeted funding.
"These are inconsistent with
government measures and targets to further lower inflation," Murerwa
Analysts said expenditure was still consumptive, with
insignificant funds being channelled towards capital
Parastatals are still draining the fiscus despite
assertions by the government it had stopped handouts.
Danny Meyer said the government's record of fiscal discipline was
Meyer said the government had failed to respect budgets
for over a decade, contributing to Zimbabwe's economic woes.
Analysts have been calling for a budget that reins in government spending
while giving direction to the country's long-rudderless economy.
"This is the same government which has failed to spend within its limits. I
do not see them changing now, especially considering that they are fighting
for political survival," Meyer said.
Previous finance ministers
have been reluctant to give handouts to parastatals, yet the leadership in
those companies is still assured of funding and has not curtailed
The government's reckless spending is despite the
country's worst economic crisis ever, characterised by chronic foreign
currency shortages, a 70 percent unemployment rate and record inflation,
which peaked at 623 percent in January but has since slowed down to around
Apart from slashing expenditure, the finance ministry
should punish errant ministries for budget overruns, one of the chief causes
of Zimbabwe's economic woes, the analysts said.
show that it has teeth and that it can bite. Culprits have to face the risk
of losing their jobs if expenditure is to be controlled," Meyer
He warned the government and monetary authorities of the risk
of becoming "big brother waiting with a fat cheque book to bail
out parastatals, perennial crybabies".
The government has shown
little inclination towards development of roads, dams and street lighting.
Even government offices are in a state of great disrepair, with little
renovation being undertaken.
But it has insisted that an economic
turnaround was on the cards, though critics dispute this assertion, saying
there was no evidence of a recovery.
The economy is expected to
shrink by 8.5 percent in 2004. It has been contracting at an average rate of
10 percent during the past three years.
Tony Hawkins of the
University of Zimbabwe's Graduate of School of Business accused the
government of not divulging its expenditure patterns.
unbudgeted expenses were one reason why the government ended up in budget
Trust Holdings group economist David Mupamhadzi noted
that while the government, for the past six months, had managed to spend
below target, the overall performance of parastatals was still a cause for
State-controlled enterprises have been shying away from
the productive sector funding introduced by the central bank to bail out
"The challenge is for the fiscus to balance political
and economic considerations. It also depends on the overall performance on
revenue side, behaviour of inflation and whether ministries are not going to
come and ask for supplementary budgets," Mupamhadzi said.
the major worry is the performance of parastatals. So far only four have
applied to utilise productive sector finance," he said.
are shying away from the productive sector facility mostly because their
accounts have not been audited for the past four years.
Bloch, an economic commentator who sits on the central bank advisory board,
concurred that the government was spending very little on capital
Bloch said the health, education and foreign affairs
ministries were gobbling most of the money.
The analysts said a
return to the rule of law and market-driven policies would attract
international assistance, which might curb the government's over-reliance on
the domestic financial sector.
WITH the economy suffering ill
health, the imminent collapse of key economic sub-sectors such as the
erstwhile premier hard currency earner, tobacco, can be frightening to say
the least. The local tobacco industry, mainly geared for the unmanufactured
international leaf market, had up until recently, established a wonderful
footprint on the international markets where it had had a reputation for
Despite the intensifying international anti-smoking lobby,
Zimbabwean tobacco has for a long time enjoyed something akin to a captive
market. There has always been a gap for the local leaf, especially for
blending purposes by international cigarette manufacturers. But now there
is understandable growing concern over the swift terrifying decline in
tobacco production, which has traditionally been the country's major earner
of the greenback - in demand as the reserve currency worldwide.
The crop, which at its peak earned the country in excess of US$600 million
per season, will at most earn just about a quarter of that this year. This
makes for some pretty dismal reading especially at this irksome moment for
the country coming as it does against a background of an accelerated slowdown
in overall export performance. Previously exports made up mainly of tobacco,
horticultural products, cotton and gold among other commodities, accounted
for a very significant proportion of the country's gross domestic product
But how the pendulum has frighteningly swung too far the
other way. The golden leaf has lost its lustre and now faces an uncertain
outlook. The critical tobacco sub-sector's faltering fortunes is a microcosm
of the shrunken state of the whole of the agriculture sector - the engine
that once powered Zimbabwe's previously robust economy, which is now
entrenched in stagflation - where rising inflation is accompanied by static
industrial production and or falling employment levels.
therefore goes without saying that the decline in tobacco production in
particular and agriculture in general will have serious ramifications for the
country's economy struggling to break out from the doldrums - especially
where a strong export performance could be the electric jolt needed to light
up the fuse for the seemingly elusive early economic recovery.
Indeed cynics and those opposed to the approach, style and form of the land
reform would say that the unfolding but deep-seated crisis in
the agricultural sector reads more like a chronicle of a catastrophe
foretold. Before the deeply embarrassing and retrogressive multiple farm
allocation debacle, the government had been warned that it should strike a
careful balance between legal security and economic flexibility to provide
optimum opportunity to achieve the objectives of equitable land
redistribution. This approach would not only economically empower the
historically marginalised blacks but also ensure the safety and survival of
the goose that lays the golden egg. Instead, government dismissed this as a
see-through red herring by those caught between reality and insecurity in the
face of the agrarian reforms and political detractors bent on cooking its own
However, that the imminent collapse of the tobacco industry
will send seismic disturbances throughout the fragile economy which has since
lost crucial balance-of-payments support when the International Monetary
Fund (IMF) slammed the door on it over policy differences, is an
understatement of significant proportions. Not only that but also of concern
is that these developments bode ill for the country as a reliable tobacco
In fact, at the risk of stating the obvious, we have to
point out that international confidence in Zimbabwe as a reliable supplier
has since evaporated. That explains why key traditional international buyers
for the golden leaf are already casting around for alternative producers for
a guaranteed supply. These international tobacco buyers need a
guaranteed supply because they are in for the long haul. They do not buy the
crop on an ad hoc basis.
This is why they are looking elsewhere
for fear of being wrong-footed in the event of the now sickly local tobacco
industry collapsing. And given this scenario, a return to a normal
relationship with these long-established lucrative international markets will
not only be difficult but lengthy.
Opinions on the reason for this
disturbing trend in the tobacco industry and the frightening situation it has
put us in are starkly divided but the one that has gained a lot of currency
is directly linked to the land reform which even the government has since
admitted is riddled with irregularities. The law of the unintended
consequences took hold when the controversy-tinged land reform, ostensibly
meant to address historic injustices and inequality is now threatening the
very existence of a once vibrant sub-sector. This is why it is imperative for
the country's authorities to expedite sorting out the mess in the
scandal-tainted land reform programme to return the agricultural sector to
its pre-crisis levels. It is high time President Robert Mugabe moved beyond
rhetoric into action and dealt with the uncouth and self-centred land
grabbers. Otherwise the widely expected bottoming out of the economy could be
this time last year, the sensibilities of television viewers around the world
were constantly assaulted by images of the crisis in Liberia.
The pictures flashed around the world via satellite television at the height
of the madness in that country did not make a pretty sight.
Taylor's ragtag and trigger-happy army was at its most brutal as it fought to
keep the strongman in power.
As the drug-crazed soldiers and the
rebels opposed to Taylor confronted each other, it was not unusual to see
innocent civilians caught in the throes of death.
Who can ever
forget the sight of the corpses of innocent Liberian civilians sprawled in
pools of their own blood on the dilapidated streets of Monrovia?
As an African, I cringed in embarrassment at this senseless carnage and
mayhem. For the umpteenth time in my life, I was ashamed to be an African.
Not because my mind has been ''colonised'' and I have adopted Western
imperialist values. I was ashamed because I knew the lives of fellow human
beings were being sacrificed at the altar of the vanity, greed and power
hunger of one man - Charles Taylor.
Under intense international
pressure, Taylor was eventually forced to relinquish power and go into exile
in Nigeria. But imagine how many lives he would have saved and how much
suffering he would have prevented if he had, of his own accord, put the
interests of his people above his own.
A year after the
embarrassment of Liberia, the world is once again being forced to watch
another African horror movie. It has the same plot and the same tragic
ingredients of mass misery and hunger, death and trigger-happy militias hired
to do the government's dirty work.
These are the Janjaweed. What an
appropriate name to describe an evil that needs to be exorcised and weeded
out of the fabric of African society!
Violent militia groups going
by that arrogant name have caused untold suffering to the people of the
western Darfur region of Sudan. About one million people now live in subhuman
and squalid conditions after being driven away from their homes by these Arab
The United Nations has described the desperate situation
in this part of Africa as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world today.
It is one more example of a dictatorial African government failing its own
people by sacrificing their human rights, security and dignity at the altar
of self-interest and self-preservation.
Once more, innocent
civilians, particularly women and children, are bearing the brunt of this
senseless violence. The Sudanese government's assertions that it is not
sponsoring these barbaric and anarchic militias are totally
The government's failure to fulfil an undertaking
made to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan and United States
Secretary of State Colin Powell to disarm the Janjaweed raises many
For example, how can private militia gangs master the
logistics to displace one million people and a national government is
incapable of moving in to protect the same people? Why is such a government
If there is a lesson to be learned by governments
elsewhere in Africa that sponsor and equip militias to commit atrocities
against the general population, it is that they create monsters they may
eventually be unable to contain and control. How can violent gangs that are
encouraged to simply follow their impulses in seizing whatever they want be
expected to ever be bound by societal norms again?
have been accused of committing all the usual atrocities associated with
government-sponsored militias everywhere - mass killings and harassment of
civilians perceived to be enemies of the regime in power, rape, torture,
arson, looting and intimidation.
It is difficult to see what
private militia gangs not being paid by someone would gain from committing
these crimes for months or even years.
Some commentators have
suggested that rape and other forms of sexual abuse have been used on such a
massive scale in Darfur that they should be classified as war crimes. In
fact, I think that move is long overdue as sexual abuse and violence against
women are routinely used as campaign tools by unpopular African dictators who
know they cannot win elections without resorting to terror and repression.
These tyrants should not be allowed to continue to resort to these barbaric
and perverse methods to cling to power.
It would seem that none of
the undemocratic and despotic leaders are learning any lessons from the case
of Taylor, who has been indicted for war crimes and crimes against
This could be because despite his troubles, Taylor is
living comfortably in exile in Nigeria. The idea of making a tyrannical
leader face legal retribution for his past misdeeds should be to deter other
But the fact that for a second time in a
year, Western intervention is required to rescue an African population in the
face of the incumbent government's impotence highlights the need to expedite
the prosecution of errant leaders.
These selfish leaders cannot
have it both ways. They cannot continue to spit strident rhetoric against
Western governments such as the United States and Britain when these
countries show more concern for the welfare of suffering populations such as
the people of the Darfur region.
The Sudanese government's
catatonic response to a crisis of such magnitude and gravity can only mean
one thing: it is hamstrung by its complicity with the Janjaweed militias in
unleashing a reign of terror on its own people.
it is not the only African government guilty of this kind of brutal
ZANU PF can be cruel. It can be cruel to hell
and back, if one does not care to study it carefully.
poor squatters at Whitecliffe Farm just outside Harare and they will tell you
to trust this revolutionary party at your own peril.
When the land
seizures started in 2000, hundreds of families invaded Whitecliffe Farm and
disrupted a medium-density project that was already under way at this private
property. Over the next four years, ZANU PF continued encouraging them to
move and squat at the farm, pretending to be sympathising with them as the
. . . . Until last week when, after realising that
they had been used enough and were no longer of any value, the party
descended on the poor squatters and told them to leave the property, pronto.
Never mind how much they had invested on their shacks during their four-year
squat on the farm.
This is the real face of the ZANU PF we
Surely the poor squatters should be feeling like
political condoms -used and then discarded. We told them, so they only have
their grandmothers to blame!
And at the weekend Tambaoga had
to run for dear life from one night spot in Harare's Cranborne suburb after
he had provoked the otherwise happy patrons with his nauseating "ZESA yauya
zvine power" jingle while on stage.
For the record, he had not been
contracted to perform at this nightclub. No.
What happened was
that he was on a drinking binge with one Andy Brown and they passed through
this nightclub where a resident band was playing. Feeling the need to shed
some rust accruing from increasing redundancy, the two begged to be allowed
to play a few tunes from their not-so-popular music. And they were allowed.
And they played.
After Brown left the stage, Tambaoga thought the
patrons were not yet bored enough with his new ZESA jingle and he decided to
give them one extra dose.
Just as he started the jingle, the
patrons were on him, baying for his liver . . . and you never saw such
madness. The owner of the club had to intervene to help the clown make good
his escape. Hope he learned something!
And last week, CARE International, a global relief
agency, was under fire from "Zimbabweans" and analysts for allegedly trying
to sabotage our agrarian reform by giving some farmers in Masvingo province
barren sorghum seed last season.
The "Zimbabweans" and analysts
took turns on our TV screens to excoriate the NGO for all crimes that one may
Representing business analysts in the noise was none
other than CZ's brother, Cde Augustine Timbe, that glory-seeker who, like
William Nhara, Nhlanhla Masuku, Claude Maredza and such other characters, is
always more than ready to comment on anything under the sun.
Asked what was the way forward on this genuine mistake for which the NGO has
already unreservedly apologised, Cde Timbe went to great lengths to lecture
the nation about the British, the Americans, the Commonwealth, the former
white commercial farmers and all those imaginary enemies of Zimbabwe, but in
the end said literally nothing.
CZ expected Cde Timbe, as an
advertised super-patriot, to suggest that the solution to such a crisis lay
squarely on Zimbabweans ceasing to be proud of being an alms begging
Anyway, it was surprising to see Agriculture Minister
Joseph Made and others rushing to lay terms and conditions under which any
other NGOs would operate in the future! In all his life, CZ has never heard
of beggars setting conditions on their benefactors!
Last week there was a story on ZTV about police
cleaning up the Avenues area of all prostitutes - men and women
In the story, Police Commissioner Augustine Chihuri said the
police were arresting women who loitered in the area at night
"dressed suggestively". One female reporter seemed to have personally taken
offence at the use of the term "suggestively" and went on to quote unnamed
women's groups crying victimisation. The reporter went on to reveal that
"a prominent female personality" had been humiliated by police in the
same Avenues area.
Now, here is the full story: The reporter
should just have told viewers that, in fact it was her colleague, a presenter
on ZTV, who was recently nabbed by police while conducting her business from
her prolific hunting grounds - the Avenues.
CZ can reveal that
the presenter is a hopeless case. She has a well-documented history of
frequenting the Avenues ever since the time she was doing her MassComm at a
local tertiary institution where, it is reliably understood, that together
with her friends - some of whom are now doing it full-time abroad - she was
notorious for stripping naked in the Avenues.
CZ is told the
hippo-like lady was unable to report for work on time because she was in a
filthy police cell, making arrangements to pay a well-deserved fine for
loitering for the purpose of prostitution.
The fact that the lady -
one of the many suspected to have earned their qualifications "in kind"- is
now a presenter at our only broadcaster does not change her . . . moreso when
the broadcaster is not only notorious for paying measly salaries, but also
for paying those slave salaries on the 45th of every month!
Still on the Avenues, there are fears that with this novel idea of publishing
culprits' names in the Press, some people will no longer give their correct
names, but may choose to use their war names or others' names. Once a name is
soiled in this manner, it is difficult to clean!
Has anyone ever followed the so- called news on our ZTV?
Ever noticed that Newsnet's correspondent in Manicaland, one Nathaniel
Mlambo, covers nothing other than the governor Mike Nyambuya, the general of
the DRC war, who seems to love publicity like nobody's business.
"He-eeh the Governor and Resident Minister has woken up . . . he-eeh the
Governor and Resident Minister has had breakfast . . . he-eeh the Governor
and Resident Minister has a brown jacket . . !"
Is the governor the
only newsworthy subject in the whole big province to report on? Was the
fellow specifically assigned to quench the soldier's thirst for publicity? We
And by the way, why is it that on its boring Toringepi
programme, ZTV is almost always screening a certain Chief Chitsa of Masvingo
who was interviewed by Johannes Nyamayedenga ages ago? Is this Chief Chitsa
fellow the only chief in this country, especially when we are told there are
close to 300 happy chiefs?
CZ cannot help but commiserate
with a personal colleague of his, the editor of The Voice, ZANU PF's weekly
propaganda mouthpiece, over the latest savage verbal attack by the Department
of Information in the Office of the Great Uncle and his War
The attack came as a bolt from the blue to all
Zimbabweans, as it was only expected during the days of The Daily News, but
lo and behold, the ruling party's own mouthpiece is now being branded a
The Voice, a ZANU PF publication, correctly reported that
there were discussions going on between the ruling party and the main
opposition, the MDC, on electoral reforms. But the revulsion which came with
the denial from the Information Department shocked everyone, its composers
"Quite how a party organ leads with a story exclusively
sourced from the secretary-general of an opposition party so dramatically
different and opposed to it boggles the mind and makes nonsense of militant
partisanship, itself a defining hallmark of a political party paper . . . A
mere reversal of this act of treacherous generosity, that is, expecting an
MDC organ to lead with a voice from ZANU PF, brings out the horror of this
journalistic infamy by a recently appointed editor who must be ideologically
confused," fumed the Information Department.
It is clear from
the venom in the statement that it was not aimed at the young editor - but
his godfathers, who happen to be on the wrong side of the ongoing
multiple-farm ownership war.
CZ says to his embattled editor
friend: this is a sorry apology for a start . . . he better finds another job
like yesterday, otherwise . . . !
But this is too unfair
considering how much the young man has soiled his otherwise good name toiling
hard for the party . . . does Munyaradzi Huni learn something from this
The Kongonya Dance Party has started . . . Let it
Axe falls on Agribank staff for abuse of $60b loan facility
for new farmers
Felix Njini 7/29/2004 8:01:26 AM (GMT
THE state-owned Agricultural Bank of Zimbabwe (Agribank) has
initiated criminal proceedings against individuals and bank staff involved
in mismanagement and abuse of the $60 billion loan facility set up for
new farmers under the government's land reform programme.
The axe has already fallen on some of the workers who were
implicated following investigations, held at the instigation of the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ), which unravelled at total of 186 fraud cases at the
Agribank chief executive officer Sam Malaba told The
Financial Gazette that some workers involved in advancing loans to
undeserving applicants have already been fired.
He said that the
bank had also tasked the police to open dockets against some staff members
and loan recipients caught in the corruption net.
assessments by the RBZ indicated that up to $1.2 billion had been
misappropriated from the fund.
The $60 billion fund injected by the
government into Agribank, is reported to have benefited about 10 000
applicants, inclusive of the reported 186 fraud cases.
said the bank's audit team was carrying out farm visits to assess whether
loan recipients used the money for the stated,
Malaba, who intimated that the audit was
ongoing, said that the bank had forwarded names of some of the people caught
in the net to the police for criminal prosecution.
action is being taken and we are focusing on those who got funds through
forged documents or connivance with bank staff. Some of the recipients
channelled the funds to non-farming uses and we will be targeting those
people," Malaba said.
He said that the audit team was also
investigating links between some staff members and bank clients.
"When the funds were released, Agribank was not ready to disburse the money.
There was virtually no IT (information technology) system, no vehicles but
the situation has improved now," Malaba.
ZIMBABWE requires five
years to restore the tobacco industry to its former glory, analysts
Industry players said the tobacco sector, Zimbabwe's
one-time principal foreign currency earner which has fallen behind mining,
had been hammered almost beyond repair.
have now shifted their attention to nascent regional tobacco-growing
competitors such as Zambia and Malawi, which are taking steps to ramp up
The industry players noted that tobacco would this
year generate less than 25 percent of the foreign currency raised five years
ago before the eviction of white farmers from their land.
said the state of the tobacco industry would reflect and contribute to an
overall contraction in the economy.
Tobacco output has been
declining sharply, eroding gains achieved over decades - before the
government unleashed chaos on the farms under its controversial land reform
programme. This was after it lost a constitutional referendum in February
The downward trend in ouput has been despite an increase in
the number of farmers in the industry.
The Tobacco Industry and
Marketing Board (TIMB) says 46.5 million kilogrammes at an average price of
US2.01c per kg have been sold so far this year, compared to 48.6 million kgs
at an average price of US216c per kg sold during the same period last
TIMB statistics show that weekly throughput was on the
decline, with more than two-thirds of the estimated crop having been
Zimbabwe has traditionally enjoyed the position of second
largest tobacco exporter after Brazil on the international
The country's seasonal export volumes up to the end of June
2004 were 37 000 tonnes, valued at US$122.5 million. Tobacco merchants had to
import the golden leaf from neighbouring countries to cover up for the
deficit from a reduced domestic crop, the TIMB said.
Mozambique and South Africa have become the major suppliers of foreign
tobacco, new sources of tobacco imports have been established in Bangladesh,
Madagascar and Vietnam," it said.
The Tobacco Reporter of June 2004
says multinational tobacco companies were increasingly shifting their
attention to neighbouring countries. Major companies such as Dimon were
channelling millions of dollars towards growers to fund crop inputs, barn
construction and technical advice.
In Malawi, production of
flue-cured tobacco has almost doubled from 13.5 million kgs to about 22
million kgs in 2004. The country's burley tobacco output is estimated at
about 122 million kgs, up from 102.7 million kgs in 2003.
Zambian Tobacco Association has said it plans to quadruple its flue-cured
tobacco volumes in the next 10 years, from 5.8 million kgs in 2002 and seven
million kgs last year to 28 million kgs in 2010.
production, which was earlier estimated at 12 million kgs, is now expected to
be around 15 million kgs, with the next crop target at 22 million
The Zambian government is offering incentives to investors,
including 15 percent corporate tax instead of a standard 35
The Tobacco Reporter reports that Zambian tobacco farmers
are allowed to carry over losses for a period of five years.
Tobacco merchants sponsoring farmers in Zambia include Dimon Zambia, Stancom,
Zambia Leaf, a subsidary of Universal Leaf Tobacco Company, and assistance is
in the form of inputs such as seed, chemicals, fertilisers and techincal
"The tobacco industry is going to recover but it is going
to take more than five years. New farmers have limitations in terms of
capitalisation and knowledge of the industry," said economist Rungai
"It would have been good for the government to appreciate
the progress which had been made in developing the industry before it started
evicting commercial farmers," said Chizema.
He said the sector
had lost 50 percent of growth achieved from 1990 to 2000 in a period of four
"The sector has lost 50 percent of the growth generated
during the past 10 years," he said.
The drop in ouput is despite
a sharp rise in the number of tobacco growers. In 1990, the country had 1 493
commercial tobacco farmers growing on an average 59 425 hectares. About 133.8
million kgs of tobacco were sold in 1990, according to statistics from the
Zimbabwe Tobacco Association (ZTA).
The number of growers rose
to 8 531 in 2000 when a record crop of 237 million kgs of tobacco was
produced on 84 893 hectares. Latest statistics indicate that the country now
has 12 700 tobacco farmers growing on an average 41 hectares. The projected
output is 60 million kgs.
For the past 10 years, farmers have been
averaging 2 600 kgs per hectare but the average yield per hectare has fallen
to 1 500 kg.
"Output has been coming down faster and the big
question is: why are we not surpassing the 2000 record output?" queried
James de la Fargue, the new ZTA president, told The
Financial Gazette last week that the country was losing more of next year's
production, with both large- and small-scale farmers quitting the
De la Fargue said underutilisation of tobacco irrigation
and curing capacity accounted for the largest slice of loss in production,
with access to finance being the final blow to recovery prospects for the
He noted that while Zimbabwe had been losing prduction,
regional competitors and countries such as Brazil were raising their
"We are going to have to work doubly hard to
refine our markets, and again the only entry is in flavoured tobacco," De la
ABOUT 60 percent of
Zimbabwe's economy has been informalised and is now outside
Analysts say the descent of the
country into a grey economy calls for a widening of rules to incorporate
informal elements that have completely supplanted the formal sector as the
nucleus of business activity.
An official in the Ministry of
Finance and Economic Development responsible for economic policy formulation
said the rationalisation of institutions was an indispensable prerequisite
for the formalisation of both the financial and other sectors.
He said because of this realisation, the government, with effect from January
this year, had transferred the licensing and regulation of asset management
firms, micro-finance institutions and real estate agencies to the Reserve
Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ).
The aim, he said, was to remove economic
distortions and counteract the moral hazards associated with rapid
Informal traders, small-scale manufacturers,
micro-finance institutions, asset management firms and real estate agencies
are some of the entities that have been accused of resisting measures to
formalise their operations.
In its analysis of last year's
crisis, which spilled over into the new year, the RBZ noted that much of the
speculative activity that had triggered an inflation spiral had been fuelled
by asset management firms dealing in property, and micro-finance institutions
whose lending practices were exerting pressure on interest and mortgage
Chakanyuka Mangwiro, an economic analyst, blamed the harsh
political and volatile macroeconomic environment for Zimbabwe's rapid
informalisation, saying these had destroyed business confidence.
"The informalisation of the economy has resulted in the stagnation
of long-term capital projects - the very drivers of economic growth.
Tax revenues fund public utilities. The fact that a greater proportion of
the economy is now in the informal sector means a contraction in tax
revenues because the informal sector does not pay tax.
irony, however, is that the informal sector enjoys the benefits of tax
revenues in the form of the infrastructure they use, but the sector itself
does not pay tax. As a result, the growth of the informal sector is linked to
infrastructure decay," Mangwiro said.
He said the country had
experienced zero employment creation and severe job losses since the shift in
trade policy from protectionism towards liberalisation.
Zimbabwe's jobless rate is estimated to be more than 70 percent.
the past two years alone, more than 100 asset management firms
and micro-finance institutions mushroomed and they reaped super
Peter Mwipikeni, another analyst, said the swift
informalisation of the economy served as a measure of institutional
bottlenecks standing in the way of development.
are a yardstick of growth. In fact, they are a precondition for economic
growth because they define the environment in which business is conducted. No
business, remember, operates in a vacuum," Mwipikeni said.
added: "Once the institutional framework collapses, then businesses will
inevitably collapse because institutions are a safety net against
moral hazards such as anarchy and gross lack of business confidence, the kind
of circumstances that we have been experiencing for seven years in
Current RBZ policies, he said, represented an
attempt to "formalise" banks, with a view to creating an ideal framework to
regulate financial practice.
He added that monetary and fiscal
policy supplements due to be presented by the RBZ and the finance ministry
should attempt to tackle the informalisation problem.
Callisto Madavo, the Zimbabwean who is the vice president of the World Bank
responsible for Africa, said the country's economic future still looked bleak
and predicted that its negative growth trend would continue in spite of the
Madavo, a United States-trained economic expert who has
been with the World Bank since 1969, has indicated that nothing short of
political change would rescue Zimbabwe from its present economic rut.
percent of Zimbabwe's five million beef cattle are now classified as communal
after the controversial fast-track land reform programme.
Speaking at the launch of a commercialisation of hides and skins project held
at Mupandaki Business Centre held in Shurugwi last week, Ernest Mupunga
-regional director of Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG)
Southern Africa - said the majority of Zimbabwe's beef cattle are now in the
communal and resettlement areas.
"Last year we did an animal census
and we established that there are over five million beef cattle and 90
percent of these are communal," Mupu-nga said.
Institute of Zimbabwe (LIZ) also carried out an animal stock census in 2003
and established that over 90 percent of the country's national herd was now
Before the country's agrarian land reform programme, the
commercial herd was estimated to be about 30 percent of the total, while the
communal herd was 70 percent.
The commercial herd has since
fallen by 20 percent to a mere10 percent.
This decline in
commercial herd figures has also corresponded with the fall in commercial
hides used by the leather industry.
The leather industry used to
rely on the commercial hides because their high quality, compared to the
ITDG, together with the LIZ last week launched a
project seeking to enhance the quality of hides from the communal
Under the project, the two associations will teach the
communal farmers slaughter, flaying and preservation techniques of hides and
has also set up slaughter houses in Mutoko, Hwedza, Gokwe and Shurugwi
Project manager, Ina Mozhendi said the ITDG expected the
project to educate the farmers on good slaughter techniques and enhance the
quality of hides they produce.
"We hope that this project will
help in educating the farmers in good slaughter techniques that will give
quality hides for our leather industry," Mozhendi said.
added that similar projects were being run in Malawi, Botswana
Special Correspondent 7/29/2004 8:23:39 AM (GMT +2)
the past 18 or so months, some opposition parties, particularly the Movement
for Democratic Change (MDC) have been sending conflicting signals regarding
their intentions over Zimbabwe's forthcoming general elections, scheduled for
The hawks in the party have been vociferously
advocating an outright boycott of the elections claiming that, in the absence
of a new constitution and with electoral laws still so blatantly skewed and
open to manipulation by the government in favour of the ruling party, it is
virtually impossible for any opposition party to win an
It is fair to state that, with the government's proposed
amendments to the electoral law, though not exactly far-reaching enough, this
argument has been overtaken by events.
Indeed the proposed
reforms, already approved by the ruling party's politburo, must have taken
the wind out of these nay-sayers' sails. Among the more salient of these
proposals are that:
a.. elections will be held over one day
b.. voting will take place at neutral
c.. counting will be done at the polling
d.. ballot boxes will be translucent and
e.. the seven-member committee that will supervise the poll
will be nominated by Parliament - and not by the President. It is not
altogether wishful thinking to suggest that if the MDC could do as well as it
did in the June 2000 elections when all the above safeguards against rigging
were not in place, surely it can do a lot better this time
The more diplomatic among senior officials in the MDC such
as the party's secretary-general Welshman Ncube, official spokesman Paul
Themba Nyathi and the party's legal chief, David Coltart, have maintained
the position that the party is leaving its options open. What they are
saying, in effect, is probably that it is unwise to take a firm decision
either way to the effect that the party will participate or boycott the
elections when politically the country is in such a state of flux; that it is
premature to take any concrete position and that it is best to wait until,
metaphorically speaking, one comes to the bridge before deciding whether or
not to cross it.
Understandably, most political commentators
have tended to take the view that this is the best attitude to adopt and
argue that to take a firm position either way could prove tricky for the
party should conditions change drastically overnight, as is quite possible in
politics, when it is too close to the polls to restrategise
They also say that to show enthusiasm for the election
runs counter to the pressure that must be maintained to force the government
to level the political playing field before we get to the
Being non-committal, they believe, is the best policy in
a world totally consumed by the need for diplomacy. These are the people who,
no doubt, are not too enamoured by the dour warnings from the likes of
the sharp-witted late United States President John Fitzgerald Kennedy that
"the hottest places in hell are reserved for those who, in times of moral
crisis, maintain their neutrality".
Moreover, they argue, it is
the hallmark of astuteness for a politician to be always conscious of the
fact that strategising in politics is like playing a game of poker where it
is for ever prudent to play one's cards as close to one's chest as
But while there are obvious advantages in that approach
such as, for example, the ever-present element of surprise based on the fact
that you would be keeping your opponents constantly guessing, never knowing
for certain whether you are going to feign with the right and strike with
the left or vice versa -or whether you are going to strike at all in fact
- there also are disadvantages.
The most debilitating of these
disadvantages lies in the fact that that approach inevitably breeds
uncertainty among the generality of the party's entire membership. It doesn't
end there. Further, that state of uncertainty in the party can have a
devastatingly enervating effect on the party's activists, robbing them of
that vital energy so essential in their day-to-day task of trying to whip up
more support and a greater enthusiasm to go out in force to vote for the
party among the electorate.
Clearly anxious to placate restive
party supporters throughout the country in general and those in his Bulawayo
South constituency in particular, Coltart recently tried to soothe jaded
nerves by urging them, through his constituency newsletter, to steam ahead
full throttle in their preparation for the elections. But party members'
enthusiasm could never have been buoyed by the obvious damper that "the
decision to contest will be left until the very last minute".
that same report, Coltart was said to have used the analogy of a football
team with an important fixture arranged for it some time in the near future
as a guide in the attitude his party's members ought to take regarding the
He reportedly said that although it might be
harbouring serious misgivings regarding certain conditions surrounding the
match which its management were convinced put them at a disadvantage, "the
team will train as hard as possible all the same and only decide on the day
of the match whether to play or not", having assessed, to its satisfaction,
whether the referee can be trusted to be impartial and whether the playing
field is level enough.
That pep-talk doesn't seem to have fired
anybody with a lot of enthusiasm. If anything, it appears to have rendered
the party's activists even more lethargic, which is perfectly understandable
considering that nobody wants to invest their precious time, energy and money
in a venture whose principals are uncertain will take off at all to start
with, let alone succeed.
The end result of all this is that,
come election time, the party will be caught hopelessly ill-prepared to go
into the fight and deliver any meaningful punches at all. Thus, it is to
state the obvious to say that that neutral stance is eminently
counterproductive to the MDC's electoral interests.
logical thing for the MDC to do is, therefore, to take a stand one way or the
other. In other words the party must come out into the open and state
categorically that "we will contest the elections" or "we will not
participate in the elections".
If it were a decision involving
anything else which is not an election, one would have advised them to
announce the latter. This would be in line with the sage advice that,
whenever you are faced with a situation where you have no choice but to make
an immediate decision in the form of either a "yes" or a "no", it is better
to say no than to say yes for the simple reason that it is a lot easier to
change a "no" into a "yes" than it is to change a "yes" into a
In this case, however, it is a decision to do with elections
that must be taken and so, as Job Sikhala and everyone else who has suffered
directly or indirectly because of their support for the MDC since the year
2000 has been saying, boycotting the election cannot be an
It cannot be an option because it would be the ultimate
betrayal of not only those who suffered but also of those who, over the
past four-and-a-half years, have been maimed or killed because of their
actual or perceived support for the MDC.
The sooner the MDC does
the sensible thing and announces that it will participate in the March 2005
election the better it would be, not just for the MDC and its supporters but
for the people of Zimbabwe as a whole. Of course the MDC was demanding and is
still demanding more electoral law reforms, and quite rightly
Ideally, too, it would have been much better if a new
constitution were to be put in place before we got to those elections. But
the attitude that it will have to be either the whole loaf or nothing at all
is, quite frankly, a pie in the sky.
Rather the attitude ought
to be that half a loaf is better than nothing.
A start has been
made, and one which could make a whole lot of a difference to the outcome of
next year's elections. And that, to any reasonable person, is what is